New Age Islam
Sun Sep 27 2020, 12:24 AM

Islamic World News ( 29 Jan 2020, NewAgeIslam.Com)

Gun-Wielding Man Shoots Jamia Student at Anti-CAA Rally, Shouts 'Jai Shri Ram, Who Wants Azadi' Slogans














The shooter brandishes his gun during a protest against CAA outside the Jamia Millia Islamia in New Delhi on Jan 30, 2020. (REUTERS)

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• ‘Most Marriages between Hindu Women and Muslim Men Result Of Love Affairs, Not Abduction’

• Pakistan Court Acquits 42 Christians in Lynching Case

• Saudi Arabia Publishes ‘Judaized’ Translation of Holy Qur’an

• Bangladesh Allows Formal Education to Rohingya Children

• Why Are The Islamists Afraid Of Anwar Ibrahim?

• Iranian Factory Makes US and Israeli Flags To Burn

• Quebec City Remembers 2017 Mosque Attack with Emotional Ceremony

 

India

• ‘Most Marriages between Hindu Women and Muslim Men Result Of Love Affairs, Not Abduction’

• Gun-Wielding Man Shoots Jamia Student at Anti-CAA Rally, Shouts 'Jai Shri Ram, Who Wants Azadi' Slogans

• Centre Willing To Talk To Shaheen Bagh Protesters If a Structured Request Comes: Union Law Minister

• Will protest if Indian Muslims are troubled by NRC, says Ramdev

• Delhi exhibition showcases Kashmir’s ‘sacred’ architectural heritage

• Citing CAA, High Court grants bail to Christian immigrant from Bangladesh

• EU Parliament defers vote on citizenship law resolutions

• Jamia violence: Delhi Police release photos of 69 men

• Aggrieved By Usage of Terms Hindu Side, Muslim Side in Ayodhya Judgement, Mumbai Lawyer Writes Letter to CJI

• BJP’s Parvesh Verma stands by Shaheen Bagh remark, says Muslims want to take over India

• Kashmir DMs told to review prohibitory orders under Sec 144

• Kafeel Khan arrested at Mumbai airport for ‘instigating’ students in Aligarh last month

• Kashmiri Pandits In Kashmir: Those who stayed back have a home — and a roomful of regret

• India urges Israel, Palestine to engage with each other

• Leading stir, CPM gains support of Kerala Muslims

• Child panel asks parents to not take kids to Lucknow protest site, warns of ‘action’

• Day after arrest, JNU student Sharjeel Imam sent in five-day police custody

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Pakistan

• Pakistan Court Acquits 42 Christians in Lynching Case

• Pakistan Backs Palestine’s Call for State with Pre-1967 Borders

• Pakistan extradites sex offender who fled UK during trial

• IGP conveys concerns to PM about ‘political pressure’ in Sindh

• Parties voice concern at Centre’s indifference towards KP

• 2 soldiers martyred during operation on terrorist hideout in North Waziristan: ISPR

• Supreme Court Bar Association seeks changes in accountability law to curb misuse of power

• 5 militants killed, 2 soldiers martyred in crackdown on terrorist hideout

• Govt to introduce another ordinance for Gilgit-Baltistan

• 2 mortar shells fired into Pakistan’s territory from Afghanistan

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Arab World

• Saudi Arabia Publishes ‘Judaized’ Translation of Holy Qur’an

• Lebanon PM asks government, banks for plan to restore confidence

• Kuwait Welcomes US Bid To End Arab-Israeli Conflict

• Crew of Panama-flagged oil tanker rescued after fire off Sharjah coast

• New Qatari prime minister allegedly involved in corruption case

• Prominent Indonesian cleric Quraish Shihab gets Egyptian award

• Bahrain supports all efforts for ‘just’ peace in Palestine: FM

• Syrian army says retakes key northwest town

• Lebanese protesters fight to occupy downtown Beirut

• Syrian army soldiers liberate key town of Khan Tuman in Aleppo: Report

• Syrian forces fully recapture main militant stronghold in southern Idlib

• Access to most online Saudi government services restored for many people in debt

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South Asia

• Bangladesh Allows Formal Education to Rohingya Children

• Taliban kill 29 Afghan security personnel in renewed clashes

• Afghan forces freed 62 army prisoners, breaking a Taliban prison in Badghis

• Pakistan temporarily closed Torkham border

• Afghan Security forces suffer heavy casualties in Kunduz

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Southeast Asia

• Why Are The Islamists Afraid Of Anwar Ibrahim?

• Jais Chief Accused Of Hate Speech Over Spread Of Shia Teachings

• Deal with Kelantan on child marriage, SIS urges Putrajaya

• Chinese Uighur Muslim who fled to NZ left jobless while awaiting residence

• Can Dr Mahathir rebuild our national schools?

• DAP leader says party ready to quit Malaysian govt for failing to recognise education certificate

• Videos surface purportedly showing vandalization of N. Sulawesi 'mosque'

• Can't have 'twin suns' in one sky: Ma'ruf takes backseat to avoid outshining Jokowi

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Mideast

• Iranian Factory Makes US and Israeli Flags To Burn

• Israeli Cabinet Postpones Vote on West Bank Annexation

• Israeli forces detain Al Arabiya crew members in Jordan Valley

• Palestinians clash with Israeli forces over Trump plan

• Israel army boosting presence in West Bank, near Gaza

• Yemen’s Houthis say have targeted Saudi Aramco facilities in Jizan

• Iran's Rouhani calls Trump's plan 'most despicable plan of century'

• A big No to Trump's biased deal: Outrage flares in Palestine, elsewhere

• Thousands join Gaza protests against peace plan

• Mandela rights group slams Palestine plan

• Thousands flee as fighting rages between Yemen government and Houthis

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North America

• Quebec City Remembers 2017 Mosque Attack with Emotional Ceremony

• Trump’s Pro-Israel Mideast Deal Sparks Shock And Ire

• Islamophobia remains in Canada after mosque shooting

• Catholic priest: Don't let 'large numbers of Muslims' into America

• Social media activists voice outrage at Trump's 'peace plan'

• Jewish groups in US blast Trump's Mideast peace plan

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Africa

• Morocco ‘Appreciates’ Mideast Peace Plan, Says Needs Acceptance by Parties

• Somali Senate condemn US Mideast peace plan

• South African group slams Trump’s Mideast peace plan

• Kenya Base ‘Surprisingly’ Undefended During Attack, US Officials Say

• Cameroon: Five Killed in Terror Attack by Boko Haram

• Nigeria: Boko Haram Kills Two Persons At Military Checkpoint

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Europe

• UK’s Johnson Says Palestinian Leaders Should Consider Trump’s Peace Plan

• France should stop supporting Haftar in Libya: Turkey

• EU to assess Trump's Middle East peace plan

• Belgium Muslim Executive wants official recognition for Great Mosque of Brussels

• France says will study Trump’s Mideast peace plan closely

• Israel says it thwarted serious cyberattack on power station

• France welcomes Trump's so-called Mideast peace plan

Compiled By New Age Islam News Bureau

URL: https://www.newageislam.com/islamic-world-news/new-age-islam-news-bureau/gun-wielding-man-shoots-jamia-student-at-anti-caa-rally,-shouts--jai-shri-ram,-who-wants-azadi--slogans/d/120934

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Gun-Wielding Man Shoots Jamia Student at Anti-CAA Rally, Shouts 'Jai Shri Ram, Who Wants Azadi' Slogans

January 30, 2020

New Delhi: A gun-wielding man opened fire on protesters demonstrating against the contentious Citizenship Amendment Act and National Register of Citizens near the Jamia Millia Islamia in south Delhi on Thursday, injuring a student. The assailant, police said, has been taken into custody.

He shouted "who wants Azadi, come I'll shoot you and then fired on the protesters," students who witnessed the shocking incident told News18. A video of the attack that is being shared widely on social media also showed the assailant shouting the 'Jai Shri Ram' slogan and warning protesters to chant 'Vande Mataram' if they want to stay in India.

The injured student, Shadab, was hit by the bullet in his arm and has been admitted to the Holy Family hospital in Jamia Nagar. His condition is stated to be stable.

The incident took place near the hospital when a protest march was being taken out by students. Students told News18 that the attacker tried to hijack the peaceful protest and threatened the anti-CAA agitators.

The shooting comes in the aftermath of communally charged, hateful and violence provoking rhetoric by several BJP leaders in the run-up to the assembly elections in Delhi.

Junior finance minister Anurag Thakur had on Monday led chants of ‘shoot the traitors’ at a poll rally in north Delhi’s Rithala. The minister prompted "desh ke gaddaron ko..." to which the crowd responded "...goli maaro sa***n ko". The chant translates to "shoot down the traitors who betray the country".

Protesters against the CAA and the NRC have often been dubbed anti-national by members of the ruling BJP.

After Thakur’s hate speech, a man carrying a gun was also caught at Delhi's Shaheen Bagh, the venue of mega protests. The man had walked into the protest ground and allegedly brandished the weapon till he was overpowered by the surrounding protesters, eyewitnesses said.

https://www.news18.com/news/india/jamia-millia-islamia-student-shot-at-during-anti-caa-protest-march-attacker-shouted-who-wants-azadi-2479423.html

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‘Most Marriages between Hindu Women and Muslim Men Result Of Love Affairs, Not Abduction’

Jan 30, 2020

Amritsar: The All Pakistan Hindu Panchayat (APHP) claims that majority of cases of marriages between Hindu women and Muslim men were result of love affairs. It said due to honour, the family members of women concoct stories of abduction and forced conversions.

APHP had investigated into the incidents of ‘abduction and forced conversion of Hindu girl’ in Pakistan, especially in Sindh province of Pakistan which has a large Hindu population. Talking to TOI over phone from Karachi on Wednesday, APHP general secretary Ravi Dawani said, “Zyadatar cases mein ishq aur mohabbat paya gaya hai, chahe wo minor ladki ka ho (it is love in most cases, even if it involves a minor girl).”

Citing the incident of Bharti, an engineering student at Mehran University of Engineering and Technology, Jamshoro, who was reported to have been abducted and forcibly converted to Islam, he said she fell in love with fellow student Shahrukh Memon. “Our investigations revealed that when Bharti’s family came to know of her relation with Shahrukh, they stopped her from going to college till the time Shahrukh himself went to their house and assured that Bharti would be safe.” Ravi claimed that the families of Shahrukh and Bharti were friends. However, since they were in love and to marry a Muslim man, Bharti had to embrace Islam, so she converted and was rechristened as Bushra. She married in court against the wishes of her family. “Still, they (Bharti’s family) tried to forcibly marry her but Shahrukh intervened when he came to know of it and took her with him. However, the incident was exaggerated in media as one of abduction and forced conversion,” he said. Ravi pointed out that when Bushra was produced in court, she emphatically told then that she had converted to Islam and married Shahrukh of her own will.

About the ‘abduction and forced conversion’ of Mehak, a 15-year-old resident of Jacobabad, he said their investigations revealed that her husband Ali Raza Machi was a daily labourer. “Mehak’s father was building a house where Ali and his father worked as dailywage labourers, Mehak and Ali were attracted to each other and she decided to embrace Islam to marry him despite knowing that Ali was already married twice and had four children.” He said when Mehak’s family came to know about the marriage, they felt hurt and filed a police report.

Similarly, Nankana Sahib Sikh girl Jagjit Kaur’s counsel Muhammad Sultan Sheikh informed that it was love behind her move to embrace Islam to become Ayesha Bibi and marry Mohammad Hassan. “They had known each other for a long time and decided to marry.”

However, the APHP general secretary admitted that there were incidents of Hindu girls being abducted and forced to embrace Islam. “But these incidents are not in large numbers,” he said.

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/chandigarh/most-marriages-between-hindu-women-and-muslim-men-result-of-love-affairs-not-abduction/articleshow/73747515.cms

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Pakistan court acquits 42 Christians in lynching case

Aamir Latif

30.01.2020

KARACHI, Pakistan

A Pakistani court on Wednesday acquitted 42 Christian men accused of lynching two Muslims to death in reaction to suicide attacks on churches in 2015, court documents and local media revealed.

The anti-terrorism court in northeastern city of Lahore acquitted all 42 suspects, who had been indicted in 2016 for their alleged involvement in the lynching after the twin attacks on churches in the city’s Youhanabad area -- home to over 100,000 Christians, local broadcaster Dawn News reported.

Two of the suspects died while in jail, reportedly due to a lack of medical facilities.

The court exonerated the accused persons, including those who passed away, after the victims' families confirmed that both sides have reached an agreement and that they had no objection over their acquittal, the broadcaster reported.

Some 15 people were killed and over 70 injured when two suicide bombers attacked churches in Youhanabad in March 2015.

Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), a banned militant group, had claimed responsibility for the attacks that sparked violent protests.

Mistaking two Muslim teenagers for accomplices of the suicide bombers, an angry mob captured and burned them alive.

https://www.aa.com.tr/en/asia-pacific/pakistan-court-acquits-42-christians-in-lynching-case/1718531

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Saudi Arabia publishes ‘Judaized’ translation of Holy Qur’an

29 January 2020

A Saudi publishing house supposedly specializing in releasing various translations of Muslims' holy book Qur’an has printed an error-ridden Hebrew version of Islam’s holy book including some egregious alterations and even omissions.

The copy was issued by the King Fahd Complex for the Printing of the Holy Qur’an (MEMO), which is based in the holy city of Medina, the London-based Middle East Monitor news website reported on Tuesday.

Though it has been “approved by the Saudi authorities,” the version contains “more than 300 errors,” ranging from mistranslations to deliberate omissions, it reported.

MEMO said some of the errors in the apparently “Judaized” copy “appear to support Israel’s narrative over its claim to Palestine and al-Aqsa Mosque.”

The translation leaves out the name of Prophet Mohammad (PBUH), including where the holy book describes the Prophet of Islam’s miraculous overnight journey from the holy city of Mecca to the al-Aqsa Mosque.

Across the Saudi version, the name of the Mosque is also mistranslated into “The Temple,” the Jewish name for the site. The copy also writes in parenthesis after references to “The Temple” that the site is the same place where “the Temple of Suleiman (a Prophet of the Israelites)” is located.

The Palestinian Shehab News Agency was one of the outlets alerting the public to the errors. It published a video, which warned about the “doctrinal implications” that are conveyed in the Saudi copy.

The errors could create “the impression that the Islamic holy text itself endorses a fundamentalist Jewish reading of history,” MEMO wrote.

The al-Aqsa Mosque’s compound is Islam’s third holiest site, but bears significance for Jews and Christians too.

Israel has, however, been widely denounced for trying to gradually gnaw away at Muslims' and Christians' rights to the site since 1948, when it claimed existence after overrunning huge swathes of Arab territories.

The efforts have gained political momentum under Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel’s longest-running prime minister. During his tenure, the regime signed off on a law calling itself “the nation-state of the Jewish people.”

The US, already Israel’s biggest and most dedicated ally, took greater strides to endorse the regime’s occupation under President Donald Trump.

In late 2017, Washington recognized Jerusalem al-Quds, which contains the al-Aqsa Mosque, as Israel’s “capital,” although Palestinians want the holy city’s eastern side as the capital of their future state.

Saudi Arabia, which enforces the extremist Wahhabi ideology at home, has been drawing itself closer to both Tel Aviv and Washington over the past many years, while gradually slackening its support for Palestinians.

Riyadh is considered to be at the vanguard of the Arab states warming up to Israel. Back in 2002, the kingdom put forward a controversial “Arab peace initiative,” which proposed “normalization” of relations with the regime if it withdrew from Palestinian territories.

In April 2018, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman was accused of “recognizing” Israel after saying that “the Israelis have the right to have their own land.”

https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2020/01/29/617373/Saudi-Arabia-Hebrew-Qur'an-errors-omissions

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Bangladesh allows formal education to Rohingya children

Md. Kamruzzaman  

29.01.2020

DHAKA, Bangladesh

The Bangladeshi government has allowed Rohingya children living in refugee camps to access formal education in a move welcomed by rights activists.

"The government has decided to allow formal education to Rohingya children under Myanmar's curriculum so that they can continue their education in Myanmar if the repatriation process is started in the future," Mahbub Alam Talukder, Bangladesh’s refugee relief and repatriation commissioner, told Anadolu Agency on Wednesday.

Citing a meeting held earlier this week, he said children up to the age of 14 will get school education and those older than 14 will get skills training.

This has been a hot button issue in the country with many Rohingya students opting for fake documents to get admission to high schools and colleges and the government expelling them.

Nearly half of the 540,000 Rohingya refugee children in Bangladesh under the age of 12 are missing out on school, according to a 2019 report by the UN.

Earlier last year, the government banned donor-funded schools inside the refugee camps from imparting formal education to students.

Rights activists have long been campaigning that depriving such a vast group of their fundamental rights could make them vulnerable to radicalization.

"This is a great development and positive move by the Bangladesh government and it will revive hope among Rohingya people,” Mohammed Ahsan, a community leader, told Anadolu Agency.

“They have lost two academic years already and cannot afford to lose any more time outside a classroom,” said Saad Hammadi, South Asia campaigner at Amnesty International.

More than 750,000 Rohingya refugees, mostly women and children, fled Myanmar and crossed to Bangladesh after Myanmar forces launched a crackdown on the minority Muslim community in August 2017, pushing the number of persecuted people in Bangladesh above 1.2 million, according to Amnesty International.

Over 34,000 Rohingya were also thrown into fires, while over 114,000 others were beaten, said a report by the Ontario International Development Agency (OIDA) titled Forced Migration of Rohingya: The Untold Experience.

Some 18,000 Rohingya women and girls were raped by Myanmar’s army and police and over 115,000 Rohingya homes were burned down and 113,000 others vandalized, it added.

https://www.aa.com.tr/en/asia-pacific/bangladesh-allows-formal-education-to-rohingya-children/1717641

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Why are the Islamists afraid of Anwar Ibrahim?

January 29, 2020

Last year, Malaysia saw a spike in political manoeuvres akin to a “game of thrones”. The country watched the Economic Affairs Minister Azmin Ali challenge his party leader, Anwar Ibrahim for the Prime Minister’s post.

It soured their relationship. Some say it was to the point of no return and may dampen Anwar’s chance to become the eighth PM of Malaysia. For Anwar, 2019 was a shocker. To see his long-time friend and collaborator going against him was difficult.

The shock waves started with reports of Azmin rallying 20 MPs to jump ship from Anwar’s party to the Bersatu. Anwar’s party is the Parti Keadilan Rakyat or PKR and the Bersatu is Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s party. Then there was the gay-sex video scandal that came after the holy month of Ramadan.

PKR member, Haziq Abdullah Abdul Aziz, made bold accusations against Azmin saying the powerful minister is in the video.

He said he is the other actor in the short viral videos. It wasn’t over for Anwar. The party split into two factions, one supporting him and the other Azmin.

The pressure was on Anwar to prove his mettle as a strong leader. He chose the party’s congress to make some political moves to save the party from breaking point.

The Azmin faction made a push against the idea of Anwar as the eighth PM, criticising members and delegates for shouting the ‘Anwar for PM’ slogan. Heckled and booed they stood their ground firmly saying the party isn’t for one man to gain power.

A day before the congress, Anwar met with Azmin, sealing a deal with the latter. The deal was to get Azmin’s group to forfeit from holding their own ‘congress’ and to join the party’s machinery instead. They complied, but they didn’t expect the backlash from the thousand delegates.

However, they believed the Anwar camp had betrayed them and they made a stand during a dinner at the Renaissance Hotel in Kuala Lumpur.

The Minister of Housing and Local Government, Zuraidah Kamaruddin pointed a finger at Anwar on a sexual assault case made by one Yusuf Rauther. Azmin is rallying his troops to pressure the PKR leadership to abandon all disciplinary measures against Zuraidah Kamaruddin. The fiery lady is Azmin’s ally.

This got her in trouble with the party’s disciplinary board but Azmin is asking the board to drop the charges. While the party is still at boiling point, the Prime Minister has agreed that the Pakatan Harapan coalition presidential council is to decide on his departure date.

But the most incredible element in all of this is that the party is still intact. This is a short-lived victory for Anwar because the Islamists from the Parti Islam Se-Malaysia or PAS gave the media a scoop.

They published a picture of Dr Mahathir having breakfast with their leader, Abdul Hadi Awang at the PM’s residence. This became the talk of the town and goes to show that in politics, a week can be a long time.

PAS revealed that Dr Mahathir invited them to join the Pakatan coalition. Dr Mahathir made no attempt to deny the statement from the PAS. But Anwar knows it is a tough call for the PAS to join the PH. PKR, Amanah and DAP may stand in the way.

PAS and the Umno are having a magnificent ride in the by-elections, with one win after another, defeating Dr Mahathir’s coalition in a humiliating manner. Sources say PAS is Azmin’s ally and are against Anwar taking over as the next PM of Malaysia. The Harakah, the tabloid belonging to PAS says Dr Mahathir is a better Muslim than Anwar.

If this is the reason they had breakfast with Dr Mahathir on January 20, Anwar might still be in trouble. Allied to Anwar in the 2008 and 2013 elections PAS is hell-bent on stopping him in his move to become Prime Minister.

But the question is why would PAS be so afraid of Anwar becoming the next PM of Malaysia?

http://theindependent.sg/why-are-the-islamists-afraid-of-anwar-ibrahim/

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Iranian factory makes US and Israeli flags to burn

30 January 2020

Business is booming at Iran’s largest flag factory which makes US, British and Israeli flags for Iranian protesters to burn.

At the factory in the town of Khomein, southwest of the capital Tehran, young men and women print the flags by hand then hang them up to dry. The factory produces about 2,000 US and Israeli flags a month in its busiest periods, and more than 1.5 million square feet of flags a year.

