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Islamic World News ( 23 Nov 2017, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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Hafiz Saeed's Release Order: 'Pakistan Hoodwinking Global Community'

 New Age Islam News Bureau

23 Nov 2017

"There is no difference between Christians and Muslims. We are inviting our Christian brethren to come back to their homes and churches. Mosul is big enough for all of us,"



 Hafiz Saeed's Release Order: 'Pakistan Hoodwinking Global Community'

 Muslim Youth Repaired This Church in Iraq and It'll Brighten Your Day

 Turkey Underlined Islam’s Messages of Peace, Stresses Muslims Solidarity

 For Long, Cover of Secularism Was Used As an Excuse for Neglecting Madrasas; Now Govt Harsh Light Casts a Shadow

 Members of New Golders Green Mosque Donate Blood in Shul for Mitzvah Day

 1971 War: Dhaka Sentences to Death Six Jamaat Workers



 Hafiz Saeed's Release Order: 'Pakistan Hoodwinking Global Community'

 US Says Hafiz Saeed A Designated Terrorist

 Pakistan welcomes US offer to take on Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan

 Hopes for blasphemy reforms fade as radicals gain ground in Pakistan

 Pakistan's 'last Jew' Fishel Benkhald complains of anti-Semitism

 Gen Raheel appointed Saudi anti-terror alliance head


Arab World

 Muslim Youth Repaired This Church in Iraq and It'll Brighten Your Day

 Saudi Capital to Host Inaugural Meeting of Islamic Military Alliance on Nov 26

 Lebanon PM tells supporters he is standing with them

 Iraqi forces unearth another Izadi mass grave in Sinjar

 Syria Opp meets in Riyadh under pressure to compromise

 US Dissolving FSA-Affiliated Terrorist Groups in Southern Syria

 Syrian Army One Step Closer to Lay Siege on Terrorists in Eastern Deir Ezzur

 Deir Ezzur: Syrian Army Advances 40 km against Terrorists towards Albu Kamal

 Saudi minister says Syria crisis solution requires consensus

 Egypt arrests 29 over espionage for Turkey



 Turkey Underlined Islam’s Messages of Peace, Stresses Muslims Solidarity

 Iranian Teenage Musicians to Perform In Denmark

 Presidents of Iran, Russia, Turkey hold Syria talks in Sochi

 ‘Daesh one of numerous US-Zionist plots foiled by Iran’

 Tehran hosting conference on countering Takfirism



 For Long, Cover of Secularism Was Used As an Excuse for Neglecting Madrasas; Now Govt Harsh Light Casts a Shadow

 Muslim Groups See Red over a TV Journalist’s Tweet

 Soldier, terrorist killed as Army foils infiltration bid

 Rohingya get ‘nationality verification’ forms, they call it a grim reminder



 Members of New Golders Green Mosque Donate Blood in Shul for Mitzvah Day

 Man Armed With Knife Hunted For Muslims to Stab and Told Police He Was a 'Martyr For England'

 Bosnian Muslim leader urges Serbs to ‘accept the truth’

 ‘Butcher of Bosnia’ gets life in war crimes case


South Asia

 1971 War: Dhaka Sentences to Death Six Jamaat Workers

 New Hit-List to Target Bangladeshi Bloggers Recovered: STF

 ‘Hefazat-e-Islam is not the property of an individual or a particular family’

 Taliban commanders Killed In Wardak Operation

 Afghan forces thwart militants plot to target Kabul with BM-1 rocket

 U.S. declares attacks on Burmese Rohingya Muslims ‘ethnic cleansing’

 Bangladeshi religious leaders have high hopes for pope’s visit

 Afghan forces respond to shelling from across Durand Line, officials claim



 Migrants Sold Into Slavery in Libya Tell Of ‘Total Hell’

 Armed Opposition Attack Kills 17 People in South Sudan

 Biker groups flourish in post-Qaddafi Libya

 Kenyan Al-Shabaab Leader Flees After Fallout

 Italy: 1,100 migrants rescued from Libyan coast in one day

 France calls UN Security Council meeting over Libya slavery


Southeast Asia

 ISIS Supporters in Malaysia Now Working In 'Wolf Packs'

 Saudis Accuse Ulema Body Linked To PAS Chief of Terrorism

 Putrajaya: Freedom of religion does not equal freedom from religion

 Don’t equate constitution with shariah, says lawyer

 Indonesia promotes moderate Islam in International Islamic Education Expo

 China tells Myanmar military it wants closer ties


North America

 Toronto Mosque and Church Collaborate To Serve Free Lunch

 This Thanksgiving, American Muslims Are Thankful For Allies Publicly and Vocally Speaking Out, Showing Up

 This Muslim Territory Put Jewish U.S. Congressman Eliot Engel on a Stamp

 Radical Islamic Groups Call For Jihad At Meeting Near Washington, D.C.

 US says attacks on Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar is 'ethnic cleansing'

 US agency defends handling of travel ban, report

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau




Hafiz Saeed's release order: 'Pakistan hoodwinking global community'

Nov 22, 2017

NEW DELHI: Mumbai terror attacks mastermind and JuD chief Hafiz Saeed's release order by a Pakistani judicial body shows how Pakistan is "hoodwinking" the international community on the issue of terrorism, government sources said on Wednesday.

It is also reflective of Islamabad's "duplicity" in tackling terrorism, they said and asked Pakistan to "walk the talk" on its assurances to the international community over dismantling terror infrastructure and not allowing its soil to be used for terror acts.

The sharp reaction came within hours of the Judicial Review Board of Punjab province comprising judges of the Lahore High Court ordering Saeed's release on the expiry of his 30-day house arrest which is going to expire in a couple of days.

Hafiz Saeed's release may also coincide with the anniversary of the 26/11 Mumbai attacks in which at least 166 people were killed.

"The release order only shows that Pakistan provides free space to terrorists to indulge in acts against other countries. And in case of Saeed, a designated terrorist, it also shows how Pakistan is hoodwinking the international community on the issue of terrorism," a source said.

Pakistan keeps giving assurances to the international community that it is making all efforts to tackle terrorism but it never implement its assurances in reality and this (Saeed) is one example, another source asserted.

The banned Jamaat-ud-Dawah head, who carries a bounty of $10 million announced by the US for his role in terror activities, has been under detention since January.

"The government is ordered to release JuD chief Hafiz Saeed if he is not wanted in any other case," said the Pakistani board which was headed by Justice Abdul Sami Khan.

Saeed may walk out free in a couple of days if the government does not detain him in any other case.

India has repeatedly asked Pakistan to re-investigate the Mumbai terror attacks case and also demanded trial of Saeed and Lashkar-e-Taiba operations commander Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi in the light of evidence it had provided to Islamabad.

The JuD is believed to be the front organisation for the banned Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) which is responsible for carrying out the Mumbai attacks.

Saeed was put under house arrest after Mumbai terror attacks in November 2008 but he was freed by court in 2009.

Ten LeT militants killed 166 people and wounded hundreds in Mumbai in November, 2008. Nine of the attackers were killed by police while lone survivor Ajmal Kasab was caught.

Kasab was executed after a court found him guilty and handed down death sentence.



Muslim Youth Repaired This Church in Iraq and It'll Brighten Your Day


By Sarah Ahmed Shawky

Earlier this week, a video showing young Iraqi Muslim volunteers repairing a church that was partially destroyed by the so-called Islamic State (or Daesh) in Mosul went viral.

Irfaa Sawtak (Raise your Voice,) a news and media platform based in the Middle East, posted the video on their Facebook page, garnering 2.5 million views at the time of writing. 

"There is no difference between Christians and Muslims. We are inviting our Christian brethren to come back to their homes and churches. Mosul is big enough for all of us," one of the volunteers is heard saying.

The young Iraqis are planning to repair other churches in the area in the coming weeks.

Muslim youths install a new cross on top of a 105 year-old Chaldean church

Iraq is home to one of the oldest Christian communities in the Middle East.

But it was heavily targetted by IS militants in Mosul, which forced many to flee the city.

The extremist group declared Mosul a caliphate for over three years, taking control and destroying most of the city's landmarks.

The terrorist organization was later on defeated and ousted in July this year by Iraqi fighters. 

People love it

Comments came flooding in with support messages for the volunteers.

"This is one of the strongest messages for all countries"

"Good job... No difference between Muslims and Christians"

"May Christians return to their homes safely... We're all brothers"

"Good job and may God bless you"

"We're all human"



Turkey underlined Islam’s messages of peace, stresses Muslims solidarity

Nov 23, 2017

At the first OIC Conference on Mediation here, the member countries underlined the true spirit of Islam being a religion of peace. They stressed the need to promote solidarity of the Muslim world.

Addressing the conference the deputy foreign minister of Turkey Mr. Ahmet Yidiz said, he hoped that the conference will contribute to the efforts to carry the mediation agenda forward in the OIC geography and to promote sustainable peace in the Islamic world.

Referring to the agonies of the Muslims world he presented a graphic picture of the tragic situation. “In 2015, 30 of 50 conflicts recorded worldwide occurred in OIC countries…As a direct outcome, today OIC countries account for 61.5% of all displaced population in the world….Moreover, 71% of people who globally require humanitarian assistance reside in OIC countries.” He noted that the challenges have never been as complex, multifaceted and contagious as they are today.

“Against this backdrop, we have no other option but to act together in a true spirit of Islamic solidarity and cooperation,” he emphasised. He said, IC has a huge potential and a genuine comparative advantage in the global search for peace and stability.

“ In this potential to come true, we need more sound initiatives in the context of global peacemaking agenda. Mediation is the right tool to do this. It is a cost-effective instrument with extensive benefits. He pointed to the Quramic teaching in this context.—PR



For Long, Cover of Secularism Was Used As an Excuse for Neglecting Madrasas; Now Govt Harsh Light Casts a Shadow

by Vandita Mishra

November 23, 2017

Students seeking admission to the 60-year-old three-storeyed Madrasa Ziaul Uloom, Purana Gorakhpur, located at a stone’s throw from the Gorakhnath temple, must first show their Aadhaar card. Principal Mohammad Nuruzzaman Misbahi says the madrasa authorities have started asking for it from this year.

This is not because the madrasa in eastern UP is falling in line with an increasingly prevalent insistence on Aadhaar as a system of identification and authentication. “Ek toh Muslim hain, upar se madrasa chalate hain (for one, we are Muslim, and then we also run a madrasa). What if they link any of our students to terror? There could be false accusations, inspections and raids. We are careful now. We ask for Aadhaar cards and even talk to their homes before admitting students,” says Hafiz Nazirul Hasan, a teacher in the madrasa.

Madrasas offer free education and lodging to children of the poorest Muslim homes. At the Madrasa Ziaul Uloom, students come mostly from the families of daily wage labourers in surrounding districts and from Bihar, West Bengal and Jharkhand. Earlier, the madrasa opened its door to all who knocked on it, no one was turned away. No longer.

No madrasa in Gorakhpur has been raided since the Yogi government came to power in March. But that hasn’t stopped an inchoate fear outside from snaking its way in.

“Today, if I am walking in the market carrying a packet of mutton, how long will it take me to prove it is not beef? I could be attacked, a case may be lodged against me”, says Hasan. “Now we cook only chicken for the non-vegetarian meal that students get once a week. We have told the shopkeeper to deliver it to us, we will not take the risk of going to buy it from him”, says Hasan.

Apart from partaking of the anxieties outside their gates, madrasas are also feeling singled out by the Yogi government.

In August, the UP government launched a portal of UP Madrasa Board for online registration of the over 19,000 recognised and 560 aided madrasas in the state. The government’s ministers cited “complaints of irregularities”, the need to modernise madrasa education, the call of “digitisation” and transparency”.

In September the government stopped aid to 46 madrasas after a probe that apparently suggested they were not functioning within the required parameters. In October, it announced that NCERT books would be incorporated in the madrasa syllabus.

As in the case of its move against “illegal” slaughterhouses, government action on madrasas seems lawful, even though in the short run, it has meant cumbersome paperwork: “How many rooms in the madrasa, they ask, and what are the measurements?” says Principal Misbahi.

But the underlying problem is this: For long years, like slaughter houses, madrasas have existed in largely unregulated terrain, with “secular” governments turning a blind eye to the need to keep records of students, teachers and payments. This was a relatively inexpensive way to nurture a vote bank without doing the hard labour of addressing the socio-economic backwardness of a relegated minority.

“Chhota kaam kiya, bada nahin (the small stuff was done for Muslims, not the large or big)”, says Dr Sharif Ahmad Quraishi, academic and writer in Rampur. “Muslims were kept happy by doling out low-level jobs in local bodies, or by the loud attention given to the boundaries of graveyards”.

Now, the insistent attention by a BJP government which talks up the cow, targets slaughter houses and is headed by a man with a public record of minority-baiting, is stoking deeper discomforts and insecurities.

“There is no similar inspection of schools, even where only very few children study, or which lack proper buildings”, points out Mohammad Iliyas, who works in the Madrasa Ziaul Uloom’s administration.

“Help us, if you want us to modernise”, says teacher Hasan. “But you can’t do it by targeting us. Give us computers, operators, regular salaries”. Salaries at his madrasa come a minimum of six months to two years late.

“Of course, modern secular subjects must be taught in the madrasa”, says Salim Ahmad, who teaches science. “But for that, at least madrasas like ours, where there is regular teaching and students, must not be starved of funds”.

This year, alongwith other madrasas, Madrasa Ziaul Uloom was asked to videograph the Independence Day programme it holds every year, and send the CD to the DMWO (District Minority Welfare Officer). The diktat triggered resentment. “It was the compulsion that was the problem”, says Sajjad Ahmed, joint secretary.

Across the state, in western UP, in another madrasa, the same low hum of students memorising by rote is threaded by the same anxiety.

At the Jamia Faiz e Hidayat madrasa in Rampur, recognised but not government-aided — where, too, they insisted on Aadhaar cards for admissions for the first time this year as a precaution — madrasa president Shahid Ali says: “We have sent all the information to the portal, photos of the building, photos of teachers teaching, measurements of rooms, photos of members of the society that runs the madrasa. We could be derecognised. Where will our children go?” The madrasa only takes students till high school.

“We want to follow the law”, says teacher Mohammad Sajid. “But you have to see our stage of evolution and maturity. We serve the very poor. If madrasas close, these children will not get to study anywhere at all. They will while away their time, playing gilli danda”.

Timber businessman Muslim Moin Qureshi, who says with pride that his madrasa was the first in Rampur to take government aid, welcomed the opportunity to instal the biometric attendance system. “I can keep tabs on the teachers now”. But he asks: “Why not for all educational institutions? And how can I be expected to remake the rooms of my 50-year old madrasa to fit the new norms? I keep 60 children in the hostel for free. We have been doing social work since 1958, yet you are suspicious of us?”

A section of Muslims understands that there is an attempt to keep the debate tethered to communal issues, says Ajmal ur-Rahman, patron of ‘Muslim Voice of India’, an organisation which takes up community-related issues in Muzaffarnagar. “They want it to be about madrasas, beef and Vande Mataram. Muslims are resisting this, they want to say, you tell us, you (Yogi) were Gorakhpur MP for 25 years, yet children die of lack of oxygen in a hospital?”

At stake in the debate on madrasas, as on beef, is a hard-won balance as the BJP’s overwhelming victory, and installation of Yogi Adityanath as CM, is straining a tightrope.

“MLA-MP-mayor, all are BJP now, parshad se rashtrapati tak (from corporate to president)”, says Hafiz Nazirul Hasan of Gorakhpur’s Madrasa Ziaul Uloom.

“There is a pattern — gau raksha, triple talaq, mandir, madrasas”, says Rampur academic Sharif Ahmed Quraishi. “But we should not be silent. Khamoshi kisi cheez ka hal nahin hota (silence is no solution). We can talk to the BJP, go to it with our problems”.

In Lucknow, the certitude in the political corridors seems a long way from the roiling in places like Rampur.

“It is bitter medicine, but laabhkaari (beneficial) for the madrasas”, says Deputy CM Keshav Prasad Maurya. The aim, he says, is “samaj samras ho (society must be harmonious)”. He casts the onus on the minority. “Doodh mein cheeni jaise (they must dissolve like sugar in milk). Doodh mein nimbu padta hai to galat hai (they must not bring sourness to the mix)”.

