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Islamic World News ( 15 Oct 2021, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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India Should Ensure Religion Is Not Used Divisively: Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina

New Age Islam News Bureau

15 October 2021


Sheikh Hasina. File picture


• After Two Years, Hindu And Muslim Families Celebrate Puja Together To Celebrate The Golden Jubilee Year Of The Local Sri Durga Sati Sangha Puja

• To Educate The World about Islam Pakistan President Promulgates Ordinance For Establishment Of Rehmatul-Lil-Alameen Authority

• Norway Bow-And-Arrow Terror Suspect ID’d As Muslim Convert Who Posted Chilling Video

• US Committed To Defence Of Saudi Arabia, Blinken Tells FM Prince Faisal


South Asia

• Bangladesh: PM Hasina Warns Those Involved In Communal Violence, Says 'Attackers Won't Be Spared'

• Attack by Uyghur suicide bomber affects China's investment plans in Afghanistan

• Four protesters shot dead in Bangladesh after ‘desecration’

• Taliban delegation lands in Turkey for 1st high-level talks

• Taliban warns of ban on PIA, Kam Air Airlines



• OIC Lashes Out At India Over Rising Wave Of Islamophobia, Hate Crimes Against Muslims

• Bangladesh ‘Promptly’ Dealt With Communal Disturbances During Durga Puja: India

• After Attacks, Valley Mosques Relay Messages Of Solidarity With The Minority Community In Jammu and Kashmir

• RSS Chief Mohan Bhagwat Raises Concerns About Rising Muslim Population, Says Temples Being Given To Heretics

• JCO among two Army personnel killed in encounter with terrorists in J&K's Poonch

• On hunger index, India trails Pakistan, Bangladesh & Nepal

• India to attend Moscow talks on Afghanistan involving Taliban

• J&K: Army officer, soldier injured in counter-terrorist operation in Poonch



• India Urged To Resume Dialogue With Pakistan ‘Amid Threat Of Regional Isolation’

• Impasse between Imran, Pak army over new ISI chief continues

• Fazl vows to expedite efforts to overthrow govt

• Pakistan–China strategic partnership, defence collaboration is a factor of stability in the region, says COAS

• Karak temple case: Pakistan SC orders recovery of Rs 33 mn from accused

• Reham Khan apologises to Zulfi Bukhari, will pay damages after losing libel case in UK

• US envoy’s separate meetings show PML-N discord



• Norway attack was ‘act of terror’, say police

• UN deal offers no guarantees of free movement for Rohingya on island: Leaked copy

• Italian court stops trial against Egyptians over student's murder

• Russian, Armenian, Azerbaijani officials hold 3-way meeting in Minsk

• 18-year-old Afghan refugee stabbed to death in UK


North America

• Congressman suggests US visas for Afghan Fulbright students

• US Will Oppose UN Human Rights Council’s ‘Disproportionate’ Attention On Israel

• US made clear its opposition to settlements: Israeli official

• US county to allow Muslim cemetery after Justice Dept sues

• US working to make charter flights from Afghanistan more routine: State Department

• US offers $1 mln rewards to capture Pakistani human smuggler who operates in Mid East


Arab World

• More Than 150 Houthis Dead In Fourth Day Of Air Strikes: Coalition

• Afghan Emigre Wants People To Rediscover Troubled Homeland At Expo 2020 Dubai

• Lebanon pauses amid tense calm after deadly gun battles

• Lebanon’s Beirut blast victims deserve justice, accountability needed: White House

• US urges ‘de-escalation of tensions’ in Lebanon

• Top US Republican hits out at Hezbollah, voices concern over situation in Lebanon

• Lebanese army arrests nine people after Beirut violence

• Lebanese Forces party denies involvement in Beirut violence

• Saudi Arabia expresses hope for stability in Lebanon following violent clashes

• Arab Coalition intercepts Houthi drone headed for Saudi Arabia’s Jazan


Southeast Asia

• Malaysian Family Needs To Be Translated Into Democracy Practice, Govt Policy — Analyst

• Malaysia Says It Won't Compromise On Demands For Myanmar Progress

• Sabah to allow Friday, obligatory prayers with 50pc mosque, surau capacity

• Indonesia tackles call to prayer volume backlash



• Turkey Ready To Help, But Will Not Recognise Taliban

• Official: Iran Not to Tolerate Presence of Terrorists in Region

• Israeli troops kill Palestinian throwing fire-bomb, military says

• Pro-Iran militias warn of forceful response after Israeli strike on Syria’s Palmyra

• Iran, Pakistan Discuss Ways to Enhance Naval Cooperation

• Iran Warns UNSC about Israel’s Threats

• Iran Reiterates Need for S. Korea to Return Frozen Money

• Iran’s Top General Meets Pakistani PM, High-Ranking Military Officials



• Islamic State's West Africa Chief Is Dead, Nigeria's Top General Reveals

• US-Kenya partnership 'essential' for region: Biden

• Kenyan serial killer lynched by mob

• 5 soldiers killed in suspected bandits attack in Nigeria

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau



India Should Ensure Religion Is Not Used Divisively: Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina

Devadeep Purohit

Calcutta   |   15.10.21


Sheikh Hasina. File picture


Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Thursday said neighbouring countries like India should also be vigilant to ensure that religion is not used to divide people, against the backdrop of communal clashes in several parts of her country during Durga Puja.

“You all know that those who came to power in our country after 1975 used religion to divide people.… The rise of global terrorism also has had its impact on our country. Countering this is not only our responsibility, and neighbouring countries like India should also remain vigilant,” Hasina said while exchanging greetings with Hindus on the occasion of Durga Puja. The Prime Minister had joined in virtually from her Gono Bhaban residence in Dhaka.

“India did help us in the liberation war (of 1971) and we will remain ever grateful for the support.… But they (India) have to be aware that such incidents should not take place there which would have an impact on Bangladesh, and the Hindus in our country face attacks,” Hasina added.

The Bangladesh Prime Minister did not link the attacks on Hindu temples and puja pandals in the past 36 hours to any specific incident in India. Four persons are reported to have died in the violence.

However, Hasina’s observations have come at a time when there is a growing perception in Muslim-majority Bangladesh that the condition of the community in India has worsened since the change of guard in Delhi in 2014.

“While the Hasina government is committed to the principles of secularism and she has taken prompt action to ensure that the situation doesn’t spiral out of control, her comments made it clear that she was trying a balancing act by suggesting that incidents in India do have a bearing on Bangladesh,” said an observer in Dhaka.

Several recent developments in India — from the new citizenship regime brought by the Narendra Modi government to the scrapping of Jammu and Kashmir’s special status by diluting Article 370 — are perceived as anti-Muslim measures by the majority in Bangladesh, where fundamentalist forces have been gaining ground over the past few years.

“Hasina has always dealt firmly with fundamentalists…. In keeping with this tradition, she has taken prompt action after the clashes over Durga Puja. The fact that she joined a programme to wish the Hindus during Durga Puja is a very strong message to the community, which had been feeling insecure after the attacks,” the observer said

Several prominent Hindu leaders also praised the Hasina government for initiating quick administrative action — elite Border Guard Bangladesh troops were deployed in 22 districts to provide security to puja pandals and temples and 43 people were arrested — after the attacks in Cumilla and several other places in the Chittagong range.

Hasina said 32,118 Durga pujas were being organised in Bangladesh this year and her government was making all efforts to provide security to the organisers.

“The number of pujas is more this year.… The law-enforcing agencies always provide security to the big pujas, but a lot of small pujas also take place and it is sometimes difficult to provide security to them. In India, I mean in Calcutta, pujas are held subject to permission from the government. We don’t have such provisions here.... I would urge the Bangladesh Puja Ujjapon Committee to consider whether they should frame some guidelines for organisers so that the administration is aware of all the pujas,” the Prime Minister said during the online event.

Hasina also urged the Hindus in Bangladesh not to consider themselves as “minorities”.

“This land belongs to you, you have your rights. Don’t consider yourselves as minorities, you should have this confidence,” she said.

Her message and the administrative action has calmed the situation in areas such as Cumilla, Narsingdi and Munshiganj, but some Hindu community leaders said the real test would be on Friday.

“We have received threats that there would be more attacks after Friday prayers and we are very worried.… In some places, the attacks were carried out by people who are part of the (ruling) Awami League establishment and that’s why the administration didn’t do anything. The Prime Minister may be earnest in protecting the Hindus, but the question is whether everyone in the Awami League also believes in the principles of secularism,” said a Chittagong-based Hindu businessman who preferred anonymity.

Nod from India

India on Thursday acknowledged the prompt action taken by the Bangladesh government after the attacks.

Asked for a reaction on the attacks on puja pandals, Indian external affairs ministry spokesman Arindam Bagchi said: “We have seen some disturbing reports of untoward incidents involving attacks on religious gatherings in Bangladesh. We note that the government of Bangladesh has reacted promptly to ensure control of the situation, including the deployment of law-enforcement machinery.

“We also understand that the ongoing festive celebration of Durga Puja continues in Bangladesh with the support of government of Bangladesh agencies and, of course, the large majority of the public. Our embassy and consulates are in close contact with the authorities in Dhaka and at the local levels.”

Since Durga Puja pandals came up earlier this week, the Indian high commission in Dhaka had been posting images of high commissioner Vikram Doraiswami joining the celebrations at different temples of the Bangladesh capital.

The attacks on the pandals come close on the heels of India raising the issue of “Hinduphobia” at the United Nations.

“As regards religious identities, we are witnessing how member states are facing newer forms of religious phobias. While we have condemned anti-semitism, Islamophobia and Christianophobia, we fail to recognise that there are more virulent forms of religious phobias emerging and taking roots, including anti-Hindu, anti-Buddhist and anti-Sikh phobias,” junior external affairs minister V. Muraleedharan had said on Tuesday.

Additional reporting by Anita Joshua in New Delhi

Source: Telegraph India

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After Two Years, Hindu And Muslim Families Celebrate Puja Together To Celebrate The Golden Jubilee Year Of The Local Sri Durga Sati Sangha Puja

Subhasish Chaudhuri  



Puja committee secretary Mohammed Raja Ansari beats the dhaak and president Birju Prasad Lal rings the bell at the Mominpara pandal on Thursday.


After a two-year gap, some 300 Hindu and Muslim families have come together in Mominpara of Barrackpore’s Jagaddal to celebrate the golden jubilee year of the local Sri Durga Sati Sangha puja.

This puja is special for them, because they were able to bridge the rift following communal unrest fomented in the area by alleged outsiders, in the wake of the victory of  BJP’s Arjun Singh in the Lok Sabha polls of 2019.

Residents of Mominpara, in ward 17 of Bhatpara Municipality, which is Singh’s backyard, have unanimously chosen private tutor Birju Prasad Lal, 47, as the president of the puja committee, and mechanic Mohammed Raja Ansari, 28, as its secretary.

“Hindus and Muslims have been living for ages here in harmony and peace. There was never any suspicion in either against the other. People here, for decades, have jointly organised Durga Puja and the Tazia of Muharram,” said Ansari.

“Unfortunately, this pluralist ethos was disrupted two years ago when some outsiders attacked the area with vested political interests, which

rendered many from both communities homeless. Many people had to flee the area in fear. But people gradually understood that their neighbours were not their enemies,” he added.

Bhatpara of Jagaddal, under the Barrackpore Lok Sabha seat, comprises pockets such as Kankinara, Titagarh, Kanchrapara, Garulia, Bijpur, and Amdanga, which had been volatile since May 23 of 2019, when the results of the general election came out.

At least seven lives were lost in a violent turf war between Trinamul and BJP, allegedly energised by MP Singh.

Puja committee president Lal said people have learnt to trust again. “People have understood that politicians had vested interests in keeping the Hindus and Muslims divided. It took some time, but the initial mistrust that marred the puja and Id celebrations of the past two years is now a thing of the past. Last year, Covid-19 was also a major factor (behind the muted celebrations),” said Lal. “Hence, people in the area, irrespective of faith, wanted to make this Durga Puja memorable while adhering to Covid-19 protocols.”

On Thursday, Ansari was seen beating the dhaak while Lal was ringing the ceremonial bell, as members of both communities were busy preparing for Mahanavami rituals.

Around 1,500 people who live in the area are mostly daily wage earners. A large part of the population works in the jute mills of the area, some of which have suspended work. Many people of the area also work as construction workers and small-time traders. All have suffered serious losses in the pandemic.

“We had big plans for the celebrations this year. But, the economic impact of Covid-19 forced us to rationalise costs. People here do not have much spare money. So we had to scale down the celebrations with whatever small donations that people could give,” said Ansari.

However, despite the modest pandal, people are happy, said Lal.

“For all of us, this is more of a reunion. Residents have vowed against getting influenced by others and are firm about resisting divisive attempts in the future,” he said.

