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Hindus, Muslims Take Part in Prayers In Memory Of Lives Lost During Partition at Golden Temple

New Age Islam News Bureau

17 August 2022


For the first time, members of the Muslim and Hindu communities joined the Ardas (Sikh prayer) held at Akal Takht, the highest temporal seat of the Sikhs, at the Golden Temple in Amritsar in memory of the lakhs of Punjabis who lost their lives during the communal riots during the Partition of India and Pakistan in 1947. (HT PHOTO)


• Ninety-five Percent Kuwaitis Endorse Boycott of Israel, Reject Normalization of Ties: Opinion Poll

• Taliban Add More Compulsory Religion Classes to Afghan Universities’ Schedule

• Israeli Delegation Pays Rare Visit to Indonesia

• Top Ansarullah Official: US Inciting Saudi-Led Aggression on Yemen despite Peace-Loving Gestures



• As Bilkis Bano's Rapists Walk Free, Opposition Has A Few Queries for PM Modi

• Portion of Mosque Paves Way for Widening Of Irwin Road, Mysuru

• Dalai Lama Meets Muslim Community In Zanskar

• If Muslims Do Not Control Their Youth, Hindus Will: BJP Leader KS Eshwarappa

• I-Day Drama by Punjab School Kids Portraying Muslim Man As Terrorist Sparks Row

• Akhil Bharat Hindu Mahasabha Member Writes in Blood to CM Yogi, Seeks To Offer Janmashtami Prayer At Mathura's Shahi Masjid

• Six of Muslim Family Found Dead under Suspicious Circumstances at Home In Jammu

• Another Targeted Killing: Kashmiri Pandit Man Shot Dead By Terrorists On Shopian Village Orchard, Brother Hurt

• Muslim neighbours rush to slain Kashmiri Pandit’s aid

• At Slain Kashmiri Pandit’s Village People Mourn Amid Chants Of ‘Hindu Muslim Sikh’ Unity

• NSA Ajit Doval in Russia to review ties; Afghanistan, terror too figure on agenda


Arab World

• Turkish troops, Kurdish fighters exchange heavy shelling in Syria’s Kobane

• Egypt’s deadly church fire sparks global outpouring of sorrow and sympathy

• 25 dead in airstrikes, shelling in north Syria

• Twins, triplets among child victims of Egypt church fire that killed 41

• Three Syrian soldiers killed, 6 wounded in Turkish air strike on military posts

• Iraq’s Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr backtracks on call for massive rally

• Egypt judge sentenced to death for wife’s murder


South Asia

• Afghan Resistance Group Claims Arrest Of Taliban Forces In Panjshir

• Islamic Emirate Denies Detention of Its Forces in Panjshir

• Taliban 2.0 – The trajectory of events after one year in power

• Taliban ‘Disgruntled’ Commander Killed in Western Afghanistan


Southeast Asia

• Indonesia at ‘Peak of Global Leadership,’ President Says Ahead Of G20 Summit

• Abdurresid Ibrahim to Be Remembered For Spreading Islam in Japan

• The 10 most mesmerising mosques in Malaysia

• Sabahans fail to revive suit against Hadi for alleged attack on Christians

• The enhancing bilateral relations between Indonesia and Saudi Arabia



• Iran Categorically Rejects Allegations of Smuggling Weapons to Yemen

• AEOI Chief Stresses All Countries' Right to Peaceful Nuclear Technology

• Son Says Jailed Iranian Still Kept in Solitary Confinement for 1,000 Days

• Senior Analyst: US to Blame If Talks Fail to End in Deal

• Israeli Court Rejects Release Appeal for Palestinian Man On 165-Day Hunger Strike

• Palestinian President Abbas skirts apology for Munich attack



• Somali Government Vows To Eliminate Al-Shabaab Terrorists' So-Called Courts

• EU urges peaceful resolution of election dispute in Kenya

• Tunisia constitution giving president wider powers comes into effect

• Tunisia intercepts nearly 100 Europe-bound migrants

• Northwestern Zamfara State in Nigeria passes death penalty for banditry, cattle rustling

• Kenyan opposition leader says he’ll challenge his close election loss


North America

• US Rules out releasing $3.5 Billion in Frozen Afghan Funds

• US studying Iran’s comments on EU nuclear deal proposal: State Department

• Trump calls US withdrawal from Afghanistan most 'humiliating event in the history of the United States'



• EU Says Iran’s Response To Nuclear Deal Plan Is Constructive

• Swedish citizen detained in Iran for espionage might face other charges: Spokesperson

• Türkiye holds panel in Paris to push for UN Security Council reform

• German troops back to Bosnia as fear of instability grows

• Zelensky, Erdogan and Guterres to meet in Ukraine on Thursday

• UN won’t reinstate official transferred for criticizing Islamic Jihad rocket fire



• Why US Envoys Allowed To Visit Sensitive Areas, Questions Shireen Mazari

• Gunmen kill two policemen escorting polio workers in Pakistan

• China wants military outposts in Pakistan to safeguard its investments

• Pak PM likely to take decision on next Army chief's appointment by mid-September: Report

• Professor shot dead in Quetta, body of lawyer found in Bostan

• Pakistan to play ‘positive role’ to eliminate differences between China, US: PM

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau



Hindus, Muslims Take Part In Prayers In Memory Of Lives Lost During Partition at Golden Temple


For the first time, members of the Muslim and Hindu communities joined the Ardas (Sikh prayer) held at Akal Takht, the highest temporal seat of the Sikhs, at the Golden Temple in Amritsar in memory of the lakhs of Punjabis who lost their lives during the communal riots during the Partition of India and Pakistan in 1947. (HT PHOTO)


By Kamaldeep Singh Brar | Amritsar

August 17, 2022

A special Ardas Samagam (prayer congregation) was organised in memory of the people who lost their lives during Partition at Akal Takht.

Prayers were also held at other major Gurudwara under Shiromani Gurudwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) management. Earlier, Akhand Path (the continuous and uninterrupted recitation of Guru Granth Sahib) was also carried out and the Hazuri Ragis Jathas Golden Temple performed Gurbani Kirtan.

Hindu and Muslim representatives also attended prayers at Golden Temple.

Gangveer Rathur, who had approached Jathedar with idea of offering prayer, said, “It is big step in understanding the pain of partition and its impact on the present and future of Punjab. The future generations need to understand why partition took place.”

Akal Takht Jathedar Giani Harpreet Singh said that the governments of India and Pakistan should pass condolence resolutions in their Parliaments for the of people who lost lives during Partition. “Visas should be granted to them so that they can easily visit their ancestral and religious places. Panjabis suffered the most in Partition followed by Bengalis. People of these two states fought the British fiercely but they were punished by dividing their states and their properties were seized,” he said, adding that the pain is still there.

Source: Indian Express

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Ninety-five Percent Kuwaitis Endorse Boycott of Israel, Reject Normalization of Ties: Opinion Poll


Photo: Fars News


16 August 2022

A recent opinion poll has shown that most Kuwaitis support boycott of Israel and reject a normalization of relations with the occupying regime.

A recent opinion poll has revealed that 95 percent of Kuwaitis oppose any normalization of ties with Israel and 70 percent of the people adamantly disagree with developing any relations with the Zionist regime, Alkhaleej Online reported.

The report added that the Kuwaiti government and people support the Palestinian cause and are maintaining their stance on the issue. Kuwait still supports the two-state solution as the only way to end the conflict, it stated.

Kuwaitis insist on imposing sanctions on the Israeli regime, the report said, adding that Kuwait reaffirmed its stance against Israel by boycotting the regime in sports and trades and banning ships sailing between them or carrying cargo bound for Israel.

No Kuwaiti athlete, politician, intellectual, or writer accepts to be present in one place with Israelis, and they do not participate in any event that includes representatives of the occupying state, it concluded.

In September 2020, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain signed US-brokered normalization agreements with Israel. Sudan and Morocco followed suit, triggering a chorus of condemnation among Muslims, with Palestinians calling it a stab in their back.

In May 2021, following the Israeli military’s 11-day war on the Gaza Strip and its brutal attacks against Palestinians across the occupied West Bank, Kuwait’s National Assembly unanimously approved legislation that outlawed any deals or normalization of ties with the Tel Aviv regime.

Kuwaiti legislators also expressed their country’s strong position on the Palestinian cause and its unswerving support and solidarity with the Palestinian nation until they establish an independent sovereign state with East al-Quds as its capital.

Source: Press TV

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Taliban Add More Compulsory Religion Classes to Afghan Universities’ Schedule


Taliban Minister for Higher Education Abdul Baqi Haqqani (centre) arrives to address a press conference in Kabul on Tuesday.—AFP


August 17, 2022

KABUL: Afghan university students will have to attend more compulsory Islamic studies classes, education officials said on Tuesday while giving little sign that secondary schools for girls would reopen.

Many conservative Afghan clerics in the hardline Islamist Taliban, which swept back into power a year ago, are sceptical of modern education.

“We are adding five more religious subjects to the existing eight,” said Abdul Baqi Haqqani, minister for higher education, including Islamic history, politics and governance.

The number of compulsory religious classes will increase from one to three a week in government universities.

He told a news conference that the Taliban would not order any subjects to be dropped from the current curriculum.

However, some universities have altered studies on music and sculpture — highly sensitive issues under the Taliban’s harsh interpretation of sharia law — while an exodus of Afghanistan’s educated elite, including professors, has seen many subjects discontinued.

Officials have for months insisted that schools will reopen for girls, swaying between technical and financial issues as reasons for the continued closures.

Abdulkhaliq Sadiq, a senior official at the education ministry, on Tuesday said families in rural areas were still not convinced of the need to send girls to secondary school.

Under the Taliban’s last regime between 1996 and 2001, both primary and secondary schools for girls never reopened.

“We are trying to come up with a sound policy in coordination with our leaders... so that those in rural areas are also convinced,” he said.

Since seizing power on August 15 last year the Taliban have imposed harsh restrictions on girls and women to comply with their austere vision of Islam — effectively squeezing them out of public life.

Although young women are still permitted to attend university, many have dropped out because of the cost or because their families are afraid for them to be out in public in Taliban-ruled Afghanistan.

Meanwhile, without a secondary school certificate, teenage girls will not be able to sit future university entrance exams.

The international community has made the right to education a key condition for formally recognising the Taliban government. Despite being in power for a year, no country has so far recognised the government.

Source: Dawn

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Israeli Delegation Pays Rare Visit To Indonesia


This aerial picture shows traditional fishing boats moored at a pier in Jakarta on May 5, 2022. - Bay Ismoyo/Afp Via Getty Images


Rina Bassist

August 17, 2022

An Israeli delegation visited Muslim-majority Indonesia in late July. The organizer, the Israel-Asia Center, said the trip was intended to explore the potential for bilateral connections through investment, start-up ventures and social impact initiatives.

As the two countries do not maintain diplomatic relations and Israelis rarely receive visas to visit Indonesia, the Israeli delegation was composed of people with dual citizenship. Israel does offer visas under certain conditions for Indonesian Christian and Muslim pilgrim groups wishing to visit the Holy Land.

The Israel-Asia Center is an Israeli nonprofit organization that runs a range of leadership programs in a wide array of sectors, including business, investment, media, education, government, diplomacy, tech, health care and international development. It operates not only in Asian countries with whom Israel has diplomatic ties but also in some countries that have no diplomatic ties with Israel, such as Indonesia and Malaysia. To date, it has secured over $250 million in investment between Israel and Asia.

Rebecca Zeffert, the center's founder and executive director, told Al-Monitor that the Israeli delegation to Indonesia was comprised of investors, heads of chambers of commerce, tech professionals and innovators. Most of them, she noted, are alumni of the center’s Israel-Indonesia Futures program. She said, “While in Jakarta, the delegates met Indonesian business leaders, university presidents, entrepreneurs and investors. They also visited start-up hubs and accelerators.”

Israel and Indonesia have taken a few steps toward diplomatic rapprochement but each time, the Indonesian leadership backed away, saying that relations would be established after advancements on the Palestinian issue.

Former Trade and Industry Minister Ran Cohen is familiar with Israel-Indonesia relations. After serving as minister, in the year 2,000, he was appointed head of the Israel-Asia Chamber of Commerce. Cohen told Al-Monitor that in the seven years he headed the chamber, he met quite a few Indonesians in Israel or when he traveled to Singapore.

“I really hoped that Indonesian people I encountered — peace-loving and very attached to the Holy Land — would help in creating a bridge of peace between us, Israelis and the Palestinians," he said. "I knew that if the majority-Muslim Indonesia would initiate such peace moves, many Israelis and also Palestinians could be convinced to choose the path of peace over the path of killing and violence. Unfortunately, at the time, these contacts yielded little in that direction.”

After the 2020 signature of the Abraham Accords between Israel, Bahrain, the Emirates, Morocco and Sudan, some reports claimed Indonesia would be next to normalize ties with Israel and that the Trump administration offered Jakarta billions of dollars in additional US financial support to Indonesia if it joined the Abraham Accords.

US Secretary General Antony Blinken raised the issue with his Indonesian counterpart Retno Marsudi when they met in Jakarta December 2021. Indonesian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Teuku Faizasyah confirmed in a statement at the time that diplomatic ties with Israel were discussed in the meeting by Blinken, but said that Marsudi insisted Indonesia’s position remain consistent with the Palestinian cause.

On Jan. 25, then-Foreign Minister Yair Lapid raised the issue publicly. Speaking on Israel's Army Radio, Lapid said Israel was looking to "expand the Abraham Accords to additional countries" beyond Bahrain, the Emirates, Morocco and Sudan. "If you're asking me what the important countries that we're looking at are, Indonesia is one of them, Saudi Arabia of course, but these things take time," he said.

Zeffert notes that while Israel and Indonesia do not maintain diplomatic ties, bilateral trade is expanding. “Currently, direct and indirect Israel-Indonesia trade comes to about $500 million per year, not including defense exports or investments made by Indonesians in Israeli tech. It does include export of telecoms, smart agriculture and tourism.”

She believes the potential for more Israel-Indonesia trade is tremendous in sectors such as education, fintech, cybersecurity, artificial intelligence, mobility, health care, food tech and water technologies. “At the end of the day, with or without diplomatic ties, partnerships are all about people. I see our role as creating familiarity and building trust between people. We are providing the guidance and the platform for these people-to-people interactions and partnerships, which are paving the way to more normalized relations between Israel and Indonesia ahead of formal ties,” says Zeffert.

Emanuel Shahaf is the vice chair of the Israel-Indonesia Chamber of Commerce. When the delegation returned to Israel, he told the press that the visit was different from previous delegations to Indonesia because it followed months of trust-building meetings via Zoom, making face-to-face meetings in Jakarta more productive. It also gave participants the chance to consider more and bigger projects. The initiative, he said, “enables a slow and controlled build-up of relationships between vastly different cultures. By the time we actually meet, apprehensions and concerns have mostly been dealt with and relatively smooth sailing lies ahead.”

Source: Al Monitor

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Top Ansarullah Official: US Inciting Saudi-Led Aggression on Yemen despite Peace-Loving Gestures


Photo: Fars News


17 August 2022

A member of the political bureau of Yemen’s popular Ansarullah resistance movement has sharply criticized the United States for stirring up the brutal Saudi-led military campaign and blockade against the impoverished country, stating that the practice comes at the same time that American officials pretend to be supportive of the United Nations-sponsored truce.

“What is currently happening in the occupied Yemeni areas is the direct result of US President Joe Biden’s visit to Saudi Arabia last month, and his meeting with senior Saudi officials, including Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, in the Red Sea port city of Jeddah,” Ali al-Qahoum told Lebanon’s Arabic-language al-Mayadeen television news network on Tuesday evening.

“The doors of Sana'a are open to anyone with whom we can confront the Saudi and Emirati projects that serve Washington,” Qahoum said.

“We cannot accept the presence of foreign forces on Yemeni soil, divisive scenarios, occupation and foreign guardianship over our territories,” the senior Ansarullah official noted.

“While Americans openly speak about supporting Yemen truce, they exhibit an aggressive behavior towards Yemeni people and are fueling the [Saudi-led] aggression against them.

“We are aware of the intensity of this battle. There would be no peace [in Yemen] until all colonists withdraw and control over our national assets is restored,” Qahoum said.

He stressed that “Yemeni people will not remain silent in the face of foreign companies' looting of Yemen's natural wealth. Recent military parades are a direct and warning message to the countries involved in the all-out aggression against Yemen.”

Earlier, the head of Yemen’s Supreme Political Council warned members of the Saudi-led coalition that barrages of missiles will rain down on them should they continue war and siege against Yemeni people.

“Our missiles and drones will rain down on you if you insist on continuing your aggression and siege against the Yemeni people,” Yemen’s Arabic-language al-Masirah television network quoted Mahdi al-Mashat as saying.

He said the military hardware that the US is selling to Saudis and Emiratis would be of no use against attacks by the Yemeni armed forces. “They will not protect you from our strikes,” Mashat stated.

The top Yemeni official also said that the so-called “Anger Maneuvers” conducted by American and Saudi forces in the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden are ineffective, adding that the Yemeni forces will make them “Escape Maneuvers.”

Saudi Arabia launched the devastating war on Yemen in March 2015 in collaboration with its Arab allies and with arms and logistics support from the US and other Western states.

The objective was to reinstall the Riyadh-friendly regime of Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi and crush the Ansarullah resistance movement, which has been running state affairs in the absence of a functional government in Yemen.

While the Saudi-led coalition has failed to meet any of its objectives, the war has killed hundreds of thousands of Yemenis and spawned the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.

