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Islamic World News ( 21 Apr 2020, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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‘India Heaven for Muslims’: Union Minister Amid Allegations Of ‘Islamophobia’ By OIC

New Age Islam News Bureau

21 Apr 2020

India’s Muslims, its minorities, all its sections, are prosperous, says Union minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi.(Pratik Chorge/HT Photo)


• ‘India Heaven for Muslims’: Union Minister Amid Allegations Of ‘Islamophobia’ By OIC

• Videos Viral with False Claim of Poor Slum Dwellers and Muslims Hoarding Food in Meerut

• Trump U-Turns Reporter’s Question About Ramadan Social Distancing

• Itikaf, The Ritual of Staying in A Mosque Solely for The Purpose of Worship and Meditation, Suspended at Two Holy Mosques

• Celebrate Ramadan Digitally, British Muslims Are Urged Amid Fears Of A Spike Of Cases If Families Gather To Break Their Fast During The Holy Month

• Ulema and Mashaikh of Different Schools of Thought Back PM’s Stance on Lockdown

• New Coronavirus Regulations for The First 10 Days of The Holy Month for Areas with Muslim Majority in East Jerusalem

• Waqf Board of Sri Lanka:No Prayers in Mosques or Distribution of Food During Ramadan

• Coronavirus Fears Prompt Indonesia To Ban Mass Travel of Muslims At End of Ramadan

• COVID-19: Sultan of Sokoto Warns Against Lectures, Mosque Gatherings During Ramadan



• ‘India Heaven for Muslims’: Union Minister Amid Allegations Of ‘Islamophobia’ By OIC

• Videos Viral with False Claim of Poor Slum Dwellers and Muslims Hoarding Food in Meerut

• False: Muslim Gujjars not barred from selling milk in district Una

• Andhra Pradesh CM YS Jaganmohan Reddy talks to Muslim leaders before Ramzan


North America

• Trump U-Turns Reporter’s Question About Ramadan Social Distancing

• Gift Drive for The Children Of Muslim Inmates Seeks To Serve The ‘Hidden Ummah’

• Trump says he’ll ‘suspend immigration’ into the US

• Social gatherings and congregational prayers cancelled during Ramadan


Arab world

• Itikaf, The Ritual of Staying in A Mosque Solely for The Purpose of Worship and Meditation, Suspended at Two Holy Mosques

• Coronavirus: Ban on Public Prayer at Saudi Arabia's Grand Mosque Extended Through Ramadan

• UAE's First 'Fatwa-Approved' Loto Crowns Inaugural Winners

• Can mild or asymptomatic coronavirus patients fast during Ramadan?

• Coronavirus: Oman bans Ramadan mass gatherings, extends Muscat lockdown until May 8

• Katara to launch Ramadan competitions and exhibitions via social media

• Time Hotels offers iftar deliveries during Ramadan



• Celebrate Ramadan Digitally, British Muslims Are Urged Amid Fears Of A Spike Of Cases If Families Gather To Break Their Fast During The Holy Month

• Dutch-Muslim Politician Tweets Jewish Yellow Star to Protest Virus Surveillance

• Muslim World League Launches Ramadan Food Basket Project in Senegal

• Muslim community in Sheffield urged to celebrate Ramadan at home

• Priests quarantined in Georgian monastery

• Bradford Kurdish Mosque makes second large donation to local key workers



• Ulema and Mashaikh of Different Schools of Thought Back PM’s Stance on Lockdown

• 30 to 39-year-olds now the third most vulnerable age group to Covid-19 in capital

• Firing during jirga at mosque leaves 3 dead

• HBL's Islamic Banking joins hands for affordable Naya Pakistan housing

• NAB warns Shahbaz of serious consequences over non-cooperation

• Pakistan sees spike in virus deaths as toll surges to 192

• Pakistan’s Foreign Ministry releases details of telephone conversation between Atmar, Qureshi



• New Coronavirus Regulations for The First 10 Days of The Holy Month for Areas with Muslim Majority in East Jerusalem

• Syrian air defences intercept Israeli missiles over Palmyra: SANA

• Coronavirus is taking its toll on Gaza’s economy

• 18 institutions ask UNHCR to secure release of Palestinian journos from Israeli jails amid coronavirus

• Coronavirus pandemic shows West's failure, immorality: Syrian President Assad

• Iran increases range of naval missiles to 700km without foreign help: IRGC commander

• Iran taking delivery of 3 mln tons of wheat to improve supplies

• Turkey brings back expats from Europe on eve of Ramadan


South Asia

• Waqf Board of Sri Lanka:No Prayers in Mosques or Distribution of Food During Ramadan

• WHO official praises China for sharing experience to combat COVID-19

• India hands over tablets in a bid to help fight coronavirus outbreak among Afghan forces

• Afghans not astounded with birth of two-headed calf amid parallel governments

• Afghanistan surpasses 1,000 cases of coronavirus as authorities record 30 new cases


Southeast Asia

• Coronavirus Fears Prompt Indonesia To Ban Mass Travel of Muslims At End of Ramadan

• Jokowi Bans 'IdulFitriExodus' As Ramadan Approaches

• After Malaysian students form new Covid-19 cluster, Indonesia to conduct rapid tests at Islamic boarding school

• Mosques to remain closed for another week



• COVID-19: Sultan of Sokoto Warns Against Lectures, Mosque Gatherings During Ramadan

• SA Muslims look online to stay connected during Ramadan

• Jama’atu Nasir Islam Urges Islamic Clerics to Avoid Group Prayers, Sermons during Ramadan

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau



‘India Heaven for Muslims’: Union Minister Amid Allegations Of ‘Islamophobia’ By OIC

Apr 21, 2020

Days after the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation expressed concern over alleged incidents of “Islamophobia” in India, Minority Affairs Minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi on Tuesday said Muslims are prosperous in the country and those trying to vitiate the atmosphere cannot be their friends.

The Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) on Sunday urged India to take “urgent steps” to protect the rights of its minority Muslim community and stop the incidents of “Islamophobia” in the country.

Asked about the OIC criticism, Naqvi said, “We are doing our job with conviction. The prime minister whenever he speaks, he talks about the rights and welfare of 130 crore Indians.” “If somebody cannot see this, then it is their problem. India’s Muslims, its minorities, all its sections, are prosperous and those people trying to vitiate this atmosphere of prosperity, they cannot be friends of Indian Muslims,” he told reporters.

The minority affairs minister asserted “secularism and harmony” is not a “political fashion”, but a “perfect passion” for India and Indians.


Videos viral with false claim of poor slum dwellers and Muslims hoarding food in Meerut


20th April 2020

Two videos have gone viral with the claim that people from the Muslim community are hoarding food supplies and wasting food amidst the lockdown imposed to tackle coronavirus.

A 90-second video of a man who claims to be reporting at a slum near Gandhi Ashram has gone viral. In this video, the man says that since past seven or eight days he has been visiting these slums to give food. However, he claims that some people have been hoarding the relief food even when they have more than enough supplies of their own. Later in the video, he enters a house and shows various food items – a portion of chicken, a meagre quantity of flour and nine food packets. The video also shows stacks of pooris lying on a table. Just as the pooris are shows we can hear goats bleating in the background. While the man walks out, we see a lady sitting on the ground. She said, “We took them out because of the dal.” The man wraps up the video by requesting people of Meerut not to distribute food at slums near Gandhi Ashram.

The readers should note that police officers can be seen in the viral video and the fact that the man in the video made no communal comments

Alt News has received several requests to fact-check this on WhatsApp (+91 76000 11160) and on our official Android application with the claim that “people of Muslim communities are deliberately hiding food.”

Several Facebook users have posted a different one-minute video with the claim that Muslims are hoarding food so that poor Hindus are starved. This video shows the man from video 1 in an orange kurta. Just like the first video he appears to be reporting. According to him, food is being wasted at a leprosy ashram. The video shows a room where pooris are lying on the floor. It is pertinent to note only the man who appears to be reporting can be seen in the video. The video abruptly ends with the frame of stacks of jute bags.

On April 12, Kumar Ajit posted the viral video and wrote in Hindi, “#Caution #Food_Jihad has started, loot the food and let it go bad, don’t let the food reach to any Hindu poor, so that the government looks bad and poor Hindus die (translated from #सावधान  #खाना_ज़िहाद शुरू हो चुका है, खाना लूटो और उसे खराब कर दो, किसी हिन्दू गरीब को खाना ना पहुँचने दो, ताकि सरकार बदनाम हो और गरीब हिन्दू भूखा मरे ). This video has been viewed over 66,000 times and shared by more than 2,700 users. (archive link)

A Facebook user even felt the need to mention ‘muslanmanoo’ and ‘jihadiyon’ in brackets just in case the communal subtext wasn’t clear.

Alt News found a Facebook post by Mukesh Garg which includes two videos, video 1 and a longer version of video 2, posted on April 10. It is pertinent to note the man seen the viral videos cannot be seen in the second video uploaded by Garg.

He wrote, “All the institutions of the country must watch both these videos. Look how slum dwellers and disrespecting the god of food (translated from देश की सभी संस्थाओं को यह दोनो वीडियो जरूर देखनी चाहिये।यह झुगी झोपड़ी वाले अन्न देवता का कैसे अनादर कर रहे है।). This post is massively viral, it has been shared over 63,000 times. One of the videos has over 11 lakh views (Video 1) while the other has over three lakh views. (archive link)

At the very first second in video 1, a car’s number plate is visible – UP 15 CN 2507. Using this as a clue, Alt News looked up its registration details and found that it registered at Meerut RTO to one Ankur Sharma.

We then performed a keyword search on YouTube and found a report published by Jan TV on April 10. This video shows footage from both the viral videos.

Jan TV aired a few seconds of both viral videos on mute and presented a similar narrative that poor marginalised people from leprosy ashram and slums near Gandhi Ashram are hoarding food supplies. The report also added that these people sell excess food. The report included a statement from district magistrate Ajay Kumar Tiwari. He discouraged hoarding and said that authorities will look into the claims made in the viral video. Tiwari added that authorities will visit the slums where food is being wasted and explain to them that there is no food shortage. Tiwari acknowledged that selling of meat is a serious matter and said no one is authorised to sell meat.

Alt News reached out to multiple journalists in Meerut hoping to find more details about the videos. According to them, the man in the video is Navneet Balaji, a member of Hindu Yuva Vahini (HYV). HYV is a youth organisation founded by Uttar Pradesh chief minister Yogi Adityanath. Balaji refuted the claim made by JAN TV that people are selling excess food.

Alt News spoke with Balaji. He said, “I work in the real estate sector,” and confirmed that he is a part of HYV. Explaining the context behind the viral video he said, “I heard that some marginalised people were hoarding food. So I decided to look into the matter along with the government officials.” Balaji didn’t reveal the identity of the officials to Alt News. When we informed that the video is being shared with communal narrative, Balaji clarified that there is no communal angle to this video. “I just wanted to show that some people are taking more food supplies than required.”

Balaji told us that video 1 was shot on April 9 and video 2 was shot a day prior. “Multiple people were shooting the video on April 8, that’s why there are two versions of the video online,” he added, “There is no Hindu-Muslim angle to my videos.”

Alt News reached out to a local journalist (identity concealed at request) who visited the location where the video was shot. According to the journalist, the slums are located 100 metres away from Gandhi Ashram crossway.

According to the journalist, the woman is the video has nine family members. Alt News crossed checked this with Ashutosh Kumar, inspector Nauchandi, Meerut. “The woman seen in the viral video is Kasturi and she belongs to a Hindu family,” the inspector added.

As per the journalist, Kasturi explained that pooris had dampened because they were packed with dal which is why she placed them outside to dry. In the video, we can hear Kasturi trying to make this point twice. Inspector Kumar said, “She told us that uses these pooris with other food that is given to her.” The journalist also told that he got the same explanation from Kasturi.

The journalist added that many families in slums accept extra food packages because there is an uncertainly about their next meal. While speaking with Alt News, inspector Kumar said, “These people get food from the government or NGOs. They accept food from everyone hoping to secure the next meals.”

The image below shows four screenshots from the video of various food items – chicken and chapati, pooris (which were next to chicken curry), boxes (that don’t look like food parcels, possibly empty) and flour. Anyone in the right mind will not label this quantity as hoarding. However, Balaji felt that Kasturi’s family had excess food.

Inspector Kumar informed, “Kasturi got chicken from Lisari gate. We told her not to do this in future (until lockdown).” Alt News checked the distance of Lisari gate from Gandhi Ashram crossway in order to verify it was practically possible to make this trip during the lockdown. We found out that Lisari gate is within a two-kilometre radius from Kasturi’s home.

The viral video also shows boxes of food – possible flavoured rice or biryani. Balaji suggested that the family had taken more food than necessary. However, in the picture, we can clearly see the boxes match the number of members in Kasturi’s family.

Inspector Kumar clarified that social media claims are baseless and added, “The family shown in the video is a Hindu family.” Balaji also confirmed that there is no communal narrative, as mentioned above.

Balaji added, “After I learnt that the video got viral, I realised that the families in this area might be struggling to get food from NGOs. Since last two days, I have been going to this area to give them food.” Alt News couldn’t independently verify this claim.

Thus, the social media claim associated with the first viral video is false. Additionally, Balaji’s allegation that the family shown in the video is hoarding food doesn’t hold water. Moreover, entering someone’s home without permission and filming them inside is a gross violation of privacy.

