New Age Islam
Thu Nov 26 2020, 06:13 PM

Islamic World News ( 22 Sept 2016, NewAgeIslam.Com)

Hezb-e-Islami Apologizes To Victims of Devastating Afghan Civil War

















Families of 9/11 victims have campaigned for the law - convinced that the Saudi government had a hand in the attacks that killed almost 3,000 people

 

Obama Set To Veto 9/11 Victims’ Bid to Sue S. Arabia

Erdoğan Urges Cooperation with US to ‘Finish Off ISIL’

India Urges SAARC States to Counter Cyber Tactics of Islamic State Militants

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South Asia

Hezb-e-Islami Apologizes To Victims of Devastating Afghan Civil War

Months after Dhaka Cafe Siege, Muslim Charity Buries Five Attackers

US-Backed Forces Control 70 Percent of Afghanistan, Military Chief Says

Bangladeshi held in Malaysia met suspect involved in Dhaka cafe attack

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North America

Obama Set To Veto 9/11 Victims’ Bid to Sue S. Arabia

US Police Surround Sikh Man As Callers Report 'Muslim with Sword' In Shopping Centre

U.S. Considering Arming Syrian Kurds to Halt Islamic State      

Why This Muslim American Civil Rights Lawyer Decided To Buy A Handgun

Donald Trump’s rhetoric energizes Muslim voters

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Mideast

Erdoğan Urges Cooperation with US to ‘Finish Off ISIL’

Turkey Kills 40 ISIL Militants in Syria After Rockets Hit Its Kilis

Court arrests journalist Ahmet Altan in coup attempt probe

Turkey calls on Obama to prevent Congress bill from becoming law

CHP to appeal to Turkey’s Constitutional Court over post-coup attempt decree laws

Turkey, Russia in deal over Syrian airspace

MHP office hangs humorous banner condemning violence against women after Istanbul bus attack

CHP to appeal to Turkey’s Constitutional Court over post-coup attempt decree laws

Jordan King warns Israel of “Sea of Hatred”

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India

India Urges SAARC States to Counter Cyber Tactics of Islamic State Militants

India Claims Diplomatic Win over Pakistan at UN

Muslim Body Condemns Uri Attack, Pakistan

Sketches of Uran suspects released, search on for ‘armed men’

Malegaon bomb blast case, Col. Purohit’s judgment postponed

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Arab World

Iraqi Forces Expel ISIS from Sharqat District

PYD/PKK Is Replacing İSİS in Northern Syria

Aleppo burns as incendiary bombs rain on rebel areas

ISIS approaches strategic Deir Ezzor Military Airport

Now is the time to plan for a post-Islamic state Mosul

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Pakistan

PTI Complains To ECP against PML-N ‘Militant Wing’

Pakistan, Iran Brother Islamic Countries: Raheela

Militant attacks from Afghanistan repulsed in Mohmand, Bajaur

FWO told to get its accounts audited by AGPR

Rights bodies challenge credibility of Israeli inquiries

Khurshid criticises Sharif’s address at UN

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Europe

Malcolm Turnbull Says Islamic State Can Be Defeated On the Battlefield

French Muslims see widening social divide in wake of terror attacks

Lebanon arrests suspected Islamic State commander

Hungarian PM Calls for Deportation Of Over A Million Migrants

Anti-Muslim 'bias' shown towards asylum seekers in Europe, study suggests

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Africa

Egypt's Grand Mufti Faces Hostile Reception in South Africa

Nigeria Requests UN Help in Talks with Boko Haram To Bring Back Chibok Girls

Al-Shabab attacks Kenya police post, 3 wounded, 2 missing

Burkina Faso a 'model of religious tolerance': Crisis Group

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Southeast Asia

Prayer Sessions at Schools Should Encourage Non-Muslims to Participate

Indonesia Intercepts Boat Carrying 30 Tons of Ammonium Nitrate

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau

URL: http://www.newageislam.com/islamic-world-news/new-age-islam-news-bureau/hezb-e-islami-apologizes-to-victims-of-devastating-afghan-civil-war/d/108650

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Hezb-e-Islami apologizes to victims of devastating Afghan civil war

Fri Sep 23 2016

The Hezb-e-Islami party led by Gulbuddin Hekmatyar has apologized to the victims of the devastating war the party was involved in 1990s, hours after the party signed the draft peace agreement with the Afghan government.

A senior member of the party Qarib-ur-Rehman Syed told VOA’s Afghanistan service that “Hezb-e-Islami considers itself a member and party of the people. Hezb-e-Islami belongs to the people and people belongs to Hezb-e-Islami. In every and every second, we apologize from those who were hurt.”

Syed further added “We have in the past tendered apologies to the people since this is our home, village and people.”

He said a special tribunal should be established to try those who have been involved in war crimes, including any member of Hezb-e-Islami.

The draft peace agreement with Hezb-e-Islami was signed during a ceremony in Kabul after almost six months of negotiations between the Afghan government and the party.

The agreement is expected to be signed by President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani and Hezb-e-Islami leader Gulbuddin Hekmatyar.

Source: khaama.com/hezb-e-islami-apologizes-to-victims-of-devastating-afghan-civil-war-01928

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Obama set to veto 9/11 victims’ bid to sue S. Arabia

23/09/2016

WASHINGTON: President Barack Obama is poised to veto legislation exposing Saudi Arabia to court action over the 9/11 attacks, stepping in to defend legal precedent and an awkward ally, but inviting election-time opprobrium.

White House officials say Obama will reject the “Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act” by a Friday veto deadline, after a little over a week of deliberation.

The administration is worried the bill — passed unanimously by Congress — would undermine state immunity, setting a dangerous legal precedent.

Obama’s aides tried and failed to have the legislation substantially revised, and now face the prospect of Republicans and Democrats joining forces to override the presidential veto, a relatively rare rebuke of White House power.

Families of 9/11 victims have campaigned for the law — convinced that the Saudi government had a hand in the attacks that killed almost 3,000 people.

Fifteen of the 19 hijackers were Saudi citizens, but no link to the government has been proven. The Saudi government denies any links to the plotters.

“Fifteen years is already far too long to be asked to wait for accountability for the deaths and injuries suffered in the 9/11 attacks,” said widow Terry Strada.

Strada gave birth days before her husband, Tom, a bond broker at Cantor Fitzgerald, was killed in World Trade Centre Tower One.

Behind the scenes, Riyadh has been lobbying furiously for the bill to be scrapped.

A senior Saudi Prince reportedly threatened to pull billions of dollars out of US assets if it becomes law, but Saudi officials now distance themselves from that claim.

The US-Saudi relationship had already been strained by Obama’s engagement with Saudi’s Shia foe Iran and the July release of a secret report on Saudi’s involvement in the attacks.

Declassified documents showed US intelligence had multiple suspicions about links between the Saudi government and the attackers.

“While in the United States, some of the 9/11 hijackers were in contact with, and received support or assistance from, individuals who may be connected to the Saudi government,” a finding read.

This would be the twelfth veto of Obama’s eight-year presidency and one of his most politically fraught.

Congressional insiders insist they have the votes needed to override, in what would be a significant blow for the White House in the final months of Obama’s presidency.

The White House is holding out vague hope that convoluted Congressional rules could delay the override until after the Nov 8 election, when the politics may be less toxic and minds may be changed.

Until then, Republicans will certainly use the veto to cast Obama as putting monarchs in Riyadh before US terror victims.

The Republican nominee, Donald Trump has already tried to paint Obama and his would-be successor Hillary Clinton as week on terrorism.

He has vowed to challenge Clinton in his home state of New York, where he lags by 17 points but where the 9/11 bill has become a major political issue and could have an impact on Congressional and state races.

Democrats have been quick to insulate themselves from criticism by backing the bill, not least cosponsor New York Democratic Senator Chuck Schumer.

Source: dawn.com/news/1285540/obama-set-to-veto-911-victims-bid-to-sue-s-arabia

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Erdoğan urges cooperation with US to ‘finish off ISIL’

SEP. 23, 2016

The U.S.-led coalition needs to make a better concerted effort to “finish off” the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said on Sept. 23.       

“We are calling for a no-fly zone, and they are having none of it. We are calling for steps for a land operation, and they are dragging their feet,” Erdoğan said.   

“To be successful, the cooperation between Turkey and the United States is crucial,” he said.      

“I told them many, many times: ‘Let’s join forces and we can finish off this Daesh [ISIL],’” he said.

Turkey launched a military operation, along with Free Syrian Army (FSA) fighters, late last month that has liberated Jarabuls and al-Rai in northern Syria.       

Erdoğan said the goal was to declare a safe zone that stretched 4,000-5,000 square kilometers (2,385-3,100 square miles). Ankara would then build settlements in the safe zone for Syrian refugees in Turkey to return to their country, or for those in Syria seeking to flee the ongoing bloodshed.       

The Turkish president also criticized the U.S. for choosing to cooperate with the Syrian Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD) and its armed wing, the People’s Protection Units (YPG).       

“You can’t finish off Daesh with the PYD/YPG, because they themselves are terrorists,” he said. “Can there be good and bad terrorists? All of them are terrorists and all of them are bad,” he added.       

Erdoğan said two aircraft belonging to the U.S. army airdropped weapons to the PYD last week.  

“I said to Mr. [U.S. Vice President Joe] Biden yesterday: ‘Are you aware of this?’ He said, ‘No.’ I said, ‘Well, I am.’”       

A similar scenario played out previously in which weapons carried on three aircraft were airdropped and “half of it went to Daesh and half of it to PYD,” according to Erdoğan.       

“This is the painful situation that’s unfolding at the moment. Therefore, we need to join forces with the U.S. in a healthy manner and overcome this trouble in this region,” he said. 

Erdoğan said he hoped the U.S. presidential election slated for Nov. 8 “would be conducive towards that.”       

The Turkish president also criticized Washington’s response to Turkey’s demands regarding the July 15 coup attempt.       

Fethullah Gülen, whose followers the government has blamed for initiating the coup, should have at least been detained, if not immediately extradited, as per bilateral agreements, Erdoğan said.       

Ankara sent 85 boxes of files regarding the culpability of Gülen and his followers in the coup, but “we still have not been able to explain this to our American friends,” he said.       

Erdoğan also slammed a U.S. congressional committee that invited an alleged member of the Gülen movement to speak about the coup attempt.       

“How in the world can you do something like this? They have lost their political will to a point where they are willing to listen to a coup plotter rather than a coup victim about the coup,” he said.      

“Can you possibly imagine listening to terrorists about a night when a coup was targeted at democracy?” Erdoğan asked.       

We expect sincerity and effort from the American administration,” he added.    

Erdoğan also called on representatives of Turkish NGOs he was addressing to “tell the truth everywhere, in every capacity.”       

“We need to convince the American public,” he said.       

Erdoğan, speaking at another NGO meeting later in the day, said the Gülen network was trying to get a foothold for itself in the U.S. by “indirectly transferring the money it got from the American [governmental] budget back to American politics.”       

“We are sure that American authorities are aware about how this crooked system works,” Erdoğan added.

Source: hurriyetdailynews.com/erdogan-urges-cooperation-with-us-to-finish-off-isil.aspx?pageID=238&nID=104181&NewsCatID=338

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India urges SAARC states to counter cyber tactics of Islamic State militants

September 23, 2016

India has appealed the SAARC countries to adopt strong methodologies to counter all cyber threats from the Islamic State militants.

“The terrorist organisations use easily accessible technology to attack both soft and hard targets. Self-radicalisation over internet and social media, and spread of influence of Islamic State all over, including in our country, has added new dimensions to the threat,” said Dineshwar Sharma, director of India’s Intelligence Bureau, on Thursday.

He said IB has identified countering financing of terrorism as one of the most important tools to fight the terror menace.

“Cyberspace has become an important area for radicalisation and spread of jihadi materials. Besides, the problem of fake currency feeds into supporting terrorism and can create economic destabilisation in our region,” he said.

He was speaking at the second meeting of the High Level Group of Eminent Experts to strengthen the SAARC Anti-Terrorism Mechanism.

Sharma called upon the eight member states to ratify and enable various conventions enacted by the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) grouping, including the Convention on Suppression of Terrorism and Additional Protocols and the Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters.

Sharma said terrorism has emerged as a big challenge for the entire world and no country today is in a position to tackle this problem on its own.

“Close cooperation and sharing of real-time intelligence are, therefore, imperative for all of us to secure our countries and our peoples,” he stressed.

He lamented that not much progress has taken place on the operationalisation of the SAARC Terrorist Offences Monitoring Desk and SAARC Drug Offences Monitoring Desk.

The First meeting of the Anti-Terrorism Mechanism of SAARC in 2012 had stressed upon the need for immediate operationalisation of the desks.

Meeting of a High Level Group of Eminent Experts to strengthen the SAARC Anti-Terrorism Mechanism was recommended by the SAARC Ministerial Declaration on Cooperation in Combating Terrorism (adopted by the 31st Meeting of SAARC Council of Ministers in Colombo, February 2009).

India had hosted its first meeting in New Delhi from 9-10 February 2012.

Hosting the meeting for the second time, it is in line with the high priority India attaches for regional cooperation in Anti-Terrorism activities and given that terrorism remains the single biggest threat to peace, stability and progress in the region and beyond.

The meeting provides a platform for discussing and identifying measures to tackle this menace threatening our societies.

