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Islamic World News ( 2 Jun 2022, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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Global Terrorist Group ISIS Has 66 Known Indian-Origin Fighters: US Report On Terrorism

New Age Islam News Bureau

03 June 2022

 

Representative Image/ File

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• Attacks on Religious Minorities in India Occurred Throughout 2021, Alleges US State Department Report

• US Says Some Indian Officials Support Religious Attacks

• Biden to Visit Former 'Pariah' Saudi Arabia This Month: Reports

• Imran Khan Juxtaposes His Decision to Call off Long March with Hudaybiyyah Agreement

 India

• RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat: “There Is No Need to look for a Shivling in Every Mosque”

• Ensure Headcount of Rohingyas, Bangladeshis and Muslims with 3 Wives & 15-20 Children: Bihar Minister

• Notices to Centre, ASI over Idols of Hindu Deities 'Buried' In Agra Mosque

• Planning Underway To Remove Dangling Part Of Jama Masjid Finial: Shahi Imam

• "No Muslim Man Should Marry 3 Woman", Says Assam Chief Minister

• No backchannel talks with Pakistan, clarifies India

• Jammu and Kashmir: Terrorists fire at two labourers in Budgam district, 1 dead

• ‘No Muslim man should marry 3 women’: Assam CM Himanta Biswa

• 'Safe' postings of choice for non-Muslim teachers, other education department staff in J&K

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North America

• US highlights China, Russia, Myanmar violations in religious freedom report

• US envoy to UN thanks Türkiye for role in humanitarian aid to Syria

• Congressman says US foreign policy has ‘blind spot’ on Israel-Palestine conflict

• US will join Europe to back IAEA resolution against Iran: State Department

• Biden welcomes truce extension in Yemen

• Afghans evacuated to Albania protest for faster move to US

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Pakistan

• Shehbaz Sharif livid as Imran Khan says Pakistan will split into three

• Pak: China Banks to Give $2.3 Billion Funding To Boost Foreign Reserves

• Cabinet committee deliberates filing sedition charges against Imran Khan

• Google launches suicide hotline for Pakistan

• Two Pakistanis held by FIA for alleged involvement in human smuggling, secretly filming women in Turkey

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Europe

• Australia’s First Muslim Federal Ministers Anne Aly and Ed Husic Hope Appointments Mark ‘New Era’ Of Inclusivity

• Over 1,000 anti-Muslim attacks reported in Austria in 2021

• Muslim doctor on Queen's Birthday Honours list urges UK govt to help poor families

• Though recognized as terror group, PKK openly maintains dangerous foothold in Europe

• Anti-Extremism Prevent Strategy 'Failing To Engage Muslim Communities'

• Russia urges Turkey to ‘refrain from actions’ which could escalate tensions in Syria

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South Asia

• Mullah Yaqoub Wants Cordial Bilateral Ties with India

• India reminds Pakistan of its 'shameful history' of genocide in Bangladesh

• Security concerns leave Afghan evacuees stuck in Balkan camp

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Southeast Asia

• 'Shariah-Compliant Commission Needed for Muslim Country like Malaysia'

• Malaysia ranks first again in global Muslim travel index amid 'fragile' events

• Najib hits back at criticism of false claims on income inequality

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Africa

• Tunisian Judges’ Association Calls President Saied’s Move to Sack Judges a ‘Massacre’

• US Says Tunisia Undermining Democratic Institutions after Purge of Judges

• UN's efforts to stabilize Libya discussed at international environmental meeting

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Mideast

• Iran Calls Exodus of Black Staffers from Biden White House 'Systematic Racial Discrimination'

• Ayatollah Khamenei Asks Pope to Continue Defending Oppressed People in Yemen, Palestine

• Family Members Not in Contact with Jailed Iranian Ex-Official for 28 Days

• Iran Offers SCO Members to Launch Single Currency Mechanism to Resolve Trade Problems

• Israel prefers diplomacy on Iran but could act alone, PM Bennett tells IAEA chief

• Israeli soldiers kill two Palestinians in West Bank, Palestinian health ministry says

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Arab World

• Militant Attack on Bus Kills Three, Wounds 21 in Eastern Syria

• US envoy to UN says won’t allow Syria to be Russian ‘bargaining chip’ on Ukraine

• Ukrainian embassy says Russia ships ‘stolen’ wheat to Syria

• US, Saudi Arabia welcome extending Yemen truce, urge for permanent peace

• Lebanese spy chief says he will visit Syria over missing US reporter

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau

URL:  https://newageislam.com/islamic-world-news/global-terrorist-isis-terrorism-indian-us/d/127164

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Global Terrorist Group ISIS Has 66 Known Indian-Origin Fighters: US Report On Terrorism

 

Representative Image/ File

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December 17, 2021

Washington: There were 66 known Indian-origin fighters affiliated with the global terrorist group ISIS, the latest US State Department report on terrorism has said as it commended India's counterterrorism forces, including the NIA, for actively detecting and disrupting transnational and regional terror forces.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, in the 2020 Country Reports on Terrorism issued on Thursday, said that India collaborates with the United States on implementing UNSCR 2309 and is enforcing compliance with the dual-screen X-ray mandate for cargo screening at airport locations.

The UN Security Council Resolution 2309 calls governments to meet their responsibility to keep citizens secure while travelling by air.

The report said that there were 66 known Indian-origin fighters affiliated with ISIS, as of November.

No Foreign Terrorist Fighters (FTFs) were repatriated to India during 2020, it said.

Highlighting the US-India cooperation, the report said that the United States continues to build its strategic partnership with the Government of India, including through bilateral engagements such as the 17th Counterterrorism Joint Working Group and Third Designations Dialogue in September, as well as the third 2 2 Ministerial Dialogue in October.

It also commended the Indian counterterrorism forces, including the National Investigation Agency (NIA), for actively detecting and disrupting transnational and regional terror forces.

"Indian counterterrorism forces, at the federal and state levels, actively detected and disrupted transnational and regional terror forces.

"The National Investigation Agency examined 34 terrorism-related cases related to ISIS and arrested 160 persons, including 10 alleged al-Qaeda operatives from Kerala and West Bengal, in September," the report said.

Giving details of the terrorists' arrests made by the NIA, the report said that the premier investigation agency arrested 10 alleged al-Qaeda-affiliated operatives from Kerala and West Bengal on September 19 and 26.

“Through the end of September, the NIA had investigated 34 terrorism cases it indicated were related to ISIS and arrested 160 persons,” it said.

The Kolkata Police counter-terrorism Special Task Force on May 29 arrested Abdul Karim, the second-in-command of Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen Bangladesh, on suspicion of involvement in a 2013 bombing in Bodh Gaya, it said.

“India responds to the US requests for information related to terrorism investigations in a timely manner and makes efforts to mitigate threats in response to US information.

“Over the past two years, collaborative efforts have disrupted terrorist travel and alerted US authorities to possible threats in the United States and against US interests,” the report said.

Officials in India remain concerned about internet use for terrorist recruitment and radicalisation to violence, as well as for fomenting interreligious tensions, it said.

“In 2020 there were multiple reports in the media and from the NIA of suspected cases of online terrorist radicalisation, particularly in southern Indian states,” the report said.

India is active in leadership roles in the many regional and international fora in 2020, where it has promoted multilateral counterterrorism cooperation, it said.

India has agreed to share intelligence on terrorism with Sri Lanka and the Maldives. India's longstanding defence relationship with Russia extends to counterterrorism issues, the US State Department report added.

Source: ND TV

Please click the following URL to read the text of the original story:

https://www.ndtv.com/india-news/isis-has-66-known-indian-origin-fighters-us-report-on-terrorism-2656359

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Attacks on Religious Minorities in India Occurred Throughout 2021, Alleges US State Department Report

 

Secretary of State Antony Blinken

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Jun 2, 2022

WASHINGTON: The US state department in its annual report to the Congress on international religious freedom has alleged that in India in 2021 attack on members of the minority communities, including killings, assaults, and intimidation, occurred throughout the year.

Released by secretary of state Antony Blinken at the Foggy Bottom headquarters of the State Department, the report gives its own perspective to the status and violations of religious freedom across the globe and have separate chapters on each of the countries.

India previously rejected the US religious freedom report, saying it sees no locus standi for a foreign government to pronounce on the state of its citizens' constitutionally protected rights.

The India section of the report avoids giving any opinion on the status of religious minorities, but documents various aspects of it as appeared in the Indian press and the Indian government reports. It also liberally quotes the allegations of various non-profit organisations, and minority institutions on attacks on them, but most of the time is quite silent on the results of the investigations being undertaken by the officials, responses of the government.

"Attacks on members of religious minority communities, including killings, assaults, and intimidation, occurred throughout the year. These included incidents of ‘cow vigilantism' against non-Hindus based on allegations of cow slaughter or trade in beef," said the India section of the report.

t does takes note of RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat's statement that Hindus and Muslims in India had the same DNA and should not be differentiated by religion.

"In July, Mohan Bhagwat, the chief of the RSS, which is commonly considered to be the ideological parent to India's ruling party BJP, publicly stated that Hindus and Muslims in India had the same DNA and should not be differentiated by religion," the report said.

"There can never be any dominance of either Hindus or Muslims (in the country); there can only be the dominance of Indians," Bhagwat said, adding that members of the Muslim community should not be afraid that Islam is in danger in India. He also said that killing non-Hindus for cow slaughter was an act against Hinduism, the report said.

"Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath on September 12 publicly stated that earlier governments in Uttar Pradesh had favoured Muslim constituents in benefits distribution," it said.

The report said that the police arrested non-Hindus for making comments in the media or on social media that were considered offensive to Hindus or Hinduism.

NGOs, including faith-based organisations, continued to criticise 2020 amendments passed to the Foreign Contributions Regulation Act (FCRA) as constraining civil society by reducing the amount of foreign funding that NGOs, including religious organizations, could use for administrative purposes and adding onerous oversight and certification requirements, it said.

The government continued to say the law strengthened oversight and accountability of foreign NGO funding in the country.

According to the media reports, FCRA licenses of 5,789 NGOs, including hundreds of faith-based organisations, lapsed after the government said the organisations did not apply for renewal in time. In addition, during the year the government suspended FCRA licenses of 179 NGOs, including some that were faith-based, the report said.

Source: Times Of India

Please click the following URL to read the text of the original story:

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/attacks-on-religious-minorities-in-india-occurred-throughout-2021-alleges-us-state-department-report/articleshow/91970470.cms

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US Says Some Indian Officials Support Religious Attacks

 

Representative image. Credit: IANS Photo

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02 June, 2022

The United States said Thursday that some Indian officials have supported attacks against religious minorities, in a rare if indirect criticism of the record of its emerging ally.

Unveiling an annual report on international religious freedom, Secretary of State Antony Blinken offered bleak assessments of several US adversaries including China, Iran and Myanmar.

But he said that elsewhere as well “the rights of religious minorities are under threat in communities around the world.”

“In India, the world’s largest democracy and home to a great diversity of faiths, we’ve seen rising attacks on people in places of worship,” Blinken said.

Rashad Hussain, the US ambassador at large for international religious freedom, added: “In India, some officials are ignoring or even supporting rising attacks on people and places of worship.”

In the report, the State Department pointed to laws restricting religious conversions, quoted accounts of discrimination against Muslims and Christians, and said that “politicians made inflammatory public remarks or social media posts about religious minorities.”

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Hindu nationalist government has championed a series of measures that critics have called discriminatory.

India frequently bristles at foreign criticism of its record and has denounced the US Commission on International Religious Freedom, an autonomous government panel, which has repeatedly recommended that the State Department put India on a blacklist.

The State Department did not announce new designations Thursday and it is highly unlikely that it would take action against India, identified by successive US administrations as a key global partner in the face of a rising China.

The report also pointed to concerns in India’s historic rival Pakistan, which is on the religious freedom blacklist.

Blinken said that at least 16 people were sentenced to death in Pakistan last year on accusations of blasphemy, although no one was executed.

Mere allegations of blaspheming Islam have set off violence in Pakistan and critics say that such charges are often used to abuse minorities.

Source: Al Arabiya

Please click the following URL to read the text of the original story:

https://english.alarabiya.net/News/world/2022/06/02/US-says-some-Indian-officials-support-religious-attacks

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Biden to Visit Former 'Pariah' Saudi Arabia This Month: Reports

 

US President Joe Biden will visit Saudi Arabia in June. (Image: AP/File)

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June 3, 2022

US President Joe Biden will visit Saudi Arabia this month, reports said Thursday, a stark reversal for a leader who once called for the kingdom to be made a pariah.

The reported decision comes hours after Saudi Arabia addressed two of Biden's priorities by agreeing to a production hike in oil and helping extend a truce in war-battered Yemen.

The New York Times, The Washington Post and CNN, quoting anonymous sources, said that Biden would go ahead with the long-rumoured Saudi stop on an upcoming trip.

CNN said that Biden would meet Saudi Arabia's de facto ruler, 36-year-old Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who was accused by US intelligence of ordering the 2018 murder of dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said she had no travel to announce, adding only: "The president will look for opportunities to engage with leaders from the Middle East region."

Biden plans this month to travel to a NATO summit in Spain and Group of Seven summit in Germany.

