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Islamic World News ( 23 March 2023, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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India Asks Oman to Arrest and Extradite Islamist Preacher ‘Zakir Naik’ Who Is Accused Of Propagating Extremism In India

New Age Islam News Bureau

23 March 2023


Islamist Preacher Zakir Naik


• Pashtun Activist, Fazal-Ur-Rehman Afridi, At UN Exposes Pakistan’s Ties With Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan

• Biden Vows To Support Disaster-Hit Türkiye, Syria, Pakistan In Ramadan Wish

• Hagia Sophia Grand Mosque Decorated For Muslim Fasting Month Of Ramadan

• In A First, London's Piccadilly Circus Decked Out With Ramadan Lights



• Muslim Inmates Participate In Navratri Fast At Prayagraj's Naini Central Jail

• Ramzan Moon Not Sighted, Muslims In India To Begin Fasting From Friday

• 2024 Lok Sabha Polls: BJP’s Muslim Outreach In UP With PM Modi’s Mann Ki Baat Book

• Halal Vs Jhatka Row Surfaces Again During Festive Season In Karnataka



• Saudi Embassy Organizes Video Competition To Celebrate 70 Years Of Pak Saudi Relations

• Govt plotting to assassinate me, claims Imran Khan

• Pakistan: PDM leaders fail to reach consensus on banning PTI over violence

• Nation celebrates Pakistan Day as PM, president invoke ‘spirit of service’

• Govt pushes ahead with fuel subsidy scheme

• Commission to probe ‘threats’ to Imran’s life

• JI protests after stampede in Swabi flour distribution

• Sanaullah asks parliament to ’empower’ law enforcers to deal with Imran


North America

• President Biden expresses ‘solidarity’ with China’s Uyghurs as Ramadan begins

• Muslim told he cannot pray in Canadian train station

• Blinken says US ‘actively’ working to re-establish diplomatic presence in Libya

• US judge orders $1.68 bln payout to families over 1983 Beirut bombing



• Attack On Hospital: Israel’s Ramadan Gift To Palestinians

• Supreme Leader Calls for Ditching US Dollar in Trade Ties

• N. Chief: Iran Exporting Nuclear Medicine to 9 States

• Iran Strongly Condemns Israeli Official's Racist Comments on Palestinians

• Iranian FM Holds Talks with Emirati, Kuwaiti, Pakistani Counterparts on Regional Issues, Bilateral Ties

• No plan for new settlements in West Bank area evacuated in 2005: Israel

• In election setback for Erdogan, Turkey’s pro-Kurdish HDP will not field candidate

• 10 dead in new attack by Houthis in Yemen

• Jordanian MPs vote for expulsion of Israeli ambassador over 'racist' remarks by minister



• UK police question suspect after Muslim man set alight

• UK begins inquiry into British troops' alleged extrajudicial killings in Afghanistan

• German police conduct raids to arrest right-wing extremists

• Iran reiterates its opposition to continuation of war in Ukraine


South Asia

• Islamic Emirate Seeking to Hire Professionals, says Administrative Office of the President

• Taliban acting finance minister becomes central bank governor

• Sri Lanka wants 5m tourists a year, envoy tells Riyadh event


Southeast Asia

• 'Try It And See The Consequences': Johor Sultan Warns Against Defying Ban On Political Talk In Mosques

• King, Queen remind Muslims not to waste food during Ramadan

• Malaysia seeks closer ties with Saudi Arabia as PM arrives on first visit


Arab World

• Saudi, Iran FMs Hold Ramazan Call, Vow To Meet ‘Soon’: Riyadh

• Hezbollah leader vows immediate response to any Israeli military aggression on Lebanon

• Top UAE diplomat: Iran-Saudi rapprochement to benefit entire Middle East region

• Two sentenced to death in Iraq over activist’s abduction

• UAE President exchanges Ramadan greetings with Arab leaders

• Public Security chief: Begging at Grand Mosque will be dealt with firmly

• Prophet's Mosque agency sets date of grouping for Al-Rawdah Al-Sharifah

• Is Zakir Naik Likely To Be Deported From Oman? Know What His Lawyer Says

• Armed Russian jets violated US airspace over base in Syria 25 times in March: General

• Lebanon’s police fire tear gas as protesters try to storm govt headquarters

• Egypt’s Suez Canal economic zone and Abu Dhabi ports partner to develop projects

• Saudi Arabia’s King Salman arrives in Jeddah, shares message to nation as Ramadan begins

• ‘Starving’ retired army personnel protest against Lebanon’s ‘corrupt’ political elite

• Saudi Arabia strongly condemns Israel’s decision to allow re-settlement in northern West Bank

• OIC chief calls water conservation awareness



• Jordanian MPs vote to expel Israeli envoy in Amman over Palestine denial speech

• US Secretary Of State Blinken Says Tunisia Risks ‘Deep End’ Without IMF Deal

• Ramadan: Buhari sends message to Muslims as fasting begins

• Algeria’s police dismantle Syria-Europe human trafficking network

• Five migrants drown, 28 missing off Tunisia

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau



India Asks Oman to Arrest and Extradite Islamist Preacher ‘Zakir Naik’ Who Is Accused Of Propagating Extremism In India


Islamist Preacher Zakir Naik


By Nizamuddin Rezahi

March 22, 2023

India has asked the authorities in Oman to arrest and extradite the renowned Muslim preacher and scholar Dr. Zakir Naik, accused of propagating extremism in India and beyond, according to News 18. 

It is reported that Zakir Nai will travel to the Sultanate of Oman on Thursday (March 22), which marks the beginning of Ramadan, the holy fasting month for Muslims worldwide. Reportedly, Naik will deliver two important religious sermons at the commencement of Ramadan.

Dr. Naik is an Indian citizen who fled India in 2017 fearing detention allegedly accused of spreading hate speech and terrorism in India.

According to Business Today Daily, the Indian Consulate is in contact with Oman officials and has told them after Naik’s detention, a legal team will be sent to investigate and extradite him to India.

Furthermore, the ministry of foreign affairs of India has had a meeting with the Ambassador of Oman in this regard in the recent past.

It is reported that Naik had received an invitation to deliver two religious sermons in Oman– “The Quran a Global Necessity” and “Prophet Muhammad a Mercy to Humankind”. His first lecture is set for March 23, the first day of Ramadan on March 23 and the second lecture will be held on March 25 at Sultan Qaboos University.

Currently, the renowned Muslim preacher resides in Malaysia and is set to travel to Oman on Thursday, with the news of his detention spreading all over.

In 2018, the governments of the UK and Canada announced that Indian Cleric Dr. Zakir Naik, a popular Salafi television preacher, was banned from entering both countries, accused of propagating violence and hate speeches among the people.

Meanwhile, Naik’s invitation to give religious sermons at the FIFA World Cup 2022 had become controversial. However, after New Delhi raised concerns with Doha that it would be compelled to terminate Vice President Jagdeep Dhankar’s trip to the FIFA World Cup opening ceremony if Islamist Zakir Naik were to be formally invited to watch the event’s opening from the VVIP box, Qatar responded that Zakir Naik had not received any formal invitation to attend the event.

Source: Khaama Press

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Pashtun Activist, Fazal-Ur-Rehman Afridi, At UN Exposes Pakistan’s Ties With Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan


Pashtun political activist Fazal-ur-Rehman Afridi (Photo/ANI)


23 March, 2023

Geneva [Switzerland], March 23 (ANI): A Pashtun political activist during the 52nd Session of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva, exposed Pakistan for its close ties with Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP).

In his intervention, Fazal-ur-Rehman Afridi said, “We would like to turn the council’s attention towards a deteriorating security situation in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KPK) Pakistan having grave implications for the basic fundamental rights and lives of the Pashtun ethnic minority.”

“We express our concerns about the unannounced deal between the state of Pakistan and Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) to hand over Ex-FATA to TTP to be ruled under Sharia Laws,” he said.

He informed the Council that as per the deal, about 44,000 TTP militants and their families have to be re-settled in KPK. Thousands of Pashtuns, particularly the Pashtun Protection Movement have demonstrated all over Pakistan against this deal and demonstrated their strong urge for peace in their land.

“On January 30, 2023, TTP considered to be the proxy of Pakistani Military Establishment carried out one of the bloodiest suicide attack resulting in killing of at least 101 and injuring of 217 Pashtuns in Civil Lines Peshawar, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa”, he said.

Afridi said that TTP, in a recently released report claimed to have executed 367 attacks; with 348 attacks in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, 12 in Balochistan, five in Punjab and two in Sindh province of Pakistan resulting in the killing of 446 and injuring of 1015 persons in 2022. Earlier in December 2014, the same group in one of the deadliest attacks killed 147 students and teachers of APS in Peshawar.

“We request UN to investigate these abuses through the impartial mechanism and if possible bring the perpetrators to justice,” said the Pashtun activist.

Sydney-based Institute for Economics & Peace (IEP)’s recent Global Terrorism Index (GTI) – 2023 highlighted Afghanistan and Pakistan to be among the ten countries most affected by terrorism in 2022, with deaths in Pakistan rising significantly to 643, a 120 per cent increase from 2021.

It referred to this significant increase as predominantly driven by a rise in attacks by the ethno-nationalist organisation the Balochistan Liberation Army (BLA).

Deaths by Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) doubled while Islamic State-Khorasan (ISK) increased sevenfold in Pakistan. The BLA was responsible for a third of these deaths in Pakistan.

BLA is Pakistan’s own creation. It is the result of politics in Pakistan of the ethnic minority which turned into fighting for its own survival against the suppressive attitude of Pak authorities.

It continues to bleed the country at a time when the country is facing serious issues on economic and political fronts. Similar are the cases of TTP and ISK which are promoted for ideological reasons.

The report also stated that terrorism continues to be concentrated mainly along Pakistan’s border with Afghanistan, accounting for 63 per cent of attacks and 74 per cent of terrorism deaths in 2022. (ANI)

Source: The Print

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Biden Vows To Support Disaster-Hit Türkiye, Syria, Pakistan In Ramadan Wish


"Today, Jill and I extend our best wishes to Muslim communities across the country and around the world," says Biden in a statement. (AFP Archive)


23 March 2023

US President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden have marked the start of the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan, wishing Muslims worldwide "Ramadan Kareem."

"Today, Jill and I extend our best wishes to Muslim communities across the country and around the world as they begin the Islamic holy month of Ramadan — a time of fasting, renewal, charity, worship and growth," said Biden in a statement on Wednesday.

The president said the US reaffirms its support to Muslim communities suffering hardships and devastation.

"We will continue to stand with the people of Türkiye and Syria — who have lost many loved ones during the recent devastating earthquakes — and with the people of Pakistan, who are rebuilding their lives following last summer's floods.

"To my fellow Americans observing Ramadan, and to Muslims around the world: Ramadan Kareem — we wish you a blessed and peaceful Ramadan," said Biden.

Millions of Muslims across the world welcomed the holy month of Ramadan late on Wednesday.

Fasting, held from dawn to dusk during Ramadan, is one of Islam's Five Pillars [fundamental religious duties]. It is a time of self-examination and increased religious devotion.

Solidarity with Uighurs, Rohingya

Biden also expressed "solidarity" with China's Uighur minority in his message.

"Today especially, we remember the universal human right to practice, pray and preach our faiths peacefully and openly. And together with our partners, the United States stands in solidarity with Muslims who continue to face oppression — including Uighurs in the People's Republic of China, Rohingya in Burma [Myanmar] and other Muslim communities facing persecution around the world," he said.

Biden's highlighting of the Uighurs came at a time of strong tension between Washington and Beijing.

According to rights groups, Uighurs are subjected to mass incarceration in forced labour camps and banned from expressing their culture. China rejects such allegations.

Beijing says the ethnic minority is not being repressed and that any security measures in their northwestern Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region respond to a terrorism threat.

Source: Trt World

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Hagia Sophia Grand Mosque Decorated For Muslim Fasting Month Of Ramadan


Hagia Sophia/ Photo:


Busra Nur Cakmak


The Hagia Sophia Grand Mosque has been decorated for the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan.

The video of the decorated mosque was shared by Istanbul Governor Ali Yerlikaya on Twitter.

“We are happy to meet the blessed month of Ramadan. The minarets of Hagia Sophia Grand Mosque will illuminate both our Istanbul and our hearts with #mahya, reading 'La Ilahe Illallah' this year. Welcome, Ramadan,” said Yerlikaya.

Hagia Sophia was built in the year 532 CE. It was turned into a mosque in 1453 after the conquest of Istanbul.

It served as a church for 916 years and 86 years as a museum. But for most of its existence – from 1453 to 1934, or nearly 500 years – it served as a mosque.

In 1985, Hagia Sophia was added to the UNESCO World Heritage List.

Hagia Sophia is also among Türkiye's top tourism destinations and remains open for domestic and foreign visitors.

Last year, Hagia Sophia Grand Mosque held its first tarawih prayer in 88 years, a special evening prayer during the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan.

The mosque regained its status as a mosque in 2020, when it was opened for worship on July 24 of that year.

Source: Anadolu Agency

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In A First, London's Piccadilly Circus Decked Out With Ramadan Lights


First ever Ramadan lights installation at Piccadilly Circus is pictured on the eve of the first day of Ramadan, in London, Britain, March 21. (REUTERS)


By Yagya Sharma

Mar 22, 2023

London Mayor Sadiq Khan on Tuesday switched on the capital's Ramadan lights to celebrate the start of the Islamic holy month. This is the first time ever that celebratory lights in Piccadilly Circus will illuminate the city for the month of Ramadan, reported the Mirror.

With this, London has also become the first European city to put on such a display for the festival which Includes the installation of 30,000 sustainable lights. Aisha Desai of Ramadan Lights UK, who was motivated by her love of Christmas lights and started the project three years ago, organised the display, which was staged in partnership with Heart of London Business Alliance and featured the words “Happy Ramadan.”

