New Age Islam
Thu Aug 13 2020, 01:26 PM

Islamic World News ( 25 Jun 2017, NewAgeIslam.Com)

Islam Respects Local Customs and Cultures, Says Top Singapore Mufti

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Photo: Iraqi children enjoy riding a mini car as they celebrate Eid al-Fitr, in Mosul, Iraq June 25, 2017. (REUTERS/Alaa Al-Marjani)

 

Europeans Learn To Live With — and Adapt To — Terror Attacks

Mosul Celebrates First Eid without Islamic State in Years

ISIS Says Taliban Betraying Islam, Declares War

Trump Ends White House Ramadan Dinner Tradition, First Hosted By Thomas Jefferson In 1805

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Southeast Asia

Islam Respects Local Customs and Cultures, Says Top Singapore Mufti

Kyrgyzstan: Election Campaigning Co-opts Islam

Putra Mosque, the Choice of Domestic and Foreign Tourists

Jokowi praised for meeting with opposition Muslim organization during Idul Fitri

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Europe

Europeans Learn To Live With — and Adapt To — Terror Attacks

Liberal Mosque Founder Vows to Keep It Open Despite Egyptian Fatwa and Death Threats

Forest Gate Riots: Elderly Muslim Man Comforts Distressed Protestor with A Hug

Boy, 13, reported for celebrating London mosque attack

British Muslims and the need for safe spaces

Clothes are being collected for Muslims since their lives were destroyed by the Grenfell Tower fire

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Arab World

Mosul Celebrates First Eid without Islamic State in Years

Islamic State 'Fighting For Their Lives' Not Directing Terror Attacks on the West, Global Coalition Says

US-backed Syrian groups take Raqqa district from Islamic State

Islamic State counterattacks west Mosul areas captured by Iraq

Israel attacks Syrian posts after cross-border fire

More Civilians Killed, Wounded in US-Led Coalition Airstrikes in Northeastern Syria

Damascus: Israeli Airstrikes on Syrian Army Positions Done in Support of Terrorists

Yemeni Forces Hit Saudi-Led Warship off Coast of Mukha

Suicide-Bomber Attacks ISIL Commanders in Western Iraq

Iraqi Volunteer Forces Continue to Hit ISIL at Border with Syria

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South Asia

ISIS Says Taliban Betraying Islam, Declares War

Taliban Attack Checkpost near India-Made Dam in Afghanistan, Kill 10 Policemen

Suicide bomber shot dead in Nangarhar province

Khost tribal elder gunned down in mosque

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North America

Trump Ends White House Ramadan Dinner Tradition, First Hosted By Thomas Jefferson In 1805

Ohio Government Sites Hacked With Pro-Islamic State Message

3,000 N.L. Muslims gather for Eid celebrations at Jack Byrne Arena

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India

Tripura Muslims Pray For World Peace Ahead Of Eid

Eid with Black Arm Bands as Protest against Muslim Lynching

Meat, Liquor Found Near Mosque in UP's Amethi, Case Lodged

Srinagar encounter ends; 2 terrorists killed, 2 Army men injured

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Pakistan

China to Carry Out 'Shuttle Diplomacy' For Pakistan, Afghanistan

149 killed, 117 injured as oil tanker explodes in Pakistan

China urges Afghans, Pakistan to form crisis-management mechanism

Pakistan deploys 15,000-strong force for Chinese security

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Mideast

Leader Calls on Muslims to Adopt Serious Stances against Oppressors

Islamic finance growth 'likely to slow in 2018'

Iran's Rouhani backs Qatar, rejects 'siege'

Calligrapher pens Koran in complex Arabic Diwani font

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Africa

Adebule, Akiolu, Chief Imam Preach Love, Tolerance

Glo Joins Muslims to Pray for Nigeria’s Progress, Unity

Uganda: Kadaga Chides Government over Islamic Banking Delay

In Embattled Nigeria, Displaced Families Still Celebrate Ramadan's End In Style

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau

URL: http://newageislam.com/islamic-world-news/new-age-islam-news-bureau/islam-respects-local-customs-and-cultures,-says-top-singapore-mufti/d/111671

 

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Islam Respects Local Customs and Cultures, Says Top Singapore Mufti

 

Top Islamic scholar warns against concluding that 'what is foreign is definitely more Islamic'

The Islam faith is one that respects local cultures, and the traditions and cultures in Singapore do not conflict with Islamic teachings, said the top Islamic scholar in Singapore yesterday.

"Being Islamic does not mean that we should abandon our customs and cultures which do not run contrary to Islamic principles," said Mufti Fatris Bakaram in his Hari Raya Aidilfitri sermon.

Delivering his sermon in Malay, Dr Fatris said it will be problematic if a believer of Islam imposes foreign cultures and norms on a community like Singapore, which has its own practices and traditions. He warned against concluding that "what is foreign is definitely more Islamic".

"Such attitudes usually arise from being easily fascinated by something new and something that differs from the norm," he told a congregation of about 3,500 at Al-Mukminin Mosque in Jurong East. His sermon - which was also read by other imams in all mosques here yesterday - follows news of three people being arrested under the Internal Security Act in the last two weeks for terrorism-related offences. Two of the three were radicalised after being exposed to pro-Islamic State in Iraq and Syria propaganda online.

Yesterday, Dr Fatris called on the Muslim community to always be wary and discerning of calls from unsure sources, especially given the widespread use of social media.

He said: "Without a proper understanding of the religion, it is possible for us to be deceived by such manipulations. There are those who are influenced by calls to participate in conflicts, wars and acts of violence."

These violent acts taint Islam and cause confusion over what the faith represents, he added.

"Islam teaches us that our love for our religion is not in conflict with our love for the country, race and culture," said Dr Fatris.

As Mufti, he helms the religious leadership in the 500,000-strong Muslim community here. He interprets Islamic law and provides spiritual guidance to the community.

Minister-in-charge of Muslim Affairs Yaacob Ibrahim, who attended the sermon, told reporters Dr Fatris' message was "very appropriate".

"The Mufti was trying to reinforce the message that whatever we have been practising in Singapore, within our context, is appropriately Islamic for us to manifest it in our own way," said Dr Yaacob, who is also Minister for Communications and Information.

"We are inundated with many other influences that we see across the world today through the Internet. At the end of the day, there is always the debate as to which one is more Islamic than the other."

The assurance by the Mufti is very important, as it reinforces the fact that Islam practised in Singapore is "perfectly within the framework of Islam", Dr Yaacob noted.

He also warned against allowing Islamophobia to sink its roots here.

While Islamophobia is not a problem, "we must always remain vigilant that it might take root in Singapore", he added. "In corridors, at dinner tables, in gatherings, you never know what is being said, what is being uttered."

The Muslim community has developed the skills to explain Islam to the non-Muslim community, Dr Yaacob noted, but both Muslim and non-Muslim leaders need to work "doubly hard" to ensure anti-Muslim sentiments do not take root here.

Asked about the upcoming presidential election, Dr Yaacob said potential candidates have to decide for themselves whether to contest.

"The electoral process is transparent, is fair. It is up to the individual to decide. We will take whatever outcomes that come," he said. "Whether it is a walkover, whether it is a contest, we have to decide whatever the outcome is and embrace it wholeheartedly."

The election in September is the first reserved for Malay candidates, following changes to the law last year to ensure the major races are periodically represented in the office of the president, which should reflect Singapore's multiracial society.

Second Chance Properties chief executive Mohamed Salleh Marican, 67, and Bourbon Offshore Asia Pacific chairman Farid Khan, 62, have collected application forms so far.

straitstimes.com/singapore/islam-respects-local-customs-and-cultures-says-mufti

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Europeans Learn To Live With — and Adapt To — Terror Attacks

AP | Jun 25, 2017, 08.38 PM IST

PARIS: The jihadis' targets in Europe are depressingly repetitive: the Brussels metro, the Champs-Elysees in Paris (twice), tourist-filled bridges in London (twice) and a UK rock concert. And that's just the past few months.

The steady stream of attacks on centers of daily life have drawn pledges from Europeans not to let terrorists change how they live, but in ways large and small they already have.

There is a heightened awareness and quicker reactions, especially in the hardest-hit countries of France, Britain and Belgium, that would have seemed unthinkable just a few years ago.

In Brussels on Tuesday, a 36-year-old Moroccan man shouting "Allahu akbar!" set off a bomb among subway commuters. The bomb didn't detonate in full and a soldier shot him dead.

It was another Muslim, Mohamed Charfih, who demanded that the subway's doors be closed before the attacker could enter.

"I heard people on the platform shouting for help," he told the news site DH. He looked out and knew what he saw. "I screamed to close the doors immediately. I asked to get out of there as fast as possible and that everyone get down on the floor."

That reaction, blocking the door and fleeing, has become part of official instructions on what to do in case of an attack in France. Signs have been posted in public areas and even schools showing people running, ducking beneath a window, or using heavy furniture as a barricade.

Tensions are high enough in central Paris that on Thursday the quick-response police unit reacted to a witness' phone call about a man wearing a sidearm by tackling him on the street, only to learn that he was a ranking member of the anti-terrorism squad, according to French media.

In Britain, decades of IRA attacks prompted the installation of country-wide TV surveillance cameras — one of the most expansive systems in the world. Paris is quickly ramping up its own camera system, to the point where authorities were able this week to track the minute-by-minute path of the man who tried to attack a Champs-Elysee gendarme patrol until the moment he rammed their vehicle. The man died of burns and smoke inhalation — the only casualty of his act — but left behind a substantial arsenal.

Both Britain and France have installed barriers around airports, train stations and other public buildings in recent years. Since the Westminster bridge attack in March, however, talks are underway to install even more barriers on bridges and around crowded places such as London's Borough Market, where three attackers this month went on a stabbing rampage after crashing their vehicle on a busy street not far from London Bridge.

Echoing France, London's security authorities have issued advice to pubs and restaurants since the attacks with the message of "Run, Tell and Hide." The advice includes establishing whether the threat is inside or outside and not waiting for police to decide whether the venue should be locked down or evacuated.

Few British commuters have changed their habits. After suicide bombers in 2005 struck trains and buses during a busy London morning rush-hour, scores of commuters started riding bicycles to work. That method of transport has its own problems in London — with the number of annual cyclist deaths a rising concern.

Three of the four recent attacks, however, have involved the use of a vehicle as a weapon — much like the deadly 2016 Nice attack in France that killed 87 people.

"I suppose I could try taking a boat to work, but before long I'm sure they would attack those too. So I'm just taking my chances," said Rohan Chansity, a 34-year-old finance worker in London.

Parents and teachers are talking to children more about being observant — a skill often lost on a gadget-obsessed generation.

A suicide bomber blew himself up last month at Manchester Arena, killing 22 people, mostly young concert-goers.

"We talk about being observant, looking for exits, making sure you're around a responsible crowd - but in the end, it's not like I'm going to keep her from going to concerts," said Moira Campbell, 45, who has a 15-year-old daughter.

Tourists, too, say they are aware of potential dangers but have refused to be cowed.

Dave Howland, who traveled from New Hampshire to London with his youngest son a few days before the Borough Market attack, said he was conscious of the threat when he went to Shakespeare's Globe theatre, a round wooden venue in the Borough Market area.

"I looked around and didn't see exit signs," said the 47-year-old English teacher who lives in Durham. "But then I looked around and saw this performance and that people were celebrating life. So I thought, we're going to enjoy the moment. London is an incredible city, and life is too short not to enjoy everything you can."

The latest would-be assailant on the Champs-Elysees had an arsenal of firearms in both his car and at home, and France's anti-terrorism prosecutor said disaster was averted only by sheer luck. It was the second attack in less than two months on the famous avenue.

Still, tourists and Parisians still flock to the Champs-Elysees, watched over by camouflaged soldiers carrying automatic rifles. And in Brussels, the day after the fizzled metro bombing, the headlines focused on how to cope with the recent heat wave.

The weather, it seems, is not going away — just like the jihadi threats.

timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/europe/europeans-learn-to-live-with-and-adapt-to-terror-attacks/articleshow/59311598.cms

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Mosul celebrates first Eid without Islamic State in years

Reuters | Jun 25, 2017, 06.33 PM IST

MOSUL, Iraq: People in the Iraqi city of Mosul celebrated their first Muslim Eid holiday without Islamic State in years on Sunday after the militants were ejected from much of the city, and hoped the battle to recapture the remaining area would soon be over.

Children gathered in squares on the eastern side of the city. Some played on old swings and others with toy guns and rifles, which were among the toys allowed by Islamic State militants after they took over the city in June 2014.

The militants implemented an extreme version of Islam which associated toys with a face, like dolls, with idolatry. They encouraged youngsters to train on weapons and changed text books to reflect their military ideology. Children were asked to add up bombs or bullets in maths exercises.

Eid prayers were allowed under Islamic State but festivities were not.

But for many, Sunday's Eid celebrations were overshadowed by the destruction of their historic leaning minaret, blown up by the militants on Wednesday, and fears for thousands of civilians trapped in the Old City in western Mosul still under Islamic State control.

"It won't be real Eid before we return home," said a man in his sixties, displaced from the western side of the city, across the Tigris river, where fighting continues.

Some expressed sadness over the destruction of the 850-year-old Grand al-Nuri mosque and its leaning 150-foot (45-metre) minaret.

"Eid is not the same," said a man who declined to give his name as fear is still present even though Iraqi forces dislodged the insurgents from the eastern part of the city months ago.

Iraqi forces took the eastern side from Islamic State in January, after 100 days of fighting, and started attacking the western side in February. The militants are now besieged in Mosul's Old City.

"As our heroic forces are closer to declaring final victory over the Daesh (Islamic State) gangs, I offer my most sincere congratulations for Eid ul-Fitr," Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi said in a statement.

A US-led international coalition is providing air and ground support in the 8-month-old offensive to drive the militants from their de facto capital in Iraq.

About 350 Islamic State fighters, most of them non-Iraqis, are defending their remaining stronghold in Mosul's densely populated Old City, an Iraqi general said on Sunday. He expected the battle for the city to end in days.

TRAPPED

"Most of the dead bodies are foreigners, most of the fighters are foreigners, we see some trying to escape across the Tigris," said Major-General Sami al-Arithi, a Counter Terrorism Service (CTS) commander.

The US-trained urban warfare units are leading the fight in the narrow alleyways of the historic district which lies by the western bank of the Tigris.

More than 50,000 civilians, about half the Old City's population, remain behind Islamic State lines, complicating the troops' advance, Arithi told state TV.

The civilians are trapped in crumbling old houses in harrowing conditions, with little food, water or medicines, according to those who have escaped.

Aid organizations say Islamic State has stopped many from leaving, using them as human shields. Hundreds of civilians fleeing the Old City have been killed in the past three weeks.

Iraqi authorities were hoping to declare victory in the northern city by Eid, a three-day festival which started on Sunday for Mosul's Sunni Muslim population and many Iraqi Shi'ites, celebrating the end of the fasting month of Ramzan.

Arithi said the CTS were about 25 meters (yards) from the Nuri mosque, from where Islamic State's leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi proclaimed his "caliphate" over parts of Iraq and Syria three years ago.

The Iraqi government once hoped to take Mosul by the end of 2016, but the fighting has dragged on as the militants reinforced positions in civilian areas, launched suicide car bomb attacks, laid traps and kept up sniper and mortar fire.

The fall of Mosul would mark the end of the Iraqi half of the "caliphate". Islamic State remains in control of large areas of both Iraq and Syria.

Baghdadi has left the fighting in Mosul to local commanders and has been assumed to be hiding in the Iraqi-Syrian border area. There has been no confirmation of Russian reports over the past week that he has been killed.

In Syria, the insurgents' "capital", Raqqa, is nearly encircled by a US-backed, Kurdish-led coalition.

timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/middle-east/mosul-celebrates-first-eid-without-islamic-state-in-years/articleshow/59310605.cms

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ISIS says Taliban betraying Islam, declares war

ANI | Jun 25, 2017, 11.44 PM IST

KABUL: The Islamic State has declared war on Taliban militants in Afghanistan as it called the latter "hypocrites and stooges of the unbelievers".

An ISIS commander, in a statement, said Taliban militants are betraying Islam and that they should be killed everywhere and their properties should be seized, reports Tasnim news agency.

Last year in August, Afghan Taliban Spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said that the group is resolved to target ISIS members.

