New Age Islam
Tue Dec 01 2020, 12:28 AM

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

Inspired By 'Blasphemy Killer', New Pakistani Party Eyes 2018 Vote

















FILE PHOTO A woman leaves after visiting a shrine where the grave of Mumtaz Qadri is situated, the man Pakistan executed last year for assassinating a governor who proposed reforming the country’s blasphemy laws, on the outskirts of Islamabad, Pakistan, January 5, 2017. REUTERS/Faisal Mahmood/File Photo

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Inspired By 'Blasphemy Killer', New Pakistani Party Eyes 2018 Vote

Pak-Occupied Kashmir Is Run By a Deep State, Is Hub of Terrorism: India at UN

Trump Says He Has Made Decision on Iran Deal, Declines To Say What It Is

Thai Authorities Detain Well-Known Anti-Muslim Buddhist Monk

Pope Francis, Muslim World League Secretary Discuss Interfaith Coexistence

 

Pakistan

Inspired By 'Blasphemy Killer', New Pakistani Party Eyes 2018 Vote

'Whatsapp Blasphemy' and the Plight of Pakistani Christians

Pakistan's short-range nuclear weapons to counter India's 'Cold Start' doctrine: Abbasi

Pakistan should establish fund to help Rohingya Muslims: Nisar

Pakistan's relationship with US not defined by Afghanistan: PM Abbasi

Govt seeks dismissal of petition against militant ‘clemency plan’

COAS signs death warrants for four hardcore terrorists

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India

Pak-Occupied Kashmir Is Run By a Deep State, Is Hub of Terrorism: India at UN

Third Man from Lakhvi Family Is In J-K, 10 Top Lashkar Men Return

As Rohingya Muslims Face Uncertainty, Myanmar Hindus See Hope in India

Agra think tank holds discussion on national integration and communal harmony

Pakistan raises objection with US over greater role for India in Afghanistan

J&K: Hizbul Mujahideen terrorist arrested from Anantnag

Don’t create Hindu-Muslim distinction, Calcutta High Court tells Mamata Banerjee

J&K police arrests Hizbul Mujahideen militant Aadil Ahmed Bhat

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North America

Trump Says He Has Made Decision on Iran Deal, Declines To Say What It Is

US Designation of Muslim Brotherhood as ‘Terrorist’ Group Needs Time: Al-Sisi

Iran in 'technical compliance' with nuclear deal: US secretary of state

Congress has no evidence showing Iran violated nuclear deal: Democrats

Russia rebukes Trump, says to 'defend' Iran nuclear deal

US ‘strongly opposes’ planned Iraq Kurdish referendum

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Southeast Asia

Thai Authorities Detain Well-Known Anti-Muslim Buddhist Monk

Philippine Security Guards Working In KL, Selangor Nabbed For Abu Sayyaf Links

China Calls for Understanding of Myanmar's Need to Protect Stability

Hearing to deport Indian preacher Zakir Naik postponed to Oct

Islamic State-aligned militant jailed over plot to bomb Indonesian presidential palace

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Arab World

Pope Francis, Muslim World League Secretary Discuss Interfaith Coexistence

Iraq Launches Offensive on Hawija, An ISIS-Held Region Near Kirkuk

Sisi Tells Fox News: Need to Confront Terror Ideology And Misconceptions

Sao Paulo Islamic Conference Recommends Creation of Islamic Media for Latin American Countries

Britain, Saudi Arabia sign military cooperation deal

Saudi Arabia does not believe Iran abiding by nuclear deal: minister

US-backed Syrian forces seize '90pc' of Raqqa from IS

US Army Likely to Pull Back from Key Base at Syria's Border with Jordan

Anti-ISIS coalition taking different approaches in Iraq, Syria

Raqqa campaign in final stages, SDF says

A UN official refuses to Qatar’s use of his name at a seminar on terrorism

Anti-ISIS coalition taking different approaches in Iraq, Syria

Daesh attacks Iran aid convoy in eastern Syria

Bahrain’s Al Khalifah regime steps up crackdown ahead of landmark Shia event

Hundreds attend major anti-secession rally in Iraq’s Sulaymaniyah

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Mideast

Security Official: Even Penguins Feel Ashamed of Israel's Crimes

IRGC Top Commander: Time to Correct US Miscalculations

Abbas at UN calls for end to ‘apartheid’ for Palestinians

Turkish minister confirms agents' captured by Kurdish rebels

Saudi FM Jubeir: Iran has not lived up to terms of nuclear deal

Turkish jets kill three civilians in Iraq: Report

Negotiations with US on any issues would be ‘waste of time’: Rouhani

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Europe

Muslim Party ‘Taken over by Islamists’ Rejected by Swedish Election Agency

Kremlin Frets as Russia's Once Restive Islamist Region Takes Up Political Islam

Muslims willing to embrace non-Muslims in Europe, EU survey finds

Britain First leaders charged with religious harassment

London police arrest two more men linked to London Underground attack

Britain’s PM urges all parties’ commitment to Iran nuclear deal

France calls for UN action on Rohingya 'genocide'

UK to suspend its military ties with Myanmar

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South Asia

Myanmar Buddhist Protesters Try to Block Aid Shipment to Muslim Rohingya

Myanmar Vice President Bluffs with Suu Kyi’s Lines

Afghanistan Arms Civilians to Protect Mosques During Muharram

Bangladesh army steps in as Rohingya Muslims suffer amid heavy rainfall

Bangladesh PM says Myanmar must take back Rohingya

Gunmen ambush the vehicle of Kabul CID chief Gen. Ehsas

Hekmatyar warns of public uprising against groups pursuing violence

Kapisa Ulema chief was assassinated on Taliban instructions: NDS

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Africa

UN Unveils New Peace Plan for Libya

Somali Supermodel Iman Thanks Turkish First Lady

Nigerian court okays ban for Igbo secessionist group

Enugu Mosque Fire: Catholic Bishop commiserates with Muslim community

Kenya braces for Supreme Court ruling on polls

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau

URL: http://www.newageislam.com/islamic-world-news/new-age-islam-news-bureau/inspired-by--blasphemy-killer-,-new-pakistani-party-eyes-2018-vote/d/112609

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Inspired By 'Blasphemy Killer', New Pakistani Party Eyes 2018 Vote

Asif Shahzad

Sep 21, 2017

LAHORE, Pakistan (Reuters) - The head of a new Pakistani Islamist party that lionizes the killer of a provincial governor said it would take its rallying cry of “death to blasphemers” to next year’s general election, after its surprisingly strong showing in a recent vote.

The Tehrik-e-Labaik Pakistan party, which won more than 7,000 votes at a weekend by-election, was born out of a protest movement supporting Mumtaz Qadri, a bodyguard of the governor of Punjab province who gunned down his boss in 2011 over his call to reform strict blasphemy laws.

Supporters of Tehreek-e-Labaik waved photos of Qadri, who became an icon for Muslim hardliners after his execution last year, at campaign rallies in the eastern city of Lahore, where it won 6 percent of the vote in a contest for the seat vacated by ousted former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.

“He is a hero,” party leader Khadim Hussain Rizvi said when asked about Qadri, adding that after its third-place finish in Sunday’s by-election it would focus on next year’s poll. “Our preparation starts from today. We will contest bravely.”

While the party has almost no chance of gaining power next year, it is part of a new crop of political movements that espouse stricter Islamic rule as a remedy to corruption accusations and squabbling among Pakistan’s three main parties.

A stronger showing for Islamists could give them more influence after the election, expected to be hard-fought after the Supreme Court barred Sharif from holding office.

In an interview with Reuters, Rizvi outlined his vision of governance according the Barelvi branch of Islam, of which he is a prominent cleric.

Frequently citing Koranic verses and Pakistani history, he said his party could solve corruption problems “in a day” through stricter adherence to sharia, or Islamic law.

“Sharia will have to be enforced. No one should be worried about it,” he said, sitting in the upper room of a Lahore mosque surrounded by followers, many who had adopted Qadri’s signature look of long hair and kohl-lined eyes.

He acknowledged his vision would mean some changes to daily life, giving the example of barring women from working as airline flight attendants.

Death to Blasphemers

In its party platform, Tehrik-e-Labaik Pakistan calls for free education, free healthcare and social justice.

But it is best known for its public and passionate support for Mumtaz Qadri - campaign rallies featured posters with Qadri’s photo - and its insistence that Muslim-majority Pakistan’s blasphemy laws should remain among the world’s harshest.

Dozens of people convicted of blasphemy are currently on death row and at least 65 Pakistanis have been murdered over blasphemy allegations since 1990, according to the Center for Research and Security Studies.

One of the highest-profile killings was of Punjab Governor Taseer, who had called for the laws to be re-examined after a minority Christian woman was sentenced to death for blasphemy.

After his arrest over the killing, bodyguard Qadri drew a slew of admirers among Islamists who showered him with rose petal at court hearings. Tens of thousands thronged his funeral last year to condemn Sharif’s government for his hanging.

Tehreek-e-Labaik spokesman Ejaz Ashrafi said the party started out as The Movement to Free Mumtaz Qadri, but changed its name and entered politics after his execution.

Asked about Qadri’s role as an inspiration to the party, leader Rizvi said: “He is a hero until doomsday. He is a hero beyond doomsday.”

Asked if any Muslim has the obligation to kill a blasphemer, Rizvi said: “No ... there is a law. Hand him over to that.”

But Qadri, he added, was justified because Pakistani police had failed to charge Taseer with blasphemy for criticizing the law.

Votes for Islamists

Tehreek-e-Labaik surprised many by its relatively strong showing in the Lahore by-election to fill the parliamentary seat left vacant when the Supreme Court ousted Sharif over unreported income, in a case initiated by opposition figure Imran Khan.

The seat was won, as expected, by Sharif’s wife, Kulsoom, but the ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) party’s share of the vote in the constituency was cut to 49.3 percent from 61 percent in a 2013 election.

Khan, a former cricket star, saw his Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party increase its share to 37.6 percent from 35 percent in the last vote.

But much of the PML-N’s margin loss came from votes cast for candidates of new Islamist parties.

In addition to Tehreek-e-Labaik, a newly declared party linked to Hafiz Saeed, named by the United States and India as the mastermind of the 2008 Mumbai attacks that killed 166 people, won about 5 percent of the Lahore vote.

Religious parties have never gained more than a few seats in Pakistan’s parliament because they tend to appeal to one particular sect or a single issue, such as blasphemy.

Still, a surge of support for the ultra-religious parties could drain away votes from mainstream groups and potentially give Islamists leverage in policy-making.

Tehreek-e-Labaik’s Rizvi said his only goal was to see a stricter vision of Islam enshrined in the law of the land.

“We want to bring the religion of Islam to the throne,” he said.

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-pakistan-politics-islamists/inspired-by-blasphemy-killer-new-pakistani-party-eyes-2018-vote-idUSKCN1BV29V

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Pak-occupied Kashmir is run by a deep state, is hub of terrorism: India at UN

Sep 20, 2017

NEW DELHI: India has lashed out at Pakistan saying it is the “face of international terrorism” and that its agency Inter-Services Intelligence is carrying out atrocities in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir as well as Balochistan.

Tearing into Pakistan for its recent statement on Kashmir at the UN Human Rights Council meeting, India on Monday said, “Pakistan’s unsolicited and unwarranted comments pertaining to the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir are factually incorrect and absolutely misleading. We outrightly reject them.”

Exercising India’s ‘right of reply’ to Pakistan’s statement, Vishnu Reddy, a diplomat from India’s Permanent Mission of India in Geneva, spelt out the biggest challenge faced by the region. “The foremost challenge to the stability of the region is the scourge of terrorism. Pakistan’s malicious attempt to hide its interference behind the facade of domestic discontent carries no credibility with the world,” he said.

Reddy hit back at Pakistan by highlighting the issues of Pakistan-backed terrorism in Kashmir and human rights violations in Balochistan, something that India has been increasingly raising at international platforms since Prime Minister Narendra Modi referred to it in his Independence Day address last year.

“Pakistan-occupied Kashmir is run by a ‘deep state’ and has become an epicentre of terrorism. Its (Pakistan’s) human rights record in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir and Baluchistan is deplorable,” Reddy said.

The issue of Balochistan has figured prominently at the current UNHRC session, with the exiled Baloch political parties highlighting atrocities of Pakistan Army including extra-judicial killings particularly during the past three months.

Reddy went on to apprise the UNHRC of the evidence on cross-border terrorism that India has shared with Pakistan in order to get the latter to dismantle terror infrastructure.

“Pakistan has been the face of international terrorism. Even the foreign minister of Pakistan has admitted that internationally banned outfits, including Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) and Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM), are operating from within Pakistan.

In the wake of growing international concern, Pakistan must shut down its terror manufacturing units and bring the perpetrators of terrorism to justice,” Reddy said.

India has been rebutting Pakistan’s statements on Kashmir not only in Geneva but also in New York and every other fora where Pakistan has sought to “mislead” the international community. External affairs minister Sushma Swaraj is also expected to raise the issue at the UN General Assembly on September 23.

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/pak-occupied-kashmir-is-run-by-a-deep-state-is-hub-of-terrorism-india-at-un/articleshow/60760454.cms

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Trump says he has made decision on Iran deal, declines to say what it is

20 September 2017

US President Donald Trump said on Wednesday that he had made a decision on whether or not to pull the United States out of the 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and world powers, but he declined to say what it was.

Trump, when asked by reporters, said: “I have decided.”

If Trump does not certify in October that Iran is complying with the agreement, the US Congress will have 60 days to decide whether to reimpose sanctions waived under the pact.

Iran is prepared for all possible scenarios if US President Donald Trump scraps a nuclear deal reached between Tehran and six major powers in 2015, a senior Iranian official told Reuters on Wednesday.

“Iran is ready for any possible scenarios if Trump walks out of the deal. That includes immediately resuming its nuclear work that was curbed under the deal,” said the official on condition of anonymity.

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2017/09/20/Trump-says-he-has-made-decision-on-Iran-deal-declines-to-say-what-it-is.html

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Thai authorities detain well-known anti-Muslim Buddhist monk

Sep 21, 2017

Thai authorities have detained a Buddhist monk who has posted online videos that harshly denounce Islam.

Police Col. Dusit Promsin in the southern province of Songkhla said the monk, Apichart Punnajanto, was detained there Tuesday by officers from the Crime Suppression Division. Officers of the division refused to comment, but Dusit said the monk was taken into custody because of videos he had posted online, though he did not describe the content.

Apichart has spoken out on many issues, but is best known for posting a suggestion that a mosque be burned down anytime a monk is killed by Muslim separatist insurgents in the country’s deep south, where more than 6,500 people have been killed since an insurgency flared in 2004. The violence occurs mostly in Thailand’s three southernmost provinces, the only ones with Muslim majorities in the Buddhist-dominated nation, but has on occasion spilled over into neighboring Songkhla.

Apichart also recently renewed a feud with a government religious official, saying in a video that he filed a defamation suit against him and sarcastically urging people in the south, where the official was recently transferred, to give him a “warm welcome.”

The military government that took power in 2014 after staging a coup has the power to detain people without due process if they are considered a threat to public order or national security. They are frequently held briefly for what is called “attitude adjustment” before being freed without formal charges.

The Cross Cultural Foundation, a rights group active in the south, said it doesn’t support actions by religious leaders that instigate conflict among religious groups, but urged Apichart’s immediate release.

http://www.hindustantimes.com/world-news/thai-authorities-detain-well-known-anti-muslim-buddhist-monk/story-ZdcodfQ4LO3OiGlewP0HwI.html

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Pope Francis, Muslim World League Secretary discuss interfaith coexistence

20 September 2017

Pope Francis received the Secretary General of the Muslim World League Dr. Mohammed bin Abdul Karim Al-Issa, who is currently visiting the Vatican.

During the meeting, both exchanged views on a number of issues of common interest, which are in the interest of peace and global harmony, and “cooperation in issues of peace, coexistence and the spread of love”.

For his part, the Secretary General of the Muslim World League expressed appreciation of the Muslim world for the pope's fair positions on the false claims that link extremism and violence to Islam, and that these acts have nothing to do with Islam and that in all religions, some followers have extremism.

At the end of the meeting, Pope Francis and Al-Issa exchanged commemorative gifts. Al-Issa presented the pope with a symbolic gift representing Islamic civilization, expressing its interaction with other civilizations, especially the civilizational communication with the Vatican and its universal religious symbolism.

The Pope also presentative a commemorative pen represents the occasion of the 500th anniversary of the construction of the St. Peter Basilica, as well as a commemorative medal commemorating the fifth year of his sitting at the Holy See.

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/gulf/2017/09/20/Pope-Francis-Muslim-World-League-Secretary-discuss-interfaith-coexistence.html

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Pakistan

 

'Whatsapp Blasphemy' and the Plight of Pakistani Christians

Sep 21, 2017

On Friday, an anti-terrorism court in eastern Pakistan sentenced Nadeem James, a 35-year-old Christian, to death on blasphemy charges. James, a tailor by profession, was accused by a friend of sharing "blasphemous messages" on WhatsApp's text messaging service.

Blasphemy is a highly sensitive topic in the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, where around 97 percent of its 180 million inhabitants are Muslim. Rights advocates have long been demanding a reform of the controversial blasphemy laws, which were introduced by the Islamic military dictator General Zia-ul-Haq in the 1980s.

Activists say the laws have little to do with blasphemy and are often used to settle petty disputes and personal vendettas. Religious groups oppose any change to the blasphemy law and consider it necessary for Pakistan's Islamic identity.

Read more: Pakistan Christian teen detained over 'Koran burning'

Pakistan's Christians and other religious minorities complain of legal and social discrimination. In the past few years, many Christians and Hindus have been brutally murdered over unproven blasphemy allegations.

One of Pakistan's most high profile blasphemy cases is that of Asia Bibi, a Christian woman who was found guilty of committing blasphemy while working in the fields in 2009 and was sentenced to death. In 2014, her death sentence was upheld by the Lahore High Court. Amnesty International called the verdict a "grave injustice."

