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Islamic World News ( 13 May 2023, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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Islamic Coin, World's First Sharia-Compliant Halal Cryptocurrency, Set To Launch in May

New Age Islam News Bureau

13 May 2023

 

Image- Supplied/ Photo: arabian Business

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Arab World

King Salman invites President of Tunisia to Arab League Council meeting

Saudi Arabia’s green achievements praised at UN forum

Saudi students head to US for international science fair

Golden Palm awards for victors at Saudi Film Festival

Saudi Arabia concludes evacuation operations in Sudan

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Europe

New UK Report Reinforces Poor Levels of Religious Literacyin the British Government and the Public Sector

Head of Islamic Community of Montenegro sends letter to President Ilham Aliyev on occasion of 100th anniversary of birth of Heydar Aliyev

Barnstaple man admits mosque harassment

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North America

Video shows 'barbaric attack' on 67-year-old man outside Scarborough mosque

Tulsa is suddenly a music mecca for fans of Bob Dylan, Leon Russell, Woody Guthrie and more

Suspect vandalizes St. Paul mosque weeks after two Minneapolis mosque fires

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India

'Love Jihad' Undeclared Agenda of Terrorism against Humanity: Yogi

Allahabad HC Orders Scientific Investigation of Shivling-Like Structure in Gyanvapi Mosque

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Mideast

Islamic Jihad: No ceasefire deal has been reached with Israel

Iran's Top Sunni Cleric, Molavi Abdulhamid, Calls for "Free and Fair" Elections

Israel kills sixth Islamic Jihad leader in Gaza as rockets target Jerusalem

Israel strikes rocket-launching sites operated by Palestinian Islamic Jihad militant group

IDF assessment: Iran is pushing Palestinian Islamic Jihad to fire rockets at Israel

Iran Ready to Share Know-How with Muslim States

Fifty Islamic Scholars Call For Muslims To Support Re-Election Of President Erdogan

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Pakistan

Interior Minister: No Decision Regarding Emergency Enforcementin Pakistan

Pakistan: Punjab Police Arrests 540 More Leaders, Workers of Imran Khan's Party Over Violence

Imran Khan Back atLahore Residence, Blames Army Chief For Arrest Episode

Imran gets bail for 2 weeks, blanket protection from arrest till May 15

Islamabad high court gives ex-PM Imran Khan a 2-week reprieve from arrest in graft case

Imran’s release may trigger violent protests, warns IB

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Southeast Asia

PM Anwar: Govt to Allocate Over RM103.86m to Imams, Bilals, Religious Teachers in Kelantan This Year

Unity govt has never sidelined Malay, Islamic agenda, says Zahid

Minister seeks Muslim countries' participation in down streaming in RI

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Australia

End-Of-Life Care on Agenda As Doctors Gather In Sydney for Inaugural Islamic Medicine Conference

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South Asia

The Taliban and the Islamic State Continue to Fight for Afghanistan’s Future

Qatar PM meets with Taliban officials in Afghanistan to ‘strengthen relations, increase trust’

Post-withdrawal, no “over-the-horizon” strikes in Afghanistan

Uzbekistan Opens Coordination Office For Trans-Afghan Railway Project

Belarus Detains Afghan National with Fake French Passport

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Africa

“Politicians Have Stopped Calling Me for Prayers”, Islamic Cleric Laments

A Ramadan to Remember: OctaFX Supports 1444 Muslims in Lagos

FRSC not seeking Sharia law to punish traffic offenders – Official

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau

URL:  https://newageislam.com/islamic-world-news/halal-coin-cryptocurrency-sharia/d/129769

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 Islamic Coin, World's First Sharia-Compliant Halal Cryptocurrency, Set To Launch In May

 

Image- Supplied/ Photo: arabian Business

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Jordan Finneseth  

Friday May 12, 2023

(Kitco News) - As Blockchain technology slowly gains adoption around the world, the global Muslim population is set to get their first Cryptocurrency ecosystem that abides by the principles and traditions of Islam with the launch of the Islamic Coin ($ISLM), the native coin of the Haqq ecosystem.

According to a report from Arabian Business, the public launch of the new token will take place in May. $ISLM operates on the Haqq Blockchain, which is compatible with the Ethereum network and thousands of applications worldwide.

Haqq, which means ‘truth’ in Arabic, was designed to stringently abide by Islamic principles and traditions on finance. Islamic Coin will be the primary token of value within the ecosystem, providing the global Muslim population with a financial platform that offers a 100% halal cryptocurrency.

The new token was created to help address the reservations that observant Muslims currently have about digital assets and how they fit in with the customs of Islam. Islamic Coin has already received accreditation and authorization through the Fatwa of several Muslim authorities.

Haqq’s stated mission is to provide the global Muslim population with a financial platform enabling real-time, transparent, and cross-border transactions while supporting Web3 innovations and philanthropy.

To help achieve its philanthropic goals, the network has pledged to dedicate 10% of each Islamic Coin to Evergreen DAO – a non-profit virtual foundation focused on long-term sustainability and community impact – to fund community projects in the Muslim world.

To help with adoption, the Haqq Association, the ecosystem’s non-profit arm, has partnered with the International Islamic University of Malaysia (IIUM) to increase blockchain and crypto awareness with a positive learning environment.

Additionally, Haqq has formed several commercial partnerships with retail and e-commerce platforms to introduce Sharia-compliant Web3 technologies into traditional Web2 environments. Most recently, the project partnered with Holiday Swap, the world’s largest home exchange platform, to transition the company’s tokenized operations to Web3.

To help decide if a project wishing to launch on the Haqq blockchain is compliant with Islamic principles, Islamic Coin has appointed a Sharia board that includes 40 banks, with Standard Chartered, Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank and Dubai Islamic Bank listed among its members.

Due to the public and open-source nature of the blockchain, projects that aren’t Sharia-compliant will still be able to launch on the network, but they will not receive the badge that indicates compliance and elicits a higher level of trust within the community.

Last month, the Haqq Association signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the London-based DDCAP GroupTM to explore potential collaboration opportunities that utilize DDCAP’s Sharia-compliant financial technology to build industry-grade systems that can cater to the growing demand for such services. This includes the creation of a Web3 alternative to the SWIFT payments system.

According to Haqq co-founder Mohammed AlKaff AlHashmi, Islamic Coin has the potential to become a tier-one asset. “If only 3-4% of the online Muslim community holds the coin, it could become a Bitcoin-scale asset,” AlHashmi said.

The global Islamic finance market is expected to surpass $3.69 trillion by 2024, while the Halal products market is projected to surpass $4 trillion. “It’s not only about food anymore, it’s also about healthcare products, cosmetics, how to make sure that everything is really Halal and fits with community ethics and values,” AlHashmi said.

With a global population of more than 1.8 billion people, AlHashmi said the Muslim community represents an “untapped and underserved” market in the crypto world. He also noted that Islamic finance is also being embraced by non-Muslims, as at least 50 percent of Haqq’s private sales of Islamic Coin were purchased by non-Muslims.

In 2022, cryptocurrency transactions in the MENA region accounted for $566 billion in value, a 48% increase from the previous year.

Source: kitco.com

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https://www.kitco.com/news/2023-05-12/Islamic-Coin-the-first-Sharia-compliant-cryptocurrency-set-to-launch-in-May.html

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UK Teenage Islamic State Convert's Terror Plot against Police and Soldiers Thwarted By Mother

 

Metropolitan Polic

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By Daniel Sandford & Judith Burns

BBC News Home Affairs Team

A teenage Islamic State convert who has admitted plotting attacks on British police and soldiers has had his sentencing delayed after reports he has threatened to behead a prison imam.

The judge at the Old Bailey has adjourned the sentencing of 19-year-old Matthew King from Wickford in Essex.

He was put under surveillance after his mother raised concerns that videos he was watching promoted hatred.

Judge Mark Lucraft KC said she had "done exactly the right thing".

King pleaded guilty in January to the preparation of terrorist attacks between 22 December 2021 and 17 May 2022.

At Friday's sentencing hearing in London, the prosecution outlined the case and the defence began its mitigation, however the judge adjourned the hearing for two weeks for further inquiries to be made at the prison where King is being held.

The court heard that intelligence reports from the jail suggested King had said he would "behead the imam".

King's barrister Hossein Zahir KC said this was "a throwaway remark by an angry young man being stuck in his cell" and asked for further inquiries.

'Immodest'

Earlier, the prosecuting barrister Paul Jarvis told the court King had dabbled in drugs since early secondary school, was expelled and left education at 16 with no qualifications.

He said King converted to Islam in 2020 and, at first, his behaviour improved, but in 2021 he began criticising his sisters' clothing as immodest and attended mosques wearing combat clothing.

He was put under surveillance after his mother reported him to the government's anti-extremism agency Prevent, because she feared some of the videos he was watching promoted hatred.

Several of the mosques he attended also warned him about his behaviour, and one decided he was no longer welcome, Mr Jarvis told the court.

In 2022, in the weeks before his arrest, King began carrying out reconnaissance in east London, including on police officers patrolling outside Stratford railway station, as well as at Stratford police station itself and the local magistrates' court.

Mr Jarvis told the court that one of the videos found on his phone featured footage near the police station, overlaid with a soundtrack including the words: "Coldly kill them with hate and rage. Plan your perfect killing spree."

On 17 May 2022, a CCTV camera captured him filming after dark outside a 7 Rifles Army barracks in east London.

He was arrested at his home the following day and his phone examined.

Officers found Snapchat messages King sent to a girl who was still in the sixth form, known in court as Miss A, in which he said he wanted to travel to Syria to become a martyr.

They exchanged messages about how they would like to mutilate members of the British and American armed forces.

Miss A wrote to him: "We can't let them die quick tho. Slow painful death akhi... I'll guide you through it. Or bring him or her home."

The prosecution said King had said he was "training for Jihad" and just wanted "to kill people".

Mr Jarvis told the court that on 17 May 2022, the day before King's arrest, the girl messaged him to say she wanted to concentrate on her exams.

King replied to say he would "be worshipping Allah" and he might soon be "on the news".

The sentencing has been adjourned until 26 May.

Source: bbc.com

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https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-england-essex-65576185

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Muslim, Jewish Worshippers Demand Free Parking At Aberdeen, Scotland, A Privilege Enjoyed By Christians On Sundays

 

Christians in Aberdeen already have parking charges waived on Sunday mornings - now minority faith groups argue that they should get a similar dispensation

GETTY IMAGES

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12 May, 2023

Muslim and Jewish worshippers at Aberdeen, Scotland, have demanded free parking on holidays, a privilege now enjoyed by Christians on Sundays.

The port city has waived charges for parking on Sundays until after 1pm which allows Christians to travel to church without a financial barrier or fear of having a fixed-penalty notice placed on their windscreens.

Now, minority faith groups in the city argue that they are not being treated equally, reported The Times.

“It’s all about equality. It would just be once a week, for two hours for the most important sermon and prayer of the week. This is a consideration of the religious need to encourage those who want to practise their faith. We are calling for this to cover all houses of worship,” Dr Ibrahim Alwawi, the Imam of Aberdeen Mosque and Islamic Centre, was quoted as saying by The Times.

There are about 10,000 Muslims in the city and the Jewish community is much smaller.

In 2021, Aberdeen’s new central mosque was inaugurated within the premises of the former Frederick Street Primary School. It is near to a multistorey car park owned by the council.

According to Alwawi, providing free parking on Friday mornings would contribute to reducing traffic issues in the area.

“Lunchtime is very tight. It’s very, very busy. People want to pray and eat and when you consider finding parking and paying it becomes stressful,” he is reported to have said.

Labour councillor Mohammad Tauqeer Malik has urged the city’s SNP and Liberal Democrat administration to act accordingly.

“Aberdeen is a city that is multicultural in its outlook and a place where its citizens appreciate the importance of many faiths and do so in harmony and with respect,” Malik told The Times.

“Not all religious days are on a Sunday, with the Qur’an invoking the importance of Friday as its day of worship. I was asked by the Muslim community to bring forward a motion because of parking issues around the new mosque.”

Malik added that the facility had become a victim of its own success as sometimes ‘people are breaking the law’.

The Aberdeen Synagogue and Jewish Community Centre has made private representations to the council over the issue. The Jewish Sabbath is observed every Saturday.

Aberdeen holds the distinction of being the least religious, as per the 2011 census. Nearly half of its 230,000 residents identified as having no religious affiliation.

Among the respondents, slightly over a quarter identified themselves as belonging to the Church of Scotland, 9 per cent as Catholic, 7 per cent as followers of other Christian denominations, and 2 per cent as Muslims.

Many former landmark churches in the city centre have already been converted into nightclubs, bars and casinos.

The local authority’s net-zero committee would soon discuss a report on the parking issues, the report added.

Source: easterneye.biz

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https://www.easterneye.biz/muslim-jewish-worshippers-demand-free-parking-in-aberdeen/

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Delhi HC Directs Google, Twitter, Media Houses to Block Links to Videos, Alleging Muslim Man Forced

Woman to Convert

 

Representational image

File image

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Written by Malavika Prasad

May 12, 2023

The Delhi High Court Friday directed certain media houses as well as social media platforms to block links to news reports and videos accusing a Muslim man of “forcing” a woman to convert to Islam.

The single-judge bench of Justice Prathiba Singh directed, “Considering that there is a severe threat to independent investigation in the FIR and to the safety and security of the Petitioner, as is evident from the comments and videos which have been placed before this Court, it is directed that the links which have been set out in paragraph 11 (of the petition) shall be immediately blocked for public viewing till the next date of hearing”.

The court also issued a notice to the respondents, including the Ministry of Electronics and Information and Technology (MEITY), Press Council of India (PCI), News Broadcasting and Digital Standards Authority (NBDSA), and Google LLC, Twitter, as well as media houses like Odisha Television Limited, Chairman of Sudarshan News Suresh Chavhanke, Pittie Media LLP, Bharat Prakashan (Delhi) Limited.

The high court was hearing the plea of a man, a classical singer who had moved the court seeking the removal of videos, tweets and various news items appearing on online platforms and news channels with respect to an FIR registered against him on April 19 at Dabri Dwarka police station. It was the petitioner’s case that the news items are in the “form of fake news, threats and are severely jeopardising his life, reputation and safety”.