Tensions between the United States and Iran have reached the highest level in decades after top Iranian military commander Qassem Soleimani was killed in a US drone strike in Baghdad on Jan. 3, prompting Iran to retaliate with a missile attack against a US base in Iraq days later.

In state-sponsored rallies and protests in Iran, demonstrators regularly burn the flags of Israel, US and Britain.

Ghasem Ghanjani, who owns the Diba Parcham flag factory, said: “We have no problem with the American and British people. We have (a) problem with their governors. We have (a) problem with their presidents, with the wrong policy they have.”

“The people of America and Israel know that we have no problem with them. If people burn the flags of these countries at different rallies, it is only to show their protest.”

Rezaei, a quality control manager, who declined to give her first name, said, “compared to the cowardly actions of the United States, such as General Soleimani’s assassination, this (burning an American flag) is a minimal thing against them. This is the least that can be done.”

For hardliners, anti-American sentiment has always been central to Iran’s Islamic revolution, and Iran’s clerical rulers continue to denounce the United States as the Great Satan.

Last November, however, many Iranians took to the streets to protest against the country’s top authorities, chanting “our enemy is not the US, our enemy is here.”

During protests this month that erupted after Tehran belatedly admitted shooting down a passenger plane by mistake, young demonstrators in Tehran refused to step on the American flag painted on the street.

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2020/01/30/Iranian-factory-makes-US-and-Israeli-flags-to-burn.html

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Quebec City remembers 2017 mosque attack with emotional ceremony

January 30, 2020

QUEBEC — A Muslim Quebecois rapper addressed the solemn crowd gathered Wednesday night to commemorate the third anniversary of the Quebec City mosque attack, and his words reflected the inherent politics of the tragedy and its aftermath.

In front of survivors, politicians, gun control activists and city residents, the artist and historian — who goes by the name Webster — said Quebec society is still afraid to face its Islamophobia three years after a gunman shot dead six men in a mosque on Jan. 29, 2017.

"Don't tell me that this commemoration tonight isn't political — because it is, especially now," he told the crowd gathered at St-Mathieu Church.

Earlier, the Quebec Islamic Cultural Centre — where the killings occurred — opened its doors to the community. Hours later, at the church a few blocks away, Premier Francois Legault and other politicians spoke about the need for all Quebecers to come together against hatred. The event's organizers said 300 free tickets for the event had been reserved in just over 24 hours.

But despite the warm words and the sense of unity, the provincial government's Bill 21 — passed in the legislature last June — still cast a cloud over the gathering. And Webster wasn't prepared to let the issue go.

"Are we going to let the government decide what women can wear and when they can wear it?" he asked rhetorically, to extended applause and chants of "Bravo!" from those in the church. Bill 21 bans some civil servants from wearing religious symbols at work — something civil rights groups and many in the Muslim community say directly targets Muslim women.

The men who died included: Mamadou Tanou Barry, 42, Abdelkrim Hassane, 41, Khaled Belkacemi, 60, Aboubaker Thabti, 44, Azzeddine Soufiane, 57, and Ibrahima Barry, 39.

They left behind their wives and 17 children between them. Several other worshippers were injured when a gunman opened fire as evening prayers drew to a close.

Legault didn't hear Webster's words, because he left the ceremony before the rapper took the mic. Earlier, the premier told the gathering that the shooting is a giant scar on all of the province.

"I wanted to come here to send you a message in the name of all the Quebecois people," Legault said. "To tell you, the families and people close to the victims: 'we are by your side.' "

Quebec City Mayor Regis Labeaume said the shooting was a disaster for the city. He told the crowd that love was not out of fashion, and that the community needed to evolve together.

Earlier in the day, one of the survivors, Ahmed Cheddadi, said the mosque attack was a horrifying event that shocked Quebec society and should spur a move to eliminate discrimination.

"We are here to denounce this act, barbaric and inhuman, that took place in our democratic, secular country, where the rights of people and liberty of religion are guaranteed by the Constitution," Cheddadi said at a news conference, calling for an inclusive Quebec where love triumphs over hate and racism is defeated.

Choking back tears, Cheddadi said everyone has a moral responsibility to come together.

"We will never accept that days like Jan. 29, 2017, ever happen again, in a mosque, in a church or in a synagogue."

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau acknowledged the anniversary by calling on Canadians to honour the memory of the victims.

"Today, we mourn those who were senselessly killed, and suffered at the hands of ignorance, Islamophobia, and racism," Trudeau said in a statement.

Boufeldja Benabdallah, president of the mosque, said the provincial government hasn't done enough to help restore bridges with the Muslim community, speaking of a fractured Quebec society where minorities do not feel protected.

He said it is the responsibility of legislators to adopt laws to protect citizens, whatever their origins or their beliefs, adding that the goal should be laws and programs "designed by the government to ensure society is balanced and not unbalanced as it is today."

In a recent interview, Benabdallah said that despite some recent progress, including the creation of the region's first Islamic cemetery and a million-dollar project to enlarge and secure the mosque, the province's controversial Bill 21 continued to be a source of frustration.

"Once again, we feel in the minority and targeted, especially the Muslim woman who finds herself penalized," Benabdallah said, calling the legislation a significant setback.

Legault told reporters before the ceremony that he disagrees that Bill 21 targets the Muslim community.

"Bill 21 is putting a framework to make sure we don't have extremes in Quebec, including racism," said Legault. He said the law aimed at public servants accounts for just one per cent of jobs.

"I think that it's a fair deal, a good compromise, a moderate law, it's less than what we have in many European countries," the premier added.

Alexandre Bissonnette pleaded guilty to the killings and last year was sentenced to life in prison without possibility of parole for 40 years — a sentence that was the subject of appeals by both the Crown and defence during a hearing at the Quebec Court of Appeal Monday.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 29, 2020.

https://www.kamloopsmatters.com/national-news/quebec-city-remembers-2017-mosque-attack-with-emotional-ceremony-2054843

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India

 

Centre Willing To Talk To Shaheen Bagh Protesters If a Structured Request Comes: Union Law Minister

January 30, 2020

Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad on Wednesday made it clear to a group of Muslim leaders that the "Centre is willing to talk (to Shaheen Bagh protesters) only if a structured request is sent". Prasad was taking part in a debate with a group of Muslim leaders on the Citizenship Amendment Act at the daylong India TV Conclave on Delhi assembly elections "Chunav Manch" in New Delhi.

The Law Minister was asked by India TV anchor why nobody from the Centre had gone to Shaheen Bagh protesters to at least listen to their demands.

In reply, Prasad said: "Today I have listened to this group. But can this group say that it represents the whole community? ..If they want that a representative of the Centre should talk to them, a structured request should come saying that we are ready (for talks)."

On some BJP spokesperson and leaders alleging that women protesters at Shaheen Bagh were hired on a daily payment basis, Prasad replied: "I do not think such remarks about Muslim women are proper. People must speak about women and children with respect, but I want to point out that all the reports that we get from Shaheen Bagh are not good."

Can a few hundred people shut off the voices of thousands of people, whose shops are closed and whose children are unable to go to schools? They have the right to protest, but some of their leaders are saying that there will be no talks until and unless CAA is withdrawn."

The Law Minister asserted that the "Citizenship Amendment Act was not applicable to any Indian citizen. Secondly, CAA neither gives nor revokes anybody's citizenship. I want to make this very clear to all including Indian Muslims. It is only applicable for those minorities in Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan who are persecuted on grounds of religion. India belongs to Muslims, as much as it belongs to Hindus and others. I want to say this with full commitment. "

"Our thinking is very much clear on CAA. We are ready to discuss with anybody who has confusion over this. I challenge, let anybody show one clause with which he or she does not agree."

Prasad pointed out that former Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh had in 2003 requested the then Home Minister L. K. Advani to grant citizenship to minorities from Pakistan and Bangladesh.

"This is on record in the Rajya Sabha proceedings. I have all the letters from the then Rajasthan chief minister Ashok Gehlot requesting the Centre to grant citizenship to Hindu refugees from Pakistan. I have also letters from then Assam chief minister Tarun Gogoi requesting centre to grant citizenship to minorities from Bangladesh.

"I do not want to delve into the past on what Mahatma Gandhi had promised and what provisions were there in the Nehru-Liaquat Ali Khan pact. If they do this, it's alright, and when we do something, it is being opposed. What is the logic behind this?"

https://www.indiatvnews.com/elections/news-centre-willing-to-talk-to-shaheen-bagh-protesters-only-if-a-structured-request-comes-ravi-shankar-prasad-584161

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Will protest if Indian Muslims are troubled by NRC, says Ramdev

Jan 30, 2020

Hubballi: Seeking to disabuse people of the notion that the Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA), recently passed by the BJP-led central government threatened the legitimacy of Muslims in the country, yoga guru Baba Ramdev on Wednesday said that he would among the first to take to the streets should the community face any such trouble. “If the National Register of Citizens (NRC) threatens injustice to Indian Muslims, it I not just I, but a billion Indians will protest against its implementation,” he added.

Recalling his longstanding association with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Ramdev said, “I have known Modi for more than 15 years, and I can assure you that he cannot be called anti-Muslim. There is nothing in the CAA that threatens the rights of Muslims, some of whom are being misled by a few.”

The yoga guru said that, while 99% of the Muslims in India were patriotic, the remaining ones were seeking to divide the country, which he said was resulting in Islam falling into disgrace. “I appeal to all Muslims to keep away from such anti-national forces seeking to bring a bad name to Islam,” said Ramdev, calling on the people to stay united in the face of the severe economic crisis that the country was presently in the grips of.

He added that he was as committed to his goal of getting black money back to India. However, when quizzed by journalists as to how long he was willing to wait for PM Modi to realise this objective, Ramdev said, “Chodi, mere aur Modi ke beech jagada mat lao (Please do not incite a fight between Modi and me).”

Full report at:

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/hubballi/will-protest-if-indian-muslims-are-troubled-by-nrc-says-ramdev/articleshow/73743775.cms

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Delhi exhibition showcases Kashmir’s ‘sacred’ architectural heritage

29 January 2020

New Delhi, Jan 29 (PTI) The conflict in Kashmir has eclipsed many aspects of its syncretic culture, including its architectural tradition that goes back centuries and manifests itself in temples, stupas and mosques, but an ongoing exhibition hopes to remedy that in its own small way.

The exhibition, titled "Sacred Architecture of Kashmir", provides material evidence through drawings, photographs and write-ups on the rich architectural heritage.

Organised by the Indian National Trust for Art & Cultural Heritage (INTACH) - J&K Chapter, the exhibition at the India International Centre (IIC) Annexe celebrates the genesis and synthesis of Islamic architecture in medieval Kashmir and the traditional inspirations that it draws on.

“The idea behind the exhibition is to reach out to the broader audience of scholars outside Jammu and Kashmir, to tell the story of the evolution of sacred architecture of Kashmir,” Saleem Beg, convener INTACH - J&K Chapter, told PTI.

“This architecture has evolved with the synchronisation of Buddhist, Hindu and Islamic architectural and spiritual elements and sacred spaces. However, not much work has been done so far in studying this continuity of traditions,” Beg said.

The exhibition, from January 28 to February 4, also covers years of conservation and restoration projects by INTACH - J&K Chapter, providing a detailed context of every building in terms, drawings, photographs and text.

Some representative cases covered in the exhibition are Srinagar''s 14th century Khanqah-i-Maulla, one of the oldest mosques in Kashmir, the Peer Dastageer Sahib Shrin and the Mosque of Madani.

Beg noted that the continuity of the built form by succeeding faiths has been a way of appropriating the sacred space.

“This provides a historical narrative away from textual readings, and preserves the unique identity of Kashmir,” he said.

He said the ''khanqah'' of Shah-e-Hamadan, the 14th century Sufi saint from Iran, is one of the best representations of this syncretic continuity, drawing from Budhism, Hinduism and Islam.

“The conflict that has engulfed Kashmir for almost three decades now, has also had a negative impact resulting in the loss of some major monuments/structures.

“Further conflict has also impacted overall governance that has resulted in mismanagement of heritage sites,” he said.

The story of evolution of Islamic architecture of medieval Kashmir is the story of harmonising the Islamic practice with the spiritual constitution of the historic Kashmiri subject, the organisers said.

INTACH - J&K Chapter has documented and digitised most of the shrines, including temples, as part of the project on cultural resource mapping. One of these, the Dastgeer Saheb shrine, was completely gutted in 2012.

“The exhibition also highlights some of the conservation and restoration works undertaken by INTACH J&K linked with these sacred architectural traditions,” Beg said.

For example, the spire of Shah-e-Hamdan ''khanqah'' was destroyed by lightning in 2015. Based on this digitisation, INTACH was able to restore and recreate these shrines.

Beg also noted that there is urgent need to build on these traditions and practices to enable society to retain the essence of its rich cultural past.

This, he said, can be done by initiating a dialogue within and outside Kashmir with civil society and opinion makers.

“The exhibits chosen are representative of the theme of exhibition as these shrines prominently carry the influences of past religious motifs, elements and sacred spaces,” Beg said.

“In general, people are aware and respect the traditional architecture of Kashmir whether it be a part of secular or religious nature.

“However, lack of focus on the architecture and its linkage with the identity of Kashmir has created situations were many a times these spaces have been intervened inappropriately,” he said.

Full report at:

https://www.outlookindia.com/newsscroll/delhi-exhibition-showcases-kashmirs-sacred-architectural-heritage/1720744

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Citing CAA, High Court grants bail to Christian immigrant from Bangladesh

January 30, 2020

Considering her eligibility for Indian citizenship under the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2019, the Karnataka High Court has granted bail to a Bangladeshi woman who was arrested by Bengaluru police in November last year on charges of being an illegal immigrant.

The police also said she had fraudulently obtained an Indian passport, Aadhaar card and other documents after marrying an Indian citizen.

This may be the first case of an alleged illegal immigrant being granted bail under the new citizenship law.

Archana Purnima Pramanik (37) told the High Court that she had converted to Christianity at the age of 11 at Bangladesh Adventist Seminary and College Church and decided to move to India when she was 20, Pramanik stated that she wanted to pursue a career in nursing on the advice of her parents. She was admitted to the Seventh Day Adventist Hospital, Ranchi, in 2003 and completed her diploma in general nursing and midwifery in 2006.

In her bail plea, Pramanik stated that she had earlier faced threats and harassment in her neighbourhood after converting to Christianity and had sought help of the police in Rajshahi division of Bangladesh.

After she met Indian citizen Rajasekaran Krishnamurthy in 2007, and married him in 2010, Pramanik reportedly moved to Bengaluru, where she obtained a voter ID card, PAN card, Aadhaar card and Indian passport.

Pramanik obtained a visa in April last year to travel to Bangladesh on Indian passport with her four-year-old son in May 2019 and was detained by immigration officials on suspicion at Kolkata airport. A complaint was filed against her in August last year by passport officials. An FIR was filed in November.

She was arrested by R T Nagar police in Bengaluru on November 7, 2019, on a complaint by passport authorities that she had fraudulently obtained an Indian passport in March last year using Aadhaar, PAN and voter ID cards. She was booked for forgery, for being an illegal immigrant under the Foreigners Act, 1946, and for obtaining an Indian passport for her son while being an alleged illegal immigrant under Section 3(1)(c) of the Citizenship Act, 1955 .

Pramanik approached a sessions court in Bengaluru with a bail plea but the court rejected the plea on December 4, 2019, stating that there was prima facie evidence of manipulation of records.

She then moved the High Court.

During the course of arguments before Justice John Michael Cunha, Pramanik’s advocates relied on examples of alleged illegal immigrants accused of forgery being granted bail as well as the amended Section 2 of the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2019, to argue that she “cannot be treated as an illegal migrant”. The government pleader did not dispute that she was entitled to benefit under the amended law.

In its order on January 27, the High Court observed that “Section 2 of the Citizenship Act, 1955 as amended by the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2019 provides that, any person from the Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Jain, Parsi or Christian community from Afghanistan, Bangladesh or Pakistan, who entered India on or before the 31st day of December, 2014, and who has been exempted by the Central Government by or under clause (c) of sub-section (2) of section 3 of the Passport (Entry into India) Act, 1920, or from the application of the provisions of the Foreigners Act, 1946 or any rule or order made thereunder, shall not be treated as illegal migrant for the purposes of this Act”.

Full report at:

https://indianexpress.com/article/india/citing-caa-high-court-grants-bail-to-christian-immigrant-from-bangladesh-6241685/

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EU Parliament defers vote on citizenship law resolutions

January 30, 2020

As the European Parliament met on Wednesday to debate the two resolutions — one of them a sharply worded condemnation of the Citizenship (Amendment) Act — it decided to postpone voting on them till March.

The European Parliament will now take up the resolutions for voting during the March plenary session between March 30 and April 2.

The voting, if it takes place then, will come after the India-European Union summit scheduled on March 13, which is likely to be attended by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. “A resolution slamming the Indian government on CAA could have jeopardised the summit,” a source told The Indian Express.

Indian diplomats in Brussels, led by the country’s envoy to Belgium, Gaitri Issar Kumar, had been reaching out to the groups of Members of European Parliament (MEPs) over the last few days.

Sources in the Indian government called the postponement of voting as a “diplomatic victory” for India. The source said, “Friends of India prevailed over the Friends of Pakistan in the European Parliament today.”

The source said that efforts of outgoing British MEP, Shaffaq Mohammad, to have a resolution passed by the European Parliament against India on the penultimate day before Brexit were defeated.

Shaffaq Ahmed, a Pakistan-origin British MEP, was considered one of the architects of the resolutions, although it had the support of 559 MEPs in the 751-member European Parliament.

“The CAA is a matter internal to India and has been adopted through a due process through democratic means. We expect that our perspectives in this matter will be understood by all objective and fair-minded

MEPs,” the source in the government said.

The joint resolution by five political groups says that a process like the NRC exacerbates “climate of xenophobia” while fuelling religious intolerance and discrimination. It said the CAA is “discriminatory in nature and dangerously divisive”, and appears to undermine India’s commitment to equality before the law.

The strongly worded joint resolution was drafted by five political groups from the Centre-Right to far-Left, and had replaced the five separate resolutions by these groups.

A second resolution piloted by a Eurosceptic political group backs India on the new citizenship law, but condemns the use of excessive violence.

Distancing itself from the MEPs’ move, the EU had on Monday stated that opinions expressed by the European Parliament and its members “do not represent the official position of the European Union”.

The joint resolution mentions the issue of freedom of expression in India and has named some of the activists, including Akhil Gogoi and Sadaf Jafar, who had been arrested for opposing CAA and NRC.

Editorial | Resolutions on CAA, Kashmir in European parliament point to the limits of diplomacy when the ground situation is fraught

It also warns against the “increasing nationalism which has resulted, inter alia, in fuelling of religious intolerance and discrimination against Muslims”.

Full report at:

https://indianexpress.com/article/india/eu-parliament-defers-vote-on-citizenship-law-resolutions-6241640/

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Jamia violence: Delhi Police release photos of 69 men

by Somya Lakhani

January 30, 2020

Delhi Police Wednesday released photos of 69 people who allegedly “actively participated in riots” on December 15 in New Friends Colony and Jamia Nagar after protests against the new citizenship law spiralled into violence.

The Delhi Police action echoes a crackdown by UP Police on people they suspected were behind the violence during protests against CAA in Kanpur, Firozabad and Mau. Those notices — warning of property attachment and announcing a reward of Rs 25,000 each for information on three wanted persons — were put up in December.

In the notice issued by Delhi Police Crime Branch, the faces of 69 men were put up with a message: “Any information about them would be suitably rewarded. Inform at 011-23013918 and 9750871252.”

Following the violence during the December 15 protests, police had stormed the Jamia Millia Islamia campus, with students claiming police brutality inside the library. The university has sought an FIR against police, and the matter is being heard by a Delhi court.

On how the 69 photos were collected, Special Commissioner (Intelligence) Praveer Ranjan told The Indian Express, “We have gathered information using CCTV footage from inside campus, videos and photos shared by passersby, and videos and photos doing the rounds of social media.”

A senior police officer said of the 69 men, some have already been identified. “We know their names and are looking for more information, like their whereabouts. Whether or not some are Jamia students is a matter of investigation,” said the officer.

On December 16, two FIRs were filed against unknown persons for rioting, rioting armed with deadly weapons, and unlawful assembly, among other sections.

Full report at:

https://indianexpress.com/article/india/citizenship-law-jamia-violence-police-release-photos-of-69-men-6241624/

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Aggrieved by usage of terms Hindu side, Muslim side in Ayodhya judgement, Mumbai lawyer writes letter to CJI

January 29, 2020

Power of Vedanta philosophy. Similarly, I know so many people born as Hindus but follow practices of Islam and Christianity. In the new age of spirituality, the boundaries between faiths are becoming blurred day by day and this class of citizens by default has been labelled as Hindus and Muslims. He further added that the constitution bench which decided this dispute consisted of judges belonging to Hindu as well as Muslim Community. By implication of the "Hindu side" and Muslim Side’ they also become a party to the dispute.

Full report at:

https://www.indiatoday.in/india/story/aggrieved-by-usage-of-terms-hindu-side-muslim-side-in-ayodhya-judgement-mumbai-lawyer-writes-letter-to-cji-1641270-2020-01-29

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BJP’s Parvesh Verma stands by Shaheen Bagh remark, says Muslims want to take over India

NEELAM PANDEY

29 January, 2020

New Delhi: West Delhi MP Parvesh Verma of the BJP stands by his controversial remark that Shaheen Bagh protesters would “rape and kill” Delhi residents.

Unperturbed by the Election Commission’s decision to remove his name from the list of BJP star campaigners, he told ThePrint, “I will continue to campaign for BJP candidates. I still stand by my statement and will submit my reply to the Election Commission. I have not said anything wrong.”

Verma, the son of late Delhi chief minister Sahib Singh Verma, is among several BJP leaders who have sought to make the Shaheen Bagh protest against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) the central plank of the 8 February assembly election.