Source: bdnews24.com/neighbours/2016/09/23/india-urges-saarc-states-to-counter-cyber-tactics-of-islamic-state-militants

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South Asia

Hezb-e-Islami apologizes to victims of devastating Afghan civil war

Fri Sep 23 2016

The Hezb-e-Islami party led by Gulbuddin Hekmatyar has apologized to the victims of the devastating war the party was involved in 1990s, hours after the party signed the draft peace agreement with the Afghan government.

A senior member of the party Qarib-ur-Rehman Syed told VOA’s Afghanistan service that “Hezb-e-Islami considers itself a member and party of the people. Hezb-e-Islami belongs to the people and people belongs to Hezb-e-Islami. In every and every second, we apologize from those who were hurt.”

Syed further added “We have in the past tendered apologies to the people since this is our home, village and people.”

He said a special tribunal should be established to try those who have been involved in war crimes, including any member of Hezb-e-Islami.

The draft peace agreement with Hezb-e-Islami was signed during a ceremony in Kabul after almost six months of negotiations between the Afghan government and the party.

The agreement is expected to be signed by President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani and Hezb-e-Islami leader Gulbuddin Hekmatyar.

Source: khaama.com/hezb-e-islami-apologizes-to-victims-of-devastating-afghan-civil-war-01928

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Months after Dhaka cafe siege, Muslim charity buries five attackers

Sep 22, 2016

A Bangladeshi charity on Thursday buried the five Islamist extremists behind July’s devastating attack on a Dhaka cafe after their families refused to take the bodies, police said.

The five shot and hacked to death 20 foreign hostages at the Holey Artisan Bakery on July 1 in Dhaka’s Gulshan neighbourhood - an attack claimed by the self-styled Islamic State group.

Military commandos brought the hostage crisis to a bloody end the next morning after they stormed the compound and gunned down the extremists.

The military handed over the bodies of the five attackers and their alleged associate to the police on Thursday after no relatives came to claim the bodies for nearly three months.

“We gave the six bodies to Dhaka Metropolitan Police. Since their death no one came to us to take the bodies,” military spokesperson Colonel Rashidul Hasan told AFP.

Dhaka police spokesperson Masudur Rahman said they handed over the bodies to the Anjuman-e-Mufidul Islam, a Muslim charity which collects and buries unidentified bodies according to their religious rites.

“They buried the bodies in a Dhaka graveyard,” he said. “How long can we keep the bodies in the mortuary?”

The father of one of the attackers said he had disowned his son after he learnt about the attack. He said he was too “ashamed” to be the father of an extremist.

Local media reported that other families were reluctant to take the bodies as they did not want to be seen as sympathic towards their children.

Since the attack Bangladeshi security forces have shot dead at least 28 suspected Islamist extremists in a massive crackdown.

Police have said a local Islamist extremist outfit, led by a Canadian citizen of Bangladesh origin, was responsible for the cafe carnage, rejecting IS’ claim that its fighters carried out the attack.

Source: hindustantimes.com/world-news/months-after-dhaka-cafe-assault-muslim-charity-buries-five-attackers/story-lyZexHAU9CQlJ1yDyECIHO.html

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US-backed forces control 70 percent of Afghanistan, military chief says

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Local security forces control 70 percent of Afghanistan, a senior U.S. military official said on Thursday, suggesting that the Taliban and other militants hold almost a third of that nation after 15 years of U.S. and NATO efforts to secure it.

Gen. Joseph Dunford Jr., chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told members of the Senate Armed Services Committee that Afghan security forces had taken more casualties "than we're comfortable with" and said they remained behind where what was required in a number of key areas, including air power, special operations and intelligence.

The U.S. military did not immediately provide figures for how many Afghan soldiers and police have died as they battle a still-powerful Taliban.

"On balance, I would call what is going on right now between the Afghan national defense security forces and the Taliban [as] roughly a stalemate," Dunford, who commanded U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan from 2013-2014, told lawmakers.

Dunford also said that Afghan security forces would likely be able to secure the country if they receive continued support from the United States and its partners. Even though its combat role is officially over, the U.S. military has repeatedly expanded its mission in Afghanistan to ensure that local forces can beat back militants.

The general's gloomy assessment comes as the Afghan government struggles to hold off a series of offensives from the Taliban. Earlier this month, militants entered the capital of Uruzgan province, southwest of Kabul, in a reminder of the group's power to overwhelm local forces even in urban areas. Roughly a year ago, the Taliban briefly took over another provincial capital in the country's north.

The group has shown itself to be a potent adversary amid Western nations' gradual military drawdown from Afghanistan, threatening key territory and raising questions about the country's long-term stability. The Afghan government is also struggling to contain the sudden growth of a local Islamic State affiliate and face off against a small, but resilient al-Qaeda presence.

Bruce Riedel, a former senior CIA and White House official, said that admission that the Taliban may control 30 percent of the country was "startling."

Even if that figure is what Riedel called "the upper limit" of any credible estimate of the government's grip, he described it as a "pretty significant indication of how big a challenge we're facing."

In a reminder of the still-unsettled situation there, the Afghan government on Thursday signed a deal with a political party whose leader is blamed for much of the violence that destroyed much of the Afghan capital in the 1990s.

Source:cortezjournal.com/article/20160922/AP/309229757/USbackedforcescontrol70percentofAfghanistanmilitarychiefsays

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Bangladeshi held in Malaysia met suspect involved in Dhaka cafe attack

September 23, 2016

A Bangladeshi man, who was arrested by the Malaysian police for terror links reportedly met a suspect involved in the Dhaka café attack that killed 22 people two months ago.

Reports said the 37-year-old businessman met Andaleeb Ahmed, the terrorist who was involved in the attack on Holey Artisan Bakery Cafe in July, at his own restaurant in Bukit Bintang. Andaleeb was linked to Monash University in Malaysia.

"The authorities believe that the suspect was planning attacks in his home country. He even had regular meetings with many of his countrymen," a source told The Straits Times.

According to the source, the suspect was also responsible for smuggling AK-47 rifles into Bangladesh.

Khalid Abu Bakar, the Inspector-General of Police, said the businessman was among four men who were arrested by the Bukit Aman Special Branch Counter Terrorism Division for suspected links to terrorism between Aug 2 and Sept 17.

"The (Bangladeshi) suspect was arrested on Aug 19. He was placed in Interpol's Red Notice and was deported on Sept 2," Khalid said.

Along with the Bangladeshi suspect, the three other detainees included a 38-year-old Nepalese businessman, a 26-year-old Moroccan man and a 34-year-old Malaysian man.

"The Nepalese was arrested on Aug 19 and deported on Sept 2. We discovered that he ran entertainment outlets and a hotel," the police chief said.

"We believe he was responsible for falsifying documents to facilitate the travel of terrorists," he added.

Those false documents were used by members of international terror groups. The suspect apparently charged between RM 250 and RM 1,300 (S$82 - S$428) for his services in arranging the travels of Nepalese citizens to return to their home country.

The third suspect is a Moroccan welder, who was earlier detained by the Turkish government for his attempt to smuggle into Syria. The police suspect the Moroccan man to be a member of the Islamic State.

"After his release, he managed to find his way into Malaysia in May," Khalid added.

Regarding the fourth suspect, the IGP said that he was a Malaysian man. He worked as a driver for a businessman and had links with militant Mohamad Wanndy Mohamad Jedi.

"We believe he has been promoting IS propaganda and ideologies through his Facebook account," he said, referring to the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS).

Since February 2013, a total of about 240 militants has been arrested by the Malaysian authorities.

Source: ibtimes.sg/bangladeshi-held-malaysia-met-suspect-involved-dhaka-cafe-attack-3457

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North America

Obama set to veto 9/11 victims’ bid to sue S. Arabia

23/09/2016

WASHINGTON: President Barack Obama is poised to veto legislation exposing Saudi Arabia to court action over the 9/11 attacks, stepping in to defend legal precedent and an awkward ally, but inviting election-time opprobrium.

White House officials say Obama will reject the “Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act” by a Friday veto deadline, after a little over a week of deliberation.

The administration is worried the bill — passed unanimously by Congress — would undermine state immunity, setting a dangerous legal precedent.

Obama’s aides tried and failed to have the legislation substantially revised, and now face the prospect of Republicans and Democrats joining forces to override the presidential veto, a relatively rare rebuke of White House power.

Families of 9/11 victims have campaigned for the law — convinced that the Saudi government had a hand in the attacks that killed almost 3,000 people.

Fifteen of the 19 hijackers were Saudi citizens, but no link to the government has been proven. The Saudi government denies any links to the plotters.

“Fifteen years is already far too long to be asked to wait for accountability for the deaths and injuries suffered in the 9/11 attacks,” said widow Terry Strada.

Strada gave birth days before her husband, Tom, a bond broker at Cantor Fitzgerald, was killed in World Trade Centre Tower One.

Behind the scenes, Riyadh has been lobbying furiously for the bill to be scrapped.

A senior Saudi Prince reportedly threatened to pull billions of dollars out of US assets if it becomes law, but Saudi officials now distance themselves from that claim.

The US-Saudi relationship had already been strained by Obama’s engagement with Saudi’s Shia foe Iran and the July release of a secret report on Saudi’s involvement in the attacks.

Declassified documents showed US intelligence had multiple suspicions about links between the Saudi government and the attackers.

“While in the United States, some of the 9/11 hijackers were in contact with, and received support or assistance from, individuals who may be connected to the Saudi government,” a finding read.

This would be the twelfth veto of Obama’s eight-year presidency and one of his most politically fraught.

Congressional insiders insist they have the votes needed to override, in what would be a significant blow for the White House in the final months of Obama’s presidency.

The White House is holding out vague hope that convoluted Congressional rules could delay the override until after the Nov 8 election, when the politics may be less toxic and minds may be changed.

Until then, Republicans will certainly use the veto to cast Obama as putting monarchs in Riyadh before US terror victims.

The Republican nominee, Donald Trump has already tried to paint Obama and his would-be successor Hillary Clinton as week on terrorism.

He has vowed to challenge Clinton in his home state of New York, where he lags by 17 points but where the 9/11 bill has become a major political issue and could have an impact on Congressional and state races.

Democrats have been quick to insulate themselves from criticism by backing the bill, not least cosponsor New York Democratic Senator Chuck Schumer.

Source: dawn.com/news/1285540/obama-set-to-veto-911-victims-bid-to-sue-s-arabia

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US police surround Sikh man as callers report 'Muslim with sword' in shopping centre

Sep 22, 2016

In a case of alleged racial profiling in the US, police surrounded a Sikh man carrying a kirpan after getting calls about an apparent Muslim walking around a shopping centre with a 'large knife' or 'sword'. Harpreet Singh Khalsa, 33, said he was the victim of racial profiling in Northampton County, Pennsylvania, but police stated that those who called in their concerns did the right thing.

Police in Bethlehem Township, Northampton County, received multiple calls about an apparent 'Muslim man' walking around the Bethlehem Square Shopping Center with a "large knife" or "sword". Multiple officers responded to find Khalsa sitting inside a van parked in the fire lane.

"The cops surrounded me and told me to put my hands on my head," Khalsa was quoted as saying by WFMZ-TV.

Khalsa, visiting from Maryland, was not carrying a large knife or sword. He was wearing a kirpan -- one of the five articles of the Sikh faith. Khalsa said he was scared having so many officers around him.

"Embarrassed, humiliated, ashamed, for even bothering to come to Bethlehem," Khalsa said.

Given recent attacks in New York and Minnesota, officers said people are on higher alert. "People are a little sensitive to things that are unusual," said Captain Greg Gottschall, Bethlehem Township Police Department.

"They did the right thing. They called for us to come and check it out," he was quoted as saying.

However, Khalsa said he was racially profiled and misunderstood.

"To have a caller in the first place is pointing to racism, clearly racism," Khalsa said, adding that it was "fear-driven racism".

Khalsa was not charged, and his kirpan was returned to him. But the Sikh man said he does not plan to come back to the Lehigh Valley and called the way he was treated "un-American".

Source: deccanchronicle.com/world/america/220916/us-police-surround-sikh-man-as-callers-report-muslim-with-sword-in-shopping-centre.html

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U.S. considering arming Syrian Kurds to halt Islamic State       

Sept. 22, 2016

The Obama administration is considering a plan to arm Syrian Kurds, seen here in 2013, to fight the Islamic State militant group. Photo by fpolat69/Shutterstock.com

WASHINGTON, Sept. 22 (UPI) -- Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said a potential Obama administration plan to arm Syrian Kurds in the fight against the Islamic State militant group would further breakdown relations between the two countries.

Yildirim, speaking to reporters Thursday, said Turkey and the United States are not in agreement about the status of the Kurdish Democratic Union Party, People's Protection Units and others, collectively known as the Syrian Democratic Front. Turkey considers them to be terrorist organizations and objects to Washington's relationship with the groups.

The New York Times reported the plan, being discussed by National Security Council staff, is being viewed as a way to speed up the fight against the IS, also identified as ISIS, ISIL and Daesh. President Barack Obama told aides he wants an offensive underway before he leaves office in early 2017 with an aim at liberating Raqqa, the militant group's self-proclaimed capital, a defense source told the Times.

It would be a significant shift in U.S. policy and could cause further tensions with Turkey, the United States' NATO ally in the conflict. Turkey considers the Kurdish Democratic Union Party, People's Protection Units and others, collectively known as the Syrian Democratic Front, to be terrorist organizations and objects to Washington's relationship with the groups.

