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Islamic World News ( 5 Jan 2023, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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Iran Protests Cartoons Of Khamenei In French Satirical Weekly, Charlie Hebdo

New Age Islam News Bureau

05 January 2023

 

The French caricature magazine "Charlie Hebdo" published a caricature of Khamenei. Photo: Twitter/ @bemer_bahar

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• Terror Group Islamic State Calls On Muslims In Singapore And Southeast Asia To Join Them

• Iraqi Kurdistan Has A Diverse Array Of Religious Sites 5,800 Mosques, 145 Churches And 400 other Religious Places: Ministry of Religious Affairs

• New York Machete Attacker Planned Murderous ‘Jihad’, Say Prosecutors

• UN Security Council To Discuss Ben-Gvir's 'Storming' Of Al-Aqsa Mosque

 

Mideast

• Palestinians decry settler attack on Christian cemetery in Jerusalem

• Houthis acknowledge role in tortured inmate’s death

• Netanyahu Defends Ben-Gvir's Visit To Al-Aqsa Mosque

• Orthodox Jewish Newspaper Condemns Ben-Gvir For Storming Al-Aqsa Mosque

• Leader Blasts West’s Fake Support for Women's Rights as Sheer Brazenness

• Israeli military demolishes parts of West Bank hamlet set for eviction

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Southeast Asia

• Indonesia Working Group condemns racist Israeli aggression at Al-Aqsa Mosque

• Islamic State called on Muslims in Singapore to join terror group: Report

• Malaysia asked to explain Pakistani journalist’s deportation

• Sabah schools, non-Muslim religious bodies get RM54m allocation for 2023

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Arab World

• Turkish, Russian forces could ‘expand’ Syria joint patrols

• Syria opposition uneasy after Turkish, Syrian defence ministers meet

• UAE President, Jordan’s King Abdullah discuss fraternal relations

• UAE top diplomat back in Syria as relations continue to thaw

• UAE’s foreign minister meets Syrian president in Damascus

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North America

• Respect For Muslim Students 'Should Have Superseded Academic Freedom' In Class Controversy: College President

• US looks at ways to further target Iranian drone production, White House says

• United States celebrates 75 years of Pakistan-U.S. bilateral relations

• Why Latin Americans are marching in solidarity with Iran’s persecuted protesters

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Europe

• Swedish court convicts man of posing with bodies in Syria

• Iran hands protest note to French ambassador over Khamenei caricatures

• Germany condemns far-right Israeli minister's Al-Aqsa visit

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Pakistan

• Pakistan Warns Israel Against Breaching Sanctity Of Al-Aqsa Mosque

• PTI chief Imran Khan files petition in Lahore HC against disqualification by ECP

• Banned Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan Threatens To Target Top Leaders Of PML-N And PPP

• Efforts afoot to bring TTP to talks, says Interior Minister

• Soleimani believed integrity of Iran is linked to integrity of Pakistan: Ambassador Hosseini

• Dar expects Saudi Arabia, China to beef up forex reserves by Jan-end

• COAS Asim Munir, Saudi defence minister discuss military cooperation

• Al Qaeda-linked group, TTP claim spies’ murder in Khanewal

• Contractor’s house attacked after refusing to pay ransom to ‘TTP member’

• Pakistan nominates President Erdogan for Nobel Peace Prize

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India

• Kashmir-Born, Ahmad Ahanger,  Chief Islamic State Recruiter Designated As Terrorist By Centre

• Forget Devp Issues, Focus On Love Jihad, Says Kateel; Congress Slams Remarks

• Maharashtra Interfaith Marriage Panel Got Sole Muslim Member After Another Nominee Dropped Out

• Karnataka VHP Starts ‘Anti-Love Jihad’ Helpline In Dakshina Kannada, Police To ‘Seek Legal View’

• 50,000 People Can't Be Uprooted Overnight: Supreme Court Stays Haldwani Eviction

• Mass Marriage Venue Hosts 67 Muslim, Hindu Couples

• Intel unit seeks personal info of Aligarh Muslim University students

• Lashkar hand suspected in Rajouri attacks, 1,800 more securitymen posted

• J&K sees bandh, protests over terror strikes

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South Asia

• Afghanistan Raids on Islamic State Hideouts Leave Eight Dead, Says Taliban

• Islamic Emirate Rejects US Official’s Remarks on Its Commitments

• Daesh militants involved in attack on Pakistan Embassy in Kabul killed: Afghan spokesperson

• Uzbekistan, Pakistan to Conduct Technical Survey of Trans-Afghanistan Railway

• UN Security Council To Meet Next Week On Taliban Ban On Female Aid Workers

• Taliban threat dominates China’s policy towards Afghanistan: Report

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Africa

• Yoruba Muslim Scholars Urge Nigerians To Shun Religious Politics

• Death Toll In Somalia Twin Car Bombings Claimed By Al-Shabaab Rises To 35

• Libya condemns the Israeli minister's storming of the courtyards of Al-Aqsa Mosque and considers it a provocation to the feelings of Muslims.

• 2023: Reject politician who discriminate, tamper with your rights – Group tells Muslims

• 35 dead as twin bomb blasts hit Somalia

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau

URL:   https://newageislam.com/islamic-world-news/iran-cartoons-khamenei-charlie-hebdo/d/128806

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Iran Protests Cartoons Of Khamenei In French Satirical Weekly, Charlie Hebdo

 

The French caricature magazine "Charlie Hebdo" published a caricature of Khamenei. Photo: Twitter/ @bemer_bahar

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04 January ,2023

Iran warned France on Wednesday it would respond after “insulting” cartoons depicting Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei were published in the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo.

The weekly had published dozens of cartoons on the same day ridiculing the highest religious and political figure in the Islamic Republic.

The magazine said the cartoons were part of a competition it launched in December in support of the protests triggered by the September 16 death in custody of Mahsa Amini, an Iranian Kurd who was arrested for allegedly violating the country’s strict dress code for women.

“The insulting and indecent act of a French publication in publishing cartoons against the religious and political authority will not go without an effective and decisive response,” tweeted Iran’s Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian.

“We will not allow the French government to go beyond its bounds. They have definitely chosen the wrong path.”

The French magazine said the contest aimed “to support the struggle of Iranians who are fighting for their freedom.”

Iranian authorities say hundreds of people, including members of the security forces, have been killed and thousands arrested in what they generally describe as “riots,” and have accused hostile foreign powers and opposition groups of stoking the unrest.

Charlie Hebdo published the caricatures in an special edition to mark the anniversary of a deadly attack on its Paris office on January 7, 2015 by assailants who said they were acting on behalf of al-Qaeda to avenge the magazine’s decision to publish cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed.

Source: Al Arabiya

Please click the following URL to read the text of the original story:

https://english.alarabiya.net/News/middle-east/2023/01/04/Iran-protests-cartoons-of-Khamenei-in-French-satirical-weekly

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Terror Group Islamic State Calls On Muslims In Singapore And Southeast Asia To Join Them

 

An Islamic State fighter raising its militant black flag over a building in Syria. (File photo: AFP/Welayat Raqa)

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Hannah Martens

January 05, 2023

Terror group Islamic State (IS), also known as Daesh, has called upon Muslims in Singapore, along with other Asian states, to come forward and join them in an audiotape released on Sep. 13, 2022.

In an annual threat assessment report on counter-terrorist trends and analyses put out by the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies (RSIS) on Jan. 3, RSIS dean Kumar Ramakrishna expressed concerns about the contents of the audiotape, which was released by the pro-IS Al Furqan media.

In it, he said the IS called on "Muslims in Singapore, along with those in other Asian states, to come forward to join it".

IS spokesperson Abu Umar al-Muhajir claimed in the audiotape that Muslims in Singapore, Philippines, Malaysia, Indonesia and India are "especially oppressed and humiliated in this region", warning that if they do not "adhere to Islam and join the ranks of ISIS", they will "remain oppressed and humiliated".

Ramakrishnan further highlighted a suicide bombing linked to pro-IS militant group Jemaah Ansharut Daulah (JAD) in December 2022, which killed a police officer in Bandung, Indonesia, saying that "continued vigilance" is needed to safeguard societies against the evolving threat of terrorism and extremism in Southeast Asia and beyond.

Threat from terrorist groups continue to be "high"

In a separate segment, analysts Kalicharan Veera Singam and Abigail Leong drew attention to the Singapore's Internal Security Department's  (ISD) assessment that the threat from Islamist extremism and terrorism continued to be "high" in 2022.

Networks like IS, Al-Qaeda and Jemaah Islamiah remain "resilient" as they show "tenacity and adaptability" despite operational and organisational setbacks, the analysts wrote.

However, these groups' ability to operate and recruit in Singapore or plot an attack has been limited.

That being said, cases of self-radicalisation have continued to be detected by local authorities in 2022.

Since 2015, 45 self-radicalised individuals have been dealt with under the Internal Security Act (ISA). Although figures have dropped slightly in recent years, from 17 cases in 2016 to one case each in 2021 and 2022, such cases continue to persist.

The analysts also posited that the internet continues to play a vital role in sustaining the global Jihadist movement.

In April 2022, authorities detained a 29-year-old Singaporean man under the ISA after he prepared to travel overseas to conflict zones to take up arms. Online sermons of foreign radical preachers had allegedly radicalised the man, who believed it was his religious obligation to fight alongside the Black Flag Army against the "enemies of Islam".

"The 'cyber jihad' waged on borderless virtual battlefield, is a potential 'security minefield' in a highly digitally connected society like Singapore," stated the report.

Need to stay alert to potential threats

While there is no specific or credible threat to Singapore, the analysts say there is still a need to stay alert to any potential threats.

With the easing of Covid-19 related travel restrictions and cross-border travel resuming, this could prompt a surge in terrorist movement and activities in Singapore, including around Southeast Asia, they said.

"Singapore continues to feature in the propaganda of Islamist terror groups such as IS and remain a high-value target for both terrorist organisations and self-radicalised lone actors."

Race and religion as potential weak points

The report cites race and religion issues as potential fault lines in Singapore that radicals of any creed can manipulate.

The report mentions the Australian national Andrew Gosling, who threw a bottle from his condominium towards a group of Malay Muslims gathered at a barbeque area below. His actions led to him killing an elderly Muslim man, and Gosling was sentenced to five and a half years in jail. Prosecutors described Gosling's actions as demonstrating hostility toward Muslims and being religiously aggravated.

Another incident the report brought up was the senior polytechnic lecturer who made racist remarks towards a mixed-raced couple where the male was of Indian ethnicity and the female was Chinese.

These incidents might be isolated and one-off, but the report stressed the importance of maintaining tolerance and harmony in Singapore's society.

"Singapore continues to place great importance on maintaining inter-communal harmony and social cohesion, in order to deny space for dices and extremist ideologies to take root in society."

Source: Mother Ship

Please click the following URL to read the text of the original story:

https://mothership.sg/2023/01/islamic-state-muslims-spore-join-is-rsis-report/

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Iraqi Kurdistan Has A Diverse Array Of Religious Sites 5,800 Mosques, 145 Churches And 400 other Religious Places: Ministry of Religious Affairs

 

Christians in a church in Iraqi Kurdistan. Photo: Youtube

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January 4, 2023

HEWLÊR-Erbil, Iraqi Kurdistan region,— Iraqi Kurdistan region has a diverse array of religious sites, including 5,800 mosques, 145 churches, and 400 other places of worship. The ninth cabinet has created a plan to renovate and restore these places of worship in Sulaimani, Lalish, and other locations in Duhok, according to the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) website.

The Kurdistan region is home to seven officially recognized religions, which are licensed by the Ministry of Endowments and Religious Affairs of KRG.

The spokesperson for the Ministry of Endowments and Religious Affairs, Nabaz Ismail, stated that according to Law No. 5 of 2015, there are seven officially recognized religions in Iraqi Kurdistan that are regulated by the KRG. These religions are represented within the Ministry of Endowments and Religious Affairs.

There are a total of 5,800 mosques in the Kurdish region, with 3,200 of them being used for Friday prayers, the spokesperson said.

According to Ismail, both Christians and Yazidis have their own general directorates and affairs within the ministry, but they are still part of the Ministry of Endowments and Religious Affairs and fall under the jurisdiction of the general directorate. He also noted that the recognized religions in the Kurdistan region, including Islam, Christianity, Yazidi, Baha’i, Sabi’a Mandai, Judaism, and Zoroastrianism.

All of the recognized religions in the Kurdistan region are active and have a strong relationship with each other, supporting and benefiting from each other’s presence, Ismail added.

The ninth cabinet has developed a comprehensive plan to repair various religious sites, with a particular emphasis on the shrine of Sultan Muzaffar al-Din in Erbil, Ahmadi Sheikh Mosque, and the Great Mosque in Sulaimani. In addition to this, there are ongoing restoration projects at the Lalish base and other religious sites in the Duhok province.

In 2016 the Kurdish religious ministry said the number of mosques in Kurdistan has increased from 5,010 in 2013 to 5,337 in 2016. Most of the newly established mosques located in Erbil Province.

According to KRG government data in 2018, philanthropists have built over 99% of mosques in Iraqi Kurdistan.

In contrast to the high percentage of mosques in the region that were funded by philanthropists, only 1% of the more than 7,000 schools in the Kurdistan region received funding from philanthropists.

Source: E Kurd

Please click the following URL to read the text of the original story:

https://ekurd.net/iraqi-kurdistan-5800-mosques-2023-01-04

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New York Machete Attacker Planned Murderous ‘Jihad’, Say Prosecutors

 

The charges were brought against Trevor Bickford, who police say attacked three officers just outside the Times Square security zone where New Yorkers gathered by the tens of thousands on New Year’s Eve. — Reuters file pic

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05 Jan 2023

NEW YORK, Jan 5 — The machete-wielding man who allegedly attacked police officers near Times Square on New Year’s Eve was motivated by Islamist extremism, New York City prosecutors said Wednesday.

Trevor Bickford, 19, travelled to New York “to kill people and carry out Jihad,” the Manhattan District Attorney’s office told a state court.

Bickford — from Wells, a small coastal town in Maine — was remanded in custody Wednesday at the government’s request following his arraignment on assault and attempted murder charges.

Assistant DA Lucy Nicholas told the hearing that Bickford “specifically travelled” to New York via Boston with the intention of murdering government employees.

He is accused of attacking three officers shortly after 10:00pm just outside the Times Square security zone where tens of thousands had gathered to celebrate the New Year.

Bickford allegedly hit two officers on the head, without causing life-threatening injury, before another officer used his service weapon to wound him in the shoulder.

Following his arrest, Bickford told detectives that he shouted “Allahu Akbar” before the attack, according to the prosecutors’ complaint.

