New Age Islam
Thu Aug 13 2020, 01:14 AM

Islamic World News ( 24 Apr 2017, NewAgeIslam.Com)

‘Go To Pakistan’: Elderly Muslim Man Humiliated By Youth in Delhi Metro

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The incident took place in the violet line of Delhi Metro where the young men turned down the request of a senior citizen of vacating a seat and told him to go to Pakistan if he wishes to get a seat in the coach.(Reuters Representative Photo)

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‘Go To Pakistan’: Elderly Muslim Man Humiliated By Youth In Delhi Metro

Jaish-e-Muhammad Launches Jihad Fundraising Drive In Pakistan

Pope Francis Travels To Egypt On Friday To Build Bridges With Moderate Islam

Dolls, Teddy Bears Return To Eastern Mosul After Islamic State

The French Elections Showed The Strength Of The European Far Right — And Its Limits

 

India

‘Go To Pakistan’: Elderly Muslim Man Humiliated By Youth In Delhi Metro

‘Onus Is On Muslim Clerics To Dispel Misconceptions In Islam’: Member MPLB, Vijayapura

Don’t Politicise Triple Talaq Issue: Jamat-e-Islami Hind To Parties

Zakir's Speeches Had Targeted Shias Too

Muslim Personal Law Board is unconstitutional: Senior RSS leader

Terrorists kill PDP leader as violence spirals in Valley

Barkati Fatwa against PM: BJP threatens to move SC against Imam, TMC MP

Students protest again in Srinagar, raise 'Azadi' slogans

Hyderabad Man Allegedly Set On Fire In Saudi Arabia Dies: Report

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Pakistan

Jaish-e-Muhammad Launches Jihad Fundraising Drive In Pakistan

Yemen Conflict: 5,000 Pakistani Troops Likely To Join Saudi-Led Coalition

Four 'Hardcore Terrorists' Tried By Military Courts Hanged: ISPR

4 'Militants' Killed During Hours-Long Rangers Operation In Karachi's Urdu Bazaar

10 killed as landmine blast hits van carrying census workers in Kurram

Pakistan has defeated terrorism, claims Sartaj Aziz

Sindh govt’s ‘conditions’ on extension of Rangers’ policing powers rejected

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Arab World

Pope Francis Travels To Egypt On Friday To Build Bridges With Moderate Islam

ISIL Executes Own Senior Commanders in Syria's Raqqa

Egypt sentences 20 to death over police killings

US-backed forces enter major IS-held Syria town

Syrian Army Pre-empts Terrorists' Attack in Hama

Iran, Russia Posing against Israel, US on Major Battle Scene in Dara'a

Russia Ready to Send Ground Forces to Syria

Syrian Soldiers Score More Victories against Terrorists in Hama

Former Al-Nusra Commander Asks Tahrir Al-Sham Leader to Commit Suicide Following Defeats in Hama

Palmyra: ISIL Suffers Heavy Casualties in Attack on Syrian Army Positions

Tens of Gunmen, Family Members Leave al-Wa'er in Homs for Northern Syria

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North America

Dolls, Teddy Bears Return To Eastern Mosul After Islamic State

Anti-Semitic Incidents Rise By 86 Percent In U.S.

US Treasury sanctions Syria officials over sarin attack

US: San Diego schools launch effort against Islamophobia

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Europe

The French Elections Showed The Strength Of The European Far Right — And Its Limits

Grand Mosque Of Paris Urges French Muslims To Vote Against Far-Right Le Pen

'Others' in Europe and their influence on elections

An encounter with Europe’s new right wing activists

Muslim Council of Britain to condemn Ukip ‘bigots’

UN chief: Forced displacement of Syrians may be a war crime

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South Asia

Torture Of Detainees Persist In Afghanistan, Says UN

37 ISIS-K Militants Killed In Nangarhar Air And Ground Operations

US General In Afghanistan Suggests Russia Arming Taliban

Pentagon chief visits Afghanistan after deadly Taliban attack

Global youth summit in Bangladesh calls for unity

3 held for kidnapping Bangladeshis in Libya

Bamyan hospital inaugurated with Canada, France and AKDN support

Complex war of intelligence underway in Afghanistan: Habibi

Princess Zahra Aga Khan reaffirms continued AKDN support to Afghanistan

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Southeast Asia

Philippine President Says He Can Be 50 Times More Brutal Than Terrorists

Muslims Push Tougher Sharia Law As Malaysian Election Issue

German Jews fear growing Muslim anti-Semitism

Jakarta Election Result Spells Trouble for Jokowi and Indonesia

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Mideast

Palestinian Hunger Striker's Health Critically Worsening: Committee

Bogus anti-terror coalitions fail to ensure regional security: Rouhani

Yemen’s Hadramout celebrates first anniversary of liberation from al-Qaeda

Drone strike kills three civilians, four militants in Yemen

Iran supports Afghanistan’s anti-terror campaign: Larijani

US drone strike kills three civilians in southern Yemen

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Africa

ICC Issues Warrant Against Ex-Gaddafi Security Chief

Muslim group: Fayose wants Nigeria to burn… we are ready

El-zakzaky Want To Turn Nigeria Into An Islamic Republic, He Don’t Recognise Buhari As President – El-rufai

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau

URL: http://www.newageislam.com/islamic-world-news/new-age-islam-news-bureau/‘go-to-pakistan’--elderly-muslim-man-humiliated-by-youth-in-delhi-metro/d/110903

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‘Go to Pakistan’: Elderly Muslim man humiliated by youth in Delhi metro

Apr 25, 2017

In yet another shocking case of religious discrimination, an aged Muslim man was denied a seat in Delhi metro by a group of youth, who hurled slurs and abuses at him over his appearance.

The incident took place in the violet line of Delhi Metro where the young men turned down the request of a senior citizen of vacating a seat and told him to go to Pakistan if he wishes to get a seat in the coach.

The incident came into view after women’s right activist Kavita Krishnan unfolded this shameful incident in her Facebook post.

According to the post, the National Secretary of AICCTU, Santosh Roy, intervened and came forward in support of the old man.

When Roy asked the young men to apologise to the man, they refused and also held Roy by his collar and allegedly told him to “Go to Pakistan”.

Finally, when a guard entered the compartment at the Khan Market station. A complaint was filed at the Pandara Road police station where they were taken.

A few days later, when Roy visited the police station he came to know that the elderly man had decided not to pursue the complaint.

“The elderly gentleman had given a written statement that he accepted the apology from the two young men and that he had forgiven them keeping in mind their young age,” Krishnan added.

http://www.hindustantimes.com/delhi/go-to-pakistan-elderly-muslim-man-humiliated-by-youth-in-delhi-metro/story-6qI3JIad1Sq711FSn1hVeM.html

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Jaish-e-Muhammad launches jihad fundraising drive in Pakistan

April 25, 2017

Top jihad commander Maulana Masood Azhar’s Jaish-e-Muhammad has begun a new drive calling on landowners to gift their ushr, a religious tithe levied on the harvest, to help “martyrs, prisoners detained for Islam, the families of religious warriors, seminaries, offices and needy individuals”, an advertisement issued in Jaish’s latest house-magazine, al-Qalam, has announced.

Issued by the Jaish’s charitable wing, the al-Rehmat Trust, based at the organisation’s fortress-like Bahawalpur headquarters, the terrorist group’s ushr campaign comes just ahead of the harvest season and will compete with local mosques and traditional charities.

Pakistan’s Zakat and Ushr law, promulgated in 1980, set up layered bodies from the national to village-level to administer compulsory religious tithes. However, a 2013 audit report found no ushr had been calculated or collected from landlords and leaseholders since 1990.

Indian counter-terrorism officials have voiced concern over the Jaish’s operations targeting military and civilian facilities in Pathankot, Nagrota, Gurdaspur and Akhnoor, as well as the Indian consulate in Mazar-e-Sharif

Local leaders of the Jaish, reports in al-Qalam show, have fanned out across rural Punjab, addressing mosques to raise funds. In a sermon delivered at the Farooq-e-Azam mosque in Pattoki, not far from Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s home town of Raiwind, a Jaish leader, identified by the name “Maulana Ammar,” urged an audience of hundreds to “support the ushr campaign with commitments of cash contributions”, the magazine reports. Ammar made his case for his organisation by asserting that “jihad was a mandate of the Shari’a”.

In spite of Azhar having been held under protective custody since Islamabad admitted the Jaish was involved in last year’s attack on the Pathankot airbase, the Jaish has been actively campaigning for several months now. The investigation against Azhar has, meanwhile, stalled, with Pakistani investigators declining to provide information to the National Investigation Agency.

Earlier this year, al-Qalam reported that Azhar’s brother and deputy, Abdul Rauf Asghar, had addressed a mosque gathering in the village of Gumtala, telling it that “Islam is a world power and cannot be destroyed.” The cleric who led the congregation said, “whoever tries to destroy it will be destroyed himself. He went on: “Jihad is the most important obligation of our faith.”

Last summer, footage obtained by this newspaper showed young men outside the Jamia Uloom-e-Islam seminary in Karachi collecting funds from congregants, saying it was for “the brave young men of the Jaish-e-Muhammad who are fighting for the victory of the name of god and Islam”.

Known as the “fountainhead of jihad”, the seminary is famous for having produced several top jihadist leaders, including Jaish chief Maulana Masood Azhar and Sami-ul-Haq, the Uttar Pradesh-born head of al-Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent, or AQIS,

The Jaish is listed as one of 33 legally banned organisations by Pakistan’s National Counter-Terrorism Authority,which states on its website that the ban came on January 14, 2002. However, the organisation makes no secret of its existence, with the February 3-9 issue of al-Qalam describing Abdul Rauf Asghar, as “General of the Jaish-e-Muhammad”.

Legally, the status of the al-Rehmat Trust in Pakistan is less clear but the government of Pakistan’s Punjab reportedly told the Supreme Court last year that it had filed cases against the organisation, among others, for illegally collecting funds in an effort to contain terror financing.

The US Treasury Department states that the al-Rehmat Trust has “been involved in fundraising for JEM, including for militant training and indoctrination at its mosques and madrassas”. It also alleges the trust provides “financial support and other services to the Taliban, including financial support to wounded Taliban fighters from Afghanistan”.

In a 2014 document, the United Nations Security Council separately listed two other Jaish-linked charities, Al-Akhtar Trust International and Al-Khair Trust, as providing assistance to al-Qaeda.

http://indianexpress.com/article/india/maulana-masood-azhars-jaish-e-muhammad-launches-jihad-fundraising-drive-in-pakistan-4626984/

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Pope Francis travels to Egypt on Friday to build bridges with moderate Islam

2017-04-25

Pope Francis' trip to Egypt is undoubtedly one of the most delicate of his pontificate. He will be there for just over 24 hours, arriving on Friday, April 28. The visit comes just two weeks after the two attacks on Coptic churches that left 25 people dead.

The journey is aimed at building bridges with the Islamic world. He was invited by this Imam, the rector of Al Azhar, to speak at the Islamic university responsible for preparing most Sunni imams.

FR. SAMIR KHALIL SAMIR

Islamist

"It is good to see that the one who represents the majority of Christians is a peaceful, serene, fraternal man ... who reflects the image of Christianity. In fact, if he speaks to everyone the same way, they say 'He is a man who respects us.' And it's this that he searches to do: to give a word that is heard, because his person is respected.”

Pope Francis will deliver four important speeches. Two will be addressed to the Muslim world, one to Copts, and another to Catholics.

It will also be a trip to promote dialogue among Christians, because he will be accompanied by the Ecumenical Patriarch of the Orthodox Church, Bartholomew.

In this country of 89 million inhabitants, only 0.31 percent of the population is Catholic, or about 272,000 people. In addition, 10 percent of Egyptians are Coptic Christians, descendants of the Egyptians who converted to Christianity in the year 42 AD.

http://www.romereports.com/2017/04/25/pope-francis-travels-to-egypt-on-friday-to-build-bridges-with-moderate-islam

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Dolls, Teddy Bears Return To Eastern Mosul After Islamic State

April 24, 2017

By Mohammed Al-Ramahi

MOSUL, Iraq (Reuters) – Toy shops are thriving in eastern Mosul, with Iraqi children once again able to buy dolls, teddy bears or action figures after Islamic State was driven out of the area.

The militant group banned toys with faces or eyes during the three years they controlled Iraq’s second largest city, including any anthropomorphic animals, which they deemed a form of idolatry.

But when U.S.-trained security forces drove the group from eastern Mosul in January, two toy stores sprang up and there are now 15, toy wholesaler Abu Mohammed told Reuters.

“Under Islamic State, any toys with faces we would have to make them veiled (if it is female) or only show eyes. Now this is no longer required and there is no ban on imports,” he said at his shop, Alaad for Toys.

Abu Mohammed imports toys from China and says that most of the large toy stores actually lie in the western side of the city, which is still the site of battle between Islamic State fighters and Iraqi security forces.

“Most of the large toy stores are in the west, so as soon as liberated there will be an even bigger boom.”

For toy store owner Abu Seif, business is brisk.

“Everything a child might want is available. Before there was a lot of things banned like images and faces, now a child can come choose whatever toys they want,” he said.

Parents say buying these toys for their children will help them move on after three years of war and terror.

“Children were oppressed (under Islamic State), they didn’t leave anything they didn’t ban. No faces on toys,” said Hassan, a father who was browsing for toys.

“Everyone was oppressed young and old. The toys are back, life is back, we are free.”

For Taha, whose young son stared wide-eyed at dolls, giraffes, teddy bears, and ponies in the shop, the ban on toys was just the tip of the iceberg.

“Those toys with faces were banned under the premise of apostasy and idolatry. These are myths. They are not Muslims, they are distorting Islam,” Taha said of Islamic State.

“Children are traumatized; they (Islamic State) ruined schools, they ruined toys, their (children’s) lives are hell.”

http://www.oann.com/dolls-teddy-bears-return-to-eastern-mosul-after-islamic-state/

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The French elections showed the strength of the European far right — and its limits

Apr 24, 2017

To understand what France’s election means, and what it tells us about the rise of far-right movements around Europe, you need to understand two fundamental truths about the results.

The first is that it’s a historic victory for the far-right Marine Le Pen and her National Front party. Le Pen was one of two candidates who qualified for the second round, soundly beating the standard-bearers of both of France’s traditional establishment parties — the center-right Republicans and center-left Socialists. The once-reviled FN has clearly entered the mainstream of French politics.

At the same time, the election seemed to demonstrate the very clear limits of Le Pen’s popularity — and, potentially, European far-right politics more broadly.

Le Pen came in second in Sunday’s election, with 21.7 percent of the vote. The plurality winner, upstart centrist Emmanuel Macron, won with 23.9 percent. He’s her polar opposite in virtually every respect. She wants to restrict immigration to France and pull France out of the European Union; he supports keeping the borders open and proudly waved the EU flag at his final campaign rally. And when these two face each other one on one in a runoff in two weeks, Macron is very likely to win — every poll that’s been taken so far has him up by massive margins:

The tolerant center, in France, appears likely to hold.

What we’re seeing in France mirrors what’s happening in much of Europe. After the twin shocks of Brexit and Donald Trump’s election, the far right has seen a series of setbacks. From elections in Austria and the Netherlands to polls in all-important Germany, the far right is performing far less well than many have expected.

