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Islamic World News ( 11 May 2023, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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Installations and Properties Attacked, Anti-Army Slogans Raised; Group in Political Garb Did What Enemy Couldn’t In 75 Years: Pakistan Army

New Age Islam News Bureau

11 May 2023

 

Director General of Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) addresses a press conference in Rawalpindi on April 25, 2023, in this still taken from a video. — YouTube/GeoNews

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Pakistan

Imran Khan Might Be Killed While in Custody: Former US EnvoyZalmay Khalilzad

Eight Killed In Clashes as Imran Lands in NAB Custody

Attack on Corps Commander’s House: Audio Leaks Suggest PTI Leadership Was On Board

Proclamation of emergency remains an option if disturbance continues

PM calls PTI ‘terrorists’ protests ‘unforgivable crimes’

Ruling coalition hits back at PTI after deadly unrest

Bilawal Bhutto urges PTI to shun violence, take political route

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Southeast Asia

Man Arrested For Allegedly Insulting Religionby Making Fun of 'Salam'Words of Greetings in Malaysia

High Court rules conversion of 3 children to Islam valid

Men in religious attire ignore doctor's advice not to smoke in restaurant

Malaysia climbs 7 spots on Global Terrorism Index 2022

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Europe

Police arrest man who tried to set mosque on fire in Germany

Restoration Work of Mosques Underway In Azerbaijani Territories Liberated From Occupation

Charity regulator appoints Interim Manager to the Islamic Centre of England

Meet Egham's Partially Blind 86-Year-Old Walking 13 Miles through the Pain to Raise Money for Town's First Mosque

Bosnia And Herzegovina FM Spoke About 5 Million Muslims in the “Open Balkan”, and Caused Numerous Reactions

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Arab World

Islamic Development Bank Prioritizing Poverty Reduction in Member Countries

UAE’s First Auction of Islamic Treasury Bonds In 2023 Oversubscribed 7.6 Times

Islamic Development Bank Group Releases Integration Report for Arab Countries

Islamic Corporation for the Insurance of Investment and Export Credit (ICIEC) Honored with Global Trade Review (GTR) Leaders in Trade Award for Islamic Finance in Trade

Economic integration is key for Arab nations and trade and investment can boost it, conference hears

Saudi program launches series of developmental projects in Yemen

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India

What Prime Minister’s Loud Silence on Attacks on Muslims by His Ministers Says

In a North Bengaluru Seat, a Lesson to Parties That They Can't Take the Muslim Vote For Granted

The Kerala Story: Why it is always controversial to make a film on an Islamic State in India?

The Kerala Story Is Not Against Muslims or Islam: Producer Vipul Shah

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South Asia

Conditions Not Yet Right for Girls to Return to School; Final Decision by Religious Clerics: Afghan Minister

Muttaqi Urges World to Engage with Islamic Emirate

Acting Foreign Minister Muttaqi Meets Norwegian Charge d’affaires in Kabul

Qatar Provides Life-Saving Medicines to Afghanistan

Contract Signed for the Extraction of Lead, Zinc Mines in Afghanistan’s Bamyan

GAAC to Uplift Afghanistan’s Airports to the Modern Era

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Mideast

Iran Urging Hamas to Join Forces with Islamic Jihad to Attack Israel

Israel Occupation Understands Only Language of Force, Resistance - Dissolved Jordanian Muslim Brotherhood

Hamas: The Blood of Martyrs Will Not Go To Waste & We Insist On Jihad & Resistance

All eyes on Hamas as IDF awaits reprisal for assassination of Islamic Jihad leaders

To Provoke Palestinians, Israeli Settlers Break Into Jerusalem's Aqsa Mosque

IDF kills 3 Islamic Jihad commanders in Gaza; over 460 rockets fired at Israel

Trustees Removed From 'Iran-Run' Islamic Centre of England

Palestinian Islamic Jihad seeks Egyptian-mediated ceasefire

Islamic Jihad conflagration is tip of iceberg for Israel's growing Iran concern

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Africa

Niger Intercepts Nearly 1,400 Boko Haram Followers - Army

Tunisia: Authorities open investigation into shooting attack at synagogue

Islamic Trade Body Signs Deals with African Countries

Darfur residents fear escalating conflicts between the army and the RSF

Burkina Faso: kidnapped prefect found dead in forest

Senegal opposition calls for protests over alleged threat to bar Sonko from vote

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North America

Transgender Militia Leader's Appeal Denied In Minnesota Mosque Bombing Case

Appeals court upholds conviction of main defendant in 2017 Bloomington mosque bombing

Prosecutors reveal link between terror defendant in Virginia and Islamic State ‘empress’ from Kansas

How one Muslim charity is fighting back against Canada’s targeted audits

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau

URL:  https://newageislam.com/islamic-world-news/pakistan-army-attacked-slogans-political/d/129756

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Installations and Properties Attacked, Anti-Army Slogans Raised; Group in Political Garb Did What Enemy Couldn’t In 75 Years: Army

 

Director General of Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) addresses a press conference in Rawalpindi on April 25, 2023, in this still taken from a video. — YouTube/GeoNews

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May 11, 2023

ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan Army Wednesday said May 9 would be remembered as a dark chapter in the country’s history when its installations and properties were attacked under a well-planned conspiracy.

The statement came as two days of violence following the arrest of PTI Chairman Imran Khan led to the death of at least seven people while scores were left injured in Peshawar, Quetta, Lahore. Dozens of incidents of arson saw multiple state properties severely damaged across the country, prominent among them the Radio Pakistan building and offices of the Associated Press of Pakistan in Peshawar.

Earlier, the army stated that May 9 would be remembered as a black chapter in the country’s history when its installations and properties were attacked and anti-army slogans were raised under a well-planned conspiracy, following the arrest of PTI chairman who, according to NAB, was taken into custody from the Islamabad High Court in accordance with the law.

The Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR), in a statement, said the army troops deputed on duty demonstrated patience, tolerance and restraint to the violent acts of a group of miscreants. “In the larger national interests, the troops, without caring for their repute, demonstrated utmost patience and tolerance,” it said.

The media wing of the Pakistan Army pointed out that “under nefarious planning, a heinous attempt was made to make the army give an immediate reaction, which could be used for nefarious political purposes, but mature response given by the army foiled the conspiracy.”

“We are well aware that behind it were orders, directives and complete pre-planning by some sinister party leadership,” the ISPR statement said.

The facilitators, planners and political activists involved in the protests had been identified, asserting that strict action would be taken against them “as per the law and all these evil elements will now be responsible for the consequences,” it said. “Any further attack on the army, including all law enforcement agencies, military and state installations and properties will be severely retaliated, the responsibility of which will be on this very group that wants to push Pakistan into a civil war and has expressed it multiple times.

“No one can be allowed to incite people and take the law into their hands,” the army’s media wing added.

The ISPR said, on the one hand, “these miscreants evoke the nation’s emotions for achieving their limited and selfish objectives and on the other hand, they deceive people, continuing to highlight the army’s importance. This is an example of hypocrisy.”

It said that “this group wearing a political cloak” has done what enemies could not do in 75 years, all “in the lust for power”.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, in his address to the nation on Wednesday night, warned miscreants to stop causing violence in the country, otherwise, they would be dealt with an iron hand. Observing that damaging property of the state was an act of terrorism and anti-state action, the PM maintained that action against those involved in such acts would be taken as per the Constitution and law. He said the security and integrity of Pakistan were dearer to them than their lives, saying that miscreants would not be allowed to succeed in their nefarious designs. Shehbaz reiterated that Imran Khan was arrested on corruption charges and there was all evidence against him in the Al-Qadir Trust case. “The approval regarding 190 million pounds issue was sought while waving a sealed envelope at the federal cabinet’s meeting,” Shehbaz said, questioning how it could be the cabinet’s decision when no summary was seen at the meeting. He pointed out that Imran Khan was the first beneficiary of the amendment to the accountability law by the present regime. He said 90-day remand was used to be given as per the previous accountability law.

The prime minister said they could not express pleasure over the arrest of any leader, saying that it was the responsibility of a leader that he should stop his workers from crossing the law’s red line. “But the violent groups, by attacking sensitive installations and raising anti-army slogans, did what our enemy could not accomplish in 75 years,” he said. He also paid tributes to the masses for rejecting the anti-state agenda and also appreciated the role of the Pakistan Army, police and law-enforcement agencies. Also, military troops were called in to assist the civil administration in maintaining law and order in the federal capital Islamabad, Punjab and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa provinces.

Earlier, the federal cabinet meeting, chaired by PM Shehbaz Sharif, approved the deployment of Pakistan Army under Article 245 of the Constitution in Islamabad, Punjab and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa provinces in view of the prevailing law and order situation in the country. The federal cabinet allowed the requisition of Pakistan Army troops in aid of civil power on the recommendation of the interior ministry under Article 245 of the Constitution.

Following approval by the federal cabinet, the Ministry of Interior issued orders, authorising the deployment of Pakistan troops and assets for the maintenance of law and order situation in the Islamabad Capital Territory (ICT). The orders say that decision to requisition the Pakistan Army was taken in pursuance to the request made by the office of the Chief Commissioner, Islamabad.

Meanwhile, Minister for Information and Broadcasting Marriyum Aurangzeb strongly condemned the attacks on the building and offices of Radio Pakistan and Associated Press of Pakistan in Peshawar by the armed PTI gangs. In a statement, she said the attack on the offices of Radio Pakistan and APP by the PTI armed gangs was condemnable and deplorable.

Meanwhile, at least seven people died and scores were left injured in incidents of violence from Peshawar, Quetta, and Lahore besides incidents of arson that saw multiple state properties severely damaged across the country, including the Radio Pakistan building and offices of the Associated Press of Pakistan in Peshawar.

In Peshawar, at least four people lost their lives while more than a hundred suffered bullet injuries after the PTI protest turned violent. The deceased were identified as Ibrar, 27, Dir Colony, Sikander, 20, Shaheen Muslim Town, and Bilal of Landikotal. The fourth was yet to be identified. Similarly in Quetta, one protester lost his life and two were killed in Punjab clashes.

The protesters set on fire precious national assets, including the historic Radio Pakistan Peshawar building and caused serious damage to public and private properties. Since the Radio Pakistan building also houses the offices of the state’s news agency, Associated Press of Pakistan, the protesters attempted to reach them.

The PTI protest continued for the second consecutive day and the party activists gathered on the GT Road near Balahisar Fort where they blocked the road for traffic. The military authorities and Peshawar police also parked heavy containers on the Khyber Road and blocked it for all types of traffic. The road passes through the Peshawar Cantonment where sensitive installations are located, including the official residence of the corps commander. Senior PTI leaders and office-bearers were conspicuous by their absence in the protest rally. Most of the protesters were quite young. They stopped an ambulance from Edhi Foundation, disembarked a patient and started hitting it with sticks and kicks. Finally, the ambulance was overturned and then set on fire.

There were several armed men, and some of them were seen carrying AK-47 assault rifles and pistols. The protesters opened fire at the police and in the subsequence exchange of gunfire, four people were killed and more than 100 injured. The wounded people were taken to nearby Lady Reading Hospital. The LRH spokesman, Mohammad Asim, said they had received four bodies and 95 injured by firearms.

Senior security officials told The News they had obtained enough material from cameras installed in different locations of the city and would initiate legal proceedings against those involved in damaging public and private properties. “At least 42 people have been arrested from Peshawar city for violence, ransacking and torching private and public properties,” the spokesman for Peshawar Police said.

He said SP City Abdul Salam Khalid, SP Saddar Malik Habib, SP Rural Zafar Ahmad, SP Security Atiq Shah, DSP Shakil, four SHOs Ashfaq, Tehsinullah, Naeem Haider and Ijaz Nabi were among 36 policemen wounded during pelting of stones and other violent attacks by the protesters. Some of them suffered bullet injuries.

In Swat, the police and district administration arrested 44 PTI workers and activists, including former ministers Dr Amjad Ali and Shafiullah, during the ongoing crackdown against the local leadership of the party. Former lawmakers, including Malik Liaqat, Azam Khan, tehsil chairman Saeed Khan, Khurshid Khan, adviser of former minister Murad Saeed and other office-bearers were also held in the swoop.

In Balochistan, the PTI activists protested in Pishin, Qila Abdullah, Chaman, Qila Saifullah, Muslim Bagh, DukiHarnai, Ziarat, Sanjawi and other parts of the province, demanding the release of Imran Khan.

Enraged PTI workers took to the streets in different areas of Balochistan including Quetta. One young worker of the PTI was killed and four others sustained injuries in a clash between police and protesters on Airport Road Quetta. The body of the deceased was shifted to Sandeman Provincial Hospital where he was identified as Umer Aziz (27), a resident of Loralai.

Main highways linking Balochistan with other parts of the country were also blocked by the workers. The Pak Afghan Highway near Kojak Top area of Chaman city bordering Afghanistan was blocked by the PTI workers. Mir Ziaullah Langove, Minister for Home Tribal Affairs and PDMA, said the law-enforcement agencies were alert to cope with any emergent situation in the province.

PTI senior leader and former federal minister Asad Umar were rounded up on Wednesday. He was arrested from the premises of the Islamabad High Court (IHC). According to the report, nearly 1,000 people including various main party leaders including Omer Sarfraz Cheema and Fawad Chaudhry were arrested. The PTI leader was arrested under 16 MPO after he emerged from the Supreme Court where he remained holed for almost the whole of Wednesday to evade arrest.

In Islamabad, a group of PTI activists, equipped with lethal firearms, attacked the Police Line Headquarters (PLH) Islamabad, but the police force deployed in and around the premises foiled their attempt, a police spokesman confirmed. He said during the spar between the police and the attackers, the miscreants opened fire at the police. A cop identified as Hakim Khan sustained a bullet injury and was shifted to PIMS hospital. However, the wounded cop was declared out of danger by a team of surgeons. The PTI miscreants set on fire the office of the SSP Islamabad Police, Industrial Area. According to a spokesperson for the Islamabad police, the miscreants forcefully entered the SP office and set on fire the entire record of the police station.

The violent protesters had also blocked the traffic on Srinagar Highway from G-11 to G-14 and blocked traffic on Islamabad Expressway on Sohan as well. The protesters attacked the children and women in private vehicles and looted goods from the trucks. They blocked different roads including Murree Road, Liaquat Bagh, Committee Chowk, Shamsabad, Faizabad, Rawat T-Chowk, Waris Khan, Kutchehry Chowk, and other areas of Rawalpindi while violent skirmishes between the police and the protesters continued till late Tuesday night. They set fire to tyres and garbage lying on the side of the roads. Commissioner Rawalpindi Division Liaquat Ali Chatha said that strict implementation of Section 144 would be ensured by the district administration.

The Islamabad police have arrested over 130 PTI activists under the Anti-Terrorism Act (ATA) and 16 under Maintenance of Police Order (MPO), while, over 700 were booked under sedition, anti-terrorist act and instigating people to attack military installations. In Hafizabad, police registered a case against more than 50 PTI activists under ATA. Police said that the arrested workers had been detained in jail for one month under 3 MPO. The detention orders were issued on the summary, which was presented to the government.

“Police teams arrested 945 lawbreakers and miscreants from across Punjab,” officials said in a statement to the media, adding 130 officers and officials were injured in the violence since Tuesday including DIG Operations Ali Nasir Rizvi. Rizvi had received a serious injury on his eye socket and head. The victims are undergoing treatment at Lahore Services Hospital. DIG Elite police Sadiq Ali Dogar has been handed over an additional charge of DIG Operations Lahore. At least six FIRs in Lahore including of attack and vandalising a sensitive installation in Cantonment were also registered. PTI leaders Yasmin Rashid, Ejaz Chaudhry, Mehmood Rasheed and others have been nominated in these FIRs.

In Lahore, on Wednesday, the PTI workers attacked Shadman police station and torched over half a dozen police vehicles. Askari Tower was also set on fire. Reportedly, a body with burn injuries was recovered from the plaza. The PTI workers kept on clashing with police at four major points Zaman Park, Liberty Chowk, Jail Road PTI main office and The Mall Road. They set fire to tyres and used other things to block roads. The protestors also pelted the police with stones. The cops used tear gas shelling and batons to disperse them. The total number of arrests in different districts has risen to 1,380, according to sources. A spokesperson for Punjab Police said with the help of CCTV recordings and video footage, a careful review is being taken to identify and arrest miscreants. At least 190 people were arrested by the Rawalpindi police as a result of a crackdown on the PTI leaders, workers and supporters.

Separately, PTI Vice Chairman Shah Mehmood Qureshi said on Wednesday that the party’s biggest fear was that Imran Khan was in custody and his life was under threat. Qureshi said the Punjab government sent a requisition for the deployment of the army, which was surprising. “When the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court asked for security for the May 14 elections, it was said that the army could not be deployed due to security challenges, but surprisingly today, the deployment of the entire army has been announced for Punjab. It is a huge contradiction and the Chief Justice should take notice of it,” Qureshi said. He said police raided his residence in Ghousia Complex, Multan and vandalised the doors of Bab al-Quraish Secretariat office and arrested his nine workers and pilgrims from Sindh which is a shameful act. Among those arrested are Amjad Tanyu, Rafiq Tanyu, Ameer Solangi, Hub Ali Solangi, Waseem Tanyu, Noor Hasan Mehr, Hakim Tanyu, Imran Pirzada, NaumanNoomi, he said. Meanwhile, Kotwali police registered a case under different sections of CrPC including the Anti-Terrorism Act and 16MPO for creating law and order and violating section 144 in Multan. The FIR 478/23 nominated 36 PTI workers.