The CAA is widely seen as an anti-Muslim legislation because it introduces religious grounds for grant of citizenship to immigrants from India’s three Muslim-majority neighbours, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Bangladesh.

The protest at Delhi’s Shaheen Bagh against the CAA is led by Muslim women. Amid reports that protest participants, including former IITian Sharjeel Imam, have made some controversial comments, BJP leaders from Amit Shah to Anurag Thakur and Verma have sought to project the protesters as “anti-nationals”.

“I saw slogans like ‘We want Jinnah waali azadi’ and ‘Pakistan zindabad’. I heard protesters saying ‘we want jihad’ at Shaheen Bagh,” Verma said.

“We all know what jihad is. Jihad is to convert all non-Muslims to Muslims. This is what they did in Kashmir. Wherever slogans of jihad will be raised, the outcome will be the same,” he said. “What happened in Kashmir can happen in Delhi too. And people of Delhi are also aware of it,” Verma added.

“Jihad means, if you are not Muslim, then you can’t even go to a Muslim colony and raise ‘Bharat Mata ki Jai’ slogan,” he said.

“Muslims want to take over India as this is what jihad means to them… but Hindus don’t indulge in jihad or religious conversion,” Verma said in an interview with ThePrint.

‘I stand by what I said’

Verma had triggered a controversy Tuesday with his comment that Shaheen Bagh protesters would “rape and kill” Delhi residents the way Kashmiri militants had treated Pandits in the Valley.

When asked if BJP leaders were resorting to such statements out of desperation, as is being claimed by the AAP and the Congress, Verma said the party was confident of winning the Delhi elections.

Verma added the Shaheen Bagh protest had been going on for a while as it had the support of Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal.

“I stand by what I said. Even Delhiites understand this… that if their population will continue to rise… Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal… has extended support to the protesters. The day the BJP will come to power, they themselves will go back to their homes within an hour,” he added.

Referring to allegations that the BJP was trying to polarise the electorate, Verma said, “Why can’t the BJP ask for Hindu votes when the AAP and the Congress want Muslims to vote only for them. Until the time the protest was peaceful, it was fine, but now such anti-India slogans are being raised… it is completely unacceptable.”

Asked about cases of lynching by mobs primarily constituting Hindus, Verma said “Hindus don’t believe in jihad or in conversion”. “It has never happened in history. We have never heard such things,” he added.

‘Protests are disrupting traffic’

During an election rally in the capital last week, Home Minister Shah asked Delhiites to press the button on the voting machine with such force that “its current is felt at Shaheen Bagh”. Similarly, Union Minister of State for Finance Anurag Thakur egged on supporters at a Delhi rally this week with the slogan “Desh ke gaddaron ko, goli maaro saalon ko.”

Full report at:

https://theprint.in/politics/bjps-parvesh-verma-stands-by-shaheen-bagh-remark-says-muslims-want-to-take-over-india/356068/

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Kashmir DMs told to review prohibitory orders under Sec 144

Jan 29, 2020

SRINAGAR: J&K government has directed all the ten district magistrates (DMs) of Kashmir Valley to review prohibitory orders issued under CrPC Section 144 (unlawful assembly) to assess their need for “continuance or otherwise”. On January 10, the Supreme Court had said that Section 144 cannot be invoked as a “tool” to “prevent the legitimate expression of opinion or grievance or exercise of any democratic rights”.

In a government order (GO) issued by principal secretary (home) Shaleen Kabra on January 25, the J&K administration has directed the DMs to ensure that a review of all the existing orders passed under Section 144 is undertaken forthwith to assess the need for their continuance in accordance with principles laid down by the apex court.

The home department has also come up with a slew of directions to be followed by DMs while imposing restrictions under Section 144. As per the GO, all the orders in force and any future orders under Section 144 have to be duly published.

Full report at:

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/kashmir-dms-told-to-review-prohibitory-orders-under-sec-144/articleshow/73743771.cms

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Kafeel Khan arrested at Mumbai airport for ‘instigating’ students in Aligarh last month

January 30, 2020

Suspended lecturer Dr. Kafeel Khan was arrested at the Mumbai airport late on Wednesday night by the Uttar Pradesh Police’s Special Task Force over a month after allegedly making instigating remarks at the Aligarh Muslim University (AMU).

Earlier on Wednesday, Dr. Khan had addressed a protest against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and the proposed nationwide National Register of Citizens (NRC) and National Population Register (NPR) in Bihar. He was scheduled to attend a protest in Mumbai Central, where local women have staged a sit-in, at 11 am on Thursday and had flown into the city on Wednesday. However, he was taken into custody after his flight landed in Mumbai and then taken to Sahar police station.

Read | AMU V-C makes ‘final appeal’ to students: Return to your classes

A senior police official said that the STF would take Dr. Khan back to UP on Thursday.

An FIR was registered at Civil Lines police station in Aligarh on December 13, 2019, a day after Dr. Khan had spoken at a protest rally in AMU. In its FIR, the UP Police accused Dr. Khan of sowing seeds of discord and disharmony towards other religious communities among 600 Muslim students he addressed at the University’s Bab-e-Syed Gate at 6.30 pm on December 12.

The police, which recorded the speech, also accused Dr. Khan of making disparaging remarks towards the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh and Union Home Minister Amit Shah and of exhorting students to fight against the central’s government’s citizenship legislation and of attempting to stoke communal tensions.

Full report at:

https://indianexpress.com/article/india/kafeel-khan-mumbai-aligarh-speech-caa-nrc-6241978/

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Kashmiri Pandits In Kashmir: Those who stayed back have a home — and a roomful of regret

January 30, 2020

by Adil Akhzer , Nirupama Subramanian

In an upstairs room of their modest house in Ranipora village, three generations of the Ganjoo family keep the winter cold out with kangris and blankets and ponder if they would have been better or worse off leaving Kashmir in 1990 with most of the others in the Pandit community as they weigh loss against gain of the last three decades.

The Ganjoos are one of just three Pandit families of their village that stayed on in the Valley as the remaining 60 or so families left fearing for their safety against a background of rising militancy and the killings of several Pandits.

Anantnag had witnessed communal trouble in 1986 and most Pandit families in the district fled when the government appeared to have lost control over the emerging situation four years later.

“We did not have the resources to leave and start life anew in Jammu. Another factor was that my parents did not want to leave this village and their home. We could not go without them. So we trusted in god, and our (Muslim) neighbours, who wept, and said they would not let us go. There was love and affection for us. So we stayed and our neighbours supported us a lot. It was the right decision at the time,” said Ashok Kumar Ganjoo, 58, who is employed as a government pharmacist.

“But today I feel it was not the right decision,” he said.

His 86-year-old mother Lakshmi Shri echoes that view. The reason: “migrant Pandits” got all the political attention, benefited from government compensation packages that helped them with quotas in education and employment at places where they went while the “non-migrants”, as those who stayed on describe themselves, became invisible.

Today, as migrant Pandits demand that the government resettles them in the Valley, the divide with the non-migrant is perhaps sharper than it has been all these years.

On January 20, 1990, the first big batch of Pandits had to pack their belongings and leave after a night of public threats by militants — the exodus surging between March and May that year and continuing in a steady stream for the next few years.

Until in all, says Sanjay Tickoo, who heads the Srinagar-based Kashmiri Pandit Sangharsh Samiti, fewer than 800 Pandit families remain in the Valley today, of the 77,653 that lived here in 1989, according to his estimates.

They live as they had always done, among Muslim neighbours. It was not always easy as Kashmir lurched from crisis to crisis but the small remnants of the community stuck on.

Today, he said, the outflow of Pandits continues, “not because they feel suddenly unsafe but because of their economic condition. There is no means of livelihood. They don’t get government jobs and there are no private jobs. Now if someone in the younger generation is lucky to get a job outside, they take their parents with them,” said the Srinagar-based Tickoo.

From 2018, after the J&K High Court, on a petition by Tickoo, asked the government to consider the demands of the non-migrants, the state government included them in the 2008 Prime Minister’s return and rehabilitation scheme. Separately, they agreed to recruit 500 non-migrant youth. “That file is still moving through the secretariat and we hope it will be okayed in a couple of months,” Tickoo said.

Meanwhile, Ganjoo’s 26-year-old son Ashish, an Arts graduate from the Anantnag degree college, is struggling to find employment. “I am seriously considering leaving. Don’t get me wrong, it is not because of security reasons. We have no such problems. I am thinking of leaving because I need to get myself a job. The government jobs are not for us and the private sector jobs that are available are low-paying,” said Ashish.

His cousin Punit Thaploo is visiting from Delhi and the difference between them is apparent. Compared to the hesitant Ashish, Thaploo is a confident 30-year-old engineer, who has just quit his job with the Boston Consultancy Group, and is thinking of setting up a coffee shop in Cyber City, Gurgaon. “The living conditions are better outside, the opportunities are better. Those who stayed back have become economically backward,” said Thaploo.

Ironically, while his cousin looks longingly at the outside world, Thaploo is looking at Kashmir.

His own parents fled their joint family stead in Wanpoh, and this is only the second time that he has returned to the Valley. The first was in 1994, for a family wedding at the Ganjoo home.

“This time, I visited Wanpoh and the home we abandoned all those years ago for the first time. It was an emotional moment for me,” said Thaploo, describing Kashmir as “the mother of all Pandits”, and talking about the importance of preserving the Kashmiri language and the Sharda script.

Ashish’s elder sister Sheetal, who went to Delhi to live with the Thaploos, is doing a PhD in Human Resource Management at Delhi University. But their younger sister Komal grew up and studied, like Ashish, in Anantnag, and has few if any employment prospects.

Ironically, while his cousin looks longingly at the outside world, Thaploo is looking at Kashmir.

His own parents fled their joint family stead in Wanpoh, and this is only the second time that he has returned to the Valley. The first was in 1994, for a family wedding at the Ganjoo home.

“This time, I visited Wanpoh and the home we abandoned all those years ago for the first time. It was an emotional moment for me,” said Thaploo, describing Kashmir as “the mother of all Pandits”, and talking about the importance of preserving the Kashmiri language and the Sharda script.

Ashish’s elder sister Sheetal, who went to Delhi to live with the Thaploos, is doing a PhD in Human Resource Management at Delhi University. But their younger sister Komal grew up and studied, like Ashish, in Anantnag, and has few if any employment prospects.

“We are culturally distant and isolated from our own community. During deaths or marriages, it is our neighbours who support us till our relatives arrive. When someone dies, it is Muslim neighbours who sit through the night with us, make all the preparations, even help to carry the body to the cremation ground. We celebrate our festivals like Shivratri and Diwali with our neighbours, and we celebrate Eid with them,” said Ashish, who has formed a group called Kashmiri Pandit Helping Hands to assist poor Pandit families. He recently petitioned the District Commissioner asking the administration to build walls and sheds at cremation grounds, and at temples.

Tickoo says non-migrant families are being punished for not leaving the Valley. “We are seen as traitors. The migrants have all the access to the BJP ministers and Ministry of Home Affairs to present their case, we have none,” he says.

Full report at:

https://indianexpress.com/article/india/homeless-at-home-express-series-kashmiri-pandits-in-kashmir-6241798/

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India urges Israel, Palestine to engage with each other

January 30, 2020

A day after US President Donald Trump announced his new “peace plan” for the Middle East, India on Wednesday asked Israel and Palestine to engage with each other, including on Trump’s proposals.

Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said, “As you are aware, India has been consistently supportive of the Palestinian cause. India has also called for a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian issue. We reiterate our view that the final status issues should be resolved through direct negotiations between the two parties and be acceptable to both.”

“We urge the parties to engage with each other, including on the recent proposals put forward by the United States, and find an acceptable two-state solution for peaceful coexistence. We will continue to follow developments in the region and engage with the parties concerned,” he said.

Trump’s “deal of the century” allows for Israel to control a unified Jerusalem as its capital, settlements on the West Bank will not be removed and Palestine will be allowed to have a restricted state with limited sovereignty, but only after the nation fulfils several conditions.

Full report at:

https://indianexpress.com/article/india/india-urges-israel-palestine-to-engage-with-each-other-6241700/

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Leading stir, CPM gains support of Kerala Muslims

January 30, 2020

More than a month into the protests against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, the CPI(M) seems to have been drawing support from a large section of the Muslim community, which has traditionally supported the Congress-led UDF.

The shift in the community’s approach was tangible when clerics and leaders of Muslim religious organisations such as SAMASTHA and Kerala Naduvathul Mujahideen — who have otherwise been with the UDF — became part of the human chain, organised by the CPI(M)-led LDF, on January 26 to protest against CAA.

Scores of local leaders and workers of Indian Union Muslim League (IUML), a Congress ally, also joined the 620-km human chain from the state’s north to south.

The growing acceptance of CPI(M) in the Muslim community in the emerging political scenario seems to have left many Congress leaders jittery.

After Sunday’s human chain, senior Congress leader K Muraleedharan aired this concern. “Participation of UDF workers in the human chain is a matter of serious concern,” he said. “It should be looked into why UDF workers went for the CPI(M) event. I have demanded that the party leadership intensify the protest against CAA.”

In Muslim-dominated areas of north Kerala, many people, wary of the CAA, are full of praise for the stance adopted by the CPI(M)-led government. Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan’s unequivocal stand — that the state will not implement CAA, passing a resolution in Assembly demanding scrapping of the law, a firm no to NPR and NRC, and the aggressive stand against the Governor — have created an impression among Muslims in Kerala that the LDF can address the community’s concerns over CAA.

Earlier, when LDF organised big anti-CAA rallies in Malappuram and Kozhikode, it brought on its platform leaders of the organisation SAMASTHA, which has close ties with IUML. SAMASTHA leaders had publicly acclaimed Vijayan’s stand against CAA.

The CPI(M) gained ground in the anti-CAA protests in the state at a time the UDF was divided over its strategy. While Leader of Opposition in Assembly, Congress’s Ramesh Chennithala, welcomed a joint protest with LDF, party’s state president Mullappally Ramachandran wanted UDF to go solo. Within UDF, the IUML is learnt to be in favour of a joint agitation with LDF.

Senior CPI(M) leader M V Jayarajan said, “There is grave concern among Muslims about CAA. When Babri Masjid was demolished, religious extremists had tried to capitalise on the situation. This time, such attempts did not succeed. Instead, CPI(M) could convince the community that religious minorities should stand with secular forces.”

Jayarajan, the party’s district secretary in Kannur, also said, “During our house-to-house campaign, we get encouraging feedback from pro-UDF families from the Muslim community.”

Full report at:

https://indianexpress.com/article/india/leading-stir-cpm-gains-support-of-kerala-muslims-6241713/

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Child panel asks parents to not take kids to Lucknow protest site, warns of ‘action’

January 30, 2020

As the women-led protest at Lucknow’s Ghantaghar entered the second week on Wednesday, the Child Welfare Committee (CWC) of Lucknow issued a “notice” to the protesting parents, asking them not to bring their children to the protest site “as it violates Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act of 2015”.

While “ordering” the parents to “immediately send back their children to their houses from the protest site so that their normal routine could continue”, the statement issued by CWC (Lucknow) Chairman Kuldeep Ranjan and four of the panel’s members warned of action, including imprisonment up to three years if they fail to comply with the notice.

“As per the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act of 2015, anyone who is below 18 years will be called a child, and CWC has to work so that their childhood, education and health can be taken care of. In connection to this, the CWC orders that families which are protesting at the site along with their children should immediately send back their children to their houses,” the statement read.

Full report at:

https://indianexpress.com/article/india/child-panel-asks-parents-to-not-take-kids-to-lucknow-protest-site-warns-of-action-6241707/

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Day after arrest, JNU student Sharjeel Imam sent in five-day police custody

January 29, 2020

A day after he was arrested on sedition charges, JNU PhD scholar Sharjeel Imam has been sent in five-day police custody, a Delhi court was informed Wednesday.

The situation at the Patiala House Courts Complex, where Imam was produced, remained tense as lawyers raised slogans against him, demanding he be hanged, reported PTI. Heavy security was deployed outside the court premises with about 20 police personnel including the CRPF officials.

ANI

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#UPDATE Sharjeel Imam has been taken to Ram Manohar Lohia (RML). A Delhi Court has sent him to 5-day Delhi Police Crime Branch custody. https://twitter.com/ANI/status/1222529692827189248 …

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ANI

@ANI

#UPDATE Sharjeel Imam has been taken to Delhi Police crime branch office. https://twitter.com/ANI/status/1222510655862738949 …

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Imam was arrested from his village — Kako in Jehanabad district of Bihar — on Tuesday after sedition cases were filed against him in several states for an anti-Citizenship Amendment Act speech he made at Aligarh Muslim University on January 16.

Apart from Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, Manipur, Assam and Arunachal Pradesh have slapped sedition charges against Imam. An IIT-Bombay graduate who is pursuing PhD in Modern Indian History from JNU, Imam was an active volunteer at the Shaheen Bagh protest in Delhi till January 2.

Sharjeel Imam’s mother: My son doesn’t need to run from police

According to a purported video of his speech at AMU, Imam said: “If we have 5 lakh people with us, we can cut off the Northeast from India. If not permanently, for one or two months. Put rubble on tracks and roads… Assam aur India katke alag ho jaaye, tabhi ye humari baat sunenge (Once Assam is cut off, then only they will listen to us). We can do that because the Chicken’s Neck corridor (connecting Northeast to rest of India) is dominated by Muslims.”

Full report at:

https://indianexpress.com/article/india/day-after-arrest-jnu-student-sharjeel-imam-sent-to-five-day-police-custody-6241421/

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Pakistan

 

Pakistan backs Palestine’s call for state with pre-1967 borders

January 30, 2020

ISLAMABAD: Maintaining its stance, Pakistan on Wednesday reiterated that it backs Palestine’s demand for making Jerusalem as the capital of its independent state on the basis of pre-1967 borders, a statement released by the Foreign Office said.

The announcement comes a day after US President Donald Trump presented his Middle East plan as a solution to one of the world’s longest-running conflicts. The plan would allow the Palestinians to establish a capital on the outskirts of East Jerusalem but would leave most of the city under Israeli control – giving latter much of what it has long sought.

It also envisages a Palestinian state in parts of the West Bank but would allow Israel to annex its settlements in the occupied territory.

“My vision presents a win-win solution for both sides,” Trump said at the White House on Tuesday alongside Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

The Foreign Office, in its statement on Wednesday, said Pakistan has “seen the peace plan that the United States has presented for the Middle East”.

However, it clarified that while Pakistan “has consistently supported a two-state solution, as enshrined in the relevant Security Council and General Assembly Resolutions” it wants the “establishment of a viable, independent and the contiguous State of Palestine, on the basis of internationally-agreed parameters, the pre-1967 borders, and with Al-Quds Al-Sharif [Jerusalem] as its capital”.

The UN resolutions on the issue term all Israeli settlements in the West Bank illegal and call for a solution based on borders before the 1967 Arab-Israeli war, with agreed land swaps.

“Pakistan continues to support a just and lasting solution of the Palestinian issue, through dialogue and negotiations,” the statement said. It added that Pakistan wants a solution that “leads to the realisation of the legitimate rights of the Palestinians, including the right of self-determination.”

According to Associated Press, the plan sides with Israel on key contentious issues that have bedeviled past peace efforts, including borders, and attaches nearly impossible conditions for granting the Palestinians their hoped-for state.

The plan prompted a lukewarm response from Europe and the UN and a furious rebuke from key Muslim countries who denounced it as a betrayal of the Palestinians.

Palestine President Mahmoud Abbas — who had taken part in previous US-led peace talks with Israel but stayed away from Trump’s proposal — vowed that “this conspiracy deal will not pass”.

He pledged to “resist the deal in all its forms” after meeting with various Palestinian factions in the West Bank city of Ramallah.

“Our people will take it to the dustbin of history,” he said.

Netanyahu, on the other hand, called it a historic breakthrough equal in significance to the country’s declaration of independence in 1948. “It’s a great plan for Israel. It’s a great plan for peace,” he said.

https://www.pakistantoday.com.pk/2020/01/29/pakistan-backs-palestines-call-for-state-with-pre-1967-borders-fo/

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Pakistan extradites sex offender who fled UK during trial

Atika Rehman

January 30, 2020

LONDON: A man convicted of child sexual offences in the United Kingdom in the early 2000s has been extradited from Pakistan, following a successful operation led by authorities here and in Islamabad.

The Greater Manchester Police (GMP) department in a press release said 42-year-old Choudhry Ikhalaq Hussain was flown to the UK on Tuesday after he was extradited by authorities.

He was arrested in Sangla, Faisalabad, in January 2019, nearly four years after he fled the UK halfway during his trial. He has been returned to the UK to serve a 19-year term for being found guilty in April 2016 of three counts of sexual activity with a child, two counts of rape and one count of conspiracy to rape.

He is one of 10 men sentenced in 2016 for committing sexual offences against a teenage girl in Rochdale. He was part of a group of men of Pakistani, Bangla­deshi and Afghan origin who were sentenced for sexually abusing dozens of girls following an investigation centred on the town of Rochdale near Manchester. The court heard that the men groomed the girls with gifts and plied them with alcohol and drugs before forcing them to have sex with others.

The trial in the UK was launched under the umbrella of ‘Operation Doublet’ — a large-scale police investigation formed in 2012 to investigate reports of historic child sexual exploitation between 2003 and 2013, predominantly in the Rochdale area of Greater Manchester.

Hussain escaped during the trial after he was given permission to leave by the judge in 2015, when he claimed that he wanted to attend a relative’s funeral in the UK. Instead he fled to Pakistan and remained at large till last year, when he was apprehended during a joint operation of local and UK authorities.

After his extradition, Detective Superintendent Jamie Daniels, a senior investigating officer for ‘Operation Doublet’, said: “Hussain is a sexual predator who mistakenly thought he could flee to another country to live the good life, while his victim was forced to deal with the consequences of his vile actions and robbed of justice. His apprehension demonstrates that when it comes to pursuing perpetrators of child sexual exploitation, we will hunt them across the globe if necessary.”