At the beginning of the video, Balaji said he is at Kusht Ashram behind a mehal. Using that as a clue, Alt News performed a keyword search on Google and found Shri Vivekanand Kusht Ashram (SVKA), a leprosy shelter. As per Just Dial, the ashram is located on Delhi Road, behind MukudMehal.

Alt News tried looking up for the ashram on Google maps but couldn’t find it. After speaking with Balaji, we learnt that the ashram is located behind Hotel Mukut Mahal, Delhi Road. Since it is not marked on the map, Alt News requested Balaji to pin-point in on the map. The screenshot below highlights the location of Shri Vivekanand Kusht Ashram (SVKA), as per Balaji.

Balaji said, “On April 8 we visited the ashram in order to assess if they need food supplies. While inspecting the premises we saw few doors that were locked. One of our team members managed to have a peek inside and pointed out that there is food lying on the ground.” As stated above, he clarified that there is no communal narrative in the video.

Alt News spoke to Sachin, secretary at SVKA. Sachin informed that in the ashram only members of the Hindu community stay and refuted the communal narrative on social media. According to him, they had received food on KanyaPoojan which was celebrated on April 1 this year. “This year we received pooris in extra quantity. Despite distributing it among ashramites food was left. We were going to give it to a gaushala,” Sachin said. He added that they received food from Amar Ujala newspaper as well.

Alt News spoke with Rajan Tripathi regional editor Amar Ujala, Meerut. According to Tripathi, SVKA had reached out, prior to April 1, for aid because they were struggling to feed the people at the ashram. He also pointed out that the ashram is very close to their office. Alt News checked on Google maps and found that it is within a two-kilometre radius.

Tripathi said, “I find it unlikely that KanyaPoojan was celebrated due to the lockdown. However, it is likely that the ashram got more food than the requirement. Thus a lot of it was wasted.” When we informed that the video is being shared with a communal narrative, he said, “This a leprosy ashram – people all faiths are welcome. However, as far as my knowledge only Hindu community residents here.”

Alt News also spoke with an inspector at Nauchandi police station who looked into this incident. He said, “After the video went viral the police visited the ashram. However, by then all the excess food lying was cleared up. Thus no case was registered.” The inspector confirmed, “There is no communal narrative to this incident.”

Despite the inconsistencies on why food was wasted in the ashram, the claim that Muslims are stocking up food supplies in this ashram was refuted by Meerut Police, Navneet Balaji (the person who recorded the video), Sachin, secretary at the Shri Vivekanand Kusht Ashram and Rajan Tripathi, regional editor Amar Ujala, also have the same statement.


Trump u-turns reporter’s question about Ramadan social distancing


APRIL 21, 2020

(JTA) — President Donald Trump turned a reporter’s question about whether authorities will enforce social distancing orders for mosques during Ramadan into a screed against liberal Democratic lawmakers visa vis Israel.

The reporter during Trump’s Saturday night news conference read a post on Twitter that Trump had retweeted which said: “Let’s see if authorities enforce the social-distancing orders for mosques during Ramadan (April 23-May 23) like they did churches during Easter.”

“I would like to see that,” Trump responded, but then began a rant against the Democratic lawmakers, specifically Minnesota Rep. Ilhan Omar and New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio Cortez, who have been critical of Israel, though Israel and Jewish holidays had not been mentioned in the question.

He said in his response: “You know I just spoke with leaders and people that love mosques. They love mosques! And I’m all in favor of that. But I would say that there could be a difference. And we’ll have to see what will happen. Because I have seen a great disparity in this country. I’ve seen a great disparity. I mean I’ve seen a very strong anti-Israel bent in Congress with Democrats. It was unthinkable seven or eight or 10 years ago, and now they’re into a whole different thing. Between Omar and AOC — I say AOC plus three, add them on. You have, the things that they say about Israel are so bad. And I can’t believe it. Just a minute. So I would be interested to see that. Because they go after Christian churches but they don’t tend to go after mosques. And I don’t want them to go after mosques! But I do want to see what their bent is.”

Trump added in response to a follow-up question that he does not believe Muslim imams will flout social distancing rules and that “the Christian faith is treated much differently than it was (by politicians), and I think it’s treated very unfairly.”


Itikaf, The Ritual of Staying in A Mosque Solely for The Purpose of Worship and Meditation, Suspended at Two Holy Mosques

April 21, 2020

MAKKAH — Itikaf (the ritual of staying in a mosque solely for the purpose of worship and meditation) at the Grand Mosque in Makkah and the Prophet’s Mosque In Madinah during the upcoming month of Ramadan has been suspended.

This was announced by the General Presidency for the Affairs of the Two Holy Mosques on its Twitter account on Monday. The move, it said, has come as part of precautionary measures to prevent the spread of coronavirus.

Sheikh Abdul Rahman Al-Sudais, head of the presidency, also confirmed the suspension of the five daily obligatory prayers, taraweeh special prayers, and iftar meal during the holy fasting month to safeguard the health of worshipers and visitors.

He said that the five daily prayers and taraweeh prayers at the Two Holy Mosques will be performed only by the presidency officials and sterilization workers during the blessed month.

Taraweeh prayers will be shortened to 10 rakats, Sheikh Al-Sudais said adding that the qunut prayer will be brief and focused on praying to God to end the epidemic.

He pointed out that the presidency has drawn up many plans to deal with the coronavirus pandemic, and that focus will be mainly on precaution and around-the-clock sterilization, in addition to activating around 10 thermal cameras in the Two Holy Mosques.More than 100,000 worshipers used to perform itikaf in the Two Holy Mosques in the last 10 days of Ramadan.

Authorities suspended all congregational prayers inside mosques last month across the Kingdom as part of efforts to stop the spread of the coronavirus. During this time, the only prayers permitted to continue outside the home have been at the Two Holy Mosques.

Earlier this week, the Council of Senior Scholars urged Muslims cross the globeto pray inside their homes during Ramadan if they reside in countries that have imposed coronavirus restrictions such as curfews and lockdowns.

The decision to suspend prayers at mosques came after a meeting between the Council of Senior Scholars and the Minister of Health.“This is considered a religious duty dictated by the Islamic Shariah and its general and specific rules. Everybody knows that this pandemic requires taking every measure of precaution including preventing any form of gathering with no exception,” Mohammed Al-Issa, secretary general of the Makkah-based Muslim World League, said at the time.


Celebrate Ramadan digitally, British Muslims are urged amid fears of a spike of cases if families gather to break their fast during the holy month

21 April 2020

British Muslims are being told to 'pray at home' and share a 'digital Ramadan' during the holy month this year, as the coronavirus pandemic forces lockdown to continue.

Guidance from the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB) published ahead of the holy month, which begins on Thursday, states that Ramadan 'will be a very different experience for Muslims' this year.

The group urged followers of the religion to 'adapt to changing circumstances during the Covid-19 pandemic', which will mean breaking fasts by sharing a meal digitally rather than in a large congregation.

It notes it is unlikely there will be 'congregational acts of worship for Muslims outside of the home' as mosques remain closed.

Those celebrating are instructed to follow the Government's social distancing rules by sharing meals such as the evening ending fasting (Iftar), usually a communal gathering, with family over FaceTime rather than in person.

People have also been advised to be mindful in their shopping habits, planning meals in advance to limit the number of trips, and avoiding stocking up to 'allow for everyone to acquire that they need'.

He added: 'It is important to use this time to reconsider, to reflect on the way we live our lives and the way we relate to our Creator, our communities and those in need.'

The MCB's guidance follows the Mosque and Imams National Advisory Board (Minab) saying it is 'going to be extremely painful and emotionally challenging' to keep mosques closed during the holy month.

However, the Minab reiterated that doors will remain locked as they 'have a religious and moral obligation to protect life and follow the medical advice to stay at home, protect the NHS and save lives'.


Ulema and Mashaikh of Different Schools of Thought Back PM’s Stance on Lockdown

April 21, 2020

Syed Irfan Raza

ISLAMABAD: While expressing satisfaction over the government’s approach towards lockdown, Ulema and Mashaikh of different schools of thought assured Prime Minister Imran Khan on Monday they would fully implement the agreed guidelines on congregational prayers during Ramazan in letter and spirit.

They gave the assurance to the government at a meeting chaired by Prime Minister Imran Khan. Ulema of different sects attended the meeting, which was held at PM Office, while some joined it through video link.

The Ulema told the prime minister that a distance of three feet between worshippers would be maintained during collective prayers and Taraweeh at mosques. Earlier during a consultative meeting between religious scholars and President ArifAlvi, a 20-point plan was approved for preventive measures against coronavirus during prayers in Ramazan that bound mosque committees to form congregational rows by maintaining a distance of six feet between worshippers.

A source privy to the meeting at the PM Office told Dawn that Ulema thanked the prime minister for adopting a balanced approach for lockdown by allowing some businesses to run and giving some relief to mosques to hold congregational prayers, especially during Ramazan.

Mr Khan accepted a suggestion for a relief package for khateebs and muezzins at mosques, besides deferring utility bills of mosques and Imambargahs, the PM’s aide on information Dr Firdous Ashiq Awan later told the media. She said the prime minister also assured the Ulema that the state-run Pakistan Television (PTV) would also conduct classes for the students of seminaries.

At the meeting, she added, it was agreed that the coming Friday would be observed as “Yaum-i-Tauba and Yaum-i-Rehmat” so that the nation sought forgiveness and blessing of the Almighty to save the humanity from the deadly coronavirus.

The meeting was attended by PirAminulHasanat Shah, Pir Shams-ul-Amin, PirNaqib-ur-Rehman, Maulana Mohammad Hanif Jalandhari, Maulana Tahir Mahmood Ashrafi, Maulana HamidulHaq Haqqani, Hafiz Ghulam Mohammad Sialvi, Allama Raja Nasir Abbas, Sahibzada Pir Sultan Fayyaz Hussain, Mufti Maulana Syed Charagh Din Shah and Maulana Ziaullah Shah.

Sindh Governor Imran Ismail, Mufti Munib-ur-Rehman, AllamaShehenshah Hussain Naqvi and Mufti TaqiUsmani also attended the meeting through a video link.

Minister for Religious Affairs NoorulHaqQadri, Minister for Federal Education Shafqat Mahmood, Special Assistant to PM on Information Dr Firdous Ashiq Awan and Council of Islamic Ideology Chairman Dr Qibla Ayaz were also present.

Later, PM Khan, while chairing another meeting to review the Covid-19 situation, said: “Ulema themselves have taken responsibility of implementation of the guidelines.”

According to the 20-point agreement, there will be no carpets in mosques and Imambargahs. People will be encouraged to bring their own prayer mats; social distancing will be observed; people will be advised to refrain from discussions in mosques; mosques which have compounds will hold prayers outside rather than inside the building; elderly and sick people will not come to mosques; Taraweeh arrangements will be made only on mosque premises, not on roads; people will be encouraged to offer Taraweeh at home; mosque floors will be washed with chlorine disinfectants; prayer mats will also be disinfected with chlorine mixture; congregational rows will be formed with a six-foot distance between worshippers; committees will be formed to ensure preventive steps are followed; ablution should be performed at home; mandatory wearing masks at mosques; no handshakes or hugs will be allowed; worshippers will refrain from touching their faces; people will be encouraged to perform Aitekaf [prayers in isolation] at home; no preparations for sehri and iftar will be made in mosques; mosque administration will remain in contact with local police and cooperate with them; mosque administration and police will be asked to ensure social distancing is maintained during prayers and the government can review and change any part of its policy on mosques during Ramazan if these measures are not followed or the rise in Covid-19 cases is exponential.


New Coronavirus Regulations for The First 10 Days of The Holy Month for Areas with Muslim Majority in East Jerusalem

APRIL 20, 2020


New coronavirus regulations were rolled out for areas of Israel with a majority of Muslim residents as well as east Jerusalem for the duration of Ramadan.

The regulations, were rolled out after a discussion held between Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan, the Police, the IDF, the Shin Bet and the National Security Council.

From 7 p.m. until 3 a.m. every day, all businesses in towns with a Muslim-majority population and in East Jerusalem will be shut, except for pharmacies and critical industries. All crowds contravening Health Ministry guidelines will be dispersed.

The current restrictions, which will be enforced by an additional 3,000 police officers, will be in place for the first 10 days of the holy month before being reassessed.


Waqf Board of Sri Lanka: No Prayers in Mosques or Distribution of Food During Ramadan

April 21, 2020

The Waqf Board of Sri Lanka under which all mosques in the country are registered with, has extended the directions which have prevailed in the country thus far including the closure of mosques and prohibition of the distribution of food such as porridge, particularly during the month of Ramadan.

In a communique signed by A.B.M Ashraff, the Director of the Muslim Mosques and Charitable Trusts or Waqfs while wishing Muslims for Ramadan which is due to begin this week, said that the notice given by the board on March 15th will continue.

Accordingly, the trustees of all mosques have been strictly directed not to open the mosque for the public but only for the Imam who will sound the call of the prayer. There will not be any congregational prayers including the five times prayers as well as Jummah and Tharaweeh prayers.

In addition to this, they have also urged not to host congregational activity such as Iftar programs within the mosque and lastly to not prepare or distribute porridge (Kanji) in the masjid or its premises, which is a customary practice in Sri Lanka.

