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Islamic World News ( 29 Apr 2023, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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How German Conservatives Are Waging A Crusade Against Muslim Civil Society In The Name Of Fighting The Spectre Of "Political Islamism"

New Age Islam News Bureau

29 April 2023

 

The leader of the Christian Social Union (CSU) party, Markus Soeder (L), and Germany's Christian Democratic Union leader, Friedrich Merz, at the CSU congress in Augsburg, Germany, on 29 October 2022 (AFP)

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Europe

WWE Writers Pitched 'Racist' Stories On Muslims, 9/11, Black Wrestler In Cage, Says Plaintiff

Sheffield mosque plans revamp after 30 years at former chapel

The Muslim brotherhood’s influence in Europe

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South Asia

The Taliban Not Invited To UN Doha Meeting On Afghanistan: UN

Bangladeshis in Sudan to be brought back via Jeddah: foreign ministry

5 Children Killed in Mine Explosion in Afghanistan’s Maidan Wardak

Foreign Ministry of Afghanistan Denies The UN Security Council’s Call to Lift Restriction on Women

Secretary Blinken’s Meeting with UN Secretary-General, Calls for Inclusive Govt in Afghanistan

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Arab World

Photos of Makkah Grand Mosque shot by Saudi writer and her artist daughter speak volumes

Dominican Republic gives backing to Saudi Arabia Expo 2030 bid

Saudi commissions showcase Kingdom’s heritage in Paris

GCC, Azerbaijan vow to boost cooperation

Saudi Arabia participates in ILO discussion on World Day for Safety and Health at Work

Saudi Shoura Council visits Swedish parliament, meets committees

OCHA donor group headed by KSA holds 5th meeting in Geneva

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North America

CAIR-NJ Celebrates Signing of Muslim Heritage Month Resolution into Law

US: Muslim College Students Enraged Over Invite Of Controversial Muslim Personality, Daniel Haqiqatjou

Muslims express confidence, concerns in the wake of Minneapolis mosque arsons

MCC Academy Makes History As First Muslim School To Win Regional Volleyball Finals

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Mideast

Hazem Tahsin Bey, Yazidi Emir Condemns Attack on Mosque in Sinjar District, Rejects Violence Against Religious Sanctities

KRG Condemns Mosque Attack in Sinjar, Reaffirms Commitment to Coexistence

Saudi Arabia, Iran to reopen embassies ‘within days’: Minister

Iran’s Top Sunni Cleric Calls for Impartial Courts and Labour Rights

Bosniak Muslim, who set off on foot from Europe for Hajj, reaches Iraq

Turkey’s pro-Kurdish party backs Erdogan’s rival for president

Turkey’s leader Erdogan cancels third day of election appearances

Iraqi forces dismiss reports of Mosque attack in the Yazidi Sinjar city

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India

After Kanpur Several Charged In Aligarh For Offering Namaz Outside Two Mosques On Eid

The Story Behind Rock star Rupam Islam’s Bhajans From The Vedas

Tension In Olpad Town Of Surat After Muslim Man Accused Of Kidnapping Hindu Minor Girl While She Returns Home The Next Day

Chrisann Pereira case: Drug accused planned revenge after watching video on narcotics laws in Islamic nations

India Urges Shanghai Cooperation Group to Fight Terrorism

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Australia and New Zealand

Australian Arrested, Accused Of Spitting In Imam’s Face In Indonesian Mosque

Aucklanders Invited by Ahmadiyya  Muslims To 'Meet Your Muslim Neighbour' Before Judging

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Africa

Sudan Fighting: No Talks Until Bombing Stops, Hemedti Tells BBC

Tinubu, Shettima’s Lives In Danger, Muslim Group Raises The Alarm

Tinubu joins Buhari, other faithful to perform Juma’at prayer at Aso Rock Mosque

Zimbabwe opposition party leader jailed

Senegal: Nine army veterans who fought for France return

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Southeast Asia

Indonesian Military Builds Six Church Bell Towers In Papua

I’m not the enemy, I want to develop Kedah, says PM

Zahid slams ‘inappropriate comments’ on Najib pardon bid

Regional autonomy aims to realize fiscal independence: home minister

TNI to evacuate remaining Indonesians from Port Sudan on Friday

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Pakistan

Parvez Elahi Booked On Terror Charges Following ‘Attack’ On Law Enforcers During Late-Night Raid

Cash-Strapped Pakistan Urges US To Restore Military Funding: Report

COAS says army determined to ‘solidify’ bond with people, defeat enemy’s attempt to ‘drive a wedge’

US fears vulnerability may force Pakistan deeper into debt

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau

URL:  https://newageislam.com/islamic-world-news/german-crusade-muslim-society-islamism/d/129670

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How German Conservatives Are Waging A Crusade Against Muslim Civil SocietyIn The Name Of Fighting The Spectre Of "Political Islamism"

 

The leader of the Christian Social Union (CSU) party, Markus Soeder (L), and Germany's Christian Democratic Union leader, Friedrich Merz, at the CSU congress in Augsburg, Germany, on 29 October 2022 (AFP)

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Farid Hafez

28 April 2023

It was one of the latest initiatives of the German conservatives in the midst of the election campaign in 2021: a crusade against organised Muslims in the name of fighting the spectre of "political Islamism".

After losing the election and withdrawing from the government following a 16-year tenure, the Christian Democratic Union not only continues to support anti-Muslim policies but has doubled down on this stance.

In a position paper published in April 2021 and dedicated to fighting what has been dubbed "political Islam", the party proposed to harden its stance towards surveilling, limiting, and potentially cracking down on Muslim civil society. Members on the party's European, national, and regional levels are promoting anti-Muslim stances.

The more recent trends are even more worrying.

After a coalition between the Social Democrats, the Greens and the Liberals formed a new government in December 2021, a pilot project of the Christian Democratic parties, the Christian Democratic Union for Germany (CDU) and the Christian Social Union (CSU) - the establishment of the "Expert Group on Political Islamism" - was not renewed.

The group, launched by the Ministry of Interior, included proponents of anti-Muslim policies such as Mouhanad Khorchide, who is simultaneously serving the Austrian Documentation Centre Political Islam and has embraced the authoritarian discourse of Egypt.

The group's focus was initially to conduct research and analyse so-called "political Islam", a notion that is not only very vague but has also served to legitimise the targeting and repression of Muslim civil society.

Targeting Muslim civil society

While some parliament members opted to bring an end to this group, it was not long before several of its members, such as Susanne Schroter and Khorchide, alongside other anti-Muslim authors like Heiko Heinisch, protested loudly in the media to no avail.

As a last resort, the centre-right CDU/CSU, which had launched the expert group, initiated a debate in Germany's national parliament, the Bundestag.

On 16 March, the CDU/CSU, along with the notorious anti-Muslim and far-right Alternative for Germany, AfD, proposed a motion for the reinstatement of the expert group. The AfD had come to power as a belated successful anti-Muslim political party following the footsteps of parties such as France's National Rally, previously known as National Front, and Austria's Freedom Party.

During the parliamentary debate, Matthias Hauer of the Christian Union parties argued that "radical states such as Qatar and Saudi Arabia finance Islamism here in Germany during a time when brave people in Iran fight for their freedom from Islamism".

Similarly, MP Christoph de Vries warned of Qatar and called to dry up funding for so-called "Islamism". The CDU/CSU had already pushed for more control of Muslim organisations, lamenting that "authorities have insufficient powers with regard to financial activities in the field of non-violent Islamism and that it is almost impossible to detect financing from abroad under the existing framework conditions".

In the past, the CDU/CSU had applauded the now former Austrian chancellor, Sebastian Kurz, who had implemented the Islam Act, which aimed at stricter financial oversight of all religious Muslim organisations and vowed to outlaw "political Islam".

Witch-hunt

Most importantly, when these politicians speak of Islamism, they do not mean a fringe group of Muslims, but the vast majority of religiously organised Muslims.

The annual report of Germany's intelligence service, the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution, has shown over the past two decades that a majority of Muslim organisations are included in this category of Islamism, suggesting that "they present themselves outwardly as open, tolerant and open to dialogue" while "anti-democratic and totalitarian tendencies continue to exist within the organisations".

In addition, the police forces, in general, have come under scrutiny after it was revealed that 17 percent of police personnel support openly racist statements such as "the many Muslims sometimes make me feel like a stranger in my own country" and "I would have problems with Sinti [a Romani group] and Roma being in my area".

This is not to speak of the structural challenges that such views of organised Muslims would present. In this vein, during the parliamentary deliberations, MP Christian Wirth (AfD) argued that 74 percent of all mosques belong to "political Islamism", clearly showing that this campaign is aimed at a large segment of organised Muslims in Germany.

Members of the governing coalition such as Lamya Kaddor of the Greens countered the CDU/CSU, saying that they want "Muslims without Islam" and calling attention to their silence in March on the United Nations International Day Against Islamophobia.

Besides the call for reinstating the expert group and pushing for more financial control and surveillance, the AfD even called for funding and establishing chairs for research and teaching courses on "political Islam" at public universities and academic institutions. Such an invention would only further entrench and institutionalise the witch-hunt against practising Muslims. This is again one of the recommendations that were initially presented in the CDU/CSU's position paper back in 2021.

While the current German federal government is not following in the footsteps of the CDU/CSU's policies targeting Muslim civil society, parties on the right are closing ranks. In regard to anti-Muslim policies, there is an increasing proximity of the centre-right CDU/CSU and the far-right AfD.

The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Eye.

Source: middleeasteye.net

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https://www.middleeasteye.net/opinion/germany-conservatives-crusade-muslim-civil-society

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 Govt Report Urges Army To Recruit More Minority Faith Groups, Particularly British-Born Muslims 28th

 

The British army in Afghanistan. Editorial credit: timsimages.uk / Shutterstock.com

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April 2023

The Bloom Review, published earlier this week, said that the government and UK Armed Forces (UKAF) should review recruitment campaigns, future recruitment contracts and HR policies to ensure that more minority faith groups, particularly British-born Muslims, are recruited and retained.

Currently Muslims account for just 0.4% of UK Regular Forces, though they make up 6.5% of the UK population according to the 2021 Census.

There are approximately 146,000 people currently serving under full operational command structures (Royal Navy, British Army, and Royal Air Force Regular Forces).

It is believed that Muslims are reluctant to join the army because of its record of waging war on Muslim nations over the past few decades, especially Iraq and Afghanistan, which resulted in hundreds of thousands of deaths, if not more.

The Bloom Review said: “The UK Armed Forces is not only one of the biggest employers in the UK, but it is also a symbol that proclaims and protects British values at home and abroad. Through its recruitment strategies, it has the potential to play an important role in advancing community integration and cohesion across diverse communities…

“The UKAF is a source of immense pride to the nation and projects the very best of British values to the world. However, those feelings of pride are not shared by every community in the UK. Addressing the barriers which prevent British citizens feeling able to join the UKAF is also essential if Britain is to cultivate a genuine sense of inclusion and belonging among minority faith communities.

“While there have been minor improvements in recent years, the under-representation of Muslims, Hindus, Sikhs and Jews in the UKAF compared to the general population remains a concern and should be addressed urgently. This is important for building a diverse and dynamic fighting force that represents the diversity of the society it protects.”

The number of Hindus, Buddhists and those following smaller faiths in the Regular Forces have increased in recent years, but the number of Muslim personnel in the Regular Forces has not seen significant change.

Following the launch of the British Army’s This is Belonging campaign in 2018, there was a significant jump in the number of British-born Muslims applying to join the UKAF – increasing from 330 applications in 2017 to 1,500 in 2018.

But the increase in applications doesn’t appear to have filtered down into the number of British Muslims serving in the UKAF, with a minor increase in the number of serving Muslims (from 0.4% to 0.5%) appearing in 2022.

And while more than 2,000 applications were made from British-born Muslims between 2016 and 2018 to join the UK Regular Forces, only 30 recruits completed their training during this period, and 30 British-born Muslims left the UKAF after completing their minimum terms.

The report said it is particularly important that “the UKAF works with British Muslim communities to identify and overcome whatever recruitment barriers exist and increase the number of British Muslims joining the UKAF.”

It said: “Interestingly, in 2015 a former adviser to the British Army on Syrian affairs noted that there was reportedly reluctance within some British Muslim communities to join the UKAF on the assumption that the UK was waging war on the Islamic faith.

“The former adviser noted the value of involving Muslim military officials from partner countries at recruitment events in the UK to help bridge the gap between British Muslims’ perceptions and the reality of the UKAF’s activities, including partnering with Muslim or Muslim-majority countries in a global war on terrorism to prevent regional conflicts.”

Since 2000, the British Armed Forces have been involved in several interventions in Muslim-majority nations, leading to the destabilisation of regions and significant civilian casualties.

In 2001, the British army joined the U.S.-led coalition to invade Afghanistan after the 9/11 attacks. The UK’s involvement in the conflict continued until 2014, with British forces mainly stationed in Helmand province.

In 2003, the British Armed Forces joined the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq. The UK’s involvement continued until 2009, with British forces mainly stationed in Basra.

In 2011, the British Armed Forces were involved in the NATO-led intervention in Libya. The UK mainly provided air support and logistics for the operation, which led to the overthrow of Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi.

And since 2014, the British army has been involved in the international coalition fighting against ISIS in Syria. The UK’s involvement has been mainly through air strikes and training of local forces.

Source: 5pillarsuk.com

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https://5pillarsuk.com/2023/04/28/govt-report-urges-army-to-recruit-more-british-muslims/

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Islamic State Khorasan Province Is a Growing Threat in Afghanistan and Beyond

 

Photo: Noorullah Shirzada/AFP via Getty Images

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By Colin P. Clarke

April 29, 2023

The international community risks underestimating the threat posed by the Islamic State in Afghanistan, also known as Islamic State Khorasan Province (ISKP). Just this week it was revealed that the Taliban had killed the Islamic State militant believed to be the leader of the cell that orchestrated the suicide attack near Abbey Gate at Kabul’s airport in August 2021. That attack killed 13 U.S. servicemembers, as well as 169 Afghan civilians, and remains part of a broader inquiry by the U.S. Congress, where a series of hearings aims to investigate the disastrous U.S. withdrawal and its aftermath.

The Biden administration has attempted to assuage its critics by touting the efficacy of “over-the-horizon” counterterrorism strikes, relying on armed drones and intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) capabilities to target terrorist leaders. The killing of al-Qaida leader Ayman al-Zawahiri in July 2022 at a Haqqani guest house in Kabul is frequently cited as proof of concept. But that strike, impressive as it was for its lethal precision, is merely one data point. Offshore counterterrorism campaigns are complex and challenging even for a military as advanced as the United States.

The challenge posed by ISKP is far more complex than the Biden administration has acknowledged. The group has spread to nearly all of Afghanistan’s 34 provinces and boasts between 1,500-2,200 members. Since August 2021, the Islamic State’s Afghan affiliate has committed nearly 400 attacks in Afghanistan and Pakistan’s Khyber Pakhtunkhwa region. Within Afghanistan, ISKP has relentlessly attacked the Shia Hazara community in an attempt to further its sectarian aims. The group has been behind some of the most heinous attacks in recent memory, including the bombing of a maternity ward in Kabul in May 2020 and another attack against an office of Save the Children in Jalalabad.

ISKP threatens Pakistan, Russia, and China in its propaganda, demonstrating its bona fides to other jihadist groups by expanding the target set beyond the West. ISKP sent suicide bombers to detonate at the Russian embassy in Kabul in September 2022; attacked the Pakistani embassy in Kabul in December 2022; and attacked the Kabul Longan Hotel, frequented by Chinese businessmen, also in December 2022.

Within Afghanistan, ISKP is more than a terrorist group, having evolved into a low-level yet persistent and deadly insurgency. At the same time, the group is building its capabilities to conduct spectacular attacks outside of Afghanistan. Last month in testimony before the U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee, CENTCOM commander Army General Michael Kurilla suggested that ISKP could be capable of conducting external operations “with little to no warning” in less than six months. While Kurilla was speaking primarily about the group’s ability to attack Europe or Asia, the intent to strike the United States remains, as evidenced by ISKP’s propaganda campaigns, which have threatened Americans with a 9/11-type attack.

The recent leak of classified intelligence documents sheds further light on ISKP’s growing ambitions. According to the leaked documents, Islamic State leaders in Afghanistan were involved in plotting as many as 15 attacks as recently as February, spanning a range of targets such as embassies and churches. Building upon the blueprint pioneered by the Islamic State’s core leadership in Iraq and Syria between 2014 and 2017, sometimes called the “virtual planner” model, this cost-effective approach relies on logistical and facilitation networks worldwide. There is precedent for ISKP seeking to launch high-profile attacks in the past. In April 2020, an ISKP cell was disrupted while plotting attacks against U.S. and NATO military bases in Germany.