The Gujranwala district police also registered cases against 113 nominated and 900 unknown PTI activists for firing, murder, inflammatory speeches and damage to government properties. In Sialkot, five policemen were injured due to stone-pelting by protesters late on Tuesday night. In Kasur, charged agitators staged protest demonstrations, blocked roads by burning tyres, used harsh and abusive language against state institutions, disturbed public tranquillity and spread terror. In Kasur, police lodged criminal cases against more than 600 including 150 nominated workers of PTI. In Toba Tek Singh, the police arrested PTI’s Kissan Wing President Mehr Mumtaz Daultana, and Mehr UmerullahSaleempuri from Pirmahal.

Source: thenews.com.pk

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https://www.thenews.com.pk/print/1069106-case-against-top-leadership-1-500-pti-activists-registered-for-attacking-corps-commander-s-house-army-describes-may-9-incidents-a-black-chapter

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Those Involved In Religious Terrorism Are Not Ulama but People Who Seek 'Shortcut to Heaven': Deputy PM

 

Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi delivers his speech after chairing the high-level committee on counter-terrorism meeting in Putrajaya. -NSTP/MOHD FADLI HAMZAH

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By Adib Povera

May 11, 2023

PUTRAJAYA: Those arrested for their suspected involvement in terror activities in the name of religion are not religious scholars but people without strong religious background.

Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said this was among the findings by a high-level committee on counter-terrorism.

"Those who engage in terror activities in the name of religion are not 'ulama' (religious scholars), but people who do not have strong religious background.

"They get involved in such activities because they think they can find 'jalansingkatkesyurga' (a shortcut to heaven).

"Do not abuse the good name of our sacred religion to justify your involvement in such terror activities," he told reporters after chairing the high-level committee meeting here today

Zahid said the committee has instructed the Malaysian Islamic Development Department (Jakim) and several other agencies to develop a module to counter religious extremism and terrorism.

Such measures formulated by Jakim, he said, would be incorporated in the education curriculum at the pre-school, primary, secondary and tertiary level.

"We have also implemented several measures to combat irresponsible quarters and extremists who abuse the good name of religion to gain political mileage.

"For example, there are quarters who put forth claims and harp upon Islam to justify their different opinion in politics.

"The government is serious about tackling this issue to avoid people from being misled by these irresponsible groups," he said.

On a related matter, Zahid said Malaysia has improved its ranking by seven places in the Global Terrorism Index (GTI).

He said the country ranks 75th in the 2022 GTI compared to the 68th place the previous year.

An increase in rankings signify a country which has improved its position on the GTI.

Zahid added that the country only reported two arrests linked to terrorism-related activities last year (2022).

"Although Malaysia has improved its position in the GTI, this does not mean we should be complacent.

"We must continue to remain vigilant and carry out the necessary preventive measures to uphold the safety of the nation," he said.

Source: nst.com.my

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https://www.nst.com.my/news/crime-courts/2023/05/908206/those-involved-religious-terrorism-are-not-ulama-people-who-seek

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 Rise of Racism: Muslim and Immigrant Students Targeted By Racists in Berlin

 

Reuters Archive

In the third quarter of 2022, Germany reported 120 anti-Muslim crimes. / Photo: Reuters Archive

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11-05-23

In a school in Berlin, a class with students from mostly Muslim and immigrant backgrounds has become the target of a racist attack.

German police announced that students were subjected to racist insults by a group of young people celebrating birthdays in the Frauensee holiday resort in Brandenburg State, where the students were camping.

28 people who were involved in the attack have been identified, and an investigation has been launched against them, police said.

Students interrupted their camp due to the racist danger and returned to their homes earlier than planned.

It is stated that the police were called because the attackers tried to enter the camp during the night and threatened students by banging on doors and windows. As a result, the students returned to their homes under police supervision.

Berlin Education Senator Katharina Günther-Wunsch condemned the racist attack in a statement. "I will not and should not tolerate such attacks. The first thing to do now is to help students in the best way possible," she said.

Germany has been witnessing the rise of racism in recent years, fuelled by the propaganda of far-right groups and parties trying to spread fear over immigrants.

A worrying trend

Earlier this year, a Muslim family was attacked by seven men in the East German town of Merseburg, public broadcaster MDR reported.

The suspects, aged between 19 and 33 years, first racially insulted the Muslim family and then physically attacked them while pushing a stroller on the street.

According to police, passers-by got involved and used irritants against the attackers, injuring four. The family did not require any medical treatment following the assault.

Police launched a criminal investigation as the seven attackers are known to them by name.

Discrimination against Muslims is widespread in Germany, according to research published last October by the Expert Council on Integration and Migration (SVR).

Nearly 48 percent of respondents said they believe "Islam is not compatible with German society," while 29 percent suggested restricting the practice of Islam in the country.

Bodily injury, insult, incitement to hatred, vandalism or the use of prohibited symbols are the other forms of crimes against Muslims.

In the third quarter of 2022, Germany reported 120 anti-Muslim crimes, leaving ten people injured and several mosques damaged. However, "no suspect" has been arrested over Islamophobic crimes, officials say.

Police are doing too little to prevent racism and anti-Semitism, according to a study by Mediendienst Integration.

The Federal Anti-Discrimination Agency said it received more than 5,600 consultation requests in 2021, with 37 percent about racial discrimination and 32 percent about discrimination based on disabilities, Human Rights Watch reported.

A report by the German Centre for Integration and Migration Research (DeZIM- Institute) examined numerous aspects of Germany's racism problem.

The report demonstrates that racial awareness in German society differs among categories. For example, while approximately 60 percent of the population agree that racism against Jews and people of colour exists in Germany, only 44.5 percent believe anti-Muslim racism exists.

It also suggests that the German public does not believe racism is a widespread social problem. 33 percent of respondents think those affected by racism are oversensitive, while 52 percent believe they are fearful.

More than half of the respondents consider criticising racism is a form of oppression of their freedom of expression, the report says.

The popularity of Germany’s far-right party Alternative for Germany (AfD) has risen after openly protesting against Islam and refugees in the country.

The far-right groups committed at least 1,138 acts of violence in the country last year.

According to official figures, at least 478 people were injured in these attacks.

Source: trtworld.com

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https://www.trtworld.com/europe/muslim-and-immigrant-students-targeted-by-racists-in-berlin-13186907

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Saudi Arabia to Develop Madinah into a 'Modern Islamic and Cultural Destination'

 

Saudi Arabia to develop Madinah into a ‘modern Islamic and cultural destination’ [@RuaAlmadinah/Twitter]

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May 10, 2023

Saudi Arabia is planning to transform Islam's second holiest city of Madinah into a "modern Islamic and cultural destination" according to a report yesterday by Arab News.

The project, which is part of the Kingdom's Vision2030 strategy, will be overseen by Rua Al Madinah Holding Co., a real estate firm owned by the Saudi Arabia's sovereign wealth fund, the Public Investment Fund (PIF), in partnership with French hospitality multinational, Accor Group.

The Rua Al Madinah project is already currently underway, located eastwards of the Prophet's Mosque in the city and will include a 140-room Fairmont Hotel, 120 Fairmont branded residences, 466-room Swissotel and 328-room Novotel.

"We are delighted to partner with a leading hospitality group that's known in the world over for its bespoke and inimitable style," said Ahmed Al-Juhani, Rua Al Madinah CEO. "The three new brands will enhance the appeal of the project's master plan and help us offer a broad selection of hospitality options to the city's visitors, providing something for everyone that meets their need and budget and enrich their experience."

Duncan O'Rourke, the CEO of the Middle East, Africa, Turkiye and Asia-Pacific region at Accor, meanwhile, said: "We are proud to sign the first Swissotel property and strengthen our Novotel offering in Madinah. Through these signings, our primary goal is to support the diverse offering at the master development of Rua Al Madinah."

Mohammed Al-Khalili, chairman of Rua Al Madinah Holding, told Arab News: "The value of the total project is almost SR140 billion ($37 billion). When completed, the project will add 93,000 direct and indirect jobs."

According to the Rua Al Madinah Holding website, the project aims to strengthen "the position of Al Madina Al Munawwarah as a prestigious religious destination with a modern architectural system derived from its ancient history," adding that the company hopes "to raise the readiness of the central area of the Prophet's Mosque by developing a distinct urban environment with a modern infrastructure to host more visitors in line with the goals of the vision."

In accordance with Vision2030, the project aims to raise the Madinah's hospitality capacity to be able to accommodate 30 million visitors by the year 2030.

Source: middleeastmonitor.com

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https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/20230510-saudi-arabia-to-develop-madinah-into-a-modern-islamic-and-cultural-destination/

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Communal Harmony: Muslims Rebuild Ram Temple Ravaged In Cyclone in Gujarat’s Amreli Village

 

Communal Harmony: Muslims Rebuild Ram Temple Ravaged In Cyclone in Gujarat's Amreli Village

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May 11, 2023

AMRELI: In a heart-warming example of communal harmony, a Muslim family helped rebuild a temple of Lord Rama that was damaged when cyclone Tauktae left a trail of destruction in the coastal Amreli district in May 2021.

The new avatar of the small temple, which was built on land donated by a Muslim in Zar village several years ago, was unveiled in the presence of acclaimed religious leaders, including Ram KathakarMorari Bapu, on Wednesday.

The family of Daudbhai Lalilya decided to take forward the legacy of the village's interfaith amity by taking the responsibility of not just rebuilding the temple but also expanding its courtyard so that more people can visit to pray. As the family spent lakhs of rupees on the renovation, Laliya's nephews gave additional land for a bigger premises.

After the pranpatishtha (ritualistic installation) of Lord Ram's idol at the hands of Sattadhar temple head priest VijaydasBapu of Sattadhar, the Laliya family organized a feast for the entire village which has a population of around 1,200 including some 100 Muslims.

Original temple was built on land given by Muslim family

A 'santsabha' addressed by nearly 10 religious leaders was also organized at the Laliya family's residence. "We have never treated each other as Hindus or Muslims. Communal brotherhood has been a tradition in our village. We only pray that the atmosphere of religious discord ends for good," said Daudbhai, a rich farmer whose Laliya family has been living in Zar for generations.

Daudbhai said it was his dream that MorariBapu remains present for the idol installation ceremony.

Morari Bapu said, "Communal unity has been intrinsic to our country's culture. In between, this ethos was stained but people like Daudbhai are cleansing these stains with their virtuous deeds."

Mumtaz Patel, daughter of former Congress strongman Ahmed Patel, who was also present at the event, said, "Communal harmony is still intact in villages of India. In today's communally charged situation in the country, Daudbhai and his family have become a beacon of hope for a better future."

Source: timesofindia.indiatimes.com

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https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/rajkot/muslims-rebuild-ram-temple-ravaged-in-cyclone-tauktae-in-gujarats-amreli-village/articleshow/100145233.cms

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 Pakistan

 Imran Khan Might Be Killed While in Custody: Former US EnvoyZalmay Khalilzad

By Fidel Rahmati

May 11, 2023

Former US Ambassador to Afghanistan Zalmay Khalilzad tweeted that there is growing fear that Imran Khan might be killed while in custody.

He also expressed concern about the growing fear that Imran Khan might be killed in custody. He added that the former prime minister had also expressed this concern to the judge before the court on Wednesday.

“There is growing fear that Imran Khan might be killed or assassinated while in custody. Imran Khan expressed this concern to the judge in charge in the court today,” Zalmay Khalilzad said on Twitter.

He continued, saying, “As there is no flight risk, Imran Khan should be released from detention, and appropriate measures must be taken to guarantee his security.”

He also warned that Murdering Imran Khan would worsen the country’s situation.

“There are credible reports of differences among senior officers on how Imran Khan has been treated and the violations of the constitution and the rule of law to serve the ambitions of a few. Murdering Imran Khan will make things a lot worse in the country, Khalilzad added.

By doing so, Pakistan will face international condemnation, isolation and even sanctions. On the other hand, he called upon the government to embrace national reconciliation, the rule of law and democracy by agreeing on an election date.

“In addition, Pakistan will face international condemnation, isolation, and even sanctions. The establishment should embrace national reconciliation, the rule of law, and democracy by agreeing on a date for elections, he said.

“I hope the leaders of the establishment in Pakistan will find the courage and wisdom to recognize that the current course leads directly over the precipice.”

The former US representative also said that the situation of affairs in Pakistan is rapidly deteriorating, impacting people’s lives and eroding the cohesion of government institutions.

Amid widespread protests and violent altercations between Imran Khan’s supporters and riot police, a Pakistani special anti-corruption court detained the former prime minister for eight days while indicting him on separate corruption allegations.

Khan’s shocking arrest on Tuesday worsened the country’s political unrest and spurred bloody rallies throughout Pakistan. According to Khan’s party, violent skirmishes between PTI supporters and security officials resulted in at least four deaths and over a dozen injuries nationwide.

Source: khaama.com

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Eight killed in clashes as Imran lands in NAB custody

Malik Asad | Manzoor Ali

May 11, 2023

ISLAMABAD / PESHAWAR: At least eight people were killed, as many as 290 were injured, and over 1,900 enraged protesters were rounded up in running battles with law enforcers across the country on Wednesday, as an accountability court in Islamabad handed over the custody of their leader Imran Khan to NAB for eight days in connection with the Al Qadir Trust case.

The violent protests provoked by the PTI chairman’s arrest entered the second day on Wednesday, as police and PTI supporters engaged in bloody clashes throughout the day that resulted in damage to several government installations, including police stations.

Late in night, PTI Senior Vice President Fawad Chaudhry was arrested hours after central Secretary General Asad Umar taken into custody.

In a bid to control the worsening situation, the government called in the military in Punjab, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, and Islamabad. The deployment came a day after protesters stormed the residence of the corps commander in Lahore and tore down a gate of GHQ in Rawalpindi.

The attacks on army property prompted a harsh statement from its media wing, with its spokesperson calling out the ‘hypocrisy’ of a political group that used the public for its “limited and selfish” interests.

Nevertheless, a police office in Islamabad, a police station in Lahore, Radio Pakistan’s building in Peshawar, and Scouts Fort in Chakkdara, Lower Dir, were set on fire by the mob.

8-day remand

As his supporters rallied for him outside Police Lines in Islamabad, an accountability court was temporarily moved to the police headquarters which handed over the custody of Mr Khan to the NAB officials for interrogation.

The media persons were not allowed to witness the proceedings of the case. According to officials, NAB sought 14-day remand of the former premier, but the court agreed to grant eight-day physical remand.

NAB will interrogate Mr Khan in the sub-jail as it took his custody from the accountability court. According to NAB Deputy Prosecutor General Sardar Muzaffar Abbasi, the NAB chairman can designate the said guest house as sub-jail to detain Mr Khan. He said that under the National Accountability Ordinance (NAO), the chairman can designate any place to detain suspects.

Mr Khan was arrested on the high court’s premises and taken to the NAB Rawalpindi office in G-6 on Tuesday.

The IHC chief justice on the petition of Mr Khan held that the arrest was not per se illegal but he questioned the manner in which the former prime minister was taken into custody. The court has also commenced contempt proceeding against the secretary of interior and the IG Islamabad.

In the case, NAB alleged that Khan’s PTI government struck a deal with Malik Riaz that caused a loss of more than $239m to the national exchequer, in a quid pro quid arrangement with the real estate mogul.

No let-up in protests

In Islamabad and Rawalpindi, protests continued throughout the day. A number of protesters gathered at various locations in the federal capital and Rawalpindi to protest the arrest of their party chief.

In Islamabad, more than 17 law enforcers were injured in clashes with protesters whereas the mob set on fire the office of the SP Industrial Area and damaged Ramna police station. The protesters also uprooted a railways track in Tarnol as well.

The Islamabad police registered a number of cases against PTI supporters and detained more than 200 party supporters in the federal capital. In Rawalpindi, the police booked more than 1,500 PTI supporters and detained over 190 workers – 52 were sent to Adiala Jail after they were produced in an anti-terrorism court.

In Lahore, the mob besieged Shadman police station and damaged furniture and official vehicles. The situation in Punjab, particularly Lahore, remained tense in light of violent clashes between police and PTI workers.

A group of PTI supporters attempted to storm the Governor House and CM Secretariat, but they were pushed back by the police. At least 25 government vehicles were burnt while 14 government buildings were stormed by them, according to the police.

Meanwhile, the police claimed to have arrested over 1380 protesters across the province in a crackdown on the former ruling party. The reports claimed that nearly 150 police personnel, including Lahore DIG Operation Nasir Rizvi, three SPs, and dozens of SHOs, were injured in the clashes that erupted with the PTI workers/activists.

In Gujranwala, unknown persons started firing in a protest as a result of which Rashid, son of Maqsood, was killed and several people were injured late on Monday night.

In Lahore, a murder case was registered against the top leadership of the PTI, including Imran Khan, and more than 1200 people at the Gulberg police station. The case was registered in connection with arson at Askari Tower wherein a person reportedly died in the fire.

In Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, violent scenes were abundant, with protesters burning down the building that housed offices of Radio Pakistan and the Associated Press of Pakistan near the KP Assembly.

Peshawar witnessed pitched battles between the police and protesters who were trying to force their way to Khyber Road where key installations were located. The violence in the province left at least seven dead and more than 122 injured.

The police also arrested 274 persons across the province in connection with the violent protests.

Three people were killed and 81 others were injured in clashes in the provincial capital while two others were killed in Kohat. Another protester died and 11 more were injured in Chakkdara where protesters stormed an FC fort late on Tuesday.

Sindh remained relatively peaceful, as Karachi police scuttled a PTI protest. At least 20 people were arrested in the provincial capital in addition to several arrests in MirpurKhas. In Balochistan, police arrested over 60 local leaders and party workers in Quetta and Chaman a day after violent demonstrations in the provincial capital.

The PTI provincial leadership and important leaders went into hiding to avoid arrests. Police teams conducted raids on the residence of Qasim Suri, but he was not present at home. However, police arrested his brother Bilal Suri.

