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Islamic World News ( 18 Apr 2023, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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‘Gravity Of Offence Should’ve Been Considered’: SC Questions Gujarat Govt For Parole Granted To Bilkis Bano Convicts

New Age Islam News Bureau

18 April 2023

Bilkis in her plea, had said, “The en masse premature release of the convicts… has shaken the conscience of society”. (Express Photo)

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India

• SC Notice To Police In Plea On Inflammatory Speeches Made During The 2020 Delhi Assembly Poll Speeches Made By Anurag Thakur

• In Delhi's Shaheen Bagh, Atiq Ahmad Owned Properties According To TV Reports

• “Second Muslim Ex-MP Murdered With Impunity”: Owaisi On Atiq Ahmed’s Killing

• SC adjourns pleas against scrapping of 4 pc OBC quota for Muslims by Karnataka govt

• Why the Chinnappa Reddy Commission Considered Karnataka Muslims Backward as a Whole

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Europe

• “People are a lot more giving in Ramadan”: Communities come together across Sheffield

• New rulings and guidelines proposed for burials at Blackburn cemetery

• I fasted for Ramadan as a non-Muslim and it was exhausting - but here's why I'd do it again

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Arab World

• ‘Earth Talk Series’ Talk Highlights Islam And Environmental Responsibility As Tenets Of Islam

• Over two million worshipers attend special prayers, seeking Laylatul Qadr at Holy Mosques

• Prince Mohammed bin Salman Project for Development of Historical Mosques to Renovate Al-Ruasaa Mosque in Al-Majmaah

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South Asia

• Taliban Releases 41 Prisoners, Including 7 Women in Afghanistan’s Ghor Province

• Iran Reiterates Claim on Shared Water Resources With Afghanistan

• Kazakhstan to Open its Trading House in Afghanistan

• Message of Supreme Leader of the Islamic Emirate on the Arrival of the Auspicious Eid-ul Fiter

• Japan’s Ambassador to Kabul Meets Afghan Deputy PM

• Afghanistan at Highest Risk of Famine in 25 Years as Funding Runs Dry: OCHA Warns

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Africa

• Muslims also killed in northern Kaduna, their leaders remain silent – Shehu Sani

• Ramadan: Cleric urges youths to be productive, creative

• Oyebanji hosts iftar for Muslim faithful, lauds religious harmony in Ekiti

• Cape Muslim community calls for compassionate release of SA hostage

• North Macedonia bans Albanian imam from entering country

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North America

• US Muslim Students Embrace Challenges Of Fasting During School And Sports

• MSNBC Host Blasting Abortion Bans as ‘Christian Sharia’ Is Little More Than Vapid Sloganeering

• Archbishop Visits York Mosque and Islamic Centre in Ramadan

• US Kills Senior Islamic State Leader in Syria

• Mayor Jacob Frey signs change allowing Muslim call to prayer at any time in Minneapolis

• Tunisian Islamist leader, ex-parliament speaker, detained after police search

• Community Gathers to Honour Heroes Who Apprehended Mosque Attacker

• Las Vegas Police Welcome Muslim Community For 'Night Of Power'

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Mideast

• Islamist Antisemitism In The US Masked By Alliance With Far Left – Israeli Think Tank Study

• Islamic Jihad threatens: Israel will pay the price if hunger striking terrorist dies

• For Palestinians, holiest Ramadan night starts at checkpoint

• Profiling Ansar Al-Islam: Kurdish Jihadists Threatening Russian Forces In Syria

• PM Mohammed Shia al Sudani helping Iran boost military influence in Iraq, claim reports

• 280,000 Palestinians mark 27th night of Ramadan in Al-Aqsa Mosque

• Confronting problematic tenets of religious law: Judaism could follow Islam

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Pakistan

• Reclusive Taliban Leader, Hibatullah Akhundzada, Releases End-Of-Ramadan Message

• Pakistan Bar Council Warns Of Action If SC Doesn’t Drop Bar On NA-Cleared Bill

• Judge threatening case: Islamabad court issues bailable arrest warrant for Imran Khan

• KP Governor seeks philanthropists’ support for deserving families during Ramadan

• Security of markets, mosques intensified

• PM hosts Iftar-dinner in honour of diplomatic corps of Muslim states

• PM Shehbaz calls huddle to discuss Jamat-e-Islami's offer for dialogue

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Southeast Asia

• Muslims Around The World Consider Climate During Ramadan

• Heinz ABC Collaborates with the Moms of Indonesia to Launch its Latest Ramadan Campaign

• Indonesian brands, led by ABC, deliver the comfort of home to the lonely during Ramadan

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New Zealand

• Linwood Mosque Hero Joins Delegation To King Charles' Coronation

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Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau

URL: https://newageislam.com/islamic-world-news/bilkis-bano-convicts-sc-gujarat-govt/d/129596

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‘Gravity Of Offence Should’ve Been Considered’: SC Questions Gujarat Govt For Parole Granted To Bilkis Bano Convicts

By: Express Web Desk

New Delhi : April 18, 2023

Bilkis in her plea, had said, “The en masse premature release of the convicts… has shaken the conscience of society”. (Express Photo)

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The Supreme Court Tuesday asked the Gujarat government to share the reasons behind its decision to prematurely release the eleven convicts in Bilkis Bano rape case, Live Law reported.

While hearing a March 27 plea challenging the release of convicts, the court said that the gravity of offence should have been considered by the state government.

A bench comprising of Justices KM Joseph and BV Nagarathna observed that just because the Central government concurred with the state’s decision, it did not mean that the State is not required to apply its mind, LiveLaw reported.

“The question is whether government applied its mind, what material formed the basis of its decision, etc…(Judicial) order requiring convicts to be in jail for rest of their natural life… (they were) released by executive order… Today it is this lady (Bilkis). Tomorrow, it can be you or me. There must be objective standards… If you don’t give us reason, we will draw our own conclusions,” the bench observed.

The apex court further said, “apples cannot be compared with oranges” while pointing out that a massacre cannot be compared with a single murder.

Bilkis was gang-raped and her three-year-old daughter was among 14 people killed by a mob on March 3, 2002, in the Limkheda taluka of Gujarat’s Dahod district during the riots. The 11 convicts were released on August 15 last year.

Bilkis in her plea, had said, “The en masse premature release of the convicts… has shaken the conscience of society”.

The bench will now hear the matter on May 2, and will also take a decision on the review petition proposed to be filed by the Gujarat government against the court’s order. Appearing for the Centre and the Gujarat government,  ASG SV Raju told the bench: “We will take a call on whether to file one by Monday.”

With inputs from PTI

Source: indianexpress.com

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https://indianexpress.com/article/india/supreme-court-bilkis-bano-gangrape-case-gujarat-riots-2002-convicts-remission-8563151/

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Austria Court pays Muslim woman damages for headscarf discrimination

April 17, 2023

Vienna City View at Twilight from St Stephen's Cathedral [Pintai Suchachaisri/Getty]

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A Muslim woman, who was pressured to remove her headscarf during the application process to become a kindergarten teacher and ultimately did not get the training position, has been awarded €2,000 ($2,196) in damages in Austria, Anadolu News Agency reports.

This decision was confirmed by the Vienna Regional Court for Civil Matters in the second instance on Monday, the Litigation Association that legally represented the woman in court announced.

The judgment is legally binding. The then 19-year-old woman, who had already gained experience as a kindergarten assistant, had wanted to gain further qualifications and complete training as a child group supervisor with a Viennese provider.

During the application process, she was "repeatedly asked about her headscarf in a discriminatory manner" and urged to "take it off", according to the press release issued by the association.

According to the Litigation Association, the Court found discrimination on the basis of gender and religion under the Austrian Equal Treatment Act (GlBG).

"Repeated, intrusive questions about the headscarf have no place in a job application process. The Court makes it clear that this can constitute prohibited discrimination on the basis of gender and religion," said a statement from Theresa Hammer, head of legal enforcement for the Litigation Association.

It was also made clear by the Court that access to training is also covered by discrimination protection, not just the provision of the training itself, she said.

According to Sandra Konstatzky, head of the Austrian Ombud for Equal Treatment, 74 per cent of the inquiries handled by the Ombud on the discrimination ground of religion concern persons of the Muslim faith. 90 per cent of these inquiries relate to experiences of discrimination by Muslim women.

Source: middleeastmonitor.com

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https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/20230417-austria-court-pays-muslim-woman-damages-for-headscarf-discrimination/

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Saudi Arabia's Islamic Art Biennale Visually Ventures Where Others Fear To Tread

18/04/2023

Islamic Arts Biennale   -  Copyright  ©Marco Cappelletti

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Pilgrims embarking on the Hajj – a sacred pilgrimage to Mecca, required of every Muslim at least once in their lifetime – will likely find themselves at some point at Jeddah airport’s gargantuan Hajj Terminal, awaiting the next step of their journey to Islam’s holiest city.

In 2023, the terminal has invited travellers on another journey: through the rituals that have defined Islam from its inception to the present day, and the footsteps of the Prophet Muhammad, at the first ever Islamic Arts Biennale.

“We were set a task to make something universal to the Muslim world but that also reflects the particularity of this place,” explains curator Dr Julian Raby. Pilgrims en route to Mecca gather from across the globe with one goal, to visit the Awwal Bait (literally meaning “First House”) or House of Allah: the Ka’bah in Mecca, which provides the focal point of daily rituals of worship. It is at once, says Raby, “the thing that unites all Muslims” no matter their location, and a holy site of which this region of Saudi Arabia, specifically, is the custodian.

It is under the title of Awwal Bait that the Biennale traces centuries of creativity, juxtaposing historical artefacts with contemporary works to explore the artistic heritage of Islam, with the Ka’bah its metaphorical guiding light.

Within this theme, the Biennale is split into two main exhibition experiences: Qiblah and Hijrah. Qiblah, meaning the direction of the Ka’bah toward which every Muslim faces in their daily prayers, is a series of galleries combining contemporary artworks and historical objects reflecting on daily ritual and acts of faith.

In itself, Qiblah is divided into six sections, taking audiences through key elements of Islamic ritual: Adhan: The Call; Wudu’: Purification; Salah: Prayer; Salat Al-Jama’ ah: Congregational Prayer; Mawt: Mortality; and Bait: House of God. Hijrah, which brings visitors out under the tent-like canopy of the Hajj Terminal, presents specially commissioned artworks that explore the theme of migration.

Outside under the canopy in the Hijrah exhibit, A Series of Personal Questions Addressed to a Boat That Sailed Its Last Journey on the Red Sea by James Webb sees the South African artist ask a salvaged traditional Arabian wooden boat questions that prompt meditation on what the boat embodies: migration, trade, pilgrimage, identity.

Source: euronews.com

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https://www.euronews.com/culture/2023/04/18/saudi-arabias-islamic-art-biennale-visually-ventures-where-others-fear-to-tread

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Restrictions on Women’s Rights Will Worsen Economic Catastrophe in Afghanistan: UN Warns

By

Fidel Rahmati

April 18, 2023

Afghanistan’s prospects for economic recovery are dim without maintaining girls’ education and women’s employment opportunities, according to a new study released by the United Nations Development Program on Monday in Kabul.

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The study entitled: “Afghanistan Socio-Economic Outlook 2023” describes how Afghanistan’s economic output fell by 20.7 % after the Taliban took control in 2021.

The report also emphasized that Afghanistan remains among the world’s most impoverished countries due to the “unparalleled shock.”

The study also found that despite a relatively stable exchange rate, an increase in exports, growing demand for labour, and muted inflation, GDP is estimated to have further declined by 3.6 % in 2022.

According to the new report, Afghanistan’s GDP might rise by 1.3 per cent in 2023 if foreign aid stays at its current level of $3.7 billion. However, long-term prospects for economic development are still dim and inadequate, particularly if foreign funding is withheld due to the Taliban’s repressive policies.

“There will be no sustainable recovery without the active participation of Afghan women in the economy and public life, which includes delivering on humanitarian and livelihoods-saving projects,” said UNDP Regional Director for Asia and the Pacific, KanniWignaraja. “Only the complete continuity of girls’ education and women’s ability to pursue work and learning can keep the hope of any real progress.

According to the report, impoverished individuals increased dramatically from 19 million in 2020 to 34 million in 2022.

“If foreign aid is reduced this year, Afghanistan may fall from the cliff edge into the abyss,” cautioned the UNDP Resident Representative In Afghanistan, Abdallah Al Dardari

Source: khaama.com

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https://www.khaama.com/restrictions-on-womens-rights-will-worsen-economic-catastrophe-in-afghanistan-un-warns/

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Jewish community hosts Ramadan breakfast for Muslim, Christian leaders in Abuja

April 18, 2023

By Salisu Sani-Idris

The Jewish Community of Nigeria, on Monday hosted some notable leaders of the Muslim and Christian communities to an Iftar (Ramadan breakfast) in Abuja, as Muslims rounded off Ramadan.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Muslims worldwide observe Iftar during Ramadan by breaking their fast after sunset.

Speaking at the event, the Chief Rabbi of Nigeria, Rabbi Israel Uzan, expressed delight over the peaceful coexistence of all Nigerians despite their religious differences.

According to him, Nigerians live together and I have seen the mixing of different religions and different people living together and this is the reality of this country.

“For the last 10 years that I have been here, maybe am too naive or I have to change my glasses, I don’t see so much problem that we talked always in the newspaper. Yes, there are many problems but there are so many good aspects of Nigeria.

“In Nigeria as a country, they are always together because you cannot identify it as Christian, Muslim or Jews country. Nigeria is a beautifully mixed country, mixing families, politics, and businesses and tonight this is what we can see.”

Earlier, the Israeli Ambassador to Nigeria, Michael Freeman, said “what unites us is so much more than anything that divides us and the differences that we have are so minor in comparison to the fact that we are Abraham’s children.

“We all come from Abraham, we all come from the same place and we all are going to end up in the same place ultimately, and this is something special.

“Today is that opportunity for us to say, never again, not only say never again but to demonstrate it under this roof. Christians, Muslims, Jews, celebrating what unites us; Celebrating the festivals, we have just finished Easter, we’ve just been in Passover and We’re about to finish Ramadan.”

Also, an Imam of the Abuja National Mosque, Dr Kabir Adam, reaffirmed the commitment of the Muslim community to peace building and peaceful coexistence in the country.

“Let us reaffirm our commitment to peace building, our commitment to peaceful coexistence, our commitment to always receive each other, live with each other and everybody is free to practice his own belief. Islam is very clear.

“Well, I think the last few days we celebrated the Passover. We had Good Friday, as well as Easter Monday. The three things used to happen only three times in 100 years, So this year is very historic.

“Qur’an said there is no compulsion in religion, so you can practice your religion, I can practice my religion, or we can talk to people, sell to them the ideas of our religion.

“And whoever is interested, is free to take it or leave it, but the most important thing is for us to always live in peace and understand each other,” Kabir said.

Similarly, the Chairman, Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), FCT Chapter, Rev. Timothy Amakon, said religion should not be something that would divide human beings or something that would make human beings see one another as enemies.

“But I believe that religion is what God has made to unite us. All human beings in the entire world should understand that we are one and that we are serving the same God.

“It depends on the angle that somebody is coming from, So I pray that God will make us understand it so that all of us will live in peace and practice our religions.”

Speaking on the essence of the gathering, the Chief Imam of Al-Habibiyah Islamic Society, Imam FuadAdeyemi, explained that the event was to confirm and practicalise what the two religions stand for.

“All religions cannot be one. We couldn’t have one religion, but whatever the number of religious groups that we belong to, we should not see it as a weapon to fight ourselves. That is the only thing we are saying in the Abrahamic mission.

“The essence of what we are doing here today is also to confirm or to cement that unity. Yes, we are different. Yes, we could do things together. Yes, our difference does not mean we are enemies to ourselves and that is why this programme is also trying to promote peace and unity,” he said. (NAN)

Source: newsdiaryonline.com

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https://newsdiaryonline.com/jewish-community-hosts-ramadan-breakfast-for-muslim-christian-leaders-in-abuja/

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India

 

SC Notice To Police In Plea On Inflammatory Speeches Made During The 2020 Delhi Assembly Poll Speeches Made By Anurag Thakur

By: Express News Service

New Delhi: April 18, 2023

The Supreme Court Monday issued notice to Delhi Police and state government on a plea by CPI(M) leader Brinda Karat seeking registration of FIR against BJP leaders Anurag Thakur and Parvesh Verma for alleged inflammatory speeches made during the 2020 Delhi Assembly poll campaign.

Justice K M Joseph presiding over a two judge bench said the view taken by the Magistrate that sanction was needed for taking cognisance “appears to be not correct”.

Appearing for Karat, Senior Advocate Siddharth Agarwal told the bench also comprising Justice B V Nagarathna that the “Magistrate did not rightly accept the status report filed by the police” but had rejected the plea to register FIR saying sanction is required to take cognizance. He argued that cases relied on to say sanction was required pertained to Prevention of Corruption Act and has no application to IPC offences.

Justice Joseph wanted to know if such statements would still make an offence even if they did not fall under IPC section 153A. Section 153A deals with promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion, race, place of birth, residence, language, etc, and doing acts prejudicial to maintenance of harmony. “A minister makes a statement — golimaron, let’s assume it does not fall under 153A for reasons which are given in status report. Will it be an offence for anyone to say kill the traitors irrespective of religion? Will it be a cognizable offence in its own right, if I say let’s kill them. Because whole idea is of IPC. Penal Code permits violence, for eg, right to private defence… But violence permitted only in self defence…,” queried Justice Joseph.

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The counsel contended it still would and referred to IPC provision on abetment. He said abetment can be done either by conspiring with somebody to commit overt act or by inciting someone.

Source: indianexpress.com

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https://indianexpress.com/article/india/sc-notice-to-police-in-plea-on-speeches-made-by-anurag-thakur-8561924/

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In Delhi's Shaheen Bagh, Atiq Ahmad Owned Properties According To TV Reports

Apr 18, 2023

NEW DELHI: Gangster Atiq Ahmad is reported to own multiple properties worth crores in Delhi, according to TV reports. These properties include residential as well as commercial real estate, such as apartments, office spaces, located in Shaheen Bagh, Okhla and Jamia Nagar.

Atiq's real estate holdings in Delhi are estimated to be worth several crores.

Now, the million-dollar question is who will look after the gangster's ill-gotten empire worth crores in multiple states.

Based on the crackdown on the 'illegal' properties of Atiq and his henchmen, UP police have compiled records of assets in UP's Prayagraj, Kaushambi and other districts of the state.

Investigators are also now trying to decipher the total value of Benami property that the gangster had in Noida and districts adjoining Prayagraj. There are speculations that those who are looking after Atiq'sbenami assets worth thousands of crores of rupees, may have to do something with the Saturday events as well.

Because of the repeated crackdown against Atiq by joint teams of police, district administration and revenue department, especially since 2018, Atiq and his henchmen had suffered a loss of over Rs 975 crore which had dented their economic empire.

Properties worth Rs 751 crore belonging to Atiq and his henchmen were demolished at 40 spots in the past. Police have attached or demolished properties in Civil Lines, Mehdauri, Kareli, Lukerganj, Andhawa Crossing Road, Roshan Bagh, Chakia, Jhalwa, Puramufti and Chail in the past four years.

Source: timesofindia.indiatimes.com

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https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/delhi/in-delhis-shaheen-bagh-atiq-ahmad-owned-properties/articleshow/99577286.cms

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“Second Muslim ex-MP murdered with impunity”: Owaisi on Atiq Ahmed’s killing

17 April, 2023

Hyderabad (Telangana) [India], April 17 (ANI): After gangster-turned-politician Atiq Ahmed was killed in Prayagraj, AIMIM chief Asaduddin Owaisi said that Atiq was the second former MP from the Muslim community to be “murdered without impunity”.

“Atiq is the second Muslim ex-MP who was murdered with impunity. Ehsan Jaffry was ruthlessly hacked to death by a mob in Gujarat in 2002 and today it’s Atiq. Shot and killed in police custody,” tweeted Owaisi.

Atiq Ahmed represented the Phulpur Lok Sabha constituency between 2004-2009.

Ehsan Jaffry was a member of the 6th Lok Sabha. He was killed by a mob in the Gulbarg Society massacre on February 28, 2002, following the Godhra incident.

After Atiq Ahmed and his brother Ashraf Ahmed were shot dead in Prayagraj, AIMIM chief Owaisi called the incident a “cold-blooded murder” while adding that people who are celebrating this killing are “vultures”.

Addressing the mediapersons on Sunday, Owaisi said, “Uttar Pradesh’s BJP government has a role in this. Supreme Court-monitored investigation should be done and a committee should be formed. No officer from Uttar Pradesh should be included in the committee. This was a ‘cold-blooded’ murder.”