Afghanistan has long been facing instability due to continued fighting between the government forces and the Taliban, which seized vast territories in the Afghan rural areas. Also, recently the presence of ISIS forces in Afghanistan even though limited to a small area has further added to its problems.

timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/south-asia/isis-says-taliban-betraying-islam-declares-war/articleshow/59313982.cms

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Trump ends White House Ramadan dinner tradition, first hosted by Thomas Jefferson in 1805

June 26, 2017   

Donald Trump has broken a White House tradition first established by Thomas Jefferson in 1805, which saw presidents hosting an Iftar meal during Ramadan.

This year was the first time in almost two decades that the occupant of the White House has not invited politicians, diplomats and Muslim leaders to dine after sunset during the Islamic holy month.

The gesture, which acknowledges the fasting endured by dutiful Muslims, stretches back to an Iftar Jefferson hosted for the Tunisian ambassador over 200 years ago.

Its modern incarnation began in 1996 when First Lady Hilary Clinton hosted a celebration of Eid al-Fitr, which marks the end of Ramadan.

Since 1999, Presidents Clinton, Bush II and Obama have honoured the convention of hosting a fast-breaking meal every year – showing solidarity with Muslims in America and across the globe.

Ramadan has now been and gone without Trump hosting an Iftar – a notable fact in light of the controversy sparked by the 45th president's attempts to ban travel to the US from several predominately Muslim nations.

"It is disappointing because that's been a good tradition," Imam Talib Shareef of Nation's Mosque in Washington, DC, told Newsweek.

"To stop it doesn't send a good message. You get the chance to go golfing and all this other kind of stuff. How come you don't have time for a population of your society that needs some assistance? The message that it sends is that we're not that important," he added.

Trump has not hosted a special Ramadan mealREUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

A statement by Trump released on the White House at the beginning of Ramadan (25 June) gave his best wishes to Muslims around the world during the fasting period.

However, the message was dominated by references to global security and terrorist attacks committed by Muslims. It also touched on his 20-22 May diplomatic mission to the Middle East.

Since Trump made his pit stop in Saudi Arabia, the region has been rocked by a diplomatic crisis in which the Saudis – along with the UAE, Egypt and Bahrain – cut ties with the Qatari government, who they accuse of supporting terrorism.

Saudi Arabia's King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud meets with U.S. President Donald Trump during a reception ceremony in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, May 20, 2017.Reuters

Within days of the fallout, Trump post a tweet in which he appeared to claiming responsibility for the regional tensions, while vocalising support for the Saudi position.

But Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has since clarified the US's take on the crisis, urging Qatar's neighbours to ease the restrictions.

Trump's reputation for insensitivity towards the world's 1.8bn Muslims will only have been cemented by his breaking with the Iftar tradition, according to Shareef.

He said: "That was an opportunity for him to really say something to help bridge, but it actually caused more of a distance."

ibtimes.co.uk/trump-ends-white-house-ramadan-dinner-tradition-first-hosted-by-thomas-jefferson-1805-1627831

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Southeast Asia

Islam Respects Local Customs and Cultures, Says Top Singapore Mufti

 

Top Islamic scholar warns against concluding that 'what is foreign is definitely more Islamic'

The Islam faith is one that respects local cultures, and the traditions and cultures in Singapore do not conflict with Islamic teachings, said the top Islamic scholar in Singapore yesterday.

"Being Islamic does not mean that we should abandon our customs and cultures which do not run contrary to Islamic principles," said Mufti Fatris Bakaram in his Hari Raya Aidilfitri sermon.

Delivering his sermon in Malay, Dr Fatris said it will be problematic if a believer of Islam imposes foreign cultures and norms on a community like Singapore, which has its own practices and traditions. He warned against concluding that "what is foreign is definitely more Islamic".

"Such attitudes usually arise from being easily fascinated by something new and something that differs from the norm," he told a congregation of about 3,500 at Al-Mukminin Mosque in Jurong East. His sermon - which was also read by other imams in all mosques here yesterday - follows news of three people being arrested under the Internal Security Act in the last two weeks for terrorism-related offences. Two of the three were radicalised after being exposed to pro-Islamic State in Iraq and Syria propaganda online.

Yesterday, Dr Fatris called on the Muslim community to always be wary and discerning of calls from unsure sources, especially given the widespread use of social media.

He said: "Without a proper understanding of the religion, it is possible for us to be deceived by such manipulations. There are those who are influenced by calls to participate in conflicts, wars and acts of violence."

These violent acts taint Islam and cause confusion over what the faith represents, he added.

"Islam teaches us that our love for our religion is not in conflict with our love for the country, race and culture," said Dr Fatris.

As Mufti, he helms the religious leadership in the 500,000-strong Muslim community here. He interprets Islamic law and provides spiritual guidance to the community.

Minister-in-charge of Muslim Affairs Yaacob Ibrahim, who attended the sermon, told reporters Dr Fatris' message was "very appropriate".

"The Mufti was trying to reinforce the message that whatever we have been practising in Singapore, within our context, is appropriately Islamic for us to manifest it in our own way," said Dr Yaacob, who is also Minister for Communications and Information.

"We are inundated with many other influences that we see across the world today through the Internet. At the end of the day, there is always the debate as to which one is more Islamic than the other."

The assurance by the Mufti is very important, as it reinforces the fact that Islam practised in Singapore is "perfectly within the framework of Islam", Dr Yaacob noted.

He also warned against allowing Islamophobia to sink its roots here.

While Islamophobia is not a problem, "we must always remain vigilant that it might take root in Singapore", he added. "In corridors, at dinner tables, in gatherings, you never know what is being said, what is being uttered."

The Muslim community has developed the skills to explain Islam to the non-Muslim community, Dr Yaacob noted, but both Muslim and non-Muslim leaders need to work "doubly hard" to ensure anti-Muslim sentiments do not take root here.

Asked about the upcoming presidential election, Dr Yaacob said potential candidates have to decide for themselves whether to contest.

"The electoral process is transparent, is fair. It is up to the individual to decide. We will take whatever outcomes that come," he said. "Whether it is a walkover, whether it is a contest, we have to decide whatever the outcome is and embrace it wholeheartedly."

The election in September is the first reserved for Malay candidates, following changes to the law last year to ensure the major races are periodically represented in the office of the president, which should reflect Singapore's multiracial society.

Second Chance Properties chief executive Mohamed Salleh Marican, 67, and Bourbon Offshore Asia Pacific chairman Farid Khan, 62, have collected application forms so far.

straitstimes.com/singapore/islam-respects-local-customs-and-cultures-says-mufti

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Kyrgyzstan: Election Campaigning Co-opts Islam

 

Will politicians use religious discourse to appeal to the electorate?

By Timur Toktonaliev

Political scientists are predicting that candidates in Kyrgyzstan’s upcoming presidential elections will try to court growing religious feeling in the country to win over voters.

Although it remains a secular state in which all citizens have equal rights, religion has been growing steadily in popularity in the Muslim majority republic since independence.

For instance, there are now some 2,500 mosques across Kyrgyzstan, in comparison to only a few dozen in the early 1990s.

This increased interest in Islam has also been associated with growing radicalisation. Some 600 Kyrgyz nationals are known to have travelled to fight in Syria and Iraq.

Aman Saliev, an expert on Islam at the Institute for Strategic Analysis and Forecasting at the Kyrgyz-Russian Slavic University (KRSU), said that the public simply placed greater trust in officials who professed religious belief.

“People commonly associate religiosity with honesty,” Saliev said. “Unfortunately, most of the population has certain stereotypes. They think that if an official or a politician, or any other prominent public person, describes themselves as a religious person, then they must be honest, decent, and probably educated.”

He said that in recent years politicians had begun to gradually introduce religious language into their discourse in an attempt to win believers over.

For instance, one presidential candidate, former prime minister Temir Sariev, recently presented a valuable, 18th century copy of the Koran to the Islamic University of Kyrgyzstan.

His press secretary, Nazira Akhmedova, denied that gift was meant to attract the attention of religious Muslims.

“It was a mere coincidence, this action did not have any special purposes,” she told IWPR. “We do not divide our citizens into Muslims, Christians or other groups. For us they are all the same, we work for everyone, and it's wrong to single out Muslims in the election.”

Saliev disagreed, adding, “The fact that politicians are actively displaying their religiosity during the election campaign shows that religion is a serious indicator of support, or vice versa, lack of support.

“Sometimes, this can be a determining factor. If an ineffective politician portrays himself as a religious figure, his weaknesses are overlooked.”

Chubak azhy Zhalilov, a former mufti of Kyrgyzstan and still an influential religious leader, agreed that “playing on the feelings of believers will be evident in the upcoming presidential and later parliamentary races”.

“For example, I believe that there have been and will be attempts to win the votes through the use of religious figures,” he continued.

Zhalilov noted that after he proclaimed his intention to join a party and run for office during the 2015 parliamentary election campaign, almost all the country’s major parties had approached him. He subsequently decided against it.

Although it remains illegal in Kyrgyzstan to set up a faith-based party, Zhalilov has claimed that the constitution allows him to run for president, although he has made clear he will not run this year.

He said that it was important for people to understand that a religious figure, like any other citizen, had the right to seek political authority.

“But it does not mean that if a mullah comes to power, he will be able to work well,” he conceded. “There may be those among them who would pursue the wrong policy, go in the wrong direction or would not know anything in politics, and such persons should not be allowed to power.”

Prominent politician Ulukbek Ormonov argued that the new interest in religion among the political class was sincere, and simply reflected a countrywide trend.

"But I don’t think that politicians, once they become religious, automatically become clean, start working honestly,” he continued. “It takes time, it's not a quick process.”

Saliev agreed that professions of faith did not necessarily translate into more ethical governance.

“I have not seen how the internal religiosity [of politicians and officials] has encouraged them to fight for the independence of the justice system so that it really works. Such sincere faith should have pushed them for such actions. Unfortunately, our understanding of religion…has more personal interests.”

BALANCING ACT

Current president Almazbek Atambaev has walked a fine line between religion and secularism.

He sometimes refers to the Koran and Islamic principles in his speeches, and in 2015 presented a large plot in a desirable part of Bishkek to build a mosque dedicated to the memory of those killed during the April 2010 revolution.

But the tension between ideologies has remained. In 2011, the opening of an Islamic prayer room in Kyrgyzstan’s parliament raised questions about the principle that state and religion should be kept separate.

(See Kyrgyzstan: Parliamentary Prayer Room Meets With Resistance).

Then last year, controversy erupted after an initiative by lawmakers to formally extend the lunch break for civil servants so that they could take part in Friday prayers.

After consulting religious figures as well as opponents of the initiative, Atambaev finally vetoed the plan on the grounds that would violate the secular nature of the state.

(See also Islam and Secularism Clash Again).

Saliev said that the state needed to take responsibility for this growing interest in Islam, having failed to deliver justice and decent living conditions. Although Kyrgyzstan is Central Asia’s most democratic state, corruption is rife and official institutions have little authority.

 “Ordinary people hope that one day a sector of intellectuals with a sense of conscience will appear, and politicians who will honestly fulfil their duties will emerge. Religion gives hope,” he said.

Despite Islam’s growing influence on public discourse, experts say that it has yet to have much of a tangible impact. 

“Politicians and officials are mostly secular,” said Tamerlan Ibraimov, director of the Centre for Political and Legal Studies. “There is no sign that Islamic principles are being lobbied for in state bodies.”

“It's hard to say whether these trends might lead us to the Malaysian [or] Indonesian model of the state,” Ibraimov continued. “It depends on a number of factors. If we happen to have a technological trend here, an innovative model of business and economic development, then the Islamisation of the population will not have a significant impact on the state or its policy.”

Saliev agreed that Kyrgyzstan was still in the early days of a process.

“It is too soon to say that the increased religiousness of society has made secular institutions surrender their positions,” he said. “We must understand that the modern, global system of law and economy is still secular and we will not avoid it. We are part of this system and we will keep being part of this system for a long time.”

It was down to the state, he argued, to demonstrate the effectiveness and stability of secular governance if it wanted to halt the trend towards religiosity.

 “If secular representatives of our society are really worried and want to preserve this system, this system should be fair and effective for all members of society, not just for a certain group of businessmen and oligarchs," Saliev said. “If the secular scenario does not prove its effectiveness, it will begin to vanish and unfortunately no one will notice.”

For his part, Zhalilov insisted that the effect of Islam playing a larger part in public life had been misunderstood.

 “It does not mean, as some people believe, that we will start wearing Pakistani [religious clothing],” Zhalilov warned. “I believe that a good Muslim country would be the country where we live now, but with no place for corruption, theft, violence. There would be justice in law, freedom of speech and religion.”

iwpr.net/global-voices/kyrgyzstan-election-campaigning-co-opts-islam

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Putra Mosque, The Choice Of Domestic And Foreign Tourists

26/06/2017  

PUTRAJAYA, June 26 (Bernama) -- The beauty and uniqueness of the Putra Mosque and its Islamic architecture here, which resembles the Blue Mosque in Istanbul, Turkey has made it a tourist attraction for domestic and foreign tourists.

An estimated 2,000 visitors visit the mosque located at Precinct 1 daily with tourist buses, rental vans seen parking around it while women visitors lined up to don the robes or jubah before entering the compound.

A tourist from Indonesia, Mohd Budi C Lubis, who is on holiday with his family in Malaysia, described the pink Putra Mosque as attractive and unique with its impressive architectural design that combined traditional Malay and Middle Eastern elements.....

Full story at: bernama.com/bernama/v8/ge/newsgeneral.php?id=1367949

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Jokowi praised for meeting with opposition Muslim organization during Idul Fitri

Jakarta | Mon, June 26, 2017

Jokowi praised for meeting with opposition Muslim organization during Idul Fitri

Tone down: President Joko Widodo (left, second from top) flanked with several ministers, meet with representatives of the GNPF-MUI led by Bachtiar Nasir on Sunday. The group seeks to ease tensions with the government after orchestrating a series of rallies criticizing the administration during the past year. (JP/Anton Hermansyah) (JP/Anton Hermansyah)

President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo was lauded for his decision to meet leaders of the National Movement to Safeguard the Indonesian Ulema Council’s Fatwa (GNPF-MUI), known for its stance against the administration’s policy on national unity, at the State Palace in Jakarta on Monday.

Accompanied by Coordinating Political, Legal and Security Affairs Minister Wiranto, Religious Affairs Minister Lukman Hakim Saifuddin, and State Secretary Pratikno, Jokowi met a GNPF-MUI delegation led by Bachtiar Nasir.

Read also: GNPF-MUI seeks to ease tension with President during Idul Fitri meet

Chairman of the President’s Volunteer Forum (Bara JP) Sihol Manullang praised Jokowi for his willingness to meet the Muslim organization, calling the move a call for the people to move on.

“For the sake of the nation, [President] Jokowi is willing to meet, talk and cooperate with anyone,” Sihol told kompas.com.

It is reported that the GNPF-MUI met the President in hopes of easing tensions and make way for a smoother avenue of communication with the administration.

The organization was the mastermind of a string of mass rallies protesting the leadership of former Jakarta governor Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama, using his backgrounds as a Christian of Chinese descent as one of its objections.

Meanwhile, the government has campaigned for unity despite the nation’s diverse races and religions.

Sihol said he hoped the meeting could help the GNPF-MUI understand the president’s way of thinking.

“Hopefully, Jokowi can also gain useful suggestions from the group,” he added. (kuk/ika)

thejakartapost.com/news/2017/06/26/jokowi-praised-for-meeting-with-opposition-muslim-organization-during-idul-fitri.html

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Europe

Europeans Learn To Live With — and Adapt To — Terror Attacks

AP | Jun 25, 2017, 08.38 PM IST

PARIS: The jihadis' targets in Europe are depressingly repetitive: the Brussels metro, the Champs-Elysees in Paris (twice), tourist-filled bridges in London (twice) and a UK rock concert. And that's just the past few months.

The steady stream of attacks on centers of daily life have drawn pledges from Europeans not to let terrorists change how they live, but in ways large and small they already have.

There is a heightened awareness and quicker reactions, especially in the hardest-hit countries of France, Britain and Belgium, that would have seemed unthinkable just a few years ago.

In Brussels on Tuesday, a 36-year-old Moroccan man shouting "Allahu akbar!" set off a bomb among subway commuters. The bomb didn't detonate in full and a soldier shot him dead.

It was another Muslim, Mohamed Charfih, who demanded that the subway's doors be closed before the attacker could enter.

"I heard people on the platform shouting for help," he told the news site DH. He looked out and knew what he saw. "I screamed to close the doors immediately. I asked to get out of there as fast as possible and that everyone get down on the floor."

