New Age Islam
Tue Aug 11 2020, 02:47 PM

Islamic World News ( 20 Dec 2017, NewAgeIslam.Com)

Indonesian Police Warn Islamists against Raids in Search of Santa Hats













Photo: Mobile brigade policemen on motorbikes ride through the business district ahead of the Christmas and New Year celebrations in Jakarta, Indonesia, December 21, 2017. REUTERS/Beawiharta Reuters

 

Pak Army Chief Urges Lawmakers to Improve Relations with India

Saudi Bombers Continue Massacring Civilians in Yemen

Islamic Funding Becomes More Attractive For the Non-Muslim World

Generalising About Britain's Grooming Gangs Scapegoats Muslim Communities

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Southeast Asia

Indonesian Police Warn Islamists against Raids in Search of Santa Hats

St Hilda's Church Caretaker Jailed For Setting Fire To Room, Trying To Mislead Police With 'Jihad' Note

Ottomans safeguarded Palestine: leading Muslim scholar

IlhamAliyev: Azerbaijan greatly contributes to Islamic solidarity

Muslim world not to tolerate another Balfour

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Pakistan

Pak Army Chief Urges Lawmakers to Improve Relations with India

Pakistan Denies 'Forced' Conversion of Sikhs to Islam

FO warns against 'malicious campaign' trivialising Pakistan's counter-terrorism efforts

No headway in govt-jirga talks on Fata reforms

Shahbaz to be PML-N's next candidate for prime minister: Nawaz Sharif

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Arab World

Saudi Bombers Continue Massacring Civilians in Yemen

Houthis Launch 83 Missiles at Saudi Arabia, Arab Coalition

US Army Continues to Rescue ISIL Militants in DeirEzzur

Saudi Arabia Loosens Grip on Yemen, Opens Port to Aid

Saudi Forces Kill Shia Activist in Qatif

Since Aleppo, year of victories for Syria regime

Syrian Army Advances in Al-Nusra Stronghold in Southeastern Aleppo

Zero Hour Arriving for Syrian Army Operations against Al-Nusra's Strategic Base in Northern Hama

Notorious Al-Nusra Commander Killed in Southwestern Damascus

The Yemenis trapped between war and US extreme vetting

Tens of Militants Surrender to Syrian Army in Homs Province

Syrian Army, Turkey-Backed Militants Clash over Key Town in Aleppo

Turkey-Backed Terrorist Group Emerging in Northern Syria

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Mideast

Islamic Funding Becomes More Attractive For the Non-Muslim World

‘Mr. Trump, You Can’t Buy Turkey’s Democratic Will’ – Erdogan on Jerusalem UN Vote

Nearly 500 Palestinians Detained by Israeli Forces since US President Decision on Jerusalem

Iran, Turkey Stress Facilitation of Confidence-Building Moves by Syrian Gov't, Opposition

Ankara-Backed Militants Killed, Wounded in Clashes with Kurds in Northern Aleppo

Historian discusses Turkey’s ties with subcontinent’s Muslims

South Africa to Downgrade Diplomatic Status in Israel

Turkish PM Calls Rohingya Killings in Myanmar 'Genocide'

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Europe

Generalising About Britain's Grooming Gangs Scapegoats Muslim Communities

Dutch Police Will Set Aside Headscarf Ruling In Case Brought By Muslim Officer

Work of British Muslim charities is underestimated, say MPs

Russian MoD Denies Allegations of Strikes in Syria's Idlib

Russian President: Security Services Foil over 60 Terror Attacks in 2017

Green light for Muslim free school to move into former Hackney police station

Suspect in London Finsbury Park mosque attack pleads not guilty

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South Asia

What is the Rationale behind Hekmatyar’s Provocative Ethnic Remarks?

Jamiat-E-Islami Sets Conditions To Accept Noor’s Removal As Balkh Governor

New political coalition reacts at President Ghani’s step against Balkh governor

Afghan Air Force to receive second batch of Black Hawk helicopters

India mulls buying more Mi-35 gunships for the Afghan forces

Afghan govt reacts at recent Houthis missile attack on Saudi capital

Taliban shadow district governor killed by own mine in Kunduz

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North America

Trump Threatens Funding Cuts Ahead Of Jerusalem Vote

Islamic Call Center in Latin America condemns Houthi militias' launching a ballistic missile on Riyadh

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India

Minorities Commission Celebrates UN Minority Day

Pakistan to Release 291 Indian Fishermen on Humanitarian Grounds

Uttar Pradesh: Muslim man in Meerut accused of 'land jihad' for buying house in Hindu locality

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Africa

South Africa's ANC Decides On Israel Embassy Downgrade Ahead Of Jerusalem Vote

Let us stand for religious freedom for all Alabamians

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau

URL: http://newageislam.com/islamic-world-news/new-age-islam-news-bureau/indonesian-police-warn-islamists-against-raids-in-search-of-santa-hats/d/113647

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Indonesian Police Warn Islamists Against Raids in Search of Santa Hats

Dec. 21, 2017

JAKARTA (Reuters) - Indonesian police appealed on Thursday for tolerance and respect for other people's religious celebrations after an Islamist group threatened to raid businesses to check for Muslims being forced to wear Santa Claus hats or other Christmas garb.

The hardline Islamic Defenders Front (FPI) said this week it would conduct "sweeping operations" in the world's biggest Muslim-majority country, and that forcing Muslims to wear Christmas attire was a violation of their human rights.

Indonesia is home to several religious minorities, including Christians, Hindus, Buddhists and people who follow traditional beliefs.

The constitution guarantees freedom of religion in an officially secular state though tension between followers of different faiths can flare.

"There can be no sweeping operations ... members of the public should respect other religions that are carrying out celebrations," national police chief Tito Karnavian told police during a security exercise in the capital, Jakarta.

The FPI said it aimed to enforce a fatwa, or decree, issued by Indonesia's Islamic Clerical Council in 2016 prohibiting business owners from forcing employees to wear Christmas clothing.

"We will raid businesses in anticipation of them being stubborn about this and we will be accompanied by police," said Novel Bakmukmin, head of the FPI's Jakarta capter.

Employers forcing staff to wear Christmas clothes were violating their rights.

"Businesses should be aware that there should be no forcing," he said.

Te Islamic Clerical Council's decrees are not legally binding but serve as guidelines for Indonesian Muslims.

Christmas is widely celebrated across Indonesia and holiday decorations are ubiquitous, especially at shops, restaurants and malls where many enthusiastic workers - even Muslims - don Santa hats or elf costumes.

The FPI built its reputation with raids on restaurants and bars serving alcohol during the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan.

In recent years, it has turned its attention to Christian celebrations.

The group has also said it wants the Jakarta city government to stop sponsoring New Year celebrations, which attract many thousands of people.

About 90,000 police officers will be on duty cross the country during the end-of-year holidays, in an operation largely aimed at preventing militant attacks.

Attacks on churches in Jakarta and elsewhere on Christmas Eve in 2000, killed nearly 20 people. Ever since, authorities have stepped up security at churches and tourist spots for the holiday.

(Reporting by DjohanWidjaya and Kanupriya Kapoor; Writing by Kanupriya Kapoor; Editing by Robert Birsel)

usnews.com/news/world/articles/2017-12-21/indonesian-police-warn-islamists-against-raids-in-search-of-santa-hats

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Pak army chief urges lawmakers to improve relations with India

Omer Farooq Khan | TNN | Dec 21, 2017, 06:09 IST

ISLAMABAD: In an extraordinary gesture, Pakistan army chief, General Qamar JavedBajwa, urged the country's lawmakers to try to improve relations with India, assuring them that their efforts would be fully backed by the Army. His address comes in the backdrop of sustained American emphasis to Pakistani leadership on mending ties with India.

"The military is ready to back political leadership's initiative for normalization of relations with India," Gen Bajwa told lawmakers at the senate committee of the whole House during his first appearance before a parliamentary forum on Tuesday.

Gen Bajwa was invited by senate chairman Raza Rabbani and was accompanied by Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) chief Naveed Mukhtar. Top military officers, Major General SahirShamshad Mirza and Major General AsimMunir. The session continued for nearly four-and-a-half hours.

Quoting senators, leading Pakistan daily Dawn said Gen Bajwa told legislators that he wants relations with all neighbours to be normalised and urged politicians to try to improve relations with India. He assured them that their efforts would be fully supported by the army. The army chief's offer was particularly significant given a general perception that the army was against peace efforts with India.

But Gen Bajwa said a large part of Indian military deployments was mostly against Pakistan. He also accused India of fomenting instability and terrorism in Pakistan, stating that New Delhi had developed a strong nexus with Afghan intelligence agency National Directorate of Security.

timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/pak-army-chief-urges-lawmakers-to-improve-relations-with-india/articleshow/62187182.cms

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Saudi Bombers Continue Massacring Civilians in Yemen

Thu Dec 21, 2017 1:27

Saudi warplanes targeted a school in the Northwestern city of Sa'ada, North of the capital Sana'a, on Wednesday afternoon, leaving 11 people, including women and children, dead and eight others injured, Local sources, speaking on condition of anonymity, told Al-Masirah television network.

Separately, two people lost their lives when Saudi bombers launched an aerial attack against Akwan area of al-Safra district in the province of Sa’ada.

Saudi Arabia has been striking Yemen since March 2015 to restore power to fugitive president Mansour Hadi, a close ally of Riyadh. The Saudi-led aggression has so far killed at least 15,300 Yemenis, including hundreds of women and children.

Despite Riyadh's claims that it is bombing the positions of the Ansarullah fighters, Saudi bombers are flattening residential areas and civilian infrastructures.

According to several reports, the Saudi-led air campaign against Yemen has driven the impoverished country towards humanitarian disaster, as Saudi Arabia's deadly campaign prevented the patients from travelling abroad for treatment and blocked the entry of medicine into the war-torn country.

The cholera outbreak in Yemen which began in April, has also claimed over 2,200 lives and has infected about one million people, as the nation has been suffering from what the World Health Organization (WHO) describes as the “largest epidemic in the world” amid a non-stop bombing campaign led by Saudi Arabia. Also Riyadh's deadly campaign prevented the patients from traveling abroad for treatment and blocked the entry of medicine into the war-torn country.

According to reports, the cholera epidemic in Yemen, which is the subject of a Saudi Arabian war and total embargo, is the largest recorded in modern history.

Aid officials have also warned of the spread of diphtheria in war-torn Yemen, as WHO and officials with the international medical charity Doctors Without Border, announced that the diphtheria spread is inevitable in Yemen due to low vaccination rates, lack of access to medical care and so many people moving around and coming in contact with those infected.

The United Nations had described the current level of hunger in Yemen as “unprecedented,” emphasizing that 17 million people are now food insecure in the country.

A recent survey showed that almost one third of families have gaps in their diets, and hardly ever consume foods like pulses, vegetables, fruit, dairy products or meat, while the humanitarian food aid is reaching only a third of Yemen’s population.

Aid agency CARE also declared that more than 22 million people in Yemen are in need of humanitarian aid, 7 million people face famine-like conditions.

More than 3 million pregnant and nursing women and children under 5 need support to prevent or cure malnutrition.

The United Nations has also warned that 8.4 million people in war-torn Yemen are “a step away from famine”, as Saudi Arabia and its allies are ceaselessly pounding the impoverished country.

"The lives of millions of people, including 8.4 million Yemenis who are a step away from famine, hinge on our ability to continue our operations and to provide health, safe water, shelter and nutrition support," Jamie McGoldrick, the UN's humanitarian coordinator for Yemen, said in a statement on Monday.

"The continuing blockade of ports is limiting supplies of fuel, food and medicines, dramatically increasing the number of vulnerable people who need help," he added.

The United Nations had warned that millions of people will die in Yemen, in what will be the world's worst famine crisis in decades, unless the Saudi-led military coalition ends its devastating blockade and allows aid into the country.

Aid agency CARE warned, as the country marks 1,000 days since conflict began, Yemen risks sliding into famine and further disease outbreaks unless all the country’s ports are fully reopened.

“The situation is appalling,” CARE’s Country Director in Yemen Johan Mooij said, adding that “Today millions of Yemenis are facing multiple crises of war, hunger, disease outbreaks and recent blockades on fuel and commercial imports”, Reliefweb reported.

Mooij stressed that while some land, sea and air ports had recently reopened, the country’s main ports remained closed to commercial imports.

International aid agency Oxfam warned that Yemen was pushed ever closer to famine after 1,000 days of a brutal war, exacerbated by a crippling blockade of its key ports which is starving its people of food, fuel and medicine.

en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13960930000202

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Islamic funding becomes more attractive for the non-Muslim world

 

The Islamic funding has traditionally been dominated by Muslim countries in the Middle East and Southeast Asia. Now the rest of the world looks at it. Backed by perceived ease of market conditions and an improving regulatory framework, the issuance of Islamic debt by non-Muslim countries is expected to reach a three-year peak in 2017.

The Islamic financial products comply with Shariah or Islamic law and are based on the principles of risk and profit sharing. The norms prohibit interest on loans and do not allow funding of alcohol, pork, pornography or gambling activities.

The value of Islamic government bonds, sukuk, issued outside the Middle East and Southeast Asia by non-Muslim countries reached 2.25 billion USD for the period from January to November. By comparison, the volume in 2016 was 2 billion USD, and in 2015 was 1 billion USD.

The metamorphosis of Islamic finances from the niche of global banking to a growing source of funding for the rest of the world is supported by the large list of investors, selling sukuk bonds in recent years. The Singapore government was one of the first non-Muslim participants on this market, followed by the UK, Luxembourg and Hong Kong, which issued their first sukuk bonds in 2014. Some African countries such as South Africa, Nigeria and Ivory Coast made legal and tax changes to facilitate the delivery of sukuk bonds.

The companies are also not lagging behind, as Goldman Sachs and General Electric also sell Islamic bonds over the past few years. The Chinese issuers like Country Garden and Beijing Enterprises Water Group also issued Islamic bonds through their Malaysian subsidiaries in 2015 and 2017 respectively. The companies use this revenue to finance projects in Southeast Asian countries.

According to experts and economists the global financial crisis is driving governments and companies to diversify their funding opportunities. The Islamic funding is perceived as a more stable alternative to the conventional banking system and therefore attracts investors who are still being persecuted by the global bond and equity markets crisis when the US housing bubble bursts.

In addition, the asset class also attracts investors’ attention by using a more ethical approach to managing their money.

financeapprise.com/islamic-funding-becomes-attractive-non-muslim-world/

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Generalising About Britain's Grooming Gangs Scapegoats Muslim Communities

Siema Iqbal

Thursday 21 December 2017 12:08 UTC

The topic of grooming gangs in Britain's cities continues to be debated and repeatedly highlighted by the UK media - and now again by the "thinktank" Quilliam Foundation.

Only recently, two Labour MPs became involved in a heated debate over the issue, with Naz Shah accusing Sarah Champion of profiling Pakistani men as sexual abusers of young, white girls following a piece she wrote for the Sun newspaper and branding Champion's actions as irresponsible.

Shah also accused her of making "blanket, racialised, loaded statements" that would set up and stigmatise Pakistani boys to fail.

Problematic masculinity

On 10 December the Quilliam Foundation published a report on grooming gangs, stating that since 2005, 84 percent of those convicted in cases of grooming were males of "Asian" heritage, with the Asian male perpetrator/white female victim dynamic serving as the prominent feature of these grooming gangs.

Most of these men are of Pakistani origin, and the victims that have come forward so far are almost exclusively young, white girls. The Quilliam Foundation has also gone as far as to say that "failure to integrate by these men into British society" has led to this.

The report stated that this pattern was corroborated by the UK National Crime Agency's Child Exploitation and Online Protection Command (CEOP) which has previously found 75 percent of offenders that target their victims based on vulnerability were of Asian ethnicity.

However, surely, in order to really deal with this issue effectively, the first thing we need to do is take the discussion away from the connection with ethnicity.

According to Professor Malcolm Cowburn, a criminologist from Sheffield Hallam University, "the larger issue is of problematic masculinity and how certain men view women, children and their sexual rights. I don't think it lies within ethnicity but within gender."

This view has also been reiterated by Nazir Afzal, the then chief crown prosecutor for the North West, who was responsible for bringing the perpetrators to trial in the high-profile Rochdale sex-grooming case in 2012.

Following the trial, Afzal said: "It wasn't their race which defined them, it was their treatment of women….. There is no community where women and girls are not vulnerable to sexual attack and that's a fact."