“I just had the ambition to do it like the Christmas lights,” Desai was quoted as saying by the Mirror.

I remembered going to visit the Christmas lights with my sister when I was growing up and I also had an opportunity to live in the Middle East and I wanted to bring that joy and magic to London, the city that I'm from, she added.

Stating that she wanted to raise awareness about the holy month, Desai said, "I wanted to raise that awareness as well to let our neighbours know that this is a really important month for us, it's my favourite month of the year and I'm just grateful that we're here today.”

"As a child, a trip into central London to see the festive lights was an annual treat. My sister and I would lie in the back of the car looking at the lights through the sunroof. It was magical.”

Ramadan, also known as Ramazan or Ramzan, is the ninth month of the Islamic calendar. It is celebrated all across the globe by Muslims as a month of fasting (called Roza in India and Pakistan), prayer, reflection and community. It takes place for four weeks and two days - during which the followers of Islam fast between dawn and sunset.

Source: Hindustan Times
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 Muslim inmates participate in Navratri fast at Prayagraj's Naini Central Jail

Mar 23, 2023

PRAYAGRAJ: At Prayagraj's Naini Central Jail the season of fasts throws up an unusual picture of communal harmony. While some Muslim inmates join Hindus in observing Navratri fast some Hindu inmates reciprocate by joining the Muslim brethren in Ramzan.

This time as many as 1,159 inmates, including 13 Muslims, have observed fast on the first day of Navratri on Wednesday. Similarly, 436 inmates, including 23 Hindus, would be observing Roza this time. All these inmates, including 13 Muslims (12 men and one woman), followed the Navratri rituals religiously and around 40% of them are said to continue their fast for nine days. However, most are expected to observe fast on the last day of Navratri.

Senior jail superintendent at Naini Central Jail, Shashi Kant Singh told TOI: “Every inmate observing fast is being offered 750 gm potato, two bananas, 500 gm milk and 60 gm sugar. Similarly, inmates observing roza will be offered evening meals along with additional diet like 200gm milk, two bananas, 30gm dates (khajoor), pav-roti, biscuits, etc.” Singh said inmates observing Navratri fast also took part in bhajans and other rituals at their barracks as well as on the jail campus.

As Navratri is considered as one of the most auspicious days of Hindu calendar, inmates were quite excited to perform all rituals, Singh said adding that the inmates woke up early in the morning, took bath and performed puja.

“Many fasting inmates also recited Durga Saptashati and bhajan-kirtan will be part of their nine days life,” said Singh adding that they are permitted to perform all rituals as per discipline and security norms of the jail.

Source: Times Of India

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Ramzan Moon Not Sighted, Muslims In India To Begin Fasting From Friday

22 MAR 2023

Muslims in India will begin fasting from Friday as the Ramzan moon was not sighted this evening, clerics said.

At a meeting of the Ruyat-e-Hilal Committee, Imarat-e-Sharaiyah-Hind held at 1, Bahadur Shah Zafar Marg here, it was announced that the moon has not been sighted in Delhi or in any other part of the country, a statement from Jamiat Ulema-e-Hind said.

The committee's secretary Maulana Najeebullah Qasmi declared that the month of Ramzan will begin from March 24.

Every year, the sighting of the Ramzan moon brings great cheer for Muslims as they scamper to make preparations for fasting and head to mosques to begin special 'Taraweeh' prayers, which will start from Thursday evening.

These special prayers start on the eve of the first day of fasting.

Source: Outlook India

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2024 Lok Sabha Polls: BJP’s Muslim outreach in UP with PM Modi’s Mann Ki Baat book

by Lalmani Verma

March 23, 2023

In a bid to connect with Muslim voters in Uttar Pradesh ahead of the next year’s Lok Sabha elections, the BJP’s minority wing has compiled a book of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s “Mann Ki Baat” speeches in Urdu with an aim to distribute them among the Muslim community.

The book titled, “Wazir-e-Azam Aali Janaab Narendra Modi Ke Mann Ki Baat Urdu Ke Saath”, is a compilation of 12 episodes of PM’s speeches that were broadcast on radio in 2022.

The party has printed one lakh copies of the 150-page book, which will be distributed during the Islamic holy month of Ramzan. “The objective of this book is to make Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Mann Ki Baat reach every section of the community, which maintains a distance from him and the BJP. When they will read this book, they will understand that Modi-ji speaks and works for all the sections of the society and he takes everyone along,” Basit Ali, the president of BJP’s UP unit of minority wing, told The Indian Express.

The book will be released in a “grand ceremony” during Ramzan and it will be distributed among Muslim scholars, students and Urdu readers across the 80 Lok Sabha constituencies in Uttar Pradesh, Ali said, adding the focus will be primarily on the Muslim-dominated areas in 14 Lok Sabha constituencies where the BJP lost in 2019 Lok Sabha elections.

Source: Indian Express

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Halal vs Jhatka row surfaces again during festive season in Karnataka

21st March 2023

Bengaluru: The Halal versus Jhatka row surfaced again in Karnataka with Hindu activists giving a call to the community members not to consume meat prepared through Halal cut by Muslims but to instead eat meat prepared through Jhatka cut by Hindus.

The call has been given on the occasion of the ‘Ugadi’ and ‘Hosa Toduku’ festivals. Meat is eaten during the celebration of festivals across Karnataka. While celebrating ‘Hosa Toduku’ entire villages, cities and towns cook non-vegetarian food and invite friends and relatives to feast on it. The call for a ban on Halal meat is perceived to affect thousands of Muslim traders.

Karnataka Hindu Janjagruthi Vedike members have submitted a memorandum to the Bengaluru district magistrate demanding not to give Halal certificates to meat shops. They also demanded a ban on Halal meat and Jhatka meat for Hindus during the Ugadi festival.

Ugadi will be celebrated on Wednesday and Hosa Todaku the next day. Hindu activists have carried out an awareness march and distributed handbills in Bengaluru.

Puneeth Kerehalli, a Hindu activist, claimed that Muslim traders are dominating through Halal-cut meat shops. To prevent this, an awareness campaign is being carried out, he added.

Source: Siasat Daily

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Saudi Embassy organizes video competition to celebrate 70 years of Pak Saudi relations

March 22, 2023

By Shahzad Paracha

Islamabad: Saudi Embassy in Pakistan has organized a video competition to celebrate 70 years of Pakistan Saudi relations.

According to details, the Royal Embassy of Saudi Arabia in Pakistan has received 114 videos during two weeks depicting historical relations between two brotherly Muslim Countries. 

The royal Embassy has shortlisted 10 best videos subsequently, the Saudi Ambassador in Pakistan Nawaf bin Saeed Al-Malki along with the chief guest Federal Minister for Information and Broadcasting Maryam Aurangziab on Tuesday night distributed the gifts including air tickets of Saudi Arabia to successful Pakistani and Saudi nationals.

The Saudi Ambassador in Pakistan Nawaf bin Saeed Al-Malki in his brief address to audience said that March 1953 is a significant event in the history of relations between Pakistan and Saudi Arabia in which the Governor General of Pakistan during his first official visit met with the founder of Saudi Arabia Shah Abdul Aziz bin Abdur Rehman Al Saud.

He said that we have organized the competition in memory of this event by which Pakistan and Saudi youth living in Pakistan are given an opportunity to use their skills so that they can express their feelings on bilateral relations.

The Saudi Ambassador said that Saudi Arabia considers Pakistan close to its heart and I wish for the stability of both brotherly countries.

Ambassador Nawaf bin saeed also said that such sort of event or other initiatives will be able to further deepen the relationship between both countries.

The chief Guest of the event Federal Minister for information and Broadcasting Maryam Auranzeb also shed light on the strategic relationship between Saudi Arabia and Pakistan.

She also congratulated the Saudi Ambassador for the 70 years relationship between both countries.

She said that Saudi Arabia always helps Pakistan in difficult times. I also visited Saudi Arabia in April with the Prime Minister of Pakistan and the Saudi government warmly welcomed us and I have felt that I am not in some other country, she added.

The information minister said that this competition also symbolises Riyadh and Islamabad relationship and i congratulate all the winners of this video event.

She also said that “I am heading one committee including the Saudi information minister, in the fields of film and media and both countries can have joint ventures in film making.

She also offered to air the documentaries on state television PTV in order to further boost people to people interaction.

I have also studied the model of Saudi film making and we can have joint ventures to make long term partnership, she added.

Source: Pakistan Today

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Govt plotting to assassinate me, claims Imran Khan

Mar 23, 2023

LAHORE: Pakistan's former prime minister Imran Khan on Wednesday alleged that the PML-N-led government was plotting to assassinate him on the pattern of Murtaza Bhutto, who was killed in police firing when his sister Benazir Bhutto was in power in 1996.

Khan, the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) chairman, made these startling allegation in a video address to his supporters. Khan survived an assassination attempt in November last year when unidentified gunmen opened fire on the container-mounted-truck carrying him during a protest march in Punjab province.

“Now another plan has been hatched. I am telling everyone, the judiciary [and] especially Punjab police," 70-year-old Khan claimed in the video address.

He alleged that the police chiefs of Islamabad and Punjab, and their “handlers” had planned another operation outside Zaman Park residence.

“What is the plan? That there is another operation outside Zaman Park either today or tomorrow. They have made two squads who will mix among our people, and then shoot and kill four to five police officials," Khan claimed.

Khan said this would then prompt an attack from the other side, following which PTI workers would be killed in a Model Town-like situation.

"They will create a situation similar to the assassination of Murtaza Bhutto and kill me," he warned.

Murtaza, the brother of former prime minister Benazir Bhutto, was was killed in a police encounter in Karachi in 1996.

Ironically, Benazir was in power that time.

She was killed 11 years later in a terrorist attack during an election rally in Rawalpindi in 2007.

The elements in the military establishment are blamed for their assassinations.

Khan urged his party workers to show restraint and not get provoked by the "operation."

“Whatever the police do. Don't get provoked. Understand their plan. I am ready to go to jail but do not want bloodshed," he said.

A few days ago, he claimed that a "death trap" was being laid out during his appearance in Islamabad's court.

"A death trap was laid out at the Federal Judicial Complex, Islamabad where I had to attend a hearing in the Toshakhana case. Some 20 unknown people -- a reference to intelligence agencies men -- were present in the complex to kill me," he asserted.

Last week, clashes were reported between his defiant supporters and security personnel after Khan arrived at the Islamabad judicial complex to attend hearing in the Toshakhana case.

As he left Lahore for Islamabad, the Punjab police launched a search operation at his sprawling premises in the upscale Zaman Park area.

On Wednesday, a total of 143 cases were registered against Khan, mostly on terrorism charges.

“I don't care about my cases but the way PTI workers are being arrested on false cases, we are now writing to all international human rights organisations against these atrocities,” he said.

Khan also claimed that the PML-N government is going to adopt a resolution in a joint session of the parliament to delay elections in Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa provinces.

The PTI chief has been in the dock for buying gifts, including an expensive Graff wristwatch, he had received as the premier at a discounted price from the state depository called Toshakhana and selling them for profit.

Source: Times Of India

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Pakistan: PDM leaders fail to reach consensus on banning PTI over violence

Mar 22, 2023

ISLAMABAD: The top leadership of the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) has failed to reach a consensus on a proposal to ban Imran Khan-led Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) after the recent clashes between PTI workers and the police at Islamabad judicial complex and Zaman Park, Pakistan Today reported.

The PDM leaders on Monday held a meeting with Pakistan Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif to discuss the current political situation. Sharif had summoned a session of the heads of the coalition parties of the Pakistan government to discuss the prevailing political situation, the report said.

At the meeting, the PDM leaders discussed the proposal to ban the PTI in threadbare, Pakistan Today reported citing sources privy to the meeting. However, the sources revealed that the Pakistan People's Party and another party opposed the decision to ban the PTI, reported Pakistan Today.Further, according to sources, the meeting was informed that the proposal was flawed as the courts would strike down the government's decision to ban the PTI and Imran Khan's party would emerge victorious out of the crisis, as per the Pakistan Today report. The sources said that most of the people who attended the meeting were of the opinion that they should not be blackmailed by former Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan's statements.

"We should not be afraid of such a statement, as PTI was exposing itself," the sources quoted the PDM leaders as saying. During the meeting, the participants raised questions regarding the "instant relief" the PTI chairman was getting from courts, stressing Imran Khan gets bail when he files an application in court, the report stated further.

Most of the PDM leaders said elections in national and provincial assemblies should be held "at the same time". Earlier, Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) supremo Nawaz Sharif, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and Maryam Nawaz held a meeting to discuss the country's current political situation, as per the Pakistan Today report.

According to sources, Maryam Nawaz visited Shehbaz Sharif's house to attend the meeting while Nawaz Sharif virtually participated in the meeting. Sources revealed that matters regarding Pakistan's political and economic situation were discussed during the meeting. The PML-N leaders raised "serious concern" over "assault" on law enforcement agencies by PTI workers.

In the meeting, Nawaz Sharif called on his brother and PM Shehbaz Sharif to ensure the "enforcement of law" at any cost. In the meeting, the PML-N supremo said, "We have always respected institutions and the judiciary. We had always appeared before the court whenever summoned."

Meanwhile, the Islamabad Police filed an FIR, including terrorism charges, against Imran Khan and over a dozen other PTI leaders for allegedly attacking police officers and causing chaos outside the Federal Judicial Complex (FJC), Dawn reported.

Clashes were reported between PTI workers and the capital police on Saturday after the former prime minister reached the FJC to appear before the court in the Toshakhana case, as per the report.

Source: Times Of India

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Nation celebrates Pakistan Day as PM, president invoke ‘spirit of service’

March 23, 2023

As the nation celebrates Pakistan Day on Thursday, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and President Dr Arif Alvi paid homage to the “relentless struggle” of the founding fathers of the country.

Pakistan Day commemorates the passing of the Lahore Resolution on March 23, 1940, when the All-India Muslim League demanded a separate nation for the Muslims of the British Indian Empire.

