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Islamic World News ( 26 May 2016, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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ISIL Cuts off Tongues of 5 Fighters after Trying to Flee Fallujah Battle

New Age Islam News Bureau

26 May 2016

Photo: Two Chinese Hui Muslim girls read the Quran, Islam’s holy book, at the Niujie Mosque as they wait for their fast on the first day of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan in Beijing. (photo-AP)


 China Warns People to Shun Practise of Islam, Stick to ‘Marxist Atheism’

 Obama Administration Praises Indian Muslims’ Resilience

 No Muslims, No Single People: Anyone Who Rents In Mumbai Has To Follow an Unspoken Code of Conduct


Arab World

 ISIL Cuts off Tongues of 5 Fighters after Trying to Flee Fallujah Battle

 Army Repulses ISIL Offensive in Homs, Kills Tens of Militants

 Four Children Killed in Airstrikes on Yemen's Lahij

 Iranian Deputy FM Blasts Instrumental Use of Terrorism

 Israel Issues Detention Orders for 37 Palestinians

 Israeli Warplanes Strike Gaza

 Syrian Kurds Free Several Villages, Farms in Raqqa

 Syrian Army Uncovers Mass Grave in Palmyra

 Iran Reiterates Support for Lebanon


South Asia

 China Warns People to Shun Practise of Islam, Stick to ‘Marxist Atheism’

 Govt calls on Taliban to renounce violence or face same fate as their leaders

 61 Militants Killed, Dozens Wounded In Latest Air and Ground Operations of Afghan Forces

 Taliban militants in critical condition after Mansoor’s death

 Afghan intelligence arrest political analyst for calling Mansoor a ‘martyr’

 Use all force against enemies, treat prisoners well, Gen. Shaeem tell Afghan commandos

 8 Afghan soldiers martyred during counter-terrorism operations

 Islamic State claims fatal stabbing of Bangladeshi businessman

 Islamist Violence Continues Unabated in Bangladesh: Time for Sheikh Hasina to Act


North America

 Obama Administration Praises Indian Muslims’ Resilience

 Obama Exploring How to Prosecute Islamic State for Genocide

 Canada's welcome of Syrians insults Islamic State, says national-security expert

 Speaker Paul Ryan complicit in Syrian migrant surge to America

 An American muslim Saad Almasmari created history by becoming a Councilman at Hamtramck in Detroit area

 St. Mike’s Pontifical Institute honours Muslim leader


 No Muslims, No Single People: Anyone Who Rents In Mumbai Has To Follow an Unspoken Code of Conduct

 How Muslim Political Parties Are Helping the BJP Win Elections Source

 Impressed With The ISIS? You Might Lose Your Passport

 Ayodhya: Bajrang Dal leader arrested over holding weapons training camp

 PM Modi declines to comment on Donald Trump's Muslim ban proposal

 Tehelka slams Arnab Goswami for calling its Muslim journo a cover for Indian Mujahideen

 Muslims vacant land for PM Modi’s rally


Southeast Asia

 Malaysian Govt Helps Fast Track Islamist Party's Push for Hudud

 Alcohol in Indonesia: Beer Available again in Jakarta's Minimarts?

 Malaysia recognised for heading global halal standards



 British Special Forces 'Blew Up Isis Suicide Truck in Libya'

 Kenya says arrested two suspects with Islamic State links; may have been planning attack

 Africa needs opportunities and partnerships not sympathy - Mahama



 Nationalists, Religious Groups to Protest CPEC Land Purchase

 PHC Suspends Death Sentence of Military Court’s Convict

 Man Arrested For Allegedly Posting “Blasphemous” Text on Social Media

 Drone attack result of govt’s failed foreign policy: Imran

 Ahmadi man gunned down in Karachi



 Israel Forming Civil Defence Units in Preparation for Possible Conflict with Hezbollah

 Turkey 'Threats' Over Migrant Deal Won't Work: Juncker

 Palestine: Israeli rights group gives up on military legal system

 Palestine: Israeli army arrests 26 Palestinians in overnight raids

 Turkey corruption allegations included in Reza Zarrab case in US

 Anti-ISIL coalition jets from İncirlik hit Raqqa



 Russia Accuses Turkey of Supplying Islamic State Extremists

 Switzerland: Muslim students must shake teacher's hand

 Has the Pope Abandoned Europe to Islam?

 Why Are So Many Muslim Refugees in Europe Suddenly Finding Jesus?

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau





ISIL Cuts off Tongues of 5 Fighters after Trying to Flee Fallujah Battle

May 26, 2016

TEHRAN (FNA)- Five ISIL terrorists severed tongues of five fellow militants after they reportedly attempted to flee Fallujah ahead of Iraqi Army looming offensive on the city, an Iraqi source reported on Thursday.

The punishment was reportedly implemented in public to deter other ISIL fighters from fleeing the city, the source said, Al Masdar reported.

Some 500 to 700 insurgents remain in the ISIL stronghold, however, a major Iraqi offensive is currently underway to liberate Fallujah, one of few ISIL-held cities in the country.

Since February 2016, the Iraqi Army has been gaining ground in the Anbar province and took back the major cities of Ramadi, Heet and al-Rutbah from the ISIL terrorist group.

The victories have served to increasingly isolate Fallujah, the first major city to fall to ISIL in January 2014.



China warns people to shun practise of Islam, stick to ‘Marxist Atheism’

May 26, 2016

China’s top leadership, led by Party General Secretary and President Xi Jinping, has warned the Chinese people, especially those living in the Xinjiang province to shun the practise of Islam and to stick to China’s state policy of “Marxist Atheism”. General Secretary and President Xi Jinping’s remarks made at the Second National Work Conference on Religion are being widely reported by state media led by China Central TV. President Jinping’s warning is directed at the Uyghurs, who in recent times, have become very aggressive in their protests against the state. Large parts of the population living in Xinjiang province have become radicalised and the Chinese Government is only now realising the gravity of the situation.

Xinjiang borders Pakistan from where the hardline Islamic teachings flow. China has also been subtly warning Pakistan to stop the flow of Islamic messaging to Xinjiang but to no avail. President’s Xi’s speech at the religious Conference was also a veiled message to Pakistan, say observers. Making China’s State policy of intolerance towards Pan-islamic tendencies very clear, President Xi warned Chinese citizens “not to confuse themselves with non-CCP approved tendencies“ and to “never find their values and beliefs in this religion or any religion.“ Among the other warnings issued by him, was one to resolutely resist overseas infiltration through religious means and to guard against ideological infringement by Islamic extremists. Other senior Communist Party Officials who spoke on this occasion highlighted the dangers that Islam is assuming in some parts of China, making the nation vulnerable to extremist infiltration. Communist Party Officials strongly backed President Xi’s statements and cautioned citizens to be vigilant against Islamic tendencies like Halal products. They made it clear that Halal products will remain banned in China as these “promote religious segregation.“ While coming out strongly against Islam and Islamic traditions, the Second National Work Conference on Religion also promoted a number of articles that expressed support for the new policies. One such article in the official newspaper of the CCP’s Central Commission for Discipline Inspection. It criticised Officials for having forgotten party discipline and engaging in the practise of physiognomy and fortune telling, burning incense and praying. This was followed by a report in the Xinhua on May 9 urging all Chinese Communist Party Cadres at all levels to engage in propaganda, political unity and to guide the masses away from religions, especially those which disrupt the Chinese state. China has already declared 2016 as the “Year of Ethnic Unity and Progress”, a move aimed squarely at ridding the nation of Islamic influences. President Xi Jinping is making efforts to tighten control over religious practises, as it is his belief that religion, especially Islam, could emerge as a competing force in society unless it is nipped in the bud now. China’s Communist Party has declared that the growing influence of radical Islam is a national security issue and the declarations of the Work Conference on Religion have made it clear that Beijing will target all those who assist in the propagation of Islam. In Xinjiang, there is already considerable resentment over the control being exercised over the practise of Islam, such as the growing of beards, observation of fasts during Ramazan, the wearing of the Hijab, dietary restrictions like consumption of Halal food, prayers five times a day and so forth. These practises are perceived as “anti-state“ and are the subject of crackdown by the authorities. President Xi has now made it clear that these policies will be reinforced with renewed vigour, as China is looking at Pakistan-sponsored Islamic radicalism as the number one threat to its society.




Arab World

ISIL Cuts off Tongues of 5 Fighters after Trying to Flee Fallujah Battle

May 26, 2016

TEHRAN (FNA)- Five ISIL terrorists severed tongues of five fellow militants after they reportedly attempted to flee Fallujah ahead of Iraqi Army looming offensive on the city, an Iraqi source reported on Thursday.

The punishment was reportedly implemented in public to deter other ISIL fighters from fleeing the city, the source said, Al Masdar reported.

Some 500 to 700 insurgents remain in the ISIL stronghold, however, a major Iraqi offensive is currently underway to liberate Fallujah, one of few ISIL-held cities in the country.

Since February 2016, the Iraqi Army has been gaining ground in the Anbar province and took back the major cities of Ramadi, Heet and al-Rutbah from the ISIL terrorist group.

The victories have served to increasingly isolate Fallujah, the first major city to fall to ISIL in January 2014.



Army Repulses ISIL Offensive in Homs, Kills Tens of Militants

May 26, 2016

TEHRAN (FNA)- The Syrian army thwarted an attack by the ISIL Takfiri terrorists against Khattab village and Jazal oil field, killing scores of them and injuring others in the Eastern parts of Homs.

After thwarting the terrorists' attack, the Syrian fighter jets also destroyed the ISIL Takfiri terrorists’ vehicles and positions as they targeted their gatherings in the villages of Unq al-Hawa, al-Shendakhiyeh al-Shamaliyeh, Jbab Hamad, al-Habra al-Gharbiyeh and Rasm Hamida in the same region.

The Syrian warplanes also conducted sorties and targeted fortifications of al-Nusra Front Takfiri terrorists in the West of Talamri village, Northeast of Homs, killing tens of Takfiri terrorists and destroying their sites.

In a relevant development on Wednesday, the Syrian military forces pushed back an ISIL attack on its positions in the Eastern part of Homs province, killing over a dozen Takfiri terrorists.

A number of the ISIL terrorists were killed in tough battle with the Syrian government troops in Um al-Tababir region in Eastern Homs.

The ISIL's military hardware and vehicles were also destroyed by the Syrian government troops in the clashes.

Earlier reports said that the Syrian Army troops and popular forces, in a fresh round of joint attacks, targeted the ISIL centers in the Southern side of al-Sha'er oilfield in the Eastern part of Homs province and slowed down the terrorists' military movements.

The Syrian government forces engaged in fierce clashes with the ISIL terrorists near the gas field of Hayan and did not allow them to advance against the army forces in the region.

The ISIL suffered a heavy death toll and its military hardware sustained a major damage in the clashes.

An ISIL vehicle carrying a large volume of ammunition and explosive devices was targeted and exploded in the clashes too.



Four Children Killed in Airstrikes on Yemen's Lahij

May 26, 2016

TEHRAN (FNA)- The death toll from a Saudi-led airstrike against a residential area in Yemen’s Southern province of Lahij rose to 11, with four children among the civilian casualties.

Local security officials and witnesses, speaking on condition of anonymity, said 11 civilians died in the town of al-Mahala, when a warplane, believed to belong to the United Arab Emirates, fired two missiles at the house, flattening the building, presstv reported.

The officials identified the victims as members of the same family. Only one child survived the aerial assault.

Ahmed Hadash, a witness, recalled hearing explosions for 40 minutes during the raids, while fighter jets flew overhead.

“The bodies were distorted and the human remains were everywhere,” he added.

Separately, Saudi-led warplanes struck a mineral water factory in the same Yemeni province on Wednesday, though there were no reports of casualties.

On Wednesday, Saudi warplanes launched another airstrike against Nihm district in the northern province of Sana’a, but there were no immediate reports of casualties or damage.

Moreover, Saudi-sponsored militiamen loyal to former President Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi lobbed a barrage of artillery rounds and mortar shells at al-Ghayl and al-Maton districts of Yemen’s northern province of al-Jawf.

Saudi Arabia launched its military aggression against Yemen on March 26, 2015, in a bid to bring Hadi, a staunch ally of Riyadh who resigned from the presidency — back to power and undermine the Ansarullah movement.

More than 9,600 people have been killed and at least 16,000 others injured since the onset of the aggression.

The Saudi strikes have also taken a heavy toll on the country’s facilities and infrastructure, destroying many hospitals, schools, and factories.

Last week, UN-brokered peace talks between delegates from the Ansarullah movement and the Saudi-backed former Yemeni government were suspended after the latter declared its withdrawal from the negotiations.



Iranian Deputy FM Blasts Instrumental Use of Terrorism

May 26, 2016

TEHRAN (FNA)- Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister for Arab and African Affairs Hossein Amir Abdollahian in a meeting with Deputy Special Envoy of the UN Secretary-General for Syria Ramzy Ezzeldin Ramzy strongly criticized certain countries for using terrorism as a tool to attain their goals.

During the meeting in Tehran on Wednesday, Amir Abdollahian also underlined that the case of humanitarian aid to the Syrian people should not be politicized.

He said finding a political solution to the Syrian crisis will be possible only in case of acknowledging the current realities and meeting the principles of sovereignty.

Amir Abdollahian added that in order to attain a political solution, serious attention should be paid to the role and status of Syria in the region, stern campaign against terrorism and refusing to have instrumental use of terrorism to meet one-sided objectives.

He reiterated that Iran is ready to help find a proper solution to the Syrian crisis.

Ramzy, for his part, said that the Syrian issue is in a critical state, so a political solution should soon be found to end the crisis hitting the country.

He underlined the significant role and standing of Iran in this regard, and said that now, Iran's stances are needed to find a political solution to get rid of the crisis hitting Syria.



Israel Issues Detention Orders for 37 Palestinians

May 26, 2016

TEHRAN (FNA)- Israeli authorities issued administrative detention orders to 37 Palestinian detainees, placing them in jail without a charge or trial, the Palestinian Prisoners’ Society reported.

10 of the detainees received administrative detention orders for the first time, while the remaining 27 others received renewed administrative orders, the organization added, WAFA reported.

Among the detainees who received administrative detention orders was MP Abdel-Jabbar Fuqaha, a member of the Palestine Legislative Council (PLC).

Administrative detention is the imprisonment of Palestinians without charge or trial and on the basis of secret evidence for up to six-month periods, indefinitely renewable by Israeli military courts.

Israel uses administrative detention regularly as a form of collective punishment and mass detention of Palestinians, and frequently uses it when it fails to obtain confessions in interrogations of Palestinian detainees.

Palestinian detainees have continuously resorted to open-ended hunger strikes as a way to protest their illegal administrative detention and to demand an end to this policy, which violates international law.



Israeli Warplanes Strike Gaza

May 26, 2016

TEHRAN (FNA)- Israeli air force carried out attacks on the Gaza Strip early Thursday, the Palestinian sources and Israeli army said.

The Israeli military said in a statement the Israeli fighter jets "targeted two Hamas sites in the Southern Gaza Strip," claiming that the strikes were "in response to a rocket attack from Gaza," Al Manar reported.

The army also claimed in its statement that the rocket had hit an open area in Southern lands near Gaza .

Palestinian security officials confirmed the Israeli raids, saying they targeted sites in Nuseirat and Rafah, causing no casualties.

Earlier this month, a four-day flare-up of border duels between the Israeli army and Gaza constituted the heaviest exchanges of fire between the two sides since the 2014 Israeli war on Gaza that killed and injured more than 13,000 Palestinians.