He is also widely expected to travel to Israel where, as in Saudi Arabia, he is sure to face pointed questions about slow-moving US diplomacy with the two countries' rival, Iran.

While running for president, Biden called for Saudi leaders to be treated as "the pariah that they are" after the ultraconservative kingdom's chummy relationship with his predecessor Donald Trump.

Trump had largely shielded Saudi Arabia from consequences after Khashoggi, a US resident who wrote critically about Crown Prince Mohammed in The Washington Post, was lured into the Saudi consulate in Istanbul where he was strangled and dismembered.

Trump's son-in-law and top aide, Jared Kushner, had developed a close bond with the prince known by his initials "MBS," reportedly conversing with him over WhatsApp chats.

Shortly after taking office, Biden released the intelligence report that said MBS authorized Khashoggi's killing and his administration imposed visa restrictions on dozens of Saudis accused of threatening dissidents.

Biden also scaled back support from a Saudi-led air campaign in Yemen amid revulsion over civilian casualties.

Addressing some US concerns

A close partner of the United States since the World War II era, Saudi Arabia has repeatedly managed to woo administrations in Washington that initially sought a greater distance.

US officials were pleasantly surprised on Thursday as major oil producers led by Saudi Arabia grouped under OPEC+ agreed to a larger than expected hike in oil production.

A rise in supply could help bring down skyrocketing prices at the pump, seen as a major contributor to sagging poll numbers for Biden whose Democratic Party faces difficult congressional elections in November.

Officials in Washington said that Saudi Arabia was also supportive in diplomacy that led Thursday to the extension of a fragile two-month truce between Yemen's Riyadh-backed government and Iranian-affiliated Huthi rebels.

"Saudi Arabia demonstrated courageous leadership by taking initiatives early on to endorse and implement terms of the UN-led truce," Biden said in a statement.

Saudi Arabia has also addressed concerns of US officials who saw the kingdom as overbearing in troubled Lebanon.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken, presenting an annual report on religious freedom, praised "important recent moves" to increase interfaith dialogue even as he acknowledges that the kingdom still bans any public practice of religions other than Islam.

How to address human rights will likely be a complicated question for Biden, with MBS reportedly angered when US officials previously raised the killing of Khashoggi.

In a rare interview earlier this year with The Atlantic, MBS said of whether Biden understood him: "Simply, I do not care."

"It's up to him to think about the interests of America," he said with a shrug.

Source: Dawn

Please click the following URL to read the text of the original story:

https://www.dawn.com/news/1692913/biden-to-visit-former-pariah-saudi-arabia-reports

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Imran Khan Juxtaposes His Decision to Call off Long March with Hudaybiyyah Agreement

 

Prime Minister Imran Khan. — Instagram/@imrankhan.pti

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Jun 02 2022

Another clip of PTI Chairman Imran Khan is circulating on social media in which the ousted prime minister is juxtaposing his decision to call off his “Azadi March” on May 26 with the historic Hudaibiya Agreement.

In an interview with a private television channel, the former prime minister said that “Sulah Hudaibiya" was on May 26 morning when “I decided against staging a sit-in”.

“I consider it [my decision] 'Sulah Hudaibiya’ because the treaty was a compromise to reach a bigger mission,” he added.

The incident of Hudaibiya reserves in history a significant phase of Islam when Muslims got an opportunity to unexpectedly notch gains from the jaws of an apparent defeat.

The pact of Al-udaybiyah was a compromise that was reached between Prophet Muammad (PBUH) and Meccan leaders, in which Mecca gave political and religious recognition to the growing community of Muslims in Medina.

Earlier, a clip from the same interview was doing the rounds where the PTI chairman warned that if the establishment does not "take the right decision" then Pakistan would break into "three parts".

The ousted prime minister said the country is on the brink of "suicide" if "right decisions" are not taken, as it might move towards defaulting.

"The actual problem here is of Pakistan and establishment. If the establishment does not take the right decision, then I will give it to you in writing that they will be destroyed, and the armed forces will be the first ones to be destroyed," he told the interviewer.

Source: Geo TV

Please click the following URL to read the text of the original story:

https://www.geo.tv/latest/420327-imran-khan-juxtaposes-his-decision-to-call-of-long-march-with-sulah-hudaibiya

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India

 

RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat: “There Is No Need to look for a Shivling in Every Mosque”

Jun 3, 2022

NAGPUR: Striking a note of conciliation amid a rash of claims and counter-claims linked to religious shrines, RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat said Thursday that “there is no need to look for a shivling in every mosque”. He said even the dispute over Varanasi’s Gyanvapi mosque could be resolved amicably by Hindus and Muslims.

Referring to disputes centring on certain “incidents” linked to the history of a place of worship, Bhagwat said, “These (incidents) cannot be changed by either Hindus or Muslims of the country...Invaders took to breaking down temples to crush the morale of the Hindus, and also create an impression among newly converted Muslims.”

He said the Gyanvapi-Shringar Gauri worship case could be resolved just by talks between the two communities. “If it comes from the court, the decision should be acceptable to both sides.”

Bhagwat was addressing RSS workers at an annual event in Nagpur to mark the completion of their third year of training. He said RSS had taken part in the Ram Janmabhoomi campaign in Ayodhya “due to certain very important reasons”.

“It was also made clear that the organisation would not be part of any new movement. There is no need to raise fresh disputes every day,” he said.

Bhagwat described Muslims of India as “descendants of Hindus and even Kshyatriyas who were converted into a different faith”.

“Hindus, while raising any such issue, should understand that Muslims are their own people. Just that their faith was changed. If they are ready to return, we would welcome them with open arms. Even if they do not want to, there is no reason to be displeased. Indians already worship a multitude of deities. There are many faiths in the country, and Muslims would remain one of them,” he said.

The RSS chief said the onus was on both communities to exercise restraint and not provoke each other. Hindus have “always shown restraint”, he said.

Bhagwat also spoke of the Russia-Ukraine war, saying “it reminds us of how western powers would make India and Pakistan fight so that their armaments could be tested”.

“Russia has attacked Ukraine because it is powerful. India still has to reach that level,” the RSS chief said, backing Delhi's neutral stand on the conflict. “India has maintained a balanced position in the whole episode.”

Source: Times Of India

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

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/rss-chief-why-look-for-shivling-in-every-mosque/articleshow/91971714.cms

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Ensure headcount of Rohingyas, Bangladeshis and Muslims with 3 wives & 15-20 children: Bihar minister

Rohit Kumar Singh

Patna

June 3, 2022

After the Bihar cabinet approved the decision to conduct a caste-based census in Bihar, with the backing of all the political parties, now differences have cropped up within the Bharatiya Janata Party over the modalities of headcount.

Bihar cabinet minister Neeraj Kumar Singh Bablu said that in the caste-based census, Rohingyas and Bangladeshi Muslims living illegally in Bihar should also be counted. While Union Minister and BJP's firebrand leader Giriraj Singh demanded that the Rohingyas and Bangladeshi Muslims should not be included.

The state cabinet minister expressed his concern that there are people from the Muslim community who have three wives or have 15 to 20 children and want to hide this number. They do not want to be part of the headcount. Bablu demanded that every person should be counted during the caste-based census.

“There are many people living in Bihar who hide numbers when the counting starts. Many people have three wives and 15-20 children, which they do not want to count. I want every person to be counted so that it will make clear the speed with which the population of minorities has increased in Bihar," said Bablu.

Bablu argued that in the last few years, the Muslim population in Bihar has increased very rapidly and the caste-based census will give a clear picture at what speed the Muslim population is increasing in Bihar.

Source: India Today

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

https://www.indiatoday.in/india/story/bihar-caste-based-census-rohingyas-bangladeshis-muslims-with-3-wives-15-20-children-headcount-1957821-2022-06-03

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Notices to Centre, ASI over idols of Hindu deities 'buried' in Agra mosque

03rd June 2022

MATHURA: A group of petitioners in the Shahi Idgah Masjid-Shri Krishna Janmabhoomi dispute suit on Thursday sent legal notices to the Centre and the Archaeological Survey of India seeking relocation of idols of Hindu deities, which they claimed are buried under the staircase of an Agra mosque.

The notice said the movement of the public on the staircase be stopped immediately.

The notices have been sent under Section 80 of the Code of Civil Procedure, under which parties are required to respond within 60 days.

The petitioners claimed that costly idols taken from the Mathura's Keshav Dev temple were buried under the staircase of the Agra's Begum Sahiba Masjid mosque by Mughal emperor Aurangzeb when he allegedly destroyed the temple here in 1670.

"Relocate the deities within the stipulated time failing which they would be liable to bear the cost," said advocate Mahendra Pratap Singh, one of the petitioners.

The notices have been sent to the Union government through the central secretariat, New Delhi; Director, Archaeological survey of India, New Delhi; Superintendent, Archaeological survey of India; Agra; and the Director, Archaeological survey of India, Mathura.

Source: New Indian Express

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

https://www.newindianexpress.com/nation/2022/jun/03/notices-to-centre-asi-over-idols-of-hindu-deities-buried-in-agra-mosque-2461327.html

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Planning Underway To Remove Dangling Part Of Jama Masjid Finial: Shahi Imam

02 JUN 2022

Jama Masjid authorities along with engineering and heritage experts are currently chalking out a plan to remove the dangling part of the finial of the main dome of the 17th-century grand mosque in Delhi which was damaged in a fierce thunderstorm recently. Jama Masjid Shahi Imam Syed Ahmed Bukhari on Thursday also said as part of the plan, aerial photographs of the mosque, with closer shots of the main dome have also been taken to aid the experts.

"The dangling part is posing a threat to the wall and minarets near it, and to people on the ground too as there is a risk that if it rolls off the dome, it may hit the wall, and pieces of the stone may fall on the ground. So, we are chalking out a plan to first safely bring down the dangling part of the damaged finial," Bukhari told PTI. On Tuesday, a day after the storm had hit Delhi, he had written to ASI requesting the removal of the dangling part of the crown and repair of the ornamental structure that has topped the grand mosque since its construction.

"We have not received any response from ASI on our request, so we are planning on our own. Jama Masjid office, the Delhi Waqf Board, a structural engineering expert, and experts from INTACH are working together to come up with a feasible plan to rescue the dangling portion of the finial," the Shahi Imam added. On Tuesday, Delhi Waqf Board Chairman Amanatullah Khan and a team of experts from INTACH had visited Jama Masjid located in the heart of the Walled City, and inspected the damage caused to the finial. Khan had also gone up on the terrace to see the damaged parts lying there, accompanied by other officials.

Bukhari said, "Together, we are brainstorming the possible ways to bring down that heavy part. A Delhi-based scientist is helping us, and one solution that we have thought of is to bring a tall crane and move it from a street on the Chawri Bazaar side, and pull it up and bring the hanging part down with a harness attached". However, it is still under planning, and it is not exactly known how effective this step might be. A senior official of INTACH said, "This is an emergency scenario, and we as a heritage institution have decided to help in this process, for the safety of the people and the monument.

"Our team had recently visited the Jama Masjid premises after the storm. Even a couple of months ago, a team from INTACH had visited as Jama Masjid authorities have been contemplating a conservation project," the official told PTI. When asked if the finial, which is as old as the mosque, can be repaired, the INTACH official said, yes, it is repair-worthy. "It is also a piece of heritage, and it has just broken which needs to be fixed and the ensemble reinstalled. A preliminary study suggests the material of the finial is copper, with gold plating on the surface. Some portions have faded but it can be refurbished to return its shine," the official said, adding only metallurgical examination can tell the exact composition.

At Shahi Imam's Office, a smaller piece of the huge finial is kept in store while two large pieces are lying on the terrace below the dome. "The part which is still hanging from the main dome would weigh around 350 kg, and the entire ensemble weight would have been about 500 kg. So, it is essential to remove that portion from the dome," Bukhari had earlier said. An architectural jewel and a very popular tourist attraction, Jama Masjid is a 17th-century monument, originally named Masjid-e-Jahanuma, built by Mughal Emperor Shahjahan. He himself had laid the foundation of stone on the strong basements of a hillock on October 6, 1650, which was a Friday. The grand mosque was completed in 1656, according to information shared by the Shahi Imam's Office, on its history.

Source: Outlook India

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

https://www.outlookindia.com/national/planning-underway-to-remove-dangling-part-of-jama-masjid-finial-shahi-imam-news-200016

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"No Muslim Man Should Marry 3 Woman", Says Assam Chief Minister

June 02, 2022

Karbi Anglong, Assam: Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma while advocating for an equal share of the property for the wife, also batted for the marriage of a Muslim man with one woman instead of three.

The Assam Chief Minister also called for a legal divorce in the community instead of giving 'Talaq'.

"Assam government is very clear that no Muslim man should marry three women. Don't give Talaq, give divorce legally. An equal share of the property should be given to daughters like sons. Give 50 per cent share of the property to the wife. Views of the government and the common Muslims are same," he said during a press conference on Wednesday.

Giving credit to Prime Minister Narendra Modi for the reduction in "discrimination against students of the northeast", Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma has said the progress took place due to the PM's outreach to the region in the last few years.

The remarks of the Chief Minister came while addressing a press conference on Wednesday where he said that such discrimination against the students has "gone down to a huge extent".

"If you look at the last 2-3 years, because of PM Narendra Modi's huge outreach to the northeast now racial discrimination against students of the northeast has suddenly gone down to a huge extent," Chief Minister Sarma said.