Source: Press TV

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As Bilkis Bano's Rapists Walk Free, Opposition Has A Few Queries for PM Modi

Aug 16, 2022

Leaders of Opposition parties on Tuesday launched a scathing attack on at Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the BJP-led Gujarat government for releasing 11 men convicted of rape and murder in the Bilkis Bano case during the 2002 Gujarat riots. With the men walking free hours after Modi spoke about "Nari Shakti" in his Independence Day speech, the Congress and other parties asked if this is the "real face" of New India under the BJP.

The convicts, serving life imprisonment for the gang rape of a pregnant Bilkis Bano and murder of seven of her family members, were freed by the Gujarat government as part of its remission policy.

The men, who were also charged with killing the pregnant Muslim woman's three-year-old daughter, were welcomed with sweets and garlands outside the jail.

Congress spokesperson Pawan Khera said the Prime Minister should tell the country if he himself believed in his words when he spoke about the safety, respect and empowerment of women. "The BJP government in Gujarat released 11 convicts in the Bilkis Bano gang rape case. This decision brings out the BJP government's mind-set," he told reporters.

He also referred to the Kathua and Unnao rape cases and said it embarrasses everyone in politics when office-bearers and supporters of a national political party are seen taking out a rally in favour of rapists on the streets.

"Yesterday, from the ramparts of the Red Fort, the prime minister spoke big things about women's safety, women's power, women's respect. A few hours later, the Gujarat government released the rapist. We also saw that the convicts in the rape who were released are being honoured. Is this the Amrit Mahotsav," Khera said.

"The Congress asks the PM to tell the country that what he said from the ramparts of the Red Fort were merely words, as he himself did not believe in his words. Who is the real Narendra Modi? The one who serves falsehood from the ramparts of the Red Fort or the one who gets his Gujarat government to release those behind rape," the Congress leader said.

All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) chief and Hyderabad MP Asaduddin Owaisi also hit out at Modi over the move.

In his Independence Day speech, Modi had asked Indians to take a pledge not to do anything that lowers the dignity of women, Owaisi said. "He said something about supporting 'Nari Shakti'. Gujarat BJP govt released criminals convicted of gang rape on the same day. The message is clear," Owaisi tweeted.

The CPI(M) also strongly condemned the release of the convicts, saying "this is the real face of New India -- convicted killers and rapists released" and activist Teesta Setalvad "who fought for justice was jailed".

Trinamool Congress spokesperson Saket Gokhale said Bilkis Bano was "raped in the 2002 Gujarat pogrom and her entire family was murdered and buried in a mass grave".

"Gujarat govt has now released all 11 monsters who were convicted of this heinous crime. Where's the outrage by people & the Noida media? Not even a whimper," he tweeted.

Bahujan Samaj Party MP Danish Ali said the PM's remarks, followed by the release of 11 convicts exposed the huge gap between words and the spirit of justice. "The world is watching but who cares in 'New India'?" he tweeted.

A special Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) court in Mumbai on January 21, 2008, had sentenced the 11 men to life imprisonment on charges of gang rape and murder of seven members of Bilkis Bano's family during the 2002 Gujarat riots. Their conviction was later upheld by the Bombay high court.

Source: Hindustan Times

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Portion Of Mosque Paves Way For Widening Of Irwin Road, Mysuru

AUGUST 16, 2022

The work on widening of Irwin Road in the city has resumed with the demolition of a portion of the Jamia mosque, which was coming in the way of the road widening project.

While Chairman of Mysuru district Waqf Advisory Council Ghayas Ahmed said the demolition was carried out in the presence of the Wakf Board and Mosque representatives after the High Court vacated a stay, Chamaraja MLA L. Nagendra said the technical hurdles in the path of the road widening work were resolved through several rounds of negotiations with the Wakf Board and Mosque Committee representatives

The Mysuru City Corporation (MCC) had taken up a project to widen Irwin Road into a four-lane road in 2018. While much of the stretch of the road between the Arch Gate near suburban bus stand and the Babu Jagjivan Ram Circle in front of City Railway station had been widened, a few patches had remained unwidened due to the hurdles.

Following the demolition of the portion of the mosque, the authorities had begun work on laying a drainage pipeline. Later, the portion of the road will also be asphalted.

Mr. Nagendra, who visited the spot on Tuesday along with MCC Commissioner Lakshmikant Reddy, said the demolition was carried out only after taking all parties concerned into confidence. “They (Wakf and Mosque Committee) representatives came forward and allowed the demolition to be conducted in their presence after they realised the public inconvenience. We want Hindu-Muslim harmony”, said the BJP MLA.

The owners of properties on Irwin Road, whose land was acquired for road widening, had been paid the market price as compensation.

Mr. Ghayas said ₹3.46 crore had been handed over by the Government as compensation for the portion of the land acquired for widening the road and the Wakf Board had constituted a project development committee comprising him, officials from MCC and other departments to renovate the mosque as well as build a commercial complex.

Source: The Hindu

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Dalai Lama meets Muslim community in Zanskar

August 16, 2022

By Choekyi Lhamo

DHARAMSHALA, Aug 16: The exiled Tibetan leader His Holiness the Dalai Lama on Saturday visited the Eid Gah in Padum at the invitation of the Muslim community in Zanskar, Ladakh. The spiritual head of Tibetan Buddhism greeted the members of the congregation and said, “As a Buddhist monk, wherever I go, I encourage people to cultivate inter-religious harmony. All religious traditions counsel their followers to develop love and compassion and work for the benefit of others. Therefore, whenever I can, I visit different places of worship, just as I have come to this Eid Gah this morning”.

One of the recurring topics that the octogenarian leader raised during his public engagements in Ladakh was the promotion of religious harmony which is one of his key commitments. During the meeting, he expressed delight in knowing that both the Buddhist and Muslim communities lived in harmony, “I am pleased to see that here in Zanskar, Muslim and Buddhist communities live in close harmony with each other, for which I would again like to thank our Muslim brothers and sisters today. Harmony in the Himalayan region as a whole is important because of the close relations the region has had with Tibet, where a profound Buddhist culture derived from the historic Nalanda Tradition that we are striving to keep alive.”

However, the Dalai Lama expressed sadness over the ongoing conflict between different religions around the world, as well as the conflict among different sects of a religion, “While it is sad to see conflict breaking out between followers of different religious traditions, it’s even more saddening to witness quarrelling among members of different denominations of the same faith, as we see between Sunni and Shia Muslims in Afghanistan.” He further told the crowd that although religious traditions may have different philosophical views, all religions ask their followers to be kind-hearted.

The Nobel laureate also noted that Zanskar has seen development in the past few years, “Over the years, there has been steady material development throughout India, and I’ve noticed Zanskar has become more prosperous too.” However, he added that lasting happiness could only be found through peace of mind, and concerted efforts to be compassionate to each other.

Source: Phayul

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If Muslims Do Not Control Their Youth, Hindus Will: BJP Leader KS Eshwarappa

Aug 17, 2022

Former minister and senior Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) leader KS Eshwarappa on Tuesday issued a warning stating that since Muslims “live in Hindustan”, it was “their duty to cooperate with Hindu festivals” .

“Ganesh festival is coming and I am not making any appeal to anyone (to maintain peace). You (Muslims) are in Hindustan and if you come between the Hindu festival of Ganesh, then you will all face problems. I am giving a warning. Why should I make an appeal? It is their duty to cooperate,” Eshwarappa said.

He said that the Muslims have “the right to celebrate their festivals at home” and they “have been allowed to take out processions as well.” Meanwhile, leader of the opposition Siddaramaiah slammed Eshwarappa for his remarks, saying he has “no brains” and has made several such irresponsible remarks in the past.

The former minister’s statements come two days after the BJP-led state government came under sharp criticism for leaving out the picture of India’s first prime minister, Jawaharlal Nehru, in the Independence Day advertisement in all leading media newspapers and including freedom fighter Vinayak Damodar Savarkar’s picture.

Eshwarappa had defended the decision, stating that it was a deliberate move as Nehru was the reason for the partition of India.

“They (BJP) put up pictures of Savarkar to which we have no problem. But they put it in a Muslim locality. Why? They also said no to Tipu Sultan’s poster. If you put Savarkar’s picture then allow Tipu Sultan’s picture also,” Siddaramaiah said. The former chief minister added that the BJP creates the mischief and then blames it on the Congress which has no part to play in the entire controversy.

Complementing police for swift action in Shivamogga district , he urged the elders of the Muslim community to guide their youngsters, who have chosen the wrong path.

“Government is making all attempts to maintain peace, I’m not saying all Hindus and Muslims are involved in such things. Hindu society is strong, it is not weak. If Hindu society really stands up, Muslim goondas will not survive, but Hindus don’t want to take law into hands and wants government to take action,” Eshwarappa was reported as saying by PTI.

Speaking to reporters here, he said the police have shown “sample” by taking strong action against miscreants, but still such acts of goondaism and killings are continuing.

“I want to tell elders of Muslim community, I’m not saying all Muslims are goondas. Elders of Muslim community have made efforts for peace in the past, I want to tell them to advise the youngsters who are indulging in goondaism, if not the government will act and they should be ready to face it,” he added.

Noting that he has brought the developments in Shivamogga to the notice of the Chief Minister, he said, the district headquarters town is today peaceful, but such “attempts to kill reflect that the mindset of some ‘Musalman’ goondas and SDPI (Social Democratic Party of India) has not changed”.

“The attempts to attack and kill Hindus are continuously on. I have brought this notice to the CM,” he added.

Further observing that people of Shivamogga are peace-loving and Hindus and Muslims there have been living like brothers for long, Eshwarappa said, “I have been a legislator from there for long, but in recent times people have come from outside or from Kerala, and activities of some anti-national organisations have increased, leading to such incidents.”Pointing out that the husband of a Congress corporator in Shivamogga was involved in an earlier incident where V D Savarkar’s photo was torn and insulted, and he is in jail today, he said, The Congress should apologise and urged its leaders Siddaramaiah and D K Shivakumar to act on their party workers involved in such acts.

“Congress’ support to SDPI has led to such a situation in Shivamogga,” he alleged.

Former minister Eshwarappa is not new to controversial statements as earlier also he has made several such remarks.

He had also led the funeral procession of Bajrang Dal worker Harsha Jingade , ignoring all the warnings from the police department. The procession in turn led to clashes between two communities which led to several people being hurt and several properties being damaged, adding to the tensions in one of Karnataka’s most communally sensitive districts.

In May, Eshwarappa (who was a state minister at that time) had also made a remark about the Tricolour “being replaced by the saffron flag”. The remark drew criticism from the Congress who had started a protest, to exert pressure on chief minister (CM) Basavaraj Bommai-led state government to remove him from the cabinet .“The agitation is happening because of the adamant stand of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). Who is asking for Eshwarappa’s resignation? No one. We want his dismissal. Our appeal is also to governor Thaawarchand Gehlot to dismiss him,” Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee chief D K Shivakumar had said.

Source: Hindustan Time

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I-Day drama by Punjab school kids portraying Muslim man as terrorist sparks row

Manjeet Sehgal


August 17, 2022

An Independence Day drama staged by Punjab school children portraying a Muslim man as a terrorist has sparked a row.

During the Independence Day celebrations held at the Bhulath assembly constituency near Punjab’s Jalandhar, school students staged a play allegedly depicting a Muslim man wearing a religious white cap as a terrorist, which irked people.

The Congress has demanded an apology from the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), saying that the drama had painted the entire Muslim community as terrorists.

Earlier, on Monday, Congress interim president Sonia Gandhi targeted the Central government and said that it was trying to malign leaders Mahatma Gandhi and Jawaharlal Nehru to further its political propaganda.

Source: India Today

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Akhil Bharat Hindu Mahasabha Member Writes in Blood to CM Yogi, Seeks To Offer Janmashtami Prayer At Mathura's Shahi Masjid


An Akhil Bharat Hindu Mahasabha member Tuesday wrote a letter purportedly with his own blood to Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, seeking permission to offer Janmashtami prayers inside the Shahi Masjid Idgah claiming it was the birthplace of Lord Krishna.

ABHM national treasurer Dinesh Sharma said he wants to offer prayer to the deity with local Brijwasis on the occasion of Sri Krishna Janmashtami on August 19.

This comes even as multiple suits related to the Krishna Janmabhoomi-Shahi Idgah dispute are in courts with Hindu petitioners claiming the mosque is built on a plot belonging to the Katra Keshav Dev Temple and it should be removed. The Muslim side has contested this plea.

"So for, Krishna worship is being performed at a place which is not exactly the His birthplace," Sharma has said in his letter, which he also released to the media.

The place where Kanha was born exists under the Shahi Masjid Idgah, he claimed.

Calling Adityanath an "incarnation of Hindu God Hanuman", Sharma said he was confident the chief minister would give him the permission to offer worship inside the mosque.

If the permission is denied, Sharma said, he should be allowed to die as it is "worthless to live a life without offering obeisance to Lord Krishna exactly at his birthplace".

A similar application submitted earlier in a court was rejected on August 3, 2022.

Source: Telegraph India

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Six of Muslim Family Found Dead under Suspicious Circumstances at Home In Jammu


Six members of a family were found dead under suspicious circumstances at their home here on Wednesday, police said.

The deceased were identified as Sakina Begum, her two daughters Naseema Akhter and Rubina Bano, son Zafar Salim and two relatives Noor Ul Habib and Sajad Ahmad, they said.

The bodies were recovered from the family's house in Sidhra locality. They have been shifted to Government Medical College and Hospital here, the police said.

Source: Telegraph India

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Another targeted killing: Kashmiri Pandit man shot dead by terrorists on Shopian village orchard, brother hurt

Aug 16, 2022

SRINAGAR: Terrorists shot dead a Kashmiri Pandit man and wounded his younger brother on Tuesday when they were tending their orchard at Chotigam village in south Kashmir’s Shopian district in another instance of targeted strike against the Valley’s minority community.

Sunil Kumar Nath, 45, died instantly in a hail of bullets while sibling Pintoo Kumar, 35, is in hospital with critical bullet wounds. A search has been launched to catch the killers.

Sources said a masked terrorist, presumably a Pakistani, and a Kashmiri accomplice sneaked up on the Nath brothers when they were pruning an overgrowth of willow trees on the orchard with the help of three local hands. The terrorists told the hired hands to leave before the masked man shot at the brothers.

#Terrorists fired upon civilians in an apple orchard in Chotipora area of #Shopian. One person died and one injured…

— Kashmir Zone Police (@KashmirPolice) 1660631985000

Villagers said the slain brother is survived by his wife and three school-going daughters.

J&K has recorded a string of attacks over the past week amid heightened security for Independence Day. Migrant worker Mohammad Amrej, 19, from Bihar’s Madhepura was killed at his rented house in north Kashmir’s Bandipora district around 1am on Friday, while a special police officer (SPO) was wounded in a separate attack in Anantnag later in the afternoon. Amrej was the fourth migrant worker killed in a targeted attack in Kashmir this year.

On August 15, terrorists struck twice with grenades—one at the high-security police control room in Srinagar and another at Chadoora in Budgam district. Besides, J&K police constable Sarfaraz Ahmad died in hospital from wounds suffered during an attack on a police patrol Sunday in Nowhatta of downtown Srinagar.

A total of 15 civilians and six security forces personnel have been killed in targeted attacks this year.

Lieutenant governor Manoj Sinha condoled the death in Chotigam, a predominantly Kashmiri Pandit village of around 30 people who chose to stay behind when tens of thousands from the community fled the Valley during the peak of militancy in the 1990s. They own large orchards of apples and other fruits, while some are in the pharmaceutical business.

“Pained beyond words… My thoughts are with the family of Sunil Kumar. Praying for speedy recovery of injured,” Sinha tweeted. The assailants won’t be spared, he said.

Authorities have provided security to the Kashmiri Pandit families of Chotigam as they have been picked out by terrorists before. This April, 39-year-old Sonu Bhat aka Bal Krishan, a popular chemist at Chotigam who helped people even at midnight, suffered four bullet wounds in a terrorist strike.

Records show 14 Kashmiri Pandits and others from the minority community were killed in J&K in targeted terrorist attacks since August 2019. But the attacks have been more frequent since last autumn when Srinagar chemist Makhan Lal Bindroo was gunned down on October 5, a street vendor from Bihar was killed hours later, and two teachers—a Hindu and a Sikh—were shot inside a school on the outskirts of Srinagar on October 7.

The attacks continued, setting off panic and protests. The murder of schoolteacher Rajni Bala and revenue clerk Rahul Bhat this May led to widespread unease, particularly among the region’s religious minorities.

The state units of BJP, Congress, Apni Party and Shiv Sena (Thackeray), National Conference as well as Panun Kashmir, an organisation of Kashmiri Pandits, condemned Tuesday’s Chotigam murder. Congress, Sena and Panun Kashmir blamed the Centre for repeated attacks on Kashmiri Pandits, while Apni Party said the killings are aimed at promoting hate.

Source: Times Of India

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Muslim neighbours rush to slain Kashmiri Pandit’s aid

Aug 17, 2022

SHOPIAN: Kashmiri Muslim neighbours ran to the orchard of the Nath brothers when they heard gunshots from that direction. They were the first to witness the bloodied body of Kashmiri Pandit man Sunil Kumar Nath and his wounded brother Pintoo, who were shot multiple times by a masked Pakistani terrorist in Chotigam village of south Kashmir’s Shopian district on Tuesday.