Syrian Kurds Free Several Villages, Farms in Raqqa

May 26, 2016

TEHRAN (FNA)- The Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), mainly Kurdish fighters, liberated a number of villages and several farms during operations to win back Raqqa.

The SDF in cooperation with the Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) took back the villages of al-Wasta, al-Mechzhardzha, Hadar al-Khalil, Matmashraja, after starting special operations to recapture Raqqa.

According to a field source, the Kurdish fighters are continuing to gain ground with the help of US-led coalition airstrikes.

In a relevant development on Wednesday, the SDF and its allies drove the ISIL terrorists back from more positions in the Southern side of the town of Ein Issa and took full control over one more key village in the region, Kurdish sources said.

"The SDF force hit the ISIL centers in the Southern side of Ein Issa and forced the Takfiri group to pull it fighters back from the village of Namroudiyeh after a tough battle," the sources said, adding, "The ISIL left behind scores of the dead or wounded members and fled the battlefield."

Earlier reports said that the SDF, in a large-scale operation, stormed the ISIL strongholds in the Northern part of Raqqa province and pushed the terrorists back from a key village and a small but strategic town.

The SDF fighters, who launched their large-scale operation from three directions on Tuesday evening, engaged in heavy clashes with the ISIL terrorists in the Southern side of the town of Ein Issa, which ended in the seizures of the small town of al-Fateseh and the village of Qartaj.

The ISIL left behind scores of the dead or wounded members and fled the battlefields to evade more casualties.

Over 12,000 of fighters, including the Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) have participated in the operation.



Syrian Army Uncovers Mass Grave in Palmyra

May 26, 2016

TEHRAN (FNA)- The Syrian Army discovered a mass grave in an underground facility Southwest of Palmyra Airbase, a military source said on Thursday.

"At the underground site, more than 25 bodies, mostly of soldiers in uniform, were found piled on top of each other in the sewers of the facility," the source explained, Al Masdar reported.

The bodies are likely for the captured soldiers executed by ISIL fighters shortly after the terrorist group seized Palmyra in early summer, 2015.

The bodies have been transferred to a military hospital in Homs, burial preparations are to begin once the bodies are identified.

The ancient city of Palmyra was recaptured by government troops two months ago in an offensive backed by the Syrian and Russian Air forces.

Meanwhile, 49 different corpses also arrived at the military hospital in Homs on Wednesday from al-Zara village, after local armed group struck a deal with the Red Crescent and local authorities.



Iran Reiterates Support for Lebanon

May 26, 2016

TEHRAN (FNA)- Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif extended his congratulations to the Lebanese nation and government on the country's Liberation Day, and underlined Tehran's continued support for Lebanon.

In separate messages to Secretary General of Lebanon's Hezbollah Seyed Hassan Nasrallah and Lebanese Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil on Wednesday, Zarif described Liberation Day in Lebanon as a golden page in the country's history and that of the region as well.

He congratulated the Lebanese nation, government, army and the Mujahed combatants on the Liberation Day which marks the day when southern parts of the country were freed from the occupation of the Zionist regime 16 years ago.

Zarif also appreciated the smart role the Hezbollah forces and the Lebanese officials as well as combatants played in the historic event which he described as a "big victory" for the nation.

He also wished victory and success for the great Lebanese nation.

The Lebanese people on Wednesday marked the passage of 16 years since the Israel army withdrew from Southern Lebanon -- after facing stiff resistance from Hezbollah -- following 18 years of occupation and conflict.


South Asia

China warns people to shun practise of Islam, stick to ‘Marxist Atheism’

May 26, 2016

China’s top leadership, led by Party General Secretary and President Xi Jinping, has warned the Chinese people, especially those living in the Xinjiang province to shun the practise of Islam and to stick to China’s state policy of “Marxist Atheism”. General Secretary and President Xi Jinping’s remarks made at the Second National Work Conference on Religion are being widely reported by state media led by China Central TV. President Jinping’s warning is directed at the Uyghurs, who in recent times, have become very aggressive in their protests against the state. Large parts of the population living in Xinjiang province have become radicalised and the Chinese Government is only now realising the gravity of the situation.

Xinjiang borders Pakistan from where the hardline Islamic teachings flow. China has also been subtly warning Pakistan to stop the flow of Islamic messaging to Xinjiang but to no avail. President’s Xi’s speech at the religious Conference was also a veiled message to Pakistan, say observers. Making China’s State policy of intolerance towards Pan-islamic tendencies very clear, President Xi warned Chinese citizens “not to confuse themselves with non-CCP approved tendencies“ and to “never find their values and beliefs in this religion or any religion.“ Among the other warnings issued by him, was one to resolutely resist overseas infiltration through religious means and to guard against ideological infringement by Islamic extremists. Other senior Communist Party Officials who spoke on this occasion highlighted the dangers that Islam is assuming in some parts of China, making the nation vulnerable to extremist infiltration. Communist Party Officials strongly backed President Xi’s statements and cautioned citizens to be vigilant against Islamic tendencies like Halal products. They made it clear that Halal products will remain banned in China as these “promote religious segregation.“ While coming out strongly against Islam and Islamic traditions, the Second National Work Conference on Religion also promoted a number of articles that expressed support for the new policies. One such article in the official newspaper of the CCP’s Central Commission for Discipline Inspection. It criticised Officials for having forgotten party discipline and engaging in the practise of physiognomy and fortune telling, burning incense and praying. This was followed by a report in the Xinhua on May 9 urging all Chinese Communist Party Cadres at all levels to engage in propaganda, political unity and to guide the masses away from religions, especially those which disrupt the Chinese state. China has already declared 2016 as the “Year of Ethnic Unity and Progress”, a move aimed squarely at ridding the nation of Islamic influences. President Xi Jinping is making efforts to tighten control over religious practises, as it is his belief that religion, especially Islam, could emerge as a competing force in society unless it is nipped in the bud now. China’s Communist Party has declared that the growing influence of radical Islam is a national security issue and the declarations of the Work Conference on Religion have made it clear that Beijing will target all those who assist in the propagation of Islam. In Xinjiang, there is already considerable resentment over the control being exercised over the practise of Islam, such as the growing of beards, observation of fasts during Ramazan, the wearing of the Hijab, dietary restrictions like consumption of Halal food, prayers five times a day and so forth. These practises are perceived as “anti-state“ and are the subject of crackdown by the authorities. President Xi has now made it clear that these policies will be reinforced with renewed vigour, as China is looking at Pakistan-sponsored Islamic radicalism as the number one threat to its society.



Govt calls on Taliban to renounce violence or face same fate as their leaders

Thu May 26 2016

The Afghan government has called on the Taliban group to renounce violence or face the same fate as their leaders.

The statement by the Afghan government was given shortly after the group announced the successor of Mullah Akhtar Mansoor in a US drone strike in Pakistan.

The government said ‘Taliban groups have yet another opportunity to end and renounce violence, lay down their armds, and resume normal and peaceful life.’

However, the government said the Taliban will face the same fate as their leadership if they chose to pursue violence.

The statement by the Afghan government comes as the US Department of State said Tuesday that the militants will be targeted and will have no safe haven if they continue to attack the Afghan and US forces.

“And I also think that it sends the message that the Taliban must decide what its future is going to be and whether it’s going to be part of a peaceful political future for Afghanistan. And there is a path towards that,” Mark C. Toner, deputy spokesperson for the State Department, told reporters.

He also added ” And I also think that it sends the message that the Taliban must decide what its future is going to be and whether it’s going to be part of a peaceful political future for Afghanistan. And there is a path towards that.”

The Taliban supreme leader Mullah Mansoor was targeted in the vicinity of Balochistan province of Pakistan late on Saturday afternoon.

The Taliban group confirmed the death of Mullah Mansoor after almost four days and announced his successor Mawlavi Haibtullah Akhundzda.



61 Militants Killed, Dozens Wounded In Latest Air and Ground Operations of Afghan Forces

Wed May 25 2016

At least 61 militants were killed and dozens of others were wounded in the latest clearance operations of the Afghan National Security and Defense (ANSDF), the Ministry of Defense (MoD) said.

According to a statement by MoD, the operations were conducted in the past 24 hours in various parts of the country with the support of the Afghan Air Force and Artillery units.

The statement further added 30 of the militanst were killed and several others were wounded in Chemtal district of balkh and 11 others were killed and 7 more were wounded in Suzma Qala district of Sar-e-Pul province.

A least 7 militants were killed during an operation in Baghlan Markazi district of Baghlan and 10 others were wounded, MoD said.

The statement also added that 9 militants wre killed and 7 others were wounded during an operation in Dehrawood district of Uruzgan and 4 more were killed in Yakya Khel district of Paktika.

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



Taliban militants in critical condition after Mansoor’s death

Thu May 26 2016

The Ministry of Interior has said the Taliban group militants are in a critical condition following the death of their leader in Pakistan.

Sediq Sediqi, spokesman for the Ministry of Interior, told reporters in Kabul that the intelligence findings of the ministry shows the militants are suffering in the battlefield following the death of Mullah Akhtar Mansoor.

He said there are no reports regarding the situation of the leadership of the group in Quetta but the militants are facing major issues in the battlefield.

The Interior Ministry spokesman also added that unconfirmed reports received by the ministry shows certain Taliban groups are willing to surrender.

Sediqi also pointed towards the ongoing annual Shafaq military operations and said the offensive by the Afghan National Security and Defense Forces are underway and major achievements have been made during the operations.

According to Sediqi, the Minister of Intrior is mainly focusing to use the Afghan National Police Special Operations Forces which have proven to be more capable in suppressing the insurgents activities.

He said the Shafaq military operation is mainly aimed at targeting the key leaders of the militants and a large of militants have been killed during the operations.

Sediqi further added that the Afghan security forces have not faced any major issue during the ongoing operations so far.

He told reports at least 1,167 militants have been killed since the start of Shafaq military operations, 465 militants were wounded and at least 154 others were arrested during the raids.



Afghan intelligence arrest political analyst for calling Mansoor a ‘martyr’

Thu May 26 2016

The Afghan intelligence operatives have arrested a political analysts Hassan Haqyar for supporting the Taliban group.

According to a statement by the National Security Council (NSC), the National Directorate of Security (NDS) operatives arrested Haqyar for supporting the Taliban group and calling its leader a ‘martyr’.

NSC said Haqyar was speaking during a television debate and called a famous killer of the Afghan people martyred.

The Taliban group supreme leader Mullah Akhtar Mansoor was killed in a drone strike carried out by teh US forces in Balochistan province of Pakistan on Saturday.

His death was confirmed by the Taliban group early on Saturday and his successor Mawlavi Haibatullah Akhundzada was declared the new Chief of the Taliban group.

The Afghan government said Mullah Mansoor sought refuge in the stranger’s soil and was repeatedly committing deception, concealing facts, killing innocent people and terrorizing people as well as smuggling drugs and preventing Afghanistan to gain development by emphasizing on continued war in the country.

It also added that the supporters of Mullah Mansoor were sparing no efforts in committing atrocities against the noble and Muslim people of Afghanistan.



Use all force against enemies, treat prisoners well, Gen. Shaeem tell Afghan commandos

Wed May 25 2016

The Afghan National Army Chief of Staff General Qadam Shah Shaheem instructed the Afghan commandos to use all force against the enemies of the country.

He was speaking during a gathering in Kabul on the occasion of the graduation of 900 commandos of the Afghan National Army.

Gen. Shaheem said the Afghan civilians should not be harmed as a result of the capabilities of the Afghan commando forces but it should be enemies who should fear.

He also urged the Afghan commando forces to treat the Prisoners of War well and not to harm them and also prevent causing harm to the properties of the civilians.

In other parts of his speech, Gen. Shaheem pointed towards the state of the art equipment in custody of the Afghan special forces.

He urged the Afghan forces to take better care of the equipment, insisting that the equipment and technology belong to the Afghan nation.

Gen. Shaheem also hailed the Afghan security forces for their bravery and devotion in fight against terrorism.

The graduation of 900 commando forces could further boost the capabilities of the Afghan National Security and Defense Forces (ANSDF) who are fighting a resurgent Taliban.

But the observers believe that the Afghan Special Forces play a key role in fight against terrorism, specifically for the night operations they conduct which have had a considerable achievement during the recent months.



8 Afghan soldiers martyred during counter-terrorism operations

Wed May 25 2016

At least 8 soldiers of the Afghan National Army (ANA) forces were martyred in fight against terrorism in the past 24 hours, the Ministry of Defense (MoD) said.

According to an operational update by the Ministry of Defense (MoD), the soldiers were martyred while conducting counter-terrorism operations against the internal and external terrorists.

“The Afghan National Army (ANA) forces are prepared for all kinds of devotion and with all force to maintain security and comfort for the people of Afghanistan,” a statement by MoD said, adding that 8 Afghan soldiers were martyred during counter-terrorism operations against the internal and foreign terrorists.

There has been a sharp rise in the casualties of the Afghan national security forces since they took full control of the security responsibilities from the coalition forces at the start of last year.

According to the earlier estimates by security officials, the Afghan army deaths stood at 4 service members daily on average which is mainly caused due to improvised explosive device (IED) attacks.

The Afghan forces have increased counter-terrorism operations to suppress the anti-government armed militant groups who are preparing to step up attacks as they announced their spring offensive earlier last week.



Islamic State claims fatal stabbing of Bangladeshi businessman

May 25 2016

Islamic State claimed responsibility for stabbing an elderly Hindu businessman to death in Bangladesh, monitoring service SITE said on Wednesday, in what would be the second killing by the militant group in the country in less than a week.

The Muslim-majority South Asian nation has witnessed a surge in Islamist violence in the past year in which members of religious minorities, liberal activists, academics and foreign aid workers have been killed.

Debesh Chandra Pramanik, 68, a shoe trader, was found hacked to death in his shop on Wednesday in the northwestern rural district of Gaibandha, police said.

Police found his body lying in pool of blood, police official Mozammel Haque said.

"The attackers slashed his throat with sharp weapons leaving him dead on the spot," he said, adding that one person had been picked up for questioning.

Islamic State claimed the killing of a village doctor on Friday.

The government has denied that Islamic State or al Qaeda groups have a presence in the country of 160 million and says home-grown Islamists are responsible for the wave of attacks.

State Minister for Foreign Affairs Shahriar Alam told Reuters in an interview published earlier on Wednesday that Islamic State was trying to ride a wave of religious radicalisation by falsely claiming killings, adding there was enough evidence implicating domestic militant groups.

Since February last year, at least 27 people, including five secular bloggers, a publisher and two gay right campaigners, have died in attacks linked to militant groups.

Islamic State has claimed 18 of the attacks since its first claim in September last year and Al Qaeda most of the rest, according to SITE.



Islamist Violence Continues Unabated in Bangladesh: Time for Sheikh Hasina to Act


Bangladesh has been experiencing a spurt in Islamist violence with at least ten bloggers, rights activists, secular writers, liberal intellectuals and publishers brutally murdered over the past two years. Four of those who died were butchered in April this year alone. Most of the slain activists had been outspoken critics of injustice and religious extremism, and of the government’s apparent inaction in bringing the perpetrators to justice.

In a gruesome incident on April 25, suspected Islamic militants hacked to death leading gay rights activist Xulhaz Mannan and his friend Mahbub Rabbi Tonoy, a theatre and LGBT activist, in Dhaka. Mannan was a cousin of former Foreign Minister Dipu Moni and worked as programme officer for the United States Agency for International Development, or USAID. He was also editor of Rupban, Bangladesh’s first magazine for gay, bisexual and transgender people, launched in 2014. Thirty-five-year-old Mannan was vocal in promoting gay rights. In a Twitter post, Ansar al-Islam, the local unit of al-Qaeda in the Indian Sub-continent, said their “mujahidins” had assassinated Mannan and his friend for being “pioneers of practicising and promoting homosexuality” in the country. The international community has denounced the twin murders and expressed concern over the shrinking space for freedom of thought and expression in Bangladesh.