In one case, a young girl between the ages of 10 to 14 years with Down syndrome, was accused in August of 2012 of burning pages upon which verses of the Koran were inscribed. Rimsha Masih was taken into police custody and only released months later, when charges were dropped. The case caused an uproar in her home town and beyond and sparked riots and violence against Christians in the region. In 2013, she and her family relocated to Canada.

In 2014, a Christian couple was beaten to death for allegedly desecrating a copy of the Koran. Their bodies were subsequently burned in a brick kiln.

Read more: Pakistan journalism student latest victim of blasphemy vigilantes

In an interview with DW, James' brother, Faryaad Masih, rejects blasphemy allegations against his brother and says his family has been living in constant fear since James' arrest in July 2016.

DW: You deny that your brother, Nadeem James, sent blasphemous messages through WhatsApp. Do you have any proof to substantiate your claims?

Faryaad Masih: Police say that my brothers sent blasphemous material through WhatsApp but those messages could easily have been sent by James' Muslim friends through his phone. Actually, the main complainant in the case is the one who forwarded those messages.

Why would James' friends make false allegations against him?

James has three friends who live in the Gujarat area. Their names are Shakeel, Yasir and Akram. Our neighbor's daughter, Nargis, fell in love with James although she knew that he is married with two children. His friends told him he could only marry Nargis if he converted to Islam although the girl had no problem with James' religion. My brother refused to convert to Islam, and that created a rift among friends.

How did the people in the area react after the "blasphemy" news broke?

As soon as the news spread on July 4, last year, a crowd of around 200 people surrounded our houses. James, another brother of mine and I were at work at the time. When we came to know about this, we went into hiding. The mob was ready to set our houses on fire, but police stopped them.

James surrendered after two days but our family had to move to another area for safety. It saddens me that people with whom we had lived for over 17 years became our enemies after the incident.

Are you still afraid?

After James' arrest things became quite normal. But since his death sentence, fear has swept across the Christian community in the area. We rarely venture out of our house and live in constant fear. We know that anything can happen to us.

Who is providing you legal help?

No one is helping us. Our cattle have been stolen. I ran a furniture shop with a Muslim friend who gave me only 40,000 rupees [316 euros] for furniture worth over 250,000 rupees [1,977 euros]. When I demanded more money, he started threatening me. Our neighbors don't talk to us and people in the area are reluctant to interact with us.

Do you plan to appeal James' death sentence?

We are hiring a new lawyer through a non-governmental organization. We will appeal against his conviction and pray for his release. Our previous lawyer did not defend James properly. He did not even ask the court to investigate how the blasphemous message originated.

What kinds of problems do Christians have to face in Pakistan?

James told me about a 14-year-old Christian girl in his jail who has been convicted of blasphemy. How can such a young girl commit such a thing? There is no justice for Christians in Pakistan.

What sort of help are you expecting from Pakistan's civil society over James' issue?

We are poor people. Mine and James' wives have also been implicated in a false case of abetment. I am an illiterate person, so is James. He did not complete his primary education. His friends framed him. The authorities should take notice of our situation.

The interview was conducted by Sattar Khan, DW's Islamabad correspondent.

http://www.dw.com/en/whatsapp-blasphemy-and-the-plight-of-pakistani-christians/a-40597455

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Pakistan's short-range nuclear weapons to counter India's 'Cold Start' doctrine: Abbasi

Sep 21, 2017

NEW YORK: Pakistan Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi said on Wednesday his country has developed short-range nuclear weapons to counter the 'Cold Start' doctrine+ adopted by the Indian Army.

Abbasi was also assertive of Pakistan's nuclear arsenals being safe and secure.

"We have a very robust and secure command-and-control system over our strategic nuclear assets. Time has proved that it's a process that is very secure. It's a process that has complete civilian oversight through the NCA," Abbasi said in response to a question at the Council on Foreign Relations, a top American think-tank.

The Nuclear Command Authority (NCA) of Pakistan is the authority responsible for command, control and operational decisions regarding the country's nuclear arsenals.

"As far as tactical nuclear weapons (are concerned), we do not have any fielded tactical nuclear weapons. We have developed short-range nuclear weapons as a counter to the 'Cold Start' doctrine that India has developed+ . Again, those are in the same command-and-control authority that controls the other strategic weapons," he said.

Moderator David Sanger said Pakistan has the fastest growing nuclear arsenal in the world.

"There's no nuclear arsenal in the world that is growing faster. And there's no nuclear arsenal in the world, other than North Korea's, that tends to worry American more, because they worry about the safety of the arsenal. They worry about the command and control of the arsenal," Sanger said.

Abbasi said that the command-and-control systems they have in place are as secure as anybody else's in the world.

"The last 20 years are testament to that," Abbasi said in response to another question.

"So let there be no doubt that any extremist element or somebody like that can gain control of fissile material or a nuclear weapon. There is just no possibility of that. And it's time-tested, and it's a very secure system that has been put in place," he said.

"Pakistan is a responsible global citizen, and we've shown a responsibility on the ground with this huge war on terror that we've been fighting for the last 15 years," Abbasi said.

The Pakistan premier sought to dispel the notion surrounding the country's alleged inability to handle its nuclear programmes properly.

Full report at:

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/pakistan/pakistans-short-range-nuclear-weapons-to-counter-indias-cold-start-doctrine-abbasi/articleshow/60773682.cms

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Pakistan should establish fund to help Rohingya Muslims: Nisar

September 20, 2017

Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) leader and former Interior Minister Chaudhary Nisar stated that Pakistan should establish a fund to help Rohingya Muslims.

While addressing in National Assembly Nisar urged the assembly members to give their monthly pay for Rohingya fund. "The Myanmar government is killing the Rohingya Muslims as they are being killed by hatchets," he said.

Former Interior Minister further urged the government to call an OIC meeting on Rohingya issue and raised it at international level.

Furthermore, National Assembly passed the resolution against atrocities against Rohingya Muslims. The resolution was presented by Federal Law Minister in the house.

Full report at:

http://nation.com.pk/national/20-Sep-2017/pakistan-should-establish-fund-to-help-rohingya-muslims

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Pakistan's relationship with US not defined by Afghanistan: PM Abbasi

September 21, 2017

Pakistan's relationship with the United States is 70 years strong and it is not defined by the conflict in Afghanistan alone, said Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi while speaking at Washington's Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) think tank on Wednesday.

Abbasi's visit to New York to attend the 72nd session of United Nations General Assembly comes at a time when tensions between US and Pakistan are running high in the wake of Trump's Afghan and South Asia policy.

Speaking during an hour-long session at CFR with David Sanger, the national security correspondent for The New York Times, Abbasi said that Pakistan intends to remain engaged and partner with the US in order to defeat terror in the region and find lasting peace in Afghanistan.

"We have engaged with the US. We continue to engage with them to resolve any differences that come up and move forward," he said.

Once again denying President Donald Trump's assertion that Pakistan provides sanctuaries to terrorists, the prime minister said "nobody wants peace in Afghanistan more than Pakistan".

He said that Pakistan has asked Afghanistan to provide coordinates for any terrorist sanctuary that it alleges exists in Pakistan and "we will take action against that sanctuary".

Pakistan has suffered $120 billion worth of economic losses due to the "vicious" war the country has been involved in to rout the militants, said the PM, adding that the impression that Pakistan is fighting the war against terrorism with foreign resources is wrong.

"We fought the war with our own resources and we defeated the terrorists."

Abbasi claimed that Pakistan has never billed the US forces for ground or air logistics across its territory.

Action will be taken against Hafiz Saeed backed-candidate: PM

Answering a question about the presence of Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JuD) chief Hafiz Saeed on political campaign posters during recently held by-election in Lahore, the prime minister said the Election Commission of Pakistan will take action against the independent candidate who used Saeed's photo during his campaign, "which is illegal to do".

Noting that the candidate had polled about four per cent of the vote, Abbasi said: "We do not condone such activity, and we will take action where it’s required."

Abbasi's 'icebreaker' meeting with Pence

Abbasi had met US Vice President Mike Pence on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly on Tuesday afternoon, launching a process that both hoped would help rebuild ties between the two nations, once close allies in the war against terror.

As the first step, the US expressed its desire to send a delegation to Pakistan for talks on bilateral relations while Pakistan vowed to stay engaged with the US despite differences. Both sides also hoped that the process initiated on Tuesday would halt the downward trajectory that followed the Aug 21 launching of the new US policy for Afghanistan and South Asia.

Full report at:

https://www.dawn.com/news/1359096/pakistans-relationship-with-us-not-defined-by-afghanistan-pm-abbasi

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Govt seeks dismissal of petition against militant ‘clemency plan’

September 21, 2017

PESHAWAR: The defence ministry on Wednesday requested the Peshawar High Court to dismiss a petition against the federal government’s alleged plan to give clemency to the former spokesman for the banned militant outfit Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan, saying crackdown and investigation against terrorists on the revelations of Ehsanullah Ehsan was underway.

In a written response to the petition of an Army Public School Peshawar student’s father, the defence ministry told the bench consisting of Chief Justice Yahya Afridi and Justice Nasir Mehfooz that it would handle the issue of Ehsanullah Ehsan in line with the law.

It said the petition should be dismissed for being ‘without merit and in a premature stage’.

Defence ministry says it’ll handle Ehsanullah Ehsan issue in line with the law

The reply was submitted by the attorney general’s office on behalf of the defence ministry.

The bench was hearing the petition of Fazal Khan, father of one of many APC students, who were killed by the TTP militants during the 2014 attack on campus.

The bench directed Barrister Amirullah Chamkani, lawyer for the petitioner, to prepare his arguments on the point whether the high court had the powers to stop the federal government from awarding clemency to any person.

The lawyer said he had received the reply of the defence ministry on Wednesday and would address the court on next date on that reply as well as the query put before him by the court.

The petitioner has requested the court to order the trial of Ehsanullah Ehsan, who is in the custody of security agencies, by a military court for different acts of militancy, including the APS carnage.

The petitioner, whose son Sahibzada Umar Khan was killed in the APS incident, requested the court to direct the respondents, including the federal government, to refrain from giving clemency to Ehsanullah Ehsan.

He prayed the court to declare that Ehsanullah be tried by a military court expeditiously and that he being a person affected by the 2014 carnage be formally informed about the findings of the trial thereafter.

The respondents in the petition are federal government through interior secretary, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government through chief secretary, defence ministry through defence secretary, Inter-Services Intelligence director general, chief of the army staff, and law and human rights ministry through its secretary.

Barrister Amirullah Chamkani, lawyer for the petitioner, said 148 students and staff members, including eighth grader son of the petitioner, had lost lives in the Dec 16, 2014, APS attack.

He added that the TTP had victoriously claimed responsibility for the attack next day through Ehsanullah Ehsan and announced plans to carry out more such attacks.

The petitioner claimed that after a long period of almost three years, one of the masterminds of the APS incident, Ehsanullah Ehsan alias Tariq, had surrendered or was captured by the law-enforcement agencies, which had given some hope to him (petitioner) that the perpetrators of the APS incident would be brought to justice.

He however said unfortunately to his utmost surprise and disappointment, Ehsanullah Ehsan far from being brought to justice was being portrayed as an ‘unaware, innocent and brainwashed’ man, who had inadvertently masterminded the APS carnage and many other terrorist activities in the country, especially in KP.

Full report at:

https://www.dawn.com/news/1359055/govt-seeks-dismissal-of-petition-against-militant-clemency-plan

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COAS signs death warrants for four hardcore terrorists

21-Sep-17

ISLAMABAD: Chief of Army Staff Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa on Wednesday confirmed the death sentences awarded to four hardcore terrorists involved in heinous offences related to terrorism, the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) said on Wednesday.

The men were involved in attacks on law enforcement agencies and the armed forces. On the whole, they were involved in the killing of 21 individuals, the ISPR said, adding that arms and explosives were also recovered from the convicts’ possession. The convicts were tried by military courts and awarded death sentences.

According to details, convict Shabbir Ahmed, s/o Muhammad Shafique and a member of a proscribed organisation, was involved in attacking the armed forces, which resulted in death of Major Adnan and 10 other soldiers. He was also involved in the kidnapping and slaughter of four soldiers. Convict Umara Khan, s/o Ahmed Khan and a member of a proscribed organisation, was involved in attacking the armed forces, which resulted in the death of three soldiers. He was also involved in the destruction of the Government Girls Primary School in Hazara.

Convict Tahir Ali, s/o Syed Nabi and a member of a proscribed organisation, was involved in attacking the armed forces, which resulted in the death of two soldiers. Convict Aftabud Din, s/o Farrukh Zada and also a member of a proscribed organisation, was involved in attacking law enforcement officials, which resulted in the death of a police official and injuries to another.

Full report at:

http://dailytimes.com.pk/pakistan/21-Sep-17/coas-signs-death-warrants-for-four-hardcore-terrorists

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India

 

Third man from Lakhvi family is in J-K, 10 top Lashkar men return

by Muzamil Jaleel

September 21, 2017

In January earlier this year, when a militant commander was killed in an encounter in the Hajin area of Bandipore district, it rattled the Lashkar-e-Toiba. Identified as Musaib, he was the nephew of Lashkar-e-Toiba’s chief and alleged mastermind of the 2006 Mumbai attacks Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi. Now, sources have told The Indian Express, that Musaib’s younger brother Umair alias Osama has replaced him in north Kashmir.

This is the third member of the Lakhvi’s family who has joined Lashkar’s ranks and come to fight in Kashmir — in 2007, Lakhvi’s 20-year-old son Mohammad Qasim was killed in a fierce gunbattle with the Army and J-K police. Sources say that Qasim had crossed over to the Valley in July 2006 and was based in Bandipore where “although he operated as an ordinary militant, the then Lashkar district commander Abu Wafa (who was killed in the gunbattle with him) would always shadow him like a bodyguard”.

In parallel, sources said, around 10 Lashkar militants and commanders who had “ex-filtrated” after spending years in Kashmir are also back and the area in the outskirts of Srinagar city, the Harwan-Dhara belt, where Lashkar’s senior people used to be stationed, has been “activated again”. Sources said that Umair is part of a group of six Pakistani Lashkar militants who are operating in the Hajin area.

“This group is led by Mehmood and they are also accompanied by two local militants,’’ the source said. A source told The Indian Express that one of the Lashkar commanders in Bandipore district has moved to south Kashmir a week ago. “Zargam, who was active in Hajin, has gone with one other foreign militant to South Kashmir. We are trying to find out whether the second militant is Umair,’’ a source said. Inspector General of J&K Police, Kashmir zone, Muneer Khan confirmed that Musaib’s younger brother Umair is active in Hajin but denied that he has shifted his base to South Kashmir. “He is very much present in Hajin belt. They (Lashkar) have been trying to bring a consignment of weapons to South (from north Kashmir) but haven’t been able to do so,’’ he said.

Lakhvi’s nephew Musaib was Lashkar’s divisional commander when he was killed in an encounter in Hajin earlier this year. Sources said that he had infiltrated into Kashmir in August 2015 through the Gurez sector and was supposed to head to South Kashmir. In October 2015, the then Lashkar’s Kashmir chief and Udhampur attack mastermind Abu Qasim had gone to Bandipore to receive Musaib and his associates. But Abu Qasim had to abandon his plans and return to his south Kashmir base when he had an encounter with a J&K police team who were following him to Bandipore in a civilian vehicle.

A key officer involved in J&K police’s counter-insurgency operations Mohammad Altaf Dar — called ‘laptop’ because he was tech-savvy — was killed in that encounter. Lashkar subsequently sent another militant to shift Musaib and his group to South Kashmir but he, too, was killed in an encounter in Bandipore. Lashkar’s Valley chief Abu Qasim was killed in an encounter in Kulgam on December 24, 2015. Abu Qasim’s brother, sources say, infiltrated soon after his killing. “He was active in Bandipore till July 2016 but shifted to Lolab area later,’’ a source said.

One of the militants suspected to have returned, sources said, is Shahzad Khan alias Abdullah Bhai, a former Pakistan Army captain who joined Lashkar in 2001 and was active in Bandipore area, was arrested by J&K Police in Srinagar outskirts in June 2007. This Lashkar commander, who according to sources had a change of heart in jail where he wrote a book questioning jihad in Kashmir, was subsequently repatriated to Pakistan. “Yes, there are reports (that he is back) and we are ascertaining the authenticity of those reports,’’ IGP Khan said. Sources said that Abdullah Bhai had married in Bandipore which could be one reason why he may have returned.

Though IGP Khan denied the reports, sources reveal that Abu Hurrerah, a longtime Lashkar commander who left in 2015, has also returned. Similarly, Khalid who had gone back in 2007-8 too has returned last year. Sources say he is active in the Harwan belt. IGP Khan, however, said that Khalid, who was earlier with Lashkar and has now joined Jaish, is active in north Kashmir.

Sources also said that Nadeem Babar, one of the oldest Lashkar militants, is back from across. Babar, shot by his own men in the foot, had been active in Harwan for five years before shifting to Bandipore and subsequently leaving for Pakistan. Sources said that Daud who was active until 2007 is back in Kupwara. There are also reports, sources say, that Ghazi Umar Pathan who left in 2008 has returned a month ago and is currently in Ganderbal. There are, however, conflicting reports from different agencies about the re-entry of Babar, Daud and Pathan. J&K Police’s executive wing denies these reports.

Sources say that there were reports of a militant with Caucasian features in the Safapora area and that there was a video of this group too. IGP Khan said he is confident that this video wasn’t taken here but somewhere across the border.

http://indianexpress.com/article/india/3rd-man-from-lakhvi-family-is-in-jk-10-top-lashkar-men-return-4853630/

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As Rohingya Muslims Face Uncertainty, Myanmar Hindus See Hope In India

September 20, 2017

BANGLADESH/NEW DELHI:  Caught in the crossfire between Myanmar's military and Rohingya insurgents, hundreds of Hindus who have fled to Bangladesh are placing their hopes on the Indian government.

Nearly 500 are sheltered in a cleared-out chicken farm in a Hindu hamlet in Bangladesh's southeast, a couple of miles from where most of the 421,000 Rohingya Muslims who have also fled violence in Myanmar since August 25 are living in makeshift camps.