Daniels added that Hussain’s extradition is an “overwhelmingly positive results” for the GMP as well as the National Crime Agency, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, the British High Commission in Pakistan and Pakistani authorities who he said have worked in partnership with the UK for a number of years in order to catch Hussain and bring him back to the UK.

“No matter how many years have passed, we will do everything in our power to ensure dangerous predators like Hussain are caught and face up to their abhorrent crimes. I also hope it sends a clear message to those who think that they can flee to the other side of the world to avoid serving a prison sentence — we won’t stop until you are put behind bars,” Daniels said.

British High Commissioner to Pakistan Dr Christian Turner said the extradition was the latest example of the close co-operation between the UK and Pakistan’s law enforcement agencies.

“...There is no escape for those who flee from the law, even across international boundaries. Choudhry Ikhalaq Hussain will finally face jail for his terrible crimes. This is down to the hard work and excellent collaboration between Pakistan and UK authorities,” he said, lauding the FIA and Punjab police for their work.

Search operation

Earlier, Pakistani authorities launched a search for Britain’s most wanted man in child abuse cases with the help of only one photograph that had been provided to the local police.

Soon after receiving a request from the UK for his extradition, the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) sought non-bailable warrants for Hussain on December 12, 2017 from the court of additional district magistrate, Islamabad, Shoaib Ali. FIA Director Shakeel Ahmed Durrani then requested the police to facilitate the execution of arrest warrant.

A police officer told Dawn that only one photograph of the convict had been provided to the local police that with the help of Special Branch of police launched the search and finally managed to find his whereabouts.

The senior officer said the convict had been hiding in a huge three-storey house in a village of Saddar, Sangla Hill. After his arrest in January last year, he was handed over to the FIA, the police officer added.

On Tuesday, Hussain was shifted to Rawalpindi amid tight security and later driven to the Islamabad International Airport by an FIA team before being handed over to Britain’s security team for extradition. He was extradited to the UK on a British Airways flight.

https://www.dawn.com/news/1531395/pakistan-extradites-sex-offender-who-fled-uk-during-trial

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IGP conveys concerns to PM about ‘political pressure’ in Sindh

Imran Ayub

January 30, 2020

KARACHI: As the change in Sindh police’s command appears imminent, with many believing that the provincial and federal governments are about to reach a consensus over the new inspector general of police, incumbent IG Dr Syed Kaleem Imam met the prime minister in Islamabad on Wednesday and briefed him about the challenges the police were facing in effecting policing mainly in rural areas due to growing “political pressures”.

“IG-Sindh Dr Syed Kaleem Imam called on Prime Minister Imran Khan here [Islamabad] on Wednesday. The meeting discussed law and order situation in the province and other matters,” said a brief statement issued by the PM Office.

Sources said that the meeting was more than a simple briefing on law and order in the province.

After weeks of debate, political wrangling, controversies over statements and strong stances from both federal and provincial authorities, the matter pertaining to the transfer of the incumbent IGP now appears to be headed for a resolution as only a consensus name of the new officer is left to be decided. However, a tug of war over the issue has left many scars that can resurface at any time.

“The meeting was held in a very good atmosphere,” said a source. “The PM invited the Sindh IG to meet him in Islamabad. The two couldn’t hold a detailed discussion during the recent visit of PM Khan to Karachi. So he [PM Khan] sought more input from Dr Imam on the subject to know the other side of the story. The Sindh IG briefed the prime minister about recent security situation and law and order in Sindh and also shared some details about Karachi.”

“The IG briefed the PM about political pressure while policing in the province in general and in certain districts in particular,” he said. “He mentioned a series of episodes over a year which brought the police and politically influential individuals at odds.”

“He also referred to a number of complaints he has been receiving about certain officers regarding misuse of powers, corruption and illegal activities but despite his recommendations their jobs remain intact due to their strong connections. And those who perform their duties and act against vested interests of well-connected people face action from the provincial government,” the source said.

His response was in the affirmative when asked whether the discussion between the two sides also touched on the much-publicised issue of IGP’s transfer.

But, he said, the meeting mostly discussed the issues emerging over the past few months that had become a bone of contention between the political administration of Sindh and the police hierarchy.

The PM, the source said, heard the Sindh IG out and sought his suggestions for a better policing system.

During the meeting the PM hinted at transferring him soon to post him at a promising key position in the federal government.

Full report at:

https://www.dawn.com/news/1531400/igp-conveys-concerns-to-pm-about-political-pressure-in-sindh

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Parties voice concern at Centre’s indifference towards KP

January 30, 2020

PESHAWAR: A Jamaat-e-Islami (JI)-convened All Parties Conference on Wednesday expressed serious concern over the indifferent attitude of the federal government towards Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and its recently merged districts, and urged the Centre to give due shares of the province under different heads to overcome the growing unrest among people.

The meeting, held at the provincial headquarters of the JI, was chaired by party’s provincial president Senator Mushaq Ahmad Khan. Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Information Minister Shaukat Yousafzai, provincial president of Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl Senator Maulana Attaur Rahman, Awami National Party’s general secretary Sardar Hussain Babak, Qaumi Watan Party provincial president Sikandar Hayat Sherpao, Pakistan People’s Party leader Syed Ayub Shah, Ikhtiar Wali of Pakistan Muslim League, Inayatullah Khan of JI and others spoke on the occasion.

A joint declaration was also adopted at the conference wherein the federal government was asked to seriously think over the genuine problems faced by the people of the province and release the share of the province under different heads like hydel net profit, National Finance Commission (NFC) award and others.

According to the declaration, the net hydel profit is a constitutional right of the province and the federal government should immediately issue the Rs450 billion arrears of the province under the AGN Kazi Formula. Also, it said Khyber Pakhtunkhwa is the major electricity producing province which generates 6,000 megawatts power, while its own consumption is just 15,000 megawatts; hence, the series of outages in the province should be immediately ended and uninterrupted power supply to the people of the province should be ensured.

The conference declared that the PTI government had been unable to issue NFC award even after 20 months of its rule, which has been adversely affecting Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. The conference demanded the government to issue the NFC award at the earliest.

The meeting was told that other provinces of the country have been using the waters of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa under the Water Accord reached in 1991, for which they ought to make payments to the province. They conference urged the provinces of Punjab and Sindh to immediately release the payments of the province pending against them. The conference also urged the federal government to provide resources to the province so that it could fully utilise its share of water.

The federal government has also given minimum share to the province in budget and no mega project could be initiated here. The meeting urged the government to take urgent steps for Mohmand and Bhasha dams. Also, funds should be released for construction of the left canal and tax exemption of Malakand division should be maintained, the participants stressed.

The meeting participants also expressed serious concern over little share given the province in the development projects under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). They demanded of the government to provide due share in the multi-billion project to the province. Like electricity, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa is a major producer of gas. Therefore, the gas load-shedding and low pressure should be ended immediately, they declared.

The worst flour crisis has badly affected the province. The price of flour in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa is much higher than that of Punjab. The PTI government should focus attention on the issue and ensure same prices of flour in both the provinces., they said

They also said the price hike of daily use commodities has made life miserable for the people; the government should withdraw unnecessary taxes from the essential items so that the prices could be brought down. The meeting also discussed the situation in the newly merged districts of the province, which have been badly affected by the prolonged wave of militancy. The federal government at the time of merger with the province had promised to provide Rs1000 billion to those areas in 10 years, of which Rs100 billion would be released on monthly basis. However, no such funds could be released so far.

The conference demanded of the government to fulfil its commitment and immediately release the funds for the former tribal areas’ reconstruction and rehabilitation.

The government should also focus attention on education, health and other facilities in the former tribal areas and set up universities, medical colleges and other educational institutions and health facilities in the province, they added.

Full report at:

https://www.thenews.com.pk/print/606342-parties-voice-concern-at-centre-s-indifference-towards-kp

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2 soldiers martyred during operation on terrorist hideout in North Waziristan: ISPR

Naveed Siddiqui

January 30, 2020

Two Pakistan Army soldiers were martyred on Thursday during an intelligence-based operation (IBO) on a terrorist hideout in Dattakhel, North Waziristan, according to a statement issued by the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR).

"Five terrorists were killed during the exchange of fire," the statement added.

The martyred soldiers were identified as Sepoys Muhammad Shamim and Asad Khan.

On Dec 5, 2019, two security forces officials were martyred in an IBO near Charkhel village of North Waziristan.

"Presence of terrorists was reported in a hideout. During operation two terrorists killed," the statement released by ISPR had said.

Full report at:

https://www.dawn.com/news/1531447/2-soldiers-martyred-during-operation-on-terrorist-hideout-in-north-waziristan-ispr

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Supreme Court Bar Association seeks changes in accountability law to curb misuse of power

January 30, 2020

ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA) on Wednesday emphasised the need for legislative changes in the National Accountability Ordinance (NAO) as well as improved training modules of NAB officials to curb misuse of power by the anti-graft watchdog.

“The dignity and credibility of an institution which is responsible for accountability in the country should be up to the mark and must meet the highest standards set internationally for such like institutions of pivotal importance,” said Syed Qalb-i-Hassan, the president of the SCBA.

In a statement, he also expressed concern over procedures and mechanisms used by NAB authorities during proceedings conducted by them.

The SCBA president said that NAB was established for the purpose of curbing corruption and malpractices at the highest level and for establishing the rule of law across the board, but the procedure adopted by the bureau had raised questions in prudent minds of society about the methodology of arrest, inquiries, investigations and delayed trials.

The arrest of suspects without collection of evidence had become a norm and the trend of searching evidence for justifying the arrest had become the order of the day, regretted Mr Hassan.

Belated accusations, he said, against different people and inquiries spreading over years without their finalisation were against fundamental constitutional rights of the citizens.

The most important and fundamental rights, including the right to liberty, he said, were being compromised due to non-professional approach of officials of the bureau.

Full report at:

https://www.dawn.com/news/1531409/supreme-court-bar-association-seeks-changes-in-accountability-law-to-curb-misuse-of-power

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5 militants killed, 2 soldiers martyred in crackdown on terrorist hideout

January 30, 2020

RAWALPINDI: Pakistan Army on Thursday killed 5 terrorists in an intelligence-based operation (IBO) crackdown on a terrorist Hideout in Datta Khel area of North Waziristan, an Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) press release said.

According to the press release, 2 soldiers Sepoy Muhammad Shamim and Sepoy Asad Khan embraced martyrdom in the exchange of fire.

Earlier on Dec 5 last year, two security forces officials were martyred in an IBO near Charkhel village of North Waziristan.

Full report at:

https://www.pakistantoday.com.pk/2020/01/30/5-militants-killed-2-soldiers-martyred-in-crackdown-on-terrorist-hideout/

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Govt to introduce another ordinance for Gilgit-Baltistan

BY GHULAM ABBAS

January 30, 2020

ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government is all set to introduce another presidential ordinance related to governance in Gilgit-Baltistan (GB).

Sources informed this scribe that Prime Minister Imran Khan held a meeting with GB governor, chief minister and other lawmakers on Wednesday to finalise the draft ordinance after months of consultations with stakeholders. The meeting was also attended by Minister for Kashmir Affairs and GB Ali Amin Gandapur, secretary Kashmir affairs, GB chief secretary and other officials from civilian and defence institutions.

According to sources, the meeting has given a go-ahead to the proposed GB Ordinance, 2020 and it is expected to be approved by the federal cabinet soon. The new ordinance is an amended version of the GB Ordinance, 2019, which was approved by the Supreme Court (SC) in January last year.

An official in the Ministry of Kashmir Affairs and GB informed this scribe that the new ordinance will give all administrative powers to the government of the GB without undermining the Kashmir cause. “This is a sensitive topic as the fate of GB is linked to the decision of the Kashmir dispute as per the resolutions of the United Nations (UN),” the official added.

The official also confided in this scribe that the government has amended some sections of the previous ordinance which had been criticised by relevant stakeholders and had prompted the government to file an appeal in the apex court against the ordinance. “Now that the government has amended those sections, it will withdraw its appeal and will ask the court to accept the amended ordinance instead,” the official added.

As the GB Ordinance 2019 was in limbo, the GB Governance Order, 2018, which was introduced by the previous Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) government, was being implemented in the region.

Full report at:

https://www.pakistantoday.com.pk/2020/01/29/government-to-introduce-another-ordinance-for-gilgit-baltistan/

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2 mortar shells fired into Pakistan’s territory from Afghanistan

January 30, 2020

ISLAMABAD: Two mortar shells were fired into Pakistan from Afghanistan, however, no casualties were reported, a statement issued by Foreign Office spokesperson Aisha Farooqui said on Wednesday.

Following the incident, the Torkham border gate was closed off for security reasons, Farooqui added.

“The matter is being coordinated with Afghan authorities,” she said, adding that the gate is likely to be opened soon.

“Some mortars were fired from across the border in Afghanistan and landed inside Pakistan. They caused some damage to vehicles,” Mahmood Aslam Wazir, deputy district commissioner of the area on the Pakistani side, told Reuters.

However, an Afghan official denied that Afghan forces had fired into Pakistan. “In the past, Pakistan has played the same game whenever they want to close the Torkham crossing,” Attaullah Khogyani, spokesman for the governor of Nangarhar province, alleged.

Prime Minister Imran Khan had last year decided to keep the Torkham border crossing open for 24 hours in order to facilitate trade between Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Despite measures to improve ties, however, there have been several incidents of border skirmishes between the Afghanistan and Pakistan forces.

In October last year, 11 people were injured in a border skirmish between the Pakistan and Afghanistan forces after the latter fired mortars and heavy machine guns in Narai district of Kunar province, targeting the civilian population in the Arandu village.

According to Abdul Ghani Musamem, a government official in Afghanistan’s Kunar province, the clashes had erupted when Afghan troops used force to stop the construction of a border installation.

Full report at:

https://www.pakistantoday.com.pk/2020/01/29/2-mortar-shells-fired-into-pakistans-territory-from-afghanistan/

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Arab World

 

Lebanon PM asks government, banks for plan to restore confidence

29 January 2020

Lebanon’s Prime Minister Hassan Diab asked the government and banking sector on Wednesday to prepare a plan to restore “the minimum degree of confidence” as the country faces its worst economic and financial crisis in decades.

At a meeting to discuss the financial and economic situation, Diab said the first impressions he got from the central bank and banking association was that there were still “ways out” of the crisis, a statement said.

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2020/01/29/Lebanon-PM-asks-government-banks-for-plan-to-restore-confidence.html

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Kuwait welcomes US bid to end Arab-Israeli conflict

29 January 2020

Kuwait “highly appreciates” US efforts to end the Arab-Israeli conflict, the foreign ministry said on Wednesday, a day after US President Donald Trump announced a new peace plan.

The statement, cited by the state news agency, reiterated Kuwait’s commitment to an independent Palestinian state based on its borders before the Israeli occupation of the West Bank in 1967.

Kuwait is an ally of the United States in the Gulf region.

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/gulf/2020/01/29/Kuwait-welcomes-US-bid-to-end-Arab-Israeli-conflict.html

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Crew of Panama-flagged oil tanker rescued after fire off Sharjah coast

29 January 2020

The crew of a Panamanian-flagged oil tanker were rescued when the vessel caught fire off the coast of the United Arab Emirates, according to authorities.

“The UAE authorities are working to put out a fire that broke out aboard an oil tanker 21 miles off the coast of Sharjah after receiving a distress message,” an official statement from the UAE Federal Authority for Land and Maritime Transport read.

The statement added that an investigation was underway into the cause of the incident.

It also said that swift action by UAE search teams “rescued the sailors and the crew of the ship” which was not carrying any oil when the blaze broke out, apparently sparked by an accident during maintenance operations.

Al Arabiya English

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A video circulating on social media is believed to show the incident involving a vessel on fire off the coast of Sharjah in the United Arab Emirates.https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/gulf/2020/01/29/Reports-of-vessel-on-fire-off-UAE-s-Sharjah-UKMTO.html …

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A spokesman for the United States’ Fifth Fleet, headquartered in nearby Bahrain, said the force was “aware of an incident, we are monitoring the situation.”

The United Kingdom Maritime Trade Operations (UKMTO) said it had received reports of a vessel on fire northwest of the United Arab Emirates’ emirate of Sharjah.

“This Advisory is not classified as a Maritime Security Event and has not been verified by UKMTO,” it said on its website.

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/gulf/2020/01/29/Reports-of-vessel-on-fire-off-UAE-s-Sharjah-UKMTO.html

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New Qatari prime minister allegedly involved in corruption case

29 January 2020

Qatar’s newly appointed prime minister is reportedly connected to an allegedly corrupt deal meant to bring top sports events to the country, according to French publication Mediapart and British newspaper The Guardian.

Prime Minister Sheikh Khalid bin Khalifa al-Thani, a member of Qatar’s royal family who also serves as interior minister, allegedly discussed a money transfer agreement with “disgraced” International Association Athletics Federation (IAAF) marketing consultant Papa Massata Diack just before a $3.4 million payment was made, according to The Guardian.

The payments, under investigation by French authorities, were made in October and November 2011, one month before the IAAF voted to decide the host country of the 2017 athletics world championships.

“French investigators suspect the payments may have been a bribe to win votes for Qatar for the event,” according to The Guardian report.

Nasser Al-Khulaifi, President of Paris Saint-Germain football club, has been under investigation for corruption since 2019 when it was announced that a former IAAF official had received two payments totaling the same amount that Sheikh Khalid al-Thani allegedly discussed with Diack.

In the alleged email obtained by The Guardian and Mediapart, Diack says, “You will find attached the bank details for the transfer of $4.5 million which must be done as agreed. The balance of 440,000 must remain in Doha in cash, I will pick it up the next time I come,” The Guardian reported.

Diack allegedly specified that the payment must be made “urgently today so that I can finalize things with the president,” The Guardian reported.

“The ‘president’ in question appears to be [Diack’s] father Lamine, who was at the time the IAAF president,” according to The Guardian.

Full report at:

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/gulf/2020/01/29/New-Qatari-prime-minister-alleged-involved-in-corruption-case.html

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Prominent Indonesian cleric Quraish Shihab gets Egyptian award

January 29, 2020

Prominent Indonesian cleric Quraish Shihab has been awarded a prestigious medal by the Egyptian government for his significant role in reforming Islamic thought.

The “medal of sciences and arts of the first class” was presented by Egyptian Prime Minister Musthafa Madbouli at the opening of a two-day international conference on the renewal of Islamic thought held by Al-Azhar in Cairo on Monday.

As the founder of the Center for Al-Qur'an Study (PSQ) in Indonesia, Quraish is known for his moderate and tolerant Islamic views in the country, which has the largest Muslim population in the world.

Having studied at Al-Azhar University in Cairo, Quraish is one of the few experts on Quranic exegesis in Indonesia. He has provided comprehensive Islamic understanding amid growing religious intolerance and extremism in the country, urging that no one should claim a monopoly on religious truth.

PSQ director Muchlis M. Hanafi said the award was a recognition of Islamic thinking and attitudes in Indonesia, not only from the Egyptian government but also from Al-Azhar University, Islam’s most prestigious university which has consistently developed moderate religious views for over a millennium.

“May the award motivate us to lead a moderate and tolerant Islam by innovating in Islamic thought based on the Quran and the sunnah [teachings of the Prophet Mohammad],” he said.

Full report at:

https://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2020/01/29/prominent-indonesian-cleric-quraish-shihab-gets-egyptian-award.html

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Bahrain supports all efforts for ‘just’ peace in Palestine: FM

29 January 2020

Bahrain supports all efforts to achieve a “just and comprehensive solution” for the Palestinian cause, said Bahrain’s Foreign Affairs Ministry in a statement commenting on the peace plan outlined by the administration of US President Donald Trump on Tuesday night.

On Wednesday, the ministry thanked the United States for its work on the plan and urged the Israeli and Palestinian sides to start direct negotiations under US sponsorship.

The comment came the day after President Trump outlined the “deal of the century” plan aimed at solving the Israel-Palestine conflict. The plan was accepted by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu but rejected by Palestinians.

Full report at:

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2020/01/29/Bahrain-supports-all-efforts-to-reach-just-and-comprehensive-solution-in-Palestine-FM.html

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Lebanese protesters fight to occupy downtown Beirut

29 January 2020

When mass anti-government protests took over downtown Beirut on October 17, many participants felt that they were reclaiming a space that had long been sterile and off-limits. Now, new concrete blast walls have reemerged to keep protesters out of previously reoccupied space.

“At the start, the whole downtown area, was not for the people,” said Roula Abdo, one of a group of artists with the organization Art of Change who have been filling the walls of downtown with murals since the first weeks of the protests. “Now it looks a lot more like the people – it’s more popular, it’s closer to the people in the streets. The people gained the place back.”

In the post-war years, the downtown core was reconstructed by Solidere, a company connected to former Prime Minister Rafic Hariri, but the upscale shops that populated the city core were out of reach for most Beirutis, and many of the high-rise condominiums remained empty.

But in recent days – after weeks in which protests took a more confrontational turn, with hundreds injured in clashes between demonstrators and security forces, and ahead of Monday’s Parliament session to vote on the controversial 2020 budget – officials erected a new set of walls in the heart of downtown.

The new concrete blast walls blocked Nijmeh Square, where Parliament is located, and the Grand Serail, the seat of the Prime Minister. Protesters and supporters saw the move as an attempt to suppress dissent while also curtailing the public space they had been working to reclaim.

Immediately, Abdo set to work, using the newly erected walls as a canvas. In less than two hours on Sunday, she painted a piece depicting a pair of hands peeling open one of the new walls. Photographs of the mural quickly went viral on social media.

“Down with the wall of shame,” wrote activist Assaad Thebian above a picture of Abdo’s mural on Twitter, a turn of phrase that was echoed by many others.