Later in the day, the Assam CM took to Twitter to appreciate PM Modi's "visionary leadership", and said that he has "repositioned India as a strong global power".

Source: ND TV

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

https://www.ndtv.com/guwahati-news/himanta-biswa-sarma-assam-cm-says-no-muslim-man-should-marry-3-women-assam-chief-minister-statement-on-talaq-assam-government-3031613

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No backchannel talks with Pakistan, clarifies India

Jun 3, 2022

NEW DELHI: India desires normal and peaceful ties with Pakistan but in an atmosphere free of terror, hostility and violence, said the government on Thursday. The foreign ministry also described as speculative reports in Pakistan media that back-channel talks were taking place between the two countries.

The MEA spokesperson said that the diplomatic missions here and in Islamabad were still functioning and that the local staff were in touch with their interlocutors.

Source: Times Of India

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

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/no-backchannel-talks-with-pakistan-clarifies-india/articleshow/91971810.cms

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Jammu and Kashmir: Terrorists fire at two labourers in Budgam district, 1 dead

Jun 2, 2022

NEW DELHI: Terrorists on Thursday fired at two labourers in Magraypora in Chadoora area of central Kashmir’s Budgam district, killing one of them. The labourers are reportedly not local residents.

The victims were shifted to a hospital for treatment, where one of them succumbed to injuries, the police said. The deceased has been identified as Dilkhush Kumar (17), who hailed from Bihar. The injured labourer, Goria from Punjab, is stable, officials said.

Earlier on Thursday, a bank employee from Rajasthan was shot dead by terrorists in Jammu & Kashmir's Kulgam district, officials said.

The deceased, an employee of Ellaqui Dehati Bank, was identified as Vijay Kumar. He was shot inside the bank premises, officials added.

A resident of Hanumangarh in Rajasthan, Kumar was rushed to a hospital but succumbed to injuries on the way.

"Terrorists fired upon a bank manager at Ellaqie Dehati Bank at Areh Mohanpora in Kulgam district. He received grievous gunshot injuries in this terror incident," the police said.

Meanwhile, Union home minister Amit Shah on Thursday held a meeting with National Security Advisor Ajit Doval to discuss the security situation in Jammu and Kashmir which has witnessed a spate of targeted killings since May 12.

Source: Times Of India

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

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/terrorists-fire-at-at-two-labourers-in-kashmirs-budgam/articleshow/91969533.cms

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‘No Muslim man should marry 3 women’: Assam CM Himanta Biswa

2nd June 2022

Karbi Anglong: Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma while advocating for an equal share of the property for the wife, also batted for the marriage of a Muslim man with one woman instead of three.

Sarma also called for a legal divorce in the community instead of giving ‘Talaq’.

“Assam government is very clear that no Muslim man should marry three women. Don’t give Talaq, give divorce legally. An equal share of the property should be given to daughters like sons. Give 50 per cent share of the property to the wife. Views of the government and the common Muslims are same,” he said during a press conference on Wednesday.

Giving credit to Prime Minister Narendra Modi for the reduction in “discrimination against students of the northeast”, Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma has said the progress took place due to the PM’s outreach to the region in the last few years.

The remarks of the Chief Minister came while addressing a press conference on Wednesday where he said that such discrimination against the students has “gone down to a huge extent”.

“If you look at the last 2-3 years, because of PM Modi’s huge outreach to the northeast now racial discrimination against students of the northeast has suddenly gone down to a huge extent,” Sarma said.

Later in the day, the Assam CM took to Twitter to laud PM Modi’s “visionary leadership”, and said that he has “repositioned India as a strong global power”.

Source: Siasat Daily

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

https://www.siasat.com/no-muslim-man-should-marry-3-women-assam-cm-advocates-equal-share-of-property-for-wife-2339879/

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'Safe' postings of choice for non-Muslim teachers, other education department staff in J&K

Jun 3, 2022

SRINAGAR: The J&K school education department on Thursday directed the chief education officers of Kashmir division to post non-Muslim staff in "safe" locations of their choice as protests snowballed over a schoolteacher from Jammu falling to terrorist bullets in Kulgam last Tuesday and dozens of Kashmiri Pandit and migrant employees took flight from the Valley.

The move, which came a day after lieutenant governor Manoj Sinha ordered the shifting of all migrant employees in the Union Territory to district headquarter towns by June 6, coincided with a rural bank manager from Rajasthan becoming the eighth victim in a rash of targeted terror attacks since May 1.

Sources said many Kashmiri Pandits living in rented houses in Srinagar's Shivpora neighbourhood had left for their native places in Jammu division for fear of more selective terror attacks. What was a trickle at the start of the week seems to have turned into an exodus after Thursday's killing of Vijay Kumar, branch manager of Ellaqui Dehati Bank at Areh Mohanpora in Kulgam.

Nearly 8,000 government employees from different districts of Jammu and around 2,000 from various parts of the country work in the Valley.

Ramesh Chand, a schoolteacher posted in south Kashmir’s Anantnag district, said the continued terror attacks on civilians had made it amply clear that nobody was safe in J&K, be it Muslims, Hindus or Sikhs. "Anyone can become a victim of a terror attack at any time."

Fellow schoolteacher Anjana Bala, who works in north Kashmir’s Kupwara district, said it was pointless shifting non-Muslim employees within the Valley because there was no such thing as a safe zone given how terror outfits were striking at will. She said those from Jammu division should be sent back there, at least till a semblance of normalcy returns.

Source: Times Of India

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

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/srinagar/safe-postings-of-choice-for-non-muslim-teachers-other-education-department-staff-in-jk/articleshow/91971347.cms

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North America

 

US highlights China, Russia, Myanmar violations in religious freedom report

Servet Gunerigok  

02.06.2022

WASHINGTON

The US took aim at several countries, including China, Russia, Myanmar and India in its annual religious freedom report Thursday, which reviews the state of religious freedom in nearly 200 nations and territories.

Speaking at a press conference with Rashad Hussain, US ambassador-at-large for international religious freedom, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said governments are failing to respect their citizens' basic rights and some others continue to use blasphemy and apostasy laws.

"We know that when the fundamental right of each person to practice their faith, or to choose not to observe a faith is respected, people can make their fullest contributions to community successes," said Blinken.

He said the report documents how religious freedom and the rights of religious minorities are under threat in communities around the world.

"For example, in India, the world's largest democracy, and home to a great diversity of faiths, we've seen rising attacks on people in places of worship," said the top diplomat.

Blinken also urged Europe to do more to combat rising hate, including anti-Semitism and anti-Muslim sentiment.

The report pointed to genocide committed in Myanmar against Muslims and stressed the abuse of Muslims and other ethnic groups by the Chinese government.

Blinken said the Chinese government "continues its genocide and repression of predominantly Muslim leaders and other religious minority groups," and "continues to harass adherence of other religions."

On Russia, the top diplomat noted the US' designation of it as a country of particular concern last year and said Moscow has doubled down on its violations of religious freedom rather than reverse course.

"Russian courts regularly reach new milestones for excessive prison sentences against individuals exercising their religious freedom," he said.

Turning to Afghanistan, Blinken said "conditions for religious freedom have deteriorated dramatically" under the Taliban, and cited the plight of women and girls whose rights he said were diminished by the Taliban.

In Vietnam, Blinken said authorities harass members of unregistered religious communities.

The report also includes several countries that have shown progress, said Blinken.

"For example, last year, the Kingdom of Morocco launched an initiative to renovate Jewish heritage sites like synagogues and cemeteries and to include Jewish history in the Moroccan public school curriculum," said Blinken.

"And Taiwan authorities are making it easier for employers who refuse to give their workers a weekly rest day in order to attend services," he added.

For Saudi Arabia, he said the US recognizes "the important recent moves to increase interfaith dialogue and religious tolerance."

Hussain said the report gives voice to countless individuals around the world who have been killed, beaten, threatened, harassed or jailed for seeking to exercise their beliefs or with the dictates of their conscience.

The ambassador said too many governments remain undeterred in repressing their citizens.

"It comes as no surprise that the People's Republic of China is a glaring example here," said Hussain.

"Anti-Semitism, anti-Muslim hatred and xenophobia are on the rise in many countries," he said. "Democratic backsliding, and the rise of nationalism and nativist rhetoric and policies have been used to justify violence towards members of ethnic or religious minority groups and historically marginalized peoples."

Source: Anadolu Agency

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

https://www.aa.com.tr/en/americas/us-highlights-china-russia-myanmar-violations-in-religious-freedom-report/2604459

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US envoy to UN thanks Türkiye for role in humanitarian aid to Syria

Behlul Cetinkaya 

02.06.2022

HATAY, Türkiye

The US ambassador to the UN on Thursday thanked Türkiye for facilitating and supporting humanitarian aid to war-torn Syria.

Speaking to reporters after visiting the World Food Program (WFP) distribution center in the Reyhanli district of Türkiye's southern Hatay province, Linda Thomas-Greenfield expressed her gratitude to the Turkish government for hosting refugees.

She recalled the US' announcement last month of $800 million in additional humanitarian aid, adding that they expect a decision to extend the cross-border aid to Syria at the UN Security Council session slated for July 10.

Syria has been ravaged by a civil war since early 2011 when the Assad regime cracked down on pro-democracy protesters.

According to UN estimates, hundreds of thousands of people have since been killed and millions more displaced.

Source: Anadolu Agency

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

https://www.aa.com.tr/en/americas/us-envoy-to-un-thanks-turkiye-for-role-in-humanitarian-aid-to-syria/2604289

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Congressman says US foreign policy has ‘blind spot’ on Israel-Palestine conflict

RAY HANANIA

June 02, 2022

CHICAGO: American foreign policy has a “blind spot” when it comes to getting accurate information on challenges facing Israelis and Palestinians or achieving peace, Illinois Congressman Sean Casten (D-6th) told Arab News Wednesday.

Elected in 2018 after defeating conservative Peter Roskam, Casten said he saw how the “status quo” provokes extremists on both sides, Hamas and Israeli settlers, during two visits to Israel and later the West Bank.

Casten said he supports a two-state solution but believes it will be difficult to achieve under current circumstances. He stressed that he supports Israel’s right to security in the face of threats from Hamas, as well as the rights of Palestinian civilians, citing the experiences he saw Palestinian farmers face from armed settlers while in Bethlehem last February.

“We had gone in the last time I was there, which was last February. We had gone in and met with several Palestinians. They (Israeli settlers) have got a farm up on the hill above their farm, and it is essentially an outpost with armed settlers who are regularly coming down and shooting their (Palestinian) livestock,” Casten recalled from the trip.

“And we’re sitting there saying we are members of Congress. Why don’t we just walk up? And they were saying no, no… ‘You are going to get shot if you do that, do not walk up there,’ which is weird because normally as a member of Congress, we can go anywhere. We then come back, and we met with Tom Knives, the US ambassador to Israel, who is a lovely guy, and we start telling him about this and it was clear he was not aware of those realities on the ground because as the ambassador to Israel, he cannot travel into that region except in a supervised fashion. And so, we need to have information. We have this blind spot in US foreign policy right now.”

Casten said the situation he saw there reinforced his belief that re-opening the US Consulate in Jerusalem for Palestinian affairs, which is one of the goals of President Joseph Biden, is essential.

“We have Palestinian communities who need representation. They don’t have an embassy anymore. Should we push to create that embassy? That seems like a good thing Congress should do. We’re not taking sides. We are just saying we need to make sure that people [are safe]. We talked to a guy who runs the Hope Flowers School that teaches non-violence in Bethlehem. He doesn’t have anyone to reach out to right now. So, we raise that issue and then we hear, well, ‘Be careful pushing that because as you have seen the Knesset is very divided right now and if you push too hard that might create the rise, the return of the Israeli political right,’” Casten said.

“I am completely in [support] of that (opening the US Consulate). But the challenge is how do we do that in a way that is responsive to the circumstances on the ground there?”

Casten complained that the US understanding of the Israeli-Palestine conflict is dominated by activists on both sides in the US and that a greater effort needs to be made to hear the views of everyone involved to better understand the reality. He said that the US must “understand how it affects the politics on the ground there” in order to address those challenges.

Appearing on “The Ray Hanania Show,” broadcast on the US Arab Radio Network and sponsored by Arab News, Casten said his experiences showed how one cannot only listen to activists who advocate for their causes but must also hear from others to better understand the hurdles that prevent peace.

“There is so much pressure in our US system to be responsive to US citizens who are advocates for the region. And I think it is so dangerous to only listen to those groups if you haven’t spoken to groups on the ground…I have met with everyone from Prime Minister (Mohammed) Shtayyeh to (President) Mahmoud Abbas to (Prime Minister) Benjamin Netanyahu and (Alternate Prime Minister) Yair Lapid this last time,” Casten said.

“Everybody will tell Americans who are there that the system is very brittle. If you push us too hard, you will see the rise of the right on the Israeli [side], if you push us too hard you will see the rise of Hamas on the Palestinian side. And there is this tremendous pressure that says, ‘Please don’t violate the status quo.’ And yet we all know that the status quo is untenable. I think the surest way to compromise the security of everyone in the region is to continue the status quo where you have a group of people with no property rights and increasingly little hope.”