According to Radio Pakistan, the day started off with a 31-gun salute in the federal capital and a 21-gun salute in the provincial capitals.

A change of guards ceremony was also held at the mausoleums of Quaid-i-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah and Allama Iqbal in Karachi and Lahore, respectively.

Special prayers were offered in mosques after Fajr prayers for the progress and prosperity of the country.

However, the Pakistan Day Military Parade of the Armed Forces at the Aiwan-e-Sadr, scheduled to be held today, has been postponed till Saturday (March 25) due to bad weather.

Meanwhile, the prime minister, president and other leaders conveyed their greetings and congratulated the nation.

Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari also conveyed his well-wishes to the citizens on the occasion.

In a tweet today, he wished for the country to “grow, prosper and thrive in peace and harmony consistent with the vision of our founding fathers”.

Let us awaken the spirit of service to the nation: PM

PM Shehbaz felicitated the nation on the occasion, saying that today was a reminder that no matter what the challenges, human will was capable of attaining the impossible.

“Today the nation pays homage to Pakistan’s founding fathers for their political wisdom, sagacity & determination to wage a relentless struggle for a separate homeland,” the premier tweeted.

“Living nations put themselves to rigorous audit by comparing their performance to the ideals. This is their way of introspection & accountability,” he said and expressed “unwavering faith” in the idea of the country defeating the odds.

“On 23rd March today, let us awaken the spirit of service to nation,” the PM added.

Earlier, in a message to the nation, PM Shehbaz described March 23 as an “epoch-making day in our national history”, saying that it reminds us of our past, invites us to ponder over our present state of affairs and inspires us to build a prosperous future.

He said this day is also the day to renew our pledges and takes us back to 1940 when Muslims of the sub-continent approved a resolution for the establishment of a separate homeland they could call their own under the dynamic leadership of Quaid-i-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah.

The prime minister said it was Allama Muhammad Iqbal’s dream of freedom that manifested itself in the form of a resolution representing Muslims’ demands, and aspirations for a separate homeland.

The consequential seven years witnessed history in the making as the Quaid-i-Azam led a struggle to translate the dream of Iqbal into reality, he said.

He also highlighted that being a member of the international community, Pakistan had played the role of a responsible nation in the resolution of problems facing humanity and in establishing global peace.

He stressed that we should not lose sight of the challenges staring us in the face while celebrating this day and asked the nation to pay tribute to the sacrifices of the country’s founding fathers.

There was no doubt that Pakistan was destined to achieve great heights and said that this day should be used to introspect and hold ourselves to account as only those nations that are capable of analysing their past, learning from their mistakes and making amends can achieve true glory, he added.

A long way to go: President Alvi

In his message to the nation, President Dr Arif Alvi recalled that the country established state institutions, made its defence impregnable, achieved nuclear deterrence, curbed terrorism, overcame the Covid-19 pandemic, and displayed the spirit of sacrifice and cooperation in the face of natural calamities.

However, he said, we still have a long way to go to ensure the rule of law, strengthen democracy, reduce inequalities in our society, empower women, provide the rights of persons with disabilities, eradicate terrorism and extremism, ensure the political and economic stability of the country, and protect the human rights of our citizens.

Today, we pay tribute to the founding fathers of our nation whose struggles and sacrifices led to the creation of Pakistan, he said.

The president said the persecution of minorities, especially the Muslims in India, the rising wave of violence against Muslims, the violation of human rights, and the brutalities being committed by the Indian security forces in the Indian-occupied Jammu and Kashmir proved that the Muslim leadership of that time made a prudent decision.

Source: Dawn

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Govt pushes ahead with fuel subsidy scheme

Khaleeq Kiani

March 23, 2023

ISLAMABAD: Minister of State for Petroleum Dr Musadik Malik on Wednesday conceded some shortcomings in the government’s proposed fuel subsidy scheme in the first phase but said the International Monetary Fund (IMF) should not have objections as the initiative “has no budgetary impact”.

Speaking at a presser, the minister also denied that the finance ministry had raised concerns over the subsidy scheme. He said the affluent — owners of cars with engine capacity of 800 cubic centimetres or above — would be charged Rs100 per litre higher than those using bikes, rickshaws and cars below 800cc.

This meant consumers with 800cc cars and above would be charged Rs50 per litre higher than the base price and the amount so charged would be diverted to subsidise others.

The minister agreed that there were some fault lines in the proposed scheme that could give an unfair impression in the first phase but would be addressed in the second phase as the scheme evolved.

He was responding to weaknesses like depreciated values of decades-old cars of higher engine capacity whose owners are unable to upgrade because of limited financial resources and yet could not benefit the subsidy scheme.

For instance, an owner of a new 660cc car worth almost Rs3.2 million can avail the subsidy, whereas someone using Rs300,000 worth of Suzuki Khyber or Toyota Corolla of 1,000-1,300cc of 1985 model will not be covered under the scheme.

Mr Malik said this was a valid concern and the issue of a car’s value and model would be considered in the next phase.

In response to another question, he said the government would increase the tax rate on the affluent if they give up big cars or reduce petrol consumption on the one hand or, on the other hand, consumption on the part of bikers, rickshaws and up to 800cc cars went up. He also agreed that the number of unregistered motorbikes could be higher than registered ones.

He said the idea behind the government’s petroleum relief programme for lower-income people was to make petrol expensive for the rich and cheaper for the poor. The higher prices paid by the rich would be used to provide the petroleum subsidy to low-income people, and therefore the IMF “should not have any objection”, he said.

Around 51pc of the population, he said, would benefit from the discounted fuel pricing and they accounted for 60pc total petrol consumption in the country. The programme will target roughly 20 million motorcycles and rickshaws (with a maximum limit of 21 litres of petrol per month) and 1.36m small vehicles (with a capping of 30 litres of fuel), he said.

He said that the strategy of lower petrol prices for motorcycles, rickshaws and small-car owners would be finalised in six weeks and then submitted to Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif for approval.

Explaining the mechanism, the minister said the Oil and Gas Regulatory Authority (Ogra) would determine two different prices for high- and low-income people. For example, if the petrol price was Rs300 per litre, rich consumers would pay Rs350, whereas poor consumers would pay Rs250.

The fuel relief initiative is purely led by the petroleum division, and other line ministries and divisions were not involved due to the limited time frame to finalise recommendations.

When asked what kind of legal protection was being provided to the proposed relief package, as the people may move to the court against discrimination, the minister replied that “we foresee no court cases in two-tier tariff by the rich”.

Source: Dawn

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Commission to probe ‘threats’ to Imran’s life

Zulqernain Tahir | Mansoor Malik

March 23, 2023

LAHORE: The caretaker government of Punjab has decided to appoint a commission to conduct an inquiry into the “assassination threats” to PTI chief Imran Khan.

The ex-prime minister has repeatedly stated over the past few days that a conspiracy has been hatched to assassinate him.

The announcement regarding the inquiry commission was made by interim Chief Minister Mohsin Naqvi soon after the home department constituted a five-member joint investigation team led by SSP Imran Kishwar to conduct and finalise probe into 10 FIRs registered in Lahore.

A senior leader of PTI rejected the investigation team.

A joint investigation team has also been set up to probe cases registered in Lahore

“The government of Punjab has deci­ded to appoint a Commission to conduct inquiry of assassination threats as alleged by Mr. Imran Khan. We want to ensure that such serious allegation be thoroughly inv­estigated. And strict action will be taken either way,” Mr Naqvi tweeted.

The FIRs were registered at Racecourse, Civil Lines and Shadman police stations on Feb 22, March 8, March 14, March 15, March 16, March 18 and March 19.

SSP Kishwar, who will lead the five-member joint investigation team, was recently appointed focal person on behalf of the police. However, he remained missing during the police raid on the PTI chairman’s residence the day Mr Khan travelled to Islamabad to attend hearing in the Toshakhana case.

Other JIT members are SP Aftab Phularwan, and representatives of Intelligence Bureau, Inter-Services Intelligence and Military Intelligence.

According to the notification, the JIT can also co-opt any member for the team.

When contacted, PTI central Punjab president Dr Yasmin Rashid rejected the team. “How could an officer directly working against PTI be a convener of JIT,” she asked. “An enemy has been posted to adjudicate on excesses committed against the PTI. What else could be more injustice,” she added.

PTI lawyer Rana Mudassar Umer alleged that SSP Kishwar had got seven sections of Anti-Terrorism Act included in the FIRs registered under different bailable sections.

He said SP Aftab Phularwan was also part of all raids being conducted against the PTI leaders and workers.

Rana Umer said it was a simple investigation matter and did not require representatives of intelligence agencies. This inquiry requires collecting videos and facts and identifying those who had committed the wrong.

Meanwhile, sources in the PTI legal team told Dawn that police had also got a decision of the ATC judge, wherein she had ordered an inquiry into the death of Ali Bilal, also known as Zille Shah, and allowed sending three suspects on physical remand and two on judicial.

Source: Dawn

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JI protests after stampede in Swabi flour distribution

March 23, 2023

SWABI: A stampede broke out during the distribution of subsidised wheat flour outside the offices of Razaar tehsil’s headquarters here on Wednesday.

However, no one was injured in the incident.

Residents complained that mismanagement marred the distribution of subsidised flour to their misery.

Riaz Khan said people queued up for flour outside the THQ offices and a stampede occurred when they jumped the queue.

He said many people tried to get more and more flour bags.

Also in the day, the Jamaat-i-Islami workers protested the “unjust and mismanaged” distribution of subsidised flour here.

Shouting slogans, the protesters demanded of the district administration to ensure the provision of flour to deserving people only.

Spokesman for the JI Zafar Bukhari claimed that district naib emir of the party Mian Iftikhar Bacha met the assistant commissioner of Razaar tehsil on the issue but the latter misbehaved and threatened the former with “serious consequences.”

The JI workers staged a sit-in on the Swabi-Mardan Road. They, however, dispersed after officials of the administration promised fair flour distribution.

Meanwhile,the six people, who suffered injuries in earthquake-related incidents, were admitted to the Bacha Khan Medical Complex Shahmansoor.

The doctors said the condition of all the injured had improved.

Officials of the administration and political leaders inquired after the injured and promised them the best possible treatment.

SOLAR ENERGY: Experts in the concluding ceremony of a four-day conference on Tuesday called for an increase in the share of solar power in the energy mix to protect the environment and promote sustainable economic development.

The Conference in Emerging Solar Cell Technologies was held at the Ghulam Ishaq Khan Institute of Engineering Sciences and Technology and attended by scientists, researchers and industry experts from across the country as well as China, Japan, the US, Europe, Middle East, Turkey, African countries.

It was jointly organised by the GIK Institute and China’s Soochow University.

The speakers said renewable energy was environmentally-friendly and the fastest-growing source of energy worldwide, so Pakistanis should adopt it fast to boost the economy.

They said renewable energy was derived from the natural resources available everywhere for social and economic development.

Source: Dawn

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Sanaullah asks parliament to ’empower’ law enforcers to deal with Imran

March 22, 2023

ISLAMABAD: Blaming Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) chairman Imran Khan for creating chaos in the country, Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah on Wednesday demanded the Parliament to amend the Constitution to regulate and empower law enforcement agencies to control “armed groups”.

“Parliament should give [full powers] to the law enforcement agencies to control “armed groups”, Rana Sanaullah said during the joint session of Parliament on a motion related to key national issues including law and order on Wednesday.

The interior minister said Parliament is the supreme institution and other institutions have their own domains, responsibilities and authorities as per the Constitution framed by parliament. “Parliament wields the authority to amend the Constitution and regulate the authority of other institutions,” the minister added.

The minister said Parliament had the responsibility to guide the nation in various affairs and would have to play a role now to check the attempts by one party in creating an administrative crisis in the country.

He said that attempts were being made to create political and administrative crises, asking for Parliament’s guidance to resolve these issues as well as give directions to overcome the ongoing economic crisis.

He also urged parliament to take stock of the overall situation of the country and provide directions to all institutions on their basic roles.

“One person (Imran Khan) is trying to create a law and order situation along with his group,” he said, adding that Imran Khan has been involved in creating chaos and unrest in the country for the last ten years.

Sanaullah accused PTI chief Imran of marching on Islamabad with armed groups as his workers fired bullets and pelted stones at law enforcers during a police raid at his Zaman Park residence in Lahore.

He added that not a single shot was fired by the police at the PTI supporters during the resistance.

“Although there is no political or administrative crisis right now, attempts are being made [to create such crisis] which should be curbed,” he said.

“Sit-in for 126 days, foul language in the speeches and disrespect for the parliament, long marches and protests from 2013-18 were aimed at creating anarchy in the country,” he added.

The minister alleged that elections were “rigged and managed” to bring Imran Khan into power in 2018.

Source: Pakistan Today

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North America


President Biden expresses ‘solidarity’ with China’s Uyghurs as Ramadan begins

23 March ,2023

President Joe Biden expressed “solidarity” Thursday with China’s embattled Uyghur minority in a message to Muslims around the world as they celebrate the holy month of Ramadan.

“Together with our partners, the United States stands in solidarity with Muslims who continue to face oppression, including Uyghurs in the People’s Republic of China, Rohingya in Burma, and other Muslim communities facing persecution around the world,” Biden said in a statement.

“During this sacred time of reflection, the United States also reaffirms our support to Muslim communities suffering hardships and devastation,” Biden said, referring to earthquake victims in Turkey and Syria, and flood victims in Pakistan.

“Today especially, we remember the universal human right to practice, pray, and preach our faiths peacefully and openly.”

Biden’s highlighting of the Uyghurs – who the US government says are being subjected to genocide by the Chinese communist authorities – came at a time of strong tension between Washington and Beijing.

Source: Al Arabiya

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Muslim told he cannot pray in Canadian train station

Barry Ellsworth



A Muslim man received an apology after he was told he could not pray in an Ottawa train station but Canada’s largest Muslim organization said more needs to happen, according to a report Wednesday.