That reaction, blocking the door and fleeing, has become part of official instructions on what to do in case of an attack in France. Signs have been posted in public areas and even schools showing people running, ducking beneath a window, or using heavy furniture as a barricade.

Tensions are high enough in central Paris that on Thursday the quick-response police unit reacted to a witness' phone call about a man wearing a sidearm by tackling him on the street, only to learn that he was a ranking member of the anti-terrorism squad, according to French media.

In Britain, decades of IRA attacks prompted the installation of country-wide TV surveillance cameras — one of the most expansive systems in the world. Paris is quickly ramping up its own camera system, to the point where authorities were able this week to track the minute-by-minute path of the man who tried to attack a Champs-Elysee gendarme patrol until the moment he rammed their vehicle. The man died of burns and smoke inhalation — the only casualty of his act — but left behind a substantial arsenal.

Both Britain and France have installed barriers around airports, train stations and other public buildings in recent years. Since the Westminster bridge attack in March, however, talks are underway to install even more barriers on bridges and around crowded places such as London's Borough Market, where three attackers this month went on a stabbing rampage after crashing their vehicle on a busy street not far from London Bridge.

Echoing France, London's security authorities have issued advice to pubs and restaurants since the attacks with the message of "Run, Tell and Hide." The advice includes establishing whether the threat is inside or outside and not waiting for police to decide whether the venue should be locked down or evacuated.

Few British commuters have changed their habits. After suicide bombers in 2005 struck trains and buses during a busy London morning rush-hour, scores of commuters started riding bicycles to work. That method of transport has its own problems in London — with the number of annual cyclist deaths a rising concern.

Three of the four recent attacks, however, have involved the use of a vehicle as a weapon — much like the deadly 2016 Nice attack in France that killed 87 people.

"I suppose I could try taking a boat to work, but before long I'm sure they would attack those too. So I'm just taking my chances," said Rohan Chansity, a 34-year-old finance worker in London.

Parents and teachers are talking to children more about being observant — a skill often lost on a gadget-obsessed generation.

A suicide bomber blew himself up last month at Manchester Arena, killing 22 people, mostly young concert-goers.

"We talk about being observant, looking for exits, making sure you're around a responsible crowd - but in the end, it's not like I'm going to keep her from going to concerts," said Moira Campbell, 45, who has a 15-year-old daughter.

Tourists, too, say they are aware of potential dangers but have refused to be cowed.

Dave Howland, who traveled from New Hampshire to London with his youngest son a few days before the Borough Market attack, said he was conscious of the threat when he went to Shakespeare's Globe theatre, a round wooden venue in the Borough Market area.

"I looked around and didn't see exit signs," said the 47-year-old English teacher who lives in Durham. "But then I looked around and saw this performance and that people were celebrating life. So I thought, we're going to enjoy the moment. London is an incredible city, and life is too short not to enjoy everything you can."

The latest would-be assailant on the Champs-Elysees had an arsenal of firearms in both his car and at home, and France's anti-terrorism prosecutor said disaster was averted only by sheer luck. It was the second attack in less than two months on the famous avenue.

Still, tourists and Parisians still flock to the Champs-Elysees, watched over by camouflaged soldiers carrying automatic rifles. And in Brussels, the day after the fizzled metro bombing, the headlines focused on how to cope with the recent heat wave.

The weather, it seems, is not going away — just like the jihadi threats.

timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/europe/europeans-learn-to-live-with-and-adapt-to-terror-attacks/articleshow/59311598.cms

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Liberal Mosque Founder Vows to Keep It Open Despite Egyptian Fatwa and Death Threats

 

The mosque, founded by Seyran Ates, aims to establish a humanistic, secular and liberal reading of Islam

The founder of a new liberal mosque in Berlin has vowed to keep the building open in the face of death threats and heavy criticism from religious conservatives.

Seyran Ates told The Guardian she was sent “3,000 emails a day full of hate” about the Ibn-Rushd-Goethe Mosque which allows men and women to pray side by side, instead of segregating them.

But the 54-year-old remained defiant. “The pushback I am getting makes me feel that I am doing the right thing,” she said.

Man charged with terrorism-related murder after Finsbury Park attack

Man who died of 'multiple injuries' in Finsbury Park attack named

Open to both Sunni and Shiite worshippers, as well as members of the LGBTQ community, the mosque shares its premises with a protestant church.

But Ms Ates said no-one wearing a niqab or burqa is allowed entry, claiming the garments are a political statement.

The mosque's foundation was condemned by Egypt’s state-run Islamic organisation, Dar al-Ifta al-Masriyyah, which said that men and women praying side by side was incompatible with Islam

The country's al-Azhar university responded to the new institution by issuing a law banning the foundation of liberal mosques.

Diyanet, Turkey’s religious authority, also criticised it.

It said that its practices “do not align with Islam's fundamental resources, principles of worship, methodology or experience of more than 14 centuries, and are experiments aimed at nothing more than depraving and ruining religion".

The religious association linked the mosque to the network of US-based Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen, who Turkish authorities have accused of being behind last year's failed coup.

Ms Ates has denied any connection to Mr Gulen.

Turkey's pro-government Sabah newspaper said the mosque practices "the so-called prayer of the perverse".

Ms Ates, who moved from Turkey to Germany as a child, has criticised the oppression of women in certain Muslim communities and called for liberal values to be upheld.

The German government called Turkish criticism of the new mosque, an interference in freedom of religion and opinion.

"I want to be very clear in rejecting all comments that clearly intend to deprive people in Germany of their right to freely exercise their religion and to limit the right to free expression of opinion," said Martin Schaefer, spokesman for the country's Foreign Ministry

Germany, which is home to an estimated 4 million or more people of Turkish origin, is already at loggerheads with Turkey on a number of issues.

Turkish politicians were barred from campaigning in Germany for a referendum on expanding President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's powers.

Turkey's arrest of a German-Turkish journalist working for a German paper also caused friction between the two nations, as did Turkey's refusal to let German parliamentarians visit an air force base hosting German planes.

Mr Schaefer said it was not for the government to determine how people practiced their religion and that it would protect freedom of worship just as it protected freedom of opinion and press freedom.

independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/liberal-mosque-founder-ibn-rushd-goethe-fatwa-berlin-seyran-ates-death-threats-egypt-turkey-islam-a7808106.html

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Forest Gate Riots: Elderly Muslim Man Comforts Distressed Protestor With A Hug

26/06/2017

Footage of an elderly Muslim man trying to defuse a tense situation during the Forest Gate protests armed with just a hug has emerged online.

Fires were lit and bricks thrown during the unrest in Newham on Sunday evening, in which demonstrators were calling for justice for Edir Frederico Da Costa (known as Edson) who died on June 21, six days after being pulled over by police.

In a clip posted to the Facebook page for Newham People’s Alliance, a visibly upset younger man asks the older gentleman: “Do you know I am to him? I’m his brother. His mum is my mum’s sister.”

The clip shows the elderly Muslim man soothing the younger man with a hug during the protests on Sunday evening

The elder man replies with a hug, telling him: “I’m sorry bruv, I’m sorry. I feel what you’re saying.”

Still agitated, the young man continues: “There was this white police woman and she was laughing at my face. She was laughing at my face, man.” The bearded man allows him to speak, whilst holding his hand and nodding sypathetically.

The clip, which has been viewed more than 16,000 times in less than 24 hours, was posted alongside the comment: “An elderly [man] using hugging technique to defuse tense stand off with police. This is the oldest technique in history. Hug someone angry and he would calm down... #SpreadPeace #spreadLove”

Police officers and protesters clashed over the death of Da Costa on Sunday

Shah Abdul commented: “A hug is very powerful, people just don’t understand or know it. If only people did things like this more often.”

Nida Ahmed added: “This is humanity! One hug can change everything! #Respect.” The older gentleman was also branded a “brave, compassionate man” by Althea Stevens.

Six police officers were injured in the clash with over the death of Da Costa following a traffic stop.

Edir frederico da costa - known as Edson - died on 21 June, six days after being pulled over on a traffic stop

On Monday, the Met said four of the six injured officers were taken to hospital, including a male police sergeant who suffered facial injuries and a female police constable who suffered head injuries.

The force said it was not aware of any members of the public being injured or any property suffering significant damage.

Four people were arrested, one on suspicion of disorder offences and three others on suspicion of arson and criminal damage. They have all been taken to east London police stations where they remain in custody.

Officers help a person on the ground in Romford Road, Forest Gate

After being stopped by police in Woodcocks, Beckton, campaigners claim 25-year-old Da Costa’s neck was broken and he was “brutally beaten”.

But the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC), which is investigating, said a preliminary post-mortem on Thursday indicated there were no spinal injuries caused by police.

Protesters, some carrying Black Lives Matter posters and others with homemade placards which read “Justice for Edson + How Many More???”, marched from Forest Gate to Stratford. 

huffingtonpost.co.uk/entry/elderly-muslim-man-comforts-distressed-forest-gate-protestor-with-a-huge_uk_5950fac7e4b0da2c731cd0e6

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Boy, 13, reported for celebrating London mosque attack

PTI | Jun 25, 2017, 06.26 PM IST

LONDON: A 13-year-old schoolboy has been reported to the UK government's controversial anti-extremism prevent programme for celebrating the van attack on a north London mosque last week and describing it as "wonderful news".

The teenager was reported to the scheme by his school last week. He is thought to have previously displayed racist signs, which were being dealt with by his school, according to The Sunday Times.

It is understood he has an older relative with links to the far-right English Defence League (EDL), it reported.

The stated aim of the Prevent strategy is to safeguard vulnerable young Muslim individuals from being radicalised and relies on intelligence coming from community leaders. But critics argue the strategy is counterproductive and can make individuals feel isolated and more open to radicalisation.

The van attack last Monday killed a man and injured nine others. It led to a marked increase in referrals to Prevent of neo-Nazi sympathisers heard praising the actions of the alleged killer.

"It's not unusual to see a spike in referrals immediately after a significant incident or terrorist attack," William Baldet, a senior Prevent coordinator, told the Times.

"For some people it's a case of joining the dots in the light of an individual's past behaviour," he said.

The van attack followed three ISIS-inspired attacks in three months in London and Manchester that killed 35 people.

In certain regions, such as the Midlands, Yorkshire and south Wales, Neo-Nazis account for a quarter of Prevent cases.

timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/uk/boy-13-reported-for-celebrating-london-mosque-attack/articleshow/59310553.cms

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British Muslims and the need for safe spaces

by Zain Dada and Zainab Rahim

We emerge from within the fumes of a burning London building which has ripped into our sense of home. The criminal state neglect that led to the Grenfell Tower disaster last Wednesday and the post-traumatic aftermath have re-defined what it means to live in safety, to have a community, to hold onto faith.

Where grassroots communities have stepped in to do the work of the authorities, and to undo the long-term damage caused by their supposed protectors, these events have now entirely submerged the rhetoric of ‘British values’. “They’re like pigeon holes,” one woman said. Pigeon holes that were allowed to burn for 36 hours – now housing scores of dead people instead, their life’s possessions obliterated with them.

Not long after this, during our most sacred month and in the serene hours before dawn, we witnessed a violent attack on worshippers leaving a mosque. This news did not get the ‘critical’ terror alert treatment and slipped out of prime television debates, making it clearer to us that we must make space for ourselves, or otherwise remain nameless.

Consider other segments of our society who have been made nameless. Look at how we celebrated the homeless man who cradled a dying woman at the scene of the horrifying explosion in Manchester in May. We identified him repeatedly using this confining ‘homeless’ label, meanwhile failing to ask why homelessness is rising at an unprecedented rate, or why even working teachers are falling into this societal ill fate.

Prime Minister Theresa May has, up until now, been focused on giving her attention to the “single evil of Islamic extremism”. Stepping out of her Downing Street abode earlier this month, she elaborated in vague, yet pointed, language – the effect of which can only be described as toxic – by asserting that we need to have “some difficult, and often embarrassing, conversations” and that we must not be “separated, segregated communities, but as one truly United Kingdom”. Her words have inevitably fuelled the negative sentiments that have characterised the experience of British Muslims from across the spectrum for many years.

Indeed, government policy has pressed on with failing counter-terrorism schemes, even against the warnings of officials. UN special rapporteur Maina Kiai recently released a statement, saying: “The lack of definitional clarity, combined with the encouragement of people to report suspicious activity, have created unease and uncertainty around what can legitimately be discussed in public. It appears that Prevent is having the opposite of its intended effect: by dividing, stigmatising and alienating segments of the population.”

For anyone who identifies as a Muslim in Britain, these events and conversations have highlighted the rising need for cultural and media spaces for our varied communities. Actor and musician Riz Ahmed summarised the embattled feeling of being a young Muslim with the chorus from his 2009 song, ‘Sour Times’: “I’m losing my religion to tomorrow’s headlines.” His words have only gained more poignancy in the past few years.

Fascists, presidents, prime ministers, LBC presenters, the Guardian commentariat and even brands have had something to say – from blatant scaremongering to more subtle modes of alienation. The Sun’s erroneous piece on a Muslim bus driver “accused of fanaticism” cost the newspaper £30,000 in damages, and has been succeeded by almost a weekly stream of inaccuracies. Katie Hopkins’ now infamous diatribes against Muslims, minorities and migrants have come to define her career as an attention-seeking extremist with a mainstream platform.

There are more subtle forms of exclusion at play. Cultural industries continue to be woefully unrepresentative, paying lip service to ‘diversity’. A City University survey in 2015 revealed that 94% of journalists are white, as against 70% of the UK’s working population. Figures in London are even more stark, where 40% of the population is BAME, but just 5.4% of journalists according to Creative Access – and London is where 36% of the whole country’s journalists work.

In addition, the 2015 Writing the Future report investigating diversity in publishing found that more than 74% of those employed by large publishing houses and 97% of agents, believe that the industry is only “a little diverse” or “not diverse at all.” Muslim artists face specific difficulties, for example, the play Homegrown about the radicalisation of young Muslims was suddenly shut down during rehearsals in 2015.

In the face of these challenges, there have been inspirational individuals and groups coming together to provide important spaces for Muslims and wider marginalised communities. From the pioneering work of OOMK Zine and the powerful platform that is Numbi Arts to the transformative Voices That Shake, the unseen, often unpaid, labour of these organisations have done huge amounts for Muslim youth.

Inspired by their work, the Khidr Collective our intervention. A group of young Muslim artists and organisers looking to facilitate a space for communities, particularly young people, to speak and be heard. Named after ‘Khidr’, the wise ascetic in the Qur’an who leads the Prophet Moses through various difficult trials, Khidr’s symbolic presence as a source of wisdom remains ever relevant as a reminder to seek and unveil knowledge in places we might not expect. 

“As a collective we want to explore and celebrate our shared heritage as Muslims,” said Raeesah, aged 25 (writer and member of the Khidr Collective). “It’s about re-defining our histories that are so often narrated for us and clouded by ulterior motives in the process, be it within our communities or beyond. Being a channel and a means to educate Muslim youth of histories they might not be aware of or have access to, is at the core of this project.”

Our elders and the first generations to arrive in Britain weren’t offered space, but created it themselves. They found themselves in a foreign land working together as communities to build mosques and businesses. Today, much to the chagrin of many, from Wembley to Bradford, these communities are thriving. We hope to imbue this collective with those same values: if there isn’t room, you make room. 

“That’s what this zine is all about. A community of outlanders,” said Warda, 22 (writer and member of the collective). I may not get space to pray in a masjid peak jama’at time, but I got a two-page spread to show what being a Muslim woman means to me.”

We are producing a bi-annual magazine “for young Muslims, by young Muslims” seeking to re-address the imbalance. There is an urgent need for young Muslims to have the right resources and platforms of cultural production. This will not only be a chance to rightfully take our place in this exploited space and speak truth to power, but to also celebrate the joy in our communities which is so often unexplored. Beyond that, we recognise how exceptionally valuable our stories and experiences are, and we wish to enable conversations. 

We hope to make this a sustainable space of reprieve, joy and, inevitably, resistance.

So far, we’ve put together an incredible first issue, but we need all the help we can get to print it. That’s why we’ve decided to crowdfund for the project. Your donation will get you an edition of the zine and a ticket to our launch night on Friday 7th July 2017 at the Rich Mix in Bethnal Green, London.

All work published on Media Diversified is the intellectual property of its writers. Please do not reproduce, republish or repost any content from this site without express written permission from Media Diversified. For further information, please see our reposting guidelines.