The court noted that the FIR was lodged by a woman with whom “he was in a relationship for the last eight years” and the allegations in it are currently under investigation by the police. Appearing for the petitioner, advocate Rajiv Bajaj argued that the circulation of the videos was posing a great threat to an independent investigation into the FIR, and to his client’s personal safety and security. He said that the videos released by “Sudarshan News and other platforms are extremely derogatory and the comments on the YouTube platform show that there is a threat to his life as well”.

The high court noted that the man had written an email on May 9 to the respondents regarding his grievances. Google’s counsel Mamta Jha said that since the FIR was already registered in the matter, therefore the originators of the videos should be heard.

Appearing for the NBDSA, advocate Nisha Bhambhani said that none of the respondent news channels are its members and, therefore, the body has no jurisdiction over them. PCI’s counsel T Singh Dev said that the email is being looked into. He added that the PCI has jurisdiction over print media only.

The court also issued a notice to the Delhi Police asking them to file a status report on the investigation and further asked them to contact the woman and intimate her about this case. The court asked Sandeep Mohapatra, counsel for the Centre, to seek instructions from MEITY as well as the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting on the issue. The matter is listed on May 24.

Source: indianexpress.com

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https://indianexpress.com/article/cities/delhi/delhi-hc-google-twitter-media-houses-block-links-videos-reports-muslim-man-forced-woman-convert-8605882/

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Human Shields Allegedly Used by Iran-Backed Islamic Jihad: Israel Defence Forces

 

Representative image/ Photo: FDD

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May 12, 2023

Latest Developments

The Israel Defence Forces (IDF) said on May 11 that Israel waited two days to strike an Islamic Jihad commander because he was using his family as human shields. The commander, Ahmad Abu Daqqa, “took a significant part in commanding and carrying out the rocket barrages towards Israel,” the IDF reported, and assumed Israeli forces would not knowingly target civilians. This is a serious accusation leveled by the IDF, as using human shields is a violation of international law and is subject to U.S. sanctions pursuant to the Sanctioning the Use of Civilians as Defenseless Shields Act. Independent verification remains necessary to confirm the IDF’s allegation.

Expert Analysis

“Islamic Jihad is allegedly engaging in the actual war crime of using human shields so that Israel can more easily be falsely accused of committing war crimes such as willfully killing civilians. The United States can — and should — help set the record straight. U.S. law provides for the executive branch to impose sanctions in response to the use of human shields. President Biden should seize the opportunity to do so here, both to support America’s Israeli allies and to bolster U.S. and other NATO troops, who similarly face rampant terrorist use of civilians as human shields.” — Orde Kittrie, FDD Senior Fellow

“The complete disregard for human life and the illegitimate use of human shields are both trademarks of the regime in Tehran and its terror proxies throughout the Middle East. Using women and children to shield a mobile terrorist command post demands condemnation from every responsible nation on earth.” — Richard Goldberg, FDD Senior Advisor

Violations of International Law

Whenever Hamas, Islamic Jihad, or Hezbollah uses civilians to shield its weapons or fighters from lawful attack, the terror group commits a war crime violating the Fourth Geneva Convention and customary international law. During the May 2021 Gaza conflict, several outside observers publicly reported Hamas’ use of civilians as human shields for its weapons and fighters. The Associated Press found that “Palestinian fighters are clearly operating in built-up residential areas and have positioned tunnels, rocket launchers, and command and control infrastructure near schools, mosques, and homes.”

NATO Concerns on Human Shields

In 2019, then-NATO’s Supreme Allied Commander Europe, General Curtis Scaparrotti, said, “[I]t is essential that further measures be taken at the national level to maximize enforcement of the international legal prohibition of the use of human shields.” Scaparrotti specifically urged “imposition of sanctions” and “spotlighting of violations.” Such national measures “would decidedly become a major and substantial contribution” to NATO operations.

Demanding Accountability

In addition to using U.S. sanctions to hold people and groups accountable for using human shields, the Biden administration could raise concerns at the United Nations (UN) Security Council, the UN Human Rights Council, the upcoming World Health Assembly, and other appropriate international fora.

Source: fdd.org

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https://www.fdd.org/analysis/2023/05/12/human-shields-allegedly-used-by-iran-backed-islamic-jihad/

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Arab World

 

King Salman invites President of Tunisia to Arab League Council meeting

May 12, 2023

RIYADH: King Salman sent an invitation on Friday to the President of Tunisia to participate in the Arab League Council meeting, the Saudi Foreign Ministry said.

The meeting is taking place in Saudi Arabia on May 19.

The Saudi ambassador to Tunisia, Abdulaziz bin Ali Al-Saqr, delivered the message during his meeting with President Kais Saied at Carthage Palace in Tunis.

Al-Saqr conveyed to Saied the greetings of King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, while the president did the same to the Saudi leadership.

King Salman earlier this week sent invitations to the emir of Qatar and the sultan of Oman to attend the 32nd regular session.

Source: arabnews.com

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https://www.arabnews.com/node/2302421/saudi-arabia

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Saudi Arabia’s green achievements praised at UN forum

May 13, 2023

 RIYADH: Saudi Arabia, represented by the National Center for Vegetation Development and Combating Desertification, attended the 18th session of the UN Forum on Forests in New York City from May 8-12.

During the event, the center shed light on the various initiatives, ambitious plans and achievements related to forest development, protection and sustainability within the framework of the Saudi Green Initiative.

The International Union for Conservation of Nature highlighted opportunities for forest ecosystem restoration, in addition to the G20 Global Land Initiative.

The forum praised the initiative adopted by the center to plant 60 million trees and rehabilitate 300,000 hectares of forest lands and valleys, in addition to the implementation of the national forest strategy’s programs and projects.

It also announced that the Kingdom will host the 16th session of the Conference of the Parties (COP 16) to the UN Convention to Combat Desertification.

The forum welcomed the participation of a large number of delegations of UN member states, including ambassadors and representatives of countries and organizations.

The attendees expressed their admiration for the ambitious work and environmental achievements of the Kingdom.

The UNFF meets annually at UN headquarters in New York City with the aim of protecting, developing and sustaining forests around the world to help promote social development, improve livelihoods and contribute to poverty eradication, at a time when forests are threatened by unsustainable practices and economic crises.

Source: arabnews.com

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https://www.arabnews.com/node/2302451/saudi-arabia

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Saudi students head to US for international science fair

May 12, 2023

RIYADH: A Saudi science and engineering team of 35 students are taking part in the Regeneron International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF 2023) in Dallas, US, from May 12-19.

The team are taking part through the support of the King Abdullah and His Companions Foundation for Giftedness and Creativity (Mawhiba) and the Saudi Ministry of Education.

The science and engineering team will compete with 1,800 students from about 70 countries.

It is the Kingdom’s 17th consecutive participation in the ISEF exhibition since 2007, as part of an annual program organized by Mawhiba in partnership with the Ministry of Education.

Team members were chosen from winners of the grand prizes at the National Olympiad for Scientific Creativity “Ibdaa 2023,” one of the various programs that Mawhiba offers annually for talented students. The 35-student team was selected from among 146,000 boys and girls who had registered for the Ibdaa.

The Regeneron ISEF 2023 finalists will compete for almost $9 million in awards, prizes and scholarships throughout the course of the event.

Dr. Amal bint Abdullah Al-Hazaa, secretary general of Mawhiba, said that the “Saudi team for science and engineering represents the elite students of the Kingdom who have reached this stage after a long journey of training, qualification and participation in Mawhiba programs.”

She added that Saudi student programs had qualified them for ISEF 2023, enabling them to reach a higher scientific and research level.

Saudi students bagged 106 prizes at ISEF last year, including 69 grand awards and 37 special awards.

This year’s Saudi team members took part in an intensive series of training with the help of Saudi and foreign trainers, including academics, experts and arbitrators in various disciplines.

Source: arabnews.com

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https://www.arabnews.com/node/2302426/saudi-arabia

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Golden Palm awards for victors at Saudi Film Festival

May 12, 2023

 DHAHRAN: Winners celebrated their Golden Palm awards at the conclusion of the ninth Saudi Film Festival, the event toasting a bright future for the country’s cinema industry.

Mansour Assad, who directed the film “Slave” which was nominated for several awards, was delighted to be clutching three Golden Palms at the end of the proceedings.

He said: “I am so happy. Thank you so much to the Saudi Film Festival. I actually won three awards and I could not have imagined winning more than one.”

Hakim Juma won a best actor award for his performance in “Don’t Go Too Far,” a short film about a man suffering from mental illness who gets lost in a busy subway in New York.

He told Arab News: “Everyone here is a peer and a colleague and a mentor. The fact that I got nominated alone, that for me was enough, but to win as well, it just went the extra mile for me. I am elated but it’s still pretty surreal for me.”

Maram Taibah, the director of the short film which was released in 2018, said that the story was based on her fear of losing her older brother.

She said: “To face that fear, I decided to make a film about it and kind of explore what this character’s journey would be like.

“What I love about it is that there are devastating moments, there are innocent moments, there are playful moments. And it was such a joy writing it and making it.”

Taibah added that she loved being a part of the festival and hopes to direct another film for next year’s event.

She said: “I really hope to share more work because this place is a meeting point where all of us creatives get together and it’s where we come to celebrate what we make and what we create.”

Salma Murad, director of the film “Kabreet,” picked up another award.

She said: “The journey was so long that right now getting this award feels like the most surreal and overwhelming feeling I have ever experienced.

“I don’t even have words. I need a few days to process what just happened.”

Film festival director Ahmed Almullah said that preparations for next year’s event were already underway.

He added: “At the finale, the closing night of the festival, it is natural to have mixed feelings of joy and sadness.

“(We are) happy to see our hopes, programs and planning throughout the year be fulfilled, but also sad because tomorrow everyone will part ways. However, the beautiful memories will remain.

“A great sense of love prevailed during these eight days and nights, during which not only new relationships have been forged, but future projects saw the light.

“We promise that the 10th session will be special and we have already started planning for it. We are working on an eye-catching program.”

Source: arabnews.com

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https://www.arabnews.com/node/2302301/saudi-arabia

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Saudi Arabia concludes evacuation operations in Sudan

May 12, 2023

 RIYADH: Saudi Arabia has concluded all humanitarian evacuations of its citizens and nationals of other countries from Sudan, the Saudi Press Agency said early Friday.

The evacuations, implemented by the Royal Saudi Navy and Air Force, included 8,455 people, 404 of whom are Saudi citizens, and 8,051 people from 110 nationalities.

The Kingdom also assisted other countries in evacuating 11,184 of their citizens to the Kingdom and then to their countries. It provided them with full care and follow-up throughout the stages of the operation.

The Saudi foreign ministry thanked Sudan for their cooperation in facilitating the evacuations.

It also thanked all countries that followed up on the affairs of their nationals who were evacuated from Sudan, and cooperated in completing the procedures regarding their return to their countries.

The evacuations came under the directives and follow-up of King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and in response to requests the Kingdom received from many countries.

Source: arabnews.com

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https://www.arabnews.com/node/2301891/saudi-arabia

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Europe

 

New UK Report Reinforces Poor Levels of Religious Literacyin the British Government and the Public Sector

Khadijah Elshayyal

12 May 2023

In emphasising the dearth of religious literacy in the British government and the public sector, the recently released Bloom review seeks to raise the game when it comes to the state’s engagement with faith.

The independent review, published last month, challenges the government to take religion seriously by recommending the institution of an Independent Faith Champion to take the lead on consulting fairly with faith groups and establishing oversight.

The report by faith engagement adviser Colin Bloom expresses concern about poor levels of religious literacy, and this is not misplaced. But his recommendations fall short of scrutinising the government’s longstanding prejudices against Muslim civic activism, and as such, it could serve to entrench the draconian reach of the state in regulating minority faiths and containing dissenting perspectives.

Setting the tone for the rest of the document, the review’s foreword presents a curiously simplistic typology of three different categories when it comes to faith or belief. Bloom’s “true believers” and “non-believers” are the good guys - “sincere, peaceful and decent”, and thus deserving to be taken seriously by government.

In contrast, “make-believers” are portrayed as insincere trouble-makers, guided by some form of self-interest and employing subterfuge to unfairly exert their influence - a problem and a threat for government and communities alike.

This is a judgment on which voices can be regarded as legitimate or representative. The problem with this framing is that it relies on subjective descriptors, which when handed over to government leave their interpretations reliant on specific implied notions of peacefulness, decency and sincerity - namely, ones that comply with the politically charged parameters laid down by the state.

For a government whose ministers have long been proponents of a hawkish nativism, and indeed continue to champion such agendas, there is little doubt that in today’s highly securitised and xenophobic political climate, critical and dissenting Muslim civic voices will be classified as a threat to peace - as subversive and illegitimate disruptors.

The language of 'peace'

The repeated calls in the review for government to reinforce a distinction between Islam (or “peace-loving Muslims”) and Islamism only underline this reality. It has long been a feature of post-9/11 political discourse that a conditional acceptance of Muslim civic actors is predicated on their being “peaceful”, or unproblematic to the prevailing direction of political travel.

Thus, the “true” Islam of the majority is peaceful and docile, whereas “activist” Muslims who seek to question political arrangements or to effect change are disruptive, even extremist, Islamists.

And so, in a by-now-familiar fashion, the language of “peace” is used as a foil for the promotion of quietism towards an aggressive state agenda, where handpicked peaceful (read: compliant) voices are held up as agreeable interlocutors and exemplars, and critical or dissenting ones are excluded and demonised.

 Recommendations to extend the reach of the state in a range of civic domains should be considered within this context. Heavier regulation in the name of “safeguarding” by a state that has a track record of suspicion towards Muslims raises concerns. That the focus on safeguarding and greater state regulation appears largely focused on minority faiths only underscores this issue.

Although there is much talk in the Bloom review of fair engagement with faith groups, it offers little by way of directly assessing who should be included and how this would be decided.

On the question of state engagement with Muslims, the huge and persistent elephant in the room remains how and why successive Conservative administrations have continued to shut out and actively demonise the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB).

A tired and lazy justification that has long been recycled relates to the council’s allegedly inadequate condemnation of extremism - a double standard to which other religions are not held. It is laughable to think that such charges continue to be levelled without scrutiny, against a group that has gone to great lengths to chronicle its efforts to condemn terrorism.

Convenient platitudes

In Britain, there is a longstanding, implicit policy of variable engagement between the government and minority faith communal and representative bodies. For years, the annual dinner of the Jewish Community Security Trust has been a regular fixture in the home secretary’s diary; meanwhile, public figures are rebuked for dealing with the MCB.