Later, hundreds of people from the majority community in the nearby areas gathered at the funeral of Nath — a 45-year-old father of three daughters and member of a handful of families who stayed behind in Chotigam during the exodus of Kashmiri Pandits in the height of militancy in the 1990s.

Nath’s Muslim neighbours made all the arrangements for his last rites and also took Pintoo to the hospital. Women rushed in droves to Nath’s home to console the bereaved.

At the funeral, the villagers shouted unity slogans and called for an end to the bloodshed.

“We have always lived here peacefully and shared our grief and celebrations for decades,” said a Kashmiri Pandit in Chotigam. But back-to-back attacks in four months have brought fear and a grim reminder of the terror-filled 90s, he said.

“Guards were deployed here again in April, but how can they provide us security when we go to the market or students go to school? We can’t stay confined to our houses. We have to go to our farms, orchards or for other work and earn a livelihood. We will die of starvation,” he said.

Source: Times Of India

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At Slain Kashmiri Pandit’s Village People Mourn Amid Chants Of ‘Hindu Muslim Sikh’ Unity

16 AUG 2022

Qatal-e-Gaarth na manzoor (killing of innocent and destruction are unacceptable) and chants of unity reverberated in the air as villagers of Chotigam took out a procession to condemn the killing of Sunil Kumar Butt, a Kashmir Pandit, by terrorists on Tuesday morning.

The village saw the second terror attack in four months.

The residents took out the procession from the house of the victim to the cremation ground where the body Sunil Kumar was consigned to flames amid slogans of "Hindu Muslim Sikh Itehad (unity of Hindus, Muslims and Sikhs)".

Those who took part in the procession raised slogans against the killing of Kumar and said it was against the principle of Islam.

Several people from the area joined the procession from Butt's residence where Muslim neighbours were seen consoling the family.

Source: Outlook India

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NSA Ajit Doval in Russia to review ties; Afghanistan, terror too figure on agenda

Aug 17, 2022

NEW DELHI: As India continues to enhance engagement with Russia on regional and global issues, NSA Ajit Doval paid an unannounced visit to Moscow Tuesday to review progress and recent developments in bilateral ties.

Afghanistan, counter-terrorism, defence and food and energy security in the aftermath of the Ukraine conflict are among the regional and global issues Doval is likely to address in his meetings with Russian authorities, including his counterpart Nikolai Patrushev, during his 2-day visit to Moscow.

While there was no official confirmation of the visit, ToI learnt from sources the visit is in the framework of regular dialogue between the countries on "strategic bilateral, regional and global issues". Despite the pressure from the West to not increase its crude import from Russia, India's imports of both oil and fertilizers have gone up sharply in the past few months.

According to a Bloomberg report last week, Russia surpassed Saudi Arabia in June to become the second-biggest supplier of crude to India. The foreign ministry reiterated last week that India's oil purchases will be guided by its energy security requirements.

The NSA will focus on counter-terrorism cooperation in his meetings, especially in the context of Afghanistan. Doval is also likely to participate in a meeting of the top security officials of SCO member-states in Uzbekistan on Thursday and Friday this week where again the situation in Afghanistan is likely to dominate the agenda. Despite working with the government in Kabul on humanitarian issues, and reopening its embassy in Kabul, India remains concerned about the Taliban's links with Pakistan based terror groups. Official sources here have cited a recent UNSC report to say that these groups continue to operate terror camps in Taliban rules Afghanistan.

Source: Times Of India

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Arab World


Turkish troops, Kurdish fighters exchange heavy shelling in Syria’s Kobane

16 August, 2022

Turkish troops and US-backed Kurdish fighters exchanged heavy shellfire on Tuesday in the northern Syrian border town of Kobane, leaving one civilian dead as the conflict between the warring parties escalated.

The artillery fire hit within the town and around its edges, starting overnight and intensifying throughout the day, according to residents and the semi-autonomous local administration governing the town.

The administration said in an online statement that at least one child died due to the shelling and others were wounded.

Ankara sees the semi-autonomous system - spearheaded by Kurdish factions and governing swathes of northern and eastern Syria - as a national security threat on its border.

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan has pledged a new incursion to create a 30-kilometer safe zone in northern Syria, swallowing up Kobane and other towns held by the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces.

Kobane has been relatively calm since US-backed Kurdish fighters pushed back ISIS fighters from the town in 2015.

But shelling and drone attacks have been ramping up in many border towns. At least three Kurdish commanders were killed last month which the SDF blamed on Ankara.

Dilvin, a shopkeeper and married mother of one, said scenes of chaos broke out in Kobane when the shelling intensified on Tuesday.

“People started running everywhere, cars everywhere, people asking about their friends and their family. Then the sounds started to build, the sounds were everywhere,” she told Reuters by phone from Kobane.

Source: Al Arabiya

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Egypt’s deadly church fire sparks global outpouring of sorrow and sympathy

August 16, 2022

CAIRO: On Sunday, thick smoke and the sound of screams engulfed the Imbaba neighborhood of Cairo as fire broke out at the Abu Sifin church in the low income district west of the Nile River.

Many of the 5,000 worshippers who had gathered for a peaceful mass at the Coptic church were forced to throw themselves from windows on to the street below.

By the time emergency services were able to respond and extinguish the blaze, 41 people, including 15 children, had died and 14 were left injured.

Later that day, hundreds gathered to pay their respects in and around two churches in the Giza governorate of greater Cairo, where clergymen prayed for the victims.

Pallbearers pushed through crowds of weeping mourners who reached out to touch the coffins, including that of a priest at the church, Father Abdel-Messih Bekhit.

In an earlier statement, the Coptic Orthodox Church said that the fire broke out during the divine liturgy at the building in the north of Giza, and that several worshippers were transferred to the Imbaba and Agouza hospitals.

The following morning, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi said that he had “mobilized all state services” in response and, later, that he had “presented his condolences by phone” to Pope Tawadros II, head of the Coptic Orthodox Church.

The Egyptian leader also directed the Armed Forces Engineering Authority to “take over the reconstruction and renovation” of the church, the presidency said in a statement.

Witnesses to the fire described people rushing into the multi-story church to save those trapped, but the rescuers were soon overwhelmed by heat and deadly smoke.

“Everyone was carrying kids out of the building,” said Ahmed Reda Baioumy, who lives next to the church. “But the fire was getting bigger and you could only go in once or you would asphyxiate.”

Another witness, Sayed Tawfik, told AFP news agency that “some threw themselves out of windows to escape the fire.” He pointed to a car bearing dents “left by a person who is now lying in the hospital with a broken arm and back.”

A statement from the public prosecutor’s office suggested that the deaths were caused by asphyxiation, as there were “no visible injuries.”

The Egyptian interior ministry said that “forensic evidence revealed that the blaze broke out in an air-conditioning unit on the second floor of the church building,” which also houses social services.

Father Farid Fahmy, from a nearby church, said a short circuit caused the fire.

“The power was out and they were using a generator,” he said. “When the power came back, it caused an overload.”

Accidental fires are not uncommon in the sprawling city of Cairo, where millions live in informal settlements. Last year, at least 20 people died in a blaze in a clothing factory on the outskirts of the capital.

Following the Abu Sifin church fire, Giza’s governor ordered “urgent aid of 50,000 pounds (around $2,600) for the families of the deceased and 10,000 pounds for the injured.”

Prosecutor-General Hamada El-Sawy said that the public prosecution authority had completed its investigation into the fire and found that the victims died of smoke inhalation.

The interior ministry confirmed that the blaze was caused by an electrical fault in the air-conditioning system on the second floor of the church building, which includes a number of classrooms.

Mostafa Madbouly, Egypt’s prime minister, directed the minister of social solidarity to pay compensation of EGP100,000 to victims’ families and a maximum of EGP20,000 to those injured.

Copts are the largest Christian community in the Middle East, making up around 10 percent of Egypt’s 107 million Muslim-majority population. They justifiably claim to be the original Egyptians, with their liturgical language descended directly from the language of the pharaohs. Many Copts can trace their heritage back to ancient Egypt.

For many, the fire brought back painful memories of deadly attacks by Islamist extremists, including a bombing at Cairo’s largest Coptic cathedral that killed 25 people in 2016 and a gunman who killed nine worshippers at another church the following year.

Copts have lived through times of both harmony and adversity throughout much of Egypt’s long history. In the 20th century, many were pushed out of political life. Others have deplored restrictive legislation for the construction and renovation of churches.

El-Sisi, who was elected in 2014, became the first Egyptian president to attend the Coptic Christmas mass every year. In February, he appointed the first-ever Coptic judge to head the Supreme Constitutional Court, the country’s highest legal body.

Muslim religious officials in Egypt expressed their condolences to the grieving Coptic community.

Al-Azhar’s Grand Imam Ahmed Al-Tayeb pledged to aid the families of the victims and is coordinating cash payouts with various NGOs. He also sent a message of support to Pope Tawadros II.

“Al-Azhar and its scholars and sheikhs all stand by their brothers in this tragic accident and extend their sincere condolences to the families of the victims,” he said, and affirmed “the readiness of Al-Azhar hospitals to receive the injured.”

The tragedy resulted in an outpouring of support from across Egypt and the world. In a statement, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres offered his “deepest condolences” to families of the victims.

King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman of Saudi Arabia offered their condolences to El-Sisi and the victims’ families. They expressed “profound sorrow and sincere sympathy,” and wished the injured a “quick recovery.”

The UAE’s leaders offered prayers for the victims’ families and El-Sisi. President Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan and Prime Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al-Maktoum wished the people who were injured in the blaze a steady recovery.

Prince Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa, Bahrain’s crown prince and prime minister, offered his condolences to El-Sisi and Madbouly.Jordan’s Prime Minister Bisher Khasawneh offered his “condolences and sympathy” to the Egyptian government, people and victims’ families.

Tunisian President Kais Saied offered his condolences to his Egyptian counterpart, and wished the injured a speedy recovery in a phone call following the incident.

Hissein Brahim Taha, secretary-general of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, expressed his sympathy.

Source: Arab News

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25 dead in airstrikes, shelling in north Syria

August 16, 2022

JEDDAH: At least 25 people were killed in northern Syria on Tuesday after Turkey launched airstrikes and an artillery bombardment targeting Assad regime forces and Kurdish fighters near the border town of Kobane.

The Turkish shelling began overnight, when artillery salvoes hit the town and around its edges. It continued throughout the day, and at least one child was killed.

Kurdish YPG militia fighters from the Syrian Democratic Forces responded with a mortar attack on a Turkish military border post in Sanliurfa province that killed one soldier and injured four.

After the mortar attack, Turkish forces conducted retaliatory fire against targets in the Kobane area. “According to initial information in the region, 13 terrorists were neutralized. Operations in the region are continuing,” the Defense Ministry in Ankara said.

Dilvin, a shopkeeper in Kobane, said chaos broke out in the town when the shelling intensified on Tuesday. “People started running everywhere, cars everywhere, people asking about their friends and their family. Then the sounds started to build, the sounds were everywhere,” she said.

“There was so much screaming. So much fear. Now everyone is locked up at home.”

Later on Tuesday, 11 people died in Turkish airstrikes on a Syria border post run by Assad regime forces. It was not clear if the dead were Syrian government troops or Kurdish fighters.

Syrian regime forces have deployed in areas controlled by the SDF near the border with Turkey as part of agreements intended to stem cross-border offensives by Ankara targeting Kurdish forces it views as terrorists.

Turkey has launched a series of attacks since 2016 targeting Kurdish forces and Daesh, but they have rarely resulted in the deaths of Syrian regime fighters.

If regime forces are confirmed to be among those killed on Tuesday, the attack would be one of the largest escalations since Ankara and Damascus traded attacks in 2020 following a Syrian regime strike that killed 33 Turkish soldiers in the northwestern province of Idlib.

Turkey has stepped up its attacks in Kurdish-controlled areas of Syria since July, when President Recep Tayyip Erdogan failed to obtain a green light from regional allies Iran and Russia for a fresh offensive into northern Syria.

Source: Arab News

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Twins, triplets among child victims of Egypt church fire that killed 41

16 August, 2022

Mourners in Egypt attended a memorial service Tuesday for victims of a Coptic church fire in Cairo that killed 41 people -- among them many children, including twins and triplets.

The electrical fire on Sunday ripped through the Abu Sifin church in Imbaba, a working class district west of the Nile River, part of Giza governorate in greater Cairo.

At least 10 of those killed during Sunday mass, when families flock to the church and its daycare services, were minors aged under 16, according to a list from just one hospital circulated by local media.

Coptic Bishop Martyros led a “third day” service Tuesday in central Cairo’s Church of the Blessed Virgin Mary to commemorate the resurrection of Christ and honor the souls of the dead.

“The entire country is ailing,” the bishop told the bereaved, two days after the blaze rocked Egypt’s 10-million-strong Coptic community, the Middle East’s largest Christian population.

Among those killed were six members of the same family, one mourner, Sandy George, told AFP.

“My aunt Magda and her daughters, Merna and Irina, and Irina’s three kids” died of asphyxiation, George said.

Irina’s children who were killed were the five-year-old twins Barthinia and Mariam and their brother Ibram, aged four.

Also killed were five-year-old triplets Mehrael, Youssef and Filopateer Bassem Amir, according to the hospital list.

Source: Al Arabiya

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Three Syrian soldiers killed, 6 wounded in Turkish air strike on military posts

16 August, 2022

Three Syrian soldiers were killed and six wounded in a Turkish air strike on military posts in the Aleppo countryside on Tuesday, state media quoted a military source as saying.

Turkish warplanes targeted the posts from 14:37 p.m. to 15:00 p.m. (11:37-12:00 GMT); the Syrian state TV and news agency reported.

Syrian armed forces responded to the strike and caused material and human losses in some Turkish military sites, the report said without giving any further details.

There was no immediate comment form the Turkish side.

Turkey has carried out several military operations in northern Syria since 2016, seizing hundreds of kilometres of land and pushing some 30 km deep into the country, mainly targeting the Kurdish YPG militia, which it deems a terrorist organisation.

Source: Al Arabiya

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Iraq’s Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr backtracks on call for massive rally

16 August, 2022

Iraq’s Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr backtracked Tuesday after earlier urging his supporters to join a massive rally as a standoff with his political rivals appeared to be getting worse.

The cleric’s announcement came amid behind the scenes talks aimed at steering Iraq out of crisis, with the country’s two branches of Shia Islam jockeying for supremacy.

More than 10 months on from elections, Iraq still has no government, new prime minister or new president, because of disagreement between factions over forming a coalition.

Al-Sadr wants parliament dissolved to pave the way for new legislative elections, but his rivals the pro-Iran Coordination Framework want to set conditions and are demanding a transitional government before new polls.

The cleric’s bloc emerged from last October’s elections as parliament’s biggest, but still far short of a majority.

Al-Sadr, whose supporters have been staging a sit-in protest outside parliament in Baghdad’s high security Green Zone for more than two weeks, had called for a “million-man demonstration” in the capital on Saturday.

But on Tuesday he announced on Twitter “the indefinite postponement of Saturday’s protest.”

“If you had been betting on a civil war, I am betting on preserving social peace. The blood of Iraqis is more precious than anything else,” Sadr said.

Late on Monday, a committee organizing demonstrations in support of the Coordination Framework also announced new gatherings, but without setting a date.

The Coordination Framework launched their own Baghdad sit-in on Friday, camping out on an avenue in the capital.

The Coordination Framework comprises former paramilitaries of the Tehran-backed Hashed al-Shaabi network and the party of former premier Nuri al-Maliki, a longtime al-Sadr foe.

So far the rival Shia protests have been peaceful, with attempts at mediation ongoing.

Hadi al-Ameri, leader of a Hashed faction, has also called for calm and for dialogue. He has had a series of meetings with political leaders including allies of al-Sadr.

Also on Tuesday, Finance Minister Ali Allawi who is in the current government submitted his resignation to the Council of Ministers, the INA state news agency reported.

Iraq has been ravaged by decades of conflict and endemic corruption.

It is blighted by ailing infrastructure, power cuts and crumbling public services, and now also faces water shortages as drought ravages swathes of the country.

Source: Al Arabiya

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Egypt judge sentenced to death for wife’s murder

16 August, 2022

An Egyptian court on Tuesday sentenced a judge to death for murdering his wife, the judiciary said, in the third high-profile femicide case in the country in two months.

The criminal court decided “to refer the judge who killed TV presenter Shaimaa Gamal, and his accomplice, to the Grand Mufti of Egypt.”

The public prosecutor’s office said last month that the judicial official concerned, Ayman Haggag, had been charged over the “premeditated murder” of his wife, along with the accomplice, businessman Hussein al-Gharabli.

Gamal’s body had been found in a remote villa in June, nearly three weeks after her husband had reported her missing, following a tipoff from Gharabli, who had confessed to his role in the crime.

The next court hearing, when the approval of the Grand Mufti is expected to be announced, is set for September 11.

The murder of Gamal is the third to have sparked outrage in the country in the past few months.

On June 19, college student Nayera Ashraf was stabbed to death in Mansoura, north of Cairo, by a man whose advances she had rejected. A video of the attack was widely shared on social media.

In a highly publicized trial, Mohamed Adel was found guilty after confessing to the crime in court and was sentenced to death.

The criminal court has called for his execution to be broadcast live on television as a deterrent to others.

Earlier this month, a student identified only by her first name Salma was murdered in similar circumstances in Zagazig, north of Cairo.

A man whose advances she had rejected “repeatedly stabbed her with a knife,” the prosecution said.

Patriarchal legislation and conservative interpretations of Islam in Egypt have contributed to severely limiting women’s rights and creating a culture of violence against women.

