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Islamic World News ( 20 Nov 2019, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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Gujarat: To Sanskrit, With Love from Muslim Guru: Muslim Students Chant Sanskrit Shlokas in Their Classes Every Morning







Gujarat: To Sanskrit, With Love from Muslim Guru: Muslim Students Chant Sanskrit Shlokas in Their Classes Every Morning

BHU Row: Muslim Prof's Father Sings Bhajans, Offers Namaz; Nobody Protests

Turkey To Turn Historic Orthodox Church Into A Mosque; Is Hagia Sophia Next?

Two Iranian Varsities Want to Set up Chair in Guru Nanak’s Name

Foundation against Islamophobia and Racism, New Muslim-Led Human Rights Organisation Launched In New Zealand

Pope Francis Embraces Muslim Leader Who Thinks Being Gay Is A ‘Disease’ Hours After Condemning Persecution Of Homosexuality

Interfaith Conversation Promotes Dialogue between Catholic, Muslim Leaders

Sudan PM Directs To Accommodate Non-Muslim Work Hours

Pakistan Re-Elected To Executive Board of UNESCO

Rohingya Violence: Aung San Suu Kyi to Lead Team To Fight Genocide Charges

Gunmen Assassinate Political Analyst Waheed Muzhda in Kabul City

Saudi King Blames Iran for ‘Chaos’, Says Strikes Failed to Hurt Kingdom’s Development

Compiled By New Age Islam News Bureau

URL: http://www.newageislam.com/islamic-world-news/new-age-islam-news-bureau/gujarat--to-sanskrit,-with-love-from-muslim-guru--muslim-students-chant-sanskrit-shlokas-in-their-classes-every-morning/d/120328

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India

Case Against Aligarh Muslim University Professor, Journalist Husband For Social Media Post On Kashmir: Police

Bengal to Kerala, Faultlines Deepen: Mamata Says Never, Oppn Slams Pan-India NRC

World's First Muslim Yoga Camp Begins In Uttarakhand's Kotdwar

Students Vs Students on BHU Campus over Muslim Sanskrit Professor's Appointment

Respite for nine Muslim youths who raised slogans against ex-Andhra Pradesh CM Chandrababu Naidu

Muslim League Discusses Ayodhya Verdict, NRC Issue With Sonia Gandhi

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Mideast

Israel shuts down Al-Rasasi Mosque in Jerusalem

• Israel heads toward unprecedented third election in 12 months

Israel strikes Iranian targets in Syria; 11 reported killed

Iran protests leave ‘over 100 dead,’ Amnesty says

Saudi king urges Iran to quit 'harmful' expansionism

President Rouhani: Rioters Supported by US, Israel

Iranians Rally to Display Support for Gov't against Riots

Iran: Several Dual-Nationals Arrested for Leading Riots

Arrested Outlaws in Central Iran Confess Links with Foreign Spy Agencies

Syrian Army Retakes Control of 5 New Points Along Borders with Turkey

Economic sanctions are testing the resilience of Iran's Islamic system

U.S. consulate staffers in southern Turkey detained for ‘insulting Islamic values’

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Australia and New Zealand

Muslim group donates $10,000 to NSW fire-fighters as bushfires continue to rage

Corrections apologise over mosque shooting accused's letters

Arms dealer who says he sold ammo to accused mosque shooter says gun restrictions 'effectively destroyed' business

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Europe

Heart-Warming Moment Muslim Group Travels To Bushfire-Ravaged Country Town And Donates $10k To Firefighters

UK Muslim Students Need Exam Adjustments during Ramadan

Student who called for Muslims to be 'wiped off the face of the earth' is facing jail

Muslim votes put Tory Islamophobia in the spotlight for crucial marginal seats

Muslim charity dishes out free curry to victims of Doncaster floods

UK Muslim voters: Let's make Rod Liddle's worst nightmares come true

Healthy Interactions Achieves Sustained Positive 5-Year Outcomes for People with Diabetes during Ramadan, New Research Finds

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North America

U.S. State Department Nominee Biegun Says China Action against Muslims 'Unacceptable'

Pope Francis Kicks off Asia Tour with Buddhist Temple Visit

Population Growth of Six Muslim Republics Far Exceeds Population Decline of Rest of Post-Soviet Space

Treasury Sanctions an Islamic State Network in Turkey – For the Third Time this Year

SEALs face review following death of Islamic State militant

Islamic State Exploited Turkey’s Syria Invasion, Drawdown of US Troops: Pentagon Report

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Africa

Islamic State claims responsibility for killing 30 Malian soldiers

Sudan arrests two Islamists over participation in al-Bashir’s coup

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Pakistan

Award for PM Imran Khan by UK Sikh groups

Nothing to worry about in foreign funding case, Imran assures PTI

Shaniera Akram wins hearts with remarks about Pakistan's National Anthem

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Southeast Asia

Myanmar Town Offers Glimmer of Hope For Muslims Enduring 'Apartheid'

Don’t like me? Then say so, Dr M chides absent MPs

74 terror suspects under detention after Medan bombing: Police Chief

Indonesian Islamic P2P lender Alami receives Series A funding, aims to triple financing for SMEs

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South Asia

Special Forces kill; detain 13 Taliban and ISIS militants in 4 provinces

Afghan forces clash with Taliban militants in two districts of Jawzjan

Karzai calls for early resumption of intra-Afghan talks following prisoners’ exchange

Trump hopes release of Western professors leads to ceasefire in Afghanistan

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Arab World

Mufti of Kosovo Appreciates the Efforts Of The Custodian Of The Two Holy Mosques In Serving Islam And Muslims And Defending Their Causes

Eight-Year-Old Yemeni Singer Enchants Arab World

Egypt: Resignation of Muslim presenter from Coptic TV channel sparks controversy

Al Khatib: Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques has been paying attention to Diriyah for more than 40 years

Rector of Imam Muhammad bin Saud Islamic University Receives Chargé d'Affaires of Somalia

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Gujarat: To Sanskrit, With Love from Muslim Guru: Muslim Students Chant Sanskrit Shlokas in Their Classes Every Morning

Nov 21, 2019

VADODARA: In the narrow by-lanes of minority-dominated Yakutpura area, several Muslim students chant Sanskrit Shlokas in their classes every morning. Their teacher Aabid Saiyad is quick to correct a slightest mistake while ensuring that all students enjoy learning the ancient language.

This has been 46-year-old Saiyad’s routine for the last 22 years ever since he became the teacher in MES Boys’s High School. But unlike professor Feroze Khan, who is facing bitter protests over his appointment in Benaras Hindu University’s (BHU) Sanskrit department, Saiyed has never faced resistance - neither from Hindus nor his own community.

The protests over Khan’s appointment have been raging for a fortnight now and the agitating group of students are flashing placards screaming ‘Muslims can’t teach Sanskrit,’ drawing condemnation from various quarters.

But Saiyad firmly believes that religion and faith can’t be an impediment to imparting knowledge. “Knowledge can be imparted by anybody and who teaches is not important until it is imparted in the right way. A non-Muslim too should be able to teach Arabic and vice-versa. Language is to be taught as a language,” said Saiyad, an MA in Sanskrit and English from Vallabh Vidyanagar-based Sardar Patel University.

Saiyad, who has grown up chanting Sanskrit shlokas in his own school days, has been conducting Sanskrit classes at this school since 1998. However, when he had joined as a teacher, only a handful of pupils opted for the ancient language.

“Now, there are 166 students in Class IX, almost all of them Muslims, who are learning Sanskrit,” said Saiyad, who urges youngsters to follow the moral teachings imbibed in the language to enrich their lives.

In fact, Saiyad’s daughter Izma Banu, a first-year student of MBBS at Baroda Medical College, had not only topped in her Class X exams in 2017, but also scored the highest in Sanskrit with 98% marks.

“I have been studying Sanskrit since Class V. I know everything be it ‘shlokas’, ‘nataks’, ‘hasyakhand’ and even ‘varta’. It is an easy subject. If Sanskrit is offered on higher levels, I will continue with the same subject,” said Sabina Mohammed Wahid Ansari, a class IX student of the school.

Mohammed Raeesh Kabutarwala, a Class X student wants to take up science and later pursue engineering. “But Sanskrit is one subject which has helped me improve my score. I have studied Sanskrit since primary and have good command over ‘shlokas’ and ‘natyakhand’,” he said.

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/vadodara/this-muslim-teacher-has-trained-hundreds-in-sanskrit-sans-protest/articleshow/72150324.cms

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BHU row: Muslim prof's father sings bhajans, offers namaz; nobody protests

November 21, 2019

The father of a Muslim professor whose appointment at the Banaras Hindu University's Sanskrit department has triggered a row himself sings bhajans at temples and serves at a cow shelter.

Nobody protests.

At a temple in the premises of Shree Ramdev Gaushala Chetanya Dham in Bagru, 35 kilometres from the Rajasthan capital, Ramzan Khan on Wednesday participated in the aarti, sitting at a harmonium and singing a devotional song.

Although the BHU has backed Feroze Khan, he has been unable to take classes over the past several days. The protesters say only a Hindu can teach Sanskrit at the university in Varanasi.

But a visit to Bagru, where the family lives in a modest three-room house, reveals that the professor grew up in an atmosphere immersed in Sanskrit and "Hindu traditions".

His father Ramzan Khan himself holds the Shastri qualification in Sanskrit, composes religious songs and performs 'gau sewa' at the nearby cattle shed. At the same time, he visits the mosque and offers namaz.

The local Hindu community as well as his own relatives are okay with this.

"I was very happy when my son was appointed at the prestigious Banaras Hindu University. The protest by students is unfortunate and I would like to urge the agitating students to recognise my son and see what kind of background he has," he said.

"My son wanted to learn Sanskrit like me so I got him admission at the school. He had the blessings of the teachers, acquired a high qualification and got selected at BHU," Khan told PTI on Wednesday.

"I am confident that if the students listen to him with patience and see his family background, they would be convinced and satisfied," he added.

Ramzan Khan has had a better deal than his son.

"I never faced discrimination on the basis of religion. We all live in brotherhood. I go to the mosque and often offer namaz, I go to the temple and do Krishna Bhakti and gau sewa," he said.

He said Sanskrit runs through his veins.

"My father also used to sing songs at temples. I learnt this from him. He made me learn Sanskrit and I also started dedicating time for gau sewa, and also composed songs. My time goes in Krishna and Bhagwad bhakti," he said.

At temples, he sings songs dedicated to Rama, Krishna, Shiva and other Hindu deities. Singing bhajans at temples and events like "jagrans" is also his source of livelihood.

Hindu seers in the area have come out in support of the family after the BHU row.

"This is very condemnable that a person who is highly qualified in Sanskrit and got appointed on merit is being opposed only because he is Muslim. This intolerance should be stopped," said Saurabh Raghvendracharya, a `sadhu' from the Raghunathdham temple near Bagru.

"All our religious functions and the temple aarti are incomplete without Ramzan Khan. People in large numbers turn up to listen to him. He does it all in dedication to Krishna bhakti and never expects anything in return," said Mohan Lal Sharma, a priest from another temple.

"He too is a Sanskrit scholar, serves cows and loves them," the priest added.

While Ramzan Khan meets people who call on him following the BHU protests, other family members appear reluctant to do so.

"I only want to convey that people should see the qualifications of my son instead of judging him on the basis of religion," he said.

https://www.indiatoday.in/india/story/bhu-row-muslim-prof-s-father-sings-bhajans-offers-namaz-nobody-protests-1621036-2019-11-21

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Turkey to Turn Historic Orthodox Church Into a Mosque; Is Hagia Sophia Next?

By Tasos Kokkinidis

Nov 21, 2019

Turkey’s Council of State, the country’s highest administrative court, has recently approved changing the historic Chora Greek Orthodox Church located in Istanbul, currently a museum, into a mosque.

Commentators say that sets the legal precedent for transforming the Hagia Sophia, the symbol of Byzantine and Orthodox Christianity, which is also currently an official museum, back into a mosque.

“An example to follow for Hagia Sophia,” ran the headline of Yeni Safak, a daily Islamo-conservative newspaper, which added that the cabinet would now have to decide whether to implement the ruling.

Turkey’s President Tayyip Recep Erdogan has threatened to do so on a number of occasions. Speaking recently of the possibility he said: “This is not unlikely. We might even change its name to Ayasofya Mosque.”

The Greek government at the time responded by saying that this represents an insult not only to Christians but to the international community.

Like the Hagia Sophia, the Chora Church is also serving as a museum in Istanbul. Under the Ottoman Empire the church was transformed into a mosque, and then in 1945 the church was again transformed, this time to the Kariye Museum.

However, a lawsuit filed in 2005 by the Association of Permanent Foundations and Service to Historical Artifacts and Environment challenged this decision. They claimed that as a mosque, it is a public immovable which belongs to the Fatih Sultan Mehmet Foundation. The recent decision by the Council of State affirms this belief.

The interior of the church, which was originally built as part of a monastery complex outside the walls of Constantinople, is covered with some of the oldest and finest surviving Byzantine mosaics and frescoes; they were uncovered and restored after the building was secularized and turned into a museum.

The powerful Byzantine statesman Theodore Metochites endowed the church with many of its fine mosaics and frescos. Theodore’s impressive decoration of the interior was carried out between 1315 and 1321. The mosaic-work is the finest example of the Palaeologian Renaissance.

The Chora Church is not as large as some of the other surviving Byzantine churches of Istanbul but it is unique among them, because of its almost completely still extant internal decoration.

The building divides into three main areas: the entrance hall or narthex, the main body of the church or naos, and the side chapel or parecclesion. The building has six domes: two in the esonarthex, one in the parecclesion and three in the naos.

During the last siege of Constantinople in 1453, the Icon of the Theotokos Hodegetria, considered the protector of the City, was brought to Chora in order to assist the defenders against the assault of the Ottomans. The Icon has since been lost.

https://eu.greekreporter.com/2019/11/21/turkey-to-turn-historic-orthodox-church-into-a-mosque-is-hagia-sophia-next/

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Two Iranian varsities want to set up Chair in Guru Nanak’s name

Nov 19, 2019

On the eve of the 550th Gurpurb, two Iran-based universities have desired to establish academic Chairs to conduct research on the life and teachings of the first Sikh Guru.

Another proposal from their side was to initiate the Sikh religious study programme in collaboration with the Iran-based universities.

University of Religion president Sayyid Abulhasan Navab and a representative of Al-Mustafa International University on Monday held a discussion with Akal Takht officiating Jathedar Giani Harpreet Singh to work on the modalities of installing the Chairs... ...Giani Harpreet Singh said to arrange literature and reference material, they had tied up with the Punjabi University, Patiala.

“Besides this, the SGPC will be directed to assist the Iranian scholars in collecting the information on the life, philosophy and vision of Guru Nanak. It was an honour for the Sikh community that our Guru’s message was being spread on a global platform by installing a dedicated Chair,” he added.

Syed Afroz Nazvis, an Iranian delegate, said besides setting up Chairs by the universities under the patronage of the Government of Islamic Republic of Iran, a detailed discussion was also done with Akal Takht Jathedar over a religious study programme proposed to understand the concept of Sikhism. “We proposed that there should be a Sikh religious study programme for Indian and Iranian intellectuals. Once, the MoU in this regard is finalised, the proposal will be submitted to the Iran government and subsequently, to the Indian government for getting the final nod,” he said.

Meanwhile, Pervinder Singh Chandhok, a Sikh citizen of Iran, said though the Sikhs comprise a miniscule population of the country, the government had accorded them all rights to observe the Gurpurbs and other religious ethics. He said the Iran sangat had initiated 600 ‘akhand path’ non-stop to mark the 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak, the bhog of which would be performed on Tuesday.

“I can say that the ‘shaan’ (glory) of turban is there in Iran. There are around 60 Sikh families living in Iran. They visit two gurdwaras located in Tehran and Zahran. We are free to maintain the ‘maryada’ of Sikhism and the authorities never interfere in our religious occasions,” he said.

https://www.sikhnet.com/news/two-iranian-varsities-want-set-chair-guru-nanak%E2%80%99s-name

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Foundation against Islamophobia and Racism, New Muslim-Led Human Rights Organisation Launched In New Zealand

Thursday, 21 November 2019

The Foundation against Islamophobia and Racism (FAIR) is a newly formed NZ-based independent Muslim human rights advocacy organisation. One of the key projects of FAIR is to provide a Report Islamophobia (http://report.islamophobia.) portal where victims can report incidents.

Azad Khan, spokesperson for FAIR says, “Our objective is to offer a robust and secure platform where victims and witnesses can share the information with us confidentially. Victims have the option of registering the incident for reporting purposes or requesting us to assist them further. All information will be kept confidential and private and not shared with third parties without prior consent.”

The organisation exists to advocate for the human rights of Muslims and to combat the rise of violent far-right activities and Islamophobia in New Zealand. We will also conduct community educational workshops about Islamophobia and racism.

Ikhlaq Kashkari, President of the New Zealand  Muslims Association (NZMA) said, “this is an important project and a step in the right direction to expose and combat Islamophobia in New Zealand. NZMA is fully supporting this initiative. Better data is the key to understanding and eradicating Islamophobia.”

Post-March 15th, there continue to be Islamophobic and hate crime incidents. Many of these incidents go unreported for reasons including fear, community backlash, revenge, stigmatisation and the lack of confidence in the authorities to take appropriate and immediate action.

Currently, there is no register of hate crime and Islamophobic incidents and as a result, there is no data to analyse and strategise on how to combat such incidents. Going forward we hope to work closely with researchers, community organisations and government agencies to collectively create a safe and tolerant society.

University of Waikato academic, Dr Arama Rata, said, "The Crown has failed its duty to protect Muslim and other communities of colour from hate crime. Systematically collecting hate crime data is the very least the Crown could be doing. It should not have taken the loss of 51 lives, and it should not be left to members of the affected community to undertake this work, unsupported. However, its encouraging to know these crucial data will soon exist."

https://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/PO1911/S00271/new-muslim-led-human-rights-organisation-launched.htm

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Pope Francis embraces Muslim leader who thinks being gay is a ‘disease’ hours after condemning persecution of homosexuality

LILY WAKEFIELD

NOVEMBER 20, 2019

Just hours after comparing the persecution of gay people to Hitler and Nazism, Pope Francis gave a warm hug to a Muslim leader who thinks homosexuality is a disease and that gay people should be executed.

The same day (November 15), the Pope gave a speech at the World Congress of the International Association of Penal Law in which he said: “It is not coincidental that at times there is a resurgence of symbols typical of Nazism… With the persecution of Jews, gypsies, and people with homosexual tendencies… that is what was done in those days and today it is happening again.”

Ahmed el-Tayeb is the Grand Imam of al-Azhar, thought by many to be highest authority in Sunni Islam, and he met with Pope Francis for “cordial discussions” which included “the protection of minors in the digital world”.

But Ahmed el-Tayeb’s “protection” certainly does not extend to LGBT+ people, Jews or women.

He previously said in an interview: “The concept of human rights is full of ticking time bombs… No Muslim society could ever consider sexual liberty, homosexuality and so on to be a personal right.

“Muslim societies consider these things to be diseases which must be fought and treated… It is a rebellion both against religion and what is held sacrosanct by society.

“Apostasy is a crime… An apostate should be asked to repent and if he does not he should be killed.”

According to the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI), he also said in an interview with Egypt’s Channel 1: “[Modern civilisation] led us to the point where it is very legitimate, legal, socially acceptable, and considered to be in good taste for a man to marry another man.

“In a [gay] marriage certificate, they write that John is the wife, or in [lesbian marriage] they write that Nadine is the husband, for example. By God, even the animal kingdom did not go that far.

