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Islamic World News ( 8 May 2017, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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Iran Threatens To Leave ‘Only Mecca and Medina’ Untouched In Saudi Row


















For their wedding, the happy couple decided to do away with religious ceremonies and just celebrate.

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Iran Threatens To Leave ‘Only Mecca and Medina’ Untouched In Saudi Row

Christian Governor in Indonesia Found Guilty of Blasphemy against Islam

Lashkar-Linked IS Chief, Key to Training of Indian Jihadists, Is Reported Killed In Afghanistan Raid

ISIS Radio Station Destroyed, 34 Militants Killed In East of Afghanistan

Al-Baghdadi Asks For Help in Raqqa at the Two Cities' Mosques

 

Mideast

Iran Threatens To Leave ‘Only Mecca and Medina’ Untouched In Saudi Row

Turkey's Erdogan Calls On Muslims of the World to Flock to 'Al-Aqsa'

Terrorists Safe Havens Will Be Hit In Pakistan, Tehran Warns Islamabad

New Hamas chief backs hunger-striking prisoners

Arab coalition launches air strikes on Houthi sites in Yemen’s Taiz

'Saudi Arabia has grown so miserable it conspires with Israel against Iran'

Erdogan: Relocating US embassy to al-Quds is wrong

Palestinians urge ICRC to deal with mass prison hunger strike

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Southeast Asia

Christian Governor in Indonesia Found Guilty of Blasphemy against Islam

Indonesia to Disband Hizbut Tahrir in Denouncement of Extremist Ideologies

Govt under Umno leadership portrays true image of Islam, says Hishammuddin

IGP confirms death of IS leader Muhammad Wanndy

Top Malaysian Islamic State operative dead in Syria: Police

Pairin: Kaamatan has nothing to do with religion

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India

Lashkar-Linked IS Chief, Key to Training of Indian Jihadists, Is Reported Killed In Afghanistan Raid

No Pheras, No Nikah. This Hindu-Muslim Couple Had A 'Hatke' Wedding Celebration

RSS Muslim Wing Wants PoK, Kailash Mansarovar Merged With India

Muslim Youth Beaten By ‘Hindutva Leader’ Dies in Bhopal

India refuses to soften its stand on China Pakistan Economic Corridor

Mehbooba Mufti blames media for J&K crisis

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South Asia

ISIS Radio Station Destroyed, 34 Militants Killed In East of Afghanistan

Explosion Kills Head Of Parwan Ulema Council, 8 Students in Afghanistan

Cleric from Ahmaddiya community attacked in Bangladesh

Photo of another Bangladeshi al-Qaeda member released online

Government approves 7 contracts worth 2.347 billion Afghanis

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Arab World

Al-Baghdadi Asks For Help in Raqqa at the Two Cities' Mosques

Muslim Brotherhood Willing to Scrap Demand for Mursi’s Return

Egypt kills militants being trained for attacks

ISIS suffer heavy losses and retreat in western Mosul

Brotherhood supreme guide gets new life sentence

Russia seeks UN backing for deal on Syria safe zones

Syrian Army Reinvigorates Security to Key Airbase in Northern Damascus

Damascus Underlines Full Supports for De-Escalation Zones Agreement in Syria

Syrian Army Readying to Launch Fresh Anti-Terrorism Operation in Eastern Aleppo

Next UN peace talks on Syrian conflict to start in Geneva next week

Iraqi volunteer fighters liberate 44 villages; kill 725 Daeshis in one month: Cmdr.

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North America

White House Erases Trump's Call for a Muslim Ban from Website 'Minutes' After Reporter Brings It Up

US Reviews Syria Safe Zones But Warns 'Devil's In the Details'

Trump administration insists travel ban not anti-Muslim

Judges Weigh Trump’s ‘Muslim Ban’ Remarks at Appeals Court Hearing

US anti-Muslim bias incidents increased by 57 per cent in 2016: Reports

Travel ban arguments focus on Donald Trump’s comments about Muslims

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Europe

Germany Gives Asylum to ‘Coup-Linked’ Turkish Soldiers: Media Reports

Belgium’s Largest Region Bans Halal, Kosher Meat

Ted Cruz and John Cornyn grill Russia meddling witness on Muslim travel ban

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Pakistan

PTI to File Petition against PM for Receiving Funding From Osama Bin Laden

Law Enforcement Agencies Harassing Shias: MWM

Pakistan’s entry into the Middle East’s affairs

PM sees considerable scope to boost trade ties with Oman

Sartaj says Afghanistan initiated firing, Pakistan retaliated

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Africa

Libya Forces Advance on Last Jihadist Bastions

Car Bomb Explosion Kills 6 People in Mogadishu, Wounding Nearly Dozen

Roadside bomb kills three soldiers at Somali checkpoint north of capital

1 million children refugees from South Sudan’s civil war

Nigeria: Muslim Women Call for Increase in Nigeria's Health Budget

Nigeria: Kaduna Violence - 18 Suspects Arrested

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau

URL: http://www.newageislam.com/islamic-world-news/new-age-islam-news-bureau/iran-threatens-to-leave-‘only-mecca-and-medina’-untouched-in-saudi-row/d/111083

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Iran threatens to leave ‘only Mecca and Medina’ untouched in Saudi row

May 08, 2017

The threat comes after Saudi prince made unusually blunt comments in a nationally-televised interview

Iran will hit back at most of Saudi Arabia with the exception of Islam’s holiest places if the kingdom does anything “ignorant”, Tehran’s defence minister was quoted as saying on Sunday after a Saudi prince threatened to move the “battle” to Iran.

“If the Saudis do anything ignorant, we will leave no area untouched except Mecca and Medina,” Iranian Defence Minister Hossein Dehghan was quoted by the semi-official Tasnim news agency as saying.

“They think they can do something because they have an air force,” he added in an apparent reference to Yemen, where Saudi warplanes regularly attack Iran-aligned Houthi forces in control of the capital Sanaa.

Dehghan, speaking to Arabic-language Al-Manar TV, was commenting on remarks by Saudi Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who said on Tuesday any contest for influence between the Sunni Muslim kingdom and the revolutionary Shia theocracy ought to take place “inside Iran, not in Saudi Arabia”.

Saudi Arabia and Iran compete for influence in the Middle East and support rival groups in Syria’s civil war. Iran denies Saudi accusations that it sends financial and sometimes armed support to groups hostile to Riyadh around the Arab world.

In unusually blunt comments in a nationally-televised interview on Tuesday, Prince Mohammed ruled out any dialogue with Iran and pledged to protect his conservative kingdom from what he called Tehran’s efforts to dominate the Muslim world.

“We know that we are a main goal for the Iranian regime,” he said. “We will not wait until the battle becomes in Saudi Arabia but we will work to have the battle in Iran rather than in Saudi Arabia.”

http://www.dhakatribune.com/world/middle-east/2017/05/08/iran-threatens-leave-mecca-medina-untouched-saudi-row/

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Christian Governor in Indonesia Found Guilty of Blasphemy Against Islam

By JOE COCHRANE

MAY 9, 2017

JAKARTA, Indonesia — An Indonesian court found the Christian governor of Jakarta guilty of blasphemy against Islam on Tuesday, sentencing him to two years in prison in a case widely seen as a test of religious tolerance and free speech.

The governor, Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, was defeated last month in an election in which the blasphemy case, and religion, became a major issue.

Blasphemy is a crime in Indonesia, a secular democracy with the world’s largest Muslim population.

The sentence was harsher than what prosecutors had asked for. They had recommended a sentence of two years’ probation on a lesser charge, which would have spared Mr. Basuki prison time.

Mr. Basuki told reporters that he would appeal the ruling.

Mr. Basuki became governor of Jakarta, the capital, in 2014 when his predecessor, Joko Widodo, became president. Mr. Basuki, known as Ahok, was only the city’s second non-Muslim governor and had hoped to become its first directly elected non-Muslim leader.

He had been leading in the polls last year, but in September his campaign faltered when he tried to address attacks from Muslim hard-liners who argued that the Quran forbade Muslims from voting for a non-Muslim. Mr. Basuki said those making that argument were misleading Muslims, a statement that was interpreted by some as insulting the Quran.

Muslim groups organized mass rallies against him, demanding that he be jailed for blasphemy.

His defeat last month was seen as a sign of the increasing power of Muslim conservatives, who have pressed for the adoption of Islamic law, or Shariah, throughout the archipelago.

Indonesia has more than 190 million Muslims and smaller numbers of Christians, Hindus and Buddhists among its population of 250 million.

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/05/09/world/asia/indonesia-governor-ahok-basuki-tjahaja-purnama-blasphemy-islam.html?rref=collection%2Ftimestopic%2FIslam&_r=0

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Lashkar-Linked IS Chief, Key to Training of Indian Jihadists, Is Reported Killed In Afghanistan Raid

By Praveen Swami

May 9, 2017

Sheikh Abdul Hasib, head of Islamic State’s operations in Afghanistan and the central figure in a multinational operation to train Indian jihadists in the Nangarhar mountains, has been killed with several other commanders and at least 35 fighters, according to USFOR, the headquarters of US forces in the war-torn country. Sources in Afghanistan told The Indian Express that the raid by Afghan and US special forces on April 27, which claimed Hasib’s life, was part of strikes that also led to the death of two IS members from Kerala: Bestin Vincent alias Yahiya from Palakkad, and the commander of Indian jihadists in the region, Sajeer Mangalasseri Abdulla, a former resident of Sultan Batheri.

USFOR said, “(Hasib) directed the March 8 attack against Kabul National Military Hospital, which resulted in the deaths and injury of over one hundred innocent Afghans. Hasib also directed fighters to behead local elders in front of their families and ordered the kidnapping of women and girls to force them to marry Islamic State fighters.”

General John Nicholson, commander of USFOR, said, “This successful joint operation is another important step in our relentless campaign to defeat the Islamic State in 2017.”

Left increasingly leaderless by the raids, the survivors of the 25-strong community from Kerala, who once lived in homes seized from local villagers, are believed to have retreated deeper into the Spin Ghar mountains, making reliable communications with their families more difficult.

Haseeb, appointed emir or head of the Islamic State’s Khorasan branch by the organisation’s so-called caliph Ibrahim Awad al-Badri in November 2016, had a long-standing relationship with Pakistan-based jihadist groups, including the Lashkar-e-Taiba.

The LeT ties, Afghan intelligence officials say, were key to his decision to take on a number of Indian jihadists in the group’s ranks.

Educated during his early years at the Jami’a Imam Bukhari of Haji Inayat-ur-Rehman in Peshawar, Haseeb later studied at another seminary in the city, Abu Muhammad Aminullah’s Ganj madrasa.

FBI notices seeking Aminullah’s arrest say he is “wanted for questioning in connection with providing material support to Al-Qaeda, the Taliban and anti-coalition militias, with the aid of a Pakistan-based terrorist group, Lashkar-e-Taiba”.

Aminullah, it says, operates as “a financier, recruiter and weapons facilitator for the [Ganj] madrasa”.

The two seminaries where Haseeb studied were set up with the support of the LeT, as part of an effort to establish an ideological base loyal to the Ahl-e-Hadith’s jihadist wing in the region. At the time, this wing was dominated by mujahideen groups with theological roots in seminaries that were linked to the Deobandi movement in Pakistan, or to local traditions in Afghanistan.

In 1990, the new Lashkar-backed party — Jamil-ur-Rahman’s Jama’at al-Dawa ila al-Qur’an wal-Sunna — contested local elections held by mujahideen groups in Afghanistan’s Kunar province, and set up an Islamic emirate.

Helped by the Lashkar’s Hafiz Saeed, it succeeded in raising extensive funds from Saudi Arabia, even though it was not among the seven mujahideen parties officially recognised by Pakistan. The patronage made it powerful enemies, though, key among them warlord Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, who decimated the group by 1991.

Abdul Rahim Muslim Dost, who swore an oath of loyalty to the Islamic State in June, 2014, and was then appointed deputy chief of its Afghan chapter — only to defect the following year — was among Jamil-ur-Rahman’s deputies in the Kunar Islamic Emirate.

The Islamic State in Afghanistan, though, became a magnet for many Pakistani jihadists evicted from their country by the Pakistan army. In October, 2014, slain jihadist Sheikh Maqbool — a former Tehreek-e-Taliban spokesperson — pledged allegiance to the Islamic State saying “the Quran makes it mandatory for the Muslims to follow their caliph”.

Five other Tehreek-e-Taliban leaders joined him in the pledge including the first chief of the new Islamic State Khorasan wing, Saeed Khan, who was killed in a drone strike in November.

Intense operations targeting the Islamic State in Afghanistan, intelligence sources said, have disrupted plans to move Indian jihadists still with the Islamic State in Syria, as well as new volunteers, to locations in Nangarhar. These plans are suspected to have been firmed up this summer, western intelligence sources sources say, when the Islamic State moved its leadership to al-Mayadin, in Syria’s Deir es-Zor region, deep in the Euphrates valley.

Even as leaders and their families were barred from leaving the city without permission, top foreign commanders were told to prepare to wage a long war in the periphery, using the cadre in their home countries rather than in the so-called caliphate.

Following this, instead of calling potential recruits to Syria, Indian Islamic State recruiters began distributing instructions on making simple improvised explosive devices, and urged followers to stage attacks on Hindu nationalist leaders and Muslims critical of the jihadist movement. Those who demonstrated commitment, intelligence officials believe, were to be called to Afghanistan.

http://indianexpress.com/article/india/lashkar-linked-is-chief-key-to-training-of-indian-jihadists-is-reported-killed-in-afghanistan-raid-4647009/

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ISIS radio station destroyed, 34 militants killed in East of Afghanistan

May 08 2017

A radio station airing propaganda in the favor of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) terrorist group was destroyed during an operation in eastern Nangarhar province of Afghanistan.

The Ministry of Interior (MoI) said “In past 24 hours, 34 Daesh terrorists killed and a radio station run by Daesh terrorists destroyed after Afghan Air Forces targeted militants’ hideouts in the Naziyan and Achin districts of eastern Nangarhar province.” The statement further added that the station was broadcasting illegally across Nangarhar, spreading the group’s extremist messages and issuing threats to the people and governmental staffs.

“The Afghan National Defense and Security Forces have stepped up Counter-Terrorism operations to suppress the insurgency activities of the terror groups,” the statement added.

This is not the first the radio station of ISIS loyalists has been destroyed during the counter-terrorism operations in Nangarhar province.

A radio station of the terror group was destroyed in a similar operation conducted in Nangarhar province in mid-July last year.

Nangarhar is among the relatively calm provinces in eastern Afghanistan but the anti-government armed militant groups have recently increased their insurgency activities in some parts of the province during the recent years.

Both the Afghan and US forces conducted regular strikes against the loyalists of the terror group in this province.

The increased raids, usually involving drone strikes, by the US forces followed a broader role granted by the Obama administration earlier last year.

http://www.khaama.com/isis-radio-station-destroyed-34-militants-killed-in-east-of-afghanistan-02737

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Al-Baghdadi Asks For Help in Raqqa at the Two Cities' Mosques

May 08, 2017

Local sources in Raqqa said that al-Baghdadi has also ordered his comrades to adopt more strict security measures and prevent tens of civilians from fleeing the city.