"Either the [Syrian Kurdish Democratic Union Party] or [People's Protection Units], we identify them as the offshoot of the [ Kurdistan Workers' Party]. They have nothing to do with our Kurdish brothers. Our Kurdish brothers are living in Syria. We have [Kurdish-origin] citizens in Turkey, too, and there are Kurds in Iraq. Our country and nation has no problem with them," Yildirim said.

"However, one should not fight against a terrorist organization using another terrorist organization."

In the past years, the United States has provided small arms and munitions to the Syrian Arabs, a Kurdish minority group acceptable to Turkey. The United States has also made some 350 supply drops to the Syrian Arab group.

Khaled Issa, Syrian Kurdish Democratic Union Party representative in France, told ARA News further U.S. intervention could be helpful.

"Everyone knows ISIS is supported through Turkey, so the U.S. needs to support us to shut the Turkish border in the face of terrorists, and to liberate the Shahba area [northern Aleppo] to cut the border," he said.

The proposal has not yet been officially presented for any decision, the Times reported. The White House declined to comment.

Source: upi.com/Top_News/World-News/2016/09/22/US-considering-arming-Syrian-Kurds-to-halt-Islamic-State/3011474548796/

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Why This Muslim American Civil Rights Lawyer Decided To Buy A Handgun

23/09/2016

Hassan Shibly is an armed American Muslim. 

The 29-year-old Muslim civil rights attorney, sporting a kufi cap and a long beard, is sitting at his desk inside the Tampa, Florida, office of the Council on American-Islamic Relations.

“You can be working, and if there’s any sort of threat...” Shibly pauses before swiveling in his office chair and revealing a Sig Sauer P238. “Within a second, it’s there.”

“And we hope we never, ever, ever, ever need it,” he says.

Shibly already had two rifles, but bought the handgun in July at the urging of some law enforcement friends worried about his safety.

“Unfortunately, and very reluctantly, this past year, especially with the dramatic increase in anti-Muslim hate crimes that’s followed Donald Trump’s rhetoric that demonizes the American Muslim community, I felt it necessary for my own safety and the safety of my loved ones to start carrying a weapon at all times when possible,” he explains.

Shibly says CAIR-Florida has seen a 500 percent increase in the number of anti-Muslim incidents and hate crimes across the state over the last year. The hate has reached CAIR’s front doorstep, too.

“We’ve had a couple incidents where we’ve actually had to call the police to remove trespassers or remove people who potentially pose a threat to the office,” he says. “Not long ago, somebody actually even lit a Quran on fire and threw it at our old office, which potentially could have set the whole building on fire.”

Recently, the organization had to report Twitter threats against its office to federal law enforcement.

And a few miles away from CAIR’s office in Tampa, five mosques caught on fire during a three-week span from July to August. Authorities later determined that two of the fires were caused by arson.

Shibly also says a horrifying voicemail left at the Islamic Center of St. Petersburg in December motivated him to buy a weapon. A man identifying himself as Martin Schnitzler said he was “going to personally have a militia… come down to... firebomb [the mosque and] shoot whoever is there.”

There have been numerous other examples of anti-Muslim hate crimes and hate speech in Florida this year.

According to The Huffington Post’s Islamophobia tracker, someone put up a billboard reading “ISLAM BLOODY ISLAM: DOOMED BY ITS DOCTRINE.” a newspaper published a hate letter calling the Quran “a plan for complete world domination,” and an 11-year-old Muslim girl was heckled during a speech on Islamophobia. A man had his five dogs attack and kill a poodle because he thought the poodle’s owner is a “terrorist prick,” and a man told a Muslim shop owner that if he didn’t close his business, “four men will show up and kill everyone inside your store.”

Full report at:huffingtonpost.in/entry/muslim-gun-owner-hassan-shibly-islamophobia_us_57e2bfa4e4b08d73b82eefd2

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Donald Trump’s rhetoric energizes Muslim voters

SEPTEMBER 23, 2016

In a different election year, Bilal Durrani, a busy electrical engineering student at the Wentworth Institute of Technology, might have ignored the background noise of a presidential campaign.

But when Durrani saw a voter registration table at the Islamic Society of Boston Cultural Center in Roxbury earlier this year, he stopped and did the paperwork.

“After hearing what Donald Trump’s had to say,” he said, “it’s become an obligation to vote.”

Although Trump’s harsh rhetoric regarding Muslims has proved to be hugely popular with his supporters, it is also uniting and galvanizing Muslim voters, spurring unprecedented voter registration drives and get-out-the-vote efforts in their communities, including mosques in Boston, Lawrence, and Sharon.

And those initiatives are targeting potential swing states, such as Florida, Michigan, North Carolina, and Virginia.

A new poll found that Hillary Clinton’s stumble didn’t have quite the impact that Donald Trump and his supporters wanted.

“Sometimes, you need a catastrophe or a threat to bring people together,” said Hazem Bata, secretary general of the Islamic Society of North America, whose 53rd annual convention in Chicago over Labor Day weekend offered prime booth space to four organizations helping attendees register people to vote. “Donald Trump is our catastrophe.”

Hillary Clinton’s campaign has a Muslim outreach director and is helping to organize Muslim-American phone banks and surrogate events in battleground states.

The Trump campaign did not respond to requests for comment.

A surge in Muslim electoral participation could have consequences beyond the presidential race, helping Democrats in down-ballot races and perhaps creating a more cohesive voting bloc in future presidential contests. The country’s Muslim population is expected to more than double by 2050, to about 8.1 million, or 2 percent of the total population, according to the Pew Research Center. And Muslims tend to be younger than the general public, according to Pew.

Full report at:bostonglobe.com/metro/2016/09/23/trump-rhetoric-energizes-muslim-voters/UXCZnqgJo1bdjI8SIhUliI/story.html

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Mideast

Erdoğan urges cooperation with US to ‘finish off ISIL’

SEP. 23, 2016

The U.S.-led coalition needs to make a better concerted effort to “finish off” the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said on Sept. 23.       

“We are calling for a no-fly zone, and they are having none of it. We are calling for steps for a land operation, and they are dragging their feet,” Erdoğan said.   

“To be successful, the cooperation between Turkey and the United States is crucial,” he said.      

“I told them many, many times: ‘Let’s join forces and we can finish off this Daesh [ISIL],’” he said.

Turkey launched a military operation, along with Free Syrian Army (FSA) fighters, late last month that has liberated Jarabuls and al-Rai in northern Syria.       

Erdoğan said the goal was to declare a safe zone that stretched 4,000-5,000 square kilometers (2,385-3,100 square miles). Ankara would then build settlements in the safe zone for Syrian refugees in Turkey to return to their country, or for those in Syria seeking to flee the ongoing bloodshed.       

The Turkish president also criticized the U.S. for choosing to cooperate with the Syrian Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD) and its armed wing, the People’s Protection Units (YPG).       

“You can’t finish off Daesh with the PYD/YPG, because they themselves are terrorists,” he said. “Can there be good and bad terrorists? All of them are terrorists and all of them are bad,” he added.       

Erdoğan said two aircraft belonging to the U.S. army airdropped weapons to the PYD last week.  

“I said to Mr. [U.S. Vice President Joe] Biden yesterday: ‘Are you aware of this?’ He said, ‘No.’ I said, ‘Well, I am.’”       

A similar scenario played out previously in which weapons carried on three aircraft were airdropped and “half of it went to Daesh and half of it to PYD,” according to Erdoğan.       

“This is the painful situation that’s unfolding at the moment. Therefore, we need to join forces with the U.S. in a healthy manner and overcome this trouble in this region,” he said. 

Erdoğan said he hoped the U.S. presidential election slated for Nov. 8 “would be conducive towards that.”       

The Turkish president also criticized Washington’s response to Turkey’s demands regarding the July 15 coup attempt.       

Fethullah Gülen, whose followers the government has blamed for initiating the coup, should have at least been detained, if not immediately extradited, as per bilateral agreements, Erdoğan said.       

Ankara sent 85 boxes of files regarding the culpability of Gülen and his followers in the coup, but “we still have not been able to explain this to our American friends,” he said.       

Erdoğan also slammed a U.S. congressional committee that invited an alleged member of the Gülen movement to speak about the coup attempt.       

“How in the world can you do something like this? They have lost their political will to a point where they are willing to listen to a coup plotter rather than a coup victim about the coup,” he said.      

“Can you possibly imagine listening to terrorists about a night when a coup was targeted at democracy?” Erdoğan asked.       

We expect sincerity and effort from the American administration,” he added.    

Erdoğan also called on representatives of Turkish NGOs he was addressing to “tell the truth everywhere, in every capacity.”       

“We need to convince the American public,” he said.       

Erdoğan, speaking at another NGO meeting later in the day, said the Gülen network was trying to get a foothold for itself in the U.S. by “indirectly transferring the money it got from the American [governmental] budget back to American politics.”       

“We are sure that American authorities are aware about how this crooked system works,” Erdoğan added.

Full report at:hurriyetdailynews.com/erdogan-urges-cooperation-with-us-to-finish-off-isil.aspx?pageID=238&nID=104181&NewsCatID=338

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Turkey kills 40 ISIL militants in Syria after rockets hit its Kilis

SEP. 23, 2016

Turkish soldiers killed 40 Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) militants in air strikes on the jihadists' positions in neighboring Syria, the military said in a statement on Sept. 22, hours after rockets from the ISIL-controlled spots hit Turkey's Kilis.

The positions where the ISIL fire came from was hit both in 20 air strikes and from the ground with rockets and howitzers, the military said in a written statement.

The ISIL pits in Syria's Tungali and its surrounding were marked via Antpq-36 radars, it said.

According to the statement, the air strikes targeted ISIL elements in Bahvurtah, Tall Ar, Kadriş, Al Athariyah, Cakka and İdalat regions on the southwest of al Bab.

One gun position, two buildings and one hand-made explosive belonging to the jihadist group were also destroyed in the air strikes, the military said on the 30th day of the operation.

It also added that Turkish artillery units fired 474 shots along with another 99 multiple rocket launcher fire to ISIL targets.

In addition, Turkish warplanes also conducted air strikes against five ISIL targets in Şuvayrin, Al Athariyah ve Tall Ar, destroying five buildings belonging to ISIL militants.

The military also announced that eight civilians, including six children, were wounded in two separate rocket attacks targeting the border province of Kilis on Sept. 22.

The first rocket hit a bazaar area in the Canpolat Paşa neighborhood in the afternoon hours, wounding five children and an adult, Kilis Governor İsmail Çataklı has stated.

The wounded were transferred to Kilis State Hospital and were in stable condition, the governor added.

The second attack came a few hours later, wounding another two.

The first rocket attack caused material damage to a three-story building and a store in the neighborhood.

Meanwhile, six Free Syrian Army (FSA) fighters were also injured in an ISIL car bomb attack in the Şamarik neighborhood, according to the statement.

Full report at:hurriyetdailynews.com/turkey-kills-40-isil-militants-in-syria-after-rockets-hit-its-kilis.aspx?pageID=238&nID=104177&NewsCatID=352

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Court arrests journalist Ahmet Altan in coup attempt probe

SEP. 23, 2016

An Istanbul court ordered the arrest of prominent journalist Ahmet Altan on Sept. 23, after the former daily Taraf editor-in-chief was detained by police for a second time.

Altan was initially freed before dawn on Sept. 22 while the Istanbul court arrested his academic brother, Professor Mehmet Altan.

But the journalist was detained again after an arrest warrant was issued late on Sept. 22 on charges concerning his seat as editor-in-chief at daily Taraf. Altan was arrested on charges of attempting to stage a coup and being a member of the outlawed Fethullahist Terror Organization (FETÖ), said to be behind Turkey's failed coup attempt of July 15.

Hours earlier his arrest, the court placed Mehmet Altan under arrest on charges of “attempting to remove the government or attempting to obstruct its work.”

He was also charged with “being a member of a terrorist organization,” referring to the movement of U.S.-based Islamic preacher Fethullah Gülen, who is accused of masterminding the failed coup attempt.

The Altan brothers were first detained on Sept. 10 and were two of the most high-profile figures detained after the coup attempt on July 15. 

Their case sparked an international campaign for their release with famous writers criticizing the government.

Altan now faces the same accusations in the warrant issued prior to his detention.

His brief freedom came after almost 12 hours in court in a marathon overnight hearing.

The pair were detained over comments in a talk show on the Can Erzincan TV channel on July 14, the eve of the coup which contained “subliminal” messages that the coup was imminent.

The broadcaster, seen by the authorities as pro-Gülen, has since been shut down.

Full report at:hurriyetdailynews.com/court-arrests-journalist-ahmet-altan-in-coup-attempt-probe.aspx?pageID=238&nID=104179&NewsCatID=509

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Turkey calls on Obama to prevent Congress bill from becoming law

SEP. 23, 2016

The Turkish Foreign Ministry called on Sept. 23 for U.S. President Barack Obama to prevent the “Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act” from becoming law, saying it contradicts international law and the principles of the U.N. Charter, particularly regarding the sovereignty and equality of states.

The bill, which has passed the U.S. Congress, is “not only incompliant with the law but is also the product of a distorted approach that could hamper international cooperation against terrorism,” read the statement.