Local reports suggest that Mannan spoke several times regarding the hostility he had confronted while working for gay rights, an issue viewed as taboo in Bangladesh. Following his killing, London-based Amnesty International accused the Bangladeshi authorities of “harassing” the country’s LGBT community instead of protecting them. According to Amnesty, LGBT activists find it difficult to report any threat against them as homosexual relations are considered a crime under Bangladeshi law.

The twin murders took place just two days after Reazul Karim Siddique, an English language professor at Rajshahi University in northwestern Bangladesh, was killed in a similarly barbaric manner. The Islamic State (ISIS) claimed responsibility for Siddique’s death for “calling for atheism”. However, according to his colleagues, although Siddique was involved in cultural activities, he never spoke or wrote anything about religion or Islam. Besides, he was not affiliated to any political party. Bangladesh’s home minister, Asaduzzaman Kamal, rejected the ISIS’s claim, blaming domestic militants instead, while the police suspect Siddique was targeted by Islamic militants as he was proactive in cultural activities.

Many in Bangladesh believe that Siddique’s progressive outlook could have incurred the wrath of Islamic hardliners who are known for their apathy towards cultural activism and secular lifestyles. Siddique was the fourth professor from Rajshahi University to have been killed in the last 12 years. In November 2014, AKM Shafiul Islam, a sociology professor, was murdered in an identical fashion for saying that students should not be allowed to wear burkhas during exams. Meanwhile, police arrested an alleged activist of the Islami Chhatra Shibir, Jamaat-e-Isami’s militant student wing, for Siddique’s murder.

On April 6 this year, Nazimuddin Samad, a 28-year-old post-graduate student at Jagannath University and a blogger, was hacked and shot dead in Dhaka by suspected radical Islamists. Police suspect that Samad was targeted for his outspoken atheism and for supporting the Shahbag movement in early 2013 to demand capital punishment for the war criminals of 1971. He was an active member of pro-liberation socio-cultural organisation Ganajagaran Mancha, which had spearheaded the historic Shahbag movement. He criticised radical Islam and advocated secularism in his Facebook posts. Fellow online activists described Samad as a “loud voice against any social injustice”.

Samad’s writings focused on the growing ideological rift between secular-nationalists and orthodox religious groups in Bangladesh. He was critical of state religion in the country’s Constitution and had expressed his views on Facebook. He observed: “Evolution is a scientific truth. Religion and race are invention of the savage and uncivil people”. The outspoken online activist was among the 84 people named on the ‘hit-list’ that a group of radical Islamists had drawn up and submitted to the home ministry. Samad was threatened many times for his strong criticism of religious fundamentalism. He went into hiding, but eventually could not save himself from the Islamic militants. Ansar al-Islam claimed responsibility for his killing. In a statement posted online, the outfit claimed Samad had “abused God, the Prophet Muhammad and Islam”.

There have also been a series of violent attacks against Shiite shrines, Hindu temples and priests, Christian missionaries and foreigners across the country since September 2015 — a disturbing phenomenon hitherto unknown in the moderate Muslim nation. In recent weeks, a Sufi preacher and Buddhist monk were brutally murdered by suspected Islamist hardliners. On February 21 this year, two assailants attacked a Hindu priest at a temple in northern Bangladesh, an attack subsequently claimed by ISIS. Some other deadly assaults in 2015, including the killing of a Hindu priest and two foreign development workers were also claimed by the outfit. But the Awami League government has repeatedly denied that ISIS or al Qaeda have a presence in Bangladesh, and have said home grown Islamic radicals are behind the attacks.

The occurrence of such incidents with disturbing regularity clearly demonstrates the increasing religious intolerance in Bangladeshi polity. The continuous killing of liberal thinkers, rights activists, bloggers and religious minorities has raised fears of Islamic fundamentalists gaining a foothold in the country. As the death toll rises, activists and prominent members of the intelligentsia believe that the failure of law enforcement agencies to catch the culprits will send the wrong signals to the Islamic militants and will likely embolden them.

Following the murder of Mannan, the head of the Blogger and Online Activist Network in Bangladesh and spokesperson of Gana Jagaran Mancha, Imran H. Sarker received a death threat from Islamic radicals.

Both domestic and international rights groups have pressed the government to do more to stop the killings of liberal thinkers and activists. Amnesty noted that even after a series of horrific attacks, the government has not provided protection to “threatened members of civil society”. The UN High Commissioner for Refugees also urged the government to initiate urgent and concrete measures to ensure the security of those who have been threatened by the religious extremists operating in the country.

Many of those included in the ‘hit-list’ of radical Islamists are desperately trying to move out of Bangladesh for safety. In early April, the US government said it would consider granting asylum to a number of Bangladeshi secular bloggers confronting imminent danger from Islamic extremists.

There is a feeling among the secular-rationalists and a section of liberal intellectuals that the government lacks the political will to fight the growing radicalisation in the country. Some have even accused the Awami League of appeasing the religious extremists to prolong its stay in power. Facing criticism from various quarters for not doing enough to prevent the recurrence of such dastardly acts, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina recently blamed opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party and its alliance partner Jamaat, the largest fundamentalist party, of being behind the “planned” killings of bloggers and intellectuals to destabilise the country.

It is high time that the Hasina government, which swears in the name of secularism, undertakes comprehensive measures to save the helpless online activists and free thinkers from religious fanatics who appear determined to annihilate so-called atheists one by one. The government must act without further delay as unchecked Islamist violence is also harming Bangladesh’s liberal democratic credentials before the global community.


North America

Obama administration praises Indian Muslims’ resilience

May 26, 2016

The US has been successful in engaging with India on tracking money used by radical groups to penetrate into the country, the Obama Administration has said as it praised Indian Muslims for demonstrating a great deal of “resilience” against overtures by terrorist groups. “In Indian, Muslim community has demonstrated a great deal of resilience against such overtures,” Nisha Desai Biswal, Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asia, told members of Senate Foreign Relations Committee during a Congressional hearing early this week. “We have seen in India that radical ideology has by and large not been successful in taking root,” she said in response to a question when asked about penetration of Islamic extremism in India by Senator Chris Murphy.

Murphy also expressed concern over increasing Gulf investment in India. “There’s a lot of reporting about some major investments being made by the Saudis, by the Wahhabi Clerical Movement to set up a large network of schools and madrasas throughout India,” he said. “So, can you talk about that specific issue, and then more broadly about any developing trend lines on the penetration of some of these extremist groups to gain some foothold inside India?” Murphy asked. Biswal said the US is “clearly tracking” such investment and is “very concerned” about the reach of the global networks in India and around the world. “That is a very focused part of our conversations and engagement on the counter terrorism front and on the intelligence front,” she said. “We have had very strong success in engaging with India on tracking financial flows that represent areas of concern, and the Indians themselves are doing a lot to track flows coming in not only from Gulf but from many other parts of the world that they think can cause concern,” Biswal said. “The challenge is always identifying what we believe is appropriate financial flows coming in from across and around the world versus areas of concern, and creating the distinctions and the systematic framework to constrain one andenable the other,” she said. Biswal said India and the United States are having “a very robust cooperation” on efforts by these global networks to tie into and reach into south Asia and India in particular.



Obama exploring how to prosecute Islamic State for genocide

May 25, 2016

The Obama administration, having declared two months ago that the Islamic State is committing genocide, is now grappling with how to actually prosecute the terrorist network's fighters for the crime.

Early-stage discussions about international tribunals and other means of justice are taking place in the White House and the State Department, people familiar with the talks told POLITICO. Any genocide prosecution, however, could be years away, a task made all the more complicated by the unusual nature of the Islamic State and the high bar for evidence.

Story Continued Below

The administration's top priority remains defeating the jihadists on the battlefield in Iraq and Syria, an approach that has been more about killing than capturing the enemy.

The discussions on prosecutions come as President Barack Obama and his aides, who spent months deciding whether to even use the word "genocide," face growing pressure to prove that invoking the label has serious consequences, even if it doesn't lead to an increase in America's military commitment.

On Thursday, a House subcommittee is holding a hearing titled "The ISIS Genocide Declaration: What Next?" Some lawmakers also are pushing legislation making it easier to arm and protect Christians, Yazidis and other groups threatened by the Islamic State, which also is known as ISIS, ISIL or Da'esh.

House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce is among those urging the administration to work with the international community to set up tribunals to try the jihadist fighters for genocide and other war crimes.

"It’s critical that we actually defeat the terrorists and bring those responsible for these atrocities to justice," said Royce, a Republican from California. "The president’s lack of a plan is inexcusable.”

Secretary of State John Kerry declared on March 17 that the Islamic State is committing genocide against Yazidis, Christians and Shiite Muslims, a rare step for the U.S., which has historically tried to avoid the label. But Kerry added that his declaration did not amount to the conviction of any individuals.

"The full facts must be brought to light by an independent investigation and through formal legal determination made by a competent court or tribunal," he said. "The United States will strongly support efforts to collect, document, preserve, and analyze the evidence of atrocities, and we will do all we can to see that the perpetrators are held accountable."

Shaun Coughlin, a foreign affairs officer in the State Department's Office of Global Criminal Justice, would not confirm nor deny if the administration is examining ways to prosecute the jihadists for genocide. Instead he said the administration supports efforts to hold accountable those behind "heinous acts."

"There are venues at national and international levels in which accountability could be pursued, including the International Criminal Court in appropriate circumstances," Coughlin said.

Prosecuting members of the Islamic State for a crime like genocide, a term that carries unusual weight in the international legal lexicon, will involve dealing with a web of complicated issues.

For one thing, the Islamic State is not recognized as a bona fide state and its members are thus considered "non-state actors." The group also has attracted fighters from all over the world, meaning individual nations may have different points of view on how their citizens should be treated.

The terrorist network also has an administrative hierarchy, which could prompt questions about which fighters should be held responsible for acts planned by their superiors. And many of the local residents of Iraq and Syria whom the group has enlisted may have had no choice in the matter.

As the U.S.-led coalition fighting the Islamic State prepares for battles in urban centers such as Mosul, Iraq, and Raqqa, Syria, the administration is reportedly grappling with the more basic question of where to imprison a potentially large number of detainees.

Turning over detainees to the Iraqi government is an option the U.S. already has used because Baghdad is an ally. But it's not that simple in Syria, where the U.S. has backed rebel factions seeking to oust President Bashar Assad. (Whether Assad, who is backed by Russia, will ever be held responsible for his regime's crimes is another issue the U.S. and its allies are pondering.)

Beyond detaining them, trying to prove that members of the Islamic State committed genocide could require a special legal architecture and extensive evidence, some analysts said.

U.S. law defines genocide as killing or other specified acts committed with a "specific intent to destroy, in whole or in substantial part, a national, ethnic, racial or religious group." It's a different, higher bar than the more general "crimes against humanity," "war crimes" or other allegations, even if the punishments ultimately are similar.

"Genocide is a very difficult crime to prove. It’s a specific intent crime. You almost have to have a smoking gun to do it," said David Michael Crane, the founding chief prosecutor of the Special Court for Sierra Leone, a war crimes tribunal that dealt with the fallout from the African country's 1990s civil war.

Crane indicted former Liberian President Charles Taylor for his role in the Sierra Leone conflict; the African leader was eventually convicted of war crimes and crimes against humanity, and is serving a 50-year prison sentence — one of the most high-profile such cases.

Overall the international community has a mixed record of holding to account perpetrators of genocide and related crimes. Sudanese President Omar Bashir, for instance, has been indicted by the International Criminal Court for genocide in the Darfur region, but he has refused to appear and has traveled abroad freely despite an outstanding warrant for his arrest. On the other hand, the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda convicted dozens of people for their roles in the 1994 genocide. Those convicted typically get long prison terms.

Crane has talked to members of the Obama administration about ways to bring Islamic State members to justice over allegations including genocide. He said he expects little to get done anytime soon, in part because it's an election year.

"We can do this, we have the experience, the jurisprudence. The challenge is the political will to do it," Crane said.

Steve Oshana, an Assyrian Christian activist who also has dealt with administration officials on how to hold the Islamic State accountable, said his sense is that they'd rather set up a new tribunal with global allies than use the International Criminal Court, which is exceedingly slow.

"Certainly there's no talk about the U.S. setting up its own tribunal," Oshana added. "What they don’t want to do is to create more fodder for ISIS propaganda. It would have to be an international deal."

U.S. lawmakers appear on board with that idea. Just days before Kerry's declaration, the House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed a resolution urging the creation of a war crimes tribunal that could bring justice to anyone suspected of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity in Syria.

Coughlin, the State Department official, said the U.S. Transitional Justice Global Initiative is helping civil society members in Iraq develop protocols and gather evidence to hold human rights violators accountable. At least 29 Iraqi civil society activists have collected some 600 narratives from victims and witnesses of atrocities, Coughlin said.

Some observers worry that such programs aren't moving fast enough. They fear that evidence that can prove genocide — whether it's documentation or mass graves — will be lost or destroyed as the fighting continues.

They also point to concerns that certain ethnic and religious minorities will remain vulnerable to violence from other armed groups even after the Islamic State is defeated, especially if the array of grievances that gave rise to the terror network are not addressed.

"Fighting ISIS is not the same as having a comprehensive strategy to prevent genocide, mass atrocities and war crimes. It’s an essential aspect, but there’s more to it," said a congressional aide familiar with the administration's talks.



Canada's welcome of Syrians insults Islamic State, says national-security expert


Welcoming 25,000 Syrian refugees to Canada was more than a humanitarian gesture — it was a smart play for national security, says an expert with the Conference Board of Canada.

"It was one of the best moves from a counterterrorism perspective," said Satyamoorthy Kabilan, the non-partisan think tank's director of national security and strategic foresight. He explained why to police, business and community representatives gathered in Winnipeg Wednesday. "It sends a huge message and a very public message to Daesh (the Islamic State) — ‘Your own people hate you and want to get out as soon as possible.'"

Kabilan was responding to a Winnipeg police officer asking him what percentage of Syrian refugees who recently arrived in Canada pose a terror threat. Close to 1,000 Syrian refugees resettled in Manitoba this past winter. Kabilan couldn’t provide a percentage but said posing as a refugee and having to deal with immigration bureaucracy and security screening make it the least likely route for a potential terrorist.

He pointed to an October 2015, report in the Economist that looked at the number of refugees in the U.S. prosecuted for terrorist acts since Sept. 11, 2001. It found that of the 745,000 refugees resettled since Sept. 11, 2001, only two people, both Iraqis in Kentucky, have been arrested on terrorist charges. They were arrested for aiding al-Qaida in Iraq.

War-weary and uprooted Syrian refugees arriving in Canada, said Kabilan, would be quick to point out anyone they suspected of having links to terror.

"If they had any inkling of a plan by Daesh (an Arabic reference to Islamic State), the likelihood of someone saying something is pretty high," said Kabilan. "They want to get away from that."

Canada’s welcome of Syrians – the majority of whom are Muslim – also undermines Islamic State propaganda that Muslims are not welcome in the West, said Kabilan.

A member of the Canadian military at the seminar organized by risk management and security firm DHD International, and held at Canad Inns Polo Park, asked about differences between Western Europe and Canada in terms of susceptibility to terror attacks by Islamic State. Canada, Kabilan said, is protected by both geography and how it treats newcomers.

"A very major reason Canada is immune is Canadian society," he said.

Belgium and France both have been attacked and both have had problems with integration, Kabilan said. "It’s not really a significant problem in Canada."