Abdo said she meant the mural to be a sign of hope and defiance.

“Some people were starting to lose hope, with all the blockages and with all the people trying to stop us and get us out of the street,” she said. “So, my reaction was, no, we still have hope and we are going to go in, and we are going to break these walls and open these doors, because the Parliament is ours. We actually elected those people to represent us, so they cannot just keep us out and kick us out of our own place.”

On Monday, she followed up with another mural, on another section of wall, showing an eye peering through a keyhole. The new piece, she said, was meant to convey that authorities “are actually imprisoned behind the walls that they’re putting [up].”

The erection of the walls marked a reversal of a move by outgoing Interior Minister Raya al-Hassan, who had launched an initiative last February shortly after she was appointed minister to remove concrete security blocks around her ministry and elsewhere in Beirut. Hassan, who was greeted with high hopes by many as the first female interior minister in the region, had been criticized in recent weeks for allowing security forces to use excessive force on protesters and journalists.

Mona Fawaz, a professor of urban studies and planning at the American University of Beirut, noted that the struggle over public space in downtown Beirut is the continuation of a long history.

“Beirut’s historic core has been the site of contestation since the beginning of the civil war,” she said. “From the heart of Beirut, its most bustling space, downtown became a no man’s land where only militias’ strongmen could tread.”

Since 2005, Fawaz noted, downtown has been periodically occupied by protesters, “at times for a collective identity, often for specific groups who reclaimed it as ‘theirs.’”

At the beginning of the current uprising, she said, “We witnessed a somewhat spontaneous re-appropriation of space in which activists reclaimed through their use of various areas of downtown the city’s core as a space of collective discussion, celebration, and political voice.”

Coming after that reclaiming of space, Fawaz said, “The walls today are poignant testimony of the violence of the ruling elite and the lack of democracy in Lebanon. They delineate a territory for the so-called public representatives, the space where they can avoid hearing or seeing the people they claim to represent.”

Abdo said she is not discouraged.

Full report at:

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/features/2020/01/29/Lebanese-protesters-fight-to-occupy-downtown-Beirut.html

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Syrian army soldiers liberate key town of Khan Tuman in Aleppo: Report

29 January 2020

Syrian army forces are in full control of a strategic town in the country’s northwestern province of Aleppo following an intense military operation against foreign-sponsored Takfiri militants.

Syria's Arabic-language al-Masdar news agency, citing an unnamed military official from Division 30 of the Republican Guard, reported that government troops liberated Khan Tuman on Wednesday afternoon after fierce skirmishes with members of the Hay'at Tahrir al-Sham, commonly referred to as Tahrir al-Sham, terrorist group.

The source added that that the development came after Syrian army troops had seized all hilltops east of the town earlier in the day.

The capture of Khan Tuman will enable the Syrian army to secure areas lying on the 450-kilometer-long M5 highway that crosses the country from north to south, from Aleppo to the border with Jordan.

Earlier in the day, Syria's General Command of the Army and Armed Forces said in a statement that government forces were in full control of Ma'arrat al-Nu'man city, which lies 33 kilometers (21 miles) south of Idlib.

“Our armed forces continued operations in southern parts of Idlib with the aim of putting an end to crimes committed by terrorist groups, which continue to target safe zones, civilians and army posts with rockets and explosives,” the statement added.

It further noted that Syrian soldiers have managed to establish control over more than two dozen villages and towns, including Ma'ar Shimmareen, Tell Mannas, Maar Shamshah, Ma'ar Shoreen, al-Za'lanah, Babeela, al-Dana, al-Hamidiah, Bseideh, Tqana and Kafr Basin, after days of intense fighting with Takfiri militants.

The statement also underlined that the Syrian army will continue to carry out its constitutional, national and moral duties to purge the last remnants of terror outfits from the entire Syrian soil.

On Saturday, Syria’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Expatriates wrote to the United Nations, stressing that the operation in Idlib and Aleppo against Takfiri elements "will not stop until the elimination of those terrorists, who threaten safety and security of Syrian civilians."

The Syrian army declared the start of an offensive against foreign-sponsored militants in Idlib on August 5 last year.

It came after those positioned in the de-escalation zone failed to honor a ceasefire brokered by Russia and Turkey and continued to target civilian neighborhoods.

Full report at:

https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2020/01/29/617395/Syrian-army-soldiers-liberate-key-town-in-Aleppo-after-years:-Report

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Syrian forces fully recapture main militant stronghold in southern Idlib

29 January 2020

Syrian army soldiers, backed by pro-government fighters from popular defense groups, have fully liberated a strategic city in the country’s northwestern province of Idlib as they continue to gain more ground in battles against foreign-sponsored Takfiri terrorists.

Syria's General Command of the Army and Armed Forces said in a statement that government forces were in full control of Ma'arrat al-Nu'man city, which lies 33 kilometers (21 miles) south of Idlib, on Wednesday.

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Army liberates M'aret al-Numan city, 28 other villages and towns in Idleb southern countryside, Army Command sayshttps://www.sana.sy/en/?p=183697

Army liberates Maarat al-Numan city, 28 other villages and towns in Idleb southern countryside,...

Damascus, SANA- The General Command of the Army and Armed Forces announced that the army units operating in Idleb countryside have liberated during the past few days the city of Maarat al-Numan and a...

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“Our armed forces continued operations in southern parts of Idlib with the aim of putting an end to crimes committed by terrorist groups, which continue to target safe zones, civilians and army posts with rockets and explosives,” the statement added.

It further noted that Syrian soldiers have managed to establish control over more than two dozen villages and towns, including Ma'ar Shimmareen, Tell Mannas, Ma’ar Shamshah, Ma'ar Shoreen, al-Za'lanah, Babeela, al-Dana, al-Hamidiah, Bseideh, Tqana and Kafr Basin, after days of intense fighting with Takfiri militants.

The statement also underlined that the Syrian army will continue to carry out its constitutional, national and moral duties to purge the last remnants of terror outfits from the entire Syrian soil.

The capture of Ma'arrat al-Nu'man will now enable the Syrian army to secure the road that links Hama to Aleppo, and will facilitate transportation between the capital Damascus and Aleppo to return to the pre-conflict conditions.

The so-called Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said Takfiri militants had withdrawn from the city late on Tuesday.

Syrian army troops had reportedly left a road west of Ma'arrat al-Nu'man open in order to give Takfiri militants a chance to pull out and to avoid street battles inside the strategic city.

The territorial gain came as Syrian forces are also advancing against militants west of the city of Aleppo.

Lebanon’s Arabic-language al-Manar television network reported that Syrian army soldiers had taken control of a number of neighborhoods southwest of Aleppo, killing and wounding scores of militants from Jabhat Fatah al-Sham –previously known as the Nusra Front – terror group in the process.

On Saturday, Syria’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Expatriates wrote to the United Nations, stressing that the operation in Idlib and Aleppo against Takfiri elements "will not stop until the elimination of those terrorists, who threaten safety and security of Syrian civilians."

The Syrian army declared the start of an offensive against foreign-sponsored militants in Idlib on August 5 last year.

It came after those positioned in the de-escalation zone failed to honor a ceasefire brokered by Russia and Turkey and continued to target civilian neighborhoods.

Full report at:

https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2020/01/29/617380/Syrian-forces-fully-recapture-main-militant-stronghold-in-southern-Idlib

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Access to most online Saudi government services restored for many people in debt

MOHAMMED AL-KINANI

January 30, 2020

JEDDAH: People in Saudi Arabia with legal judgments against them for failing to pay money they owe, or failing to carry out a judicial order, will no longer automatically be denied access to all online government services.

However, anyone who owes more than SR1 million and fails to pay it back within three months will be jailed.

Minister of Justice Walid Al-Samaani said the changes mean that the suspension of e-government access will be limited to services that involve financial transactions. Previously, it also prevented people in debt from using other online government services, such as renewing a driving license, passport, car license or ID card.

Yousef Al-Husaiky, a lawyer in Jeddah, said that he was surprised by the decision to lift the suspension of e-government services for those in debt, because before it was introduced, creditors often faced a long wait before getting their money back.

“It was a big problem for creditors until the service suspension came,” he said. “It forced debtors to implement court orders.

“That was a key factor in helping creditors get their money back. Suspending the electronic services of debtors who failed to fulfill their obligations was a good decision and has helped many people (reclaim what they were owed). That law does not exist in any other judiciary system.”

However, he added that the ministry would not have changed the law unless there was a good reason to do so.

“I think the main reason behind the decision was the fact that the ministry does not want the family of a debtor to suffer,” he said.

“There will always be reviews of laws to make sure that the public is receiving fair and equal treatment. What is happening in the Ministry of Justice is a true revolution that aims to meet the goals of the Saudi Vision 2030.”

However, some people fear that creditors will suffer as a result of the changes.

Full report at:

https://www.arabnews.com/node/1620201/saudi-arabia

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South Asia

 

Taliban kill 29 Afghan security personnel in renewed clashes

January 30, 2020

KABUL: At least 29 members of the Afghan security forces have been killed in Taliban attacks that followed air and ground assaults by government forces on the Islamist group at the weekend.

The surge in hostilities signals deadlock at stop-start peace talks involving US and Taliban negotiators in Doha.

The Defence Ministry said on Sunday government forces had killed 51 Taliban fighters in the weekend assaults.

But the Taliban hit back, carrying out attacks on security checkpoints in the northern province of Kunduz on Tuesday night in which a security official who declined to be identified said 15 members of the Afghan army were killed.

The Taliban also attacked a police station on Monday night in Pul-e-Khomri, capital of the neighbouring Baghlan province, killing 14 policemen, said Safdar Muhseni, head of the provincial council.

The multi-pronged assault took place in Khwaja Alwan district of Baghlan province early Tuesday, said the provincial police spokesman Ahmad Jawed Basharat.

“The Taliban attacked the police checkpoint from several directions. The fighting lasted several hours. Ten policemen were martyred. The Taliban also suffered casualties,” he said.

The Taliban also ambushed the police forces sent to reinforce the checkpoint, he added.

Taliban said it was responsible for both attacks.

The group’s spokesman, Zabihullah Mujahid, said 35 members of the Afghan security forces had been killed in the attack in Kunduz and 17 in Baghlan.

Sources close to the talks in Doha said the Taliban had agreed internally to halt attacks against US forces and “reduce” assaults against Afghan government interests, but clashes between the Taliban and Afghan forces have risen.

Afghan forces and the Taliban also clashed on Tuesday when security personnel tried to access the site of a crashed US military plane in central Afghanistan.

US forces were later able to access the site and recover the remains of two personnel and what is believed to be the flight data recorder.

https://www.dawn.com/news/1531330/taliban-kill-29-afghan-security-personnel-in-renewed-clashes

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Afghan forces freed 62 army prisoners, breaking a Taliban prison in Badghis

29 Jan 2020

Afghan Security Forces freed at least 62 armies from a Taliban custody in Bala Murghab district of Badghis province, MOD said in a statement.

A statement published by the Ministry of Defence said Afghan commandos in an operation broke a Taliban prison in Bala Murghab district of Badghis as a result of which they freed at least 62 prisoners who were members of Afghan Security Forces.

The statement further added that 55 National Army members, 4 commando soldiers, 2 border forces and 1 policeman were imprisoned by the Taliban in Badghis.

“5 Taliban militants were detained and many others were injured as a result of this operation”, the statement added.

According to the statement, Assadullah Khalid, the Acting Defense Minister has congratulated this achievement to the people of Afghanistan and to the National Security Forces.

Full report at:

https://www.khaama.com/afghan-forces-freed-62-army-prisoners-breaking-a-taliban-prison-in-badghis-76786895/

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Pakistan temporarily closed Torkham border

29 Jan 2020

Pakistan closed the Torkham border on Wednesday morning, an official said.

Attaullah Khogyani, a provincial spokesperson for the eastern Nangarhar province confirmed the border closure by the Pakistan army.

Earlier in the day, Pakistani Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Aisha Farooqui said the border gates had been closed for security reasons after two mortar shells fell near the crossing overnight.

The border remained closed for 10 hours before the Pakistan border police reopened it

Full report at:

https://www.khaama.com/pakistan-closes-torkham-border/

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Afghan Security forces suffer heavy casualties in Kunduz

29 Jan 2020

Taliban fighters killed at least 15 Afghan security forces in an attack on a base in northern Kunduz province on Tuesday night, according to security sources.

Reports say the attack took place at a joint security forces base in Dasht-e-Archi district on Tuesday night, which caused the death of 14 soldiers and a police officer, and at least another 15 wounded, including three local police members.

The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack, whereas Afghan security forces have not commented about the assault and how the attack took place.

“This assault follows the attack which took place in Baghlan province on Monday night, as a result of which some nine police officers were brutally killed in the hands of Taliban fighters”, said the security source.

Ironically enough, the Taliban fighters have increased their attacks, particularly in the north of the country on government forces over the last couple of days.

Afghan analysts, politicians and civic group condemns the latest attacks on Afghan security forces, and label Taliban militants as “hypocrites” who have never been faithful to their commitments.

Full report at:

https://www.khaama.com/afghan-security-forces-suffer-heavy-casualties-in-kunduz-79890890/

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Southeast Asia

 

Jais chief accused of hate speech over spread of Shia teachings

January 30, 2020

PETALING JAYA: A prominent Muslim critic of Islamic bureaucracy has strongly condemned remarks by a Selangor religious official suggesting that the spread of Shia teachings posed a security threat to Muslims.

Dr Ahmad Farouk Musa of the Islamic Renaissance Front (IRF) said that Mohammed Khusrin Munawi, chairman of the Selangor Islamic Religious Department (Jais) should be reminded that none of those who have been detained for terrorist activities in Malaysia were adherents of Shia Islam.

“In fact, all the jihadis that we’ve detained belong to one specific branch of Islam. What the Shias wanted were just space for them to practise what they believe,” said Farouk, a staunch critic of Wahhabism, which is said to be the teaching which inspired groups such as Al Qaeda and IS.

Shia Islam, the second largest branch of Islam, is predominantly followed in Iraq, Iran, Kuwait, Bahrain, Lebanon and several parts of Saudi Arabia, Yemen and Pakistan.

Islamic authorities in Malaysia have over the years enforced a fatwa declaring Shia teachings as “deviant”, with raiding parties targetting local Shias during their private religious gatherings.

Khusrin recently said the number of Shia Muslim centres in Selangor has been on the rise and “certain quarters” have been actively promoting Shia Islam, adding that authorities also found it difficult to curb its teachings on the internet.

He said Islamic agencies in the state would continue to warn Muslims against the “dangers” of Shia teachings.

However Farouk said Khusrin’s stand only showed that Jais was promoting “an intolerant religion in this modern age”.

“Whereas Islam flourished in the West and secular democratic countries simply because the preservation of the religious rights of the minorities were observed. But sadly, for Jais, only their brand of Islam is allowed to be practised,” Farouk told FMT.

He challenged the notion that allowing different schools of thoughts among Malaysian Muslims would be a threat, saying this was not the case in other parts of the Muslim world.

“Why is that all the different denominations in Islam can live harmoniously in Oman, where the official mazhab is Ibadi,” he asked, referring to the predominant school of thought in parts of North Africa.

“Sunnis, Shias and Ibadis observe their prayer side by side in Oman,” said Farouk.

“Obviously there is a lot to be learned from Oman or the West on this issue of religious tolerance.”

Farouk said statements such as Khusrin’s were tantamount to hate speech, and could be stopped if the Pakatan Harapan government recognises the United Nations’ International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR).

“We need a new foreign minister who understands ICCPR,” he added.

“As long as this UN Convention is not ratified, people like Khusrin will roam around freely spewing hatred on other religious minorities and act tyrannically exerting their religious iron fist.

“There must be a stop to this nonsense. The government of the day must be strong enough to prove their commitment to bring about change and to show the world our commitment to human rights,” said Farouk.

https://www.freemalaysiatoday.com/category/nation/2020/01/30/jais-chief-accused-of-hate-speech-over-spread-of-shia-teachings/

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Deal with Kelantan on child marriage, SIS urges Putrajaya

January 29, 2020

PETALING JAYA: Women’s rights group Sisters in Islam (SIS) today urged the federal government to engage with the Kelantan state government in raising the legal age for marriage to 18.

The group said the National Strategic Plan for Addressing the Causes of Underage Marriage by the women, family and community development ministry had set out a five-year plan to ensure that state-level laws, rules and guidelines are in line with federal policies.

This plan had stated that obstacles in raising the minimum age of marriage will be addressed in all the states.

Sisters In Islam made its comment after a deputy minister had said that the federal government would not intervene in Kelantan’s decision not to raise the marriage age.

The group said: “Moving forward, the ministry must work out how it will engage Kelantan and all other states in this matter.”

SIS added that the minister and deputy minister of religious affairs in the Prime Minister’s Department must support the women’s ministry in their efforts to end child marriage.

“The practice of child marriage in Malaysia is untenable, violates the rights of children and robs them of the opportunity for a better life in the future.”

Earlier today, deputy minister in the Prime Minister’s Department, Fuziah Salleh, said the women’s ministry had decided it would not intervene in the Kelantan government’s decision.

Full report at:

https://www.freemalaysiatoday.com/category/nation/2020/01/29/deal-with-kelantan-on-child-marriage-sis-urges-putrajaya/

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Chinese Uighur Muslim who fled to NZ left jobless while awaiting residence

January 30, 2020

A Muslim Uighur says immigration processes in New Zealand mean the nightmare for him is still continuing after being accepted as a refugee.

The man - who fears his family have been taken to Chinese re-education camps - is waiting for residence, but says that has left him unable to find a job despite his qualifications and experience.

He's applied for jobs in management, finance, and sales and marketing - but he's been turned down by employers who want someone with more than a temporary visa.

An immigration lawyer said delays were retraumatising refugees and asylum seekers and leaving them in limbo.

Adbu - not his real name - said he lost contact with his family in China and then received a concerning video call from his mother.

He could see she was not calling from home and appeared tearful, he said.

"I can feel that face and the sad eyes and it's just like not normal things for me," he said. "She just said, 'We're fine. Just don't contact with me.' This is the last word I heard about from my mum."

Adbu found he was deleted from accounts and apps where he used to contact friends and family.

"It's like you lost everything and you have nothing in the world," he said.

Reports from 2018 suggest between 800,000 and two million Uighur Muslims have been sent to internment camps.

The Chinese government initially denied their existence and later defended them as ways of combating terrorism and providing vocational training.

Adbu said he had been interrogated on returning to China from work overseas, whereas Han Chinese colleagues were not.

"Every time I returned to China, I was detained in the airport by that airport authority and the police because I'm just Uighur and Uighurs are not allowed to be go abroad nowadays.

"So, they just detained me in the police office for five or more than five hours.

"Last time I experienced that, they just laid me naked in the police office and searched me, everything, and it's a really bad experience for me."

The 34-year-old, who was studying in New Zealand when he applied for asylum, waited seven months for his refugee application to be approved - in which time his student visa expired and he became an overstayer.

He is now worried about his wait for residence - as employers want someone with more than the short-term work visa he holds.

"It's really stressful because I already graduated and I applied for a lot of jobs, and most of them they required like your visa should be valid more than one year," he said. "I think, as an employer, it's reasonable because they also train you."

A spokesperson for Immigration New Zealand said there had been no processing delay of any significance in his case as he applied for residence in November and he holds an open work visa valid until October, issued within six weeks of him applying.

An immigration lawyer, Simon Laurent, said there were long delays for people who had been recognised as refugees who are awaiting residence.

"If they have been recognised [as refugees] that is furthermore recognition that these people have suffered," he said. "For them to be held on tenterhooks waiting for residence to be granted is re-traumatising them in my opinion."

Full report at:

https://www.newshub.co.nz/home/new-zealand/2020/01/chinese-uighur-muslim-who-fled-to-nz-left-jobless-while-awaiting-residence.html

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Can Dr Mahathir rebuild our national schools?

Dennis Ignatius

January 29, 2020

The Pongal issue left many Malaysians shaking their heads in disbelief. What has become of our education ministry (MoE) that it would see fit to send out a circular warning Muslims not to get involved in Pongal, the annual harvest festival celebrated by Malaysians of Indian origin?

The MoE circular alluded to guidance from Jakim, the all-powerful Islamic agency that now exerts extraordinary influence on all aspects of national life. Mujahid Yusof Rawa, the minister in charge of Islamic affairs, insists that Jakim was only “giving its opinion of the etiquette that needs to be followed by Muslims when attending the celebrations of other faiths.”

It is, of course, a disingenuous argument given that Jakim is considered the ultimate authority on all things Islamic; its “opinions” have almost fatwa-like authority. Cut through the jargon and the message is clear enough.

The controversy over the Pongal issue is, of course, part of the wider debate going on in our society about the kind of education system that is best suited for the nation. It is a battle that pits Islamists against secularists, moderate Muslims against Wahhabi fundamentalists, and Malays against non-Malays.

Managing these different, often competing, expectations is one of the biggest challenges the nation currently faces.

After decades of Wahhabi infiltration, MoE itself has been gradually transformed into a frontline agency for the promotion of Islam, Islamic culture and Islamic values. Federal, state and local educationists have taken it upon themselves, with or without central direction, to promote Islam at all levels of the education system.

With many officials, professors, headmasters and teachers convinced that they have a religious obligation to do everything in their power to promote and deepen the faith, religious propagation (or indoctrination, depending on how one views these things) has become both intensive and pervasive. Some would argue that it has taken on a life of its own and is now an irreversible process.

To compound matters, many Malay parents seem to want a school system that prioritises religious education. Any talk about reducing the number of hours devoted to religious education is, therefore, anathema to them.

A principal at a leading private international school in the country related that the first question many Muslim parents ask him when enquiring about enrolment is how many hours of Islamic education their kids will receive at the school.