The bill aims to narrow the scope of the legal doctrine of foreign sovereign immunity and passed the Senate with no opposition in May 2016 before unanimously passing the House of Representatives in September 2016. While it does not mention the 9/11 attacks or the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the practical effect of the bill will be to allow a longstanding federal civil lawsuit against Saudi Arabia by the victims, families, and other interests that were injured or damaged in those attacks to proceed.

The Turkish Foreign Ministry stressed that Ankara continues to stand with the victims of terrorism and firmly argues that terrorism in all its forms and manifestations should be countered “without double standards and discrimination.”

“In this context, Turkey calls upon the President of the United States to prevent the bill from becoming law and invites all its allies and partners to take insightful and useful steps with a view to enhancing international cooperation and solidarity,” said the statement.

In its capacity as the Chair of the Summit of the Organization of Islamic States (OIC), the Foreign Ministry particularly drew attention to the OIC on this matter.

Full report at:hurriyetdailynews.com/turkey-calls-on-obama-to-prevent-congress-bill-from-becoming-law.aspx?pageID=238&nID=104182&NewsCatID=510

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CHP to appeal to Turkey’s Constitutional Court over post-coup attempt decree laws

SEP. 23, 2016

The main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) will appeal to the Constitutional Court for the annulment of all decree laws issued under Turkey’s ongoing state of emergency, imposed after the failed coup attempt of July 15.

CHP Deputy Chair Levent Gök will submit the appeal to the Constitutional Court on Sept. 23.

The appeal states that the decree laws issued during the state of emergency, which was announced on July 22, deviate from their aim and amount to the executive branch illegitimately practicing the power of the legislative branch.

The basis of the appeal rests on two rulings by the Constitutional Court in 1991 and 2003. Those rulings state that if the decree laws issued under a state of emergency are irrelevant to the necessities of the state of emergency, they cannot be counted as legitimate decree laws and could be taken to the Constitutional Court for annulment. Those decree laws are valid only during the period of the state of emergency and are abolished after the state of emergency is ended.

The CHP argues that the government is exploiting the state of emergency decree laws, although these laws should be exceptional because Article 120 of the Turkish Constitution says decree laws can only be issued if required. The CHP stresses in its appeal that state of emergency practices aim to defeat an immediate threat for swift return to the regular order, and warns that Turkey may have to pay huge fines if citizens choose to apply to the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) over the decree laws.

According to the CHP’s appeal, decree laws issued during state of emergencies should be submitted to parliament and be discussed within 30 days, according to Articles of 91/7 and 121 of the constitution, but this procedure has not been fulfilled as parliament is currently closed. As the decree laws have not been discussed at parliament, they are outside the supervision of the Constitutional Court, the CHP states.

Decree laws are abused as arbitrary methods are ignore human rights, it adds.

Full report at:hurriyetdailynews.com/chp-to-appeal-to-turkeys-constitutional-court-over-post-coup-attempt-decree-laws.aspx?pageID=238&nID=104176&NewsCatID=338

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Turkey, Russia in deal over Syrian airspace

SEP. 23, 2016

Turkey and Russia have been discussing the creation of a protocol to coordinate the flights of their warplanes over Syrian airspace in a bid to prevent unwanted incidents like the downing of a Russian jet by Turkish Air Forces on Nov. 24, 2015, a senior Turkish military source has said.

While drafting the protocol, the two sides also agreed on a “gentleman’s agreement” to prevent the two sides’ warplanes from entering into areas where the other side is conducting military operations.

The decision to work to coordinate military flights over Syria was taken during a meeting of the respective Russian and Turkish chiefs of General Staff, Gen. Valery Gerasimov and Gen. Hulusi Akar, on Sept. 15 in Ankara.

The two top soldiers approved the establishment of a hotline between the two air forces in a bid to prevent accidents or unwanted incidents.

“Work to accomplish the protocol continues at the highest level,” the senior military source told daily Hürriyet on the condition of anonymity on Sept. 22. If signed, the protocol will mark an important step in developing the military-to-military relationship and coordination between Turkey and Russia in the Syrian theater.

The need to make a protocol to coordinate flights in Syria with Russia became urgent after the Turkish army launched a massive cross-border operation into its southern neighbor on Aug. 24 in a bid to remove the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) from its border. 

“We have carried out 97 sorties against ISIL positions as part of the Operation Euphrates Shield,” the source said.

Gentleman’s agreement in place

According to the military source, while talks continue for an official protocol, the two sides have agreed verbally on what the source called a “gentleman’s agreement.” Accordingly, the Turkish military has provided the Russian side the coordinates of the areas in which it operates and its warplanes fly over. In return, Russian warplanes will work to steer clear of these areas.

“As Turkey, we know which areas we will conduct air operations over. Our warplanes scramble when there is a need to support the Free Syrian Army (FSA) on the ground,” the source said. “Our communication with Russia functions perfectly.”

Russia careful, too

According to the same source, the Russian side is also acting very carefully to avoid violating Turkish airspace and regularly providing information about its flights near Turkey, particularly Hatay province.

The closest flight of Russian warplanes to Turkish airspace was four kilometers around Hatay province, the source said, adding that the Turkish military had already been informed about the incident.

Turkish warplanes downed a Russian warplane on Nov. 24, 2015, due to an alleged airspace violation which caused a severe diplomatic crisis between the two countries. A normalization process was started after Turkey expressed regret over the incident.

Source: hurriyetdailynews.com/turkey-russia-in-deal-over-syrian-airspace.aspx?pageID=238&nID=104173&NewsCatID=352

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MHP office hangs humorous banner condemning violence against women after Istanbul bus attack

SEP. 23, 2016

The district headquarters of the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) in the Bodrum district of the western province of Muğla has hung a banner condemning the recent assault on a woman on a public bus in Istanbul for wearing shorts, saying “only a baby in her womb has the right to kick a woman.”

“No to violence against woman. Only a baby in her womb has the right to kick a woman,” read the banner put up by MHP Bodrum district head Cengizhan Sancar.

“Woman and children are our blessed ones. We are against all kinds of attacks based on a citizen’s way of dressing and actions. Everyone should respect each other, their lives and appearances. If they do not, these kinds of acts could be committed against women wearing headscarves in the future,” said Sancar.

“The actions will only serve to increase polarization among our citizens. Regarding any acts against women we witness it should be us men who intervene,” he added.

Outrage was stirred in Turkey after a 23-year-old nurse was kicked in the face on a bus in Istanbul by a man who said he was angry that she was wearing shorts on Sept. 12.

The assailant, Abdullah Çakıroğlu, was arrested by police on Sept. 19 after being released following his initial detention over the attack.

Source: hurriyetdailynews.com/mhp-office-hangs-humorous-banner-condemning-violence-against-women-after-istanbul-bus-attack.aspx?pageID=238&nID=104187&NewsCatID=341

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CHP to appeal to Turkey’s Constitutional Court over post-coup attempt decree laws

SEP. 23, 2016

The main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) will appeal to the Constitutional Court for the annulment of all decree laws issued under Turkey’s ongoing state of emergency, imposed after the failed coup attempt of July 15.

CHP Deputy Chair Levent Gök will submit the appeal to the Constitutional Court on Sept. 23.

The appeal states that the decree laws issued during the state of emergency, which was announced on July 22, deviate from their aim and amount to the executive branch illegitimately practicing the power of the legislative branch.

The basis of the appeal rests on two rulings by the Constitutional Court in 1991 and 2003. Those rulings state that if the decree laws issued under a state of emergency are irrelevant to the necessities of the state of emergency, they cannot be counted as legitimate decree laws and could be taken to the Constitutional Court for annulment. Those decree laws are valid only during the period of the state of emergency and are abolished after the state of emergency is ended.

The CHP argues that the government is exploiting the state of emergency decree laws, although these laws should be exceptional because Article 120 of the Turkish Constitution says decree laws can only be issued if required. The CHP stresses in its appeal that state of emergency practices aim to defeat an immediate threat for swift return to the regular order, and warns that Turkey may have to pay huge fines if citizens choose to apply to the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) over the decree laws.

According to the CHP’s appeal, decree laws issued during state of emergencies should be submitted to parliament and be discussed within 30 days, according to Articles of 91/7 and 121 of the constitution, but this procedure has not been fulfilled as parliament is currently closed. As the decree laws have not been discussed at parliament, they are outside the supervision of the Constitutional Court, the CHP states.

Decree laws are abused as arbitrary methods are ignore human rights, it adds.

Source: hurriyetdailynews.com/chp-to-appeal-to-turkeys-constitutional-court-over-post-coup-attempt-decree-laws.aspx?pageID=238&nID=104176&NewsCatID=338

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Jordan King warns Israel of “Sea of Hatred”

SEPTEMBER 22, 2016

Jordan’s King Abdullah II warned Israel that it’s continued policies of violence against Palestinian civilians in the Israeli occupied West Bank and in the Israeli embargoed Gaza Strip will fuel a “Sea of Hate” during a speech before the United Nations General Assembly on Sept. 20, 2016.

Click here to view King Abdullah’s speech.

Click here to view and read Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’ speech to the UN General Assembly on Sept. 22, 2016.

ABDULLAH II IBN AL HUSSEIN, King of Jordan, recalled that his country’s national parliamentary elections were presently taking place, adding that they represented yet another step in Jordan’s positive, evolutionary path.  As the world gathered together at the General Assembly, a network of extremist terrorists was working to stack the odds against the core values that bound the worlds’ common humanity.  The question confronting the international community was what its legacy would be, and whether it would pass on to its children a world dominated by dread and division.  After several years facing the global war on terror, he was struck by the lack of understanding of the true nature of Islam found among many Western officials, think tanks, media leaders and policymakers.  “False perceptions of Islam and of Muslims will fuel the terrorists’ agenda of a global struggle by polarizing and factionalizing societies, East and West” and driving themselves deeper into mistrust and intolerance, he stated.

In that regard, when the outlaws of Islam — the “khawarej” — murdered, plundered, exploited children and rejected the equality of women before God, they abused Islam, he said.  Islam taught that all humanity was equal in dignity and that there was no distinction between different nations, regions or races.  The khawarej deliberately hid such truths in order to drive Muslims and non-Muslims apart.  “We cannot allow this to happen,” he warned.  The radical outlaw groups did not exist on the fringes of Islam, but outside it altogether.  A new mind set, new partnerships and reformed methodologies would be needed to confront such a non-traditional enemy.  For Muslims it was, first and foremost, a fight for their future.

The international community also faced a fight for its future, he continued.  The war would not be fought on the battlefield alone, but everywhere humans lived and interacted.  Security cooperation was imperative, but equally important was a holistic approach.  New channels between continents and nations, within countries and among people needed to be opened.  That meant reforming the way people communicated, shared information and used technologies.  “Ours is a global fight,” he said, emphasizing that the focus must not stop with the Middle East, but reach far beyond, in West and East Africa, South-East Asia and the Balkans.  In Syria, a military approach would leave no winners, only losers on every side, along with further civilian suffering.  An end to violence demanded a political process shepherded by a unified global vision and led by all components of the Syrian people.

As those goals were pursued, he said, the international community must also take responsibility for those whose lives had been crushed — millions of refugees, victims and impoverished.  The scourge of terror and violence could not be decisively defeated without rooting out the injustices that provided its fertile ground, from the prisons of Abu Ghraib to the streets of Kabul to the schools of Aleppo, where injustice and humiliation had left tremendous human suffering in their wake.  No injustice had spread more bitter fruit than the denial of a Palestinian State, he said, stressing that Israel had to embrace peace or eventually be engulfed in a sea of hatred.

Full report at:thearabdailynews.com/2016/09/22/jordan-king-warns-israel-sea-hatred/

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India

India urges SAARC states to counter cyber tactics of Islamic State militants

September 23, 2016

India has appealed the SAARC countries to adopt strong methodologies to counter all cyber threats from the Islamic State militants.

“The terrorist organisations use easily accessible technology to attack both soft and hard targets. Self-radicalisation over internet and social media, and spread of influence of Islamic State all over, including in our country, has added new dimensions to the threat,” said Dineshwar Sharma, director of India’s Intelligence Bureau, on Thursday.

He said IB has identified countering financing of terrorism as one of the most important tools to fight the terror menace.

“Cyberspace has become an important area for radicalisation and spread of jihadi materials. Besides, the problem of fake currency feeds into supporting terrorism and can create economic destabilisation in our region,” he said.

He was speaking at the second meeting of the High Level Group of Eminent Experts to strengthen the SAARC Anti-Terrorism Mechanism.

Sharma called upon the eight member states to ratify and enable various conventions enacted by the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) grouping, including the Convention on Suppression of Terrorism and Additional Protocols and the Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters.

Sharma said terrorism has emerged as a big challenge for the entire world and no country today is in a position to tackle this problem on its own.

“Close cooperation and sharing of real-time intelligence are, therefore, imperative for all of us to secure our countries and our peoples,” he stressed.

He lamented that not much progress has taken place on the operationalisation of the SAARC Terrorist Offences Monitoring Desk and SAARC Drug Offences Monitoring Desk.

The First meeting of the Anti-Terrorism Mechanism of SAARC in 2012 had stressed upon the need for immediate operationalisation of the desks.

Meeting of a High Level Group of Eminent Experts to strengthen the SAARC Anti-Terrorism Mechanism was recommended by the SAARC Ministerial Declaration on Cooperation in Combating Terrorism (adopted by the 31st Meeting of SAARC Council of Ministers in Colombo, February 2009).

