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Islamic World News ( 6 Dec 2022, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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Hindu Mahasabha Calls For Reciting Hanuman Chalisa Inside Mosque; Mathura Put On Alert

New Age Islam News Bureau

06 December 2022


The Hindu Mahasabha had given a similar call last year but their plan was scuttled by the district administration. (Photo: ANI)


• Islamic Human Rights Commission: White Supremacist Scaremongering And An Opportunity For Muslims in UK

• Iraq: Investigative Team Reaches ‘Next Level’ In Bid To Bring Islamic Terrorists To Justice

• Islamists Manhandle Journalist for Questioning San Diego Imam About 'Hate Crime'

• Religious Violence Increases Anxiety Among Muslims And Jews: Rice University and West Virginia University



• Vote Boycott By Muslims In Gujarat Village Over Public Flogging, Officials Deny

• India’s Muslim Heritage Under Threat As Hindu Zealots Eye Taj Mahal Claim

• India Calls For Zero-Tolerance on Terror at UN Meet, as Probe Reveals IS Enslaved Christians in Iraq

• Gyanvapi Row: HC To Continue Hearing On Mosque Committee's Plea Challenging Varanasi Court Verdict On Tuesday



• 'Government not taking Islamophobia seriously,' says mosque chairman

• EU embargo of Russian oil, G7 price cap take effect

• Russia unleashes missiles but Ukraine says most shot down

• Vladimir Putin visits Crimea bridge after October blast


Arab World

• Organization Of Islamic Cooperation To Adopt Anti-Corruption Single Legal Framework

• Mohammed Bin Salman Announces Sindalah, NEOM’s First Luxury Island Development

• Saudi Arabia’s non-oil sector growth highest since September 2021 as PMI hits 58.5

• Saudi Arabia’s MASAM project clears 1,307 mines in one week in Yemen

• Saudi adventurers complete 1,200 km walk to mark UAE National Day

• On International Volunteer Day Saudi authorities highlight efforts of those who donate their time

• Saudi international forum to tackle cyberterrorism



• Israeli Army Demolishes A Mosque  in a Palestinian Village Near Hebron

• How Qatar World Cup Offers Low-Income Muslims The Umrah Opportunity

• The Brutal Militia Trained to Kill for Iran’s Islamic Regime

• Ron DeSantis: Republican rising star alarms Muslim, Palestinian communities

• Parliament condemns imposition of additional taxes on importers, bombing of Al-Ziyar Mosque in Hadramout

• Protests erupt all over Turkey against Chinese atrocities in Xinjiang


North America

• How Manchester, England Became Europe’s Secret Queer Mecca

• Taxpayer Ombudsperson goes public over impasse with CRA over Muslim charity audits

• Brussels attacks: Trial begins over 2016 attacks that killed 32


South Asia

• Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan: Taliban Court Mohammed Bin Zayed As They Seek UAE Recognition

• Unknown Gunmen Kill Muezzin and Five Members Of A Family in Northern Afghanistan Mosque during Fajr Prayers

• Roadside Bomb Kills Seven In Afghanistan's Mazar-I-Sharif

• US Representative Meets with Abdullah Abdullah and Top Indian Officials While in New Delhi

• Iranian Envoy: US Seeks to Show Afghanistan in Shambles without Its Presence

• Terrorist network in Afghanistan a matter of concern: NSA Doval

• Bangladesh eyes energy, food security cooperation after new GCC deal

• Special liquidity facility launched for Islamic banks



• Supreme Court Tells Govt To Register FIR Of Arshad Sharif’s Killing By Today

• ECP whirrs into action to remove Imran from PTI top slot

• Tanveer Ilyas slighted by Shehbaz’s ‘omission’ of Kashmiris

• Experts call for revisiting Afghan policy

• Pakistan Armed Forces Ready to Defend ‘Motherland’: General Munir



• Muslim Parliamentary Caucus Demands Release Of Sheikhs

• Muslims in Uganda protest mosque raids, arbitrary arrests

• Nigeria police search for 13 worshippers abducted from mosque


Southeast Asia

• President Sheikh Mohamed and King of Malaysia witness signing of 'historic' oil deal

• Bank Islam shares climb on 10.4 sen dividend for FY2022

• New PM Anwar says Malaysia to review plans for 5G network

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau



Hindu Mahasabha Calls For Reciting Hanuman Chalisa Inside Mosque; Mathura Put On Alert


The Hindu Mahasabha had given a similar call last year but their plan was scuttled by the district administration. (Photo: ANI)


Dec 6, 2022

By India Today Web Desk: The Uttar Pradesh Police has put up barricades and vehicle checks are being done in various places in Mathura in view of the Hindu Mahasabha's call for reciting Hanuman Chalisa inside a mosque on Tuesday.

Nearly 1,500 police, armed constabulary and paramilitary force personnel have been deployed and traffic restrictions enforced near Shri Krishna Janmasthan temple and Shahi Masjid Idgah in the temple town, officials told PTI.

On Monday, Akhil Bharat Hindu Mahasabha national treasurer Dinesh Kaushik said they would go ahead with its call for reciting Hanuman Chalisa inside the mosque.

In response, the district police chief Shailesh Pandey has asserted that "no new tradition or ritual" would be allowed.

"The orders of the Supreme Court would be followed and the implementation of prohibitory orders under Section 144 of the CrPC in letter and spirit would be ensured. Nobody will be allowed to take the law into his own hands and spoil the peace of this pilgrim city," Shailesh Pandey was quoted as saying by PTI.

The Hindu Mahasabha had given a similar call last year but their plan was scuttled by the district administration.

Source: India Today

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Islamic Human Rights Commission: White Supremacist Scaremongering And An Opportunity For Muslims in UK


5th December 2022

Faisal Bodi of the Islamic Human Rights Commission says the recently revealed census data is a mixed bag for British Muslims, confirming our socio-economic deprivation but also presenting us with an opportunity to provide a real alternative to secular liberalism.

It’s been pleasantly amusing over the last few days to see the poster boys of British bigotry crawl out of the sewer to rage at the disappearing white utopia of their warped imagination presented by the religion and ethnicity findings of the 2021 census – which confirmed a 44% rise in the Muslim population of England and Wales,

Watching Nigel Farage and Douglas Murray both decrying the growing cosmopolitanism of our major cities, you’d be forgiven for thinking that the white man was a dying species. Never one to let facts get in the way of scaremongering, Farage bemoaned that London has now become a non-white majority city – in fact it is 54% white and 46% non-white.

According to the Office of National Statistics, the overwhelming majority of cities in England and Wales remain solidly white with only two, Leicester and Birmingham, showing a non-white majority. The percentage of people identifying themselves as white has dropped only slightly from 86% to 82%.

Murray may have more of a point when he says “no one voted” for increased diversity. If, as I presume, his definition of English and Welsh people doesn’t include non-whites, the outcome of the 2016 immigration referendum that was Brexit may partially support his view. But at the same time, one of the main effects of leaving the European Union was the end of free movement which attracted millions of white immigrants into the UK. Sorry Douglas, you can’t have your gateau and eat it.

Decline of Christianity

The other finding that had white supremacists foaming at the mouth was that Christianity continues to decline. For the first time in a census of England and Wales, less than half of the population (46.2%, 27.5 million people) described themselves as “Christian,” a 13.1 percentage point decrease from 59.3% (33.3 million) in 2011 – while those following Islam jumped by over 25% to 6.5% of the population or from 2.7million to 3.9million adherents.

Together, the vertiginous decline of Christianity and the shallower decline in whiteness are the stuff of nightmares for white supremacists. They are evidence of a weakening of the indispensable components of what it means for them to be British. If they are both on the retreat then so is the monocultural idyll of their dreams. It is an existential threat, the thin end of a wedge that threatens to repaint the entire demographic and cultural landscape.

While some of the alarmist reaction is undoubtedly genuine, displaying anxieties about a loss of racial supremacy, much of it is also deliberately exaggerated to stoke prejudice and hatred. As Benali Hamdache reminds us, we should all be concerned by the mirroring and media mainstreaming of what is essentially a rehash of the Great Replacement Theory.

“This racist conspiracy, coined by the author Renaud Camus in 2011 and conceptualised in France, is the idea that there is a deliberate attempt to end the white race. White nationalists have described a growing Muslim population and lower French birth rates as a crisis.”

Scapegoating minorities has always been central to the fascists’ playbook and juxtaposing the rise of Islam alongside the decline of Christianity amplifies the narrative of a Britain under siege, even though Muslims have nothing to with the dwindling numbers of people identifying as Christian.

It’s probably not because Islam is growing that Christianity is in freefall. I would hazard a guess that most of the growth in the Muslim population can be accounted for by birth rates and immigration and much less by conversion. Christianity is on the decline because of factors intrinsic to that faith, namely disillusionment with the sex abuse scandals of the clergy and the increasing accommodation of the major churches with secular liberalism making many of their beliefs indistinguishable, as well as the rising secularisation of society.

And as always when using headline figures we should be careful about making generalisations. It is primarily the institutional churches – Anglican, Roman Catholic and Presbyterian – that are losing numbers. Non-institutional churches – Orthodox, the Pentecostals, and the smaller denominations – have all grown in Britain since the turn of the century.

The ‘Muslim penalty’

So perhaps the cheerleaders of white nativism should look at their own failings if they really want to arrest the decline of their “civilisation.” And before opening their mouths, maybe they should also recall that not too long ago their own ancestors enslaved, colonised, butchered and plundered non-white societies all around the world, forever changing their demographic character.

The progeny of these victims who now reside in the metropoles may be free but are nevertheless subject to structural iniquities. Even though the majority of British Muslims are now second and third generation descendants of migrants, many remain locked out of the opportunities and benefits that their white counterparts enjoy.

According to the ONS, 61% of Muslims in England and Wales live in the lowest 40% of areas in these countries ranked by deprivation score. Only 4% live in the least deprived 20% of England and Wales.

This confirms research published in the Ethnic and Racial Studies journal last July confirming previous studies showing Muslims to be less likely to be economically active, leading the author to conclude a “Muslim penalty” is at work in the labour market.

In most towns and cities most Muslims remain hemmed into ghettoes with little prospect of moving out. Where I live, in Preston, Muslims form approximately an eighth of the population but comprise only one twentieth of the client list of the city’s largest social housing provider despite evidence of under-provision for the community stretching back over two decades.

Even where social housing is developed in high density Muslim areas it is invariably planned with blatant disregard for the majority inhabitants, thereby rendering it unsuitable.

So while Muslims should welcome the increase in their number, I would caution against any triumphalism, not least because it risks fanning the white supremacist narrative that we are intent on taking over. It also carries the danger of complacency in addressing some of the structural problems we face in the fight for equality, not to mention the growing problem in our own community of Muslims leaving Islam under the pressures of Islamophobia and secularism.

On the other hand, the accelerating disillusionment of people in England and Wales with Christianity also presents Muslims with a huge opportunity to present Islam as an alternative to the spiritual hole that awaits them in the shape of an increasingly secular and consumerist western liberalism.

Source: 5Pillarsuk

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Iraq: Investigative Team Reaches ‘Next Level’ In Bid To Bring Islamic Terrorists To Justice


Credit: Pxl.Store / Shutterstock.Com


December 6, 2022

Providing justice for the communities impacted by the ISIL terror network in Iraq remains the key focus of the UN investigative team there, Special Adviser Christian Ritscher told the Security Council on Monday.

Highlighting the progress made by Investigative Team to Promote Accountability for Crimes Committed by Da’esh/ISIL (UNITAD), he said evidence collected and analysed, substantiated preliminary findings from his previous report.

He cited crimes committed against Christians such as enslavement and forced conversion; “notable progress” on the development and use of chemical and biological weapons; and inspections on the destruction of internationally protected cultural heritage sites.

“At this pivotal stage of our mandate, please allow me to state that my Team has now reached the next level on the path of holding ISIL perpetrators accountable for the core international crimes they committed”, he said.

Preserving evidence

He highlighted the excavation of several ISIL-related mass graves in Iraq and detailed that UNITAD has agreed with Germany to collect data and DNA reference samples from the Yazidi community residing there for a campaign to identify human remains in Iraq, “allowing survivors to eventually mourn their beloved ones”. 

“As part of this programme, psychosocial support training is provided to Iraqi authorities to ensure international best practice is maintained when dealing with victims and survivors”, said Mr. Ritscher. 

So far, his team had converted 5.5 million physical pages of documentary evidence of ISIL-related crimes into digital formats and is currently supporting digitization at six different Iraqi sites. 

Moreover, they are part of UN system-wide efforts to move forward on repatriation of nationals from camps in neighbouring countries, such as Syria. 

And UNITAD remains committed to improving information sharing with its Iraqi counterparts and has expanded arrangements with the country’s judiciary to allow sharing surrounding ISIL’s financial crimes, he told ambassadors.

Accountability for terrorists

A key goal of the investigative team is to support Iraq in holding ISIL members accountable for international crimes.

As such, it has held intensive one-week training courses for judges from across the country as well as a pilot training course on international crimes case-building with judges and prosecutors from the Kurdish Region of Iraq.

“We encourage the Iraqi Council of Representatives to consider adopting adequate domestic legislation on core international crimes, such as war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide”, said the Special Adviser, offering UNITAD’s technical assistance. 

He hoped that the recently formed government would prioritize legislation, reminding that – bound by UN policies and best practices – sharing evidence with the Iraqi judiciary for criminal proceedings can only take place once the respective legal requirements and standards are met. 

“Sharing information with the Iraqi judiciary…means a lot more than just handing over a huge box of evidentiary material that is comparable to thousands, even millions of puzzle pieces”, Mr. Ritscher said, describing it as a “means to deliver tailored assistance in accordance with the needs of the respective investigative judge or court”.

Prosecuting the guilty

UNITAD has also been supporting other Member States in their investigations and prosecutions for ISIL crimes throughout the world.

So far, he said, 17 Member States have requested assistance from the UN team, to support national prosecutions. 

“The ability of the Team to collect testimonial evidence from witnesses in direct response to these requests, combined with its capacity to identify corroborating internal ISIL documentation from battlefield evidence, has been of significant assistance in supporting investigations by national jurisdictions within these Member States”, said the senior UN official.

Avenging Yazidis 

UNITAD is also bolstering the Joint Investigation Team in surfacing evidence for prosecuting ISIL’s crimes against the Yazidi minority in 2015, when thousands endured a genocidal campaign of sexual violence and enslavement, mass executions, forced conversions and other brutal crimes. 

He explained that the team “supports this effort through focused interviews with Yazidi witnesses both in Iraq and abroad; the collection of battlefield evidence related to Yazidi enslavement networks; as well as specific searches against evidence in our holdings”. 

“This work is key in ensuring that ISIL perpetrators, those who committed such heinous international crimes are held accountable before competent courts, wherever they are”. 

Delivering justice

In closing the Special Adviser said his team was moving even more rapidly to assist in bringing alleged ISIL members to justice, “regardless of where they may reside”. 

“UNITAD will not stop to ensure that justice is delivered for the thousands of victims and survivors who have been impatiently waiting to see their day in court”, he spelled out.

Source: Eurasia Review

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Islamists Manhandle Journalist for Questioning San Diego Imam About 'Hate Crime'


San Diego Imam Uthman Ibn Farooq led attendees of the Authentic Ilm Mission conference in Aurora, Colorado, in a chant of "Allahu Akbar!" on Sunday, November 27, 2022 after refusing to reveal the identity of the person allegedly serving time in jail for stabbing him in March. (YouTube screenshot.)


December 2, 2022

Freelance journalist Ahnaf Kalam, a frequent contributor to Focus on Western Islamism (FWI), was roughly escorted out of a mosque in Aurora, Colo., on Sunday. He was removed from the mosque after asking California imam Uthman Ibn Farooq to provide the name of the person he said was serving time in jail for attacking him in San Diego in March.

Instead of responding directly to questions about the attack — which have dogged the imam for months — Ibn Farooq called Kalam a liar and led the audience in a chant of "Allahu Akbar!" before Kalam was led out of the building by Karim Abu Zaid, imam of the Colorado Muslims Community Center (CMCC) in Aurora where the confrontation took place.

"You see these Islamophobes? They come lying themselves and they accuse us," Ibn Farooq shouted in response to Kalam's queries. The confrontation took place at the end of a sparsely attended annual Authentic Ilm Mission conference featuring Daniel Haqiqatjou.

"You see these Islamophobes? They come lying themselves and they accuse us," Ibn Farooq shouted in response to Kalam's queries.

In his queries to Ibn Farooq, Kalam was following up on two articles he wrote for FWI about an alleged stabbing against the imam that reportedly took place in San Diego in March. The stabbing, which Ibn Farooq portrayed as an "Islamophobic" hate crime was publicized in Muslim news outlets throughout the world and prompted an alarmist press release from the Council on American-Islamic Relations.

In his reporting, Kalam discovered that neither the San Diego Police Department nor the local district attorney's office had any information about the attack months after it allegedly took place. A recent query to the California Attorney General has yielded similar results, indicating that if the attack did in fact take place, Ibn Farooq never reported it to the police.

FWI's coverage of the event prompted Ibn Farooq to declare that not only was he attacked, but that his alleged attacker had pleaded guilty and was currently serving time in jail for his crimes. The imam refused to provide any details about the attacker or the court proceedings that allegedly resulted in the unknown attacker's incarceration.