He further said, “How did they (killers) get those weapons?… Why were they raising religious slogans after killing them? What will you call them if not terrorists? Will you call them Patriots? People celebrating this incident are vultures…”

He said the incident raises a big question about the law and order situation.

The AIMIM chief questioned whether the public will have any faith in the constitution and Law and order of the country after this incident.

“I have always been saying that BJP in Uttar Pradesh is not running the government by the rule of law but by the rule of gun,” he said.

Owaisi further demanded Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath’s resignation.

“I demand the resignation of UP Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath and the Supreme Court to form a team and investigate this matter. We also demand all police officers present there should be removed from service,” he said.

“Atiq and his brother were in police custody. He was handcuffed. JSR (Jai Shri Ram) slogans were also raised. The killing of both is the failure of Yogi’s law and order system. Those celebrating encounter raj are also responsible for this murder,” Owaisi added.

Days after Atiq Ahmed’s son Asad was killed in an encounter in Uttar Pradesh’s Jhansi, the gangster-turned-politician and his brother, Ashraf Ahmed, were killed on Saturday while being taken for a medical examination in Prayagraj.

Both the gangsters collapsed on the spot after they were shot at nearly point-blank range.

The bodies of the gangster-turned-politician and his brother were brought to KasariMasari burial ground in Prayagraj for burial.

Minor sons of gangster Atiq Ahmed were brought to the burial ground from a juvenile home.

Atiq Ahmed was accused in the 2005 Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) MLA Raju Pal murder case and also in the Umesh Pal murder case which happened in February this year.

Uttar Pradesh Police so far arrested a total of three shooters in this incident. (ANI)

This report is auto-generated from ANI news service. ThePrint holds no responsibility for its content.

Source: theprint.in

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https://theprint.in/politics/second-muslim-ex-mp-murdered-with-impunity-owaisi-on-atiq-ahmeds-killing/1523634/

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SC adjourns pleas against scrapping of 4 pc OBC quota for Muslims by Karnataka govt

Apr 18,2023

The Karnataka government sought an adjournment and assured a bench of Justices KM Joseph and BV Nagarathna that no fresh appointments or admissions would be made based on Karnataka's order sc (/topic/sc)rapping the reservation for Muslims till the next date of hearing.

Last week, the Karnataka government had told the bench that no admissions or appointments will take place on the basis of a government order sc (/topic/sc)rapping the OBC reservation for Muslims till April 18.

The assurance was given by Solicitor General Tushar Mehta to the apex court which listed the matter for further hearing on April 18

The bench had also issued notice to Karnataka Government and others on the pleas and asked them to file a reply.

During the hearing last week, the apex court opined that it seemed that the government order is based on "fallacious presumptions"

Petitions were filed in the apex court challenging the Karnataka government's decision to sc (/topic/sc)rap the reservation of four per cent given to Muslims in the state.

The petitioners said that the decision of the state government was completely unconstitutional, which was done just ahead of the upcoming assembly election. The petitioners also said that the government has misrepresented facts and that there there is no empirical data.

The Karnataka government last month sc (/topic/sc)rapped the four per cent OBC reservation for Muslims and distributed it to the two dominant communities, Veerashaiva-Lingayats and Vokkaligas. The government also decided to move OBC Muslims to the 10 per cent Economically Weaker Section (EWS) category

Meanwhile, the Assembly election in Karnataka is sc (/topic/sc)heduled to be held on May 10 and the counting of votes will take place on May 13. (ANI)

Source: aninews.in

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https://www.aninews.in/news/national/general-news/sc-adjourns-pleas-against-scrapping-of-4-pc-obc-quota-for-muslims-by-karnataka-govt20230418125226/

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Why the Chinnappa Reddy Commission Considered Karnataka Muslims Backward as a Whole

Shivasundar

On April 13, the Solicitor General of India sought to mislead the Supreme Court bench enquiring into the Karnataka government’s decision to scrap reservations to Muslims under the Other Backward Classes (OBC) category.

The Solicitor General, who represented the government of Karnataka, claimed at the hearing that the third Backward Class Commission headed by Justice O. Chinnappa Reddy had considered Muslims as only educationally backward, not socially backward. He offered this statement as the basis on which the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government in Karnataka moved Muslims from the OBC category to the Economically Weaker Sections (EWS) of society category.

At the same hearing, MukulRohatgi, a former Advocate General of the Narendra Modi government at the Centre, also attempted to mislead the Supreme Court bench. Rohtagi, who represented petitioners from Karnataka’s Vokkaliga and Lingayat communities, stated that the reservation given to Muslims in Karnataka was based on religion, which is unconstitutional.

Fortunately, Justice. B.V. Nagarathna, one of the two judges hearing the case, intervened immediately and corrected the government counsel, stating that the Justice Chinnappa Reddy Commission had considered Muslims both educationally and socially backward.

Senior counsel Kapil Sibal, who appeared for the Muslim petitioners, also objected to the Solicitor General’s false contention, while lead judge Justice K.M. Joseph questioned the hurry and impropriety of the Karnataka government in implementing the policy. The court will next hear the matter on April 18.

The entire new reservation formula declared by the Basavaraj Bommai-led Karnataka government just before the assembly election slated for May 10 is seriously flawed. But the decision to scrap the 4% reservation for Muslims under the 2-b quota of the OBC category and distribute it among the categories comprising Vokkaligas and the Lingayats is not only the worst of all, but also communal in nature.

For one thing, the decision suffers from procedural impropriety, since the state’s Permanent Backward Class Commission had made no such recommendation based on any empirical study.

The decision also suffers from illegality and irrationality since it moved, without the support of the law, a group enjoying OBC reservation to the EWS category, which is reserved exclusively for those who are economically weaker and do not suffer social backwardness.

While the Supreme Court looks deeply into these factors, a clear understanding of what the comprehensive report of the Third Backward Class Commission, headed by Retired Justice Chinnappa Reddy, really said about the backwardness of the Muslims would cast better light on the plight of the community and the ploys of the government.

After a thorough scientific study based on empirical data, the commission had declared Muslims as “socially and educationally backward”. It had also declared that the economic plight of the Muslims is close to that of the scheduled castes and in many educational parameters, Muslims fare worse than the scheduled castes. This statement was made in 1990, some 16 years before the Sachar Committee report of 2006, which made the same observation.

This is contrary to the statements made on April 13 by the Solicitor General of India and a former Advocate General of India. The Solicitor General and the Advocate General occupy two of the highest legal offices in the country. Their jobs are to help the Supreme Court deliver justice, not mislead it. That they attempted to mislead  the Supreme Court bench hearing the matter suggests that the highest legal offices of the country are more interested in politics than in justice.

Working of the commission

Before getting into the salient findings and recommendations of the Justice Chinnappa Reddy Commission report of 1990,  a little background on both the chair and the commission is necessary.

Justice Chinnappa Reddy, a constitutionalist  judge of  impeccable honesty and high intellectual calibre, had a very rare commitment to social justice.

In 1985, in the K.C. Vasanth Kumar and Another vs State of Karnataka case, Justice Reddy was part of the bench which stipulated the parameters to identify the Other Backward Classes in the country based on their social and educational backwardness. 

The Karnataka government appointed Justice Chinnappa Reddy as the chairman of the Third Backward Class Commission in 1988. It asked the commission to review the reports of previous Backward Class Commissions, evolve parameters and identify classes in Karnataka eligible for OBC reservations and recommend other policy measures required for the OBCs in Karnataka. 

Justice Chinnappa Reddy considered “economic and cultural impoverishment and social deprivations” as the causes of perpetual backwardness, stating that these factors perpetuate disadvantages based on class, status and power. While poverty was considered an indicator of economic impoverishment and educational attainments an indicator of cultural impoverishment, the commission also considered social deprivation as stemming from a structure based on hierarchical caste and community status.

To evolve quantifiable indicators to reflect on all these factors, the commission considered:

 1) Caste- and community-based poverty level in comparison with the corresponding state averages;

2) Caste and community averages of students appearing in the SSLC (state board examination at the 10th standard, the first and biggest elimination stage on the education ladder) in comparison with the state average;

3) The representation of the castes and communities in the higher education in comparison with the state average; and

4) The representation of the castes and the communities in the state services, including government departments, state undertakings and universities.

The commission sought empirical data for these questions from all the state departments and affiliates. It also visited more than 500 villages across Karnataka and got first-hand information about the plight and demands of the people.

The commission then adopted the estimation of the caste/community population that had been made by the Second Backward Class Commission headed by T. Venkataswamy in 1983, based on the 1931 census and by visiting lakhs of homes. Accordingly, the Chinnappa Reddy Commission estimated the population of Karnataka in 1988 as 4.4 crores, of which Brahmins were estimated to comprise 3.45%, Lingayats 15.33%, Vokkaligas 10.8%, scheduled castes 16.71% and Muslims 11.67%.

Educational backwardness

To quantify educational backwardness, the commission considered a caste-wise distribution of candidates who had appeared at the 1988 SSLC examinations and a caste-wise distribution of those who passed the same examinations. While the state population in 1988 was 4.4 crores, around 3.4 lakh students appeared in the SSLC examination. Thus, 0.77% of the state population took the SSLC examinations in 1988, of whom 0.33% passed the examinations.

The commission then took the figure of 0.77% as the state average in SSLC appearance and compared it with a caste-wise average of appearance. If the percentage of any caste appearing for the examinations was above 0.77%, the caste was considered educationally forward. If it was below 0.77%, the caste or community was considered educationally backward to the extent of its percentage.

This empirical data showed that while only 0.77% of the state population could take the SSLC, 1.41% of the Brahmin population, which was around 15 lakhs, was able to take the SSLC examinations, which was twice the state average. The Vokkaliga community at 1.10%, and the Lingayat community at 0.94%, had also appeared for the SSLC, obviously above the state average.

On the other hand only 0.59% of the population of scheduled castes could take the SSLC exams in 1988 – 23% less than the state average of 0.77%.

But the case of the Muslim population was worse. In 1988, only 0.48% of the Muslim population of 51.47 lakhs took the SSLC exams – 37% less than the state average of 0.77% and 14% less than the scheduled castes average.

Higher education backwardness

The commission also sought caste- and community-wise data of enrolment into medical, engineering, agricultural and other such professional courses and also of the admissions to postgraduate colleges to prepare consolidated comparative caste- and community-wise data for admission to higher education.

The empirical date suggested that out of around 10,000 admissions into the different streams of higher education described above, in 1988, students belonging to the Brahmin community had captured 2,215 seats – 21.46% of the seats. This meant that a caste with a 3.45% population in the state had garnered 21.46% of the seats in higher education.

The scheduled castes, with a population of 16.71% in the state, had only 14.44% of the higher education seats in spite of statutory reservations.

But Muslims, with 11.67% of the population of the state, had only 5.71% of the higher education seats, even with the then existing reservations for the community under the OBC category. In other words, Muslims had accounted for less than half their share in the state population, while Brahmins accounted for seven times more than their population share. But now, according to the Karnataka government’s decision to scrap the 4% reservation for Muslims in the OBC category, Muslims will share the EWS category with Brahmins.

These empirical studies conducted by the Chinnappa Reddy Commission conclusively proved the necessity of exclusive educational reservation for Muslims under Article 15 (4) of the Indian constitution.

Representation in government services

Next, the Chinnappa Reddy commission dived deep into caste- and community-wise representation in government services to estimate the reservations required for different communities under Article 16 (4) of the Constitution of India.

The commission sent detailed questionnaires to different departments and sought the required information for Groups A and B services, junior engineers and assistant engineers, Group C, and recruitments to Groups A, B, C, and D in all government departments, universities, affiliates of the Government and so on.

After analysing this empirical data, the commission found that Brahmins, who constituted 3.5% of the state’s population,  had shares of 18.12% in Group A, and 26.43% in the recruitment  of the posts in Groups A and B in public sector undertakings.

Meanwhile, Muslims, who comprised 11.67% of the population, secured only 7% of the recruitment to government services, despite reservations.

What will happen to Muslims now, if the community’s OBC reservation is removed and they are asked to compete with Brahmins?

Social backwardness of Muslims

In its summary about the situation of Muslims, the commission quoted the findings of a study by Professor G. Thimmaiah of the Institute of Social and Economic Change. The report stated: “According to a study conducted by G. Thimmaiah of the Institute Of Social and Economic Change, which covered the period of 1974-75, 56.5% of the Muslim population in the state was below the poverty line compared with 31.4% among the Christians and 45.2% among the Hindus. Only the scheduled castes (58.4%) and the scheduled tribes (66.3%) had a high population living below the poverty line.”

The commission also observed, “By this study, it has been concluded that the Muslims are very close to the Scheduled Castes as far as economic conditions are concerned.”

One and a half decades later, the Sachar Commission report of 2006 came to a similar conclusion.

The Chinnappa Reddy Commission also made this observation about Muslims in page 142 of volume 1 of its report: “Two striking things about the Muslim community in Karnataka are the extreme economic and cultural poverty of the vast majority of the community and the wide gap that separates the rich and the poor members of the community.” (Emphasis mine.)

Based on scientific studies and empirical date, the Third Backward Class Commission headed by Justice Chinnappa Reddy concluded that:

“The picture presented by the Muslim Community as a whole is that of a socially and educationally backward class.” (Emphasis mine.)

The Chinnappa Reddy commission thus recommended that Muslims should be grouped in category 2 of the OBC category. Based on this recommendation, the VeerappaMoily government, on September 17, 1994, categorised Muslims under 2-b of the OBC category and provided them with 4% reservation.

Thus, even a cursory glance at Third Backward Class Commission of Karnataka’s report shows that all the  BJP government’s arguments in favour of removing reservations for the Muslims from the OBC category are unconstitutional and ill-intentioned.

Source: thewire.in

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https://thewire.in/rights/justice-chinnappa-reddy-commission-muslim-karnataka-obc-quota

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Europe

 

“People Are A Lot More Giving In Ramadan”: Communities Come Together Across Sheffield

by Adilah Hameed

18 APRIL 2023

It’s the month of Ramadan, the holiest and most important month in the Islamic calendar. Muslims from all over the world embark on 30 days of fasting from sunrise to sunset – and yes, that includes not being able to drink water.

For many Muslims, Ramadan is not only a time for spiritual healing. Rather it is a time for family, friends and being connected with your local community.

From Crookes to Spital Hill, there have been events in Ramadan this year to not only bring people closer to their religion but also closer to their local communities in Sheffield.

For some, the mosque is where they find community. Ibrahim Hassan, a student from Sheffield Hallam University, said: “Every year, I enjoy going to different mosques in Ramadan to pray Taraweeh. People are more welcoming and friendly, so I’ve managed to make some friends just by attending a mosque in a different area.”

Taraweeh, meaning ‘rest’ or ‘relaxation’, is a voluntary night prayer performed only in Ramadan. Although not obligatory like the five daily prayers, Taraweeh is a highly rewarded prayer. Most people tend to pray Taraweeh at their local mosque, but some also pray Taraweeh in their homes.

Before Taraweeh, all Muslims break their fast by having an iftaar, the meal eaten at sunset. As Muslims abstain from food and drink during daylight hours, many tend to cook for their families or loved ones by hosting an iftaar event at their house. Others like to host events for their local community.

Youth organisation Darnall Education and Sports Academy (DESA), alongside Oasis Don Valley School, hosted an open community iftaar event at the beginning of Ramadan which was attended by 340 people. The event, mainly for students in the local area, had a range of sporting activities, arts and crafts and PS5 Fifa tournament. Everyone ate together at iftaar time and a year 9 student led the congregational prayer.

Kamran, director of DESA, told me: “We planned this event in the hope that some students would be able to come together and do some fun activities before opening their fast. We never thought that this event would gain this much traction!

Advert: Open Up 2023

“It was amazing to see adults and children from all walks of life attend the event and learn more about Ramadan. It was a special event with amazing food and amazing company. I’m excited to coordinate future events that have the ability to bring people from all parts of the Sheffield community together.”

Charities have been involved this year too. BQL Foundation, a charity founded by locals in Sheffield, hosted its first iftaar event on Saturday 15 April. The ticketed ladies' iftaar event had henna stalls, a bake sale and other activities. The money raised will go to feeding, clothing and providing shelter to orphans in the Gambia.

Ahmed Audhali, co-founder of BQL Foundation, commented: “What we have noticed is that people are a lot more giving in Ramadan compared to any other month in the year. We have ran our ‘Cakes 4 Orphans’ campaign for three years now and saw immense success. This year, we have decided to host our first big iftaar charity event.”

This sense of community and increased generosity is of course not singular to Sheffield. Across the UK, organisations are hosting community iftaar events to increase awareness of the month of Ramadan, bring people together and raise money for charitable causes.

Source: nowthenmagazine.com

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https://nowthenmagazine.com/articles/people-are-a-lot-more-giving-in-ramadan-communities-come-together-across-sheffield

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New rulings and guidelines proposed for burials at Blackburn cemetery

By Shuiab Khan

Reporter and columnist

Families who bury their loved one in the new Muslim burial section at a Blackburn cemetery may be expected to sign up to a new set of rulings and conditions.

A document has been shared during Ramadan which details some of the changes which were being proposed.

It includes a number of updates to the existing terms and conditions, with consultation being taken with local Muslim burial groups and representatives.

The consultation is due to run until Friday, April 21, and relates to the new section of the Pleasington cemetery in Blackburn.

The new Muslim section of the cemetery, includes a prayer facility, with Muslim funeral prayers themselves tending to last less than 20 minutes, and many people leaving the cemetery once prayers have concluded.

An updated registration form, which must be completed and signed by the bereaved family, includes details many people will already be aware of.

It also asks people to fill in the number of people likely to attend the funeral with options of up to 25, 20 to 49, and over 50'.

People are reminded vehicles must be parked within designated parking areas and funerals ‘may be delayed’ if vehicles causes an obstruction within the cemetery.

It adds: "Marshalls and cemetery operatives will guide you to park safely within the cemetery if you are struggling."

People will not be permitted to make the grave area ‘larger’ and all ‘memorialisation must be permitted by BRAMM (British Register of Accredited Memorial Masons) / NAMM (National Association of Memorial Masons) regulations only with written permission from the council’.

Owners must also ensure their grave is ‘kept as a lawned cemetery and nothing should be placed on to the grave, mound or mid-feather at any time. This includes concrete, flowers, plants, ornaments, fencing, trees, bricks etc. If any items are placed they will be removed immediately.’

All mounds must be ‘no more than six inches tall. Any mounds found to be greater be reduced immediately.’

Blackburn with Darwen Council said the consultation seeks to update existing terms and conditions.

Director of Environment and Operations, Martin Eden, said: “The interment form which we’ve shared with Blackburn Muslim Burial Society members forms part of a consultation on updates to the existing terms and conditions of burials, following a move to using the burial grounds in the new cemetery extension within Pleasington cemetery.

“This consultation is due to close on Friday 21 and all responses will be considered before finalising the terms.”

Source: lancashiretelegraph.co.uk

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https://www.lancashiretelegraph.co.uk/news/23459753.new-rulings-guidelines-proposed-burials-blackburn-cemetery/

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I fasted for Ramadan as a non-Muslim and it was exhausting - but here's why I'd do it again

ByNathan Clarke

18 APR 2023

Every Ramadan, nearly a quarter of the world's population go without food or water during daylight hours. I've always been fascinated - and incredibly impressed - by the self-discipline of Muslims who fast during the holy month, especially those who work in demanding jobs.

I'm not a Muslim, but this Ramadan I wanted to complete a few days of fasting to see if I was up to the challenge - and develop a better understanding of what my Muslim friends, colleagues and neighbours go through during Ramadan.

I won't lie and say I loved every part of the experience - and I know that there's a big difference between fasting for three days compared to a whole month - but over the course of my fasting journey I learnt many important things not just about myself but the world around me. This is what happened when I fasted for the first time - and why I'd do it again.

Every morning during Ramadan, Muslims wake up for suhoor - the meal eaten early in the morning before dawn. On the first morning I woke up at 4am to make myself some breakfast.

In order to keep myself energised for the rest of the day, my plan was to eat and drink as much as physically possible before the sun rose. In my mind this sounded like the smartest thing to do. What I didn't account for was how hard it would be to get back to sleep after eating and drinking that much.

After four very uncomfortable hours of sleep, I began my day - very fatigued. The first morning and early afternoon were manageable, but things took a turn for the worst from about 5pm when I began to suffer from a splitting headache (probably due to a lack of water).

My solution was to have a quick nap after work in a bid to boost my energy levels - it was a short term fix but it did the trick. That evening I went along to an iftar held at Edgbaston Stadium for players taking part in their Ramadan Cricket League.

I broke my fast with a date - a tradition set by the Prophet Mohammad - after 16 hours with no food or drink. I then tucked into a feast of burgers, kebabs, chips and samosas - as expected, my eyes were too big for my stomach, but it was amazing to feel my energy levels returning to normal in what felt like a matter of seconds.