“Salma was murdered simply for being born a woman in a misogynist society,” one social media user said, as some argued Salma was at fault for befriending her assailant.

“So long as there are sympathizers out there who make excuses for the perpetrators of these crimes, they will continue,” said another.

Nearly eight million Egyptian women were victims of violence committed by their partners or relatives, or by strangers in public spaces, according to a United Nations survey conducted in 2015.

Source: Al Arabiya

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South Asia


Afghan resistance group claims arrest of Taliban forces in Panjshir

August 16, 2022

An Afghan armed resistance group claimed to have arrested dozens of Taliban forces, as the Islamists celebrated their first year in power and others called it a "dark day".

Five "Taliban occupiers" were killed and 40 captured in the Arezoo valley of Panjshir province, said the spokesman of the National Resistance Front (NRF), Sibghatullah Ahmadi, as he released pictures of alleged captives.

NRF is led by Ahmad Massoud, the son of famous anti-Soviet guerilla commander Ahmad Shah Massoud, and claims to be fighting for democratic values such as a equitable political representation of ethnic groups, protection of women's rights and fair elections.

The Taliban's government is yet to comment on the claim.

However, Defence Minister Mullah Yaqoob Mujahid said on Monday that their forces will suppress rebel groups under all circumstances.

To mark the first anniversary of the fall of Kabul, Taliban members paraded in the city with US military equipment and their leaders spoke at a televised gathering.

At the event, the Taliban's Foreign Minister Amir Khan Muttaqi called on the world to cooperate with their government.

On social media, many Afghans spoke of their ordeal and called it a "dark day" for the nation.

Source: Business Standard

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Islamic Emirate Denies Detention of Its Forces in Panjshir

August 17, 2022

Local officials in Panjshir province denied the reports that Islamic Emirate forces have been detained by the Resistance Front in the province. 

The provincial governor’s spokesman, Abubakar Sediqqi, confirmed that a number of rockets hit some areas of Dara district but denied casualties to Islamic Emirate forces and the fall of a village to the Resistant Front. 

“This is an absolutely inaccurate allegation. The forces of the Islamic Emirate are settled in all districts of Panjshir. Last night a number of rockets were fired by the opposition forces which didn’t cause any casualties,” he said.  

Earlier, the Resistance Front published some videos and claimed that dozens of the Islamic Emirate were killed and dozens of others were arrested by its forces.

The videos were published by Sebghat Ahmadi, a spokesman for the Resistant Front.  

“Even if the number of the government’s armed opposition is less and they have a limited geographic area, there should be negotiations with them,’ said Barna Salehi, a political analyst. 

“The only solution for Afghanistan is that all conflictive parties should sit together and make a decision on Afghanistan’s fate,” said Barna Salehi, a political analyst.

Source: Tolo News

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Taliban 2.0 – The trajectory of events after one year in power

By Naser Koshan

16 Aug 2022

The reemergence of Taliban as the de facto rulers of Afghanistan on August 15/21 took the entire world by surprise. A year later, the repressive group is spreading rhetoric that of exclusion, fear and most importantly turning Afghanistan yet again into a safe sanctuary for foreign-born terrorists. In hindsight, the group is not willing to show any sign of indulging to civil political engagements with the resident political opposition, on the contrary, increasing implementing policies of regression and repulsive nature.

Taliban fighters hold weapons as they ride in a convoy to celebrate their victory day near the US embassy in Kabul on August 15, 2022. – Taliban fighters chanted victory slogans next to the US embassy in Kabul on August 15 as they marked the first anniversary of their return to power in Afghanistan following a turbulent year that saw women’s rights crushed and a humanitarian crisis worsen. (Photo by Wakil KOHSAR / AFP) (Photo by WAKIL KOHSAR/AFP via Getty Images)

The singlehanded military takeover by the Taliban was a clear violation of the Doha agreement that vividly insisted in a power sharing setup with the former Afghan government in return for a full withdrawal of U.S. forces from the country. Regretfully, the rapidly changing status quo pertaining to the fall of capital in August seriously harmed the validity of this agreement, and halted its implementation. A year on, Taliban are yet to address the main elephant in the room, that is of girls schooling, cutting ties with infamous terrorist organizations; as well as abiding by globally adhered human rights practices

The latter episode of Taliban autocracy in Afghanistan was marred with protection for foreign terrorists, depriving women of basic human rights and an absolute isolation from the rest of the world. Transnational Jihadists and religious extremists were granted an open pass to practice radical ideology and threaten the world security under the de facto regime. As we speak the modus operandi of the Taliban’s structural ideology has not changed its essence, and it is still fundamentally based on a distorted political agenda with no endorsement from the Muslim world or sacred Islamic scriptures. The Taliban 2.0 seems ignorantly clueless in handling an Afghanistan with a pluralistic society and diverse political fronts. Today’s Afghanistan is astoundingly different when the group ruled in late 1990s; the transformation in spite of crucial opportunities missed and valuable resources wasted is rather immense and tangible to write off.

Pakistan is the only country that has achieved a long sought strategic victory in Afghanistan. Right from the very beginning a permanent stability in Afghanistan and a non friendly regime in Kabul was the gravest concern to the policy makers in Pakistan, therefore, the reincarnation of the Taliban movement in 2003 and the facilitation of the breeding ground for its next generation fighters in Pakistani Madrasas were eagerly put in Taliban’s disposal. Taliban in return delivered hastily on promises, that of dismantling the Afghan army, diminishing Indian presence and most importantly rolling back the Afghan socio/economic progress for decades to come to Pakistani handlers.

With great distaste, Pakistan is intentionally pushing Afghanistan towards a devastating civil war and a proxy buffer for foreign-born terrorists to congregate and destabilize the region, using Taliban as a conduit for that matter. On the national level Taliban lack the know how in governance and the needed expertise for meaningful international engagements. Besides, the apparent link ups with neighboring intelligence agencies are driving the group to adopt policies in total odd to the public’s aspirations, and wittingly creating obstacles for further isolations and diminishing chances of international recognition at least with the current status quo in effect.

The United States is not impressed by the turn of events in Afghanistan. The intelligence community and the White House are alarmingly concerned about credible futuristic threats emanating from Afghanistan if not in the magnitude of 9/11. The FBI director and senior intelligence officials recently shared their respective concerns to the senate intelligence committee, calling for increased reconnaissance missions, and drone surveillance, to keep a close watch on Taliban activities.

Based on the Doha agreement in 2020, Taliban were not supposed to harbor international fugitives and maintain ties with Al Qaeda and other radical extremists. Nevertheless, the killing of Ayman Al Zawahiri, the U.S. top wanted terrorist, under the naked eye of the regime in Kabul is growing suspicions on that commitment and proves the proximity of sympathetic relations between the Taliban, Al Qaeda and many other terrorist organizations including the TTP. Taliban is unwittingly dragged into a catastrophic game of throne between the regional powers and international rivals. China and Pakistan for instance, aiming to use Taliban against archrival India to boost Islamic Jihad morality in India’s Jammu and Kashmir while gaining exclusivity on exploiting the vast cache of underground natural resources of Afghanistan, estimated at USD 3 trillion dollars.

Meanwhile, the regime’s exclusivity policy to appoint its fighters to key government positions sans having the merit required for that particular undertaking, and simultaneously indulging in explicit discrimination towards the former government employees, is causing an exodus of brain drain and dysfunctional public services.  Unfortunately, the initial rhetoric of inclusivity under the Islamic Emirate is rapidly fading away, and this in turn will capitalize into formidable public displeasure and emerging armed resistance against the regime across the country in the foreseeable future.

Taliban should realize that governing through barrels of gun and policy of intimidation has an expiry; rethink and immediately seize its irrational behavior with the Afghan public for the sake of its own regime survival. They should come up with tangible long term economic policy, feasible attitude towards a political coherency to stay relevant and maintain the status quo, regretfully Taliban so far are preoccupied with this false fallacy of wishful thinking and not taking any concrete step to put in use the indigenous expertise in achieving these goals, they rather alienate and suppress this potential capital with repressive decrees and restrictive policies.

The regime should let go its suppression of women’s rights undertakings that it is negating its scarce resources to reach out to an array of critical problems with greater importance and heavier weights to gain acceptance to the world community. The initiation of meaningful dialogue with opponents, the adherence of an open-minded policy towards inclusivity, finally yet importantly the restoration of a constitution and governing laws, in compliance with national and international standards are a few examples to mention. Taliban are in total denial of accepting the fact that unless the lifeline from the United Nations did not exist, reaching out to an overwhelming number of vulnerable citizens to paying the salaries of government employees particularly the education sector would be a catastrophe and impossible, There is no contingency plan if the assistance seizes to continue and the prevailing status quo forces the already limited number of UN NGOs active in the country to evacuate, and leave the country permanently.

Source: Khaama Press

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Taliban ‘Disgruntled’ Commander Killed in Western Afghanistan

By Saqalain Eqbal

17 Aug 2022

Mawlawi Mahdi Mujahid, the Taliban “disgruntled” commander, was killed by Taliban border forces when he wanted to enter Iran through the province of Herat in western Afghanistan, according to a statement from the Taliban’s Ministry of Defense released on Wednesday.

Mawlawi Mahdi Mujahid is referred to as a “rebel” in this statement. Mujahid had clashed with the Taliban multiple times after starting a dispute with the group in the Balkhab district of  Sar-e-pol in northern Afghanistan.

The statement makes no mention of the date on which Mahdi Mujahid was killed.

Mawlawi Mahdi Mujahid embraced the Taliban 13 years ago, while foreign forces were stationed in Afghanistan; he played a key part in the collapse of the republican system in Afghanistan’s northern provinces.

However, more than ten months after the Taliban assumed power, he began to criticize the Taliban group.

According to reports, Mahdi Mujahid sought more Hazara participation in the Taliban government, but the Taliban leaders disregarded not just his demand, but also the views of the international community and internal political circles, in order to establish an inclusive government.

Source: Khaama Press

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Southeast Asia


Indonesia at ‘peak of global leadership,’ president says ahead of G20 Summit


August 16, 2022

JAKARTA: Indonesia is standing at the “peak” of global leadership, President Joko Widodo said in his annual state address on Tuesday, as he hailed the country’s growing stature amid efforts to bridge peace between Russia and Ukraine, and the nation heading several world multilateral bodies.

Widodo traveled to Kyiv and Moscow in late June to meet his Ukrainian and Russian counterparts, Volodymyr Zelensky and Vladimir Putin, in a diplomatic effort to help ease the ongoing war’s impact on the international community.

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, one of the world’s breadbaskets, has delivered shockwaves to global supply chains and also stoked an energy crisis following international sanctions slapped on Moscow — a major oil and gas producer — which has also led to rising inflation in many countries.

Widodo was the first Asian leader to meet both Zelensky and Putin since the beginning of the invasion in late February.

“Indonesia was accepted by Russia and Ukraine as a bridge of peace. Accepted by big countries, even when the geopolitical (situation) is heated,” Widodo said in parliament, a day ahead of the country’s celebrations of 77 years of independence.

The visit came as the Southeast Asian nation — which has refused to impose sanctions on Moscow — is chairing the Group of 20 biggest economies this year and will host the grouping’s summit in November. Widodo is one of six world leaders selected as “champions” of the UN’s Global Crisis Response Group. Next year, Indonesia will hold the rotating chairmanship of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.

“In 2022, we hold the presidency of the G20, an international forum made up of the world’s largest economies. Next year, we will assume the chairmanship of ASEAN,” Widodo said. “This indicates that we are at the peak of global leadership.”

The president added that the international community’s trust in Indonesia has “increased sharply,” which in turn gave the country a big opportunity to build global partnerships.

With its population of 280 million, Indonesia is one of the world’s biggest economies, posting consistent annual growth of around 6 percent.

Its global leadership claim is, however, seen as intended mainly for Indonesians themselves.

“The claim is for (a) domestic audience,” Muhammad Waffaa Kharisma, researcher at the Jakarta-based Center for Strategic and International Studies, told Arab News.

He added that although Indonesia “has always seen itself as a big nation, capable of punching above its weight and (to) be amongst the bigger nations,” and that its role at the G20 and in ASEAN next year are “very valuable,” the country still “has to make a difference to bring value and to earn the tag of being a world leader.”

“Whether the trip (to Kyiv and Moscow) makes a difference is a bit debatable in the global context,” Kharisma said.

For Teuku Rezasyah, an international relations expert from Padjajaran University in West Java, the global leadership claim does not immediately “mean the ability to do so.”

Source: Arab News

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Abdurresid Ibrahim to be remembered for spreading Islam in Japan

Ahmet Furkan Mercan  



The 78th anniversary of the passing of Abdurresid Ibrahim, a Tatar-Turkish traveler known for his efforts to introduce Islam to Japanese society, will be commemorated on Wednesday.

Ibrahim first arrived in Japan in 1900 after traveling around Asia and publishing a two-volume treatise titled "The World of Islam." He observed the socioeconomic situation of the surrounding community and preached Islam to them, as well as established an association for the purpose.

Even after 78 years of his demise, he remains the unifying force of Muslim communities in Japan.

Meeting Ottoman intellectuals

Ibrahim was born in Omsk, Russia's Siberian region, to a Tatar-Turkish family in 1857, and began studying in a madrasa at the age of seven.

He came to Istanbul to pursue his education and returned in 1884 after studying Islamic sciences for more than four years in Medina.

After meeting intellectuals such as Ahmed Vefik Pasha and Muallim Naci, he wrote articles for the Umran newspaper titled "The Future of Russia's Muslims."

World of Islam

Ibrahim, who traveled to Europe in 1896 and explained the problems of Muslims in Russia, left Istanbul in 1897 and visited Palestine, Hejaz and Egypt.

He then journeyed via Italy, Austria, France, Bulgaria, Yugoslavia, and Western Russia before reaching Japan through the Caucasus and Siberia.

The Japanese victory in the Russian-Japanese War of 1904-1905 had also implications for Muslim societies under Russian rule.

In Tokyo, where he lived, Ibrahim preached Islam to several Japanese statesmen by establishing relationships with the imperial family.

He founded the "Ajia Gikai" association to promote Islam in Japan and attempted to construct a mosque in Tokyo.

After the deposition of Ottoman Sultan Abdulhamid II, he postponed his desire of building a mosque and traveled to Korea in 1909.

Tokyo Mosque symbolizes togetherness

He returned to Istanbul in 1910 and informed the Ottoman people about Japan.

Ibrahim, who had lived in Konya province during Türkiye's early years, began to travel again after his solitary life there.

When the traveler returned to Japan in 1933, he began building a mosque in 1934, which is today known as the Tokyo Mosque in the capital.

With the affluent Japanese covering construction expenditures of the mosque, which was completed in 1938, he was designated the mosque's first imam or prayer leader.

The Tokyo Mosque, spiritual legacy of Ibrahim who died 78 years ago on Aug. 17, 1944, promotes the harmony and unity of Japan's Islamic societies.

Source: Anadolu Agency

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The 10 most mesmerising mosques in Malaysia


17 Aug 2022

A mosque is a place of worship. But many mosques are also considered architectural wonders, and are culturally significant, too, especially to the area or community surrounding it.

In fact, recent years have also seen an increase in the number of visitors – both Muslims and non-Muslims – at some of the iconic mosques in Malaysia.

Datuk Dr Mohmed Razip Hasan, the director-general of Islamic Tourism Centre (ITC) here believes that the attraction of mosques in Malaysia goes beyond the beautiful architecture as they are also great places for tourists to explore and learn about the culture of the local Muslim community.

“Malaysian mosques have interesting stories to tell based on the history and society in Malaysia, which also influence the architecture of the mosque. They reflect the lifestyles of the Muslim community of a destination, so it is one of the best ways for tourists to learn about the locals and how they live,” he says in an interview.

To create awareness on “Mosque Tourism” in Malaysia, some preparations needed to be made to ensure that the facilities are accessible to visitors from all faiths, nationalities and backgrounds. Hence, ITC began working closely with stakeholders such as the Department of Islamic Development Malaysia (JAKIM), and the Department of Religious Affairs in each state.

One of the key engagements was the National Imam Roundtable Conference in 2016 which helped in making mosques more accessible to the public. Among the resolutions passed at the conference were to allow and facilitate visits to mosques by non-Muslims under proper guidance, and to ensure the comfort and safety of all mosque visitors.

This was followed by two more roundtable conferences in Terengganu and Penang, in 2017 and 2019, respectively, to further enhance the initiatives.

On top of that, ITC also conducted a study entitled “Profiling of Mosques with Tourism-Related Attractions within the Tourism Corridors in Malaysia”, which helped the organisation identify mosques across the country that have the potential to be included in the Mosque Tourism programme.

“We are currently finalising the Mosque Visit Guide Programme (MosVi) module to provide training and other necessary skills to volunteer mosque tour guides. ITC provides training to equip existing in-house tour guides or coordinators with a formal understanding of Mosque Tourism in Malaysia,” he adds.

Currently, there are 6,850 mosques in Malaysia registered with JAKIM. As many as 80 of them are placed under the tourism belt, because of their heritage and historical values. They make ideal additions to any travel itinerary, especially for those interested in art, architecture, culture, and heritage.

Here are 10 of Malaysia’s most unique and interesting mosques.

Starting off the list is the iconic Federal Territory Mosque, which sits in the heartland of the Segambut district in Kuala Lumpur. The mosque drew architectural inspiration from the 16th-century Ottoman Empire – particularly the Blue Mosque of Istanbul – boasting 22 domes of varying sizes gorgeously glazed with turquoise tiles.