Source: Telegraph India

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To Educate The World about Islam Pakistan President Promulgates Ordinance For Establishment Of Rehmatul-Lil-Alameen Authority

October 14, 2021

President Dr Arif Alvi on Thursday signed an ordinance for the establishment of Rahmatul-lil-Alameen Authority.

According to the ordinance, Prime Minister Imran Khan will be the patron-in-chief of the authority. The authority’s six members will have scholarly eminence and impeccable credentials.

The prime minister will appoint the chairman of the authority and members of the board.

The advisory board of the authority shall meet at least once on a quarterly basis.

The authority will educate the world about Islam. It will undertake national level consultations with religious scholars, researchers, and education-related entities in all provinces.

It will promote modesty, non-materialistic approach, simple and dignified lifestyle.

It will also provide an international counter-narrative to various misconceptions against Islam.

Earlier on Sunday, the premier had said that the government has already started the search for a chairman to head the authority, who will be a top scholar.

He had said that the authority will monitor the curriculum being taught at schools and organise research in universities regarding the true message of Islam in light of the teachings of the Holy Prophet (PBUH).

He had stressed the need to undertake research on Muslim heroes.

Source: Pakistan Today

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Norway bow-and-arrow terror suspect ID’d as Muslim convert who posted chilling video

By Yaron Steinbuch

October 14, 2021

The Danish man who allegedly killed five people in a bow-and-arrow attack in Norway has reportedly been identified as Muslim convert Espen Andersen Bråthen — who posted a chilling 2017 video in which he described himself as a “messenger” who comes “with a warning.”

The 37-year-old man is accused of carrying out the attack late Wednesday in several locations in the town of Kongsberg, some 40 miles southwest of Oslo, killing four women and a man between the ages of 50 and 70, Police Chief Ole B. Saeverud said.

The Norwegian intelligence service deemed the attack an “act of terror” by the radicalized suspect, who reportedly attended an Islamic center in the community two years ago, the Telegraph reported.

“Hello. I’m a messenger. I come with a warning. Is this really what you want? And for all who want to make up for themselves, so it’s time. Bear witness that I am a Muslim,” Bråthen reportedly said in English in a Facebook video that was flagged to law enforcement in 2017.

A concerned acquaintance notified police of the video, according to the Aftenposten, Norway’s largest newspaper, the Telegraph reported.

The man’s neighbors told the Norwegian outlet that they had observed Bråthen — who reportedly engaged in a “brutal fighting style” of martial arts — training with weapons in his garden.

National broadcaster NRK reported that the suspect had been convicted of burglary and bought small quantities of hash in 2012, according to the Telegraph.

Bråthen also was banned from visiting his parents after seriously threatening them, according to the outlet, which cited the Aftenposten.

Two people, including an off-duty cop, were wounded in Wednesday’s attack. They were hospitalized in intensive care, the Telegraph reported. Police responding to the incident also were shot at with arrows, officials said.

“Witnesses saw lifeless people, heard intense howls and screams and saw people running for their lives in the streets,” Saeverud told reporters Thursday.

Police were called at 6:15 p.m. and arrested the suspect about 30 minutes later. He was held on preliminary charges, which is a step short of formal charges. Police believe he acted alone.

One eyewitness said residents are still shaken by the carnage.

“I have never seen so many police, ambulances and vehicles in my life. There were just blue lights everywhere. Everyone is in shock and upset,” the witness said, according to the Telegraph.

“I mean, an untrained lone man equipped with knife, arrow and bow openly roamed in our streets for more than 30 minutes — headed to a grocery store in the beginning and attacked people there. And then made his way to a post office. Everywhere where he saw people gathering,” the person said.

Karin Elise Edvartsen, a town resident, said the worst part of the attack was “all the hate against religion and race that comes with it.”

“If we are from here or there, we are one community. My neighbors are both Muslims and Christians, and I know they would not hurt a fly,” said Edvartsen, who knew one of the victims, the outlet said.

“Sadly, people start to suspect others. It hurts me, but I refuse to let the hate win,” she added.

Prime Minister-designate Jonas Gahr Store called the attack “horrific.”

“This is unreal. But the reality is that five people have been killed, many are injured and many are in shock,” Gahr Store, who is expected to take office later Thursday, told Norwegian broadcaster NRK, the Telegraph reported.

Kongsberg Mayor Kari Anne said: “This is a gruesome incident, there is nothing else to say. Now we must try to take care of the inhabitants as best we can.”

Source: New York Post

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US Committed To Defence Of Saudi Arabia, Blinken Tells FM Prince Faisal

15 October ,2021

The US is committed to the defense of Saudi Arabia, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Thursday ahead of a meeting with his Saudi counterpart Prince Faisal bin Farhan.

“It’s a real pleasure to have my friend and colleague, the Saudi Foreign Minister here,” Blinken said at the State Department ahead of their closed-door meeting.

The discussions were expected to touch on Iran, Yemen, climate change and energy, Blinken added.

“We have a strong partnership between the United States and Saudi Arabia. We are committed to the defense of the Kingdom, and we have a lot of work that we’re doing together on a variety of very significant issues,” the top US diplomat said.

For his part, Prince Faisal hailed the “tremendous, immense value” of bilateral ties between Washington and Riyadh.

Citing the same issues that would be discussed, as well as the recovery from COVID-19, Prince Faisal said they pointed to just how important the partnership was.

Source: Al Arabiya

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South Asia


Bangladesh: PM Hasina Warns Those Involved In Communal Violence, Says 'Attackers Won't Be Spared'

Oct 15, 2021

DHAKA: Giving a stern warning to perpetrators of communal violence, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina said that anyone involved in the attacks on Hindu temples and Durga Puja venues in Cumilla will not be spared irrespective of which religion they belong to.

"The incidents in Cumilla are being thoroughly investigated. Nobody will be spared. It doesn't matter which religion they belong to. They will be hunted down and punished," she said on Thursday, reported Dhaka Tribune.

The prime minister made the remarks while exchanging greetings with people of the Hindu community during an event at Dhakeshwari National Temple in Dhaka on the occasion of Durga Puja. She joined the program from Ganabhaban through a video conference.

Terming the incident of vandalizing temples in Cumilla "very unfortunate," she said that those who are unable to earn the confidence and trust of the people and have no ideology can carry out such attacks.

"We are getting a large amount of information. We will definitely trace those who carried out the attacks... This is the age of technology," she added.

"They must be found. We did so in the past and will do it in the future, too. They must face due punishment. Exemplary punishment will be given so that none can dare to engage in this type of incident in future," said the prime minister, reported Dhaka Tribune.

She also called upon all to work in unison and remain vigilant to stop the recurrence of such heinous acts.

She said that people irrespective of caste, creed and religion celebrate all festivals together in Bangladesh, adding, "Religion is for individuals and festival is for all and we enjoy every festival together."

Hasina said the Cumilla incident occurred at a time when the country was progressing towards development at full speed and it was aimed at hampering the journey of the nation's uplift and creating a problem in the country.

On Wednesday, tensions erupted among a faction of locals in Cumilla after news broke on social media about the alleged desecration of the Holy Quran at a Durga Puja venue on the bank of Nanuar Dighi.

At one point, the situation began getting out of hand and riots started spreading to a number of Puja venues in the adjacent areas. The local administration and police came under attack while trying to establish order, reported Dhaka Tribune.

Similar incidents also occurred in different districts across the country on Wednesday night and Thursday, leading the government to deploy Border Guard Bangladesh troopers in 22 districts alongside additional law enforcement officials.

There have been reports of several people getting killed during clashes in Chandpur, while dozens of people have been either injured in clashes or arrested by law enforcers in multiple districts until now.

At Thursday's event, a Hindu community leader sought the government's intervention in view of the information that some people are planning to attack them during immersion of the idols of goddess Durga on Friday.

Prime Minister Hasina said they are aware of this matter and measures have already been taken to this end.

Source: Times of India

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Attack by Uyghur suicide bomber affects China's investment plans in Afghanistan

Oct 15, 2021

KABUL: A recent attack in Afghanistan carried out by an Uyghur Muslim has shaken China's top national security decision-makers who wanted to invest in the Taliban's Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan.

Paul D Shinkman, writing in US News said that China's top national security decision-makers are now questioning the value of promises from the Taliban to stop organizations fighting for Uyghur causes.

China is stunned by a devastating suicide bombing attack in Afghanistan last week reportedly carried out by an Uyghur Muslim, sources say.

The Islamic State group's affiliate in Afghanistan, known as ISIS-K, quickly claimed responsibility for the deadly attack at a Shiite Muslim mosque in Kunduz on Friday.

Also, the detail of the attacker-specified that the bomber was of ethnicity that largely originates from China's restive Xinjiang Province, Uyghurs.

Beijing's attempts to stamp out violence among its Uyghur population has emerged as perhaps its most sensitive problem at home and nearby, as shown through the lengths it's willing to go to quash the threat it perceives, reported US News.

The highly symbolic nature of the latest attack has raised new concerns in China that its partners on the ground in Kabul are not following through on promises they made, including preventing organizations fighting for Uyghur causes from finding safe haven in Afghanistan.

It has prompted worries in Beijing that elements of the new ruling government in fact may be trying to exploit its interests there to draw greater investment and involvement, said Shinkman.

"They seem to be in a real state of panic in terms of how to deal with Afghanistan," says a source briefed on the concerns by Chinese military officials and on their plans for the future, who like others spoke to US News on the condition of anonymity.

The principal concern lies in the growing - though debatable - suspicion in Beijing that the de facto leaders of Afghanistan's government are actually coordinating with elements of ISIS-K, also known as the Islamic State-Khorasan Province.

"This is the first major attack since the Taliban takeover," says Yun Sun, director of the China Program at the Stimson Center. "And it was carried out by an Uyghur."

The news appears particularly ironic for the Chinese Communist Party following its outspoken campaign to capitalize on America's failed attempts to nation-build in Afghanistan and its embarrassing withdrawal this summer, said Shinkman.

Moreover, the source of China's latest problem lies in the Haqqani Network, sources say, the terrorist Islamic group with which the Taliban's traditional leaders have associated themselves and which has in recent years redefined the ambitions and power centers of the entire organization.

The investments are all at risk with the new concerns of duplicity from the Haqqanis and China's belief that they are at least communicating, if not directly coordinating, with ISIS-K, said Shinkman.

"The Chinese are coming into the realization that the Haqqanis are playing games with everybody," the source says.

Source: Times of India

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Four protesters shot dead in Bangladesh after ‘desecration’

October 15, 2021

DHAKA: Bangladesh police shot dead four people after hundreds vandalised several Hindu temples across the Muslim-majority nation, officials said on Thursday.

Police opened fire on a mob of over 500 people late on Wednesday following furore over desecration of the Holy Quran during a Hindu religious festival.

In the main incident, a group of people attacked a temple and clashed with police in the southern town of Hajiganj, leaving four dead and over 20 injured, including 15 police officers, local police chief Milon Mahmud said.

A police inspector confirmed the four were shot dead.

Two Hindus were also killed and some 150 others injured on Wednesday, community leader Gobinda Chandra Pramanik said, with at least 80 makeshift temples attacked.

“Hundreds of thousands of people are in fear,” Pramanik said, adding two more attacks took place on Thursday.

The temple where the alleged desecration took place was among those assaulted, police inspector Monir Ahmed said, adding that 40 people were arrested at the site.

Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan, who said there were also attempts to ransack the homes of some Hindus, vowed to track down the alleged perpetrators.

In a statement, the government ordered a probe into the violence and urged “everyone to keep religious harmony, peace and security”.

Paramilitary border guards were deployed in 22 of the country’s 64 districts to provide security to festival goers during the nation’s largest Hindu celebration.

Local news site, as well as other major Bangladesh news outlets, reported that police had detained a Muslim man named Fayez for allegedly sharing video of the incident.

Officers also clashed with hundreds of people in the northeastern Zakiganj town on Wednesday after protesters gathered.

“Several people and a couple of police officers were injured. The mob attacked and vandalised police and local administrators’ cars. We have deployed extra police,” deputy police chief Lutfar Rahman said.

Source: Dawn

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Taliban delegation lands in Turkey for 1st high-level talks

Oct 14, 2021

ANKARA: A high-level delegation from Afghanistan's new Taliban rulers has arrived in Turkey for talks with Turkish officials, the foreign ministry announced Thursday.

The meetings in the capital of Ankara would be first between the Taliban and senior Turkish government officials after the group seized control of Afghanistan. The visiting delegation is led by Amir Khan Mutaqi, the acting foreign minister, according to a Taliban spokesman.

The visit comes after Taliban leaders held a series of meetings with the United States, 10 European nations and European Union representatives in Doha, the Qatari capital, this week.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said at a virtual meeting between the Group of 20 most powerful economies that the international community should keep the channels of dialogue with the Taliban open, to "patiently and gradually steer" them toward establishing a more inclusive government.