The Hindu refugees say they are scared of going back to their villages in Buddhist-majority Myanmar's restive Rakhine state, but also wary of staying in mostly Muslim Bangladesh.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi's government has made it easier for Hindus, Buddhists, Christians and other minorities from Bangladesh and Pakistan to gain citizenship in India.

"India is also known as Hindustan, the land of the Hindus," said Niranjan Rudra, sitting on a plastic sheet in the chicken farm flanked by his wife, who sported a large vermilion red dot on her forehead typical of married Hindu women.

"We just want a peaceful life in India, not much. We may not get that in Myanmar or here," he said. Fellow refugees nodded in agreement, stating that they wanted the message to reach the Indian government through the media.

The Indian government declined to comment on the Hindu refugees' hopes. A government source said it was waiting while the Supreme Court hears an appeal against the home ministry's plans to deport around 40,000 Rohingya Muslims from the country.

But Achintya Biswas, a senior member of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP), or the World Hindu Council, which has close ties with the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, the ideological parent of the ruling BJP, said India was the natural destination for the Hindus fleeing Myanmar.

"Hindu families must be allowed to enter India by the government," Mr Biswas said by phone. "Where else will they go? This is their place of origin."

Mr Biswas said the VHP and the RSS would submit a report to the home ministry on the refugees and demand a new policy allowing Hindus from Myanmar and Bangladesh to seek asylum in India.

India's Home Ministry spokesman KS Dhatwalia declined to comment.

A senior home ministry official in New Delhi, speaking on condition of anonymity, said that no Hindu in Myanmar or Bangladesh affected by the violence had approached Indian authorities.

"At this juncture we have no SOS calls from Hindus," said the official. "Also, the Supreme Court is yet to decide whether India should deport Rohingya Muslims or not. The matter is sub-judice and any policy decision will be taken only after the court's order."

"WANT TO FEEL SAFE"

Hindus make up a small but long-standing minority in both Myanmar and Bangladesh.

Refugee Rudra, a barber from Myanmar's Thit Tone Nar Gwa Son village, showed Reuters what he said was a temporary citizenship card issued in 1978 by the authorities there. The card listed his race as "Indian" and religion as "Hindu".

Rudra and other Hindu refugees said they had fled soon after Rohingya insurgents attacked 30 Myanmar police posts, triggering a fierce military counteroffensive.

Since then, rights monitors and fleeing Rohingya say the army and Rakhine Buddhist vigilantes have mounted a campaign of arson aimed at driving out the Muslim population, leaving many villages in northern Rakhine empty.

"Our village in Myanmar was surrounded by hundreds of men in black masks on the morning of Aug. 25," said Veena Sheel, a mother-of-two whose husband works in Malaysia.

"They called some men out and asked them to fight the security forces ... a few hours after we heard gunshots."

Ms Sheel left the next day with eight other women and their families, walking for two days to reach Bangladesh.

"There are so many people all around us. No peace here, no peace back in Myanmar," said Ms Sheel. "We should be taken to Hindustan, that's our land. Wherever we stay, we want to feel safe."

Since taking office in 2014, PM Modi's government has issued orders stating that no Hindu or member of another minority from Pakistan or Bangladesh would be considered an illegal immigrant even if they entered the country without valid documents on or before December 31, 2014.

It also plans to nearly halve to six years the period Hindus, Christians and other minorities from those countries need to have lived in India to be granted citizenship by naturalisation.

"We are regularising only those who have come due to religious persecution in Bangladesh and Pakistan," junior home minister Kiren Rijiju told Reuters last month, adding that there was no policy on refugees from Myanmar.

It will not be easy for secular India to accept the Myanmar Hindu refugees' demand while the government is pushing for the deportation of Rohingya Muslims.

Full report at:

http://www.ndtv.com/world-news/as-rohingya-muslims-face-uncertainty-myanmar-hindus-see-hope-in-india-1752903

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Agra think tank holds discussion on national integration and communal harmony

September 20, 2017

In view of the growing rift among Hindus and Muslims in India over the issue of the so-called radicalization of Muslims and the Rohingya crisis, Hindustani Biradari, an organization established by Ganesh Shankar Vidyarthi in 1927, held a discussion aimed at national integration in Agra, which was attended by members from all sections of the society.

Addressing the assembly, Bhartiya Muslim Vikas Parishad chairman Sami Aghai said that Islam stresses on non-violence and peace building and whatever hatred is being spread in the name of Islam globally, is not what this religion stands for. He said, violent barbarity is being committed by terrorists all over the world in the name of Islam and there is an urgent need to popularise the true understanding of Islam, one rooted in a commitment to peace, non-violence, inter-community harmony and prosperity for all people.

He said that the Central government has recently filed an affidavit in the court claiming that Rohingya Muslims have ties with al-Qaeda and other terrorist organizations and the army has been asked to push back the Rohingya refugees trying to enter India at the Indo-Burmese border. Aghai claimed that not all of these Rohingya Muslims are extremists, in fact, the number of extremists would be only a fraction of the poor, homeless Muslims who are seeking shelter from the ethnic cleansing going on in Burma. He demanded that the Rohingya Muslims should be allowed to seek asylum in India so that they could save themselves from the religious persecution of the Myanmar government.

UP Sarvdaleey Muslim Action Committee district president Syed Irfan Salim opined that Muslims need to come out of the shell of traditions that have continued for centuries. He said that Muslims cannot insist upon the recreation of the days when Islam was on zenith. He said that the approaches of hate, exclusivity, establishment of Caliphate, being promoted by the radicals/terrorists was bogus and contradicted Islamic values.

He said that there is an urgent need to articulate and promote a positive approach to conflict-prevention and resolution towards restoring peace. Muslims should take inspiration from Quran and from the life of the Prophet, which stresses on refraining from reckless violence, besides affirming peaceful co-existence with other communities.

Mufti Mudassar Ali Qadri said that all of us should make ourselves useful to others, which itself would help reduce differences, defuse conflicts and build inter-community relations. To keep alive and strengthen 'Unity in Diversity', which is the core value of this country's culture, needs to be nurtured and allowed to spread all over.

Qadri said that there are countless examples of Hindus and Muslims working together even at religious sites, the first and foremost example being that of Amarnath shrine, which was discovered and still cared for by a Muslim family, in a Muslim-majority state of Jammu and Kashmir. Even in Braj region, the dresses of Lord Krishna for Janmashtami are prepared by Muslim artisans. There are thousands of Muslims working in the handicrafts industry of Agra, creating idols of Hindu Gods and Goddesses.

Elsewhere in India, he said, in the Basirhat town in West Bengal, Hindus and Muslims celebrate Raksha Bandhan festival together and Muslims have been helping Hindus clean up their temples, while Hindus are helping in the cleaning up of mosques in flood-hit Gujarat, showing mutual tolerance and spirit of human-bonding which is beyond any religious boundary.

Social activist and Rotary Club of Agra, Governor Digamber Singh Dhakrey said, the first need of any human being stranded in a deserted place is to find another human being with whom he can socialize and build communication. When he finds one, he does not ask whether that person is Hindu or Muslim or of any other religion. He first expresses his gratitude to whichever God he believes in, for having helped him meet another human.

In reality, he said, the whole world is just an island in a vast, inhospitable void of space, where the entire humanity is living. It is our only home and we need to co-exist to make this world a better place for our future generations to live in, since there is almost no possibility for humanity in the near future of leaving this planet to live elsewhere.

Senior citizen Rama Shanker Sharma said that in the pre-independence times, this distinction between religions was largely limited to the urban areas where politics held sway. In the rest of the country, especially the rural areas, Hindus, and Muslims co-existed peacefully and even celebrated each other's festivals together.

A daughter's wedding was attended by the entire village, irrespective of the religion of the girl because she was the entire village's daughter. But times have changed now and this Ganga-Jamuni Tehzeeb of 'Hindustan' is withering away fast.

Full report at:

http://indiatoday.intoday.in/story/agra-thinktank-discussion-national-integration-communal-harmony/1/1052289.html

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Pakistan raises objection with US over greater role for India in Afghanistan

Sep 21, 2017

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan has raised objection with the US over President Donald Trump advocating greater role for India in the war-torn Afghanistan, the country's top diplomat said on Wednesday.

Pakistan Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi during a meeting with US Vice-President Mike Pence on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly here on Tuesday expressed concern over the greater role that Trump advocated for India in his new Afghan policy, foreign secretary Tehmina Janjua said.

Janjua's meeting with Pence was the highest contact between the two countries since Donald Trump announced his new policy on Afghanistan and South Asia on August 21 in which he had warned Pakistan for its continued support to terrorist groups and warned Islamabad of consequences if it continues to do so.

Trump had also asked India to play a greater role in war-torn Afghanistan, much to the dislike of Pakistan.

In the meeting, the two sides resolved to remain engaged and carry forward the relationship that has been on a downward trajectory since announcement of the US policy for Afghanistan and South Asia, the APP news agency reported.

"The meeting on the sidelines of the 72nd UNGA session in New York was held in a cordial atmosphere," a handout issued by the Foreign Office said.

"Prime Minister [Abbasi] shared Pakistan's concerns and views with regard to the US strategy for South Asia," it said.

Abbasi and Pence agreed to work together to carry forward the bilateral relationship and discussed matters relating to peace and stability in Afghanistan and the region.

Full report at:

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/pakistan-raises-objection-with-us-over-greater-role-for-india-in-afghanistan/articleshow/60769463.cms

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J&K: Hizbul Mujahideen terrorist arrested from Anantnag

Sep 20, 2017

NEW DELHI: A Hizbul Mujahideen terrorist has been arrested by Jammu and Kashmir Police at the Anantnag railway staion in south Kashmir, police said.

Aadil Ahmad Bhat, a resident of Bijbehara's Jiblipora, was trying to board the train when police apprehended him.

"Bhat was on the run for sometime. Today, based on inputs he was arrested from the station in a joint operation,"a senior police officer said, adding that he is a category C terrorist.

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/jk-hizbul-mujahideen-terrorist-arrested-from-anantnag/articleshow/60765013.cms

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Don’t create Hindu-Muslim distinction, Calcutta High Court tells Mamata Banerjee

21st September 2017

KOLKATA: The Calcutta High Court on Wednesday told the Mamata Banerjee-led West Bengal government not to create distinction between Hindus and Muslims by disallowing Muharram and Durga Puja processions on the same day. 

Hearing a petition against a recent notification by West Bengal government disallowing Durga Puja immersion after 6 pm on September 30 (Dashami) and October 1 because of Muharram tazia, Calcutta High Court division bench demanded proof from the state on its speculation that allowing the two processions on the same day would cause communal clashes.  

“Why can’t the two communities celebrate together? When you claim that Bengal is a beacon of communal harmony, then are you creating distinction between the Hindus and Muslims? Let them live in harmony. Don’t create a line between the two,” the court observed.

“What proof do you have that there would be problems between two communities if processions of both Durga Puja immersion and Muharram tazia are allowed on the same day. Where is the report if there is any intelligence alert? Why can’t the police manage the two processions by issuing them separate routes? “ the division bench remarked.

“People have the right to practise their religious activities, whichever community they may be of, and the State cannot put restrictions, unless it has a concrete ground to believe that two communities cannot live together,” the acting chief justice said.  The remarks by the Calcutta High Court are significant as it is expected to deliver its final judgment on the hearing on Thursday. 

Full report at:

http://www.newindianexpress.com/nation/2017/sep/21/dont-create-hindu-muslim-distinction-calcutta-high-court-tells-mamata-banerjee-1660475.html

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J&K police arrests Hizbul Mujahideen militant Aadil Ahmed Bhat

September 20, 2017

A Hizbul Mujahideen militant was arrested on Wednesday by the Jammu and Kashmir Police from Anantnag district, reported news agency ANI.  Aadil Ahmed Bhat was apprehended from Bijbehara railway station.

http://indianexpress.com/article/india/jk-police-arrests-hizbul-mujahideen-terrorist-4852836/

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North America

 

US designation of Muslim Brotherhood as ‘terrorist’ group needs time: Al-Sisi

September 20, 2017

Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi stated that it may take more time for the US to designate the Muslim Brotherhood as a terrorist group, expecting that the same issue may apply to the rest of the world.

Al-Sisi’s statements came during a TV interview with the US based TV channel Fox News where he was hosted by the renowned anchor Sean Hannity. The interview was broadcast on Tuesday.

“The US has its own perspective that Egypt is paying its full respects, however the US’s designation of such group as terrorists may take more time — not only for the US, but also for the entire world,” Al-Sisi explained.

Al-Sisi stressed that there are misleading ideologies that offend Islam and that have also lead to the current wave of terrorism and extremism that dominate some parts of the world.

On ways to confront such ideologies, Al-Sisi explained that the extremism and terrorism practiced by some groups are considered to be a misinterpretation of the notion of Islam, asserting that when he called to renew the rhetoric of Islam, he meant to set out a clear way to interpret the religion.

“Evil is not only present in the extremist ideology, it is also present in the extremist organizations, so we all should face these groups that appear in different names such as Ansar Byat Al-Maqdus and Boko Haram — the entire world should face them,” Al-Sisi said during the interview.

Al-Sisi called on the world to not only limit confrontations with the extremist groups with military solutions but also to confront the economic, cultural and social factors that lead to terrorism.

In response to a question raised on the Egyptian military operation that took place in Libya in the aftermath of deadly militant attack against Copts in Minya governorate, Al-Sisi said that it was the first time that Egypt resorted to using power against terrorists located outside of its borders.

“We as Egyptian government are responsible for securing Egyptians that did not have the ability to sleep that night without retaliating against what happened,” he concluded.

http://www.egyptindependent.com/us-designation-muslim-brotherhood-terrorist-group-needs-time-al-sisi/

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Iran in 'technical compliance' with nuclear deal: US secretary of state

Sep 21, 2017

US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has admitted that Tehran is in "technical compliance" with the 2015 nuclear agreement reached between Iran and six other countries, including the United States.

Tillerson made the remarks on Wednesday after he and Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif met as parties to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) at an EU-organized event on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in New York where EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini said that all parties to the nuclear deal agree that Iran is in compliance with the plan.

Tillerson told reporters after the meeting that the United States did not dispute that Iran was in "technical compliance" with the JCPOA, saying that Mogherini's comments referred only to technical compliance with the nuclear deal.

He said that the US complaints about Iran are political in nature, without elaborating what he means with these comments.

"I think the high commissioner was reflecting the rigid and strict contours of the agreement itself," he said.

Commenting on the meeting of the parties to the nuclear deal, Tillerson said, "It was not a technical discussion, it was a political discussion of the political aspects.”

"So we had a very open and candid exchange between all of the parties to that agreement," he added, calling the meeting "useful" but inconclusive.

Tillerson also said he told Zarif that Washington continues to have "significant issues" with the nuclear deal.

"It was a good opportunity to meet, shake hands. The tone was very matter of fact. There was no yelling, we didn't throw shoes at one another," he said.

"It was not an angry tone at all. It was a very, very matter of fact exchange about how we see this agreement very differently,” he added.

Tillerson pointed out that US President Donald Trump particularly is opposed to the so-called "sunset clause" in the nuclear accord, which sees the restrictions on Iran's nuclear enrichment lifted after 2025.

During a speech before the UN General Assembly on Tuesday, Trump railed against the Iran nuclear deal, saying it is "one of the worst and most one-sided transactions the United States has ever entered into,” a characterization he often used during his presidential campaign.

“I don’t think you’ve heard the last of it, believe me,” Trump said.

The Trump administration has desperately sought a pretext to scrap or weaken the 2015 deal and get rid of the limits the deal imposes on the US ability to pursue more hostile policies against Iran.

However, Washington’s European allies seek to prevent the collapse of the deal and are stepping up efforts to convince Trump not to abandon the accord.

Trump is nearing an October 15 deadline for certifying Iran's compliance with the JCPOA, which puts limitations on its nuclear program in exchange for the removal of nuclear-related sanctions imposed against Tehran.

Full report at:

http://www.presstv.ir/Detail/2017/09/21/535901/Iran-in-technical-compliance-with-nuclear-deal-Tillerson

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Congress has no evidence showing Iran violated nuclear deal: Democrats

Sep 20, 2017

Top Democrats in the United States Senate are demanding the administration of President Donald Trump to provide evidence for has claims that Iran violated the international nuclear deal.

On Wednesday, seven senior Democratic senators wrote a letter to Trump’s cabinet officials, including Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Defense Secretary James Mattis, to ask them to provide any information they have to prove that Tehran has not been committed to the 2015 agreement, dubbed as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).

Since Trump took office, the US has launched an attack against the nuclear deal negotiated between Iran and the world powers, including Washington, threatening to abandon the deal on multiple occasions.

The US president told the United Nations General Assembly on Tuesday that the nuclear agreement is an “embarrassment” for Washington, accusing Tehran of violating the deal.

This is while all the other signatories of the agreement, the UK, Russia, Germany, China and France, have reiterated their commitment to the deal.

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has also verified Iran’s compliance on multiple occasions.

In their letter, the American Democrats argued that under the 2015

Iran Nuclear Review Act the president must notify the US Congress of any violations it has detected.

"(The 2015 review act) requires the president to provide information to Congress on any potentially significant Iranian breach or compliance concern related to the JCPOA within ten calendar days of receiving the information," read the letter, seen by Reuters. "To date, the Senate has received no such notification and the administration has provided little public testimony to Congress on the status of Iranian compliance with the agreement.”

Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, Energy Secretary Rick Perry and Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats were among other recipients of the letter, signed by Senators Sherrod Brown, Maria Cantwell, Ben Cardin, Richard Durbin, Patrick Leahy, Jack Reed and Mark Warner.

The Trump administration has until mid-October to certify to the Congress whether Iran is complying with the JCPOA.

The lawmakers have demanded the recipients to provide any information they claim they have before October 6.

Full report at:

http://www.presstv.ir/Detail/2017/09/20/535889/Dems-want-proof-Iran-violated-nuclear-deal

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Russia rebukes Trump, says to 'defend' Iran nuclear deal

Sep 20, 2017

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov says Moscow is “extremely concerned” by US President Donald Trump’s stance on the 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and the six world powers, asserting that Russia would defend the landmark agreement as it has “genuinely strengthened both regional and international security.”

