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Islamic World News ( 12 Aug 2023, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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Hate Speech in Nuh Violence: Calls for Economic Boycott of Muslims Unacceptable, Says Supreme Court

New Age Islam News Bureau

12 August 2023

 

Photo:  Live Law

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·         Listen to ‘Mann Ki Baat’ Of Muslims: Jama Masjid Shahi Imam to PM Modi

·         Pakistan Minorities Want Bar Lifted on Non-Muslims from Becoming President, PM

·         Darul Ifta office of the Islamic Emirate Issues Fatwa Prohibiting Afghans from War Abroad: Spokesman Mujahid

·         Man Sent White Powder to Schools and Shopping Centres in Hoax Islamic Extremist Terror Campaign

 

India

·         Nuh Clashes: DC Issues Notice To 11 Sarpanches for Banning Entry Of ‘Muslim’ Community

·         Probe agency NIA arrests 6th accused in Islamic State module case

·         I Won't Seek Muslim Votes: Assam CM Himanta Biswa Sarma

·         Bengal Imam association condemns violence in Hooghly

·         'No Anti-Muslim Resolutions': Haryana Government Warns Panchayats of Action

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Pakistan

·         PML-N hopes SC order will not impede Nawaz’s return to country, politics

·         PM Shehbaz, Raja Riaz expected to finalise name of caretaker premier today as deadline nears

·         Speakers urge Pakistan, Afghanistan to start talks afresh on TTP

·         Islamabad High Court summons record of Toshakhana case against PTI chief

·         KP Governor accepts resignations of 14 ministers, 11 CM aides

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South Asia

·         Muttaqi applauds China’s constructive policy towards Afghanistan

·         US Issues Statement from C5+1 Special Session on Afghanistan

·         Muttaqi Discusses with UNAMA Head Continued 'Positive Interaction' with UN

·         Afghani Value Has Risen but Price of Goods Has Not Changed: Residents

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Europe

·         Church Responds to Winchester Muslims' Interest in Hyde Parish Hall

·         Worshippers flock to Harlow Mosque after arson attack

·         Family has Exeter Mosque ban lifted after four-year battle

·         Russia issues positive update on historic lunar mission

·         Anti-Russia sanctions destroying German industry – MP

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Mideast

·         Bahrain Is Empowering Young People to Help Achieve Sustainable Development Goals, King’s Representative Says

·         Israel Downgrades Homicide Charge in Settler Case; Washington Describes it a “Terror Attack”

·         Potential impact of deal on Ankara’s humanitarian responsibilities ignites fresh discussions

·         Death toll in Daesh attack on Syria army bus rises to 33: Monitor

·         Cyprus is sending Syrian migrants back to Lebanon. The UN is concerned but Cypriots say it’s lawful

·         Israel deports Jewish Iranian suspected of spying attempt with tissue box

·         Migrant crisis: 24 hours at sea with Tunisia’s coastguard

·         UN says 5 staff members kidnapped in Yemen 18 months ago walk free

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Arab World

·         Syria: Islamic State Terrorists Increase Attacks on Government Forces

·         Final day to explore ‘Mosques in Qatar: Then and Now’ exhibit at MIA

·         Mauritanian Mufti: Kingdom's Efforts in Serving Islam and Muslims Appreciated

·         Sarajevo Mufti Commends Islamic Affairs Ministry's Efforts in Organizing Conference to Boost Mutual Understanding for Islamic Action

·         Decaying Yemen tanker no longer a ‘ticking time bomb’ after 1m barrels of oil removed

·         How Saudi Arabia is building the foundation of a year-round tourist destination

·         Saudi Arabia welcomes emptying of decaying Safar tanker off Yemen's coast

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Africa

·         Nigeria: 7 Worshippers Killed as Mosque in Northwestern Part Of Country Collapses During Prayers

·         Thousands of coup supporters rally near French base in Niger

·         Ethiopia: return to "calm" in Amhara after a withdrawal of militias

·         DRC: at least 4 dead in the collapse of a school in Bukavu

·         Jewish kids of colour attend inclusive summer camp

·         Niger: AU deems Bazoum's detention conditions "inadmissible"

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North America

·         Iranian Commander Rebuffs US Accusation Iran Destabilizing Region, Says US 'Master Of World’s Pirates'

·         US slaps sanctions on Russian financial elite

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Southeast Asia

·         Take pride in distinct Malaysian values and way of life

·         State elections: Siti Nurhaliza, Harith Iskander among local celebrities urging Malaysians to cast their votes

·         PM Anwar says situation calm in all six states, advises voters to cast ballots early

·         Why the Singapore presidential election matters

·         No reports on 3R issues during state elections, says deputy IGP

·         PN can retain Kedah, Kelantan and Terengganu, says Dr Mahathir

 Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau

URL:    https://newageislam.com/islamic-world-news/hate-speech-nuh-boycott-muslims-supreme-court/d/130436

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Hate Speech in Nuh Violence: Calls for Economic Boycott of Muslims Unacceptable, Says Supreme Court

 

Photo:  Live Law

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12 AUG 2023

Justices Sanjiv Khanna and SVN Bhatti suggested formation of a committee headed by the Haryana police chief to examine complaints of hate speech.

The Supreme Court on Friday remarked that calls made for economic boycott of Muslims after the communal violence in Haryana’s Nuh district were “unacceptable”, Bar and Bench reported.

A bench of Justices Sanjiv Khanna and SVN Bhatti suggested formation of a committee headed by the Haryana director general of police to examine complaints of hate speech reported in the aftermath of the violence. If allegations are found true, the judges said that directions can be issued to the police authorities to act against the miscreants.

“The problem is, at the SHO [station house officer] level or at the level of the police station, the understanding of the nuances of the law is a little different,” Justice Khanna said. “Whereas senior or mid-level officers...They can sensitise them.”

Communal clashes erupted between Hindus and Muslims during the Brij Mandal Jalabhishek Yatra, a procession organised by the Bajrang Dal and the Vishwa Hindu Parishad, on July 31, and quickly spread beyond Nuh.

Hindu mobs went on a rampage in Gurugram, torching a mosque in Sector 57, killing its deputy imam and setting fire to shops and shanties of Muslim migrant workers in Sector 70 the next day.

A petition filed in the Supreme Court by journalist Shaheen Abdullah stated that over 27 rallies were organised in various states after the violence and speakers delivered hate speech, PTI reported.

“In a video that surfaced on social media on August 2, a procession by the Samhast Hindu Samaj can be seen walking through a neighbourhood in Hisar, Haryana, in the presence of police officials issuing warnings to residents/shopkeepers that if they continue to employ/keep any Muslims after two days then their shops will be boycotted,” the plea said.

At Friday’s hearing, senior advocate Kapil Sibal, representing Abdullah, said that the Supreme Court must protect people and not allow “this kind of vitriol” to go unchecked.

Justice Khanna underlined the need to maintain harmony between communities. “This problem has to be solved,” he added. “No one can accept it.”

Additional Solicitor General KM Nataraj said that there is already a mechanism under the law to address the problem of hate speech but in some places it is not working.

When the bench asked Sibal about the idea mooted by it for setting up a committee, the lawyer submitted, “My problem is when someone threatens shopkeepers to throw out Muslims in the next two days, this committee is not going to help.”

Sibal added that the police do not arrest the culprits once first information reports are registered. “Nothing happens after FIRs are registered,” he lamented. “Then, what is the point of saying an FIR has been registered?”

The matter will be heard next on August 18.

Source: scroll.in

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https://scroll.in/latest/1054201/nuh-violence-calls-for-economic-boycott-of-muslims-unacceptable-says-supreme-court

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Listen to ‘Mann Ki Baat’ Of Muslims: Jama Masjid Shahi Imam to PM Modi

 

Shahi Imam of Delhi’s Jama Masjid Syed Bukhari. (HT File Photo)

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August 12, 2023

By Madhuri Adnal

Expressing deep concern about the growing animosity towards Muslims in the country and recent incidents of violence in Haryana's Nuh, Syed Ahmed Bukhari, the Shahi Imam of Jama Masjid, urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday to engage with the "Mann Ki Baat" of the community.

Pointing out the series of violent episodes targeting Muslims, Bukhari advised both PM Modi and Union Home Minister Amit Shah to initiate dialogues with

In light of the unsettling state of the country, Bukhari stated, "I feel compelled to speak out. The spreading of hatred among citizens poses a signi cant threat to our nation's peace and harmony."

Drawing a parallel with PM Modi's monthly radio program, Bukhari emphasized, "You express your 'Mann Ki Baat,' but you must also lend an ear to the 'Mann Ki Baat' of Muslims."

He further elaborated, "The present state of a airs in our nation has left Muslims deeply perturbed, and the community is concerned about its future."

Bukhari stressed that the existing legal framework isn't su cient to address the issues of hatred and communal con icts.

In reference to instances where Panchayats called for the boycotting of Muslims following the violence in Nuh, Bukhari pointed out that people of a particular faith are facing open threats.

"The harmony between Hindus and Muslims is at risk," he cautioned, emphasizing that the government has the capability to manage the current situation.

Bukhari a rmed that the Muslim community is prepared for discussions to counteract the growing sentiment of hatred and division and to work towards preserving the nation's unity.

Regarding the Nuh violence, clashes between Hindus and Muslims erupted in Haryana's Nuh following an attack on the VHP-led Brij Mandal Jalabhishek Yatra. The violence, which began on July 31, subsequently spread to other parts of Haryana, including Gurgaon and Faridabad. Tragically, the clashes led to the loss of six lives and left around 50 others injured.

Source: oneindia.com

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original

https://www.oneindia.com/india/listen-to-mann-ki-baat-of-muslims-jama-masjid-shahi-imam-to-pm-modi-3607943.html

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Pakistan Minorities Want Bar Lifted on Non-Muslims from Becoming President, PM

 

Rally participants and police scuffle as civil society and minority members try to march towards D-Chowk in Islamabad on Friday. — Photo by Tanveer Shahzad

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Kalbe Ali- August 12, 2023

ISLAMABAD: The Minorities Alliance of Pakistan on Friday demanded more seats in national and provincial assemblies for members of religious minorities besides an amendment to article 41 and 91 of the Constitution to remove the bar on non-Muslims from becoming president and prime minister of Pakistan.

Addressing a ‘Jinnah’s Pakistan public rally’ held to mark the National Minorities Day, Akmal Bhatti, the alliance chairman, said misuse of sensitive religious/blasphemy laws should stop in the country and there has to be provision of free and fair justice to the victims.

“Members of religious minorities have played a vital role in Pakistan movement, its development, defence and progress. Our people sacrificed their lives for the motherland; we are proud to be citizens of Pakistan, but now, unfortunately, the vision of Quaid-i-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah has been forgotten,” Mr Bhatti said.

He said those who played the religion card for their political motives ruined peace and harmony in society.

Other speakers said religious campaigns were being launched to victimise political or personal opponents and settle personal vendetta by misusing the blasphemy laws.

They regretted that state institutions, including police, had been providing cover to elements involved in forced conversions.

A resolution passed at the rally held at Jinnah Avenue slammed both the PDM and PTI governments for ignoring the demand of minorities to impose a ban on forced conversions.

The resolution said there should be legislation to ban forced conversion of minor girls. It also called the implementation of the five per cent quota allocated for minorities in formal and technical educational schools, colleges and universities.

Moreover, the speech of Quiad-i-Azam made on August 11, 1947, should be the integral part of the 1973 constitution.

Those who addressed the rally included Shamaoun Gill, Anosh Bhatti, Asif John, Sadaf Adnan, Ijaz Ghori, Fiaz Bhatti, Dalair Singh, Bishop Zahid Bahir, Sarfraz Gill and George Mehboob.

Taxila

Walk, seminar and cake cutting events were held in Hassanabdal and Attock to honour the services and sacrifices rendered by religious minorities for the country.

A walk arranged by the Sikh community and attended by members of the Sikh, Hindu and Christian communities was organised at Hassanabdal.

The walk was led by Deputy Commissioner Attock Rao Atif Raza along with Assistant Commissioner Sana Ramchand, which commenced from the municipal committee building and concluded at Gurdwara Panja Sahib.

Speaking on the ceremony, the DC said Pakistan reassures its minorities of their future rights by specifically allocating a portion of the national flag, the white colour, which traditionally represents purity and innocence and which the minorities have kept so over many decades.

He said the Constitution gives minorities all the privileges and facilities and their places of worship were being made safe.

The assistant commissioner said religious minorities in Pakistan have full rights as equal citizens. This country was built by followers of all religions united under the leadership of the Quaid.

She was of the view that the minority community had been playing an important role in the progress and development of the country. Meanwhile, the National Minority Day was also observed at Gurdwara Panja Sahib Hassanabdal.

The Sikh community arranged an event to honour the services and sacrifices rendered by religious minorities for the country.

Speaking as chief guest, Pakistan Baitul Maal (PBM) Managing Director Amir Fida Paracha said religious freedom and the protection of the rights of minorities were enshrined in the constitution and protected by a number of legislative, policy and administrative measures.

PPP divisional vice president minorities wing Sardar Ravinder Singh Jaggi called for the implementation of Quaid’s principles of tolerance and religious freedom. He said in his 14 points, Mr Jinnah had stated that if any piece of legislation was not endorsed by minorities it could not become a law.

PPP Attock President Sardar Asher Hayat Khan said the Sikh and Christian communities had made tremendous contributions in the fields of medicine and education.

PPP leader Zulfiqar Hayat Khan said while some people had hijacked religious freedom in the country, the PPP was committed to bringing all citizens at one platform.

A seminar to mark the day was also held at Jinnah Hall Attock.

— Amjad Iqbal also contributed to the story

Source: dawn.com

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https://www.dawn.com/news/1769626/minorities-want-bar-lifted-on-non-muslims-from-becoming-president-pm

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Darul Ifta Issues Fatwa Prohibiting Afghans From War Abroad: Mujahid

 

The Islamic Emirate’s spokesman, Zabiullah Mujahid,

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August 11, 2023

He said that based on the Fatwa, war in other countries should be based on orders of the leader of the Islamic Emirate.

The Islamic Emirate’s spokesman, Zabiullah Mujahid, said that the leader Mawlawi Hibatullah Akhundzada has not issued any decree about war in Pakistan, but the Darul Ifta office of the Islamic Emirate issued a Fatwa which prohibits people from going to war abroad without orders of the leader of the Islamic Emirate.

He said that based on the Fatwa, sending people to war abroad should be based on orders of the leader of the Islamic Emirate.

“This is clear. This is the Sharia order, which has been given by the Darul Ifta of the Islamic Emirate not by Amirul Momineen (Islamic Emirate leader). The Darul Ifta has stated the Mujahideen (Islamic Emirate’s troops) going out of the country for war is not Jihad and that in such situations the order of the Amir or permission of the Amir of the Muslims is compulsory,” he said.

This comes as some Pakistani media reported that the Islamic Emirate issued a decree which prohibits war in Pakistan. The report said that the senior members of the Islamic Emirate does not want the decree to be leaked.

Meanwhile, the head of Jamaat-i-Islami of Pakistan, Sirajul Haq, said on social media that the Fatwa (formal ruling or interpretation on a point of Islamic law) by the Islamic Emirate’s leader, Mawlawi Hibatullah Akhundzada, against terrorism in Pakistan is a welcomed step.

He said that peace in Pakistan is necessary for peace in Afghanistan.

Mufti Abdul Rauf, a religious cleric and a figure close to the Islamic Emirate, in a video clip said that the Afghan citizens are not responsible for war abroad.

The Jihad of other countries is not on the people of Afghanistan. The principle of this decision which the Taliban made abroad (in Doha) is in line with Sharia. Even if the Ulema were thinking of something else, they should refer to the books, which I will mention for them. So there is no Jihad compulsory for individuals. And as there is not equal power, the Amir is exempt because the power is not equal (to other major countries) and Jihad is not compulsory for the Amir either.

"About Pakistan, I must say that the issues in Pakistan are internal including the political, economic and security crisis,” said Wahid Faqiri, a political analyst.

Meanwhile, some Pakistani officials urged the Islamic Emirate leader to make public decree about prohibition of war in Pakistan.

Source: tolonews.com

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https://tolonews.com/afghanistan-184593#:~:text=The%20Islamic%20Emirate's%20spokesman%2C%20Zabiullah,leader%20of%20the%20Islamic%20Emirate.

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Man Sent White Powder To Schools And Shopping Centres In Hoax Islamic Extremist Terror Campaign

 

A file image of Westfield shopping centre in Stratford (Nick Ansell/PA)

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11 August 2023

Tristan Kirk

A man from Suffolk who sent envelopes of white powder to schools, shopping centres, and businesses in a hoax terror campaign while posing as an Islamic extremist is facing jail.

Gary John Preston, 63, sent packages to Westfield shopping centres in east and west London, two primary schools in Essex, the DVLA headquarters in Swansea, and a Premier Inn close to Stansted Airport in a six-week campaign of terror.

Some of the packages contained notes with Arabic symbols as well as written threats, including: “Think fast you have seconds.”

In others, Preston wrote: “U Should think fast u now have seconds Insha’Allah” and “If I was you I would hold my breath and run in the name of Allah.”

The white powder in the parcels was later tested and found to be talcum powder.

Preston, who lives in the market town of Haverhill in Suffolk, sent the packages between September and November 2013.

His targets included locations in Braintree in Essex; to the local college, Notley High School, Lyons Hall and St Michael’s Church of England primary schools, as well as the Freeport Shopping Centre, and branches of Vision Express, Coral Bookmakers, Specsavers, Barclays Bank, and Costa Coffee.

Also among the targets were Transport for London, Essex County Council, the Premier Inn at Stansted Airport, Westfield Shopping Centres in White City and Stratford and Elmsleigh Shopping Centre in Staines, Anglia Ruskin University in Chelmsford, an investment management firm, also in Chelmsford, a Holiday Inn in Hayes, west London, and Bishops Stortford Post Office.

Preston was not caught at the time of the terror campaign, as fingerprint and DNA evidence could not be matched to a suspect.

However he was identified in 2020 after a series of incidents involving concerning behaviour and white powder.

In August 2020, Preston called the fire brigade and claimed he had taken ricin, two months later his uncle reported taking “toxic plants” away from him, and in November 2020 Preston threw an unknown powder over a paramedic, an earlier court hearing was told.

At Woolwich crown court on Friday, Preston pleaded guilty to 21 charges brought under anti-terror laws, following an investigation by the Eastern Region Special Operations Unit (ERSOU).

He admitted sending notes “with the intention of inducing in a person a belief that it is likely to be, or contain, a noxious substance or other noxious thing and thereby endanger human life or create a serious risk to human health”.

Preston was remanded in custody until a sentencing hearing on November 10.

Hannah Wilkinson, head of ERSOU’s Counter Terrorism Policing unit, said: “Preston was intent on causing significant distress and concern among those who received these packages, and to target places such as schools really shows the extent of his warped mindset.

“Despite the offences taking place some time ago, our detectives continued to revisit the investigation and as soon as new evidence became available, we were able to step up our enquiries once more.