He said a 2011 Conference Board of Canada survey asked members of immigrant communities about whether they could achieve high office in Canada and become police chief or mayor, for example.

"More often than not, they say yes," he said. The positive response in Canada was one of the highest in the West among immigrant groups, he said. "We’re much more welcoming and accepting of people from all walks of life," said Kabilan. "That plays a major role."

Terrorism may not pose an existential threat to Canada but it’s important for Canadians to support counterterrorism efforts, said Kabilan with the not-for-profit board dedicated to researching and analyzing economic trends, organizational performance and public policy issues.

"Terrorism is about striking terror into people’s lives," Kabilan said. "The effects go beyond the physical. They can have an effect on how people perceive their safety.

"Confidence means everything," he said. "Look at the stock market. There may be no successful attacks and it can still have an impact."



Speaker Paul Ryan complicit in Syrian migrant surge to America

May 25, 2016

Maybe my choice of the word “complicit” is being too easy on him!

Writer George Rasley at Conservative HQ puts the blame on Ryan for not halting the program in that now infamous Omnibus funding bill late last year when he had the chance.  Rasley also explains in ‘Paul Ryan’s Hijra’ that Ryan knew all along what he was doing to make it look like the Republican House was on our side when he knew full well, the Senate would do the job for him!

Nice to see the word “Hijra” getting more attention these days.

Be sure to see Richard Falknor, here at Blue Ridge Forum admonishing national security leaders, but really every one of us, to learn the ten words (first published at Gates of Vienna) that many in our woefully uneducated national security apparatus don’t even know! Go there and see if you know all ten! (Hijra is third on the list)

Back to Ryan’s Hijra where Rasley reports on the revelation yesterday (headlined at Drudge) that the Syrian refugee surge is now full steam ahead (hat tip: Cathy):

…on Monday the State Department admitted 225 Syrian Muslim “refugees”, setting a single-day record, and on Tuesday a further 80 were admitted.  [This is why you are seeing so much activity by the feds/contractors trying to find new resettlement sites—ed]

As our friend Stephen Dinan of The Washington Times put it, “the spike is stunning, with more people accepted Monday alone than in the entire months of January or February.”

As Dinen noted, Obama has promised to accept 10,000 refugees from Oct. 1 through Sept. 30. As of Tuesday evening, the administration had approved 2,540 — an average of about 10 applications a day.

Less than 1 percent of these “refugees” are Christians, whose oppression is well documented, according to Dinen 97 percent are Sunni Muslims, the same Sunni Muslim who form the Taliban, al Qaeda and the Islamic State.

But, it isn’t just Obama we should blame!

In a rational world this dangerous piece of Obama’s plan to fundamentally transform America by importing jihad into our country would be stopped cold by a Republican majority in Congress.

But this is not a rational world, this is a world run by the personal whim of arrogant Washington insiders, chief among them being Democratic President Barack Obama and Republican Speaker of the House Paul Ryan.

Ryan has made increasing Muslim immigration to America his special project and has steadfastly fought any attempts by conservatives to slow or stop what a large majority of American believe is an existential threat to constitutional liberty.

Ryan, as many conservatives demanded, could have included a defund in the must-pass Omnibus that would have effectively ended or temporarily halted the program.

You need to go to Conservative HQ and see how Ryan manipulated the vote to make it look like the Republican House cared about you and your security.



An American muslim Saad Almasmari created history by becoming a Councilman at Hamtramck in Detroit area

May 25, 2016

Despite all the hoopla over tolerance versus intolerance, USA continues to be the land of freedom of speech, justice and multiculturalism. Hamtramck- a town in Detroit area elected its first Muslim-majority city council. A town that was predominantly Polish Catholic in 1970s is today a Muslim -majority place.

That was in the first week of November of 2015. We profile one of the new councilman, Saad Almasmari.

Winning the majority of votes in Hamtramck City Council, Saad Almasmari described his excitement and experience about the race to it. “I am a social guy, I like helping my community, my city” says Almasmari.

Among three American-Muslim candidates on the ballot, Yemen born Saad Almasmari was one of them. All three received the most votes in a town that has the largest percentages of foreign born citizens in Michigan. “This is the city that has distinguished itself among others that the majority of the people on the city council are Muslims” Osama Siblani, publisher of Arab American News. But this news made a bigger remark due to its timing. “While presidential candidates are trying to prevent Muslims from coming to this county, they are becoming majority in one of the cities. I think this is the news” he adds.

Hamtramck was unhappy to know Mr. Donald Trump’s statement to ban Muslims from coming to America. “We have about 27% of Yemenis in Hamtramck, 22% Bengalis and about 11% Brazilians who are all Muslims” says Almasmari. From a Polish Catholic auto workers’ settlement, to Muslim American shop owners and businesses Hamtramck has been a case study for changing demographics by recent immigration. “Yes, it has all been quite surprising, all these national and international attention” Karen Majewski, Mayor- Hamtramck.

But this attention couldn’t last longer. When Almasmari attended his first general city council meeting in January, only two media organizations were present to record the moment.  “In the council, I am an American before I am a Muslim. One of the newspapers asked me if I was able to meet Mr Trump, would you? I said yes I have no issues in meeting him. And then three days later, I received an email from their campaign asking if I can meet him for like 15-20 mins.”

If he ever meets Mr. Trump, he wouldn’t talk about his faith, but helping Hamtramck which is in financial trouble and has highest poverty rates in the state of Michigan clears Saad Almasmari.



St. Mike’s Pontifical Institute honours Muslim leader

May 25, 2016

Muslims and Christians came together May 20 to acknowledge their common history and ancient bonds as Toronto’s Pontifical Institute of Mediaeval Studies awarded His Highness the Aga Khan with its highest degree.

In his role as chancellor of the prestigious graduate school, Cardinal Thomas Collins bestowed an honourary doctor of letters in Mediaeval Studies on the spiritual leader of the world’s 15 million Ismaili Muslims.

Collins praised the Aga Khan as a religious voice of reason, peace and humanity.

“This is what you have so consistently done over the years — to bring peace and to bring hope,” Collins said. “Our society is so often turned into rather a cold place by the cold winds of secularism.”

The honourary doctorate highlights a new program at the 87-year-old pontifical institute attached to St. Michael’s College in the University of Toronto. In the last year the institute has initiated a program that concentrates on the three Abrahamic faiths and their interaction in the mediaeval period. Without the contributions of Muslims scholars, the rediscovery of Plato and Aristotle, which led to the philosophical and theological achievements of Thomas Aquinas, would not have been possible.

As an honourary Canadian citizen and founder of Toronto’s Aga Khan Museum, the Aga Khan is well known in Canada, but should be celebrated as “a champion of pluralism, a transcender of borders and barriers and a great, wise and benevolent connector,” said University of St. Michael’s College president David Mulroney.

In our own time the Aga Khan has been “one of our world’s most effective voices for moderation, mutual understanding and acceptance and human advancement,” said institute president Richard Alway.

The audience of about 700 Catholic and Ismaili community members at St. Basil’s Church included former Governor General Adrienne Clarkson and Calgary Mayor Neheed Nenshi.



No Muslims, no single people: Anyone who rents in Mumbai has to follow an unspoken code of conduct

Thu, May 26, 2016

On a recent visit to the country, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Adequate Housing made some pithy remarks about problems in our housing sector. Among other concerns, she spoke about the discrimination faced by marginalised groups in gaining access to housing, including Muslims. A study by a UN institute released last week also confirmed that Muslim applicants find it more difficult than others to rent a house in Delhi, Gurgaon and Noida.

As most of us who live in Mumbai know, this is old news. Every few months or so there emerge media reports about a Muslim person being denied an apartment in an affluent high-rise, or the tacit boundaries of “vegetarians-only” enclaves. That’s just the way things are, part of the urban design we have accepted, like the grills on our windows and the cars parked on the pavements.

As one half of a Muslim couple, I have accumulated my share of horror stories and ridiculous excuses. I have also encountered a few straight up “Sorry, no Muslims”, over the decade I have rented a house in this city. It is frustrating and humiliating, yet it is only part of the picture.

‘When you are Anyone’

A few years ago I was searching for a place for a visiting friend, who would stay in Mumbai for a month. I ended up accompanying a middle-aged couple on a tour of various tiny apartments scattered across the suburb of Andheri, in the area called Lokhandwala.

The couple leased out these rooms for a few weeks at a time, mostly to people who were in the city for medical treatments. Everyplace we went, the man walked while rattling an exceptionally large bunch of keys. One stop was at a large, newly-built complex that was only partly occupied, and already looked desolate. The elevators didn’t work, the water supply was erratic, the flower beds were baked dry and there were piles of gravel and building material still lying around the grounds.

In the foyer of the building, we saw three young men slouching past, wearing tight T-shirts that hugged their gym-toned bodies. They appeared to be aspiring actors, a common enough sight in this part of the city that houses several TV studios and film production offices. Their presence sparked a telling response from my guide, who eyed them with distaste. “People in this area are so greedy,” he said, shaking his fat bunch of keys. “They will rent to anyone." That is what renting in Mumbai makes you – an Anyone.

Always in the periphery

From my very first day in Mumbai, I have lived in this peculiar pocket of the city – the stretch of the western suburb of Andheri that is dense with people who moved to the city to work in the entertainment or media industry. Ten years ago, each time I stepped out onto the streets of my neighbourhood, I was surrounded by people on the make: Young actors hustling young directors, knots of men and women squatting at tea shops next to tony coffee chains, or occupying the steps leading upto malls till late at night.

Today, the bulk of this crowd (or their contemporary equivalents) seem to have moved away, perhaps to places like the desolate complex I saw. To rent a house in this way is to always exist on the edges, in more ways than one. It is to live in an apartment with a view (if there is a window) of something incomplete and under construction, to traverse metal sheets and gravel on your way home. It is to live with a brittle sense of temporariness – across agreements and contracts, across rent agreed upon every 11 months. It is to recognise the fraught nature of your own desirability as a tenant.

This reality may rise or fall depending on your income levels and markers like faith, marital status and caste. There are shades to this experience, just as there are different experiences in this massive city. But fundamentally, being a tenant from any of the less than optimum categories often means agreeing to be a wraith, to being less than a complete person.

At the end of my first year in Mumbai, I blithely decided to look for “a nicer place”. In the hair-raising process of house-hunting that followed, I trailed a broker to an apartment occupied by a young couple and their infant. The rooms were littered with their half-packed belongings. The broker told me to just step over their bags to examine the rooms. The family was being forced to move at short notice as their rent had been increased drastically. I left the house feeling absurdly but irrevocably guilty, complicit in their eviction, though I knew it could well happen to me one day.

The compulsion to exclude

When I moved to Mumbai I was in my 20s, working my first real job, and taking a casual interest in articles about the relative merits of renting vs buying. As real estate prices have moved higher and higher, this interest has become increasingly academic. Buying a house in Mumbai means many things besides the material fact of becoming a homeowner. It is a measure of success and settling in, a way of staking claim to the city, a welcome shift from the exhausting cycles of moving around, to stability.

For some, this ownership translates into a need to erect more barriers, as though to possess even a small part of this hotly contested city, you need to dispossess someone else. In a swish housing society of almost 200 apartments, I was told once, an overwhelming number of home owners had decided to bar unmarried men or women as potential tenants. Only a couple of people had protested this decision. Not because it was unfair, but because they lived abroad, and were fine with renting to Anyone.

As a writer working in these temporary spaces, it seems increasingly clear to me that there are hidden costs in the transaction of being a tenant.

Renting in Mumbai comes with a set of rules, a code of conduct. It involves a modulation of manner and tone, a need to make yourself appear non-threatening. It means speaking more carefully than you’d like, not complaining too much, ensuring that your presence, or the appearance of your family or guests does not cause discomfort to anyone in your building. (Too many burqas on the premises, I was once told, cause property rates to fall). It requires a daily negotiation as to the degree of inconvenience or injustice you are willing to absorb, for the continued luxury of living in a home at least partly of your choosing.

I once spoke a young Muslim man who had made his money in the Gulf and who wanted to invest in a flat in Mumbai, the city he called home. He told me about a colony he saw near where I live, a place with tidy gardens and freshly painted swings, and security guards and a walking track. “It seemed like a posh society but I saw ladies walking around in naqaabs (veils) so I thought ‘It seems to be open for us’,” he told me.

He contacted a broker who found an apartment, but the sale didn’t go through. “They didn’t want to sell to a Muslim”, he told me, and his voice held no resentment, not even curiosity. What had aroused his wonder was not being shut out, but the possibility that a place like this, marked by what he called poshness, could be open to people like him. I remember the note of surprise in his voice as he told me that; it’s as sharp as a shard in my memory. “Perhaps”, he continued, as an explanation to himself, “the people I saw were just renting.”



How Muslim political parties are helping the BJP win elections Source

Thu, May 26, 2016

The Assembly elections results announced recently have shocked many people. While election results in Kerala and West Bengal were on expected lines, the saffron win in Assam has been a shock. The BJP campaigned full throttle in the North Eastern state and cobbled together a very effective coalition.  The Congress that had escaped the anti-incumbency trend in the last Assembly elections in 2011 failed to read the writing on the wall and went solo. Tarun Gogoi had warmed the chief ministerial chair for fifteen years and there was a serious anti-incumbency factor against him. The Congress had also antagonised the Bodos while refusing any tie-up with perfume baron and cleric Badruddin Ajmal’s All India United Democratic Front (AIUDF). From 78 seats in the outgoing state assembly, Congress' tally was reduced to just 26 seats.  The BJP and its allies were victorious in as many as 86 seats, showing a groundswell of support from largely Hindu population in the state. Ajmal’s AIUDF has been relegated to the margins as it could win merely 13 seats. The drubbing was precipitated by the massive loss that Ajmal himself suffered. A little known Congress member from his own community beat him by a margin of more than 16000 votes. The Urdu media has been trying to decipher as to what went wrong. While the Congress is being attacked for its insensitive decisions, Ajmal and AIUDF are being held responsible for division of Muslim votes. Muslims make more than 30 percent population of the state. Muslim political parties divide secular votes A report in Hyderabad based Siasat says AIUDF was responsible for Congress’ loss in Assam, the same way Asaduddin Owaisi’s MIM destroyed the chance for Congress in Maharashtra.   The report says:  “Should Muslim organisations be representative of Indian Muslims? This question has perturbed political analysts for a very long time. Muslim organisations and leaders are worried about accusations that the All India United Democratic Front (AIUDF) was trying to indirectly help the BJP win election in Assam. This has finally proved right. It is being feared that AIUDF, following the footsteps of the local political party (Asaduddin Owaisi-led All India Majlis Ittehadul Muslimeen known as MIM) may do the BJP’s bidding in Assam. This seems that the apprehensions were right and BJP was able to win the election for the first time. BJP benefited immensely from the AIUDF dividing the secular votes in the biggest North Eastern state.   This is almost identical to what happened in Maharashtra some time ago. The MIM, that had decided to field the candidates in assembly election, couldn’t get even one percent of the total votes polled in Maharashtra despite contesting from 24 assembly constituencies.  The party was able to win two assembly seats. Nonetheless it immensely benefited the BJP and Shiv Sena as it helped the two saffron parties polarise the voters on religious grounds. The division of secular votes helped the BJP and Shiv Sena manage a thumping victory and led to the complete marginalisation of secular parties in one of most prosperous states in the country. If you analyse the latest win for the BJP in Assam you would realise that the division of secular votes helped the BJP win the state in a spectacular way. The combined vote share of the Congress Party and perfume baron Badruddin Ajmal’s AIUDF was higher than 44 percent of the total votes polled. On the other hand BJP got 30.1 percent of the total votes polled.  Congress polled higher percentage of votes compared to the BJP in the state despite losing the election. It got 31 percent votes and AIUDF 13 percent of the votes polled. BJP ally Asom Gana Parishad got 8.1 percent votes. It was being said even before the assembly election that if secular parties don’t unite, it would directly benefit the BJP. The local political party (MIM) had said it will not fight election there as Maulana Ajmal’s party is already there. Ajmal fought from 71 assembly seats and could win merely 11 seats while two seats were won by its allies.  Their fighting in so many seats directly helped the BJP in Assam, the same way MIM’s foray in Maharashtra assembly election benefited the BJP in last assembly election there. Now Muslim community leaders are finding out to their horror that political parties that claim to help the community are actually helping the saffron parties win elections in one state after the other."   Muslims no longer kingmakers Delhi-based Urdu daily Roznama Khabrein says the belief of Muslims being kingmaker has finally ended. The newspaper while analysing the results of election in Assam says: "We were used to beliefs that every party needs Muslim votes to win elections.  This was truer in states where Muslims had substantial presence. Nonetheless this was simply a myth and the BJP and its saffron alliance partners have broken it completely. The 2014 Lok Sabha election had proved that the Muslim votes have been relegated to margins. BJP’s win on 282 seats was clear signal that it was no longer true. Now the same experiment has been repeated in Assam by the BJP that had cobbled together an unbeatable alliance in the state with Mahanta’s Asom Gana Parishad (AGP) and Bodos.   The BJP has realised that by fragmenting Muslim votes, their chances improve substantially. This is the reason that it props up “Muslim parties” in different areas and cuts Muslim votes to size.   This was the reason that Lalu and Nitish Kumar’s Mahagadhbandhan in last year’s Bihar assembly election made it very clear to a Muslim clergy organisation Amarate Sharia not to announce its support for the.. It made it clear to the Muslim clergy that this will destroy their chances in crucial assembly election if they publicly announce the support to Lalu -Nitish Kumar alliance.  Muslims voted for the alliance surreptitiously (chori se vote dala). What can be more disheartening than the fact that in state like Uttar Pradesh where Muslims make around 17 percent of the population and are in large number in different parts of the state, their votes were made irrelevant by the BJP.”