The next morning I woke up, still pretty full from the day before. I again made a big breakfast but struggled to eat much of it.

After another uncomfortable sleep I woke up feeling horrendous. Day two was the hardest of them all. All day I felt tired, disorientated and very unproductive. I managed to keep it together while working but collapsed completely by 5pm where I slept for another two hours.

That evening I was lucky enough to enjoy an amazing iftar meal at the home of Ahmed Didar whose family put on a feast of traditional food from their native Afghanistan. On day three I knew I had to change up my routine if I was going to make it through.

Instead of waking up to have a big breakfast, I instead chose to keep it light with a few pieces of fruit and a big bottle of water. This set me up well for the day as I was able to get back to sleep almost instantly and woke up feeling refreshed for once.

On day three I made a conscious effort to take time to reflect on my fasting journey and what I had learned along the way. From a health perspective I felt lighter, cleansed and healthier - although the health benefits were somewhat reduced by me scoffing down everything I possibly could come 8pm.

But more importantly, it made me more mindful of food and how precious it is. Every week in this job we hear and write stories about people skipping meals during the cost of living crisis.

There are countless people in our city who don't know when their next meal is coming - and while I'm lucky enough to be able to put food on the table every week, it's been enlightening to know what life is like for those who aren't that lucky. Ramadan is about learning to be more conscious of the world around you - and that's what I took away most from this experience - and why I'd do it again.

Source: birminghammail.co.uk

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https://www.birminghammail.co.uk/news/midlands-news/fasted-ramadan-non-muslim-exhausting-26716701

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Arab World

 

‘Earth Talk Series’ Talk Highlights Islam And Environmental Responsibility As Tenets Of Islam

18 Apr 2023

Ayeni Olusegun | The Peninsula

Doha: Experts have urged Muslims to be environmentally conscious and preserve God’s creation as instructed in the Holy Book.

During a talk titled ‘Earth Talk Series: Islam and the Environment,’ hosted by the Arab Youth Climate Movement Qatar (AYCMQ) in partnership with Msheireb Museums, participants linked the tenets of Islam, which puts the responsibility of the planet in the hands of people.

The event was attended by the US Ambassador to Qatar, H E Timmy T Davis, Ambassador of Italy to Qatar, H E Paolo Toschi, Assistant Undersecretary of Ministry of Environment and Climate Change (MoECC), H E Ahmed Mohamed Al Sada, top officials and participants. The Earth Talk series was hosted by AYCMQ’s Neeshad Shafi and Hessa Al Noaimi.

As climate change and environmental degradation remain a challenge globally, many Muslim-majority countries bear the brunt, but their cultural awareness of it and climate actions are often limited. In the Middle East, statistics say the region is heating up faster than other parts of the world, with the severity of climate-related disasters rising more quickly in the Middle East and Central Asia.

Keynote speaker and Senior Consultant at IFEES/EcoIslam, Mark Bryant, stressed how Islam teaches its followers to take care of the earth as guardians or ‘Khalifah’ of the planet and that they will be held accountable by God for their actions.

Bryant discussed the concept of environmental responsibility using four principles, the Tawhid (Unity Principle); Fitra (Creation Principle); Al Mizan (Balance Principle); and Khalifah (Responsibility Principle).

“As the environmental crisis deepens, Muslims increasingly look to Islamic sources for possible answers. So, of course, for Muslims, the ultimate source of guidance on all ethical questions, including their environmental responsibilities, is the holy Quran,” Bryant said.

“Within its covers can be found the basis for an understanding of ecological issues, the role of science, the correct way to interact with the environment, and the responsible use of those resources,” he added.

Bryant also noted the increasing involvement of Muslim aid agencies such as Islamic Hope and Islamic Relief in recent years. According to him, the current climate change emergency has influenced much of the work done by aid agencies.

Also speaking at the event, US Ambassador stressed that interfaith partnership significantly promotes climate awareness and highlighted how the embassy in Qatar drives the US climate change action strategy.

On the other hand, the MoECC representative Al Sada said environmental protection is one of the primary aims for sustainable development. With its moral compass, Islam is considered one of the main drivers towards sustainability in communities.

He added that environmental sustainability is not only a physical issue but also an ethical one — visible through the Islamic teachings that encourage sustainable thinking and practice in many environmental aspects, such as bridging natural resources and highlighting the importance of moderation and consumption.

Msheireb Museums Manager Abdulla Al Naama noted the importance of highlighting the intersection of Islam and the environment. He said Msheireb Museums is committed to raising awareness of such topics and promoting sustainability.

Source: thepeninsulaqatar.com

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https://thepeninsulaqatar.com/article/18/04/2023/aycmq-talk-highlights-islam-and-environmental-responsibility

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Over two million worshipers attend special prayers, seeking Laylatul Qadr at Holy Mosques

April 18, 2023

MAKKAH — Over two million worshipers thronged the Grand Mosque in Makkah and the Prophet’s Mosque in Madinah to offer Isha and special night prayers of Taraweeh and Qiyamullail on the 27

th night of Ramadan on Monday, which is widely believed to be Laylatul Qadr, the Night of Power.

The General Presidency for the Affairs of the Two Holy Mosques announced the success of its plan to enable the faithful to perform their rituals in ease and comfort and that is through the field follow-up by Sheikh Abdul Rahman Al-Sudais, head of the presidency. Nearly one and a half millions of Umrah pilgrims and worshippers attended the special night prayers of Taraweeh and Qiyamullail that ended with the special supplication, led by Sheikh Sudais at the Grand Mosque.

There was an unprecedented flow of the faithful to the Holy Mosques on the 27th night of Ramadan. The Holy Qur’an was revealed to the Prophet (peace be up on him) in the Night of Power which is better than a thousand months. The Saudi authorities have made elaborate security arrangements for the smooth flow of worshipers and enable them to spend the blessed night in a highly spiritual and serene atmosphere.

In an unparalleled spiritual ambience that the fasting month has offered, the faithful performed Umrah and engaged in supplications, seeking Laylatul Qadr and the infinite blessings and forgiveness from Almighty Allah. All the floors of the Grand Mosque and its courtyards were full of worshipers, and the rows of worshipers spilled over to the streets of the Central Haram Area.

The presidency has beefed up the field teams with the aim of organizing the smooth and orderly entry of pilgrims and worshipers to the Grand Mosque in coordination with all the concerned agencies and security forces.

The Umrah pilgrims and worshipers entered smoothly through 118 gates, including three gates for the entry of Umrah performers, 68 gates for worshipers, 50 gates for emergencies, and 40 internal gates, with the support of all human and technical teams.

The worshippers prayed in a spiritual ambiance, supported by an integrated system of services that had been in operation since early morning to ensure their safety, security, and comfort.

The presidency has mobilized human and mechanical resources to serve the visitors of the Grand Mosque. This included deploying 4,000 workers throughout the Grand Mosque and its courtyards, washing the Grand Mosque ten times throughout the day, using over 80,000 liters of disinfectants, 1,600 fresheners for scenting, and sterilizing the Grand Mosque’s corridors and courtyards around the clock with around 15,000 liters of sterilizers, undertaken by more than 70 field teams.

The presidency provided more than 5,000 regular vehicles for transportation, 3,000 electric vehicles, 200 electric stairs, and 14 escalators to serve the elderly and people with special needs.

Source: saudigazette.com.sa

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https://saudigazette.com.sa/article/631709/SAUDI-ARABIA/Over-two-million-worshipers-attend-special-prayers-seeking-Laylatul-Qadr-at-Holy-Mosques

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Prince Mohammed bin Salman Project for Development of Historical Mosques to Renovate Al-Ruasaa Mosque in Al-Majmaah

Prince Mohammed bin Salman Project for Development of Historical Mosques continues its role in rehabilitating historical mosques, restoring their religious, cultural, and social role, and preserving their Islamic heritage. The project in its second phase includes the Al-Ruasaa Mosque in Al-Majmaah Governorate, as part of its renovation process, after nearly 70 years of its construction.

Prince Mohammed bin Salman Project will develop the Al-Ruasaa Mosque, which was built between 1365_1370 AH, in the Najdi style. After reconstruction, the mosque will have an area of 663 square meters and a capacity of 210 worshippers. The renovation process will utilize clay construction techniques and natural materials.

Al-Ruasaa Mosque is part of the Prince Mohammed bin Salman Project for the Development of Historical Mosques in its second phase, which includes 30 mosques across the Kingdom.

Source: alriyadhdaily.com

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http://alriyadhdaily.com/article/731a5ac3ad0c410988c8bc2593142287

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South Asia

 

Taliban Releases 41 Prisoners, Including 7 Women in Afghanistan’s Ghor Province

By

Fidel Rahmati

April 17, 2023

The press office of the provincial governor of Ghor said in a newsletter on Sunday that the prisoners were released according to the order of the Supreme leader of the Taliban, Mullah Haibatullah Akhundzada.

The statement added that seven women are subject to this exemption among the prisoners.

According to the statement, the released prisoners committed crimes such as moral corruption, theft, bribery and drug trafficking.

Under the condition of anonymity, a professor of sociology stated that the release of the detainees and the exemption are positive developments. The de facto government, on the other hand, “unfortunately criminalized numerous cases and termed its moral corruption, and now they consider it the same as drug trafficking, and this is worrying, he said.

In addition, he said that while certain human rights and civil society activists, protesting women, university professors, and writers are detained, others who smuggle narcotics and commit other crimes are often freed.

Source: khaama.com

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https://www.khaama.com/taliban-releases-41-prisoners-including-7-women-in-afghanistans-ghor-province/

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Iran Reiterates Claim on Shared Water Resources With Afghanistan

By

Fidel Rahmati

April 17, 2023

On Monday, Iran Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian tweeted that he discussed the disputed water resources with his Afghan counterpart Amir Khan Muttaqi while they were both in Uzbekistan.

“In my recent talks with Mr Muttaqi, acting Foreign Minister of the de facto government of Afghanistan in Samarkand city, we emphasized the issue of Iran’s claim on the Helmand River in detail.”

He continued by saying the Afghan side “also emphasized its commitment to Iran’s water rights,” and both sides “agreed to take immediate action” in this regard, he said in a tweet.

Both sides met on the sidelines of the fourth meeting of the neighbouring countries of Afghanistan in the Samarkand city of Uzbekistan on the 13th of April.

Since the Taliban seized power in Afghanistan in August 2021, Iran is said to have undertaken many rounds of negotiations with Taliban leaders, most recently in January 2022 with Muttaqi.

However, Taliban representatives have been in contact with Iran over the issue of sharing Water. They will probably use Water to persuade Tehran to accede to some of their demands. Of course, the top item on their list is that Iran grants the Taliban administration diplomatic recognition. Iran has decided against endorsing the Taliban government until it becomes inclusive.

According to Dr Glen Hearns, who worked as the previous government’s transboundary water advisor between 2012 and 2014, Iran and Afghanistan signed a water-sharing agreement on the Helmand River in 1973, under which Afghanistan would provide Iran with 22 cubic meters of water per second with the option to purchase an additional four cubic meters per second for “goodwill and brotherly relations.”

In other words, based on the agreement of 1973, Afghanistan committed to delivering an average of 820 million cubic meters of water to Iran annually.

Iran has repeatedly criticized Afghanistan for not complying with the terms of the agreement.

However, four decades of political turmoil in the country prevented the treaty’s implementation. Meanwhile, Afghanistan’s turmoil allowed all its rivers to flow to the neighbouring countries, including Helmand River.

Currently, according to the data from the previous government, the Ministry of Water and Energy, Afghanistan only uses 20 per cent of water resources, and the rest of the surface water goes to the neighbouring countries, including Iran and Pakistan.

Source: khaama.com

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https://www.khaama.com/iran-reiterates-claim-on-shared-water-resources-with-afghanistan/

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Kazakhstan to Open its Trading House in Afghanistan

By

Fidel Rahmati

April 17, 2023

Kazakhstan will establish a trade office in Afghanistan to improve trade ties between the two countries, according to the statement released by the office of Kazakhstan’s prime Minister on Sunday.

A Kazakhstan delegation led by the vice prime minister and Minister of Commerce and Integration paid Kabul a visit on Saturday. He met with de facto senior officials during his visit, including Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar.

The decision was made following the meeting; it was mentioned that the head office of Kazakhstan’s trade house would be located in the Herat province of Afghanistan.

The primary responsibilities of the trade representation will be to encourage the expansion of trade and economic cooperation between Kazakhstan and Afghanistan, the expansion of economic telecommunication, transportation, and logistics cooperation between the two countries’ regions, the use of Afghanistan’s potential for cross-border trade as a transit country and attraction of investment.

Meanwhile, the trade representative would set up business-to-business meetings between the business communities of Afghanistan and Kazakhstan. 

In addition, both parties aim to increase commerce between Afghanistan and Kazakhstan from $900 million to $3 billion annually.

Source: khaama.com

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https://www.khaama.com/kazakhstan-to-open-its-trading-house-in-afghanistan/

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Message of Supreme Leader of the Islamic Emirate on the Arrival of the Auspicious Eid-ul Fiter

2023-04-18

1- To the Mujahid Nation of Afghanistan and to the Muslims Around the World!

I wish you all a very happy Eid, may the Almighty Allah accept your fasting, prayers and services.

Dear brothers! We should thank the Almighty Allah that after so many hardships, we benefit from peace and Islamic Sharia System, and by fulfilling the great duty of the holy month of Ramadan, we celebrate Eid in a peaceful atmosphere throughout the country. Alhamdulillah

All rich brothers should help their poor and destitute countrymen, orphans, widows and the families of the martyrs in every possible way, give your charity to the deserving people on these precious nights, so that they can fulfil their needs and enjoy Eid.

2- Officials and Mujahideen of the Islamic Emirate are obliged to make more efforts and sincerity in serving the people, because serving the people is worship and should be done properly and their legitimate rights and happiness should be taken into account.

The Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan considers itself responsible for the welfare of its people and ensures their rights under the Sharia law, it does this for the pleasure of the Almighty Allah and fulfilling its Sharia obligations, in order that everyone should be sure that their Sharia rights will be given, following this great purpose, the courts have been established both in the centre and provinces to help the oppressed, prevent oppression and to ensure justice, therefore, citizens should cooperate with the courts in ensuring justice and avoid recommendations, fake and fraudulent claims.

3- Since the main goal of our Jihad and struggle was the implementation of Islamic law, welfare of the people and the religious and moral reform of the society, with the grace of Allah, significant measures have been taken in this regard. The Vice and Virtue as our highest duty is under implementation, everyone should fully cooperate with the concerned ministry helping its employees in commanding good and preventing inappropriate acts.

Significant reform measures have been taken in culture, education, economy, media and other fields, and the bad intellectual and moral effects of the 20-year occupation are about to finish. Countrymen should consider these reform measures important, because living in the light of Sharia principles will lead to the well-being of our world and the hereafter, as well as the eternal happiness, success and salvation of our society.

The religious scholars and clerics should also pay attention to their responsibility in this regard and the Ministries of Vice and Virtue, Education, Higher Education and Information and Culture should work closely in informing people of religion and reforming their acts throughout the country, every nation and country can taste honour and real peace and prosperity when it does not disobey Allah, therefore, the task of reforming the people and informing them about religion has been given to the clerics and religious scholars, they should fulfil their obligations in this regard, try to reform and enlighten the people through mosques, gatherings, media and programs and become a means of good guidance for them, also, they should create an atmosphere of harmony and trust among themselves, avoid differences and pay attention to the great interest of religion and the people.

4- Our country has just come out of wars and sufferings, it is in dire need of construction and rehabilitation, now, we all have a shared responsibility to build our country, the development of Afghanistan is the responsibility of Afghans, we should not rely on others; rather, with courage and enthusiasm we should build this country and provide all possible conveniences to the people.

In this regard, the country’s national traders and investors have more responsibility than others, the Islamic Emirate fully cooperates with them, provides them with facilities and standard services. Insha Allah

5- Security is the greatest blessings of the Almighty Allah. Let us stand by our system for ensuring the stability and security, so that our country and people will no longer face obstacles and suffer from insecurity, off course, some hostile groups will make their evil efforts to show the relevant security organizations weak and our country unsafe, but we are sure that with the help of Allah and the support of the nation, peace will be ensured and people will have a comfortable life. Insha Allah

6- Afghanistan wants positive relations with its neighbours, Islamic countries and the world, based on mutual benefits and within the framework of Islamic principles, since Afghanistan does not want to interfere in the internal affairs of other countries, it also insists that other countries should not interfere in our internal issues, doing so is beneficial both for the world and Afghanistan.

7- Preventing the cultivation of poppy in the country and the implementation of the decree of the Islamic Emirate remains a great achievement, this great work shows the firm determination of the Islamic Emirate and the strong support of the people, and this makes it clear that Afghanistan will be cleaned of poppy cultivation and drugs soon.

Collecting drug addicts in Kabul and provinces and handing them safely to their families after treatment is another Sharia obligation that the Islamic Emirate has fulfilled, and the grief and pain of a large part of our people and families has been addressed, which was not done in the last 20-year.

8- Rounding up beggars in the centre and provinces, helping them and solving their problems was another important measure of kindness and compassion of the Islamic Emirate, which was done well and the process will complete soon, with this step, the professional and the really needy beggars were separated and the needy citizens were helped, and they were given a certain amount of aid from the national budget, professional beggars were counselled and disciplined, this is a great work in the history of Afghanistan which shows the unique sympathy of the Islamic Emirate with its people.

9- The relevant organizations of the Islamic Emirate are making all their efforts for economic development. So far, with the grace of Allah, they have been able to manage the country’s economy well despite the problems and international obstacles.

Making the last year’s budget from national income and then spending it well is a great reward from the Almighty Allah, this year, with the help of Allah we will take concrete steps in spending the national budget properly.

10- Extending education and training to the whole country and providing good training to all children is one of the responsibilities of the Islamic Emirate and effective plans for further development are also worked on.

11- For monitoring the work of the provincial offices, providing written and verbal advice on religious matters, observing the behaviour of the officials, sharing shortcomings with concerned people in a proper manner as well as building and maintaining relations between officials and the public, joint councils of scholars and clerics with specific TOR and framework were formed across the country, this was an important step that has been taken and we hope that many of the problems of the officials will be addressed this way, as a result, peace and trust will be further strengthened and the officials will be helped to carry out their responsibilities. Insha Allah

12- The courts and judiciary system of the Islamic Emirate, which has a special status among all the organizations, is a part of the Islamic System whose work is considered more important, because the main goal of the Islamic system is the protection of the head, wealth, intellect, status and all the rights given by Allah, therefore, all the judges and court’s officials are instructed to be more serious in obtaining people’s rights, resolving disputes and avoid favouritism, look at the crime instead of criminal, defend the oppressed, prevent the oppressor and solve people’s cases without delay and hindrance.

13- I instruct officials of the Ministry of Health to serve the nation day and night and extend every possible assistance, equip and activate health centres, address the problems, provide proper treatment to the people and take concrete steps toward improving health sector of the country.

14- In order to succeed, all security and defence forces of the Islamic Emirate must implement the followings:

1. Make your will and intention only for the sake of the Almighty Allah,

2. Everyone (youngers and elders) should adorn himself with piety,

3. With the grace of Allah and blessings of the holy Jihad, we have achieved a great victory, therefore, always remember the Almighty Allah,

4. Do justice, generosity and modesty and avoid arrogance, pride, oppression, betrayal and wasteful spending,

5. Strictly avoid all kinds of discrimination,

6. In Islamic Emirate, rewards should be based piety and trustworthiness,

7. Do not offer jobs to your relatives, the appointment should be based on merit,

8. Build trust and brotherhood among yourselves, avoid jealousy, complaints, backbiting and actions that create distrust,

9. All Mujahid brothers, be committed to vice and virtue, continue the chain of education and training in every possible location, be strict to your prayers and pray with the congregation,

10. Support the families of martyrs and appreciate those Mujahideen who fought and suffered during the 20-year of Jihad, they will not be left behind in the Islamic Emirate,

11. In order that the Islamic Army can be cleaned of disqualified and corrupt people, all Mujahideen should extend their assistance with the Clearance Commission which has been appointed by the Islamic Emirate!

12. Fully obey your seniors and strictly implement the orders of the Islamic Emirate,

13. If someone wants to advise the leader, he advises him secretly, because secret advice is useful, do not give open advice, because open advice has negative effect instead of positive,

14. Be accountable for your spending! The Messenger (PBUH) used to make accurate calculation with his finance officials, who were responsible for the treasury and deposits, likewise, Hazrat Omar Farooq did the same, therefore, being accountable is crucial and be responsive to your seniors and relevant departments,

15. Be serious against the enemies of the religion and the country, security destroyers, robbers and criminals, but be very gentle and kind in dealing with public, no one should be harmed by false information, no one’s status, honour, head and wealth should be unjustly harmed, this nation needs mercy and compassion, we should be at their service, their security is our religious and national responsibility, but let us be careful not to disrespect our people in the name of security and defence and let no one complain to Allah because of our actions.