Following the August 2021 withdrawal, the United States has no troops or contractors on the ground in Taliban-controlled Afghanistan. As result, “Our ability to monitor terrorist threats in Afghanistan has been significantly degraded by the withdrawal, and we are no longer able to conduct a sustained kinetic campaign against groups active there,” Ambassador Nathan Sales recently noted in testimony before the U.S. House Committee on Homeland Security. The United States has no eyes and ears in Afghanistan and is limited in its ability to assess just how dire the threat environment has become. Without actionable intelligence, it becomes nearly impossible to go on the offense against proliferating threats.

The U.S. military has kept up pressure on Islamic State leaders in Syria, maintaining an aggressive operational tempo with a combination of targeted raids and precision strikes. Elsewhere, including in Libya, Yemen, Somalia, the Sinai in Egypt, and Southeast Asia, the Islamic State’s affiliates have been weakened significantly. But Afghanistan has fallen off the radar and stands in stark juxtaposition to American capabilities in Syria, where the United States maintains a small but potent deployment of approximately 900 troops. Moreover, Western countries have little to no contact or information sharing with the Taliban, so are unable to gain an accurate sense of how the threat is manifesting, which groups are growing in strength, and the overall terrorism landscape in Afghanistan.

Despite significant setbacks for the Islamic State, its decentralized organizational structure has allowed its far-flung provinces to stay connected. In late January, U.S. Special Forces killed Islamic State financier Bilal al-Sudani near a cave complex in northern Somalia. Al-Sudani was alleged to have supplied funding to the ISKP cell that conducted the Abbey Gate attack. He also maintained financial linkages to Islamic State members in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Mozambique, and South Africa, among other countries.

The situation in Afghanistan is beginning to feel eerily similar to the pre-9/11 era, with the Taliban in control of the country and reunited with al-Qaida and the Haqqani Network. Within Afghanistan’s borders, a witch’s brew of terrorist and insurgent groups is metastasizing. The Taliban are actively fighting against Islamic State militants, but the Taliban have yet to demonstrate the same competence as a counterinsurgent force as they did as an insurgency. A scorched earth approach in Kunar and Nangarhar provinces has pushed some locals to join the Islamic State’s ranks rather than eliminating the threat.

While the Taliban’s General Directorate of Intelligence (GDI) is conducting more attacks and raids against ISKP strongholds, attenuating the group’s leadership, ISKP continues to spread. Some, including journalist and longtime Afghanistan watcher Lynne O’Donnell, argue that ISKP remains potent because the Taliban’s counterterrorism operations are more about targeting former members of the Afghan National Security Forces than dismantling ISKP. “The Taliban are using the cover of counterterrorism to mask systematic killings of former security service personnel,” she noted. While the Taliban and ISKP do clash on the battlefield, the latter is just one of many enemies of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan.

The longer ISKP is able to keep hanging around, replacing leadership losses and poaching disaffected Taliban fighters, the more brazen the group will become. Last year, ISKP terrorists in Afghanistan conducted cross-border rocket attacks against Tajikistan and Uzbekistan and one of its terrorist plots was foiled in India. Yet it could only be a matter of time before the jihadists marry intent with capability and move to successfully operationalize one of several planned attacks.

The United States must prioritize combating the ISKP before the group is able to achieve its stated desire to attack the U.S. homeland. At the moment, however, the U.S. national security community has transitioned from focusing on the global terrorist threat to great power competition with Russia and China. U.S. and Western support for Ukraine has allowed Kyiv to fight Moscow to a stalemate so far. But with the redistribution of personnel, financing, and policy bandwidth from counterterrorism to competing with nation-state near-peer adversaries, Western intelligence services are now asked to do a difficult job with fewer resources.

Source: thediplomat.com

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https://thediplomat.com/2023/04/islamic-state-khorasan-province-is-a-growing-threat-in-afghanistan-and-beyond/

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UAE Astronaut, Sultan Alneyadi, Exits International Space Station For First Arab Space Walk

 

Emeriti astronaut Sultan Alneyadi during an interview at the International Space Station on March 7, 2023. Photo: NASA via AP

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April 28, 2023

Dubai – Emirati astronaut Sultan Alneyadi stepped out of the International Space Station (ISS) Friday for the first space walk by an Arab astronaut, a moment touted by the UAE as a “milestone”.

Alneyadi, 41, dubbed the “Sultan of Space” by his alma mater, become the first Arab astronaut to embark on a six-month space mission when he blasted off for the ISS in early March aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket.

On Friday, he undertook “the first Arab spacewalk in history,” wearing a space suit that bears the Emirati flag, said the United Arab Emirates’ Mohammed bin Rashid Space Centre (MBRSC), calling it “a new historic milestone”.

Footage live-streamed by NASA showed the UAE astronaut exiting an ISS hatch.

“Sultan Alneyadi has egressed the hatch, the first ever space walk by an Arab astronaut,” NASA said.

The space walk will last for around six hours and thirty minutes, according to MBRSC and NASA.

Alongside NASA’s Stephen Bowen, Alneyadi will “change the Radio Frequency Group unit and prepare for the installation of solar panels,” the Emirati astronaut said in a Twitter post carried by the official WAM news agency.

NASA said the two astronauts will “route power cables to prepare for future power system upgrades outside the” ISS.

Alneyadi is the second man from the wealthy UAE to go to space, after Hazzaa al-Mansoori’s eight-day mission in 2019. He is the first Arab to embark on a long-duration space mission.

The UAE is a newcomer to the world of space exploration but quickly making its mark.

It sent an unmanned spacecraft to Mars in 2021, in the Arab world’s first interplanetary mission, and last year a rover to the Moon.

Earlier this week, the UAE-developed Rashid Moon rover was lost when Japanese start-up ispace’s Hakuto-R lunar lander apparently crashed on the Moon’s surface, ispace said on Wednesday.

Dubai’s ruler, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum quickly directed the MBRSC to begin work on a second rover dubbed Rashid 2.

Source: iraqinews.com

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https://www.iraqinews.com/arab-world-news/uae-astronaut-exits-iss-for-first-arab-space-walk/

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 Kansas Lawmaker Draws Backlash For Religious Conversion Comment To Muslim Constituent


By Bryan Grabauskas

28-04-23

TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - Kansas Senator Mark Steffen has drawn backlash after comments he made to a constituent of a different faith.

“Obviously not everybody’s from the same background, I’m a Muslim woman and there are people that are atheist,” Rija Nazir asked the lawmaker. “So, what do you say to those people that are against a more biblical approach to certain laws? How would you justify that?”

“Well, I’d be happy to convert you,” Sen. Steffen responded.

The Kansas Chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations released the audio Friday. CAIR-Kansas Chapter Board Chair Moussa Elbayoumy called the response inappropriate and condemned the idea that someone would have to convert their beliefs to receive representation from their elected official.

“While we respect the senator’s right to his own religious beliefs and convictions, it was totally inappropriate to imply that a Muslim constituent would need to convert to Christianity in order to receive representation from their elected official,” Elbayoumy said. “If this was an attempt at a joke, it was a bad joke. We encourage the senator to confirm his willingness to represent all his constituents equally, regardless of their faith, and then put his words into action.”

The Kansas Reflector reports Sen. Steffen originally denying the comment, stating the claim was ‘100 percent inaccurate.’ He pivoted Thursday, posting a message accusing the liberal media of attacking his faith.

Source: wibw.com

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https://www.wibw.com/2023/04/28/kansas-lawmaker-draws-backlash-religious-conversion-comment-muslim-constituent/

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Europe

WWE writers pitched 'racist' stories on Muslims, 9/11, Black wrestler in cage, says plaintiff

28 April, 2023

A former World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) writer is suing the company over allegedly racist material she said appeared in show scripts.

Britney Abrahams, who began writing for WWE's 'Smackdown!' and 'Monday Night Raw' shows in 2020, says the scripts contained "offensively racist and stereotypical jargon", according to a Brooklyn court filing on Monday.

Abrahams also alleges that WWE staff perpetuated racist stereotypes in meetings and the company's Slack channels.

Among the issues raised by Abrahams was a storyline allegedly mooted by lead writer Ryan Callahan, in which a Muslim wrestler called Mansoor admits to being behind the 9/11 attacks, according to the lawsuit.

In another pitch, it was suggested that a Black wrestler be held "captive in cages" while being "hunted" by white wrestler Shane Thorne, she claims.

The lawsuit says Abrahams' objections to Callahan's "racially motivated misconduct" were met with sarcasm.

"Oh, what? Is that a bad thing?" Callahan was quoted as saying to Abrahams in the court papers.

It was also suggested Nigerian-American wrestler Apollo Crews speak in a "stereotypical and exaggerated Nigerian accent", Abrahams alleged.

Abrahams and other writers escalated their complaints to Christine Lubrano, Senior Vice President of Creative Writing Operations for WWE.

However, Lubrano reportedly dismissed their concerns, saying: "Wacky things are said in the writer’s room all the time!"

Abrahams was sacked by WWE in 2022. She says she was fired for speaking up about her concerns.

WWE's official reason for firing Abrahams was that she took a WWE-branded chair home from an event, according to media reports.

Abrahams, who is Black, claims white male staff also took the chairs but were not sanctioned by WWE management.

Source: newarab.com

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https://www.newarab.com/news/wrestling-wwe-sued-racist-storylines-muslims-911

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Sheffield mosque plans revamp after 30 years at former chapel

By Molly Williams

28th Apr 2023

If approved by Sheffield Council, Jamiyat Tabligh Ul Islam Mosque, at 30 Bodmin Street, Attercliffe, which used to be a chapel, will build additional floor space for a new prayer facility, office space, bathrooms and male ablution area.

The two-storey extension will be made of brick to match the existing building and have a flat roof with a dome – which symbolises Allah’s universe and amplifies the prayer hall – and minaret – where the call to prayer is heard from.

In a statement provided with the plans, agents Inspire Planning Solutions, on behalf of the mosque, said these plans provided the opportunity to make a prayer space that more accurately faced qibla, the direction of the sacred shrine of the Kaaba in Mecca, Saudi Arabia, which Muslims face when praying.

They added: “Jamiyat Tablig Ul Islam Mosque is a valued local community mosque which has been serving the local Muslim resident population for many years.

“The centre is located within a diverse area of the city and is highly regarded within the neighbourhood for its good quality religious instruction and community services.

“The centre is looking to improve its existing offer through undertaking an extension and internal reconfiguration to better provide for its users.”

Source: thestar.co.uk

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https://www.thestar.co.uk/news/politics/sheffield-mosque-plans-revamp-after-30-years-at-former-chapel-4122935

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The Muslim brotherhood’s influence in Europe

29 April 2023

A French academic, Florence Bergeaud-Blackler, has been subjected to death threats by Islamists after publishing a book that critically examines the Muslim Brotherhood’s efforts to spread Islamism in Europe. The book has been widely praised for its scholarly approach, but also denounced as Islamophobic by some activists.

The Book’s Content

Bergeaud-Blackler’s book “The Brotherhood and its Networks: The Investigation” offers a comprehensive examination of the Muslim Brotherhood’s history, structure, doctrine, and strategies. The author presents evidence of the group’s infiltration into crucial institutions of the European Union and French academia, with the goal of spreading its ideology and creating an Islamic world. Bergeaud-Blackler provides detailed insights into the tactics employed by the Brotherhood and how it operates in Europe. The book is an essential resource for anyone seeking to understand the influence of the Muslim Brotherhood on European politics and society.

Media Coverage

Bergeaud-Blackler’s book on the Muslim Brotherhood has received significant media attention with positive reviews. Le Figaro, a center-right daily newspaper, praised it as “immensely meritorious”. Meanwhile, Le Point, a conservative news magazine, featured an interview with the author with the bold title “The Muslim Brotherhood’s Weapon is Subterfuge”. Marianne, a left-leaning news magazine, highlighted the group’s goal of making European society Sharia-compatible. The book has received widespread acclaim for its extensive examination of the Muslim Brotherhood’s past, ideology, framework, strategies, and infiltration into prominent EU institutions and French academic institutions.

Smear Campaign

Despite the critical acclaim of Bergeaud-Blackler’s book on the Muslim Brotherhood, the author has also been the target of a vicious smear campaign aimed at discrediting her work. A left-wing online investigative journal accused her of “demonizing political Islam,” “criminalizing whole sections of French society for whom Islam is a component of their identity,” and even compared her to a 20th-century French anthropologist whose racial theories influenced Nazi ideologies. The accusations have been widely denounced by academics and journalists alike, with many calling the attacks baseless and defamatory. The controversy highlights the contentious nature of discussions around Islam and its role in European society, and the difficulties faced by scholars who seek to study these issues objectively.

Campaign Leaders

François Burgat, a former CNRS research director who is currently the president of the Arab Center for Research and Political Studies in Paris, is leading the campaign against Bergeaud-Blackler because her book documents how Burgat and other French academics have been Brotherhood shills for many years. Rafik Chekkat, a French-Algerian anti-“Islamophobia” activist, also published a lengthy review of Bergeaud-Blackler’s book and compared her to a late 19th century anti-Semitic polemicist.

Response

Bergeaud-Blackler’s lawyer revealed that his client is living under police protection due to the death threats she has received. The French government has expressed its support for her, with the Interior Minister stating that “there can be no compromise when it comes to the safety of citizens.” Many intellectuals and journalists have also spoken out in her defence, arguing that she has a right to academic freedom and freedom of expression.

While her work has been widely praised for its scholarly approach, Bergeaud-Blackler has also been subjected to a vicious smear campaign and death threats by Islamist extremists. It is important to note that Islam’s principles do not condone violence or the suppression of academic freedom and freedom of expression. As such, it is essential for societies to uphold these values and ensure that scholars are free to engage in objective research and discourse on matters of public concern without fear of intimidation or persecution.

Source: globalvillagespace.com

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https://www.globalvillagespace.com/the-muslim-brotherhoods-influence-in-europe/

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South Asia

 

The Taliban Not Invited to UN Doha Meeting on Afghanistan: UN

April 29, 2023

“The Secretary-General has not extended an invitation to the de facto authorities,” said UN spokesperson Stephane Dujarric to Reuters on Friday.

After remarks by the deputy U.N. chief caused concern and misunderstanding last week, the United Nations stressed that the meeting would not be focused on possible international recognition of the Taliban administration.

Meanwhile, the closed-door meeting in Doha aimed to focus “the international engagement around common objectives for a durable way forward on Afghanistan, said Stephane Dujarric.

In addition, the UN Security Council condemned the Taliban’s ban on women working for the UN agencies and asked the de facto authorities to “swiftly reverse” all restrictions on women, including females working with the UN and education.

However, the Taliban rejected the Security Council’s call to lift the restrictions on women on Friday, saying that “the restricting Afghan women is an internal social matter of Afghanistan that does not impact outside states.”

Following the Taliban takeover in August 2021, it has rolled back several women’s and girls’ human rights, including the prohibition on female citizens from working for the international NGOs, restrictions on movement and employment, and bans on attending high school and university.

Source: khaama.com

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https://www.khaama.com/the-taliban-not-invited-to-un-doha-meeting-on-afghanistan-un/

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Bangladeshis in Sudan to be brought back via Jeddah: foreign ministry

Sat Apr 29, 2023

The government has taken measures to bring back Bangladeshi citizens stranded in Sudan, through Jeddah in Saudi Arabia.

Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesperson Seheli Sabrin said at first the Bangladeshi nationals will be taken to Port Sudan from Khartoum, and from there they will be taken to Jeddah.

Later, they will be brought to Bangladesh by several flights of Biman Bangladesh Airlines.

The Bangladesh Embassy in Khartoum has already arranged nine buses to take the Bangladeshi nationals to Port Sudan from Khartoum and adjacent cities and a team from Bangladesh's Consulate General in Jeddah will reach there to assist them.

All the Bangladeshis, stranded in Sudan, will be taken to Port Sudan by May 2.

The Bangladeshi nationals are likely to reach Jeddah by May 3 or May 4.

Two Bangladeshi schools in Jeddah are providing food, drink, medicine and temporary accommodation for the Bangladeshi nationals being brought from Sudan.

On April 25, State Minister for Foreign Affairs Shahriar Alam said a decision has been made to evacuate Bangladeshi nationals from Sudan through other countries.

"The Bangladesh Embassy in Khartoum has already started spreading this message among the Bangladeshis living there," he wrote in a Facebook post on Tuesday.

The state minister urged the Bangladeshi nationals in Sudan to follow the instructions provided by the embassy and complete registration.

Meanwhile, a number of Bangladeshi nationals were evacuated by the Royal Saudi Naval Forces.

More than 420 people, including at least 291 civilians, have been killed and over 3,700 wounded since the fighting erupted between Sudanese military and the country's largest paramilitary force last week, AP reports.

