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Islamic World News ( 31 Aug 2018, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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Islamic Fatwa Threatens To Derail Indonesian Immunization Efforts

New Age Islam News Bureau

31 Aug 2018

Aung San Suu Kyi has yet to comment on a UN report that concluded Myanmar's military had committed genocide ( AFP/Getty Images )



 Islamic Fatwa Threatens To Derail Indonesian Immunization Efforts

 Suu Kyi 'Should Have Resigned' Over Rohingya Muslim Genocide, Says UNHR Chief

 Amnesty Calls On Nigeria to Account for Missing Shias

 Muslims Share Stories of Islamophobia – ‘A Form Of Racism’ – In The Triangle

 Dutch Anti-Islam Lawmaker Cancels Blasphemous Caricatures Contest


Southeast Asia

 Islamic Fatwa Threatens To Derail Indonesian Immunization Efforts

 Indonesian President Invokes ‘Panchseel’ To Counter Rising Islamism

 Indonesian Catholics shed fears of Islam through dialogue

 Behaviour of Muslims Driving People Away From Islam, Says PM Dr Mahathir

 Muslim governments stay silent as China cracks down on Uighurs

 China Rejects US Call for Sanctions Call over Muslim Camps

 Bomb blast in Philippines blamed on Islamic militants

 China blames local officials for protest over mosque razing


South Asia

 Suu Kyi 'Should Have Resigned' Over Rohingya Muslim Genocide, Says UNHR Chief

 Bangladesh, US Officials: Unable to Verify Authenticity of Al-Qaeda Video

 Militants suffer heavy casualties during separate clashes in Ghazni

 Afghanistan concerned over disdainful cartoons contest of Prophet Mohammad



 Amnesty Calls On Nigeria to Account for Missing Shias

 Jordan to Host Fundraiser at UN for Palestinian Refugee Agency

 Boko Haram's reign of terror reignites Nigeria's religious wars

 Despite threats, Nigerian radio station battles Boko Haram on air

 27 dead after days of clashes near Libya capital: ministry


North America

 Muslims Share Stories of Islamophobia – ‘A Form Of Racism’ – In The Triangle

 US Mulls Sending Daesh Prisoners to Gitmo: Report

 US soldier pleads guilty to helping Daesh, to receive 25-year term

 Turkey-US alliance should not be 'black and white'

 US accuses Iran of bad faith over sanctions lawsuit



 Dutch Anti-Islam Lawmaker Cancels Blasphemous Caricatures Contest

 Germany Cuts Funding To Largest Turkish-Islamic Organization DITIB

 EU should engage more with Turkey, Russia: Macron

 Rohingya group urges global community to take action

 Turkey condemns another furlough for Greek terrorist

 Syrian migrant subjected to xenophobic attack in Germany

 France says Iran ‘cannot avoid’ expanded talks on nuclear issue



 Cancellation of Sacrilegious Contest Is Moral Victory of Muslim Ummah: Foreign Minister

 Resentment in PML-N over Fazl’s Candidature For President Office

 No decision yet on expulsion of Dutch ambassador, says FO

 Prophet Muhammad cartoon contest in Netherlands sparks fury in Pakistan

 Pakistan Supreme Court to authorities: Extradite ex-envoy Hussain Haqqani from US

 Pakistani experts to inspect two Indian hydropower project sites

 Plea to PM, CJP: 24 Christian families demand allotment of plots

 Pakistani Jew claims was ‘verbally, physically attacked’ by ‘Islamist’ in Karachi

 SECP intensifies efforts against terror financing



 Preparing For Possibility of NRC, Imams, Muslim Groups Urge People to Ready Papers

 From Document Pune Police Gave To Court: ‘Anti-Fascist Front Seeks To Tap Militant Dalit & Muslim Forces’

 Terrorists abduct relatives of policemen in south Kashmir

 Two Pakistani LeT terrorists killed in J&K

 NIA Arrests Hizbul Mujahideen Chief’s Son


Arab World

 Tens of ISIL Terrorists Freed by Kurds in Raqqa for Huge Amount of Money

 Tens of Tahrir Al-Sham Terrorists Killed by Army in Hama

 Hundreds of Tahrir Al-Sham Terrorists Defect in Northern Syria

 Terrorists kill 11 in Iraq’s Nineveh, Kirkuk provinces

 Turkish Army Sends More Military Equipment to Idlib

 Syrian troops will ‘go all the way’ in militant-held Idlib: FM

 Suicide attack kills two policemen near Iraq’s Kirkuk



 Qatari Envoy: Saudi, UAE Working With Al-Qaeda Extremists in Yemen

 Over 200 Houthi Militants, Commanders Killed In Saada, Hajjah Battlefronts

 Israel says not bound by post-war Syria deals

 Israeli settlers set up unauthorized outpost in northern West Bank

 Yemeni minister: UN report labelling Houthi as revolution leader is catastrophic

 Police say Sara Netanyahu suspect in Israel corruption case

 Iran FM urges closer ties with Islamabad in talks with Pakistan parliament speaker

 US still training Saudi pilots after Yemen school bus attack: Report

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau




Islamic Fatwa Threatens To Derail Indonesian Immunization Efforts

August 30, 2018


As Indonesia’s health ministry undertakes a huge campaign to immunize 70 million children against rubella and measles, critics say those efforts have been complicated by an edict issued by the country's top Muslim clerical body, Indonesian Ulema Council, declaring some of the vaccine's ingredients as forbidden by Islam.

While the quasi-governmental body’s edict, a fatwa, did not explicitly prohibit Indonesian Muslims from using the vaccine, experts are warning it is having consequences for immunization efforts in poorer, more religiously conservative parts of the nation and its more than 18,000 islands, threatening to derail the $100 million campaign supported by the World Health Organization (WHO).

The measles-rubella (MR) vaccine that Jakarta is rolling out is produced by the Serum Institute in India, the only manufacturer capable of producing a quality vaccine in the quantity required by Indonesia, and contains materials derived from pigs, which are considered forbidden for consumption by Muslims.