In the end, I would like to remind you to pay attention to the families of the martyrs, orphans, widows and relatives on the auspicious days of Eid-ul Fiter and do not spare your sympathy and help to the poor and needy people.

Sheikh Al-Quran and Hadith MawlawiHibatullah Akhundzada, the Supreme Leader of the Islamic Emirate

Ramadan 27, 1444

18/4/2023 – 29/1/1402

Source: bakhtarnews.af

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Japan’s Ambassador to Kabul Meets Afghan Deputy PM

By

Fidel Rahmati

April 18, 2023

During the meeting, Deputy Minister Hanafi emphasized the need for understanding and dialogue to solve the existing problems in the country.

Meanwhile, he said that pressure and restrictions could not resolve Afghanistan’s problems and that the interim government is determined to forge positive leadership with all nations based on cooperation and respect.

Additionally, he emphasized that there is only one approach to handling the current issues burdening the country’s ordinary people: understanding and dialogue.

On the other hand, Japanese Foreign Minister Hayashi Yoshimasa led a G-7 session on “Afghanistan and Central Asia” on Monday and spoke about his concern for the country’s deteriorating human rights and humanitarian situation.

Simultaneously, he recommended direct engagement between the international world and the Taliban-led administration.

“Emphasized the need to engage persistently and directly with the Taliban while continuing to assist the people of Afghanistan in cooperation with the international community,” Japan’s FM said.

Recently, the Taliban de facto government extended the ban on UN female aid workers in the country, facing massive condemnation globally.

Meanwhile, the UN reiterated that the ban on women aid workers would disrupt the humanitarian pace in the country since most of the nutrition and life-saving aid depends on female workers.

Source: khaama.com

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https://www.khaama.com/japans-ambassador-to-kabul-meets-afghan-deputy-pm/

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Afghanistan at Highest Risk of Famine in 25 Years as Funding Runs Dry: OCHA Warns

By

Fidel Rahmati

April 17, 2023

On Sunday, the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Aid (OCHA) warned in a new report that Afghanistan is at the highest risk of famine in the last 25 years as funding runs dry.

The Organization said that Afghanistan faces a massive humanitarian catastrophe unless urgent assistance is obtained, with roughly 20 million suffering from severe hunger and 6 million just one step away from famine.

The Organization also said that due to severely reduced aid to Afghanistan, the number of individuals who could go hungry right now is among the highest in the world.

OCHA reiterated that at this crucial time, the world must not turn its back on the Afghanistan people to continue by saying that they have already suffered so much; it would be impermissible to subject them to additional suffering by denying them a crucial humanitarian lifeline.

OCHA noted that only $250 million of the $4.6 billion in aid sought by this Organization during the first quarter of 2023 was granted.

Only 5.4% of the total asked by the UN from the international community to support humanitarian needs in Afghanistan is represented by this amount of money.

Source: khaama.com

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Africa

 

Muslims also killed in northern Kaduna, their leaders remain silent – Shehu Sani

April 18, 2023

By Francis Ugwu

Shehu Sani, a former Nigerian lawmaker has claimed that terrorists are also killing people in the northern part of Kaduna State.

Sani said that they weren’t made public because their leaders would not want to upset or damage the image of the Government they feel is their own.

He disclosed this in a post via his verified Twitter handle on Tuesday.

Recall that Saturday night attack by terrorists on Runji village in Southern part of Kaduna had 33 persons reported dead.

DAILY POST reported that the attackers invaded the community in the night while the residents were asleep.

However, Sani said the world is only knowing of one side of the tragedy because some people had chosen to be silent.

He wrote, “Muslims are also killed in the Northern part of Kaduna by terrorists daily.

“But the leaders from the Northern part chose to remain silent in order not to upset or damage the image of the Government they feel is their own.

“That’s why the World is only knowing of one side of the tragedy.”

Source: dailypost.ng

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https://dailypost.ng/2023/04/18/muslims-also-killed-in-northern-kaduna-their-leaders-remain-silent-shehu-sani/

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Ramadan: Cleric urges youths to be productive, creative

April 18, 2023

Chimezie Godfrey

By Ahmed Kaigama

Sheikh SaiduJingir, Deputy National President Jama’atulIzalatulBid’ahWaIkamatus Sunnah, with headquarters in Jos, has urged youths to be creative and productive to become self-reliant.

Jingir made the call at the closing ceremony of the annual Ramadan lecture at KasuwanShanu Friday Mosque in Bauchi on Monday.

He urged the youth not to be idle, saying that idleness would only lead to poverty and negative tendencies.

“I am urging the youths to create ways to become self-employed and employ others. This would improve the economic development of the society,” he said.

Jingir also advised the youth not to allow themselves to be used as thugs to promote violence in the society.

“Continue to behave and shun all kinds of violence, political thuggery and all forms of social ills and see how bright your future will be,” Jingir added.

The cleric appreciated Gov. Bala Mohammed of Bauchi State for his concern and support for religious activities.

In a remark, Alhaji Ibrahim Kashim, Secretary to the State Government (SSG), lauded the cleric for his persistent advice to the youths to be responsible citizens.

He urged the cleric to continuously preach the gospel of self-reliance  to the youths, so as to enhance the development of the society.

Kashim pledged that the state government would work out modalities for the setting up of a committee on zakat, to support the poor in the society.

The SSG also reiterated the commitment of the government to the promotion of peaceful co-existence in the state. (NAN)

Source: newsdiaryonline.com

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https://newsdiaryonline.com/ramadan-cleric-urges-youths-to-be-productive-creative/

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Oyebanji hosts iftar for Muslim faithful, lauds religious harmony in Ekiti

April 18, 2023

By Emmanuel Ani

Ekiti State Governor, BiodunOyebanji has hailed religious leaders in the state for the harmony that exists among Muslim and Christian faithful in the state.

The Governor stated this at the Iftar ( breaking of fast) he hosted for Muslim leaders and faithful across the state at Jibowu Hall, Government House, Ado Ekiti on Monday night.

Governor Oyebanji at the event attended by Muslim leaders, scholars and political leaders, expressed appreciation to the Muslim community in the state for their support for his administration and called on them to continue to maintain decorum and live in peace with adherents of other religions in the state.

The Governor who maintained that the state enjoys relative peace and tranquillity which has become a reference point in the country, urged the Muslim leaders to use the opportunity of the holy month to offer fervent prayers to God to grant all their hearts’ desires as well as for peace and prosperity of the Ekiti State and Nigeria.

The Governor, who recalled how the Muslim community rallied unprecedented support for him during the 2022 election, said he remained grateful to them for their continued support for his administration.

He noted further that he has not been disappointed by the performance of the Muslims serving in his government, making particular mention of the Secretary to the State Government, Dr HabibatAdubiaro and the Deputy Speaker of the State House of Assembly, Hakeem Jamiu whom he described as assets to the state.

“I will continue to consult with the leadership of the Muslim community in Ekiti State as time goes by and my commitment to the Muslim community is rock solid, it will not waiver. I am also thanking you for allowing religious harmony to exist between Muslims and other religions. Ekiti State is one of the states in the country where we don’t have a problem with religion because we all are serving one God and we are shining examples to other states. I’m extremely grateful for this religious harmony and I want us to keep it up.

“I know that in government positions, Muslims were not always adequately taken care of, but I will try my best to make an amend in that wise. I have the assurance that Muslims are people of impeccable character, I don’t have any doubt about that. And since we started this administration, the Secretary to the State Government that you gave me has proved to be an asset to the administration.

In their goodwill messages at the event, Deputy Speaker, House of Assembly, Hakeem Jamiu; Secretary to the State Government, Dr HabibatAdubiaro, President General, League of Imam and Alfas for Southwest, Edo and Delta, Sheik JamiuKewulere and the President, Supreme Council of Islamic Affairs, Dr AfolabiBakare extolled the virtues of Governor Oyebanji and commended his developmental strides in the state.

The Muslim faithful expressed their unreserved appreciation to the Governor for giving Muslims in the state a sense of belonging under his administration and assured him of their unalloyed support at all times.

Also in his lecture titled ‘the trait of Leadership’, a Lecturer at the Ekiti State University, Prof. Musa Abdulraheem thanked the Governor for holding the Iftar with them and for according recognition to Muslims by appointing them to key positions in his administration.

The event, which was also attended by a former Deputy Governor in the state, Dr SikiruLawal, and Muslim clerics and faithful across the 16 local government areas also featured prayers for Governor Oyebanji, his administration and the state at large.

Source: dailypost.ng

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https://dailypost.ng/2023/04/18/oyebanji-hosts-iftar-for-muslim-faithful-lauds-religious-harmony-in-ekiti/

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Cape Muslim community calls for compassionate release of SA hostage

18 April 2023

Members of Cape Town’s large Muslim community are supporting the campaign to release South African hostage Gerco van Deventer, who has been held in Mali for more than five years.

Van Deventer, a paramedic, was captured in Libya by a splinter group of Al-Qaeda before being “sold off” to captors in Mali.

Humanitarian aid organisation Gift of the Givers attempted to intervene in 2019, but ransom money was demanded and it is neither the policy of Gift of the Givers nor the South African government to acquiesce to demands for ransom.

Gift of the Givers did manage, however, to bring the amount down substantially.

From 2020, all negotiations stopped because of Covid-19, but earlier this month Gift of the Givers negotiator Mohamed YehiaDicko flew to in Mali.

“We have proceeded with a campaign focusing on the month of Ramadan as a month of mercy,” Gift of the Givers head Imtiaz Sooliman told TimesLIVE.

On Friday night, the deputy president of the Muslim Judicial Council Moulana Abdul Khaliq Allie “made a passionate call to Al-Qaeda to release Gerco unconditionally”.

He made his plea in Arabic and sent it “across on Friday night”.

On Saturday night, according to Sooliman, “a committee worker in Pelican Park arranged a placard display and made a video to be sent to Al-Qaeda pleading for Gerco’s release.”

The placard display formed part of the Iftar (fast-breaking) meal which was attended by more than 3,000 people and hosted by Gift of the Givers.

“The video was made and sent across to Yehia who was extremely grateful for the messages and support coming from South Africa.

“He has pushed those items to the intermediaries to forward to the captors. We remain hopeful during this month of mercy things will change and the captors will look at Gerco with a compassionate eye,” Sooliman said.

Van Deventer had been held alongside French journalist Olivier Dubois who was released in late March.

The two men spent 18 months together in captivity and Dubois has been calling for Van Deventer’s release since.

According to Reuters, Dubois arrived home to be “warmly embraced by family members and French President Emmanuel Macron”.

He had spent almost two years in captivity after disappearing in Mali’s northern city of Gao in April 2021.

He was taken to Niger with an American aid worker who was also freed after six years in captivity.

Van Deventer’s story is reminiscent of that of Stephen McGown, a Johannesburg resident who spent six years in captivity in the desert in Mali after being captured on his travels across the continent.

The negotiator who ultimately facilitated his release was also Dicko, and hope is now pinned on him to achieve the same for Van Deventer.

Support independent journalism by subscribing to the Sunday Times. Just R20 for the first month.

Source: timeslive.co.za

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https://www.timeslive.co.za/sunday-times-daily/news/2023-04-18-cape-muslim-community-calls-for-compassionate-release-of-sa-hostage/

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North Macedonia bans Albanian imam from entering country

The imam of a mosque in the Albanian capital of Tirana has been banned from entering North Macedonia, sparking strong reactions from the Albanian Muslim community.

Ahmed Kalaja is the head of one of the city’s prominent mosques but was refused entry to the neighbouring country, also home to a significant Albanian population while trying to travel to the village of Bojane.

He told the media that every document was in order, and he had an official invitation to visit the country. Kalaja said the border police informed him that his entry was prohibited as he “poses a risk to public order, national security, public health or international relations of the Republic of North Macedonia.”

“I have travelled everywhere in Europe and Britain and no problem. However, the chauvinist policies of the State of North Macedonia towards the Albanians have no basis…Perhaps the Islamic representation institutions in the two states, the ombudsman, the foreign ministry, the state will react,” he wrote on social media.

In a video released later on Monday, he hinted the issue could relate to discrimination against Albanians.

This state is not honest with the Albanians that it will offer them equality. The letter he gave me is in English and Macedonian. The Albanian policemen were upset, I could see it in their faces”, said Kalaja, highlighting that the letter should have also been in Albanian, an official language of North Macedonia.

Kalaja has a prominent presence on YouTube and is known as controversial and a hardliner. He has taken several anti-LGBT stances in recent years, going so far as to create a coalition of religious figures against LGBT individuals to “protect the family”.

In 2022, he declared the alliance would “protect the centuries-old tradition” of the family by opposing same-sex marriages, same-sex parents legally registering their children or same-sex adoption.

In 2015, he called the war in Syria a “holy war” and called on Muslims worldwide to join the fight. A number of Albanians from Albania and Kosovo, including those that attend Kalaja’s mosque, have reportedly travelled to Syria to fight ISIS, with many remaining in camps.

In another incident, an Albanian comedian made fun of the call to prayer during a show. Kalaja shared the clip online and called on his followers to demand an apology.

The comedy club was then flooded with up to 70 threats and abusive messages a day and reported that some followed up in person at the bar and made a video stating, “We Muslims won’t allow our religion to be made fun of.” The matter was reported to the local police.

Albania is a constitutionally secular state with a secularised society. Before World War Two, the country had a Muslim majority and a large Christian majority, but during the communist regime, religion was banned. After communism fell in 1991, religious freedom was allowed again, but a UNDP poll found that 63% of Albanians do not practise a religion, while those who do tend to be lax.

Today, there are Muslim, Bektashi, Orthodox and Christian communities throughout the country, with a small number of Jews in Tirana.

North Macedonia is predominantly an Orthodox Christian country, but it has a population of at least 620,000 Albanians, many of which are Muslim.

Source: euractiv.com

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https://www.euractiv.com/section/politics/news/north-macedonia-bans-albanian-imam-from-entering-country/

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North America

 

US Muslim Students Embrace Challenges Of Fasting During School And Sports

Zareen Syed Chicago Tribune

APRIL 18, 2023

Every morning during Ramadan, high school soccer player Zara Hasan wakes up around 4:30 a.m. for a quick bowl of oatmeal and quite a few glugs of water for Suhoor. The predawn meal marks the beginning of the day’s fast when Muslims observing the Islamic holy month abstain from eating or drinking from dawn until sunset. For Hasan, captain of the junior varsity girls’ soccer team at Naperville North High School, the breakfast gets her through the day and into after-school practice.

“I don’t really think about fasting when I’m playing that much,” she said. “But when there’s a water break or something, I usually just rinse my mouth with water and spit it out just to freshen up a bit.” Since the soccer season started while Ramadan was already underway, Hasan deliberately didn’t tell her teammates she was fasting. “I just didn’t want them to think I’m playing differently because I’m fasting,” she said, crediting her competitive nature coupled with the spiritual effects of Ramadan.

“I actually feel like sometimes I’m more focused when I’m fasting and the adrenaline kicks in,” she said. “I don’t know, maybe because I’m not thinking about eating or anything else.” Hasan said she was inspired by AdamaSanogo, one of four Muslim players on the University of Connecticut men’s basketball team. Sanogo led the university to a national championship in March, and led Hasan to uphold her religious obligations while playing soccer. “He would break his fast on the sidelines of the games,” Hasan said. “He was fasting throughout the entire series — it was amazing.”

According to Tariq El-Amin, imam at Masjid al-Taqwa on Chicago’s South Side, this says a lot about Muslim student athletes. “I really think young people are finding their agency,” he said. “It is something to be dependent on your parents for food, clothing and shelter. But fasting is sort of a form of independence. It is a declaration. I think they’re engaging in it and there’s a sense of accomplishment that comes along with fasting.” El-Amin said that during Ramadan, observers tend to realize how much they eat out of habit or boredom rather than actual hunger.

“Fasting is an opportunity to examine the appetite that we have been conditioned to respond to,” he said. “And some habits that we engage in and respond to really have no value for us.” Hasan, who generally indulges in several snacks throughout the day, said she doesn’t notice the lack of chips and granola bars this time of year. “I feel like I’m less hungry after Ramadan,” she said. “I know that feeling now of not eating during the day and it makes you understand what other people (who don’t have much to eat) go through.”

Because of the large Muslim population at Naperville North, teachers and classmates are usually aware of students fasting during Ramadan and it isn’t something Hasan has to call out. But in Marwan Aly’s case, as the only Muslim student at Plano High School as far as he knows, it’s much more of a conversation. “There’s always people trying to learn and understand what Ramadan is and why we fast because it’s something new to them,” Aly said. Some of his teachers keep track of how many days of fasting are left, or how many hours are left in the day until Aly can break his fast, he said. The challenges of going without food or water vary from day to day, said Aly, who wakes up around 4:30 a.m. to make himself a noticeably light suhoor of dates soaked in milk, often with nuts and dried fruit. The Egyptian breakfast is called tamr bel laban, but dates and milk are a common choice for Muslims either at the beginning or end of the fast. “Normally, when I eat something heavy, I get hungrier during the day,” he said, adding that he also drinks five glasses of water before dawn. He then waits for the adhan, or the call to prayer that plays on an app on his phone, before offering fajr (the first of five daily prayers), and tries to get some more sleep before school. Usually, it’s just another hour of snoozing before he heads into the shower to get ready, Aly said. While some days he feels lightheaded or a little sick during lunch period, “I get through it,” he said. Aly, a junior, is on the Plano High School wrestling team, for which the physically taxing season just ended. He let out an “Alhamdulillah,” thanking God that he didn’t have to compete while fasting. He does, however, participate fully in gym class even though his teachers offered him an alternative to running. “It just makes me feel stronger about myself,” he said. “There will be other students tired after a couple of laps, but I manage to push through, even though I’m fasting.” Since Plano High School doesn’t have its own Muslim Student Association, Aly tries to attend events hosted by the nearby Oswego High School club, like a recent “fast-a-thon” put together by several students, including freshman Abdullah Abouhaiba. Abouhaiba said as part of the event, both Muslim and non-Muslim students were invited to the evening iftar — the meal to break one’s fast. For students who are unfamiliar with fasting, he said he compares it to intermittent fasting, but will clarify that Muslims fast for more than 14 hours consecutively. Besides the challenges of participating in athletics and gym class, students can face other hardships during Ramadan. They can find themselves distracted during class, tired from late-night taraweeh prayers that are held every night throughout the month, or worn out from the interrupted sleep that comes with waking before dawn. “Sometimes it gets hard because our sleeping schedule gets screwed up,” said Abouhaiba, who often stays up until suhoor time to not miss it. “Sometimes I’ll sleep through my alarm or wake up too late to have anything. I just don’t eat suhoor that day but I’ll still fast.” On April 12, students at Oak Forest High School held an event similar to Oswego High School’s with the help of diversity club faculty sponsor Gary Andruch. The iftar dinner was the first of its kind for the school, but certainly not the last. Andruch, a world history teacher, along with teacher Ruba Shaikh, has been instrumental in helping Muslim students showcase Ramadan, similar to how bulletin boards and school programming reflect other holidays. Right outside his classroom is an informational display about Ramadan, and an inflatable cloud-shaped balloon in the library that reads “Ramadan Mubarak,” meaning congratulations on the holy month. There’s also a banner in the front foyer, he said. “It makes everyone feel like a part of the school culture — so it’s not just one group being highlighted, it’s all the different groups,” Andruch said. “Each year it’s grown to more posters and more signs.” Yasmin Maali, a senior in Andruch’s class and a member of the diversity club, said it’s been a welcome shift to see teachers more accommodating of students who are fasting. Recently, the diversity club raised money for a student in need, and the classes that raised the most funds got a doughnut or pizza party. “Today was one of the days I had to bring in doughnuts, so I also bought in a lot of packaged goods; that way students that were practicing Ramadan and couldn’t eat at school could take it home for later,” said Andruch, a 1997 Oak Forest High School alum. One class decided to postpone its doughnut party until Ramadan ends, Andruch said. He noted that 22 years ago, when he started teaching, Ramadan was not well-understood among faculty and staff. Aly said that even at Plano, with its limited interaction with Muslim students, people are curious about the details that make up Ramadan and the nuances of fasting. “A lot of people also try to find loopholes to figure out a way to make it work,” he said with a laugh. “Somebody asked me if I could drink water or start eating if there’s an eclipse, or like, ‘What if it’s a cloudy day and you can’t see the sun?’” Despite the lack of loopholes, Aly said most students are left bewildered when he inevitably has to explain, “No, not even water.”