India had hosted its first meeting in New Delhi from 9-10 February 2012.

Hosting the meeting for the second time, it is in line with the high priority India attaches for regional cooperation in Anti-Terrorism activities and given that terrorism remains the single biggest threat to peace, stability and progress in the region and beyond.

The meeting provides a platform for discussing and identifying measures to tackle this menace threatening our societies.

Source: bdnews24.com/neighbours/2016/09/23/india-urges-saarc-states-to-counter-cyber-tactics-of-islamic-state-militants

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India Claims Diplomatic Win over Pakistan at UN

KALLOL BHATTACHERJEE

NEW DELHI, September 23, 2016: India on Thursday said Pakistan’s campaign to highlight Kashmir at the United Nations had failed even as the Ministry of External Affairs stopped short of giving a definitive answer on Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s plans to attend the November SAARC summit in Islamabad. Uncertainty continued over Mr. Modi’s presence at SAARC as India held consultations with Afghanistan and the U.S., and pushed Pakistan to shut down the infrastructure of terrorism affecting South Asia and the world. The MEA said the question of Mr. Modi’s visit to Islamabad could not be answered in a “yes” or “no”.

“SAARC stands for regional cooperation which is underpinned by peace and stability. The biggest threat to peace and stability we all know is terrorism. Squarely addressing this will benefit the entire region and also strengthen regional cooperation. I am sure all member-countries of SAARC need to reflect on this. Coordination with Bangladesh, with Afghanistan — I cannot go into that but certainly all victims of terrorism stand in solidarity,” said MEA spokesperson Vikas Swarup.

India’s stand on solidarity among terror victims came after Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif described slain Hizbul Mujahideen militant Burhan Wani as a “young leader” in his UNGA speech. India had rebutted it by saying that the Pakistani leader had used the highest podium of the U.N. to “glorify” terrorism.

Source: thehindu.com/news/national/india-claims-diplomatic-win-over-pakistan-at-un/article9137165.ece?

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Muslim Body Condemns Uri Attack, Pakistan

September 23, 2016

While the Centre mulls over a surgical strike on terror camps in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir in the wake of the Uri attack, the minority wing of the Bahujan Vikas Aghadi (BVA) on Thursday staged a demonstration in Naya Nagar, a Muslim-dominated area of Mira Road.

Ajaz Khatib, president of the wing, told The Hindu that the party condemned the attack. “We wanted to send a message that the Muslims in Mira Road are angry for the lives lost. We are totally against Pakistan.”

In the rally where about 300 participated, members of the BVA burnt the Pakistan flag and raised anti-Pakistan slogans. Effigies of Nawaz Sharif and Hafeez Sayeed were beaten up with shoes and chappals .

“We wanted to say that the Muslims of India are as patriotic as any other community or religion,” said Harsh Sharma, legal advisor to the BVA.

Source: thehindu.com/news/cities/mumbai/muslim-body-condemns-uri-attack-pakistan/article9139008.ece

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Sketches of Uran suspects released, search on for ‘armed men’

September 23, 2016

Mumbai: Police have issued sketches of suspects spotted moving suspiciously near a Naval base at Uran in neighbouring Raigad district, even as multi-agency search operations are on to trace them a day after a high alert was sounded along the Mumbai coast and adjoining areas.

Based on the description given by some school children at Uran who spotted the armed suspects, their sketches were issued late last night, police said on Friday. The schools and colleges in Uran and adjoining areas have been shut today.

“As per the reports, five to six persons were sighted in Pathan suits and appeared to be carrying weapons and backpacks,” Naval spokesman Cdr Rahul Sinha had earlier said.

Some reports said they were in military uniform. Despite carrying out massive combing operation in Uran and Karanja areas with the help of Navy, Coast Guard, CISF and Quick Response Team, police are yet to trace the suspects.

The elite commandos from National Security Guard (NSG) and state police’s specialised Force One have also been roped in, police said.

Navi Mumbai Commissioner of Police monitored the situation throughout the night alongwith other top officials. A strict vigil by police and other security agencies is being maintained in the area.

A high alert was sounded on Thursday along the Mumbai coast and adjoining areas after a group of men were spotted moving suspiciously near a naval base at Uran in Raigad, leading to search operations by multiple agencies. The alert came four days after the Uri attack which left 18 soldiers dead.

The Navy pressed its choppers for surveillance and heightened patrolling in the sea by its vessels and high-speed boats.

Some children from Uran Education Society’s school first spotted the suspects, and their teacher informed the police, the police said.

Subsequently, the Western Naval Command issued a “highest state of alert” along the Mumbai, Navi Mumbai, Thane and Raigad coasts where several sensitive establishments and assets are located.

Western India’s biggest naval base, the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre, fertiliser plants, refineries, power plants and the country’s largest container port, JNPT are located in close vicinity of Uran.

Coastal security has been top priority after the 26/11 attacks, in which multiple locations in Mumbai were targeted by Pakistani terrorists who landed using sea route.

The fishing town of Uran is located across the eastern water front of the financial capital. The base located close to the town also houses units of MARCOS, the Navy’s elite strike force.

Source: siasat.com/news/mumbai-sketches-uran-suspects-released-search-armed-men-1025981/

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Malegaon bomb blast case, Col. Purohit’s judgment postponed

September 23, 2016

Mumbai: It was expected that the judgment of Malegaon Bomb Blast case of 2008 would be pronounced yesterday but the judge postponed it to 26th September. The judge had started writing judgment after the completion of all the arguments but Col. Purohit told the court that necessary sanction for prosecuting him is not appropriate and it is full of mistakes. He also alleged that he has been implicated falsely. On the other hand, the lawyers of Jamiatul Ulema told the court that there are concrete proofs of Col. Purohit’s involvement in the bomb blast case. The lawyer of NIA has also requested to release him on bail. After the release of key accused of Samjhota express, Swami Aseemanad’s release, the lawyers of Col. Purohit are hope full that their client will also be released on bail since 8 years have passed after the registration of this case and hearing has not yet taken place.

Legal experts are of the opinion that it will be a very important judgment for NIA judge. They also say that due to technical lapses, Col. Purohit may get benefit but it will be difficult for the court to overlook the proofs presented before it.

Source: siasat.com/news/malegaon-bomb-blast-case-col-purohits-judgment-postponed-1025794/

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Arab World

Iraqi forces expel ISIS from Sharqat District

September 23, 2016

ERBIL – The Iraqi army forces announced on Thursday the “liberation” of the Sharqat District in Saladin Governorate from militants of the Islamic State (ISIS).

More than 160,000 civilians have been displaced from Sharqat due to the fighting between the Iraqi forces and ISIS militants.

“After months of heavy fighting against Daesh [ISIS] terrorists, the Iraqi army was able on Thursday evening to fully liberate Sharqat District,” said Jamal al-Mukhtar, official spokesman of the Saladin Governorate.

Hundreds of ISIS militants were killed in the fight for Sharqat, an Iraqi army officer told ARA News. “In the coming days, the Iraqi troops will work on dismantling explosives left by Daesh in the District,” he said.

This comes just one day after the Iraqi army cut off a major ISIS supply route between Sharqat District and Mosul city –main ISIS bastion in Iraq.

“This route was a key supply-line for Daesh [ISIS] terrorists in northern Iraq. It linked the Daesh-held major city of Mosul with the Sharqat District and the Baaj District,” army commander Salim al-Jabouri told ARA News.

Source: aranews.net/2016/09/iraqi-forces-expel-isis-sharqat-district/

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PYD/PKK is replacing İSİS in northern Syria

September 23, 2016

Baku-APA. Only one of the five main regions of northern Syria now under the control of the PYD/PKK terrorist group is populated almost entirely by Kurds, while the other four are shared between Kurds, Arabs and Turkmen, APA reports quoting Anadolu.

When the Syrian civil war started in 2011, the PYD/PKK -- which imposes its rule through the use of violence and intimidation -- was active only in the centre of Hasakah province and the town of Afrin in Aleppo on the border with Turkey.

It had not yet established, however, its complete domination over either region.

In mid-2015, the PYD/PKK gained ground in Hasakah -- at the expense of the Daesh terrorist group -- as a result of joint operations with the Assad regime, eventually establishing control over most of the province.

The center of Hasakah is almost evenly divided between Arabs and Kurds. The province’s eastern and northern countryside, however, is populated almost entirely by Kurds, while its western and southern countryside is almost exclusively populated by Arabs.

But in early 2016, the PYD/PKK -- with Russian support -- began making inroads on majority-Arab regions outside Afrin toward the Azaz-Jarabulus line.

Before mid-2015, when the group captured the city of Kobani in Aleppo, the PYD/PKK’s presence in the city was limited. Meanwhile, it had almost no influence at all in the Tel Abyad district of Raqqa province and Aleppo’s Manbij district west of the Euphrates.

- Historical chance

The emergence of Daesh in 2014 posed a historical chance for the PYD/PKK, which wanted to consolidate its territory along Turkey’s border and break the geographical link between Turkey and Syria.

In this regard, it had the Assad regime’s support in certain areas, while also enjoying considerable U.S. backing, resulting in its rapid spread in the region.

As Daesh began to withdraw from majority-Arab parts of northern Syria, the PYD/PKK was quick to fill the vacuum.

The center of Kobani -- along with a number of villages on its outskirts -- is populated mainly by Kurds. In the district’s western, southern and eastern countryside, however, Arab populations dominate.

Tel Abyad, meanwhile, is populated mainly by Arab tribes and Turkmen communities.

he PYD/PKK managed to co-opt some Arab groups in Tel Abyad (mainly by giving them arms and money), while carrying out a policy of ethnic cleansing against local Turkmen communities -- practices that have been confirmed by international rights organizations.

 After seizing Kobani and Tel Abyad and reaching the Euphrates, the PYD/PKK hoped to cross to the west of the river with the aim of uniting all regions of northern Syria under its control.

On Aug. 12 of this year, the PYD/PKK -- with the help of intense U.S. air support -- also managed to seize the Arab/Turkmen-majority Manbij district.

The group is now attempting to conceal its true aims under the guise of the "Syrian Democratic Forces", which pretends to be an "umbrella organization" representing different ethnic groups.

Source: en.apa.az/world-news/asia-news/pyd-pkk-is-replacing-isis-in-northern-syria.html

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Aleppo burns as incendiary bombs rain on rebel areas

Sept. 23, 2016

ALEPPO: Huge blazes erupted in Syria’s Aleppo as the city was rocked by fighting and air strikes on Thursday, ahead of last-ditch efforts by world powers to salvage a failed ceasefire.

Key players in the Syrian peace process planned to meet in New York, with the clock ticking down as the UN warned undelivered aid for desperate civilians in Aleppo would expire in four days.

The truce deal brokered by Moscow and Washington fell apart earlier this week, ushering in a surge of fighting on all major fronts of Syria’s five-year civil war.

Heavy clashes gripped the outskirts of Aleppo on Thursday, after air strikes triggered major fires across the city’s devastated rebel-held districts.

An eyewitness in the eastern Bustan al Qasr neighbourhood reported that his entire street was in flames following the pre-dawn strikes.

Volunteer firefighters battled throughout the night to contain the blazes, which local activists at the Aleppo Media Centre said were caused by “incendiary phosphorous bombs”.

In footage posted by the group, a ball of flame shoots up over the city, lighting up the skyline and sparking fires on the horizon.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said strikes on the rebel-held neighbourhoods of Bustan al Qasr and Al Kalasseh “led to massive fires” overnight.

Observatory head Rami Abdel Rahman said they were “the most intense strikes in months” on those two districts. He said raids by Russian warplanes on Thursday killed 13 people, including three women, in the city.

`Assad, do your bit’: “The non-stop strikes last night were so violent I can’t even describe them,” said Ibrahim Abu al Leith, spokesman for the White Helmets, a prominent Syrian group of emergency responders.

One volunteer was wounded in the strikes and ensuing fires, Abu al Leith said.

The White Helmets on Thursday won the Right Livelihood Award “for their outstanding bravery, compassion and humanitarian engagement”, announced the jury for the Swedish human rights award, known as the “alternative Nobel prize”.

Residents of east Aleppo’s have been living under government siege since early September.

AID STALLED: Food aid promised for them under the US-Russia deal has been stalled at the border since last week and will go bad in just a few days.

“Forty trucks are sitting at the Turkish-Syrian border. The food will be expiring on Monday,” the head of the UN humanitarian taskforce for Syria, Jan Egeland, told reporters in Geneva.

“The drivers are sleeping at the border and they have done so now for now a week, so please, President Assad, do your bit to enable us to get to eastern Aleppo and also the other besieged areas,” Egeland said in a direct appeal to Syrian President Bashar al Assad.

The UN resumed its aid deliveries on Thursday after a brief pause in the wake of a strike on a humanitarian convoy in Syria’s north that killed 20 civilians and destroyed 18 aid trucks.

Thursday’s aid was going “to people in a besieged area of rural Damascus”, said UN humanitarian agency spokesman Jens Laerke.

Diplomatic efforts to end the war were set to continue in New York with another meeting of the International Syria Support Group (ISSG), chaired by Moscow and Washington.

Sounding a cautious note before the talks, John Kerry said: “It’s going to be difficult. We’ll see what people are willing to do.”

During an address to the UN Security Council on Wednesday, Kerry urged Russia to force Damascus to ground its warplanes after Monday’s deadly raid on the aid convoy.