While some commentary has hailed aspects of the Bloom review as a critical call for action from the government in everyday areas where Muslims experience exclusion and discrimination - for example, on allowing sharia-compliant student loans - these are long-overdue measures that have been repeatedly ignored or shelved.

And, although necessary, their inclusion could be read by some as barely consolatory, in view of how Muslim public life now stands to be increasingly regulated and restricted by the expanding reach of the state.

In a similar vein, while anyone familiar with community life in contemporary Britain knows the indispensable roles played by so many people of faith in serving and helping others, minority faith communities do not need to be told (again) that their contribution to the country is vital and appreciated, and that it thus makes them worthy of recognition.

There is ample appreciation of these facts among Muslim organisations who are rather crying out for better resources, capacity building, and genuinely equitable engagement.

Reassurances that a “vast majority” of British Muslims are viewed as loyal, law-abiding and integral to the nation offer very little, if such reassurances are laced with the conditionality that their politics are unproblematic to the state’s political agenda.

While these platitudes might have for decades provided convenient and reliable content for official messages put out by politicians on Eid and other formal occasions, British Muslims today are more alert than ever to the hostile civic environment within which they operate - and if the Bloom review is anything to go by, things are only going to get worse.

The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Eye.

Source: middleeasteye.net

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https://www.middleeasteye.net/opinion/uk-islam-bloom-review-false-narrative-good-bad-muslims

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Head of Islamic Community of Montenegro sends letter to President Ilham Aliyev on occasion of 100th anniversary of birth of Heydar Aliyev

12 May 2023

BAKU, Azerbaijan, May 12. Head of the Islamic Community of Montenegro Rifat Fejzic has sent a letter to the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev on the occasion of the 100th anniversary of the birth of Heydar Aliyev, Trend reports.

Will be updated

Source: en.trend.az

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https://en.trend.az/azerbaijan/politics/3747555.html

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Barnstaple man admits mosque harassment

12 MAY 2023

ByPaul Greaves

A Barnstaple man has admitted religiously aggravated harassment of an Islamic centre in Barnstaple. Marcus Offield, aged 59, of Princess Street, pleaded guilty to the single offence when he appeared at Exeter Crown Court on Friday (May 12).

It is in connection to his behaviour between October 17 and October 29 last year. The charge says he pursued a course of conduct which amounted to the harassment of the Islamic community based at the mosque at in Vicarage Street.

Offield was represented in court by Mr Herc Ashworth. Judge David Evans said the defendant would most likely receive a community order with unpaid work when he returns to court to be sentenced.

He will be sentenced on July 26.

Source: devonlive.com

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https://www.devonlive.com/news/devon-news/barnstaple-man-admits-mosque-harassment-8436219

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North America

 

Video shows 'barbaric attack' on 67-year-old man outside Scarborough mosque

By Michael Ranger

May 12, 2023

Toronto police are investigating after a man was violently attacked outside a mosque in the city’s east end.

Investigators say the assault occurred around 7:50 p.m. on Wednesday at Baitul Aman Masjid near Victoria Park and Danforth avenues. Video surveillance shows a man walking in the parking lot when two suspects approach and start attacking him.

“This is a barbaric attack,” says Imam Muhammad Kamruzzaman. “We strongly condemn this heinous attack on an innocent man.”

The surveillance footage from the mosque’s security camera shows the victim walk into the parking lot carrying bags. He is quickly approached by two suspects, one of whom is holding what appeared to be a baseball bat.

The suspects start to to attack the victim, swinging the bat at him and then stomping him repeatedly once he falls to the ground. A grey sedan pulls up during the ongoing attack and the two suspects get inside the vehicle as it drives off.

Kamruzzaman identified the victim as 67-year-old Mahbubul Alam Chowdhury, adding he is a member of the mosque and a well-known person in the community.

He says Chowdhury was unable to walk on his own after the attack and went to hospital on Wednesday night. He was released and returned home on Thursday.

“I demand proper investigation into this incident and these cowards must face the weight of justice,” Kamruzzaman says.

Police say the attack does not appear to be hate-motivated.

Premier Doug Ford condemned the attack, saying his recommendation for people who want to discriminate is to “get the heck out of the province – I don’t want you here.”

“We have zero tolerance for any discrimination, it just has no place here in Ontario,” said Ford during an unrelated news conference in Oshawa. “We live in such an inclusive province and that’s what attracts people from around the world that they know they’re going to come here, they’re not going to be discriminated against. We work and live side-by-side and it will not be tolerated here.”

Kamruzzaman tells CityNews the suspects are not known to the mosque and they don’t know what motivated the attack. He says additional surveillance footage suggests the suspects were sitting in the parking lot for almost an hour prior to the incident.

He says it is the first physically violent attack on the mosque’s property that he is aware of.

A demonstration to call for justice is being held outside the mosque at 2:15 p.m. on Friday.

The investigation is ongoing.

Source: toronto.citynews.ca

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https://toronto.citynews.ca/2023/05/12/scarborough-mosque-attack-toronto-police/

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Tulsa is suddenly a music mecca for fans of Bob Dylan, Leon Russell, Woody Guthrie and more

MAY 12, 2023

Oversized photos of old-timers like Ernest Tubb and Kay Starr ring the dance floor. That's not surprising, since Cain's Ballroom has been around for 99 years.

Nowadays, newer names like Big Thief and Lainey Wilson take to the bandstand. But the landmark music hall still proudly boasts that it's "the home of Bob Wills."

"Take me back to Tulsa," Wills implored in a song of that name, in which the King of Western Swing was getting cold feet about marrying a Louisiana woman. Take a tip from Wills and beat a hot trail to Tulsa, regardless of your romantic situation.

The Oklahoma oil town in the middle of America has suddenly achieved a critical mass for music lovers. With the opening last year of the must-see Bob Dylan Center, and the remarkably eccentric Church Studio, Leon Russell's renovated recording complex, Tulsa has "y'all come" writ large. A night of live music at Cain's shouldn't be missed, as well as a visit to the Woody Guthrie Center.

Bob Dylan and Woody Guthrie

The Guthrie Center is the reason the Dylan museum is in Tulsa. The Minnesota icon was impressed by what the George Kaiser Family Foundation did for folk-music giant Guthrie, one of Dylan's heroes, so he sold his lifetime of keepsakes to the foundation, which then created the Bob Dylan Center.

Located in an old warehouse two doors down from the Dylan depository, the Guthrie Center transports you back to the Oklahoma Dust Bowl (be sure to don the virtual-reality goggles). Recordings and handwritten lyrics showcase the diversity of songs (kids' tunes, commentaries about poverty and labor, etc.) by the Oklahoma-born writer of "This Land Is Your Land."

When our tour guide pointed out Guthrie's damning lyrics about notorious New York landlord Fred Trump, father of you-know-who, one visitor loudly proclaimed her objection and stormed out of the museum.

 There are likely to be no such controversies at the $10 million Bob Dylan Center. Its 29,000 square feet are packed with Bobabilia: performance footage and interviews, posters and paintings, articles and essays, bootleg LPs and outtakes. There's even an iron gate sculpture by the bard — just no Grammys or trophies of any kind.

What a saver Bob has been: artifacts like the leather jacket he wore when he went electric at the 1965 Newport Folk Festival. Priceless ephemera like a 1964 letter of admiration from Johnny Cash and a postcard of apology from Pete Seeger. Not displayed during the self-guided tours are the extensive archives of manuscripts and papers, available by appointment for historians, scholars and journalists.

The Church and Cain's

The Church Studio received a multimillion-dollar makeover and reopened in early 2022, thanks to educator-turned-preservationist Teresa Knox. She kept many of the late musician Russell's idiosyncratic things (his private olive-green bidet in the belfry, a hand-carved chair with ivory filigree, etc.) in a 1915 Methodist Episcopal church he converted into a studio in 1972. The Church Studio was the home of the Tulsa Sound, where Eric Clapton, J.J. Cale, Bonnie Raitt, Tom Petty, Phoebe Snow, Russell and others recorded.

During the renovation, Knox collected choice equipment such as a Neve recording console from New Orleans producer Daniel Lanois and microphones David Bowie used to record in Berlin in the late '70s.

The Church is available for recording sessions — and tours, where you can see Russell's trademark top hat, childhood art and other memorabilia. Knox also books special solo concerts in the large studio by the likes of Kenny Loggins and Taj Mahal.

Cain's, built in 1924 as a garage for the wealthy founder of Tulsa, is a classic dancehall. Bob Wills & the Texas Playboys broadcast their radio show from the ballroom in the 1930s.

Cain's was one of only seven venues where the Sex Pistols, the notorious British punk band, performed on their 1978 U.S. tour. Volatile bassist Sid Vicious famously punched a hole in the wall of the Green Room. The hole-in-the-wall section has been preserved and is on display at Cain's along with enlarged photos of other headliners including Hank Thompson and Kitty Wells.

With a capacity of 1,800 (there are seats in the mezzanine), Cain's is still the must-play music room in Tulsa.

Beside Wills, Russell and Cale, Oklahoma's second largest city has been home to such music stars as Roy Clark, drummer Jim Keltner, David Gates of Bread, the Gap Band, guitarist Jesse Ed Davis, Dwight Twilley, JD McPherson and Wayman Tisdale, the basketball hero-cum-jazz-bassist.

Other attractions

The historically essential Black Wall Street tells the story of the 1921 race massacre. Murals, a museum and a culture center commemorate this tragic event in the Greenwood district.

The unusual architecture of Oral Roberts University has curious appeal, along with the campus' gigantic sculpture of Praying Hands (an Instagram spot, for sure).

The Golden Driller, another Insta site, is the third-tallest statue of a single person in North America. The 75-foot-tall, 22-ton oil worker was erected in 1966 for the International Petroleum Exposition. The oil man has a shoe size of 393DDD. No wonder the Golden Driller was named one of the 10 quirkiest destinations in the nation in 2006.

The Center of the Universe is an acoustic curiosity. Located in the heart of downtown Tulsa, it's a vehicle-free space where sound resonates in a mysterious way.

Housed in the former estate of an oil pioneer, the Philbrook Museum of Art features a striking collection of Native American art as well as massive formal gardens, a perfect place for solitude or a wedding. The Gilcrease Museum, established by an Indigenous oil magnate, boasts the world's largest collection of art of the American West.

Memorial Park Cemetery has the conspicuous headstones of music heroes Clark and Russell as well as the plain graves of Wills and comic Sam Kinison, for which you might need directions from a cemetery worker.

Source: startribune.com

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https://www.startribune.com/tulsa-bob-dylan-leon-russell-woody-guthrie-black-wall-street-cains-ballroom-jj-cale-bob-wills/600274390/

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Suspect vandalizes St. Paul mosque weeks after two Minneapolis mosque fires

May 12, 2023

A masked suspect threw a chunk of concrete at Masjid As Sunnah in St. Paul Friday morning several minutes after the last congregant left morning prayers, causing an estimated $10,000 in damages.

The vandalism comes about three weeks after fires were started inside two south Minneapolis mosques in April. St. Paul police said the suspect in the Masjid As Sunnah case had not been arrested as of Friday afternoon, and that the incident is being investigated as a potential hate crime.

The Minnesota chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations posted a YouTube video Friday showing a person walking through the mosque’s parking lot carrying an open umbrella that obscures their hands. The person drops the umbrella once they are close to the main entrance, revealing a large gray-colored object in their hands, and then throws the object at the glass door multiple times.

A chunk of concrete was later found at the scene. Masjid As-Sunnah is located in a strip mall in the Sun Ray neighborhood of St. Paul.

Masjid As-Sunnah’s imam, Abdullahi Nur, who is known in his congregation as Sheikh Abdulfadli, said he has provided information about the incident to the Minnesota U.S. Attorney’s Office. The office declined to comment when reached by phone Friday.

Abdullahi told Sahan Journal that the suspect threw the object at the mosque’s door four times. The YouTube video of the incident shows three throws before the video abruptly ends; the mosque shared another surveillance video with Sahan Journal that shows the suspect throwing the object four times before leaving with the umbrella obscuring their face.

According to the imam, the last individual in the mosque left about 15 minutes before the suspect approached the door. The suspect left after breaking the door and did not enter the mosque. He said the suspect probably left when the mosque’s security alarm went off.

“It looked like someone prepared to focus on the masjid (mosque),” the imam said, calling the incident an example of hate against Muslims.

He estimates the cost of damages at around $10,000. The door is not operable, and congregants coming to Masjid As-Sunnah for Friday prayers will have to use the women’s entrance.

The vandalism did not stop a crowd of more than 100 congregants from attending Friday afternoon Jummah, or Friday prayer. St. Paul Police Deputy Chief Joshua Lego told the congregation that police are working to find and arrest the suspect.

“We are investigating this crime, and it is more than a broken window,” Lego said. “It is a broken window at a house of worship. The St. Paul Police Department knows that your community is threatened by people who would take that action against you because of your faith.”

Lego called the vandalism a “hate crime” because “this is a faith community.” He added that police don’t know the suspect’s identity.

Abdulmajid Mohamed, director of Masjid As-Sunnah, said the suspect in the security camera footage did not look familiar to regulars at the mosque.

“So far we don’t know anything about this person,” Abdulmajid said.

“We urge law enforcement authorities to investigate this incident as a possible hate crime,” Jaylani Hussein, executive director of CAIR Minnesota, said in a written statement on the organization’s website. “As worshippers gather for Friday prayers, they will be confronted with the distressing sight of their mosque’s front door smashed. 

“This marks the fifth attack on a Minnesota mosque in 2023, contributing to a deeply concerning trend of rising incidents. It is important to note that last month, tragedies were narrowly averted when an arsonist targeted two mosques within two days, causing significant destruction and endangering the lives of over 200 individuals, including 50 children.”

The suspect in the two Minneapolis cases, Jackie Rahm Little, 36, of Plymouth, was arrested last month and indicted in early May with one count of arson and one count of damage to religious property. Little remains in custody at the Sherburne County jail.

Federal authorities are prosecuting the Minneapolis cases as a hate crime.

The first Minneapolis fire occurred on the evening of Sunday, April 23 in the bathroom at Masjid Omar Islamic Center, which is located in 24 Somali Mall. Bystanders put out the fire before it could cause serious damage and followed a man out of the building.

The next evening, a fire broke out in the third floor hallway of Mercy Islamic Center, which houses Masjid Al Rahma. About 100 people were inside the building at the time, including approximately 50 children in a daycare located in the basement. A security guard noticed smoke in the second floor hallway and quickly evacuated the building.