“Brother, if they have gotten to the point of legitimising homosexuality… What else can you say about a marriage between two men? Allah’s punishment for the people of Sodom and Gomorrah is well-known. Pay attention! The laws of Allah are immutable, so the punishment will come sooner or later.”

In the same interview, on the topic of husbands beating their wives, he said: “The Quran allows using this method… That is to say, the husband is allowed to resort to this kind of treatment… It is a situation one may resort to when there is no other way, and when he strongly believes that this would help resolve the problem. Only in this case, the husband is allowed to beat his wife.”

In another interview with the same Egyptian channel, he said that Jewish people consider everyone who is not Jewish “extremely inferior”.

He added: “They practice a terrible hierarchy, and they are not ashamed to admit it, because it is written in the Torah – with regard to killing, enslavement, and so on… These practices and beliefs have made people, even non-Muslims, hate them.”

https://www.pinknews.co.uk/2019/11/20/pope-francis-muslim-leader-homosexuality-disease-nazism-hitler-vatican-sunni-ahmed-el-tayeb/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+Pinknews+%28Pink+News%29

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Interfaith conversation promotes dialogue between Catholic, Muslim leaders

Andrew Cameron

Thursday, November 21, 2019

On Wednesday evening, two religious leaders spoke in Nanovic Hall to discuss the need for interfaith dialogue in modern times, especially between Muslims and Catholics. The Keough School of Global Affairs hosted the event, an interfaith conversation between Daoud Casewit, president of American Islamic College, and Cardinal Blase Cupich, Archbishop of Chicago. The conversation, entitled “Commemorating the Sultan and the Saint: A Christian-Muslim Dialogue,” celebrated the 800th anniversary of St. Francis of Assisi crossing battle lines during the Fifth Crusade to meet peacefully with Sultan al-Malik al-Kamil of Egypt.

University President Fr. John Jenkins introduced the speakers and explained the importance of the event.

“Tonight’s event allows us to fulfill our mission to be a place of dialogue and a Catholic institution where all sincerely-held religious beliefs are respected, and a place where we seek ways to develop peace and deepen understanding,” he said.

Scott Appleby, dean of the Keough School, delivered a second introduction. Though differing in beliefs and traditions, he said, Islam and other world religions share an emphasis on human dignity with Catholic social teaching.

“Our mission is to advance integral human development, which is a concept taken from Catholic social teaching …,” he said. “Although that concept comes from Catholic social teaching in that formulation, it has great resonance and affinities with many of the values and principles of Islam and other world religions — even many secular wisdom traditions — in it’s emphasis on human dignity as the center of our efforts to advance human flourishing.”

The event was moderated by Mahan Mirza, an Islamic scholar at the Keough School and executive director of the Rafat and Zoreen Ansari Institute for Global Engagement with Religion. Mirza began the conversation by allowing each guest to deliver opening remarks, starting with Cardinal Cupich.

“We live in an era where the idea of a clash of civilizations is shaping the understanding of international relations permitted, particularly in terms of the power between Islam and the West in our time,” Cupich said. “The event we are remembering challenges that description with a message of hope. … While I do realize that there are significant areas that our scriptures do not agree on, we both are anchored, and anchor our lives in devotion to God through the daily practice of prayer and religion,” he said. “In doing so, we can bear witness to the world of the core values of our traditions with God as the center of our lives.”

Daoud Casewit then delivered his opening remarks. He reflected on the meeting of St. Francis with Sultan Al-Kamil, and said that openness to such dialogue is supported by Islamic scripture.

“While such an appreciation of the religious ‘other’ has generally been the exception rather than the rule, with the world of today so prone to exclusivism and bigotry, there is a solid basis for it in the Quran,” he said.

Casewit then performed recitations of two passages from the Quran, followed by English translations. Casewit said that, in his opinion, the Sultan would have recognized St. Francis, though not a Muslim, as “a humble man of God,” as described in one of the passages.

After both guests had made their opening remarks, Mirza launched the conversation by asking both Casewit and Cupich how participants in Catholic-Islamic dialogue should deal with the faiths’ complex history, which, he said, despite the meeting of St. Francis and the Sultan, “in general terms … is one of conflict.”

Cupich said both parties must make the active decision to engage in open dialogue.

“We have to in some way find the internal freedom to make a decision to make our lives count. If what they did 800 years ago is an aberration, then I want more aberrations,” he said.

Casewit said such conversations need to be approached with care to ensure that one does not relativize their faith.

“Every religion encloses both an inclusivistic aspect and an exclusivistic aspect. … There’s a danger when one goes to inclusivism of starting to relativize things,” Casewit said.

Mirza addressed the tension between exclusivity and inclusivity, and asked the guests if accepting interfaith dialogue was possible without one party attempting to convert the other.

“Can we truly get peace by accepting another as permanently remaining as another [religion] or is there somewhere, deep down in every interfaith conversation, the desire to convert?” he asked.

Casewit responded by saying, “It takes a great deal of restraint and heart and patience for the other to listen to someone expound on their own perspectives on truth, theology and so forth. From a certain point of view, it isn’t necessarily good for the listener’s own faith. Quite often I think collaborative social work [between Catholics and Muslims] would be more effective than words. But dialogue still has its place, and I have taken part in a lot of it.”

Cupich said that engagement with others should not just be about trying to convert them, but living authentically.

“We do have a difference between what we do in sharing our faith, and engagement with people in order to increase market share for your community, and that’s not what we’re about,” he said. “What we should be concerned about is living our lives in an authentic way, so that God gives the other person the inspiration to take up the life that inspires them.”

https://ndsmcobserver.com/2019/11/interfaith-conversation-promotes-dialogue-between-catholic-muslim-leaders/

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Sudan PM directs to accommodate non-Muslim work hours

THURSDAY 21 NOVEMBER 2019

November 20, 2019 (KHARTOUM) - The office of the Sudanese Prime Minister instructed various public institutions to accommodate the work hours of non-Muslims to allow them to perform religious rites and ceremonies.

The weekly holiday in Sudan is Friday and Saturday. Accommodating Christian’ requests for prayer breaks during the Sunday which is a work-day was at the discretion of the employers, under the former Islamist regime.

Upon the request of the minister of religious affairs in a letter on 4 November, Sudanese prime minister has ordered on 11 November to ban holding examinations in the academic institutions and schools on 25 December or 7 January.

The two dates are Christmas day for Catholic and Coptic Sudanese.

The administrative circular also authorizes Christians to leave work at 10.00 am on Sunday to enable them to perform Sunday prayer in church.

http://www.sudantribune.com/spip.php?article68556

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Pakistan re-elected to Executive Board of UNESCO

November 21, 2019

Pakistan has been re-elected to the Executive Board of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization for the next four-year term, reported Radio Pakistan on   Thursday.

Pakistan bagged  154 votes out of 180 cast in an election held at UNESCO Headquarters in Paris.

Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi has congratulated Ambassador of Pakistan to France Moin-ul-Haq and his team.

He said Pakistan's election to the UNESCO Executive Board is a testimony to its stellar contributions in promoting International cooperation in the fields of education, science and culture.

Pakistan has the distinction of being a continuous member of the UNESCO Executive Board since 1978.

The members of Executive Board are elected by UNESCO’s General Conference according to a system of regional grouping.

https://www.thenews.com.pk/latest/572196-pakistan-re-elected-to-executive-board-of-unesco

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Rohingya violence: Aung San Suu Kyi to lead team to fight genocide charges

November 20, 2019

Myanmar’s government announced Wednesday that its leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, will head a legal team it will send to the International Court of Justice in the Netherlands to contest a case of genocide filed against it by Gambia on behalf of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation.

The announcement was posted on the Facebook page of the office of the state counsellor, a position Suu Kyi holds along with that of foreign minister. Myanmar’s government releases much public information on Facebook.

The country’s military has been accused of carrying out mass rapes, killings and the torching of homes during a counterinsurgency campaign launched in western Myanmar in August 2017 after rebel attacks. The violence sent more than 700,000 members of the Muslim Rohingya minority fleeing to neighboring Bangladesh. Myanmar’s population is overwhelmingly Buddhist.

When filing the case, Gambia’s justice minister and attorney general, Abubacarr Marie Tambadou, told The Associated Press he wanted to “send a clear message to Myanmar and to the rest of the international community that the world must not stand by and do nothing in the face of terrible atrocities that are occurring around us. It is a shame for our generation that we do nothing while genocide is unfolding right before our own eyes.

The head of a UN fact-finding mission on Myanmar warned last month that “there is a serious risk of genocide recurring,” and the mission also said in its final report in September that Myanmar should be held responsible in international legal forums for alleged genocide against the Rohingya.

Myanmar has strongly denied carrying out organized human rights abuses.

The brief announcement Wednesday night on the effort “to defend Myanmar’s national interest” did not specify that Gambia’s application to the ICJ involved genocide, but said it was “with regard to the displaced persons from the Rakhine state,” the area from which the Rohingya fled.

It said Myanmar has retained prominent international lawyers to contest the case, and that Suu Kyi will lead the team in her capacity as foreign minister.

The announcement did not mention a date for the mission to the court, but the court said on Monday that it would hold public hearings on Dec. 10-12.

On Friday, Myanmar’s government rejected the International Criminal Court’s decision to allow prosecutors to open an investigation into crimes committed against the Rohingya Muslim minority.

Government spokesman Zaw Htay said Myanmar stood by its position that the Netherlands-based court has no jurisdiction over its actions because Myanmar was not a party to the agreement establishing the court.

The court’s position is that because Myanmar’s alleged atrocities sent more than 700,000 Rohingya fleeing to Bangladesh for safety, it does have jurisdiction since Bangladesh is a party to the court and the case may involve forced deportation.

The International Court of Justice settles disputes between nations, while the International Criminal Court seeks to convict individuals responsible for crimes. Member states of the United Nations are automatically parties to the court, though they must also consent to its jurisdiction.

Both courts are based in The Hague.

https://indianexpress.com/article/world/rohingya-violence-aung-san-suu-kyi-to-lead-team-to-fight-genocide-charges-6129192/

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Gunmen assassinate political analyst Waheed Muzhda in Kabul city

Wednesday, 20 Nov 2019

Unknown gunmen assassinated a political analyst in West of Kabul city earlier this evening, the security officials confirmed.

Nasrat Rahimi, a spokesperson for the Ministry of Interior confirmed that unknown gunmen assassinated Waheed Muzhda close to Embassy of Russia at around 5 pm local time.

Rahimi further added that Muzhda was on his way to mosque when two gunmen riding a motorcycle opened fire on him and killed him.

No individual or group has so far claimed responsibility for the attack.

Meanwhile, Rahimi said the police forces have launched an investigation into the incident.

https://www.khaama.com/gunmen-assassinate-political-analyst-waheed-muzhdad-in-kabul-city-04366/

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Saudi king blames Iran for ‘chaos’, says strikes failed to hurt kingdom’s development

November 20, 2019

Saudi Arabia’s King Salman struck a defiant note against the kingdom’s enemies, saying on Wednesday that missile and drone strikes it blames on Iran had not halted development and reiterating that Riyadh will not hesitate to defend itself.

In an annual address to the appointed Shura Council, he called again on the international community to stop Tehran’s nuclear and ballistic missile programs and halt regional intervention, saying it was time to stop the “chaos and destruction” generated by Iran, according to prepared remarks.

He also said the oil policy of the kingdom, the world’s top oil exporter, is aimed at promoting market stability.

“Though the kingdom has been subjected to attacks by 286 ballistic missiles and 289 drones, in a way that has not been seen in any other country, that has not affected the kingdom’s development process or the lives of its citizens and residents,” the king told assembled council members, royals and foreign diplomats.

He praised the ability of state oil giant Saudi Aramco to quickly restore oil production capacity after attacks on its facilities in September which initially cut more than 5% of global supply.

He said Aramco’s response had proven the kingdom’s ability to meet global demand in any shortage, and praised the company’s initial public offering, which began this week, saying it would attract foreign investment and create thousands of jobs.

Sunni Muslim Saudi Arabia and Shi’ite Iran are locked in a decades-long struggle for influence across the region, supporting opposing sides in conflicts from Syria to Yemen.

Tensions have risen since U.S. President Donald Trump pulled the United States out of a nuclear deal with world powers last year and reimposed economic sanctions.

Washington and Riyadh blame Tehran for the September attacks and earlier ones against oil tankers in Gulf waters and other Saudi oil installations. Iran denies involvement.

In Yemen, where Saudi Arabia leads a military coalition battling the Iran-aligned Houthis in a nearly five year war that has killed tens of thousands, King Salman said the kingdom seeks a political settlement.

He said he hoped a recent agreement signed in Riyadh between two coalition-backed parties that had fallen out would open the door to broader peace talks.

While reiterating long-standing support for a two-state solution to the Israel-Palestine conflict, the king did not refer to a US decision this week in effect to back Israel’s building of settlements in the occupied West Bank.

Neither did he speak about a 2-1/2-year boycott of neighbouring Qatar by Saudi Arabia and other Arab state, amid recent speculation about a potential easing of that policy.

He said Saudi Arabia’s presidency of the Group of 20 countries, which begins next month, was evidence of the important role the kingdom plays in the global economy.

https://indianexpress.com/article/world/saudi-king-blames-iran-for-chaos-says-strikes-failed-to-hurt-kingdoms-development-6129182/

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India

 

Case Against Aligarh Muslim University Professor, Journalist Husband For Social Media Post On Kashmir: Police

November 21, 2019

ALIGARH, UTTAR PRADESH: The police here have registered an FIR against an Aligarh Muslim University professor and her journalist-husband over the posts they shared on social media, allegedly hurting the morale of the security forces in Kashmir.

The FIR cited an "inappropriate post" in which the assistant professor, whose husband is a journalist based in Kashmir, referred to the communication blackout in the Valley immediately after the abrogation of Jammu and Kashmir's special status.

"Sach mein sampark toot jana kitna khatarnak aur dukhad hota hai, chahe Chandrayaan ho ya Kashmir," the post said on the "pain" caused by losing contact, "whether it is Chandrayaan or Kashmir".

The reference was to the ISRO mission that went wrong in September with lander Vikram losing contact after crashing on the moon's surface.

Hindu Mahasabha leader Ashok Pandey, who filed the complaint on November 14 over the weeks-old posts, claimed that the comment indicated that she "did not consider Kashmir an integral part of India".

Huma Parveen, 34, from the AMU's Mass Communication department has been charged under sections 153-A and 505 (2) of the Indian Penal Code for "promoting enmity" between different groups.

The complaint lodged at the Gandhi Park police station alleged that her posts were "a threat to the integrity of the nation" and aimed at "harming the morale of the security forces in Kashmir."

When contacted on Wednesday, Huma Parveen said, "I have not written a single post myself but have just shared a few posts published either in leading news portals or by some friends."

According to the professor, she shared these posts with her husband Naeem Shaukat, with whom she had lost contact during the communication blackout immediately after the Centre's decision to nullify Article 370.

She said she is a loyal citizen of the country and none of her shared posts even remotely suggest that she does not consider Kashmir an integral part of India.

Among the posts shared by her was one that quoted poet Rahat Indori, who said debate and dissent are the part of democracy.

Another quote, attributed to Mahatma Gandhi, read, "You can chain me, you can torture me, you can even destroy my body but you can never imprison my mind."

Ashok Pandey alleged that the posts are "objectionable", and some of them tantamount to "taunting the Indian Prime Minister". But there is no mention of a specific post to support this charge.

Senior Superintendent of Police Akash Kulhari said the matter is being investigated.

When contacted, AMU spokesperson Shafey Kidwai, who also heads Mass Communication department, said, "We will come into the picture only after the police files a charge sheet. The case has been filed on the basis of a complaint by a private individual."

He said all posts shared by Huma Parveen are open to scrutiny and it is now for the police to decide whether there was any objectionable content or not.

https://www.ndtv.com/india-news/case-against-aligarh-muslim-university-professor-huma-parveen-journalist-husband-for-social-media-po-2135934

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Bengal to Kerala, faultlines deepen: Mamata says never, Oppn slams pan-India NRC

November 21, 2019

Within hours of Union Home Minister Amit Shah’s statement in Parliament Wednesday that the NRC for Assam will be repeated whenever the exercise is conducted nationwide, Opposition-ruled states and parties spoke out against any pan-India NRC move.

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, who has been taking on the BJP-led central government over the Citizenship Amendment Bill, said her government will not allow the NRC to be implemented in the state. Addressing a public meeting at Sagardighi in Murshidabad district, Banerjee said nobody can take away any person’s citizenship and make him or her a refugee. Stating that the NRC in Assam was part of the Assam Accord signed during the tenure of then Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi, she said the exercise can never be implemented across India.

Without taking names, Banerjee, who heads the Trinamool Congress, said: “A few people are trying to foment trouble in the state by saying that the NRC exercise will be carried out in Bengal. I would like to make it very clear that we will never allow the NRC exercise in Bengal. We won’t allow anybody to divide people on the basis of religion.”

Claiming that there is a “conspiracy” to divide the state on religious lines, Banerjee said “if someone thinks it will be easy to divide Bengal on communal lines, then the person is living in a fool’s paradise”.

“A total of 19 lakh people have been left out of the Assam NRC list. Those omitted include Hindus, Bengalis, Muslims, Gorkhas and Buddhists. They have been sent to detention centres. In Bengal, we (TMC) will never allow any detention centre,” she said.

Kerala Minister for Welfare of Minorities and Higher Education K T Jaleel said Shah’s announcement about an NRC exercise across the country is alarming. “When there is a demand for withdrawing the NCR process carried out in Assam, how can the minister go for such a nationwide rollout of the process? I understand he also stated that all non-Muslims, who have come from other countries, will be given citizenship. It is difficult to grasp that approach to exclude Muslims, which is not suitable for a secular nation like India.’’

He said migrants from Bangladesh should be accepted as their movement to India shows that they had given importance to cultural identity rather than religious identity. “We have to encourage it. If they had given importance for religious identity, they would not have come to India. They, who had longed for plurality in life, abandoned their religious identity. Hence, they should be kept close to our heart,’’ he said.

Madhya Pradesh minister Arif Aqueel said “the sole intention is to harass minorities, nothing else”.

Assam Congress president and MP Ripun Bora said: “The Congress party does not support the statement of Amit Shah that NRC will be done again in Assam. He has talked about NRC across India. That is a separate topic. But in Assam, it is different. It was prepared under special circumstances. The government’s duty now is to make the Foreigners’ Tribunals functional immediately so that genuine citizens left out of the NRC can appeal. But they are saying instead NRC will be prepared again in Assam. That will cause turmoil in Assam.”

The Congress, on its part, said present laws do not allow a nationwide NRC which, it said, will have to flow out of the Citizenship Amendment Bill.

“The Citizenship Bill is not the same as was examined by the Joint Parliamentary Committee. It will definitely need an examination by a standing committee or a select committee so that the law that is enacted is not flawed or in conflict with the Constitution of India. NRC will have to flow out of the Citizenship Amendment Bill. The present law does not allow that. In case of Assam, it was specific to the state as per the Assam Accord and monitored by the Supreme Court,” senior Congress leader Anand Sharma said.

The CAB, he said, “must pass the muster when it comes to the litmus test of constitutionality.” And the Constitution of India, he said, does not allow discrimination on religious considerations.

https://indianexpress.com/article/india/bengal-to-kerala-faultlines-deepen-mamata-says-never-opp-slams-pan-india-nrc/

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World's First Muslim Yoga Camp Begins In Uttarakhand's Kotdwar

November 21, 2019

DEHRADUN: The world's first Muslim yoga camp began at Kanva Ashram in Kotdwar town of Uttarakhand on Wednesday, with 500 Muslim men and women from different countries participating in the event.

Addressing the participants after inaugurating the five-day event at Kanva Ashram, Chief Minister Trivendra Singh Rawat said besides its health benefits yoga has an elevating effect on the way one looks upon things.