Given this mindset, some argue that if our national schools become less religious, many Malay parents might simply opt to send their kids to private religious schools which are proliferating throughout the country.

Even at the preschool level, religious schools are attracting huge numbers of students. PAS Pusat Asuhan Tunas Islam (Pasti), for example, has an enrolment of more than 100,000 with schools in almost every district in the country.

To put it starkly then, education, at least as far as Malay students are concerned, is already irrevocably Islamic in its orientation and well beyond the reach of reformist politicians and educationists. Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad may lament the religious bent of our education system but there’s little he can now do to change things. The policies that both he (and Anwar Ibrahim) introduced in the 1990s to outmanoeuvre PAS by championing Islam have now come home to roost.

Non-Malay (particularly Chinese) expectations, on the other hand, are just the opposite. They want a completely secular school environment which focuses on scholastic achievement. Vernacular education, seen as an important bulwark against attempts to dilute Chinese language and culture, is also important to them.

More than anything else, however, they view the creeping Islamisation of our schools with great angst.

Many non-Malay parents genuinely feel that their children are no longer safe from Islamic proselytisation in national schools. While Islamic agencies might see this as a natural part of their mandate, for non-Malay parents it is their worst nightmare.

As our national schools become more and more religiously orientated, the exodus of non-Malays from national schools has gathered pace. The fact that Malaysia has, on a per capita basis, the highest number of private schools in Asia is a clear indication of the loss of confidence in the national school system.

Even enrolment in vernacular schools which was until recently declining has been given a new lease of life as parents flee the national school system in search of better education and a safer environment for their kids. Interestingly, about a fifth of the 520,000 students now enrolled in Chinese-medium schools (SJKC) are mostly Malay.

In the meantime, under assault from right-wing Malay groups and suspicious of attempts to undermine vernacular schools, Chinese educationists are digging in.

In a recent media interview, one Chinese educationist even insisted that schools should focus exclusively on education and not touch on issues like promoting national unity.

Such is the level of paranoia and distrust among Chinese educationists that they fear that under the rubric of promoting national unity, teaching Jawi or implementing the vision school concept, overzealous officials might seek to dilute the unique character of Chinese schools.

Their concerns are easy to understand given the way right-wing Malay groups use these issues as cudgels to harass and intimidate Chinese schools and demand their closure.

What all this means is that we now have, in effect, two separate education systems – an increasingly Islamic one for Malays and a fiercely secular one for non-Malays. As a consequence, education has lost its efficacy in promoting national unity and shaping a sense of shared identity. And, as education goes, so goes the nation.

If this trend continues, we could end up with two distinct and mutually exclusive ethnoreligious groups coexisting uneasily within the confines of a common geography, each with their own distinct religious orientations, culture, and social values and norms. Indeed, some would argue we are already there.

Where do we go from here?

Mahathir has long complained that our national schools have become more and more like religious schools and says he wants to limit religious education and give more emphasis to the teaching of English, science, technology, engineering and mathematics. He also says he wants to make our national schools attractive to all races.

If he is able to build a school system that emphasises high scholastic achievement and nurtures respect and tolerance for diversity – the way our schools used to be before politics and religion messed it up – many will flock back to our national schools.

Full report at:

https://www.freemalaysiatoday.com/category/opinion/2020/01/29/the-islamisation-of-our-schools-and-the-end-of-national-unity/

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DAP leader says party ready to quit Malaysian govt for failing to recognise education certificate

Reme Ahmad

JAN 29, 2020

KUALA LUMPUR - A leader of Malaysia's Democratic Action Party (DAP) said the party is ready to quit the country's ruling coalition, which has been in power for 20 months, for its failure to recognise the Unified Examination Certificate (UEC) for Chinese schools.

The threat comes at a bad time for the four-party Pakatan Harapan (PH) government which is already weakened by infighting, plunging voter support and renewed optimism in the opposition camp led by Umno and Parti Islam SeMalaysia (PAS) after winning five by-elections.

The Chinese-based DAP has 42 MPs, or 30 per cent of PH's 139 lawmakers in the Malaysian Parliament. Only Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim's Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) has more MPs, 50, in the Lower House.

DAP deputy secretary-general Nga Kor Ming told Chinese paper Oriental Daily: "We reached a consensus that DAP will withdraw from the government if UEC is not recognised.

"It doesn't matter if we are no longer part of the ruling government. This is the principle we will uphold."

Part of the interview with Mr Nga was uploaded on the paper's website on Wednesday (Jan 29).

Nr Nga later told Free Malaysian Today (FMT) online news that his remarks were taken out of context in an hour-long interview with the Chinese-language newspaper about parliamentary reforms. He also tweeted his response to the news site.

“Obviously it has been taken out of context and the heading is inaccurate,” he told FMT, when asked to comment on a report about his remarks in Malaysiakini news site. He was referring to Malaysiakini's headline 'Nga: DAP will not hesitate to leave gov't if UEC not recognised'

The UEC is equivalent to an A-level certificate for Malaysia's 300-plus independent Chinese secondary schools. Its official recognition would allow certificate holders to apply for entry into all local colleges and use it when applying for local jobs.

Recognising the UEC is one of the election promises made by PH.

Malaysia's Education Ministry set up a task force to look into the issue of recognising the UEC in October 2018, five months after winning the general election.

But the Mahathir Mohamad administration, just like the previous Umno-led Barisan Nasional (BN) government which ruled the country for 61 years, is believed to be dragging its feet because most Malay voters are dead set against the UEC's recognition. Malays would like to see all post-secondary students taking up the national A-level equivalent exams, STPM.

A report in The Star newspaper in July last year said the UEC exams were into its 45th year then after being introduced in 1975, with nearly 646,000 certificate holders in total.

The report said the UEC is recognised by higher learning institutions in places such as Singapore, Britain, the United States, Australia, China, Taiwan and Japan. Many UEC holders must now study abroad to get degrees, a big financial burden for poor Chinese families.

Recognition of the certificate by the government was central to the DAP's campaign platform to claim Malaysian Chinese are marginalised when it was in the opposition. The party often railed against the Malaysian Chinese Association, a component party of the then ruling BN, for failing to get the government to recognise the certificate.

Today, the DAP is facing the same pressure from the Chinese community, which comprises 21 per cent of Malaysia's 32 million population.

Mr Nga in the interview acknowledged that his party has been criticised for not being vocal in raising issues, as it was an opposition party.

His response: "DAP is not silent after becoming part of the government. We are braver to speak out, now that we have the government channel and this can be seen in the Cabinet meetings."

Raising the UEC issue with a threat to quit the PH government won't win Mr Nga or the DAP any brownie points within the coalition.

PH is today wrestling with several major issues.

There is a push by Mr Anwar's PKR faction to force Prime Minister Mahathir to retire by May this year, the two-year anniversary when PH came to power.

PKR itself is bitterly split between a faction led by its president Anwar and deputy president Azmin Ali, with the Azmin group keen to see Tun Dr Mahathir continuing until the next election which is due in 2023.

Full report at:

https://www.straitstimes.com/asia/se-asia/dap-leader-says-party-ready-to-quit-malaysian-govt-for-failing-to-recognise-education

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Videos surface purportedly showing vandalization of N. Sulawesi 'mosque'

January 30, 2020 

Amateur videos purportedly showing a group of people vandalizing what appears to be a mosque over an alleged permit issue in the predominantly Christian Agape housing complex in Tumaluntung village, North Minahasa regency, North Sulawesi, on Wednesday evening have emerged on social media.

The incident is believed to have taken place on Wednesday night.

In one of the videos uploaded by Twitter user @MohCipto1 a group of individuals can be seen taking apart furniture and fixtures while wearing shoes and sandals inside the building. They appear to be followed by onlookers who record the incident on their smartphones.

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Separate footage recorded from a different angle purportedly shows a group of men causing a ruckus while taking apart metal fences surrounding the building’s courtyard and damaging some of its walls, which appear to be made of plywood.

The footage also briefly shows a banner put up in front of the building, which reads, “We residents of Tumaluntung village oppose the construction of this mushola/mosque in our area because 95 percent of the residents around the mosque are non-Muslims; we don’t want loudspeakers to disrupt our everyday lives; and we don’t want to be charged with blasphemy for complaining about the noise.”

Another video uploaded by @MT_Reborn purportedly shows North Minahasa Police chief Adj. Sr. Comr. Grace Krisna D. Rahakbau alongside men in Muslim attire addressing the crowd in front of the mosque. She urges the crowd to calm down as local authorities had secured the scene and promises to swiftly bring those involved in the alleged vandalism to justice.

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4. Para pelaku pengrusakan akan dilakukan penegakan Hukum.

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The news has garnered strong reactions from Muslims on social media, with some calling the act “barbaric” and “uncivilized”.

Yusra Alhabsyi, the head of Nadhlatul Ulama’s (NU) youth wing GP Ansor in North Sulawesi and member of the province’s legislative council, told local news portal beritamanado.com that he condemned the act of destruction.

“Apprehend [the perpetrators] in 24 hours at the latest,” Yusra said, while urging the North Minahasa Police to begin a mediation process among local religious figures to defuse tensions.

“Let’s maintain peaceful diversity in North Sulawesi – don’t let the actions of a few people ruin our harmony.”

The building, identified on Google as Al-Hidayah Mosque, has been the subject of controversy among local residents in recent years.

A viral video uploaded last year shows a local village figure sealing the building as she claims it lacks an official permit as a place of worship. A local resident in charge of construction of the building, however, claimed that the building was actually a "public meeting hall" for Muslims, according to beritamanado.com.

Building permits for houses of worship remain a contentious issue, with churches across the country being sealed off after failing to obtain permits, even despite years of compromise.

The regent of Bantul in Yogyakarta, Central Jakarta, refused to reconsider his decision to revoke a building permit for the Indonesian Pentecostal Church in Sedayu district in July last year.

Full report at:

https://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2020/01/30/videos-surface-purportedly-showing-vandalization-of-n-sulawesi-mosque.html

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Can't have 'twin suns' in one sky: Ma'ruf takes backseat to avoid outshining Jokowi

January 30, 2020 

If it appears as if Vice President Ma'ruf Amin has not made much of a splash in his first 100 days in office, it is by design, the senior Muslim cleric said.

"I’m the vice president. The President should be the one who stands out. If the vice president stands out, there will be 'twin suns'," Ma'ruf told reporters at the Vice Presidential Palace in Central Jakarta on Wednesday.

He said that despite not being in the spotlight, he carried out his duties as vice president well, for example by representing the President in certain events and by voicing his opinions during Cabinet meetings.

"I also handle various issues that have been assigned [to me] by the President, but in a coordinating role," he said, adding that ministers had operational roles.

He said that he had held coordination meetings on small and medium enterprises, radicalism and poverty, for example.

"That's what my duties are like as vice president," he said.

Ma'ruf has been a peripheral figure in the first few months of the administration, drawing unfavorable comparisons to former vice president Jusuf Kalla, a more experienced politician who was active in policy-making.

Full report at:

https://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2020/01/30/cant-have-twin-suns-in-one-sky-maruf-takes-backseat-to-avoid-outshining-jokowi.html

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Mideast

 

Israeli Cabinet postpones vote on West Bank annexation

29 January 2020

A senior Israeli minister said on Wednesday that a Cabinet vote to endorse annexation of parts of the West Bank will not take place early next week, despite Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s pledge a day earlier to act quickly after the US released a plan to end the conflict that was rejected by the Palestinians.

Netanyahu said he would ask the Cabinet to advance the extension of Israeli sovereignty over most Jewish settlements and the strategic Jordan Valley, a move that would likely spark international outrage and complicate the White House's efforts to build support for the plan.

Tourism Minister Yariv Levin told Israel Radio that a Cabinet vote on annexing territories on Sunday was not technically feasible because of various preparations, including “bringing the proposal before the attorney general and letting him consider the matter.”

Levin, a senior member of Netanyahu's Likud party, said the Palestinian state envisioned by the Trump plan is “roughly the same Palestinian Authority that exists today, with authority to manage civil affairs,” but lacking “substantive powers” like border control or a military.

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2020/01/29/Israeli-Cabinet-postpones-vote-on-West-Bank-annexation.html

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Israeli forces detain Al Arabiya crew members in Jordan Valley

29 January 2020

Israeli forces detained Al Arabiya crew members during a press assignment in the Jordan Valley.

The Israeli forces detained Al Arabiya and Al Hadath’s crew for several hours as they said the journalists were shooting footage in a prohibited place.

The Al Arabiya and Al Hadath crew were covering the latest protests by farmers in the Jordan Valley in the occupied West Bank.

Full report at:

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2020/01/29/Israeli-forces-detain-Al-Arabiya-crew-members-in-Jordan-Valley.html

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Palestinians clash with Israeli forces over Trump plan

29 January 2020

Palestinians clashed with Israeli army in Bethlehem on Wednesday over US President Donald Trump's plan.

Trump's proposal to create a Palestinian state as part of a Middle East peace plan drew Palestinian condemnation for imposing strict conditions.

https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2020/01/29/617385/Israel-Palestine-US-Trump-peace-plan

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Israel army boosting presence in West Bank, near Gaza

January 29, 2020

JERUSALEM: Israel’s army said Wednesday it was deploying reinforcements in the West Bank and near the Gaza border, amid Palestinian anger over US President Donald Trump’s peace plan.

“Following the ongoing situation assessment, it has been decided to reinforce the Judea and Samaria and Gaza Divisions with additional combat troops,” the army said, using the biblical terms for the West Bank.

https://www.arabnews.com/node/1620041/middle-east

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Yemen’s Houthis say have targeted Saudi Aramco facilities in Jizan

29 January 2020

Yemen’s Iran-backed Houthi militia has targeted facilities belonging to Saudi Aramco in Jizan on the Red Sea, its military spokesman said on Wednesday in comments reported by the group’s Al Masirah TV.

The military spokesman also said the group had targeted the Abha and Jizan airports, Khamis Mushait military base and other sensitive targets in Saudi Arabia “with a large number of rockets and drones.”

No official confirmation was given by Saudi Arabian authorities on the attacks which reportedly took place last week while Aramco has so far declined to comment. The Wall Street Journal cited Saudi Arabian officials as saying that “all strikes on Saudi Arabia last week were foiled.”

Full report at:

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/gulf/2020/01/29/Yemen-s-Houthis-say-have-targeted-Saudi-Aramco-facilities-in-Jizan.html

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Iran's Rouhani calls Trump's plan 'most despicable plan of century'

29 January 2020

Iran's President Hassan Rouhani has condemned US President Donald Trump's so-called 'peace plan' for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as 'the most despicable plan of the century.'

"Enough of these foolish attempts," Rouhani wrote on his Twitter account on Wednesday.

"The Most Despicable Plan of the Century," he added.

Hassan Rouhani

@HassanRouhani

Enough of these foolish attempts. The Most Despicable Plan of the Century.#DespicablePlan

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Meanwhile, Iran's Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani also referred to Trump's self-proclaimed "deal of the century" as a dangerous plan for the West Asia region which, describing it as a ploy devised to make up for the failures of the United States and the Israeli regime.

"We have to try to make all Muslim countries united against this illegal and inhuman agreement," Larijani said while speaking in a phone conversation with Syrian Parliament Speaker Hammouda Sabbagh on Wednesday.

"In fact, this deal and treasonous conspiracy is designed to fulfill the wishes of the Israeli regime in the region," Larijani noted, adding that despite the claims of the US officials, the plan has nothing to do with the interests of the Palestinian people.  

Defying the international outcry, Trump announced the general provisions of the plan at the White House on Tuesday with the Israeli premier at his side.

During the Tuesday joint presser with Netanyahu, the US president once again endorsed his contentious recognition in December 2017 of Jerusalem al-Quds as Israel’s “capital,” a move he took in the face of Palestinian demands that the holy city should serve as the capital of their future state. He said the plan envisages the city as the Israeli regime’s “undivided capital.”

Full report at:

https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2020/01/29/617415/Iran-Rouhani-deal-of-the-century-Donald-Trump-Palestine-Israel

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A big No to Trump's biased deal: Outrage flares in Palestine, elsewhere

29 January 2020

Protesters across Palestinian territories and in several other countries have sit the streets to vent their anger at US President Donald Trump’s recently-unveiled Middle East scheme that allows the Israeli regime to consolidate its occupation of Palestinian land.

Hours after the plan was unveiled on Tuesday, Jordanians gathered outside the US Embassy in Amman to protest against the controversial deal dubbed the ‘Vision for Peace.’

Shouting “No to normalization” and “We will not recognize Israel,” the demonstrators held up banners reading, “We will drop all your deals and step on them,” “Palestine is not for sale,” “America is the head of terrorism,” “Your deal shall not pass” and “Down with the deal of the century and its godfathers.”

According to the Jordan News Agency (Petra), the protesters said they will never give up Palestine and Jerusalem al-Quds, and that the so-called peace plan will definitely fail.

They also slammed Trump for attempting to further tamper with the security and stability of the region, underlining the need for the world to stand up to the “unjust” deal.

The participants further urged Arab countries not to consider the US proposal because it would end in the demise of Arabs and fuel regional tensions.

Palestinians, they added, should unite, overcome their differences, prioritize the Palestinian cause and reconcile in light of “the difficult circumstances the cause is going through.”

Similarly in Turkey, people held protests against the US initiative outside the American diplomatic missions in both Ankara and Istanbul.

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Videos posted on social media showed demonstrators chanting slogans and waving Palestinian and Turkish flags while marching towards the US embassy in the Turkish capital.

The rally drew in a huge crowd, with many participants holding their lit up smartphones in the air.

In Istanbul, hundreds turned out to voice support for the Palestinians.

Inside the Palestinian territories, people took to the streets to denounce the deal, which strongly favors Israel.

Israeli forces clashed with protesters in East Jerusalem al-Quds and the entrance to the West bank city of al-Bireh as well as in the cities of al-Khalil (Hebron) and Bethlehem, using tear gas against the crowds.

Jordan TV-التلفزيون الأردني

@JrtvMedia

مواجهات بين الشبان وقوات الاحتلال على المدخل الشمالي لمدينة #بيت_لحم#الأردني_أخبار #صفقة_القرن #فلسطين

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Reports said a total of 22 Palestinians were wounded during the clashes.

The Gaza Strip also witnessed a similar demonstration against the US deal, which denies the right of return of Palestinian refugees to their homeland.

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#صور جانب من مسيرات إحتجاجية خرجت مساء أمس في مخيم النصيرات وسط قطاع غزة بعد اعلان ترمب صفقة القرن

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The deal also allows Israel to annex the Jordan Valley and nearly all of its settlements in the occupied territories.

The plan further places Jerusalem al-Quds under complete Israeli control, offering the Palestinians a capital only on the eastern outskirts of the occupied city.

Full report at:

https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2020/01/29/617364/Palestine-Israel-Jordan-Turkey

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Thousands join Gaza protests against peace plan

January 30, 2020

GAZA CITY: Thousands of Palestinians have taken to the streets of Gaza to protest against US President Donald Trump’s newly unveiled peace plan for the Middle East.

Youths set fire to tires and burned pictures of Trump and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during demonstrations on Tuesday and Wednesday.

Social media was also awash with angry backlashes to the deal which many posters claimed would only exert further pressure on the Palestinian people.

As part of the long-awaited plan, Trump has proposed a Palestinian state double the size of existing Palestinian territories, with East Jerusalem as its capital and a US Embassy there.

But Hamas official Raafat Morra said: “National unity and Palestinian popular steadfastness at home and abroad, adhering to the resistance project by all means, and cooperating with the living forces in the nation, are the best ways to confront the new American-Israeli plan.”

Reiterating Hamas’ comprehensive rejection of the plan, he added that it would lead to the “liquidation of the Palestinian cause, the confirmation of the Israeli occupation, and the cancelation of all Palestinian rights.”

Secretary-general of the Islamic Jihad, Ziyad Al-Nakhalah, said on Wednesday that the US president’s “deal of the century” threw up great challenges.

“This plan poses a major challenge that requires us to change our approach to dealing with everything. This challenge must make us leave the norm and push us to create new facts with our sacrifices and to have the willingness and motivation to confront and address this bullying without hesitation,” he added.

Shops closed and students stayed away from schools on Wednesday in Gaza after Palestinian factions called for a general strike.

Sama Ayoub, 45, said: “My children did not go to school today. We reject the deal of the century, which I believe to be the slap of the century. As (Palestinian) President Abu Mazen (Mahmoud Abbas) said, there will be no peace without obtaining the minimum of our rights.

“What do they want us to accept — that we give up Jerusalem and Al-Aqsa and all our rights, that our lands be confiscated without being refused, that we accept it for money?” she added.

But Raed Dabban, 35, said: “There are exciting aspects of the deal. Our current situation in Palestine is bad, especially in the Gaza Strip.

“Palestinian leaders must search for solutions to reality in the Gaza Strip in particular and strengthen the resilience of the Palestinians in the West Bank and Jerusalem, so that everyone can reject with all power the concessions that compromise our rights.

“We are on the threshold of a critical stage in our political life and our future, and our living conditions are bad. People cannot stand up without the ingredients for resilience. This is the role of leaders,” he added.

Full report at:

https://www.arabnews.com/node/1620181/middle-east

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Mandela rights group slams Palestine plan

January 30, 2020

LONDON: The Elders, an international human rights NGO founded by the late Nelson Mandela, has slammed US President Donald Trump’s “peace plan” to end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

The plan “cannot provide a workable solution” to the conflict, said the NGO, which is led by former Irish President Mary Robinson.

The Elders added that implementing the plan “would make the two-state solution impossible, entrenching deep inequality along ethnic lines and moving the decades-old conflict into a new phase.”

In a statement, the group — previously chaired by former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan and Archbishop Desmond Tutu — urged the international community to “emphasize — urgently — that the acquisition of territory through force is illegal, and would result in countermeasures beyond rhetorical condemnation.”