Erdogan said Turkey, which already hosts more than 3.6 million Syrians, cannot bear an influx of migrants from Afghanistan, warning that European nations would also be affected by a new wave of migrants.

Source: Times of India

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Taliban warns of ban on PIA, Kam Air Airlines

14 Oct 2021

Afghanistan’s Civil Aviation Administration in a statement said that Pakistan’s PIA and Afghanistan’s Kam Air will be banned to conduct flights from Kabul to Islamabad if they do not charge the same price as they did prior to their takeover.

The statement reads that the Airlines will be fined and punished if they violate the rules.

The Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan warns the Airlines after PIA started charging up to $2,500 for each ticket from Kabul to Islamabad.

Source: Khaama Press

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OIC Lashes Out At India Over Rising Wave Of Islamophobia, Hate Crimes Against Muslims

October 15, 2021

ISLAMABAD: The Independent Permanent Human Rights Commission (IPHRC) of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) has strongly condemned the rising wave of Islamophobia, hate speech and hate crimes motivated by the Hindu supremacist Hindutva ideology in India with the tacit complicity of the BJP- led Indian government.

“The OIC-IPHRC is following with great concern the increasing incidents of systematic violence, mob attacks, public lynching and dehumanising political tirade against Muslims across different parts of India,” a statement issued by OIC-IPHRC in Jeddah on Wednesday said.

“The gruesome footage of ghoulish stomping by a journalist over the body of a Muslim villager in Assam, who was killed by police at a point-blank range, has shaken the world for its sheer insensitivity, depravity and impunity. Ironically, the Muslim villagers were peacefully protesting the forced eviction from their lands that the government wants to give to Hindus,” it added.

The statement pointed out that in Assam, Muslims were subjected to a highly discriminatory "citizen verification" drive in which nearly two million people, mainly Muslims, have been disenfranchised in the same manner as the mass disenfranchisement of the Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar.

Similar measures are also being contemplated in the neighbouring states of Bihar and Bengal, it added.

The introduction of laws against “love jihad”, anti-conversion law in India’s most populous state Uttar Pradesh, misuse of regulations against the slaughter of cows and open calls for a boycott of Muslim businesses were stoking religious divide, dehumanising Muslims and encouraging vigilantism by the Hindu extremist groups were telltale signs of an impending genocide, the commission added.

The commission welcomed the unequivocal condemnation and outrage expressed by the OIC, international human rights community, and even various progressive voices within India over the hate-mongering and violence carried out against Muslims which violate the right of minorities "to enjoy their own culture and to profess and practice their own religion" as provided in ICCPR Art. 27.

The commission reiterated that in present times, xenophobia and hate crimes have become an epidemic, which seriously threatens the coexistence among local communities and undermines the values of multiculturalism in modern societies.

“The ultra-right-wing political parties and extreme nationalists are using hate speech to demonise and promote discrimination against minorities for narrow political gains, which often leads to violence against targeted groups, while seriously undermining the socio-cultural foundations of their respective societies,” it added.

The commission concluded that such majoritarian rhetoric and discriminatory measures in India against the Muslims were contrary to the ideals of pluralism, counterproductive to societal cohesion and clear manifestations of Islamophobia.

It, accordingly, urged the Indian government to fulfil its international human rights obligations by ensuring the safety and security of the Muslims, protecting the rights of its Muslim minority to practice their religion, free from any coercion or discrimination and bringing to justice the perpetrators of the heinous hate crimes without impunity.

The commission also urged the (a) Muslim community and human rights organisations within India to exhaust all available domestic remedies including domestic courts for redressal of grievances and repeal of discriminatory laws and sensitise media for creating awareness; and (b) international community to engage with Indian authorities to ensure accountability of those involved in violence, hate speech, incitement to hatred and populist propaganda against Muslims in accordance with the international human rights law.

Source: Tribune Pakistan

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Bangladesh ‘promptly’ dealt with communal disturbances during Durga puja: India

OCTOBER 14, 2021

Kallol Bhattacherjee

Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson said the Durga puja celebrations have received protection from the law and order enforcement agencies of Dhaka.

The Government of Bangladesh "promptly" dealt with the miscreants who tried to disturb Durga puja celebrations in Comilla district, said an official here on Thursday. Official Spokesperson of the Ministry of External Affairs Arindam Bagchi said the festivities have received protection from the law and order enforcement agencies of Dhaka.

"We have seen some disturbing reports of untoward incidents involving attacks on religious gatherings in Bangladesh. We note the Government of Bangladesh has reacted promptly to ensure control of the situation including deployment of law enforcement agencies. We also understand the ongoing festive celebration of Durga Puja is continuing in Bangladesh with the support of the Bangladeshi agencies and of course the majority of the public," said Mr. Bagchi informing that the High Commission of India in Dhaka is in contact with the Bangladesh authorities.

Source: The Hindu

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After Attacks, Valley Mosques Relay Messages Of Solidarity With The Minority Community In Jammu and Kashmir

by Bashaarat Masood

October 15, 2021

OVER THE last week, some mosques in the Valley have started broadcasting messages of solidarity and unity with the minority community in Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) following the “targeted attacks” in which four persons have been killed so far. The Kashmiri Hindus living in the Valley have welcomed the step, and hoped that more mosques would follow.

“The role of these masjid committees over the last few days is commendable,” said Sanjay Tickoo, president of the Kashmir Pandits Sangarsh Samiti. “The messages of reassurance from the masjids have sparked a new ray of hope of understanding and community bonding,” he said.

“I once again humbly request all masjid committees in Kashmir Valley to give some time after Friday prayers to emphasise the value and importance of Kashmiri society, with respect to social and moral security of the minorities living here,” Tickoo said.

It began last Friday, when two mosques in Srinagar Old City asked its worshippers to stand by members of the minority community and ensure that they feel confident of their support. Since then, other mosques too have relayed similar messages.

Source: New Indian Express

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RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat raises concerns about rising Muslim population, says temples being given to heretics

Oct 15, 2021

NAGPUR: Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) Sarsanghchalak Mohan Bhagwat has called for a policy to balance the population in terms of religion. He also raised concern over the rising population of Muslims.

Bhagwat was speaking at the annual Vijayadashmani event held to mark the foundation day of the outfit. The event, which was again closed for the media, had the consul general of Israel Kobbi Shoshani as one of the special guests. In recent times, he is the first visitor from Israel which RSS is also reported to be looking as a country to emulate.

In his speech, Bhagwat mentioned that religions like Islam and Christianity came through invasion, and Jews and Parsis came to India seeking refuge.

Bhagwat reiterated the 2015 resolution of RSS Akhil Bhartiya Karyakari Mandal (ABKM) which openly talked about rising population of Muslims and Christians. Referring to Muslims, he said they can follow patriots like quartermaster Abdul Hamid or Hasan Khan Mewati who fought Babur alongside Rana Sanga.

The written text of Bhagwat’s speech released by RSS includes the AKBM resolution. It cites the 2011 census which said that population of religions of “Bhartiya origin” has come down from 88% to 83.8% between 1952 and 2011. The Muslim population, on the other hand, has grown from 9.8% to 14.23% during the same period.

The rate of growth of Muslim population has been very high than the national average in the border states of Assam Bangladesh and Bihar. It clearly indicates the unabated infiltration from Bangladesh, the resolution had said.

The RSS chief says that the religious imbalance in north-eastern states has also assumed serious proportions. “The populations of people following indigenous religions have come down to 67% from 81.3% from 2001 to 2011. In just one decade, the Christian population has grown by 13%. In Manipur, the population of religions of Bhartiya origin has come down to 50% from more than 80%. The unnatural growth of Christian population indicates at targeted action by some vested interest groups,” reads the resolution which was released as part of the written text.

Bhagwat, who did not read out the entire resolution, also advocated the need of implementing the national register of citizenship (NRC). “The NRC is however not meant for those people who have been living in India as citizens since generations,” he said.

Bhagwat called for a policy to ensure demographic balance in population which needs to be applied on all in equal terms.

He also criticized the recent incident of firing “between the police of two north-eastern states” (Bhagwat did not name Assam and Mizoram) and said that they are part of the same country. On Kashmir, Bhagwat said efforts need to be taken to make the people of the state understand that they are also “sons of Mother India”. “Terrorists have restarted their spate of killing targeting Hindus,” said Bhagwat.

On Taliban, Bhagwat said they “claim to having change but indications are that they are the same of old”. “The country needs to have a cautious approach toward the new regime in Afghanistan,” said the RSS chief.

Source: Times of India

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JCO among two Army personnel killed in encounter with terrorists in J&K's Poonch

Oct 15, 2021

JAMMU: Two Army personnel, including a junior commissioned officer (JCO), were killed in an encounter with terrorists in Jammu and Kashmir's Poonch district, officials said on Friday.

According to a defence spokesperson, the JCO and a jawan were critically injured during a counter-terrorist operation in the Nar Khas forest area in Mendhar sub-division on Thursday evening. Both of them succumbed to their injuries subsequently.

The operation is ongoing, he added.

While the body of the jawan has been retrieved, that of the JCO is yet to be retrieved from the area, the spokesperson said.

Efforts are on to retrieve the body, he said, adding that the area is mountainous and the forest is dense, which makes the operation difficult and dangerous.

The Jammu and Kashmir police on Tuesday said terrorists involved in a recent attack on security forces in Poonch, in which five Army personnel including a JCO were killed, were present in the area for the last two to three months.

Deputy Inspector General of Police (DIG) Rajouri-Poonch range Vivek Gupta told reporters that the terrorists have been confined to a particular area.

"The group has been present in the area for two to three months," he said.

Source: Times of India

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On hunger index, India trails Pakistan, Bangladesh & Nepal

Oct 15, 2021

NEW DELHI: India has slipped to the 101st position in the Global Hunger Index (GHI) 2021 of 116 countries and is behind its neighbours Pakistan, Bangladesh and Nepal.

Eighteen countries, including China, Brazil and Kuwait, shared the top rank with a GHI score of less than five, the website of the Global Hunger Index. which tracks hunger and malnutrition, said on Thursday. The report, prepared jointly by Irish aid agency Concern Worldwide and German organisation Welt Hunger Hilfe, termed the level of hunger in India “alarming”.

In 2020, India was ranked 94th out of 107 countries. Now with 116 countries in the fray, it has dropped to 101st rank. India’s GHI score has also decelerated — from 38.8 in 2000 to the range of 28.8-27.5 between 2012 and 2021.

The GHI score is calculated on four indicators — undernourishment; child wasting (the share of children under the age of five who are wasted i.e who have low weight for their height, reflecting acute undernutrition); child stunting (children under the age of five who have low height for their age, reflecting chronic undernutrition) and child mortality (the mortality rate of children under the age of five).

Source: Times of India

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India to attend Moscow talks on Afghanistan involving Taliban

Oct 15, 2021

NEW DELHI: India will attend the Moscow Format talks on Afghanistan that will take place on October 20 and will see participation by the Taliban, the government said Thursday. While Russia has never invited India for the extended troika meetings on Afghanistan apparently because India doesn’t have much influence with the Taliban, it sees India as an important partner in the Moscow Format, which includes 11 countries, for forging a regional consensus on Afghanistan.

The MEA spokesperson said India will participate at the joint secretary level in what will be the first Moscow Format meeting since the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan. India had its first official engagement with the Taliban on August 31 when Indian ambassador to Qatar Deepak Mittal met then deputy head of Taliban’s political office in Doha Mohammad Stanekzai.

Russia has said that the Moscow Format talks will emphasise before a Taliban delegation on the need for a more inclusive government in Afghanistan. Before the Moscow Format though, the extended or expanded troika, which includes US, Russia, China and Pakistan, will have another meeting. While Indian leaders have repeatedly said India’s main concern in Pakistan is terrorism, PM Narendra Modi has himself also said that the government in Afghanistan is not inclusive in its present form.

Source: Times of India

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J&K: Army officer, soldier injured in counter-terrorist operation in Poonch

Oct 14, 2021

POONCH: One Junior Commissioned Officer (JCO) and one soldier were critically injured during a counter-terrorist operation in Nar Khas forest area, Mendhar sub-division of Jammu and Kashmir's Poonch district, informed Public Relations Officer (PRO), Defence, Jammu on Thursday.

Source: Times of India

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India urged to resume dialogue with Pakistan ‘amid threat of regional isolation’

October 14, 2021

ANKARA: Describing the challenge posed by China as the most significant issue in the country’s external security policies in the coming decade, India’s top eight strategic brains have asked Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led government to work with regional powers like Turkey and Iran.

In a policy paper entitled India’s Path to Power: Strategy in a World Adrift, the strategic experts including former national security adviser Shiv Shankar Menon and former foreign secretary Shyam Saran, among others, have also urged the government to stay away from some of the concerns it has with Turkey and Iran for the sake of overall benefit.