"Yoga elevates our heart, mind and thoughts to such a level that we begin to care for all. It leads us towards universal welfare," Mr Rawat said.

"Yoga has nothing to do with any religion. It cures us of all ailments and connects us with each other," he added.

Ayush Minister Harak Singh Rawat congratulated organisers of the camp, saying it will send a healthy message to the world that yoga does not belong to a particular religion and is beneficial for entire humanity.

The event, which is being held at the golden jubilee function of the Vedic Ashram Gurukul Vishwavidyalaya at Kanva Ashram in Kotdwar, will conclude on November 24.      

The chief minister also spoke on the iconic status of Kanva Ashram and announced that Kotdwar will soon be named Kanva Nagri Kotdwar.

https://www.ndtv.com/india-news/worlds-first-muslim-yoga-camp-begins-in-uttarakhands-kotdwar-2135972

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Students vs students on BHU campus over Muslim Sanskrit professor's appointment

21st November 2019

VARANASI: Feroz Khan, appointed as assistant professor at the Banaras Hindu University's Sanskrit Vidya Dharam Vigyan (SVDV), is now truly caught in a crossfire.

Even as students of the Sanskrit department continue to protest against the appointment of a Muslim professor as faculty member, another group of BHU students have started taking out processions in support of the professor.

These students, carrying placards saying 'We are with Feroz Khan', are supporting the beleaguered professor, who has not been able to take classes since his appointment due to the ongoing protests.

The university students also held a peace march in support of Khan. Holding banners with 'We are with you Dr Feroz Khan' written on it, the students marched from the university's Lanka Gate to Ravidas Gate. The peace march was a joint initiative by outfits like the NSUI, Youth for Swaraj and AISA, they held the banner of 'Joint Action Committee'.

In an unexpected development, a group of saints in Varanasi have also condemned the protests against Khan and said that the professor and his family have been running a cow shelter and have deep faith in the Hindu culture.

Vindheshwari Mishra, Dean, SVDV, meanwhile said, "No one knows where Dr Feroz Khan is staying. He has not come here and some people claim that he has gone to visit his family in Jaipur.

Khan has not been meeting anyone and his mobile phone is switched off.

Vice-Chancellor Rakesh Bhatnagar has not deviated from his stand that Khan's appointment was legitimate.

Vikas Singh, a PhD student of Political Science and a member of NSUI, said, "Through our peace march, we tried to tell that we welcome Dr Feroz Khan in this university that was established by Pandit Madan Mohan Malviya. There should be a solution to this issue. The students protesting against his appointment have a narrow casteist mentality."

Several BHU professors have also come out in support of Khan.

Professor Mahesh Prasad Ahirwar of Ancient History, Culture and Archaeology, expressed his frustration over the issue on Facebook.

https://www.newindianexpress.com/nation/2019/nov/21/students-versus-students-on-bhu-campus-over-muslim-sanskrit-professors-appointment-2064980.html

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Respite for nine Muslim youths who raised slogans against ex-Andhra Pradesh CM Chandrababu Naidu

21st November 2019

GUNTUR:  The State government withdrew cases against nine Muslim youths after careful examination of the cases on Wednesday. The Directorate of Prosecutions issued GO 988, mentioning the withdrawal of prosecution against nine persons after careful examination of the entire matter. The DGP was directed to issue instructions to the assistant public prosecutor for further action.

The old Guntur police station had arrested athe youths for creating disturbance at the ‘Nara Hamara-TDP Hamara’ public meeting held on August 28 at Guntur. They allegedly showed placards and aired slogans against former chief minister N Chandrababu Naidu, while he was delivering a speech at the BR Stadium here.

TDP leader Sk Meera Vali of old Guntur lodged a complaint with the police, alleging that the accused had aired slogans claiming that nothing was done for the benefit of the minorities in the past four years and that the former CM was allotting less funds for minority welfare in the budget.

Based on the complaint, Old Guntur DSP at that time, K Srinivasulu started investigation and registered cases against nine persons belonging to Nandyala. The police registered cases against Darga Shaik Abibulla, Sk Juber, Sk Mahaboob Basha, Sk Juber Ahmed, Syed Abeed, Sk Athar Salman, Sk Iliaz, Sk Mukthu and Mohammad Mujahuddin and were produced in the VI Additional Junior Civil Judge Court of Guntur.

https://www.newindianexpress.com/states/andhra-pradesh/2019/nov/21/respite-for-nine-muslim-youths-who-raised-slogans-against-ex-andhra-pradesh-cm-chandrababu-naidu-2064809.html

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Muslim League Discusses Ayodhya Verdict, NRC Issue With Sonia Gandhi

November 21, 2019

NEW DELHI: A delegation of Indian Union Muslim League (IUML) leaders met Congress president Sonia Gandhi on Wednesday and discussed various issues including the recent Supreme Court verdict on Ayodhya title dispute and NRC controversy in Assam.

The delegation, led by party's national president KM Kader Mohideen, also took up the abrogation of Article 370 in Jammu and Kashmir and division of the state into two Union Territories -- Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh, the sources said.

IUML, which is the second major ally of the Congress-led United Democratic Front (UDF) in Kerala, expressed its displeasure on the lack of coordination between the two parties on important issues like Ayodhya, Article 370 abrogation and NRC, they said.

Though there were reports that discussions on the Congress' move to align with the Shiv Sena in Maharashtra too came up, IUML's MPs P K Kunhalikuttuy and K Navas Kani denied it.

"We will discuss about that if at all the Congress decides to go with the Shiv Sena for government formation,'' Mr Kunhalakutty told PTI.

In a clear indication of joining hands with the Shiv Sena, leaders of the Congress and the NCP on Wednesday expressed confidence of forming a "stable" government in Maharashtra in the coming days.

After a marathon meeting of senior leaders of the two parties at NCP supremo Sharad Pawar's residence, former chief minister and Congress leader Prithviraj Chavan said the alliance is hopeful of ending the spell of political uncertainty in the state and working to provide a stable government.

https://www.ndtv.com/india-news/indian-union-muslim-league-discusses-ayodhya-verdict-nrc-issue-with-sonia-gandhi-2135969

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Mideast

 

Israel shuts down Al-Rasasi Mosque in Jerusalem

November 21, 2019

Israeli authorities on Wednesday shut down Al-Rasasi Mosque in Jerusalem.

The Muslim house of worship -- located near Al-Aqsa Mosque, the third holiest site in Islam -- was shut for six months on the grounds that parts of it were being used as an office by Jerusalem’s Jordan-run Religious Endowments Authority.

The offices of Palestinian state television and the Palestinian National Education Directorate in East Jerusalem were also shut for six months following a raid by Israeli police earlier in the day.

Israel occupied East Jerusalem, in which Al-Aqsa is located, during the 1967 Middle East War. It formally annexed the entire city in 1980, claiming it as its capital -- a move never recognized by the international community.

https://www.yenisafak.com/en/world/israel-shuts-down-al-rasasi-mosque-in-jerusalem-3505574

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Israel heads toward unprecedented third election in 12 months

November 20, 2019

Israeli kingmaker politician Avigdor Lieberman on Wednesday refused to endorse a candidate for prime minister, blaming both the contenders engaged in a tense standoff that has paralyzed Israeli politics and pushing the country toward a likely third election in less than a year.

Lieberman’s comments came ahead of a midnight deadline for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s rival, Benny Gantz, to form a coalition. Without Lieberman, Gantz appears unable to secure the required majority in parliament to be prime minister.

If Israel is forced into a third election, it would be entering uncharted waters, with opinion polls already predicting a very similar deadlock. But a new campaign could benefit the embattled Netanyahu, who is expected to be indicted on corruption charges in the coming weeks. Netanyahu would be best-positioned to fight any charges from the prime minister’s office.

Lieberman, who heads a small secular, ultranationalist party, triggered the September election after refusing to join Netanyahu’s traditional allies of hard-line and religious parties following earlier elections in April. The do-over vote left Netanyahu’s Likud and Gantz’s Blue and White party both short of a required majority in the 120-seat parliament without Lieberman’s support.

Lieberman, who hails from the former Soviet Union, has objected to the outsize influence of ultra-Orthodox religious parties and has urged Netanyahu and Gantz to join him in a unity government as a way out of the stalemate. But Gantz and Netanyahu have refused to bend on their core conditions for such an arrangement.

After weeks of negotiations, Lieberman told reporters he wouldn’t align with either party on its own.

“I made every effort. I turned over every stone,” he said. “There were no significant gaps, they were mainly personal gaps and after it all, at least for now, it seems we are heading for another election.”

Lieberman said he objected to Netanyahu’s alliance with “messianic” religious parties, while he also accused Gantz of reaching out to religious parties and not negotiating in good faith.

“Who is to blame in this situation? Both parties together” he said. “There was an impressive blame game from both parties, but at the end it was a blame game, with no real will to take tough and dramatic decisions.”

Gantz was given the opportunity to form a government last month after Netanyahu failed in the task.

A former military chief, Gantz has a midnight deadline to present a potential coalition government. If he fails, as expected, the country enters the final 21-day period for any candidate to present a majority before new elections are called.

But after weeks of failed talks, the odds of any candidate succeeding in forming a government appear low.

Both Gantz and Netanyahu have expressed a willingness to sit together in a unity government. But they could not agree on a power-sharing agreement.

Gantz’s Blue and White party refuses to sit under Netanyahu while he faces such serious legal problems. Netanyahu refused to drop his alliance with smaller nationalist and ultra-Orthodox Jewish parties.

A dizzying array of mediations and creative political machinations failed to break new ground and a Netanyahu-Gantz meeting late Tuesday night produced no headway, resulting in just more mudslinging.

Netanyahu has lambasted Gantz and his fellow former military chiefs in Blue and White for dangling the prospect of a minority government in which Arab lawmakers would provide outside support without officially joining the coalition.

His comments have drawn accusations of racism and incitement, including a speech by Israel’s President Reuven Rivlin, who criticized Netanyahu’s “ugly” comments about Arabs.

A minority government could end Netanyahu’s decade-long grip on power. But the hard-line Lieberman ruled out any alliance with the Arab lawmakers.

Barring a last-minute development, it looks like Gantz will be forced to inform Israel’s president that he has no government to present _ just as Netanyahu did before him _ setting off the final 21-day period before new elections are called. The past two have been inconclusive and polls indicate the result of a third will not differ significantly.

“The truth must be said: Netanyahu is rejecting unity and will do anything to deteriorate us to a third election within a year,” Gantz wrote on Facebook. “I am ready to make compromises for the benefit of the citizens of Israel but not to cave on our core principles.”

Looming above the entire process is the long-expected announcement on Netanyahu’s corruption indictment that could remove him from the equation and potentially provide a long-sought way out of the impasse.

Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit has recommended that Netanyahu be indicted on fraud, breach of trust and bribery charges in three separate cases. His final ruling has long been anticipated and is expected in the coming weeks, perhaps sooner. Though Netanyahu will not be compelled by law to step down immediately, it will certainly harden the opposition’s stance.

Rising regional tensions could also force the sides into compromise.

Israel carried out a wide-scale offensive against Iranian targets in Syria early on Wednesday in response to rocket attacks against it. Eleven people were reported killed, including seven non-Syrians who were most likely Iranian.

Israeli security officials expect Iran to respond, which could set off a direct confrontation, a week after the most intense fighting in Gaza in years. Against such a backdrop, the prospect of another dreaded election would weigh heavily on an already weary public.

Rivlin, among many others, has pleaded with the sides to find some sort of compromise to avoid another costly and divisive election campaign and even offered a power-sharing plan in which Gantz and Netanyahu would rotate as prime ministers. But among their other difference, they failed to agree on who would go first.

https://indianexpress.com/article/world/israel-heads-toward-unprecedented-third-election-in-12-months-6129117/

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Israel strikes Iranian targets in Syria; 11 reported killed

November 20, 2019

Israeli military Syria attack, Israel Iran Syria, Golan Height Syria, Indian Express world news

Damages are seen inside a house in Damascus, Syria in this handout released by SANA on November 20, 2019. (Reuters)

The Israeli military said it struck dozens of Iranian targets in Syria on Wednesday, carrying out a “wide-scale” strike in response to rocket fire on the Israeli-controlled Golan Heights the day before.

A Britain-based war monitoring group said the Israeli airstrikes killed 11 people, including seven non-Syrians who are most likely Iranians. Syrian state media only reported that two civilians were killed.

The Israeli military said its fighter jets hit multiple targets belonging to Iran’s elite Quds force, including surface-to-air missiles, weapons warehouses and military bases. After the Syrian military fired an air defense missile, the Israeli military said a number of Syrian aerial defense batteries were also destroyed.

The death toll of 11 was reported by Rami Abdurrahman, who heads the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, an opposition activist group with a network of activists across Syria.

The Observatory said the airstrikes targeted arms depots belonging to the Quds Force in the Damascus suburbs of Kisweh and Qudsaya. Abdurrahman added that several other areas were targeted in Wednesday’s strikes, including the Mazzeh airbase in western Damascus where air defense units are stationed.

Syria’s state SANA news agency said the two civilians were killed by shrapnel when an Israeli missile hit a house in the town of Saasaa, southwest of Damascus. It said several others were wounded, including a girl in a residential building in the suburb of Qudsaya, also west of the Syrian capital.

It claimed that Syrian air defenses destroyed most of the Israeli missiles before they reached their targets.

Wednesday’s strikes on Syria were the most intense since Jan. 21, when Israel claimed responsibility for a series of airstrikes on Iranian military targets in the Arab country, including munition storage facilities, an intelligence site and a military training camp, in response to an Iranian missile attack the previous day.

Israel had said the missile, fired by Iranian forces in Syria, was intercepted over a ski resort on the Golan Heights and that there were no injuries. The Iranian launch followed a rare Israeli daylight air raid near the Damascus International Airport.

The latest strikes further burst into the open what’s been a long shadow war between Israel and its archenemy Iran. The two foes have increasingly clashed over what Israel says is Iran’s deeper presence along its borders.

“Yesterday’s Iranian attack towards Israel is further clear proof of the purpose of the Iranian entrenchment in Syria, which threatens Israeli security, regional stability and the Syrian regime,” the military said in a statement, adding that it would “continue operating firmly and resolutely” against Iran in Syria.

Lt. Col. Jonathan Conricus, a military spokesman, said the significance of the operation was the “multitude of targets” hit.

Several important targets were struck, he said, including what he described as the Iranian headquarters at Damascus airport where senior Iranian officials are based and which is used to coordinate shipments from Iran to its allies in Syria and beyond. He added that Israel also holds Syria responsible for hosting the Iranians.

Tuesday’s rocket fire on the Golan was the sixth attempt by Iran to attack Israeli targets since February 2018, and all have been thwarted, Conricus said.

While Israel faces tensions with Iranian proxies along its borders, Iran’s regional influence is also being challenged by unprecedented, economically-driven mass protests in Iraq and Lebanon _ two countries where Tehran wields major influence. The protests are creating unrest that Tehran fears would spark a backlash against Iran-backed proxy militias in those countries.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has issued a series of warnings recently about Iranian aggression throughout the Middle East and has vowed to respond firmly.

“I made it clear: whoever harms us, we will harm them. That’s what we did tonight,” he said early Wednesday. “We will continue to aggressively protect Israel’s security.”

Israel’s new hard-line defense minister, Naftali Bennett, issued an equally firm statement.

“The rules have changed: whoever fires on Israel during the day will not sleep at night,” he said. “Our message to the leaders of Iran is simple: you are no longer immune. Any place you dispatch your tentacles, we will chop them off.”

The rare rocket fire came a week after an Israeli airstrike against a top Palestinian militant based in Syria. Akram al-Ajouri, a member of the leadership of the militant Islamic Jihad group who is living in exile, survived the attack but his son and granddaughter were killed.

Israel frequently strikes Iranian interests in Syria. But last week’s airstrike appeared to be a rare assassination attempt of a Palestinian militant in the Syrian capital. It came the same day as another Israeli airstrike killed a senior Islamic Jihad commander in Gaza, settling off the fiercest round of fighting there in years.

Iran has forces based in Syria, Israel’s northern neighbor, and supports Hezbollah militants in Lebanon. In Gaza, it supplies Islamic Jihad with cash, weapons and expertise.

Netanyahu also has claimed Iran is using Iraq and far-off Yemen, where Tehran supports Shiite Houthi rebels at war with a Saudi-led coalition backing the government, to plan attacks against Israel. Hamas also receives some support from Iran.

https://indianexpress.com/article/world/israel-attack-iran-syria-golan-heights-6129002/

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Iran protests leave ‘over 100 dead,’ Amnesty says

November 20, 2019

At least 106 people have been killed across Iran since widespread protests erupted five days ago, Amnesty International said Tuesday.

“The organization believes that the real death toll may be much higher, with some reports suggesting as many as 200 have been killed,” Amnesty said in a statement.

Citing “credible reports,” Amnesty said people had been killed in 21 cities in “a harrowing pattern of unlawful killings by Iranian security forces.”

Assessing the death toll from the security forces’ crackdown has been made difficult given reporting restrictions and authorities shutting down of the internet.

The harsh tactics used against protesters include live fire, snipers firing into crowds from rooftops and, in one case, a helicopter, Amnesty said.

Iran’s government has not provided an official figure of the death toll and local media has reported only a handful of deaths. At least 1,000 people have reportedly been arrested and the Kayhan newspaper, which is close to hardliners, suggested Tuesday that some protest leaders could be executed.

Unrest began Friday after the government announced a hike in the price of subsidized gasoline, with drivers stopping vehicles on major roads in Tehran to block traffic.

They soon turned violent as rioters vandalized banks, government buildings, shops and symbols of the Islamic Republic in nearly 100 cities. State media reported at least three members of the Revolutionary Guards and two police officers have been killed by assailants.

Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, has described the protesters as “hooligans” backed by foreign forces.

While the protests were triggered by a price hike in subsidized gasoline, they reflect larger discontentment with the government and a dire economy after the United States re-imposed sanctions last year following its withdrawal from the 2015 international nuclear deal

President Hassan Rouhani has said the increase of gasoline prices by 50% for the first 60 liters purchased over a month and 200% for any extra fuel after that will be used for cash transfers to the poor.

Protests in Iran are not rare, but the scale and timing of this latest round appears to have heightened the regime’s sense that it is under siege domestically and regionally. Various government officials have said they will swiftly confront demonstrations with force.

The violence comes as weeks of anti-government protests have swept across Iraq and Lebanon, threatening Iran’s considerable influence in those countries and raising fears in the regime of a knock-on effect at home

In Iraq, where Iran’s political and paramilitary power have become a target of protesters’ anger, at least 320 people have been killed since unrest errupted on October 1.

https://indianexpress.com/article/world/iran-protests-leave-over-100-dead-amnesty-says-6128863/

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Saudi king urges Iran to quit 'harmful' expansionism

Nov 20, 2019

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia's King Salman urged arch rival Iran on Wednesday to abandon an expansionist ideology that has "harmed" its own people, following violent street protests in the Islamic republic.

"We hope the Iranian regime chooses the side of wisdom and realises there is no way to overcome the international position that rejects its practises, without abandoning its expansionist and destructive thinking that has harmed its own people," he told the consultative Shura Council, according to the foreign ministry.

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/middle-east/saudi-king-urges-iran-to-quit-harmful-expansionism/articleshow/72146963.cms

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President Rouhani: Rioters Supported by US, Israel

Wed Nov 20, 2019

TEHRAN (FNA)- Iranian President Hassan Rouhani praised people for keeping distance from the rioters who damaged public and private properties, and said the recent violence in Iran was organized by the US, Israel and certain reactionary regimes in the region.