The trustees have been requested to notify the Jamaath of these guidelines as well as to educate and encourage people to adhere to these instructions as well as the guidelines given by the health and defense authorities in the country in relation to combating the COVID-19 pandemic.


Coronavirus fears prompt Indonesia to ban mass travel of Muslims at end of Ramadan

21 Apr, 2020

Indonesia has banned an annual ritual of citizens travelling in large numbers to their hometowns and villages ahead of the Muslim festival of Eid al-Fitr to prevent the spread of coronavirus in the world’s largest Muslim-majority country.

President Joko Widodo, who announced the ban at a cabinet meeting in Jakarta on Tuesday, said the prohibition was based on an assessment that about 24 per cent of people who usually undertake the holiday travel were planning trips irrespective of the virus outbreak. The government has begun distribution of food kits and rolled out other social assistance programmes this week to help the jobless and poor in cities, he said.

“I would like to announce that mass travel will be banned entirely,” Widodo said during a cabinet meeting. “Therefore I’m asking that details of the measure to be prepared.”

Infections in Indonesia have quadrupled this month alone with officials saying the pandemic may peak only toward end of May in a country of 270 million people. The virus has infected nearly 7,000 people and claimed almost 600 lives, the third-highest fatalities in Asia after China and India, even with the enforcement of some social distancing rules for more than a month.

The lack of progress in containing the virus in Indonesia is in contrast to phased easing of lockdown measures being contemplated by other major countries to minimise the economic shock from the pandemic. Widodo has rejected calls for a complete lockdown, citing the impact on jobs and businesses. But the president on Monday called for a review of the lenient social distancing rules and ordered an urgent expansion of testing and aggressive containment measures.

Health care experts had called for a ban on the exodus, known as mudik, as it could spread the virus to more areas from the Greater Jakarta region, the nation’s epicentre of the outbreak. Roughly one out of every eight Indonesians head home ahead of Eid, the Muslim festival marking the end of Ramadan. An estimated 19.5 million people travelled to their hometowns from big cities like Jakarta during last year’s Eid, official data show.

Researchers at the University of Indonesia have warned the travel rush could lead to 1 million infections in the densely populated Java island alone and an eye-watering 200,000 deaths.

“If you care about your loved ones, stay where you are until all this ends,” Ridwan Kamil, governor of 50 million strong West Java province, said recently.

There has also been fierce debate in Malaysia about whether to allow popular Ramadan bazaars, where Muslims buy local delicacies before breaking their fasts.

Malaysia has imposed a nationwide coronavirus lockdown, and the government last week said that to ensure social distancing, they would only allow so-called “e-bazaars”, where people order goods online from local vendors which are then delivered to their homes.

Some signs suggest the order may not be respected – authorities in the northern state of Perlis have said they will allow food traders to operate from home and on the roadside, potentially increasing the chance of crowds gathering.

Hadi Azmi, a 31-year-old video editor, said he understood the need for restrictions but he also felt “trapped”.

“I feel weird as the fasting month approaches because we have to remain indoors and we cannot meet our parents and siblings to break fast and pray together,” he said.


COVID-19: Sultan of Sokoto warns against lectures, mosque gatherings during Ramadan

April 21, 2020

The Sultan of Sokoto and President General of the Jama’atuNasril Islam, Alhaji Sa’ad Abubakar lll, has warned Muslims against lectures and mosque gatherings during the coming Ramadan fast.

Alhaji Sa’ad Abubakar lll issued the warning through the Secretary General of the JNI, Dr Khalid Abubakar-Aliyu, in a statement in Kaduna on Monday, asking Muslim faithfuls to pray at home during the period.

He also advised Muslims against going for this year’s lesser Hajj in the Holy land because of the COVID-19 pandemic which has spread across the globe and has claimed many lives thus far.

The statement by the Sultan of Sokoto reads thus in detail; “It should be made known that all Salawatun-nawafil (optional and non-obligatory prayers), including Taraweeh, are originally preferred to be observed at home, even though it is Mustahabb (desirable) to observe it in congregation.

“To sum it up, there will not be the annual Tafsir sessions and no congregational Taraweeh in mosques until when situation permits. We should therefore pray with our families at home and stay safe.

“This is a Ramadan with a difference as most people will be under lockdown. Hence, they will certainly be in dire need of assistance because of the economic realities and the attendant suffocating inflationary trends.”

He added, “Our spirit of generosity should be fully activated in higher proportion so as to ameliorate the sufferings of the poor in our midst by providing them with food and other necessities.

“Despite the challenges of physical and social distancing, Tafsir and other religious teachings could continue using various information technology platforms, such as Facebook, Skype, YouTube, Zoom, etc., to live stream preaching sessions. Reliable information and communication technology professionals could be consulted for proper guidance,” the statement added.



False: Muslim Gujjars not barred from selling milk in district Una

By Vikash Aiyappa

April 21, 2020

New Delhi, Apr 21: There have been reports that that the Muslim Gujjars of Hoshiarpur denied entry into HP to supply milk. This has created unwanted tension in the area. Sponsored Dallas Cowboys… Mansion… Sponsored Everyone In… The District Magistrate of UNA District, HP has clarified that there is no restriction on the supply of milk by milkmen from Punjab into the jurisdiction of district Und. There is curfew imposed in the district Una and relaxation to the general public for sale and purchase is granted from 7 am to 10 am daily. Also there is no restriction on use of private vehicles for supply of essential goods without valid passes. Milkmen entering the borders of district Und from Punjab for selling milk using their private vehicles should get passes for the inter-state movement of their vehicles from the authorises officer in Punjab. There was a similar kind of issue when SDM Nangal (Punjab) stopped the lifting of milk from Haroli sub-division of this district. However this matter was resolved by issuing passes to the daily commuting milkman, the DM, Sandeep Kumar also said.


Andhra Pradesh CM YS Jaganmohan Reddy talks to Muslim leaders before Ramzan

20 April 2020

By Lokesh Paila

Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister YS Jagan Mohan Reddy held a conference with Muslim religious leaders on Monday in view of the month of Ramzan falling during the coronavirus outbreak crisis in the country and state. Reddy urged the religious leaders to tell Muslims to hold prayers from home instead of congregating in mosques. The religious leaders accepted the proposal and agreed to pray from homes during the month of Ramzan.

Reddy is taking all precautions to stop the further spread of coronavirus in the state, which seems to be taking a turn for the serious. He held video conferencing with District Collectors and Muslim religious leaders on the measures being taken to fight COVID-19. The Chief Minister thanked the religious leaders for accepting his request to send a message to the faithful to pray from their own homes.

He said assured allowance for all places of worship, including mosques, churches and temples, would be paid. During the video conference, he instructed officials to implement strict lockdown across the state and maintain social distancing in order to control the spread in all 13 districts.

The Chief Minister further stated that the government is going to provide incentives to all the listed and recognized mosques across the State. In addition to this, Rs 5000 will be provided to the unlisted mosques, churches, and temples. The state government is very much committed to public welfare and thus providing financial assistance to all the eligible members in this severe pandemic situation. Each family was given Rs 1000 and the ration is also being provided thrice in a month. All the pending dues of fee reimbursements which were about Rs 1800 Crore will also be cleared, he said.

The Chief Minister said the government will provide incentives to listed and recognised mosques across the state. In addition to this, Rs 5000 will be provided to the unlisted mosques, churches, and temples. All pending dues of college fee reimbursements for SC/ST, OBC and other economically backward students, about Rs 1,800 crore, will also be cleared, he said.

Reddy said the government is going to help everyone, irrespective of caste, creed, religion. Instead of yearly gifts as given during festivals, he proposed monthly gifts to the poor and needy and he also revealed that due to the lockdown, the state has lost all income.


North America 

Gift drive for the children of Muslim inmates seeks to serve the ‘hidden ummah’

April 20, 2020

Aysha Khan

(RNS) — With prison systems nationally shutting down outside visitation due to the pandemic, one Muslim chaplain is working to help close the gap between incarcerated Muslims and their families.

Founded by former prison chaplain Tricia Pethic, the Muslim Prisoner Project is donating gifts to the children of imprisoned Muslims for the Islamic holiday of Eid al-Fitr, which will mark the end of the holy month of Ramadan in late May.

Many state systems have suspended all visitation, as has the Federal Bureau of Prisons, to stave off the rapid spread of the coronavirus among prisoners confined in cramped quarters, sometimes with deficient healthcare and hygiene.

“Previously you could only see your mother or father once a week,” said Pethic, who formally incorporated the project as a nonprofit last year. “Now you can't see them at all until further notice. That’s why it’s so critical that we make sure these children know their parents are still thinking about them, especially as Ramadan is coming up.”

Last year, Pethic sent gifts to 24 children of inmates at five facilities in New York and New Jersey. This year, the initiative has raised about $17,000, after receiving endorsements from prominent U.S. Muslim figures, including Imam Zaid Shakir, Imam Suhaib Webb, Ingrid Mattson and Sheikh Faraz Rabbani.

Gifts are customized for each family. Among other items, they distribute Barbie dolls in the likeness of Muslim Olympian Ibtihaj Muhammad, Mark Gonzales’ children’s book “Yo Soy Muslim” and products from Muslim “edutainment” series Rafiq & Friends.

“Mass incarceration has a deep and lasting effect on the children of incarcerated people, which, in turn, has a detrimental impact on our communities,” Rafiq & Friends’ founders, husband-wife duo Justin and Fatemeh Mashouf, said in an email. “We feel that giving children a sense of community, identity and joy is a responsibility and opportunity for us to walk in the prophetic example.”

The Eid gift drive, now in its second year, was inspired by the Christian initiative Angel Tree, a family ministry program run by Prison Fellowship to deliver Christmas gifts to inmates’ families.

“Muslim inmates should not have to go to Angel Tree and other Christian organizations to get help,” Pethic said. “We really need to develop comparable services to inmates.”

Memphis-based imam Adrian Kirk, who also serves as a prison imam for the faith-based anti-recidivism group ANSAR 101, said Muslims’ attitudes toward incarceration are evolving but are often “uneducated.”

“Some of them will say things like, ‘If you did the crime, you do the time,’ with no consideration,” he said. “These are human beings. Some of them may have committed crimes, but that doesn’t take away the fact that they still have needs. Their children and families have needs, too.”

Groups like Believers Bail Out, Link Outside and the Tayba Foundation have emerged in recent years to serve incarcerated Muslims. But Kirk said he began volunteering with the Muslim Prisoners Project because of the “incredible uniqueness of the program” within Muslim communities.

“It’s so terribly needed that it shouldn’t be so unique,” Kirk said. “It’s just a no-brainer. It affects us, whether we know it or not. The trauma these kids and their parents face can really impact their character ... if they have a community checking in on them, steering them in the right direction, that can really change society.”

Because about 90% of incarcerated Muslims converted to Islam while behind bars, Pethic says she thinks of her work as an interfaith service.

“A lot of families taking care of these prisoners’ children are not Muslim,” Pethic said, noting that she calls each family to ask if they would be willing to accept the gift. “We recognize that not everybody who is receiving gifts and handing these gifts to the children belong to our faith. It’s an introduction, sometimes for the first time, to Islam for the family.”

Besides their annual gift distribution drive, which occurs before Eid al-Fitr and Eid al-Adha each year, the initiative’s main missions are to provide incarcerated Muslims and their chaplains with adequate religious literature — not just pamphlets and donated books with barely coherent English — as well as to serve as a resource for mosques in supporting local incarcerated Muslims.

When Pethic left her job at a women’s facility in New York, she decided to launch the organization to offer resources to Muslim chaplains and inmates, as well as mosques that found themselves unable to assist inmates and formerly incarcerated Muslims seeking assistance.

Pethic, who lives in Rochester, New York, studied Islamic chaplaincy at Hartford Seminary. As she looked at her specialization options — which included serving in a hospital, university, military or prison — she chose her path on a whim.

But as Pethic began working in detention facilities in Danbury, Connecticut, and Albion, New York, she quickly recognized the critical importance of the job due to the lack of Muslim chaplains and resources to support Muslim inmates.

“Not a lot of Muslims are really thinking about the fact that there’s this whole ‘hidden ummah’ (Muslim community) that we don't see because they're not in our prayer ranks,” Pethic said. “But every single day, they get up and they imagine themselves one day being in our prayer ranks. I think if they knew about the sort of unrequited love and desire that's there, they would just rush into it.”

A report by the civil rights group Muslim Advocates last year found that about 9% of the state prison population identifies as Muslim. Previous data shows that Muslims make up about 12% of federal inmates, while Muslims make up just 1% of the American population.

Yet those incarcerated Muslims often face serious challenges in receiving religious accommodations, Pethic said. The Muslim Advocates report, which examined 163 Muslim prisoner lawsuits in a 15-month period, found that states' prison system policies on accommodations are wildly inconsistent. One Muslim prisoner files a federal lawsuit alleging insufficient religious accommodations every three days. Most revolve around access to religious diets, often during Ramadan, or obstacles to prayer and worship.

A thank you letter sent from an inmate whose family received gifts from the Muslim Prisoner Project. Image courtesy of Muslim Prisoner Project

Last week, 20 faith groups led by Muslim Advocates sent a letter to prison administrators urging them to accommodate prisoners’ religious needs during the outbreak, particularly as Ramadan nears.