Source: heraldonline.com

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https://www.heraldonline.com/living/religion/article274431865.html

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MSNBC Host Blasting Abortion Bans as ‘Christian Sharia’ Is Little More Than Vapid Sloganeering

Apr 17th, 2023

MSNBC host Ali Velshi’s Friday appearance on SiriusXM yielded a shot at pro-lifers that should do more to harm his reputation than indict the target of his critique.

In an animated rant on Dean Obeidallah’s program, Velshi accused pro-lifers of imposing “Christian Sharia” on their fellow Americans:

As any observer of any opinion on abortion could no doubt tell, this is pandering, not an affirmative argument in favor of abortion rights.

Surely it would be useful to Velshi and others of his thinking if the only possible reason for opposing abortion was blind faith. The inconvenient truth, however, is that Americans of various faiths — or none at all — oppose abortion for a whole host of scientific and ethical reasons that pro-choice talking heads are all too happy to elide with flippant catchphrases.

It is a fact that from the moment of conception onward, a separate human organism with unique DNA is growing inside of the womb. It is a fact that at 6 weeks gestation, that human’s heart starts beating. It is a fact that brain activity begins around the same time period. It is a fact that after 15 weeks gestation, unborn children can hear their parents debating baby names. It is a fact that by week 20, they have begun kicking, punching, and sucking their thumb.

Christian opposition to abortion is not based on a mystical article of faith unique to the religion, but the ubiquitous objection to murder and a well-founded argument that that’s what abortion constitutes.

People of good faith can dissent from that characterization. They can weigh the liberty interests of the mother more heavily than those of the child. They can reject the personhood of the fetus in the early stages of pregnancy. They can argue that the real-world effects of restrictions are just too costly. They cannot, however, truthfully submit that there is no reasonable argument in favor of restrictions, or that acts of elected legislatures constitute the imposition of religious law on them.

Velshi’s rant was obviously an insult to millions of pro-life Americans of all faiths, but it was also a poor performance on behalf of his fellow pro-choicers.

Source: mediaite.com

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https://www.mediaite.com/opinion/ali-velshi-blasting-abortion-bans-as-christian-sharia-is-little-more-than-vapid-sloganeering/

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Archbishop Visits York Mosque and Islamic Centre in Ramadan

18/04/2023

Stephen Cottrell, Archbishop of York visited York Mosque and Islamic Centre yesterday evening with Mrs Rebecca Cottrell, where they were welcomed by Faizal Mohamudbuccus and NaserJasim, President of the Mosque to break the fast at the Iftar meal after sunset as part of the Mosque's 'Experience Ramadan' events.

Iftar is the meal that Muslims break their fast with during the Islamic Holy month of Ramadan, in which Muslims across the world fast from food and water from dawn till sunset for 30 days. It ends with the Eid-Ul-Fitr festival this weekend.

Archbishop Stephen said: “This has been my first visit to the Mosque in York which has well established links with the local community, and with York Minster. It has been lovely to share Iftar, an opportunity to catch up with old friends as well as build new friendships.”

Faisal Mohamudbuccus added, “ It was a pleasure to share our Iftar with the Archbishop and his guests. Ramadan encapsulates community cohesiveness and togetherness. We look forward to having great links with the Archbishop in the future and maintaining great friendships”

York Mosque regularly hosts open door events and "Experience Ramadan' is an invitational event shared by many UK Mosques.  York Mosque offers five daily prayer congregations, the Madrassah Arabic school which has 140 students, including refugee children, Quran study groups, foodbank and soup kitchen. The Mosque regularly welcomes school visits and the local scouts group. To find out when the next Open Day will be or if you would like to pop in for an informal talk, please email: contact@yorkmosque.com.

Source: archbishopofyork.org

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https://www.archbishopofyork.org/news/latest-news/archbishop-visits-york-mosque-and-islamic-centre-ramadan

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US Kills Senior Islamic State Leader in Syria

APRIL 18, 2023

AUS helicopter raid on Monday killed a senior Islamic State group leader in Syria suspected of plotting attacks in Europe and the Middle East, US Central Command said.

“Early this morning, April 17, US Central Command forces killed Abd-al Hadi Mahmud al-Haji Ali, a senior ISIS Syria leader," Centcom said in a statement, using another acronym for IS.

It said he was an “operational planner responsible for planning terror attacks in the Middle East and Europe".

The operation was launched “after intelligence revealed an ISIS plot to kidnap officials abroad to use as leverage", the statement said.

An earlier Centcom statement said the raid in northern Syria had “resulted in the probable death of the targeted individual", without naming him.

Source: news18.com

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https://www.news18.com/world/us-raid-in-syria-kills-senior-islamic-state-leader-7573123.html

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Mayor Jacob Frey signs change allowing Muslim call to prayer at any time in Minneapolis

APRIL 17, 2023

Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey, surrounded by Muslim leaders, speaks Monday after signing a change in the city’s noise regulations to allow the Muslim call to prayer to be broadcast from speakers at any time at Dar Al-Hijrah Islamic Center. Seated alongside Frey are, from left, Imam Sheikh Sa’ad Musse Roble, City Council Member Aisha Chughtai, and the mosque’s imam, Sharif Mohamed.

Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey on Monday signed into law a change in the city's noise ordinance so that the Muslim call to prayer, or adhan, can be broadcast from speakers atop the city's 20 mosques at any time of the day.

When the changes take effect Friday, Minneapolis will become the first major American city to allow all five daily calls to prayer to be amplified outdoors at any time, including the early morning hours before sunrise and late evening hours after sunset.

The signing, held inside the Dar Al-Hijrah Islamic Center in the heavily East African-immigrant Cedar-Riverside neighborhood, was attended by a number of local Islamic leaders, several City Council members and Christian and Jewish leaders who supported the measure.

Frey, who is Jewish, compared the Muslim call to prayer to the ringing of church bells and the sounding of the shofar. "They are all important to our religions," he said. "They can all be heard."

"This change ultimately expands First Amendment-protected religious freedom," said Council Member Aisha Chughtai, who authored the amendment and is one of three Muslims serving on the council, which approved the change on a 12-0 vote last week.

While Monday's event carried a celebratory feel, leaders said they're prepared for the possibility of noise complaints once the earliest adhan begins.

Striking a balance

The timing of each of the five daily calls to prayer varies throughout the year because they're related to the position of the sun.

The time for the first prayer — generally defined as when dawn first lightens the eastern sky — could commence as early as 4:57 a.m. on Friday, for example, with the final prayer at 9:37 p.m.

Around the summer solstice, the first call could sound as early at 3:30 a.m. and the final call around 11 p.m. In the depths of winter, the times for the first and last prayer of the day are closer to 6 a.m. and 6 p.m.

"If we get complaints, we want to listen," said Imam Sharif Mohamed of Dar Al-Hijrah.

It's a balance "as with any noise issue," Frey said.

Minneapolis' noise ordinance previously restricted religious sounds to between 7 a.m. and 10 p.m., though exceptions could be granted.

The amended noise ordinance allows sounds associated with religious worship, such as the adhan, to be amplified for up to 6 minutes.

The adhan consists of a person reciting the call that begins "Allahuakbar" ("God is great" or "God is the greatest") and other lines that urge worshipers to pray. It often lasts several minutes and can be performed by a person or a pre-recorded message. Speakers amplify the message so local worshipers can hear the call.

Dar Al-Hijrah has been able to sound the call daily since March 2022, when the city allowed it year-round between the hours of 7 a.m. and 10 p.m. The mosque's speakers are directed toward the neighboringhighrises that are home to a large number of Somali immigrants who are Muslim.

Mohamed said the goal of the mosque's amplification system is to alert people within about a city block, though he acknowledged that in the quieter early morning hours the sounds will travel farther.

The adhan can often be heard about two blocks away at Trinity Lutheran Congregation at Riverside and 20th avenues, depending on the ambient noise and whether windows are open.

But pastoral intern Sarah Zender said it hasn't been a problem. She said the congregation supports allowing the calls anytime.

"At Trinity, when we hear the call to prayer, it's a delightful moment," Zender said. "It reminds us of the commonalities of our religions."

Source: startribune.com

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Tunisian Islamist leader, ex-parliament speaker, detained after police search

April 17, 2023

Influential Tunisian Islamist leader Rached Ghannouchi was detained Monday after a police search, according to his lawyer, in a move denounced by his supporters as a stepped-up effort by the president to quash Tunisia's opposition.

The move against the 81-year-old former parliament speaker comes amid growing social tensions and deepening economic troubles in Tunisia, the birthplace of the Arab Spring pro-democracy movement more than a decade ago.

Ghannouchi, head of the Ennahdha party, is the most prominent critic of Tunisian President Kais Saied. While he has been detained for questioning in the past and released, his supporters described Monday's action as a more serious step.

Police entered his house for a lengthy search and brought him to the El Aouina jail in the east of the capital, his lawyer NejibChebbi told The Associated Press.

Ennahdha called for his release, saying in a statement that it "condemns this very dangerous development."

Tunisia’s official TAP news agency reported that he was detained on a warrant by counterterrorism prosecutors as part of an investigation into recent "provocative" comments. It did not elaborate.

Other Tunisian media reported that Ghannouchi was to be questioned over a video circulating online in which he purportedly says that the president's perceived efforts to "eradicate'' Islamist opposition threaten to unleash civil war.

Ghannouchi has been detained before for questioning on suspicion of money laundering and terrorism financing through a charity. He has denied wrongdoing and his party says the accusations are politically driven.

His daughter Yusra said her father had cooperated with police during past detentions, and lamented that the president "ordered a raid on his house and his arrest after sundown during the most holy night of Ramadan."

Islamist lawyer Ines Harrath questioned why he wasn't summoned for questioning during normal working hours. "We are no longer living in a state of law,'' she said. ‘’The current situation cannot last forever."

Saied shut down the Ennahdha-led parliament in 2021 and has since moved to consolidate power amid growing public disillusionment with Tunisia’s democracy.

Source: foxnews.com

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https://www.foxnews.com/world/tunisian-islamist-leader-ex-parliament-speaker-detained-police-search

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Community Gathers to Honor Heroes Who Apprehended Mosque Attacker

By Gabriella Dragone

April 17, 2023

PATERSON, NJ - Mayor Andre Sayegh, Assemblywoman Angela McKnight (D-31), Senator Joe Pennacchio (D-26), and community members gathered on Monday, to honor the brave individuals who were instrumental in capturing the attacker who targeted Imam Sayed Elnakib on Sunday, April 9. The event recognized the selflessness and bravery of these heroes, who played a critical role in bringing the assailant to justice.

Sayegh expressed his gratitude to those who were involved in the capture of the assailant, saying that their bravery and commitment to justice is an inspiration to the entire community.

"The Imam was stabbed twice, but the heroic deeds of those who were praying at the time were able to immediately apprehend the assailant and bring him to justice," Sayegh said. "Many of them wish to not be identified as heroes. But we do believe that they are heroes."

Abdul HamdanEsq., the spokesperson for the mosque, expressed his gratitude for the support and unwavering presence of the City of Paterson, Mayor Andre Sayegh, the Passaic County Sheriff's Department, and the heroes who apprehended the assailant.

"The Imam is still recovering and the attacker, from my knowledge, is still in custody," Hamdan said. "We are a unified community, we stick together especially in a place like our mosque. This is one family, one congregation and everyone's going to support each other in a time like this when someone's being attacked with a knife."

"We were all nervous," Manny Simrin, one of the congregates who stopped the attacker said. "We just kept asking 'Why did he do this?' It was a surprise to everybody. The Imam did nothing to him [the attacker]. But when we heard the Imam screaming we all looked up and saw this guy running, so we ran after him, caught him and then called the police."

During the event, Sayegh also celebrated the passing of Bill SJR105, which designates January of each year as "Muslim Heritage Month" in New Jersey. The legislation's goal is to respectfully acknowledge and promote awareness and appreciation of Muslim Americans while recognizing the many contributions of the state's Muslim community.

"We are in this together and I will continue to fight with you and for you," McKnight, a co-sponsor of the bill said. "Muslims continue to do so much in our community, and it's very, very befitting to show our appreciation by appreciating them, not just today, not just January, but every single day, and it's an honor to be able to celebrate you."

Community members were invited to the event to celebrate the passing of this important legislation and honor the individuals who played a role in bringing the attacker to justice. The event was an opportunity to acknowledge the importance of diversity and inclusivity in society, and to recognize the sacrifices of those who work to make the community a safer and better place for everyone.

Sayegh emphasized the significance of the new legislation, stating that it reflects the state's commitment to promoting understanding, tolerance, and acceptance among all residents.

Source: tapinto.net

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https://www.tapinto.net/towns/paterson/sections/religions-and-spirituality/articles/community-gathers-to-honor-heroes-who-apprehended-mosque-attacker

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Las Vegas police welcome Muslim community for 'Night of Power'

Tue, April 18th 2023

LAS VEGAS (KSNV) — Las Vegas Metro officers from the Summerlin Command welcomed the Muslim community to celebrate the "Night of Power."

The holy month of Ramadan wraps up on Thursday.

The community gathered to pray and break their fast with officers.

The tradition started several years ago following an attack on a mosque in Texas.

Since then, its served as an opportunity for people from different cultures to share and learn from each other.

Elected officials, community leaders, and other faith leaders also attended.

Metro plans to host other events for faith groups in the future.

Source: news3lv.com

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Mideast

 

Islamist Antisemitism In The US Masked By Alliance With Far Left – Israeli Think Tank Study

By Lazar Berman

As anti-Semitic attacks continue to rise in the United States, a growing alliance with far-left organizations has shielded US Islamist groups from scrutiny of their anti-Semitic statements and ideas, a study by an Israeli think tank warned.

“US Islamist groups and leaders have increasingly sought common cause with progressive left-wing groups that promote minority rights and intersectionality among racial, ethnic, and religious minorities in their efforts to build coalitions around common interests,” charged Yehudit Barsky and Ehud Rosen, authors of the Institute for National Security Studies report “Islamist Antisemitism in the United States,” set to be published Tuesday.

The “red-green” coalition is based on a narrative that portrays the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as an anticolonial struggle, and US Muslims as victims of racism on par with other marginalized minorities in the US, said the INSS study.

The alliance also seeks to delegitimize Jewish communal organizations, according to Barsky and Rosen, by portraying them as part of a white power structure in the US that is ineligible for inclusion in progressive coalitions.

“Within these coalitions,” charged the study, “US Islamists have sought to boycott and delegitimize progressive Zionists and supporters of Israel, deeming them as oppressors and illegitimate participants.”

Barsky is a research fellow at the Institute for the Study of Global Antisemitism and Policy, and Rosen is a team member of the INSS’s project on Contemporary Antisemitism in the United States.

The study is the latest installment in an ongoing INSS series on antisemitism in the US.

Leading Islamist organizations like American Muslims for Palestine and the Council on American Islamic Relations, the authors argued, seek to challenge the right of mainstream Jewish and pro-Israel organizations to define antisemitism and to call themselves civil rights organizations. A campaign against the Anti-Defamation League, the leading antisemitism watchdog, called it a “silencer of free speech” and promoter of Islamophobia, and pushed for other civil rights organizations to boycott it.

The authors warned that over time, fringe antisemitic beliefs could become increasingly mainstreamed if these organizations are not challenged.

A 75percent spike in antisemitic attacks in the US during and after the 2021 conflict in Gaza is evidence of the need to address Islamist antisemitism, and not only Jew-hatred on the far-right, said Barsky and Rosen. While that discourse exists in Europe, the successful rebranding of Islamist groups from extremists to champions of human rights has stymied debate over their activities against Jewish and pro-Israel organizations in the US.

The alarming trend of antisemitic attacks continued into 2022, according to the ADL, rising another 36% over the previous year.

Several major incidents were perpetrated by Islamists last year. In January 2022, British Islamist Malik Faisal Akram took the rabbi and three worshipers hostage at Congregation Beth Israel in Colleyville, Texas, and demanded that an imprisoned al-Qaeda member be freed.

In November, the FBI issued a security alert to synagogues across New Jersey. The next week, a young Muslim man was arrested in New Jersey for distributing a manifesto online with threats to attack synagogues.

“The process of choosing allies from the Muslim community should be made much more carefully, and proper due diligence is required,” argued the report, which also noted that there is no evidence that Islamist groups represent the beliefs of most American Muslims.

“These developments call for increased vigilance and a robust response by the American Jewish community and its allies,” urged the authors.

Source: timesofisrael.com

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https://www.timesofisrael.com/islamist-antisemitism-in-the-us-masked-by-alliance-with-far-left-study/

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Islamic Jihad threatens: Israel will pay the price if hunger striking terrorist dies

Dalit Halevi

Apr 18, 2023

The leadership of terrorists from the Islamic Jihad who are serving time in Israeli prisons on Monday stated that it places full responsibility on Israel for the life of Khader Adnan, who has been on hunger strike for 72 consecutive days in protest of his administrative detention.

Adnan has been in and out of Israeli prisons for years, and has gone on hunger strike several times in the past. One such time was in 2012, when he was released from prison after a 66-day hunger strike.

In 2015, Adnan again managed to obtain his release from detention after a prolonged 56-day hunger strike. In the last few days, it was reported that his health has deteriorated during his latest hunger strike and there is a threat to his life.

Ismail Haniyeh, the leader of Hamas, said that his organization is committed to working to protect and bring about the release of security prisoners from prisons in Israel.

Hamas, claimed Haniyeh, succeeded in imposing on Israel an "honorable equation" for the release of prisoners in an exchange deal, alluding to the Shalit deal in 2011 and to Hamas' current demand that Israel release over 1,000 terrorists in exchange for the return of the bodies of IDF soldiers and missing Israelis who are being held in Gaza.

In a statement on the occasion of "Prisoner's Day", which was held on Monday, Hamas said that the issue of releasing the prisoners from the "enemy's" prisons is a distinct national issue, and it "will remain at the top of the movement's priorities, which will spare no effort or means to fulfill its commitment to them and release them."

Hamas warned the "fascist occupation government" against escalating its "crimes" against the "heroic prisoners" by imposing on it full responsibility for their lives and well-being, in particular the sick prisoners, minors and women.

Arab terrorist prisoners have turned hunger striking into a pressure tactic aimed at forcing Israel to release them out of fear for their lives. Israel has several times in the past caved to the pressure and released some hunger strikers.

At times, the terrorists were found to be secretly eating during the hunger strike. A prominent example of this was in 2017, when the Israel Police released footage of archterrorist Marwan Barghouti, who was caught eating in secret while maintaining the pretenses of his own hunger strike.

Source: israelnationalnews.com

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https://www.israelnationalnews.com/news/370112

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For Palestinians, holiest Ramadan night starts at checkpoint

By ISABEL DEBRE

QALANDIYA CHECKPOINT, West Bank (AP) — For many Palestinians, the journey to one of Islam’s most sacred sites on the holiest night of Ramadan begins in a dust-choked, garbage-strewn maelstrom.

Tens of thousands of Palestinian worshippers from across the occupied West Bank on Monday crammed through a military checkpoint leading to Jerusalem to pray at the Al-Aqsa Mosque for Laylat al-Qadr, or the “Night of Destiny,” when Muslims believe that the Quran was revealed to the Prophet Mohammad centuries ago.

The noisy, sweaty crowds at Qalandiya checkpoint seem chaotic — but there was a system: women to the right; men to the left. Jerusalem residents here, disabled people there. And the grim-looking men stranded at the corner had endured the long wait only to be turned back altogether.

“I’m not political, I’m just devout, so I thought maybe tonight, because of Laylat al-Qadr, they’d let me in,” said Deia Jamil, a 40-year-old Arabic teacher from the West Bank city of Ramallah.

“But no. ‘Forbidden,’” he said, sinking onto his knees to pray in the dirt lot.

For Palestinian worshippers, praying at the third-holiest site in Islam is a centerpiece of Ramadan. But hundreds of thousands are barred from legally crossing into Jerusalem, with most men under 55 turned away at checkpoints due to Israeli security restrictions. They often resort to perilous means to get to the holy compound during the fasting month of Ramadan.

This year, as in the past, Israel has eased some restrictions, allowing women and young children from the West Bank to enter Jerusalem without a permit. Those between the ages of 45 and 55 who have a valid permit can pray at the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound — one of the most bitterly disputed holy sites on Earth.

Jews revere it as the Temple Mount, home to the biblical Temples, and consider it the holiest site in Judaism. The competing claims are at the heart of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and often spill over into violence.

Israel says it is committed to protecting freedom of worship for all faiths and describes the controls on Palestinian worshippers as an essential security measure that keeps attackers out of Israel. Last month, a Palestinian who crossed into Israel from the West Bank village of Nilin opened fire on a crowded street in Tel Aviv, killing one Israeli and wounding two others.