“The number of people who had taken to the streets was clear, and there were only a few hooligans were among them; but the hooligans were well organized and armed, acting on behalf of the regional reactionaries, the Zionists and Americans,” Rouhani said, addressing a cabinet meeting in Tehran on Wednesday.

"As the Leader said, our people have foiled the enemies’ plots in face of different incidents, and they became victorious in the recent plots that the enemies had hatched,” he added.

President Rouhani also lauded the Iranian nation’s unity in thwarting enemies’ most recent plot, which was aimed at undermining the country’s security under the disguise of fuel price hike protests.

"Today, I want to thank the great Iranian nation for its vigilance and bow before them because of their patience and timeliness,” Rouhani said.

“The people of Iran passed another historic test and proved that despite economic problems and discontent they may have with the management of the country, they will never let enemies to take advantage of the situation,” he added.

Rouhani noted that the government wants the lower-income classes take advantage of the fuel subsidies more than those who do not need it, and said, "The goal was to pay an amount to 18 million lower-income and middle-class households.”

"In these incidents, people proved that they know the conspiracies of the enemies and terrorists, and are not deceived by them.”

"Despite the enemies’ pressures this year and last year, people showed that they are sensitive towards their national interests and security, as well as their integrity and solidarity,” he said.

It turned out that the Iranian nation’s enemies have hired mercenaries to inflict damages on people’s lives and livelihood, and they did not even show mercy towards children, Rouhani said, adding, "This shows that this small group have acted against the country, homeland and national interests”.

“The Iranian nation always show the world their vigilance, unity and solidarity with the entire state, and we should always give ear to people’s criticisms,” he continued.

Appreciating the people of Iran and the Supreme Leader, he said, "The Leader guided people and unveiled the truth with his wise remarks. The government will continue to cooperate and consult with the other two branches in important affairs.”

Rouhani also went on to appreciate the efforts of the Ministry of Interior, governor generals, governors and ministries that have been working hard to serve people.

“Our country’s devoted forces showed that they do not hesitate to sacrifice their lives for the security and protecting people’s properties and peace,” he said.

"We should act decisively against mercenaries who act against our security so that our country will move towards excellence and development and security,” he underlined.

Some of the thugs arrested in the recent riots in the Central province of Isfahan have admitted their links to foreign intelligence services, a security official said on Wednesday.

"A number of outlaws who wanted to misuse the popular protests and demands in Isfahan on Saturday were detained," the official told FNA on condition of anonymity.

"The official added that the outlaws attempted to distort tranquility and public security in an organized way and have confessed their links with the foreign spy agencies after detention," the official added.

The official lamented the huge damage inflicted on the province by the rioters, but said precise figures of the overal damages will be released later.

Another senior Iranian security official also said on Tuesday that thugs arrested during the recent riots confessed that they received $60 for each place set on fire.

"One such instance pertains to a number of thugs arrested in one of the provinces who were given an advance payment of 300,000 tomans (nearly $30) to stage an arson attack and another 300,000 tomans once they did the mission," Commander of Hamedan province's Law Enforcement Police Brigadier General Bakhsh Ali Kamrani Saleh said.

He underlined the necessity for increasing vigilance so that people's righteous demands will not be misused by the rioters.

Iran's Judiciary Spokesman Gholam Hossein Esmayeeli announced on Tuesday that calm had been restored to the country after the recent riots that started following the government's gas price hike plan.

"Thanks to the Leader's remarks, efforts by the security and Law Enforcement Police forces and people's vigilance who separated their way from the ill-wishers and violence-seekers, calm has been restored in the country," Esmayeeli told reporters in Tehran.

"A large number of saboteurs and rioters and those who set fire at public properties and played a role in the destructions have been identified," he added.

Riots by a small number who had taken advantage of legitimate public protests against the government's gas price hike plan in Iran were directed at sowing chaos through targeted attacks on public and private properties, forcing law enforcement to step in to stop saboteurs.

Early estimates of an intelligence body showed that a sum of nearly 87,000 protesters and rioters had taken part in protest rallies and gatherings since Friday night, mostly (over 93%) men. A large number of protesters had only been present in the gathering centers and avoided joining the rioters in sabotage attacks on public and private properties.

"The identical methods of the main core of violent rioters discloses that they are fully trained individuals who have been prepared and looking forward for the situation to rise, unlike most people who have been taken off guard by the sudden hike in gas price," the report said.

The report showed that gatherings have been comprised of 50 to 1,500 people held in 100 regions of the country out of a number of 1,080 major towns and cities. The report says violent raids and damage inflicted on properties has been larger than what happened in February 2018 unrests.

Most cases of damage to properties had happened in Khuzestan, Tehran, Fars and Kerman provinces. The report says most casualties have resulted from armed outlaws' attacks on oil storage and military centers, adding that a number of police and popular forces have been martyred in these attacks.

Nearly 1,000 people were arrested across the country while over 100 banks and 57 big stores were set on fire or plundered in just one province.

The Iranian intelligence ministry announced in a statement on Sunday that it had identified several rioters who misused the recent protest rallies against the gasoline price hikes to destroy public and private properties.

"The main culprits behind the riots in the past two days have been identified and proper measures are being adopted and the honorable nation will be informed about its result later," the statement said.

https://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13980829000731

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Iranians Rally to Display Support for Gov't against Riots

Wed Nov 20, 2019

TEHRAN (FNA)- Hundreds of thousands of government supporters rallied across Iran on Wednesday, swearing allegiance to the Islamic Republic and the Leader and voicing opposition and condemnation of the recent riots.

People from different walks of life took part in the demonstrations, chanting slogans against the rioters who "misused the recent peaceful rallies to protest at the government decision to ration gasoline".

People in Golestan, Ardabil, Hamedan, Markazi, Gilan, Khuzestan, Lorestan, Kerman and Ilam provinces poured to the streets on Wednesday to stress support for the establishment and Supreme Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyed Ali Khamenei and voice opposition to the rioters and enemies.

The demonstrators shouted slogans, including 'death to the US', 'death to Israel' and 'death to the hypocrites' - a term used by Iranians to refer to the Mojahedin-e Khalq Organization (MKO also known as MEK, NCR, NCRI and PMOI) terrorist organization.

They also carried placards, demanding the government to increase efforts to control prices of other goods after the decision to ration and increase the price of gasoline.

In a relevant development on Tuesday and Monday, Iranian people in the two Northwestern cities of Tabriz and Zanjan had also held rallies to stress support for the Leader and the Islamic Republic and condemn riots and saboteurs who have destroyed the public and private properties in the past few days.

A large number of people in Tabriz poured to the streets on Tuesday morning to support the Islamic Republic's security and might.

They chanted slogans, including 'Protest is the right of every man, riot is the enemy's job' and 'the only way towards freedom is obedience to the Leader'.

Also, people in Zanjan city staged rallies on Monday afternoon to support the Leader and show opposition to the rioters.

The ralliers, meantime, called on the government to take effective steps to control prices of different goods.

Nearly 80 chain stores in Iran were ransacked and destroyed from 50% to 100% by the rioters.

Reports from different parts of the country said that the rioters first plundered the goods in the chain stores and then set fire on the stores. Yet, in some cases, the stores and all the goods and products have been set on fire.

Most of the damaged chain stores are located in the towns near Tehran, including Marlik, Parand, Shahriar, Robat Karim, Fardis, Malard, Qods, Varamin and Hassan Abad.

Also, a chain store in the Eastern part of Tehran city and several other stores in Isfahan, Alborz, Sanandaj and Kermanshah were destroyed and looted.

Initial estimates indicate that the chain stores that have come under attack have sustained a sum of nearly 170bln tomans (approximately $17mln) of damage.

A senior Iranian security official said on Tuesday that thugs arrested during the recent riots confessed that they received $60 for each place set on fire.

"One such instance pertains to a number of thugs arrested in one of the provinces who were given an advance payment of 300,000 tomans (nearly $30) to stage an arson attack and another 300,000 tomans once they did the mission," Commander of Hamedan province's Law Enforcement Police Brigadier General Bakhsh Ali Kamrani Saleh said.

He underlined the necessity for increasing vigilance so that people's righteous demands will not be misused by the rioters.

Iran's Judiciary Spokesman Gholam Hossein Esmayeeli announced on Tuesday that calm had been restored to the country after the recent riots that started following the government's gas price hike plan.

"Thanks to the Leader's remarks, efforts by the security and Law Enforcement Police forces and people's vigilance who separated their way from the ill-wishers and violence-seekers, calm has been restored in the country," Esmayeeli told reporters in Tehran.

"A large number of saboteurs and rioters and those who set fire at public properties and played a role in the destructions have been identified," he added.

Riots by a small number who had taken advantage of legitimate public protests against the government's gas price hike plan in Iran were directed at sowing chaos through targeted attacks on public and private properties, forcing law enforcement to step in to stop saboteurs.

Early estimates of an intelligence body showed that a sum of nearly 87,000 protesters and rioters had taken part in protest rallies and gatherings since Friday night, mostly (over 93%) men. A large number of protesters had only been present in the gathering centers and avoided joining the rioters in sabotage attacks on public and private properties.

"The identical methods of the main core of violent rioters discloses that they are fully trained individuals who have been prepared and looking forward for the situation to rise, unlike most people who have been taken off guard by the sudden hike in gas price," the report said.

The report showed that gatherings have been comprised of 50 to 1,500 people held in 100 regions of the country out of a number of 1,080 major towns and cities. The report says violent raids and damage inflicted on properties has been larger than what happened in February 2018 unrests.

Most cases of damage to properties had happened in Khuzestan, Tehran, Fars and Kerman provinces. The report says most casualties have resulted from armed outlaws' attacks on oil storage and military centers, adding that a number of police and popular forces have been martyred in these attacks.

Nearly 1,000 people were arrested across the country while over 100 banks and 57 big stores were set on fire or plundered in just one province.

The Iranian intelligence ministry announced in a statement on Sunday that it had identified several rioters who misused the recent protest rallies against the gasoline price hikes to destroy public and private properties.

"The main culprits behind the riots in the past two days have been identified and proper measures are being adopted and the honorable nation will be informed about its result later," the statement said.

https://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13980829000680

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Iran: Several Dual-Nationals Arrested for Leading Riots

Wed Nov 20, 2019

TEHRAN (FNA)- A number of Iranian dual-nationals who have citizenship of some European and neighboring states were arrested by the security forces while leading or assisting the rioters in Alborz province near Tehran.

Security sources said these arrested ringleaders who misused the Iranian people's peaceful rallies to protest at the government's decision to increase gasoline prices have the citizenship of Germany, Turkey and Afghanistan in addition to their Iranian nationality, and were equipped with some devices and instruments for conducting sabotage acts.

Security sources said these dual nationals have established links with foreign spy agencies, and told FNA that they had long time ago received necessary trainings for destruction of cities' infrastructures, adding that they were financially supported by the foreign intelligence agencies.

Meantime, one of the arrested people confessed to ties with Masih Alinejad, an Iran-born anti-revolutionary journalist and activist based in Britain and the US, and was recording the riots to send the videos to her.

Also, on Sunday night, a team of security forces who were patrolling Tehran city after the riots identified and arrested a group of foreign nationals who had set fire on 5 banks within half an hour.

In a related front, Commander of Lorestan province's Law Enforcement Police Brigadier General Haji Mohammad Mahdian Nasab said that a number of non-local outlaws have been arrested in the Western province, adding that police operations will continue until detention of the last rioter.

A security official said on Wednesday that some of the thugs arrested in the recent riots in the Central province of Isfahan have admitted their links to foreign intelligence services.

"A number of outlaws who wanted to misuse the popular protests and demands in Isfahan on Saturday were detained," the official told FNA on condition of anonymity.

"The official added that the outlaws attempted to distort tranquility and public security in an organized way and have confessed their links with the foreign spy agencies after detention," the official added.

The official lamented the huge damage inflicted on the province by the rioters, but said precise figures of the overal damages will be released later.

Another senior Iranian security official also said on Tuesday that thugs arrested during the recent riots confessed that they received $60 for each place set on fire.

"One such instance pertains to a number of thugs arrested in one of the provinces who were given an advance payment of 300,000 tomans (nearly $30) to stage an arson attack and another 300,000 tomans once they did the mission," Commander of Hamedan province's Law Enforcement Police Brigadier General Bakhsh Ali Kamrani Saleh said.

He underlined the necessity for increasing vigilance so that people's righteous demands will not be misused by the rioters.

Iran's Judiciary Spokesman Gholam Hossein Esmayeeli announced on Tuesday that calm had been restored to the country after the recent riots that started following the government's gas price hike plan.

"Thanks to the Leader's remarks, efforts by the security and Law Enforcement Police forces and people's vigilance who separated their way from the ill-wishers and violence-seekers, calm has been restored in the country," Esmayeeli told reporters in Tehran.

"A large number of saboteurs and rioters and those who set fire at public properties and played a role in the destructions have been identified," he added.

Riots by a small number who had taken advantage of legitimate public protests against the government's gas price hike plan in Iran were directed at sowing chaos through targeted attacks on public and private properties, forcing law enforcement to step in to stop saboteurs.

Early estimates of an intelligence body showed that a sum of nearly 87,000 protesters and rioters had taken part in protest rallies and gatherings since Friday night, mostly (over 93%) men. A large number of protesters had only been present in the gathering centers and avoided joining the rioters in sabotage attacks on public and private properties.

"The identical methods of the main core of violent rioters discloses that they are fully trained individuals who have been prepared and looking forward for the situation to rise, unlike most people who have been taken off guard by the sudden hike in gas price," the report said.

The report showed that gatherings have been comprised of 50 to 1,500 people held in 100 regions of the country out of a number of 1,080 major towns and cities. The report says violent raids and damage inflicted on properties has been larger than what happened in February 2018 unrests.

Most cases of damage to properties had happened in Khuzestan, Tehran, Fars and Kerman provinces. The report says most casualties have resulted from armed outlaws' attacks on oil storage and military centers, adding that a number of police and popular forces have been martyred in these attacks.

Nearly 1,000 people were arrested across the country while over 100 banks and 57 big stores were set on fire or plundered in just one province.

The Iranian intelligence ministry announced in a statement on Sunday that it had identified several rioters who misused the recent protest rallies against the gasoline price hikes to destroy public and private properties.

"The main culprits behind the riots in the past two days have been identified and proper measures are being adopted and the honorable nation will be informed about its result later," the statement said.

https://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13980829000808

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Arrested Outlaws in Central Iran Confess Links with Foreign Spy Agencies

Wed Nov 20, 2019

TEHRAN (FNA)- Some of the thugs arrested in the recent riots in the Central province of Isfahan have admitted their links to foreign intelligence services, a security official said on Wednesday.

"A number of outlaws who wanted to misuse the popular protests and demands in Isfahan on Saturday were detained," the official told FNA on condition of anonymity.

"The official added that the outlaws attempted to distort tranquility and public security in an organized way and have confessed their links with the foreign spy agencies after detention," the official added.

The official lamented the huge damage inflicted on the province by the rioters, but said precise figures of the overal damages will be released later.

Another senior Iranian security official also said on Tuesday that thugs arrested during the recent riots confessed that they received $60 for each place set on fire.

"One such instance pertains to a number of thugs arrested in one of the provinces who were given an advance payment of 300,000 tomans (nearly $30) to stage an arson attack and another 300,000 tomans once they did the mission," Commander of Hamedan province's Law Enforcement Police Brigadier General Bakhsh Ali Kamrani Saleh said.

He underlined the necessity for increasing vigilance so that people's righteous demands will not be misused by the rioters.

Iran's Judiciary Spokesman Gholam Hossein Esmayeeli announced on Tuesday that calm had been restored to the country after the recent riots that started following the government's gas price hike plan.

"Thanks to the Leader's remarks, efforts by the security and Law Enforcement Police forces and people's vigilance who separated their way from the ill-wishers and violence-seekers, calm has been restored in the country," Esmayeeli told reporters in Tehran.

"A large number of saboteurs and rioters and those who set fire at public properties and played a role in the destructions have been identified," he added.

Riots by a small number who had taken advantage of legitimate public protests against the government's gas price hike plan in Iran were directed at sowing chaos through targeted attacks on public and private properties, forcing law enforcement to step in to stop saboteurs.

Early estimates of an intelligence body showed that a sum of nearly 87,000 protesters and rioters had taken part in protest rallies and gatherings since Friday night, mostly (over 93%) men. A large number of protesters had only been present in the gathering centers and avoided joining the rioters in sabotage attacks on public and private properties.

"The identical methods of the main core of violent rioters discloses that they are fully trained individuals who have been prepared and looking forward for the situation to rise, unlike most people who have been taken off guard by the sudden hike in gas price," the report said.

The report showed that gatherings have been comprised of 50 to 1,500 people held in 100 regions of the country out of a number of 1,080 major towns and cities. The report says violent raids and damage inflicted on properties has been larger than what happened in February 2018 unrests.

Most cases of damage to properties had happened in Khuzestan, Tehran, Fars and Kerman provinces. The report says most casualties have resulted from armed outlaws' attacks on oil storage and military centers, adding that a number of police and popular forces have been martyred in these attacks.

Nearly 1,000 people were arrested across the country while over 100 banks and 57 big stores were set on fire or plundered in just one province.

The Iranian intelligence ministry announced in a statement on Sunday that it had identified several rioters who misused the recent protest rallies against the gasoline price hikes to destroy public and private properties.

"The main culprits behind the riots in the past two days have been identified and proper measures are being adopted and the honorable nation will be informed about its result later," the statement said.

https://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13980829000533

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Syrian Army Retakes Control of 5 New Points Along Borders with Turkey

Wed Nov 20, 2019

TEHRAN (FNA)- The Syrian Army units continued their military operations along the country’s borders with Turkey, and regained control over five new points West of Hasaka province in Northern Syria.

The Syrian Army continued its advances in border regions with Turkey as part of the military operations that started about a month ago and after the start of the ceasefire between Turkey and the Kurdish militias in Northern Syria.

The Arabic-language al-Akhbarieh reported that the Syrian Army has entered five new points after deploying its troops in Tal Tamr region in Northwestern Hasaka stretching about 10 kilometers.

The five points included the villages of al-Dashisheh, al-Tavileh and Um al-Kheir, as well as Shavish Farm to the West of al-Tavileh.

The Syrian state news agency also released photos of the army's fortifications in these villages.

As per an agreement between Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Sochi in Southern Russia on October 22, the Kurdish militias retreated 30 kilometers deep into Northern Syria and they agreed to conduct joint patrols in that region.

On October 9, Turkish Army Started fresh military operations with the ultimate goal of preventing setting up a crossing for passage of terrorists along Southern borders of Turkey and in Northern Syria.

https://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13980829000354

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Economic sanctions are testing the resilience of Iran's Islamic system

The popular demonstrations in nearly all Iranian cities that followed the increase in the price of gasoline are only one symptom of the growing challenges facing Iran's Islamic system.

From a purely economic rationale, the price increase is justified as a means to regulate the fuel consumption, which, because of its cheap price, is comparatively high. However, in view of Iran's current economic conditions characterised by mounting inflation and economic stagnation, this price increase acted as a last straw on people's willingness to accept the government's decision with equanimity.

The government has tried to pacify the populace by stressing that the revenue yielded from the price increase will be distributed to nearly 60 million economically vulnerable people. However, the revenue obtained by the price increase amounting to roughly $2 billion, depending how the exchange rate is calculated, when divided among such a large group would be insufficient to ease their economic hardships.

Moreover, not all of the revenue gained could be spent on living support for the people. A few days ago, President Hassan Rouhani had complained that because of the fall in oil revenues, Iran faced a $21 billion shortfall in meeting the country's needs.

The increase in the price of gasoline is only one manifestation of Iran's economic and financial woes resulting from the economic sanctions. The main culprit has been the loss of Iran's oil income. According to OPEC's latest monthly report in November 2019, Iran's oil exports have fallen by 1.65 million barrels per day since the imposition of US sanctions.