Measles is a highly contagious respiratory disease which causes a rash and fever and can be deadly for babies and young children, while rubella exhibits similar symptoms and can cause death or serious birth defects for the fetus if contracted by a pregnant mother. Congenital deafness is most commonly caused by rubella during pregnancy.

The Saudi-based Islamic Advisory Group for Polio Eradication, a grouping of religious scholars, Islamic institutions, and researchers whose aim is to stamp out the disease among Muslim communities worldwide, has recommended the use of vaccines containing generally banned ingredients if there is no other form available.

“Parents (have) the sharia obligation of vaccinating their children,” Abbas Shouman, undersecretary of Egypt's Al-Azhar, considered one of the world’s preeminent authorities on the interpretation of Islamic law, said in 2015. His institution has spearheaded the advisory group's eradication efforts.

UNICEF officials say the MR vaccination is currently administered in 143 countries, including nearly 30 that are majority Muslim.

In Indonesia, however, the powerful Indonesian Ulema Council, known as MUI, seeks to halal-certify all products imported and made in Indonesia, including vaccines. Its latest fatwa said that while the vaccine contained elements that would be otherwise generally prohibited by Islam, the immunization was ultimately permissible for Indonesian Muslims.

But the MUI's weighing in has spurred renewed public debate on whether Muslims should immunize their children and sparked new calls for the Indonesian state-owned pharmaceutical manufacturer Bio Farma to develop a halal-compliant version of the vaccine. The company, in a statement, said that could take 15 to 20 years.

“Last year we already requested a statement on the Sharia aspects of the vaccination campaign from the ministry of health, said the MUI's Deputy Secretary General, Salahuddin Al-Ayyubi. "To date we have yet to receive a positive response,” he said.

Others argue the benefits justify a more pragmatic approach.

"If [vaccines] contain parts from pigs, it is not a problem. Why? Because the fact is, until today, we haven’t discovered an alternative,” Mahbub Maafi, an imam and vice secretary of the body responsible for issuing fatwas from Indonesia’s largest Muslim organization, Nahdatul Ulama, told VOA. “If we’re talking about vaccines, doctors are the most authoritative, not kyai (Javanese for Islamic scholar), not ulama, in this context,” he said.

In parts of the country where Islam is practiced in a more fundamentalist form, however, the MUI’s fatwa is likely to have the greatest impact – namely in densely populated parts of Sumatra, including the provinces of Riau and West Sumatra.

“The number of students who want to get MR immunization has dropped dramatically day by day. We guess the target won’t be achieved even if the campaign continues,” said the acting head of the Pekanbaru Health Agency in Riau, Zaini Rizaldy Saragih, as quoted by the Jakarta Post last week, adding that only 20% of local children had been vaccinated.

Indonesia’s health ministry has pledged to have 95% all children 9 months to 15 years old immunized, an achievement that would effectively eliminate measles and rubella in the country by 2020. “The purpose of the campaign is to control the spread of both diseases,” the Indonesian Minister of Health Nila Moeloek said when launching the first phase of the campaign in Java last August.

Due to a lack of accessible, quality primary healthcare, millions of Indonesian children remain highly vulnerable, as reflected by a deadly outbreak of measles which killed more than 100 people in the impoverished eastern province of Papua earlier this year. An estimated 150,000 Indonesian children contract measles each year. As many as 10% of them die as a result.

Grace Melia, founder of the rubella support group Rumah Rubella, has worked with the Indonesian government to promote public awareness of the disease’s devastating effects, using her child’s story as a case study when she appears at public forums. After Celia contracted rubella during the first trimester of her pregnancy, her daughter was born with profound hearing loss, brain damage and other birth defects.

“This is the real impact and damage of rubella. It really cannot be underestimated," she told VOA. "The MUI already encouraged us to get our children vaccinated, so why not?”



Suu Kyi 'Should Have Resigned' Over Rohingya Muslim Genocide, Says UNHR Chief

Aug 31, 2018

Aung San Suu Kyi should have resigned as Myanmar’s de-facto leader over the army’s mass killings of Rohingya Muslims, the UN’s human rights chief has said.

Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein said the Nobel Peace prize winner should have risked returning to house arrest rather than being a “spokesperson of the Burmese military”.

His comments come after the Nobel committee said Ms Suu Kyi would not be stripped of the prize she was awarded in 1991 for campaigning for democracy, despite a UN report concluding Myanmar’s army had carried out genocide against the Rohingya people.

The Buddhist-majority country’s military, which has been accused of systematic ethnic cleansing, has rejected the report.

Ms Suu Kyi last year claimed an “iceberg of misinformation” was fuelling allegations of Rohingya persecution.

Her silence over the mass killings has previously been likened by researchers to “legitimising genocide”.

“She was in a position to do something,” Mr Hussein told the BBC. “She could have stayed quiet – or even better, she could have resigned.

“There was no need for her to be the spokesperson of the Burmese military. She didn’t have to say this was ‘an iceberg of misinformation’. These were fabrications.

“She could have said, ‘Look, you know, I am prepared to be the nominal leader of the country but not under these conditions.

“Thank you very much, I will resign, I will go back into house arrest – I cannot be an adjunct accessory that others may think I am when it comes to these violations’.”

Ms Suu Kyi spent 15 years under house arrest because of her campaign to bring democracy to Myanmar, which was ruled by a military junta for 49 years.

Her efforts made her an international symbol of courage and peaceful resistance to oppression, and following her release she led the National League for Democracy to victory in 2015, in the nation’s first openly contested election for decades.

But she has been strongly criticised for failing to speak out against the persecution of Rohingya, more than 700,000 of whom have fled the Myanmar’s Rakhine state for neighbouring Bangladesh since the military began a violent persecution of the ethnic minority in late 2016.

Ms Suu Kyi is yet to publicly comment on a UN Human Rights Council declaration on Monday that Myanmar’s army had committed genocide against the nation’s Rohingya.

In the damning final report of a UN fact-finding mission, investigators said Myanmar’s commander-in-chief and five other named generals should face prosecution for crimes against humanity and war crimes.