The Elders said: “The proposed annexation of further occupied Palestinian territory in the West Bank … creates a dangerous precedent for the acquisition of territory by force, with implications well beyond the region.”

It added: “The unilateral effort to redefine the status of Jerusalem in favor of one side is provocative and dangerous. Moreover, the absence of any credible plan for Gaza means a major element of the conflict is simply unaddressed.”

Ban Ki-moon, deputy chair of The Elders and former UN secretary-general, said: “The best, most logical and just solution is to provide two states for the two peoples, based on the internationally recognized 1967 borders.”

He added: “Unilateral declarations that exclude and humiliate one party to the conflict are counter-productive.”

Another Elder, Lakhdar Brahimi — former UN and Arab League special envoy to Syria, former Algerian foreign minister and a veteran of his country’s liberation struggle — said: “This is a conflict rooted in injustice, dispossession and disdain for rights and law. Abandoning negotiations and imposing annexation will only entrench these problems. The international community knows this is a unilateral act of folly.”

Trump’s plan has faced heavy international scrutiny, with no Palestinian leaders supporting it.

Full report at:

https://www.arabnews.com/node/1620166/middle-east

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Thousands flee as fighting rages between Yemen government and Houthis

January 30, 2020

AL-MUKALLA: Thousands of Yemenis in Marib province and Nehim district, near Sanaa, have been displaced as fighting rages between government forces and the Iran-backed Houthis, a local human rights organization and aid workers said on Wednesday.

As many as 1,484 families have fled their homes in Majazer district in northern Marib, and 1,870 families have deserted Al-Khaneq camp in Nehim, according to Yemen’s National Organization for Defending Rights and Freedoms (HOOD).

The displacement began on Jan. 19; all those who fled headed to the city of Marib, and only 60 families managed to find shelter, the organization said in a statement seen by Arab News.

HOOD urged local and international organizations, and authorities in Marib and Sanaa, to provide the displaced with food, shelter, drinking water and medication.

Aid workers who visited displaced people in Marib said they are enduring miserable conditions and are sleeping out in the open amid a harsh winter.

Locals said people carrying belongings in pickup trucks and on foot are still heading to the city.

Abdul Khaliq bin Mousalem, director of Eitilaf Al-Khair’s office in Marib, said the aid organization has set up 50 camps and provided blankets to the displaced. It will set up 250 camps when local authorities allocate the necessary land, he added.

Eitilaf Al-Khair is an umbrella group of local charities that provides aid on behalf of the King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Center (KSRelief).

“People are in desperate need of humanitarian aid. The priority should be building shelters,” Bin Mousalem told Arab News, adding that Al-Khaneq camp was deserted after it was shelled.

“People escaped to Marib with clothes and valuables, leaving behind less important things. The number of displaced people is big, and all aid organizations should quickly support them.”

Due to its stability and location, the city of Marib has been hosting tens of thousands of displaced people since late 2014, when the Houthi militia seized Sanaa.

The displacement from Nehim and Marib province comes as government forces press their offensive, under air cover from Saudi-led coalition warplanes, in an attempt to recapture territories seized by the Houthis in recent days.

Yemen’s Defense Ministry said the army traded mortar fire with the Houthis, and coalition warplanes pounded their locations in the mountainous Nehim district.

Defense Minister Mohammed Al-Maqdadhi and Abdul Hamid Al-Muzayni, commander of the Saudi-led coalition in Marib, visited the frontlines in Nehim, the ministry’s official news site reported.

They met the newly appointed commander of the 7th Military Region, Ahmad Hassan Jebran, and soldiers.

Al-Maqdadhi said the army’s military operations in Nehim and elsewhere will continue until the Houthis are defeated.

Full report at:

https://www.arabnews.com/node/1620161/middle-east

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North America

 

Trump’s pro-Israel Mideast deal sparks shock and ire

29 January 2020

After months of running a vast propaganda machine to drum up support for his self-proclaimed 'Deal of the Century,' US President Donald Trump has finally unveiled what he believes can serve as a final antidote to the bitter and brutal Israeli-Palestinian conflict that has dragged on for seven decades.

Within just hours since its launch, Trump’s proposed deal has aroused a storm of indignation and opposition among Middle East people and politicians as well as international organizations, earning descriptions such as 'the treason of the century, nightmare, conspiracy, catastrophe, new Balfour Declaration, an annexation plan, a stillborn agreement, a handbook for more suffering, and a deal for the garbage can of history' among others.

Contrary to Trump’s claim who sought to sell his proposal as a win-win opportunity for both sides, political leaders and activists view it as being hugely skewed in favor of Israel and totally ignoring the rights and demands of up to 15 million Palestinians around the world, leaving them out of a process that is expected to decide their fate and their future.

Opponents argue that the highly pro-Israel scheme offers no prescription for peace because it blatantly violates international law and strips Palestinians of their basic rights on a number of sensitive issues, including the state of Jerusalem al-Quds, the future borders of a sovereign Palestinian state, the return of Palestinian refugees driven from their homeland, security responsibility, as well as Israeli settlements built on occupied land.

Trump released his proposed deal during an event at the White House alongside Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Washington on Tuesday.

The so-called 'Vision for Peace' — which all Palestinian groups have unanimously rejected — would, among other contentious terms, enshrine Jerusalem al-Quds as “Israel’s undivided capital” and allow the regime to annex settlements in the occupied West Bank and the Jordan Valley.

Iran’s Leader: Trump’s satanic deal won’t materialize

The Twitter account of the Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei posted his remarks made in July 2018 in connection with Trump’s scheme.

Speaking at that time, Ayatollah Khamenei said “the satanic and malicious policies of the US towards Palestine, dubbed the deal of the century, will never materialize, with God’s grace.”

The American statesmen say Jerusalem al-Quds should be in the hands of the Jews, but it is “a load of nonsense,” the Leader stated.

“The issue of Palestine will not be forgotten,” he said. “The Palestinian nation and all Muslim nations will definitely stand up against them and prevent the materialization of the deal of the century.”

Amnesty: Unlawful deal exacerbates Israeli violations

Amnesty International has criticized the American proposal as “a handbook for more suffering and abuses” in the occupied territories, urging the global community to reject the measures set out in the deal in contravention of international law.

“While the Trump administration has emphasized the principle of land swaps in its deal, we should make no mistake that it is proposing further annexation of Palestinian territory, which would flagrantly violate international humanitarian law. During more than half a century of occupation Israel has imposed a system of institutionalized discrimination against Palestinians under its rule, denying them basic rights and access to effective remedies for violations. The deal amounts to endorsement of these brutal, unlawful policies,” said Philip Luther, Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa Research and Advocacy Director.

He also slammed the deal for putting forward a “compensation mechanism” for Palestinian refugees, instead of granting them their right to return to their homeland.

“Hundreds of thousands of Palestinian refugees are trapped in overcrowded camps, more than 70 years after they, their parents or grandparents were first forced out of their homes. This proposal ignores refugees’ rights under international law and the decades of suffering they have endured,” Luther said.

The US scheme, he added, seeks to undermine international justice after the International Criminal Court (ICC)’s decision last month to launch a full investigation into war crimes in the Palestinian territories.

“A just and sustainable peace requires a plan that prioritizes the human rights of Palestinians and Israelis, and must include justice and reparation for victims of war crimes and other grave violations. This plan not only fails this fundamental test; it seeks to torpedo efforts towards justice for both Palestinians and Israelis that are currently under way.”

Turkey: Mideast deal absolutely unacceptable

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has lambasted the US-proposed deal as “absolutely unacceptable.”

“Jerusalem [al-Quds] is sacred for Muslims. The plan to give Jerusalem to Israel is absolutely unacceptable. This plan ignores Palestinians’ rights and is aimed at legitimizing Israel's occupation,” CNN Turk quoted him as saying.

Earlier, the Turkish Foreign Ministry said the American proposal was “stillborn,” and that the people and land of Palestine were not for sale.

“This is an annexation plan aiming at usurping Palestinian lands and killing the two-state solution,” the ministry said in a statement.

The ministry noted that Jerusalem al-Quds is a red line in the eyes of Turkey, and that the country would not let Israel justify its occupation and persecution.

“We will always stand by the brotherly people of Palestine. We will continue to work for an independent Palestine within Palestinian lands,” it said, adding that Ankara would not support any plan that is not accepted by the Palestinian authorities and that peace will not materialize in the Middle East without an end to occupation.

Qatar: No peace sans Palestine on 1967 lines

The Qatari Foreign Ministry also emphasized that peace cannot be achieved without safeguarding the Palestinians’ rights by enabling them to establish their own sovereign state on the 1967 boundaries.

The ministry said Doha appreciated what it called American efforts to find solutions to the conflict as long as they are within the framework of international legitimacy.

Israel occupied the West Bank and East Jerusalem al-Quds during the Six-Day War in 1967. It later annexed the city in a move not recognized by the international community.

Palestinian officials say they want the resolution of the conflict with Israel based on the so-called two-state solution along the 1967 boundaries with East Jerusalem al-Quds as their capital.

Jordan supports independent Palestine on 1967 lines

Jordanian Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi affirmed his country’s support for an independent Palestinian state based on the 1967 boundaries with East Jerusalem al-Quds as its capital.

He also warned against “annexation of Palestinian lands” and the “dangerous consequences of unilateral Israeli measures that aim to impose new realities on the ground.”

Safadi further called for direct negotiations to find a comprehensive solution in accordance with established terms of reference, the Arab peace initiative and international law.

“Jordan supports every genuine effort aimed at achieving just and comprehensive peace that people will accept,” he said.

UN backs two-state bid

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres said the world body supports two states living in peace and security within recognized borders, on the basis of the pre-1967 borders.

"The United Nations remains committed to supporting Palestinians and Israelis to resolve the conflict on the basis of United Nations resolutions, international law and bilateral agreements and realizing the vision of two States - Israel and Palestine - living side by side in peace and security within recognized borders, on the basis of the pre-1967 lines," Guterres' spokesperson Stephane Dujarric quoted the UN chief as saying.

Palestinian demonstrators burn illustrations of US dollar banknotes with President Donald Trump pictures during a protest against Trump’s Mideast plan, in Ramallah in the Israeli-occupied West Bank January 28, 2020. (Photo by Reuters)

Iraq’s Ayatollah Sistani: US deal hurt Muslim feelings

In a statement released on Wednesday, the office of Iraq’s most prominent Shia cleric Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani strongly condemned the US-devised deal, saying it severely hurt the feelings of hundreds of millions of Arabs and Muslims worldwide.

Influential Iraqi Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr also voiced opposition to Trump’s plan and said “Quds belongs to all religions and Palestine to all freedom-seekers.”

Arab League: Deal’s first reading shows waste of Palestinian rights

Arab League Secretary General Ahmed Aboul Gheit said on Wednesday that a first reading of Trump’s proposal indicated a great waste of legitimate rights of Palestinians.

However, he added, the 22-member pan-Arab body was “studying the American vision carefully. We are open to any serious effort made to achieve peace.”

The Arab League will convene an urgent meeting on Saturday on the so-called Middle East peace plan.

Hossam Zaki, the body’s deputy secretary, said Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas would attend the meeting in Cairo to discuss the issue.

Abbas had earlier asked the body to convene and discuss ways to oppose the US plan.

“The State of Palestine officially asked for an exceptional meeting of the Arab League on the ministerial level, with the attendance of President Mahmoud Abbas…, to talk about ways to confront what is known as ‘the deal of the century,’” Palestinian Ambassador to Egypt Diab al-Louh said.

Saudi Arabia, Egypt, UAE welcome US ‘peace efforts’

Saudi Arabia, Egypt and the United Arab Emirates have welcomed what they called US efforts to establish peace in the Middle East, but underscored the need for dialog between the Israelis and the Palestinians to settle their decades-long dispute.

The Saudi Foreign Ministry said the kingdom supports “all efforts aimed at reaching a just and comprehensive resolution to the Palestinian cause.”

“The kingdom appreciates the efforts of President Trump’s administration to develop a comprehensive peace plan between the Palestinian and the Israeli sides, and encourages the start of direct peace negotiations ... , under the auspices of the United States,” it said in a statement.

The Saudi Foreign Ministry called on both sides to engage in negotiations and “move forward the peace process to reach an agreement that achieves legitimate rights of the Palestinian people.”

The Egyptian Foreign Ministry issued a similar statement, calling on both sides to consider the US proposal.

The ministry appreciated what it called “continuous efforts exerted by the US administration to achieve a comprehensive and just settlement of the Palestinian issue.”

“Egypt recognizes the importance of considering the US administration's initiative from the perspective of the importance of achieving the resolution of the Palestinian issue, thus restoring to the Palestinian people their full legitimate rights through the establishment of a sovereign independent state in the Palestinian occupied territories in accordance with international legitimacy and resolutions,” it added.

It urged both the Israelis and the Palestinians “to undertake a careful and thorough consideration of the US vision to achieve peace and open channels of dialogue, under US auspices, for the resumption of negotiations to present their respective views on reaching an agreement that satisfies the aspirations of both peoples to achieve a comprehensive and just peace and the establishment of an independent Palestinian state.”

UAE Ambassador to the US, Yousef al-Otaiba, said his country appreciated US efforts to draw up a “peace” agreement.

“This plan is a serious initiative that addresses many issues raised over the years,” he pointed out, noting that the scheme “offers an important starting point for a return to negotiations within a US-led international framework.”

EU: Trump plan chance for relaunching talks

The European Union has described Trump’s proposals as a chance for renewed talks towards “a viable solution” for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

The initiative “provides an occasion to re-launch the urgently needed efforts towards a negotiated and viable solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict," the EU’s foreign policy chief, Josep Borrell, said on behalf of the bloc.

He added that the EU would need to study and assess Trump’s proposals.

However, Borrell cautioned that Israel and the Palestinians needed to show “a genuine commitment to the two-state solution as the only realistic way to end the conflict.”

https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2020/01/29/617357/Donald-Trump-Mideast-deal-Palestine-Israel

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Islamophobia remains in Canada after mosque shooting

Barry Ellsworth 

29.01.2020

TRENTON, Canada

The anniversary of the Quebec City mosque shooting should be used to look at hate and Islamophobia in Canada, community groups said Wednesday.

Canadians “will never forget their memory and honor them by fighting Islamophobia,” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s said in a statement marking the third anniversary of the shooting at the Centre Culturel Islamique de Quebec.

The horrific attack Jan. 29, 2017 saw six worshippers die and 19 wounded by a lone gunman.

But while politicians and members of the general public lined up in sympathy with Muslims in the days after the massacre, some parts that has faded away.

“For a moment, it seemed that Canada and governments and society was ready to meet the challenge of this type of discrimination,” said Amira Elghawaby of the Canadian Anti-Hate Network. “But then, that moment sort of dissipated.”

In other words, Islamophobia, racism and discrimination remained.

In 2017, there were 349 incidents of hate crimes against Muslims reported by police. That was an increase from 139 in 2016. In 2018 , the latest figure available, the number was 173.

But the situation is much worse, since according to Statistics Canada, about two-thirds of hate crimes go unreported.

One of the problems in tackling hate crimes is that many Canadians have a hard time acknowledging that Islamophobia exists.

Ayesha S. Chaudhry of the University of British Columbia participated in hearings on Bill M-103, a federal proposal to condemn Islamophobia brought forth a month after the mosque attack. “Instead of thinking about the people that had clearly been targeted and murdered because they were Muslim, and having a conversation – what is it about our culture and our country, what is it about our education system, what is it about our media that fosters this kind of hatred against Muslims – the conversation was, ‘Is this even a thing?’” Chaudhry said.

The motion passed, but Member of Parliament Iqra Khalid, who put for the bill, was the target of so many threats she had to have police protection for a period.

And Bill 21, the new Quebec law that forbids many civil servants from wearing religious symbols at work, is seen by many Muslim groups as an attack on those who wear the hijab.

Quebec Premier Francois Legault is slated to attend Wednesday’s community supper to remember the victims of the attack and mosque President Boufeldja Benabdallah said Legault is sure to be asked a question.

Full report at:

https://www.aa.com.tr/en/americas/islamophobia-remains-in-canada-after-mosque-shooting/1718475

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Catholic priest: Don't let 'large numbers of Muslims' into America

January 29, 2020

A few in attendance that day were a little disturbed by Father Nick VanDenBroeke’s homily.

VanDenBroeke, who has been the church’s pastor since 2017, delivered a special message for Immigration Sunday, which has been observed by Minnesota Catholics since 2009.

VanDenBroeke first observed immigration is not a “black and white issue”—unlike, say, “abortion” or “same-sex marriage,” which are “never acceptable.”

On the one hand, the priest said, our nation “has a right to protect its ideas and ideals.” On the other, “welcoming the stranger” and showing kindness to those in need is the prerogative of every good Christian.

VanDenBroeke had one key exception.

“Both as Americans and as Christians, we do not need to pretend that everyone who seeks to enter America should be treated the same,” he said. “I believe it is essential to consider the religion and worldview of the immigrants or refugees. More specifically, we should not be allowing large numbers of Muslims asylum or immigration into our country.”

Islam, VanDenBroeke continued, is “the greatest threat in the world” to both Christianity and the United States, and it was the duty of the church to “[keep] bad ideas out of the country.”

“I’m not saying we hate Muslims,” he said. “They are people created out of love by God just as each one of us is. But while we certainly do not hate them as people, we must oppose their religion and worldview.”

He concluded that he’d like to see the implementation of both President Donald Trump’s wall with Mexico and a path to citizenship as an immigration compromise for the good of the nation. You can listen to the whole thing here.

VanDenBroeke didn’t respond to interview requests—nor did he respond to blogger Mary Hirsch, who heard about the homily from a friend and sent the priest an email letting him know she was “appalled.”

“Shame on you for furthering hate in your church, community, and worst of all your own heart,” Hirsch wrote.

It’s hard to separate VanDenBroeke's imperative to not let Muslims into the country from explicitly hating them. In a previous City Pages interview, journalist and sociologist Chip Berlet called anti-Muslim rhetoric (and its aftereffects) “scripted violence.” It’s a recurring pattern with different targets throughout history. Italians, Poles, Jews, and yes, Catholics, have been its previous victims.

“If you denounce a group long enough and often enough, someone will go out and attack them,” he said.

Full report at:

http://www.citypages.com/news/catholic-priest-dont-let-large-numbers-of-muslims-into-america/567363921

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Social media activists voice outrage at Trump's 'peace plan'

29 January 2020

Trump’s ‘peace plan’ has been met either with silence or whoop from some Arab leaders. But social media activists were not hesitant to voice outrage over the US green light to more Israeli annexation

https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2020/01/29/617407/Social-media-activists-voice-outrage-toward-Trump's-'peace-plan'

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Jewish groups in US blast Trump's Mideast peace plan

Vakkas Dogantekin 

29.01.2020

Many Jewish organizations in the U.S. on Tuesday slammed the Trump administration's proposed peace plan to end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Unveiled by President Donald Trump at the White House with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at his side, the so-called peace plan offered everything the far-right Israelis have been demanding, giving Palestinians nothing concrete but vague economic promises and the tiniest glimmer of hope for statehood.

Trump tied Palestinian statehood to "firm rejection of terrorism" while Netanyahu listed a number of impossible criteria such as disarming Hamas, demilitarizing Gaza, recognizing the Jewish state and Jewish sovereignty over Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria and other strategic areas in order for negotiations on statehood to even start with Palestinians.

The Jewish Democratic Council of America said the plan "is a green light for Israeli annexation of the West Bank, an intentional undermining of a viable two-state solution and another example of Trump using Israel to further his domestic political agenda."

Progressive Middle East advocacy group J Street called it "the logical culmination of repeated bad-faith steps" Trump has taken to "validate the agenda of the Israeli right, prevent the achievement of a viable, negotiated two-state solution and ensure that Israel’s illegal occupation of Palestinian territory in the West Bank becomes permanent."

Daniel Sokatch, CEO of the New Israel Fund, said the proposal "threatens to make the occupation permanent" and "is not the vision of Israel’s founders."

Emily Mayer, co-founder of American Jewish progressive activist group IfNotNow, also blasted the plan as "totally and utterly bankrupt," adding it "reveals the shameful way that our government has catered to the Israeli right — at the cost of Palestinian freedom — for our entire lives."

Rabbi Alissa Wise, acting co-executive director of Jewish Voice for Peace, a not-for-profit NGO, called it "an apartheid plan."

Wise added that it is "a distraction ploy by two warmongers who are prioritizing their personal election campaigns over any semblance of statecraft."

The White House released a 180-page document that elaborated on the details of the plan.

U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman, in a follow-up call with reporters, said Israel would get "overriding security responsibility and control over the entire territory from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea."

- Zionist groups hail plan

The American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) meanwhile supported the plan, saying that they appreciate "the efforts of President Trump and his administration to work in consultation with the leaders of the two major Israeli political parties to set forth ideas to resolve the conflict in a way that recognizes our ally’s critical security needs."

AIPAC also urged the Palestinians to rejoin Israelis at the "negotiating table."

Matt Brooks, executive director of the Republican Jewish Coalition, said the "president and his team have put together a bold and nuanced proposal that is deeply rooted in America’s core values of liberty, opportunity and hope for the future.”

StandWithUs CEO Roz Rothstein said they hope "this will be a step towards a better future for both peoples."

She added that "it is ultimately up to Israeli and Palestinian leaders to resolve their conflict through direct negotiations."

The so-called ‘deal of the century’ signed by Trump's senior adviser and son-in-law Jared Kushner was roundly rejected by all Palestinians before its release.

Thousands of Palestinians took to the streets ahead of and after the plan’s formal announcement. Turkey, one of the most staunch supporters of the Palestinian cause, has slammed the plan, calling it "stillborn."