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called the situation in Sudan a "catastrophic conflagration" that could engulf the whole region.

Source: thedailystar.net

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https://www.thedailystar.net/news/bangladesh/diplomacy/news/bangladeshis-sudan-be-brought-back-jeddah-foreign-ministry-3306981

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5 Children Killed in Mine Explosion in Afghanistan’s Maidan Wardak

April 29, 2023

 At least five children were killed in a blast caused by an unexploded bomb on Friday afternoon in central Maidan Wardak province of Afghanistan.

The explosion occurred on Friday at around 3:30 pm as kids were playing in the village of Dasht-e-Top in the Sayed Abad district of Maidan Wardak, a province east of Kabul.

Meanwhile, two children were injured in the explosion in critical condition and were delivered to Kabul’s Emergency Hospital, said Zarakullah Zeerak, the head of the public health directorate of the province.

All of the victims, according to him, were younger than 12 years old.

Meanwhile, several incidents occurred in various provinces, including Ghazni, Wardak, and Kandahar, which killed several children and injured several others.

Unexploded mines and bombs left over from previous conflicts have recently started to appear more frequently in different regions, killing and hurting men, women, and children.

Afghanistan remains one of the nations with the highest concentration of landmines in the world, killing several people each month, including children, according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).

Source: khaama.com

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https://www.khaama.com/5-children-killed-in-mine-explosion-in-afghanistans-maidan-wardak/

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Foreign Ministry of Afghanistan Denies The UN Security Council’s Call to Lift Restriction on Women

April 28, 2023

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement, “The decision to restrict Afghan women from working with the U.N. in Afghanistan is an internal social matter of Afghanistan that does not impact outside states,” the statement said.

On Thursday, the United Arab Emirates and Japan jointly sponsored a resolution to the U.N. Security Council in New York that unanimously condemned the Taliban’s ban on women working for the United Nations.

The Security Council urged the Taliban officials to “swiftly reverse” a crackdown on women’s and girls’ rights.

According to UAE U.N. Ambassador Lana Nusseibeh, more than 90 countries, including those “from Afghanistan’s immediate neighbourhood, the Muslim world, and all corners of the earth,” co-sponsored the resolution.

The world would not watch in silence while women in Afghanistan are marginalized from society, she said the council, adding that the resolution sent out unambiguous messages.

Since assuming power in Afghanistan, the Taliban have enacted several laws restricting women’s rights. They have, therefore, limited women’s access to public spaces, education, and jobs.

Source: khaama.com

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https://www.khaama.com/foreign-ministry-of-afghanistan-denies-the-un-security-councils-call-to-lift-restriction-on-women/

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Secretary Blinken’s Meeting with UN Secretary-General, Calls for Inclusive Govt in Afghanistan

April 28, 2023

Blinken also said that at the meeting, they would closely discuss Afghanistan’s situation with the U.N. and would continue to convey their grave concern over the prohibition on women’s employment and education.

“We’re also working closely together when it comes to Afghanistan, the deep concerns that so many countries share about the steps the Taliban has taken to deny the rights of women and girls,” Blinken said.

The meeting came ahead of the U.N. meeting, which will be organized in Doha on May 1-2 on the Afghanistan situation.

In the Doha meeting, special representatives from several countries to Afghanistan will build a consensus to send a unified message to the Taliban and address current challenges, according to the U.N. Secretary-General’s spokesperson.

Meanwhile, on Thursday, the U.N. Security Council condemned the Taliban administration’s ban on Afghan women working for the U.N. in Afghanistan.

The Security Council urged the Taliban officials to “swiftly reverse” a crackdown on women’s and girls’ rights.

More than 90 nations, including those “from Afghanistan’s immediate neighbourhood, the Muslim world, and all corners of the earth,” co-sponsored the resolution, according to UAE U.N. Ambassador Lana Nusseibeh.

She told the council that the resolution clearly convened messages, and the world would not sit by silently as women in Afghanistan are erased from society.

Since the Taliban took control of Afghanistan, they introduced several suppressive policies against women’s rights. As a result, they have restricted women in the public scene, education, and employment.

Source: khaama.com

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https://www.khaama.com/secretary-blinkens-meeting-with-un-secretary-general-calls-for-inclusive-govt-in-afghanistan/

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Arab World

 

Photos of Makkah Grand Mosque shot by Saudi writer and her artist daughter speak volumes

April 28, 2023

MAKKAH — Two pictures of Grand Mosque, one is crowded and the other one is empty, shot by prominent Saudi writer Suraya Alshehry and her artist daughter Nabila Abuljadayel respectively, speak volumes with regard to the presence of the faithful at Islam’s holiest shrine during the pandemic and post pandemic periods.

Al-Shehry’s photoshoot was on the Eid Al-Fitr day, Friday, April 21. Her picture showed the mammoth presence of over one million Umrah pilgrims and worshipers who thronged the Grand Mosque and its courtyards and spilled over to the roads and streets leading to the holy mosque.

She illustrated the magnificence of the huge gathering of the faithful to offer the Eid prayers in an air of spirituality and joyfulness marking the celebration of Eid, one of the two religious festivals of Muslims.

It also demonstrates the huge flow of pilgrims to Makkah from all parts of the world after lifting the coronavirus related restrictions by the government of Saudi Arabia.

However, the photo shot by Nabila Abuljadayel speaks volumes about the scant presence of pilgrims and worshipers performing their rituals at the Grand Mosque under strict coronavirus protocols and restrictions. Only a limited number of domestic pilgrims, including Saudis and expatriates, were allowed to perform Umrah during the pandemic period. Foreign pilgrims and visitors were prohibited from entering the Kingdom due to the travel ban imposed following the outbreak of the pandemic.

Source: saudigazette.com

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https://saudigazette.com.sa/article/631990/SAUDI-ARABIA/Photos-of-Makkah-Grand-Mosque-shot-by-Saudi-writer-and-her-artist-daughter-speak-volumes

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Dominican Republic gives backing to Saudi Arabia Expo 2030 bid

April 29, 2023

Santo Domingo: Vice President of the Dominican Republic Raquel Pena, who also chairs the Investment Promotion Cabinet, organized a meeting between representatives of Saudi Arabia and the Dominican Republic on Friday, during which they discussed business projects and opportunities.

During the meeting, the vice president announced that the Dominican Government will support Saudi Arabia in its candidacy for the World Expo 2030.

She described the meeting as “an ideal opportunity” to work together and promote a joint agenda to boost bilateral trade and facilitate access to new markets.

During the meeting, Pena showcased investment opportunities in the Dominican Republic to the Saudi delegation. Last year, the Dominican Republic attracted over $4 billion in investments — a record for the country, and a 25-percent increase on 2021.

“We are proactively looking for new business opportunities between our two countries, and we are aiming at facilitating and increasing the exchange of strategic data for business cooperation, in an environment favoring political and macroeconomic stability as well as legal confidence. Accordingly, this event represents an unparalleled opportunity to join efforts based on one practical agenda and to promote higher levels of bilateral cooperation on the scientific, cultural and educational levels,” Pena said.

The meeting was also attended by the Dominican Export and Investment Center (ProDominicana) and the Saudi Ministry of Investment, represented by vice minister Badr Al-Badr.

ProDominicana’s executive director, Biviana Riveiro Disla, said that it is vital for the Dominican Republic to strengthen commercial ties with a country like Saudi Arabia. Disla stated that, over the last seven years, bilateral trade between the two countries exceeded $126 million. She confirmed that ProDominicana is interested in exploring new ways to expand the exchange of goods and investments through the Single Investment Window.

The Saudi delegation consisted of more than 60 people from the energy, construction, tourism, real estate, medical care, food and beverage, banking and finance, petrochemical, pharmaceutical, legal, aviation, mining, and industry sectors.

The meeting was also attended by officials from the ministries of energy, economy and tourism, the Saudi Fund for Development and the Royal Commission of Riyadh City, and business leaders and government representatives from the Dominican Republic.

Source: arabnews.com

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https://www.arabnews.com/node/2294746/saudi-arabia

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Saudi commissions showcase Kingdom’s heritage in Paris

April 29, 2023

RIYADH: Two Saudi cultural commissions are highlighting the Kingdom’s heritage and traditions at a major retail festival in Paris, the Saudi Press Agency has reported.

The Theater and Performing Arts Commission and the Heritage Commission are both participating in Foire de Paris. The Theater and Performing Arts Commission is presenting seven shows exploring the cultural heritage of various parts of the Kingdom, while the Heritage Commission is introducing visitors to the distinct traditional handicraft styles and techniques of Saudi Arabia.

Both commissions are part of the Saudi Ministry of Culture, which is mandated to promote and preserve the cultural treasures of the Kingdom as part of Saudi Vision 2030, which seeks to diversify the Kingdom’s economy.

The annual festival, which began in 1904, runs until May 8 at Paris Expo Porte de Versailles in the French capital.

Source: arabnews.com

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https://www.arabnews.com/node/2294731/saudi-arabia

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GCC, Azerbaijan vow to boost cooperation

April 29, 2023

RIYADH: Jassim Mohammed Al-Budaiwi, secretary-general of the GCC, met with the Ambassador of Azerbaijan to Saudi Arabia, Shahin Abdullayev, in Riyadh.

During the meeting, the GCC official stressed the importance of consolidating Gulf-Azerbaijan relations to serve common interests.

They also reviewed the bilateral relations between the GCC countries and Azerbaijan, ways to enhance the ties, and discussed means to ensure their development in various fields, in light of the agreement signed between the two sides in 2013.

The agreement includes activating all areas of cooperation between the two sides, including energy, trade, investment, food security, culture, tourism, education, and communication between peoples, and working to hold the second Gulf-Azerbaijan Economic Forum, based on the success of the first forum in 2017.

The meeting also witnessed an exchange of views on regional and international issues of common concern.

The meeting was attended by the Assistant Secretary-General for Political Affairs and Negotiations at the GCC, Abdulaziz Abu Hamad Aluwaisheg.

Source: arabnews.com

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https://www.arabnews.com/node/2294686/saudi-arabia

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Saudi Arabia participates in ILO discussion on World Day for Safety and Health at Work

April 28, 2023

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Human Resources and Social Development participated on Friday in a high-level virtual discussion held by the UN’s International Labor Organization, Saudi Press Agency reported.

The event was held to mark the World Day for Safety and Health at Work, which was celebrated on April 28.

In his speech during the discussion, Vice Minister of Human Resources and Social Development for Labor, Abdullah bin Nasser Abu Thanain, outlined accomplishments related to the Saudi labor market, represented in the launch of the National Strategic Program for Occupational Safety and Health.

The program, part of the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 agenda, seeks to coordinate efforts of the public, private, and non-profit sectors and institutions to boost the levels of compliance with occupational safety and health standards across the Saudi labor market.

Abu Thanain also praised the ILO’s continuous efforts to preserve the labor’s safety by adopting a global strategy on occupational safety and health.

Source: arabnews.com

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https://www.arabnews.com/node/2294541/saudi-arabia

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Saudi Shoura Council visits Swedish parliament, meets committees

April 28, 2023

STOCKHOLM: A delegation from the Shoura Council, headed by assistant to the Speaker of the Council, Hanan bint Abdulrahim Al-Ahmadi, visited the Swedish Parliament and held several meetings with Swedish officials to discuss issues of mutual concern on Friday, Saudi Press Agency reported.

During the visit, the Saudi delegation met with the Gender Equality Committee and discussed several issues of common interest between the two countries, especially parliamentary relations.

They also reviewed the Kingdom's efforts to empower women by giving them leadership positions, within the framework of the goals of the Kingdom's Vision 2030.

Elsewhere on Friday, the delegation held a meeting with the head of the Swedish Parliament's delegation to the Inter-Parliamentary Union, Arin Karapet.

The meeting touched on bilateral parliamentary relations and the importance of strengthening parliamentary cooperation through the exchange of parliamentary visits.

The meeting also reviewed the Kingdom's efforts to support peace, dialogue, and stability in the region and the world.

The Shoura delegation also held a meeting with the parliament's Trade and Industry Committee, headed by Vice-Chairman Elisabeth Thand Ringqvist.

The two sides discussed aspects of investment and trade cooperation between Saudi Arabia and Sweden, namely in the technical, technological, innovative, and startups aspects.

Source: arabnews.com

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https://www.arabnews.com/node/2294531/saudi-arabia

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OCHA donor group headed by KSA holds 5th meeting in Geneva

April 28, 2023

RIYADH: The donor group supporting the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) held its fifth meeting of experts in Geneva, Switzerland, chaired by the Kingdom.

“The donor group supporting the OCHA held the fifth meeting at the expert level. The meeting was chaired by Dr. Aqeel bin Juman Al-Ghamdi, the head of the group and the representative of the Kingdom to the group, who is also the assistant supervisor general of the King Salman Humanitarian and Relief Center,” KSrelief said in a statement to Arab News on Friday.

The agenda of the meeting included reforming the humanitarian program cycle, including a strategic plan, the initiative of the humanitarian affairs coordinator and the intersectoral humanitarian analysis framework.

The meeting also discussed the field visit carried out by the group to South Sudan in March this year.

The topics are included in the Kingdom’s presidency plan for the group.

Donor countries made several interventions during the meeting to highlight the importance of applying reforms to the humanitarian program cycle, and to encourage the OCHA to make the necessary arrangements for carrying out the reform process with the participation of all actors in the humanitarian field and local groups targeted for aid.

The group members highlighted the importance of supporting the OCHA in implementing its 2023-2026 strategic plan.

The group’s meeting at the expert level will continue on Saturday with the participation of representatives of donor countries and senior officials of the OCHA, who will resume the discussion of the raised issues and share the outcomes of the first day’s meeting with the office.

The discussion will be presented by the head of the group and the representative of the Kingdom, Al-Ghamdi, who will give the representatives of the OCHA the opportunity to present their points of view and respond to the inquiries of donor group member states.

In February this year, the donor group supporting the OCHA held a meeting in Riyadh chaired by Al-Ghamdi.

The agenda of the meeting included a discussion on proactive work in the humanitarian field, the visit by donor members to South Sudan in March and a presentation on Yemen by the OCHA.

Al-Ghamdi had said that many stakeholders in the international arena agree on the importance of proactive humanitarian action, emphasizing the great opportunities to protect lives and livelihoods, as well as reduce human suffering and losses.

He added that the development of the humanitarian approach among donors has taken a positive upward trend in recent years. More than 75 governments and 60 humanitarian relief agencies are working to mitigate the expected impact of humanitarian crises.

Source: arabnews.com

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https://www.arabnews.com/node/2294501/saudi-arabia

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North America

 

CAIR-NJ Celebrates Signing of Muslim Heritage Month Resolution into Law

April 28, 2023

(SOUTH PLAINFIELD, NJ, 04/28/2023) —The New Jersey chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-NJ) today celebrated the signing tomorrow of the Muslim Heritage Month Resolution into law by New Jersey Governor Philip D. Murphy.

The signing ceremony will take place during the Governor and First Lady’s Eid celebration at Drumthwacket, the Governor’s residence in Princeton, attended by members of the New Jersey Muslim community.

The Muslim Heritage Month Resolution designates January of each year as “Muslim Heritage Month” in New Jersey and calls upon local government agencies and organizations to observe this month with appropriate ceremonies, activities, and educational programs that pay homage to the growing American Muslim community.

In a statement, CAIR-NJ Executive Director Selaedin Maksut, said: 

“This is a historic moment. For too long, we’ve seen damaging and irresponsible depictions of Muslims. These narratives have tangible consequences, but now, we will be seeing the counter and, hopefully soon, prevailing narrative: One that highlights, celebrates, and acknowledges the American Muslim community in New Jersey. 

“We are happy to take this small step towards pushing back against anti-Muslim bigotry, and we are excited for what’s to come. We also want to thank the Governor and his administration for their support of this resolution.”

In a statement, CAIR-NJ Government Affairs Manager Madina P. Ouedraogo, said:

“New Jersey’s Muslim community has long awaited this moment, when the Muslim heritage Month Resolution is passed and signed into law. Today, the Garden State is proudly celebrating its rich religious and cultural diversity. 

“American Muslims have and continue to be a pivotal foundation of this state, but they have long been stigmatized, marginalized, and underappreciated. This new bill signals a new tide.”

In a statement, Council of Imams in New Jersey Convener Imam Wahy-ud Deen Shareef said:      

“The history of Islam and the growing Muslim Community in New Jersey is rich in the lessons of how the human spirit struggles against social, political, and economic adversity to successfully establish a model life working to serve G_d and bring forward a model human society.  

“The late Muslim American Leader, Imam W. Deen Mohammed, encouraged Muslims to establish the best spiritual and social life possible reflecting the high morals and ethics taught by the Qur’an, G_d’s Word, and exhibit in practice the model traditional life of Muhammad the Prophet (prayers and Peace be upon him). This month acknowledges and celebrates these honorable objectives for Muslims and all citizens of New Jersey.” 