What these numbers suggest is that the far right has a political ceiling: that while its supporters may be hardcore, the majority of Europeans still recoil from its vision — at least for now.

“The populist radical right is at the highest in its support that it’s ever been,” says Cas Mudde, a professor at the University of Georgia who studies European populism. “On the other hand, the narrative and the discourse that we’ve had over the last few years has artificially inflated its strength.”

How stable this situation is, however — whether the far right’s influence can be contained forever — is still a very open question. While the far right may have had a bad few months, the deeper forces fueling its rise remain very much at work. And even if it never wins another election, its success has already led to some mainstream parties adopting hardline positions on immigration and the EU.

The revenge of the center

The pushback against the far right really started in December 2016, when the runoff election in Austria’s presidential race pitted center-left independent Alexander Van der Bellen against the far-right Freedom Party’s Norbert Hofer. Polls showed a nailbiter, with many giving the edge to Hofer.

Yet Van der Bellen won by a decisive 8-point margin (54-46). Crucially, he won by mounting a full-throated defense of liberal values: His most successful campaign video featured an 89-year-old Holocaust survivor warning that “it’s not the first time something like this has happened,” calling on Austrians to reject bigotry and embrace Van der Bellen’s more open vision of Austria.

The next big test for the populists came in March. The far-right PVV in the Netherlands, led by a showman with a Trump-esque haircut named Geert Wilders, had called for a ban on Muslim immigration and withdrawing from the European Union (“Nexit”). For most of the campaign, Wilders’s party had led in the polls.

Yet come Election Day, the PVV fell way short of expectations. Wilders’s party won a total of 20 seats in parliament, a distant second to the incumbent center-right VVD’s 33. While the VVD has a fairly skeptical approach to immigration, it’s relatively pro-EU. Two pro-EU parties, the left-wing Greens and centrist D-66, saw significant gains (10 seats and seven seats, respectively).

And now we have the French election, by far the most significant of the three. Once again, the populist candidate underperformed early expectations — Le Pen led the polls for most of 2017, hitting a peak of 26.3 percentage points before declining in the past month and a half as Macron rose. There’s no guarantee that he beats her in the next round, of course, but Macron is so far ahead that a polling miss would make Brexit and Trump look like babytown frolics:

Meanwhile, polling for the German election in October is a race between two pro-immigration parties, incumbent Chancellor Angela Merkel’s center-right Christian Democrats and the center-left Social Democrats. Alternatives for Deutschland, Germany’s far-right immigration skeptics, have spent 2017 in a state of civil war — its well-known leader is refusing to run as the party’s candidate for chancellor due to a lack of support — and has declined from a peak of around 12.5 percent in the polls to somewhere around 10.

All in all, it’s been a good five months for the pro-EU European center — and a pretty bad one for the far-right populists.

“The worst-case scenario we all had for 2017 ... was this set of dominoes falling,” says Yascha Mounk, a fellow at the German Marshall Fund's Transatlantic Academy. “That appears a lot less likely now.”

Why the far right is hitting a ceiling

The clearest explanation for this trend is the simplest one: Most Europeans, right now, are not anti-immigrant, anti-EU ideologues.

For years, European elections have been dominated by fights over economics, with center-left and center-right parties battling over just how large the welfare state should be. Far-right parties and their supporters, by contrast, aren’t really invested in these kinds of bread-and-butter issues. They’ve risen by calling into question basic ideas — commitments to the European Union and tolerance of minorities — that parties on both sides of the standard political divides have more or less assumed. (Britain has always been a bit of an outlier here; the Isles are historically more euroskeptic than countries on the mainland.)

What far-right parties are doing, then, is attempting to invent a largely new form of politics: one that calls for a radical reorientation of European society away from tolerance and continent-wide integration, and something closer to the kind of nationalist setup we saw in Europe prior to 1939.

There’s a reason we haven’t seen such a politics succeed since then, of course: World War II. The horror of the war and the Holocaust created a continent-wide aversion to nationalism and to anything that smelled like Nazi-style racism. The current far-right parties are running at this consensus with a battering ram.

They’ve gotten further doing it than most people expected, with their numbers surging across the continent after the 2015 refugee crisis supercharged European concerns about Muslim immigration. But when you’re starting from a place of delegitimization, where your ideas were seen by many as a betrayal of the nation’s fundamental values, even a major surge will leave you well short of what you need to control the levers of government.

The returns from the French elections show how this works in practice.

“Two-thirds of Le Pen voters chose her as their main choice. And they chose early,” explains Pippa Norris, an expert on populism at Harvard University. “That [means] her supporters are more secure, but she has more problems attracting supporters across from other parties — not surprising for any far-right or far-left candidate.”

Macron, by contrast, had a lot of backers who were less sure in their vote, and decided to vote for him late in the race. This, according to Norris, is “common with centrist candidates and parties” — it represents the fact that they’re pulling support from the political mainstream, people who might have voted for other candidates but decided that Macron was their best bet to beat Le Pen.

Indeed, the defeated candidates from the major parties — Republican François Fillon and Socialist Benoît Hamon — swiftly endorsed Macron over Le Pen after the results became clear. Their endorsements were explicitly grounded in their view of Le Pen as an enemy of basic French values.

The FN "has a history of violence and intolerance,” Fillon said in his concession speech. “Extremism can only lead to misery.”

It is, of course, possible that the losers’ appeals fall on deaf ears — and that Macron suffers what would be one of the largest two-week collapses in the history of modern democracy. Experts, however, consider it unlikely — precisely because of the FN’s inability to connect to voters in mainstream French society.

“What this shows is that the [FN] is an established political party … but one that’s still too polarizing to win,” Mudde says.

We are very far from out of the woods

The rise of the far right is not an accident, nor is it purely a result of the 2015 refugee crisis. It is the result of decades of immigration, especially of Muslim citizens, leading to a never-before-seen level of ethnic and religious diversity in a lot of European countries. Western European governments have, on the whole, done a very poor job selling their publics on the value of diversity and the need for tolerance. Many Muslim communities have closed in on themselves, rarely interacting with — or seeming to endorse — the continent’s secular values. An unrelenting wave of deadly terror attacks by Muslim fundamentalists across Europe has sparked anger and mistrust.

The result is a backlash, a kind of white riot, in France and elsewhere. The refugee crisis has helped fuel it, as did the 2008 financial collapse and subsequent eurozone crisis, which did major damage to establishment parties’ credibility. But the forces propelling the far right’s rise are not contingent on these events, and aren’t going away.

The question is: How far will this backlash take the far right? Will the core consensus on basic European values, the force that places a ceiling on far-right success, remain in place — or will it collapse in the coming years? We just don’t know enough to be sure either way.

Moreover, the far right can influence European politics even if it doesn’t ever grow strong enough to win the presidency in countries like France. There are already signs that they are forcing centrist parties, especially center-right parties, to tack against immigration and the European project, which means far-right parties stand a chance of getting much of what they want even without controlling governments.

You’ve already seen some mainstream candidates, like Fillon and the Netherlands’ Mark Rutte and Denmark’s former prime minister, Helle Thorning-Schmidt, lean to the right in response to anti-immigrant sentiment. Fillon called for new quotas that would keep immigration to a “strict minimum,” Rutte wrote an open letter telling immigrants who “rejecting our values” to “act normal or go away,” and Thorning-Schmidt (a center-left leader!) promised to deny benefits to asylum seekers if they were unemployed.

Even if the far right stops gaining, and simply stays where it is in the polls, that still means there will be a sizable bloc of far-right voters that other politicians and parties will be eying hungrily. The question is how far to the right those parties will be willing to go — and how many of their own values they’ll be willing to potentially toss aside — in an effort to woo them.

http://www.vox.com/world/2017/4/24/15401172/french-elections-le-pen-macron-april

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India

 

‘Onus Is On Muslim Clerics To Dispel Misconceptions In Islam’: Member MPLB, Vijayapura

APRIL 25, 2017

Putting on the onus on Islamic clerics to give correct information on various issues such as Talaq, Mehboobali Padaganur, member of the Muslim Personal Law Board of Vijayapura district, has said that clerics should not confine themselves to merely giving sermons on the basics of Islam.

“Islam does not mean only offering Namaz or reading the Quran; Islam offers solutions to various critical social issues too. Clerics must educate people about these aspects to dispel misconceptions in Islam,” he said. Speaking at a programme to create awareness on Muslim personal law organised by Jamaat-e-Islam-e-Hind as part of a national-level event here on Sunday, he said that awareness was essential to understand the true meaning of Islam.

Criticising the efforts being made by the Union government to bring in a Uniform Civil Code, he alleged that the government was trying to interfere in the Sharia law which is part of the Muslim personal law guaranteed by the Constitution.

“What is strange is that even the British who ruled India did not interfere in Islamic affairs; this is why the British government then formulated the Muslim personal law in 1937. The law makes it amply clear that States shall not interfere in the personal laws of Muslims and allow the community to address the issues such as property right and talaq as per the Sharia law. But the National Democratic Alliance government at the Centre is making efforts to bring changes in the law which is unacceptable to Muslims,” he said. In his address, Mohammad Yusuf Kazi, district president of the Jamat, said that the NDA government was forgetting the fact that fundamental rights were different from Directive Principles of State Policy.

“In a conflict between fundamental rights and Directive Principles, the former always overrides the latter,” he said. He said that the objective of the 15-day event was to give clarity on personal law of the Muslims who were committing crime such as divorcing their wives by pronouncing talaq thrice at one go.

http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/karnataka/onus-is-on-muslim-clerics-to-dispel-misconceptions-in-islam/article18202148.ece

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Don’t politicise triple talaq issue: Jamat-e-Islami Hind to parties

April 25, 2017

The Jamat-e-Islami Hind, a socio-cultural organisation, on Monday asked political parties not to politicise the practice of triple talaq among the Muslims.

“Talaq is a social issue and it should not be made into a political issue to suit their (political parties’) agenda,” Hasan Raza, member of the central advisory committee of the JIH, told reporters at Ahmedabad.

Raza said people, including the Muslims, had little understanding of the nuances and intricacies of triple talaq. For this, the JIH has launched an awareness campaign accross the country from April 23 to May 7, 2017, he said.

Full report at:

http://indianexpress.com/article/india/dont-politicise-triple-talaq-issue-jamat-e-islami-hind-to-parties-4627056/

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Zakir's speeches had targeted Shias too

Apr 25, 2017

NEW DELHI: Two Shia community leaders from Mumbai have in statements made to NIA confirmed that televangelist Zakir Naik had, at events organised by his NGO Islamic Research Foundation in 2007 and 2008, "intentionally" made statements that hurt the sentiments of Hindus, Shias as well as a section of Sunnis. One such meeting addressed by him at Chunabhatti, Mumbai, had even sparked protests outside IRF office at Tandel Street and it took timely intervention by one of the two Shia leaders and NIA "witnesses", Safdar Hussain Karmali, to prevent people from burning the office.

In their separate statements to NIA, Shia leaders Safdar Hussan Karmali and Abbas Ali have revealed that Naik, at an IRF gathering in Chunabhatti, Mumbai, in December 2007, had "intentionally" made a statement glorifying Yazid, "the enemy" of their revered leader Hazrat Imam Hussain. He also made offensive statements, said Karmali, who had supplied furniture like chairs and tables for the IRF gathering, regarding Muharram and the battle of Karbala, calling the latter a "political battle" and not a "religious" battle.

The statements annoyed the Shias and Sunnis so that they led a protest march comprising 400-500 persons to IRF office. A riot situation was, however, avoided with the timely intervention of Karmali. Later, posters and banners were put up all over south Mumbai against Naik. The aggrieved even approached Mumbai police commissioner D N Jadhav, who called a meeting of the peace committee to allow all sects of Muslims to express their views.Naik was represented by his brother-in-law Mubarak Kapdi who denied all allegations against the preacher.

The police commissioner appealed to all sects of ner appealed to all sects of Muslims to resolve the matter peacefully. The tension was finally defused after Naik, following many efforts by Khoja community members and leaders, tendered an apology in TOI on December 28, 2007.

Full report at:

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/zakirs-speeches-had-targeted-shias-too/articleshow/58352965.cms

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Muslim Personal Law Board is unconstitutional: Senior RSS leader

Apr 24, 2017

A senior RSS leader on Monday sparked a fresh controversy over the Islamic practice of triple talaq, claiming the All India Muslim Personal Law Board’s stand on the emotive issue has “no relevance” since it’s an “unconstitutional” body without any “religious sanction.”

National executive member of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) Indresh Kumar even went on to demand that Indian Muslims should question the locus standi of the board.

The board was constituted in 1973 to protect and uphold Shariat or Islamic laws in India.

Triple talaq – under which a Muslim man can divorce his wife by uttering “talaq” thrice – has been thrust under the national spotlight after a number of women approached the Supreme Court to ban the ritual.

The BJP-led NDA government at the Centre in its affidavit in the apex court opposed the continuation of the social practice.

The law board is against a blanket ban on triple talaq and contested the Centre’s affidavit in the court.

It has, however, called for a social boycott of those who misuse it by repeating “talaq”, the Arabic word for divorce, thrice in one sitting.

It also opposed questionnaire prepared by the Law Commission on Uniform Civil Code.

“We should salute the Muslim women who went to court (against the practice)… this is the best opportunity for India to remove fundamentalism and cruelty (to women),” Kumar said.

Kumar is also the patron of the Muslim Rashtriya Manch, an affiliate of the RSS.

He claimed the board came into existence to politically support the Congress and does not have legal or religious sanction to speak on issues related to the community.

“The board was set up by the Congress, after its (Muslim) vote bank drifted to regional parties. The party propelled Muslims leaders, who were fundamentalists and gave them money to float the board,” Kumar said at a seminar in the national capital.

He went to the extent of asserting that supporting the views of the board on triple talaq would be “a sin and a crime”.

Commenting on the campaign against Triple Talaq, the RSS functionary said a movement has begun in the country to end “fundamentalism” in Islam.

“It cannot be stopped with guns or stones. It has to be changed or it will perish,” he said.

Kumar, who served in Kashmir for long, said fundamentalism in the Valley that wants to divide India needs to be weeded out.

He, however, at the same time tried to reach out to larger Muslim population using the allegory of demon king Ravana, whose siblings despite sharing his lineage were not as evil as him.

Full report at:

http://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/muslim-personal-law-board-is-unconstitutional-senior-rss-leader/story-GQCDw5DVLInDJg6QNq7hPM.html

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Terrorists kill PDP leader as violence spirals in Valley

Apr 25, 2017

SRINAGAR: Within hours of J&K CM Mehbooba Mufti meeting Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday to discuss the spiraling violence in the Valley, terrorists armed with assault rifles shot PDP's Pulwama district chief Abdul Gani Dar dead while he was on a tour of the violence-torn area.

Dar, an advocate by profession, was riddled with bullets from close range while he was travelling in his car in Pinglena area of Pulwama, around 30km from Srinagar. He died of wounds at SMHS Hospital in Srinagar, where massive student protests led to the closure of all educational institutions which had only reopened on Monday after five days.