Viral video of the encounter between the man and a security guard was posted to TikTok by the National Council of Canadian Muslims (NCCM).

"It's hard to watch," NCCM spokesperson Fatema Abdalla told the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. "To think that, no, individuals can't feel safe being able to practice their religion .. .is disturbing -- not just to the individual in the video, but to every single Muslim who thinks that they are at peace and safe to pray in public spaces."

After the video was posted Monday, VIA Rail, a government corporation, apologized “unreservedly … to the entire Muslim community” and promised an investigation.

The security guard told the man he could not pray in the train station because “you’re bothering our other customers.”

The man said he prayed at the end of the hallway and no one objected.

“Pray outside next time, OK?” said the guard. The man refused and the guard said he would tell the man’s employer. But it was the guard’s employer that got upset.

"Via Rail strongly condemns and will not tolerate any form of discriminatory behaviour," VIA Rail said in a statement. "Freedom of religion, including the ability to worship, is a human right and is enshrined in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms."

But Abdalla said the apology is insufficient.

Source: Anadolu Agency

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Blinken says US ‘actively’ working to re-establish diplomatic presence in Libya

22 March ,2023

The US is “actively” working on re-establishing a diplomatic presence in Libya, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Wednesday, although he declined to provide an exact time on when the US embassy can be reopened.

Libya has had little peace since the 2011 NATO-backed uprising that ousted Muammar Gaddafi and it split in 2014 between rival eastern and western factions, with the last major bout of conflict ending in 2020 with a ceasefire.

Washington shut its embassy in Tripoli in 2014 and moved to its mission to neighboring Tunis following intensifying violence between rival factions. US Special Envoy for Libya, Richard Norland, has operated out of the Tunisian capital, and took occasional trips into Libya.

A September 2012 assault on the US consulate in Benghazi, since closed, killed four Americans including the then US ambassador to Libya, Chris Stevens.

“I can't give you a timetable other than to say that this is something we're very actively working on. I want to see us be able to re-establish an ongoing presence in Libya,” Blinken said at a Senate Appropriations subcommittee hearing.

Blinken did not provide any details on the active work he referred to.

Assistant Secretary Barbara Leaf, top diplomat for the Middle East and North Africa, is currently touring the region, traveling to Jordan, Egypt, Libya, Lebanon, and Tunisia March 15-25.

In Libya, the State Department said, Leaf will meet with senior Libyan officials “to underscore US support for UN-facilitated efforts to promote consensus leading to elections in 2023.”

“There's also an important moment where through the work of the UN envoy, there may be, and I emphasize maybe, a path forward to moving Libya in a better direction including getting election for legitimate government and our diplomats are deeply engaged in that,” Blinken added.

The OPEC member country has been locked in political stalemate since late 2021 when a scheduled election was canceled because of disputes over the rules and the eastern-based parliament, the House of Representatives, withdrew support from the interim government.

Peacemaking efforts have focused on getting the House of Representatives and the High State Council to agree on a constitutional basis for elections and on voting rules.

Source: Al Arabiya

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US judge orders $1.68 bln payout to families over 1983 Beirut bombing

22 March ,2023

A federal judge in New York ordered Iran’s central bank and a European intermediary on Wednesday to pay out $1.68 billion to family members of troops killed in the 1983 car bombing of the US Marine Corps barracks in Lebanon.

US District Judge Loretta Preska said a 2019 federal law stripped Bank Markazi, the Iran central bank, of sovereign immunity from the lawsuit, which sought to enforce a judgment against Iran for providing material support to the attackers.

Attorneys for the parties did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

The October 23, 1983, bombing at the Marine Corps barracks killed 241 US service members.

Victims and their families won a $2.65 billion judgment against Iran in federal court in 2007 over the attack.

Six years later, they sought to seize bond proceeds allegedly owned by Bank Markazi and processed by Clearstream Banking SA, a Luxembourg-based unit of Deutsche Boerse AG , to partially satisfy the court judgment.

Bank Markazi has argued that the lawsuit was not allowed under the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act (FSIA), which generally shields foreign governments from liability in US courts.

In January 2020, the US Supreme Court overturned a lower court ruling in the families’ favor, and ordered the case to be reconsidered in light of the new law, which was adopted the month before as part of the National Defense Authorization Act.

Preska said the 2019 law authorizes US courts to allow the seizure of assets held outside the country to satisfy judgments against Iran in terrorism cases, “notwithstanding” other laws such as FSIA that would grant immunity.

Source: Al Arabiya

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Attack on hospital: Israel’s Ramadan gift to Palestinians


March 22, 2023

RAMALLAH: As the Muslim world was celebrating the advent of Ramadan on Wednesday, the Israeli army launched a massive campaign of incursions into the occupied West Bank and arrested 28 Palestinians.

Earlier in the day, Israeli forces intensively lobbed tear gas shells toward a hospital in Ramallah, affecting dozens of patients, including newborns in incubators, and medical personnel. Several patients complained of acute chest pain.

Palestinian Health Minister Mai Al-Kaila called on human rights institutions and the International Committee of the Red Cross to act urgently against Israel’s increasing attacks on health centers, patients and ambulance personnel.

The ministry said in a statement: “Since the beginning of this year, dozens of cases of direct deliberate assault on treatment centers in various governorates have been documented.”

Ambulances were targeted and crews were prevented from reaching and treating the wounded, which led to the injury of dozens of patients inside treatment centers and during their transfers between cities and medical centers, it added.

The mother of a sick child said: “We did not sleep all night because of the heavy toxic gas fired by the occupation forces toward the hospital. My son is still suffering from its effects. Its smell is still lingering in the patients’ wards, obstructing the work of the nurses.”

One of the patients said: “The smell of gas woke me up and I felt shortness of breath and pain in my chest.”

Eyewitnesses reported that the most affected areas were the cardiac surgery, resuscitation and children’s departments.

Meanwhile, 2,000 prisoners will go on a hunger strike on Thursday, the first day of the fasting month, in protest against the repressive measures announced by Israel at the recommendation of its Minister for National Security Itamar Ben-Gvir.

Prison authorities have threatened to take punitive measures against prisoners who intend to start a general strike coinciding with Ramadan.

“The orders of the prison administration will discipline the prisoners on hunger strike. The prison administration will not tolerate disturbances and disciplinary violations and will work professionally and resolutely against any threat,” a statement said.

Since Feb. 14, prisoners have been protesting after the prison administration announced the implementation of harsh measures — including rationing water, reducing shower times, keeping bathrooms locked and providing stale bread for prisoners to eat — at the behest of Ben-Gvir.

In some prisons, the administration doubled crackdowns using stun grenades and sniffer dogs.

Prisoners have carried out over 26 coordinated strikes since 1970, through which they succeeded in changing their conditions in detention.

As of the end of January, the number of prisoners in the occupation’s prisons reached 4,780, including 29 female prisoners and 160 children.

The Palestine Liberation Organization Executive Committee Secretary-General Hussein Al-Sheikh called on the Israeli government to stop its harassment of and escalatory measures against prisoners amid brutal living conditions that defy international conventions.

In a tweet, Al-Sheikh called on international bodies to intervene immediately.

Nabil Abu Rudeineh, spokesman for the Palestinian presidency, said the systematic Israeli escalation “against our heroic prisoners, led by the fascist extremist Ben-Gvir, will have serious repercussions.”

Rudeineh added that the international community, including the UN Security Council and the Human Rights Council, “must immediately intervene and stop these crimes against our prisoners before it’s too late.”

He said President Mahmoud Abbas was in constant contact with all relevant international parties to stop the Israeli attacks against Palestinian prisoners and people.

The spokesman added that the “extremist Israeli government is trying, through this deliberate escalation, to thwart all international efforts to reduce tension.”

Source: Arab News

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Supreme Leader Calls for Ditching US Dollar in Trade Ties


In a televised annual New Year address on Tuesday – the first day of the Iranian New Year – at the holy shrine of Imam Reza in the city of Mashhad, the Leader emphasized that dependence on the US dollar is one of the problems the country's economy is suffering from.

"Some of the sanctioned countries put an end to their dependence on the US dollar and their situation got better. We know certain countries, which I won’t name, that have been heavily sanctioned by the West," he stated.

"Their link to SWIFT, which is a Western-led international mechanism, was cut. They then put aside the US dollar and conducted transactions and imported and exported with national currencies, and their situation got better. We should do the same thing," Ayatollah Khamenei stressed.

Elsewhere in his remarks, the Supreme Leader pointed out that the main objective of the enemies in broaching the concept of “structural transformations” is to change the identity of the Islamic Republic.

“The goal of the enemy is to eliminate the country and establishment’s points of strength and to get issues that remind the people of the Revolution, pure and revolutionary Islam fade into oblivion,” he noted.

Underlining that the ultimate goal of the apparently pro-change and transformation statements by the Arrogant Powers is to turn Islamic democracy into one-man and submissive government or one that is superficially democratic but is submissive to the West in practice, he said, “In everything they do, they seek to politically and economically dominate Iran and plunder it.”

The Leader considered “the strong and firm internal foundation of the Iranian nation” as one of the country’s prominent points of strength.

“This intrinsic firmness and strength stems from the people’s faith because even those of individuals who apparently do not fully practice some of Islam’s laws, they do believe in God, the Qur'an, and the [Twelve] Imams,” he added.

In explaining the overt indications for the internal cohesion and strength of the Iranian nation, the Supreme Leader pointed to “the overcoming by the nation over the cycle of the enemy’s consecutive and decades-long hostilities of the world’s Arrogant Powers".

“Which country and revolution do you know that has been able to resist the blows of the world's most powerful countries? The Iranian nation has stood firmly against a long chain of the enemy's schemes, including coup attempts, sanctions, and media assaults,” he further stated.

Ayatollah Khamenei considered “coups, political pressures, unprecedented media assault, security conspiracies, and unprecedented economic sanctions” as being dimensions of the enemies’ nonstop conspiracies.

“During recent unrest, US president and heads of states of certain European countries openly offered weapons, and financial and security support to rioters to at least weaken the Islamic Republic. But what happened was the opposite,” he added.

The Leader described making progress under economic siege and the most severe pressures possible as indicative of the Iranian nation’s bright performance.

"The US said the economic pressures they've put on Iran are unprecedented in history. Despite all their lies, they were true on this," he continued.

Ayatollah Khamenei highlighted the progress made in science and technology and Iran ranking among the top countries of the world in fields such as Nano and Biotechnology, health, aerospace, nuclear, defense, infrastructure, medical centers, oil refineries, etc.

“With regard to foreign relations, the West’s efforts to isolate Iran have failed,” he underscored, adding, “Our relations with Asia became 100 percent stronger and we will continue to do so.”

Referring to Iran’s membership in important treaties, the Supreme Leader said the strengthening of ties with Africa and Latin America is one of the definite plans.

“We haven't refused to have any relations with Europe. We are ready to work with any European country or government that does not blindfoldedly follow US polices,” he continued.

Ayatollah Khamenei also underlined the need for raising awareness among the people regarding hybrid warfare and the enemy’s policies in this regard.

“There is no military attack in hybrid warfare. But foreign propagandists and their followers in the country attack the political and religious beliefs of the people with temptation so that they undermine the nation’s will, sow despair among the youth, and make them disappointed at the future, work, and progress by fudging the facts,” he underscored.

"In a hybrid warfare, the enemy uses the media and cultural, security, and economic elements as well as its influence to bring blockades against the nation, to cause despondency, and to cause a people to ignore their own potential," he further said.

Dismissing the allegations of the ill-wishers, the Leader noted, “It’s been years that the enemy vociferously asserts that they want to bring the Islamic Republic to its knees. But the Leader says in response that 'You can’t do a damn thing.' This is not a repetition but endurance and insistence on the righteous thing as per order of God.”

Emphasizing Iran’s support for the Axis of Resistance, the Supreme Leader rejected the lie that Iran is involved in the Ukraine war.

“We categorically deny any presence in the Ukraine war. And such a thing is not true at all,” he stressed.

Ayatollah Khamenei also referred to the US role in the Ukraine war, stating that America waged the Ukraine war in order to expand NATO to the East.

"And now while the people of Ukraine are in trouble and grappling with problems, America and its weapons manufacturing companies are making the most of this war in terms of profits. And for this reason, they stand in the way of the necessary things to end this war," he added.

Ayatollah Khamenei also pointed to the Americans’ confusion in the region.

Source: Fars News Agency

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N. Chief: Iran Exporting Nuclear Medicine to 9 States


Eslami made the remarks in an interview with the IRIB’s Arabic service, Al-Alam.

Referring to messages Iran has received from the Saudi side that shows Riyadh is pleased with the recent rapprochement with Tehran, the AEOI head said the country will definitely engage in nuclear cooperation with Saudi Arabia.

He added in order to serve the people of Saudi Arabia, the two countries will work in the field of radio medicine.

Eslami further spoke of Iran’s progress in nuclear technology, stating that the country has made a pet san machine that is used for diagnosis of cancer.

"Iran is now exporting nuclear medicine products to 9 countries," the official said.

On the sanctions removal talks that were mostly held in Vienna, Iran’s nuclear chief underlined that there are no hurdles to negotiations.

He noted that what matters is political determination and “if the other sides stop acting illegally and being oppressive, then we can reach an agreement”.

In an apparent reference to the US and the European troika, Eslami underscored that the other parties to the Vienna talks are addicted to sanctions.

"They impose sanctions on Iran daily and they do not get tired [of doing so],” he added.

Back in December, Eslami said that Tehran is seeking to become a deuterium drugs hub in the world.

“In a not too distant future we will turn into a hub for manufacturing drugs based on deuterium which are good alternatives to chemical drugs and have lower side effects in comparison (to those drugs),” he stated.

The nuclear head added the AEOI will continue to provide technologies and equipment to domestic suppliers to help them in their effortsb to manufacture sophisticated drugs and medical appliances.