Myanmar’s government has dismissed the report, accusing the international community of “false allegations”, and said its army had been responding to a legitimate threat from Rohingya militants.

“Our stance is clear and I want to say sharply that we don’t accept any resolutions conducted by the Human Rights Council,” Zaw Htay, the government spokesman, said.

He suggested the UN’s conclusions could not be trusted because Myanmar had blocked investigators from entering the country.



Amnesty calls on Nigeria to account for missing Shias

Aug 31, 2018

Amnesty International has accused Nigeria’s government of carrying out unlawful arrests and practicing “enforced disappearance,” calling on Abuja to clarify the fate of hundreds of Shia activists taken into custody.

In a statement on Thursday, the international rights organization said the fate of at least 600 members of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria (IMN) has been unknown since their arrest in 2015.

“The Nigerian government has used enforced disappearance as a longstanding tactic to silence critics and instill fear in civilian populations,” Amnesty International Nigeria Director Osai Ojigho said. “Enforced disappearance is an instrument of intimidation that grossly violates human rights. It is unacceptable and must stop.”

“In some cases, families live with the pain of not knowing whether their loved ones are alive or dead,” he added.

The statement said the government had kept some detainees incommunicado for nine years or more, without giving them access to their families or lawyers, and others have continued to languish in prisons despite court orders for their release.

Ojigho called on the government of President Muhammadu Buhari to "do the right thing" and either release the prisoners or charge them with a crime.

She also blasted the government for using enforced disappearance against people who were already faced with the threat of military operations and armed terror groups such as Boko Haram.

Among the detainees, there is IMN leader Sheikh Ibrahim Zakzaky, who was illegally detained by government forces in a raid by the Nigerian army on his residence in the northern town of Zaria in December 2015.

Since 2009, Boko Haram militancy has left at least 20,000 dead and made over 2.6 million others homeless. The terrorists pledged allegiance to the Takfiri Daesh group in 2015.

Boko Haram, whose name roughly translates as “Western education is forbidden,” has used kidnapping as a weapon of war, seizing thousands of women and young girls as well as men and young boys.



Muslims Share Stories of Islamophobia – ‘A Form Of Racism’ – In The Triangle

August 30, 2018



Muslims and other religious leaders called for an end to Islamophobia in the Triangle on Thursday, highlighting a pair of recent events they said show ongoing bias against their faith.

At a press conference, Muslims for Social Justice called on Durham-based Imam Ukkashah Muhammad to share his experience in July aboard an American Airlines flight from Raleigh to Chicago, in which the blind Muslim scholar’s bag was confiscated during his trip to the restroom and removed from the plane without his knowledge.

Muhammad said his bag had cleared security checks and was stowed under his seat, but then taken while a flight attendant led him to the restroom aboard the plane. He said he did not realize it was missing until the plane landed in Chicago, and though the bag contained his wallet and glaucoma medicine, it was not returned for a week.

“This is my normal dress,” said Muhammad, gesturing to his robe and cap. “There’s no mistake if someone sees me. I’m a Muslim.”

Ross Feinstein, an American Airlines spokesman, apologized for the incident but said records indicate it happened due to a mistake. A member of the flight crew took the bag while Muhammad was in the restroom, thinking it had been left by a previous passenger.

Had there been a security concern, American Airlines would have removed the passenger as well as the bag, Feinstein said. But that was not the case in this incident and Feinstein said American would reach out to Muhammad, who had not contacted the airline. He added that records show the bag was returned to Muhammad in Syracuse three days later.

“We take all these types of allegations seriously,” Feinstein said.

A second speaker, Zohra Oumous, told the crowd of roughly 30 people at the Tarboro Road Community Center that she had been repeatedly denied visitation rights at the Greene County prison where her son is incarcerated because she would not remove her hijab, or head scarf.

The hijab is a symbol of modesty among Muslim women, to be worn in the company of men outside the immediate family. Oumous said she was told to remove it and shake it out, which she declined on visits for a year. After she and Muslims for Social Justice complained to the N.C. Department of Public Safety, she said the agency promised to provide a female corrections officer to perform the checks in private. But this did not happen on her next visit, she said.

Her son, Nourredine Oumos, 27, is serving a 27-year sentence at Maury Correctional Institution for second-degree murder — a 2012 Raleigh homicide she said he did not commit.

“How can they stop a mother to visit her son for a year?” said Oumous, who came from Morocco 12 years ago.

A spokesman for the state Department of Public Safety said officials are aware of Oumous’ situation and will investigate.

“While we want to ensure family members have the opportunity to visit their incarcerated loved ones, DPS must balance that with the need to maintain the safety and security of the facility, staff, inmates and visitors,” Jerry Higgins said in an email.

Manzoor Cheema, a member of Muslims for Social Justice, said incidents such as these are too common in the Triangle and elsewhere. He noted the 2015 shooting of three Muslim students in Chapel Hill, reportedly sparked by a parking dispute. The Light House, which stands across the street from the community center, was owned by shooting victim Deah Barakat and has transformed into an incubator for faith-based programs aimed at youth.

Cheema noted that the press conference drew leaders from the Christian, Jewish and workers’ rights communities. “We see Islamophobia as a form of racism,” he said. “We will only be successful if we unite our struggle.”

Muhammad asked that people not make light of the situation because he is alive to speak about it, adding that his airline experience might have escalated. He said he is exploring what legal options to take next.



Dutch anti-Islam lawmaker cancels blasphemous caricatures contest

August 30, 2018

Dutch anti-Islam lawmaker Geert Wilders says he has cancelled a planned blasphemous caricatures contest following "death threats and concerns other people could be put at risk".

In a written statement issued on Thursday night, Wilders said he has decided "not to let the cartoon contest go ahead.”

Wilders, who has for years lived under round-the-clock protection because of death threats sparked by his fierce anti-Islam rhetoric, said he does not want others endangered by the contest he planned for November.

The contest was to have been held at the tightly guarded offices of his Party for Freedom in the Dutch parliament building.

Meanwhile, the Dutch government had been at pains to distance itself from the contest. Prime Minister Mark Rutte last week questioned Wilders' motive for organising the contest.