Transport Minister Swatantra Dev Singh says “We don’t want to shut any madrasa. But rashtriya dhwaj toh fehrana hi padega (you will have to compulsorily fly the national flag)… If Modiji doesn’t say Jai Shri Ram, will Azam Khan say it? If BJP doesn’t say Bharat Mata ki Jai, will Sonia Gandhi say it? If we don’t sing Vande Mataram, will Pakistan sing it?”



Members of new Golders Green mosque donate blood in shul for Mitzvah Day

Nov 23, 2017

Muslim leaders at the new Islamic Centre at the old Golders Green Hippodrome turned up at Golders Green United Synagogue on Sunday in order to donate blood for Mitzvah Day.

In a tonic to those who have waged a toxic campaign to prevent the Islamic Centre from opening, several members of the would-be mosque turned up to give blood, saying they wanted to be good neighbours with the heavily-Jewish community.

“As a Muslim organisation in north-west London we will do everything in our power to help our community to integrate into the local community,” said Ahmed Al-Kazemi from the centre, which is called Markaz El Tathgheef El Eslami (the Centre for Islamic Enlightening).

“The blood drive at the synagogue is a really wonderful opportunity to find common ground and realise how much we share when we look past the externals.

“A few of our youth members were honoured to donate blood, and we look forward to working with all our neighbours in the future, whether they are Jewish, Christian, from any faiths, or none.”

Rabbi Sam Fromson said the shul was “delighted” to welcome the Islamic delegation, saying: “It was a pleasure to meet our new neighbours and we look forward to working together to establish a warm and constructive relationship between our communities.”

Rabbi Natan Levy, of the Faiths Forum for London, which facilitated this initial meeting said: “It is small gestures of cooperation like this that speak louder than the calls of hate and fear that attempt to divide us. We can all be proud of our Jewish community for opening its doors with grace and warmth.”



1971 war: Dhaka sentences to death six Jamaat workers

Nov 23, 2017

DHAKA: A special tribunal in Bangladeshi on Wednesday sentenced death to six political workers, including a former lawmaker, for ‘committing crimes’ against humanity and siding with the security forces during the 1971 war of separation.

A three-judge panel of the International Crimes Tribunal of Bangladesh (ICT-BD) handed down the capital punishment to the six members of the Jamaat-e-Islami, saying the charges against them were ‘proved beyond doubt.’ Panel chair Justice Shahinur Islam pronounced that they be convicted accordingly and sentenced to death under section 20(2) of the International Crimes (Tribunals) Act, 1973.

The verdict came as Bangladesh nearly completed the long-delayed trial of what it called ‘1971 war crimes’ since the high-powered tribunal was established in 2010. The tribunal is charged with the task to try persons responsible for committing ‘genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes and other crimes’ under the international law committed during the 1971 war.

The six men sentenced to death hail from Gaibandha, northwestern area, and belong to the Jamaat-e-Islami party which was opposed to separation in 1971 and joined hands with the government’s efforts against miscreants and invaders. But only one of the six ‘convicts’ faced the trial in person while the rest, including former Jamaat lawmaker Abu Saleh Mohammad Abdul Aziz Mia, were tried in absentia as they were on the run.

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina Wajed

Under a special law, the convicts could challenge the judgement before the apex appellate division of the Supreme Court. Bangladesh has so far executed six ‘war crimes’ convicts, five of them Jamaat leaders and one Bangladesh Nationalist Party leader, since the trial process began in 2010.

Pakistan already denied that its armed forces had committed ‘war crimes’ during India-sponsored separation war in 1971. Foreign Affairs Ministry termed Dhaka’s reactions as baseless and unfounded assertions of Bangladesh against Pakistan. “It is regrettable that attempts have been made by the Bangladesh government to malign Pakistan, despite our ardent desire to develop brotherly relations,” it said.

“Pakistan believes that the peoples of both the countries not only want to maintain but also further strengthen bonds of friendship and brotherhood,” it said. The Amnesty International had said that death sentence for ‘war crimes’ would not bring justice to the victims of the 1971 war. Additionally, the defence team had consistently raised concerns that trial proceedings have not followed fair trial standards.





US says Hafiz Saeed a designated terrorist

Nov 23, 2017

WASHINGTON: Alleged Mumbai attack mastermind and banned Jamaat-ud-Dawah (JuD) chief Hafiz Saeed is a terrorist leader designated by both the United Nations and the United States, the Trump administration said on Wednesday, hours after a Pakistani court ordered his release from detention.

The banned Jamaat-ud-Dawah head, who carries a bounty of $10 million announced by the US for his role in terror activities, has been under detention since January this year.

“The US is aware of media reports that Pakistan (court) ordered the release of Lashkar-e-Taiba leader Hafiz Saeed from house arrest,” a state department spokesperson said when asked about the decision of the judicial review board of Punjab which refused to extend Saeed’s detention, reported Times of India.

As such, Saeed is all set to be released from house arrest after the expiry of the detention order tomorrow.

Responding to a question, the state department was quick to express its displeasure over the potential release of Saeed from house arrest.

In May 2008, the United States department of the treasury designated Saeed as a specially designated global terrorist under executive order 13224, the spokesperson

“Saeed was also individually designated by the United Nations under UNSCR 1267 (UN Security Council Resolution) in December 2008 following the November 2008 Mumbai attack,” the official said.

LeT and several of its front organisations, leaders, and operatives remain under both state department and treasury department sanctions, the state department official noted.

“The US reiterates its stance that LeT is a designated foreign terrorist organisation responsible for the death of hundreds of innocent civilians in terrorist attacks, including a number of American citizens,” the spokesperson told PTI.

The JuD is believed to be the front organisation for the banned Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) which is responsible for carrying out the Mumbai attack.



Pakistan welcomes US offer to take on Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan

November 23, 2017

WASHINGTON: Days before crucial talks with the US defence secretary, Pakistan has welcomed an American offer to take action against militants involved in cross-border raids from the Afghan soil, the Voice of America radio service reported on Wednesday.

The official US news outlet also reported that Pakistan believed the US offer “augurs well” for regional counterterrorism cooperation.

US Defence Secretary James Mattis is expected in Islamabad on Dec 3 for talks aimed at enlisting Pakistan’s support for implementing the new US strategy for Afghanistan. The strategy seeks to force the Taliban to join the Afghan peace process by defeating them in the battlefield.

Pakistan welcomes the US plan for persuading Taliban to seek reconciliation with the Afghan government but says that there’s no military solution to this dispute.

Earlier reports had suggested that the US military chief Gen Joseph Dunford could also visit Islamabad before Secretary Mattis for talks with his Pakistani counterpart and other senior officials. But official sources in Washington now say that Gen Dunford may not visit Islamabad, at least not before Secretary Mattis.

Diplomatic observers in Washington, however, see the US offer to take on TTP militants, and Pakistan’s acceptance of the offer, as a positive development.

In Rawalpindi, the chief spokesman for the Pakistani military, Major Gen Asif Ghafoor, told VOA his country had always offered and sought cooperation to strengthen border security.

“Unilaterally Pakistan, having cleared all areas on Pakistan side, has restored writ of [the] state, including steps like enhancing [troop] presence along the border [with Afghanistan], establishing new forts and posts and has also started to fence the border to deny freedom of movement to illegal crossers and terrorists,” Mr Ghafoor explained.

The offer to take action against anti-Pakistan militants came from Gen John Nicholson, who commands both US and Nato forces in Afghanistan.

Addressing a news conference in Kabul on Monday, Gen Nicholson said his offer was meant to discourage Pakistan’s army from shooting across the border into Afghanistan while responding to border raids by militants.

Full report at:



Hopes for blasphemy reforms fade as radicals gain ground in Pakistan

November 23, 2017

Islamic extremists in Pakistan are exploiting a minor constitutional amendment that could have allowed members of a moderate sect to vote without declaring themselves to be non-Muslims.

The Ahmadiyya Muslim sect believes Jesus sought to end religious conflict and are accused of not accepting that Mohammad was God’s final prophet.

The ruling party in Parliament immediately withdrew the minor change, which it described as a clerical error.

But that did not stop baton-wielding activists of a newly launched  the politico-religious group, Tehreek-e-Labaik Pakistan (TLP), from marching on the capital, Islamabad.

TLP, known for its hardline stance in support of anti-blasphemy laws impacting on Christian and other religious minorities, bagged more than 10 percent of votes in a recent by-election.

This was more than that of established political parties such as the Pakistan Peoples Party of slain former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto.

The TLP gained strength after the execution of Mumtaz Qadri, the elite force guard who murdered liberal governor Salmaan Taseer for speaking out against a death sentence for blasphemy on Catholic woman Asia Bibi.

The groups’ religious wing staged a week long agitation in Islamabad and forced the government to negotiate a six-point agreement on Nov 3.

Provisions of the agreement included a national consultation council to counter any deviant teaching that Mohammad was not the final prophet.

There is to be an investigation into whether there was a ‘conspiracy’ to amend the Constitution affecting voting rights of Ahmadiyya sect members. And Sunni Muslim scholars are to be given an opportunity to refute the contents of some video clips showing support for Ahmadis.

Another element of the agreement centered on assurances that Asia Bibi, a Catholic mother of five, not be sent abroad despite her blasphemy conviction.

Further, the government will continue to provide political, diplomatic and moral support for Muslims being persecuted in Myanmar, including through collaborative efforts with Turkey.

The federal government also gave the gave Islamic TLP representatives assurances that it would play a role in seeking to end a restriction on the number of loudspeakers in mosques in Punjab.

The abject surrender of the government to TLP demands only provides legitimacy and impunity for this radical group.

If a few thousand religious zealots are allowed to force a state to accept their illegitimate demands, the future looks rather bleak for a country already struggling to combat rising religious intolerance and violence.

As feared by some, the concessions the government granted still failed to satisfy the fundamentalists.

Only six days later, TLP brought thousands of supporters from Lahore to Islamabad and blocked a crucial interchange that connects the federal capital to other cities.

Presenting a new list of demands, they refused to hold talks with authorities unless Federal Law Minister Zahid Hamid resigns over his alleged role in the election law constitutional amendment.

"My family and I are ready to lay our lives for the honor of Prophet Mohammad," the law minister said.

He added that a separate voters’ list would be created for Ahmadis as they would not be included in a list reserved for mainstream Muslims.

Despite this, TLP did not agreed to end its road blockage in Islamabad.

In the light of gains by radical groups, it is not difficult to conclude that any reform of blasphemy laws in near future will be virtually impossible to achieve.

Christians and other minority groups, who are often at the receiving-end of blasphemy accusations, will have to live with the new reality.

But the most heartbreaking aspect is that a national action plan against terrorism and extremism chalked out by the government and security agencies is all but forgotten.

Full report at:



Pakistan's 'last Jew' Fishel Benkhald complains of anti-Semitism


Dubbed "Pakistan's last Jew," Fishel Benkhald, a resident of the southern Pakistani city of Karachi, was originally registered as a Muslim and was named Faisal Khalid. After several months of bureaucratic struggle and paperwork, he was finally recognized by the Islamic country's authorities as a Jew in March this year.

Benkhald claims he was born to a Muslim father and a Jewish mother. The South Asian country's National Database and Registration Authority (NADRA) usually does not entertain requests for changing religion on the basis of mother's faith. But the unprecedented decision by authorities to change his religion on the national identity card made the 29-year-old ecstatic. But since then he has been facing hostility in Pakistan, Benkhald told DW.

"When my landlord learnt about my Jewish identity, he asked me to vacate the apartment where I had been living for months," Benkhald said. "Obviously, he did not tell me why he took that decision, but I could sense it was because of my new religious status," he added.

Benkhald lives in Karachi's middle-class neighborhood, Korangi, and works in the mineral ore supply business.

"I rented another apartment in the same area because my children's school was in the vicinity. But I had to vacate that place as well, as the new landlord also learnt about my Jewish identity," Benkhald said.

Benkhald noted that his mother and father had met in Karachi and had a love marriage. He claims his maternal grandparents were Jews. "My father was a secular Muslim and he had no objection to my mother's faith. My mother never practiced Islam; however she was registered as a Muslim. In her heart, she was always a Jew. She taught me many things about Judaism."

Disowned by society and relatives

According to Pakistani media reports, there are about 745 registered Jewish families living in Pakistan. At the time of Pakistan's independence from British rule in 1947, the number of Jews, as well as those of Christians and Hindus, was much higher. But the Islamization of the country, especially since the 1980s, forced the members of religious minorities to either convert to Islam or flee the country.

Islamic extremism has increased manifold in Pakistan in the past few years, and religious hardliners often fan anti-Semitic sentiment that is mostly aimed at Israel. Benkhald said he experiences anti-Semitism on a regular basis.

"The society's attitude toward me changed completely after I got myself registered as a Jew," Benkhald told DW.

"Even my four brothers disowned me and declared me an apostate," he said.

In a report published on March 31 in Daily Pakistan newspaper, Mohammad Iqbal, who claims to be Benkhald's brother, said his brother's claim that their mother was a Jew was false.

"I'm his elder brother working in Saudi Arabia and would like to tell you that he [Benkhald] is… lying. Alhamdulillah [by god's grace], both our parents were Muslims…" Iqbal said.

Benkahlad says he understands why his relatives want to distance themselves from him. "Pakistan is a country where Ahmadis, Christians and Shiites are killed frequently on religious and sectarian grounds. There is immense hatred against the Jews in this country," he claimed, adding that he feared for his life under the present circumstances.

Full report at:



Gen Raheel appointed Saudi anti-terror alliance head

November 23, 2017

DOHA - Saudi Arabia on Wednesday announced that Pakistani General Raheel Sharif would command the Saudi-led Islamic Military Alliance to Fight Terrorism, according to the Saudi Press Agency (SPA), reported Turkish news agency Anadolu Agency.

Saudi Crown Prince and Defence Minister Mohammed bin Salman will chair the first meeting of the alliance’s council of defence ministers, the news agency reported. The meeting - a date for which has yet to be set - will tackle the alliance’s general strategies and planned initiatives in the war against terrorism in line with other international efforts to maintain regional peace and security.

General Sharif, for his part, said the alliance would “provide a practical umbrella for unifying the efforts of Islamic member states”.

Sharif took command of the Pakistani army in 2013. He retired from Pakistani military service in November of last year.

Full report at:



Arab World


Saudi capital to host inaugural meeting of Islamic Military Alliance on Nov 26

Nov 23, 2017

ISLAMABAD: Saudi Arabia is all set to host the inaugural meeting of the 41-nation Islamic Military Counter Terrorism Coalition (IMCTC) Ministers of Defense Council on November 26 under the theme of ‘Allied Against Terrorism’.

The meeting will involve the participation of Ministers of Defense of Coalition member countries and delegates from diplomatic missions and international organisations in Saudi Arabia, says an official handout issued by the Saudi government.

Though there was no official confirmation, an official source in the federal government told Pakistan Today that Pakistan, being one of the most important members of the alliance, would most probably be represented at the moot by the defence minister or any of his nominees.

“The confirmation would soon be made by the Ministry of Defence,” said the official.

Pakistan, since the formation of the alliance by Saudi Arabia, has been making all-out efforts to help mend tensions between Riyadh and Tehran.

Recently, Chief of Army Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa visited Iran to help allay its concerns about the possible role of the military alliance.

Pakistan had also stayed away from Yemen crisis and despite repeated requests by the Saudi government, the then army chief General Raheel Sharif did not agree to send troops to fight in Yemen. However, Pakistan has repeatedly pledged that its forces would be deployed in case of territorial integrity of Saudi Arabia or to safeguard the two grand mosques in Makkah and Madinah in case of an attack.

“I believe Pakistan must attend the inaugural moot of the military coalition, as it would decide the crucial terms of references (ToRs) for the alliance. Only the ToRs would decide the future course and scope of the alliance,” an official in the ministry of foreign affairs commented. “It would also determine if this alliance is aimed at threatening any Muslim country like Iran. Pakistan needs to play its role to ensure this alliance only fights terrorism and not against any fellow Muslim country.”

The meeting marks the official launch of the IMCTC and strengthens the cooperation and integration of member countries in the coalition.