But for Palestinians, the restrictions take a toll.

“I feel completely lost,” said 53-year-old NoureddineOdeh, his backpack sagging off one shoulder. His wife and teenage daughters made it through the checkpoint, leaving him behind. This year — a period of surging violence in the occupied West Bank — Israel raised the age limit for male worshippers and he was no longer eligible. “You’re tugged around, like they’re playing God.”

Israeli authorities did not answer questions about how many Palestinian applications they’d rejected from the West Bank and Gaza. But they said that so far this month, some 289,000 Palestinians — the majority from the West Bank and a few hundred from the Gaza Strip — had visited Jerusalem for prayers.

Earlier this month, Israel announced the start of special Ramadan flights for West Bank Palestinians from the Ramon Airport in southern Israel. In normal times, Palestinians would have to fly from neighboring Jordan. But Monday, days before the end of Ramadan, the Israeli defense agency that handles Palestinian civilian affairs said only that Palestinians “will soon have the option.”

The crowds squeezing through Qalandiya during Laylat al-Qadr — one of the most important nights of the year, when Muslims seek to have their prayers answered — were so overwhelming that Israeli forces repeatedly shut the barrier. The sudden closures created bottlenecks of people, most of whom had abstained from food and water all day. Medics from the Palestinian Red Crescent said at least 30 people collapse at the checkpoint on a busy Ramadan day.

Their elbows pressed into strangers’ torsos and heads squeezed under armpits, five women studying to be midwives who had never before left the West Bank entertained themselves with fantasies of Jerusalem. “We’ll buy meat and sweets,” squealed 20-year-old SondosWarasna. “And picnic in the Al-Aqsa courtyard.”

The limestone courtyard, which teems with Palestinian families breaking fast each night after sunset, became roiled by violence earlier this month, when Ramadan overlapped with the Jewish holiday of Passover. Israeli police raided the compound, firing stun grenades and arresting hundreds of Palestinian worshippers who had barricaded themselves inside the mosque with fireworks and stones. The raid, which Israel said was necessary to prevent further violence, outraged Muslims across the world and prompted militants in Lebanon and the Gaza Strip to fire rockets at Israel.

Anger over access to the contested compound was undimmed at Qalandiya. Throngs of Palestinian girls and older men ostensibly permitted to pass were turned back and told they had security bans they never knew about that barred them from Jerusalem. The secretive system — which Palestinians consider a key tool in Israel’s 55-year-old military occupation — left them reeling, struggling to understand why.

A 16-year-old girl from the northern city of Jenin frantically called her parents who had entered Jerusalem without her. A 19-year-old from Ramallah changed her coat and put on sunglasses and lipstick before trying again.

Others found riskier ways to get to the holy compound — scrambling over Israel’s hulking separation barrier or sliding under razor wire.

Abdallah, a young medical student from the southern city of Hebron, clambered up a rickety ladder with six of his friends in the pre-dawn darkness Monday — then slid down a rope on the wall’s other side — so he could make it to Al-Aqsa for Laylat al-Qadr. They paid a smuggler some $70 each to help them scale the barrier.

“My heart was beating so loud. I was sure soldiers would hear it,” Abdallah said, giving only his first name for fear of reprisals.

The Israeli military has picked up hundreds of Palestinians who sneaked through holes in the separation barrier during Ramadan, it said, adding that forces would “continue to act against the security risk arising from the destruction of the security fence and illegal entry.”

Abdallah said the experience of Jerusalem’s Old City brought him great joy. But soon anxiety set in. Israeli police were everywhere — occasionally stopping young men and asking to see their IDs. He tried to blend in, wearing counterfeit athleisure like many Jerusalemites and smiling to look relaxed.

“It’s a mixed feeling. At any moment I know I could be arrested,” he said from the entrance to the sacred compound. “But our mosque, it makes me feel free.”

Source: apnews.com

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Profiling Ansar Al-Islam: Kurdish Jihadists Threatening Russian Forces In Syria – Analysis

April 18, 2023

By The Jamestown Foundation

By Daniele Garofalo*

Ansar al-Islam (AAI) is a jihadist group that formed in September 2001 in Iraqi Kurdistan from the merger of two small groups: Jund al-Islam, which was then led by Abu Abdullah al-Shafi’i, and a splinter group of the Islamic Movement of Kurdistan, which was led by Mullah Krekar. In time, Krekar would become AAI’s leader.

AAI initially comprised around 300 fighters, who were mostly Kurdish veterans of the 1980s war against the Soviet forces in Afghanistan, operating in the Mosul and Kirkuk areas independently for more than a decade, despite having clear links to al-Qaeda. The group also took part in the insurgency against the Iraqi central government until 2011.

With the rise of the Islamic State (IS) and some defections within its ranks in 2014, AAI’s leadership decided to expand, standing up a new branch in Syria in February 2015. The Syrian branch was concentrated particularly around Damascus and Quneitra, absorbing into its ranks some Syrian Islamist brigades in those areas (SyriaTV, June 25, 2022). Later, these fighters moved between the Idlib governorate and the northern countryside of Latakia (Ennabaladi, May 9, 2020). Three years later, in the second part of 2017, AAI conducted numerous rocket attacks against pro-government Shia militias in the Hamrin Mountains area between the governorates of Salah al-Din, Diyala, and Kirkuk in Iraq (ArabNews, December 14, 2017).

One year later, in September 2018, the Syrian branch of AAI joined the “Rouse the Believers Operations Room” along with other groups close to al-Qaeda, Hurras al-Din, Ansar al-Tawhid, and Ansar al-Din Front to oppose any attempt to demilitarize northwestern Syria; this had previously been stipulated by the Russian-Turkish agreements signed that same month in Sochi (Ennabaladi, July 4, 2019). However, it was not until October 30, 2019, that AAI claimed its most recent attack in Iraq. AAI attacked a Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF) vehicle in Diyala governorate, northeastern Iraq with an improvised explosives device (IED) (Al-Ansar Media, October 30, 2019).

Since 2021, the group has operated completely independently and has clashed several times with Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham (HTS), leading HTS to arrest some of AAI’s leaders (The New Arab, May 22). [1] However, HTS did not dismantle AAI either because it was not able to, with AAI showing too much resilience and resistance, or because the group indirectly assists HTS by fighting the Syrian army. To that point, since February 2022, AAI has begun to strike Syrian government targets—and has become the most active group in Syria attacking the government’s Russian allies.

AAI Media, Objectives, and Operations

AAI’s official media channel is Al-Ansar Media, which disseminates various types of material, in particular video and photo reports showing military operations, training, claims of military operations, and summary infographics. Over the past years, Al-Ansar Media released several products, including:

Three propaganda videos, including “So Flee to God,” which quickly retraced events of the last 11 years of the Syrian war and then showed the most important military operations conducted over the preceding decade in Syria (Al-Ansar Media, September 26, 2022). There was also another video announcing the launch of a program entitled “Series of Insights for the Mujahid: Asking for Knowledge.” The last and most important was the third video, which was about 8 minutes long and was released on January 29, 2023. In the video, which was entitled “The Battle between Disbelief and Faith: No Peace,” the group rejected any possibility of reconciliation with the government of Bashar al-Assad and promised to continue the struggle (Al-Ansar Media, January 29).

Two training videos, the first of which showed the training and education of AAI youths between the ages of 10 and 18, showing scenes which highlighted the study of the Quran and the discussion of local history and politics (Al-Ansar Media, November 5, 2022). The second was entitled “Invisible Soldiers” and showed the operations of the group’s snipers (Al-Ansar Media, July 5, 2022).

Five videos claiming operations conducted against the Syrian army and their Russian allies, the first of which was published in January 2022 and called “Targeting the Enemy Stronghold in Goren and Around” (Al-Ansar Media, January 3). The last was published in November 2022 (Al-Ansar Media, November 17, 2022).

35 statements claiming attacks against the Syrian army, allied militias, and Russian forces in the Hama, Latakia, and Idlib governates. [2]

Six high-quality photo reports showing a celebration of the Eid al-Fitr and Eid al-Adha holidays, the training of fighters (including children) in the use of weapons in ribat (the act of guarding fortresses), artillery attacks, and sniper operations in the Latakia, Hama, and Aleppo governorates (Al-Ansar Media, September 26, 2022).

Two infographics to summarize operations, with the first published in September 2022 to claim all operations conducted by the group in the previous three months (Al-Ansar Media, September 28, 2022). The second infographic released in early March 2023 showed the results of its sniper operations carried out from January 23 to March 2. The infographic showed 15 dead and wounded among the ranks of the Syrian government army and the areas of AAI sniper activity in the Idlib, Aleppo, and Latakia governorates (Al-Ansar Media, March 9).

The initial membership of AAI was mainly comprised of Kurdish Iranians, Syrians, and Iraqis. However, during the years of its Syrian operations, it began to include Arab Iraqis, Turks, Saudis, Yemenis, and many Syrian Arab fighters. Previously, the leadership of the group also consisted mainly of Kurdish and Iraqi commanders, but now their leaders are mostly Iranian and Syrian Kurds.

In terms of numbers, AAI fields between 250 and 350 fighters, who are highly trained veterans; many have high levels of experience operating due to their years fighting in the Iraqi insurgency after 2003 and the Syrian conflict since 2015. Also fielded by AAI are veterans from other jihadist groups, such as Junud al-Sham and Hurras al-Din, or Islamist rebel groups, such as Ahrar al-Sham. The leader of AAI in Syria appears to be Abu al-Hassan al-Kurdi, an Iranian Kurd, and his deputies are Abu Saeed al-Kurdi, also an Iranian Kurd, and Abu Abdullah al-Kurdi (al-Mejas, July 18, 2022). Further, in AAI’s leadership there is an Iraqi who is also named Abu al-Hassan al-Kurdi and is in Syria. This figure never appears in propaganda or on the battlefield, and adopts very strict security measures by only interfacing in person with the rest of the top leadership, eschewing the use of any electronic devices. [3] Although AAI’s leadership is all in Syria, it has maintained contacts and a logistical network with its cells in Iraqi Kurdistan.

Rival Relations with HTS

Originally, when AAI was formed, the group’s objective was to carry out armed jihad to expel Jews and Christians from Kurdistan, and to govern the region through the strict application of sharia law, which would also protect Kurds’ rights (Ansar Media Center, March 20, 2003). After officially moving to Syria, and especially following the clashes with IS, around 50 commanders and fighters left AAI to join IS. AAI then became more tolerant, moderate, and attentive to relations with the local population; this drove the group to reshape its military objectives and make changes in its structure and leadership. Due to this reorganization and reorientation, the group was able win recruits, establish more brigades, and increase the tempo of military operations. Since 2017, AAI has stopped supporting operations outside Syria altogether, and since 2020, it no longer supports al-Qaeda operations either. AAI has grown increasingly independent in terms of propaganda, operations, and decision-making since 2021. This is especially pronounced by January 2022.

HTS wanted to dismantle AAI between 2021 and 2022 for AAI’s refusal to swear allegiance to their group or at least to align with its directives, and thus arrested several AAI senior leaders, as previously mentioned (The New Arab, May 22; SyriaTV, June 25). Nevertheless, HTS failed in its objective and only succeeded in limiting the operations of Ansar al-Islam. HTS decided to avoid entering a full military confrontation with AAI because AAI enjoys popularity in many of HTS’s operating areas. Moreover, AAI is no longer an excessively rigid and extremist group, and has avoided local internal rebel or intra-jihadist struggles. [4]

AAI’s strongholds, leadership headquarters, and training camps are all distributed in different areas of Syria, but especially in Jisr al-Shughour, the western part of Idlib governorate, the Kurdish area of Dweir within the al-Ghab plain area, the western part of Hama governorate, and Jabal al-Turkman in the north-east of Latakia governorate. Iraqi cells of AAI are in and around the villages of Biyara and Tawela and northeast of the town of Halabja in the Hawraman region of Sulaimaniya province, which is itself on the border with Iran. Since February 2022, AAI has been conducting military operations against Russia’s interests in the country, particularly at Syrian military posts and checkpoints where Russian soldiers are present.

Conclusion

AAI’s military operations and propaganda pass through alternating phases. In the first, they conduct numerous attacks of different types and then publish media material. In the second, the group is silent, not conducting attacks for periods as long as several weeks. The group has had to face several difficult moments, splits, and losses, but has always managed to reorganize itself, renounce its extreme components, and reshape the leadership of the group. The most delicate moment in AAI’s history was between May and July 2022, when its leadership faced arrest by HTS and its territory was under assault by HTS offensives. AAI, however, has shown resilience and has forged strong relationships with local communities and clans to gain their support and loyalty. This is largely due to the aid it provides to these communities, as well as their increasing moderation and policy of relative non-interference in local affairs.

In military terms, AAI combines experience with constant ideological, religious, and military training. Its snipers are among the deadliest of jihadist forces in Syria. Moreover, AAI was the first jihadist group to realize the weakness of Damascus’ Russian ally on the Syrian front after the outbreak of the conflict in Ukraine, and thus intensified its attacks against Russian military personnel. As the strongest military supporter of the al-Assad government, Russia, with the invasion of Ukraine, has had to shift its focus away from Syria in terms military personnel and equipment, at least in part.

AAI hopes that by increasing attacks and pressure against Russian positions or personnel, a Russian military disengagement (in particular, they hope to cut support from the Russian Air Force) in northern Syria may follow. This would give AAI opportunities to militarily engage with the Syrian army and pro-government militias from a position of relative strength. Therefore, AAI should not be underestimated in analytical and security terms when assessing Syria’s jihadist and counterinsurgency environment, both in terms of external actors and the local and regional security environment.

*About the author: Daniele Garofalo is a researcher and analyst of jihadist terrorism. He is also involved in the study, research and analysis of jihadist organizations’ propaganda by monitoring jihadist media channels on the web, social networks and messaging apps. He is on Twitter at the address: @G88Daniele.

Source: This article was published by The Jamestown Foundation’s Terrorism Monitor Volume: 21 Issue: 8

Notes

[1] Members arrested by the HTS General Security Service include Abu al-Darda al-Kurdi, Abu Abdul Rahman al-Kurdi, Ammar al-Kurdi, Abdul Rahman al-Shami, Abdul Mateen al-Kurdi, and Abu Ali al-Qalamoun.

[2] For all disseminated claims see Eyes on Jihadism. Monitoring Jihadist Propaganda at https://danielegarofalo.substack.com/

[3] Information received from the author’s sources in the field and the context of analysis.

[4] Interview with Muzamjir al-Sham. See https://danielegarofalo.substack.com/p/al-qaeda-syrian-jihadism-and-foreign.

Source: eurasiareview.com

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PM Mohammed Shia al Sudani helping Iran boost military influence in Iraq, claim reports

April 18, 2023

AjeyoBasu

Baghdad: Prime Minister of Iraq Mohammed Shia al Sudani has allegedly permitted Iran to increase its military presence in Iraq, particularly in the regions of Kirkuk and Sinjar.

According to a report by the Institute for Study of War, Iran has boosted its influence in neighbouring Iraq through the use of Iranian proxies – a process allegedly aided by Mohammed Shia al Sudani.

The PMF will establish a new operational headquarters in Kirkuk Province on April 17, according to a statement made on April 17 by the Popular Mobilisation Authority, the PMF’s official governing body.

According to UK-based Arabic language media outlet Al Araby, Mohammed Shia al Sudani had also given the go-ahead for Faleh al Fayadh, the head of the Popular Mobilisation Forces (PMF), to establish a new PMF-affiliated brigade at Sinjar in the Ninewa province of Iraq, on April 17.

The Popular Mobilisation Forces (PMF) is a Shia majority group that had reportedly played a significant role in the fight against the Islamic State (ISIS), which was opposed to Shia-ruled Iran.

The brigade will be made up of Sinjar inhabitants chosen by local authorities and PMF leadership, as well as members of the PMF and the PKK-affiliated Sinjar Resistance Units (YBS), according to an unnamed PMF source reported by Al Araby. Sudani may have allowed these changes since his control over the PMF has waned lately.

Due to opposition from the Badr Organisation in the Diyala Province and previous Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki, who backed electoral regulations that will bar Sudani from serving another term as Prime Minister, according to CTP, Sudani has faced political setbacks.

Source: firstpost.com

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280,000 Palestinians mark 27th night of Ramadan in Al-Aqsa Mosque

April 18, 2023

More than a quarter of a million Palestinian worshippers marked Laylat Al-Qadr in Al-Aqsa Mosque yesterday, amid Israeli security restrictions.

Figures were released by the Islamic Endowments Department in Jerusalem as Muslims marked the most important night of the Islamic calendar.

The courtyards and prayer halls of Al-Aqsa Mosque were crowded with worshippers who came from the West Bank, Jerusalem and from within Israel, despite the restrictions and barriers put in place by the illegal occupation.

The Qalandia crossing, north of Jerusalem, witnessed a major crisis due to the Israeli occupation forces' restrictions on Palestinians travelling through it to reach Jerusalem.

Hundreds of Palestinians were refused entry.

Source: middleeastmonitor.com

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Confronting Problematic Tenets Of Religious Law: Judaism Could Follow Islam

April 18, 2023

By Dr. James M. Dorsey

Christianity, Judaism, Hinduism, and others have been comfortable for over two decades. Post-9/11, international attention focused on perceived Islam problems that supposedly breed violence.

What turned young Muslims into suicide bombers? What drives militancy and the willingness to sacrifice one’s life and those of innocent others? And what was it in Islam that produced supremacy, intolerance, and rejection of pluralism?

Desperation, disenfranchisement, marginalisation, frustration, and anger are only partial explanations.

To be sure, these factors played a role. But so did the ability to justify such attitudes in religious texts.

Even so, Muslim political and religious leaders and world leaders joined a chorus of voices insisting Islam was not part of the problem.

However, Indonesia’s Nahdlatul Ulama, the world’s largest and most moderate Muslim civil society movement, bucked the trend, insisting that Islam is part of the problem.

But equally important is Nahdlatul Ulama’s assertion that it is not just Islam that embraces legal concepts that are outdated, obsolete, and/or problematic today. The movement argues that this is equally true for most, if not all, religions.

In the case of Judaism, that has become more evident. This is not just with the rise of the most far-right, ultra-nationalist, and religiously ultra-conservative government in Israel’s history.

It has also become more evident in how Israel confronts the reality that a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has no shelf life and that a one-state solution is all that remains on the table and is already a reality.

That reality is unlikely to change. It is not temporary; it is permanent. So what needs to be decided and what is at the core of today’s struggle is what the nature of that state should and will be.

Scholars Michael Barnett, Nathan Brown, Marc Lynch, and ShibleyTelhami argued in a recent Foreign Affairs article entitled ‘Israel’s One-State Reality: It’s Time to Give Up on the Two-State Solution’ that “a one-state arrangement is not a future possibility; it already exists, no matter what anyone thinks. Between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River, one state controls the entry and exit of people and goods, oversees security, and has the capacity to impose its decisions, laws, and policies on millions of people without their consent.”

Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s vision of Israel may be grounded in militant nationalism rather than militant religion. This is despite paying lip service to a two-state solution and trying to project himself as the moderate voice in the extremist government he heads.

Even so, Mr. Netanyahu’s vision, at the very least, does not challenge militant religious Jewish claims to Palestinian lands. “Israel is not a state of all its citizens” but rather “of the Jewish people—and only it,” Mr. Netanyahu asserted in 2019, a year after the Knesset, the Israeli parliament, passed a law to that effect.

Moreover, the likelihood of the one state’s permanence has been decided by Israel’s self-defeating creation of facts on the ground, foremost among which Israeli Jewish settlements that make sustainable and legitimate Palestinian carve-outs impossible and lay the groundwork for the exercise of de facto Israeli sovereignty justified by an ultra-religious, nationalist, and supremacist interpretation of religious law.

When it comes to discriminatory and repressive policies towards the other, militant religious Zionism’s interpretation of Jewish religious law resembles in many ways the precepts of a militant Islamic state, even if it does not endorse or advocate the extremes of the Islamic State group whose murderous brutality, including beheadings and enforced slavery, shocked Jews and Muslims alike as well as adherents of other faith groups.

The religious Zionist concept of one state in Israel/Palestine is diametrically opposed to traditional notions of either a bi-national state in Israel/Palestine in which communities enjoy cultural autonomy or a civic state in which all have equal rights irrespective of ethnicity, race, or religion.

The religious Zionist approach to a one-state solution brings into sharp relief problematic tenets of Jewish religious law, the Halakha.

In effect, the emergence of a halachic approach reinforced by the rise of the current Israeli government is also a reflection of the failure of Zionism to create a state that caters to all Jews irrespective of their religiosity or social, political, and religious views rather than a state populated by a Jewish tribe that, perhaps necessarily, charts a course different from that of the majority of Jews who are not part of the state.