After Kalam's departure, a clearly-rattled Ibn Farooq went on an extended rant during which he declared that the details surrounding the attack, which he publicized in a YouTube video, were "his personal business."

After Kalam's departure, a clearly-rattled Ibn Farooq went on an extended rant.

"I have my court documents," he said. "I don't need to show them to anybody. We're going to show the documents when I want. I'm not obliged to help anybody here — for them to promote their Islamophobic ideas. These are the same people on the same websites that claim that school shootings have actors in them."

"I don't think I've ever written the words 'school shootings,' in a story in my life," Kalam said afterwards.

Source: ME Forum

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Religious Violence Increases Anxiety Among Muslims And Jews: Rice University and West Virginia University


Representative Image


by Amy McCaig, Rice University

DECEMBER 5, 2022

Fear of hate crime looms especially large in the minds of Jews and Muslims, even if they have never been personally targeted, according to a new study from Rice University and West Virginia University.

"Fear of Religious Hate Crime Victimization and the Residual Effects of Anti-Semitism and Islamophobia" appears in a recent edition of Social Forces.

Using data from the 2019 edition of the nationally representative Experiences with Religious Discrimination Study survey, the authors found that among religious groups, Jews and Muslims were most likely to express fear of being targeted. These concerns were explained in part by individuals' personal experiences with being discriminated against, but also their knowledge of discrimination against close friends and family and their greater religious visibility (that is, they are more likely to wear outward symbols of their religion).

"While individuals' fear of hate crime victimization might be partially explained by direct experiences, some of it is the result of historical and modern-day trauma suffered by religious peers," said Chris Scheitle, a professor of sociology at West Virginia University and the study's lead author.

"We attribute this residual fear to the deep-seated culture of anti-Semitism and Islamophobia within the U.S. and violence attributable to that culture, as well as the collective memory of historical religion-based victimization of Muslim and Jewish communities," said co-author Elaine Howard Ecklund, director of Rice's Boniuk Institute for the Study and Advancement of Religious Tolerance.

Scheitle and Ecklund said they hope the findings will influence public policy efforts targeting religious victimization and its impacts.

Source: PHYS

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Vote Boycott By Muslims In Gujarat Village Over Public Flogging, Officials Deny

December 06, 2022

Kheda: As many as 1,400 Muslim voters from Undhela village in Gujarat's Kheda district boycotted voting during the second phase of the state Assembly polls in protest against the public flogging of some men from the community by police two months ago, community leaders have claimed.

Poll officials have denied the claim saying there was no boycott call.

Seven persons, including a policeman, were injured when stones were thrown at a Garba event in Kheda district in October by a group allegedly comprising members of the Muslim community. They had objected to holding the event near a mosque.

Later, videos showing policemen in plain clothes beating some men, suspected to have thrown stones, with sticks in front of other villagers went viral on social media, causing an uproar.

On Monday, community leaders said all 1,400 Muslim voters of the total 3,700 voters in Undhela village, situated in Matar taluka, joined the protest and didn't exercise their franchise when polling was held across 93 Assembly seats of the state in the second phase.

"All Muslim voters from the village stayed away from the voting process as a mark of protest against the public flogging and the administration's refusal to punish the guilty," local Muslim leader Maqbul Saiyad claimed.

"We gave a boycott call to express our anger at the one-sided action by police. Till now, no policemen have been suspended for their misdeed," he said.

However, Kheda Collector KL Bachani while citing local poll officials said there was no boycott call.

"As per the Returning Officer's report, no such incident has taken place and no one has approached us with any such issues. As per our record, 43 per cent of voters did turn up in Undhela to vote today," said Mr Bachani.

Source: ND TV

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India’s Muslim heritage under threat as Hindu zealots eye Taj Mahal claim

DECEMBER 6, 2022

Pursuing the agenda of Babri mosque’s demolition 30 years ago, the Hindu zealots continue to make false claims about the historic sites, most recently the magnificent Taj Mahal, for its alleged origins to an early Hindu rule.

A recent writ petition filed by a leader of Narendra Modi’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) sought a fact-finding committee to “study the real history” of the Taj Mahal with an aim to declare the UNESCO heritage site Taj Mahal as originally a Hindu temple.

Rajneesh Singh, head of the BJP’s media relations in Ayodhya, north India, in his petition, said there was no “scientific evidence” to prove that the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan built the Taj Mahal.

Though the attempt was foiled by the Indian court, the BJP leaders over the years have been repeating and amplifying unhistorical claims that the Taj is in fact a Hindu temple, which was built much before the reign of Mughal emperor Shah Jahan.

The Hindutva driven RSS is peddling the narrative all across India against historical monuments built by Muslim rulers.

Under the BJP rule, the right-wing Hindus of RSS is pursuing a campaign that involves changing the names of cities and claiming over 36,000 mosques across India through claims that they were built over a temple. The list of cities includes Aligarh, Deoband, Farrukhabad, Badaun, Sultanpur, Ferozabad and Shahjahanpur. The UP government has already changed the name of Faizabad to Ayodhya and Allahabad to Prayagraj.

Yogi Adityanath, a close aid of Modi and the Chief Minister of UP is leading the effort to eradicate Muslim identity by renaming the names of districts and localities with Muslim background.

In 2017, Vinay Katiyar, who was then a BJP Rajya Sabha member, claimed that the monument was in fact a Shiva temple named ‘Tejo Mahalaya’, which was “originally” built by a Hindu ruler.

The recent Taj Mahal episode has refreshed the sad demolition of Babri mosque on December 6, 1992 as a black chapter in the annals of history.

The demolition led by L.K Advani, President Ram Janambhumi Movement, was part of an effort to revive BJP and RSS who claimed that it was built on the exact spot in Ayodhya where Hindu god, Lord Ram, was born.

Shriraj Nair national spokesperson for the Hindu nationalist group Vishva Hindu Parishad (sub group of RSS) said that, “”I felt very proud when the mosque was demolished. From that time onward, the word ‘Hindutva’ – or the feeling of being Hindu – came into everybody’s mind. It was a big success”.

During the second term of Modi, all accused for the Babri Masjid demolition were acquitted by a special CBI court. Despite the fact that demolition was recorded in newspapers and on video, the court said evidence was not acceptable.

However, the Babri mosque is not the only one taken over under the Hindutva ideology.

About the 17th century Gyanvapi Mosque built by Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb in Vanarsi, the right wing Hindus claim that it was built over Vishweshwar temple.

Tensions sparked in 2021 when five women filed a petition and demanded access to pray inside the mosque. The single petition has now grown to 15 separate petitions, with many calling for the mosque to be torn down and a temple built in its place. Keeping the precedence set in Babri Masjid in mind, it is highly likely that the courts under the Modi led government will give verdict in favor of the Hindus.

The Shahi Eidgah Masjid built by Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb in 1669 at Mathura, is also being claimed to have been built on Keshav Dev temple that was destroyed by the ruler during the Jat rebellion.

Right-wing Hindu groups have created a controversy over Jamia Masjid Shamsi by claiming that it was built by demolishing the temple of Neel Kanth Mahadeva.
Source: Daily Times

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India Calls For Zero-Tolerance on Terror at UN Meet, as Probe Reveals IS Enslaved Christians in Iraq

DECEMBER 06, 2022

India on Tuesday to the United Nation that terrorism continues to remain a global challenges and it will take a unified and zero-tolerance approach to defeat terror.

Addressing a meeting on Iraq, India’s permanent representative to the United Nations, Ruchira Kamboj said while Iraq continues to fight against the Islamic State of Iraq and Levant (ISIL) forces, it is necessary to fight “ the impunity of terror” on a global scale.

“Terrorism in all its forms and manifestations remains a global challenge and only a unified and zero-tolerance approach to terrorism can eventually defeat it. As the government of the people of Iraq continue their fight against Islamic State of Iraq and Levant (ISIL). It is also critical to fighting the impunity of terror globally,” Kamboj was quoted as saying by news agency ANI.

The meeting led by top UN official Special Adviser Christian Ritscher discussed providing justice to communities who were impacted firsthand when the Islamic State terrorists kept several areas of Iraq under their control.

Ritscher said the recent findings substantiated preliminary findings from his previous report and the findings were substantiated based on the evidence collected and analysed.

Ritscher said the Islamic State enslaved Iraqi Christians and conducted forced conversions. He said the team made notable progress on the probe regarding usage of ‘development and use of chemical and biological weapons’. The team also carried out inspections on the destruction of internationally protected cultural heritage sites.

In a bid to provide justice to Yazidis, the community which was among those severely affected by the ISIS rule, the Investigative Team to Promote Accountability for Crimes Committed by Da’esh/ISIL (UNITAD) will work with the German government to collect data and DNA reference samples from the Yazidi community residing there for a campaign to identify human remains in Iraq after several mass graves were found.

“As part of this programme, psychosocial support training is provided to Iraqi authorities to ensure international best practice is maintained when dealing with victims and survivors,” Ritscher said, according to UN News. He said the detailing of DNA reference samples will “allow survivors to eventually mourn their beloved ones.”
Source: News18

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Gyanvapi Row: HC To Continue Hearing On Mosque Committee's Plea Challenging Varanasi Court Verdict On Tuesday

05 DEC 2022

The Allahabad High Court will continue to hear on Tuesday a Gyanvapi masjid management's revision petition challenging a Varanasi court order on the maintainability of a plea seeking permission to offer regular prayers to idols of deities in the mosque complex.

As per the date fixed by the high court, the hearing in the case resumed on Monday. However, after a brief hearing, Justice J J Munir directed to put up this case on December 6 for further hearing.

In November 30, the high court had fixed December 5 for further hearing in the case.

The Anjuman Intezamia Masjid, the Gyanvapi mosque management committee, had challenged the Varanasi court order rejecting its objection to the maintainability of the suit filed by five Hindu women who sought permission to worship Shringar Gauri and other deities whose idols are located on an outer wall of the mosque.

The district judge of Varanasi had on September 12 dismissed the plea filed under Order 7 Rule 11 of the Civil Procedure Code.

While rejecting the mosque management committee's plea, the Varanasi district judge had observed that the suit of the plaintiffs (five Hindu women) is not barred by the Places of Worship (Special Provisions) Act, 1991, The Waqf Act 1995, and the UP Shri Kashi Vishwanath Temple Act, 1983 as was being claimed by the mosque committee.

Source: Outlook India

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'Government not taking Islamophobia seriously,' says mosque chairman

4th December

Finsbury Park Mosque’s chairman has expressed his disappointment at the government’s decision to drop plans to establish an official definition of Islamophobia.

Ahead  Islamophobia Awareness Month in November, it was reported that the government had dropped plans for a formal definition of Islamophobia - something it said in May 2019 it would adopt.

Communities secretary Michael Gove has previously spoken against a proposed definition arguing that an official definition would bring “dangers” to free speech.

Labour has criticised government inaction and the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC ) has said only that it will outline its "next steps in due course".

A DLUHC spokesperson said: “Any anti-Muslim hatred is abhorrent and we remain committed to stamping out all forms of religious prejudice. We will outline our next steps in due course.”

Mohammed Kozbar, chairman of Finsbury Park Mosque, said: “It’s really sad for the government to pull from their promises three years ago.”

According to Home Office data, 42 per cent of all hate crimes reported between 2021-2022 were targeted at Muslims. This equates to more than 3,400 incidents.

In 2020-2021, the percentage of hate crimes against Muslims was 45pc but this translates into just over 2,700 incidents.

Mr Kozbar said some Muslims fear coming to the mosque for worship, including visibly Muslim women, some of whom have been attacked.

“I know many of the members from our community are subject to Islamophobia, especially women who are vulnerable because they are the weakest link in their view,” he said.

After Boris Johnson compared Muslim women who wear the face veil to “letterboxes” in 2018, hate crime against Muslims increased by 375pc.

Mr Kozbar said tackling Islamophobia cannot fall wholly on local communities, and that it requires action at an institutional level.

He said the awareness month was an opportunity to spread awareness of Islamophobia and that the mosque encourages individuals to lobby their MPs and to write to government.

“It’s obvious that the government are not taking Islamophobia seriously," he said.

“We are not second-class citizens. We are Muslim British people. Proud of being Muslim and proud of being British.”

Source: Hackney Gazette

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EU embargo of Russian oil, G7 price cap take effect

Dec 6, 2022

MOSCOW: Europe and the US started enforcing on Monday two of the toughest measures aimed at curbing Russia’s income from oil, the principal source of cash used to fund its nearly 10-month-old war in Ukraine. The first, a price cap initiative led by the US, aims to increase economic pressure on the Kremlin while avoiding a global oil shock. The limit was set at $60 per barrel, and endorsed by the G7 countries, Australia, and the EU. The second is an embargo under which European nations will no longer be able to buy most Russian crude as of Monday. It was a step that the EU had agreed to months ago but that it phased in to prepare member nations.

Analysts and traders are skeptical about how well theprice cap will work because it may be difficult to administer and will mainly hit large customers for Russian oil like India and China. American officials have argued that they are trying to avoid a sudden contraction of supply, and the resulting spike in gasoline and heating oil prices, as the EU embargo takes hold. Russia has said it will not accept a price cap and has threatened to cut off supplies to countries that comply with the arrangement. Analysts say that Russia has been building a so-called “shadow fleet” of old tankers to export its oil and avoid the sanctions, but they are skeptical that it can assemble a large enough flotilla. If it can’t, Russia may need to begin closing down wells.

Source: Times Of India

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Russia unleashes missiles but Ukraine says most shot down

Dec 5, 2022

KYIV: Russia on Monday unleashed what Ukrainian authorities called the latest "massive missile attack" across their country, striking homes and buildings, killing civilians, and disrupting electrical power and water supplies in areas - notably in the Black Sea port city of Odesa. Ukraine's air force claimed it shot down more than 60 of the 70 missiles fired.

Russia has fired another barrage of missiles at our critical civilian infrastructure trying to deprive people of po…

Russian President Vladimir Putin, meanwhile, drove a car across a bridge linking his country to the Crimean Peninsula following its repair from a truck bombing in October that had embarrassed Moscow.

Russia responded to the bridge attack by firing waves of missiles at Ukrainian infrastructure targets in the weeks that followed, and Monday's onslaught was just the latest round of retaliatory strikes. Russia is seeking to disable Ukraine's energy supplies and infrastructure as winter approaches - part of a new strategy in its nine-month war.

The onslaught of attacks also came hours after Russian media reported two explosions at air bases inside Russia, although neither Moscow nor Kyiv immediately commented on the possible cause of the blasts.

Defiant as ever, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy praised his military forces and the technicians who snapped into action to repair the damage.

"Air defense shot down most of the missiles," he said in brief comments on social media. "Power engineers have already started to restore electricity. Our people never give up."

Ukraine's air force said early indications showed Russian forces fired 38 cruise missiles from carriers in the Caspian Sea and from the southern Russian region of Rostov. Another 22 Kalibr cruise missiles were fired from its Black Sea fleet, and kong-range bombers, fighter jets and guided missiles were also involved, it said.

"In total, more than 60 invaders' missiles were shot down!" the air force said on its Telegram channel.

Ukraine's electricity provider, Ukrenergo, lashed out at Russia over "the eighth massive missile attack by a terrorist country," saying its facilities had been hit, triggering blackouts. It urged residents to stay in shelters as its crews tried to repair the damage.

In the capital of Kyiv, scores of people quickly filled the central Zoloti Vorota metro station after the warnings, and many checked their phones for updates. There were no immediate signs of whether the city or the surrounding region was hit.

Air raid sirens sounded across the country. Ukrainian media reported explosions in several parts of the country south of Kyiv, including Cherkasy, Kryvyi Rih and Odesa. Officials said water, electricity and central heating was cut to many parts of Odesa.

"The enemy is again attacking the territory of Ukraine with missiles!" Kyrylo Tymoshenko, the deputy head of the Ukrainian president's office, wrote on Telegram.

Tymoshenko said two people were killed and three others injured - including a 22-month-old child - in the village of Novosofiyivka in the southern Zaporizhzhya region.

In neighboring Moldova, the Interior Ministry said on its Facebook page that border patrol officers had found a rocket in an orchard near the northern city of Briceni near Ukraine.

Emergency services, including a bomb squad. were sent to the scene. Controls in the vicinity have also been tightened, the ministry said. It was not immediately clear when the rocket may have landed or who fired it.

Moldovan Prime Minister Natalia Gavrilita stopped short of saying when the missile might have fallen but cautioned that "a new wave of missile attacks is taking place in Ukraine, which has direct consequences for our country." She warned that Moldova could suffer further power outages in the new Russian strikes.

Earlier Monday, Russian media reported an explosion at a base in Ryazan, in western Russia. The RIA Novosti news agency said three servicemen were killed and six were injured and a plane damaged when a fuel truck exploded.

Separately, authorities in the Saratov region along the Volga River said they were checking reports about an explosion in the area of the Engels air base, which houses Tu-95 and Tu-160 strategic bombers capable of carrying nuclear weapons.

Saratov regional Gov. Roman Busargin said there was no damage to civilian facilities.

Regional media reported sounds of a powerful explosion near the Engels base, and some residents were quoted as saying they saw a flash of light coming from the area.

Asked whether Putin had been briefed on the Engels base explosion, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said simply the president was regularly informed of ongoing developments.