If you enjoyed reading this article, help us continue to provide more! Media Diversified is 100% reader-funded – you can subscribe for as little as £5 per month here or support us via Patreon here

Zain Dada is the co-founder of the Khidr Collective and poetry editor of the Khidr Zine. He is a writer and poet based in North London. His poetry can be found on wordsapart.blogspot.com. Zain is also a member of Decolonising Our Minds Society.

mediadiversified.org/2017/06/26/british-muslims-and-the-need-for-safe-spaces/

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Clothes are being collected for Muslims since their lives were destroyed by the Grenfell Tower fire

 

The Grenfell Tower fire has led to an appeal for clothes from a woman who has been travelling to help victims in the capital since the tragedy unfolded.

Abigail Bolton, 35, from Dursley, has asked for clothes for the Muslim community and many people have been left with nothing since their homes and lives were destroyed.

One call was made to former Sheriff of Gloucester Said Hansdot who has appealed to the Muslim community to find clothes for the Muslim men, women and children who do not have the clothes that appropriate for their faith and culture.

Former Sheriff of Gloucester Ahmed Said Hansdot has helped collect Muslim women and children clothing to send to Grenfell.

Councillor Hansdot (L, Barton and Tredworth) said: “It was quite a response and people have donated generously.

“New clothes have arrived with tags on and some that have been worn a few times. In total we have had around 30 bags of clothes which have been collected and taken up there today.”

Big Brother's beds are made by a Gloucestershire family

“It is wonderful that people are very generous. It is brilliant that we have been able to help, and we are pleased that the items will be directly donated to the victims of the Grenfell Tower.

“People see these things which have happened and know it is not their fault. We need to remember that we never know what is around the corner - we could be a victim at any time.

Former Sheriff of Gloucester Ahmed Said Hansdot has helped collect Muslim women and children clothing to send to Grenfell.

Said has been collecting for the Penny Appeal in Gloucester continuing to try and bring in much needed funding for the Grenfell Tower victims.

He added: “People have been very generous today donating, people dug deep and we had pound notes put in the buckets as well as coins. People are trying their best to contribute to those in London that need it.”

Abigail Bolton travelled with her son and nephew and called the nearby Tabernacle Church their base for their aid efforts since the blaze. This church has been at the centre of the aid effort since the fire on Wednesday, June 14, which is believed to have killed 79 people.

gloucestershirelive.co.uk/news/gloucester-news/clothes-being-collected-muslims-lives-134387

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Arab World

Mosul celebrates first Eid without Islamic State in years

Reuters | Jun 25, 2017, 06.33 PM IST

MOSUL, Iraq: People in the Iraqi city of Mosul celebrated their first Muslim Eid holiday without Islamic State in years on Sunday after the militants were ejected from much of the city, and hoped the battle to recapture the remaining area would soon be over.

Children gathered in squares on the eastern side of the city. Some played on old swings and others with toy guns and rifles, which were among the toys allowed by Islamic State militants after they took over the city in June 2014.

The militants implemented an extreme version of Islam which associated toys with a face, like dolls, with idolatry. They encouraged youngsters to train on weapons and changed text books to reflect their military ideology. Children were asked to add up bombs or bullets in maths exercises.

Eid prayers were allowed under Islamic State but festivities were not.

But for many, Sunday's Eid celebrations were overshadowed by the destruction of their historic leaning minaret, blown up by the militants on Wednesday, and fears for thousands of civilians trapped in the Old City in western Mosul still under Islamic State control.

"It won't be real Eid before we return home," said a man in his sixties, displaced from the western side of the city, across the Tigris river, where fighting continues.

Some expressed sadness over the destruction of the 850-year-old Grand al-Nuri mosque and its leaning 150-foot (45-metre) minaret.

"Eid is not the same," said a man who declined to give his name as fear is still present even though Iraqi forces dislodged the insurgents from the eastern part of the city months ago.

Iraqi forces took the eastern side from Islamic State in January, after 100 days of fighting, and started attacking the western side in February. The militants are now besieged in Mosul's Old City.

"As our heroic forces are closer to declaring final victory over the Daesh (Islamic State) gangs, I offer my most sincere congratulations for Eid ul-Fitr," Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi said in a statement.

A US-led international coalition is providing air and ground support in the 8-month-old offensive to drive the militants from their de facto capital in Iraq.

About 350 Islamic State fighters, most of them non-Iraqis, are defending their remaining stronghold in Mosul's densely populated Old City, an Iraqi general said on Sunday. He expected the battle for the city to end in days.

TRAPPED

"Most of the dead bodies are foreigners, most of the fighters are foreigners, we see some trying to escape across the Tigris," said Major-General Sami al-Arithi, a Counter Terrorism Service (CTS) commander.

The US-trained urban warfare units are leading the fight in the narrow alleyways of the historic district which lies by the western bank of the Tigris.

More than 50,000 civilians, about half the Old City's population, remain behind Islamic State lines, complicating the troops' advance, Arithi told state TV.

The civilians are trapped in crumbling old houses in harrowing conditions, with little food, water or medicines, according to those who have escaped.

Aid organizations say Islamic State has stopped many from leaving, using them as human shields. Hundreds of civilians fleeing the Old City have been killed in the past three weeks.

Iraqi authorities were hoping to declare victory in the northern city by Eid, a three-day festival which started on Sunday for Mosul's Sunni Muslim population and many Iraqi Shi'ites, celebrating the end of the fasting month of Ramzan.

Arithi said the CTS were about 25 meters (yards) from the Nuri mosque, from where Islamic State's leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi proclaimed his "caliphate" over parts of Iraq and Syria three years ago.

The Iraqi government once hoped to take Mosul by the end of 2016, but the fighting has dragged on as the militants reinforced positions in civilian areas, launched suicide car bomb attacks, laid traps and kept up sniper and mortar fire.

The fall of Mosul would mark the end of the Iraqi half of the "caliphate". Islamic State remains in control of large areas of both Iraq and Syria.

Baghdadi has left the fighting in Mosul to local commanders and has been assumed to be hiding in the Iraqi-Syrian border area. There has been no confirmation of Russian reports over the past week that he has been killed.

In Syria, the insurgents' "capital", Raqqa, is nearly encircled by a US-backed, Kurdish-led coalition.

timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/middle-east/mosul-celebrates-first-eid-without-islamic-state-in-years/articleshow/59310605.cms

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Islamic State 'fighting for their lives' not directing terror attacks on the west, global coalition says

 

London: Islamic State militants trapped in their besieged Syrian and Iraqi capitals Raqqa and Mosul are "fighting for their lives" and not plotting terror attacks on the west, the spokesman for the global coalition fighting IS in the Middle East says.

But Major General Rupert Jones said exposing the fundamentalists' narrative was critical as it has inspired numerous attacks across Europe, including three in three months in London, all of which IS has claimed responsibility for.

Speaking to international journalists in London via video link in Baghdad, the Major General said Mosul is poised to fall with the militants blowing up the Al Nuri mosque, where leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi declared the caliphate in 2014, last week. He said the destruction of the mosque was a sign of the militants' desperation and showed that they did not value religion.

"Daesh are under extraordinary pressure and when you're under pressure in Raqqa and when you're under pressure in Mosul, trust me what you're not doing is sitting there plotting attacks into Europe and elsewhere," he said.

"You are fighting for your life. That is what Daesh are doing right now, so that means their ability to plan and direct attacks is very significantly derailing."

London has suffered three terrorist attacks in as many months. In March, Khalid Masood killed five people and injured 50 more when he drove a car into pedestrians on Westminster Bridge. He then stabbed to death a policeman Keith Palmer who was guarding the parliament before he himself was shot dead, in an attack that lasted just 82 seconds.

In April, 22-year old Salman Abedi killed 22 people attending an Ariana Grande concert in Manchester by detonating a homemade bomb. Abedi is the son of Libyan refugees. His father and brother are in custody in Tripoli and the possibility that Abedi was radicalised by ISIS in Libya has not been ruled out.

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In June, three men, 22-year-old Youssef Zaghba, from east London and an Italian national of Morrocan descent, 27-year old Khuram Butt, a British citizen of Barking but Pakistani by birth and 30-year old Rachid Redouane also from Barking killed eight people in an attack lasting as many minutes.

Their victims included Australian nurse Kirsty Boden and au pair Sara Zelenak. The attack began when they rammed a rented white van into people on London Bridge and embarked on a mass stabbing attack on people enjoying a Saturday night out at Southwark's popular Borough Market. Eyewitnesses report hearing the men saying "this is for Allah" before carrying out their murder.

The Major General acknowledged that the attacks on innocent people in Europe were "inspired" rather than directed by IS, which means that exposing their philosophy is just as important as rooting them out of their Middle Eastern strongholds.

"What we are doing, with the global coalition, is exposing Daesh's narrative for the lie that it is," he said.  This, combined with cooperation from Turkey in sealing the border, had "dried up" the flow of foreign fighters from a peak of 1,500 per month in January 2015, he said.

"People do not want to buy into this narrative, because they know how it ends."

The global coalition has repeatedly said that the fall of Mosul would only be a matter of time but the battle, which began in October last year, has been increasingly protracted.

Following a visit to east Mosul last week, the Major General said he was optimistic, that despite the destruction the fighting has caused in the city, locals would be able to return home as seen in other parts of Iraq including in the liberated cities of Ramadi and Fallujah.

"Progress from the positive green shoots I saw when I was last there in March was hugely encouraging."

"Day by day the city is returning to normality - security is good, allowing Iraqi forces to reduce their profile."

He said the markets he visited were "humming with activity and trade".

"Frankly I could have been anywhere in the Middle East."

watoday.com.au/world/isis-fighting-for-their-lives-not-directing-terror-attacks-on-the-west-global-coalition-says-20170626-gwz1ia.html

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US-backed Syrian groups take Raqqa district from Islamic State

Coalition of Kurdish and Arab groups advances against Islamic State in jihadis' self-proclaimed Syrian capital of Raqqa, liberating Qadisia district after three days of intense fighting • Turkey-backed Syrian rebels have also taken territory from ISIS.

Reuters and Israel Hayom Staff

A Syrian Democratic Forces armored vehicle west of Raqqa, Syria, last week | Photo credit: Reuters

A U.S.-backed Syrian coalition of Kurdish and Arab groups advanced against Islamic State in the jihadis' Syrian capital of Raqqa on Sunday, taking the Qadisia district, they said.

The Syrian Democratic Forces began its assault on Raqqa earlier this month after a long campaign to isolate Islamic State inside the city.

It took Qadisia, located in the west of Raqqa, after three days of intense fighting, it said in a statement on one of its official social media feeds.

The SDF has pushed Islamic State from swathes of northern Syria over the past 18 months. Turkey-backed Syrian rebels have also taken territory from it and the Syrian army has this year advanced rapidly against it in desert areas.

The U.S.-backed coalition has supported SDF advances against the jihadi group throughout the Raqqa campaign with artillery and airstrikes, including some against Islamic State leaders.

This month, the coalition said its airstrikes had killed Turki Binali, a Bahraini cleric who was the group's top religious authority and the most senior known Gulf Arab in Islamic State.

It also said last week it killed Fawaz al-Rawi, who it said was an important Islamic State financier, in an airstrike in Syria.

However, coalition airstrikes have also caused large numbers of civilian casualties, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a Britain-based war monitor.

It said on Saturday that coalition airstrikes in and around Raqqa had killed nearly 700 civilians so far this year. The coalition says it works hard to avoid killing civilians and investigates all reports that it has done so.

israelhayom.com/site/newsletter_article.php?id=43371

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Islamic State counterattacks west Mosul areas captured by Iraq

By Andrew V. Pestano,  June 26 2017

Iraqi security forces repelled Islamic State counterattacks launched on Sunday targeting areas that were previously captured by the government's military in west Mosul. File Photo by Ahmed Jalil/EPA

June 26 (UPI) -- Iraqi military officials said security forces repelled counterattacks launched by the Islamic State in previously captured areas of west Mosul.

Iraqi officials said the Islamic State deployed suicide bombers in numerous parts of the city on Sunday. The militants launched attacks in the districts of Rajim Hadid, Yarmuk and Tanak, where Iraq's counter-terrorism forces repelled an attack.

Several civilians and security forces died in the attacks and dozens of families evacuated the districts, Rudaw reported. Iraqi military officials later said "the situations are under control."

Iraq launched its military offensive to retake western Mosul from the Islamic State on Feb. 19. The offensive to retake Mosul began Oct. 17, led by Iraqi security forces and aided by the Kurdish Peshmerga, a Shiite-led militia, and the U.S.-led international coalition. Iraq captured east Mosul in late January.

The focus of the offensive is to capture Mosul's Old City, the last area under the Islamic State's control in Mosul. The counterattacks occurred after about 20 Islamic State militants escaped from the Old City and attacked other areas, BBC News reported.

The Islamic State last week destroyed Mosul's al-Hadba minaret and the 845-year-old Great Mosque of al-Nuri, or Noor mosque, where leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi is believed to have declared the Islamic State caliphate.

upi.com/Top_News/World-News/2017/06/26/Islamic-State-counterattacks-west-Mosul-areas-captured-by-Iraq/7661498478285/?utm_source=sec&utm_campaign=sl&utm_medium=2

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Israel attacks Syrian posts after cross-border fire

Reuters | Jun 25, 2017, 09.57 PM IST

A picture taken from the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights shows smoke billowing from the Syrian side of the bord... Read More

JERUSALEM: Israel said it had attacked Syrian military targets on Sunday after stray shells from fighting in Syria's civil war landed inside the Israeli-controlled Golan Heights.

The Syrian shells hit an open area in the northern Golan Heights, causing no injuries, and in retaliation the Israeli military said it "targeted two artillery positions and an ammunitions truck belonging to the Syrian regime".

It was the second day in a row that errant fire from Syria drew Israeli retaliation.

Israel has largely stayed on the sidelines of Syria's civil war, keeping watch over the Golan Heights frontier and occasionally carrying out air strikes or returning fire if there is a specific threat. It captured the Golan in a 1967 Middle East war.

timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/middle-east/israel-attacks-syrian-posts-after-cross-border-fire/articleshow/59312387.cms

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More Civilians Killed, Wounded in US-Led Coalition Airstrikes in Northeastern Syria

 

TEHRAN (FNA)- Over 20 civilians have been killed or injured in the US-led coalition air raids on in Raqqa province, local sources reported.

The sources reported that the US-led coalition warplanes carried out several combat flights over different neighborhoods of Raqqa city to back up the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), killing a child and injuring 12 others mostly women and children.

In the meantime, 8 civilians were killed and several more were wounded in another air raid of the fighter jets in Raqqa.

Human Rights Watch active in Syria said on Saturday that almost 500 civilians were killed in the US-led collation air raids in Syria last month.

The Human Rights Watch reported that 472 civilians, including 137 children lost their lives in the US-led coalition warplanes' attacks in Syria form May 23 till June 23. 

Relevant reports said on Tuesday that over a dozen other Syrian civilians were killed in another US-led coalition air raid in areas near the border with Iraq.

"At least 12 civilians have reportedly been killed after US coalition fighter jets struck a number of targets in a village next to the Syrian-Iraqi border," eyewitnesses disclosed.

According to the report, the US-led anti-ISIL coalition warplanes have launched a series of air raids in Hasaka province. In one of the strikes, the bombers struck Tel Hayr village near the Syrian-Iraqi border, killing 12 people, all belonging to one family.

Meantime, the United Nations war crimes investigators reported that the US-led coalition's aerial back up for the SDF to take control of Raqqa from ISIL have thus far killed hundreds of civilians and displaced tens of thousands more.

The UN investigators said that intensified US-led coalition air raids on ISIL's strongholds in Raqqa are causing a "staggering loss of civilian life".

Paulo Pinheiro, chairman of the UN Commission of Inquiry, said that intensified coalition airstrikes have killed at least 300 civilians in the Syrian Northern city of Raqqa since March.

He added that "we note in particular that the intensification of air strikes, which have paved the ground for an SDF advance in Raqqa, has resulted not only in staggering loss of civilian life, but has also led to 160,000 civilians fleeing their homes and becoming internally displaced."

Lama Fakih, deputy Middle East director at Human Rights Watch (HRW) said that "the battle for Raqqa is not just about defeating ISIS (ISIL or Daesh), but also about protecting and assisting the civilians who have suffered under ISIL rule for three and a half years.”

“Coalition members and local forces should demonstrate concretely that the lives and rights of hundreds of thousands of civilians in Raqqa are a parallel priority in the offensive,” Fakih added.

