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Islamic World News ( 17 Jan 2023, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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Hindu Texts, Sanskrit In Kerala Islamic School, Academy of Sharia and Advanced Studies to Inculcate Secularism And Democratic Ideas Among Its Students

New Age Islam News Bureau

17 January 2023

 

Representational image. File Photo.

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• Eiffel Tower Tribute To Mahsa Amini In Paris

• Saudi Arabia Preacher, Awad Al-Qarni,  Facing Death Penalty Charged For Using Twitter

• Isolated China Gives Up On UN Listing of LeT’s Deputy Chief Abdul Rehman Makki As Global Terrorist

• Rights Experts- Who Report To The Human Rights Council Urge Pakistan For Action On Coerced Religious Conversions, Child Marriage

 India

• BJP Plans To Mobilise 25,000 Muslim Participants For PM Narendra Modi's BKC Address In Mumbai

• 'Pakistan Has Learnt Its Lesson ... ': Shehbaz Sharif Calls For Honest Talks With PM Modi

• Mukarram Jah, last Nizam of Hyderabad, to be laid to rest at Mecca Masjid on Wednesday

• Terrorist killed in Budgam encounter

• Rajouri grenade attack: Chargesheet against LeT duo

• Months after row over Hyderabad merger, KCR govt to give state funeral to last Nizam

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Europe

• Hundreds Of Persecuted Kiwi Muslims To Gather To Talk About Peace

• French Islamic State fighter and wife on trial in Paris for terrorism

• For Britain's sake, we must unleash the potential of Muslim civil society

• Türkiye slams Sweden's refusal to probe PKK terror group's provocation against President Erdogan

• Israeli army detains Italian activist in occupied West Bank

• Türkiye, Italy have 'close' cooperation on migration, terrorism: Minister

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Arab World

• Saudi Arabia Calls For Stronger Action Against Houthis As Militia Rejects Peace

• Saudi conference promotes culture of quality, excellence in KSA

• Police question Lebanese relatives of 2020 blast victims

• UN envoy encouraged by Yemen truce deal efforts, warns against ‘piecemeal approach’

• OIC, IPHRC Chiefs Discuss Human Rights Issues

• Next Lebanese president must safeguard national interests, withstand pressures: Senior Hezbollah lawmaker

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South Asia

• China Calls On Israel To Stop 'Provocations' Amid Rise In Tensions In Palestinian Territories

• Afghan Women Live Under a Brutal Gender Apartheid System: Canadian MPs

• UN Employ Technology to Stop Afghanistan’s Illicit Opium Cultivation

• Oil deal with Taliban represents China’s growing strategic interest in Afghanistan, says expert

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Pakistan

• Imran Khan hints at returning to Pakistan's National Assembly

• Pakistan's largest province to hold snap polls in win for former PM Imran Khan

• Karachi LG polls: JI emerges as kingmaker after PPP rules out alliance with PTI

• Pakistan’s ruling coalition upsets Imran Khan’s Tehreek-e-Insaf in Karachi vote

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Mideast

• 40 Nations Urge Israel To Lift ‘Punitive’ Sanctions On Palestinians

• Sweden, Finland must send up to 130 “terrorists” to Turkey for NATO bid: Erdogan

• Israel condemned for night raids against Palestinian children

• 40 nations urge Israel to lift ‘punitive’ sanctions on Palestinians

• Israel vows to protect its military from politics

• Iran responsible for 90% of Middle East's problems: Israeli Premier Netanyahu

• UN envoy praises ‘intensification’ of diplomatic activity in resolving Yemen conflict

• Iranian foreign minister due in Türkiye on Tuesday for talks

• Palestinian child dies of wounds from Israeli raid

• Palestinian resistance forces will never give in to Israeli aggressors: Islamic Jihad official

• Legal expert: West uses religious hate-mongering as tool to foment extremism, terrorism

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Africa

• Islamic State Claims Responsibility for DR Congo Church Bombing

• Somali military liberates strategic coastal town from al-Shabaab terrorists

• Ankara, Moscow discuss measures to send Turkish-made Russian flour to Africa

• Terror attack kills 5 soldiers in NW Mali

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North America

• Senior US Officials Make Quiet Stops In Iraq, Jordan

• UK And US Weapons Used In Yemen Make Them Complicit

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Southeast Asia

• Malaysian Festival Seeking to Promote Quranic Arts in World: Organizer

• Six Islamic extremists surrender in Philippines

• Study: ‘Ultranationalist’ groups gaining traction in Malaysian online space following Umno’s defeat in 2018 polls

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau

URL:   https://newageislam.com/islamic-world-news/hindu-sanskrit-sharia-secularism/d/128897

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Hindu Texts, Sanskrit In Kerala Islamic School, Academy of Sharia and Advanced Studies to Inculcate Secularism And Democratic Ideas Among Its Students

 

Representational image. File Photo.

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January 16, 2023

Thrissur: Basic Sanskrit grammar in class 11 and 12 and then Bhagavad Gita as well as other Hindu texts in the 'Deva Bhasha' in subsequent years of study is the structured syllabus prepared for its students by an Islamic institute in Kerala's Thrissur district.

The new syllabus will come into operation from June 2023 when the new academic year starts.

The Academy of Sharia and Advanced Studies (ASAS) run by Malik Deenar Islamic Complex (MIC) was in the news recently for setting an example by teaching Sanskrit, also known as 'Deva Bhasha', to its students with the help of Hindu scholars.

The decision, to come out with a structured syllabus to teach the ancient and classical language, was taken to inculcate in the students, knowledge and awareness about other religions, the institute said.

The MIC ASAS was teaching its students selective portions of the Bhagavad Gita, Upanishads, Mahabharata, Ramayana in Sanskrit for the last seven years.

Hafiz Aboobacker, one of the coordinators at the institute, told PTI that the earlier Sanskrit syllabus was not very detailed.

The latest one is a syllabus for a eight-year course starting from plus two till post graduation, he said.

The students will now also have the option to opt for a degree or post-graduate course in Sanskrit, Aboobacker said.

He said the syllabus was a joint effort of Dr C M Neelakandan -- a retired professor of Sanskrit Literature from the Sree Sankaracharya University of Sanskrit -- and Dr Shamseer P C -- assistant professor, department of Sanskrit, Kerala University.

The idea was not to just teach them a language, but to also familiarise students with these ancient Hindu texts so that they understand religion and can make informed decisions for themselves, he said.

"It will also help to build secular and democratic ideas among students," he said.

According to the latest syllabus, in plus two, the students would be familiarised with basic grammar, words, declensions, gender, number and sentence construction in Sanskrit.

After that, during the first two years of their undergraduate studies, they would be taught Mahakavya, basic grammar, Sanskrit drama, computer, Sanskrit stotra, grammar, prose and Tarkasamgraha -- a treatise in Sanskrit giving a foundational exposition of the ancient Indian system of logic and reasoning.

In the final year, Bhagavad Gita, translation and Sankhya would be taught to students, according to the syllabus shared by the institute.

During post-graduation, syllabus would include Vedic Suktas, Vedantasara, Dramaturgy, Upanishads, Natyasastra, yoga, Bhasa study and Book review, it said.

The institution is primarily a Sharia college where other languages, like Urdu and English are also taught besides a degree course in Arts as it is affiliated to Calicut University.

Source: ND TV

Please click the following URL to read the text of the original story:

https://www.ndtv.com/india-news/bhagavad-gita-other-hindu-texts-part-of-sanskrit-syllabus-of-islamic-institute-in-kerala-3696675

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Eiffel Tower Tribute To Mahsa Amini In Paris

 

The landmark was lit up with slogans paying tribute to Mahsa Amini

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January 16, 2023

PARIS: Some 5,000 people marched Monday to the EU parliament in the French city of Strasbourg in support of Iran’s anti-government protesters as Paris prepared an Eiffel Tower tribute to Mahsa Amini, whose death in September prompted the demonstrations.

The Strasbourg march was organized by Iranians in Europe on the 44th anniversary of the day when Iran’s last Shah, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, ailing and under growing pressure, left the country for ever. The following month, the monarchy collapsed under the fervour of the Islamic revolution that gave Iran its theocracy. Some of the demonstrators Monday carried photos of the former king.

Last week, over 100 MEPs signed a letter calling for the European Union to take a firmer stance against Iran.

The European parliament’s plenary session is to debate the EU’s response this week to the protests and executions in the Islamic Republic. A non-binding resolution is to be voted on Thursday.

The MEPs’ letter to Josep Borrell, the EU’s High Representative for Foreign Affairs, called on the bloc to designate the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps “in its entirety as a terrorist organization.” The IRGC was designated a foreign terrorist organization by the US in 2019.

Paris City Hall said in a statement that the words “Woman. Life. Freedom.” and “#StopExecutionsInIran” will be displayed on the Eiffel Tower on Monday and Tuesday evening to mark four months from the death of Mahsa Amini, in a “homage to those who are bravely fighting for their freedom as the (Iranian) regime is continuing executions of protesters.”

Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo and some deputy mayors are expected to go to the Eiffel Tower Monday in a show of support. Paris posthumously declared Amani an honorary citizen in October.

Iran has been rocked by protests since the Sept. 16 death of the 22-year-old, who died after being detained by the morality police. The protests have since become one of the most serious challenges to Iran’s leaders.

Source: Arab News

Please click the following URL to read the text of the original story:

https://www.arabnews.com/node/2233526/middle-east

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Saudi Arabia Preacher, Awad Al-Qarni,  Facing Death Penalty Charged For Using Twitter

 

Saudi preacher Awad al-Qarni (Screengrab)

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15 January 2023

The charges against a prominent Saudi Arabian preacher facing the death penalty include the use of social media accounts and messaging apps, according to court documents.

Awad al-Qarni, 65, had "admitted" to using a Twitter account under his name "at every opportunity… to express his opinions", the documents seen by the Guardian revealed on Sunday.

Qarni was arrested in 2017 in a sweeping crackdown on preachers, academics, journalists, businesspeople and others.

The allegations against him also included the creation of a Telegram account and sharing news considered "hostile" to the kingdom in a WhatsApp chat.

Additionally, the law professor was accused of praising the Muslim Brotherhood movement in a video.

Admissions and confessions during interrogations in Saudi prisons are often taken after torture and mistreatment.

A year after his arrest, the public prosecutor called for Qarni to face the death penalty along with Salman Odah and Ali al-Omari.

Qarni, Omari and Odah are independent religious and media figures with a large following among Saudi Arabian and Arab youth.

The Saudi government has been accused by human rights groups of a widespread crackdown on dissent and freedom of expression.

Repression has increased since Mohammed bin Salman became crown prince and de-facto ruler of the kingdom in the summer of 2017.

Saudi officials say the kingdom does not have political prisoners.

Despite promises by the government to reduce death penalty sentences, a recent increase in the number of executions has raised alarm among human rights groups.

Last year, the kingdom executed 147 people, including the mass execution of 81 people in one day, according to the European Saudi Organization for Human Rights.

The Germany-based group says at least 61 people are facing the death penalty as of December 2022, adding that the actual number is likely higher.

Some right groups fear the prisoners, including Qarni, Omari and Odah, may be swept up in a mass execution.

Nasser al-Qarni, Awad's son, fled the country last year and sought asylum in the UK after Saudi officials threatened him with jail or execution if he spoke out about his father.

"We, inside Saudi Arabia, have exhausted all possible means to release my father and stop the oppression he is subjected to, but to no avail," he said in October.

"Unfortunately, my country is failing, not only in terms of human rights but in all areas, socially, economically and politically," he added.

Source: Middle East Eye

Please click the following URL to read the text of the original story:

https://www.middleeasteye.net/news/saudi-arabia-awad-qarni-death-penalty-using-twitter

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Isolated China Gives Up On UN Listing of LeT’s Deputy Chief Abdul Rehman Makki As Global Terrorist

 

Lashkar-e-Toiba's kingpins Haifz Saeed and his brother in law Abdul Rehman Makki.

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Jan 17, 2023

By Shishir Gupta

With India getting 14 out of 15 members of the UN Security Council on its side, China today was forced to give up the “technical” hold on the designation of Lahore-based Lashkar-e-Toiba’s deputy chief Abdul Rehman Makki as a global terrorist by the 1267 UN Sanctions committee. Brother-in-law of designated terrorist and LeT chief Hafiz Saeed, Makki used to raise funds from the Middle East for the terror group under the garb of being head of the foreign relations committee. The US Justice Department had put a bounty of USD two million on Makki’s head in November 2010.

According to diplomats based in New York, China was isolated in the UNSC over Makki as India made it clear that it would continue raising the listing of the Lashkar terrorist and the role played by China in providing cover to Pakistan-based groups till its objective was achieved. China, as a permanent UNSC member, had put a technical hold on listing Makki as a global terrorist in the 1267 committee in July 2022. India also wants 26/11 killer Sajjid Mir of LeT to be listed as a global terrorist by the same committee.

Over the years, China has virtually worked as an agent of Pakistan in the UNSC by blocking efforts made by the Narendra Modi government with its allies US and France to get Pakistan-based terrorists like Hafiz Saeed, Jaish-e-Mohammed Masood Azhar and his brother Rauf Azhar listed as global terrorists by the ISIS and Al Qaida Sanctions Committee. Despite Masood Azhar running a terror factory in Bahawalpur in Punjab and responsible for major terror attacks in India, which could have even triggered a war between the two neighbors, China blocked his designation four times before giving up. The same was the case with LeT’s Hafiz Saeed, who planned and orchestrated the 26/11 Mumbai attacks with his lieutenants Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi and Sajjid Mir with the full operational support of Pakistani intelligence. The clout of these two terrorist groups in Pakistan is such that both Saeed and Azhar are feted by the Pakistani intelligence and are considered force multipliers of the Pakistani coercive tactics against India and the west.

While China has justified placing hurdles in listing of known Pak terrorists and terror group by saying it is an Indo-Pak issue, fact is that Beijing connived with Islamabad to get innocent Indians working in Afghanistan designated as global terrorists by the same 1267 committee. All such attempts were blocked by India’s close allies US and France.