“I’m delighted the weight of evidence brought together by our investigators left Preston with little option but to plead guilty.”

Source: uk.news.yahoo.com

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https://uk.news.yahoo.com/man-sent-white-powder-schools-172749236.html

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India

 

Nuh clashes: DC issues notice to 11 sarpanches for banning entry of ‘Muslim’ community

Aug 12, 2023

Sarpanches of eleven villages in the district had issued statements on the village letterheads, stating that they won’t allow traders and vendors of a particular community to come into their villages

Taking cognizance of diktats issued by heads of 11 villages in Rewari district banning the entry of outsiders from a particular community, deputy commissioner Mohd Imran Raza issued notices to the sarpanches of these villages, terming the move as ‘unconstitutional’ and sought a reply from them within seven days.

Raza said sarpanches of eleven villages in the district had issued statements on the village letterheads, stating that they won’t allow traders and vendors of a particular community to come into their villages.

“The panchayats had not passed any resolutions in this regard and we have served notices to these village heads and sought reply within a seven days time. If they fail to give a satisfactory reply, then action will be initiated under section 51 of the Haryana Panchayati Raj Act, 1994,” the DC added.

According to the notice served to sarpanches on Thursday, the deputy commissioner stated that the sarpanches had taken an ‘illegal and unconstitutional’ decision by banning the entry of traders from a particular community into their villages.

“It was your duty to maintain peace and brotherhood in the village post Nuh violence and keep a tab on the activities in the area besides informing the administration about every incident. Why action should not be taken against you for violating section 51 (suspension and removal of sarpanch or panch by the deputy commissioner and director concerned) of the Haryana Panchayati Raj Act, 1994,” the notice reads.

Several panchayats in Rewari, Mahendergarh and Jhajjar districts of Haryana had banned ‘Muslim’ traders from entering their villages post Nuh clashes. The language of the statements issued by village heads was similar and they cited that their religious sentiments were hurt after stones were pelted on a procession carried out by Hindu outfits.

On August 4, Hindustan Times was the first to report about the village heads barring the entry of Muslim traders in Rewari and Mahendergarh villages.

Ratan Singh, a sarpanch from Salarpur village in Mahendragarh had told HT that people of the community were attempting to loot their village.

When asked how many loot incidents had taken place in his village, Ratan was not able to answer and said the decision (to bar entry of a particular community) was taken by the entire village. The sarpanch of Rewari’s Chimnawas had echoed similar views.

The sarpanches on Saturday could not be reached for comments despite various attempts.

Congress MLA from Nuh Aftab Ahmed demanded strict action against the village heads banning the entry of Muslim traders into their villages.

“It is the need of the hour to maintain peace and harmony and these panchayats had unconstitutionally issued diktats banning the entry of Muslim traders. The administration and the government have failed in discharging their duties,” he added.

Khaps backed Muslim community

Several khaps and farmer outfits have condemned the village heads for issuing ‘diktats’ and called it ‘an attempt by the ruling government’ to divide people on communal lines to garner political benefit.

Suresh Koth, a senior khap and farmer leader from Hisar, said they will kick-off campaigns across the state to restore peace and it was their duty to safeguard people of a particular community where their population is less.

“The Mewatis have had a history of courage and their sacrifice in the Independence movement can’t be ignored. We will not allow any communal incident to take place in Haryana. Post Independence, this was the first communal tension that occurred in Nuh and it was orchestrated by the Hindu outfits,” he added.

Haryana development and panchayat minister Devender Babli said efforts were on to restore peace and strict action will be taken against the panchayats who had issued such diktats. He said the government will deal strictly with such people.

Source: hindustantimes.com

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https://www.hindustantimes.com/cities/chandigarh-news/deputy-commissioner-issues-notices-to-village-heads-over-ban-on-entry-of-outsiders-terms-move-unconstitutional-101691781785072.html

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Probe agency NIA arrests 6th accused in Islamic State module case

Aug 12, 2023

Divyesh Singh

The National Investigation Agency (NIA), on Friday, arrested Shamil Saquib Nachan for his active involvement in promoting terrorist activities of a designated foreign terrorist organisation in the Pune Islamic State module case.

This is the sixth arrest by the NIA in the case.

The accused, Shamil Saquib Nachan who lives in Maharashtra's Thane, was found involved in the fabrication, training and testing of Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) for terrorist acts.

Shamil's father, Saquib Nachan, had been convicted in three cases in connection with the Bombay blasts that happened in Mumbai in 2002 on Mumbai Central, Vile Parle and Mulund trains.

Shamil had been working in collaboration with five other accused, identified as Zulfikar Ali Barodawala, Mohammed Imran Khan, Mohammed Yunus Saki, Simab Nasiruddin Kazi and Abdul Kadir Pathan, along with some other suspects.

Two of the accused, Imran Khan and Mohammed Yunus Saki, were members of the ‘Sufa terrorist gang’ and were on the run.

NIA had declared them ‘most wanted’ in a case relating to the recovery of explosives from a car in Rajasthan in April 2022.

These members of an IS sleeper module, including Shamil, were operating from a house in Kondhwa, Pune, where they had assembled IEDs and also organised and participated in a bomb training and bomb-making workshop last year.

They had also carried out a controlled explosion at this location to test an IED fabricated by them.

The NIA, on August 3, had said that the accused had plans to commit terrorist acts with the aim of disturbing peace and communal harmony of the country. They had planned to wage a war against the Indian government as part of the ISIS agenda.

Source: indiatoday.in

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https://www.indiatoday.in/india/story/probe-agency-nia-arrests-6th-accused-in-pune-isis-module-case-2419916-2023-08-12

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I Won't Seek Muslim Votes: Assam CM Himanta Biswa Sarma

August 12, 2023

By Prakash Kl

Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma on Friday said that he will not seek the votes of Muslims and will not do "vote bank politics."

"Right now, I don't want Muslim votes. All problems happen because of vote bank politics...I visit a Muslim area once a month, attend their events and meet people, but I don't link politics with development. I want Muslims to realise their relationship with the Congress is all about votes," NDTV quoted the Assam Chief Minister as saying in an interview.

He claimed that he would develop the areas of Muslims rst after which they can vote for him.

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colleges instead. I am going to inaugurate seven colleges for Muslim daughters, especially girls," Sarma added.

Sarma indicated that the BJP's relationship with Muslims is beyond votes.

"The Congress did not build infrastructure or schools in Muslim areas. But I want to develop them. I will do this for 10-15 years, then I will ask for votes from Muslims. If I ask for votes from them now, it will become a give-and- take relationship. I don't want it to be a transactional relationship," the Chief Minister added.

Sarma claimed that he did not campaign in Muslim areas in the previous election. "In 2016 and 2020, during campaigning, I did not go to Muslim areas. I had said I would go only after winning the election. Even this time I am telling them, vote for whoever you want. BJP will not campaign in their area," the Assam CM, who quit Congress in 2015 to join the BJP in Congress, added.

In 2016, the BJP emerged victorious in Assam Assembly polls by unseating the Congress's Tarun Gogoi-led government that had held power for three consecutive terms. The sa ron party's success was widely attributed to Sarma's strategic manoeuvres. In the following year, despite securing fewer seats than Congress, the BJP managed to establish a government in Manipur.

Source: oneindia.com

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https://www.oneindia.com/india/i-wont-seek-muslim-votes-assam-cm-himanta-biswa-sarma-3607827.html

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Bengal Imam association condemns violence in Hooghly

Aug 11, 2023

Clashes broke out between the workers of the Indian Secular Front (ISF) and the police in Hooghly district’s Furfura Sharif on Thursday. The Bengal Imam Association condemned the violent events and urged Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee-led state government to handle the situation with “more sympathy and responsibility”.

MD Yahiya, chairman of the Bengal Imam Association, stated that the incident which happened in Furfura Sharif yesterday is a matter of anger. “Bengal imam Association is condemning the incident. At a time when INDIA is trying to create a situation against the BJP, the process of handling Furfura Sharif incident by the state government is painful,” he said.

MD Yahiya said, “We are concerned that a dangerous politics may unfold in the near future.”

He alleged mishandling of the incident by the police officers and appealed to the government to "handle the situation with more sympathy and responsibility."

Clashes had erupted at Furfura Sharif in the Hooghly district between workers of the Indian Secular Front (ISF) and the police. The conflict began over the formation of the Panchayat board.

Reports indicate instances of bombing and brick-throwing in the area. An assistant superintendent of police (ASP) is reportedly among those injured in the clash. The police had to deploy tear gas shells to disperse the crowd and regain control of the situation.

Out of the 29 Panchayat seats in Furfura, Trinamool is reported to have secured 24 of them, while the alliance of CPI(M) and ISF managed to secure five seats.

Source: indiatoday.in

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original

https://www.indiatoday.in/india/story/bengal-imam-association-condemns-clashes-furfura-sharif-hooghly-2419813-2023-08-11

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'No anti-Muslim resolutions': Haryana government warns panchayats of action

Aug 11, 2023

Manjeet Sehgal

The Haryana government has decided to take action against panchayats passing anti-Muslim resolutions. Senior bureaucrats in different districts have asked the sarpanchs (village heads) to refrain from passing such resolutions and warned of strict actions under the Panchayat Raj Act. Various panchayats in Haryana have recently passed resolutions against Muslims, barring them from running businesses and shops or entering the villages.

Copies of these panchayat resolutions were being circulated on social media. Many village heads also confirmed on record that they wrote letters to the Sub Divisional Magistrates (SMDs) police officials stating that they “feared the outsiders” or the people of a particular community “in the garb of hawkers can spoil the peace in their village”.

"I had written a letter to the SHO informing that the people of a particular community or anti-social elements should not enter our village without permission so that the village remains peaceful. The activities of hawkers are suspicious as they often steal things during the night", the sarpanch of Bhudpur Panchayat in Rewari, Monika said.

According to Deputy Commissioner of Rewari, Imran Raza, most of the sarpanches did not get the nod of their panchayats to pass the resolutions or write to SDM. They did it on their own, the Deputy Commissioner said.

He said that the sarpanches found guilty of writing the controversial letters to the SDMs will face action under the Panchayat Raj Act.

Deputy Commissioner of Mahendergarh, Monika Gupta, also advised sarpanches of various panchayats not to publish provoking posts on social media. She also held a meeting with them.

Thirteen panchayats under Narnaul Tehsil in the Mahendergarh area passed the resolutions. These resolutions read, “Keeping in view the attacks on Hindus in Nuh, the village has decided that any person belonging to the Muslim community and the mischievous elements will not be allowed to seek alms, doing any kind of business including hawking and buying the cattle. For this, the people of the Muslim community first do a recce during the day and indulge in thefts in the dark. This decision has been taken keeping in view social harmony and does not mean hurting religious sentiments of any community".

Bachhaud, Navadi, Uninda, Silarpur, Tazpur, Mahasar, Bajad, Mohlada, Prithipura, Naangal, Saidpur, Rampura and Khairana Panchayat are some of the local bodies that passed this resolution.

Source: indiatoday.in

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Pakistsan

 

Pakistan Minorities want bar lifted on non-Muslims from becoming president, PM

Kalbe Ali- August 12, 2023

ISLAMABAD: The Minorities Alliance of Pakistan on Friday demanded more seats in national and provincial assemblies for members of religious minorities besides an amendment to article 41 and 91 of the Constitution to remove the bar on non-Muslims from becoming president and prime minister of Pakistan.

Addressing a ‘Jinnah’s Pakistan public rally’ held to mark the National Minorities Day, Akmal Bhatti, the alliance chairman, said misuse of sensitive religious/blasphemy laws should stop in the country and there has to be provision of free and fair justice to the victims.

“Members of religious minorities have played a vital role in Pakistan movement, its development, defence and progress. Our people sacrificed their lives for the motherland; we are proud to be citizens of Pakistan, but now, unfortunately, the vision of Quaid-i-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah has been forgotten,” Mr Bhatti said.

He said those who played the religion card for their political motives ruined peace and harmony in society.

Other speakers said religious campaigns were being launched to victimise political or personal opponents and settle personal vendetta by misusing the blasphemy laws.

They regretted that state institutions, including police, had been providing cover to elements involved in forced conversions.

A resolution passed at the rally held at Jinnah Avenue slammed both the PDM and PTI governments for ignoring the demand of minorities to impose a ban on forced conversions.

The resolution said there should be legislation to ban forced conversion of minor girls. It also called the implementation of the five per cent quota allocated for minorities in formal and technical educational schools, colleges and universities.

Moreover, the speech of Quiad-i-Azam made on August 11, 1947, should be the integral part of the 1973 constitution.

Those who addressed the rally included Shamaoun Gill, Anosh Bhatti, Asif John, Sadaf Adnan, Ijaz Ghori, Fiaz Bhatti, Dalair Singh, Bishop Zahid Bahir, Sarfraz Gill and George Mehboob.

Taxila

Walk, seminar and cake cutting events were held in Hassanabdal and Attock to honour the services and sacrifices rendered by religious minorities for the country.

A walk arranged by the Sikh community and attended by members of the Sikh, Hindu and Christian communities was organised at Hassanabdal.

The walk was led by Deputy Commissioner Attock Rao Atif Raza along with Assistant Commissioner Sana Ramchand, which commenced from the municipal committee building and concluded at Gurdwara Panja Sahib.

Speaking on the ceremony, the DC said Pakistan reassures its minorities of their future rights by specifically allocating a portion of the national flag, the white colour, which traditionally represents purity and innocence and which the minorities have kept so over many decades.

He said the Constitution gives minorities all the privileges and facilities and their places of worship were being made safe.

The assistant commissioner said religious minorities in Pakistan have full rights as equal citizens. This country was built by followers of all religions united under the leadership of the Quaid.

She was of the view that the minority community had been playing an important role in the progress and development of the country. Meanwhile, the National Minority Day was also observed at Gurdwara Panja Sahib Hassanabdal.

The Sikh community arranged an event to honour the services and sacrifices rendered by religious minorities for the country.

Speaking as chief guest, Pakistan Baitul Maal (PBM) Managing Director Amir Fida Paracha said religious freedom and the protection of the rights of minorities were enshrined in the constitution and protected by a number of legislative, policy and administrative measures.

PPP divisional vice president minorities wing Sardar Ravinder Singh Jaggi called for the implementation of Quaid’s principles of tolerance and religious freedom. He said in his 14 points, Mr Jinnah had stated that if any piece of legislation was not endorsed by minorities it could not become a law.

PPP Attock President Sardar Asher Hayat Khan said the Sikh and Christian communities had made tremendous contributions in the fields of medicine and education.

PPP leader Zulfiqar Hayat Khan said while some people had hijacked religious freedom in the country, the PPP was committed to bringing all citizens at one platform.

A seminar to mark the day was also held at Jinnah Hall Attock.

— Amjad Iqbal also contributed to the story

Source: www.dawn.com

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PML-N hopes SC order will not impede Nawaz’s return to country, politics

Iftikhar A. Khan Published August 12, 2023

ISLAMABAD: PML-N leaders remained hopeful that the party supremo Nawaz Sharif will return to Pakistan and even lead the election campaign despite the Supreme Court’s decision to strike down the law to expand the scope of a review petition.

The court said the parliament had gone beyond its legislative competence by enacting the Supreme Court (Review of Judge­ments and Orders) Act, 2023.

The decision prompted a sharp rebuke from PML-N leaders who assailed the verdict, calling it a “contempt of parliament”. Leading the outcry, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif said parliament was empowered to make laws and this was the first time in history that legislation was stopped in anticipation.

“I have not seen it happening anywhere in the world,” the prime minister said during an interview with Samaa TV on Friday.

He said there was no restriction on the PML-N supremo’s right to contest the election as he had completed his five-year disqualification period.

“As far as Nawaz Sharif is concerned, the law is in the field now under which the maximum disqualification period is five years. There is no restriction on Nawaz Sharif [to contest the election] as he has completed his five-year disqualification.”

The new law promulgated by parliament had overwritten the previous law, the PM said, while referring to an amendment to the Elections Act, 2017 — passed by the parliament earlier this year — limiting the disqualification of lawmakers to five years with retrospective effect.

Former interior minister and PML-N Punjab President Rana Sanaullah claimed the judgement was “beyond the Supreme Court’s constitutional jurisdiction” and clearly “an encroachment on the parliament’s domain”. Talking to a TV channel, he said the court had become so politicised that people start predicting verdicts soon after the formation of benches.

It is parliament’s right to make laws and this power cannot be taken away, Mr Sanaullah said, adding that parliament had framed the Constitution under which the Supreme Court came into existence. The incoming parliament can place curbs on the Supreme Court’s powers if it commits contempt of parliament and encroaches upon its jurisdiction, the PML-N leader warned.

“What will happen if parliament amends the law to take away the power of the Supreme Court to interpret the Constitution and examine a law,” he asked. He also said the decision doesn’t, in any way, hinder Mr Nawaz’s plan to return and he will arrive next week and lead PML-N’s election campaign.

Former law minister Azam Nazeer Tarar also termed the judgement “an interference in parliament’s jurisdiction”. The Constitution has laid down rules for all state organs called the trichotomy of powers.

“Courts interfere in parliament’s jurisdiction again and again and give verdicts that put a curb on its supremacy […] this is not a good tradition,” he lamented. “This weakens state’s institutions and not strengthens them”.

He said the judgement will not affect the prospects of Mr Nawaz’s return to electoral politics as his lifetime disqualification had been shortened to five years.

Source: dawn.com

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PM Shehbaz, Raja Riaz expected to finalise name of caretaker premier today as deadline nears

Dawn.com

August 12, 2023

Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and outgoing Leader of Opposition in the National Assembly (NA) Raja Riaz are expected to finalise a name for the post of caretaker premier today (Saturday) as the deadline for deliberations over the matter looms.

On Friday, President Arif Alvi wrote to PM Shehbaz and Raja Riaz to propose a candidate for a caretaker prime minister by today. The Constitution mandates that the interim premier candidate be named within three days of the dissolution of the National Assembly. The NA was dissolved on August 9.

The law states that if the outgoing PM and the leader of the opposition cannot agree on who to appoint as the caretaker premier, they each forward two candidates to a committee. If the committee fails to make any decision, then the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) will have two days to choose the caretaker prime minister from the list of names shared with the commission.

Talking to reporters in Islamabad yesterday, PM Shehbaz had expressed confidence that the name of the head of the interim set-up would be finalised by Saturday.

He also hosted a dinner for leaders of the outgoing ruling alliance last night during which he held a second round of consultations with the opposition leader.

The first meeting for deliberations was held at the Prime Minister’s House on Friday, a day after the premature dissolution of the NA. They are expected to meet again today for the final round of consultations.

Sources privy to the current political situation told Dawn that the delay in nominating a caretaker prime minister was apparently because Raja Riaz, generally believed to be a “friendly opposition leader”, came out to be a different man, as he had been insisting on his candidate instead of agreeing to the names suggested by the PML-N.

Sources said PML-N supremo Nawaz Sharif was insisting, through PM Shehbaz Sharif, on former finance minister Ishaq Dar to be picked as caretaker premier, and if not Dar, then former prime minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi.