The announcement regarding the cancellation of the contest comes shortly after Prime Minister Imran Khan issued a statement saying the act was hurting the sentiments of Muslims living all around the world.

PM Khan urged all Muslim countries to use the platform of United Nations to convey to the western world how Muslims feel when their religious sentiments are repeatedly hurt by disrespecting the Holy Prophet Muhammad (PBUH).

Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry termed it a victory of the Pakistani nation, saying it was made possible by diplomatic efforts on the directives of PM Khan.

Soon after the announcement, Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi held a media talk accompanied by Tehreek-i-Labbaik leaders and requested them to call off their protest and disperse peacefully following the cancellation of the blasphemous contest.

The foreign minister congratulated the nation and Muslim Ummah on their moral victory and termed the cancellation of the contest a victory for Pakistan on the diplomatic front.



Southeast Asia


Indonesian president invokes ‘Panchseel’ to counter rising Islamism

August 30, 2018

(RNS) — Indonesia’s President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo, a moderate Muslim who enjoys widespread support from the country’s minority religious communities, is resurrecting the country’s founding secular ideology, known as “Panchseel,” as he aims to counter the growing forces of Islamism in the world’s most populous Muslim-majority nation.

Panchseel, a term from old Javanese that roughly translates as “five precepts,” is a set of principles including “belief in the the One and Only God” and has historically been thought to demand respect for the country’s formally recognized religions – Islam, Protestantism, Catholicism, Buddhism, Hinduism and Confucianism. Promising a unified Indonesia and social justice for all citizens, it has been considered a key to Indonesia’s relative stability since it gained independence from the Netherlands 73 years ago.

It’s also why, many say, Indonesia has never had an expressly Islamic government.

Indonesia’s founding president, Sukarno, was Muslim, but his Balinese mother was Hindu, and he led one of the most geographically and ethnically diverse countries in the world. Even before declaring independence, he established the ideology of Panchseel and later integrated its principles into the country’s constitution.

“Sukarno introduced the concept during the debates about the form of the soon-to-be-born Indonesian state,” Robert Elson, a historian of Indonesia, told Religion News Service. “His concern was that Indonesia should not be fractured by divisions over things like ideology, religion or ethnicity.”

Panchseel was also used as a propaganda tool during the three-decades-long reign of Sukarno’s successor, General Suharto. With the advent of democracy in 1999, it fell into disuse, largely due to its association with Suharto’s dictatorial regime.

That changed in April of last year, when Basuki Tjahaja “Ahok” Purnama, the ethnic Chinese governor of Jakarta and a Christian, was defeated in his bid for re-election in a campaign in which Islamic identity played a key role. After his opponent took power, Ahok, a former deputy to Jokowi, was jailed on charges of blaspheming the Quran.

Concerned, the president began to revive Panchseel to counter the threat of Islamic identity politics. June 1, the day Sukarno first stated the principles in 1945, was declared a national holiday. A Panchseel Promotion Group, with members drawn from Indonesia’s Islamic, Buddhist, Hindu and Christian communities, was inaugurated. There was even talk of teaching Panchseel in schools.

In his first Panchseel Day speech, Jokowi encouraged “ulamas, clerics, priests, pastors, Hindu and Buddhist monks, educators, art workers, media professionals, the military and police, and all other elements of society to come together to safeguard Panchseel and our way of life.”

The country’s largest Islamic organization, Nahdlatul Ulama, has also embraced Panchseel, hoping to deter Indonesian Muslims from turning to groups that promote more extreme Islamic ideologies such as the Front Pemuda Islam.

Panchseel is more than just a rhetorical tool, however. Last July, Jokowi issued a perppu, a government regulation in lieu of law, instructing the Ministry of Justice and Human Rights to disband groups that are anti-Panchseel. So far, it’s been used only to go after far-right Islamic groups, most notably Hizb ut-Tahrir, which was officially banned last year, and was used to justify sentencing the radical cleric Aman Abdurrahman to death in June.

Some worry, however, that defining what is anti-Panchseel is subjective and the concept could be used as it was under the Suharto regime – as a tool to suppress dissent.

Before Suharto’s 1998 fall, said Novan Dwi Andhika with the Global Peace Foundation, “people felt Panchseel was only a political tool for government.”

For now, followers of Indonesia’s minority religions – Christianity, Hinduism and Buddhism – mostly support Jokowi’s efforts to increase awareness of Panchseel. At Buddhist temples in Bandung, Indonesia’s third-largest city, banners were draped calling on all Indonesians to respect the rights of minorities to worship because it was a principle of Panchseel.

Panchseel also allows Jokowi to play both sides ahead of his critically important 2019 presidential race. While he has empowered the national police and government ministries to tackle Islamic extremists, aided by a new anti-terror law, he also made the surprising choice of the head of the Indonesian Muslim Ulama Council, Ma’ruf Amin, as his vice president.

But most Indonesians seem to be willing to believe that elevating Panchseel will help Indonesia negotiate its commitment to be a religious nation with a secular identity.



Indonesian Catholics shed fears of Islam through dialogue

August 31, 2018

Amanda Setiadi says she often used to feel nervous when interacting with her Muslim colleagues due to fears of religious extremism and violence.

"I always thought they would do something bad to me or behind my back," the 29-year-old Chinese-Indonesian Christian from Kelapa Gading in northern Jakarta told recently. Jakarta has declared 2018 as the "Year of Unity."

With her admittedly limited knowledge of Islam, she tried to convince herself that not all Muslims were closet jihadists, or had in some way been radicalized, by trying to keep an open mind.

Yet her fears would not subside.

She didn't give up, however, and decided to learn more about Islam by reading up on it and watching YouTube videos covering Islamic teachings.

In July she heard of a class being hosted by a group of young Catholic writers and journalists called Agenda 18 that was formed in 2003 to discuss issues like religious plurality. It has held a short program of classes for six of the last 15 years, with the previous one taking place in 2012.

But while the focus in previous years was on writing and literature, it has since expanded to make Islam the main topic. This was in response to the changing situation in Indonesia with extremists now looming so large on the radar.