Impressed with the ISIS? You might lose your passport

May 26, 2016

Indians impressed with ISIS could soon lose their passports, according to an exhaustive blueprint prepared by the government carrying several suggestions from Prime Minister Narendra Modi to tackle the threat.

PM Modi has taken a personal interest in devising the game plan that aims to keep pace with the rapidly evolving dynamics of the global jihadi group.

According to the draft of the new strategy paper on ISIS, or Islamic State, the PM wants a special team to work on the challenges of digital jihad. Intelligence agencies have failed to curb the growing online radicalisation of youth who are getting free access to the venomous ideology. The paper says close to 200 Indians are under watch. The PM has also suggested that experts be roped in to counter the menace in the virtual world. This core team could later involve counter-terror officials focusing on the cyberspace.

Passports revoked

With hundreds of individuals being monitored across the country, the government is considering the proposal to revoke passports of those marked as ISIS sympathisers. "This will ensure they cannot travel and be part of the terror group that is looking for recruits from across the globe. We don't want Indians to become poster boys for ISIS," said an officer.

The suggestion to revoke passports is significant as it comes on the heels of a video purportedly released by ISIS featuring many Indians, who joined the group, talking about taking revenge for the "atrocities" against Muslims in India.

"Youth between 17 and 25 years of age spend hours on the internet and this needs intervention with an effective counter radicalisation plan," the draft paper says.

India has the world's second-largest Muslim population at nearly 170 million but only a handful of them have joined the West Asian group.

Limited domain knowledge

Based on the PM's suggestions, the blueprint also says that many terror groups could be franchises working independently using the name of ISIS. The paper stresses on the need to understand the organisational structures of Islamic State that has successfully attracted youth from across the globe. Hundreds of young men and women from the Western world, including non-Muslims, became part of the outfit and are fighting in Syria.

Intelligence reports say 23 Indians joined ISIS. Six of them are dead while two have returned. There have been 49 arrests linked to ISIS across the country. While 25 were picked up by the NIA, states like Telangana, Maharashtra, Delhi, Tamil Nadu accounted for the other 24.

According to the paper, the biggest threat to national security is increased radicalisation through the Internet as agencies fail to keep a check on it because of several reasons, including limited domain knowledge on the subject.


Indian agencies have been tracking several youth lured by ISIS but arrests have only been made when someone crossed a threshold. With the threat of ISIS lurking, the Centre had put in place a counter-radicalisation strategy focusing on bringing the youth lured by Islamic State back to the mainstream.

Earlier this year, the National Investigation Agency (NIA) busted an ISIS-inspired terror module called Janood-ul-Khalifa-e-Hind, or the Army of Caliph in India, carrying out countrywide arrests.

Investigations have also revealed that the group was making efforts to establish a channel to procure explosives and weapons, identify locations to organise terror training camps and motivate new recruits to target police officers and foreigners as part of terrorist activities in various parts of the country.

The NIA said those arrested were communicating with some active members through chat applications in order to motivate them to join ISIS.



Ayodhya: Bajrang Dal leader arrested over holding weapons training camp

Days after a video purportedly showing Bajrang Dal volunteers receiving weapons training in Ayodhya went viral, Faizabad police Wednesday arrested Mahesh Mishra, convenor of the outfit’s Faizabad and Ayodhya units. Mishra has been charged with hurting religious sentiments of Muslims and spreading communal hatred.

The arrest comes after an FIR against unidentified Bajrang Dal workers was lodged at Ayodhya police station late on Tuesday night.

On May 14, a ‘self-defence’ camp was organised at Karsevakpuram, the VHP workshop in Ayodhya. In the video that went viral Monday, volunteers wearing skull caps were reportedly seen brandishing firearm, swords and lathis.

Faizabad DIG V K Garg has confirmed that Mishra has been arrested.

The complainant in the case is sub-inspector Shri Niwas Pandey, in-charge of Naya Ghat police outpost in Ayodhya police station area. The FIR has been filed at Ayodhya police station under IPC section 153-A (promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion and doing acts prejudicial to maintenance of harmony). Station House Officer, Ayodhya police station, Rajeev Singh said, “As per the FIR, some volunteers in the training camp were depicted as Muslim terrorists while others were presented as Hindu youths of Bharti Sena. The investigating officer would approach media houses to obtain the video. We would start the process of identifying people at the event once we receive the video.”

Bajrang Dal’s Awadh area convenor Rakesh Verma refused to comment on the FIR and said law would take its own course. Uttar Pradesh Governor Ram Naik had Tuesday maintained that there was nothing wrong in self-defence training imparted by any school or institution. Stating that it is important to understand the intention behind imparting such training, he had told mediapersons that self-defence is necessary and every citizen should be trained.



PM Modi declines to comment on Donald Trump's Muslim ban proposal

26 May 2016

New Delhi: Even as many world leaders have unequivocally condemned US presidential hopeful Donald Trump's proposal to temporary ban on Muslims foreigners from entering the United States, Prime Minister Narendra Modi chose not to comment on the issue.

During an interview with Wall Street Journal, when Modi was asked how would he react to Donald Trump's proposal of banning Muslims from US, the Indian Prime Minsiter declined to comment.

“These are issues of debate in the election. A government shouldn’t respond to that,” he said. “As a part of the election debate many things will be said there, who ate what, who drank what, how can I respond to everything?” he told the daily.

British Prime Minister David Cameron, US president Barack Obama, French Prime Minister Manuel Valls and German Chancellor Angela Merkel have slammed the billionaire businessman for his disparaging comments.

India has more than 170 million Muslims, who account for 14% of the country’s population.

PM Modi also identified defence as India's biggest job spinner and said India certainly wanted to go ahead with manufacturing “because we have a lot of defence imports”.

"If I look at it from an economic point of view and to provide jobs to my country’s young peope, the defence-manufacturing sector can provide maximum number of jobs to my country’s youth,” he told WSJ.

India is the world’s largest importer of arms, accounting for 14% of global purchases.

In the “relationship between China and the U.S., there are areas where they have substantial differences but there are also areas where they work closely,” Mr. Modi said.

“This is the new way. If we want to ensure the success of this interdependent world, I think countries need to cooperate, but at the same time we also need to ensure that there is respect for international norms and international rules.”



Tehelka slams Arnab Goswami for calling its Muslim journo a cover for Indian Mujahideen

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Arnab Goswami, the editor-in-chief of Times Now on Wednesday night triggered off massive online protests after he called a fellow journalist on his program 'The Newshour' a "cover" for terror outfit Indian Mujahideen.

According to reports, a debate was held on Times Now after an ISIS video surfaced featuring an alleged Batla House encounter terrorist who managed to escape.

During the debate, Asad Ashraf, a journalist with Tehelka questioned certain loopholes in the police's version and claimed that the encounter could be fake.

Following this, Arnab called him a "cover for Indian Mujahideen," which can be seen at the 10:30 mark in this video.

However, Arnab has been criticized for the statement with Tehelka condemning it and stating that:

Tehelka as an organization stands firmly by the side of Asad Ashraf who was merely pin pointing at the loopholes in police version of Batla house encounter, without giving clean chit to any of the alleged ‘terrorists’ killed in that encounter. As a journalist, Asad has all the rights to investigate into matters and question official version and narrative propounded by the state machinery.

Abdul Wasey, the associate editor of the magazine added that, "I know Asad for quite from sometime. He is very impartial and professional journalist. He bases his reports on facts. Arnab must apologize for his irresponsible remark and start behaving in the future. He also needs to improve his tone, especially when he is on air. Is this the way the self-appointed voice of India should address his guest? Shame!”

In a blog for JanataKaReporter, Ashraf writes:

Arnab did not show the slightest of hesitation in calling me a cover for Indian Mujahideen, just because I could muster courage to point out the loopholes in the Batla House encounter. Of course I did so without proclaiming innocence for any of them killed in the encounter, as I believe it was the duty of the judiciary to decide the same. But I had forgotten one important fact; In Arnab Goswami’s ‘court’, he is the sole judge and prosecutor.

He also added that "it was a first-hand experience of how ridiculous Arnab and his panelists could be," for him. "They can stoop down to any level to implicate Muslims into their narrative of terrorism."

Ashraf also took to his Facebook page and wrote "I am not taking it easily, I am going to take all legal recourse against Arnab for calling me a 'sympathizer' of a barbaric organization like ISIS."

He later wrote:

With the kind of support , that has poured in for me from all sections of the society cutting across religious and ideological boundaries, I can proudly claim once again that I live in a country called India.



Muslims vacant land for PM Modi’s rally

May 26, 2016

Lucknow: Uttar Pradesh Muslims has given a perfect example of PM Modi’s ‘sabka saath, sabka vikas’ call.

A large portion of the rally site belongs to Muslims hailing from the minority-dominated Chunati Gada village.

The 8-bigha land reserved for madrassa has been left vacant for the PM Modi who will address a rally in Uttar Pradesh’s Saharanpur to mark the second anniversary of the government.

The land being used presently by a Muslim tenant Raees who harvested his sugarcane yield before time on the 8-bigha land to allow BJP to make use of the land for the rally, as per Times of India reports.

Like Raees, Munawar too has given 12-bigha land for construction of a temporary helipad for the PM’s copter next to the rally ground.

Though Muslims in the area don’t particularly support the BJP but have agreed to host Modi’s rally on their lands.

They are excited to have the PM in their area. “He is our Prime Minister. And we are happy that our PM is going to arrive on our land. “It’s an honour for villagers of Chinheti Garda,” said Munawar Ali, a resident.

Echoing the sentiments of the residents, village pradhan Raheema’s husband Mohammad Farhad admitted there might be ideological differences with the party and Modi, but this is about the country’s PM.

“Desh ka raja hamaare gaaon aa raha hai…uske swagat ke liye hum apni zameen bhi nahin khaali karenge (the king of the nation is coming to our village…are we not going to vacate our land for his welcome),” said Farhad.

“The district magistrate has assured some of the villagers compensation if there is any crop loss, but they have refused the same” said Farhad.

Like Munawwar and Raees, there are over 24 Muslims who have whole-kindheartedly given their land for preparation of the rally.

“It’s a perfect example of Prime Minister Narendra Modi government’s ‘sabka saath, sabka vikas’ call,” said BJP spokesman Dr Chandramohan.


Southeast Asia

Malaysian govt helps fast track Islamist party's push for hudud

Thu 26 May 2016

KUALA LUMPUR: The Malaysian government has helped the Islamist Parti Islam Se-Malaysia (PAS) fast track proposed legal amendments that could pave the way for an Islamic criminal code in Kelantan.

On Thursday (May 26), the final day of this parliament session, Malaysian Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Azalina Othman Said proposed a motion to bring forward the reading of PAS president Hadi Awang's Private Member's Bill, which had appeared in order papers several times before but never made it into parliament.

If not for Ms Azalina, Mr Hadi's motion would have remained at the 15th and final motion - possibly not being heard this session at all.

Malaysia practices a dual-track legal system, where certain cases involving Muslims, such as family disputes, are dealt with by Islamic courts. However, Mr Hadi's bill could empower shariah courts to dole out punishments under Islamic law such as stoning and amputations for criminal cases which currently fall under the secular Penal Code.

This would then pave the way for an Islamic criminal code in Kelantan for Muslims.

The push to implement "hudud" law has been a divisive topic in Malaysia, which has prided itself on being a moderate Muslim-majority nation.

Ruling coalition Barisan Nasional's component parties, including the Malaysian Chinese Association (MCA) and the Malaysian Indian Congress, have vocally opposed the implementation of hudud law while the former opposition coalition Pakatan Rakyat fell apart last year largely because of disagreements between Chinese-majority DAP and PAS over its hudud push.

Mr Hadi's bill still requires further readings and debates if it were to become law - something even members of Barisan Nasional are grateful for.

"I can only say that I was also taken by a surprise that a private member's bill was going to be introduced," said Sabahan Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Joseph Kurup, when asked for comment by Channel NewsAsia.

"We should be allowed to study it first and I thank parliament for postponing this to allow us to study it."

The chairperson of MCA's women wing, Heng Seai Kie, told Channel NewsAsia she was "shocked" by the bill's reading.

"Yesterday during our presidential council meeting, during our discussions, we have unanimously agreed that we can't - MCA rejects the tabling of this private bill by Hadi Awang today," she said outside parliament.

Opposition MPs are worried that this could be just the beginning of attempts to erode the federal constitution.

“This is nothing against Islam or the Shariah, what we're looking at is the Constitution," DAP secretary-general Lim Guan Eng told reporters at parliament. "So when the constitution is affected, there's only a matter of time before we have a dual system."

Some have also criticised Barisan Nasional for helping PAS fast track this bill, accusing it of doing this for political expediency.

Two by-elections are coming up in June. In the past general elections, PAS fielded candidates for the opposition in both seats and was a strong contender against Barisan Nasional.

However, the opposition coalition PAS contested under, Pakatan Rakyat, no longer exists. BN has adopted a more friendly stance toward PAS ever since, with Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak even extending an olive branch to the Islamist party at UMNO's last annual general assembly.



Alcohol in Indonesia: Beer Available again in Jakarta's Minimarts?

25 May 2016

Good news for those who love beer and live in Jakarta. About one year after Indonesia announced it had banned sales of alcoholic beverages in minimarkets and kiosks - a move conducted to "protect the morals and culture of Indonesian society" - Jakarta Governor Basuki Purnama Tjahja (Ahok) said alcoholic beverages with alcohol content up to five percent (which includes beer) will again be available in the capital city's minimarkets, the small retailers that have mushroomed across the city streets.