Police also raided the house of ex-PTI governor Zahoor Agha and arrested his two brothers as he was not found at his residence. No protests were witnessed in the provincial capital against the arrest of PTI Chairman Imran Khan However, people staged a demonstration in Chaman and Qila Saifullah.

Saleem Shahid in Quetta, Munawer Azeem in Islamabad, Mohammad Asghar in Rawalpindi, Imran Ayub in Karachi, and Asif Chaudhry in Lahore also contributed to this report

Source: dawn.com

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Attack on Corps Commander’s House: Audio leaks suggest PTI leadership was on board

Mansoor Malik

May 11, 2023

LAHORE: Several audio leeks apparently involving Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf leaders on Wednesday seem to suggest the party leadership was instigating its workers to attack the Lahore’s Corps Commander’s House in Cantonment.

While some leaders were urging party workers to gather at the Corps Commander House, party ticket-holder Ibad Farooq claimed PTI central Punjab President Dr Yasmin Rashid had clearly instructed them to set it to fire.

Dr Yasmin Rashid, presently on the run to avoid arrest, told Dawn that it was a “doctored audio clip” as she had never instructed anyone to torch the house. “I have just gone there to stage a sit-in to protest her leader’s arrest.

Dr Rashid said some workers had even tried to persuade her to storm the airport and PML-N supremo Nawaz Sharif’s residence in JatiUmra “but I was asking them to return to the Liberty Roundabout for a sit-in there.”

The PTI leader alleged that her party’s opponents in power had also fielded their workers who sabotaged and ransacked the army house in Lahore. “This was a complete conspiracy.”

She said party chief Imran Khan had given clear instructions to all leaders and workers to remain peaceful and added that she kept asking workers through megaphone to remain calm. She also condemned all those who stole various household articles from the army house.

According to her, it was surprising that no policeman or soldier was guarding the Corps Commander’s House when charged workers reached there.

Dr Rashid recalled that she was very much concerned when PTI workers had responded violently to the police operation to arrest Imran Khan from Zaman Park on March 15. In an audio clip leaked then, she was talking to President Dr Arif Alvi, urging him to tell Mr Khan to give in and fight another day“. She went on to say that petrol bombs had been thrown on police and a water canon had been set ablaze. “If Khan sahab does not give in, the situation warrants that some people or some policemen may die.”

Dr Rashid said some 100 policemen had raided her residence on Tuesday night, damaged a computer, a phone set and some household articles. She said the police had entered her home after breaking the windows, took her husband and brother Sajid Nabi Malik. “Later, the police released my husband but the whereabouts of Sajid Nabi Malik were still unknown,” she added.

In a leaked audio clip with party leader IjazMinhas, Dr Rashid can be heard asking whether she along with workers should move to the Liberty Roundabout or continue sitting there.

As Mr Minhas suggested her to ask other leaders, she expressed her ignorance about “them”. The party leader suggested her to move to Liberty Roundabout since they had left the sit-in venue (purportedly Corps Commander House). “Since you left the venue, the Liberty Roundabout is the best place to sit,” he stated and suggested her to give a call for the night.

In a tweet, PTI central Punjab president urged party workers to “protest, but do not take law in your hands. Beware of rogue elements from other parties/institutions, engaging you to resort to illegal methods”. She said the PTI was fighting for Pakistan.

In another tweet, she stated the PTI senior leadership was being arrested after the arrest of Imran Khan. She also said the protesters and supporters, including women and children, were being attacked and added internet services and social media had been blocked.

In yet another purported leaked audio clip, PTI Senator Ejaz Chaudhry could be heard telling another person – believed to be his son Ali Chaudhry – the protesters had ransacked the Corps Commander House and everything in the house including the flowerpots had been destroyed. He stated three people also sustained bullet injuries.

When Ali Chaudhry asked that shots were fired as well, Senator Chaudhry replied in the affirmative saying first they fired shots and then a burst of gun fire and added that three people were hit by bullets. “Nothing is left in the house. From flowerpot to everything has been blown away,” the PTI senator added. Senator Chaudhry’s son remarked that “Myth has been broken”.

There are some other party leaders’ leaked audio clips discussing protest demonstration at the Corps Commander’s House.

PROTEST: Meanwhile, Lahore on Wednesday wore almost a deserted look as there was thin traffic on roads and the police blocked Liberty Roundabout and Canal Road near Zaman Park to control PTI workers’ protests. Still a large number of party workers managed to reach the Liberty Roundabout to stage sit-in.

Meanwhile, owing to blockade of roads, the PTI leaders announced shifting the protest venue from Liberty Chowk to party office at Jail Road, which was also cordoned off by the police Police reportedly raided various PTI leaders and activists’ homes and arrested them or their relatives present there.

PTI leader ShirinMazari tweeted that the police also launched another attack with heavy shelling at Imran Khan’s Zaman Park residence, when his wife along with some domestic staff was at home.

WHEEL-JAM: PTI central Punjab general secretary Hammad Azhar has given a call for “Wheel-jam strike” on Thursday (today) and closure of all markets in Lahore to express solidarity with party chief Imran Khan.

Mr Azhar tweeted that peaceful protests will continue till the release of Mr Khan and urged the party workers to be alert from “certain Gullu Butt elements” joining their ranks.

The PTI leader also tweeted that police resorted to heavy shelling and use of water cannons towards protesters. “They are literally attacking their own citizens – incredibly disgusting,” he lamented.

Source: dawn.com

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Proclamation of emergency remains an option if disturbance continues

May 11, 2023

ISLAMABAD: Proclamation of emergency in Punjab and KP remains an option if the ongoing disturbance furthers.

The Constitution of Pakistan provides for such a situation if internal disturbance goes beyond the power of a provincial government.

The Article 232 of the Constitution provides for the proclamation of emergency. It envisages if the President is satisfied that a grave emergency exists in which the security of Pakistan, or any part thereof, is threatened by war or external aggression, or by internal disturbance beyond the power of a provincial government to control, he may issue a proclamation of emergency.

In such a situation, the President is bound to act on the advice of the Prime Minister. However, for the imposition of an emergency due to internal disturbances beyond the powers of a provincial government to control, a resolution from the provincial assembly shall be required.

But in the present situation, the provincial assemblies in both the provinces -- Punjab and KP where the PTI protesters have become violent and attacked state institutions -- are already nonexistent after having been dissolved early this year.

According to the Constitution, if the President acts on his own, the proclamation of emergency shall be placed before both parliaments for approval by each House within ten days. While a proclamation of emergency is in force, the parliament shall have the power to make laws for a province, or any part thereof, with respect to any matter not enumerated in the Federal Legislative List.

Once the emergency is imposed, the executive authority of the Federation extends to the giving of directions to a province as to the manner in which the executive authority of the province is to be exercised. While a proclamation of emergency is in force, according to the Constitution, Parliament may by law extend the term of the National Assembly for a period not exceeding one year and not extending in any case beyond a period of six months after the proclamation has ceased to be in force.

Under the Constitution, a proclamation of emergency shall be laid before a joint sitting, which shall be summoned by the President to meet within thirty days of the proclamation being issued and shall cease to be in force at the expiration of two months unless, before the expiration of that period, it has been approved by a resolution of the joint sitting.

The Constitution also envisages while the proclamation of emergency is in force, the President may, by order, declare that the right to move any court for the enforcement of such of the Fundamental Rights conferred by Chapter 1 of Part II as may be specified in the order, and any proceeding in any court which is for the enforcement, or involves the determination of any question as to the infringement, of any of the rights so specified, shall remain suspended for the period during which the proclamation is in force, and any such order may be made in respect of the whole or any part of Pakistan.

Source: thenews.com.pk

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PM calls PTI ‘terrorists’ protests ‘unforgivable crimes’

May 10, 2023

Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif Wednesday came down hard on the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), calling its workers "terrorists" and saying that they have committed "unforgivable crimes" following the arrest of their party chairman Imran Khan.

In his address to the nation, the premier — whose government has been facing constant protests from the PTI since it came into power last year in April — said strict action would be taken against "state's enemies".

“The miscreants will be dealt with iron hands. They will be punished according to the law,” the prime minister said as he urged PTI protesters to immediately stop “anti-state activities”.

He added that by staging violent protests, the party’s workers had done in a few days what the country’s enemies could not do in 75 years.

He hailed the nation for “rejecting anti-state agenda” and also praised law enforcement agencies, including the military, for showing restraint in the face of violent protests.

He also accused PTI leadership including Khan of instigating a “few hundred armed workers” to attack the Pakistan Army.

PTI workers “took patients out of ambulances and set the vehicles on fire”, the premier said, adding that the party workers proved their “anti-state tendencies” by damaging government infrastructure.

“They attacked sensitive property as if they were enemies. I have never seen such heartbreaking scenes.”

PM Shehbaz iterated that protection of the country and its ideology was his responsibility. “We will not allow anyone to conspire. We will not let their nefarious agenda succeed,” he asserted.

‘All evidence present in Al-Qadir Trust case’

The premier stressed that upholding the rule of law meant fighting the battle in a court. “Khan was arrested in connection with a corruption case. All evidence is present in the Al Qadir Trust case, which NAB (National Accountability Bureau) is conducting an inquiry into.”

He questioned how Khan had gotten the then-federal cabinet to approve the decision related to the Rs60 billion matter without sharing details with the members.

He said, however, that happiness should not be expressed over the arrest of a political worker.

‘Bitter’ political history

The premier began his address by saying the country’s political history was “very bitter”.

During the PTI’s tenure, cases were registered arbitrarily and the previous government decided who to send to jail and who to show mercy, he claimed.

“A case related to possession of 15 kilograms of heroine was registered against [incumbent Interior Minister] Rana Sanaullah. It was the darkest time in Pakistan’s history.”

The country’s development was badly affected by the PTI government’s “blind political revenge”, he continued.

PM Shehbaz said the incumbent government had sought to resolve issues related to the NAB — on whose orders Khan was arrested — and passed an amendment.

“The first beneficiary of the amendment to the NAB laws is Imran Khan,” he said.

Referring to the cases against him as well as other Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) leaders, Shehbaz said that they faced them and appeared in courts despite reservations. “Not even one of the allegations against us has been proved.

“The United Kingdom’s National Crime Agency also gave us a clean chit.”

A day earlier, PTI Chairman Khan was arrested from the Islamabad High Court (IHC) premises by Rangers personnel on the orders of the NAB. An accountability court granted the anti-graft watchdog Khan’s physical remand for eight days today.

Following the arrest, violent protests broke out across the country, which have continued for the second day today.

The violence has claimed at least four lives in Peshawar with multiple injuries, including to officials, reported from across the country. The government has also said PTI workers attacked important state buildings and damaged private and public vehicles.

The military has been called in Punjab, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, and the federal capital to deal with the protests.

Meanwhile, Sindh has imposed Section 144 to contain protests staged by the former ruling party workers and supporters.

Source: thenews.com.pk

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Ruling coalition hits back at PTI after deadly unrest

Syed Irfan Raza

May 11, 2023

ISLAMABAD: The ruling coalition on Wednesday strongly condemned violent protests and the ransacking of public and private property by unruly mobs after the arrest of PTI Chairman Imran Khan two days ago and vowed that no more aggression would be tolerated.

JUI-F emir Maulana Fazlur Re­­hman, who also heads the Pakistan Democratic Movement alliance, demanded the government take strict action against those who torched public properties, including those belonging to the military.

In a press conference in Islamabad, he said any institution that was trying to bring the PTI back to power would also be guilty and blamed Mr Khan’s government for not delivering a single development project in the past three and a half years.

PPP leader and former president Asif Ali Zardari said in a statement that after the arrest of Imran Khan, riots in the cities were regrettable and shameful.

He said he was in jail for 14 years but never allowed party workers to take the law into their hands. “The acts of harming public property and spreading chaos will not be tolerated,” he added.

The former president said the PTI chief had been arrested in a corruption case and should face the courts instead of running away.

Information Minister Marriyum Aurangzeb strongly condemned attacks on the building and offices of state-run Radio Pakistan and the Associated Press of Pakistan in Peshawar.

“The attack on the offices of Radio Pakistan and APP by PTI’s armed gangs was condemnable and deplorable,” she said in a message issued by her office.

The minister said that following the pattern of a similar attack on PTV headquarters in 2014 allegedly on Mr Khan’s instructions, PTI workers on Wednesday attacked Radio Pakistan and APP buildings.

She asked Radio Pakistan’s director general to file an FIR against miscreants, who she said tried to stop government broadcasting by cutting off lines, which was a serious crime.

Ms Aurangzeb said violence against government employees, vandalism and damage to property were “acts of terrorism”.

She also condemned the protesters for setting on fire the Chaghi Mountain Monument and Radio Auditorium. She said at least 15 notices had been sent to Imran Khan in the Al-Qadir Trust case, which was being investigated by the National Accountability Bureau.

The minister also accused PTI leaders of instigating arson and sabotage after Mr Khan’s arrest on Tuesday.

She said that a day after the unrest erupted, the PTI leadership on Wednesday claimed that party workers did not do violent protests. “When the PTI workers were damaging public and state property [on Tuesday], why didn’t the leadership stop them from doing so?” she said.

Meanwhile, Law Minister Azam Nazeer Tarar said the constant contact and cooperation among the global states was a must to address pressing challenges faced by constitutional democracies.

“The rise of hybrid democracies, populism, nationalism, depleting level of truth, and rising migration is the existing threats to democracies,” he said.

Former senator Farahtullah Babar of the PPP said the constitutional democracies were facing challenges the world over, but these had been pronounced more in Pakistan.

Energy Minister KhurramDastgir Khan dubbed the PTI as a fascist party and accused it of being involved in destructive activities since 2014, targeting both public and private properties. “The party was more dangerous for Pakistan than its arch-rival India,” he said at a press conference.

He said some 78 police officers had been injured in the violent protests since the PTI chief’s arrest.

The minister also mentioned the instances when protesters torched an ambulance in Peshawar and how some of them took out their wrath on the military, torching the residence of the corps commander in Lahore and gathering outside the entrance to the army’s general headquarters in Rawalpindi and pelting it with stones.

Planning Minister Ahsan Iqbal alleged that the countrywide ransacking of public and private property was an outcome of a planned move of PTI.

Source: dawn.com

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Bilawal Bhutto urges PTI to shun violence, take political route

May 11, 2023

Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari on Thursday told Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) to shun violence and adopt a political route, stating that Imran Khan-led party needs to decide whether they want to become a “political party or an anti-state party”.

Terming May 9 — the day when violence erupted during which military installations were also attacked following Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan's arrest from the Islamabad High Court — as a "Black Day" in the history of Pakistan, Bilawal said reiterated the matters need to be resolved in a political manner.

Bilawal, while addressing a press conference flanked by Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah and provincial Information Minister Sharjeel Memon, said that in the history of Pakistan several days are marked as the "Black Days" and now May 9 has been added to the list.

Violent protests erupted in Pakistan on Tuesday with dozens injured across several cities and demonstrators attacking military buildings after Khan was arrested.

Tensions remained high with paramilitary troops and police on the streets in major cities even today; meanwhile, mobile data services remained suspended and schools and offices were closed in Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

The Islamabad police said earlier today that troops have reached the capital city.

Protesters stormed military buildings, ransacked the residence of a top army general in Lahore, and set ablaze state buildings and assets in other places since Khan's arrest in Al-Qadir Trust case.

In response to a question on whether he considered banning the PTI, the foreign minister responded: “A decision cannot be taken on television based on the video evidence that has come out so far.”

He said that he was not in favour of banning the PTI for attacking state facilities, adding that he would be the last person to endorse such a move.

The Pakistan Peoples' Party (PPP) chairman stated: “I am not in favour of banning anyone. We must adopt a completely constitutional and legal procedures to ban PTI.”

He, however, added that the idea of declaring PTI a proscribed outfit existed as a last resort.

Moreover, Bilawal called for PTI workers to end their violent protests, adding that the party had done “what it had to do”.

"PTI should not cause more harm,” he said, adding that the party leadership should declare an end to violent protests and face the cases against them.

Bialwal also expressed a desire to have an outcome that would create political stability in the country.

'PPP never celebrates arrests of political leaders'

“We [PPP] never celebrates when a political leader is arrested because we believe that when political leaders are arrested it is the loss of the politics at large,” he said, reiterating that in such scenarios the PPP has never celebrated nor distributed sweets.

Bilawal maintained that the PPP has always been against the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) — an autonomous anti-graft agency — and has always believed that the institution should be shut down; however, the PTI has always strongly supported the bureau.

“Khan sb initiated a campaign to save NAB; when we demanded amendments he said that we are seeking NRO and didn’t agree on the proposed amendments,” he said, adding that now when the new laws were introduced it is the PTI chief who has become its beneficiary.

Source: thenews.com.pk

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Southeast Asia

 

Man Arrested For Allegedly Insulting Religionby Making Fun of 'Salam'Words of Greetings in Malaysia

May 10, 2023

KUALA LUMPUR: Police have arrested a local man suspected of insulting Islam by making fun of the religion's 'salam' or words of greetings after a video clip over the matter went viral on social media.

Police secretary, DatukNoorsiahSaaduddin, said the 40-year-old suspect was arrested at WangsaMaju here yesterday (May 9). Two mobile phones and three SIM cards belonging to the suspect were also confiscated.

She said the case is being investigated by Bukit Aman's Classified Criminal Investigation Unit (D5) under Section 298A of the Penal Code for causing disharmony or enmity on grounds of religion.

According to Noorsiah, since the 3R (Ruler/Religion/Race) task force was established on March 22, a total of 18 investigation papers have been opened and 12 individuals arrested.

"Police would like to advise the public not to misuse social media by issuing mocking statements that can cause anger, hatred, create disharmony or touch on the sensitivities of the monarchy.