There was also the more recent case in Newcastle where the judge said the grooming wasn't racially motivated, leading to the MP Mike Penning writing to the attorney general calling for a review of the case that he said was racially motivated

Unhelpful generalisations

Just one day after the Quilliam report was released, the radio station LBC broadcast a distressed call from the victim of a grooming gang speaking to presenter James O'Brien. She stated that the abuse she received was because of the way the perpetrators viewed women.

So why do we continually bring it back to ethnicity? Or worst still, as another LBC presenter, MaajidNawaaz, did, link it to religion. This approach is one-sided and will not help society tackle the problem. We need to genuinely care about addressing the issue of sexual violence.

While the findings of the Quilliam report need to be addressed, we need to ask: are they really addressing all the issues at hand? In order to look at sexual violence in all its forms, we need to stop sensationalising it and expressing outrage only when the perpetrators are brown and the victims white.

Drawing generalisations about communities is unhelpful. It would be incorrect to say white males are sexual offenders, or young white women are vulnerable, in the same way it is to say Asian men are groomers. Ethnicity may be an associative factor but is not a causative factor.

Sexual violence (violence against women and girls - VAWG) is one of the most persistent forms of gender inequality throughout British society – but it is in no way limited to Muslim communities.

Every week there are 3,000 calls to rape crisis centres. Indeed, the number of offences against women, including domestic abuse, rape and sexual assaults, rose by almost 10 percent to 117,568 in 2015-16.

What is being done about offenders, in paedophile rings, who are 100 percent white and target children as a result of specific sexual interest?

Lone offender abuse

As a GP it equally upsets me that we live in a society where there are young girls who feel so vulnerable that they can be taken advantage of. Why and what factors lead to this and how can we help them?

It is also important to remember that grooming gangs are not the most common form of child sexual abuse. According to the best available data by CEOP, abuse by lone offenders is much more common than abuse by groups.

Why are we not focusing on or addressing this issue too, which has a higher number of victims?

Until we start addressing all the actual issues around sexual violence and gender seriously in all its forms, we won't be able to tackle this problem.

Whether it's grooming gangs, tackling lone offenders, or paedophile rings, we should stop sensationalising the topic by doing selective "research" that scapegoats communities, alienates them further (because of the actions of a very small segment of the community) and only addresses one type of abuse.

- Siema Iqbal is a mother, a doctor and a British Muslim with an opinion based in Manchester. She is currently a partner and trainer at a North Manchester GP practice. She enjoys writing and can often be found public speaking and raising money and awareness for charities both in the UK and abroad. In 2014, she also launched a business, Doctor Aesthetics, while continuing to be a busy mum to two boys.

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

middleeasteye.net/columns/when-will-we-effectively-deal-sexual-violence-1811870485

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Southeast Asia

Indonesian Police Warn Islamists Against Raids in Search of Santa Hats

Dec. 21, 2017, at 1:57 a.m.

JAKARTA (Reuters) - Indonesian police appealed on Thursday for tolerance and respect for other people's religious celebrations after an Islamist group threatened to raid businesses to check for Muslims being forced to wear Santa Claus hats or other Christmas garb.

The hardline Islamic Defenders Front (FPI) said this week it would conduct "sweeping operations" in the world's biggest Muslim-majority country, and that forcing Muslims to wear Christmas attire was a violation of their human rights.

Indonesia is home to several religious minorities, including Christians, Hindus, Buddhists and people who follow traditional beliefs.

The constitution guarantees freedom of religion in an officially secular state though tension between followers of different faiths can flare.

"There can be no sweeping operations ... members of the public should respect other religions that are carrying out celebrations," national police chief Tito Karnavian told police during a security exercise in the capital, Jakarta.

The FPI said it aimed to enforce a fatwa, or decree, issued by Indonesia's Islamic Clerical Council in 2016 prohibiting business owners from forcing employees to wear Christmas clothing.

"We will raid businesses in anticipation of them being stubborn about this and we will be accompanied by police," said Novel Bakmukmin, head of the FPI's Jakarta capter.

Employers forcing staff to wear Christmas clothes were violating their rights.

"Businesses should be aware that there should be no forcing," he said.

Te Islamic Clerical Council's decrees are not legally binding but serve as guidelines for Indonesian Muslims.

Christmas is widely celebrated across Indonesia and holiday decorations are ubiquitous, especially at shops, restaurants and malls where many enthusiastic workers - even Muslims - don Santa hats or elf costumes.

The FPI built its reputation with raids on restaurants and bars serving alcohol during the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan.

In recent years, it has turned its attention to Christian celebrations.

The group has also said it wants the Jakarta city government to stop sponsoring New Year celebrations, which attract many thousands of people.

About 90,000 police officers will be on duty cross the country during the end-of-year holidays, in an operation largely aimed at preventing militant attacks.

Attacks on churches in Jakarta and elsewhere on Christmas Eve in 2000, killed nearly 20 people. Ever since, authorities have stepped up security at churches and tourist spots for the holiday.

(Reporting by DjohanWidjaya and Kanupriya Kapoor; Writing by Kanupriya Kapoor; Editing by Robert Birsel)

usnews.com/news/world/articles/2017-12-21/indonesian-police-warn-islamists-against-raids-in-search-of-santa-hats

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St Hilda's Church caretaker jailed for setting fire to room, trying to mislead police with 'jihad' note

SINGAPORE - Angry with what he considered to be a security lapse at his workplace, a St Hilda's Church caretaker decided to set fire to a room at the Ceylon Road place of worship on Easter - April 16.

Yeo Liang Chai, 60,  pretended not to know about the blaze and tried to put out the fire when his colleagues discovered it.

To cover his tracks when police arrived on the scene, Yeo showed an officer a note with the word "jihad" that he himself  had earlier written.

He was jailed for 1½ years on Thursday (Dec 21) after pleading guilty the day before to one count each of committing mischief by fire and intentionally perverting the course of justice.

Yeo started working at the church near Dunman Road on Dec 1 last year.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Andrew Tan said: "During his stint as a full-time caretaker, the accused discovered that there were many practices which he considered to be security and safety lapses. He aired his views and suggestions on numerous occasions. However, his superiors and fellow colleagues did not think the lapses were significant."

At around 7am on April 16, Yeo became upset after he found an unlocked room on the second storey of the church and felt it was a security lapse.

Incensed, he took a bottle of kerosene and set fire to another room, which had been used to store donated books and clothes. The fire caused more than $32,000 in damage, the court heard.

No one was injured in the incident, according to an earlier police statement.

When police arrived on the scene, Yeo showed an officer the "jihad" note to mislead investigations.

DPP Tan said: "The accused recalled a previous incident in December 2016 whereby one of the church's in-house Malay contractors was arrested for theft. The accused believed that he could use the note to create the impression that the friends of the Malay contractor wanted to seek revenge for the arrest."

Yeo was taken to Bedok Police Division for further questioning on the day of the fire, and the Special Investigation Section of the Criminal Investigation Department was called upon to investigate. Yeo finally came clean at around 4pm that day.

DPP Tan urged District Judge May Mesenas to jail Yeo for at least 1½ years, saying that Yeo's note could be "construed as racially and religiously inflammatory".

He added: "It is indisputable that attributing an arson to a jihad is an extremely serious offence, and has significant potential to damage racial and religious relations in Singapore."

For mischief, Yeo could have been jailed for up to seven years and fined.

straitstimes.com/singapore/courts-crime/church-caretaker-jailed-for-setting-fire-to-a-room-and-trying-to-mislead

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Ottomans safeguarded Palestine: leading Muslim scholar

Ali QaraDaghi defends Ottoman role in spreading Islam, protecting ‘blessed’ Palestine

21.12.2017

Head of the Doha-based International Union of Muslim Scholars (IUMS), Ali QaraDaghi, has extolled the Ottoman role in spreading Islam and protecting Palestine.

QaraDaghi’s praises came in a late Wednesday tweet in which he also indirectly criticized UAE Foreign Minister Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan for recently retweeting an image disparaging the Ottomans.

“The Ottomans have the honor of having established a great Muslim civilization and spreading Islam across the world,” QaraDaghi said.

The head of the largest umbrella organization for Muslim scholars, QaraDaghi went on to assert that the Ottomans had striven to safeguard “the blessed land of Palestine” and had “not given up a single grain of sand thanks to Sultan Abdul Hamid II”.

He added: “But during the period of Arab nationalism, Palestine -- including Jerusalem and the blessed Al-Aqsa Mosque -- was occupied [by the Zionists].”

On Saturday, Al Nahyanretweeted an image suggesting that celebrated Ottoman army commander Fahreddin Pasha, who had served as governor of Medina from 1916 to 1919, had committed abuses against the local population and had even pilfered their property.

Replying to the offensive post, Turkish President RecepTayyip Erdogan on Wednesday tweeted: “It’s no coincidence that those who take pride in keeping the company of tyrants -- at a time when Muslims are under violent attack -- would target Fahreddin Pasha."

aa.com.tr/en/middle-east/ottomans-safeguarded-palestine-leading-muslim-scholar/1010959

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IlhamAliyev: Azerbaijan greatly contributes to Islamic solidarity

21 December 2017

Azerbaijan makes a great contribution to Islamic solidarity, said Azerbaijani President IlhamAliyev.

The president made the remarks at an international conference “2017- Year of Islamic Solidarity: Interfaith and Intercultural Dialogue” in Baku on Thursday, APA reported.

“The year 2017 was declared the “Year of Islamic Solidarity” in Azerbaijan. A lot of events were held in the country during the year,” said President Aliyev.

The head of state noted that the Azerbaijani people have been preserving their national and moral values for centuries. “Islamic values are also an integral part of this. The religious tranquility that prevails in Azerbaijan makes the country stronger,” he added. 

en.apa.az/azerbaijan-politics/foreign-news/ilham-aliyev-azerbaijan-greatly-contributes-to-islamic-solidarity.html

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Muslim world not to tolerate another Balfour

- Thu 21 December 2017 - 14:08

Ali Akbar Velayati, a senior Adviser to Iran’s Leader in International Affairs and a member of the Expediency Council, told Iran’s Arabic News Channel Al-Alam that US President Donald Trump's action in announcing Jerusalem as the capital of the Zionist regime is a big evil step that the US president has taken and the Zionist regime has interpreted it as ‘Balfour 2.’

He noted “even some Arab treacherous governments, who always rely on Zionist and American support, had to condemn Trump’s action,” adding “Iran supports the new Palestinian Intifada against Trump’s decision.”

“This (new Intifada and unity in Muslim world) will be a huge blow to the Zionist regime,” he pointed out.

The leader’s advisor further explained “the Islamic world is now in a better position than any other time in the past in encountering the expansionism of Zionist regime and Americans, and we hope that Trump’s move will intensify the struggle against the Zionists.”

With regard to the United States Ambassador to the United Nations Nicki Haley’s move accusing Iran of equipping Yemen with missile weapons, Mr. Velayati said “Iran has not given any missiles to Yemen and that country does not need any weapons.”

In response to the question how long Iran's military advisers will continue their presence in Iraq and Syria, Mr. Velayati said “as long as the Syrian government and its people need our help,” explaining “Syria is still under threat from various sides, and right now the US is convening the former ISIL members into something entitled Free Syrian Army.”

en.mehrnews.com/news/130481/Muslim-world-not-to-tolerate-another-Balfour

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Pakistan

Pak army chief urges lawmakers to improve relations with India

Omer Farooq Khan | TNN | Dec 21, 2017, 06:09 IST

ISLAMABAD: In an extraordinary gesture, Pakistan army chief, General Qamar JavedBajwa, urged the country's lawmakers to try to improve relations with India, assuring them that their efforts would be fully backed by the Army. His address comes in the backdrop of sustained American emphasis to Pakistani leadership on mending ties with India.

"The military is ready to back political leadership's initiative for normalization of relations with India," Gen Bajwa told lawmakers at the senate committee of the whole House during his first appearance before a parliamentary forum on Tuesday.

Gen Bajwa was invited by senate chairman Raza Rabbani and was accompanied by Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) chief Naveed Mukhtar. Top military officers, Major General SahirShamshad Mirza and Major General AsimMunir. The session continued for nearly four-and-a-half hours.

Quoting senators, leading Pakistan daily Dawn said Gen Bajwa told legislators that he wants relations with all neighbours to be normalised and urged politicians to try to improve relations with India. He assured them that their efforts would be fully supported by the army. The army chief's offer was particularly significant given a general perception that the army was against peace efforts with India.

But Gen Bajwa said a large part of Indian military deployments was mostly against Pakistan. He also accused India of fomenting instability and terrorism in Pakistan, stating that New Delhi had developed a strong nexus with Afghan intelligence agency National Directorate of Security.

timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/pak-army-chief-urges-lawmakers-to-improve-relations-with-india/articleshow/62187182.cms

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Pakistan denies 'forced' conversion of Sikhs to Islam

WION Web Team New Delhi, Delhi, India Dec 21, 2017

'We will take this up at the highest level with the Government of Pakistan,' the minister tweeted earlier this week. Photograph: (PTI)

Shortly after Union Home Minister Sushma Swaraj reacted to reports of forced Sikh's conversion to Islam in Hangu, Pakistan, Islamabad denied any such incident.

Swaraj, on December 19, had shared an article from Pakistan media on her Twitter handle.

The piece had reported on "forced" conversion of Sikh community to Islam in Hangu, Pakistan.

"We will take this up at the highest level with the Government of Pakistan," the minister tweeted.

@SushmaSwaraj

We will take this up at the highest level with Government of Pakistan. @IndiainPakistan

Assist­ant Commis­sioner Tall Yaqoob Khan accuse­d for allege­dly forcin­g Sikhs to conver­t to Islam

tribune.com.pk

 296 296 Replies   1,330 1,330 Retweets   3,382 3,382 likes

Reportedly, Pakistan today denied any incident of forced Sikhs conversion to Islam in the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province.

Mohammad Faisal, Spokesperson, Ministry of Foreign Affairs Pakistan, noted it as an incident of "misinformation".

Mr Faisal also expressed Pakistan's sense of commitment toward freedom of religion.

wionews.com/india-news/pakistan-denies-forced-conversion-of-sikhs-to-islam-27392

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FO warns against 'malicious campaign' trivialising Pakistan's counter-terrorism efforts

Naveed Siddiqui December 21, 2017

The Foreign Office (FO) on Thursday warned against a "malicious campaign" being used to trivialise Pakistan's achievements in the war against terrorism, days after United States (US) President Donald Trump announced a new National Security Strategy (NSS) which is tough on Pakistan.

FO Spokesperson Dr Muhammad Faisal during a weekly briefing rejected the "unfounded accusations" levelled against Islamabad by Trump in his announcement.

The US president had reminded Pakistan that it is obliged to help America because it receives "massive payments" from Washington every year.

"We have made clear to Pakistan that while we desire continued partnership, we must see decisive action against terrorist groups operating on their territory. And we make massive payments every year to Pakistan. They have to help," said the US president.

The 56-page NSS document says that "the United States continues to face threats from transnational terrorists and militants operating from within Pakistan".

"We will press Pakistan to intensify its counterterrorism efforts, since no partnership can survive a country’s support for militants and terrorists who target a partner’s own service members and officials," the document reads, adding: "We seek a Pakistan that is not engaged in destabilising behaviour."

r Faisal asserted that the accusations in the US NSS "belie facts on ground and trivialise Pakistan's efforts for fighting terrorism and our unmatched sacrifices to promote peace and stability in the region".

"It is because of Pakistan's cooperation with the international community, acknowledged and appreciated by the US leadership, that the Al Qaeda core was decimated from the region," the FO spokesperson said.

Despite its best efforts, the FO said that the country continues to suffer due to "state-sponsored terrorism funded and abetted by our neighbours through proxies" that are working against Pakistan.

"These proxies, consisting of individuals, organisations and intelligence agencies, are working against Pakistan at the behest of regional adversaries. The self-proclaimed guarantors of peace and phoney regional powers are pursuing this nefarious game of expansionism to the detriment of regional and global peace. Destabilising policies and actions by some countries to maintain their hegemony in pursuit of absolute power are responsible for instability in several parts of the world, including ours," the FO statement said.

Dr Faisal insisted that the Afghan soil is "constantly being used by elements hostile to Pakistan's stability", and urged Afghanistan to counter the growing threat posed to the region by the militant Islamic State (IS) group by destroying the outfit's "increasing safe havens" in the neighbouring country.