Casten observed how the recent signing of peace accords between Israel and other Arab states has changed the dynamics of what many Israelis believe is the path to peace.

“The feeling on the ground in Israel, I think there used to be a sense in Israel that there is no path to regional peace without a resolution to the Palestinian issue,” Casten said.

“And with the passage of the Abraham Accords, with the increasing concerns of a nuclear Iran, the feeling I get on the street when I talk to Israelis over there is that they have almost inverted that until we have regional peace, we don’t need to worry about the Palestinian issue. I don’t know how to solve that. I feel better about our opportunity to solve that when we have more centrist moderate governments. Of course, the Israeli government has been very brittle now for four or five years.”

Casten said he supports the two-state solution but is unsure how it can be achieved in today’s political dynamics.

“I absolutely support it, and I wish I could tell you that I saw a path to getting it done. I don’t know how you have a democratic Jewish Israel that doesn’t have two states with coherent borders,” Casten said.

“I will also share with you, I have yet to meet an Israeli leader who is committed to the idea that they don’t have complete control of security, which is one and one-half states. And I have yet to meet a leader in the Palestinian authority who doesn’t have a business card that doesn’t have a map that runs from the Jordan to the sea.”

Casten also said he was optimistic in cases like the killing of Shireen Abu Akleh that one could criticize Israel without being anti-Israeli. Palestinian witnesses have said they believed the Palestinian-American citizen was killed on May 11 by an Israeli sniper’s bullet, but the Israelis have resisted that conclusion.

“There are a lot of pressures in our domestic politics. But I think we should be able to manage,” Casten said when asked if responsibility for Abu Akleh’s killing will be resolved.

“I have always been partial to that beautiful line of Frederick Douglass when he said that the best friend of the nation is who acknowledges her faults rather than cloak himself in the specious garb of patriotism. He was, of course, talking about America. But I think in the same way, for the United States to be a good friend of Israel, as we are, we also have to be willing to say as your friend, you are not perfect.”

Casten is a scientist, clean energy entrepreneur and CEO who has dedicated his life to fighting climate change. He serves on the Science, Space, and Technology Committee, the Select Committee on the Climate Crisis and is vice chair of the House Financial Services Subcommittee on Investor Protection, Entrepreneurship, and Capital Markets.

Casten faces fellow Democrat Congresswoman Marie Newman in the June 28 election primary. Newman did not respond to several requests to appear on the radio show.

Source: Arab News

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

https://www.arabnews.com/node/2095416/world

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US will join Europe to back IAEA resolution against Iran: State Department

03 June, 2022

The US will join European powers to submit a resolution calling on Iran to “fully cooperate” with the UN’s International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), a State Department official said Thursday.

“We can confirm that we plan to join the UK, France and Germany in seeking a resolution to focus on the need for Iran to fully cooperate with the IAEA,” State Department Spokesman Ned Price said during a press briefing.

“It is essential that Iran does fully comply with its binding obligations,” he added.

The US move comes despite Iran’s warning that such a resolution would be unconstructive while threatening to “respond” if the West went ahead.

The UN nuclear watchdog released a report questioning nuclear material found at three different locations. And Iran reportedly failed to provide adequate answers over the IAEA’s questions.

Reports have indicated that the US had previously pushed back against efforts to condemn Iran for its lack of clarification on the sites, particularly as the Biden administration fights tooth and nail to revive the 2015 nuclear deal.

But as efforts to reach a deal have stalled, it appears Washington has decided to change course on the matter.

“Iran needs to comply with the IAEA in answering these outstanding questions regarding its obligations under the [non-proliferation treaty] and its comprehensive safeguards,” Price said on Thursday.

Asked what had changed for the Biden administration to now seek the resolution, Price said recent reports were a cause for “deep concern about questions” on Iran’s activities.

JCPOA updates

While indirect talks between the US and Iran on the nuclear deal have been stalled for months, an article in the Jerusalem Post suggested that Israel had put a new proposal on the table for the US to study.

The report said that Israel’s national security advisor, who was in Washington this week, said the US could propose to Iran that it would lift economic sanctions if Tehran agreed to scrap the “sunset clauses” in the 2015 nuclear deal.

The sunset clauses, which were set to expire less than 10 years from now, would allow Iran to enrich uranium at a level potentially needed to develop a nuclear weapon.

Price played down the report, saying the US continues to believe that mutual return to compliance with the original JCPOA would be the best way forward to secure US national security interests.

Source: Al Arabiya

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

https://english.alarabiya.net/News/middle-east/2022/06/03/US-will-join-Europe-to-back-IAEA-resolution-against-Iran

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Biden welcomes truce extension in Yemen

Servet Gunerigok  

02.06.2022

WASHINGTON

US President Joe Biden welcomed on Thursday the extension of a truce mediated by the UN concerning the Yemen conflict.

He urged all parties to move to an inclusive peace process.

"Ending the war in Yemen has been a priority of my administration," Biden said in a statement, and he thanked his Special Envoy Tim Lenderking and UN’s Envoy to Yemen Hans Grundberg.

"Their work, however, is not finished. I urge all parties to move expeditiously towards a comprehensive and inclusive peace process. Our diplomacy will not rest until a permanent settlement is in place," he said.

Biden lauded Saudi Arabia for demonstrating "courageous leadership by taking initiatives early on to endorse and implement terms of the UN-led truce," and Oman for hosting and facilitating dialogue.

"Egypt and Jordan opened their airports to flights from Yemen over the past month thereby enabling a key component of the truce process," said Biden.

The truce between Yemen’s warring rivals was extended for two months Thursday, shortly before it was set to expire.

Grundberg said the extended truce enters into force upon the expiry of the current truce Thursday at 1900 Yemeni local time (1600GMT).

The truce holds the same condition as the agreement that took effect April 2.

According to the UN envoy, civilian casualties dropped significantly since the truce took effect.

Yemen’s warring rivals agreed to a UN-brokered two-month truce under which all military operations were halted. The agreement included the operation of commercial flights from the rebel-held Sanaa Airport in the Yemeni capital.

Yemen has been engulfed by violence and instability since 2014, when Iranian-aligned Houthi rebels captured much of the country, including Sanaa.

The Saudi-led coalition entered the war in early 2015 to restore the Yemeni government to power.

Source: Anadolu Agency

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

https://www.aa.com.tr/en/americas/biden-welcomes-truce-extension-in-yemen/2604305

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Afghans evacuated to Albania protest for faster move to US

June 02, 2022

TIRANA, Albania: A group of people evacuated from Afghanistan as the Taliban returned to power last year held a protest Wednesday in Albania over the failure to expedite their move to the United States.

A small group of families in Shengjin, a town located 70 kilometers (45 miles) northwest of Albania’s capital, Tirana, called on the US to speed up the process of their transfer. Some women and children held posters reading, “We are forgotten.”

Some 2,400 Afghans were evacuated to Albania in August and September 2021 and given temporary shelter in Shengjin and another resort town, Durres.

Non-governmental organizations from United States and other countries provided financial support for accommodating them.

The Albanian government said at the time that it would house thousands of Afghans for at least a year before they moved to the United States for final settlement. More recently, the government pledged to keep them for longer than a year if their US visas were delayed.

The Foreign Ministry says 900 of the evacuees remain in Albania. Those no longer in the European country went to the US and Canada.

Source: Arab News

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

https://www.arabnews.com/node/2095661/world

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Pakistan

 

Shehbaz Sharif livid as Imran Khan says Pakistan will split into three

Jun 2, 2022

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif on Thursday hit back at his ousted predecessor Imran Khan for making "naked threats against the country".

In an interview, the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman warned that if the establishment did not take the right decision then the country would split into three and quoted that as his reason for "putting pressure" on the powers that be, The Express Tribune reported.

In a reference to the interview, Sharif, who is on a three-day visit to Turkey, asked Khan to rein his threats in and called him "unfit" to hold any public office.

"Do your politics but don't dare to cross limits and talk about division of Pakistan," he warned.

In an interview with Bol TV, Khan had said: "If the establishment doesn't make the right decisions then I can assure in writing that they and the army will be destroyed because what will become of the country if it goes bankrupt.

"Pakistan is going towards a default. If that happens then which institution will be (worst) hit? The army. After it is hit, what concession will be taken from us? Denuclearisation.

"If the right decisions aren't made at this time then the country is going towards suicide."

Source: Times Of India

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

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/pakistan/shehbaz-sharif-livid-as-imran-khan-says-pakistan-will-split-into-three/articleshow/91959160.cms

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Pak: China banks to give $2.3 billion funding to boost foreign reserves

Jun 3, 2022

ISLAMABAD: China has once again come to the rescue of cash-strapped Pakistan as finance minister Miftah Ismail said on Thursday that the Chinese banks have agreed to refinance his country with $2. 3 billion worth of funds which will “shore up Pakistan’s foreign exchange reserves”. “The terms and conditions for refinancing of RMB 15 billion deposit by Chinese banks (about USD 2. 3 billion) have been agreed,” finance minister Miftah Ismail tweeted. “Inflow is expected shortly after some routine approvals from both sides. This will help shore up our foreign exchange reserves,” he added.

Pakistan’s foreign exchange reserves are under severe stress and declined by $190 million to $10. 3 billion during the week ended on May 6, according to the State Bank of Pakistan.

Pak slashes fuel subsidies for second time in a week Pakistan said on Thursday it will slash fuel subsidies for a second time in a week in a bid to control the fiscal deficit and secure IMF bailout money. FM Miftah Ismail said petrol and diesel prices for consumers have been increased by 17% at the pumps starting on Friday, up 30 Pakistani rupees each per litre.

Source: Times Of India

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

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/pakistan/pak-china-banks-to-give-2-3-billion-funding-to-boost-foreign-reserves/articleshow/91973378.cms

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Cabinet committee deliberates filing sedition charges against Imran Khan

June 3, 2022

A special committee of the federal cabinet has deliberated filing a sedition case against former prime minister and Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf chairman Imran Khan and the chief ministers of Gilgit-Baltistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa for allegedly planning an "attack" on the federation during the party's 'Azadi March'.

According to an Interior Ministry statement reported by state-run APP yesterday, the meeting was chaired by Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah and attended by Minister for Communication Maulana Asad Mahmood, Adviser to the Prime Minister on Kashmir Affairs Qamar Zaman Kaira, Minister for Economic Affairs Sardar Ayaz Sadiq, Minister for Law Justice Azam Nazir Tarar and officials of the Islamabad police.

"The ministry briefed the committee over the PTI’s long march on May 25 and its formal plan to attack the federation," it stated.

The ministers also discussed filing a sedition case against Imran and the provincial chief executives under Section 124A of the Code of Criminal Procedure, which criminalises words/expression which “brings or attempts to bring into hatred or contempt, or excites or attempts to excite disaffection” towards the government.

“However, the committee postponed the meeting to deliberate over the matter further till June 6 to present its final recommendations before the federal cabinet,” the statement added.

Meanwhile, during the meeting, Sanaullah termed PTI’s long march "fitna (sedition)" and said it was a "riot march rather than a 'Haqeeqi Azadi March'".

"It was an armed attack on the federation, besides [being] a mutiny. Formal planning was done to hold the capital hostage on May 25," he alleged, further claiming that the PTI chairman incited his supporters through hate speeches against the state.

With a "plan", he pointed out, about "2,500 miscreants" were brought to Islamabad before May 25. "These miscreants tried to capture D-Chowk before the arrival of Imran Khan."

"The armed group not only attacked the police, Rangers and FC personnel, but set fire to trees and the metro station too. Imran Niazi also violated the May 25 decision of the Supreme Court," the minister added.

The march

Imran Khan's march for 'haqeeqi azadi' — true freedom — on May 25 was preceded by the authorities invoking of Section 144, a measure used to curb gatherings. Shipping containers were put in place on major thoroughfares to block their path.

Undeterred by the moves, the marchers, who tried to force through the containers to make their way to Islamabad, were met with tear gas as police tried to disperse them. Police also charged at them with batons.

Source: Dawn

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

https://www.dawn.com/news/1692918/cabinet-committee-deliberates-filing-sedition-charges-against-imran-khan

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Google launches suicide hotline for Pakistan

June 3, 2022

KARACHI: To tackle the rising number of suicidal cases as well as mental health issues, Google has launched a suicide hotline for Pakistan on Thursday in collaboration with ‘Umang Pakistan’ enabling users to get quick help at the top of the search result page as they browse anything related to suicide.

Recognised by the World Health Organisation (WHO), Umang is a mental health helpline that offers support to vulnerable Pakistanis ideating or planning suicide.

According to the WHO, around 130,000 to 270,000 people attempt suicide in Pakistan each year. Meanwhile, search interest in mental health issues has also been on the rise. Google Trends suggests that topics such as anxiety, depression and suicide, peaked in the 2020-21 period in the country.

Google Regional Director of Pakistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka, Farhan Qureshi shared: “As we see from Trends [Google], Pakistanis are looking for answers about their mental health. We understand time is of the essence when searching for help, especially for those who may be facing suicidal thoughts. We hope that this feature aids vulnerable users in finding help in times of need.”

Umang Pakistan Founder and chief executive officer Kinza Naeem said: “Mental health is the biggest unaddressed problem of our era, especially at a place like Pakistan where more than 40 per cent of the population is suffering from some degree of mental health issues.