In his maiden speech at the United Nations General Assembly on Tuesday, Trump said the deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), was “an embarrassment” to Washington.

“It’s extremely worrying,” said Lavrov, whose country is a signatory to the deal besides the US, the UK, France, China and Germany. “We will defend this document, this consensus, which was met with relief by the entire international community and genuinely strengthened both regional and international security.”

The Trump administration has desperately sought a pretext to scrap or weaken the JCPOA, which came into effect in January 2016 and put limitations on Iran’s peaceful nuclear program in exchange for removing nuclear-related sanctions against the Islamic Republic.

In his speech, the Republican president described the agreement as “the worst and most one-sided transaction the US has ever entered into,” a characterization he often used during his presidential campaign.

He told reporters on Wednesday that he had made his decision about staying in the agreement but declined to reveal it.

Tehran rebuked Trump’s rhetoric, with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif describing it as an “ignorant hate speech” that was “unworthy of a reply.”

French President Emmanuel Macron and EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini also reiterated their commitment to the nuclear agreement.

US threats ‘antagonizing’ North Korea

In his UN speech, Trump also made harsh comments about North Korea, threatening to “totally destroy” the country if it needed to.

Lavrov said the threats did not help and Washington had to change its rhetoric if it wanted to come to an agreement with Pyongyang.

“If you simply condemn and threaten, then we’re going to antagonize countries over whom we want to exert influence,” the Russian foreign minister said.

Last month, Trump prompted international concern after threatening the North with “fire and fury” over its ballistic missile and nuclear weapons tests.

US working on illegal weapons

Elsewhere in his speech, Lavorv rejected US claims that his country was in breach of the 1987 Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces (INF) treaty, which bans ground-launched Russian and American intermediate-range missiles.

He said if anyone was violating the treaty it was the US, which is in the midst of a $1-trillion, 30-year modernization of its aging ballistic missile submarines, bombers and land-based missiles.

Full report at:

http://www.presstv.ir/Detail/2017/09/20/535865/Russia-US-Lavrov-Trump-Iran-North-Korea-JCPOA

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US ‘strongly opposes’ planned Iraq Kurdish referendum

21 September 2017

The United States says it "strongly opposes" the planned referendum for independence by Iraqi Kurds, a statement from the State Department said.

According to the Iraqi constitution, the Kurds have a right to hold the referendum, Iraq's Kurdish leader Masoud Barzani said on Wednesday. He also stressed that the region refuses to withdraw to the “green line” Baghdad demands.

Meanwhile, an official source in Saudi Arabia commented on the referendum, saying that with current conditions experienced by the region and the risks it faces, it would be best to avoid new crises that may result in negative repercussions, political and security.

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2017/09/21/US-strongly-opposes-planned-Iraq-Kurdish-referendum.html

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Southeast Asia

 

Philippine security guards working in KL, Selangor nabbed for Abu Sayyaf links

September 21, 2017

KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 21 — Malaysia has arrested seven Philippine men suspected of involvement in activities of the Abu Sayyaf militant group, police said today, as concern grows in South-east Asia over the possible expansion of militant Islamist activity.

The Abu Sayyaf, whose members have pledged loyalty to Islamic State, is notorious for bombings, beheadings, extortions and kidnap-for-ransom activities in the Philippines’ volatile south.

The men worked as security guards for private companies in the capital, Kuala Lumpur, and the surrounding state of Selangor, Inspector-General of Police Datuk Seri Mohamad Fuzi Harun said.

“One suspect, a 22-year-old, was an Abu Sayyaf group member involved in clashes with the military and kidnapping of hostages in the southern Philippines,” he said in a statement.

An extremist faction of the Abu Sayyaf helped seize large parts of Marawi city in the southern Philippines in May, leading to a siege that has killed about 670 militants and 149 soldiers.

Reuters could not reach the men to seek comment as they are in custody. It was not immediately clear if they have lawyers to represent them.

Malaysian police said their arrests were based on information received after authorities thwarted a plan by an Abu Sayyaf member to stage an attack at the closing ceremony of the South-east Asian Games in Kuala Lumpur last month.

All seven men arrived in Malaysia in September 2015 through the town of Sandakan in the state of Sabah on Borneo island, off the southern coast of the Philippines, before travelling to Kuala Lumpur on forged documents, Mohamad Fuzi said.

Since 2013, Muslim-majority Malaysia has detained more than 300 people with suspected links to Islamic State.

This year, Malaysia has arrested 41 foreigners classified as foreign terrorist fighters, Mohamad Fuzi added.

Governments in South-east Asia have been worried over the possible expansion of Islamic State as the group loses ground in the Middle East. — Reuters

http://www.themalaymailonline.com/malaysia/article/philippine-security-guards-working-in-kl-selangor-nabbed-for-abu-sayyaf-lin#pL8t7i8THBzf7l9c.97

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China Calls for Understanding of Myanmar's Need to Protect Stability

Sep 21, 2017

Beijing. Violent incidents in Myanmar's Rakhine state are unacceptable and there should be understanding of the Myanmar government's efforts to protect social stability, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi told his Indonesian counterpart, state media said.

More than 400,000 Muslim Rohingya have fled across the border to Bangladesh following a counter-insurgency offensive by Myanmar's army in the wake of militant attacks on security forces. UN officials have described Myanmar's strategy as "ethnic cleansing".

The remarks by Wang to Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi on the sidelines of a United Nations meeting in New York on Tuesday, however, appeared to show some sympathy for the difficulties Myanmar faces quelling the insurgency.

The Rohingya issue has been around for a long time, and it is complex and sensitive, Wang said, according to the official Xinhua news agency.

"The urgent task is to ease the tense situation as quickly as possible, avoid innocent people being harmed, prevent the humanitarian crisis spreading, and encouraging and supporting Myanmar and Bangladesh to seek a fundamental resolution via dialogue and consultation," he said.

China, which has close economic and diplomatic ties with Myanmar, is willing to continue playing a constructive role along with the international community, Wang added.

Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi on Tuesday condemned rights abuses in Rakhine state and said violators would be punished, but she did not address U.N. accusations of ethnic cleansing, drawing cool international responses and calls for action to help minority Muslim Rohingya.

Full report at:

http://jakartaglobe.id/international/china-calls-understanding-myanmars-need-protect-stability/

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Hearing to deport Indian preacher Zakir Naik postponed to Oct

BY A. RUBAN

September 21, 2017

KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 21 ― The High Court has postponed a hearing calling for the government to deport controversial Indian televangelist Dr Zakir Naik to October 11.

The postponement was made after a group of 17 human rights activists who are the plaintiffs in the case made a last minute amendment to their initial submission.

According to lawyer Adnan Seman who represents Malay rights group Perkasa, the amendments were submitted yesterday.

“The plaintiffs have reduced the charges in the initial submission from seven to just two and upon receiving this latest update, the court has set October 11 so it could go through the amendments before hearing case,” Adnan said.

Perkasa is acting as the intervener in the case between 17 activists and the Government of Malaysia. Also listed as defendants in the judicial review are Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, the Immigration director-general, the National Registration Department, and the Inspector-General of Police.

The activists who filed the suit the suit on March 1 include Hindraf chairman P. Waytha Moorthy, academic Dr Lim Teck Ghee, Sabah lawmaker Datuk Dr Jeffrey Kitingan, lawyers Siti Kassim and Asiah Abd Jalil, and Sarawak activist Peter John Jaban.

They are seeking a court declaration that Dr Zakir, a fugitive in India, is a threat to public peace in Malaysia’s unity and multi-racial society. They also want a court order to stop the medical doctor from entering the country or staying here, and for the police arrest Dr Zakir, if he was already staying in the country.

In the new amended submission, Adnan said the two amendments include a declaration that Dr Zakir is a threat to national security and the cooperation between Malaysia and other countries.

“Another is that the plaintiffs want to raise a declaration that Dr Zakir is not qualified to be a permanent resident in Malaysia,” he said.

Perkasa president Datuk Ibrahim Ali, who was also present at court today, said he accepted the plaintiff’s amended submission, which he called a “moral victory” for his group and Dr Zakir.

“Because the plaintiffs have amended to reduce their charges from seven to two, we take that as a good sign for us,” he said.

Ibrahim, who was flanked by at least 20 Perkasa members, said that he hoped this case against Dr Zakir will be concluded fast so the “good name” of the Islamic preacher will not be further tarnished.

Full report at:

http://www.themalaymailonline.com/malaysia/article/hearing-to-deport-indian-preacher-zakir-naik-postponed-to-oct#ulSpfVJVx0tqXs3C.97

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Islamic State-aligned militant jailed over plot to bomb Indonesian presidential palace

20 Sep 2017

JAKARTA: An Indonesian militant was jailed for 11 years on Wednesday (Sep 20) for orchestrating a plot inspired by the Islamic State group to stage a suicide bomb attack on the presidential palace.

Muhammad Nur Solikin, 27, and his wife Dian Yuli Novi were among five jihadists detained last December over plans to attack the palace in Jakarta during a presidential guard-changing ceremony with a 3kg bomb encased in a pressure cooker.

The sentence was less than the 15 years which prosecutors had sought.

One of his co-inspirators Agus Supriyadi received six years' jail.

Last month Solikin's wife Novi was sentenced to seven-and-a-half years in jail for her role in the plot.

She was the first woman to be convicted of planning a suicide bombing in Indonesia, highlighting the more active role women are taking in violent extremism.

Police believe the group was strongly linked to Bahrun Naim, a leading Indonesian militant currently fighting with Islamic State in Syria.

Indonesia, with the world's largest Muslim population, has long struggled with Islamic militancy and has suffered numerous attacks on its soil.

Full report at:

http://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/asiapacific/islamic-state-aligned-militant-jailed-over-plot-to-bomb-9233818

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Arab World

 

Iraq launches offensive on Hawija, an ISIS-held region near Kirkuk

21 September 2017

Iraq launched an offensive on Thursday to dislodge ISIS from Hawija, an area located west of the oil city of Kirkuk. The offensive, announced by Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, comes four days before a referendum on Kurdish independence due to be held in northern Iraq, including Kirkuk.

Abadi considers the Sept. 25 referendum “anti-constitutional” and has called on the autonomous Kurdistan Regional Government to cancel it.

Kirkuk is shaping up as a flashpoint ahead of the Kurdish independence vote as it is also home to Arab and Turkmen communities who oppose breaking away from Iraq.

Kurdish Peshmerga forces took control of Kirkuk after the Iraqi army collapsed in the face of ISIS in 2014, preventing the militants from capturing the city’s oil fields. A US-led international coalition is providing air support to the Iraqi forces’ offensive on Hawija, Iraqi state TV said.

Kurdish referendum

It wasn’t clear if the Kurdish plan to hold the referendum in Kirkuk would be affected by the US-backed Iraqi offensive on Hawija, which is likely to cause an outflow of refugees toward the neighboring areas.

The United Nations last week said up to 85,000 people could be displaced from the Hawija region. Washington issued on Wednesday a forceful statement against the Kurdish referendum.

“The United States strongly opposes the Iraqi Kurdistan Regional Government’s referendum on independence, planned for Sept. 25,” said State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert.

Hawija, north of Baghdad, and a stretch of land along the Syrian border, west of the Iraqi capital, are the last pieces of the country still in the hands of ISIS. The group overran about a third of Iraq in 2014.

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2017/09/21/Iraq-launches-offensive-on-Hawija-an-ISIS-held-region-near-Kirkuk.html

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Sisi tells Fox News: Need to confront terror ideology and misconceptions

20 September 2017

In an exclusive interview to Sean Hannity of Fox News, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi on Tuesday highlighted the country’s approach in combating terrorist activities and organizations.

The interview was conducted following the speech El-Sisi delivered at the United Nations General Assembly. Hannity commended El-Sisi for his courageous stand against radical Islam and asked him questions related to Egypt’s fight against terrorism.

El-Sisi said that the ideologies adopted and practiced by some extremist organizations are the result of the misinterpretation of Islamic teachings.

“When we say we want to rectify the religious rhetoric, it means that we want to filter the false ideology and the misconceptions,” Sisi explained.

Ideologies and organizations

El-Sisi added that there is a need to confront terrorist ideologies as well as organizations in the Arab world and globally.

The Egyptian president said there is a need to stand firm with a comprehensive strategy on the economic, social, cultural level, in addition to the security and military component.

“We don’t want to tarnish the whole Muslim community with one brush because of the malpractices of some extremists. The confrontation can’t be confined to the United States … we have suffered most at hands of terrorism and extremism in the whole world,” he said.

On the subject of designating Muslim Brotherhood as a terrorist organization, El-Sisi said that the US as a great country has different shades of ideologies and perspectives.

Full report at:

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2017/09/20/Egypt-s-El-Sisi-speaks-of-combating-terrorism-and-extremist-ideology.html

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Sao Paulo Islamic conference recommends creation of Islamic media for Latin American countries

Sep 21, 2017

SAO PAULO: Participants at the 30th session of the International Conference of Latin American and Caribbean Muslims in Sao Paulo recommended the establishment of Islamic media broadcasting to Latin American countries including visual, audiovisual and printed means.

They also called for the importance of adhering to international Islamic and professional disciplines to spread virtue and values, preserve the Islamic identity and correct misconceptions about Islam.

The conference was organized by the Islamic Call Center in Latin American and the Caribbean countries in cooperation with the Saudi Ministry of Islamic Affairs, Call and Guidance in the Brazilian city of Sao Paulo.

The participants also stressed the great value of the Muslim family and its importance in society in their final statement, and included a recommendation to pay attention to the teaching of the Holy Qur’an to the youth and to establish schools and nurseries to memorize and teach the Holy Qur’an.

The statement stressed the need to establish Islamic schools because it is an important means of preserving the Islamic identity.

It also stressed the importance of promoting the Arabic language and spreading it among the Muslim community as it serves as the main tool for preserving the Islamic identity.

The participants recommended that the Islamic center in Latin America should hold scientific courses and create websites to deal with the provisions of the family in Islam in terms of jurisprudence.

They also called for designing educational materials for the Muslim family to clarify the rights and social duties entrusted to them.

The final communiqué called for Muslim minorities in Latin America to strive to preserve religious rituals, moral values and the Islamic identity which could be achieved through legitimate legal means in their countries, and to amend any legislation that violates religious rights or conflicts with Islam in the sphere of the family, women and society.

The statement also stressed the importance and prestige of the mosque in Islam and its role in preserving the Islamic identity. It urged Muslim communities in Latin America to pay attention to mosques and to maintain prayer in them.

The final communiqué stressed the pivotal position of Jerusalem and the condemnation of all terrorist attacks by the Israeli occupation authorities that target Islamic sanctities, the identity of the Palestinian Muslim and non-Muslim people, and threatening their stability as well.

Full report at:

http://www.arabnews.com/node/1164706/saudi-arabia

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Britain, Saudi Arabia sign military cooperation deal

Sep 21, 2017

RIYADH - Saudi Arabia and Britain signed a framework deal for military cooperation, Saudi state media said Tuesday, just two days after Gulf rival Qatar signed a deal to buy jet fighters from the European nation.

The agreement came after Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman discussed security ties with visiting British Defence Secretary Michael Fallon in the Red Sea port city of Jeddah, the Saudi Press Agency said without disclosing details of the agreement.

“During the meeting, they reviewed bilateral relations particularly the mechanism... joint coordination in the field of defense. They also discussed... efforts to combat terrorism,” SPA said.

The agreement comes as Britain seeks to explore lucrative trade deals outside Europe, including energy-rich Gulf monarchies, after voting to leave the European Union.

Qatar on Sunday signed an agreement to buy 24 Typhoon fighter jets from Britain, a second major defence deal signed by Doha during its prolonged diplomatic dispute with its neighbours.

Regional kingpin Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates and Egypt cut ties with Qatar in June, accusing it of backing extremism and fostering ties with their rival Iran.

Full report at:

http://nation.com.pk/international/21-Sep-2017/britain-saudi-arabia-sign-military-cooperation-deal

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Saudi Arabia does not believe Iran abiding by nuclear deal: minister

Sep 21, 2017

Saudi Arabia does not believe that Iran is abiding by the 2015 nuclear deal between the Islamic Republic and six world powers, the kingdom’s foreign minister said on Wednesday, without elaborating.

“We expect the international community to do whatever it takes to ensure that Iran is in compliance,” the minister, Adel al-Jubeir, told reporters at the United Nations.

http://nation.com.pk/international/20-Sep-2017/saudi-arabia-does-not-believe-iran-abiding-by-nuclear-deal-minister

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US-backed Syrian forces seize '90pc' of Raqqa from IS

Sep 21, 2017

United States-backed fighters have seized 90 per cent of Raqqa from the militant Islamic State (IS) group, a monitoring said on Wednesday as they announced they were in the “final stages” of capturing the terrorists' Syrian stronghold.

Under siege in the northern city for three months, IS is struggling to defend its one-time bastion under a barrage of air strikes by the US-led coalition battling the militants in Syria and Iraq.

“Because of the heavy coalition air strikes, IS withdrew from at least five key neighbourhoods over the past 48 hours,” said Rami Abdel Rahman, head of the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

“This allowed the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) to control 90pc of the city.”

The SDF is an alliance of Kurdish and Arab forces the coalition is backing in Syria with air strikes, equipment and advisers.

IS pulled out of the north of the city and abandoned its grain silos and mills, and was now confined to the city centre, Abdel Rahman said.

The SDF said its forces had mounted a “surprise attack” on IS in the city's north.

“We consider this the final stages of the Wrath of the Euphrates campaign, which is nearing its end,” the statement said.

IS seized Raqqa in early 2014, transforming the city into the de facto Syrian capital of the “caliphate” it declared after taking control of large parts of Syria and Iraq.

It quickly became synonymous with the group's most gruesome atrocities, including public beheadings, and IS is thought to have used the city to plan attacks abroad.