"Pakistan's efforts and sincere proposals for effective border management to prevent cross-border movement of militants and return of Afghan refugees are yet to make any headway," he added.

Dr Faisal also emphasised Pakistan's efforts towards reconstruction in Afghanistan, claiming that the Pakistani government had established three tertiary care hospitals in Jalalabad, Kabul and Nangarhar. In addition, he said, Pakistan had trained 69 Afghan health professionals, including doctors, nurses and paramedic staff in the past year. At least 59 health professionals have already completed their training and left for Afghanistan, he said.

Jadhav's family to visit soon

Referring to Indian spy KulbhushanJadhav, the FO said that if the Indian Ministry of External Affairs agrees, Pakistan is willing to allow Jadhav's wife and mother to address the media upon their arrival in Pakistan.

The FO spokesperson said that Jadhav's mother and wife, who have been issued Pakistani visas, will arrive in Islamabad and meet the spy at the office of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Their itinerary was not disclosed.

'Political solution for Yemen-Saudi conflict'

Dr Faisal reiterated Pakistan's support for Saudi Arabia and condemned a recent missile attack on Riyadh, carried out by Yemen's Houthi rebels targeting the official residence of Saudi King Salman.

The missile was intercepted by the Saudi-led coalition before any damage could be done. It is the second missile fired by the Houthis — who seized the Yemeni capital in 2014 — at Riyadh in the past two months.

However, as the conflict between Saudi Arabia and Yemen poses a danger to the security of the entire region, the FO spokesperson insisted on a political resolution to the standoff.

dawn.com/news/1378004/fo-warns-against-malicious-campaign-trivialising-pakistans-counter-terrorism-efforts

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No headway in govt-jirga talks on Fata reforms

Amir Wasim Updated December 21, 2017

ISLAMABAD: Deadlock over the implementation of the proposed Fata reforms package still persists as the first direct meeting between the government and a team of ally JamiatUlema-i-Islam (JUI-F) on Wednesday fai­led to make any headway on issues of planned merger of the Federally Administered Tribal Areas with Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and extension of the superior courts’ jurisdiction to the region.

Talking to Dawn after attending more than two-hour-long meeting with a government team headed by Prime Minister ShahidKhaqanAbbasi, a member of the JUI-F’s supreme jirga council declared that there had been no breakthrough in the talks and their reservations over the proposed Fata reforms package were still there “as it is”.

The prime minister was assisted in the talks by federal Minister for States and Frontier regions (Safron) retired Lt Gen Abdul Qadir Baloch, Interior Minister Ahsan Iqbal, PM’s Special Assistant Barrister Zafarullah Khan and Plan­ning Commission Deputy Chairman Sartaj Aziz. Mr Aziz headed the committee that had formulated the Fata reforms recommendations earlier this year.

The PM had met the jirga council members hours after the Safron minister annou­nced in parliament that the government intended to introduce “Supreme Court and High Court (Extension of Jurisdiction to Fata) Bill 2017 in the National Assembly on Thursday (today).

Team led by PM Abbasi conducts negotiations with JUI-F supreme jirga council

However, according to sources in the government, it is highly unlikely that the bill will be presented before the assembly after the meeting with the jirga.

The five-point agenda issued for Thursday’s session by the NA Secretariat — available on the official website — has no mention of the bill in question.

Talking to Dawn, Barrister Zafarullah Khan, who is looking after the law ministry after Zahid Hamid quit as law minister last month, admitted that they had failed to reach a consensus, but claimed that they were “near a consensus”. He said the meeting was held in a very “cordial atmosphere” and both sides listened to the arguments of each other with an open mind.

Mr Khan said the jirga had given counter-proposals that could be considered. Without elaborating, he said some of their proposals were “very good”.

“There was no 100 per cent inflexibility from the other side,” he said, adding that he had given the jirga members a briefing on the bill seeking extension of the superior courts to Fata whereas they had also presented their viewpoint over the issue of Fata’s merger with KP.

Responding to a question, he said it was unlikely they would move the bill early as they did not want to spoil the “good environment”.

Mr Khan said the jirga believed that the extension of the Peshawar High Court (PHC) would be a step towards the merger of Fata with KP, but they had no objection over the extension of the Islamabad High Court to the region.

He said it was a “bitter issue” and they should not show any haste over it. “Had it been not a big issue, why it was not resolved by the past governments, including the three military regimes,” he added.

Call for referendum

The sources said the jirga desired that a referendum should be held in the tribal areas to know if the people wanted merger with KP or they wanted a separate province.

On Tuesday, PM Abbasi and Army Chief Gen Qamar JavedBajwa had met JUI-F chief MaulanaFazlurRehman to discuss the proposed merger.

The maulana and Pakhtunkhwa MilliAwami Party (PkMAP) chief Mehmood Khan Achakzai are the only two stakeholders who continue to stonewall efforts to pass fresh legislation to change the status of Fata.

Earlier in the day, opposition members continued their boycott of the National Assembly to protest the government’s refusal to table the Fata reforms bill.

Recalling how Speaker AyazSadiq had assured lawmakers a day earlier that the draft bill might be laid before the house on Wednesday, Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly Syed Khursheed Shah observed that it was surprising to see no mention of the legislation in the day’s agenda.

“We are being told that it will be introduced tomorrow (Thursday). If it is introduced, the opposition will welcome it and extend unanimous support [for its passage]. But until that happens, we prefer not to sit in this empty house,” he said, gesturing to the mostly-bare government benches.

Later, Safron Minister Qadir Baloch, while responding to a calling attention notice moved by Senator ShibliFaraz of the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) in the Senate, regretted that no past government had taken any step to end the miseries of tribesmen, terming it “criminal negligence”.

He said the administration in Fata was being run through Frontier Crimes Regulation (FCR) and people were being forced to pay “cruel taxes” without having the right of appeal to any court.

The minister declared that the government was committed to implementing all the recommendations presented by a special committee under Sartaj Aziz in order to mainstream the tribal areas and a timeline for the implementation of each of the recommendations had already been finalised by another high-powered committee, led by the prime minister.

Responding to criticism of the government for delaying the implementation of Fata reforms only to appease two of its allies, Mr Baloch said the government was still trying to convince its coalition partners.

“We are not dragging our feet,” he said, adding that the PML-N government would not let anyone take credit for this historical task, saying: “it will be a feather in our cap”.

In March, the federal cabinet approved a set of steps to be taken for the proposed merger of Fata with KP, and a 10-year reform package to bring the tribal region on a par with developing areas of the country.

In May, the government convened a special session of the National Assembly for the presentation of three bills, including a constitutional amendment drafted in light of the recommendations of the Fata reforms committee. But the government only tabled the amendment required to declare Fata a part of KP, while the Rewaj Bill 2017, the draft law seeking the extension of the jurisdiction of the PHC and the SC to Fata, was not moved.

The bill was again placed on the agenda on Dec 11, but was withdrawn at the eleventh hour, prompting a protest from opposition and Fata members, who announced a continuous boycott of the assembly proceedings until the bill was tabled for passage.

dawn.com/news/1377927/no-headway-in-govt-jirga-talks-on-fata-reforms

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Shahbaz to be PML-N's next candidate for prime minister: Nawaz Sharif

Ubaidullah Shaikh | JavedHussainDecember 21, 2017

Putting an end to confusion surrounding the future leadership of the embattled PML-N, former prime minister Nawaz Sharif told party aides on Wednesday that Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif would be the party's candidate for premiership in the upcoming General Election.

Expressing confidence in his younger brother, Nawaz said that Shahbaz had never disappointed him or the party, and had risen to prominence because of his hard work and performance.

The former prime minister made the remarks during a meeting at his JatiUmra residence yesterday.

He said that although Shahbaz may have had a difference in opinion over certain matters, he never violated party discipline and never refused to accept what Nawaz told him.

Nawaz added that at times he accepted Shahbaz's suggestions as well. "I had to take Pervez Musharraf's call condoling our father's death upon Shahbaz's insistence," he said.

Sources claimed that Nawaz also said that when favouritism affects the parameters of justice, society loses its stability. "Despite there being so much [in the case] against Imran Khan, he was left scot-free while I was sent home on just an Iqama," he was reported as saying.

"We will not stay quiet. I will inform the nation of the inconsistencies between the two decisions," he said, referring to Supreme Court's decision disqualifying him and the one in the Imran Khan disqualification case.

Shedding light on his planned movement for justice, he said that the party's campaign for the 2018 General Election and the movement would go hand in hand.

"Someone will have to stand up to correct the ills of 70 years," he said, adding that he was standing upright in the battle.

PML-N members appreciated the decision taken by the party chief on Thursday.

"It would be wrong to say that a single vote in the party is against Shahbaz Sharif," MNA Rana Afzal said regarding the development.

Minister of State for Power Abid Sher Ali said that the party would accept the decision taken by Nawaz, adding that Shahbaz is a very capable individual that the country needs right now.

Although MNA Qaiser Ahmed Sheikh praised the decision, he added that the process of consultation within the party needs to be broadened.

Shahbaz had earlier been tipped to replace Nawaz as the prime minister after his disqualification at the hands of Supreme Court late July. However, ShahidKhaqanAbbasi was later made the prime minister as Shahbaz claimed he wanted to focus on completion of various projects in Punjab.

Last month, a party meeting in London also decided to put Shahbaz forward as a prime ministerial candidate after the 2018 election if party president Nawaz Sharif remained ineligible to run for office.

Only people have the right to choose the next prime minister

"Only the 200 million people of Pakistan have the right to choose who their next prime minister will be," Leader of the Opposition Khursheed Shah said while commenting on the development.

"Neither Nawaz Sharif nor anybody else has the right to choose the next prime minister."

Shah added that when people ask him why the parliament is always empty, he tells them that it remains empty because Nawaz never gave it due importance. "This why he has to keep asking mujhaykyunnikala (why was I removed?)."

dawn.com/news/1378008/shahbaz-to-be-pml-ns-next-candidate-for-prime-minister-nawaz-sharif

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Arab World

Saudi Bombers Continue Massacring Civilians in Yemen

Thu Dec 21, 2017 1:27

Saudi warplanes targeted a school in the Northwestern city of Sa'ada, North of the capital Sana'a, on Wednesday afternoon, leaving 11 people, including women and children, dead and eight others injured, Local sources, speaking on condition of anonymity, told Al-Masirah television network.

Separately, two people lost their lives when Saudi bombers launched an aerial attack against Akwan area of al-Safra district in the province of Sa’ada.

Saudi Arabia has been striking Yemen since March 2015 to restore power to fugitive president Mansour Hadi, a close ally of Riyadh. The Saudi-led aggression has so far killed at least 15,300 Yemenis, including hundreds of women and children.

Despite Riyadh's claims that it is bombing the positions of the Ansarullah fighters, Saudi bombers are flattening residential areas and civilian infrastructures.

According to several reports, the Saudi-led air campaign against Yemen has driven the impoverished country towards humanitarian disaster, as Saudi Arabia's deadly campaign prevented the patients from travelling abroad for treatment and blocked the entry of medicine into the war-torn country.

The cholera outbreak in Yemen which began in April, has also claimed over 2,200 lives and has infected about one million people, as the nation has been suffering from what the World Health Organization (WHO) describes as the “largest epidemic in the world” amid a non-stop bombing campaign led by Saudi Arabia. Also Riyadh's deadly campaign prevented the patients from traveling abroad for treatment and blocked the entry of medicine into the war-torn country.

According to reports, the cholera epidemic in Yemen, which is the subject of a Saudi Arabian war and total embargo, is the largest recorded in modern history.

Aid officials have also warned of the spread of diphtheria in war-torn Yemen, as WHO and officials with the international medical charity Doctors Without Border, announced that the diphtheria spread is inevitable in Yemen due to low vaccination rates, lack of access to medical care and so many people moving around and coming in contact with those infected.

The United Nations had described the current level of hunger in Yemen as “unprecedented,” emphasizing that 17 million people are now food insecure in the country.

A recent survey showed that almost one third of families have gaps in their diets, and hardly ever consume foods like pulses, vegetables, fruit, dairy products or meat, while the humanitarian food aid is reaching only a third of Yemen’s population.

Aid agency CARE also declared that more than 22 million people in Yemen are in need of humanitarian aid, 7 million people face famine-like conditions.

More than 3 million pregnant and nursing women and children under 5 need support to prevent or cure malnutrition.

The United Nations has also warned that 8.4 million people in war-torn Yemen are “a step away from famine”, as Saudi Arabia and its allies are ceaselessly pounding the impoverished country.

"The lives of millions of people, including 8.4 million Yemenis who are a step away from famine, hinge on our ability to continue our operations and to provide health, safe water, shelter and nutrition support," Jamie McGoldrick, the UN's humanitarian coordinator for Yemen, said in a statement on Monday.

"The continuing blockade of ports is limiting supplies of fuel, food and medicines, dramatically increasing the number of vulnerable people who need help," he added.

The United Nations had warned that millions of people will die in Yemen, in what will be the world's worst famine crisis in decades, unless the Saudi-led military coalition ends its devastating blockade and allows aid into the country.

Aid agency CARE warned, as the country marks 1,000 days since conflict began, Yemen risks sliding into famine and further disease outbreaks unless all the country’s ports are fully reopened.

“The situation is appalling,” CARE’s Country Director in Yemen Johan Mooij said, adding that “Today millions of Yemenis are facing multiple crises of war, hunger, disease outbreaks and recent blockades on fuel and commercial imports”, Reliefweb reported.

Mooij stressed that while some land, sea and air ports had recently reopened, the country’s main ports remained closed to commercial imports.

International aid agency Oxfam warned that Yemen was pushed ever closer to famine after 1,000 days of a brutal war, exacerbated by a crippling blockade of its key ports which is starving its people of food, fuel and medicine.

en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13960930000202

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Houthis Launch 83 Missiles at Saudi Arabia, Arab Coalition

21 DECEMBER

(ANSAmed) - ROME, DECEMBER 21 - The Saudi-led Arab coalition said Thursday that 83 ballistic missiles had been launched by Iran-linked Houthi rebels from Yemen at Saudi Arabia.

The news was reported by Al Arabiya.

Colonel Turki bin Saleh Al Maliki, spokesman for the coalition, said that many of the launch sites had been destroyed. The latest missile targeting the Saudi capital, Riyadh, was launched this week. Houthis have meanwhile said that 11 civilians including women and children were killed in airstrikes on northern Yemen on Thursday. The reports have not been independently verified.

Houthi-run television broadcaster Al-Masira said that the Saudi-led coalition airstrikes had occurred in the northern region of Saada, a traditional stronghold of the uprising. Saudi media have not yet confirmed the news, but the daily Al-Hayat reported that 20 Houthi fighters had been killed by ''armed men'' south of the capital Sanaa, controlled by the rebels. The news cannot be independently verified. (ANSAmed).

ansamed.info/ansamed/en/news/sections/generalnews/2017/12/21/houthis-launch-83-missiles-at-saudi-arabia-arab-coalition_2c197a25-2862-4376-b33e-b23a7db4f439.html

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US Army Continues to Rescue ISIL Militants in DeirEzzur

Thu Dec 21, 2017 1:44

DeirEzzur

Asia news quoted well-informed sources as saying that a US military helicopter transferred 47 ISIL terrorists from the village of Sho'aytat to al-Saad camp in SoutheasternHasaka.

It added that the US helicopter landed near al-Saad in SoutheasternHasaka, adding that a number of ISIL gunmen who were injured were sent to the Kurdish-held Hasaka general hospital run by doctors without borders organization.

The Asia news further said that the ISIL terrorists had possibly surrendered to the Syrian Democratic Forces in Sho'aytat and later the US helicopters took them away.

Hama

The Syrian Army troops continued to hit the positions of the Al-Nusra Front (Tahrir al-Sham Hay'at or the Levant Liberation Board) in Northeastern Hama and SoutheasternIdlib and managed to capture another region on Wednesday.

The army men drove the Al-Nusra out of Wadi al-Jafrah Northeast of the village of Qasr Ali after taking control over the village of al-Roweiza in Northeastern Hama.

In the meantime, the army's engineering units discovered a network of tunnels during their mop-up operation in al-Roweiza, a field source said adding that Al-Nusra used to use the tunnels to transfer arms and ammunition to the battlefield and escape the village.