Putin's drive across the bridge over the Kerch Strait was an important sign that Russia was able to recover from setbacks and repair the span quickly after the Oct. 8 truck bomb that severed a key link from Crimea to the mainland. He also spoke to workers and discussed the repairs with a senior government official responsible for the project.

Putin had inaugurated the bridge in a highly symbolic move after the annexation of Crimea in 2014.

Zelenskyy's office said three rocket strikes hit his hometown of Kryvyi Rih in south-central Ukraine, killing a factory worker and injuring three others. In the northeastern region of Kharkiv, a person was killed in strikes by S-300 missiles on civilian infrastructure in the town of Kupyansk, it said.

The war that began with Russia's invasion of Ukraine on Feb. 24 has displaced millions from their homes, killed and injured tens of thousands of people and shaken the world economy - notably through the fallout on the prices and availability of food, fertilizer and fuel that are key exports from Ukraine and Russia.

Western countries Monday imposed a $60-per-barrel price cap and a ban on some types of Russian oil, part of new measures aimed at stepping up pressure on Moscow over the war.

The move has prompted a rejection from the Kremlin and also criticism from Zelenskyy - whose government wants the cap to be half as high.

Russian Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Novak, who is in charge of energy issues, warned in televised comments Sunday that Russia won't sell its oil to countries that try to apply the price cap.

"We will only sell oil and oil products to the countries that will work with us on market terms, even if we have to reduce output to some extent," Novak said hours before the price cap took effect.

The 27-country European bloc also imposed an embargo on Russian oil shipped by sea.

Russia, the world's No. 2 oil producer, relies on oil and gas to underpin its economy, which has already come under sweeping international sanctions over the war.

In recent weeks, Russia has been pounding Ukrainian infrastructure - including power plants - with military strikes and keeping an offensive going in the east, notably in and around the town of Bakhmut.

Source: Times Of India

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Vladimir Putin visits Crimea bridge after October blast

Dec 5, 2022

MOSCOW: President Vladimir Putin on Monday visited a bridge that links Moscow-annexed Crimea to the Russian mainland weeks after the vital link was hit by a blast, images on state television showed.

It was the closest the 70-year-old Russian leader has come to the frontline in Ukraine, after sending troops to the pro-Western country on February 24.

Putin drove a Mercedes across the bridge as Russia re-opened it to traffic following an October blast Moscow blamed on Ukraine.

The Kremlin chief also heard a report from Deputy Prime Minister Marat Khusnullin about repair work on the bridge and spoke to construction workers.

In October, the Kerch bridge was partially destroyed in an attack attributed to Ukraine by Moscow.

After suffering humiliating military defeats on the ground in Ukraine, Russia began targeting Ukrainian energy infrastructure in October, causing sweeping blackouts.

Source: Times Of India

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Arab World


Organization of Islamic Cooperation to adopt anti-corruption single legal framework

December 06, 2022

JEDDAH: The Organization of Islamic Cooperation has begun preparing for its ministerial meeting later this month where it is expected to adopt a single legal framework for combating corruption in member states.

The OIC’s senior staff held a preparatory meeting on Monday at the secretariat’s headquarters for discussions on the adoption of the Makkah Agreement for law enforcement measures.

In a speech on behalf of OIC Secretary-General Hissein Brahim Taha, the organization’s Assistant Secretary-General for Political Affairs Yousef Al-Dobeay thanked Saudi Arabia — chair of the Islamic Summit — for its initiative to host the ministerial meeting on Dec. 20 and 21.

Al-Dobeay, reading Taha’s speech, praised King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman for the Kingdom’s support of the OIC.

The ministerial meeting would adopt the final version of the draft of the Makkah Agreement for anti-corruption law enforcement agencies in OIC member states, he said.

He said the framework would be a significant step in constructing the construction of the OIC’s legal system and help reduce corruption in member states. This crime continues to have a negative social, economic and security impact on OIC nations around the world, he added.

Source: Arab News

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Mohammed Bin Salman Announces Sindalah, NEOM’s First Luxury Island Development

December 05, 2022

RIYADH: NEOM’s first luxury island destination Sindalah will play host to superyachts and top-end apartments, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman revealed as he announced the latest project set to boost Saudi Arabia’s tourism industry.

Extending over an area of approximately 840,000sq. m., Sindalah is one of a group of islands that will be developed in the giga-project, and is expected to create 3,500 jobs for the tourism sector and hospitality and leisure services.

The island will act as a main gateway to the Red Sea, offering bespoke nautical experiences and is expected to start welcoming guests from early 2024, according to the Saudi Press Agency.

The Crown Prince said: “This is another significant moment for NEOM and a major step in the Kingdom realizing its tourism ambitions under Vision 2030.

“Sindalah will be NEOM’s first luxury island and yacht club destination in the Red Sea, providing a scenic gateway to the Red Sea that will become the region’s most exciting and attractive tourism location.

“It will be a destination where travellers can experience the true beauty of NEOM and Saudi Arabia, above and below the water, making Sindalah the future of luxury travel.”

Speaking to Arab News, Chris Newman, executive director of hotel development at NEOM, set out the range of events and activates that the island will see once it has opened.

"Sindalah expects to host sophisticated cultural events, grand sporting spectacles and glamorous social celebrations throughout the year," he said, adding "There will be a year-round calendar of imaginative experiences, curated across various seasons."

These will include a social season from December to February which will offer guests access to exclusive music concerts, art and culture events, hosted in inspiring creative venues.

The 'Glamour season' will run from March to May, and then from October and November, and will coinciding with the peak yachting event season. Guests will enjoy exclusive access to concerts, fashion and culinary festivals as part of the glamour season.

The active season from June to September will offer guests a range of family-friendly beach and recreational activities.

"Sindalah is one of many islands in NEOM. There are additional islands in development, and we will make the announcements in due course as more information becomes available," Newman added/

Mohammed bin Salman, who is also the chairman of NEOM’s Board of Directors, said the launch of Sindalah is a major step in realizing the Kingdom’s tourism ambitions, in line with the goals outlined in Vision 2030.

Sindalah will have an 86-berth marina, as well as hosting 413 ultra-premium hotel rooms, in addition to 333 top-end serviced apartments.

Other attractions in Sindalah include a luxe beach club, yacht club and 38 unique culinary offerings that will provide an incomparable experience in the Red Sea.

Sindalah is also expected to become a popular golfing destination by offering enthusiasts the opportunity to experience a world-class 6,474-yard (5,920 meters) par 70 course. With its 18 tees, the Sindalah golf course will deliver two unique nine-hole experiences.

NEOM, the $500 billion smart city, is one of the most important projects supporting Saudi Arabia’s national tourism strategy, as the Kingdom steadily diversifies its economy which was heavily dependent on oil for decades.

In November, speaking at the World Travel and Tourism Council Global Summit, Nadhmi Al-Nasr, CEO of NEOM said that the hanging stadiums in the smart city will make tourists reimagine and visualize the future.

“In The Line, we want people to come and see how sports stadiums are built, and where they are built. The sports stadiums in NEOM are 300 meter high, loose and hanging in the air,” said Al-Nasr.

He also added that OXAGON, the industrial city in NEOM also has all the potential to become a world-class tourist destination, where visitors can come and see how the future will be.

Source: Arab News

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Saudi Arabia’s non-oil sector growth highest since September 2021 as PMI hits 58.5


December 05, 2022

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s Purchasing Managers’ Index hit 58.5 in November — the strongest level since September 2021 — as the Kingdom’s non-oil private sector continues to expand amid rising inflationary pressure, according to a report.

The latest Riyad Bank Saudi Arabia PMI report noted that the Kingdom has maintained growth in the non-oil private sector for the 27th consecutive month.

In October, Saudi Arabia’s PMI was 57.2, while in September, it was 56.6.

According to the index, released by S&P Global, readings above the 50 mark show growth, while those below 50 signal contraction.

“The Saudi economy (continued) its expansion in the non-oil sector in November, business conditions have improved across the board in light of rising demand,” said Naif Al-Ghaith, chief economist at Riyad Bank.

Al-Ghaith added that output levels in the Kingdom’s non-oil sector have expanded at the fastest rate in seven years, driving cost pressures higher, and resulting in increased prices charged to customers.

He added: “Improved business expectations were also observed as a result of the ongoing execution of Vision 2030 initiatives, which provided confidence to the outlook of the future output of the non-oil activities.”

According to the report, the rate of sales growth of non-oil companies picked up by the sharpest level in over a year in November, as over 41 percent of surveyed businesses reported an increase from the prior month.

The report further noted that these companies saw the quickest rise in new export business since November 2015, due to strong domestic conditions.

The PMI report also hinted at the uptick in input cost inflation during November, with average input prices rising sharply and at the quickest pace since July.

“The faster pace of cost inflation led to a solid and quicker increase in output charges, as firms looked to pass through higher expenses to their customers,” the report added.

The report further pointed out that output prices rose in the manufacturing, wholesale & retail and services sectors, while it fell in the construction industry.

Source: Arab News

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Saudi Arabia’s MASAM project clears 1,307 mines in one week in Yemen

December 06, 2022

RIYADH: A total of 1,307 mines planted by the Iran-backed Houthi militia across Yemen were dismantled in one week under King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Center’s (KSrelief) Masam project.

The extraction, which took place at the end of November, included 20 anti-personnel mines, 113 anti-tank mines, 1,170 unexploded ordnance, and four explosive devices, state news agency (SPA) reported.

Since its launch in 2018, the landmine clearance project has removed over 375,000 mines from Yemeni lands.

Source: Arab News

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Saudi adventurers complete 1,200 km walk to mark UAE National Day

December 05, 2022

JEDDAH: Two Saudi adventurers have arrived in Abu Dhabi after walking for 30 days to celebrate the 51st UAE National Day.

Thirty-two-year-old Naif Shukri and his nephew Abdul Ellah Shukri, 19, started their trek from Riyadh passing through Al-Ahsa and Al-Hofuf before arriving at the UAE border, a journey of 1,200 kilometers.

Naif told Arab News that the walk had been “another accomplishment” after he previously completed more than 4 billion steps, covering 4,000 km on foot, through nine treks taking in NEOM, Makkah, Abha, Madinah, and AlUla.

He said: “Our journey titled, the Saudi is Emirati and the Emirati is Saudi, has several goals, but the most notable was the participation with Emirati brothers in their UAE National Day. It was a way to express our love and affection to the Emirati people.”

He broadcasted his trip on social media and was amazed by the interaction from Emiratis many of whom were waiting to greet the duo on the UAE border.

On Dec. 1, followers, supporters, and friends gathered at Bani Yas as Naif sent pictures of himself and his nephew holding the Saudi and UAE flag and another showing them arriving in the UAE.

Source: Arab News

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On International Volunteer Day Saudi authorities highlight efforts of those who donate their time

December 05, 2022

RIYADH: In honor of the UN’s International Volunteer Day 2022 on Monday, Riyadh’s General Administration of Education staged a special event at its headquarters in the city.

At the Saudi and International Volunteer Exhibition, the slogan for which is “Giving of a Nation,” government and private agencies provided details of the opportunities for voluntary work they offer to all involved in education in Riyadh, students and staff, including 24 initiatives offered through the National Volunteer Platform.

The Saudi Press Agency reported that the exhibition is part of official efforts to encourage and enhance a culture of voluntary work in the educational community with the primary goal of reaching a total of 1 million volunteers. Authorities aim to achieve this by providing an appropriate environment that encourages the development of the voluntary sector, motivates people involved in education to volunteer, and increases the opportunities to do so.

The exhibition included information about the types of projects and the work they do, along with a “Team” pavilion highlighting the connection between the aspirations of the Saudi people and community-volunteer activities offered by schools and women’s charities.

In addition to displays by government agencies, the exhibition included information from nonprofit organizations such as Al-Waleed Philanthropies and the World Organization of the Scout Movement about their work as part of the wider effort to build capacity and increase the scale of the Saudi volunteer sector by 47 percent within a decade.

According to the organizations, nearly half a million people in the Kingdom last year donated their time and effort to voluntary community service, and their work helped to provide social safety nets for vulnerable groups and address global challenges such climate change, access to education and the promotion of gender equality.

Volunteers in the country are provided with training and other programs in line with national values to ensure the quality of voluntary work and efficiently harness the energies of communities, officials said.

According to Al-Waleed and WOSM, their volunteer programs have forged links and partnerships with universities across the Kingdom. Among their activities is a collaboration with Princess Nourah bint Abdulrahman University, Imam Abdulrahman Bin Faisal University, and King Khalid University to empower the next generation of volunteer leaders through scouting. It aims to encourage 500 Rover Scouts to volunteer for efforts to help 100,000 young people, and more universities are expected to join the initiative the near future.

The Athar Health Volunteering Society marked International Volunteer Day, the theme of which this year is “Solidarity Through Volunteering,” by highlighting its recent achievements. It said it aims to promote a culture of volunteering through its provision of health-awareness, educational and support services through community partnerships.

Sultan Al-Zahrani, the society’s secretary-general, said that it implemented numerous initiatives this year with the help of more than 20,000 volunteers. In addition to thus a further 3,000 volunteers donated 50,000 hours of work to other activities, the economic value of which was estimated to be more than SR6 million ($1.6 million).

Athar said it is working with partner organizations with the goals of achieving 1 million volunteers and increasing the non-profit sector’s contribution to the Kingdom’s gross domestic product by more than five percent, according to SPA.

The Saudi Ministry of Environment, Water and Agriculture celebrated International Volunteer Day the presence of Deputy Minister Mansour Al-Mashaiti.

The deputy of the ministry’s Department for Beneficiary Service and Branch Affairs, Ghanim Al-Jathan, said that this year it offered 2,500 voluntary opportunities in which more than 22,700 people took part. The general manager of the ministry’s General Department of Non-Profit Sector Organizations, Khaled Al-Mejlad, said it offered 6,000 volunteer opportunities in which 49,000 people took part. This amounted to 2.5 million volunteer hours and an economic return exceeding SR8 million.

Meanwhile, during a ceremony honoring the voluntary efforts of government organizations, charities and individuals, Prince Fahad bin Sultan bin Abdulaziz, the governor of Tabuk, announced the establishment of a volunteer unit in the region.

“In recent years, there has been a remarkable and blessed activity for volunteer work in all regions, especially Tabuk, which makes us optimistic that the future will be better,” he said.

“On this occasion, we are pleased in the Emirate of Tabuk to announce the establishment of a special unit for volunteering, and it will provide support for everyone who wants to contribute to volunteer work and help direct and guide them.”

Source: Arab News

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Saudi international forum to tackle cyberterrorism

December 06, 2022

MADINAH: Experts from around the world will on Tuesday gather in Saudi Arabia for a three-day meeting aimed at tackling cyberterrorism.

The Islamic University of Madinah will host the Cyberterrorism International Conference at which delegates will discuss ways to combat the issue.

University president, Prince Dr. Mamdouh bin Saud bin Thunayan, said the event sought to highlight the Kingdom’s efforts to fight digital attacks on computers and system networks.

He pointed out that the forum would also consider the latest threats and prevention methods and ongoing international efforts to deal with the problem.

Source: Arab News

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Israeli Army Demolishes A Mosque  in a Palestinian Village Near Hebron

DEC 5, 2022

On Monday, Israeli soldiers demolished a mosque in a Palestinian village near Hebron, in the southern part of the occupied West Bank.

Media sources said several military vehicles and bulldozers invaded the Khallet Taha village in Doura town, southwest of Hebron, and surrounded the area of a local mosque.

The sources added that the soldiers demolished the local Rasoul Allah Mosque (The Prophet of God Mosque), roughly about 100 square meters.

Khallet Taha is one of the several areas in Hebron targeted by illegal Israeli colonialist activities, especially since Israel is trying to annex 3000 Dunams of Palestinian lands to expand the illegal Nagihot colony, built on stolen Palestinian lands.

All of Israel’s colonies in the occupied West Bank, including those in and around occupied East Jerusalem, are illegal under International Law, the Fourth Geneva Convention in addition to various United Nations and Security Council resolutions. They also constitute war crimes under International Law.

Source: Imemc

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How Qatar World Cup offers low-income Muslims the Umrah opportunity


Armed with the mandatory Hayya card, many World Cup 2022 visitors are taking advantage of a Saudi government scheme that allows hassle-free pilgrimage to Islam’s holiest site.

Mohammed Abdullah decided to travel to Qatar from his hometown Sidi Bel Abbès in northwestern Algeria, early in November.

Although the 29-year-old Abdullah bought Qatar 2022 World Cup tickets, he skipped the sporting event and instead made a detour to Mecca, one of Islam's holiest sites.

“My target was to get to Saudi Arabia from Qatar and perform Umrah. I set my goal from the day I first read that Saudi Arabia was offering free Umrah pilgrimage visas to holders of the Hayya card,” he tells TRT World, referring to the photo-identity document given to fans attending the 2022 World Cup.

A ticket to at least one World Cup match is a prerequisite to acquiring a Hayya card.

Abdullah says he “didn’t hesitate even if I was short on my budget. I just wanted to get to Qatar to start my journey” for Umrah, the year-round pilgrimage to Mecca and Medina.

The annual Hajj is different and takes place once annually.

With the card, entry to Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Oman and the United Arab Emirates is visa-free.

Hitch-hiked on Salwa Road

It also allows visitors entry to the stadiums and free access to metro and bus transportation services on match days.

International fans attending the tournament can invite up to three non-ticketed fans. With that exception in mind, Abdullah called one of his friends and asked if he could invite him to Qatar as a non-ticketed fan.