Dar's was the second targeted political killing in south Kashmir in a week. On April 17, militants had killed a former public prosecutor affiliated with the National Conference, Imtiyaz Ahmad Khan, in Shopian district. The murder comes at a time when PDP was planning a conclave of its core group to discuss the security situation in the wake of Mehbooba's meeting with Modi.

Following the escalation in violence on Monday, the Election Commission held a review meeting on whether to go ahead with the Anantnag Lok Sabha byelection on May 25. Sources said PDP was seeking postponement of the bypoll.

Kashmiri students have been protesting against alleged police excesses at Pulwama Degree College on April 15 where security forces and students clashed. At least 50 students were injured in the clash.

The protests spread to schools and colleges across Srinagar, with students staying away from classes and taking to the streets. Trouble began on Monday after hundreds of students of SP Higher Secondary School boycotted classes and broke the college gate and blocked M A Road.

Police officers chased some of them down which resulted in stone-pelting on pedestrians as well as security forces by angry students. Cops then used teargas and water cannon to disperse the agitators. A dozen policemen were injured while a number of private vehicles were damaged.

An eyewitness told TOI, "Students raised slogans and displayed Pakistani flags while many of them pelted stones, smashing the windscreens of police vehicles and cars passing Maulana Azad Road."

Full report at:

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/srinagar/terrorists-kill-pdp-leader-as-violence-spirals-in-valley/articleshow/58352385.cms

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Barkati Fatwa against PM: BJP threatens to move SC against Imam, TMC MP

April 25, 2017

The BJP’s Minority Morcha on Monday threatened to move the Supreme Court against Trinamool Congress MP Idris Ali and Shahi Imam of Tipu Sultan Mosque, Maulana Nurur Rehman Barkati, for issuing a fatwa against Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

On January 7, Barkati had issued a fatwa against the Prime Minister and offered a reward of Rs 25 lakh to anyone who would “cut off his beard, shave his head and smear him with black ink”.

The fatwa was issued at a meeting chaired by Idris Ali at the Kolkata Press Club.

Minority Morcha national secretary Arshad Alam on Monday said that despite lodging complaints at various police stations, the state government had not initiated any action against the Imam.

“We had lodged FIRs, and even moved the Calcutta High Court. No action has been taken against him for insulting the Prime Minister,” said Alam.

Full report at:

http://indianexpress.com/article/india/barkati-fatwa-against-pm-bjp-threatens-to-move-sc-against-imam-tmc-mp/

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Students protest again in Srinagar, raise 'Azadi' slogans

Apr 24, 2017

NEW DELHI: Massive clashes erupted in Srinagar's Lal Chowk area on Monday after students from three adjacent educational institutions staged a protest and resorted to stone pelting.

According to the police, the students of SP College, Government College for Women and SP Higher Secondary school assembled on the Maulana Azad Road and clashed with the security personnels on duty.

"At least six students have been detained to foil the clashes," a senior police official said, adding, "Scores of girl students participated in the protest."

The girls also raised pro-freedom slogans, he said.

The forces fired tear smoke shells on the stone pelting students resulting in chaos in the city center.

Meanwhile, three photojournalist, Basit Zargar, Habib Naqash and Danish Ismail were among the injured during clashes outside SP school.

The colleges opened in Kashmir valley today after remaining closed for a week following protests across Kashmir against the police action on Government Degree College Pulwama on April 15.

The students were protesting against alleged highhandedness of security forces outside government-run degree college in Pulwama.

They also alleged that the security forces not only harassed them but also barged into the college premises where they were forced them to chant slogans denouncing separatists, militants and "freedom cause". When they protested against it the latter resorted to "brute force" against them.

Full report at:

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/students-protest-again-in-srinagar-raise-azadi-slogans/articleshow/58342143.cms

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Hyderabad Man Allegedly Set On Fire In Saudi Arabia Dies: Report

April 25, 2017

A 26-year-old Hyderabad man, battling for life after being allegedly set on fire by a family member of his  employer in the capital city of Saudi Arabia, Riyadh, has succumbed to his burn injuries, according to the news agency ANI. The incident took place following a dispute between the two.

The sister of the deceased said, “We were not informed or given details as to what had happened. We were earlier told that a cylinder blast took place.”

The deceased has been identified as Abdul Qader (Abdul Samen), according to The News Minute.

According to The News Minute report, investigation in the case is underway and The Indian Embassy visited the hospital and police station in Saudi Arabia on Monday where the doctor informed that the body has been sent for the post-mortem examination.  The Embassy also said Abdul had suffered a stab injury.

Full report at:

http://indianexpress.com/article/india/hyderabad-man-succumbs-to-injury-after-being-set-on-fire-in-saudi-arabia-4627214/

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Pakistan

 

Yemen conflict: 5,000 Pakistani troops likely to join Saudi-led coalition

by Haider Ali Sindhu

April 24, 2017

RIYADH – As many as five thousand troops of Pakistan Army would likely be joining Islamic Military Alliance to help Saudi Arabia safeguard its southern region which borders Yemen, it emerged on Monday.

Although the former military head General Raheel Sharif has already departed to Saudi Arabia after securing No Objection Certificate to head the 41-nation military alliance but reports are rife that a brigade of Pak Army would now be joining the alliance. The final decision regarding the number of soldiers and its terms of reference have not been finalised yet but it is being murmured that army chief General Qamar Bajwa in his Saudi Arabia visit decided to send the brigade in a bid to strengthen the alliance.

According to a report by Daily Khabrain, director General ISPR, Asif Ghafoor had already hinted at the possibility that Pak Army would not indulge in any battle outside the territory of Saudi Arabia.

General Raheel Sharif appointed Commander of Islamic Military Alliance, confirms Khawaja Asif

On the other hand, renowned US daily, Wall Street Journal published an interview of Major General Ahmed Asiri, the adviser to the Saudi minister of defence, who discussed the scope of the military alliance, its structure, mission and expressed that it would be used to wipe out terrorism from Muslim world.

He also clarified that the elimination of Houthi rebels would also be part of the agenda for the Islamic Military alliance but this point can cause a friction in coming days owing to DG ISPR clarification that Pakistan Army would remain restricted to Saudi Arabia, however, the final decision would be made after a meeting of council of defence ministers of Muslim countries.

It bears mentioning that initially, it was reported that 34 Muslim countries would be a part of the alliance but the members have now clinched to 41 according to latest reports.

Saudi-led military alliance detain Zarqawi, other al-Qaeda leaders in Yemen raid

According to the sources, the Pakistan Army bridge comprising of latest military equipment would play a pivotal role to reach goals set by the alliance.

It has also been brought to notice that former military chief, who would be the head of Islamic Military Alliance has started searching top-notch officers mainly former military Brigadier Generals for assuming charge in the headquarters of the alliance.

Interestingly, investigations suggest that at the current moment, 1180 officials of Pak Army are stationed in Saudi Arabia for training and consultancy services. The officials were sent to Saudi Arabi after the 1982 defence pact signed by both Islamic countries.

Former COAS Raheel Sharif gets NOC to head Islamic Military Alliance

If these officials are taken into account, then the total number of Pak Army officials serving in most sought after alliance would swell to 6180.

Although general Raheel Sharif would be exercising his powers to select the officials for the vacant slots in the alliance but the final decision about the number of Pakistani troops would be taken by the president of Pakistan Mamnoon Hussain as he is the supreme commander of armed forces.

https://en.dailypakistan.com.pk/headline/yemen-conflict-5000-pakistani-troops-likely-to-join-saudi-led-islamic-military-alliance/

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Four 'hardcore terrorists' tried by military courts hanged: ISPR

APRIL 25, 2017

Four "hardcore terrorists" tried by military courts were hanged on Tuesday, Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) statement said.

The suspected terrorists were involved in "committing heinous offences related to terrorism, including killing of innocent civilians, attacking armed forces of Pakistan and law enforcement agencies," ISPR said.

https://www.dawn.com/news/1329146/four-hardcore-terrorists-tried-by-military-courts-hanged-ispr

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4 'militants' killed during hours-long Rangers operation in Karachi's Urdu Bazaar

APRIL 25, 2017

Four suspected militants and a minor child were killed during a raid carried out by Rangers personnel in Karachi's Urdu Bazaar area on Monday night, a press release issued by the paramilitary force said.

Lasting nearly seven hours, the targeted operation ended at 2:45am on Tuesday, with one suspected militant shot dead in a shootout with Rangers and three other militants killed in suicide blasts.

Four Rangers personnel were injured in the operation as the suspected terrorists retaliated by throwing grenades and firing during the operation.

The Rangers in a statement said they had arrested a "most wanted" militant of a banned outfit while acting on an intelligence report in Ittehad Town. On the suspect's pointation, Rangers personnel launched a raid on a building in Urdu Bazaar at 7:17pm on Monday.

Upon seeing them, the suspected militants opened fire at the security personnel with automatic weapons and lobbed hand grenades, leaving four Rangers men injured.

When Rangers personnel surrounded the building, the four militants including a woman confined themselves into a room.

A shootout then ensued between the two sides and continued well into the early hours of Tuesday. During this time, the militants also detonated three bombs, the handout said.

One of the militants was killed when he was hit by bullets fired by Rangers personnel while trying to flee, while three other militants blew themselves up, the paramilitary force said. A five-year-old boy present with the militants also died in the blast. Rangers claimed to have recovered a huge cache of automatic weapons, ammunition and hand grenades from the slain militants.

One of the killed militants was identified as Mohammad Zahid, but the other three militants were mutilated beyond recognition due to the blast.

The building was cleared after a thorough search, Rangers said.

Full report at:

https://www.dawn.com/news/1328959/4-militants-killed-during-hours-long-rangers-operation-in-karachis-urdu-bazaar

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10 killed as landmine blast hits van carrying census workers in Kurram

ALI AKBAR

APRIL 25, 2017

A passenger van hit a landmine in Godar area of Kurram Agency on Tuesday, killing 10 passengers, which included children, and injuring eight others, among them two census workers.

The vehicle was on its way from Godar to Sadda, Parachinar when it hit a mine, injuring two census workers on board, security sources told DawnNews.

The injured were shifted to a hospital where they are being treated for injuries.

The army dispatched an MI-17 helicopter to Parachinar to assist in transferring the injured victims of the blast to CMH Peshawar, Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) reported.

Initial reports suggested that only one woman was killed in the attack, but the death toll quickly climbed to 10 after the injured succumbed to their wounds.

Census workers have been the target of many attacks since the national enumeration exercise kicked off on March 15.

After an attack targeting census workers in Lahore claimed the lives seven people — four army soldiers, an employee of the air force and two other passers-by — and injured 18 others, Chief of Army Staff Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa declared that the sixth population and housing census would be completed at all costs.

The latest attack on Monday saw a security official lay down his life while another suffered injuries in the line of duty in Kallag Kolanch, an area near the coastal town of Pasni in Gwadar district. The two personnel were deputed to provide security to a census team.

Full report at:

https://www.dawn.com/news/1329140/10-killed-as-landmine-blast-hits-van-carrying-census-workers-in-kurram

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Pakistan has defeated terrorism, claims Sartaj Aziz

April 25, 2017

ISLAMABAD - Adviser to Prime Minister on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz Monday said that Pakistan was safe for international tourists as the nation had defeated terrorism.

Addressing the National Tourism Conference here, Aziz said that the marked improvement in the overall security situation had created a favourable environment for international and domestic tourism, which provided means of livelihood to tens of thousands of people across the country. He said the improved security situation was a result of the government’s firm resolve and action against terrorists and extremist elements.

Aziz said that medium and long term plan of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) also envisaged expanded tourist infrastructure build-up especially along the serene blue and golden, sandy coastline of Pakistan.

“We also need international investors to bring forth the high standards of hospitality, travel, hygienic foods, safety and security to the target touristic areas. The concept of eco-tourism is also very important for the preservation of natural resources for the next generations. We need to be mindful of the environmental degradation and promote sustainable tourism without losing the country’s biodiversity,” he said.

The conference was attended by Chief Executive Officer Serena Hotels Aziz Bolani, Acting Country Director World Bank Anthony Cholst, UNESCO Representative to Pakistan Vibeke Jensen and others.

Aziz said that Pakistan had been bestowed with countless blessings in the form of beautiful and captivating natural landscape.

“From the mighty stretches of the Karakoram and the Himalayas in the north to the vast alluvial delta of the Indus River in the south, Pakistan remains a land of high adventure and natural beauty. Trekking, mountaineering, white water rafting, hunting, desert jeep safaris, camel and yak safaris, trout fishing and bird watching are examples of activities, which entice adventure tourists and nature lovers to Pakistan,” he said.

The adviser said that the historical and cultural heritage also offered many opportunities to the tourists of this ancient land.

“Main tourist attractions include Swat, Kalam, Malam Jaba, Shangla, Balakot, Ayubia, Murree, Chitral, Gilgit, Naran and Kaghan valleys, mountains ranges, historical, and many archaeological sites in other parts of the country,” he added.

Aziz highlighted the majesty and grandeur of the northern region of Pakistan.

“Northern Pakistan remains a land of contrasts, unique in its legacy of landlocked civilisation and blessed as no other destination with an amazing array of some of the most beautiful valleys, lakes, rivers and mountains,” he added.

The junction of four of the world’s most formidable mountain ranges Karakoram, Hind Kush, Himalayas, and Pamirs, forms a unique landscape for climbers, trekkers, mountaineers and hikers, he said.

Aziz said that the unheeding rocks, the flow of countless glacial streams, attracted thousands of tourists annually.

Few areas in the world, he said, offered such a unique blend of breath-taking natural beauty and a rich diversity of culture, socio-economic traditions, history and lifestyle as in the Hindu Kush-Himalayan region of Pakistan.

“Furthermore, Pakistan has a tremendous potential in ecological and safari tourism,” Aziz maintained. He said that the world had 10 peaks over 8,000 meters above sea level.

“Pakistan has the distinction of having five of these peaks including the second highest mountain, K-2. We also have the largest glaciers on the globe outside the polar region, which offers tremendous attractions for adventurers,” Aziz counted.

He said that tourism, as a multidimensional business activity had grown to be a multi-trillion dollar industry worldwide, employing more than 200 million people and contributing more than $600 billion in direct and indirect taxes each year to global economic development.

“If we develop tourism along the right lines in Pakistan, it can make an important contribution to growth and employment. This however requires close co-operation between public and private sectors. Tourism industry needs not only secure conditions, but also infrastructure development, hygienic food, goods transport and comfortable accommodation facilities. Government, alone, cannot provide these,” Aziz added.

The government, he said, had already declared tourism an industry and had offered numerous incentives in this sector.

“While there is a need to develop high-class hotels, tourist resorts and theme parks; simultaneously a huge demand exists for affordable accommodation facilities for middle class travellers,” Aziz said.

He said that at the moment, not many private companies were involved in this industry in Pakistan.

The number of tourists, Aziz said, every year had been showing an increasing trend.

“Earlier this year we organised an international skiing festival and tournament in Malam Jabba, Swat, which was a huge success. Skiers from Europe and other regions participated in the event besides the local tourists. We are also expanding facilities for religious tourism for Buddhist sites from Sri Lanka, Nepal and Thailand,” the adviser said.

He said that a stable, strong and economically developed Pakistan was not a distant dream but an approaching reality, if only every single sector of the economy was ready to put in its contribution and strengths for the prosperity of people of this country.