Resistance not to last long

The SDF spent months encircling the city before entering it in June and sealing off all access routes. Abdel Rahman said the siege had worn down IS's defensive capabilities.

“After hundreds of their fighters were killed in recent weeks, the remaining IS fighters will not be able to resist much longer in Raqqa as their military equipment and basic necessities are dwindling,” he said.

Without food or medical equipment, IS was unable to treat its own wounded and had retreated to the city centre, which it considered “the most secure,” he said.

But the battle for the 10 per cent of the city still held by IS will likely be tough, as the militants had heavily mined the area, Abdel Rahman said.

IS has used mines, snipers, car bombs, and weaponised drones against the SDF offensive.

Tens of thousands of civilians have fled the fighting in recent months.

Estimates of the number still inside the city range from fewer than 10,000 to as many as 25,000.

“We will continue the campaign until we achieve our aim,” Jihan Sheikh Ahmed, the SDF's spokeswoman for the Raqqa offensive told AFP.

AFP journalists on Tuesday saw a military convoy of US-made vehicles, bulldozers, and arms being transported through northeastern Syria.

Syria's conflict broke out in March 2011 with protests against President Bashar al-Assad, but has since evolved into a complex, multi-front war.

Full report at:

http://nation.com.pk/international/20-Sep-2017/us-backed-syrian-forces-seize-90pc-of-raqqa-from-is

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US Army Likely to Pull Back from Key Base at Syria's Border with Jordan

Sep 20, 2017

The Arabic-language website of Russia's state news agency, Sputnik, quoted a military source as saying that the US is preparing to close its military base in the border town of al-Tanf.

The Sputnik said that the US military command has not thus far set any date for its retreat from the base. "They are ready to leave the base but they have not specified that when they will do it and to whom the base will be handed over."

Websites affiliated to the terrorist groups reported on Monday that the US Army pulled forces back from al-Zakaf in Syria's Badiyeh (desert) region.

Al-Qasiyoun website quoted Mahmoud Abdullah, one of the commanders of Jeish Maqavir al-Thorah, as saying that the US army forces retreated from al-Zakaf bae in Eastern Homs towards regions near al-Tanf airbase at Syria's border with Iraq and Jordan.

Full report at:

No independent source has confirmed the claim yet.

http://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13960629001080

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Anti-ISIS coalition taking different approaches in Iraq, Syria

21 September 2017

The Combined Joint Task Force to defeat ISIS has trained 116,000 forces to secure Iraq after the defeat of the extremist group while only 1,500 are present in liberated areas in Syria, according to a senior officer.

According to Colonel Ryan Dillon, Spokesman for Combined Joint Task Force - Operation Inherent Resolve, preparations are underway to deal with ISIS as an insurgency.

“What we are doing now is preparing for what we believe ISIS will devolve into and this is an insurgency,” Col. Dillon told Al Arabiya English in a phone Interview from the Iraqi capital, Baghdad.

The spokesman for the coalition said that in Iraq, 116,000 security forces have been trained since ISIS swept across vast swathes of Iraq in 2014.

“We had to very quickly provide a force that can defeat them militarily,” he said. “In Iraq, the coalition has trained more than 116,000 Iraqi security forces and that goes from 43,000 Iraqi army, 19,000 police, 6,500 border security guards, 2,200 Peshmerga, 14,000 counter terrorism service members and 10,000 tribal mobilization forces,” Col Dillion said.

The coalition are adapting the training strategy to prepare the Iraqi security forces to face insurgent threats.

“We work with their counter-terrorism service, their police, their border-guard service and we will continue to work with them on these efforts so that after ISIS is militarily defeated,” he said.

‘A lot more fighting left in Syria’

In Syria, however, the coalition has only been limited to co-operating with the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) in the north and the Maghawir al-Thawra forces in the south.

“With the SDF that have liberated places like Tabqa and Manbij, many civilian councils have been formed that are representative of the people,” he said. The councils in every liberated area have established a local security force to protect it.

In Raqqa, an internal security force was set up. “We as a coalition have trained 1,500 personnel in the Raqqa internal security force and they are already began conducting screenings in the area,” Col. Dillion said.

Former Jordanian military commander and strategic advisor, Maj. Gen. Fayez Al Dowairi, has warned that the United States dependency on the SDF is only a short-term solution.

“The SDF since 2016 have been receiving weapons, training and battle guidance from the American forces,” he said.

“Now for the Americans to get the SDF social acceptance in the theatre of their operations, tribal members from those areas have been included with the Kurdish forces under the guise of military councils, especially because those areas do not have a Kurdish majority,” Dowairi said.

He said that these Arab council members are being trained by SDF personnel who have been trained by the Americans so the forces would not be called purely Kurdish forces but rather Syrian forces.

The SDF has a small force in comparison to the size of the theater of operations therefore, they need to train local forces to secure liberated areas, he said. “After that they will not be able to control all those Arab majority villages so the Americans will move on and secure new partners,” he said.

So far, ISIS has lost almost all of its territory and are on the back foot. “Syrian Democratic Forces operating in the proclaimed capital of Raqqa have cleared 65 percent of the city with very little resistance from ISIS,” Dilion said.

Despite that, there still is a lot of fighting to do and there are still many ISIS holdouts in Syria.

Full report at:

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2017/09/21/Anti-ISIS-coalition-taking-different-approaches-in-Iraq-Syria.html

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Raqqa campaign in final stages, SDF says

20 September 2017

The US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) said on Wednesday its campaign to capture Raqqa from ISIS was in its final stages and its fighters had seized 80 percent of the city.

In its fight against a separate operation waged by the Syrian army and its allies, ISIS has collapsed along the west bank of the Euphrates downstream of Raqqa, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said on Wednesday.

ISIS has lost swathes of territory in Syria this year, attacked from the north by the SDF and from the west by the Syrian army, which has pushed it back across the desert to its last strongholds in the Euphrates valley.

The SDF, an alliance of Kurdish and Arab militias, launched its offensive on the group in Raqqa city in June, backed by US-led air strikes and special forces on the ground. The city had served as ISIS’s de facto capital in Syria.

In a statement on Wednesday, the SDF said it had opened a new front against ISIS on the northern edge of Raqqa. This was “a feature of the final stages of the Euphrates Wrath campaign, which is nearing its end”.

“We can say that 80 percent of the city of Raqqa has been liberated,” the statement said.

An SDF media official said the main obstacles facing the alliance in Raqqa are avoiding civilian casualties and a high concentration of mines. He estimated that 700 to 1,000 ISIS fighters remain in the city.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said on Wednesday that ISIS now controls only 5 percent of the city and its remaining militants there have nearly run out of food and munitions.

In Deir al-Zor province of eastern Syria, ISIS is battling two separate offensives, launched by the SDF on one side and the Syrian army and its allies on the other.

The Syrian army, backed by Russian and Syrian war planes, has captured about 100 km (160 miles) of the west bank of the Euphrates this month, reaching Raqqa provincial border on Wednesday, the Observatory reported. Syrian troops also crossed to the eastern side of the river on Monday.

The SDF’s advances have been on the eastern bank of the river.

The convergence of the two rival offensives has increased tensions in Deir al-Zor. The US-backed militia on Monday warned against any further Syrian army advances on the eastern riverbank.

On Tuesday, Russia’s Defense Ministry said the Euphrates had risen as soon as the Syrian army began crossing it. The only way that could have happened was if upstream dams held by the US-backed opposition had been opened, it said.

A fire at a major gas field known as Conoco raged through Tuesday night and into Wednesday, the Observatory said, after Syrian state media reported that the army was advancing towards it. ISIS had fled the area, the Observatory added.

Full report at:

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2017/09/20/Raqqa-campaign-in-final-stages-SDF-says.html

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A UN official refuses to Qatar’s use of his name at a seminar on terrorism

20 September 2017

Jahangir Khan, Director of the United Nations Center for Counter-Terrorism, rejected the participation of the Qatari delegation in the 72nd Session of the United Nations General Assembly at a seminar on combating terrorism without his knowledge or consent.

The Qatari delegation had been in contact with the International Peace Institute in New York to request an understanding on the organization of a seminar on counter-terrorism on the sidelines of the General Assembly.

The Director of the United Nations Counter-Terrorism Center was surprised to find his name on the agenda of the symposium without prior approval or approval of the Center.

Full report at:

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/gulf/2017/09/20/A-UN-official-refuses-to-Qatar-s-use-of-his-name-at-a-seminar-on-terrorism.html

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Anti-ISIS coalition taking different approaches in Iraq, Syria

21 September 2017

The Combined Joint Task Force to defeat ISIS has trained 116,000 forces to secure Iraq after the defeat of the extremist group while only 1,500 are present in liberated areas in Syria, according to a senior officer.

According to Colonel Ryan Dillon, Spokesman for Combined Joint Task Force - Operation Inherent Resolve, preparations are underway to deal with ISIS as an insurgency.

“What we are doing now is preparing for what we believe ISIS will devolve into and this is an insurgency,” Col. Dillon told Al Arabiya English in a phone Interview from the Iraqi capital, Baghdad.

The spokesman for the coalition said that in Iraq, 116,000 security forces have been trained since ISIS swept across vast swathes of Iraq in 2014.

“We had to very quickly provide a force that can defeat them militarily,” he said. “In Iraq, the coalition has trained more than 116,000 Iraqi security forces and that goes from 43,000 Iraqi army, 19,000 police, 6,500 border security guards, 2,200 Peshmerga, 14,000 counter terrorism service members and 10,000 tribal mobilization forces,” Col Dillion said.

The coalition are adapting the training strategy to prepare the Iraqi security forces to face insurgent threats.

“We work with their counter-terrorism service, their police, their border-guard service and we will continue to work with them on these efforts so that after ISIS is militarily defeated,” he said.

‘A lot more fighting left in Syria’

In Syria, however, the coalition has only been limited to co-operating with the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) in the north and the Maghawir al-Thawra forces in the south.

“With the SDF that have liberated places like Tabqa and Manbij, many civilian councils have been formed that are representative of the people,” he said. The councils in every liberated area have established a local security force to protect it.

In Raqqa, an internal security force was set up. “We as a coalition have trained 1,500 personnel in the Raqqa internal security force and they are already began conducting screenings in the area,” Col. Dillion said.

Former Jordanian military commander and strategic advisor, Maj. Gen. Fayez Al Dowairi, has warned that the United States dependency on the SDF is only a short-term solution.

“The SDF since 2016 have been receiving weapons, training and battle guidance from the American forces,” he said.

“Now for the Americans to get the SDF social acceptance in the theatre of their operations, tribal members from those areas have been included with the Kurdish forces under the guise of military councils, especially because those areas do not have a Kurdish majority,” Dowairi said.

He said that these Arab council members are being trained by SDF personnel who have been trained by the Americans so the forces would not be called purely Kurdish forces but rather Syrian forces.

The SDF has a small force in comparison to the size of the theater of operations therefore, they need to train local forces to secure liberated areas, he said. “After that they will not be able to control all those Arab majority villages so the Americans will move on and secure new partners,” he said.

So far, ISIS has lost almost all of its territory and are on the back foot. “Syrian Democratic Forces operating in the proclaimed capital of Raqqa have cleared 65 percent of the city with very little resistance from ISIS,” Dilion said.

Despite that, there still is a lot of fighting to do and there are still many ISIS holdouts in Syria.

Full report at:

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/perspective/features/2017/09/20/London-s-attractions-to-spruce-up-Indian-religious-festival.html

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Daesh attacks Iran aid convoy in eastern Syria

Sep 20, 2017

The Daesh Takfiri terrorist group has attacked an Iranian convoy trying to deliver humanitarian aid to people in eastern Syria.

The Lebanese resistance movement Hezbollah, an ally of the Syrian military in the ongoing fight against terrorists, said on Wednesday that a person was injured in the mortar attack on the convoy traveling through the province of Dayr al-Zawr.

Hezbollah said on its al-Manar website that the attack also caused material damage to nearby buildings and facilities. However, the resistance movement said, 1,000 tonnes of cargo remained intact.

Iran has been a main supplier of humanitarian aid to Syria, where millions of people have been affected by years of brutal militancy. The Iranian government has flown cargoes of aid to various parts of Syria concurrent with the government's ongoing operations to liberate cities and towns from militants.

The Syrian government and allies, including Hezbollah and the Russian air force, have managed to recapture key positions from Daesh in Dayr al-Zawr. The Takfiri terrorist group has been purged from most of the provincial capital, which goes by the same name, and the operation continues to retake other areas to the east and north of the city.

Iran has repeatedly rejected claims that it is helping the Syrian government militarily, saying it has only deployed advisors to help the government in the battle against foreign-backed militants.

Full report at:

http://www.presstv.ir/Detail/2017/09/20/535858/Syria-Daesh-Iran-aid

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Bahrain’s Al Khalifah regime steps up crackdown ahead of landmark Shia event

Sep 20, 2017

Bahrain’s ruling Al Khalifah regime has ramped up its repressive measures ahead of the first month of the Islamic lunar calendar of Muharram, the tenth day of which is known as Ashura that marks the martyrdom anniversary of Imam Hussein (PBUH), the third Shia Imam.

On Wednesday, the Manama regime’s mercenaries, escorted by security forces, raided the villages of Shahrakan, Jid Ali, Malkiya and Karzakan, taking down Ashura banners and flags and removing black cloths that had draped walls in the areas, Arabic-language Lualua television network reported.

Earlier on Monday, Bahraini regime forces had removed stalls set up to provide food and drinks to mourners in the northern villages of Abu Saiba and Shakhura, and removed Ashura signs in Eker area and in the island of Sitra, located five kilometers south of the capital Manama.

Thousands of anti-regime protesters have held demonstrations in Bahrain on an almost daily basis ever since a popular uprising began in the country in mid-February 2011.

They are demanding that the Al Khalifah dynasty relinquish power and allow a just system representing all Bahrainis to be established.

Manama has gone to great lengths to clamp down on any sign of dissent. On March 14, 2011, troops from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates were deployed to assist Bahrain in its crackdown.

Scores of people have lost their lives and hundreds of others sustained injuries or got arrested as a result of the Al Khalifah regime’s crackdown.

On March 5, Bahrain’s parliament approved the trial of civilians at military tribunals in a measure blasted by human rights campaigners as being tantamount to imposition of an undeclared martial law countrywide.  

Full report at:

http://www.presstv.ir/Detail/2017/09/20/535860/Bahrain-Al-Khalifah-regime-crackdown-ahead-of-Ashura-Shia'

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Hundreds attend major anti-secession rally in Iraq’s Sulaymaniyah

Sep 20, 2017

Hundreds of people in Iraq’s northeastern city of Sulaymaniyah have staged a rally to voice their opposition to Kurdistan region’s upcoming referendum on seceding from the Arab country.

The protest took place on Wednesday, after Massoud Barzani, the leader of the semi-autonomous Kurdish Regional Government (KRG), entered the city to discuss the independence bid with Iraqi President Fuad Masum and a number of Kurdish leaders.

Kurdistan officials deployed a large number of security forces in various parts of the city to disperse the protesters, who chanted slogans against Barzani and condemned any attempt at partitioning Iraq.

Kurdish security forces arrested 20 activists protesting Barzani’s visit to the city, which was his first since 2013.

Barzani defiant amid mounting criticism

The Kurdish leader has been adamantly pressing ahead with his plans to hold the September 25 vote, ignoring international calls to drop the bid and negotiate a deal that does not affect Iraq’s integrity.

On Tuesday, he gave Baghdad three days to come up with an alternative plan that was guaranteed by “the international community, the US and Europe.”

“But I will be honest with you, Baghdad has not reached that level yet,” he said, warning that postponing the vote was “impossible.”

Masum, himself a Kurd, has been meeting with Kurdish officials in an attempt to dissolve the vote.

According to his office, the Iraqi president has invited all leaders to call off the referendum and concentrate their efforts on defeating the Daesh terrorist group instead.

The United Nations and the US as well as regional powers like Iran and Turkey have also expressed concerns about the planned vote by the KRG, arguing that it could create further instability in the already volatile region.

The Israeli regime, however, has come out in apparent support of the controversial referendum.

‘Unconstitutional’ bid

Iraqi Kurdish lawmakers on Friday approved holding the secession vote in the face of fierce opposition from the central government in Baghdad, the United Nations and the US.

Besides undermining Iraq’s integrity and derailing the successful campaign against terror groups, Baghdad argues that the vote also violates the constitution.

On Monday Iraq's Supreme Court ordered the deferral of the referendum to examine whether such a poll would be constitutional.

Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi said Saturday that Kurdish authorities were “playing with fire.”

Full report at:

http://www.presstv.ir/Detail/2017/09/20/535844/Iraq-Sulaymaniyah-Kurdistan-Massoud-Barzani-Fuad-Masum

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Mideast

 

Security Official: Even Penguins Feel Ashamed of Israel's Crimes

Sep 20, 2017

Addressing the UN General Assembly meeting in New York on Tuesday, Netanyahu spoke about penguins in his speech — saying that "penguins have no difficulty recognizing that some things are black and white," and therefore are "enthusiastic supporters of Israel."

Responding to Netanyahu's remarks on Wednesday, Shamkhani mocked his child-like remarks.

"Given the extensive hatred of the world people for the regime and himself (Netanyahu) who is the killer of Palestinian women and children, certainly the Antarctic penguins do not undertake the shame and embarrassment of supporting this child-killer regime," he said.

After Netanyahu's comments, Iranians also took to twitter, with posts telling Netanyahu that they were not amused: "In the name of all Iranians: #ShutupNetanyahu."

Other posts integrated the penguin theme, with a photo of penguins lining up to get eaten by a whale, with the line "how penguins reacted when they heard Netanyahu saying that even the penguins like Israel."

Shamkhani also reacted to Trump's anti-Iran remarks, stressing that he seems to be still in the atmosphere of presidential campaign.

He described the US president as a liar and supporter of Takfiri and terrorist groups in the region, and said Trump who viewed Obama as creator of the ISIL has several times in the past few months ordered the US military forces to rescue the terrorists who had been besieged by the Syrian and Iraqi forces.