Source: Dawn

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

https://www.dawn.com/news/1692781/google-launches-suicide-hotline-for-pakistan

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Two Pakistanis held by FIA for alleged involvement in human smuggling, secretly filming women in Turkey

June 3, 2022

RAWALPINDI: The Federal Investigation Agency’s cyber crime wing has arrested two Pakistani illegal immigrants allegedly involved in human smuggling and secretly filming women in Turkey.

Both the suspects had been arrested by Turkish police and deported to Pakistan.

A FIA spokesman said the suspects were involved in human trafficking and secretly making films of women in Turkey and uploading those on social media. Both were deported to Pakistan by the Turkish authority which led to the registration of a case against them by the cyber crime wing and launching of an investigation to track down their accomplices.

The arrests of the suspects – Mohammad Junaid and Ameer Khan - came about in separate operations after Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, currently on an official visit to Turkey, took notice and directed the FIA to take action against them.

Source: Dawn

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

https://www.dawn.com/news/1692812/two-illegal-immigrants-held

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Europe

 

Australia’s first Muslim federal ministers Anne Aly and Ed Husic hope appointments mark ‘new era’ of inclusivity

Mostafa Rachwani

3 Jun 2022

For Anne Aly, her swearing in this week as minister for early childhood and youth was more than just a personal achievement.

It was a moment that signified change and hope for her and fellow Muslim cabinet minister, Ed Husic.

Making history on Tuesday, Aly and Husic were sworn in to the federal cabinet, proudly clutching their Qurans, as the nation watched on.

It was a moment they had been hoping would happen, a potential reflection of changing perceptions of a community that has struggled with online and in-person vilification and abuse.

“In the post 9/11 years, Muslims around Australia were left with a profound sense of loss,” Aly told the Guardian

“It particularly impacted young Muslims who had never considered themselves anything but Australian. The political rhetoric that followed those years fed into Islamophobia and division.

“I hope that we are now witnessing a new era – an era where Australia is truly inclusive and where that inclusivity is reflected in our political institutions.”

Aly was also the first Muslim woman elected to parliament, winning her seat of Cowan in Western Australia in 2016 and increasing her margin by 9% this year.

She said she was keenly aware of the significance of her appointment, beyond the responsibility it entails, reflecting on how her younger self would see this moment.

“Growing up, I often struggled with finding a sense of belonging. I think young Anne would be looking on this moment and I hope that it would give her some reassurance that she does belong.

“As a Muslim woman I realise that the significance of my appointment extends beyond my own feelings and has an impact for young women who can see themselves reflected in the leadership of this nation.

“I hope that it sends them a message that there is a place for them and that they do belong.”

A counter-terrorism expert before becoming a politician, Aly said it was a “great honour” to be appointed to the frontbench, adding that it was “heartening” to be part of the most diverse cabinet in history.

“I have always said that our parliament should be a reflection of the people we serve, not just in terms of diversity of gender or ethnic background but also in professional and life experience.

“When I was first elected to parliament in 2016, it was a very different place to the parliament of 2022. Seeing the breadth of diversity among my colleagues in the Albanese Labor government is a significant moment both personally and in the history of our nation.”

It comes after Islamophobia Register Australia (IRA) reported a fourfold increase in reports of in-person incidents of anti-Muslim hate, and a spike in online Islamophobia, in particular after the Christchurch massacre.

The third Islamophobia in Australia report, released earlier this year, also showed an increase in the instances of Muslims being associated with being terrorists.

Husic, who was appointed minister for industry, told the ABC he was nervous waiting for the ceremony to begin.

“I felt the moment, the weight of that moment.”

Husic, who represents Chifley in Sydney’s west, is the son of Bosnian migrants and had previously served as parliamentary secretary to the former prime minister Kevin Rudd.

At the time he was also sworn in while holding a Quran and faced a fierce backlash online, but said he felt things have changed in the intervening years.

“I think things have changed quite a bit and the country is a lot more understanding and accepting,” he said.

Source: The Guardian

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

https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2022/jun/03/australias-first-muslim-federal-ministers-anne-aly-and-ed-husic-hope-appointments-mark-new-era-of-inclusivity

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Over 1,000 anti-Muslim attacks reported in Austria in 2021

Askin Kiyagan  

02.06.2022

VIENNA

Austria saw 1,061 incidents of anti-Muslim racism and Islamophobia last year, according to a new report released on Thursday.

According to the 2021 Report on Anti-Muslim Racism released by the Austrian Documentation and Counseling Center for Muslims (Dokustelle Osterreich), the majority of the attacks took place on digital platforms as more social interaction was on the internet due to COVID-19 restrictions.

The report said that 69% of those exposed to anti-Muslim racism, verbal and physical attacks, were women and 26% were men.

In many incidents, women wearing headscarf were verbally harassed, and in some cases, they were subjected to physical assaults.

While 65.4% of the attacks against Muslims were carried out on online platforms, 34.6% of them happened in various areas of social life.

The report also said that 77% of the racist attacks were carried out by men and 22% by women.

The report said hate speech and incitement toward Muslims contributed to 78.5% of the total incidents.

While insults constituted 9.1% of the reported cases of anti-Muslim racism, physical damage to property belonging to Muslims constituted 2.4%.

Some 4% of the reported cases were discriminatory practices and racist behavior against Muslims in various areas of social life.

Source: Anadolu Agency

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

https://www.aa.com.tr/en/europe/over-1-000-anti-muslim-attacks-reported-in-austria-in-2021/2604313

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Muslim doctor on Queen's Birthday Honours list urges UK govt to help poor families

02 June, 2022

A British Muslim doctor named in Queen Elizabeth II's Birthday Honours list made a tearful plea for the UK government to do more to help struggling families.

Oxford University Hospitals consultant Dr Raghib Ali received an OBE for his services to Britain's National Health Service (NHS) amid the Covid-19 pandemic, during which he returned to the frontline as an unpaid volunteer.

“Growing up, there were days when we would not have food to eat. The chances of a child in my circumstances and getting a job let alone going to a top university like Cambridge were pretty much zero," Dr Ali, 46, told The Mirror.

"The Government must do more to help children who have big dreams but are growing up in poor backgrounds. There are pockets of deprivation in every city across the country."

Speaking about his father, who he lost during the pandemic, Dr Ali said: "He always had high ambitions for his children. He would have been so shocked and amazed to see me get this honour."

Queen Elizabeth's Birthday Honours list was announced on Wednesday, in the runup to her Platinum Jubilee celebrations.

Source: The New Arab

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

https://english.alaraby.co.uk/news/muslim-doctor-given-obe-urges-uk-govt-help-poor-families

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Though recognized as terror group, PKK openly maintains dangerous foothold in Europe

Busra Nur Cakmak  

02.06.2022

With demonstrations by a known terrorist group taking place openly in major European cities, the Turkish government is sounding the alarm over a group that has killed tens of thousands and supported human trafficking, drugs, and organized crime being free to walk the streets.

On Wednesday, a group of terrorist organization PKK protestors held a march in central London shouting anti-Turkish slogans, marching from Highbury and Islington station to Leicester Square under police cordon.

The group of around 50 men and women carried pictures of Abdullah Ocalan, the terror group’s convicted ringleader, and various PKK symbols and flags. Police were seen walking alongside the marchers, who also disrupted the normal flow of traffic.

After supporters of the PKK terror group also recently held demonstrations in France and Germany – both members of the European Union – the Turkish Foreign Ministry on Monday summoned the envoys of both countries to lodge a protest, Türkiye’s top diplomat said on Tuesday.

“We have summoned both ambassadors to the ministry ... Our missions in those countries (France and Germany) have also made contacts," said Mevlut Cavusoglu, adding that the envoys were given a diplomatic note stressing that no more such demonstrations should be allowed.

The PKK is listed as a terrorist organization by Türkiye, the European Union, and the US, and is responsible for the deaths of 40,000 people, including women, children, and infants. The YPG – which also has a presence in Europe, openly sanctioned by several governments – is the terrorist PKK’s Syrian branch.

Recruitment

The EU’s law enforcement agency Europol classified the PKK as an “ethno-nationalist” and “separatist” terrorist group, saying in its 2020 and 2021 reports that the group still uses European countries for propaganda, recruitment, and fundraising activities, even though in most it is officially banned.

“The group maintained an apparatus that provided logistical and financial support to its operatives in Turkey and neighbouring countries and promoted its political objectives. This apparatus mainly operated under the guise of legally recognised entities, such as Kurdish associations,” said Europol’s EU Terrorism Situation & Trend Report.

According to the report, PKK recruitment networks within Europe also played a part in EU citizens or residents joining conflicts in the Middle East such as in Syria and Iraq.

Fundraising

The PKK also “continued to use Europe for fundraising by legal and illegal means. These included fundraising campaigns and donations as well as extortion and other organised criminal activities,” said Europol.

The report said that one individual was arrested in Germany in 2020 for being in charge of PKK structures in a number of federal states. Another was convicted “of charges relating to his role in the Mainz area (Rhineland-Palatinate, Germany) as a full-time PKK cadre as of early May 2018,” as he was in charge of organizing and supervising fundraising campaigns and events, the report said.

The terrorist fundraiser sent some €223,000 ($238,460) to the PKK while receiving a monthly salary of €250 as financial support, in addition to reimbursement of travel and other expenses, it added.

Similarly, Europol stated in its 2020 report: "Members and sympathizers of the PKK continued to be involved in legal and illegal activities to raise funds in order to support the group and its affiliates."

Vandalism

Several European countries told Europol that the group was also involved in serious and organized criminal activities, according to the report.

PKK sympathizers vandalized mosques and shops belonging to the Turkish community in Germany. Such incidents were also reported in Belgium and Switzerland, Europol said in a 2020 report.

This May, at a children’s festival in Basel, Switzerland, a group of 30 PKK supporters verbally attacked Turkish families taking part in the festival. Then they threw iron barriers meant to mark off the celebration area at them, leaving at least six people wounded and needing medical treatment.

The Turkish government denounced the attack.

Drug trafficking

The terrorist group PKK plays an active role in continent-wide drug trafficking, the EU drugs agency (EMCDDA) and Europol also reported.

A report by the agency and Europol decried growing gang violence and drug-related homicide in Europe, and cited the terrorist PKK’s role in this.

“The PKK … has been reported to be involved in organized crime,” said the 260-page 2019 EU Drug Market Report, citing “examples of its engagement in the drug trade in the EU.”

The document explains the drug market’s links to wider criminal activities, human trafficking, and terrorism.

“Organized crime may feed terrorism through a variety of channels, including supplying weapons, financing terrorist activities through drug distribution and infiltrating financial markets,” it warned.

Turkish officials have stressed the PKK’s pivotal role in European drug trafficking and organized crime.

In 2018, Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu said the terrorist PKK controls the vast majority of drug trafficking in Europe, earning billions in the process.

“Especially in Europe, the PKK controls 80% of the drug trade, and it is estimated that the terrorist group earns around $1.5 billion a year,” said Soylu, adding that it uses its profits from illegal drugs to buy weapons for attacks.

Violent left-wing and anarchist extremism and terrorism ‘never completely disappeared’

Individuals who joined the YPG/PKK out of "left-wing extremist ideological convictions," acquire or strengthen combat skills that could "be used in terrorist activities in Europe," said an internal EU discussion paper by Gilles de Kerchove, coordinator of the office of EU Counter-Terrorism, released last year by non-profit monitoring group Statewatch.

The document, titled “EU action to counter left-wing and anarchist violent extremism and terrorism,” said that though the main terror threat in Europe comes from "jihadist terrorists," violent left-wing and anarchist extremism and terrorism have "never completely disappeared."

It added that for many left-wing violent extremists in Europe, solidarity with left-leaning militias in northern Syria, such as YPG/PKK terrorists, carries "great importance"

The document said that despite this, European authorities do not prosecute "volunteers" who join the YPG as armed fighters, because the bloc does not recognize the group, which is the PKK's offshoot in Syria, as a terrorist group.

Source: Anadolu Agency

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

https://www.aa.com.tr/en/europe/though-recognized-as-terror-group-pkk-openly-maintains-dangerous-foothold-in-europe/2604053

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Anti-extremism Prevent strategy 'failing to engage Muslim communities'

3 Jun 2022

The government's flagship counter-extremism Prevent strategy is failing to engage with Muslim communities, a government adviser has said.

Dame Sara Khan said a "vacuum" of information about its purpose had been left by the government, which was then being filled by Islamists.

She added the government must address the concerns of Muslim communities.

Dame Sara also said fears of racism accusations made some local authorities uncomfortable with tackling extremism.

The controversial Prevent scheme was launched in 2007 and was designed to stop people becoming terrorists and to reduce the terror threat to the UK by stopping people from being drawn into terrorism.

In the year to March 2020, just over 6,000 people were referred to the Prevent scheme in England and Wales, because of concerns they were at risk of radicalisation.

However, it has long been criticised by some Muslim groups for what they see as an unfair focus on their communities.

Speaking on the BBC's Political Thinking podcast, Dame Sara said the government had failed to explain what the counter-terror strategy is to Muslim communities, which "in essence... left a vacuum" about the purpose of the scheme to be "dominated" by Islamists.