They added that the ISIL has seized 20 boats that were used to transfer the civilians on the Northern and Southern coasts of Euphrates River.

Also, the ISIL has stopped operations to transfer tens of civilian families from Raqqa to the SDF-controlled areas.

The sources said that the ISIL forces are now on alert in Raqqa.

Other reports from Deir Ezzur and Raqqa also said that the ISIL has in recent days recited al-Baghdadi's demand for help at the two cities' mosques, calling on Muslims in the ISIL-controlled areas to mobilize against the SDF attacks in Raqqa.

Latest reports from Raqqa said that the SDF continued their advances against ISIL and pushed them back from Watani hospital in the Western part of al-Tabaqa city in Northeastern Syria.

Firat news agency reported on Monday that the Kurdish fighters engaged in tough battle with ISIL and managed to capture Watani hospital in al-Tabaqa city, killing four terrorists, including one of their leaders, Abu Mohammad Al-Qahtani.

In the meantime, the Kurdish Hawar news reported that the SDF stormed ISIL's positons in different parts of al-Tabaqa city, killing up to 19 militants.

The agency specified that four snipers were among the ISIL militants killed in the clashes in al-Tabaqa neighborhoods of Hey Ewwel and Hey Salis.

The news agency noted that two SDF fighters were injured during the clashes.

Well-informed sources reported on Saturday that a sum of 76 ISIL terrorists were killed in clashes with the SDF in a village in Western Raqqa.

The sources said that the SDF continued their operation codenamed the Euphrates Rage to hit ISIL's positions in Raqqa province and managed to capture the village of Sahel al-Khashab after four-day-long clashes with ISIL East of Sweida al-Kabireh settlement.

The ISIL lost 76 members in the SDF attack, they added.

In the meantime, heavy fighting is underway between the SDF and the ISIL in the trinary neighborhoods of 1, 2 and 3 in al-Tabaqa city.  

http://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13960218001821

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Mideast

 

Turkey's Erdogan Calls On Muslims Of The World To Flock To 'Al-Aqsa'

MAY 8, 2017

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Monday called on Muslims to visit al-Aqsa Mosque on the Temple Mount as frequently as possible.

“As a Muslim community, we need to visit al-Aqsa Mosque often – each day that Jerusalem is under occupation is an insult to us,” he said, according to the Turkish news agency Daily Sabah.

Erdogan spoke at the opening ceremony of a two-day conference in Istanbul called “The International Forum on Al-Quds Wakf.”

Erdogan also took issue in particular with the pending Knesset legislation referred to as the Muezzin bill. The legislation would prevent mosques in Israel from using loudspeakers outside their buildings for prayer late at night and early in the morning.

“The bill to ban the adhan [call to prayer] is pending at the Israeli parliament,” Erdogan said. “It is disgraceful for those who lecture us about the freedom of religion to turn a blind eye to this attempt. Turkey will not let these attempts against freedom of belief to prevail.”

“Why are they afraid of the call to prayer?” the Turkish leader asked, according to the Daily Sabah. “Are they unsure of their own fate? We do not and will not treat our Jewish citizens like that.”

The Foreign Ministry immediately issued a harsh retort.

“Those who systematically violate human rights in their own country should not preach to the only true democracy in the region,” said Foreign Ministry spokesman Emmanuel Nachshon. “Israel consistently protects total freedom of worship for Jews, Muslims and Christians – and will continue to do so despite the baseless slander launched against it.”

Erdogan also spoke against the possibility that the United States might relocate its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

With regard to the new Hamas charter, Erdogan said that it could bring about a solution to the Palestinian issue and end the inter-Palestinian conflict. He added that his nation supports diplomatic efforts on the Palestinian issue, and that the first and last condition to a solution on the Palestinian issue is “the establishment of an independent state in the 1967 borders.”

Israel and Turkey re-established full diplomatic ties only last year, after a six-year suspension.

http://www.jpost.com/Israel-News/Turkeys-Erdogan-lashes-out-against-Muezzin-Bill-US-embassy-transfer-490142

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Terrorists safe havens will be hit in Pakistan, Tehran warns Islamabad

May 08 2017

Iran has warned that the safe havens of the terrorist group will be hit if the Pakistani government failed to take actions against them.

The head of the Iranian armed forces Major General Mohammad Baqeri issued the warnings following a deadly attack that left at least ten Iranian soldiers dead as the Iranian authorities accuse the militants based in Pakistan for carrying out the attack.

“We cannot accept the continuation of this situation,” Major General Mohammad Baqeri, the head of the Iranian armed forces was quoted as saying by Reuters.

According to the Iranian authorities, the soldiers were killed with the long-range guns by Jaish al Adl, a Sunni militant group based inside Pakistan.

Gen. Baqeri further added “We expect the Pakistani officials to control the borders, arrest the terrorists and shut down their bases.”

“If the terrorist attacks continue, we will hit their safe havens and cells, wherever they are,” he said.

Full report at:

http://www.khaama.com/terrorists-safe-havens-will-be-hit-in-pakistan-tehran-warns-islamabad-02738

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New Hamas chief backs hunger-striking prisoners

May 09, 2017

GAZA CITY - New Hamas leader Ismail Haniya pledged support for hunger-striking Palestinian prisoners on Monday in his first comments since being elected as head of the movement that runs the Gaza Strip.

Haniya, who was chosen by the party as its new leader on Saturday, said the Islamist movement stood with the hundreds of prisoners on hunger strike in Israeli jails. "This visit is a message to our heroic prisoners that your cause was and will remain a top priority," he said during a visit to a protest in support of the strikers in Gaza. "Your freedom is a national duty and your dignity is our dignity," the 54-year-old added.

Hamas has run Gaza since 2007 but is considered a terrorist organisation by Israel, the United States and the European Union. Hundreds of Palestinians in Israeli jails have been refusing food since April 17. Israeli authorities put the current figure at 860 hunger strikers, while Palestinian officials say 1,500 have been participating.

They have issued a list of demands including better medical services, family visits and more dignified detention conditions. The strike is being led by Marwan Barghouti, a member of Fatah -- a rival political faction to Hamas.

On Sunday, Israeli authorities distributed video footage purporting to show Barghouti secretly eat in his cell.

Barghouti's wife and other Palestinian officials dismissed the video as fake and an attempt to break the hunger strikers.

Some 850,000 Palestinians have been incarcerated since Israel's occupation of their territories 50 years ago, Palestinian leaders say. Haniya, seen as a pragmatist within Hamas, was elected by its Shura Council Saturday. Unlike his predecessor Khaled Meshaal he is expected to be based in Gaza, the Palestinian enclave Hamas has run since 2007 after expelling Fatah following a near civil war.

Full report at:

http://nation.com.pk/international/09-May-2017/new-hamas-chief-backs-hunger-striking-prisoners

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Arab coalition launches air strikes on Houthi sites in Yemen’s Taiz

8 May 2017

Nineteen air strikes launched by Saudi-led coalition forces in Yemen killed at least 20 Houthi militias and rebels affiliated with ousted President Ali Abdullah Saleh and injured around 3o more.

The coalition’s airstrikes targeted Khaled bin al-Walid camp in Mawza and in Maqbanah in west Taiz and destroyed a weapons storage facility, three vehicles and one armored vehicle.

Meanwhile, legitimate forces in Yemen achieved some military gains in Mawza as they continue to besiege Khaled bin al-Walid camp for a month now and prepare to retake it from the militias.

Six Houthis were also killed and several others were injured in Yemeni army shelling on the al-Waash mountain, northwest of Taiz.

Full report at:

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/gulf/2017/05/08/Arab-coalition-launches-air-strikes-on-Houthi-sites-in-Yemen-s-Taiz.html

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'Saudi Arabia has grown so miserable it conspires with Israel against Iran'

May 9, 2017

Iran’s defense minister says Saudi Arabia, which has a history of teaming up with other regimes against Tehran, has now become so miserable as to ally itself with Israel against the Islamic Republic.

Brigadier General Hossein Dehqan made the remarks in an interview fully broadcast on Arabic-language Al-Manar TV on Monday.

Brig. Gen. Dehqan said that over the past 38 years since the establishment of the Islamic Republic, Saudi Arabia has gone out of its way to interfere in regional affairs to oppose Iran.

He said Riyadh spent lavishly to support the former Iraqi regime and the Persian Gulf littoral states against Iran in the eight-year Iraq-Iran war of the 1980s. He also referred to the Saudi intervention in Lebanese politics and said the Saudi rulers offered massive financial and political support to the groups they wanted in power in Lebanon. The Saudis also offered weapons to such groups.

“Then, let’s looks at what they have done in Iraq and Syria today. At what they are doing in Yemen today,” Dehqan said.

Saudi Arabia has been a known sponsor of extremist Wahhabi groups wreaking havoc in the region and beyond. It has also been leading a group of its vassal states in a war on impoverished Yemen since March 2015.

“Today, what we’re seeing is Saudi Arabia has become so miserable. So much so that it has convinced itself to curry favor with [Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu and incite it (the Israeli regime) against us,” the Iranian defense minister said.

Last Tuesday, the Saudi defense minister, Mohammed bin Salman, claimed in a televised interview that Saudi Arabia would fight what he called Iranian attempts to expand its influence in the region.

“We are a primary target for the Iranian regime,” Mohammed said.

He also accused Iran of seeking to take over Islamic holy sites in Saudi Arabia. “We won’t wait for the battle to be in Saudi Arabia. Instead, we’ll work so that the battle is for them in Iran,” Mohammed said in controversial remarks.

The Iranian defense minister, in his interview with Arabic-language Al-Manar, responded by rejecting the accusation that Iran was after taking over territory.

“We have never been and will never be after occupying any Arab or Muslim country,” Brig. Gen. Dehqan said.

The Yemeni conflict

Responding to a question on how the Yemeni conflict could end, Brig. Gen. Dehqan said it was easy to think of a solution.

“First [should come] a Saudi withdrawal from Yemen. Second, a Saudi refusal to interfere in the affairs of other Islamic countries. Third, accepting the collective security order in the region, and the pullout of extra-regional forces. Fourth, submitting to people’s rule over their own fate.”

An Israeli war on Iran?

Dehqan was asked if the Israeli regime was capable of launching a war on Iran. He said he would respond by asking a question of his own.

“I answer your question with a question. Could Israel successfully end the 33-Day War [on Lebanon]?” He said.

“Did Hezbollah, in a country limited [in terms of resources] as Lebanon [was], have access to massive financial and arms backup? Did Israel, in the 33-Day War, have any other means in its inventory not to have used?” he further rhetorically asked.

The 33-day Israeli war on Lebanon saw steadfast resistance by Hezbollah, culminating in a pullout of forces by the Israeli regime.

Once again asked if Israel could attack Iran, Dehqan said, “Do not doubt that it would if it could.”

Full report at:

http://www.presstv.ir/Detail/2017/05/09/521155/Iran-defense-minister-Hossein-Dehqan-Saudi-Arabia-miserable-Israel

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Erdogan: Relocating US embassy to al-Quds is wrong

May 9, 2017

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan says that even relocating a stone in Israeli-occupied Jerusalem al-Quds will have serious implications, let alone moving the US embassy there from Tel Aviv.

Erdogan made the remark on Monday, while stressing that all debates over the subject should be halted as such a move would very wrong.

"The debates over the possibility of US moving its Israel embassy to Jerusalem are extremely wrong and should certainly drop from the agenda," he said in Istanbul.

The planned relocation of the American embassy to al-Quds remains a controversial issue and it has sparked fears of a renewed outbreak of violence across the Middle East.

During the 2016 presidential campaign, US President Donald Trump promised Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that he would recognize Jerusalem al-Quds as Israel’s undivided capital.  

Earlier in the month, US Vice President Mike Pence said that Trump is giving “serious consideration” to moving the embassy.

Full report at:

http://www.presstv.ir/Detail/2017/05/09/521129/erdogan-palestine-embassy-tel-aviv-us

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Palestinians urge ICRC to deal with mass prison hunger strike

May 8, 2017

Dozens of relatives of Palestinian prisoners, who have stopped eating their food portions in Israeli jails in protest at the administrative detention policy and harsh prison conditions, have called upon the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) to shoulder its responsibilities and address the miseries of the inmates.

During a demonstration outside the ICRC office in the northern occupied West Bank city of Nablus on Monday, the protesters asked the Geneva-based humanitarian institution to “do its duty” and save the hunger strikers – many of whom are so emaciated that they cannot walk or stand, or are suffering from skin problems and constant vomiting.

Mothers of hunger strikers said they wanted the ICRC to take more concrete measures and expose “the oppressive practices inside Israeli jails.”

Meanwhile, the National Committee to Support Palestinian Prisoners’ Hunger Strike called on the Palestinian Authority (PA) to suspend municipal elections scheduled to be held Saturday and halt its contested security coordination with Israel, Maan news agency reported.

A number of Palestinian political factions have already boycotted the elections, including the Hamas movement, Islamic Jihad, and the leftist Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), amid growing anger against the PA.

New Hamas leader expresses solidarity with Palestinian strikers

Meanwhile, the new chairman of Hamas political bureau says the Islamic resistance movement stands with Palestinian hunger strikers.

Speaking during a visit to a sit-in in solidarity with the prisoners in Gaza City on Monday, Ismail Haniyeh stated that “This visit is a message to our heroic prisoners that your cause has been and will remain a top priority for Hamas and Palestinian leadership under any circumstances.”

"Your freedom is a national duty and your dignity is our dignity,” he added.

Haniyeh stressed that the hunger-striking prisoners will eventually achieve their goals and aspirations through the struggle, calling on Palestinians from all walks of life  to continue their rallies and sit-ins in solidarity with the prisoners until the occupying regime of Israel responds to their demands.

Since April 17, more than 1,600 Palestinian prisoners have joined the protest action, dubbed the Freedom and Dignity Strike, which was initially called by imprisoned and former Fatah movement leader Marwan Barghouti.

The strikers are demanding basic rights, such as an end to the policies of administrative detention, solitary confinement and deliberate medical negligence.

The much criticized administrative detention is a policy under which Palestinian inmates are kept in Israeli detention facilities without trial or charge.

Back in 2012, a similar hunger strike, involving some 2,000 Palestinian inmates, ended after an agreement was reached with Israeli authorities to terminate the policy of internment without trial or charge.

Full report at:

http://www.presstv.ir/Detail/2017/05/08/521099/Palestinian-hunger-strikers-ICRC-plight-Hamas-Ismail-Haniyeh

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Southeast Asia

 

Indonesia to Disband Hizbut Tahrir in Denouncement of Extremist Ideologies

May 09, 2017

Jakarta. The government said on Monday (08/05) it will pursue the disbandment of Hizbut Tahrir Indonesia, or HTI, on the basis that the organization's activities contradict values enshrined in state ideology Pancasila and the 1945 Constitution.

After a series of prolonged assessments, government representatives concluded that the "activities of HTI indicate that [the organization] runs afoul of Pancasila and the 1945 Constitution," Chief Security Minister Wiranto said, as reported by Kompas.com. Calls to disband the organization have mounted in recent months, amid renewed public concerns that its activities jeopardize national unity. The organization's dissolution is supported by human rights activists, who emphasize the importance of dismantling HTI following proper "legal procedures."