“I walked up and hit him over the head with a kukri. I charged another officer but dropped the knife and I tried to get the police officer’s gun but couldn’t,” Bickford told police.

Nicholas said Bickford also stated that “all government officials” were a target for him “as they cannot be proper Muslims because the United States government supports Israel.”

CNN, citing anonymous sources, reported that Bickford was carrying a diary in which he had expressed his desire to join the Afghan Taliban and die as a martyr.

The FBI had questioned him in mid-December after one of his relatives warned the bureau of his jihadist statements, NBC News reported. — AFP

Source: Malay Mail

Please click the following URL to read the text of the original story:

https://www.malaymail.com/news/world/2023/01/05/new-york-machete-attacker-planned-murderous-jihad-say-prosecutors/48487

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UN Security Council to discuss Ben-Gvir's 'storming' of Al-Aqsa Mosque

 

Al_Aqsa_Mosque

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January 4, 2023

The UN Security Council is to hold an emergency session to discuss the desecration of Al-Aqsa Mosque by far-right Israeli National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir. The session was called for by the UAE and China on behalf of the Palestinian and Jordanian UN missions, and could take place tomorrow, a diplomat told the Times of Israel.

The UAE, which normalised relations with Israel in 2020 in the Abraham Accords, condemned "the storming of Al-Aqsa Mosque courtyard by an Israeli minister under the protection of Israeli forces." It went on to call on the Israeli authorities "to assume responsibility for reducing escalation and instability in the region."

Jordan's foreign ministry also summoned Israel's ambassador. "Jordan condemns in the severest of terms the storming of Al-Aqsa mosque and violation of its sanctity," he was told by the ministry.

The Noble Sanctuary of Al-Aqsa is the third holiest site in the world for Muslims. Jews, on the other hand, refer to the area as the Temple Mount. Ben-Gvir stormed the mosque complex yesterday with illegal Jewish settlers under police protection, a day after he announced that he was postponing the visit due to warnings about it creating unrest.

The far-right politician's visit was condemned by Palestinians as an "unprecedented provocation". Israeli President Isaac Herzog warned in November that "the whole world is concerned" about Ben-Gvir's extremist views.

Israel occupied East Jerusalem, where Al-Aqsa is located, during the 1967 Six Day War. The occupation state annexed the entire city in 1980, a move never recognised by the international community.

Source: Middle East Monitor

Please click the following URL to read the text of the original story:

https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/20230104-un-security-council-to-discuss-ben-gvirs-storming-of-al-aqsa-mosque/

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Mideast


Palestinians decry settler attack on Christian cemetery in Jerusalem

Abdel Raouf Arnaout and Nour Abu Aisha 

04.01.2023

JERUSALEM

Palestinians on Wednesday condemned an Israeli settler attack on a Christian cemetery in occupied East Jerusalem.

Stone graves were destroyed with crosses toppled at the Protestant cemetery on Mount Zion, where Christians believe Jesus's Last Supper took place.

"This is not only a cowardly act, but also disgusting, and it is rejected by any human being,” Hosam Naoum, the Anglican Archbishop in Jerusalem, told a press conference.

“This attack shows a clear hate speech against Christians in the city of Jerusalem, which we completely reject,” he added.

According to the Evangelical Episcopal Church in East Jerusalem, the attack was carried out by two young men on Jan. 1.

Naoum called on the Israeli authorities to bring the perpetrators of the cemetery attack to justice.

"We hope that this matter will not be repeated, because Jerusalem is a city of holy sites,” he added.

Israeli police said an investigation has been launched into the attack.

The Chief Justice of Palestine, Mahmoud al-Habash, said the attack reflects the “racist mentality” of Israel.

“This attack represents the racist and barbaric mentality of the Israeli state, which does not differentiate between the living and the dead,” he added in a statement.

Palestinian group Hamas, which rules the Gaza Strip, held the Israeli government responsible “for the repercussions of the Israeli extremists' attack on the Christian cemetery”.

Source: Anadolu Agency

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://www.aa.com.tr/en/middle-east/palestinians-decry-settler-attack-on-christian-cemetery-in-jerusalem/2779770

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Houthis acknowledge role in tortured inmate’s death

SAEED AL-BATATI

January 04, 2023

AL-MUKALLA, Yemen: The Iran-backed Houthi militia has admitted that its personnel in Yemen’s northern province of Saada kidnapped, imprisoned, and brutally tortured to death a young man, in a rare acknowledgment of human rights violations in its detention facilities.

The group said that four men who acted “on their own” seized a young grocer, named Ibrahim Yahiya Hashool Al-Thamali, from the Sahar district of Saada, and brutally tortured him in captivity, leading to his death.

Yemeni activists and the victim’s relatives shared a video of Al-Thamali’s semi-naked body, with multiple signs of torture, saying that the man was kidnapped from his place of work, imprisoned, and brutally tortured by the Houthis before his death.

Hussein Al-Ezzi, the Houthi deputy foreign minister, accused “infiltrators” in the militia of human rights violations committed against civilians.

Al-Ezzi’s attempts to absolve his organization of abusing captives and kidnapping civilians were met with outrage from Yemeni activists on social media, who accused the Houthis of routinely torturing inmates to death.

“When will you awaken from your slumber and acknowledge that your way of governing is flawed and that your conduct toward people is unacceptable?” wrote Ibrahim Ismail, a Sanaa-based academic.

“Ibrahim Al-Thamali is one of the hundreds of innocent Yemeni youths who have been slaughtered unjustly on a daily basis since the seizure of the capital, Sanaa, by an evil gang,” Mohammed Anam, a Yemeni journalist, said, adding that the Houthis acknowledged murdering the young man out of fear that his strong clan might revolt against their rule.

The murder of Al-Thamali has once again attracted attention to maltreatment in Houthi detention centers in regions under their control, particularly in Saada, the militia’s stronghold.

Mutahar Al-Badhiji, executive director of the Yemeni Coalition to Monitor Human Rights Violations, told Arab News that last year, 500 Yemenis were kidnapped by the Houthis from areas under their control, 50 were forcibly disappeared, and 40 were tortured.

Al-Badhiji said that Houthi torture tactics include sleep deprivation, showering captives with cold water, particularly in the winter, hanging by the feet, beating with batons and electric wires, and isolating prisoners.

Muammar Al-Eryani, Yemen’s information minister, said the Houthis have kidnapped thousands of Yemenis, including politicians, journalists, activists, and ordinary citizens, and disappeared them while subjecting them to brutal torture, resulting in the deaths of hundreds and permanent disabilities of many others.

He urged international rights organizations and mediators to identify and condemn the Houthis for their crimes and to exert pressure on the militia to free all captives.

Source: Arab News

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://www.arabnews.com/node/2226816/middle-east

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Netanyahu defends Ben-Gvir's visit to Al-Aqsa Mosque

January 4, 2023

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu defended on Tuesday what the Palestinian Authority has called the "invasion" of Al-Aqsa Mosque by his National Security Minister, Itamar Ben-Gvir, Al-Quds has reported.

Nevertheless, an official in Netanyahu's office said that the newly re-elected prime minister is fully committed to the site's decades-old status quo allowing only Muslim worship there. The official said that Ben-Gvir's tour around the courtyards of Al-Aqsa Mosque complied with an arrangement that allows non-Muslims to visit but not pray.

The official said that several Israeli ministers have entered Al-Aqsa Mosque during the past few years, including former National Security Minister Gilad Erdan. "Claims of a change in the status quo are groundless…" insisted Netanyahu's office. "Hamas will not dictate what we shall do."

However, Ben-Gvir's visit to the Noble Sanctuary of Al-Aqsa prompted local, regional and international criticism, even from close allies of Israel.

"The United States stands firmly for preservation of the status quo with respect to the holy sites in Jerusalem," said a National Security Council spokesperson. "Any unilateral action that jeopardises the status quo is unacceptable."

Source: Middle East Monitor

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/20230104-netanyahu-defends-ben-gvirs-visit-to-al-aqsa-mosque/

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Orthodox Jewish newspaper condemns Ben-Gvir for storming Al-Aqsa Mosque

4 January 2023

A front-page condemnation by a newspaper affiliated with Israel's religious Orthodox community on Wednesday exposed divisions over the actions of Israeli far-right National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir, who stormed Al-Aqsa Mosque's courtyards a day earlier.

The editorial on Yated Neeman, a newspaper that caters to Israel's Hasidic community, was titled: "Provocation on the Temple Mount, world condemnation blitz."

Yated Neeman wrote that Ben-Gvir's visit was an "unnecessary and dangerous provocation" that also resulted in global condemnation.

The newspaper is closely affiliated with the United Torah Judaism (UTJ) political alliance, which signed a coalition agreement with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's Likud party last week.

The editorial said that storming Al-Aqsa Mosque would "unnecessarily endanger the lives of Jews".

"What value does a 'victory lap' of a few minutes in front of the cameras have - apart from the hope of a media gain?" the newspaper said, adding that "these are futile acts full of folly".

The paper said Ben-Gvir's actions played into the hands of groups such as Hamas, who would use such "futile and foolish actions" to convince Palestinians that Jews were planning to destroy Al-Aqsa Mosque.

Yated Neeman also pointed out that Ben-Gvir visited the site despite "strict prohibitions" in Israeli laws on access to Al-Aqsa, known as Temple Mount to Jews.

Following the condemnation, Israeli lawmaker Moshe Gafni, a member of the UJT coalition, said, "Nothing was gained from this, except taunting the whole world."

Gafni added that not entering the site did not mean Jews were relinquishing their rights over the site.

"The fact that you don't go there doesn't mean it's not mine, on the contrary, it's the Holy of Holies," he said.

Ben-Gvir's visit also drew condemnation from Sephardi Chief Rabbi Yitzhak Yosef.

"As a minister representing the government of Israel, you should be acting according to Chief Rabbinate instructions, which have long forbidden visiting the Temple Mount," said Yosef.

Al-Aqsa Mosque is the third holiest site in Islam and the site of the Jewish temple destroyed by the Romans in 70 CE.

Source: Middle East Eye

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://www.middleeasteye.net/news/aqsa-mosque-ben-gvir-storming-orthodox-jewish-newspaper-condemns

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Leader Blasts West’s Fake Support for Women's Rights as Sheer Brazenness

2023-January-4

Ayatollah Khamenei made the remarks in Tehran on Wednesday while addressing a group of Iranian women in the run-up to the celebrations commemorating the birthday anniversary of Hazrat Fatemeh Zahra (SA), the beloved daughter of Prophet Mohammad (PBUH).

Ayatollah Khamenei strongly dismissed the Western governments' bogus support for women’s rights, stressing that fake gestures come despite the fact that women and girls are subjected to different forms of abuse.

"The absolute brazenness of the West comes into sight when it presents itself as the forerunner of advocacy for women’s right, whilst it is responsible for flurries of blows dealt to the dignity and prestige of women. This could be explained as utter shamelessness," he added.

Ayatollah Khamenei pointed out that one would feel deeply ashamed to know about last year’s social movement, in which Western women publicized their experiences of sexual abuse or sexual harassment.

“This is what they suggest by women’s rights and freedom. This is by no means freedom, but rather utter slavery,” the Supreme Leader said.

Ayatollah Khamenei noted that the intermingling of men and women in Western societies, contrary to the propagated notion, has failed to diminish men’s carnal desires and has instead amplified it, resulting in women and girls being sexually harassed on streets, in workplaces, educational centers and even in military facilities.

“Sex trade, sexual slavery, violation of all moral and humanitarian principles, and legalization of issues that are forbidden in all divine religions” are now widely prevalent across the West, Ayatollah Khamenei pointed out.

He noted that Western women are being “alienated,” describing the Western capitalist system as a patriarchal one.

The Supreme Leader, meantime, criticized Western capitalism, saying people's capital has more value than humanity in the economic and political system in Western countries.

Ayatollah Khamenei said that men, therefore, have priority over women in terms of capitalism because they can earn more money than women, Ayatollah Khamenei argued.

He also stressed he importance of employing efficient, experienced, knowledgeable, and wise women at various levels of Iran’s decision-making apparatus and expressed his satisfaction with the high number of women scholars and scientists in the Islamic Republic.

Ayatollah Khamenei, meantime, referred to motherhood and home-lovingness as the two main and primary roles of each and every woman.

He pointed out that caring and reformist thinkers have voiced serious concerns over family disintegration in Western countries, but the problem is getting complicated so quickly that nothing could be done either to stop or remedy it.

Ayatollah Khamenei termed hijab as a religious and inevitable duty for all Muslim women, emphasizing that no Iranian woman should be labeled as non-religious or anti-revolutionary if she fails to fully honor the obligation.

Source: Fars News Agency

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://www.farsnews.ir/en/news/14011014000827/Leader-Blass-Wes%E2%80%99s-Fake-Sppr-fr-Wmen's-Righs-as-Sheer-Brazenness

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Israeli military demolishes parts of West Bank hamlet set for eviction

04 January ,2023

The Israeli military has demolished homes, water tanks and olive orchards in two Palestinian villages in the southern West Bank where some residents are at risk of imminent expulsion, residents and activists said Wednesday.

One of the villages whose structures were demolished on Tuesday is part of an arid area of the West Bank known as Masafer Yatta, which the Israeli military has designated as a live-fire training zone.

Some 1,000 residents of the eight hamlets that make up Masafer Yatta are slated for expulsion, an order Israel’s Supreme Court upheld in May after a two-decade legal battle.

According to images shared by local residents and activists, armored vehicles escorted construction equipment to the demolitions in the villages of Ma’in and Shaab al-Butum, which is part of Masafer Yatta.

Guy Butavia, an activist with the Israeli rights group Taayush, said the army razed five homes, animal pens and cisterns, spilling the contents of people’s lives out onto the cold desert.

“They come and demolish your house. It’s winter. It’s cold. What’s next? Where are they going to sleep that night?” he said.

Most residents of the area have remained in place since the ruling, even as Israeli security forces periodically roll in to demolish structures. But they could be forced out at any time.

Local officials and rights group said Israeli defense officials have informed them that they would soon forcibly remove more than 1,000 residents from the area.

“There is a genuine concern that a grave war crime will be committed,” said Roni Pelli, a spokeswoman for ACRI.

COGAT, the Israeli defense body that deals with Palestinian civilian affairs, declined to comment.

Both villages are in the 60 percent of the occupied West Bank known as Area C, where the Israeli military exercises full control under interim peace agreements reached with the Palestinians in the 1990s. Palestinian structures built without military permits — which residents say are nearly impossible to obtain — are at risk of demolition.

Tuesday’s demolition comes against the backdrop of a new government in Israel, headed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, where proponents of Israel’s West Bank settlement enterprise hold influential portfolios and are expected to both drive up settlement building and suppress construction for Palestinians in Area C.