The fire at Mercy Islamic Center caused an estimated $50,000 worth of damages.

Source: sahanjournal.com

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https://sahanjournal.com/policing-justice/st-paul-mosque-fire-masjid-al-sunnah-vandalism-cair-mn/

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India

 

'Love jihad' undeclared agenda of terrorism against humanity: Yogi

May 13, 2023

LUCKNOW: Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath on Friday said that 'love jihad' is an undeclared agenda of terrorism against humanity and the film, 'The Kerala Story', draws everyone's attention towards the issue.

The Chief Minister, along with his ministerial colleagues, leaders of BJP and affiliated organisations and schoolchildren, attended the special screening of the movie at Lok Bhawan on Friday.

Commenting on the issue raised by filmmaker Sudipto Sen in 'The Kerala Story', Chief Minister Yogi said: "The film draws everyone's attention towards the problem of 'love jihad' and every citizen and society must be made aware of it. A commendable and brave effort has been made by the film's producer, director, and the entire team."

CM: Zero tolerance against anything that hinders unity

The state government is following the policy of zero tolerance against anything that hinders social unity, challenges national unity, and poses a threat to humanity,” the CM said.

“That is why our government has effectively implemented the Uttar Pradesh Prohibition of Unlawful Conversion of Religion Act on November 27, 2020, by first making an ordinance and then enacting a law against a perversion like love jihad,” he added.

Students from various educational institutions of Lucknow, including the Lucknow University and Arts College, Babasaheb Bhimrao Ambedkar University, Navyug Mahila Mahavidyalaya, Vidyant Hindu PG College, Avadh Girls’ Degree College, Khukhun Ji Mahila Mahavidyalaya, Babu Banarasi Das University, Goel Engineering College, National Law University and Dr Shakuntala Misra National Rehabilitation University attended the special screening organised at Lok Bhawan here.

Source: timesofindia.indiatimes.com

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https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/lucknow/love-jihad-undeclared-agenda-of-terrorism-against-humanity-yogi/articleshow/100196465.cms

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Allahabad HC orders scientific investigation of shivling-like structure in Gyanvapi mosque

May 12, 2023

By Press Trust on India: The Allahabad High Court on Friday ordered determination of the age of the structure claimed to be a shivling in the Gyanvapi mosque in Varanasi using modern technology.

It set aside an October 14 order of the Varanasi District Court that rejected a plea for scientific investigation, including carbon dating, of the structure found in May 2022 during a court-mandated survey of the Gyanvapi mosque located next to the Kashi Vishwanath temple.

The high court directed the Varanasi district judge to proceed, in accordance with law, on the application by the Hindu worshippers for conducting a scientific probe of the ‘shivling’, paving the way for determining the age of the structure.

The order said no harm should be done to the structure, which the Hindu petitioners claim is a shivling. However, the mosque authorities say it is part of a fountain in the 'wazu khana', where ablutions are performed before namaz.

Justice Arvind Kumar Mishra passed the order on a revision petition filed by Laxmi Devi and three others challenging the Varanasi court order.

The high court had obtained a report from various institutions, including the IITs in Kanpur and Roorkee and Birbal Sahni Institute of Lucknow, before ordering for determination of the age of the structure.

 The report says direct dating of the structure is not possible and the age can be ascertained with proxy dating of materials, which can "correlate with the establishment of the lingam if there is any". "This needs a thorough study of the materials surrounding the lingam," it adds.

The report also suggests the dating of some organic materials below the surface can ascertain the age but it needs to be established that they are related to the structure.

The court considered suggestions of Prof Javed N Malik of Department of Earth Sciences, IIT Kanpur.

Prof Malik suggested that to understand the buried material and structure it would be essential to undertake a detailed subsurface survey through Ground Penetrating Radar (GRP). This will be helpful towards identifying the remains of the ancient structures buried if any at the site, he added.

The Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) in its 52-page report had given the opinion that the age of the structure can be determined through scientific method without causing any harm to the structure. Its opinion was based on studies conducted by IIT Kanpur, IIT Roorkee, Birbal Sahni Institute, Lucknow, and one more educational institute.

Advocate Vishnu Shankar Jain appearing for the revisionists argued that the district judge had "passed the impugned order without any basis" and it should have called for expert opinion from the ASI on whether carbon dating could be done without causing any harm.

Additional Advocate General MC Chaturvedi, assisted by Chief Standing Counsel Bipin Bihari Pandey, appeared for state government. He said, "If carbon dating and nature of the structure can be determined without causing any harm to the structure then the state has no objection to it so that real nature of structure could be found."

On November 4, 2022, the high court had sought the response of ASI in the matter and directed the ASI Director General to submit his opinion whether investigation of the said structure, if examined through carbon-dating, ground-penetrating radar (GPR), excavation and other methods adopted to determine its age, nature and other relevant information, is likely to damage it or a safe evaluation about its age can be done.

A suit was filed in the Varanasi District Court seeking the right to regular worship of Ma Shringar Gauri and other deities whose idols the petitioners said are located in the mosque complex.

Source: indiatoday.in

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https://www.indiatoday.in/india/story/allahabad-hc-orders-scientific-investigation-of-shivling-like-structure-in-gyanvapi-mosque-2378474-2023-05-12

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Mideast

 

Islamic Jihad: No ceasefire deal has been reached with Israel

MAY 13, 2023

Egypt has reportedly offered a revised ceasefire deal to both Israel and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad in Gaza on Friday, according to Hebrew media reports.

Israeli sources reportedly told Walla that the Egyptian offer is more in line with Israel's standing than previous deals and that it is being considered.

On Friday, Qatari news channel Al-Arabi reported that Egypt's proposal referred to a temporary and humanitarian ceasefire starting at midnight, in which the Erez and Kerem Shalom crossings would be opened to traffic - while at the same time, medical equipment would be brought into the Gaza Strip, Hebrew media reported.

However, an Islamic Jihad spokesperson told Al-Arabi on Saturday morning that no ceasefire agreement had been reached.

"We have not reached agreements regarding a temporary ceasefire with Egypt, the talks will continue," he said.

"Israel wants peace in exchange for peace without ending the targeted killings," Ynet reported the spokesperson as saying.

Recent Egyptian efforts to negotiate a ceasefire

Egypt had previously sent a delegation to Israel on Thursday to continue to push for an end to Operation Shield and Arrow.

Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry said his country's "efforts in relation to the escalation in the Gaza Strip have not yet yielded the desired fruits and results. His Israeli counterpart, Eli Cohen, had said prior that a ceasefire proposal was sent by Egypt and was under consideration by the defense establishment.

However, efforts led by Egypt for a ceasefire eventually collapsed on Wednesday evening because the Islamic Jihad demanded that Israel promise to stop targeted assassinations of senior terrorists - to which Israel declined.

Source: jpost.com

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https://www.jpost.com/breaking-news/article-742875

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Iran's Top Sunni Cleric, Molavi Abdulhamid, Calls for "Free and Fair" Elections

MAY 12, 2023

Iran's most prominent Sunni cleric has slammed the way elections are being conducted by the Islamic Republic, saying they have led to the election of "weak managers."

Molavi Abdulhamid, the Sunni Friday prayer leader of the south-eastern city of Zahedan, said on May 12 that the Iranian people want "free and fair elections, not the type that is being advertised by some government media for [next year's] parliamentary elections."

The 76-year-old cleric criticized the Guardian Council, an unelected body that supervises elections, saying it prevents worthy and capable people from being elected to the presidency, parliament or the Assembly of Experts. The council has a history of disqualifying candidates who don’t agree with the the policies of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

After Friday prayers, Zahedan residents took to the streets for weekly protests and shouted slogans against the Islamic Republic and Khamenei.

Zahedan is the capital of Sistan and Baluchistan province, home to Iran's Sunni Baluch minority of up to 2 million people. The city has been rocked by protest rallies every Friday since September 30, when security forces killed nearly 100 people, in the deadliest incident in the widespread demonstrations triggered by the September 2022 death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini while in police custody.

The security forces tried to quell the protest movement sparked by Amini's death with brutal force, killing more than 520 people during demonstrations and unlawfully detaining over 20,000 others, activists say. Following biased trials, the judiciary has handed down stiff sentences, including the death penalty, to protesters.

In his latest Friday sermon, Molavi, who has been a key dissenting voice inside Iran since the eruption of the protests, urged the authorities to listen to the people's demands for more freedom and better governance.

He said that officials should discuss ways to find solutions to the country's problems with the Islamic Republic's critics, including political prisoners.

He also called for security officers who attack civilians to be held accountable with the same "speed and severity."

Source: iranwire.com

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https://iranwire.com/en/politics/116471-irans-top-sunni-cleric-calls-for-free-and-fair-elections/

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Israel kills sixth Islamic Jihad leader in Gaza as rockets target Jerusalem

May 12, 2023

A sixth senior Islamic Jihad operative who was on Israel's most-wanted list for 26 years has been killed by the Israeli army in Gaza, as Palestinian death toll jumps over 30 and rockets target Jerusalem.

A spokesperson for the Islamic Jihad confirmed to Agence France-Presse that senior commander Iyad al-Hassani was killed Friday in an Israeli airstrike. Hassani was a top official in the Islamic Jihad’s military council, and had apparently replaced head of Islamic Jihad in northern Gaza Khalil Bahtini, who was killed in an Israeli strike on Tuesday morning.

Violence has resumed in the region after 13 hours of quiet Thursday night and as talks for a cease-fire are frozen. Israel renewed its strikes on Gaza just before noon local time on Friday, after the Islamic Jihad launched salvos of rockets toward southern Israeli communities and the Jerusalem area.

According to the Israeli army, as of 5 p.m. Friday, since the beginning of the fighting on Tuesday morning, 973 rockets were fired from Gaza toward Israel and 761 of them crossed the Gaza border. Israel carried out 254 airstrikes in the Gaza Strip during that period. One Israeli has been killed and 45 have been injured since Tuesday.

The Palestinian Health Ministry reported on Friday that 33 people in the Gaza Strip have been killed and another 111 injured since hostilities began on Tuesday.

At least two rockets were fired on Friday toward Jerusalem. Islamic Jihad released a statement saying the rocket fire on Jerusalem was meant as “an important message" to Israel.

"What happens in Gaza is not separate from what happens in Jerusalem," the group said in the statement.

Hamas spokesman Abdul Latif al-Qanoua echoed this sentiment in a statement on Friday, saying "our strikes are firm and protracted throughout all of the entity to make (Israel) pay for its crimes." Anti-Israel groups regularly refer to the country as "the entity."

Meanwhile, violence occurred in the West Bank on Friday amid the Gaza fighting. The Palestinian Authority's WAFA news agency reported clashes between Israeli forces and Palestinians in Beit Ummar north of Hebron and Azzun near the Israeli border.

Since the violence broke out, Cairo had been working to negotiate a cease-fire. Qatari and UN representatives have also been involved. Despite reports on Thursday that a cease-fire agreement was about to be reached, progress has halted. According to KAN, when the Islamic Jihad resumed its rocket fire Friday morning, Israel informed Egypt it was suspending negotiations.

Know more: Hamas political leader Ismail Haniyeh spoke on the phone with Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian on Friday. The Iranian diplomat praised Gaza's "resistance" during the call, according to the Hamas-affiliated Safa news agency.

Source: al-monitor.com

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https://www.al-monitor.com/originals/2023/05/israel-kills-sixth-islamic-jihad-leader-gaza-rockets-target-jerusalem

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Israel strikes rocket-launching sites operated by Palestinian Islamic Jihad militant group

13.05.23

Israel said on Friday that it had struck more rocket-launching sites operated by the Palestinian Islamic Jihad militant group, in Gaza, and the group fired rockets into Israel, reaching as far as the hills around Jerusalem, as cross-border fighting stretched into a fourth day despite overnight mediation efforts to reach a ceasefire.

Israel has killed five Islamic Jihad commanders since the hostilities erupted on Tuesday, and the militant group has responded to Israeli attacks by firing more than 850 rockets and mortar rounds into Israel from Gaza, the Israeli military said.

At least 31 Palestinians have been killed, six of them children, the Palestinian Ministry of Health said on Friday. It said that more than 90 Palestinians had also been injured.

A rocket fired from Gaza on Thursday evening struck a residential building in Rehovot, a city in central Israel. One person was killed in that attack — the first casualty on the Israeli side in the several days of fighting.

Five more people were injured in that rocket attack, according to Israel’s ambulance service.

Israel has said that the Islamic Jihad commanders it targeted were responsible for firing rockets into Israel, including more than 100 projectiles that the group fired towards Israel on May 2.

Source: telegraphindia.com

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https://www.telegraphindia.com/world/gaza-strip-israel-strikes-rocket-launching-sites-operated-by-palestinian-islamic-jihad-militant-group/cid/1936468

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IDF assessment: Iran is pushing Palestinian Islamic Jihad to fire rockets at Israel

(May 12, 2023 / JNS) Iran has been encouraging the senior leadership of Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ), whose members are based in Damascus and Beirut, to instruct the terror faction’s Gazan rocket squads to keep firing at Israel, the Israel Defense Forces stated on Thursday.

“PIJ in Gaza does not make the agenda,” Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari, an IDF spokesman, told journalists. Instead, its leaders are “living in Beirut and Damascus in expensive hotels and driving Mercedes [on] the Iranian payroll,” as Tehran calls the shots.

Ziad Nakleh, secretary general of the PIJ, who lives in Damascus often travels to Beirut.

“Iran pushes them to tell PIJ in Gaza to keep firing. It’s good for Iran, and in Iran’s interest” said Hagari, to keep Gaza in conflict and to distract Israel.

Meanwhile, Iran is hijacking oil tankers in the Persian Gulf and sending advanced weapons to its radical proxies across the Middle East in Syria, Lebanon, Yemen and elsewhere, the spokesman stated.

Hagari said the IDF is reviewing why the Iron Dome air-defense system failed to intercept the 6 p.m. rocket attack that struck a residential building in Rehovot on Thursday, south of Tel Aviv, killing a civilian and injuring several others.

“The defense is not hermetic, and we are in [a] war,” he said.

‘We have targeted Ali Ghali’

That death marks the conflict’s first Israeli casualty. Some 1.5 million Israelis in southern and central Israel have been under waves of PIJ rocket attacks in recent days after nearly 600 projectiles were fired from the Gaza Strip since May 9.