"So those types of challenges have continued and I think continuing to engage with communities, explaining what the programme is, addressing concerns - that's got to continue in a much better way than we've seen previously," she added.

Dame Sara - a human rights campaigner who advises the government on social cohesion - has been a vocal supporter of Prevent, but has faced previous allegations of being too close to the Home Office.

This intervention, from an adviser admired by Prime Minister Boris Johnson, comes as ministers are preparing to publish a review into how effective the strategy is.

Dame Sara, who now advises levelling up secretary Michael Gove on how local communities can counter extremism, also claimed that some groups have used accusations of Islamophobia as a cover for extremist practices.

She said she had seen examples of local councillors who felt unable to push back against the radicalisation of young Muslims.

Dame Sara is not the only Conservative critic of the scheme, with former justice secretary Robert Buckland arguing last year that it needs urgent work and a more "joined up" approach, following the killing of Sir David Amess.

Source: BBC

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

https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-politics-61679347

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Russia urges Turkey to ‘refrain from actions’ which could escalate tensions in Syria

02 June, 2022

Russia urged Turkey to “refrain” from launching an offensive operation in Northern Syria to avoid “provoking an additional escalation of tensions” in the country, after Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced launching a military campaign targeting Kurdish “terrorists”.

“We received with alarm reports of such a forceful operation. Such a step, in the absence of the consent of the legitimate government of Syria, would constitute a direct violation of the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Syria, and would provoke an additional escalation of tension in this country,” Russian foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said on Thursday.

She added: “We hope that Ankara will refrain from actions that could lead to a dangerous deterioration of the already difficult situation in Syria.”

Erdogan had announced that Turkey will launch a cross-border operation against the Syrian Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG), which Ankara considers a terrorist group linked to the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) – an outlawed Kurdish group which has led an insurgency against Turkey and created a conflict that has killed tens of thousands.

Source: Al Arabiya

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

https://english.alarabiya.net/News/world/2022/06/02/Russia-urges-Turkey-to-refrain-from-actions-which-could-escalate-tensions-in-Syria

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South Asia

 

Mullah Yaqoub wants cordial bilateral ties with India

3 Jun 2022

KABUL (Pajhwok): Acting Defence Minister has expressed optimism regarding the establishment of cordial relationship with India and other countries in the region.

In an exclusive interview with Indian TV Channel News 18, Mulalh Yaqoub said: “I am positive about this aspect and we always want to have these relations with India. This is the policy of the Islamic Emirate, to have cordial and neutral relations with all countries. Similarly, we want to have amicable ties with India and there is no problem.”

He added: “My view is that we should have cordial relations with India. We welcome India by keeping our doors open for them. We hope that India will also take initiatives and strengthen the relationship with us.”

He was also positive regarding humanitarian support provided by India after the regime change last year in Afghanistan.

“We have great expectations as India has provided much assistance in the past to Afghanistan. When our government was formed, India also provided humanitarian aid and assisted us, which is exemplary.”

“We appreciate and convey our gratitude for the support provided by India and we hope that India will continue its assistance to the people of Afghanistan.”

When asked about defence relationship with Indian, Mullah Yaqoub said: “Yes, we want such a relationship with all countries and also want this relationship with India. But, before the beginning of defence relations, the first requisite is to have good diplomatic relations and take it forward.”

“When we will together have cordial political and diplomatic relations, then only we would be ready for defence relations. Neither there will be any problem with it nor do we see any issue with it.”

Referring to Afghan military personnel of the past government currently Indian, he said: “We have taken many steps in this regard and have called upon, invited and requested all those Afghans who went to foreign countries.”

“Many of them returned and are working here with their duties. Those men who remained here, we are aware of this and call upon them to return. It is Afghan tradition not to desert anyone and we are pledged to this.”

When asked about Durand Line disputes with Pakistan, he said. “Our relations with Pakistan on the Durand Line and on a regional basis are political in nature. Inshallah, our relations are good and there are no major issues between us.”

“On the issue of boundaries, I would mention that both countries are separate and issues are bound to come up as is evident with other countries. However, these incidents are not serious enough to cause a disruption in our relations.”

“We have made efforts to resolve the issues which come up between us through talks. There are no major issues between us. On the matter of the Indian embassy, we request that they should come and open their embassy and send an ambassador here and agree to have our ambassador in India so that diplomatic relations could begin, which will also set the ground for defence and other relations.”

Source: Pajhwok

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

https://pajhwok.com/2022/06/03/mullah-yaqoub-wants-cordial-bilateral-ties-with-india/

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India reminds Pakistan of its 'shameful history' of genocide in Bangladesh

June 3, 2022

Responding to Islamabad's attack on New Delhi at the UN Security Council over Kashmir, India has reminded Pakistan of its "shameful history" of committing the genocide of hundreds of thousands of people in Bangladesh for which it has not apologised or even acknowledged.

"The reign of terror unleashed by Pakistan on the population of the then East Pakistan, saw hundreds of thousands killed brutally; several thousands of women were raped," Kajal Bhatt, a counsellor in India's UN mission, said on Thursday.

"Today, we are discussing how to strengthen accountability and justice for serious violations of international law," but Pakistan is going on "like a broken record" spewing "malicious" propaganda against India, she added.

"The irony is perhaps lost on the representative of Pakistan, given their shameful history of committing genocide in what was then East Pakistan, and what is now Bangladesh, over 50 years back for which there has not even been an acknowledgement much less apology or accountability," Bhatt said while exercising the right of reply to Pakistan's statement.

"Innocent women, children, academics and intellectuals were treated as weapons of war in an act of calculated genocide carried out by the Pakistani army what it called 'Operation Searchlight'."

Albania, which is the President of the Council this month, convened the debate on "Strengthening accountability and justice for serious violations of international law".

During the debate, Pakistan's Acting Permanent Representative Aamir Khan accused India of "grave breaches of international criminal law" in Kashmir and of trying to change its demographics from Muslim majority to Hindu majority by cancelling its special constitutional status.

In response, Bhatt said: "The only attempts at demographic changes are being perpetrated by terrorists supported by his country who have been targeting members of religious minorities in Jammu and Kashmir as well as those who refuse to toe their line.

"The only contribution that Pakistan can make is to stop its support for terrorism directed against my country and my people. India will continue to take firm and decisive steps to respond to cross border."

She said that Khan "presents a live example in the Security Council of how a state continues to evade accountability for serious crimes of genocide and ethnic cleansing".

Source: Business Standard

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

https://www.business-standard.com/article/current-affairs/india-reminds-pakistan-of-its-shameful-history-of-genocide-in-bangladesh-122060300190_1.html

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Security concerns leave Afghan evacuees stuck in Balkan camp

03 June, 2022

For some Afghans who were evacuated as their country fell to the Taliban last summer, the journey to the United States has stalled, and perhaps ended, at a sun-baked cluster of tents and temporary housing on an American base in the Balkans.

While more than 78,000 Afghans have arrived in the US for resettlement since August, the future for those who have been flagged for additional security vetting and diverted to Camp Bondsteel, in the small nation of Kosovo, remains up in the air.

The US won’t force the dozens there to return to Afghanistan, where they could face reprisals. Their frustration is growing.

Some Afghans at the base, which has been shrouded in secrecy, took the unusual step this week of staging a protest, holding up signs with messages such as “we want justice,” according to photos sent to The Associated Press.

“They just keep repeating the same things, that it takes time and we must be patient,” one of the Afghans, Muhammad Arif Sarwari, said in a text message from the base.

Their complaints open a window into an aspect of the evacuation and resettlement of Afghans that has gotten little attention because US authorities, and the government of Kosovo, have been reluctant to say much about the people sent to Bondsteel.

The base houses a mix of adults and children, because some of the people who have so far failed to get a visa to the US are traveling with family.

Sarwari, a former senior intelligence official with the Afghan government, said there are about 45 people there, representing about 20 or so individual visa cases, after a flight to the US left with 27 of the refugees on Wednesday.

The Biden administration won’t provide details, but acknowledges that some of the evacuees did not make it through what it calls a “a multi-layered, rigorous screening and vetting process” and won’t be permitted to enter the US

“While the vast majority of Afghan evacuees have been cleared through this process, the small number of individuals who have been denied are examples of the system working exactly as it should,” said Sean Savett, a spokesman for the National Security Council.

In all, about 600 Afghans have passed through Bondsteel, according to the government of Kosovo, which initially authorized use of the base for evacuees for a year but recently agreed to extend that until August 2023.

Kosovo, which gained independence from Serbia in 2008 with US support, has also provided little information about the Afghans at Bondsteel, citing the privacy of the refugees.

Prime Minister Albin Kurti said in a statement that the government is proud of its role providing temporary shelter to them.

Afghans are housed in a section of Bondsteel called Camp Liya, named for an Afghan child handed to the US Marines over a fence at the Hamid Karzai International Airport during the evacuation, according to a US military publication.

It was the chaotic nature of that evacuation that led to the need for an overseas facility in the first place. As the Afghan government collapsed, thousands of people made it onto military transport planes with minimal screening before they arrived at one of several overseas transit points.

The people sent to Bondsteel were stopped and diverted for a host of reasons, including missing or flawed documents or security concerns that emerged during overseas vetting by the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security, officials have said.

At the same time, some in Congress have criticized the administration for what they say has been inadequate vetting of Afghan refugees.

Sarwari made it to Kuwait from Afghanistan in early September with his wife and two of his daughters and says he doesn’t know why he’s been held up.

He was a prominent figure in Afghanistan, serving as the former director of intelligence after the US invasion in 2001. Before that, he was a top official with the anti-Taliban Northern Alliance.

Both positions would make him a target of the Taliban if he were to return.

“The vetting team keeps telling us sorry, Washington is just deciding some political issues,” he said.

Sarwari has applied for a special immigrant visa, which is issued to people who worked for the US government or its allies during the war. He has not received a response, according to his lawyer, Julie Sirrs.

“In theory, he is free to leave but it’s not clear where he could go,” Sirrs said. “He obviously cannot return to Afghanistan. He’s clearly in danger if he returns.”

He and others live a circumscribed existence on Bondsteel. Although technically not detained, they cannot leave the arid, rocky base and have spent months in tents, which were adorned with handwritten signs during this week’s protest. One said “unfair decision,” while another said “children are suffering.”

Source: Al Arabiya

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

https://english.alarabiya.net/News/world/2022/06/03/Security-concerns-leave-Afghan-evacuees-stuck-in-Balkan-camp

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Southeast Asia

 

'Shariah-Compliant Commission needed for Muslim country like Malaysia'

By Mohamed Basyir

May 31, 2022

KUALA LUMPUR: The establishment of Shariah-Compliant Commission, as proposed by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob recently, is necessary for a Muslim country such as Malaysia.

Deputy Minister in the Prime Minister's Department (Religious Affairs) Datuk Ahmad Marzuk Shaary said that various aspects relating to shariah compliance would be under the purview of the commission.

He said that the proposal will be reviewed further before implementation.

"Shariah compliance is not only about food, whether halal or not, but also on other matters such as muamalat (engagement between people).

"It is a good initiative to set up the commission, we welcome the proposal, and it must be welcomed by others as well especially the religious bodies," he said after officiating the Federal Territory Islamic Religious Council (MAIWP) Cashless Food Distribution to Asnaf initiative and Majlis Semarak Syawal here today.

Also present were MAIWP acting chief executive officer Mohd Nizam Yahya and Boost Life chief executive officer Ungku Norliza Syazwan Ungku Halmie.

The Prime Minister announced yesterday that the regulation of the country's halal industry can be comprehensively consolidated by setting up a Shariah-Compliant Commission.

Source: NST

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

https://www.nst.com.my/news/nation/2022/05/801042/shariah-compliant-commission-needed-muslim-country-malaysia

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Malaysia ranks first again in global Muslim travel index amid 'fragile' events

03 Jun 2022

Malaysia has maintained its position as the top halal travel destination in the world. The country came first again in the list of top 'Muslim-Friendly Destination of the Year (OIC)', according to the MasterCard-CrescentRating Global Muslim Travel Index (GMTI) 2022.

Malaysia has held the top position since the launch of the index in 2015. Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Indonesia took joint second position this year.The GMTI monitors the overall performance of the Muslim travel market.

Tourism, Arts and Culture Minister Datuk Seri Nancy Shukri said the country is honoured to be named the top Muslim-friendly destination once again.

"We remain dedicated in advocating for Muslim-friendly tourism and hospitality in the local and global scale," she said during her keynote address.

Nancy also highlighted the importance of sustainable tourism during the event, which was broadcasted virtually.

"Ultimately, in this day and age, tourism isn’t just about making travellers feel good, but it’s about the transformative potential of tourism to everyone who has a stake in this industry – everyone from the tourist, the investor, the industry player, the community, the government, the country, and more," she said.

According to Nancy, Islamic tourism reflects the values of sustainable tourism."It promotes sustainability in many forms, from economic, social and spiritual sustainability to environmental, cultural and heritage sustainability," she said.

A fragile rise

The index was revealed in conjunction with the Halal In Travel-Global Summit 2022 that was held in Singapore recently.

MasterCard and CrescentRating reported that prior to the pandemic, the Muslim traveller market exhibited a strong growth with 108 million Muslim travellers in 2013, jumping up to 160 million in 2019.