“He agreed and added my name under his Hayya card,” Abdullah says.

He explains that going through an Umrah pilgrimage agency in Algeria could cost a minimum of $1,000, excluding food and other expenses.

With a Hayya card, the total estimated cost was about $500.

On December 1, Abdullah landed in the Qatari capital of Doha. He spent the night at his friend’s house and embarked on his journey the next morning.

Although prior entry to Qatar with a Hayya card is not mandatory to enter Saudi Arabia, Abdullah still took that route as tickets to Doha were cheaper from Algiers.

He hitch-hiked on the Salwa Road, from the Qatar-Saudi border, to al Hofuf in the eastern province of Saudi Arabia, a distance of about 590 km.

“I then took a bus to Mecca from al Hofuf. I was still not tired and determined as ever to see the sight of Kaaba [Islam’s holiest shrine, at the Grand Mosque in the holy Muslim city of Mecca],” he said over the phone during a break in his journey.

Eight hours later, Abdullah found himself in Mecca.

“The journey was not easy on a tight budget, but the result was amazing.”

Ahashanuzzaman Shujan, a Bangladeshi national, also performed Umrah during his stay in Qatar for the World Cup. He also went to Dubai with his Hayya card.

“I bought two tickets for football matches on November 28 and December 2. So I had a three-day gap in between to travel to Saudi Arabia [by air] and perform Umrah,” he tells TRT World.

It takes up to two hours by flight and 14 hours by road to get to Saudi Arabia from Qatar.

It costs up to $2,400 to perform Umrah from Bangladesh, according to Shujan. But he paid only $150 for the pilgrimage, excluding the airfare from Doha to Jeddah, which was approximately $200.

“It has been an unforgettable journey. I got to witness the World Cup, watch the best matches and hop on from one middle eastern country to another,” Shujan tells TRT World.

“But performing Umrah so easily and budget-friendly tops it all. It was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”

Source: TRT World

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The Brutal Militia Trained to Kill for Iran’s Islamic Regime


DECEMBER 5, 2022

early a dozen weeks into the Iranian people’s anti-government revolt, human rights activists say the death toll has risen to over 400 people—including 60 children—while thousands more remain in detention. Most have been imprisoned, injured, and killed by a diehard group trained by the regime to stifle dissent at all costs.

Daily accounts of brutal crackdowns by the state against its own citizens, tragic killings of individuals, baseless detentions, as well as a series of recurring forced confessions—as practiced by the regime—have further enraged the millions of Iranians who continue to risk their lives for change. Only a handful of protestors—mainly high-profile individuals—have been released on bail in recent days, in an effort to serve the regime’s propaganda.

In addition to other armed forces of the Iranian government, much of the violence carried out against protesters is orchestrated by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC).

Known in Farsi as “Sepah e Pasdaran e Enghelab e Eslami,” which translates to the “legion of the guardians of the Islamic Revolution,” the IRGC is one the most powerful, diversified, and heavily-militarized prongs of Islamic Regime’s Armed Forces. This powerful entity reports directly to the country’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei and has been sanctioned by the U,S. and others as a terrorist group. The group is weaponized with its own naval, aerospace, intelligence, ground, and foreign forces (Quds), along with its own militia—the parliamentary volunteers known as Basij, whose unrestricted presence in all aspects of the Iranian society remains a profound source of disquiet and rancor among Iranian citizens.

The IRGC was established in 1979 by the founder of the Islamic Republic, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, with the aim of creating an army of religiously-charged devotees whose sole mission would be to protect the “values” and “ideology” of the “Islamic revolution” from both domestic and foreign threats. Over time, however, the IRGC managed to evolve into both a political and commercial force, growing its grip within the country’s most powerful conglomerates and industries—including oil and gas—and a piercing influence in much of the country’s political affairs.

But at its core, the entity has not forsaken its mission of safeguarding a “revolution” that is now supported only by a slender minority, many of whom are influenced by ideology.

“They are armed, ideologically brainwashed, and easily mobilized,” says a political science student in Tehran who has had multiple encounters with the group. “The Basij is one of the mightiest and most sophisticated creations of the Islamic regime.” He added that the regime’s deeply-rooted manipulation of both men and women has created a “low-cost” yet extremely “effective” defense apparatus.

“When you produce your army through a rock-hard ideology that’s so deeply planted in their minds, entwined in every aspect of their lives, and present in the whole of their identity, then you know that you have an invincible force—a concrete wall that encompasses their entire being that cannot ever be broken,” said the student, who asked not to be named for his own security.

And when Iranians take to the streets—as they have in more than 130 cities across the nation since the Sept. 16 death of 22-year-old Masah Jina Amini while in the custody of the much loathed morality police—their numbers are supplemented by non-believing thugs as well as opportunist individuals (known as plainclothes forces) whose commitment does not necessarily stem from devout ideological beliefs, but rather from professional, political and financial gains by way of association.

Over the weekend, in what’s widely regarded as yet another publicity stunt by the Iranian regime, Iran’s head of Judiciary announced ambiguous remarks regarding the “shutting down” of the notorious morality police that over the years have been renamed and rebranded by the regime. This is while no other government officials – according to the official Islamic Republic Broadcasting – have yet confirmed the annulment of this establishment.

Meanwhile, it is a widely known fact that while such diehard revolutionaries are relatively small in number, they are extremely powerful in force. The individuals TIME spoke with for this piece estimate the group makes up roughly 10% of Iran’s 83 million population—an approximate 8 million devotees whose entire existence is defined in this regime.

Some of these crusaders are criminals who join the forces to have their sentences reduced. Others are opportunist embezzlers who continue to whip up a fortune through their loyalty to this system that has enabled them to score some of the largest commercial, industrial, and petroleum deals, and have a hand in many lucrative dealings within the public and the private sector. Over the years, much of this wealth has further increased as a result of a bankrupt economy due to western sanctions topped with domestic corruption and lack of a regulatory system. This is while so many of the children and family members of these high ranking regime insiders and IRGC officials are spending their fortune overseas–including in the U.S., UK, and Canada.

In the aftermath of the much-contested Iranian presidential election in 2009, the regime brutally and swiftly contained peaceful protests in support of “reformist candidates,” in what became known as the “green movement.” While never confirmed, many in Iran believe that at the time the regime used its regional influence to line up paramilitary forces from Lebanon, Iraq, and Syria to boost attacks against its own people–a practice that to this day is believed to be utilized by the IRGC in containing dissent at home.

At the time General Hossein Hamedani himself—the IRGC commander killed in Syria in 2015 —was responsible for using such forces in stifling the 2009 protests. In his last interview, he confirmed the presence of 45 thousand Basij forces in Tehran as well as thousands of “hooligans and vigilantes” that were kept in safe houses until let out by his command.

“I’ve heard some of these security forces speak Arabic and some who have spoken Farsi with a strange accent.” explained Sara, a 36-year-old Iranian woman, who requested a pseudonym for safety concerns. Sara grew up in an ultra-religious family. While her own parents did not work for the government, they would associate with IRGC family members by way of religious gatherings and government-organized events. When she was in her early 20s and recently divorced, Sara recalls being recruited to join the morality policy forces outside of Tehran.

“I was desperate to make money,” she says, explaining how a friend (whose family was part of the Guards) recommended her to a local mosque to join their Basij. “I said no. I knew right then and there that I didn’t want to be part of that system. As religious as I was, I knew this is not the Islam I practice—no matter the price tag.”

Today, she has let go of her long black veil, known as a chador, and in many ways has abandoned her family who for the longest time kept her in an isolated and confined community of like-minded revolutionaries. She is a single mom of a 15-year-old raising her son and working as an aesthetician in Tehran.

In a fight that in more ways than one is led by Iranian women, what’s perhaps least comprehensible is the ideology of female Basij forces. “This is a sentence I’ve heard over and over from these women: They believe that women are created to give birth and raise zealots—soldiers of Islam,” Sara says, recalling how on numerous occasions she had seen women whose Sepahi and Basij husbands would drop them off at religious events, and then leave with another woman.”

In a recent conversation with a young woman who was held in custody of the Basij for 48 hours after being detained in the protests, Sarah saw her rage and anger firsthand.

“She couldn’t speak for days.” Sara explained how the woman was hung from her hands with a metal ring around her neck. She believes that the woman’s short-lived prison experience was only due to the result of her family’s government connections.

“She was so sick for a few days that we thought she’d been raped. However, she told us that she ‘wished she was,’” underscoring the severe mental and psychological trauma inflicted on the woman. “She told us how the men would come to her and tell her, in detail, all about the other girls they’ve arrested and how each night they pick their favorites.”

But for Sara, none of this comes as a surprise.

“Their minds are sick. They get happy from hurting you and believe that if they can’t have something; you can’t have it either. They believe if the regime is being harsh, it is because they know better,” she explains, adding that the religion they practice is nothing close to the real Islam. “This is not what so many faithful Iranians believe in. This is all propaganda and lies—all guised as their version of Islam.”

Sara and so many other Iranians are hopeful. But even more, they are fatigued, fighting what seems to be an impenetrable force.


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Ron DeSantis: Republican rising star alarms Muslim, Palestinian communities

By Umar A Farooq in Washington

5 December 2022

In 2006, after being promoted to lieutenant in the US Navy, Ron DeSantis headed to Guantanamo Bay where he spent several months as an attorney making sure the detainees received rights afforded under Pentagon regulations, as well as under the Geneva Conventions.

Not much is officially known about his time at the prison, which at its peak held nearly 800 Muslim men that were captured as part of the US-led war on terror.

But a recent interview from a former Guantanamo detainee helped shed some light on DeSantis' time there. Mansoor Adayfi said in a podcast with the Empire Files that while he was being force-fed at the prison, he saw DeSantis laughing.

'A presidential run of such a man as a GOP candidate would send a very negative message'

- Osama Abuirshaid, American Muslims for Palestine

"Ron DeSantis was there watching us," Adayfi said.

Middle East Eye reached out to another former detainee who said he could not remember whether or not he met DeSantis during his time there. A defence attorney told MEE that he had met DeSantis once while at Guantanamo, but said the meeting was "unremarkable".

MEE also reached out to DeSantis' press office for comment about his time at Guantanamo, but did not receive a response by the time of publication.

After serving in Iraq and then working at Guantanamo, DeSantis went on to pursue a political career that has in part been defined by leading legislation targeting Muslim and Palestinian communities.

And now, DeSantis' political stock has risen after he won a landslide reelection for governor this past November during the midterm elections, beating his opponent by nearly 20 points.

As the Florida governor floats a potential 2024 bid for president, which would mean a face-off against former President Donald Trump, Muslims and Palestinians are worried about what that would mean for their communities.

"A presidential run of such a man as a GOP candidate would send a very negative message, not only to American Muslims but to all minorities in this country," Osama Abuirshaid, executive director of American Muslims for Palestine, told MEE.

"The core of this message is that the Republican Party still represents an incubator of racism, intolerance, and Islamophobia, and that this party does not respect the values of equality for all citizens."

MEE reached out to the governor's press office for comment but did not receive a response by the time of publication.

Muslims in the crosshairs

DeSantis was elected to Congress in 2013, where he represented the 6th district of Florida. There, he co-sponsored a number of bills that targeted Muslim communities inside and outside the country.

On two occasions he co-sponsored unsuccessful legislation that sought to designate the Muslim Brotherhood as a terrorist group, a move that Muslim Americans see as an attempt to vilify the faith community, cripple civil society, and a designation that would feed into the Islamophobia industry.

"It is clear that the [Muslim] Brotherhood constitutes a real threat to the national security interests of the United States," he said during a House hearing in 2018.

The then-congressman was also the lead author of a bill introduced in 2015 that sought to ban the entry of immigrants from Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Syria, Yemen - all Muslim-majority countries.

The bill, titled the Terrorist Refugee Infiltration Prevention Act of 2015, never passed out of committee. However, several years later, former President Donald Trump introduced his own Muslim ban, which included all of the countries named in DeSantis' bill, but added two more in its first iteration: Iran and Sudan.

The governor also has links to a number of figures and groups that have a history of vilifying Muslims, including ACT for America, which has been designated an anti-Muslim hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center.

Founded in 2007, ACT for America promotes itself as the “largest national security grassroots organization”. The group has built a reputation for lobbying state legislators to implement anti-Muslim legislation and has referred to Islam as “Islamofascism.”

According to a report by the Florida Center for Investigative Reporting, DeSantis gave an address to the group in October 2017. Naples Daily News, a local newspaper in Florida, also found that DeSantis accepted a paid trip to a conference hosted by the David Horowitz Freedom Center, which also featured a speaker who suggested the killing of Muslims.

"He's working with groups that are working against our community. So for example, this organisation called Act for America, they do a lot of work to undermine Muslim activism," Nadia B Ahmad, a law professor in Orlando, grassroots organiser, and a 2020 Democratic National Committee delegate for Florida, told MEE.

"Any activism by Muslims in the US, they really target that, including organisations like the Council for American-Islamic Relations and other groups."

And DeSantis is also opposed to the closure of Guantanamo, signing legislation that would prevent any US administration from doing so.

While leading a 2017 House committee hearing on "Combatting Homegrown Extremism", DeSantis said: "Radical Islamic extremism is the primary driver of this problem and deserves the government’s immediate attention."

He also said that the Obama-era Countering Violent Extremism (CVE) programme, which has been heavily criticised by civil liberties groups as unfairly targeting Muslim communities, was not going far enough and was "missing opportunities to identify and disrupt terrorist plots".

Targeting Muslim charities

DeSantis also spent his time in Congress targeting Muslim charities in the US.

In 2017, he drafted an amendment to a spending bill that would cut funding to Islamic Relief Worldwide, a well-known charity that has partnerships with a number of US and international agencies including USAID, the UN Development Fund, and the World Food Progamme, among others.

In the 2018 hearing where DeSantis discussed the Muslim Brotherhood, the lawmaker also used his opening statement to raise concerns about "terrorist" funding through the use of charities in the US.

In response to that statement, the Charities and Security Network sent a letter to DeSantis issuing concerns that his "hearing gave the impression that Muslim NPOs are to be targeted based on their ethnic and/or religious associations, rather than on conduct that threatens national security".

US charities funnelled more than $105m to 'anti-Muslim' groups, new report claims

Read More »

"I don't think it's so much directed at DeSantis the person as much as it is, for us, the themes themselves that are troublesome," Paul Carrol, the current director of the Charity and Security Network, told MEE.

"The problems of perspective, of misinformation, of treatment of charities and individuals simply because of their faith or their affiliation is what we are here to fight against."

Carrol said that DeSantis' targeting of Muslim charities builds on the work done by other NGOs that are "staunch supporters of the Israeli government".

"What is clear is that there were legitimate civil society actors in Palestine and Israel that worked on themes that are targeted by organisations aligned with Israel's government," he said.

"In the case of Islamic Relief worldwide, it really was I guess I would call it a smear campaign, sort of guilt by association."

During his opening testimony at the hearing, DeSantis also named the Holy Land Foundation as an example of a charity in the US "financing Hamas", a US-designated terror group.

Five men were arrested in 2004 on accusations that the Holy Land Foundation was both a terrorist organisation and was funnelling funds to the Palestinian political movement Hamas.

Civil liberties groups have argued the case was part of a disproportionate targeting of Muslim charities, given that the charges were related to aid given to impoverished Palestinians via "Zakat committees".

The American Civil Liberties Union has said that the Holy Land Foundation case was part of a pattern of the US government targeting faith-based charities "on the basis of unsubstantiated evidence and without even basic due process protections".

"American Muslims were wounded like all Americans by the September 11 terrorist attacks, but they were also dealt a second blow and suffered tremendously in the aftermath of the attacks, when their constitutional rights were infringed upon, and when they were subjected to surveillance, intimidation, and arbitrary arrests, and when they had their institutions targeted," Abuirshaid said.

"The likes of DeSantis summon all that ugly memory and bring it back to life."

A pro-settler politician

DeSantis made headlines last month after claiming that the occupied West Bank is not actually occupied by Israel, but is disputed territory. He also boasted that he was "the first statewide elected official to do public events in Judea and Samaria", referring to the West Bank by its Hebrew biblical name.

The comments are a culmination of his previous policy positions in regard to the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories.

On a trip to Israel that DeSantis made in 2019, he blamed Palestinians for the occupation of their land.

"If you look at this whole conflict, to me, the biggest problem has been that Palestinian Arabs have not recognised Israel's right to exist as a Jewish state," DeSantis said in Tel Aviv.

"That kind of denialism poisons really everything," he continued.

Rather than positioning himself as simply a pro-Israel politician, he came into his political career quickly positing himself as a pro-settler politician as well - a position favouring policies that are in violation of international law.

Weeks after becoming governor of Florida, he blacklisted AirBnb after it made the decision to ban homes in Israeli settlements from being listed for rent on its platform - AirBnb later rescinded its decision and was taken off the blacklist.

He has also been a proponent of legislation against the Palestinian-led Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement, which "aims to end international support for Israeli violations of international law by forcing companies, institutions and governments to change their policies". More than three dozen states have adopted anti-BDS legislation in some form or another.

Florida adopted its anti-BDS law in 2016, prior to DeSantis becoming governor. But the then-congressman had still commended its passage and said he was leading "efforts in Congress to combat BDS".

Last month, during the Republican Jewish Coalition's annual conference, an unofficial start to the presidential primary season, DeSantis received an enthusiastic response from the crowd during his address.