By designating Makki as a global terrorist and restricting his foreign travel, the LeT will face a crunch in collecting terror funds in the name of Islam from the Middle-East and in the name of flood relief. Lashkar terrorist group professes Salafi Islamic ideology and has close links with other Salafi outfits in the Middle-East like Muslim Brotherhood and other radical outfits in the region.
Source: Hindustan Times

Please click the following URL to read the text of the original story:

https://www.hindustantimes.com/world-news/isolated-china-gives-up-on-un-listing-of-let-s-makki-as-global-terrorist-101673926613204.html

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Rights Experts- Who Report To The Human Rights Council Urge Pakistan For Action On Coerced Religious Conversions, Child Marriage

 

Unsplash/Shiza Nazir The entrance of Delhi Gate, in Lahore, Pakistan.

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16 January 2023

In their appeal to the authorities to stop the alleged abuse, the experts warned that teenagers had been “kidnapped from their families, trafficked … far from their homes (and) made to marry men sometimes twice their age”.

The rights experts - who report to the Human Rights Council – cited reports suggesting the involvement of religious authorities and the complicity of security forces and the justice system; although they also acknowledged that Pakistan had already made efforts to pass legislation prohibiting such illegal practices.

‘Immediate steps’ needed

“We urge the Government to take immediate steps to prevent and thoroughly investigate these acts objectively and in line with domestic legislation and international human rights commitments. Perpetrators must be held fully accountable,” the experts said.

In a statement urging Pakistan to uphold the rights of women and children, the group of nearly a dozen independent experts and Special Rapporteurs, maintained that Pakistan’s courts had enabled the perpetrators by accepting “fraudulent evidence” from them, regarding the age of the victims and their willingness to marry and convert to Islam.

‘Justifying’ abuse

They noted that the courts had also sometimes “misused interpretations of religious law to justify victims remaining with their abusers”; the police had also failed victims’ families by refusing to register the abductions, or dismissing them as “love marriages”.

Threat of violence

They said they were “very concerned” that marriages and conversions have taken place “under threat of violence to these girls and women or their families.”

“Abductors force their victims to sign documents which falsely attest to their being of legal age for marriage as well as marrying and converting of free will. These documents are cited by the police as evidence that no crime has occurred.”

The experts said it was imperative that all victims, regardless of religious background, are afforded access to justice and equal protection under the law.

Adopt and enforce the law

“Pakistani authorities must adopt and enforce legislation prohibiting forced conversions, forced and child marriages, kidnapping, and trafficking, and abide by their international human rights commitments to combat slavery and human trafficking and uphold the rights of women and children,” they said.

Special Rapporteurs and other independent experts – such as the five endorsing Monday’s statement from the Working Group on discrimination against women and girls – are part of the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council.

The are not UN staff, do not receive any salary, and are independent of any government or organising, serving in their own individual capacity.

Source: News UN

Please click the following URL to read the text of the original story:

https://news.un.org/en/story/2023/01/1132482

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 India

 BJP Plans To Mobilise 25,000 Muslim Participants For PM Narendra Modi's BKC Address In Mumbai

Jan 17, 2023

MUMBAI: BJP state secretary and ex-chairman of Maulana Azad Minorities Finance Development Corporation Haider Azam has said that he and his party workers would ensure at least 25,000 Muslims attend the January 19 meeting which PM Narendra Modi is scheduled to address at the BKC ground. "We are mobilising Muslim participants from minority pockets, like Mohammed Ali Road, Bandra, Kurla, Mira Road, Malad-Malvani, Mumbra and Bhiwandi.

Source: Times Of India

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

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/mumbai/bjp-plans-to-mobilise-25000-muslim-participants-for-pm-narendra-modis-bkc-address-in-mumbai/articleshow/97043110.cms?from=mdr

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'Pakistan Has Learnt Its Lesson ... ': Shehbaz Sharif Calls For Honest Talks With PM Modi

Jan 17, 2023

NEW DELHI: Pakistan PM Shehbaz Sharif has called for an honest talk with Prime Minister Narendra Modi on various burning issues like Kashmir. Sharif, in an interview with a Dubai-based Arabic news channel, stressed that Pakistan has learnt its lesson and wants to live in peace with India.

"My message to the Indian leadership and Prime Minister Modi is that let's sit down on the table and have serious and sincere talks to resolve our burning points like Kashmir. It is up to us to live peacefully and make progress or quarrel with each other and waste time and resources," Sharif said.

The Pakistan PM said that it is up to both the nations to live peacefully and progress or quarrel with each other.

"We have had three wars with India, and they have only brought more misery, poverty, and unemployment to the people. We have learnt our lesson, and we want to live in peace with India, provided we are able to resolve our genuine problems," Sharif said in the interview that was aired on Monday.

Pakistan, which is battling a severe economic crisis, public discontent against the ruling regime due to flour crisis and fuel shortage among others is also faced with rising instances of terror attacks by the proscribed outfit Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), which had ended a ceasefire with the country's security forces late last year.

"India is our neighbour country, we are neighbours. Let's be very blunt, even if we are not neighbours by choice we are there for ever and it is up to us for us to live peacefully and progress or quarrel with each other and waste time and resources. That is up to us," Sharif said in the interview.

Bringing u up the subject of Kashmir, he said, "Pakistan wants peace but what is happening in Kashmir should be stopped."

"Pakistan does not want to waste resources on bombs and ammunition. We are nuclear powers, armed to the teeth, and if God forbids, a war breaks out, who will live to tell what happened?" Sharid said.

Source: Times Of India

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

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/pakistan-has-learnt-its-lesson-shehbaz-sharif-calls-for-honest-talks-with-pm-modi/articleshow/97048679.cms

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Mukarram Jah, last Nizam of Hyderabad, to be laid to rest at Mecca Masjid on Wednesday

January 17, 2023

The mortal remains of Mukarram Jah, the titular eighth Nizam of Hyderabad, will reach the city Tuesday evening and the public will be allowed to pay their respects at Chowmahalla Palace between 8 am and 1 pm Wednesday, a statement issued by his office on behalf of the family said. Arrangements are being put in place at the iconic Mecca Masjid for the final rites of the last Nizam on Wednesday.

Jah, 89, the successor and grandson of the seventh Nizam Mir Osman Ali Khan Bahadur, passed away on Saturday night in Turkey’s Istanbul where he had been living. His mortal remains are being brought to Hyderabad as per his desire to be laid to rest in his homeland.

The Telangana government has decided to accord full state honours to Mukarram Jah. “In recognition of Mukarram Jah’s social services in the fields of education and medicine for the poor as the successor of the Nizam, the Chief Minister directed chief secretary Shanthi Kumar to conduct Jah’s last rites with the highest state honours,” a statement from the Chief Minister’s Office said.

Born in France on October 6, 1933 to Prince Azam Jah and Princess Durru Shehvar, the daughter of the last Caliph of the Ottoman empire Sultan Abdul Mejid II, Mukarram Jah was coronated as Asaf Jah the Eighth on April 6, 1967 after the passing away of Mir Osman Ali Khan in February 1967.

“The mortal remains of H.E.H. the VIII Nizam late Nawab Mir Barkat Ali Khan Walashan Mukarram Jah Bahadur will be brought from Turkey and will arrive at Rajiv Gandhi International Airport, Hyderabad at 05.00 PM IST, 17.01.2023. The mortal remains will be brought directly to Chowmahalla Palace,” a statement issued by his office on behalf of the family said.

The family, its trustees, staff and close friends will be allowed to pay their final respects to the last Nizam between 7 pm and 10 pm on Tuesday at the Chowmahalla Palace, according to the statement.

On Wednesday at around 4 pm, “the mortal remains will be carried to Mecca Masjid and arrangements have been made such that a maximum number of people are able to give ‘Kandha’ to H.E.H. the VIII Nizam. After Asar prayers, H.E.H. the VIII Nizam will be laid to rest by his immediate family,” the statement added.

While the Nizam’s Dominion of Hyderabad ceased to exist after it acceded to the Indian union in 1948, the seventh Nizam Mir Osman Ali Khan served as the Raj Pramukh of the state from January 26, 1950, when it accepted the Indian Constitution, till October 31, 1956, when parts of the Hyderabad state were merged with neighbouring regions to form Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Maharashtra. In June 1954, Osman Ali Khan wrote to the Union Government to recognise Mukarram Jah as his successor and the request from the former monarch was accepted by the Centre in 1964.

Following the passing of Osman Ali Khan in 1966, Jah continued to hold the title of the Nizam of Hyderabad till November 1971 when the government abolished the privy purse and royal titles. He moved to Perth in Australia the next year and bought a sheep farm spread across 5 lakh acres and visited Hyderabad occasionally.

Source: Indian Express

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

https://indianexpress.com/article/cities/hyderabad/mukarram-jah-last-nizam-of-hyderabad-to-be-laid-to-rest-at-mecca-masjid-on-wednesday-8386489/

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Terrorist killed in Budgam encounter

Jan 17, 2023

SRINAGAR: An unidentified terrorist was killed in an encounter with security forces in Budgam district of Jammu and Kashmir on Tuesday, officials said here.

An Army official said soldiers set up a mobile vehicle check point at Budgam following information about movement of terrorists in the area.

"A cab was signalled to stop for check but the terrorists inside opened fire on the security forces, which was retaliated," the official said.

He said one terrorist was killed, while the operation was still in progress.

Source: Times Of India

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

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/terrorist-killed-in-budgam-encounter/articleshow/97048787.cms

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Rajouri grenade attack: Chargesheet against LeT duo

Jan 17, 2023

SRINAGAR: J&K police on Monday filed chargesheet against two persons, accused to be associates of Lashkar-e-Taiba, in connection with a grenade throwing case in Rajouri district in which a minor was killed and six people injured in 2021.

“Police Rajouri filed a charge sheet in case FIR No. 542/2021 U/S 307/120-B/121/122 IPC, 3/4 Explosive Act, 13-ULA (P) of P/S Rajouri before the court of 3rd Additional Sessions Judge Jammu against 02 accused namely Altaf Hussain Shah of Draj, Tehsil-Koteranka District Rajouri and absconding accused namely Mohammad Qasim alias Suleiman Gujjar of Angrala Tehsil Mahore District Reasi presently in PoK,” police said in a statement .

“The accused person threw a grenade in the house of one Romesh Singh son of Lal Chand at o Khandli Chowk and due to explosion one child aged 03 year old Veer Singh died and several others including Romesh Singh, wife Siya Devi, his sons Jasbir Singh and Balbir Singh, Arjun Singh , and Karan Singh sustained serious injuries.”

Source: Times Of India

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

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/rajouri-grenade-attack-chargesheet-against-let-duo/articleshow/97039101.cms

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Months after row over Hyderabad merger, KCR govt to give state funeral to last Nizam

by Sreenivas Janyala

January 17, 2023

The last titular Nizam of Hyderabad, Mukarram Jah, who died in Turkey on Saturday night will be buried with full state honours at the city’s Mecca Masjid on Wednesday.

Chief Minister K Chandrashekar Rao, popularly known as KCR, has expressed condolences and directed Chief Secretary A Santhi Kumari to make arrangements. Government advisor A K Khan, a former IPS officer, has also been asked to coordinate with Jah’s family to arrange the funeral. The body arrived in Hyderabad on Sunday and was shifted to Chowmahalla Palace, where pre-burial rituals were performed on Monday. Mukarram Jah, as per his final wishes, will be laid to rest by the side of his predecessors from the Asaf Jahi dynasty.

The KCR-led government’s decision on Sunday to accord state honours to Mukarram Jah — the grandson of the last reigning Nizam, Mir Osman Ali Khan — comes months after his party, the Bharat Rashtra Samithi (BRS), and the BJP engaged in a war of words over the legacy of the rule of the Nizam’s and Hyderabad state’s integration with India. The two parties will lock horns later this year for the Assembly elections, with the BJP trying its best to expand its electoral footprint in the state.

Last September, the BRS, then the Telangana Rashtra Samithi, and the BJP squared off over the commemoration of the merger of the erstwhile princely state of Hyderabad merged with India on September 17, 1948. The KCR-led party had never observed September 17 during its rule but its hand was forced after the BJP-led Union government announced it would observe September 17 as Hyderabad State Liberation Day. In response, the Telangana government observed the day as Telangana National Unity Day.

The BJP accused KCR of not observing September 17 to avoid upsetting Asaduddin Owaisi and his party, the All India Majlis-E-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM), and his party’s Muslim supporters. For the BRS and KCR, anything related to the Nizams is akin to walking a tightrope. KCR has nurtured the support of Muslims and has benefitted from minority votes in constituencies where the AIMIM does not contest. The AIMIM and the BRS are officially not allies but both parties are understood to have an understanding with each other.

For the BJP, the sore point is the private militia known as Razakars who were born out of the Majlis-e-Ittehad-ul-Muslimeen (MIM). The Razakars in the 1940s were unleashed by the Nizam against peasant protesters who were inclined to join the Union of India during discussions about independence. But the Owaisi-led party says that the MIM ceased to exist after September 17 and has nothing to do with the AIMIM.

At the time of the controversy last year, state BJP chief Bandi Sanjay Kumar said the BJP places a lot of importance on commemorating September 17 because of the history of violence that preceded Hyderabad’s merger with India. “It is emotional because the Nizam’s men unleashed brutality on people and not celebrating their liberation so as not to hurt someone’s sentiments is not acceptable,’’ he said.

The Opposition party has not yet reacted to Mukarram Jah’s death or the state government’s decision to lay him to rest with state honours. The Congress, meanwhile, has supported the government’s decision. Former state minister Mohammed Ali Shabbir said Jah served the people of Hyderabad through several charitable trusts and institutions.

Source: Indian Express

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

https://indianexpress.com/article/political-pulse/hyderabad-last-nizam-state-funeral-kcr-merger-row-8385659/

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Europe

 

Hundreds Of Persecuted Kiwi Muslims To Gather To Talk About Peace

17 January 2023

Hundreds of people from across New Zealand will attend the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community’s 34th Annual Convention, or Jalsa Salana, at Alfriston College on the 20th and 21st of January 2023.

The event, held by local Ahmadi Muslims the world over, serves as a forum to learn about various religious and contemporary topics; the theme this year is religion and societal peace.