Moscow denies that Russian or Syrian planes carried out the raid and instead said a coalition drone was in the area when the aid trucks were hit.

Source: dawn.com/news/1285536/aleppo-burns-as-incendiary-bombs-rain-on-rebel-areas

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ISIS approaches strategic Deir Ezzor Military Airport

23/09/2016

DEIR EZZOR - The situation in Deir Ezzor is not in favor of the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) at the moment, as the Islamic State of Iraq and Al-Sham (ISIS) inches closer to the strategic military airport at the outskirts of the provincial capital.

On Wednesday night, the Islamic State terrorists managed to capture the Syrian Arab Army's last points at the Thardeh Mountains, leaving them within striking distance of the Deir Ezzor Military Airport's western perimeter for the first time in this war.

Making matters worse for the Syrian Arab Army at the Deir Ezzor Airport, the Islamic State's presence at the Thardeh Mountains has given them the geographic advantage in this battle because they are overlooking the government forces from the western flank.

ISIS has already launched a new assault on the Deir Ezzor Military Airport today, striking this strategic installation from both the western and southern flanks.

According to a military source inside the province, the Syrian Arab Air Force (SAAYF) has already conducted several sorties over the Thardeh Mountains in order to forestall the terrorists from reaching the western gates of the airport.

Clashes are still ongoing at the moment; however, the Syrian Arab Army has been able to repel all previous infiltration attempts.

Source: almasdarnews.com/article/isis-approaches-strategic-deir-ezzor-military-airport/

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Now is the time to plan for a post-Islamic state Mosul

SEP. 23, 2016

Mosul, Iraq is known as the city of two springs, with autumn days that are as fine as those ahead of summer. This fall, those days could turn even finer.

Iraqi forces, supported by the U.S.-led coalition, are preparing for an assault on Islamic State’s most significant stronghold in Iraq. Barring a reversal of policy in Baghdad or Washington, it is almost certain that the military campaign will succeed. What’s uncertain is the cost of that success.

The immediate priority will be to protect the city’s 1.5 million-plus civilians and prevent criminal gangs from establishing themselves as the alternative to IS, which has held the city since 2014.

Decisions made now, especially in determining whether the Iraqi government, or sectarian and ethnic armed groups will be able to hold Mosul and provide security, will decide the fate of Iraq’s second city - and the rest of the country.

Mosul is one of the most prominent urban and historical centers of Iraq. In close proximity to Syria and Turkey, it is a valuable prize for the various armed groups trying to win it back from IS.

Once the battle reaches the outskirts of Mosul and progresses towards the city center, all eyes will be on the competing forces as they try to impose their control. How the city will be governed - from the treatment of prisoners to how quickly the displaced are resettled - will determine whether Mosul’s citizens can trust the new leaders of their city.

In the aftermath of IS occupation, these groups will want to translate their military gains into political control. Armed to the teeth, they will try to take power by force if Baghdad isn’t able to take control.

Politicians and warlords have already used the need to dislodge IS as a way to force their own agendas. The urgency to push out IS in 2014 led to the establishment of the “Popular Mobilisation Units (PMU),” a group of militia forces that were seen as a “short-term” fix to support the military and now claims to be an integral part of Iraq’s security apparatus, refusing to be disbanded or brought into the Iraqi army.

Today, leaders of some of the Iranian-backed militias under the umbrella of the PMU insist it be accepted as the equivalent of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard - playing both a political and military role that undermines Iraqi institutions such as the army and Ministry of Interior.

Adding to the mix, leaders of the Kurdish forces, the peshmarga, have insisted that they retain control of any land they take from IS, even if the land was not originally under the control of the Kurdish regional government. Political operatives with Sunni Arab, Christian Arab and Yezidi backgrounds are now also trying to build up their own forces to fight IS and win a seat at the table.

Full report at:japantoday.com/category/opinions/view/now-is-the-time-to-plan-for-a-post-islamic-state-mosul

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Pakistan

PTI complains to ECP against PML-N ‘militant wing’

23/09/2016

ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) has asked the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) to act against the ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) for what it termed the “establishment of a militant wing”.

Last week, while the PTI was still plotting a strategy for its much-touted march on Raiwind, the media reported that an informal force called the Janisar-e-Nawaz Sharif had been raised, ostensibly to counter any attempts by protesters to march towards the prime minister’s residence at Jati Umra.

A letter has been sent to the chief election commissioner by PTI Central Deputy Secretary General Farrukh Habib, which states that all citizens of Pakistan are obligated to abide by the laws of the land.

“It is remorsefully noted that after the announcement of a peaceful protest over the Panama Papers leaks by PTI Chairman Imran Khan... the ruling PML-N started acting in [a completely] illegal, non-political and immoral manner and... created a militant force by the name of Janisar-e-Nawaz Sharif and started recruitment and training of its members to forcefully [prevent] the PTI from [its] peaceful protest.”

PML-N, ANP, MQM, PML-Q put on notice for not holding intra-party elections

Referring to media reports, he alleged that members of this force had been recruited on the instructions of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, adding that Minister of State for Water and Power Abid Sher Ali and Punjab government spokesperson Zaeem Qadri, along with others, were “leading this criminal activity on [the prime minister’s] behest”.

The letter also claims that these people were “being trained in different parts of Punjab”.

“It is submitted with emphasis that the creation of [a] militant wing in PML-N amounts to undermining [the] sovereignty and integrity of Pakistan and also undermines public order and morality. [By] creating [a militant wing] the PML-N has violated the mandatory provisions of the Political Parties Order 2002, as well as Article 256 of the Constitution,” the letter stated.

“This force has been established to target and promote hatred and animosity specifically against PTI and its members. You are here by requested to initiate legal action as per law. A prompt and firm action in this regard is awaited,” the letter concludes.

It is worth noting that although the raising of the Janisar-e-Nawaz Sharif was covered extensively by the electronic media, no formal announcement in this regard was made by any PML-N office-bearers.

“Let the Election Commission examine the facts and give its verdict,” PML-N leader Siddiqul Farooq told Dawn. He said that Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif had, in a formal statement, directed all party workers and office bearers to remain peaceful. Mr Farooq assured the PTI that the government would provide full protection to participants

“I am confident that the applicant will withdraw his petition, or it will be disposed of by the ECP,” he concluded.

Full report at: dawn.com/news/1285559/pti-complains-to-ecp-against-pml-n-militant-wing

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PAKISTAN, IRAN BROTHER ISLAMIC COUNTRIES: RAHEELA

23 Sep, 2016

The Iranian Consul General in Quetta Muhammad Rafee’e called on the Speaker Balochistan Assembly Raheela Hameed Khan Durrani in Quetta.

Speaking on the occasion, Raheela Durrani said that the Pakistan and Iran are the brother Islamic and neighbouring countries and good relations between the two countries have spanning the centuries.          

The Iranian Consul General said an electronic system for providing Visas of Iran would be imposed soon which will be more convenient than the existing system.

Source: radio.gov.pk/23-Sep-2016/pakistan-iran-brother-islamic-countries-raheela

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Militant attacks from Afghanistan repulsed in Mohmand, Bajaur

23/09/2016

PESHAWAR: Security forces personnel on Friday repulsed two attacks on security checkposts in Mohmand and Bajaur agencies by suspected militants from across the Pak-Afghan border, security sources said.

The militants opened fire on a security checkpost in the Sheikh Baba area of Mohmand and on the Nawa Pass security post in Bajaur agency, sources said.

Security forces repulsed both attacks by retaliating quickly. No casualties were reported on either side of the border.

The claims could not be independently verified as journalists do not have access to most parts of the restive agencies.

The Jamaatul Ahrar militant group claimed responsibility for the attacks.

Pakistan has long accused Afghanistan of sheltering militants who conduct attacks inside its territory, a charge Afghanistan denies.

Army Chief General Raheel Sharif, in a meeting with senior US officials at GHQ in June this year, raised the demand of targeting Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) militants and their chief Mullah Fazlullah in their hideouts in Afghanistan.

Mohmand and Bajaur are among Pakistan’s seven semi-autonomous tribal districts near the Afghan border, rife with homegrown insurgents and foreign militants.

Despite heavy military presence on both sides of the border, cross-border movements of militants (in both ways) have been a major area of concern.

Local militants have fled ongoing military offensives since 2008, taking refuge across the border and attacking Pakistani military checkpoints and civilians from there.

The army launched Operation Zarb-i-Azb in June 2014 in a bid to wipe out militant bases in the tribal areas and so bring an end to the bloody insurgency that has cost thousands of civilian lives since 2004.

As a result, security in the country has since improved. Scattered attacks still take place, but they are fewer and of a lesser intensity than in previous years.

According to data from the South Asia Terrorism Portal, 457 civilians and 182 members of the security forces were killed in Pakistan from January 1 to September 11, putting 2016 on course for fewer casualties than 2015.

Last year, the country recorded its lowest number of killings since 2007.

Source: dawn.com/news/1285615/militant-attacks-from-afghanistan-repulsed-in-mohmand-bajaur

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FWO told to get its accounts audited by AGPR

23/09/2016

ISLAMABAD: The Public Accounts Committee (PAC) of the National Assembly said on Thursday that all organisations using public money were subject to audit and ordered the Frontier Works Organisation (FWO) to get its accounts audited from the Auditor General Pakistan Revenues (AGPR).

The PAC observed that passage of the 18th Amendment did not absolve any of the organisations using public funds and receiving money from the government kitty from the obligation of getting their accounts audited.

The meeting directed the FWO, whose audit has been due for the past 12 years, to ensure audit of its accounts from the AGPR.

The meeting, presided over by Sardar Aashiq Hussein Gopang, reviewed audit reports for years 2013-14 and 2002 relating to ministry of housing and works and the Fata secretariat.

The auditors informed the committee that the FWO had received an overpayment of Rs674.311 million in connection with the construction of 10 road projects in Fata in 2011-12.

PAC says all organisations using public money are subject to audit of their accounts

Rana Asad Amin, the auditor general, urged the committee to ask the FWO to get its accounts audited from the AGPR. He said the FWO enjoyed tax exemptions but it received withholding tax from the Fata secretariat with regard to road projects.

The PAC asked its office to write to the FWO to get its accounts audited. It also directed for the recovery of the additional amounts paid to the FWO.

Fata Secretary Fida Wazir asked the PAC to direct the finance ministry to release the Fata grant on time.

The meeting was attended by Dr Darshan, Junaid Anwaar Chaudhary, Meh­mo­od Khan Achakzai, Dr Azra Fazal Pechuho, Sahib­zada Nazir Sultan, Shafqat Mehmood and Pervaiz Malik.

Payment to NLC

The PAC was informed that former prime minister Raja Pervaiz Ashraf of the PPP had ordered the construction of 64km Mandra-Chakwal road and dualisation of the Sohawa-Chakwal road without completing codal formalities.

Audit officials said that the assignment of projects to the National Logistic Cell (NLC) and booking of transferred funds as expenditure without any actual work done was gross violation of the statutory and codal provisions.

Mr Asharf had ordered the ministry to pay Rs5.9 billion to the NLC in two instalments. In the meantime, a petition was filed against proposed payment to the NLC.

The court cancelled the agreement and the second cheque for Rs2.3bn was withheld, but the recovery of the first cheque amounting to Rs2.6bn had not been made from the NLC yet.

Housing and Works Secretary Shahrukh Arbab told the meeting that the Mandra-Chakwal project had been re-awarded to the NLC on the lowest bid and the outstanding amount was being adjusted.

The Mandra-Chakwal project has been revised from Rs4.67bn to Rs9.322bn. The committee sought details of the project to be presented at its next meeting.

Source: dawn.com/news/1285510/fwo-told-to-get-its-accounts-audited-by-agpr

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Rights bodies challenge credibility of Israeli inquiries

23/09/2016

NEW YORK: Israeli and Palestinian rights organisations have challenged the credibility of Israel’s inquiries into the charges of Israeli military misconduct during the 2014 war in Gaza, with one group describing the internal legal process as a “facade” intended to try to stave off a war crimes investigation by the International Criminal Court, The New York Times reported on Wednesday.

In a report released on Tuesday, the group, B’Tselem, a left-wing Israeli organisation that focuses on allegations of rights abuses against Palestinians in Gaza and in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, characterised the military’s system of internal investigations as a “whitewash protocol.”

“The work of the military law-enforcement system does nothing more than offer the illusion that Israel is fulfilling its obligations to investigate breaches of law,” the group said.

The sharp recriminations come two years after the ceasefire that ended 50 days of fighting in the summer of 2014 between Israel and rocket-firing militant groups in Gaza led by Hamas.

Days after the update last month, Adalah, an Arab-rights group in Israel, and the Gaza-based Al Mezan Centre for Human Rights issued a report saying they had filed joint complaints in 27 cases from the outset of the war, involving the killing of civilians and extensive damage to civilian property like hospitals and schools. They said that the military was still investigating or had yet to respond to nearly half of those complaints, and that it was working “in a sluggish and convoluted manner.”

The military says that, in all, it has received complaints relating to 360 events.

About 2,200 Palestinians were killed during the 2014 conflict, more than half of them civilians. On the Israeli side, 73 people were killed, most of them soldiers, the Times said quoting the report.