Aziz said that at this conference, the participants would be assessing Pakistan’s potential for tourism, formulating strategies, discussing challenges, debating obstacles and then identifying the way forward.

“We will look forward to the final outcome and recommendations emerging from this important conference,” he added.

Meanwhile, Sartaj Aziz held a meeting with Foreign Minister of Maldives Dr Mohamed Asim here on Monday.

The foreign minister is on an official visit to Pakistan from April 23rd to 26th.

The adviser highlighted that relations between Pakistan and Maldives were characterised by cordiality, mutual respect and commonality of interests.

“While expressing satisfaction over the trajectory of the bilateral relations, both the dignitaries agreed to further strengthen the cordial relations between the two countries through increased cooperation in different fields, especially high-level engagement,” said a foreign ministry statement.

The regional situation and matters relating to the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (Saarc) were also discussed, the statement added.

Aziz observed that there was a huge potential of cooperation between the two countries in the field of culture, education, tourism and sports.

He assured that Pakistan would continue to provide training and development opportunities to Maldivian students.

Full report at:

http://nation.com.pk/national/25-Apr-2017/pakistan-has-defeated-terrorism-claims-sartaj-aziz

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Sindh govt’s ‘conditions’ on extension of Rangers’ policing powers rejected

IFTIKHAR A. KHAN

APRIL 25, 2017

ISLAMABAD: The federal government on Monday extended special policing powers of the Pakistan Rangers in Karachi for another 90 days while rejecting conditions of the Sindh government.

In a letter written in response to the provincial government’s requisition proposing extension in the term of Rangers with certain conditions, the interior ministry said neither the Anti-Terrorism Act can be restricted, nor its relevant clauses be partially taken out, or amended.

It has been highlighted in the letter that the provincial government’s recommendation has to be within the ambit of law. It says that the provincial government’s proposals do not fall under the relevant law.

Conditions set by the Sindh government have not been made part of the notification extending Rangers’ policing powers.

Interior ministry says the provincial government’s proposals do not fall under relevant law

Rangers’ policing powers in Karachi expired on April 15 and the paramilitary force kept operating without a legal cover.

Informed sources told Dawn that the Sindh government this time wanted to restrict the role of Rangers in Karachi merely to assist the police. The force under existing arrangement has a lead policing role to carry out raids, arrest suspects, interrogate them and conduct snap checking on their own.

This was not for the first time that the Sindh government delayed the summary for extending Rangers’ policing powers. It had accused Rangers of overstepping their mandate in the past, as well, and tried to engage them in the troubled city on their own terms. It remained at loggerheads with the paramilitary force when the latter raided certain government offices in 2015 and took away record in a bid to find evidence of corruption. It also expressed ‘some reservations’ when the Rangers raided offices of a businessman in Karachi, the day former president Asif Zardari returned to the country after ending his 18-month-long self-exile in December 2016.

Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan recently warned that the federal government would consider other legal options if a requisition from the Sindh government for extending term of Rangers was not received.

Deployment of Pakistan Rangers, Sindh, in Karachi is requisitioned under Article 147 of the Constitution, and under Clause 1 of Sub-section 3 of Section 4 of Anti-Terrorism Act 1997, authorised to prevent the commission of terrorist acts, or scheduled offences in notified area for the punishment of terrorist in accordance with the provision of the Anti-Terrorism Act 1997.

Full report at:

https://www.dawn.com/news/1328981/sindh-govts-conditions-on-extension-of-rangers-policing-powers-rejected

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Arab World

 

ISIL Executes Own Senior Commanders in Syria's Raqqa

Apr 24, 2017

The sources said that the ISIL has executed a number of its own commanders after the SDF forces laid siege on ISIL in Raqqa city from three directions and closed the entire roads to the city.

The sources added that lack of trust in each other and militants' spiritual collapse were other causes behind the execution of the notorious commanders by the ISIL.

In the meantime, local members of the ISIL have lost their trust in foreign members (Mohajereen) of the ISIL, accusing them of spying for SDF and the international coalition.

Local sources said in February that ISIL killed one of the commanders of al-Moqs checkpoint at the Western entrance of Raqqa city on charges of helping people leave the Caliphate's territories.

ISIL's Security Council had previously arrested the commander on the same charges, the sources added.

They went on to say that ISIL considered strict security measure to prevent people from leaving Raqqa city, changing its checkpoints' commanders after a recent mass fleeing of people from the city.

People in Raqqa are not even allowed to move inside the ISIL-held regions without the group's license.

http://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13960204001088

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Egypt sentences 20 to death over police killings

APRIL 25, 2017

CAIRO: An Egyptian court on Monday sentenced 20 people to death for the killing of 13 policemen in the aftermath of the ouster nearly four years ago of Islamist president Mohamed Morsi.

On August 14, 2013, a month after Morsi was overthrown by the army, security forces forcibly dispersed two pro-Morsi protest camps in Cairo in an operation that killed more than 700 people.

Hours later a furious crowd attacked a police station in the Cairo suburb of Kerdassa, where 13 policemen were killed.

A year later a Cairo court sentenced to death 183 Islamists but a higher court scrapped the verdict last year, amid an international outcry, calling instead for the retrial of 149 suspects who were behind bars.

Of those 149, on Monday a Cairo criminal court sentenced to death 20 people, a judicial official said, adding that a decision concerning the others would be made at another hearing on July 2.

The death sentences issued Monday will be submitted to the mufti, Egypt’s official interpreter of Islamic law, as his opinion is legally required but not binding.

Full report at:

http://nation.com.pk/international/25-Apr-2017/egypt-sentences-20-to-death-over-police-killings

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US-backed forces enter major IS-held Syria town

APRIL 25, 2017

BEIRUT/Washington - A US-backed alliance of Arab-Kurdish forces entered the key Islamic State-held town of Tabqa on Monday as they pursued their campaign against the IS group in northern Syria.

The Syrian Democratic Forces have set their sights on Tabqa and the adjacent dam as part of their broader offensive for the city of Raqa, the Syrian heart of the militants' self-styled "caliphate" since 2014.

Supported by US-led coalition air strikes and special forces advisers, the SDF surrounded Tabqa in early April. On Monday, they entered it for the first time, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitoring group said.

"They seized control of several points in the town's south and were advancing on its western edges," said Observatory head Rami Abdel Rahman.

The US-led coalition warplanes carried out "intense" strikes in support of the offensive, he said, adding that one raid had killed seven children and four women trying to flee Tabqa.

In an online statement, the SDF said it had captured IS-held positions in west Tabqa, including a roundabout, and part of a southern district. "There are now clearing operations in the liberated positions," the SDF said.

Tabqa sits on a key supply route about 55 kilometres (34 miles) west of Raqa, and served as an important IS command base, housing the group's main prison.

According to the Syrian Economic Task Force, a Dubai-based think tank, Tabqa is home to 85,000 people including IS fighters from other areas. The assault on Tabqa began in late March when SDF forces and their US-led coalition allies were airlifted behind IS lines.

The ensuing fight has been intense, with IS dispatching suicide bombers daily to try to slow the offensive and coalition warplanes intensifying their raids. "The real battle begins now," Abdel Rahman said on Monday, adding that IS fighters had "no way" out of the town.

For months, the SDF has been advancing on Raqa, hoping to encircle it before a final attack.

The city was home to around 240,000 residents before 2011, and more than 80,000 people have fled to it from other parts of the country. Syria's war has left more than 320,000 people dead since it began with protests in 2011 that were brutally repressed by the government of President Bashar al-Assad.

Regional and international powers have since been drawn into the complex conflict, in which internationally prohibited weapons such as cluster bombs and toxic gas have been used. On April 4, a suspected chemical attack killed 88 civilians, including many children, in the northwestern rebel-held town of Khan Sheikhun.

Much of the international community blamed the Syrian regime, and three days later 59 US cruise missiles targeted the airbase from where the attack was launched.

Meanwhile, the US government put 271 Syrian chemists and other officials on its financial blacklist Monday, punishing them for their role in the deadly chemical weapons attack on a rebel-held town in early April.

In one of its largest-ever sanctions announcements, the US Treasury Department took aim at the Syrian Scientific Studies and Research Center (SSRC), which it said was responsible for developing the alleged sarin gas weapon used in the April 4 attack.

The attack left 87 dead, including many children, in the town of Khan Sheikhun, provoking outrage in the West, which accused Syrian President Bashar al-Assad of being responsible. The sanctions include a freeze on all assets in the United States belonging to 271 individuals on the blacklist, and block any American person or business from dealing with them.

According to the Nuclear Threat Initiative, a Washington-based think-tank, the SSRC is Syria's leading scientific research center, with close links to the country's military.

The center itself was already the subject of two sanctions declarations, in 2005 and 2007, due to its alleged role in developing weapons of mass destruction.

The Treasury said in a statement Monday that the SSRC is specifically behind the Syrian government's efforts to develop chemical weapons and the means to deliver them.

The 271 either have specific scientific expertise for the program or have been involved in it since 2012, it said.

"These sweeping sanctions target the scientific support center for Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad's horrific chemical weapons attack on innocent civilian men, women, and children," Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said.

"The United States is sending a strong message with this action that we will hold the entire Assad regime accountable for these blatant human rights violations in order to deter the spread of these types of barbaric chemical weapons."

The Treasury's action followed the US military's firing 59 Tomahawk cruise missiles at a Syrian airfield on April 7 to punish the government and set a warning against any further chemical weapons attacks.

"These sanctions are intended to hold the Assad regime and those who support it - directly or indirectly - accountable for the regime's blatant violations of the Chemical Weapons Convention and UN Security Council Resolution 2118," Mnuchin said.

The attack on Khan Sheikhun was also debated in the UN Security Council. But Russia, a close ally of Assad, vetoed a resolution on April 12 demanding the Syrian government cooperate with an investigation of the attack.

Assad has denied the attack, branding it a "fabrication" by the West.

Full report at:

http://nation.com.pk/international/25-Apr-2017/us-backed-forces-enter-major-is-held-syria-town

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Syrian Army Pre-empts Terrorists' Attack in Hama

Apr 24, 2017

The army's artillery and missile units carried out a preemptive move and pounded badly the movements and gathering centers of Al-Nusra terrorists that were getting ready to attack pro-government forces' positions near the village of al-Zareh and the thermal power plant from their positions in Hirbnafsa.

A number of Al-Nusra terrorists were killed or wounded and their military equipment were destroyed under the army fire.

Earlier reports said that the army men engaged in fierce clashes with terrorists in al-Qaboun district and managed to drive them out of 40 residential complexes.

In the meantime, the army's missile units shelled heavily terrorists' positions in al-Qaboun.

Local sources reported that the army units also seized control over a tunnel near power company in al-Qaboun, adding the tunnel that was named Rahma by terrorists was a road used by the militants to move between al-Qaboun and other regions in Eastern Ghouta.

Full report at:

http://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13960204001277

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Iran, Russia Posing against Israel, US on Major Battle Scene in Dara'a

Apr 24, 2017

Based on Washington and London's scheme, Dara'a will be the first region in which the establishment of an autonomous region will be tested, while the US will continue support for the Kurdish militia and certain other Arab terrorist groups in Northern Syria.

Israel is also responsible for logistical, intelligence and medical support for the terrorist groups and the Israel-West-Jordan operations room is supervising the terrorist groups' activities, waiting for the zero hour for the US and Britain to put the plan for Dara'a into action.

Meantime, Russia and Iran have prepared plans to confront the US and British plots, which have recently been displayed in increased airstrikes against the terrorist positions in Dara'a and the concentration of Moscow's intelligence operations on this front.

Moscow, Damascus and Tehran are trying every means to close the doors to the US and they have focused on the liberation of Dara'a, reinvigoration of their air defense and operational systems and continued military operations in other Southern fronts, specially in the outskirts of Damascus and the Eastern Ghouta.

Field sources reported on Tuesday that the Syrian army has sent a large number of fresh forces to the Southern city of Dara'a to reinvigorate its combat capabilities.

The sources confirmed that the army has forwarded fresh units of military forces to al-Manshiyeh neighborhood in the Southern part of Dara'a city to take part in an imminent operation against Al-Nusra Front.

Full report at:

http://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13960204001220

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Russia Ready to Send Ground Forces to Syria

Apr 24, 2017

Al-Hadath news quoted the sources as saying that Russia has announced that in case of the Syrian army's request it is ready to send ground forces to Syria.

The sources said that special Russian forces are prepared to be deployed in regions which are experiencing the most pressures by the terrorist groups.

They added that the technical aspects of the plan have been studied and prepared by Russia, saying that the plan can be implemented upon Russian President Vladimir Putin's order after Damascus' official request.

A Russian daily reported earlier this month that the country's soldiers are about to shoulder the responsibility of restoring security to the Christian-populated regions during the Syrian Army's imminent anti-terrorism operations in Northern Hama.

Izvestia reported that the Russian units will help popular forces in Hama province to restore security to the town of Mahradeh, whose population are mainly Christians.

The daily added that terrorists are under the Syrian Army's siege from all directions.

There have been fierce clashes between the government forces and militants near Hahradeh since April 4th.

Full report at:

http://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13960204000944

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Syrian Soldiers Score More Victories against Terrorists in Hama

Apr 24, 2017

The army forces struck again Al-Nusra's positions in Northern Hama and captured al-Zalaqiyat region after hours of non-stop battle, killing and wounding a number of militants.

A military source said al-Zalaqiyat region was home to the terrorists' artillery and mortar units to target the army position, underlining the importance of the victory for the pro-government forces.

The source further added that the army will continue its operation in the triangle of al-Latamina-Kafr Zita- Morek to restore full security to the Northern territories of Hama.    

A former commander of Al-Nusra Front said earlier today that top Commander of Tahrir al-Sham Hay'at (the Levant Liberation Board) Abu Mohammad Joulani should kill himself due to his weak management and following the recent defeats of his forces in the battle with the Syrian Army in Hama.

"Were I al-Joulani I would surely commit suicide in a religious way after the military collapse of Tahrir al-Sham Hay'at's forces" in the battle against the Syrian army in Northern Hama, Saleh al-Homawi wrote in his tweeter.

"Al-Nusra prevents other (terrorist) groups from participation in the battles (with the Syrian army), and then retreats in a dramatic manner," he added.

Military analysts said that disagreement among terrorists and their commander has intensified after their repeated and rapid defeats of the terrorists in Northern Hama.

"Only when you renew allegiance we will agree your back up," the commanders of Tahrir al-Sham had told Ahrar al-Sham commanders who had offered to dispatch their forces to Northern Hama battlefield to take part in clashes with the army.

Full report at:

http://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13960204000978

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Former Al-Nusra Commander Asks Tahrir Al-Sham Leader to Commit Suicide Following Defeats in Hama

Apr 24, 2017

"Were I al-Joulani I would surely commit suicide in a religious way after the military collapse of Tahrir al-Sham Hay'at's forces" in the battle against the Syrian army in Northern Hama, Saleh al-Homawi wrote in his tweeter.

"Al-Nusra prevents other (terrorist) groups from participation in the battles (with the Syrian army), and then retreats in a dramatic manner," he added.