“The Ahmadiyya Muslim Community has always championed peace,” explains Imam Mustenser Qamar. “In fact, the Caliph of the Community, his Holiness Mirza Masroor Ahmad, has addressed leaders at parliaments across the world, preaching peace and tolerance and condemning all forms of violence and unrest.”

National President of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, Mr Bashir Khan said:

“Many of the attendees are former refugee, some of whom have recently been settled in New Zealand. For them, this will be the first time they are peacefully and freely able to gather and practice what our faith preaches.”

“In the past year, hundreds of those members of our Community who have managed to flee the state-backed persecution we face in Pakistan, have been settled here and made New Zealand their new home. They’ve been settled mainly in Nelson, Masterton and Wellington. A large number of them will be making the journey to Auckland to attend this blessed two day event.”

The National Vice-President and head of the arrangements for the Jalsa Salana, Mr Yunus Hanif, mentioned:

“This year is unique for our community. We have many community members arriving from across the country. However, this event is not just for the community. We have a special guest session on Saturday 21st January from 11am, where everyone is welcome. Numerous political, religious and community leaders, as well as members of the wider public are expected to attend. The session will include the keynote presentation, which aims to highlight the role Islam plays in promoting societal peace, and will conclude with lunch for all attendees.”

All members of the public wishing to attend can RSVP through the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community New Zealand Facebook page.

Source: Scoop

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

https://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/CU2301/S00075/hundreds-of-persecuted-kiwi-muslims-to-gather-to-talk-about-peace.htm

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French Islamic State fighter and wife on trial in Paris for terrorism

17/01/2023

Frenchman Jonathan Geffroy is accused of terrorist offences in Syria, as are his wife and mother. Geoffroy has provided valuable information for French anti-terrorism investigators.

Geffroy, 40, sits alone in the prisoner's box at the Paris Special Criminal Court.

His two co-accused - his wife, Latifa Chadli, and his mother - are under judicial control and are free to sit in the open court, on the seats just outside the glass-walled high security box.

The couple's now eight-year-old child is a civil plaintiff in the case, and is represented by a victims' support organisation.

Geffroy and Chadli, who arrived in the Syrian war zone in early 2015 with their then 2-month-old child, were arrested by members of the anti-Assad Free Syrian Army in 2017, and subsequently handed over to the French authorities.

Links to Bataclan killers

Originally from Toulouse, Geoffroy converted to Islam in 2007, and met and married Chaddi in Morocco.

On their arrival in Syria in February 2015, Geffroy was assigned to the fighting brigade known as Anwar al-Awlaki.

Members were predominantly French-speaking, and the group was dominated by the brothers Jean-Michel and Fabien Clain, also from Toulouse, who worked as propagandists for the Islamic State armed group and were both sentenced to life in prison for their part in planning and promoting the November 2015 Paris attacks.

Geoffroy fought in the city of Ramadi under another French leader, Abdelilah Himich, who helped plan the Bataclan attack, where 90 people were killed.

Child soldiers

In November 2016, Geffroy contacted French anti-terrorist police, saying he wanted to escape with his family from Syria.

He has since been described as a precious source of information for French investigators.

He revealed Islamic State plans to use child soldiers, the so-called "Caliphate cubs", to undertake suicide terrorist missions in Europe.

He also detailed plans for an attack targeting a French nuclear reactor and provided the police with the names of dozens of French nationals who had joined the ranks of Islamic State.

The trial got underway on Monday and will wrap up on 23 January.

Geffroy and Chadli face thirty years in jail if found guilty of associating with terrorists.

Source: RFI

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

https://www.rfi.fr/en/france/20230117-french-islamic-state-fighter-and-wife-on-trial-in-paris-for-terrorism

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For Britain's sake, we must unleash the potential of Muslim civil society

Usaama al-Azami

16 January 2023

Monday marks the release of the British Muslim Civil Society Report 2023 at a launch event backed by the All-Party Parliamentary Group on British Muslims.

Based on a year of on-the-ground research, as the author of this report I explored the significant contributions made by Britain’s Muslims to the charity sector. It is the first report specifically dedicated to this theme, and its recommendations are directed at a range of stakeholders in the Muslim community as well as the wider civil society space.

The cost-of-living crisis and a new winter of discontent have put a spotlight on just how essential civil society is when public institutions such as the NHS, to take just one example, are under unprecedented pressure. While charitable institutions cannot make up for shortfalls in state funding, they are essential for staving off even worse outcomes from repeated crises.

Civil society, sometimes called the third sector, is made up of the charities and voluntary organisations that run our youth and community associations, our soup kitchens, our advocacy groups and our places of worship. They are the indispensable bedrock of a vibrant democracy.

The Muslim contribution to this sector is decades old and increasing in importance.

Recently released census data indicates that Muslims now make up 6.5 percent of the population of England and Wales, up from 4.9 percent at the time of the last census in 2011.

There are now 3.9 million Muslims in England and Wales. This population tends towards youthfulness and will bear a disproportionate degree of the nation’s economic burdens in the coming decades as our population ages. The Muslim Council of Britain (MCB) has described this aspect of Britain’s Muslims as “a strategic national asset” for Britain.

Civic duty grounded in faith

In its analysis of 2021 census data, the MCB has also highlighted that several important local authority districts in England now have very substantial proportions of Muslims. Roughly 30 percent of Birmingham's population, 22 percent of Manchester's and 15 percent of London’s are now Muslim.

Indeed, one London borough, Tower Hamlets, had the highest proportion of Muslims of any local authority in the country, at 40 percent.

As the focus groups that have informed this report indicate, many Muslims are driven to contribute to civil society out of a sense of civic duty that arises from their Islamic faith. Muslims feel that their faith calls on them to serve their communities and their neighbours of all faiths and none.

Additionally, studies have indicated that the Muslim population maintains its commitment to faith to a greater extent than the wider society. As recent census data has indicated, Britain is now a minority Christian country, with no particular faith commitment (including those who identify as having no religion) crossing the 50 percent mark. Britain is now truly a diverse landscape when it comes to religion.

In this context, it is especially valuable for Muslims to continue to cultivate what I witnessed was a widespread value in our communities: a faith-based motivation to serve humanity at large.

Furthermore, this should remind stakeholders in the charitable and public sectors that although secularisation is the dominant tendency of our societies, we should be wary of a one-size-fits-all approach to faith in public life.

Any such approach, especially one that seeks to marginalise faith from the public sphere in anything other than a symbolic form, could unwittingly end up marginalising voices that have much to contribute to our civil society spaces. Instead, we can broaden the conversation about the nature of civil society and public life in our increasingly diverse socio-cultural landscape.

High levels of poverty

Ironically for a religious community that was referred to by a past prime minister as Britain’s “biggest donors” who “give more to charity than any other faith group”, Britain’s Muslims themselves suffer disproportionate levels of poverty.

MCB analysis indicates that 40 percent of the Muslim population lives in the most deprived 20 percent of local authority districts. Further research they have shared with me indicates that roughly two-thirds of those Muslims (30 percent of British Muslims overall) live in the most deprived 10 percent of local authority districts in the country.

Yet, as my analysis indicates, Muslims have historically tended to send significant proportions of their charitable largesse overseas.

As I argue in the report, if such funds were strategically deployed in the UK, this may result in better outcomes both domestically and internationally. This would require Muslims to undertake regular exercises in introspection and critical self-reflection as a community in order to adopt a more strategic outlook on their charitable endeavours.

Partnerships with the public and private sectors

Part of a more strategic outlook would entail exploring how to form effective partnerships by cultivating supportive partners in local and national government, as well as within the business community.

A healthy society requires that the public, private and third sectors work in mutually supportive ways to contribute to better outcomes overall for our societies.

This report thus calls for closer partnerships between these three sectors.

Whether it is through the Faith Covenant, which calls on local government and religious groups to work more closely in addressing crises, or by encouraging successful Muslim businesses to create philanthropic foundations, Britain’s Muslims can find innovative ways to empower civil society and make their charitable endeavours go the extra mile at a time when Britain most needs it.

Efforts like the British Muslim Civil Society Report, which we hope will become a regular publication, can help provide an opportunity to step back and take stock of how the Muslim community in Britain can reflect on its civil society engagement.

Source: Middle East Eye

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

https://www.middleeasteye.net/opinion/uk-british-muslim-civil-society-country-sake-unleash-potential

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Türkiye slams Sweden's refusal to probe PKK terror group's provocation against President Erdogan

Merve Aydogan  

16.01.2023

Türkiye on Monday strongly criticized Sweden for refusing to prosecute supporters of the PKK/YPG terror group for last week’s provocative demonstrations against President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in the capital Stockholm.

“Once again, the silence of those who claim to champion democracy, pluralism, and freedom in the face of this vile terrorist act means nothing but supporting terrorism,” Omer Celik, spokesman for the Justice and Development (AK) Party, told reporters in the capital Ankara.

Actions depicting the murder of a country’s head of state would not be regarded as freedom of expression anywhere in the world, Celik said, reiterating that what PKK/YPG supporters did last week “has nothing to do with freedom of speech.”

The Swedish prosecutor’s decision not to punish the perpetrators means “a terrorist group can take any action it wants in Sweden; it can threaten the heads of states of friendly countries,” he said.

Celik called out Sweden for becoming a “propaganda center of these terrorists.”

He warned that the ambiguous stance of Swedish politicians and judiciary on terrorism and counterterrorism issues poses a threat to the country’s own national interests.

“During our negotiations in Türkiye, they (Swedish officials) said that they would work seriously to revise their laws on terrorism and make them stronger,” said Celik, who was speaking to journalists after a meeting of the AK Party’s Central Executive Board.

“Although they have taken some steps, the situation remains same,” he added.

He urged Swedish authorities to honor the pledges on anti-terrorism efforts it made to gain NATO membership.

Sweden and Finland formally applied to join NATO in May, abandoning decades of military non-alignment, a decision spurred by Russia’s war on Ukraine.

But Türkiye – a NATO member for more than 70 years – voiced objections, accusing the two countries of tolerating and even supporting terror groups, including the PKK and Fetullah Terrorist Organization (FETO).

Last June, Türkiye and the two Nordic countries signed a memorandum to address Ankara’s legitimate security concerns, paving the way for their eventual membership in the alliance.

Türkiye has praised some steps taken by Sweden and Finland but says the countries need to do more to show their firm stance against terrorism and terror groups that threaten Türkiye.

In its more than 35-year terror campaign against Türkiye, the PKK – listed as a terrorist organization by Türkiye, the US and EU – has been responsible for the deaths of over 40,000 people, including women, children, and infants.

Source: Anadolu Agency

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

https://www.aa.com.tr/en/europe/turkiye-slams-swedens-refusal-to-probe-pkk-terror-groups-provocation-against-president-erdogan/2789235

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Israeli army detains Italian activist in occupied West Bank

Awad al-Rujoub  

16.01.2023

RAMALLAH, Palestine

The Israeli army on Monday detained a foreign activist from the Dheisheh refugees camp, in the southern Bethlehem city of the occupied West Bank.

The official Wafa news agency identified the activist as Italian named Stefania in her fifties.

It added that she was detained from the home of Palestinian journalist Nidal Abu Aker who is being held in Israeli jails.

Speaking to Anadolu, Hazem Abu Aker, one of the residents whose home was stormed by the Israeli forces in the Dheisheh refugees camp, said the Italian activist was detained after searching several homes where the Israeli forces checked the IDs of the women to arrest her.

The Palestinian Prisoners Society, an NGO, confirmed that the Israeli forces raided the home of journalist Abu Aker, harassed his family and detained a foreign activist.

Abu Aker served nearly 18 years in Israeli jails most of the time he was placed under the administrative detention without charge or trial. His last arrest was in August.

The policy of administrative detention allows Israeli authorities to detain anyone for six months without charge or trial, which can be extended indefinitely.

During the raid on the Dheisheh refugees camp, a Palestinian boy, 14, was shot in his head by the Israeli forces, and was later pronounced dead.

There was no statement from the Israeli army regarding the developments in the West Bank.

Source: Anadolu Agency

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

https://www.aa.com.tr/en/europe/israeli-army-detains-italian-activist-in-occupied-west-bank/2789233

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Türkiye, Italy have 'close' cooperation on migration, terrorism: Minister

Diyar Guldogan  

16.01.2023

Türkiye and Italy have been coordinating in many areas including migration, organized crime and terrorism, Turkish Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu said on Monday.

"Apart from the fight against migrant smuggling and migration flow, there is a close cooperation and relationship between Italy and Türkiye in the fight against organized crime, cross-border crimes and drugs, and the fight against terrorism," Soylu told a news conference with his Italian counterpart Matteo Piantedosi in the capital Ankara.

Soylu said the security teams of Türkiye and Italy are in such contact with each other that they have the ability and capacity to intervene immediately in case of criminal activity.

During Piantedosi's visit, a memorandum of understanding was signed on the temporary assignment of experts from the Turkish general directorate of security to Italy.

Stressing that the ministries endeavor to fortify and strengthen friendly bilateral relations, Soylu said: "We continue our fight against illegal immigration with a common mechanism with Italy. In 2022, we all put forth a very strong effort in this regard."

Piantedosi, for his part, said Türkiye and Italy are two countries facing onto the same sea and have a lot in common in many ways.

Upon the arrest of Italy’s most-wanted mafia boss Messina Denaro, Piantedosi said: "Today has been a very important day for us, but also in our own country ... I received the news of the arrest of a fugitive, a leading name of a very important criminal organization, who had been hiding for many years."

Denaro, 60, was detained in a private clinic in the Sicilian city of Palermo early Monday.

Source: Anadolu Agency

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

https://www.aa.com.tr/en/europe/turkiye-italy-have-close-cooperation-on-migration-terrorism-minister/2788984

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Arab World

 

Saudi Arabia calls for stronger action against Houthis as militia rejects peace

EPHREM KOSSAIFY

January 17, 2023

NEW YORK CITY: Saudi Arabia’s permanent representative to the UN on Monday called on the Security Council to take stronger action against the Houthis if the Iran-backed militia continues “to stall and reject peaceful solutions” to the conflict in Yemen.

Ambassador Abdulaziz Alwasil said that designation of the group as a terrorist organization has become an urgent demand among the people of the region, “who want to live in peace.”