“If crafting a continental geopolitical strategy implies setting aside some of our erstwhile concerns – say, Turkey’s relations with Pakistan – then we must be prepared to do so,” said the paper, released by the Centre for Policy Research (CPR), India’s leading public policy think tank.

The group of experts had started drafting the paper in May 2020 and after meeting at intervals completed it in September 2021.

The group, which also included noted historians like Sunil Khilnani and Srinath Raghavan, besides top economist Ajit Ranade, asked the government to embark on a more active pursuit of land routes to Afghanistan and Central Asia, through Iran and possibly Turkey.

“This quest is crucial not only for India’s integration with the region but also to craft a continental response to China’s growing strategic footprint in Central Asia – an essential counterpoint to India’s actions in the maritime domain,” said the experts.

Maintaining that India’s ability to sustain a liberal democratic polity at home will be crucial in its ability and credibility to pose itself as a countervailing power to China, the policy paper said democratic values and human rights will retain their salience and significance – as evidenced by the current framing of the US-China competition.

Majoritarianism diminishes India:

“Political polarisation and majoritarianism will lead to a more diminished India – one that may struggle to meet the challenges and opportunities that lie in the decade ahead,” the experts wrote, referring to violent communal incidents being reported from various parts of the country.

About India’s neighbourhood, the paper said there is danger of India getting isolated in the region for the first time since independence.

The experts said engagement with Bangladesh is now being undermined by domestic political stances, and in Nepal, the expectation that a shared Hindu heritage will help overcome its potent anxieties has been thoroughly belied.

“If this trend of subordinating foreign policy to domestic political compulsions continues, India will find itself more isolated and challenged than at any time since Independence,” read the paper.

The authors also called for effectively managing relations with Pakistan with the resumption of dialogue, promoting economic and cultural links, and reviving a process of confidence-building.

“A limited engagement and improvement of relations with India may suit their (Pakistan’s) interests too. Therefore, as long as our objectives of policy towards Pakistan are modest, resumption of dialogue and a gradual revival of trade, transport, and other links are worth pursuing,” the paper said.

But the experts warned that such an approach will be impossible to sustain if Pakistan remained a domestic factor in India – entwined with the growing salience of majoritarian, communal politics.

The political leadership will have to make a conscious and deliberate effort to avoid succumbing to the temptation of using ties with Pakistan for domestic political purposes. They said avoiding engagement with Pakistan has not even helped manage the security concerns.

Using neighbouring countries’ relations to shape the domestic political discourse further will harm the country’s strategic goals.

“It is important that we acknowledge the perverse impact of domestic political and ideological factors that are driving our foreign policy. We have seen this in our relations with Pakistan and, to some extent, with Nepal and Bangladesh. This trend needs to be arrested and reversed,” the policy paper stated.

Blocking SAARC detrimental:

The experts also lamented India for holding back the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (Saarc) in a bid to isolate Pakistan. This has led to less than 7% of overall trade and just 3% of investment that comes from within the region.

Source: Pakistan Today

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Impasse between Imran, Pak army over new ISI chief continues

Omer Farooq Khan

Oct 15, 2021

ISLAMABAD: The controversy about the appointment of Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) chief continues to linger on despite the government’s repeated claims that the country’s civilian and military leadership were on the same page regarding the issue.

“The problem is that every hour some person, for getting fame, twists some words and puts it up on Twitter. At this time, the process has started. There is no conflict between the army and the government. Everyone is on the same page,” Pakistan’s information minister Fawad Chaudhry said on Thursday. He claimed that a specific section, which wants to play on this, has been defeated.

The ministry of defence -- to be more specific army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa -- had announced the replacement of the outgoing spymaster Lt Gen Faiz Hameed by Karachi’s corps commander Lt Gen Nadeem Ahmed Anjum on October 6. The decision was not welcomed by the PM as he was not consulted on it.

Since Gen Bajwa’s decision, some of the cabinet members had started claiming that it was the PM’s prerogative to make an appointment of the ISI chief. Amir Dogar, one of Khan’s top aides, had recently claimed that the PM wanted to retain Hameed as his ISI chief.

Following the reported impasse between the civil and military leadership on the issue, the PM’s office received a summary on Wednesday carrying names of three candidates and Khan, as a rule, has to choose one from them or pick up someone else for the ISI chief’s post.

A day earlier, the information minister had said that the issue regarding the appointment was settled after a lengthy meeting between Khan and Bajwa.

Hours later, one of the federal ministers was quoted by media as saying that the PM wanted to interview officials who were shortlisted for the position of ISI DG.

Source: Times of India

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Fazl vows to expedite efforts to overthrow govt

Yousaf Ali

October 15, 2021

PESHAWAR: Central chief of Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) Maulana Fazlur Rehman has vowed to expedite efforts to overthrow the "illegitimate and incompetent government".

Addressing a mammoth show of power of his party in the name of the Mufti Mahmud Conference, he said the government has proved a total failure on all fronts.

"The economy of the country has collapsed due to the flawed policies of the rulers. Price-hike has made life miserable for the people. Joblessness is the worst in the history of the country. Foreign policy has badly failed", the Maulana said in his late-night speech to the big gathering.

He paid glowing tributes to Mufti Mahmud, who was his father. He said that the sacrifices of Mufti Mahmud would always be remembered in history.

"Mufti Sahib was the Mufti Azam of the country till death. He issued 25000 decrees during his stay as Mufti Azam and none of his decrees was taken back", he said.

The JUI-F head believed that efforts were underway to remove the Islamic sections from the Constitution and make the country a secular one.

"But I warn all such elements that their dream would never come true and the Islamic identity of the country would be protected," he said.

"It is very clear in the Constitution that no law would be made against the teachings of Islam. The Constitution protects the sanctity of the Holy Prophet (SAW)", he said.

"Today, for the first time legislation has been made in the country which is repugnant to Islam. The domestic violence law has been introduced in violation of the teachings of Holy Quran and Sunnah," he said.

The rulers are trying to portray themselves as champions of child rights, he said and criticised the rulers' bid to introduce a law against embracing Islam in teenagers. "We cannot allow the international establishment to do away with the Islamic identity of the country," he said.

The JUI-F chief said the rulers seem to be humans but they have turned to the genies and spirits. They are running the country on the basis of magic, genies and spirits, he said.

The Maulana said that the sustainability and development of countries depended on economic power in the contemporary world. The USSR was a great military power. But it was disintegrated due to the economic debacle, he said.

The economy of Pakistan is facing the worst crisis under the current rulers. The growth rate has gone below zero per cent. The price hike has made life miserable for the people. The value of the dollar has reached Rs 172 during the current rule.

Jobs have been snatched from three million more people in the country instead of giving employment to 10 million youth, he said.

The Maulana said the foreign policy of the current rulers has proved to be a total mess. "Our time-tested friend China is annoyed with the country. China was making a huge investment in the country, which he has stopped. The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor has come to a complete standstill," he added.

Source: The News Pakistan

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Pakistan–China strategic partnership, defence collaboration is a factor of stability in the region, says COAS

October 14, 2021

KARACHI: General Qamar Javed Bajwa, Chief of Army Staff (COAS) Thursday said that Pakistan–China strategic partnership and defence collaboration is a factor of stability in the region.

He expressed these views during his visit to the Army Air Defence Centre Karachi. On arrival, the COAS laid floral wreath at Shahuada monument. Senior officials from China were also present on the occasion.

Later, the COAS witnessed commissioning of state of the art Chinese origin HQ-9/P HIMADS (High to Medium Air Defence System) into Pakistan Army Air Defence. Lieutenant General Hamooduz Zaman Khan; Commander Army Air Defence Command briefed the COAS about strategic weapon system.

Induction of HIMADS will significantly enhance Comprehensive Layered Integrated Air Defence (CLIAD) shield of aerial frontiers of Pakistan as the system is fully integrated through a well-knit Digitised System on its inventory.

Capable of intercepting multiple air targets including aircraft, cruise missiles and Beyond Visual Range (BVR) weapons at ranges over 100 kilometres with Single Shot Kill Probability, HQ-9/P is considered as a strategic long range Surface to Air Missile (SAM) with remarkable flexibility and precision.

Source: Pakistan Today

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Karak temple case: Pakistan SC orders recovery of Rs 33 mn from accused

15th October 2021

Islamabad: Supreme Court of Pakistan has ordered the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government to recover Rs 33 mn from the accused of the Karak temple case. The order has been issued by a three-judge bench headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan Gulzar Ahmed.

According to Dawn, Pakistan Hindu Council (PHC) chief Dr. Ramesh Kumar Vankwani submitted a report to SC. In the report, it was mentioned that the district administration is silent despite the previous court’s order to recover restoration costs from accused.

Because of such attitude of the administration, a local cleric of Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazi (JUI-F) named Hafiz Faizullah who runs a religious seminary near the temple has raised an objection that the word ‘Mandir’ has been written on the newly constructed building instead of Samadhi.

Source: Siasat Daily

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Reham Khan apologises to Zulfi Bukhari, will pay damages after losing libel case in UK

October 15, 2021

Anchorperson Reham Khan apologised to PTI leader Zulfi Bukhari on Friday after losing a defamation case brought by the latter against her in the United Kingdom.

In 2019, Khan had made several allegations of corruption and nepotism against Bukhari, claiming that he, in connivance with Prime Minister Imran Khan, was involved in a "corrupt plan" to sell Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) owned Roosevelt Hotel in New York and later to purchase it at a lower market price.

Bukhari had objected to these allegations and served a libel case against her, seeking a retraction, damages and cost of legal fees.

During a preliminary hearing in London earlier this year, the judge had found that Khan's words had amounted to a Chase Level 1 imputation. As determined by the judge, this had meant that the defamatory words would be understood by an “ordinary reasonable reader” as actual guilt on the part of Bukhari.

In a statement posted to Twitter, Khan apologised for a number of claims she had made regarding the PTI leader.

She said she had made assertions on social media platforms in December 2019 about the PTI leader being allegedly involved in a "corrupt plan" with Prime Minister Imran Khan to sell and acquire New York's Roosevelt Hotel.

"On Dec 7, 2019, I retweeted a tweet and video by Syed Tauqeer Bukhari in which it was asserted that Zulfi Bukhari was involved in fraud and nepotism by trying to sell a precious asset of the state of Pakistan, the Roosevelt Hotel, for a meagre amount of money," she said.

These allegations were "false and untrue", Khan said, adding that Bukhari was not involved in any corrupt plan, fraud, nepotism or attempt to sell the hotel.

On March 15, 2020, she said she had shared a tweet and a video that asserted that Bukhari had lied on television including showing fake documents to people. "It was further asserted that Zulfi Bukhari had made money by illegal and fraudulent means and used illegal means to launder it," she said.

Apologising for this action, Khan said the PTI leader had never shown any fake documents, had not used illegal or fraudulent means to build his wealth or launder it.

"Zulfi Bukhari has built his wealth; such as it is, through hard work and not through any form of illegal conduct," Reham wrote.

She also addressed sharing tweets on March 17 and March 20 last year that asserted the PTI leader had acted against journalists, criticising his handling of the Covid-19 pandemic and claiming that Bukhari had jeopardised the lives of people due to his "incompetent management" of the disease's spread.

Khan clarified these allegations were also "false and untrue" since Bukhari had no role to play in managing the coronavirus situation in Pakistan.

"I unconditionally apologise to Zulfi Bukhari for the significant distress, upset and embarrassment which these publications have caused him.

"I have agreed to pay Zulfi Bukhari substantial damages for libel and to pay his legal costs," Khan explained in her statement.

Source: Dawn

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US envoy’s separate meetings show PML-N discord

Zulqernain Tahir

October 15, 2021

LAHORE: Separate meetings by US Charge d’affaires Angela Aggeler with PML-N president Shehbaz Sharif and vice president Maryam Nawaz here on Thursday again sparked speculation about divisions within the party.

It surprised many in the party after Ambassador Aggeler separately met Mr Shehbaz and Ms Maryam despite the fact that both were present in Lahore.

Earlier, the much-talked about two ‘camps’ within the PML-N were publicly exposed when Maryam’s so-called loyalist, MNA Javed Latif, made an indirect attack on Shehbaz on a private TV channel, accusing him of being “on an assignment” from the establishment. The party issued Latif a show-cause notice, but was unable to take any action against him because of his ‘loyalty’ towards Maryam.

Interestingly, the main leadership of PML-N accompanied Ms Nawaz instead of Mr Shehbaz in her meeting with the US envoy at her Jati Umra residence. The leaders accompanying her were the party’s senior vice president Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, secretary general Ahsan Iqbal, senior leader Pervaiz Rashid, information secretary Marriyum Aurangzeb, Khurram Dastgir and Tariq Fatemi.

After her meeting with Maryam and the PML-N leaders, the US envoy met the opposition leader in the National Assembly at his Model Town residence.

Ms Aurangzeb did not respond when Dawn sought the reason for separate meetings of the US envoy with party leaders.