However, Riaz, a PTI dissident with no backing of a political party, was getting dictation from another power corridor and insisting on the name of Senate Chairman Sadiq Sanjrani, sources claimed. Sanjrani called on Riaz on Friday, as well as Dar and Ahsan Iqbal.

Bad blood between president, premier resurfaces

Meanwhile, bad blood between President Arif Alvi and PM Shehbaz resurfaced on Friday when the former wrote to the premier, asking him to appoint a caretaker prime minister within 24 hours.

In a letter written to PM Shehbaz and Mr Riaz on Friday, President Alvi recalled that he had dissolved the National Assembly on the premier’s advice on Aug 9.

“Under provision to Article 224 (1A) of the Constitution, President appoints caretaker prime minister in consultation with the prime minister and leader of the opposition in the National Assembly,” he wrote. “Under Article 224A of the Constitution, the prime minister and the leader of the opposition in the outgoing National Assembly are required to propose the name of a person for the appointment of caretaker prime minister within three days of the dissolution of the National Assembly.”

President Alvi then directed PM Shehbaz and Riaz to propose the name of the interim premier “not later than” Aug 12.

However, talking to journalists later, PM Shehbaz expressed his displeasure over the letter and said he still had eight days to serve as prime minister, adding that the president had no knowledge about the procedure of appointment of the caretaker prime minister as prescribed in the Constitution.

Possible contenders

A senior PML-N senator told Dawn that no person with political affiliation should be handed over the caretaker charge and no stakeholder should pressurise the other in this regard.

On the names of Ishaq Dar and Sadiq Sanjrani for the interim set-up, the senator said appointing any political figure could mar transparency and fairness in the next general elections. He added that the ECP, which is responsible for holding fair elections, could reject the nomination of any political appointee.

Another senior PML-N leader termed Sanjrani a “dark horse”.

Other possible contenders for the caretaker premier are Jilal Abbas Jilani, former finance ministers Dr Hafeez Sheikh and Ishaq Dar, former prime minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, former principal secretary Fawad Hassan Fawad, former justice Tassaduq Jilani, Abdullah Hussain Haroon, Pir Pagaro, and Makhdoom Mehmood Ahmed.

Source: dawn.com

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Speakers urge Pakistan, Afghanistan to start talks afresh on TTP

Iftikhar A. Khan Published August 12, 2023

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan and Afghanistan were urged on Friday to start fresh negotiations to break the ongoing deadlock on the issue of hideouts of outlawed Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and its cross-border terrorism.

Speakers at a consultation said Pakistan lacked continuity in its policies towards Afghanistan and stressed that Islamabad should come up with some “realistic and holistic” policy for the neighbouring country, which must be brought into public domain to make it more productive.

Academics, politicians, journalists, religious scholars and experts on Afghan affairs from Pakistan and Afghanistan expressed these views at a consultation on ‘Afghan peace and reconciliation: Pakistan’s interests and policy options’.

The consultation was the ninth in a series of discussions organised by Pak Institute for Peace Studies (PIPS), an Islamabad-based research and advocacy think tank, on the Afghan peace process.

Afghan-based journalist says Islamabad should avoid hard-hitting statements against Taliban regime

The main themes of the consultation included ‘Rising terrorism threat from TTP, IS-K (Islamic State Khorasan) and other groups’ and ‘the TTP as a major irritant in Pak-Afghan ties’.

The discussants said Pakistan should avoid talking to the interim government of Taliban in a “tough tone” as negotiations were the only way forward. They observed that the role of ulema was crucial in this regard. They said Pakistan’s initiative of fencing the Pakistan-Afghanistan border could not fully succeed in stopping cross-border terrorism from Afghanistan and it should enhance its capacity to prevent such violence.

Senior journalist and analyst Haroon Rashid said the issue of TTP was the basic impediment in bilateral relations between Pakistan and Afghanistan.

“There is a deadlock on the matter, which will persist as long as both sides don’t find a solution to the problem,” he said. He underlined that Pakistan would have to work on some strategy to weaken the TTP.

Mufti Mohammad Qasim Haqqani, central leader of Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) in Chaman (Balochistan), suggested that a delegation of local religious scholars and Pashtun leadership should meet with Afghan Taliban in Kabul to discuss with them all issues between the two countries, including that of TTP militants.

“Separate conferences of ulema of Pakistan and Afghanistan should be held in Kabul and Islamabad to debate and resolve issues between both the countries,” he added.

Afghan-based journalist and educationist Muzhgan Feraji talked about rights of education and employment being denied to women in Afghanistan by the Taliban regime in Kabul.

“If women have the right to education and employment in Islamic countries like Pakistan and Saudi Arabia, then why cannot they get these rights in Afghanistan,” she questioned.

Afghan women rights activist Zohra Wahedi Akhtari deplored that the lives of women and girls were miserable under the present government in Afghanistan and added that they had become victims of the Taliban regime.

“Taliban have closed all doors of development on Afghan women,” she added.

Jamaat-i-Islami Balochistan Emir Maulana Abdul Haq Hashmi said: “First of all, there is a need to understand the ideological basis of the Afghan Taliban and the TTP.”

He said both did not accept the modern democratic system and they needed to discuss and address this issue as well.

Afghan-based journalist Sami Yousafzai argued that Islamabad should not be harsh on Kabul over the issue of the presence of TTP militants in Afghanistan.

He said Pakistan must avoid giving hard-hitting statements against the Taliban regime as the latter had the leverage to create problems for the former.

Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam-Sami (JUI-S) Secretary General Maulana Yousuf Shah said that Pakistan and Afghanistan should sit together and talk to each other to settle their issues.

“Governments of both sides should show their seriousness as responsibility falls on them,” he said.

Associate professor of defence and strategic studies at the Quaid-i-Azam University Dr Salma Malik said Pakistan needed to form some realistic and holistic policy towards Afghanistan, adding that Islamabad should make the Taliban understand to provide at least online facilities of education to Afghan women.

Political analyst and expert on regional affairs Afrasiab Khattak, in his concluding remarks, said Pakistan should review its policy towards Afghanistan as the existing one was flawed as well as the root cause of all problems.

Earlier, in his introductory remarks, PIPS Director Mohammad Amir Rana said the purpose of the discussion was to review Pakistan’s options to deal with the Afghan Taliban in terms of countering the TTP threat and Pakistan’s existing policy towards Afghanistan.

Source: dawn.com

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Islamabad High Court summons record of Toshakhana case against PTI chief

Umer Burney

August 12, 2023

The Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Saturday sought the complete record of the Toshakhana case against PTI Chairman Imran Khan, who is currently incarcerated in Attock Jail after his conviction.

The order was issued by a division bench comprising IHC Chief Justice Aamer Farooq and Justice Tariq Mehmood Jahangiri on Imran’s petition against his conviction in the said case.

On August 5, a trial court in Islamabad had sentenced the former prime minister to three years in prison in the case. Following the verdict, the ECP disqualified Imran from contesting general elections for five years.

“He [Imran] cheated while providing information about gifts he obtained from Toshakhana which later proved to be false and inaccurate. His dishonesty has been established beyond doubt,” the 30-page court order said.

The police, already on standby in anticipation of a verdict in the hearing, and arrested him from his Zaman Park residence in Lahore just minutes after Additional District and Sessions Judge Humayun Dilawar announced the judgment.

Subsequently, Imran had filed a petition in the IHC — through his lawyers — against the trial court’s August 5 verdict, saying that the said order was “liable to be set aside” as it was passed “with the pre-disposed mind”.

At the previous hearing, IHC’s Justice Farooq had remarked that the court would issue notices first and decide the suspension only after hearing the respondents.

In a written order issued today, the court issued a notice to the district election commissioner of Islamabad.

“This appeal is directed against judgment dated 05.08.2023, whereby the appellant was tried in complaint filed by the Election Commission of Pakistan under section 190 of the Election Act, 2017, was convicted and awarded three (03) years imprisonment along with fine of Rs100,000.

“Notice to the respondent. Office is directed to requisition the record of the learned Trial Court,” the order, a copy of which is available with Dawn.com, reads.

Lawyers express ‘serious apprehension’ regarding Imran’s safety

A day earlier, PTI lawyers expressed “serious apprehensions” over Imran’s safety in Attock Jail.

After his arrest on Aug 5, Imran was taken to Attock Jail where, according to his counsels, he was being provided “C-class facilities”. They had also earlier filed a petition in the IHC seeking the PTI chief’s transfer to Adiala jail, on which a verdict has been reserved.

In a press conference on Friday, Naeem Haider Panjotha — Imran’s advisor on legal affairs — said the ex-premier was facing serious threats to his life and demanded immediate steps to provide him with home-made food and other facilities.

He claimed that PTI’s legal team tried their best to meet Imran on Thursday but only his wife was allowed to meet him. He stressed that it was their legal right to meet the PTI chief as they needed his instructions regarding his various cases as well as signing the power of attorney to appear in court on his behalf.

Source: dawn.com

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KP Governor accepts resignations of 14 ministers, 11 CM aides

Umer Farooq

August 12, 2023

PESHAWAR: Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Governor Ghulam Ali on Friday accepted the resignations of 14 provincial caretaker ministers and 11 aides to the chief ministers, including six special assistants and five advisers.

The administration department de-notified them all shortly thereafter.

The governor accepted the resignations of the caretaker cabinet’s members, according to two notifications issued by the administration department.

The resignations were accepted after the caretaker Chief Minister Mohammad Azam Khan sent two summaries to the governor with one carrying the names of ministers and other those of the advisers and special assistants.

The administration department sent the first summary to the chief minister on Thursday (August 10) requesting him to advise the governor to accept the resignations of 14 ministers under the Constitution’s Article 132(3) read with Article 105 (1).

The chief minister later advised the governor to accept the resignations. The governor acted accordingly.

Another summary was moved the same day by the administration department requesting the chief minister to advise the governor to accept the resignations of his six special assistants and five advisers. The summary was sent to the governor on August 10 and was approved by him on Friday.

The resignations were tendered by the caretaker minister, advisers and special assistants on Thursday over a cup of tea after Chief Minister Azam Khan asked them to do so “voluntarily”. The chief minister warned them that if they didn’t resign, they would be de-notified.

Sources claimed that Mr Khan sought the resignations of the cabinet members over the “involvement in politics” as the Election Commission of Pakistan had already asked him to remove all his ministers and aides, who were involved in politics.

They insisted that the decision to introduce a new caretaker setup in the province was taken in view of the political affiliations of most ministers and CM aides.

Sources claimed that a few cabinet members told the CM that they were not involved in politics and that time should be given to them for submitting resignations, but 19 ministers and aides handed over their resignations to him without more ado.

A letter written by the ECP to the CM on July 31 reads, “The ECP has desired to request you while keeping the interim cabinet members at minimum to review the appointments [in light of the criteria as laid down in the election laws] and to de-notify such ministers, advisers and special assistants involved in politics immediately so that free, fair and transparent elections are ensured for future.”

In a statement issued here, Awami National Party provincial president Aimal Wali Khan welcomed the resignations of the cabinet members.

He said KP was handed over to the Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam-Fazl through the caretaker government.

Mr Khan called for the exit of the chief minister and the governor from their respective offices.

“We hope that the governor and chief minister, too, will be asked to resign as both are the nominees of the JUI-F,” he said.

The ANP leader said it was the job of the ECP to provide a level-playing field to all political parties for elections.

Source: dawn.com

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South Asia

 

Darul Ifta office of the Islamic Emirate Issues Fatwa Prohibiting Afghans From War Abroad: spokesman  Mujahid

By Fatima Adib

11 August 2023

The Islamic Emirate’s spokesman, Zabiullah Mujahid, said that the leader Mawlawi Hibatullah Akhundzada has not issued any decree about war in Pakistan, but the Darul Ifta office of the Islamic Emirate issued a Fatwa which prohibits people from going to war abroad without orders of the leader of the Islamic Emirate.

He said that based on the Fatwa, sending people to war abroad should be based on orders of the leader of the Islamic Emirate.

“This is clear. This is the Sharia order, which has been given by the Darul Ifta of the Islamic Emirate not by Amirul Momineen (Islamic Emirate leader). The Darul Ifta has stated the Mujahideen (Islamic Emirate’s troops) going out of the country for war is not Jihad and that in such situations the order of the Amir or permission of the Amir of the Muslims is compulsory,” he said.

This comes as some Pakistani media reported that the Islamic Emirate issued a decree which prohibits war in Pakistan. The report said that the senior members of the Islamic Emirate does not want the decree to be leaked.

Meanwhile, the head of Jamaat-i-Islami of Pakistan, Sirajul Haq, said on social media that the Fatwa (formal ruling or interpretation on a point of Islamic law) by the Islamic Emirate’s leader, Mawlawi Hibatullah Akhundzada, against terrorism in Pakistan is a welcomed step.

He said that peace in Pakistan is necessary for peace in Afghanistan.

Mufti Abdul Rauf, a religious cleric and a figure close to the Islamic Emirate, in a video clip said that the Afghan citizens are not responsible for war abroad.

The Jihad of other countries is not on the people of Afghanistan. The principle of this decision which the Taliban made abroad (in Doha) is in line with Sharia. Even if the Ulema were thinking of something else, they should refer to the books, which I will mention for them. So there is no Jihad compulsory for individuals. And as there is not equal power, the Amir is exempt because the power is not equal (to other major countries) and Jihad is not compulsory for the Amir either.

"About Pakistan, I must say that the issues in Pakistan are internal including the political, economic and security crisis,” said Wahid Faqiri, a political analyst.

Meanwhile, some Pakistani officials urged the Islamic Emirate leader to make public decree about prohibition of war in Pakistan.

Source: tolonews.com

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https://tolonews.com/afghanistan-184593

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Muttaqi applauds China’s constructive policy towards Afghanistan

By Fidel Rahmati

August 11, 2023

Abdul Qahar Balkhi, the spokesperson for the foreign ministry, said on Friday that the discussion primarily revolved around the Afghanistan-China relations throughout the preceding two years.

Meanwhile, the deliberations encompassed China’s investments in Afghanistan and the prospects for enhancing bilateral ties in the years ahead.

Muttaqi applauded the Chinese ambassador’s diplomatic tenure in Kabul, specifically acknowledging their efforts in maintaining an active mission despite the evolving political landscape.

He also praised China’s constructive foreign policy towards Afghanistan throughout this period and conveyed optimism for its continued strengthening, the statement said.

On his part, the Chinese envoy expressed gratitude to Muttaqi for the excellent support extended during his mission. Emphasizing the remarkable growth of Afghanistan-China bilateral relations over the preceding two years, he reaffirmed China’s unwavering commitment to maintaining high-level diplomatic ties, the statement concluded.

Source: khaama.com

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US Issues Statement From C5+1 Special Session on Afghanistan

By Mujeeb Rahman Awrang Stanikzai, Head of TOLOnews' Online Departmen

12 August 2023

The US Department of State released a joint statement of the meeting of the Special Representatives and Special Envoys for Afghanistan of the Republic of Kazakhstan, the Kyrgyz Republic, the Republic of Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, the Republic of Uzbekistan, and the United States under the auspices of the C5+1 regional diplomatic platform.

According to the statement, the representatives met on July 27 in Astana Kazakhstan and discussed the continuing need for all countries in the region and the broader international community to support an inclusive, united, sovereign, stable, and self-reliant Afghanistan that is free of terrorism, respects the rights of its population, including women and girls, and is at peace with itself and its neighbors.

The participants, according to the statement, “underlined the importance of preventing the territory of Afghanistan from being used as a base for hosting, financing, or exporting terrorism and violent extremism to other countries, and reaffirmed the need for strengthening cooperation on countering trafficking in persons, arms, and illegal drugs.”

They also acknowledged that the seriousness of the humanitarian and economic conditions in Afghanistan requires a strong and coordinated response from the international community that addresses all dimensions of the situation; and emphasized that this response requires, among other things, full access for humanitarian actors to all Afghans in need, in line with the humanitarian principles of humanity, neutrality, impartiality and independence, as well as full respect for International Humanitarian Law.

The group "reiterated that the goal of a stable, economically viable and peaceful Afghanistan is only attainable if all Afghans, including women and girls, and persons belonging to ethnic and religious minorities, can fully, equally, and meaningfully participate in—and contribute to—the country’s future; and highlighted the need for an inclusive process of dialogue on the country’s political future that focuses on, among other things, the establishment of accountable and representative governing bodies,” the statement reads.

They also reiterated support for freedom of movement and reaffirmed the importance of projects that promote regional connectivity and transit trade through the construction of energy infrastructure and extension of transportation networks connecting Central Asia to South Asia via Afghanistan.

The participants also praised the “significant decreases” in opium poppy cultivation in 2023, but expressed concern regarding continued opiate exports and synthetic drug production in Afghanistan.

Source: tolonews.com

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https://tolonews.com/index.php/afghanistan-184600

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Muttaqi Discusses With UNAMA Head Continued 'Positive Interaction' with UN

By Mitra Majeedy, 11 August 2023

Acting Foreign Minister Amir Khan Muttaqi and the head of UNAMA, Roza Otunbayeva, discussed the "continuation of positive interaction" between the UN and the Islamic Emirate, said Hafiz Zia Ahmad Takal, deputy spokesman of the Foreign Ministry.

Takal said both sides exchanged views on the next international meetings related to Afghanistan, reports presented by the UN, and the fight against narcotics in Afghanistan.

In the meeting, Muttaqi said he appreciated the countries' aid to Afghanistan and said that the Islamic Emirate has provided a clear foundation for the process of providing aid to the needy people.

Meanwhile, political analysts stressed the need for engagement between the interim government and the international community.

“An inclusive government benefits the Afghans… and the region and the world. A national leadership should be established so that Afghanistan can overcome this situation,” said Samar Sadat, a political analyst.

“The international community, the regional and beyond regional countries have announced their conditions for engagement and the recognition of Afghanistan,” said Zalmay Afghanyar, a political analyst.

According to Takal, Muttaqi also denied the interference of the interim Afghan government in the aid distribution process. He said that the Islamic Emirate provided assistance to more than 600,000 orphans and widows through the domestic budget.

Source: tolonews.com

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Afghani Value Has Risen But Price of Goods Has Not Changed: Residents

By Habib Rahman Qooyash

11 August 2023

Residents of Kabul expressed concerns about the high prices, saying that despite a drop in US dollar prices against Afghani currency, the price of goods have remained the same.

Residents told TOLOnews that they have been struggling with severe economic conditions and that food prices should be decreased.

“Food prices have surged compared to before. The people are concerned and their economic condition has deteriorated. I and the whole people call on the government to pay attention to this problem,” said Azizuddin, a resident of Kabul.

“The traders should reduce the prices of the food materials. The US dollar is 84 afghani. But people are still purchasing the food materials with previous prices,” said Enayatulah, a resident of Kabul.

Meanwhile, the Union of Sarai Shahzada Money Exchange Market in Kabul said that increases in exports, and monetary policy, caused the stability of the Afghani currency.

“The value of the afghani has increased against the foreign currencies over the past several days. The dollar is also dropping. One USD is currently exchanged for 84.1 Afghani currency right now,” he said.