Pentagon chief James Mattis has recently said that the US is “accelerating the tempo” of the fight against ISIL, and that civilian deaths should be anticipated as a “fact of life”.

The comments came after new figures from war monitor the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights found that the last four-week period was the deadliest for Syrian civilians on record since the US-led coalition bombing campaign began in 2014.

Meanwhile, UN Emergency Relief Coordinator Stephen O'Brien announced that over 100 Syrian civilians have been killed as a result of the airstrikes of the US-led coalition in the provinces of Raqqa and Deir Ezzur in recent weeks.

Based on reports, since the first days of 2017 hundreds of civilians have been killed in the US-led coalition's airstrikes in Syria and Iraq.

The US army had previously claimed that only 220 civilians were killed in the air attacks of the coalition under its command in Syria and Iraq since 2014.

The US command also noted that it could not investigate all reports of possible civilian casualties using “traditional investigative methods,” which involves interviewing witnesses and examining the site of the strike.

Instead, the coalition interviewed pilots and servicemen that took part in combat missions to draw results. The US command also reviewed strike surveillance videos and analyzed government and non-governmental organizations’ traditional and social media content.

en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13960405000433

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Damascus: Israeli Airstrikes on Syrian Army Positions Done in Support of Terrorists

 

TEHRAN (FNA)- General Command of the Syrian Armed Forces said that the Israeli air raids on the Syrian Army troops' positions in Quneitra province are desperate attempts to support terrorist groups in war-hit country.

In a statement, the General Command said that after the army units managed to repel the wide-scale attack carried out by Al-Nusra Front (also known as Fatah al-Sham Front or the Levant Liberation Board) terrorists near the town of al-Ba'ath in Quneitra countryside, the Israeli enemy attacked a Syrian military position in Quneitra in a desperate attempt to support terrorist groups and raise their fading morale.

The General Command warned against the risks posed by such hostile acts and held the Israeli enemy responsible for the serious repercussions if such acts reoccur under any pretext, affirming determination to crush terrorist groups which are the "Israeli enemy’s proxy in the region".

Local sources disclosed on Sunday that several terrorists, who had been wounded in the battle with the Syrian government forces in Quneitra province, were taken to an Israeli hospital.

The sources reported that a number of injured members of Al-Nusra Front were transferred to the Israeli hospitals via al-Hamidiyeh region in Quneitra countryside.

The army troops repelled Al-Nusra Front's offensives in the Southwestern province of Quneitra, leaving tens of terrorists dead and many more wounded. Later, the Israeli aircraft attacked the Syrian government forces' tanks and artillery positions South-West of the war-hit country.

This is not the first time that Al-Nusra terrorists have been transferred to Israeli hospital after sustaining injuries in clashes with the army soldiers.

In September and November 2016, tens of wounded fighters of Fatah al-Sham (formerly know as the Al-Nusra) Front were transferred from Quneitra battlefields to Israeli hospitals in the occupied Golan Heights, as several Israeli ambulances entered Syria's Southern province of Quneitra and transferred those terrorists injured in clashes with Syrian Army troops to their hospitals in the occupied part of the Golan Heights.

Also, scores of fighters of Fatah al-Sham succumbed to their injuries in Israeli hospitals and their bodies were handed over to the Takfiri terrorists in Syria's Quneitra.

Fatah al-Sham received these bodies and transferred them to its own field-hospital in the village of Jabata al-Khashab near Quneitra city.

In October, sources disclosed that Fatah al-Sham Front dispatched its wounded members to Israeli and Jordanian Hospitals via Syria's Southern borders.

en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13960405000422

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Yemeni Forces Hit Saudi-Led Warship off Coast of Mukha

 

TEHRAN (FNA)- A military source confirmed that a Saudi-led coalition warship was targeted by the Yemeni forces off the coast of Mukha port city.

Al-Masireh tv network quoted the military source as saying that the Yemeni navy forces managed to target a warship of the Saudi-led coalition off the coast of Mukha port city in Ta’iz Province.

The sources further added that as Saudi Arabia's deadly campaign prevented the Yemeni patients from travelling abroad for treatment and blocked the entry of medicine into the war-torn country, and continued hitting residential areas across Yemen, the Yemeni navy forces, in a retaliatory move, targeted their warship.

More than 10 warships have been hit by the Yemeni army and popular committees since the start of the military operations conducted in reaction to the Riyadh and its allies aggression.

Also over 10 military boats have so far been targeted during the period by the Yemeni forces.

The Yemeni army and Popular Committees last hit a Saudi-led warship in waters off the Southwestern province of Ta'iz in mid-June.

Local military sources announced that the warship was in the Yemeni territorial water, near the port city of Mukha in Ta'iz, when was targeted by the allied forces confronting the Saudi-led aggression on Yemen.

A warship of the Saudi-led forces was also destroyed mid-March after hitting a sea-mine laid by the Yemeni army and popular forces in the coastal waters of Ta'iz province.

"The Saudi-led warship was destroyed in the city of al-Mukha in Ta'iz province in Southwestern Yemen," a Yemeni military source said, adding that all crew members of the warship were killed in the explosion.

In late February, Yemen's army and popular forces targeted and destroyed a Saudi warship in al-Hudayda coastal waters with a guided missile.

The Saudi warship was precisely targeted by the Yemeni missile in al-Hudayda province as the vessel was trying to get close to al-Khokheh coastal waters.

The sunken ship had repeatedly fired rockets at residential areas in Ta'iz province, inflicting casualties and destruction.

Yemen's army and popular forces targeted and destroyed a Saudi warship with 176 crews and naval forces in the waters near Bab al-Mandab Strait in late January.

The Saudi warship dubbed as 'Al-Madina' was targeted by Yemeni missiles in Mukha coastal waters.

Saudi Arabia has been striking Yemen since March 2015 to restore power to fugitive president Mansour Hadi, a close ally of Riyadh. The Saudi-led aggression has so far killed at least 14,100 Yemenis, including hundreds of women and children.

The World Health Organization (WHO) also announced that a cholera epidemic has killed some 1,310 people in Yemen since late April as the war-torn country is facing the "world's worst cholera outbreak", warning that as many as 300,000 could get infected by the end of August.

Despite Riyadh's claims that it is bombing the positions of the Ansarullah fighters, Saudi bombers are flattening residential areas and civilian infrastructures.

According to several reports, the Saudi-led air campaign against Yemen has driven the impoverished country towards humanitarian disaster.

Nearly 3.3 million Yemeni people, including 2.1 million children, are currently suffering from acute malnutrition. The Al-Saud aggression has also taken a heavy toll on the country’s facilities and infrastructure, destroying many hospitals, schools, and factories.

en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13960405000404

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Suicide-Bomber Attacks ISIL Commanders in Western Iraq

 

TEHRAN (FNA)- An Iraqi security source in Anbar province confirmed that an ISIL suicide-bomber detonated himself at a gathering of a number of the terrorist group's commanders, killing several leaders of the terrorist group.

The source said that a suicide attacker detonated his explosives at a meeting of ISIL leader in the town of al-Qa'em in Western Anbar, killing a number of ISIL commanders and wounding several others.

The source added that the suicide attack was carried out after the group's defeats in Mosul city and resumption of the Iraqi forces' operation to liberate Western regions of Anbar.

Media sources reported on Saturday that less than 200 militants of ISIL terror group were in Mosul as Iraqi forces prepare for a decisive storming of the city center.

"The Daesh (ISIS or ISIL) occupies only 500 square meters [approximately 5,382 square feet ] in the center of the old city, where no more than 200 radicals, including snipers and suicide attackers, are staying," the sources said, as quoted by the Al-Arabiya broadcaster.

The broadcaster noted that the Iraqi forces from various structures, including elite anti-terror units, are deployed near the landmark al-Nuri mosque, which was reported Wednesday to have been blown up by the ISIL militants.

The countdown has started for accomplishing the recapture of the Western part of the strategic city of Mosul from the ISIL as Iraq's joint military forces have laid full siege on the terrorists.

Iraqi government forces pushed deeper in Mosul’s militant-held district of Old City as they are battling to purge ISIL Takfiri militants out of their last bastion in the country’s second largest city, warning civilians to stay inside and telling terrorists to “surrender or die.”

Iraqi forces battled their way along two streets in the heart of Mosul's Old City to open routes for civilians to flee ISIL's last stand district.

Baghdad is hoping to declare victory in the Northern Iraqi city in the Eid al-Fitr holiday, which marks the end of the holy month of Ramadan.

The ISIL militants committed another historical crime on Wednesday by blowing up the al-Nuri mosque and its historical al-Hadba minaret.

Mosul's al-Nuri mosque is highly symbolic because it was there that leader of the ISIL group, Ibrahim al-Samarrai, also known as Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, declared himself the so-called caliphate of the Takfiri terrorist group, shortly after the flashpoint city fell to militants in June 2014 and became their de facto capital in Iraq.

The Iraqi operation to recapture Mosul, the key ISIL stronghold in Iraq, began in October 2016 and resulted in the liberation of Mosul’s Eastern part this January. Fighting continues in the city's West, with Iraqi forces trying to liberate the Old City.

en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13960404001207

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Iraqi Volunteer Forces Continue to Hit ISIL at Border with Syria

 

TEHRAN (FNA)- The Iraqi Popular Mobilization Units (PMU), commonly known as Hashd al-Shaabi, continued their anti-terrorism operation at border with Syria, inflicting major losses on the terrorists.

Hashd al-Shaabi targeted a drone of ISIL at Iraq's border with Syria.

The Iraqi popular forces targeted a bomb-laden drone of ISIL terrorists near Hashd al-Shaabi positions.

Hashd al-Shaabi's missile units, meantime, targeted three military vehicles of ISIL at border with Syria.

The Syrian government forces, backed up by volunteer fighters from popular defense groups, have linked up with Iraqi army troops for the first time in years after they took control of a vast territory in Syria’s semi-arid Southeastern region of al-Badiyeh (desert) in mid-June.

The head of the Britain-based monitoring group, Rami Abdurrahman, said the link between Iraqi and Syrian forces will allow Iraqi army soldiers and volunteer fighters from the Popular Mobilization Units, commonly known by their Arabic name, Hashd al-Shaabi, to move inside Syria and help the Syrian government's campaign against ISIL in the Eastern province of Deir Ezzur.

The Iraqi army forces continued their military advances against ISIL terrorists and managed to take control of al-Waleed crossing and a strip along Iraq's borders with Syria and Jordan few days ago.

The Iraqi forces under the joint command headquarters started a massive military operation dubbed as 'al-Fajr' to take control of the border strip.

The military operation took place with the participation of border guards, tribal forces and back up of the Iraqi fighter jets.

Al-Waleed is close to the al-Tanf border crossing on the common border, which is the key to the Baghdad-Damascus Highway and also links up to the main Baghdad-Amman route.

ISIL seized al-Waleed in May 2015, almost a year into its deadly terror campaign in Syria and Iraq. It used the bridgehead to expand its grip there to the entirety of the common border.

Syrian forces are also advancing toward al-Tanf, where the US forces have been based since last year on a mission to train anti-Damascus militants.

The first units of the Syrian Army troops and popular forces continued to advance against the terrorist groups in Syria's Badiyeh and deployed at the borders with Iraq Northeast of al-Tanf border-crossing mid-June.

According to a military source, deployment of the Syrian forces at the border with Iraq along with the final operation of the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) in Raqqa and simultaneous advances of the Syrian soldiers from Southeastern Aleppo towards Western Raqqa will have such positive impacts on the trend of the liberation of Raqqa and Deir Ezzur cities that will end in the collapse of the ISIL front in the two regions in coming weeks.

ISIL terrorists in Raqqa and Deir Ezzur are under the siege of the SDF from the Northern and Western directions and the army and its allies form the South and South-West, while the Iraqi army and the volunteer forces of Hashd al-Shaabi have laid siege on ISIL in Raqqa and Deir Ezzur from Iraq's Western border.

en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13960405000601

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South Asia

ISIS says Taliban betraying Islam, declares war

ANI | Jun 25, 2017, 11.44 PM IST

KABUL: The Islamic State has declared war on Taliban militants in Afghanistan as it called the latter "hypocrites and stooges of the unbelievers".

An ISIS commander, in a statement, said Taliban militants are betraying Islam and that they should be killed everywhere and their properties should be seized, reports Tasnim news agency.

Last year in August, Afghan Taliban Spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said that the group is resolved to target ISIS members.

Afghanistan has long been facing instability due to continued fighting between the government forces and the Taliban, which seized vast territories in the Afghan rural areas. Also, recently the presence of ISIS forces in Afghanistan even though limited to a small area has further added to its problems.

timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/south-asia/isis-says-taliban-betraying-islam-declares-war/articleshow/59313982.cms

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Taliban attack checkpost near India-made dam in Afghanistan, kill 10 policemen

Agencies | Updated: Jun 25, 2017

At least 10 cops were killed in a Taliban attack in Afghanistan on Saturday night.

The attack took place at a checkpost near India-made Salma dam.

The Afghan-India Friendship Dam, earlier known as Salma Dam, was inaugurated last year.

Taliban attack checkpost near India-made dam in Afghanistan, kill 10 policemen

KABUL: At least 10 policemen were killed and four others injured on Saturday night when Taliban militants attacked a checkpost near India-made Salma dam in Afghanistan's Herat province.

"A group of Taliban militants attacked the checkpoint near Salma dam in Chasht district and fled after killing the policemen," a security official said.

Jelani Farhad, spokesman for the governor of the western Herat province, said the Taliban attacked late Saturday, setting off a gunbattle in which five insurgents were killed.

The Taliban have steadily expanded their reach across Afghanistan since US and international forces formally concluded their combat mission at the end of 2014, switching to a support and counterterrorism role.

In an address on Sunday marking the start of Eid al-Fitr, a major Muslim holiday, President Ashraf Ghani reiterated his call for the Taliban to return to peace talks.

Afghan-India Friendship Dam

Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Afghan President Ashraf Ghani in June 2016 jointly inaugurated the Salma dam, a Rs 1,700 crore showpiece infrastructure project by India in strategically important Herat province, reflecting India's strong commitment to reconstruction of the war-ravaged country.

The Afghan-India Friendship Dam, earlier known as Salma Dam, on the river Chist-e-Sharif in western Herat neighbouring Iran, irrigates 75,000 hectares of land and will generate 42MW of power.

Touted as a "landmark" infrastructure project, the dam located 165km east of Herat town, is expected to significantly boost the agricultural economy of the province.

timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/south-asia/taliban-attack-india-made-dam-in-afghanistan-kill-10-policemen/articleshow/59309625.cms

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Suicide bomber shot dead in Nangarhar province

By KHAAMA PRESS - Mon Jun 26 2017

A suicide bomber was shot dead by the security forces before he manage to carry out an attack on the provincial officials.

According to the local security officials, the incident took place early on Sunday in Ghani Khel district of Nangarhar.

The officials further added that the suicide bomber was looking to detonate his explosives among the government officials during the first day of Eid but was recognized and shot dead by the security forces.

The provincial police commandment in a statement also confirmed that the suicide bomber was shot dead before carrying an attack around 9 am in the vicinity of Ghani Khel district.

The statement further added that only the suicide bomber was killed in the incident and no one else was hurt.

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

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

This comes as an anti-ISIS operation is underway in Nangarhar to eliminate the presence of ISIS affiliates in this province.

The US forces based in Afghanistan are also providing support to the Afghan forces during the operations, mainly involving airstrikes.

khaama.com/suicide-bomber-shot-dead-in-nangarhar-province-03023

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Khost tribal elder gunned down in mosque

ByMohammad Haroon On Jun 26, 2017

KHOST (Pajhwok): A tribal elder was gunned down on Monday morning by unknown gunmen inside a mosqueinfo-icon in the Alisher Tirazai district of southeastern Khost province, witnesses said.

The elder, Habib Shah Khan, was offering morning prayer at the village mosque when two gunmen entered the mosque and opened fire, killing the elder on the spot, a resident Shah Mohammad, told Pajhwok Afghan News

He said the attackers fled after killing Khan.

Another resident, Mohammad Nazir, said Khan had been involved in resolving tribal disputes and had no personal enmity.

No one has claimed responsibility for the murder and local officials have not yet commented on the incident.

pajhwok.com/en/2017/06/26/khost-tribal-elder-gunned-down-mosque

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North America

Trump ends White House Ramadan dinner tradition, first hosted by Thomas Jefferson in 1805

June 26, 2017   

Donald Trump has broken a White House tradition first established by Thomas Jefferson in 1805, which saw presidents hosting an Iftar meal during Ramadan.