In a statement, NJ Muslim Parent Advocate Jessica Berrocal said:    

“Celebrating Muslim Heritage Month in January is a step towards building stronger, more inclusive communities that celebrate diversity and reject hatred and bigotry. This is a significant step towards promoting tolerance and acceptance among communities, and it serves as a reminder that discrimination and hate have no place in New Jersey. 

“Muslim Heritage Month not only recognizes the rich cultural contributions of Muslims, but also creates an opportunity for us to deepen our understanding of the religion, customs, and traditions. It is crucial that we protect the rights of Muslim children and ensure that they can express their religious identity without fear of discrimination or bullying. By advocating for inclusivity and raising awareness around Muslim Heritage Month, we can foster a more welcoming and accepting environment for all children in wholesome.”

New Jersey has the highest percentage of Muslim residents in the U.S., at 3.5 percent, according to 2020 US Religion Census and the Association of Religion Data Archives.  Last month, two Muslim women who wear hijab, the Honorable Nadia Kahf and Dalya Youssef, were appointed to the New Jersey Superior Court bench. New Jersey also leads the way for local representation, with over40 Muslim elected officials. The state elected the first ever Muslims to the New Jersey State Legislature, Sadaf Jaffer (LD-16) and Shama Haidar (LD-37), last year.

Still, however, anti-Muslim incidents are on the rise. CAIR-NJ received over 150 calls for help in 2022 alone. This resolution seeks to push back against anti-Muslim bigotry by celebrating American Muslims and shedding a positive light on the community.

The Assembly joint resolution (AJR194)  is sponsored by Assemblywoman McKnight (LD-31), Assemblywoman Speight (LD-29) and Assemblywoman Chaparro (LD-33) and co-sponsored by Assemblywoman Jaffer (LD-16), Assemblyman Stanley (LD-18), Assemblywoman Haider (LD-37), Assemblyman DePhillips (LD-40), Assemblyman Atkins (LD-20),  Assemblywoman Park (LD-37), Assemblywoman Jasey (LD-27), Assemblywoman Quijano (LD20), Assemblyman Conaway (LD-7), Assemblywoman Reynolds-Jackson (LD-15) and Assemblywoman Sumter (LD-35)

The Senate joint resolution (SJR105) is sponsored by Senator Pennacchio (LD-26) and Senator Stack (LD-33) and co-sponsored by Senator Bucco (LD-25), Senator Durr (LD-3), Senator Turner (LD-15), Senator Gopal (LD-11), Senator Greenstein (LD-14), Senator Lagana (LD-38), Senator Pou (LD-35), Senator Zwicker (LD-16). 

BACKGROUND

Muslim Heritage Month started with a vision from the Honorable Imam Warith Deen Mohammed. The first Muslims to observe Ramadan in America were enslaved Africans who carried their faith with them and used it as a way to stay connected to their identities that were being brutally stripped from them while in bondage. It was their descendants, Black and African American Muslims, who would go on to later lay the foundation for the modern day American Muslim experience. The Honorable Imam Mohammed sought to make sure that this history is acknowledged and celebrated.

CAIR’s mission is to protect civil rights, enhance understanding of Islam, promote justice, and empower American Muslims.

END

CONTACT:CAIR-NJ Communications Manager DinaSayedahmed,dsayedahmed@cair.com, 551-221-5592

Source: cair.com

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US: Muslim College Students Enraged Over Invite Of Controversial Muslim Personality, Daniel Haqiqatjou

By Zainab Iqbal

28 April 2023

The invitation of influential Muslim personality Daniel Haqiqatjou to colleges in New York has sparked outrage among their Muslim students, with many calling on the leadership of the Muslim Student Associations (MSA) to “re-evaluate” their principles.

Several students told Middle East Eye they were dismayed after learning that Haqiqatjou was slated to speak at their university for an event on gender roles and marriage, saying that he has a history of "misogynistic" comments and has spoken condescendingly towards women.

Haqiqatjou was invited to Farmingdale State College (FSC) in Long Island on 27 April by its MSA to lead an event titled, “The roles of Men and Women in Islam: Talk on how to live the best life as a Muslim and marriage.”

The event was a collaboration with two other MSAs, including Long Island University (LIU) Post and SUNY Old Westbury. He was also invited to a Queens College event discussing gender later that same day.

A day before the FSC event, the LIU Post MSA pulled out. In a statement on Instagram, the group wrote, “Thank you to everyone for voicing their concerns. At this moment, we have decided not to be involved with the upcoming event with the guest speaker due to a conflict of interest.”

“The speaker at the event does not align with the morals and values of LIU Post MSA. We apologise to anyone who is upset by this as we were not aware of the situation beforehand.”

A member in the leadership position of the FSC MSA took to the student organisation's Whatsapp group to say the group was “unaware of the controversy and accusations of the guest speaker”.

She added that “due to the time contractions” they were unable to cancel the event. She said that they will not tolerate any “disrespect on either side”.

“There are hundreds of legitimate people educated on Islam, the MSA could have invited to speak at their event," a female student from FSC who did not want to be named, told Middle East Eye. "This is a man who has publically insulted women. He is most definitely a misogynist. He has said women don't deserve an education."

She said that inviting Haqiqatjou was wrong and that the MSAs should apologise. But she said she believes they will do no such thing because "these are the men and women we are putting in charge of our MSAs”.

MEE reached out to Haqiqatjou and asked him to comment on the pushback he has received for participating in these events. He responded by saying: “I am an innocent man!”

Both events ended up being live-streamed on Instagram. The Queens College MSA blocked users from comments after the stream was inundated with criticism.

Middle East Eye reached out to Farmingdale State College, LIU Post, and SUNY Old Westbury MSA for comment, but they did not respond.

Misogynistic insults

Students on social media argued that Haqiqatjou is not qualified to speak about gender dynamics. Haqiqatjou, who has 275,000 followers on his Youtube channel, "The Muslim Skeptic", and over 48,000 followers on Twitter, has likened women getting an education to prostitution.

“You think if Muslim countries allowed women to get indoctrinated, er, I mean, educated in colleges, they would leave us alone?” Haqiqatjou wrote.

“They won't stop sanctioning, pressuring, bombing until your daughters are having sex with 10 men on Onlyfans. Yes. Anything less than that is not acceptable! Anything less than that is a violation of women's rights!”

On 30 January, he tweeted, “Send your little Muslim daughter to college so that, not only she becomes a well-used object, but she facilitates that for others as well.”

He has also argued that the Prophet Muhammad neither taught “unlimited” kindness to women nor was he a “simp". A simp is a slang term referring to men who are seen as attentive or submissive to women.

“He wasn’t a simp. He also didn’t molly-coddle women due to a misplaced idea of hikma (wisdom) or rahma (compassion). He was the best to women. That’s exactly why he told them to fear Allah and get their act together. Simps call it harshness,” Haqiqatjou said in a tweet that has been deleted.

When MEE asked Queens College if they were aware of the event taking place and the controversy surrounding it, the college said it is the students' right to invite whatever speaker they choose.

“From time to time, campus groups such as registered student organisations invite speakers to Queens College. As a public institution, the college does not and cannot control the content of the speech, nor will the administration bar a speaker on the basis of the anticipated substance of their remarks,” a representative of the college said.

“While speeches given on campus do not necessarily reflect the views and values of the college community, the college must uphold the right of free speech and the rights of students to invite speakers in order to hear diverse points of view.”

'Re-evaluating Islamic principles' at MSA

The decision to host Haqiqatjou has also riled up alumni. Abdallah, a former Queens College student who took part in the MSA and didn’t want his last name used, told MEE that he was angry that Haqiqatjou was invited, but not surprised.

“It speaks more about the leadership we have at our MSAs. These are people who are huge fans of men like Haqiqatjou. Of men like Andrew Tate. I am not saying they are both the same in any regard, but it just speaks to what kinds of role models we have now,” he said.

He added that Haqiqatjou was someone that has a negative impact on the community. While he believes that Haqiqatjou should not have been invited and the event should have been cancelled, he believes that young Muslims, especially those in leadership positions in colleges, should be re-taught Islamic principles.

“The principles of these young men and women in these MSAs should be re-evaluated. It all goes back to Islamic principles, right?” he said.

“How are you going to be leaders of a Muslim group on campus where young Muslims go to feel comfortable and invite people like Haqiqatjou who has slandered respected scholars? Who has talked badly of our women? How is that in any way ok?”

While some people at the event did not want to speak to MEE on the record, one man did say on Instagram that it was a beautiful programme and responded, “Truth hurts guys” when a woman accused Haqiqatjou of “spreading propaganda”.

A woman who currently attends Queens College told MEE that once she had heard of the event, she knew she could not attend it.

“My friends and I were outraged. While I myself didn’t bring it up to the leadership, I heard that some other people did. But it was no use because the MSA leadership clearly did not budge,” she said.

“Moving forward, we need to be mindful of who we are electing to represent us at our MSAs. People like Haqiqatjou should not have been considered to be invited, let alone actually show up at our college.”

Source: middleeasteye.net

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https://www.middleeasteye.net/news/us-muslim-invitation-controversial-personality-daniel-haqiqatjou-new-york

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Muslims express confidence, concerns in the wake of Minneapolis mosque arsons

APRIL 28, 2023

Days after a fire was set there, several hundred Muslims bowed in prayer Friday at the Masjid Omar Islamic Center, filling the mosque and lining the hallway outside.

They united for Friday worship as they always have. They caught up with friends. They shared tea.

"We're here for good," vowed Abukar Abdullahi, who owns a tax preparation business across from the south Minneapolis mosque. "I don't care what they do. We will go nowhere because we are part of this wonderful community."

It was the first Friday prayer since Minneapolis police responded Sunday night to a fire set in a bathroom at the mosque. Worshipers extinguished the flames.

The next day, authorities evacuated adults and children after fire broke out at another mosque nearby, Masjid Al Rahma. Authorities have charged 36-year-old Jackie Rahm Little of Minneapolis, who remains at large, accusing him of arson in that fire.

Worshipers at both mosques reflected Friday on the events with a mix of fear and resolve. Suleyman Mahmud, 22, who regularly visits Masjid Al Rahma, said the fires have stunned the community. But having grown up Muslim in the United States, he said, he's used to Islamophobic behavior and that it's important not to let it hinder daily life.

"It's something you're already aware of and is something you have to be conscious about," Mahmud said. "Other than that you just have to go on with your daily life because you're going to find bad anywhere there's good."

Mahmud said the presence of families and young children at a day care in the building heightened concerns. He said that coming together for prayer was an effective way to feel stronger as a community in the wake of the fires.

Ismail Hussain said he felt the same way. The acts, he said, haven't changed his belief that the Minneapolis community is welcoming to Muslims overall.

"Things happen every night or hour, and we are not scared of the community because it's not all people, just a few," Hussain said.

A couple hundred people attended Friday's prayer at Masjid Al Rahma, including Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey and Police Chief Brian O'Hara. Both spoke.

"We appreciate you and are with you," said Frey, who expressed the city's commitment to apprehending the suspect. "Attacks on our Muslim community will not be tolerated in our city."

One man, who declined to give his name, said he was afraid to go to Masjid Al Rahma and needed time to build the confidence to return. Still, he said, he didn't believe the arsonist was representative of Americans.

"People get scared because they fear people who want to create chaos in a community," he said. "But overwhelmingly the majority of Americans are not supporting that element of extremist persons who want to burn a mosque."

Abdi Mohamud, owner of Rajo Coffee next to Masjid Omar, worried at first that the fires were keeping his customers away. It was noon, and his shop was empty.

"Everyone is scared," he said. "We lost a lot of customers the last few days." After the fire, he said, they were all asking, "What's next?"

But soon the regular crowds began gathering in the hallways and spilled into the shop, seeking coffee and snacks. Among them was Abdullah Sharif, who sat down for tea and malawah, a pancake-like dish.

"This was unexpected, so we feel like it's scary, very scary. … We've been here the last 25, 26 years and we never experienced this kind of scary [event], this kind of aggression," said Sharif.

He said people were concerned that Little wasn't in custody and that he or possibly his friends might return.

Little previously has been charged with arson; in 2021, he was accused of burning a car in Minneapolis. Court records show he was bailed out by the Minnesota Freedom Fund, a Minneapolis nonprofit that pays bail for people who can't afford it and seeks to end cash bail.

The FBI reported 322 hate crimes in Minnesota in 2021, the latest year that statistics are available; 16 were identified as anti-Islamic.

Only an hour after leaving his business Sunday evening, Abdullahi got a call from a friend reporting the fire.

"It was absolutely shocking," he said, adding, "They cannot deter our determination and our daily life."

Abdillahi Mohamud, director of the Masjid Omar center, said he thinks worshippers feel safe now because authorities responded to the fire. Police have spread out over the area, he said, and a large surveillance camera was installed.

Even so, he's urged Muslims at the mosque to be careful. "Right now, we have to look out for everyone in our community," he said.

Source: startribune.com

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https://www.startribune.com/muslims-express-confidence-concerns-in-the-wake-of-minneapolis-mosque-arson-incidents/600271032/

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MCC Academy makes history as first Muslim school to win regional volleyball finals

BY JACKIE KOSTEK

APRIL 28, 2023

CHICAGO (CBS) -- As we celebrate Arab-American Heritage Month, we take you to Morton Grove for a big win at a small school.

As CBS 2's Jackie Kostek, reports MCC Academy is not only growing in size, but in competitive sports as well.

The Lady Crescents 7th and 8th grade girls volleyball teams at MCC Academy in Morton Grove are celebrating history.

"To win the regional finals, this is the first time; and isn't the first time just for our school, but the first Muslim school in the state of Illinois, and even in the United States, to have two different grade levels to go to the sectionals and state," MCC superintendent Habeeb Quadri said.

The school recently joined the Illinois Elementary School Association and Illinois High School Association to compete in sports, according to Quadri. The two teams unfortunately lost at sectionals, but realize to go this far is already a huge win.

In fact, the team's MVP only started playing volleyball at the beginning of last year.

"I was really excited and really proud, because I feel like, as a team, we've gotten so far that we got the opportunity to go to regionals as an Islamic school that isn't as popular," 8th grader Dalia Sarsour said.

The school, with campuses in Morton Grove and Skokie, represents 51 countries; and for these young women, their religion calls for them to wear extra clothing, including a head covering.

"I feel like at first they view us differently," Sarsour said. "It's because other schools don't wear the headscarf, and we do, but I feel like as they've gotten to play with us and know us better, they've realized that we don't play any differently than anyone else, and we are all the same."

"We were just so impressed with the way our team was received," principal Salma Ahmed said. "I remember one of the coaches, they would lift up the back of their hijab to make sure the number was in the center of their jersey, or whatever, just to make sure the rules were followed. I came home telling our superintendent and the staff that we were so well-respected, and so well-appreciated, and accommodated. It was phenomenal."

"I'm very proud, because not everybody recognizes us, and when we play, especially in stat, they see our religion, and our culture, and they see how we act, and our character, and everything," 7th grader Jamila Abdeljabar said.

The coaches are thrilled that the focus, which has traditionally been about competitive academics, has expanded to sports as well.

"All these girls bring forth unique identities, unique personalities. It's great to see the dynamic on the court and off the court," coach Suha Moten said.

"This year was just for them to realize what's outside these walls when it comes to athletics. They played in really big gyms," coach Wajeeha Shuttari said. "It was a good experience for them to understand the arena that they could potentially play in."

"It was very intimidating, but when we all got together, and we were stretching, and we were all talking to each other, we all calmed down, and when we joined the game, we all knew it was game time," Abdeljabar said.

"I know they're ready, and already excited for the challenge next year," Shuttari said.

The 8th grade boys' basketball team also won their regionals.

Also, the school's enrollment is way up and they've made plans to expand.

Source: cbsnews.com

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https://www.cbsnews.com/chicago/news/mcc-academy-regional-volleyball-champions/

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Mideast

 

Hazem Tahsin Bey, Yazidi Emir Condemns Attack on Mosque in Sinjar District, Rejects Violence Against Religious Sanctities

2023-04-28

Shafaq News/ Hazem Tahsin Bey, the Emir of the Yazidis in Iraq and worldwide, expressed his rejection of the attack on the "Al-Rahman" mosque in Sinjar district during demonstrations against the return of displaced Sunni Arab families.

"We announce our categorical rejection of the attack on the Rahman Mosque and its burning in Sinjar, and that attacking mosques is not our morals, we Yazidis." Bey said.

The cultural and social center for the Yazidis, Lalish, considered the current events in Sinjar district as the result of the “wrong” policy of the Iraqi government, expressing its rejection of any form of violence.

The center emphasized that peaceful demonstration is a right and attacking the sanctities of religions is an inappropriate behavior that cannot be accepted by any party.