Once inside, visitors will find the main prayer hall adorned a pastel-themed finishings, including floral motifs, stained glass lattice windows, and a grand sandstone-coloured dome.

Explore the mosque further and one may even notice extensive displays of intricate woodwork within the space, skilfully crafted by local artisans from the east coast.

The Federal Territory Mosque is open to all for visits, but for the best experience, visitors are advised to book a free and personalised walk-through with an experienced volunteer guide.

The Sultan Salahuddin Abdul Aziz Shah Mosque, or the Blue Mosque, stands proudly in the Selangor state capital of Shah Alam. This is by far the largest mosque in the country by capacity. Upon arrival, its magnificent blue-and-silver dome, along with the four imposing minarets that rise to a whopping height of 142.2m at all corners, will immediately catch one’s attention.

But despite its remarkable size, the interior decorations here are not meant to distract anyone, and kept simple by blending modern and traditional elements seamlessly.

The blue stained glasses, on the other hand, colour the light that seeps into the building, thus adding a sense of serenity to the surroundings.

The Putra Mosque, undoubtedly, is one of the great icons in the “Garden Intelligent City” of Putrajaya. It overlooks a tranquil man-made lake and features a clever blend of influences from various Islamic civilisations in its designs. For example, the basement wall takes its cue from Morocco’s King Hassan Mosque, while its single minaret is inspired by the Sheikh Omar Mosque in Iraq.

Apart from the 12-column main prayer hall, the mosque is also home to a landscaped courtyard named The Sahn, a religious learning centre, and some function rooms.

Come sunset, the astonishing beauty of Putra Mosque is amplified as its rose-tinted granite domes embellish the warm orange sky, turning it into a dreamy spectacle.

A glance at the Sri Sendayan Mosque in Negri Sembilan, endowed by the founder of RHB Group Tan Sri Abd Rashid Hussain, will remind visitors of the bewitching Taj Mahal, with its cream-coloured facade, enormous domes, towering minarets, and long magnificent walkways. But the interiors, however, exude a whole different feel to it.

Be sure to look up at the ceiling as the designs are simply hypnotising. The mosque plays with symmetry and exquisite craftsmanship that incorporates materials from China, Dubai, Egypt, Morocco, and Turkiye.

Expect to spend a couple of hours here as the expansive complex is also home to lecture halls, a library, an orphanage, multi-purpose halls, mortuary management rooms, and living quarters for the staff.

Reminiscent of a majestic Victorian-meets-Moghul mansion, the Sultan Abu Bakar Mosque is a state mosque commissioned by its namesake – the first sultan of “Modern Johor”, Sultan Abu Bakar. The building took eight years to complete and was finally inaugurated in 1900.

The main prayer hall is graced with regal touches such as distinctive Roman pillars, dazzling chandeliers from the then Czechoslovakia, and a gilded mimbar from Turkiye.

The breathtaking view of the Tebrau Strait adds to the romantic allures of this heritage building.

Sitting on Wan Man Island, the Crystal Mosque shines against Terengganu’s bright blue sky with its sleek onion-shaped domes made of crystal, glass, and steel. The whole structure juts out into the nearby river, symbolising the local community living in stilted houses along the riverbank.

Inside, the walls are adorned with elegant finishings in the shades of white and gold, while its showstopping centrepiece is the elaborate crystal chandelier in the main prayer hall.

The Crystal Mosque is part of the Islam Heritage Park, where replicas of famous mosques across the globe are on display.

The recently opened Razaleigh Mosque has become the focal point of the quaint Gua Musang town in Kelantan, thanks to its fascinating design that pays homage to the Masjid al-Haram in Mecca.

It boasts nine 30m-tall towers, seven domes, and an open courtyard filled with a replica of the Kaaba made up of blocks of light-emitting diode (LED) that displays the holy verses of the Quran on repeat.

The mosque can accommodate up to 3,500 devotees at a time.

From afar, the Al-Badr Mosque, also known as Masjid Seribu Selawat Pangkor, seems to be just another beautiful floating mosque in Malaysia, with subtle ivory-coloured walls, a large dome, and a minaret soaring into the sky. However, a surprise awaits visitors who decide to venture further into the building.

The walls inside explode with thousands of striking polychrome tiles painted with Islamic inscriptions and Perak’s signature pattern, the bunga tekat, while the intricate carvings on its wooden front doors are guaranteed to impress.

This mosque can accommodate up to 1,500 devotees and visitors at a time.

Rich in history and pleasing to the eyes, the Zahir Mosque today is a celebrated landmark in Alor Setar, Kedah. The construction began in 1912 and was completed in 1915, making it one of the oldest mosques in the country.

The site was once a cemetery for the fallen Kedah warriors during the Siamese invasion in 1821.

The mosque features Neo-Mughal architecture inspired by the Azizi Mosque in North Sumatera, which was popular in the region during that time. It also cleverly incorporates elements that tolerate the local tropical climate such as the installations of overhangs on the corridors to protect against harsh sunlight and heavy rainfalls, as well as ample openings to allow natural ventilation.

Interestingly, the bulbous domes which give the mosque its distinctive character were not originally black; instead, they are actually made from copper (therefore, they used to be copper-coloured domes), but had oxidised and turned black over time.

Despite its humble facade, the Al-Qadim Mosque in Sibu, Sarawak is still worth a visit because of its intricate woodwork. The large size of the carvings make it easier for visitors to examine the craftsmanship closely, while the mosque’s location within Sibu town makes it easily accessible.

Al-Qadim Mosque features a unique three-tiered limas roof, along with rich wooden interiors made of precious belian timber and crafted by artisans from Semarang, Indonesia. The intricate handwoven art on the ceiling also spreads throughout this place of worship.

Source: The Star

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Sabahans fail to revive suit against Hadi for alleged attack on Christians

V Anbalagan

August 16, 2022

PUTRAJAYA: The Court of Appeal has dismissed an appeal by two Sabahans to revive a suit filed against PAS president Abdul Hadi Awang for an alleged attack on Christians.

Judge Vazeer Alam Mydin Meera said a three-member bench concluded that the findings of the High Court last year were not manifestly wrong in law.

“We agree with the High Court that the two declarations sought (by the Sabahans) are wholly unsustainable and ought to be struck out,” said Vazeer, who sat with Supang Lian and Ghazali Cha.

However, the bench set aside the punitive costs of RM50,000 imposed on Maklin Masiau and Lawrence Jomiji Kinsil @ Maximilhian.

“There is merit to the appeal (on costs) as there is no basis to make the award,” he said.

The bench only ordered the two to pay Hadi RM10,000 in costs for the proceedings in the High Court and Court of Appeal.

On May 11 last year, High Court judge Akhtar Tahir allowed Hadi’s application to strike out the suit, holding that the two plaintiffs lacked locus standi to bring the action.

The duo had filed an originating summons in December 2020, seeking declarations that Hadi had committed sedition and was unfit to hold public office.

They claimed Hadi had made a seditious statement against Christians and Christian missionaries in the PAS publication Harakah on Jan 18, 2016, but had not been prosecuted.

In their affidavit to support the action, the Sabahans said Hadi’s statement was also published by FMT on the same day.

Vazeer, in his oral ruling, said the two were seeking declaratory orders based on secondary sources.

He said their complaint was that the attorney-general (AG), who is also the public prosecutor, had not charged Hadi.

Despite this, they said the prime minister has appointed Hadi as special envoy to the Middle East.

“Such declarations will not serve any purpose to the appellants (Sabahans). They were not compelling the AG to take action or asking the prime minister to remove Hadi from office,” he said.

Vazeer said based on submissions by Hadi’s lawyers, the suit had been commenced for collateral and political purposes.

“We agree with the High Court’s observation that there is no conceivable reason to ask for the declarations and the suit was an exercise in futility,” he said.

He also noted that it was the AG who had the discretion to institute a charge against Hadi.

“This civil court cannot usurp that constitutional power and declare beforehand that an offence had been committed,” he said.

He said it would undoubtedly open the floodgates for similar suits to be filed if such declarations were allowed.

Source: Free Malaysia Today

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The enhancing bilateral relations between Indonesia and Saudi Arabia

August 16, 2022

By Eko Hartono, Indonesian Consul General in Jeddah

Indonesia and Saudi Arabia established diplomatic relations in 1950. Relations are particularly important because Saudi Arabia is the birthplace of Islam, and Indonesia is home to the world's largest Muslim population; both are Muslim majority countries. Besides Social and Religion, Economy and trade relations are also particularly important, especially on oil (energy) and human resources (migrant worker) sectors.

The historical link between Indonesia and Saudi Arabia was Islam. Numerous Muslim traders and ulamas arrived in the Indonesian archipelago from the Arab World during the coming of Islam around the 13th century. Since the early 20th century, Indonesian Muslims have taken the hajj pilgrimage to Makkah. As the country with the largest Muslim population, Indonesia sends the largest number of hajj pilgrims among Muslim countries.

Due to the Covid pandemic two years ago, this year the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia allowed Indonesia to send 100,510 thousand hajj pilgrims. Indonesia gives its highest appreciation to the government of Saudi Arabia for the provision of a large enough hajj quota for Indonesian pilgrims. Indonesia is the country with the most quotas compared to other countries outside Saudi Arabia. Hajj quota for the year 1440H/2019M, as many as 202,487 people (regular pilgrims) and 15,663 people (special pilgrims). The total congregation is 218,150 people. Indonesian Hajj officers are 2,850 people.

The most important thing to consider for the service of Indonesian pilgrims is to provide food with an Indonesian taste. Catering companies are required to use spices from Indonesia. So, it is expected that there will be an increase in exports of Indonesian products to Saudi Arabia.

Recently, the trade balance between Indonesia and Saudi Arabia also increased by 31.34 percent compared to the same period last year. Indonesia's non-oil and gas exports to Saudi Arabia also increased in the second quarter of 2021 by 27.24 percent compared to the same period as last year. This year there is an increase in demand, including in such products as fish, wheat, processed food, vegetables, and fats/vegetable animals.

This increase in exports is the result of the development of the business sector in SMEs (small and medium enterprises), with a rapidly growing middle class. This is, to some extent, thanks to modern grocery stores expanding to regions outside Java and other major urban areas, increasing market presence for import products. Moreover, the COVID-19 pandemic has increased e-commerce transactions. Online shoppers have increased from 75 million to 85 million. It makes Indonesian communities so convenience with the store format fastest growing modern sales channel.

In this year, according to the World Bank, Indonesian economy is projected to recover by 4.4% supported by improving domestic demand and the positive impact of a stronger global economy. We also predict the growth will increase to 5.0% in 2022 driven by reduced uncertainty.

The Indonesian economy in the second quarter of 2021 also grew 7.07 percent compared to the same period last year. This growth was faster than the World Bank projected of 4.4 percent. This is because of improving domestic demand and the positive impact of stronger global economy, it was especially supported by a very significant export growth of 31.78 percent compared to the same period.

In other economic fields, relations between the two countries continue to improve with plans for cooperation in the fields of national product standards, agricultural issues, and counterterrorism. In other economic fields, relations between the two countries continue to improve with plans for cooperation in the fields of national product standards, agricultural issues, and counterterrorism.

In the field of tourism, mutual visits by the people of the two countries are also increasing. this can be seen from the large number of requests for visas by Saudi Arabian citizens to Indonesia. This visit was to cover the G20 meeting, the International Parliamentary Union meeting, and the Global Platform Disaster Risk Reduction meeting and other activities. Moreover, in the field of renewable energy, cooperation continues to increase to increase electricity sources in Indonesia for the development of energy projects in Siguling and Singkarak.

In political relations, related to the implementation of the G20, Indonesia expressed appreciation for the support of Prince Mohammed Bin Salman in preparing topic arrangements such as, blended finance for development, adaptation and mitigation of climate change, food security, just and fair energy transition mechanisms. Prince Mohammed Bin Salman confirmed the commitment to announce concrete cooperation for mangrove restoration and conservation during the G-20.

Indonesia's success in the economic field encourages the trust of the international community, especially the G-20 members to appoint Indonesia to lead the G20 presidency in 2022. The G20 Presidency is an international economic cooperation forum consisting of 19 countries and the European Union. There are 3 things that are the main focus of Indonesia, namely inclusive health care, digital-based economic transformation, and the transition to sustainable energy.

Through these pillar, Indonesia encourage and to ensure equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines, promoting sustainable and inclusive economic development which will implemented by SMEs participation and creative digital economy. While also maintaining the aspiration to continue to improve our collective capacity in securing the shared prosperity among nations, through various reforms efforts in global taxation, stronger cooperation, deepening of infrastructure financing, and pushing for a more democratic, and representative international cooperation.

There are 438 activities during the 2022, G20 Indonesia Presidency spread across 25 cities throughout Indonesia. The implementation of the various activities of the G20 Presidency is expected to increase domestic consumption by up to Rp1.7 trillion, increase national GDP to Rp7.4 trillion, as well as involve MSMEs and absorb around 33 thousand workers in various sectors.

The 17th G20 Heads of State and Government Summit will take place in15-16 November 2022 in Bali. The Summit will be the pinnacle of the G20 process and intense work carried out within the Ministerial Meetings, Working Groups, and Engagement Groups throughout the year.

Source: Saudi Gazette

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Iran Categorically Rejects Allegations of Smuggling Weapons to Yemen


Kan'ani made the remark on Monday after an Arab outlet claimed that Iran had been smuggling weapons and military equipment from the country’s Southern port city of Bandar Abbas to Yemen's besieged port of Al-Hudaydah.

“The aggressor coalition and their Western sponsors must be held to account for the crimes they have been committing in Yemen for more than seven years, which have led to the killing of innocent people and the destruction of Yemen’s infrastructure, and have caused the biggest humanitarian disaster of the century,” Kan'ani noted.

The spokesperson stressed that leveling accusations against the Islamic Republic is aimed at deflecting the regional and international public opinion away from the realities on the ground in Yemen.

“The Islamic Republic’s support for the Yemeni people has been political in nature since the beginning of the country's crisis, and Iran has always backed a peaceful process as well as the United Nations’ efforts for a political solution to the devastating war and the continuation of ceasefire,” the top diplomat stated.

“The continuation of hostile policies and the repetition of threadbare scenarios, despite the [Saudi-led coalition's] claim about trying to stop the conflict in Yemen, will not lead to a new result in favor of the aggressors,” the official added.

Tehran has repeatedly rejected allegations about sending weapons to Yemeni forces.

“Medicine and medical goods are sent to Yemenis with difficulty; then how could military equipment go through and sent to them,” an Iranian foreign ministry spokesperson had asked.

The spokesman noted that the Yemeni nation has made astonishing progress in the military field and manufacturing weapons and military equipment after facing the Saudi-led aggression.

Saudi Arabia launched a devastating war on Yemen in March 2015 in collaboration with its Arab allies and with arms and logistics support from the US, the UK and other Western states.

The objective was to reinstall the Riyadh-friendly regime of Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi, and crush the Ansarullah resistance movement, which has been running state affairs in the absence of a functional government in Yemen.

While the Saudi-led coalition has failed to meet its objectives, the war has killed hundreds of thousands of Yemenis and spawned the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.

The conflict has been described by the UN as the “world’s worst humanitarian crisis”, and has resulted in the deaths of 377,000 people, more than two-thirds under the age of five, per UN figures at the end of 2021.

Source: Fars News Agency

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AEOI Chief Stresses All Countries' Right to Peaceful Nuclear Technology


Eslami stated on Monday that acquiring nuclear technology is a legitimate source of power for any country.

The nuclear chief argued that all countries, including Iran, are entitled to use nuclear technology for peaceful purposes and that Iran intends to use that right.

However, certain powers have abused their veto right at the UN Security Council to prevent Iran from developing its peaceful nuclear program, he added.

"Numerous allegations have been leveled against the country over the years and its nuclear dossier has been sent to the Board of Governors of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and the United Nation Security Council (UNSC)," the official said

"Resolutions and sanctions have been slapped against Iran as a result," he continued.

The AEOI head also noted that Supreme Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyed Ali Khamenei has in the past 25 years stressed the importance of developing nuclear technology. 

He added that the AEOI has adopted a comprehensive strategic document and taken major steps to develop nuclear technology for peaceful purposes.

Back in mid-February, Ayatollah Khamenei reiterated Iran's opposition to the production and use of atomic weapons and its determination to utilize peaceful nuclear energy.

“You see how oppressively the enemy front is focusing on the issue of our nuclear energy. They [the enemy] impose sanctions [on us] because of a nuclear energy [program] that they know is peaceful. And whatever they may say about Iran being a certain amount of time away from producing a [nuclear] bomb is nonsensical and meaningless,” he said.

“They know we are not seeking that; that we are not looking for a nuclear weapon. We are looking to benefit from nuclear energy in peaceful ways. They know this. [But] They do not want the Iranian nation to achieve such an outstanding scientific progress and that’s why they are pressuring us,” Ayatollah Khamenei continued.

The Leader added that Iran will urgently need nuclear energy, and that if the country fails to take action today, it will be too late in 20 years.

Ayatollah Khamenei has on many occasions stated the Islamic Republic considers the pursuit and possession of nuclear weapons "a grave sin" from every logical, religious and theoretical standpoint.

In April 2010, he issued a fatwa declaring that the production, stockpiling, and use of nuclear weapons are all haram (religiously banned).