Moreover, because of banking restrictions, Iran faces difficulty in repatriating the foreign exchange earned by its non-oil exports.

Growing intra-elite discord

A major consequence of economic hardships in Iran has been the intensification of intra-elite disputes. Even before the price increases, economic problems were causing serious tensions between the executive branch, especially Rouhani and the hardline-dominated judiciary and part of the parliament.

These tensions became very obvious during the so-called anti-corruption campaign launched by the recently minted head of the judiciary, Ayatollah Ebrahim Raisi.

The hardliners accused the government of having wasted $18 billion by the misuse of currency at the lower official rate. Meanwhile, the government complained that the anticorruption campaign did not go after the big villains, and posed questions of its own regarding the misuse of $2 billion. In short, both sides engaged in a bitter blame game.A major consequence of economic hardships in Iran has been the intensification of intra-elite disputes.

More seriously, in an unprecedented move, the Friday prayer leader of the holy city of Mashhad and the father-in-law of the head of the judiciary, Ayatollah Alam al Hoda, demanded that $10 billion allegedly earned from religious tourism to Mashhad should be returned to the city.

In addition to exaggerating the amount gained - the total of Iran's earnings from tourism amounts to roughly $7 billion - this demand essentially challenged the government's authority over the city of Mashhad.

This challenge, too, is nothing new. Some religious circles have for some time suggested that the holy cities of Mashhad and Qum should become autonomous on the model of the Vatican state.

In a counter-offensive, Rouhani complained of the lack of sufficient authority while having to bear the responsibility for the consequences of decisions taken by others.

He demanded more authority and was shouted down by the hardliners, who claimed that he had more authority than the previous presidents. His request, of course, was a veiled criticism of the Supreme Leader, who makes the final decisions on important issues. Rouhani even suggested that on the most serious issues facing the country, people should be consulted through a referendum. This proposal, too, was harshly criticized by the hardliners.

However, while the people are increasingly disillusioned with Rouhani's performance, there is a growing awareness that the greatest part of the blame for the government's shortcomings lie elsewhere. The entry of the Supreme Leader into the dispute over the gasoline price increases indicates that the current situation of responsibility without authority may not last forever. It can also make the Leader directly answerable to the people whereas until now he had mostly remained above the fray.

Structural problems of the Islamic system: Conflict between Revolutionary and national goals

Iran's latest crisis also highlights the underlying problems of its hybrid Islamic system and its double-headed government, plus the conflict between Iran's national interests and the revolutionary goals of its hardliners.

Ostensibly, Iran's political system is a republic based on the principle of popular will. At the same time, however, it is based on the guardianship of the 'faqih' and the supremacy of Islamic law, and a large role for clerical figures in various aspects of government.

These two concepts are completely at odds. More seriously, however, since the foundation of the system, its survival and the perpetuation of the Islamic revolution rather than Iran's security and wellbeing has been the system's main goal.

For this purpose, a variety of civil and military organisations, most notably the Revolutionary Guard Corps and the Basij, have been established. These institutions have made governing the country very difficult and have made consecutive governments unable to pursue policies best suited to achieve Iran's national interests.

The current stalemate in US-Iran relations, in addition to the Trump administration's maximum pressure strategy, is largely because of the influence of this parallel government and its revolutionary organisations.

Continued economic pressures are certain to exacerbate these structural problems as the interests of Iran and its people increasingly grow at odds with material and ideological interests of the hardliner's parallel government.

As the hardliners' revolutionary ideas and goals are rapidly losing their appeal, the sustaining of this double headed government and its policies is becoming more difficult. If the hardliners insist in maintaining the current conditions, they may have to do it by force.

Is there a way out?

Clearly, Iran's current conditions, especially the perpetuation of revolution, cannot be sustained much longer. Economic sanctions and resulting difficulties have only made this reality clearer.

The question remains how this situation can end. The committed opponents of the regime want a total overthrow of the system if need be through violent means, which would plunge Iran into chaos and even civil war.

The regime's opponents, including those abroad and separatists who want the country's disintegration, are a divided group and lack a charismatic leader who could mobilize the people.

Therefore, in case of a violent overthrow of the regime, as happened after the Islamic Revolution in 1979 when the diverse opponents of the monarchy began to fight among themselves, the collapse of the current system will generate similar infightings among opposition groups.

In 1979, there was no appetite for Iran's dismemberment among major international and regional players, with the exception of Saddam Hussein's Iraq.

This time, however, in case of turmoil in Iran, outside actors, including some of its Arab neighbors, will certainly become involved with unpredictable consequences for the country. In fact, they already manipulate Iran's difficulties.

The other way out is for the hardliners to wake up, admit the untenability of present conditions and agree to wide ranging reforms.

These reforms would include, the elimination of parallel military organisations and their incorporation in the national army, the weakening of clerical influence in politics, cultural liberalisation, greater respect for people's wishes, tolerance of diverging opinions, and most important, prioritising Iran's national interests over revolutionary and Islamist goals.

However, the failure of past efforts to reform the system from within, leaves one with little optimism that they would be undertaken, thus leaving Iran with a clouded future.

https://www.alaraby.co.uk/english/comment/2019/11/20/sanctions-are-testing-the-resilience-of-irans-islamic-system

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U.S. consulate staffers in southern Turkey detained for ‘insulting Islamic values’

Nov 20 2019

Turkish police detained two staff members of the U.S. Consulate in Turkey’s southern province of Adana for allegedly insulting Islamic values in a video shared on social media.

The consulate staffers were released after prosecutors launched an investigation over charges of “provoking people to hatred or hostility and denigration,’’ Diken news site reported on Wednesday.

The charges are based on a video on Halloween day, Oct. 31, where the pair is donning Islamic attire and offering Zamzam, water from Mecca considered holy by Muslims, as an expiation of sins, Diken news site reported.

“Drink this, rid yourself of your sins, and then live your life,’’ the news site quoted the pair as saying.

The consulate staffers then advise viewers to drink alcohol and refer to consuming pork, both of which are Islamically impermissible.

https://ahvalnews.com/detentions/us-consulate-staffers-southern-turkey-detained-insulting-islamic-values

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Australia and New Zealand

 

Muslim group donates $10,000 to NSW firefighters as bushfires continue to rage

A Muslim group has donated $10,000 to the NSW Rural Fire Service as bushfires continue to burn around Australia.

On Wednesday, representatives from United Muslims of Australia (UMA) made the donation to firefighters at Wauchope on the state's Mid North Coast.

UMA public relations officer Ibrahim Dadoun said his group put out the call to its members during Friday prayers last week.

"When we saw these bushfires had affected so many people and their livelihoods, we thought it was our obligation to go out and support them," Mr Dadoun told SBS News.

He said the trip from Sydney to the fire-hit communities around Taree was a sobering one.

"We saw some streets signs that were completely melted. There was no more writing on them ... It was a horrifying scene to witness."

A fundraising campaign by Vic Alhadeff from the NSW Jewish Board of Deputies has so far raised more than $24,000 "to support those impacted by the catastrophic bushfires".

Mr Dadoun said "it's great to see" different communities coming together at times of natural disaster.

"This shows you that we have a very successful multicultural country … It makes me proud to be Australian," he said.

Weather conditions aided firefighting efforts across NSW on Wednesday but authorities say hot winds will blow in from South Australia in the coming days.

Three more homes have been destroyed in southeast Queensland, as fire crews brace for hot and windy weather.

Six lives and 577 homes have been lost to date this fire season, with more than 420 homes lost in the past fortnight.

Police, meanwhile, told reporters on Wednesday that legal action had been taken against 54 people since August for bushfire-related offences.

https://www.sbs.com.au/news/muslim-group-donates-10-000-to-nsw-firefighters-as-bushfires-continue-to-rage

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Corrections apologise over mosque shooting accused's letters

An independent review was ordered after the man accused of the shootings was allowed to send two letters from his prison cell that should have been blocked.

Appearing before Parliament's Justice Select Committee today, Corrections chief executive Christine Stevenson apologised to MPs for the error and described it as an operational matter.

Speaking afterwards to media, she said she was keeping the Corrections Minister informed of the inmate - sometimes on a daily basis.

"I'm quite limited in what I can say - so what I would like to say is that we are managing this prisoner under the Corrections Act as we are obliged to do - with great care," she said.

Meanwhile, Justice Ministry chief executive Andrew Kibblewhite told the committee it had been a challenging year, with the mosque attacks putting pressure on Christchurch's Justice Precinct.

He said there have also been infrastructure issues around the country, including the recent closure of the Levin courthouse for earthquake strengthening.

https://www.rnz.co.nz/news/political/403809/corrections-apologise-over-mosque-shooting-accused-s-letters

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Arms dealer who says he sold ammo to accused mosque shooter says gun restrictions 'effectively destroyed' business

A South Island arms dealer who says he sold ammunition to the man accused of carrying out the March 15 terrorist attacks says changes made to New Zealand gun laws afterwards have "effectively destroyed" his business.

Brenton Tarrant has pleaded not guilty to 51 charges of murder, 40 of attempted murder and one charge under the Terrorism Suppression Act, and his trial will begin on June 2 next year.

Following the attacks, the government passed the Arms (Prohibited Firearms, Magazines, and Parts) Amendment Act 2019, which broadly restricted semi-automatic and military-style weapons and ammunition.

The government's Finance and Expenditure Committee is now considering submissions on the Arms Legislation Bill, which would create a firearms register.Lawful firearms owners have strongly criticised the Bill, saying it will not make New Zealand any safer, with one of their main arguments being that criminals most likely to commit gun crime are unlikely to be lawful owners who abide by the rules.

Yesterday, Paul McNeill, owner of Aoraki Ammunition Company, made a submission to the Committee in which he said "since the attack, our business has been effectively destroyed by the changing legislation.

"We have stock we can not sell, ammunition that is now prohibited, and assets that are now worthless," Mr McNeill said in his written submission.

"The latest legislation is poorly thought out and will not assist with reducing the likelihood of a repeat offence."

He presented a police form at the select committee showing police approved the legal sale of 2320 rounds of ammunition to Tarrant on December 11, 2017, which were provided by Aoraki Ammunition.

Mr McNeill's oral submission to the Committee on Friday was interrupted after MPs became concerned his comments could have an effect on the pending court case or the Royal Commission into the attacks.

His written submission was also removed from the Parliament website for a period, before the Finance and Expenditure Committee confirmed yesterday that it had been reinstated following consultation.

"In light of some of the matters raised in the submission, the committee took a cautious approach as they did not want to involve themselves in any matters that could affect any future court case or the Royal Commission of Inquiry," the Committee said.

Mr McNeill also said in his submission that he and his family were "appalled" to hear of the attack, and criticised the speed at which Tarrant was granted a firearms licence after arriving in New Zealand.

"The proposed changes in the Legislation do not address the lack of vetting and referees that allowed Mr Tarrant to obtain his licence," Mr McNeill wrote.

"Registration of firearms is an undue burden on law-abiding individuals - and it is only the law-abiding individual who complies.

"The onerous requirements on gun clubs, ranges, individuals etc will simply drive the use of firearms underground."

Submissions on the Bill close on November 29.

https://www.tvnz.co.nz/one-news/new-zealand/arms-dealer-says-he-sold-ammo-accused-mosque-shooter-gun-restrictions-effectively-destroyed-business

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Europe

 

Heart-Warming Moment Muslim Group Travels To Bushfire-Ravaged Country Town And Donates $10k To Firefighters

21 November 2019

A Muslim group has collected $10,000 and donated it to the brave men and women battling out-of-control fires across the country.

The United Muslims of Australia travelled 370km from Sydney to Wauchope on the New South Wales Mid North Coast and presented a cheque to the Rural Fire Service.

In a touching video uploaded to Facebook, UMA public relations officer Ibrahim Dadoun is seen talking to locals and handing over the money to the RFS.

Mr Dadoun told Daily Mail Australia when he saw how the fires had devastated so many people he decided it was the Association's obligation to help.

He put the call out for donations on Thursday night and sent a message to all members before collecting money during Friday prayer.

'We have four venues in Sydney and we also collected funds on social media over four or five days,' he said.

'It was overwhelming to see the community was so generous to give this much money in such a short time, if we extended it i'm sure we would have gotten more.'

While the UMA has just 1,000 daily members who attend on a regular basis their messages reach 30,000 people.

'We are a community organisation in Sydney and when we see our fellow Australians suffering we call out to the community and help them,' Mr Dadoun said.

Mr Dadoun also travelled to Taree on Tuesday to talk to locals and had a look at the bushfire affected areas.

They then went to Wauchope to visit the regional fire centre which distributes funds to the Mid North Coast.

'As we were driving on the highway there were signs melted away, all the trees were burnt and we walked through the affected area which was horrifying,' Mr Dadoun said.

Locals told Mr Dadoun firefighters had been working tirelessly to protect their homes, with one man so touched he donated $100 himself to give to the RFS.

The Facebook video has been viewed more than 4,000 times with many people praising the group for their generosity.

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-7708523/United-Muslims-Australia-travels-bushfire-ravaged-country-town-donates-10k-firefighters.html

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UK Muslim Students Need Exam Adjustments during Ramadan

21/11/19

Maisha Islam

The UK higher education sector is becoming increasingly diverse, but do we think beyond the broad BAME brush? Student engagement and widening participation work has recently focused on the 13 per cent BAME attainment gap, but we need to make sure that we’re examining equality work intersectionally, and thinking about additional levels of disadvantage that can complicate a student’s experience.

For example, religion often intersects with race: I research the experience of Muslim students, who largely belong to the wider BAME group, and they experience specific forms of inequality. My research has made clear that we need to integrate religious equality and race equality work.

In this 2018 report, Jacqueline Stevenson has highlighted the paradoxical way Muslims students are treated: they are both highly visible and invisible, because hostility and general Islamophobia are expressed in a range of different ways. In a different report, Abida Malik has called for an exploration of how policies such as Prevent impact the Muslim student experience. Other authors such as Imran Awan have described how Prevent has fostered fear on campuses as Muslim students are labelled a “suspect community”.

My own research which examines Muslim students’ sense of belonging has largely found positive academic experiences, and follow-up research shows this to be the case at other UK higher education institutions. But my research has also illuminated where universities lack provisions for Muslim students. Specifically, access to Halal food on campus, and the availability of non-alcoholic social events.

One provision in particular garnered plenty of feedback and favourable responses: Ramadan exam considerations. In some universities, including my own for the last few years, when Ramadan coincides with exams, adjustments are put in place for students who are fasting. In both 2018 and 2019, Ramadan took place between May and June, so it’s quite likely that the two periods will coincide. At my university, Muslim students have received direct emails and communication through virtual learning environments which highlighted that they could ask to take their exams in the morning if they were scheduled in the afternoon.

The rationale behind exam adjustments during Ramadan becomes clear if you ask Muslim students how they feel taking exams while fasting. They usually reply that they feel exhausted, dehydrated, and lacking in concentration, especially at the end of the day. As you’re entering the end of your 18-hour fast, it’s highly likely that attainment is impacted.

In my research, when I asked students whether their university provided them with Ramadan exam adjustments, I was usually met with confusion – most didn’t realise that the provision would be possible, or that adjustments existed in some universities. Their journey through GCSEs and A-Levels had instilled in them that they just needed to deal with fasting while taking exams: it was something they had to navigate themselves – some mentioned teachers telling them to “simply not fast”.

These student responses made clear to me that Muslim students are contending with an educational system which doesn’t support their needs, and sometimes makes them choose between faith and education. It would be helpful for universities to offer the possibility for exam adjustments where feasible, even if not every Muslim student would feel the need to use them, or think they were necessary. Thinking more deeply about the intersections of race and religion would help to foster an environment where more students can flourish and feel that their values are respected by their university.

https://wonkhe.com/blogs/muslim-students-need-exam-adjustments-during-ramadan/

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Student who called for Muslims to be 'wiped off the face of the earth' is facing jail

21 November 2019

Jimmy Nsubuga

A student, 22, who called for Muslims to be “wiped off the face of the earth” in a Facebook rant is facing jail.

Louis Duxbury made the 17-minute "call to arms" video shortly after a series of terror attacks in 2017.

A social media user at York St John University, where Duxbury was an undergraduate, saw the post and reported it to the police.

Giving evidence at his trial last week, Duxbury claimed he was exercising his right to free speech.

However, a jury at York Crown Court on Tuesday found him guilty of inciting religious hatred after deliberating for only half an hour.

The Recorder of York, Judge Sean Morris granted the 22-year-old bail until November 29, when he will be sentenced for the offence.

He warned him: "People who incite religious or racial hatred create terrible trouble for our society. It will be a custodial sentence."

The court heard Duxbury was first reported to police about his far-right views as a 15-year-old schoolboy in 2015.

Teachers reported him for an inflammatory anti-Islam comment he posted online following the murder of Fusilier Rigby, it was heard.

Giving evidence at his trial, Duxbury claimed that the 2017 video was a “rant”, adding he believes in a diverse, multi-cultural society.

He claimed he was only talking about extremists and terrorists and not Muslims in general and that he was neither racist nor fascist, claiming he was apolitical.

Defence barrister Glenn Parsons said he could say little in mitigation, but asked for Duxbury to have time to set his affairs in order.

https://uk.news.yahoo.com/racist-anti-muslim-rant-muslims-racist-student-190354858.html?guccounter=1&guce_referrer=aHR0cDovL2MubmV3c25vdy5jby51ay9BLzEwMDk0Nzg2Nzc_LTI4MTg6MTAzNA&guce_referrer_sig=AQAAANUjgrYbB6D1eSmgci1Aywb0WlNkprnv8rsv-reyDEKztyNldE6_ZZonWU7MDzPro-HcYXlnyzGlC5tENnTcyvo5b8wXqVJgwt7Sz5tlUO5nLAGnls4Pjm4nXxCWvzuKl1tgwjF3ynKxXeY1tl4hRqMNHHF6bGZcqnDQRiRIlmbB

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Muslim votes put Tory Islamophobia in the spotlight for crucial marginal seats

Fréa Lockley

20th November 2019

The Muslim Engagement & Development (MEND) advocacy organisation has released important information about 50 marginal seats. As it notes, “50 seats in a ‘hung parliament’ could prove critical”, and Muslim votes are significant in these areas.

MEND has asked all the political parties to respond to a request for policies to tackle Islamophobia. The results could be crucial to secure support from Muslim voters.

Muslim voters could “hold the balance of power”

As MEND stated in a press release:

Data released by MEND established that “the results of up to 50 seats across the country could be swung by Muslim voters”. As it noted, these also include:

Islamophobia

Significantly, some former MPs in marginal seats “have a track record of engaging in or endorsing Islamophobic sentiments or conduct”.

MEND identified:

Zac Goldsmith (Conservative prospective parliamentary candidate (PPC) for Richmond Park, majority of 45). Goldsmith “was accused of running an Islamophobic campaign against Sadiq Khan in the 2016 Mayoral race”.

Bob Blackman (Conservative PPC for Harrow East, majority of 1,757). Blackman “was accused of endorsing Islamophobia after posting an anti-Muslim article on his Facebook page in 2018”.

Henry Smith (Conservative PPC for Crawley, majority of 2,457). Smith “faced criticism after suggesting that there was no Islamophobia in the Conservative Party due to Sajid Javid being a Muslim”.

‘Muslim Manifesto’

MEND has produced a ‘Muslim Manifesto’. This contains a series of “Policy Pledges” on a series of important issues such as:

tackling Islamophobic bullying in our schools, ending Islamophobic discrimination in the workplace and reducing hate crime on our streets. 