Full report at:

https://www.aa.com.tr/en/americas/jewish-groups-in-us-blast-trumps-mideast-peace-plan/1717414

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Africa

 

Morocco ‘appreciates’ Mideast peace plan, says needs acceptance by parties

29 January 2020

Morocco “appreciates” the new US plan for peace between Israel and the Palestinians, its foreign ministry said in a statement on Wednesday, but added that “acceptance by the parties... is... fundamental to the implementation and sustainability of the plan.”

Morocco is a close ally of the United States and added in the statement that it hopes for “a constructive peace process” offering “a realistic, applicable, equitable and lasting solution” to the dispute.

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/north-africa/2020/01/29/Morocco-appreciates-Mideast-peace-plan-says-needs-acceptance-by-parties.html

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Somali Senate condemn US Mideast peace plan

Mohammed Dhaysane

29.01.2020

MOGADISHU, Somalia

Somalia's upper legislative house on Wednesday unanimously passed a resolution condemning the so-called "deal of the century" floated by U.S. President Donald Trump for the Middle East.

On Twitter, Senator Ilyas Ali Hassan announced that the chamber voted for the resolution against Trump's proposal, which he said "claims non existence" of Palestine.

"The house condemned the deal and voted on a resolution against it and we are not going to accept any deal which compromises the Palestinians' rights to have a state with Jerusalem as its capital," Ilyas told Anadolu Agency.

On Tuesday, Trump released his oft-delayed plan to end the Israel-Palestine dispute in the White House where Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was present, whereas Palestinian authorities were not represented. During the news conference, Trump referred to Jerusalem as "Israel's undivided capital."

Full report at:

https://www.aa.com.tr/en/africa/somali-senate-condemn-us-mideast-peace-plan/1717978

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South African group slams Trump’s Mideast peace plan

Hassan Isilow  

29.01.2020

JOHANNESBURG

A South African media advocacy group on Tuesday described U.S. President Donald Trump’s Middle East peace plan as a crazy move meant to legitimize the occupied Palestinian territories by Israel which is similar to apartheid.

“Undoubtedly, masses of Palestinians in the occupied territories and millions of their compatriots living in squalor as refugees across the Arab world would be appalled if not livid that the Trump administration has announced a process to extinguish their legitimate rights by gifting the occupying colonial regime with its so-called ‘deal of the century’,” Iqbal Jassat, executive member of the Media Review Network (MRN), told Anadolu Agency.

Jassat said Trump’s decision to hand complete control of Jerusalem to Israel along with Syria's Golan Heights implies he has now stripped Palestinians of all rights.

‘‘Rights including the Right of Return of Palestinian refugees, the right to freedom, right to justice and right to equality and dignity, which are all sacrosanct, have just been trampled under by Trump in collusion with an over-zealous [Israeli Prime Minister] Benjamin Netanyahu,” he said in a reaction statement.

Jassat further described Trump’s announcement as the latest betrayal of Palestine, and it has not only brought shame to America, but has also exposed the hypocrisy of U.S. allies in Europe and the Middle East.

“Their inability to challenge his repugnant abuse of power is confirmation of their supportive role in allowing Israel's persecution and oppression of Palestinians.”

On Tuesday, Trump released his often-delayed plan to end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict during a press conference at the White House, where he was hosting Netanyahu, while Palestinian authorities were not represented.

Full report at:

https://www.aa.com.tr/en/africa/south-african-group-slams-trump-s-mideast-peace-plan/1717448

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Kenya Base ‘Surprisingly’ Undefended During Attack, US Officials Say

January 30, 2020

When al-Shabaab attacked a U.S.-used airfield in Kenya, the al Qaeda affiliate took advantage of a woefully undefended perimeter that allowed its fighters to overrun American and Kenyan forces, according to U.S. and military officials familiar with the details of the Jan. 5 attack that killed a U.S. soldier and two U.S. contractors.

The incident lays bare one of the fundamental challenges of the U.S. military’s counterterrorism missions across the sprawling African continent. Roughly 6,000 U.S. troops and defense civilians are responsible for the entire U.S. mission in Africa — with roughly the same number of troops that are stationed in Iraq alone. By June, the Trump administration plans to finish trimming the U.S. presence by “fewer than 130” special operators, officials said last year.

But the attack comes as the Pentagon is considering further reductions to focus on competition or possible conflict with Russia and China.

Before the attack, Camp Simba and the nearby airfield were seen as a sleepy backwater outpost, according to one military official. The U.S. military is in Kenya training and assisting the local military in the fight against al-Shabaab; Camp Simba is used as a base for American surveillance assets and commandos working with the Kenyans in the porous border region between Somalia and Kenya. “It’s very relaxed, it’s very pretty,” the military official said.

There’s not much to see at the airfield — a few buildings, tents and CONEX shipping containers surrounded by thick jungle vegetation. Baboons occasionally wander onto the airstrip. Waterbucks and lions live in the area. Not far away are resorts visited by celebrities like Angela Jolie and Brad Pitt.

Despite the obvious vulnerabilities of a rural, densely-jungled base so close to the Somali border — and recent warnings that al-Shabaab was increasingly targeting Americans — officials familiar with the attack say the airfield perimeter wasn’t adequately secured to prevent the kind of penetrating attack that killed the three Americans.

Security “was surprisingly sparse,” one military official said. “It’s such thick vegetation and such a large area, it wasn’t properly manned or equipped.”

Camp Simba itself — the residential compound about a mile north of the airfield, where U.S. troops sleep — is well-cleared, said a congressional source with expertise on military operations in the region. “But when I look at the airfield, it’s notable to me the vegetation isn’t cleared around the airstrip,” the source said. Fencing, if there is any, isn’t substantial enough to be visible from satellite imagery.

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“This is a no-brainer that it would have been very easy for these guys to sneak up through the brush and get very close to the hangers before they were spotted,” that person said.

A spokesman for U.S. Africa Command, Col. Chris Karns, said in an email Wednesday that the outpost’s security is being evaluated as part of an investigation into the attack.

“Adjustments have already been made based on initial assessment by the general officers who immediately visited the area and the investigation team,” Karns said. “It is important to note, Camp Simba is where the majority of U.S. presence can be found, and after the initial attack a rapid counter-attack occurred.”

How the attack went down

The attack began in the dark hours of the morning, with Shabaab firing mortars on Camp Simba and simultaneously pushing deep into the airfield. The fighters blasted rockets into a taxiing surveillance plane, killing the two American contractors, and destroyed millions of dollars worth of U.S. aircraft and equipment, the New York Times reported. Army Specialist Henry Mayfield Jr., 23, was killed in the ensuing gunfight. A Marine special operations team scrambled from Camp Simba to counter the assault alongside some of the Kenyan Rangers they had been training, but the base is a mile away from the airfield, and many of the Shabaab fighters melted into the night and back across the border into Somalia. Karns said five fighters were killed, while an estimated “several dozen” were driven off.

There are fewer than 350 U.S. troops in all of Kenya, meaning that the Americans relied heavily on the Kenyan military for security. “I haven’t heard anything to very clearly indicate that they [Shabaab] had help from the inside,” the congressional source said.

But questions have swirled about the degree to which the Kenyan forces were responsible for allowing the attackers to get as far as they did. Analysts say the Kenyan forces lack the professionalism and capability of their American trainers, and rumors have circulated Washington — bolstered by the Times report — that the local Kenyan forces assigned to defend the base hid in the grass during the initial attack.

Karns and other Pentagon officials have emphasized that Kenya remains “a very important partner…committed to countering al-Shabaab.”

But that the American forces at the airfield were caught completely by surprise by the ambush still shocked intelligence officials, congressional offices and other regional experts familiar with the region. Despite the idyllic seaside location, Camp Simba is just 50 miles from the Somali border, in an area where al Shabaab is known to operate. The group has attacked civilian targets in Kenya for years: It attacked the Dusit D2 hotel in Nairobi in January 2019, killing 21 people, and Garissa University in eastern Kenya in 2015, killing 148 people.

In recent months, the al Qaeda affiliate has turned its sights on American military targets. On Sept. 30, a suicide bomber exploded a car bomb at the gate of a military airfield in Bale Dogle, in southern Somalia, sparking a fierce firefight between U.S. troops and Shabaab fighters. A U.S. service member was injured.

And on Nov. 5, just months before the Camp Simba attack, al-Shabaab leader Ahmed Omar Abu Ubeyda released a video on social media calling for attacks on Americans wherever they are, including the U.S. public.

Shabaab has proved itself adept in recent years at recruiting Kenyans to its cause, according to analysts — not only from coastal Muslim communities, but also from Kikuyu communities. (The Kikuyu are the largest ethnic group in Kenya.)

“We certainly believe [the Camp Simba attack] came from cross-border,” Maj. Gen. William Gayler, the director of operations at U.S. Africa Command, told reporters recently. “But we equally believe it had to have some kind of component inside of Kenya as well, which stands to be logical.”

The fight against Shabaab — and questions on the Hill

U.S. troops have been fighting Shabaab in Somalia for close to a decade, mostly through aerial attacks. In 2019, two years after President Donald Trump loosened the U.S. rules of engagement to allow for more aggressive action against the group, the military carried out a record 63 airstrikes against Shabaab targets.

“The fact that Shabaab conducted this attack didn’t surprise me in the least,” the congressional source said, calling the threat from Shabaab “persistent and arguably growing.” The group “sees this facility as part of the U.S. airstrike campaign. Even if they’re not conducting flights from here, this is where the [surveillance] flights are for the southern part of the country, is the presumption—it’s a logical follow-on to the attack on the Bale Dogle airfield.”

The question of how, in that environment, perimeter security was so lax, has already drawn scrutiny on Capitol Hill. Rep. Ruben Gallego, D-Ariz., a former Marine, has requested a briefing from the Pentagon on the issue of base protection.

Meanwhile, the idea of drawing down U.S. Africa Command’s area of operations has met stiff opposition from both parties on the Hill, who warn that it would cede influence to Russia and China and allow terror groups to grow.

“Any drawdown of our troops would be short-sighted, could cripple AFRICOM’s ability to execute its mission and, as a result, would harm national security,” Sen. Jim Inhofe, R-Okla., said in a recent speech on the Senate floor.

“A withdrawal from the continent would also certainly embolden both Russia and China,” wrote Sens. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C. and Chris Coons, D-Del., in a letter to Defense Secretary Mark Esper protesting the proposed drawdown.

The drawdown is reported to focus on West Africa, where several hundred American troops are deployed in Niger, Chad and Mali fighting extremist groups like Boko Haram and ISIS-West Africa. But reports in the past year have also suggested that the American mission in Somalia could also be on the cutting board as President Trump, long ambivalent about U.S. counterterrorism missions overseas, continues to raise questions about their utility.

The scrutiny on the Hill is likely to grow, as the Senate’s impeachment trial appears to be winding down. The attack was the single most deadly attack on American forces since an Islamic State ambush in Niger in 2017 killed four American soldiers. That incident surprised lawmakers who claimed not to know that the military was carrying out operations in West Africa, and sparked years of congressional scrutiny.

“Perimeter security is the key question,” the congressional source said. “‘Do we need that many people there?’ is going to be the question that’s asked. The flip side of that question is, ‘do we need more people? If the [surveillance capabilities] and crisis response [from Camp Simba] are important enough to have the forces up there, do we need more force protection up there?’”

Full report at:

https://www.defenseone.com/news/2020/01/kenya-base-surprisingly-undefended-us-officials-say/162747/

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Cameroon: Five Killed in Terror Attack by Boko Haram

29 January, 2020

Boko Haram militants carried out overnight attack in north Cameron killing five people. The militants were hunting for soldiers in a village near Lake Chad.

"Five civilians were killed by Boko Haram in Blaram," a village in the Blangoua district of Cameroon's Far North region, a local official said.

Two soldiers were also injured in the assault and a military base set on fire, the officer said, AFP reported.

"Boko Haram fighters attacked the post around 1 am. Fighting erupted between them and the soldiers, but the troops made a strategic retreat because they were outnumbered," a Blangoua district official said.

The civilians were killed in their homes by attackers searching for soldiers, the official said.

The village of Blaram is located on dry land near Lake Chad.

Based in neighbouring Nigeria, Boko Haram has stepped up attacks from bases hidden in the Lake Chad area, where the borders of Cameroon, Chad, Niger and Nigeria converge.

Cameroon says the group has carried out nearly 13,000 attacks on its territory since 2014, with the loss of "several thousand" lives.

The insurgency has forced more than 250,000 people to flee their homes and triggered an influx of 60,000 people from Nigeria.

Full report at:

https://aawsat.com/english/home/article/2105491/cameroon-five-killed-terror-attack-boko-haram

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Nigeria: Boko Haram Kills Two Persons At Military Checkpoint

30 JANUARY 2020

Maiduguri — Boko Haram terrorists have slaughtered two persons who slept overnight at a military checkpoint in Maiduguri, Borno State. The insurgents were also said to have carted away some of their wares, including frozen fish.

According to a security source who preferred anonymity, the truck which was bringing frozen fish from Kano got to the military checkpoint at Auno, an outskirts of Maiduguri, few minutes to the closure of the security gates but could not continue its journey into the town as he had a mechanical fault.

The driver was advised by the military personnel at the checkpoint to leave the truck, a DAF, with Yobe State registration number PKM 665 X and proceed into the town to sleep with the two other persons with him.

They were said to have rejected the advice and chose instead to sleep in the broken-down vehicle.

The source said the insurgents came at night and slaughtered the three of them, while two dead instantly, one was still gasping for breath when the men of the Rapid Response Squad arrived at the area yesterday morning.

The corpses of the deceased were deposited at the hospital and the wounded was left to be treated at the emergency unit of the Borno State Specialist Hospital in Maiduguri.

The source said: "The RRS got the information at about 7a.m. on Wednesday of Boko Haram attack. Information revealed that some armed men suspected to be insurgents intercepted a DAF truck with registration number Yobe PKM 665 X driven by one Yusuf Mohammed and a motor boy Abdullah Mohammed.

"They slept at the gate of the military checkpoint at Auno, which is normally locked up by 5p.m. The insurgents came at night, slaughtered the three people in the vehicle, while one Yusuf Abdulrahaman was still gasping for air this morning when the team from the RRS got to the scene of the incident."

The source added that: "Abdulrahaman was rushed to the Borno State Specialist Hospital for treatment, while the DAF truck which was still containing some iced fish was towed to Auno for safe keeping as the corpse were removed and deposited at the University of Maiduguri Teaching Hospital (UMTH)."

Full report at:

https://allafrica.com/stories/202001300083.html

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Europe

 

UK’s Johnson says Palestinian leaders should consider Trump’s peace plan

29 January 2020

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Wednesday no Middle East peace plan was perfect, but the one put forward by US President Donald Trump had the merit of being a two-state solution and should be considered by Palestinian leaders.

“No peace plan is perfect but this has the merit of a two-state solution, it is a two-state solution, it would ensure that Jerusalem is both the capital of Israel and of the Palestinian people,” Johnson said in parliament.

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2020/01/29/UK-s-Johnson-says-Palestinian-leaders-should-consider-Trump-s-peace-plan.html

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France should stop supporting Haftar in Libya: Turkey

Gozde Bayar

30.01.2020

Turkey on Wednesday urged France to stop supporting Libya's renegade commander Khalifa Haftar.

"If France wants to contribute to the implementation of decisions taken at the [Berlin] Conference, it should first stop supporting Haftar," Hami Aksoy, the Foreign Ministry spokesman, said in a statement.

Aksoy’s remarks came in response to French President Emmanuel Macron's remarks during a joint news conference with Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis.

Holding France responsible for the Libyan crisis that emerged in 2011, Aksoy said France "unconditionally supports Haftar to have its say on the natural resources in Libya".

Haftar’s attack on the legitimate government is a threat to the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Libya, he added.

Underlining that a permanent cease-fire should immediately be achieved in Libya as discussed at the Berlin Conference, Aksoy said his country expects from France that it plays a positive role in establishing security and stability in Libya.

On Jan. 12, parties in Libya announced a ceasefire in response to a joint call by the leaders of Turkey and Russia. But two days later in Russia, talks for a permanent ceasefire ended without an agreement after Haftar left Moscow without signing the deal. --------

A week later, Haftar accepted terms in Berlin to designate members to a UN-proposed military commission with five members from each side to monitor the implementation of the ceasefire.

Full report at:

https://www.aa.com.tr/en/europe/france-should-stop-supporting-haftar-in-libya-turkey/1718534

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EU to assess Trump's Middle East peace plan

Fatih Hafiz Mehmet 

29.01.2020

The European Union plans to assess the Middle East peace plan unveiled by U.S. President Donald Trump, its foreign policy chief said Tuesday.

"The European Union will study and assess the proposals put forward. This will be done on the basis of the EU’s established position and its firm and united commitment to a negotiated and viable two-state solution that takes into account the legitimate aspirations of both the Palestinians and the Israelis, respecting all relevant UN resolutions and internationally agreed parameters," Josep Borrell said in a statement.

Borrell said the U.S. initiative provides an opportunity to re-launch urgently needed efforts towards a negotiated and viable solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

The statement said the EU reaffirms its readiness to work towards the resumption of meaningful negotiations to resolve all permanent status issues and to achieve a just and lasting peace.

"It urges both sides to demonstrate, through policies and actions, a genuine commitment to the two-state solution as the only realistic way to end the conflict," Borrell added.

His statement came after Trump released his oft-delayed plan to end the Israeli-Palestinian dispute during a press conference at the White House, where he was hosting Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Palestinian authorities were not represented. During the news conference, Trump referred to Jerusalem as "Israel's undivided capital".

The so-called peace plan unilaterally annuls previous UN resolutions on the Palestinian issue and gives Israel pretty much everything they have been demanding.

Full report at:

https://www.aa.com.tr/en/europe/eu-to-assess-trumps-middle-east-peace-plan/1717451

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Belgium Muslim Executive wants official recognition for Great Mosque of Brussels

29 January 2020

The Executive of the Muslims of Belgium (EMB) has submitted a request for the recognition of the Great Mosque of Brussels, according to the department of Brussels Minister-President, Rudi Vervoort.

Currently, there are 21 recognised mosques in the Brussels Region, and eight others have their recognition request pending. The request for the Great Mosque in the Cinquantenaire Park will now be added to that list, as the EMB filed the paperwork last week, reports Bruzz.

For as long as it existed, the Great Mosque was run by the Islamic Cultural Centre of Belgium (ICCB), which was financed by Saudi Arabia. However, after the terror attacks in 2016, it was decided, following an investigation, that the ICCB was no longer allowed to operate the mosque.

The Parliamentary Investigation Commission on the Brussels attacks, which considered that the ICCB “spread Wahhabi Salafism, a trend that can play a determining role in the radicalism and violent radicalism,” it said.

It left the mosque in March 2019, and the Executive of the Muslims of Belgium was appointed to take over the management of the mosque.

If and when the Great Mosque will be officially recognised is unclear, as the Brussels government can only recognise one after it obtains the opinion of the FPS Justice and of the commune, which would be the City of Brussels in this case.

Full report at:

https://www.brusselstimes.com/belgium/92572/huawei-lauds-eu-decision-to-allow-it-into-blocs-5g-roll-out-as-fact-based/

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France says will study Trump’s Mideast peace plan closely

29 January 2020

France said it welcomed US President Donald Trump’s latest efforts to strike a peace deal between Israel and Palestine, and added that Paris would have to study the proposals closely.

US President Donald Trump on Tuesday proposed creating a Palestinian state as part of a Middle East peace plan, drawing Palestinian condemnation for imposing strict conditions and agreeing to let Israel maintain control of long-contested West Bank settlements.

“France welcomes President Trump’s efforts and will study closely the peace program he has presented,” said a statement from the French foreign ministry, which also reiterated France’s desire for a two-state solution on Israel and Palestine.

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2020/01/29/France-says-will-study-Trump-s-Mideast-peace-plan-closely.html

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Israel says it thwarted serious cyberattack on power station

29 January 2020

Israel foiled a major cyberattack on one of its power stations a few months ago, Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz said on Wednesday.

“It was a very serious, sophisticated attempt trying to control and paralyse one of our power stations,” Steinitz told the CyberTech conference in Tel Aviv, without elaborating.

Yosi Shneck, head of cyber entrepreneurship and business development at state-owned utility Israel Electric Corp (IEC), told Reuters he was aware of the incident even though it was not against one of his own company’s plants.

IEC provides about 70 percent of Israel’s electricity, with the rest coming from smaller private competitors. The state utility faces an average of 11,000 suspected cyber events each second, according to Chairman Yiftah Ron-Tal, making it one of the most targeted companies in the world.

Shneck said militant groups like the Palestinian Hamas, Lebanon’s Hezbollah and “states that don’t like Israel, like Iran”, were believed to be behind most of the attacks.

IEC has signed a cooperation agreement with a Japanese energy entity that will involve cyber defence in preparation for and during this year’s Summer Olympic Games in Tokyo.

Full report at:

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/world/2020/01/29/Israel-says-it-thwarted-serious-cyberattack-on-power-station.html

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France welcomes Trump's so-called Mideast peace plan

Cindi Cook

29.01.2020

PARIS

France welcomed a so-called Middle East peace plan proposed by the U.S., saying Paris would continue to work towards a "two-state solution" between Palestine and Israel.

The Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs said in a statement on Tuesday that the country would attentively study the peace plan, presented by U.S. President Donald Trump.

"France is convinced that the two-state solution, in accordance with international law and internationally agreed parameters, is necessary to establish just and sustainable peace in the Middle East," it said.

The ministry added that Paris would "remain vigilant to ensure the legitimate aspirations of both the Israelis and the Palestinians are respected and taken into account."

Trump released his so-called "deal of the century" on Tuesday in the White House where Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was present, whereas Palestinian authorities were not represented.

Full report at:

https://www.aa.com.tr/en/europe/france-welcomes-trumps-so-called-mideast-peace-plan/1718019

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