"Strict action will be taken according to the provisions of the existing laws in order to protect order and the interests of the community," she said. – BERNAMA

Source: nst.com.my

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https://www.nst.com.my/news/crime-courts/2023/05/907986/man-arrested-allegedly-insulting-religion

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High Court rules conversion of 3 children to Islam valid

By Rahmat Khairulrijal

May 11, 2023

KUALA LUMPUR: The High Court today ruled that the unilateral conversion of three children to Islam by their converted father is valid.

Judge Datuk Wan Ahmad Farid Wan Salleh today dismissed Hindu mother LohSiew Hong's judicial review to challenge the conversion.

Loh's three children were converted to Islam by her ex-husband without her consent in 2019, and she is contesting the legality of it.

Loh is seeking a declaration that her children are Hindus and that they were legally unfit to embrace Islam without her approval.

She is also seeking to reverse her children's registration of conversion to Islam dated July 7, 2020 issued by the registrar.

Loh had named the Registrar of Mualaf, Religious and Malay Customs Council of Perlis, besides Perlis mufti Datuk Mohd AsriZainulAbidin and Perlis government as respondents.

Source: nst.com.my

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https://www.nst.com.my/news/crime-courts/2023/05/908204/high-court-rules-conversion-3-children-islam-valid

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Men in religious attire ignore doctor's advice not to smoke in restaurant

By HusnaSyamilaRiduan

May 11, 2023

KUALA LUMPUR: A group of men in religious attire received criticism from the netizens when a doctor posted on Facebook of them smoking at a food stall area here. recently.

Dr. Noor Ameera Rahmat said the group sat right next to the doctor's table where all her kids were present.

"We were eating peacefully with clear and fresh air, but got interrupted by a group of men who just came back from the mosque wearing kopiah (head cover) blowing cigarette and vape smokes.

"How are we to improve with this kind of mentality?" she stressed.

Dr Ameera also mentioned she advised the men but was ignored, which led her to air her grouses online.

Although the post originally came from Facebook, it gained more than 400,000 views collectively across all social media platforms where members of the public slammed the selfish attitude portrayed by the men ignorant about their surroundings.

"Religious but immoral," said netizenHizam Sulaiman.

Others shared similar encounters in separate events of them being scolded back for standing up against rule breakers.

"I once told a cleaner at a mosque not to smoke within the premise but he got mad at me, telling me he works here so he knows better," said IzzulHafiy Bin Zawawi.

Some questioned the reason behind the viral post, highlighting not to make big of the ordeal on social media despite the photo used was censored.

However, one user, Rahizat Zainal asserted the action and said, "It is indeed a need because our society has reached a point where it cannot be reprimanded.

This comment was made in relation to an altercation similar to a recent viral video of an elderly man who was furious when advised not to smoke in a restaurant.

The Health Ministry enforced a rule in January 2020 that eateries throughout the country are designated as non-smoking areas.

Those found smoking in prohibited areas will be charged a compound of RM250.

The ministry also noted the public should immediately report brazen offenders by taking a photo of anyone smoking in prohibited areas, name of restaurant, address, time and date before submitting it to the official hotline at +60108608949.

Source: nst.com.my

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https://www.nst.com.my/news/nation/2023/05/908161/men-religious-attire-ignore-doctors-advice-not-smoke-restaurant

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Malaysia climbs 7 spots on Global Terrorism Index 2022

By AdibPovera

 May 11, 2023

PUTRAJAYA: Malaysia has improved its position by climbing up seven places in the Global Terrorism Index (GTI).

Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said Malaysia reached the 75th spot in the 2022 GTI compared to 68th place the previous year.

Zahid said the country only reported two arrests linked to terrorism-related activities in 2022.

"Although Malaysia has improved its position in the GTI, this does not means we should be complacent.

"We must continue to remain vigilant and carry out the necessary preventive measures to uphold the safety of the nation," Zahid told reporters after the chairing the high-level committee on counter-terrorism here today.

Increased in rankings signify a country has improved its position on the GTI.

Source: nst.com.my

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Europe

 

Police arrest man who tried to set mosque on fire in Germany

May 10, 2023

Police have arrested a man who tried to set mosque on fire in the German city of Dresden late Tuesday evening.

The man spilt petrol in front of a mosque and tried to set the building on fire, a police spokesman said.

Witnesses called the emergency services number after they saw the man spilling petrol outside the mosque, which was well-attended at the time.

The man, 34, was arrested and is under police investigation for attempted aggravated arson.

Though his motive was initially unclear, the same suspect was said to have set fire to a copy of the Holy Qur’an in a mosque in April. (dpa/NAN)

Source: newsdiaryonline.com

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Restoration work of mosques underway in Azerbaijani territories liberated from occupation

10 May 2023

BAKU, Azerbaijan, May 10. Construction of mosques and restoration of historical monuments are underway in the territories liberated from Armenian occupation, Chairman of the State Committee on Religious Associations of the Republic of Azerbaijan MubarizGurbanli told journalists, Trend reports.

Gurbanli noted that a special program has been prepared in this regard.

"Special attention is paid to restoring the original appearance of mosques, most of which were destroyed during the occupation," the chairman said.

Azerbaijan constantly takes measures to develop international cooperation on reconstruction projects, the laying of new infrastructure facilities continues, roads are being rebuilt, and the work on clearing mines [planted by Armenian armed forces in the previously occupied areas] doesn’t stop.

Source: en.trend.az

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Charity regulator appoints Interim Manager to the Islamic Centre of England

10 May 2023

The Charity Commission has today announced it has appointed an interim manager to the Islamic Centre of England.

The charity has been the subject of a statutory inquiry by the regulator since November 2022. The inquiry was opened due to serious governance concerns and follows extensive engagement in recent years which includes issuing the charity with an Official Warning.

Due to the trustees’ failure to comply with their legal duties and responsibilities and their failure to protect the charity’s assets, the Commission appointed an interim manager to the charity on the 4th May 2023. Emma Moody of Womble Bond Dickinson (UK) LLP, the appointed interim manager, will have all the powers and duties of the charity’s trustees, and is appointed to the exclusion of the current trustees. As part of the appointment, she will conduct a review of the charity’s governance and administration and make recommendations to the Commission based on her findings.

Charity Commission Chair, Orlando Fraser KC, said:

We need to act robustly where serious concerns about a charity exist, so that the public, and the charity sector itself, can have confidence in what it means to have charitable status.

The investigators leading this inquiry are assessing all information thoroughly. The appointment of an interim manager will help the Commission ensure the charity’s governance is restored and is improved to a better standard.

The Islamic Centre of England has charitable purposes which include advancing the religion of Islam and promoting education and welfare among the Muslim community.

The Commission’s inquiry remains ongoing. It is the Commission’s policy to publish a report upon concluding an inquiry to detail its findings, conclusions, and any regulatory action taken.

Notes to editors:

The Charity Commission is the independent, non-ministerial government department that registers and regulates charities in England and Wales. Its purpose is to ensure charity can thrive and inspire trust so that people can improve lives and strengthen society.

Section 76(3)(g) of the Charities Act 2011 gives the Commission power to appoint an interim manager to a charity to act as receiver and manager in respect of the property and affairs of the charity.

Interim managers are appointed where the Commission has identified misconduct or mismanagement in the administration of a charity, and/or where there is a need to protect a charity’s property. It is a protective measure.

Source: gov.uk

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Meet Egham's partially blind 86-year-old walking 13 miles through the pain to raise money for town's first mosque

ByLauren Cole-Lomas

10 MAY 2023

An 86-year-old woman with painful arthritis and partial blindness has set herself the ultimate challenge to walk 13 miles to raise money to help set up her town's first mosque. Maja Hasan would like to see a new mosque set up in Egham, where a former office building has been offered to the Runnymede Muslim Society.

Maja, who has recently moved from her long-time home in north London to Surrey, set herself the whopping distance in the hopes of initially raising £200. The fundraising page reads: "For context, it takes her an average of 25 mins to walk the 480 meters to her local shop, after which she often needs a day in bed to recover. So the 21 km target may take her several months to complete and a huge effort."

Now halfway through the big walk, Maja has raised an incredible £2,400 so far and is not stopping there. Her new goal is to reach £3,000.

Maja is raising money for the Runnymede Muslim Society, a group she has had close ties with over the last 20 years. The group needs to raise money to secure a spot that can be used as a Muslim place of worship, a community centre with sports and education, and wellness facilities.

Maja said: “There was a need for an Islamic centre, and it would be nice to go and walk for them to get some money for the mosque and the other services. It will be a family centre where people can meet.

“Usually I walk every day, but I haven’t been feeling well so I am now getting back into it. I went blind in my eye, and my sight has been slowly coming back. I can see a little bit now it is going to be all right. I have an ulcer on my leg and arthritis.”

Usman, Maja’s son, says the walking is good for Maja and she is enjoying it and managing her difficulties well, despite the pain of arthritis. He said: “She can do a longer walk, but will be in bed all day after, as it really tires her out. We have had so much interest in the walk, we might even extend it further, and mum is so keen to do it.”

A big achievement for Maja was conquering just over a mile in a day, which she took slowly. Messages of support have flooded Maja's fundraising page, with many left in awe with one calling her "a role model for our community".

Maja, who is a Swiss national, used to enjoy horse riding, skiing and swimming in her youth in Switzerland, and loved being outdoors. She has also lived in Pakistan before settling down in London with her family in the late 1950s.

If the community can raise enough money to secure the building, it could use Baron’s Court, in Egham, which was formerly an office space.

Source: getsurrey.co.uk

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Bosnia And Herzegovina FM Spoke About 5 Million Muslims in the “Open Balkan”, and Caused Numerous Reactions

10-05-23

The Minister of Foreign Affairs of Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) ElmedinKonakovic (NiP) caused numerous reactions with his latest statement about the “Open Balkan”, which once again questioned the possible membership of BiH in this community.

Speaking the day before yesterday about the first hundred days as Minister of Foreign Affairs, Konakovic also referred to the “Open Balkan”, which consists of Serbia, North Macedonia, and Albania.

“The story of the ‘Open Balkan’ as a kind of ‘Serbian world’ is some kind of political intrigue in which it is the ‘Serbian world’ – all Serbs in one state. How many Muslims, and Bosniaks do we have in that potential state without borders, regional cooperation, has anyone counted? Do you know how many there are – more than five million,” he emphasized.

The representative of the opposition party DF in the Parliament of the Federation of BiH (FBiH), Dennis Gratz, is among those who condemned Konakovic for this statement and accused him of superficiality in this matter.

“Every story of this scale and intensity must be an occasion for a broad public debate. And for that, resources, intellectual and other, and the outlines of a vision are necessary. No. Nothing. Zero. Nix. He gets in front of the microphones and starts a little story: a little bit about the SDA, a little bit about how he saw it all, now that he’s here, a little bit of sarcasm, threatens or shows some breadth, and so on until the chorus,” Gratz pointed out.

Part of the public in BiH is against the “Open Balkan”, considering it to be a tool for Serbia and Albania to dominate this part of Europe. For the parties from RepublikaSrpska (RS), BiH should be part of the “Open Balkan”, claiming that it is not a large-state project and that the country will benefit economically.

The “Open Balkan”, of which neither Montenegro nor Kosovo are part, is also referred to as a United States (U.S.) project. Gabriel Escobar, the special envoy of the U.S. for the Western Balkans, said last year that his country supports the “Open Balkan” as an economic initiative.

However, some warn that BiH would not be able to realize the economic benefits promised by this initiative, due to the internal arrangement. The complex system makes it difficult to make and implement economic decisions, which is not the case in other countries in the region. This is primarily the case in the FBiH, where the decision-making and management procedure is significantly more difficult than in the rest of the country.

Konakovic, after a meeting with Hungarian Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto in March of this year, said that there will be no discussion at all about the “Open Balkan” until the Berlin Process is ratified, Klix.ba reports.

Source: sarajevotimes.com

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Arab World

 

Islamic Development Bank prioritizing poverty reduction in member countries

May 11, 2023

JEDDAH: The Islamic Development Bank is continuing to prioritize poverty-alleviation projects in its most needy member countries.

This is according to Dr. Hiba Ahmed, director-general of the body’s Islamic Solidarity Fund for Development or ISFD, who spoke to Arab News on the sidelines of its annual meeting that is taking place in Jeddah from May 10 to 14.

“It’s a work fund, where we invest the capital and the return on capital is used for poverty reduction. As of now, our capital is $2.6 billion. And we only specialize in grants and concessional financing,” Ahmed told Arab News.

According to Ahmed, concessional financing is important for poor countries because it provides affordable financing models, where they can charge less than 1 percent for access. “As of now, we did approve more than $1.2 billion worth of projects, and 78 percent of it went to poor, less-developed countries.”

The ISFD was established in 2007 as a special fund within the IDB to fight poverty and promote pro-poor economic growth.

Since its inception, the ISFD has approved $1.14 billion in loans and grants supporting 321 poverty alleviation projects, and 80 percent of ISFD’s project portfolio is provided for the least-developed member countries.

To promote sustainable development and economic transformation, Ahmed said the programs focus on job creation, health, education, agriculture and community development.

“We focus on economic empowerment of youth and women and the generation of jobs ... This supports our member countries substantially in terms of achieving their own objectives. And since we focus on the poor countries, (the) least-developed countries, we provide the opportunity for these countries to catch up in the development agenda.”

Ahmed said several new projects have been earmarked for this year.

“As of now, especially in 2023, we did almost double our operations, and we did approve around ($200.5 million). All these projects are mainly in economic empowerment. (When it comes to) supporting youth and women, creating jobs, and so on, we are expecting by the end of this year to add to this maybe around $100 million. So, in total, we think that these contributions because they come in the form of grants, they come in the form of concessional financing, they do support the poor … substantially.”

Ahmed added: “We do have a focus on education. Last year 22 percent of our approvals went to education. We support the agricultural sector, we support the health sector, and so on. So, all our sectors actually are our kind of core sectors for poverty reduction.”

May 11 will mark the official opening day of the IsDB annual meeting. The four-day meeting, entitled “Partnerships to Fend off Crises,” will focus on the importance of collaboration in addressing challenges faced by the bank’s 57 member countries. The event serves as a platform for global leaders, policymakers, key stakeholders, and other influential figures to come together and discuss critical development issues.

During the meeting, member nations will have the opportunity to present relevant development projects and initiatives to strengthen partnerships and create valuable, lasting impacts.

The event will also give a chance to member countries to showcase their achievements and success stories, as well as strengthen trade relations and encourage investment.

Source: arabnews.com

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UAE’s first auction of Islamic treasury bonds in 2023 oversubscribed 7.6 times

Shweta Jain

May 11, 2023

The first auction of the UAE's dirham-denominated treasury sukuk for the year was oversubscribed by 7.6 times, receiving bids worth Dh8.3 billion ($2.26 billion), the Dubai Media Office said on Wednesday.

The move comes as part of the government's Sharia-compliant treasury bonds programme for this year. The value of the first auction stands at Dh1.1 billion, the media office said in a statement.

T-sukuk are Sharia-compliant financial certificates. The issuer of a sukuk essentially sells an investor group a certificate, and then uses the proceeds to purchase an asset that the investor group has direct partial ownership interest in, according to online financial encyclopaedia Investopedia.

The UAE, the Arab world's second-largest economy, in April issued a dirham-denominated treasury sukuk worth Dh1.1 billion as it diversifies its funding resources and supports the growth of the Islamic economy.

In March, the UAE raised Dh1.1 billion from the sale of treasury bonds.

The successful launch of the T-sukuk auction reflects the “UAE's prudent strategic investment policies and objectives, as the country continues to solidify its position as a global investment destination and one of the most competitive and advanced economies in the world, particularly in the Islamic economy sector”, said Sheikh Maktoum bin Mohammed, First Deputy Ruler of Dubai and Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance.

“T-sukuk issuances will offer high-quality Islamic assets at competitive prices due to the increase in the investor base, which reflects positively on the country’s economy and investment environment.”

In the Islamic treasury bonds auction, the UAE government is represented by the Ministry of Finance as the issuer, in collaboration with the UAE Central Bank as the issuing and payment agent.

The latest auction received strong demand through the eight primary bank dealers, the statement said.

“Strong demand was witnessed for two-year and three-year dirham sukuk at Dh550 million each,” it said.

The statement added that the first auction would be followed by a series of auctions, in line with the proposed 2023 issuance plan.

The T-sukuk will first be issued in two, three and five-year tranches, followed by a 10-year tenure sukuk at a later date, the Ministry of Finance said last month.

The first T-sukuk auction will be followed by a listing on Nasdaq Dubai to promote secondary market trading along with primary dealers, the Dubai Media Office said.

“The T-sukuk programme was developed in uniform pricing (the Dutch Auction) for final bid acceptance of bids and final allocation amounts, regardless of the lower-priced bids received to ensure full transparency in accordance with global best practices for sukuk structuring,” it added.

“The programme will provide safe investment alternatives, further contributing to the development of the UAE’s investment environment.”

Source: thenationalnews.com

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Islamic Development Bank Group releases integration report for Arab countries

GokhanErgocun

10.05.2023

JEDDAH, Saudi Arabia

Islamic Development Bank (IsDB) Group released an integration report for Arab countries at its annual meeting in the Saudi port city Jeddah on Wednesday.

The report was prepared as part of the bank's efforts to overcome obstacles in front of cooperation and integration of Arab countries, said Muhammad Al Jasser, the group’s chairman.

The report, covering years between 2010 to 2022, has noticeable changes, the chairman said.

The report aimed to measure the level and progress of economic integration among Arab countries of the bank under five dimensions.

The dimensions, included trade and investment integration, financial markets integration, production networks, connectivity and logistics, and human mobility and institutional integration.

The report said: "The index results reveal that the level of overall intra- Arab integration was steady from 2010 to 2022.