The latest GMTI report revealed that this market is expected to pick up again now that global borders are reopening, with a forecast of 230 million Muslims travelling by 2028.

In Malaysia, the Muslim traveller market contributed to 5.3 million international arrivals with an expenditure of RM16.72bil in 2019.

CrescentRating founder and chief executive officer Fazal Bahardeen, in the report's foreword, warned that the momentum could be disrupted by several global events that are currently taking place.

"This recovery process is fragile and could be disrupted by the continuing war in Ukraine, fuel price increases, and other health threats such as the emerging monkeypox or Covid-19 variants," he said.

However, Fazal remained optimistic about the global growth of Muslim travel.

"We stay optimistic that economies will recover soon from the pandemic’s damage to lives and livelihoods. Moreover, as the travel industry gears up for quarantine-free international travel, we believe the Muslim travel sector could contribute immensely to accelerating the recovery," he said.

He added that it's important for stakeholders to focus on key drivers that will propel the halal travel market forward in its next development phase.

"Gen Z, millennials, and women are the most influential and growing demographic within the Muslim population. 70% of the estimated population of two billion are under 40 years with Gen Z and millennials representing 50% of the population."In addition, women travellers represent one of the fastest-growing segments within the Muslim travel market. They make up around 45% of the global Muslim arrivals," he explained.

More meaningful holidays

The GMTI 2022 also noted that meaningful travel in the Muslim travel space is gaining momentum, as younger Muslims are looking for personal development while exploring the world.

"The importance of giving back to the community and protecting the environment to conserve natural resources is fundamental to the objectives of the faith. In addition, the lockdown during the pandemic and the damage it did to the lives and livelihoods has further increased the awareness of being community and socially conscious even when traveling," the report said.

Islamic Tourism Centre director-general Datuk Dr Mohmed Razip Hasan said the modern Muslim traveller now has more sophisticated needs.

“Muslim travellers now seek meaningful and transformative experiences that will hopefully contribute to their growth as human beings upon returning to their homeland," he said.

And destinations should respond accordingly to these new needs of Muslim travellers.

"Destination managers could create value for this particular group of Muslim tourists by offering them to sign up for volunteer programmes at the destination they are visiting, mingle and socialise with the local community and get themselves involved in activities like going to religious classes and joining community clean up programmes,” he explained.

Attending to the needs of the modern Muslim travellers will make businesses relevant, said Mastercard division president (Southeast Asia) Safdar Khan.

"With the rise of environmental sustainability, businesses must look beyond developing personalised travel experiences, and consider how they may incorporate sustainability in their offerings.

"Asia Pacific is renowned for its popularity with Muslim travellers. As queues and crowds once again become a familiar sight at airports, it is important to look at the changing nature of travel, and the shifts in the demographics of Muslim travellers due to the rising influence of Gen Z, millennials, and women," he said.

At the same time, Safdar reminded stakeholders to focus on tourism's biggest selling point – experiences.

Source: The Star

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

https://www.thestar.com.my/lifestyle/travel/2022/06/03/malaysia-ranks-first-again-in-global-muslim-travel-index-amid-039fragile039-events

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Najib hits back at criticism of false claims on income inequality

May 31, 2022

PETALING JAYA: Former prime minister Najib Razak has hit back at criticisms over his statement that income inequality had widened under the Pakatan Harapan (PH) administration.

Najib, who raised the issue during his recent debate with opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim, cited data from the statistics department to show the increase in the Gini coefficient during PH’s time in government.

“I don’t do false claims or fake news,” he said on Facebook.

Najib was responding to allegations that he made false claims on the matter as World Bank statistics only provided data up until 2015.

He, however, said the statistics department provided data up until 2019.

“As you can see, Malaysia’s Gini coefficient experienced its sharpest drop in history during my time as prime minister, dropping from 44.1 to 39.9,” he said.

He said that during his administration, B40 and M40 household income experienced higher yearly growth compared to T20 due to the policies introduced at the time and the expansion of various programmes for jobs and small businesses.

The introduction of the goods and services tax (GST), Najib said, further contributed to the positive growth of B40 and M40 household income as wealthier people faced increased taxes the more they spent on non-exempted items.

“Income equality improved at its fastest pace during this time, lifting millions of Malaysians out of hardcore poverty,” he said.

Source: Free Malaysia Today

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

https://www.freemalaysiatoday.com/category/nation/2022/05/31/najib-hits-backs-at-criticism-of-false-claims-on-income-inequality/

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Africa

 

Tunisian judges’ association calls President Saied’s move to sack judges a ‘massacre’

02 June, 2022

The Tunisian Judges Association on Thursday called the president’s decision to sack dozens of judges as a “massacre” and called on members to oppose it.

President Kais Saied on Wednesday dismissed 57 judges, accusing them of corruption and protecting terrorists in a purge of the judiciary - his latest step to tighten his grip on power in the North African country.

Source: Al Arabiya

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

https://english.alarabiya.net/News/north-africa/2022/06/02/Tunisian-judges-association-calls-President-Saied-s-move-to-sack-judges-a-massacre-

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US says Tunisia undermining democratic institutions after purge of judges

03 June, 2022

Washington on Thursday accused Tunisia’s President Kais Saied of undermining the country’s democratic institutions after he fired dozens of judges amid a raft of measures that appeared designed to consolidate one-man rule.

Saied, who has also replaced the independent electoral commission and said he will introduce a new constitution this month, accused the judges of corruption and protecting terrorists in a televised address on Wednesday.

US State Department spokesperson Ned Price said the purge was part of “an alarming pattern of steps that have undermined Tunisia’s independent democratic institutions.”

US officials had communicated with their Tunisian counterparts the importance of checks and balances in a democratic system, Price said during a regular press briefing.

Source: Al Arabiya

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

https://english.alarabiya.net/News/north-africa/2022/06/03/US-says-Tunisia-undermining-democratic-institutions-after-purge-of-judges

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UN's efforts to stabilize Libya discussed at international environmental meeting

Mehmet Nuri Uçar  

03.06.2022

TRIPOLI, Libya

The chairman of Libya's Presidential Council, Mohamed al-Menfi, met with UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Thursday to discuss the UN's efforts to stabilize Libya and end the transitional period.

According to the media office of the Presidential Council, Menfi and Guterres met at Stockholm+50, the UN conference on the environment being held from June 2-3 in the Swedish capital Stockholm.

Menfi praised the UN’s efforts through its mission in Libya to support the people in reaching a peaceful solution to restore security, stability and peace to the country.

Guterres also stressed the importance of the work by all parties to maintain stability in the capital Tripoli and throughout the country.

The UN is making efforts for holding elections in Libya as soon as possible on a constitutional basis.

At the meetings of the UN-led Libyan Political Dialogue Forum in November 2020, it was decided to hold presidential and parliamentary elections in the country on Dec. 24, 2021, but they could not be held on the scheduled date.

The House of Representatives, based in the eastern city of Tobruk, elected Fathi Bashagha as prime minister in a session which most of the deputies in the country’s west did not attend on Feb. 10 on the grounds that the mandate of the Government of National Unity (GNU) had expired on Dec. 24, 2021.

Source: Anadolu Agency

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

https://www.aa.com.tr/en/middle-east/uns-efforts-to-stabilize-libya-discussed-at-international-environmental-meeting/2604513

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Mideast

 

Iran calls exodus of Black staffers from Biden White House 'systematic racial discrimination'

Adam Lucente

June 2, 2022

An Iranian official is calling out the United States for racism after a report on Black employees leaving the White House.

What happened: The US news outlet Politico reported on May 31 that at least 21 Black staffers have left the White House since late 2021 or are planning to leave. The employees noted a lack of support from their superiors and insufficient opportunities for promotion in the US President Joe Biden administration. Some White House staffers refer to the exodus as “Blaxit,” referring to a “black exit.”

The head of Iran’s High Council for Human Rights Kazem Gharibabadi commented on the report today, saying it demonstrates racism in American society.

“The exodus of African American staffers from the White House #Blaxit is emblematic of the systematic racial discrimination against non-White ethnic minorities,” said Gharibabadi, the official Islamic Republic News Agency reported.

Why it matters: This is not the first time Gharibabadi has spoken out on racial issues in the US. In December, he pledged to sanction unspecified American individuals and entities due to issues regarding police treatment of Black people in the country.

Al-Monitor could not find evidence the Islamic Republic followed through with the sanctions. Many American politicians, defense contractors and others are already sanctioned by Iran, including former President Donald Trump, per the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Iran has extensive issues of its own with racial, ethnic and religious discrimination. Kurds in Iran are disproportionately executed and underrepresented in top government positions, according to the United Nations. Members of the Baha’i religious group are regularly smeared in state media and lack official recognition by the government, according to the Atlantic Council in Washington, DC. Arabs in the southwest Khuzestan province have for years accused the government of failing to provide them with clean drinking water, and this has led to protests.

Some of Iran’s proxy groups in the Middle East also espouse hatred toward Jews. The Houthi rebels in Yemen regularly use the slogan “damn the Jews” in their propaganda, for example. Interestingly, Iran is home to the largest Jewish community in the Middle East outside of Israel. Though only around 8,000 Jews remain in Iran, compared to more than 200,000 Iranian Jews worldwide, most of them in Israel and the United States.

Source: Al Monitor

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

https://www.al-monitor.com/originals/2022/06/iran-calls-exodus-black-staffers-biden-white-house-systematic-racial

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Ayatollah Khamenei Asks Pope to Continue Defending Oppressed People in Yemen, Palestine

2022-June-2

In his message, Ayatollah Khamenei lauded certain stances taken by the pontiff in strengthening interaction between Islam and Christianity and speaking for the oppressed people in the world.

“We expect you to continue to work to defend the oppressed people of the world, specially in Palestine and Yemen, and to have a clear and transparent stance in that respect,” the message read.

It further noted that the Leader of the Islamic Revolution expects action to be taken in defense of the Palestinian people and believes that the Palestinian issue should be decided by native Palestinians in a free election with the participation of all the native people, including followers of all religions.

The message was delivered to the supreme authority of the Catholic Church on Monday through Ayatollah Alireza Arafi, the head of Islamic seminaries in Iran, who was on a visit to the Vatican.

Pope Francis, for his part, conveyed his warm greetings to the Leader of the Islamic Revolution.

Pope Francis and Ayatollah Arafi, during their meeting at the Vatican, emphasized the need to boost synergy and cooperation among different religions, especially Islam and Christianity.

He also spoke about challenges facing the contemporary world, oppression against nations, poverty and hunger, warmongering rhetoric, illegal occupation of sovereign states, internationally organized oppression, environmental crises, and increase in extremism, according to Hawzah News.

Source: Fars News Agency

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

https://www.farsnews.ir/en/news/14010312000238/Ayallah-Khamenei-Asks-Ppe-Cnine-Defending-Oppressed-Peple-in-Yemen-

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Family Members Not in Contact with Jailed Iranian Ex-Official for 28 Days

2022-June-2

Nouri’s family members said that he has not been able to contact them for 28 days now, the Iranian Judiciary’s Media Center reported on Wednesday.

The Swedish judiciary has reportedly cut off communication with his family after relocating him to another detention center, leading to serious concerns among his family in Iran.

Nouri was arrested upon arrival in Sweden at Stockholm Airport in November 2019 and immediately imprisoned. He has been held in solitary confinement for over two years.

Swedish prosecutors have requested the maximum penalty of life imprisonment for Nouri, accusing the former Iranian judiciary official of prisoner abuse.

The charges against Nouri stem from allegations leveled against him by members of the anti-Iran Mojahedin Khalq Organization (MKO) terrorist group. Nouri has vehemently rejects the allegations.

Iran's Foreign Minister Hossein Amir Abdollahian has denounced his detention as “illegal”.

Swedish judicial authorities have been preventing Nouri from contacting his family since moving him to a different detention center.

Upon arrest, he was forbidden for around eight months from making phone calls to his family members, and barred from meeting them in person for two years.

Last month, Iran’s Judiciary Spokesman Zabihollah Khodayian said on Tuesday that Hamid Nouri who is deprived of human rights is being tried in a politically-driven trial in Sweden.

Nouri’s trial couldn’t be described as judicial because it is political and lacks international and even Sweden's national legal standards, Khodayian said.

Source: Fars News Agency

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

https://www.farsnews.ir/en/news/14010312000261/Family-Members-N-in-Cnac-wih-Jailed-Iranian-Ex-Official-fr-2-Days

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Iran Offers SCO Members to Launch Single Currency Mechanism to Resolve Trade Problems

2022-June-2

Safari said on Wednesday that Iran has made the proposal in a letter sent to the Shanghai Cooperation Organization almost two months ago.

He added that the country will make follow-ups, and expressed the hope that the proposal would be approved by the organization.

Safari said that the use of a single currency by the SCO member states help them resolve issues they face in trade.

Back in September 21, Iran’s bid to become a full member of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization was unanimously approved by the bloc’s seven permanent members.

Safari said that Iran is currently engaged in preparing required documents so that it can practically enjoy the benefits of a full member and increase its interactions with other parties of the organization.

Spokesman of the Islamic Republic of Iran Customs Administration Rouhollah Latifi announced last month that the volume of trade between Iran and the SCO has grown to over $37bln in the past Iranian year (ended on March 20).