"After taking a close look at various [HTI activities], as well as taking into account widespread public opinion on the matter, the government has decided to take concrete steps to ultimately disband HTI," Wiranto said.

Government officials believe HTI's activities and pronouncements strongly contradict the goals, principles and traits enshrined in Pancasila, as regulated under the Law on Mass Organizations. Wiranto added that the organization has encouraged conflict and has worked to undermine national unity.

National Police chief Gen. Tito Karnavian said his agency will provide evidence to state prosecutors as they work to disband HTI.

"Our role is to give information and data regarding HTI activities that contradict the values enshrined in Pancasila and the constitution," Tito said, as quoted from state news agency Antara.

According to Indonesian law, the responsibility of disbanding an organization such as HTI falls on the Attorney General's Office upon request by the Justice and Home Affairs ministries.

Hizbut Tahrir is an international organization aimed at establishing a pan-Islamic theocracy in the Muslim world by removing existing, pluralist governments, whether by coercion or other means. The organization was originally founded by Syaikh Taqiuddin al-Nabhani in 1953 as a Sunni Muslim group based out of Jerusalem.

The organization was introduced to Indonesia in 1983 by an Islamic cleric of Jordanian-Lebanese descent, named Abdur-Rahman al-Baghdadi. HTI remains a largely campus-based movement with well-attended rallies and meetings unsuppressed by government agencies.

Indonesia has been called the party's "strongest base," where in 2007 tens of thousands of Jakartans gathered in a local stadium to show support for the organization's proposed pan-Islamic caliphate.

According to non-profit International Crisis Group, HTI may have ties to violent extremist groups such as Jemaah Islamiyah, the terrorist network responsible for the 2002 Bali bombings.

Despite its nonviolent nature, the organization has been banned in several countries.

Former Intelligence Agency (BIN) chief AM. Hendropriyono said HTI's ideology and goal of attaining a pan-Islamic caliphate has no future in Indonesia.

"An Islamic caliphate would not preserve political and social rights for minorities. Indonesia guarantees the rights of every citizen without exception," Hendropriyono said.

Over the past six months, Hizbut Tahrir and its members have played an active role – alongside the Guardians of the Indonesian Ulema Council's Fatwas (GNPF-MUI) – in organizing mass demonstrations aimed at the ouster and imprisonment of incumbent Jakarta Governor Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama.

http://jakartaglobe.id/news/government-disband-hizbut-tahrir-denouncement-extremist-ideologies/

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Govt under Umno leadership portrays true image of Islam, says Hishammuddin

May 8, 2017

KUALA LUMPUR, May 8 — Malaysia’s image as a country championing true concept of Islam continues to be recognised by the presence of more leaders from Arab countries on official visits here.

Umno vice-president Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein said the visits included those by King Salman Abdulaziz Al-Saud of Saudi Arabia, and King of Bahrain, King Hamad Bin Isa Al Khalifa in recent times, demonstrating that the national agenda to translate the true image of Islam was being practised here.

“We have also been informed that the Saudi crown prince and Emir of Qatar will make an official visit, and the Prime Minister’s Office will announce these important visits in the near future.

“In fact, the establishment of the King Salman Centre of International Peace is very important in a world full of divide and a skewed perception of Islam,” he said in an interview in conjunction with Umno’s 71st anniversary here today.

The presence of the Arab world leaders here could be described as the “linking of a like-minded people” in order to promote tolerance, harmony and moderation as the true image of Islam, he added.

Hishammuddin, who is also defence minister and Sembrong MP said all these would not be possible without the wisdom and leadership of the federal government under Umno and the Barisan Nasional.

In addition, he said, Malaysia was in talks with Saudi Arabia to conduct military exercises.

At the Asean level, he said Malaysia, known as the gateway to the region had good relations with its neighbours and it was very important to curb the advance of the terrorists such as Daesh and Aby Sayyaf, who were trying to hide behind the image of Islam.

Full report at:

http://www.themalaymailonline.com/malaysia/article/govt-under-umno-leadership-portrays-true-image-of-islam-says-hishammuddin

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IGP confirms death of IS leader Muhammad Wanndy

May 8, 2017

PETALING JAYA: Police have confirmed the death in Syria of Muhammad Wanndy Mohamed Jedi, the Islamic State (IS) terror group’s principal coordinator for Malaysia.

Inspector-General of Police Khalid Abu Bakar today said intelligence gathered by the agency had verified that the 27 year old, who is on the United States’ most wanted list for involvement in funding and providing operational support for IS, was killed during an attack.

“After examining the intelligence that has been obtained, the Royal Malaysia Police now confirms that Muhamad Wandy (sic) was killed in an attack in Raqqa, Syria, on April 29, 2017,” he said in a Facebook posting.

Wanndy’s death in the small town of Ma’adan in Raqqa district was first reported following an announcement apparently made by his wife, Nor Mahmudah Ahmad, on her Facebook page on April 29.

“My dear fighter, finally it’s your time to go,” she was quoted as saying in the posting.

“I will remain here and take care of the responsibilities you have left behind … Although my heart has not been as strong as I expected, I accept it as fate.”

However, security officials were later quoted as wondering if he had staged his own death to avoid detection since he was wanted.

Wanndy, from Durian Tunggal in Malacca, left for Syria in 2014 with Nor.

He was reportedly linked to the grenade attack on the Movida club in Puchong on June 28 last year, said to be the first attack by IS in Malaysia.

The police named him as the man who gave orders to carry out the attack. Eight people watching a European football match at 2.15am at the club were injured.

However, Wanndy was quoted by Astro Awani in July as saying he did not issue instructions to the two men arrested in connection with the blast.

He nevertheless vowed to avenge those who had been “persecuted” by Malaysian authorities, by launching large-scale attacks here.

Full report at:

http://www.freemalaysiatoday.com/category/nation/2017/05/08/igp-confirms-death-of-is-leader-muhammad-wanndy/

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Top Malaysian Islamic State operative dead in Syria: Police

May 9, 2017

Malaysia’s police chief said the country’s top Islamic State operative was killed in an attack in Syria last month. Muhammad Wanndy Mohamed Jedi, 26, was believed to have been responsible for a grenade blast at a bar in a suburb outside Kuala Lumpur last June that injured eight people. It was the first attack in the country by the Islamic State militant group.

Inspector General of Police Khalid Abu Bakar tweeted late Monday that intelligence had been obtained that Muhammad Wanndy died in an attack in Raqqa, Syria, on April 29. He didn’t give further details.

Muhammad Wanndy, who was born in the southern state of Malacca, left for Syria with his wife in 2014. In March, the US Treasury Department listed him under their list of global militants.

Full report at:

http://indianexpress.com/article/world/police-top-malaysian-islamic-state-operative-dead-in-syria-4647247/

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Pairin: Kaamatan has nothing to do with religion

BY JULIA CHAN

May 9, 2017

KOTA KINABALU, May 9 ― Incensed and in disbelief at the notion of an “Islamic Kaamatan”, Sabah deputy chief minister Tan Sri Pairin Kitingan said today that the festival is a cultural celebration for everybody and is separate from religion.

Pairin, who is Huguon Siou or the paramount leader of the Kadazandusun, lambasted the organisers for being either “ignorant” or having intentions to alter the real meaning of Sabah’s beloved harvest festival celebration.

“I thought that this was not a true event. But now it seems that someone has actually initiated such an event. Kaamatan is a cultural festival and has nothing to do with religion,” he said in a statement.

“Either the organisers are completely ignorant of the noble intentions of Kaamatan just as we all celebrate Hari Raya and Chinese New Year or they have a deliberate agenda to completely change Kaamatan into something completely different.”

Pairin, who is also president of the Kadazandusun Cultural Organisation, said the theme of this year’s celebration ― “Kaamatan Foundation of Unity” ― was chosen to reflect that the festival was for everybody regardless of background, race or creed.

He was commenting on the controversy over the “Islamic Kaamatan” celebration that was being organised by Muslim convert group Hidayah Centre Foundation. Photos of the event with ladies covered up from head to toe in loose robes were garnering attention on social media, mostly criticising the organisers for bringing religion into the cultural festival.

The organiser of the event, Hidayah Centre Foundation chairman Nicholas Sylvester has since said he had no ill intent and would remove the word “Islamic” from the event. He said he was merely providing a Shariah-compliant celebration for the native Muslims.

Pairin said it has been his hope that the Kaamatan Festival will enhance the understanding and spirit of friendship among peoples of different background.

He said that the Prime Minister has underlined the philosophy of “wasatiyyah” or moderation to be society's guide over the years, and it would be a shame if the country’s unity were destroyed by a handful of people who may have been “misled in their zeal to overshadow other people.”

“I hope we all continue to support our good intentions and that of our governments to create a conducive environment for understanding,  friendship, love, brotherhood, patriotism, and unity, to flourish,” he said.

Kadazan Society of Sabah deputy president Datuk John Sikayun also said that Kaamatan must be about cultures, traditions, and the preservation of the Sabahan native’s ancestral heritage.

“To the KDM, it's a sacred tribute to paddy.. our source of life since time immemorial...and nothing to do with religion. It's taboo to digress from it and never part of the equation,” he said through text message, using the acronym for Kadazan Dusun and Murut.

Full report at:

http://www.themalaymailonline.com/malaysia/article/pairin-kaamatan-has-nothing-to-do-with-religion

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India

 

No Pheras, No Nikah. This Hindu-Muslim Couple Had A 'Hatke' Wedding Celebration

May 09, 2017

NEW DELHI:  "We're not doing a nikah, we're not doing pheras," says Junaid Shaikh. "We are just having a celebration. It's a celebration of two cultures and two families."

Junaid Shaikh, who Muslim, and Garima Joshi, who is Hindu, thought their relationship came with a full stop because of their different religious backgrounds. So when their families approved after the two had been dating for a long time, as Junaid says, it was the best day of his life.

And to mark this joyous occasion, the happy couple decided to do away with all religious ceremonies on their wedding day and just celebrate the union of two cultures. Even the wedding hashtag they chose - #ShaikhItWithJosh - denotes that.

As they danced the night away, Shutterdown Photography decided to document their journey in a beautiful video that has since gone viral. Watch it below and we are certain you won't stop smiling:

With over 37,000 views since it was posted on April 17, Junaid and Garima's wedding video has certainly been a hit amongst viewers. "Awwww...This video can only bring a smile and tears of joy," says one commenter on Facebook.

Let us know what you think of the video using the comments section below.

http://www.ndtv.com/offbeat/no-pheras-no-nikah-this-hindu-muslim-couple-had-a-hatke-wedding-celebration-1691224

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RSS Muslim wing wants PoK, Kailash Mansarovar merged with India

May 09, 2017

The Muslim arm of the Rashtriya Swayamsevask Sangh (RSS) has passed a resolution for merger of Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK) and Kailash Mansarovar with India.

Kailash Mansarovar, a pilgrimage site for Hindus, is in Tibet.

The Muslim Rashtriya Manch (MRM) at its two-day national executive meeting that concluded over the weekend in Uttarakhand’s Roorkee resolved to push the Centre for the unification of the two Kashmirs to bring peace in the Valley and in the region.

Both resolutions expected to stoke a controversy are in line with the Sangh’s position on Kashmir and China. The RSS has been advocating a more muscular Pakistan and China policy.

It urged the government to revisit ties with China after Beijing provoked New Delhi by giving Chinese names to six places in Arunachal Pradesh and objected to the Dalai Lama visiting Tawang. China’s investment in PoK through the CPEC, which passes through sovereign Indian territory, has also nettled the Sangh.

The BJP mentor threw its weight behind the government, when Prime Minister Narendra Modi during his Independence Day speech in 2016 made a reference to Balochistan and has been advocating the unification of PoK with India.

MRM’s national convenor Mohd Afzal told HT that the organisation will push for the merger of PoK with India using “diplomatic means or through the use of force”.

“This is the only way to end the Kashmir problem; to ensure peace along the border and an end to stone-pelting and violence in the Valley,” Afzal said.

He said the government must also ensure that India should get Kailash Mansarovar, a holy place for Hindus.

The MRM passed four more resolutions to support education and skill development of the Muslim community, ending the practice of triple talaq, making beef consumption illegal and construction of a Ram temple in Ayodhya.

The MRM has been lending its support to the BJP-RSS campaign for a uniform civil code and discontinuing the practice of triple talaq (divorce uttered thrice in writing or verbally).

“There is no support from the All India Muslim Personal Law Board for women given triple talaq. These women and their children are left to fend for themselves. The MRM has decided to create a fund for such families to ensure their education and empowerment,” Afzal said.

The MRM has been rallying support for the campaign to end beef consumption even as the BJP-led NDA government has been accused of imposing food choices on people.

“We will organise ‘milk parties’ during the month of Ramzan, beginning on May 26, and send the message of ‘no beef’ to our community members,” Afzal said.

Another contentious issue that the MRM has agreed to back is the construction of the Ram temple in Ayodhya.

Full report at:

http://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/rss-muslim-wing-wants-pok-kailash-mansarovar-merged-with-india/story-yMzdeduqwn4vr17uMFHA5J.html

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Muslim Youth Beaten By ‘Hindutva Leader’ Dies in Bhopal

May 08, 2017

A 25-year-old youth was killed after he was allegedly beaten and run over by a vehicle occupied by four men in Bhopal.

The victim, Salman Abdul, suffered serious injuries and passed away at a city hospital on Sunday.

Two of the four accused — Shiva Patil and Rocky — were arrested. Main accused Shiva Patil claims to be the district president of Rashtriya Hindu Sena. The incident took place on Saturday when Patil, his brother Bharat Soni, friend Chotu and brother-in-law Rocky visited Shanti Nagar area. According to Sohail, Salman’s younger brother, the accused came to the parking area and damaged the windshields of vehicles parked there. One of the vehicles belonged to Salman. Someone informed Salman’s father that their vehicle was being damaged, following which he and Sohail rushed to the area.

There was a heated argument after which the accused started beating Sohail. Salman reached the spot and tried to rescue his brother but the men started beating him and he fell unconscious. They then allegedly ran over Salman and fled from the spot.

SC pulls up MP govt

Full report at:

http://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/muslim-youth-beaten-by-hindutva-leader-dies-in-bhopal/story-amShHaQ2mchxQOP9RQTmpM.html

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India refuses to soften its stand on China Pakistan Economic Corridor

Dipanjan Roy Chaudhury

May 9, 2017

NEW DELHI: India has rejected China's contention that Beijing had never acknowledged Pakistan's claims on parts of Jammu and Kashmir as final, underscoring its sustained opposition to the One Belt One Road (OBOR) project that New Delhi believes infringes sovereignty.

To overcome India's resistance, China has revived its four-point proposal to overcome its differences with India and deepen relations by aligning its OBOR project with New Delhi's 'Act East Policy', and restarting negotiations on a free-trade pact.

India, which is unlikely to attend the May 14-15 OBOR Summit in Beijing, has been opposed to the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) - the flagship project under OBOR as it passes through Pakoccupied Kashmir, infringing sovereignty.