And if Trump, who has led the Republican Party for the last six years, ends up facing off against DeSantis in the primary, Muslim activists and experts on Islamophobia say it will only exacerbate the Islamophobia that has been taking place for the past two decades of American politics.

"Rhetoric has played a critical role in justifying the targeting of Muslims in the War on Terror and beyond and both Trump and Desantis have weaponised narratives to further demonise and criminalise Muslims," Maha Hilal, a researcher and writer on institutionalised Islamophobia, told Middle East Eye.

"Exacerbating already mainstreamed and normalised Islamophobia, an increase in Islamophobic narratives emerging from a Trump/DeSantis faceoff will only serve to garner further support for policies that scapegoat Muslims and other marginalised [groups], under the guise of national security," said Hilal, who is also author of the book: Innocent Until Proven Muslim: Islamophobia, the War on Terror, and the Muslim Experience Since 9/11.

Source: Middle East Eye

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Parliament condemns imposition of additional taxes on importers, bombing of Al-Ziyar Mosque in Hadramout


SANA'A December 05.2022 (Saba) - The Parliament, in its session on Monday, chaired by Speaker Yahya Al-Ra'i, condemned the Riyadh-resident government's decision to impose additional tax fees on importing merchants.

The Parliament denounced to the pro-aggression coalition government's competency in implementing the economic war plan against the Yemeni people by signing of suspicious loan agreements, wasting the wealth of the Yemeni people, and tampering with their interests and capabilities.

Members of the Parliament considered this arbitrary measure by the pro-coalition government a crime added to the series of crimes and conspiracies committed by the aggression coalition, which target the lives of the Yemeni people and their livelihood in all provinces of the country.

They affirmed that such an arbitrary measure harms the movement of internal trade and increases the rates of poverty and famine among citizens.

The Parliament members called on the United Nations and humanitarian and international organizations to assume their humanitarian responsibilities and carry out their duties to stop this arbitrary measure and the plundering of the wealth of the Yemeni people.

Source: Saba

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Protests erupt all over Turkey against Chinese atrocities in Xinjiang

Dec 5, 2022

ISTANBUL: Uyghur and Turkish NGOs carried out protests in many parts of Turkey on Sunday to protest against the atrocities of Chinese authorities in the Xinjiang region under the pretext of controlling the Covid-19 pandemic.

The International Union of East Turkestan NGOs led by its leader Hidayetullah Oghuzhan held a large protest and made a press statement at 2:00 pm local time, in front of the Chinese Consulate in Sariyer, Istanbul. As per estimates around 1000-1200 persons including the elderly, women, and children participated in the protest.

"....Our Uyghur brothers are being systematically massacred by China....their houses are locked...under the pretext of pandemic....they are dying of hunger and the fire that broke out....our brothers were killed by burning in their houses, where they were trapped...," Chairman of Turkish NGO Yesevi Alperenler Association, Kursat Mican said.

Hidayetullah committed that the Uyghurs are prepared to sacrifice their being and their lives for East Turkestan's independence and they would continue their fight with perseverance.

East Turkestan New Generation Movement, a Turkiye NGO, the Young IHH Humanitarian Relief Foundation, and the Young IDSB-Union of NGOs of the Islamic World/Islam Duniyasi Sivil Toplum Kuruluslari Birligi also organized a prayer meeting earlier at the Istanbul Fatih Mosque. Uyghur leader Abdusselam Teklamekan, Muhammed Mematali, who lost four siblings in the Urumqi fire, and theologian Ahmet Bulut were among those who spoke.

Turkish NGO Anadolu Genclik Dernegi (AGD) had also given a call for protests in different places against the Chinese atrocities in East Turkestan.

AGD Istanbul Branch organized another protest and press release in the evening at 8:00 pm near the Chinese Consulate in Sariyer district. AGD activists led by Provincial President Mehmet Yaroglu, and Uyghurs protested against Chinese atrocities and genocide.

Bursa AGD local branch held a protest and press release following the morning prayer near the Bursa Ulucami Mosque. Taha Nargis, Chairman of the University Commission of AGD Bursa branch, made a statement and accused the 'imperial and murderer' Chinese state of carrying out "systematic massacres in East Turkestan ....our Uyghur brothers, sisters and children were martyred by not interfering in the fire that broke out recently," as per press statement.

AGD also organized post-prayer protests and press statements in other places including the capital Ankara (near Haji Bayram Veli Mosque), Adiyaman, Balikesir, Corum, Isparta, Kirsehir, Kutahya, Malatya, Mersin, Usak among others.

Source: Times Of India

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North America


How Manchester, England Became Europe’s Secret Queer Mecca

The North Country charmer has long been an LGBTQ+ wonderland.

By Meredith Heil


Cottonopolis, Warehouse City, Rainy City, Madchester—no matter what you call it, the United Kingdom’s Capital of the North is one of Europe’s most exciting hidden gems. And that goes double for LGBTQ+ travelers in the know, who flock to Manchester’s picturesque brick-lined streets thanks to its inviting atmosphere, plethora of queer-friendly bars and restaurants, and longstanding reputation as a beacon for social change.

While the entire city is overwhelmingly welcoming to visitors of any background, the Gay Village, located just south of Chinatown, is the hub for Manchester’s sizable LGBTQ+ community. It’s a modest district, marked by an intersecting stretch of Rochdale Canal that’s flanked by walking paths and arching footbridges—once a hotspot for cruising, these shadowy nooks and crannies served as the catalyst for the area’s cultural formation. Today, however, the canal is less a place of clandestine rendezvous and more a proud beacon of local LGBTQ+ life, often decorated with rainbow flags that mirror the businesses surrounding it.

The Gay Village is also home to a host of raucous LGBTQ+ events, including Sparkle, a trans-focused celebration held each July; spring’s cheekily titled Great British Bear Bash; and a yearly Pride blowout that attracts hundreds of thousands of revelers from all corners of the globe. Manchester served as the backdrop to the original Queer as Folk a full 17 years before openly gay candidate Carl Austin-Behan was elected Lord Mayor. To say Manchester is a queer city would be an understatement akin to saying Beyonce is a decent singer. But how did this hardworking, industrial northern enclave develop into its current fabulous self? It all began with a good, old-fashioned drag show.

On September 24, 1880 at around 9:30 pm, some 50 people gathered inside the Temperance Hall off York Street in the city’s Hulme neighborhood. The hall was officially hired out by an entity calling itself the Pawn Brokers’ Assistants’ Association, but those in attendance knew they weren’t exactly showing up for a merchant’s networking event. Instead, they were gearing up for a “fancy dress” ball—or, as we now know it, a drag show.

Of course, crossdressing wasn’t just frowned upon in Victorian-era England, it was illegal, triggering punishments ranging from hard labor to jail time or worse. In preparation for that evening, the organizers had covered the hall’s main windows with cloth and maintained a strict guestlist as to protect the partiers. Nevertheless, Manchester’s Chief Constable, working off an anonymous tip, dispatched Detective-Sergeant Jerome Caminada and a pair of uniformed police officers to check out what he was told would be an event “of an immoral character.” Once there, the coppers managed to peer through an unguarded window and were shocked by what they saw.

The salacious party made the front page of the Illustrated Police News in 1880. | Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

About half of the crowd inside were dressed as women, some as famous historical figures like Anne Boleyn and Shakespear’s Juliet. According to the record, they were kicking up their heels in Scotch Reels and can-can-style dances, shouting and laughing in high-pitched voices, and answering to womens’ names. A few invitees had paired off and were canoodling in an adjacent room. The officers immediately raided the joint, arresting 47 people on charges including soliciting and intent to commit “improper actions.”

An early photo of the Union Pub. | New Union Hotel & Showbar

The scandalous raid immediately made headlines all over Europe. And while the drag show’s attendees were undoubtedly terribly marred from the experience, the event also shined a light on Manchester’s thriving underground gay scene, drawing even more LGBTQ+ people to the city. Fast-forward to World War II, and drag shows were a regular occurrence at the still-standing Union Pub. The performances were geared toward entertaining US soldiers stationed nearby, but also worked to normalize, employ, and shelter the local queer community. By the late 1950s and early 1960s, just a few years after acclaimed Mancunian mathematician Alan Turing famously pled guilty to homosexual acts, the canalfront pub’s growing clientelle had gradually claimed the neighborhood as their own.

A 1988 LGBTQ+ demonstration saw over 20,000 activists flood the streets of Manchester. | Mirrorpix/Contributor/Getty Images

Elsewhere, Mancheter’s LGBTQ+ population was slowly emerging from the darkness of nightlife and beginning to organize. The year 1964 saw the rise of the North West Homosexual Law Reform Committee (later renamed the Campaign for Homosexual Equality, or CHE), an activist group that eventually brought down the criminalization of homosexuality. In 1975, a group of gay men got together and set up the Manchester Lesbian & Gay Switchboard Services (MLGSS), a council grant-funded telephone helpline for queer and questioning Mancunians. And in 1985, another grant, this one for a relatively substantial £1,700, gave way to the first-ever Manchester Pride, complete with a massive downtown banner.

The Manchester Village Spartans RUFC, a gay and inclusive rugby club, is a founding member of International Gay Rugby. | Manchester Village Spartans RUFC

By the 1990s, the snowball effect was in full swing. Antidiscrimination laws and protective bills were passed, new advocacy groups formed, and additional community resources were established, providing assistance to unhoused LGBTQ+ Mancunians as well as those affected by the ongoing AIDS epidemic. Queer bars threw open their doors, no longer fearing harassment or police raids, and the area’s clubs, restaurants, and shops multiplied like rainbow-hued rabbits. LGBTQ+-inclusive rugby and football (AKA soccer) teams took to the pitches and, in 1999, the groundbreaking Channel 4 TV drama Queer as Folk set up shop right on Canal Street. Six years later, the city council laid down permanent rainbow plaques along a historic urban route designated the LGBT Heritage Trail. It was a veritable LGBTQ+ paradise—if, of course, you don’t mind a little rain.

The Gay Village is an obvious homebase choice for visiting queer folks. Airbnbs are on hand for the self-catering crowd, with private apartments averaging around $125 per night (you’ll quickly learn that Manchester is as wallet-friendly as it is queer-friendly). For a chic and sexy alternative, check out Velvet Hotel, an award-winning lodging smack-dab in the heart of the Gay Village. And history buffs might want to book a night or two at the New Union Guest House, where a fleet of modern rooms perch above the same pub that breathed queer life into the neighborhood nearly a century ago.

But the Gay Village isn’t the only game in town. Aside from the many chain hotels and other accommodations clustered around the City Centre, there’s also the Northern Quarter, a bohemian hideaway rife with third-wave coffee stands, craft cocktail bars, cutting edge streetwear at vintage stores, indie music venues, and plenty of other hipster draws (including the community-minded Gay Pride Shop and Queer Lit booksellers). Post up at a cool Airbnb—this design-forward converted loft provides everything you need without breaking the bank—or snag a room at the boutique Abel Heywood Pub & Boutique Hotel, the four-star Cow Hollow Hotel, or the polished Dakota, with its muted slate color palette and standout lobby bar.

The best part? No matter where you stay, the city’s supremely walkable layout ensures you’re never more than a 15-minute stroll (or speedy cab ride) from wherever you want to go.

The Alan Turing Memorial in Sackville Gardens is one of Manchester’s most treasured landmarks. | Christopher Furlong/Staff/Getty Images News/Getty Images

LGBTQ+ sightseeing musts

In a city with this much queer excellence, it’s tough to know where to start your explorations. Get your bearings on a Free Manchester Walking Tour, which departs every day at 11 am, rain or shine (alright, mostly rain), from the Alan Turing Memorial in Sackville Gardens. The friendly and chatty guides really know their stuff, and the three-hour journey highlights the best the city has to offer—all you have to do is show up and listen. Private tours focusing expressly on LGBTQ+ history or the Northern Quarter can also be booked ahead of time.

After you’ve surveyed the land, it’s time for some culture. There are dozens of museums to peruse, from the progressive People’s History Museum (which traces Manchester's rabble-rousing labor, social, and political uprisings through the ages) to the fascinating Manchester Jewish Museum, stocked Manchester Art Gallery, and hands-on Science and Industry Museum. But you’re here for the queer, and for that, you’ll want to set your sights on the one-of-a-kind National Football Museum.

The National Football Museum highlights LGBTQ+ contributions to the sport. | Photo courtesy of the National Football Museum

What’s so gay about the world’s most popular sport? According to this interactive, three-floor institution, quite a lot. Read up on displays showcasing pioneering English footballer Justin Fashanu (who came out publicly in 1990), the anti-homophobia Rainbow Laces campaign, and a newly unveiled section devoted to early 20th-century LGBTQ+ rights icon Lily Parr, the first woman inducted into the English Football Hall of Fame and one of the architects of the women's game. Then take the funicular elevator up to the top floor for Crossing the Line, a freshly installed exhibit dedicated to the history of women's football in the UK from Parr’s era up to the UEFA Women's Euro 2022 champion Lionesses, with its many out and proud superstars.

Whether or not you decide to step foot out of the Gay Village, rest assured you won’t go hungry—or thirsty—on your next trip to Manchester. Down by the canal, you’ll find a maze of cozy pubs, thumping discos, refined cafes, and late night takeaways all vying for your business. Don’t miss the Richmond Tea Rooms, which, with its campily proper British decorum and Alice in Wonderland theme, serves way more than Earl Grey and crumpets. For something a little heartier, try the Molly House, where a refined bill of tapas shares table space with beer, wine, and good company in a homey, low-key space. Or there’s the similarly laid-back Goose, with its traditional pub fare. Number 1 Canal Street holds court next door, a haven for the theater-bound with upmarket bistro eats and a full bar. Whereas Village Fish & Chip Shop, McTucky's, Dr. Miao, and Krunchy Fried Chicken have all your post-booze needs covered with a battery of crispy-fried goodness and other quick snacks.

Speaking of booze, Manchester’s queer bars and clubs run the gamut from swank and loungey to dank and divey to sceney and sweaty and everything in between. Starting from the top: check out Tribeca for wine and breezy daytime people-watching; Oscars for an old-school piano bar extravaganza; New York New York and Centre Stage for cabaret-style acts and impromptu dance parties; Bar Pop for an anything goes attitude that spans generations; G-A-Y Manchester, On Bar, and Cruz 101 for raging ‘till dawn; the Church and Via for beers, drag shows, and a trans-inclusive environment; newcomer the Brewers for a little bit of everything; and REM Bar and the Eagle Bar for edgy, masculine-centric vibes.

A DJ brings the house down at an What She Said Club bar takeover. | What She Said

Source: Thrillist

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Taxpayer Ombudsperson goes public over impasse with CRA over Muslim charity audits


Canada’s Taxpayers’ Ombudsperson felt obligated to go public over an impasse between his office and the Canada Revenue Agency as he investigates complaints that the CRA is unfairly targeting Muslim charities, he said in an interview Monday.

Revenue Minister Diane Lebouthillier asked Ombudsperson François Boileau to look into the complaints last year, specifically in relation to the activities of the agency’s Review and Analysis Division, or RAD, which works closely with Canadian national-security agencies.

The watchdog was also asked to review the CRA’s efforts to make its employees aware of unconscious bias and how that could perpetuate discriminatory behaviour toward charities run by racialized communities.

Mr. Boileau is aiming to submit a report to the Revenue Minister by March, 2023, but says it will be incomplete because the CRA is declining to hand over key documents.

“We don’t have access, so we don’t have the tools to do our job,” said Mr. Boileau, expanding on concerns he recently expressed to a Senate committee investigating the issue of Islamophobia.

The government’s request for a review was a high-profile political pledge made as part of a July, 2021, National Summit on Islamophobia attended by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

Mr. Boileau said the fact that the government’s request came on the eve of the 2021 federal election campaign delayed the start of his review. He then spent several months hearing from Muslim organizations and attempted to negotiate access to the CRA files his office would need.

He notes that the powers of his office are limited. It does not have access to independent legal advice, meaning it relies on the same lawyers who are advising the CRA.

“It’s an independent office, but it’s not,” he said. “Administratively, we’re part of the CRA … but we’re outside the CRA when it comes to dealing with cases that we receive as complaints.”

Mr. Boileau said he knew at the beginning that the CRA could impose various privacy or national-security policies to refuse access, but thought the agency would find a way in light of the fact that the investigation was requested by the minister and the Prime Minister.

The Ombudsperson said he recently met with Ms. Lebouthillier to inform the minister of the issues he was having with the CRA. He then raised these issues in a Nov. 21 appearance before the Senate human-rights committee.

“It’s an impasse,” he said, adding that his report is likely to be more of a “he said, she said” summary of the issues.

“I don’t have the tools to verify or to validate whether or not there’s truth to one party or the other,” he said.

After Mr. Boileau’s update to the Senate committee, the National Council of Canadian Muslims issued an open letter to the Prime Minister, calling on the government to intervene to ensure an effective process is in place.

The letter states that while the organization was “heartened” by Mr. Trudeau’s 2021 commitment at the Islamophobia summit, Mr. Boileau’s comments demonstrate that the promised review is “inherently flawed.”

Ms. Lebouthillier’s office provided a brief statement to The Globe saying racism and systemic discrimination have no place in Canada.

”The minister - like all Canadians - expects the Taxpayer Ombudsperson and the Canada Revenue Agency to co-operate fully with each other in this study,” said a spokesperson for the minister.