In mid-October, the AEOI chief blasted the Western countries' efforts to impede Iran's acquisition and development of new technologies.

He stated that there is a firm determination to prevent Tehran from gaining access to new technologies, criticizing big powers for their opposition in this regard.

Source: Fars News Agency

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Iran Strongly Condemns Israeli Official's Racist Comments on Palestinians


Israel’s far-right Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich has claimed that there is no such thing as a Palestinian people, history or culture.

He said Palestinians are “an invention of the past century”, adding, “There are no Palestinians because there are no Palestinian people."

In response, Kana’ani wrote in a post published on his Twitter page on Tuesday such remarks clearly show the aggressive and avaricious nature of the occupying regime regarding all nations in the region, including Jordan.

The spokesperson also urged unity among Islamic countries and resistance against the Zionist regime as the key to victory.

Smotrich is part of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s hard-right government that took office in December. The minister had already faced international rebuke in early March after calling for a Palestinian town in the occupied West Bank to be “wiped out” after its settlers rampaged through it, killing one Palestinian and setting fire to cars and homes.

Source: Fars News Agency

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Iranian FM Holds Talks with Emirati, Kuwaiti, Pakistani Counterparts on Regional Issues, Bilateral Ties


During a telephone conversation with UAE Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Amir Abdollahian congratulated the upcoming fasting month of Ramadan and asked his UAE counterpart to convey the Iranian president's warm regards to the UAE head of state.

"Fortunately, the two countries' relations in the political, economic, and commercial fields are growing and the recent constructive dialogues between the security and economic officials of the two countries, too, paved the path for their further development," the Iranian minister reiterated.

The top diplomat also announced Iran's readiness for hosting the joint meeting of the two countries' merchants and businessmen.

He stated that the recent agreement between Iran and Saudi Arabia was in line with strengthening regional cooperation and proximity among regional countries, expressing satisfaction over the strengthened relations between the UAE and Syria.

The senior official added that the expanded and broadened consultations between Tehran and Abu Dhabi is of great importance in broadening the constructive bilateral ties.

The Emirati official, for his part, congratulated the Nowruz and its coincidence with the holy month of Ramadan to the Iranian government and nation.

He evaluated the development in Iran-Saudi Arabia relations positive for the region and to the benefit of the regional countries.

The minister also expressed hope that the Damascus-Abu Dhabi relations will be in line with strengthening the regional stability and security, as well as serving the interests of the Islamic countries and upgrading it to the satisfactory level.

The senior diplomat invited Amir Abdollahian to visit the UAE at his earliest convenient opportunity.

In a telephone call with Kuwaiti Foreign Minister Sheikh Salem Abdullah Al Jaber Al Saba, Amir Abdollahian congratulated the fasting month of Ramadan and expressed satisfaction over holding meetings of the Consular Committee, the Coast Guard, and the Legal Committee between Iran and Kuwait.

He added that they are ready to hold a joint high commission between Iran and Kuwait.

Referring to positive steps in the region, the Iranian diplomat noted that Iran-Saudi ties are in natural direction, adding that he will meet with his Saudi counterpart soon, and embassy activities will be resumed.

Constructive agreements are being made in the region, Amir Abdollahian said, welcoming the Saudi-Syrian agreement to normalize relations and reopen consulates.

Al Sabah, for his part, congratulated the fasting month of Ramadan and welcomed the Iran-Saudi agreement.

Emphasizing the continuation of talks to further expand and develop ties, he welcomed the proposal and initiative of the Islamic Republic of Iran on facilitating consular affairs.

In a phone talk with Pakistani Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, Amir Abdollahian said that the expansion of relations with regional countries is a constructive factor leading to development and security.

The Iranian foreign minister conveyed the president's warm regards to the high-ranking Pakistani officials and congratulated Nowruz and the National Day of Pakistan also to him and the Pakistani nation.

Amir Abdollahian expressed satisfaction over the expanding Tehran-Islamabad relations, and said that after a five-year hiatus in successful holding of Iran-Pakistan Joint Economic Commission its near future convening in Tehran will be quite welcome.

Zardari, for his part, congratulated Nowruz to his Iranian counterpart and the Iranian nation.

The top Pakistani diplomat also expressed hope that the joint border project agreements between the two countries will soon be officially opened, so that both countries could take advantage of their interests.

He added that the restoration of Tehran-Riyadh full relations is an important move, which is to the benefit of both the region and the Islamic world.

The administration of President Seyed Ebrahim Rayessi has made ties with neighbors a top priority of its foreign policy.

Iranian officials have repeatedly reiterated that President Rayeesi's foreign policy is basically built on good neighborliness. They stated that Tehran is willing to further expand relations and cooperation with its neighbors despite enemies' opposition.

Source: Fars News Agency

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No plan for new settlements in West Bank area evacuated in 2005: Israel

22 March ,2023

Israel sought on Wednesday to calm international concern over its amending of a law that had ordered the 2005 evacuation of settlers from an area of the occupied West Bank, saying it had no intention of building new settlements there.

Tuesdays repeal in parliament of elements of the “is engagement law” would in principle allow Israelis to return to the four evacuated settlements in the northern West Bank on condition of approval by the military.

That drew protests from the Palestinians, who seek statehood in the West Bank, as well as from Western powers that have been closely watching the impact on long-stalled peace-making of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's hard-right coalition government.

In a statement, Netanyahu’s office said the Knesset vote “at long last put an end to the discriminatory and humiliating law that forbade Jews from living in areas of northern Samaria, which is part of its historic homeland.”

“With that said, the government has no intention of establishing new communities in these areas.”

Source: Al Arabiya

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In election setback for Erdogan, Turkey’s pro-Kurdish HDP will not field candidate

22 March ,2023

Turkey’s pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) and allies will not field a presidential candidate in May 14 elections, co-leader Pervin Buldan said on Wednesday, in a potential setback for President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s re-election bid.

Speaking at a news conference, Buldan did not openly say whether their alliance will support opposition candidate Kemal Kilicdaroglu, after they had met at the weekend.

Source: Al Arabiya

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10 dead in new attack by Houthis in Yemen

March 23, 2023

JEDDAH: At least 10 Yemeni government soldiers were killed on Wednesday in a renewed Houthi militia offensive in the contested central province of Marib.

The new attack shattered a truce that had largely held since last April, and came amid renewed diplomatic efforts to end the eight-year war.

“The Houthis launched an attack on hills overlooking Harib district, south of Marib, and made progress on that front, causing the displacement of dozens of families,” a Yemeni military source said. “At least 10 soldiers were killed, in addition to an unknown number of attackers.”

The fighting comes a month after at least four soldiers were killed in the same district, and dents new optimism after Saudi Arabia and Iran, who back opposing sides in the war, agreed to restore diplomatic ties.

“The Houthis are interested in sending a clear political message that ... the Riyadh-Tehran deal does not mean they will just surrender,” said Maged Al-Madhaji, an analyst at the Sanaa Center for Strategic Studies think tank. “The Houthis lean more toward the option of a military confrontation than current negotiations.”

An exchange of hundreds of prisoners was agreed this week and Hans Grundberg, the UN secretary general’s special envoy for Yemen, has said “intense diplomatic efforts” were underway to reach a peace deal.

Source: Arab News

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Jordanian MPs vote for expulsion of Israeli ambassador over 'racist' remarks by minister

22 March 2023

Jordanian lawmakers have called for the expulsion of the Israeli ambassador following “racist” remarks by a far-right Israeli minister, who recently denied the existence of the Palestinian people.

During the legislative session on Wednesday, Jordanian House of Representatives Speaker Ahmed al-Safadi called on the government to take action in response to Israeli finance minister Bezalel Smotrich who said on Sunday there was "no such thing as a Palestinian people," or Palestinian history or culture.

The Palestine Committee and a large number of MPs in the Jordanian Parliament had submitted several proposals asking for the expulsion. The House of Representatives almost unanimously approved the motion.

The Jordanian Parliament said that it was united in rejecting Smotrich’s comments, calling his actions a reflection of “Israeli arrogance.”

The bill now requires the approval of the Senate and the signing of the Jordanian king in order to be implemented.

During a conference in Paris, Smotrich denied the existence of Palestine and stood beside a map of Israeli-occupied territories that included the West Bank, Gaza and most of Jordan.

“There are no Palestinians because there are no Palestinian people,” the far-right Israeli minister said. “There are Arabs around who don't like it, so what do they do? They invent a fictitious people and claim fictitious rights to the land of Israel, only to fight the Zionist movement," he added.

The Israeli ambassador was also summoned due to what Amman called "racist" and "extremist" behavior by the regime’s finance minister.

"These statements are provocative, racist and come from an extremist figure and we call on the international community to condemn it," Jordan's Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi said at a news conference on Tuesday.

The governments of Egypt and the United Arab Emirates also issued statements condemning Smotrich’s words and actions.

Speaking before a cabinet meeting on Monday, Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh also said Smotrich’s “inflammatory statements are consistent with the first Zionist sayings of a land without a people for a people without a land.”

He said the comments were “conclusive evidence of the extremist, racist Zionist ideology” of the current Israeli cabinet.

Smotrich was sworn in last year as a member of the regime’s new far-right cabinet led by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

He and his Zionist group have a history of making incendiary remarks about the Palestinians.

In February, Smotrich called for the Palestinian town of Huwara in the occupied West Bank to be “wiped out.”

Source: Press TV

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UK police question suspect after Muslim man set alight

March 23, 2023

The UK police arrested a suspect on Wednesday who set on fire an elderly Muslim man while he was walking towards his home from a mosque in Birmingham. The victim suffered serious burn injuries on his face, Al Jazeera reported.

A video of the incident is widely circulating on social media platforms. The CCTV camera footage shows a suspected young man wearing a blue hoodie approaching a victim who is in his 70s, walking on Shenstone road, and seen arguing with the old man.

Later, the victim’s jacket is set alight and an old man is heard screaming in pain.

Richard North — Chief Superintendent at Birmingham police said investigators were “keeping an open mind to the motive of the attacker”, he warned against speculation.

According to the West Midlands Police, “He [suspect] spoke to [the victim] briefly before spraying with an unknown substance and then his jacket was set alight, causing burns to his face.”

The victim was taken to hospital with serious injuries and is expected to survive.

“For 35 years he’s been going to that mosque to pray and there’s never been a problem … Suddenly this happens. His hair, beard and eyebrows are badly burnt. We’re praying he’s OK”, a victim’s nephew told BBC.

An MP of the opposition Labour Party, Zarah Sultan expressed her concern over the incident and said she was “horrified”.

Source: Dawn

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UK begins inquiry into British troops' alleged extrajudicial killings in Afghanistan

Burak Bir 



A judge in the UK on Wednesday launched an independent probe into allegations of dozens summary killings by British troops in Afghanistan.

Speaking to reporters in London, Lord Justice Haddon-Cave, the chair of the inquiry, issued a call for anyone with evidence to come forward.

It is "critical" that those who have violated the law be referred to authorities "for the reputation of the armed forces and the country," he said, referring to "extremely serious" allegations of more than 50 summary killings by the British Special Air Service (SAS) soldiers in Afghanistan.

"Either the allegations are untrue, or if some of them are true then the military and the country can hold its head high and say we have looked into these properly and thoroughly. It's about, ultimately, reputation," Haddon-Cave said.

Last December, Britain's Defense Ministry ordered an independent inquiry after a BBC TV documentary reported that soldiers from SAS had killed dozens of people during raids carried out by one SAS squadron in Helmand in 2010-11.

Source: Anadolu Agency

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German police conduct raids to arrest right-wing extremists



German police conducted raids across the country on Wednesday to arrest right-wing extremists involved in plots to overthrow the democratic system.

Raids in eight federal states targeted five members of the far-right Reichsburger (Reich Citizens) movement and more than a dozen of other right-wing extremists, according to the Federal Prosecutor’s office.

In the southwestern city of Reutlingen, a police officer was slightly injured after a suspect fired shots at officers as they arrived to search his home, public broadcaster ARD reported. The suspect was later arrested.

The raids were conducted in connection with an investigation into last year’s coup plot, and several active soldiers and police officers were among the suspects, according to the report.

Interior Minister Nancy Faeser said the latest developments have shown that the far-right Reichsburger movement poses a serious threat to democracy.

“We will continue our tough approach until we will completely uncover and dismantle these structures. No one in this extremist circle should believe that they are safe,” she said.

Faeser said followers of the Reichsburger movement were not “harmless lunatics” but dangerous extremists who possess many weapons, and make plans to overthrow the democratic system.

“We must be determined to disarm these extremists. To do that, we need to tighten our gun laws,” she said.

Suspects have ties to Reuss group

“The names of the suspects arrested on Wednesday were recently uncovered by the police during investigations into the far-right “Reuss group” which authorities believe planned a coup in Germany.

Key members of the group were arrested last December over plans to storm the German parliament, cause civil war-like conditions in the country, and overthrow the government.

Heinrich Reuss – a descendant of a noble family who is also known as Prince Heinrich XIII – was the leading figure in the group.

The 72-year-old was known for his sympathy toward the Reichsburger movement and promoted far-right and conspiratorial ideas.

A former lawmaker of the right-wing Alternative for Germany (AfD), several ex-military officers, and an active soldier from the Special Forces Command were among the 23 suspects detained last year.

Followers of the Reichsburger movement reject the legitimacy of the Federal Republic of Germany and believe that the country is governed by members of a so-called “deep state.”

Many refuse to pay taxes and they are often in conflict with authorities.

Source: Anadolu Agency

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Iran reiterates its opposition to continuation of war in Ukraine

23 March 2023

Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian reiterates Iran's opposition to the continuation of the war in Ukraine, repeating the Islamic Republic's readiness to help resolve the conflict.

The top diplomat made the remarks during a telephone conversation with his Swiss counterpart Ignazio Cassis early Thursday.

"Based on this (Iran's opposition to the continuation of the war), we are ready to offer whatever instance of assistance to help expedite the resolution of the crisis," Amir-Abdollahian said.