Of those, said Hagari, 25% fall in Gaza itself, some with deadly consequences for Palestinians. Failed rockets killed four people, including two children.

Hagari described the Sisyphean task of Israeli military planners monitoring PIJ rocket commanders, who surround themselves with human shields, including their families, while issuing instructions to squads to fire on Israel.

“We have targeted Ali Ghali. He was killed in an apartment in Khan Younis, plus two PIJ members. There were no noncombatants,” Hagari said of the former PIJ rocket-launching force commander Israel killed on May 10.

“We hit squads putting launchers in the fields. We hit rocket launchers. One of our planes that was attacking launchers in the field stopped the attack after seeing two children in the field,” he stated.

Of Thursday’s IDF strike that killed Amed Abu-Deka, Hagari said the deputy commander of PIJ’s rocket force was in an apartment with his wife and four children, dissuading the IDF from striking at that time.

Israel held off despite his having orchestrated the firing of some 500 rockets this week at Israeli civilians.

Source: jns.org

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Iran Ready to Share Know-How with Muslim States

May, 12, 2023

TEHRAN (Tasnim) – The Iranian economy minister expressed the country’s readiness to share its technical know-how and expertise with the Islamic countries in the fields of bio- and nanotechnologies, medical equipment, pharmaceuticals and oil industry.

Ehsan Khandouzi has traveled to Saudi Arabia’s Jeddah to take part in an annual summit of the Islamic Development Bank.

In remarks on the sidelines of the event, he expressed Iran’s readiness to share its salient achievements in the fields of bio- and nanotechnologies, pharmaceuticals, medical equipment, building power plant equipment, and manufacturing catalysts of oil industries with the Islamic Development Bank (IDB)’s member states and the other Islamic countries.

The Iranian minister has termed the summit as one of the best and important opportunities created for the member states.

The summit would provide the opportunity to establish joint cooperation and interaction among members of the Islamic Development Bank, he emphasized.

Source: tasnimnews.com

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Fifty Islamic scholars call for Muslims to support re-election of President Erdogan

12th May 2023

Fifty prominent Islamic scholars from around the world have issued a statement instructing Muslims in Turkey to vote for Recep Tayyip Erdogan in the upcoming presidential elections and for those outside Turkey to support him through all legitimate means.

The statement comes days before presidential and parliamentary elections on May 14, with Erdogan and his secular rival Kemal Kilicdaroglu running neck and neck.

Supporters of Erdogan fear that his defeat will signal a return to Turkey’s strict secularist past and will see the rolling back of Islamic reforms under Erdogan’s 20 year tenure.

Here is the statement in full which has been translated by Islam 21C:

The scholars of the Ummah hereby present a statement to the people concerning the Turkish elections, as timely guidance is essential, in accordance with the Almighty’s words:

“And if they had referred it back to the Messenger and to those of authority among them, those who can draw correct conclusions from it would have known about it.”  (Al Quran 4:83)

The Turkish elections hold significant implications for Muslims, both within Turkey and around the world. Thus, it is crucial for knowledgeable individuals to provide guidance on this matter.

It is widely acknowledged that under President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s leadership, Turkey has brought substantial benefits to Muslims. Erdogan’s policies have provided freedom and security, lifted hijab restrictions, allowed for the construction of mosques, and fostered the memorisation of the Qur?an.

Additionally, Turkey has experienced significant political and economic growth, becoming a powerful player in regional and international affairs. The country has also witnessed great advancements in military power, healthcare, and infrastructure. All of these achievements have positively impacted Muslims in Turkey and abroad.

Turkish voters can clearly see the transformation their country has undergone under President Erdogan’s leadership. A comparison of Turkey’s present state to its condition twenty years ago reveals a striking difference, with Istanbul becoming one of the most beautiful cities in the world.

Furthermore, Turkey has become a safe haven for Muslims facing injustice and persecution worldwide. Many Muslim scholars, religious figures, and skilled professionals have found security, honour, and justice in Turkey. The country has also intervened in numerous countries to support Muslim communities, such as in Libya, Syria, Qatar, and Azerbaijan.

Turkey has consistently defended the Prophet (?) against Western offences, restored the Hagia Sophia Grand Mosque to its original status, and advocated for Jerusalem and its ongoing issues.

However, the opposing side in these elections does not conceal its intentions to reverse most or all of these policies. The support that this side receives from Turkey’s adversaries and

those against the Islamic world is evident, as demonstrated by Western media outlets.

In light of the above reasons and others too numerous to detail, the scholars issue this further statement to guide the nation:

Muslims with voting rights in these elections should cast their votes in favour of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the Justice and Development Party, and their outstanding reform project;

Muslims without voting rights should support their brothers and sisters in Turkey through financial, media, political, and other means, in addition to praying to Allah the Almighty.

May Allah guide us, and may He bless Muhammad, his family, and his companions, and grant them peace.

Signatories

Dr. ‘Ali al-Qaradaghi, Secretary-General of the International Union of Muslim Scholars

Shaykh Sadiq al-Gharyani, Grand Mufti of Libya

Shaykh ‘Abd al-Majid al-Zindani, Founder of Yemen’s al-Iman University

Shaykh ‘Abd al-Wahhab Akanji, President of the Association of Muslim Scholars in Turkey

Shaykh Muhammad al-Hassan al-Dedew, President of the Scholars Training Center in Mauritania

Dr. Nawaf al-Tikruri, President of the Scholars Association of Palestine

Dr. Muhammad al-Saghir, President of the Global Authority for Supporting the Prophet of Islam (?)

Dr. al-Hasan ibn ‘Ali al-Kattani, President of the Association of Scholars of the Arab Maghreb

Shaykh Sa’id al-Lafi, President of the Association of Imams, Preachers, and Advocates of Iraq

Shaykh ‘Abd al-Malik, President of the Union of Scholars in Pakistan

Muhammad al-’Abdah, President of the Association of Muslim Scholars

Dr. ‘Abd al-Hayy Yusuf, President of the Ansar al-Nabi Academy (?)

Dr. Jamal ‘Abd al-Sattar, Secretary-General of the Association of Sunni Scholars

Prof. Dr. Nassim Yasin, President of the Association of Palestinian Scholars

Dr. Sa’id ibn Nasir al-Ghamdi, Secretary-General of the Scholars Forum

Dr. ‘Abdullah al-Sadah, Imam of the Mosque of Imam Muhammad ibn ‘Abd al-Wahhab, Qatar

Shaykh Wan Subki Wan Salih, President of the International Union of Muslim Scholars branch in Malaysia

Dr. Hamd Sayyid al-Binju’ini, Official of the International Union of Muslim Scholars in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq

Dr. Ja’far al-Talhawi, Member of the Azhar Scholars Front

Shaykh ‘Abdullah Ahmad Amin, one of the prominent scholars of Mauritania

Shaykh Ahmad Shaykhna Amat, one of the prominent scholars of Mauritania

Shaykh Muhammad al-Amin al-Taleb Youssef, one of the prominent scholars of Mauritania

Shaykh Ahmed al-Hasni al-Shanqiti, Deputy Secretary-General of the Association of Moroccan Scholars

Mukhtar ibn al-Arabi Mumin, Board of Trustees of the Global Authority for Supporting the Prophet of Islam (?), Algeria

Dr. Camelia Helmy Toulon, Chair of the Family Committee at the International Union of Muslim Scholars

Dr. Naziha Amarig, President of the Civilizational Dialogue and Cognitive Integration Laboratory

Dr. Fatima Azzam, Member of the Board of Trustees of the International Union of Muslim Scholars

Dr. Muhammad Husseyn Sad al-Afghani, Professor of Sharia Politics, Afghanistan

Prof. Dr. Abdul Fattah al-Awaysi, Founder of the Global Knowledge Project for Jerusalem

Prof. Dr. Hussein Ghazi al-Samarra’i, Member of the Iraqi Fiqh Assembly

Shaykh Muhammad Harun Khatibi, Member of the Scientific Assembly of Afghan Scholars

Dr. Omar al-Shibli, Professor of ?adith and Surah at Zaytouna University, Tunisia

Dr. Mohammed Hammam Melhem, Professor of Jurisprudence and its Fundamentals, Sabah al-Din Zaim University

Dr. Kamel Subhi Salah, Professor of Graduate Studies, Jordan

Dr. Khaled Abdulrahman al-Shenou, Professor at the University of Bahrain

Shaykh Ahmed al-Amri, President of Beit al-Da’wa Waqf (Lebanon)

Dr. Mishary Sad al-Mutrafy, Islamic Researcher and Preacher, Kuwait

Shaykh Hussein ‘Abd al-Aal, General Secretariat of the Authority for Supporting the Prophet of Islam (?)

Dr. Muhammad ‘Abd al-Hamid al-Shaqaldi, International Union of Muslim Scholars

Dr. Sad al-Din Hassanayn, Member of the International Union of Muslim Scholars, America

Dr. Munir Jum’a Ahmad, the World Union of Muslim Scholars

Dr. Anas Ayrouth, College of Sharia and Law, University of Idlib

Dr. Tarek al-Tawari, Professor of Islamic Sharia, Kuwait University

Dr. Salah al-Muhayni, Imam and Preacher at the Kuwaiti Ministry of Awqaf

Shaykh ‘Abdullah ibn Tahir Ba Omar, Islamic Preacher in the Sultanate of Oman

Dr. ‘Abdullah al-Zindani, President of the Yemeni Renaissance Association

Mohammed Elhami, General Secretariat of the Global Authority for Supporting the Prophet of Islam (?)

Dr. Muhammad al-Mokhtar Muhammad al-Mami

Dr. Muhammad al-Amin ibn Mazid

Shaykh Sami al-Sadi, Secretary of the Research Committee at the Libyan Fatwa House

Source: 5pillarsuk.com

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Pakistan

 

Interior Minister:No Decision Regarding Emergency Enforcementin Pakistan

May 13, 2023

Pakistan Muslim League-N senior leader and Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah on Friday stated that there has been no decision made yet regarding the enforcement of the emergency in Pakistan. He added that this suggestion was one of many received during a cabinet meeting.

Sanaullah informed on Friday, that the police and rangers were positioned outside the Islamabad High Court, and the government would follow the court’s orders.

If there were a reason to arrest Imran Khan again, he would be arrested, the senior PML-N leader warned.

Sanaullah accused Imran Khan of creating chaos and ordered arson and vandalism after his arrest. He added that the court is welcoming a culprit, referring to Imran Khan.

The federal interior minister announced that the government would act against PTI chief as per the law.

The PML-N leader went on to claim that Imran Khan had caused the chaos with his “fully focused hard work,” and his actions were now evident.

Sanaullah said internet services would remain suspended in the country until all identified “miscreants” were arrested adding that in this regard guidelines would be taken from Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif.

Talking to media persons, the interior minister said the government was aware of the difficulty people were facing, adding that it was deliberating to resolve the issue. “It will take some time to arrest those who burned houses and attacked security installations,” he added.

Source: pakobserver.net

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Pakistan: Punjab police arrests 540 more leaders, workers of Imran Khan's party over violence

May 13, 2023

LAHORE: In cases filed against them under the Anti-Terrorism Act across the province for carrying out attacks on the Corps Commander House in Lahore, public and private buildings, the Punjab police arrested 540 more leaders and members of the Imran Khan-led Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) on Friday, Dawn reported.

Since May 9, the Punjab police have filed 205 cases against party officials and employees across the province.

There was a brief altercation between police officers and PTI employees on Thursday night. Police raided PTI's office on Jail Road to arrest party members listed as suspects in instances reported to several police stations, Dawn reported.The party members reportedly threw stones at the police but retreated when more officers were requested to assist.

Following reports that workers were congregating there in huge numbers to welcome PTI Chairman Imran Khan after court relief, the police presence was increased around his Zaman Park mansion on Friday evening.

Dr Usman Anwar, the chief of Punjab police, said in a statement released here on Friday that offenders responsible for attacks on police teams, critical infrastructure, and both public and private property did not merit pity.

"These miscreants are being identified and traced through CCTV footage, video recordings and social media posts," he said, according to Dawn. After Friday's arrests, the number of detained leaders and supporters had risen to 2,790, the Punjab police said.

Imran Khan expressed gratitude to the court for "upholding the Constitution," as the Islamabad High Court (IHC) prohibited authorities from detaining PTI Chairman Imran Khan in any cases--even those that are undisclosed--registered across the nation till Monday (May 15).

Notably, Imran Khan returned to his residence in Lahore's Zaman Park in the wee hours on Saturday after two days of detention, reported Geo News.

He was greeted all the way to Lahore by PTI supporters. Imran took a road route to reach his Lahore residence, marking his return after a tumultuous period.

The arrest of Imran Khan at the IHC on May 9 triggered violent protests across the country. Nevertheless, the Supreme Court intervened, nullified his arrest, and ordered his release.

Source: timesofindia.indiatimes.com

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Imran Khan back at Lahore residence, blames army chief for arrest episode

May 13, 2023

LAHORE: Imran Khan, the former Prime Minister of Pakistan, finally reached his residence in Lahore on early Saturday morning after getting bail and a prolonged standoff with authorities in Islamabad.

After being granted bail by the Islamabad high court, the 70-year-old Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) chief spent hours locked in negotiations with his legal team over his exit from the court. He claimed that the Islamabad police had tried to keep him inside the courthouse and that he was being held against his will.

The Islamabad high court granted him protective bail for two weeks in a corruption case, and also barred authorities from arresting him in any case registered in the country until Monday.

The 70-year-old leader was escorted to court amid tight security, and it took him more than three hours to leave the premises due to security details.

Upon reaching his residence, he was greeted by jubilant supporters who showered rose petals on his vehicle, danced, and conducted fireworks. Khan, who is demanding snap general elections, is facing over 120 cases across the country.

The PTI released a video of Khan entering the house where his sisters and other family members welcomed him and inquired about his health. Khan, who is demanding snap general elections, is facing over 120 cases across the country.

"Islamabad Inspector General of Police (IG) Akbar Nasir tried his best to retain me at the capital's high court. They did not let us leave for three hours, saying that it's dangerous outside,” the PTI chief said in a video message from his vehicle in which he was travelling back to Lahore.

Imran blames army chief for arrest episode

The cricketer-turned-politician blamed Pakistan army chief for his current "arrest and abduction" episode. “It’s not the security agencies. It’s one man, the army chief. There is no democracy in the army. The army is getting maligned with what is happening,” Imran said while taking to BBC correspondent Caroline Davies.