The CPEC will link Kashgar in Xinjiang in China and a deep sea port at Gwadar in Balochistan in south-western Pakistan. The peace proposal put forward last week by Chinese envoy LuoZhaohui also includes starting negotiations on a ''China-India Treaty of Good Neighbourliness and Friendly Cooperation'' and prioritising an early solution to the border dispute between the two countries. Luo in further outreach stated that China is not opposed to any country's membership to the Nuclear Suppliers' Group (NSG), believing that a standard for admission should be agreed upon first.

However, it is unlikely that Beijing will change its previous position on criteria-based membership at the next NSG plenary mid-June in Switzerland.

Beijing had recently conveyed to New Delhi that the title and Article 6 of its 1963 agreement with Islamabad showed that China not only recognized Kashmir as an issue of territorial dispute between India and Pakistan, but also remained open to renegotiate the agreement after India and Pakistan settled the dispute, persons familiar with the matter indicated.

Delhi, however, made it clear to Beijing that it considered the 1963 China-Pakistan boundary agreement itself as "illegal and invalid," said one of the persons quoted above. Beijing tried to convey to Delhi that its 54-year-old agreement with Islamabad recognized Pakistan's claim on the disputed territory only as an interim measure, pending the settlement of its dispute with India. Beijing also claimed that the contents of the Sino-Pak boundary pact adequately "accommodated the concerns" of India.

The pact Beijing signed with Islamabad in 1963 was titled "Agreement Between the Government of the People's Republic of China and the Government of Pakistan on the Boundary Between China's Xinjiang and the Contiguous Areas the Defence of Which is Under the Actual Control of Pakistan".

Article 6 of provides that when India and Pakistan would settle the Kashmir dispute, "the sovereign authority concerned would reopen negotiations with the government of the People's Republic of China, on the boundary as described in Article 2 of the present agreement, so as to sign a formal Boundary Treaty to replace the present agreement."

Full report at:

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/india-refuses-to-soften-its-stand-on-china-pakistan-economic-corridor/articleshow/58587905.cms

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Mehbooba Mufti blames media for J&K crisis

M Saleem Pandit

May 9, 2017

SRINAGAR: With Kashmir continuing to simmer amid student protests, CM Mehbooba Mufti tried to shift the blame from lapses on the part of her government to the media saying it was unnecessarily exaggerating the security situation in the Valley.

At the reopening of the civil secretariat here after a sixmonth shift to Jammu, the winter capital of the state, Mehbooba said, "Electronic media shouldn't show discussions that promote hatred against Kashmiris. Kashmir has seen worse in the 1990s. The situation will improve soon as every issue has a solution."

Kashmir's security situation worsened in the past three weeks, with the onset of protests against the use of forces on agitating students. The clashes escalated after April 15, when cops raided a degree college in Pulwama, in which 17 students were injured. She asked the media to refrain from portraying "all Kashmiri youth as stone-pelters".

Full report at:

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/mehbooba-mufti-blames-media-for-jk-crisis/articleshow/58584675.cms

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South Asia

 

Explosion kills head of Parwan Ulema Council, 8 students in Afghanistan

May 09, 2017

Mawlawi Abdul Rahim Shah Hanafi, head of the Parian Ulema Council in Afghanistan, and eight students were killed in a blast inside a Madrassa on Tuesday morning, local Afghan officials confirmed, according to TOLO.

The explosive device was reportedly placed inside a classroom and was detonated early Tuesday while the students were busy in class. A number of others were injured, according to Afghan officials.

No group including the Taliban has claimed responsibility for the blast yet.

http://nation.com.pk/international/09-May-2017/head-of-parwan-ulema-council-8-students-killed-in-explosion

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Cleric from Ahmaddiya community attacked in Bangladesh

May 9, 2017

Three men armed with cleavers stormed a mosque in Bangladesh and attacked a 35-year-old cleric from the minority Ahmaddiya community, critically injuring him, police said on Tuesday.

Imam Mostafizur Rahman from Khanpur mosque in Ishwarganj area was hacked by the assailants indiscriminately with sharp weapons inside the mosque after the end of evening prayers yesterday, Dhaka Tribune reported.

Rahman was shifted to a nearby hospital where his condition is stated to be critical, police was quoted as saying by the report.

One of the three attackers was nabbed by the local people and handed over to the police. The two others attackers managed to flee the scene.

The motive behind the attack is not yet clear, police added.

However, Ahmaddiya community has come under similar attacks over the last few decades by neo-Jama’atul Mujahideen Bangladesh terror group in the country.

Earlier, members of militant group neo-JMB carried out a suicide attack on an Ahmadiyya mosque in Baghmara region on December 25, 2015. Ten devotees were injured in the bomb attack.

The Ahmadiyya community people are termed anti-Islamic by Islamist groups, including Jamaat-e-Islami and Hefazat-e-Islam. Hefazat urged the government to ban Ahmadiyyas in its 13-point demands placed in 2013.

Full report at:

http://indianexpress.com/article/world/cleric-from-ahmaddiya-community-attacked-in-bangladesh/

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Photo of another Bangladeshi al-Qaeda member released online

May 09, 2017

According to al-Qaeda’s Bangla platform Dawahilallah, Abu Ibrahim alias Saiful Islam Hasan was killed in a US operation in Kandahar of Afghanistan in 2015

Al-Qaeda has published a photo of a Bangladeshi-origin leader who was killed fighting for the militant group in Afghanistan.

The youth was identified as Abu Ibrahim in a post published recently on al-Qaeda’s Bangla platform Dawahilallah by a senior member.

According to the post, accessed early Tuesday, he was killed in a US operation in Kandahar, Afghanistan in 2015.

Asked by another user why the senior member, Abul Fida (organisational name), posted an old news in the forum, Fida said that he had learnt about the matter in a video released recently.

It is assumed that Abu Ibrahim is the organisational name of Saiful Islam Hasan.

His name first came late last month when al-Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent (AQIS) released a statement announcing the death of Tariq alias Sohel, identified as the head of Bangladesh affairs.

Also Read- AQIS statement confirms top Bangladeshi jihadist’s death

It also said that Sohel’s aides who had “embraced martyrdom” with him were Abu Ibrahim alias Saiful Islam Hasan, Qari Abdul Aziz alias Abdul Halim, Yaqub alias Saddam Hossain, Asadullah alias Nazimuddin Maimoon and Abu Bakr alias Anuj Hasib.

Dhaka Tribune could not independently verify the identities.

The law enforcers too have not been able to give details of the persons named in the statement.

Swedish-Bangladeshi journalist Tasneem Khalil told the Dhaka Tribune that he believed Sohel was the handler of Bangladeshi affairs in Afghanistan, not the Bangladesh chief of AQIS.

Ashiqur Rahman Sulaiman was the first Bangladeshi to have been killed in Afghanistan fighting for al-Qaeda in recent years, he said. An al-Qaeda video from March 2015 described him as a martyr.

“Sohel and his companions were all members of the Bangladeshi markaz in Afghanistan,” Tasneem said.

AQIS was formed in late 2014 with the declared intention of waging jihad in India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Myanmar. It is headquartered in Pakistan.

Since January 2013, the group has taken credit for 13 attacks in which 11 were killed and four others sustained critical injuries. The last operation killed two LGBT rights activists in Dhaka on April 25, 2016.

Full report at:

http://www.dhakatribune.com/bangladesh/2017/05/09/photo-another-bangladeshi-al-qaeda-member-released-online/

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Government approves 7 contracts worth 2.347 billion Afghanis

May 09 2017

The Afghan government has approved seven contracts worth 2 billion and 347 billion Afghanistan during a meeting of the National Procurement Commission.

The Office of the President, ARG Palace, said the meeting was chaired by President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani.

The contracts approved during the meeting included travel facilities arrangement for 30,250 Afghan pilgrims to Hajj during the fiscal year 1396, consultancy project for technical and professional training facilities for Kabul, Laghman, and Helmand provinces.

Contract for the provision of Bandwidth internet by the Ministry of Telecommunications and Information Technology, contract for linking 15 universities through fiber optics, TIEN4 project to connect Afghanistan with the South Asia Educational and Research Network, and reconstruction of 11 kilometers of road in Nuristan province.

The National Procurement usually chaired by President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani is considered as one o the key initiatives of the government of national unity to ensure transparency in the award and implementation of the governmental projects.

This comes as the Afghan government has stepped up efforts to counter corruption amid reports the Afghan authorities have made progress in the fight against corruption.

Full report at:

http://www.khaama.com/government-approves-7-contracts-worth-2-347-billion-afghanis-02701

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Arab World

 

Muslim Brotherhood willing to scrap demand for Mursi’s return

9 May 2017

A document issued by Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood has appeared to show that the group is willing to forsake the return of deposed President Mohammed Mursi, a cause they had long been loyal to, and seeks to align with Egyptian political forces.

The memo, which was drafted by a group affiliated to former Muslim Brotherhood leader Mohamed Kamal, who was killed in clashes with police in 2016.

Acting Muslim Brotherhood leader Mahmoud Ezzat, who is currently a fugitive outside Egypt, published the document which has reportedly been unanimously approved by the group to seek an alliance with political forces.

According to the memo, the Brotherhood seeks to break the state of political isolation imposed on it and to dispel fears about the group as well as regain trust and improve their image.

The memo also wishes that the group establishes a presence within Egypt’s political landscape and push back the state’s classification of the Brotherhood as a terrorist entity.

Former Brotherhood leader Islam Ketatni told Al Arabiya.net that the document was released at this time because the group has been weakened both regionally and globally after being blacklisted.

He said that Hamas and branches of the Muslim Brotherhood in Tunisia and Morocco are no longer affiliated with Egypt’s main group.

He added that they must abandon their earlier demands and be flexible enough to be accepted into the political scene.

But he said that the fate of this document is expected to be similar to previous memos issued by the group, as the third and fourth generation of Brotherhood members “would not accept it.”

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2017/05/09/Muslim-Brotherhood-document-reveals-concessions.html

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Egypt kills militants being trained for attacks

May 09, 2017

CAIRO - Egyptian security forces killed eight militants who were being trained to attack government and Christian targets in a shootout in the country's southern desert, the government said Monday. Those killed included Helmi Masri Mohareb, a leader who transported militants across Egypt's southern border to join training camps, the interior ministry said in a statement.The statement did not say when or exactly where in the desert they were killed, nor in which country they were alleged to have received training. The security forces came under heavy fire as they pursued the militants, before shooting back at them, the ministry said.

http://nation.com.pk/international/09-May-2017/egypt-kills-militants-being-trained-for-attacks

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ISIS suffer heavy losses and retreat in western Mosul

8 May 2017

On Monday, the commander of the Iraqi counterterrorism agency, Major General Maan al-Saadi, announced of the counterterrorism forces started to liberate new districts in Iraq’s Mosul.

In his interview with Al Arabiya Al-Saadi said that counterterrorism forces had moved to start the liberation of Wadi Akkab industrial zone west of Mosul.

The commander also confirmed the first, second and third operations of the forces. They surrounded the districts and broke into the Akkab industrial zone.

Al-Saadi told Al Arabiya that the counterterrorism forces are now engaged in fierce battles with militants in the region, adding that they would not be able to withstand the powerful strikes.

Full report at:

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2017/05/08/ISIS-suffer-heavy-losses-and-retreat-in-western-Mosul.html

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Brotherhood supreme guide gets new life sentence

May 09, 2017

CAIRO - An Egyptian court sentenced the Muslim Brotherhood's supreme guide Mohamed Badie to life in prison for "planning violent attacks" in a retrial on Monday, judicial officials and a lawyer said.

Badie was part of a group of 37 people accused of conspiring to stir unrest during protests that followed the July 2013 military-led ouster of Egypt's former Islamist president Mohamed Morsi, who hailed from the Brotherhood.

The court condemned Badie to a life term along with Mahmoud Ghozlan, a Brotherhood spokesman, and Hossam Abubakr, a member of its guidance bureau, the officials and defence lawyer Abdel Moneim Abdel Maksoud said.

US-Egyptian citizen Mohamed Soltan, his father Salah Soltan and Ahmed Aref, another spokesman for the group, were among 13 defendants sentenced to serve five years behind bars. Egyptian authorities deported Mohamed Soltan to the United States in May 2015, while his father remains in custody.

The court on Monday acquitted 21 others, including Gehad Haddad, an international spokesman for the Brotherhood.

The retrial came after Egypt's court of cassation scrapped a 2015 ruling under which Badie and 13 others were condemned to death, and 34 defendants given life terms.

"We will appeal for everyone who was convicted," Abdel Maksoud told AFP. The court of cassation would have to issue a final ruling in such an appeal.

Badie is being prosecuted in more than 35 trials, according to his lawyers. He received three death sentences in other cases but those rulings have also been scrapped.

Full report at:

http://nation.com.pk/international/09-May-2017/brotherhood-supreme-guide-gets-new-life-sentence

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Russia seeks UN backing for deal on Syria safe zones

May 09, 2017

UNITED NATIONS/ DAMASCUS - Russia on Monday faced resistance from Western powers to a bid to win UN Security Council backing for an agreement it signed with Iran and Turkey on establishing safe zones in Syria.

The deal signed in the Kazakh capital Astana last week calls for the creation of four "de-escalation zones" to shore up a ceasefire, ban flights and allow for deliveries of humanitarian aid.

Russia, which along with Iran is an ally of the Syrian government, signed the agreement with rebel supporter Turkey as a key step to unwinding over six years of violence that has cost more than 320,000 lives.

Seeking UN endorsement, Moscow circulated a draft UN resolution on Friday that welcomes the deal and calls on all parties to abide by the provisions setting up the de-escalation zones, according to the text seen by AFP.

The proposed measure "calls on all member-states to contribute in good faith to the implementation of the memorandum on the creation of the de-escalation areas" in Syria, according to the draft.

The Astana agreement was circulated as an annex to the draft resolution, which means it was formally submitted to the council for its approval.

Western diplomats expressed reservations about the Russian draft, saying it was premature to endorse the Astana deal until final arrangements for the proposed de-escalation zones were agreed.

Under the deal, Russia, Iran and Turkey have until June 4 to agree on the exact boundaries of the four zones, where fighting between rebels and government forces is meant to stop.

"We want to see the maps. We need a lot more detail," said a council diplomat.

Russia pushed for a quick vote on the draft resolution but Uruguay's Ambassador Elbio Rosselli, who holds this month's presidency of the Security Council, said he did not expect one on Monday.

"There are consultations going on," Rosselli told reporters. "Give it breathing room."

Diplomats said it was unlikely there would be a vote on the draft resolution in the coming days so as to allow Western capitals to seek out more information on the Astana deal. US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson will meet in Washington on Wednesday with his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov for talks on the way forward in Syria. The agreement has not been signed by the Syrian government or the opposition. Details on whether international monitors will be deployed to the areas remained sketchy.

Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Muallem said on Monday his country would reject any role by the United Nations in monitoring "de-escalation" zones.

Meanwhile, Syrian rebels and their families began evacuating from a district of Damascus for the first time on Monday, bringing the government closer to recapturing all of the capital.