However, the ban (stipulated by Trade Regulation No. 06/M-DAG/PER/1/2015 on the Control and Supervision of Procurement, Distribution, and Sale of Alcoholic Beverages) remains in place in all other parts of the country, Indonesian Trade Minister Thomas Lembong confirmed. In April 2015 the Indonesian government implemented the ban on sales of alcoholic beverages in all minimarkets and kiosks. As these small retailers have mushroomed across Indonesia's urban regions, it had become very easy - including for schoolchildren - to purchase a light alcoholic beverage. However, in the larger (and licensed) supermarkets and hypermarkets alcoholic drinks remained available. However, the number of these larger supermarkets is limited, hence it became much more difficult to purchase alcoholic beverages or - if consumed in restaurants, hotels or cafes - it became much more expensive.

Obviously, the nation's beer brewers such as Multi Bintang Indonesia and Delta Djakarta objected to the ban as it would limit companies' sales of light alcoholic drinks. Therefore, they started to adjust their corporate strategies and started to focus more on alcohol-free beer.

In the predominantly Muslim country consumption of alcohol is generally regarded a negative matter (in Islamic doctrine the consumption of intoxicants, which includes alcohol, is basically forbidden, or haram). However, consumption of beer had actually risen in the years prior to the ban, particularly in the urban areas (increasingly becoming part of the modern urban lifestyle). This is also possible because there are millions of nominal Muslims in Indonesia (who do not strictly follow Islamic principles).

If beer will indeed return in the shelves of the minimarts across Jakarta, then it would be a major setback for the beer delivery service. Several creative youngsters opened beer delivery services after the ban on sales of alcohol in minimarts was implemented in April 2015. These delivery services, engaging in deals with local beer distributors, bring beer and other alcoholic drinks to the consumer either by using their own means of transportation (usually a motorcycle) or - if the service does not have a fleet of motorcycles - it uses the service provided by Go-Jek, a motorcycle taxi ordered through an online application on the smartphone.



Malaysia recognised for heading global halal standards

May 26, 2016,Thursday

ISTANBUL: Malaysia, which is recognised for spearheading global halal standards, has scored another first as it has been invited to join the board of directors of the Standards and Metrology Institute for Islamic Countries (SMIIC).

SMIIC is an affiliated institution of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) which assumes an important role in harmonising standards among OIC countries especially those related to halal standards.

Director-General, Department of Standards Malaysia, Datuk Fadilah Baharin said Malaysia’s involvement in the board was viewed as very important in assisting OIC countries in the harmonisation proces.

“Malaysia has been invited to be part of the board which will formulate the direction for OIC countries in terms of standards especially halal standards.

“With Malaysia’s involvement, we will have a louder voice and unanimous support from other OIC member countries especially in pioneering the standards harmonisation process,” she told Bernama here on Tuesday.

Among OIC countries, only 13 countries are represented on the SMIIC board including Turkey, United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia.

The selection of board members is based on a consensus among them.

Malaysia now enjoys observer status only after being a member of SMIIC for two years.

“Our agenda is to provide exposure and training using our expertise.

“We can assimi late halal standards in OIC countries and via SMIIC, Malaysia can contribute towards enhancing the capability of these countries.

“We (Department of Standards) and the Malaysian Islamic Development Department (JAKIM) will collaborate to realise this objective. We hope to sit in the SMIIC board by year-end,” said Fadilah.

Meanwhile, JAKIM Halal Hub Division Director Dr Sirajuddin Suhaimee said Malaysia has been known, for years, for being at the forefront of several halal initiatives.

“Only we have 13 halal-related standards and they are used as a guide by the industry and halal certifying organisations in Malaysia l ike the state Islamic Religious Council and international bodies,” he added. — Bernama



British special forces 'blew up Isis suicide truck in Libya'

May 26, 2016,Thursday

British special forces reportedly blew up an Islamic State suicide truck in Libya earlier this month, a military commander there has said.

The strike apparently came when a vehicle, acting as a bomb, approached a bridge leading towards the city of Misrata in the north-west of the country.

UK forces appeared ready for the attack and fired a single missile during the incident on 12 May, Commander Mohammed Durat told the Times.

Describing the scene as the truck sped forward he said: “Our British friends seemed quite calm about it that day.”

Durat, of Misrata’s Third Force, said the special forces had plotted the coordinates and ranges required for a successful strike, telling the paper: “It blew up the suicide truck with a huge explosion, the biggest we have seen yet. Not one of our own forces was killed.”

A spokesman for the Ministry of Defence said they do not comment on special forces operations.

Last month a spokesman for the Foreign Office said the UK is focused on training Libyan security forces to provide their own security, and has no plans to deploy ground troops.

Earlier this year United Nations experts said they believe the political and security vacuum in Libya is being exploited by Isis, reporting it has “significantly expanded” the territory it controls in the nation and become “increasingly attractive to foreign fighters”.

Middle East minister Tobias Ellwood said the current estimate of the number of Isis fighters in Libya is between 3,000 and 6,000.



Kenya says arrested two suspects with Islamic State links; may have been planning attack

May 26, 2016,Thursday

The suspects planned to flee to either Syria or Libya after carrying out attacks on the public transport system, according to the interior ministry.

ENYAN police arrested two people with links to Islamic State suspected of planning terror attacks in the East African nation, the Interior Ministry said.

Investigations into the network linked to IS attack planner Mohamed Abdi Ali led the police to arrest the two on May 24, the ministry said late Wednesday in a statement on its Twitter account.

During the operation at a home in a suburb of Kenya’s capital, Nairobi, police recovered materials that were to be used to manufacture an improvised explosive device, it said.

The suspects planned to flee to either Syria or Libya after carrying out attacks targeting the public transport system, according to the statement.



Africa needs opportunities and partnerships not sympathy - Mahama

May 26, 2016,Thursday

President John Dramani Mahama says Africa rising from violence and dictatorship to a peaceful democracy with its economy transforming.

African he indicated is also rising from poverty and misery with hope and improved living standards.

This was contained in a statement issued by President Mahama as Africa commemorate the African Union (AU) day celebration.

President Mahama in his message said although Africa has gained strides in resolving the challenges in the continent, there remains much more work to done.

Africa he added, do not need sympathy but opportunities and partnerships.

"Of course, things are far from perfect in Africa, and we still have a long way to go, especially when it comes to sustainable solutions for our youth. However, our voice is now stronger and more respected in the world. We no longer need sympathy – we need fair partnerships and opportunities".

Below is the full statement from President Mahama

My brothers and sisters, today we celebrate Mother Africa.

Over the last decade, African countries, like our beloved Ghana, have been working to improve further our democratic credentials and economic prospects.

I am happy that Ghana continues to lead this effort and is impacting our subregion and the continent.

This in itself is ensuring a powerful and positive impact on the wellbeing of millions and millions of people. Africa is rising, there is no question about that.

We are rising from violence and dictatorship to peace and democracy; we are transforming our economies from those based on the export of raw materials to modern ones, able to produce value added goods and services; we are rising from misery and absolute poverty to a place of hope and improved standards of living.

The African middle class is the fastest growing middle class in the world today. Of course, things are far from perfect in Africa, and we still have a long way to go, especially when it comes to sustainable solutions for our youth.

However, our voice is now stronger and more respected in the world. We no longer need sympathy – we need fair partnerships and opportunities.

Let us all continue on this path of transformation. Let us all keep working hard for a better future for our generation and the generations yet to come.

Let us all unite in our common prayer for a more open and inclusive Africa, where everyone would live a dignified and meaningful life.

May God bless Mother Africa, our forebears and all our brothers and sisters!



Nationalists, religious groups to protest CPEC land purchase

May 26, 2016

PESHAWAR: Strongly reacting to imposition of Section-4 of the Land Acquisition Act for acquiring land for the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, nationalists and religious groups have announced they will launch a protest movement to force the federal government to withdraw its decision of purchasing land for the mega project.

This was announced during a joint news conference at the Peshawar Press Club on Wednesday.

Noted among the speakers were Pakhtunkhwa Olasi Tehreek chairman Dr Said Alam Mehsud, ANP-Wali provincial president Fareed Toofan, Awami Workers Party leader Fanoos Gujar and Tehreek Soba Hazara chief Baba Haider Zaman.

They said they would announce the schedule of rallies and public meetings soon to mobilise the people to pressure the government to grant KP and Fata due rights in the project.

Say people will be mobilised for KP, Fata rights in project

They also announced the formation of a ‘supreme council’ to supervise the protest movement against the acquisition of land for CPEC between Thakot and Havelian and also in Dera Ismail Khan, where Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif recently inaugurated the project’s groundbreaking.

Dr Said Alam Mehsud complained the federal government was in no way ready to accept Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s demand for grant of rights.

He said the protest movement did not mean to raise voice only for Khyber Pakhtunkhwa or Balochistan but also for Gilgit-Baltistan, Hazara, Fata and other disadvantaged areas.

Dr Said Alam said the already neglected and underdeveloped areas were deliberately deprived of the CPEC project’s benefits.

“The federal government, especially federal minister for planning and development Ahsan Iqbal, deceived the participants of multi-party conferences on different occasions by concealing truth about the changes to the original CPEC project.

“The nation will learn about double standard of the federal government if the minutes of all five meetings of the joint coordination committee are made public,” he said.

The Pakhtunkhwa Olashi Tehreek chief said the Planning Commission of Pakistan was incompetent to deal with the mega plans like the CPEC as it had no experience to launch heavy projects and suggested constitution of ‘corridor authority’ to have representation from all provinces, Fata and Gilgit-Baltistan.

He stressed the need for conducting environmental study for the project in Gilgit-Baltistan and Hazara wherein the greenery will be adversely affected due to the CPEC project because 5,000 vehicles will use the route daily.

He said regular supply of natural gas and smooth supply of electricity to the forest cover areas was also a must to ensure protection to forests.

Tehreek Soba Hazara chief Baba Haider Zaman said his organisation was determined to fight for their rights of neglected people, whether they belonged to Hazara division or other areas.

He also appealed to the people to take to the streets for their due rights.

Awami Workers Party chief Fanoos Gujjar urged the people to take a unified stand, come onto the roads for due rights.

He said the people should take the matter seriously to ensure bright future of coming generations.

ANP-Wali leader Farid Taufan said the alliance was meant to ‘snatch’ the province’s rights in the CPEC project from the federal government.

He said the federal government wanted to provide developmental schemes to Punjab only.

Zubair Anjam of the JUI-Nazriyati said his party would never accept ‘Punjabistan’ and join hands with other parties against the federal government over denial of KP’s share in the CPEC project.



PHC suspends death sentence of military court’s convict

May 26, 2016

PESHAWAR: A Peshawar High Court bench on Wednesday stayed execution of a convicted militant and suspended the sentence of death awarded to him by a military court on multiple charges of terrorism.

Chief Justice Mazhar Alam Miankhel and Justice Ikramullah Khan issued notice to the ministry of defence directing it to submit records of the case.

They also put on notice the relevant additional attorney general asking him to appear before the court on next hearing. The bench later fixed June 22 for next hearing of a writ petition filed by one Alam Khan, whose brother Mohammad Umar, was convicted by the military court and he was declared a member of the banned militant group, Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan.

The ISPR, media wing of Pakistan Army, had on May 3, 2016, announced that the Chief of Army Staff had confirmed death sentences awarded to 11hardcore terrorists by the military courts. Name of the present convict Mohammad Umer was also included in that list.

About Mohammad Umar, the ISPR had stated: “The convict was an active member of Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan. He was involved in attacking Armed Forces of Pakistan and Law Enforcement Agencies which resulted in death of soldiers and injuries to police officials. He was also involved in fabrication of explosives. He admitted his offences before the Magistrate and the trial court. He was tried on 3 charges and awarded death sentence.”

Barrister Ameerullah Khan Chamkani appeared for the petitioner and contended that detainee Mohammad Umar was a resident of Battagram district and was taken into custody by the law enforcing agencies from Mansehra on Aug 10, 2014.

He contended that the 23-year old detainee had remained missing for almost two years and finally on May 4 his family members came to know about his conviction by the military court through media reports.

He argued that the detainee was not provided a fair trial and the proceedings, if any, of the military court shrouded in mystery. He added that the family members of the detainee believed that he neither was a member of TTP nor was involved in any act of terrorism.

The petitioner has requested the court that the proceedings of the military court, if any, on the basis of which his brother had been convicted and sentenced to death, may be declared void, illegal and without lawful authority. He stated that so called trial was an infringement upon several rights of the detainee guaranteed under several provisions of the Constitution of Pakistan.

CONTEMPT NOTICE ISSUED: The bench issued a contempt of court notice to prominent lawyer and columnist Babar Sattar for publishing a column in an English newspaper wherein appointments of additional district and sessions judges by the high court were criticised.

The bench directed Mr. Babar Sattar, who was present before the bench in connection with another case, to file a written reply to the notice within 15 days.

Mr. Sattar had published a column “In the name of justice?” in Feb this year in which the procedure adopted for appointment of 25 additional district and sessions judges in KP was criticised.

The bench inquired from him from where he had acquired the information given in the said piece.

Mr. Sattar said he had acquired the information from the website of the Peshawar High Court.

When the bench directed him to submit reply to the notice, Mr. Sattar asked whether it was a contempt of court notice to which the chief justice replied in affirmative.



Man Arrested For Allegedly Posting “Blasphemous” Text on Social Media

May 26, 2016

LAHORE: Sheikhupura police on Wednesday arrested a man for allegedly posting “blasphemous” text on social media.

District Police Officer (DPO) Sarfraz Khan Virk told Dawn that some residents of Nabipura locality lodged a complaint with the Factory Area police station against the suspect, alleging he had posted blasphemous text on a social networking website.

He said police registered a case under the blasphemy law against the suspect who was later arrested.

Initial investigations showed that the blasphemous messages were posted last year by another man, who was now living abroad, the DPO said.

No complaint was filed against the man living abroad, he added.

The DPO said the social media account through which the blasphemous text was posted had been dormant for the last eight to nine months. He said detailed investigation was continuing to verify the account details.

According to sources, police were also looking into a dispute over teasing of girls following which the complaint against the suspect was lodged.



Drone attack result of govt’s failed foreign policy: Imran

May 26, 2016

BATTAGRAM: Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf chairman Imran Khan on Wednesday termed the recent US drone attack in Balochistan a clear violation of Pakistan’s autonomy and detrimental to the Pak-US relationship, saying it was the result of failed foreign policy of Nawaz Sharif government.

The PTI chief said this at the inaugural ceremony of three micro hydel power projects of 305 kilowatts at Shamlai union council of Battagram district here. Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Minister for Energy and Power Mohammad Atif Khan was also present on this occasion.

He said that wars could not be won through drone attacks, adding if it was like this then America would have won this war so far.

About Panama leaks, he said that Mr Sharif had no justification to cling to the prime minister’s office as his name among eight heads of state was included in the Panama Papers. He said that Mr Sharif had kept mum over the allegations levelled against him and his family so far.

Inaugurates three micro power projects in Battagram

He alleged that those politicians who were supporting Mr Sharif in hiding his corruption had been bought.

Earlier, minister Atif Khan along with the PTI chairman formally inaugurated 305kW three hydel projects, including 200kW Bela Bala, 75kW Shagai and 30kW Beesa Khait.

The ceremony beside others was also attended by energy and power secretary Naeem Khan, PEDO Board chairman Shakil Durrani, Battagram district nazim Attaur Rahman and notables of the area in a large number.

The upgradation of a local high school to higher secondary school and construction of a sports stadium in Shamlai was also announced.