His comments came during a Security Council meeting to discuss the latest developments in Yemen.

Hans Grundberg, the UN’s special envoy to the country, who briefed the council from Sanaa, highlighted the recent “intensification of regional and international diplomatic activity to resolve the conflict” and reiterated his “appreciation for the efforts of Saudi Arabia and Oman in this regard.”

“We are witnessing a potential step change in the trajectory of this eight-year conflict,” Grundberg told the council. He added that “the ongoing dialogues are a possibility that should not be wasted and that demands responsible actions.”

However, he cautioned that “without an agreement that includes a shared vision for the way forward, the state of uncertainty will persist, and with it an increasing risk of military escalation and a return to full-blown conflict.”

The Swedish diplomat urged all parties involved in the conflict to make the most of the opportunity for dialogue provided by the pause in large-scale fighting, and to  “work expeditiously toward a shared vision with concrete, actionable steps.”

Alwasil commended Grundberg for his “relentless, unique and quality efforts to ensure peace in Yemen.” He also reiterated his country’s support for the efforts of the UN’s humanitarian chief, Martin Griffiths, “to alleviate the suffering of the brotherly Yemeni people.”

The Saudi envoy told the Council that although the Houthi militias refused to extend a ceasefire agreement in October last year, the UN — as represented by Grundberg and in cooperation with Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Oman, and with Yemen’s presidential leadership council — continues in its efforts to secure a comprehensive political solution that ends the suffering of the Yemeni people.

“The Houthi militias did not extend the truce for political reasons,” Alwasil said. “They reneged on their commitment at the last minute and canceled most items agreed upon.

“They proposed new demands, including paying the salaries of militiamen in US dollars. They refused to implement their commitment to deposit the profits of Al-Hodeidah port in the Central Bank so that they can be used to pay the salaries of all Yemenis. Neither did they lift the siege that has been imposed on Taiz since the coup.”

The legitimate government, on the other hand, has put the interests of the Yemeni people first, Alwasil said, and has not reneged on its “noble humanitarian and national commitments.”

It “did not renege on the concessions” it had made, he added, pointing out that “Sanaa Airport continues to work; commercial and humanitarian flights continue; main ports are working smoothly and naturally.”

On the other hand, the Houthis, he said, continue to break international laws by “disseminating terrorist and extremist ideologies in schools, recruiting children, sending them forcibly to fight, besieging the city of Taiz, arbitrarily detaining activists and journalists, killing opposition leaders, imposing taxes on humanitarian work, looting international assistance and sending it to those who do not deserve it, including to the Houthis themselves, as well as planting mines arbitrarily, leading to the killing and injury of innocent civilians.”

Last month, Gen. Michael Beary, who heads the UN Mission to Support the Hodeidah Agreement, narrowly survived a bomb blast when his armored convoy hit a landmine while he was traveling with members of the Houthi militias to oversee the decommissioning of explosives.

Alwasil said that the Houthis also inflict collective punishment on the civilian population, depriving areas outside their control of basic services and amenities, and targeting the export of natural resources, the profits from which should be used to pay civil servants and teachers.

He added that since the coup in 2014, the Houthis have held the Yemeni population hostage and weaponized the dire humanitarian situation in the country in an attempt to blackmail the international community, all while threatening the security of the wider region and the world.

“They are also targeting neighboring countries (and) deliberately impeding UN observers from carrying out inspections,” Alwasil said.

“Hodeidah remains full of mines (making) the port a threat to international peace and security.”

Alwasil thanked the US, whose Navy last week seized from a ship in the Gulf of Oman more than 2,100 assault rifles officials believe originated in Iran and were bound for the Houthis.

Source: Arab News

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

https://www.arabnews.com/node/2233671/middle-east

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Saudi conference promotes culture of quality, excellence in KSA

HEBSHI ALSHAMMARI

January 16, 2023

RIYADH: A two-day conference aimed at promoting a culture of quality and excellence among Saudi individuals and organizations was on Tuesday due to open in Riyadh.

The sixth Quality and Excellence Best Practice Forum, organized by the King Abdulaziz Quality Award under the patronage of King Salman, was being staged in the presence of Riyadh Gov. Prince Faisal bin Bandar.

Held under the title “Excellence in the Pursuit of Universality,” the meeting will highlight the role of quality and institutional excellence in achieving the objectives of the Saudi Vision 2030 reform plan, while focusing on successful regional and international experiences that have contributed to the promotion of a culture of quality and institutional excellence in society.

Secretary-general of the King Abdulaziz Quality Award, Saad Al-Qasabi, said the award sought to encourage all sectors to raise performance levels, improve internal processes, and satisfy customer and client expectations.

He added that the awarding of special honors would contribute to creating an environment that fostered competition between sectors, promote excellence in performance, and support the national economy.

Hadi Tijani, general coordinator of the Sheikh Khalifa Award for Excellence, was due to attend the forum’s first session on the role of leadership and strategic planning in achieving institutional excellence.

Officials from the Prince Sultan Military Medical City, National Industrial Training Institute, and Social Development Bank were expected to partake in the second session discussing excellence in human capacity development, highlighting the role of human resources.

Day two of the forum will include a panel discussion on excellence in operations management and design, chaired by Deputy Minister of Industry and Mineral Resources Osama Al-Zamil, with King Fahd Medical City and the Al-Ahsa cancer charity association taking part in another session on excellence in beneficiaries.

Hassan Al-Sarhan, general manager of quality and operational excellence at the National Center for Environmental Compliance, said: “There is undoubtedly an important and significant role for such conferences in improving many aspects of life by increasing the efficiency and effectiveness of the services provided by individuals and organizations … and learning about the most important future directions in order to achieve excellence commensurate with the developments of the times.”

He pointed out that the quality of any facility was the responsibility of its employees, and goals were achieved through a culture of enterprise, and integrated and effective oversight systems.

Al-Sarhan noted that interaction and positive participation were the driving forces behind the consolidation of a culture of quality in the workplace.

Source: Arab News

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

https://www.arabnews.com/node/2233601/saudi-arabia

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Police question Lebanese relatives of 2020 blast victims

16 January ,2023

Several relatives of the victims of the massive 2020 explosion at Beirut’s port showed up on Monday to answer questions by police after they were accused of rioting and vandalism during protests over the stalled investigation into the blast.

The rioting last week saw the relatives hurl rocks at the Beirut Justice Palace and burn tires outside the building, decrying years of what they say is political interference in the probe.

The Aug. 4, 2020 explosion killed more than 215 people, injured 6,000 and devastated entire neighborhoods of the Lebanese capital after hundreds of tons of highly explosive ammonium nitrate, a chemical used in fertilizers, detonated in a port warehouse.

It later emerged the chemical was shipped to Lebanon in 2013 and stored improperly at the warehouse. A handful of senior political and security officials knew of its presence and the threat it imposed on the city but failed to take action to remove it.

Judge Tarek Bitar’s investigation into the disaster has been frozen since December 2021 after politicians he had charged in the case filed legal challenges to the probe. No one has been tried or convicted over the blast.

The families of the port blast victims have long campaigned for an uninterrupted investigation and have frequently protested and held monthly vigils. Some of the families and Lebanese activists, as well as human rights organizations have urged the United Nations to investigate the blast.

On Monday, 13 relatives of blast victims showed up to answer police summons over the rioting. As they were being questioned inside the police compound, hundreds of other relatives of the blast victims, activists, and some lawmakers protested outside and condemned the country’s ruling elite. They say the elite’s lock on power has kept its members immune from accountability.

William Noun, who lost his brother firefighter Joe in the blast, has been an outspoken activist. Summoned Monday, he later claimed the authorities are trying to exhaust and intimidate the families. Security forces raided his home and detained him overnight on Saturday, after he spoke in a TV interview and criticized the judiciary.

“We want justice, and we want everyone who blew up the port to be held accountable, regardless of their political affiliation,” he said as he walked into the compound.

Among the protesters outside was the mother of Ahmad Kaadan, who was killed in the blast. She held a poster of her son and decried what she said was Lebanon’s “failed state and judiciary.”

“Instead of bringing in the officials with arrest warrants, they’re going after the families wanting to know who killed their children,” Um Ahmad told reporters. “In this country, those on the side of justice are getting arrested while the criminals are enjoying their lives.”

Some reformist lawmakers backing Bitar’s investigation and victims’ families were also at the protest.

Source: Al Arabiya

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

https://english.alarabiya.net/News/middle-east/2023/01/16/Police-question-Lebanese-relatives-of-2020-blast-victims

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UN envoy encouraged by Yemen truce deal efforts, warns against ‘piecemeal approach’

16 January ,2023

The United Nations envoy for Yemen said on Monday he was encouraged by intensified efforts for an expanded truce deal but stressed they should seek an inclusive process for a sustainable political settlement.

Hans Grundberg, addressing a UN Security Council briefing more than three months after an initial truce pact expired, said “we are witnessing a potential step change” in the conflict's trajectory though the situation remained “complex and fluid”.

The eight-year-old conflict in Yemen has killed tens of thousands of people, wrecked the economy and pushed millions into hunger.

A UN-brokered truce deal agreed in April and rolled over twice delivered the longest stretch of relative calm that has largely held since its expiry on Oct. 2, though the two sides stepped up an economic war.

The United Nations has been pushing for an extended and broader deal encompassing a mechanism to pay public sector wages, which the Houthis had criticized for not including armed forces members.

Grundberg, speaking from the Houthi-held capital Sanaa, thanked Saudi Arabia and Oman for their diplomacy and said discussions in the past month have developed “options for mutually acceptable solutions to outstanding issues”.

But he advised against a “piecemeal approach” focused on individual needs, saying talks on short-term steps should be part of a broader approach toward a sustainable resolution of a multifaceted conflict in which several parties are vying for power.

The head of the Houthi Supreme Political Council, Mahdi al-Mashat, said in remarks on Houthi-run media on Monday that the talks with a Omani team were positive and, departing from past rhetoric, stressed the movement's desire for regional stability.

Source: Al Arabiya

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

https://english.alarabiya.net/News/gulf/2023/01/16/UN-envoy-encouraged-by-Yemen-truce-deal-efforts-warns-against-piecemeal-approach-

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OIC, IPHRC chiefs discuss human rights issues

January 17, 2023

JEDDAH: Hissein Brahim Taha, the secretary-general of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, recently met Noura Al-Rashoud, executive director of the OIC’s Independent Permanent Human Rights Commission, in Jeddah.

During the meeting, Taha congratulated Al-Rashoud on her appointment as the first woman to the position since the establishment of the commission.

Taha expressed his confidence in Al-Rashoud to carry out her duties and offer consultations on human rights issues of concern to the organization, mainly the Palestinian cause, the rights of women and children, Islamophobia, Muslim minorities, the right to development and the permanent mechanism for monitoring the human rights situation in the Jammu and Kashmir region.

The OIC chief also expressed his appreciation for the achievements of the IPHRC during previous years and the efforts made by its working team under its prior leadership.

He stressed the OIC’s aim to achieve further progress related to the promotion of human rights, fundamental freedoms, the rule of law and democracy in accordance with the charter of the OIC and its 10-Year Program of Action 2025, as well as to represent the OIC in international forums, especially in the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva.

For her part, Al-Rashoud reiterated her keenness to achieve the objectives of the commission and work with the OIC to further serve the interests of the Islamic world.

Source: Arab News

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

https://www.arabnews.com/node/2233731/saudi-arabia

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Next Lebanese president must safeguard national interests, withstand pressures: Senior Hezbollah lawmaker

16 January 2023

Amid the failure of Lebanon's parliament to elect a new president due to deep divisions over a replacement for Michel Aoun, a Lebanese lawmaker says the next head of state must defend national interests and be capable of standing up to unrelenting political pressures.

“Lawmakers are trying to reach consensus on the next president. We have listed some characteristics for the right candidate to fill the position. In our opinion, the disagreements over a successor to Aoun whose term expired at the end of October last year should be respected as we are trying to work out a proper equation out of such differences,” Mohammad Raad, head of Loyalty to the Resistance Bloc – the political wing of the Hezbollah resistance movement – in the Lebanese parliament, said on Monday.

“We clearly want a president who can respond to the legitimate and reasonable demands of the Lebanese nation, and maintain the balance between political blocs and various strata of the society. Moreover, the next Lebanese president must be strong-minded enough to dispel the illusion that enemies can count on his weakness or cooperation for the benefit of the Israeli regime,” Raad stressed.

He noted, “The president whom we are looking for is someone who can withstand pressures, and safeguard national interests. He should not have businesses abroad and be preoccupied with the profits and losses of his own firms.”

Moreover, Hussein Jashi, another legislator from the Loyalty to the Resistance Bloc, stated that the consequences of leaving the presidency vacant for la long time will adversely affect the interests of Lebanon, as well as the nation and its international prestige.

“Presidential vacancy will erode others’ trust in us. Therefore, we call for a serious and honest dialog in order to elect a new president as quickly as possible.”

He emphasized that heavy reliance on foreigners has brought the country to the brink of collapse, arguing that Western and Arab countries have failed in recent years to honor their financial pledges and alleviate the crippling economic crisis facing Lebanon.

“We urge certain Lebanese political parties to either talk to their American, Western and Saudi allies to help Lebanon, or else let others seek assistance from Iran, Russia and China,” Jashi pointed out.

Lebanon’s presidency has seen stalemate several times since the 1975-1990 civil war. The country has also had only a caretaker government since last May.

The Arab country has been mired in an economic crisis that the World Bank has dubbed one of the worst in recent history, which comes amid crippling sanctions imposed by the US and its allies.

The Lebanese pound has lost more than 95 percent of its value on the black market since 2019.

According to the United Nations, the ongoing financial crisis in Lebanon has caused poverty rates to reach more than 80 percent of the population, and food prices have risen by an astonishing 2,000 percent.

Source: Press TV

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

https://www.presstv.ir/Detail/2023/01/16/696444/Next-Lebanese-president-must-safeguard-national-interests,-withstand-pressures--Top-Hezbollah-lawmaker-

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South Asia

 

China calls on Israel to stop 'provocations' amid rise in tensions in Palestinian territories

16 January 2023

China’s Foreign Minister says Israel must stop “incitements and provocations” against Palestinians, particularly in al-Quds amid rise in tensions in the occupied Palestinian territories.