Also in the past 24 hours, the Syrian Army's artillery and missile units and Air Force targeted the Al-Nusra Front in Northern Hama, destroying a main command center of the terrorist group and inflicting major losses on them.

The artillery and missile units, deployed in Southern Idlib, shelled heavily the Al-Nusra's positions in the village of Abu al-Qar, killing a number of terrorists and destroying their positions.

Also, the warplanes struck one of the main command centers of the Al-Nusra known as Al-Maqara in the town of Kafr Zita in Northwestern Hama.

In the meantime, the fighter jets conducted a heavy bombing raid on the terrorists' movements near the town of al-Latamina in Northern Hama, killing several gunmen and wounding several more.

Damascus

The Syrian Army troops pushed the Al-Nusra Front back from more regions and cut off all the supply lines between Beit Jinn and Mughur al-Mir regions, two main bastions of the Al-Nusra in Southwestern Damascus.

The army men clashed with the Al-Nusra near Beit Jinn Farm and the village of Mughur al-Mir in Southwestern Damascus, killing a number of terrorist and destroying their military vehicles.

Also, the army's artillery and missile units pounded the positions and supply lines of the Al-Nusra in the region.

A field source reported that the army has closed off the entire supply lines of the Al-Nusra connecting Beit Jinn Farm to the village of Mughur al-Mir and Mughur al-Mir hill.

The Al-Nusra has suffered heavy defeats and has lost a number of field commanders in the battlefield and is on verge of collapse in Southwestern Damascus.

Also in the past 24 hours, the Syrian Army troops made rapid advances against the Al-Nusra Front and managed to seize military control over terrorist-held regions in Southwestern Damascus.

The army's artillery and missile units pounded the Al-Nusra's positions hard in the regions of Mughur al-Mir and Beit Jinn.

Also, a field source said that the army inflicted tens of casualties on the Al-Nusra and managed to advance towards Tal (hill) Za'arafta located on the Eastern direction of Beit Jinn Farm.

The source further added that the army has cut off all the supply lines of the Al-Nusra from Beit Jinn Farm to the village of Mughur al-Mir and Mughur al-Mir hill, imposing military control over the entire regions out of its control in Jabal al-Sheikh region.

Another military source said the army made a series of crucial advances against the Al-Nusra Front in Beit Jinn valley region, capturing a number of key hilltops and gaining full fire control over the entire Beit Jinn pocket within which militants are now hopelessly trapped.

Hasaka

The pro-opposition Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) reported on Wednesday that a fresh round of tensions has erupted between the Syrian Army troops and the Kurdish fighters in Hasaka city after the two sides started arresting forces of each other.

The SOHR reported that the army and the Kurds have put their forces on alert in Hasaka city, adding that tension erupted after the Kurds arrested three army soldiers in the Northern entrance of Hasaka city and the army arrested two Kurds in the Central part of the city.

Local sources said that over 100 army men have arrived at an army base out of the city to reinvigorate government forces' positions in Hasaka. 

Idlib

Military sources disclosed on Wednesday that the Syrian Army troops are preparing for breaking the siege imposed by terrorists on the Shiite towns of Fua'a and Kafraya in the Northeastern countryside of Idlib city within the framework of their operation to free the Abu al-Dhohour airbase.

The sources pointed to the army's ongoing operations to reach Abu al-Dhohour airbase in SoutheasternIdlib and added that the army's control over the base will pave the way for the easier advances and ultimately lift of the siege imposed by militants on Fua'a and Kafraya.

The army's plan for Fua'a and Kafraya comes after the terrorist groups' violation of their commitment to the agreement for the exit of residents of Fua'a and Kafraya and indifferences of international relief and rescue bodies to the besieged towns' population.

The Syrian army is currently advancing towards Abu al-Dhohour from two fronts in Northern and Northeastern Hama and a front in Southern Aleppo. 

Also on Wednesday, an Arab media outlet reported that People in militant-held regions across the Northwestern province of Idlib have declared firm intention to join the Syrian Army troops amid the recent rapid advances of the pro-government forces in the Southern parts of the province.

The Arabic-language al-Watan daily quoted Syrian Parliament Member Hossein Raqeb as saying that people across Idlib province have called on the army to free their villages and towns from terrorists.

He further said that tens of telephone calls have been received from different parts of the province, declaring supports for the army troops and intention to join the pro-government forces.

en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13960930000210

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Saudi Arabia Loosens Grip on Yemen, Opens Port to Aid © REUTERS/ AbduljabbarZeyad

21.12.2017

The humanitarian situation in war-devastated Yemen seems to have started showing signs of improving. Saudi Arabia is leading the coalition of countries supporting the national government against the Houthi movement.

Saudi Arabia has announced the reopening of the Yemeni port of Hodeidah, where food aid and commercial fuel will be delivered in the next thirty days.

"The port of Hodeidah will remain open for humanitarian and relief supplies and the entry of commercial vessels, including fuel and food vessels, for a period of 30 days," the Saudi-led coalition leadership said in a statement.

The decision came following permanent demands by an array of aid agencies, including the UN, to lift the 30-day blockade of Hodeidah, which is seen as a lifeline for more than 70 percent of those in need of humanitarian aid in Yemen.

Welcoming the coalition's move, UK Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson expressed hope "this will start to alleviate the suffering of the Yemeni people and get them the supplies they desperately need."

2015 saw the beginning of the Yemeni civil war between the internationally recognized government of President AbdRabbuh Mansur Hadi, backed by the Arab coalition, and the Houthi rebel movement initially supported by military units loyal to former President Ali Abdullah Saleh.

After Saleh cut ties with the Houthis forces and proposed a "new page" with the Saudi-led coalition forces, he was killed by his former allies on December 4.

Shortly after the start of the conflict, the coalition imposed a blockade of Yemen, which it said was aimed at preventing the Houthis from receiving arms supplies from abroad.

The blockade led to a humanitarian crisis in Yemen, where the UN claimed at least 8.4 million people are "a step away from famine."

sputniknews.com/middleeast/201712211060194383-saudi-arabia-yemen-port-re-opening/

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Saudi Forces Kill Shia Activist in Qatif

Thu Dec 21, 2017 1:29

The TaghridAhrar Twitter account reported that Salman al-Faraj was killed during the raid on Tuesday. The Riyadh regime’s forces briefly arrested his wife, Sakina al-Faraj, who was injured in the attack. The victim's brother Zaki al-Faraj and his nephew Salman were also arrested, presstv reported.

Meanwhile, Saudi sources claimed that a soldier named Khaled al-Sameti was also killed during the raid. The sources claimed that Salman al-Faraj was involved in the kidnapping and murder of Mohammed al-Jirani, a judge in Qatif, last year.

The Shia-populated Eastern Province has been the scene of peaceful demonstrations since February 2011. Protesters have been demanding reforms, freedom of expression, the release of political prisoners, and an end to economic and religious discrimination against the oil-rich region.

The protests have been met with a heavy-handed crackdown by the regime. Security forces have increased security measures across the province.

Over the past years, Riyadh has also redefined its anti-terrorism laws so as to also target activism.

In January 2016, Saudi authorities executed Shia cleric Sheikh NimrBaqir al-Nimr, who was an outspoken critic of the policies of the Riyadh regime. Nimr had been arrested in Qatif in 2012.

en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13960930000464

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Since Aleppo, year of victories for Syria regime

AFP | Dec 20, 2017, 20:31 IST

BEIRUT: Since Syrian government forces recaptured the whole of second city Aleppo a year ago, they have retaken much of the country with the help of allies Russia and Iran.

For the rebels, the loss of Aleppo on December 22, 2016 signalled the beginning of the end.

Rebels now control only 12 percent of Syria's territory, notably the northwestern province of Idlib where jihadists and Islamist rebels dominate.

After a string of defeats, the Islamic State group holds just five percent, including a rural pocket in the east and two neighbourhoods on the outskirts of Damascus.

Here is a recap of the gains by President Bashar al-Assad's forces over the past year:

On January 29, 2017, the army recaptures WadiBarada, the source of Damascus's mains water supply, after rebels agree to withdraw in exchange for an end to a devastating siege that lasted more than a month.

On March 2, the Russian Defence Minister and the Syrian army announce they have recaptured the ancient desert city of Palmyra from IS.

The city had changed hands several times. First seized by IS in May 2015, it was retaken by the regime in March 2016 before falling back into jihadist hands in December.

In May, regime forces take control of three major Damascus districts: Barzeh, Qabun, and Tishrin. Several thousand civilians and fighters leave the capital and head northwest to rebel-held Idlib.

Like WadiBarada and other towns and villages around Damascus, the three districts return to government control under a so-called "reconciliation" deal.

Rebels and civilians are granted safe passage to opposition-held territory elsewhere in exchange for an end to siege and bombardment by the army.

Inside Damascus, rebels still hold part of the eastern neighbourhood of Jobar. It lies near Eastern Ghouta, a besieged rebel-held district east of the capital.

On May 21, the regime regains full control of third city Homs with the Russian-supervised evacuation of Waer, its last rebel-held neighbourhood.

On August 5, government forces recapture Al-Sukhna, the last IS stronghold in Homs province.

On June 4, government forces troops seize the strategic town of Maskana from IS as part of a months-long operation to drive the jihadists out of Aleppo province.

On June 30, they retake the last IS-held pocket in the province.

In June, troops, backed by Iranian, Lebanese and Iraqi fighters, break into the strategic eastern province of DeirEzzor.

On October 14, they retake the town of Mayadeen from IS.

On November 2, they take full control of DeirEzzor itself, the last major city where the jihadists had a presence.

On November 19, the army announces it has recaptured Albu Kamal on the Iraqi border, the last town in Syria still held by IS.

timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/middle-east/since-aleppo-year-of-victories-for-syria-regime/articleshow/62182550.cms

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Syrian Army Advances in Al-Nusra Stronghold in Southeastern Aleppo

Thu Dec 21, 2017 1:32

The army forces, supported by heavy artillery and missile fire, attacked the al-Nusra Front (Tahrir al-Sham Hay'at or the Levant Liberation Board) positions in the town of Ramlah from Rasm al-Sayalah in Southeastern Aleppo.

The Syrian air force also targeted the terrorists' positions in the region, inflicting casualties on them.

Meantime, a field source said that the Syrian army soldiers could break the terrorists' defense lines in al-Ramlah.

The Syrian army troops are now advancing in the three fronts of Northern and Northeastern Hama and Southeastern Aleppo towards Abu al-Dhohour military airport, he added.

Military sources disclosed on Wednesday that the Syrian Army troops are preparing for breaking the siege imposed by terrorists on the Shiite towns of Fua'a and Kafraya in the Northeastern countryside of Idlib city within the framework of their operation to free the Abu al-Dhohour airbase.

The sources pointed to the army's ongoing operations to reach Abu al-Dhohour airbase in SoutheasternIdlib and added that the army's control over the base will pave the way for the easier advances and ultimately lift of the siege imposed by militants on Fua'a and Kafraya.

The army's plan for Fua'a and Kafraya comes after the terrorist groups' violation of their commitment to the agreement for the exit of residents of Fua'a and Kafraya and indifferences of international relief and rescue bodies to the besieged towns' population.

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Zero Hour Arriving for Syrian Army Operations against Al-Nusra's Strategic Base in Northern Hama

Thu Dec 21, 2017 1:50

The sources reported that the army has dispatched a military convoy to the towns of Taybat al-Imam and Halfaya in Northern Hama.

They added that the army will start a massive operation from this region to purge al-Nusra terrorists from their important stronghold in al-Latamina.

Meantime, the Syrian fighter jets pounded the al-Nusra militants' positions in the region, inflicting heavy damages and tolls on the terrorists.

In a relevant development on Wednesday, the Syrian Army's artillery and missile units and Air Force targeted the Al-Nusra Front in Northern Hama, destroying a main command center of the terrorist group and inflicting major losses on them.

The artillery and missile units, deployed in Southern Idlib, shelled heavily the Al-Nusra's positions in the village of Abu al-Qar, killing a number of terrorists and destroying their positions.

Also, the warplanes struck one of the main command centers of the Al-Nusra known as Al-Maqara in the town of Kafr Zita in Northwestern Hama.

In the meantime, the fighter jets conducted a heavy bombing raid on the terrorists' movements near the town of al-Latamina in Northern Hama, killing several gunmen and wounding several more.

en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13960930000281

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Notorious Al-Nusra Commander Killed in Southwestern Damascus

Thu Dec 21, 2017 2:12

The Syrian army units targeted the al-Nusra terrorists' moves near Maqam Sheikh Abdullah region in the Eastern parts of Beit Jinn farms, destroying two military vehicles and killing and wounding several militants.

Meantime, the army's clashes with the terrorists near the village of Mughur al-Mir inflicted casualties on the militants, including an al-Nusra commander namely Aiman Sami al-Ta'ani.

The al-Nusra has suffered heavy defeats and has lost a number of field commanders in the battlefield and is on verge of collapse in Southwestern Damascus.

In a relevant development on Wednesday, the Syrian army troops made rapid advances against the Al-Nusra Front and managed to seize military control over terrorist-held regions in Southwestern Damascus.

The army's artillery and missile units pounded the Al-Nusra's positions hard in the regions of Mughur al-Mir and Beit Jinn.

Also, a field source said that the army inflicted tens of casualties on the Al-Nusra and managed to advance towards Tal (hill) Za'arafta located on the Eastern direction of Beit Jinn Farm.

The source further added that the army has cut off all the supply lines of the Al-Nusra from Beit Jinn Farm to the village of Mughur al-Mir and Mughur al-Mir hill, imposing military control over the entire regions out of its control in Jabal al-Sheikh region.

Another military source said the army made a series of crucial advances against the Al-Nusra Front in Beit Jinn valley region, capturing a number of key hilltops and gaining full fire control over the entire Beit Jinn pocket within which militants are now hopelessly trapped.

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The Yemenis trapped between war and US extreme vetting

by Mallory Moench

New York City - Under dim lights in her apartment, KhuloodNasher clutched two winter coats, with the price tags still on, for her sons trapped in Yemen's war.

The last time she saw them, Omar was 13 and Rami 14 years old.

That was seven years ago.

"I'm not sure if maybe I'll still be alive when I see them again," Nasher said as her voice wavered. "I really give up."

Years after applying to reunite with their mother, Rami and Omar had a visa interview at the US embassy in Djibouti last winter.

WATCH: Donald Trump's Muslim ban in legal limbo (2:10)

Nasher rushed to buy the coats to ensure that her sons didn't catch a cold after they stepped off the plane in New York.

Two weeks later, President Donald Trump's executive order banned citizens from seven Muslim-majority countries, including Yemen, and pushed for extreme vetting on visa applications.

A second ban in June blocked only those without a bona fide US relationship like a family tie, work contract or university admission.

The third version, targeting citizens from six of the original countries plus North Korea, Chad, and Venezuela, was temporarily blocked by a federal court in October.

But earlier this month, the US Supreme Court ruled to let the government enforce the most recent ban while lower courts debate its legality.

The White House maintains that the ban is intended to target countries that have not provided enough information to allow for the proper vetting of travellers, but rights groups say it disproportionately targets Muslims.

And while Nasher's sons - as the family members of a permanent resident who won asylum - do not fall under the travel ban, they still face extreme vetting procedures and lengthy delays under what legal experts and advocates have called a "ban beyond the ban".

'Life in Yemen is like hell'

Nasher still holds on to her sons' coats, but her hope for them to join her in the US is ebbing.

"When you have kids who are suffering all the time, and you want to help these kids, how can you?" said Nasher, a legal permanent resident who won asylum in 2014.

"We have the right for our kids and family to join us, at least in this very bad situation. It's a humanitarian disaster in Yemen."

War has been raging between Yemen's government, supported by a Saudi-led coalition, and Iranian-backed Houthi rebels since 2015.

The UN called the conflict the world's worst humanitarian crisis.

Air raids have killed at least 10,000 people, mainly civilians, and famine threatens seven million more.

The fighting is everywhere. The bombs are everywhere. You do not feel safe. Wherever you go, you feel like you will be killed. There is no water, no gauze, no nothing. The main sources of life don't exist. We are very scared

Rami Nasher

"Life now is like a hell in Yemen," Nasher's oldest son Rami said over the phone from Sanaa, Yemen's capital, last month.

"The fighting is everywhere," he told Al Jazeera.

"The bombs are everywhere. You do not feel safe. Wherever you go, you feel like you will be killed. There is no water, no gauze, no nothing. The main sources of life don't exist. We are very scared."