"But the structure of the integration index by dimension has changed considerably during the same period."

While the financial markets integration was the weakest dimension in 2010, it was the largest driver of integration in 2021, the report said.

"On the contrary, the human mobility and institutional integration dimension, which was the strongest dimension in 2010, has gradually declined until 2021," it added.

Source: aa.com.tr

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Islamic Corporation for the Insurance of Investment and Export Credit (ICIEC) Honored with Global Trade Review (GTR) Leaders in Trade Award for Islamic Finance in Trade

11-05-23

RIYADH, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, May 10, 2023/APO Group/ -- The Islamic Corporation for the Insurance of Investment and Export Credit (ICIEC) (www.ICIEC.IsDB.org), the insurance arm of the Islamic Development Bank (IsDB) Group, is proud to announce that it is the recipient of the prestigious Global Trade Review (GTR) Leaders in Trade Award for Islamic Finance in Trade. This esteemed accolade was presented to ICIEC during the GTR Saudi Arabia awards ceremony on May 9, 2023.

The GTR Leaders in Trade Awards celebrate innovation, excellence, and growth in the trade, commodity, supply chain, and export finance markets, with a specific emphasis on Islamic finance. This award underscores ICIEC's unwavering commitment to supporting and promoting trade within the Islamic world, fostering economic development, and driving sustainable growth.

ICIEC CEO, Mr. OussamaKaissi, expressed appreciation for the recognition, stating, "It is with immense pleasure that we receive the GTR Leaders in Trade Award for Islamic Finance in Trade. This award serves as recognition for ICIEC's dedication to providing our member states with comprehensive, world-class Islamic insurance and risk management services. We remain committed to driving transformative change in the sector, and we thank GTR for acknowledging our efforts in championing Islamic finance in trade."

Since its establishment, ICIEC has been actively involved in its member states' economic growth and development by offering Shariah-compliant insurance and reinsurance solutions, reducing trade and investment risks, and promoting the expansion of trade within the Organization of Islamic Cooperation countries. The GTR Leaders in Trade Award cements ICIEC's position as a leader and pioneer in the Islamic finance industry.

Source: africa-newsroom.com

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Economic integration is key for Arab nations and trade and investment can boost it, conference hears

May 11, 2023

JEDDAH: High-level representatives of Islamic Development Bank Group member countries, and other regional and international experts gathered in Jeddah on May 10 for the 48th Annual Meetings of the group, which included the launch of its Integration Report for Arab Countries.

In his keynote speech, the chairman of the group, Mohammed Al-Jasser, said it is working to overcome the obstacles to economic integration and capitalize on available opportunities at the regional and international levels, while helping to improve revenues across the Arab world and increase the region’s contributions to the global economy.

Trade and investment are two vital areas through which the group aims to support member countries, by effectively implementing regional agreements, he added.

The discussions revolved around the contents of the group’s latest Integration Report, which includes information about the extent of economic integration in the Arab world in a number of sectors, including trade and investment, the financial markets, IT connectivity, and logistics.

Abdul Hakim Elwaer, assistant director-general of the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization, said that economic integration can help improve food security in the Arab region. There are a number of challenges to achieving this, he added, some of which are political and some social or environmental.

“The Arab region is the most arid region in the world and with the increasing effects of climate change, coupled with scarcity of water resources, urban encroachment and overpopulation, the situation will not improve in the future but rather it will worsen and the region will have to face several challenges,” Elwaer said.

It is important to create more opportunities for economic integration in the Arab world, and river basin countries in particular, as they are better placed to supply food and water resources to countries that need them, he added.

Sami Al-Suwailem, acting director-general of the Islamic Development Bank Group Institute and its chief economist, said that economic and trade integration play a major role in building stable economies and boosting the wealth of countries.

“It is important to focus more on efficiency and productivity to achieve economic integration, and on sharing best practices among the member countries through South-South Cooperation,” he said.

Bahgat Abu El-Nasr, director of the Arab League’s Arab Economic Integration Department, talked about the role of trade in regional economic integration, including the need for the political will to develop trade relationships, and highlighted the implementation of major regional integration initiatives, including the Greater Arab Free Trade Area and the Arab Customs Union.

Lilia Hachem Naas, chief officer for the Middle East and North Africa at the International Trade Centre in Geneva, discussed the effects that economic integration can have in increasing productivity in the Arab world. She said trade is a key tool for strengthening regional integration and can act as a driver for the creation of job opportunities.

“To overcome this obstacle of regional integration, a mechanism for transparency should be established between the public and the private sectors,” Naas added.

Source: arabnews.com

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Saudi program launches series of developmental projects in Yemen

May 10, 2023

RIYADH: The Saudi Program for the Development and Reconstruction of Yemen has launched a number of vital development projects in Yemen under the directives of King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the Saudi Press Agency has reported.

A ceremony was held on Wednesday to mark the launch of the initiatives, which include work at the Aden General Hospital — including constructing a cardiology clinic — and two phases of rebuilding at Aden International Airport. 

The hospital, which boasts 20,000 square meters in all, will eventually contain 2,187 medical instruments and a bed capacity of 270. A reproductive health unit, endoscopic and physiotherapy units, as well as a laboratory and pharmacy, will be included in the planned work.

The SPDRY launch also involves an educational project to construct four schools around Yemen, as well as the building of 170 housing units for low-income families in Aden. 

The SPDRY is part of the Kingdom’s efforts to support the economic development of Yemen. Launched in 2018, it has carried out 224 developmental projects and initiatives across the country to assist the Yemeni people in various sectors, according to the SPA.

Source: arabnews.com

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India

 

What Prime Minister’s Loud Silence on Attacks on Muslims by His MinistersSays

11.05.23

Karan Thapar

Sometimes, more than what you say or do, what you don’t object to or react against, thus indicating acceptance, whether that’s tolerance or concurrence, can reveal what sort of person you are and, in particular, your innermost thinking and, even, your broader character.

In fact, this is a significant part of what determines your image. And this is how we often judge politicians and governments. Assessing their performance or evaluating their policies can be complicated and challengeable. Their image is easier and faster to respond to. We do it instinctively. It becomes the basis on which we “like” or “dislike” ministers and governments.

Now consider the number of times Prime Minister Modi has maintained complete silence when members of his government, both senior and relatively junior, have said atrocious things about Muslims.

The most recent is Satya Pal Singh Baghel, the minister of state for law and justice. At an event organised by the RSS on Monday, this is what he said: “Tolerant Muslims can be counted on fingers. Their numbers are not even in thousands. Even that is a tactic. It is to stay in public life with a mask. This route then leads to the house of the governor and vice-president or vice-chancellor. But when they retire from there, they begin to speak their mind.”

In any country, for a minister to speak of fellow citizens in this contemptuous, foolish and utterly false way would be intolerable. Not just because it’s wrong and untrue. But for a deeper political reason. It colours and taints the government as a whole. And, even more than that, it creates an impression, if not a firm belief, about the Prime Minister who appointed this person. No head of government could accept that.

Yet Mr Modi has. Indeed, this is not the first time. His ministers have called Muslims Babar Ki Aulad, his chief ministers taunt them with calls of Abba Jaan and practically everyone in the BJP tells them to go to Pakistan. I’ve recalled the first three examples that came to mind. If you do a Google search, you’ll find hundreds stretching all the way back to 2014.

I can remember only one instance when the Prime Minister chided a colleague for such speech. It was the Ramzade-Haramzade comparison by Sadhvi NiranjanJyoti in 2014. That’s almost 10 years ago. Thereafter, silence has been his response.

So how should we read that silence? What does it tell us of the Prime Minister? What does it reveal of what he thinks is acceptable or forbidden? And then — and this is what Muslims ask themselves — what does it reveal of what he thinks of them?

How they can be spoken of? And what they must accept as their lot in life? Finally, when such questions are asked, does it hurt or even trouble him that he’s the cause of such pain?

I don’t know the answers. At least not definitively. But all of us can make a pretty good guess. And there are pointers from the Prime Minister’s own behaviour. He was the politician who once talked about shamshanghat and kabristan. He’s also the person who claimed you can recognise rioters by the clothes they wear. And let’s not forget the word “puppy”. I don’t need to say more. He may not have named the community but it was quite obvious who he had in mind.

So, why is the Prime Minister surprised when millions, at home and abroad, are convinced he and his government are dismissive of Muslims? One or more of his ministers and party men make this clear practically every day. His lack of response endorses and confirms that view. Our press may not pick it up but the international media would have to be deaf and blind not to do so.

Now, if the Prime Minister wishes to contest and, perhaps, change the impression that Muslims under his rule have become second-class citizens in their own country, then he should immediately sack Satya Pal Singh Baghel. Any other Prime Minister in a democracy would do so without a moment’s hesitation. But if the Prime Minister of the world’s largest democracy, which he, in fact, claims is the mother of democracy, retains such ministers — and remember there are many, not Baghel alone — then he can only blame himself for the growing belief India is no longer a country that respects its Muslim citizens.

This may not worry the Prime Minister. As a citizen, it troubles me enormously.

Source: telegraphindia.com

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https://www.telegraphindia.com/india/what-prime-minister-narendra-modis-loud-silence-on-attacks-on-muslims-says/cid/1935935

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In a North Bengaluru Seat, a Lesson to Parties That They Can't Take the Muslim Vote For Granted

Sumer Sharma

Bengaluru: Located in Bengaluru’s Pulakeshinagar constituency, the Muslim-majority DJ Halli locality made national headlines in 2020 when demonstrations against an inflammatory post about Prophet Mohammed turned violent.

The post was made by the nephew of incumbent MLA AkhandaSrinivasa Murthy, a popular local leader who has held the seat since 2013. This may prove costly for Murthy, who did not get the Congress ticket this time, and faces a tough contest against his former party.

After he was not named in the Congress’ first three candidate lists, Murthy resigned from his position as MLA on April 16 and subsequently decided to contest on a Bahujan Samaj Party ticket. BSP volunteers were visible in DJ Halli canvassing for their candidate, and seemed fairly confident of his victory.

“The Congress candidate is not even from here, what will he do when we have problems? Murthy lives right here – if we have an issue, we can catch a hold of him,” said one volunteer. Murthy does live close to DJ Halli and his aggressive campaign has included numerous personal interactions and rallies.

When I asked residents which way the wind was blowing, most said that ‘Anna’ – as Murthy is fondly known – was everywhere. “He and his people have been much more visible and active than Congress, and he’s pulling crowds.”

I gathered that the perception was that he has worked for the constituency – got houses constructed and got people their pensions. “Congress hasn’t done anything for this area,” residents said.

Murthy’s popularity is undeniable.

In 2018, he won from Pulakeshinagar for the second time in his career by a massive margin of 81,626 votes – the highest of any candidate in that assembly election. Pulakeshinagar is a seat reserved for Scheduled Castes but has a majority 54% Muslim population, concentrated in the DJ Halli and KG Halli localities. It is also a lower income neighbourhood.

These localities were the epicentre of the violence that took place in August 2020, when the inflammatory post about the Prophet by Murthy’s nephew P. Naveen sparked a protest by locals in front of the DJ Halli police station. Tensions between demonstrators and the police escalated quickly into violence, resulting in three deaths from police firing, and the mob attacking Murthy’s house which is located close to DJ Halli.

The police proceeded to launch a wide-ranging crackdown in these areas, picking up hundreds of local Muslim men, including minors, often without evidence or on flimsy grounds. Murthy filed a complaint with the police regarding the damage to his house, and residents seem to attribute the arrests that took place in subsequent months partly to this complaint. As many as 480 people were arrested in connection with the violence, including under laws like the stringent Unlawful Activities Prevention Act. Of them, 67 are in jail even now.

The crackdown has contributed to a broader feeling of persecution, where some feel that the community is being punished for the actions of a few. One anguished woman said, “Does he (Murthy) not know how difficult it is for us to manage without members of our household?”, referring to men, often primary earners, who are still imprisoned.

While it is unlikely that Murthy’s complaint had much to do with the crackdown, the sense is that at a time when the community felt the full force of the state bear down on them he abandoned them. It is not like the demographic dynamics are lost on residents, as one said, “We Muslims got him elected. And then he did nothing for us.”

The incident also appears fresh on people’s minds, with many locals bringing it up. One young man explained, “Basically, it was this incident that has changed Murthy’s reputation here. That’s why he wasn’t given the ticket.”

The clear disaffection with Murthy because of his handling of the incident and its fallout was perhaps the reason the Congress did not announce him as their candidate. The question is whether it will also cost him his seat. The contest appears to be close, and according to one middle-aged woman, “Everyone is saying haathi-haathi” – referring to the BSP’s elephant election symbol – “will come this time, but I think it’s all talk”.

Another woman passionately asked, “Why hasn’t he gotten our boys out?”

Indeed, despite some overt support, there is significant anger against Murthy over what they see is a lack of effort on his part, to advocate for those arrested or get them released on bail.

Then there is the fact that it was his nephew who provoked the violence in the first place.

Congress

On the other hand, many residents did not even know the Congress candidate A.C. Srinivasa when I spoke to them. Srinivasa is not from Pulakeshinagar and fought the last two elections from Mahadevapura. This seems to have been a last-minute choice that has not put the party in the strongest position.

To make matters worse, until May 6, Srinivasa had not even visited DJ Halli to interact with voters – in stark contrast to Murthy’s concerted efforts. According to residents, the Congress campaign has been lacklustre when compared to Murthy’s. Perhaps the reason for this was the expectation of a comfortable victory in a Muslim-majority seat that they had previously won with a large margin.

However, with the challenge mounted by Murthy, they appear to have rallied in the final few days – with DJ Halli corporator and former mayor R. Sampath Raj visible in the area, meeting residents and holding rallies. It is clear, however, that if it is about the candidate, then Murthy is the clear favourite.

However, the party, too, is in play.

Most residents in DJ Halli ultimately said that they would vote for the Congress.

Even those who spoke of Murthy glowingly eventually revealed they intended to vote for the party, Congress. One middle-aged woman explained it thus, “People might say whatever, but they will vote for Congress only”. Within the ambit of this preference are Murthy’s local representatives with whom people had close ties. A couple of residents suggested this would be a strong factor for most in the locality. The reason was fairly uncomplicated. “We have always voted for the Congress, and will do so this time as well,” they said.

Loyalty to the party and a history of having voted for them “for years” seem to be salient. That a loyal core base might serve the Congress is also evidenced when we look at recent election results.

In 2018, Murthy won on a Congress ticket with an enormous 65% margin against Prasanna Kumar. However, the same match in 2013 with Murthy on a Janata Dal (Secular) ticket and Kumar representing the Congress saw Murthy win with a much smaller margin of 10%. Clearly, 38% of voters chose the Congress both times despite the candidate switch, and at least 24% of Murthy’s votes last time can be attributed to the Congress ticket. It appears these voters will stay with the party this time too, and coupled with the fallout of the violence, Murthy faces a difficult challenge.

Apart from party loyalty, there are three other reasons for voters choosing Congress.

First is the violence – there is clear disaffection towards Murthy on this issue, which actually appears to be the only major source of disaffection towards an otherwise popular MLA.

Second is the broad discontent about inflation and poverty that has emerged as a key issue during this election and a reason that many are voting for the Congress. There is significant distress due to inflation, particularly petrol and gas prices, and suffering among the poor, who feel this Bharatiya Janata Party government has done nothing for them – and a vote for the Congress is also to vote the BJP out.

Third is a broad consciousness among Muslims that the BJP government has pushed discriminatory policies and rhetoric against them. Even the issue of the violence needs to be framed in this broader context and indeed, whenever it was being discussed, a broader sense of persecution also came up. There was a sense that no one was speaking up for the Muslim community, not even “our representatives”.

There was an understanding of the BJP’s politics: “We have always lived in harmony in Karnataka, but now they are spreading hate – through the hijab issue, these Hindu-Muslim issues, etc. Since Modi has come, we have faced increasing discrimination and persecution”. The Bommai government’s Hindutva push, in particular the hijab issue, seemed to have created antipathy; and as the BJP adopted an increasingly communal tone in the last week of elections, Muslim voters seem to be incensed by their rhetoric and are keen to vote BJP out.

A Congress victory in Pulakeshinagar would show that the party has a core base that can carry it even in the face of a popular local leader – and more broadly show that partisanship can trump candidate appeal in some places.

A defeat would be a humbling lesson in better ticket distribution.

A victory might also suggest that the Congress has managed to consolidate Muslim voters, due to the BJP antagonising them through its policies and rhetoric, even in seats where they face a strong contender. Perhaps most importantly, in a national context where the BJP has tried to make Muslims increasingly politically irrelevant, this contest shows that they can still hold their representatives accountable and punish them for failing to stand with the community. It is a lesson to secular parties that they cannot take Muslim votes for granted. Both Congress and Murthy have learned this unexpectedly, in a “safe” seat they find themselves fighting hard for.

Source: thewire.in

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https://thewire.in/politics/in-a-north-bengaluru-seat-a-lesson-to-parties-that-they-cant-take-the-muslim-vote-for-granted

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The Kerala Story: Why it is always controversial to make a film on an Islamic State in India?

May 11, 2023

In 2022, Vivek Ranjan Agnihotri’s The Kashmir Files, which centred around the 1990s exodus of Kashmiri Hindus from Indian-administered Kashmir, was one of the most talked about films across the country. While it emerged a humongous success at the box office, a particular section and some political parties called it a propaganda film and alleged that it has distorted facts.

Now, Adah Sharma starrer The Kerala Story is facing the same consequences. The human drama, which released last Friday, follows the story of a group of women from Kerala who are converted to Islam and join the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS). While it is trending phenomenally well at the box office, The Kerala Story is garnering criticism from some political parties.