This year was the first time in almost two decades that the occupant of the White House has not invited politicians, diplomats and Muslim leaders to dine after sunset during the Islamic holy month.

The gesture, which acknowledges the fasting endured by dutiful Muslims, stretches back to an Iftar Jefferson hosted for the Tunisian ambassador over 200 years ago.

Its modern incarnation began in 1996 when First Lady Hilary Clinton hosted a celebration of Eid al-Fitr, which marks the end of Ramadan.

Since 1999, Presidents Clinton, Bush II and Obama have honoured the convention of hosting a fast-breaking meal every year – showing solidarity with Muslims in America and across the globe.

Ramadan has now been and gone without Trump hosting an Iftar – a notable fact in light of the controversy sparked by the 45th president's attempts to ban travel to the US from several predominately Muslim nations.

"It is disappointing because that's been a good tradition," Imam Talib Shareef of Nation's Mosque in Washington, DC, told Newsweek.

"To stop it doesn't send a good message. You get the chance to go golfing and all this other kind of stuff. How come you don't have time for a population of your society that needs some assistance? The message that it sends is that we're not that important," he added.

Trump has not hosted a special Ramadan mealREUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

A statement by Trump released on the White House at the beginning of Ramadan (25 June) gave his best wishes to Muslims around the world during the fasting period.

However, the message was dominated by references to global security and terrorist attacks committed by Muslims. It also touched on his 20-22 May diplomatic mission to the Middle East.

Since Trump made his pit stop in Saudi Arabia, the region has been rocked by a diplomatic crisis in which the Saudis – along with the UAE, Egypt and Bahrain – cut ties with the Qatari government, who they accuse of supporting terrorism.

Saudi Arabia's King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud meets with U.S. President Donald Trump during a reception ceremony in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, May 20, 2017.Reuters

Within days of the fallout, Trump post a tweet in which he appeared to claiming responsibility for the regional tensions, while vocalising support for the Saudi position.

But Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has since clarified the US's take on the crisis, urging Qatar's neighbours to ease the restrictions.

Trump's reputation for insensitivity towards the world's 1.8bn Muslims will only have been cemented by his breaking with the Iftar tradition, according to Shareef.

He said: "That was an opportunity for him to really say something to help bridge, but it actually caused more of a distance."

ibtimes.co.uk/trump-ends-white-house-ramadan-dinner-tradition-first-hosted-by-thomas-jefferson-1805-1627831

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Ohio government sites hacked with pro-Islamic State message

June 26, 2017

Government websites in the state of Ohio on Sunday were defaced with pro-Islamic State messages.

The hacked websites displayed a message, purportedly from IS supporters, against a black-and-white background reminiscent of the IS flag.

The website of Ohio Governor John Kasich was one of the targets of the attacks, and it was reportedly down for maintenance for some time on Sunday before coming back online. A picture of the message was posted by Ohio Senate candidate Josh Mandel.

"You will be held accountable Trump, you and all your people for every drop of blood flowing in Muslim countries," said the message, which also included a call to prayer and finished: "I love Islamic state."

View image on Twitter

 Follow

 Josh Mandel @JoshMandelOhio

OH Dept of Corrections website right now, this is what you see. Wake up freedom-loving Americans. Radical Islam infiltrating the heartland.

9:48 PM - 25 Jun 2017

  51 51 Retweets   49 49 likes

Other affected websites included the Ohio Office of Health Transformation, the Ohio Department of Medicaid, the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Corrections, the Ohio Inspector General and the website belonging to Ohio first lady Karen Kasich.

"All affected servers have been taken offline and we are investigating how these hackers were able to deface these websites," Tom Hoyt, chief communications officer for Ohio's Department of Administrative Services, told CBS News. "We also are working with law enforcement to better understand what happened."

Representatives for Gov. Kasich didn't immediately respond to a request for comment

cnet.com/news/ohio-government-sites-hacked-with-pro-islamic-state-message/

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3,000 N.L. Muslims gather for Eid celebrations at Jack Byrne Arena

Jun 26, 2017

Muslims in the St. John's area joined with others around the world in celebrating Eid Sunday — the festival that marks the end of the Islamic month of Ramadan.

The celebration at Jack Byrne Arena Sunday morning began with prayers and then a meet and greet with tea, coffee, and snacks.

New mosque desperately needed in St. John's

'Happy Eid!': Justin Trudeau tweets to Newfoundland boys celebrating end of Ramadan

"After prayer, we had refreshments, and after refreshments they put out some bouncy castles for kids to play on," Reem Abu-Hendi said.

The local celebration is huge — about 3,000 Muslims packed the Jack Byrne Arena early Sunday morning.

Reem Abu-Hendi

For Reem Abu-Hendi it's amazing to see 3,000 members of the St. John's Muslim community in one place. (Alyson Samson/CBC)

"The community at first, was not that large so like the mosque used to accommodate us but now it's really big like 3,000 people in one place, it's amazing," she said.

"Just to see all the Muslims in one place, it's a great feeling." Abu-Hendi said.

Ramadan is a sacred time for Muslims, who believe that it was when the Qur'an — the holy book — was revealed through the prophet Muhammad.

"It's 30 days but this year it happened to be 29 because of the moon,"  Ayamen Shaawen said.

The month, which started this year May 26, includes dawn-to-dusk fasting, and ends with a religious holiday called Eid.

"It's more of a self discipline thing."

- Ayamen Shaawen

"We fast from 3 a.m. until 9 p.m. so it's 18 hours a day," Abu-Hendi said.

The fasting can be challenging, but that's what makes it worthwhile, she said.

"Your body just gets adjusted to it, and I would say it's thirst more than hunger, so you can usually go about your daily activities but around 6 p.m.-7 p.m., I'm done," she said.

Without food all day, you'd think there might be a lot of cranky people walking around who are "hangry," but Abu-Hendi says it's all about willpower.

"Ramadan teaches you patience and self-control. If we lose to anger we could break our fast," she said.

"It's more of a self-discipline thing," Shaawen said.

Ayse Sule

Ayse Sule volunteered to get up at the crack of dawn to set up the Jack Byrne Arena for the Eid celebration. (Alyson Samson/CBC)

Volunteers who set up the event get up at the crack of dawn to prepare the arena for the 3,000 attendees.

"It's a big challenge for those who volunteer to organize it. Before we had a smaller community and our mosque was able to accommodate the size of our community but not anymore," said organizer Ayse Sule.

"It's a team effort," said Moein Shahwan, vice-resident of the Muslim Association of Newfoundland and Labrador.

"It brings lots of richness to our community and we are proud of it," Sule said.

cbc.ca/news/canada/newfoundland-labrador/eid-2017-jack-byrne-arena-1.4177308

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India

Tripura Muslims pray for world peace ahead of Eid

Mon, 26 Jun 2017-06:33pm , ANI

Thousands of Muslims gathered at the Gedu Mia Mosque at Tripura?s Agartala on the eve of Eid-Ul-Fitr to offer morning prayers to mark the end of Ramadan.

Chief cleric of the mosque Maulana Abdul Rehaman, read out the special prayer for global peace.

He said that Islam teaches love and brotherhood amongst all and Eid brings happiness, as the month long Roja (fasting) ends.

Akbar Ahamed, a participant in prayer, said, ?Eid is the culmination of month long fasting and as per ours the Islamic traditions celebrated this day with happiness and with everyone forgetting religion and cast. We pray for global peace along with peace of our state and country."

Akhil Ahamed another participant in the prayer, expressed, ?This is one of the biggest festivals of Muslims which aims at spreading the message of brotherhood in the world. This is the reward that we get after one month?s fasting during Ramadan. We thank the god for whatever he has done for us. It is a great pleasure for us and one of the happiest moments.?

Bashir Ahamed of Jammu and Kashmir, who was celebrating Eid in the city said that despite Eid with family is a unique feeling, he was enjoying the festivities in the prayers there too.

In total, there were 250 prayer spots in the state, while ten were in Agartala.

Muslims in Agartala poured in large numbers to pray for peace and prosperity of their people, as well as the nation.

(This article has not been edited by DNA's editorial team and is auto-generated from an agency feed.)

dnaindia.com/india/report-tripura-muslims-pray-for-world-peace-ahead-of-eid-6262017-63322-pm-2484250

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Eid with Black Arm Bands as Protest against Muslim Lynching

Yusra Husain | TNN | Updated: Jun 25, 2017, 08.45 PM IST

LUCKNOW: Angry with continuous atrocities on Muslims leading to lynching of a number of them, with the case of 16-year old Junaid being the latest victim two days ahead of Eid, citizens including both Hindus and Muslims across the country have decided to wear black bands on their arms on Eid day.

A call to support Muslims and raise voice against repeated mob killings, the campaign was started on social media on Saturday that gathered pace on Sunday with hashtags #StopKillingMuslims and #EidWithBackArmBand doing rounds.

Joining in from Lucknow, a number of activists and common citizens too gave the call to wear black bands on the right arm when Muslims go for the Eid namaz and Hindus otherwise through the day, that received massive response. "It is not a religious point alone, but more so of justice and unity as even those who follow religion and those who don't follow it are going to wear the black bands in solidarity on Monday," said Rajeev Yadav.

A silent protest, citizens across the country, have decided to refer to the day as 'Black Eid 2017' and share photos of the black armband protest on social media, so that governments and politicians take notice and act on ensuring peace and law.

Sharing a poster requesting the same, Ali Khan Mahmudabad wrote, "In solidarity with our brothers and sisters, not because we are scared, but because we are one."

With a rush of WhatsApp messages being shared and tweets declaring the announcement, a statement from individuals including Navaid Hamid, president, All India Muslim Majlis-e-Mushawarat, Zafar Mahmood, chairman, Zakat Foundation and Watan ki Fikr amongst others.

The statement read as follows, "We the Muslims of India call for wearing black bands on Eid Day in protest against failure of the Government of India to protect Muslims against uncalled for attacks."

A first version of the statement shared by Zafar Mahmood had also included the name of Maulana Rabey Hasan Nadvi, Rector, Nadavatul Uloom, Lucknow featuring in the list of names but was later omitted from the final version.

"When I first circulated the message, I added a few names and sent it only those people for consent and addition of names. There was however no reply from Maulana Rabey Hasan Nadvi so I deleted his name in the final version. In the meantime however those with the first draft had forwarded the message in social media which created duplicity," said Zafar Mahmood.

timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/lucknow/eid-with-black-arm-bands-as-protest-against-muslim-lynchings/articleshow/59311590.cms

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Meat, liquor found near mosque in UP's Amethi, case lodged

26th June 2017

AMETHI: Some pieces of meat and bottles of liquor were allegedly found near a mosque here after which police filed a case against some unidentified persons for mischief and provoking breach of the peace, officials said today.

The recovery was made near the mosque of Badalgarh, under police station Bazarshukul here, prior to special Eid-ul-Fitr prayers, police said.

The unwanted materials were immediately removed from near the shrine and after proper sanitation the Eid prayers were held, Superintendent of Police Poonam said.

Officials said a case has been registered unidentified persons for doing mischief causing damage, intentional insult with intent to provoke breach of the peace and related offences.

The police is monitoring the situation, the officials said.

newindianexpress.com/nation/2017/jun/26/meat-liquor-found-near-mosque-in-ups-amethi-case-lodged-1621033.html

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Srinagar encounter ends; 2 terrorists killed, 2 Army men injured

PTI | Updated: Jun 25, 2017, 10.38 PM IST

HIGHLIGHTS

The terrorists had entered the Delhi Public School located close to the Srinagar-Jammu National Highway last evening.

Earlier, they attacked a CRPF party in the nearby Pantha Chowk, killing one officer and injuring a constable.

(TOI photo)Srinagar encounter ends; 2 terrorists killed, 2 Army men injured

SRINAGAR: Security forces on Sunday gunned down two terrorists holed up inside a school on the outskirts of Srinagar, ending an encounter of over 14 hours in which two Army men were also injured.

The terrorists had entered the Delhi Public School located close to the Srinagar-Jammu National Highway last evening after attacking a CRPF party in the nearby Pantha Chowk, killing one officer and injuring a constable.

The road opening party of the CRPF was attacked in high security zone located less than a kilometre away from the headquarter of the Srinagar-based Army Corps.

Immediately thereafter, the security forces cordoned off the school premises which has seven buildings, comprising 36 rooms, and the staff and others were evacuated last night itself.

An offensive to flush out the terrorists was launched this morning, a police official said.

"The exchange of fire between security forces and terrorists began at around 3.40 am," he said.

"The gunbattle is over and two terrorists have been killed," the official said this evening after over 14-hour armed engagement.

He said the search and sanitization operation was, however, underway at the encounter site.

Two Army personnel were injured in the gunbattle this morning, the official said. He said the injured have been taken to a hospital.

Earlier, Jammu and Kashmir's Director General of Police S P Vaid had said that there were reports of the presence of two terrorists inside the building but the exact number would be known after the search of the complex was over.

On the operation getting prolonged, he told reporters, "There are 36 rooms, the building is huge. So, it has to be searched floor by floor, room by room."

He said the security forces wanted to ensure that the (school) building was safe.

"The enemy has a nefarious design that the school buildings are destroyed and children have nothing to study and ultimately abandon their studies, which we will ensure that no such thing happens," the state police chief said.

He was speaking to the media on the sidelines of wreath laying ceremony of CRPF officer killed in yesterday's attack.

The authorities had imposed restrictions under section 144 CrPc from Ram Munshibagh to Sempora stretch of the national highway as a precautionary measure to avoid protests near the encounter site.

The mobile internet services have been affected across the valley as the network speeds have been reduced.

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Pakistan

China to carry out 'shuttle diplomacy' for Pakistan, Afghanistan

PTI | Updated: Jun 26, 2017

BEIJING: China today announced that it will launch "shuttle diplomacy" between Pakistan and Afghanistan to ease tensions between the two neighbours and promote the peace process in war-torn Afghanistan amidst a spurt in terror attacks in both the countries.

China will conduct the shuttle diplomacy between Afghanistan and Pakistan, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said during his visit to both the countries, according to Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang.

Wang visited Islamabad and Kabul on June 24 and 25.

During the visit, the two countries agreed to establish the bilateral Crisis Management Mechanism, Geng said.

The main targets for the visit is to implement the consensus between the state leaders and in addition the requirement of Afghanistan and Pakistan as directed by Chinese leaders, he said.

"We will conduct shuttle diplomacy to help improve relations between the two countries within our capacity and also to promote the peace process in Afghanistan," Geng said.

Asked about Afghanistan's allegations that Pakistan is harbouring Taliban militants who were blamed for the recurring terrorist attacks in that country, Geng said "this shuttle visit made by Wang was conducted in agreement with Afghanistani and Pakistani sides".

"During this visit, the two countries have sent out goodwill messages to each other and two sides agreed to establish the bilateral Crisis Management Mechanism.

"We think that this is important step forward towards the improvement of their bilateral relationship and we also stated many times that maintenance of friendly relationships between two countries is conducive to regional stability and security and international efforts against terrorism, we will continue our efforts in this regard," Geng said.

Afghanistan in recent months has alleged that Pakistan is carrying out destabilisation and terrorist activities inside the country.

"We call it an undeclared war because the objectives are not set. We do not know what the objectives are for Pakistan. And that is something that we have been trying to discover," Afghanistan's Ambassador to the US Hamdullah Mohib told an audience at an event organised by Indus think-tank in Washington where his Pakistan counterpart Aizaz Chaudhry was also present.

China, an "all-weather ally" of Pakistan in recent years, has stepped its engagement with Afghanistan by appointing a special envoy on Afghanistan.

It is also part of Afghanistan, Pakistan and US dialogue mechanism.

Wang's visit comes in the backdrop of reported move by US President Donald Trump to increase the American troop levels from the present 8,000 reversing his predecessor Barak Obama's move for a gradual pull-out, which encouraged Beijing to step in to play a bigger role.

A joint statement issued at the end of Wang's visit said the three countries agreed to establish Foreign Ministers Meeting Mechanism to conduct cooperation in areas of interests.

They have also agreed to launch a coordinating team consisting of China, Pakistan, Afghanistan and the US.

"This visit is an important step forward in improvement of relations between Pakistan and Afghanistan," Geng added.

On Friday, twin blasts tore through a market crowded with Eid shoppers in a mainly Shia town, a suicide bomber blew up his explosives-laden car and militants opened fire on police in separate attacks in Pakistan's three major cities, killing 62 people and wounding nearly 100.