Shopkeepers said that some traders are involved in keeping the prices high.

“The prices of food materials are not linked with the currency because the prices are monopolized by two or three traders. So, the rise in prices of flour, oil and rice and other materials is because our traders are unfair,” said Imamuddin, a shopkeeper.

But the Kabul municipality said that it has implemented measures to control food prices.

“The price of dollars has dropped over the past days. Thus, the Kabul municipality considers these changes and issues prices which bring an increase or decrease in the prices of essential materials,” said Nematullah Barakzai, a spokesman for the municipality.

This comes as the WFP recently announced that 9 out 10 families in Afghanistan lack access to enough food.

Source: tolonews.com

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Europe

 

Church responds to Winchester Muslims' interest in Hyde Parish Hall

11th August

By Toby Oliver

The church selling a hall to Winchester Muslims has responded to its Facebook post about their interest in the building.

The Winchester Muslim Cultural Association posted on Facebook yesterday that they had identified Hyde Parish Hall as a mosque after a 20-year search.

The association said the Grade two listed building would be used as both a mosque and a multi-faith community centre.

It is looking to raise funds to complete the purchase and has launched a Just Giving page.

But this afternoon, the Parochial Church Council (PCC) of St Bartholomew’s Church has issued a statement raising several points indicating the association's statement might be premature.

The statement from the rector Rev Karen Kousseff and the PCC said: “St Bartholomew’s Church PCC would like to make it clear that, while there was agreement in principle for the sale of the hall, this is still at very early stages of negotiation.

“We are concerned, as trustees of the church, that we act with utmost transparency on behalf of our congregation and the parish of Hyde and Abbotts Barton whom we serve.

“We were given to understand that the hall would still provide its traditional community function and that there was no proposal for its primary use to be a place of worship.

“We also agreed to the sale on the understanding that the asking price had already been achieved.”

Winchester city councillors from the St Bartholomew ward supported the Muslims' interest in the building.

Cllr John Tippett-Cooper, Lib Dem, said: “I’m delighted that the Winchester Muslim Cultural Association is looking to restore and purchase Hyde Parish Hall. WMCA is an excellent group - they are really community-focused and always looking to help those who need it the most in the local community regardless of their faith or none. WMCA has also been invaluable in its support to refugees from Ukraine, Afghanistan and elsewhere. They would be perfect custodians of Hyde Parish Hall - a valuable part of Winchester’s heritage and community.”

Cllr Nathan Eve, Lib Dem, said: “I'm very happy to hear that the WMCA has found a location in Hyde Parish Hall, and we wish them every success in the creation of a permanent community space in Winchester. I know it's something they've been working on for a time, and it's great to see this realised.”

Source: hampshirechronicle.co.uk

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Family has Exeter Mosque ban lifted after four-year battle

11 AUG 2023

ByAnita Merritt

A 'whistleblowing' Exeter Muslim and his family who were banned from Exeter Mosque due to alleged ‘unacceptable behaviour’ and ‘malicious actions’ have had the ban lifted following court battles lasting nearly four years. A hearing in Exeter County Court last month has resulted in the case to uphold the expulsion brought by trustees on behalf of Exeter Mosque and Cultural Centre being struck out against Dr Tallha Abdulrazaq, president of the Exeter Muslims Association, and two members of his family.

A judge ruled that the mosque trustees had not pursued their own claim and had behaved 'unreasonably', and therefore their case would remain struck out. The five trustees were ordered to pay the defendants' costs and there are now no restrictions against the three family members attending Exeter Mosque for prayers, community activities and charitable events.

The long battle began in 2018 when Dr Abdulrazaq reported allegations that the mosque accepted cash donations of £250,000 from an Islamist cleric, Sheikh Sadiq Al-Ghariani, who had offered public support to Al Qaeda-linked jihadists in Libya, and was expelled from the UK over his hard-line views.

Exeter Mosque vehemently denied links to extremism although the Mosque accepted the receiving of donations from Mr Al-Ghariani. He is known to have donated an undisclosed sum of money to Exeter Mosque and Dr Abdulrazaq supported a petition put online by members of the Muslim community in Exeter, claiming the donations from Mr Al-Ghariani came to a total of almost £250,000.

In 2019, Dr Abdulrazaq and two members of his family - Basim Abdulrazaq and Abdulaziz Abdulrazaq - were indefinitely banned from the mosque due to allegations of misconduct, including violence, which the family strongly denied.

In December 2020, a judge at circuit Exeter County Court ruled the trustee's legal action to acquire an injunction to ban them permanently was at risk of failing. The mosque withdrew its allegations but continued with their claim alleging trespass against the Abdulrazaqs, who had continued to attend the mosque after they had been banned by the mosque.

It is claimed by Dr Abdulrazaq that the mosque trustees did not properly pursue their case so he filed an application for the court to strike out the claim. This was granted in April 2023, resulting in the ban from the mosque being discharged and the allegations of trespass falling away.

Exeter Mosque

The mosque then filed an application to set aside the strikeout and reinstate the restrictions, seeking to permanently ban the Abdulrazaqs. A counter application was made by Dr Abdulrazaq for the case to remain struck out and their costs to be granted.

Deputy district judge Smail, who presided over the final hearing in July, ordered the claimants - the trustees of Exeter Mosque - withdraw their application dated May 5, 2023, seeking to overturn the order of April 28, 2023, striking out their claim.

The claimants - the trustees acting for the mosque - were ordered to pay the preparation time costs to the second and third defendants - Abdul Abdulrazaq, a sum of £475, and Tallha Abdulrazaq, a sum of £950, for 'unreasonably failing to pursue the claim to trial'.

Dr Abdulrazaq previously won a defamation case against Mohammed Nibras Hassan, the son of the secretary of the board of trustees, Shaheed Ul Hassan, of Exeter Mosque, at London's High Court in February 2020, after being wrongly branded a 'terrorist' associated with Ikhwan ul Muslimoon, the Muslim Brotherhood, accusing him of aggressive and unreasonable behaviour and of other wrongdoing, and stating that he was an undesirable member of the Exeter Mosque community.

Tallha Abdulrazaq at London's High Court in February 2020 after settling a defamation case

It arose out of the publication of WhatsApp messages that were defamatory of Dr Abdulrazaq, and the publication pre-dated the expulsion, which Dr Abdulrazaq alleged was one of the reasons he and his family were later banned.

The defamation case resulted in the claims being retracted and an apology read out to Dr Abdulrazaq in open court, and Dr Abdulrazaq being awarded a substantial damages payment and his costs. Another defamation action against the trustees in London's High Court was then successfully settled in Dr Abdulrazaq's favour in early 2021.

However, at a hearing conducted on December 2, 2021, looking into a third defamation claim made by the Abdulrazaq family, it was not upheld. The judge concluded the trustees were acting in what they thought was the public interest and 'malice' was not proved. The Abdulrazaq family were ordered to pay the trustees' costs.

After the latest court case, Mr Tallha Abdulrazaq said: "My family and I have had to endure [what felt like] the most vindictive campaign from Exeter Mosque. We have always vehemently denied its allegations and put the trustees to strict proof of their false claims. They categorically failed to do so, and so withdrew them.

"After almost four years of painful litigation, I am very pleased to announce the clearing of our good names and reputations, restoring our membership rights, and we now have full and unfettered access to the mosque once again.

"The judge further found that the trustees had behaved unreasonably in the conduct of their litigation, and has therefore awarded us our costs in pursuing our successful application to strike out their claim.

"We will now resume our peaceful campaign to reform the internal governance of the mosque in line with the principles of open and transparent governance, and we will seek the Charity Commission’s support in doing so. We also call upon our community to be fearless in holding unelected officials accountable, and know that, like the community supported us, we will in turn work with and support them. Together, we can bring about a positive change not only for us and our families, but the people of Exeter as a whole."

The trustees of Exeter Mosque told DevonLive they have followed advice in all circumstances, and it was deemed to be 'not sensible' to proceed with its application, leaving it open for the defendants to apply for costs.

A statement from the trustees of Exeter Mosque said: "The trustees do not take lightly a decision to resort to the courts or the tribunal. In 2019, however, the trustees and the executive committee, pursuant to the constitution of the Exeter Mosque and Cultural Centre, expelled Basim Abdulrazaq, Abdulaziz Abdulrazaq and Dr Tallha Abdulrazaq from the mosque.

"They indicated that they did not agree to the expulsion which led to the trustees employing security at the mosque and ultimately applying to the court for an injunction. It is fair to say that the defendants denied the reasons and allegations of misconduct which lead to their expulsion and that they contested the legitimacy of the mosque’s constitution.

"The Charity Commission was put on notice as to the action that the trustees took."

The trustees added: "The trustees give up their time voluntarily to the mosque. The decisions of the trustees are always made after due consideration balancing individual matters with the wider community, in accordance with the mosque’s constitution and always in the best interests of the mosque."

Source: devonlive.com

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Russia issues positive update on historic lunar mission

11 Aug, 2023

Luna-25 has successfully separated from its booster and is en route to the Moon

Russia issues positive update on historic lunar mission

Russia’s Luna-25 probe is heading toward the Moon after successfully leaving Earth’s orbit, state space agency Roscosmos said on Friday. The lunar mission is Russia’s first in almost 50 years, and was launched earlier in the day from the Vostochny Cosmodrome in the far-eastern Amur Region.

“After separation from the Fregat booster stage, the automatic probe was taken under control,” Roscosmos said in a brief statement. All the probe’s systems are functioning properly, with ground control maintaining stable communications, the space agency added.

The separation of the Fregat booster stage marks the conclusion of the crucial first phase of the mission. The module fired its engines several times, setting course for the probe to reach the Moon.

India congratulates Russia on lunar mission launchREAD MORE: India congratulates Russia on lunar mission launch

Luna-25 is the first Moon mission to be launched in modern Russia, and the probe was built entirely from domestic components. The mission takes its name from the Soviet-era ‘Luna’ program, which launched 24 probes between 1958 and 1976.

If successful, the probe is set to become the first mission to land in the Moon’s rugged south polar region. All previous probes have touched down in the equatorial region, which is considerably easier to reach. Luna-25 will take samples of regolith – broken rock and dust – as well as run long-term experiments at the landing site, according to Roscosmos.

The mission is expected to touch down on the Moon by August 21, two days before India’s Chandrayaan-3, which is already in lunar orbit and is also destined for a polar landing. The previous attempt to land in the Moon’s polar mountains was undertaken by India back in 2019, resulting in the loss of Chandrayaan-2 and its Vikram lander, which crashed into the satellite’s surface.

Source: www.rt.com

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Anti-Russia sanctions destroying German industry – MP

11 Aug, 2023

Berlin used to import large quantities of cheap energy from Moscow to keep factories running

Anti-Russia sanctions destroying German industry – MP

The EU’s largest economy is facing a further economic decline and de-industrialization as a result of the bloc’s sanctions policy against Russia, German MP Uwe Schulz has warned.

According to a statement published on the website of the right-wing AfD party, of which Schulz is a member, the punitive measures have failed to hurt Russia, but have devastated the German economy.

“Sanctions against Russia and economic measures by the ruling Traffic Light Coalition [the Social Democratic Party of Germany, the Greens and the Free Democratic Party] are leading Germany and its economic activity straight to de-industrialization,” the politician stated.

He added it was “not surprising that in 2022 the Russian Federation displaced Germany from fifth place in the ranking of the world's leading economies.”

The latest World Economics report showed that Russia was among the world’s five largest economies and the largest in Europe in terms of purchasing power parity (PPP) as of the end of 2022, despite sanctions. The data indicated that Russia leaped ahead of Germany’s $5 trillion economy when measured in PPP.

According to Schultz, the devastating effect of the Russia sanctions on the German economy is evidenced by “disappointing economic prospects [for the country] for 2023,” as well as “poor results in the automotive industry, [which] continue to lead to lower manufacturing output.” In this regard, the lawmaker called on the German government to immediately “lift economic sanctions against Russia” in order to “prevent [further] economic damage.”

This week, the head of the Federation of German Employers' Associations in the Metal and Electrical Engineering Industries (Gesamtmetall), Stefan Wolf, said that the German economy is no longer competitive and has become the “sick man of Europe.” According to his estimates, the country could fall into recession in the second half of the year.

Supplies of Russian gas and oil to the EU’s biggest economy were either significantly reduced or entirely halted after Brussels imposed multiple rounds of anti-Russia sanctions in response to the conflict in Ukraine. Moscow retaliated by slashing fuel deliveries and imposing a new ruble-based payment system. Prior to that, the German economy relied on Russia for 40% of its gas demand and about a third of its oil needs.

Source: www.rt.com

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Mideast

 

Bahrain Is Empowering Young People to Help Achieve Sustainable Development Goals, King’s Representative Says

ARAB NEWS

August 11, 2023

RIYADH: Authorities in Bahrain are working to instill in the nation’s youth the values and principles of leadership and ambition, while supporting and empowering them to fulfill their full potential, according to Sheikh Nasser bin Hamad Al-Khalifa, the king’s representative for humanitarian work and youth affairs.

Speaking ahead of annual International Youth Day on Aug. 12, which this year has the theme “Green Skills for Youth: Towards a Sustainable World,” Sheikh Nasser said his country is keen in particular to ensure young people to play a leading role in national initiatives to help achieve the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, the Bahrain News Agency reported on Friday.

“Youth have the necessary potential and are the main engine for achieving sustainable development,” he said. “We have great confidence in their ability to share their ideas and initiatives with their international counterparts on ways to achieve SDGs and build a developed world based on a green economy.”

He added: “We have been keen to secure a positive environment that supports Bahraini youth in all fields, improve programs, initiatives and innovations related to capacity and skills development, support entrepreneurs and their projects based on the green foundations of the Bahraini economy, and enhance the role of youth because of their capabilities to find innovative and sustainable solutions that can contribute to advancing the green-growth process to achieve sustainable and comprehensive development.”

Source: .arabnews.com

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Israel Downgrades Homicide Charge in Settler Case;Washington Describes it a “Terror Attack”

REUTERS

August 11, 2023

JERUSALEM: Israeli police downgraded a homicide charge on Friday against a Jewish settler suspected of killing a Palestinian in what the United States has described as a “terror attack.”

A new remand request filed by police, a copy of which was obtained by Haaretz and shared with Reuters, showed Yehiel Indore was accused of “deliberate or depraved-indifference homicide” in the Aug. 4 shooting of 19-year-old Qusai Maatan.

But unlike in previous remand requests in the case, he was no longer accused of acting out of “racist motivation” — an addendum which, under Israeli law, gives courts latitude to impose harsher punishment in the event of a conviction.

Washington, whose traditionally close ties with Israel have become strained, has described the incident as a “terror attack by Israeli extremist settlers.”

There was no immediate confirmation of the amended charge from police, headed by far-right national security minister Itamar Ben-Gvir.

Police detained two settlers in last Friday’s incident near Burqa village and said an investigation of the case was ongoing, though there has been no formal indictment.

Palestinians said the suspects were part of a group of some 150-200 settlers who threw rocks, torched cars and, when confronted by villagers, shot dead Maatan and wounded several others.

A defense lawyer said the settlers — including Indore, who remains in hospital due to a head injury he says was caused by a rock thrown at him — acted in self-defense.

On Thursday, a military court ordered a Palestinian father and three of his sons who were detained over the settler raid to be released on bail.

Israel captured the West Bank, which Palestinians want as the core of an independent state, in a 1967 war. As it continues to expand settlements that most countries deem illegal, settler violence has risen.

The expansion has strained US-Israeli relations, as has a judicial overhaul drafted by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s religious-nationalist coalition that has sparked nationwide protests.

The United Nations recorded 591 settler-related incidents that led to Palestinian casualties, property damage or both in the first six months of 2023, the highest daily average since 2006.

Israel cites biblical and historical ties to the West Bank, which ministers in Netanyahu’s coalition have said they want to annex.

The US Embassy in Israel had no immediate comment on Friday’s development.

Source: .arabnews.com

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Potential impact of deal on Ankara’s humanitarian responsibilities  ignites fresh discussions

MENEKSE TOKYAY

August 12, 2023

ANKARA: The UK and Turkiye have unveiled a deal aimed at tackling the pressing issue of migration in the Mediterranean region.

The announcement, reported by Reuters on Wednesday, has ignited fresh discussions surrounding the potential impact of the agreement on Ankara’s already weighty humanitarian responsibilities.

The Turkish government has not yet officially reacted to the alleged deal.

Against the backdrop of upcoming elections in both nations, the refugee crisis remains a paramount concern, prompting the governments of the UK and Turkiye to commit to curbing the influx of migrants crossing their borders.

The pact is poised to usher in augmented financial support and aid from the UK to Turkiye, specifically earmarked for bolstering efforts at migrant management.

This aid will encompass a comprehensive spectrum of initiatives, possibly ranging from enhancing maritime border security training to deploying state-of-the-art customs detection equipment.

A recent investigation for The Guardian revealed that the UK provided more than £3 million ($3.8 million) in funding to Turkish border forces in the last year to prevent UK-bound migrants.

The contours of the accord also encompass provisions for sharing customs data, conducting joint police operations to dismantle human-smuggling networks, and disrupting the supply chain responsible for ferrying hundreds of small boats and related components across Europe.

The agreement presently does not address the repatriation of failed Turkish asylum-seekers. Indeed, there remains a lack of formal return protocols between the two nations since Brexit.

Turkiye has hitherto only entered into an arrangement with the EU for the readmission of irregular migrants who have traversed its territory.

British Immigration Minister Robert Jenrick undertook a recent visit to Turkiye in preparation for the landmark accord.

British Home Secretary Suella Braverman said: “This partnership with our dear ally Turkiye will enable our law enforcement agencies to collaboratively address this international challenge and disrupt the illicit small boat supply chain.”

Turkiye has the busiest border crossing in Europe at Kapikule, and some 1,486 Turkish nationals in small boats have attempted to gain entry to the UK via the English Channel in the first seven months of the year, second in number only to Afghans attempting the crossing.

The British government has unveiled plans to establish a “center of excellence” under the aegis of the Turkish National Police.

This endeavor is geared toward fortifying collaborative ties between the two countries’ authorities and expediting the exchange of real-time intelligence relating to refugees.

Turkiye’s current status as a non-designated “safe home” country, under the Illegal Migration Act, has prompted the realization that the UK Parliament will necessitate amending its legislation to incorporate Ankara into the list.

This anticipated amendment is expected to spark impassioned debate.

Under the act that passed last month, the home secretary is tasked with detaining and removing those arriving in the UK illegally, either to Rwanda or another “safe” third country.

Jon Featonby, chief policy analyst at the Refugee Council, tweeted: “The forthcoming small boats agreement appears to incorporate a repatriation arrangement with Turkiye that could prove inconsequential once the Illegal Migration Act comes into force.

“This legislation stipulates that Turkish nationals seeking asylum cannot be repatriated to Turkiye.”

This momentous accord is poised to command center stage during the forthcoming UK-Turkiye Migration Dialogue, scheduled to convene in London this autumn.

In a parallel development this week, the UK has begun to house asylum-seekers on a barge, Bibby Stockholm.