The focus on Jewish religious law further explains the seemingly arbitrary, humiliating, and unnecessary brutality and harshness of the Israeli occupation of Palestinian lands. This can only be understood by tracing its roots to religious Jewish legal concepts.

Like various forms of ultra-conservative Islam such as Wahhabism, jihadism in the shape of the Islamic State and Al Qaeda, and Hindu and Christian nationalism, militant, supremacist expressions of Judaism represented by religious Zionism in the way it is currently expressed demonstrate the risk of leaving unaltered problematic tenets in religious law.

“Language has weight. It matters,” said Foundation for Middle East Peace president Lara Friedman. Ms. Friedman countered arguments that the persecution of Jews was exceptional rather than on par with the oppression of other religious and ethnic communities, including the Palestinians.

Failure to reform religious jurisprudence allows religious militants, irrespective of faith, to justify their militancy, supremacy, and violence in theology and religious law.

In a seminar on religious law’s role in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Mohammed Abdelhafez Yousef Azzam, a Palestinian Sharia court judge, appeared to confirm Ms. Friedman’s assertion that words matter.

Applying supremacist concepts, the judge, wearing a red-topped white felt hat of a graduate of Al Azhar, the Cairo-based citadel of Islamic learning, argued that Islamic law precluded concluding a peace deal with Israel.

“There is no way to asserts there is something in Sunni doctrine to make peace,” Mr. Azzam said.

The judge was criticising the title of the seminar, ‘Building Peace Between Palestine and Israel, on the Basis of Sunni Islamic Jurisprudence for a Global Civilization (fiqh al-hadaraahl al-sunnahwa’l-jamaa’ah) and Jewish Law (Halakhah)’, because of its reference to Sunni Muslim jurisprudence as a basis for peace.

Mr. Azzam quoted Verse 4 of the Al-Isra Sura, also known as Bani Israel, of the Qur’an, viewed by Muslims as the word of God, which says: “You will surely cause corruption on the earth twice, and you will surely reach (a degree) of great haughtiness.”

The verse may refer to Jewish exceptionalism but prominent scholars interpreted it in starker terms.

Syed Abul A’la al-Maududi, a prominent 20th-century Islamist scholar, defined the Sura’s significance as admonishing disbelievers “to take a lesson from the miserable end of the Israelites and other communities and mend their ways within the period of respite given by Allah, which was about to expire….

“The Israelites…were warned, ‘Take advantage of the Prophethood of Muhammad (Allah’s peace be upon him) because that is the last opportunity which is being given to you. If even now you behave as you have been behaving, you shall meet with a painful torment,” Mr. Maududi said.

Like in the case of Mr. Azzam, whose views reflected problematic tenets of Islamic law, elements of the influence of equally problematic Jewish legal concepts were embedded in Zionist and Israeli attitudes towards Palestinians from day one. They also were entrenched in long-standing notions of Jewish identity.

“The Jewish people was always ethnocentric. It believes in the supremacy of its ethnic collective over other nations. This is a blatantly hierarchical conception, according to which the Jew is superior to the non-Jew. But throughout history, this was a supremacy that lacked the force of a state and an apparatus for wielding control over non-Jews,” said political scientist Menahem Klein.

Mr. Klein is one of several scholars who have charted the emergence of contemporary expressions of militant Judaism. Mr. Klein labels it Jewish messianism and categorises it as “a new Judaism.”

Mr. Klein argued that “this new Judaism was not shaped in the beit midrash (study hall of the Torah) as classical Judaism was, but within the framework of a dominant Israeli regime in general and rule over the Palestinians in particular. The ethnocentrism evolved from a form of self-awareness into a modus operandi, from a universal mission into oppression and occupation.”

“Jewish messianism has undergone a transformation. Classic Jewish literature depicted the advent of a messianic age following a catastrophe or great crisis, the birth pangs of the Messiah, a war of Gog and Magog. All those elements are part of the messianic transition from the realm of history into one that transcends history,” Mr. Klein said.

“In contrast, the new Jewish messianism is a product of historical success, the achievement of Jewish sovereignty, and the wielding of power over non-Jewish surroundings,” the political scientist went on to say.

Israeli-born sociologist Gideon Shafir has charted what he describes as an evolution from a perceived secular Jewish privilege that justified a claim to Palestine based on religion, ethnicity, and/or race to notions of Jewish supremacy rooted in Jewish religious law as articulated by members of Israel’s current government and proponents of militant religious Zionism.

Both scholars’ research is significant as religion and religious law take centre stage in Israeli claims to all of Palestine. The territorial claims and treatment of Palestinians shine a spotlight on Jewish religious legal precepts, much like the 9/11 attacks did with Islam.

For now, religious Zionism informs Israel’s militant nationalist, ultra-religious, and settler communities. The degree to which that reflects sentiments among a majority of the Israeli public remains unclear. This is even if recent mass protests against Prime Minister Netanyahu’s judicial overhaul failed to take into account Palestinian concerns.

A recent Israeli television Channel 13 opinion poll suggested that if elections were held today, Mr. Netanyahu’s Likud party would lose 12 of its 32 seats in parliament. Seventy-one percent of those polled said Mr. Netanyahu performed poorly as prime minister.

Ultra-nationalist and ultra-religious parties would fare better, losing only five of their 25 seats in parliament. In other words, they represent a committed minority of 20 per cent of the Israeli primarily Jewish public, a substantial minority but a minority.

Even so, according to the polls, Mr. Netanyahu’s coalition would not emerge from new elections with a parliamentary majority.

The numbers are significant beyond the perspective they cast on the trajectory of Israeli policies hardening on the occupied West Bank and Israel’s borders with Gaza, Lebanon, and Syria.

For now, the numbers suggest that religious ultra-conservatism has made significant inroads in reshaping religious Zionism but has yet to secure buy-in from Israel’s majority secular and traditional electorate.

It may also have yet to secure acceptance among more moderate religious Zionists. This is even though religious Zionists agree, in the words of Israeli religious Zionist writer Ehud Neor that “Israel is not a nation-state in Western terms. It’s a fulfilment of Biblical prophecy that Jewish people were always meant to be in the Holy Land and to follow the Holy Torah, and by doing so, they would be a light unto the world.”

Speaking to the author, Mr. Neor went on to say that “there is a global mission to Judaism. We’ve been forced to think of it that way because of the exile and the trauma of 2000 years of persecution. The idea is that there is an ideology behind this religious belief. It’s a religious approach that is also a political ideology.”

Nevertheless, the emergence of religiously anchored concepts of Jewish supremacy has potentially far-reaching consequences for resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, particularly as the fiction of a possible two-state solution sinks in and Israelis and Palestinians accept that they are condemned to live in one state.

The question is what impact that realization will have on Israeli public opinion and, more importantly, what kind of state it will imagine.

“In the 21st century, the expansion of the settlements and the transformation of the Palestinian Authority into a subcontractor of Israel has resulted in a single regime between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea. The settlements are not built ‘there,’ far away; they are ‘here.’ This is, in effect, a regime of Jewish supremacy. The number of Jews living under that system is roughly equal to or slightly less than the number of Palestinians,” Mr. Klein noted.

“Jewish supremacy is also the response to the challenge posed by Palestinians who are Israeli citizens. Their increasing integration into the Jewish-controlled public domain and labor market, even as they emphasize their indigenous Palestinian identity, and their collaboration with Jewish civil society organizations, are giving rise to a hybrid reality for them as well. This is an ethnic-civil hybridity,” Mr. Klein went on to say.

“Although these Palestinians are discriminated against, their citizenship is secure and thus threatens the ethnic underpinnings of the regime,” he added.

Men like Israeli National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir and Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich envision a religious Jewish state grounded in Jewish religious law where, ideally, Palestinians would disappear but, more realistically, be discriminated against, politically repressed, second-class citizens.

In hindsight, the evolution from secularism toward religiously justified Jewish supremacy may have been inevitable.

An evolving emphasis on different religious texts characterizes the evolution. The secular Labour movement and the left, which initially dominated Israel for its first several decades, sought religious grounding in the Talmud, the primary rabbinical source of religious law and theology.

In contrast to the Tanakh or Hebrew Bible, the Talmud focuses less on the history of Jewish life in the Land of Israel in Antiquity. The Hebrew Bible’s focus makes it more of a guiding text for religious Zionists and ultra-nationalists like Messrs. Ben-Gvir and Smotrich.

“A sovereign state with a large Jewish majority could not have existed without the ethnic cleansing carried out in the 1948 war and its aftermath. Back then, a new form of Judaism had already started to take on form and substance. That process was accelerated after 1967 with the establishment of the settlements. In school textbooks, the Books of Joshua, Judges, and Kings supplanted those of the prophets who had preached social justice and a moral regime – Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Amos,” Mr. Klein noted.

The transition from privilege to supremacy, described by Mr. Shafir, the sociologist, was fuelled by Israel’s 1967 conquest of Arab lands and the rise a decade later of right-wing leader Menahem Begin who envisioned the occupied West Bank as the biblical lands of Judea and Samaria rather than the building blocks of a future Palestinian state.

The transition raised tricky legal questions for religious Zionist rabbis and scholars. While the harsh commandments of conquest codified in Maimonides’s 12th century Mishne Torah barred a return to Arab sovereignty of occupied land, the status of the territories’ inhabitants needed to be defined, according to Mr. Shafir.

Did they qualify as gertoshav, resident aliens, and on what conditions? Were they idolaters, or did they observe the seven commandments of the Sons of Noah that constitute principles imposed on non-Jews? Did residents need to recognise Jewish supremacy? If so, was it still necessary to make them ‘wretched and humiliated’ following Maimondes’ commandments, and how does one do that? What is the fate of the residents if they did not qualify as gertoshav and therefore had no right to remain on the territory?

Israelis evaded answering these questions before the capture in 1967 of the West Bank, Gaza, and Jerusalem. They were effectively fudged as Israel tried to figure out how to deal with a non-Jewish minority within its legal borders. The willingness and ability to continue to do so post-1967 was fundamentally altered by the demographics of the conquest of land that held great significance for religious nationalists.

Fudging issues was no longer an option. Instead, the conquest set off a process in Judaism not unlike the impact of Muslim religious forces’ political and social involvement in the search for a social order in Muslim-majority lands that accommodated both Islam and modernity with similar outcomes.

Militant religious Zionism’s halakhic state is not that different from concepts of an Islamic state’s notions of the caliphate, and political Islamic and jihadist thinking, regarding what it means for the majority of the population as well as minorities.

The process of building support for notions of a Jewish or an Islamic theocracy involved ensuring that a politicized religion played an ever more important role in identity.

Much like in the Islamic State, politicization involved territorial ambition. In militant religious Zionist views of a Jewish state grounded in the Halakha, this meant an Israel that controlled the land of ancient Israel in which there would be no place, indeed no equitable place, for non-Jews.

Opportunity and necessity beckoned militant religious Zionism with the 1967 war conquests because control was no longer a theoretical issue. The commandment to inherit and settle the land of Israel could no longer be shoved to the sidelines.

As a result, it became the battering ram in what was a struggle between religious Zionism’s halakhic notions of the Land of Israel versus the secular Zionist concepts of a State of Israel.

It was a battle that was fought, unlike discussions in Islam about the nature of an Islamic state, in which legal debate about the rules that govern statecraft, warfare, and policies towards minorities had stagnated for more than a millennium because they were of no relevance to a community that did not control a state and land of its own and was a minority in its own right.

“There is no precedent in Jewish history for the existence of a Jewish state that constitutes a regional power and rules another people. Never before has the Jewish people possessed a combination like this of sovereignty, power, and control, which are being exploited to oppress another people,” said Mr. Klein, the political scientist.

American Rabbi Brant Rosen, a co-founder of the Jewish Voices for Peace Rabbinical Council and former president of the Reconstructionist Rabbinical Association, noted that “Judaism was always a Diaspora-focussed religion. Jews have always lived throughout the Diaspora… The question is, how do we ensure Jewish safety? Is it through nationalism, through ethnic nationalism?… Jewish safety at the expense of safety of other people is not safety at all.”

Religious Zionists had little, if anything, to help them come to grips with the immense changes in the structure and legitimacy of the state since Maimonides codified Jewish law in the 12th century.

The codification represented a worldview that did not bode well for Jews or non-Jews, certainly not in a 21st-century world. Yet, Maimonides’ 14-volume magnus opus constituted legal ground zero for them.

Maimonides codified Jewish concepts that influenced Muslim legal thinking and have been retained in Judaism and Islam even though they were no longer appropriate or fit for purpose.

The halakhic notion of the gertoshav was not all that different from the notion of the dhimmi but suddenly had taken on a relevance it had not had for a thousand years.

Like the dhimmi, the gertoshav was expected to pay tribute. Also, like the dhimmi, the gertoshav did not enjoy equal rights.

Maimonides argued in favor of the subjugation of the gertoshav that needed to be “demeaning and humiliating.” Residents were not allowed to lift their heads against Israel or be offered preferential treatment.

The modern-day religious Zionist interpretation of these principles means that the Israeli government must demand that gertoshav or residents recognise Jewish sovereignty and Israel as a Jewish state. Refusal to do so would deprive them of the right to reside on the land, a principle creeping into Israeli policies.

The Israeli-Palestinian conflict has become a zero-sum game; it’s ‘us against them.’ A one-state solution with equal treatment and protection for all is no longer feasible if militant religious Zionism gets its way.

Common wisdom says what is needed is pressure on Israel, particularly from the United States and Europe. No doubt, pressure helps, but much like Nahdlatul Ulama has taken the lead in tackling head-on legal, ideological, and religious issues that make Islam part of the problem rather than the solution, Jews will have to do the same for Judaism.

9/11 put Islam’s problems on the front burner. Israel and Jews could face a similar situation as circumstances in the occupied territories, including East Jerusalem, as a result of Israeli policies spin out of control.

Author’s note: This article is based on remarks by the author at an April 13, 2023 seminar in Jakarta entitled ‘Building Peace Between Palestine and Israel, on the Basis of Sunni Islamic Jurisprudence for a Global Civilization (fiqh al-hadaraahl al-sunnahwa’l-jamaa’ah) and Jewish Law (Halakhah)’ The seminar was organised by Nahdlatul Ulama and Universitas Islam Internasional Indonesia.

Source: moderndiplomacy.eu

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Pakistan

 

Reclusive Taliban Leader, Hibatullah Akhundzada, Releases End-Of-Ramadan Message

April 18, 2023

ISLAMABAD — The reclusive top leader of the Taliban released a message Tuesday lauding the changes in Afghanistan since the Taliban takeover and the measures they imposed after seizing the country following two decades of war.

The statement from Hibatullah Akhundzada was made public ahead of the Eid al-Fitr holiday later this week that marks the end of the fasting Muslim month of Ramadan.

Akhundzada, an Islamic scholar, rarely appears in public or leaves the Taliban heartland in Afghanistan’s southern Kandahar province. He surrounds himself with other religious scholars and allies who oppose education and work for women.

In recent months, Akhundzada appears to have taken a stronger hand in directing domestic policy, banning girls’ education after the sixth grade and barring Afghan women from public life and work, especially for non-governmental organizations and the United Nations.

The message was distributed in five languages: Arabic, Dari, English, Pashto and Urdu. The Taliban, Akhundzada says, have taken “significant reform measures” in culture, education, the economy, media and other fields.

“The bad intellectual and moral effects of the 20-year occupation are about to finish,” he said and extolled “living in the light” of Sharia, or Islamic law.

This, he instructed Afghans, would lead to the “well-being of our world and the hereafter, as well as eternal happiness, success and salvation of our society.”

Despite initial promises of a more moderate rule than during their previous stint in power in the 1990s, the Taliban have imposed harsh measures since seizing Afghanistan in August 2021 as U.S. and NATO forces were pulling out.

The Taliban have also barred women from public spaces, like parks and gyms, and cracked down on media freedoms. The measures have triggered a fierce international uproar, increasing the country’s isolation at a time when its economy has collapsed — and worsening a humanitarian crisis.

Akhundzada reiterated his call for other countries to stop interfering in Afghanistan’s internal affairs, and said Afghans should not rely on others for rebuilding and reconstruction efforts. He stressed that the main goal of the Taliban struggle was implementing Islamic law in Afghanistan.

Tuesday’s message came just days after the Taliban shared a rare, months-old audio message from Akhundzada in which he purportedly says that Afghanistan would be “ruined” without justice handed out by the country’s new rulers.

Source: washingtonpost.com

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Pakistan Bar CouncilWarns Of Action If SC Doesn’t Drop Bar On NA-Cleared Bill

April 18, 2023

ISLAMABAD: A representative conference of the Pakistan Bar Council (PBC) on Monday threatened to launch a countrywide movement if the Supreme Court failed to recall its April 13 suspension of the proposed Supreme Court Practice and Procedure Act 2023.

The gathering attended by the representatives of all the bar councils, including the Supreme Court and High Court Bar Associations, also appealed to the apex court to show restraint rather than becoming part of an accelerating political crisis and allow time to political forces to resolve the prevalent issues.

The meeting was held at the PBC offi­­ce inside the Supreme Court building.

The announcement was made by PBC vice chairman Haroonur Rashid, executive committee chairman Hassan Raza Pasha and former SCBA president Mohammad Ahsan Bhoon after the conference in which 49 members of different bar councils and associations participated, either physically or through video link.

The conference announced that Tuesday (April 18) would be observed as ‘black day’ to protest suspension of the Supreme Court Practice and Procedure Act, 2023 and called an all Pakistan convention under the auspices of PBC, to be hosted by the Balochistan Bar Council, on April 29.

A resolution, adopted by the conference, questioned the filing of a petition under Article 184(3) even before the proposed act came into effect and passing of interim orders suspending the proposed law by a bench that was made of “choice” judges by excluding the senior most judges of the Supreme Court.

The conference highlighted that six judges in the bench were those whose appointments were always questioned by the legal fraternity as well as by members of the Judicial Commission of Pakistan (JCP) since these selections were made by violating the principal of seniority and without laying down any criteria by amending the rules of JCP, as being demanded for the last several years.

For the last two decades, the representative conference recalled, the legal fraternity has been seeking amendment to the Supreme Court Rules, 1980, with respect to the exercise of powers by the Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) on frequently taking suomotu notices under Article 184(3), which also include discretionary powers regarding constitution of benches and fixation of cases in urgent matters, so also the right of litigants to change a counsel in review matters.

A resolution adopted at the end of the conference highlighted that legal fraternity was also continuously demanding the right of appeal against the orders passed under Article 184(3) as it is enshrined in the Islamic injunctions.

The legal fraternity is consistently demanding the SC amend its rules and on failure to do so, the community has been appealing to parliament to frame the law in this respect.

The conference was of the considered view that the bill about amendments to the apex court procedure was passed by parliament on the unanimous and consistent demand of the legal fraternity, which proposes that the act will serve the interest of the public at large and advance the principal of independence of judiciary.

Besides, the conference took serious note of the holding of the so-called “round table conference” by some of the “politically motivated and disgruntled elements” of the Bar with political motives.

The resolution welcomed the withdrawal of the curative review against Justice Qazi Faez Isa, filed by the previous government but also showed its concern since no final order was being passed by the CJP despite appearance of Attorney General for Pakistan to pursue the withdrawal of the application.

Source: dawn.com

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https://www.dawn.com/news/1748252/pbc-warns-of-action-if-sc-doesnt-drop-bar-on-na-cleared-bill

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Judge threatening case: Islamabad court issues bailable arrest warrant for Imran Khan

By ArfaFerozZake

April 18, 2023

ISLAMABAD: A court in Islamabad on Tuesday issued bailable arrest warrants for Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairperson Imran Khan in the female judge threatening case.

During today’s hearing, prosecutor Raja Rizwan Abbasi informed Judicial Magistrate Malik Aman that the court had summoned the PTI chief in a "personal capacity". He also revealed that the former prime minister’s plea for personal exemption was rejected.

“Imran Khan’s non-bailable arrest warrant should be issued as bailable ones have already been issued,” Abbasi said, asking if a convict other than Khan was meted out with such a treatment.

The prosecutor added that an appeal is always filed on behalf of the PTI chief over the warrants; however, he does not appear in the court himself.

The court then took a recess till Khan’s lawyer arrived in court.

Once the hearing resumed, Khan’s lawyer Faisal Chaudhry informed the court that Islamabad High Court (IHC) was hearing bail pleas in multiple cases. He added that his client was unable to walk properly due to his leg injury and that the court also has to look after his client’s security.

The judge remarked that the PTI chief’s plea of seeking exemption from the hearing has already been dismissed.

At this, Chaudhry responded that it was a new day and a new one must be filed.

Meanwhile, the report on the implementation of the warrant was also submitted to the court today.

On this, Khan’s lawyer Ali Bukhari told the court that his client does not live in Banigala and that next time the warrants should be served at his client’s Zaman Park residence in Lahore.