On June 1, Afghanistan cut its cricket ties with Pakistan after blasts in Kabul killed 90 people and injured 463 others.

timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/south-asia/china-to-carry-out-shuttle-diplomacy-for-pakistan-afghanistan/articleshow/59323689.cms

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149 killed, 117 injured as oil tanker explodes in Pakistan

PTI | Updated: Jun 25, 2017, 05.18 PM IST

HIGHLIGHTS

The blaze from the oil spill engulfed scores of residents, killing 149 people and injuring 117 others, officials said.

Some 50,000 litres of petrol spilled from the oil tanker.

Army helicopters have been deployed in the rescue operations.

Pak rescue workers gather beside an oil tanker which caught fire following an accident on a highway near the town of Ahmedpur East on June 25, 2017. (AFP Photo)149 killed, 117 injured as oil tanker explodes in Pakistan

LAHORE: About 150 people were charred to death and 117 others injured on Sunday in a massive blaze that erupted after an oil tanker overturned and crowds rushed to collect the fuel that spilled over on a highway in Pakistan's Punjab Province.

The oil tanker coming from Karachi and headed to Lahore overturned early Sunday morning on the national highway at the Ahmedpur Sharqia area of the Bahawalpur district, some 400 km from Lahore, after a tyre burst.

The fire was apparently caused by someone who lit a cigarette after people from nearby localities gathered on the highway to collect spilt petrol, officials said.

The blaze from the oil spill engulfed scores of residents, killing 149 people and injuring 117 others, officials said.

District Coordination Officer (DCO) Bahwalpur Rana Salim Afzal termed it a "huge tragedy" in the history of Pakistan.

"At least 123 people were killed before getting any medical help while the rescue officials shifted more than 100 injured to the district headquarters hospital and Victoria Hospital in Bahawalpur where the condition of most of them is critical," Afzal said, adding some 50,000 litres of petrol spilled from the oil tanker.

Afzal said women and children were among the victims.

The death toll later rose to 149 and rescue official Jam Sajjad said most of the dead bodies were completely charred and they will be identified only by DNA tests.

Muhammad Hanif, 40, who suffered burns, told reporters at the Victoria Hospital that he was present at his house when his cousin called him informing that the village people were rushing to the highway to collect "free oil".

"My cousin told me to pick bottles and come out of the house. When I came out of the house I saw many people rushing towards the highway and some going there by motorcycles. Me and my cousin Rashid reached the highway and joined the people busy in collecting the petrol spilling from the tanker.

"Suddenly the tanker burst and the people gathered near it were burnt alive. Rashid and I were a little away from the tanker therefore we are alive," Hanif said.

He said it was "greed" of the villagers which took them to the "valley of death".

The Punjab government said three helicopters were shifting the critically burnt people to Multan's combined military hospital and Nishter Hospital for providing better health facilities.

Regional Police Officer Bahawalpur Raja Rifat said the motorway police personnel had reached the spot when the oil tanker overturned.

"The people from nearby village Mauza Ramzan had also gathered there. The police personnel asked them to leave the place but they started collecting petrol. Suddenly the tanker exploded and within seconds the fire erupted giving no chance to the people present there to leave the place," Rifat said.

Dozens of motorcycles and cars were also burnt at the site.

"Most people reached the site on motorcycles to collect spilling petrol," he said.

Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif directed the authorities to ensure best medical treatment to the injured. He also sent his chopper for shifting the injured to Multan hospitals.

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, President Mamnoon Hussain, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf chairman Imran Khan and Pakistan Peoples Party chairman Bilawal Bhutto condoled the tragedy.

Army chief Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa ordered the Army to assist the civil administration in the rescue effort.

Army helicopters have been deployed in the rescue operations.

The tragedy came a day ahead of Eid ul-Fitr celebrations in the country, marking the end of the holy fasting month of Ramzan.

The oil tanker tragedy comes about two years after 62 people, including women and children, were killed in a fire after a coach collided with an oil tanker travelling on the wrong side of the road, on the outskirts of Karachi.

timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/pakistan/149-killed-117-injured-as-oil-tanker-explodes-in-pakistan/articleshow/59309878.cms

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China urges Afghans, Pakistan to form crisis-management mechanism

Reuters | Updated: Jun 25, 2017, 07.00 PM IST

ISLAMABAD: China's foreign minister has urged leaders in Afghanistan and Pakistan to improve relations and establish a crisis prevention and management mechanism during visits to both countries, the Chinese foreign ministry said.

Foreign minister Wang Yi was scheduled to speak in Islamabad on Sunday, a day after meeting Afghan President Ashraf Ghani in Kabul.

Wang said a three-way conference mechanism involving the two countries and China could promote dialogue and cooperation, the Chinese ministry said in a statement.

"China sincerely wishes for Afghanistan and Pakistan to improve relations, rebuild mutual trust strengthen cooperation, achieve mutual safety and mutually development," Wang said, according to the statement.

"As Afghanistan and Pakistan's mutual friend, China encourages them to establish a crisis prevention and management mechanism as soon as possible, to properly deal with any kind of sudden occurrence."

In Pakistan, Wang "held wide-ranging discussions" on bilateral relations, regional security and the situation in Afghanistan, the Pakistani foreign ministry said in a tweet.

Afghanistan and Pakistan have been uneasy neighbours ever since Pakistan's independence in 1947.

Their ties have been poisoned in recent years by Afghan accusations that Pakistan is supporting Taliban insurgents fighting the US-backed Kabul in order to limit the influence of its old rival, India, in Afghanistan.

Pakistan denies that and says it wants to see a peaceful, stable Afghanistan.

Several people were killed when Afghanistan and Pakistan border troops exchanged fire for hours in early May. As a result, a major border crossing was closed for more than three weeks.

'China's fight'

In his annual Eid al-Fitr message, Afghanistan's Ghani said he had met Wang and the two had discussed peace and stability and the joint fight against terrorism.

Ghani used the message, marking the end of the holy month of Ramadan, to call on armed opposition groups including the Taliban to join the peace process, if they were genuine Afghans concerned about the loss of innocent lives.

China is also worried about the spread of Islamist militancy from lawless ethnic Pashtun lands along Pakistan's border with Afghanistan, in particular the danger of members of its Uighur Muslim minority being radicalised there.

In Pakistan on Saturday, Wang said counter-terrorism was an important part of China's relations with Pakistan and he thanked Pakistan "for its firm support for China's fight against the violent terrorist group the 'East Turkistan Islamic Movement'," China's Xinhua news agency reported.

China says the East Turkistan Islamic Movement is a violent Uighur group, with links to militants in South Asia, who want to make the far western region of Xinjiang a separate state.

Uighur exiles and rights groups though say unrest in Xinjiang is more a reaction to repressive government policies than the plotting of any cohesive militant group. Beijing denies abusing rights in Xinjiang.

China is also investing heavily in both Afghanistan and Pakistan.

It has promised $57 billion in investment in projects along a China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, part of its ambitious Belt and Road plan linking China with the Middle East and Europe.

timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/south-asia/china-urges-afghans-pakistan-to-form-crisis-management-mechanism/articleshow/59310792.cms

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Pakistan deploys 15,000-strong force for Chinese security

AFP | Jun 25, 2017, 10.43 PM IST

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan has deployed a 15,000-strong military force to protect Chinese nationals working on energy and infrastructure projects in the country, the president said on Sunday, after the abduction of a Chinese couple raised safety concerns.

President Mamnoon Hussain told visiting Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi in Islamabad that the protection of Chinese citizens working in Pakistan was the "top priority" of the government, according to a statement issued by the presidency.

Beijing is investing around $50 billion in its South Asian neighbour as part of a plan unveiled in 2015 to link its far-western Xinjiang region to Gwadar port in Balochistan with a series of infrastructure, power and transport upgrades.

But fears over safety arose last month when two Chinese workers were abducted in Quetta, the capital of the southwestern Balochistan province, which is at the heart of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) project but racked by separatist and Islamist insurgencies.

Authorities were going to all possible efforts to arrest those responsible for kidnapping, Hussain said.

China has stated it will cooperate with Pakistani authorities to investigate whether the two Chinese citizens - who were allegedly killed by the Islamic State group in the country - had been illegally preaching.

So far there has been no official confirmation of the Chinese pair's fate.

Pakistan has been battling Islamist and nationalist insurgencies in mineral-rich Balochistan since 2004, with hundreds of soldiers and militants killed in the fighting.

The IS group has been making inroads in the country through alliances with local militant outfits, although its presence is generally downplayed by the government.

timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/pakistan/pakistan-deploys-15000-strong-force-for-chinese-security/articleshow/59313082.cms

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Mideast

Leader Calls On Muslims to Adopt Serious Stances Against Oppressors

 

TEHRAN (FNA)- Supreme Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyed Ali Khamenei blasted the global arrogance, and underlined the need for adopting serious stances against the global oppressors.

"There is a need for standing up against the global powers who are trying to oppress other nations," Ayatollah Khamenei said on Monday, addressing thousands of fervent worshippers attending the Eid al-Fitr prayers.

He pointed to people's massive turnout in Quds Day rallies on last Friday of Ramadan, and said, "The honorable Iranian nation should be proud of their achievements."

The Supreme Leader clarified that notion of "fire-at-will", a term he introduced at a recent speech, and said, "It meant spontaneous and neat cultural work and not lawlessness or overstatement."

Ayatollah Khamenei, meantime, warned against the numerous cultural influences by the enemies and urged the Islamic community to slam oppressors who invade innocent people, including Yemenis, Bahrainis and Kashmiris, in the fasting month of Ramadan. The Supreme Leader invited the Muslim World, in particular its intellectuals, to clarify their stances in a crystal-clear way like what Iran does.

In relevant remarks last week, Ayatollah Khamenei underlined the importance of the International Quds Day rallies on Friday, and said that fighting against the Zionist regime is campaign against the arrogant and hegemonic system.

Ayatollah Khamenei made the remarks, addressing hundreds of university professors, academics, researchers and elites in Tehran.

He described the International Quds Day as very important, stressing, “This auspicious day is not merely meant for the declaration of support for an oppressed nation, but is the symbol of fighting Arrogance and global hegemons."

"The commemoration of Quds Day does not merely mean defending an oppressed nation who have been driven out of their motherland and homes, but defending Palestine today is defending a reality much greater than the issue of Palestine,” Ayatollah Khamenei said.

He reiterated, “Today, fighting the Zionist regime is fighting Arrogance and the hegemonic order and, which is why, US politicians feel battered by and hostility toward this move.”

en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13960405000636

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Islamic finance growth 'likely to slow in 2018'

 

The Islamic finance industry will continue to expand this year, but lose some momentum in 2018, said S&P Global Ratings in a new report.

The industry's assets reached $2 trillion at year-end 2016, slightly below our September forecast. “Even though sukuk issuance accelerated in the first half of this year and will likely stay strong in the second half, we don't believe this growth rate is sustainable. We think stronger growth is possible if, together, supervisory bodies and market participants achieve greater standardization, resulting in a truly global industry,” the ratings agency said.

Overview

         The current economic situation in core Islamic finance markets and depreciation of local currencies have weighed on the industry's performance in 2016 and 2017.

         The lack of product and market integration constrains growth, in our view, as does the absence of standardized Sharia interpretation and legal documentation.

         Integration, standardization, and higher interest in responsible finance could be a game changer, but only in the medium term.

Economic conditions are not helping

Islamic finance remains concentrated primarily in oil-exporting countries, with the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), Malaysia, and Iran accounting for more than 80 per cent of the industry's assets. The drop in oil prices and governments' cuts to investment and current spending have reduced the industry's growth prospects, in our view. While Malaysia's economy continued to perform adequately, thanks to its diversification, the average growth rate in the GCC dropped significantly between 2012 and 2017. Iran, on the other hand, experienced a growth spurt in 2016 after certain sanctions were lifted and the oil sector picked up, but this growth is expected to moderate over the next three years. Meanwhile, Iran's economy will continue to suffer from the scarcity of financing options and the remaining sanctions.

“Another factor explaining the muted industry growth is depreciation/devaluation of currencies in some countries. In particular, we've observed a marked impact of this on Islamic finance activity in Iran, Malaysia, Turkey, and Egypt, where exchange rates have deteriorated. As the US dollar continues to strengthen in 2017 and 2018, we might see more of this effect. In this context, the Islamic finance industry was protected by the peg between the dollar and various GCC currencies.

“Overall, we think the industry's growth rate will stabilize at about 5 per cent in 2017 and 2018, which is lower than the average over the past decade. More recent industry entrants, such as Morocco and Oman, will likely show stronger growth, but their contribution to the overall Islamic finance industry will likely remain small,” S&P Ratings said.

Islamic banks in the GCC face a tough year

“We expect the slowdown at Islamic banks in the GCC will persist in 2017 after asset growth declined to 5.3 per cent in 2016 from 10.7 per cent in 2014. In our base-case scenario, we assume that asset growth will stabilize at about 5 per cent as governments' spending cuts and revenue-boosting initiatives, such as new taxes, reduce Islamic banks' growth opportunities in the corporate and retail sectors,” S&P said.

“We see banks becoming more cautious and selective in their lending activities, triggering stiffer competition. Yet we don't expect this will happen uniformly in all GCC countries. Although the economic slowdown will likely remain pronounced in Saudi Arabia, Islamic banks' growth accelerated there in 2016, thanks to their strategy of increasing business among corporates and small and midsize enterprises (SMEs).

“By contrast, the decline in economic activity was steeper in Qatar, where a mix of lower liquidity and government spending cuts prompted banks to curtail their expansion plans. Qatar's placement under sanction by some Arab countries could also further weaken prospects for its Islamic finance industry in 2017. Asset growth was about nil in Kuwait over the past year, hit by the depreciation of certain foreign currencies and the ensuing impact on the financials of some leading Kuwaiti Islamic banks. Despite the United Arab Emirates (UAE)'s tepid economic performance and the drop in real estate prices, Islamic banks continued to expand by high single digits,” it added.

“As the economic cycle turns, we think GCC Islamic banks' asset quality indicators will deteriorate in the second half of this year and in 2018. Such weakening was not noticeable in 2016 because--as is typical--banks had started to restructure their exposures to adapt to the shift in the economic environment. Therefore we saw an increase in restructured loans in the GCC last year, but not a marked increase in banks' nonperforming loans (NPLs) or cost of risk.

“We think the deterioration will be more visible in 2017 and 2018. Overall, we believe that subcontractors, SMEs, and expatriate retail exposures will bear the brunt of the turning economic cycle and contribute prominently to the formation of new NPLs over that period,” S&P said.

GCC Islamic banks' profitability will therefore deteriorate again in 2017 and 2018, while several factors are seen coming into play:

“The cost of funding has increased, and this squeezed banks' intermediation margins in 2016. Although the pressure eased a bit after some governments issued international bonds and unlocked payments to contractors, we think the cost of funding will remain inflated in 2017-2018. The U.S. Federal Reserve (Fed)'s recent rate hike, which some GCC central banks have emulated, could result in deposits shifting to profit-sharing investment accounts (PSIAs) from unremunerated current accounts. If this happens, it would raise the cost of funding even further. Very few Islamic banks have set aside significant amounts of profit-equalization reserves, which they build in good years and use to smooth returns to PSIA holders if needed.

“Cost of risk is on the rise. We also foresee higher credit losses in the coming two years, due to relatively weak economic conditions. Exposure to subcontractors, SMEs, and retail customers (especially expatriates) will likely fuel the upward trend for credit losses.

“In general therefore, we expect Islamic banks' revenue growth will decelerate, and that they will focus on their cost bases to mitigate the impact (for example, by pruning branches). Like their conventional counterparts, GCC Islamic banks, through their relatively low cost bases, should be able to protect their profitability somewhat over the next two years, however. Although consolidation might be a way forward in some GCC markets, we expect mergers will remain an exception in 2017-2018 rather than the norm.

“Capitalization is generally a positive factor for GCC Islamic banks. We note, however, that it has reduced because previous rapid financing growth was not matched by additional capital. Few GCC banks have issued capital-boosting sukuk and those that have, are primarily in the UAE, Qatar, and Saudi Arabia,” S&P said.

Sukuk activity recovered this year, but 2018 is less certain

“The sukuk market gave a strong showing in the first half of 2017 compared with the same period in 2016, thanks primarily to the jumbo issuances of GCC governments. We believe this performance stemmed mainly from the good liquidity conditions in the GCC and more generally in the global financial market. Although we expect issuance numbers will stay solid for the rest of 2017, we consider it unlikely that some of the large transactions seen in the first half of the year will be repeated in 2018. We also continue to believe that the process for issuing sukuk is deterring some issuers from tapping the market. However, we note that the Islamic finance industry's standard-setting bodies have made some progress on that front this year,” S&P report said.