(With inputs from agencies)

Source: timesofindia.indiatimes.com

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Imran gets bail for 2 weeks, blanket protection from arrest till May 15

May 13, 2023

ISLAMABAD: Three days after his controversial arrest plunged Pakistan into turmoil, former PM Imran Khan walked out on bail Friday wearing the legal armour of an Islamabad high court order barring government agencies from taking him into custody in any case — old or new – until May 15.

The bench that granted the 70-year-old bail for two weeks in the Al-Qadir Trust case issued a separate order specifying that Imran can't be arrested till May 17 in any case registered against him in Islamabad after May 9, when paramilitary forces had dragged him away from the high court. The court also granted the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) chief protective bail for 10 days in three terrorism-related cases and another linked to murder registered in Lahore.

The blanket relief for Imran at least till the middle of next week follows the Supreme Court terming his arrest "invalid and unlawful", an observation that led PM Shehbaz Sharif to allege Friday that the apex court was yet again favouring its "ladla (blue-eyed boy)" at the cost of justice. The Supreme Court

“When he (Imran) was presented in court yesterday, the Chief Justice said, 'It is good to see you'. And he said this in a case of corruption," PTI quoted Shehbaz as saying while addressing the federal cabinet. "If you want to keep favouring this ladla, then you should also release all the dacoits behind bars in the country. Let this be free for all."

Imran's lawyer Babar Awan Khan said the judicial system had righted a wrong, declaring the ex-PM "a free man".

At the Islamabad high court, Imran told reporters that barring one instance of being "hit on my head" while being arrested, officials of the National Accountability Bureau treated him "fine".

On the government blaming him for the rioting and arson that followed his arrest and terming it "terrorism", Imran said, "How could I have stopped whatever happened? I had already told you that there would be a reaction to the arrest."

In a video circulating on social media, Imran narrates that he was "sitting in the high court" when paramilitary troops "abducted" him. "They showed me the warrant for the first time when they took me to jail. This happens in the law of the jungle, where the army abducts. Where did the police go? Where did the law go?"

Imran claimed "40 helpless people" lost their lives in the government crackdown on protesters this week. The official toll stands at 12.

More than 3,000, including top PTI functionaries, were arrested in the wake of mob rage on the streets, including a breach of the army's general headquarters in Rawalpindi. The government has since deployed the military in Islamabad along with Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa provinces, both strongholds of PTI.

Mobile internet remains suspended and social media platforms such as YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram have been blocked on government orders.

News agency AP reported that following the Supreme Court's release order Thursday, wherein it asked the high court to reconsider its initial decision to uphold Imran's arrest, the ex-PM spent the night at a government guesthouse in Islamabad. President Arif Alvi, who has been trying to defuse tension between Imran and the government, was one of his visitors, it said.

Since being ousted from office, Imran has waged a stormy campaign for snap polls in the country. He accuses senior military and government officials of plotting the November assassination attempt in which he took a bullet in the leg during a rally in Punjab province's Wazirabad.

Source: timesofindia.indiatimes.com

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Islamabad high court gives ex-PM Imran Khan a 2-week reprieve from arrest in graft case

May 12, 2023

ISLAMABAD: A high court in Islamabad has granted former Prime Minister Imran Khan a two-week reprieve from arrest in a graft case and granted him bail on the charges.

Babar Awan, the lawyer for Khan, says the court made the decision on Friday, a day after the country's Supreme Court asked it a ruling. He says Khan is now “a free man,” and that the decision was just.

The ruling came after Khan returned to court to hear whether he will be shielded from renewed arrest or taken back into custody — a decision that put the government and legions of Khan supporters on edge after days of violent confrontations.

Imran Khan returned to court Friday to hear whether he will be shielded from renewed arrest or taken back into custody — a decision that put the government and legions of Khan supporters on edge after days of violent confrontations.

The popular 70-year-old opposition leader appeared before the same court from which he was dragged and arrested on Tuesday. The arrest triggered nationwide protests in which his supporters attacked military installations, burned vehicles, and ambulances and looted general stores in various parts of the country. The government responded with a crackdown, arresting nearly 3,000 people.

Friday’s court session is part of a series of complex legal maneuvers.

On Thursday, Pakistan’s Supreme Court declared that Khan’s arrest was unlawful, but then asked the Islamabad High Court — a lower court — to reconsider its initial decision to uphold the arrest.

The Supreme Court said it would respect whatever the Islamabad court rules on Friday.

In an initial brief session of the Islamabad court Friday, the judges heard a request by Khan seeking protection from arrest on the graft charges. As Khan's supporters in the courtroom chanted, the judge adjourned the session for two hours. Outside, other supporters set fire to a police vehicle when security forces prevented them from approaching the court building.

The government has said it would quickly re-arrest Khan if the Islamabad High Court upholds its earlier ruling that the initial arrest was legal. It could also take him into custody on other charges if he is granted protection in the corruption cases, the Interior Ministry said Thursday.

The government contends that Khan's release rewards and encourages mob violence. In court Friday, Khan's chief lawyer Babar Awan told reporters that the government seemed to be adamant about arresting the former prime minister.

Khan's arrest on Tuesday was a startling and controversial move — agents from the National Accountability Bureau burst into the Islamabad High Court where Khan was attending a session on other charges and dragged him away, putting him into an armored vehicle. The Supreme Court ruled that the arrest was "invalid and unlawful" because it took place from the court premises, violating Khan's right to justice.

The violence that ensued left at least 10 Khan supporters dead. Dozens of protesters and more than 200 police officers were injured. Protesters torched trucks, cars and police vehicles and blocked highways. Nearly 3,000 supporters from Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf party have been arrested, including Khan’s deputies.

Khan's supporters on Friday again resorted to violence, setting fire to a police vehicle not far from the court where he was appearing. The police stopped them from reaching near the court.

The controversy surrounding Khan — a figure who inspires both vehement loyalty and furious opposition — threatens to open a deeper vein of turmoil in a country that has seen multiple military takeovers and bouts of violence. The unrest has echoed that which followed the 2007 assassination of former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto during an election rally. Her supporters at the time, outraged by her killing, rampaged for days across Pakistan.

Khan, a former cricket star turned Islamist politician, was removed as prime minister last year by a no-confidence vote in Parliament and now leads the opposition. He faces more than 100 legal cases, most involving allegations that he incited violence and threatened police and government officials.

He also faces at least three graft cases, including accusations from the National Accountability Bureau that he accepted millions of dollars worth of property in exchange for providing benefits to a real estate tycoon. A new terrorism charge was filed against him on Thursday for allegedly inciting his followers to violence after his arrest.

Following the Supreme Court's release order Thursday, Khan spent the night at a government guest house in Islamabad, where he met with family members and friends.

Pakistan's president, Arif Alvi, also had a meeting with him. Alvi has been trying to defuse tension between Khan and Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif's government to avoid an escalation.

Speaking at a special Cabinet meeting Friday to discuss the developments, Sharif criticized the Supreme Court ruling, saying there was a “genuine corruption case” against Khan, “but the judiciary has become a stone wall protecting him.”

As Sharif's government contends with the political turmoil amid a worsening economic crisis, it is also dealing with militant attacks. According to Pakistan’s military, two soldiers were killed and three were wounded Friday when insurgents attacked a security post in the town of Muslim Bagh in southwestern Baluchistan province. It said two insurgents were also killed in the exchange of fire.

Source: timesofindia.indiatimes.com

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Imran’s release may trigger violent protests, warns IB

May 13, 2023

The Intelligence Bureau has written to the Chief Commissioner of Islamabad and the Inspector General of Islamabad Police, urging them to take necessary measures to secure state buildings and properties, including police lines, in the event of the release of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf Chairman Imran Khan.

The agency has issued two separate letters. In one letter, the agency recommended securing the premises where Imran Khan is currently being held, as well as the adjacent buildings, to prevent any untoward incidents due to the potential threat of attacks by miscreants.

In the letter addressed to Islamabad Chief Commissioner Noor-ul-Amin Mangel and IGP Islamabad Dr Akbar Nasir Khan, the IB stated that Imran Khan has been making inflammatory statements against institutions, which have resulted in violent incidents across the country.

The agency’s letter stated, “Imran Ahmed Khan Niazi has been inciting the public against state institutions in his speeches for a considerable amount of time, leading to riots across the country, including the federal capital.”

The letter also pointed out that PTI protesters have damaged government and private properties. Furthermore, the protesters blocked the road leading to Islamabad airport for hours, and food supplies were not allowed to enter the city.

“Protesters in the form of mobs took law into their own hands in Islamabad. Public and private buildings were damaged and torched by the protestors,” it added.

According to the IB letter, the release of the former premier could potentially result in a significant reaction from the protesters against institutions, posing a threat to the lives and property of citizens. Therefore, the security of government buildings and properties, including police lines, must be increased to counter the situation.

Source: pakobserver.net

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Southeast Asia

 

PM Anwar: Govt to allocate over RM103.86m to imams, bilals, religious teachers in Kelantan this year

Friday, 12 May 2023

KOTA BARU, May 12 — The federal government is allocating over RM103.86 million to imams, bilals, siaks, takmir and Kafa (Religious and Fardu Ain Class) teachers in Kelantan this year, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim announced today.

A total of 1,170 imams would receive a total of RM11.9 million, while 341 takmir teachers would receive allowances totalling RM3.68 million, while allocations for 5,470 Kafa teachers’ allowances would total RM82.79 million.

“A special one-off RM600 payment will be continued this year for imams, bilals, siaks, and takmir teachers, with 2,605 recipients and an allocation of RM1.56 million,” he said during his speech at the 2023 Kelantan state level Ulama and Umara Madani programme at the Sultan Ismail Petra Silver Jubilee Islamic Complex in Panji here today, in the presence of Minister in Prime Minister’s Department (Religious Affairs) Datuk Dr Mohd Na’im Mokhtar, Kelantan Islamic Religious and Malay Customs Council (MAIK) president Tengku Tan Sri Mohamad Rizam Tengku Abdul Aziz and Kelantan mufti Datuk Mohamad Shukri Mohamad.

He also said that the government’s contributions of RM232.80 per person under the Social Security Organisation’s (Socso) Self-Employment Injury Scheme (SPS Lindung) would be continued for imams, bilals, siaks and takmir teachers in Kelantan, involving 2,605 recipents with a total annual allocation of RM606,444.

“The government also clearly wants Islamic agencies to be the best examples in management and governance efficiency. This is the challenge we must take up together, not only at the federal level but also at individual states.

“For instance, we must stress on financial management and administration governance of Islamic affairs. We don’t want to be involved in any misconduct,” he said, adding that the government, through Yayasan Taqwa (MAIWP) has channeled aid amounting to RM2.65 million so far to the Kelantan state disaster assistance fund.

“This includes RM829,225 for the construction of new homes, RM1.53 million for repairs to existing homes, RM278,700 for repairs for mosques and suraus, and RM10,000 for repairs for educational institutions,” he added. — Bernama

Source: malaymail.com

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Unity govt has never sidelined Malay, Islamic agenda, says Zahid

Friday, 12 May 2023

ARAU, May 12 — The unity government supported by various political parties has never ignored the Malay agenda and Islamic interests, said Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi.

The deputy prime minister said at the same time, the unity governmentled by Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim will not sideline the agenda of other religions and races in this country.

Ahmad Zahid, who is Umno president, said the struggles championed by the unity governmentwere in line with the objectives of the formation and struggles of Umno, which is for the Malay and Islamic agenda.

“This is enshrined in the Umno constitution itself, that we make Islam the objective of our party’s establishment and struggle without excluding other religions,” he told reporters after attending a Hari Raya Aidilfitri event organised by Perlis Umno here today.

He was commenting on the statement by the Parti Pejuang Tanah Air (Pejuang) president Datuk Seri Mukhriz Mahathir who reportedly said that the party would not cooperate with any coalition that Umno joined in facing the upcoming state elections.

Also present were Ahmad Zahid’s wife Datin Seri Hamidah Khamis, Umno secretary-general Datuk Dr Asyraf Wajdi Dusuki, Perlis Umno chairman Datuk Rozabil Abd Rahman and Kedah Umno chairman Datuk Seri Mahdzir Khalid.

“We should also be kind to our friends and the people from Sarawak and Sabah, and they understand that fact,” he said.

On Umno’s chances in Kelantan and Terengganu in the state polls, Ahmad Zahid said he was confident that there was now a trend of the people shifting their support to the Unity Government.

“I believe the trend has changed direction from ‘Anti-Establishment’ to ‘Pro-Establishment’ with high confidence in the unity governmentunder the leadership of Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim,” he said. — Bernama

Source: malaymail.com

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Minister seeks Muslim countries' participation in downstreaming in RI

Jakarta (ANTARA) - Investment Minister Bahlil Lahadalia, through a statement on Saturday, urged Muslim countries to partake in downstreaming in Indonesia in view of its huge potential.

While serving as key speaker during the Islamic Development Bank Group's (IsDB's) Annual Meeting in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, Friday, he noted that several investments had entered Indonesia.

However, on average, investment from Islamic countries for the last five years had only reached 5.5 percent of the total Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) that entered Indonesia.

The notion of solidarity among Islam countries was raised, but as a country, with the biggest Muslim population in the world, most of Indonesia's investment came from non-Islamic countries instead, he highlighted.

According to Lahadia, as a country with major potential, Indonesia is developing a battery ecosystem for electric cars that will become the vehicle of the future.

Moreover, Indonesia has 25 percent of the world's nickel reserves, which is the main raw material for electric vehicle battery production.

Thus, he offered Muslim countries to participate in the pursuit of realizing Golden Indonesia 2045.

The investment management design masterplan involves downstreaming in eight primary commodity sectors, with value reaching US$543 billion, he stated.

The direction of Indonesia's investment policies, under the leadership of President Joko Widodo, focuses on green energy and green industry-oriented downstreaming.

Indonesia is currently halting exports of several raw material commodities, such as nickel. This will also be done once again for tin and bauxite this year.

This raw material export halt became a form of commitment of the Indonesian government in supporting industrial downstreaming.

Before nickel exports were halted, Indonesia's revenue had only reached US$3.3 billion. However, once nickel exports were halted and its downstreaming was conducted, the country's revenue from nickel reached US$30 billion.

The IsDB Group Private Sector Forum is one of the main pillars in the IsDB Group Annual Meeting held to provide a unique network platform for renowned partners and stakeholders, specifically those in the private sector.

Moreover, IsDB also became a platform to promote investment and trade opportunities offered by its member countries.