MEND has contacted the main political parties to ask which of the Policy Pledges they will sign up to. It stressed that:

It is expected that the Party supporting the greatest number of pledges will harness the greatest share of the crucial Muslim vote, especially in swing seats.

MEND’s CEO Dr Shazad Amin stated:

No one can dictate how individuals will vote but it’s clear that many Muslims have strong views on issues such as the growth and normalisation of Islamophobia in the UK. To influence Government policies to tackle this, it is vital that Muslims are engaged in the political process and vote for parties and candidates that support our policy pledges. Our ‘Get Out And Vote’ website helps Muslim voters do this in an informed and intelligent way.

Tory Islamophobia

So far, the Conservative Party is the only mainstream party not to have adopted the definition of Islamophobia of the All Party Parliamentary Group on British Muslims. At the party’s 2019 conference, meanwhile, attendees defended Islamophobic comments during a panel discussion.

As The Canary‘s Ed Sykes reported, the Muslim community:

has consistently called for official inquiries into Tory Islamophobia. Party leader Boris Johnson, meanwhile, has faced much criticism for his own Islamophobic comments. He also has close allies with alleged links with anti-Muslim organisations. So it’s little surprise that his government has consistently delayed plans to investigate the crisis.

https://www.thecanary.co/uk/news/2019/11/20/muslim-votes-put-tory-islamophobia-in-the-spotlight-for-crucial-marginal-seats/

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Muslim charity dishes out free curry to victims of Doncaster floods

By Darren Burke

Wednesday, 20th November 2019

Volunteers from Al Khair Foundation handed out Chicken Biryani, just hours after dishing out water and other supplies to those in need in Fishlake.

AKF have been distributing hygiene packs, hot drinks and sandwiches to villagers ever since the River Don broke its banks and deluged the village

However the decided that this simply wasn’t enough and returned with hundreds of portions of curry for grateful residents.

Iman Musa of AKF said: "The rice based dish is perfect for filling the families of the village up, and has come at a time when morale was running lower than when resident’s homes were first struck by the high water levels.”

“There has been little respite for those devastated by the flooding . Many of the residents only had half an hour notice to flee their homes, which still remain waterlogged."

“The situation is still very severe”, and we are working around the clock to offer what we can.

“We will carry on this work until the situation stabilises and returns to normal."

Landlord of the Hare and Hounds pub, Scott Godfrey, explained "We’re on higher ground at the pub so we’ve been a bit of a base for the victims.”

Imran Musa said “Many of the flood victims had tears in their eyes we arrived at the Hare and Hounds pub to provide aid "

A local couple from Fishlake explained to AKF volunteers how they “had to get evacuated on a boat” from their family home and highlighted that their current situation has been "really quite distressing for the children.”

They also went on to praise the efforts of the Muslim charity, stressing that without the aid at the pub, they simply “wouldn’t have had anything to eat today.”

https://www.thestar.co.uk/news/muslim-charity-dishes-out-free-curry-victims-doncaster-floods-1311657

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UK Muslim voters: Let's make Rod Liddle's worst nightmares come true

Malia Bouattia

20 November 2019

Rod Liddle’s piece in the latest issue of the Spectator - which was so reactionary that it actually came with a literal warning from the publication - was outrageous, racist, and filled with a bigoted confidence that is only matched by our current prime minister.

The columnist wrote that elections should take place on a day “when universities are closed and Muslims are forbidden to do anything”. This, he claimed, was the best strategy to get the Conservative Party re-elected on 12 December.

If you’ve been a student at any point during Tory rule and the intensification of a privatised and marketised education system, and/or are Muslim, this probably feels like nothing you don’t already know. It almost served as a reminder that two groups that have historically served some of the most progressive movements in the country’s recent history, and been demonised in the process, remain a considerable threat to the right.

Strategic repression

Indeed, despite himself, Liddle shone a light on an important reality: the Tories rely on older and whiter voters, as well as demobilisation of the electorate, to make it into power.

Liddle’s comments may have been batted away by his editor as a “joke”, but they do reflect the tactics that have been adopted by the right over the years.

The repression of sections of society takes place in a variety of ways, from economic deprivation, to unequal access to education, to draconian and racialised laws. When those fail to deliver the desired results, actual assaults on voter rights follow. It is therefore not surprising that an embattled Tory party would now want to make access to the ballot box more restrictive under the ruse of tackling voter fraud.

The Tories rely on older and whiter voters, as well as demobilisation of the electorate, to make it into power

The case of the student movement is a telling one. In 2010, when the coalition government announced the tripling of tuition fees, students mobilised across the UK. They reacted angrily to both the pricing out of many from higher education, as well as the betrayal by the Liberal Democrats, who - after campaigning against fee rises - propped up the Tory assault in parliament. This is one of many betrayals by the Liberal Democrats that voters should remember next month.

The response from the government at the time was to criminalise the protests, and to turn public opinion against the students. From arresting campaigners, to over-policing young people on their own campuses, state forces did all they could to repress the collective action. 

Relentless attacks

Since 2010, the onslaught against students, academics and the very fabric of education has not relented. Job cuts, course closures, and assaults on lecturers’ pay and conditions have intensified, while political life on campus has also been targeted.

From the Prevent strategy, to the relentless attacks on student groups that refuse to invite bigots and right-wingers onto their campuses, the political right and its media pundits have not ceased to denounce progressive student activism - so much so, that one could assume the most pressing issue impacting education today, is the ban on clapping within students’ unions, rather than the wholesale dismantling of a crucial public institution.

Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson (L) and Britain's Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn (R) as they debate on the ITV Debate on 19 November (AFP)

Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson (L) and Britain's Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn (R) as they debate on the ITV Debate on 19 November (AFP)

Why focus on the sale of the student loan book, the lack of fair pay and working conditions for staff in higher education, or the pricing out of the poorest students from their passions, when you can be distracted by the supposed silliness of jazz hands or the desire to be sensitive to people’s gender, racial, or sexual identities?

The state has also specifically targeted Muslims and activists under the pretence of fighting radicalisation. Institutionalised through the Counter-Terrorism and Security Act in 2015, and strengthened through moral panic campaigns and massive state funding over the years, Prevent enables officers to target everything from Palestine activism, to anti-imperialism, to opposition to fracking.

If there’s an anti-Islamophobia event scheduled on campus, organisers are often faced with attempts to undermine it. Speakers are screened and sometimes dragged through the press, and organisers are warned that it could constitute a security threat because people have called for a counter-protest, or the far-right has threatened disruption.

Funding can be put into question on the basis of ridiculous, last-minute “requirements” from local authorities.

Youth mobilisation

Yet, while such forms of repression might debilitate groups and movements at certain points, and make the ability to self-organise and speak up much more difficult, it also drives people to action. Anti-Prevent campaigns have taken hold in higher education institutions, the UK’s three largest education unions have all condemned the policy, and the government has even been forced to review the strategy.

Youth mobilisation has not been limited to fighting Prevent. When the results of the snap general election were announced in 2017, I remember being in the ITN studios - after having run a voter registration campaign in my position as president of the National Union of Students - with other activists, politicians, journalists and commentators, all ready to comment on Labour’s predicted failure.

Instead, they all sat in total shock. A famous media pundit suddenly jumped up and shouted towards me: “You did this, you millennials - you did it!”

She was right: the impact of young people and students was crucial in how the election played out. More than half of those aged 18-24 turned out to vote, and most voted for Labour, as did the majority of people of colour.

If you consider that this was the outcome of just a few weeks of voter registration drives and campaigns, imagine the potential with more time, growing frustration with the Tory government, and the largest membership base in the Labour Party’s history.

Tory desperation

So you see, Rod Liddle was perhaps simply stating what the numbers have already shown the Conservatives. Their poor attempts at engaging young people, which even included organising the “Conservative Ideas Festival” - an alternative to Glastonbury - shows just how desperate they have become.

Let's flood the ballot boxes and kick the Conservatives and their millionaire friends out of power

The party depends on poverty, social marginalisation and racist repression on the streets, across borders and in every public institution, to ensure that those who are dangerous to their power - students, Muslims and working-class communities - do not show up to vote. Perhaps we should take it as a compliment that we are deemed a hopeless cause when it comes to coaxing us towards the right?

After nearly a decade of Tory austerity, repression and institutionalised violence against the vulnerable, it is time to make Rod Liddle’s worst nightmares come true: let’s flood the ballot boxes and kick the Conservatives and their millionaire friends out of power.

The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Eye.

https://www.middleeasteye.net/opinion/lets-make-rod-liddles-worst-nightmares-come-true

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Healthy Interactions Achieves Sustained Positive 5-Year Outcomes for People with Diabetes During Ramadan, New Research Finds

CHICAGO (PRWEB) NOVEMBER 20, 2019

Over the past 14 years, Healthy Interactions’ programs have improved the lives of over 35 million people with chronic conditions. A new 48-month long study was presented at the American Diabetes Association’s 78th Scientific Sessions meeting by Clalit Health Services Research Institute (with Dr. Einav Srulovici as the principal investigator), validating the long-term efficacy and impact of Healthy Interactions’ programs. The study was funded by and conducted in collaboration with Eli Lilly and Company.

The Managing Diabetes During Ramadan Conversation MapTM session is a self-management education, group-based intervention for Muslim individuals with type 2 diabetes, specifically addressing diabetes management during Ramadan. According to Calanit Key, the head of the community nursing division at Clalit Health Services: “The community nurse has a significant role in improving and promoting the health of patients with diabetes. The Ramadan fast is an important time period to empower patients with diabetes to self-manage their diabetes while keeping their religious obligations. The Ramadan Conversation Map, which is conducted in Arabic, allows that culturally oriented guidance. The group intervention, led by community nurses has the potential to improve the health of patients with diabetes more than other interventions. Healthy Interactions programs were conducted at Clalit’s clinics. Some individuals with diabetes fast during Ramadan despite medical concerns for risk of adverse outcomes.

The aim of this study (shared July 2019) was to evaluate the effectiveness of the Managing Diabetes During Ramadan Conversation Map intervention in improving short- term clinical outcomes and reducing healthcare utilization following Ramadan. Participants were Clalit Health Services members with type 2 diabetes who participated in the intervention between 2014 and 2017 across Israel. This study included 1,732 participants who enrolled in the intervention over the five-year study period. The cohort was mainly between the ages of 45 and 74 years (83.3%), female (71.9%), of lower socioeconomic status (92.1%), with a diabetes duration of 10 years or more (51.7%), obese (64.0%), and had never smoked (73.8%). Post intervention, participants experienced a reduction of 8.61 mg/dL in their glucose levels (p = 0.005) and 0.34% in their HbA1c levels (p less than 0.001). In a sub-group analysis of participants with HbA1c greater than 7%, larger reductions in glucose (17.02 mg/dL [p less than 0.001]) and HbA1c (0.63% [p less than 0.001]) levels were recorded. This sub-group also experienced a reduction of 4.83 mg/dL in LDL level (p = 0.007) and had 0.2 fewer primary care visits (p less than 0.001).

Participation in the Managing Diabetes During Ramadan Conversation Map improved patient glucose and HbA1c levels. A greater benefit was reported in those individuals with HbA1c greater than 7%. These findings hold important global health implications for the millions of individuals with type 2 diabetes for whom Ramadan can pose a challenge in disease control. “It is very challenging to manage one’s diabetes while fasting from sun up to sun down during Ramadan. It was an honor to develop and deploy our Managing Diabetes During Ramadan program. We are thrilled to help people manage their diabetes during Ramadan. We are thankful to Clalit Research Institute for taking the initiative to conduct such a comprehensive study of our program” stated Peter Gorman, COO of Healthy Interactions.

About Healthy Interactions

A global leader in health education, Healthy Interactions, creates powerful educational approaches that inspire valuable insights and change personal health behaviors. We build partnerships with leading medical and disease associations, not-for-profit organizations, corporations, and healthcare professionals. Our approaches enable millions of people to take control of their health and live their best lives. Our digital tools empower healthcare consumers to move toward their goals by providing information, tracking, and ongoing interactions with peers and health educators. The result is that patients become more active partners in their health, which improves the outcomes of their diseases. We partner with health systems and clinics across the U.S. and with pharmaceutical companies that sponsor our programs around the world. For more information about Healthy Interactions and our Conversation Map® programs, please contact: info@healthyinteractions.

About Clalit Health Services

Clalit Health Services is the largest health care payer and provider organization in Israel with over 4.4 million members and runs its own network of hospitals and clinics across the country. It operates 14 hospitals, including psychiatric hospitals and a rehabilitation hospital and over 1,200 primary care clinics as well as a network of pharmacies and dental clinics. It has a nationally utilized electronic health record system that started in 1998 and has integrated both inpatient and outpatient healthcare records of Clalit members most of whom stay in the HMO throughout their lifespan.

https://www.prweb.com/releases/healthy_interactions_achieves_sustained_positive_5_year_outcomes_for_people_with_diabetes_during_ramadan_new_research_finds/prweb16676760.htm

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North America

 

U.S. State Department nominee Biegun says China action against Muslims 'unacceptable'

NOVEMBER 20, 2019

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The nominee for the U.S. State Department’s number-two position said on Wednesday he had no reason to doubt reports about China’s treatment of ethnic minorities, including the Uighurs, and the elimination of Muslim heritage sites.

“I have no reason to question the veracity of these, and in fact I think all of these reports suggest an appalling type of behaviour that is targeted against an ethnic population and a religious community in China, and it’s unacceptable,” Stephen Biegun said during his hearing before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

https://uk.reuters.com/article/uk-usa-biegun-china/u-s-state-department-nominee-biegun-says-china-action-against-muslims-unacceptable-idUKKBN1XU29X?rpc=401&

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Pope Francis kicks off Asia tour with Buddhist temple visit

Nov 21, 2019

BANGKOK: Pope Francis will visit one of Thailand's famed gilded temples Thursday to meet the supreme Buddhist patriarch, on the first full day of his Asian tour aimed at promoting religious harmony.

The 82-year-old pontiff is on his first visit to Buddhist majority Thailand, where he will spend four days before setting off to Japan.

His packed schedule a day after touching down in Bangkok includes a meeting with the king and the prime minister before leading an evening mass expected to draw tens of thousands of people from across Thailand, where just over 0.5 percent of the population is Catholic.

He also has an appointment with the Buddhist Supreme Patriarch at the glittering gold Ratchabophit temple in Thailand's historic old quarter, built 150 years ago by Thailand's former king mixing traditional and gothic styles.

It is a highly symbolic visit for the head of the world's 1.3 billion Catholics, who carries a message of peace, religious tolerance and nuclear disarmament on his sweep through Asia.

"Pope Francis always respects other religions, always treats his counterparts with respect... that's why he would like to pay respect to the leader" of the Buddhist faith in Thailand, said Chainarong Monthienvichienchai, who helped with some of the visit planning.

Before arriving, Francis praised the Southeast Asian country as a "multi-ethnic nation", and hoped his trip would strengthen the Catholic community's bonds of friendship with "many Buddhist brothers and sisters".

Earlier Thursday the Pope was met by Thailand's Prime Minister Prayut Cha-O-Cha at government house for a red carpet welcome with dozens of top officials.

He was accompanied by his cousin Sister Ana Rosa, who has lived in Thailand for decades and will be accompanying the pontiff as a translator.

In a speech to civil society, officials and diplomats, he said the visit with the patriarch was "a sign of the importance and urgency of promoting friendship and interreligious dialogue".

The Pope's trip to Thailand is the first papal trip to the country since pope John Paul II visited in 1984.

It coincides with the 350th anniversary of the first Catholic missionaries who established the "Mission de Siam" in the late 17th century.

Pope Francis arrived Wednesday in the Thai capital where he was greeted by cheering worshippers who lined the streets hoping for a glimpse of the Catholic leader in his motorcade.

He heads to Japan on Saturday, where he will visit Hiroshima and Nagasaki, two cities devastated when the US dropped atomic bombs at the end of World War II in 1945.

The pope, who years ago had hoped to be a missionary in Japan, has made strong calls for the ban of the "immoral" use of nuclear weapons.

Since Francis' election six years ago, he has made two trips to Asia, visiting the Philippines and Sri Lanka in 2014, followed by Myanmar and Bangladesh in 2017.

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/rest-of-world/pope-francis-kicks-off-asia-tour-with-buddhist-temple-visit/articleshow/72153162.cms

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Population Growth of Six Muslim Republics Far Exceeds Population Decline of Rest of Post-Soviet Space

Wednesday, November 20, 2019

Paul Goble

Staunton, November 17 -- Since the last USSR census in 1989, population increases in the six Muslim post-Soviet states have more than compensated for the total decline of the other nine. As a result, the share of the populations of these six has increased from 20 percent of the total to 28 percent, Yevgeny Chernyshov of the Nakanune news agency says.

Citing research published in Demoscope Weekly, he stresses that “the majority of demographic processes taking place in all these republics are qualitatively similar but very strongly diverging quantitively.” Among these most prominently is the fertility rate (nakanune.ru/news/2019/11/18/22558445/).

That rate has fallen everywhere, but “in all the countries of Central Asia it is higher than the level needed for reproducing the population while in all the others it is lower than that level. At present, women in Tajikistan have 3.8 children per lifetime; in Kyrgyzstan, 3.3; in Turkmenistan, 3.2; in Kazakhstan, 3.0; and in Uzbekistan, 2.5.

Since 1989, the population of Turkmenistan has increased 80 percent; that of Uzbeksitan and Turkmenistan, 70 percent; of Kyrgyzstan, 50 percent; and in Azerbaijan, 40 percent. (In Kazakhstan, that follows a 12 percent decline as the result of outmigration during the 1990s.) The others declined with the greatest declines in Georgia, Latvia, Lithuania and Ukraine.

This pattern is striking because prior to the disintegration of the USSR, “a decline in population was not observed in a single one of the union republics, although in all republics of the European part of the USSR, birthrates already were below replacement levels, Chernyshov says.

What this means is that if the Soviet Union had not disintegrated, its total population would be 298 million, up from 286 million in 1989, with that increase coming exclusively from the growth of the six Muslim republics. In all of these countries, life expectancy has increased, with Estonia the highest at 78 years and Turkmenistan the lowest with 68.

The greatest variation is in median age. In Lithuania and Latvia, it is 43, with Lithuania’s having increased by 11 years since 1991. In the Muslim republics with their rapid population growth, it is much lower – 22 in Tajikistan, 26 in Kyrgyzstan, 27 in Turkmenistan, 28 in Uzbekistan, 30 in Kazakhstan and 32 in Azerbaijan.

And that in turn affects the percentage of the population consisting of children under age 15. In Tajikistan, 37 percent of the population is younger than that; in Kyrgyzstan, 33 percent; in Turkmenistan, 31 percent; and in Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan, 29 percent. In Russia, the share of children in the population, in contrast, is only 18 percent.

http://windowoneurasia2.blogspot.com/2019/11/population-growth-of-six-muslim.html

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Treasury Sanctions an Islamic State Network in Turkey – For the Third Time this Year

Aykan Erdemir

The U.S. Department of the Treasury designated three Turkish entities and two Turkish citizens on Monday for “providing critical financial and logistical support to ISIS.” These designations – the third set in just seven months targeting a Turkey-based network – expose the extent to which the Islamic State has exploited the permissive environment Ankara has cultivated.

Monday’s designations by the Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) sanctioned two Turkish brothers who act as IS procurement agents, Ahmet and Ismail Bayaltun, as well as multiple front companies responsible for providing financial and material support for IS. According to OFAC, these companies have facilitated transfers of money to IS operatives, held deposits from IS-linked individuals, and aided in the transfer of foreign donations to IS headquarters.