Bilateral trade between Iran and the SCO members last year was equal to 54,856,000 tons of goods, valued at 37.168 billion dollars, Latifi said.

That marked a 33-percent increase compared to the year before, he added. Iran exported 45,349,000 tons of goods, worth 20.596 billion dollars, to the SCO member states last year — registering an increase of 41 percent year on year.

Total imports from the SCO weighed 9,507,000 tons, worth 16.572 billion dollars, marking a 24-percent increase compared to the year before, Latifi said.

China, Afghanistan (which has observer SCO status), and India were the top three SCO importers of Iranian goods last year, he added.

Source: Fars News Agency

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

https://www.farsnews.ir/en/news/14010312000452/Iran-Offers-SCO-Members-Lanch-Single-Crrency-Mechanism-Reslve-Trade

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Israel prefers diplomacy on Iran but could act alone, PM Bennett tells IAEA chief

03 June, 2022

Israel told the UN nuclear watchdog on Friday that it would prefer a diplomatic resolution to the standoff over Iran’s nuclear program but could take independent action, reiterating a long-standing veiled threat to launch preemptive war.

The warning to visiting International Atomic Energy Agency chief Rafael Grossi followed calls by Western powers on the IAEA Board of Governors to rebuke Tehran for failing to answer questions on uranium traces at undeclared sites.

That dispute has further clouded so-far fruitless attempts by negotiators to resurrect a 2015 Iran nuclear deal that former US President Donald Trump quit in 2018.

Since Washington’s walkout, Iran - which says its nuclear designs are peaceful - has stepped up uranium enrichment, a process that could produce fuel for bombs.

Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett “stressed (to Grossi) the importance of the IAEA Board of Governors delivering a clear and unequivocal message to Iran in its upcoming decision,” a statement from Bennett’s office said.

“While it prefers diplomacy in order to deny Iran the possibility of developing nuclear weapons, Israel reserves the right to self-defense and action against Iran to stop its nuclear program if the international community fails to do so within the relevant time-frame,” it added without elaborating.

There was no immediate comment from Grossi’s office.

Israel’s advanced military, widely assumed to have nuclear weapons, this week signaled strategic reach by going public with an air force strike exercise over the Mediterranean Sea and the rare deployment of a naval submarine to the Red Sea.

Source: Al Arabiya

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

https://english.alarabiya.net/News/middle-east/2022/06/03/Israel-prefers-diplomacy-on-Iran-but-could-act-alone-PM-Bennett-tells-IAEA-chief

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Israeli soldiers kill two Palestinians in West Bank, Palestinian health ministry says

02 June, 2022

Israeli soldiers shot dead two Palestinians in the occupied West Bank on Thursday, the Palestinian health ministry said.

In an early morning arrest raid near the city of Bethlehem, Israeli soldiers opened fire when locals threw homemade bombs and rocks at them, the Israeli army said.

One man was killed, though it was not clear if he was involved in the confrontations, Palestinian officials said. The Palestinian foreign ministry condemned the killing.

“The escalation in field executions is clear evidence that the ruling Israeli coalition is implementing the plans and policies of the right and far right in the occupying state,” it said in a statement.

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

The Palestinian Prisoners Club, which advocates on behalf of Palestinians in Israeli jails, said the man killed had been released from an Israeli jail in 2014. It did not elaborate on the reasons for his detention.

Later on Thursday, a 17-year-old Palestinian was killed by Israeli fire after he approached Israel’s West Bank barrier, according the Palestinian Health Ministry.

The Israeli army said of the shooting near the barrier that three suspects had hurled a fire bomb at soldiers, who responded with live fire. The incident, it said, was under review.

Violence in territories where Palestinians seek statehood has simmered since US-sponsored peace talks stalled in 2014.

Source: Al Arabiya

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

https://english.alarabiya.net/News/middle-east/2022/06/02/Israeli-soldiers-kill-two-Palestinians-in-West-Bank-Palestinian-health-ministry-says

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Arab World

 

Militant attack on bus kills three, wounds 21 in eastern Syria

02 June, 2022

Militants attacked a civilian bus in eastern Syria on Thursday, killing three people and wounding 21, Syrian state TV reported.

The TV said the bus was attacked near a village in a desert area of the province of Deir el-Zour, which borders Iraq. It did not say whether the bus was attacked with machinegun fire, a missile or a roadside bomb.

The report gave no further details and there was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack. Large parts of Deir el-Zour were once controlled by the extremist ISIS.

Source: Al Arabiya

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

https://english.alarabiya.net/News/middle-east/2022/06/02/Militant-attack-on-bus-kills-three-wounds-21-in-eastern-Syria

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US envoy to UN says won’t allow Syria to be Russian ‘bargaining chip’ on Ukraine

02 June, 2022

The US envoy to the United Nations said on Thursday she plans to meet her Russian counterpart to kick off likely contentious talks over aid deliveries into Syria from Turkey, but she will not let Moscow use the issue as a “bargaining chip” on Ukraine.

US Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield has had few interactions with Russian UN Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia outside meetings of the 15-member UN Security council since Moscow invaded neighboring Ukraine on Feb. 24.

“Since Ukraine we have not had any regular meetings, but it is my intention - when I return to New York - to meet with him on Syria,” she told reporters while traveling back to the United States from Turkey, where she visited the border with Syria to assess a long-running humanitarian aid operation.

The Security Council mandate allowing the cross-border deliveries is due to expire on July 10. But Syrian ally Russia has signaled opposition to renewing the operation, arguing that it violates Syria’s sovereignty and territorial integrity and that more help should be delivered from within the country.

Already fraught tensions between the United States and Russia have only worsened in recent months. Washington has responded to Russia’s war in Ukraine with tough unilateral sanctions on Moscow, sent weapons to Ukraine and internationally isolated Russia at the United Nations.

“We will not allow the situation in Ukraine or the situation in Syria to be used as a bargaining chip with the Russians,” warned Thomas-Greenfield ahead of Security Council negotiations on the Syria aid operation.

A Security Council resolution needs nine votes in favor and no veto by Russia, China, the United States, France or Britain to pass. In the past decade, the council has been divided on Syria - Russia has vetoed more than a dozen resolutions related to Syria and was backed by China for many of those votes.

“It’s a massive ongoing operation and it would be so tragic, so catastrophic, if this Security Council resolution is not renewed,” Mark Cutts, deputy UN regional humanitarian coordinator, told Thomas-Greenfield during a visit to a UN shipment hub on the Turkish border with Syria on Thursday.

Every month some 800 trucks deliver humanitarian assistance to more than 4 million people in northwest Syria.

Source: Al Arabiya

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

https://english.alarabiya.net/News/middle-east/2022/06/02/US-envoy-to-UN-says-won-t-allow-Syria-to-be-Russian-bargaining-chip-on-Ukraine

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Ukrainian embassy says Russia ships ‘stolen’ wheat to Syria

02 June, 2022

Russia has sent its ally Syria an estimated 100,000 tons of wheat stolen from Ukraine since invading the country, the Ukrainian embassy in Beirut said, describing the shipments as “criminal activity.”

In a statement to Reuters, the embassy said the shipments included one aboard the Matros Pozynich, a Russian-flagged vessel which docked at Syria’s main sea port Latakia in late May.

Data from Refinitiv showed the Matros Pozynich loading wheat at the port of Sevastopol in Crimea - annexed by Russia from Ukraine in 2014 - with a May 19 departure date and the discharge location given as Syria.

Satellite images from Planet Labs PBC on May 29 showed the same vessel docked in Latakia.

Ukraine’s embassy in Lebanon, citing Ukrainian law enforcement, alleged the grain aboard the Matros Pozynich had been “stolen” from Ukrainian storage facilities in areas newly occupied by Russian forces.

Russia’s defense ministry and the Syrian information ministry did not immediately reply to Reuters’ requests for comment. Russia has previously denied allegations of stealing wheat from Ukraine.

“The wheat is stolen from a facility that combines wheat from three Ukrainian regions into one batch,” the embassy said.

“This is criminal activity,” it said, adding that it had tried to reach out to the Syrian authorities but had never received a response.

The embassy said more than 100,000 tons of “plundered” Ukrainian wheat had arrived in Syria over the last three months.

With international wheat prices above $400 a ton, such a volume would be worth more than $40 million.

Reuters was not able to independently verify the Ukrainian allegations.

Syria’s information ministry did not immediately respond to emailed questions from Reuters seeking comment on the accusation the country had received 100,000 tons of stolen Ukrainian wheat, and that the deliveries amounted to criminal activity.

Neither did it respond to a question on whether Syria had failed to answer Ukrainian correspondence on the issue.

The Syrian agriculture ministry and officials at the Latakia port did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Russia has been an important source of wheat imports for Syria since the start of its civil war in 2011, both as commercial imports and humanitarian aid. Moscow has also provided President Bashar al-Assad with vital military support during the conflict, sending its air force to Syria in 2015.

Russia pledged to supply Syria with one million tons of wheat under a bilateral deal in 2021, according to Interfax.

Syrian grain imports have included shipments from Crimea.

The Matros Pozynich had initially set its destination for Beirut, Lebanon, but turned its transponder off on May 25 off the Lebanese coast, according to Refinitiv ship tracking data.

On Wednesday, the ship turned its transponder back on and could be tracked sailing west, away from the Syrian coast, according to movements shown by MarineTraffic.com.

500,000 tons

Russia invaded Ukraine in February, launching what it called a “special operation” to disarm and “denazify” the country.

Ukraine and its Western allies call this a baseless pretext for a war to seize territory.

In a statement last month, Ukraine’s agriculture ministry said the theft of 500,000 tons of wheat had already been recorded from occupied regions of the country.

The grain was being sent either to Russia, primarily from the Kharkiv, Donetsk and Luhansk regions, or to Crimea from the Zaporizhia and Kherson regions, the ministry added.

In April, the Kremlin denied allegations of stolen wheat, saying it did not know where the information came from.

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Andrei Rudenko was quoted as saying by the Interfax news agency on May 25 that Russia strongly denied Western media reports of stealing grain from Ukraine: “We are not stealing anything from anyone.”

However, the Russian-controlled Ukrainian region of Kherson began exporting grain to Russia, the TASS news agency reported, citing Kirill Stremousov, deputy head of the pro-Russian military-civilian administration, earlier this week. He did not

say how payment had been organized.

Source: Al Arabiya

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

https://english.alarabiya.net/News/middle-east/2022/06/02/Ukrainian-embassy-says-Russia-ships-stolen-wheat-to-Syria

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US, Saudi Arabia welcome extending Yemen truce, urge for permanent peace

02 June, 2022

The US and Saudi Arabia welcomed on Thursday the extension of a two-month truce in Yemen and reaffirmed their support for efforts that aim to reach a permanent solution to the crisis in the war-torn country.

“I welcome the announcement today of a continuation of the truce in the Yemen conflict,” US President Joe Biden said in a statement.

Biden noted that the past two months in Yemen “have been among the most peaceful periods since this terrible war began seven years ago.”

He added that now that the truce has been extended for two more months, it’s important to make efforts to make it permanent.

The president called on all parties to work toward achieving a “comprehensive and inclusive peace process.”

Biden also praised the cooperative diplomacy from across the region that made the truce possible.

“Saudi Arabia demonstrated courageous leadership by taking initiatives early on to endorse and implement terms of the UN-led truce.”

He also highlighted Oman’s significant role in hosting and facilitating dialogue as well as Egypt’s and Jordan’s moves of opening their airports to flights from Yemen over the past month.

Separately on Thursday, Saudi Arabia and the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) also welcomed extending the truce.

The Kingdom also voiced hope that the efforts of UN special envoy Hans Grundberg will succeed in opening roads in Taiz to facilitate the movement of civilians, according to a statement issued by the foreign ministry.

Source: Al Arabiya

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

https://english.alarabiya.net/News/gulf/2022/06/02/US-GCC-welcome-extending-Yemen-truce

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Lebanese spy chief says he will visit Syria over missing US reporter

June 03, 2022

BEIRUT: Lebanon’s intelligence chief has said he will visit Syria for talks with Syrian leaders about the fate of a US reporter who went missing in Syria a decade ago.

Major General Abbas Ibrahim, said US officials want him to resume efforts to bring home Austin Tice and other Americans missing in Syria. Tice, a freelance journalist and former marine, disappeared while reporting in 2012.

In an interview with General Security magazine, his agency’s official publication, Ibrahim said that in past talks with Damascus on Tice, Syria had raised demands related to the withdrawal of US forces, a resumption of diplomatic relations, and the lifting of some US sanctions.

“We are working to resume the negotiations from where they ended” at the end of former President Donald Trump’s term, he said.

He did not say when he planned to visit Syria.

In May, US President Joe Biden told Tice’s parents that his administration would work “relentlessly” until his return was secured.

“The American officials want me to resume my efforts to resolve this problem. They want their people back. This is what they are aiming for,” Ibrahiam said.

Ibrahim, who said he met with Tice’s mother during a recent trip to the United States, said Syria had not given “clear answers” on Tice’s health or the conditions of his detention.

He said he could not confirm whether Tice was alive in the absence of confirmation from the Syrian government.

The United States suspended its diplomatic presence in Syria 2012 as it descended into a civil war which the United Nations says has killed at least 350,000 people.

Source: Arab News

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

https://www.arabnews.com/node/2095946/middle-east

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