Shamkhani also lambasted Trump administration's attempts to abrogate the 2015 nuclear deal between Tehran and the world powers, and said, "The US approach on the nuclear deal means mocking the path of negotiations and the country's non-commitment to the rules of diplomacy and has no message but discrediting the international circles before the world."

Iranians took Twitter by storm in response to Trump's address to the UN General Assembly on Tuesday, using the hashtag #ShutupTrump.

Some of the tweets accused Trump of hypocrisy for calling Iran out for supporting terrorists while maintaining close relations with Saudi Arabia.

http://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13960629000968

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IRGC Top Commander: Time to Correct US Miscalculations

Sep 20, 2017

"Time is now ripe for correcting the US miscalculations. Now that the US has fully displayed its nature, the government should use all its options to defend the Iranian nation's interests," General Jafari said on Wednesday in reaction to Trump's recent remarks at the UN General Assembly meeting in New York.

"Taking a decisive position against Trump is just the start and what is strategically important is that the US should witness more painful responses in the actions, behavior and decisions that Iran will take in the next few months," he added.

General Jafari expressed pleasure that Trump unveiled the true face of the US to the world through his recent remarks, and said Washington's repeated failures, specially in the region, have made the Americans perplexed.

His remarks came after Trump gave the harsh assessment Iran during his first address to the United Nations General Assembly as President.

“The Iran deal was one of the worst and most one-sided transactions the US has ever entered into,” Trump said. “Frankly, that deal is an embarrassment to the United States, and I don't think you've heard the last of it. Believe me.

Full report at:

http://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13960629001535

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Abbas at UN calls for end to ‘apartheid’ for Palestinians

Sep 21, 2017

UNITED NATIONS - Palestinian leader Mahmud Abbas on Wednesday urged the United Nations to end what he described as an “apartheid” regime imposed by Israel in the Palestinian territories.

“We are entrusted and you are entrusted to end apartheid in Palestine,” Abbas told the UN General Assembly in a nearly 45-minute address.

“Can the world accept an apartheid regime in the 21st century?” he asked.

Taking the podium a day after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Abbas slammed Israel over the construction of new settlements “everywhere,” saying they were putting the two-state solution in jeopardy. “There is no place left for the state of Palestine and this is not acceptable,” he said. The United Nations considers settlements illegal under international law and the Security Council in December adopted a resolution demanding an end to the expansion of the Jewish outposts on the West Bank and east Jerusalem.

The resolution passed after the United States under the previous administration of Barack Obama declined to use its veto and instead abstained.

The Palestinian leader vowed to push for full recognition of Palestinian statehood at the United Nations, a move that would require approval from the Security Council where the United States, Israel’s key ally, holds veto power.

Full report at:

http://nation.com.pk/international/21-Sep-2017/abbas-at-un-calls-for-end-to-apartheid-for-palestinians

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Turkish minister confirms agents' captured by Kurdish rebels

Sep 21, 2017

ANKARA, Turkey: Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu has confirmed media reports that two Turkish intelligence officials have been captured by Kurdish rebels in neighboring northern Iraq.

Cavusoglu’s comments, in an interview with Al-Monitor news website on Monday, were the first confirmation by a Turkish official of Kurdish and other media reports that two National Intelligence Organization agents were kidnapped by the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK, while on a mission in northern Iraq.

Cavusoglu said Turkey is working for the return of “all citizens that the PKK kidnapped,” adding that Ankara was not engaged in direct talks with the militant group “to bring back those two persons.”

Reports claimed the agents were captured during an anti-PKK operation in Iraq in August.

Full report at:

http://nation.com.pk/international/20-Sep-2017/turkish-minister-confirms-agents-captured-by-kurdish-rebels

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Saudi FM Jubeir: Iran has not lived up to terms of nuclear deal

21 September 2017

Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Minister Adel Jubeir said on Wednesday that Iran was not in compliance with its nuclear agreement signed with six world powers.

Speaking to reporters at the United Nations in New York, Jubeir said Iran was doing the opposite of what it had agreed to in terms of the deal signed in 2015.

“With regards to the nuclear deal with Iran, we believe that it must be strictly enforced. Iran has not lived up to the terms of that agreement with regards to the behavior of Iran in terms of promoting stability in the region rather than promoting instability, death and destruction,” Jubeir said.

Full report at:

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2017/09/21/Anti-ISIS-coalition-taking-different-approaches-in-Iraq-Syria.html

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Turkish jets kill three civilians in Iraq: Report

Sep 20, 2017

Three civilians have been killed when Turkish fighter jets bombarded Duhok province in Iraq’s Kurdistan region, a report says.

“The Turkish aerial bombing that targeted the border area of Saidan of Amadiya city in Duhok province, left three civilians dead” on Wednesday, Iraq’s al-Sumaria news website quoted a media official in the province as saying. Mahmoud Nahily said an unspecified number of people were also injured.

Eyewitnesses had earlier said Turkish warplanes attacked border areas north of the province.

Turkish forces have been conducting ground operations as well as airstrikes against the positions of the the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) militants in Turkey’s troubled southeastern border region and Iraq’s semi-autonomous Kurdistan region for nearly two years.

The campaign began following the July 2015 bombing in the southern Turkish town of Suruc, which claimed more than 30 civilian lives. Turkish officials held the Takfiri Daesh terrorist group responsible for the act of terror.

The PKK militants, who accuse the Ankara government of supporting Daesh, launched a string of supposed reprisal attacks against Turkish security forces after the bomb attack, in turn prompting the Turkish military operations.

Full report at:

http://www.presstv.ir/Detail/2017/09/20/535866/Turkish-airstrike-Iraq-Duhok

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Negotiations with US on any issues would be ‘waste of time’: Rouhani

Sep 21, 2017

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has dismissed prospects for engaging in negotiations with the United States, saying doing so would be a "waste of time" as Washington does not honor its commitments.

At a presser after his speech at the 72nd UN General Assembly in New York, Rouhani said there could be no future dialogue with the US at a time when Washington speaks of leaving the 2015 Iran nuclear agreement with the P5+1 group of countries.

"We held negotiations for many years on [the nuclear] agreement..., but today the Americans talk of leaving the deal. So why should negotiations on other issues be held [with the US]?" Rouhani told reporters on Wednesday night.  

Given the current situation, holding talks with the US "would be a waste of time," the Iranian president added.

Rouhani further added that the country had "various options" such as "the removal of obstacles" if Washington pulls out of the nuclear agreement, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).

"It means that our hand would be completely open to take any action that we see as beneficial to our country," he added.

Rouhani also said that US President Donald Trump should "apologize to the Iranian nation" for his UN speech, which he said was a violation of the JCPOA.

During his speech at the UN General Assembly on Tuesday, Trump accused Iran of engaging in “destabilizing activities” in the region.

He also claimed that Iran's "support for terror is in stark contrast to the recent commitments of many of its neighbors to fight terrorism and halt its financing.”

Trump also denounced the nuclear agreement as “an embarrassment” that Washington may abandon. 

Iran and the five permanent members of the UN Security Council – the United States, France, Britain, Russia and China – plus Germany signed the nuclear agreement on July 14, 2015 and started implementing it on January 16, 2016.

Backed by UN Security Council Resolution 2231, the JCPOA is an international agreement, which makes it impossible for any party to the deal to withdraw from it.

Since Trump took office, the US has repeatedly threatened to abandon the agreement.

Full report at:

http://www.presstv.ir/Detail/2017/09/21/535890/iran-rouhani-trump-waste-of-time

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Europe

 

Muslim Party ‘Taken over by Islamists’ Rejected by Swedish Election Agency

20 Sep 2017

Swedish electoral authorities have refused to register the Muslim-led “Jasin” party from taking part in next year’s Swedish election after radical Islamists had tried to take it over.

The Muslim party announced last week it would field candidates in next year’s Swedish national election and sought to register as an official Swedish political party.

The agency refused after not receiving the proper paperwork – but that might be the least of the party’s problems as it tries to cope with its more radical members, Swedish newspaper Varlden Idag reports.

Spokesman Mehdi Hosseini said: “We have had some problems in our party. Radicals tried to take over.” When asked if there were Muslims within his party who would like to see Sweden subject to Shariah law, he replied that there were.

“Our goal is to make the situation of people in Sweden better, not to introduce Shariah law,” he said.

After the rejection, Hosseini claimed the party would change to be more inclusive of Swedes from any background, rather than just Muslims and immigrants. “In the past, we wrote that we would be a party for ‘everyone from the eastern world’, now we want to be a party for everyone in Sweden,” he said noting that the name would not change.

“The founders of the party are Muslims, I can not deny that, but we shall be a secular party. If the Swedes want a different name on the party then we can vote on it,” he added.

The party is the latest attempt by Muslims to form their own political parties in Europe. In the Netherlands, the Turkish-Muslim party “Denk” won three seats in the national elections earlier this year gaining 2.1 per cent of the vote.

In Austria, Turkish-led migrant party, the New Movement for the Future (NBZ), claims to be fielding candidates in next month’s parliamentary elections.

So far, the polls in Austria have shown a steep rise in support for the anti-Islamisation Freedom Party (FPÖ) and its leader Heinz-Christian Strache who vowed to ban Islamism earlier this year.

The frontrunner in the election, Austrian People’s Party (ÖVP) leader Sebastian Kurz, has also taken several Islam-critical stances including pushing for the banning of the full face Islamic veil which was banned earlier this year.

http://www.breitbart.com/london/2017/09/20/muslim-party-taken-islamists-rejected-swedish-election-agency/

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Kremlin frets as Russia's once restive Islamist region takes up political Islam

Sep 21, 2017

SEPTEMBER 20, 2017  MOSCOW—Russia fought two bloody wars in its Caucasus republic of Chechnya, ostensibly to crush an emerging threat of Islamist extremism on its own soil.

So it is with no small irony that the strongman Moscow installed to run a pacified Chechnya, Ramzan Kadyrov, is increasingly posing a similar challenge to Russia's secular constitutional order. Mr. Kadyrov is imposing sharia (Islamic law) on his population – and lately, even defying the Kremlin's foreign policy – with an apparent eye on a global, Islamic stage.

“Kadyrov wants to be considered a leader among world Muslims. His ambitions are very high,” says Alexei Malashenko, an Islam expert with the Moscow Carnegie Center. “He has introduced politicized Islam in Chechnya, and this is definitely a problem for the Kremlin. [President Vladimir] Putin clearly does not like it.”

Kadyrov has always been one of the most, if not the most, noteworthy of Russia's regional leaders, though often for less than positive reasons.

Sometimes his antics look simply baffling to outsiders, as when he recently ordered almost 1,000 divorced Chechen couples to reunite “for the sake of the children,” his ongoing efforts to force Chechen women to adhere to a “Muslim dress code,” or his endorsement of polygamy in Chechnya – which is strictly against Russian law.

At other times even Russian social conservatives look on with horror, as when dozens of gay Chechen men were rounded up earlier this year, beaten, tortured and an unknown number killed. The frustration of Russian security services with Kadyrov over his consistent refusal to permit Moscow-based police to operate in the republic, sometimes punctuated by death threats, is an open secret.

But the wayward Chechen leader launched an open challenge to the Kremlin – and signaled his own widening ambitions – by staging a demonstration of at least half a million people in downtown Grozny earlier this month to express solidarity with the persecuted Rohingya Muslims of Myanmar and demand the Kremlin take action to protect them.

Russia, along with China, supports the Myanmar government, and has largely evaded addressing the plight of the Rohingya. Leaders of Russian regions do not, as a rule, question Russian foreign policies. Asked about it later, a visibly annoyed Vladimir Putin merely said that “each person is entitled to having one’s own attitude regardless of rank or position.” But subsequently, police in Moscow violently suppressed a pro-Rohingya rally by local Muslims in front of the Myanmar embassy, arresting 17 people – all reportedly Chechens.

'A very special place inside Russia'

Kadyrov has been actively reshaping the local strain of Islam – Chechens are traditionally Sufi Muslims – and turning it into a political tool to enhance his own power and posture as an Islamic champion on the world stage.

“Kadyrov has de facto imposed sharia law on Chechen society. It's now an Islamicized region of Russia, the only one,” says Rais Suleymanov, an Islamic expert at the security services-linked Institute of National Strategy in Kazan. “Women must wear hijabs, men wear beards, including officials. Religion has become part of the political system of Chechnya. Imams have the status of peoples' deputies, indeed they are effectively civil servants. Nothing like this happens anywhere else in Russia.”

Another majority Muslim region of Russia that once tried to declare independence from Moscow, the Volga republic of Tatarstan, has managed to expunge Wahhabi influences while obeying Russian law and maintaining the open, multi-ethnic character of its society.  Tatarstan has since become a relative economic powerhouse, and is approvingly cited by officials in Moscow as a showplace for the kind of secular and tolerant Russia they want to build.

Yet Kadyrov's political challenge could make waves even in Tatarstan.

“The head of Tatar Muslims, Mufti Kamil Samigullin, supported Ramzan Kadyrov's position on what's happening in Myanmar,” says Andrei Bolshakov, an expert on conflict studies at Kazan University. “There have been words of support from many religious leaders here. Islam is a united religion and a Muslim, wherever he lives in Russia, is a Muslim.”

The conundrum for the Kremlin is that Kadyrov has pacified Chechnya and sidelined the internationally backed Islamist extremist forces that in past years carried out dozens of terrorist attacks in major Russian cities. And Kadyrov seldom misses an opportunity to express his total loyalty to Putin personally.

“Putin considers Kadyrov to be a pillar of Russian control in the Caucasus,” says Mr. Malashenko. “Kadyrov has made so many enemies in Chechnya that, without Putin's backing, he probably would not last. So, they need each other.”

But the strains are growing, he says.

“Chechnya has become a very special place inside Russia. Kadyrov uses Islam as a tool of social and political management. And he does seem to have the enthusiastic support of young Chechen men, who totally embrace this Islamization.

Full report at:

https://www.csmonitor.com/World/Europe/2017/0920/Kremlin-frets-as-Russia-s-once-restive-Islamist-region-takes-up-political-Islam

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Muslims willing to embrace non-Muslims in Europe, EU survey finds

21 September 2017

A survey of Muslims in 15 European Union countries finds most are willing to embrace non-Muslims, but they often feel rebuffed by the majority populations of the places they live.

The findings released Thursday by the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights reflect the views of 10,527 Muslim immigrants and children of immigrants who were interviewed between October 2015 and July 2016.

Nine out of 10 of those surveyed reported having non-Muslim friends and 92 percent said they tended to feel comfortable with neighbors of a different religious background.

But more than half - 53 percent - said they had felt discriminated against when they looked for housing because of their names. On the employment front, 35 percent of the women who had looked for work felt discriminated against because of their clothing, compared to 4 percent for men.

Key findings

The people surveyed were over age 16 and had been living for at least a year in Austria, Belgium, Cyprus, Germany, Denmark, Greece, Spain, Finland, France, Italy, Malta, the Netherlands, Sweden, Slovenia and the United Kingdom.

Other findings from the survey included:

- Nearly half of the respondents did not find interfaith marriage objectionable, with 48 percent reporting they would feel “totally comfortable” with a family member marrying a non-Muslim.

While 17 percent said they would feel uncomfortable in that situation, the authors of the report summarizing the survey results said that compares with 30 percent of non-Muslims who said they would be uncomfortable if their child had a romantic relationship with a Muslim.

EXCLUSIVE: Eid celebrations in the Great Mosque of Rome

- Outreach is often met with rejection and hostility. At the time of their survey interviews, 27 percent of respondents said they had experienced harassment because of their Muslim backgrounds during the previous 12 months. Another 2 percent reported being physically assaulted.

- Of the Muslim women who wore headscarves or face veils, 31 percent reported harassment. Inappropriate staring or offensive gestures were reported by 39 percent of the women who wore the coverings, while 22 percent said they were targets of offensive comments and 2 percent said they were physically attacked. For women who did not wear veils or headscarves, harassment was experienced by 23 percent.

Decade of migration

The survey participants came from or had at least one parent originally Turkey, North Africa, Sub-Saharan Africa, South Asia and Asia. In two countries, respondents also included Muslims from other countries outside Europe who had immigrated within the previous 10 years.

Full report at:

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/perspective/features/2017/09/21/Muslims-willing-to-embrace-non-Muslims-in-Europe-EU-survey-finds.html

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Britain First leaders charged with religious harassment

20 September 2017

The leader and deputy leader of Britain First have been charged with causing religiously aggravated harassment.

Paul Golding, 35, and Jayda Fransen, 31, were arrested in May as part of an investigation into the distribution of in Thanet and Canterbury and videos posted online during a trial a gang-rape trial at Canterbury Crown Court.

The trial involved three Muslim men and a teenager who were eventually convicted of rape and jailed.

Fransen was charged with four counts of causing religiously aggravated harassment, while Golding was charged with three, Kent Police said.

Both were bailed to appear before Medway magistrates on 17 October.

The former leader of the English Defence League (EDL) was given a suspended prison sentence for contempt of court in May after filming outside the court during the same rape trial.

Full report at:

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/crime/britain-first-paul-golding-jayda-fransen-charged-religious-harassment-muslim-gang-rape-trial-kent-a7957486.html

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London police arrest two more men linked to London Underground attack

Sep 21, 2017

Two men were arrested on Wednesday over last week's London Underground terror attack in which 30 people were injured, bringing the total number of people in custody to five, police said.

The men, aged 48 and 30, were arrested under anti-terrorism legislation in Newport in Wales, police said in a statement, after a 25-year-old man was arrested in the same city on Tuesday.

“This continues to be a fast-moving investigation,” Dean Haydon, head of counter-terrorism at London's Metropolitan Police, said in the statement.

“We now have five men in custody and searches are continuing at four addresses,” he said.

“We anticipate that the searches will take some days to complete and may cause further disruption”.

Friday's attack on a train at Parsons Green station in west London was claimed by the militant Islamic State group.

A bomb hidden in a large white bucket apparently failed to detonate fully when it went off during morning rush hour but instead released what witnesses described as a “fireball” into the air.

Some commuters suffered burns, while others were injured in the stampede to the exit that ensued.