The families living in Masafer Yatta say they’ve herded their sheep and goats across the area long before Israel captured the West Bank in the 1967 Mideast war.

But Israel says the nomadic Arab Bedouin had no permanent structures when the military declared the area a firing and training zone in the early 1980s. In November 1999, security forces expelled some 700 villagers and destroyed homes and cisterns.

A twenty-year legal battle began the following year that ended in 2022 with the Israeli Supreme Court denying an additional hearing in October over the expulsion.

Source: Al Arabiya

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://english.alarabiya.net/News/middle-east/2023/01/04/Israeli-military-demolishes-parts-of-West-Bank-hamlet-set-for-eviction

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Southeast Asia

 

Indonesia Working Group condemns racist Israeli aggression at Al-Aqsa Mosque

January 4, 2023

Indonesia's Working Group for Al-Aqsa condemned on Wednesday the "racist aggression" at Al-Aqsa Mosque in occupied Jerusalem by Israeli Minister of National Security Itamar Ben-Gvir.

"This unjustified provocation constituted a gross violation of human rights principles and must be confronted," said the group. Members also slammed the composition of the cabinet formed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and their avowed commitment to the colonial settlement of the occupied Palestinian territories.

With the inclusion of notorious far-right extremists such as Ben-Gvir, Bezalel Smotrich and Avi Maoz, the Indonesian group warned of an escalation of Israel's ethnic cleansing of the Palestinian people, particularly in occupied Jerusalem.

"We call on world leaders to stand against this new racist and xenophobic regime, which poses a dangerous threat to regional and international peace. Moreover, the Palestinians need to make every effort to achieve national unity."

Source: Middle East Monitor

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/20230104-indonesia-working-group-condemns-racist-israeli-aggression-at-al-aqsa-mosque/

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Islamic State called on Muslims in Singapore to join terror group: Report

Vanessa Lim

04 Jan 2023

SINGAPORE: The Islamic State group in September 2022 called on Muslims in Singapore - along with those in other Asian states - to come forward to join the terror group, according to a report published by the S Rajaratnam School of International Studies (RSIS) on Tuesday (Jan 3).

In an annual threat assessment as part of RSIS' regularly published Counter Terrorist Trends and Analyses, the think-tank's dean Kumar Ramakrishna said to "take heed" of an audiotape released last year by Islamic State's media affiliate Al-Furqan.

In the 36-minute recording, Islamic State spokesman Abu Umar al-Muhajir called on Muslims around the world to join the ranks of the militant group.

He "especially" called on Muslims in East Asia - from the Philippines, Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, India and other countries - to join Islamic State since they were "especially oppressed and humiliated in this region", according to a transcript by the Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center in Israel.

Abu Umar also called on Islamic State operatives in East Asia to fight against "communists" and "infidels" in their countries.

RSIS' 116-page report noted that Singapore's Internal Security Department (ISD) had assessed that the threat from "Islamist extremism and terrorism" - both from organised groups based overseas and self-radicalised lone actors based locally - remained high in 2022.

In a section focused on Singapore, RSIS analysts Kalicharan Veera Singam and Abigail Leong described the Internet as continuing to play a "pivotal" role in sustaining the momentum of the global jihadist movement.

"This ‘cyber jihad’, waged on a borderless virtual battlefield, is a potential security minefield in a highly digitally connected society like Singapore," they wrote.

Developments in the region and further abroad may also reverberate closer to home, they said, citing how the Taliban's return to power in Afghanistan has stirred lingering concerns of a resurgence in jihadist activity in Southeast Asia.

"This is especially given the historical nexus between the Taliban, Al-Qaeda and regional networks like JI (Jemaah Islamiyah)," they said.

"More than a year on, however, there is limited evidence of collaboration between the abovementioned terrorist groups, or of Southeast Asian jihadists performing (migration) to the Afghan theatre."

While the RSIS report said there were no specific or credible terrorist threats to Singapore currently, it warned that the country continues to feature in the propaganda of terror groups like Islamic State, and remains a high-value target for both terrorist organisations and self-radicalised lone actors.

The report's authors added that issues around race and religion remain potential fault lines in Singapore, which could be manipulated by radicals.

They pointed to the case of Australian national Andrew Gosling, who was sentenced to jail in April last year for throwing a wine bottle from his condominium toward a group of Malay Muslims gathered on the ground floor, and killing an elderly man in the process. His actions were described by prosecutors as demonstrating religious hostility.

Last month, a former polytechnic lecturer was also sentenced to jail for racist remarks against an interracial couple.

Source: Channel News Asia

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://www.channelnewsasia.com/singapore/islamic-state-called-muslims-singapore-join-terror-group-report-3182296

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Malaysia asked to explain Pakistani journalist’s deportation

January 5, 2023

KARACHI: Reporters Without Borders (RSF) has called upon Malaysian authorities to explain how a Pakistani journalist who had been living as a refugee in Malaysia for years — after allegedly being kidnapped and tortured by an intelligence agency — came to be deported back to Pakistan.

RSF also called on the Pakistani government to immediately state where the journalist is now.

According to an RSF press release, Syed Fawad Ali Shah, also known as Fawad Shah, disappeared in Malaysia on Aug 23.

Malaysia’s home affairs minister acknowledged that he was deported back to Pakistan in August at the request of the Pakistan High Commission in Kuala Lumpur.

The Malaysian authorities said they had deported Mr Shah because the Pakistani authorities told them he was a police officer who was the subject of disciplinary proceedings.

But this is not true, RSF said, adding that Mr Shah has never been a police officer and he had in fact been residing in a completely legal fashion in Malaysia under the refugee status granted him since 2014 by the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, because he had previously been kidnapped for his work.

It said Mr Shah was held for three-and-a-half months in a cellar and was tortured, probably as a result of his investigative stories about enforced disappearances.

“Due to the fault of the Malaysian authorities, no one knows Syed Fawad Ali Shah’s current whereabouts and in what circumstance he survives,” said Daniel Bastard, the head of RSF’s Asia-Pacific desk.

Source: Dawn

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://www.dawn.com/news/1729989/malaysia-asked-to-explain-pakistani-journalists-deportation

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Sabah schools, non-Muslim religious bodies get RM54m allocation for 2023

05 Jan 2023

KOTA KINABALU, Jan 5 — The Sabah government has allocated grants totalling RM54.05 million to schools and non-Muslim religious bodies in this year's state budget, an increase of RM7.05 million compared with last year's allocation.

Chief Minister, Datuk Seri Hajiji Noor, said this demonstrated that the Sabah government was very sensitive to the needs of the people and serious in assisting them irrespective of race or religion.

He said this in his speech text, delivered by Deputy Chief Minister, Datuk Seri Dr Joachim Gunsalam, who is also Sabah Industrial Development Minister, at the presentation ceremony of lion heads (for lion dance) to various associations and temples in the state, here today.

This year, the Sabah government is presenting lion heads worth RM1.5 million, which will be distributed through the respective state and parliamentary constituencies.

Hajiji said the presentation of the lion heads to the Chinese community in the state, in conjunction with the Chinese New Year celebration, showed the commitment of the Sabah government to continue supporting and assisting the multi-racial community.

“The state government will always assist the people, of all races and religions, in ensuring that they will be able to celebrate their respective celebrations,” he said, adding that the Sabah government is committed to the policy of equality and fairness in all aspects.

Hajiji also hoped that the assistance would further boost the spirit of the Chinese New Year celebrations and, at the same time, continue to nurture the spirit of camaraderie and unity among the multi-racial and religious people in the state.

Source: Malay Mail

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://www.malaymail.com/news/malaysia/2023/01/05/sabah-schools-non-muslim-religious-bodies-get-rm54m-allocation-for-2023/48593

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Arab World

 

Turkish, Russian forces could ‘expand’ Syria joint patrols

04 January ,2023

Turkey’s defense minister said Wednesday that Turkish and Russian troops could “expand” their joint patrols in northern Syria as part of efforts to bring security to the region.

Hulusi Akar did not elaborate on the plans, which come days after he held talks with his Syrian and Russian counterparts in a surprise meeting in Moscow. Akar’s talks with Syria’s Mahmoud Abbas marked the first ministerial level meeting between Turkey and Syria since relations broke down with the start of the Syrian civil war more than 11 years ago.

“We can expand the joint patrols with Russia in (the) north of Syria,” Akar told a group of reporters when asked about his discussions in Moscow, according to a defense ministry statement.

More talks between Russian, Syrian and Turkish officials would follow, Akar said, adding: “our hope is that this process will continue in a reasonable, logical and successful manner, and the fight against terrorism will be successful.”

Turkey has been threatening to carry out a new military offensive into Syria against Kurdish militants it has blamed for a deadly Nov. 13 bomb attack in Istanbul.

Moscow, which has been pressing for a reconciliation between Ankara and Damascus, has made clear that it opposes a new Turkish invasion. It was not immediately clear whether Russia may have proposed expanded joint patrols between Turkish and Russian forces to avert a new incursion.

Turkey and Syria have been standing on opposing sides of the Syrian conflict, with Turkey backing rebels trying to oust Syrian President Bashar Assad. Damascus for its part, has denounced Turkey’s hold over stretches of territory in northern Syria which were seized in a series of military incursions since 2016 to drive away Kurdish militant groups.

Source: Al Arabiya

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://english.alarabiya.net/News/middle-east/2023/01/04/Turkish-Russian-forces-could-expand-Syria-joint-patrols

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Syria opposition uneasy after Turkish, Syrian defence ministers meet

04 January ,2023

Syria’s political and armed opposition are urging their decade-long backer Turkey to reaffirm its support for their cause, after the highest-level talks in public between Ankara and the Damascus government since the Syrian war began in 2011.

Turkey has provided steadfast support and a home base for political opponents of the regime of President Bashar al-Assad while training and fighting alongside armed rebels against Syrian government troops.

But the Turkish and Syrian defense ministers met in Moscow on December 28, with migration and Kurdish militants based on Syria’s border with Turkey on the agenda, according to a Turkish official.

That has prompted unease within Syria’s armed and political opposition.

The head of Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, a hardline insurgent group, said in a recorded video address published on Monday that talks between Syria, Russia and Turkey were a “dangerous deviation.”

Ahrar al-Sham, another extremist faction, said that while it “understood the situation of our Turkish ally,” it “cannot even think of reconciling” with the Syrian government.

The Syrian National Coalition, an opposition umbrella organization, met Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu on Tuesday.

He had assured it of Turkey’s continued support “to Syrian opposition institutions and Syrians in the opposition-held areas,” said Abdurrahman Mustafa, the head of the Turkey-backed opposition’s “interim government.”

A senior Turkish official told Reuters that it had seen the “reactions” of opposition factions to the meeting but that “Turkey determines its own policy.”

“It is unrealistic to expect an immediate result from the first meeting of ministers,” the official said.

Turkish-Syrian rapprochement seemed unthinkable earlier in the conflict, which has killed hundreds of thousands of people, drawn in numerous foreign powers and splintered Syria into various zones of influence.

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan has called Assad a terrorist and said there could be no peace in Syria with him in office, while Assad has called Erdogan a thief for “stealing” Syrian land.

Source: Al Arabiya

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://english.alarabiya.net/News/middle-east/2023/01/04/Syria-opposition-uneasy-after-Turkish-Syrian-defense-ministers-meet

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UAE President, Jordan’s King Abdullah discuss fraternal relations

05 January ,2023

UAE President Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan and Jordan’s King Abdullah II on Wednesday discussed cooperation between their countries, state press agency WAM reported, during a visit by the king to Sheikh Al Shati Palace in Abu Dhabi.

“During the meeting, the UAE President welcomed the Jordanian King and exchanged with him New Year greetings and prayed to Allah Almighty for further progress and prosperity for the two countries, region and the world,” WAM reported on Wednesday.

The King of Jordan arrived in the country on Wednesday on a “fraternal visit” and was welcomed into the UAE by Sheikh Mohamed and a number of Sheikhs.

The UAE and Jordan have a history of strong ties, with Jordan’s King Abdullah regularly visiting the Emirates.

Source: Al Arabiya

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://english.alarabiya.net/News/gulf/2023/01/05/-UAE-President-Jordan-s-King-Abdullah-discuss-fraternal-relations

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UAE top diplomat back in Syria as relations continue to thaw

04 January ,2023

The United Arab Emirates’ top diplomat met with Syrian President Bashar Assad on Wednesday, his second visit to Damascus as relations continue to thaw between the two countries.

According to a statement from Assad’s office, he and UAE’s Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan discussed boosting economic ties between their nations. It quoted Assad as saying that the restoration of ties between the two countries is in the interest of regional stability.

The UAE’s state-run WAM news agency said they also discussed developments in Syria and the region, with Sheikh Abdullah expressing support for a political solution to end the conflict. The UAE foreign minister was joined by a delegation of economic and security officials.

Sheikh Abdullah’s visit is the second to Syria since his first trip to the war-torn country in November 2021.

It also comes 10 months after Assad paid a rare visit to the UAE — his first in several years to a foreign country other than his allies Russia and Iran. The UAE reopened its embassy in Syria in 2018.

Syria was expelled from the 22-member Arab League and boycotted by its neighbors after its uprising turned conflict broke out in 2011.

Hundreds of thousands of people have been killed in the war, which displaced half of Syria’s pre-war population of 23 million. Large parts of Syria have been destroyed, and reconstruction will cost tens of billions of dollars.

With the war mostly stalemated in recent years and after Assad regained control over much of Syria’s territory thanks to military assistance from Russia, Iran, and the Lebanese militant Hezbollah group, Arab countries have inched closer toward restoring ties with the Syrian leader.

Source: Al Arabiya

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://english.alarabiya.net/News/gulf/2023/01/04/UAE-top-diplomat-back-in-Syria-as-relations-continue-to-thaw

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UAE’s foreign minister meets Syrian president in Damascus

January 05, 2023

LONDON: The UAE’s Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed and Syrian President Bashar Assad met on Wednesday and discussed ways in which bilateral relations might be enhanced through cooperation at all levels to serve the interests of both countries, the Emirates News Agency reported.

The meeting took place in the Syrian capital, Damascus, during the Emirati minister’s official visit to Syria. He passed on greetings from Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed, the UAE’s president, and Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al-Maktoum, the vice president, prime minister and ruler of Dubai, along with their wishes for stability, progress and prosperity for Syria and its people.

The Syrian president in turn sent his greetings to the Emirati leaders, along with his best wishes for the further prosperity, development and progress of their country.

In addition to bilateral relations, the two officials discussed a number of regional and international issues of mutual concern, including the latest developments in Syria and the wider Middle East.