The PTI chief said on this occasion that work on 356 micro hydel projects costing Rs5.524 billion in 12 different districts of the province was underway with the community partnership. He said that of these projects 37 had been constructed while the remaining would be completed by end of 2017.

He said that the number of such hydel projects would be enhanced to 1,000 with the support of the Asian Development Bank to overcome the shortage of electricity. He said that a new power policy 2016 had been approved for making full utilisation of hydel power in the larger interest of the province and its people.

Provincial minister Atif Khan said on the occasion that presently work on six power projects of 214MW was in progress of which three projects would start generation of 56MW electricity this year which would be provided to industrial estates for economic growth and eradication of poverty and unemployment in the province.

In order to attract domestic as well as foreign investment in the province, six hydel power projects in private sector had already been advertised, he said.

The minister asserted that PEDO had also a plan of solar panels installation in 5,650 houses and provision of solar power to 200 villages of the province. He said that poverty and unemployment was the basic issue of the province and it could not be resolved without industrialisation.



Ahmadi man gunned down in Karachi

May 26, 2016

KARACHI: A member of the Jamaat Ahmadiyya was gunned down in a suspected targeted attack in the Metroville-II area early on Wednesday morning, according to Mubina Town police and party officials.

Dawood Ahmad, 55, was sitting outside his home with a friend, Shamsher, because of an electricity breakdown in the area, when two gunmen on a motorcycle opened fire on them as they rode by, said Gulshan SP Dr Fahad Ahmed.

The victim sustained five bullet wounds to different parts of the body and was taken to a private hospital, where he succumbed to injuries during treatment. Shamsher was hit in the leg and was in a stable condition. “It appeared to be an incident of targeted killing,” said the SP.

“Dawood Ahmed was targeted on account of religious hatred. Thirty Ahmadis have been killed in Karachi and not a single murderer has been brought to justice till now, making extremist elements feel encouraged,” said Saleemuddin, a spokesman for the Jamaat Ahmadiyya in a statement.

He said that certain elements were involved in baseless propaganda against the Ahmadis, which he believed was a ‘basic reason’ for such grievous incidents.

The spokesman said the government had announced that action would be taken against hate promoters under the National Action Plan but the elements who promoted hate against Ahmadis were not only free but were busy spreading their hateful propaganda openly and without any fear. He demanded arrest of the culprits.



Israel forming civil defense units in preparation for possible conflict with Hezbollah


ense units throughout northern Israel to assist in any future conflict between Israel and Hezbollah, Col Eren Makov, the Northern Regional Commander of the Homefront Command told The Media Line in an interview.

“There is a big change in the Arab population in Israel in that they are much more willing to cooperate with us,” Makov said. “We give them training in what to do and they see it as a contribution.”

Makov said that more than half of the residents of northern Israel are Arab citizens of Israel, and are under the same missile threat from Hezbollah as Jewish citizens of Israel. While the vast majority of Arab citizens of Israel do not serve in the Israeli army, he said these civil defense units are not part of the army but of the Home Front Command and, for example, volunteers do not wear uniforms.

The idea is to train them in both disaster relief and working with the population. After earthquakes, Makov said, 25 percent of those saved are rescued in the first hour, often by their neighbors. A similar situation would probably be in force if Hezbollah, which is believed to have more than 100,000 rockets aimed at Israel, scored direct hits on buildings in residential areas.

Israel is not on the verge of a war with Hezbollah, Israeli analysts and military officials say. Hezbollah is bogged down in the civil war in Syria and has lost thousands of fighters defending Syrian President Bashar Assad against rebel groups and Islamic State. On one hand, it means that Hezbollah is not looking for another conflict in the near future. In fact, after senior Hezbollah official Mustafa Baddredine was assassinated recently, officials quickly moved to say they do not believe Israel is responsible. At the same time, Hezbollah is developing new fighting skills that could be used against Israel.

“When you count the rockets they have, they are as strong as they were before the eruption of civil war in Syria. (But) when you speak about morale, it’s not very high… they’ve suffered many casualties,” Eyal Zisser, a professor at Tel Aviv University and an expert on Hezbollah told The Media Line. Added to this is the financial burden the organization is shouldering, the professor explained.

Israel is also carefully watching the Golan Heights, which Israel acquired in 1967 and later annexed, along the border with Syria. So far, military officials say, the fighting has not spilled over in any significant way. But that could easily change.

“The Golan Heights is very sensitive and unstable,” a senior military official told The Media Line. “There are a lot of actors involved in the conflict there (Syria). We believe they understand that they will pay a big price if they get involved with Israel.”

Deterrence is one way to lessen the chances of a conflict along Israel’s northern border. Another is preparation, he said. In 2006, Israel and Hezbollah fought a 34-day war that left at least 1200 Lebanese and 165 Israelis dead. An estimated one million Lebanese and up to 500,000 Israelis fled the area of the conflict, and Israel inflicted heavy damage on south Lebanon.

In any new conflict, the senior military official says, it is the Home Front Command that will decide whether Israelis should stay or be evacuated. For the past 25 years, any new homes build in Israel must have a reinforced room that can withstand a missile attack. Older buildings are supposed to have communal shelters, although some are in disrepair. Military officials do not rule out evacuating part of the population if needed.

“We are not afraid to evacuate the population – especially close to the border,” the official said. “But we will decide who should leave. Our main message is that anyone who doesn’t get an order to evacuate should stay and understand that his home is the safest place for him.”



Turkey 'threats' over migrant deal won't work: Juncker


Turkey must uphold its side of a deal made with the European Union over stemming the flow of migrants, a top EU official said May 26, warning "threats" against the bloc will not work.

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said Ankara must ease strict anti-terror laws if it wants its citizens to enjoy visa-free travel on the continent.

Juncker was speaking after President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on May 24 warned the European Union his parliament would block laws related to the landmark deal if it didn't get its way on visa liberalisation.

"We do expect that Turkey will stick to its commitments -- and threats are not the best diplomatic instrument you can use," Juncker told reporters in Ise-Shima, where he is attending the G7 summit.

"So one should stop to use them, because they will produce no effect whatsoever."   

German Chancellor Angela Merkel warned after talks with Erdoğan on May 23 that the target of an end-June implementation was unlikely to be met.

The agreement saw Turkey pledge to work to stop migrants crossing the Aegean to Europe and also readmit migrants who had crossed illegally.

EU officials hailed the success of the deal, but Ankara has grown increasingly uneasy about the bloc's wariness to grant it the visa-free travel to the passport free Schengen area it was offered in return.

"If that (the visa exemption) is not what will happen... no decision and no law in the framework of the readmission agreement will come out of the parliament of the Turkish Republic," Erdoğan said at the close of the World Humanitarian Summit in Istanbul this week.

“Our foreign ministry, our EU affairs ministry will have discussions with the Europeans. If there is a result then great. If not, then I'm sorry."

Erdoğan also complained about the EU's wariness in handing over to Turkey a promised three billion euros followed by another three billion to help Syrian refugees.

EU leaders are insisting that Turkey abides by 72 conditions before the visa exemption takes place, with a demand to change counter-terror laws proving particularly contentious.



Palestine: Israeli rights group gives up on military legal system


JERUSALEM (AA) – Israel’s most prominent human rights group said it has given up on referring alleged abuses by Israeli soldiers to the military legal system, accusing it of being a “whitewash” for the Israeli occupation.

A report released by B’Tselem on Wednesday said that after 25 years of referring cases in which Israeli soldiers have harmed Palestinians, it will no longer do so.

The rights group said that, even though the system operating in the occupied West Bank was already restricted because it is focused on individual soldiers rather than those who issue orders, “it makes no attempt to fulfill even this limited mandate”.

The group said that from more than 700 cases B’Tselem brought to the attention of the Military Advocate-General since the second Intifada began in 2000, there were only 25 instances of soldiers being charged.

“Since the second intifada began in late 2000, B’Tselem has demanded an investigation in 739 cases in which soldiers killed, injured, or beat Palestinians,used them as human shields, or damaged Palestinian property.

An analysis of the responses B’Tselem received as to how the military law enforcement system handled these 739 cases shows that in a quarter (182) no investigation was ever launched, in nearly half (343), the investigation was closed with no further action, and only in very rare instances (25), were charges brought against the implicated soldiers. Another thirteen cases were referred for disciplinary action. A total of 132 cases are still at various processing stages, and the MAG Corps was unable to locate 44 others”, reports B’Tselem.

“This is the system that officials bring as proof – to Israel and the world – of their claim that the military does everything in its power to investigate complaints against soldiers responsible for harming Palestinians and to prosecute the offenders,” the group said.

“B’Tselem’s cooperation with the military investigation and enforcement systems has not achieved justice, instead lending legitimacy to the occupation regime and aiding to whitewash it,” the statement added.

In response, the Israeli army criticized B’Tselem’s report, saying it is “biased and does not reflect on reality”.

“The IDF (Israeli army) thoroughly checks and investigates any and all claims of misconduct, including those from ‘B’tselem’ and many other organizations and will continue to act transparently in order to arrive at the truth,” the Israeli army said in a statement emailed to Anadolu Agency.

In late March, a B’Tselem volunteer filmed Israeli soldier Elor Azaria killing a Palestinian who had already been injured and was, at the time, unarmed, after an alleged stabbing attempt in the occupied West Bank city of Hebron.

The video led to manslaughter charges being brought against Azaria and a public debate over the behavior of Israeli soldiers.



Palestine: Israeli army arrests 26 Palestinians in overnight raids


RAMALLAH, (AA): The Israeli army detained 26 Palestinians in overnight raids in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, a Palestinian NGO said on Wednesday.

“Israeli army forces detained 11 Palestinians after raiding their homes near Salfit city in the northern West Bank,” Qadora Faris, head of the Palestinian Prisoners Society, told Anadolu Agency.

“Nine other Palestinians were arrested from the central and southern West Bank cities of Ramallah, Betlehem and al-Khalil (Hebron),” he added.

According to Faris, the Israeli army also arrested six Palestinians from occupied East Jerusalem.

The Israeli army frequently carries out sweeping arrest campaigns targeting “wanted” Palestinians in the West Bank and East Jerusalem.

Currently, over 7,000 Palestinians are languishing in prisons throughout Israel, according to the Palestinian Ministry of Prisoners’ Affairs.



Turkey corruption allegations included in Reza Zarrab case in US

May 26, 2016

U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara has included Turkey’s vast 2013 corruption probe in the case into Reza Zarrab, the shady Iranian-born Turkish businessman who was arrested in Miami in March for attempting to evade U.S. sanctions on Iran.

Bharara on May 25 said Zarrab, 32, should not receive bail, citing the summary of proceedings of the investigation that was launched on Dec. 17, 2013 in Turkey, which targeted the government’s senior members.

“The defendant has used his tremendous wealth not only to purchase several homes, yachts, and other assets, but also to buy access to corrupt politicians in Turkey. Zarrab was arrested in Turkey in 2013 for bribing Turkish officials. He was released after the charges were dropped. The Turkish prosecutor and the police officers responsible for the investigation were either suspended or arrested,” said the objection presented by Bharara.

Zarrab was accused of paying massive bribes to senior government figures in a scheme that allegedly involved the ministers in Turkey. The December 2013 corruption cases targeted figures close to the government and resulted in lasting enmity between the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government and the movement of Islamic scholar Fethullah Gülen, as prosecutors close to the movement were said to have launched the probe.

Süleyman Arslan, the former manager of the state-run Halkbank, was another suspect in the investigation. Arslan faced accusations of illegal transfers of gold to Iran in exchange for money via Halkbank in partnership with a crime ring allegedly formed by Zarrab.

With no ties to the U.S., Zarrab has “significant incentive and ability to flee” due to his relations with former Economy Minister Zafer Çağlayan, former Interior Minister Muammer Güler, former EU Affairs Minister Egemen Bağış, and substantial family and business contacts abroad, Bharara said, adding that he had passports from three countries enabling him to easily travel to countries from which he cannot be extradited.

After his arrest in Miami, Zarrab, who was carrying $103,000 in cash, minimized his international travel and assets and claimed that he had only a passport from Turkey, despite also having passports from Iran and Macedonia, Bharara added.

Zarrab’s lawyer, Benjamin Brafman previously demanded that his client be granted house arrest on $50 million bail, $10 million of which would be in cash.

In his objection to the bail offer, Bharara presented the English translation of the summary of proceedings of Turkey’s 2013 graft probe, Zarrab’s statements in a TV show on April 19, 2014, e-mail exchanges, and a news article on his donation worth $5 million to an association founded by the wife of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, the Social Development Center of Education and Social Solidarity Association (Togem-Der). 

In his bail offer, Zarrab cited the donation, which he said proved that he is a “charitable businessman.”

Bhrara said he claimed he had annual income of about $720,000, despite saying publicly in the TV show that he generates over $11 billion in annual exports, including about $3.5 billion in gold exports.

Photos of bars of gold, a gold-plated pistol, a yacht and a substantial amount of cash found in Zarrab’s phone were also presented by Bharara as evidence that his income statements were wrong.

The judge in the case, Richard Berman, will announce his ruling on the bail offer on June 2.



Anti-ISIL coalition jets from İncirlik hit Raqqa


Fighter jets from the anti-Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) coalition led by the United States have taken off from Turkey’s İncirlik Air Base to attack Raqqa as part of a Syria Democratic Force (SDF) offensive on the caliphate’s capital.

Sources speaking on condition of anonymity said that U.S.-led coalition jets were dropping laser-guided bombs at previously marked ISIL targets to the north of Raqqa after taking off of İncirlik, which is located in the southern province of Adana.

Apart from warplanes, armed and unarmed drones have also joined the attack on Raqqa, which is being spearheaded by the SDF, which consists of the Syrian Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG), Syrian Arabs and Syriacs.

Turkey opened its İncirlik base to the U.S.-led anti-ISIL coalition in July 2015 after a bilateral agreement was signed among both parties.

Currently, fighter jets from the U.S., Britain, Germany, Qatar and Saudi Arabia are positioned at İncirlik base.

Sources did not indicate the number of fighter jets that are contributing to the offensive but said many sorties had been made on ISIL targets.

The U.S.’ A-10 Thunderbolt jets, which are known as “tank busters,” hit some armed vehicles and heavy-weaponry in the ISIL ranks, sources said, adding that the coalition would first aim to take back “north Raqqa,” which is the area lying between the city center of Raqqa and Syria’s border with Turkey around 60 kilometers away, from ISIL. After securing the area, coalition-backed SDF forces hope to enter Raqqa’s city center.

Talal Silo, spokesman for the SDF, said their forces were not preparing an assault on Raqqa at present, indicating the limited scope of the new offensive in nearby areas where fighting raged on May 25.

“The current battle is only to liberate the area north of Raqqa. Currently there is no preparation ... to liberate Raqqa, unless as part of a campaign which will come after this campaign has finished,” he said.

Leaflets dropped on Raqqa city by U.S.-led coalition jets in the past weeks had urged residents to flee and given rise to speculation that they were about to attack the city.

Turkish military sources said they believed YPG forces were not fully effective in the current offensive but would attack with all its efforts when an assault is launched on the city center.

Turkey regards the YPG as an offshoot of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party and has been at odds with the U.S. over the latter’s treatment of the YPG, which is the military wing of the Syrian Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD).

The SDF already has two footholds north of Raqqa: the border town of Tal Abyad and the smaller town of Ain Issa between Tal Abyad and Raqqa city. 

On May 25, SDF fighters cleared two fields that lie southeast of Ain Issa, according to a statement distributed to journalists. 

Silo told reporters the fighting was taking place in “rural areas. There is no street fighting.”