The evacuation began days after regime backers Russia and Iran and rebel supporter Turkey signed a deal to implement "de-escalation zones" where the government and opposition will halt hostilities.

The deal to evacuate Barzeh district mirrors similar agreements for opposition-held territory elsewhere, allowing fighters safe passage in exchange for surrender.

State television cited the Damascus provincial governor as saying a first wave of 1,022 people, including 568 fighters, had left Barzeh on Monday.

The channel added that the evacuation would continue for five days, but that rebels who chose to stay could do so if they registered with the government.

Those leaving will head to the rebel-held province of Idlib, in Syria's northwest.

The evacuation deal was struck late Sunday night, and dozens of people gathered in Barzeh from Monday morning.

Full report at:

http://nation.com.pk/international/09-May-2017/russia-seeks-un-backing-for-deal-on-syria-safe-zones

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Syrian Army Reinvigorates Security to Key Airbase in Northern Damascus

May 08, 2017

The Army soldiers launched a heavy attack on ISIL terrorists' defense lines in Southern Homs and captured al-Sabihiyeh mountain that overlooks a main road connecting Palmyra to Northern Damascus and another road connecting Palmyra to Iraq.

Military sources reported that after taking back al-Sabihiyeh mountain, the army soldiers took military control over a strategic chunk of the Palmyra-Damascus road and palmyra-Iraq road.

The sources further said that the strategic chunk of the road was used by the terrorists to attack al-Seen airbase in Northern Damascus, adding that imposing control over the road has now closed off terrorists' only way to Northern Damascus and al-Seen military airport.

Reports said earlier today that the army troops continued to hit ISIL's defense lines around al-Shoumeriyeh mountain in Eastern Homs and managed to drive the terrorists out of more positions in the region.

The army soldiers that freed Madarej al-Some'eh hill  yesterday continued to storm ISIL's positions and managed to take control over three more regions Southeast of Um al-Sarj al-Qabli, killing a number of terrorists and destroying their military hardware.

In the meantime, the army men engaged in fierce clashes with ISIL in the regions of al-Sukri, Talileh and wheat silos South of the ancient city of Palmyra (Tadmur).

Full report at:

http://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13960218001706

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Damascus Underlines Full Supports for De-Escalation Zones Agreement in Syria

May 08, 2017

“You followed up what was achieved at Astana 4, particularly with regard to signing an agreement on establishing four de-escalation zones in Syria,” al-Moallem said in a press conference on Monday.

”The Syrian government supported what came in the agreement based on its keenness on stopping the bloodshed and to improve the living conditions of the Syrian people and in the hope that all armed parties will be committed to the provisions of the agreement. But if any violation takes place, the Syrian army is ready to retaliate strongly," the minister added.

“Of course, we look forward for the agreement to achieve its objective which are basically separating the armed groups which signed the agreement of the cessation of hostilities on 30/12/2016 from terrorists of Al-Nusra (Fatah al-Sham) and the ISIL and the other groups affiliated to them," he went on to say.

 “Today, a reconciliation started in Barzeh and al-Qaboun and talks are under way in order to evacuate al-Yarmouk Palestinian Camp from gunmen, and I think that the Syrian people have felt the importance and the effectiveness of these reconciliations,” al-Moallem added.

“We, thanks to the resilience of our people and the heroism of our army, are keen on preserving our national unity and Syria’s territorial integrity and sovereignty, and we are exerting all possible efforts to prevent the foreign interference in its affairs,” al-Moallem said.

 “There will not be international forces under the supervision of the UN and the Russian guarantor clarified that military police forces will be deployed, in addition to monitoring centers," the Syrian minister added.

”The guarantors should help the factions which signed the cessation of hostilities agreement drive out Al-Nusra out of their areas," the Syrian top diplomat said.

Al-Moallem said that Jordan’s role from the beginning of the crisis till today is known for us, not to mention the Military Operations Command (MOC), asserting that “if the Jordanian forces entered without coordination with the Syrian government they will be considered as hostile forces,”

“I don’t exclude the possibility of violating the agreement of the de-escalation zones by Turkey which is one of the guarantor states who signed the memorandum," the Syrian ministry pointed out.

According to a text detailing the agreement published by the Russian foreign ministry on Sunday, Russia, Turkey and Iran agreed in a memorandum signed on May 4 to establish four separate de-escalation zones in Syria for at least six months.

The largest de-escalation zone includes Idlib province and adjoining districts of Hama, Aleppo and Lattakia provinces, AMN website reported.

The other three zones are in Northern Homs province, the Eastern Ghouta region East of the capital Damascus and along the Jordanian border in Southern Syria.

The guarantors will finalize maps of the de-escalation zones by June 4, and the agreement can be extended automatically if the three guarantor states agree.

The agreement envisages the halt of hostilities between Syrian government forces and armed opposition groups within the zones and the creation of conditions for humanitarian access, medical assistance, the return of displaced civilians to their homes and the restoration of damaged infrastructure.

Full report at:

http://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13960218001569

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Syrian Army Readying to Launch Fresh Anti-Terrorism Operation in Eastern Aleppo

May 08, 2017

The sources confirmed that after implementation of De-Escalation Zones Agreement on Friday, the army is to dispatch hundreds of soldiers deployed from these zones to the battlefields in Eastern Aleppo.

They added that the army will launch its fresh operation as soon as reinvigoration units arrive in next days.

The sources went on to say that after cleansing the town of Deir Hafer and its surroundings, the army will concentrate on Maskanah region to drive ISIL out of the town and its surroundings.

They underlined that if the Syrian forces free Maskana from terrorists, the army men will push towards Raqqa province and will reach the regions controlled by the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces that are currently fighting ISIL in al-Tabaqa city in Western Raqqa.

Aleppo's Deputy Governor Hamid Kenno confirmed on Saturday that a large number of refugees returned home in Aleppo city and its surrounding townships and villages after they were ensured that sustainable security was established by the Syrian Army and popular forces in the region.

Kenno said that authorities in the Northern Syrian province of Aleppo started a large-scale operation to return thousands of refugees to the towns, townships and villages that were taken back from the militants.

"Here is a bakery, which has been robbed and partially destroyed by terrorists… It is obvious that this entity is essential for the local residents and we will restore it in the first place. We are also planning to restore the medical facility," Kenno told reporters.

According to the authorities, the plans included relocation of about 12,000 of refugees to their villages near the Euphrates river.

According to a text detailing the agreement published by the Russian foreign ministry on Sunday, Russia, Turkey and Iran agreed in a memorandum signed on May 4 to establish four separate de-escalation zones in Syria for at least six months.

The largest de-escalation zone includes Idlib province and adjoining districts of Hama, Aleppo and Lattakia provinces, AMN website reported.

The other three zones are in Northern Homs province, the Eastern Ghouta region East of the capital Damascus and along the Jordanian border in Southern Syria.

The guarantors will finalize maps of the de-escalation zones by June 4, and the agreement can be extended automatically if the three guarantor states agree.

The agreement envisages the halt of hostilities between Syrian government forces and armed opposition groups within the zones and the creation of conditions for humanitarian access, medical assistance, the return of displaced civilians to their homes and the restoration of damaged infrastructure.

Full report at:

http://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13960218001155

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Next UN peace talks on Syrian conflict to start in Geneva next week

9 May 2017

A new round of United Nations-backed peace talks for war-ravaged Syria is set to begin in Geneva next week, the office of the UN mediator said Monday.

“Special Envoy Staffan de Mistura will reconvene the intra-Syrian talks under the auspices of the United Nations in Geneva on 16 May 2017,” the UN said in a statement.

The announcement comes days after regime backers Russia and Iran and rebel supporter Turkey signed a deal in the Kazakh capital Astana to strengthen a ceasefire agreed upon last December by implementing “de-escalation zones” where the government and opposition will halt hostilities.

De Mistura, who was in Astana as an observer, hailed that deal as “an important, promising, positive step in the right direction” toward de-escalation.

On Monday, his office said the UN mediator hoped last week’s Astana agreement “will be implemented in full -- thus bringing about a significant de-escalation in violence, and helping shape an environment conducive to the political intra-Syrian talks in Geneva.”

Years of diplomatic initiatives have failed to end Syria’s war, which has killed more than 320,000 and displaced millions since it started in March 2011 with protests against President Bashar al-Assad’s regime.

Numerous rounds of UN-backed peace negotiations in Geneva have fallen short of producing concrete results, although during the last round in March the sides finally got into some substance after spending previous rounds discussing the agenda for the talks.

In accordance with UN Security Council resolution 2254, they began discussing four separate “baskets” of issues, on governance, drafting a new constitution, elections and combating terrorism in the war-ravaged country.

But with the sides remaining hopelessly deadlocked over the fate of Assad and violence on the ground, there were few signs of a breakthrough.

In the round starting next week, and in subsequent rounds of talks, de Mistura “is looking forward to intensified work with invitees on the items on (the) agenda of the talks, within the context of the overall framework of relevant Security Council resolutions, in particular resolution 2254,” Monday’s statement said.

“The Special Envoy continues to press strongly for the meaningful participation of women in the political process,” it added.

Full report at:

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2017/05/09/UN-Next-Syria-peace-talks-to-start-in-Geneva-on-May-16-.html

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Iraqi volunteer fighters liberate 44 villages; kill 725 Daeshis in one month: Cmdr.

May 8, 2017

The spokesman for Iraq's Popular Mobilization Units says the pro-government volunteer forces have managed to win back nearly four dozen villages southwest of Mosul within the past month as they are helping government forces in battles against Takfiri Daesh terrorists.

Speaking at a press conference in the capital Baghdad on Monday, Ahmad al-Assadi stated that the fighters, commonly known by the Arabic word Hashd al-Sha’abi, had repelled militant attacks in the northern province of Salahuddin, the Makhoul Mountains, which lie 40 kilometers (24.8 miles) north of Salahuddin’s provincial capital city of Tikrit and the western areas of Nineveh Province, Arabic-language al-Forat news agency reported.

He added that Hashd al-Sha’abi fighters had reclaimed control over 44 villages in the al-Hadar district of Mosul over the past 30 days, and killed 725 Daesh extremists during the operations.

Assadi further noted that there were 136 bombers and 8 high-profile commanders among the slain extremists.

The Iraqi military figure went on to say that Hashd al-Sha’abi fighters also defused 235 explosive devices and 30 explosive belts, cleared 12 booby-trapped houses and downed five unmanned aerial vehicles.

Assadi said pro-government forces also destroyed 51 vehicles, 61 car bombs, two arms depots, a watch tower, 11 artillery rounds and five mortar shells.

Hashd al-Sha’abi forces also uncovered eleven tunnels, which Daesh militants used to travel between their command and control centers in front lines.

The report came on the same day that Iraqi military aircraft conducted an aerial attack against a Daesh position in the Mushirfa district of western Mosul, killing a senior Daesh commander.

The Iraqi military intelligence identified the slain militant as Jassem al-Basari, better known by the nom de guerre Abu Muhammad. He was reportedly in charge of Daesh’s military affairs in Mushirfa and Haramat districts.

Moreover, Commander of Nineveh Liberation Operation General Abdul Amir Rashid Yarallah said Federal Police forces, members of the rapid response forces and soldiers from the Army’s 9th Armored Division had established control over al-Oula al-Haramat neighborhood west of Mosul, and raised the Iraqi national flag over a number of buildings in the area.

Full report at:

http://www.presstv.ir/Detail/2017/05/08/521073/Iraq-Hashd-alShaabi-liberate-villages-Mosul-kill-Daesh-terrorists

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North America

 

White House erases Trump's call for a Muslim ban from website 'minutes' after reporter brings it up

May 09, 2017

References to Donald Trump's promised “Muslim ban” have been scrubbed from his campaign website minutes after a White House reporter brought them up in a press briefing.

During the briefing ABC’s Cecilia Vega asked Press Secretary Sean Spicer why the Trump campaign website still calls for a “total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States” when the White House has denied that Mr Trump's executive order to block travel from six Muslim-majority countries is a "Muslim ban".

“I'm not aware of what's on the campaign website. You'd have to ask them,” Mr Spicer replied.

Minutes later, the statement in question – which states “Donald J Trump is calling for a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country's representatives can figure out what is going on” – was gone. Screenshots archived on the WayBack Machine show the page was live as of that morning.

Mr Trump repeatedly promised to institute a ban on Muslim immigration during his campaign, even saying he would consider shutting down mosques and establishing a Muslim registry.

But Mr Spicer said on Monday that Mr Trump has always been “very clear” that the intent of the order was not to ban Muslims, but to “make sure that the people who are coming in here are coming in here with the right motives”.

Several judges, however, saw it differently. A federal judge in Maryland blocked the order from taking effect in March, pointing to Mr Trump’s campaign-trail statements as evidence of religious animus. The attorney general of Hawaii, where a federal judge issued a temporary restraining order on the ban in March, said the order was like a “neon sign flashing ‘Muslim Ban, Muslim Ban’”.

“We cannot fault the president for being politically incorrect, but we do fault him for being constitutionally incorrect,” the attorney general said.

The US Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit heard oral arguments in an appeal for the travel ban on Monday, around the time it was being discussed at the press conference. Judges on the appeals court struggled with whether to take Mr Trump’s past statements into account when considering the constitutionality of the travel ban.

Acting Solicitor General Jeffery Wall defended Mr Trump by saying the Muslim ban proposal was written "before [the President] took the oath".

"It is an archived press statement from 16 months ago," Mr Wall said. "We took an oath and formed a government."

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/us-politics/trump-muslim-ban-erased-website-reference-after-cecile-vega-question-a7725296.html

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US reviews Syria safe zones but warns 'devil's in the details'

May 09, 2017

US Defence Secretary Jim Mattis said on Monday the United States would closely examine proposed de-escalation zones aimed at easing Syria's civil war but warned "the devil's in the details" and that much needed to be worked out.

The deal to create "de-escalation" zones in the major areas of conflict in western Syria took effect on Saturday.

The initiative was proposed by Russia, President Bashar al-Assad's most powerful ally, with the support of Turkey, which backs the opposition. Iran, Assad's other major ally, also backed it.

Political and armed opposition groups have rejected the proposal, saying Russia has been unwilling or unable to get Assad and his Iranian-backed militia allies to respect past ceasefires.

Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Moualem said on Monday that his government would abide by the terms of the plan so long as rebels also observed it, although the Syrian government has also said it will continue to fight what it calls terrorist groups.

The US State Department has voiced concerns about the deal, saying it was skeptical of Iran's involvement as a guarantor of the accord and Damascus's track record on previous agreements.

Mattis, in some of the most extensive remarks by the Trump administration so far, was cautious when asked about the deal's chances as he travelled to Copenhagen for talks with US allies.

"All wars eventually come to an end and we've been looking for a long time how to bring this one to an end. So we’ll look at the proposal and see if it can work," he told reporters.

He added that basic details were still unclear, including who specifically would ensure the zones were "safe" and exactly which groups would be kept out of them.

Pressed as to whether he thought the de-escalation zones could help end the conflict, Mattis said: "The devil's always in the details, right? So we've got to look at the details."