On Friday, migrants were temporarily removed from the barge after traces of Legionella bacteria were found in the water system on board.

The move was part of the government’s controversial plan to deal with the large numbers of people arriving in the UK on small boats, and to reduce the amount of money it spends on accommodating refugees.

Ahead of local elections, the Turkish police force is expected to ramp up operations against irregular migrants in the country and to further target human smugglers by combating migration routes.

Turkish Interior Minister Ali Yerlikaya recently announced that Turkish police had conducted over 2,000 operations in the fight against smuggling networks, and arrested more than 1,300 people.

Basak Yavcan, head of research at Migration Policy Group in Brussels, thinks that the UK is employing a general externalization policy with many countries around the world.

“The consequences of this policy with France off Calais on France’s northern coast have produced major human rights violations,” she told Arab News.

Migrants still continue to try to cross the English Channel to reach the UK despite an agreement between London and Paris to boost police enforcement capacity.

According to Yavcan, this policy has not proved to be very effective because it does not address the root causes of migration.

She said: “In the past, it backfired vis-a-vis Belarus and Morocco. It creates human rights violations because it allows these third countries to deal with illegal migration as they wish.

“If the UK foresees something like it did with Rwanda in the future, this may create a case where Turkiye becomes a country where migrants are kept in large quantities.

“It is also problematic to call a country as a ‘safe country’ where still very large groups of refugees come to Europe based on human rights concerns.

“Every refugee application is individual. There could be cases in which individual applicants could face certain persecution risks based on his/her peculiar circumstances.”

Begum Basdas, Amnesty International researcher at the Europe Regional Office, believes that there is nothing the UK government will not do to make people seeking asylum feel unwelcome and unsafe.

“We must acknowledge that Turkiye continues to host the highest number of refugees in the region, and it is important for the international community to share responsibility, not shirk it,” she told Arab News.

“There’s a backdrop of rising anti-refugee racist rhetoric by politicians in the UK and Turkiye — there’s also increased unlawful returns of refugees, so any deal struck with Turkiye must put human rights at the center.”

Source: .arabnews.com

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Israel deports Jewish Iranian suspected of spying attempt with tissue box

REUTERS

August 11, 2023

JERUSALEM: Israel’s intelligence agency Shin Bet said it thwarted an Iranian espionage attempt on Friday when it detained and then deported a Jewish Iranian who flew in to the country with a tissue box it said was meant to hide surveillance equipment.

The Shin Bet said the man, who has relatives in Israel, admitted in questioning at Ben Gurion Airport that he arrived in the country to spy on Israeli targets for Iranian security operatives. It said the man, who was found with cellphones, power banks and money, was refused entry and deported back to Iran.

“This event is part of a broad Iranian effort to establish espionage and terror networks in Israel,” the Shin Bet said in a statement.

Iran’s mission to the United Nations in New York did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Asked why the suspect was deported rather than prosecuted, a security official told Reuters that, among the agency’s other operative considerations, it believed the man was acting under pressure and was motivated by financial gain.

The official added that there was a “low probability” for legal recourse, as the suspect was not an Israeli citizen.

Israel and Iran have been locked in a shadow war for decades, with mutual allegations of sabotage and assassination plots.

According to the World Jewish Congress, there were some 80,000 Jews in Iran on the eve of the 1979 Islamic Revolution, most of whom have left the country since, but the community is believed to still be the biggest in the Middle East outside Israel.

Source: .arabnews.com

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Death toll in Daesh attack on Syria army bus rises to 33: Monitor

AFP

August 12, 2023

DAESH: An attack by Daesh group militants on Syrian government forces in the war-torn country’s east has killed 33 soldiers, a monitor said Saturday, revising an earlier toll of 26 deaths.

The shooting Thursday evening on an army bus was the extremist group’s deadliest attack on government forces this year, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

Despite losing their last piece of territory in Syria in 2019, Daesh has maintained hideouts in the vast Syrian desert from which it has carried out ambushes and hit-and-run attacks.

“The death toll from the army bus attack rose to 33 soldiers,” said Rami Abdel Rahman, who heads the British-based monitoring group which relies on a wide network of sources inside Syria.

The militants surrounded the bus in the desert near Mayadeen, in Deir Ezzor province, and opened fire, the Observatory reported on Friday.

Daesh claimed the attack later Friday, saying its fighters had carried out an ambush “on two military buses,” targeting them “with heavy weapons and rocket-propelled grenades” and setting one on fire, according to a statement from the militants’ Amaq news agency.

Syrian state news agency SANA said the “terrorist attack” had caused a number of military casualties, citing an army source.

Abdel Rahman said Daesh “has recently been escalating its deadly military attacks... aiming to cause as many deaths as possible.”

By doing so, the militants are trying to show that Daesh “is still active and powerful despite the targeting of its leaders,” he said.

Last week, Daesh announced the death of its leader Abu Al-Hussein Al-Husseini Al-Qurashi, who it said was killed in clashes in northwestern Syria, and named a successor.

Daesh members in recent weeks have increased their attacks in Syria’s north and northeast.

Earlier this week, 10 Syrian soldiers and pro-government fighters were killed in an Daesh attack in the former militant stronghold of Raqqa province, the Observatory said.

Syria’s war broke after President Bashar Assad’s government crushed peaceful protests in 2011. It has since drawn in foreign powers and global militants.

The conflict has killed more than half a million people and driven half of the country’s pre-war population from their homes.

Source: .arabnews.com

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Cyprus is sending Syrian migrants back to Lebanon. The UN is concerned but Cypriots say it’s lawful

AP

August 11, 2023

NICOSIA: The United Nations refugee agency said Friday it was “extremely concerned” over the return of more than 100 Syrian nationals from Cyprus to Lebanon without being screened to determine whether they need legal protection and who may be deported back to their war-wracked homeland.

The UNHCR office in Cyprus said deportations and transfers between states “without legal and procedural safeguards for persons who may be in need of international protection” are against international and European law.

Such transfers could result in people sent back to a country where “they may face the risk of persecution, torture, cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment and other irreparable harm,” the agency told the Associated Press.

The 109 migrants had all reached Cyprus aboard three separate boats between Jul. 29-Aug. 2 before being returned by boat under Cyprus police escort.

The Cyprus government said such returns are being lawfully carried out in line with a bilateral agreement the island nation and neighboring Lebanon signed in 2004.

According to senior Interior Ministry official Loizos Hadjivasiliou, the agreement obligates Lebanon to prevent and stop illegal border crossings and illegal migration of individuals who depart from Lebanon.

Hadjivasiliou told the Associated Press these individuals are returned to Lebanon, which is deemed safe and where they enjoy benefits afforded to the hundreds of thousands of refugees in the country.

“Under these circumstances, we believe that they don’t face any danger and their choice to set sail toward a European Union member country is being made for clearly economic reasons.”

Lebanon hosts some 805,000 UN-registered Syrian refugees, but officials estimate the actual number is far higher, ranging between 1.5 and 2 million. An increasing number of would-be migrants — both refugees and Lebanese — have attempted to leave Lebanon by sea since the country fell into a crippling economic crisis over the past four years. About 90 percent of Syrian refugees in Lebanon live below the extreme poverty line, according to UNHCR.

Hadjivasiliou said in line with the bilateral agreement, Cypriot authorities don’t process migrants’ asylum claims because their arrival is “clearly a matter of illegal trespass.”

“The Cyprus Republic is in no way implicated in pushbacks and never refuses assistance in case of a search and rescue operation to first and foremost protect human lives,” Hadjivasiliou said.

Cypriot Interior Minister Constantinos Ioannou traveled to Lebanon last month for talks with caretaker Prime Minister Najib Azmi Mikati and other top officials to ensure that the bilateral agreement remains in effect and to bolster cooperation on stemming migrant arrivals.

Lisa Abou Khaled, a spokesperson for the UNHCR office in Lebanon, told the Associated Press that most all 109 migrants that were returned from Cyprus were deported to Syria after being investigated by the Lebanese army.

Khaled said the UNHCR maintains that anyone who wishes to re-enter Lebanon and who may fear returning to their country of origin “should be readmitted so that their protection needs can be properly addressed.”

Lebanon has stepped up Syrian refugee deportations in April, as anti-refugee sentiment in the crisis-hit country intensifies.

Lebanese authorities have pointed to a 2019 regulation allowing unauthorized refugees who entered the country after April of that year to be deported, but human rights groups argue that the forcible return of refugees to a country where they might face persecution or torture violates international law.

Cyprus has in recent years sought EU help to cope with a large influx of migrants including from sub-Saharan Africa that have taxed the small country’s limited resources.

The EU is co-financing the construction of a new reception center for migrants, with capacity for 1,000 people, while their asylum claims are being processed or initially turned down.

Cypriot authorities see the agreement with Lebanon as a key legal barrier to potentially opening the floodgates for people smugglers to bring huge numbers of migrants to EU territory on the promise of better benefits.

In recent months, Cyprus has seen a significant uptick in boat arrivals from Lebanon and Syria. As a result, the government decided to exclude migrants who arrived after Jan. 1st of this year from eligibility for relocation to another EU country.

“The aim of this policy is for the relocation program not to become a point of attraction for citizens of a specific third country who may take advantage of the program and use Cyprus as a waystation to other European Union member states,” a statement said.

But measures to stem migrant arrival numbers have produced results, according to official figures.

Asylum applications between May and July of this year were down 53 percent from the same period last year, dropping down to 4,976 claims. Moreover, some 3,670 people have been returned to their home countries, up by more than 1,300 from the same period last year.

Source: .arabnews.com

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Migrant crisis: 24 hours at sea with Tunisia’s coastguard

AFP

August 11, 2023

SFAX, TUNISIA: A rubber dinghy brings back dozens of people from one of six boats the Tunisian coastguard intercepted in a 24-hour period off Sfax, a migrant launchpad for Europe.

“Our priority is to save lives,” said Mohammed Borhen Chamtouri, a commander of Tunisia’s coastguard, as the dinghy headed towards the speedboat that had spotted the migrants on radar.

Chamtouri, who is based in Sfax, was speaking after 24 hours spent intercepting and rescuing migrants who left the port city between Wednesday and Thursday.

This year, Sfax has emerged as a key hub for migrants hoping to cross the Mediterranean from the Tunisian coast, the closest point being less than 130 km from the Italian island of Lampedusa.

This year, Sfax has emerged as a key hub for migrants hoping to cross the Mediterranean from the Tunisian coast, the closest point being less than 130 km from the Italian island of Lampedusa.

The International Organization for Migration says over 1,800 people have died attempting the route so far this year, more than twice as many as last year -- making it the world’s deadliest migrant route.

The latest tragedy off Tunisia’s coast was a shipwreck last weekend that left at least 11 people dead and 44 missing.

“There’s no doubt about it. You’ve seen in the past 24 hours that we’ve carried out several rescues,” Chamtouri told AFP correspondents accompanying his crew. “Three boats broke down and operations were not easy for us.”

The Tunisian coastguard says it intercepted 34,290 migrants in the six months to June 20, most from sub-Saharan African countries, compared with 9,217 over the same period in 2022.

Human Rights Watch alleged on July 19 that Tunisia’s security forces, including the coastguard, had “committed serious abuses against black African migrants” that include collective expulsions and dangerous actions at sea.

The coastguard’s Sfax patrols intercepted 216 migrants who had left separately on six boats while the AFP team was on board for the search and rescue mission.

They were dozens of black African migrants, including women and children, who travelled on overloaded and fragile vessels assembled at the last minute on shore, and 75 Tunisians, all men, who were able to afford trips on sturdier boats.

When the dinghy approached their craft, the Africans cried and begged the coastguards to let them go.

One young man from the Ivory Coast told AFP he was on his “seventh attempt” to make it across the Mediterranean.

The number of Africans attempting to make the crossing has spiked since Tunisian President Kais Saied alleged, in a speech on February 21, that “hordes” of irregular migrants were causing crime and posing a demographic threat to the mainly Arab country.

Many have also fled since hundreds of migrants were arrested or chased into the desert after the deadly stabbing of a Tunisian man in a brawl between Tunisians and migrants in Sfax on July 3.

Italy says almost 94,000 migrants have arrived on its shores since the start of the year -- more than double the number for the same period in 2022.

This month, the coastguard in Sfax has intercepted about 3,000 migrants in just 10 days, 90 percent of whom were from other parts of Africa, Chamtouri said.

In July, the EU signed an agreement with Tunisia that provides for €105 million ($115 million) in direct European aid to prevent the departure of migrant boats and combat smugglers.

It included €15 million earmarked to finance the “voluntary return” of 6,000 African migrants to their countries of origin.

The agreement coincided with Tunisia’s “expulsion” since early July of “more than 2,000 African migrants” to desert or inhospitable areas on the borders with Algeria and Libya, according to a count given to AFP by humanitarian sources.

Amnesty International accused the EU in response of “focusing their policies and funding on containment and on outsourcing of border control rather than ensuring safe and legal routes,” making the bloc “complicit in the suffering” of migrants.

Source: .arabnews.com

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UN says 5 staff members kidnapped in Yemen 18 months ago walk free

AP

August 11, 2023

CAIRO: The United Nations said Friday that five staff members who were kidnapped in Yemen 18 months ago have walked free.

In a brief statement, UN spokesperson Farhan Haq said that all “available information suggests that all five colleagues are in good health.”

Haq named the freed men as Akm Sufiul Anam; Mazen Bawazir; Bakeel Al-Mahdi; Mohammed Al-Mulaiki; and Khaled Mokhtar Sheikh. All worked for the UN Department of Security and Safety, he said.

The identity of the kidnappers was not revealed.

In February 2022, suspected Al-Qaeda militants abducted five UN workers in southern Yemen’s Abyan province, Yemeni officials told the Associated Press at the time.

Kidnappings are frequent in Yemen, an impoverished nation where armed tribesmen and militants take hostages to swap for prisoners or cash.

Source: arabnews.com

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Arab World

 

Syria: Islamic State terrorists increase attacks on government forces

Aug 12, 2023

Washington (/topic/washington) [US], August 12 (ANI): Suspected Islamic State (/topic/islamic-state) terrorist (/topic/terrorist)s attacked a bus carrying soldiers in the eastern Syrian province of Deir al-Zour, killing

 over 20 people and wounding others, Voice of America reported citing state media and a war monitor group reported.

The late Thursday attack took place in the southeastern part of the restive province, according to Syria’s official news agency, SANA, which quoted a military source.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (/topic/human-rights), or SOHR (/topic/sohr), a Britain-based war monitor group, said the attack killed 26 Syrian government soldiers and wounded at least 10 others, VOA reported.

The attack comes two days after another attack blamed on IS in the nearby province of Raqqa (/topic/raqqa), the terror group’s former de facto capital in Syria. At least 10 Syrian troops were killed in that attack, according to local news reports.

Despite losing nearly all the territory it once held in Syria and Iraq, IS continues to carry out occasional attacks in both countries, VOA reported.

Rami Abdulrahman, director of SOHR (/topic/sohr), attributed the recent uptick in violence by IS in eastern Syria to its ability to recruit informants in government-held areas.

“The deteriorating economic situation in regime-held areas, particularly in eastern Syria, has allowed [IS] to recruit locals who provide intelligence and coordinates about government military positions,” he told VOA.

“This is a new tactic that Daesh is relying on,” Abdulrahman said, using an Arabic acronym for IS, also known as ISIS.

In addition to Syrian government troops and their allies, US-backed Kurdish-led forces control large parts of both the Deir al-Zour and Raqqa (/topic/raqqa) provinces. Those areas have also come under attack by IS militants.

US Central Command said on Wednesday that the US-led Global Coalition against IS conducted 11 partnered operations in July against IS elements, killing three IS operatives and detaining six others, VOA reported.

“Thanks to the efforts of our Coalition-supported partners, we have seen a dramatic reduction in ISIS activity and effectiveness across our area of operations,” Major General Matthew McFarlane, the commander of the US-led Combined Joint Task Force, said in a statement, VOA reported.

But Colin Clarke, a senior research fellow at the New York-based Soufan Center, said that despite successive decapitation strikes against Islamic State (/topic/islamic-state) leadership in Syria, the group can and will remain a persistent threat.

“ISIS has built up an insurgent infrastructure over the better part of the last decade,” he told VOA.

“Dismantling that will be extremely difficult, and it's likely that a low- level insurgency that flares up at various times is simply a fact of life for certain areas in Syria outside of regime control," he added. (ANI)

Source: www.aninews.in

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Final day to explore ‘Mosques in Qatar: Then and Now’ exhibit at MIA

12 Aug 2023

Doha, Qatar: Today, August 12 marks the final opportunity to explore the “Mosques in Qatar: Then and Now” exhibition at the Museum of Islamic Art (MIA).

This journey delves into Qatar’s rich mosque heritage spanning the past century, offering a deep architectural exploration that unveils the evolution of these sacred spaces.

Running from 9am to 7pm today, the “Mosques in Qatar: Then and Now” exhibit offers an insightful architectural voyage across Qatar’s landscape. Starting with the earliest mosque at Murwab, the exhibit traverses the architectural transformations that unfolded in the 20th century, culminating in the contemporary mosque designs that grace the nation today.

“We also celebrate the imams (Muslim prayer leaders), who have guided us, the muezzin (the person who calls to prayer) who have called us to prayer and other community members who have contributed to the development of the architectural and religious landscape,” MIA said.

At its core, the exhibition stands as a tribute to the historical and cultural importance of Qatar’s mosques throughout the last century. This immersive journey commences with the inception of mosques in Qatar and progresses to showcase the modern architectural marvels that have become symbols of the nation. Beyond showcasing the architectural metamorphosis, the exhibition shines a light on the instrumental role mosques have played within the community.

MIA Director, Dr. Julia Gonnella, expressed that the exhibition serves as a celebration of the profound cultural and visual legacy etched by mosques over the course of 100 years within Qatar.

“Mosques in Qatar: Then and Now” is presented in cooperation with the Ministry of Endowments and Islamic Affairs and Seashore Group. It is located at the MIA Shaikh Saoud Gallery on Level 1.

Admission to this exhibition is complimentary, though attendees are required to secure online reservations in advance through the official MIA website, mia.org.qa.

Source: thepeninsulaqatar.com

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Mauritanian Mufti: Kingdom's Efforts in Serving Islam and Muslims Appreciated

11 Aug, 2023

The Grand Mufti of Mauritania and Imam of the Great Mosque, Sheikh Ahmed Al-Murabit Al-Shanqeeti, has stressed that the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia's efforts, under the leadership of Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud and His Royal Highness Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz, Crown Prince and Prime Minister, in various areas of Islamic action across the world are widely appreciated, noting that aspects of the "Communication and Integration" conference address the needs of the Islamic nation.

 He made the remarks as the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, represented by the Ministry of Islamic Affairs, Dawa and Guidance, is scheduled to organize an Islamic conference titled "Communication with the Departments of Religious Affairs, Ifta and Sheikhdoms in the World" in Makkah between Muharram 26 and 27, with the participation of 80 scholars and muftis from 85 countries.