“We remain deeply concerned that prisons will use this crisis as an excuse to deny basic religious accommodations to prisoners in their care," the groups wrote.

But a lack of Muslim chaplains, who serve as advocates for Muslim inmates in addition to providing spiritual guidance and leadership, only enables such challenges, Pethic said. In 2009, there were only eight board-certified Muslim chaplains in the entire U.S., according to the Association of Professional Chaplains.

“It shouldn't be the case that a prison administrator is scouring to try to find a volunteer from the Muslim community,” Pethic said. “We should be willing to fill that role.”


Trump says he’ll ‘suspend immigration’ into the US



U.S. President Donald Trump on Monday night said that he was suspending immigration into the U.S. because of the coronavirus pandemic.

“In light of the attack from the Invisible Enemy, as well as the need to protect the jobs of our GREAT American Citizens, I will be signing an Executive Order to temporarily suspend immigration into the United States!“ Trump posted on Twitter.

The announcement stood in contrast to Trump's recent messages of cautious optimism about the country soon reemerging from weeks of lockdowns designed to contain the virus. The president has repeatedly tried to downplay the severity of the outbreak since its arrival in the country, and his push to reopen the economy has put him at odds with some of the nation‘s governors and, at times, his top health experts.

Trump did not hint at making any drastic immigration moves during his lengthy daily coronavirus news briefing earlier Monday evening. Immigration has largely taken a back seat during the pandemic as the president hopes to salvage a strong economy that had become one of his major campaign points in the lead-up to the November election.

Trump has previously boasted that closing the borders to foreigners traveling from China demonstrated his administration‘s serious and early response to the threat from the coronavirus. International travel has come to a virtual standstill as countries across the globe have imposed travel restrictions to prevent the spread of the disease.

Trump’s tweet did not make clear what specific action he would take: He could simply suspend entries for a period of time, or cancel a specific program altogether for the year.

The Department of Homeland Security is still drafting the executive order, according to three people familiar with the situation. One possibility that has been discussed is an exemption for temporary guest workers, including those who work on farms.

When asked what promoted the decision, a top DHS official responded: “22 million unemployed Americans and counting due to Covid-19.”

Since the pandemic began, the administration had already restricted foreign visitors from China, Europe, Canada and Mexico, and had paused processing for immigrants trying to come into the U.S. on non-worker visas because of office closures. That means the impact would probably address only immigrants coming here to work.

Trump has faced calls from conservatives to stop allowing foreign workers to enter the U.S. because millions of Americans are out of work after shutdowns to stop the spread of the virus. But for weeks, his administration allowed them to enter.

Specifically, the U.S. eased requirements for immigrants to get certain jobs, such as farmworkers, landscapers and crab pickers, aware that certain industries, including those that fill grocery store shelves, could be hurt if they couldn’t hire foreign employees. It has also begun easing the process for companies looking to hire foreign workers, altering some paperwork requirements, including allowing electronic signatures and waiving the physical inspection of documents.

In early April, the administration backtracked on a plan to pause the approval of 35,000 more seasonal worker visas, pending further review.

Former Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who is running for a Senate seat in Alabama, pushed for a complete moratorium on immigration to the U.S. on Tucker Carlson’s show on Fox News last week.

Carlson has been in close contact with Trump during the course of this virus and was one of the primary outside allies pushing him to do the China travel ban back in early January.

Trump’s decision will anger the business community, including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which has argued that foreign workers are critical to companies that might be unable to find enough unemployed Americans willing to take certain jobs.

The move could contradict Trump’s previous statements. He has repeatedly touted the importance of agricultural visas in recent weeks.

“We want them to come in,” he said in early April. “We're not closing the border so that we can’t get any of those people to come in. They've been there for years and years, and I've given the commitment to the farmers: They're going to continue to come. Or we‘re not going to have any farmers."

Despite Trump’s campaign vow to reduce immigration, the number of immigrants with temporary visas has steadily increased during his presidency, reaching 925,000 in 2018, according to the Migration Policy Institute.

While there is no cap for the total number of temporary workers, there are annual limits on several of the dozen-plus visa categories. More than 1 million immigrants are allowed into the United States each year on a permanent basis, but only a fraction — 140,000 — come through employment categories.

Democratic Representative Joaquin Castro, chairman of the House Hispanic Caucus and vice chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, condemned Trump’s remarks as a mere diversion from the criticism the president has been receiving for his response to the virus.

“This action is not only an attempt to divert attention away from Trump’s failure to stop the spread of the coronavirus and save lives, but an authoritarian-like move to take advantage of a crisis and advance his anti-immigrant agenda,“ Castro tweeted Monday night. “We must come together to reject his division."

Democratic Representative Jerry Nadler, chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, echoed Castro's thoughts, tweeting: “President Trump now seeks to distract us from his fumbled COVID-19 response by trying to put the blame on immigrants. The truth is many immigrants are on our front lines, protecting us as doctors, nurses, health aids, farmworkers, and restaurant workers.“

But RJ Hauman, government relations director at the Federation for American Immigration Reform, which favors immigration restrictions, said: “Putting the brakes on immigrant admissions at the height of a health crisis and mass unemployment is the right call and shouldn’t be controversial. However, one question remains — are there any caveats like guest workers being excluded from the order?


Social gatherings and congregational prayers cancelled during Ramadan

April 21, 2020

This week is usually when kids in the Muslim community get excited about an annual trip to see the full moon that marks the start of Ramadan, says Cindy Jadayel, a member of the Mosque of Mercy in Ottawa.

But she says it’ll be one of many community events that will be cancelled during Ramadan this year.

The month of Ramadan — in which Muslims go without food or drink from sunrise to sunset every day — often features gatherings where families and friends break fast and pray together. It’s set to start on Thursday based on the Islamic lunar calendar, and will last until May 23.

The moon sighting trip follows an early tradition where religious leaders would declare the start of the new month when a full moon was spotted.

“There’s times when you drive out and you see something, that it’s a new month,” she said, adding that there’s always a sense of suspense because it can often be too cloudy to clearly see the moon.

Those events, as well as nightly congregational prayers and community events at the mosque, will be cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Sallah Hamdani, a former president of the Islamic Society of St. Catharines, Ont., says Muslims will try and look on the bright side of the time alone this year.

“You might not have to focus on hosting a dinner,” said Hamdani, pointing out that it can be stressful for families to put together elaborate dinners at home while already dealing with a difficult fast.

“Instead you can enjoy that dinner or breaking the fast with your immediate family and creating a new custom that you probably had not implemented previously.”

Muslim communities across Canada have already seen sweeping changes as physical distancing rules came into affect last month.

Daily prayers and weekly sermons have been cancelled, as well as Arabic classes, day camps and Qur’an readings that are often hosted by mosques.

“It was a shock, but since then we have almost all of our programs online,” said Jadayel, who said they have hundreds of students studying online in various classes, as well as an online pre-recorded sermon that is posted every week.

In St. Catharines, Hamdani says one of the hardest events during physical distancing this year will be Eid al-Fitr, a multi-day holiday that celebrates the end of Ramadan.

“Not being able to get together for Eid will have a larger impact on the community than any other thing,” said Hamdani.

“Whether you are a practising Muslim or not, Eid is a day of joy and a day of getting together and remembering your family.”

Jadayel also pointed out that some mosques may see a drop in donations because up to half of all donations come during Ramadan.

Nonetheless, the Mosque of Mercy is still trying to provide for the community during Ramadan, and is offering packages of non-perishable food to seniors and people with compromised immune systems — for Muslims and non-Muslims alike.


Arab world 

Coronavirus: ban on public prayer at Saudi Arabia's Grand Mosque extended through Ramadan

April 21, 2020

Saudi authorities said on Tuesday a ban on public attendance of prayers at the Grand Mosque in Makkah would remain in place throughout Ramadan.

“The suspension of worshippers attending prayers will continue in Ramadan,” the official news agency said, quoting Abdulahman Al Sudeis, the religious official responsible for the complex.

The agency said 3,500 workers have been washing the complex “six times a day” but the decision to keep the ban was made “to preserve the health” of worshippers and in accordance with public health measures.

A technician hangs N95 face masks to be sterilized with UVC light, amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, at the Cleveland Clinic hospital in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. REUTERS

The highest religious authority in the kingdom this week called on Muslims to “set an example” by observing the coronavirus containment measures set by temporal authorities worldwide.

The Senior Ulama Council repeated a call by the mufti, Sheikh Abdulaziz Al Al Sheikh, on Muslims to perform Ramadan rituals at home.

The scholars said Muslims everywhere, whether citizens or residents in any country, must set “an example” in “exercising ultimate care” by obeying the safety protocol.

“Muslims should be an example to be emulated [and] worship while adhering to the precautionary and pre-emptive measures,” they said.

Saudi Arabia’s confirmed cases of Covid-19 passed 10,000 on Monday, when the health ministry announced another 1,122 infections of the novel coronavirus.

Official daily cases have increased by more than 1,000 since Friday, despite the issuance of strict guidelines to control the spread of infection.


UAE's first 'fatwa-approved' loto crowns inaugural winners

April 21, 2020

Dubai: Emirates Loto, the “fatwa-approved” digital “collectable scheme” with optional free entry to a weekly draw, has announced its first-ever winners with 43 players collecting a cash prize.

One extra winner matched five out of six numbers in the live results draw and walked away with Dh350,000. A number of other players matched three out of six, with 1,204 getting a free play for the next draw.

The Emirates Loto winning jackpot numbers were 13, 20, 30, 44, 46, and 49. As there was no winner for the Dh35 million jackpot, the winnings will be increased to Dh40 million for next weekend’s draw.

Paul Sebestyen, CEO of Emirates Loto, said: “It’s great news for the collectable buyer who matched five numbers out of six and won Dh350,000. During difficult times such as these, we are happy to be able to make a change to someone’s life from our first ever draw.”

Regionally-renowned Lebanese presenter and TV personality Wissam Breidy and Indian model, presenter and entrepreneur Aishwarya Ajit announced the results live to viewers across the globe online via the Emirates Loto website and social media platforms.

Entrants can buy an Emirates Loto collectable and choose to opt-in to the draw by selecting six numbers from 1 to 49. Players can register from home via the Emirates Loto website,, or mobile app. As the next draw will be held during Ramadan, it will air at 10pm instead of 7:30pm throughout Ramadan.


Can mild or asymptomatic coronavirus patients fast during Ramadan?

April 21, 2020

Samihah Zaman

Abu Dhabi: Patients who have contracted the coronavirus but are asymptomatic may fast during Ramadan as long as they keep an eye on their health, doctors have advised.

These residents, who will be advised to self-isolate within their homes, must also report any changes or symptoms to doctors, they added.

With Ramadan set to start on Thursday, residents have been wondering about Islamic rulings regarding the permissibility of fasting during a pandemic. The UAE Fatwa Council yesterday announced that healthy residents must fast as usual, but that patients diagnosed with COVID-19 need not fast.

However, Muslims around the world look forward to the Holy Month, and consider it an essential duty and privilege to complete the dawn-to-dusk fasting.

“Patients who have moderate or severe symptoms are treated in isolation within hospital settings, and these patients will naturally not be able to observe the Ramadan fasting. On the other hand, the majority of asymptomatic patients or those with mild symptoms will be able to stay home and tend to themselves,” Dr Faisal Dalfi, internal medicine specialist at Burjeel Hospital Abu Dhabi, told Gulf News.

“Given that this virus is very new, the impact of fasting on COVID-19 patients has not been researched. [But] asymptomatic patients who feel healthy and fit should be able to fast in Ramadan. Again, they must be self-aware and any development of symptoms or change in condition must be discussed with a doctor,” added Dr Fernanda Bonilla, staff physician for infectious diseases at the Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi.

This year, fasting will extend for about 14 hours, starting from around 4:30AM till a little before 7PM. IN general, patients on medication must ensure to take all their doses between iftar – the meal eaten when ending the fast – and suhoor, the meal before starting the fast. This applies to COVID-19 patients as well.

“In accordance with UAE national health guidelines, we now prescribe hydroxychloroquine even for mild and asymptomatic patients. So if these people choose to fast, they must simply make sure they take their pills twice daily for a six-day course of treatment, as advised,” Dr Dalfi said.

“Hydroxychloroquine has however been shown to lead to a drop in blood sugar, so diabetics who contract COVID-19 but are asymptomatic must be especially careful if they choose to fast. This also applies to people with kidney disease and hypertension,” Dr Dalfi said.

Dr Rasha Alani, family medicine specialist at Medcare Medical Centre at Al Khawaneej, added that patients who choose to fast despite a COVID-19 diagnosis should be clear about their overall disease management plan.

Needless to say, patients must follow healthy lifestyles that strengthen their immunity, especially as human immunity is the main weapon against COVID-19 in the absence of vaccines and internationally-agreed upon treatment protocols.

“[This includes] proper nutrition, with plenty of green leafy vegetables, unprocessed foods and sufficient water intake during non-fasting hours so that their immune system is operating at an optimum level during Ramadan,” Dr Bonilla said.

“We always advise proper hydration to recover even from a simple flu as water helps flush out toxins and helps organs function. But in addition to drinking enough water, patients should avoid fizzy and sugary drinks. In Ramadan, many families like to include traditional drinks like Vimto in their iftar, but these are loaded with sugar and therefore do not help with hydration,” he explained.