“IMCTC is a pan-Islamic coalition of 41 countries that will coordinate and multiply their individual efforts to fight terrorism and extremism enabling them to work more effectively with other international security and peacekeeping efforts,” says the statement.

In December 2015, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia announced the formation of an Islamic Military Counter Terrorism Coalition (IMCTC) to form a unified pan-Islamic front against terrorism.

The centre’s mission is to build up the member the country’s counterterrorism capacity, exchange global best practice on specific IMCTC initiatives and create coordinated and thus more impactful efforts across the four IMCTC domains: ideology, communications, counter-terrorist financing, and military.

Pakistan was amongst the initial members of the alliance when it was formed with 34 member-states. Later, seven more members were added to the club. A military exercise also took place between the member-states. General (R) Raheel Sharif, the former army chief, had been appointed the chief of the IMCTC and he was tasked to develop the blueprint and mechanism of the functioning of the force.

The alliance, however, is being projected as a sectarian Sunni countries alliance, as Iran and some of its allies have been kept at bay. However, Islamabad has been pressing that the alliance should remain neutral as Pakistan would not indulge in any conflict between two Muslim states.

According to the handout, the IMCTC is a willing coalition of 41 countries that form a pan-Islamic unified front in the global fight against terrorism and violent extremism.

Strategic vision of the alliance allow member countries of this strategic coalition, with the support of peace-loving friendly nations and international organisations, to coordinate and unite their efforts in the ideology, communications, counter-terrorism financing, and military domains in order to fight all forms of terrorism and extremism, and to effectively join other international security and peacekeeping efforts

The objectives of the alliance include strengthening the contribution of Islamic countries towards global security and peace; complementing international counterterrorism efforts; reinforce solidarity and collaboration among coalition member countries to present a unified front against terrorist organisations and their attempts to destabilise security and distort the image of Islam and Muslims; counter radical ideology in coalition member countries through strategic communication campaigns to refute the radical and extremist narrative and propaganda; and reaffirm the moderate values of Islam and its principles of peace, tolerance and compassion.

“(The alliance will) combat terrorism financing in collaboration with member countries and international CTF authorities, to promote compliance with international agreements and advance legal, regulatory, and operational frameworks; and establish strategic partnerships between member countries, supporting nations and international organisations to share counterterrorism information and expertise”.

Chiefs of Staff from Islamic countries met in Riyadh in March 2016, and affirmed “their determination to intensify efforts in fighting terrorism through joint work according to their capabilities, based on the desire of each member country to participate in operations or programmes within the IMCTC framework as per its policies and procedures, and without compromising the sovereignty of the coalition member countries.”

They also expressed the importance of activating the launch of the IMCTC during the coming meeting of the Ministers of Defense of Coalition Member Countries.



Lebanon PM tells supporters he is standing with them

Nov 22, 2017

Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri says he will stand with his supporters after suspending his shock resignation, which he announced in Saudi Arabia earlier this month.

“I'm staying with you. We continue together... We are the people of moderation, the people of stability. We have all come here on the Independence Day to say we have nothing more precious than our country, we have nothing but our country,” Hariri addressed his supporters, who had swarmed the streets adjacent to his house in Beirut to celebrate his return to Lebanon.

“Our principles won't ever change, and our slogan will be: Lebanon first, Lebanon first, Lebanon first,” he concluded to the cheers of his followers.

The Lebanese prime minister arrived in Beirut late on Tuesday, more than two weeks after unexpectedly announcing he had quit his post. All political factions in Lebanon had called on him to return back home.

Top Lebanese officials and senior politicians close to Hariri had earlier said that he had been forced to resign, and that Saudi authorities were holding him captive.

Lebanese President Michel Aoun had also refused to accept Hariri's resignation.

Hariri announced his resignation in a televised statement on November 4, citing many reasons, including the security situation in Lebanon, for his sudden decision. He also said that he sensed a plot being hatched against his life.

Hariri accused Iran and Lebanese Hezbollah resistance movement of meddling in Arab countries’ affairs; an allegation the two have repeatedly denied.

Hariri became prime minister in 2016 after serving another term between November 2009 and June 2011.

Iran has vehemently rejected Hariri’s remarks, saying his resignation and rehashing of the “unfounded and baseless” allegations regularly leveled by Zionists, Saudis and the US were another scenario to create new tensions in Lebanon and elsewhere in the Middle East.

Full report at:



Iraqi forces unearth another Izadi mass grave in Sinjar

Nov 22, 2017

Iraqi security officials say government forces have found a mass grave in the country’s northern province of Nineveh, containing the bodies of dozens of members of Izadi minority, who are believed to have been executed by Takfiri Daesh terrorists when they were in control of a terrain.

Local official Chokor Melhem Elias told AFP on Wednesday that “the mass grave contains the bodies of 73 people, men, women and children executed by Daesh terrorists when they controlled... Sinjar.”

He said Iraqi forces made the latest discovery in the Rambussi area near the town of Qahtaniyah, located about 100 kilometers (62 miles) from Mosul.

Back in August 2014, Daesh terrorists overran Sinjar, killing, raping, and enslaving large numbers of Izadi Kurds.

The region was recaptured in November 2015, during an operation by Kurdish Peshmerga forces and Izadi fighters.

The Office of Kidnapped Affairs in the northern Iraqi city of Dohuk said earlier this year that around 3,500 Izadi Kurds were still being held captive by Daesh extremists, adding that a large proportion of the abductees were women and children.

The Endowments and Religious Affairs Ministry of the semi-autonomous Kurdistan Regional Government announced in early August that Daesh’s genocide against Izadis had forced nearly 360,000 members of the minority to flee their hometowns, and another 90,000 had left Iraq and taken refuge in others countries.

It added that Daesh militants have kidnapped 6,417 Izadi Kurds, including 1,102 women and 1,655 children, since 2014.

Additionally, 2,645 children have lost their first line of protection, and the number includes 220 kids whose parents are still being held captive.

Mass grave found northeast of Kirkuk

Full report at:



Syria Opp meets in Riyadh under pressure to compromise

November 23, 2017

RIYADH -  Syrian opposition figures met in Saudi Arabia on Wednesday in a bid to form an overhauled delegation to peace talks that analysts say may be more willing to compromise on key demands.

The meeting came as Iran, Russia and Turkey held a summit in the Black Sea resort of Sochi. During the summit, Vladimir Putin called for “concessions and compromise” from all parties in Syria’s six-year conflict.

The summit with Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani and Turkish leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan at the Black Sea resort of Sochi came two days after the Russian leader hosted surprise talks with the war-torn country’s President Bashar al-Assad there. “It is obvious that the reform process will not be simple, it will require compromise and concessions from all parties, including obviously the Syrian government,” Putin said.

“I count on the fact that Russia, Iran and Turkey will put in their best efforts to make this work as productive as possible,” he added.

Putin added that there was a “real chance” to end Syria’s war which monitors say has killed more than 330,000 people as he said Russia, Turkey and Iran had managed to prevent the collapse of the war-torn country.

Turkey’s Erdogan for his part said the three countries had to intensify efforts to try to settle the crisis.

“We need to make significant progress on the political solution,” he said in translated remarks.

“I believe that we will make critical decisions here.”

Iran’s Rouhani said the three countries’ strategy was “based on partnership and not competition, on friendship and not on animosity” “By cooperating, our countries destroyed the decaying body of terror” in Syria , he said.

Russia claims to have practically ended the military conflict through its intervention, but the various sides in Syria are far from a political agreement.

The Riyadh meeting was co-chaired by the UN’s Syria envoy, Staffan de Mistura, and Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir, who said the aim was to reach a “fair solution” to the conflict.

De Mistura said the goal was to give momentum to next week’s talks in Geneva by forging a unified opposition delegation, as long demanded by the Syrian government.

He said he would travel to Moscow on Thursday for talks with Russian officials. “I’m always optimistic... especially in this moment,” he said.

The 140 or so delegates from a wide range of opposition platforms are under heavy pressure to row back on some of their more radical demands after a series of recent battlefield victories that have given President Bashar al-Assad’s regime the upper hand. Absent are several former leading figures who were seen as unwilling to compromise .

Among them is Riad Hijab, who stepped down as leader of the Saudi-backed opposition High Negotiations Committee (HNC) ahead of the meeting complaining that there were “attempts to lower the ceiling of the revolution and prolong the regime”. Multiple rounds of talks hosted by the UN have failed to bring an end to the war in Syria , which has killed more than 330,000 people since 2011 and forced millions from their homes. Factions opposed to Assad have been plagued by divisions throughout the maelstrom.

Participants in the Riyadh meeting include members of the Istanbul-based National Coalition as well as of rival Cairo- and Moscow-based groups seen as more favourable to the regime, and independent figures. Qadri Jamil, who heads the Moscow-based group, on Wednesday announced he would not be attending the talks, citing what he said was the Syrian opposition’s inability to agree on “the bases and principles” of their stance at the Saudi summit.

The National Coalition meanwhile said Jamil had pulled out after “disagreement over an article on Bashar al-Assad stepping down and the start of a transitional phase” in Syria .

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said he expected that the withdrawal of Hijab and other hardliners in recent days would “help the Syria-based and foreign-based opposition unite on a constructive basis”.

Observers said it could clear the way for a new negotiating team that would water down some of the opposition’s longstanding demands, notably Assad’s immediate ouster.

His fate has been one of the chief obstacles to progress in peace talks, with the opposition demanding he step down at the start of any transition.

“The Saudi pitch to the Syrian opposition has been that denial will only make the situation worse, and that they have to rethink their strategy,” said Hassan Hassan, a fellow at the Tahrir Institute for Middle East Policy in Washington.

“The problem... is that the political opposition does not see it that way, and most activists are still struck in the 2012 thinking, that Assad has to be toppled.”

Ahead of the meeting, dozens of prominent civilian and armed opposition figures appealed to participants not to compromise on the “ouster of Bashar al-Assad and his gang”.

“No one should back down or quietly circumvent” it, they said in an online statement.

HNC member Yehya al-Aridi acknowledged some participants, notably the Moscow platform, were more flexible on the president’s future.

But they “do not represent the choices of the revolution or the Syrian people,” Aridi told AFP.

And Hisham Marwah, another National Coalition member, said his group’s “positions toward Assad have not changed”.

Full report at:



US Dissolving FSA-Affiliated Terrorist Groups in Southern Syria

Nov 22, 2017

The Arabic-language al-Hadath news reported that the FSA-affiliated group of Jeish Maqavir al-Thowrah has fired 180 members from the US-established al-Tanf base in Southeastern Homs after paying them $2,000 each.

In the meantime, some sources disclosed that Washington intends to end supporting the FSA and provide back up only for the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF).

Analyst believe that heavy defeats the terrorist groups have suffered in battle against the Syrian Army troops and the militant group's inefficiency to meet the US' objective have been the main causes behind Washington's decision to cut cooperation with the anti-Damascus militant groups.

Spokesman for the Maqavir al-Thowrah Abu Athir Khabouri denied dissolution of the FSA-affiliated groups under pressure by Joran and the US, and claimed that the move has been done to get rid of those fighters who violated the group's rules.

Dissident-affiliated websites reported on Monday that Washington called on terrorist groups to leave al-Tanf base in Southeastern Homs near the border with Jordan and deliver it to the Syrian Army following advances of the pro-government forces in Syria's Badiyeh (desert) in recent months.

The websites reported that the US Forces Command in al-Tanf base recently declared to the terrorist groups that their mission ended and they had to leave their positions in al-Tanf for other terrorist-held regions in Northern Syria.

Full report at:



Syrian Army One Step Closer to Lay Siege on Terrorists in Eastern Deir Ezzur

Nov 22, 2017

The source said that the army men are attacking ISIL's positions in two flanks from the Southern direction of the town of al-Mayadeen towards the town of Albu Kamal and from Albu Kamal towards al-Mayadeen to pave the ground for laying siege on the terrorists in Eastern Deir Ezzur.

The army men stormed ISIL's position near the two small towns of Ashayer and al-Qabra North of Albu Kamal, capturing several positions, the source said, adding that the army soldiers will have only 20 km to the positions of the pro-government forces that are en route towards Albu Kamal from al-Mayadeen if they capture Ashayer and al-Qabra completely.

If the army men capture this 20-kilometer-long chunk, the siege on ISIL will be completed in Eastern Deir Ezzur.

Relevant reports said on Tuesday that the army troops were about to lay a full siege on the ISIL terrorists in Eastern Deir Ezzur after imposing control over the town of Albu Kamal, the last main bastion of the terrorists in Eastern Syria.

A military source said that the ISIL was only in control of two regions on the Western and Eastern banks of the Euphrates River after the army forces' strategic advances in Eastern Deir Ezzur and liberation of the town of Albu Kamal.

The source went on to say that ISIL was in control of a region as large as 7,500 sq/km from the Northwest of Badiyeh (desert) Albu Kamal to the Southeast of al-Sukhnah in Eastern Homs, adding that another region covering 6,500 sq/km of area from the North of Albu Kamal to the South of Merkadah in Hasaka province and between the Iraqi border and the Kurdish-held Thowar region was under the control of the ISIL terrorists.

Full report at:



Deir Ezzur: Syrian Army Advances 40 km against Terrorists towards Albu Kamal

Nov 22, 2017

The army soldiers drove ISIL out of the towns and villages of Zahr al-Nasrani, Sheikh Ali, Wadi al-Khour, Fezeh Ahmad al-Hayfan, Wadi Faliteh and Wadi al-Seil, advancing 40 km along al-Mayadeen-Albu Kamal road in Southeastern Deir Ezzur.

The army men also pushed ISIL back from the regions of Araz Talhat Malham, Wadi al-Abyaz, Wadi Oweina, Wadi al-Ward, Tal Malham and Sha'ab Kha'an en route to Albu Kamal.

A military source reported that the army men are just 25 km away from areas where their comrades are stationed in the village of al-Ashayer North of Albu Kamal.  

Relevant reports said on Tuesday that the army troops were about to lay a full siege on the ISIL terrorists in Eastern Deir Ezzur after imposing control over the town of Albu Kamal, the last main bastion of the terrorists in Eastern Syria.

A military source said that the ISIL was only in control of two regions on the Western and Eastern banks of the Euphrates River after the army forces' strategic advances in Eastern Deir Ezzur and liberation of the town of Albu Kamal.

The source went on to say that ISIL was in control of a region as large as 7,500 sq/km from the Northwest of Badiyeh (desert) Albu Kamal to the Southeast of al-Sukhnah in Eastern Homs, adding that another region covering 6,500 sq/km of area from the North of Albu Kamal to the South of Merkadah in Hasaka province and between the Iraqi border and the Kurdish-held Thowar region was under the control of the ISIL terrorists.

Full report at:



Saudi minister says Syria crisis solution requires consensus

22 November 2017

Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir told representatives of the Syrian opposition meeting in Riyadh on Wednesday that the only solution to the crisis in Syria was through a consensus that would achieve the demands of the Syrian people.

"There is no solution to the crisis without a Syrian consensus that would achieve the demands of the Syrian people on the basis of Geneva 1 and (UN Security Council) resolution 2254," Jubeir, said speaking in Arabic at the meeting.

UN peace talks mediator Staffan de Mistura urged the opposition figures gathered for the conference in Riyadh to have the “hard discussions” necessary to reach a “common line”.

“A strong unified team is a creative partner in Geneva and we need that, one who can actually explore more than one way to arrive to the goals that we need to have,” he said in opening remarks.

It was not immediately clear how Hijab’s absence would affect the talks. Several opposition figures said he had taken an uncompromising line that rejected a role for Assad in a UN sponsored Geneva based peace process.

Some opposition members have hinted that the new communique would drop the long standing demand by the Riyadh based main opposition, referring to the next round of UN.-sponsored talks.

The summit, which Saudi Arabia called “expanded”, was opened to more than 140 opposition figures from the Turkey-based coalition and mainstream Free Syrian Army factions as well as independents including about a dozen women.

The HNC has represented the Syrian opposition at previous Geneva talks, while a number of other political opposition groups and figures backed by other countries including Russia and Egypt also exist.

Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir said the only solution to the conflict was through a consensus that would achieve the demands of the Syrian people.