Setiadi is a catechumen, or a Christian convert who has not yet been baptized. She decided to register for this year's program as classes had been scheduled every Saturday throughout August at a venue in Jakarta Archdiocese.

And Setiadi wasn't alone. About a dozen Catholic laypeople joined her. Each class lasted for four hours.

Understanding Islam

Stela Anjani, the group's spokeswoman, said the point was to deepen local Catholics' understanding of Islam in a bid to ease misunderstandings and friction due to religion while fostering greater tolerance.

"Cases of violence committed by Muslim groups can create a negative perception about Muslims in general. This ruins inter-religious relations," she said.

For instance, feelings of hatred against Muslims blanketed the hearts of many Christians following a series of suicide bombings that targeted three churches in Surabaya, the capital of East Java province, in May.

One family — a husband, wife and their four children — committed the suicide bombings in the country's second-largest city. Dozens of people were killed and injured.

"We don't want Catholics to be trapped [by thinking all Muslims support this behavior]. We want to create space for mutual understanding," Anjani said.

A message of greeting entitled "Christians and Muslims: From Competition to Collaboration" that was delivered by the Vatican's Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue in June for the feast of Eid al-Fitr, has also strengthened the group's goals.

The message highlights the negative impact of harboring a spirit of competition between Christians and Muslims, and the need for both communities to recall their religious and moral values.

To that end, the August classes that Setiadi attended invited Muslim scholars from organizations that promote religious tolerance and dialogue including the Inklusif Foundation, and covered topics such as Islam and peace.

One of the speakers was Subhi Azhari from the foundation who taught about the caliphate.

"An opportunity like this is very important. These classes really do help us to avoid misunderstandings," he said.

Father Antonius Benny Susetyo, an activist priest, called the program an "oasis of calm."

"Friction between religious groups emerges because the faithful don't know each other well," said the priest, a former executive secretary of the bishops' Commission for Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs.

Friends with benefits

Thanks to the program, Matheus Kemal Rousdy from St. Laurent Parish in Tangerang, Banten province, says he now has a much clearer picture of what Islam is all about.

"It's convinced me not all Muslims sympathize with those who commit violent acts," said Rousdy, who studies at Multimedia Nusantara University about 35km west of Jakarta.

Setiadi echoed similar sentiments, adding she has finally been able to break free of her misconceptions and fears.

Full report at:



Behaviour of Muslims Driving People Away From Islam, Says PM Dr Mahathir

August 30, 2018

KUALA LUMPUR: If Muslims want others to embrace Islam, they should show by their behaviour and attitude that Islam is a great religion, Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad said today.

Muslims should show that Islam was capable of ensuring success not just in the afterlife but in this world itself, he said in opening the International Da’Wah Institute Perkim here today.

However, he lamented, there were Muslims who were projecting Islam as unsuccessful through their behaviour, including killing in the name of Islam and not governing their nations properly.

“In the first place, Islam tells us we are brothers, but we are not behaving like brothers. We are fighting each other. Islam forbids killing but we are killing each other.

“Islam advocates fairness and justice but we are not practising it. It’s not only happening in Malaysia but other countries.

“Because of the wrongdoings of our Muslim brothers, Islam gets a bad image, and this will not attract people to this great religion,” he said.

Saying Islam was a good religion and a way of life, Dr Mahathir stressed that the way Muslims lived would tell people whether Islam was a good religion.

The prime minister pointed out that what Muslims were doing was not in accordance with the teachings of Islam, and that at times, Muslims were not helping themselves and actually doing things that drove people away from Islam.

The Pakatan Harapan (PH) chairman said in propagating the religion of Islam, it was a Muslim’s duty to show that those who embraced the teachings of Islam would be successful not only in the afterlife but also in this world.

“We have to show that Islam is not a hindrance, and not an obstruction to the success of Muslims. We must be recognised as people who are successful in all fields, in the field of knowledge, management, and governance, among others, to show that as Muslims we can govern ourselves, be successful and knowledgeable.

“Unfortunately we are not stressing those things. We must study the religion of Islam because we must know what our religion teaches us. Unfortunately, we hardly know the teachings of Islam,” he said.

Mahathir said it was time for Muslims to review their behaviour, and ask themselves if they were living the life of a Muslim.

“I feel that we have failed to do so, because you see Muslims are backward people, poor people, even given to begging others for help. When we are like that I don’t think people will be attracted to the teachings of Islam.

“The spreading of dakwah to all communities and people, should also be through showing the success of all Muslims, their love for peace and their brotherly attitude towards other Muslims. That they should not be enemies of people who do not attack them. It’s part of the teachings of Islam.

“If we do that, Muslims will show a good example to the world at large and people will be attracted to the teachings of Islam,” he said, adding that this should also be taught to preachers and missionaries.

Full report at:



Muslim governments stay silent as China cracks down on Uighurs

August 31, 2018

BEIJING: As calls grow in the US and Europe to pressure China to halt alleged human-rights abuses against its Muslim minority, Beijing has so far escaped any serious criticism from governments across the Islamic world.

Almost three weeks after a United Nations official cited “credible reports” that the country was holding as many as 1 million Turkic-speaking Uighurs in “re-education” camps, governments in Muslim-majority countries have issued no notable statements on the issue. The silence became more pronounced this week after a bipartisan group of US lawmakers urged sanctions against senior Chinese officials.

“We are hopeful that the State Department will seek addition opportunities to condemn these abuses while also undertaking robust diplomatic engagement with like-minded governments to further elevate this human rights crisis in international forums and multilateral institutions,” lawmakers led by Senator Marco Rubio of Florida and Representative Chris Smith of New Jersey wrote Wednesday in a letter to Secretary of State Michael Pompeo and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin. They joined European Union officials who have previously expressed concern about the camps in Xinjiang.

By contrast, the leaders of Indonesia, Malaysia and Pakistan haven’t released public statements on the clampdown. Neither has Saudi Arabia. Even Turkey, which has in the past offered favourable policies to Turkic-speaking groups and hosts a small Uighur population of its own, remained silent as Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan grappled with an economic crisis.