This round of sanctions follows designations released on April 15 and September 10, all of which demonstrate Washington’s heightened vigilance against IS financial networks operating within the borders of an increasingly adversarial NATO member state. Over the course of the Syrian civil war, Turkey’s Islamist government led by Recep Tayyip Erdogan has turned a blind eye to various jihadist groups exploiting its porous border. This year’s back-to-back designations show that Turkey remains a permissive jurisdiction for terrorist networks to operate.

Last month, after U.S. troops found and killed Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi less than three miles from Turkey’s border with Syria, the Erdogan government faced increased allegations of negligence and complicity with the jihadist group. Soon after, Ankara began a frantic roundup of IS operatives and associates within its jurisdiction. It also revealed it had been detaining key IS figures since 2018, but failed to mention them to allies for over a year.

The Turkish government simultaneously launched an aggressive public relations campaign to demonstrate its vigilance, with Erdogan and his officials giving statements almost daily on their latest successes against IS networks. In just the past month, Ankara announced the arrest of al-Baghdadi’s sister alongside seven other family members and five IS militants, including the group’s intelligence chief.

It is not clear whether Ankara’s newfound vigor will persist for long after Erdogan’s November 13 meeting with Donald Trump. Just this week, the head of Iraq’s Military Intelligence warned that senior IS figures have access to enormous amounts of cash and are forming new cells in Turkey. He added, “Those elements who are right now in Turkey play a key role in the recruitment of fighters and terrorists.”

Similarly, in a quarterly report that the Pentagon’s inspector general released on Tuesday, the Defense Intelligence Agency assessed that the Islamic State “exploited the Turkish incursion and subsequent drawdown of U.S. troops to reconstitute capabilities and resources within Syria and strengthen its ability to plan attacks abroad.”

Trump, who showered Erdogan with praise when the Turkish strongman visited Washington last week, would fare better by warning Erdogan not to undermine U.S. efforts to fight the Islamic State. If Erdogan invested as much effort in pursuing jihadists as he does in silencing dissidents, Turkey would no longer be a primary destination for the Islamic State and other extremists.

https://www.fdd.org/analysis/2019/11/20/treasury-sanctions-an-islamic-state-network-in-turkey-%E2%80%93-for-the-third-time-this-year/

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SEALs face review following death of Islamic State militant

By JULIE WATSON and LOLITA BALDOR

SAN DIEGO (AP) — Navy officials on Wednesday notified a SEAL convicted of posing with a dead Islamic State militant and three of his superior officers during a 2017 deployment to Iraq that all four will face a review to determine if they should remain on the elite force.

Attorneys for Chief Petty Officer Edward Gallagher said the Navy is trying to remove his Trident pin, designating him as a SEAL, in retaliation for President Donald Trump’s decision last week to restore his rank.

Gallagher was acquitted last summer of a murder charge in the stabbing death of the militant captive, but a military jury convicted him of posing with the corpse while in Iraq in 2017. He also was acquitted of attempted murder for allegedly shooting at civilians.

His lawyers said Wednesday they have filed a complaint with the inspector general’s office accusing Rear Adm. Collin Green of insubordination for defying Trump’s actions and asking for an investigation into the Navy’s handling of Gallagher’s case. Green is the Naval Special Warfare commander.

It was the latest twist in what has been a tumultuous case that has shaken the secretive SEAL community and revealed rifts within its ranks after SEALs testified against one of their own. The case was dogged from the start with the Navy’s lead prosecutor being removed in the middle of the court-martial after it was discovered the prosecution was tracking the defense team’s emails.

Trump restored Gallagher’s rank on Friday after he was demoted from chief following his conviction. “What the bureaucracy is doing to him now is pure and simple retaliation,” said Marc Mukasey, one of Gallagher’s lawyers.

Two U.S. officials familiar with the case but not authorized to speak publicly disputed that and said discussions about convening a review board began shortly after Gallagher’s conviction in July.

Eugene Fidell, who teaches military justice at Yale Law School, said he’s not surprised the Navy would call for a review. “I think this would have happened anyway to a SEAL with a court-martial conviction,” he said.

In a letter from Green, obtained by The Associated Press, Gallagher was notified that a peer-review board has been instructed to determine whether he should remain a SEAL.

The five-person board will convene Dec. 2 behind closed doors. It will include one SEAL officer and four senior enlisted SEALs, according to the two U.S. officials. Gallagher can appear once before the board on Dec. 4 but without his lawyers. He can dispute the evidence given to the board that will include his conviction and call witnesses. He also can appeal the final decision that will be made by the Naval Personnel Board, which will take into account Green’s input and the board’s recommendations.

Green also notified three SEAL officers who oversaw Gallagher during the deployment — Lt. Cmdr. Robert Breisch, Lt. Jacob Portier and Lt. Thomas MacNeil, according to the officials.

Removing their Trident pins means they will no longer be SEALs but could remain in the Navy, though Portier and Gallagher were already planning on leaving the service. Still it would be considered a mark on their career that they were cast out of the prestigious force.

The Navy has revoked 154 Trident pins since 2011.

The other three officers will go before three-person boards. Attorneys for Breisch and MacNeil could not be immediately reached for comment.

According to Portier’s letter, his review board has been instructed to specifically look at Portier’s 2017 deployment in Iraq and his actions through July 2019 to see if he “displayed a gross lack of professional or personal judgment, lack of moral or ethical behavior and/or conduct inconsistent with the SEAL ethos.”

Portier was Gallagher’s platoon commander and was charged with failing to report the alleged murder. He denied the charges and they were dropped after the jury acquitted Gallagher of murder.

His attorney, Jeremiah Sullivan said Trump recognizes “the honorable sacrifices that my client has made in his combat deployments,” and that Green is challenging the “integrity of the president.”

Naval Special Warfare spokeswoman, Capt. Tamara Lawrence, said in a statement that Green “remains focused on delivering a capable, ready, and lethal maritime special operations force in support of national security objectives, which includes assessing the suitability of any member of his force via administrative processes.”

_____

Baldor reported from Washington.

https://apnews.com/e7a121e4490e4233bc54b6f9cc6db47a

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Islamic State Exploited Turkey’s Syria Invasion, Drawdown of US Troops: Pentagon Report

NOVEMBER 20, 2019

Islamic State has exploited Turkey’s incursion into northeastern Syria and the drawdown of US troops from the region, according to a report published on Tuesday by the Pentagon’s Inspector General, adding that the militant group will likely have the “time and space” to target the West.

President Donald Trump has softened his pullout plans for Syria after a backlash from Congress, including among key Republicans who say he cleared the way for a long-threatened Turkish incursion against the SDF, which had been America’s top ally in the battle against Islamic State.

Amid concerns that Islamic State could stage a resurgence in the ensuing power vacuum, Trump said a small number of US troops would remain in Syria to protect oil fields.

The Pentagon has said that once the partial US withdrawal was finished, the US military would still have roughly around 600 troops in Syria.

Citing the Pentagon’s Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), a report published by the Inspector General said, “ISIS exploited the Turkish incursion and subsequent drawdown of US troops to reconstitute capabilities and resources within Syria and strengthen its ability to plan attacks abroad.”

The Turkish incursion last month into northeastern Syria dubbed Operation Peace Spring drew international condemnation.

The report, citing the DIA, also said that the death of Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi “would likely have little effect on ISIS’s ability to reconstitute.”

Baghdadi died alongside some of his children by detonating an explosive-laden vest when he fled US forces during an attack in northwest Syria.

https://www.algemeiner.com/2019/11/20/islamic-state-exploited-turkeys-syria-invasion-drawdown-of-us-troops-pentagon-report/

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Africa

 

Islamic State claims responsibility for killing 30 Malian soldiers

NOVEMBER 21, 2019

DAKAR (Reuters) - Islamic State’s West African affiliate claimed responsibility on Wednesday for an attack on an army patrol in northern Mali that killed 30 soldiers, according to a statement published by the SITE Intelligence Group.

Dozens of other soldiers were wounded in the ambush on Monday in Tabankort, in Mali’s Gao region, the army said.

The attack was the third major strike against Malian forces in the last two months by jihadist groups. The militants are mounting increasingly sophisticated operations across the Sahel region, a narrow band of scrubland below the Sahara.

Islamic State claimed responsibility for an attack on an army post in early November that killed at least 53 soldiers, while an al Qaeda affiliate said it carried out coordinated raids in late September that killed 38 soldiers.

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-mali-security/islamic-state-claims-responsibility-for-killing-30-malian-soldiers-idUSKBN1XU2GR

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Sudan arrests two Islamists over participation in al-Bashir’s coup

November 20, 2019 (KHARTOUM) - Sudanese authorities, on Wednesday, arrested the Secretary-General of the Popular Congress Party (PCP) and leading figure Ibrahim al-Sanusi for taking part in the Islamist coup that brought to power former President Omer al-Bashir on June 30, 1989.

"I learned from the Secretariat that a force from the Public Prosecution came, with a warrant against us, he said in a statement before his arrest.

"We are accused of taking hostile action against the state. This case is not new and expected at any time, a purely political issue, and a political plot, but we have complied with the order and now we will go to the prosecution," he added.

The PCP was established after a split within the National Congress Party in 1999 on the backdrop of a difference between its founder Hassan al-Turabi and several Islamists led by al-Bashir.

On November 12, the coordinator of the Legal Committee for the ruling coalition Forces for Freedom and Change (FFC) Mohamed Hassan Arabi, said that the criminal prosecution had launched the investigation into the 1989 coup and ordered to arrest all members of the military command council of the coup.

Arabi, further, said that Ali al-Haj and al-Sanusi were among those who are facing arrest warrants.

A statement from the PCP Justice and Human Rights Secretariat said that the investigation committee on the 1989 coup issued an arrest warrant for the PCP leader

The party confirmed that al-Haj was transferred to Kober Prison until the start of the investigation.

For his part, the political secretary of the popular, Idris Suleiman, described the prosecution as politicized and considered he legal action against al-Haj "Whatever its form" violates the freedoms and justice and customs and traditions of the Sudanese people.

The transitional government has been criticized for the slow pace of legal measures against the Islamist who seized power for 30 years.

http://www.sudantribune.com/spip.php?article68554

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Pakistan

 

Award for PM Imran Khan by UK Sikh groups

Murtaza Ali Shah

November 21, 2019

LONDON: Prime Minister Imran Khan has been given “Lifetime Achievement” by two leading British Sikh organisations at the City Hall during the 550th birth anniversary of the founder of the Sikh faith, Guru Nanak Dev Ji.

The event at the City Hall was co-hosted by the Sikh Network, Sikh Federation (UK) and Dr Onkar Sahota, member of the London Assembly in collaboration with the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan.

The event, attended by dozens of Sikh figures and others from across Britain, celebrated the life and teachings of Guru Nanak Dev Ji focusing on his universal message of wellbeing “Sarbat da Bhalaa”.

Sahibzada Jahangir, spokesman for Prime Minister of Pakistan for Trade & Investment in UK & Europe, received award on behalf of the Prime Minister of Pakistan.

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan welcomed guests to the City Hall and highlighted the achievements and contributions of Sikhs in the UK. Khan expressed his admiration for the Sikh community and Sikh religion’s teachings of striving for equality, acceptance and oneness.

Preet Kaur Gill, Dr Onkar Sahota, Deputy Mayor Debbie Weekes-Bernard, Satpal Singh, Jas Singh, Canon Mark Poulson and others poke during the event.

Sahibzada Jahangir suggested the Kartarpur Corridor reinforced the idea of Sikhs as a bridge between cultures and countries. He went on to express how honoured the PM would be to receive this recognition and how keen he was to support Sikhs visiting Pakistan.

He said that it was a matter of pride for Khan’s government that “tremendous work” on Kartarpur Corridor was completed in the shortest possible period of nine months in order to make it possible for the Sikh Community to come to Kartarpur to join in time for Sri Guru Nanak Dev J’s celebrations.

Jahangir said: “It all became possible because of Imran Khan’s love and passion for peace & humanity. I invite Sikhs from all around the world to come to Pakistan and enjoy our brotherly hospitality and love. Pakistan is now open for foreign investment as the country’s natural resources offers them great opportunities & their assets under the leadership of Imran Khan will be 100 percent protected at all times.”

Dabinderjit Singh OBE, principal adviser to the Sikh Federation (UK), highlighted the importance of Guru Nanak Dev Ji’s message that those who choose the Guru’s Path should not listen to what others say and never flinch from performing righteous deeds. He appreciated the Kartarpur Sahib Yatra Committee who are undertaking an accommodation building project to provide UK pilgrims with first class facilities.

Manchandan Kaur from the Sikh Network commented: “The move from Parliament to City Hall to mark the 550th anniversary of Guru Nanak Dev Ji’s Gurpurb was positively received by our esteemed guests. It is our hope that each of our guests left the evening with a glimmer of Guru Ji’s message inside them.

https://www.thenews.com.pk/latest/572180-award-for-pm-imran-khan-by-uk-sikh-groups

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Nothing to worry about in foreign funding case, Imran assures PTI

Syed Irfan

November 21, 2019

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan on Wednesday asked party leaders not to worry about the foreign funding case against the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) after the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) ordered hearing of the case on a day-to-day basis.

Addressing a meeting with government spokespersons at Prime Minister Office, Mr Khan said that the PTI had already got audit of the party funds conducted and its proof had been submitted to the courts and relevant forums.

Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Information Dr Firdous Ashiq Awan said Imran Khan was of the view that the ECP could try any case, but it was the government request to hear cases of all three major parties — PTI, Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) and Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) simultaneously.

Says Nawaz sent abroad on basis of his medical reports

“We have already filed applications in the ECP for probing the party funding of PPP and PML-N; therefore, we demand that the commission should hear cases of three parties at the same time and not to single out PTI,” Mr Khan was quoted as saying. “Party members should not be worried regarding the foreign funding case because party funds have already been audited and their reports have been presented before the courts,” he added.

The meeting also discussed the speech of Chief Justice of Pakistan Asif Saeed Khosa in which he said Prime Minister Khan himself had allowed Nawaz Sharif to leave the country. At the meeting, Mr Khan asked the party leaders not to give any statement about the chief justice.

“The government will discuss the issue with the party’s legal team and then it will decide whether to respond to the statement of the chief justice or not,” Ms Awan said.

Mr Khan also spoke on the departure of the former prime minister in the backdrop of criticism on social media that why Nawaz Sharif, who did not look in critical condition in a footage in London, had been allowed to leave the country. Mr Khan said the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) leaders had been exposed. “People are seeing Nawaz Sharif’s activities in London,” he added.

He said the sons of Nawaz Sharif, who received him in London, had been declared proclaimed offenders by the accountability court of Islamabad. He said Nawaz Sharif was allowed to leave the country on the court’s order and on the basis of medical reports.

Talking about criticism of the opposition against the government, he said the opposition was scared of the government’s success in stabilising the economy.

The meeting also reviewed a speech of the chairman of the National Accountability Bureau, Javed Iqbal, in which the latter hinted at holding the government accountable for its 14 months in power.

The prime minister was of the view that NAB was an independent organisation and the government would not create any obstacle in its way.

About the Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam-F’s dharna in Islamabad, the prime minister said Maulana Fazlur Rehman was trying to cover up his failure of his flopped agitation progamme.

“Maulana’s politics is over,” he added.

https://www.dawn.com/news/1517915/nothing-to-worry-about-in-foreign-funding-case-imran-assures-pti

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Shaniera Akram wins hearts with remarks about Pakistan's National Anthem

November 21, 2019

Wasim Akram’s wife Shaniera has won the hearts of the countrymen with her love and respect for Pakistan, saying the National Anthem of Pakistan makes her emotional.

Her latest posts, ahead of Pakistan vs Australia Test series opener at the Gabba, made the entire nation proud as the wife of legendary cricketer said: "I was born and bred an Australian but I have come to live my life for and with the people of Pakistan."

Taking to her twitter handle, Shaniera wrote: “Pakistan has been good to me and plays a big part of who I am today. I love Australia and always will but I am with Pakistan all the way Pakistan ZINDABAD."

In another  post  the wife of  Swing of Sultan   shared her  sincere  emotions about Pakistan and   said: "It’s very hard for me to choose between Australia and Pakistan for the #AUSvPak test but I must admit I just got a little bit emotional when they just played the National Anthem for Pakistan."

Wasim Akram, in a small ceremony attended by his family and close friends, married Australian lady Shaniera Akram in 2013  after the sad demise of his wife in 2009 due to multiple organ failure.

https://www.thenews.com.pk/latest/572191-shaniera-akram-wins-hearts-with-remarks-about-pakistans-national-anthem

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Southeast Asia

 

Myanmar town offers glimmer of hope for Muslims enduring 'apartheid'

Nov 21, 2019

KYAUKPHYU, Myanmar: Htoo Maung sits down to lunch, sharing a bowl of traditional noodle soup with old friends, an ordinary act that has become extraordinary in Myanmar's Rakhine state -- because he is Muslim, and they are Buddhist.

They used to live side by side as neighbours.

But now he can only visit them under a strict curfew enforced by armed guards before he must return to the muddy camp where he and the rest of Kyaukphyu town's Muslims have been confined for seven years.

In 2012 inter-communal unrest swept through swathes of western Myanmar, including Htoo Maung's home town, after allegations spread that a Buddhist woman had been raped by Muslim men.

Mobs ransacked homes and police rounded up Muslims for their "own safety" to sites that would later be turned into camps.

More than 200 died, tens of thousands were displaced and the stage was set for the bloody purge of hundreds of thousands of Rohingya Muslims in northern Rakhine five years later.

Many fear the enduring deep sectarian suspicions and religious divisions are irrevocable and authorities claim any attempt to reintegrate communities could trigger new unrest.

But some Muslims in Kyaukphyu have managed to maintain a cautious relationship with Buddhist friends, raising hopes that old communal bonds may not be completely severed.

"The people from the town didn't attack us," Htoo Maung says, suggesting outsiders were to blame.

Kyaukphyu ethnic Rakhine MP Kyaw Than insists his town is ready to welcome the Muslims back, but can only do so with the government's green light.

"Everyone in the camp is a citizen," he says, decrying the "lack of humanity" shown to the town's Muslim population.

But there is no forgetting the new social order.

Htoo Maung, whose name has been changed to protect his identity, and the other Muslims from the camp are only permitted to visit town for two hours at a time under the chaperone of weapon-wielding police.

He is bereft at the loss of his old life.

"I feel so sad -- I never imagined this could happen." Htoo Maung tells AFP, as he looks at the overgrown patch of land where his house once stood.

He adds: "We are not illegal."

He and many others in the camp are Kaman Muslims. Unlike the Rohingya, they are an officially recognised minority in Buddhist-majority Myanmar.

But their status did little to help them as the unrest spread.

Before the attacks, some were teachers, lawyers and judges, while others fished or drove ox carts transporting cargo and people between the shore and the wooden boats that moor off the working beach.

Those jobs in the town are now exclusively carried out by ethnic Rakhine Buddhists, who have also taken over any still-intact homes of Muslims.

Saw Pu Chay leads a women's rights group in a downtown building that served as a mosque before 2012.

Cavities in the wall where Islamic symbols were gouged out stand testament to the 2012 violence.

The 53-year-old defends using the building, saying local Muslim friends sometimes stop by to see her on their way from the camp to the market.

"I know them well as we've lived alongside them since we were young. They've lived here for generations," she says, while making it clear she considers the Rohingya further north as unwelcome outsiders.

Kyaukphyu camp residents are desperate for a chance to rebuild their lives.

"It's just like a prison," says camp leader Phyu Chay of his current 'home', adding: "There are no jobs and we struggle to get hold of proper medication."

Some 130,000 Muslims, the vast majority Rohingya, are languishing in various camps in central Rakhine.

Hundreds of thousands more fare little better, trapped in villages with virtually no freedom of movement.

Amnesty International brands the "institutionalised system of segregation and discrimination" so severe it constitutes "apartheid".