The bombing was the fifth terror attack in Britain in six months, which combined have claimed 35 lives.

The terror alert in Britain was raised to its maximum “critical” level on Friday, meaning another attack was believed to be imminent. It was lowered back to “severe” on Sunday.

An 18-year-old man, reportedly an Iraqi refugee, was arrested in the ferry departure terminal of the port of Dover on Saturday and a 21-year-old man was detained later the same day in west London.

The 21-year-old was named by British media, who said he was originally from Syria and had been working at a fast food chicken restaurant.

The police investigation has focused on a foster home in Sunbury-on-Thames, a suburb of London where the 18-year-old is believed to have lived.

Full report at:

http://nation.com.pk/international/20-Sep-2017/london-police-arrest-two-more-men-linked-to-london-underground-attack

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Britain’s PM urges all parties’ commitment to Iran nuclear deal

Sep 20, 2017

British Prime Minister Theresa May has strongly backed the 2015 Iranian nuclear agreement, calling on all parties to remain fully committed to the deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).

“I explicitly announced at the United Nations that the JCPOA is a very important agreement, and we are determined to continue [implementing] it,” May said during a meeting with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani in New York on Wednesday on the sidelines of the 72nd UN General Assembly session, according to the official website of the Iranian president.

“We should make sure… that obligations stipulated in the JCPOA will be fully implemented,” she added, urging all parties to the deal, including the US, to fulfill their commitments under the deal.

For his part, Rouhani urged all parties to the JCPOA to live up to their commitments under the nuclear agreement, adding that all should make efforts to contribute to the sustainability of the deal.   

Iran and the five permanent members of the UN Security Council – the United States, France, Britain, Russia and China – plus Germany signed the JCPOA on July 14, 2015 and started implementing it on January 16, 2016.

Under the JCPOA, Iran undertook to put limitations on its nuclear program in exchange for the removal of nuclear-related sanctions imposed against Tehran.

The administration of US President Donald Trump has on numerous occasions criticized the deal, calling it a mistake. 

Backed by UN Security Council Resolution 2231, the JCPOA is an international agreement, which makes it impossible for any party to the deal to withdraw from it.

During the meeting, Rouhani also expressed Tehran’s readiness to further cooperate with London on regional issues.

The Iranian president and the British prime minister also called for the expansion of bilateral ties. 

The two sides also discussed the latest developments in the Middle East region, including the war in Yemen and the upcoming Kurdish independence referendum in Iraq. 

Full report at:

http://www.presstv.ir/Detail/2017/09/20/535878/Iran-Britain-JCPOA-Rouhani-May

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France calls for UN action on Rohingya 'genocide'

21 September 2017

President Emmanuel Macron on Wednesday became the latest voice to brand the killing of Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar as “genocide”.

“France will work with its partners at the UN Security Council to take the initiative to get the UN to condemn the continuing genocide and ethnic cleansing,” Macron said in an interview with French broadcaster TMC in New York.

In his first address to the UN General Assembly on Tuesday, Macron used the words “ethnic cleansing” to describe the mass killing of Rohingya in Myanmar’s western state of Rakhine.

“We must condemn the ethnic purification which is under way and act,” he added in his Wednesday interview.

Since Aug. 25, more than 421,000 Rohingya have crossed from Rakhine into Bangladesh, according to the UN.

The refugees are fleeing a fresh security operation in which security forces and Buddhist mobs have killed men, women and children, looted homes and torched Rohingya villages.

According to Bangladeshi Foreign Minister Abul Hasan Mahmood Ali, who has also termed the killings “genocide”, around 3,000 Rohingya have been killed in the crackdown.

Turkey has been at the forefront of providing aid to Rohingya refugees.

The Rohingya, described by the UN as the world's most persecuted people, have faced heightened fears of attack since dozens were killed in communal violence in 2012.

Last October, following attacks on border posts in Rakhine's Maungdaw district, security forces launched a five-month crackdown in which, according to Rohingya groups, around 400 people were killed.

Full report at:

http://www.worldbulletin.net/europe/194198/france-calls-for-un-action-on-rohingya-genocide

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UK to suspend its military ties with Myanmar

20 September 2017

The U.K. is suspending all its engagement with Myanmar's military until the action against the country's Muslim Rohingya minority is halted, British Prime Minister Theresa May said Tuesday.

"We are very concerned about what is happening to the Rohingya people in Burma [Myanmar]. The military action against them must stop," May told the United Nations General Assembly in New York.

Noting that "too many vulnerable people" had to flee for their lives, May said: "[Myanmar's de facto leader] Aung San Suu Kyi and the Burmese government need to make it very clear that the military action should stop.”

"The British government is announcing today that we are going to stop all defense engagement and training of the Burmese military by the Ministry of Defense until this issue is resolved," she added.

Last year, the U.K. spent around £305,000 (some $412,000) as part of a training program provided to the Myanmar military on democracy, leadership and English language. The program offered by the Ministry of Defense does not include combat training.

Since Aug. 25, more than 420,000 Rohingya have crossed from Myanmar's western state of Rakhine into Bangladesh, according to the UN.

The refugees are fleeing a fresh security operation in which security forces and Buddhist mobs have killed men, women and children, looted homes and torched Rohingya villages. According to Bangladesh, around 3,000 Rohingya have been killed in the crackdown.

The Rohingya, described by the UN as the world's most persecuted people, have faced heightened fears of attack since dozens were killed in communal violence in 2012.

Last October, following attacks on border posts in Rakhine's Maungdaw district, security forces launched a five-month crackdown in which, according to Rohingya groups, around 400 people were killed.

Full report at:

http://www.worldbulletin.net/europe/194166/uk-to-suspend-its-military-ties-with-myanmar

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South Asia

 

Myanmar Buddhist Protesters Try to Block Aid Shipment to Muslim Rohingya

Sep 21, 2017

SITTWE, Myanmar (Reuters) - Hundreds of Buddhists in Myanmar tried to block a shipment of aid to Muslims in Rakhine state where the United Nations has accused the military of ethnic cleansing, with a witness saying protesters threw petrol bombs before police dispersed them by firing into the air.

The protest was testament to rising communal animosity that threatens to complicate the delivery of vital supplies, and came as U.S. President Donald Trump called for a quick end to the violence that has raised concern about Myanmar’s transition from military rule.

The aid shipment, being organized by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), was bound for the north of the state where insurgent attacks on Aug. 25 sparked a military backlash.

The violence has sent more than 420,000 Rohingya Muslims fleeing to neighboring Bangladesh but many remain in Myanmar, hiding in fear of being caught up in more violence without food and other supplies, aid workers believe.

Several hundred people tried to stop a boat being loaded with about 50 tonnes of aid at a dock in the Rakhine State capital of Sittwe late on Wednesday, a government information office said on Thursday.

Protesters, some carrying sticks and metal bars, threw petrol bombs and about 200 police were forced to disperse them by shooting into the air, a witness said, adding that he saw some injured people. Eight people were detained, the government information office said in a release.

A spokeswoman for the ICRC was not immediately available for comment. Police in Sittwe were also not immediately available for comment.

Tension between majority Buddhists and Rohingya in Rakhine state has simmered for decades but it has exploded in violence several times over the past few years, as old prejudices have surfaced with the end of decades of military rule.

The latest bout of bloodshed began in August when Rohingya insurgents attacked about 30 police posts and an army camp, killing about 12 people.

The government says more than 400 people, most of them insurgents have been killed since then.

Rights monitors and fleeing Rohingya say the army and Rakhine Buddhist vigilantes have mounted a campaign aimed at driving out the Muslim population and torching their villages.

Myanmar rejects the charge, saying its forces are tackling insurgents of the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army who it has accused of setting the fires and attacking civilians.

TRUMP CALLS FOR SWIFT ACTION

The violence and the exodus of refugees has brought International condemnation and raised questions about the commitment of government leader Aung San Suu Kyi to human rights, and prospects for Myanmar’s political and economic development.

Suu Kyi addressed the nation about the crisis on Tuesday and condemned abuses and said all violators would be punished, adding that she was committed to peace and the rule of law.

However, she did not address U.N. accusations of ethnic cleansing by the military, which is in charge of security.

U.S. President Donald Trump wanted the U.N. Security Council to take “strong and swift action” to end the violence, U.S. Vice President Mike Pence said on Wednesday, declaring the crisis a threat to the region and world.

Pence repeated a U.S. call for the military to end the violence and support diplomatic efforts for a long-term solution for the Rohingya, who are denied citizenship in a country where many Buddhists regard them as illegal immigrants.

It was the strongest U.S. government response yet to the violence.

U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Patrick Murphy is in Myanmar and was due to meet government officials and representatives of different communities in Sittwe, the capital of Rakhine state.

Military chief Senior General Min Aung Hlaing on Wednesday visited an army camp in the state that was attacked on Aug. 25.

“This was a British colony over 100 years ago, we are facing the consequences of their reckless acts until now,” he was quoted as saying in a military release.

This week, Britain suspended a training program for Myanmar officers because of the violence and called on the army to stop the violence.

Full report at:

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-myanmar-rohingya-aid/myanmar-protesters-try-to-block-aid-shipment-to-muslim-rohingya-idUSKCN1BW0D1

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Myanmar vice president bluffs with Suu Kyi’s lines

September 21, 2017

Walking into footsteps of Aung San Suu Kyi, Myanmar’s Vice-President Henry Van Thio has said he is oblivious to the reason behind the exodus of Rohingyas.

Speaking at the UN General Assembly, he said his government “is deeply concerned” about the situation and tried to assure that “the situation has improved”.

What is little known is that the great majority of the Muslim population decided to remain in their villages, he stated in his speech as reported in the UN news centre.

“There is no denying that this is a problem of significant magnitude,” said U Henry Van Thio, the Vice-President of Myanmar. “I am [however] happy to inform you that the situation has improved. No armed clashes have been reported since 5 September.”

He was speaking at the UN General Assembly in place of Aung San Suu Kyi. She declined to attend the General Assembly in order to handle the crisis.

Noting that his Government is also concerned over reports that the number of Muslims crossing into Bangladesh remains unabated, the Vice-President said that the reason needed to be found for the exodus.

He informed the world leaders that the violence, suffering and mass displacement in Myanmar’s Rakhine province affects not just Muslim and Rakhine communities, but also other minority groups – to which most of the world has been oblivious

Acknowledging that it is his Government’s “first and foremost” responsibility to respond to the challenges in Rakhine province, he announced the adoption of an integrated national strategy to address the situation there.

Humanitarian assistance also remains a top priority, said the Myanmar leader, adding that the Government is committed to ensuring that aid is received by all those in need, without discrimination.

Further, noting that there has been a call for the repatriation of the displaced people who fled northern Rakhine to Bangladesh, the Vice-President recalled the Myanmar State Councillor’s announcement yesterday in which, according to him, she stated that “Myanmar was prepared to start the verification process at anytime.”

“Our two neighbours have had the experience of such a process in 1993 through the establishment of a joint working group for implementation of repatriation process. We can develop a process based on the experience of 1993,” said the Vice-President.

“The recent events in Rakhine state are a painful reminder that we face difficult challenges ahead on the long journey towards peace, prosperity and democracy,” he added, and further recalled State Counsellor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi’s first address to the General Assembly, in which she said:

“As part of this commitment, we have made the national reconciliation and peace process our top priority. Our vision here is clear: to achieve a democratic, federal Union, based on the principles of freedom, justice, equal rights and self-determination.”

Noting that his country has made real progress, he expressed that his Government knows that the road ahead is “long and convoluted.”

Full report at:

http://www.thedailystar.net/world/rohingya-crisis/myanmar-concerned-over-rakhine-rohingya-refugee-exodus-vice-president-1465390

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Afghanistan arms civilians to protect mosques during Muharram

20 September 2017

Afghanistan is arming hundreds of civilians nationwide to help protect mosques during the month of Muharram after several deadly attacks on Shiite religious sites.

The government’s move comes as it considers a similar proposal to arm 20,000 villagers to fight militants, highlighting the impotence of Afghanistan’s army and police in beating back insurgents and stemming the bloody violence.

The extra protection for mosques was announced on the website of Second Vice President Sarwar Danish. It also involves the deployment during the mourning month of Muharram of more troops and police around places of worship, particularly those of the Shiite Muslim minority.

Shiites, who number around three million in overwhelmingly Sunni Afghanistan, have regularly been targeted by ISIS and accuse police and troops of failing to protect them.

Providing protection

“After the recent unfortunate incidents the people should not rely on security forces alone to provide them protection. The people, especially the youth, in their respective areas, need to focus on securing the mosques during the Muharram days,” Danish said after a meeting with top security officials and Shiite leaders on Monday.

Acting Interior Minister Wais Barmak said the training of “hundreds of people” recruited by the ministry to protect mosques had almost finished. They will support the additional forces to be deployed around “sacred places”.

Full report at:

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/world/2017/09/20/Afghanistan-arms-civilians-to-protect-mosques-during-Muharram.html

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Bangladesh army steps in as Rohingya Muslims suffer amid heavy rainfall

Sep 20, 2017

COX'S BAZAR, Bangladesh: Bangladesh's army was ordered Wednesday to take up a bigger role in helping hundreds of thousands of Rohingya who have fled violence in Myanmar, amid warnings it could take six months to register new refugees.

Troops would be deployed immediately in Cox's Bazar near the border where more than 420,000 Rohingya Muslims have arrived since August 25, said Obaidul Quader, a senior minister and deputy head of the ruling Awami League party.

Soldiers would help build shelters and toilets for the thousands of refugees still sleeping in the open under pounding monsoon rain, Quader told AFP.

"The army presence is especially needed on the spot to construct their shelters, which is a very tough task, and ensure sanitation," he said.

The latest order came from Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, Quader said.

The soldiers would also ensure order and assist with distributing relief, a chaotic process that has seen stampedes as donors hurled food and other staples from moving trucks.

Previously, troops had been tasked with transporting foreign relief supplies from the country's port city of Chittagong to Cox's Bazar where the overcrowded camps are located.

As the handful of ill-equipped camps rapidly reached capacity, Bangladesh announced it would create a new site capable of housing some 400,000 refugees within 10 days.

Extra water pumps have been installed at some locations and concrete rings for latrines stockpiled along the roadside.

But there were few signs of major construction work underway, with many refugees complaining they were being ordered to move on without any idea where to go.

"We don't know where would we go. We are poor. We managed to buy the bamboo and tarpaulin with people's help, and now I have to relocate again," said Mujibur Rahman, a 48-year-old Rohingya.

"I don't know when this moving game will stop."

The government has been trying to herd refugees into designated areas, fearful that nearby cities could be overwhelmed if they are left unchecked.

"I tried to go to the place where the Bangladeshi government said they set aside land for us. But locals drove us out asking for money to settle us down," a Rohingya community leader, Yusuf Majhi told AFP.

Local authorities have set up a dozen relief centres and several emergency kitchens to streamline aid distribution.

But efforts by the army to officially register the new arrivals amid the crowded camps has been moving at a glacial pace, said Brigadier General Saidur Rahman.

"We are aiming to finish it within five or six months," said Rahman, who heads the registration drive.

More registration booths would be erected to complete the mammoth task, he added.

Monsoon downpours are compounding the misery.

Cox's Bazar has been pounded with 21.4 centimetres (8.4 inches) of rain in the past five days, raising fears of landslides in the unstable, muddy hills on which thousands of refugees were camped.

Hundreds of refugees were forced to abandon their shanties Wednesday in a rubber plantation after heavy rain flooded the area, according to an AFP correspondent at the scene.

"My tent has been flooded in knee-deep water. The children are suffering from the cold," said Nur Mohammad, a 62-year-old Rohingya man who arrived in Bangladesh with 16 members of his family.

Rohingya, who are predominantly Muslim, are reviled by many in Buddhist-majority Myanmar.

The UN human rights chief has described the systematic attacks against the Rohingya minority by Myanmar's security forces as a "textbook example of ethnic cleansing".

Sheikh Hasina has issued a new call for Myanmar to take back some of the Rohingya.

Myanmar's de-facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi said in a speech Tuesday that the country would take back verified refugees.

But her speech "did not present the real picture" of the Rohingya situation, said Bangladesh's information minister Hasanul Haq, who has been briefing reporters on the crisis.

"The condition she set on the return of the refugees is not acceptable," he said in Dhaka on Wednesday.

Full report at:

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/south-asia/bangladesh-army-steps-in-as-rohingya-muslims-suffer-amid-heavy-rainfall/articleshow/60767933.cms

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Bangladesh PM says Myanmar must take back Rohingya

Sep 21, 2017

DHAKA - Bangladesh’s Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has issued a new call for Myanmar to take back the some 420,000 Rohingya Muslims who have fled violence in the Buddhist-dominated country.

Hasina, speaking to Bangladeshi activists in New York where she is attending the UN General Assembly, also called for greater international pressure on Myanmar over the new crisis which has unfolded in the past three weeks, media reports said.

“We have told Myanmar, they are your citizens, you must take them back, keep them safe, give them shelter, there should not be any oppression and torture,” she told a meeting late Tuesday in New York.

The prime minister said Bangladesh was making diplomatic efforts to persuade Myanmar to take back the refugees. “But the Myanmar government is not responding to the calls. Rather, Myanmar is laying landmines along the border to stop the return of Rohingyas to their homeland,” she said. Myanmar’s de-facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi said in a speech hours earlier that the country would take back verified refugees. Myanmar considers the Rohingya illegal migrants from Bangladesh and refuses them citizenship, even though many have lived there for decades.

At a meeting of Islamic nations on the sidelines of the UN assembly, Hasina said Yangon was spearheading a state-sponsored propaganda campaign to call the Rohingya ‘Bengalis’, adding that they must be given Myanmar citizenship. Hasina sought “urgent humanitarian assistance” from Muslim nations to cope with the influx of Rohingya who have fled what she called “ethnic cleansing”, the state BSS news agency reported.

“It is an unbearable human catastrophe. I have visited them and listened to the stories of their grave sufferings, particularly of women and children,” she said.

“I would like you all to come to Bangladesh and hear from them about the atrocities in Myanmar,” she said.