Dr Alani said the lack of proper sleep is one of the major reasons for illness during the Holy Month, as people tend to socialise into the early hours of the morning.

“Given the need for social distancing, COVID-19 patients who fast should at least be able to ensure that this is not a problem,” she said.

Sleep is known to boost immunity by allowing for the release of protective signalling proteins called cytokines, which help target infections and control inflammation in the body. When the body is fighting an infection, enough cytokines, which are secreted by cells of the immune system, must be present. Studies have gone on to show that people who do not get enough quality sleep are more likely to get sick after being exposed to a virus.

“I would advise that mild and asymptomatic COVID-19 patients ensure they get at least seven hours of good sleep every day. Sleep is a restorative process, which is especially important when the body is fighting a virus,” Dr Dalfi said.

Dr Bonilla also advised that residents prioritise their Ramadan sleep at a time when the world if fighting a deadly virus outbreak.

“Adults should aim for at least seven to eight hours of good sleep each night, whereas teenagers need nine to 10 hours of sleep and schoolchildren require 10 hours or more every night,” she recommended.

Whole Ramadan has always been presented as a time to give up unhealthy practices, residents with mild or asymptomatic COVID-19 should use the opportunity to give up smoking.

“There is growing evidence to suggest that people who smoke are more likely to be severely impacted by COVID-19. Ramadan is an ideal time to break the habit. People will be able to see a noticeable improvement in their health within a few days to some weeks after quitting, thus reducing their risk of developing severe symptoms from the infection,” Dr Bonilla said.


Coronavirus: Oman bans Ramadan mass gatherings, extends Muscat lockdown until May 8

21 April 2020

Tommy Hilton

Oman has banned mass gatherings for the Islamic holy month of Ramadan and extended the current lockdown in its capital Muscat until May 8 as coronavirus cases in the country continue to rise, the country’s Supreme Committee for dealing with COVID-19 announced on Tuesday.

Oman put its capital into a lockdown on April 10 in a move aimed at slowing the spread of the novel coronavirus in the sultanate. The number of cases has since continued to rise, with 1,410 cases as of Monday.

The country would be “extending the lockdown of Muscat governorate through its controls and checkpoints until 10 a.m. on Friday, May 8, 2020,” announced the country’s committee.

The committee also added that no mass gatherings would be allowed for Ramadan, following similar announcements in neighboring Gulf states.

“The committee stresses the importance of avoiding all gatherings during the Holy Month of Ramadan,” said the committee in a statement.

“[The committee] affirms that the closure of mosques – even for Tarawih prayers – will continue, except for the call to prayer (Azaan),” it added.

“Ramadan gatherings, such as iftar in mosques, tents or public majlises and social, cultural, sports and other group activities are strictly prohibited.”

Following calls from Saudi religious scholars for people to pray inside under lockdown, the Presidency of the Two Holy Mosques’ Affairs announced all prayers to the public inside the Grand Mosque in Mecca and the Prophet's Mosque in Medina will also be suspended during Ramadan.

Likewise, the UAE has also banned communal prayers. Dubai’s Islamic Affairs and Charitable Activities Department said on Saturday that Muslims can perform Taraweeh prayers at home during the holy month of Ramadan amid the coronavirus pandemic.

On Tuesday morning, Oman announced a further death from coronavirus. The death of a 53-year-old resident brings the total to eight, according to the health ministry.


Katara to launch Ramadan competitions and exhibitions via social media

21 Apr 2020

The Cultural Village Foundation Katara has announced it is preparing to launch online competitions and virtual exhibitions via social media during the holy month of Ramadan.

The online competitions will cover religious, cultural and heritage aspects while the virtual exhibitions will feature a group of fine-art artists, Katara said yesterday.

These online events come within the activities of Katara during the holy month of Ramadan and in the framework of the precautionary and preventive measures taken by Katara in the fight against the coronavirus.

Catered to various social and age groups, the competitions include memorizing the Holy Qur’an and prophetic sayings, in addition to competitions related to culture, heritage, short story and media.

They include the Quran competition of “Juz’u Amma” for Children from 6 to 13 years old which includes memorizing and reciting, as well as the “Katara Prophetic Hadiths” competition for girls and boys from 10 and 18, in which the participants are required to memorize the book of Al-Nawawi’s Forty Hadith.

Katara will also launch competitions in culture, heritage, and media, such as The Katara Fluent Media Anchor on TV and radio for girls and boys from the age of 12 to 22 years. Participants are required to read a text provided by Katara, and send the audio or video recording on WhatsApp, with the information of the participant and a copy of his ID. Top three winners will be sele

cted from each of these competitions to receive QR13000; QR10,000 and QR8,000 respectively.

Another competition is the Qatari Heritage contest in which Katara will post a daily question on Katara’s social media platforms related to old Qatari words, in addition to the short story competition inspired by the life of the Prophet Mohamed (peace be upon him).

The story should be for children, and the number of the words must be between 100 and 120 words. The Katara Galleries competition includes a daily question about one of the previous Katara exhibitions.

Qatar TV will broadcast during Ramadan the second part of the animated series “Tamor& Tamora” produced by Katara, and which won the award at the 20th session of the Arab Radio and Television Festival held in the Tunisian capital in June last year in the children’s programs category.

This animation series aims to spread awareness among children, in addition to connect the current generation with the inherited Qatari culture and heritage. The animated series is also the first artwork of Katara Publishing House, supervised by Khalid Abdul Rahim Sayed.

Katara is also preparing to launch virtual exhibitions of fine-art artists such as “Al Tayebeen” by Qatari artist Ali Dasmal Al-Kuwari, “Patches” by Syrian artist HadiQasous, “A Mirage You Cannot Reach” by Masoud Al Balushi, and “The Result” by Qatari artist Fatima Al-Naimi.

Registration for the The Quran competition for kids “Juz’u Amma”, the “Katara Prophetic Hadith” Competition, the Short Story Competition and The Katara Fluent Media Anchor competition will be from 1 Ramadan to 10 Ramadan, and communication with the participants will be by phone or Zoom program.


Time Hotels offers iftar deliveries during Ramadan

2 hours, 25 minutes ago

UAE-based hospitality company Time Hotels is set to launch an exclusive Iftar menu which focuses on locally sourced and fresh produce and will be available for home delivery, daily during the holy month of Ramadan.

Taking inspiration from traditional Arabian cuisine, break your fast with a four-course menu for just Dh65 ($17.6) per person, which includes a variety of authentic hot and cold mezzeh, salads, soup, a choice from two aromatic main courses and a traditional Arabic dessert as well as one Ramadan juice, soft drink and dates.

Dishes on the exclusive menu are based on lamb, chicken, seafood and vegetarian dishes as well as pizzas freshly baked in the Pranzo restaurant kitchen’s stone oven.

Signature main course highlights include traditional Arabic dish seafood majbous rice; vermicelli rice served with white lamb beans; lamb biryani served with dhal makni; saffron rice served with shrimps and seafood marinara and mixed seafood grill with mashed potato. Meanwhile, traditional Arabic desserts include Umm Ali and Kunafa.

Mohamed Awadalla, CEO, Time Hotels, said: “Unfortunately, this year we are unable to carry out our traditional Ramadan celebrations which normally include a range of authentic Iftars and Suhoors due to the social distancing measures which have been implemented across the UAE, in an attempt to limit the spread of Covid-19.

“However, we believe it is important to continue honouring our mission of serving and bringing our local community together, at a time when it is needed most, and we hope to achieve this with our daily, celebratory Iftar delivery menu, which is available to residents living within our neighbouring communities.”



Dutch-Muslim politician tweets Jewish yellow star to protest virus surveillance


20 April 2020

AMSTERDAM (JTA) — On the eve of Holocaust Remembrance Day, a Dutch-Muslim politician tweeted a picture of a Jewish yellow star to protest plans to monitor coronavirus carriers.

Arnoud van Doorn, a member of the City Council of The Hague, posted the picture on Monday, the birthday of Adolf Hitler. Yom Hashoah, Israel’s day of mourning for Holocaust victims also observed by many Jews worldwide, started Monday the evening and extends to Tuesday evening.

In 2018, van Doorn tweeted a prayer to Allah to “exterminate the Zionists” and said that fasting on Yom Kippur will not help Jews atone for Israel’s sins. His Party of Unity says on its website that it strives to “promote the interests of the Islamist community.”

His tweet showed a yellow star of the kind that Nazis made Jews wear during the Holocaust bearing the words “corona app.” Its caption reads, “No obligatory corona app,” a reference to a test being carried out by the Dutch government for a smartphone app that would help authorities monitor the whereabouts and interactions of people, including those they know or suspect are carriers, in order to curb the spread of the virus.

Tom de Nooijer, a member of the City Council of Oldebroek, a town situated some 40 miles east of Amsterdam, was among the many who criticized the tweet.

“Remove that star, Arnoud. You have no right to reference it,” wrote de Nooijer, who represents the pro-Israel Christian SGP party.


Muslim World League Launches Ramadan Food Basket Project in Senegal


Dakar, April 21, 2020, SPA -- The Muslim World League ( MWL) branch in Senegal launched yesterday the project of Ramadan food basket to the needy families in the Senegalese capital, Dakar, in the presence of Saudi Arabia’s Ambassador to the Republic of Senegal Fahd bin Ali Al-Dosary; Mayor of Dakar Soham El Wardini; and the Director of MWL branch in Senegal, Mahmoud Fallatah.

Food baskets in the project include 49 tons of rice, one ton of sugar, and 9,265 liters of oil.

The Mayor of Dakar has extended her thanks and appreciation to the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud and His Royal Highness Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz, the Crown Prince, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Defense.

The Mayor of Daka has also extended her thanks and appreciation to WML for the humanitarian aid, hailing all humanitarian efforts being provided to African countries.


Muslim community in Sheffield urged to celebrate Ramadan at home

By Kate Mason

21st April 2020

Dr Alan Billings, South Yorkshire police and crime commissioner, has written to the Muslim community to remind them of social distancing measures during the holy month of Ramadan.

He said: “I write to you before Ramadan begins to ask you, this year, to observe Ramadan at home rather than by visiting the mosque – something that the Jewish and Christian communities have already had to do with Passover and Easter.

Dr Billings said police officers would be continuing to ensure social distancing rules were being followed in the region throughout Ramadan.

He said: “In normal times, you would also spend time in the mosque with fellow believers, hear verses from the Holy Qur’an and do good in the community.

“Some are beginning to emerge from lockdown, but we have yet to face the peak of its impact in this country, which is expected to happen in the coming weeks.

“If we are to overcome the disease with fewer people becoming ill and fewer dying, we need to observe the emergency measures the government has announced, especially in this next period of time.

“The job of the police is to ensure we all do this and they may stop us and remind us of these measures if we are out in a public place.”


Priests quarantined in Georgian monastery

21 April 2020

Several priests were put in self-quarantine at the Martkopi Monastery, located in Georgia’s Kvemo Kartli region after one of their visitors were diagnosed with COVID-19.

According to Kvemo Kartli head Shota Rekhviashvili, self-isolation is being implemented as a preventative measure.

‘As far as I know, they don’t have symptoms. If needed, stricter measures will be introduced here’, said Rekhviashvili.

A local monk told Formula News that the infected parishioner who visited the head of the monastery alerted them after she had tested positive for the virus.

The priests’ quarantine is expected to last 2 weeks.


Bradford Kurdish Mosque makes second large donation to local key workers

By Yusef Alam

5 hrs ago

A BRADFORD Mosque and community centre - which hit the headlines last week for its large donation to the NHS - has followed up with another kind contribution, after offering a helping hand to the Yorkshire Ambulance Service.

Salahadin Mosque - the heart of Bradford’s Kurdish community - donated £3,000 worth of food, drink and PPE to Bradford Royal Infirmary (BRI) last Tuesday.

On Friday, the Little Horton Lane-based Mosque built on this by donating “more than £800 worth of food, snacks and drinks” to the Bradford branch of the Yorkshire Ambulance Service, on Northside Road.

“We got in touch with the Yorkshire Ambulance Service and they gave us a list of items that they needed”, said Hawker Hussain, a member of the Mosque.

“They didn’t need any masks or PPE, but they did need high-energy food, snacks and drinks. We bought them and then donated them, and we also had donations from people from the Mosque and the local community.

“We want to say thank you to all the people who have donated. We also thank all the key workers, and the public, who gave us a very good response last week.

“When we went to the Yorkshire Ambulance Service with the donations, some of the staff got emotional and couldn’t believe it - hopefully, it will help them during this hard time.”

Mr. Hussain also encouraged others to donate to the vital services that are trying to save lives during the coronavirus outbreak: “We want others to please do the same. We want all of us, across Bradford, to step up and help our country.

“We want to inspire other people to donate, too. We take pictures when we donate, but that’s not to show off, it’s to tell others to help and also to show that our community is doing something positive, because some people might not expect that from us.

“This is our reality, and this is our religion. The Qur’an teaches us to help others, and not just other Muslims, but everyone. In the Qur’an it says ‘whoever saves one [life] - it is as if he had saved mankind entirely.’”

The Salahadin Mosque, which Mr. Hussain says was established over ten years ago, is considered a vital hub for Bradford’s Kurdish community.