A party insider told Dawn that Ms Nawaz wanted to give an impression (to the US ambassador) that she represented her father (Nawaz Sharif), who was the supreme leader of the party, therefore, the senior party leadership accompanied her. “It could have been a joint meeting of Shehbaz and Maryam with Ms Aggeler, but one of the leaders chose otherwise,” the insider said.

US Consul General William K Makaneole and political officer Khatija Corey accompanied the American envoy. Matters of mutual interest, Pak-US ties, regional and international security, situation in Afghanistan, women and children’s rights, health and education and ways to boost people-to-people interaction between the two countries were discussed in both the meetings.

According to a PML-N statement, the US envoy appreciated Mr Shehbaz for the services he rendered during his tenure as the Punjab chief minister.

Maryam conveyed her father’s felicitations to President Joe Biden on his election victory and goodwill from the people of Pakistan. She said Nawaz Sharif during his tenure as the premier adopted a noninvasive foreign policy and pursued a pleasant relationship based on mutual trust, peace and development with Pakistan’s neighbours and the international community.

“Pakistan considers Afghanistan a close neighbouring country and respects its sovereignty, and does not support any interference in its affairs,” she said and added that the PML-N wished for a peaceful, developing and prosperous Afghanistan for the people, women and children of Pakistan.

Ms Nawaz said the entire world should contribute to humanitarian aid for Afghanistan. “It is imperative that a congenial environment be created that would encourage the repatriation of Afghan refugees to their beloved motherland. Pakistan sacrificed a lot in the war on terrorism. Nawaz Sharif built a narrative against terrorism and united the nation against this menace.”

Maryam further said the PML-N represented the true aspirations of the people and believed in promoting peaceful coexistence, democracy, development and security. “The PML-N wants strengthening and nurturing of democracy and democratic values, for which it sought to join forces with democratic forces of the world,” she added.

Source: Dawn

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Norway attack was ‘act of terror’, say police

October 15, 2021

KONGSBERG: A bow-and-arrow attack in which a Danish convert to Islam is suspected of killing five people in a Norwegian town appears to have been an “act of terror”, police said on Thursday.

Investigators named the suspect as Espen Andersen Braathen, a 37-year-old living in the Kongsberg municipality where the attacks took place on Wednesday evening.

A police attorney told Reuters that Braathen had acknowledged killing the victims. His lawyer confirmed only that Braathen was cooperating with police and giving a detailed statement.

Police had been concerned about signs of radicalisation in the suspect before the attacks, carried out with a bow and arrow and other weapons, a senior officer said.

Flags flew at half-mast across Kongsberg after the deaths of four women and a man, all aged between 50 and 70. Three others, including an off-duty police officer, were wounded.

Kongsberg resident Markus Kultima, 23, who works in a beer shop, witnessed parts of the attack.

“I saw a man come walking with an arrow in his back,” Kultima told Reuters. He said it was the off-duty officer who told him to head home.

“I had to walk in the direction where that guy came from, Kultima said, describing doing so as “very heavy.” Braathen was in custody and was believed to have acted alone, police said. A court will decide on Friday how long police can keep him in custody.

“The events at Kongsberg appear at the moment to be an act of terror,” the PST security police said in a statement, adding the investigation would determine the motive.

Regional police chief Ole Bredrup Saeverud said the suspect had converted to Islam.

“Police have previously been in contact with the man in relation to trouble connected to radicalisation. We haven’t registered anything in regards to him in 2021, but previously,” Saeverud told a news conference.

Police attorney Ann Iren Svane Mathiassen told Reuters: “He has told us that he has killed them and he has explained himself in detail about what happened...He admits to the facts of the case but we haven’t asked him yet about the question of guilt.” She said police wanted a psychiatric evaluation to determine whether he is fit to stand trial, and that those killed “appear to be random victims.”

A relative of the suspect, speaking on condition of anonymity to Danish newspaper Ekstra Bladet, described him as mentally ill and said the family had suffered threats for several years.

The death toll was the worst of any attack in Norway since 2011, when far-right extremist Anders Behring Breivik killed 77 people, most of them teenagers at a youth camp.

The attacks took place over “a large area” of Kongsberg, a municipality of about 28,000 people in southeastern Norway, 68km from the capital, Oslo.

Source: Dawn

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UN deal offers no guarantees of free movement for Rohingya on island: Leaked copy

15 October ,2021

A deal for the United Nations to start work on a remote Bangladeshi island where the government has sent thousands of Rohingya refugees offers no guarantee they will be allowed to move freely to the mainland, according to a copy of the agreement.

The Bangladesh government has moved nearly 19,000 Rohingya refugees, members of a persecuted mostly Muslim minority from Myanmar, to Bhasan Char island from border camps, despite protests by refugees and opposition from rights groups, who have likened it to an island jail and said some relocations were involuntary.

Refugees have called for freedom of movement between the remote and floodprone island, several hours off the coast, and the sprawling mainland camps near the port town of Cox’s Bazar, while dozens have died in recent months attempting to flee on rickety boats.

The UN refugee agency, which had previously refused to provide humanitarian services on Bhasan Char until assessments were completed, did not respond to request for comment on why the deal, signed in early October, had not been made public or its contents.

In an Oct. 9 statement, the agency said the agreement covered “key areas of protection, education, skills-training, livelihoods and health, which will help support the refugees to lead decent lives on the island and better prepare them for sustainable return to Myanmar in the future”.

Bangladeshi government spokespeople were not available for comment but one official, who declined to be identified because they were not authorized to speak to media, questioned the need for free movement.

“Why will we will offer them freedom of movement? We are providing everything they need. They will have to stay in the camps until they go back to Myanmar,” the official told Reuters.

Bangladesh says another 81,000 refugees will be moved to the island in coming months.

A leaked copy of the deal seen by Reuters says the United Nations would be “permitted unhindered access” to the population and further relocations would be voluntary.

But it said any travel between the island and mainland would be on an “as needs” basis, the precise details of which would be determined between the United Nations and Bangladesh, though refugees can “move on and within Bhasan Char for their daily activities”.

The deal refers to Rohingya as “forcibly displaced Myanmar nationals/refugees,” reflecting the refusal of Bangladesh, which is not a signatory to the 1951 Refugee Convention, to confer refugee status on the group.

‘Refugee prison’

In a statement on Friday, the non-profit organization Fortify Rights, which said it had examined the agreement, called on the United Nations and Bangladesh to revise it to include freedom of movement to the mainland.

“UNHCR’s lifesaving services are essential and needed on the island, but the agency must ensure it is not propping up a refugee prison with this agreement,” said the group’s regional director, Ismail Wolff.

A refugee on the island, who asked not to be identified for fear of retribution, told Reuters by telephone life on the island was hard.

“Those who are living here can’t go to meet their relatives. That’s one of the reasons some Rohingya try to flee,” the refugee said.

“We don’t have the right to liberty of movement. We are confined here but no one cares. Our fate is to be stuck,” said another refugee, who also requested anonymity.

Refugees on the mainland are also not allowed to leave their camps along the border. Rights groups have been calling for an end to restrictions on movement.

Source: Al Arabiya

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Italian court stops trial against Egyptians over student's murder

AFP / Oct 15, 2021

ROME: The trial of four Egyptian security officers in Rome for the brutal killing of Italian student Giulio Regeni five years ago was thrown out by judges Thursday, "bitterly" disappointing his family which vowed not to give up on the case.

The judges ruled that the four could not be tried in absentia because prosecutors had been unable to officially inform them of the judicial process against them, a court-appointed defence lawyer told AFP.

The officers stand accused of kidnapping, conspiracy to murder and grievous bodily harm in the case, which sparked outrage in Italy and has strained diplomatic relations with Egypt.

"We note with bitterness the court's decision, which rewards Egyptian arrogance," the Regeni family's lawyer, Alessandra Ballerini, told reporters outside the court.

"It is a setback, but we will not give up," she said.

Regeni's parents and sister had been present at the hearing in the bunker room of Rebibbia prison, often the stage for mafia trials.

The 28-year-old was doing research for a doctorate at Cambridge University when he was abducted in Cairo in January 2016.

His body, bearing extensive signs of torture, was eventually found dumped on the outskirts of Cairo, naked from the waist down.

The Italian government joined the proceedings with a civil suit for damages, in a symbolic show of support.

But before the trial proper could begin, the court had first to rule on whether the four suspects, members of Egypt's National Security Agency (NSA), were aware of the proceedings against them. Egypt has repeatedly refused to provide their contact details.

At a preliminary hearing in May, a judge ruled that media coverage meant news of the trial would have reached them.

But the court overturned that ruling on Thursday, effectively sending the prosecution back to square one.

The four are named in court documents as General Tariq Sabir, Colonels Athar Kamel and Uhsam Helmi and Major Magdi Ibrahim Abdelal Sharif, who is accused of carrying out the killing.

Investigators believe Regeni was abducted and killed after being mistaken for a foreign spy.

Prosecutor Sergio Colaiocco had told the court that eye witness testimony and other "significant elements of proof" implicated the security officers in the murder.

All four not only knew about the trial but had "systematically and persistently acted to slow and block the investigation", he said.

But lawyer Tranquillino Sarno, appointed by the court to defend Colonel Kamel, said the case should be thrown out.

"The defendants know nothing. Not what they are accused of. Not that we are here today".

Regeni's corpse was found nine days after he disappeared. His mother later said it had been so badly mutilated she only recognised her son by the "tip of his nose".

Five of his teeth had been broken, 15 of his bones had been fractured and letters had been inscribed into his flesh, lawyer Ballerini said.

Source: Times of India

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Russian, Armenian, Azerbaijani officials hold 3-way meeting in Minsk

Elena Teslova  



The foreign ministers of Russia, Armenia, and Azerbaijan held a trilateral meeting on the sidelines of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) ministerial meeting on Thursday in Belarus' capital Minsk.

Taking place at Moscow's initiative, the talks were held on the implementation of agreements on Nagorno-Karabakh, a region that Baku liberated from nearly 30 years of Armenian occupation last year, the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement after the meeting.

Russia's Sergey Lavrov, Azerbaijan's Jeyhun Bayramov, and Armenia's Ararat Mirzoyan noted that Nov. 9 would be the first anniversary of the Karabakh deal.

Source: Anadolu Agency

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18-year-old Afghan refugee stabbed to death in UK

Ahmet Gurhan Kartal



An Afghan teenager who came to the UK as a refugee was stabbed to death in southwest London, local media reports said Thursday.

Hazrat Wali, an 18-year-old student at Richmond Upon Thames College, was attacked during a fight in Craneford Way, Twickhenham on Tuesday.

“Hazrat was a very good boy. He came here to study, he was living all on his own in London. His immediate family are all back in Afghanistan,” a relative was quoted as saying by the Evening Standard.

“I saw him in hospital. He had a fight is all that I’ve heard.”

The victim was attacked during a fight on a footbridge and later he collapsed in the playing fields in Craneford Way. He died of his wounds an hour later despite first aid efforts from a teacher who was on the field with his student.

Police on Wednesday evening named Wali as the victim of the attack.

“We are still working to establish the motive behind this tragic attack and are following a number of leads,” said Detective Chief Inspector Vicky Tunstall from the Specialist Crime Command.

Source: Anadolu Agency

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North America


Congressman suggests US visas for Afghan Fulbright students

14 Oct 2021

US Democratic congressman John Garamendi in his statements said that the Afghan students who are settled in the US through Fulbright scholarship, be given special immigration visas.

John Garamendi has said that the US should save the students and their respective families from the torture of the Taliban and help them settle in the United States.

It is said that their families are meant by their spouses and children.

The new suggestion comes as the US is willing to evacuate thousands of Afghans who have worked for them in the past twenty years.

Source: Khaama Press

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US will oppose UN human rights council’s ‘disproportionate’ attention on Israel

14 October ,2021

The US has concerns with the United Nations Human Rights Council and will oppose its “disproportionate” attention on Israel, State Department spokesman Ned Price told reporters on Thursday after the US was elected back to the council.

Source: Al Arabiya

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US made clear its opposition to settlements: Israeli official

14 October ,2021

The US during talks this week made clear its opposition to Israel’s building of Jewish settlements on occupied land that the Palestinians want for a future state, a senior Israeli official said on Thursday.

Asked if the US side had raised the issue during the visit of Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid, who met US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and other top officials in Washington, the Israeli official told reporters: “Yes.”

“They raised it, and not in a ‘Great job, guys, go ahead’“ way, said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

President Joe Biden’s administration has emphasized it opposes further expansion of Jewish settlements. Most countries consider such settlements illegal. Israel disputes this.

Source: Al Arabiya

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US county to allow Muslim cemetery after Justice Dept sues

Michael Hernandez  



Stafford County, Virginia will allow the creation of an Islamic cemetery after the US Justice Department sued the jurisdiction, the agency announced Thursday.