Qin Gang said, “We urge the Israeli side to stop incitement and provocations and to avoid any unilateral move that may aggravate the situation.”

He made the remarks at a joint press conference with his Egyptian counterpart in Cairo.    

Over the past months, Israel has ramped up attacks on Palestinian towns and cities throughout the occupied territories. As a result of these attacks, dozens of Palestinians have lost their lives and many others have been arrested.

The United Nations has marked 2022 as the deadliest year for Palestinians in the West Bank in 16 years.

Israeli forces killed at least 171 Palestinians in the West Bank and occupied East al-Quds last year, including more than 30 children. At least 9,000 others were injured as well.

Qin Gang reiterated that, “China’s President Xi Jinping has recently stressed that the historic oppression the Palestinian people are subjected to should not continue indefinitely and that the Palestinians’ legitimate, national rights should not be compromised.” 

He also urged the international community to push for “peace negotiations” between the Palestinians and Israelis and to find a “just and urgent solution to the Palestinian cause based on the two-state solution.”

Source: Press TV

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

https://www.presstv.ir/Detail/2023/01/16/696423/China-says-Israel-stop-provocations-against-Palestinians

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Afghan Women Live Under a Brutal Gender Apartheid System: Canadian MPs

By Nizamuddin Rezahi

January 17, 2023

A group of Canadian Members of Parliament has jointly asked their government to take immediate action to bring eight Afghan women MPs who are left behind in complete desperation in Kabul.

The living conditions have become extremely hard for Afghans, particularly for women and girls under the Taliban-run administration. With each passing day, a new set of restrictions are imposed barring women from participating in education, employment, sports, and public spaces.

Worst of all, Afghan women Members of Parliament from the previous government who remained in Kabul after the Taliban seized power in August 2021, now face immediate threats.

Kabul Police said on Sunday that former Afghan MP Mursal Nabizada and her bodyguard were killed by unknown gunmen in her house in the heart of Kabul. Nabizada was one of the few MPs who remained in Kabul after the Taliban returned to power.

Kabul police Molvi Hamidullah Khalid that investigations into her death are underway, with no one or party claiming the responsibility as of now.

Six Canadian MPs in a joint statement saying that they have worked together for more than a year to bring the eight remaining Afghan women MPs to Canada.

“We urge the Canadian government to act on this matter urgently and take immediate actions to assist in getting these women to safety,” the statement says.

The statement also adds that Afghanistan is not safe for women and girls, particularly for these brave women PMs, who led the way for Afghan women during the former regime in Afghanistan.

Source: Khaama Press

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

https://www.khaama.com/afghan-women-live-under-a-brutal-gender-apartheid-system-canadian-mps/

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UN Employ Technology to Stop Afghanistan’s Illicit Opium Cultivation

By Fidel Rahmati

January 16, 2023

On Monday, a British University, Cranfield, released a statement indicating a research partnership with United Nations. The report said that the researchers from the University would work on a research project to help the United Nations develop artificial intelligence (AI) to support the monitoring of illegal opium production in Afghanistan.

In this research program, the researcher will use artificial intelligence to interpret satellite imagery, tracing where the crops are used for drug production in Afghanistan. The partnership between the University and UN lasts until July 2023, said Daniel Simms, Cranfield University lecturer.

The report shows that Afghanistan is still the largest producer of poppy cultivation globally. The total area is estimated at 233,000 hectares, mainly concentrated in the southwestern parts of the country, approximately 73-80%, Reported by UNODC in 2022.

The research programs will automate the process using AI, enabling the monitoring of the extent and evolution of poppy cultivation in the country and helping the government tackle the issue of these crops.

The United States government has invested more than $8.62 billion in counternarcotics operations in Afghanistan over the past 20 years. Despite the investment, the country continues to be the world’s top producer of opium, according to SIGAR.

The drug trade, on the other hand, is regarded as one of the major barriers to rebuilding and development in the country and has weakened security by funding insurgent organisations, according to the research.

The report shows that since the Takeover of Afghanistan by the Taliban (IEA) in August 2021, opium cultivation increased by 32%, or 56,000 hectares, compared to the previous year, UNODC.

Source: Khaama Press

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

https://www.khaama.com/un-employ-technology-to-stop-afghanistans-illicit-opium-cultivation/

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Oil deal with Taliban represents China’s growing strategic interest in Afghanistan, says expert

17 January, 2023

Washington [US], January 17 (ANI): The Taliban earlier this month announced a deal with a Chinese company to enable oil extraction in the Amu Darya basin in northern Afghanistan, raising alarm bells in the west.

The signing ceremony of the over USD 500 million deal took place on January 5 in the presence of the Chinese envoy to Afghanistan Wang Yu, and other high-ranking Taliban officials, including Abdul Ghani Baradar, the acting deputy prime minister for economic affairs.

“The agreement, the Taliban’s first major energy investment contract since its 2021 takeover, represents China’s growing strategic interest in the Islamic Emirate,” wrote, Washington-based researcher Kyle Sajoyan in the “19fortyfive” publication.

“Despite the growing number of terrorist attacks targeting Chinese nationals in the region, the PRC is showing no signs of stopping its global imperial project in the Muslim world,” he added.

Sajoyan, who is a researcher at the American Foreign Policy Council in Washington, DC, said “this recent deal is a prelude to closer economic and security cooperation between Kabul and Beijing, a partnership that will jeopardize Washington’s vested interests in the region while limiting America’s ability to respond.”

This deal comes amid rising violence against Chinese nationals in Taliban-run Afghanistan. Last month, gunmen from ISIS-K targeted a Kabul hotel popular with Chinese businessmen.

Despite the growing terrorist threat targeting Beijing, it signed a massive deal to exploit the country’s oil reserves. According to a Washington-based expert, part of it is China’s growing demand for crude oil as the country reopens after three years of zero-COVID.

“The Amu Darya Basin in northern Afghanistan where the extractions are to take place contains an estimated 87 million barrels worth of crude oil. But outside of Beijing’s energy needs is the resource gold mine that Afghanistan sits on,” Sajoyan wrote 19fortyfive.

Earlier, the Khaama Press News Agency reported that oil will be produced in the northern provinces of Faryab, Jowzjan and Sar-e Pol, starting with 1,000 tonnes a day. The Taliban-run administration will initially have a 20 per cent stake in the project, which will be gradually increased to 75 per cent to match the rising output.

The Afghan news agency added that the Taliban expects to create 3,000 jobs with this project.

Source: The Print

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

https://theprint.in/world/oil-deal-with-taliban-represents-chinas-growing-strategic-interest-in-afghanistan-says-expert/1318569/

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Pakistan

 

Imran Khan hints at returning to Pakistan's National Assembly

Jan 16, 2023

LAHORE: For the first time, opposition Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) chief Imran Khan on Monday hinted at returning to the National Assembly to be part of the consultative process of a caretaker set-up for general elections later this year. Following Khan's ouster as prime minister through a no-confidence motion in April last year, the 131 PTI members of the National Assembly had resigned. However, the NA speaker has yet to accept their resignations and called in all the PTI lawmakers to verify if their resignations are "genuine and voluntary".

Talking to journalists at his residence here on Monday, Khan said: "If we don't return to the National Assembly then the PML-N led coalition government will form the caretaker set-up (after completion of its tenure this August) in consultation with handpicked opposition leader Raja Riaz. We don't let this happen."

This is the first time Khan spoke his mind about going back to the National Assembly since his ouster as premier.

Khan has also said that President Arif Alvi will soon ask Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif to secure a vote of confidence from the National Assembly.

"We are going to test Shehbaz Sharif. He is going to have sleepless nights as we are in contact with PML-N MNAs. He will struggle to prove majority in the house," he said.

On the other hand, Defence Minister Khawaja Asif said the federal coalition has required numbers in the lower house if the President asks Shehbaz to take a vote of confidence.

Pakistan's Punjab Assembly has already been dissolved by Punjab Chief Minister Chaudhry Parvez Elahi of PTI-PMLQ on Khan's insistence.

Khan said the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly will be dissolved this week as well to push the federal coalition to announce the snap polls.

Source: Times Of India

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

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/pakistan/imran-khan-hints-at-returning-to-pakistans-national-assembly/articleshow/97036946.cms

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Pakistan's largest province to hold snap polls in win for former PM Imran Khan

Jan 16, 2023

LAHORE: A snap local election will be held in Pakistan's most populous province, officials said, after the provincial leader, an ally of ousted Prime Minister Imran Khan, triggered the poll, putting pressure on the government ahead a planned general election.

Holding local elections in a province with 110 million people, around half Pakistan's population, would be an expensive, logistically complicated exercise for a government dependant on foreign aid and reeling from the impact of last year's devastating floods.

By bringing forward a local poll, political analysts say it could pressure the national government into holding a countrywide election earlier to avoid the huge double cost of two votes.

Punjab is one of two provinces ruled by a coalition partner of Khan's Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI) party.

Khan has been demanding general elections since he was ousted in April after losing a parliamentary vote of confidence. The 70-year-old former international cricketer has also led nationwide protests against his successor, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif.

Sharif has repeatedly rejected Khan's demands, saying elections will be held as scheduled later this year. As for the provincial assembly elections, Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah said the government will hold snap polls as necessary.

Punjab government spokesman Mussarat Cheema told Reuters the process to choose a caretaker government to oversee the polls had started. "We want this process to be completed as soon as possible so that we head toward elections," he said.

According to the constitution, the local assembly was automatically disbanded 48 hours after Punjab's chief minister called for it to be dissolved late on Thursday. The constitution also stipulates that elections must be held within 90 days.

Source: Times Of India

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

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/pakistan/pakistans-largest-province-to-hold-snap-polls-in-win-for-former-pm-imran-khan/articleshow/97035257.cms

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Karachi LG polls: JI emerges as kingmaker after PPP rules out alliance with PTI

January 17, 2023

KARACHI: Although the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) has emerged as the largest political party in Karachi after the local government polls, it has failed to secure a simple majority in the City Council, due to which all eyes are set on the runner-up, Jamaat-e-Islami (JI), whose decision of alliance will determine the next mayor of the city.

According to the official results of the Karachi local government elections announced by the ECP, the PPP, JI and Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf have become the three largest parties of the City Council of the Karachi Metropolitan Corporation after having won 93, 86 and 40 union committees (UCs) respectively.

As the PPP has ruled out any possibility of forming a coalition with the PTI, the JI has become the kingmaker in Karachi as its decision to ally itself either with the PPP or the PTI will determine the new local government setup of the city.

PPP Karachi President Saeed Ghani in a press conference on Monday stated in unambiguous words that the PPP would not hold any talks with the PTI for coalition in the City Council. He added that the party was however open to talks with the JI.

Meanwhile, in a late-night press conference, Karachi JI chief Hafiz Naeemur Rehman claimed that the elections were rigged and the first position of the JI was snatched. He declared that the next mayor of Karachi would belong to the JI.

The PTI also alleged that the elections were rigged, and its leader Firdous Shamim Naqvi said the PTI could consider conditionally supporting the JI. Of the 246 union committees (UCs) in Karachi, the elections were held in 235 as some candidates in the remaining 11 UCs had passed away. According to the ECP’s official results, the PPP became the largest party after winning 93 UCs, the JI trailed behind with winning 86 UCs and the PTI ranked third with 40 UCs.

The Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) won seven UCs, Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam (JUI) three UCs, Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) two UCs, and Mohajir Qaumi Movement (Haqiqi) won one UC. Three UCs were also won by independent panels.

The PPP will also elect 32 City Council members on the reserved seats for women, five on the reserved seats for youths, five on the reserved seats for labour, five for the reserved seats for non-Muslims and one each for the reserved seats for persons with disabilities and transgender persons, after which the party will have 142 seats in the City Council.

The JI will elect 30 women, five youths, 5 labourers, five Non-Muslims and one person with disabilities and one transgender person on the reserved seats. The PTI on resaved seats will elect 14 women, two youths, two labourers, and two non-Muslims. The PML-N, JUI, TLP, and independents will elect a total of five women on the reserved seats.

Due to delay in the announcement of results of Karachi, the JI and PTI raised concern and criticised the Sindh government and ECP. Responding to the allegations, the ECP maintained in its statement that the results were being compiled in a transparent manner, while the PPP’s Sindh government also rejected rigging allegations.

Imdad Soomro adds: By Monday night, the authorities had released the results of only 116 UCs of the total 160 UCs of the Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (HMC), with each UC comprising four wards. Of the total of 800 constituencies in Hyderabad, the elections were held on 599 because of a large number of candidates won unopposed. Deaths of some candidates also led to the cancellation of elections in over a dozen seats.

The delay in the issuance of Hyderabad results by the ECP made political parties impatient and many minor incidents of fighting and intimidation were reported in various parts of the city.

PPP and PTI supporters fought outside the election cell set up outside the Public School Hyderabad as their patience ran out while waiting for the official announcement of election results. As per updated official results, the PPP was leading in Hyderabad, bagging the seats of chairmen and vice chairmen of 58 UCs. The PPP was followed by the PTI that won at least 39 seats.

Some 10 UCs of the HMC have so far gone to independent candidates while the JI and Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan have won from one UC each. Unofficial figures suggest that the PPP has won a majority of seats in the HMC, which is divided into nine town municipal corporations named Nerunkot, Mian Sarfaraz, Preetabad, Tando Jam, Tando Fazal, Sachal Sarmast, Shah Latifabad, Hussainabad and Qasimabad.

The PPP’s candidates, as per the available official results of the ECP, have secured 13 seats from Neronkot, one from Mian Sarfaraz, two from Preetabad, eight from Tando Jam, six from Hussainabad, and 14 each from Tando Fazal and Sachal Sarmast.

The PTI’s candidates have won four seats each from Mian Sarfaraz and Sachal Sarmast, two from Nerunkot, 13 from Preetabad, 14 from Shah Latifabad, and two from Hussainabad. The TLP bagged one seat from Nerunkot and the JI’s candidates returned successfully from a UC in Shah Latifabad.