Nasher said Rami has told her he doesn't want to live any more and his younger brother, Omar, takes medication to sleep.

She said she suffers nightmares. She sees bombs in her sleep in her Bronx apartment and can only imagine what it's like for her sons.

"This is life in Yemen," Nasher said. "You're running from death day-to-day."

'The silent Muslim ban'

On Sunday, more than 200 Yemenis in Djibouti received letters that their visas were denied, according to a dozen applicants who contacted immigration lawyer Julie Goldberg and Yemeni-American community activist Ibraham al-Qatabi. 

aljazeera.com/news/2017/12/yemenis-trapped-war-extreme-vetting-171216090452611.html

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Tens of Militants Surrender to Syrian Army in Homs Province

 

TEHRAN (FNA)- Field sources confirmed on Thursday that over 120 gunmen that had laid down their weapons and joined peace with the Syrian army in Homs province have received government amnesty.

The sources reported that the militants in the towns of al-Rastan, Talbiseh, Palmyra, al-Qasir, Talklakh and al-Hasan and a number of districts in Homs city and the nearby areas had handed over their arms to the army soldiers and were pardoned by the Damascus government.

The gunmen received amnesty and returned to normal life, the sources said. 

Local sources reported earlier this month that sum of 159 gunmen that laid down arms and endorsed peace with the Syrian Army received government amnesty in Hasaka province.

The sources said that a sum of 159 militants that handed over their weapons to the army men and signed the peace agreement with the government in Hasaka and its countryside received amnesty and returned to normal life within the framework of the nationwide reconciliation plan in Syria.  

Also, 114 gunmen that had surrendered to the army and applied for amnesty in the town of Qamishli received pardon from Damascus and returned to normal life.

en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13960930000558

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Syrian Army, Turkey-Backed Militants Clash over Key Town in Aleppo

 

TEHRAN (FNA)- Heavy clashes erupted between the Syrian army forces and the terrorists backed by Ankara in Northern Aleppo to gain control over a strategic town in the region.

The fierce clashes happened on Wednesday night between the Syrian army soldiers and the militants inside and in the surroundings of Tadef in Northern Aleppo.

Both sides are attempting to take control of the important town before its rival.

Tadef is around one kilometerSouth of the strategic crossroad town of al-Bab. The Syrian army forces are holding positions in the South and pro-Turkey fighters are in the North.

Syrian Parliament Member Hossein Raqeb said on Wednesday that Turkey paid hundreds of dollars to each militant in Idlib province to prevent them from joining the nationwide reconciliation plan.

Raqeb told the Arabic-language al-Watan daily that Turkey bribed and dissuaded the militants who wanted to lay down arms and join the peace agreement with the army in Idlib province.

He said that Turkey paid $10,000 to each gunman to prevent the militants from ending battle with the Syrian army and applying for government amnesty.

Raqeb said that the gunmen had called relevant government officials and declared their intention to join reconciliation plan. 

en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13960930000622

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Turkey-Backed Terrorist Group Emerging in Northern Syria

 

TEHRAN (FNA)- Terrorists are attempting to form a new group in Northern Syria which is due to be supported by the Turkish government, sources reported on Thursday.

News websites affiliated to the dissident groups reported that a number of militants have been transferred from Eastern Homs and the towns of Western al-Qalamoun to Northern Syria to form a new structure (military and civil) affiliated to the dissidents and backed by the Turkish government.

The sources added that despite the fact that formation of such a structure is still under study, a number of senior militants have already been selected for sensitive posts in the new group.

An Arab media outlet reported on Wednesday that a large number of notorious commanders of terrorist groups have left Syria for Turkey, taking away a hefty amount of money to set up their own business.

The Arabic-language al-Arabi al-Jadid website reported that a large number of terrorist commanders have left behind their forces in Syria's battlefields and escaped to Turkey with a large amount of money.

It added that Ahmad al-Madani nom de guerre Abu Saleh, the founder of Badr Battalion - that was one of the first terrorist establishments in al-Qaboun region in Damascus province - left the battlefield on the second day of clashes in 2012 on the pretext of procuring arms and ammunition.

The website went on to say that Abu Saleh moved from al-Qaboun to Qalamoun and later to the town of Arbin, adding that Abu Saleh ultimately left Syria for Turkey via al-Atibeh region and did not come back to Syria again.

Al-Arabi al-Jadid further said that Abu Saleh sold the entire weapons and ammunitions to the militant groups in the town of Bab al-Hawa in Idlib and earned over 100mln lira, adding that one of costumers of Abu Saleh's weapons was Jamal, the commander of Syria's Thowar Front.

Abu Saleh later set up a large supper market in Mustafa Pasha in Bourseh province in Turkey and now his living in al-Fatehneighborhood in the European part of Istanbul city.   

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Mideast

Islamic funding becomes more attractive for the non-Muslim world

 

The Islamic funding has traditionally been dominated by Muslim countries in the Middle East and Southeast Asia. Now the rest of the world looks at it. Backed by perceived ease of market conditions and an improving regulatory framework, the issuance of Islamic debt by non-Muslim countries is expected to reach a three-year peak in 2017.

The Islamic financial products comply with Shariah or Islamic law and are based on the principles of risk and profit sharing. The norms prohibit interest on loans and do not allow funding of alcohol, pork, pornography or gambling activities.

The value of Islamic government bonds, sukuk, issued outside the Middle East and Southeast Asia by non-Muslim countries reached 2.25 billion USD for the period from January to November. By comparison, the volume in 2016 was 2 billion USD, and in 2015 was 1 billion USD.

The metamorphosis of Islamic finances from the niche of global banking to a growing source of funding for the rest of the world is supported by the large list of investors, selling sukuk bonds in recent years. The Singapore government was one of the first non-Muslim participants on this market, followed by the UK, Luxembourg and Hong Kong, which issued their first sukuk bonds in 2014. Some African countries such as South Africa, Nigeria and Ivory Coast made legal and tax changes to facilitate the delivery of sukuk bonds.

The companies are also not lagging behind, as Goldman Sachs and General Electric also sell Islamic bonds over the past few years. The Chinese issuers like Country Garden and Beijing Enterprises Water Group also issued Islamic bonds through their Malaysian subsidiaries in 2015 and 2017 respectively. The companies use this revenue to finance projects in Southeast Asian countries.

According to experts and economists the global financial crisis is driving governments and companies to diversify their funding opportunities. The Islamic funding is perceived as a more stable alternative to the conventional banking system and therefore attracts investors who are still being persecuted by the global bond and equity markets crisis when the US housing bubble bursts.

In addition, the asset class also attracts investors’ attention by using a more ethical approach to managing their money.

financeapprise.com/islamic-funding-becomes-attractive-non-muslim-world/

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‘Mr. Trump, you can’t buy Turkey’s democratic will’ – Erdogan on Jerusalem UN vote

Published time: 21 Dec, 2017

Turkish President RecepTayyip Erdogan has warned Donald Trump that he "cannot buy Turkey's democratic will," referring to the upcoming UN vote on the US recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital.

"I hope and expect the United States won't get the result it expects from there (the UN General Assembly) and the world will give a very good lesson to the United States," Erdogan said during a speech in Ankara, as quoted by Reuters.

Earlier on Thursday, Turkish Foreign Minister MevlutCavusoglu said that Washington's decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital was "wrong and unacceptable." He accused the US of resorting to threats because it is isolated in its stance.

The Turkish president's comments came after the US envoy to the UN, Nikki Haley, said Washington would be “taking names” of countries that back the UN resolution against its Jerusalem decision.

Trump also suggested that countries who vote in favor of the resolution at the UN General Assembly would lose money. "Let them vote against us," he said. "We’ll save a lot. We don’t care. But this isn’t like it used to be where they could vote against you and then you pay them hundreds of millions of dollars...we’re not going to be taken advantage of any longer.”

Egypt, which drafted the UN Security Council resolution on Jerusalem vetoed by the US on Monday, is seen as being particularly vulnerable, as it received $1.2 billion in American aid last year.

The Security Council vote had demanded that the American decision to recognize Jerusalem as the Israeli capital be withdrawn. All other UNSC members voted in favor of the document.

The Thursday General Assembly meeting was triggered by a request from Arab and Muslim states, following the Monday veto by the US. They are seeking to invoke UN Resolution 377, known as the "Uniting for Peace" resolution, which is the only way to circumvent a Security Council veto.

The resolution states that the assembly can call an emergency special session to consider a matter “with a view to making appropriate recommendations to members for collective measures,” if the Security Council fails to act. Only 10 such sessions have ever been convened, the most recent taking place in 2009, when the assembly called a meeting on East Jerusalem and the Palestinian territories. The Thursday meeting will be a continuation of that session.

rt.com/news/413854-turkey-erdogan-trump-dollars/

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Nearly 500 Palestinians Detained by Israeli Forces since US President Decision on Jerusalem

Thu Dec 21, 2017 1:32

The total number of Palestinians detained by Israeli forces since the beginning of the protests that followed US President's recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital was 490, including 148 minors and 11 women, according to official Palestinian and Israeli sources, Ma'an News Agency reported.

Israeli military raids into Palestinian cities, towns, and refugee camps are a near daily occurrence. Prisoners rights group Addameer recorded 6,198 Palestinians were detained by Israel as of October. The group has estimated that some 40 percent of Palestinian men will be detained by Israel at some point in their lives.

US President announced early December that Washington would be recognizing Jerusalem al-Quds as Israel’s capital, stressing that the United States would relocate the embassy in the occupied lands from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem al-Quds.

The move was hailed by Israel but condemned by the rest of the international community as one which undermines the peace talks.

Washington’s al-Quds move has raised a chorus of outcry across the international community. The Muslim world, the UN, world leaders from Europe to the Middle East to Australia, and even US allies in the West have criticized the bid, saying it would plunge the already tumultuous region into new upheaval.

Heavy clashes also broke out between Israeli troops and Palestinian protesters after Washington's decision in Jerusalem al-Qud's Old City, Hebron (al-Khalil), Bethlehem and Nablus in the West Bank as well as the besieged Gaza Strip.

According to reports, thousands of Palestinians were wounded by Israeli army's fire during protests against the US decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, while hundreds more were detained by Israeli forces and police. Also, the clashes between Palestinians and Israeli soldiers left ten dead.

Also, the Palestinian ministry of public health in Gaza announced that the Israeli occupation forces use unknown gas bombs which caused cases of stress, convulsion, vomiting, coughing and rapid heartbeat among the Palestinian civilians. It stressed that the Zionist forces fire bullets directly on the Palestinian protestors.

The Israeli regime forces use brutal and excessive force against the civilians and the rescue teams as well as the medics, according to the Palestinian ministry which called for denouncing the racist actions of the Israeli authorities.

People in different countries have also hit the streets to denounce Trump's recognition of Jerusalem al-Quds as Israel’s capital.

The Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), in a statement issued following an extraordinary summit in Turkey's Istanbul on Wednesday, declared East Jerusalem the capital of Palestine "under occupation" and urged the US to withdraw from the peace process and back down from its Jerusalem decision.

The US has also vetoed the UN Security Council (UNSC) resolution on Jerusalem, which had demanded the Washington decision recognizing the city as the Israeli capital be withdrawn. Fourteen council members voted in favor of the Egyptian-sponsored resolution that would have demanded US President reverse course on the decision. The United States was the only state out of the 15 members of the United Nations Security Council to use its veto power to block a resolution that called on all states to refrain from establishing diplomatic missions in Jerusalem.

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Iran, Turkey Stress Facilitation of Confidence-Building Moves by Syrian Gov't, Opposition

 

TEHRAN (FNA)- High-ranking Iranian and Turkish officials in a meeting in Astana on Thursday underlined the need for facilitation of measures which build trust between the two sides in Syria.

The meeting was held between Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister for Arab and African Affairs Hossein Jaberi Ansari and Deputy Undersecretary of the Turkish Foreign Ministry SedatOnal on the sidelines of the Syria peace talks in the Kazakh capital.

During the meeting, Jaberi Ansari and Onal discussed the latest developments in Syria and the three guarantor states of Iran, Turkey and Russia's agreements on Syria's National Dialogue Congress and the Astana talks' role to help international efforts to establish peace in Syria.

They also underscored the need for resolving problems on swapping the detainees, the abductees and bodies of those killed during the conflicts.

Jaberi Ansari arrived in Astana on Wednesday to attend the 8th round of Astana Talks.

Jaberi Ansari, Iran's top negotiator in Syria Peace International Conference, is heading a high-ranking delegation to Astana.

The 8th Astana International Conference is scheduled to be held on Thursday and Friday December 21-22, 2017.

Delegations from guarantor states, the Syrian government and opposition groups as well as observers likes the UN, US and Jordan are participating in this round of talks.

Astana Talks on Syria initiated by Russian President Vladimir Putin and upon his agreement with Turkish President RecepTayyip Erdogan in December 2016.

The Astana talks have run parallel to negotiations taking place in Geneva with the backing of the United Nations, and the congress plan appears to be Moscow's attempt to force the pace in a bid for a political settlement.

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Ankara-Backed Militants Killed, Wounded in Clashes with Kurds in Northern Aleppo

Thu Dec 21, 2017 1:52

Hawar news reported on Thursday that the Turkish army and its affiliated militants launched offensives against the village of Burjak Suleiman and Badr Khan, Bashour and Barfin hills near the town of Afrin and attacked the two villages of Ain Daqneh and Mara'anaz in al-Shahba region with mortar fire.

Meantime, clashes between the two sides in the villages of Burjak Suleiman and TalatBarfin killed one of the snipers affiliated to the Turkish army and wounded another one.

A Russian media outlet reported on Tuesday that the Turkish Army's reconnaissance units have arrived in regions near the town of Afrin in Northern Aleppo to pave the ground for an imminent operation against Kurds.

The Arabic-language website of Russia's state news agency, Sputnik, quoted a source close to the Turkish government as saying that the army is on the threshold of military operation against the Kurds in the town of Afrin in Northern Aleppo, adding that the army has dispatched its advance guards to regions near Afrin for the final reconnaissance operation.

It said that the Turkish units have launched reconnaissance operations in regions close to Afrin amid the army's preparation to kick off attack on Kurds.

The Arabic Sputnik reported that the Turkish army has removed cement blocks from borderlines with Syria, including with the village of Bableet in Jandris region near Afrin to facilitate entrance of the army forces to the Syrian town.  

en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13960930000314

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Historian discusses Turkey’s ties with subcontinent’s Muslims

Haneen Rafi Updated December 21, 2017

KARACHI: The glorious history of the Ottoman Empire and its eventual unravelling is etched in the minds of the Muslim community around the world. But it was the Muslims of the subcontinent who felt its loss more potently, considering it a betrayal of sorts when the decision to end the Caliphate was taken by Turkish leader Kemal Ataturk.

To mark the 70th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Turkey and Pakistan, Prof Dr AzmiOzcan was present at the Pakistan Institute of International Affairs on Wednesday and shared his decades of research regarding the relationship between Ottoman Turkey and the subcontinent’s Muslims.

Dr Masuma Hasan elaborated how the Khilafat movement was “one of the biggest movements of that time and was somehow entwined with the larger political struggle of the people of the subcontinent.”

She asked Dr Ozcan, who is currently a professor of history at Sakarya University and has a PhD in British-Ottoman Relations from the University of London, to elaborate on what his research had yielded.

Explains why Ottomans couldn’t help Tipu Sultan

Dr Ozcan recalled all the places he had travelled in the subcontinent which aided his research as well as served another purpose. “I travelled to Karachi, Lahore, Delhi and Agra and I rediscovered myself and my history. And I discovered when my ancestors first came to the subcontinent.”

He then proceeded to give a history lesson from the time of Mohammed bin Qasim to the advent of Mahmud Ghaznavi’s 17 invasions, which laid the foundation of the Islamisation of the country. “A hundred years later another Islamic dynasty came, the Ghurids and one of their commanders, Qutb al-Din Aibak, established the Delhi Sultanate. When you go back in time, you see a shared history.”

Dr Ozcan shared how he had, during his research, come across letters dated as far back as the 15th century “which have been preserved in the libraries and archives in Turkey. Some of them were sent from the subcontinent to congratulate the Ottomans on the conquest of Constantinople”.