The number of Kurds in Bradford is difficult to estimate, given that Kurdish was not listed as an ethnic category in the most recent UK census, but Kurdish was revealed to be Bradford’s tenth most spoken language in the 2011 census, with over 1,200 speakers in the district.

This number is believed to have increased in the years since, with many Kurds arriving in Bradford as refugees and as economic migrants. Mr. Hussain estimates that there are “four to five thousand” Kurds living in Bradford.

Kurdish people hail from Kurdistan, a region in the Middle East spanning parts of Turkey, Iraq, Iran and Syria, which has its own distinct culture, language and national identity.

Many Kurds have had to flee their homeland due to persecution and human rights abuses, and have been described by some as the world’s largest ethnic group without a state.

Bradford MP Naz Shah, who was there when Salahadin Mosque donated to BRI last Tuesday, said, “I’d like to thank the Kurdish community for their generous donation yet again.

“Again, it demonstrates the good will of the Kurdish community and the whole community of Bradford, which is a very giving city - this donation is, therefore, very reflective of the fabric of our city



30 to 39-year-olds now the third most vulnerable age group to Covid-19 in capital

Munawer Azeem

April 21, 2020

ISLAMABAD: Covid-19 appears to be spreading among younger residents of the capital, with 30-39 year olds becoming the third most vulnerable age groups, according to data collected by the capital administration.

The data states that 45 people between the ages of 30 and 39 have tested positive, while 27 patients are between the ages of 40 and 49, 24 are between the ages of 20 and 29 and 22 are between the ages of 50 and 59. There are 17 patients each from the 10-19 and 60-69 age brackets, eight each from the 0-9 and 70-79 age brackets, two aged 90 and above and one from the 80 to 89 age group.

The total number of cases in Islamabad reached 181 after 10 more were reported on Monday, officials told Dawn. Two patients have died and 20 have recovered so far. There are currently 159 active cases of Covid-19 in the capital.

Data from capital administration suggests coronavirus spreading among younger residents; 36 out of 62 areas have reported positive cases

The data also revealed that cases have been reported from 36 out of the capital’s 62 areas. Of the 18 cases reported over the past 48 hours, officials said, three each came from I-10 and Tarlai and one from I-8.

The administration has divided the capital into 62 areas, 37 of which are urban and 24 are rural. Positive cases have been reported in 22 urban areas and 13 rural areas.

BharaKahu still has the highest number of cases at 27, of which 11 have recovered, while Tarlai has reported 25, I-10 and LohiBher have reported 14 cases each and one person in LohiBher has recovered. G-8 and G-10 have nine active cases each and Shahzad Town has seven.

The data compiled by the administration till April 19 revealed that out of the total 171 positive cases 13 positive cases are kept at Pims, three of them are critical and two are on ventilators. Three patients are at the Federal Government Services Hospital and are stable.

There are also 14 patients isolated at the quarantine facility set up in the OGDCL Hostel in I-9 and two at Hotel Ballagio. The remaining patients have been isolated at home.

There are 1,324 suspected patients in Islamabad, while 3,686 people have tested negative for Covid-19 between March 3 and April 19.

The Covid-19 fatality rate in Islamabad has increased to 0.012 from 0.007 between April 16 and 19. The number of female patients has increased from 26pc to 29pc, while the number of male patients has decreased from 74pc to 71pc.

The attack rate per 10,000 people in the 30-39 age group has increased to 1.9pc from 1.55pc, with 44 patients in that age bracket. In the 50-59 age group and the 60-69 age group, the attack rate has increased from 1.85pc to 1.94pc and 1.5pc to 1.87pc, respectively.

The attack rate in the 20-29 age group increased to 0.68pc from 0.65pc, while the rate in the 10-19 bracket increased 0.36pc from 0.34pc and in the 0-9 age group rose to 0.15pc from 0.13pc. The attack rate among people aged 70 to 79 and those above 80 has not changed.

Administration officials told Dawn that the number of patients is rising because people have started leaving their homes since the ban was lifted on several business activities.

They added that the virus has already affected residents of the capital and is now spreading by local transmission. In the last few days, people have failed to continue social distancing and have been observed at markets and other public places, including the Margalla Hills hiking track.

They said 50 cases have been reported between April 15 and April 20, while 39 cases were reported between April 9 and April 12 and no cases were reported on April 14.


Firing during jirga at mosque leaves 3 dead

April 21, 2020

PESHAWAR: Three people were killed in a mosque during a jirga in Dir Colony on Monday. An official said that a jirga was being held between one Fazal Rabbi and his brother Haji Javed over a land dispute. During the jirga, fire was opened that killed Haji Javed and Adil. Elder of the jirga Qari Younus was also killed in the firing. Police while conducting raids arrested four accused Fazal Rabbi, Shah Said, Amjad and Faisal from the nearby fields where they were hiding and planning to escape. Raids were being made to arrest the other accused.


HBL's Islamic Banking joins hands for affordable Naya Pakistan housing

April 21, 2020

KARACHI: Naya Pakistan Housing and Development Authority (NAPHDA) and HBL's Islamic Banking have joined hands to provide affordable housing. NAPHDA Chairman lieutenant general Anwar Ali Hyder (read) and HBL President and CEO Muhammad Aurangzeb signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU). Under the MOU, HBL's Islamic Banking team will act as a facilitator for providing consultancy services to NAPHDA. These services would include, but would not be limited to providing recommendations as and when required to the NAPHDA on models and prevalent best international practices with respect to low income housing schemes that might be suitable for the project. HBL could also provide high level support and recommendations to make the project bankable. Pakistan faced a housing crisis with an overall housing backlog of more than 10-12 million housing units.


NAB warns Shahbaz of serious consequences over non-cooperation

Zulqernain Tahir

April 21, 2020

LAHORE: As the National Accountability Bureau on Monday warned Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz president and opposition leader in the National Assembly Shahbaz Sharif of “serious consequences” for not cooperating with the anti-graft watchdog, the opposition PML-N demanded “live broadcast of questioning from him” during his appearance on Wednesday.

In a statement issued on Monday, NAB sounded categorical, saying: “In case of no cooperation with the national institution (by Shahbaz Sharif), the law has the right to take its due course.”

Earlier, Mr Sharif had skipped a NAB hearing on Friday last on medical reasons. He said he was 69 years old and a known cancer survivor with low immunity, thus medical professionals had strictly advised him restricted movements and limited exposure due to life-threatening risks on account of the Covid-19 pandemic.

In a presser issued in Islamabad on Monday, PML-N senior leaders — former prime minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, Marriyum Aurangzeb and Musadiq Malik — asked NAB to show live the question-answer session with Mr Sharif on April 22 so that the people could know about facts of this investigation.

“We also demand that NAB should also quiz Prime Minister Imran Khan and his adviser Shahzad Akbar in income beyond means investigation and show the proceedings live,” he said and added that the people knew the background of Shahzad Akbar who after drumming about corruption in 56 companies brought a British journalist by offering him money to do a story against Mr Sharif.

The former premier further said the apex court had given its observation in the Saad Rafique case that NAB was either incompetent or dishonest. NAB had claimed to have received solid evidence against Mr Sharif during a raid at his daughter’s house some six months ago, where was that evidence,” he asked.

The PML-N leader further said false cases had been instituted against the opposition leader. Mr Sharif was arrested in October 2018 in the SaafPani case, later in the Ashiyana case and subsequently in a case involving construction of a bridge on a drain, but no charge of corruption or misuse of authority was established against him and he got bail from the Lahore High Court in February 2019. And now failing to find any other charge NAB had launched the income beyond means investigation against him, he added.

The former prime minister asked why NAB was not seeing corruption in the sugar and flour scam and why it was shying away from looking into matters of the finance ministry, the State Bank of Pakistan and the Karachi Port Trust.

Mr Abbasi said the opposition wanted to cooperate with the government in this testing time because of the Covid-19 outbreak but it (government) had other priorities — fix the opposition through false cases. “What’s the method in the government’s policy to summon the opposition leader who is a cancer survivor through NAB in the investigation in which he had already submitted record of his income and expenditures with FBR (Federal Board of Revenue) details,” Mr Abbasi asked.

Meanwhile, the PML-N submitted a resolution in the Punjab Assembly in which it chided NAB for summoning Mr Sharif in the income beyond means and money laundering investigation.

The resolution filed by MPA Sumera Komal said that NAB was misusing its authority in this matter. It said NAB had failed to provide any proof against Mr Sharif and other PML-N leaders in false cases against them.

“Shahbaz Sharif had emerged clean in the apex court in NAB’s false cases. NAB has lost its credibility because of its partisan, therefore, the Punjab Assembly is requested to stop the bureau from proceeding against Shahbaz Sharif in the income beyond means investigation,” it said.


Pakistan sees spike in virus deaths as toll surges to 192

Ikram Junaidi

April 21, 2020

ISLAMABAD: As the number of coronavirus cases surged past 8,500 with the addition of 425 new cases and the toll hitting 192 with 24 deaths on Monday, diplomats visited the National Command and Operation Centre (NCOC) to observe the countrywide arrangements to control the deadly virus.

“During a briefing, we informed about our strategy, structure, etc. Diplo­mats asked a number of questions about the working of NCOC. They were also informed that the issue was taken up at the level of National Security Commit­tee and it was decided to establish a National Coordi­nation Committee to take prompt decisions to combat the virus,” Special Assistant to Prime Minister (SAPM) on Health Dr Zafar Mirza said during a media briefing.

According to a statement, Federal Minister for Plan­ning, Development, Reforms and Special Initiatives Asad Umar briefed the visiting delegation on Covid-19 situation and its impact on various sectors of Pakistan and containment efforts made so far to mitigate the challenges and provision of best possible services to common people in line with Prime Minister’s vision.

Federal Minister for Economic Affairs KhusroBakhtiar briefed the dignitaries about financial assistance extended by the World Bank, International Mone­tary Fund, Asian Develop­ment Bank and thanked the G-20 members for their assistance in grace period to focus on Covid-19 challenges.

The delegation comprising Dean of Diplomatic Corps, Diplomats and Defence Attaches of Australia, Canada, China, Cuba, Egypt, European Union, France, Germany, Italy, Japan Korea, Malaysia, Nigeria, Saudi Arabia, Switzerland, Turkey, Turkmenistan, Ukraine and the United Kingdom was earlier received by Lt Gen Hamooduz Zaman Khan.

Later, Dr Mirza told the media that some diplomats said they learnt a lot during their visit to the centre and also assured the government of their cooperation in the fight against Covid-19.

The PM’s aide was of the opinion that past investments in the polio programme proved beneficial for response against the virus.

While discussing the difficulties of people due to suspension of polio campaigns, routine immunisations and closure of the out-patient departments of hospitals, Dr Mirza said it was decided to start telemedicine across the country. This way, he said, “patients suffering with non-communicable diseases such as blood pressure, diabetes, etc will be able to get advice from heath practitioners through phone calls”.

He expressed the hope that Covid-19 would soon be eradicated from the world and claimed that the lessons being learnt during the current crisis would be used for addressing health-related issues in future.

About the fears of virus spread during Ramazan, Dr Mirza said the Ulema had agreed that they would ensure social distancing during prayers. He also pledged that it would be ensured that mosques would not become epidemic of the virus.

The PM’s aide said elderly and sick people should not go to mosques. Sharing statistics to prove his point, he said 82 per cent of Covid-19 patients who died in Pakistan aged over 50 years. “Moreover, 83pc of them were suffering with health complications such as diabetes, heart issues, cancer, etc,” he added.

“I am concerned about such a huge number of cases. There is need to increase the coordination among federal and provincial governments,” he said.

Mr Mandviwalla appealed to the masses to adopt social distancing and follow the guideline of the World Health Organisation as precautionary measures were the only defence against the deadly contagion.


Pakistan’s Foreign Ministry releases details of telephone conversation between Atmar, Qureshi

21 Apr 2020

The Foreign Ministry of Pakistan announced that the country’s Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi telephoned Mohammad Haneef Atmar, the acting Minister of Foreign Affairs of Afghanistan.

“The Foreign Minister highlighted that as a neighbor with abiding solidarity, Pakistan values its fraternal relations with Afghanistan,” Pakistan’s Foreign Ministry said in a statemetn, adding that “In view of COVID-19, Pakistan has taken a number of steps, at the request of the government of Afghanistan, to assist in movement of Afghan nationals and cargo trucks and containers. The Foreign Minister expressed the hope that Afghanistan would be able to control spread of COVID-19 effectively.”

The statement also added “Foreign Minister Qureshi further reiterated the importance of existing bilateral mechanisms. He hoped that the next session of APAPPS would be held soon which would help further strengthen bilateral cooperation in various fields.”

Pakistan’s Foreign Ministry also added that the two Foreign Ministers also discussed latest situation in the Afghan Peace Process. “Foreign Minister Qureshi reiterated Pakistan’s steadfast support to the Afghan peace and reconciliation process and said that the U.S.-Taliban Peace Agreement provides a historic opportunity for the Afghan leadership to jointly work for the ultimate aim of a peaceful and stable Afghanistan.”

“The Afghan Acting Minister for Foreign Affairs thanked Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi on his message of felicitations,” the statement said, adding that “He concurred with the Foreign Minister on utilizing existing mechanisms, including APAPPS, to take forward bilateral relations. He also appreciated steps taken by Pakistan to facilitate return of Afghan nationals and movement of cargo and trucks, in view of COVID-19. The two sides also discussed further steps to deepen the bilateral economic relationship.”