“There is no solution to the crisis without a Syrian consensus that would achieve the demands of the Syrian people on the basis of Geneva 1 and (UN Security Council) resolution 2254,” he said.

The Moscow group of Syrian political activists led by a former deputy Prime Minister Qadri Jamil said they turned down an invitation to attend the conference, accusing the members of the main HNC opposition of thwarting efforts to set up a single delegation.

“We consider the effort of some of the opposition to exploit the meeting as a platform for their own political ends goes against Saudi Arabia’s efforts to form a unified delegation,” Jamil said in a statement.

Russia has led a campaign to push for the merger of the Moscow group into a single delegation with the HNC. The main opposition body says it is a stooge of Moscow to sow divisions within their ranks.

The opposition meeting is set to last until Friday, when a joint statement is expected. Several rounds of UN talks in Geneva between the Damascus government and the opposition have made little progress since the Syria conflict erupted in 2011.

Assad’s exit to be discussed at Riyadh meet

Head of the Information Department at the National Coalition for Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces (NCSROF) Ahmed Ramadan said earlier that the Riyadh Conference will discuss a political document, which includes a stipulation that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad exits from power.

In an interview with Al Arabiya, a member of the NCSROF, Hisham Marwa, said that that the Riyadh conference will not justify Assad’s survival as president. The opposition in Riyadh adhere to the principles of the revolution, he added.

Meanwhile, the Syrian High Negotiations Committee (HNC) has witnessed a series of resignations starting with the Head of the opposition Riyad Hijab, who submitted his resignation on Monday evening.

Following Hijab was: Mohammed Sabra, the opposition delegation’s chief negotiator; Khaled Khoja; Salem al-Musallat; Suheir Atassi and Riyad Naasan Agha.

Al Arabiya learned that the resignations affected 10 people.

Speaking to Al Hadath, sources said that most members of the HNC were not invited to the Riyadh Conference, except for the head of the organization, Riyad Hijab.

The Syrian opposition meeting began in Riyadh in a bid to unify the group’s position ahead of peace talks backed by the United Nations to end the country’s six-year civil war.

The summit comes after a surprise visit by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to Russia a day earlier to meet President Vladimir Putin, who later discussed the conflict with US President Donald Trump and other Middle East leaders.

Full report at:



Egypt arrests 29 over espionage for Turkey

Nov 22, 2017

Egyptian prosecutors have ordered the detention for two weeks of 29 suspected members of the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood on charges they spied for Turkey.

A prosecution statement Wednesday says the 29 illegally facilitated international calls made by people in Egypt through Turkish-based servers offered at discounted charges.

The statement accuses them of then eavesdropping on the calls to gather information on conditions in Egypt that they passed onto Turkish intelligence.

The money earned from the calls was allegedly also used to set up media platforms outside Egypt that used the information to spread fake news and rumors to incite Egyptians against their government.

Full report at:





Iranian teenage musicians to perform in Denmark

Nov 22, 2017

A group of Iranian teenage musicians will perform at a music festival in Denmark later this month.

The young musicians will perform at the NYT music festival and the University of Copenhagen on November 25 and 27.

During the concerts, the young musicians and composers will perform pieces based on the tale of Bijan and Manijeh from Shahnameh, the book of renowned Iranian epic poet Ferdowsi.

The pieces will include a trio of Iranian musical instrument Santour, Cello and Piano.

Additionally, the ensemble will play pieces from Iranian composer Amir Mahyar Tafreshipour, Danish musician Mogens Christensen and German composer Bernd Hänschke.

The performance is jointly organized by the Danish embassy in Tehran and the Birkerod music academy.



Presidents of Iran, Russia, Turkey hold Syria talks in Sochi

Nov 22, 2017

The Iranian, Russian and Turkish presidents hold a trilateral meeting on the Syria crisis in the Black Sea resort of Sochi.

The Wednesday talks between Hassan Rouhani, Vladimir Putin and Recep Tayyip Erdogan come as Iran, Russia and Turkey are acting as the guarantors of a ceasefire that took effect in Syria late last year.

Rouhani lauded the defeat of the Daesh terror group in Iraq and Syria, but underlined the need for continued battle against terrorism until the eradication of all Takfiri terrorist outfits in Syria.

He blamed foreign interference for the conflict in Syria, saying certain countries claiming to be advocates of democracy wrecked havoc in the Arab country to achieve their goals in the region.

“If regional nations and countries are to learn a lesson from the fabricated crisis in Syria today, it is that they should know certain powers claiming to advocate democracy and human rights spare no effort like using terrorism and violence to achieve their short-sighted objectives in the region, Rouhani said.

“The lesion that these powers have not learned is that repercussions of terrorism and extremism will not be confined to a region other parts of the world will not be safe from the ominous phenomena,” he added.

He said that after the defeat of Daesh, the sponsors of terrorism were now seeking to create tensions and cast doubt on efforts by certain regional countries, including Iran, and resistance fighters aimed at restoring stability to the region.

The Iranian president expressed regret that that certain countries followed the US and Israel’s suit in creating rifts and division among regional nations, noting such countries are accountable for their malicious policies of fomenting ethnic and religious rifts.

Elsewhere in his remarks, Rouhani stressed that Iran pursued an approach based on cooperation, not competition, coordination not confrontation, peace not warmongering and respecting the will of nations rather than following foreign powers. 

He said that no foreign intervention was acceptable in Syria, adding that any foreign military presence in the Arab country may only be acceptable if it is by the invitation of the Damascus government.

The role of the international community in the future of Syria should be to contribute to efforts to restore stability, alleviate the sufferings of people and reconstruct the country without any political motive.

Speaking alongside Putin and Rouhani, Erdogan pointed to preliminary meetings prior to the Sochi tripartite summit, saying the consolidations yielded positive and tangible results, but stressed that more efforts were needed to find an effective solution.

The Turkish leader said it was vital for all parties to contribute to a political solution in the Syrian crisis that would be acceptable for the Syrian people.

For his part, Putin called for "concessions and compromise" from all parties in Syria's conflict to end the crisis in the country.

Putin added that there was a "real chance" to end Syria's crisis, saying Russia, Turkey and Iran had managed to prevent the collapse of the war-torn country.

Iran, Russia, Turkey discuss Syrian people's congress in Sochi

Following their meeting, the three presidents attended a press conference and issued a joint statement. 

During the press conference, Rouhani said the tripartite meeting discussed holding an all-Syrian congress, which will see representatives from all sides in Sochi to exchange views on the fate of the country and pave the way for the drafting of a new constitution and elections.

Iran, Russia and Turkey invite all countries to help peace in the Middle East region, including in Syria, contribute to the reconstruction of Syria and return of refugees to their homes, he added.

Putin also said that the three leaders had agreed to a "congress" of Syria's government and opposition forces in Sochi, adding that had instructed their diplomats, security and defense bodies to work on the composition and date of the congress.

The congress would "gather representatives of different political parties, internal and external opposition" to discuss "the parameters of the future state," Putin said, adding that it would be "a stimulus for activating the efforts for Syria regulation in the framework of the Geneva process." 

Putin stressed the three presidents also agreed to step up efforts to finish off "terrorist" groups in Syria.

Erdogan also emphasized that the three nations would help stage a meeting of Syrian groups hosted by Russia and that they agreed to keep working on the peace process in Syria.  

Also in their joint statement after the talks, Putin, Rouhani and Erdogan reaffirmed their strong commitment to the sovereignty, independence, unity and territorial integrity of Syria.

They also stressed the determination of the three countries to continue working together to help restore peace in Syria and praised their cooperation aimed at safeguarding a ceasefire in Syria that came during the intra-Syrian talks brokered by the three countries in the Kazakh capital, Astana.

Iran, Russia and Turkey are acting as the guarantors of the ceasefire.

Meanwhile, in a post on his Twitter account on Wednesday, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said the Sochi summit aimed to “help Syrian people finally secure a just and lasting peace.”

“In Sochi with President Rouhani & Chief of Staff Bagheri at a historic summit with our counterparts from Russia and Turkey to help Syrian people finally secure a just and lasting peace. Moving in the right direction,” he wrote.

Prior to the meeting of the three leaders, Chief of Staff of the Iranian Armed Forces Major General Mohammad Baqeri attended a tripartite meeting with his Turkish and Russian counterparts in Sochi to exchange views about ways to enhance trilateral defense cooperation and to discuss the latest developments in Syria as well as trilateral cooperation on the fight against Daesh.

Meanwhile, in a separate tweet on Wednesday, Zarif made an apparent reference to a meeting between US President Donald Trump and Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz in May in Riyadh, saying there’s “no need for empty words or gimmicks -- including glowing orbs -- when you’re busy actually working for peace and against terror.”

Full report at:



‘Daesh one of numerous US-Zionist plots foiled by Iran’

Nov 22, 2017

Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei says Iran has managed to thwart several plots hatched by the US, Israel and the reactionary regimes in the Middle East, citing the elimination of the Daesh terror group as an example.

Addressing commanders and members of Iran’s Basij (volunteer) Force in Tehran on Wednesday, Ayatollah Khamenei said that the enemies tried to use the Takfiri group to confront the resistance movement, but the faithful youth stepped in and brought them to their knees.

The Leader said the collapse of Daesh was made possible on the back of efforts by those who have faith in resistance, describing it as a great achievement.

“Several consecutive plots by the US, Zionism and the reactionary [regimes] in the region were foiled by the authority of the Islamic Republic. One of them was the eradication of Daesh,” he stated.

On Monday, Major General Qassem Soleimani, the commander of the Quds Force of Iran’s Islamic Revolution Guards Corps, declared the annihilation of Daesh in both Iraq and Syria in a letter addressed to the Leader.

In response, Ayatollah Khamenei stated that the triumph over Daesh was a heavy blow to treacherous plots aimed at inciting a regional war, destroying the anti-Israel resistance front and undermining independent countries.

Full report at:



Tehran hosting conference on countering Takfirism

Nov 22, 2017

The Iranian capital has started hosting an international conference to discuss means of countering Takfirism.

The two-day event kicked off on Wednesday, with more than 500 Shia and Sunni scholars from 90 countries in attendance.

It aims to discuss ongoing attempts by actors within and outside Muslim countries to divide the Muslim world and portray it in a bad light.

Such attempts have manifested themselves, among other things, in spreading Takfirism. The extremist ideology, which features branding people of other faiths as “infidels,” is mostly rooted in Wahhabism, the radical ideology dominating Saudi Arabia.

The conference began with a keynote speech by Ali Akbar Velayati, a senior advisor to Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei and the chairman of the Islamic Awakening International Assembly.

Velayati (seen below) said Islam’s enemies seek to subjugate Muslim countries, create insecurity within them, and plunder their resources by whatever means at their disposal, including the propagation of Takfirism.

The phenomenon, he suggested, had come in the way of Islamic Awakening, the widespread protest movement that began around seven years ago and deposed dictatorship in a number of countries in North Africa and the Middle East.

The ill-wishers are seeking to paint a dark picture of Islam based on the Wahhabi model by revitalizing the pre-Islamic era ignorance, which allowed such reprehensible atrocities as the beheading of children, the immolation of men, and assaulting women, Velayati said.

However, parts of the Muslim world, he said, had witnessed heartening developments thanks to national resolve and the support of the resistance movement.

Full report at:





Muslim Groups See Red over a TV Journalist’s Tweet

Mohammed Wajihuddin

Nov 23, 2017

MUMBAI: Complaints have been filed by Muslim groups against a TV journalist after he tweeted about the 'Sexy Durga' film controversy making references to female icons in Islam and Christianity.

Complaints were filed against Rohit Sardana at around half a dozen police stations in the city for allegedly hurting religious sentiments. Naya Nagar police at Mira Road invoked IPC sections 295A (deliberate and malicious acts, intended to outrage religious feelings or any class by insulting its religion or religious beliefs), 153A (promoting enmity between different groups on ground of religion, race, place of birth, residence, language, etc) and 67 (IT) Act.

Sardana's tweet on November 16 made a reference to women in Islam and Christianity including Prophet Muhammad's wife Ayesha, daughter Fatima and Mary, the mother of Jesus Christ.

Muslim groups demanded action against Sardana and said his tweet, which has gone viral, was aimed at creating disharmony. "This is another attempt to get cheap publicity. We don't know if he tried to appease some of his political masters or ideological gurus but his words have hurt us deeply and we condemn it," said Mohammed Abbas Rizwan Khan, president of Muslims' Association of Peace and Harmony. Khan added that Muslim groups would protest peacefully on Friday if Sardana was not arrested.

"We have received a written complaint from a Muslim organization and further action will be taken after investigations," said Kiran Kale, senior inspector at Versova police station.

"By his slander, he (Sardana) has hurt the entire Indian community across religious boundaries," said Anjuman-E-Khadim-E-Hussain Trust in its complaint to Versova police.

Nagpada-based Anfaal Foundation, in its complaint to Byculla police, demanded an FIR against Sardana. Copies of the complaint have been sent to chief minister Devendra Fadnavis and police commissioner Dattatray Padsalgikar.

Kerala high court had ordered that the award-winning film, 'S Durga' aka 'Sexy Durga', be screened at the 48th International Film Festival of India (IFFI) in Goa. Film director Sanal Kumar Sasidharan had challenged its exclusion from IFFI.



Soldier, terrorist killed as Army foils infiltration bid

by Mir Ehsan

November 23, 2017

A soldier and an infiltrator were killed and two jawans were injured as the Army on Wednesday foiled an infiltration bid along the Line of Control in north Kashmir’s Keran sector. The Army patrol and a group of militants exchanged fire in Keran sector around 1.30 pm, leaving three soldiers injured, officials said. One soldier succumbed to injuries in the hospital.

“One terrorist was killed in the operation. A soldier lost his life and two others sustained injuries,” a defense spokesman said, adding that the operation is underway and there is a possibility of more infiltrators hiding in the area.

The incident took place about 15 km away from the Khurama forests near Gujjarpati where the Army launched an operation against militants. While Army and special para commandos are still in the area, they are yet to establish contact with the militants.

Full report at:



Rohingya get ‘nationality verification’ forms, they call it a grim reminder

by Somya Lakhani

November 23, 2017

A “nationality verification” form sent out by the Delhi Police to Rohingya living in the capital a fortnight ago has caused some discomfiture within the community. The form comes against the backdrop of the Ministry of Home Affairs issuing an advisory on August 8, titled ‘Identification of illegal migrants and monitoring thereof’, which had asked states to “take prompt steps in identifying illegal migrants and initiate deportation processes expeditiously and without delay”.

“We have no clarity on which body has asked the police to send us these forms. When we first got the forms, many from the community refused to fill them, fearing that it could lead to us being sent back to Myanmar. We convinced those people and submitted the forms,” said 29-year-old Sabbir, founder of the Rohingya Human Rights Initiative (ROHRIngya).

The five-page form has questions pertaining to education details, occupation before leaving Myanmar, colour of eyes and hair, Myanmar home address, details of leaving the country, place of departure from Myanmar or Bangladesh, mode of transport, passport details and case details of Myanmar nationals arrested.

There is also a question on “name, address and telephone number of travel agent or any other person/agency involved in sending the individual to India”. DCP (southeast) Romil Baaniya said, “This census happens from time to time, and is a routine exercise to know the number of people living in the area from that community”. Abdul Khan, 29, who lives in Vikaspuri, said, “We have the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) refugee card, but the form doesn’t even ask us our status. It paints everyone with the same brush.”

Hearing a plea filed by two Rohingya Muslim refugees, who had challenged the Centre’s decision to deport them on October 13, the Supreme Court had deferred the hearing on the matter, but had allowed the petitioners to approach it in case of any emergency. Thirty-two-year-old Mohammad Ismail, who lived in Khajuri and came to Delhi in 2009, said the form “brings back memories of filling similar forms every six months when he lived in Rakhine State in Myanmar”.

Full report at:





Man armed with knife hunted for Muslims to stab and told police he was a 'martyr for England'

Nov 23, 2017

A man who armed himself with a 10-inch knife and hunted for Muslims to stab in London has been jailed after claiming he would become a “a martyr for England”.

Police said Mickey Sage, 24, “pulled a knife on people asking them if they were Muslim” in Camberwell Green in the early hours of 7 June.