Military analysts said that disagreement among terrorists and their commander has intensified after their repeated and rapid defeats of the terrorists in Northern Hama.

"Only when you renew allegiance we will agree your back up," the commanders of Tahrir al-Sham had told Ahrar al-Sham commanders who had offered to dispatch their forces to Northern Hama battlefield to take part in clashes with the army.

Reports said that 10,000 terrorists participated in Northern Hama's battle, adding that several thousands of them have thus far been killed in the clashes with the Syrian soldiers.

The army has also liberated large regions in Northern Hama in the last two months.

Relevant reports said on Sunday that the army troops prevailed over the defense lines of Al-Nusra Front in the town of Halfaya and imposed full control over the town, which once was the largest bastion of the terrorist group in Northern Hama.

The army soldiers continued their advances against Al-Nusra and after hours of non-stop tough battle recaptured the town of Halfaya.

The army forces had previously retaken control of the regions of Hajez al-Kafr, Jubb Abu Ma'arouf and al-Wibdeh.

Full report at:

http://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13960204000640

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Palmyra: ISIL Suffers Heavy Casualties in Attack on Syrian Army Positions

Apr 24, 2017

The army soldiers engaged in a tough battle with the ISIL terrorists that attacked their positions in Jabal (mount) al-Abtar near Palmyra and managed to ward off the terrorists' offensive, killing a large number of them and destroying their military hardware.

Relevant repots said on Wednesday that the army troops continued to hit ISIL's defense lines in Eastern Homs, forcing the terrorist group to retreat from vast regions Northeast of the ancient city of Palmyra (Tadmur).

The army soldiers won another battle against ISIL and drove them out of a set of strategic hills near Mount al-Qataar 25km Northeast of Palmyra.

Full report at:

http://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13960204000685

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Tens of Gunmen, Family Members Leave al-Wa'er in Homs for Northern Syria

Apr 24, 2017

The sources said that over 900 people, including 119 gunmen that refused to join peace with the Syrian government have left al-Wa'er district for the border town of Jarabulus in Northern Aleppo.

In the meantime, Homs Governor General Talal Barazi said that two more groups of gunmen and their family members will leave al-Wa'er in the next two days, adding that the evacuation agreement concluded between the militants and the army will expire on 13th of the next month.

Barazi added that in the seventh phase of the evacuation, those terrorists that are affiliated to Ahrar al-Sham and Al-Nusra Front (also known as Fatah al-Sham Front or the Levant Liberation Board) will leave al-Wa'er. 

Local officials said earlier today that 50 gunmen that had refused to join the peace plan and their family members left al-Wa'er for the border town of Jarabulus in Northern Aleppo on five buses.

Relevant reports said on Tuesday that over 2,000 gunmen and their family members left al-Wa'er district within the framework of the fifth phase of the reconciliation plan.

Full report at:

http://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13960204001345

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North America

 

Anti-Semitic incidents rise by 86 percent in U.S.

April 24, 2017

It’s not a good time to be a Jew in America, it seems. Between 2016 and the first quarter of 2017, the number of anti-Semitic incidents in the country rose by 86 percent.

The Anti-Defamation League reported the statistic Monday, saying the number of instances of vandalism, harassment and assaults of Jewish properties and people came in at 541 in the first three months of 2017. That’s in comparison to 1,266 incidents reported in the ADL’s 2016 report. If trends continue, 2017 will see more than 2,000 anti-Semitic incidents, study authors reported.

But it’s the nation’s schools that are most troubling.

The number of anti-Semitic incidents on college campuses didn’t rise over the past year. But at elementary, middle and high schools across America, such incidents hiked by 106 percent.

“We are very concerned the next generation is internalizing messages of intolerance and bigotry,” said Jonathan Greenblatt, CEO of ADL.

While ADL drew a link between a reported rise in anti-Semitic instances in November and December to the election of President Donald Trump — citing, for instance, one bit of graffiti in Denver that read, “Kill the Jews, Vote Trump” — the group rather missed the mark in identifying all the possible sources for Jew hate.

“These incidents need to be seen in the context of a general resurgence of white supremacist activity in the United States,” said Oren Segal, director of the ADL Center on Extremism, in UPI.

Maybe. But not all. How about recognition for another group of people — a group that’s been steadily making its way in U.S. society in recent years, by immigration hook or refugee hook — that by and large shares this common cause: to decimate Israel and the Jewish race?

I’m talking about extremist Muslims, of course — you know, the kind Barack Obama, while president, denied existed, all the while opening the border doors to their entrance.

It’s quite possible at least one or two — or quite a few more — of these acts of anti-Semitism seen in America in recent times is due to Islam hatred of Jewish people, yes? Yes, yes, quite possible.

Yet ADL skips this point?

Here’s a clue why: “ADL plays a leading role in exposing and combating anti-Muslim bigotry,” the group wrote, on its website.

And then this, same site: “The threat of the infiltration of sharia, or Islamic law, into the American court system is one of the more pernicious conspiracy theories to gain traction in our country in recent years. The notion that Islam is insidiously making inroads in the United States through the application of religious law is seeping into the mainstream … [and] ADL’s work on countering anti-Muslim bigotry has extended to actively oppose anti-sharia laws introduced around the country.”

ADL may track and oppose instances of anti-Semitism. But it also wages politically correct battles on behalf of Islam — PC-fights that oddly position it in conflict with Jewish security and freedoms.

http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2017/apr/24/anti-semitic-incidents-rise-86-percent-us/

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US Treasury sanctions Syria officials over sarin attack

24 April 2017

The US government imposed “sweeping sanctions” on Syrian officials in response to what the United States says was a sarin gas attack on civilians earlier this month, the Treasury Department announced Monday.

The Treasury ordered a freeze on all assets in the United States belonging to 271 employees of the Syrian Scientific Studies and Research Center (SSRC), and blocked any American person or business from dealing with them.

The SSRC was responsible for producing the chemical weapons Washington believes were used in the attack and the means to deliver them, the statement said.

“There is no doubt that the Donald Trump administration policies on the Middle East differs drastically from the previous Obama administration,”Al Arabiya News Channel’s Washington Bureau Chief Nadia Bilbassy reported.

“Insiders in Washington are aware that Trump’s officials are less tolerant of Syrian officials getting away with killing Syrian civilians, especially with chemical weapons, and today’s sanctions are an example of that,” Bilbassy added.

‘Sending a strong message’

A suspected chemical attack left 87 dead, including many children, in rebel-held territory in Idlib province on April 4, with the West accusing Syrian President Bashar al-Assad of being responsible.

“These sweeping sanctions target the scientific support center for Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad’s horrific chemical weapons attack on innocent civilian men, women, and children,” Treasury Secretary Steven T. Mnuchin said in a statement.

“The United States is sending a strong message with this action that we will hold the entire Assad regime accountable for these blatant human rights violations in order to deter the spread of these types of barbaric chemical weapons.”

Treasury already had imposed sanctions against 18 Syrian officials in January, and Mnuchin said the administration “will relentlessly pursue and shut down the financial networks of all individuals involved with the production of chemical weapons used to commit these atrocities.”

Full report at:

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2017/04/24/US-Treasury-sanctions-Syria-officials-over-sarin-attack.html

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US: San Diego schools launch effort against Islamophobia

Apr 25, 2017

San Diego (United States): One of the nation's largest school districts has launched a campaign against Islamophobia, drawing praise and criticism.

The San Diego Unified School District's multiyear plan includes a letter addressing Islamophobia to staff and parents of its 132,000 students.

It's expected to be drafted and sent before Ramadan begins in late May. The district is also reviewing internal staff calendars to make sure Muslim holidays are recognized.

Next school year, it will review materials on Muslim culture for libraries, provide resources to teachers and engage in partnerships with the Council on American Islamic Relations.

Over several years, it plans to consider high school clubs that promote American Muslim culture, create "safe spaces" for students and train staff about Muslim culture.

The plan drew little attention when the board approved it 4-0 on April 4, with one member absent. Public comments from staff and community members were uniformly positive.

"We believe this is a great first step in the direction of protecting Muslim students from the bullying that is a direct result of the growing Islamophobia in our state and nation," Hanif Mohebi, executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations' San Diego chapter, said after the vote.

"Other school districts should follow this lead, and we will be happy to work with them to provide resources and trainings."

Pushback gradually spread on the internet and social media, with written attacks on Islam and the Council on American-Islamic Relations. A Sunday article on the far-right website Breitbart News drew hundreds of reader comments.

The headline of a story on the Angry Patriot website that had 35,000 Facebook 'likes' read, "Islamic Takeover CONFIRMED - American School Surrenders to SHARIA LAW."

The school district said on its website that the plan addresses "some of the specific challenges faced by the Muslim student community" after the Muslim community expressed concern about student safety last summer.

"We strongly believe students cannot learn if they are afraid, and so this initiative to combat Islamophobia is focused on eliminating the fear faced by children," it says. The district said it is not endorsing Islam, favoring a religion or imposing Sharia law.

As for 'safe spaces,' the district says, "Schools with large Muslim communities may choose to make areas available for prayer, if that is requested by their parents and students. However, this is no more or less than we would do to accommodate Christians who want to pray at school, or members of other faiths. It is not uncommon, for example, for our schools to have a prayer club that meets before the start of school."

San Diego is the latest school district to express solidarity with Muslim students. In September, Kansas City Public Schools passed a resolution condemning violence and hate speech and expressing support for students who worship Islam.

Full report at:

http://www.deccanchronicle.com/world/america/250417/us-san-diego-schools-launch-effort-against-islamophobia.html

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Europe

 

Grand Mosque Of Paris Urges French Muslims To Vote Against Far-Right Le Pen

04/24/2017

A major Islamic center in Paris is urging French Muslims to unite against xenophobia in the second round of the country’s presidential elections in May.

Sunday’s election narrowed the pool down to two candidates ― independent Emmanuel Macron and far-right National Front leader Marine Le Pen. Macron and Le Pen will face each other in the runoff on May 7.

On Monday, the president of the Grand Mosque of Paris released a statement urging French Muslims to vote en masse for Macron, as the “threat of division and fragmentation” faces French society.

Macron, a 39-year-old former investment banker who founded his own political party and promotes a global, multicultural France, “embodies the path of hope and trust in the spiritual and citizen forces of the nation,” wrote Grand Mosque mufti Dalil Boubakeur.

French political reporter Tristan Quinault Maupoil shared a copy of Boubakeur’s statement on Twitter:

Macron’s opponent espouses a staunchly anti-immigrant, anti-European Union platform. The 48-year-old Le Pen has denounced what she calls “Islamic fundamentalism,” though she’s spoken out against Muslim identity in general, too.

“I’m opposed to wearing headscarves in public places. That’s not France,” she told Anderson Cooper in March. The National Front leader conflated Muslim identity with immigrant status, adding: “There’s something I just don’t understand: The people who come to France, why would they want to change France, to live in France the same way they lived back home?”

Le Pen at other times has vowed to fight for the “soul of France” by imposing restrictions on halal meat, banning religious clothing in public, and putting a stop to “burkinis,” which are highly controversial in the country.

Macron has expressed more conciliatory views toward France’s Muslim population. “No religion is a problem in France today,” he said during a rally last fall. “If the state should be neutral, which is at the heart of secularism, we have a duty to let everybody practice their religion with dignity.”

The May 7 election, Boubakeur wrote, will determine “the destiny for France and for its religious minorities.”

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/grand-mosque-of-paris-urges-french-muslims-to-vote-against-far-right-le-pen_us_58fe2cd3e4b06b9cb918f0e9

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'Others' in Europe and their influence on elections

25 April 2017

Muslim populations in Europe have become one of the most important variables in elections in the European Union in some time. Right-wing and extreme-right politicians have developed three main attitudes toward them: "Muslims should go," "if they stay, they shouldn't act like Muslims" and "no more Muslims should come here."

To be honest, there are also many Europeans who criticize these attitudes and politicians, as there exist in Europe strong anti-racist and anti-discriminatory currents, too. However, even those who have more liberal views about Muslims have been incoherent from time to time.

When European politicians talk about "European Muslims," they don't want to say simply Muslims who live in Europe, but they think about a different kind of Muslim, more European, i.e. very different from the Muslims of Uzbekistan, Qatar or Pakistan. They believe Europe's Muslims are or should be different from their compatriots in other parts of the world, and those in Europe are expected to adopt a more "modern" way of life. I'm not sure they have a similar distinction in their mind between Europe's Catholics and Latin America's or Middle Eastern Catholics.

Muslims have become a debate topic, not only because the attitude toward them will influence voters, but also since there are many Muslims who will vote in those elections. For example, in France, there are about 6 million Muslims out of 66 million inhabitants, and it is important for politicians to know for whom these people will vote.

It is of course erroneous to believe that Muslims in a given European country will all vote in the same direction as if they were a monolithic socio-economic group. Anyone who says, "Muslims vote for this or that party" is in fact admitting that they don't see Muslims as individuals who will develop their political views according to their own interests or political convictions.

Thankfully there aren't many politicians in France who say that Muslims will only vote according to their religious identity, but still, they discuss something they call, the "Muslim vote." We are used to this kind of debate in Turkey, as some people persistently evoke a "Kurdish vote."

We know, nevertheless, that Turkey is being constantly criticized by the Europeans because of its Kurdish policy, and to tell the truth, if there is such a thing as the Kurdish vote, maybe some of the criticism is justified. Of course, those who keep criticizing Turkey should sometimes look in the mirror and think about the Muslim vote debate in their countries. It is a problem to think that people who are being called on to cast their votes are not individual citizens but just members of a defined religious or ethnic minority group.

Full report at:

https://www.dailysabah.com/columns/beril-dedeoglu/2017/04/25/others-in-europe-and-their-influence-on-elections

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An encounter with Europe’s new right wing activists

25 APR 2017

The first time I meet Martin Sellner is outside a McDonalds in central Vienna, not far from one the city’s main universities.

Young, clean-cut and instantly likeable, he’s one of the faces of a new far right activist group growing in popularity and spreading through Europe; the Identitarians.

As soon as we start talking over our first proper Viennese coffee, the first thing I notice is Martin’s energetic enthusiasm for a wide-range of topics that cut across the political debates now raging in Europe – immigration, race, terror attacks, nationalism, a youth increasingly cynical of the existing political order, disenfranchised and febrile populations outside the multicultural urban centres.

I find he has academic approach to his beliefs and ideas, and comes across as someone who has thought in detail about what he believes. He has sophisticated ways of expressing his views and has developed sharp counter-arguments to those who call him extreme, right-wing or racist – often instantly delivered in a way that makes me think he has used them repeatedly.

The Identitarians see themselves as the defenders of white European identity. They say they’re not racist and aren’t opposed to immigration in principle, but believe there is a danger that new migrants, especially from Muslim countries, will eventually overtake and dominate the existing white populations, if such immigration is not severely controlled or stopped.

It is a sentiment I have heard in many parts of Europe and the UK, often based on misconceptions about the real figures but also rooted in what people think they are seeing around them – change, increased insecurity, job losses and changing economic models. For example, Martin brings up the “problematic” sections of French cities, which are predominately Muslim, where there are issues of integration among populations usually of North African descent. I tell him this is largely a result of France importing labour from its former colonies after World War II. Martin immediately counters; “exactly, an example of the politicians making political decisions without thinking through the longer-term social consequences”.