The Justice Department said it is nixing its lawsuit filed in June 2020 after the county repealed former ordinances that prevented the All Muslim Association of America (AMAA) from establishing the religious cemetery, and approved the association's site plan.

The county also agreed to pay AMAA half-a-million dollars in damages, it added.

US law "protects people of all faiths in their right to exercise their religion,” Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke said in a statement, referring to the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUIPA), a 2000 law that allows religious organizations to avoid zoning restrictions.

“The Department of Justice will continue to vigorously enforce RLUIPA — through litigation if necessary — against zoning regulations that unreasonably burden religious exercise, including by restricting a religious group’s right to bury its dead in accordance with religious rituals and customs,” she added.

Source: Anadolu Agency

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US working to make charter flights from Afghanistan more routine: State Department

14 October ,2021

The United States has no plans to resume military-led evacuation flights from Afghanistan, but is working to ensure that the existing charter flights become more frequent, the State Department said on Thursday.

“The idea that we’re restarting evacuation flights, à la what we had prior to Aug. 31, is not accurate,” State Department spokesperson Ned Price said in a briefing. The Wall Street Journal earlier reported that Washington would restart evacuation flights before the end of the year, citing an unidentified State Department official.

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“The charter flights have been routine,” Price said. “Our goal is to make them even more routine to lend a degree of automaticity to these operations so that we can facilitate the departure of Americans, of lawful permanent residents and others.”

The United States’ two decades-long occupation of Afghanistan culminated in a hastily organized airlift in August that saw more than 124,000 civilians including Americans, Afghans and others evacuated as the Taliban took over. But thousands of other US-allied Afghans at risk of Taliban persecution were left behind.

President Joe Biden and others in his administration have vowed to continue efforts to get them out.

Source: Al Arabiya

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US offers $1 mln rewards to capture Pakistani human smuggler who operates in Mid East

15 October ,2021

The US is offering two $1million cash rewards to bring Pakistani national and human smuggler Abid Ali Kahn to justice and to crackdown on his people-smuggling network that operates across the Middle East and Asia, the Department of State announced on Thursday.

Ali Khan allegedly operates a Pakistani-based smuggling network that facilitates the travel of undocumented individuals into the US from the Middle East and southwest Asia in exchange for payment.

In addition to planning and coordinating the international travel from Pakistan through multiple countries, Ali Khan allegedly offered or provided false documents for foreign nationals to use for travel.

The US has announced two rewards for information.

The first reward of up to $1 million is offered for information leading to the arrest and/or conviction of Ali Khan, while a second $1 million reward is offered for information leading to the financial disruption of Ali Khan’s human smuggling network.

“Smuggling organizations like Ali Khan’s take advantage of vulnerable populations, pose high risk, and gravely endanger the individuals being smuggled,’ the Department of State said in a statement on its website. “Persons smuggled to the US are often subject to perilous travel through South and Central America, which can involve many days of walking through difficult terrain with little food or water, with many falling victim to robbery and abuse during the journey.”

On April 7, 2021, the US Department of Justice unsealed a federal indictment filed in the Eastern District of Virginia charging Ali Khan with “Conspiracy to Encourage and Induce an Alien to Unlawfully Enter the US, Encouraging and Inducing an Alien to Unlawfully Enter the US, and Bringing an Alien to the US”, authorities said.

On the same date, the Department of the Treasury imposed sanctions against Ali Khan and the Ali Khan Transnational Criminal Organization pursuant to Executive Order 13581 “Blocking Property of Transnational Criminal Organizations,” stemming from the same criminal conduct.

Source: Al Arabiya

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Arab World


More than 150 Houthis dead in fourth day of air strikes: Coalition

14 October ,2021

More than 150 members of the Iran-backed Houthi militia have been killed in a fourth day of airstrikes, according to an Arab Coalition spokesperson.

“The destruction included 11 military vehicles, and killed more than 150 terrorist elements,” the coalition said in a statement carried by official Saudi Press Agency.

Source: Al Arabiya

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Afghan emigre wants people to rediscover troubled homeland at Expo 2020 Dubai

14 October ,2021

An Afghan who fled his country over 40 years ago has stepped in to rescue Afghanistan’s exhibition at the Dubai world fair after the Taliban takeover in his homeland in August scuttled official Afghan participation in the mega cultural extravaganza.

The 62-year-old, Vienna-based antiques dealer gathered up his family collection of Afghan artifacts, including carpets, daggers and jewelry, to fill the Afghan pavilion that had remained shut when Expo 2020 opened on Oct. 1.

“As an Afghan this was a duty for me,” said Mohammed Omer Rahimy, who for years has taken the family collection to exhibitions around the world to promote Afghan culture.

“We feel very happy that Afghanistan’s exhibition is open.”

The tri-color flag of Afghanistan flutters at the Dubai fairgrounds, while the white flag used by its new Taliban rulers is absent, symbolic of the challenges facing the hardline movement in gaining international recognition.

Rahimy has lived in Austria since fleeing Afghanistan in 1978 when the then-president was killed in a communist coup that spiraled into decades of nationwide violence and bloodshed.

He and relatives joining him in Dubai paid the cost of transporting the artifacts that now comprise the Afghan exhibition, among 191 other countries at the six-month world fair.

Images of the Hazrat Ali Mazar mosque in Mazar-e-Sharif and the Band-e Amir National Park in Bamyan Province adorn the walls of the Afghan pavilion, also decked in hand-woven carpets and traditional clothing.

Rahimy said the exhibition represents all Afghans and hopes the intricate jewelry, daggers, pottery and lamps will teach visitors about the culture of his homeland.

“It is in my blood. All those items you see are very precious to me,” he said, adding that he hopes he can bring musicians from Afghanistan to perform during the world fair.

However commercial flights to Afghanistan have been suspended for months due to security concerns. Some visitors were not expecting to find Afghanistan at the Expo.

“I am surprised because of the political situation in Afghanistan,” said 59-year-old Alka Goyal from Bhopal in India.

Source: Al Arabiya

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Lebanon pauses amid tense calm after deadly gun battles

15 October ,2021

Schools, banks and government offices across Lebanon shut down Friday after hours of gun battles between heavily armed militias killed six people and terrorized the residents of Beirut.

The government called for a day of mourning following the armed clashes, in which gunmen used automatic weapons and rocket-propelled grenades on the streets of the capital, echoing the nation’s darkest era of the 1975-90 civil war. The gun battles raised the specter of a return to sectarian violence in a country already struggling through one of the world’s worst economic crises of the past 150 years.

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The violence broke out Thursday at a protest organized by two parties - Hezbollah and the Amal Movement - calling for the removal of the lead judge investigating last year’s massive explosion at Beirut port. Many of the protesters had been armed. It was not clear who fired the first shot, but the confrontation quickly devolved into heavy exchanges of gunfire along a former civil war frontline separating predominantly Muslim and Christian areas of Beirut.

Gunfire echoed for hours, and ambulances rushed to pick up casualties. Snipers shot from buildings. Bullets penetrated apartment windows in the area. Schools were evacuated and residents hid in shelters.

The two groups said their protesters came under fire from snipers deployed over rooftops, accusing the Christian right-wing Lebanese Forces militia of starting the shooting. Among the dead were two Hezbollah fighters.

On Friday, residents in the Tayouneh area of Beirut were most of the fighting played out, swept glass from the streets in front of shops and apartment buildings. Soldiers guarded the entrance to the battered neighborhood, and barbed wire was erected at street entrances. Many cars were damaged.

Tayouneh has a huge roundabout that separates Christian and Muslim neighborhoods. Newly pockmarked buildings sat next to ones scarred from the days of the civil war.

Hezbollah and Amal were holding funerals for their dead later Friday.

Tensions over the port blast have contributed to Lebanon’s many troubles, including a currency collapse, hyperinflation, soaring poverty and an energy crisis leading to extended electricity blackouts.

The probe centers on hundreds of tons of ammonium nitrate that were improperly stored at a port warehouse that detonated on Aug. 4, 2020. The blast killed at least 215 people, injured thousands and destroyed parts of nearby neighborhoods. It was one of the largest non-nuclear explosions in history and further devastated the country already beset with political divisions and financial woes.

Source: Al Arabiya

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Lebanon’s Beirut blast victims deserve justice, accountability needed: White House

15 October ,2021

The White House on Thursday called for a swift and transparent investigation into the Port of Beirut blast, hours after deadly clashes broke out in Beirut during a protest organized by Hezbollah.

The protest turned violent after Hezbollah and Amal Movement supporters marched toward the Justice Ministry to demand the removal of Judge Tarek Bitar, who is leading the investigation into the 2020 port blast, which killed over 200 and injured thousands more.

Source: Al Arabiya

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US urges ‘de-escalation of tensions’ in Lebanon

14 October ,2021

The US on Thursday urged an easing of tensions in Lebanon after deadly violence in Beirut sparked fears of a return to sectarian strife.

“We join Lebanese authorities in their call for calm, their calls for a de-escalation of tensions,” State Department spokesman Ned Price told reporters.

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At least six people were killed after shots were fired at a demonstration by the Shiite Muslim movements Hezbollah and Amal, who were rallying against a judge investigating a massive blast last year at the Beirut port.

The US declined comment on who was responsible but reiterated its criticism of Hezbollah, an Iranian-backed group which Washington considers a terrorist group.

“The future of Lebanon’s democracy depends on the ability of its citizens to address the difficult issues with confidence in the rule of law,” Price said.

Source: Al Arabiya

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Top US Republican hits out at Hezbollah, voices concern over situation in Lebanon

14 October ,2021

The top Republican senator on the US Senate Foreign Relations committee voiced concern Thursday over the deteriorating situation in Lebanon, calling on Hezbollah to take its hands off the Beirut blast investigation.

“I am concerned by increasing levels of instability & attempts to curb judicial independence in #Lebanon,” Senator Jim Risch tweeted.

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Earlier Thursday, Hezbollah and Amal Movement protesters marched toward the Justice Ministry to demand the removal of the judge leading the Beirut blast investigations.

Shortly after, unidentified gunmen fired at the Hezbollah and Amal supporters burning pictures of Judge Tarek Bitar and claiming the US ambassador backed him.

This ensued in deadly clashes between the gunmen and scores of armed men from Hezbollah and Amal.

The Shiite duo accused the right-wing Lebanese Forces of being behind the shootings. The latter put out a statement denying any involvement.

Source: Al Arabiya

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Lebanese army arrests nine people after Beirut violence

14 October ,2021

Lebanon’s army said on Thursday it arrested nine people, including a Syrian, after violence erupted earlier in the day in Beirut, leaving at least six killed and dozens wounded.

Source: Al Arabiya

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Lebanese Forces party denies involvement in Beirut violence

14 October ,2021

The Lebanese Forces (LF) denied on Thursday any involvement in Thursday’s shootings in Beirut, after the Iran-backed Shia Muslim group Hezbollah had said the Christian party was to blame.

Source: Al Arabiya

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Saudi Arabia expresses hope for stability in Lebanon following violent clashes

15 October ,2021

Saudi Arabia has expressed its hope for the stability of Lebanon and support for the Lebanese people following violent clashes on Thursday, the Kingdom’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement carried by the Saudi Press Agency.

“The Kingdom aspires for Lebanon to prevail in peace and security by ending the possession and use of weapons outside the framework of the state and strengthening the Lebanese state for the benefit of all Lebanese without exception,” the statement said.

“The brotherly Lebanese people deserve stability in their homeland, growth in their economy, and security that dispels terrorism.”

At least six people were killed when protests by the Iran-backed Hezbollah and ally Amal movement against the judge leading a probe of the Beirut port blast turned violent.

Snipers fired from rooftops at the protesters, who Hezbollah claimed were members of the Christian Lebanese Forces party.

Source: Al Arabiya

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Arab Coalition intercepts Houthi drone headed for Saudi Arabia’s Jazan

14 October ,2021

The Arab Coalition has intercepted and destroyed a booby-trapped drone launched by Iran-backed Houthis towards Saudi Arabia’s Jazan, the Saudi Press Agency (SPA) reported on Thursday.

Since January, Yemen’s Houthis have increased their attacks on the Kingdom, launching several cross-border aerial attacks on Saudi Arabia.

A previous drone attack launched by the Houthis on Friday injured ten people including six Saudis, three Bangladeshi nationals and one Sudanese. The explosive-laden drone struck King Abdullah airport in the Saudi city of Jazan, according to the Arab Coalition.

The attack caused material damage to the airport and shattered windows due to the attack.

Source: Al Arabiya

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Southeast Asia


Malaysian Family needs to be translated into democracy practice, govt policy — analyst

10- 14- 2021

KUALA LUMPUR: ‘Family’ is a term that is easy to translate and has a meaning that is very close to each individual, as well as the most important foundation in building a society.

On the broader scope, especially when the country is struggling to recover from the impact of Covid-19 pandemic, the introduction of the Malaysian Family concept is seen as appropriate in the context of national well-being which highlights the noble family values such as tolerance, empathy, love and sacrifice.