Another interesting exchange between the two countries was through a travelogue. The talk took an interesting turn when Dr Ozcan spoke about Mir’âtülMemâlik, a memoir written in 1557 by Seydi Ali Reis of the Ottoman Imperial Navy. His assignment was to return 15 galleys from Basra to Egypt but instead with a shipwrecked crew and after having lost most of his ships in the battle against the Portuguese, the navy general had to take refuge on the west coast of India.

He stayed in the subcontinent and decided to return to his emperor by road. His interactions with the locals as well as royalty of the subcontinent on his way back are chronicled in this travelogue, translated into English as The Mirror of Countries. Seydi’snarrative also chronicles his interactions with Emperor Humayun and the Muslims of the subcontinent.

“As the Muslims of the subcontinent were losing their supremacy, they developed a kind of sentimental attachment to the existence of Muslim power in Anatolia,” said Dr Ozcan, which is why they felt the loss of the Ottoman Empire deeply. And there are two particular examples of this in history to prove this.

“One such instance is of when Tipu Sultan, in his struggle against the British, asked the Ottomans for help. However, at the time the Ottomans needed military assistance from the British as they were fighting off the Russians. The British told the Sultan that “if you really need our help against the Russians, you must help in our fight in the subcontinent to which they agreed and did not lend their support to Tipu Sultan.”

Dr Ozcan became emotional when introspecting about the current state of the Muslim world, where most of the religious and cultural centres held sacred are currently places of conflict and strife. The recent loss of Al Quds, he said, was one such example. If the Muslim world envisioned a different world for themselves, he stated, they must come together and change and repair the current relationships between one another.

dawn.com/news/1377859/historian-discusses-turkeys-ties-with-subcontinents-muslims

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South Africa to Downgrade Diplomatic Status in Israel

Thu Dec 21, 2017 1:44

The ruling African National Congress (ANC) Party announced the decision at a conference in Johannesburg late on Wednesday, Shafaqna reported.

“The ANC’s National Conference, the highest decision making body of our organization, has unanimously resolved to immediately and unconditionally downgrade the South African Embassy in Israel to a liaison office,” the ruling party said in a statement.

The ANC added that the resolution aimed to “give practical expression to the oppressed people of Palestine,” and “will send a clear message to Israel that there is a price to pay for its human rights abuses and violations of international law.”

South Africa’s decision to downgrade its diplomatic status in Tel Aviv had been proposed in the ANC’s policy conference back in July.

Both the Palestinian Authority (PA) and the Palestinian resistance movement Hamas had sent delegates to attend the opening of the ANC’s conference.

US President Donald Trump earlier this month declared that Washington was recognizing Jerusalem al-Quds as the “capital” of Israel and that he had instructed his administration to begin the process of moving the American embassy from Tel Aviv to the holy city.

The dramatic shift in Washington’s policy on Jerusalem al-Quds drew fierce criticism from the international community, including Washington’s Western allies, and triggered protests against the US and Israel worldwide.

The United Nations General Assembly is to vote on a resolution to demand that Trump withdraw his decision in an “emergency meeting” on December 21. The US vetoed a vote on a similar resolution at the UN Security Council on Monday.

Israel lays claim to the whole Jerusalem al-Quds, but the international community views the ancient city’s Eastern sector as occupied land and the Palestinians consider it their future capital.

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Turkish PM Calls Rohingya Killings in Myanmar 'Genocide'

Thu Dec 21, 2017 1:35

The Prime Minister met several Rohingyas in two refugee camps in Cox’s Bazar in neighboring Bangladesh, Rohingya Blogger reported.

“The Myanmar military has been trying to uproot Rohingya Muslim community from their homeland and for that they persecuted them, set fire to their homes, villages, raped and abused women and killed them,” Yildirim told reporters from Cox’s Bazar, before flying back to Turkey.

“It’s one kind of genocide,” he added.

“The international community should also work together to ensure their safe and dignified return to their homeland,” Yildirim, who was accompanied by Bangladesh’s Foreign Minister Abul Hassan Mahmood Ali, stressed.

Arrangement signed by Myanmar and Bangladesh in November to start repatriating refugees within two months is viewed with deep suspicion and dread by Rohingya still traumatised by the violent expulsion from their homeland.

The Red Cross said the returns must be voluntary and safe, but rights groups added that the conditions are not in place to ensure safe, voluntary and dignified returns, and Rohingya sense danger lurking behind Myanmar’s assurances.

Aid groups have also warned Myanmar they would boycott any new camps for Rohingya returnees, saying refugees must be allowed to settle in their own homes and not forced into ghetto-like conditions.

More than 620,000 of Myanmar's Muslim minority have fled across the border to Bangladesh since late August when the Myanmar army launched a sweeping crackdown on Rohingya Muslims in Northern Rakhine state.

The Red Cross, the only international aid organisation with broad access on the ground in Rakhine, estimates that only about 300,000 Rohingya remain in the entire state.

The International Committee of the Red Cross announced that life has stopped in Rakhine state due to the fear of violence, months after a new wave of crackdown by the government erupted against the persecuted Rohingya Muslims.

Doctors Without Borders (MSF) announced that at least 6,700 Rohingya Muslims were killed in the first month of a Myanmar army crackdown in Rakhine state that began in late August.

The revelation was made as Myanmar’s army has so far denied widespread accounts of violence against the Muslim Rohingya minority and has said that only 400 people died in the first few weeks of a new wave of “security operations”.

All along, government troops and the Buddhist mobs have been killing, raping, and arbitrarily arresting members of the Muslim community. They have also been setting the houses of the Muslims on fire in hundreds of predominantly-Rohingya villages in the Northern parts of Rakhine, where nearly all the Rohingya reside.

Myanmar’s government denies full citizenship to the Rohingya, branding them illegal immigrants from Bangladesh. Dhaka, in turn, regards the desperate refugees as Myanmarese. The Rohingya, however, track their ancestors many generations back in Myanmar.

The UN has already described the Rohingya as the most persecuted community in the world, calling the situation in Rakhine similar to “a textbook example of ethnic cleansing.”

The Myanmarese government, however, denies committing atrocities against the Rohingya people and has even rejected UN criticism for its “politicization and partiality.”

Myanmar continued to destroy Rohingya villages just days after signing a refugee resettlement deal, according to a rights group.

The Human Rights Watch (HRW) announced that the number of completely or partially destroyed Rohingya villages since Myanmar began its campaign targeting the largely Muslim ethnic group now stood at 354.

Meanwhile, United Nations human rights chief announced that genocide charges could be brought against Myanmar following the country’s campaign against the country's Rohingya Muslims.

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights ZeidRa‘ad al-Hussein stressed that attacks on the Rohingya had been “well thought out and planned” and he had asked Myanmar’s de facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi to do more to stop the military atrocities.

Humanitarian agencies have also warned that thousands of children are at risk of contracting diphtheria in refugee camps in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh, as since the first cases of diphtheria were detected in early November, some 1,326 suspected cases have been detected in the refugee camps.

“Diphtheria usually appears among vulnerable populations that have not received routine vaccinations, such as the Rohingyas,” Unicef Representative to Bangladesh Edouard Beigbeder said, adding that “The outbreak shows a steep rise in cases, an indicator of the extreme vulnerability of children in the Rohingya camps and settlements.”

“Children, who are 55 percent of the Rohingya refugee population, are particularly vulnerable. So are women, and they represent more than half of all refugees in Bangladesh,” UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) Spokesman Babar Baloch said.

“An estimated 10 percent are either disabled, have serious medical conditions, or are older persons at risk," he added.

en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13960930000268

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Europe

Generalising About Britain's Grooming Gangs Scapegoats Muslim Communities

Siema Iqbal

Thursday 21 December 2017 12:08 UTC

The topic of grooming gangs in Britain's cities continues to be debated and repeatedly highlighted by the UK media - and now again by the "thinktank" Quilliam Foundation.

Only recently, two Labour MPs became involved in a heated debate over the issue, with Naz Shah accusing Sarah Champion of profiling Pakistani men as sexual abusers of young, white girls following a piece she wrote for the Sun newspaper and branding Champion's actions as irresponsible.

Shah also accused her of making "blanket, racialised, loaded statements" that would set up and stigmatise Pakistani boys to fail.

Problematic masculinity

On 10 December the Quilliam Foundation published a report on grooming gangs, stating that since 2005, 84 percent of those convicted in cases of grooming were males of "Asian" heritage, with the Asian male perpetrator/white female victim dynamic serving as the prominent feature of these grooming gangs.

Most of these men are of Pakistani origin, and the victims that have come forward so far are almost exclusively young, white girls. The Quilliam Foundation has also gone as far as to say that "failure to integrate by these men into British society" has led to this.

The report stated that this pattern was corroborated by the UK National Crime Agency's Child Exploitation and Online Protection Command (CEOP) which has previously found 75 percent of offenders that target their victims based on vulnerability were of Asian ethnicity.

However, surely, in order to really deal with this issue effectively, the first thing we need to do is take the discussion away from the connection with ethnicity.

According to Professor Malcolm Cowburn, a criminologist from Sheffield Hallam University, "the larger issue is of problematic masculinity and how certain men view women, children and their sexual rights. I don't think it lies within ethnicity but within gender."

This view has also been reiterated by Nazir Afzal, the then chief crown prosecutor for the North West, who was responsible for bringing the perpetrators to trial in the high-profile Rochdale sex-grooming case in 2012.

Following the trial, Afzal said: "It wasn't their race which defined them, it was their treatment of women….. There is no community where women and girls are not vulnerable to sexual attack and that's a fact."

There was also the more recent case in Newcastle where the judge said the grooming wasn't racially motivated, leading to the MP Mike Penning writing to the attorney general calling for a review of the case that he said was racially motivated

Unhelpful generalisations

Just one day after the Quilliam report was released, the radio station LBC broadcast a distressed call from the victim of a grooming gang speaking to presenter James O'Brien. She stated that the abuse she received was because of the way the perpetrators viewed women.

So why do we continually bring it back to ethnicity? Or worst still, as another LBC presenter, MaajidNawaaz, did, link it to religion. This approach is one-sided and will not help society tackle the problem. We need to genuinely care about addressing the issue of sexual violence.

While the findings of the Quilliam report need to be addressed, we need to ask: are they really addressing all the issues at hand? In order to look at sexual violence in all its forms, we need to stop sensationalising it and expressing outrage only when the perpetrators are brown and the victims white.

Drawing generalisations about communities is unhelpful. It would be incorrect to say white males are sexual offenders, or young white women are vulnerable, in the same way it is to say Asian men are groomers. Ethnicity may be an associative factor but is not a causative factor.

Sexual violence (violence against women and girls - VAWG) is one of the most persistent forms of gender inequality throughout British society – but it is in no way limited to Muslim communities.

Every week there are 3,000 calls to rape crisis centres. Indeed, the number of offences against women, including domestic abuse, rape and sexual assaults, rose by almost 10 percent to 117,568 in 2015-16.

What is being done about offenders, in paedophile rings, who are 100 percent white and target children as a result of specific sexual interest?

Lone offender abuse

As a GP it equally upsets me that we live in a society where there are young girls who feel so vulnerable that they can be taken advantage of. Why and what factors lead to this and how can we help them?

It is also important to remember that grooming gangs are not the most common form of child sexual abuse. According to the best available data by CEOP, abuse by lone offenders is much more common than abuse by groups.

Why are we not focusing on or addressing this issue too, which has a higher number of victims?

Until we start addressing all the actual issues around sexual violence and gender seriously in all its forms, we won't be able to tackle this problem.

Whether it's grooming gangs, tackling lone offenders, or paedophile rings, we should stop sensationalising the topic by doing selective "research" that scapegoats communities, alienates them further (because of the actions of a very small segment of the community) and only addresses one type of abuse.

- Siema Iqbal is a mother, a doctor and a British Muslim with an opinion based in Manchester. She is currently a partner and trainer at a North Manchester GP practice. She enjoys writing and can often be found public speaking and raising money and awareness for charities both in the UK and abroad. In 2014, she also launched a business, Doctor Aesthetics, while continuing to be a busy mum to two boys.

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

middleeasteye.net/columns/when-will-we-effectively-deal-sexual-violence-1811870485

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Dutch police will set aside headscarf ruling in case brought by Muslim officer

December 21, 2017

The Dutch police will set aside a ruling from the equal opportunities committee which said a Muslim officer should be able to wear a headscarf while dealing with phone reports from the public, the national force has confirmed. Rotterdam police chief Frank Paauw has written to human rights commission outlining the force’s position and stating that a neutral appearance is crucial to good policing. Sarah Izat who took the issue to the commission has not yet commented on the decision. She will be able to continue to answer calls via the phone or video link in plain clothes with a headscarf, Paauw said. Justice minister Ferdinand Grapperhaus said in a reaction to MPs last month that the human rights council had stressed the legitimacy of the the importance of a neutral, uniform police appearance. The police code of conduct states that police officers are not allowed to display religious and other lifestyle convictions while dealing with the public, Grapperhaus said. The human rights commission’s rulings are not binding.

Read more at DutchNews.nl: Dutch police will set aside headscarf ruling in case brought by Muslim officer dutchnews.nl/news/archives/2017/12/dutch-police-will-set-aside-headscarf-ruling-in-case-brought-by-muslim-officer/

dutchnews.nl/news/archives/2017/12/dutch-police-will-set-aside-headscarf-ruling-in-case-brought-by-muslim-officer/

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Work of British Muslim charities is underestimated, say MPs

December 21, 2017

By Adam Forrest

The work of Muslim charities in supporting vulnerable people at winter is badly undervalued, according to a new study.

The all-party parliamentary group on British Muslims found Islamic organisations provide a wide range of services aimed at helping the least well-off – from food parcels for homeless people to thermal clothing for older residents.

The group’s report “A Very Merry Muslim Christmas” found it was difficult to quantify just how many people are receiving assistance because much of the work is going on under the radar.

British Muslim charities haven’t received the kind of attention they deserve.

The group, chaired by Tory MP Anna Soubry and Labour MP Wes Streeting, stated: “British Muslim charities haven’t received the kind of attention they deserve.

“At this time of year, when Muslim charities are working alongside many other faith-based charities to spread good cheer, peace on earth and goodwill to all, we hope our preliminary findings highlights and celebrates their work.”

In the past year, Sufra NW London (pictured above) provided emergency food aid parcels for almost 4,000 people. The foodbank also runs a kitchen project and holds advice surgeries.

The Al Mizan Charitable Trust has handed out 1,300 “winter warmer” packs to people sleeping on the streets of London, Manchester and Birmingham.

And the Grenfell Muslim Response Unit, set up after the terrible fire at the tower bloc, was at the forefront of relief and support efforts for families affected by the tragedy.

The MPs said some media coverage had mischaracterized the work of organisations rooted in British communities.

“And as with most coverage on Islam and Muslims in our media, the bad behaviour of a few individuals sees the many tarnished with the same brush,” the parliamentary group report stated.

“But such perceptions of British Muslims, and of British Muslim charities in particular, are wide of the mark.”

bigissue.com/news/work-muslim-charities-underestimated-say-mps/

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Russian MoD Denies Allegations of Strikes in Syria's Idlib

Thu Dec 21, 2017 1:9

"The Russian Defense Ministry denies the reports of some Western media outlets that Russian Aerospace Forces’ planes allegedly launched strikes near the Ma’arShoreen settlement in the Syrian province of Idlib… The Russian Aerospace Forces’ planes did not carry out sorties in this region," the statement read, Sputnik reported.

Earlier in the day, media reports citing the controversial NGO Syrian Observatory for Human Rights emerged alleging that almost 20 people were killed in the village by either a Syrian or a Russian airstrike in the Idlib province.

The province, bordering Turkey, is part of the de-escalation agreements brokered by Moscow, Ankara and Tehran. According to the deal covering the Idlib province, Turkey deployed observation points in the area.

en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13960930000366

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Russian President: Security Services Foil over 60 Terror Attacks in 2017

Thu Dec 21, 2017 1:51

"This year, the security services have foiled the plans of preparing over 60 terror-related crimes," Putin said at a special ceremony devoted to Security Service Workers’ Day, TASS reported.

Terorists are trying to adapt to a changing situation, the Russian president added.

"International terrorism today involves both lone terrorists and networked deeply clandestine structures and underground, so-called sleeper cells," he stressed.

 The Russian leader called to continue systematic and consistent work and maintain maximum concentration.