Meanwhile, two Syrian rebel groups, Jaish al-Islam and Failaq al-Rahman, which have been fighting each other near Damascus, have negotiated a cease-fire in Qatar overseen by the High Negotiations Committee chief coordinator Riad Hijab, statements published by the two groups said.

More than 500 people have been killed since April when fighting erupted between the rival groups. Their rift has been exploited by Syrian government forces to capture territory in the Eastern Ghouta area outside Damascus.

“A complete cease-fire agreement was arrived at, overseen by the High Negotiations Committee chief coordinator Dr. Riad Hijab,” a Jaish al-Islam statement released on May 24 said, adding that the talks had taken place in Doha.

On the same day, Russia’s Defense Ministry said it was holding off from striking rebels with the al-Qaeda-affiliated Nusra Front to give other armed groups time to move away from Nusra positions.

The ministry said in a statement it had received requests from multiple armed groups, mainly in Damascus and Aleppo, asking for a pause in air strikes, Reuters reported.

The ministry said taking those requests into account, it had decided to allow more time before it starts air strikes on the al-Nusra positions.

A cease-fire deal reached on Feb. 27 for Syria excluded ISIL and al-Nusra from the area of truce.



Russia accuses Turkey of supplying Islamic State extremists

May 26, 2016

UNITED NATIONS (AP) — Russia has accused Turkey of supplying the Islamic State extremist group with components for improvised explosive devices.

Russia's U.N. Ambassador Vitaly Churkin said in a letter to Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon circulated Wednesday that the devices "are being widely used to commit terrorist acts."

He said an analysis of chemical components of explosives captured from Islamists in the region of the Iraqi city of Tikrit and the Syrian city of Kobani, and a review of conditions for selling the components, "indicates that they were either manufactured in Turkey or delivered to that country without the right of re-export."

Churkin accused five Turkish companies of delivering aluminum powder, ammonium nitrate, hydrogen peroxide and other material produced by various Turkish and foreign companies to the Islamic State group.

Turkey's Foreign Ministry spokesman in Ankara called the letter "the most recent example of Russia's propaganda campaign against Turkey, and as such it cannot be taken seriously."

Russia, a key ally of Syrian President Bashar Assad, and Turkey, a major backer of Syria's opposition, have been at odds during the five-year conflict. Tensions escalated following Turkey's downing of a Russian warplane near its border with Syria last November.

Russia retaliated by deploying long-range air defense missile systems to its base in Syria and imposed economic sanctions on Turkey. President Vladimir Putin has accused Turkey of "allowing terrorists to earn money by selling oil stolen from Syria," and Russia's top military brass accused Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his family of personally profiting from oil trade with Islamic State militants.

Churkin said one notable feature of the explosive devices assembled by militants from the Islamic State, also known as ISIL, is the use of parts manufactured by U.S., Swiss and Swedish companies.

He said "detonation cords manufactured in third countries have been illegally resold through Turkey to ISIL fighters."

"These facts demonstrate that the Turkish authorities are deliberately involved in ISIL activity, as they are providing access to components for improvised explosive devices that are being widely used to commit terrorist acts," Churkin said.



Switzerland: Muslim students must shake teacher's hand

25 May 2016

A controversial exemption from the tradition had been granted for two teenage brothers whose interpretation of the Koran meant they were unwilling to touch a member of the opposite sex.

If they continue to refuse, their parents could face a fine.

The regional authority said teachers "had the right" to demand handshakes.

Country profile: Switzerland

Shaking teachers' hands as a sign of respect is a longstanding tradition in Switzerland.

When it emerged last month that a middle school had allowed two Syrian brothers aged 14 and 15 to avoid the tradition due to their religious beliefs, it sparked a national controversy.

The boys, whose father is an imam, said their faith did not allow them to shake hands with a woman who was not related to them.

Justice Minister Simonetta Sommaruga said on television that "shaking hands is part of our culture".

There are about 350,000 Muslims in Switzerland, which has a population of eight million.

Some Swiss Muslim groups said there was no religious justification for refusing to shake a female teacher's hand and urged the Swiss not to give in to extremist demands. But one Islamic organisation said a handshake between men and women was prohibited.

The family's citizenship process was halted and the migration office in Basel said it was seeking more information about the circumstances under which the boys' father's asylum request was approved.


The school, in the small northern town of Therwil, had tried to find a compromise in the matter by deciding the boys should not shake hands with male or female teachers.

Later, after considerable media attention, the school turned to regional authorities to settle the matter.

The authorities said in a statement on Wednesday that "the public interest concerning gender equality as well as integration of foreigners far outweighs that concerning the freedom of belief of students".

The school said it was "relieved" at the ruling and that there was now "clarity on how to proceed".

In future, the parents or guardians of pupils in the northern canton of Basel-Country could face fines of up to 5,000 Swiss francs (£3,400; $5,000; 4,500 euros) if the pupils refuse to shake hands with a teacher.

The boys told Swiss media (in German) that "nobody could make them" shake hands with a woman, and that they "could not just delete their culture as if it were a hard drive".



Has the Pope Abandoned Europe to Islam?

May 26, 2016

In 2006, Pope Benedict XVI said what no Pope had ever dared to say -- that there is a link between violence and Islam. Ten years later, Pope Francis never calls those responsible for anti-Christian violence by name and never mentions the word "Islam."

Pope Francis does not even try to re-evangelize or reconquer Europe. He seems deeply to believe that the future of Christianity is in the Philippines, in Brazil and in Africa. Probably for the same reason, the Pope is spending less time and effort in denouncing the terrible fate of Christians in the Middle East.

"Multiculturalism" in Europe is the mosque standing on the ruins of the church. It is not the synthesis requested by Pope Francis. It is the road to becoming extinct.

Asking Europe to be "multicultural" while it experiences a dramatic de-Christianization is extremely risky. In Germany, a new report found that "Germany has become demographically a multi-religious country." In the UK, a major inquiry recently declared that "Britain is no longer a Christian country." In France, Islam is also overtaking Christianity as the dominant religion.

To scroll the list of Pope Francis's apostolic trips -- Brazil, South Korea, Albania, Turkey, Sri Lanka, Ecuador, Cuba, United States, Mexico, Kenya, Uganda, Philippines -- one could say that Europe is not exactly at the top of his agenda.

The two previous pontiffs both fought for the cradle of Christendom. Pope John Paul II took on Communism by toppling the Berlin Wall and the Iron Curtain. Benedict XVI took on "the dictatorship of relativism" (the belief that truth is in the eye of the beholder) and bet everything on re-evangelizing the continent by traveling through it (he visited Spain three times) and in speeches such as the magnificent ones at Regensburg, where he spoke bluntly about the threat of Islam, and the German Bundestag, where he warned the gathered politicians against declining religiosity and "sacrificing their own ideals for the sake of power."

Pope Francis, on the contrary, simply ignores Europe, as if he already considers it lost. This former Argentinian Cardinal, a representative of the "global South" Christianity, made spectacular trips to the migrants' islands of Lampedusa (Italy) and Lesbos (Greece), but never to the heart of the old continent. Pope Francis has also made it difficult for Anglicans to enter into the Catholic Church, by downplaying the dialogue with them.

Most importantly, however, in his important May 6 speech for the Charlemagne Prize, the Pope, in front of European leaders, castigated Europe on migrants and asked its leaders to be more generous with them. He next introduced something revolutionary into the debate: "The identity of Europe is, and always has been, a multicultural identity," he said. This idea is questionable.

Multiculturalism is a specific policy formulated in the 1970s. and it was absent from the political vocabulary of Schuman and Adenauer, two of Europe's founding fathers. Now it has been invoked by the Pope, who spoke of the need for a new synthesis. What is this all about?

Today, Christianity appears marginal and irrelevant in Europe. The religion faces an Islamic demographic and ideological challenge, while the post-Auschwitz remnants of Jewish communities are fleeing from the new anti-Semitism. Under these conditions, a synthesis between the old continent and Islam would be a surrender of Europe's claim to the future.

"Multiculturalism" is the mosque standing on the ruins of the church. It is not the synthesis requested by the Pope. It is the road to becoming extinct.

Asking Europe to be "multicultural" while it is experiencing a dramatic de-Christianization is also extremely risky. In Germany, a new report just found that "Germany has become demographically a multi-religious country." In the UK, a major inquiry recently declared that "Britain is no longer a Christian country." In France, Islam is also overtaking Christianity as the dominant religion. You find the same trend everywhere, from Protestant Scandinavia to Catholic Belgium. That is why Pope Benedict was convinced that Europe needed to "re-evangelized." Pope Francis does not even try to re-evangelize or reconquer Europe. Instead, he seems deeply to believe that the future of Christianity is in the Philippines, Brazil and Africa.

Probably for the same reason, the Pope is spending less time denouncing the terrible fate of Christians in the Middle East. Sandro Magister, Italy's most important Vatican observer, sheds light on the Pope's silences:

"He remained silent on the hundreds of Nigerian schoolgirls abducted by Boko Haram. He remained silent on the young Sudanese mother Meriam, sentenced to death solely for being Christian and finally liberated by the intervention of others. He remains silent on the Pakistani mother Asia Bibi, who has been on death row for five years, because she too is an 'infidel', and [He] does not even reply to the two heartrending letters she has written to him this year, before and after the reconfirmation of the sentence."

In 2006, Pope Benedict XVI, in his Regensburg lecture, said what no Pope had ever dared to say -- that there is a link between violence and Islam. Ten years later, Pope Francis never calls those responsible for anti-Christian violence by name, and never mentions the word "Islam." Pope Francis also recently recognized the "State of Palestine," before it even exists -- a symbolic and unprecedented first. The Pope also might abandon the Church's long tradition of a "just war," one regarded as morally or theologically justifiable. Pope Francis always speaks of the "Europe of peoples," but never of the "Europe of Nations." He advocates welcoming migrants and washes their feet, while he ignores that these uncontrolled demographic waves are transforming Europe, bit by bit, into an Islamic state.

That is the meaning of Pope Francis' trips to the islands of Lampedusa, Italy, and Lesbos, Greece -- both symbols of a dramatic geographical and civilizational boundary. That is also the meaning of the Pope's speech for the Charlemagne Prize.

Has the head of Christianity given up on Europe as a Christian place?



Why Are So Many Muslim Refugees in Europe Suddenly Finding Jesus?

May 26, 2016,Thursday

AMSTERDAM — Hundreds of Pakistanis and Afghans have been lining up at a local swimming pool in Hamburg, Germany, to be baptized as Christians. In the Netherlands and Denmark, as well, many are converting from Islam to Christianity, and the trend appears to be growing. Indeed, converts are filling up some European churches largely forsaken by their old Christian flocks.

All of which raises a question, not least, for the United States: If American presidential candidate Donald Trump gets elected and bars Muslims from entering the country, as he says he will, would the ban apply to Christians who used to be Muslims? How would one judge the quality of their faith?

For the moment, that quandary is a ways off for U.S. Homeland Security, but in Europe even now the phenomenon is fraught with echoes of the past, problems in the present, and omens for the future. Forced conversions of Muslims and Jews during the Spanish Inquisition were a dark page in Europe’s history. More than a little suspicion surrounds some of the current conversions, seen by some to be cynical bids to improve the chance of getting asylum. And, looking forward, it’s potentially quite dangerous for those who embrace the Gospel to return to homelands where abandoning Islam for another faith can be treated as a capital crime.

Still, many preachers are pleased. The German pastor of the Evangelical-Lutheran church in Berlin calls the conversion phenomenon “a gift from God.” In his modest community a staggering 1,200 Muslims, mainly Afghans and Iranians, converted in just three years.

In Hamburg, where German ARD TV showed the Pakistanis and Afghans lining up to be baptized by the pastor of the Persian Church community, more than 600 people reportedly were received into the congregation.

There is no reliable overall figure for converts in northern Europe, but judging by reports from different media outlets, it is safe to assume the number runs into the thousands, maybe even tens of thousands who say they want the Gospel, “the good news,” offered by Jesus Christ.

One young Iranian woman convert told the German news magazine Stern, “I’ve been looking all my life for peace and happiness, but in Islam, I have not found them,” Another convert told Stern he had found in Christianity an element—love—that was missing from the faith he was brought up in. “In Islam, we always lived in fear,” he said. “Fear God, fear of sin, fear of punishment. But Christ is a God of love.”

Not all church communities are equally excited about this new development, however. Some church leaders question the integrity of the new stream of conversions, which may be undertaken under subtle—or not so subtle—pressure.

Pastor Gerhard Scholte of the Reformed Keizersgracht Church, who also heads up the refugee task force of combined Amsterdam churches, says, “conversion to Christianity is not promoted in our church, so we see very little of it.” From his point of view, “Everyone is a child of God,” whether baptized or not. “Faith should not be conditional,” he says.

Indeed, Scholte suggests that conversion on a large scale may verge on abuse. “It is taking advantage of people in weak positions and it’s all about the figures,” Scholte says, “That is abhorrent to me.”

His Reformed Keizersgracht Church in Amsterdam has been working with refugees since the early ‘80s. “Unless it saves lives, we are not eager to convert. In that case however, we convert anyone who wants to,” Scholte adds. In fact, this church has a long tradition saving lives through conversion. “This is what our church did to help Jews in the Second World War,” he said.

Many evangelical communities today take a more pro-active posture. They approach their work with missionary zeal and, implicitly if not explicitly, may link aid to conversion.

In the Netherlands and other Northern European countries, such churches are very active giving refugee assistance. They encourage refugees to accept Jesus in their lives and embrace the Gospel of Love. At the same time, they offer free Dutch lessons and may invite refugees for a temporary stay in Dutch Christian homes. In many cases this is the first and the only glimpse refugees get into Dutch society outside the boundaries of a camp.

The Dutch New Life Evangelical community in Alphen aan den Rijn reportedly saw 50 new converts added to its ranks in one year. “They were touched by God’s word during the prayer sessions,” Pastor Ab Meerbeek told the national newspaper Trouw. Most are from Iran and Afghanistan. They listen to the sermons translated in Farsi on headphones.

Whatever the reasons are for Muslim refugees to embrace Christianity, their conversions may endanger them if asylum is refused and they are sent back to their countries of origin. And contrary to popular belief, conversion to Christianity can actually damage one’s chances of asylum in the Netherlands.

“It does not help people, because the Dutch authorities tend to distrust swift conversion,” said Scholte. “It can work against you when you are seeking asylum.”

In Germany, conversion can work to a refugee’s advantage. “Members of our community are almost always granted asylum,” Pastor Gottfried Martens of the Berlin Evangelical-Lutheran Church told BZ Berlin. “They can’t go back without danger to their lives in their home country as Christians.”

This paradoxical fact—converted Christians are more likely to be persecuted than those who stay Muslims, and are thus more eligible for asylum—may explain part of the recent surge in conversions.

But there are many cases in which personal safety already is compromised before refugees arrive in Europe, says Geesje Werkman of Church in Action.

“If an Afghan woman comes to you saying she wants to convert because she was raped and because of that she would be stoned, she can be deeply touched and wanting to convert because of a passage in the Bible that says, ‘He who is without sin cast the first stone,’” says Werkman.

Werkman says she worries about generalizations. “There is not just one story, there are a multitude of different stories,” he tells The Daily Beast. “It really doesn’t help if the press writes that the conversions are unreliable, when there are so many different situations, it cannot be reduced to one storyline.”

Scholte, for all his skepticism about conversions and those who encourage them, thinks the strongest appeal of churches in Europe is a new idea of freedom. “That is what they sense when they come in touch with Christianity. I do understand,” Scholte says. “But if you tell me what church you are from, I will tell you how ‘free’ that will actually be. There are enormous differences.”




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