“Pakistan will continue to support a peaceful, stable, united, democratic and prosperous Afghanistan, at peace with itself and with its neighbours,” the statement concluded.



Syrian air defenses intercept Israeli missiles over Palmyra: SANA

20 April 2020

The Syrian air defenses have intercepted a number of Israeli missiles over the ancient city of Palmyra in the central province of Homs.

The air defense units of the Syrian army responded to the Israeli aggression over the airspace of Palmyra, Syria’s official news agency reported on Monday night.

Israeli media claim that the target site was the T4 base in Homs, a base that Israel had attacked a number of times in the past.

Beirut-based Al Mayadeen TV channel also reports that “the Israeli attack was aimed at military targets in the northern airport of Palmyra.”

In the March 31 incident, the Israeli missiles violated the Lebanese airspace before being confronted by the Syrian army air defenses.

The Syrian army says the country’s air defenses in the central province of Homs have intercepted a number of missiles fired by Israeli warplanes.

The Tel Aviv regime mostly keeps quiet about the attacks on Syrian territories which many view as knee-jerk reaction to Syrian government’s increasing success in confronting terrorism in country.

Israel has been a main supporter of terrorist groups that have opposed the government of President Bashar al-Assad since militancy erupted in Syria in March 2011.

Syrian government forces have taken back many areas once controlled by the terrorist groups. The government and allied forces are currently busy fighting last bastions of militants in the northwestern province of Idlib and areas in the neighboring Aleppo province.

The large-scale government offensive in Idlib has caused increasing friction with neighboring Turkey as Ankara insists that Syria and its main ally Russia are violating the terms of a ceasefire agreement reached in Russia in September.


Coronavirus is taking its toll on Gaza’s economy

20 April 2020

Ashraf Shannon

The coronavirus pandemic is battering Gaza’s fragile economy with hundreds of workers losing their jobs due to closure of businesses.

The Gaza strip’s economy has been battered by Israel’s prolonged blockade and three wars the regime has waged on the region since 2007. People here fear that the Coronavirus pandemic will only worsen their dire humanitarian situation and increase poverty.


18 institutions ask UNHCR to secure release of Palestinian journos from Israeli jails amid coronavirus

20 April 2020

More than a dozen press institutions have appealed to United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet to pressure the Tel Aviv regime to release Palestinian journalists being held in Israeli prisons and detention centers amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The eighteen institutions, in a letter addressed to the 68-year-old Chilean politician on Monday, expressed great concern over the increasing cases of infection with the novel coronavirus in Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories, warning that they fear the deadly disease could afflict thousands of Palestinian inmates, including journalists, in Israeli prisons.

The institutions noted that Palestinian prisoners’ lives are at risk in Israeli jails in light of COVID-19 pandemic since the prisons lack basic medical equipment and prevalent medical negligence has claimed the lives of dozens of the detainees in the past years.

Activists have attended an online rally for Palestinian Prisoner Day to demand freedom for Palestinian detainees amid the new coronavirus pandemic.

They finally urged the UNHCR and the international community to take proper measures aimed at releasing the detainees from Israeli prisons amid the coronavirus outbreak, and compel the Israel Prison Service (IPS) to provide access to detention facilities and abide by the rules of the international law, particularly Article 3 and 4 of the Geneva Conventions.

Turkey’s official Anadolu news agency, citing a statement by Deputy of Palestinian Journalist Syndicate Tahseen al-Astal, reported on April 17 that at least 13 journalists are currently being held in Israeli prisons.

Astal emphasized that the Palestinian journalists are held in detention so that they could not cover crimes of Israeli soldiers against Palestinian people.

The statement was released on the occasion of Palestinian Prisoners' Day, which falls on April 17 every year and is commemorated as a national event to show solidarity with Palestinian detainees.

More than 7,000 Palestinian prisoners are currently held in some 17 Israeli jails, with dozens of them serving multiple life sentences.

Whilst the United States calls upon countries such as Iran, to release more prisoners from its jails during the Covid-19 Pandemic, Israel, the US’s self described closest ally is yet to release a single Palestinian political prisoner.

Over 500 detainees are under the so-called administrative detention, which is a sort of imprisonment without trial or charge that allows Israel to incarcerate Palestinians for up to six months, which could be extended for an infinite number of times.

Palestinian detainees have continuously resorted to open-ended hunger strikes in an attempt to express their outrage at the detentions.


Coronavirus pandemic shows West's failure, immorality: Syrian President Assad

20 April 2020

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad says the ongoing global crisis caused by the novel coronavirus pandemic has exposed Western countries' failure and immorality.

"The coronavirus crisis has exposed the failure of the Western regimes as well as their immorality, because the pandemic showed that these regimes only serve a select few of individuals with vested interests, instead of serving their people," Syria's president said in a meeting with Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and his accompanying delegation in Damascus on Monday.

President al-Assad to Zarif: Coronavirus crisis exposed the failure and immorality of Western regimes

Damascus, SANA – President Bashar al-Assad on Monday received Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and the accompanying delegation. At the start of the meeting, President al-Assad offered...

The Syrian president also offered his condolences to the Iranian government and people over the loss of lives caused by the deadly coronavirus, Syria's official news agency SANA reported.

He lashed out at certain Western counties, mainly the United States, for using the pandemic as a political opportunity to impose sanctions on other states despite the current exceptional humanitarian circumstances.

The Iranian foreign minister, for his part, said the US administration's refusal to lift sanctions on Syria and Iran has revealed its inhumane nature to the world.

"Now, the true intentions of the US with regard to its refusal to lift cruel sanctions on nations under the difficult situation of fighting against this disease has been revealed," Zarif said.

Iran has been doing its utmost to contain COVID-19, the respiratory disease caused by the new coronavirus, despite the hardships caused by Washington’s cruel sanctions.

Tehran has repeatedly said it does not seek Washington’s help in the fight, but wants it to lift its illegal economic sanctions so that Iran could mobilize its own resources to tackle the pandemic.

The administration of US President Donald Trump has not only defied international calls on Washington in recent weeks to halt its draconian sanctions on Tehran, but has even slapped more such restrictive measures on the Islamic Republic.

Washington re-imposed its sanctions on Iran in May 2018 after unilaterally leaving a historic UN-endorsed nuclear accord with Tehran and five other major powers -- the UK, France, Russia and China plus Germany.

In a Sunday post on Twitter, the Iranian foreign minister once again warned the US president against interfering in the internal affairs of other countries amid the new coronavirus.

“All you need to do is stop interfering in the affairs of other nations; mine especially. And believe me, we do not take advice from ANY American politician,” Zarif said.

Elsewhere in their meeting, Zarif and Assad discussed ways to develop bilateral relations, particularly in the economic sector, and implementation of joint ventures to serve the interests of the two countries’ peoples.

They also exchanged views about the latest political developments, including the Astana process and the persistence of Turkish military aggression in Syria's embattled northwestern region.

The Syrian president said Turkey’s acts of aggression expose its true intentions as it has failed to remain committed to the agreements it entered whether in Astana or Sochi, all of which call for recognition of Syria’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.

Zarif also denounced the West’s current attempts to re-exploit the issue of “chemical weapons” in Syria, saying it is shameful that this pretext would be used again in light of the current situation around the world.

Re Afghanistan, our Special Rep has met with all sides in Kabul in past days. On Yemen, our Special Rep working with UN & Yemenis to end suffering.

Western governments and their allies have never stopped pointing the finger at Damascus whenever an apparent chemical attack has taken place.

This is while the Syrian government surrendered its stockpiles of chemical weapons in 2014 to a joint mission led by the UN and the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, which oversaw the destruction of the weaponry.

The armed conflict began in Syria in 2011. But the Syrian military, receiving support from its allies, has taken back control of most of the areas that had been held by militant and terrorist groups.

Idlib remains the only large area in the hands of anti-Damascus militants after the Syrian military — backed by Iran and Russia — managed to undo militant gains across the country and bring back almost all of Syrian soil under government control.

A first deal was signed in Kazakhstan’s capital Nur Sultan, formerly called Astana, arranging for the creation of de-escalation zones across Syria, including in parts of Idlib. The second one that came about in the Russian resort city of Sochi allowed Ankara to bring in a small number of forces to man the observation posts to reinforce de-escalation.

Ankara has, however, been found in default of both the deals by failing to separate terrorists from what it calls “moderate” opposition groups in the Idlib zone and by sending thousands of troops and heavy military hardware into the province in an unprecedented incursion to back the militants.

According to reports, Turkey has significantly beefed up its military presence in northwestern Syria amid continued disagreement with Russia over Damascus’ counterterrorism operations in the area.

The military says it has pounded scores of positions belonging to US-backed Kurdish militants in northern Syria on the second day of " Operation Olive Branch."

On March 5, Russia and Turkey, which support opposite sides in the Syrian conflict, came to an agreement on a ceasefire regime in Idlib, where Turkish aggression against the Syrian government had risked sparking a war.

Under the agreement, joint Russian-Turkish patrols secure a six-kilometer-wide corridor along a highway connecting the two government-held provinces of Latakia and Aleppo.


Iran increases range of naval missiles to 700km without foreign help: IRGC commander

20 April 2020

The commander of Iran's Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) Navy says the country has increased the range of its naval missiles to 700 kilometers without any assistance from other countries.

“There was a time when the farthest range of our naval missiles did not exceed 45 km and even that was achieved with assistance from American military advisors,” Brigadier General Alireza Tangsiri said in an interview on Monday.

“However, we have developed subsurface and surface-to-surface missiles with a range of 700 kilometers, which have been totally made by domestic military elites,” he added.

Elsewhere in his remarks, Tangsiri emphasized that foreigners are the source of insecurity in the region and said, "Wherever the Americans have been present, insecurity has followed and we know of nowhere [in the world] where the presence of the Americans has led to security."

He pointed to a recent naval incident between the IRGC's Navy and the US warships in the Persian Gulf and said, "The Americans in this adventurism blocked the way to our vessels in violation of international regulations and even refrained from giving a radio response, but were faced with our forces' strong move."

Tangsiri noted that the presence of the Americans in the Persian Gulf has led to a large increase in the number of maritime incidents, adding, "Since the arrival of the Americans in the region, 550 oil tankers have been targeted [in various attacks] and regional security has been decreased by 55 percent."

In a statement on Wednesday, the United States Navy claimed that 11 Iranian ships repeatedly came close to its military vessels in “dangerous and harassing approaches” in the Persian Gulf.

The United States Navy is claiming that 11 Iranian ships repeatedly came close to its military vessels in “dangerous and harassing approaches” in the Persian Gulf.

It alleged that the Iranian “vessels repeatedly crossed the bows and sterns of the US vessels at extremely close range and high speeds,” and came within 10 yards of the US Coast Guard cutter Maui.

In response to the US claim, the IRGC Navy issued a statement on Sunday, saying the main source of mischief and insecurity in the region is the illegal presence of US terrorist forces, reiterating the call for the full withdrawal of all American forces from the Persian Gulf and West Asia.

"In order to prevent the continuation of illegal, unprofessional, dangerous and even adventurist behavior of the American terrorists and also to ensure security for Iranian vessels and fight fuel smuggling, the IRGC Navy increased its marine patrols in the Persian Gulf and on Farvardin 27, 1399 [corresponding to April 15, 2019] ... dispatched a group of its vessels, comprised of 11 boats, to the region, where they came face to face with the American warships and military vessels,” it added.

Iranian vessels, usually belonging to the IRGC, commonly patrol the Persian Gulf to ensure the security of the vital global energy hub.

Tensions in the strategic waterway rose significantly last summer after a series of mysterious explosions targeted a number of oil tankers.

The United States, quickly blaming Iran for the incidents without providing conclusive evidence along with other countries such as Saudi Arabia, has since deployed thousands of troops and military equipment to the region.


Iran taking delivery of 3 mln tons of wheat to improve supplies

20 April 2020

Iran is taking delivery of around three million metric tons of wheat from Russia and Germany as part of efforts to improve food supplies for the current Persian calendar year which started in March.

A senior official at the Government Trading Corporation of Iran (GTC) said on Monday that wheat imports had increased significantly this year to ensure the country would not run short of supplies of the staple grain in case of any disruption to the markets because of the new coronavirus pandemic.

GTC authorities had earlier indicated that around one million tons of wheat would be shipped to ports north of Iran from Russia and countries in the Black Sea region across the Caspian Sea.

However, Fallahnejad said that 58 ships carrying wheat had been unloaded at three southern ports of Chabahar, Imam Khomeini and Bandar Abbas since February. He added that another five ships were also being unloaded in southern ports.

He said ships carrying the remaining one million tons of the purchased wheat would dock at unspecified Iranian ports until the end of March.

For the past two years, Iran has been taking steps to ensure there would be no disruption to food supplies at a time the country is under a series of unprecedented sanctions by the United States.

Growing wheat imports also come as authorities have given assurances that food supplies would not be affected by the spread of the new coronavirus pandemic around the world and inside Iran.

For years, Iran has relied on local farmers for supplies of wheat. Government estimates suggest domestic output for the grain would reach 14 million tons this year of which the GTC plans to buy around 10 million tons.