“Most of the investors in sukuk are in the GCC. Within this universe, we understand that banks are playing the biggest role. Over the past two years, we have observed a reduction of liquidity in GCC banking systems, due to reduced deposit inflows as a result of low oil prices and high dependence on deposits from governments and their related entities. This situation started to reverse in the first half of 2017 after oil prices stabilized and governments issued large bonds and injected liquidity locally. Moreover, in our view, GCC banks tend to keep sizable amounts of cash and money market instruments on their balance sheets. In the currently difficult operating environment, marked by few opportunities for lending growth, we think some banks might invest a portion of their liquidity in assets that generate higher income than cash and money market instruments. In this context, bonds and sukuk appear more attractive than interbank or central bank deposits.

“On another note, global liquidity remained abundant in the first half of 2017 and we expect this will continue until the year's end. The European Central Bank (ECB)'s Quantitative Easing (QE) program, the slow increase in the Fed's interest rates, and good liquidity in some Asian countries will continue to support demand for both bonds and sukuk. The cost of funding might start rising, however, as the Fed increases its rates and the ECB tapers its QE program. We expect an additional 25 basis-point rise in the Fed's rates by the end of 2017, after the recent increase in June. However, we see the ECB's QE program coming to a close only by the end of 2018, or in 2019 if external conditions (such as commodity prices and exchange rates) become more deflationary. We also see interest rates starting to move in 2019.”

“Given the currently low interest rates in developed markets, emerging-market issuers with good credit stories might still be on investors' radar, as shown by the significant oversubscription of some recent transactions. Consequently, we believe liquidity will continue to leak into the sukuk industry from developed markets, although at a slower pace because of recent developments in the GCC. There has been some progress on reducing the complexity of issuance, but it is not sufficient, in our view. It is still more time-consuming and complex to tap the sukuk market than to issue a conventional bond, even though this situation has improved over the years,” the report said.

“Positively, in the first half of 2017, we saw the Accounting and Auditing Organization for Islamic Financial Institutions (AAOIFI) and other financial industry heavyweights pushing the market toward greater standardization. The AAOIFI has issued exposure drafts on central Sharia boards and sukuk accounting that aim to address the complexity related to Sharia compliance and legal structuring of sukuk. But the process for issuing sukuk is still not as smooth as that for a conventional bond. Until we reach that point, we think issuers will continue to show a preference for bonds.”

The takaful sector is vulnerable to the less-supportive environment

“Growth of gross takaful (insurance) contributions was flat in 2016 compared with 2015, and we expect this will be the case in 2017-2018, all other factors unchanged. Yet we believe the takaful industry has ample room for growth if aided by regulatory incentives and further development in other Islamic finance segments,” &P Ratings said in the report.

“Insurance penetration in core Islamic finance markets is still low, with premiums in the six GCC countries averaging 1 per cent-2 per cent of GDP, compared with over 6 per cent in more developed markets. Some recent regulatory actions, such as the introduction of a compulsory health insurance scheme in Dubai, for example, have created growth opportunities for participating companies. In our opinion, rising demand for life and savings products, or the introduction of further compulsory coverage, could further stimulate growth. At the same time, we believe tightening risk-based regulations in some markets will help create stronger takaful players but could increase operating costs, particularly for some smaller companies.”

What's next for Islamic finance

Standardization can support expansion

Numerous institutions have looked at Islamic finance and the sukuk market and eventually walked away, rather than go through all the steps required for issuance. Having standardized Sharia compliance and legal documentation, as well as more information for prospective issuers, could help the market move forward. Sharia is still interpreted in different ways across the various Islamic finance markets. However, the industry appears to be going in the right direction with the proposal for central Sharia boards.

“Also, in our view standardization could go one step further, through establishing globally accepted guidelines and adopting a post-transaction audit rather than pre-transaction approval. We believe a suite of standard products, ranging from debt-like to equity-like instruments, could help the industry regain its appeal. The risk-and-reward equation for investors should also be clarified. Some sukuk are sold as fixed-income instruments although they are not. Such an approach could destabilize the market if investors were to face a sukuk default. Issuances in Saudi Arabia, instruments with residual asset risks or structures that are based on a number of assumptions, should be well explained and understood by investors,” S&P said.

Responsible finance, sustainable development goals, and impact investing

“We see a natural connection between Islamic finance principles, responsible finance, sustainable development goals, and impact investing. All aim to create financial systems that are more equitable and have a positive tangible impact on the economy and population. Greater involvement of multilateral institutions (MLIs) in Islamic finance--through sukuk issuance and Islamic products, as well as stricter application of the principle of profit and loss sharing--could create growth opportunities for the industry. The contribution of Islamic finance has so far been limited by the industry's relatively small size and by its structure, consisting of a collection of diverse markets. Beyond Islamic finance instruments, zakat (alms giving) and waqf (charity) could prove particularly useful in the future in financing social infrastructure, such as affordable housing, health care, or education,” S&P said.

Resolution regime or profit and loss sharing?

In the aftermath of the global financial crisis, regulators have created resolution regimes to deal with failing systemically important banks without injecting taxpayers' money or destabilizing the financial system. For conventional banks, this involves building a buffer of loss-absorbing liabilities that protect senior creditors in case of major stress. Regulators in core Islamic finance markets have not yet implemented resolution regimes, but could do so over the next few years.

“In our view, a resolution regime could fit in with Islamic finance because profit and loss sharing is one of the industry's key principles. Possible prerequisites for such a regime could be that issuers make it clear to investors that instruments might be used to offset losses (similar to what the Malaysian Central Bank did when it created loss-sharing deposits) and clarify the conditions under which this might happen. In addition, creditors should receive adequate compensation for the additional risk,” said S&P.

A united industry is a stronger industry

“In our opinion, Islamic finance markets need amalgamation to transform them into a truly global industry. But there are already several success stories, and these could entice new players into the market. For instance, some issuers could benefit from observing Islamic finance in Malaysia, where we understand the process of issuing sukuk is as smooth as that for conventional bonds. Another example could be found in cross-border acquisitions, which might result in more cohesive Sharia interpretation. Closer integration may also lead to increasing sukuk issuance, which could reduce takaful operators' exposure to riskier real estate and equities investments or help banks manage their liquidity. Sukuk could also provide investment funds with additional fixed-income revenue, and encourage a shift toward more profit-and-loss sharing instruments. In addition, Islamic banks could start offering takaful products more systematically if the relevant regulation were in place.

“We believe progress would be aided if regulators acted to create a more supportive regulatory environment, while scholars, MLIs, and lawyers worked together to achieve standardization. What's more, universities could provide the necessary training and knowledge to create the next generation of Islamic finance professionals. Overall, we believe that, united and more integrated, the industry will become stronger,” S&P Ratings noted. – TradeArabia News Service

tradearabia.com/news/BANK_326799.html

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Iran's Rouhani backs Qatar, rejects 'siege'

Reuters | Updated: Jun 26, 2017

DUBAI: Iranian President Hassan Rouhani voiced support on Sunday for Qatar in its confrontation with Iran's rival Saudi Arabia and its allies, saying a "siege of Qatar is unacceptable", the state news agency IRNA reported.

Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Bahrain cut ties with Qatar on June 5, accusing it of support for Islamist militants, an allegation Qatar denies.

They have since issued 13 demands including closing Al Jazeera television, curbing relations with Iran, shutting a Turkish base and paying reparations.

"Tehran stands with the Qatari nation and government... We believe that if there is a conflict between regional countries, pressure, threats or sanctions are not the right way to resolve differences," IRNA quoted Rouhani as telling Qatar's emir, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani, in a telephone call.

"The siege of Qatar is unacceptable to us... The airspace, land and sea of our country will always be open to Qatar as a brotherly and neighbouring country," Rouhani said.

Doha, whose neighbours have closed their airspace to Qatari flights, has said it was reviewing the list of demands, but said it was not reasonable or actionable.

Shi'ite Muslim Iran and Sunni Saudi Arabia accuse each other of subverting regional security and support opposite sides in conflicts in Syria, Yemen and Iraq.

timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/middle-east/irans-rouhani-backs-qatar-rejects-siege/articleshow/59320386.cms

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Calligrapher pens Koran in complex Arabic Diwani font

 

A Lebanese calligrapher has completed a two-year project to hand write a copy of the Koran, Islam's holy book, in the rarely-used and delicate Arabic-language Diwani font.

Mahmoud Bayoun, 80, believes this is the first time this has been done. In Diwani font, each letter can be written six or seven ways.

"I wanted to do something no one has done", Bayoun told Reuters. "All fonts can be computerized but the Diwani font can't - because all computer fonts meet at a horizontal line but the Diwani (font) goes above, on and below the line."

The Koran, approximately containing around 6,300 verses, is traditionally written in the Naskhi font, which is designed to be easy to read and write.

Bayoun, who had previously written out the Koran four times in simpler script, has studied calligraphy since he was 14 and is the official calligrapher of Lebanon's prime minister.

He is unsure what will become of his latest work, but said that if the book does not find its own path, then it will be passed on to his children.

(Reporting by Basma Ayat, writing by Mark Hanrahan in London Editing by Jeremy Gaunt)

reuters.com/article/us-religion-calligrapher-koran-idUSKBN19H1FW?rpc=401&

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Africa

Adebule, Akiolu, Chief Imam Preach Love, Tolerance

June 26, 20170112

As Muslim faithful celebrated Eid- el –Fitr yesterday to commemorate the end of one month of Ramadan fasting, the trio of Lagos State Deputy Governor, Dr. Idiat Oluranti Adebule, Oba of Lagos, Oba Ridwan Akiolu and the Chief Imam of Lagos, Alhaji Garba Ibrahim Akinola, have called on Lagosians to continue to live together in peace and allow the existing peaceful relationship among people of diverse tribes and religions in the state to continue so as to accelerate developments and strengthen good governance enjoyed in the state.

The deputy governor who joined other Lagosians to observe the Eid-el-Fitr special prayers at the Central Mosque Lagos, urged all Muslims to imbibe the tenets of the Ramadan fasting which according to her include: fear of God, love for one another, tolerance, equality, obedience, abstinence from sins, discipline and caring for the welfare of fellow human beings irrespective of religion, colour or tongue.

While congratulating Muslims for enjoying God’s mercy to see the end of the fasting and witness another Ed- El Fitr celebrations, they advised them to strengthen their faith in God and ensure that they do not go back to any sinful act they may have stopped during the fasting, noting that one of the lessons of the fasting was for Muslims to be more pious, move closer to God and refrain from sins.

thisdaylive.com/index.php/2017/06/26/adebule-akiolu-chief-imam-preach-love-tolerance/

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Glo Joins Muslims to Pray for Nigeria’s Progress, Unity

June 26, 20170126

Leading telecommunications operator, Globacom, has congratulated Nigerian Muslims on the successful completion of this year’s Ramadan, urging them to inculcate the lessons learnt during the period to make a positive impact on their neighbours and the larger society.

In a statement from its head office in Lagos, Globacom encouraged all Muslims to use the opportunity of the celebration to pray for the peace, unity and development of the nation, and to fully imbibe the tenets of Islam as taught by Prophet Mohammed.

“We wish all our Muslim brethrens a very happy Eid-el-Fitri and we pray that the Almighty Allah will grant their prayers for peace and progress of Nigeria,” Globacom said. ‘’It is a season of charity, peace-making and forgiveness. We must use this season to remember to care for the poor and the needy in line with Allah’s injunction to be our brother’s keeper,” Glo further stated.

thisdaylive.com/index.php/2017/06/26/glo-joins-muslims-to-pray-for-nigerias-progress-unity/

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In Embattled Nigeria, Displaced Families Still Celebrate Ramadan's End In Style

June 25, 20176:41 PM ET

Fatima Umaru paints decorative henna on her sister-in-law Bintukawu in preparation for Sallah celebrations. They came to the camp over a year ago, fleeing Boko Haram fighters who had overrun their home in Bama's local government area.

/Jide Adeniyi-Jones for NPR

Around the world, Muslims are marking Eid Al-Fitr, the celebration that ends Ramadan, the Muslim holy month of fasting — including the people of northeastern Nigeria, a region blighted by an eight-year insurgency by the extremist group, Boko Haram.

Despite a recent spate of deadly suicide attacks in Maiduguri, the capital of Borno State and the regional metropolis, both displaced people driven from their homes by Boko Haram, and the host community are celebrating Eid — or Sallah as it's called in Nigeria.

One displaced people's settlement is teeming with activity this Sunday. At the large compound, about 3,500 people call home structures made out of UN refugee agency-branded tarpaulin stretched over wooden frames.

During Eid, dozens of children were gleefully skipping, blowing balloons, wearing sunglasses, and the girls got their hands, arms and legs painted with intricate henna patterns.

Five-year-old Fatima shows off her Sallah gift in a camp for those internally displaced by the ongoing violence in Maiduguri, the capital of Borno State in northeast Nigeria.

Jide Adeniyi-Jones for NPR

Most of the kids are beautifully dressed in their bespoke colorful Eid (Sallah) finery — African prints and headwraps for the girls and embroidered guinea brocade or prints for the boys.

Watching the activities and wearing a big smile of satisfaction is Alhaji Baba Kura Alkali, a local notable who owns the land the camp is built on. It used to be a mechanics workshop and another one for processing gum arabic, he says. But Alkali decided it was time to pack up and leave when thousands of people, chased from their rural homes by Boko Haram, began arriving in Maiduguri.

"People were suffering. That's why I decided to give them this land to stay," he says.

The landowner says he's excited to see children playing and adults treating his property — now a camp run by the charity Save the Children, assisted by the UN children's fund UNICEF — as their home. Maiduguri is the birthplace of Boko Haram, which first waged a war against government and security targets, but soon began attacking churches, mosques, marketplaces, all while killing Muslim and Christian civilians.

More recently, Boko Haram — which has pledged allegiance to Islamic State — vowed to establish a caliphate. It occupied land until the Nigerian military, backed by a regional force, pushed the group from its safe havens around the Sambisa Forest.

Alkali tells NPR that until it's safe for the displaced people to return from Maiduguri to their own communities, "Insh'Allah," they are welcome to stay.

"I decided to give this out of charity," he says. We have security here. We have no problem. Borno is a home of peace, you know. We thank God for that."

Local commentator, photographer and public health specialist, Fati Abubakar, who posts images of her home state on social media under the hashtag #bitsofborno, says Eid celebrations have been more subdued this year in the Maiduguri area.

"Because of the recurrence of attacks — we've had several attacks recently, so we are very cautious — that's why the Eid is low-key," she says. "Notwithstanding, people, as you can see, are well dressed, very colorful, very beautiful and children are very excited that it's Eid, so it's as vibrant as we know it."

Abubakar says in the past, "Eid would have been bigger than this in the sense that we would have had durbars" — traditional ceremonies organized by the royal family, with drums and traditional groups performing.

"Unfortunately, because of the fear we have, the unpredictability, the insecurity, we're not able to have bands playing or any durbar. Nothing ceremonial. Sallah (Eid) is just about being well dressed visiting your family."

Still, the displaced children are having fun. Abubakar muses "for this day at least, you're colorful, you're beautiful and you're out to play and just be a kid again."

Children in the camp dance in their Sallah finery.

/Jide Adeniyi-Jones for NPR

Fati Alhaji Modu, mother to five, smiles and greets visitors in English, saying "Happy Sallah, Eid Mubarak" — traditional greetings of peace during the post-Ramadan festivities. She was pregnant with her youngest child, a toddler boy, when she fled to Maiduguri from Bama, in another part of Borno State.

Modu's town was overrun by Boko Haram, and Bama remained occupied by the terror group until it was liberated by the Nigerian army — but residents are still not able to return home for security reasons.

Modu's prayer is to go back to Bama, but she says she prefers to remain in Maiduguri until it's safe to do so.

All around her, children are playing, oblivious perhaps to the stresses and tensions the adults are grappling with. Meanwhile, their families are contemplating life away from this temporary home and wondering when they'll be allowed back to continue where they left off.

npr.org/sections/parallels/2017/06/25/534332857/in-embattled-nigeria-displaced-families-still-celebrate-ramadans-end-in-style

 

URL: http://newageislam.com/islamic-world-news/new-age-islam-news-bureau/islam-respects-local-customs-and-cultures,-says-top-singapore-mufti/d/111671

 

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