Source: shafaq.com

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

https://shafaq.com/en/Iraq-News/Yazidi-Emir-Condemns-Attack-on-Mosque-in-Sinjar-District-Rejects-Violence-Against-Religious-Sanctities

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KRG Condemns Mosque Attack in Sinjar, Reaffirms Commitment to Coexistence

 28/04/2023

ERBIL — The Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) in a statement on Friday condemned the attack on a mosque in Sinjar, and reiterated its commitment to preserve coexistence of different religious faiths in the area.

The KRG Ministry of Endowments and Religious Affairs strongly denounced the attack, which has reportedly led to damage in the structure of the mosque. The attack has caused no casualties.

"A number of people attacked the mosque in Sinjar region on Thursday, April 27, as a result of tensions and opposition to the return of a number of Arab families to the region," the Ministry of Endowments said in a statement.

The ministry further elaborated, “The Ministry of Endowments and Religious Affairs strongly condemns any form of disrespect or violence committed against mosques and other religious centers. Such heinous acts are contrary to the true nature of religion and Kurdish customs and values. It is clear that these reprehensible actions have been carried out deliberately to disrupt peace and stability in the region.”

The statement stressed that the attack committed was personal and not motivated by any religious beliefs or affiliations, and also called on relevant authorities in the federal government of Iraq to address the situation in Sinjar responsibly and find perpetrators of the incident and bring them to justice.

Source: basnews.com

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https://www.basnews.com/en/babat/804911

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Saudi Arabia, Iran to reopen embassies ‘within days’: Minister

29 Apr 2023

Saudi Arabia and Iran will reopen embassies in each other’s capitals “within days”, Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian has said in a sign of warming relations after the two countries closed their missions seven years ago.

Speaking at a news conference in the Lebanese capital Beirut on Friday, Amir-Abdollahian did not give specific dates for the reopening of the embassies, which closed in 2016. The two countries reached an agreement in China earlier last month to re-establish diplomatic relations and reopen embassies after seven years of tensions.

“During the last phone call between the foreign ministers of Iran and Saudi Arabia on Eid al-Fitr, we agreed to work in the next coming days on the reopening of the Iranian and Saudi embassies in Tehran and Riyadh,” Amir-Abdollahian said, according to an official Arabic translation.

The relationship started deteriorating in 2015 following the intervention of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates in the Yemen war after the Iran-aligned Houthi movement toppled the Riyadh-backed government and seized control of the capital Sanaa.

Tensions between the countries has led to conflicts across the region, including the Syrian civil war.

Amir-Abdollahian was speaking at the end of his visit to Lebanon where he met with Lebanese officials including Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah.

The Iranian foreign minister confirmed President Ebrahim Raisi would visit Syria in “the near future” without providing details.

The visit would be the first by an Iranian president to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad since war broke out in Syria in 2011. With military help and economic support from Iran and Russia, Assad was able to turn the tide of the conflict and regain control of most of his country.

Source: aljazeera.com

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https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2023/4/29/saudi-iran-to-reopen-embassies-within-days-minister

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Iran’s Top Sunni Cleric Calls for Impartial Courts and Labor Rights

APRIL 28, 2023

Iran's top Sunni cleric has continued his critical Friday prayer sermons as he urged the Islamic Republic's Shia leadership to heed the Iranian people's wishes for change.

"No government system can be preserved through the use of weapons," Molavi Abdulhamid, the Sunni Friday prayer leader of the south-eastern city of Zahedan, said on April 28.

The 76-year-old cleric advised Islamic scholars, as well as the armed forces and and law enforcement forces, to not stand against the people.

"The judicial system assured us that they would deal with this issue impartially," Abdulhamid said, referring to Zahedan's Bloody Friday on September 30 last year when more than 100 protesters were killed by security forces.

"But now we hear them say that they cannot punish anyone because it is not known who shot whom at that time, and we are surprised by the judges' words," he added.

Molavi has been a key dissenting voice inside Iran since the eruption of nationwide protests in September 2022, during which Iranians have demanded fundamental economic, social and political changes. Zahedan is the capital of Sistan and Baluchistan, home to Iran's Sunni Baluch minority of up to 2 million people.

Iranian authorities have cracked down in severe fashion on the women-led protest movement, killing more than 520 demonstrators and unlawfully detaining over 20,000, activists say. Following biased trials, the judiciary has handed down stiff sentences, including the death penalty, to protesters.

Zahedan residents have been holding protest rallies every Friday since September 30, when security forces killed nearly 100 people, in the deadliest incident so far in the nationwide demonstrations triggered by the September 2022 death of a 22-year-old Iranian Kurdish woman, Mahsa Amini, in police custody.

"Why could authorities quickly identify the killer of a security agent, and executed two people [accused of his murder], but not identify the killer when it was one of their own agents?" Molavi said on Friday.

The cleric emphasized that Iranians in Sistine and Baluchistan province not only want the perpetrators of the crime to be punished but also those who ordered the shootings.

He highlighted that prisoners who had been released had reported being tortured and coerced into making false confessions.

And as massive labor strikes continued in Iran, Molavi expressed his support for the strikes and urged the government to address the people's demands.

"These workers have gone on strike because they can't make a living," he said.

One of the main demands of striking workers is an increase in their salaries, Molavi said: "The wages paid to workers are insufficient for their basic needs."

In recent days, labor sources in Iran have released a list of at least 60 contractor companies in various industries where workers have gone on strike.

However, the government has refused to acknowledge these protests and has threatened striking workers with being replaced by thousands of new employees.

According to local sources, the Friday prayer was held amidst heavy security, with armed forces present in Zahedan, as in previous weeks.

Following the prayer, people gathered in the streets and shouted slogans against the Islamic Republic and its leader, Ali Khamenei.

Source: iranwire.com

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https://iranwire.com/en/news/116025-irans-top-sunni-cleric-calls-for-impartial-courts-and-labor-rights/

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Bosniak Muslim, who set off on foot from Europe for Hajj, reaches Iraq

Ali Makram Ghareeb

29.04.2023

KIRKUK, Iraq

A Bosniak Muslim who set off on foot from Europe for the annual Hajj pilgrimage, has reached Kirkuk in Iraq.

Envar Beganovic, 52, a judo athlete who has lived in Austria for 28 years, continues to progress by crossing 10 countries along his route.

Beganovic, who has been on the trek for approximately 160 days and carries the flag of every country he has been in on his back, left behind Slovakia, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia, Kosovo, Macedonia, Greece and Türkiye since he started from Austria.

“I did not encounter any problems during the distance of thousands of kilometers. On the contrary, I received help and support from people beyond my expectations,” he told Anadolu Agency.

He said he decided to go on the pilgrimage by foot because he was an athlete and was used to walking long distances. Beganovic said he wanted to achieve great rewards by walking thousands of kilometers.

"My late mother and father bequeathed to us not to stray from your religion," he said, adding that he had been walking for months to reach the holy land and never got tired.

The pilgrimage to Islam's holiest site, the Kaaba in Mecca, is one of the five pillars of the religion.

Muslims are required to perform it at least once if they have the means.

Source: aa.com.tr

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https://www.aa.com.tr/en/world/bosniak-muslim-who-set-off-on-foot-from-europe-for-hajj-reaches-iraq/2884359

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Turkey’s pro-Kurdish party backs Erdogan’s rival for president

28 Apr 2023

Turkey’s pro-Kurdish party and its leftist allies have asked their voters to back President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s main rival in the May 14 presidential election.

Friday’s announcement pushes one of Turkey’s largest voting blocs behind opposition candidate Kemal Kilicdaroglu, the head of the People’s Republican Party, and further complicates Erdogan’s path to achieving more than two decades in power.

The Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), the third-largest in Turkey’s parliament, decided last month not to field a presidential candidate and strongly hinted that it would back Kilicdaroglu without officially endorsing his candidacy.

However, both the party’s co-leader and its leftist electoral alliance issued statements on Friday calling on voters to rally around Erdogan’s main opponent.

“In this historic election, we call on the people of Turkey to vote for the Labour and Freedom Alliance in the parliamentary elections and for Kemal Kilicdaroglu in the presidential elections,” the HDP and its allies said in a statement.

HDP co-leader Mithat Sancar called the upcoming vote “the most crucial in Turkey’s history”.

“That’s why we’ve decided to support Kilicdaroglu,” he told the Sozcu news site.

The HDP has won more than 10 percent of the vote in past national elections and represents a community accounting for about a fifth of Turkey’s population.

Erdogan lifted linguistic and cultural restrictions on the community and tried to end a bloody Kurdish struggle for an independent state in Turkey’s southeast through talks.

But a breakdown of those negotiations in 2015 was followed by a new wave of violence and a government crackdown.

Since then, Turkey has jailed thousands of activists and replaced dozens of elected HDP mayors with state trustees after accusing them of having ties with the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). It has fought a war against the Turkish state since 1984 and is a designated “terrorist” group in Turkey, the European Union and the United States.

Erdogan portrays the HDP as the political-wing of the PKK, and the party is now facing the threat of closure over alleged “terror” ties. The imminent threat of dissolution has forced the HDP to run its parliamentary candidates under the banner of a new party called the Party of Greens and the Left Future.

The party says it is being singled out for standing up to Erdogan’s rule.

“We have two strategic goals,” Sancar said. “The first is to end the one-man regime. And the second is to become the most influential force in the democratic transformation.”

“Our goals coincide with Kilicdaroglu’s on ending the one-man regime,” he said.

The HDP’s support significantly expands the reach of Kilicdaroglu’s six-party alliance, already an eclectic mix of liberals and nationalists and an ultraconservative party.

Source: aljazeera.com

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https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2023/4/28/turkeys-pro-kurdish-party-backs-erdogans-rival-for-president

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Turkey’s leader Erdogan cancels third day of election appearances

28 Apr 2023

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has cancelled his election appearances for a third day after falling ill with what officials described as an intestinal infection.

Erdogan is seeking a third presidential term in Turkey’s May 14 elections. He had been due to appear at a bridge opening and a political rally in the southern city of Adana, but his schedule changed on Friday to show he would attend the opening ceremony via video link.

Erdogan became ill during a TV interview on Tuesday with what Health Minister Fahrettin Koca later said was a “gastrointestinal infection”. His election rallies planned for Wednesday and Thursday were cancelled.

He looked pale on Thursday as he inaugurated a nuclear power plant via video in his first public appearance since his illness.

Other officials sought to dispel concerns over the 69-year-old leader’s health ahead of next month’s presidential and parliamentary elections. Recent polls showed a slight lead for Erdogan’s main challenger amid an economic downturn and a February earthquake that killed more than 50,000 people.

Erdogan, who underwent intestinal surgery in 2011, has ruled Turkey since 2003, first as prime minister and as president since 2014. He campaigned hard in recent weeks, attending several events across the country every day.

Source: aljazeera.com

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https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2023/4/28/turkeys-leader-erdogan-cancels-third-day-of-election-appearances

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Iraqi forces dismiss reports of Mosque attack in the Yazidi Sinjar city

April 29, 2023

SINJAR, Northern Iraq,— Iraqi security forces denied reports that protests against the return of displaced Muslim Sunnis to Sinjar [Shingal] city on Thursday turned violent.

Major General Atheer Hamza, the Commander of the 20th Regiment of the Iraqi Army, said during a broadcast on Çiya Press that there was no attempt to destroy Abdul Rahman Mosque during protests that broke out in the center of Sinjar city on Thursday.

Local media reports stated between 15 to 20 Sunni families arrived in Sinjar city under the protection of Iraq security forces, sparking a protest from Yazidi residents.

According to some local sources, an Yazidi survivor of Islamic State (ISIS) captivity said she identified an alleged member of the group among the returning Sunni families.

NRT reporter Nazir Shingali said reports that Abdul Rahman Mosque was torched were false, and that photos purporting to show damage to the mosque that were shared over social media were old.

According to Shingali, the mosque has not been used for a number of years and was in poor condition. He added, the individual accused of as an alleged ISIS member has been detained at a police station.

He said the displaced families had arrived in Sinjar city from Sinune, in the north of the district.

Independent Ezidi Press said survivors of the genocide against Yazidis have kept dozens of lists of names and photos of locals who they say had joined ISIS and supported them. They state the return of the Sunni families was not coordinated with Yazidis and allege the returnees did not go through a verification process.

Dr. Amy Beam, an author and activist working with the Yazidi community, said Yazidis who have returned to Sinjar are now facing eviction after occupying homes that were long abandoned by their Sunni owners.

Beam said the displaced Yazidis will have nowhere to go if they are evicted as their home villages were left uninhabitable and the government has not reconstructed the villages or compensated their displaced residents.

“The idea of 20 families being escorted by Iraqi security forces from Snoni [Sinune] to Sinjar to inspect their houses is not a small event,” Beam said. “They would certainly NOT find their houses empty.”

Beam said Sinjar was a “virtual ghost town” when Yazidis slowly began to return and she believes there are about 7,000 people now living there.

She said in a statement commenting on Thursday’s events in Sinjar that she believes the man accused of being an ISIS member was falsely charged.

Beam warned the UN and Baghdad must compensate Yazidis for their destroyed homes in order to avoid further conflict when Sunnis return to Sinjar.

Source: ekurd.net

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https://ekurd.net/iraqi-forces-dismiss-reports-2023-04-29

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India

 

After Kanpur Several Charged In Aligarh For Offering Namaz Outside Two Mosques On Eid

April 29, 2023

Aligarh: Several unnamed persons have been booked for offering Namaz outside two mosques in the old city area in violation of prohibitory orders on Eid last week, police said on Friday.

City Superintendent Police Kuldeep Singh Gunawat told the media that clerics had assured the district authorities ahead of Eid that no one will be allowed to offer prayers on roads outside mosques.

"Despite such assurances a large number of people offered prayers on the road outside the Eidgah ground under Delhi Gate Police Station and another mosque in a locality under Kotwali police station," said the officer, adding, the FIRs were lodged on April 26.

Police are reviewing video footage of the day to identify those who participated in the outside prayers.

Source: ndtv.com

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https://www.ndtv.com/others-news/eid-prayers-several-booked-in-aligarh-for-offering-namaz-on-road-3988397

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The Story Behind Rock star Rupam Islam’s Bhajans From The Vedas

 28.04.23

Shantanu Datta

A musical milestone was etched in Kolkata the other night. A rockstar sang a few bhajans topped with a Vedic hymn. It was as though Eric Clapton riffed through Abide With Me at a concert in Las Vegas or Neil Young strummed to The Lord's Prayer.

So gobsmacked was the audience at the Anandabazar Online Bochhorer Best 2022 at seeing Rupam Islam emerge from darkness and invoke universal values of harmony and truth with Sangachhadwam that for a while it forgot to applaud the opening act of the event, an annual celebration of achievers both known and unsung.

Now, days after the show at the ITC Royal, Rupam says he's overwhelmed at the response he has received for that performance. And not just because it is an unusual choice of songs for someone who is essentially a front-of-stage rock singer/songwriter with a huge following in Bengal and neighbouring Bangladesh. But more for the manner in which he made accessible these traditional anthems associated with solemn prayer meetings and rendered them suitable for an award function without diluting their essential teachings.

“Sangachhadhwam samvadadhwam samvo manaan sijaanataam.” Amid a cushion of soaring keyboards, just as the Vedic hymn extolling the virtues of the purest form of human values is about to take flight, it segues into a bhajan in adulation of Lord Rama. “Jaya jayati jaya Raghuvansha bhushan Ram arajiva lochanam”

“Wherever I have been going these days, people have been telling me how they have been overwhelmed by the medley,” reveals Rupam during a phone-in with The Telegraph Online. He seems pleased with the end result even though he had had apprehensions initially. “Every credit for this goes to editors at Anandabazar Online for giving me the confidence,” he says.

It all started with a call Rupam received. The idea was quite different initially. It was about reimagining the hit song Naatu Naatu with Bangla lyrics and an elevated sense of aesthetics. Then Rupam added another song, merely to add weight to the setlist. Soon, another musical element was added to infuse the idea of tradition as the building blocks of the future. This, however, gave birth to a fresh concern. How to marry two sets of songs of widely different genres?

Over to Rupam Islam on how it all started, the performance for which he had to mine singing skills he acquired at childhood and what’s he up to these days.

TTOnline: Take us through the journey of you performing at Anandabazar Online Bochhorer Best 2022.

Rupam Islam: The first proposal from Anandabazar Online was to do a Bengali interpretation of the song Naatu Naatu with a sense of sophistication to take it to a higher plane. I found it extremely challenging since I wasn’t drawn to the song at all. Anyway, I did listen to the song. And I immediately got my chorus. ‘Bhabo Bangali, Bangali, Bangali…’ This line came to me at first listen.

How?