Source: The News

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

https://www.thenews.com.pk/print/1031295-karachi-lg-polls-ji-emerges-as-kingmaker-after-ppp-rules-out-alliance-with-pti

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Pakistan’s ruling coalition upsets Imran Khan’s Tehreek-e-Insaf in Karachi vote

17 January ,2023

Pakistan Peoples Party, a major partner in the country’s ruling coalition, won a majority of seats in local government elections in Karachi, the country’s largest city, to upset former Prime Minister Imran Khan in his stronghold.

The party co-led by Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari secured 93 seats of the 235 up for grabs in the southern port city polls held on Sunday, followed by hard line religious group Jamaat-e-Islami with 86 seats, according to results announced by the Election Commission late Monday evening. Khan’s Tehreek-e-Insaf trailed behind in the third position with 40 seats.

The results are seen as a setback for Khan who has been confident in his public support and secured multiple by-elections victories since he was removed from power in a no-confidence vote in Parliament in April. Khan’s party, which is now ruled out of the race for installing its mayor in Karachi, had swept the city’s majority seats in the 2018 general elections.

The runner-up party said the elections were rigged, a charge denied by the Election Commission. Karachi’s biggest ethnic party, Muttahida Qaumi Movement Pakistan boycotted the election, while multiple parties included in the ruling coalition contested the Sunday’s election against each other.

Source: Al Arabiya

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

https://english.alarabiya.net/News/world/2023/01/17/Pakistan-s-ruling-coalition-upsets-Imran-Khan-s-Tehreek-e-Insaf-in-Karachi-vote

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Mideast

 

40 nations urge Israel to lift ‘punitive’ sanctions on Palestinians

January 17, 2023

UNITED NATIONS: Some 40 countries on Monday called on Israel to lift sanctions it imposed on the Palestinian Authority earlier this month over its push to get the UN’s top court to issue an advisory opinion on the Israeli occupation.

On December 30, the UN General Assembly passed a resolution requesting an opinion from the International Court of Justice on the issue of the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories.

In retaliation, Israel announced a series of sanctions, including financial ones, on January 6 against the Palestinian Authority to make it “pay the price” for pushing for the resolution.

In a statement to journalists Monday, some 40 United Nations member states, reaffirming their “unwavering support” for the ICJ and international law, expressed “deep concern regarding the Israeli government’s decision to impose punitive measures against the Palestinian people, leadership and civil society following the request by the General Assembly” to the court.

“Regardless of each country’s position on the resolution, we reject punitive measures in response to a request for an advisory opinion by the International Court of Justice, and more broadly in response to a General Assembly resolution, and call for their immediate reversal,” the members said.

The statement is signed by countries that voted for this resolution (Algeria, Argentina, Belgium, Ireland, Pakistan and South Africa, among others) but also by some that abstained — Japan, France and South Korea — and others that voted against, like Germany and Estonia.

“This is significant as it shows that regardless of how countries have voted, they are united in rejecting these punitive measures,” the Palestinian ambassador to the UN, Riyad Mansour, said in a statement.

Asked about the members’ statement, a spokeswoman for the UN secretary-general reiterated Antonio Guterres’s “deep concern” about “recent Israeli measures against the Palestinian Authority,” stressing that “there should be no retaliation” in connection with the ICJ.

A UN Security Council meeting on the Palestinian issue is scheduled for Wednesday.

Source: Arab News

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

https://www.arabnews.com/node/2233686/middle-east

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Sweden, Finland Must Send Up To 130 “Terrorists” To Turkey For NATO Bid: Erdogan

17 January ,2023

Sweden and Finland must deport or extradite up to 130 “terrorists” to Turkey before the Turkish parliament will approve their bids to join NATO, President Tayyip Erdogan said.

The two Nordic states applied last year to join NATO following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine but their bids must be approved by all 30 NATO member states. Turkey and Hungary have yet to endorse the applications.

Turkey has said Sweden in particular must first take a clearer stance against what it sees as terrorists, mainly Kurdish militants and a group it blames for a 2016 coup attempt.

“We said look, so if you don’t hand over your terrorists to us, we can’t pass it (approval of the NATO application) through the parliament anyway,” Erdogan said in comments late on Sunday, referring to a joint press conference he held with Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson last November.

“For this to pass the parliament, first of all you have to hand more than 100, around 130 of these terrorists to us,” Erdogan said.

Finnish politicians interpreted Erdogan's demand as an angry response to an incident in Stockholm last week in which an effigy of the Turkish leader was strung up during what appeared to be a small protest.

“This must have been a reaction, I believe, to the events of the past days,” Finland’s foreign minister Pekka Haavisto told public broadcaster YLE.

Haavisto said he was not aware of any new official demands from Turkey.

In response to the incident in Stockholm, Turkey cancelled a planned visit to Ankara of the Swedish speaker of parliament, Andreas Norlen, who instead came to Helsinki on Monday.

“We stress that in Finland and in Sweden we have freedom of expression. We cannot control it,” the speaker of the Finnish parliament, Matti Vanhanen, told reporters at a joint news conference with Norlen.

Separately on Monday Swedish Prime Minister Kristersson said that his country was in a “good position” to secure Turkey’s ratification of its NATO bid.

Source: Al Arabiya

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

https://english.alarabiya.net/News/saudi-arabia/2023/01/17/Sweden-Finland-must-send-up-to-130-terrorists-to-Turkey-for-NATO-bid-Erdogan-

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Israel condemned for night raids against Palestinian children

MOHAMMED NAJIB

January 16, 2023

RAMALLAH: Israel has been condemned for its use of night raids against Palestinian children in the West Bank and East Jerusalem.

Israeli Human Rights organization HaMoked said that Israeli security forces arrest hundreds of children a year in planned raids that cause trauma for all involved.

In “On Flimsy Grounds: Israel’s Pervasive Night Arrests of Palestinian Children,” published on Jan. 16, the group said that the practice was often a first recourse, even when a child was only detained for a short time and released without charge.

In 125 cases it examined last year, The group found that not one Palestinian family received a summons before Israeli forces stormed their homes.

It said that Israel’s refusal to reduce the use of the tactic suggests that it is purposefully used to intimidate the Palestinian population.

The latest accusation against Israeli forces came as the Palestinian Ministry of Health said that a 14-year-old Omar Lotfi Khumour was shot in the head and killed on Monday by Israeli soldiers in Dheisheh refugee camp in Bethlehem.

Crowds of Palestinians massed outside the hospital where the teenager was taken, chanting protests against Israel.

The death raised the number of Palestinians killed by Israel since the start of the year to 14, including four children.

HaMoked’s report was based on information from 294 families who contacted it to locate their child after his detention. Of these, 125 were concerned with an arrest operation in the middle of the night.

“Israel’s conduct toward Palestinian children wanted for questioning constitutes a severe violation of its international legal obligations,” the report said.

In a High Court petition in 2021, the group had forced the Israeli military to introduce a “procedure for summoning suspected minors before planned arrest.” 

HaMoked has appealed to reassert its challenge. The hearing is scheduled in March.

The research shows that night arrests are used even on children suspected of minor offenses.

The group said that the vast majority of cases it reviewed were  back home with their families within weeks of arrest, most with no charges filed. Many were detained for a few days or even for just a few hours.

“Night arrests should be the last option, and Israel should use all other options before they reach the point of a huge group of soldiers bounding on a family home in the middle of the night,” Jessica Montell, executive director of HaMoked, told Arab News.

“This is a hugely traumatic experience both for the boy being arrested and for his whole family.

“While Israel has introduced this new procedure to issue a summon instead of a night arrest, HaMoked research from the past year shows there is no improvement in the situation.

“We documented 125 night arrest cases last year, and no one case was summoned.”

Ayed Abu Qtaish, director of the Accountability Program at Defense for Children International, told Arab News that it was clear Israeli forces were ignoring previous court rulings on the use of unannounced arrests.

Abu Qtaish also said that most of the arrests happened at night while the children were asleep, accompanied by the violent storming of homes by heavily armed forces, waking them up and taking them to interrogation centers, which causes psychological trauma.

The forces hand the family a summons request for investigation only If they do not find the child to be arrested at the house, he said.

Source: Arab News

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

https://www.arabnews.com/node/2233491/middle-east

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40 Nations Urge Israel To Lift ‘Punitive’ Sanctions On Palestinians

January 17, 2023

Some 40 countries on Monday called on Israel to lift sanctions it imposed on the Palestinian Authority earlier this month over its push to get the UN’s top court to issue an advisory opinion on the Israeli occupation.

On December 30, the UN General Assembly passed a resolution requesting an opinion from the International Court of Justice on the issue of the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories.

In retaliation, Israel announced a series of sanctions, including financial ones, on January 6 against the Palestinian Authority to make it “pay the price” for pushing for the resolution.

In a statement to journalists Monday, some 40 United Nations member states, reaffirming their “unwavering support” for the ICJ and international law, expressed “deep concern regarding the Israeli government’s decision to impose punitive measures against the Palestinian people, leadership and civil society following the request by the General Assembly” to the court.

“Regardless of each country’s position on the resolution, we reject punitive measures in response to a request for an advisory opinion by the International Court of Justice, and more broadly in response to a General Assembly resolution, and call for their immediate reversal,” the members said.

The statement is signed by countries that voted for this resolution (Algeria, Argentina, Belgium, Ireland, Pakistan and South Africa, among others) but also by some that abstained — Japan, France and South Korea — and others that voted against, like Germany and Estonia.

“This is significant as it shows that regardless of how countries have voted, they are united in rejecting these punitive measures,” the Palestinian ambassador to the UN, Riyad Mansour, said in a statement.

Asked about the members’ statement, a spokeswoman for the UN secretary-general reiterated Antonio Guterres’s “deep concern” about “recent Israeli measures against the Palestinian Authority,” stressing that “there should be no retaliation” in connection with the ICJ.

A UN Security Council meeting on the Palestinian issue is scheduled for Wednesday.

Source: Dawn

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

https://www.dawn.com/news/1732087/40-nations-including-pakistan-urge-israel-to-lift-punitive-sanctions-on-palestinians

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Israel vows to protect its military from politics

January 16, 2023

JERUSALEM: Israeli leaders vowed on Monday to keep the country’s conscript military free of politics after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu gave far-right coalition partners increased control over security forces and settlements in the occupied West Bank.

While Netanyahu’s conservative Likud party retained the Defense Ministry, which runs the authority that coordinates policy in the West Bank, it ceded some settlement policymaking to hard-line politician Bezalel Smotrich. Ultranationalist Itamar Ben-Gvir commands border police as national security minister.

The coalition make-up has raised questions about authority over a military that is designed in part to serve as a melting pot for a fractious Israeli society, as well as how it will handle tinderbox territories where Palestinians seek statehood.

“I will ensure that outside pressures — political, legal and others — stop with me and do not reach the gates of the IDF (Israel Defense Forces),” Defense Minister Yoav Galant said at the appointment ceremony for the new top general, Herzi Halevi.

Source: Arab News

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

https://www.arabnews.com/node/2233336/middle-east

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Iran responsible for 90% of Middle East's problems: Israeli Premier Netanyahu

Abdel Raouf Arnaout  

16.01.2023

JERUSALEM

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday accused Iran of being “responsible for 90% of the Middle East’s problems.”

Israel is working relentlessly “to limit the presence of Iranian forces in Syria” and thwart Tehran’s “attempts to transfer weapons to Syria and Lebanon,” Netanyahu said at a ceremony where he appointed Maj. Gen. Herzi Halevi as the new military chief of staff.

“We will not wait for a sharp sword to be placed on our necks. We will act,” he asserted.

Halevi said the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) “will prepare for war in arenas far and near,” including by boosting recruitment.

Source: Anadolu Agency

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

https://www.aa.com.tr/en/middle-east/iran-responsible-for-90-of-middle-easts-problems-israeli-premier-netanyahu/2789256

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UN envoy praises ‘intensification’ of diplomatic activity in resolving Yemen conflict

Rabia Iclal Turan 

16.01.2023

The UN special envoy for Yemen on Monday said he sees an “intensification of regional and international diplomatic activity” while urging the warring sides for a “shared vision” to avoid a return to a “full-blown conflict”.

“I, therefore, urge the parties to make the most of the space for dialogue provided by the absence of large-scale fighting,” Hans Grundberg told the UN Security Council in a video message.

Recalling that he has been in continued contact with the parties and regional countries, Grundberg said: “We are currently seeing an intensification of regional and international diplomatic activity to resolve the conflict in Yemen.”

He thanked Saudi Arabia and Oman for their diplomatic efforts, and added: “We are witnessing a potential step change in the trajectory of this eight-year-conflict.”

Although Grundberg said the overall military situation in Yemen has remained “stable,” he also cited “some limited military activity around frontlines in particular in Marib, Taiz, Dali, Hodeida and Lahj provinces”.

Such military activities also resulted in civilian casualties, according to the UN special envoy.

UN humanitarian chief Martin Griffiths, who is a former UN envoy to Yemen, also briefed the UN Security Council regarding the recent situation in the war-torn country, saying: “Humanitarian needs remain alarmingly high as the country's economy continues to weaken”.

Yemen has been engulfed by violence and instability since 2014 when Iranian-aligned Houthi rebels captured much of the country, including the capital Sanaa.

Source: Anadolu Agency

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

https://www.aa.com.tr/en/middle-east/un-envoy-praises-intensification-of-diplomatic-activity-in-resolving-yemen-conflict/2789236

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Iranian foreign minister due in Türkiye on Tuesday for talks

Faruk Zorlu  

16.01.2023

The Iranian foreign minister will pay a visit to Türkiye on Tuesday for talks on various issues, the Turkish Foreign Ministry said on Monday.

Hossein Abdollahian will meet Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu, as the top diplomats are expected to address current regional and international matters as well as bilateral issues, the ministry said in a statement.

Meanwhile, Cavusoglu said on Twitter that he met with the UN's special envoy for Syria, Geir Pedersen, and reaffirmed Ankara's support to "UNSCR 2254, political process & Constitutional Committee."

Source: Anadolu Agency

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

https://www.aa.com.tr/en/middle-east/iranian-foreign-minister-due-in-turkiye-on-tuesday-for-talks/2789225

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Palestinian child dies of wounds from Israeli raid

Awad al-Rujoub  

16.01.2023

RAMALLAH, Palestine

A Palestinian child on Monday died of wounds he sustained in a raid by Israeli forces on the Dheisheh refugee camp in the southern Bethlehem city of the occupied West Bank.