The majority of the refugees are women and children.

While Bangladesh has earned international praise for opening its doors to the Rohingyas, aid agencies have warning of a growing humanitarian crisis as authorities struggle to provide even basic facilities for the new arrivals.

The 420,000 now in makeshift shelters around the border town of Cox’s Bazar have added to about 300,000 Rohingya who moved into camps in the region following earlier waves of violence in Myanmar.

Rohingya suffer heavy rain

Bangladesh’s army was ordered Wednesday to take a bigger role helping hundreds of thousands of Rohingya who have fled violence in Myanmar, amid warnings it could take six months to register the new refugees.

Troops would be deployed immediately in Cox’s Bazar near the border where more than 420,000 Rohingya Muslims have arrived since August 25, said Obaidul Quader, a senior minister and deputy head of the ruling Awami League party.

Soldiers would help build shelters and toilets for the thousands of refugees still sleeping in the open under pounding monsoon rain, Quader told AFP.

“The army presence is especially needed on the spot to construct their shelters, which is a very tough task, and ensure sanitation,” he said.

The latest order came from Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, Quader said.

The soldiers would also ensure order and assist with distributing relief, a chaotic process that seen stampedes as donors have hurled food and other staples from moving trucks.

Previously troops had been tasked with transporting foreign relief supplies from the country’s port city of Chittagong airport to Cox’s Bazar where the overcrowded camps are located.

As the handful of ill-equipped camps rapidly reached capacity, Bangladesh announced it would create a new site capable of housing some 400,000 refugees within 10 days.

Extra water pumps have been installed at some locations, and concrete rings for latrines stockpiled along the roadside.

But there were few signs of major construction work underway, with many refugees complaining they were being ordered to move on without any idea where to go.

“We don’t know where to go”

“We don’t know where would we go. We are poor. We managed to buy the bamboo and tarpaulin with people’s help, and now I have to relocate again,” said Mujibur Rahman, a 48-year-old Rohingya father of 10. “I don’t know when this moving game will stop.”

The government has been trying to herd refugees into designated areas, fearful that nearby cities could be overwhelmed if they are left unchecked.

“I tried to go to the place where the Bangladeshi government said they set aside land for us. But locals drove us out asking for money to settle us down,” a Rohingya community leader, Yusuf Majhi, told AFP.

Local authorities have set up a dozen relief centres and several emergency kitchens to streamline aid distribution.

But efforts by the army to officially register the new arrivals amid the crowded camps has been moving at a glacial pace, said Brigadier General Saidur Rahman.

“We are aiming to finish it within five or six months,” said Rahman, who heads the registration drive.

More registration boothes would be erected to complete the mammoth task, he added. Monsoon downpours are compounding the misery.

Cox’s Bazar has been pounded with 21.4 centimetres (8.4 inches) of rain in the past five days, raising fears of landslides in the unstable, muddy hills on which thousands of refugees were camped.

Hundreds of refugees were forced to abandon their shanties Wednesday in a rubber plantation after heavy rain flooded the area, according to an AFP correspondent at the scene.

“My tent has been flooded in knee-deep water. The children are suffering from the cold,” said Nur Mohammad, a 62-year-old Rohingya man who arrived in Bangladesh with 16 members of his family.

Rohingya, who are predominantly Muslim, are reviled by many in Buddhist-majority Myanmar.

Full report at:

http://nation.com.pk/international/21-Sep-2017/bangladesh-pm-says-myanmar-must-take-back-rohingya

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Gunmen ambush the vehicle of Kabul CID chief Gen. Ehsas

Sep 21 2017

Unknown gunmen ambushed the vehicle of a top security official in Kabul city late on Wednesday night.

The incident took place around 12:30 am local time in the city after the armed men ambushed the vehicle of Gen. Mohammad Salim Ehsas, the Criminal Investigation Department chief in the Ministry of Interior.

CID officials confirmed the incident and said Gen. Ehsas escaped the attack unhurt.

The officials further added his received some bullet shots but no one was hurt in the attack.

Gen. Ehsas also confirmed the failed on him and said the Kabul’s CID will continue to its efforts to eradicate the criminal gangs.

He warned the irresponsible armed individuals and criminal gangs that Kabul city will no longer remain a hub for their criminal activities.

Gen. Ehsas called on criminal individuals and gangs to refrain from their criminal activities and return to normal life.

This comes as incidents involving armed conflicts and other criminal incidents are on the rise in the key cities of the country including capital Kabul during the recent months.

The Criminal Investigation Department (CID) officials in the Ministry of Interior (MoI) earlier this week informed regarding the arrest of an individual famous as the killer of Arya city who was recently involved the murder of an individual in the city.

Full report at:

http://www.khaama.com/gunmen-ambush-the-vehicle-of-kabul-cid-chief-gen-ehsas-03490

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Hekmatyar warns of public uprising against groups pursuing violence

Sep 20 2017

The leader of Hezb-e-Islami Gulbuddin Hekmatyar has warned of public uprising against the groups pursuing violence as he insisted on elections as the only way to reach to power.

Hekmatyar made the remarks during a meeting with the tribal elders of five provinces in West of Afghanistan during his visit to Herat province on Tuesday.

He said we call upon all sides to end the war and if this does not happen and those pursing violence continue to their armed insurgency then the people will be forced to start uprising against them.

The leader of Hezb-e-Islami did not name any specific group pursuing violence in the country.

However, he has long been criticizing the Taliban group for waging a baseless insurgency in the country, calling the move by the Taliban insurgents against the humanity and principles of Islam.

In the meantime, Hekmatyar said the only way to reach to power is through elections.

Hekmatyar said he is hopeful that the use of foreign power will no long be necessary to reach to power.

Full report at:

http://www.khaama.com/hekmatayr-warns-of-public-uprising-against-groups-pursuing-violence-03488

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Kapisa Ulema chief was assassinated on Taliban instructions: NDS

Sep 20 2017

The Ulema Council chief of the northeastern Kapisa province of Afghanistan was assassinated on the instructions of the Taliban group, the Afghan Intelligence said Wednesday.

The National Directorate of Security (NDS) in a statement said the main suspect involved the killing of Mawlavi Gul Mohammad Hanifyar, the Ulema Council chief of Kapisa, has been arrested.

The statement further added that the detained suspect has been identified as Abdul Muqeem who is currently in the custody of the intelligence operatives.

Muqeem was arrested during an operation of the intelligence operatives conducted in the vicinity of Kohistanat district of Kapisa, the statement said.

NDS also added that the detained individual has confessed that he is an active member of the Taliban group and was involved in the assassination of Mawlavi Hanifyar.

He has said that the assassination was carried out by him on the instructions of Khan Aqa.

Full report at:

http://www.khaama.com/kapisa-ulema-chief-was-assassinated-on-taliban-instructions-nds-03487

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Africa

 

UN unveils new peace plan for Libya

 Sep 21, 2017

The United Nations (UN) has launched a new initiative to break a political stalemate and help bring about peace and stability in Libya.

Ghassan Salame, the newly-appointed Libyan envoy to the UN, proposed the “Action Plan for Libya” in a meeting on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in New York on Wednesday.

The measure reportedly aims to amend a current political agreement in the North African country and prepare the ground for a constitutional referendum and possibly general elections afterwards.

“Libyans want a process that they themselves own and lead,” Salame said, adding that the Libyan Political Agreement (LPA) “remains the only framework to end the Libyan crisis. The LPA is necessary but in its current state is not adequate. The first stage of the process is to amend the agreement.”

Salame said Libyans deserved “an end to uncertainty and unpredictability,” noting that the proposed plan was “in essence, a synthesis of their hopes and goals.”

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres expressed optimism that the plan could serve as an opportunity to unify Libya and end the long-running conflict there.

“I am... convinced that today there is an opportunity to end a protracted crisis that has caused immense suffering and contributed to the instability beyond Libya’s borders. We must all seize this moment,” Guterres told the meeting. “It is my deep belief that circumstances are now created in a way that allow for a solution to be possible.”

Guterres also outlined a series of priorities that the world body aimed to consider for Libya, including a unified command structure and improvement in the provision of goods and services to Libyans.

In an address to the General Assembly, Fayez al-Sarraj, who is Libya’s prime minister and the head of the UN-backed Government of National Accord (GNA), said parties at the meeting had agreed on the need for a government with authority over all of the oil-rich country.

He also said, “Everyone present reaffirmed that the backdrop for a solution must remain a political one.”

Sarraj said he had called on the UN envoy to “present us with a timeline and a clear message aimed at all those attempting to impede this process,” also stressing that, “They must understand there is no military solution.”

Libya has been grappling with violence and political uncertainty since the oil-rich country’s former rule, Muammar Gaddafi, was deposed in 2011 and later killed by militants. A US-led NATO military intervention exacerbated the unrest at the time.

The conflict-plagued country has had two rival administrations since mid-2014, when militias overran the capital and forced the parliament to flee to the Libya’s remote east.

Sarraj’s government, which emerged as a result of the LPA, has sought to unify powerful factions, but despite support from the United Nations, it has been struggling to assert its authority since it began work in Tripoli in March 2016.

A rival administration, which is based in Libya’s remote east and with which strongman Khalifa Haftar is allied, refuses to recognize Sarraj’s government.

http://www.presstv.ir/Detail/2017/09/21/535905/UN-peace-plan-Libya-Ghassan-Salame-Action-Plan-for-Libya

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Somali supermodel Iman thanks Turkish first lady

 21 September 2017

Somali supermodel and entrepreneur Iman has thanked Turkish First Lady Emine Erdogan for Ankara's humanitarian aid efforts towards Somalia.

Erdogan attended the Fashion for Development (F4D) event as part of the launch of the annual UN General Assembly.

The runway show and awards ceremony held in New York's Pierre Hotel on Wednesday saw the award-winning model thank Erdogan during her speech from the podium.

Turkey opened its largest embassy in Somalia's capital Mogadishu last year, to help the east African country fight drought.

More than six million people -- half of the country's population -- is facing severe drought and a cholera outbreak, which claimed at least 1,000 lives this year, according to the UN.

Full report at:

http://www.worldbulletin.net/africa/194194/somali-supermodel-iman-thanks-turkish-first-lady

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Nigerian court okays ban for Igbo secessionist group

21 September 2017

Nigerian federal high court has granted orders banning all activities or membership of the Igbo secessionist group Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), days after the country's military declared it a “violent terrorist organization”.

The court orders followed an application filed by the country's justice minister, Abubakar Malami, as the government moves to cripple IPOB which authorities say was carrying out a violent insurrection in the southeast region.

The army declared the group a violent terrorist organisation but some people, including the country's senate chief Bukola Saraki, have dismissed such a declaration as unconstitutional because due process wasn't followed. 

But in the court order granted late Wednesday, high court chief judge Abdul Kafarati granted all the orders of the government officially prescribing the group led by Nnamdi Kanu, the IPOB chief who is standing trial for treason.

“An order declaring the activities of the respondent – Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) – in any part of Nigeria especially in the South East and South-South regions of Nigeria amount to acts of terrorism and illegality, is hereby granted,” the judge ruled.

“An order proscribing the existence of the respondent (IPOB) in any part of Nigeria, especially in the South East and South-South regions of Nigeria either in groups or as individuals by whatever names they are called and publishing same in the official gazette and two national dailies, is (also) granted,” he added.

IPOB has denied being involved in violence, saying the recent burning of a police station and destruction of mosques in the regions were by people taking advantage of the recent unrest following the group's clash with the army.

Governors of the southeast states had also banned the group.

Full report at:

http://www.worldbulletin.net/africa/194195/nigerian-court-okays-ban-for-igbo-secessionist-group

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Enugu Mosque Fire: Catholic Bishop commiserates with Muslim community

September 20, 2017

The Catholic Diocese of Nsukka, Enugu State, has described as condemnable the recent alleged burning of the Central Mosque at Ogurute, Enugu Ezike.

In a statement by its press secretary, Ernest Makata, on Tuesday, the Diocese condemned the action, calling those responsible, agents of the devil.

The statement said that the Catholic Bishop of Nsukka Diocese, Godfrey Onah, had paid a visit to the Mosque where he condoled with the imam and reminded “all our Christians and non-Christians alike that Nsukka region has been known for her peaceful coexistence with her neighbours.

“We have a handful of the Muslim community in Enugu Ezike, Ibagwa Aka and some other communities and never has it been known that any rancour existed between them and any other group.

“Hence, this unprecedented mindless destruction of a place of worship is not just abhorrent but totally unacceptable and should be condemned by all.

“We also appeal to the Moslem leaders to calm their adherents and see what has happened as an act designed to instigate violence and disrupt the peace we have all enjoyed”, the statement read in part.

However, the spokesperson of the Enugu Police Command, Ebere Amaraizu, said contrary to claims, a preliminary investigation showed that power surge was responsible for the inferno.

According to Mr. Amaraizu, “the issue is that there was an incident and that incident involved inferno.”

Reactions have continued to trail the reported burning of the mosque at Ogrute last weekend.

On its part, the Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB through its spokesman, Emma Powerful, dissociated the group from the incident “and any other concocted news of an attack or vandalism, especially on Muslims and their places of worship.

“We wish to further state unequivocally that Muslims and other non-Biafrans living in South-east and South-south have nothing to fear from IPOB, as our members are committed to a non-violent, unarmed struggle for self-determination, which is guaranteed in charters of the United Nations, international laws and other extant laws on fundamental human rights.”

The lawyer representing the leader of the IPOB, Nnamdi Kanu, also confirmed the position of the group.

In a phone chat with PREMIUM TIMES Wednesday, the lawyer, Ifeanyi Ejiofor said the group is unconnected with the incident.

He urged Northerners and Southerners living in the South-east to remain calm as the group is using a non-violent approach towards its struggle for self-determination.

Below is the full text of the Statement by the Nsukka Catholic Diocese.

We all must have heard about the unfortunate, irresponsible and condemnable acts of, yet to be identified, agents of the devil who burnt down the central mosque at Ogurute, Enugu Ezike. It was on Saturday, the 16th of September that the Parish Priest of St. Mary’s Catholic Church, Enugu Ezike informed the Catholic Bishop of Nsukka that a Mosque was burnt down within his parish.The Bishop, who was away at the time, immediately sent the Dean of the Deanery, Rev. Fr. Fred Agu to make an immediate assessment of the situation and report back to the Secretariat.

Upon his return, the Bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Nsukka, Most Rev. Prof. Godfrey Onah, paid a visit to the Mosque and the Imam the next day, being Sunday, 17th September 2017.The Imam of the Mosque while meeting with the Bishop stated that the attack came to him as a shock because the Muslim community has been living in peace with their neighbours, who are also their brothers and sisters.

He expressed his happiness with the Catholic Church in the Diocese because of the concern they have shown since the unfortunate incidence. While suspicions pander from left to right, the Catholic Bishop of Nsukka wishes to remind all Our Christians and non-Christians alike that Nsukka region has been known for her peaceful coexistence with her neighbours.

We have a handful of the Muslim community in Enugu Ezike, IbagwaAka and some other communities and never has it been known that any rancour existed between them and any other group. Hence, this unprecedented mindless destruction of a place of worship is not just abhorrent but totally unacceptable and should be condemned by all.Our Christian faith teaches us that we should love our neighbours as ourselves (Mk. 12:31).

Therefore, do unto others as you would have them do to you (Lk.6:31).None of us would like to witness this kind of carnage on our Churches or Shrines. In this wise, we cannot allow such to happen to a Mosque either.The Bishop hence appeals for caution from all individuals and groups and think about the actual and ripple effects of any action we undertake. Nsukka zone is known for her peaceful and harmonious existence.

Therefore, no individual or group of persons should even think of destroying this legacy.The Catholic Bishop of Nsukka, Most Rev. Prof Godfrey Igwbuike Onah, while sympathizing with the Muslim community at Ogurute and the entire nation, assures them of the support of the Catholic Church in the diocese. He promises that the Church will do whatever is within her power to ensure that the Moslems and the Christians will continue to live in peace.

Moslems are encouraged to see the Church as partners in these trying times and socio-political upheavals in our clime.He also appeals to the Moslem leaders to calm their adherents and see what has happened as an act designed to instigate violence and disrupt the peace we have all enjoyed.

Full report at:

https://www.premiumtimesng.com/regional/ssouth-east/243691-enugu-mosque-fire-catholic-bishop-commiserates-muslim-community.html

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Kenya braces for Supreme Court ruling on polls

Sep 20, 2017

Police in Kenya’s capital of Nairobi have sealed off roads near the country’s Supreme Court as judges prepare to issue a detailed ruling on why they invalidated last month’s presidential poll results.

Kenya’s election board authorities had declared that incumbent President Uhuru Kenyatta won the August 8 election by a margin of 1.5 million votes, though that figure was dismissed by opposition leader Raila Odinga, who insisted that he had been robbed off the 2017 election, as well as the two previous polls.

Kenya’s Supreme Court then ordered a new election to be held within 60 days, and Kenyatta pledged to respect the ruling despite repeatedly and strongly criticizing it.

The development comes amid persisting voter concerns on whether the vote was annulled based on procedural issues or because there had been proof of systematic rigging.

The court has already declared in a brief ruling that a number of tally sheets were not signed or officially stamped.

The court is to read a detailed ruling on the disputed election on Wednesday.

The country’s chief justice had announced in a press briefing that judges were getting death threats and police authorities were not providing adequate protection, an allegation rejected by the chief of police.

On Tuesday, Kenyan police used tear gas to disperse protesters affiliated with the ruling party and angry at the court’s decision to invalidate Kenyatta’s re-election. In a couple of towns, ruling party supporters used stones to block main roads.

David Maraga, who serves as the chief justice and president of the Supreme Court, said the Tuesday demonstration was a sign of rising threats against the judiciary.

“Since the Supreme Court delivered judgment... these threats have become more aggressive,” Maraga said in a briefing with reporters outside the court, adding that individual judges and their staff have become subject to numerous threats on social media.

Full report at:

http://www.presstv.ir/Detail/2017/09/20/535814/Kenya-Supreme-Court-ruling-presidential-election

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