The Malaysian Family, which is based on three main characteristics, namely inclusivity, common ground and contentment was introduced by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob in his maiden speech as Malaysia’s ninth Prime Minister on Aug 22.

Such a concept is not something out of the ordinary, in fact Malaysia has seen various administrative concepts with their own themes or slogans introduced by each prime minister and government, including ‘New Malaysia’ during the Pakatan Harapan government era, ‘1Malaysia’ concept (Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak) and ‘Islam Hadhari’ (Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi).

Citing Ismail Sabri’s speech at the soft launch of Malaysian Family on Oct 8, the Prime Minister said the idea was chosen because a family will always uphold religious principles, ensure safety, protect the dignity and care for the wellbeing of its member.

“In the context of a nation, we are the Malaysian Family made which comprises people of different faiths, races, ethnicities and age groups, but despite the different religious, racial and cultural backgrounds, we celebrate the inclusivity, upholding the spirit of Malaysia as a nation-state.

“The inclusivity that we celebrate is the seed that will grow in the heart of every one of us. It is a valuable asset that must be protected. Every value of this family is an important component that will determine the fate of this country,” said Ismail Sabri.

Translating the conceptual framework of the Malaysian Family, a professor at the Faculty of Administrative Science and Policy Studies, Universiti Teknologi MARA (UiTM), Prof Datuk Dr Nasrudin Mohammed opined that elements in the concept can also be considered as government efforts in addressing the question of democracy.

He said it was an effort to minimise political differences between various parties in the country which was expected to ease political pressure whether at the individual, party or government level and work collectively to prioritise harmony in all situations.

Therefore, for the Malaysian Family to succeed, the basic elements of life must be strengthened in the family institution itself and supported by the government through public policy (related to social development) as well as constantly improved practical and realistic fiscal policy for the people.

Source: The Sun Daily

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Malaysia says it won't compromise on demands for Myanmar progress

15 Oct 2021

KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 15 ― Malaysia does not want Myanmar's junta chief to attend an upcoming Southeast Asian leaders' summit if he fails to honour his commitment to a peace plan, its foreign minister said today, ahead of a meeting to decide on a regional response.

Minister Datuk Seri Saifuddin Abdullah, said he was informed that Erywan Yusof, a special envoy for the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean), planned to visit Myanmar next week, and the bloc's foreign ministers would hold a virtual meeting today to assess the junta's commitment to the peace process.

Myanmar's military seized power in a February 1 coup led by Senior General Min Aung Hlaing, which ended a decade of tentative democracy and triggered a backlash that has plunged the country into chaos.

“This evening we will be looking at the details of the proposed visit,” he told a news conference.

“If there is no real progress then Malaysia's stand would remain that we do not want the general to be attending the summit. No compromise on that.”

Myanmar has been one of Asean's most divisive issues since it joined the bloc in 1997 as a military dictatorship lambasted by the West for its iron-fisted rule, testing Asean's unity and denting its international credibility.

The exclusion of Min Aung Hlaing, though not formally recognised as an Asean leader, would be a big step for the bloc, which has a policy of non-interference in each other's affairs and has long favoured engagement over punitive measures.

Min Aung Hlaing in April agreed to a five-point Asean plan that the group called a “consensus” on a way out of the deadly turmoil in Myanmar since the military overthrew Aung San Suu Kyi, alleging fraud in an election her party won in a landslide.

The commitment includes dialogue with all parties, humanitarian access and a cessation of all hostilities.

Losing patience

Several Asean members have expressed exasperation with the junta's failure to follow the plan, which the United Nations, China and United States initially supported.

Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia have indicated they were in favour of excluding Min Aung Hlaing from the October 26-28 virtual summit, but were pushing for an Asean consensus, three sources with knowledge of the issue told Reuters this week.

Saifuddin today said without a consensus, there was no protocol for excluding an Asean member. However, he believed there would be a solution.

Source: Malay Mail

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Sabah to allow Friday, obligatory prayers with 50pc mosque, surau capacity

14 Oct 2021

KOTA KINABALU, Oct 14 — The Sabah government has decided to allow Friday and obligatory prayers with a congregation of 50 per cent capacity of the mosque or surau, starting tomorrow.

Sabah Local Government and Housing Minister Datuk Masidi Manjun said the decision made at the State Disaster Management Committee meeting on mosque and surau activities yesterday, also stipulated compliance with standard operating procedures (SOP) including one-metre social distancing.

“Fully vaccinated individuals are given priority,” said Masidi, who is also the spokesperson for the development of Covid-19 Sabah, in a statement tonight.

Masidi said mosque and surau activities such as maghrib lectures, dhuha lectures, religious classes and the like are also allowed according to the capacities set, while marriage ceremonies are allowed to be held in halls or designated spaces of the mosque.

“Funeral management and grave visits are also allowed with not more than 30 people. Muslims are also advised to fully comply with the SOPs set by the National Security Council and the state authorities from time to time to break the chain of infection of the Covid-19 pandemic,” he said.

Source: Malay Mail

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Indonesia tackles call to prayer volume backlash

October 14, 2021

JAKARTA: Every night at 3am, Rina is jolted awake by blaring speakers so loud she has developed an anxiety disorder: she can’t sleep, she’s too nauseous to eat — but she is also too scared to complain because doing so could see her jailed or attacked.

The noisy neighbour is the local mosque in her Jakarta suburb, and the clamorous sound is the call to prayer.

Both are so sacred in Indonesia, the world’s biggest Muslim majority nation, that criticising them can lead to accusations of blasphemy, a crime punishable by as much as five years imprisonment.

“None dares to complain about it here,” says Rina, a 31-year-old Muslim woman who is using a pseudonym in case of reprisals.

“The loudspeakers are not only used for call to prayer but they also use it to wake people up 30-40 minutes before the morning prayer time,” she tells AFP, adding that she is at breaking point after enduring the noise for six months.

Online complaints about noisy loudspeakers are increasing, but the lack of anonymity and fear of a backlash means there are no reliable official statistics.

Aware of the growing discord, the Indonesian Mosque Council (IMC) is deploying teams to tackle mosque sound systems around the nation — but it’s a delicate subject.

The Southeast Asian archipelago was once hailed for its religious tolerance with people of many faiths living alongside each other, but there are concerns its moderate brand of Islam is coming under threat from hardliners.

In 2018, a Buddhist woman was jailed after saying the call to prayer “hurt my ears”, and earlier this year actress and influencer Zaskia Mecca, who has 19 million followers on Instagram, was condemned online after the hijab-wearing Muslim criticised mosque speaker volume during the holy month of Ramadan.

Symbol of greatness

Around the Islamic world, the broadcast of the call to prayer and sermons via external loudspeakers are regarded as a key pillar of Muslim identity, but the issue is deeply divisive.

In June, authorities in Saudi Arabia ordered mosques to limit the volume of their external loudspeakers to one-third of their maximum capacity, citing concerns over noise pollution. There was an immediate backlash.

There are around 750,000 mosques across Indonesia — a medium sized venue could have at least a dozen external loudspeakers that blare the call to prayer five times a day.

For Rina the nightly interruptions are impacting her health.

“I started having insomnia, and I was diagnosed with anxiety disorders after always being woken up. Now I am trying to make myself as tired as possible, so I can sleep through the noise,” she explains.

Indonesian Mosque Council chairman Jusuf Kalla estimates around half the nation’s mosques have poor acoustics, which exacerbates the noise problem.

“There is a tendency to set the volume high so that the call to prayer can be heard by as many worshippers as possible from far away because they consider it a symbol of greatness in Islam,” explained the IMC’s acoustics programme coordinator Azis Muslim.

The organisation is battling to minimise community tension with a free door-to-door service to repair sound systems and offer training — some 7,000 technicians work on the project and have already fixed the audio at more than 70,000 mosques.

Although the programme is not mandatory, Jakarta’s Al-Ihkwan mosque chairman Ahmad Taufik used it because he wanted to ensure social harmony.

“The sound is softer now. That way it will not disturb people in the neighbourhood, not to mention we have a hospital behind the mosque,” he says.

‘Reporting it brings disaster’

But it has long been a contentious issue.

Then vice-president Boediono, who like many Indonesians uses one name, faced condemnation when he suggested the volume of the call to prayer be restricted in 2012.

Five years ago, hundreds of protesters torched nearly a dozen Buddhist temples in North Sumatra’s Tanjung Balai after Meiliana, who is of Chinese descent and also goes by one name, criticised the volume of the call to prayer.

The mother-of-four was jailed for 18 months in 2018.

Source: Free Malaysia Today

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Turkey ready to help, but will not recognise Taliban

October 15, 2021

ANKARA: Turkey said on Thursday it was ready to help the Taliban overcome Afghanistan’s humanitarian crisis, but would not recognise its rule as it hosted the war-scarred country’s new leaders for the first time.

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu received his acting counterpart Amir Khan Muttaqi as the movement seeks to gain international legitimacy upon returning to power after two decades of war.

Muttaqi arrived in Turkey following talks with US and European envoys in Doha during which he warned that Western sanctions on the Taliban threatened to further undermine security in Afghanistan.

Cavusoglu supported that message after the closed-door talks in Ankara.

“We have told the international community about the importance of engagement with the current Taliban administration. In fact, recognition and engagement are two different things,” Cavusoglu said.

“The Afghan economy should not collapse. Therefore, we have said the countries that froze Afghanistan’s accounts abroad should act more flexibly so that salaries can be paid.”

The World Bank halted its funding projects in Afghanistan after the Taliban swept back to power in August.

Turkey has sought to use its position as the only Muslim-majority member of the Nato defence alliance to secure a greater role in Afghanistan after the US troop withdrawal.

But its offer to provide security for Kabul’s airport — the main point of access for humanitarian aid — has been rejected by Taliban leaders and the sides made no apparent progress on the issue during their most high-level talk to date.

Cavusoglu said he reaffirmed to Muttaqi that ensuring security at the airport was vital before regular flights could resume.

Source: Dawn

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Official: Iran Not to Tolerate Presence of Terrorists in Region


Iran is strongly opposed to provocative acts and deployment of terrorists in the region, Montazeri said in the meeting in Yerevan on Wednesday.

He said that Iran is eager to expand relations with Armenia as it seeks further enhanced relations with neighboring countries.

The prosecutor-general conveyed warm greetings of President Ebrahim Rayeesi to the Armenian prime minister.   

Pashiniyan, for his part, said that Armenia is ready to boost judicial relations with Iran to the highest levels.

He added that the visit to Yerevan by the Iranian prosecutor-general provides a chance for the expansion of such relations between the two neighboring countries.

Referring to a recent meeting he had with President Rayeesi on the sidelines of a Shanghai Cooperation Organization Summit in Dushanbe, Pashiniyan stressed the need for implementing the already reached agreements between the two sides. 

Pashiniyan and Montazeri also discussed the latest developments in the region.

Iranian officials have underscored seriousness in confronting the terrorist groups in the region and inside Iran.

In a relevant development in mid september, Iranian security forces identified and disbanded a terrorist cell affiliated to the foreign spy agencies, the intelligence ministry announced in a statement on Wednesday.

The security and intelligence forces dismantled the terrorist team in an operation while it was attempting to carry out acts of sabotage and terrorist attacks against Iran’s vital and sensitive centers, the statement said.

It added that more information about the terrorist team will be provided to people in the near future.

Also, in July, the Iranian security forces had also dismantled a terrorist group affiliated to the Israeli spy agency, Mossad, and captured its members.

“A network of agents of the Zionist regime (Mossad) has been dismantled and captured along with a large shipment of weapons and ammunition after arriving at the western border posts of the country,” the director-general of the Intelligence Ministry for Counter-Espionage Operation said.

Source: Fars News Agency

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Israeli troops kill Palestinian throwing fire-bomb, military says

15 October ,2021

Israeli soldiers shot and killed a Palestinian man who was throwing fire-bombs at cars near a Jewish settlement in the occupied West Bank on Thursday, the military said.

The Palestinian liaison office confirmed the man was killed and that another Palestinian was arrested by the troops. It provided no further details.

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The military wrote on Twitter that the two suspects hurled a fire-bomb at a road leading to an Israeli settlement bloc near the Palestinian city of Bethlehem, endangering drivers.

Soldiers nearby acted “in order to thwart the threat,” the military said, and opened fire at the two men. One of the two was wounded and received medical treatment at the scene but succumbed to his wounds, the military said. The other man was arrested.

Source: Al Arabiya

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Pro-Iran militias warn of forceful response after Israeli strike on Syria’s Palmyra

14 October ,2021

Iran-backed forces in Syria said on Thursday they would respond forcefully to an Israeli strike over Syria’s Palmyra area in the province of Homs on Wednesday evening in the second such strike within a week.

The Syrian defense ministry said in a statement that one soldier was killed in the attack that took place at 11:34 p.m. (2034 GMT) and targeted a communications tower and caused some material losses.