Sheikh Abdullah affirmed his country’s “commitment and keenness to support efforts made to find a political solution to the Syrian crisis that restores the security, stability and unity of Syria and meets the aspirations of the brotherly Syrian people for development and prosperity,” the news agency reported.

Source: Arab News

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://www.arabnews.com/node/2226951/middle-east

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North America

 

Respect for Muslim students 'should have superseded academic freedom' in class controversy: College president

January 4, 2023

The president of a small liberal arts college in Minnesota issued an apology for offending Muslim students after they were shown depictions of the Prophet Muhammad.

Hamline University in Minnesota is at the center of a religious firestorm after a professor shared "two depictions of the Prophet Muhammad in class," according to The Oracle, Hamline’s student newspaper.

One of the paintings by medieval Islamic scholar Rashid al-Din showed Muhammad receiving divine revelation from the angel Gabriel.

But Hamline University President Fayneese Miller went viral on Twitter for her letter to the campus in December apologizing for the incident.

"It is not our intent to place blame; rather, it is our intent to note that in the classroom incident—where an image forbidden for Muslims to look upon was projected on a screen and left for many minutes—respect for the observant Muslim students in that classroom should have superseded academic freedom."

Miller acknowledged that many subjects contain controversial subject material but said that kindness for others was more important than academics.

"Academic freedom is very important, but it does not have to come at the expense of care and decency toward others."

The professor who showed the medieval images of Muhammad was reportedly fired after students complained that any depictions of their prophet were disrespectful.

The incident occurred in a college class on "Islamic art."

The president continued to argue to that "academic freedom" would not suffer, even after the decision to fire the professor.

"Our response to the classroom event does not disregard or minimize the importance of academic freedom," Miller said. "It does state that respect, decency, and appreciation of religious and other differences should supersede when we know that what we teach will cause harm."

Hamline University explained the controversy and the apology in comments to Fox Digital.

"Students do not relinquish their faith in the classroom. To look upon an image of the prophet Muhammad, for many Muslims, is against their faith. Questions about how best to discuss Islamic art have been raised by many academics and is certainly an issue worthy of debate and discussion. For those of us who have been entrusted with the responsibility of educating the next generation of leaders and engaged citizens, it was important that our Muslim students, as well as all other students, feel safe, supported, and respected both in and out of our classrooms."

But the university also emphasized that it wanted to clear up any misunderstandings about the professor who was reportedly fired at Hamline.

Source: Fox News

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://www.foxnews.com/media/respect-muslim-students-should-superseded-academic-freedom-class-controversy-college-president

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US looks at ways to further target Iranian drone production, White House says

04 January ,2023

The US is looking at ways to target Iranian drone production through sanctions and export controls, and is talking to private companies whose parts have been used in production, the White House said on Wednesday.

“We are assessing further steps we can take in terms of export controls to restrict Iran’s access to technologies used in drones,” White House National Security Council spokesperson Adrienne Watson said in a statement.

Source: Al Arabiya

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://english.alarabiya.net/News/middle-east/2023/01/04/US-looks-at-ways-to-further-target-Iranian-drone-production-White-House-says

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United States celebrates 75 years of Pakistan-U.S. bilateral relations

January 4, 2023

ISLAMABAD: The United States Embassy in Islamabad is marking 75 years of bilateral partnership with Pakistan by illuminating the building at One Constitution Avenue in the capital.

The illumination starts the evening of January 3rd and will continue through January 11th, said a press release issued here by the U.S. Embassy in Islamabad on Wednesday.

Using innovative technology pioneered by partner organization 3D Illumination, the three-dimensional, moving projection highlights key themes and images of Pakistan-U.S. relations from the past 75 years. Previously used with famous landmarks such as the Washington Monument and Eiffel tower, this type of projection has rarely been seen before in Pakistan.

On the occasion, U.S. Mission Chargé d’Affaires Andrew Schofer said, “Through 75 years of diplomatic relations, the United States has worked with Pakistan to support energy, agriculture, public health, education, infrastructure, and people-to-people connections. We are proud to use this unique technology to show the Pakistani people the breadth and depth of our longstanding bilateral partnership and look forward to exploring opportunities for future collaboration and partnership, including through the U.S.-Pakistan Green Alliance framework.”

Over the past 75 years, the United States and Pakistan have created a relationship based on mutual respect and shared values, building a partnership that has been advantageous to both countries, he added.

Source: Pakistan Today

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://www.pakistantoday.com.pk/2023/01/04/united-states-celebrates-75-years-of-pakistan-u-s-bilateral-relations/

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Why Latin Americans are marching in solidarity with Iran’s persecuted protesters

EDUARDO CAMPOS LIMA

January 05, 2023

SAO PAULO: Many in Latin America have been demonstrating against Iran’s brutal crackdown on nationwide protests sparked by the death in September of Mahsa Amini, 22, at the hands of the country’s morality police for allegedly wearing her hijab incorrectly.

Activists — especially women — have marched and gathered in front of Iranian embassies, denouncing Tehran’s repression and human rights violations.

Demonstrations across Latin America have been galvanized by the fact that hundreds of Iranians are now facing long prison terms and even death sentences for protesting.

In Mexico protesters assembled in front of the Iranian embassy in the nation’s capital on Dec. 19.

“The demonstration’s catalyst was the death sentence issued against footballer Amir Nasr-Azadani,” activist Paola Schietekat, who co-organized the protest, told Arab News.

But that was not the only reason, she said. “We were horrified by the large list of people currently facing death sentences. The message that the Iranian government wants to convey is that citizens must be afraid of expressing their political opinions.”

According to Human Rights Iran, an NGO based in Norway, at least 100 people have been charged or sentenced to death so far.

Feminist activists and Iranians living in Mexico organized a protest in the capital in September.

Schietekat said some of the Iranian-born participants were identified by the embassy’s surveillance cameras and later had problems renewing documents.

“Now, some of them were obviously afraid of retaliation and preferred not to attend. It was important for them that we, Mexicans, showed our solidarity,” she added.

Laura Vazquez, one of the protesters, told Arab News: “I heard about it on social media and decided I should go. It’s an important cause. Nowadays, people can easily ‘support’ a protest but not show up.”

She added: “The most valuable thing was to be present and to show our solidarity. The problems in Iran didn’t begin in September. They’re historic.”

Mexico abstained in the UN vote that resulted in Iran’s removal from the organization’s women’s rights agency in December.

In Schietekat’s opinion, that was a serious mistake: “The (Mexican) government based its decision on the principle of non-intervention, but we can’t have diplomatic relations with a country that systematically violates human rights.”

There was a “disproportionate” police presence during the demonstration on Dec. 19, she said, but no incidents were reported.

There have also been recent demonstrations in Argentina, but the most visible action coming from the country has been an online petition against Nasr-Azadani’s execution.

Created by Natalia Marcellino, the campaign has already been supported by 1.8 million people worldwide.

“I don’t have any particular experience with Iran’s political situation. I’m a psychologist who manages a school for children with special needs. But I was very impacted by the news and I decided to do something,” she told Arab News.

“I was surprised by the massive reaction to the petition. I’m glad to see that we can come together and do something. Nasr-Azadani has defended Iranian women and now has to be helped by us.”

A number of celebrities have publicly supported the petition, including Colombian-born singer Shakira, Argentinian actor Ricardo Darin and Spanish musician Alejandro Sanz.

“I think the World Cup may have given more visibility to his case, given that people were more connected to football and he’s a well-known player,” Marcellino said.

Uruguayan footballer Luis Suarez and Colombian Radamel Falcao Garcia are among the professional athletes who have expressed their solidarity with Nasr-Azadani.

A report published in 2021 by the Arab News Research and Studies unit, titled “Border wars: Iran’s terror haven in Latin America,” noted that since the 1979 Iranian revolution, the Islamic Republic had worked tirelessly to strengthen its ties with Latin American countries, while also seeking out political allies among the region’s leftist governments that shared its hostility toward the US.

The report shed light on the nature of the political and economic cooperation between Iran and Paraguay, and analyzed the suspicious activities and operations of by Iran and its proxies, such as Hezbollah, in the Tri-Border Area in general and Paraguay in particular.

In the 1990s, a leading Paraguay political and religious figure, Fernando Lugo, made a historic visit to Iran, a gesture repaid by Tehran through its support for his successful presidential bid in 2008, according to Dr. Hamdan Al-Shehri, a political analyst and international relations scholar.

“Nevertheless, diplomatic and economic relations between the two countries remained somewhat modest compared with Iran’s ties with other Latin American countries,” he wrote.

“However, in the years after it became the target of international sanctions, Iran realized that it needed a haven for its illegal activities that was out of sight of the global community and immune from legal action.

“In some Latin American states, it found the ideal staging ground for its illicit operations, especially within the so-called Tri-Border Area of Argentina, Paraguay and Brazil. According to several investigations, Iranian activities being closely monitored in this frontier region range from drug and arms smuggling to money laundering and terrorist training.“

Fast-forward to the present and prominent political leaders in Latin America are condemning Iran’s repression. When Colombian President Gustavo Petro congratulated Argentina on its World Cup victory on Twitter on Dec. 18, he urged Iran to not execute the footballer.

Colombia has endorsed criticism of Iran in the international arena over the past few months.

Tehran formally complained to Colombia over its vote to oust Iran from the UN women’s rights agency.

In September, Chilean President Gabriel Boric condemned Iran for Amini’s death in his speech at the UN General Assembly.

Chilean feminist movements have been following events in Iran, and have organized several initiatives against the regime.

“We have solidarity ties with several women’s groups, including with Iranians. We’ve protested against Iran and produced videos about it with Farsi subtitles so they can see there that we’re supporting them here,” Javiera Manzi, a spokeswoman for the feminist group CF8M, told Arab News.

“We’re now releasing a declaration condemning the crackdown on protesters and gathering support from several human rights organizations.”

Mahmonir Nadim, an Iranian-born singer who has lived in Brazil since 2012, told Arab News: “Many people in Brazil say they don’t know enough about the Iranian situation so they can’t give an opinion.

“What else must they know when people are being arrested and killed for protesting against the government?”

Nadim said she had always dreamt of being an artist, but that would be too difficult in Iran after the 1979 revolution. “That’s why I decided to come to Brazil.”

She and her sister organized a protest in Brazil in September, and are now planning another one. They want more Brazilians to join them.

Source: Arab News

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://www.arabnews.com/node/2226896/world

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Europe

 

Swedish court convicts man of posing with bodies in Syria

04 January ,2023

A Swedish court said on Wednesday it had found a man guilty of violating international law by posing with dead or severely injured bodies in war-torn Syria in 2012 while participating in a militant group.

Ubai Julaybib Benoitzon, 44, a Swedish citizen who has changed his legal name several times, had denied the charges against him, his lawyer Thomas Olsson said on Wednesday.

The court statement said the crimes included posing for pictures and video footage with dead or severely injured bodies while making victory signs and derogatory statements, with the aim of spreading the material as war propaganda online.

“The district court has assessed that the action constituted a serious violation of international humanitarian law,” the statement said.

The court said it had not been able to definitively establish whether the bodies seen in the images were dead or alive.

The verdict said Ubai Julaybib Benoitzon, who has also been known as Bherlin Gildo and Nathan Benoitzon, at the time of the crimes was a member of a violent extremist group, which it did not name.

The court sentenced Benoitzon, who had returned to Sweden, to four months in prison.

Olsson did not immediately reply to the question of whether his client would appeal the verdict.

Source: Al Arabiya

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://english.alarabiya.net/News/middle-east/2023/01/04/Swedish-court-convicts-man-of-posing-with-bodies-in-Syria-

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Iran hands protest note to French ambassador over Khamenei caricatures

Haydar Şahin

05.01.2023

Iran summoned France’s ambassador Wednesday and handed him an official note of protest from the Foreign Ministry over the publication of “insulting” caricatures in the French magazine Charlie Hebdo of the country’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

Nicolas Roche was summoned over the insults, according to according to a statement issued by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

“The Islamic Republic of Iran brooks by no means any insults to its sanctities and Islamic, religious, and national values,” it said.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Nasser Kan’ani expressed Iran's strong protest against the unacceptable action to the French ambassador, saying that “France has no right to justify insults to other countries’ and Muslim nations’ sanctities under the pretext of freedom of expression.”

Kan’ani, who delivered the protest note to Ambassador Roche, said that Tehran reserves the right to respond appropriately to this behavior.

The Foreign Affairs Ministry also said that it expects the French government to issue a statement criticizing the magazine’s action and to take remedial measures.

Source: Anadolu Agency

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://www.aa.com.tr/en/europe/iran-hands-protest-note-to-french-ambassador-over-khamenei-caricatures/2779973

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Germany condemns far-right Israeli minister's Al-Aqsa visit

Oliver Towfigh Nia 

04.01.2023

BERLIN

Germany on Wednesday criticized Israeli National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir’s “provocative” visit to the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound.

“Yesterday’s visit is a provocation, and that’s why we clearly reject this action,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Christofer Burger told journalists in Berlin.

“The federal (German) government opposes unilateral steps that endanger the historic status quo on the Temple Mount.”

Burger called on the Israeli government “to put a stop to further deliberate provocations,” urging Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to preserve the status quo at the holy site.

The far-right official’s controversial visit on Tuesday has drawn international outcry, among them the US, Jordan, Türkiye, Qatar, and Saudi Arabia.

In the face of mounting condemnation of the visit, Netanyahu has said he remains committed to the status quo at the flashpoint site.

For Muslims, Al-Aqsa represents the world’s third-holiest site. Jews, for their part, call the area the Temple Mount, saying it was the site of two Jewish temples in ancient times.

Source: Anadolu Agency

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://www.aa.com.tr/en/europe/germany-condemns-far-right-israeli-ministers-al-aqsa-visit/2779680

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Pakistan

 

Pakistan warns Israel against breaching sanctity of Al-Aqsa mosque

Baqir Sajjad Syed

January 5, 2023

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan has joined the international community in condemning Israel’s new far-right national security minister’s provocative visit on Tuesday to Al-Aqsa mosque compound, warning that breaching the sanctity of the holy site could inflame tensions in occupied Palestinian territories.

“Al-Aqsa is a holy site revered by Muslims around the world. Violation of its sanctity offends the religious sensitivities of Muslims and inflames an already tense situation in the occupied Palestinian territories,” Foreign Office spokesperson Mumtaz Zahra Baloch said on Wednesday while condemning the visit of Itamar Ben-Gvir to the Al-Aqsa mosque compound.

She said the visit by the Israeli minister was “insensitive and provocative”. “Israel must cease its illegal actions and respect the sanctity of Muslim religious sites in the occupied Palestinian territories,” she added.