In a statement, the Palestinian Health Ministry said 14-year-old Omar Khmour was critically injured by a live bullet in his head and transferred to hospital before he was pronounced dead.

Israeli authorities have yet to comment on the incident.

Israeli forces almost on daily basis carry out raids and incursions to Palestinian areas under the pretext of searching for "wanted Palestinians," during which the Israeli forces clash with Palestinians.

Earlier on Monday, three Palestinians were wounded by Israeli army bullets during raids on the cities of Bethlehem and Jenin in the West Bank.

“A 14-year-old child is in a critical condition after being shot in the head by the Israeli army amid a raid on the Dheisheh refugee camp in Bethlehem,” the Palestinian Health Ministry said in an earlier statement.

The Voice of Palestine radio station reported that two Palestinians were injured during the Israeli army's raid on the town of Qabatiya, south of Jenin.

There was no statement from the Israeli army regarding the operations in the West Bank.

Source: Anadolu Agency

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

https://www.aa.com.tr/en/middle-east/palestinian-child-dies-of-wounds-from-israeli-raid/2789047

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Palestinian resistance forces will never give in to Israeli aggressors: Islamic Jihad official

16 January 2023

A senior official from the Palestinian Islamic Jihad resistance movement has vehemently censured the increase in violence by the Israeli military, saying Palestinians will never surrender to the Israeli aggressors.

“The rise in the number of retaliatory operations in the West Bank explicitly attests to the fact that Palestinians will not accept the status quo,” said Sheikh Nafez Azzam, a member of Islamic Jihad’s political bureau who lives in the southern Gaza city of Rafah, on the desert border with Egypt, on Sunday evening.

“Residents of the occupied West Bank have always been a source of national pride,” he said. “They will never surrender to the occupying regime’s attempts to change the realities on the ground. The young Palestinian generation conveyed the message to the Tel Aviv regime and the whole world that the Palestinian cause is alive and nothing can undermine it.”

The remarks come while instability hangs low over life for Palestinians in the occupied West Bank and there is an expectation that the situation on the ground is going to implode at some point in the near future.

Sheikh Azzam said the Palestinian nation “will neither let their rights forego nor allow desecration of their sanctities, in spite of the Arab world’s feeble position and the international community’s apathy and inaction.”

The senior Islamic Jihad official also reaffirmed that the Palestinian nation will not retreat one iota from its legitimate rights, and will continue its struggle.

“Nothing can dent our people’s strong willpower, and we will emerge victorious eventually,” he said.

Israeli forces launch raids on various cities of the occupied West Bank almost on a daily basis under the pretext of detaining what it calls “wanted” Palestinians. The raids usually lead to violent confrontations with residents.

Over the past months, Israel has ramped up attacks on Palestinian towns and cities throughout the occupied territories. As a result of these attacks, dozens of Palestinians have lost their lives and many others have been arrested.

The United Nations marked 2022 as the deadliest year for Palestinians in the West Bank in 16 years.

Israeli forces killed at least 171 Palestinians in the West Bank and occupied East al-Quds last year, including more than 30 children. At least 9,000 others were injured as well.

Source: Press TV

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

https://www.presstv.ir/Detail/2023/01/16/696421/Palestinian-resistance-forces-will-never-capitulate-Israeli-aggressors

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Legal expert: West uses religious hate-mongering as tool to foment extremism, terrorism

16 January 2023

A senior Iranian legal expert says the West uses religious hate-mongering as a tool to foment extremism and terrorism in other countries.

Abbas-Ali Kadkhodaei, who is also a former spokesman for Iran’s Constitutional Council, made the remark in a Monday tweet in reaction to recent sacrilegious cartoons by France’s Charlie Hebdo magazine, which took aim at Iran’s national and religious values.

“Religious hate-mongering is the West’s political tool to create violence, extremism and terrorism,” he said.

The expert added, “This is why resolutions adopted by the UN Human Rights Council and the General Assembly to ban insult to religious sanctities have been met with the negative votes of the US and French regimes."

His remarks came after Charlie Hebdo released several sacrilegious cartoons that contained insult to Muslim sanctities as well as Iran’s religious and national values. The controversial right-wing magazine had in early December announced a competition for the cartoons.

In a post on his Twitter account earlier this month, Iran's Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian strongly condemned the “insulting” act by the controversial French magazine, warning of a “decisive” response.

“The insulting and indecent move by a French publication in publishing cartoons against the religious and political authority will not go without an effective and decisive response,” the minister tweeted.

Thousands of Iranian people across the country took to the streets on Friday to condemn a French magazine’s insulting cartoons.

The demonstrators attended the rallies after Friday Prayers in major cities, including the capital Tehran, voicing support for Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei and chanting slogans against Western states and their hostile acts toward Iran and Islam.

Source: Press TV

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

https://www.presstv.ir/Detail/2023/01/16/696447/Iran-France-Abbasali-Kadkhodaei-Charlie-Hebdo-hatemongering-extremism-terrorism

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Africa

 

Islamic State Claims Responsibility for DR Congo Church Bombing

January 16, 2023

KASINDI, DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO —

Islamic extremists claimed responsibility Monday for a bombing of a church in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo as authorities said that the toll from Sunday's attack had risen to at least 14 dead.

The Islamic State group and its Aamaq news outlet issued statements saying that its militants had planted an explosive device inside the Pentecostal church in Kasindi and detonated it while people were praying.

“Let the Congolese forces know that their continued attacks on the Mujahideen will only bring them more failure and losses," the group said in its statement.

The extremists claimed the bomb killed 20 Christians. Congolese authorities put the toll Monday at 14 dead and at least 63 wounded.

The injured were evacuated to Beni General Hospital by the U.N. peacekeeping mission known as MONUSCO, authorities said.

Violence has wracked eastern Congo for decades as more than 120 armed groups and self-defense militias fight for land and power. Nearly 6 million people are internally displaced, and hundreds of thousands are facing extreme food insecurity, according to the U.N.

Fighters with the Allied Democratic Forces, a rebel organization which is believed to have links to the Islamic State group, have carried out several attacks in Kasindi, which is located on the border with Uganda.

Troops from Uganda’s army have deployed to eastern Congo to try to stem the violence, but the attacks have increased and spread.

Source: VOA News

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

https://www.voanews.com/a/islamic-state-claims-responsibility-for-dr-congo-church-bombing-/6920938.html

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Somali military liberates strategic coastal town from al-Shabaab terrorists

Mohammed Dhaysane  

16.01.2023

MOGADISHU, Somalia

Somali national army (SNA), backed by local clan militias, on Monday liberated the strategic town of Haradhere from the terrorist group al-Shabaab.

Haradhere is a historic coastal town that located 491 kilometers (305 miles) northeast of the capital Mogadishu that has been under the terrorist control for years.

“The Somali National Army has taken over the town of Haradhere in the Mudug region,” the army said in a brief statement on Twitter.

Defense Minister Abdulkadir Mohamed Nor has also confirmed the takeover of the Haradhere that was the last al-Shabaab’s stronghold in Mudug region.

The army also liberated Galcad, another strategic town in Galmudug state.

Galmudug state President Ahmed Abdi Karie Qoorqoor has confirmed it in a statement saying, “We commend our brave SNA and local forces for advancing the operations against AS in the east of Galgaduud region over the past weeks and capturing Galcad town today”.

He added that the people of Galmudug are committed to the liberation with the support of federal government and international partners.

Somali national army backed-by locals have been battling the terrorist group al-Shabaab since Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud declared an “all-out war” against the terrorist last year.

Somalia has been plagued by insecurity for years, with al-Shabaab and Daesh/ISIS being among the main threats.

The UN has warned of growing instability in the country, issuing periodic reports last year that detailed attacks by al-Shabaab and pro-Daesh/ISIS terror groups.

Source: Anadolu Agency

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

https://www.aa.com.tr/en/africa/somali-military-liberates-strategic-coastal-town-from-al-shabaab-terrorists/2789170

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Ankara, Moscow discuss measures to send Turkish-made Russian flour to Africa

Faruk Zorlu 

16.01.2023

The Turkish and Russian presidents on Monday discussed steps to start making flour in Türkiye out of grain from Russia to send to Africa.

"Concrete steps were discussed in the project of turning Russian grain into flour in Türkiye and sending it to African countries in need," said a statement by the Turkish Communications Directorate on the phone call between Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Vladimir Putin.

The Black Sea grain corridor to allow ships to export goods from Ukraine and export of ammonia from Russia, along with the latest developments in the war in Ukraine, were also on the two leaders' agenda, the statement added.

Source: Anadolu Agency

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

https://www.aa.com.tr/en/africa/ankara-moscow-discuss-measures-to-send-turkish-made-russian-flour-to-africa/2789150

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Terror attack kills 5 soldiers in NW Mali

Aurore Bonny 

16.01.2023

Five soldiers were killed and three wounded in a terror attack on a road security mission in northwestern Mali, the army has said.

Terrorists attacked a security mission on the Kwala-Mourdiah road on the Gomitra-Kwala axis on Sunday morning, killing five soldiers and wounding three, according to a military statement after the attack.

The Malian armed forces (FAMA) subsequently deployed air reinforcements and killed 15 terrorists, the statement said.

No information on the identity of the terror group was shared.

Terror attacks have been recurrent in the northern and central regions of the West African country, which has been plagued by terrorism for the past decade.

Source: Anadolu Agency

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

https://www.aa.com.tr/en/africa/terror-attack-kills-5-soldiers-in-nw-mali/2789030

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North America

 

Senior US officials make quiet stops in Iraq, Jordan

16 January ,2023

US President Joe Biden’s top White House adviser on the Middle East is in the region as part of a trip to patch up widening rifts between traditional allies of Washington.

Brett McGurk, the White House National Security Council’s Middle East policy coordinator, has made stops in Iraq and Jordan over the last 24 hours, according to sources familiar with his travel.

He is also expected to head the delegation to Israel in the coming days, sources told Al Arabiya English.

Jordan’s Royal Hashemite Court said that McGurk met with King Abdullah II to discuss “means of enhancing strategic partnership” between Washington and Amman.

The state-run Petra news agency reported that McGurk met with Jordanian Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi. Amos Hochstein, Biden’s special coordinator for Global Infrastructure and Energy Security, was also in the meeting.

Hochstein had already been in the region after taking part in the Atlantic Council Global Energy Forum in Abu Dhabi.

Petra reported that the talks between the American officials and Safadi tackled regional issues, including in Palestine and Syria, the fight against terrorism, and support for Iraq and Lebanon.

“Safadi underlined Washington’s central and leading role in efforts to breathe new life into the Palestinian-Israeli peace process to solve the conflict on the basis of the two-state solution and in line with the international law and approved references,” Petra said.

Al Arabiya English has reached out to the White House for comment.

Randa Slim, a senior fellow at the Washington-based Middle East Institute, said the US officials were in Amman as part of the Biden administration’s efforts to get Jordan to join the Negev Forum and concerns over the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.

Abdullah is expected to visit Washington in the coming months.

Last week, around 150 officials from Bahrain, Egypt, Israel, Morocco and the United Arab Emirates attended the American-led Negev Forum summit, which the Biden administration created as it looks to continue the progress made by the Trump administration on peace efforts between Israel and its neighbors.

And although the above countries have normalized ties with Israel, along with Jordan, Amman refuses to participate in the forum as long as the Palestinians are omitted.

But Jordan’s king also raised eyebrows in a recent interview in which he warned of severe consequences if the new far-right Israeli government continues its provocative policies in al-Aqsa, Slim said.

In last month’s interview with CNN, Abdullah said there were concerns about a “next intifada,” warning that this could lead to a complete breakdown of law and order.

In Iraq, McGurk and Hochstein met Iraqi Prime Minister Mohammed al-Sudani. Over the weekend, Sudani told the Wall Street Journal that he favored the continued presence of American troops in the country.

The US Embassy in Baghdad said officials confirmed President Biden’s commitment to the Strategic Framework Agreement “with special emphasis on coordination and programs to support the Government of Iraq’s reforms in the areas of energy, infrastructure, and climate to benefit the Iraqi people.”

“The delegations also welcomed recent progress in resolving differences between the Government of Iraq and the Kurdistan Regional Government with respect to revenue sharing and energy exports,” the embassy said.

McGurk reaffirmed the US’s commitment to helping Iraqi forces in their fight against ISIS.

The embassy’s readout added that Iraqi FM Fuad Hussein is expected to visit Washington next month for strategic framework talks.

McGurk also was reported to have met with Kurdish figures, including President of the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) Masoud Barzani, and other officials from the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK).

Tensions have been on the rise between the KDP and PUK, especially after last year’s assassination of an intelligence officer with ties to both parties.

The US has been concerned about the deteriorating ties between the Kurdish sides, its negative impact on the fight against ISIS, as well as the ability of Iran to capitalize on these tensions and spread influence.

Source: Al Arabiya

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

https://english.alarabiya.net/News/middle-east/2023/01/16/Senior-US-officials-make-quiet-stops-in-Iraq-Jordan

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UK and US weapons used in Yemen make them complicit

16 January 2023

An Oxfam report, which analyzed 1727 attacks on Yemeni civilians since the start of 2021, shows that at least 839 civilians were killed and 1775 others were wounded during this time. 87 of the deaths were caused by airstrikes alone.

The aircraft used in the attacks, over half of which were British made, used cluster bombs, the use of which is banned by international law.

The fatalities were due to artillery strikes, missile barrages, drone attacks, landmines, road side bombs and the use of light arms.

According to another report by an American think tank, the American Thinker, Saudi Arabia spends some $200 million per day to hire mercenaries and maintain the arms supply.

A large portion of this money goes to the UK for purchasing Typhoon and Tornado aircraft, Paveway bombs, as well as Brimstone and Storm Shadow missiles, making the UK fully complicit in the crimes committed against Yemeni civilians, as stated by the International Development Committee of the UK.

Given that the UK has a long history of defense exports to Saudi Arabia and its coalition partners, and considering the evidence, it seems inevitable that any violations of international humanitarian and human rights law by the coalition have involved armaments supplied from the UK.