Some magic happened, the kind that often happens with creative folks like us. I always latch on to the idea that comes first. And I realised that I would be able to do this. So, I called the editors of Anandabazar Online and told them that while I would be able to pull off their brief, doing only one song wouldn’t be worthwhile. I said I would also create a Bengali version of Jai Ho, another Indian song, that also won an Oscar. I knew I could do it as I had listened to this song earlier.

How did the devotional songs come in?

Since this was meant to be a special performance, I thought I should do four-five songs to do justice to the event. So the editors asked me if I could also do a selection of traditional tunes, say a song or two based on Sanskrit shlokas or the Vedas. I said yes. Since I have been trained in singing such songs, I could always work on a performance centred around this. But the question is how would I link the two?

So, what did you do?

I prepared a demo of both the sets and made the editors listen to it. They loved it. It was then decided that the first set, comprising Sangachhadwam and the bhajans, Jaya Jayathi Raghuvansha Bhushan and Tuma Karata Daatha Bidhata, would be performed at the start of the show. Their idea was to perform the first few lines of the opening song, Sangachhadwam, in darkness to keep the audience guessing who was singing on stage. Then gradually, the stage would light up to reveal that it is indeed me singing.

How did you prepare to present Sangachhadhwam?

I had not sung the Vedic hymn before, but I knew it pretty well. As a child I had heard my mother singing the song and teaching her students — she was assistant headmistress of a school where she was in charge of all cultural programmes. My mother used to also sing another song from the Vedas, Tamis Swaranam. So, I have always been familiar with these devotional songs.

And the bhajans?

I knew the bhajans from my student days at Banichakra [a music school of Kolkata that is a rite of passage for any musically inclined youngster]. I was there for around four years. And I learnt to sing all kinds of songs. I used to do very well there. I used to be ranked first every year. My training in music was always centred around such traditional, semi-classical songs. 

Sandhya Mukhopadhay has also sung Jaya Jayathi Raghuvansha Bhushan.

Yes, I knew Sandhya Mukhopadhyay well. She used to like my songs and used to call me ‘bhai’. She has seen one of my online concerts. Unfortunately, she has left us. Otherwise, maybe I would have been able to bring her to one of our concerts. But I will always rue the fact that I could not sing this bhajan for her. Also, you know, this wasn’t the first time I performed Jaya Jayathi.  I have done it in my solo shows. It was a simpler arrangement with only my guitar as accompaniment. And I dedicated it to Sandhya Mukhopadhay.

You mentioned singing lessons at Banichakra. But you have been singing on stage from a very young age?

Yes, when I was all of four. I went up on stage with my parents’ group, Jhankar Shilpi Goshthi, and played a percussion instrument. They were to perform and I insisted that I be allowed to go up on stage too. So, they bought me a maracas with which I got to do one rehearsal. Mind you I had only got the instrument the night before and learnt how to play it on my own. In the process I invented a completely new style of playing the shaker — my approach to it was kind of similar to playing the tabla.

What do you remember of your first appearance on stage?

Since it was dark, and I couldn’t see the audience, I remember going up to the edge of the stage to try and spot my Dida (grandmother) who was in the audience. Often, people talk of my showmanship. I believe it was born that night.

Today, Rupam is a sprightly man nearing 50, but looking at least two decades younger. Regular exercise to Brit pop keeps him fit. A busy schedule warranted by the multiple avatars he nurtures keeps him going. There are many Rupams at play here: school teacher Rupam, rockstar Rupam, “Ekok (solo)” Rupam, Fossils Rupam, playback Rupam, TV Rupam, podcaster Rupam, editor Rupam (Bangla Rock Magazine). Add to that writer Rupam, the author of seven highly successful books, two of which are based on the adventures of his fictional creation, Brahma Thakur, a “psychiatrist with a dark past”. Now, he’s in the midst of wrapping up Thakur’s latest exploits for a Bangla website.   

Rupam works fast. He’s a creative Ninja. He needed only a page to write Bangla lyrics for Naatu Naatu. All of it in one go, with barely two changes before recording it. Recently, he put nine songs to tune (for a play) in about three hours flat. All this with an unnerving sense of confidence — “…actually nothing is impossible for me.”

That’s why perhaps he said yes to Bochhorer Best. It’s been a week or so since he sang, emerging on stage from darkness. Yet many who were there may still be humming Sangachhadwam, a tune we always knew but have left far behind. Some may have even wondered how far we have all come.

“May we march forward with a common goal. May we be open-minded and work together in harmony”.

Source: telegraphindia.com

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Tension In Olpad Town Of SuratAfter Muslim Man Accused Of Kidnapping Hindu Minor Girl While She Returns Home The Next Day

While the 16-year-old girl returned home the next day, a kidnapping case was lodged against the man who is yet to be traced. On Friday, several youths who allegedly took part in stone pelting were held from both communities.

By: Express News Service

April 29, 2023

Tension gripped Surat district’s Olpad town late Thursday as members from two communities, including alleged VHP and Bajrang Dal workers, indulged in stone-pelting after a minor Hindu girl allegedly eloped with a 20-year-old Muslim man on April 25.

While the 16-year-old girl returned home the next day, a kidnapping case has been lodged against the man who is yet to be traced. On Friday, several youths who allegedly took part in stone pelting were held from both communities.

According to local residents, a group of youths allegedly linked to the VHP and the Bajrang Dal on Thursday night arrived at a residential society where the 20-year-old man lived. Amid chants of slogans, stones were thrown at the house of the man and other houses in the neighbourhood.

The residents claimed that as youths from the other community retaliated, the protesters left. Nobody was injured in the stone-pelting.

Hitesh Joysar, Superintendent of Police, Surat district, said, “At present, the situation is normal and I have been here since last night. Our team reached the spot immediately on Thursday night before the situation went out of control. People were angry after a Hindu girl eloped with a Muslim man. A kidnapping complaint was filed by the girl’s family.”

He added, “Our officers have taken the statement of the girl. We will add sections under the POCSO (Protection of Children from Sexual Offences) Act in the complaint. We have picked up some youths from both groups. We are working to register rioting offences against the mob and will also carry out a medical examination of the girl.”

A team of police officers was rushed to the spot on Thursday night, following which the mob was dispersed.

Later in the night, Joysar, Deputy Superintendent of Police B K Vanar, and other police officers reached the spot. People were instructed to remain inside their homes and police personnel were deployed in sensitive areas to prevent any untoward incidents.

According to the police, on the afternoon of April 25, the girl left for work.

But family realised she had not reached her place of work when her colleague called up asking for her. “The family members then checked at the man’s house but in vain. The two had reportedly been seeing each other for the last few months,” said an officer.

After returning to the town on April 26, the girl recorded her statement with the police. Some alleged VHP and Bajrang Dal members reached the Olpad police station the same day, seeking that the Muslim man be arrested at the earliest.

Following a complaint by the girl’s family, the police registered an FIR against the man under sections 363 (punishment for kidnapping) and 366 (kidnapping, abducting or inducing a woman to compel her for marriage) of the IPC.

Source: indianexpress.com

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Chrisann Pereira case: Drug accused planned revenge after watching video on narcotics laws in Islamic nations

In all the cases, Paul reportedly sought to extract revenge for various reasons – a break-up, jealousy, work-related issues, and fight over Covid restrictions.

Written by Mohamed Thaver

April 28, 2023

Drug accused planned revenge after watching video on narcotics laws in Islamic nationsAnthony Paul , Rajesh Borate

Anthony Paul, who was arrested in Mumbai for allegedly planting drugs on actor Chrisann Pereira (27), had devised the plan to exact revenge after seeing a video on YouTube last year about stringent laws against narcotics in Islamic countries, police said.

Paul, 35, and his accomplice, Rajesh Borate alias Ravi (35), who has also been arrested, had got two of their victims arrested in Sharjah – Pereira and Clayton Rodrigues.

According to Mumbai Police Crime Branch sources, Paul had tried to frame three other persons in a similar manner since January.

In all the cases, Paul reportedly sought to extract revenge for various reasons – a break-up, jealousy, work-related issues, and fight over Covid restrictions.

Police said that he started doing research and zeroed in on Sharjah as tickets were cheaper compared to other countries that had stringent laws. He then drew up a list of people he wanted to get back at and did research on the background of each and the way they could be trapped, police said.

An officer linked to the probe said, “When we asked why he started taking revenge from this year when he fought with these people earlier, he said that he came across a YouTube video about stringent punishment for those caught with drugs in Islamic countries last year. He then conducted research online and found that if he could get these people caught in these countries, they would be in for the long haul.”

The officer added, “We suspect that since Sharjah was cheaper he chose it since he was footing the bill for the tickets while sending these people to Sharjah. He also gave them return tickets, but there were forged tickets.” The police said that he then started researching all the people he wanted to get back at and studied their family members and their occupations.

Once he zeroed in on a particular person, he spent days researching the person’s profile and possible jobs that they could be lured with. The officer said that so far it appears that even Borate was not aware about the complete scale of the plan. “He was just told that they would make money off the enterprise and he would be able to return a loan he had taken from Borate,” the officer added.

Police said Paul was co-operative during the interrogation so far. The police said that they are currently probing who supplied the narcotics that were used by Paul to hide in mementos and trophies that he asked victims to carry.

Source: indianexpress.com

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https://indianexpress.com/article/cities/mumbai/drug-accused-planned-revenge-after-watching-video-on-narcotics-laws-in-islamic-nations-8580144/

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India Urges Shanghai Cooperation Group to Fight Terrorism

29-04-23

“Any kind of terrorist act or support for it in any form is a major crime against humanity,” the Defense Ministry quoted Singh as saying at a one-day meeting of SCO defense ministers in New Delhi.

The SCO was founded in 2001 by China, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. It was later expanded to include India and Pakistan.

India accuses longtime rival Pakistan of arming and training insurgent groups fighting for the independence of Indian-controlled Kashmir or its integration into Pakistan, a charge Islamabad denies. In Afghanistan, the Taliban’s imposition of new measures such as restrictions on women is a concern for SCO member states.

The grouping identifies security, trade, investment, environmental protection, information technology and tourism in the region as key areas of cooperation.

Singh met with Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu on the sidelines of the meeting and discussed military-to-military ties as well as industrial partnerships.

India’s Defense Ministry said they discussed the Russian defense industry’s participation in the Indian government’s “Make in India” initiative to increase domestic production.

India is dependent on Russia for up to 60% of its arms purchases and Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government is trying to set up joint ventures to develop the domestic industry.

The two ministers also discussed regional peace and security and reiterated their commitment to strengthen the partnership between the two nations, particularly in defense, the ministry said.

Source: tolonews.com

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https://tolonews.com/world-183155

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Australia and New Zealand

 

Australian arrested, accused of spitting in imam’s face in Indonesian mosque

By Megan Gorrey, Harriet Alexander and Karuni Rompies

April 29, 2023

An Australian has been arrested in Indonesia after allegedly spitting in the face of an imam during an early morning call to prayer at a mosque in West Java.

Brenton Craig Abbas Abdullah McArthur, 47, is accused of spitting on Imam M Basri Anwar’s face at the al-Muhajir Mosque in the city of Bandung on Friday.

Bandung police chief Kombes Budi Sartono told Indonesian news website Kumparan on Friday that the imam had reported the incident to police, who were investigating the allegations.

“We will co-ordinate with the Immigration and the Ministry of Religion to ascertain whether any actions have been violated or not,” he said.

The website later reported McArthur had checked out of his room at the Pringgodani Guest House, opposite the mosque, about three hours after the alleged 6am incident.

On Saturday, police said McArthur had been arrested at the airport on Friday night.

“He was picked up from Soetta [Soekarno-Hatta airport in Jakarta] and is now here [in Bandung police office] for questioning,” Budi Sartono, Bandung police chief, told reporters.

The police chief said McArthur was not trying to escape – he already had a ticket to go back to Australia that day.

Video footage of the alleged incident shows a man in a dark shirt and cap speaking to the imam inside the mosque before leaning forward and spitting into his face. The imam recoils before he flees, and the man turns and walks away.

Kumparan reported that McArthur had suddenly approached the pulpit, where the imam was listening to recitations of the Koran on his mobile phone, which was held close to a loudspeaker.

He allegedly spat at the man’s face and used “harsh words”. He then allegedly made a gesture to throw a punch, prompting the imam to run away.

The motive for the alleged incident was unclear. However, it was reported that McArthur had been disturbed by the sound of the recitations from the Koran.

Brenton McArthur in an image from his Instagram account.

Brenton McArthur in an image from his Instagram account.CREDIT:INSTAGRAM

McArthur appeared to refer to the alleged incident in an Instagram post on Saturday morning (AEST) in which he posted a video of himself saying: “Stop crying all your rascist [sic] tears.

“I am a Muslim and this is just a rascist [sic] threatening a bule and laughing being a coward.” Bule is an Indonesian word for foreigner.

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The post was accompanied by a song titled Love Is the Answer by US artist Natalie Taylor.

McArthur describes himself on his profile as a computer game developer, writer and teacher with interests in philosophy, ethics, human goodness and electronic engineering. He has posted photos of his travels in Indonesia, including trips to mosques, and of himself practising Wushu martial arts.

On his Twitter account he calls himself a “Government Punching Bag ... Fighting for Human Rights, International Security and Justice for my Family”.

In June 2017, he posted on social media that he had been issued a certificate from the Ministry of Internally Displaced Persons from the Occupied Territories, Accommodation and Refugees of Georgia, and began describing himself as a refugee. He told his 37 Twitter followers that he had been given refugee status for knowledge of corruption and had provided intelligence, without stating to whom or about which country.

He also posted a photograph of himself outside the State Security Service in Tbilisi, Georgia, saying that he dreamt of working for that agency.

The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade has been approached for comment.

Get a note directly from our foreign correspondents on what’s making headlines around the world. Sign up for the weekly What in the World newsletter here.

Source: watoday.com.au

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https://www.watoday.com.au/world/asia/australian-arrested-accused-of-spitting-in-imam-s-face-in-indonesian-mosque-20230429-p5d493.html

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Aucklanders Invited by Ahmadiyya  Muslims To 'Meet Your Muslim Neighbour' Before Judging

Apr 29 2023

If you’ve never had a conversation with a Muslim before, one group is pitching a tent in West Auckland on Sunday to say, Salaam.

Members of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community are fighting Islamophobia by inviting people to chat in Auckland’s Titirangi Village Market under the banner ‘Meet Your Muslim Neighbour’.

Waikato imam Asif Munir, who’s running the campaign, said people often made snap judgements based on his religion.

“Some people, when they see me with my beard or they see my wife with her hijab, they relate that to violence.

“That hurts me because Islam is all about peace,” he said.

When Munir moved from England to New Zealand in 2023, it didn’t take long to encounter Islamophobia on his street.

“One of my neighbours saw me and he knew straight away that we were Muslims. He said a slur and asked, ‘Do you carry any guns with you?’”

Talking with people really did make a difference, Munir said.

“You can see a change. I’ve only been doing it for a few months, but I've spoken to many people – Muslims and non-Muslims.

“People may carry negative sentiments towards us but when they see us smiling they feel we are one of them,” he said.

Munir is welcoming anyone to bring their questions about Islam on Sunday to combat misconceptions and stereotypes.

Mirza Sarfraz, 40, has been part of the ‘Meet Your Muslim Neighbour’ campaign since the Christchurch mosque shootings in 2019.

Instances of Islamophobia quadrupled after the Christchurch mosque attack, according to a 2022 Australia study.

Hate rhetoric online escalated from threats telling Muslims to “go home” before the Christchurch shooting, to blatant threats of mass killing or civil war.

“We know there is a negative sentiment about Islam, and we’re trying to remove the misunderstanding. Our community motto is love for all, hatred for none,” Sarfraz said.

Getting out there and speaking to people was key to getting Kiwis to see Muslims as their friends and neighbours, he said.

“We just try to put ourselves in our community so people can meet us physically. If they have any questions, they can ask us.”

Over the past four years, the group has visited more than 20 cities and towns across New Zealand, travelling from Invercargill to Blenheim, Palmerston North to Whangārei.

About 99% percent of his interactions had been positive, Sarfraz said, but he’d encountered his fair share of abuse as well.

“People ask ‘why [did] you come here, go home to your own country’,” he said.

“That’s why we’re passionate about telling people in New Zealand that Islam is a peaceful religion.”

Source: stuff.co.nz

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Africa

 

Sudan fighting: No talks until bombing stops, Hemedti tells BBC

By Zeinab Badawi & Lucy Fleming

29-04-23

BBC News

One of Sudan's duelling generals, who leads the paramilitary force fighting the country's army, has told the BBC he will not negotiate until fighting ends.

But Gen Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, better known as Hemedti, said his fighters were being "relentlessly" bombed since a three-day truce had been extended.