"Iran is not after a nuclear bomb. Why would Iran want a nuclear bomb? Moreover, when an atomic bomb is detonated, it does not just kill enemies. Rather, it kills innocent people as well, and this goes against Islamic beliefs and the principles of the Islamic Republic of Iran. An atomic bomb does not discriminate between good and bad people, and it is not something that the Islamic Republic would use," a part of the fatwa said.

Source: Fars News Agency

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Son Says Jailed Iranian Still Kept in Solitary Confinement for 1,000 Days


"My father has not been able to contact his family," Majid Nouri told reporters, adding, "He has been held in solitary confinement for 1,000 days."

Hamid Nouri was arrested upon arrival at Stockholm Airport in November 2019. In July, the former judiciary employee was sentenced to life imprisonment by a court in Sweden on Thursday. Iran has dismissed the Swedish court's sentence as illegal and called for Nouri's release.

In the Judiciary Spokesman's press conference on Tuesday, Majid Nouri noted that the Swedish Police just sufficed to express their regret about his father's mistreatment.

Nouri's son stated that his father was not given the Persian version of the verdict yet, adding, "He has not read the verdict, the designation of his new lawyer has not yet been agreed upon, while there are less than forty days left for the appeal."

The Judiciary Spokesman Masoud Setayeshi said that Hamid Nouri was being kept in the severest conditions because he was deprived of basic fundamental rights, even comunication with his family.

Setayeshi stressed that the Swedish must hear the witnesses and Hamid Nouri's comments, calling the verdict unfair.

The charges against Nouri stem from allegations leveled against him by members of the Mojahedin-e Khalq Organization (MKO) terrorist group. Nouri has vehemently rejected the allegations.

Tehran has strongly condemned the Swedish court ruling for the life imprisonment of Nouri, saying the court is basically unqualified to address the case.

The court statement is fundamentally "rejected, distorted and unacceptable", Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Nasser Kana'ani stated in mid-July, adding that "the court lacks legal legitimacy to deal with the case".

The spokesperson noted that "Iran holds Sweden accountable for the damages caused to bilateral relations between the two countries by this statement and ruling".

He argued that instead of responding to the Iranian public opinion about allowing free activity of a terrorist group, the Swedish judicial system is supporting and promoting terrorism in practice.

Source: Fars News Agency

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Senior Analyst: US to Blame If Talks Fail to End in Deal


"Either the US goes for real change in the draft or it'll have no one to blame but itself for losing more in coming weeks, when West will start greater concerns for winter shivering," Khoshcheshm wrote on Twitter on Monday, referring to the energy crisis which has been soaring in recent months due to the war between Moscow and Kyiv.

"Give up the language of threat, it's to your loss. Your choice," he added.

His remarks came as an EU official confirmed that Iran has responded to the European Union's draft text to salvage the 2015 agreement on Monday. The diplomat provided no details on Tehran's response to the text.

Iranian experts say one of the reasons for the growing willingness of Europeans to reach an agreement with Tehran is their need for the coutry's oil and gas amid the Russia-Ukraine war and the rising prices in the global market. They believe the Europeans and Americans are facing an economic crisis and are in critical need of a deal with Iran.

Earlier on Monday, Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir Abdollahian urged the United States to be flexible and realistic to let the negotiations yield fruit, and warned that Tehran has its own "Plan B" and it will go into effect if Washington fails to make a political decision to revive the accord.

"We also have our own Plan B, but this issue must be resolved through talks,” Amir Abdollahian stated, referred to the US claim that it has a Plan B in case the talks fail.

The foreign minister said if the US acts realistically and flexibly, Tehran and the other sides will reach a deal in the coming days.

"We are at a point that can be the beginning of the conclusion of a deal, but it depends on the US how long it will take before reaching an agreement. Washington knows very well how much flexibility we have shown, now it is the turn of the American side to be flexible," the top diplomat continued.

Elsewhere in his remarks, the top official said Iran and the P4+1 have done what is necessary, adding that the Vienna talks made "progress" but Tehran does not want to enter into an agreement which would make no changes on the ground.

The minister stated Tehran and Washington are exchanging messages on three issues and that Iran will announce its views in the next few days.

Iranian diplomat stressed that the US side showed flexibility regarding two issues in words but this must be in practice, urging Washington to also show flexibility about the third issue, namely guarantees.

"We told Americans that if our opinions on these three issues, which are reasonable opinions, are respected, we are ready to enter the stage of announcing an agreement and hold a conclusion meeting,” Amir Abdollahian concluded.

Iran and the five remaining parties to the nuclear deal have held several rounds of negotiations since April last year to restore the agreement, which was unilaterally abandoned by Donald Trump in May 2018.

In quitting the agreement, Trump restored sanctions on Iran as part of what he called the “maximum pressure” campaign against the country. Those sanctions are being enforced to this day by the Joe Biden administration, even though it has repeatedly acknowledged that the policy has been a mistake and a failure.

Iranian officials say the ball is in the US' court, and the Biden administration should assure Tehran that it will not repeat Trump's past mistakes.

Source: Fars News Agency

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Israeli court rejects release appeal for Palestinian man on 165-day hunger strike

16 August, 2022

An Israeli military court on Monday rejected an appeal for release by a Palestinian prisoner whose health is deteriorating as he continues a 165-day hunger strike to protest being held without charge or trial, his lawyer said.

Khalil Awawdeh is one of several Palestinian detainees who have gone on prolonged hunger strikes over the years in protest of what is known as administrative detention.

Israel says the 40-year-old father of four is a militant, an allegation Awawdeh denies through his lawyer.

The Islamic Jihad militant group demanded his release as part of an Egyptian-brokered cease-fire ending three days of heavy fighting in the Gaza Strip earlier this month but did not identify him as a member.

Israel says administrative detention is needed to keep dangerous militants off the streets and to hold suspects without divulging sensitive intelligence.

Critics say the form of detention, which is almost exclusively used for Palestinians, denies them due process.

Administrative detainees can be held for months or years without charge or trial.

Ahlam Haddad, a lawyer for Awawdeh, confirmed that the military court had rejected his appeal for release.

He has not eaten during the strike, except for a 10-day period in which he received vitamin injections, according to his family.

Israel’s Shin Bet internal security service has not commented on his case.

Israel is currently holding some 4,400 Palestinian prisoners, including extremists who have carried out deadly attacks, as well as people arrested at protests or for throwing stones.

Around 670 Palestinians are currently being held in administrative detention, a number that jumped in March as Israel began near-nightly arrest raids in the occupied West Bank following a spate of deadly attacks against Israelis.

Israel says it provides due process and largely imprisons those who threaten its security, though a small number are held for petty crimes.

Source: Al Arabiya

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Palestinian President Abbas skirts apology for Munich attack

August 17, 2022

BERLIN: Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas expressed no regret Tuesday for the deadly attack by Palestinian militants on Israeli athletes at the Munich Olympics a half century ago, countering that Israel had committed “50 Holocausts” against Palestinians over the years.

Eleven Israeli athletes and a German police officer died after members of the Palestinian militant group Black September took hostages at the Olympic Village on Sept. 5, 1972. At the time of the attack, the group was linked to Abbas’ Fatah party.

Asked whether as Palestinian leader he planned to apologize to Israel and Germany for the attack ahead of the 50th anniversary next month, Abbas responded instead by citing allegations of atrocities committed by Israel since 1947.

“If we want to go over the past, go ahead,” Abbas told reporters after a meeting with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz in Berlin. “I have 50 slaughters that Israel committed.”

Standing next to Scholz, Abbas explicitly used the word “Holocausts” in his reply, drawing a grimace from the German chancellor. Germany has long argued the term should only be used to describe the Nazis’ singular crime of killing six million Jews before and during World War II.

While Scholz had earlier rejected the Palestinian leader’s description of Israel’s treatment of Palestinians as “apartheid,” he did not immediately rebuke Abbas for using the term “Holocaust.”

In a statement to German daily Bild, Scholz later criticized Abbas’s choice of words, saying any downplaying of the horrors of the Holocaust was “unacceptable.”

Conservative German lawmaker Armin Laschet likewise expressed outrage at Abbas’ comments.

“The (Palestinian) leader would have gained sympathy if he had apologized for the terrorist attack on Israeli athletes at the Munich Olympics 1972,” he wrote on Twitter. “Accusing Israel of ‘50 Holocausts’ instead is the most disgusting speech ever heard in the German Chancellery,” he said.

In his response, the Palestinian president also said he was committed to building trust and achieving a peaceful solution to the conflict with Israel.

“Please come to peace,” he said. “Please come to security, let’s build trust between us and you. This is better than other kinds of talking.”

Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid said Abbas’ remarks about “50 Holocausts,” made on German soil, were “not only a moral disgrace, but a monstrous lie.”

“Six million Jews were murdered in the Holocaust, including one and a half million Jewish children,” Lapid tweeted. “History will never forgive him.”

Weeks before a planned somber commemoration marking the 50th anniversary of the Munich attack, Germany has also found itself embroiled in controversy in its dealings with the relatives of the Israelis who were killed.

Victims’ families announced last week that they planned to boycott the ceremony after failing to reach agreement on bigger compensation from the German government.

Source: Arab News

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Somali government vows to eliminate al-Shabaab terrorists' so-called courts

Mohammed Dhaysane  



The Somali government has announced that it will close so-called courts established by the al-Shabaab terror group in Lower Shabelle and in and around Mogadishu within two years.

Speaking at a ceremony in Mogadishu on Monday night, newly-appointed Interior Minister Ahmed Moalim Fiqi admitted that some people seek justice from al-Shabaab's courts due to a lack of trust in the country's judicial system.

He said his government is determined to eliminate such courts in Lower Shabelle and Mogadishu within the next two years.

According to Fiqi, the lack of enforcement of government courts’ judgments is the reason why some Somalis seek justice from these courts.

The so-called courts of the al-Qaeda-affiliated terror group are influential in the Horn of Africa country, occasionally reversing decisions issued by government courts.

Many people seek justice in al-Shabab courts in secret because they believe Somali government courts are corrupt.

These tribunals are mobile and usually operate in Lower Shabelle, Middle Shabelle, and Middle Juba, the only territory entirely held by the terrorist organization.

Source: Anadolu Agency

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EU urges peaceful resolution of election dispute in Kenya

Vakkas Dogantekin  


The European Union urged Kenyan authorities Tuesday to resolve an election dispute in the East African country peacefully within the boundaries of the rule of law.

EU High Representative Josep Borrell in a statement said the EU commends Kenyans for the "calm and peaceful" election day on Aug. 9.

"The EU takes note of the results by the IEBC declaring Mr. William Ruto winner of the election and the decision to appeal by Mr. Raila Odinga. Ongoing dispute and any remaining concerns about this election must be resolved peacefully through existing legal mechanisms," Borrell stressed.

He said political and societal leaders must avoid any violence and call for calm.

The EU-Kenya Strategic Dialogue begun in June 2021 will develop further with the new Kenyan leadership, he underlined.

Kenya's opposition leader Raila Odinga on Tuesday rejected the results of the presidential election, which he was declared to have lost.

Addressing a news conference in the capital Nairobi, Odinga said the "flawed" results were a setback to democracy in the country.

“For the avoidance of doubt, I want to repeat that we totally and without reservations reject the presidential results announced yesterday by Mr. Chebukati,” Odinga said.

Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) chair Wafula Chebukati on Monday declared William Samoei Ruto the country’s fifth president.

Source: Anadolu Agency

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Tunisia constitution giving president wider powers comes into effect

16 August, 2022

Tunisia's new constitution giving the president far greater powers is to come into effect after the official electoral commission announced final results on Tuesday for last month's referendum.

The 96 percent yes vote in the referendum, with 31 percent of the electorate taking part, was largely unchanged from the preliminary results announced last month.

Opponents of President Kais Saied say the new constitution will unravel Tunisia's democratic gains from the 2011 revolution by giving him nearly unchecked powers.

They have criticized the process by which he wrote the constitution as illegal and unilateral and have raised concerns over the legitimacy of the referendum after he replaced the board of the electoral commission.

Saied and his supporters have said the political system had to change to save Tunisia from years of stagnation and political paralysis and have defended the process by which he passed the constitution.

Last week a court dismissed objections to the vote.

Source: Al Arabiya

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Tunisia intercepts nearly 100 Europe-bound migrants

16 August, 2022

Tunisia said Tuesday it had foiled several attempts by almost 100 migrants to reach Europe via the Mediterranean Sea since the previous day.

Tunisia and Libya are the main points of departure for migrants trying to reach Europe from Africa. Sea crossing attempts tend to increase during spring and summer.

Tunisia’s National Guard said it had prevented five maritime crossings and rescued 80 people, mostly Tunisians and including 35 migrants from sub-Saharan Africa.

It said “preventive operations” were also carried out near Menzel Temime in the north, Mahdia and Kerkennah on the central coast and Zarzis in the south, leading to 11 arrests.

The National Guard said it had seized “a sum of money” without specifying the amount, and an inflatable boat in these operations.

On Monday, maritime and military authorities said 657 people were rescued or prevented from trying to cross in 46 separate incidents between Friday and Monday.

The defense ministry told AFP that 42 Egyptians who had set sail from Libya were rescued Sunday off Kerkennah, after their boat sank and they took refuge on an oil platform.

Tunisia is in the throes of political and economic crises, and Libya has been gripped by lawlessness since 2011 that has seen militias turn to people trafficking.

The two countries are also the gateway for sub-Saharan Africans hoping for a better life by escaping impoverished and strife-torn countries such as Sudan.

Source: Al Arabiya

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Northwestern Zamfara State in Nigeria passes death penalty for banditry, cattle rustling

Ibrahim Garba Shuaibu  


KANO, Nigeria

The northwestern Muslim-dominated Zamfara State in Nigeria signed a death penalty law for anyone found guilty of banditry, cattle rustling, cultism, or serving as an informant for bandits, according to an official on Tuesday.

The state government also restricted motorcycle movement from 8 p.m. to 6 a.m. and directed hotels to scrutinize guests and verify their identity before placing them in their facilities.

“On the 28th of June this year, I assented to the bill on Prohibition and Punishment for Banditry, Cattle Rustling, Cultism, Kidnapping and Other Incidental Offences, 2022,” Governor Bello Matawalle said in a special broadcast.

He said anyone found guilty of the crimes is subject to the death penalty and the measures were part of his administration’s unrelenting efforts to tackle the problem of banditry that has plagued the state and neighboring northwestern states for more than a decade.

Matawalle described the activities of the informants as a major challenge to address insecurity, expressing optimism that the situation would soon end.

Nigeria still has the death penalty and governors have the power to sign the order after a court judgment.

The Kano High Court recently convicted a school proprietor and accomplice to hanging for their roles in the kidnapping and death of a 5-year-old student in the state.

Governor Abdullahi Umar Ganduje pledged to sign the death penalty for the defendants convicted in the case.

“With regards to the issue of informants, which is the major impediment in the fight against banditry, I am glad to inform the peace-loving people of Zamfara State that we have succeeded in apprehending many of them,” he said. “Anyone found guilty of supporting in any manner the aforementioned offenses face a sentence of life in prison, 20 years in jail, or 10 years in prison, without the option of a fine.”

Yahuza Ahmed, a human rights activist and security expert with the Network for Peace in Nigeria said: “I am optimistic that the activities of banditry will soon reduce drastically. Peace is what everyone hopes and this law will be a substance to ensure the peace in the state.”

Source: Anadolu Agency

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Kenyan opposition leader says he’ll challenge his close election loss

August 16, 2022

NAIROBI: Kenyan opposition figure Raila Odinga said Tuesday he’ll challenge the results of the close presidential election with “all constitutional and legal options” after Deputy President William Ruto was declared the winner, bringing new uncertainty to a country where the vote was widely considered to be its most peaceful.

Now East Africa’s most stable democracy faces weeks of disputes and the possibility that the Supreme Court will order a fresh election. Religious and other leaders have pleaded for calm in a country with a history of deadly post-election violence.

“Let no one take the law into their own hands,” Odinga said to his often passionate supporters. In Kisumu, a city in his western Kenya stronghold, some residents said they were tired of going into the street and being tear-gassed.

This was Odinga’s first appearance since Kenya’s electoral commission chairman on Monday declared Ruto the winner with almost 50.5 percent of the votes. Four of the seven commissioners abruptly announced they couldn’t support the results, and Odinga supporters scuffled with the remaining commissioners at the declaration venue.

Shortly before Odinga spoke, the four commissioners asserted to journalists that the chairman’s final math added up to 100.01 percent and the excess votes would have made a “significant difference.” They also said he didn’t give them a chance to discuss the results before his declaration.

“What we saw yesterday was a travesty and blatant disregard of the constitution,” Odinga said, calling the election results “null and void.”

The 77-year-old Odinga has pursued the presidency for a quarter-century. His campaign has seven days after Monday’s declaration to file a petition with the Supreme Court, which would then have 14 days to make a ruling.

Odinga is renowned as a fighter, detained for years in the 1980s over his push for multiparty democracy, and a supporter of Kenya’s groundbreaking 2010 constitution. His claim that the deeply troubled 2007 election was stolen from him led to violence that left more than 1,000 dead. Though he boycotted the fresh 2017 vote, his court challenge led to election reforms.

The electoral commission had been widely seen as improving its transparency in this election, practically inviting Kenyans to do the tallying themselves by posting online the more than 46,000 results forms from around the country.

On Tuesday, the local Elections Observation Group announced that its highly regarded parallel voting tally “corroborates the official results” in an important check on the process.

But Odinga asserted that only the electoral commission chairman could see the final results before the declaration. “The law does not vest in the chairperson the powers of a dictator,” he said, and insisted that decisions by the commission must be taken by consensus.