 Al-Shanqeeti stressed the importance of the conference in unifying the efforts of scholars, muftis and religious departments worldwide in facing changes and developments brought about by several modern issues that need insight into Sharia sciences to address them.

Source: alriyadhdaily.com

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Sarajevo Mufti Commends Islamic Affairs Ministry's Efforts in Organizing Conference to Boost Mutual Understanding for Islamic Action

11 Aug, 2023

The Mufti of Sarajevo, Sheikh Nedzad Grabus, has emphasized that visiting Saudi Arabia is a source of lasting happiness for all Muslims, as it works tirelessly to serve Islam and Muslims not only within its geographical boundaries but throughout the world.

The mufti commended the efforts of the Ministry of Islamic Affairs, Dawa and Guidance in organizing a conference "Communication and Integration" in Makkah, as it is essential to enhance mutual understanding of Islamic action with religious departments and sheikhdoms, especially with the Kingdom, which exerts great efforts to promote and upgrade Islamic action at the international level, in addition to the Kingdom's considerable expertise in various fields, mainly in education, religious and awqaf work, and praised its outstanding efforts to promote world peace.

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, represented by the Ministry of Islamic Affairs, Dawa and Guidance, is scheduled to organize an Islamic conference titled "Communication with the Departments of Religious Affairs, Ifta and Sheikhdoms in the World" in Makkah between Muharram 26 and 27, with the participation of 80 scholars and muftis from 85 countries.

Source: alriyadhdaily.com

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Decaying Yemen tanker no longer a ‘ticking time bomb’ after 1m barrels of oil removed

August 11, 2023

EPHREM KOSSAIFY

Though the UN operation means the immediate threat of an environmental catastrophe has been averted, a second phase is is still needed to clean and scrap the vessel

UN Development Program chief tells Arab news he hopes the fact opposing sides came together to resolve the problem might lay groundwork for talks on wider issues

NEW YORK CITY: The UN on Friday said the imminent threat of a massive oil spill in the Red Sea had been averted, after more than a million barrels of oil were successfully transferred to a salvage ship from the Safer, a decaying storage vessel moored off the coast of Yemen for years that had been described as a “ticking time bomb.”

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres welcomed the successful completion of this phase of the operation, saying that it had “avoided what could have been a monumental environmental and humanitarian catastrophe.”

Achim Steiner, head of the UN’s Development Program, described it as “one of the most significant preventative actions taken in recent years.”

He added: “Some of you have written and called the FSO (floating storage and offloading vessel) Safer a ticking time bomb. I think it is fair to say that as of today, that ticking is no longer an immediate threat.”

Although the bulk of the oil has been removed, the operation is not yet complete, officials said, as there is still a small amount of viscous oil on board and the vessel could still break apart.

“The residual oil on the Safer is mixed with sediment and can’t be pumped out at this point,” said David Gressly, the UN’s resident coordinator in Yemen. “It will be removed during the final cleaning of the Safer.”

The second and final phase of the operation, which will involve stripping and cleaning the Safer and preparing it for towing and scrapping, is expected to take between a week and 10 days to complete, he added.

The vessel has been moored in the Red Sea off the coast of Yemen, near the port of Hodeidah, for more than eight years, since start of the war in the country. During that time it had little or no maintenance and its condition had deteriorated to a point where there were growing fears of a catastrophic oil spill.

According to the UN, it contained more than 1.14 million barrels of oil, which is four times as much as was spilled during the 1989 Exxon Valdez disaster off the coast of Alaska, one of the world’s worst ecological catastrophes.

Donations to fund the Safer salvage operation from 23 UN member states, the EU, the private sector and the public have surpassed $121 million but a further $20 million is still needed to complete the operation.

“We should recognize the cooperation the United Nations received from the authorities in Sanaa, particularly through the Safer Technical Committee, currently based in Hodeidah, which ensured the access, security and technical support required to carry this out,” Gressly said.

He added that the UN had also “received important political and technical support from the government of Yemen. That cannot be underestimated. They made a $5 million contribution to the global environmental facility, making (them) one of the top 10 donors to the project.”

Gressly also highlighted the fact that the two captains working on the operation on board the Safer were invited to travel from Aden to take part in the project, which he described as “an indication of the importance of going beyond the day-to-day concerns that exist in the civil war that continues here.”

The accomplishment has sparked hope not only in the international community but also among the people of Yemen, according to Gressly, who expressed hope that the ability of adversaries to work together to address this one critical problem might lay the groundwork for broader cooperation and peace negotiations.

The success of the salvage operation serves as a testament to the power of diplomacy, patience and transparency in efforts to foster collaboration in even the most challenging of situations, he added.

“It's a good Friday,” Gressly told Arab News. “We feel good about what we’ve seen today. It’s nice to see something advancing as it did here. In terms of the larger political dialogue, of course it won’t contribute directly to that. But I have to say (it) does create a bit of hope for people that there is a way forward.

“And then, while the parties are adversaries, they did find a way to set aside those differences long enough to deal with this particular problem. And that can create, I think, conditions more conducive for negotiations.

“And also, I think the fact that the (memorandum of understanding) that was signed back in March last year, that so far has been adhered to by Sanaa. is a good sign that you can have a successful negotiation in this context.

“That does not guarantee it but it does create a sense of, I think, hope that may not have been there before. And I hope those that are in a position to do so can take advantage of whatever momentum this is creating to go forth.”

Steiner similarly said that in the broader context of the situation in Yemen, a country grappling with one of the most catastrophic humanitarian crises the world has ever seen, the success of the Safer operation offers as “a glimpse of hope,” especially amid wider shifts in the dynamics of the region and within Yemen itself.

He told Arab News: “UNDP, which works in virtually all parts of the country, has estimated that Yemen over the last eight years has lost some 20 to 22 years of its development. So I think the context within which this operation had to be mounted was quite unique.

“But I think one can at least speculate that the ability of two sides to this conflict — who lack trust in each other, who are even very skeptical toward international community — to find it within themselves, and ultimately with a very strong sense of support from the public, that this was an operation that was of benefit to every citizen, and therefore required exceptional and unusual measures.

“And the story of how we got here might actually give some hope to those who believe that there is more that can be achieved in the next few months.”

Source: arabnews.com

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How Saudi Arabia is building the foundation of a year-round tourist destination

11 August 2023

The Kingdom’s tourism industry is flourishing, with visitor numbers outstripping pre-pandemic levels

International travel agencies are offering tailor-made packages sampling its natural and cultural highlights

DUBAI: Saudi Arabia is tapping its potential of becoming a major international tourism hub, attracting increasing numbers of foreign visitors seeking a unique travel experience at any time of the year.

The Kingdom’s tourism industry has enjoyed a swift rebound since the COVID-19 pandemic brought a worldwide halt to travel. In fact, not only has the Saudi tourism sector recovered, it has grown.

International travel agencies are arranging trips to the country’s numerous attractions, from Umluj, known as the “Maldives of Saudi Arabia,” to the ancient oasis city AlUla and the cool mountainous Soudah area of the southern Asir region.

In May, Riyadh launched the “Rethink Summer” campaign to promote the Kingdom as a year-round destination.

“Saudi is glorious in the summer and all year round,” Abdullah Al-Dakhil, a spokesperson for the Saudi Tourism Authority, told Arab News.

“Our ‘Rethink Summer — Visit Saudi’ campaign is encouraging people to visit the Kingdom to experience its dynamic and diverse locations, including the cool, green Asir region, where an eight-week cultural festival is running until Sept. 1,” he added.

“Saudi Arabia is leading the way as the world’s biggest investor in tourism, committing $550 billion to new destinations alone by 2030.

“The investment is paying off with the country receiving an impressive 94 million plus visits in 2022 and total tourism spend amounting to SR185 billion ($49.3 billion), an increase of 93 percent compared to 2021, while 2023 has also seen record visitor growth.

“These figures are excellent news for Saudi tourism and clearly show huge opportunities lie ahead with Saudi firmly on the map as a must-visit destination for international tourists.”

In July, Ahmed Al-Khateeb, Saudi Arabia’s minister of tourism, noted that the Kingdom’s travel and tourism market had grown 12 percent compared to pre-pandemic levels.

Tourism currently makes up 2-3 percent of Saudi Arabia’s gross domestic product. In June, at the France-Saudi Investment Forum in Paris, Al-Khateeb revealed that Saudi Arabia aims to increase tourism’s contribution to 10 percent of its GDP.

One popular destination is AlUla. Saudi Arabia created the Royal Commission for AlUla in 2017 to develop the region into a living, open museum, featuring luxury hotel options.

According to its official website, the RCU aims to “protect and regenerate the natural beauty of AlUla’s unique geological landscape and reaffirm its position as one of Saudi Arabia’s most important archeological and cultural areas.”

Rapid strides have been made in the ensuing six years. According to the RCU, the total number of flights to the historic attraction increased by 64 percent between April and June, while the total number of passengers increased by 74 percent.

AlUla is a sought-after retreat for city-dwellers since it offers a tranquil place where they can relax and enjoy some much-needed respite from the sweltering heat.

The RCU has created a three-day itinerary for this summer. It is designed for visitors to experience some of the region’s highlights, including the sites of Hegra, Dadan, Jabal Ikhmah, and Harrat viewpoint, among others.

Visitors can also enjoy a helicopter tour of the region’s picturesque heritage sites, strolls around the vibrant Al-Jadidah Arts District, and even stargaze in the vast desert.

Melanie de Souza, executive director of destination marketing at the RCU, said the increasing number of packages and programs for travelers wishing to visit the ancient oasis city over the summer and in September is reflective of the tourism sector’s overall growth in recent years.

AlUla “is fast becoming a year-round destination,” de Souza told Arab News.

That is partially thanks to its more temperate climate compared to other Gulf locations. Humidity in the region is low and summer temperatures are cooler compared to the capital Riyadh and major cities next door in the UAE.

“Our ambition is very much for AlUla to be a year-round destination,” said de Souza.

“We do have quite hot temperatures during the middle of the day, but there are places that are at least 5 C cooler than other places in the GCC area, plus or minus humidity. And we do have some of the most blissful mornings and late evenings.”

Even during those parts of the day when the heat can feel unbearable, there are alternative indoor activities visitors can enjoy. De Souza said there are “wellness packages” in “stunning settings” such as “Habitas AlUla and Banyan Tree in Ashar Valley.”

She also noted that visitors can enjoy activities and trips tailored to their preferences and interests. “For us, it is about recognizing in terms of itinerary planning,” she said.

For example, many visitors may spend early mornings and late evenings enjoying outdoor experiences and then retreat during the hottest times of the day to places like the oasis, luxury spas or to enjoy one of the many indoor events on offer.

Thanks to Saudi Arabia’s varied topography, there are numerous beaches, mountains, and even forests with cooler temperatures that visitors can still enjoy during the hotter summer months.

Coastal sea breezes also make the climate more tolerable during the hotter summer months, as do many of the water activities, such as snorkeling and scuba diving.

Those less familiar with Saudi Arabia’s varied landscape will not likely have heard of Abha, the provincial capital of the Asir region.

Situated at 2,200 meters above sea level between the Sarawat Mountains, Abha is a gem, not just for its more temperate climate but for its myriad natural wonders and heritage, including the ancient village of Rijal Almaa, which features unique stone castles.

“With its light breezes, refreshing fog, and lush mountains, Asir is a summer haven for travelers as temperatures rise globally — and we expect to see its popularity as a destination continue to grow,” said Al-Dakhil of the Saudi Tourism Authority.

The juniper tree-covered Soudah mountain region is the Kingdom’s highest point at more than 3,000 meters above sea level. Its snowy peaks make it popular for paragliding and skydiving, while its trails make it appealing for cyclists and hikers.

There is also Wadi Disah — the valley of palm trees — an enchanting secluded natural wonder in the mountainous region of the northern Tabuk province, which also features rare archeological sites, including carvings and tombs in the sandstone.

Taif is another region suitable for those seeking cooler weather in the summer. Its average temperature in the summer ranges between 26 and 36 C. The city is located on the eastern side of the Sarawat Mountains, where visitors can hike and enjoy the natural environment.

Another summer getaway is the southwestern city of Al-Baha. Also situated within the Sarawat Mountains, visitors can explore the 400-year-old village of Thee Ain and immerse themselves in Saudi heritage, culture, and mesmerizing natural landscape.

In just a few short years, Saudi Arabia has demonstrated that it has a lot to offer tourists who might not otherwise have considered the Kingdom as an enticing place to vacation.

Its success in attracting a wider variety of tourists will further benefit the sector and help the Kingdom achieve its stated goal of diversifying its economy in line with the Vision 2030 reform agenda.

Source: arabnews.com

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Saudi Arabia welcomes emptying of decaying Safar tanker off Yemen's coast

August 12, 2023

RIYADH — Saudi Arabia welcomed on Friday the UN announcement of completing the removal of crude oil from the decaying FSO Safar supertanker off Yemen's Red Sea coast.

In a press statement, the Saudi Foreign Ministry lauded the UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres and the UN team's efforts to reach this end.

It thanked donor countries which donated for the mission, noting that the Kingdom of Saudi was one of the leading donors.

"A remarkable global coalition came together under the UN umbrella to prevent the worst-case scenario of a catastrophic oil spill in the Red Sea," The UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator for Yemen David Gressly said.

The Saudi Ministry spoke highly about the Yemeni government's efforts to facilitate to the UN team work.

Earlier, the United Nations announced successfully completing the transfer of oil from the FSO Safer supertanker off Yemen's Red Sea coast.

The Safer has been at risk of breaking up or exploding for years. A major spill from the vessel would have resulted in an environmental and humanitarian catastrophe.

The cargo of oil aboard the FSO Safer has been pumped onto the replacement vessel MOST Yemen (formerly Nautica) in a ship-to-ship transfer that began on 25 July, following preparations on site for the operation that began in May by leading marine salvage company SMIT, a subsidiary of Boskalis. The UN Development Programme (UNDP), which contracted SMIT, is implementing the operation.

As much of the 1.14 million barrels has been extracted as possible. However, less than 2 percent of the original oil cargo remains mixed in with sediment that will be removed during the final cleaning of the Safer. — SG

Source: saudigazette.com.sa

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Africa

 

Nigeria: 7 Worshippers Killed As Mosque In Northwestern Part Of Country Collapses During Prayers

 12 AUG 2023

A part of a mosque collapsed while hundreds of people were inside for prayers Friday, and seven worshippers were killed, authorities said in northwestern Nigeria's Kaduna state.

The Zaria Central Mosque is in Zaria, which is one of northern Nigeria's largest cities.

“Twenty-three persons were affected and evacuated to the hospital by our fire servicemen,” the state Emergency Management Agency said. State officials said the mosque was constructed in the 1830s.

Videos apparently recorded at the scene showed a wide opening where a part of the roof fell in.

The victims were buried while prayers were held for them at the mosque.

Kaduna Gov Uba Sani ordered an immediate investigation into the disaster and promised to assist those affected by the “heartbreaking incident.” His office said an advance team was already in Zaria.

The mosque's collapse comes after more than a dozen building failures in the West African nation in the last year. Authorities often blame such disasters on a failure by officials to enforce building safety regulations and on poor maintenance.

Source: outlookindia.com

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Thousands of coup supporters rally near French base in Niger

August 12, 2023

Thousands of coup supporters rallied near a French military base in Niger on Friday, a day after West African leaders said they would muster a "standby" force in their efforts to reinstate the country's deposed leader.

Fears also mounted for elected President Mohamed Bazoum, who was ousted by members of his guard on July 26, with reports saying his detention conditions were deteriorating.

Protesters near the base on the outskirts of the capital Niamey shouted "down with France, down with ECOWAS", a reference to the West African bloc which on Thursday approved deployment of a "standby force to restore constitutional order".

Many brandished Russian and Niger flags and yelled their support for the country's new strongman, General Abdourahamane Tiani.

"We are going to make the French leave! ECOWAS isn't independent, it's being manipulated by France," said one demonstrator, Aziz Rabeh Ali, a member of a students' union.

Former colonial power France has around 1,500 personnel in Niger as part of a force battling an eight-year-old jihadist insurgency.

It is facing growing hostility across the Sahel, withdrawing its anti-jihadist forces from neighbouring Mali and Burkina Faso last year after falling out with military governments that ousted elected leaders.

Niger's new leaders scrapped defence agreements with France last week, while a hostile protest outside the French embassy in Niamey on July 30 prompted Paris to evacuate its citizens.

- Fears for Bazoum -

The European Union and African Union joined others in sounding the alarm for Bazoum on Friday.

"Bazoum and his family, according to the latest information, have been deprived of food, electricity and medical care for several days," said EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell.

UN rights chief Volker Turk said Bazoum's reported detention conditions "could amount to inhuman and degrading treatment, in violation of international human rights law."

The AU echoed the concern, saying "such treatment of a democratically elected president" was "unacceptable".

German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock warned that the "coup plotters must face harsh consequences should anything happen" to Bazoum or his family.

A source close to Bazoum said "he's OK, but the conditions are very difficult," adding that the coup leaders had brandished the threat of assaulting him in the event of military intervention.

Human Rights Watch (HRW) said it had spoken to Bazoum earlier this week. The 63-year-old described the treatment of him, his wife and their 20-year-old son as "inhuman and cruel", HRW said.

"I'm not allowed to receive my family members (or) my friends who have been bringing food and other supplies to us," the group quoted him as saying.

"My son is sick, has a serious heart condition, and needs to see a doctor," he was quoted as saying. "They've refused to let him get medical treatment."

- Intervention warning -

The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) on Thursday approved the deployment of what it called a "standby force to restore constitutional order" in Niger following an emergency summit in the Nigerian capital Abuja.

Chiefs of staff from ECOWAS members will meet on Saturday in Ghana's capital Accra, regional military sources said on Friday.

The leaders did not provide any details on the force or any timetable for action, and emphasised they still wanted a peaceful solution.

Under pressure to stem a cascade of coups among its members, ECOWAS had previously issued a seven-day ultimatum to the coup leaders to return Bazoum to power.

But the regime defied the deadline, which expired on Sunday without any action being taken.

Source: africanews.com

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https://www.africanews.com/2023/08/11/thousands-of-coup-supporters-rally-near-french-base-in-niger/

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Ethiopia: return to "calm" in Amhara after a withdrawal of militias

August 11, 2023

A certain calm reigned Thursday in the Ethiopian region of Amhara, according to residents interviewed by AFP, the day after the announcement of the " liberation" of several large cities after several days of fighting between the federal army and local militias.

On Wednesday evening, the Ethiopian government announced that six towns had been "freed from the threat of bandits": the regional capital Bahir Dar, Gondar, Lalibela, Shewa Robit, Debre Berhan and Debre Markos. Curfews have been imposed in these six cities.

The region was placed under a state of emergency last Friday after renewed fighting between the federal army and local fighters, including the nationalist Amhara Fano militia, threatened to set northern Ethiopia ablaze again, just nine months after the end of a devastating conflict in the neighbouring region of Tigray.

No official report of these clashes has been communicated, but two doctors from Bahir Dar and Gondar told AFP that they had seen many civilians dead or injured in their establishments.