It is not what I was expecting from a far right leader and is miles away from discussions I have had with many people and politicians opposing further large-scale immigration in the UK who basically just don’t want migrants even if they live in cities where there are barely any.

I was meeting Martin for a Dateline story I was reporting on his group, and their place in a broader shift to the right, or at least more nationalist politics, happening across Europe.

Shortly after we meet Martin points out the Identitarians have sued an Austrian TV channel for calling his group Nazi, a warning that we should be careful with our language.

He adamantly insists they are not, and that they don’t agree with the National Socialist idea of Aryan racial superiority – or any racial superiority for that matter. Again I am struck by the strategic thinking that has gone into this – the way a group is described means everything to its attempt at greater acceptability – and that is exactly what the Identitarians are about. It is what makes them different to other far right groups that have gone before them and is what makes them fascinating to me as a journalist.

When I question Martin about his past links to neo-Nazis he admits he’s had associations with what he calls “nationalist forces”, but says that was because they were the only groups voicing what he terms “patriotic views”.

In his own words, Martin believes many well-educated, middle class, young Europeans have been desperate for a “third way” approach to these testing issues – a forum, which disavows extremist, neo-Nazi ideas of supremacy, but can criticize a policy of multiculturalism and further immigration without being labeled racist. They are issues that have been dramatically heightened across Europe with the Islamist terror attacks, especially in France, and the record numbers of refugees and economic migrants across the Mediterranean and across land each summer for the past three years.

Surely, I say, Austria is rich enough to help give these people in dire need some sanctuary. Yes Martin agrees – but let’s help them stay in their regions until war ends and they can return home. What about those already here? They don’t want to deport all Muslims, but they do want to deport Muslims who are in Europe illegally, or have been involved in terror or crime.

Perhaps the most interesting aspect of the Identitarians is their approach to activism, which borrows from models that have been hugely successful for groups such as Greenpeace.

In his studio apartment Martin proudly shows me his laptop, mic and camera setup. It’s his “information war HQ”, which he uses to upload blogs, vlogs and videos direct to the group’s main audience; 15-25 year olds who get most of their news online instead of on TV or newspapers. “We are breaking the firewall of political correctness,” Martin tells me of the Identitarians’ online strategy. He delivers his online talks in a measured tone, a bit like he’s sitting next to you in the student café.

To create material to post on social media, the group regularly performs high-profile stunts, which they film and either stream live to Facebook and YouTube, or post shortly after.

In one example they placed a burqa over one of Vienna’s most well-known landmarks, a statue of Austria’s famous Empress Maria Theresa: “The message was if you don't stop what's happening now, that will be the future of Vienna,” Martin told me. “All our heritage, what she was fighting for, what she built up, it’s destroyed now by our politicians.”

I also spoke to those, especially from the left, who call the Identitarians fascist extremists, even Nazis.

But language is very important here and has to be carefully chosen.

'The new face of the Far Right'

There is no doubt the Identitarians are tapping in and giving a voice to a growing number of Europeans troubled by terror attacks and changing societies, where there are problems of integration in some situations.

Full report at:

http://www.sbs.com.au/news/dateline/article/2017/04/25/encounter-europes-new-right-wing-activists

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Muslim Council of Britain to condemn Ukip ‘bigots’

25 April 2017

Muslim leaders are to criticise Ukip “bigots” over the party’s so-called integration policy aimed almost entirely at followers of the faith.

Party leader Paul Nuttall unveiled plans to force girls at risk of female genital mutilation (FGM) to undergo regular medical checks, as well as a ban on burkas in public and the outlawing of sharia law.

The Muslim Council of Britain will say the policy was “deeply regrettable” and attack stereotyping around “bombs, beards and burkas”.

In a speech to a Muslim leadership dinner, secretary general Harun Khan will say: “It is deeply regrettable that the UK Independence Party is singling out Muslims in the most negative terms.

“This is not leadership. And it is certainly not becoming of a party seeking to represent British people.

“Together with fellow Britons, Muslims will be looking for true leadership that unites our country during this time of uncertain transition and seek to represent all British people, and certainly not scapegoat some.

“Bigots must not be allowed to set the terms of the debate. Due to the scourge of terrorism that we all oppose, bigots are obsessed with sharia law, keen to question our loyalty to our country and refuse to accept us Muslims as equal citizens of this nation.”

Mr Khan will raise fears about the way Muslims will be treated during the General Election campaign.

“When it comes to public policy, we Muslims seem to be boxed into the narrative of bombs, beards and burkas,” he will say. “Instead, we Muslims insist that our story is one of faith, freedom and fairness.

“As the country prepares to go to the polls in June, I worry about the state of the debate as the election campaign intensifies. As electors, we will all be consuming the hotly argued discussions on who is fit to govern, which parties have the right strategy for Brexit, and where our country will be going as it transitions out of the European Union.

“But I urge our politicians, and the media who frame our debate, to reject any temptation to resort to bigotry and scapegoat minorities.”

Full report at:

http://www.somersetcountygazette.co.uk/news/national/15243852.Muslim_Council_of_Britain_to_condemn_Ukip____bigots___/

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UN chief: Forced displacement of Syrians may be a war crime

25 April 2017

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres is warning that the forced evacuation of civilians in Syria may be a war crime, as one of the largest population transfers in the country’s six-year civil war is taking place.

Guterres said in a report to the Security Council circulated Monday that the United Nations has repeatedly expressed concern at local agreements between the Syrian government and opposition groups that follow the decimation of an area and result in the forced displacement of any civilians.

He reminded the parties to such agreements that under international humanitarian law “the forced displacement of civilians for reasons relating to the conflict “is permissible solely in order to guarantee their security or for imperative military necessity.”

“Forced displacement for any other reason relating to the conflict is prohibited and may constitute a war crime,” Guterres said.

Under the deal between the government and opposition, brokered by outside parties including Qatar, an estimated 30,000 people will be transferred over 60 days from their besieged hometowns and neighborhoods, including around Damascus, Homs and Aleppo.

The evacuations from four besieged villages “ pro-government Foua and Kfraya and opposition-held Madaya and Zabadani “ were delayed after a bombing killed more than 120 evacuees.

Critics say the population transfers are redrawing Syria’s map along sectarian and political lines, and the opposition has described the evacuations as “demographic engineering.”

The UN has played no role and Guterres stressed that any evacuations must be safe, voluntary and to a place of the civilians’ choosing.

“Those displaced must be allowed to return voluntarily to their homes as soon as the situation allows,” he said.

The secretary-general also said he remains “deeply troubled” at the high level of civilian casualties from air strikes and explosive weapons fired into populated areas.

These strikes are also destroying “the building blocks of civilian life” critical to Syrians, including bakeries, water stations, hospitals, schools and places of worship, he said.

In the report Guterres criticized all parties for blocking the delivery of humanitarian aid to thousands of people who desperately need help.

On a somewhat positive note, he said “the steady work” by the government and opposition parties at the last round of UN-mediated political talks in March aimed at ending the war “should not be underestimated or dismissed.”

He pointed to the assertion by all parties “that there should be no constitutional or security vacuum as a negotiated political transition is implemented,” calling this “an important step” in understanding what is required if a political transition is to be negotiated.

Full report at:

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2017/04/25/UN-chief-Forced-displacement-of-Syrians-may-be-a-war-crime.html

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South Asia

 

Torture of detainees persist in Afghanistan, says UN

Apr 24 2017

The United Nations in its latest report has expressed concerns regarding the persisting torture of detainees in the Afghan prisons.

“The continuing torture and ill-treatment of detainees is a matter of serious concern, but we acknowledge the genuine commitment and the efforts of the Government to deal with this issue,” said Tadamichi Yamamoto, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Afghanistan.

The report by the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) and the UN Human Rights Office (OHCHR) is based on interviews with 469 conflict-related detainees conducted from 1 January 2015 to 31 December 2016 in 62 detention facilities administered by the National Directorate of Security (NDS), Afghan National Police (ANP) and other Afghan National Defence and Security Forces (ANDSF) across the country.

According to the report, more than a third of the interviewees gave credible accounts of being subjected to torture or ill-treatment.

Among other findings, 45 per cent of those interviewed who had been detained by police said they had been tortured or ill-treated – the highest level documented since UNAMA began its current monitoring programme in 2010, the report stated.

The report notes that 26 per cent of those interviewed by UNAMA who had been held in NDS custody reported being subjected to torture or ill-treatment. Of 85 child detainees interviewed, 38 gave credible accounts of being subjected to torture or ill-treatment while in the custody of the Afghan security forces.

Overall, the majority of detainees said they had been tortured to force them to confess and that the torture and ill-treatment stopped once they did so. “Many of those interviewed stated that they did not understand or could not read what was written on the ‘confession’ which they signed or thumb-printed,” the report notes.

http://www.khaama.com/torture-of-detainees-persist-in-afghanistan-says-un-02640

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37 ISIS-K militants killed in Nangarhar air and ground operations

Apr 24 2017

At least thirty seven militants affiliated with the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria Khurasan (ISIS-K) were killed in a series of air and ground operations in eastern Nangarhar province of Afghanistan.

According to the local security officials, the militants were killed during the operations conducted in the vicinity of the restive Achin district.

The officials further added that 22 of the militants were killed in Asad Khel area, 8 others were killed in Akhundzadas village, and 7 others were killed in the vicinity of Ango Jamat area.

Some heavy and light weapons belonging to the insurgents were also destroyed during the operations, the officials said, adding that the security forces and the local residents have not suffered any casualties.

Nangarhar is among the relatively calm provinces in eastern Afghanistan but the anti-government armed militant groups are attempting to expand their insurgency in this province during the recent years.

The growing threats posed by Taliban, ISIS and other insurgents forced the Afghan forces and US forces based in Afghanistan to step up operations in a bid to restrict their insurgency activities.

Full report at:

http://www.khaama.com/37-isis-k-militants-killed-in-nangarhar-air-and-ground-operations-02642

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US general in Afghanistan suggests Russia arming Taliban

APRIL 25, 2017

The United States must confront Russia for providing weapons to the Taliban for use against American-backed forces in Afghanistan, top US military officials said Monday.

At a news conference with Defense Secretary Jim Mattis at his side, Gen. John Nicholson, the American commander in Afghanistan, wouldn't provide specifics about Russia's role in Afghanistan. But said he would “not refute” that Moscow's involvement includes giving weapons to the Taliban.

Earlier Monday, a senior US military official told reporters in Kabul that Russia was giving machine guns and other medium-weight weapons.

The Taliban are using the weapons in the southern provinces of Helmand, Kandahar and Uruzgan, according to the official, who briefed journalists on intelligence information on condition of anonymity.

Russia denies that it provides any such support to the Taliban, which ruled Afghanistan until the US-led invasion in 2001.

Russia says contacts are limited to safeguarding security and getting the hard-line religious fundamentalists to reconcile with the government which Washington has failed for years to advance.

Russia also has promoted easing global sanctions on Taliban leaders who prove cooperative.

Asked about Russia's activity in Afghanistan, where it fought a bloody war in the 1980s and withdrew in defeat, Mattis alluded to the increasing US concerns.

“We'll engage with Russia diplomatically,” Mattis said. “We'll do so where we can, but we're going to have to confront Russia where what they're doing is contrary to international law or denying the sovereignty of other countries.”

“For example,” Mattis told reporters in the Afghan capital, “any weapons being funneled here from a foreign country would be a violation of international law.”

Mattis met with President Ashraf Ghani and other senior government officials just hours after the nation's defense minister and Army chief resigned over a massacre of more than 140 Afghan troops at a military base last Friday.

The insurgent assault was the biggest ever on a military base in Afghanistan, involving multiple gunmen and suicide bombers in army uniforms who penetrated the compound of the 209th Corps of the Afghan National Army in northern Balkh province on Friday, killing and wounding scores. The death toll was likely to rise further.

Nicholson also said that in view of the sophisticated planning behind the attack, “it's quite possible” that the Pakistan-based Haqqani network was responsible.

The Taliban claimed it carried out the attack.

Nicholson, the top American commander in Kabul, recently told Congress that he needs a few thousand more troops to keep Afghan security forces on track to eventually handling the Taliban insurgency on their own.

Mattis on Monday offered a grim assessment for Afghan forces fighting the Taliban.

“2017 is going to be another tough year,” he said.

Kabul was the final stop on Mattis' six-nation, weeklong tour. He is the first member of President Donald Trump's Cabinet to visit Afghanistan.

As part of the administration's review of Afghan policy, Trump's national security adviser, Army Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster, visited Kabul last week to consult with Nicholson and with Afghan officials.

Full report at:

http://nation.com.pk/international/24-Apr-2017/us-general-in-afghanistan-suggests-russia-arming-taliban

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Pentagon chief visits Afghanistan after deadly Taliban attack

APRIL 25, 2017

KABUL: US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis arrived in Afghanistan on an unannounced visit Monday, hours after his Afghan counterpart resigned over a deadly Taliban attack that triggered anger and left the embattled army in disarray.

Mattis branded the Taliban "barbaric", but would not be drawn on recent calls to send more troops to help battle the resurgent militants, who are gearing up for the spring fighting season.

He vowed solidarity at a press conference in Kabul, but said only that the US was engaged in "defining the way ahead in Afghanistan with several nations", adding that no one country would be responsible.

Mattis arrived as Afghan security forces, already paying a heavy price against the Taliban, faced chaos with the resignations of Defence Minister Abdullah Habibi and army chief Qadam Shah Shaheem.

The resignations, along with the announcement of a corps commanders reshuffle, followed fury over Friday's Taliban assault on an army base outside the northern city of Mazar-i-Sharif.

Gunmen in soldiers' uniforms and armed with suicide vests entered the base in army trucks and opened fire at unarmed troops in one of the deadliest-ever Taliban attacks on an Afghan military target.

Afghan authorities have so far ignored calls to break down the official toll of more than 100 soldiers killed or wounded. Some local officials have put the number of dead alone as high as 130.

The raid, the latest in a series of brazen Taliban assaults, underscores the insurgents' growing strength more than 15 years since they were ousted from power by the US invasion of 2001.

Up to ten army personnel are being questioned as suspects, a military spokesman attached to the base said, amid fears it could have been an insider attack.

At least four of them had valid passes to the base and had previously trained there, a security source told AFP.

Afghans have slammed the government over the attack, though Habibi told a press conference Monday his resignation was voluntary.

"Nobody in the world has been able to prevent such attacks," he said of the base assault. "It is an intelligence war and a war on terrorism. It is very difficult."

Habibi repeated that more information about the death toll would be given when an investigation is complete, though he admitted casualties were "high".

Troops targeted

Head of US forces in Afghanistan General John Nicholson also spoke alongside Mattis at the press conference at NATO headquarters in Kabul, vowing there was "no space" for the Islamic State jihadist group in Afghanistan.

The US decision to drop its largest non-nuclear weapon on ISIS hideouts in eastern Afghanistan less than two weeks ago was a "very clear message" to the group, he said: "If they come to Afghanistan they will be destroyed".

The use of the GBU-43/B Massive Ordnance Air Blast, dubbed the "Mother of All Bombs", triggered global shockwaves, with some condemning the move against a militant group that is not considered as big a threat to Afghanistan as the Taliban.