Cassis, for his part, welcomed the Islamic Republic's position of preparedness for contribution to the realization of peace in Ukraine.

Russia started a military campaign in neighboring Ukraine last February to defend the pro-Russian population in eastern Ukrainian against persecution by Kiev.

Ever since the beginning of the war, Western countries, led by the United States, have been pumping Ukraine full of tens of billions of dollars worth of advanced weapons, a step that Moscow says would only prolong the hostilities.

Throughout the course of the conflict, Iran has invariably communicated its opposition to either its continuation or exacerbation, expressing willingness to contribute to whatever intermediary efforts that could help spell an end to it.

The Islamic Republic has also consistently rejected allegations championed by the West, especially the US, of, what the allies have called, Tehran's "provision of drones" to Russia throughout the course of the warfare.

Most recently, Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei weighed in on the allegations during a televised New Year address on Tuesday. The Leader categorically dismissed the repetitive claims that have been made by Western countries about alleged Iranian drone shipments to Russia for use in the Ukraine war. Ayatollah Khamenei rather held the US responsible for fuelling the flames of war and profiting from the misery and blood of Ukrainians.

Still touching on the issue of the conflict during a separate phone call with Austrian Foreign Minister Alexander Schallenberg, Amir-Abdollahian again expressed hope for the acceleration of the process of cessation of the warfare.

The Iranian foreign minister reiterated the Leader's remarks concerning the Western accusations targeting Iran, saying, in line with Ayatollah Khamenei's assertions, the Islamic Republic emphatically rejects any involvement in the war.

Source: Press TV

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South Asia


Islamic Emirate Seeking to Hire Professionals, says Administrative Office of the President

By Hadia Ziaei

The deputy head of the Administrative Office of the President for policy monitoring, Saifuddin Tayib, said that the Islamic Emirate is seeking to incentivize the technical and professional sectors through the appointment of professional experts.

He made the remarks in an event at the Ministry of Urban Development and Land.

“We are trying to reduce the vacancies in (supportive) sectors and increase the openings for professional and technical figures. We are telling the administration --as many posts as you need, refer it here,” Tayib said.

The Administrative Reforms and Civil Service Commission (ARCSC) said that it has implemented an electronic system for the appointment of government employees in a bid to ensure transparency.

“Those who are selected ... will be selected for talent,” said Abdul Hanan Arif, head of the Administrative Reforms and Civil Service Commission.

This comes as the applicants called for ensuring transparency in the appointment process.

“This electronic examination (appointment process) should be just once because it will create problems for us in later terms,” said Mohammad Nabi, an applicant.

“If it is transparent, it will be a successful examination. It is both good for the country and employment,” said Hassan Behishti, an applicant.

Source: Tolo News

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Taliban acting finance minister becomes central bank governor

22 March, 2023

KABUL (Reuters) – The Taliban administration’s former acting finance minister, Mullah Hidayatullah Badri, has been appointed as governor of Afghanistan’s central bank, a finance ministry spokesman said on Wednesday.

Badri, who acted as the Taliban’s finance minister and oversaw budgets after they regained power in 2021, had already taken up his new role, finance ministry spokesman Ahmad Wali Haqmal told Reuters.

The reason for the appointment and who would replace Badri at the finance ministry were not immediately clear. His predecessor as central bank governor was Haji Mohammad Idris.

Badri was head of the economic commission of the Islamic Emirate, as the Taliban refer to their government, as they conducted a 20-year insurgency against the former Western-backed government of Afghanistan, according to Taliban officials. In that time he ran most of the Taliban’s fundraising, they say.

Afghanistan’s central bank appointments have been closely watched by Washington, which froze billions of the bank’s reserves held in the U.S. and later transferred half of the money to a trust fund in Switzerland overseen by U.S., Swiss and Afghan trustees.

Source: The Print

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Sri Lanka wants 5m tourists a year, envoy tells Riyadh event


March 22, 2023

RIYADH: Sri Lanka is planning to increase visitor numbers to 5 million a year in a bid to revive its tourism sector and struggling economy, according to the island’s ambassador to Saudi Arabia.

Pakeer Mohideen Amza was speaking at an event organized by the Sri Lankan Embassy in Riyadh on Monday to promote tourism to the South Asian country, which has faced an economic crisis and widespread social unrest since 2022.

The embassy is hoping to encourage visitors from the Middle East, especially Saudi Arabia, to visit Sri Lanka.

In a presentation, the ambassador shared statistics on tourism, and highlighted the country’s heritage, architectural history and natural attractions.

Tourism will contribute to the country’s economy, which has suffered because of the global pandemic and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Amza said.

“This year has started very well. I can say we had some challenging times in 2019. 2020 was the pandemic year. Then, in 2021, the tourism sector started to crumble. I think, in 2022, we started getting back, but, still, we had a bad economic situation. So, that hampered our tourism development,” he said.

However, the country had more than 100,000 visitors in January and February this year, signalling a stronger tourism market.

“We think tourism is a very important sector for our economy,” he said.

As for what visitors can expect in Sri Lanka, the ambassador said: “We are small, but we are rich in resources. And that’s what we say, come and explore.”

Asked about future projects or plans to attract tourists, he replied: “We have a plan to develop the tourism sector. It will attract 5 million tourists a year. I’m sure we need to do a lot about that. At the moment, we are bouncing back. So, come and hold our hands. Work together with us. Tourism is one area where we can work together.”

Zafra Zafeen, an embassy official, talked about the culture, food, climate and sightseeing locations in Colombo, the Sri Lankan capital.

Attendees included diplomats and stakeholders from the tourism sector.

Source: Arab News

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Southeast Asia


'Try it and see the consequences': Johor Sultan warns against defying ban on political talk in mosques

23 Mar 2023

JOHOR BAHRU: Johor ruler Sultan Ibrahim Ibni Almarhum Sultan Iskandar on Thursday (Mar 23) warned politicians against defying the order made by state rulers to stop using mosques and surau (small prayer halls) as political platforms.

“If anyone dares to challenge this directive in Johor, try it and see the consequences,” Sultan Ibrahim told The Star.

No political talks or speeches are allowed in mosques and surau in the southern Malaysian state, following a ban on Jan 18 by Johor Crown Prince Tunku Ismail Sultan Ibrahim who is also chairman of the state’s Islamic Religious Council.

A prohibition order against political talks had been sent to about 850 mosques and 2,000 surau across Johor, said Sultan Ibrahim as reported by The Star.

He added that mosques and surau should serve as information centres for dakwah (Islamic propagation) and places for religious talks by certified lectures and speakers, besides being a place for worship.

“If political talks are allowed, it will create uneasiness and disunity among Muslims.

“Do not tell me that politics is part of Islam and (that) politicians can talk freely,” he reportedly said, adding that he had a responsibility as the head of Islam in the state to protect the sanctity of the mosques.

According to The Star, Sultan Ibrahim also called on politicians to focus on solving bread-and-butter issues faced by the public instead of using race and religion to be divisive.

“Focus your attention on resolving the people’s burdens, such as the cost of living, meeting daily needs, their struggles to pay their household bills and economic concerns,” he said.

“Instead of dividing the people by harping on race and religion, tell me what are your plans to bring harmony?”

Sultan Ibrahim also expressed his displeasure over a preacher who allegedly insulted the royal institution and said that sultans, prime minister and ministers were all beneath religious scholars in standing.

State police chief Kamarul Zaman Mamat has said that 16 police reports have been lodged against the preacher, reported The Star.

Besides Johor, the east coast state of Terengganu has also banned politicians from delivering religious talks and sermons in mosques and surau.

The edict was announced on Mar 2 by Terengganu’s Islamic Religious and Malay Customs Council (MAIDAM), as ordered by state ruler Sultan Mizan Zainal Abidin.

This came after some politicians had given religious lectures or classes and led Friday prayers without the council’s approval.

“Therefore, MAIDAM has decided to disallow all state assemblymen, Members of Parliament (MPs), and senators from delivering any religious lectures in mosques and surau in Terengganu,” said MAIDAM president Shaikh Harun Shaikh Ismail.

He added that all political leaders and activists are also not allowed to lead and deliver the Friday sermon in mosques as well as deliver religious talks without the council's permission.

According to the Malay Mail, Parti Islam Se-Malaysia (PAS) president Abdul Hadi Awang said that he will continue to give sermons in Terengganu despite the ruling.

“We must realise (that) in Islam, politics and religion are inseparable. Even prophets gave political sermons,” he told reporters in Marang, Terengganu on Mar 4.

Source: Channel News Asia

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King, Queen remind Muslims not to waste food during Ramadan

23-03- 2023

KUALA LUMPUR: Yang di-Pertuan Agong Al-Sultan Abdullah Ri’ayatuddin Al-Mustafa Billah Shah advised Muslims in the country to not waste food when breaking fast during the Ramadan month.

The King decreed that wastage of food while breaking of fast among Muslims is a major contributor to food wastage during the Ramadan month because it is against the spirit of Ramadan which should be a month that teaches Muslims to be modest and not wasteful.

“Such wastage is against the principles of Ramadan because the fasting month is supposed to teach the people to be prudent and not waste food,” according to a posting on Istana Negara’s Facebook.

The Keeper of the Rulers’ Seal Tan Sri Syed Danial Syed Ahmad announced today that Muslims in Malaysia will begin fasting tomorrow (March 23).

Syed Danial said the starting date of the fast for states throughout Malaysia was set on the order of the Yang di-Pertuan Agong, Al-Sultan Abdullah Ri’ayatuddin Al-Mustafa Billah Shah after being consented to by the Rulers.

The Ramadan moon sighting took place in 29 locations across the country including Pontian Kecil, Johor and the Falak Al-Khawarizmi Complex in Kampung Balik Batu, Tanjung Bidara, Malacca.

The King also urged the Muslim community to increase charitable activities and not divulge in non-beneficial activities or be extravagant in spending.

Source: The Sun Daily

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Malaysia seeks closer ties with Saudi Arabia as PM arrives on first visit

March 22, 2023

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia’s Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim arrived on Wednesday on his first visit to Saudi Arabia, as Kuala Lumpur seeks closer ties with Riyadh.

Anwar began his trip with a stop in Jeddah, where he and members of his delegation, including first lady Wan Azizah Wan Ismail, Foreign Minister Zambry Abd Kadir and Communications Minister Fahmi Fadzil performed Umrah.

In Riyadh, the Malaysian premier is scheduled to meet King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman during the three-day visit, which is also his first outside Southeast Asia since taking office in November.

Malaysia’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement that the trip “reflects the special bond and long-standing relationship with the Kingdom and will provide an excellent opportunity for both sides to elevate bilateral relations and cooperation.”

As he reached the Kingdom, Anwar took to Twitter to say that the visit will hopefully “strengthen the relationship between the two countries” and “give an opportunity for both countries to discuss existing issues and cooperation as well as explore various new forms of cooperation.”

Saudi Arabia is Malaysia’s largest trading partner in the Middle East, with total trade valued at more than $10 billion in 2022, and Malaysian officials have been expressing intentions to strengthen ties and explore new areas of cooperation with Saudi Arabia.

The two countries last month agreed to finalize discussions on forming the Saudi Arabia-Malaysia Coordination Council.

With Anwar’s visit, Kuala Lumpur is likely seeking to become involved in the developments taking place in Saudi Arabia, said Shahriman Lockman, a director at the Institute of Strategic and International Studies in Kuala Lumpur.

“Anwar also probably believes that Malaysia should be plugged into the economic and social transformations that are taking place in Saudi Arabia,” Lockman told Arab News.

“Saudi Arabia obviously plays an indispensable role in the Muslim world, especially in relation to the annual Hajj. Unsurprisingly, the Malay-Muslim majority in Malaysia expects their prime ministers to maintain a stable relationship with Saudi Arabia.”

James Dorsey, a senior fellow at the Middle East Institute of the National University of Singapore, highlighted how Anwar has fostered good ties with Saudi Arabia throughout his three-decade-long political career.

Source: Arab News

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Arab World


Saudi, Iran FMs hold Ramazan call, vow to meet ‘soon’: Riyadh

March 23, 2023

The Saudi and Iranian foreign ministers spoke by phone to mark the beginning of Ramazan, vowing to meet “soon” to implement a landmark bilateral reconciliation deal, Riyadh said on Thursday.

The Saudi minister, Prince Faisal bin Farhan, called Hossein Amir-Abdollahian and the pair “exchanged congratulations on the occasion of the holy month of Ramadan”, which begins Thursday in both countries, the Saudi foreign ministry said in a statement posted on Twitter.

“The two ministers agreed to hold a bilateral meeting soon in order to pave the way for the reopening of embassies and consulates between the two countries,” the statement said.

Saudi officials have said the ministers’ expected meeting is the next step in a surprise Chinese-brokered rapprochement announced on March 10 intended to fully restore diplomatic ties seven years after they were severed.

Riyadh cut relations after Iranian protesters attacked Saudi diplomatic missions in 2016 following the Saudi execution of Shia cleric Nimr al-Nimr — just one in a series of flashpoints between the two longstanding regional rivals.

The deal is expected to see Iran and Saudi Arabia reopen their embassies and missions within two months and implement security and economic cooperation deals signed more than 20 years ago.

On Sunday, an Iranian official said President Ebrahim Raisi had favourably received an invitation to visit Saudi Arabia from King Salman, though Riyadh has yet to confirm.

Amir-Abdollahian told reporters the same day that the two countries had agreed to hold a meeting between their top diplomats and that three locations had been suggested, without specifying which.

Source: Dawn

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Hezbollah leader vows immediate response to any Israeli military aggression on Lebanon

22 March 2023

The leader of the Lebanese resistance movement has dismissed recent threats issued by Israeli officials concerning possible military aggression on Lebanon, saying any Zionist strike will be met with an immediate response.