He was stopped and searched by officers before carrying out his plan but declared his intentions while being taken into custody, making Islamophobic comments.

Sage went to claim that “he would be a martyr for England and stab an imam in the neck”, police said.

Sage, of no fixed abode, pleaded guilty to threatening a person with a knife in a public place and accepted the incident was religiously aggravated.

A judge at Inner London Crown Court sentenced him to two years and three months in prison.

The court heard that police were called to near Camberwell Green Magistrates' Court by people reporting that a man was threatening people with a knife at 1.45am.

Minutes later, the alarm was raised at the nearby junction between Camberwell Green and Camberwell Church Street over a man with a knife who was asking people whether they were Muslim.

The Metropolitan Police said several “alarmed and distressed members of the public” were at the scene and directed them to Sage, telling them where he had hidden the knife nearby.

Sage was arrested for possession of an offensive weapon and while being taken back to the police station, he told the arresting officer “it was my knife and I was out to kill a Muslim”, Scotland Yard said.

Detective Constable Samuel Cafferty said: “Sage set out with a large knife with the clear intention to find Muslims to stab. Hate crime like this has no place in any society.

“Sage poses a very clear and present danger to members of the public, particularly the Muslim community and I'm pleased that he now has plenty of time to consider his actions.

“Members of public confronted by Sage were not harmed but shaken by their ordeal and managed to get away from what could have been a very different ending.”

Scotland Yard is urging people to tell them about hate crime, which remains largely under-reported, and says it will investigate all allegations fully.

The case comes after reported hate crimes rocketed by almost a third in England and Wales over the past year – a statistic officials said reflected both a “genuine rise around the EU referendum” and better recording by police.

Home Office data shows spikes in racially or religiously-aggravated offences, including a series of attacks on mosques, following the Isis-linked attacks in Westminster, Manchester and London Bridge.

A man accused of deliberately mowing down Muslim worshippers in Finsbury Park, leaving one man dead on 19 June, is to go on trial in January.

More than a quarter of people referred to the Government’s Channel counter-extremism programme were suspected of right-wing extremism in 2015/2016, with the majority Islamists, and officials expect the number to rise.

National Action became the first far-right group to be banned as a terrorist organisation in the UK last year, followed by its aliases Scottish Dawn and NS131, after it supported the murder of Jo Cox.

Several alleged members have been arrested on suspicion of terror offences, including a man accused of plotting to murder another Labour MP with a machete.

Hate crime can be reported through 999 in an emergency, by dialling 101 in a non-emergency, directly at a police station, through the MOPAC Hate Crime app or through community reporting methods such as Tell MAMA, Galop, or the Community Safety Trust.



Bosnian Muslim leader urges Serbs to ‘accept the truth’

November 23, 2017

SARAJEVO: Bosnian Muslim leader Bakir Izetbegovic on Wednesday urged ethnic Serbs to “accept the truth” after a UN court sentenced Bosnian Serb wartime military chief Ratko Mladic to life imprisonment for genocide during the 1990s war.

“Accepting of the truth is the only path, the only way, that the future in this country will become better that the past,” Izetbegovic told a press conference in Sarajevo.

The Hague-based UN tribunal ruled that Mladic, widely known as the “Butcher of Bosnia”, will spend the rest of his days behind bars after finding him guilty on 10 charges of war crimes and genocide during the inter-ethnic war in the 1990s.

“No people, neither Serbian, should call Ratko Mladic a hero, make songs about him, glorify crimes,” Izetbegovic said.

He said he was convinced that Serbs do not identify themselves with Mladic and his crimes which he said should be “put on Ratko Mladic and removed from the Serbian people’s shoulders.”

“It is of crucial importance for future in Bosnia-Hercegovina, notably for inter-ethnic ties, to remove such burden from people and place it on individuals.”

“The past is behind us, it is worth referring to only as much as it can influence a better future.”

Full report at:



‘Butcher of Bosnia’ gets life in war crimes case

Nov 22, 2017

The UN tribunal on war crimes in the former Yugoslavia has convicted ex-Bosnian Serb general Ratko Mladic to life in prison for ordering the massacre of 8,000 Muslim men and boys in Srebrenica in 1995.

Initially looking relaxed, Mladic listened intently as presiding Judge Alphons Orie began reading the judgment on 11 charges during a court session at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) on Wednesday. However, Mladic was later removed from the court for causing disruptions during the reading of the verdict.

The Srebrenica massacre was Europe’s worst atrocity since World War Two. Mladic had pleaded not guilty to all of the 11 charges and is expected to appeal.

Prosecutors had demanded a life sentence for the 74-year-old former general, who was the Bosnian Serb army commander during Bosnia’s 1992-95 conflict and was also charged with crimes against humanity over the siege of Sarajevo, during which 11,000 civilians were killed by shelling and sniper fire.

At the time, Srebrenica, which is located near Bosnia’s eastern border with Serbia, had been designated a “safe area” by the United Nations and was defended by lightly-armed UN peacekeepers, who nevertheless surrendered when Mladic’s forces stormed the area on July 11, 1995.

Dutch peacekeepers stood by helplessly as Serb forces separated Muslim men and boys from women, then transported the males out of sight on buses or marched them away to be shot dead.

Mladic’s lawyers argued that his responsibility for murder and the ethnic cleansing of civilians by Serb forces and allied paramilitaries was never proven beyond reasonable doubt and that he should not get any more than 15 years if convicted.

Nicknamed the “Butcher of Bosnia,” Mladic is still viewed by some of his compatriots as a national hero for leading the rapid capture of 70 percent of Bosnia after its Serbs revolted against a Muslim-Croat declaration of independence from Yugoslavia.

According to prosecutors, the ultimate scheme pursued by Mladic, Bosnian Serb political leader Radovan Karadzic, and Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic was to purge Bosnia of non-Serbs — a strategy that became known as “ethnic cleansing” — and carve out a “Greater Serbia” from the ashes of the old federal Yugoslavia.

Arguing for life imprisonment for Mladic, Prosecutor Alan Tieger said anything else “would be an insult to victims and an affront to justice.”

Mladic was indicted along with Karadzic in 1995, shortly after the Srebrenica killings, but evaded capture until 2011.

Full report at:



South Asia


New hit-list to target Bangladeshi bloggers recovered: STF

Dwaipayan Ghosh

Nov 23, 2017

KOLKATA: The Ansarullah Bangla Team - rechristened the Ansar-ul-Islam and banned in Bangladesh since March this year - has now made a new list of Bangladeshi bloggers whom they want to eliminate. The Special Task force (STF) which arrested three persons at Kolkata station on Tuesday and busted a module claimed they now have the names of the executioners. The information has been shared with Bangladesh, confirmed top Lalbazar sources adding that the first name in the hitlist is that of blogger Farukh Sadiq. "None of those who have been arrested are part of the core strike team," said a senior officer.

According to sources, at least six arms - of 7.32 mm and 9mm - have been smuggled through the porous India-Bangladesh border in the past six months by ABT modules. "While arms smuggler Monotosh De has sent a couple of weapons through other ABT members, we also have a list of at least two other Bengal based smugglers who has been dealing directly with ABT men. This particular module - especially member Samsad Mian alias Tanvir (26), along with Rizaul Islam alias Riyaz - was trying to procure chemicals like ammonium nitrate from shops in Kolkata. That was the specific instruction they had to execute," said a source.

According to Lalbazar sources, the duo of Tanvir and Riyaz entered India in July 2016. "Their agent took them to the Manegura area of Hyderabad that has several slaughter houses and mutton factories. Several Bangladeshis are employed in these factories. They worked here for around three months before the company they were working faced a closure."

The two men then moved to Belgaum in north Karnataka and began working in a similar factory along with a few other Bangladeshis. It was here that they prepared their fake Aadhaar cards. Tanvir had settled here - he even was operating a bank account - when he was instructed to move to Pune. It was here that they even worked as construction labour despite the fact that Tanvir is a civil engineer himself. The duo complained back to Bangladesh that they needed to shift and accordingly Tanvir shifted back to Hyderabad and landed a job of a computer hardware engineer.

"Around September this year, the instructions from Bangladesh came for them to begin moving for the sake of "strengthening the module." Thus, the two men first went to Patna and then to Ranchi before finally arriving in Kolkata on Dashami. Their handler asked them to find a shelter in the city or its surroundings," said a top STF official.

Full report at:



‘Hefazat-e-Islam is not the property of an individual or a particular family’

November 22, 2017

Bangladesh Nejam-e-Islam Party (BNIP) Chairman Mufti Izharul Islam made the statement

Hefazat-e-Islam Bangladesh has said the radical group is not the property of any individual or a particular family.

Chairman of Bangladesh Nejam-e-Islam Party (BNIP) Mufti Izharul Islam, who is also the nayeb-e-ameer of Hefazat-e-Islam, made the statement through a press release on Wednesday.

“Hefazat-e-Islam is the result of the blood and sweat of thousands of devoted Muslims and Islamic scholars. The organization is not the property of any individual or a particular family. Nobody can destroy the popularity or the tradition of the organization,” said Izhar.

He also said that strict measures would be taken against anyone who wished to use the organization for personal interests.

“We were taken aback when we came across a news that said Hefazat would extend its support to the Awami League, so that the party could retain state power, in exchange for 20 parliamentary seats,” Izhar said.

Full report at:



Taliban commanders Killed In Wardak Operation

November 22, 2017

At least sixteen Taliban insurgents were killed in a  clearance operation in Maidan Wardak province on Tuesday, Wardak police said in a statement on Wednesday, reported Tolo News.

According to the statement the operation was conducted by Afghan police, the army, special forces and commandos.

So far sixteen Taliban insurgents have been killed including key commanders Qari Yousof, Qari Mustafa and Qari Farid who got their military training in Pakistan, the statement said.

Three other insurgents were seriously wounded, the statement added.

During the operation ten villages were cleared and the operation is ongoing in Ali Khel, Zamni, Zeyolat, Ismail Khel, Mohammad Noor Khel and Dar-e-Kuhna Khomar villages.

Full report at:



Afghan forces thwart militants plot to target Kabul with BM-1 rocket

Nov 22 2017

The Afghan security forces have foiled a plot of the anti-government armed militants to target the Kabul city with a BM-1 rocket.

Officials in Criminal Investigation Department in Kabul said the security forces discovered and defused a BM-1 rocket before the militants to target the city with it.

The officials further added that the rocket was prepared and ready to be fired when the security forces discovered it from Sang-e-Nawesht area of Kabul at around 11 am on Tuesday.

The anti-government armed militant groups have not commented regarding the report so far.

This comes as the Afghan intelligence operatives foiled a coordinated attack plan by the notorious Haqqani terrorist network in Kabul city.

The National Directorate of Security (NDS) in a statement said the Afghan forces discovered a cache of mines, explosives, and weapons prepared by the terror network for the attack.

The statement further added that the cache was discovered from the vicinity of the 7th police district of the city which included ten magnetic bombs, a suicide bombing vest, mobile phones, and weapons.

The explosives and mines were destroyed on the spot, NDS said, adding that the Haqqani network was looking to use the explosives for coordinated attacks in the city.

anti-government armed militant groups have been attempting to carry out terrorist attacks in the key cities of the country, including capital Kabul amid mounting pressure on them in the battlefield.

At least eighteen people were killed and several others were wounded after a suicide bomber detonated his explosives in Kabul city on Thursday afternoon.

Full report at:



U.S. declares attacks on Burmese Rohingya Muslims ‘ethnic cleansing’

By Carol Morello and Max Bearak

November 22, 2017

The United States on Wednesday declared the violence and atrocities against the Rohingya Muslim minority in Burma to be a campaign of “ethnic cleansing,” and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson warned that U.S. sanctions may be forthcoming.

Tillerson blamed the Burmese military and security forces as well as local vigilantes for what he called “horrendous atrocities” that have caused more than 600,000 Rohingya to flee Burma’s western Rakhine state for the safety of neighboring Bangladesh. But he placed most of the criticism on the government, demanding the security forces respect human rights and punish the guilty.

“Those responsible for these atrocities must be held accountable,” he said in a statement, reiterating his call for an independent investigation into what has caused a refu­gee crisis in which Rohingya men have been executed, women raped and their babies murdered.

“The United States will also pursue accountability through U.S. law, including possible targeted sanctions,” he added, suggesting sanctions might be directed against specific Burmese officials.

Many members of Congress and human rights groups had been urging Tillerson for months to adopt the “ethnic cleansing” terminology. And others have used even stronger language. French President Emmanuel Macron has called it genocide. Amnesty International has called the violence in Burma “dehumanizing apartheid,” and Human Rights Watch has termed it crimes against humanity.

State Department officials noted that ethnic cleansing is not recognized internationally as a crime and triggers no punitive measures against Burma, which is also known as Myanmar.

But it sets the stage to exert more pressure on Burmese officials if they fail to take actions such as giving humanitarian groups and the press access to Rakhine state and guaranteeing safety to those who voluntarily return home.

Tillerson made a brief visit last week to Burma, where he talked with State Counselor Aung San Suu Kyi and the head of the armed forces.

The Burmese military has denied committing atrocities during “clearance operations” to battle Muslim insurgents in the predominantly Buddhist nation. An internal investigation cleared the military of any wrongdoing.

On Aug. 25, militants belonging to the extremist Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army attacked outposts of Burmese security forces. According to human rights groups, those forces responded with a brutal and indiscriminate crackdown on Rohingya communities, drawing in local Buddhist mobs as they went.

“No provocation can justify the horrendous atrocities that have ensued,” Tillerson said in his statement.

Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh, as well as many who remain in Burma, have provided chilling testimony of the campaign, which they say was accompanied by widespread arson, rape and summary executions.

Human rights groups applauded Tillerson’s decision to start using the term “ethnic cleansing,” but they said more action was needed.

Eric P. Schwartz, president of Refugees International, said the move could be used by Washington to pressure other countries to take stronger measures, including a global arms embargo and the end of military-to-military relations.

“Secretary Tillerson’s statement is a necessary first step,” he said. “However, until the abuses against the Rohingya people end and full access is given to the international humanitarian aid and the U.N. fact-finding mission, such pressure and requisite actions will continue to be essential.”

Joanne Lin, head of advocacy and government relations for Amnesty International USA, said Tillerson’s acknowledgment of ethnic cleansing sets an example for how to respond.

“The time for outrage and condemnation has passed,” she said. “The international community must impose a comprehensive arms embargo and targeted financial sanctions against senior Myanmar military officials responsible for crimes against humanity.”

Lin also urged the United States to introduce a U.N. Security Council resolution calling for an embargo and sanctions, and to pressure Bangladesh to loosen its registration rules so humanitarian groups can get more aid workers on the ground.

The term “ethnic cleansing” is largely descriptive and dates from the conflict in the 1990s in the former Yugoslavia. At the time, a U.N. commission defined it as “rendering an area ethnically homogeneous by using force or intimidation to remove people of given groups from the area.”

The Obama administration declared the Islamic State had committed genocide against Yazidis, Christians and Shiite Muslims. In 2005, the George W. Bush administration labeled the killings in Darfur, a region of Sudan, to be genocide and tightened sanctions. But no policy was mandated by law.

“Ultimately these things come down to the politics of it,” said David Bosco, an associate professor at Indiana University’s School of Global and International Studies and author of a number of books on international law.

Even if the United States declared a genocide in Burma, Bosco added, “it’s really just a question of whether that helps generate pressure for action.”

The timing of Tillerson’s statement was rife with symbolism. It coincided with the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia’s sentencing of former Bosnia Serb commander Ratko Mladic, who was convicted of genocide and crimes against humanity, to life in prison.

Full report at:



Bangladeshi religious leaders have high hopes for pope’s visit

November 22, 2017

DHAKA, Bangladesh (CNS) — Bangladeshi religious leaders of different faiths hope Pope Francis’ upcoming visit will promote harmony and tolerance in the Muslim-majority nation.

However, one hard-line Muslim group warned it would protest if the pontiff said or did anything “unexpected and unacceptable,” reported.

The Nov. 30-Dec. 2 visit will be the third by a pope to the populous, impoverished country. Blessed Paul VI made a 1970 stopover lasting a few hours in what was then East Pakistan to express sympathy for victims of a devastating cyclone. St. John Paul II came to independent Bangladesh Nov. 19, 1986.