Shortly after Mattis landed for the visit, his first to Afghanistan as Pentagon chief, militants carried out a suicide attack aimed at Camp Chapman, a joint US-Afghan military base in the southeastern province of Khost.

At least four Afghan security personnel were killed, officials said, the latest blow to morale after Friday's attack.

Mattis is the second senior US security official to visit Afghanistan this month: National Security Advisor General H.R. McMaster arrived in Kabul days after the MOAB was dropped.

The Pentagon chief has said he is compiling an assessment for President Donald Trump on the brutal and seemingly intractable conflict.

Full report at:

http://nation.com.pk/international/24-Apr-2017/pentagon-chief-visits-afghanistan-after-deadly-taliban-attack

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Global youth summit in Bangladesh calls for unity

24.04.2017

A global youth summit in southeastern Chittagong city has urged young people from around the world to unite their voices for the oppressed.

Fourth Global Youth Summit in 2017 was held at the International Islamic University of Chittagong on Monday that saw participants from around the world.

University Vice Chancellor A.K.M. Azharul Islam said Muslims around the world were passing through a very critical moment. He urged the Muslim youth that “this is the right time for you to lead the world for peace and prosperity”.

He said that Muslim youth should prepare themselves to address the current humanitarian and moral crisis as well as Islamophobia.

Head of the university’s Student Affairs A.Z.M. Obaidullah called for unity among youth all over the world without regard to religious, political and ethnic identity.

“Let’s get united against oppression, let’s get united to uphold human rights, to protect the suppressed humanity of the world, let’s get united to keep the interests of our global community beyond our religious, cultural and national interest,” he said.

The summit brought together 250 youths from around the world and was co-organized by Bangladesh’s South Asian Youth Association and Turkey’s Federation of the International Students Associations.

The Bangladeshi association’s Chairman Al Mamun Rasel said: “We always stand with the oppressed people, from Somalia to Myanmar and from Palestine to Syria.”

Turkish federation’s Mehmet Gunduz said the youth were ambassadors of their countries.

Representatives from Nepal, Syria, Somali, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Nigeria, China, U.S., Malaysia and Myanmar also gave speeches at the event, and described their countries current situation.

Full report at:

http://aa.com.tr/en/asia-pacific/global-youth-summit-in-bangladesh-calls-for-unity/804339

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3 held for kidnapping Bangladeshis in Libya

April 25, 2017

Kamrul Hasan

The detainees collected ransom from the family members of the kidnapped Bangladeshis through bKash and bank accounts

Criminal Investigation Department (CID) has detained three people for allegedly kidnapping Bangladeshis in Libya.

The identities of the detainees could not be ascertained yet.

CID Additional Deputy Commissioner (Organised crime) Minhazul Islam confirmed the matter Tuesday morning.

He said: “They were detained from Shibchar area of Madaripur district. The detainees collected ransom from the family members of the kidnapped Bangladeshis through bKash and bank accounts.

Full report at:

http://www.dhakatribune.com/bangladesh/crime/2017/04/25/3-held-kidnapping-bangladeshis-libya/

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Bamyan hospital inaugurated with Canada, France and AKDN support

Apr 25 2017

A standard hospital was inaugurated in central Bamyan province of Afghanistan after the project was completed with the support of the Canada, France, and the Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN).

According to the local government officials, the hospital has been built and equipped with a total cost of $22.8 million.

The officials further added that the cost of the project was sponsored by the governments of Canada and France with the Aga Khan Development Network acting as an implementing partner.

A ceremony was organized for the inauguration of the hospital and was attended by Princess Zahra Aga Khan, the Canadian and French Ambassadors, Minister of Public Health, Minister of Public Works, Second Vice President, Lawmakers, and several other high level government officials.

Provincial governor Mohammad Tahir Zahir thanked the Canadian and French governments for providing financial support for the construction of the hospital.

He also thanked the Aga Khan Development Network for acting as an implementing partner of the project and urged all the parties to help in further development of the hospital from the provincial level to the zonal level.

Mr. Zahir also presented some of the key demands of Bamyan province to the Second Vice President Mohammad Sarwar Danish, urging the government to assist with the implementation of the cultural master plan of Bamyan, establishment of medical faculty, maintaining security on highways connecting to Bamyan, reduction of poverty, and modification plan of the administrative units.

Full report at:

http://www.khaama.com/bamyan-hospital-inaugurated-with-canada-france-and-akdn-support-02643

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Complex war of intelligence underway in Afghanistan: Habibi

Apr 25 2017

The former Minister of Defense General Abdullah Habibi says a complex war of intelligence is underway in Afghanistan.

Gen. Habibi made the remarks after appearing in a press following the approval of his resignation by President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani.

He said he considered to step down so that the way is paved for the others to come, emphasizing that the youths of the country are strong and can tackle the threats posed by the insurgents and terrorist groups.

In the meantime, Gen. Qadam Shah Shaheem said the decision to step down was taken for the national interests of the country.

Gen. Shaheem further added that they were not forced to step down from their posts and emphasized that their resignation does not mean that they will stop serving the country.

The two senior defense officials promised that they will continue to serve and work with the defense forces of the country.

President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani today accepted the resignation of the two officials and approved major changes in the Afghan army commands.

The Office of the President, ARG Palace, said the changes of the command were approved based on the recommendations for further improvement of the services, execution of the operations, and maintenance of peace and sovereignty.

Full report at:

http://www.khaama.com/complex-war-of-intelligence-underway-in-afghanistan-habibi-02642

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Princess Zahra Aga Khan reaffirms continued AKDN support to Afghanistan

Apr 24 2017

Princess Zahra Aga Khan, the daughter of Prince Karim Aga Khan met with President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani in ARG Palace today and reaffirmed continued support to the Aga Khan Development Network to Afghanistan.

According to the informed sources, Princess Zahra, the head of the social welfare of the Aga Khan Development Network, was accompanied by a delegation of the network during her visit to ARG Palace.

The sources further added that President Ghani hailed the Aga Khan Development for its services in Afghanistan, specifically in the reconstruction and restoration of the country the historic sites including the Chelsitoon park.

Pointing towards AKDN’s rich experience in the rehabilitation and restoration of the historic sites, President Ghani urged the network to assist the Afghan students with the training in this sector.

The First Lady of Afghanistan Rola Ghani also emphasized on the importance of AKDN’s role in supporting the Afghan women in healthcare, education, and access to justice.

In her turn, Princess Zahra reaffirmed continued support of AKDN to Afghanistan and said the main purpose of her visit to Afghanistan is to inaugurate the Telemedicine hospital in Bamyan besides visiting the project sites where rehabilitation of the historic sites are underway.

Full report at:

http://www.khaama.com/princess-zahra-aga-khan-reaffirms-continued-akdn-support-to-afghanistan-02641

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Southeast Asia

 

Philippine President Says He Can Be 50 Times More Brutal Than Terrorists

April 24, 2017

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte warned Sunday that he could be "50 times" more brutal than Muslim militants who stage beheadings and said he could even "eat" the extremists if they're captured alive by troops.

Duterte has repeatedly threatened drug suspects with death, but he raised his shock rhetoric to a new level as president when he said in a speech during the opening of a national sports tournament what he could do to terrorists who have staged beheadings and other gruesome attacks.

Duterte ordered troops to kill fleeing Muslim militants behind a foiled attack in the central resort province of Bohol and not bring them to him alive, calling the extremists "animals."

"If you want me to be an animal, I'm also used to that. We're just the same," Duterte said. "I can dish out, go down what you can 50 times over."

The foul-mouthed president said that if a terrorist was presented to him when he's in a foul mood, "give me salt and vinegar and I'll eat his liver."

The crowd broke into laughter, but Duterte cut in, "It's true, if you make me angry."

Duterte, a longtime city mayor who built an image as a deadly crime-buster, won the presidency in May last year on a promise to battle illegal drugs, corruption and terrorism. Thousands have died under his anti-drug crackdown, which has alarmed Western governments and human rights groups.

He has warned he may place the southern Philippines, scene of a decades-long Muslim separatist rebellion, under martial rule if terrorism threats spin out of control.

Full report at:

http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/04/24/duterte-says-he-can-be-50-times-more-brutal-than-terrorists.html

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Muslims push tougher sharia law as Malaysian election issue

April 25, 2017

Malaysia’s biggest Islamic party has warned its push for more powerful sharia courts and penalties will be a key general-election issue, and politicians who refuse to support the move face a similar fate to Jakarta’s ousted Christian governor.

With elections expected to be called as early as August, the proposed Sharia Act (355) is shaping up as a wedge issue that could determine the extent of opposition party co-operation against the ruling UMNO party, which has governed Malaysia since independence, and the political fortunes of its leader Najib Razak.

The Pan-Malaysian Islamic Party (PAS) is pushing for a ­nationwide extension of the sharia courts’ powers, and for an increase in the maximum penalties, raising fears of a growing ­climate of religious conservatism — just as the bruising Jakarta election has in Indonesia.

At present Malaysia’s sharia courts may hear a small number of civil issues affecting Muslims, and impose maximum penalties of three years’ imprisonment, a maximum fine of 5000 Malaysian ringgit ($1503) and up to six strokes of the rotan cane.

Under the proposed amendments tabled in parliament this month, sharia court judges would be able to impose up to 100 strokes for acts such as illicit sex and consumption of alcohol, fines of up to RM100,000 and a maximum of 30 years’ imprisonment.

Prime Minister Najib Razak — who has weathered allegations he allowed the misappropriation of some $US4 billion ($5.3bn) from state development fund 1MDB — had promised UMNO would shepherd the bill through parliament, against the wishes of non-Muslim coalition partners.

He withdrew that promise this month, though days later the parliamentary speaker allowed it to be tabled as a private member’s bill before blocking all debate.

In a weekend statement, PAS information chief and MP ­Nasrudin Hassan said the recent Jakarta election — in which the Christian, ethnic-Chinese Basuki Tjahaja Purnama lost after allegations he insulted Islam during a speech — “clearly signals Islam’s uprising there (Indonesia)”.

“When you insult Islam, don’t think Muslims will not act by ­rejecting you as a leader. The Jakarta election has proven it,” Mr Nasrudin Hassan said.

“Now, the same spirit is spreading among Muslims in ­Malaysia. The issue of amending Act 355 and Act 164 (a bid to prevent universal conversion of children) will open the eyes of citizens here to see who are foes and friends when it comes to fighting for Islam.”

In a 2014 survey by pollsters Merdeka Centre, 71 per cent of Malay-Muslims supported the bill’s push for harsher sharia penalties. Malay Muslims make up about 60 per cent of voters. ­Another 23 per cent are ethnic Chinese and 7 per cent Indian.

Merdeka’s Ibrahim Suffian said race and religion had always played a large role in Malaysian political discourse. The issue in the next election will be whether the push for greater sharia penalties will present too great an obstacle for secular opposition parties seeking an election pact with PAS that avoids placing candidates in each other’s seats and splintering the opposition vote.

Full report at:

http://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/world/muslims-push-tougher-sharia-law-as-malaysian-election-issue/news-story/d5696f3ff34629df004db32e5cfa40aa

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German Jews fear growing Muslim anti-Semitism

April 24, 2017

BERLIN: Jews in Germany say they feel a “growing threat” of anti-Semitism, especially from Muslims but also from xenophobic far-right groups, a parliamentary report said Monday.

They are “increasingly concerned for their safety due to everyday experiences of anti-Semitism,” said the Independent Experts Group on Anti-Semitism.

In a 2016 survey, Jewish people questioned about verbal and physical attacks against them put “Muslim persons or groups” first as the perpetrators, ahead of “people unknown” or far-right or left groups, said the report, without providing specific data.

In Germany, which has long struggled with the dark memory of Nazi-era World War II and the Holocaust, there was now “a significant discrepancy in perception” about anti-Semitism, said the group set up by the German Bundestag in 2014.

“While the non-Jewish majority does not see current manifestations of anti-Semitism as a relevant problem, Jews in Germany feel they are facing a growing threat,” it said.

“In addition to the disconcerting rise of right-wing populism, there is concern about anti-Semitism among Muslims, these days especially in refugee and migrant populations.”

About 200,000 Jews live in Germany, Europe’s third largest community after Britain and France, up from only about 15,000 after the end of the Nazi Third Reich.

Germany has taken in more than one million asylum seekers since 2015, many fleeing war and persecution in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan.

The case of a 14-year-old Jewish boy in Berlin recently made headlines — his parents took him out of a state school with many pupils of Turkish and Arabic descent after he was allegedly bullied and threatened by classmates who told him that “all Jews are murderers”.

The parliamentary panel report said rising Jewish fears were partly due to “the growing importance of social media”, which was “key to the spread of hate speech and anti-Semitic agitation”.

Full report at:

http://www.freemalaysiatoday.com/category/world/2017/04/24/german-jews-fear-growing-muslim-anti-semitism/

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Jakarta Election Result Spells Trouble for Jokowi and Indonesia

2017/04/25

The heavy loss of incumbent Jakarta Governor Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama to former education minister Anies Baswedan signals rising intolerance and demonstrates the influence of hard-line Muslim groups in Indonesia, spelling trouble for President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo and moderate Indonesians of all persuasions. That Ahok failed to run a savvy and cohesive campaign has only amplified the shortcomings of Jakarta’s moderate class.

Ahok's loss sees a return to leadership of the establishment class. Ahok has spent much of his career jumping between political parties before going independent — only to re-form an alliance last year with the ruling Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P). The success of volunteer team "Teman Ahok" (Friends of Ahok), formed in 2015 after the governor committed to running for a second term, seemed to indicate a groundswell of grassroots support. Hundreds of volunteers hit the streets and shopping malls of the city and received a million signatures of support from eligible voters by June last year.

But those efforts were squandered by organizers, and after the first round of voting in February the group appeared to run out of energy. "We have been helping Ahok for two years non-stop. We’re starting to feel a bit tired,' Teman Ahok founder Singgih Widyastomo told reporters, "it is the political parties endorsing the candidate pair that should be on the front line."

The failure of the group, whose members were reportedly upset to learn Ahok had teamed up with the PDI-P, will surely be examined by future candidates looking to return progressive and meritocratic government to the city. Teman Ahok was not effectively used by the official campaign once Ahok was on the ballot, and the group failed to maintain campaigning momentum or tailor its message, particularly after the high-profile blasphemy case broke out.

Meanwhile, PDI-P spent months teasing a candidacy from popular Surabaya mayor Tri Rismaharini which, in retrospect, wasted valuable time that could have been used to establish a strong foundation for the Ahok campaign, making it easier to weather the blasphemy storm. It is one thing to have a candidate attending court each week in a high-profile case; it is another thing entirely to have the machinery of the country’s ruling party fail to compensate for that.

The Anies win is now being linked to another tilt at the presidency for retired general and Great Indonesia Movement Party (Gerindra) boss Prabowo Subianto in 2019. Subianto fell 8 million votes short of Jokowi in 2014. Ominously, deputy governor-elect Sandiaga, himself part of Indonesia’s elite ranking alongside the country’s richest businessmen, repeatedly declared while on the campaign trail that Gerindra would continue to support Jokowi "until 2019."