Source: dawn.com/news/1285538/rights-bodies-challenge-credibility-of-israeli-inquiries

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Khurshid criticises Sharif’s address at UN

23/09/2016

ISLAMABAD: The Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly, Syed Khurshid Shah, has said that besides highlighting the Kashmir issue in his speech at the UN General Assembly, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif should have informed the world about India’s act of fomenting terrorism in Pakistan.

Commenting on the prime minister’s speech, he said that though Mr Sharif had highlighted the Kashmir issue he did not talk about threats being faced by the country because of India-sponsored terrorism.

“Instead of delivering an ordinary speech, the prime minister should have emphatically and categorically highlighted threats and problems being faced by Pakistan due to Indian involvement in incidents of terrorism in the country,” the opposition leader said in a statement issued by his office on Thursday.

He said the recent arrest of Indian spy Kulbhushan Jadhav in Balochistan was a clear proof of Indian interference in Pakistan and the prime minister should have told the world how India was sponsoring terrorism and lawlessness in Pakistan.

“This is a good time for us to expose the real face of India which claims to be a secular state.”

Mr Shah also criticised the prime minister for not taking parliament into confidence before proceeding to the US for addressing the UN General Assembly. “It seems that the prime minister considers his adviser on foreign affairs a “Mr know all”.

He said the performance of the government’s advisers on foreign affairs was before the nation and was evident from the fact that Pakistan was getting isolated in the world community and did not enjoy good relations with any of its neighbours.

Expressing concern over the tabling of a bill in the US Congress seeking to declare Pakistan a state sponsor of terrorism, Mr Shah asked the government to give up the practice of running foreign policy on an ad-hoc basis and adopt a consistent policy.

“It is regrettable that the two most important ministries — defence and foreign affairs — are being run on an ad-hoc basis,” he added.

The opposition leader asked the government to take the parliament into confidence over the recent escalation in tension between Pakistan and India which he said had almost created war hysteria.

“It is the responsibility of the government to devise a strategy to deal with Indian interference in the country after thoroughly discussing the issue on the floor of the parliament,” he said.

PPP MNAs’ meeting

The parliamentary leader of the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) in the National Assembly, Syed Naveed Qamar, has convened a meeting of the party’s members of the assembly at Parliament House on Sept 27 to discuss the strategy for the coming session of the lower house.

Sources in the party told Dawn that besides discussing issues related to legislation, the meeting would discuss options to force the government to hold a full-fledged debate on the Panama leaks scam. The opposition members, they said, would also press the government to hold a debate on the country’s foreign policy with particular focus on the tension between India and Pakistan after violence in occupied Kashmir.

The government has convened sessions of the National Assembly and the Senate from Monday. The sittings are expected to continue for two weeks.

Source: dawn.com/news/1285508/khurshid-criticises-sharifs-address-at-un

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Europe

Malcolm Turnbull says Islamic State on the cusp of defeat but warns of domestic terror threat

Sept. 23, 2016

Washington DC: Malcolm Turnbull has emerged from high-level talks in the US capital, increasingly hopeful that a final defeat for Islamic State forces in Syria is nearing, but warning it could bring an increased risk in Australia once the group's plans for an Islamic "caliphate" are humiliated.

Mr Turnbull also acknowledged that there was the strong potential for a power-vacuum after Islamic State is dispatched, meaning Syria will be unstable for years to come and potentially require an ongoing international security presence.

At least one expert in the field, has questioned the Australia-US analysis. Professor Amin Saikal of the ANU Centre for Arab and Islamic Studies said George W. Bush had prematurely claimed "job done" in Iraq, only to be proved tragically wrong.

"We recall not only such congratulatory statements from President George W. Bush following the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003, but also assurances from Prime Minister Tony Abbott that Australian forces were making positive contributions to the stability and security of Afghanistan. We now know how the situation has deteriorated in both countries," he said.

On his final day in the US, Mr Turnbull held trade and security talks with Obama Administration officials and the influential Republican, House of Representatives Speaker, Paul Ryan.

At the Pentagon, Mr Turnbull met the Director of the National Security Agency, the Director of the CIA, the Director of National Intelligence, as well as Defence Secretary Ash Carter.

"The good news in terms of the battle against Daesh or ISIL, is that we are continuing to roll them back and we look forward to further gains over the course of the next six months or so," he told reporters in Washington's National Mall.

"There is a very real prospect of completing the defeat of Daesh in the battlefield, ending their so-called caliphate. Of course, the struggle against terrorism will continue for many years to come."

He confirmed that US security agencies believe an uptick in so-called "lone wolf" violence by misguided Islamic State sympathisers is a distinct possibility.

"There is a concern that the terrorist, the lone actor terrorist threat in countries like the United States and Australia and the West, if you like, will get worse before it gets better," he said.

"That ISIL which had been focused on very much building its caliphate and so-called state - and you remember they made it a part of their marketing was this image of invisibility and inevitable victory so as they portrayed it. Remember their boast? They said they were going to sweep across Europe and stable their horses in the Vatican. Well that is not going to happen."

Sources close to Prime Minister said he and Mr Carter had also discussed the deteriorating situation in Afghanistan and the progresss towards the so-called "pivot" to the Asia-Pacific known as the Force Posture Initiatives in Australia's Northern Territory.

The pair also discussed ways of enhancing the trilateral defence pact with Japan – sure to be viewed with suspicion in Beijing, where the pivot is viewed as a thinly veiled China containment strategy.

Mr Turnbull also called for moderation and balance in the debate about Islam and cultural differences, declaring to do otherwise plays directly into the terrorists' hands.

With Pauline Hanson channelling the incendiary anti-Muslim rhetoric of Donald Trump, he argued for milder language.

"Moderation is always important. We've got to remember that what the terrorists want to do -– I made this point at the United Nations yesterday – what the terrorists want to do is divide us. They want us to turn on each other. That is part of their very calculated, very deliberate objective and so that's why we mustn't do it. That is why inclusion, moderation, proclaiming and defending and reinforcing ours, the most successful multicultural society in the world, is so critically important."

Professor Saikal said the Syrian situation was extremely difficult to read and even harder to predict.

"The US-led coalition, together with operations by the Assad regime and its supporters, especially Russia and Iran, may well result in rolling back the IS in both Iraq and Syria. However, any territorial reversal is unlikely to deliver victory to the anti-IS forces. It is highly questionable what a victory would look like, given the massive loss of human lives, the displacement of millions and physical destructions in the two countries," he said.

"IS and similar extremist groups are symptoms of deeper issues in the region, ranging from the prevalence of authoritarianism, entrenched socio-economic disparities and injustices, regional rivalries and repeated major power intervention in support of illiberal forces in the region."

Source: smh.com.au/federal-politics/political-news/malcolm-turnbull-says-islamic-state-on-the-cusp-of-defeat-but-warns-of-domestic-terror-threat-20160922-grml18.html

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French Muslims see widening social divide in wake of terror attacks

Thursday, September 22, 2016

NICE, France — The young Muslim woman’s face is framed by a modest headscarf as she lays out flowers on the beachside promenade, a day after an Islamic State-inspired terrorist mowed down Bastille Day revelers in mid-July.

She is somber but determined when asked if the attack would heighten tensions over Muslims in France. There should be no confusion, said the 30-year-old woman, who asked to be identified only as Nathalie. “This man, for me, he’s not a Muslim. He’s a monster.”

Nathalie’s view of the man who killed 86 people on the Nice waterfront may well be shared by millions of other French Muslims. But their public condemnations have done little in the months since the shocking attack to alleviate societal divisions that many say are deeper than the French war against the Islamic State terrorist group, also known as ISIS and ISIL.

As many as 6 million Muslims are living in France, and the government has long been criticized for failing to integrate them into the nation’s rigorously secular society. The result is what authorities fear is a growing cohort of alienated Muslim youths open the lure of propaganda from the Islamic State and other extremist groups.

In interviews with The Washington Times, French officials and several moderate Muslims worried aloud that the situation has been made worse by harsh government crackdowns in the wake of the Nice massacre and the even deadlier attack in November in which Islamic State gunmen and suicide bombers killed 130 people in the heart of Paris.

Undercover French police prowl the streets of major cities, and authorities have carried out more than 4,000 home raids since November under a “state of emergency” decree allowing searches without court warrants.

The government says the moves are necessary to contain the Islamic State threat. Muslim rights group say the crackdown, coupled with “Islamophobic” rhetoric from political leaders, plays directly into the hands of the Islamic State by further alienating the largest edgy population of Muslims in Europe.

The Islamic State’s objective “is to antagonize local Muslim communities in the West to make recruitment of new followers easier,” said Marwan Muhammad, executive director of a Paris-based group known as the Collective Against Islamophobia in France. “The higher the level of Islamophobia, the easier it is for [ISIS] to pose as an alternative.”

Full report at:washingtontimes.com/news/2016/sep/22/french-muslims-see-widening-social-divide-in-wake-/

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Lebanon arrests suspected Islamic State commander

22.09.2016

Beirut (dpa) - The Lebanese army arrested on Thursday a suspected Islamic State commander following clashes between extremists and a Palestinian group in a refugee camp, a Lebanese security official said.

Imad Yassine was arrested in an army crackdown inside the Ain al-Hilweh camp in southern Lebanon, the official added on condition of anonymity, giving no further details.

Ain al-Hilweh is a sprawling Palestinian refugee camp located on the outskirts of the southern port city of Sidon.

The camp was gripped Wednesday night by fighting between members of the Palestinian Fatah movement and Islamist extremists.

No casualties were reported.

In recent months, Lebanon has seen several attacks, some of which were claimed by the Islamic State extremist group, which is active in neighbouring Syria.

Source: en.europeonline-magazine.eu/lebanon-arrests-suspected-islamic-state-commander_485801.html

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Hungarian PM Calls For Deportation Of Over A Million Migrants

23 Sep 201653

Regularly at odds with EU leaders in Western Europe, the Hungarian Prime Minister has said that the political bloc needs to consider deporting over a million migrants who flooded into Europe over the last year, reports Spiegel Online.

“All who have come illegally should be picked up and taken away,” Mr. Orbán told Hungarian media. After securing the borders of his own country, Mr. Orbán is taking his secure border ideology to the rest of the EU, targeting German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s open-door migrant policy.

Mr. Orbán said that he didn’t want to see migrant camps set up within the borders of the EU but rather the bloc should create migrant camps on islands or on the North African coast. He proposed that the camps should be financed by EU member states, where all migrant claims could be rigorously scrutinised before those designated as ‘refugees’ are allowed into the bloc.

The lack of background checks has led to radical Islamic extremists, including members of Islamic State, being admitted into the EU. So-called ‘refugees’ have gone on to commit acts of terror in Paris, Brussels, and several cities in Germany.  Law enforcement officials have been alarmed by the scale of the network of Islamic State-linked fighters who were able to walk into Europe thanks to the migrant crisis.

Processing migrants offshore is a system that Australia has practised for years and has been proposed by Austrian Foreign Minister Sebastian Kurz for incoming migrants. Mr. Orbán’s idea to remove existing migrants from Germany and elsewhere and place them overseas is a more radical version of the plan.

These comments come less than two weeks before the Hungarian people vote in a referendum on whether or not to accept any migrants into Hungary as part of the EU’s proposed migrant redistribution policy. Mr. Orbán hopes that the people will vote to not allow migrants to be sent from Western Europe to Hungary, and polls show that the Hungarian people strongly support his tough stance.

Earlier this week Mr. Orbán’s spokesman Zoltan Kovacs spoke in Brussels and attacked the so-called “migrant helpers” who drive many migrants out of Hungary and across the borders to Austria and Germany, calling them organised criminals. Mr. Kovacs also noted that if the government won the referendum, the EU could expect even tougher migrant laws to be passed in the Central European nation.

Source: breitbart.com/london/2016/09/23/hungary-pm-deportation-million-migrants/

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Anti-Muslim 'bias' shown towards asylum seekers in Europe, study suggests

22/09/2016

New findings suggest there is an anti-Muslim “bias” in European attitudes towards asylum seekers.

People were more likely to “accept” and favour Christian asylum seekers, as well as those with higher employability and severe vulnerabilities.

The study, published in the journal Science, gathered its findings from 18,000 citizens across 15 European countries, including the UK, France and Germany.

Life jackets have been laid out in cities across the world, such as New York here, to draw attention to the refugee crisis (Mark Lennihan/AP)

Participants were asked to evaluate a total of 180,000 hypothetical profiles of asylum seekers, which randomly varied on attributes like gender, age, religion and occupational skills.

Muslim asylum seekers were 11% less likely to be accepted than Christians with a similar background and history. Meanwhile Christians were only slightly preferred to people who were agnostic – which the report said indicated a strong anti-Muslim bias, rather than a pro-Christian bias.

Germany was one country involved in the study, where only last week violent attacks have taken place against asylum seekers (Jens Meyer/AP)

The anti-Muslim bias existed in both left and right-wing voters, but the bias was about twice as large in the latter group.

The researchers also found higher-skilled applicants such as doctors, teachers and accountants were more likely to be accepted than those who were unemployed, while those without appropriate language skills were 12% less favourable.

Humanitarian concerns were also important to people’s views. Asylum seekers were 15% more likely to be accepted if they had sought asylum due to fear of political, religious, or ethnic persecution, while victims of torture were also favoured.