The agreement said four de-escalation zones would be established in Syria for a period of six months, which could be extended if the three signatory countries agreed.

Weaponry and air strikes were not to be used in those zones by combatants, the text published by the Russian foreign ministry on Saturday said.

The agreement also includes creating conditions for humanitarian access, medical assistance and the return of displaced civilians to their homes.

The initiative is the most serious effort to reduce violence and shore up a ceasefire first declared in December since western states accused Damascus of a chemical attack in early April on rebel-held Idlib province.

Full report at:

http://nation.com.pk/international/08-May-2017/us-reviews-syria-safe-zones-but-warns-devil-s-in-the-details

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Trump administration insists travel ban not anti-Muslim

May 9, 2017

WASHINGTON: Did Donald Trump’s contested travel ban deliberately single out Muslims? The US administration fiercely denied it during an appeals court hearing Monday — despite the president’s campaign call for a blanket Muslim ban.

The hearing came as Trump seeks to bounce back from a series of stinging judicial defeats over his controversial effort to bar travelers from half a dozen mainly Muslim countries.

The question of intention is key since the US Constitution forbids religious discrimination. Trump’s detractors say it is beyond doubt that Muslims were the ban’s intended target, but the administration says it is motivated strictly by national security concerns, an area where US presidents have wide powers.

Trump “never intended for that to discriminate on the basis of any particular religion,” Jeffrey Wall, the US acting solicitor general, told judges of the Fourth US Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond during an intensely argued afternoon hearing.

“He made clear he was not talking about Muslims all over the world,” said Wall. “That’s why it’s not a Muslim ban.”

But a lawyer for the American Civil Liberties Union, Omar Jadwat, whose side is supported by several Democratic-led states, argued that Trump the candidate made clear he wanted to ban all Muslims for a time while studying enhanced immigration vetting.

A lower judge’s ruling dealt Trump a blow by freezing his second attempt to close US borders to citizens of Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen for 90 days.

Given the public importance of the case, the full appeals court in Richmond heard the arguments — bypassing the usual initial three-judge panel — for the first time in a quarter-century.

Thirteen of the court’s 15 active judges took part. Two recused themselves over potential conflicts of interest, including the conservative J. Harvie Wilkinson, Wall’s father-in-law.

The court, once considered the most conservative appeals court in the country, now has nine judges named by Democratic presidents including Barack Obama, according to Carl Tobias of the University of Richmond School of Law.

Outcome unclear

The judges aggressively questioned both Wall and Jadwat, making it unclear which way they might be leaning.

They pressed Wall over whether Trump had acted in “bad faith,” disguising an order targeting Muslims as one intended to prevent terrorism.

They said Trump’s comment, while signing his second order, that “you know what I mean” by the order was a “wink and a nod” to let supporters know he was really aiming at Muslims.

Judge Barbara Keenan suggested that Trump’s country-based order was bound to be sweeping and indiscriminate. “You’re talking about 82 million people aren’t you? It seems to me there has to be some linkage to show that there is a detrimental interest to the United States posed by 82 million people.”

The judges also pressed Jadwat over whether an identical order issued by a president who had not made remarks against Muslims might be acceptable — and whether a president should not be granted some deference on security matters.

First attempt blocked

The federal court judge in Maryland issued a nationwide block on the ban’s core provision concerning travel from the short list of countries, saying the order raised the prospect of religious bias against Muslims.

That decision came just after a broader one issued in Hawaii that halted both the travel ban and a 120-day suspension of the US refugee admissions program.

The White House is fighting that ruling in the Ninth US Circuit Court of Appeals, based in San Francisco.

Full report at:

http://www.freemalaysiatoday.com/category/world/2017/05/09/trump-administration-insists-travel-ban-not-anti-muslim/

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Judges Weigh Trump’s ‘Muslim Ban’ Remarks at Appeals Court Hearing

By ADAM LIPTAK

MAY 8, 2017

WASHINGTON — Skeptical federal judges peppered a government lawyer on Monday with questions about how much weight to give President Trump’s campaign statements calling for a “Muslim ban” as they assess the constitutionality of his revised travel ban.

The two-hour argument, before a 13-judge panel of the federal appeals court in Richmond, Va., was the first appellate test of Mr. Trump’s revised executive order limiting travel from six predominantly Muslim countries.

By the end of the argument, the judges appeared divided into two camps.

Some seemed prepared to look behind the face of the revised order to take account of Mr. Trump’s statements, and several suggested the remarks could doom the order. Others, though, said the law did not permit judges to second-guess a president’s national security assessments, indicating that they were prepared to uphold the order.

Groups challenging the order have said Mr. Trump’s statements concerning Muslims show that the revised order is the product of religious hostility. Such discrimination, they add, violates the First Amendment’s ban on government establishment of religion.

Judge Robert B. King suggested that judges could not ignore Mr. Trump’s statements and motives. “He’s never repudiated what he said about the Muslim ban,” Judge King said of the president.

But Judge Paul V. Niemeyer said Mr. Trump’s official actions should not be assessed based on his earlier statements. “Can we look at his college speeches?” Judge Niemeyer asked. “How about his speeches to businessmen 20 years ago?”

Jeffrey B. Wall, the acting United States solicitor general, said the court should not look behind the revised executive order to assess Mr. Trump’s motives. Most of Mr. Trump’s statements were made before he took the oath of office, formed a government and took advice from cabinet officials. “Candidates talk about things on the campaign trail all the time,” Mr. Wall said.

He added that the order concerned national security, an area in which courts should be reluctant to second-guess the executive branch.

“This is not a Muslim ban,” Mr. Wall said. “It has nothing to do with religion. Its operation has nothing to do with religion.”

But Judge Pamela A. Harris said that even if the order was neutral on its face, “it has a disparate impact on Muslims.”

Judge Barbara Milano Keenan said the order was very broad. “You’re talking about 82 million people,” she said. “There has to be something about those people’s nationality that renders them suspect.”

Judge Keenan pressed Mr. Wall about the limits of his position. Suppose, she said, that a candidate had said daily that he would ban Muslims on his first day in office because “they’re bad people.”

“Do you really mean we can’t consider the statements?” she asked.

Mr. Wall said there might be reason to do so if the situation were that extreme.

Judge Dennis W. Shedd urged Mr. Wall to be careful about his concessions. “You’re cracking that door,” Judge Shedd said.

Mr. Wall responded, “We think the door is shut.”

But Judge Shedd remained wary. “You just opened it,” he said.

Omar C. Jadwat, a lawyer with the American Civil Liberties Union representing people and groups challenging the order, said the volume and specificity of the comments from Mr. Trump and his advisers could not be ignored. He was repeatedly pressed by Judge Niemeyer on whether the order was problematic on its own.

“You just don’t want to answer the question of whether this order on its face is legitimate,” Judge Niemeyer said.

Judge King said the two sides were separated by a wide gulf on the central question in the case: that of whether to interpret the order in isolation or in the context of the various statements. “That’s where you all are like ships in the night,” Judge King told Mr. Jadwat. “That’s the most important issue in the whole case.”

The revised order, issued in March, sought to address judicial objections to an earlier one, issued in January. The first order, which caused chaos and drew protests at airports around the nation, was blocked in February by the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, in San Francisco.

The new order’s 90-day suspension of entry from Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen was more limited and subject to case-by-case exceptions. It omitted Iraq, which had been listed in the earlier order. It removed a complete ban on Syrian refugees. And it deleted explicit references to religion. Like the earlier order, the new one suspended the nation’s refugee program for 120 days and reduced the annual number of refugees to 50,000 from 120,000.

In March, federal judges in Maryland and Hawaii blocked parts of the new executive order, saying they could not ignore the remarks from Mr. Trump and his allies. “Simply because a decision maker made the statements during a campaign does not wipe them” from judicial memory, Judge Theodore D. Chuang of Federal District Court in Maryland wrote in the decision under review by the appeals court.

Judge Chuang’s ruling blocked the part of the order concerning travel from the six countries.

The court hearing the case on Monday, the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, did not follow its usual practices in considering the appeal. Ordinarily, a three-judge panel would have heard the case and decided it, with the possibility of full-court review afterward.

Skipping that step and scheduling arguments before the full court signaled the exceptional importance of the case. So did the court’s decision to allow C-Span to broadcast live audio coverage of the arguments.

Nine of the judges who heard Monday’s arguments were appointed by Democratic presidents and three by Republican ones. Chief Judge Roger L. Gregory was initially appointed by President Bill Clinton during a Senate recess and was later reappointed by President George W. Bush.

Full report at:

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/05/08/us/politics/travel-ban-federal-judges-trump.html?rref=collection%2Ftimestopic%2FIslam

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US anti-Muslim bias incidents increased by 57 per cent in 2016: Reports

May 9, 2017

When the Masjid Al-Kareem mosque in Providence, Rhode Island, received a threatening letter in November calling Muslims a “vile and filthy people,” its members were frightened enough they asked for and got extra police protection. The 42-year-old mosque was far from alone. The letter it received was one of 2,213 anti-Muslim bias incidents in the United States last year, according to a report released Tuesday by the Council on American-Islamic Relations.

The report found a 57 percent increase in the number of incidents in 2016, up from 1,409 in 2015. Incidents increased 5 percent from 2014 to 2015. While the group had been seeing a rise in anti-Muslim incidents prior to Donald Trump’s stunning rise in last year’s presidential primaries and November election victory, it said the acceleration in bias incidents was due in part to Trump’s focus on militant Islamist groups and anti-immigrant rhetoric. Rhode Island’s oldest mosque was only threatened, while others in Florida and Texas were set ablaze in cases ruled arson. But the knowledge of how common threats had become was far from comforting for Faissal Elansari, a member of the mosque’s board.

“Hearing about it is not the same thing as when you receive it, it was definitely a weird feeling,” Elansari said. CAIR officials decided in September to start what they intend to be quarterly reports after noticing a pickup in complaints beginning in 2014, following the rise of Islamic State killings in the Middle East and attacks inspired by the group in Europe and the United States. “There was this widespread sense that we were going right back to how it was after 9/11,” when al Qaeda hijackers launched coordinated attacks on New York and Washington, sparking a wave of anti-Muslim sentiment, said Corey Saylor, director of the CAIR department on monitoring and combating Islamophobia. “We wanted to be able to put something factual out there.”

The accounting includes a wide variety of bias incidents, from assaults and street harassment, to employment discrimination, to what the group considers unwarranted contact by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. It also shows a rise in anti-Muslim hate crimes to 260 in 2016, up 44 percent from 180 a year earlier. That includes all crimes recorded where CAIR saw evidence of anti-Muslim bias, not just those where hate crime charges were brought, Saylor said. CAIR attorneys reviewed each incident reported and eliminated cases that were later disproved, including a New York City woman who alleged she had been attacked by

Trump supporters shortly after his election. She was later arrested and charged with making up the encounter. Trump promised during his campaign to impose a temporary ban on Muslims coming to the United States, presenting this as a way to prevent militant Islamist attacks. His early executive orders intended at putting a temporary stop on citizens from a half-dozen Muslim majority countries have been blocked by challenges in court. His administration has denied any intention of religious discrimination in the travel ban, saying it is intended purely as a national security measure. Muslims are not alone in experiencing an uptick in bias. A report released last month by the Anti-Defamation League recorded a 34 percent rise in anti-Semitic acts in 2016. “The 2016 presidential election and the heightened political atmosphere played a role in the increase,” the ADL concluded in its report.

Full report at:

http://indianexpress.com/article/world/us-anti-muslim-bias-incidents-increased-by-57-per-cent-in-2016-reports-4647210/

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Travel ban arguments focus on Donald Trump’s comments about Muslims

May 9, 2017

A challenge to President Donald Trump’s revised travel ban appears to hinge on whether a federal appeals court agrees that the Republican’s past anti-Muslim statements can be used against him.

The 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals wrestled Monday with whether the court should look beyond the text of the executive order to comments made by Trump and his aides on the campaign trail and after his election in order to determine whether the policy illegally targets Muslims.

“That’s the most important issue in the whole case,” said Judge Robert King, who was appointed to the court by President Bill Clinton.

The panel of 13 judges peppered both sides with tough questions but gave few clues as to how they might rule. The judges did not immediately issue a decision on Monday.

A federal judge in Maryland who blocked the travel ban in March cited Trump’s comments as evidence that the executive order is a realization of his repeated promise to bar Muslims from entering the country.

The administration argues that the court shouldn’t question the president’s national security decisions based on campaign promises.

“This is not a Muslim ban. Its text doesn’t have to anything to do with religion. Its operation doesn’t have anything to do with religion,” Acting Solicitor General Jeffrey Wall told the appeals court.

The countries were chosen because they present terrorism risks and the ban applies to everyone in those countries regardless of religion, Wall said. Further, the banned countries represent a small fraction of the world’s Muslim-majority nations, lawyers for the administration say.

Omar Jadwat, an attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union, noted that Trump’s call for a “total and complete shutdown” of Muslims entering the U.S. remained on his campaign website even after he took office. That call, which was still online earlier Monday, appeared to have been taken down by the afternoon hearing.

Jadwat claims the administration has failed to provide a legitimate national security reason for the policy.

“The order is completely unprecedented in our nation’s history,” Jadwat said. Several judges expressed skepticism about the idea that the court would blind itself to Trump’s comments about Muslims.

“Don’t we get to consider what was actually said here and said very explicitly?” asked Judge James Wynn Jr., who was appointed by President Barack Obama.

Another judge said he was worried about the idea of a court opening the door to using a president’s past to evaluate the constitutionality of a policy.

“Can we look at his college speeches? How about his speeches to businessmen 20 years ago?” asked Judge Paul Niemeyer, who was tapped by President George H.W. Bush.

The first travel ban in January triggered chaos and protests across the country as travelers were stopped from boarding international flights and detained at airports for hours.

After a three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals refused in February to let the travel ban take effect, the administration tweaked the order and issued a new one.

The new version made it clear the 90-day ban covering those six countries doesn’t apply to those who already have valid visas. It removed language that would give priority to religious minorities and erased Iraq from the list of banned countries.

But critics said while the new executive order impacts fewer people, it remains a realization of Trump’s promised Muslim ban and cannot stand.

The ACLU and National Immigration Law Center brought the case on behalf of several organizations, as well as people who live in the U.S. and fear the executive order will prevent them from being reunited with family members from the banned countries.

Elite universities, democratic attorneys general and former foreign policy and national security officials like ex-Secretary of State Madeleine Albright called on the court to block the travel ban.

Full report at:

http://indianexpress.com/article/world/travel-ban-arguments-focus-on-donald-trumps-comments-about-muslims-4647117/

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Europe

 

Germany gives asylum to ‘coup-linked’ Turkish soldiers: Media reports

May 9, 2017

Germany has reportedly granted refugee status to several Turkish soldiers and their families based in NATO facilities as Ankara keeps up its massive purge in the aftermath of last July’s failed military coup.

Local media reports, including Süddeutsche Zeitung daily, cited sources as saying on Monday that the country’s Federal Office for Migration and Refugees (BAMF) had previously held back on reviewing the applications, pending the result of Turkey’s April constitutional reform referendum.

The BAMF has not confirmed the reports.