Trade Ties

The split underscores how China’s position as a key trading partner and aid provider to many Muslim-majority nations — as well as its longstanding policy to avoid commenting on the internal affairs of other countries — is now paying off. The alleged abuses are also occurring in one of China’s most remote and heavily policed frontiers, making it hard to acquire first-hand evidence, such as photos and videos, that might sway public opinion in the Islamic world.

“China generally has friendly relations with most Muslim countries, mostly around trade,” said Hassan Hassan, senior fellow at the Tahrir Institute for Middle East Policy, a Washington think tank. The Muslim world is largely unaware of the situation in Xinjiang, he added. “It’s not covered almost at all in Arabic media, and even jihadis don’t dwell on it as much as they do about other conflicts.”

China officially denies problems in Xinjiang, a vast region the size of Alaska bordering Pakistan and Afghanistan that’s home to some 10 million Uighurs. On Thursday, Beijing warned the US lawmakers not to interfere in its internal affairs.

“The policies and equal rights that Chinese minorities enjoy are far better than in the US, which has lot issues with racism and human rights protection,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying told a briefing in Beijing. The lawmakers should focus on issues at home “instead of interfering in other countries’ internal politics, playing judges on human rights and casting blame, or even threatening to impose unreasonable sanctions,” she said.

‘Strike First’

China’s clampdown has been fueled by President Xi Jinping’s orders to “strike first” against Islamist extremism following deadly attacks in the region involving Uighurs, and reports that some members of the minority were fighting alongside terror groups in Syria. A Communist Party-run newspaper has rebuked criticism of the crackdown, arguing that it had prevented Xinjiang from becoming another Syria.

The silence on Uighurs contrasts with outrage last year when some 700,000 Rohingya Muslims fled clearance operations by the Myanmar military, which the UN has since likened to genocide. One big difference between the two cases: Myanmar’s economy is 180 times smaller than that of China, which is the top trading partner of 20 of the 57 member states of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation.

China accounts for about a tenth of Saudi Arabia’s oil exports and roughly a third of Iran’s, according to ship-tracking data compiled by Bloomberg. It is Malaysia’s top source of foreign investment. And it has ensured the flow of more than $60 billion in loans for China-Pakistan Economic Corridor infrastructure projects.

Muslim nations “don’t want to damage their relations with China, and consider China a potential ally against the West and the U.S., and therefore they are trying to stay silent,” said Omer Kanat, chairman of the executive committee at the World Uyghur Congress, an overseas Uighur advocacy group.

Over the years, these governments have vocally opposed US slights of Muslims, including President Donald Trump’s 2017 ban on travel from seven Muslim-majority countries. Iranian foreign minister Javad Zarif called it “a great gift to extremists.”

An expert testifying before a United Nations human rights panel on Aug. 10 cited reports that Beijing may be holding up to one million Uighurs in re-education camps. Bloomberg reported in January on the government conducting experiments with facial recognition technology in the region.

The governments of Turkey, India, Indonesia, Pakistan, Malaysia, Kazakhstan, Saudi Arabia, and Egypt did not respond to requests to comment for this story. Multiple phone calls to the OIC for comment were not answered.

Dangerous Spillover

To be sure, maintaining trade ties isn’t the only motivator. Some governments are loathed to draw global attention to their own shabby human rights records. Beijing has largely refrained from involving itself in conflicts in the Muslim world.

Those nations “don’t particularly respect human rights themselves, so it’s hard to imagine that they would jump at an opportunity to criticise China,” said David Brophy, Senior Lecturer in Modern Chinese History at the University of Sydney.

Still, it could prove increasingly difficult to maintain their silence, as China’s policies in Xinjiang spill across its borders.

In Kazakhstan — a neighbouring economic partner key to Xi’s signature Belt and Road trade initiative — an undocumented, ethnic-Kazakh Chinese citizen recently testified to being forced to teach in a camp before escaping. Kazakh authorities, risking Beijing’s anger, allowed her to remain.

The incident shows that the crackdown is starting to seep into China’s foreign relations, said James Millward, a professor at Georgetown University and author of “Eurasian Crossroads: A History of Xinjiang.”

Full report at:



China rejects US call for sanctions call over Muslim camps

31 August 2018

Beijing: China said on Thursday that US lawmakers were wasting taxpayer money by urging President Donald Trump's administration to impose sanctions on Chinese officials allegedly tied to the mass internment of ethnic minority Muslims in camps in the far west.

The lawmakers sent a letter to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin urging the US government to apply sanctions to address the "ongoing human rights crisis" in the region of Xinjiang, in the latest sign that the detentions are raising concerns among Western leaders and governments.

Muslim ethnic minorities in Xinjiang are being detained and tortured and face "egregious restrictions on religious practice and culture" and other abuses, said the letter, which was signed by Florida Senator Marco Rubio and New Jersey Representative Chris Smith and 15 others. It was provided to the media on Wednesday, US time.

The letter singles out Xinjiang's top official, Chen Quanguo, accused by many of turning the region into a police surveillance state and implementing a system of internment camps, also known as "re-education centres," where members of the Uighur and other Muslim minorities are locked up for months without trial.

"The detention of as many as a million or more Uighurs and other predominantly Muslim ethnic minorities in 'political reeducation' centre or camps requires a tough, targeted, and global response," the letter said.

Former detainees who spoke to The Associated Press described the internment camps as facilities policed by armed guards where Muslims were forced to disavow their religious beliefs, criticise themselves and their loved ones and give thanks to the ruling Communist Party. Beatings and deaths have been reported despite authorities' tight control on information from the region.

The detention program has swept up people, including relatives of American citizens, on ostensible offences ranging from accessing foreign websites to contacting overseas relatives. Other aspects of the security crackdown the AP has detailed include all-encompassing digital surveillance, mass deployment of police and severe regulations against religious customs and dress.

On Thursday in Beijing, the Foreign Ministry said Chinese citizens enjoy freedom of religion according to the law and that the American lawmakers should not "threaten to impose sanctions at every turn on other countries."