Source: en.antaranews.com

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Australia

 

End-of-life care on agenda as doctors gather in Sydney for inaugural Islamic medicine conference

Ethical issues raised by end-of-life care and organ donation will be considered at the first Islamic medicine conference to be held in Australia.

More than 300 Muslim healthcare professionals will gather in Bankstown in Sydney's west this weekend to discuss key challenges in their sector, such as equitable healthcare access, chronic disease prevention and using digital health and artificial intelligence.

Shaykh Dr Rafaqat Rashid, a highly-respected Shariah scholar and London-based general practitioner, will address the conference on end-of-life care.

Co-founder of the Al Balagh Academy in the United Kingdom, he is often consulted by fellow doctors or families grappling with questions about when to withhold life-sustaining treatment.

"Taking somebody off artificial nutrition and hydration, that could be quite a difficult decision. Taking somebody off life support, or should we even put a patient on life support?" Dr Rashid said.

"So these are sort of delicate questions that families sometimes do struggle with, and they expect some kind of expertise to guide them through this."

Each case has intricacies

While some scholars strictly believe everything possible must be done to preserve life, Dr Rashid takes a different view.

"I'm more of the opinion that permanent unconsciousness is a time where ethically it would be permissible for you to actually withhold or withdraw life-sustaining treatment."

While leaders have issued fatwas — official rulings on a point of Islamic law — on contemporary medical matters, Dr Rashid said those declarations did not take into account the intricacies of each case.

For example, a fatwa says it is permissible to withdraw treatment when a patient is brain dead.

"Now the question that then arises is, which standard of brain dead do we use? Do we use the brain stem standard or do we use the whole brain standard?" Dr Rashid said.

He said Muslim doctors needed access to more guidance on such delicate issues.

"I think there's very little information out there," Dr Rashid said.

"From an Islamic perspective, it's only been in the last, five years, 10 years maybe, where there's been quite a bit of literature regarding this."

Organ donation encouraged

Dr Asif Raza, an intensive care specialist at Blacktown and Nepean hospitals, will provide an update on organ donation processes at the conference.

While support for organ donation has been lower among religious people in Australia, Dr Raza says there is nothing in Islam that prohibits organ donation.

"In Islam, it is very important to save life," Dr Raza said.

He said a key teaching is that "whoever saves a life is like saving all of humanity".

Regardless of religious beliefs, he said the most important thing was for people to register to become organ donors and discuss their intentions with the family.

He said families of registered organ donors agreed to donate their loved one's organs in eight out of 10 cases, compared to four out of 10 for those who had not registered.

Exploring the intersection with ethics

Australian Islamic Medical Association president Dr Muhammad Afzal Kahloon said the inaugural conference gave Muslim healthcare professionals the opportunity to "explore the intersectionality of medicine and Islamic ethics".

Dr Kahloon, who is a senior urologist in Canberra, said since AIMA was formed in 2018, it had played an important role in promoting COVID-19 vaccines, providing mental health services to vulnerable people from multicultural backgrounds, conducting blood donation drives in mosques and Islamic centres, and delivering first aid lessons.

"As healthcare professionals, it is our responsibility to give back to the community and promote the positive contributions of Australian Muslims to society," he said.

Dr Kahloon said his faith supported him in his medical practice, with Islam and western medicine sharing the same ethics.

"You are always mindful that you need to do the right thing. Somebody has put trust upon you, and you cannot let them down," he said.

Where there are clashes between patients or their families with western medical advice, Dr Kahloon said it was often due to misunderstandings.

"Some issues are more cultural than faith issues, so bringing people who are properly qualified from the Islamic point of view and from the medical point of view … they can provide a lot of guidance."

Source: abc.net.au

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https://www.abc.net.au/news/2023-05-13/islamic-medicine-end-of-life-organ-donation-sydney-conference/102338552

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South Asia

 

The Taliban and the Islamic State Continue to Fight for Afghanistan’s Future

May 13, 2023

by Yves Smith

Yves here. Reading about the struggles to control Afghanistan among the Taliban, IS, and Al Quaeda leads me to ask a dumb question: is Afghanistan properly a country? Just because it is a region of the world that has evaded sustained foreign control does not mean it has the makings of a country, as in enough cohesiveness on key axes (social and legal practices, citizens with bureaucratic skills, respect for law, as opposed to custom) to have a central government able to exercise power. My understanding is that much of the Middle East operates on a tribal/clientele-ist basis, which makes it hard for more modern authority structures to operate. This article gives me the impression that absent the rise of a personality or very tight group that can find a basis for unifying (and at least cautiously) modernizing Afghanistan, it’s going to remain a warlord-dominated hot mess.

By John P. Ruehl, an Australian-American journalist living in Washington, D.C. He is a contributing editor to Strategic Policy and a contributor to several other foreign affairs publications. His book, Budget Superpower: How Russia Challenges the West With an Economy Smaller Than Texas’, was published in December 2022. Produced by Globetrotter

On April 25, 2023, U.S. officials confirmed that the Taliban had killed the head of the Islamic State (IS) cell operating in Afghanistan. Though his identity has not been revealed, the IS leader is believed to have masterminded the 2021 Kabul airport attack that killed 170 Afghan civilians and 13 U.S. military personnel.

His assassination marks the latest escalation of violence between the Taliban and IS in Afghanistan this year. Several senior Taliban officials were killed or targeted in March 2023 by IS, while several IS leaders in Afghanistan were killed by the Taliban in January and February.

The Taliban, a loose Pashtun-centric political movement active across Afghanistan and Pakistan, previously ruled Afghanistan from 1996 to 2001. The U.S. withdrawal and ensuing collapse of the Afghan government in 2021 allowed the Taliban to re-establish their rule over the country, but they have been prevented from gaining full control thanks to IS, which has existed in the country since 2014.

Initially, many Taliban members were supportive of IS’s ability to seize territory and challenge U.S. and Western forces in Syria and Iraq in 2013 and 2014. Yet despite their common U.S. and Western enemies and shared hardline Sunni interpretation of Islam, the Taliban’s animosity arose after IS began to establish itself on Afghan territory and attract Afghans to its cause.

At the time, Taliban forces had failed to make territorial gains and had recently begun another round of negotiations with the U.S. government. The Taliban had also traditionally suppressed the Salafist brand of Islam in eastern Afghanistan in favor of Hanafi Islam, making IS’s Salafist leanings attractive to many Afghans in the region. There was also significant division across the Pakistani and Afghan Taliban leadership, further allowing IS to poach members.

Several high-ranking members switched allegiance to IS in 2014, which also found support from smaller regional militant groups. But of significant importance was IS’s ability to attract disillusioned members of its rival, Al Qaeda, to its ranks. Disagreements over policies, tactics, and leadership caused Al Qaeda to disavow IS in 2014, and they have competed for dominance over the global jihadist movement since. The Taliban’s close relationship with Al Qaeda only made IS more resolute in challenging them in Afghanistan.

In January 2015, IS announced its vision to create the province of “Khorasan,” which would include much of Central Asia and the Indian subcontinent, and is part of IS’s effort to establish a global caliphate. The group began to expand more rapidly across Afghanistan while accusing the Taliban of being “filthy nationalists” and neglecting Islam in favor of their ethnic and national base.

As clashes between the Taliban and Islamic State in Khorasan (IS-K) intensified in 2015, the Taliban’s then-leader, Mullah Akhtar Mohammad Mansour, wrote a letter to Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi urging him to abandon recruitment in Afghanistan and insisting the war against the United States should be led by the Taliban. But it failed to dissuade the IS leadership, who were also aided in part by the Afghan Army’s initial decision to avoid fighting IS to focus on the Taliban.

As IS emerged as a serious threat to Afghanistan’s stability, however, both Afghan and U.S.-led international forces increasingly came to focus on the group in the country. IS targeting of religious minorities also brought it into further conflict with parts of the Afghan population. Despite an initial expansion, IS lost significant territory and fighters from 2015 to 2018, while from 2019 to 2020 many of its fighters and leaders surrendered to authorities.

The Taliban, in comparison, had steadily increased its influence in Afghanistan, convincing the Afghan and U.S. governments to commit to talks to end the war. The Doha Agreement in 2020 put forth a withdrawal timeline for foreign soldiers, saw thousands of Afghan and Taliban soldiers released in a prisoner swap, and the Taliban pledged to prevent terrorist groups from operating in Afghanistan. IS denounced the agreement, accusing the Taliban of deviating from jihad to please “their U.S. masters.”

But suggestions of IS’s demise in Afghanistan by then-Afghan President Ashraf Ghani proved short-lived, particularly as Afghanistan was engulfed by the power vacuum caused by the U.S.’s departure. IS’s numbers were also bolstered by thousands of prisoners who escaped or were freed from Afghanistan’s prisons.

While IS’s estimated 4,000 members in Afghanistan as of 2023 pale in comparison to the Taliban’s roughly 80,000 troops, its guerilla warfare campaign, similar to the one used effectively by the Taliban against U.S. forces, has made it a formidable opponent in parts of the country. By the end of 2021, the group had killed or injured more people in Afghanistan than any other country, and clashes between the Taliban and IS are common occurrences.

On top of attracting more members to IS’s ranks, the Taliban fears IS will erase what little legitimacy it has as a governing force by keeping Afghanistan unstable. The Taliban’s leadership remains plagued by division and lacks any international recognition. The Taliban is also now fighting IS-K largely alone and without the high-tech weaponry and air support enjoyed by the previous Afghan government forces. And having been beaten back in Syria and Iraq, Afghanistan provides IS-K one of the few places where it can expand, causing the group to double down in the country.

To shore up their position, the Taliban leadership has sought to engage with other governments. Saudi Arabia and Qatar are cautiously cooperating with the Taliban, while Pakistan, which has a complex history of working with the Taliban, continues to conduct dialogue with them. The Taliban is also courting India, China, and Russia, which seek to stabilize the country and potentially exploit Afghanistan’s estimated $1 to $3 trillion in mineral wealth.

Pressure is on the Taliban to get results. Chinese and Russian citizens and infrastructure in Afghanistan have been targeted by IS, drawing criticism. And though the Taliban has said it will not allow its territory to be used to attack its neighbors, IS has already tested this in Uzbekistan and Tajikistan.

The Taliban’s ongoing cooperation with Al Qaeda (exemplified by the assassination of Al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahri in a U.S. drone strike in Kabul in 2022) continues to dissuade Western cooperation, coupled with the Taliban’s crackdown on women’s freedom in Afghanistan. Reversing their more radical policies could in turn instigate more defections to IS.

Having fought the Taliban for two decades, a rapprochement with the Taliban would be a difficult sell to Western audiences. But having already worked with the Taliban to evacuate its citizens in August, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mark Milley stated the possibility of coordinating with the Taliban to defeat IS in 2021. Nick Carter, his British counterpart, expressed a similar sentiment as well. U.S. officials have also stated that they “do not support organized violent opposition” to the Taliban.

With the Afghan government disbanded (many members have joined the Taliban or IS) and the weaknesses associated with the National Resistance Front, there is little viable opposition that Western forces can support. Yet The U.S. “over-the-horizon” approach to ignoring the Taliban to deal with IS and Al Qaeda in Afghanistan has its own consequences—a drone strike intended for the mastermind behind the 2021 Kabul Airport attack instead ended up killing 10 Afghan civilians, including seven children.

Nonetheless, the Taliban’s assassination of the individual responsible in April 2023 may encourage soft coordination and informal diplomacy with other countries, including the U.S. Yet because the Taliban remains dependent on cooperation with extremist groups like Al Qaeda, its formal international isolation risks becoming long-term.

Providing a haven for groups like Al Qaeda and promoting a strict interpretation of Shariah law is also a double-edged sword. These conditions helped IS establish itself in Afghanistan, aided further by the poverty and lack of basic services in many parts of the country. IS will continue to attempt to weaken the Taliban militarily, exploit its divisions, and erode its claims to have restored peace and stability to Afghanistan.

Afghanistan’s instability since the 1970s remains ongoing, and the country continues to be a hotbed of regional concern, great power rivalry, and ideological clashes. While most foreign governments view IS as a greater threat, this may not be enough for the Taliban to end its vulnerable isolation and help Afghanistan achieve peace and stability.

Source: nakedcapitalism.com

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https://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2023/05/the-taliban-and-the-islamic-state-continue-to-fight-for-afghanistans-future.html

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Qatar PM meets with Taliban officials in Afghanistan to ‘strengthen relations, increase trust’

May 13, 2023

Qatar's Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani arrived in Kandahar on Friday and met with Taliban officials, reported Tolo News.

He met with Afghanistan's Prime Minister Mohammad Hassan Akhund, the spokesman of the Taliban Zabiullah Mujahid said on Twitter.

"In this meeting, the Prime Minister of that country emphasized on strengthening the relations and increasing the level of trust between the two countries, as well as practical cooperation in the educational, health and economic fields of Afghanistan," he tweeted.

The Qatari delegation also included the head of the Qatari State Security (Intelligence Service) Abdullah Al-Khulaifi.

Mujahid said they discussed cooperation in strengthening relations and trust, and working together in the education, health and economic sectors, reported Tolo News.

"Qatar's further cooperation with the people of Afghanistan was emphasized.

At the same time, the heartfelt message of the Emir of Qatar was appreciated and that country was encouraged to play a greater role in building more trust between the countries and the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan," tweeted Mujahid.

Notably, Qatar facilitated discussions between the Islamic Emirate and the US government that resulted in a peace deal on February 29 of 2020.

Qatar has longstanding ties with the Taliban. While this approach is criticized by some, others benefit from the country's contacts. Qatar's main interest is to cement its position as a regional mediator.

The relationship between Qatar and the Taliban is anything but new. As early as 2013, Qatar allowed the Taliban to open an office in Doha, with the support of the US administration under Barack Obama.

At the time, Washington was looking for a neutral place to negotiate with the Islamist militia in order to prepare for the withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan, reported DW News.

Since 2018, Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, who is one of the founding members of the Taliban, has led its representation in Qatar.

Source: hindustantimes.com

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https://www.hindustantimes.com/world-news/qatar-pm-taliban-officials-afghanistan-to-strengthen-relations-increase-trust-101683946722733.html

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Post-withdrawal, no “over-the-horizon” strikes in Afghanistan

By Meghann Myers

 May 13

A U.S. MQ-9 drone is on display during an air show at Kandahar Airfield, Afghanistan, Tuesday, Jan. 23, 2018.