The asylum seekers are reportedly Turkish officers with diplomatic passports who used to be stationed at NATO bases in Germany, but were later sacked or recalled by Ankara.

The asylum applications, however, received a green light following the April 16 referendum that granted Turkish President Recep Erdogan sweeping executive powers.

Overall, nearly 40 Turkish military officers applied for asylum in Germany following the failed coup attempt on July 15, 2016, according to the German-based Der Spiegel magazine. Ankara regards the asylum seekers as supporters of elements in the military that attempted to overthrow Erdogan.

The botched coup led to a massive crackdown on opposition figures across Turkey and saw the detention of thousands of people, including military officers, judges and academics.

The development comes as Turkey’s Defense Minister Fikri Isik stated in January that “our expectation from Germany is that they will never accept the asylum requests.”

The reported move to grant asylum to the Turkish nationals in Germany will likely lead to further tensions in ties between Ankara and Berlin, which had already grown tense in the lead-up to the April referendum.

Erdogan accused German officials of acting like “Nazis” and “fascists” as several cities in Germany banned rallies by Turkish ministers and expatriates in the country to drum up support for a ‘Yes’ vote in referendum

The Turkish president warned NATO member nations last November against granting asylum to military officers suspected of links to the plotters of the failed coup after dozens of Turkey’s NATO officers sought asylum in Europe.

“How can a terrorist, a terrorist soldier, a soldier who has been involved in plotting a coup, be employed in NATO?” Erdogan said at the time, as quoted by the country’s Milliyet daily.

Meanwhile, Germany has so far received 414 asylum applications from Turkish citizens fearing prosecution in connection to the failed coup, according to local press reports.

In late March, four Turkish NATO officers and a military attaché were offered refugee status in Norway. They, like their colleagues in Germany, decided to ignore orders to return home following the attempted coup and filed for asylum.

http://www.presstv.ir/Detail/2017/05/09/521149/Germany-Turkey-military-officers-NATO-bases-Turkish-coup-referendum

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Belgium’s largest region bans halal, kosher meat

May 08, 2017

Islamic halal and Jewish kosher rituals require that the animal be slaughtered with a swift slit of the throat

Belgium’s Wallooon region has voted to ban halal and kosher meats by outlawing the slaughter of unstunned animals.

The environment committee of southern Belgium’s Walloon Parliament voted unanimously for the ban, which will take effect on 1 September, 2019.

Both Islamic halal and Jewish kosher rituals require the butcher to swiftly slaughter the animal by slitting its throat and draining its blood, a process condemned by animal rights campaigners, who argue it is more humane to stun animals before killing them.

Similar legislation has been proposed by the parliament in the northern Flemish region.

Belgium’s Muslim community said its religious council has previously expressed its opposition to stunned slaughter and there had been no change in its stance since then.

“Muslims are worried about whether they can eat halal food… in conformity with their religious rites and beliefs,” the Belgian Muslim Executive said.

The European Jewish Congress has strongly condemned the decision, calling it “scandalous”.

“This decision, in the heart of Western Europe and the centre of the European Union, sends a terrible message to Jewish communities throughout our continent that Jews are unwanted,” EJC president Moshe Kantor said.

“It attacks the very core of our culture and religious practice and our status as equal citizens with equal rights in a democratic society. It gives succour to antisemites and to those intolerant of other communities and faiths.”

He added: “We call on legislators to step back from the brink of the greatest assault on Jewish religious rights in Belgium since the Nazi occupation of the country in World War II.”

Full report at:

http://www.dhakatribune.com/world/europe/2017/05/08/belgiums-largest-region-bans-halal-kosher-meat/

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Ted Cruz and John Cornyn grill Russia meddling witness on Muslim travel ban

May 8, 2017

WASHINGTON – The hearing was about Russian interference in the 2016 election. The star witness was former acting Attorney General Sally Yates, who was fired by President Donald Trump in a dispute over the lawfulness of his abortive Muslim travel ban.

The blockbuster revelation: Yates had directly warned the White House that Michael Flynn, the Trump campaign's top national security advisor, had lied about his contacts with the Russians and could be "blackmailed" as a result, compromising national security.

WARNED: Yates says she warned the White House that Flynn could be blackmailed

But there was another agenda in the packed hearing room apart from the allegations about Trump campaign ties to the Russians, an issue that has dogged the White House since its earliest hours.

Some Republicans on the Senate Judiciary panel, including both U.S. senators from Texas, turned to another line of questioning: Why had Yates overruled the Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel and directed the department's lawyers not to defend the president's executive order restricting travel from a set of predominantly Muslim countries?

"I thought the Department of Justice had a long-standing tradition of defending a presidential action in court if there are reasonable arguments in its favor, regardless of whether those arguments will prove to be ultimately persuasive, which of course is up to the courts to decide, not you," said Texas Republican John Cornyn.

True, Yates replied, "but in this instance all arguments have to be based on truth, because we're the Department of Justice."

EUROPEAN VIEW: Putin, Merkel spar in Russia over election meddling

Yates said she detected an unlawful discriminatory intent in the initial travel ban, which was struck down in court and eventually rewritten. "We are talking about a fundamental issue of religious freedom," she said.

Texas Republican Ted Cruz took up the same attack, suggesting that Yates' decision was based on partisanship, not principle. "There is no doubt the arguments you laid out are arguments we can expect litigants to bring," he said, "partisan litigants who disagree with the policy decisions of the president."

Yates, a nominee of former President Barack Obama, recalled that she had been pressed by Republicans at her 2015 confirmation hearings about whether she would go along with presidential directives that she thought were illegal or unconstitutional. "I said no, and that's what I promised you I would do, and that's what I did."

Yates' appearance was part of an ongoing probe by a Senate Judiciary subcommittee, one of several congressional investigations into alleged Russian meddling.

Cornyn, a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said that while the public has a right to know, "this is not anything new – although perhaps the level and intensity and sophistication of both Russian overt and covert operations is really unprecedented."

Yates' testimony came as reports swirled around the Capitol that Obama had personally warned Trump about hiring Flynn, information that amplified Yates' testimony that she had told the White House days after the inauguration about false statements Flynn made to Vice President Pence and others about his discussions with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak.

DIFFERENT OUTCOME: Clinton blames Russia, FBI chief for 2016 election loss

According to Yates, the false statements could have exposed Flynn to potential manipulation by the Russians. "The national security advisor could be blackmailed by the Russians," she said.

Flynn was forced to resign after just 24 days as Trump's national security advisor.

Trump has repeatedly insisted that the idea that senior members of his campaign worked closely with Russian officials are "fake news," a theme he kept up on Twitter earlier Monday.

Trump accused the Obama administration of not properly vetting Flynn when he led the Defense Intelligence Agency. Under Obama's tenure, Flynn was both promoted to lieutenant general and, three years later, reportedly forced to retire amid criticism of his management style.

"General Flynn was given the highest security clearance by the Obama Administration," Trump tweeted, "but the Fake News seldom likes talking about that."

Trump also attacked Yates on Twitter: "Ask Sally Yates, under oath, if she knows how classified information got into the newspapers soon after she explained it to W.H. (counsel)."

Trump offered no evidence for his suspicion that Yates leaked the information. In her testimony hours later, Yates repeatedly denied leaking any classified information about Trump associates and their alleged Russian ties.

Former director of national intelligence James R. Clapper Jr. also testified at Monday's hearing. Lawmakers had invited another Obama administration official, former national security adviser Susan Rice. She declined.

"It seems to me there are a lot of questions that she needs to answer," Cornyn said.

Rice has come under withering criticism from Republicans who believe she helped "unmask" Trump associates mentioned in intelligence reports. She has denied any wrongdoing.

Full report at:

http://www.chron.com/news/politics/article/Ted-Cruz-and-John-Cornyn-grill-Russia-meddling-11130599.php

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Pakistan

 

PTI to file petition against PM for receiving funding from Osama bin Laden

May 09, 2017

ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) has decided to file yet another petition in the Supreme Court against Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to seek an investigation into allegations of receiving money from Al Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden for the election campaign of the Pakistan Muslim League-N (PML-N) during the 1990s.

Talking to Dawn on Monday, PTI spokesman and lawyer Fawad Chaudhry said his party had completed the process of internal discussions and decided after reviewing all legal aspects of the case to file a petition against the prime minister and his party for “conspiring against democracy in the country after receiving money from foreign forces”.

The PTI announcement comes four days after Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar asked political parties to maintain respect of the institution by not washing the political dirt in the laundry of the judiciary.

“There is an old doctrine from the US that the political dirt should not be washed in the laundry of the judiciary so that the dignity of institutions is not hurt,” the chief justice had observed during the hearing of a petition filed by PML-N leader Hanif Abbasi seeking disqualification of PTI chief Imran Khan and secretary general Jahangir Khan Tareen for non-disclosure of their assets, existence of their offshore companies and the PTI being funded from abroad.

Last week, the PTI had announced that it had decided to file a petition in the Supreme Court seeking implementation of the famous Asghar Khan case judgement.

Fawad Chaudhry said that the legal team of the PTI had started preparing a draft of the application after receiving directives from the party leadership and it would soon submit it before the Supreme Court.

He said that the time had come that the nation should be told about secret links of Mr Sharif with foreign forces.

The charge that Mr Sharif had received money from the Al Qaeda chief had been in the air over the past two decades and the issue resurfaced last year when Shamama Khalid, the wife of a former operative of the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), in her book claimed that Mr Sharif had “received funding from Osama bin Laden to contest elections against Ms Benazir Bhutto-led Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) after the end of Zia regime”.

The book claims that Mr Sharif’s pledge of introducing an Islamic system had attracted her husband Khalid Khawaja as well as Osama.

Full report at:

https://www.dawn.com/news/1331958/pti-to-file-petition-against-pm-for-receiving-funding-from-osama-bin-laden

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Law Enforcement Agencies Harassing Shias: MWM

May 09, 2017

KARACHI - Majlis Wahdat-e-Muslimeen (MWM) chief Allama Raja Nasir Abbas Jafferi on Monday demanded that Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif resign before appearing before the Joint Investigation Team (JIT).

He said that chaos created by terrorists in the country was result of the dictatorial policies made by politicians who were groomed in the nursery of former military dictator Zia-ul-Haq.

The MWM leader expressed these views while addressing a press conference at Catholic Club, Numaish Chowrangi. Allama Ahmed Iqbal Rizvi, Allama Mirza Yousuf Hussain, Allama Azhar Naqvi, Allama Ali Anwar Jafferi, Ali Hassnain Naqvi, Allama Mubashir Hassan and Asif Safvi were also present on the occasion. Talking about the political issues facing the country, Allama Nasir said that Pakistan was suffering due to dictators’ policies with regard to Afghan war. He said that policies of Pakistan should not be made in institutions nor should they be made on personal whims. Today Pakistan is in political turmoil, which is again the direct result of policies of the politicians groomed by Zia.

He said that Panama leaks were just tip of an iceberg. These rulers are ideological children of Zia hence they are carrying forward his Afghan policy by allowing former army chief General Raheel Sharif to head a “sectarian military alliance”. This is against peace and harmony in Pakistan and will further strengthen terrorists in the country. He said that promotion of extremism had always been the hidden agenda of these rulers that’s why they never implemented the National Action Plan (NAP). Instead, victims of terrorism were further victimised, he said.

Full report at:

http://nation.com.pk/karachi/09-May-2017/law-enforcement-agencies-harrassing-shias-mwm

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Pakistan’s entry into the Middle East’s affairs

BY DR QAISAR RASHID

May 09, 2017

With joining the Islamic Military Alliance (IMA) Pakistan enters into the Middle East (ME) affairs. At best, the entry can now be construed as meddling in the Arab affairs by an alliance headed by the representative of a non-Arab country.

No doubt Pakistan is an Islamic country – or at least a Muslim country owing to overwhelming Muslim population – like most ME countries, but Pakistan’s cultural background is more Asian than Arabic. Pakistan does not fully understand the Arab culture, which sprouts from the normative practices of nomadic tribes and which is replete with disputes and historical animosities mostly dipped in sectarian conflicts. The Arab armies pitted against the fellow Arab armies in the desert way of life carry an insight different from the insight cultivated in an agriculture country such as Pakistan. How General Sharif would cope with this challenge is not known. Secondly, it is also not known what happened to the pre-condition imposed by General Sharif that he would join the IMA only when Iran became part of the alliance.

Like it or not, this “Islamic” alliance has sectarian leanings

Reportedly, the general purpose of the 41-nation IMA, which was constituted in December 2015, is to “coordinate efforts to fight terrorism in Iraq, Syria, Libya, Egypt and Afghanistan” – and this is why the IMA is also called Islamic Military Counter Terrorism Coalition – whereas the specific purpose of the IMA is to help Saudi Arabia protect its southern region bordering Yemen against Houthi rebels. Nevertheless, one may argue that the actual purpose of the formation of the IMA is to forestall the activities of the Daesh in Saudi Arabia. That is, contrary to the initial claims, the purpose of the formation of the IMA is less offensive and more defensive.

Notwithstanding the rationale for the formation of the IMA, the visage of the IMA is necessarily sectarian, as Iran, Iraq and Syria having Shia-dominated governments have been excluded. This point has two repercussions. First, in the name of fighting terrorism, the IMA has been accentuating sectarian divisions not only in the ME but also in the rest of the Muslim countries. Second, the exclusion of Shia-dominated countries is tantamount to linking them to IMA’s nemesis. This is a very treacherous message.

“Against this background, on the one hand, the formation of the IMA can be seen offering an alternative to any external overseer while on the other hand, the formation of the IMA expresses a yearning for political leadership entailing a sectarian expression.”

Even if it is assumed that one of the IMA’s objectives is to protect Muslims countries from all terrorist groups and organisations, the IMA has failed to address two issues. First, countering terrorism at the militancy level is not a substitute for countering terrorism at the narrative level. In principle, a narrative that counters terrorism should have been promoted to influence the hearts and minds of the Muslims. Second, against the background that both Saudi Arabia and Iran jostle with each other for supremacy in the ME, the IMA offers a chance to Saudi Arabia to assert its dominant political role in the ME at the cost of any corresponding role of Iran. In principle, there is no problem if the political competition takes place, unless when the competition enters the phase of seeking the help of Muslim countries outside the ME to assert one’s supremacy in the ME and ensuring the compulsory exclusion of the other. In this way, the IMA seems to have developed an agenda more local than foreign. That is, the IMA is more an alliance to serve political objectives of a country in the ME than to protect Muslim countries from all terrorist groups and organisations outside the ME.

Where does the IMA fall short?

The IMA has failed to understand that its policy of (selective) exclusion has not only cornered the Shia-dominated countries in the ME but it has also fenced the Shia-Muslim population in the ME. That is, the IMA has disseminated the ominous message of division at the people-to-people level. This is no service of any cause and this is no way to fight terrorism. Instead of uniting the Muslims under one banner, the IMA has divided the Muslims further along sectarian lines both locally and internationally. Unfortunately, Pakistan’s joining the IMA through its ex-army chief and a serving brigade has made Pakistan become part of an effort to reduce Shia-Muslims of the ME to outcast.