Turkey brings back expats from Europe on eve of Ramadan



Turkey evacuated 337 citizens from the U.K. on Monday on a special flight in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic.

At the instruction of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and in coordination with Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Turkey decided to bring back nearly 25,000 citizens before the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan.

A specially arranged Turkish Airlines flight left London and arrived in Ankara in the evening.

Following health checks, the citizens were sent to the city of Kırıkkale to be quarantined in a student dormitory.

Some 210 expats from Frankfurt landed in the city of Ordu and were transported to the northeastern city of Giresun to be quarantined.

As part of the same measures, Turkey also brought back 93 expats from Spain. A Turkish Airlines flight carrying them landed at Samsun Airport in northern Turkey.


Southeast Asia 

WHO official praises China for sharing experience to combat COVID-19


In an effort to jointly fight against the COVID-19 epidemic, China has sent multiple medical teams to different countries to share its experience, and it's very important that China shares its experience and provides help to other countries, said Takeshi Kasai, the World Health Organization's regional director for the Western Pacific, on Tuesday.

Kasai said under the current situation of the epidemic, any lifting of lockdowns imposed to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus must be gradual, and if restrictions were to be relaxed too soon, there would be a resurgence of infections, according to a Reuters report.

Regarding the source of the novel coronavirus, Kasai said that relevant research indicates that the virus may have originated in bats and spread to humans, but the work to trace the source of the virus is still in progress, and there is no conclusion.


India hands over tablets in a bid to help fight coronavirus outbreak among Afghan forces

21 Apr 2020

The Indian Ambassador to Afghanistan Vinay Kumar handed over tablets to acting minister of defense Asadullah Khalid in a bid to help fight the outbreak of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak among Afghan forces.

“Amb @vkumar1969 today handed over the consignments of hydroxychloroquine and paracetamol tablets to HE Minister of Defense @AsadullahKhaled India has gifted 500,000 tablets of hydroxychloroquine and 100,000 tablets for the Afghan people and ANDSF personnel,” the Indian Embassy in Kabul said in a Twitter post.

The government of India handed over 600,000 tablets to Afghanistan in a bid to help the Afghan authorities cure the patients of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) in the country.

“In a series of offerings of critical drugs, India sent 100,000 paracetamol and 500,000 hydroxychloroquine tablets to #Afghanistan through Ariana Airlines today. This is in addition to the 1st consignment of wheat India shipped earlier to bolster food security. Heartfelt thanks!” Tahir Qadiry, Afghanistan’s Charge d’Affaires in New Delhi said in a Twitter post.

This comes as global demand for the anti-malarial drug hydroxychloroquine had boosted over the last few weeks after some studies showed that it helped to reduce the viral load in Covid-19 patients, according to Hindustan Times.


Afghans not astounded with birth of two-headed calf amid parallel governments

21 Apr 2020

A video which purportedly shows the birth of a two-headed calf in Afghanistan has gone viral on social media but the majority of people say they are not astounded with the miracle as the country is already being ran by parallel governments which came into being after the end of a two-headed government or the National Unity Government.

The video of the two-headed calf is widely being posted on social media platforms, specifically on Facebook for the past few days.

Some of the social media users have compared the birth of the calf to the formation of the parallel governments following last year’s controversial presidential elections.

A social media user in Facebook posted the photo of the calf, stating that the two-headed calf is a product of the two presidents of the country, apparently pointing to Ashraf Ghani and Abdullah Abdullah, who organized parallel presidential inaugurations last month.

HHafizullahMesdaq, one of the humorists of the country, told Tolo News that the birth of a two-headed calf would not be considered a surprise at a time when the country is having a two-headed political system, two-headed government and provinces led by two-headed governors.

Both Abdullah and Ghani held oath taking ceremonies in capital Kabul on 9th of March, further fueling political tensions amid ongoing efforts to find a negotiated political settlement to ongoing violence in the country.

The Independent Election Commission announced incumbent Ashraf Ghani as the winner of the controversial presidential elections in February.

However, Ghani’s rival Abdullah Abdullah said he had won the presidential race insisting that he would form a parallel government.


Afghanistan surpasses 1,000 cases of coronavirus as authorities record 30 new cases

20 Apr 2020

The Ministry of Public Health announced Monday that the ministry recorded 30 new positive cases of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) across the country in the past 24 hours.

WaheedullahMayar, a spokesperson for the Ministry of Public Health, said the public health authorities recorded 30 new positive cases in the past 24 hours.

Meanwhile, Mayar said four COVID-19 patients recovered in the past 24 hours while the disease claimed the lives of at least 3 people during the same period.

He also added that the three patients lost their lives in Kabul, Kandahar and Balkh provinces, increasing the total number of fatalities to 36.


Southeast Asia 

Jokowi Bans ' IdulFitri Exodus' As Ramadan Approaches

Marchio Irfan Gorbiano

April 21, 2020

President Joko 'Jokowi' Widodo announced his decision to ban the IdulFitri mudik (exodus) to curb the spread of COVID-19 ahead of Ramadan.

"Based on field research and a survey conducted by the Transportation Ministry, we found that 68 percent of people had decided to not participate in the annual exodus,  while 24 percent still insisted on leaving and 7 percent had already left," Jokowi said in a teleconferenced limited Cabinet meeting on Tuesday.

"It means we still have a very big percentage [of people who will participate in the mudik]," he continued. "So I want to announce that we will ban the mudik altogether."

The decision is an about-face from the Jokowi administration's previous policy of merely advising the public not to participate in the mudik.

The government previously issued regulations prohibiting civil servants, military personnel and police officers from returning to their hometowns but stopped short of banning the practice altogether, citing economic considerations.

Annually, some 20 million people from Greater Jakarta, the epicenter of the COVID-19 outbreak in Indonesia, travel to their hometowns to celebrate IdulFitri.

The tradition, public health experts say, could lead to the further spread of COVID-19 on Java, an island of 141 million people, where many regions have far worse healthcare systems than Jakarta.


After Malaysian students form new Covid-19 cluster, Indonesia to conduct rapid tests at Islamic boarding school

21 Apr 2020

KUALA LUMPUR, April 21 — Indonesia’s Magetan administration in East Java will be carrying out rapid tests for Covid-19 at an Islamic boarding school whose Malaysian students had tested positive upon return to their home country, a report said.

Magetan’s regent Suprawoto was yesterday reported by Indonesian news outlet as saying that officials would be carrying out the rapid tests at the Temboro Islamic boarding school, otherwise known as a pesantren.

Suprawoto had said that the decision was made to act immediately after verification of news from Malaysia regarding positive cases of Covid-19 among Malaysian students from the Temboro Islamic boarding school.

According to, Suprawoto said the school had been isolated as its students originate from several countries, with the road in front closed since Covid-19 patients were detected in Magetan.

“So for the TemboroPesantren itself, actually we have carried out a local lockdown, and so far there are no reports of positive coronavirus cases,” he was quoted saying by

According to Indonesian paper The Jakarta Post, East Java had recorded more than 500 Covid-19 cases, while the Magetan regency which is in East Java became a Covid-19 red zone last Sunday with 10 cases recorded.

On Sunday, Health Director-General Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah said Malaysia detected a new Covid-19 cluster when 43 Malaysian students returning from Temboro — a red zone in the Magetan province of Indonesia — tested positive.


Mosques to remain closed for another week

April 21, 2020

Azlan Othman

The temporary closure of mosques, suraus and religious halls is extended by another week until April 27. This was announced by Minister of Religious Affairs PehinUdana Khatib Dato Paduka Seri Setia Ustaz Haji Awang Badaruddin bin Pengarah Dato Paduka Haji Awang Othman yesterday. With this the closure enters the sixth week.

The closure coincides with the first days of Ramadhan where mosques, suraus and religious halls usually host SunnatTarawikh prayer and recitation of Tedarus Al-Quran.

PehinUdana Khatib Dato Paduka Seri Setia Ustaz Haji Awang Badaruddin said it was with the consent of His Majesty Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Mu’izzaddinWaddaulahibni Al-Marhum Sultan Haji Omar ‘Ali SaifuddienSa’adulKhairiWaddien, Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam, the Ministry of Religious Affairs (MoRA) extended the closure for another week.

The extension to the temporary closure was decided at a Special Meeting of the Brunei Islamic Religious Council last Saturday based on recommendation from the Ministry of Health (MoH) to curb the spread of COVID-19 and in accordance with the State Mufti’s Fatwa 02/2020.

The Brunei Islamic Religious Council also decided that the public can hold religious events in their homes attended only by family members. The public must adhere to the guidelines issued by the MoH titled ‘Guidelines on mass gatherings, social events, meetings or training sessions’ on April 18.

PehinUdana Khatib Dato Paduka Seri Setia Ustaz Haji Awang Badaruddin said when a Muslim is fasting during the day and enlivening the night with prayers and recitation of Al-Quran during Ramadhan, Allah the Almighty will grant forgiveness in the hereafter and lighten punishment.

The minister said the decision to extend the temporary closure of mosques, suraus and religious halls is a difficult one, especially during the month of Ramadhan.

PehinUdana Khatib Dato Paduka Seri Setia Ustaz Haji Awang Badaruddin added they are aware that the temporary closure is part of the important steps to curb the COVID-19 outbreak and to safeguard the safety, well-being and welfare of all in the country.



SA Muslims look online to stay connected during Ramadan

21 April 2020

The month of Ramadan is set to begin on Friday evening in SA — but with the country under lockdown to curb the spread of the coronavirus, Muslims are preparing to celebrate a little differently this year.

Mosques around SA are normally a hive of activity during the month of Ramadan, which marks the “heightened spirituality for Muslims”, said Abdul Khaliq Allie, the first deputy president of the Muslim Judicial Council (MJC).

“Normally, throngs of people across the globe make their way to the mosque for their five daily prayers, as well as during the evening.”

“SA Muslims will join millions of Muslims across the globe under unique and unchartered  circumstances. With lockdown regulations in place, a novel system is being put in place to ensure that the spirit of Ramadan is enhanced in these most challenging times,” said Allie.

“This in itself is a great blessing. Each home is enlivened and families are planning their personal programme to heighten the spirit of Ramadan,” he said.

“The MJC and other leading institutions are facilitating programmes for the community, whilst imams in their localities are guiding their constituencies towards making the best of Ramadan.

Allie said the spirit of Ramadan and the goodwill associated with it would not be dampened by social distancing, and they would find innovative ways to give to the poor.

“The fasting during the day, the night prayers, the listening to the melodious recitation of the glorious Koran, the upholding of the cultural practices through the exchange of boeka treats among neighbours before breaking fast. Lastly, the intensive outreach to the underprivileged and poor, which is an integral part of this auspicious month.

“The month of Ramadan affords us a further opportunity to intensify in prayers for all citizens of the world and in our beautiful country for all our fellow South Africans.

South African Muslims are of course not alone: 1.8-billion fellow Muslims across the world are facing the same predicament as countries struggle to contain the pandemic.

The holy sites of Mecca and Medina in Saudi Arabia are reportedly under curfew. The al-Aqsa mosque and Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem’s Old City are also reportedly closed.


Jama’atu Nasir Islam Urges Islamic Clerics to Avoid Group Prayers, Sermons during Ramadan

21 April 2020

The Jama’atu Nasir Islam (JNI) has advised Islamic scholars and clerics to avoid congregational prayers and sermons during the Ramadan fast, urging Muslims to observe government’s lockdown order to curb spread the COVID-19 in the country.

Secretary-General of JNI, Dr. Khalid Abubaker Aliyu, said this year’s Ramadan was coming with a difference occasioned by the deadly disease ravaging the globe, and as such, Muslims should abide by the precautionary measures against the pandemic.

He explained that due to the novel COVID-19 pandemic, the Ummah’s enthusiasm needed to be bolstered against palpable fear over the outbreak of the disease.

His words: “It should be stressed that all optional and non-obligatory prayers are originally preferred to be observed at home, although it is desirable to observe them in congregations.

“To sum it up, there will not be the annual Tafsir sessions and no congregational Taraweeh in mosques, until the situation permits. We should, therefore, pray with our families at home and stay safe.

“This is a Ramadan with a difference as most people will be under lockdown. Hence, they will certainly be in dire need of assistance, because of the economic realities and the attendant suffocating inflationary trends.”

Meanwhile, as the Muslim Coalition Against COVID-19 concludes logistics arrangements to begin its relief operations, it has mobilised no fewer than 700 health workers for the task.

The coalition comprises 48 Islamic organisations, which gathered to support the government in the fight against coronavirus and provide relief materials to needy Nigerians.

Its Chairman, Publicity Committee, MoshoodWasiuAbiola, yesterday said in the first phase, distribution of relief packages would commence in the Federal Capital Territory, (FCT), Rivers, Osun, Oyo and Lagos states.

Chairman, Medical Committee, Dr.Salisu Ismail, gave the breakdown of medical and allied professionals as 120 medical doctors, 150 nurses, 100 pharmacists, 100 laboratory scientists, 80 health record officers, 80 environmental health officers, 70 social workers, 50 biomedical engineers and 50 support staff.

Chairman of the Coalition’s Logistic Committee, AbdulRazaqKilani, said the group would support thousands of families with relief packages, adding that each benefitting family would receive a pack of 22kg of food items containing rice, beans, garri, sugar and salt.




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