A CRA spokesperson said in a statement to The Globe and Mail that the agency is supporting the Ombudsperson’s work “to the fullest extent possible.”

Sharmila Khare, director-general of the CRA’s charities directorate, told the Senate human-rights committee last week that the agency is having conversations with the Ombudsperson but is required to protect confidential information.

“I do not believe there is structural bias targeting Muslim-led charities within the Canada Revenue Agency,” she said. “I would say, as part of the leadership team and leading a directorate of 300 employees, we take issues such as anti-racism very seriously.”

The political focus on Muslim charities was driven in part by a June, 2021, report by the International Civil Liberties Monitoring Group. It found that Muslim charities are overrepresented in the percentage of charities revoked by the agency’s Review and Analysis Division.

Tim McSorley, who authored the 2021 monitoring group report, said in an interview Monday that he appreciates Mr. Boileau’s dedication to the review but that the roadblocks he is facing are somewhat expected given the limitations of the office.

Source: The Globe And Mail

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Brussels attacks: Trial begins over 2016 attacks that killed 32

On a bridge overlooking a Brussels canal, Mohamed El Bachiri's face lights up in the winter sun as he remembers the mum of his three boys.

"Loubna was an angel, she was beautiful, she was always smiling, she was an extraordinary mother and wife," says Mohamed.

Thirty-four-year-old teacher Loubna Lafquiri was murdered on the Brussels metro on the morning of 22 March 2016.

In all, 32 people were killed by three suicide bombers in the attacks at Maelbeek station and Zaventem airport.

Ten men are now going on trial in the Belgian capital. Six of them have already been found guilty of involvement in the terror attacks in Paris in November 2015, which killed 130 people.

Salah Abdeslam, the main suspect in the French trial who was detained four days before the Brussels attacks, is also among the defendants, along with others whom prosecutors claim hosted or helped certain attackers.

One of the 10, who is presumed killed in Syria, will be tried in absentia.

Map of Brussels attack

Back in 2016, Mohamed El Bachiri was plunged into grief with the realisation he was now a widowed father to three children under the age of 10.

His immediate response? A Jihad of Love.

This, the name of the book he subsequently wrote, was intended to wrestle back the narrative from men who had grown up in his community and who had corrupted his Islamic faith.

"I needed to express a kind of anger - which is legitimate. My anger expresses itself in the jihad [struggle] of love. Sharing love. That's my way of violently responding to the terrorists. To deconstruct their ideology."

I meet Mohamed in Molenbeek, one of the poorest districts of Brussels. It is where plotters of both the 2016 Brussels bombings and the Paris attacks had lived and were later given refuge amid a huge manhunt.

Whenever such high-profile cases come to court, we the media often talk of an opportunity for justice to finally be done, or a moment where bereaved families can "move on."

But Mohamed will not be attending the trial.

"I have three kids who really need my energy, who need strength," says Mohamed. "It's not always obvious, but I really need to protect myself and I am sincerely afraid what the legal process might reawaken in me."

Does he ever allow himself to think about those who took away the "love of his life"?

"I think those men on trial, their thoughts are in hatred and darkness and negativity. And to wish them ill - I hold to the principles of humanism and I can't wish suffering on others. I don't have hatred, it brings nothing to your life. How to react to this is with a message of peace and love and not to be sad or negative."

As I and my Brussels colleagues began to think about how we would cover this trial in our adopted city, we considered which of the 32 bereaved families we would try to approach to ask if they felt able to talk.

Mohamed was an obvious choice, as a father of three who still lives in the community where some of the killers had plotted. So too was Charlotte Dixon-Sutcliffe, whose partner David was the only Briton murdered in the Brussels attacks; in early 2016, she and David had been living in Brussels with their son Henry, who was turning seven.

What none of us knew was that an immediate, profound bond had been forged between Mohamed and Charlotte in the hours after the attacks, as photos of their respective missing loved ones David and Loubna circulated online.

"On my Facebook they always appeared next to each other and I was invested in her," says Charlotte.

"She was just so beautiful and she was with her three children. Her eyes were shining through the photograph."

In a park overlooking the River Thames in London, Charlotte tells her story with the same illuminated expression that Mohamed had when also describing Loubna.

"I just felt really attached to her and almost like - and this may sound ridiculous - but almost like their fates were intertwined."

Charlotte says the connection with Loubna was overwhelming.

"It was almost like I was as invested in her being found as it was David. It's like she became a family member or someone that I cared about, even though I had never met her. It was heartbreaking for me with David. But it felt like I'd lost her as well."

For Charlotte, her treatment by the Belgian authorities had compounded her trauma as she had searched in vain for her partner.

"With my picture of David we were going into local police stations and they were gathering round and just saying, 'Well, it's nothing to do with us, it's a federal matter'," she says.

Three days after the attack, Charlotte got a call from a police social worker:

"It was dark. I was walking the dog around the streets. She said I had to prepare myself for the worst now. She basically told me that David was dead. She told me over the phone."

Charlotte says the authorities became more supportive recently.

Much like how Mohamed channelled his grief into writing his book and sharing his message in schools, Charlotte founded an organisation called Survivors Against Terror.

"One of the big drives is to make sure that terrorist acts don't happen in the first instance. But if they do, having seen the poor treatment and some of the excellent treatment, it instils a massively strong drive to make a difference and to change things so that no one has to suffer in the way that we did."

After the attacks, she and her son Henry left Belgium to try to rebuild their lives but Charlotte has decided to return to Brussels for the start of the trial.

The defendants include Mohamed Abrini, who prosecutors say is the "man in the hat" who was captured on CCTV fleeing the airport after his suitcase of explosives failed to detonate.

"So many of them have already been found guilty and are serving sentences. But I think they weren't the only ones. I think that there was a huge misstep in the way that the Belgian state handled the attacks, [how it] behaved on the day of the attack and leading up to the attack."

Charlotte points to intelligence failings in the run up to the attack and the decision to keep the metro running after the earlier airport bombings.

There were government resignations and apologies in the aftermath, but that is not enough for many bereaved families and survivors.

"Culpability obviously essentially rests with those who committed the attacks, but certainly there's a level of culpability by the Belgian state that I feel needs to be addressed," says Charlotte.

As well as shining a light on how the authorities acted, Charlotte welcomes the opportunity to give a victim impact statement.

"Me being able to present a picture of David in court will give me some peace. It will give me something that will help me connect a sense of justice for him."

Charlotte Dixon-Sutcliffe quotebox

She doesn't want her partner remembered as just one of 32 victims.

"David was incredibly funny, the power he had to be able to connect to other people, to be able to bring joy to people's lives - it's like it's the very polar opposite of the people in those boxes."

That's a reference to the glass boxes for the defendants in the specially constructed court at the former Nato headquarters where the trial will slowly play out over the next six months.

In September, the judge ruled the boxes should be reworked after defence lawyers argued they were like animal cages.

In the greyness of the court and the grind of the legal process, Charlotte hopes her depiction of her David will provide some colour.

"I hope that joy stays with him. And I think maybe if I could bring to that place a sense of lightness and connection and love and happiness, then that's got to be something, doesn't it?"

In the course of this working on this story we discovered the bond Charlotte felt for Loubna was reciprocated.

When we had said our goodbyes to Mohamed, I asked if he was particularly attached to any of the other families of the victims.

"There was a British woman. She had a young boy and also lost her partner."

When I explain we are also interviewing Charlotte and she is returning to his city for the trial a smile breaks out across his face.

Neither knows how they will react to the coming months but both hope to meet each other and reinforce the solidarity and spirit the terrorists unwittingly created.

"They've created a network of people that talk about cohesion and love and community," says Charlotte.

Source: BBC

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South Asia


Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan: Taliban Court Mohammed Bin Zayed As They Seek UAE Recognition

By Ali M Latifi in Dubai, United Arab Emirates

5 December 2022

A delegation from the Taliban’s Islamic Emirate government headed to the United Arab Emirates on Sunday, where they met its president, Mohammed bin Zayed.

According to a statement from the Afghan defence ministry, the parties held talks on “strengthening relations, bilateral cooperation between the UAE and Afghanistan and other important issues”.

No further details of the meeting were made public, but the symbolism of the visit, which ends on Tuesday, was not lost on Afghans in either country.

Though Taliban officials have travelled abroad to Norway, Qatar and most recently Turkey, this marks the first time the Islamic Emirate has met directly with Mohammed bin Zayed, the ruler of Abu Dhabi, sometimes known as MBZ, whom sources say is very close to former Afghan President Ashraf Ghani.

The fact that the delegation was led by acting defence minister, Mawlawi Mohammad Yaqoub Mujahid, the son of the founder of the Taliban movement Mullah Mohammad Omar, is seen by some as proof that the 32-year-old is hoping to play a role in projecting a more measured image of the Islamic Emirate.

Since being named acting defence minister, Yaqoub has made several public statements calling for moderation among the Islamic Emirate’s forces. He has also accused unnamed outside interlopers of trying to sully the name of the Taliban by posing as members of the group and harassing or abusing civilians.

Yaqoub was accompanied by Anas Haqqani, who is also seen as a relatively moderate voice among the Islamic Emirate, though he has no official title in the government.

At 28, Haqqani bills himself as a poet and is seen as much more approachable than his brother, Sirajuddin, who serves as the acting interior minister, and his uncle, Khalil, acting minister of refugees and repatriation. Haqqani also has a bit of a local advantage, as his father’s second wife is from the UAE.

Gulf diplomacy

Of course, there are those Afghanistan watchers who will wonder what signal this meeting will send to officials in Qatar, a one-time rival of the UAE that now serves as Washington’s intermediary with the Islamic Emirate.

Faiz Zaland, a professor and analyst based in Kabul, says “it is certainly a big deal” that Yaqoub and Haqqani were able to secure an audience with the UAE leader directly.

In the year and a half since the Taliban returned to power in Afghanistan, several of their representatives have made official and unofficial visits to the UAE, but Sunday’s meeting marks their first publicly acknowledged interaction with top leadership in the UAE.

Zaland told Middle East Eye that the Islamic Emirate’s efforts to get close to both Abu Dhabi and Doha will be “quite the balancing act”, and that it will require serious diplomacy.

Taliban representatives, including Haqqani, have been based in Doha since at least 2011, when former US President Barack Obama and his then Afghan counterpart, Hamid Karzai, were hoping to engage in peace talks with the Taliban.

Zaland said that the Qataris have “stood by the Taliban in their worst times”, something they should not forget in their bid to get closer to the UAE.

However, there have been signs of strain between Doha and the Taliban for nearly a year now. In autumn 2021, sources in Doha told MEE that they were disappointed that the Taliban were not listening to them on several issues. Around the same time, the Qatari foreign minister gave an address in which he criticised the Islamic emirate for barring women from most government jobs.

Then, in September, the Taliban secured a deal with Abu Dhabi to have an Emirati company run Afghanistan’s international airports.

Sources in Doha, Dubai and Kabul said the deal came after a months-long stalemate between the Taliban, Qatar and Turkey. Doha and Ankara had been trying to work out an agreement to run the airports with the Taliban since shortly after the group returned to power in late summer 2021.

The sources said that Kabul and Doha could not agree on financial and security terms, and the Taliban eventually turned to the UAE, which previously had a deal to help run airports in Afghanistan under the western-backed government.

Mutual security interests

Though Zaland says it is now up to the Islamic Emirate to find a responsible way to court both Doha and Abu Dhabi, other analysts do not believe it is as risky for the Taliban as it may appear.

Asadullah Nadim, a security analyst based in Kabul, said people must remember that Qatar and the UAE have mutual security interests, especially in terms anti-terrorism efforts. Since Afghanistan is still home to forces claiming allegiance to the Islamic State group (IS), Mohammed bin Zayed’s meeting with Yaqoub, whose job it is to secure Afghanistan from groups like IS, may not be as controversial to Doha as it seems.

'The Islamic Emirate focusing on the UAE has as much to do with economics as it does politics'

- Asadullah Nadim, security analyst

Additionally, Nadim points out that the UAE, especially Abu Dhabi, is home to a powerful bloc of Afghan businesspeople and investors, whom the Islamic Emirate is hoping to court at a time when their government is suffering from sanctions, aid cutbacks and banking restrictions imposed by the US and other western powers.

“The Islamic Emirate focusing on the UAE has as much to do with economics as it does politics,” Nadim said.

It is believed that Afghan entrepreneurs and investors collectively have access to $100m in the UAE, said Nadim.

This interest in encouraging Afghans in the UAE to reinvest in Afghanistan was made clear when the delegation spoke to a group of Afghan investors in the Emirates and asked them to start doing business in their country once again.

During that event, Yaqoub said 300,000 Afghans are currently working in the UAE. In places like the eastern province of Khost, the remittances sent home by those Afghan workers have been key to the local economy.

As for politics, Nadim notes the leaderships of the last three governments in Afghanistan, including the Taliban, all have strong networks in the UAE.

“Dating back to Karzai, Afghan leaders have always had strong ties to the UAE,” says Nadim, noting members of Karzai’s family have homes in Dubai.

Likewise, Ghani fled Afghanistan for Abu Dhabi, where he is currently residing in a well-guarded villa.

Indian media and Afghans on social media claimed the Taliban officials would meet Ghani while in the UAE, but sources familiar with the situation dismissed those reports as conjecture.

Nadim believes the trip was ultimately meant to court Emirati leaders, whom the Taliban hope could be persuaded into acknowledging their government as the official leaders of Afghanistan.

Though in the 1990s, the UAE was one of three countries (the others being Pakistan and Saudi Arabia) to recognise the Taliban government. This time no other country has officially acknowledged the Islamic Emirate.

Source: Middle East Eye

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Unknown Gunmen Kill Muezzin and Five Members Of A Family in Northern Afghanistan Mosque during Fajr Prayers

December 5, 2022

The incident took place on Saturday, December 3, in Kunduz city’s 7th police district, the spokesperson for the Kunduz chief of police, Obaidullah Abedi stated.

Local sources in Kunduz province said that the person killed by unidentified gunmen named Abdul Hadi, who called for Adhan and was a teacher of young children in a mosque.

The security officials in Kunduz province stated that the security forces have arrested a person in connection with the murder case of the muezzin, while sources attributed the incident to personal animosity.

In a similar attack in late November, in Kabul, the Afghan capital, unidentified men opened fire at worshippers at a mosque that resulted in the fatalities of 6 people, including a father and his 4 sons.

According to a security official, the attacker reached the mosque on Wednesday at around 6:45 in time for morning congregational prayer. He then opened fire on congregants, killing six people, including five members of a family.
Source: Khaama Press

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Roadside bomb kills seven in Afghanistan's Mazar-i-Sharif

December 06, 2022

A roadside bomb killed seven petroleum company employees aboard a bus in northern Afghanistan on Tuesday, a provincial police spokesman said.

"The bomb was placed in a cart by the roadside. It was detonated as the bus arrived," said Asif Waziri, of the Balkh police department in Mazar-i-Sharif.

Although the Taliban claim to have improved security across the nation since storming back to power in August last year, there have been scores of bomb blasts and attacks — many claimed by the local chapter of the Daesh group.

At least 19 people were killed and 24 others wounded earlier this month by a blast at a madrassa in Aybak, southeast of Mazar-i-Sharif.

Waziri told AFP Tuesday's blast happened around 7:00 am (0230 GMT) near Sayed Abad Square in the city.

He said six people were injured in the blast.

Source: The News Pakistan

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US Representative Meets with Abdullah Abdullah and Top Indian Officials While in New Delhi

By Saqalain Eqbal

December 6, 2022

The US Special Representative, Thomas West, said that he met Dr. Abdullah Abdullah, the chairman of the High Council for National Reconciliation of the former Afghan government, and a number of high-ranking Indian officials in New Delhi.

Thomas West stated that he spoke about the situation in Afghanistan and other matters of mutual interest with his Indian interlocutors. He added that India’s substantial humanitarian assistance and commitment to the fundamental rights of Afghans are greatly appreciated by the US.

According to a string of tweets on Tuesday, December 6, the US official stated that he has met with the Indian Deputy National Security Adviser, Vikram Misri, J.P. Singh, the Indian Ministry of External Affairs Joint Secretary, and other top Indian officials.

West further said that during his visit with Dr. Abdullah Abdullah, he emphasized the importance of national political discourse among the Afghan people.

“There is consensus in [international] community on this imperative, which Afghans must lead and shape,” West wrote on his Twitter handle.

A statement by the US State Department announced Thomas West’s visits to Japan, India, and the UAE to discuss human rights, trade, and challenges that Afghan refugees face while consulting with them on the situation of Afghanistan.

During his two-day visit to Japan, Thomas West spoke with his Japanese counterparts about the human rights situation in Afghanistan, political engagement, and humanitarian needs in Afghanistan.

“We are always stronger, on every challenge, when we act together with allies,” West wrote while announcing his trip to Tokyo, the Japanese capital.

Thomas West will reportedly travel to the UAE following his visit to India, where he would meet with some former Afghan politicians and officials along with authorities in the UAE.