"I would like to advise the individual US lawmakers to focus on and perform their duties well because they are spending taxpayer money," spokeswoman Hua Chunying told reporters. "They should certainly serve the Americans properly instead of poking their noses in other countries' affairs and pretending to be a judge of human rights."

China denies such internment camps exist but says criminals involved in minor offences are sent to "vocational education and employment training centres" to help with their rehabilitation and reintegration into society.

"The argument that 'a million Uighurs are detained in re-education centres' is completely untrue," Chinese representative Hu Lianhe said earlier this month in responding to questions raised by the UN's Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination in Geneva.

But reporting on its findings on Thursday, the committee echoed concerns expressed by the US lawmakers. China was one of seven countries up for review in the latest session of the group of independent experts linked to the UN human rights office.

"The committee has been alarmed by numerous reports of detention of large numbers of ethnic Uighurs and other Muslim minorities held incommunicado and often for long periods, without being charged or tried, under the pretext of countering terrorism and religious extremism," committee member Nicolas Marugan said at a news conference in Geneva.

The committee called on China, among other things, to strengthen its measures to prevent torture and ill-treatment against members of ethnic minorities, such as by improving their access to lawyers, and to allow independent experts to investigate all deaths of ethnic minorities in custody.

China insists tough measures are needed as part of a "People's War on Terror" to purge separatist and religious extremist elements from Xinjiang, a vast region with more than 10 million Muslims. Deadly ethnic riots in its capital in 2009 killed hundreds and sporadic violence occurred in subsequent years. But reports of violence are increasingly rare and the existence of an effective organised resistance to Chinese rule is widely doubted.

China's Foreign Ministry did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the letter.

Rubio and Smith had raised the possibility of imposing sanctions on Chinese officials under the 2016 Global Magnitsky Act in April, asking US ambassador to Beijing Terry Branstad to visit the region and collect information on Xinjiang officials responsible for the mass detention policy.

The Global Magnitsky Act allows the US government to place travel and financial restrictions on individuals anywhere in the world given credible proof of their role in human rights violations or corruption. For the first time in December, US authorities designated 52 people under the act, including a Myanmar general allegedly involved in the deadly crackdown on Rohingya Muslims and a Chinese police official who oversaw the Beijing detention centre that held Cao Shunli, a human rights activist who died in custody.

Acting Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Laura Stone said later in April that the US was deeply concerned about the detentions and could take action under the act.

Along with Chen, other Chinese officials named in the letter include Hu, the Chinese delegate to the UN human rights meeting, who is an official with the Communist Party's United Front Work Department; Xinjiang Deputy Party Secretary Shohret Zakir; and the head of Xinjiang's Politics and Law Commission Zhu Hailun.

Full report at:



Bomb blast in Philippines blamed on Islamic militants

August 30, 2018

Authorities have blamed Islamic militants for a bomb explosion that killed three people and injured 36 others in the southern Philippines during a festival on Aug. 28.

The bomb, placed inside a bag, exploded near the town hall in Isulan, a town in Sultan Kudarat province where a celebration was being held.

"They took advantage of the festival," said Capt. Arvin Encinas, spokesman of the army's 6th Infantry Division.

The military blamed the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) and Abu Sayyaf, which have pledged allegiance to the so-called Islamic State group.

Cotabato Archdiocese condemned the bomb attack in a statement issued on Aug. 30.

Father Clifford Baira, director of the archdiocese's Social Action Center, called on authorities to bring the perpetrators to justice.

"We strongly condemn the killing of innocent civilians," said the priest.

Sultan Kudarat Governor Pax Mangudadatu has offered one-million pesos (about US$19,000) as a reward for information leading to the arrest of those behind the blast.

"The bomb attack was a dastardly act by evil-minded persons," said the governor, adding that, "only God, not men, can take away human lives."

The town of Isulan was celebrating the 61st anniversary of its founding when tragedy struck.

"This bomb attack was part of the [terror group's] retaliation efforts against the military for losses they suffered at the hands of our troops," said Capt. Encinas.

Full report at:



China blames local officials for protest over mosque razing

August 30, 2018

BEIJING: A rare public protest by thousands of Hui Muslims this month was caused by local officials’ recklessness, Chinese authorities said Thursday, without settling concerns a large mosque in the northwestern region would be razed.

The governor of the region of Ningxia and a regional Communist Party official said tensions had died out in the city of Weizhou, where thousands protested in early August to prevent authorities from demolishing the towering Grand Mosque. The protests were an unusually bold display of resistance against the party’s efforts to dictate how religion is practiced.

“This incident is a result of an oversimplified administrative decision by the local government. It originally should not have happened,” said Bai Shangcheng, director-general of the regional Communist Party committee’s United Front Work Department, which oversees religious groups. Local officials have been ordered to review the incident and “handle it properly,” Bai said at a news conference in Beijing.

“Now, overall, the situation is under control,” he said.

The Hui are an Islamic ethnic minority descended from Chinese converts and Muslims who came to China as traders. Unlike China’s other main Muslim group, the Uighurs, Hui generally speak Chinese and follow many Chinese cultural practices.

The Weizhou protest came as religious groups have seen their freedoms shrink as the government seeks to “Sinicize” religions by making the faithful prioritize allegiance to the officially atheist Communist Party. Mosques and churches have been stripped of religious imagery and Tibetan children moved from Buddhist temples to public schools.

The Communist Party secretary of Ningxia was out of the region when the protests erupted, Bai said, delaying an official response. After the secretary returned, officials held emergency meetings, ordered the local government to review its actions, and spoke directly with the Weizhou community, he said.

“Our people in Ningxia and Weizhou county are living in unity and harmony,” Xian Hui, the governor of Ningxia, said at the news conference. “The people are in a good mood.”

The mosque is an imposing white building that dwarfs the surrounding brick and concrete homes. Its architecture of four minarets and nine domes tipped with crescent moons would be at home anywhere in the Islamic world, save for the large red and yellow Chinese flags fluttering from the ramparts and the wide central staircase.

The city’s authorities at the time were clearly nervous about the unrest. They detained AP reporters and kept them from conducting interviews at the mosque, ultimately chasing them out of Weizhou.