A few days back, West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee banned the film in her state saying that it is made to defame Kerala adding, “Why did they make Kashmir Files? To humiliate one section. What is this Kerala files? On the other hand, the film has been declared tax-free in the states of Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Haryana.

The lead actress of the film, Adah Sharma recently reacted to a section calling The Kerala Story a propaganda movie as she tweeted, “And for the the few still calling #TheKeralaStory a propaganda film ,saying these incidents do not exist even after watching testimonials of several Indian victims,,,my humble request , Google two words ISIS and Brides…maybe an account of white girls narrated to you might make you feel that our Indian movie is real.”

Ahead of the release, Kerala CM, PinarayiVijayan also bashed the film and said it has been made “with the aim of communal polarisation and spreading hate propaganda”. However, his government has not banned the film

Source: firstpost.com

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https://www.firstpost.com/entertainment/the-kerala-story-why-it-is-always-controversial-to-make-a-film-on-an-islamic-state-in-india-12578362.html

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The Kerala Story Is Not Against Muslims Or Islam: Producer Vipul Shah

11 MAY 2023

Written ByNivedita

'The Kerala Story' is receiving backlash in several parts of India for allegedly targeting Muslims and Islam. Now, the producer and creative director of the film VipulAmrutlal Shah has responded to the allegations and stated that the film 'is not against Muslims or Islam' but rather against terrorists. Directed by Sudipto Sen, The Kerala Story was released in theatres on May 5, and there were calls to ban the film in a few states including West Bengal and Tamil Nadu.

In an interview with Rediff, Vipul stressed that The Kerala Story "is not against Muslims or Islam, it's against terrorists." He also added, "This film is not against a particular religion or caste. What has been most satisfying is that some people were posting angry, nasty and abusive messages against the film. Three of them have publicly apologised on the same platform after seeing the film, calling it a fantastic film. That's a very big vindication or validation of what we have been saying. I'm sure, with time, as temperatures go down, people will understand that this film is not against anyone, it's against terrorism. And we are appealing to all those who are against terrorism, to join us in our fight."

The Hindi film stars Adah Sharma, YogitaBihani, Siddhi Idnani and Sonia Balani in lead roles. It has been declared tax-free in Madhya Pradesh. At the box office, it crossed the ₹50 crore mark on its fifth day of release, earning ₹11.14 crore on Tuesday. It has earned ₹56.86 crore at the domestic box office so far; The Kerala Story will be released internationally on May 12.

Shah also addressed the timing of the film's release, stating that there was an election in India happening every three months. He added he didn't want to be deterred from making the film and telling the stories of those affected.

Vipul, who is married to actor Shefali Shah, last directed the Disney+ Hotstar web series Human starring his wife. He has also directed features like Aankhen, Waqt: The Race Against Time, Namastey London, London Dreams, Action Replayy and Namaste England. He is also producing Force 4 directed by AbhinayDeo.

Source: outlookindia.com

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https://www.outlookindia.com/art-entertainment/the-kerala-story-is-not-against-muslims-or-islam-producer-vipul-shah-news-285290

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South Asia

 

Conditions Not Yet Right for Girls to Return to School; Final Decision by Religious Clerics: Afghan Minister

By RohullahSangar,

10-05-23

He made the remarks to reporters on a visit to Panjshir province.

Sayed Habibullah Agha said that the final decision regarding the reopening of the schools will be made by religious clerics. 

“When the conditions are prepared, based on Sharia law and cooperation with the nation and the religious scholars, the schools will be reopened,” said Sayed Habibullah Agha, acting Minister of Education.

This comes as local officials in Panjshir said there will be a seminary established in the province where more than 1,000 students will be able to study.

“Panjshir province has played an equal role with all the other provinces. There will be a ‘Jihadi seminary’ for 1,000 Talib (students) approved for Panjshir,” said Mohammad Mohsin Hashimi, governor of Panjshir.

“It (Islamic Emirate) opened another door, so that if anyone does not like school or university, the better place for them is seminary. I hope they will use this seminary,” said Abdullah Sadid, a religious cleric.

The acting Minister of Education said the “Jihadi” seminaries have been established based on the decree of the Islamic Emirate’s leader in all provinces of the country. 

Source: tolonews.com

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https://tolonews.com/index.php/afghanistan-183308

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Muttaqi Urges World to Engage with Islamic Emirate

By FatemaAdeeb,

10-05-23

Speaking to reporters following his visit to Pakistan, the acting Foreign Minister said that the world should not try to control the policies of the Islamic Emirate because this is not the solution for the current challenges in Afghanistan.

“Engagement with Afghanistan is benefiting the people of Afghanistan and it is also benefiting the world. Putting pressure on the people of Afghanistan and freezing the assets of Afghanistan or monopolizing the political reputation or diplomatic relations of Afghanistan is not a solution,” he said.

Muttaqi also spoke of the improvement of relations of the Islamic Emirate with regional countries, saying that he stressed the need to avoid the interference of others in Afghanistan’s political issues.

“There was an emphasis on the prevention of interference in politicals issue of Afghanistan and there was also emphasis on the reconstruction and stability of Afghanistan,” he said.

“The return of girls to schools, and the formation of an inclusive government, which is one of the main wishes of the Doha agreement as well as the people, and there should be practical steps in this regard,” said Najib Rahman Shamal, a political analyst.

This comes as the recent UN meeting held with the participation of envoys of more than 20 countries and organizations in Doha called for the formation of inclusive government, and honoring human rights including female’s access to work and education.

Source: tolonews.com

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https://tolonews.com/index.php/afghanistan-183310

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Acting Foreign Minister Muttaqi Meets Norwegian Charge d’affaires in Kabul

By Fidel Rahmati

May 10, 2023

The Acting Foreign Minister, Amir Khan Muttaqi, met with the Norwegian Charge d’affaires Paul KloumanBekken on Wednesday in Kabul.

In the meeting, both sides discussed topics of mutual interest. In addition, the issues of Afghan refugees in the European Union were also discussed.

“The issues related to Afghanistan should be discussed and solved through the diplomatic channels with the incumbent government,” Muttaqi said while urging for constructive interaction with the international community and world.

“in addition to discussions on topics of mutual interest, effective security steps by IEA were acknowledged & frequency of such meetings was stressed. Highlighting access to consular services to address problems of Afghans residing in Europe, FM Muttaqi said that dialogue & engagement about Afghanistan should be held with authority exercising power & able to implement decisions,” the statement said.

Since the Taliban took control of power in the country, the de facto authorities introduced suppressive policies against women and girls. As a result, the women were wiped out from the public scene, education and working with local and international organizations.

Meanwhile, since the Taliban took control of Afghanistan in August 2021, no country has recognized the Taliban government as the legitimate government of Afghanistan and said the current regime is not inclusive, particularly in terms of ethnic, political and religious.

Source: khaama.com

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https://www.khaama.com/acting-foreign-minister-muttaqi-meets-norwegian-charge-daffaires-in-kabul/

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Qatar Provides Life-Saving Medicines To Afghanistan

By Fidel Rahmati

May 10, 2023

Qatar Fund for Development (QFFD) has signed an agreement with the World Health Organization (WHO) to support the provision of essential health services in underserved areas in the 11 provinces of Afghanistan.

According to the statement, with the funds from QFFD, WHO will procure pre-qualified medicine for primary health care and facilitate delivery and distribution to the health facilities in the provinces of Helmand, Daikundi, Ghor, Farah, Samangan, Zabul, Takhar, Baghlan, Maidan Wardak, Paktika, and Nuristan.

The statement also said that medicines would prevent and treat diseases related to sexual and reproductive health and maternal, newborn, and child mortality.

In addition, WHO will support the capacity development of health workers on medical supply chain management and rational use of medicine as per national standard treatment guidelines.

Mr Khalifa bin Jassim Al-Kuwari, Director General of QFFD, said, “The State of Qatar stands at the forefront of the global support of the Afghan people. Complementing ongoing efforts, QFFD works with different partners to improve the livelihood of developing, disaster-stricken, and conflict-driven areas worldwide. We look forward to achieving tangible achievements and improving the livelihood of the Afghan people by supporting the health sector”.

The fund will contribute to more than one million patients and will have better access to quality primary health care,” said Dr AlaaAbouZeid, Health Emergencies Team Leader at WHO Afghanistan.

“The new funding from the Qatar Fund for Development will even boost our capacity to reach more people, especially women, children, the elderly and the most vulnerable in the most underserved areas of the country,” says Dr LuoDapeng, WHO Representative in Afghanistan.

Source: khaama.com

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https://www.khaama.com/qatar-provides-life-saving-medicines-to-afghanistan/

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Contract Signed For The Extraction Of Lead, Zinc Mines in Afghanistan’s Bamyan

ByFidelRahmati

May 10, 2023

A contract for the extraction of lead and zinc mines in the province of Bamyan has been signed between the Ministry of Mines and Petroleum and the Afghan Durrani Mine Extraction Company, said a statement.

The Lead and Zinc Mines are in the GandehKotal area of the Yakawlang district of Bamyan province of Afghanistan.

Shahab Uddin Delawar, the acting minister of mines and petroleum and the director of the Mine Extraction and Processing Company, participated in a signing ceremony to formally establish the contract.

For the company mentioned above, a five-year contract for lead and zinc extraction has been granted, Ministry said.

Due to their importance in numerous industries and high market demand, lead and zinc mineral extraction offers Afghanistan enormous economic potential.

In addition, to the outstanding corrosion resistance, lead is frequently used in paints. Another significant metal with numerous uses is zinc. Since it offers better corrosion protection than iron or steel alone, it is generally utilized as a galvanizing material for steel constructions like bridges and buildings.

It is expected that the agreement will benefit the country’s mining sector, fostering economic growth and, in addition, opening up job opportunities for the people.

Source: khaama.com

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https://www.khaama.com/contract-signed-for-the-extraction-of-lead-zinc-mines-in-afghanistans-bamyan/

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GAAC to Uplift Afghanistan’s Airports to the Modern Era

By Nizamuddin Rezahi

May 10, 2023

UAE-based Holding signed the third and final contract with the Taliban administration to operate the three major airports in Afghanistan and made significant investments in their infrastructure. GAAC is now looking to modernize and upgrade Afghanistan’s airports.

Afghanistan’s aviation sector has faced many challenges in recent years. The country’s airports were severely damaged and many international airlines suspended their flights to and from Afghanistan. GAAC Holding stepped in to restore the airport’s functionality and safety. The company made an urgent investment of USD 641,000 in equipment, facility management, food for airport staff, ground support equipment and technology.

The investment included repairing the runway lights, installing generators, providing x-ray machines, metal detectors and explosive trace detectors, setting up a temporary terminal building, supplying food and water for airport workers, and procuring trolleys, tow tractors, loaders and buses. GAAC Holding also trained and employed more than 500 local staff to operate the airport.

GAAC Holding provides a range of aviation services, including ground handling, premium services, aviation security, and air navigation services. The company has been operating in Afghanistan since November 2020, when it was awarded a contract to provide ground handling and premium services at three international airports: Kabul, Kandahar, and Herat. The contract also included aviation security services at these airports, as well as Mazar-e-Sharif.

In May 2022, GAAC Holding signed another contract with the Ministry of Transport and Civil Aviation (MoTCA) to develop, operate, and manage air navigation services in Afghanistan. The contract granted GAAC Holding the exclusive right to provide air traffic control, communication, navigation, surveillance, and meteorological services for the entire Afghan airspace. The contract also involved investing in modernizing the air navigation systems and equipment.

In September 2022, GAAC Holding announced that it would sign the third and final major contract for running Afghanistan’s airports with the Taliban administration. The contract would run for 10 years and would cover all aspects of airport management and operations. GAAC Holding’s General Manager and Regional Director Ibrahim Moarafi, in a statement, said that the contract would encourage major international airlines to return to Afghanistan and would bring economic benefits and job creation to the country.

GAAC Holding’s achievements in Afghanistan are impressive by any standards. The company has served 1.5 million passengers and handled more than 40,000 tons of cargo since it started its operations in the country. It has also employed more than 1,000 local staff and trained them to international standards. GAAC Holding has demonstrated its commitment and capability to support the development and transformation of the aviation sector in Afghanistan, despite the challenges and uncertainties.

Ghulam Jelani Popal, the deputy head of Afghanistan transport and civil aviation ministry has said the contract is valid for ten years to reporters in Kabul. GAAC already secured contracts from the group to manage ground services and security of the airports in Afghanistan.

After almost two years, GAAC has announced that Afghanistan’s airports are ready for international flights in terms of performance and safety – adding the company has invested $641,000 in facility management, ground support equipment, and technologies to improve airport performance.

The contracts are anticipated to help the Taliban emerge out of isolation as it struggles to gain recognition from the international community.

Ghulam Jelani Popal, the deputy head of Afghanistan transport and civil aviation ministry has said the contract is valid for ten years to reporters in Kabul. GAAC already secured contracts from the group to manage ground services and security of the airports in Afghanistan.

After almost two years, GAAC has announced that Afghanistan’s airports are ready for international flights in terms of performance and safety – adding the company has invested $641,000 in facility management, ground support equipment, and technologies to improve airport performance.

The contracts are anticipated to help the Taliban emerge out of isolation as it struggles to gain recognition from the international community.

Source: khaama.com

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https://www.khaama.com/gaac-to-uplift-afghanistans-airports-to-the-modern-era/

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Mideast

 

Iran Urging Hamas To Join Forces With Islamic Jihad To Attack Israel

11-05-23

Iran has urged Hamas to join Islamic Jihad in a new round of attacks against Israel following the killing of three militants in Gaza, Iran International has learned.

According to informed sources, Tehran exerted strong pressure on Hamas to respond to assistance it has received over the years and unite with Islamic Jihad, a close affiliate of the Iranian regime, to launch a fresh wave of attacks.

In a surprise air strike early Tuesday, Israel killed three Islamic Jihad commanders in Gaza, who had planned attacks from Gaza and the Israeli-occupied West Bank.

A large number of rockets were fired from Gaza into Israel Wednesday afternoon, in what appeared to be Palestinian retaliation for the targeting of Islamic Jihad commanders.

Dawoud Shehab, a spokesperson for the Iranian-backed Islamic Jihad, had said Israel "must expect a response at any moment and anywhere,” but one day after the air strike, a tense calm still prevailed.

The chief of Iran’s general staff Mohammad Bagheri said Wednesday that Iran “will assist Palestine with all its power,” according to Tasnim news agency affiliated with the Revolutionary Guard (IRGC).

Meanwhile, one source told Iran International that Tehran’s pressure has deepened existing policy disagreements among Hamas leaders.

As a tense calm prevailed earlier on Wednesday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Israel is ready to fight Iran on multiple fronts if needs be. He insisted that “95% of Israel’s security problems come from Iran,” referring to “an attempt by Iran to start a multi-front campaign against us.”

Israel blamed Iran for a large-scale military confrontation in early April when Palestinian groups aligned with the Islamic Republic launched hundreds of rockets against Israel from Gaza and Lebanon.

Iranian officials did not try to hide their satisfaction that the “resistance front”, as they call their militant proxies in the region, had “humiliated Israel.” IRGC commander, in particular, call for more military action, boasting that end of Israel is near.

Israel “will do all it can to prevent Iran from establishing terror fronts around us,” Netanyahu said at a conference for a right-leaning group of former senior defense officers.

Iran International’s sources say Hamas leaders in Gaza understand that a new military confrontation will hurt Palestinian civilians and their livelihood. They also have to face the danger of being targeted by Israel. However, leading figures living outside Palestinian territories and enjoying more security and close cooperation with Iran advocate for joining the Islamic Jihad in a new confrontation with Israel.

Iran reached a Chinese-brokered agreement with Saudi Arabia in March to restore diplomatic relations after a seven-year hiatus. Official in Tehran have repeatedly claimed that the move was a strategic defeat for the United States and a victory for Iran.

Having partly reduced their isolation in the region, the Iranian regime seemed emboldened and intensified its rhetoric against Israel in March and April.

Meanwhile, Israel is not just concerned about attacks by Tehran’s proxies and allies, but is also worried about its expanding nuclear program.

By most estimates Iran has accumulated enough enriched uranium to be able to build up to five nuclear weapons within a few months.

Netanyahu also reiterated in statements on Tuesday and Wednesday that Israel will do all it can to stop Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon and will try to prevent Iran from “establishing terror fronts around us.”

Source: iranintl.com

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https://www.iranintl.com/en/202305109243

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Israel occupation understands only language of force, resistance - dissolved Jordanian Muslim Brotherhood

May 10, 2023

Jordan's outlawed Muslim Brotherhood group expressed its condolences for the victims who were killed in Israeli raids on the Gaza Strip on Tuesday, describing the Israeli attacks as "a heinous crime".

The group said, in a statement on Tuesday, that the Israeli raids as part of Israel's "shameful record of criminality and terrorism," adding that the Israeli operation "targeted Resistance leaders in Gaza" and killing three Al-Quds Brigades leaders and several civilians, including women and children.

"The Muslim Brotherhood mourns this group of heroic martyrs and asserts its confidence in the valiant Resistance that will not let this treacherous crime pass without a response," the Jordanian group said in its statement, adding that Israel "understands only the language of force, resistance and jihad."

"May God protect our people in Palestine, and we ask God for victory and empowerment for the [Resistance's] heroes."

Source: middleeastmonitor.com

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https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/20230510-israel-occupation-understands-only-language-of-force-resistance-dissolved-jordanian-muslim-brotherhood/

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Hamas: The Blood of Martyrs Will Not Go To Waste & We Insist On Jihad & Resistance

10/May/2023

GAZA May 10. 2023 (Saba) - The leader of the Islamic resistance movement Hamas, Ismail Radwan, confirmed on Wednesday that the blood of the martyrs will not go to waste and the movement will insist further on the path of jihad and resistance.