West’s visit to the UAE would come at a time when Hamid Karzai, the former Afghan president, Omar Zakhilwal, and Karim Khorram, the ministers of the former Afghan government, and Mullah Mohammad Yaqoub Mujahid, the current administration’s Minister of Defense, are all in the UAE.
Source: Khaama Press

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Iranian Envoy: US Seeks to Show Afghanistan in Shambles without Its Presence

By Saqalain Eqbal

December 5, 2022

Hassan Kazemi Qomi, the Iranian Special Envoy for Afghanistan, on Monday, December 5, said that the US has muddied the situation in Afghanistan by inflaming ethnic and religious conflict during the past year.

He further stated that the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) is still operational in Afghanistan, despite the military pullout, and that the US still has control over Afghanistan’s airspace.

He claimed that while the US had stoked the crisis in Afghanistan, US allies, particularly the UK and several Arab nations, had also nurtured mistrust between Afghanistan and its western neighbor, Iran.

“The US does not seek the interests of nations. This country does not allow a strong government to form in countries like Afghanistan,” Qomi remarked.

Qomi added that Iran’s approach to Afghanistan has been to support the Afghan people while developing regional collaboration in counterterrorism in Afghanistan. He mentioned Iran’s assistance in controlling immigration and restraining terrorism.

Source: Khaama Press

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Terrorist network in Afghanistan a matter of concern: NSA Doval

December 6, 2022

India’s National Security Advisor, Ajit Doval in a conference termed the existence of terrorist networks in Afghanistan as a matter of concern.

It is the first time that India was hosting a conference of top security officials from Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan wherein the emerging security situation in Afghanistan and ways to deal with the threat of terrorism emanating from it were discussed.

In the India-Central NSA level conference held in Delhi on Tuesday, Doval initiated by welcoming the National Security Advisors, Secretaries of the Security Councils of the countries.

Addressing the occasion, Doval underlined the need to prioritise combating terror financing and said that terrorism survived because of financing.

He added that the existence of terrorist networks in Afghanistan was a matter of concern.

He said that the members of the UN should refrain from providing assistance to institutions involved in the terrorist activities.

Doval said that Afghanistan was an important issue for all and India’s concerns and objectives regarding the immediate priorities and the way forward were common to the countries present in the meeting.

He said that the meeting was being held at a time where uncertainty lied about the future and international relations and said that a peaceful, secure and prosperous Central Asia was their common interest.

He further said that connectivity with the Central Asian countries remained a key priority for India.

Doval added that the country stood ready to collaborate, invest and build connectivity in the region while ensuring that the initiative is consultative, transparent and participatory.

He said that Central Asia was India’s extended neighbourhood.

According to information, Doval was likely to hold separate bilateral meetings with his counterparts amid growing concerns over the security situation in Afghanistan.

Source: The Statesman

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Bangladesh eyes energy, food security cooperation after new GCC deal


December 05, 2022

DHAKA: Bangladesh is planning to tap into cooperation possibilities with Gulf countries, focusing on energy and food security after a recent agreement on future partnerships with the Gulf Cooperation Council.

Dhaka and the GCC — an intergovernmental economic union of Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE — signed a memorandum establishing a framework for cooperation on Nov. 18.

The deal was reached on the sidelines of the Manama Dialogue regional security conference in Bahrain by Bangladeshi Minister of Foreign Affairs Dr. A.K. Abdul Momen and GCC Secretary-General Dr. Nayef bin Falah Al-Hajraf.

“Energy cooperation is one of our topmost priority issues which will be discussed during joint consultation. Besides, boosting political cooperation will also be a priority area,” Iqbal Hussain Khan, director general of West Asia at the Bangladeshi Ministry of Foreign Affairs told Arab News over the weekend.

He added that as Gulf countries had lately been focused on ensuring food security, Bangladesh — a major seafood and vegetable exporter — would also try to identify potential areas of cooperation in that sector.

“We will sit with GCC authorities for detailing the cooperation areas and fixing the road map within the shortest possible time which is mutually convenient for both the parties,” Khan said.

“We have huge potential for boosting cooperation with Gulf countries since nowadays regional organizations are becoming stronger.”

More details and specific proposals are expected to be announced after upcoming talks between Bangladeshi and GCC authorities.

“Let the discussions begin first. Very soon we will contact the GCC to start the first round of discussions,” Khan added.

The cooperation was likely to help Bangladesh with energy security.

Bangladesh, which is dependent on imported liquefied natural gas, has been struggling with an energy crisis for the past couple of months. In early October, some 80 percent of its 168 million people were left without electricity after a grid failure, which occurred when more than one-third of the country’s gas-powered units were short of fuel.

“Energy security is another big area of cooperation for Bangladesh. Through a long-term arrangement, during bilateral trade talks for a preferential trade agreement or free trade agreement, we must include the oil supply issues to be ensured,” Zahid Hussain, former lead economist at the World Bank in Dhaka, told Arab News.

He added that the future cooperation would also benefit Bangladeshi migrant workers — 90 percent of whom live and work in GCC countries.

“In the case of migrant labor exports, cooperation from the GCC nations will be very important. We need to work to reduce the cost of migration as well as increasing workplace safety, job security, and ensuring earning security,” he said.

Source: Arab News

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Special liquidity facility launched for Islamic banks

Mon Dec 5, 2022

Bangladesh Bank has come up with a new arrangement named "Islamic Bank Liquidity Facility", under which the country's shariah-based banks can now take short-term loan, a first of its kind in the banking sector.

There are 10 shariah-based banks in Bangladesh, of which some lenders are now facing liquidity stress amid withdrawal pressure of deposits after the revelation of financial scams in those institutes.

Against the backdrop, the central bank has introduced the new system such that the cash-strapped lenders can tackle their liquidity stress.

The repayment tenure of the short-term loan will be 14 days under the special arrangement for Islamic banks, according to a Bangladesh notice issued today.

Traditional banks are now allowed to enjoy such type of short-term liquidity support under repurchase agreement.

Source: The Daily Star

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Supreme Court Tells Govt To Register FIR Of Arshad Sharif’s Killing By Today

Haseeb Bhatti

December 6, 2022

The Supreme Court on Tuesday, while taking suo notice of the “brutal killing” of journalist Arshad Sharif, directed the government to register a first information report (FIR) by tonight.

A larger bench, headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Umar Ata Bandial and comprising Justice Ijazul Ahsan, Justice Jamal Mandokhail, Justice Sayyed Mazahar Ali Akbar Naqvi and Justice Mohammad Ali Mazhar, heard the case.

“The FIR should be registered by tonight,” CJP Bandial remarked as the court directed the authorities concerned to submit a copy to the court by tomorrow (Wednesday).

The court also sought the inquiry report of the committee formed by the government to probe the killing, adjourning the hearing till tomorrow.

During the hearing, the CJP wondered why the court had not yet been provided the report by the fact-finding committee. “Why has it not been provided to the court as yet?” the CJP asked.

The additional attorney general informed the court that Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah was in Faisalabad when the report was received. “The report will be handed over to the SC once Sanaullah peruses it,” he said.

“Does the interior minister have to make changes to the report?” the CJP asked, adding that the court could summon Sanaullah. It is the government’s job to investigate not the judiciary’s, he said.

“A journalist was killed. It should be revealed who was behind the killing,” the CJP remarked, adding that the fact-finding committee which had travelled to Kenya had been back in Pakistan for some time. “Why has the final report of the government formed commission not been provided to the SC?”

The additional attorney general responded by saying the report would be submitted by tomorrow. However, the CJP told him to submit it today so the hearing could continue tomorrow.

“[We] have been waiting for the report for the past 43 days,” CJP Bandial said, terming Sharif’s medical report to be “unsatisfactory”. “We are taking the matter seriously. That is why a five-judge bench was constituted.”

Justice Ahsan remarked that Sharif was killed in Kenya under “suspicious circumstances”. “What action has the foreign ministry taken?” he asked.

Foreign Secretary Asad Majeed replied that the premier had contacted the Kenyan president in this regard. “The Pakistani High Commissioner in Kenya is in touch with the relevant authorities,” he said.

Justice Ahsan then asked whether it was true that a case had not yet been registered in Pakistan or in Kenya.

The foreign secretary responded by saying that he was not aware whether a case had been registered in Pakistan and would check with the Kenyan authorities regarding the same.

“Why was a case of Arshad Sharif’s killing not registered?” the CJP questioned, to which the foreign secretary said that a decision in this regard would be taken after the inquiry report was reviewed.

The court then asked the Foreign Office to submit a response to the court regarding the investigation and the registration of a FIR in Kenya.

Apex court takes suo motu notice

Earlier in the day the CJP had taken suo motu notice of Sharif’s “brutal killing”.

The development came three days after PTI chief Imran Khan penned a letter to CJP Bandial, asking him to conduct an independent judicial inquiry into the killing of Sharif, who was shot dead in Kenya on Oct 24.

Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif had announced last month that a judicial commission would be formed to probe the matter and subsequently wrote a letter to the CJP regarding this.

“The journalist community in the country and the public at large are deeply distressed and are concerned about the death of the senior journalist and are seeking the court’s scrutiny of the matter,” the statement said.

It added that notices had been issued to the interior secretary, foreign affairs secretary, information and broadcasting secretary, the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) director general (DG), the Intelligence Bureau (IB) DG and the president of the Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ).

Imran and other PTI leaders have been demanding an investigation into the “targeted killing” of the renowned journalist, claiming that he was forced to leave Pakistan for the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and later the Gulf region as well — where he had stayed for a short time before heading to Kenya.

The Foreign Office has, however, dismissed these claims.

Sharif’s mother had also penned a letter to the CJP on November 2, requesting the formation of a high-powered judicial commission to investigate the murder.

‘Welcome decision’

Politicians welcomed the SC’s decision to take suo motu notice of Sharif’s killing, highlighting the apex court’s role in protecting human rights.

PTI leader Fawad Chaudhry hailed the decision, saying: “The people expect the SC and the judges to stand up for basic human rights despite pressure for the sovereignty of the Constitution, and to protect human rights.”

Awami Muslim League (AML) chief Sheikh Rashid Ahmed also welcomed the development, predicting that several “hidden faces” would be unmasked during the trial.

“The nation is also looking towards the SC regarding the attack on Imran Khan and the Azam Swati case.” He advised the coalition government to prepare for the next general election instead of working on disqualifying the PTI chief.

PM Shehbaz, while speaking at an event organised by Islamabad Journalist Safety Forum moments before the SC’s statement was released, said he had spoken to the Kenyan president regarding Sharif’s killing.

He said Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari had been in contact with the authorities concerned, while he himself had spoken to agencies in Pakistan for speedy action. “I have also written a letter to the CJP to constitute a commission [to probe the case] and I hope action will be taken in this regard.”

The premier also stated that no journalist or human rights defender should be attacked for exercising freedom of expression guaranteed under the Constitution.

The killing

Sharif had left Pakistan in August after a number of cases were registered against him. It was reported that he was initially staying in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) after which he went to Kenya, where he was shot dead.

Initially, Kenyan media had quoted the local police as saying Sharif was shot dead by police in a case of “mistaken identity”.

But later reports from the Kenyan media reconstructed the events surrounding the killing, stating that an occupant in Sharif’s car at the time of his killing was believed to have shot at paramilitary General Service Unit (GSU) officers.

Source: Dawn

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ECP whirrs into action to remove Imran from PTI top slot

Iftikhar A. Khan

December 6, 2022

ISLAMABAD: The Elec­tion Commission of Pakistan (ECP) on Monday set into motion the process to remove Imran Khan as chairman of the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) in light of the election watchdog’s verdict in the Toshakhana case, which disqualified the former premier under Article 63(1)(p) for making “false statements and incorrect declaration”.

An ECP official told Dawn that a notice has been issued to the former prime minister and the case has been fixed for hearing on Dec 13. Sources in the PTI confirmed the development but asserted that the law does not place any bar on a convict from becoming an office-bearer of a political party.

According to Section 5 (1) of the now defunct Political Parties Order (PPO) 2002, “Every citizen… shall have the right to form or be a member of a political party or be otherwise associated with a political party or take part in political activities or be elected as an office-bearer of a political party: provided that a person shall not be appointed or serve as an office-bearer of a political party if he is not qualified to be, or is disqualified from being, elected or chosen as a member of the Majlis-e-Shoora (Parlia­ment) under Article 63 of the Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan or under any other law for the time being in force.”

The Elections Act 2017 did not retain the provision, however. But, a three-member bench of the Supreme Court in February 2018, while hearing petitions against the Elections Act, ruled that a person disqualified under articles 62 and 63 of the Constitution could not head a political party.

The ruling paved the way for the removal of Nawaz Sharif as the head of the PML-N following his disqualification by the apex court under Article 62(1)(f).

During the course of the hearing, Justice Ijazul Ahsan had remarked that if the head of the party was polluted, the entire stream would be polluted. He had said that a disqualified person should not usurp the right of others to lead the party as qualified persons should not be controlled by a disqualified person.

It may be noted here that a petition seeking the removal of Imran Khan as the PTI chairman following his disqualification is already pending before the Lahore High Court. The petition said that according to the Representation of the People Act 1976 and Political Parties Order (PPO) 2002, it was a legal and constitutional requirement for party officeholders to be qualified in accordance with Articles 62 and 63 of the Constitution. It said that after Imran’s disqualification from the NA-95 constituency it was “just” for him to be de-notified as the PTI chairman and an order should be issued to this effect.

Plea against FIA

Separately, a petition filed by Imran Khan against the summons by the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) in connection with an inquiry into an audio leak regarding the cipher controversy has been fixed for hearing by the registrar office of the LHC for today.

However, the office put an objection to the maintainability of the petition on the ground of its territorial jurisdiction. The office said the matter apparently fell into the domain of the Islamabad High Court.

Justice Asjad Javed Ghural would hear the petition today as an objection case and would decide the question of maintainability first before initiation of formal proceedings into the case.

The petition filed through Barrister Salman Safdar stated that the FIA initiated an inquiry into the alleged audio leak pertaining to the diplomatic cipher received from a foreign country. It claimed that the alleged audio allegedly released by the federal government has not only “jeopardised the security of as high an office as [the] prime minister but is also a blatant violation of fundamental rights of the petitioner”.

It said the impugned notice by the FIA is silent about any criminal wrongdoing committed by the petitioner. The petition contends that despite being summoned as a witness in the impugned inquiry notice, it was absolutely unclear as to what offence, if any, the petitioner was being inquired for.

It argued as per the law of the land, before summoning a witness, the respondents were duty bound to identify and particularise the information sought from the witness, and to state the nexus between such information and the subject of the inquiry being conducted.

Source: Dawn

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Tanveer Ilyas slighted by Shehbaz’s ‘omission’ of Kashmiris

Tariq Naqash

December 6, 2022

MUZAFFARABAD: Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) Prime Minister Sardar Tanveer Ilyas on Monday censured Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif for “not mentioning the sacrifices of Kashmiri people” during a speech.

Addressing a press conference, Mr Ilyas said the omission was tantamount to “insulting” the Kashmiri people.

On Monday, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif inaugurated the refurbishment project of units 5 and 6 of the Mangla Dam Hydroelectric Power Plant, built on the Jhelum river in Mangla area of AJK. He also addressed a ceremony, where the exchange with the AJK premier occurred.

As PM Shehbaz was winding up his speech, he was interrupted by Mr Ilyas. In a video clip that went viral on social media, PM Shehbaz could be seen gesturing to the AJK premier to sit down and raise his concerns after the speech.

AJK PM says Sharif forgot to mention Kashmiris’ sacrifices; premier blames ‘cartels’ for slow progress on renewables

The incident occurred when Mr Ilyas interrupted Mr Sharif’s speech and asked what he had done for AJK.

According to a witness, after wrapping up his speech, PM Shehbaz hurriedly left the venue without heeding Mr Ilyas, who tried his best to get the premier’s attention, but to no avail.

Later, at a press conference, Mr Ilyas said PM Sharif’s body language and gestures spoke volumes for his “irascibility”.

“I have no qualms in saying that Mr Sharif ridiculed the entire Kashmiri nation by not mentioning their sacrifices for the progress and prosperity of Pakistan,” he said.

He added that the prime minister had expressed gratitude to “the whole world,” but didn’t mention the people of Mirpur, whose homes and loved ones’ graves were submerged twice for construction and raising of the dam.

He claimed that “insulting treatment” was meted out to AJK’s senior administration officials at the venue.

Asserting that the people of AJK considered Pakistan as “part of their faith,” he added PM Shehbaz should have listened to their elected leader.

Mr Ilyas also reminded him of the commitments made with the locals at the time of the dam’s construction and claimed that none have been fulfilled to this day.

He claimed that Rs 500 billion in development funds for AJK announced by former PM Imran Khan have been stopped by the incumbent government. “This regime has been denying us our due share from day one.”

Mr Ilyas also lamented the federal government’s refusal to send security forces for duties during the ongoing local government elections in the region.

He regretted the AJK government or administration was not taken into confidence on the PM’s visit.

“When I got the information [about PM Shehbaz’s arrival], I flew to Mirpur from Muzaffarabad to receive the prime minister,” he said, adding he didn’t want to replicate Mr Sharif’s actions as Punjab chief minister when he refused to receive the then president Asif Ali Zardari on his visits to the province.

Former AJK premier and Muslim Conference supreme leader Sardar Attique Ahmed Khan also deplored the “inappropriate behaviour” of PM Shehbaz and alleged that the PDM government was “willfully undermining” AJK’s dignity.

“It is incomprehensible not to give an opportunity to the AJK prime minister to speak during any programme in the region,” Mr Khan added.