During his trip to Dhaka, the capital, Pope Francis will meet Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and President Abdul Hamid as well as members of the diplomatic corps and civil society. He planned to pay respects at two national memorials and celebrate Mass for more than 100,000 people in Dhaka, where he will ordain 16 deacons to the priesthood.

Interfaith and ecumenical gatherings and a visit to a home for destitute people run by the Missionaries of Charity, the congregation that St. Teresa of Kolkata founded, also are on the pontiff’s itinerary.

Pope Francis’ visit will celebrate a 46-year Vatican-Bangladesh relationship, said Cardinal Patrick D’Rozario, archbishop of Dhaka.

The Holy See was among the first states to recognize Bangladesh after it gained independence from Pakistan in 1971 and established full diplomatic relations in 1973.

The relationship was based on universal values such as compassion and human dignity that transcend ethnicity and politics, Cardinal D’Rozario said. Past international expressions of sympathy when Bangladesh suffered from natural disasters and the 2013 Rana Plaza collapse that claimed more than 1,100 lives cemented the relationship, he said.

“I have seen the joyful feeling in people, who are eager to have an encounter with the leader who is a symbol of unity of the church,” the cardinal said.

On another front, a senior leader of the hard-line Hefazat-e-Islam group welcomed the pope’s visit, but said he would closely monitor it.

“Pope Francis is the supreme leader of Christians and head of the Vatican state, so we welcome him in our country,” Mufti Faizullah, a joint secretary of the group, told “We will be closely watching what he says and does during the trip. If we find anything unexpected and unacceptable, we will protest and issue statements if necessary.”

The group has pushed for rigorous implementation of an anti-blasphemy law, execution of atheists, Islamization of school textbooks and removal of idols and statues from public places and has attacked what it sees as Christian evangelization in some areas. Maolana Fariduuddin Masoud, president of the liberal Muslim group Bangladesh Jamiyat-ul-Ulema, said he expects love and hospitality will be highlighted during the pope’s visit.

“Pope Francis is a saintly figure and a global leader, so people are honored to have him in Bangladesh and they will offer him overwhelming love,” Masoud told

Bangladesh’s pluralistic and tolerant image has been tainted by a lethal rise of Islamic radicalism in recent years. Since 2013 Islamic militants have murdered some 50 people including atheist bloggers, writers and publishers, gay rights activists, liberal Muslims, religious minorities and foreigners. A government crackdown resulted in about 70 militant deaths and dozens of arrests.

Despite the government’s actions little has been done to combat radical ideology fueling violence despite attempts to promote interfaith dialogue.

Rana Dasgupta, a lawyer and Hindu leader in Dhaka, said the pope might look at lapses in Bangladesh’s battle against extremism.

“Extremists wanted to attack the heart of the nation, our pluralism and harmony, so they killed people who held liberal or critical views on religion or adhere to other faiths,” Dasgupta said.

“This extremist ideology is not part of our culture, but little has been done on this front to present a counter-ideology. Pope Francis has been soft on Islam, refused to associate it with terrorism and called for dialogue between religions to combat violence and extremism,” he said.

Dasgupta said the Bangladeshi government had government efforts to promote dialogue and harmony were insufficient.

“Maybe the pope can offer some guidance on how best dialogue can be used for harmony and peace,” he said.

Ashoke Barua, a Buddhist leader, said the papal visit would be a boon for religious harmony.

“Pope Francis’ trip will reinvigorate religious harmony and bring people of all faiths closer,” he said. “It is also a great opportunity to present Bangladesh’s goodness to the world.”

Despite recent setbacks, Cardinal D’Rozario said he expects that Pope Francis realizes the nation remained committed to harmony and peace.

“Our nation is like a river,” the cardinal said. “Sometimes you see strong currents fueled by strong winds, but at the riverbed there is calmness. And this comes from the basic religiosity and pluralism of people.”

Bangladesh is struggling to cope with a refugee influx triggered by violence against Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar. The pope is expected to take up the issue publicly or privately during his visit.

Cardinal D’Rozario noted that Bangladesh had lived up its “traditional values” by accepting fleeing Rohingya. “The pope is coming for harmony and peace, not for just Rohingya but for all,” he said. “He is not coming to solve any problem, but he will surely have a message for them and for everyone.”

The cardinal noted that the Rohingya crisis had similar elements to violence against marginalized communities around the globe, including where “big world powers” are involved.

Full report at:



Afghan forces respond to shelling from across Durand Line, officials claim

Nov 23 2017

The Afghan security forces have responded to the heavy shelling from across the Durand Line in eastern Kunar province of Afghanistan, the local officials said.

Provincial security and government officials are saying that the retaliatory move by the Afghan border police has resulted into a reduction of the shelling over the populated areas.

Kunar police chief Gen. Juma Gul Hemat said the Afghan border police forces responded to the shelling with heavy artillery fire.

He said the shelling was done by the militia forces of Pakistan and in response the Afghan forces fired artillery shells on the compound of the Pakistan militias, apparently incurring casualties.

Provincial governor wahidullah Kalimzai also confirmed the retaliatory move by the Afghan border police and said the shelling from the across the line has halted for the moment.

This comes as the commander of the US forces in Afghanistan General John Nicholson who is also the commander of the NATO-led Resolute Support Mission in reaction to the latest shelling by the Pakistani military had earlier said that the Pakistani military should share the information regarding the terror groups rather than opting to cross-border shelling.

The Pakistani military has long been shelling the Afghan provinces located along the Durand Line, claiming that the shelling are made in response to the attacks by the militants using the Afghan soil.

The shelling continues amid strained ties between Kabul and Islamabad regarding the circumstances surrounding the fight against terrorism and terror safe havens.

Full report at:





Migrants sold into slavery in Libya tell of ‘total hell’

November 23, 2017

Patrick FORT - Survivors of slave auctions in Libya have described a “total hell” that they wouldn’t wish on their “worst enemy” as global outrage grows over footage showing migrants being sold off in the war-torn country.

“We were slaves,” said Moussa Sanogo, a migrant who flew back to Ivory Coast from Libya this week after surviving regular beatings and forced labour in the fields.

“For the Arabs (Libyan jailers), black-skinned men are nothing but animals - animals were treated better,” said Sanogo, who spent more than four months in Libya trying to get to Italy by boat.

The North African country has long been a major transit hub for migrants trying to reach Europe.

He was just one of those who returned home with stories similar to those aired last week by US TV network CNN, which showed an apparent slave auction where black men were presented to North African buyers as potential farmhands and sold off for as little as $400 (340 euros).

“It was total hell in Libya ,” said Maxime Ndong, one of 250 migrants flown back to Cameroon on Tuesday night. “There is a trade in black people there. People who want slaves... come to buy them,” he told AFP.

“If you resist, they shoot at you. There have been deaths,” said Ndong, who spent eight months in Libya .

The Cameroonians flew back to Yaounde on Tuesday aboard a plane charted by the International Organization for Migration (IOM) as part of a project to return and reintegrate some 850 people.

Sold by the police

Sanogo, 22, was one of about 600 Ivory Coast migrants that were returning from Libya with IOM’s support. Around 150 people landed in the capital Abidjan on Monday with the rest to be brought home during the week.

Sanogo described Libya as an anarchic country preyed on by bandits where the forces of law and order were involved in human trafficking.

“At one point, we were caught by people who said they were police,” he said.

“The police then sold me for 500 dinars (310 euros, $365) to a man who made me work in a tomato field for a month. You have to work.”

Sanogo fled across the desert to Niger where he was imprisoned again before finally escaping to Tunisia.

Then a people smuggler promising a path to Europe convinced him to return to Libya .

‘Pricing you like merchandise’

“We were captured and locked in a small room with 60 other people,” and were “not able to wash,” he said.

“When the Arabs entered they wore masks due to the smell,” he said, shaking his head at the memory.

“They are buying you. You’re there, you have been arrested, you see they are judging your price like merchandise. They bought you and you’re going to work... like a slave,” he said.

“They hit you all the time - especially if you’re big like me - until the blood flows, with sticks, metal, the butt of a gun.

“For food, you are given a piece of bread and a piece of cheese, that’s all... I’m happy to be back,” he said.

“I would not wish it on my enemy.”

‘Humiliation for Africa’

Another migrant, Seydou Sanogo from Abidjan, said: “You would have to see what we lived through to believe it”.

But not everyone wanted to leave Libya . One woman with an 18-month-old baby said she did not want to return to Ivory Coast.

“We were waiting for the boat. We were almost there,” said the woman, who did not give her name.

The slave auction footage has triggered an outcry across Africa, bringing to public consciousness a situation that has previously been condemned by many non-governmental groups and observers.

Music and football stars have expressed their outrage at the revelations, including Ivorian reggae singers Alpha Blondy and Tiken Jah Fakoly, as well as footballer Didier Drogba.

“It is a double indignation, a cry from the heart: I am shocked to see the children of Africa die... trying to find a better tomorrow,” said A’Salfo, lead singer of the group Magic System.

“A humiliation for Africa.”

The United Nations said the slavery auctions should be investigated as possible crimes against humanity, and the issue will be on agenda at an African Union-EU summit on November 29 to 30 in Abidjan.–AFP



Armed opposition attack kills 17 people in South Sudan

23 November 2017

Armed dissidents attacked the defense positions of the government forces in the Southern Liech province and killed 17 people, security sources said on Thursday.

After the attack it was announced that the people of the region were hiding in the Leer Headquarters of the United Nations (UN) mission.

South Sudan gained independence in 2011 but fell into a civil war in 2013, in which tens of thousands have been killed and nearly 4 million displaced.



Biker groups flourish in post-Qaddafi Libya

23 November 2017

Donning leather and helmets (sometimes), they roar along Libya’s hair-raising, potholed roads on carefully polished Harley Davidsons and Kawasakis.

Part of a growing scene, there are now hundreds of bikers in Tripoli alone who come from all walks of life. One is the imam of a local mosque, another a 60-year-old mechanic who lived nearly three decades in Texas.

Riding past — often in groups — on their gleaming machines, they stick out in Libya, where a conservative society still bears the scars of decades of authoritarian rule under former Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi, and the revolution and conflict that followed.

They say their hobby lifts moods in a country worn down by years of violence and political upheaval since Qaddafi’s ouster in 2011.

“People do this to have a bit of a break, to live like human beings a little,” said Bilal Khatap, a 37-year-old car dealer who rides a green Harley Davidson.

On a recent Saturday morning, about two dozen bikers congregated in central Tripoli, doing small circuits in front of curious bystanders in the city’s main square before taking a spin on the city’s coastal road.

Some were members of the Monsters — named as such for their appearance after one ride in heavy rain. Under Qaddafi, freedom of association and assembly in Libya was highly restricted, but the Monsters is one of at least four biker groups now active in the capital.

“The Monster group started in 2012” said Maruan Aghila, an embassy employee in a black Guns N’ Roses waistcoat and a skull and crossbones bandana, getting ready for the ride on his Suzuki Intruder.

“Before that we weren’t allowed to have groups. Before that there were very few bikers in Libya,” he said, adding with a smile: “So it’s a positive result of the revolution.”

Most bikers do regular professional jobs, said Subhi Azoz, a café owner who also preaches as an imam in a central Tripoli mosque and rides a mauve Suzuki Boulevard.

Some have imported powerful modern racing bikes, others have rebuilt or adapted older, classic models.

“You can order parts on Amazon, Ebay. It’s really expensive, but it’s possible,” said Aghila.

Although conflict threw Libya’s economy into crisis in recent years, sought after products can still be imported and trendy shops in parts of Tripoli stock fashionable clothes and accessories.

Biker groups have also sprung up in other major Libyan cities including Benghazi and Zawiya. They make local excursions at weekends, and sometimes venture further on cross country trips.

“Every now and again there are security problems on the road and we can’t leave, but normally it’s fine and we can go anywhere,” said Khatap.

Abdu Saghezli, a wiry 60-year-old on a white Suzuki Hayabusa who worked as a mechanic in Texas before returning to Libya in 2007, said militiamen at a checkpoint had pulled a gun on him and tried to steal his bike in early 2015.

Biking in Libya, or indeed driving, is not for the fainthearted. Road habits tend to reflect the country’s wider lawlessness.

In a 2015 report on road safety by the World Health Organization, Libya has an estimated road traffic death rate of 73 per 100,000 population, far higher than any other country listed.

Full report at:



Kenyan Al-Shabaab Leader Flees After Fallout

22 NOVEMBER 2017

By Fred Mukinda

A Kenyan who rose through Al-Shabaab ranks to become the poster boy for the terrorist organisation is on the run after a falling-out with other commanders who want him executed.

Ahmed Iman alias Kimanthi, who appeared in numerous Al-Shabaab propaganda videos taunting Kenyan troops fighting in Somalia, the group's stronghold, is now seeking to surrender to Kenyan forces and get amnesty, the Nation has learnt.

Until the row, he was close to the current Al-Shabaab supremo Ahmed Diriye and Mahad Karate, also known as Abdirahim Mohamed Warsame, who commanded Shabaab's Amniyat, its intelligence wing, when gunmen stormed Garissa University College and killed 147 students in April, 2015.


In the video clips, which are unavailable after they were pulled down by YouTube, Iman says the killings were carried out to avenge the killing of radical Muslim clerics.

In those videos, he named the clerics as Aboud Rogo, Samir Khan and Sheikh Abubakar Shariff alias Makaburi.

International security sources operating in Somalia, told the Nation that Iman has been the head of a group of foreign fighters who together with him, are now on the run from the main group loyal to Diriye and Karate.

A number of Kenyans and other foreigners who joined Al-Shabaab terrorists in Somalia have since been captured and executed.

On November 6, a 25-year-old Kenyan from Garissa was among four people who were publicly executed by the terrorists in Somalia.

Omar Adar Omar was killed by firing squad on accusations of spying for the Africa Union Mission in Somalia, which comprises the Kenya Defence Forces.

The falling-out is further complicated after the emergence of a faction that has pledged allegiance to the Islamic State in Syria, while Diriye's group maintains its formal partnership with Al-Qaeda in Afghanistan.


The Nation has further learnt that Iman, in a bid to escape from Somalia, has evaded several dragnets to capture him.

Al-Shabaab is well known for executing militants within its own ranks whenever there is a falling-out.

The latest developments are a repeat of what happened to Fazul Abdullah Mohamed, who was killed in a set up laid by Godane Ahmed Abdi Godane alias Mukhtar Abu Zubeyr, who was Diriye's predecessor.

Godane was later killed in a joint operation by US and KDF in Somalia.

Besides assuming the role of commander of foreign fighters in Somalia, Iman also has a great influence in Jaysh Ayman, another Al-Shabaab faction operating in Boni Forest which spreads across the Kenya-Somalia border in Lamu County.

Furthermore, Iman is also said to be getting foreign funding directly, further angering indigenous Somali commanders, the sources also said.

A 2016 security report published by the Nation, revealed that Iman and accomplices in Nairobi collected millions of shillings every year by renting shops and kiosks in Umoja and Majengo, and the money is smuggled to Somalia to fund terrorism activities.


In one Al-Shabaab propaganda video, he was seen clad in KDF uniform, holding a walkie-talkie and an M-16 rifle, which he claimed was one of the arms looted from El-Adde Forward Operating Base, which was overran by the terrorists in January 2016.

Besides Kenya, whose soldiers are operating in southern Somalia, Al-Shabaab is also being fought by the US and other countries in Amisom, including Ethiopia, Uganda, Burundi and Djibouti.

100 fighters killed

On Tuesday, 100 Al-Shabaab fighters were killed in an air strike by the US.

"In coordination with the Federal Government of Somalia, US forces conducted an air strike in Somalia against an Al-Shabaab camp at approximately 10.30 local Somalia time, killing more than 100 militants.

The operation occurred 125 miles northwest of the capital, Mogadishu," said a statement by US Africa Command.

The Statement added: "US forces will continue to use all authorised and appropriate measures to protect Americans and to disable terrorist threats.