There was no immediate statement from the electoral commission or its chairman. A screen at its tallying center that had been showing cumulative presidential election results stopped being updated Saturday and was later turned off. The official form showing final results could not be accessed on the commission’s website Tuesday.

Odinga’s campaign had expected victory after outgoing President Uhuru Kenyatta in a political twist backed his former rival Odinga instead of his own deputy president, with whom he fell out years ago. Some Kenyans have noted that Kenyatta appointed the four dissenting commissioners last year.

Source: Arab News

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North America


US rules out releasing $3.5 billion in frozen Afghan funds

16 August 2022

The administration of US President Joe Biden does not plan to release billions of dollars in Afghan government assets held in the United States anytime soon.

“We do not see recapitalization of the D.A.B. as a near-term option,” said Thomas West, the American government’s special representative for Afghanistan, referring to the Afghan Central Bank.

“We do not have confidence that that institution has the safeguards and monitoring in place to manage assets responsibly,” West said in a statement.

He said American officials had abandoned the idea of releasing the money after it was revealed that al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri had been living in the heart of Kabul apparently with the protection of the Taliban until he was killed in a drone strike last month.

“And needless to say, the Taliban’s sheltering of al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahri reinforces deep concerns we have regarding diversion of funds to terrorist groups,” he said.

Ned Price, the US State Department spokesman, earlier said that the US had no plans to release $3.5 billion in frozen funds to Afghanistan’s Taliban-controlled Central Bank. “We don’t see recapitalization of the Afghan central bank as a near-term option.”

Biden has frozen the assets belonging to the Afghan Central Bank since the withdrawal of its occupation forces from the country in August 2021. Many US allies and Western governments have also largely suspended their financial assistance to Afghanistan since the US troop withdrawal and the Taliban takeover of the country.

In February, Afghanistan condemned a decision by the United States to seize billions of dollars in frozen Afghan funds to pay the claimants of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.

The White House had earlier announced that the US Treasury planned to block half of the $7-billion Afghan funds frozen in the US banks to distribute among the families of the victims of the 9/11 attacks. Biden in February issued an executive order allocating half of the money for distribution to families of the victims.

Afghanistan’s Taliban administration has repeatedly called on foreign governments to roll back the sanctions imposed on Kabul and unfreeze the country’s central bank assets.

Source: Press TV

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US studying Iran’s comments on EU nuclear deal proposal: State Department

16 August, 2022

The State Department has received Iran’s response to the EU proposal to revive the 2015 nuclear deal, a US official said Tuesday.

“We have received Iran’s comments through the EU and are studying them. We are sharing our views with the EU,” the State Department spokesperson told Al Arabiya English.

Russia’s top diplomat in Vienna told CNN that the comments from Iran on the EU proposal were “very businesslike” and “reasonable.”

Mikhail Ulyanov, who has become Russia’s de-facto spokesperson for the talks, claimed the ball was now in Washington’s court.

He said if the US had a positive response to Tehran’s comments, a ministerial JCPOA meeting could be held “either this week or next week.”

Iran relayed its remarks to the EU on Monday. The Iranian foreign minister said there were “three issues that if resolved, we can reach an agreement in the coming days.”

The EU previously said the proposal was the final text and there were no more room for negotiations. But the Biden administration and the EU have been adamant about reviving the JCPOA, and it remains to be seen if the US will accept Iran’s new requests.

Also on Monday, State Department Spokesman Ned Price said the only way to reach a deal was for Iran “to drop further unacceptable demands that go beyond the scope of the JCPOA.”

Source: Al Arabiya

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Trump calls US withdrawal from Afghanistan most 'humiliating event in the history of the United States'

16 August 2022

Former US President Donald Trump has called the Biden administration’s tumultuous withdrawal from Afghanistan last year "the most embarrassing, incompetent, and humiliating event in the history of the United States."

Trump made the remark on his Truth Social account on Tuesday on the one-year anniversary of the Taliban’s takeover of Afghanistan following the retreat of US forces from the country.

The US invaded Afghanistan in October 2001 following the September 11, 2001 attacks on the United States, despite the fact that no Afghan national was involved in the attacks. Hundreds of thousands of Afghans died in the US war of aggression on the country.

American forces had occupied the country for about two decades on the pretext of fighting against the Taliban. But as the US forces left Afghanistan, the Taliban stormed into the capital Kabul in August last year, weakened by continued foreign occupation.

"The Afghanistan disaster of exactly one year ago was the most embarrassing, incompetent, and humiliating event in the history of the United States," Trump said.

"Not the fact that we left, I was the one that got our soldier count down to 2 thousand in preparation for leaving," Trump continued, "but the way we left, taking the military out first, 13 dead soldiers (with many badly injured), leaving many Americans behind, and giving the enemy over 85 Billion Dollars worth of the best military equipment in the world. So Sad!"

The Taliban took over the capital Kabul on August 8, 2021, and declared that the war in Afghanistan was over. The militants entered the presidential palace after President Ashraf Ghani fled the country.

The US was forced to close the embassy in Kabul and evacuate diplomats and staff by helicopters.

American journalist Don DeBar told Press TV that “this entire war, since Jimmy Carter started it (using George Bush, the first's CIA and Donald Rumsfeld's military intelligence) and George Bush II deployed regulars, through the Obama-Trump and now the Biden administration's time, has been a ‘Saigon moment,’” referring to the 1975 hasty evacuation of remaining American troops from Vietnam when the city of Saigon fell two years after former President Richard Nixon withdrew American forces in the country.

“I understand what Trump is doing here. The Republican base has a strong sense of nationalistic pride that has to be massaged, and in this particular case the deficit is being exploited by him for the benefit of that base,” he told Press TV on Tuesday.

“But he's also right, even if that's not his intent. The 'humiliating event' he refers to is not last year's televised exit-in-haste. It's the decades-long war on the people of Afghanistan that the US began conducting during the Carter Administration, which brought the Taliban and other fundamentalists to power over the secularists who had come to power seeking peace with its neighbor, the USSR, looking to build a democratic modern economy using a socialist model. Carter and his NSA advisor, Zbigniev Brzezinski, lit a match intended to stop them and burn the fingers of Moscow. Instead, the fire has been consuming the people of Afghanistan ever since, including up to this day,” the analyst said.

“It is reminiscent of the other national humiliation in what is now known as Ho Chi Minh city, then Saigon, where the US beat another hasty exit after a ridiculously long war that consumed millions of Vietnamese. There, again, what was done to the people of Vietnam is the US national shame, not the decision to finally leave,” he noted.

US Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) had called Washington’s retreat from Afghanistan "a lot worse than Saigon in 1975.”

Source: Press TV

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EU says Iran’s response to nuclear deal plan is constructive

16 August, 2022

The European Union views Iran’s response to a proposed blueprint for reviving the 2015 nuclear deal as constructive, according to an official familiar with the diplomatic efforts, and is consulting with the US on a “way ahead for the protracted talks.

The comments are the first positive sign that the Iranian position, formally submitted by Tehran to the EU on Monday night, might not stall the negotiations much further.

The official, who didn’t want to be named because of the sensitivity of the matter, said Iran’s response still required study and that other parties to the nuclear talks -- which include the US, China and Russia -- are assessing it.

EU mediators had circulated a “final proposal for salvaging the landmark atomic deal last week. The bloc described that text as the last remaining hope of rescuing an accord that’s meant to limit Tehran’s nuclear activity in exchange for the lifting of sanctions, including on its energy sector. But comments from top Iranian officials suggested they were seeking further changes.

Extra oil from Iran could provide much-needed relief for a global economy hit by soaring energy costs. Brent oil futures fell as much as 2.8 percent in London to trade at a six-month low on Tuesday as traders weighed the more productive tone of the Iran talks.

“We have received the Iranian response last evening. We are studying it and are consulting with the other JCPOA participants and the US on the way ahead, the EU spokeswoman for Foreign Affairs and Security, Nabila Massrali, said earlier on Tuesday, using the nuclear deal’s formal acronym.

At a regularly scheduled briefing, she declined to speculate on the timing of any next steps.

“I want to stress again that it arrived only last night, Massrali said of Iran’s response. “The way forward is for all the participants to look at it, for the US to look at it.

The accord unraveled after the Trump administration abandoned it in 2018, setting off a security crisis in the Persian Gulf and effectively banning Iranian oil from global markets. Tehran retaliated by stepping up its uranium enrichment to near levels that are required for a weapons program.

Talking to reporters on Tuesday, government spokesman Ali Bahadori Jahromi declined to describe the contents of Iran’s response to the EU, according to the official government website.

State-run Nour News -- which is closely linked to the Supreme National Security Council, a top body heavily involved in foreign-policy decisions -- said in a tweet that the EU proposal didn’t clearly address “Iranian concerns related to three main factors, without elaborating.

“The opinions announced to the EU on behalf of Iran also highlight the necessity of meeting our country’s legal demands, the tweet said. The council’s secretary, Ali Shamkhani, met with lawmakers and senior Iranian nuclear negotiators on Tuesday evening in Tehran to brief them on the latest developments, Nour News said in a separate tweet.

Negotiations with world powers have dragged on for almost 18 months, dogged at various stages by political squabbles over terrorism sanctions, Iranian demands for guarantees the US won’t again renege on the deal, Russia’s war on Ukraine and inspections by the International Atomic Energy Agency.

On Monday, Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian had called on the US to show “a realistic approach and flexibility to conclude a deal.

“We’ve clearly told the US we’re ready to enter the phase of announcing the deal, and have a meeting of foreign ministers in Vienna on final conclusions, if our latest points are met, he told reporters in Tehran.

State Department spokesman Ned Price said the Biden administration would share its views privately with the EU.

Source: Al Arabiya

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Swedish citizen detained in Iran for espionage might face other charges: Spokesperson

16 August, 2022

A Swedish citizen detained in Iran on suspicion of espionage might face other charges, Iranian judiciary spokesperson Masoud Setayeshi said on Tuesday in a televised news conference.

The suspect, who remains unnamed, had been under surveillance by the intelligence ministry during several previous trips to Iran because of “suspicious behavior,” the official IRNA news agency reported in July.

Source: Al Arabiya

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Türkiye holds panel in Paris to push for UN Security Council reform

Esra Taskin and Muhammet Tarhan



Türkiye’s Communications Directorate held a panel in Paris to emphasize the critical need for a UN Security Council reform.

Many officials from Türkiye, including Deputy Director of Communications Cagatay Ozdemir, attended the panel along with diplomats from the Turkish Embassy in Paris.

The panel was moderated by Washington Director of the Ankara-based Political, Economic and Social Research Foundation (SETA) Kilic Bugra Kanat and attended by panelists Presidential Security and Foreign Policy Committee Members Prof. Cagri Erhanand, Prof. Nursin Guney as well as President of the Association of Foreign Journalists (APE) Elias Masboungi and Italian scholar expert Valeria Giannotta.

Kanat said that the reform of the UN Security Council is "not a choice but a necessity".

With the panel series, Türkiye aims to point out how the international community and international organizations faced significant challenges in the face of problems in recent years and how the international system was ineffective in addressing these challenges.

The panel also aims to push for a fairer, more democratic and more representative structure in the Security Council.

After holding panels in Italy, Argentina and France, Kanat said they plan to organize panels in 10 more different countries within the next two weeks.

Erhan, for his part, told the panel that the UN member countries increased from 51 to 193 and the world population was up from 2.5 billion to 8 billion.

“It is clear that we need a change because the UN system was established for a world 4 times smaller than the one we live in today."

Guney, on the occasion, said there have been initiatives for the reform of the UN in the past, adding that the current system allows the five permanent members of the UN Security Council to use the veto "against human welfare" due to different national interests.

Giannotta said the current system at the UN Security Council, has proven to be ineffective in providing security and stability to the international system and in dealing with the crisis.

Russia-Ukraine war has proven once again "our inability as the international community to deal with the crisis", according to Giannotta.

Source: Anadolu Agency

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German troops back to Bosnia as fear of instability grows

August 16, 2022

BERLIN: Germany has deployed troops with the European Union’s peacekeeping mission in Bosnia for the first time in a decade as concerns mount instability from the Ukraine war could spread to the Western Balkans.

On Tuesday, the first German troops to return to the country were greeted in a ceremony at the Sarajevo headquarters of the EUFOR force that marked the start of their mission, a German military spokesman said.

Germany will deploy some 30 troops in total to Bosnia by mid-September, returning to the force that it had left at the end of 2012.

Bosnia is hundreds of miles from the fighting in Ukraine but faces an increasingly assertive Bosnian Serb separatist movement that analysts say has at least tacit support from Moscow.

NATO and senior EU officials have warned that instability from the war in Ukraine could spread to the Western Balkans.

Only days after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the EU decided to almost double the size of its EUFOR peacekeeping force to 1,100 from 600 troops by sending in reserves to stave off potential instability.

During a visit to the northern town of Novi Grad on Tuesday, Bosnian Serb separatist leader Milorad Dodik said German troops are not welcome, referring to Germany’s role in the World War Two. Dodik has previously said he regretted agreeing as a member of the state presidency to extend the mandate of EUFOR.

EUFOR’s mandate runs out in November, and it is up to the UN Security Council to decide whether to extend it for another year. Concerns are growing in the West that Moscow might use its veto to prevent an agreement.

The Russian embassy in Bosnia in a statement on its website decried “unacceptable references” to the impact of events in Ukraine on the situation in Bosnia and said EUFOR itself had described the situation as peaceful and stable in its last report to the UN Security Council.

“The narrative about the need to expand the EUFOR military personnel, including the German troops, is unfounded,” it said.

The statement added that some Western states, primarily the United States and Britain, were preparing the ground for a “crawling NATO-ization” of Bosnia.

EUFOR replaced NATO peacekeeping troops in Bosnia in 2004.

Source: Arab News

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Zelensky, Erdogan and Guterres to meet in Ukraine on Thursday

August 16, 2022

ANKARA: Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan will pay a one-day working visit to Lviv on August 18, 2022, upon the invitation of the president of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky.

According to a statement made by the Presidency's Directorate of Communications, all aspects of the strategic partnership-level Turkiye-Ukraine relations will be evaluated during President Erdogan's meetings with his Ukrainian counterpart.

During the visit, it is also expected that a trilateral meeting will be held with the participation of Zelenskiy and United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres.

At the meeting, the steps that can be taken to end the Ukraine-Russia war through diplomatic means, by increasing the activities of the mechanism established for the export of Ukrainian grain to the world markets, will be discussed, according to the statement.

Three Black Sea ports were unblocked last month under a deal between Moscow and Kyiv, brokered by the United Nations and Turkey, making it possible to send hundreds of thousands of tonnes of Ukrainian grain to buyers. The United Nations said the deal aims to ease a worsening global food crisis

The situation at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant will also be discussed according to UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric.

Ukraine and Russia have blamed each other for shelling near the eastern Ukraine nuclear plant, which Russian forces took over in the early stages of their Feb. 24 invasion. The plant is still being operated by Ukrainian technicians.

Source: Arab News

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UN won’t reinstate official transferred for criticizing Islamic Jihad rocket fire


August 17, 2022

The United Nations said Tuesday that a senior official in East Jerusalem who was removed from her position after condemning Palestinian Islamic Jihad will remain in a new location, despite Israel calling to reinstate her.

Sarah Muscroft, the head of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, was removed from her post last week after she condemned the Palestinian terror group’s conduct during the recent Gaza conflict.

Her tweet criticizing the PIJ for “indiscriminate rocket fire” sparked an uproar among Palestinian supporters.

Israeli Ambassador to the UN Gilad Erdan on Sunday called on UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to reverse the decision to transfer her out of her position.

But a UN spokesperson told The Times of Israel Tuesday that Muscroft will remain in a new position despite Erdan’s request.

“She’s been reassigned to a different post. I don’t know where that post yet is,” the spokesperson said. “Her location of work has been changed. That was the decision taken by our Humanitarian Affairs office.”

In her post, Muscroft wrote she was “relieved to see a ceasefire agreed ending hostilities impacting both Palestinians and Israeli civilians. Such indiscriminate rocket fire of Islamic Jihad provoking Israeli retaliation is condemned. The safety of all civilians is paramount — the ceasefire must be upheld.”

Muscroft, who had been based in East Jerusalem, came under massive criticism from pro-Palestinian activists, who said she was blaming Palestinians for the latest round of violence and was failing to hold Israel responsible.

The latest Gaza conflict began with several Israeli airstrikes against Islamic Jihad targets in response to what the army said was a concrete terror threat from a PIJ cell to fire anti-tank missiles across the border at Israeli troops or civilians. The strikes were followed by the firing of nearly 1,000 rockets by PIJ as well as roughly 170 Israeli counterstrikes.

Muscroft later deleted the post and tweeted an apology the next day, saying that “one of my previous tweets was ill-informed and I have deleted it. I sincerely apologize for my poor judgment. All civilians — everywhere — must be able to live in peace.”

The turmoil did not subside though, and Muscroft went on to close her Twitter account entirely.

Explaining the decision to remove Muscroft, OCHA deputy spokesman Jens Laerke said at the time, “OCHA has been present in the occupied Palestinian territory for the past 20 years, working to help meet humanitarian needs, guided by the humanitarian principles of neutrality, impartiality, and humanity. Over two million people in the occupied Palestinian territory need assistance — they remain our only focus and priority.”

The OCHA has in the past been highly critical of Israeli policies in the West Bank and East Jerusalem.