Dominik Hangartner of the London School of Economics said: “The public’s strong anti-Muslim bias and preference for highly skilled asylum seekers who can speak the language of the host country points to a mounting challenge for policy-makers, given that most asylum seekers currently originate from Muslim-majority countries and may lack the desired professional and language skills.”

“The fact that we found a shared humanitarian concern amongst the European public, however, suggests that a clear narrative would increase support for accepting refugees.”

Source: breakingnews.ie/world/anti-muslim-bias-shown-towards-asylum-seekers-in-europe-study-suggests-756048.html

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Africa

Egypt's grand mufti faces hostile reception in South Africa

Friday, 23 September 2016

Egypt's Grand Mufti Shawqi Allam, right, and a representative of the Orthodox church Bishop Bola, can be seen in this file photo taken on November 30, 2013.

Egypt's grand mufti Dr. Shawqi Allam has been discouraged from visiting South Africa where a large number of Muslims are bitter about his role in supporting the death sentence of deposed Egyptian president Mohammad Morsi.

Mufti Allam has faced widespread criticism since June when he endorsed the death sentence of Morsi, Egypt's first democratically elected president who was ousted in a 2013 military coup.

The religious leader is travelling to South Africa along with his delegation in coming days but the Muslim Judicial Council (MJC) of South Africa has excused itself from entertaining his visit.

MJC is one of the oldest religious organisations in South Africa with a large following.

A copy of the MJC letter dated September 20 that was written to Egyptian embassy.

In a letter to the Egyptian Embassy, the MJC said the objective of Mufti Allam's "peace mission" has been diluted after he signed the death warrants of Egyptian citizens including Morsi.

In Egypt, all death sentences have to be approved by the Grand Mufti, the leading religious authority to give final opinion to government on such cases.

"We fear that South African liberation movements in our country would strongly oppose and protest the visit of the Mufti and his delegation, and could potentially escalate into adverse conditions for them during their intended visit," the MJC letter said.

Copy of MJC letter.

MJC's concern is not misplaced since people from different walks of life have opposed Mufti Allam's visit.

Dr. Aayesha J. Soni, vice chairperson of Media Review Network, a Johannesburg-based Muslim advocacy group, said Allam will face hostile reception if he visits.

"South Africans do not entertain leaders who insist on violating the basic human rights and freedoms of their citizens, nor those who vow on endorsing such injustice!" she wrote in a blog post.

This is not the first time popular unrest has surfaced in South Africa against Egyptian leaders seen as human rights violators.

Just last year Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi had to cancel a trip to Johannesburg after a group of South African lawyers filed a request for his arrest.

Morsi, a Muslim Brotherhood leader, came to power in 2012, following the end of Hosni Mubarak’s 30 year rule over Egypt.

In little over a year he was removed in a military coup which is believed to have been orchestrated by Sisi.

He was charged and subsequently sentenced to death in multiple cases including the one involving his escape from a prison.

Thousands of his supporters have been jailed and many killed in a crackdown.

Morsi's trial drew scrutiny from human rights organisations which see it as politically motivated.

"These entire legal proceedings have been a mockery of justice and the death sentences must be thrown out," according to Amnesty International.

Source: trtworld.com/mea/egypts-grand-mufti-faces-hostile-reception-in-south-africa-191794

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Nigeria requests UN help in talks with Boko Haram to bring back Chibok girls

September 20, 2016

Nigeria has said it would welcome UN involvement in negotiating with Boko Haram over the release of more than 200 schoolgirls kidnapped in Chibok more than two years ago.

President Muhammadu Buhari invited the UN to act as an intermediary in talks when he met with the outgoing Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Wednesday, on the sidelines of the annual UN General Assembly in New York.

In a tacit acceptance that his government’s military approach to bringing back the 217 schoolgirls has failed, Mr Buhari said Nigeria would “welcome intermediaries such as UN outfits, to step in”.

In practice, the UN is not necessarily the obvious first choice to act as a go-between in the talks. It has itself been a victim of Boko Haram’s indiscriminate terror attacks, including a car bomb on the UN headquarters in Abuja which killed 21 people.

But Mr Buhari’s request was also a “show of commitment” to the UN and to Mr Ban, who steps down as Secretary-General at the end of this year, according to a statement from presidential adviser Femi Adesina.

If the UN agrees to help, it would be the first publicly discussed negotiations between the government and Boko Haram, whose insurgency has displaced more than two million people and led to the deaths of more than 15,000 in just seven years.

Mr Buhari told Mr Ban his government was “willing to bend over backwards” to bring back the girls, whose kidnapping sparked an international outcry.

But he said finding credible Boko Haram leaders for negotiations has been difficult, especially because of the current leadership struggle among the extremists.

The girls were last heard of when around 50 of them appeared in a video released by the Boko Haram faction led by Abubakar Shekau in August.

Fighters loyal to Shekau have since clashed with supporters of Abu Musab al-Barnawi, who was named the group’s new leader when his faction pledged allegiance to Isis.

“The challenge is in getting credible and bona fide leadership of Boko Haram to discuss with,” Mr Buhari said.

“The split in the insurgent group is not helping matters. Government had reached out, ready to negotiate, but it became difficult to identify credible leaders,” said the president.

Mr Buhari said for the first time last year that he was ready to negotiate over the release of the girls, though he provided no further details.

Last week, Nigeria’s information minister Lai Mohammed revealed the government had nearly secured the girls’ release three times, but negotiations collapsed each time.

In its August video, Boko Haram said it was willing to release some of the girls as part of a prisoner release. The government said it would let the militants chose their preferred NGO to act as intermediary, but the group has not commented on that proposal.

Emmanuel Ogebe, an activist with the Bring Back Our Girls campaign, suggested Nigeria engage France as a negotiator in the matter. French officials have had some success helping secure the release of Boko Haram kidnapping victims in neighbouring Cameroon.

Of the 276 girls kidnapped from a single secondary school in Chibok, Borno state on the night of 14 April 2014, dozens were able to escape in the first few hours as they were being taken away in trucks.

For two years, however, almost nothing was known about their whereabouts beyond the occasional hostage videos released by the militants.

That was until May 2016, when one of the missing girls was found wondering on the edge of the Sambisa Forest by vigilantes loyal to the government.

Amina Ali said the remaining girls were still in the forest, though a number had died in the intervening years. She is currently being held in a government facility, ostensibly for counselling, though rights groups have raised concerns she may have become a detainee.

Source: independent.co.uk/news/world/africa/nigeria-requests-un-help-in-talks-with-boko-haram-to-bring-back-chibok-girls-a7323691.html

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Al-Shabab attacks Kenya police post, 3 wounded, 2 missing

September 22, 2016

NAIROBI, Kenya — A Kenyan police spokesman says two policemen are missing and three others wounded after suspected Islamic extremists attacked a police post in eastern Kenya.

George Kinoti said Thursday that more than 50 suspected members of Somalia's Islamic extremist group al-Shabab attacked the Hamey Police Camp, within Garissa County but the officers managed to repulse them. Kinoti said the attackers retreated and returned in a bigger number in a truck and fired three explosives into the camp, destroying some tents and forcing the officers to retreat.

Al-Shabab has carried out numerous attacks in Kenya since 2011 when Kenyan deployed to Somalia to fight militants. Al-Shabab, which is al-Qaida's affiliate in East Africa, has vowed retribution on Kenya for sending its troops into Somalia to fight the Islamic insurgents.

Source: stripes.com/news/middle-east/2.1198/al-shabab-attacks-kenya-police-post-3-wounded-2-missing-1.430463

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Burkina Faso a 'model of religious tolerance': Crisis Group

22 September 2016

Burkina Faso, despite suffering Islamist attacks, stands out as a "model of religious tolerance", the International Crisis Group said in a report published Thursday.

The report, entitled "Burkina Faso: Preserving the Religious Balance", stressed the prevailing tolerance created by a "deep-rooted" religious pluralism.

This is in sharp contrast to "the rising tide of religiously motivated violence in West Africa and the Sahel" region, the Brussels-based NGO said in its report.

Roch Marc Christian Kabore, President of Burkina Faso, addresses the 71st session of the United Nations General Assembly at the UN headquarters in New York on September 22, 2016 ©Dominick Reuter (AFP)

"Burkina has never suffered civil war or religious conflict. Muslims, Christians and animists are neighbours, live together and inter-marry," according to the report which was presented in the capital Ouagadougou.

Nevertheless jihadist attacks in the capital in January left 30 people dead, according to the Burkina government.

Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb claimed it was behind an assault on a top hotel and a cafe, both popular with foreigners, which also left 70 people wounded.

Those attacks "were a shock to both the general public and the ruling class," the ICG report said.

"Isolated incidents of verbal aggression against Muslims were reported in the following weeks. They revealed some degree of stigmatisation and reflected concerns that had not been present until then."

Muslims make up 60 percent of the Burkina population in the impoverished West African nation. Nineteen percent are Catholics, 15 percent animists and 4 percent protestant but religion is "only a secondary badge of identity," according to the ICG

There are few Burkinabe who do not have a friend, relative or neighbour of a different faith and it is rare for all members of a broader family to practise the same religion, the report said.

However there are frustrations among the majority Muslim community as they are "poorly represented among the political and administrative elite" compared to the Christian population.

"The resulting frustration can be dangerous. Unless the authorities start to remedy the situation, some Muslims could feel it is no longer worth talking to the government and turn to other ways of expressing themselves," the ICG warned.

Source: dailymail.co.uk/wires/afp/article-3802923/Burkina-Faso-model-religious-tolerance-Crisis-Group.html

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Southeast Asia

Prayer Sessions At Schools Should Encourage Non-Muslims To Participate

Friday, 23 September 2016

KUALA LUMPUR: An academic has proposed that prayer sessions in national schools should take into consideration the background of all the students present so that non-muslim students too could join in together with their fellow Muslim students, praying together although of different beliefs.

A retired lecturer from Universiti Teknologi Malaysia, Professor Tajuddin Rasdi, who is currently teaching in UCSI University explained there are two kinds of prayers which can be performed quietly or spoken out loud, like many do at official functions.

“It is a personal choice.

“In Indonesia, before reading the prayer, the emcee of the event can be often heard asking people of different religions to join in and say a silent prayer even if they are not of the same religion as that is the courteous thing to do,” he highlighted in a recent interview with local online news portal, FMT.

Prof. Tajuddin points out that the situation is very different in Malaysia and admits that many of us are not very comfortable acknowledging other religious faiths in public.

“But I believe, if a prayer session is included in official events, there should also be acknowledgements towards other religious faiths as well,” he said.

He also recounted how Islamic practices in this country could be divided to three phases: older historical practise of Islam that evolved from cultural roots, Islamic practices adopted in the 70s, Islam practiced in the 80s, and the present prevailing practices.

“Many senior citizens that are now over 70 or 80 years old have shared with me that social interaction among fellow Muslims were easier back then.

“However now, they said it is much more strictly regulated as in the olden days, Islam was embraced as part of local cultural practices which was eventually superseded by Islamic revival,” he explained.

Prof. Tajuddin said this revival came about after the establishment of Angkatan Belia Islam Malaysia (Abim) in 1971.

The group had not been content with just spiritual awakening but also focused on strengthening the social identity of Islamic faith.

“We realised this inward looking phase had also led to increasing isolation as it sought to instill in its followers with a distinct social identity .”

Meanwhile, Hon. Secretary-General Prematilaka Serisena of the Malaysian Consultative Council of Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Sikhism and Taoism (MCCBCHST) explained how public prayer readings used to be multi-faith and that was the norm when Tunku Abdul Rahman, Tun Razak Hussein and Tun Hussein Onn were leading the country.

“Now, multi-faith prayer sessions is no longer practiced in schools or even formal events. It has stopped since Tun Razak's era when he became the prime minister,” he observed.

Sersena also spoke on behalf of MCCBCHST in expressing hope that this practice could return because it is the most fairest and sensible approach to practice within a multiracial society.

Source:malaysiandigest.com/frontpage/29-4-tile/633441-prayer-sessions-at-schools-should-encourage-non-muslims-to-participate.html

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Indonesia Intercepts Boat Carrying 30 Tons of Ammonium Nitrate

September 23, 2016

BANGKOK – Indonesian security forces intercepted a boat Thursday that was transporting 30 tons of contraband ammonium nitrate, a chemical found in explosives used by jihadists and terrorists, according to Indonesian news agency Antara.

The vessel MV Alam Indah was headed toward the island of Sulawesi from Malaysia bearing a cargo of 1,200 sacks, Antara reported, citing sources from Bali’s customs department.

Authorities put the six crew members of the boat, which lacked the requisite cargo-related documentation, under preventive detention.

Sulawesi, particularly its central region, has been a significant hotspot of Islamic terrorism in Indonesia since violent clashes erupted between the Muslim and Christian communities in the late 20th century.

Santoso, an Indonesian militant killed in an anti-terror operation in July, founded the group Mujahidin Indonesia Timur in central Sulawesi, establishing its headquarters in the jungles of that region.

That group pledged allegiance to the Islamic State in 2014.

Authorities believe around 500 Indonesians have traveled to Syria and Iraq to join the ranks of the IS, of which 100 are believed to have returned to the Asian nation.

Indonesia, a nation of 250 million inhabitants, 88 percent of whom are Muslim, has experienced several Islamist attacks in recent years.

The deadliest struck a Bali tourist district in 2002 and killed 202 people, most of them foreigners.

Source: laht.com/article.asp?ArticleId=2421547&CategoryId=12395

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