The news agency "Palestine Today" quoted Commander Radwan in a brief statement: "We mercy the spirit of ShahidiKabatiya at the dawn of the day the martyr the hero Ahmed Assaf and the martyr the hero Rani Qatnat who were assassinated by the cowardly enemy.

In the dawn of the day, Assaf and Qayyatat were martyred and another was shot dead by Zionist enemy forces after storming the town of Qabatiyeh, south of Jenin, in the north of the occupied West Bank, amid armed clashes between resistance fighters and incursive forces reinforced by military mechanisms.

Source: saba.ye

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https://www.saba.ye/en/news3239275.htm

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All eyes on Hamas as IDF awaits reprisal for assassination of Islamic Jihad leaders

By EMANUEL FABIAN

10 May 2023

More than a day after the Israel Defense Forces launched an operation against the Palestinian Islamic Jihad and assassinated three senior members in simultaneous airstrikes across the Gaza Strip, unusually the terror group had yet to respond.

Shortly after 2 a.m. on Tuesday, Israeli forces killed Khalil Bahtini, who commands Islamic Jihad in northern Gaza; Jihad Ghanem, a top official in the group’s military council; and TareqIzzed-Din, who Israel said directs Islamic Jihad terror activities in the West Bank from a base in Gaza. The separate strikes on the three took place within seconds, according to the Israel Defense Forces.

The airstrikes also left 10 civilians dead, including four children and four women, according to health officials in the Hamas-controlled territory. Islamic Jihad said the wives of the three commanders and a number of their children were among the dead.

Islamic Jihad, as well as the so-called Joint Operations Room of various Palestinian terror factions in the Gaza Strip — which includes both Hamas and Islamic Jihad — vowed a response. Hamas separately said Israel would see a unified response from terror groups that will “teach it a major lesson.”

Immediately after the strikes, the IDF’s Home Front Command imposed restrictions on movement and gatherings for people living within 40 kilometers (25 miles) of Gaza, with officials assessing that a rocket barrage or other type of attack was only a matter of time.

Those fears had yet to materialize by late Wednesday morning, even after more than 30 hours since the deadly airstrikes. Previous strikes on Islamic Jihad leaders were answered within hours by barrages of rockets at Israeli civilians, some lasting several days.

On Tuesday afternoon, Islamic Jihad did unsuccessfully attempt to carry out an attack, with the IDF saying a cell en route to carrying out an anti-tank guided missile attack on the Gaza border was struck, and two members were killed.

IDF spokesman Rear Admiral Daniel Hagari assessed that the lack of an immediate response by Islamic Jihad, or Hamas, was due to the military’s surprise attack.

“We have not seen a rocket fired at Israel. This is a consequence of the IDF’s surprise action against Islamic Jihad,” Hagari told Army Radio on Wednesday morning.

“Anything else can happen today. We will assess the situation on whether to ease the instructions for the residents,” he added.

Some restrictions on areas further from the Gaza Strip may be lifted following assessments, although the instructions issued for residents living close to the border with the Palestinian enclave were expected to remain in place, over fears of anti-tank missile attacks or sniper fire.

While Hamas vowed a “unified response,” it was still unclear if it would actually join Islamic Jihad in a reprisal attack, which could be a contributing factor to the unusually long delay in the response.

Israeli officials have stressed that the operation, dubbed Shield and Arrow, was focused solely on Islamic Jihad, but would target Hamas too should it join the fighting.

Hamas has remained on the sidelines of several previous conflicts between Israel and Islamic Jihad, helping keep them limited, and leading to some hopes that the terror group had matured into a non-violent political actor.

Still, Hamas also put its name to the umbrella group that claimed rocket fire earlier this month, though the IDF believed Islamic Jihad was largely behind the attacks. The ruling terror group was only involved in firing shoulder-launched missiles at Israeli jets during the fighting, which saw 104 projectiles fired at Israel in response to the death of an Islamic Jihad member who had been on hunger strike in Israeli prison.

Should Hamas — believed to have a larger and more advanced arsenal of weapons — join in with responding to the deadly Israeli strikes, the fighting is expected to last longer and be more intense than if Islamic Jihad were to respond alone.

Regardless, the IDF — in particular its air defense units, the Home Front Command, and various intelligence units — were remaining on high alert for any potential response, with or without Hamas.

Source: timesofisrael.com

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https://www.timesofisrael.com/all-eyes-on-hamas-as-idf-awaits-reprisal-for-assassination-of-islamic-jihad-leaders/

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To provoke Palestinians, Israeli settlers break into Jerusalem's Aqsa mosque

JERUSALEM, Thursday, May 11, 2023 (WAFA) – Dozens of fanatic Israeli settlers Thursday morning broke into the compounds of al-Aqsa Mosque under heavy protection from the Israeli police, Islamic Waqf confirmed.

The Waqf said that settlers, divded into groups, raided the holy Islamic Mosque from al-Maghariba gate and took provocative tours in its compounds.

It added that the extremist settlers performed Talmudic rituals in the eastern part of the Mosque.

This comes at a time as Israeli forces intensify measures against Palestinians coming from Jerusalem to enter the Mosque, inspecting their IDs and briefly detaining them.

Source: english.wafa.ps

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https://english.wafa.ps/Pages/Details/135735

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IDF kills 3 Islamic Jihad commanders in Gaza; over 460 rockets fired at Israel

By JOTAM CONFINO IN ISRAEL

May 11, 2023

Israeli airstrikes killed an Islamic Jihad leader and two high-level operatives overnight in Gaza as “Operation Shield and Arrow” continued, bringing the total death toll in Gaza to at least 23.

IDF fighter jets targeted Ali Ghali, the commander of the rocket launching force of the Islamic Jihad in the Gaza Strip, who was in a hideout apartment in Khan Yunis.

“Ghali was entrusted with the instruction and the launching of rocket fire toward Israel, including the recent barrage of rockets toward Israeli territory as part of operation ‘Shield and Arrow.’ Ghali instructed and took part in launching the barrage of rockets toward Israel during operations ‘Guardian of the Walls’ and ‘Breaking Dawn,’ IDF said in a statement, referring to the two previous IDF operations in Gaza.

IDF spokesperson said Israel continued to only target Islamic Jihad, leaving Hamas out of the conflict.

Islamic Jihad fired over 460 rockets at southern and central Israel, including Tel Aviv, since Wednesday afternoon. No Israelis were killed but extensive damage to houses and cars were reported in different locations.

The continued fighting came as numerous media, both in Israel Egypt, reported that Egypt had mediated a ceasefire between Israel and Islamic Jihad on Wednesday night.

Israel’s Foreign Minister Eli Cohen confirmed in an interview with Kan Public Broadcaster that Israel had received ceasefire proposals via Egypt. Islamic Jihad had reportedly demanded that Israel seize its targeted killings, which Israel refused.

“I would like to reiterate: Whoever harms us, whoever sends terrorists against us, will pay the price…The campaign is not yet over,” Prime Minister Netanyahu said in a speech on Wednesday night.

Israel launched “Operation Shield and Arrow” overnight Tuesday, killing 15 Palestinians, including three senior Islamic Jihad operatives. The Palestinian Health Ministry in Gaza said the other 10 victims were civilians, including women and children.

Israel has targeted over 133 Islamic Jihad’s rocket and mortar shell launchers, weapon and rocket manufacturing sites and military positions since Tuesday overnight.

Source: jewishnews.co.uk

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https://www.jewishnews.co.uk/idf-kills-3-islamic-jihad-commanders-in-gaza-over-460-rockets-fired-at-israel/

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Trustees removed from 'Iran-run' Islamic Centre of England

Paul Carey

May 11, 2023

The Charity Commission announced on Wednesday it had removed the trustees from the board of the Islamic Centre of England amid reports the organisation is linked to Iran.

An interim manager was appointed last week after the charity became the subject of a statutory inquiry by the regulator in November 2022.

The inquiry was opened due to serious concerns over the charity's governance, with the organisation previously issued with an official warning.

The Charity Commission said the trustees had failed to comply with their legal duties and responsibilities, while neglecting to protect the charity’s assets.

Security Minister Tom Tugendhat welcomed the decision on Wednesday, saying: “In recent months, I've warned often about the threat that Iran poses to us here in the United Kingdom.

“The actions of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps and its agents have put lives in danger in our own country.”

“Its leadership [was] appointed by the head of the Islamic Republic of Iran and it is reported to have celebrated the lives of people like Gen Soleimani, the head of the IRGC, who [did] so much to spread hatred, death and destruction, not just in the Middle East, but around the world.”

Emma Moody of Womble Bond Dickinson (UK) LLP was appointed interim manager on May 4 and was given the task of conducting a review of the charity’s governance and administration.

She will make recommendations to the Charity Commission based on her findings.

Source: thenationalnews.com

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https://www.thenationalnews.com/world/uk-news/2023/05/10/trustees-removed-from-iran-run-islamic-centre-of-england/

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Palestinian Islamic Jihad seeks Egyptian-mediated ceasefire

(May 10, 2023 / JNS) Palestinian Islamic Jihad has conveyed through Egyptian intermediaries that it wants a ceasefire with Israel to end the latest round of violence that erupted on Tuesday morning.

U.S. and Qatari officials are also reportedly involved in seeking to restore calm to the area.

Palestinian terrorists in the Gaza Strip unleashed several barrages of rockets at Israel on Wednesday afternoon, breaking a tense day-long calm following the IDF’s targeted killing of three top PIJ members.

Warning sirens sounded across communities near the Gaza border, as well as in Ashkelon, Ashdod and the greater Tel Aviv area.

Terrorists fired some 300 projectiles in several salvos, according to the military.

In response, Israel Air Force jets struck PIJ rocket infrastructure across the Strip. The military said that it hit 108 Palestinian terror assets.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Tuesday night said that he had authorized the targeted killings after scores of rockets were fired at Israel last week. The IDF identified the targets as Khalil Bahitini, PIJ’s commander in northern Gaza; JahedAhnam, a senior member of the terror group’s “military” council; and TarekAzaldin, who directed its activities in Judea and Samaria.

“Israel’s policy is clear: Those who seek to harm Israel will be harmed. Those who kill our citizens will pay a heavy price. And those who fire on our cities and civilians will be held responsible for their actions,” Netanyahu said.

Source: jns.org

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https://www.jns.org/palestinian-islamic-jihad-seeks-egyptian-mediated-ceasefire/

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Islamic Jihad conflagration is tip of iceberg for Israel's growing Iran concern

May 10, 2023

While an Egyptian-mediated ceasefire seems likely to take effect soon, the most recent conflagration between Israel and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad is only the tip of the iceberg for a broader Israeli concern.

Namely, Israel's perception of the growing threat posed by Iran.

Violence between Israel and the PIJ has been escalating in recent months in both the Gaza Strip and the West Bank. Directed by Iran and fueled by Iranian funds, arms, and antipathy for the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank, the PIJ has conducted numerous attacks on Israeli interests. Other attacks have been prevented only by the diligence of the Israeli security services. Iran is using the PIJ as its key proxy against the Israeli government. This strategy fits within a hardening of Iranian security policy toward Israel and the West, evinced in part by rampant Iranian assassination plots.

XI'S WAR ON ECONOMIC REALITY

But Iran's antics are also driven by short-term emotion. The aging Iranian leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei is desperate to impose greater pain on Israel in retaliation for its successful penetration of Iran's security and nuclear apparatus. That penetration has embarrassed Tehran and provoked infighting. Yet by using the PIJ to disrupt Israeli civil society, Iran can avoid injecting its Lebanese Hezbollah ally into a conflict that might endanger Hezbollah's position in Lebanon. Hezbollah is under pressure in Beirut amid continuing economic and political crisis.

For Israel, however, the interest in avoiding a larger conflict must be balanced against the need to deter Iran from seizing the escalation curve. Hard-liners in Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's coalition government are also demanding that he take a tougher stance against Iran and its Palestinian proxies.

When it comes to the escalation curve, the Palestinian front is ultimately of peripheral concern to Israel. Iran's nuclear program looms largest.

Israel is deeply concerned over Iran's enrichment of uranium to near weapons-grade purity levels and its continuing refusal to come clean with the International Atomic Energy Agency over its past and present nuclear activities. For Israel, which has a population of just 10 million people, the advent of an Iranian nuclear weapon would be seen as the precursor to a second Holocaust.

In turn, whatever happens with this current conflagration, it is likely that Israel will continue to maintain heightened military pressure on the PIJ for the foreseeable future.

Source: washingtonexaminer.com

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https://www.washingtonexaminer.com/opinion/jihad-conflagration-tip-of-iceberg-for-israels-iran-concern

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Africa

 

Niger intercepts nearly 1,400 Boko Haram followers - Army

10-05-23

Nearly 1,400 followers of jihadist group Boko Haram have been intercepted fleeing into Niger following clashes with a rival Islamic State group, according to the army.

The exodus into southeastern Niger started in March, when the Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP) pursued Boko Haram in its forest hideout of Sambisa, northeastern Niger.

Niger's armed forces have so far caught 1,397 people, many of them women and children, according to a statement from the army's southeastern region, seen by AFP.

They have been handed over to the Nigerian military authorities, it said.

"Around 30 terrorists" who refused to surrender were killed, it added.

Boko Haram launched a bloody campaign in northeastern Nigeria in 2009 that has left over 40,000 dead and displaced around two million from their homes, according to UN figures.

It became globally notorious in 2014 for abducting 276 schoolgirls in the town of Chibok, 96 of whom remain missing.

But the group split in 2016, giving birth to ISWAP, which now dominates in a fratricidal conflict.

The Boko Haram followers were trying to reach the marshlands of the vast Lake Chad region, whose islands have long been a bolthole for jihadists.

The movement was first spotted on March 7, as people walked along the KamadougouYoge River marking the border between the two countries.

Six days later, Nigerien troops in a regional anti-jihadist task force launched an operation that killed 20 jihadists and captured 83 others, according to the army.

The southeastern region of Diffa, which has borne the brunt of jihadist attacks over the years, has been relatively calm since the start of 2023, a security source told AFP.

However, landmines sown by rebels continue to claim lives. Last month, seven soldiers died and nearly a dozen were wounded in blasts.

Niger is also facing a jihadist insurgency on its southwestern border with Mali.

Source: africanews.com

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https://www.africanews.com/2023/05/10/niger-intercepts-nearly-1400-boko-haram-followers-army/

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Tunisia: Authorities open investigation into shooting attack at synagogue

11-05-23

Tunisian authorities opened an investigation on Wednesday into a shooting attack at a synagogue that killed two Jewish pilgrims and three members of the country's security forces.

The motive of the gunman, whom guards killed before he could enter the building on the island of Djerba, remained unclear.

The island's historic Ghriba synagogue, thought to be one of the world’s oldest Jewish temples, is a popular pilgrimage destination, but it was unknown if the assailant, a member of the Tunisian National Guard, specifically targeted Jews in Tuesday's attack.

The death toll from the attack rose to five Wednesday when a guard who was hospitalized in the immediate aftermath died of his wounds, according to a medical official cited by Tunisia's TAP news agency.

Four other members of Tunisia's security forces remain hospitalized in Djerba, including one in critical condition.

Israeli and Tunisian authorities and family members identified the civilian victims as cousins: Aviel Haddad, 30, who held dual Tunisian and Israeli citizenship, and Benjamin Haddad, 42, who was French.

Four civilians were also wounded, the Tunisian Interior Ministry said.

The assailant, a guardsman affiliated with the naval center in the island's port town of Aghir, first killed a colleague with his service weapon before seizing ammunition and heading toward the Ghriba synagogue, the Tunisian Interior ministry said.

When he reached the site, he opened fire on security units stationed at the temple.

The guards fired back, killing him before he reached the entrance, the ministry said.

Source: africanews.com

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https://www.africanews.com/2023/05/11/tunisia-authorities-open-investigation-into-deadly-shooting/

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Islamic trade body signs deals with African countries

10.05.2023

The International Islamic Trade Finance Corporation (ITFC) signed on Wednesday agreements with African nations.

The signing took place on the sidelines of the annual meeting of the Islamic Development Bank (IsDB) Group in Saudi Arabia.

The group signed a $500-million framework agreement with Mali and another $600-million agreement with Djibouti.

It also signed murabaha -- an interest-free loan option -- financing agreement with the Gambia National Petroleum Company and the Gambia National Water and Electric Company. The total figure for the two agreements was $55 million.

Beginning on Wednesday, the four-day annual meeting in the Saudi port city of Jeddah, will discuss global financial topics and host international agreements.

Source: aa.com.tr

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https://www.aa.com.tr/en/africa/islamic-trade-body-signs-deals-with-african-countries/2894117

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Darfur residents fear escalating conflicts between the army and the RSF

11-05-23

Residents of Sudan's South Darfur state fear that the ongoing fighting between the army and the Rapid Support Forces may reignite the conflict in the sprawling desert region, which has already tasted the bitterness of war for the past two decades.

Darfur has been a battleground between the military and the paramilitary RSF since the conflict began and on April 16, fighting erupted between armed men in Nyala, the state's capital.

The war between Sudan's generals is having increasingly severe consequences for civilians, with a doubling over the past week of the number uprooted from their homes, the United Nations said on Tuesday.

It led to a fire that ripped through the city's main market, destroying stalls and merchandise.

Residents fear the fighting is dragging in tribal militias, tapping into longtime hatreds between the region’s two main communities - one that identifies as Arab, the other as East or Central African.

“As the people of Nyala city, we have been affected by a war that we have nothing to do with. As a result of this war, Sudan has been damaged and the Sudanese people have been affected in ways that we are not aware of. Generals are fighting for power, while the Sudanese people are suffering and displaced." explained Adam Hussein, resident.