Hezbollah Secretary-General Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah made the remarks while delivering a speech on Wednesday after the Tel Aviv regime blamed the resistance movement for a bombing in northern Israel.

Nasrallah said a war in Lebanon could lead to "a war throughout the region."

He warned that "any Zionist aggression, whether military or security, that affects any area in Lebanon and any person, whether he is Lebanese, Palestinian or of another nationality, the resistance will definitely and quickly respond to it."

Nasrallah said the attack in the northern city of Megiddo on March 13 shows Israel is in its weakest position ever.

According to Israeli media reports, an Israeli was seriously injured when a man infiltrated Israel from Lebanon last week and planted a roadside bomb near the Megiddo junction.

Israel authorities recently claimed the suspected perpetrator of a roadside bomb attack could have been a Palestinian refugee from Lebanon. The suspect was shot and killed by Israeli forces in the aftermath of the bombing. Israel had not formally announced whether its investigation had confirmed the origins of the bomber.

Nasrallah also told Israeli officials to "go to the sea and do whatever you want" and stressed that Hezbollah is "not afraid to go into battle."

The Hezbollah chief said, "our silence is part of the psychological media war with the enemy."

"It is not our responsibility to answer what confuses the enemy, and sometimes our answer is in not commenting on the incident."

"It is not our responsibility to answer what confuses the enemy, and sometimes our answer is in not commenting on the incident."

Elsewhere in his remarks, Nasrallah pointed to the ongoing protests and internal political crisis in Israel. "The Israeli entity is in crisis, and there has not been in the history of this entity such weakness and debilitation as there is today."

In July 2006, Israel launched a full-scale war on Lebanon following the abduction of two Israeli soldiers on Lebanese territory. According to a 629-page report of the Winograd Commission, appointed by the Israeli regime itself, Hezbollah fighters involved in defending Lebanon against the Israeli war defeated the enemy, and Tel Aviv was compelled to withdraw without having achieved any of its objectives.

The Winograd Commission was set by former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert in September 2006 to examine the events during Israel’s 33-day war on Lebanon.

The 2006 war is not only seen as a complete military failure for Israel but a point of transition in the entire region. People in Lebanon look at it as a major victory that could even impact the outcome of the current US economic war on Lebanon.

Source: Press TV

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Top UAE diplomat: Iran-Saudi rapprochement to benefit entire Middle East region

22 March 2023

The foreign minister of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) says his country welcomes an agreement between Iran and Saudi Arabia to restore diplomatic ties, adding the deal is of great benefit to the entire Middle East region.

Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan made the remarks in a telephone conversation with his Iranian counterpart Hossein Amir-Abdollahian late on Tuesday, after Tehran and Riyadh decided on March 10 to restore bilateral ties severed seven years ago.

Al Nahyan expressed hope that growing relations between Abu Dhabi and Damascus will result in enhancement of regional stability and security, and will serve the interests of Muslim countries in a satisfactory manner.

He extended an official invitation to Amir-Abdollahian to pay a visit to the UAE.

The Emirati foreign minister also offered his felicitations on the occasion of Nowruz or the Persian New Year, and its coincidence with the the holy fasting month of Ramadan.

For his part, the Iranian foreign minister said the recent normalization of ties between Iran and Saudi Arabia will further expand cooperation and convergence among the regional countries, voicing his satisfaction with developing relations between Syria and the UAE.

“Fortunately, bilateral relations between Tehran and Abu Dhabi are developing in political, economic, and trade spheres, and the recent constructive talks between security and economic officials from the two countries will pave the way for their further promotion,” Amir-Abdollahian said.

The Iranian foreign minister also announced Tehran's readiness to hold a joint meeting of merchants and businessmen from the two countries.

The two senior diplomats later exchanged viewpoints on common areas of interest concerning regional and international developments.

In January 2016, Iranian protesters, enraged by the execution of prominent Shia cleric Sheikh Nimr Baqir al-Nimr by the Saudi government, stormed its embassy in Tehran. Since then Saudi Arabia severed diplomatic relations with Iran.

To restore relations, the two sides had held five rounds of negotiations in the Iraqi capital of Baghdad since April 2021.

Following the recent deal to restore bilateral ties, Iran and Saudi Arabia agreed to re-open embassies and missions within two months and implement a security cooperation agreement signed in April 2001 and another accord reached in May 1998 to boost economic, commercial, investment, technical, scientific, cultural, sports, and youth affairs cooperation.

Kuwait hails Iran-Saudi reconciliation

Separately, the Kuwaiti foreign minister hailed reconciliation between Iran and Saudi Arabia as a good development that could benefit regional nations.

During a telephone conversation with Amir-Abdollahian, Sheikh Salem Abdullah al-Jaber al-Sabah also welcomed Iran’s initiative to facilitate consular affairs. He stressed the need for further development of bilateral relations.

Amir-Abdollahian, for his part, stated that the restoration of Iran’s diplomatic relations with Saudi Arabia is proceeding normally, expressing hope that he will meet with his Saudi counterpart Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud in the near future and that the two countries will soon reopen their embassies.

“Good steps have been taken in the regional arena, and are being followed up,” the Iranian foreign minister added.

Source: Press TV

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Two sentenced to death in Iraq over activist’s abduction

22 March ,2023

An Iraqi court has sentenced two men to death in absentia for the 2020 kidnapping and disappearance of an anti-government activist, the judiciary said Wednesday.

A criminal court in southern Dhi Qar province ordered Idriss Kurdi and Ahmed Mohammed Aboud, “who abducted activist Sajjad al-Iraki,” to be hanged, in a March 16 ruling, according to a statement released by the Supreme Council of Iraq.

A prominent activist in anti-government protests that rocked Iraq in October 2019, Iraki, aged in his 20s, has not been seen since September 2020, when witnesses and security force sources say armed men forced his car to stop and kidnapped him near Dhi Qar’s provincial capital, Nasiriyah.

Kurdi and Aboud remain at large and lawyers working on their behalf have 30 days to appeal the sentences before the decree authorizing their execution is signed by Iraq’s president.

In October 2019, young Iraqis led a nationwide protest movement that vented frustration at inept governance, endemic corruption and interference by Iran, sparking a bloody crackdown that left more than 600 dead and tens of thousands wounded.

Some activists died in targeted assassinations, including former government adviser Hisham al-Hashemi who was shot near his home in July 2020.

Mustafa al-Kadhimi, the prime minister until October 2022, had pledged to hunt down the perpetrators of the murders.

Last October, a man was sentenced to death for the murder of an activist in the protest movement, and in November 2021, another man received the same sentence for killing two journalists during protests in Basra in Iraq’s south.

In June 2022, the United Nations mission in Iraq denounced an “environment of fear and intimidation” that has stifled freedom of expression in the conflict-scarred country.

Source: Al Arabiya

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UAE President exchanges Ramadan greetings with Arab leaders

23 March ,2023

UAE President Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan has exchanged Ramadan greetings with heads of state across the Arab world.

Sheikh Mohamed exchanged phone calls with King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa of Bahrain; King Abdullah II bin Al Hussein of Jordan; Egyptian President Abdul Fatah al-Sisi; and President of Tunisia Kais Saied, state news agency WAM reported.

Sheikh Mohamed and the Arab leaders reciprocated good wishes for sustained prosperity and progress to Arab and Muslim nations and prayed to God Almighty for the blessing of stability to prevail across the world, WAM reported.

The holy month of Ramadan began on Thursday.

Ramadan is observed by more than 1.8 billion Muslims worldwide and is considered a month of fasting and spirituality.

Source: Al Arabiya

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Public Security chief: Begging at Grand Mosque will be dealt with firmly

March 23, 2023

MAKKAH — Director of Public Security Lt. Gen. Muhammad Al-Bassami has said that perpetrators of negative phenomena, including begging, will be dealt with firmly at the Grand Mosque and its courtyards in Makkah and punitive measures will be strictly applied to them.

Al-Bassami was addressing a press conference with the commanders of the Umrah security forces at the Unified Operations Center 911 in Makkah on Tuesday.

Al-Bassami and other senior security officials spoke about the Interior Ministry’s plans and preparations for the peak annual Umrah season that culminates in the holy month of Ramadan. Director General of Civil Defense Maj. Gen. Hamoud Al-Faraj and Deputy Director General of Passports Maj. Gen. Saleh Al-Murabba also attended the press conference.

Al-Bassami said the Umrah security plan for the year 1444 included major aspects of security such as crowd management, traffic control, and provision of humanitarian services, in addition to supporting and empowering parties participating in the implementation of the plan, and making available necessary human resources.

Source: Saudi Gazette

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Prophet's Mosque agency sets date of grouping for Al-Rawdah Al-Sharifah

March 22, 2023

MADINAH — The Agency of the General Presidency for the Affairs of the Prophet's Mosque has set the date of grouping pilgrims for Al-Rawdah Al-Sharifah during the holy month of Ramadan.

The agency said that the pilgrims, who hold the Al-Rawdah Al-Sharifah permit, are the ones who will be able to visit and pray in it.

It clarified that the date it has set will be only for the first day of Ramadan until the 19th of the holy month.

The grouping of men at the Al-Rawdah Al-Sharifah will be from 2:30 a.m. until the Fajr prayer, then, from the 11:30 a.m. until Isha prayer.

While women will be able to visit and pray in the Al-Rawdah Al-Sharifah after the Fajr prayer, until 11:00 a.m., then from 11 p.m. until 2:00 a.m.

Source: Saudi Gazette

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Is Zakir Naik likely to be deported from Oman? Know what his lawyer says

Sameer Khan

23rd March 2023

Recently, reports started surfacing that Islamic preacher Zakir Naik is likely to be deported from the Sultanate of Oman to India. Many media outlets claimed that Indian Intelligence Agencies were in conversation with the authorities in Oman to detain Zakir Naik during his visit to the country. Naik has been invited to deliver two religious lectures in Muscat on March 23 and 25.

However, Naik’s lawyer Mubin Solkar has refuted these reports, calling them fake, The Quint reported.

Who is Zakir Naik?

Zakir Naik is an Islamic preacher who has been in the news for various reasons over the years. He fled India in 2016 amid charges of spreading hatred and money laundering.

Naik was born in Mumbai and completed his MBBS degree in the city. He also founded the Islamic Research Foundation (IRF), which is currently banned in India.

He landed in a major controversy after it was revealed that one of the accused in the 2016 Dhaka cafe attack was inspired by his speeches.

In the same year, IRF was banned under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act of 1967.

He received asylum in Malaysia

In 2017, Naik received asylum in Malaysia and became a permanent resident. Though, he was banned from speaking in public in Malaysia, and the country has refused to extradite him.

Source: Siasat Daily

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Armed Russian jets violated US airspace over base in Syria 25 times in March: General

23 March ,2023

Armed Russian jets violated the US airspace over Tanf base in Syria 25 times so far in March, a senior US general told NBC on Wednesday, adding that a main concern is a “miscalculation or unprofessional or immature action by somebody” in light of the incident of the US drone crash into the Black Sea after being intercepted by Russian fighter jets.

Lt. Gen. Alexus Grynkewich, combined forces air component commander for US Central Command, said in the interview that the Russians violated a years-old agreement between the US and Russia, risking escalation.

The US and Russian militaries had signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) that set out air safety procedures in Syrian skies to avoid any accidents or encounters between the two forces’ jets.

“The Russians have over the last several months seemed to abandon that tenet of the protocols,” Grynkewich said.

To put the number of Russian flights over the US airbase in perspective, the US commander said there were zero violations in February, and 14 in January. Grynkewich said it was a “substantial increase” and that if the Russians kept up this rate they would be “on track to be double what has been in the past”.

“They’re regularly flying directly overhead of our units, and I’ve defined directly overhead, as within about a mile, no more than a mile offset one side or the other, while we’ve got forces right there on the ground at ATG [al-Tanf Garrison],” Grynkewich told NBC, adding: “So, it’s an uncomfortable situation.”

The commander said the violations “increase the risk of miscalculation,” adding: “and given things like the MQ-9 incident in the Black Sea, it’s not the kind of behavior that I’d expect out of a professional Air Force.”

A US military surveillance drone (MQ-9 Reaper) crashed into the Black Sea on March 14 after an encounter with Russian Su-27 fighter jets in international airspace near territory Russia claims to have annexed from Ukraine.

The US and Russian offered different versions of events diverging over the cause of the drone’s crash. The US maintains that a Russian Su-27 jet clipped the propeller of the drone which led to the crash; while Russia denies any physical contact between its jets and the drone, and says, “the device went out of control as a result of sharp maneuvering,” then crashed.

This was the first such incident between Washington and Moscow since the latter launched its invasion of Ukraine in February 2022.

On Monday, the Russian defense ministry said a Russian Su-35 fighter jet was scrambled over the Baltic Sea to intercept two US B-52H strategic bombers flying towards the Russian border. Washington denies the incident took place.

The general explained that US forces or international coalition against ISIS forces respond to the Russian aircraft, usually by shadowing them from a distance. However, he warned that if they had to respond to a Russian flight during an ongoing US military operation on the ground, the mission could be in jeopardy.

Source: Al Arabiya

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Lebanon’s police fire tear gas as protesters try to storm govt headquarters

22 March ,2023

Lebanese security forces fired tear gas on Wednesday to disperse hundreds of protesters, mainly retired soldiers, who tried to break through the fence leading to the government headquarters in downtown Beirut.

The violence came amid widespread anger over the harsh economic conditions in the country, where mismanagement by the ruling class has been rampant for years, preceding the economic meltdown that started in late 2019.

The retired soldiers and policemen demanding better pay clashed with riot police and troops. Several people suffered breathing problems from the tear gas.

The protesters hurled stones at the officers protecting the government headquarters and repeatedly tried to break through the fence.

There was no immediate information about any injuries during the violence. The protest was called for by retired soldiers and depositors who have had limited access to their savings after local banks imposed informal capital controls amid the crisis.