"The ENDF (the Ethiopian army, editor's note) has regained ground in many places and controls the big cities," a humanitarian worker based in Dessie, in eastern Amhara, told AFP on Thursday. "But many districts are still in the hands of Fano fighters in the South Wollo region (where Dessie is, editor's note). Fano also controls a large part of the countryside in these areas," he said.

As access to the region is restricted, it is impossible to independently verify the situation on the ground. According to residents interviewed by AFP, the army has taken over the streets of the main cities since Wednesday, after the Fano militias withdrew.

In Bahir Dar, the situation was "extremely calm" on Thursday, said a resident, who gave only his first name, Tesfahun, for security reasons. "The ENDF is surveying the city. (...) There are door-to-door checks by the soldiers in search of possible suspects", he added.

On Wednesday evening, several churches hosted burial ceremonies for civilians, he said. In Gondar, the region's second city, life has not yet resumed despite the departure of Fano fighters, who have retreated "to the forests on the outskirts of the city", according to a tuktuk driver, Simachew.

Transport has not restarted, electricity services are not working,” detailed a 62-year-old resident, on condition of anonymity. "We are waiting to see what will happen, sitting inside our homes".

In Lalibela, a tourist site renowned for its rock-hewn churches listed as UNESCO World Heritage Sites, the city is also idling.

"People went out this morning to go to church but since then they have mostly stayed at home," said a trader in his thirties, although "banks, government institutions and restaurants have largely reopened. ".

The national company Ethiopian Airlines announced that it had resumed flights Thursday morning, briefly suspended, to two of the four airports in the region, Bahir Dar and Gondar.

Tensions in Amhara have been growing since April, after Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed announced that he wanted to dismantle the "special forces", paramilitary units created by many regional states over the past fifteen years.

Source: africanews.com

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https://www.africanews.com/2023/08/11/ethiopia-return-to-calm-in-amhara-after-a-withdrawal-of-militias/

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DRC: at least 4 dead in the collapse of a school in Bukavu

August 11, 2023

At least four people died and another was injured Thursday in the collapse of a school under construction in Bukavu, a large city in the east of the Democratic Republic of Congo, according to local authorities and witnesses.

Around 12:30 p.m. GMT, the Omega La Merveille school complex collapsed, causing the death of at least four people, including the director of the primary school, an educational adviser and a teacher, said Patience Bengheya, mayor of the commune of Bagira in Bukavu, where the drama happened.

Dieudonné Kalabarha, a painter who worked on a construction site near the school, witnessed the scene: "The masons were digging while they (the teaching team) were in a meeting. The masons noticed a problem and they fled. Suddenly, everything collapsed, (...) the slab buried them".

This worker recounts having "pulled three men from the rubble". They were already dead. Typson Idumbo, spokesman for the provincial government of South Kivu - of which Bukavu is the capital -, dismisses the seismic cause saying that "there was no earthquake".

Eastern DRC, located on one of the fault lines of the East African Rift, is subject to strong seismic activity, which occasionally leads to building collapses and volcanic eruptions. The latest took place in 2021 in Goma, a hundred kilometers north of Bukavu, and left several dozen dead.

A team was dispatched to the field to "begin the first investigations", said spokesman Typson Idumbo.

"The people suspected are the builders themselves and the owner because they should not have authorized the construction of a septic tank inside" the building, burgomaster Patience Bengheya got carried away.

“Imagine if we were in the period when the children were inside … it would be more serious than now”, launches the spokesperson. But "God made sure that it happened during the holidays", concludes the mayor.

Landslides, collapses and spectacular fires frequently mourn the working-class neighborhoods of Bukavu. More than thirty people have died in similar conditions since the beginning of the year.

Founded at the very beginning of the 20th century on the southern shore of Lake Kivu by Belgian settlers, Bukavu, formerly Costermansville, was designed for around 100,000 inhabitants. They would be around 2 million today, a figure difficult to confirm for lack of a census.

Source: africanews.com

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https://www.africanews.com/2023/08/11/drc-at-least-4-dead-in-the-collapse-of-a-school-in-bukavu/

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Jewish kids of color attend inclusive summer camp

August 11, 2023

In California, a summer sleepaway camp serves as a haven for Jewish children of color.

"Camp Be'chol Lashon is a camp for Jews of color. Be'chol Lashon actually stands for it in every tongue or in every language. And the mission of the camp is to provide a safe space for a diverse variety of Jews and to educate Jews on the multicultural experience." said Satya Sheftel-Gomes, who has been coming the camp since she was 11 and is now one of the camp counselors.

Its founders say it’s the only sleepaway summer camp specifically serving Jewish children of color, creating a safe space for candid conversations on race and identity.

For over the past 14 years it has functioned as an extended family for campers who are often the only Jewish child of color in their hometown or treated more as a curiosity than a full-fledged member of Jewish or Black communities.

"This place is very special for me because it has played a huge role in creating the foundations for my understanding of self. This place is one that focuses on providing kind of a literacy and identity in a really fun and innovative way," said Sheftel-Gomes.

At the camp, each morning begins with a lesson on global Jewry. For example, there’s Pirate Day, when campers learn about Jews who were expelled to the Caribbean during the Spanish inquisition and found livelihoods as pirates.

"We do our projects, our food projects related to the culture of that place. And this kind of helps to contextualize the experience of all the Jews of color that attend it." said Sheftel-Gomes.

The U.S. Jewish population remains overwhelmingly homogenous in its racial makeup, with 92% of adults identifying as white, according to a 2020 Pew Research Center survey. But there are signs the nation’s Jews are becoming more diverse, especially among younger generations.

"Often Jews of color in America are the minority in Jewish spaces and in wider spaces," said Sheftel-Gomes. "And so having a place that can attend to the intersection of being of color and being Jewish is really important."

The camp incorporates aspects of Jewish practice such as lighting candles for Shabbat and Havdalah, the ceremony to close out the Sabbath day. That ceremony also marked the end of the two-week camp session.

Source: africanews.com

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https://www.africanews.com/2023/08/11/jewish-kids-of-color-attend-inclusive-summer-camp/

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Niger: AU deems Bazoum's detention conditions "inadmissible"

August 11, 2023

The Chairperson of the African Union Commission, Moussa Faki Mahamat, on Friday, expressed "serious concern" about the "deterioration of the conditions of detention" of Nigerien President Mohamed Bazoum, judging "inadmissible" his treatment by the military authorities who overturned.

In the same statement, the leader "expresses his strong support for the decisions of ECOWAS" , the Economic Community of West African States, which decided on Thursday to deploy a "standby force" to restore constitutional order. in Niger.

Mohamed Bazoum, who was elected in 2021, has been held prisoner with his wife and son since the military coup that overthrew him on July 26.

According to the NGO Human Rights Watch, which spoke to Mr. Bazoum, he described the treatment of his family as "inhuman and cruel", saying that he had had no electricity since August 2, nor any human contact for a week.

"Such treatment of a democratically elected president through a regular electoral process is inadmissible", denounced Moussa Faki Mahamat, calling on "the entire international community to concretely unite all its efforts to save life and integrity moral and physical of President Mohamed Bazoum".

The day after an ECOWAS summit, the AU leader challenges "the military authorities on the urgency of stopping the escalation with the regional organization, the distrust of it and the continued kidnapping of the president in conditions that are deteriorating in a worrying way" .

ECOWAS on Thursday ordered the deployment of a "standby force" to restore constitutional order in Niger, which should be made up of Ivorian, Nigerian and Beninese troops. The West African bloc, however, did not rule out the diplomatic route to restore Mr. Bazoum.

Nigerian President Bola Tinubu, who holds the rotating presidency of ECOWAS, said Thursday hoped "to reach a peaceful resolution", adding that a resort to force as a "last resort" was not excluded.

Source: africanews.com

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https://www.africanews.com/2023/08/11/niger-au-deems-bazoums-detention-conditions-inadmissible/

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North America

 

Iranian commander rebuffs US accusation Iran destabilizing region, says US 'master of world’s pirates'

11 August 2023

A senior Iranian commander has rebuffed US accusations that Iran is destabilizing the Persian Gulf region and instead branded Washington as the source of insecurity in the region and the “master of the world’s pirates.”

Brigadier General Abolfazl Shekarchi, the spokesman for the Iranian Armed Forces, said the US is destabilizing the region and looting its resources, yet it accuses Iran of destabilizing the neighborhood.

“Americans accuse us of creating insecurity in the Persian Gulf. This is while the Persian Gulf is the home of regional countries. One should ask the Americans ‘what’s your business here’?” he said on Thursday.

He was referring to long-running US accusations that Iran’s regional activities destabilize the region. Last week, the US military announced it has deployed more than 3,000 forces to the region to protect vessels from what is claimed to be Iran’s harassment and seizure attempts.

"One of the requirements of this region is security and the Islamic Republic of Iran is at the forefront of security building in the region and it is paying costs for it. The arrangement [of Iran] is aimed at establishing security, not insecurity," he said.

"The US is exactly on the opposite side and its arrangement is aimed at creating insecurity; the US is the master of the world's pirates ... So, it is rational to confront this piracy and this cannot be called creating insecurity."

“Our measures are not meant to create insecurity,” the Iranian commander said, adding that countries shouldn’t allow the US to threaten waterways and disrupt international free trade in the region and sacrifice the interests of others for its own interests.

General Shekarchi said the fact is that Iran is doing its best to protect regional security, including through holding naval drills in the Persian Gulf.

A senior Iranian military commander says security of the Persian Gulf, the Sea of Oman and the Indian Ocean has nothing to do with the United States.

“Even if we are a source of threat, this is against the US, the UK and the Zionist regime and not regional countries, as we have common interests with regional nations,” he said.

The Islamic Revolution Guard Corps last week held a naval drill in the Persian Gulf after the US announced it will deploy more troops to the region. 

IRGC’s Chief Commander Major General Hossein Salami said at the time Iran will give a “harsh response" to threats and seditions.

"There is no need for the presence of America or its European or non-European allies in this region,” he said.

Source: presstv.ir

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https://www.presstv.ir/Detail/2023/08/11/708739/Iran-rebuffs-US-accusation-Iran-destabilizing-region-US-master-of-world-pirates

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US slaps sanctions on Russian financial elite

12 August 2023

The United States has imposed sanctions on four Russian businessmen as means of trying to pile up pressure on Moscow over the latter's ongoing military operation in Ukraine.

The US Treasury Department enacted the measures on Friday, identifying the targets as people linked to the Russian financial and investment conglomerate Alfa Group, and saying that the targeted individuals had served on Alfa's supervisory board.

The department named the individuals as Petr Olegivich Aven, Mikhail Maratovich Fridman, German Borisovich Khan, and Alexey Viktorovich Kuzmichev.

It also imposed sanctions on the Russian Association of Employers the Russian Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs (RSPP), a Russia-based organization involved in the technology sector of the Russian Federation's economy.

Commenting on the new sanctions, Russia's Ambassador to the United States Anatoly Antonov said they were part of "a failing restrictive policy" and the White House "could not destroy our economy and undermine technological sovereignty."

Moscow says it started the war in order to defend the pro-Russian population in the eastern Ukrainian regions of Luhansk and Donetsk against persecution by Kiev, and also to "de-Nazify" its neighbor.

Russia holds that the West's anti-Russian agendas, including its eagerness for inclusion of Ukraine in NATO -- and, therefore, the Western military alliance's expansion right up to Russia's borders -- forced Moscow to launch the war on Kiev.

Ever since the beginning of the war, Western countries, led by the United States, have been levying sanctions against Russia, while pumping Ukraine full of tens of billions of dollars worth of advanced weapons, steps that Moscow says would only complicate the standing situation and prolong the hostilities.

Source: presstv.ir

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https://www.presstv.ir/Detail/2023/08/12/708767/United-States-sanctions-Russian-businessmen-war-Ukraine

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Southeast Asia

 

Take pride in distinct Malaysian values and way of life

August 12, 2023

LETTERS: I was recently asked by a Singapore publication to comment on the issue arising from the "tirade" of an international performer, who does not deserve to be named, on stage at a recent concert in Malaysia.

I felt that he should have been immediately "booted-out" and was pleased to know that he had been banned from performing in Malaysia.

The questions posed by the publication revolved around how Malaysia has been regarded as a country with "conservative values", which would in turn impact the nation's economy in terms of tourism and foreign direct investment (FDI). It also opined that such a move would require Malaysia to look into its brand positioning.

I felt the questions were shallow and alluding towards the conclusion that the move by the Malaysian government was wrong and that it would have repercussions on our economy.

Instead of replying to the questions posed, I chose to share my opinion on the matter, which I believe would not be carried by the Singapore publication.

In the spirit of wanting the public to realise how "skewed" certain media can be and how they can influence perception by amplifying the "loud minority" views, I wish to share my response.

First, we should address a pertinent point about the tendency by certain quarters to undermine "conservative values". Labelling people as either conservative or liberal is very subjective.

For example, an ultra-liberal group of people may label moderately liberal personalities as "conservative" and the "ultra-conservative" group may label moderate conservatives as "liberals". Hence, whichever set of values that the majority of a society adopts should not be judged by people external to the society, without a full understanding of what "makes" the society.

In the context of conservative values, there are many positive traits associated with it including, being dutiful, traditional values and social institutions, such as traditional family structures, gender roles, patriotism and religious traditions.

Although certain parties may label conservatives as being averse to innovation and creativity, these remain mere unsubstantiated claims. What is important is the practise of moderation in all facets of life, which ensures equity, accountability, reliability and fairness. Hence, a society that practises conservative values should not be labelled as bad or backward especially when the majority of the society, regardless of race and religion, have no qualms about it and continue to develop and prosper.

The crux of the matter lies in the values and principles that a society holds, which should not be questioned by those who have an entirely different set of values and principles.

Malaysia has strong Eastern values, which include adab and decorum in public, respect for elders, importance of family, community and communal harmony, a strong sense of culture, diligence and respect for authority. Certainly, these traits should not be seen as "flaws" and have never been a hindrance to the nation's development.

Malaysia is also a moderate nation and despite the label of "conservative values", especially by people who advocate the "woke culture", the country continues to attract many visitors and investors.

In the case mentioned, the personality concerned is known to be a tyrant, lacking in values and had attempted to impose his warped moralities in countries that have a clear set of laws and values. It is akin to one being invited to a person's home as a guest, and behaves in a rude manner, imposing on the host to accept their values, instead of respecting the norms and rules of the host.

Fortunately, his tirade has done Malaysia a favour. It has brought the country together, across the political divide, in anger against his disrespectful and offensive behaviour. Even foreigners and expatriates in Malaysia do not condone such appalling behaviour.

As far as investments and FDI are concerned, business decisions should be based on many factors, including business sense, stability, transparency and sound decisions.

Since the incident, other more well-known international artistes have performed in Malaysia, contrary to the misconception that the entertainment world had forsaken Malaysia. Our brand of hospitality and culture has not been tainted by this individual grappling with his sexuality, to the extent that he feels he must project it on stage.

Malaysia has its own set of values that we should uphold. We have a responsibility to preserve our values and principles in accordance with the views of Malaysians. We do not owe it to anyone to bend over backwards to accept their tyranny, bullying tactics and cheap publicity stunts. In this regard, I support the government's stand on this issue.

Let us not put emphasis on the few people who are destructive to our values. Instead, we should support the silent majority who uphold the Malaysian way of life and its inherent cherished values.

Every country is unique and should be able to project its own values, culture and hospitality. Visitors come to Malaysia to find warmth and genuine friendship – this is the Malaysia brand.

This whole episode does not deserve more headlines, airtime or media coverage. That will just give this personality what he has craved for - undeserving credence.

Source: nst.com.my

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https://www.nst.com.my/opinion/letters/2023/08/941899/take-pride-distinct-malaysian-values-and-way-life

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State elections: Siti Nurhaliza, Harith Iskander among local celebrities urging Malaysians to cast their votes

12 Aug 2023

By Arif Zikri

KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 12 — Sometimes we need a bit of star power during voting season.

A handful of local celebrities have taken to social media to showcase their civic duties while urging Malaysians to head to the voting booth.

States that are having elections today are Selangor, Negeri Sembilan, Penang, Kedah, Kelantan and Terengganu.

Via her Instagram story, singer Datuk Siti Nurhaliza wished Malaysians a safe voting day while sharing a short clip of her walking towards a polling station.

Comedian Harith Iskander via his Instagram story indicated that he had performed his civic duty by sharing a screenshot of his voting details.

Actress-singer Chelsia Ng shared that she has done her civic duty in her hometown Penang earlier this morning while calling out to Malaysians to go out and vote.

“No lines at the polling station this time. I hope it's because you guys are still asleep or we’ve perfected the art of staggering.

“Faster go vote guys!” she wrote in her Facebook post, along with a photo of her with her inked finger.

Former beauty queen and actress Kavita Sidhu via her Instagram post this morning reminded Malaysians to cast their votes while wishing them a safe voting day ahead.

Among the earliest voters to turn up at the Sekolah Kebangsaan Klang Gate polling station this morning was TV personality Azwan Ali or better known as Diva AA, who’s also the brother of Hulu Kelang’s candidate Azmin Ali.

In a video shared on Twitter, Azwan said that he was initially reluctant to cast his vote but later changed his mind as he believes every vote matters.

Meanwhile, dangdut singer Baby Shima or her real name Nor Ashima Ramli wished Malaysians well on voting day via her Threads and Instagram accounts.

Currently in Bandung, Indonesia, the artiste previously made headlines after joking she was going to compete in todays state elections as an independent candidate.

Source: malaymail.com

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https://www.malaymail.com/news/showbiz/2023/08/12/state-elections-siti-nurhaliza-harith-iskander-among-local-celebrities-urging-malaysians-to-cast-their-votes/84855

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PM Anwar says situation calm in all six states, advises voters to cast ballots early

12 Aug 2023

PERMATANG PAUH, Aug 12 ? Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim urged electors in the six states to go to the polls early and not to delay in discharging their responsibilities.

The Pakatan Harapan (PH) chairman also advised them to vote wisely.

“The campaigning is now over, so let’s get back together and mend our ties,” he told reporters after casting his vote at Sekolah Kebangsaan Seri Penanti in the Permatang Pasir constituency here today.

Anwar said the situation in all six states is good and calm based on the monitoring by the relevant as of 10am today.

Meanwhile, the prime minister reiterated that the results of the state elections would not affect the administration of the federal government under his leadership.

“What we are having now is state elections. The federal government will carry out its duties, as usual, tomorrow, we will continue with our work and the (state election) results will determine the leadership of the new state government,” he said.

Anwar, accompanied by his wife Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail, went to cast his vote 9.41am and they were greeted on arrival at the polling centre by Penang police chief Datuk Khaw Kok Chin and Seberang Perai Tengah district police chief ACP Tan Cheng San.