"We don't want to destroy Sudan," he said, blaming army chief Gen Abdel Fattah al-Burhan for the violence.

Gen Burhan has tentatively agreed to face-to-face talks in South Sudan.

Thursday night's extension of an uneasy ceasefire followed intensive diplomatic efforts by neighbouring countries, as well as the US, UK and UN.

As of Saturday air, tank and artillery strikes are continuing in parts of Khartoum, making the prospect of any wider dialogue between the two rival military factions seem remote.

Speaking to the BBC by phone, Hemedti said he was open to talks but the condition was that the ceasefire should hold: "Cease hostilities. After that we can have negotiations."

He said he had no personal problem with Gen Burhan, but regarded him as a traitor for bringing into government those loyal to former President Omar al-Bashir, who was ousted by the army and RSF together in 2019 after mass street protests.

Bashir's regime - in power for three decades - was known for its Islamist ideology and imposition of a strict version of Sharia (Islamic law).

"Unfortunately Burhan is being led by the radical Islamic front leaders," Hemedti said.

In 2021, he and Gen Burhan overturned an agreement to share power with civilians, taking full control in a coup.

They fell out this year over the proposed return to civilian rule, in particular about the timeframe of incorporating Hemedti's 100,000-strong Rapid Support Force's (RSF) into the army.

"I am looking forward to having the civilian government today - before tomorrow, a fully civilian government. This is my principle," Hemedti told the BBC.

This is not the first time the RSF leader has spoken of his commitment to democracy, although analysts point out that his forces have brutally put down civilian protests in the past.

The two generals fighting over Sudan's future

Hemedti told the BBC that his RSF fighters were not the enemies of the military soldiers, explaining they were battling to protect the country from "the relics of the government of the past 30 years".

"We won't fight you. Please go back to your army divisions and we won't fight you."

Fears grow as violence spreads

Hemedti's comments to the BBC come as millions remain trapped in the capital Khartoum, where there are shortages of food, water and fuel.

In some parts of the city, trenches have been dug as rival troops battle each other street by street, AFP reports.

The UN says RSF troops are forcing people from their homes and looting and extortion is taking place.

However, Hemedti told the BBC his rivals were dressing up in RSF uniforms in order to discredit his fighters.

He categorically denied involvement in looting and taking over hospitals, saying his troops were trying to help residents of a city reeling from fierce clashes that began 14 days ago.

"My team is working on the water and electricity supplies for the areas we control. Unfortunately all the technicians and engineers have disappeared. And this is our main problem," he said.

At least 512 people have been killed and 4,193 wounded in the fighting, according to health ministry figures, although the real death toll is likely much higher.

The UN says hundreds of thousands of Sudanese have now fled their homes, often paying huge sums to leave and facing abuses en route.

As well as the thousands of foreigners who have been evacuated, tens of thousands of Sudanese have crossed into neighbouring countries, including Chad, Egypt and South Sudan.

Reuters reports a UN official as saying some have walked from Khartoum to South Sudan's border, a distance of more than 400km (250 miles).

Earlier a Turkish evacuation plane was shot at as it was landing at an airport outside Khartoum. No-one was injured and the RSF denied accusations by the army that it was involved.

Those remaining in Khartoum describe living in a "constant state of fear".

"We hear the sounds of planes and explosions. We don't know when this hell will end," 65-year-old Mahasin al-Awad, a resident of Bahri, a northern area of Khartoum, told Reuters.

Violence is reported to have been particularly bad in El Geneina, a city in Darfur in western Sudan, where the RSF and militias linked to the group are reported to have looted and torched markets, aid warehouses and banks.

Source: bbc.com

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https://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-65426892

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Tinubu, Shettima’s lives in danger, Muslim group raises the alarm

Apr 29, 2023

The Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) on Friday raised the alarm over the lives of the President-elect Bola Tinubu and his Vice, Kashim Shettima.

MURIC’s Executive Director, Ishaq Akintola, who made the call in a statement, said there is need for increased security measures for both Tinubu and Shettima.

Akintola said the call was necessitated following rising security threats and treasonable utterances from the opposition camp, which according to them, bordered on desperation.

“We find it necessary to alert the nation, particularly the security agencies, concerning ominous signs on the Nigerian political horizon.

“We call on the security agencies to double guards for the president-elect, Bola Ahmed Tinubu and his vice(-president), Kashim Shettima. Nothing must happen to them.

“We remind those plotting to truncate the presidential inauguration, billed for May 29, of the dire consequences of their actions,” the MURIC statement noted.

Mr. Akintola urged the opposition to exercise restraint in contesting the election results.

“Those who fight and run away live to fight another day. Those who did not win in 2023 have another chance in 2027,” the MURIC boss explained.

“Remember the words of Paul Tibbets, who dropped the atomic bomb on Hiroshima, ‘My God! What have we done?’ But it was too late. The damage had already been done. A word is enough for the wise,” the organization added.

Source: championnews.com.ng

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Tinubu joins Buhari, other faithful to perform Juma’at prayer at Aso Rock Mosque

April 28, 2023

President-elect, Bola Tinubu on Friday joined President Muhammadu Buhari and hundreds of Muslim faithful to perform the 2-raka’at Friday prayer at the Aso Rock Mosque, Presidential Villa, Abuja.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the prayer session was led by the Chief Imam of the Mosque, Malam Abubakar Sulaiman.

NAN observed that other Muslim faithful in attendance include the Speaker, House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, Majority Leader of the House of Representatives, Alhassan Doguwa and National Security Adviser, retired Maj-Gen. Babagana Monguno.

Others are, the Attorney-General and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, some heads of para-military organisations and other Muslim faithful. (NAN)

Source: newsdiaryonline.com

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Zimbabwe opposition party leader jailed

Shingai Nyoka

28 Apr

Jacob Ngarivhume and others took part in the anti-government protestsImage caption: Jacob Ngarivhume and others took part in the anti-government protests

A Harare magistrate has jailed the leader of a small opposition party for his role in calling for anti-government protests three years ago.

Jacob Ngarivhume of the Transform Zimbabwe was sentenced to four years in jail with 12 months suspended. Magistrate Feresi Chakanyanya said a fine or suspended sentence would have trivialised the offence of inciting the public to commit violence.

Ngarivhume was arrested in July 2020 for calling for protests against corruption and deepening economic woes.

Police banned the protests citing coronavirus restrictions and arrested several government critics - including internationally acclaimed author Tsitsi Dangarembga for holding up protest placards on the roadside in her neighbourhood.

Earlier this year, Dangarembga was found guilty of inciting violence, but given the option of a fine.

Ngarivhume will appeal against both his conviction and sentence.

The Zimbabwe government has been accused of using the law to suppress freedom of speech in the country.

Source: bbc.com

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https://www.bbc.com/news/world/africa

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Senegal: Nine army veterans who fought for France return

29-04-23

Nine very old riflemen, who fought for France in Indochina and Algeria, arrived in Senegal on Friday to end their lives peacefully, after a long battle with the French administration to have their "sacrifices" recognised.

When the first of them walked through the doors of the plane at Blaise Diagne airport, installed in his wheelchair, white beard, dressed in a traditional brown boubou, families and veterans have launched the first applause.

It was time for a reunion. Some smiled, others cried, all marked by the emotion of returning to their country of origin in the twilight of their lives.

This moment was made possible thanks to a derogatory measure decided by the French government, which allows them to live permanently in Senegal without losing their minimum old-age allowance of 950 euros per month.

"I am very happy to be back with my family, my brothers, my children," said 91-year-old Oumar Diémé on his arrival.

A few minutes before, his brother Sidi introduced him to AFP as "the patriarch", "the baobab of the family", who was sorely missed. His relatives prepared a mafé, his favourite dish, for his return.

"The measure may have come a little late, but today the prevailing feeling is one of joy," he said, saying his only regret is that his eldest child "will not be able to benefit from the same medical care as in France.

The nine soldiers were then received at the presidential palace by President Macky Sall, who decorated them.

- Injustice repaired" -

"Today we celebrate an injustice repaired. You can finally live at home, with your families and receive your full pensions," said President Sall.

"This ceremony is an exercise in memory in recognition of the sacrifices. It is also a reminder of the long series of injustices against the infantrymen who have been in all the battles," he added.

"All the Senegalese infantrymen have given their full satisfaction to France. It is a debt that France has paid us," reacted Yoro Diao, their spokesman.

All elegant in impeccable suits or traditional tunics, wearing their military medals with poise, these Senegalese riflemen had left at dawn their 15-square-metre studios in a hostel in Bondy, near Paris, where they had lived for years.

"Long live our fathers!" and "Long live France and Senegal!" were the words heard during the moving moments of group photos and exchanges with the French Secretary of State for Veterans and Remembrance, Patricia Mirallès, before their departure. "We will miss you! but the family is waiting for you there...", the Secretary of State told them, moved.

"I am very happy to return to Senegal and to continue to benefit from the rights I had in France; for the past 25 or 20 years, it was hard for our relatives to commute, and for our age too.

 N'Dongo Dieng, 87, wearing his military medals on a mustard tunic, told AFP.

This comes "late", because "many comrades died before benefiting from this measure...", lamented the veteran.

Exceptional aid also finances their removal, their return flight and their resettlement.

- Relief" -

"I am extremely moved," Aïssata Seck, president of the Association for the Memory and History of Senegalese Tirailleurs, told AFP before taking the plane.

The granddaughter of a rifleman, she was the linchpin who for 10 years worked for their recognition, until the decision of French President Emmanuel Macron in early 2023 to announce this derogatory measure for their allowance.

"The fact that they can finally return home is a real relief and the culmination of a very long struggle" for them to have "a dignified end to their lives", according to Ms Seck, who believes that the French state "did what was necessary".

For Claire Miot, a lecturer in history at the Institute of Political Studies in Aix-en-Provence (France), "it is a recognition of their sacrifices in the service of France that is extremely late because these are men who are 90 years old.

The French "Senegalese Riflemen" corps, created under the Second Empire (1852-1870) and disbanded in the 1960s, brought together soldiers from the former African colonies. The term came to designate all African soldiers who fought under the French flag.

After Friday's departures, there are still 28 Tirailleurs in France - all of Senegalese origin -, many of whom are likely to return permanently soon.

Yoro Diao, 95, who volunteered for the French army as part of his family's tradition, is wearing the Legion of Honour and wants to "rest" in Kaolack, in central Senegal.

"It's a very important day for us, and memorable," he told AFP before boarding the plane. "Our children and grandchildren will always remember... that grandpa came back from France that day very happy.

Source: africanews.com

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Southeast Asia

 

Indonesian military builds six church bell towers in Papua

29-04-23

Lanny Jaya, Papua (ANTARA) - Soldiers of the Infantry Battalion (Yonif) MR 412  of the Army Strategic Reserves Command (Kostrad) helped build six church bell towers for congregations in their assigned region, Lanny Jaya District in Papua.

The Yonif MR 412 Task Force Commander, Lieutenant Colonel Moch. Renaldy Herbowo, in his statement received here on Sunday, explained that his task force's contributions were in the form of six church bell towers.

The six towers were officially handed over through a series of worship activities, such as the stone burning tradition, which served as a sign of gratitude.

"The key procession of the church's bell tower was held simultaneously in six locations in Lanny Jaya District," Herbowo said.

Related news: Social communication part of TNI's priority programs in Papua: Perkasa

He also hoped that the bell towers will bring benefits and peace among the church congregations in Lanny Jaya District.

"Hopefully, the sounds of these bells can be a facility to call the congregation to come to worship, so that peace in the land of Papua is looked after. This is the Indonesian Defense Forces' (TNI's) purpose here, we come for peace and love the people of Lanny Jaya," he said.

According to him, the construction of these bell towers was initiated due to the shortages of church facilities. Back then, people only used a piece of metal and old oxygen tube for the bells, making some churchgoers were often late coming to the service.

Yonif MR 412 Task Force of he Army Strategic Reserves Command built six bell towers in Pinime Church in Malagay Village, Tipugwi Church and Lowanom Church in Malagayneri Village, Mowi Church in Balingga, Manggalome Church in Tima Village and Wiyaware Church in Pirime Village.

Meanwhile, pastors and community leaders of each church congregation expressed gratitude to the task force for providing something useful for the congregation.

"We never thought of these bell towers. Thank God for the 412 Kostrad battalion," Pastor Del Tabuni from Mowi Church said.

Source: antaranews.com

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https://en.antaranews.com/news/208661/indonesian-military-builds-six-church-bell-towers-in-papua

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I’m not the enemy, I want to develop Kedah, says PM

29 Apr 2023

PETALING JAYA: Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim has called on Kedahans to back Pakatan Harapan (PH) and Barisan Nasional (BN) in the upcoming state elections, insisting he’s not the enemy despite Kedah’s fractious relationship with Putrajaya.

Speaking at a Madani Kedah event in Alor Setar, Anwar again denied claims that he had sidelined states governed by Perikatan Nasional (PN), including the PAS-led Kedah.

“Since I became finance minister, I’ve increased the allocations for the four states (governed by PN), including Kedah.

“Kelantan suffered terrible floods, so I added a flood mitigation project worth RM1 billion. It’s not that I need (support from) Kelantan, but I pity the people.

“I ask all of you to understand this. I am not anyone’s enemy. I am here to say that it is time for Kedah to be developed again,” he told the crowd gathered at Dataran Stargate.

Anwar also dismissed criticism levelled against him over the Hari Raya open house he will host in Kedah, Terengganu and Kelantan, saying it would actually be cheaper than the annual open house in Seri Perdana.

“It’s not as if we will win the state election just because of that one event.

“I don’t want you to support me because of an open house. I want you to support the unity government because our policies uplift the people and the nation,” he said.

Kedah is among the six states that must hold their state elections within the next three months. The other five states are Selangor, Negeri Sembilan, Penang, Kelantan, and Terengganu.

Earlier this month, it was announced that the prime minister’s annual Hari Raya open house will be held in Kedah, Kelantan and Terengganu this year.

This is the first time that the annual open house will not be held at the prime minister’s official residence in Putrajaya.

Anwar will also attend three other Hari Raya open houses in Selangor, Penang and Negeri Sembilan, organised by the respective state governments.

This drew brickbats from the opposition, who claimed it contradicted Putrajaya’s commitment to do away with massive events to cut costs and that the government was politicising the festivities with the state polls looming.

Source: freemalaysiatoday.com

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https://www.freemalaysiatoday.com/category/nation/2023/04/29/im-not-the-enemy-i-want-to-develop-kedah-says-pm/

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Zahid slams ‘inappropriate comments’ on Najib pardon bid

28 Apr 2023

PONTIAN: Umno president Ahmad Zahid Hamidi has urged all quarters to stop making “inappropriate comments” on the party’s bid to seek a pardon for former prime minister Najib Razak.

“Let’s leave the matter to the Yang di-Pertuan Agong as he has the prerogative. I do not welcome views from any organisations, what more friendly political parties making inappropriate comments,” he said.

Zahid, who is a deputy prime minister, said this to reporters after attending Pontian Umno’s Aidilfitri open house in Benut here today.

He was asked to comment on a statement by Amanah communications director Khalid Samad earlier calling for Najib’s pardon application to be rejected. Amanah is a member of Pakatan Harapan (PH) which is a partner of Umno in the coalition government.

Zahid had previously said that Umno’s move to seek a royal pardon was in accordance with existing legal procedure and not a form of political pressure.

Najib was jailed 12 years and fined RM210 million after being convicted of charges of abuse of power, money laundering and criminal breach of trust over SRC International funds amounting to RM42 million.

BN holds seat talks with PH

Zahid, who is also Barisan Nasional (BN) chairman, said discussions had been held at state level with PH on seat allocations for the six state elections due this year.

“We will not hold separate talks between component parties in the coalitions. Any negotiation must be between the two coalitions, BN and PH.

“All decisions made during discussions in these six states will be taken to the highest level where we will further deliberate on the suitable seats to be contested. And once we have started this round of talks we will find the best way to determine winnable seats in the six states,” he said.

The six states due to hold their state elections this year are Kedah, Penang, Kelantan, Terengganu, Selangor and Negeri Sembilan.

Source: freemalaysiatoday.com

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https://www.freemalaysiatoday.com/category/nation/2023/04/28/zahid-slams-inappropriate-comments-on-najib-pardon-bid/

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Regional autonomy aims to realize fiscal independence: home minister

29 Apr 2023

Makassar, South Sulawesi (ANTARA) - Home Affairs Minister Tito Karnavian emphasized that the ultimate goal of regional autonomy is to realize fiscal independence in regional governance wherein it annuls the need to rely on the central government.

"The Regional Autonomy Day commemoration must be a (time for) reflection for all regions," Karnavian stated while opening the Regional Autonomy Day commemoration event at Losari Beach here on Saturday.

If regional authorities can exploit opportunities in their regions effectively, their regional revenues and their chance to realize fiscal independence will increase, the minister remarked.