The controls restrict cash withdrawals from accounts to avoid folding amid currency shortages. People with dollar accounts can only withdraw small sums in Lebanese pounds, at an exchange rate far lower than that of the black market.

Since early Wednesday, riot police and army special forces were deployed around the government headquarters, an Ottoman-era three-story building known as the Grand Serail of Beirut.

The Lebanese pound hit a new low on Tuesday, selling for more than 143,000 pounds to the dollar before making some gains.

The pound has lost more than 95 percent of its value over the past three years. The official rate is 15,000 pounds to the dollar.

“My monthly salary is $40. How can I survive,” screamed a retired army officer.

Most people in Lebanon get paid in Lebanese pounds and have seen the value of their salaries drop over the past years as the pound crashed.

With trust in the pound declining, most grocery stores, restaurants and other businesses have opted to start pricing their goods and services in dollars.

While this “dollarization” aims to ease inflation and stabilize the economy, it also threatens to push more people into poverty and deepen the crisis.

Lebanon, a small Mediterranean nation of 6 million people, including 1 million Syrian refugees, is in the grips of the worst economic and financial crisis in its modern history, rooted in decades of corruption and mismanagement by a political class that has ruled the country since the end of the 1975-90 civil war.

The political class has also resisted the implementation of reforms demanded by the international community.

Since the economic meltdown began, three-quarters of the population, which includes 1 million Syrian refugees, now lives in poverty and inflation is soaring.

Source: Al Arabiya

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Egypt’s Suez Canal economic zone and Abu Dhabi ports partner to develop projects

22 March ,2023

Egypt’s Suez Canal economic zone said on Wednesday that it partnered with Abu Dhabi (AD) ports to develop several projects in ports within the zone.

Abu Dhabi ports will develop projects in the ports of East Port Said, West Port Said and Al Areesh, it said in a statement.

Source: Al Arabiya

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Saudi Arabia’s King Salman arrives in Jeddah, shares message to nation as Ramadan begins

March 22, 2023

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s King Salman traveled from Riyadh to Jeddah on Wednesday. Later, the Kingdom’s minister of media, Salman Al-Dosari, delivered a speech on behalf of the king to citizens and residents at the start of Ramadan.

In the address, the king thanked God for all His blessings and said he was honored to serve the two holy mosques and pilgrims from all around the world. He said Saudi Arabia spares no effort as it strives to ensure the comfort and safety of pilgrims, and takes care to provide them with all the services they require from the moment they arrive until they return home.

The ruler said the holy month is a blessed one and that he asks God to help all Muslims to take advantage of its days and nights to do good deeds. He also asked God to protect Saudi Arabia and the world from evil.

King Salman later posted a tweet in which he asked God to “make Ramadan a month of goodness, blessings and peace for our people, the Muslim nation and people all over the world.”

Source: Arab News

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‘Starving’ retired army personnel protest against Lebanon’s ‘corrupt’ political elite


March 22, 2023

BEIRUT: Retired military personnel took to the streets of downtown Beirut on Wednesday to protest against the increasing financial hardships they said they are facing as a result of Lebanon’s economic crisis and rampant corruption.

Their angry demonstration followed the latest sharp decline in the value of the Lebanese pound on Tuesday, which prompted calls on social media for civil disobedience and public protests. Many of the protesters carried Lebanese flags and placards denouncing the government and its financial policies.

“Where is the conscience of the ruling powers?” said one of the demonstrators Arab News spoke to.

“Don’t they feel guilty about the retired members of the military who have served their country all their lives, given that they are currently starving and not able to access medical care services? Hospitals are holding their bodies in morgue freezers because their families cannot afford the hospital bills.”

Another retired military man told Arab News: “Retired soldiers are now paid peanuts amid the sharp increase in the dollar exchange rate and the dollarization of food prices.

“We need international protection to save us from corrupt politicians. We are no longer able to secure our food. We do not follow any political party or militia. We only belong to our homeland. They are criminals, endangering their country. Let it be known that the people will have no mercy on the tyrants.”

The drastic collapse of the exchange rate of the Lebanese pound against the dollar means that the value of monthly salaries paid to retired military personnel, and public-sector workers, has fallen to between $20 and $60.

“We came to discover whether there is still any state and to claim our salaries and rights to medical care with dignity,” retired Brig. Gen. Chamel Roukoz told Arab News: “The state has a duty toward us. Taking to the streets was our only solution.”

The protesters refused to meet any representatives of the Forces of Change, new members of parliament who were elected last year with the promise of representing the popular mood of opposition to the political status quo, because “they did nothing to benefit the people.” They said that MP Paula Yacoubian and the activist Wassef Al-Harakeh had been expelled from the demonstration.

The protesters breached barbed wire fences surrounding the Grand Serail, the headquarters of caretaker Prime Minister Najib Mikati, and declared their intent to break in. In response, security and riot control officers used tear gas to disperse the crowd. The majority of the protesters were elderly and a number were treated by the Red Cross for suffocation.

“Wouldn’t it be better if they had given hungry soldiers money instead of spending it on bombs?” said one injured demonstrator.

Later, the protesters met Mikati and warned of “an unprecedented escalation if promises to fulfill the demands are not met, notably paying the public sector and retirees’ salaries based on the Sayrafa platform’s exchange rate, which is 25,000 pounds against the dollar, instead of the current rate of 90,000 pounds.”

In a separate incident, in the Jnah neighborhood in the southern suburbs of Beirut, fishermen blocked a road in protest against their deteriorating financial situation.

Elsewhere, members of an association that represents public administration employees protested in front of the Finance Ministry, demanding that the government “give public sector employees their rights by revising their salaries and transportation allowance, and securing their healthcare and education grants.”

Similar protests took place in Sidon, Tyre and Nabatieh.

An International Monetary Fund delegation, headed by Ernesto Rigo Ramirez, on Wednesday met the Saudi ambassador to Lebanon, Walid bin Abdullah Bukhari. Embassy sources said that they discussed “the (overall) developments and conditions needed for Lebanon to recover from the political and economic crisis, in addition to issues of common concern.”

Meanwhile, in an address to the nation at the start of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, Grand Mufti Sheikh Abdul Latif Deryan warned of “the emerging chaos whose price will be paid by citizens.” It is necessary to “resort to the constitution immediately, elect a president and stop wasting time,” he said.

Source: Arab News

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Saudi Arabia strongly condemns Israel’s decision to allow re-settlement in northern West Bank

March 23, 2023

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia on Wednesday strongly condemned a decision taken by the occupying Israeli authorities to allow re-settlement in the areas of the northern West Bank in Palestine.

“The Ministry of Foreign Affairs expressed the Kingdom’s strong condemnation of this decision, which is a flagrant violation of all international laws, contributes to undermining regional and international peace efforts, obstructs political solutions based on the Arab Peace Initiative, and guarantees the establishment of a Palestinian state on the 1967 borders with East Jerusalem as its capital,” it said in a statement.

The settler movement scored a victory Tuesday in the Israeli parliament, which rolled back law banning Israelis from an area in the northern West Bank from which Jewish residents were evacuated in 2005.

UN Middle East peace envoy Tor Wennesland said he does “remain deeply troubled by continued Israeli settlement expansion,” including the recent authorization of nine settlements in the occupied West Bank and the construction of thousands of new housing units in existing settlements.

Source: Arab News

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OIC chief calls water conservation awareness

March 22, 2023

JEDDAH: Secretary-General of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation Hissein Brahim Taha said that the theme of this year’s International World Water Day, “Be the change,” is a call to promote awareness about water conservation and to seek alternative water sources and regulations for a water-secure future.

He underlined that the water crisis, like any other global crisis, requires a cohesive international community that enables its stakeholders to work collectively toward common goals by facilitating knowledge-sharing and capacity-building.

The OIC chief emphasized that water security has assumed strategic importance for the organization’s member states. The challenges of ensuring access to water and managing unpredictable water-related risks are becoming more pronounced, he added.

The “enormity of the challenge requires indeed a collective response within a framework of cooperation at global, regional and sub-regional levels,” Taha said.

He reiterated that the OIC remains committed to ensuring the realization of its Water Vision Implementation Plan, approved in Egypt in 2018, “which provides a framework for promoting cooperation for a water-secure future through increased collaboration, exchange of best practices, technology transfer, capacity-building and development of expertise in various water-related disciplines.”

Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia is participating in the UN Water Conference, which is being held at UN headquarters in New York between March 22-24.

The Kingdom’s delegation is led by Abdulaziz Al-Shaibani, the undersecretary for water affairs at the Ministry of Environment, Water and Agriculture, and includes other representatives from the water sector in the Kingdom.

Source: Arab News

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Jordanian MPs vote to expel Israeli envoy in Amman over Palestine denial speech

March 22, 2023

AMMAN: The Jordanian Parliament’s Lower House has voted to expel Israel’s ambassador in Amman in protest over Israeli Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich’s reference to a map of Israel that included the occupied West Bank, Gaza, and Jordan.

During a speech in Paris on Sunday, Smotrich claimed the notion of a Palestinian people was artificial.

He said: “There is no such thing as a Palestinian nation. There is no Palestinian history. There is no Palestinian language.”

The minister was speaking at a memorial event for a French Israeli right-wing activist who had denied the existence of a Palestinian nation and advocated annexation of the West Bank.

During the Jordan Parliament session on Wednesday, MPs described Smotrich’s words as reflecting “an Israeli arrogance and disrespect of international treaties and conventions,” the Jordan News Agency reported.

Source: Arab News

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US Secretary of State Blinken says Tunisia risks ‘deep end’ without IMF deal

22 March ,2023

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken warned Wednesday that Tunisia urgently needs to reach a deal with the IMF, adding to dire EU warnings about the country’s future.

“The most critical thing they can do on the economic side is actually get an IMF agreement,” Blinken said in response to a question at a Senate hearing.

“We would strongly encourage them to do that because the economy risks falling off the deep end,” he said.

Tunisia has been struggling under mounting debt and rising prices worsened by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. It reached an agreement in principle in mid-October for a nearly $2 billion package from the International Monetary Fund.

The international lender has sought reforms in Tunisia and more recently has voiced alarm over a wave of racist attacks after remarks by President Kais Saied against “illegal migrants” from sub-Saharan Africa.

European Union foreign policy chief Josep Borrell warned Monday that Tunisia risks collapse “economically or socially” that could trigger a new flow of migrants to Europe – an assessment rejected by Tunis.

Blinken also renewed concerns about the political turn of Tunisia under Saied, who consolidated power in 2021 and has since granted himself almost limitless powers.

Source: Al Arabiya

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Ramadan: Buhari sends message to Muslims as fasting begins

March 22, 2023

By Seun Opejobi

President Muhammadu Buhari has sent greetings and best wishes to Muslims as they commence 30 days of Ramadan fasting.

Buhari urged Muslims to use the season “to project the best and finest virtues of Islam by personal conduct, and not precept.”

In a goodwill message to mark the beginning of the holy month of Ramadan, Buhari says “let us use this opportunity to put the best teachings of Islam into practice, such as kindness and the love of humanity.”

According to the President, “This is an occasion for deep reflection and greater fear of Allah and avoidance of all evils that harm humanity.

“Ramadan is characterised by abstention from food and drinks from dawn to dusk, which brings both the rich and poor to share the experience of hunger together, thereby strengthening the bonds between haves and have-nots.”

Buhari explained that “as we begin these 30 days fasting season, let us not forget that Ramadan is not only about abstention from eating and drinking, but it is a reminder to refrain from all kinds of evil and transgressions that harm humanity.

“I am particularly aware of the activities of traders who artificially increase the prices of their goods, including food at the beginning of every month of Ramadan. This kind of exploitation is against the spirit of the Ramadan and the spirit of Islam.”

Source: Daily Post Nigeria

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Algeria’s police dismantle Syria-Europe human trafficking network

23 March ,2023

Algerian authorities have dismantled an international network specializing in trafficking people through Algeria to Europe, local media reported on Wednesday.

The agency specializing in tackling organized crime arrested nine Syrians and six Algerians suspected of belonging to the group which trafficked Syrians and Lebanese, the report said.

Millions of Syrians have been uprooted by 12 years of war in their country, and almost one million are in Germany. Lebanese have also been fleeing their country’s economic collapse.

During a five-month investigation, the Algerian police uncovered a network transporting the migrants to Benghazi airport in Libya, according to news website Ennaharonline.

The migrants would then be taken by road to the Libyan town of Ghadames, from which they would cross the border on remote paths through the desert to Debdeb on the Algerian side.

Finally, they would be taken to the western Algerian city of Oran to prepare for clandestine sea crossings to Europe, according to Ennaharonline.

Such crossing attempts claim the lives of thousands of migrants each year.

The website said migrants had to pay “exorbitant” sums in foreign currency to reach Europe.

Source: Al Arabiya

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Five migrants drown, 28 missing off Tunisia

March 22, 2023

TUNIS: Five migrants from sub-Saharan Africa drowned and another 28 were missing Wednesday after their boat capsized off Tunisia, a rights group said.

“Five migrants’ bodies were recovered and five other migrants were rescued, but 28 are still missing,” said Romdhane Ben Amor of the Tunisian Forum for social and economic rights (FTDES).

He said it had sunk “because it was overloaded” with 38 people, mostly from the Ivory Coast.

The boat had set off from the coastal region of Sfax in the direction of the Italian island of Lampedusa, a popular launchpad for people from people escaping war and persecution across Africa to try to reach safety in Europe.

The sinking is the latest such tragedy on the central Mediterranean, known as the world’s deadliest migration route.

It comes a month after President Kais Saied made an incendiary speech accusing migrants from sub-Saharan Africa of representing a “plot” against Tunisia and causing a wave of crime.

His comments sparked a wave of violence against black migrants, and landlords fearing fines evicted hundreds of people who are now camping in the streets of Tunis.

Migrants, many of whom fear they will face violence if they go home, have called on the United Nations’ refugee agency UNHCR to evacuate them.

Source: Arab News

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