The history of past three centuries witnessed the ME surviving under and being managed by an external imperial power, be it the Ottoman, the Western Europe (Britain and France) or the US. In a succession, all of them offered an alternative central authority to the ME to rally around. That is, the ME has inured itself to the presence of an overseer external to the region: the ME has not experienced any Arab country overseeing the rest of the ME and settling the intra-Arab disputes. In this way, the presence of intra-Arab divisions and the absence of any reconciliatory local center are the two main problems that have been besetting the ME. Interestingly, these two problems attract an interested overseer to the region. Against this background, on the one hand, the formation of the IMA can be seen offering an alternative to any external overseer while on the other hand, the formation of the IMA expresses a yearning for political leadership entailing a sectarian expression. This is how the seeds of future conflicts in the ME are sown.

Whilst the IMA declared that it would “operate in line with the United Nations and Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) provisions on terrorism,” the IMA has donned the attire of a parallel OIC. In principle, the decision about the formation of the IMA should have been taken at the platform of the OIC. Secondly, the IMA should have operated under the supervision of the OIC as its extended arm, and not outside of it as a parallel organisation. In fact, the formation of the IMA has aired the message of the moribund state of the OIC. That is, in the emergence of the IMA lies the descent of the OIC, and in the success of the IMA lies the seeds of disaster for the OIC.

Full report at:

https://www.pakistantoday.com.pk/2017/05/09/pakistans-entry-into-the-middle-easts-affairs/

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PM sees considerable scope to boost trade ties with Oman

May 09, 2017

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif says there is a considerable scope to enhance cooperation between Pakistan and Oman in trade, commerce, investment and other sectors.

Talking to Foreign Minister of Oman Yousuf bin Alawi bin Abdullah who called on him on Monday, Mr Sharif appreciated Oman’s keen interest in creating closer linkages between Pakistani and Omani seaports.

He said the possibility of launching government-to-government and commercial ferry services between Pakistan and Oman would open a new sector to enhance connectivity, people-to-people contacts and bilateral trade.

“We are also grateful to the Omani government for taking good care of Pakistanis serving in Oman, and especially those employed in Royal Omani Armed Forces,” Mr Sharif said.

The prime minister praised the special importance attached to relations with Pakistan by Sultan Qaboos while underlining the need for regular political dialogue between the two countries at the foreign ministers’ level.

The Omani minister thanked the prime minister for the warm welcome extended to him and his delegation.

Adviser to the Prime Minister on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz said during his meeting with the visiting minister: “We share perceptions on a number of matters of mutual interest and issues related to promotion of regional peace and stability and have agreed on regular political dialogue.

“Oman is Pakistan’s closest maritime neighbour sharing bonds of affinity with our region, particularly in Gwadar. We have excellent opportunities to take advantage of the complementarities between our economies and the proximity that we enjoy.” He said these commonalities were great for forging a deeper political and economic partnership.

Mr Aziz discussed the linkages between the maritime interfaces, airports and seaports offered by the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) and Gwadar port and also stressed regular interactions, enhancement of investment by Omani companies, necessary facilitation, increased trade and regular exchange of delegations between the two countries.

In reference to a visit of Chairman State Council (upper house) Dr Yahya bin Mahfoudh Al Mantheri in January last, Mr Aziz said: “We look forward for more frequent exchanges between our parliamentarians in future.”

Later, the foreign minister of Oman told the media that there were a huge potential of mutual cooperation to benefit the people of the region.

“We have a variety of opportunities for each other and the emerging CPEC is another milestone for mutual cooperation to establishing industrial zones.”

He also highlighted the Free Trade Agreement with different countries which he said could be of great benefit to Pakistani investors by using Omani export processing zones for onward exports.

Full report at:

https://www.dawn.com/news/1331924/pm-sees-considerable-scope-to-boost-trade-ties-with-oman

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Sartaj says Afghanistan initiated firing, Pakistan retaliated

May 09, 2017

Adviser on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz, commenting on the Afghanistan border attack issue, said “firing on Pakistan was the initiative of Afghanistan that necessitated to be retaliated.”

The foreign affairs adviser maintained that that Pakistan has always used the diplomatic channels to resolve issues with its neighbours. “Afghanistan has been asked to use diplomatic channels instead of bullets,” he added.

“I feel sorry for what happened in Chaman,” said Aziz.

Commenting on the statement made by Afghanistan's top envoy to Pakistan Omar Zakhilwal on Monday, where he rejected claims that Pakistani security forces had killed 50 Afghan soldiers in retaliation to the Chaman cross-border attack, Aziz said, “It is great if the Afghans suffered less damage, as claimed by the Afghan ambassador.”

Earlier, the head of the Iranian armed forces had warned Islamabad that Tehran would hit bases inside Pakistan if the government does not confront militants who carry out cross-border attacks.

Commenting on this, Aziz said that the government has “asked Iran to provide information regarding terrorists”.

On Sunday, Inspector General (IG) Frontier Corps (FC) Balochistan Maj Gen Nadeem Anjum had claimed that 50 Afghan security personnel were killed and another 100 injured as Pakistani forces retaliated to unprovoked firing by Afghan border forces on security personnel in Balochistan's Chaman area last week.

Full report at:

http://nation.com.pk/national/09-May-2017/sartaj-says-afghanistan-initiated-firing-pakistan-retaliated

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Africa

 

Libya forces advance on last jihadist bastions

May 09, 2017

BENGHAZI - Forces loyal to Libya's military strongman Khalifa Haftar on Monday launched an offensive to oust jihadists from their last two strongholds in second city Benghazi, they said.

Forces loyal to Haftar, who does not recognise a UN-backed unity government in Tripoli and backs a rival parliament, have retaken most of the coastal city since it was overrun by jihadists in 2014.

Riadh Chehibi, an officer in Haftar's self-styled Libyan National Army, said the forces advanced in the central district of Al-Sabri and Souq al-Hout area near the port, where jihadists are surrounded.

Haftar's forces retook certain positions from the jihadists, but reported no casualties among their ranks, Chehibi said. Footage and pictures shared online showed columns of tanks, armoured vehicles and ambulances heading towards the neighbourhoods.

Many jihadists found refuge in Al-Sabri and Souq al-Hout after the LNA drove them from the city's western districts in March.

In April, the military authorities in Benghazi asked civilians living near these districts to leave their homes to avoid being caught in the crossfire.

Jihadists groups in the city include the Revolutionary Shura Council of Benghazi, an alliance of Islamist militias among them suspected members of the Islamic State group and the Al-Qaeda-linked Ansar Al-Sharia.

In another video being shared online on Monday, an LNA officer is shown shooting dead a man said to be a suspected IS member from Algeria.

The footage shows the officer holding his gun to the head of the prisoner, who is kneeling down with his hands on his head.

In March, rights group Human Rights Watch said Haftar's forces may have committed war crimes as it fights jihadists in Benghazi.

The LNA repeatedly denied the claims, but a top official for the special forces in the city, Wanis Boukhamada, then came forward to denounce the abuses and promised to try and punish those responsible.

Libya has been wracked by chaos since the 2011 uprising that toppled and killed longtime dictator Moamer Kadhafi, with rival authorities and militias battling for control of the oil-rich country.

http://nation.com.pk/international/09-May-2017/libya-forces-advance-on-last-jihadist-bastions

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Car bomb explosion kills 6 people in Mogadishu, wounding nearly dozen

May 8, 2017

A car bomb explosion has claimed the lives of at least six civilians in the Somali capital of Mogadishu, police say.

The deadly incident occurred in central part of the capital on Monday, when an explosive-laden car exploded next to an Italian café, across from the Immigration Directorate, on a major thoroughfare.

The huge blast also left 10 people wounded, police added.

“The blast was very powerful and there were a lot of people there at the time, I saw several people dead and injured,” said a witness, Abdukadir Ise.

Other reports said that gunfire erupted after the explosion, which sent thick clouds of smoke to the sky.

No group or individual has claimed responsibility for the attack, but such assaults bear the hallmarks of al-Qaeda-linked al-Shabab Takfiri terrorists.

The blast came a few hours after a roadside bomb blast killed at least three Somali soldiers outside a military base on the outskirts of Shalan Bood town, located in the Lower Shabelle region, south of Mogadishu, while the government troops were on an ordinance-clearing mission.

Al-Shabab Takfiri terrorist group claimed responsibility for the bomb attack, but said the attack had killed four government forces, including two officials.

“We went out of town in search of bombs but one had been planted right on the spot where we were based,” said Mohamed Nur, regional military official, adding that the blast wounded four other troopers.

The deadly incidents came a day after Somalia’s information minister announced that a Friday raid by the army on Bariire village, also located in the Lower Shabelle region, had killed the terror group’s leader Moalin Osman Abdi Badil and three of his associates.

Somalia has been the scene of deadly clashes between government forces and al-Shabab militants since 2006.

The Takfiri militant group was forced out of the capital by African Union troops in 2011 but still controls parts of the countryside and carries out attacks against government, military and civilian targets.

Al-Shabab has stepped up its deadly bombings in the capital since new President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed took office in February.

Full report at:

http://www.presstv.ir/Detail/2017/05/08/521079/Somalia-AlShabab-Mogadishu-roadside-bomb

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Roadside bomb kills three soldiers at Somali checkpoint north of capital

May 09, 2017

At least three Somali soldiers on a ordnance-clearing mission were killed on Monday by a roadside bomb just 90 km (60 miles) north of the capital, from where Islamists militants were routed six years ago.

Al Qaeda-linked al Shabaab claimed responsibility for the attack at a checkpoint on the outskirts of the town of Shalanbood in the Lower Shabelle region.

"We went out of town in search of bombs but one had been planted right on the spot where we were based," regional military official, Mohamed Nur, said.

"The blast killed three of my colleagues and injured four others," he told Reuters.

The insurgents gave a higher toll.

"We are behind the bomb at the checkpoint that killed four soldiers, including two officials," al Shabaab's military operations spokesman, Sheikh Abdiasis Abu Musab, said.

The group carries out frequent attacks in and around the capital Mogadishu in its decade-old attempt to topple the Western-backed government and drive out African Union peacekeeping troops.

Full report at:

http://nation.com.pk/international/08-May-2017/roadside-bomb-kills-three-soldiers-at-somali-checkpoint-north-of-capital

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1 million children refugees from South Sudan’s civil war

8 May 2017

More than 1 million children have fled South Sudan’s civil war, two United Nations agencies said Monday, part of the world’s fastest growing refugee crisis.

Another 1 million South Sudanese children are displaced within the country, having fled their homes due to the civil war, said the UN’s child and refugee agencies in a statement Monday.

“The future of a generation is truly on the brink,” said Leila Pakkala, UNICEF’s Regional Director for Eastern and Southern Africa. “The horrifying fact that nearly one in five children in South Sudan has been forced to flee their home illustrates how devastating this conflict has been for the country’s most vulnerable.”

Roughly 62 percent of refugees from South Sudan are children, according to the UN statement, and more than 75,000 children are alone or without their families. Roughly 1.8 million people have fled South Sudan in total.

“No refugee crisis today worries me more than South Sudan,” said Valentin Tapsoba, UNHCR’s Africa Bureau Director. “That refugee children are becoming the defining face of this emergency is incredibly troubling.”

For children still living in South Sudan, the situation is still grim. Nearly three quarters of children are out of school, according to the UN statement, which is the highest out-of-school population in the world. An official famine was declared in two counties of South Sudan in February, and hundreds of thousands of children are at risk of starvation in the absence of food aid, according to the UN.

More than one thousand children have been killed or wounded in the East African nation’s civil war. Both sides have pledged not to recruit child soldiers, but have ignored their promises. A UN official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said that opposition groups are recruiting inside UN displacement sites.

The official spoke on the condition of anonymity because of lack of authorization to speak to the media.

Full report at:

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/world/2017/05/08/1-million-children-refugees-from-South-Sudan-s-civil-war.html

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Nigeria: Muslim Women Call for Increase in Nigeria's Health Budget

8 MAY 2017

By Nike Adebowale

The Federation of Muslim Women Association of Nigeria, FOMWAN, has called for an immediate increase in the national health budget. The association, a member of the Partnership for Advocacy in Child and Family Health (PACFaH) project, said that said the budget should not only be increased but should be released on time and used judiciously. The leader of the Abuja chapter of the association, Maryam Aliyu, who spoke on Sunday during an advocacy visit to the Ona of Abaji, Adamu Yunusa, said that an increase in the budget will help tackle the four PACFaH advocacy issues.

Though Mrs. Aliyu commended the government's efforts at increasing the health budget from 4.13 per cent to 4.17 per cent proposed in the 2017 budget, she however said that it is still less than the government's commitment of the Abuja declaration of 2001 to allocate 15 per cent of annual government expenditure to health. The 2017 budget is yet to be passed by the National Assembly. However, Senate President Bukola Saraki has pledged to ensure an increase in the health allocation, to be higher than what was proposed by the Executive.

The budget is expected to be passed by the Senate this week. The PACFaH project is an innovative intervention implemented by eight leading Nigerian Civil Society Organisations who have adopted advocacy as a strategy in tackling challenges in policy and budgeting with a view to advancing child and family health in Nigeria. The PACFaH advocacy issues include treatment of childhood killer diseases - pneumonia and diarrhoea - routine immunization, nutrition and family planning. On Sunday, Mrs. Aliyu pleaded for the continuous support of the monarch, to fight against all challenges militating against child and family health. She said traditional rulers are highly respected in their communities, making them the right persons to advocate on the health challenges facing people at the grassroots.

Full report at:

http://allafrica.com/stories/201705080830.html

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Nigeria: Kaduna Violence - 18 Suspects Arrested

8 MAY 2017

Security agencies in Kaduna have arrested 18 persons suspected to have been involved in the unrest in Kabala West and Ungwan Muazu.

A Kaduna State Government statement said that security agencies arrested the hoodlums around the two communities following reports of threats to law and order. Security patrols in the areas continue.

Samuel Aruwan, spokesperson to Governor Nasir El-Rufai confirmed the arrests. He disclosed that the suspects will be charged to court as soon as the investigations are concluded.

The government also dismissed stories making the round on social media that the crisis has escalated to other parts of Kaduna town leading to the killing of a few persons and others injured. The government further warned those peddling false stories to desist.

Similarly, the state government has sent a high-powered delegation to mediate between Kabala West and Ungwan Mu'azu communities. The delegation was led by Acting Secretary to the State Government, Abdullahi Sani; the Special Adviser on Internal Security; and Mr. Aruwan.

The delegation met with the leadership of the Christian Association of Nigeria, Jama'atu Nasril Islam, JNI, youth leaders, security agencies and traditional rulers of the two communities.

At the end of the meeting, the two sides unanimously agreed that all those responsible for the unrest should be fished out and brought to justice. The delegation also commended all residents of the communities that collaborated with security agencies in containing the unrest that could have degenerated beyond the two communities.

Full report at:

http://allafrica.com/stories/201705090023.html

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URL:

  http://www.newageislam.com/islamic-world-news/new-age-islam-news-bureau/iran-threatens-to-leave-‘only-mecca-and-medina’-untouched-in-saudi-row/d/111083


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