Last week, the Hamas-run health ministry in Gaza said the death toll from the recent round of fighting in Gaza had risen to 48, after a man and an 11-year-old girl died from wounds sustained during the violence.

In all, more than 300 Palestinians were wounded over the three days of fighting. Israel says some of the deaths and injuries were caused by PIJ rockets that fell short and landed inside Gaza.

Source: Times Of Israel

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Why US envoys allowed to visit sensitive areas, questions Shireen Mazari

Ikram Junaidi

August 17, 2022

ISLAMABAD: After criticising the visit of US Ambassador Donald Blome to Landikotal and Torkham border last week, Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) Senior Vice President Dr Shireen Mazari on Tuesday said Mr Blome’s meeting with officials of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) government and the chief minister was not a big deal.

However, she questioned under which contract US ambassadors visit sensitive areas while no Pakistani diplomat can go to any sensitive area in other countries.

The party, which criticised the meeting of US embassy officials with parliamentarians during its tenure, has been facing criticism over the contradiction in its stances towards the US.

Addressing a press conference here on Tuesday, Dr Mazari alleged that the US had conspired to remove the well-performing PTI government through the local collaborators.

Says Washington conspired to remove well-performing PTI govt through local collaborators

She said the American ambassador was holding meetings with the provincial and federal governments. Under which agreement, he was allowed to visit the Pak-Afghan border, she asked.

Lashing out at the government for allegedly torturing party leader Shahbaz Gill, Dr Mazari demanded that sedition cases should also be filed against Nawaz Sharif, Maryam Nawaz, Asif Ali Zardari, Ayaz Sadiq and Khawaja Asif as their statements were more alarming and dangerous.

She alleged that Shehbaz Gill’s body had signs of torture, claiming he was stripped naked and tortured.

She stated that if Mr Gill did anything unlawful, the law should take its course, but first he must be given a chance of fair trial to prove his innocence.

“If someone is accused of contravening law of the land or violating Constitution, he must be given a fair trial to defend himself so court can decide and give justice,” she added.

The PTI leader lamented that it was horrific to first abduct him, register an FIR and then tortured him. Shahbaz Gill’s body showed severe marks of torture, she added.

Talking about the prohibited funding case against the PTI, she said the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) and the chief election commissioner (CEC) were working on a completely biased approach as the Supreme Court and the Islamabad High Court had clear directions to decide all the cases simultaneously.

Coming down hard on the government for increasing petrol prices, she said the government of “thieves” dropped another petrol bomb that would further augment the miseries of the inflation-ridden and pervert-stricken masses. She advised [PML-N leader] Maryam Nawaz to stop staging a drama on petrol prices.

PTI delegation meets Gill in jail

A seven-member parliamentary delegation of the PTI visited Adiala jail on Tuesday and met Dr Shahbaz Gill. They expressed serious concern over alleged police torture on him.

Source: Dawn

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Gunmen kill two policemen escorting polio workers in Pakistan

Aug 16, 2022

PESHAWAR: Gunmen riding on motorcycles opened fire on Tuesday on police escorting a team of polio workers in northwestern Pakistan, killing two policemen, authorities said.

None of the polio workers were harmed, said Mohammad Imran, a local police official. The four polio workers and their police escort were all traveling on motorcycles.

The assailants fled the scene and no one immediately claimed responsibility for the attack in the town of Gomal, in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province bordering Afghanistan.

The attack came on the second day of Pakistan's latest anti-polio campaign in the province. Pakistan has registered 14 new polio cases since April, all from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province.

The outbreak has been a blow to the Islamic nation's efforts to eradicate the disease, which can cause severe paralysis in children.

Pakistan's anti-polio campaigns are regularly marked by violence as Islamic militants often target polio teams and police protecting them, falsely claiming that the vaccination campaigns are a Western conspiracy to sterilize children.

Source: Times Of India

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China wants military outposts in Pakistan to safeguard its investments

Aug 17, 2022

ISLAMABAD: Having made significant investments in the conflict-prone Pakistan-Afghanistan region as part of its hugely ambitious Belt and Road Initiative, China is planning to protect its interests in the two countries by stationing its own forces in specially created outposts, according to top diplomatic sources.

China has been keen to expand its influence to central Asia through the Pakistan-Afghanistan route and has made strategic investments in the two countries.

Pakistan, where according to some estimates the Chinese investments have risen above USD 60 billion, is largely dependent on China not only for financial but also military and diplomatic support.

Given the huge imbalance of power in its favour, China has begun to put pressure on Pakistan to allow building of outposts where it would station its armed personnel.

Afghanistan, where Taliban are ruling now, however, is yet to meet the expectations of both China as well as Pakistan on many counts.

Top diplomatic and security sources in Islamabad who requested anonymity for this report, believe that China's People Liberation Army is working at a war scale to establish military outposts in Afghanistan and Pakistan for what it claims would be smoother operations and expansion of its Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).

According to a diplomatic source, the Chinese Ambassador Nong Rong has held meetings with Pakistani Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto and Chief of Army General Qamar Javed Bajwa in this regard.

Ambassador Rong has not been in Pakistan since the end of March 2022 this year, only just arrived recently in the country.

However, the meeting in which he demanded the creation of outposts for Chinese forces was perhaps the first formal meeting of ambassador Rong with the new government and state representatives.

The Chinese ambassador has been continuously insisting on the security of Chinese projects and the safety of its citizens, the source informed.

China has already demanded security outposts in Gwadar and also for using the Gwadar International Airport for its fighter jets.

The facility that can be used for military purposes is soon going to be operational as revealed from its fencing, another top source revealed.

However, the issue has its own sensitive dimensions as the Pakistani people may not be comfortable with a heavy Chinese military presence in the country.

There have been fears that the country is already in a debt-trap-like situation and that Chinese tactics could leave it no better than a colony.

On Afghanistan, both China and Pakistan have their own set of concerns. After the Taliban's take-over both Pakistan and China were expecting unquestioning cooperation from the landlocked nation. However, this has not materialised fully.

One of the foremost demands of the Pakistanis was that they wanted to keep the Indians out of Afghanistan. But the Kandahar-based Taliban have not too much of a liking for Pakistan that would allow it to call the shots.

The Taliban have been keen on an independent foreign policy including on ties with India. Even Mullah Yaqub, the Taliban defence minister, has suggested military training in India.

However, this was not the only area where Pakistan expected the new Afghan government to comply with its wishes.

Taliban and especially the groups affiliated to the Haqqanis were expected to facilitate the destruction of the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan and hand over wanted militants to the Pakistani army.

The Haqqanis soon made it clear that they would not comply. The reason being that the Kandaharis and some of TTP leaders shared the same ancestral background. Left with no choice, the Pakistani army has had to engage in complex ceasefire talks with the TTP.

The new Afghan government was also supposed to recognise the Durand Line as an international border. Pakistan had erected a wire fence at considerable expense in recent years, but within weeks the Taliban and TTP were cutting the wire and laying claim to the FATA region of Pakistan.

According to a source, Pakistan's Chief of Army Staff, General Bajwa, had already nursed anxieties about a Taliban takeover, but he was opposed by his intelligence chief Faiz Hamid and by powerful Corps Commanders.

China also has viewed the developments in Afghanistan with some concern. The Chinese have their own set of worries. The Taliban and Haqqanis show no interest in handing over Uyghur insurgents to the Chinese authorities.

China also considers them not serious towards the development of its BRI network in the Afghanistan. China wants access to central Asia and Europe through the CPEC and Afghanistan, the diplomatic source said.

There are concerns in Beijing that Uyghur extremists may have started collaborating with Balochi groups and the TTP to undermine the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).

There have been a number of attacks inside Pakistan in which Chinese citizens have been targeted, including the bomb blast in Quetta in April 2021 which the Chinese Ambassador narrowly escaped.

A year later, a Balochi suicide bomber killed three Chinese citizens near Karachi's Confucius Institute. It was precisely these incidents that led to a renewal of Chinese pressure on deploying their own security to Pakistan - a demand which Pakistan has repeatedly refused.

According to the sources, China wants to expand its strategic role in Pakistan by deploying its own security personnel to protect its projects and citizens there.

The source also said that China was keen to invest in Afghanistan and wants to expand its BRI project, so Beijing needs to secure Pakistan and Afghanistan with its military outposts.

China has reminded Pakistan of its history of giving outposts to America and other countries during the Cold War. Currently, China has heavily invested in Pakistan and the demand of the arrangement for the outpost and security is getting serious with passage of time.

Pakistan has to pay 300 billion Pakistani rupees to Chinese firms, and these companies have already threatened Pakistan to shut down power plants if unpaid dues will not be cleared, according to sources in the know.

Bostan Industrial Zone, Gwadar Port, Special Zone-I and Zone-II; some patrolling units on CPEC's western alignment which cover Awaran, Khuzdar, Hoshab and Turbat areas; Mohmand Marble City (SEZ) near Mohmand Agency and Sost Dry-Port & Moqpondass Special Economic Zone in Gilgit-Baltistan are the major Chinese projects running in Pakistan.

On one side, Pakistan is trapped in the debt-trap diplomacy of China, while on the other hand, the Chinese administration is constantly reminding them that they do not have trust in the Pakistani security apparatus.

Pakistan does not want to annoy China from whom it repeatedly takes financial aid. However, the acceptance of the demand would not only dent its global image further it could also lead to domestic complications, conclude sources who requested anonymity for this report due to their proximity to decision makers in the country.

Source: Times Of India

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Pak PM likely to take decision on next Army chief's appointment by mid-September: Report

Aug 16, 2022

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif could initiate discussions on the appointment of the next Army chief to replace General Qamar Javed Bajwa by the end of August, and take a decision by mid-September, according to a media report on Tuesday.

Appointed in 2016, the current Chief of Army Staff Gen Bajwa, 61, is set to retire in the last week of November.

The army chief's appointment is meant to be for three years, but Gen Bajwa was given an additional three-year term in 2019 after some political drama. Then-prime minister Imran Khan had given him an extension in August, but the Supreme Court later demanded a legislation on the re-appointment of the services chiefs.

Pakistan's Parliament complied in January 2020, allowing the prime minister to extend the tenure of services chiefs at his discretion. The legislation had, however, fixed 64 as the age at which a service chief must be retired.

Gen Bajwa can therefore be eligible for another term. This technicality had led to speculation that the incumbent may be seeking or interested in another extension. But according to a military source, Gen Bajwa has communicated to those around him that he will retire in November, the report said.

Inter-Services Public Relations, too, has confirmed that the chief is, indeed, retiring.

A senior Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) leader, who is a member of the federal Cabinet has hinted that Prime Minister Sharif could initiate discussions on the appointment of the next Army chief by the end of August, and pos-s-ibly take a decision by mid-September, the Dawn newspaper reported.

The general perception is that he will consult his allies in the ruling coalition before making a final call.

A source in the Pakistan Peoples Party, however, suggested that the party may not want to get involved as it is the prime minister's prerogative to make the decision.

According to Article 243(3) of the Constitution, the president appoints the services chiefs on the recommendation of the prime minister.

The tradition is that General Headquarters (GHQ) sends a list of the four to five senior-most lieutenant-generals, along with their personnel files, to the Ministry of Defence, which then forwards them to the prime minister to pick the officer he finds best suited to the role.

The credentials of the generals are then deliberated either at the Prime Minister's Office or in the cabinet. The matter comes down to the prime minister's 'informal consultation' with the outgoing army chief, his own perceptions and his discussions with his closest advisors, the report said.

Four of the six top Lt-Gens at the time of Gen Bajwa's retirement will be from the same batch, while a fifth is senior to almost the entire lot, the report said.

Lt Gen Sahir Shamshad Mirza and Lt Gen Azhar Abbas are among the six potential frontrunners who can replace Gen Bajwa as the next chief of Pakistan's Army, according to the report.

Lt-Gen Mirza is the senior-most amongst the four candidates belonging to the same batch. He hails from the Sindh Regiment; the same parent unit as the outgoing CJCSC, Gen Nadeem Raza.

Lt-Gen Abbas is the most experienced in Indian affairs among the current brass.

Currently, he is the chief of general staff (CGS), effectively running the army with direct oversight of both operations and intelligence directorates at GHQ.

Prior to that, he commanded the Rawalpindi-based but Kashmir-centric and politically-significant X Corps, which indicates that he enjoys the complete trust of the present Army chief.

It was during his time as commander X Corps that the Indian and Pakistani armies reached an understanding on respecting the 2003 ceasefire agreement along the Line of Control, and it was Lt-Gen Abbas's job to ensure compliance on it, the report said.

Source: Times Of India

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Professor shot dead in Quetta, body of lawyer found in Bostan

August 17, 2022

QUETTA: Unidentified armed men shot dead a professor of Government College of Physical Education in Nawan Killi area here on Tuesday.

According to police, Prof Muhammad Ali Nasar was passing through Nawan Killi bazaar, a locality on the outskirts of Quetta, when armed men on a motorcycle opened fire, killing him on the spot. The assailants fled from the area after the attack.

Police reached the area after learning about the incident and took the body of the professor to Civil Hospital.

In another incident, the body of a missing lawyer was found in Bostan area of Pishin district. According to the police, lawyer Saddam Khan had gone missing two days ago.

“The body of Advocate Saddam Khan was found in Bostan area of Pishin district,” police said, adding that he was shot dead as marks of bullets were visible on his body.

Police shifted the body to Civil Hospital. It was later handed over to his family members. As the news of the incident spread, a large number of lawyers reached the hospital.

Source: Dawn

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Pakistan to play ‘positive role’ to eliminate differences between China, US: PM

August 16, 2022

Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif has offered Pakistan’s services as a mediator to bring together US and China as it did decades ago.

The prime minister in an interview to international media said: “If China and the US so desire, Pakistan would be happy to play a positive role to bridge their differences, as we had done in the past.”

The interview revolved around national, regional and global issues and focused in particular on the role Pakistan could play in “preventing the world from sliding into an ever deeper set of crises”, as put by the publication.

PM Shehbaz characterised Pakistan’s foreign policy as one of “friendliness and goodwill towards all the nations of the world”.

“Pakistan has traditionally maintained good relations with China and the United States. Historically, it was Pakistan that acted as a bridge in opening up the relationship between the United States and the Peoples’ Republic of China,” he said.

The premier said that Pakistan has always underscored the need to avoid a confrontational approach. “Bloc politics and any drift towards cold war will not produce any positive results, and in fact would be counterproductive for growth and stability,” he stressed.

“Pakistan strongly believes that inter-state relations should be based on mutual respect and peaceful resolution of disputes by upholding the principles of the UN charter and international law,” he added.

To a question on what it could mean for Pakistan and the rest of the world, if nations were asked to choose sides, especially given the close ties Pakistan and China enjoy, PM Shehbaz said that while the relationship may be “very special”, Pakistan and the US “have also maintained a longstanding historic bilateral relationship which covers all issues of mutual interest”.

“The world can ill-afford descent into another era of Cold War or bloc politics. I believe polarisation would have serious consequences for the global economy afflicted by the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and the Ukraine crisis,” the premier told Newsweek.

He said developing countries, like Pakistan, are “already suffering from external shocks to their socio-economic well-being, and do not desire aggravation of these challenges induced by major power rivalry”.

On the subject of relations with the US and their planned trajectory, PM Shehbaz said that Pakistan has instituted dialogues in the areas of health, energy, climate, investment and trade.

“These dialogues are playing an important role in strengthening our bilateral ties. Most recently, we held the Health Dialogue with the US, which will help facilitate more bilateral cooperation in the health sector. We also hope for the Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA) Ministerial level meeting this year,” he said.

He also spoke of bilateral trade and commercial ties, saying that Pakistan has had high-level visits from the US to explore these ties. “Some of the US companies are doing extremely well in Pakistan, and there are growing trade and commercial ties between the two counties, with a lot more potential to achieve,” he said.

He urged US companies to “invest in Pakistan’s lucrative market and enhance commercial ties, particularly in its growing IT sector”.

“There is a strong Pakistani diaspora in the US that is acting as a bridge to deepen the ties between our two countries and the people,” he added.

Speaking of one year of Taliban rule in Afghanistan and what can be done to support the Afghan people amid a precarious humanitarian and economic situation, the premier said: “Our message to the international community would be to remain engaged, continue to assist the interim government in key social and economic areas, and unfreeze Afghanistan’s financial assets to help build a sustainable economy.”

He said that in the meanwhile, Pakistan will “continue to impress upon the interim Afghan government the importance of taking demonstrable actions on its commitments including those relating to inclusivity, respect for human rights of all Afghans, including girls’ education, and effective counter-terrorism action”.

PM Shehbaz also spoke of taking over from his predecessor, Imran Khan, saying that under the current regime, if viewed in terms of the vote cast in the 2018 elections, “the political parties that are part of the coalition government represent 70 percent of the electorate”.

“The present government is truly national in nature,” he remarked.

On the road map ahead, he said that the coalition government is “working on an agreed-upon national agenda of economic reform and stabilisation”, which he termed the country’s “topmost priority”.

“We are also focusing on making governance efficient and service-oriented, besides improving Pakistan’s relations with friendly countries on the basis of our mutual interests,” he added.

The premier laid emphasis on the need to understand that Pakistan is a “young democracy”. “We need time to evolve and mature as a democratic polity. The political evolution always comes with a cost,” he explained.

“Honestly speaking, for democracy to function effectively, the political parties that come to power will have to improve their delivery. A political system can only be strengthened and strike deep roots when it is owned by the people at large, which in turn is possible through efficient public service delivery. Performance in office alone can provide longevity to the public office holders,” he said.

Source: Pakistan Today

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