"It is necessary to strengthen both external and internal contours of Russia anti-terror security, carry out work to eliminate financial and recruitment networks, counter the attempts by extremists and radicals to influence the youth, the attempts to spread the ideology of hatred, religious intolerance and aggressive nationalism," Putin underlined.

Russia’s special services should defend the country’s public and political life from foreign interference, he added.

"Counterintelligence and intelligence bodies shoulder great responsibility. [They] must provide a reliable barrier to foreign interference into our public and political life and thwart any efforts of the foreign special services that, and it is not a secret, do everything to intensify their activities in Russia," Putin said speaking at a concert dedicated to Security Agency Worker’s Day.

"You should provide informational and analytical support to the state’s crucial decisions in defense and foreign affairs," the President underscored.

"Equally effective should your efforts be in other major fields, namely in the struggle against crime and corruption, in the border control, in the protection of state and special facilities and in ensuring reliability of systems of government communications and management," the president said addressing the security services officers.

Putin hopes that they "will strive for high, maximum results in each profile problem and will act firmly, highly professionally and efficiently."

The head of state thanked security services officers "for service, for a considerable and meaningful contribution to the country’s security and sovereignty."

en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13960930000743

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Green light for Muslim free school to move into former Hackney police station

11:44 21 December 2017 | UPDATED: 11:44 21 December 2017

James Scott

The Olive School, which has been in temporary accommodation in Stoke Newington since opening in 2013, is set to call Hackney Central police station in Lower Clapton Road home – putting an end to a planning wrangle that has lasted more than three years.

Hackney Council initially turned down the proposal in the summer of 2016 amidst widespread concerns about traffic measures at the school, which will eventually cater for 630 students.

The Tauheedul Education Trust, which runs the school, responded by applying a condition to the blueprint which will see a staggered move into the Grade-II listed building, with 90 reception children starting in 2019 and a year group being added annually until Olive reaches full capacity in 2025.

In reviewing the appeal, which unfurled in July, the secretary of state for planning revealed he was “satisfied” with congestion measures which will see traffic marshals introduced and staggered departure times. There is no on-site parking for cars included in the application, except for a bus layby upon land adjacent to St John’s churchyard and cycling provision.

It has been a double celebration at the school this month, after students were named in the top three per cent in the country for reading and writing – prompting a letter from schools minister Nick Gibb.

Principal Caterina Park told the Gazette: “The school is delighted with the outcome of the appeal. We have been operating in a temporary solution for a number of years and all our staff and pupils are very excited by the prospect of finally moving into our new school.

“We look forward to working with all stakeholders to ensure that we build a school that is at the heart of the community.”

The proposal will see buildings demolished at the back of the police station and the addition of a three-storey teaching block.

The former police station was closed in July 2013 after former Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, announced it would be sold as part of cost-cutting measures to save millions across the Metropolitan Police. The property was bought by the Department for Education for £7.6million less than a year later.

Wha do you think of the plans? Get in touch by e-mailing james.scott@archant.co.uk.

hackneygazette.co.uk/news/education/green-light-for-muslim-free-school-to-move-into-former-hackney-police-station-1-5329661

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Suspect in London Finsbury Park mosque attack pleads not guilty

December 21, 2017 / 5:23 PM / Updated 27 minutes ago

LONDON (Reuters) - A 48-year-old man from Wales pleaded not guilty on Thursday to terrorism-related murder and attempted murder after he allegedly drove a van at Muslims outside a mosque in Finsbury Park, London in June, leaving one worshipper dead and 11 injured.

Darren Osborne, a father of four from Cardiff, denied the charges during a hearing at the Old Bailey central criminal court in London.

reuters.com/article/us-britain-security-mosque/suspect-in-london-finsbury-park-mosque-attack-pleads-not-guilty-idUSKBN1EF1EE?feedType=RSS&feedName=worldNews&utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+Reuters%2FworldNews+%28Reuters+World+News%29&&rpc=401

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South Asia

What is the Rationale Behind Hekmatyar’s Provocative Ethnic Remarks?

By Khaama Press - Thu Dec 21 2017, 2:00 pm

The opinions expressed herein are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Khaama Press News Agency.

The Author of the story is  a graduate student at the City University of New York. She is studying international relations and can be followed on twitter @saberaazizi.

“War is ongoing in every part of Afghanistan. It’s the same war from yesterday. A big number of Ghor residents are involved in this war. Sit with them and ask them who is involved in this war? It is between two ethnic groups! In Taiwara, the conflict is not between security forces and insurgents; it is between two ethnic groups. It is the same in Kunduz, in Baghlan, in all northern parts of the country. The real situation of the war is like this across the country,” claimed GulbuddinHekmatyar during his party’s, Hizb-i-Islami, assembly.

Hekmatyar is a warlord, notoriously known for intentionally shelling civilians with

his D30 122 mm cannons in the 1990’s. After fighting against all the governments in Kabul since 1973, he made peace with the National Unity Government earlier this year.

Hekmatyar’s remarks are false. The Taliban and Pakistan’s intelligence agency, Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), are the main drivers of the conflict.

The current stage of the Afghan war began in 2001. In October of 2001, the United States and United Islamic Front for the Salvation of Afghanistan, an Afghan political-military alliance dedicated to fighting the Taliban, conducted joint operations that led to the toppling of the Taliban regime. As the United Islamic Front for the Salvation of Afghanistan was making significant gains on the ground, approximately 3,000 members of the Taliban and Al Qaeda retreated to Pakistan. In 2002, with the help of the ISI, the Taliban re-launched its insurgency.

The Taliban is a proxy force for Pakistan. The Taliban is committed to fulfilling Pakistan’s objectives in Afghanistan. In 2015, Parwez Musharraf, former president of Pakistan, said that his government cultivated the Taliban to counter India’s influence in Afghanistan.  Similarly, a Taliban commander told the Crisis States Research Centre that, “If any one rejects that the ISI backs or controls the Taliban, he has a mental problem … all our plans and strategy are made in Pakistan and step by step it is brought to us, for military operations or other activities.”  The current war in Afghanistan is a proxy war. It is an imposed war by outside forces. It isn’t an ethnic war. Given these facts, why did Hekmatyar fabricate such remarks?

Hekmatyar has returned to Kabul, eying the Arg, the Afghan presidential palace. In his own words, “The next president of Afghanistan is someone who Hizb-e-Islami wants.” However, Hekmatyar has been defeated politically. He lacks domestic support. Hekmatyar took refuge in Iran and Pakistan for nearly 20 years. Because of that, he was alienated from Afghan society and lost his power base. To illustrate: in the 2014 Afghan presidential election, his party’s candidate mustered less than 3% of the votes.

Jack Snyder, a renowned academic who specializes in international relations, noted in his book, From Voting to Violence: Democratization and Nationalist Conflict, that when domestic politics are not in favor of a political elite’s political ambitions, the elite tends to use ethnic rhetoric as a means to gain popular support. Hekmatyar is doing exactly that. He is creating a false narrative based on ethnic deprivation as a means to garner domestic support.

Last week, at a gathering in Khost province, Hekmatyar deployed highly inflammatory language as a means to advance his political ambition: he alleged that there are more people in the government from the Panjshir, Bamiyan, and Daikundi provinces than from Loy Paktia (Paktia, Paktika, and Khost province); asserted that the Zadran Tribe is being deprived of their political rights because the founder of the Haqqani Network, JalaluddinHaqqani, was from that tribe; claimed that “in Ghor province, two tribes [the Bayan and Pahlawan] are fighting against each other. One of the ethnic groups is backed by foreign forces and the other is forced to migrate with families.” He depicted one ethnic group as the aggressor and the other as the victim. Also, Hektmayar declared that politicians have carved out their own spheres of influence inside Afghanistan, which he labeled as “sovereign islands of power”. According to him, such practice has caused a disparity in the opportunities available to various ethnic groups. In other words, the ruling elites don’t provide equal opportunities to all ethnic groups.

In response to Hekmatyar’s provocative statements, Dr. Abdullah Abdullah, Chief Executive of Afghanistan, said that “ethnic and religious divisions are not for the interest of the country and is good for enemies. Talking about ethnic and pitting one province against others is not encouraging anyone towards any positive goal.”  While misleading narratives of ethnic deprivation may not be in the interest of the National Unity Government, it is an effective tool for self-serving politicians. Hekmatyar is one of them.

khaama.com/what-is-the-rationale-behind-hekmatyars-provocative-ethnic-remarks-04091

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Jamiat-e-Islami sets conditions to accept Noor’s removal as Balkh governor

By KHAAMA PRESS - Thu Dec 21 2017

The Jamiat-e-Islami party has set conditions to accept the recent decision by President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani regarding the removal of Ata Mohammad Noor as the provincial governor of northern Balkh province, it has been reported.

The deputy spokesman of Jamiat-e-IslamiZabiFitrat has told RFE/RL’s Afghanistan service that the party will only accept the removal of Mr. Noor if the government reconsiders its recent decision and accepts the conditions of the party.

Fitrat further added that the main conditions of Jamiat-e-Islami party shared with the government includes the future option for Ata Mohammad Noor and the government should hand over the responsibility of some ministries to Jamiat as well as appointing some Ambassadors on behalf of the party.

Jamiat-e-Islami on Wednesday issued a statement and said the conditions regarding Ata Mohammad Noor were shared with the government from the beginning but not only the conditions of the party have been met but the government has adopted a policy of hatred and hostility.

The party warned that such unilateral steps are not acceptable and the government will be responsible for the repercussions, emphasizing that the party will use all options to defend the rights of the people if the government did not reconsider its decision regarding the Balkh governor.

This comes as the Office of the President announced Monday that President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani has approved the resignation of Balkh governor Ata Mohammad Noor.

The Office of the President in a statement said Mr. Noor had resigned from his position as the governor of Balkh province a while ago.

The statement further added that President Ghani has approved his resignation and Engineer Mohammad Daud has been appointed as the new governor of Balkh province.

khaama.com/jamiat-e-islami-sets-conditions-to-accept-noors-removal-as-balk-governor-04094

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Afghan govt reacts at recent Houthis missile attack on Saudi capital

By KHAAMA PRESS - Thu Dec 21 2017

The Afghan government reacted at the recent missile attack by the Houthi rebels on the capital city of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia Riyadh.

The Office of the President, ARG Palace, in a statement said the government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan is saddened by the recent missile attack by the Houthi rebels on Riyadh city.

The statement further added that terror, extremism, and use of violence will not only help to resolve the issues but in contrast will further increase the issues and will endanger the securit and stability of the nations.

ARG Palace in its statement also added the use of terror, extremism and violence as means of pressure are not justifiable.

According to reports, the Houthi rebels on Tuesday fired a ballistic missile aiming the capital city of Saudi Arabia, the Riyadh city.

However, the Saudi officials are saying that the missile was successfully intercepted before it reaches its target.

On the other hand, reports indicate that the Saudi-led coalition carried out a series of airstikes on Houthi rebels positions in Yemen on Wednesday.

According to the reports, the airstrikes were carried out in response to the latest missile attack and as a result of the airstrikes several people were killed or wounded.

khaama.com/afghan-govt-reacts-at-recent-houthis-missile-attack-on-saudi-capital-04089

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New political coalition reacts at President Ghani’s step against Balkh governor

By Khaama Press - Thu Dec 21 2017, 2:18 pm

The new political coalition, Coalition for the Salvage of Afghanistan, slammed President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani for his recent decision regarding the Balkh governor Ata Mohammad Noor.

The coalition issued a statement amid controversies surrounding the decision regarding the resignation of the Balkh governor.

The statement says President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani has been attempting to monopolize the power and sideline key political figures who had played a major role and significant contribution in the formation of the unity government.

The coalition in its statement further adds that the conspiracies against the key political figures started few months back when the first vice president General Abdul Rashid Dostum was forced to leave the country and live in exile.

According to the coalition, the other conspiracy of the government was the sidelining of Ahmad Zia Massoud who had played a key role in the presidential campaign team of Mohammad Ashraf Ghani during the elections.

The coalition warns that the sidelining of Noor will have a negative impact on the security of the northern provinces, specifically the Balkh province and will pave the way for Taliban and ISIS militants to further expand their insurgency.

It called on the political figures and the government to start negotiations in a bid to find a peaceful solution to the existing crisis.

The coalition also called on the international community and the United Nations to intervene and prevent the government for taking further unilateral steps.

khaama.com/new-political-coalition-reacts-at-president-ghanis-step-against-balkh-governor-04092

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Afghan Air Force to receive second batch of Black Hawk helicopters

By Khaama Press - Thu Dec 21 2017, 3:21 pm

The Afghan Air Force will receive the second batch of the Black Hawk helicopters in the near future as efforts are underway to bolster the fighting capabilities of the Afghan national defense and security forces. (Photo: NATO Resolute Support Mission)

“The introduction of the Black Hawk – with nearly 160 platforms due to arrive in the next few years – is part of a massive modernization of the Afghan Air Force. This year alone, the AAF performed more than 15,000 sorties in several types of aircraft in support of army and Commando operations across Afghanistan,” the NATO-led Resolute Support Mission said in short statement posted online.

The statement further added that the first four Black Hawks arrived in October, with the next group in the build-up scheduled for January, 2018.

This comes as the U.S. Air Force Brigadier General Lance Bunch, the director of the future operations, told reporters last week that the Afghan forces conducted their combat operations through 2017 with the lowest level of support from the coalition forces in the 16-year war here, and yet has had some of the most success they’ve ever had, showing they are, in fact, leading the fight and we are there to advise and enable them.

He said “Key pieces that you’re seeing is that the Afghan Air Force itself, one of the more lethal organizations they have, and one that we’re looking to triple in size by 2023, is conducting significantly more air operations in direct support of the ANDSF on the battlefield, to the tune of 500 more sorties this year than they did the year before.”

“And so we are currently able to work with and enable the Afghan National Defense Forces as they conduct successful combat operations on the battlefield.  We’re working with the Afghan Air Force to continue to build their capacity,” Gen. Bunch added.

According to Gen. Bunch, the first four UH-60 Black Hawks were delivered to the Afghan Air Force, and the first six pilots have already graduated from training.

“We expect to have eight full crews at the beginning of the fighting season in 2018.  And those Black Hawk helicopters are just the first of up to 159 that we’re going to provide them,” he said.

khaama.com/afghan-air-force-to-receive-second-batch-of-black-hawk-helicopters-04093

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India mulls buying more Mi-35 gunships for the Afghan forces

By Khaama Press - Thu Dec 21 2017, 12:06 pm

The government of India is mulling to buy more Mi-35 gunship helicopters for the Afghan Air Force in a bid to bolster the fighting the capability of the Afghan national defense and security forces, it has been reported.

The proposal comes after a request from the Ghani government, including during a visit to Delhi by Afghanistan’s National Security Advisor HanifAtmar in October, and follows several visits to Moscow by Indian officials to discuss the logistics, according to a local news outlet, The Hindu.

An Indian Defence Ministry team is also expected to travel to an East European country, possibly Serbia or Ukraine, that still operate Soviet-era aircraft, and an Afghan defence team is expected in Delhi “shortly” to follow up on the discussions, a diplomat told the paper.

The Afghan officials have not formally commented in this regard so far but Kabul has long been urging New Delhi to provide support to the Afghan security force as the country has invested billions of Dollars in reconstruction so far.

The new reports regarding New Delhi’s intention to buy gunship helicopters for the Afghan forces emerge as the United States Department of Defense, Pentagon, earlier said the United States welcome additional support by the Indian government to Afghanistan, noting the country’s contribution to the reconstruction of Afghanistan.

In its latest report, Enhancing Security and Stability in Afghanistan, Pentagon said Pentagon called India as Afghanistan’s most reliable regional partner and the largest contributor of development assistance in the region.

The report further adds that this assistance includes civil development projects such as the Afghanistan-India Friendship Dam and the Afghan parliament building.

According to Pentagon, India provides significant training opportunities for Afghan officers and enlisted personnel and has frequently offered to increase its burden sharing for Afghanistan. Approximately 130 Afghans travel to India each year to attend various military academy and commissioning programs.

khaama.com/india-mulls-buying-more-mi-35-gunships-for-the-afghan-forces-04090

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Afghan govt reacts at recent Houthis missile attack on Saudi capital

By Khaama Press - Thu Dec 21 2017, 11:32 am

The Afghan government reacted at the recent missile attack by the Houthi rebels on the capital city of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia Riyadh.