While reiterating Pakistan’s support for the Palestinian cause, she underscored Isla­mabad’s stance on the issue, which calls for the establishment of a viable, independent, and contiguous Palestinian State, with pre-1967 borders, and Al-Quds Al-Sharif as its capital, in accordance with the relevant United Nations and OIC resolutions.

Palestinians mull next moves

Meanwhile, Ben-Gvir’s tour stirred protests from across the Arab world and Western concern about long-standing understandings on non-Muslim access, add agencies.

Palestinians in Gaza are holding urgent talks on their next moves after the Israeli minister visited Al-Aqsa mosque compound, a step so far met with stern words rather than violence.

There have been fears controversial visit by Itamar Ben-Gvir could spark a war.

Palestinian group Hamas, which rules the Gaza Strip, had earlier warned such a move would be a “red line”.

Hours after Ben-Gvir’s appearance at the sensitive site, Hamas and other militant groups held emergency meetings to discuss a “proportionate” response, sources within the movement told AFP.

In a related development, leading ultra-Orthodox Jewish figures supporting Israel’s coalition government on Wednesday criticised the minister’s visit to the flashpoint holy site in Jerusalem, adding internal religious dissent to a cascade of foreign censure.

One lawmaker accused Itamar Ben-Gvir of “goading the entire world”.

“It is forbidden to go up to the place of the Holy of Holies,” senior United Torah Judaism lawmaker Moshe Gafni said in parliament, referring to a part of Jewish temples that stood at the site in ancient times and was off-limits to most people.

Gafni said he had advised Ben-Gvir of this.

“Besides the aspect of religious law, there is nothing to be gained from just goading the entire world,” he said.

Source: Dawn

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https://www.dawn.com/news/1730001/pakistan-warns-israel-against-breaching-sanctity-of-al-aqsa-mosque

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Banned Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan Threatens To Target Top Leaders Of PML-N And PPP

Jan 4, 2023

ISLAMABAD: The banned Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) on Wednesday threatened to target the top leaders of the two major political parties in the ruling coalition if they continued to support tough measures against the militants.

The TTP, which is believed to be close to al-Qaida, has warned Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif's Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) and foreign minister Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari led Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) - the two major parties of the ruling coalition.

"If these two parties remain firm on their position and continue to be slaves of the army, then action will be taken against their leading people," a statement issued by the militant group said.

The group warned that "people should avoid getting close to such leading people."

It claimed that the TTP was only waging what it called "jihad" in Pakistan and "our target is the security agencies occupying the country".

It especially warned foreign minister Bilawal, whose mother former prime minister Benazir Bhutto was killed in a terrorist attack in 2007.

"Although Bilawal is still young, this poor man has not yet witnessed the state of war," the statement said, adding that the PPP leader had declared an open war on TTP.

The group also said that it had not taken action against any political party for a long time but "unfortunately ... Bilawal Bhutto Zardari gave the US the status of mother to quench the thirst of his mother's love".

The terrorist outfit also said that PM Sharif had committed the support of his entire party in the war against TTP to please the US.

The TTP spared the religious political parties, saying there is no scope for action against them in TTP's policy. However, it said that "we also request you (religious parties) to refrain from activities against us."

The warning comes just days after the civil-military leadership of the country met under the banner of the National Security Committee and vowed to show "zero tolerance" for terrorism in the country.

"NSC reiterated its resolve to have zero tolerance for terrorism in Pakistan and reaffirmed its determination to take on any and all entities that resort to violence. This will be dealt with full force of the state. Pakistan's security is uncompromisable and the full writ of the state will be maintained on every inch of Pakistan's territory," said a statement issued by the PM Office after the meeting.

Prime Minister Sharif chaired the meeting while Bilawal, who had advocated a new policy against the rebels, also participated.

The NSC is the highest body to finalize decisions about key security and strategic matters relating to national security.

The foreign minister earlier also opposed talks with the militants, saying the government would not follow the policy of appeasement.

In November, the TTP called off an indefinite ceasefire agreed with the government in June and ordered its militants to carry out attacks on the security forces.

The TTP, also known as the Pakistan Taliban, was set up as an umbrella group of several militant outfits in 2007. Its main aim is to impose its strict brand of Islam across Pakistan.

Pakistan had hoped that the Afghan Taliban after coming to power would stop the use of their soil against Pakistan by expelling the TTP operatives but they have apparently refused to do so at the cost of straining ties with Islamabad.

The TTP has been blamed for several deadly attacks across Pakistan, including an attack on army headquarters in 2009, assaults on military bases and the 2008 bombing of the Marriott Hotel in Islamabad.

In 2012, Nobel laureate Malala Yousafzai was attacked by TTP. She suffered bullet injuries and was admitted to the Military Hospital (CMH) Peshawar and then taken to London for further treatment. The TTP claimed responsibility for the attack, saying that Yousafzai was a "Western-minded girl".

Source: Times Of India

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/pakistan/pakistani-taliban-threatens-to-target-top-leaders-of-pml-n-and-ppp/articleshow/96738283.cms

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Efforts afoot to bring TTP to talks, says Interior Minister

January 5, 2023

ISLAMABAD: Amid an uptick in terrorist activity in the country, Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah on Wednesday assured the nation that the government was taking steps to counter terrorism.

Pakistan has seen a rise in terrorist attacks across the country, believed to have been planned and directed by the outlawed Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) leaders based in Afghanistan.

The TTP, which has ideological linkages with the Afghan Taliban, executed around more than 100 attacks last year, most of which happened after August when the group’s peace talks with the Pakistan government began to falter. The ceasefire was formally ended on Nov 28 by the TTP.

Addressing a press conference here, Sanaullah said the state’s efforts against terrorism could not be publicised as it would compromise its success.

“But this should not be taken to mean that nothing is being done,” the minister said, adding that tremendous efforts against terrorism were underway and the nation should rest assured about the matter.

Commenting on the recent meeting of the National Security Committee (NSC), he said that the forum had resolved to adopt a “zero tolerance” policy against terrorism with “no mixed messages and no differentiation between good or bad terrorists”.

“Whoever is involved in terrorism is a terrorist,” he asserted.

Sanaullah further said that authorities would take pre-emptive action against terrorist schemes and those involved would be apprehended in order to prevent such incidents from occurring in the first place.

He said that the NSC had also decided that the provincial counterterrorism departments (CTDs) would be provided training by the federal government in order to make them more effective.

The minister said that the forum had also discussed setting up of a national body for coordinating with the various CTDs in an effort to make them more efficient.

‘Efforts underway to bring TTP to table’

At the same time, Sanaullah said that efforts were underway to bring the outlawed TTP to the negotiation table but the group would first have to set aside arms and surrender before the law and the Constitution.

He said Pakistan needed to deal with the situation in such a manner as to keep the TTP at the “lowest level” and keep the number of terrorist incidents to a minimum.

“You will see the decisions that were made in regards to this being implemented in the coming days.”

His remarks come after the NSC on Monday reiterated its intent to crush terrorist groups operating inside the country with full force.

Afghan Taliban’s remarks and TTP’s threat

During the press conference, the minister was also asked about the recent remarks from the Afghan Taliban and the explicit threat issued by the TTP to the PPP and the PML-N for “openly declaring war against the TTP to appease America”.

The TTP statement pointedly mentioned PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari and Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif by name, as well as their respective parties, and warned religious parties against “activities against us”.

“I never said that we want to attack Afghanistan or someone there,” Sanaullah said. However, as stated before, if any terrorist is planning to attack Pakistan or stage a terrorist attack then, as part of international law, “we can and should engage”.

Sanaullah said the NSC meeting had concretely decided that talks about any concerns or issues would only be held with the Afghan government.

Source: Pakistan Today

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://www.pakistantoday.com.pk/2023/01/05/efforts-afoot-to-bring-ttp-to-talks-says-interior-minister/

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Soleimani believed integrity of Iran is linked to integrity of Pakistan: Ambassador Hosseini

January 4, 2023

RAWALPINDI: Seyyed Muhammad Ali Hosseini, the Ambassador of the Islamic Republic of Iran to Pakistan, on Wednesday said that martyr Qasim Soleimani believed that the integrity of Pakistan is actually the integrity of Iran, and if there is any kind of attack on Pakistan, the survival of Pakistan is supreme and he himself will not hesitate to shed his blood for it.

The envoy expressed these views while addressing a reception held to pay homage to the martyrs of Islam, especially the martyrs who defended Palestine and Kashmir, a program titled “Martyrs of Islam, Axis of Islamic Unity” was organized at the Khana Farhang Cultural Center, Islamic Republic of Iran, here in Rawalpindi.

The speakers who addressed mentioned the eternal martyrdom of martyr Haj Qasim Soleimani and paid glowing tribute to his services for the unity of the Muslim world. The notable guests also appreciated the courageous stand and strategy of the Supreme Leader of Iran, Sayyed Ali Khamenei, on the issue of Kashmir.

The secret of Shaheed Soleimani’s success was steadfastness and sincerity. He showed steadfastness during his life in the face of anti-Islamic forces and dangerous Takfiri groups like ISIS.

Speaking at the event, Abdullah Gul, head of Pakistan Youth Movement, said that I know martyr Qasim Soleimani personally. The martyr derived his vision from the incident of Karbala. He said that Shaheed Soleimani was clear in that where the human being is subjugated, the message of the Islamic Revolution reaches there. Shaheed Soleimani sacrificed his today for the tomorrow of the new generation. Abdullah Gul said that by killing an official guest of a country, America not only committed state terrorism but also violated international laws.

Addressing the ceremony, DG Khana Farhang Iran Rawalpindi Mr. Farmarz Rehmanzad said that if it were not for the sacrifices of the martyred Sardar Hajj Qasim Soleimani, Abu Mahdi Al Muhandis and other martyrs, the right to live would have been taken away from us today, and we would have seen division Islamic countries and witnessing the massacre of Muslims in all the countries of Asia every day.

Maulana Gulzar Naeemi while addressing the ceremony said that Shaheed Soleimani kept the resistance alive. He further added that the enemies are using various tactics to destroy the unity and consensus of Muslims, to counter these tactics all Islamic countries need to follow in the footsteps of Shaheed Soleimani.

Speaking at the ceremony, Allama Arif Hussain Wahidi, Vice President of Shia Ulema Council, said that elements hostile to Islam are trying to create division among Muslims, sometimes in the name of Sahaba, sometimes in the name of Imams. He said that the credit of uniting Hezbollah and Hamas belongs to Shaheed Soleimani.

Speaking at the ceremony, renowned religious scholar Allama Syed Iftikhar Naqvi said that if it were not the courageous actions of Shaheed Soleimani, Islamic countries would have suffered massively today.

Source: Pakistan Today

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://www.pakistantoday.com.pk/2023/01/04/martyrs-of-islam-axis-of-islamic-unity-organized-atvkhana-farhang-cultural-center-islamic-republic-of-iran-rwp/

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Dar expects Saudi Arabia, China to beef up forex reserves by Jan-end

Khaleeq Kiani

January 5, 2023

ISLAMABAD: Saudi Arabia and China were set to beef up Pakistan’s foreign exchange reserves much before the close of this month, Finance Minister Ishaq Dar said on Wednesday and announced that the government would be shortly imposing flood levy on the affluent and a significant gain tax on banks’ foreign exchange earnings to ramp up revenue.

“Our foreign exchange reserves by end-June would be much better than you can think,” Mr Dar said while speaking at a joint news conference with five other PML-N ministers.

He said the International Mo­netary Fund (IMF) progra­mme would be completed at all costs, China and Saudi Arabi would enhance their support, government-to-government (G2G) disinvestments would be completed, and the current acc­ount deficit would be about $3 billion less than earlier projections.

The presser had been called in response to a “white paper” launched a day earlier by the opposition Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI), suggesting that Pakistan was on the verge of anarchy because of hyperinflation and unemployment.

Mr Dar repeatedly snubbed questions about the possibility of the country defaulting on its foreign debt, insisting that such speculation was being pushed by the PTI, whose white paper was “a pack of lies” and was allegedly based on selective data, misleading numbers, factually incorrect and devoid of economic context.

The minister disagreed that a threshold committed with the IMF under the eighth quarterly review for contingency budgetary measures had been crossed, as revenue collection during the first five months (July to November) of this fiscal year was above target.

However, he hastened to add that a heavy revenue ticket of Rs270-290bn super tax pitched for December could not yield results because of stay orders, resulting in a revenue shortfall in December.

“We are in any case planning to beef up revenues and considering a flood levy and a substantial recovery on account of unprecedented foreign exchange windfalls” earned by the banking sector, but there would be no measure that adds up to the burden on common people already suffering a lot of hardship, he said.

He noted that petroleum prices had not gone up for over three months and instead dropped by Rs19-20 per litre for petrol and diesel and by Rs29-30 for kerosene and light diesel.

Responding to a question, the finance minister said many countries had imposed taxes on foreign exchange earnings.

He said various agencies were already in action to combat the smuggling of foreign exchange and other commodities like wheat and fertiliser.

The minister recalled that during the prime minister’s visits in September, China and Saudi Arabia had agreed to increase their support to Pakistan, and the Saudi finance minister later confirmed this to international news agencies.

He said the process got delayed, but Saudi Arabia would increase its support much earlier than the end of this month, while the Chinese loan rollover was also being processed. He said the privatisation transactions, particularly the sale of LNG plants and others on a G2G basis, were also progressing and would be completed within six months.

Responding to a question, the minister said the IMF delay was because of the credibility gap caused by “reckless decisions” of the PTI government on the eve of the no-confidence vote.

Resultantly, the Fund raised questions not only about the quarter ending December instead of the original end-October performance but also sought details about the subsequent 11th and 12th reviews (until June), particularly on how Pakistan would finance $16.3bn flood-related requirements.

“We have provided these things” and would be meeting the IMF on the occasion of a donors’ conference in Geneva on Jan 9, Mr Dar said.

Inflation ‘major concern’

On inflation, he conceded that it was a major cause of concern for the government and it would now focus on gradually bringing it down. He insisted that inflation and other economic indicators would be much better by June 30, 2023.

Planning Minister Ahsan Iqbal said the major factor for higher prices of essential commodities was a total lack of support from Punjab, besides massive devaluation, PTI’s package for force energy price cuts and the global inflationary cycle.

Mr Dar said it was a dishonest presentation of the country’s economic situation by the PTI leaders, adding that they did not present what they inherited except the current account deficit, which too was being depicted out of context and even the PTI failed to show any improvement on that count by the end of its government.

He said the economic situation since April 2022 was strongly influenced by the legacy that the new government got from the previous administration.

He said the IMF managing director had recently noted that one-third of the globe would be facing a serious recessional problem in 2023, with Pakistan being no exception.