These arms have also been used by the Saudi led coalition to bomb health facilities on 19 separate instances which constitutes war crimes.

Oxfam's policy adviser, Martin Butcher, called on the UK government to immediately cease its arm sales to the Saudis. He also pointed out the hypocrisy of UK sanctions against Russia over alleged war crimes in Ukraine while turning a blind eye to the blatant war crimes of the Saudi coalition in Yemen.

Mr Butcher also highlighted the fact that the UK Government still continues to sell arms to Saudi Arabia, being its second biggest arms supplier, which will, inevitably, be used in the war against Yemen.

He revealed that the UK government have not only been arming Saudi Arabia but have also been very reluctant to use their position on the United Nations Security Council to push for peace.

Saudi Arabia is the biggest importer of arms in the world second only to a country with 40 times the population of the KSA. In the year 2020 alone, the Kingdom imported nearly $1 billion worth of arms, the majority of which came from the US.

This however, does not stop the US from parroting a tired narrative of pushing for peace in Yemen, when, in reality, they even hesitate to call it a war. This is apparent by President Biden's initial pledges to end the war during his presidential campaign while continually supplying arms to the kingdom to this very day.

Let me begin first by reiterating our commitment, the commitment of the United States, to helping improve Yemeni lives, creating the space for Yemenis to collectively determine their own future, and to advance a durable resolution that ends the conflict in Yemen.

Timothy Lenderking, US Special Envoy to Yemen

However the weapons fragments, emblazoned with US and UK branding, paint a starkly different picture. The six months United Nations sponsored truce which was supposed to be the grounds for longer standing solutions, was also very quickly, and repeatedly, violated by Saudi Arabia.

This is what Yemen's Ansarullah Resistance Movement sees as the reason for the temporary truce:

The Saudi led coalition's main goal out of (sic) the truce was to stop the Houthi Ansarullah forces from carrying out retaliatory military operations against targets deep inside Saudi Arabia. Moreover, the crippling sea, land, and air, blockade on Yemen has created a humanitarian disaster in the country.

Ansarullah Resistance Movement, Yemen

With all options exhausted the Ansarullah Movement has now said that it will inevitably launch missile strikes deep inside Saudi and UAE territories. This comes amid reports that the Saudi Crown Prince, Mohammed bin Salman, is looking to find a way out of the incredibly costly Yemen war.

The Lebanese Al Akbar newspaper wrote "Riyadh is now showing a lot of flexibility during negotiations is currently has no concern other than getting security guarantees that strategic facilities deep inside the country would not be hid. It has abandoned the illusion of turning Yemen into a country under its tutelage and has instead sufficed for security assurances". However, this report needs further corroboration.

Source: Press TV

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

https://www.presstv.ir/Detail/2023/01/16/696427/UK-and-US-weapons-used-in-Yemen-make-them-complicit

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Southeast Asia

 

Malaysian Festival Seeking to Promote Quranic Arts in World: Organizer

January 16, 2023

Organized by the Restu Foundation and Nasyrul Quran Complex with the cooperation of foreign partners, including the Iranian Cultural Centre in Malaysia, the festival is set to be held from January 20 to 29 in Putrajaya.

“After three years of Covid problems in the world, we are back,” Chairman of Restu Foundation, Datuk Haji Abdul Latif Mirasa, told IQNA in an exclusive interview on Monday.

“We want to promote Quranic arts and also the Malaysian art, especially the Islamic arts, not only for Malaysians but also for the world,” he stressed.

According to a released program book by the organizers, the event allows visitors to witness special exhibitions, and interact with the Quran and Islamic arts and Islamic products entrepreneurs while also trying to improve the image of Islam as an inclusive and peaceful religion.

Introducing the preservation and prosperity of the Quran, glorifying the teachings of Islam, inviting the community to love knowledge and scholars, utilizing modern technology as an effective preaching medium, and trying to return the Muslim community to their true identity have been named among other objectives of the event.

“We have lots of activities,” the prominent Quranic activist said, noting that the festival seeks to especially attract “children and families” so that they become familiar with what the Restu Foundation does.

The event, according to Mirasa, will put on display beautiful copies of the Quran, works of Islamic arts such as Tazhib (illumination), calligraphy, tiles, as well as decorations that are used in digital editions of the Holy Quran.

The 10-day festival also includes funfairs and food fairs, he added.

Restu Foundation is the only non-profit organization in the whole world that has organized such an event, he said while also acknowledging that the Malaysian government has backed them “very strongly”.

Four countries will participate in this year’s event, said the head of Restu Foundation, adding that several other countries were also interested to come to Malaysia but they had problems, including with the required funds. He hoped that more countries would attend the event in the coming editions.

On cooperation with Iran

He named Iran as the “best country” in terms of cooperation in the festival, hailing the Iranian embassy and public for the joint work.

“Inshallah maybe after holding this event in Malaysia, we may come to Iran to share our ideas of the exhibition of Islamic arts,” Mirasa noted.

There are “many areas” of cooperation between Iran and Malaysia with a focus on the Holy Quran because Iran is a “very rich country in the Islamic tradition,” he said, adding, “in fact, we are learning a lot from Iranian public.”

He also pointed to an Iranian delegation that is slated to go to Malaysia for the event which includes artists, reciters, and Quran activists.

He pointed to some Iranian arts, such as tile works and Muqarnas, and said these are “very strong traditions of Iranian culture”, noting that the festival will put on display some Iranian artworks.

“I’m happy to say that some of these people coming from Iran will have a kind of public lecture to teach the people about Islamic arts,” Mirasa added.

He also appreciated the efforts of the Iranian cultural center in Malaysia for cooperation on this festival.

Promoting Quran across the world

Mirasa pointed to the need to explain the Holy Quran to non-Islamic countries, noting that Islamic countries are “doing well” for offering the Quran.

He referred to the need to translate the Quran into other languages other than Arabic.

“But the beauty of our Quran is not only about translation and tafsir but also the beauty of illumination, how we identify the beauty of that country in the Quran and the Quran towards the country.

So it is a very important process to make the people feel they are very close to the Quran. That is what we do.”

One of the objectives of the festival is to introduce the role of Nasyrul Quran Complex to local and international visitors. The complex, according to its website, is the world’s second-largest Quran production center after the King Fahd Quran Printing Complex in Medina. The foundation, which is located in Putrajaya, a city near the Malaysian capital of Kuala Lumpur, is also a tourist attraction visited by those who love the Quran and Quranic arts from around the world.

The 10-day festival will have various exhibitions such as artifacts of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) and his companions, Kaaba Kiswa, Quran village, the largest seerah book in the world, and exclusive Restu products.

Restu Global Quranic Arts Festival will also include a host of other events such as Halal hub, sale bazaar, animation festival, kids activities (Batik painting), and bidding on art pieces.

Visitors can also take a tour of the Holy Quran printing factory while also receiving services for disposing of the Quran and other Islamic books.

Source: IQNA

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

https://iqna.ir/en/news/3482093/malaysian-festival-seeking-to-promote-quranic-arts-in-world-organizer

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Six Islamic extremists surrender in Philippines

January 16, 2023

Six members of the Muslim extremist group Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) surrendered their weapons to the military forces at Maguindanao province in Mindanao, a restive, conflict-scarred region in the southern Philippines.

The fighters of the state-declared terrorist group laid down their arms to the military’s Western Mindanao Command on Jan. 15, said a top military commander.

“As a sign that they had indeed abandoned the cause they were fighting for, the BIFF members also gave their one 60mm mortar, one M16A1 rifle, one Garand rifle, one Carbine rifle, one long magazine, one rocket-propelled grenade launcher with one ammunition and one improvised explosive device,” Brigadier General Arturo Rojas told reporters.

The Philippine army has reported that the extremist group was exhausted due to the continued military operations in the Maguindanao region.

“We have been conducting raids and house arrests for suspect members of the extremist groups based on intelligence reports. Of course, we do it legally under a search warrant or a warrant of arrest… members of the group got tired, so they surrendered instead of hiding for their safety,” Rojas added.

The Armed Forces of the Philippines said although President Ferdinand Marcos, Jr. has ordered an offensive attack against the rebels, humanitarian protocols were in place for those who surrendered.

“We welcome the former violent extremists and extend our assistance to them as they return to mainstream society. Rest assured that we will keep them safe as they prepare themselves to become productive members of their respective communities," Lieutenant General Vicente Bacarro, the army’s chief of staff, told reporters on Jan. 16.

Bacarro praised local communities for helping them track down trails of suspected terrorists particularly in navigating the forests of the Mindanao region.

"We, the Armed Forces, share all our gains and successes with our partners and stakeholders, the local government units, and the populace. Let us continue to strengthen our collaborative efforts to end terrorism and sustain stability here in Mindanao," Bacarro added.

Caritas Philippines had worked with government officials for the surrender of the Muslim extremists, especially for their rehabilitation.

“We provided them with rice and financial aid. Mostly, people join these (extremist) groups because of poverty. So, we need to address it first. Then we will provide them with livelihood,” Mindanao Caritas Chairperson Father Roel De Guzman told UCA News.

The priest said they were in the process of profiling each member so they could reach out to their local community and families.

“They lacked communication with their loved ones because they are afraid that government forces would torture their family members to extract information about their whereabouts. But if they see that church and government make the first efforts to bring them to their family members, then somehow there is hope they’d trust the process again,” Father De Guzman added.

The army’s data revealed 4 out of the 6 rebels were coconut farmers in the Visayas region. They had pending warrants of arrest for the alleged bombing of a bus in January last year.

A child had been killed while six others were wounded after a bomb exploded on a passenger bus in Cotabato City in Mindanao.

“They had pending warrants. But they will be given lawyers to make sure justice will be served and their rights will be protected,” Mindanao lawyer Chris Logibao told UCA News.

For their security, the Philippine army has opted not to divulge the identities of the members of the BIFF group. The extremist group did not issue a statement since the surrender.

For decades, the Mindanao region has been known as a conflict zone due to the fighting between Islamic extremists and the military that claimed thousands of lives. The main extremist outfit, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) has long battled for greater autonomy for the region.

The outfit disarmed thousands of its fighters after the Philippine government passed the Bangsamoro Basic Law in 2018 to offer greater autonomy for Muslims in Mindanao. However, many of its fighters have reportedly joined other extremist outfits including Aby Sayyaf which is still active in the region.

Analysts blame widespread poverty in the region with a population of 24 million for breeding extremism. Mindanao is known as the breadbasket of the Philippines thanks to its promising agriculture sector and natural resources.

Source: UCA News

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

https://www.ucanews.com/news/six-islamic-extremists-surrender-in-philippines/100050

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Study: ‘Ultranationalist’ groups gaining traction in Malaysian online space following Umno’s defeat in 2018 polls

By Keertan Ayamany

17 Jan 2023

KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 17 — A report by the regional think tank Asia Centre has suggested that hate speech and ultranationalist groups are gaining significant influence in the Malaysian online space recently, promoting their agenda that revolves around the “3R”, or race, religion and the royalty.

According to the report titled “Internet Freedoms in Malaysia: Regulating Online Discourse on Race, Religion and Royalty” released yesterday, there is an immediate need for action to be taken to protect victims of the groups which have been operating with impunity.

"More exclusive and more right-wing groups use social media to propagate their agendas. These groups are able to silence people,” Dr Hew Wai Weng, a research fellow at the Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia, was quoted as saying in the report.

"They used their ‘freedom of speech’ to limit the freedoms of other people, especially those of minority background — be it gender, ethnic or religious minorities. For example, they campaigned against LGBT people. They monitor LGBT activism online and offline.

"These right-wing groups are not necessarily state actors. There can be preachers, NGO leaders, and opinion leaders who propagate Malay Muslim insecurity,” he added.

The report also said that these groups became especially prevalent after Malay nationalist party Umno’s defeat in the 2018 general election which saw its coalition Barisan Nasional lose for the first time in six decades, which created a "vacuum where Malays need to defend Malays”.

Umno is currently part of the coalition government with former political enemies Pakatan Harapan led by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim.

The report also pointed out that although ultranationalist groups existed before the internet, the arrival of the internet enabled these groups to promote their agenda at a low cost to a bigger audience.

This comes as 89.6 per cent of the total 32 million population in Malaysia have internet access in 2022.

The report detailed traits and tactics used by the groups, such as patrolling and monitoring the internet to promote their agenda, doxxing and attacking critics of the 3R discourse using hate speech, lodging reports with the police and internet service providers, and sometimes even call to violence.

It also noted that although Pakatan Harapan has promised to look after the rights of non-Malays, after its success in the 15th general election, the coalition’s leader Anwar has made pledges that the position of the Malays, Islam and the Royalty will not be questioned.

Meanwhile, Wathshlah Naidu, executive director of the Centre for Independent Journalism said that human rights activists and defenders of the internet have experienced online harassment to the point of withdrawing from participation in both online and public spaces.

"They experienced emotional and psychological impacts leading to the impact of public participation. The internet environment is contributing to a kind of spiral impact that is not only yourself but also your life in public," she said.

The think tank said the rise of ultranationalist groups was among the four impacts on internet freedoms that resulted from an ecosystem of laws used to ensure the special position of the Malays, Islam, and the monarchy, and to suppress progressive 3Rs narratives with fear.

Other impacts included website blocking by authorities, requesting social media platforms to remove content, and investigation and prosecution of critics.

The report then made several recommendations, among which was for Malaysia to sign and ratify the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (Icerd) and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) — which saw intense backlash from some in the Malay-Muslim lobby since 2018.

It also called for the repeal of Sections 298 and 298(A) of the Penal Code, which criminalises content or actions that authorities consider an insult to religion, as well as the repeal of the Sedition Act and the Official Secrets Act.

It also asked for a review and an amendment of Section 233 of the Communication and Multimedia Act to clearly define what are the improper uses of network facilities or network services that it criminalises.

Source: Malay Mail

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

https://www.malaymail.com/news/malaysia/2023/01/17/study-ultranationalist-groups-gaining-traction-in-malaysian-online-space-following-umnos-defeat-in-2018-polls/50558

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URL:   https://newageislam.com/islamic-world-news/hindu-sanskrit-sharia-secularism/d/128897

 

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