The Office of the President, ARG Palace, in a statement said the government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan is saddened by the recent missile attack by the Houthi rebels on Riyadh city.

The statement further added that terror, extremism, and use of violence will not only help to resolve the issues but in contrast will further increase the issues and will endanger the securit and stability of the nations.

ARG Palace in its statement also added the use of terror, extremism and violence as means of pressure are not justifiable.

According to reports, the Houthi rebels on Tuesday fired a ballistic missile aiming the capital city of Saudi Arabia, the Riyadh city.

However, the Saudi officials are saying that the missile was successfully intercepted before it reaches its target.

On the other hand, reports indicate that the Saudi-led coalition carried out a series of airstikes on Houthi rebels positions in Yemen on Wednesday.

According to the reports, the airstrikes were carried out in response to the latest missile attack and as a result of the airstrikes several people were killed or wounded.

khaama.com/afghan-govt-reacts-at-recent-houthis-missile-attack-on-saudi-capital-04089

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Taliban shadow district governor killed by own mine in Kunduz

By KHAAMA PRESS - Thu Dec 21 2017

A shadow district governor of the Taliban group was killed by a mine planted by his own fighters in northern Kunduz province of Afghanistan.

The 209th Shaheen Corps of the Afghan army in the North said the district shadow governor of the Taliban for Khanabad was killed after stepping on a mine planted by the Taliban fighters.

The Silab Corps officials said MawlaviDost Mohammad was attempting to escape from the Afghan forces during an operation.

The officials further added that the operation was being conducted in Ibrahim Khel village when the incident took place and as a result a bodyguard of MawlaviDost Mohammad was seriously wounded.

The anti-government armed militant groups including the Taliban insurgents have not commented regarding the report so far.

The anti-government armed militant groups frequently use explosives materials for the roadside bombings and car bombings to target the government staff and security personnel.

However, in majority of such incidents the ordinary civilians are targeted besides such bombings incur casualties to the security personnel and in some cases the Taliban militants themselves are killed or wounded.

At least two Taliban insurgents were killed while planting Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) in eastern Laghman province of Afghanistan.

According to the 201st Silab Corps of the Afghan army in the East, the incident took place on Friday in the vicinity of Alingar district.

The officials further added that the militants were busy planting IEDs when the incident took place, leaving two militants dead.

khaama.com/taliban-shadow-district-governor-killed-by-own-mine-in-kunduz-04088

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North America

Trump threatens funding cuts ahead of Jerusalem vote

AFP | Dec 20, 2017, 23:21 IST

WASHINGTON: US President Donald Trump threatened funding cuts for unspecified countries as the UN General Assembly prepared to vote on condemning Washington's recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

"All these nations that take our money and then vote against us at the Security Council and they vote against us potentially at the Assembly," Trump said at the White House.

"They take hundreds of millions of dollars and even billions of dollars and then they vote against us. Well, we're watching those votes," he continued.

"Let them vote against us. We'll save a lot. We don't care."

timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/us/trump-threatens-funding-cuts-ahead-of-jerusalem-vote/articleshow/62185102.cms

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Islamic Call Center in Latin America condemns Houthi militias' launching a ballistic missile on Riyadh

21 Dec, 2017

The Center for Islamic Call in Latin America and the Caribbean, on behalf all its Islamic institutions in Latin America has strongly condemned the launching of a ballistic missile on Riyadh by Al-Houthi militias backed by Iran, stressing its full solidarity with the Saudi government and people.

"We renew our condemnation of such acts that threaten the security of the Kingdom and its citizens and increase tension in the region," said Ahmed Ali Saifi, head of the Center.

alriyadhdaily.com/article/a5cbc5d4dd2f4a14a32a1fa18838de51

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India

Minorities Commission celebrates UN Minority Day

By Aaliya Khan

Dec 21, 2017

New Delhi: Delhi Minorities Commission celebrated the UN Minority Rights Day on Wednesday, 20 December, here with a cultural show and lectures programme. It was held at the India Islamic Cultural Centre.

In addition to offering a number of cultural items depicting various minority communities, learned speakers shed light on minority rights in the national and international perspectives and also shed light on violation of minority rights in India. Leaders of various minority communities were also felicitated at the event.

The three members of the Delhi Minorities Commission, chairman Dr Zafarul-Islam Khan, Kartar Singh Kochhar (Sikh) and Anastasia Gill (Christian) were present on the occasion.

Teams from two churches in Delhi recited the National Anthem and offered songs about the birth of Jesus Christ, children of Dr Zakir Husain Memorial Higher Secondary School offered Allama Iqbal’s Sare Jahan se achha Hindustan hamara  while a team of Shri Guru Granth Sahib Vidya Kendra recited ShabadKirtan in praise of the One Creator who created all.

Among those felicitated on the occasion were Jain Acharya Dr Lokesh Muni for his contribution to society and country and campaign against social evils and preaching of non-violence. GianiRanjit Singh, a leading figure of the Sikh community in Delhi was honoured for his contribution to the community. Catholic head of the Church of North India was felicitated for his work to eliminate disparity and inequality faced by marginalised communities.

Chief Guest Manish Sisodia, Deputy Chief Minister of Delhi, was the chief guest but he could not make it due to some urgent party work. In his absence, Avtar Singh Kalka, MLA, explained the government’s work for the minorities and reiterated the Kejriwal government's commitment to upholding minority rights in Delhi.

Speaking on minority rights, human rights activist and advocate M. Salar Khan enlightened the audience about the provision of rights to minorities in the Indian Constitution  and laws and said that our laws are better than the provisions of the international laws for minorities. He offered an overview of Articles of the Indian Constitution which safeguard the religious, cultural, and linguistic rights of minorities and said that these provisions were further augmented by amendments during the Janata Party government in mid-seventies and by the National Commission for Minorities Act in 1992. He concluded by remarking that a country's minority is represents the beauty and strength of its society.

Christian scholar Dr Vinod CV recounted the violations of minority rights in India. He enumerated several grave instances, including the anti-Sikh massacre of 1984, Gujarat riots of 2002 and the Kandhamal riots of 2007 as well as the most recent anti-Christian riots in Satna. He said that a lot is yet to be done to protect minority rights in India.

Professor ZM Khan, a political scientist, offered a general review of the recent past and the present situation of minority rights violation, focusing on the Indian Muslim experience. Sikh scholar Harpal Singh elaborated on the duties and rights of minorities.

A book on Delhi Minorities Commissions’ vision and mandate as well Central and State schemes for minorities was released on the occasion. This book is available free of charge from the commission’s office and can be downloaded by clicking m-g.in/dmc-vision-schemes-2017-18.pdf.

The function was well-attended by dignitaries of various minority communities in Delhi including representatives of Jain, Buddhist, Christian, Sikh, and Muslim faiths and political leaders. DMC chairman announce on the occasion that a conference will be held in February on minority rights during which a book on minority rights will be release to elaborate these rights in the national and international perspectives.

milligazette.com/news/16042-minorities-commission-celebrates-un-minority-day

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Pakistan to release 291 Indian fishermen on humanitarian grounds

PTI | Dec 21, 2017

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan on said it will release 291 Indian fishermen on humanitarian grounds in two phases starting from next week.

"Pakistan has decided to release and repatriate 291 Indian fishermen in two phases on December 29, 2017 and January 08, 2018 via Wagah Border as a goodwill gesture on humanitarian grounds," Foreign Office spokesman Dr Mohammad Faisal said.

Pakistan had released 68 Indian fishermen in October.

Faisal said Pakistan has always maintained that humanitarian issues should be facilitated and not politicized.

A spokesman for Pakistan's Maritime Security Force (PMSF) last week said that the authorities have arrested 400 Indian fishermen this year.

Fishermen from Pakistan and India are frequently detained for illegally fishing in each other's territorial waters since the Arabian Sea does not have a clearly defined marine border and the wooden boats lack the technology to avoid being drifting away.

timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/pakistan-to-release-291-indian-fishermen-on-humanitarian-grounds/articleshow/62194570.cms

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Uttar Pradesh: Muslim man in Meerut accused of 'land jihad' for buying house in Hindu locality

FP StaffDec, 21 2017 17:21:17 IST

A Muslim family in Uttar Pradesh's Meerut district was allegedly prevented from taking possession of a house purchased from a Hindu man and were accused of committing 'land jihad', according to several media reports.

The incident reportedly took place on  17 December, when Usman Ahmad, a software engineer purchased a section of the two-storeyed building in the Hindu-dominated Maliwara locality from a Hindu businessman, reported The Indian Express.

According to media reports, Sanjay Rastogi, a businessman had sold his house to Usman's family for Rs 28 lakh. Days after the property was registered in the name of Usman’s elder brother Nauman, their family reached the new home on 17 December.

When Rastogi reached his house to give the possession of the property to Nauman, residents of the area objected to it and staged a protest, reportedHindustan Times. The report further said that the local police rushed to the sport immediately and tried to resolve the matter.

However, the matter aggravated when the local residents protesting against the Ahmad family's entry were supported by politicians, including the corporator of the area.

According to the Hindustan Timesreport, Deepak Sharma, general secretary of the BJP's  youth wing BJYM, claim that Hindus are “continuously selling properties… Muslims are buying them”. The Indian Express quoted Sharma as saying that their 'culture, thoughts and way of life are different from ours' and said that with time, the area would be dominated by Muslims.

Usman was quoted by The Indian Express as saying that the family bought the house in Maliwara as it was close to the school where his father works.

However, according toANI, Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP) Maan Singh Chouhan said that the issue was a minor one and that it was resolved. He was quoted by ANI as saying, "The issue was not a big one and was resolved after talking to both the parties."

A day after the incident, the Bajrang Dal convenor for Meerut province, BalrajDungar released several statements said that the minority community in several areas in Meerut have done this to dominate the area.

He was quoted by The Times of India as saying that there is a 'sinister conspiracy' by minority communities to buy houses in Hindu-dominated areas. Dungar said that this would lead to an exodus of Hindu residents, and that this 'comes under land jihad.'

firstpost.com/india/uttar-pradesh-muslim-man-in-meerut-accused-of-land-jihad-for-buying-house-in-hindu-locality-4269585.html

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Africa

South Africa's ANC decides on Israel embassy downgrade ahead of Jerusalem vote

 

JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) - South Africa’s ruling ANC decided to downgrade its embassy in Tel Aviv to a liaison office over a U.S. decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, ahead of a U.N. vote on Thursday on a resolution urging Washington to drop the move.

The decision was taken at the end of a five-day African National Congress conference, in which Cyril Ramaphosa was elected as its new leader and South Africa’s likely next president after 2019 elections, following Jacob Zuma.

“Delegates endorsed the proposal that we must give practical support to the oppressed people of Palestine and resolved on an immediate and unconditional downgrade of the SA (South Africa) Embassy in Israel to a Liaison Office,” new ANC Secretary General Ace Magashule said on Thursday.

There was no immediate comment from Israel’s Foreign Ministry.

South Africa’s ministry for international relations and cooperation said on its website that it was deeply concerned about Trump’s move as it would undermine Israeli-Palestinian peacemaking, which has been frozen since 2014.

The South African Board of Jewish Deputies and the South African Zionist Federation jointly condemned the ANC’s decision.

The 193-member U.N. General Assembly will hold a rare special session on Thursday at the request of Arab and Muslim states to vote on the draft resolution, which Washington vetoed on Monday in the 15-member U.N. Security Council.

Most countries regard the status of Jerusalem as a matter to be settled in an eventual Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement, although that process has been frozen for over three years.

Israel deems Jerusalem its eternal and indivisible capital and wants all embassies based there. Palestinians want the capital of an independent Palestinian state to be in the city’s eastern sector, which Israel captured in the 1967 Middle East War and annexed in a move never recognized internationally.

The ANC’s move comes at a time when Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has been pursuing closer ties with other African countries.

Last month, on a visit to Kenya, Netanyahu announced that Israel was opening a new embassy in nearby Rwanda “as part of the expanding Israeli presence in Africa and the deepening of cooperation between Israel and African countries”. Israel is seeking to expel thousands of African migrants to Rwanda.

On Thursday, Netanyahu described the United Nations as a “house of lies” on Thursday and said Israel “totally rejects this vote, even before approval”.

Trump upended decades of U.S. policy on Dec. 6 when he recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, generating outrage from Palestinians and the Arab and Muslim world, and concern among Washington’s Western allies.

When under white-minority rule, South Africa was one of Israel’s few allies on the continent. But after the 1994 demise of apartheid, relations cooled as the black-majority ANC took over. The ANC has condemned Israeli occupation of territories where Palestinians seek statehood, while maintaining full diplomatic and trade relations with Israel.

Reporting by James Macharia in Johannesburg and Jeffrey Heller in Jerusalem; editing by Mark Heinrich

Our Standards:The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

reuters.com/article/us-usa-trump-israel-safrica/south-africas-anc-decides-on-israel-embassy-downgrade-ahead-of-jerusalem-vote-idUSKBN1EF1RJ

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Let us stand for religious freedom for all Alabamians

on December 20, 2017

By KhaulaHadeed, Executive Director of the Alabama chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the country's largest American Muslim civil rights organization.  She is a proud Alabamian, a practicing Muslim, a U.S. citizen, a registered voter, and a firm believer in the promise of America.

One week ago, Alabamians who are Muslim, along with hundreds of thousands of fellow Alabamians voted in the special senate election. Voter registration drives and subsequent 'Get out the Vote' efforts capitalized on a newfound political attention in our communities.

Apathy, distrust, disillusionment and disinterest in voting have long plagued many fellow Americans. But because of the Presidential administration's public attacks on our families and children, Americans who are Muslim have taken greater interest in voting.

Anti-Muslim rhetoric has been adopted by many misguided candidates aspiring for political office in our state. One example is Roy Moore, who represented the zenith of religious-based bigotry. He was unabashed in his defamation of everyday Islamic practices, which actually inspire millions of American Muslim families, youth and children to be good citizens and give back to their local communities as volunteers in fire departments, PTAs, food banks and many other organizations. Inspired by Islamic teachings of serving God by serving humanity, there are about 50,000 American Muslim medical doctors across the nation, and several here in Alabama, saving American lives every day.

Trump and Moore's consistent attempts to undermine our constitutional right to freely practice our faith galvanized fair-minded Alabamians to come out and exercise our right to vote. This made it much easier for American Muslim community service organizations to get Alabamians who are Muslim to participate in elections, and contributed to a very high number of Alabama Muslims voting in this month's special senate election.

CAIR-Alabama's conservative estimate in regard to the number of Muslims who exercised their right to vote in the special senate election of December 12, 2017 is approximately 20,000. This number is significant as it also represents the 1.6% margin of Doug Jones' victory over Roy Moore.

Alabama Muslim voters share our country's strong family values, dedicated to raising and educating their children. They want to support candidates who believe that Americans who are Muslim deserve the same opportunities as all Americans - to build better futures for our families.

American Muslims share the same American values and freedoms that we all cherish, and believe in the right and freedom of all U.S. citizens to live and worship in their own way. We are standing up to defend our cherished American value of freedom of religion, a freedom that benefits all Alabamians.

All Americans deserve to be treated with the same dignity, fairness, and respect. The government should not make new rules banning one religion or singling out one group for discrimination based on how they pray. 

American Muslims are the most racially and ethnically diverse religious group in the nation. Approximately half of Alabama Muslims are African-American.  The largest Alabamian Muslim populations reside in Jefferson, Madison, Montgomery, and Mobile counties. Thousands of Alabamian Muslims contribute to our state's economy in many roles including nurses, doctors, teachers, and business people creating good paying American jobs.

With a greater sense of urgency to defend religious freedom for all as well as a renewed determination to organize and have their voices heard and their well-being ensured, Alabamians who are Muslim will continue to become more and more politically active. 

Close elections will be contested with one more important demographic in the minds of those running these campaigns - American Muslim voters who simply want to succeed in the traditional American way - by working hard and supporting their families.

Whether it's through elections or just living out our faith teachings of serving God by serving humanity, American Muslims will continue to serve our nation alongside all fair-minded Americans. Anti-Muslim bigotry will continue to lose at the polls, so that all Alabamians may freely believe in and worship God without government interference.

al.com/opinion/index.ssf/2017/12/let_us_stand_for_religious_fre.html

 

URL: http://newageislam.com/islamic-world-news/new-age-islam-news-bureau/indonesian-police-warn-islamists-against-raids-in-search-of-santa-hats/d/113647

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