“On April 16th, at 5 am, an incident (fire) occurred, and firefighters were present near the market but did not come to extinguish the fire. Up to this moment, the fire is still burning, and we do not understand what is happening. People have been severely affected. Several citizens who were shopping at the market, including a vendor who keeps shedding tears when he sees the market in this condition, have been impacted.” he added.

In the early 2000s, African tribes in Darfur that had long complained of discrimination rebelled against the government, which responded with a military campaign that the International Criminal Court later said amounted to genocide.

State-backed Arab militias known as the Janjaweed were accused of widespread killings, rapes and other atrocities.

The Janjaweed later evolved into the Rapid Support Forces paramilitary group, known as the RSF, which is currently at war with the Sudanese military.

Source: africanews.com

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https://www.africanews.com/2023/05/10/darfur-residents-fear-escalating-conflicts-between-the-army-and-the-rsf/

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Senegal opposition calls for protests over alleged threat to bar Sonko from vote

10/05

Senegal's opposition coalition said Tuesday it would stage rallies over a threat to bar one of its leaders, OusmaneSonko, from presidential elections after he was convicted in a defamation case.

Sonko was on Monday handed a six-month suspended term that could jeopardise his bid for the 2024 elections.

His possible elimination would significantly alter the contest, and could also lead to violence from his supporters.

Sonko claims the judiciary is being used to sideline him from the vote.

"The people have to mobilise to support OusmaneSonko in this fight," Khalifa Sall, one of the coalition chiefs, told a press conference on Tuesday.

He joined other heads of the YewwiAskanWi alliance in urging followers to turn out in force for an already-scheduled rally due this Friday, and for another protest a week later, on May 19.

Senegal is traditionally a beacon of stability in troubled West Africa, but in recent years has been buffeted by turbulence that has at times turned deadly.

Sonko, 48, came third in the 2019 election against incumbent MackySall, and intends to stand again next year.

But his candidacy has been clouded by Monday's conviction, which saw an appeal court increase a sentence of two months suspended, handed down in March, for defaming Tourism Minister MameMbayeNiangtou.

The court also ordered Sonko to pay 200 million CFA francs (around $330,000) in damages to Niang.

The opposition figure has not issued any public statement since Monday.

Sonko is also facing trial later this month for alleged rape and death threats over a complaint filed by an employee at a beauty salon where he went for a massage.

He says he is the victim of a government plot to scupper his candidacy.

The government has denied the accusation.

In 2021, the rape charge against him helped trigger riots that left at least 12 people dead.

The presidential party accuses Sonko of seeking to paralyse the country and of drumming up anger on the streets in a bid to escape justice.

His appointments with the justice system are often sources of tension and near-paralysis of traffic in the capital Dakar, as he usually travels to court with a procession of sympathisers.

Political tensions have also been stoked by Sall's refusal to rule out running for a third term as president, a move his opponents say would be unconstitutional.

Khalifa Sall -- the former mayor of Dakar, who is not related to the head of state -- and former minister Karim Wade, the son of an ex-president, have also seen their political careers truncated by legal cases.

Both are prominent opponents of the current president.

Dethie Fall, another YewwiAskanWi figure, called for a march on May 19 against a "campaign to liquidate OusmaneSonko".

He said that not to act "would be to let democracy be transformed into a monarchy and dictatorship by President MackySall, who has only one idea in mind, the third mandate".

The news of Sonko's conviction caused sporadic unrest on Monday in Dakar and elsewhere.

However, opposition calls for demonstrations have had a limited response in recent months.

Authorities have banned numerous rallies and deployed significant police resources.

Source: africanews.com

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https://www.africanews.com/2023/05/10/senegal-opposition-calls-for-protests-over-alleged-threat-to-bar-ousmane-sonko-from-vote/

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North America

 

Transgender militia leader's appeal denied in Minnesota mosque bombing case

11-05-23

A federal appeals court on Wednesday affirmed the conviction of the leader of an Illinois antigovernment militia who was sentenced to 53 years in prison for masterminding the 2017 bombing of a Minnesota mosque, an attack that terrified the local Muslim community.

A three-judge panel rejected all the legal arguments raised by Emily Claire Hari. Her attorneys argued that the key federal law involved — which pertains to damaging religious property and the free exercise of religion — was invalid because it exceeded Congress' authority.

The court also rejected Hari's claim that prosecutors violated attorney-client privilege when authorities seized two pages of notes from Hari's cell during a shakedown.

No one was hurt in the bombing of the Dar al-Farooq Islamic Center, but more than a dozen members of the mosque community gave victim impact statements about the trauma they felt. Judge Donovan Frank said at sentencing that the evidence clearly showed an intent to "scare, intimidate and terrorize individuals of Muslim faith."

Several men were at Dar al-Farooq for early morning prayers on Aug. 5, 2017, when a pipe bomb was thrown through the window of an imam’s office. A seven-month investigation led authorities to the rural community of Clarence, Illinois, where Hari and co-defendants Michael McWhorter and Joe Morris lived.

Authorities say Hari led a small group called the White Rabbits that included McWhorter, Morris and others and that Hari came up with the plan to attack the mosque. Prosecutors said at trial that Hari was motivated by hatred for Muslims.

McWhorter and Morris each pleaded guilty to five counts and testified for the prosecution. Michael McWhorter was sentenced to just under 16 years in prison while Morris got about 14 years.

Hari's attorney said in a filing during the proceedings that gender dysphoriafueled her "inner conflict," saying she wanted to transition from male to female but knew she would be ostracized, so she formed a "rag-tag group of freedom fighters." But prosecutors said gender dysphoria was no excuse.

Hari is incarcerated at a federal prison in Oklahoma that houses male and female prisoners. After a review, the Biden administration last year updated Bureau of Prisons policies to restore Obama-era protections for transgender inmates, undoing a rollback ordered during the Trump administration.

Source: foxnews.com

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https://www.foxnews.com/us/transgender-militia-leaders-appeal-denied-minnesota-mosque-bombing-case

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Appeals court upholds conviction of main defendant in 2017 Bloomington mosque bombing

By STEVE KARNOWSKI

May 10, 2023

A federal appeals court on Wednesday affirmed the conviction of the leader of an Illinois antigovernment militia who was sentenced to 53 years in prison for masterminding the 2017 bombing of a Twin Cities mosque, an attack that terrified the local Muslim community.

A three-judge panel rejected all the legal arguments raised by Emily Claire Hari. Her attorneys argued that the key federal law involved — which pertains to damaging religious property and the free exercise of religion — was invalid because it exceeded Congress’ authority.

The court also rejected Hari’s claim that prosecutors violated attorney-client privilege when authorities seized two pages of notes from Hari’s cell during a shakedown.

No one was hurt in the bombing of the Dar al-Farooq Islamic Center in Bloomington, but more than a dozen members of the mosque community gave victim impact statements about the trauma they felt. Judge Donovan Frank said at sentencing that the evidence clearly showed an intent to “scare, intimidate and terrorize individuals of Muslim faith.”

Several men were at Dar al-Farooq for early morning prayers on Aug. 5, 2017, when a pipe bomb was thrown through the window of an imam’s office. A seven-month investigation led authorities to the rural community of Clarence, Ill., where Hari and co-defendants Michael McWhorter and Joe Morris lived.

Authorities say Hari led a small group called the White Rabbits that included McWhorter, Morris and others and that Hari came up with the plan to attack the mosque. Prosecutors said at trial that Hari was motivated by hatred for Muslims.

McWhorter and Morris each pleaded guilty to five counts and testified for the prosecution. Michael McWhorter was sentenced to just under 16 years in prison while Morris got about 14 years.

Hari’s attorney said in a filing during the proceedings that gender dysphoriafueled her “inner conflict,” saying she wanted to transition from male to female but knew she would be ostracized, so she formed a “rag-tag group of freedom fighters.” But prosecutors said gender dysphoria was no excuse.

Hari is incarcerated at a federal prison in Oklahoma that houses male and female prisoners. After a review, the Biden administration last year updated Bureau of Prisons policies to restore Obama-era protections for transgender inmates, undoing a rollback ordered during the Trump administration.

Source: twincities.com

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https://www.twincities.com/2023/05/10/appeals-court-upholds-conviction-of-main-defendant-in-2017-bloomington-mosque-bombing/

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Prosecutors reveal link between terror defendant in Virginia and Islamic State ‘empress’ from Kansas

By MATTHEW BARAKAT

ALEXANDRIA, Va. (AP) — A northern Virginia man arrested on terrorism charges has a husband-wife relationship with another American who was dubbed by authorities as an “ empress of ISIS ” for her work to establish an all-female battalion of the Islamic State, prosecutors said Wednesday.

Mohammed Chhipa, 33, of Springfield, Virginia, was arrested last week on charges that he provided support to a terrorist group. Prosecutors allege that he transferred nearly $200,000 in cryptocurrency, with some of that money traced back to the Islamic State, to support Chhipa’s stated goal of helping smuggle female ISIS members from detention camps. Other funds remain unaccounted for.

At a detention hearing Wednesday, prosecutors also disclosed a relationship between Chhipa and Allison Fluke-Ekren, an American from Kansas who is serving a 20-year prison sentence. Fluke-Ekren pleaded guilty last year to organizing and leading the KhatibaNusaybah, a battalion in which roughly 100 women and girls — some as young as 10 — learned how to use automatic weapons and detonate grenades and suicide belts.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Anthony Aminoff told the judge that Chhipa considers himself to be married to Fluke-Ekren, although the marriage was apparently conducted online and has no legal status in the U.S. He said Chhipa, a naturalized U.S. citizen originally from India, has been trying to adopt Fluke-Ekren’s children.

Court documents in Fuke-Ekren’s case do not mention Chhipa by name, but also indicate that Fluke-Ekren considered herself to be married to a man she met online. It is not clear that the two have ever met in person.

Whatever the relationship between Chhipa and Fluke-Ekren, the charges against Chhipa appear unrelated to that relationship. Prosecutors say that between November 2019 and July 2022, Chhipa used virtual currency to transfer more than $188,000 to accounts known and unknown. An FBI affidavit states that some money remains unaccounted for but that $18,000 went to wallets known to be used by ISIS women located in Syria, while $61,000 went to cryptocurrency wallets in Turkey. The affidavit states that money intended to arrive in Syria is often routed through Turkey.

The affidavit quotes text messages sent by Chhipa indicating he wanted the money to be used to bribe guards at detention camps where families of Islamic State fighters are still being held.

The affidavit says Chhipa also met with an FBI “controlled persona” — either an undercover agent or a confidential source — and accepted cash from the individual. Chhippa then transferred the money to Bitcoin and sent it directly to a known ISIS member, according to the affidavit.

Chhipa has been under investigation for years. Indeed, prosecutors say he fled to Egypt in August 2019, fearing he would be arrested after his home was raided. He was brought back to the U.S. after authorities contacted Interpol, but he was not charged until Monday. Prosecutors say Chhiipa continued to engage in illegal conduct after he returned to the U.S., even though he know he was drawing authorities’ scrutiny.

Family members who attended Wednesday’s hearing did not comment, but passed out a written statement supporting him. The statement described Chhipa “as tirelessly working for the betterment of women and children” and said he “has been targeted by false allegations.

U.S. Magistrate Judge John Anderson ruled at the conclusion of Wednesday’s hearing that Chhipa should remain jailed while he awaits trial.

Source: apnews.com

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https://apnews.com/article/islamic-state-financing-virginia-fluke-chhipa-20af92e2be08cd68be6656010f4d46e0

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How one Muslim charity is fighting back against Canada’s targeted audits

By Umar A Farooq

10 May 2023

After Muslim charities faced two decades of systemic targeting at the hands of the Canadian Revenue Agency (Cra), including audits and being shut down, one charity has launched a legal defence that has caught the attention of the entire country.

The Muslim Association of Canada (Mac), one of the largest Muslim organisations in the country that boasts more than a dozen chapters, filed a legal challenge against Cra in the Ontario Superior Court of Justice in April 2022.

The legal fight, in which Mac is calling for a Cra audit to be halted, is the culmination of years of the Muslim community being subject to unwarranted targeting and discrimination without Mac having the ability or know-how to defend themselves, said Nabil Sultan, Mac's director of communications and community engagement.

What had led to a chilling effect in the community has now become a story of resilience for Canada's Muslim community. For years, Cra's targeting of Muslim charities led to fear amongst Canada's Muslims, prompting a drop in support and donations to these Muslim organisations, experts and practitioners in the charity sector previously told MEE.

However, Mac's recently launched legal challenge has now received the support of the Muslim community as well as other civil society groups from outside the faith group.

Now with the Muslim community larger in size, more established, and having learned a myriad of lessons following the post 9/11 targeting of the community, it is ready to fight back in the courts, Sultan told Middle East Eye.

"It's really the story of the community going from being a small, inadequately integrated, and post-9/11 highly visible and targeted community to becoming a much more established community," Faisal Bhaba, an associate professor at Osgoode Hall Law School in Toronto, Canada, told MEE.

"With professionals, professional class and experts in fields that can actually contribute to structural change, it forced the government to actually take it seriously and consider doing something about it."

The audit

n 2015, Mac received a notice from Cra that it would be audited. Audits are a routine procedure in the charity sector, so the organisation did not have any concerns about it.

"When we initially got the call for an audit, we welcomed it. Just like you do your taxes every year, it's part of the system and process with the government," Sultan said.

"At the time, we were not aware of the systemic discrimination within the audit process."

However, very soon that discrimination would become clear.

Over a span of 13 months, Cra had searched hundreds of desks and closets, downloaded over a million financial transactions and almost 200 gigabytes of email data and almost 500,000 emails.

"As soon as the audit began, it became very clear that this was not a regular audit of a charity and there was something much more sinister happening."

And more than seven years later, the audit is still taking place.

It was not until well into the audit process that Mac realised it was being conducted by Cra's Review and Analysis Division (Rad) - a secretive arm of the agency tasked to sniff out terrorism financing in the charity sector in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks in the US. Experts say it tended to have an acute focus on Muslim charities.

The organisation, according to Sultan, was never told that it was Rad leading the audit. It was only through an investigation by Mac's lawyers that they were able to figure this out.

The audit's conclusions flagged a number of concerns about the charity. It said it was concerned about the organisation's acquiring of land and real estate, the organising of Eid festivals, and it also specified several unsolicited emails Mac received from foreign groups which Mac did not respond to.

"In the particular case of the Muslim Association of Canada, they basically say the money you spent on Eid festivals, this is not charitable. I want to see them do the same thing to churches, synagogues and temples," said Faisal Kutty, a lawyer and associate professor at Southwestern Law School who has advised dozens of Muslim charities in Canada.

"The standards are being applied in an unfair way," Kutty told MEE. "It sounds very ridiculous because what do those organisations in other communities do? They do the same thing."

The Muslim charity received an Administrative Fairness Letter (AFL), a letter Cra sends out to charities explaining why it may not qualify for charitable status. When looking at the sources used in the AFL to justify their reasoning, the cited experts included known Islamophobic and far-right experts who perpetuate anti-Muslim sentiment.

Mac's story is not unique. There has been extensive reporting in recent years about the Cra's targeting of Muslim charities.

MEE previously looked at 63 charities that had received a Notice of Intention to Revoke (NITR) between 2015 and 2019 and found that while 60 percent of the organisations were given a chance to repeal their revocations, all the Muslim charities it reviewed during that period were not given the same chance.

However, at the time, much of this was not known, as the Muslim charities that were targeted had largely kept the issue to themselves out of fear that there could be further reprisals or consequences.

"Much of the reality that existed in terms of discrimination was hidden, it was not publicly known during those earlier years," said Sultan.

Rather than waiting for the results of the audit, which could lead to a NITR from Cra, Sultan and the rest of Mac's leadership decided to fight against the entire agency's bookkeeping process.

The fight back

In April 2022, Mac submitted a filing with the Ontario Superior Court of Justice in Canada, and over the next several months it went through a number of court hearings discussing the Muslim charity's legal case.

Mac argues in its challenge that Cra's audit infringes on several sections of Canada's Charter of Rights and Freedoms, including the freedom of religion, expression, and association.

The Canadian government has asked for the case to be dismissed, arguing that Cra's selection of Mac for an audit and its probe do not infringe upon the Charter's rights.

In a recent hearing this past April, the court judge said he would issue a ruling within several months.

If the court ends up ruling in favour of Mac, then it could have a major impact on the way in which Cra conducts its audits of charities, particularly Muslim charities. It could also lead to greater scrutiny of the agency's practices when it comes to how it deals with Muslim organisations and possibly prompt other charities to challenge audits or revocation notices.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has already acknowledged the prevalence of Islamophobia in the auditing of charities, and his government has made attempts to look into complaints made against Cra. In March, the National Security and Intelligence Review Agency (NSIRA), an independent government watchdog, announced its intention to probe Cra's review and analysis division.

"Sunlight is always important to disinfect. Whatever the outcome of this is at the end of the day, I think it's gonna maybe expose some of these issues," said Kutty.

It is unclear what the end result of the court case will be, but regardless of the outcome, the charity has now stalwart support from inside and outside the Muslim community.

More than 130 groups, both Muslim and non-Muslims, signed a letter calling for a moratorium on Cra's audits of Muslim charities.

"We were very encouraged by the fact that the broader charitable sector also came out in support of Mac and called on the government to address systemic Islamophobia within Cra," said Sultan.

The recent court hearings have also been attended by two hundred members of the Canadian Muslim community. There were so many in attendance that the court had to bring in extra chairs due to the influx of attendees, according to Sultan.

"The community certainly went through an evolution and currently is in a very different state than it was 20 years ago, definitely after September 2001," he said.

"It was within the context of that spirit and that developing resolve within the community that Mac felt confident about taking on this challenge. Because we really did feel that the Muslim community was on the same page and was not going to continue to accept discrimination without a fight."

Source: middleeasteye.net

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