Full report at:



Italy: 1,100 migrants rescued from Libyan coast in one day

23 November 2017

About 1,100 migrants from the Libyan coast were rescued from the sea on Wednesday, including a woman who gave birth in a rubber boat, the Italian coastguard and monitors said.

They were recovered from 10 rubber boats and a small wooden boat in a rescue operation that involved a coastguard vessel, an Italian Navy ship and NGOs.

The Mission Lifeline NGO said in a Twitter post that the woman had given birth on an inflatable boat. Some 114,600 migrants have landed in Italy so far this year, a figure that is down 32 percent year on year.



France calls UN Security Council meeting over Libya slavery

23 November 2017

France on Wednesday called an emergency meeting of the UN Security Council over slave-trading in Libya as President Emmanuel Macron blasted the auctioning of Africans as a crime against humanity.

“France decided this morning to ask for an urgent meeting of the United Nations Security Council to discuss this issue,” Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian told parliament.

“We are doing it as a permanent member of the Security Council. We have this capability and we are using it.”

Macron said the auctions, captured on film in footage aired by US network CNN, were “scandalous” and “unacceptable”.

“It is a crime against humanity,” he said after meeting with African Union chief Alpha Conde.

“I hope we can go much further in the fight against traffickers who commit such crimes, and cooperate with all the countries in the network to dismantle these networks.”

CNN aired footage last week of an apparent auction where black men were presented to North African buyers as potential farmhands and sold off for as little as $400.

Full report at:



Southeast Asia

ISIS Supporters In Malaysia Now Working In 'Wolf Packs'

November 22, 2017

KUALA LUMPUR: In the past, Islamic State (IS) supporters in the country was typically categorised as lone wolves, but now investigators have coined a new term, “wolf pack” for groups in the country comprising of a small number of people.

The wolf pack, comprises of not more than six members, with no links to other IS members or groups.

The Federal police's Counter-Terrorism Division (E8) has so far detected only one wolf pack in the country, which was intercepted when they planned attacks during the Better Beer Festival 2017, which had initially been scheduled to take place at Publika in Hartamas, various non-Muslim places of worship; and entertainment outlets.

The pack comprised of three people- a 19-year-old Form Six student, former soldier and a contractor were nabbed by counter-terrorism operatives in Kelantan on Oct 10 for alleged ties with the militant group.

The trio were believed to have been experimenting with homemade bombs, otherwise called improvised explosive devices (IEDs).

E8’s assistant director Datuk Ayob Khan Mydin Pitchay said the successful interception was made due to intelligence.

“Without good and accurate intel, its almost impossible for us to track these wolf packs which have started moving in small groups. Its no longer a network sort of group but are individual cell groups on their own. Although the IS headquarters in Raqqa and Syria have been destroyed, the ideology is still widely spread.

“For instance the 19-year-old, he has never been to Syria, but he was influenced through IS’s Facebook and he learnt how to make bombs through websites,” he said in a press conference.

Ayob said these days, sympathisers learnt by themselves instead of being recruited by the terrorists. Those who were interested to join would look for websites and blogs which were accessible to learn the ideology.

Full report at:



Saudis Accuse Ulema Body Linked To PAS Chief of Terrorism

November 23, 2017

KUALA LUMPUR: An international Muslim organisation, of which PAS president Hadi Awang is vice-president, has been declared a “terrorist” organisation by the Anti-Terror Quartet.

According to a report in Arab News, the quartet has included the International Union of Muslim Scholars (IUMS) on its list of organisations and individuals who disseminate or support terrorism .

The quartet – which consists of Saudi Arabia, Egypt, UAE, and Bahrain – said the IUMS was “working to promote terrorism through the exploitation of Islamic discourse”.

The IUMS is one of two new entities and 11 individuals that have been added to the list. The other is the International Islamic Council “Massaa”. The 11 individuals were not identified by country.

The Qatar-based IUMS was formed in 2004 and is headed by the influential Sheikh Youssef al-Qaradawi.

Most of those who formed the council are said to be members of the Muslim Brotherhood which led the Arab Spring protests in 2011 that toppled some autocrats in the Middle East and North Africa.

According to Reuters, the IUMS membership includes the Saudi cleric Salman al-Awdah, who was arrested by Saudi authorities in September, the Tunisian Rached Ghannouchi, head of the Ennahda party, and Moroccan scholar Ahmed Raissouni.

In a statement released through the Saudi Press Agency, the quartet said: “The two listed entities are terrorist organisations working to promote terrorism through the exploitation of Islamic discourse and its use as a cover to facilitate various terrorist activities.”

The quartet again accused Qatar of aiding terrorism, saying the individuals had “carried out various terrorist operations in which they have received direct Qatari support at various levels, including providing them with passports and assigning them to Qatari institutions with a charitable appearance to facilitate their movement”.

Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain severed ties with Doha on June 4, accusing it of supporting terrorism. They say Qatar continues to sponsor and finance terrorism, promote extremism and disseminate hate speech.

Hadi this week lashed out at the Sunni-Shia sectarianism in the Middle East, saying he would choose Qatar, Turkey and Iran over other Arab powers in the region.

“I come back to the Quran although the ruler who is the servant of the Two Holy Cities has forged intimate ties with Israel and the United States, because my faith is not with the Kaabah but with Allah,” Hadi said in an article published by PAS mouthpiece Harakahdaily on Tuesday.

Recently, Hadi attended a conference in Iran and was slammed by his own IUMS.

In condemning Hadi’s visit, IUMS president Qaradawi, said: “We consider the visit as an informal one and that it does not represent the Union. The visit was done at the individual’s own accord. The Union is also waiting for an explanation from the learned [Hadi] about the visit that we strongly disagree upon.”

Following this, Hadi’s political secretary Ahmad Samsuri Mokhtar was reported to have said that Hadi had attended the conference at the invitation of one Dr Abdurrahman Bayraan, said to be an Iranian representative of the IUMS.

Meanwhile, the quartet’s statement said: “The four countries reaffirm their commitment to strengthening all efforts to combat terrorism and to establish security and stability in the region, and stresses that they will not hesitate to pursue individuals and terrorist groups and will support all means in this regard at the regional and international levels.”

The quartet said they would continue to work with partners around the world to effectively reduce the activities of terrorist and extremist organisations.

Full report at:



Putrajaya: Freedom of religion does not equal freedom from religion


November 23, 2017

KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 23 ― A deputy minister today claimed that atheism is a “very dangerous” ideology that goes against not only the Rukunegara that prescribes “believe in God” as one of the tenets, but also the Federal Constitution.

Deputy Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Asyraf Wajdi Dusuki alleged that the freedom of religion in the Constitution which guarantees the freedom to worship does not include the freedom to not believe.

“We have to understand that in the Malaysian context, our Federal Constitution states that the freedom of religion does not mean freedom from any religion because that is unconstitutional.

“This means we cannot incite someone to leave a religion or promote not having a religion. We cannot order or promote a belief of not having a religion, that is against the Federal Constitution,” he said.

The deputy minister in charge of Islamic affairs also said that any individual who practices and spreads atheism can be punished for going against the Constitution.

The senator said atheism can be punished under both Shariah and civil laws.

Despite his claim, Article 3(1) of the Federal Constitution only states that “Islam is the religion of the Federation; but other religions may be practised in peace and harmony in any part of the Federation.”

Meanwhile, Article 11(1) states that “Every person has the right to profess and practise his religion and propagate it”, subject to clause Article 11(4) that prohibits the propagation to Muslims.

Aysraf said a variety of laws including the Sedition Act can also be used against those who spread the ideology.

“For non-Muslims, as we are informed it goes against the laws relating to public order and peace.

“We also have the Sedition Act for any parties that try to spread ideologies and doctrines like atheism which disrupts the sanctity of other religions,” he said.

Asyraf’s remark was in reply to Parti Amanah Negara Kota Raja MP Dr Siti Mariah Mahmud who asked about the steps taken by Putrajaya to curb the spread of atheism among Malaysians.

Asyraf had earlier replied by saying that Putrajaya with the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission had worked together to lodge reports to Facebook against atheists on the social media page.

However, their demands were ignored by Facebook who said the accounts did not contravene any of its rules and regulations.

Last year, Malaysia was rated as “grave violators” of the rights and treatment of the non-religious in the Freedom of Thought Report by the International Humanist and Ethical Union.

Full report at:



Don’t equate constitution with shariah, says lawyer

Uqbah Soperi

November 23, 2017

Shariah Lawyers Association's rep disagrees with London-based scholar.


Jasser Auda (left) and Ab Kadir Ismail

PETALING JAYA: An official of the Shariah Lawyers Association has disputed Islamic scholar Jasser Auda’s view that the Malaysian constitution is in line with the spirit of the shariah.

Ab Kadir Ismail, who heads the association’s Selangor chapter, said no man-made body of laws could claim to be in the spirit of the shariah if it did not explicitly recognise God’s omniscience and omnipotence.

“There is no provision in the constitution that says Allah is superior and that the main sources of law are the Quran and Sunnah,” he said.

Auda, the chairman of the London-based Maqasid Institute, told a recent forum that he disagreed with calls to amend the Malaysian constitution, saying it already placed importance on peace, stability, and justice as required by Islam.

Auda also said a legal system would be Islamic it fulfilled the shariah objectives of protecting and preserving faith, life, intellect, lineage and property.

Kadir said Muslims were not obliged to consider the constitution as supreme law because they must reserve that status for the shariah.

Shariah lawyer, Akberdin Abdul Kader.

Akberdin is more accepting of Auda’s view.

Akberdin Abdul Kader, a shariah and civil lawyer, is more accepting of Auda’s view.

“I agree that the articles in the constitution concerning the fundamental liberties are in line with Islam,” he told FMT, but he added that the status of shariah law in Malaysia needed to be lifted.

He said it was time for the shariah legal system to be centralised at the federal level and applied uniformly across the states.

Full report at:



Indonesia promotes moderate Islam in International Islamic Education Expo

November 23, 2017

Islamic education in Indonesia must always preserve the tradition of combining both textual-based as well as rational academic approaches, which have been passed down by scholars of old and have resulted in a compassionate and moderate Islam in the country, says Religious Affairs Minister Lukman Hakim Saifuddin.

“What we must observe is how academic tradition since back in the past, which was developed by our predecessors,  is always based on texts that are maintained as best as possible, but also they are synergized together with an academic tradition that emphasizes reason and context,” he said on Tuesday.

Speaking at the opening of the International Islamic Education Expo in South Tangerang, Banten, the minister said Islamic education in Indonesia should pursue a middle path, as siding too much with one of the academic approaches and abandoning the other would be dangerous. Adopting a textual-based approach alone and negating reason would leave students unable to respond to the challenges of the times, he said, while too much emphasis on reason in understanding Islam would lead students to become too liberal and free.

He added that although there were some Islamic education institutions that had gone to an extreme in deifying one academic approach over the other, most of the Islamic schools in Indonesia had sensibly merged the two academic approaches and as a result had created a situation in which the country can see Islam as it is supposed to be, which is Rahmatan lil Alaamin, or a mercy for the whole of mankind.

“We are grateful that our predecessors have wisely synergized these two approaches, not to have them clash against one another, but to complement one another. This is the responsibility of all of us together: to ensure Islamic education is able to always preserve these two approaches, which are both good,” he said.

The International Islamic Education Expo, held from Nov. 21 to Nov. 24 by the Religious Affairs Ministry, is aimed at promoting Islamic studies in Indonesia among the domestic and international community and the potential that Indonesia has to become an Islamic study destination. The Expo is being attended by important Muslim scholars and researchers from home and abroad, who will be holding talks and discussions on the topic of Islamic education.

Before the event was officially opened by the religious affairs minister, the audience of around 4,000 people witnessed the reading of the Serpong Declaration read out on stage by representatives of Indonesia’s Islamic mass organizations as well as leaders of some of Indonesia’s Islamic universities. The declaration was a symbolic vow of commitment to develop Islamic education as an agent of change.

“The Serpong Declaration is a commitment of our effort to make our life, not just in religious terms, but our lives as a nation – better. This is our effort to make Islamic education improve the future of our civilization,” Lukman said.

The minister also thanked all the parties that helped established and shape Indonesia’s Islamic education institutions, which have made the country one of the world leaders in Islamic education.

Global Islamic education

Compared to other Muslim-majority countries, Indonesia has more Islamic educational institutions under the supervision of the Religious Affairs Ministry, starting from madrasa (around 75,000 institutions), pesantren (28,000), to Islamic higher education institutions ( 600 ).

Up to 90 percent of these institutions, the minister said, were founded by private foundations and religious organizations, such as Al-Khairat, Al-Washliyah, Nahdlatul Wathan, Mathlaul Anwar, Muhammadiyah, Nahdlatul Ulama, Al-Irsyad, and Persatuan Islam (PERSIS).

Some of the education institutions were present at the exhibition in stands and booth to not only promote their schools but also showcase their best works by their students, such as a smell detector tool on show at the Malang Islamic State University (UIN) booth, made by one of their students, as explained to the minister. In total, there were 200 education institutions and partners from home and abroad taking part in the exhibition.

Held at the Indonesia Convention Exhibition (ICE) in Serpong, which is one of the most renowned and fully equipped MICE facilities in Indonesia, the expo also features an International Conference on Pesantren Studies and the 17th Annual International Conference on Islamic Studies or AICIS.

This year’s AICIS conference, which is made up of several different simultaneous forums and discussions in separate rooms, carries the general theme of Religion, Identity and Citizenship. Among the sub-themes being discussed are the integration of Islam and science, sharia, identity politics and citizenship and religion and popular culture.

In one of the discussions on Promoting Humanitarian Work for the Development of Islamic Science and Humanistic Studies, one of the speakers, Dr. Faizah Ali Syibromalisi from Syarif Hidayatullah Islamic State University (UIN) Jakarta, highlighted the importance of the role of the family in creating a golden generation that is not only physically and mentally strong but also displays excellent behavior.

“One of the biggest challenges of families is the busy activity outside of the house. This also effects the personality of children. The needs of children are not only material, but also non-material, including education,” she said.

Fellow speaker Dr. Aisha Fathi Yakan from Jinan University in Tripoli, Lebanon, emphasized the need to instill moderate education in children, which is the responsibility of every component of society.

“The role must be in every dimension of life. Whether it is family, campus, surrounding environment and other places,” she said.

With hundreds of international scholars and academics such as Dr. Yakan coming to the expo and learning about Indonesia’s unique Islamic education model, the Religious Affairs Ministry hopes that Indonesia can inspire the global Muslim community, which in some parts of the world is currently experiencing trials and tribulations.

Full report at:



China tells Myanmar military it wants closer ties

November 23, 2017

China wants closer ties with Myanmar's military to help protect regional peace and security, a senior Chinese general told the visiting head of the southeast Asian country's army.

China and Myanmar have had close diplomatic and economic ties for years, including increasingly in the strategically important oil and gas sectors, and China has offered its support to its southern neighbour, also known as Burma, throughout a crisis over its treatment of its Rohingya Muslim minority.

More than 600,000 Rohingya have fled from Buddhist-majority Myanmar's Rakhine State, most to neighbouring Bangladesh, since a Myanmar military crackdown in response to attacks on the security forces by Rohingya insurgents in August.

The United States on Wednesday for the first time called the Myanmar military operation against the Rohingya "ethnic cleansing" and threatened targeted sanctions against those responsible for "horrendous atrocities".

Meeting in Beijing, Li Zuocheng, who sits on China's Central Military Commission, which runs its armed forces, told Senior General Min Aung Hlaing that China's development and prosperity were an important opportunity for Myanmar's development, China's Defence Ministry said in a statement.

"In the face of a complex and changeable regional security situation, China is willing to maintain strategic communication between the two countries' militaries," Li was cited as saying in the statement issued late on Wednesday.

China wanted greater contacts between the two armed forces and deeper training and technical exchanges and to promote border defence cooperation to ensure peace and stability along their common border, Li added.

China has been angered by fighting between Myanmar's military and autonomy-seeking ethnic minority rebels close to the Chinese border in recent years, which has at times forced thousands of villagers to flee into China.

The Chinese ministry made no direct mention of the Rohingya issue in the statement.


China built close ties with Myanmar's generals during years of military rule, when Western countries imposed sanctions on Myanmar for its suppression of the democracy movement.