The hardline Muslim population will be reinvigorated by this result — after all, if a candidate hanging around 11 percent can go on to win an election after meeting with firebrand clerics, which savvy political operator would not seek to replicate that tactic? Regardless of who eventually nominates against Jokowi in 2019, the campaign is set to export divisive unrest from Jakarta to the rest of the country. Prabowo has already sought to reframe the role of the Islamic Defenders Front (FPI) in the campaign. Despite the fact that FPI led all major demonstrations against Ahok and was the main voice calling for his imprisonment on blasphemy charges, Prabowo maintains the group is on the side of "unity."

Full report at:

https://international.thenewslens.com/article/66726

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Mideast

 

Palestinian hunger striker's health critically worsening: Committee

Apr 24, 2017

Palestinian leader Marwan Barghouti's health conditions have been critically deteriorating during the past week after he joined a hunger strike with over a thousand other Palestinian inmates in Israeli jails, a Palestinian committee says.

Head of the Palestinian Committee of Prisoners’ Affairs Issa Qaraqe announced the news on Monday, adding that Barghouthi, 57, was suffering from a severe drop in blood pressure and blood sugar levels.

Since April 17, over 1,500 Palestinian prisoners from across the political spectrum have gone on a mass hunger strike, initially called for by Barghouti, in protest at the conditions of Israeli prisons.

The Israeli regime has sentenced Barghouthi, a top leader of the Palestinian Fatah Movement, to serve five life terms in prison over his role in the Palestinian Intifada (Uprising). The Israel Prison Service (IPS) has placed him in solitary confinement following the initiation of the strike eight days ago.

On last Wednesday, IPS spokesman Assaf Librati announced that Barghouti had been transferred from Hadarim Prison to the Kishon Prison, near Haifa.

The IPS has continued to punish the hunger-striking detainees by placing them in solitary confinement and denying family and legal visits by their lawyers since the strike began on Palestinian Prisoners’ Day.

Earlier on Monday, dozens of families and supporters of hunger strikers marched through the streets of the occupied West Bank city of Ramallah, to express their dissent against the IPS authorities and to express their solidarity with the inmates and praise their strike.

Dozens of others flew kites and balloons, carrying photos of Palestinian inmates, in the vicinity of the Ofer prison in the West Bank. 

"This activity was organized near the (Israeli) occupation's Ofer prison to send a message to prisoners telling them that our people are supporting them," said one of the organizers.

Israeli prisons hold around 6,500 Palestinians, including 300 minors. Some of the inmates are held under Tel Aviv’s policy of administrative detention, which enables confinement without charge.

Palestinian inmates regularly stage hunger strikes in protest at the administrative detention policy and their harsh prison conditions.

http://www.presstv.ir/Detail/2017/04/24/519334/Palestine-Marwan-Barghouti-hunger-strike-IPS

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Bogus anti-terror coalitions fail to ensure regional security: Rouhani

Apr 24, 2017

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani says coalitions allegedly fighting terrorism are incapable of playing a role in the establishment of stability and security in the region.

“Countries, which have supported terrorist groups such as Taliban, al-Qaeda and Daesh [by providing them] money and arms for many years and are still helping them, cannot claim to be combating terrorism,” Rouhani said in a meeting with Speaker of Pakistan’s National Assembly Sardar Ayaz Sadiq in Tehran on Monday.

He stressed the importance of enhancing security in the region and in the Muslim world and urged all countries to make efforts to uproot terrorism and restore lasting regional security.

Rouhani further stated that Iran and Pakistan had many common interests and urged the two countries to reinforce relations in all fields and increase the volume of their trade ties to five billion dollars per year.

“The Islamic Republic of Iran has always stood by the Pakistani people over the past 70 years and the expansion of ties and interactions between the two countries’ officials and representatives can undoubtedly be effective in developing mutual relations,” Rouhani added.

He also expressed Iran’s readiness to completely meet Pakistan's needs in the energy sector and expressed hope that Islamabad would take necessary steps to complete a pipeline project for the export of Iran’s gas to the country, which has been stalled for years.

The project is meant to transfer natural gas from Iran’s energy hub of Assaluyeh to Pakistan. Iran has already taken the pipeline to the border with its eastern neighbor. However, Pakistan has so far failed to construct its share of the pipeline due to what officials say has been a lack of funds.  

The Iranian president also urged the establishment of land and rail transit routes between the two neighboring countries, saying the Iranian port city of Chabahar and Pakistan’s southeastern port of Gwadar have the potential to bring about positive developments in the region.

Pakistan keen to complete gas pipeline project: Sadiq

The speaker of Pakistan’s National Assembly, for his part, said his country needed to use Iran’s capacities in the energy sector, particularly for the transfer of gas, and also expressed Islamabad’s readiness to complete the pipeline project.

Sadiq also warned of the spread of terrorist groups, particularly Taliban and Daesh, in the region and urged collective cooperation to counter them.

Full report at:

http://www.presstv.ir/Detail/2017/04/24/519291/Iran-Pakistan-Hassan-Rouhani-Sardar-Ayaz-Sadiq-terrorism-peace-pipeline

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Yemen’s Hadramout celebrates first anniversary of liberation from al-Qaeda

24 April 2017

Skies of the port city of Mukalla in Yemen lit up with fireworks on Monday as locals celebrated the one-year anniversary of liberation from al-Qaeda.

Hundreds of residents took to the streets of the capital of the southeastern governorate of Hadramout to mark the April 24 anniversary after al-Qaeda retreated from the region.

Exploiting the chaos engulfing Yemen, in mid-April 2015 al-Qaeda established itself as a major power in the desert region of Hadramout, as the war-torn country’s exiled government was occupied in a conflict with the Houthi militias.

Full report at:

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/gulf/2017/04/24/Yemen-s-Hadramaut-celebrates-first-anniversary-of-liberation-from-al-Qaeda-.html

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Drone strike kills three civilians, four militants in Yemen

24 April 2017

Three Yemeni civilians were killed when a drone attacked four suspected al-Qaeda militants traveling in a vehicle in the southern part of the country, residents and a local official said on Monday.

Residents said the attack in al-Saeed area of Shabwa province on Sunday afternoon was by a United States drone, part of a campaign by President Donald Trump’s administration against Yemen’s al-Qaeda branch.

They said al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) was known to operate in the area and had been targeted by US forces in recent months.

The vehicle was completely destroyed in the drone strike, which also hit three civilians who happened to be passing nearby, the residents and local officials said.

The United States has repeatedly attacked AQAP with aircraft and unmanned drones in what US officials say is a campaign to degrade the group’s ability to coordinate attacks abroad.

The new US administration has not yet laid out a clear policy on drone strikes, but Trump has said he would support an escalation of the fight against Islamist militant groups.

US drone strikes have become more frequent in recent weeks, with at least six reported by Reuters last month.

In late January, at least 30 people were killed in a US commando dawn raid in southern Yemen, including at least 10 women and children, in the first such military operation authorized by President Donald Trump.

Full report at:

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/gulf/2017/04/24/Drone-strike-kills-3-civilians-four-militants-in-Yemen.html

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Iran supports Afghanistan’s anti-terror campaign: Larijani

Apr 24, 2017

Iranian Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani has denounced recent terrorist attacks in Afghanistan, pledging the Islamic Republic’s full support for the country's fight against terrorism.

“I would like to emphasize the Islamic Republic of Iran's all-out support for the government and nation of the neighboring and Muslim country [of Afghanistan] in the campaign against terrorism and for the establishment of sustainable security and peace," Larijani said in a message to the president of the Afghan Wolesi Jirga (House of People), Haji Abdul Rauof Ibrahimi, on Monday.

Larijani also extended his condolences to Ibrahimi and other Afghan lawmakers, government and people as well as the bereaved families of the victims over the terrorist attacks.

At least 140 Afghan soldiers were killed and scores of others injured in a deadly terrorist attack on a military compound in northern Afghanistan by Taliban militants on Friday. A day later a huge explosion was also reported in Jalalabad city in Nangarhar Province.

The Friday attack, seen as the deadliest ever on an Afghan army base, took place in the vicinity of the 209th Shaheen Corps of the Afghan National Army forces in Mazar-e-Sharif city, the provincial capital of Balkh.

According to reports, as many as 10 Taliban gunmen stormed the base where Afghan soldiers were leaving a mosque after Friday prayers.

Meanwhile, a police official said on Monday that at least four security guards were killed after a bomber attacked their checkpoint in eastern Afghanistan.

Full report at:

http://www.presstv.ir/Detail/2017/04/24/519318/Iran-Afghanistan-Ali-Larijani-Haji-Abdul-Rauof-Ibrahimi-Wolesi-Jirga

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US drone strike kills three civilians in southern Yemen

Apr 24, 2017

At least three Yemeni civilians have lost their lives when a US unmanned aerial vehicle carried out a strike in the southern part of the impoverished Arab country.

The deadly drone strike was conducted in al-Saeed area of Shabwah Province on Sunday afternoon.

The casualties came after the aerial attack hit a vehicle carrying four people, suspected to be al-Qaeda members. The vehicle was completely destroyed in the strike, which also hit three civilians who happened to be passing nearby.

The US has intensified its military engagement in Yemen in recent weeks.

On March 2, Washington launched a series of strikes against alleged al-Qaeda targets in Yemen. The military attacks focused on the southern provinces of Abyan and Shabwah as well as Bayda, farther to the north.

The military operations were the first since a botched ground raid in January that killed women and children as well as an American commando.

The drone strikes in Yemen continue alongside the Saudi military aggression against the impoverished conflict-ridden country. Saudi Arabia has been incessantly pounding Yemen since March 2015 in an unsuccessful attempt to reinstate a former government.

The aerial attacks, initiated by former US President George W. Bush in 2004, were escalated during former US president Barack Obama’s terms in office.

The attacks had been carried out in Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia, Libya and elsewhere.

US President Donald Trump has recently given the CIA new authority to launch drone strikes across various parts of the world in Washington’s so-called war on terror.

Full report at:

http://www.presstv.ir/Detail/2017/04/24/519313/US-Yemen-alSaeed--Shabwa-Province--alQaeda

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Africa

 

ICC issues warrant against ex-Gaddafi security chief

APRIL 25, 2017

THE HAGUE:- - The International Criminal Court Monday unsealed an arrest warrant for Libya's former security chief, accusing him of war crimes in 2011 during the regime of late dictator Moamer Gaddafi. The warrant, first issued in 2013, charges Mohamed Khaled al-Tuhamy, once head of Libya's internal security agency, with a total of seven charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity such as torture, imprisonment and persecution "to quash the political opposition to the Gaddafi regime by any means".

http://nation.com.pk/international/25-Apr-2017/icc-issues-warrant-against-ex-gaddafi-security-chief

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Muslim group: Fayose wants Nigeria to burn… we are ready

25 April 2017

The Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) has accused Ayodele Fayose, governor of Ekiti state, of plotting to set the country ablaze.

In a statement by Ishaq Akintola, director of the group, MURIC said its members had sighted “the governor’s bulldozers” around some mosques in the state.

The group had earlier raised the alarm that Fayose was plotting to demolish some mosque. Back then, it threatened to make the state ungovernable if such happened.

The governor later met with the group and the public believed that the matter had been resolved.

But Akintola has accused Fayose of breaching the truce reached three weeks ago. He alleged that Fayose was bent on removing all Islamic landmarks in the state.

“For reasons best known to him, Fayose wants to set Nigeria on fire. He knows that his action is capable of causing breach of peace yet he appears determined to go ahead,” Akintola said in a statement.

“This move is not only irrational but also highly provocative. Governor Fayose is deliberately provoking Muslims in Ekiti state and by inference, in Yorubaland and the country as a whole.

“Fayose has a phobia for Muslims and an allergy for seeing any Islamic monument in their neighbourhood. Fayose is determined to uproot every single Islamic landmark on Ekiti soil before his tenure expires in 2018.”

The group threatened violence if the governor were to go ahead with the demolition, saying, “nobody should blame Muslims for any breakdown of law and order if those mosques are demolished.”

“We are bewildered that the chief security officer of a state can be hell-bent on stoking religious riot in a country heavily beleaguered with religious conflicts,” the statement continued.

“Fayose’s belligerence and open display of hostility towards his Muslim citizens belies the perceived atmosphere of

peaceful coexistence between Christians and Muslims in south-western Nigeria.

“Many people, including foreigners in the country, are under the impression that religious intolerance exists only in the northern part of the country.

“Nay, the truth of the matter is that Muslims in the region have been patiently bearing a long-drawn repression and denial of their Allah-given fundamental human rights.

“The reality on ground is that while a handful of Christians may be amenable to the idea of religious tolerance, many others like Fayose have a phobia for Muslims and an allergy for seeing any Islamic monument in their neighbourhood.”

It then called on traditional and religious leaders as well as well meaning Nigerians to intervene in the matter before “it gets out of hand.”

“MURIC calls the attention of leaders of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) to Fayose’s aggression against Muslims. We appeal to Western diplomats in the country to spare a little time to study the religious landscape in Yorubaland,” Akintola said.

Full report at:

https://www.thecable.ng/muslim-group-fayose-wants-nigeria-burn-ready

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El-zakzaky Want To Turn Nigeria Into An Islamic Republic, He Don’t Recognise Buhari As President – El-rufai

Apr 24, 2017

The Kaduna State Governor, Nasir El-Rufai, has alleged that the leader of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria, IMN, Ibraheem El-Zakzaky wants to turn Nigeria into an islamic republic.”

El-Rufai, who made the comment while featuring on Channels Television programme “Hard Copy,” however stressed, after being asked by the interviewer to retract the comment, that the remark was not meant to denigrate the Shi’ite leader.

The diminutive leader also disclosed that his problem with the El-Zakzaky’s faction of the group was due to their refusal to acknowledge the sovereignty of the Nigerian government.

According to El-Rufai, “Shi’ites are citizens of Nigeria and they are entitled to practice their religion, there is no problem with that. Those protesting for the release of El-Zakzaky are not necessarily Shias, they are members of El-Zakzaky’s movement.

“In Kaduna, there are two other Shi’ite organisations that don’t protest, they don’t block high ways, they recognize the President of Nigeria and me as the governor of the state and we don’t have a problem with them.

“The one that we have problems with is the Islamic Movement of Nigeria, IMN, headed by El-Zakzaky, they don’t recognised the President of Nigeria as sovereign, they don’t recognise me as governor. Their allegiance is to another country and their objective is to turn Nigeria into an Islamic republic.

“They are against the state, never recognised the Nigerian constitution.

“I know El-Zakzaky personally, we were both students at the Amadu Bello University in Zaria, we were both active in the Muslim Students Society so I know the animal I’m dealing with. Many of those making comments on this issue don’t know the history, I was in ABU when El-Zakzaky was dismissed, I know him.”

Full report at:

http://www.nigeriatoday.ng/2017/04/el-zakzaky-want-to-turn-nigeria-into-an-islamic-republic-he-dont-recognise-buhari-as-president-el-rufai/

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URL: http://www.newageislam.com/islamic-world-news/new-age-islam-news-bureau/‘go-to-pakistan’--elderly-muslim-man-humiliated-by-youth-in-delhi-metro/d/110903

 

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