Israel has kept silent about the strikes that came days after Damascus reported its air defenses intercepted an Israeli missile attack above the Homs countryside, wounding six Syrian soldiers and causing some material damage.

Israeli missiles flew over Jordanian airspace above US forces based in the Tanf area at the Syrian-Iraqi border, the Syrian defense ministry statement said.

The latest strikes are part of an escalation of what has been a low-intensity conflict in recent years that has seen hundreds of Israeli raids whose goal was to slow down Iran’s growing entrenchment in Syria, Israeli and regional military experts say.

Tehran-backed forces including Lebanon’s Hezbollah have built a presence since deploying to help President Bashar al-Assad in the Syrian conflict that erupted in 2011.

A statement by the so-called operations room of Assad’s Iran-backed allies said the response to the strike would be “very cruel,” adding casualties would have been much higher had its forces not been well spread across the desert area.

“As a result of this attack a number of martyrs and injured from our Mujahedeen brothers have fallen,” the statement said without elaborating.

“We have taken a decision to respond to this attack in revenge for the martyrs and the blood of the injured and the response will be very cruel,” said the statement published on pro-Iranian news outlets whose authenticity Reuters verified.

A senior military source who requested anonymity said the strikes hit among other targets the T4 air base where Iran-backed militias launched drone strikes in recent months against US bases in northern Syria.

Source: Al Arabiya

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Iran, Pakistan Discuss Ways to Enhance Naval Cooperation


General Baqeri and Admiral Amjad Niazi exchanged views on issues of mutual interest, the latest state of fraternal relations between Iran and Pakistan, including the level of cooperation between the two countries' navies.

The two sides discussed maritime security in the region and a wide range of other security developments.

Over the past two days, General Baqeri held meetings and consultations with the Pakistani political and military leaders. He met with Army Chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee General Nadeem Reza, and Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan.

In these meetings, the latest situation of the relations between the two countries in the military, security, strategic dimensions, and strategies for the development of these relations were reviewed.

Source: Fars News Agency

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Iran Warns UNSC about Israel’s Threats


Takht Ravanchi in a letter submitted to the current president of the Security Council on Wednesday cautioned of a sharp increase in Israeli threats against the country, warning against any “miscalculation” or “military adventurism” on the part of the regime against the Islamic Republic, including its nuclear program.

He also warned that the frequency and severity of the regime’s provocative and adventurous threats had steadily increased over the past months and reached an alarming level.

Such blatant systematic threats against one of the founding members of the United Nations are a gross violation of international law, in particular Article 2 (4) of the United Nations Charter, Takht Ravanchi added.

As a case in point, the diplomat referred the recent comments by Israeli Military Chief Aviv Kochavi who said earlier this month that the regime was in constant preparations for an attack on the Iranian nuclear program.

Kochav had said that “the operational plans against Iran’s nuclear program will continue to evolve and improve,” and that “operations to destroy Iranian capabilities will continue, in any arena and at any time”.

The fact that the Tel Aviv regime continues to try to “destroy Iran’s capabilities” proves without any doubt that it had been responsible for terrorist attacks against Iran’s peaceful nuclear program in the past, Takht Ravanchi said.

Given the ominous history of the Israeli regime’s destabilizing practices in the region and its covert operations against Iran’s nuclear program, it is necessary to counter the regime and stop all its threats and disruptive behavior, the diplomat added.

Iran’s Representative to the UN General Assembly First Committee Heidar Ali Balouji had also said at a Wednesday session on “Nuclear Weapons, Other WMDs, Outer Space, and Conventional Weapons” that the Israeli regime is the main hurdle to a Middle East free of nuclear weapons.

“We reiterate our call on the international community to compel Israel to dismantle its nuclear arsenal, promptly accede to the NPT as a non-nuclear-weapon party without any preconditions and place all of its nuclear facilities under the IAEA’s full-scope safeguards,” he said.

He described the Islamic Republic as one of the countries “with the highest record in accession to the international instruments banning” weapons of mass destruction (WMDs).

“Achieving global nuclear disarmament remains one of the most long-lasting goals of the United Nations. Today, international security is under threat by the existence of almost 14,000 nuclear weapons with well-funded, long-term plans to not only modernize but also strengthen the arsenals of NWSs (nuclear weapons states) and so nuclear arms race,” he said.

He said the US withdrawal from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty and its unwillingness to return to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action — the 2015 nuclear agreement signed between Iran and major world powers — have inflicted immense damage on international disarmament measures.

The diplomat said chemical weapons remain a grave concern, with the US as the only possessor, urging Washington to meet a 2012 deadline for the destruction of its stockpile of such weapons.

Source: Fars News Agency

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Iran Reiterates Need for S. Korea to Return Frozen Money


Baqeri Kani said on Wednesday that he had pressed South Korea’s First Vice Foreign Minister Choi Jong Kun in a phone conversation held earlier in the day for a repatriation of the funds held in two South Korean banks for more than three years.

“I reminded him (Choi) that only an effective and quick action to remove restrictions on Iranian funds in South Korea and compensating the costs incurred could effectively repair this country’s tarnished image among the Iranian people,” he wrote on his twitter page on Wednesday.

South Korea owes Iran over $7bln for imports of energy that took place before the US imposed its unilateral sanctions on Tehran in mid-2018.

Seoul says US sanctions on Iran effectively bars transactions involving the funds while authorities in the East Asian country insist they are waiting for a new agreement between Iran and world powers to revive a 2015 nuclear agreement that could allow the funds to release.

However, South Korea’s full compliance with US secondary sanctions, which can only apply to US citizens and those having businesses in the US, has caused public uproar in Iran with calls increasing for a boycott on electronic products and home appliances manufactured in South Korea.

The Iranian government announced an outright ban on imports of home appliances earlier this month after it emerged that import companies were preparing to place orders for new shipments from two major South Korean brands.

Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir Abdollahian underlined that South Korea must swiftly provide the Islamic Republic access to the funds that Seoul has been withholding from Tehran on the pretext of abiding by the US sanctions.

The Iranian foreign minister made the remarks in a telephone conversation with his South Korean counterpart Chung Eui-yong on Thursday.

Amir Abdollahian voiced Iran's strong criticism to the continued freezing of the Iranian funds at South Korea’s banks.

The top Iranian diplomat reiterated that the money should be released so the Islamic Republic in a bid that the country could use it towards buying medicine and other commodities.

"The Iranian nation is seriously displeased with the situation that has been brought about as a result of cessation of trade activities between the countries—on the back of the American economic measures—and prevention of application of the funds even towards purchase of humanitarian items," Amir Abdollahian said.

Chung, for his part, said that he was pursuing the issue of Iran’s access to the frozen funds.

Source: Fars News Agency

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Iran’s Top General Meets Pakistani PM, High-Ranking Military Officials


General Baqeri, who is in Pakistan on an official visit, held talks with Imran Khan on Wednesday to discuss a host of issues, including bilateral relations.

During the meeting, Imran Khan pointed to his last month’s meeting with Iranian President Ebrahim Rayeesi on the sidelines of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization in the Tajik capital of Dushanbe, and reaffirmed Islamabad’s commitment to further bolster ties with Tehran, in border, economic, military and security issues.

The top Iranian General, for his part, described as significant his meetings earlier in the day with Pakistani Chief of the Army Staff of Pakistan Army General Qamar Javed Bajwa. 

General Baqeri said that Tehran and Islamabad needed to shore up their close cooperation, adding that the two neighbors have witnessed significant progress in relations over the past years.

The two sides also conferred on major regional developments, including in Afghanistan.

The Pakistani premier stressed that there is no military solution to Afghanistan’s problems, calling for the formation of an inclusive government comprising of all Afghan groups.

General Baqeri had also earlier exchanged views with General Bajwa on a range of issues such as defense ties between the two neighboring countries.

The two generals met in the Pakistani city of Rawalpindi on Wednesday.

During the meeting, they expressed confidence in the growing trend of military, security and border interactions between Iran and Pakistan in recent years and vowed to advance their contacts.

They also reviewed the latest developments in bilateral relations, defense ties and regional developments, including Afghanistan.

Also on Wednesday, General Baqeri and Chairman of Pakistan’s Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee General Nadeem Raza have discussed regional developments, the situation in Afghanistan, strengthening of defense relations between the two countries and border cooperation.

Source: Fars News Agency

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Islamic State's West Africa chief is dead, Nigeria's top general reveals

14 October, 2021

Nigeria's top general said on Thursday that Abu Musab Al-Barnawi, leader of the insurgent group Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP) group, was dead.

ISWAP is an offshoot of the Boko Haram insurgent group that has been fighting against the Nigerian armed forces for 12 years. The two militant groups later turned on each other.

The conflict between the insurgents and Nigeria's armed forces, which has also spread to neighbouring Chad and Cameroon, has left about 300,000 dead and millions dependent on aid.

"I can authoritatively confirm to you that Abu Musab is dead," Lucky Irabor, the chief of defence staff, told reporters at the presidential villa in Abuja, without elaborating.

Al-Barnawi was originally part of Boko Haram, led by Abubakar Shekau, who pledged allegiance to Islamic State in 2015. But the following year Islamic State named Al-Barnawi as its leader in West Africa.

Shekau rejected his demotion and the two groups split, with Al-Barnawi moving his ISWAP fighters to the shores of Lake Chad, where they became the dominant insurgency.

In June this year, Al-Barnawi announced in an audio recording that his rival Shekau had died after detonating an explosive device while being pursued by ISWAP fighters following a battle.

Since Shekau's death, the Nigerian armed forces say that thousands of Boko Haram fighters have surrendered to them.

Source: The New Arab

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US-Kenya partnership 'essential' for region: Biden

Michael Gabriel Hernandez  



The US-Kenya strategic partnership is "essential" for addressing regional and global challenges, President Joe Biden said Thursday amid a crisis in Ethiopia.

Biden thanked Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta for Nairobi's "leadership in defending the peace, security and democratic instincts of the region and your country" while hosting him at the White House.

"You're doing a heck of a job," he told Kenyatta in brief remarks before reporters ahead of their bilateral meeting behind closed doors.

The leaders are slated to use their first in-person meeting to discuss a series of issues, including "efforts to defend democracy and human rights, advance peace and security, accelerate economic growth and tackle climate change," the White House said Tuesday when it announced the meeting.

In particular, the escalating crisis in neighboring Ethiopia will feature prominently in the bilateral discussions, with a senior administration official telling reporters on a conference call previewing the meeting that "Kenya can play an important role" in "de-escalating" the conflict in Ethiopia.

"Kenya is key to ensuring domestic stability and peace and security, both in Somalia and in Ethiopia, in particular," the official said. "And as President Kenyatta sort of stated publicly at the Security Council the other day, he is calling for all parties to come to the table to negotiate to end the fighting, to allow for humanitarian access to the people of northern Ethiopia and Tigray."

Kenya holds the UN Security Council presidency for the month of October.

The US has threatened all parties to that conflict with sanctions unless they come to the negotiating table to broker a peace deal, but the warning has so far been ignored, with Ethiopian government forces launching an offensive on Tigrayan forces in the Amhara region.

Source: Anadolu Agency

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Kenyan serial killer lynched by mob

Andrew Wasike  


A 20-year-old serial killer who confessed to killing over 10 children has been beaten to death by an angry mob in Kenya.

Police confirmed to the media on Friday that Masten Wanjala Milimu who escaped from a police jail in Nairobi on Wednesday was lynched by a mob in his hometown of Bungoma, Western Kenya, 418 kilometers (260 miles) from the capital Nairobi.

Bungoma County Police Commander Musyoki Mutungi told reporters that the suspect sneaked into his parents’ home but neighbors noticed him. “He was captured by the mob and lynched at around 7 a.m. (0400GMT) today. His body is still at the scene and we have deployed security agents all over the place,” he added.

It is still unclear how the serial killer escaped from his cell in the Jogoo Road Police Station in Nairobi, but three police officers have been arrested over his escape.

Source: Anadolu Agency

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5 soldiers killed in suspected bandits attack in Nigeria

Ibrahim Garba Shuaibu


KANO, Nigeria

Suspected armed bandits killed five soldiers in an ambush on their vehicle in Nigeria's northwestern Zamfara state, an official confirmed on Thursday.

The incident occurred in the Wanzamai community in the state's Tsafe Local Government Area, which is just 60 kilometers (about 37 miles) south of Gusau, the state capital, which has previously been the target of bandit attacks.

State Commissioner for Information Ibrahim Dosara confirmed the incident but refused to reveal the number of fatalities.

Local media reports claim that the criminals attacked the soldiers' vehicles and fled with their firearms.

The Nigerian military has yet to issue a statement.

Locals said the vehicular movement was disrupted for some time along the 100-kilometer (62-mile) Gusau-Funtua road.

Source: Anadolu Agency

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