The finance minister said the PTI’s claim of about 100pc to 200pc increase in prices was incorrect because “authentic data” showed the prices of wheat rose by 33pc, cooking oil 21pc, masoor pulse 19.5pc, mash pulse 35pc, tomato 13.7pc, petrol 47pc, and vegetable ghee by 14.9pc.

Mr Dar also dismissed the PTI’s figure of creating 5.5m jobs during its government and said that official data finalised by the party itself put this number at 3.2m between 2019 and 2022.

He said the PML-N’s previous government had increased revenue collection from Rs1.938 trillion to Rs3.844tr in the last year, while the PTI administration reduced it to Rs3.829tr in its first year and reached Rs6.1tr in five years despite promising to double it from Rs3.9tr in 2018 to 8tr in its first year in office.

Source: Dawn

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https://www.dawn.com/news/1730007/dar-expects-saudi-arabia-china-to-beef-up-forex-reserves-by-jan-end

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COAS Asim Munir, Saudi defence minister discuss military cooperation

Naveed Siddiqui

January 5, 2023

Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Asim Munir on Thursday met Saudi Arabia’s Defence Minister Prince Khalid bin Salman and discussed the ways of strengthening cooperation between the two countries.

According to the Saudi Press Agency (SPA), the army chief arrived in the Kingdom in the early hours of Thursday where he was received by Prince Khalid.

At the outset of the meeting, the Saudi defence minister congratulated Gen Munir on his appointment as the army chief.

The SPA said that the two leaders, during the meeting, emphasised the strength and durability of bilateral relations between the two fraternal countries.

They discussed military and defence cooperation, and ways to support and enhance them, along with important regional and international issues of common interest.

Meanwhile, in a tweet today, Prince Salman said he was pleased to meet Pakistan’s army chief.

“We emphasized the strategic partnership between our brotherly countries, reviewed the bilateral military and defence relations, and discussed ways of strengthening our cooperation,” he added.

Earlier, the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) said Gen Munir would be visiting Saudi Arabia and UAE from Jan 4 to Jan 10.

“The COAS will be meeting the senior leadership of both brotherly countries to discuss matters of mutual interest, military-to-military cooperation and bilateral relations focusing on security-related subjects,” the military’s media wing stated.

Source: Dawn

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://www.dawn.com/news/1730050/coas-asim-munir-saudi-defence-minister-discuss-military-cooperation

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Al Qaeda-linked group, TTP claim spies’ murder in Khanewal

Imran Gabol

January 5, 2023

LAHORE: The Counter-Terrorism Department (CTD) on Wednesday registered a case under terrorism charges against a suspect involved in the murder of two intelligence agency officials in Khanewal on Tuesday.

Meanwhile, two groups, including the banned Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and the so-called Lashkar-i-Khorasan, have claimed responsibility for the attack.

According to the first information report (FIR), a copy of which is available with Dawn, Inter-Services Intelligence Multan region director Naveed Sadiq and inspector Nasir Abbas met a source at a roadside hotel on the National Highway near Pirowal in Khanewal district.

After having tea, they all walked to the parking lot when the source himself, identified as Umar Khan of Kacha Khoo, pulled out his gun, shot the officers dead and fled from the scene.

The suspect reportedly executed the attack on the directions of his group leader, Asadullah.

CTD official says raids being conducted for suspect’s arrest

The CTD Multan police station registered a case under murder and terrorism charges on the complaint of the officers’ driver and started an investigation.

CTD Punjab chief Imran Mahmood told Dawn that the suspect had been identified and raids were being conducted to arrest him.

He said action would be taken against the terrorist network involved in planning and executing the attack on the intelligence officials.

Meanwhile, the TTP claimed responsibility for the attack. Earlier, a group calling itself Lashkar-i-Khorasan, said to be linked with Al Qaeda, had also made a similar claim.

“Yesterday, a secret squad of TTP killed ISI Deputy Director Multan Naveed Sadiq along with his colleague Inspector Nasir Butt at Bismillah Highway in Khanewal district of Punjab,” TTP spokesman Mohammad Khorasani said in a statement to the media, as reported by Reuters.

The CTD, in a statement reported by Reuters on Wednesday, confirmed the killings but not the TTP’s role. It said the two officers had met the suspected killer at the hotel and had a cup of tea with him. After tea, the suspect shot the two officers in the hotel’s parking lot and fled on a motorcycle, the CTD added, releasing security camera footage of the incident.

A senior officer on conduction of anonymity told Dawn that the intelligence officers were working on terrorism-related cases and meeting a source from the banned Al Qaeda and militant Islamic State group. The incident led to mistrust between the intelligence agency and their sources.

“Officers cultivated sources among terrorist networks operating in the country to know about their operations, which may have resulted in several achievements against terrorism,” he maintained.

Source: Dawn

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https://www.dawn.com/news/1730003/al-qaeda-linked-group-ttp-claim-spies-murder-in-khanewal

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Contractor’s house attacked after refusing to pay ransom to ‘TTP member’

Mohammad Asghar

January 5, 2023

RAWALPINDI: A member of the outlawed Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) in Rawalpindi demanded a ransom of Rs15 million from a government contractor and after he refused to pay the money, allegedly attacked his house with a cracker in Dhoke Lakhan in Dhamial area.

After a first information report (FIR) was registered with the police on Tuesday, the Counter-Terrorism Department (CTD) was also involved in investigation of the case.

Mohammad Nisar, a government contractor and resident of Dhoke Lakhan Chakri Road, lodged an FIR with police saying that he received a voice message on his mobile phone on Oct 7, 2022 in which the caller identified himself as a representative of TTP and demanded ransom of Rs15 million.

He said when he ignored and did not attend his message, the man turned towards his brother Mushtaq Ali’s mobile phone and sent a voice message to him asking him to show it to his brother. Nisar had been working as a government contractor for the last 20 years.

He further said he was sleeping in his home, while his wife and children had gone to their village when he woke up upon hearing an explosion from outside his house on Dec 28, 2022 at 4am.

He said in the FIR that he went to the rooftop of his house to see what had happened but could not see anything due to darkness. He came down to his room and slept. On the following day, his brother received another voice message, in which the suspect could be heard saying that he had shown a glimpse to his brother last night.

“I shall destroy your brother’s house by hurling hand grenades,” the complainant said in the FIR while quoting the suspect.

Nisar said he plunged into distress upon hearing the threatening voice messages. After this, he went to the rooftop of his house and found exploded pieces of a cracker and some spots on the compound wall of the roof.

After collecting evidence, he contacted the relevant law enforcement agency. An FIR was registered subsequently.

According to sources, it was discovered during the initial investigation that the suspect was using a foreign gateway to make WhatsApp calls, which made it difficult to determine his location. This issue will be resolved with the assistance of other law enforcement officials, and the suspect will be arrested, the sources said.

Earlier on Tuesday, police have agreed to institutionalise coordination between the two departments through regular meetings and decided to adopt a joint plan of action in the fight against terrorism and crime.

It was also decidaed to set up joint checkpoints, conduct joint operations based on intelligence and take combined action against terrorists and criminal groups.

Source: Dawn

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://www.dawn.com/news/1729949

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Pakistan nominates President Erdogan for Nobel Peace Prize

January 4, 2023

ISLAMABAD: Senate Chairman Sadiq Sanjrani on Wednesday officially nominated Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan for the Nobel Peace Prize over his hectic efforts to resolve the Ukraine crisis.

In a letter addressed to the Norwegian Nobel Committee, Senate Chairman Sadiq Sanjrani officially registered the nomination in favour of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan for the Nobel Peace Prize for efforts to resolve the Ukrainian crisis.

Through the letter, the Chairman Senate has officially registered the nomination in favour of Turkish President @RTErdogan for the “Nobel Peace Prize” over untiring efforts to resolve the Ukrainian crisis.

Sanjrani said, “Russia-Ukraine war had quickly turned into a nuclear flashpoint that could have ended in catastrophe for the whole world. Due to his untiring efforts, timely & effective interventions with both sides, he singlehandedly averted a global disaster.”

He further added that President Erdogan is a true statesman & leader, who always strives for the betterment & prosperity of not just his country, but the region & the world in general.

Source: Pakistan Today

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://www.pakistantoday.com.pk/2023/01/04/pakistan-nominates-president-erdogan-for-nobel-peace-prize/

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India

 

Kashmir-Born, Ahmad Ahanger,  Chief Islamic State Recruiter Designated As Terrorist By Centre

Jan 5, 2023

The Centre on Wednesday designated Ahmad Ahanger, who heads the Islamic State’s recruitment cell in India, as a terrorist under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act.

Ahmad Ahanger, alias Abu Usman Al-Kashmiri, was born in Srinagar in Jammu and Kashmir. He is presently based in Afghanistan and is one of the chief recruiters of Islamic State Jammu and Kashmir (ISJK).

Ahanger is a wanted terrorist in Jammu and Kashmir for more than two decades and has contacts with al-Qaeda and other global terrorist groups, the Ministry of Home Affairs said in a notification.

He is working towards providing traction to militancy in Kashmir and has started the process of identifying people for inclusion in his Kashmir-based network.

Source: India Today

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://www.indiatoday.in/india/story/ahmad-ahanger-chief-islamic-state-recruiter-designated-as-terrorist-kashmir-born-2317548-2023-01-05

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Forget Devp Issues, Focus On Love Jihad, Says Kateel; Congress Slams Remarks

Jan 5, 2023

Bengaluru/Mangaluru: Congress came down heavily on state BJP president Nalin Kumar Kateel for urging party workers to “focus on love jihad and not on drains, roads, and development”. At a recent event, Kateel told party workers not to engage voters in discussions over roads and drains, but instead tell them that only a BJP government can stop "love jihad" by bringing a law against it. A video of his speech was widely shared on social media. Reacting to the comments, UT Khader, deputy opposition leader in the legislative assembly, on Wednesday said the BJP government does not have the “capacity, dignity, or eligibility” to develop roads, fill potholes or develop infrastructure and that’s why it is falling back on emotional issues such as love jihad. “Even after four years at the helm, BJP has not been able to ensure development,” said Khader, Congress MLA from Ullal constituency. “We have to go back to the promises they [BJP] made during the election. Leave out the big projects; they are not able to deliver even on small ones... Those who can’t give rice to people talk about love jihad.” In the video, Kateel is purportedly heard saying, “Don’t talk about roads or gutters. There is a question regarding the lives of your children. Considering this, you must talk about love jihad. People need BJP to stop love jihad.” Karnataka Congress president DK Shivakumar described the comments as an “utterly bad message”. “Instead of prioritising development, BJP is spreading hatred and trying to divide the country. This statement is testimony for their intentions,” he said. However, Y Bharath Shetty, Mangaluru City North MLA, defended Kateel, saying since all elected representatives are engaged in various development works, Kateel asked party workers to also pay attention to other issues and to work towards creating a healthy atmosphere. “It is elected representatives who undertake development works, not party workers,” he said.

Source: Times Of India

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/bengaluru/forget-devp-issues-focus-on-love-jihad-says-kateel-congress-slams-remarks/articleshow/96751454.cms

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Maharashtra Interfaith Marriage Panel Got Sole Muslim Member After Another Nominee Dropped Out

January 5, 2023

The Interfaith Marriage-Family Coordination Committee — set up by the Maharashtra government to gather details about couples in such marriages – appointed its only Muslim member, social worker Irfan Ali Pirzade, after one of the 13 members initially appointed by the state government dropped out.

The committee was set up by the state Women and Child Development (WCD) Department on December 13 under the chairmanship of Mangal Prabhat Lodha, the WCD minister.

Pirzade was named a member on the committee after the original choice, advocate Yogesh Deshpande, resigned from the committee citing personal and professional commitments.

Pirzade was brought on board by the state government on December 15. The committee is yet to hold an official meeting, but a few members have met each other informally during the past two weeks. The committee will hold its meeting after the department sets up a helpline for women in interfaith marriages, who are in distress.

Speaking to The Indian Express, Pirzade said, “I am a social worker and have worked in the field for the protection of women’s rights. Due to my work, the government brought me on the committee.”

Meanwhile, Yogesh Deshpande, who resigned from the panel, said, “I resigned because I had other personal and professional commitments that were clashing. I resigned on December 13, immediately after the first GR announced the formation of the committee.”

The WCD department had initially set up a committee named ‘Intercaste/Interfaith Marriage – Family Coordination Committee’, comprising 13 members including the chairman, Mangal Prabhat Lodha. After two days, the department issued a revised GR, dropping intercaste marriages from its purview and retaining interfaith marriages, renaming the committee as ‘Interfaith Marriages – Family Coordination Committee’.

According to government officials, Pirzade is a social worker who has worked toward helping women who are in interfaith marriages, but who are in distress due to their marriage, across the state in many prominent cities. Before appointing members to the committee, the department had called for resumes of all members.

Source: Indian Express

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://indianexpress.com/article/cities/mumbai/maharashtra-interfaith-marriage-panel-got-sole-muslim-member-after-another-nominee-dropped-out-8362064/

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Karnataka VHP Starts ‘Anti-Love Jihad’ Helpline In Dakshina Kannada, Police To ‘Seek Legal View’

January 5, 2023

Amid Hindutva groups’ demand for a law against “love jihad” and Karnataka BJP chief Nalin Kumar Kateel’s call for voters to prioritise the “concern” over “roads, gutters, drains and other small issues”, the Vishwa Hindu Parishad has launched a “helpline” in the communally sensitive coastal district of Dakshina Kannada.

Speaking to The Indian Express, VHP state vice-secretary Sharan Pumpwell said that at least 20 members of the organisation would work for the helpline against “love jihad”, whereby Hindutva activists claim Muslim men lure women of other religions into marrying them and converting to Islam.

“There have been cases of ‘love jihad’ in Dakshina Kannada district. Incidents show that women in schools, colleges and workplaces are their targets. We want to stop it. We have started a helpline in Dakshina Kannada district,” he said.

Sharan said the helpline would provide information, legal assistance and also counselling for the “victims of love jihad”. “We are also planning to distribute 2 lakh pamphlets across Dakshina Kannada district in order to raise awareness,” he added.

Reminded that police already act against forcible conversions, Sharan said the helpline would aid people who do not want to go to police stations. “Many of them seek information and are scared to go to the police station. Our team will help them to solve the issue,” he said.

When contacted, Mangaluru city police commissioner N Shashi Kumar said, “We have come across such a helpline. Upon checking, we found that the number was active in the Shivamogga region. I will seek legal opinion to take further action,” he told The Indian Express.

District superintendent of police Rishikesh Bhagawan Sonawane was not available for comment.

S Umapathi, an advocate, said the setting up of such a helpline amounted to bypassing the government and police. “It is the duty of the state government to provide a helpline. The existing helplines are run by the state or have the state’s permission,” he said.