The lawyers then also submitted a plea seeking the exemption from hearing to the court.

The judge then took a recess for the second time and resumed hearing on the arrival of the prosecutor Abbasi. After hearing all the arguments, the court issued the warrants and directed the PTI chief to submit surety bonds worth Rs20,000 while adjourning the hearing till May 25.

The court further directed the authorities concerned that the court orders be sent to Zaman Park.

The case

A case had been registered against the former prime minister under the Anti-Terrorism Act for threatening Additional Sessions Judge Zeba Chaudhry and senior police officers of the Islamabad police during a public rally in August last year.

The IHC had then started contempt of court proceedings against the former prime minister.

Later on, the high court removed the terror charges and also pardoned the PTI chief after he had tendered an apology in the contempt case.

But a similar case had been filed against the PTI chief — after the registration of the first information report (FIR) against him — and is still pending before the sessions court.

Source: thenews.com.pk

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https://www.thenews.com.pk/latest/1062052-judge-threatening-case-islamabad-court-issues-bailable-arrest-warrant-for-imran-khan

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KP Governor seeks philanthropists’ support for deserving families during Ramadan

April 18, 2023

Governor Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Haji Ghulam Ali has asked philanthropists to come forward and help deserving families during Ramazan and Eid-ul-Fitr.

He said this during visit of historical mosque of Peshawar Qasim Ali Khan.

Source: radio.gov.pk

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https://www.radio.gov.pk/18-04-2023/kp-governor-seeks-philanthropists-support-for-deserving-families-during-ramadan

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Security of markets, mosques intensified

April 18, 2023

LAHORE:

Police have been put on high alert for ensuring security of sensitive places across Punjab during the last week of Ramazan.

Inspector General of Police (IG) Dr Usman Anwar has issued orders to deploy additional personnel for the security of religious and public places, including markets, and other sensitive points.

He said the arrangements should be made under a comprehensive strategy for the security of Taraweeh prayers and MohafilShabinah in mosques.

In his instructions, he asked for ensuring better patrolling and effective use of modern technology so that no family going for Eid shopping would face any threat.

He said the families going out for shopping should not be disturbed by the activities of anti-social elements. The police teams should take care of the security and convenience of the families in the markets, he added.

He said the sense of security should be promoted in the society by arresting robbers, bandits, miscreants, hooligans, vagrants and miscreants.

The IG stressed that the security of citizens withdrawing money from banks, automated teller machines (ATM) and other financial service providers should be given special attention.

He said the police could double the joy of the religious festival by providing the citizens a peaceful environment for Eid shopping.

Meanwhile, Nawab Town police arrested five men suspected of being involved in looting citizens withdrawing money from banks.

The arrested suspects were identified as Sheraz, Amir Hamza, Bilal, Shehroz and Ali Bilal.

The police recovered Rs400,000 in cash, mobile phones and illegal weapons from their possession.

Police investigation officials claimed that the suspects had been found involved in a number of cases of robbing citizens withdrawing money from banks.

Their latest crime was robbing a citizen, Khalil, the officials said, adding that investigations into the cases were under way.

As part of the heightened security, over 5,000 police personnel were deployed across the provincial capital on Shab-e-Qadr.

Lahore Capital City Police Officer (CCPO) Bilal Siddique Kamyana said the forced would ensure security of mosques and markets.

Snippers have been deployed at vantage points of sensitive places.

The Dolphin Squad, Police Response Unit (PRU) and police vehicles continued areas surrounding the worship place and markets.

Police officials said checking of vehicles at entry and exit points of the city had also been intensified and all SPs had been instructed to visit the places deemed sensitive to review the security arrangements.

Speaking to The Express Tribune, a police official said the security challenges increased during the shopping season and the department had to deal with a rise in the number of robberies.

Amid rush at the markets, the police have to maintain law and order, as well as a conducive environment, especially for women, he said, adding that withdrawal of money from banks also increases ahead of the Eid holidays.

The police had to make additional security arrangements on the roads, in markets and near bank branches and ATMs to protect the citizens, the official added.

He also cited the prevailing security and political situation as a cause for increased responsibilities of the force.

Source: tribune.com.pk

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https://tribune.com.pk/story/2412508/security-of-markets-mosques-intensified

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PM hosts Iftar-dinner in honour of diplomatic corps of Muslim states

April 18, 2023

Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif on Monday said that Pakistan would always remember the timely and valuable support of its “brotherly Muslim countries during the disastrous floods in the country.”

The prime minister made these remarks while addressing an Iftaar dinner hosted in the honour of diplomatic corps of Muslim countries in Islamabad.

PM Shehbaz Sharif said that Pakistan suffered unprecedented floods because of cli mate change while a massive earthquake wreaked havocs in Turkiye and Syria.

The premier said the world had witnessed a rough period and one could see what happened in global markets. “Prices of oil and other items had gone beyond the reach of developing countries including Pakistan and other countries”, he noted.

He said the Pakistani government was grateful to Islamic countries including Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Kuwait and Malaysia for very valuable and timely assistance for the flood affectees.

Every Muslim country came to help Pakistan at a difficult period and “we will remember your support for all times to come”, he remarked.

Referring to restorations of relations between Saudi Arabia and Iran, he termed it a remarkable achievement and said the positive development was seen by Pakistan with happiness and hope.

“Because of the blessings of Ramazan, Saudi Arabia, and Iran have bridged their differences and this is a remarkable achievement,” he added.

Source: pakobserver.net

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https://pakobserver.net/pm-hosts-iftar-dinner-in-honour-of-diplomatic-corps-of-muslim-states/

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PM Shehbaz calls huddle to discuss Jamat-e-Islami's offer for dialogue

By Ayaz Akbar Yousafzai & Our Correspondent

April 18, 2023

ISLAMABAD: In a positive development, the allied parties on Tuesday will discuss the current political situation and Jamat-e-Islami’s (JI) bid for talks with the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), Geo News reported citing sources.

The meeting, called by Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, will mull over the prevailing political and constitutional crises and take decisions in this regard.

The huddle is scheduled to take place at 3:30pm at the PM House.

The sources shared that the prime minister will consult with the allied parties after the meeting with JI chief Sirajul Haq — who has offered to hold an all-parties conference after Eid ul Fitr to end the impasse between the government and Imran Khan-led PTI.

The issue of the Supreme Court's order to release Rs21 billion for elections in Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa will also come under discussion.

The State Bank of Pakistan was directed by the apex court to release funds directly to the Election Commission of Pakistan by April 17 and submit a report in this regard on April 18 (today).

However, the National Assembly has once again rejected the motion to grant permission to the central bank to release funds.

PPP delegation meets coalition partners

meanwhile, a three-member delegation of the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) held separate meetings with Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), Awami National Party (ANP), Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid (PML-Q) and Balochistan Awami Party (BAP) on Monday.

During the meeting with PML-N leaders, Senator Yousuf Raza Gilani said the situation is tense and the collision between the institutions is not in the country’s interest.

Speaking on the occasion, Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah said that the politics of stubbornness and selfishness has led the country to crisis, and it is the responsibility of the political parties to improve the situation through dialogue.

‘Dialogue better for Constitution, democracy’

Talking to the media persons here in Islamabad after the meeting with ANP leaders, former PM Gilani said they are holding talks on the instructions of PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari and former president Asif Ali Zardari.

He said the ANP always rendered sacrifices for the restoration of democracy and rule of law. Gilani said the basic purpose of the Constitution was that all institutions would exercise their powers within their constitutional domain.

“The PPP wants to make a conducive environment for dialogue among the political parties, as all the problems being faced by the county will be addressed through the dialogue process,” he added.

Gilani said the masses were looking to the political parties in the current political and economic situation.

He said there was no concept of economic stability sans political equilibrium in the country and therefore it was the best strategy to hold dialogue with the political parties especially those who were allies of the government.

ANP Secretary General Mian Iftikhar Hussain thanked the PPP delegation for approaching them for dialogue.

He said the political parties will have to join hands for the supremacy of the parliament and to ensure that all institutions work in their domain.

Source: thenews.com.pk

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https://www.thenews.com.pk/latest/1062036-pm-shehbaz-calls-huddle-to-discuss-jamat-e-islamis-offer-for-talks

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Southeast Asia

 

Muslims around the world consider climate during Ramadan

April 17, 2023

By Mariam Fam, Edna Tarigan

JAKARTA, Indonesia (AP) — In the heart of Jakarta, the grand Istiqlal Mosque was built with a vision for it to stand for a thousand years.

The mosque was conceived by Soekarno, Indonesia’s founding father, and was designed as an impressive symbol for the country’s independence. Its seven gates — representing the seven heavens in Islam — welcome visitors from across the archipelago and the world into the mosque’s lofty interior.

But they don’t just see the light here. It fuels them.

A major renovation in 2019 installed upwards of 500 solar panels on the mosque’s expansive roof, now a major and clean source of Istiqlal’s electricity. And this Ramadan, the mosque has encouraged an energy waqf — a type of donation in Islam that continues to bear fruit over time — to grow its capacity to make renewable power.

Her Pramtama, deputy head of the Ri’ayah — or building management — division of Istiqlal Mosque, hopes that Islam’s holiest month, when the faithful flock to mosques in greater numbers, can provide momentum to Istiqlal’s solar project through donations.

The mosque’s climate push is just one example of different “Green Ramadan” initiatives in Indonesia and around the world that promote an array of changes during the Muslim holy month, which has fasting and, in many cases, feasting elements as people gather to break their fasts.

In a month where restraint and charity are emphasized, recommendations can include using less water while performing the ritual washing before prayers, replacing plastic bottles and cutlery during community iftars with reusable ones and reducing food waste. Other suggestions include carpooling to mosques, using local produce, emphasizing recycling and using donations to fund clean energy projects.

For the world to limit the effects of climate change — which is already causing worsening droughts, floods and heat waves — the use of dirty fuels for electricity and transport, petrochemicals to make products like plastics and the emissions from food waste in landfills all need to be drastically slashed, scientists say. Though individual initiatives are just a small part of that transition, experts say growing momentum behind climate goals can have an effect.

Groups taking an Islamic-based approach often highlight environmental understandings of certain Quranic verses and sayings and practices of Prophet Muhammad about the earth, water and against wastefulness.

Last year, at a meeting of the Muslim Congress for Sustainable Indonesia, the country’s vice president Ma’ruf Amin called on clerics and community leaders “to play an active role in conveying issues related to environmental damage” and asked for concrete action on climate change including through donations to solar projects like those at Istiqlal Mosque.

Muhammad Ali Yusuf, a board member at the faith-based Nahdlatul Ulama’s Institution for Disaster Management and Climate Change in Indonesia, said spreading awareness about clean energy is a “shared responsibility” for Muslims, where mosques’ own solar panel installations can be catalysts toward a greater transition.

In the United States and Canada, environmental groups that began springing up in Muslim communities in the mid-2000s independently from one another formed “green Muslim understandings” from within their religious traditions, according to Imam SaffetCatovic, a U.S. Muslim community environmental activist.

“In some cases, the mosques were receptive to it,” he said. In others, mosque leaders, “didn’t fully understand” the drive, he added.

Ramadan offers a “possibility for ecological training that’s unique to the Muslim community,” Catovic said. “Thirty days allow someone to change their habits.”

The Islamic Society of North America website calls on Muslims to be “an eco-friendly community”, saying looking after the environment is “based upon the premise that Islam has ordained us to be the stewards and protectors of this planet.”

Some mosques and Muslims around the world are heeding such calls, one small step at a time.

Ahead of Ramadan this year, the mosque at Al Ma’hadul Islamic Boarding School in Indonesia received solar panels through Islamic donations, supplying enough energy for the mosque’s entire needs. The electricity from the solar panels also lights up schools and roads in the vicinity.

The Nizamiye Mosque in Johannesburg, South Africa, with its towering minarets and spacious interior, has a roof dotted with domes and solar panels that help keep the power on at the mosque and its surrounding schools, clinic and bazaar.

The 143 panels cover over a third of the complex’s energy use in a country that has struggled in recent years to provide enough electricity through its strained grid.

In Edison, New Jersey, Masjid Al-Wali¸ a mosque and community center, has been adopting changes such as selling reusable water bottles to members at cost and installing more water coolers to discourage the use of disposable plastic bottles, said board member AkilMansuri.

“Preserving the environment is the Islamically right thing to do,” Mansuri said. “People accept the message, but adoption is always slower.”

Several years ago, Masjid Al-Wali, whose activities include an Islamic school and monthly community dinners, installed solar panels.

Meals this Ramadan for the mosque’s community iftars come in plastic pre-packaged boxes for now, Mansuri said. But mosque leaders encourage members to take leftovers and reuse the boxes, instead of throwing them away, he said, adding he hopes alternatives can be found next Ramadan.

In the United Kingdom, Projects Against Plastic, a Bristol-based charity, is leading a plastic-free Ramadan campaign.

“I feel like, as a Muslim, that mosques are the hub of the communities and they should take a little bit more leading role for sustainability and toward recycling,” PAP founder Naseem Talukdar said. “During the month of Ramadan is where I’ve really seen a ridiculous amount of plastic being used and thrown away.”

Mosques are urged to raise awareness on plastic pollution and reduce reliance on single-use plastic. Seven Bristol mosques participated in a pilot project last year, with varying results, and a national campaign, with more than 20 participating mosques, was rolled out this year.

Besides education, another challenge is when mosques don’t have enough funds to buy reusable cutlery, dishwashers and water fountains.

“We knew we were going to hit some hard walls and some pushbacks, but, to be honest, the engagement that we’ve seen so far, it was a little overwhelming,” Talukdar said. “Even though the progress is slow, but there’s a real appetite for this kind of initiative within the mosque.”

Ummah for Earth, an alliance-led initiative that aims to empower Muslim communities facing climate change, is urging people to pledge to adopt one eco-friendly practice during Ramadan. Options include asking an imam to address environmental issues, donating to environmental charities and shopping sustainably.

“Many Muslims are not aware that there are environmental teachings in the Quran and the sayings of the prophet and that they have a role that they can play to protect the planet,” said NouhadAwwad, Beirut-based campaigner and global outreach coordinator for the Ummah for Earth project at Greenpeace MENA.

As they work to raise awareness, campaigners often encounter the argument that climate change is “destined” and that “you cannot change God’s destiny,” Awwad said.

“We’re trying to change the narrative,” she said. “We have things that we can do on an individual level, on a community level and on a political level.”

___

Fam reported from Winter Park, Florida.

___

Associated Press religion coverage receives support through the AP’s collaboration with The Conversation US, with funding from Lilly Endowment Inc. The AP is solely responsible for this content.

___

Associated Press climate and environmental coverage receives support from several private foundations. See more about AP’s climate initiative here. The AP is solely responsible for all content.

Source: religionnews.com

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https://religionnews.com/2023/04/17/muslims-around-the-world-consider-climate-during-ramadan/

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Heinz ABC Collaborates with the Moms of Indonesia to Launch its Latest Ramadan Campaign

While most Indonesians enjoy their Ramadan together, some people find themselves feeling alone at this time of year, especially those who move to the bigger cities for work or education. During the festive period, many people find themselves desperately missing home and craving the warmth of a mom-made meal.   

To spread the warmth and joy of Ramadan, PT Heinz ABC Indonesia (‘ABC’) in partnership with Food Bank of Indonesia, Alfamart, Tokopedia, Aqua, Grab and Aladin has created #ABCDapurBersamaIbu (‘Kitchen with Mom’) – a uniquely designed open kitchen that serves meals made by the moms of Indonesia. And it’s available to those who need it the most.  

"As part of the company's global purpose ‘Let's Make Life Delicious’, we are committed not only to providing the best delicious products but also to instilling the value of goodness in everyday life. ABC has been around for over 47 years to accompany Indonesian families with programs embodying goodness and togetherness. We hope that this year's #ABCDapurBersamaIbu movement can further remind us of the power of a mother's kindness value and together continue the same kindness for a bigger impact," says Susanne Migchels, marketing and R&D director, Kraft Heinz Indonesia.

“At the heart of every Ramadhan are the meals that moms make. And it’s a universal truth that missing out on this meal is one of the things that drives that feeling of homesickness. The foundation on which this campaign was conceptualised was us thinking, ‘What if we could do just a little bit to drive away that homesickness?’ and it found a manifestation of its own in ABC DapurBersamaIbu,” said Netra Natrajan, associate creative director Leo Burnett Indonesia.

The #ABCDapurBersamaIbu movement has been running since 23 March and will finish on 19 April 2023, involving more than 800 members of the moms’ community through 133 community kitchens, including 35 food stalls, to prepare and distribute 125,000 mom-made meals for Sahur and Iftar to various vulnerable groups in society. Food distribution will be carried out on a scheduled basis using 6 units of food vans at more than 125 distribution points in 27 cities spread across 12 provinces in Java, Sumatra, Bali, Kalimantan, and Sulawesi

Source: lbbonline.com

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https://www.lbbonline.com/news/heinz-abc-collaborates-with-the-moms-of-indonesia-to-launch-its-latest-ramadan-campaign

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Indonesian brands, led by ABC, deliver the comfort of home to the lonely during Ramadan

By Danielle Long

APRIL 18, 2023

A host of Indonesia's leading brands have partnered to create a bring the warmth of a home-made meal to people through the Ramadan festive season.

Led by PT Heinz ABC, the Indonesian subsidiary of Kraft Heinz, in partnership with the Food Bank of Indonesia, Alfamart, Tokopedia, Aqua, Grab and Aladin, has created #ABCDapurBersamaIbu, which translates to ‘Kitchen with Mom’ – a uniquely designed open kitchen that serves meals made by the moms of Indonesia.

The initiative, which was created by Leo Burnett Indonesia, aims to bring the home-cooked meals that moms would create to Indonesians who are craving the taste and comfort of home during Ramadan.

The campaign aims to connect with Indonesians who have moved away from family for work or education and may feel lonely during the Ramadan festive period, says Susanne Migchels, marketing and R&D director, Kraft Heinz Indonesia.

"As part of the company's global purpose ‘Let's Make Life Delicious’, we are committed not only to providing the best delicious products but also to instilling the value of goodness in everyday life. ABC has been around for over 47 years to accompany Indonesian families with programs embodying goodness and togetherness.

"We hope that this year's #ABCDapurBersamaIbu movement can further remind us of the power of a mother's kindness value and together continue the same kindness for a bigger impact," says Migchels.

Netra Natrajan, associate creative director of Leo Burnett Indonesia, says, “At the heart of every Ramadhan are the meals that moms make. And it’s a universal truth that missing out on this meal is one of the things that drives that feeling of homesickness. The foundation on which this campaign was conceptualised was us thinking, ‘What if we could do just a little bit to drive away that homesickness?’ and it found a manifestation of its own in ABC DapurBersamaIbu.

The #ABCDapurBersamaIbu movement launched on 23 March and will finish tomorrow,19 April 2023. The initiative has included more than 800 members of the community through 133 community kitchens, including 35 food stalls, and has prepared and distributed 125,000 mom-made meals for Sahur and Iftar to various vulnerable groups in society.

Source: thedrum.com

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

https://www.thedrum.com/news/2023/04/18/indonesian-brands-led-abc-deliver-the-comfort-home-the-lonely-during-ramadan

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New Zealand

 

Linwood mosque hero joins delegation to King Charles' coronation

Apr 18 2023

When Abdul Aziz was told he would attend King Charles III’s coronation, he was both surprised and excited.

Aziz, known for his heroism during the March 15 Christchurch terror attack, will join the New Zealand delegation next month.

He was awarded New Zealand’s highest award, the New Zealand Cross, in 2021 for bravery during the 2019 terror attack. Aziz had been at the Linwood mosque with his four sons. He confronted and distracted the terrorist from harming others.

He ducked between parked cars to avoid gunshots, but continued to run after the terrorist, even as he drove off. Aziz had since been a praised but sometimes controversial figure, who had previously butted heads with community leaders.

“I’m looking forward to going and meeting them, and all the other delegates. I will pay my respects to them,” Aziz said of the coronation.

He had never been to England before, and hoped to connect with the family of a Linwood mosque victim who lived there.

Other delegation members include Governor-General Dame Cindy Kiro, Prime Minister Chris Hipkins, Opposition leader Christopher Luxon and the head of the Kīngitanga movement, KīngiTūheitiaPōtatauTeWherowhero VII, and his wife Makau Ariki Atawhai.

Richie McCaw will attend as the Order of New Zealand representative, and Willie Apiata as the Victoria Cross for New Zealand representative.

The coronation will be livestreamed on TVNZ1 and TVNZ+ at 10pm NZ time on May 6.

Source: stuff.co.nz

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https://www.stuff.co.nz/pou-tiaki/131803998/linwood-mosque-hero-joins-delegation-to-king-charles-coronation

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