PM blames ‘cartels’

Earlier, in his speech, PM Shehbaz claimed powerful lobbies and cartels didn’t allow the construction of dams and the launch of solar power projects, according to APP.

He also emphasised the need to generate cheap electricity to cut energy imports.

Pakistan was already facing immense economic challenges and could not bear the heavy energy import bills, he added.

“We need to utilise alternative sources of electricity production,” he said, adding that Pakistan was spending an ‘exorbitant’ $27bn on energy-related imports.

Dams were crucial to mitigate the effects of climate change, especially in the wake of recent floods, the prime minister pointed out.

The prime minister also hailed the USAID who provided assistance in the refurbishment project and called it a brilliant example of Pakistan-US cooperation.

He lauded the $150 million grant by USAID, along with financial support of 90m euros from the Development Agency of France.

The Water and Power Development Authority (Wapda) contributed $178m for the project, he said.

In his speech, US Ambassador Donald Blome said the dam was a great symbol of “the US-Pakistan cooperation” and added the country was also assisting Wapda to increase power generation from Tarbela and Gomal Zam dams.

He said maintenance and upgrades of dams were of critical importance in the wake of climate change and expressed hope that the green alliance between the two countries would prove beneficial for the energy and agriculture sectors of Pakistan.

Source: Dawn

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Experts call for revisiting Afghan policy

December 6, 2022

ISLAMABAD: Experts on Monday called for a review of Afghan policy in view of the latest developments in the neighbouring war torn country and the security challenges it poses to the neighbourhood.

These views were expressed by experts at a consultation on “Afghan peace and reconciliation; Pakistan’s interests and policy options” organised by Islamabad-based Pak Institute for Peace Studies (PIPS).

Academics, retired military officials, former diplomats, journalists and other experts on security, and Pak-Afghan affairs participated in the discussion. The main themes of the consultation, which is 6th one in a series of discussions organised by PIPS on the Afghan peace process, include “Emerging Afghan situation and its interface with the countries near and beyond” and “a review of emerging Pak-Afghan relations.”

The specialists warned of a likely new wave of terrorism in the country especially after outlawed Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan formally ended its ceasefire and announced resumption of violent activities.

Say current developments in neighbouring war-torn country pose threat to Pakistan

They said it was all the more important now that the various segments of the society should present a united front on the renewed threat of terrorism.

Former National Security Adviser retired Lt-Gen Nasser Khan Janjua taking part in the discussion said that TTP had become a spoiler in Pak-Afghan relations. He added that Pakistan required reorientation of its policy towards the Taliban regime in Kabul.

“Pakistan’s relations with Kabul are likely to come under stress and we have to manage it.”

Mirwais Yasini, former first deputy speaker of the Lower House of the Afghan Parliament, contended that corruption in Afghanistan had relatively decreased, and law and order situation had improved under the Taliban rule but the system was not properly working, which has become a major challenge.

He further said that Pakistan’s military establishment, politicians, bureaucracy and ulema should be on the same page to tackle the crisis emerging out of Afghanistan.

Former Defence Secretary retired Lt-Gen Naeem Khalid Lodhi called for fixing the problems in Pakistan’s decision-making system. “The problem of Afghanistan has political, social, economic, and military dimensions,” he said, adding that military establishment couldn’t handle it alone.

Defence analyst retired Major General Inamul Haque said that Pakistan’s relations with Afghanistan had been continuously affecting due to the presence of TTP on the latter’s soil.

He said Pakistan should talk with the ideologue group present in the ranks of Taliban to force the militant group to lay down its arms.

Former Senator Afrasiab Khattak concluded the discussion by saying that Pakistan should make a critical review of its 40-year-old Afghan policy. “The issue of terrorism also needed to be reviewed to face the emerging challenges in this connection.” He also suggested that Pakistan should formulate a new Afghan policy that should focus on making good relations with the Afghan state, and its people.

Source: Dawn

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Pakistan Armed Forces Ready to Defend ‘Motherland’: General Munir

December 5, 2022

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan – Pakistan’s new Army Chief General Syed Asim Munir on Saturday said the military was ready to defend “every inch of our motherland” if attacked, according to sources.

He made the remarks during a visit to the Line of Control (LoC), which divides the disputed Kashmir region claimed by both Pakistan and neighboring India.

“Let me make it categorically clear, Pakistan’s armed forces are ever ready, not only to defend every inch of our motherland, but to take the fight back to the enemy if ever war is imposed on us,” he said, according to a statement from the military’s media wing.

“Indian state will never be able to achieve her nefarious designs,” he added, as CNA quoted.

The two South Asian nuclear powers claim the Kashmir region in full, but rule only parts, and have fought two of their three wars over the area, the report said.

Both sides often accuse each other of breaching a 2003 ceasefire pact by shelling and firing across the LoC, a 740km de facto border that cuts Kashmir into two.

Since early 2021, the LoC has been mostly quiet, following the renewal of a ceasefire agreement between India and Pakistan.

On November 29, Pakistan’s Army Chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa retired after completing a six-year tenure as head of country’s all-powerful military. General Syed Asim Munir was appointed for the position.

“Under the leadership of General Qamar Javed Bajwa, the army demonstrated exemplary services in effectively dealing with various challenges, including the country’s exclusion from the FATF (Financial Action Task Force) Grey List, COVID-19 pandemic, and the recent flashfloods,” the PM office said in a statement.

“You had the honor of leading the best army in the world,” he added as quoted by the Arab News.

In an interview published in an international media outlet on Sunday, Bajwa reiterated the army’s resolve to remain apolitical and – in an apparent reference to former Prime Minister Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf party – said that a campaign had been launched against the armed forces because it refused to intervene in politics.

“Despite some criticism and undue vilification of the armed forces through mass propaganda and meticulously crafted false narratives, the institutional resolve to remain apolitical will remain steadfast,” the outgoing army chief said in the interview, as Arab News reported.

“I am certain that this political quarantine of the armed forces will auger well for Pakistan in the long term by fostering political stability and strengthening the army-to-people bond.”

Source: Khaama Press

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Muslim Parliamentary Caucus demands release of sheikhs

KAMPALA, Uganda, December 5, 2022/APO Group/ -- Members of Parliament under the Muslim Parliamentary Caucus have demanded for the unconditional release of Sheikh Yahya Mwanje.

Led by Hon. Asuman Basalirwa (NUP, Bugiri Municipality), the legislators condemned the illegal arrest of Muslim leaders and their continued detention without trial.

During a press conference on Monday, 05 December 2022, the MPs also demanded that Muslim leaders should be brought to court, and also that their families, doctors and lawyers should be allowed to see them.

“Last week the country witnessed the illegal arrest of Sheikh Yahya Mwanje, one of the leaders of Nakasero Mosque and another Muslim leader from Mbale, Mansa Musa. We are deeply concerned about those arrests,” Basalirwa said adding that, ’the mode of arrest does not befit the status of religious leaders. You would have expected the police or any security agency to summon those religious leaders’. 

He wondered why the religious leaders are picked without following the legal process and detained incommunicado.

Last week the country witnessed the illegal arrest of Sheikh Yahya Mwanje, one of the leaders of Nakasero Mosque and another Muslim leader from Mbale, Mansa Musa

“That is illegal and unconstitutional. We protest that kind of treatment that our religious leaders are being subjected to. We are also concerned that up to now, Sheikh Yahya Mwanje has not been produced before courts of law,” he said.

Hon. Abdallah Kiwanuka (NUP, Mukono North) who also doubles as the Shadow Minister of Internal Affairs said that they are not against arresting any person but the law should be adhered to.

“Whether a person is a Muslim or not, the law should be followed while being arrested. Up to now, the country does not know the charges against these people,” said the Mukono North MP.

Abdallah Kiwanuka demanded that government explains the continued arrests of Muslim clerics under unclear circumstances.

Kiboga West MP, Hon. Abdul Mutumba also demanded that government immediately produces the arrested religious leaders before court.

“It is now more than a week since the arrests were made and these people have not been produced before court. Also, the Muslim leadership should wake up and get interested in this critical issue,” said Mutumba.

Mawokota South MP, Hon. Yusuf Nsibambi said that the humiliation of Muslim clerics should stop and demanded for their immediate release.

Source: Africa-Newsroom

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Muslims in Uganda protest mosque raids, arbitrary arrests


Godfey Olukya


Muslims in Uganda from all segments of society protested Monday against the arbitrary arrests of Muslim leaders during raids on mosques.

Muslim clerics, parliamentarians, businessmen and community members collectively came out to condemn the arrests, which they say are illegal and uncalled for.

"It’s discriminatory for the government to always raid mosques and violently arrest sheikhs without following the law and detain them incommunicado without producing them in courts of law," said Asuman Basalirwa, chairman of the Parliamentary Muslim Forum and a member of parliament representing Bugiri municipality.

Muslim members of parliament (MPs) also protested against the disrespect of the sanctity of mosques by security agencies which enter the places of worship with their shoes on as they carry out arrests.

Among those arrested recently was the deputy leader of the Tabligh Muslim sect in Uganda, Sheikh Yahaya Mwanje, and more than 10 other Muslim worshippers. The Muslim MPs demand that Sheikh Yahaya be released unconditionally and that security agencies allow access to suspects by their families and lawyers or that they be produced in courts of law.

They further demand that other Muslims detained in prisons be produced in courts of law or the government and the security personnel responsible for these acts will be sued and there will be a nationwide mobilization of Muslims.

Katikamu South MP Hassan Kirumira said they will not sit back while their fellow Muslims are abducted illegally.

In a related development, the Uganda Muslim Supreme Council held a press conference in the capital, Kampala, where council’s spokesman, Ashiraf Zziwa Muvawala, condemned the violent arrests.

“We are scared about the manner in which Muslim leaders are being arrested. Many Muslims are being arrested nowadays, and we are not aware why they are being arrested,” he said.

Hajj Abdul Munyokoli, a prominent businessman, said that some Muslim businessmen have been arrested, and up to now, they do not know where they are being held. He said they condemn such arrests.

In the past four weeks, more than 15 Muslims have been arrested in various parts of the country by security agencies. Police spokesman Fred Enanga said that some of those arrested have cases to answer for and will soon be taken to court.

Source: Anadolu Agency

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Nigeria police search for 13 worshippers abducted from mosque

December 6, 2022

Written by VOA

Nigerian police in northwest Katsina state say they have rescued four people abducted by gunmen from a mosque Saturday evening and are searching for at least 13 more still missing.

Katsina state police spokesman Gambo Isah said Monday the worshippers still missing from the attack on the mosque are mostly adult men. He said gunmen on motorcycles attacked the mosque in Funtua, about six hours north of Abuja, Saturday night as people were praying. The attackers shot the Imam and one other person.

Isah told VOA the two survived and are being treated at a local hospital.

"On that day worshippers were observing their last prayers of the night,” he said. “Before the arrival of our police team the hoodlums had already escaped with some worshippers. But a combined effort of police and vigilante successfully went after the terrorists and about four of the victims were rescued. Right now we're looking for about 13 worshippers.”

Local media reported more than 40 people were missing. The mosque attack is the latest in a wave of abduction-for-ransom violence in northern Nigeria that authorities have struggled to stop.

The attacks have increased pressure on President Muahmmadu Buhari’s government to improve security ahead of February elections to choose his successor. Nigeria's national police deployed heavy security to the re-opening on Monday of the Abuja-Kaduna rail line.

Source: Observer

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Southeast Asia


President Sheikh Mohamed and King of Malaysia witness signing of 'historic' oil deal

Dec 06, 2022

President Sheikh Mohamed and Malaysia's king, Sultan Abdullah Sultan Ahmad Shah, on Monday witnessed the signing of a landmark oil deal between the two nations.

An agreement has been established between Abu Dhabi National Oil Company and Malaysia's Petronas to unlock hydrocarbon resources in the emirate.

The partnership is centred on Abu Dhabi’s Unconventional Onshore Block 1, state news agency Wam reported.

“The pioneering award to Malaysia’s national oil and gas company launches the Middle East’s first unconventional oil concession,” Wam stated.

The agreement aims to build on the strong ties between the countries and marks the first time a Malaysian firm has invested in hydrocarbons in Abu Dhabi.

Under the six-year concession agreement, Petronas will hold a 100 per cent stake and operational power to explore and appraise unconventional oil in the block, which covers an area of more than 2,000 square kilometres.

“Unconventional oil” is the term used to describe oil reserves that cannot otherwise be reached using traditional drilling techniques.

The agreement was signed by Dr Sultan Al Jaber, Minister of Industry and Advanced Technology and managing director and group chief executive of Adnoc, and Datuk Tengku Muhammad Taufik, president and group chief executive of Petronas

“We are delighted to partner with Petronas on this historic unconventional oil concession,” said Dr Al Jaber.

“This award ushers a new chapter of strategic energy co-operation in the long-standing relationship between the UAE and Malaysia, and it reinforces the UAE’s position as a trusted investment destination.

“As one of the least carbon intensive oil and gas producers, Adnoc will continue to responsibly unlock value from Abu Dhabi’s vast hydrocarbon resources in a reliable and sustainable manner, to drive local economic growth and support global energy security.

Source: The National News

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Bank Islam shares climb on 10.4 sen dividend for FY2022

December 06, 2022

KUALA LUMPUR (Dec 6): Shares in Bank Islam Malaysia Bhd climbed in the morning session on Tuesday (Dec 6), after the country's first public-listed Islamic bank declared an interim dividend of 10.4 sen per share for the financial year ending Dec 31, 2022 (FY2022).

The stock rose as much as nine sen or 3.5% to RM2.66 a share within the first 30 minutes of the opening bell, before gains were pared.

At 10am, the counter was up six sen or 2.33% at RM2.63, with over 314,000 shares transacted. At RM2.63, Bank Islam was valued at RM5.67 billion.

On Monday, the bank announced an interim single-tier dividend of 10.4 sen per share, amounting to approximately RM224.15 million for FY2022. For previous years, it paid out higher dividends — a 10.93 sen dividend with a total payout of RM226.9 million for FY2021, a 12.6 sen dividend (totalling RM225.9 million) for FY2020, and a 16 sen dividend (RM282.3 million) for FY2019.

Bank Islam said in a statement that its board of directors had also determined that the dividend reinvestment plan will apply to the entire interim dividend, giving shareholders the option to reinvest the dividend into new ordinary shares.

Bank Islam posted a net profit of RM142.86 million for the third quarter ended Sept 30, 2022 (3QFY2022), up 40.57% from RM101.63 million for 3QFY2021, on higher net income. Quarterly revenue rose 25.12% to RM933.68 million, from RM746.22 million a year earlier.

Net profit for the nine-month period ended Sept 30, 2022, however, fell 19.52% to RM365.93 million, from RM454.67 million a year ago, mainly due to higher total overheads and net allowances for impairment on financing and advances. This was despite revenue for the period rising 7.62% to RM2.53 billion, from RM2.35 billion a year ago.

Going forward, the bank said it is looking to provide financial solutions across segments through its retail banking distribution and premier wealth banking, adding that it plans to optimise digitalisation in delivering convenient and personalised services to customers to enhance customer experience.
Source: The Edgemarkets

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New PM Anwar says Malaysia to review plans for 5G network

6 December, 2022

By Rozanna Latiff

KUALA LUMPUR (Reuters) – Malaysia’s newly appointed Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim said on Monday his administration will review a plan for a state-owned 5G network introduced by a previous government, as it was not formulated transparently.

Under the premiership of Muhyiddin Yassin in 2021, Malaysia unveiled a plan for a state-owned agency, Digital Nasional Berhad (DNB), to own the full 5G spectrum, with various carriers using the infrastructure to provide mobile services.

The single-ownership of the 5G spectrum raised concerns from the country’s major carriers over pricing, transparency and monopoly.

Anwar said the 5G plans would be evaluated to ensure they strictly followed procedures, alleging that there had been “no proper tender process”, without specifying details.

“It needs to be reviewed because it was not done in a transparent manner,” Anwar said at a news conference following his first cabinet meeting.

Malaysia had appointed Swedish telecommunications giant Ericsson as its 5G development partner last year.

DNB said it would cooperate with the government’s review, stressing that the award of the contract to Ericsson had been conducted transparently.

“DNB hopes the review… will clear the air and enable full execution and implementation of the 5G rollout for the benefit of the nation,” it said in a statement.

Muhyiddin’s government previously defended the 5G plan, saying it will reduce costs, improve efficiency and accelerate infrastructure development.

The government will also revise and improve the 2023 budget tabled in October, Anwar said. The budget was presented in parliament by the previous government, but was not passed due to the general election.

Anwar also said his government will not roll back certain decisions made by the previous administration, but he did not identify them.

Anwar was appointed premier by the king last month, after the election resulted in an unprecedented hung parliament. Anwar’s bloc did not win a simple majority but he formed a coalition government with the help of other political blocs.

On Friday, he named his cabinet, which includes an ally accused of graft as his deputy.

Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, a co-deputy premier, is on trial over 47 charges of bribery, money laundering and criminal breach of trust. He has pleaded not guilty.

Anwar said he would not compromise on his pledge to fight corruption despite Ahmad Zahid’s appointment.

“I trust my cabinet team is determined to ensure we follow strict rules and the principles of good governance,” he said, adding that previous systems “allowed leaders to steal”.

(Reporting by Rozanna Latiff; Writing by A. Ananthalakshmi; Editing by Kanupriya Kapoor and Raju Gopalakrishnan)

Source: The Print

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