Source: Indian Express

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https://indianexpress.com/article/cities/bangalore/karnataka-vhp-anti-love-jihad-helpline-dakshina-kannada-8361304/

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50,000 People Can't Be Uprooted Overnight: Supreme Court Stays Haldwani Eviction

India News

Jan 05, 2023

The Supreme Court stayed the Uttarakhand high court order of Haldwani eviction and asked for a workable arrangement to address the 'land encroachment' issue. The matter will be heard next on February 7.

By Poulomi Ghosh

Reported by Utkarsh Anand

The Supreme Court on Thursday stayed the planned eviction of the railways in the 'encroached' land in Uttarakhand's Haldwani and said a workable arrangement has to be devised as 50,000 people can't be uprooted overnight. In its order, the Supreme Court said the government will have to provide full rehabilitation of the people of the area. "In the meantime, there shall be a stay of the directions passed in the impugned order," the Apex Court said barring any new construction or development on the land.

The bench of Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul and Abhay S Oka said 50,000 people can not be uprooted in seven days. As Justice SK Kaul heard the matter, he said there are many aspects in the case and people have been staying in the land for years; and there are establishments. "How can you say in seven days clear them off?" Justice Kaul said, as reported by LiveLaw

The eviction was supposed to begin from January 10 based on the Uttarakhand high court order against which massive protests were going on in Haldwani. The protests by the residents who have been living in the area for decades gathered support from political parties like the Congress, Samajwadi Party, and AIMIM.

The case has now been listed for its next hearing on February 7.

Uttarakhand chief minister Pushkar Singh Dhami reacted to the stay order and said the government will proceed as per the court's order.

As the ASG contested that freeing the 'railway land' is crucial for the development of the state, Justice Kaul said a workable arrangement is necessary to segregate people "who may have rights/no rights couples with schemes of rehabilitation which already exists while recognising the need of the railways".

Source: Hindustan Times

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https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/supreme-court-stays-haldwani-eviction-asks-for-workable-arrangement-101672904821325.html

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Mass marriage venue hosts 67 Muslim, Hindu couples

Jan 4, 2023

Vadodara/Anand: Tuesday became a turning point in the lives for both Shivani Mali and Khushbu Shaikh – two girls from Vadodara who got married at the same mass wedding venue. While Shivani tied the nuptial knot with Rohit Mali, Khushbu exchanged wedding vows with Mansuri Munaf, both grooms too residents of Vadodara.

The unique mass marriage was organized at Umeta village in Anand district by Zaryaah Foundation, an NGO.

The third such event to be hosted by the NGO, this time a total of 67 such couples including 57 Muslim and 10 Hindu couples exchanged wedding vows with traditional ‘nikaah’ and ‘lagn’ ceremonies.

“We had organized the first mass wedding programme in 2019, in which 13 Muslim couples got married through ‘nikaah’ ceremony. In 2020, we had organized ‘nikaah’ ceremonies for 32 couples. But this year, we decided to support marriage of 67 couples including Muslims and Hindus so that all the deserving daughters and their parents can celebrate the occasion regardless of any barriers of religion or socio-economic background,” said Allarakha Vohra, founder of Zaryaah Foundation.

The applications for the mass wedding ceremony were invited online from girls who had attained marriageable age but were facing financial constraints.

“The applications were scrutinized based on financial status of the families. For instance, our first preference was to support those daughters, who were either orphans or did not have parental support. Our second preference was for those daughters who had lost the sole bread earner in their family,” Vohra explained. The foundation not only printed the invitees for the to-be-brides but also gifted them with 15 set of clothes, basic furniture for their new houses and kitchen utensils. “We also provided them Rs 5,000 cash so that they can go and shop footwear of their choice. The choice of ‘cholis’ was also left on them,” he said.

Before the marriage ceremonies, the girls underwent a counselling round through which they were asked whether they wanted to get marriage or study further. “We have assured them that we will provide them all the support if they want to study courses like graphic designing, accounting, coding or tally after their marriage,” he said.

Source: Times Of India

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https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/vadodara/mass-marriage-venue-hosts-67-muslim-hindu-couples/articleshow/96725688.cms

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Intel unit seeks personal info of Aligarh Muslim University students

Jan 5, 2023

AGRA: The local intelligence unit of Aligarh police has sought personal details of students belonging to J&K, Northeast and foreign countries enrolled at Aligarh Muslim University (AMU), said university officials.

After receiving a letter from the intelligence unit, AMU assistant controller (admission) of the university Faisal Waris issued a circular to the deans of faculties, chairman of departments of studies and principals of schools and colleges of AMU seeking information on such students.

AMU proctor Mohammad Waseem Ali said, "They have sought data of students from Jammu & Kashmir, Northeast and foreign countries. We provided information about such students, including their name, father's name, home district, class, and permanent and current addresses in the format provided by the agency. I will speak to the students and explain why this exercise is for their security." Earlier, the deans of the faculties of various departments had received a form, along with a circular, from the office of the controllers of examination, asking them to get it filled by the students. "I am directed to request you to kindly furnish the Information with regard to (i) total number of students studying in your faculty/centre etc. (male/female) and (ii) total number of J&K students admitted (male/female, with complete detail) on the following format during the session 2022-2023 to the proctor, AMU, under intimation to this office," read a 'time-bound' notice issued on December, 29, 2022.

This circular instilled fear among J&K students as the collected information had to be provided to the Aligarh superintendent of police. They termed this circular a "breach of privacy" and "discriminatory".

Notably, on December 26, protests broke out on AMU campus after a PhD scholar from Kashmir was allegedly thrashed by other students for asking them not to play badminton at 1 am on the hostel premises. Around 150 Kashmiri students protested against the incident.

DSP, Aligarh (3), Shiv Partap Singh, said, "Our local intelligence unit sought this data. Details of students from Kashmir, Northeast and foreign countries are sought from time to time. It has nothing to do with the latest clash on AMU campus."

He said the matter was taken up by the varsity administration and no formal complaints were received.

Source: Times Of India

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https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/agra/intel-unit-seeks-personal-info-of-aligarh-muslim-university-students/articleshow/96749538.cms?from=mdr

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Lashkar hand suspected in Rajouri attacks, 1,800 more securitymen posted

Jan 5, 2023

NEW DELHI: The initial needle of suspicion in the two attacks at Rajouri in Jammu and Kashmir seems to be pointing towards Lashker-e-Taiba, with sources indicating that killing of six persons, all Hindus, was aimed at creating a communal divide.

J&K Police also see the latest civilian killings as part of LeT’s larger plan to get a foothold in the Pir Panjal area, particularly in view of terrorists facing the heat in Kashmir region and local LeT commander Talib Hussain’s disclosure after his arrest in July 2022 that he was tasked by Pakistan-based LeT handlers to carry out terror recruitment in Pir Panjal districts including Rajouri.

To scuttle such designs, the J&K administration has moved in around 1,800 central para-military troops to Rajouri and Poonch to aid J&K Police in protecting minority-dominated pockets. Village defence committees (VDCs) have been asked to mount an alert and seek arms for families of which any member volunteers for VDC duty. Upgrade of arms and training of volunteers have been offered to improve the response of VDCs in Rajouri and Poonch districts.

“The entire security grid in Rajouri has been strengthened. Special operations Group (SOG) have been pressed for scaling up counter-terror operations in Jammu division” a senior J&K government official told TOI.

It is suspected that the terrorists who killed four civilians on January 1 may have freshly infiltrated from across Pakistan.

“LeT has been trying to scale up its presence in Pir Panjal for some time by targeting minorities in Rajouri. But it has so far not been successful in driving a communal wedge,” said a J&K government functionary.

A J&K Police source said that Pakistan-based jihadi terrorist outfits are frustrated at the overwhelming response and crowds received by home minister Amit Shah’s public rally in Muslim-dominated Rajouri on October 4, 2022. Shah had, while addressing the rally, announced the government’s intent to grant reservation to the Pahari community under the Scheduled Tribes category, on par with Gujjar and Bakarwal communities. “A section of Muslims may be unhappy at the traction and public support BJP seems to be getting in Rajouri. It seems LeT is trying to channelise this sentiment, by going after the ‘minority’ Hindus. Any backlash by the Hindus is bound to cause communal tension, creating conditions conducive for radicalisation and recruitment of locals for terror acts, thus fitting into LeT’s designs for Pir Panjal,” an official told TOI.

Incidentally, LeT local commander Talib Hussain, who was arrested in Tukson Dhok village of Reasi in July last year, had during his interrogation unveiled LeT’s plans to carry out terror recruitment in Pir Panjal region. Two AK-series rifles, seven grenades, one pistol and a huge cache of ammunition was recovered from the possession of Hussain and another terrorist arrested with him. Hussain was in touch with Qasim, an LeT terrorist based in Pakistan, and also Pakistani LeT handler Salman. He was involved in at least three cases of IED blasts in Rajouri district, besides civilian killings and grenade blasts.

Source: Times Of India

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https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/lashkar-hand-suspected-in-rajouri-attacks/articleshow/96747496.cms

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J&K sees bandh, protests over terror strikes

Jan 5, 2023

JAMMU: The bandh against the twin terror attacks in Rajouri that killed six people and injured 11 others entered its second day in the border town of Poonch on Wednesday while protests were held across the Jammu region.

Security was beefed up in the border districts of Poonch and Rajouri in view of the bandh, officials said.

Shops and business establishments remained closed in the district as hundreds of people, braving cold weather, came out to hold protests.

Raising anti-Pakistan slogans, the protestors burnt tyres and demanded enhancement of security in and around minority places in districts of the Jammu region.

Source: Times Of India

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https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/jk-sees-bandh-protests-over-terror-strikes/articleshow/96746592.cms

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South Asia

 

Afghanistan Raids on Islamic State Hideouts Leave Eight Dead, Says Taliban

JANUARY 05, 2023

Eight people were killed and seven arrested following raids on hideouts of the Islamic State militant group in Afghanistan, a Taliban spokesperson said on Thursday.

”These members had a main role in the attack on the Chinese hotel and paved the way for foreign ISKP members to come to Afghanistan,” the spokesperson, Zabiullah Mujahid, said on Twitter, describing Wednesday’s raids.

Source: News18

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https://www.news18.com/news/world/afghanistan-raids-on-islamic-state-hideouts-leave-eight-dead-says-taliban-6761911.html

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Islamic Emirate Rejects US Official’s Remarks on Its Commitments

By Fatema Adeeb

The Islamic Emirate rejected the remarks by US State Department spokesman Ned Price and said that the Islamic Emirate is committed to all its promises.

The deputy spokesman of the Islamic Emirate, Bilal Karimi, said there is no evidence to show that Afghan soil will be used against any other country.

“All territory of the country is controlled by the Islamic Emirate and there is no evidence to show that there is any action from our country towards other countries and their activities,” Karimi said.

Price said at a press conference that “Taliban have repeatedly broken” their promises.

“And meanwhile, we continue, just as I said a moment ago, to call on the Taliban to uphold the very commitment they have made to see to it that Afghan soil is never again used as a launchpad for international terrorist attacks. These are among the very commitments that the Taliban have been unable or unwilling to fulfill to date,” Price said.

Analysts expressed mixed views on the commitments of the Islamic Emirate and the US remarks.

“The US still interrupts Afghan borders. The US aircraft are still in the Afghan air space,” said Omid Safi, head of the Rawand-e-Pishraft Mili.

“The Islamic Emirate has fulfilled all of its commitments and has not yet violated them. And terrorist groups have not yet acted against any neighboring country or another country,” said Kamran Aman, a political analyst.

Source: Tolo News

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https://tolonews.com/afghanistan-181468

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Daesh militants involved in attack on Pakistan Embassy in Kabul killed: Afghan spokesperson

Tahir Khan

January 5, 2023

Afghan Taliban spokesperson Zabihullah Mujahid said on Thursday that a network of Daesh militants involved in the attack on Pakistan’s embassy in Kabul has been killed in an operation.

On December 2, the embassy in Kabul came under attack with Chargé d’Affaires (CdA) to Afghanistan Ubaidur Rehman Nizamani targeted. Nizamani was unscathed but his guard was critically wounded.

The banned Islamic State group’s Khorasan chapter (IS-K) had claimed responsibility for the attack, confirming that it was targeting the Pakistani envoy.

Subsequently, the Foreign Office had said that they remained in active contact with the Afghan authorities and expressed the confidence that the Dec 2 incident would be fully investigated and the perpetrators and their abettors would be brought to account.

In a statement issued today, Mujahid said Afghan security forces carried out operations in Kabul against a “dangerous network” of the Islamic State group or Daesh who were involved in attacks on the Pakistani embassy and on a hotel where Chinese nationals were staying.

On December 12, Beijing had said that five of its nationals were wounded in a bombing-and-shooting attack. China had later asked its nationals to leave Afghanistan over security concerns.

The Afghan government spokesperson confirmed today that the militants killed in the operation were also involved in a bomb attack near a military airfield in Kabul and several other areas.

He said that a similar operation was also conducted against Daesh in the Western Nimroz province.

Eight Daesh members were killed in the operations on Wednesday, he stated, adding that several foreigners were among those killed.

Mujahid went on to say that the killed terrorists had planned more attacks on key targets. “They planned to bring Daesh members from other countries and launch coordinated attacks.”

The spokesperson said the operation in Kabul was carried out in the Shuda-e-Saliheen and Qalacha areas as well as Zaranj, the capital of Nimroz. Three hideouts were “eliminated” during the operation.

Small arms, hand grenades, mines, suicide jackets and explosives were recovered from the hideout and seven Daesh members were arrested. Some other suspects were also taken into custody for questioning.

The operation in Kabul has once again raised concerns about the activities of Daesh in the capital city and other parts of the country. Taliban rulers usually downplay the threat of Daesh in Afghanistan despite international reports about the growing activities of the group.

Embassy attack

The Foreign Office, in a statement released last month, had confirmed that the target of the attack was Nizamani, who remained unhurt.

The FO had “strongly condemned” the attack, but added the embassy would continue to function normally and there were no plans to withdraw diplomats from Kabul. The Afghan chargé d’affaires was also summoned to the foreign ministry to formally protest over the attack.

According to an official, Nizamani was walking in the Pakistan mission’s lawn in Kabul’s Kart-i-Parwan neighbourhood when terrorists shot at him.

The shots hit a security guard, identified as Sepoy Israr Mohammad, who was “critically injured” while attempting to save Nizamani, according to the FO.

Mohammad, who was hit by two bullets, was shifted to a hospital and later moved to Peshawar via helicopter.

Source: Dawn

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https://www.dawn.com/news/1730052/daesh-militants-involved-in-attack-on-pakistan-embassy-in-kabul-killed-afghan-spokesperson

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Uzbekistan, Pakistan to Conduct Technical Survey of Trans-Afghanistan Railway

By Nizamuddin Rezahi

January 4, 2023

Pakistan and Uzbekistan will conduct a technical survey of the Trans-Afghanistan railway, while jointly bearing the costs of the survey, sources said.

The Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan administration on Tuesday’s newsletter announced that the head of the Afghanistan Railway Authority (ARA), Bakhtul Rahman Sharaft, had visited Pakistan and aimed at initiating talks with his Pakistani authorities on the ‘Trans-Afghanistan Railway project.

In a meeting with Zafar Zaman Ranja, Pakistan’s Deputy Minister of Railways, he assured the commitment of the Taliban to lay the groundwork for conducting technical studies of the Trans-Afghan railway line, according to the new newsletter.

It is also stated that the costs of these technical studies will be jointly paid by Uzbekistan and Pakistan, the primary beneficiaries of the project.

The Trans-Afghanistan railway line starts from northern Mazar-e-Sharif province on the southern border of Uzbekistan and leads to Torkham port between Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Business experts believe that the successful implementation of this railway is of significant importance for all stakeholders including Pakistan, Uzbekistan, and Afghanistan. The railway links South Asia to Central Asia, a unique project of its kind in over 40 years to be established, leading to economic prosperity and trade connectivity in the region.

Source: Khaama Press

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https://www.khaama.com/uzbekistan-pakistan-to-conduct-technical-survey-of-trans-afghanistan-railway/

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UN Security Council To Meet Next Week On Taliban Ban On Female Aid Workers

January 05, 2023

United Nations: The United Nations Security Council is due to meet privately next week to discuss a decision by Afghanistan's Taliban-led administration to ban female humanitarian aid workers, diplomats said Wednesday.

The closed-door meeting was requested by the United Arab Emirates and Japan for Jan. 13. The UAE announced the request in a tweet.

The ban on female aid workers was announced by the Islamist Taliban-led administration on Dec. 24. It followed a ban imposed earlier last month on women attending universities. Girls were stopped from attending high school in March.

U.N. aid chief Martin Griffiths is due to visit Afghanistan in the coming weeks to meet with Taliban officials.

At least four major global groups have suspended operations because they said they were unable to run their programs without female staff.

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Source: ND TV

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https://www.ndtv.com/world-news/un-security-council-to-meet-next-week-on-taliban-ban-on-female-aid-workers-3664908

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Taliban threat dominates China’s policy towards Afghanistan: Report

5 January, 2023

Kabul [Afghanistan], January 5 (ANI): Concerned over the potential spillover of militants from Kabul into the country’s western Xinjiang, China has stepped in and engaged with the new Taliban government, promising trade and investment, Afghan Diaspora Network reported.

More than a year after the United States and NATO pulled out of the Central Asian country, China is one of the few countries that kept their embassies open in Afghanistan even after the Taliban took over in August 2021.

It is worth mentioning that the Taliban during its first rule in Afghanistan from 1996 to 2001 had harboured a number of foreign extremist groups, including Uyghur militants.

China is primarily interested in Afghanistan for security related and specifically preventing any breach of militancy in the Uyghur areas of China. Still, the Taliban’s attack kept Beijing from maintaining its relationship with them.

On December 12, 2022, the attack on Kabul’s hotel, which is frequently visited by Chinese nationals, further aggravated Beijing’s concerns. The Chinese government responded by advising its citizens and companies “to leave and evacuate the country as soon as possible.”

During a regular press conference, Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin said that China was “deeply shocked” and “demands the Afghan side spare no efforts in searching for and rescuing Chinese individuals, and at the same time open a comprehensive investigation, severely punish the attackers, and earnestly strengthen the protection of Chinese citizens and organisations in Afghanistan,” Reuters quoted Wang as saying at a news conference in Beijing.

After this, Taliban spokesperson Abdul Qahar Balkhi informed that the Chinese Ambassador had called on the Taliban “to pay attention” to the security of Beijing’s diplomatic mission in Kabul, according to Afghan Diaspora Network.

Earlier, in 2021, the report noted that the Uyghur militants of the Turkistan Islamic Party, widely accepted as an alias of the Eastern Turkistan Islamic Movement (ETIM), have been active in both Afghanistan and Syria

They seek to establish an Uyghur state in Xinjiang, China, and towards that goal, facilitate the movement of fighters from Afghanistan to China. Chinese officials, who have met the Taliban on a number of occasions, have emphasized that Afghanistan take “resolute” measures to crack down on “all terrorist forces, including the East Turkestan Islamic Movement” (ETIM). While the U.S. removed the ETIM from its terror list in 2020, China continues to designate it as a threat, as per the Afghan Diaspora Network report.

While China is concerned about the spillover of extremism from Afghanistan, the Taliban are “frustrated” by the empty Chinese economic and development promises. In 2016, China signed a BRI agreement with the former Afghan government and promised to fund USD 100 million in projects, but so far no BRI projects have been implemented in Afghanistan.

Source: The Print

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://theprint.in/world/taliban-threat-dominates-chinas-policy-towards-afghanistan-report/1298547/

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Africa

 

Yoruba Muslim scholars urge Nigerians to shun religious politics

05 January 2023

A Group, the Concerned Yoruba Muslim Scholars (CYMS) in Nigeria, yesterday, urged Muslim adherents to reject candidates that would deny them their fundamental human rights during the general elections.

It urged Muslims to reject candidates who would discriminate against them during the 2023 general elections.

The scholars made the call, while addressing journalists at the premises of Ibadan Central Mosque in Oja-Oba area of Ibadan.

Secretary General of the group, Prof. Abideen Olaiya, who addressed journalists on behalf of President-General, Shaykh Abdur-Rasheed Mayaleke, condemned the purported invitation of the Director of Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC), Prof. Ishaq Lakin Akintola, by someone claiming to be calling from the Ibadan office of the Department of State Services (DSS) over a press statement criticising the government of Oyo State for allegedly infringing on the rights of Muslim students.

The group advised the DSS to be professional in its dealings and understand that religious matters are very sensitive and volatile.

In another development, the Nigerian Baptist Convention (NBC), yesterday, urged the Federal Government to take decisive action to address the challenges of economy, migration of young Nigerians overseas and insecurity in the country.

President of the Convention, Rev. (Dr.) Israel Akanji, in a statement, tagged: “Press release on the New Year for Nigeria,” expressed optimism that the sorrow of insecurity, terrorism, economic depression, social vices and religious bigotry would eventually be averted.

Akanji stated this, yesterday, in a statement tagged: “Press release on the New Year for Nigeria, while praying that the country should never experience what happened at the time of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU).

He said that the government should ensure job availability for the unemployed graduates for the future of the nation to be preserved.

The cleric said that experienced professionals had deserted the hospitals owing to poor remuneration.

Source: Guardian Nigeria

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https://guardian.ng/news/yoruba-muslim-scholars-urge-nigerians-to-shun-religious-politics/

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Death toll in Somalia twin car bombings claimed by Al-Shabaab rises to 35

04 January 2023

Death toll in twin car bombings in central Somalia claimed by the Al-Shabab terrorist group has risen to 35, including eight members of a single family, reports cited a senior police officer as saying on Wednesday.

"Most of the dead are civilians. They are women and children," Hassan-Kafi Mohamed Ibrahim, deputy police commissioner of Hirshabelle State, was quoted as saying by the Reuters news agency.

"Only one child survived from a family of nine members. Other families also lost half of their members. The two suicide car bombs burnt many civilian homes to ashes."

Mahas District Commissioner Mumin Mohamed Halane told state radio that one bomb targeted his house and the other hit the home of a federal lawmaker.

Al-Shabab terrorist group claimed responsibility for the deadly attack. Its media office said it targeted "apostate militias and soldiers" and put the number of dead at 87, more than the official figure.

Earlier, a mander of a local militia allied to the government was quoted as saying in reports that 19 people were killed in the bombings.

"Nineteen people, including members of the security forces and civilians, died in the explosions. The terrorists blew up two cars near a military base in Mahas," said Mohamed Moalim Adan.

A police spokesman said the vehicles exploded in a neighborhood full of civilians just after the dawn prayer and the victims included members of security forces, civilians, and journalists who were embedded with soldiers.

Mahas has been at the heart of the Somali government's continuous fight against terrorist groups affiliated with al-Qaeda, which has controlled parts of central and southern Somalia for years.

In July 2022, President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud promised his government would launch a full-scale war against terrorist groups in the region.

Al-Shabaab continues to wreak havoc in the African country. Besides bombings, kidnapping local people has been a tactic employed by the group.

Some news sources reported that al-Shabaab militants kidnapped dozens of people on Monday in the village of Beerhana and Dhogor in Hiran.

The kidnappings largely target farmers, who are critical to food production in a country embroiled in drought and potential famine.

Al-Shabaab has been fighting Somalia’s central government for more than 15 years in an attempt to establish its own rule in the African country.

Source: Press TV

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https://www.presstv.ir/Detail/2023/01/04/695723/Somalia-Shabaab-car-bombings-Hiran

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Libya condemns the Israeli minister's storming of the courtyards of Al-Aqsa Mosque and considers it a provocation to the feelings of Muslims.

2023-01-04

Tripoli, January 4, 2023 (LANA) – Libya condemned the extremist minister of the Israeli occupation government’s storming of the courtyards of Al-Aqsa Mosque, with the protection of the occupation forces, in an attempt to change the historical and legal status quo in Al-Aqsa Mosque.

In a statement posted on its Facebook page today, Wednesday, the ministry denounced this "disgraceful" act and considered it a provocation to the feelings of all Muslims and a flagrant violation of the relevant international resolutions.

In its statement, the ministry held the "Israeli occupation" fully responsible for the repercussions of the continuation of such daily attacks on the city of Jerusalem, its people and its sanctities.

The Ministry reaffirmed Libya's firm stance towards the Palestinian cause, and called on the international community to assume its responsibilities towards putting an end to these Israeli violations that would fuel conflict, extremism and instability in the region.

Source: LANA

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://lana.gov.ly/post.php?id=266513&lang=en

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2023: Reject politician who discriminate, tamper with your rights – Group tells Muslims

January 4, 2023

By Musliudeen Adebayo

The Concerned Yoruba Muslim Scholars, CYMS, in Nigeria have advised Islam adherents to reject candidates who will deny their fundamental human rights during the general elections.

The group tasked Muslims to reject candidates who will discriminate against them during the 2023 general elections.

The scholars made the call on Wednesday while addressing newsmen at the premises of Ibadan Central Mosque, Oja Oba area of Ibadan.

Secretary General, CYMS, Professor Abideen Olaiya, who addressed journalists on behalf of President-General, Shaykh Abdur-Rasheed Mayaleke, said the group aligns with the position of the Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs and Supreme Council for Sharia in Nigeria that Muslims should vote for candidates that can guarantee their fundamental human rights without discrimination.

Olaiya condemned the purported invitation of the Director of Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) Professor Ishaq Lakin Akintola, by someone claiming to be calling from the Ibadan office of the Directorate of Security Services (DSS) over a press statement criticising the government of Oyo State over infringement on the rights of Muslim students.

The group advised the DSS to be professional in its dealings and understand that religious matters are very sensitive and volatile.

It cautioned the organisation not to be used to test the strength of Muslims in the South-West.

It added that injustice against the MURIC director would be considered an attack on Muslims in Yorubaland and Nigeria as a whole.

The group maintained that the security outfit should also remember its purposes of creation and not dabble in matters that could attract hatred to the security outfit.

The group said, “It is unfortunate that religious leaders that should be busy propagating righteousness are now being drawn full-blown into murky waters of partisan politics.

“We hereby align with the position of the Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs and Supreme Council for Sharia in Nigeria that all Muslims should go out and vote for candidates that can guarantee their fundamental human rights without discrimination and for the good governance of the country.

“Our attention was drawn to the purported invitation of the Director of Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) Professor Ishaq Lakin Akintola, on Friday, December 16, 2022, by someone claiming to be calling from the Ibadan office of the Directorate of Security Services (DSS) over a press statement criticising the government of Oyo State over infringement on the rights of Muslims, especially Muslim Students.

“We also appeal to the DSS to be professional and understand that religious matters are very sensitive and volatile. The DSS should not be used to test the strength of Muslims in the South-West as an injustice against the MURIC director would be considered an attack on Muslims in Yorubaland and Nigeria as a whole. The security outfit should also remember its purposes of creation and not dabble into matters that could attract hatred to the security outfit.

Source: Daily Post Nigeria

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://dailypost.ng/2023/01/04/2023-reject-politician-who-discriminate-tamper-with-your-rights-group-tells-muslims/

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35 dead as twin bomb blasts hit Somalia

January 04, 2023

JEDDAH: At least 35 people, including eight members of a single family, died on Wednesday when Al-Shabab terrorists detonated two car bombs in central Somalia.

The attack in the town of Mahas in the Hiran region was the latest in a series by the Al-Qaeda affiliate since government forces and allied clan militias began pushing the insurgents out of territory they had long held.

“Most of the dead are civilians. They are women and children,” said Hassan-Kafi Mohamed Ibrahim, deputy police commissioner of Hirshabelle state.

“Only one child survived from a family of nine. Other families also lost half of their members. The two suicide car bombs burnt many civilian homes to ashes.”

Mahas District Commissioner Mumin Mohamed Halane said one bomb targeted his house and the other hit the home of a member of the Federal Parliament.

Somalia’s President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud has declared “all-out war” against Al-Shabab, which has been waging a bloody insurgency against the frail internationally-backed federal government for 15 years.

In July, local clan militias known as Macawisley launched a revolt against Al-Shabab in parts of central Somalia, and Mohamud sent in troops in September to support the fightback.

In recent months, the army and the militias have retaken large tracts of territory in the central states of Galmudug and Hirshabelle, where Hiran is, in an operation backed by US airstrikes and an African Union force.

However, the insurgents have frequently retaliated with bloody attacks, underlining their ability to strike at the heart of Somali towns and military installations despite the offensive.

Although forced out of the country’s main urban centers about 10 years ago, Al-Shabab remains entrenched in large parts of rural central and southern Somalia. It has carried out frequent attacks in recent months, including several in the capital Mogadishu against government installations and hotels.

Al-Shabab’s activities have also restricted deliveries of international aid, compounding the impact of the Horn of Africa’s worst drought in four decades.

On Oct. 29, 121 people in the capital Mogadishu were killed in two car bomb explosions at the education ministry, the deadliest attack in five years. Eight civilians died on Nov. 27 in a 21-hour siege at a hotel in Mogadishu popular with politicians and government officials.

Source: Arab News

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://www.arabnews.com/node/2226511/world

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URL:   https://newageislam.com/islamic-world-news/iran-cartoons-khamenei-charlie-hebdo/d/128806

 

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