They continue to lack access to education, healthcare and work -- a situation Amnesty's Laura Haigh describes as both "unacceptable and criminal".

Many have been forced to accept a controversial National Verification Card (NVC), a limbo status offering few rights until holders "prove" their claim to full citizenship.

Rights groups condemn the NVC as a discriminatory tool foisted on many Muslims -- particularly Rohingya -- who they say should already be treated as full citizens.

Few have successfully negotiated the convoluted bureaucratic path to obtain full ID.

Authorities did not respond to requests for comment.

Under international pressure, the government has announced it will close all the camps.

But in the current plan, those "freed" would not be allowed to return to their former homes.

Instead they would be resettled in new accommodation close to the former camps with continuing heavy restrictions on movement.

The UN, NGOs and rights groups fear the strategy simply "risks entrenching segregation" and urge the government to grant Rakhine's Muslims the full freedoms they deserve.

Phyu Chay says: "All our human rights have been violated."

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/rest-of-world/myanmar-town-offers-glimmer-of-hope-for-muslims-enduring-apartheid/articleshow/72153222.cms

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Don’t like me? Then say so, Dr M chides absent MPs

Minderjeet Kaur

November 21, 2019

KUALA LUMPUR: Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad today took to task MPs who were absent from the Dewan Rakyat sitting yesterday after a lack of quorum caused proceedings to be delayed for the second time in two months.

Speaking to reporters after officiating an event here, he said he would be talking to them about the matter.

“They were anxious to become candidates before the election, but after they were elected they don’t seem to be very serious about serving the people,” he said.

The Dewan Rakyat sitting yesterday was delayed by two minutes as there were only 24 MPs in the hall, two short of the minimum required under Dewan Rakyat Meeting Standing Order Number 13 (1).

In October, proceedings were also delayed due to a lack of quorum, sparking criticism of the administration by the opposition.

When asked if the absence of MPs could be a sign of protest against him as prime minister, Mahathir said there are many other ways of expressing such views.

“If they don’t like me, then they (can) say so openly,” he added.

“I am open to criticism. When we become leaders, we must expect this.”

He said he agreed with PKR president Anwar Ibrahim on the matter, adding that those who wish to dispute his position should do so “in the right way”.

“It shouldn’t be through the back door,” he said.

Yesterday, Anwar refuted claims that several Pakatan Harapan (PH) component party leaders were planning to oust Mahathir after the coalition’s loss in the Tanjung Piai parliamentary by-election last Saturday.

Anwar, the Port Dickson MP, also dismissed rumours that his deputy and Economics Affairs Minister Mohamed Azmin Ali was trying to create a new government through the back door.

Azmin had been criticised by his party colleagues for hosting a meeting with Umno and PKR lawmakers at his official residence in Putrajaya on Monday.

The meeting was purportedly held to ensure that Mahathir remained as prime minister and to get support from both PH and the opposition.

To this, Anwar said he would not stop anyone from becoming prime minister but that there are proper channels to do this.

He also said that his relations with Mahathir “are strong”.

https://www.freemalaysiatoday.com/category/nation/2019/11/21/dont-like-me-then-say-so-dr-m-chides-absent-mps/

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74 terror suspects under detention after Medan bombing: Police Chief

Jakarta (ANTARA) - Indonesian Police Chief General Idham Aziz confirmed the arrests of 74 terror suspects after a suicide bombing targeted the Medan Police Headquarters in North Sumatra on Nov 13, 2019.

"In investigating the suicidal bombing case at the Medan Police Office, the identity of the bomber was revealed within eight days after the incident, and the police also managed to arrest 74 terror suspects in 10 regions," Aziz remarked during a hearing with Commission III of the House of Representatives (DPR) here on Wednesday.

Of the 74 suspects, 30 were detained in North Sumatra; 11 in West Java; five in Pekanbaru, Riau Province; five in Banten Province; four in East Kalimantan; three in Jakarta; two each in Aceh and East Java; and one in South Sulawesi.

The Police's Counterterrorism Squad, Densus 88, kept moving to arrest some more terror suspects, he revealed.

"Based on the cases of attack against (retired) General Wiranto and the Medan bombing, the perpetrators are members of the JAD group," he remarked.

The perpetrators of the two crimes belonged to the same group Jamaah Ansharut Daulah (JAD) and were indoctrinated into terrorism through social media.

They targeted the government and police personnel, who were perceived as "thaghut," or those against the rules of Allah, by them.

The hearing was chaired by Commission III Chairman Herman Herry, while the National Police chief was accompanied by Deputy Police Chief Commissioner General Ari Dono Sukmonto, National Police spokesman Inspector General Muhammad Iqbal, and 34 provincial police chiefs, among others.

In the meantime, the Densus 88 squad personnel shot dead two suspected terrorists during a raid at the Kota Datar area, Hamparan Perak Sub-district, Deli Serdang District, on November 16, North Sumatra Police Chief Inspector General Agus Andrianto stated.

The two suspects were gunned down when they attacked the Densus 88 and local police personnel to skirt arrest, he noted.

https://en.antaranews.com/news/136908/74-terror-suspects-under-detention-after-medan-bombing-police-chief

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Indonesian Islamic P2P lender Alami receives Series A funding, aims to triple financing for SMEs

BY YOSI WINOSA

15 NOV 2019

JAKARTA - Indonesian SME-focused P2P lender Alami Sharia has won a Series A funding of around $1 million led by Golden Gate Ventures that it hopes can triple its financing for small and medium-sized companies.

The Shariah-compliant company said the funding will be channelled into enhancing its peer-to-peer financing platform, re-focusing its aggregator business and rolling out new products.

It is now aiming to disburse 240 billion rupiah ($17.06 million) in financing for SMEs next year from around 80 billion rupiah this year.

"We have shown them a solid business plan and alhamdulillah we have gained these investors’ confidence,” Alami CEO Dima Djani told Salaam Gateway.

The other funders are Agaeti Ventures, RHL Ventures, and one angel investor.

Dima says Alami is the first Indonesian Shariah-compliant fintech company to attract venture investors.

“I hope there will be more funding series from investors for Indonesia’s Shariah fintech,” he said.

Alami registered with the Financial Services Authority (OJK) in April and since then it has disbursed more than 55 billion rupiah from more than 1,000 lenders to more than 40 small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs).

It says it has zero non-performing loans.

Alami currently only has one product, invoice financing, that serves as working capital loans for SMEs.

Dima said the company is developing two new products.

Alami adheres to national fatwa body’s DSN-MUI approved Shariah contracts.

It conducts credit and physical on-the-ground checks of all borrowers, and partners with Bank Permata Syariah for escrow facilities.

The platform earns 1% in fees from each successful loan.

"We have channelled an average 15 billion rupiah in lending per month, disbursing around 200 million to 30 billion rupiah for each transaction," said Dima.

($1 = 14,069 Indonesian rupiah)

(Reporting by Yosi Winosa; Editing by Emmy Abdul Alim emmy.abdulalim@salaamgateway.com)

https://www.salaamgateway.com/story/indonesian-islamic-p2p-lender-alami-receives-series-a-funding-aims-to-triple-financing-for-smes

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South Asia

 

Special Forces kill, detain 13 Taliban and ISIS militants in 4 provinces

Wednesday, 20 Nov 2019

The Afghan Special Forces killed 7 Taliban militants and arrested five other militants including an ISIS-K militant during the operations in four provinces in the past 24 hours.

The military officials said earlier today the Special Forces killed 5 Taliban militants, arrested 5 others and destroyed a small cache of weapons during a raid in Khakrez district of Kandahar.

The officials further added the Special Forces arrested an ISIS-K militant and destroyed a small cache of weapons during a raid in Bati Kot district of Nangarhar province.

The Special Forces killed a Taliban militant during a separate raid in Shindand district of Herat, the officials said, adding that the Special Forces killed another Taliban militant during a similar raid which they conducted in Charkh district of Logar.

The anti-government armed militants have not commented regarding the operations so far.

https://www.khaama.com/special-forces-kill-detain-13-taliban-and-isis-militants-in-4-provinces-04365/

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Afghan forces clash with Taliban militants in two districts of Jawzjan

Thursday, 21 Nov 2019

The security forces killed three Taliban militants during two separate clashes in northern Jawzjan province of Afghanistan, the Afghan military said.

According to a statement released by 209th Shaheen Corps, the security forces clashed with Taliban militants in Darya Khana area of Darzab district and Charshangho area of Manjeek district on Wednesday afternoon.

The statement further added the security forces killed three Taliban militants during the two clashes.

An Afghan soldier also sustained injuries during the clashes, the 209th Shaheen Corps added in its statement.

The Taliban group has not commented regarding the two clashes so far.

https://www.khaama.com/afghan-forces-clash-with-taliban-militants-in-two-districts-of-jawzjan-04369/

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Karzai calls for early resumption of intra-Afghan talks following prisoners exchange

Thursday, 21 Nov 2019

The former Afghan President Hamid Karzai called for early resumption of intra-Afghan talks following the exchange of prisoners between Taliban and the United States.

“I hope the prisoners exchange between the Islamic movement of Taliban and the United States will help restore peace in Afghanistan,” Karzai said in an online statement posted on Twitter.

He said “I urge all sides in the peace process to push for the earliest resumption of intra-Afghan talks.”

The U.S. President Donald Trump also welcomed the release of the two western professors as he expressed hopes that the exchange of prisoners would lead to a ceasefire in Afghanistan.

“We join families of Kevin King & Tim Weeks in celebrating their release from Taliban captivity. Thanks to President Ghani for his courageous support,” Trump said in a Twitter post.

He added “Let’s hope this leads to more good things on the peace front like a ceasefire that will help end this long war. Proud of my team!”

The Taliban group released the two kidnapped professors of the American University of Afghanistan on Tuesday, hours after three senior leaders of Haqqani network arrived in Qatar after being released by the Afghan government.

The Taliban group kidnapped the two professors in early August 2016 from West of Kabul city, where the American University of Afghanistan is based.

https://www.khaama.com/karzai-calls-for-early-resumption-of-intra-afghan-talks-following-prisoners-exchange-04368/

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Trump hopes release of Western professors leads to ceasefire in Afghanistan

Thursday, 21 Nov 2019

The U.S. President Donald Trump welcomed the release of the two Western professors and expressed hopes that their release would lead to ceasefire in Afghanistan.

“We join families of Kevin King & Tim Weeks in celebrating their release from Taliban captivity. Thanks to President Ghani for his courageous support,” Trump said in a Twitter post.

He added “Let’s hope this leads to more good things on the peace front like a ceasefire that will help end this long war. Proud of my team!”

The Taliban group released the two kidnapped professors of the American University of Afghanistan on Tuesday, hours after three senior leaders of Haqqani network arrived in Qatar after being released by the Afghan government.

The prisoner swap took place amid ongoing efforts to revive peace talks which President Trump called off following a series of deadly attacks in Kabul in September.

https://www.khaama.com/trump-hopes-release-of-western-professors-leads-to-ceasefire-in-afghanistan-04367/

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Arab World

 

Mufti Of Kosovo Appreciates The Efforts Of The Custodian Of The Two Holy Mosques In Serving Islam And Muslims And Defending Their Causes

2019/11/20

Riyadh, Nov. 20, 2019, SPA -- Following his meeting with the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud in Riyadh yesterday, the President of the Islamic Mashikha and General Mufti of the Republic of Kosovo Sheikh Naim Ternava, praised the great efforts of the monarch in the service of Islam and Muslims and defending their causes.

In a statment to (SPA) today, Sheikh Ternava, thanked the Kingdom and the government for their support and efforts to resolve the issue of Republic of Kosovo during the war and after the war, stressing that the people of Kosovo will not forget that, and thanked the King and the Kingdom for the great efforts in spreading the values of tolerance and moderation among Muslim and non-Muslim peoples around the world.

https://www.spa.gov.sa/viewfullstory.php?lang=en&newsid=2001149

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Eight-Year-Old Yemeni Singer Enchants Arab World

November 19, 2019

SANAA, YEMEN - It is a dangerous time to be a child in Yemen. Besides facing war, widespread malnutrition and abject poverty, more than 25 percent of children are not in school.

But 8-year-old singer Amr Muqbel, known as "The Water Seller," is different.

He attends school in the morning. In the afternoons he used to sell water bottles to help support his family, who only last year were each living on less than $1 a day. Now, he makes extra money singing for weddings, fans and several major Arabic news channels.

“I’m proud he has become a singer,” said Ahmed Muqbel, Amr’s 70-year-old father, with tears in his eyes. One of their relatives is a soldier, the elder Muqbel added, and Amr used to sing war songs.

Now  he sings about love and peace in a country where other children face being forced to join military groups. Teachers haven’t been paid in over two years, and as the war drags on the danger for children outside of the school system deepens, according to aid organizations.

"Children out of school face increased risks of all forms of exploitation, including being forced to join the fighting, child labor, and early marriage," said Sara Nyanti, UNICEF’s representative in Yemen, in a statement.

Growing fame

Amr first became well-known this year when a local hiker recorded him serenading a group with the tune “You are my love. Where have you been all my life?” and posted it on Facebook, where it received 20,000 likes, loves and sad faces.

Since then, he has become a darling of the Arab media, appearing on BBC Arabic, Al Jazeera Arabic and RT Arabic.

Despite his growing popularity, Amr’s family remains poor. He, his mother and his four siblings still struggle to survive in a small house held together with mud bricks. But as Amr gains the attention of music professionals, the family hopes his voice will help lift them further out of poverty.

"I didn't even know Amr was singing for the drivers," said Amr’s mother, Muneerah, near her Sanaa home. "He sells water so he can earn money to pay for his private school fees. I used to reprimand Amr for singing while he did his homework.”

Sobhi Mohammed, a renowned Syrian Kurdish composer based in Lebanon, has expressed interest in mentoring Amr, inviting him via an online video to visit Lebanon. Mohammed has mentored other young talents, like Nomer El Beik and Amir Amuri from Syria.

“I was like Amr while still a little boy,” Mohammed said in an online interview. “I promised myself that I would assist every talented child who had no one.”

But travels to Lebanon so far have been stymied by passport delays and competing ideas about how to build his future. His father wants to go to Lebanon so Amr can try to break into the commercial music business. His mother wants Amr to continue to be mentored locally, so he can sing more often at weddings to increase the family’s income more reliably.

“I believe Amr will become a star," added Mohammed. "He has the voice and charisma."

Yemenis hesitancy

Publicly, Amr has accepted Mohammed’s invitation in an online video, but some of his local fans object.

"His songs come out from his heart," said Mohammed al-Adaimi, a 23-year-old who listens to Amr’s songs on YouTube. "He should stay and sing for us and we will support him."

Like other fans, al-Adaimi was concerned Amr may abandon his Yemeni musical style and adopt the more common Lebanese style of Arab music if he trains out of the country. “He is at an age where he is vulnerable to change,” said al-Adaimi.

Other locals said they were proud a young Yemeni was getting international attention. “He is a talented boy,” said Mabrouk al-Baqash, who has been listening to Amr sing for eight months.  “It’s fine to travel to Lebanon.”

https://www.voanews.com/arts-culture/eight-year-old-yemeni-singer-enchants-arab-world

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Egypt: Resignation of Muslim presenter from Coptic TV channel sparks controversy

November 21, 2019

The crisis of the Coptic TV channel CTV has ended with the resignation of a Muslim presenter, as a wave of indignation rose against the channel following the announcement of recruiting the presenter a few days ago. However, many unanswered questions about the controversy are still left unanswered.

Did the churchmen and owners of CTV try to diversify the channel’s audience base and send a message to all viewers that CTV is an inclusive media platform, by recruiting the presenter? Or was it another attempt by the security apparatus to tame the channel’s voice and adjoin it to the state’s media barn along with the rest of pro-regime flocks of media outlets, as some Copts put it, through dictating the presenter’s recruitment?

A wave of anger swept the Coptic congregation following the broadcasting of the promotional video of the channel’s main program “Fi El Nour”, with the indication that journalist Ashraf Abdel Moneim will replace the two Coptic TV hosts, Nancy Magdy and Heba Kamil.

Copts circulated posts indicating their uneasiness about the appearance of Abdel Moneim in the promotional video, arguing that having a Muslim TV host will contribute to blurring the channel’s identity, in conjunction with restoring the standard shape of the letter “t” in the channel’s logo, which used to resemble a cross.

The audience’s anger doubled, following news about the channel’s coming step, which will consist of broadcasting the Adhan (Muslim call to prayer).

Supporters of the decision defended Abdel Moneim’s recruitment and the modification of the logo shape by saying that CTV was attempting to become more inclusive, i.e. to target and attract new audiences other than the Coptic community, and expand its viewers’ base.

Coptic businessman Elijah Tharwat Bassily owns CTV, yet it is under the direct supervision of the Orthodox Church.

In the first episode of his program on CTV last week, presenter Ashraf Abdel Moneim responded to the campaign launched by the Copts against his presence in the channel and promised to defend their causes, asking them to wait and judge the program’s upcoming content. Abdel Moneim also called on the Copts to consult his journalistic career to make sure that he has always been defending the Copts’ issues.

Bassily commented, during the same episode, that change is an essential part of life, noting that: “viewers asked me to make some changes and I did. I choose to rely on competent, not trustworthy people.”

Bassily is also a member of the parliament, and the majority of Egyptian MPs are accused of being appointed by the security services.

In conjunction with the sweeping wave of disdain against him, Abdel Moneim was forced to announce his resignation on the air, during the program, to avoid further aggravating the situation.

During a televised address to congratulate CTV and its staff for the new additions in the channel, Pope Tawadros II stated: “The change is a part of the universe and life, as life itself is always changing. Our Coptic Orthodox Church is traditional and conservative by its very nature. The essential pillars of our faith are carefully cherished and preserved. However, developing religious media channels is something to be appreciated.”

Ezzat Boulos, the editor of Copts United, criticised the Pope’s intervention, saying it was unsuccessful and went in the opposite direction as expected.

Boulos wrote in an article: “The demands to suspend a Muslim presenter from one of the channel’s main programs are a victory for sectarianism.”

He pointed out to his surprise at the comments attacking and accusing him of disloyalty and treason, in addition to a series of insults, which have no place in any conscious intellectual debate, as he puts it.

CTV is the second Coptic channel broadcasting via satellite, after Aghapy TV, under the motto “Behold, a door was opened in heaven’’, one of Pope Shenouda III famous sayings.

https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/20191121-egypt-resignation-of-muslim-presenter-from-coptic-tv-channel-sparks-controversy/

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Al Khatib: Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques has been paying attention to Diriyah for more than 40 years

2019/11/20

Riyadh, November 20, 2019, SPA -- Chairman of the Board of Directors of Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage and Secretary of the Board of Directors of Diriyah Gate Development Authority Ahmed Bin Aqeel Al Khatib, commended Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud's inauguration of the first phase of Diriyah Portal Project.

Al Khatib pointing out that the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques' name has been associated with Diriyah as he has been embracing and giving great attention to it for more than forty years.

Al Khabtib's remarks came in a statement to Saudi Press Agency on the occasion.

https://www.spa.gov.sa/viewfullstory.php?lang=en&newsid=2001222

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Rector of Imam Muhammad bin Saud Islamic University Receives Chargé d'Affaires of Somalia

2019/11/20

Riyadh, November 20, 2019, SPA -- The Rector of Imam Muhammad ibn Saud Islamic University, Dr. Ahmed bin Salem Al-Ameri, received here today Chargé d'Affaires of Somalia's embassy in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia Salem Mao Haji and his accompanying delegation.

During the meeting, they discussed a number of issues of mutual interest and ways of enhancing scientific and research cooperation between the Imam Muhammad ibn Saud Islamic University and the universities of Somalia.

https://www.spa.gov.sa/viewfullstory.php?lang=en&newsid=2000821

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