More recently, their ties have included oil and gas as Myanmar pumps natural gas from the Bay of Bengal to China. A new oil pipeline, opened this year, also feeds Middle East crude through Myanmar to a new refinery in Yunnan, southwest China.

This has opened a new oil supply route to China, avoiding the Strait of Malacca and Singapore.

The United States and other Western countries have stepped up engagement with Myanmar since the military began handing power to civilians in 2011, and especially since former democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi won a 2015 election.

But an international outcry over Myanmar's violations of the rights of the Rohingya has raised questions in Western countries about that engagement.

Full report at:



North America


Toronto Mosque And Church Collaborate To Serve Free Lunch

Nov 20, 2017

A mosque and a church in downtown Toronto have formed a partnership to serve a free hot lunch to the city’s needy.

One Saturday every month, volunteers from Masjid Toronto come together at the Church of St. Stephen-in-the-Fields in the Kensington-Chinatown neighborhood and prepare meals in the church’s kitchen that are served to anyone who drops by.

“There are so many things which Christians and Muslims share, but a belief in the importance of service to the poor and vulnerable is one of the most central,” said Reverend Maggie Helwig, Rector of the Church of St. Stephen-in-the-Fields. “Coming together to collaborate in this way also allows us to build relationships with each other, to appreciate each other as people, and to share our traditions, and I hope it can be part of creating a greater understanding and friendship between us.”

“The hot soup program is important and significant for our mosque because we believe that one of the main objectives of the Muslim community is to serve and to extend a helping hand to others, especially to those who are in need,” said Imam Dr. Wael Shehab of Masjid Toronto. “Masjid Toronto has revived this program to provide meals in a dignified way to our guests.”

“We are doing this program in collaboration with St. Stephen-in-the Fields Church and we are very thankful to Reverend Maggie Helwig and the Church who have welcomed us into their church to serve people in the neighborhood.”

Earlier this year, the Church of St. Stephen-in-the-Fields stood by Masjid Toronto as it was subjected to numerous anti-Muslim protests. The Church also organized the ‘Stand Against Islamophobia’ rally at City Hall in March.

Since the protests, the leaders of both the church and mosque have exchanged visits and agreed to collaborate in starting a hot lunch program.

“Our volunteers are so happy to be able to serve people in this neighborhood,” added Imam Dr. Wael Shehab. “We are trying our best to provide services in our mosque and this program is one of the most important ones.”

“In addition to educating people and raising awareness about our religious values and empowering and supporting people, it is also our duty to serve people and help the needy.”

St. Stephen’s is an inclusive and affirming Anglican community located in the Kensington-Chinatown neighborhood and their stated mission is ‘to live out God’s mission of compassion and justice for all people, and for all of creation.’

The Church is committed to being a community of solidarity with those who have been pushed to the margins of society, and to the task of building a better world. Every Saturday and Sunday morning, St Stephen’s — with the support of two other congregations, as well as students and teachers — serves a free breakfast for low-income members of the community.

Masjid Toronto is a vibrant mosque in the heart of downtown Toronto, on Dundas Street west of Bay Street, and serves a large and diverse Muslim community.

Another facility was purchased a few years ago and a satellite mosque, Masjid Toronto at Adelaide, was opened at Church and Adelaide Streets. Every Friday, thousands of worshipers attend one of the four weekly prayer services.

The unique locations of the mosques near Ryerson University and the University of Toronto, as well as its proximity to downtown businesses, hospitals, city and provincial governments, and the bus terminal, make it a sanctuary for Muslim professionals, students and travelers alike.



This Thanksgiving, American Muslims Are Thankful For Allies Publicly And Vocally Speaking Out, Showing Up


This Thanksgiving, I join millions of American Muslim families in thanking fellow Americans of all faiths and political affiliations who this year publicly and vocally spoke out and showed up again and again to stand up for our shared American values, and to educate millions by using media to talk about the lives, contributions, hopes, and dreams of their American Muslim neighbors.

Being an ally is done best when it’s public and vocal. The more public and the more vocal, the stronger the impact. After all, our voices have the power to change millions of hearts and minds for the better. 

We all remember the afternoon when the first “Muslim Ban” was signed. We remember seeing live videos from an increasing number of airports nationwide showing tens of thousands of fellow Americans – Republicans, Democrats, and others – gathering at the airports. We were all united by our shared American values and our belief in the words of the Declaration of Independence, in Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address, in the 14th Amendment, and in the Constitution’s guarantees of equal protection and equal treatment under the law.

We are thankful to the thousands of attorneys who volunteered their time to help those facing obstacles resulting from the Muslim Ban. Some of these attorneys also launched the web site to continue to provide services free of charge at airports nationwide.

We are thankful to the members of Congress and local lawmakers who held press conferences and joined demonstrators in solidarity. We are thankful to the civil rights organizations, attorneys general and corporations that legally challenged the Muslim Ban. If fellow Americans had not come out in the numbers they did – thousands of people at all major airports – many have argued that there were other executive orders, including possibly an unconstitutional “religious registry,” lined up to be signed the following week. Showing up and speaking out publicly and vocally likely stopped many more unconstitutional executive orders from being enacted.

American Muslim families are also grateful to the tens of thousands of fellow Americans who showed up to oppose anti-Muslim hate rallies on June 10 in cities across the country with signs and messages of support.

Leading up to the June 10 events, several Christian pastors took to the airwaves delivering the strong message that they stand with their Muslim neighbors. They used media interviews, emails to editors and opinion articles to affirm Jesus’ teaching of the Golden Rule - “do to others what you would have them do to you” – and demonstrated through their actions their belief that this is about how followers of Christ treat others, and that God calls all of humanity to love each other. 

Our interfaith allies also helped fellow Americans understand that Muslims love and revere Jesus, may peace be upon him, as one of God’s greatest messengers to mankind. [NOTE: The Quran, Islam’s revealed text, refers to “Christ Jesus the son of Mary” (The Holy Quran, 3:45)]

In response to these challenges, some media professionals started to feature the lives, contributions, hopes, and dreams of American Muslims, and showed visuals of Christian pastors, U.S. military veterans and other allies standing with their American Muslim neighbors.

We are thankful to the many everyday Americans who visited mosques, spoke out in online forums and commented on online articles affirming the American value of religious freedom and telling stories of American Muslims they know. This helped educate millions of readers about their Muslim neighbors’ lives. Numerous churches, interfaith groups and everyday Americans also put up signs and banners with messages like, “We love our Muslim neighbors.”

Being thankful is being more active in doing more for others. We are grateful for the positive actions we are all inspired to take together. American Muslims continued to step forward, inspired by the Islamic teaching to serve God by serving humankind.

American Muslim leaders traveled to Standing Rock to join fellow Americans in solidarity with the Standing Rock Sioux tribe to protect tribal treaty lands and natural resources. We recognize that Thanksgiving is not a day of celebration for all Americans, tainted as its history is with injustices against Native Americans.

American Muslims raised funds to repair hundreds of graves at Jewish cemeteries in the Philadelphia, St. Louis and Denver areas.  American Muslims also raised funds for the Las Vegas shooting victims and their families, as well as in response to many other tragedies that challenged our nation this year. 

We still have work to do. It will take all of us to do it.  It is my hope that fair-minded Americans will continue to use various platforms – online forums, emails to editors, interviews, speeches, and conversations at family dinner tables – to tell stories about American Muslims you know.

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This Muslim Territory Put Jewish U.S. Congressman Eliot Engel On A Stamp

By Cristina Maza


A Muslim nation just put a Jewish leader on one of its postage stamps for the first time — and not just any Jewish leader, but low-level, obscure, glad-handing New York Congressman, drum roll please, Eliot Engel!

The government of Kosovo—which broke away from Serbia and is recognized as an independent country by the U.S.—honored the 28-year congressman with the stamp, citing his support for the country's independence, at least according to Engel.

“My work to promote the U.S.-Kosovo relationship has been among the most meaningful endeavors of my years in Congress. I’m happy to have helped people’s lives and promote prosperity in the region,” Engel told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency in its report about the stamp.

Engel was among the first U.S. lawmakers to urge the Clinton administration to intervene when Kosovo’s Muslim population was fighting Serbian forces under Slobodan Milosevic in the late 1990s. He urged the White House to attack Serbian positions in Kosovo and to impose a no-fly zone for Serbian aircraft there. Engel likened the slaughter of the Balkan Muslims to the atrocities committed by Nazi Germany against European Jews during the Holocaust, which also could have been prevented.

The congressman was also among the first to support Kosovo when it unilaterally declared independence from Serbia in 2008. Most recently, he helped secure $49 million in U.S. government assistance to the country. Aside from the stamp, Engel has a street named after him in the Kosovar town of Peja, though that honor is somewhat muted; the town also has important streets named after Gen. Wesley Clark, President Bill Clinton and Madeleine Albright.

Engel may be celebrated in Kosovo, but he hasn't gained the same level of admiration back home. If he is known for anything, it is his 28-year tradition of staking out a spot at the annual State of the Union address — sometimes waiting hours — just so he would be in position to shake the commander-in-chief's hand. He dispensed with the tradition this year, however, citing his hostility to Congress as an institution.

Pro-American sentiment, however, is common throughout Kosovo, where much of the ethnic Albanian population feels grateful to the U.S. for supporting its bid for independence and spearheading the NATO bombing campaign against Serbia that originally gave it autonomy. Kosovo's capital has streets dedicated to former President Bill Clinton and to retired U.S. army General Wesley Clarke, and many buildings and homes in Kosovo display the U.S. flag.  

Currently, 114 countries recognize Kosovo’s independence, including all but five members of the European Union.

Don't expect Engel's face to be on too many letters whizzing around Kosovo. His stamp is a 2 euro variety, but regular mail in Kosovo requires only a .40 euro stamp. Even an international letter costs just 1.30 euro within Europe.

Meanwhile, the U.S. and its European allies have poured money into the territory in support of democracy building, infrastructure, and security.

“U.S. involvement in Kosovo remains a key pillar of our efforts to stabilize the Balkan region and ensure a Europe that is whole, free, and at peace. U.S. priorities in Kosovo are focused on strengthening the rule of law, fostering economic growth, and improving regional security,” the U.S. State Department said last month.

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Radical Islamic Groups Call For Jihad At Meeting Near Washington, D.C.

By Cristina Maza


Groups of Sunni Muslim extremists gathered in a Holiday Inn in northern Virginia over the weekend and called for followers to wage jihad—or holy war—against infidels.

The radical extremists didn't call for violence against Jews or Christians, but instead used the so-called Final Prophet Conference to rage against another group of Muslims that, like most American Muslims, doesn't support violent jihad.

The Pakistani-American imams who led the event bashed the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, a religious movement founded in 19th-century India, according to one participant who attended the event. Among the main complaints was that Ahmadi Muslims criticize violence and forbid waging jihad against non-Muslim governments.

“Because Islam is being attacked from all corners, we as Muslims should work together. But glory be to Allah, we have decided not to support anything [Ahmadi Muslims] say,” Mufti Shazad Hussain, an imam in Virginia who addressed the participants, was quoted saying.

The conference organizers were Idara Dawat-O-Irshad and Khatme Nabuwwat Center, two Muslim groups registered as corporations in Virginia, just a short drive from the U.S. capital. The groups are working to export their extremist ideology and intolerance into the United States, critics say.

“Free speech doesn’t mean the freedom to promote violence. These people are as bad as the Nazis marching in Charlottesville,” Qasim Rashid, a spokesperson for the Ahmadiyya Muslim community in the U.S., told Newsweek.

“Every group has extremists, whether they are Christians, Muslims, Jews or Buddhists. I would like to see an environment where these radical ideologies are rooted out,” Rashid added, noting that it is “very concerning” that radical groups gathered in Virginia.

Ahmadiyya Muslims say that groups like the ones in Virginia give Muslims a bad name at a time when the Trump administration is already demonizing many Muslims and painting them as extremists.

“These groups are influential in places like Pakistan, but I’d bet 99.9 percent of American Muslims reject these guys,” Rashid said.

Ahmadi Muslims believe that the messiah has already arrived in the form of Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, a reformer who lived in India in the 1800s. Ahmad aimed to reform Muslims whose concept of jihad had become too violent. In response, extremist clerics in countries like Pakistan have banned the Ahmadi Muslims, and members of the group can be fined or even face capital punishment in Pakistan.

Ahmadi Muslims say it is their message of peace that offends the hardline extremists most. 

“In this battle of ideas, it is important for those standing up for peace and dialogue not to be silenced by fanatical groups,” Harris Zafar, author of Demystifying Islam and a member of the Ahmadiyya Muslim community, told Newsweek.

“It is important for our fellow Americans to understand that the extremists are not fighting Christians. They are fighting all humanity—including Muslims who disagree with their fanaticism.”

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US says attacks on Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar is 'ethnic cleansing'

Nov 22, 2017

The United States has described the ongoing violence against Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar as "ethnic cleansing", accusing the country's forces of perpetrating "horrendous atrocities" against Rohingyas.

The statement on Wednesday from US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, who visited Myanmar last week, is the strongest US condemnation yet of the military's crackdown against the Rohingya, which has triggered a major refugee crisis and escalating global outrage.

The top US diplomat blamed Myanmar's military and “local vigilantes” for what he called “intolerable suffering” by the Rohingya.

“After a careful and thorough analysis of available facts, it is clear that the situation in northern Rakhine state constitutes ethnic cleansing against the Rohingya,” Tillerson said in a statement.

Although Myanmar's military has blamed alleged Rohingya-affiliated militants for setting off the crisis, Tillerson said that “no provocation can justify the horrendous atrocities that have ensued.”

The government in Myanmar refuses to recognize the Rohingya Muslim minority in Rakhine as a local ethnic group even though they have lived there for generations.

Tillerson said that those who perpetrated the atrocities “must be held accountable.”

He said that the US would seek justice "through, including possible targeted sanctions."

Myanmar’s troops have intensified attacks against Rohingya Muslims in Rakhine state, home to over a million members of the desperate minority, since October 2016. The attacks have seen a sharp rise since August.

Earlier this month, the US House of Representatives passed a non-binding resolution condemning the “murderous ethnic cleansing and atrocities against civilians.”

It called on US President Donald Trump to impose sanctions on those responsible for human rights abuses, including members of Myanmar's military and security services.

Tillerson held talks with Myanmar’s leader Aung San Suu Kyi last week in Myanmar’s capital of Naypyidaw during his one-day visit there.

Suu Kyi, who was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1991, is also heavily criticized by a number of her fellow Nobel laureates, including Malala Yousafzai and Desmond Tutu, for allowing such atrocities against the Rohingya.

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US agency defends handling of travel ban, report

22 November 2017

The actions of U.S. border officials in implementing President Donald Trump's travel ban on seven Muslim-majority countries were legal and professional, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) said Tuesday amid controversy surrounding its handling of a biting report.

“The Department’s many officials conducted themselves professionally and in a legal manner as they implemented an Executive Order issued by the President," department spokesman Tyler Houlton said in a statement to Anadolu Agency.

The defense comes a day after a letter from the department's inspector general to lawmakers was posted online, alleging impropriety surrounding the implementation of the travel ban.

In it, DHS Inspector General John Roth said Customs and Border Protection agents "violated two separate court orders" that limited the implementation of Trump's travel ban on the seven Muslim-majority countries.

In breaking with the White House's narrative of how Trump's order was implemented, Roth said departments responsible for implementation "had virtually no warning that the [Executive Order] was to be issued, or the scope of the order" and that basic questions were left unanswered when it went into effect.

The findings are part of an 87-page report Roth said he finished in early October but has stalled as Department officials weigh blocking it over material that may be covered under attorney-client privilege, or a separate privilege known as "deliberative process”.

Roth wrote that he is "particularly troubled" with the prospect of the department invoking deliberative process.

"Invoking the deliberative process privilege, in this report and in future reports, would significantly hamper my office's ability to keep ‘Congress fully and currently informed about problems and deficiencies' of the Department as required by the Inspector General Act," he wrote.

Regarding his finding that the department violated two court orders, he said if the privilege is invoked, he will be unable to lay out the factual basis for how he came to that conclusion.

Houlton said material within the report "is covered by privileges afforded by well-recognized law.

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