MQ-9 drones are useful for collecting surveillance and striking targets, but they can spend limited time over Afghanistan. (Massoud Hossaini/AP)

As the U.S. scrambled to get the last of its troops out of Afghanistan in late summer 2021, the Pentagon fielded endless questions about how it could prevent the country from becoming the terrorist training ground it had been before 9/11.

Biden administration officials touted robust “over-the-horizon” capabilities to both gather intelligence and strike terrorist groups to keep them in check. But some two years after the Biden administration announced the drawdown, the U.S. military hasn’t struck a single target in Afghanistan, and U.S. military leaders now concede they lack sufficient resources to do so.

In August 2021, then Pentagon spokesman John Kirby insisted the administration would “maintain robust over-the-horizon counter-terrorism capability, the kinds of capabilities that you’ve seen us use in just the last 24-36 hours,” as the U.S. prepared to evacuate the last of its troops. “We still have that capability. We will use that capability,” an assertion Kirby repeated again this year, as Biden National Security Council spokesman, and also repeated to Military Times by multiple military officials.

By Meghann Myers

But the military commander in charge of that region didn’t sound so confident, warning that terrorist groups inside Afghanistan may soon be ready to launch attacks abroad.

“Specifically, ISIS-Khorasan, Senator,” Army Gen. Erik Kurilla, head of U.S. Central Command, told lawmakers during a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing in March. “It is my commanders’ estimate that they can do an external operation against U.S. or Western interests abroad in under six months with little to no warning,” he said, with the caveat that he believes the U.S. homeland is still safe.

The CIA did target and kill al-Qaida leader Ayman al-Zawahiri in July 2022. And the Taliban killed the suspected mastermind behind the 2021 ISIS bombing of Kabul’ airport’s Abbey Gate, that left 13 U.S. troops and about 170 Afghans dead during the chaotic U.S. withdrawal.

But neither of those involved the U.S. military, calling into question whether that “over-the-horizon” capability is as robust as was claimed, or simply has been delegated to the CIA, therefore is outside the U.S. military’s purview.

Keeping tabs

Counterterrorism experts are dubious not only that the U.S. can properly surveil terrorist activity in Afghanistan, but that the national security apparatus is willing to devote adequate energy to containing it.

“The U.S. is essentially flying blind in Afghanistan, especially compared to the ability to understand what was going on in the 2000s, the 2010s and up through the withdrawal,” according to former Pentagon counterterrorism official Seth Jones, now at the Center for Strategic and National Studies.

During the war in Afghanistan, the U.S. had the benefit of not only surveillance aircraft and other technology in-country, but military, intelligence and State Department personnel on the ground maintaining Afghan and Pakistani human information networks, said Jones, who once worked as an adviser and plans officer for U.S. special operations forces in Afghanistan.

“Even then ... there were still huge intelligence gaps when we had 100,000 forces there, plus NATO forces, plus some cooperation with Pakistan,” Jones said in an interview.

What capability the U.S. does have is hamstrung by the short amount of time any surveillance equipment can spend gathering information over Afghanistan or launching a strike, as much of that dwell time over a target is spent actually getting there, flying roughly a thousand miles to Afghanistan from where U.S. forces are stationed at al-Udeid Air Base.

Jones said that means targeting a high-value asset like al-Zawahiri is possible as a one-off, but without more resources close to the adversary, “you’re going to be very limited in conducting any kind of sustained campaign against Islamic State-Khorasan, al-Qaida or other groups operating from Afghan soil. That is the reality.”

By Rachel S. Cohen

Kurilla’s Senate Armed Services Committee comments have been repeated at numerous other hearings since then, including one in April with the House Homeland Security Committee. There, a former Trump administration ambassador-at-large for counterterrorism shared similar concerns about the viability of reining it terrorism from afar.

“To dismantle a terrorist group, what’s needed is a sustained campaign to eliminate its leadership, its infrastructure, its foot soldiers and so on,” Nathan Sales, now a senior fellow at the Atlantic Council, told lawmakers. “It simply isn’t possible to defeat terrorists using an over-the-horizon strategy.”

In Somalia, for example, the U.S. canceled a rotational deployment that had been helping local forces beat back al-Shabaab, the largest and most well-funded wing of al-Qaida, in late 2020 on orders from President Donald Trump.

But 18 months later, the rotation was back on, as military leadership had complained that “commuting to work” was ineffective in that counterterror mission.

Sales believes that getting a handle on the Afghanistan situation will require not only more funding for CENTCOM counterterrorism operations, but a policy shift.

“If we want to make sure that terrorism remains relatively low on the hierarchy of threats, we have to keep mowing the grass,” in addition to countering China, and keeping an eye on a revanchist Russia that’s conducting a war of aggression on Ukraine, he said. “We have to keep a lid on the pot because God forbid there should be another catastrophic attack.”

More advanced drones that can spend more time in the air would be a start, but he said the U.S. should also looking into basing arrangements closer to Afghanistan, as it once had in Pakistan and Central Asia.

Jones echoed that sentiment, suggesting Pakistan, Central Asia or even U.S. naval ships deployed to the Indian Ocean as a more efficient launch point.

Fulfilling promises

Sales believes the “robust over-the-horizon” talk during summer 2021 was essentially lip service meant to ease the minds of the American public, as they watched 20 years of U.S. investment in Afghan security crumble on their television screens.

“The White House told us that ‘over-the-horizon’ would be capable of mitigating any terrorist threats in Afghanistan after the withdrawal,” Sales said. “One strike in 20 months is no one’s idea of threat mitigation.”

By Sarah Sicard

Relying on the Taliban to take out U.S. adversaries like the Abbey Gate plotter is not a reliable strategy longterm, though it was discussed during Sales’ time in office by then-Taliban “peace” negotiator U.S. Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad.

“The Taliban is not a trustworthy or reliable or capable counterterrorism partner,” Sales said. “We should not be outsourcing our responsibility, the government’s responsibility to protect Americans to a group that has the blood of countless Americans on its hands.”

Pentagon officials have pushed back on such criticism, pointing out that the most recent National Defense Strategy includes a counterterrorism plank, despite China taking center stage in terms of funding and attention.

During his March testimony, Kurilla described keeping tabs on terrorist activity within Afghanistan as “difficult but not impossible.”

“One of the things that we are trying to do is increase our intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance,” he said. “We’re putting investment into long-duration, high-altitude, alternative airborne ISR that can go up for days and weeks.”

A Pentagon spokesman told Military Times, the Defense Department is confident they have what they need.

“DoD can monitor terrorist groups in Afghanistan and maintains capabilities to monitor potential threats and, if needed, to disrupt terrorist operations targeting the United States and our allies and partners,” Air Force Lt. Col. Phillip Ventura told Military Times.

That can include strikes, he added, but there are other options, “such as the facilitation of criminal prosecutions and the seizure or freezing of financial assets.”

A CENTCOM spokesman, Maj. John Moore, echoed that those two non-kinetic options, of arresting terrorist organizers and going after their finances, has helped disrupt their operations.

Despite that optimism, Sales has a warning.

“It’s a cliche, but it’s true,” Sales said. “Our enemies get a vote on whether they continue to fight and they’re voting ‘yes.’ "

About Meghann Myers

Meghann Myers is the Pentagon bureau chief at Military Times. She covers operations, policy, personnel, leadership and other issues affecting service members.

Source: militarytimes.com

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https://www.militarytimes.com/news/your-military/2023/05/12/post-withdrawal-no-over-the-horizon-strikes-in-afghanistan/

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Uzbekistan Opens Coordination Office For Trans-Afghan Railway Project

May 13, 2023

The Trans-Afghan Railway Coordination Office was established to facilitate project implementation.

According to the Afghanistan Railway Authority, the opening of the coordination office in Tashkent, Uzbekistan, is dedicated to developing the Trans-Afghan Railway project.

Meanwhile, the coordination office will promote regional connectivity and trade and accelerate economic development in Afghanistan and neighbouring countries.

Mullah Bakht-ur-Rahman Sharafat, the Afghanistan Railway Authority head and the Afghan and Pakistani ambassadors were present for the ceremony.

The Afghanistan Railway Authority announced in a statement that the three countries’ representatives will work together to coordinate the business of the trans-Afghan railway project at the office.

The statement also added that similar offices will open shortly in Kabul, Afghanistan and Islamabad, Pakistan.

The Trans-Afghan railway project connects Central Asian countries with South Asian countries via Afghanistan.

Source: khaama.com

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https://www.khaama.com/uzbekistan-opens-coordination-office-for-trans-afghan-railway-project/

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Belarus Detains Afghan National with Fake French Passport

May 13, 2023

The Belarussian authorities said an Afghan national holding a fake French passport, who intended to cross to Lithuania has been recognized and detained by the country’s border officials.

During the investigations, the Afghan national has said he wanted to reach Europe, according to Belarussian media.

The Afghan citizen will be kept in detention until his real identity is recognized, as per the existing reports.

Belarus is the route for many migrants from different countries, including Afghanistan, to reach Europe.

Nearly a month ago, the Belarussian police announced that several Afghan nationals who had illegally entered the country were detained.

Since the return of the Taliban to power in Afghanistan in August 2021, millions of Afghans have migrated to the neighboring countries of Iran, Pakistan and elsewhere fearing persecution and death threats.

Many Afghans have taken rather risky routes to reach Europe through land and sea. Currently, thousands of Afghan families are stranded in Turkey and Greece hoping to reach Western European countries. 

Source: khaama.com

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https://www.khaama.com/belarus-detains-afghan-national-with-fake-french-passport/

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Africa

 

“Politicians Have Stopped Calling Me for Prayers”, Islamic Cleric Laments

 Aanu AdegunMay

12, 2023

A former senator who represented Kaduna Central in the Eight National Assembly, Shehu Sani, has made a new revelation.

The Kaduna born politician revealed how his Imam lamented politicians’ attitude. According to Sani, the unnamed Islamic cleric said politicians had stopped calling him for prayers.

Politics Nigeria reports that during election period, Nigerian politicians don’t joke with both Christian and and Muslim clerics.

Sani in a tweet wrote:

“Today our Friday Mosque Imam complained that most of those who came to him for prayers and won their elections have stopped picking his calls; And those who lost have stopped sending their financial contributions.”

In another report, Sani advised Peter Obi, the Labour Party, LP, candidate in the February 25 presidential election, to stop apologizing for the actions of his supporters.

Sani warned that Obi might kill what he described as the “libido of his movement”, if he continues to denounce or apologize on their behalf.

Source: politicsnigeria.com

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https://politicsnigeria.com/politicians-have-stopped-calling-me-for-prayers-islamic-cleric-laments/

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A Ramadan to Remember: OctaFX Supports 1444 Muslims in Lagos

Friday, May 12, 2023

Staying true to its long-term corporate social responsibility drive of impacting households and communities, the broker selected ten mosques while paying attention to the needs of communities around them. During the five-week fast, 1444 Muslims (288 per week) at these mosques enjoyed healthy meals funded by the broker. The 1444 meals is a creative recognition of the 1444th anniversary of Prophet Muhammad’s iconic migration to Medina. OctaFX established a mutually beneficial partnership with the leaders of selected mosques. These leaders helped draw a list of beneficiaries for the Ramadan-themed charity project.

‘During the 1444th anniversary of Prophet Muhammad’s migration to Medina, we wanted to do something significant while keeping the focus on people and communities. This inspired our decision to partner with local mosques in Lagos and bring healthy meals to the most deserving to help them observe the Ramadan fast.’ ‘We understand that it is a special month for Muslims. Thus we agreed on providing incentives to keep people going for the rewards and blessings from the holy fasting. We are glad to have created happiness and impact altogether, in partnership with the leaders at these local mosques.’

Isa Ashiru, the Imam at Onigbongbo Community Mosque, one of the benefiting mosques, said: ‘The holy month of Ramadan preaches love, peace and caring for others. We are happy that OctaFX has approached the Muslim community to promote caring and sharing by giving this form of support to Muslims at this special time.’ Every year, OctaFX rolls out carefully thought-out charity programs to commemorate the holy month of Ramadan, providing educational, financial, and humanitarian aid. This year, it focused on the provision of nutritious and healthy meals. It will be interesting to see what the socially responsible broker will put forward to share with its communities next year.

OctaFX is a global broker that provides online trading services worldwide since 2011. The company is involved in a comprehensive network of charity and humanitarian initiatives, including the improvement of educational infrastructure, short-notice relief projects, and support for local communities and small to medium enterprises. In Nigeria, OctaFX received the ‘Best ECN Broker 2021’ award by World Finance and the ‘Best Forex Broker Nigeria 2022’ award by Global Banking and Finance Review.

Source: legit.ng

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https://www.legit.ng/nigeria/1534281-a-ramadan-remember-octafx-supports-1444-muslims-lagos/

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FRSC not seeking Sharia law to punish traffic offenders – Official

13 May 2023

 The Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC) has dissociated itself from an opinion published on different news platforms that it is seeking the introduction of Sharia Law to punish traffic offenders.

The opinion was credited to the FRSC Sector Commander in Bauchi State, Mr Yusuf Abdullahi.

He was quoted as saying that the introduction of Sharia Law would curtail bad behaviour by motorists as most crashes were due to their negative attitudes.

The Corps Public Education Officer, Mr Bisi Kazeem stated in Abuja on Saturday, however, that the opinion was baseless, unfounded and did not reflect the position of the FRSC.

“The public is humbly called upon to disregard the entire content of the opinion as published.

“This is because it is baseless, unfounded and does not apply in FRSC’s operations and service to the Nigerian people,’’ he stated.

Kazeem added that the Corps Marshal, Mr Dauda Biu had recalled the Bauchi State Sector Commander to the National Headquarters, Abuja for necessary administrative action.

He stated also that by the statement, the sector commander had breached FRSC’s regulations and its Standard Operating Procedures

“Without any reservation, it is important to inform the general public that the FRSC is a government agency with statutory responsibilities for road safety administration.

“It is also sensitive to the country’s multi-religious as well as heterogeneous ethnic composition.

“It is important to state that the Corps is neither a religious nor sectional organisation, but a Federal Government agency established with a mandate guided by the provisions of an establishment Act.

“The FRSC is not guided by Sharia, Mosaic or customary law that contradicts the provisions of its establishment Act, or the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria,’’ Kazeem stressed.

Source: guardian.ng

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

https://guardian.ng/news/frsc-not-seeking-sharia-law-to-punish-traffic-offenders-official/

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