He also challenged regional leaders to develop breakthroughs and innovations to increase regional revenues to achieve fiscal independence.

"Hence, the tagline 'Advanced Regional Autonomy for Advanced Indonesia' can be realized as well as realizing Indonesia as a dominating country at the regional and the international levels," he stressed.

He affirmed that as Indonesia is endowed with cultural diversity, each region has its own characteristics, which regional authorities should take into account in their governance.

Meanwhile, the minister commended the Regional Autonomy Day commemoration concept devised by the Makassar municipal authority and lauded Mayor Mohamad Ramdhan Pomanto, popularly known as Danny Pomanto, for successfully organizing the event.

"I wish to express my gratitude, particularly to Makassar Mayor Mr Danny Pomanto. I did not expect the event will be as grand as this, but when Mr Danny is at the helm, he is always ready with surprises," Karnavian stated.

This year's Regional Autonomy Day commemoration is the largest to take place at an outdoor venue, he remarked.

The minister also pointed out that the event could be compared to a grand meeting between President Joko Widodo and regional leadership coordination forums and regional heads nationwide in Sentul, West Java, last January, which he considered as being the largest.

"It was one of the largest, yet it (took place) at an indoor space. The largest (event) taking place at an outdoor space is here, in Makassar," Karnavian noted.

Source: antaranews.com

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https://en.antaranews.com/news/279996/regional-autonomy-aims-to-realize-fiscal-independence-home-minister

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TNI to evacuate remaining Indonesians from Port Sudan on Friday

28th April 2023

Tangerang, Banten (ANTARA) - The Indonesian Defense Forces (TNI) is scheduled to transport the last evacuated group of Indonesian citizens (WNI) comprising 111 people from Port Sudan, Sudan, to Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, on Friday.

"The TNI AU’s (Indonesian Air Force’s) aircraft that I deployed prior, a Boeing 737 (plane), had carried out two evacuation sorties (flight missions), (transporting) 100 people in each sortie,” TNI Commander Admiral Yudo Margono stated at the Soekarno-Hatta International Airport here on Friday.

“There are only 111 (WNI) left (who had not been evacuated). Hopefully, the situation is safe today (on Friday). Thus, they can be evacuated too," he remarked.

The last evacuated group of WNI is planned to return from Jeddah to Indonesia on Sunday (April 30, 2023) aboard TNI AU’s aircraft.

The TNI commander expects that the evacuation will run smoothly, and all WNI can return to Indonesia safely.

Earlier, he noted that the evacuation of WNI was conducted through Port Sudan, as it was faster to travel from the port city to Jeddah than from Khartoum, the capital of Sudan.

It only takes 45 minutes to fly from Port Sudan to Jeddah, while it takes an hour and a half to fly from Khartoum.

Meanwhile, on the same occasion, here, on Friday, Foreign Affairs Minister Retno Marsudi stated that the evacuation and repatriation of WNI had to be conducted in a relay and in stages since the situation in Sudan was dynamic.

"The evacuation process used a relay evacuation scheme, starting with the evacuation by land from Khartoum to Port Sudan and by sea as well as by air from Port Sudan to Jeddah, then (the WNI) left for Indonesia in stages," she remarked.

So far, 897 WNI had been evacuated to Jeddah. Some 385 of them had arrived in Indonesia on Friday at 5:46 a.m. Western Indonesia Standard Time (WIB).

The first evacuated group of WNI comprised 248 women and 137 men, including 43 children.

The second group will return from Jeddah to Indonesia on Saturday (April 29, 2023) and is scheduled to arrive in Indonesia on Sunday.

Source: en.antaranews.com

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https://en.antaranews.com/news/279918/tni-to-evacuate-remaining-indonesians-from-port-sudan-on-friday

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Pakistan

 

Parvez Elahi booked on terror charges following ‘attack’ on law enforcers during late-night raid

April 29, 2023

The raiding team, which included officials of Anti-Corruption Establish­ment (ACE) and police, had used an armoured vehicle to break open the main gate of the former Punjab chief minister’s Gulberg residence and arrested 12 people, mostly his employees, from the house. Female police officers had also taken some women into custody.

The police officials had thoroughly searched the house but was unable to find Elahi. They had also tried to force their entry into the adjoining residence of PML-Q President Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain, but they were resisted by Shujaat’s sons.

A first information report (FIR) was lodged today at at Lahore’s Ghalib Market Police Station invoking Section 7 of Anti-Terrorism Act 1997, and Section 324 (attempted murder), 353 (assault or criminal force to deter public servant from discharge of his duty), 109 (abetment), 147 (punishment for rioting), 148 (rioting, armed with deadly weapon), 149 (every member of unlawful assembly guilty of offence committed in prosecution of common object), 186 (obstructing public servant in discharge of public functions), 212 (harbouring offender), 427, 434 and 440 of the Pakistan Penal Code.

According to the FIR — a copy of which is available with Dawn.com — registered on the complaint of a duty officer, when the police arrived at Elahi’s residence to make the arrest, his employees “locked the house from the inside, while a countless” number of people present inside threatened the raiding team, pelted them with stones, and even doused petrol on them, causing a fire to break out“.

As a result, the complainant claimed, more police contingents were summoned to control the situation and an APC van was used to gain entry into the house.

According to the FIR, Elahi used the rear entrance of the house to escape as his supporters and workers “baton-charged the police party”.

Meanwhile, PTI leader Fawad Chaudhry condemned the raid on Elahi’s house, and said that the party will hold a meeting today to decide whether or not to continue the ongoing talks with the government regarding elections date.

“The attack on Parvez Elahi’s house, keeping Ali Amin Gandapur in wrongful confinement despite being granted bail and workers’ arrests are making the negotiation process meaningless,” he tweeted.

“If the government’s negotiation team cannot play any role in keeping the atmosphere calm even after assurances, then how will it make big decisions?” Fawad asked.

“We will make the decision of continuing the negotiation process or not in a meeting today presided by Imran Khan.”

Elahi’s son challenges raid in LHC

Meanwhile, Elahi’s son Rasikh Elahi, today challenged in the Lahore High Court (LHC) the raid at his father’s house.

The petition — a copy of which is available with Dawn.com — made the Punjab government, ACE director general and additional director general, Lahore Inspector General Dr Usman Anwar and senior superintendent of police, and Model Town superintendent of police respondents in the case.

Filed by Advocate Amir Saeed Rawn and Afsar Raza Khan, the petition asked the LHC to declare the raid “illegal and violative of the law as well as fundamental rights of the petitioner” and to direct the respondents to stop it.

It further asked the court to issue an “order to clear Zahoor Elahi Road from illegal occupation of police” and sought directions for the respondents to vacate the petitioner’s house.

The plea also asked the LHC to direct the Punjab government to “take strict action against public servants who have directly been part of the illegal raid and have misused their powers”, and to stop them from doing so.

The petition noted that the respondents raided Elahi’s house with 300 to 400 policemen armed with sticks, breaking the main gate of the house with police van“.

It said the police broke “all gates of three houses of Chaudhry Parvez Ellahi, Chaudhry Wajahat Hussain house and petitioner Rasikh Ellahi house and entered in the house without any search warrants”.

In his petition, Rasikh further said when the police raided the house, he was communicated that his father had been granted protective bail by the LHC which was also communicated to him through the Prosecution General Office.

The petitioner quoted the ACE additional director general as saying: “I will deal with the contempt proceeding, will also see the courts. Right now, have to fulfil the orders given.”

Late night drama

The Anti-Corruption Establish­ment said that its Gujra­nwala team had arrived at Elahi’s house to arrest him in a corruption case.

While Elahi’s legal team said that his pre-arrest bail had already been taken from a court until May 6, the ACE team insisted that Elahi was required in a new case and they would not leave without arresting the PTI leader.

According to Dawn, Elahi’s lawyers assured the ACE officials about the bail and also connected them with a court official by phone, but the raising team refused to budge.

“Punjab police is at our residence to arrest my father right now in a case for which he got bail today. His bail hearing was covered by all media outlets,” Moonis Elahi, ex-CM’s son and a former federal minister, tweeted around midnight.

“Strongly condemn the illegal raid on Pervez Elahi’s home with no respect to the women and family members present,” PTI chief Imran Khan tweeted past midnight on Saturday.

“We are seeing the dismantling of democracy in Pak before our eyes. There is no respect for Constitution, SC verdicts, or fundamental rights of the [people] — only law of jungle,” the former premier said.

Source: dawn.com

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https://www.dawn.com/news/1749957/parvez-elahi-booked-on-terror-charges-following-attack-on-law-enforcers-during-late-night-raid

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Cash-Strapped Pakistan Urges US To Restore Military Funding: Report

April 29, 2023

Washington: Cash-strapped Pakistan urged the United States to restore military financing and sales, which was earlier suspended by Former America President Donald Trump, according to Dawn.

Addressing the seminar in Washington, Pakistan's envoy to US Masood Khan, on Thursday said, "It is important that the US restores, for Pakistan, Foreign Military Financing and Foreign Military Sales, suspended by the previous administration."

Since the US withdrawal from Afghanistan, the US-Pakistan relationship has been stuck in a prolonged period of uncertainty. And, now with the rivalry between US and China, Pakistan's relations with America have strained and also damaged the country's deteriorating economy.

US Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asia, Elizabeth Horst, who was also at the event, focused on the need to help rebuild the troubled Pakistani economy and urged Islamabad to work with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to do so, reported Dawn.

"The reforms that Pakistan and the IMF agreed to are not easy," she said, adding, "But it's crucial that Pakistan take these actions to bring the country back to sound financial footing, avoid falling into further debt, and grow Pakistan's economy."

Washington asks Islamabad to implement 'tough reforms' agreed with IMF

Recently, the increase in high-level diplomatic engagements and dialogues gave Pakistan a ray of hope again with regard to repairing the strained ties with the US.

The half-day conference at Wilson Centre, Washington, focused on how the US-Pakistan relationship can be crafted against the backdrop of multiple challenging developments.

Responding to a question, Ambassador Khan said Pakistan placed its first order for Russian oil and did so in consultation with the US government, Dawn reported.

He also spoke about the role Pakistan can play in bringing stability to Afghanistan.

"Afghanistan's stability is imperative, first and foremost, for its own people who have suffered grievously over the past four decades," Dawn quoted Khan as saying.

Noting that the United States and China were both concerned about the growth of terrorism in Afghanistan, he said: "Let's work together to eliminate this threat. Today it is a threat for Pakistan and Afghanistan; if unchecked, it will spread to other parts of the region and beyond."

Source: ndtv.com

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https://www.ndtv.com/world-news/cash-strapped-pakistan-urges-us-to-restore-military-financing-sales-3989707

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COAS says army determined to ‘solidify’ bond with people, defeat enemy’s attempt to ‘drive a wedge’

April 29, 2023

Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Asim Munir on Saturday asserted that there was “no space for spoilers” of the country’s peace and stability, reiterating the army’s resolve to combat terrorism in his first public address since his appointment in November last year.

Addressing the passing out parade of the Pakistan Military Academy in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s Kakul, Gen Munir said, “There’s absolutely no space for spoilers of our great enterprise. Being a strong and proud sovereign nation, we are alive to the internal and external threats and will never let any attempts of causing instability or acts of terrorism to permeate our society.”

He asserted that the armed forces “stand resolute to mitigate the challenges of today and tomorrow” and reiterated that Pakistan’s resolve and resilience remain the “most significant attribute of its national fibre”.

“We want to signal our enemies, within and beyond, that armed forces of Pakistan will never shy away from any sacrifice to stabilise secure and safeguard the future of our next generations,” the COAS said.

In his maiden speech as the armed forces commander, Gen Munir highlighted the importance of democracy in what appeared to be the army’s reiteration of staying out of politics, as vowed earlier by former COAS (retd) Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa.

He noted, “Remember, people are central to the unity of the state and our future as well as progress depends on internal cohesion, democracy and constitutionalism.

“We will ensure that this bond is preserved and further solidified through selfless performance of the duties entrusted to us within the confines of the Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan,” the army chief vowed.

“Our enemies are hell-bent upon driving a wedge between our people and armed forces for their ulterior motives,” the COAS said in a veiled reference to alleged Indian interference.

Relations with neighbours

Additionally, Gen Munir stated that Pakistan firmly believed in harmonious coexistence with all nations, particularly its neighbours.

He welcomed “recent regional engagement” and peace initiatives and expressed hope that they would bring about a positive impact on the state of peace.

At the same time, the army chief stressed the importance of safeguarding Pakistan’s territorial integrity. “To protect our sovereignty, we are all aware of the means to do it.

“I assure the people of Pakistan that we are always ready and will never hesitate in rendering any and every sacrifice necessary for the defence of our sacred motherland.”

Moreover, Gen Munir expressed concern at the increasing use of information warfare by those within and across Pakistan’s borders.

While the country has defeated organised terrorism as an existential threat, the COAS acknowledged that the scourge still posed a significant threat to society.

Gen Munir also talked about the country’s relations with Afghanistan: “Pakistan’s efforts to initiate and continuously support the peace process in Afghanistan have been a manifestation of our desire of a peaceful economically integrated and a prosperous region.”

The army chief said “no country in the world has been as hospitable to the Afghan brethren as Pakistan”, noting that the country had hosted approximately 5 million refugees over four decades.

Pakistan to continue providing support to Kashmir

Gen Munir also reiterated Pakistan’s support for the Kashmiris’ “historic struggle for basic human rights and their legitimate quest for the right to self-determination as per the aspirations of the people of Kashmir and the resolutions of the UN Security Council”.

“Most importantly, let me highlight the plight of our Kashmiri brothers in Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir, who are subjected to brutal state oppression under one of the heaviest military deployments in the world,” he said.

The army chief urged the international community to “realise that without a just and peaceful resolution to the Kashmir issue, regional peace will remain elusive forever”. He vowed that Pakistan would continue to provide “political, moral and diplomatic support” to Kashmiris.

Gen Munir also noted that the army followed the founding father’s vision of having “no distinction based on caste, colour, creed, gender, or geography”. He emphasised that Pakistan’s ideologies were rooted in the principles of Islam and the “golden values of unity, faith, and discipline”.

Source: dawn.com

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

https://www.dawn.com/news/1749962/coas-says-army-determined-to-solidify-bond-with-people-defeat-enemys-attempt-to-drive-a-wedge

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US fears vulnerability may force Pakistan deeper into debt

April 29, 2023

eakers at Wilson Centre event say country teetering on verge of default, urgently needs help to overcome economic crisis

He pointed out that even the security partnership should go beyond military-to-military ties. “A country’s security includes law enforcement, criminal justice, narcotics control, economic security, and social protections,” he said.

One of the sessions focused on the role the Pakistani diaspora in the US can play in promoting US-Pakistan relations.

While moderating the session, IAL President Ghazanfar Hashmi said that now was the time to transform Pak-US relations from geopolitics to geo-economics. Cultural and public diplomacy, he said, includes “establishing people-to-people contact and strengthening bilateral relations between the two nations.

Prof Abbas noted that there’s a convergence of interest on Taliban, TTP and the resurgence other militant groups, as both sides wanted to prevent.

Stressing the need to go beyond security, he said: “Enough funds in the security sector, give more to other sectors, such as IT, education, health and people-to-people engagement,” he said.

Prof Abbas argued that both sides “have been making blunders in the security sector”, which needs to be broadened to train civilian forces, such as the police as well.

Other speakers noted that the US had lowered its engagement with Pakistan since it withdrew from Afghanistan in August 2021, and got engaged in a power competition with China.

They pointed out that Pakistan was teetering on the verge of default and urgently needs help to overcome its economic crisis, which has constrained the government’s ability to provide basic needs to the people.

The speakers argued that the US can help Pakistan in coming out of this crisis, but it was not fully engaged with this issue.

They noted that while the US has not obstructed talks for the resumption of an IMF assistance package, they were not offering bilateral assistance.

The speakers noted that so far only China, Saudi Arabia and UAE had helped Pakistan in preventing a default, sending together about $3 billion to its pool to meet an IMF condition.

The IMF wants Pakistan to arrange $6.5 billion from bilateral donors to meet its financial obligations and to qualify for an IMF programme.

China, which is Pakistan’s largest creditor to whom it owes $27 billion, has rolled over and refinanced some of the other loans as well.

The speakers noted that this would not be a one-time arrangement as Pakistan would need around $25 billion a year for repayments and debt financing over the next few years.

They warned that this would increase Pakistan’s reliance on China, which is willing to help Islamabad for strategic and historical reasons.

The speakers urged the United States not to leave this space open for China as it would push Pakistan deeper into the Chinese camp and hurt US interests in the region.

Source: dawn.com

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

https://www.dawn.com/news/1749928/us-fears-vulnerability-may-force-pakistan-deeper-into-debt

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