More than 9.67 million registered electors are expected to exercise their rights in the six state elections which involve 40 seats in Penang, Selangor (56), Negeri Sembilan (36), Kedah (36), Terengganu (32) and Kelantan (45). ? Bernama

Source: malaymail.com

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https://www.malaymail.com/news/malaysia/2023/08/12/pm-anwar-says-situation-calm-in-all-six-states-advises-voters-to-cast-ballots-early/84834

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Why the Singapore presidential election matters

 12 Aug 2023

SINGAPORE, Aug 12 — Ask Daniel Loke what he knows about the Singapore President’s role and powers, and the 24-year-old will readily admit that it is something that he knows “not much” about.

His understanding of the role, like that of many other youths and first-time voters, is limited to how he has seen the President being presented in the media.

“To me, it just seems like he’s there to sign off documents... and also as a diplomat, but it seems like the main guy doing all the work is the Prime Minister,” said Loke, a polytechnic graduate who now works in the aviation industry.

“It is always the Prime Minister who is doing all the speaking, so people don’t really get to see what the President does.”

When asked what the President’s constitutional powers are, Loke cited custodial powers such as a “check on the reserves” and the ability to “veto key appointments”, but was not clear on what these powers actually entailed.

“Every single time there’s a presidential election (PE), this same stuff comes up, (but) quite frankly, most of us don’t really realise that the President does all this,” he said.

Loke’s sentiments and knowledge of the President’s role are representative of many first-time PE voters in this year’s poll.

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong yesterday issued the Writ of Election and Singaporeans will go to the polls on Sept 1 to vote for the nation’s ninth President, should there be more than one eligible candidate.

Four men — former Senior Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam, businessman George Goh, former GIC chief investment officer Ng Kok Song and former NTUC Income chief executive Tan Kin Lian — have thrown their hats into the ring.

The last contested PE was held in 2011, which means that there will be a sizable number of first-time PE voters in the upcoming election, namely young people whose ages range from 21 to 33, as well as naturalised citizens.

TODAY’s interviews with 15 first-time PE voters found they have various levels of awareness about the Elected Presidency — from two who were not aware that a PE is imminent or unfamiliar with his role to a handful who were well-versed in the topic.

But most of those interviewed were like Loke, and have limited knowledge of or wish they know more about the President’s role.

A recent survey by CNA and TODAY conducted with 1,500 Singapore citizens aged 21 to 33 who are eligible to vote in a PE for the first time found that most of them understood the roles and functions of Singapore’s elected President, but were less clear about the head of state’s relationship with the Government.

Political analysts told TODAY that it is important for these voters to understand the President’s role and care about the presidential election, particularly as their size means they can have a significance on the outcome of the poll.

Responding to queries from TODAY, the Elections Department Singapore (ELD) said that about 6.6 per cent out of the 2,709,455 electors in the Registers of Electors were certified on July 20 as first-time voters in elections of any kind.

But this is only a portion of first-time PE voters, as the 6.6 per cent, or about 162,000 voters, covers only those who had not been eligible to vote in 2020’s General Election.

The figure does not include those who had voted in the previous two General Elections in 2015 and 2020 — but have never voted in a PE, which was last contested in 2011.

The last PE in 2017 was a walkover as Madam Halimah Yacob was the only candidate who qualified in the first poll to be reserved for a minority race, in this case, Malay candidates.

ELD said that it does not track first-time voters by the type of elections.

Associate professor of law from the Singapore Management University Eugene Tan thus estimated that the number of first-time PE voters for this year’s poll are in the region of “about 300,000 to 400,000”.

“In a close contest, (they) can make a world of difference,” he said.

While it may not be as crucial as the General Election in charting the path of Singapore’s future policies, the President still holds substantive powers of rejection against any misuse of the reserves, and abuse of key appointments in the Public Service, he added.

“Our voters must properly understand (the elected President’s) potential and its limits as a ‘speed bump’, but not guarantee, against the slide to misgovernance and profligacy.”

Experts also warned of the risk of these younger voters being misled by inaccurate information online as they try to glean more information about the candidates before they head to the polls.

Said political observer Inderjit Singh: “I think the new (PE) voters, especially the social media savvy (ones), could be swayed by populist manifestos of some candidates without having the opportunity to verify facts.”

The big picture

First-time PE voters tend to have a general lack of understanding of the elected President’s role and the significance of the presidential election due to several reasons, such as a changed socio-political landscape, said political analysts.

One is the emphasis on the President being a “check” on the Government of the day when it comes to how it spends the national reserves, said Dr Leong Chan-Hoong, the head of policy development, evaluation, and data analytics at global policy consulting firm Kantar Public.

He said the PE was instituted in 1991, with the President’s role designed “principally with safeguarding the national reserves in mind”.

“The constitutional change took place more than 30 years ago, under a different socio-political landscape.

Agreeing, Singh said that in PE2011, some candidates overemphasised the President’s role as a “check” on the Government of the day, to present a campaign which indicated that they planned to challenge and check on the Government in areas of policy.

“This did lead the less informed electorate to place the EP as one who can influence policy making,” said Singh, a former Member of Parliament from the People’s Action Party.

In a recent article published in IPS Commons, an Institute of Public Policy online platform, senior research fellow Gillian Koh and intern Sarah Lim also pointed out that the Elected Presidency is a uniquely Singaporean institution, with the President having custodial powers, and so might be harder to understand.

“It is an odd thing... to think of voting for the President when he or she has to spend most of his or her time being a unifying figure, representing our nation to us and those beyond our shores,” said Dr Koh in response to TODAY’s queries.

First-time PE voters agreed that they have had difficulties sifting through information on what the President’s role is all about.

Andrea, 21, said that getting information on the President’s role means poring over “a lot of content”.

“Politics seem to entail a lot of words and talking, and I’m more of a visual person,” said the polytechnic student, who did not wish to reveal her last name.

As she is still in school, she said that she does not feel the pressure of knowing more about the President’s role, as she believes that politics will matter more to her in future when she is working.

The bottomline

Given the need to increase awareness among the young on the institution of the elected presidency, analysts said that various parties, such as the Government, mainstream media, and the PE candidates themselves, can step up their respective efforts to help educate voters.

Singh said that the Government has at its disposal “many avenues” — such as grassroots organisations, the media and government agencies — that can play a significant role in better educating young voters.

The candidates themselves can also put out more content — both online and offline — to educate the young electorate on the significance of the position they are vying for.

“Candidates who paint a more accurate picture of what an elected President can or cannot do should also spend time sharing with voters what is the reality and counter other candidates who have a misguided view of the role of the President,” said Singh.

One 23-year-old student from the National University of Singapore, who wanted to be known only as Nicholas, said that he hopes that tertiary institutions can consider adding a module on Singapore politics.

He said that as of now, even a data science student like himself will have to take “core” modules in the arts involving literature, history and culture.

“Maybe institutions can just fit politics into the core modules that all students have to take,” he said. — TODAY

Source: malaymail.com

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original

https://www.malaymail.com/news/singapore/2023/08/12/why-the-singapore-presidential-election-matters/84819

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No reports on 3R issues during state elections, says deputy IGP

12 Aug 2023

KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 12 ? No reports regarding the 3R (Race, Royalty & Religion) issues were received in the six state elections, said Deputy Inspector-General of Police Datuk Seri Ayob Khan Mydin Pitchay.

He said most of the offences detected during the state elections were for mischief.

“They involved damage to posters, slander, flash mobs or gatherings held without a police permit. So far, the police have opened 131 investigation papers on various election offences in the six states and received 1,770 reports as of last night,” he told a special media conference after observing the situation at the polling centre at Sekolah Kebangsaan Klang Gate here today.

According to him, the voting process in all six states is under control with no untoward incidents reported so far.

He advised electors to go to the polls early because of the uncertain weather condition and to follow the instructions by police personnel on duty at the polling stations.

Ayob Khan Ayob Khan said a total of 35,000 police personnel were mobilised for the elections in the six states, with 5,226 of them in Selangor alone.

“Apart from that, we also mobilised the Op Cantas teams to the hotspot areas,” he added.

Meanwhile, the voting process, including in Selangor, Negeri Sembilan and Penang, is reported to be going smoothly with no untoward incidents reported so far.

Negeri Sembilan police chief Datuk Ahmad Dzaffir Mohd Yussof said a total of 4,333 police personnel were assigned to polling centres in the state to ensure security and the smoothness of the voting process.

For Selangor, state police chief Datuk Hussein Omar Khan said 15,000 police personnel, including from the Civil Defence Force (APM), and also members from the Malaysian Volunteers Corps Department (Rela) were mobilised for the purpose.

In Penang, the media spokesman for the state election at the state police contingent headquarters, SAC W. Pusphanathan, said the voting process at the 334 polling centre in the state was reported to be going smoothly.

So far, the police have not received any reports regarding unwanted incidents and the traffic situation is also smooth with no congestion reported, he added. — Bernama

Source: malaymail.com

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original

https://www.malaymail.com/news/malaysia/2023/08/12/no-reports-on-3r-issues-during-state-elections-says-deputy-igp/84854

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Why the Singapore presidential election matters

 12 Aug 2023

SINGAPORE, Aug 12 — Ask Daniel Loke what he knows about the Singapore President’s role and powers, and the 24-year-old will readily admit that it is something that he knows “not much” about.

His understanding of the role, like that of many other youths and first-time voters, is limited to how he has seen the President being presented in the media.

“To me, it just seems like he’s there to sign off documents... and also as a diplomat, but it seems like the main guy doing all the work is the Prime Minister,” said Loke, a polytechnic graduate who now works in the aviation industry.

“It is always the Prime Minister who is doing all the speaking, so people don’t really get to see what the President does.”

When asked what the President’s constitutional powers are, Loke cited custodial powers such as a “check on the reserves” and the ability to “veto key appointments”, but was not clear on what these powers actually entailed.

“Every single time there’s a presidential election (PE), this same stuff comes up, (but) quite frankly, most of us don’t really realise that the President does all this,” he said.

Loke’s sentiments and knowledge of the President’s role are representative of many first-time PE voters in this year’s poll.

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong yesterday issued the Writ of Election and Singaporeans will go to the polls on Sept 1 to vote for the nation’s ninth President, should there be more than one eligible candidate.

Four men — former Senior Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam, businessman George Goh, former GIC chief investment officer Ng Kok Song and former NTUC Income chief executive Tan Kin Lian — have thrown their hats into the ring.

The last contested PE was held in 2011, which means that there will be a sizable number of first-time PE voters in the upcoming election, namely young people whose ages range from 21 to 33, as well as naturalised citizens.

TODAY’s interviews with 15 first-time PE voters found they have various levels of awareness about the Elected Presidency — from two who were not aware that a PE is imminent or unfamiliar with his role to a handful who were well-versed in the topic.

But most of those interviewed were like Loke, and have limited knowledge of or wish they know more about the President’s role.

A recent survey by CNA and TODAY conducted with 1,500 Singapore citizens aged 21 to 33 who are eligible to vote in a PE for the first time found that most of them understood the roles and functions of Singapore’s elected President, but were less clear about the head of state’s relationship with the Government.

Political analysts told TODAY that it is important for these voters to understand the President’s role and care about the presidential election, particularly as their size means they can have a significance on the outcome of the poll.

Responding to queries from TODAY, the Elections Department Singapore (ELD) said that about 6.6 per cent out of the 2,709,455 electors in the Registers of Electors were certified on July 20 as first-time voters in elections of any kind.

But this is only a portion of first-time PE voters, as the 6.6 per cent, or about 162,000 voters, covers only those who had not been eligible to vote in 2020’s General Election.

The figure does not include those who had voted in the previous two General Elections in 2015 and 2020 — but have never voted in a PE, which was last contested in 2011.

The last PE in 2017 was a walkover as Madam Halimah Yacob was the only candidate who qualified in the first poll to be reserved for a minority race, in this case, Malay candidates.

ELD said that it does not track first-time voters by the type of elections.

Associate professor of law from the Singapore Management University Eugene Tan thus estimated that the number of first-time PE voters for this year’s poll are in the region of “about 300,000 to 400,000”.

“In a close contest, (they) can make a world of difference,” he said.

While it may not be as crucial as the General Election in charting the path of Singapore’s future policies, the President still holds substantive powers of rejection against any misuse of the reserves, and abuse of key appointments in the Public Service, he added.

“Our voters must properly understand (the elected President’s) potential and its limits as a ‘speed bump’, but not guarantee, against the slide to misgovernance and profligacy.”

Experts also warned of the risk of these younger voters being misled by inaccurate information online as they try to glean more information about the candidates before they head to the polls.

Said political observer Inderjit Singh: “I think the new (PE) voters, especially the social media savvy (ones), could be swayed by populist manifestos of some candidates without having the opportunity to verify facts.”

The big picture

First-time PE voters tend to have a general lack of understanding of the elected President’s role and the significance of the presidential election due to several reasons, such as a changed socio-political landscape, said political analysts.

One is the emphasis on the President being a “check” on the Government of the day when it comes to how it spends the national reserves, said Dr Leong Chan-Hoong, the head of policy development, evaluation, and data analytics at global policy consulting firm Kantar Public.

He said the PE was instituted in 1991, with the President’s role designed “principally with safeguarding the national reserves in mind”.

“The constitutional change took place more than 30 years ago, under a different socio-political landscape.

Agreeing, Singh said that in PE2011, some candidates overemphasised the President’s role as a “check” on the Government of the day, to present a campaign which indicated that they planned to challenge and check on the Government in areas of policy.

“This did lead the less informed electorate to place the EP as one who can influence policy making,” said Singh, a former Member of Parliament from the People’s Action Party.

In a recent article published in IPS Commons, an Institute of Public Policy online platform, senior research fellow Gillian Koh and intern Sarah Lim also pointed out that the Elected Presidency is a uniquely Singaporean institution, with the President having custodial powers, and so might be harder to understand.

“It is an odd thing... to think of voting for the President when he or she has to spend most of his or her time being a unifying figure, representing our nation to us and those beyond our shores,” said Dr Koh in response to TODAY’s queries.

First-time PE voters agreed that they have had difficulties sifting through information on what the President’s role is all about.

Andrea, 21, said that getting information on the President’s role means poring over “a lot of content”.

“Politics seem to entail a lot of words and talking, and I’m more of a visual person,” said the polytechnic student, who did not wish to reveal her last name.

As she is still in school, she said that she does not feel the pressure of knowing more about the President’s role, as she believes that politics will matter more to her in future when she is working.

The bottomline

Given the need to increase awareness among the young on the institution of the elected presidency, analysts said that various parties, such as the Government, mainstream media, and the PE candidates themselves, can step up their respective efforts to help educate voters.

Singh said that the Government has at its disposal “many avenues” — such as grassroots organisations, the media and government agencies — that can play a significant role in better educating young voters.

The candidates themselves can also put out more content — both online and offline — to educate the young electorate on the significance of the position they are vying for.

“Candidates who paint a more accurate picture of what an elected President can or cannot do should also spend time sharing with voters what is the reality and counter other candidates who have a misguided view of the role of the President,” said Singh.

One 23-year-old student from the National University of Singapore, who wanted to be known only as Nicholas, said that he hopes that tertiary institutions can consider adding a module on Singapore politics.

He said that as of now, even a data science student like himself will have to take “core” modules in the arts involving literature, history and culture.

“Maybe institutions can just fit politics into the core modules that all students have to take,” he said. — TODAY

Source: malaymail.com

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original

https://www.malaymail.com/news/singapore/2023/08/12/why-the-singapore-presidential-election-matters/84819

-------

 

No reports on 3R issues during state elections, says deputy IGP

12 Aug 2023

KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 12 ? No reports regarding the 3R (Race, Royalty & Religion) issues were received in the six state elections, said Deputy Inspector-General of Police Datuk Seri Ayob Khan Mydin Pitchay.

He said most of the offences detected during the state elections were for mischief.

“They involved damage to posters, slander, flash mobs or gatherings held without a police permit. So far, the police have opened 131 investigation papers on various election offences in the six states and received 1,770 reports as of last night,” he told a special media conference after observing the situation at the polling centre at Sekolah Kebangsaan Klang Gate here today.

According to him, the voting process in all six states is under control with no untoward incidents reported so far.

He advised electors to go to the polls early because of the uncertain weather condition and to follow the instructions by police personnel on duty at the polling stations.

Ayob Khan Ayob Khan said a total of 35,000 police personnel were mobilised for the elections in the six states, with 5,226 of them in Selangor alone.

“Apart from that, we also mobilised the Op Cantas teams to the hotspot areas,” he added.

Meanwhile, the voting process, including in Selangor, Negeri Sembilan and Penang, is reported to be going smoothly with no untoward incidents reported so far.

Negeri Sembilan police chief Datuk Ahmad Dzaffir Mohd Yussof said a total of 4,333 police personnel were assigned to polling centres in the state to ensure security and the smoothness of the voting process.

For Selangor, state police chief Datuk Hussein Omar Khan said 15,000 police personnel, including from the Civil Defence Force (APM), and also members from the Malaysian Volunteers Corps Department (Rela) were mobilised for the purpose.

In Penang, the media spokesman for the state election at the state police contingent headquarters, SAC W. Pusphanathan, said the voting process at the 334 polling centre in the state was reported to be going smoothly.

So far, the police have not received any reports regarding unwanted incidents and the traffic situation is also smooth with no congestion reported, he added. — Bernama

Source: malaymail.com

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original

https://www.malaymail.com/news/malaysia/2023/08/12/no-reports-on-3r-issues-during-state-elections-says-deputy-igp/84854

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PN can retain Kedah, Kelantan and Terengganu, says Dr Mahathir

August 12, 2023

By M Hifzuddin Ikhsan

ALOR SETAR: Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad believed that Perikatan Nasional (PN) could retain the state governments in Kedah, Kelantan, and Terengganu.

The former prime minister also believed that PN could take over the state governments in Selangor and Negeri Sembilan.

He said the problem arises when candidates in the state elections are not allowed to talk about the 3R issues (religion, race, royalty).

He said the 'restriction' was unlawful since there was no law prohibiting people from discussing these issues.

"I believed PN would win again in Kedah... but the problem now is the restriction on discussing the 3R. There is no law that states one cannot talk about 3R.

"The people are suddenly told they cannot talk about their own issue. This is unfair.

"There are also threats that speaking up could supposedly lead to candidacy cancellation. These are threats, not a democratic approach," he said.

He said this when met after he cast his ballot paper for the Anak Bukit state seat at SK Titi Gajah in Kepala Batas, here today.

He said that the government had never previously imposed any restrictions, allowing people the freedom to voice any issues during the campaigning period.

"There is no longer freedom because we cannot mention the 3R. Why not? Is there a law?" he said.

However, Dr Mahathir asserted that should Pakatan Harapan (PH) face defeat in numerous constituencies, it might be interpreted as a sign of the public rejecting Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim's administration.

"I do not know whether this state election can change the federal government, but this would undoubtedly convey a message that the people are rejecting the PH-led government.

"If there is rejection at the state level, there is a possibility it might occur at the federal level.

"However, we must remember Umno won in Malacca and Johor previously but suffered a significant loss during the last general election.

"Thus, this cannot take this as an accurate indication," he added.

Source: nst.com.my

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original

https://www.nst.com.my/news/politics/2023/08/941918/pn-can-retain-kedah-kelantan-and-terengganu-says-dr-mahathir

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