Despite the assurances of local calm, Bai, the party official, said the Grand Mosque itself was still an unresolved issue. He gave no details but the county disciplinary inspection commission said in May that Weizhou authorities had failed to properly inspect what it said was an illegal expansion in the construction of the Grand Mosque.

“This mosque has differences with other mosques,” Bai said.

Full report at:



South Asia


Bangladesh, US Officials: Unable to Verify Authenticity of Al-Qaeda Video


Bangladeshi and U.S. officials say they have been unable to verify events allegedly depicted in an al-Qaeda video circulating on social media in Bangladesh, and which one expert says could be a propaganda vehicle.

The Bengali-language video claims to show seven to 10 men in Afghanistan firing missiles from a mountain high above what they purport is a military installation where Afghan and American forces are present. Two of the men in the video appear to be from Bangladesh.

Addressing the camera, one of the men thanks “those who donated money for this” and “those who are trying to join us.”

Investigators have watched the 12-minute video, Masudur Rahman, spokesman for the counterterrorist unit of the Dhaka Metropolitan Police, told BenarNews.

“But we do not have information that any Bangladeshi nationals went to Afghanistan from Bangladesh and posed in the video,” he said.

“Despite that, we are examining the video to assess the authenticity of the video.”

U.S. military officials also responded to questions from BenarNews.

“In reference to the video … we are unable to verify the authenticity, the claims it was shot in Afghanistan or that the attack itself involved U.S. or Coalition Forces,” Major Josh T. Jacques, an official with U.S. Central Command, said via email.

According to SITE Intelligence, a U.S.-based group that monitors online communications among Muslim militant groups, the video was made by a unit called al-Jibal Media and distributed by an-Nasr. The latter is affiliated with al-Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent (AQIS), al-Qaeda’s South Asia affiliate that includes a branch in Bangladesh, Ansar al-Islam.

An-Nasr primarily publishes Bengali translations of speeches by al-Qaeda officials, and an-Nasr posted links for accessing the video online on Aug. 24, said Adam Raisman, a senior analyst at SITE.

“Based on an-Nasr being the distribution source, and considering its connections, the video is authentic,” he told BenarNews in an email.

“The video is the first instance of a focus upon Bangladeshi fighters and their operations in Afghanistan. While there are dozens of productions documenting jihadi activities in the country, the nationalities of the participating fighters are rarely identified in an explicit manner such as this,” he said.

An-Nasr is just one of many pro-militant Bengali media groups, he added.

“Bengali speakers have a significant presence in the online jihadi community, and not just those associated with and supporting of al-Qaeda, but those for the Islamic State (IS), as well,” Raisman said.

In Dhaka, a Bangladeshi analyst said that militant groups use such videos as recruitment tools.

“Those who support militancy will be encouraged through this video,” A.S.M. Ali Ashraf, an associate professor at Dhaka University, told BenarNews.

“Besides, we have seen a person who was thanking the financiers. This means they are getting money and also they want to assure people who are sending money that their money is being spent for the purpose of Jihad,” he added.

In recent years, Ansar al-Islam claimed that its members had carried out machete-killings of Bangladeshi secular bloggers and a gay-rights activist, but senior Bangladesh government officials have consistently denied that either al-Qaeda or IS have a foothold in the country.



Militants suffer heavy casualties during separate clashes in Ghazni

Aug 30 2018

The anti-government armed militants suffered heavy casualties during separate clashes in southeastern Ghazni province of Afghanistan, the 203rd Thunder Corps of the Afghan Military said Thursday.

According to a statement released by Thunder Corps,at least eight militants were killed and seventeen others were wounded during a clash in Nani area of Andar district.

The statement further added that the clash took place as the Afghan forces were busy conducting clearance operations as part of the ongoing Nejat operations.

A rocket launcher, an assault rifle, a pistol, and a radio set were also confiscated by the Afghan forces following the clash, the 203rd Thunder Corps added.

At least three militants were killed in a separate clash in Meri area of the same district, the 203rd Thunder Corps said, adding that the Afghan Air Force also carried out airstrikes in Seni and Shaliz areas of the district.

According to the statement released by Thunder Corps, at least 15 militants were killed and 17 others were wounded during the same airstrikes.

Full report at:



Afghanistan concerned over disdainful cartoons contest of Prophet Mohammad

Aug 30 2018

The Afghan government has expressed concerns regarding the planned disdainful cartoons contest of Prophet Mohammad (PBUH).

“Holding of the contest for creating, publishing and disseminating disrespectful cartoons of the Prophet Mohammad (Peace Be Upon Him), the beloved Prophet of Muslims around the world is not only a source of deep offence for the People and Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan but has also provoked the feelings of all Muslims around the world,” the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Afghanistan said in a statement.

The statement further added that “Insulting any religion and sacred values of human beings is an undesired deed. The Islamic Republic of Afghanistan condemns in strongest terms, this heinous and inhumane act and one that is in contradiction of recognized moral, human rights and freedom of speech standards.”

“We seriously call on relevant entities at the United Nations and the International Community to prevent any such acts that cause hatred and turmoil among the followers of religions,” the statement.

Full report at:





Jordan to host fundraiser at UN for Palestinian refugee agency

August 30, 2018

AMMAN: Jordan will host a fundraiser at the United Nations headquarters in New York next month to keep the agency for Palestinian refugees afloat, the Kingdom’s top diplomat said Thursday.

Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi said the meeting, set for September 27 on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly, “aims to provide financial and political support to UNRWA.”

The UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees has been struggling to balance its books since the United States announced in January it was cutting its annual funding by $300 million.

The Jordanian foreign minister said the New York event aims to “close the gap and put in place a plan that will ensure UNRWA’s continued, ongoing funding for the coming years,” Safadi said.

It will also “reaffirm that UNRWA is an organization created by the UN General Assembly, with a clear and particular role, and this role must continue,” he added.

Speaking alongside the Jordanian foreign minister, UNRWA director Pierre Krahenbuhl said the agency needs $200 million to continue its work until the end of this year.

“We’re taking about human beings. We cannot wish 5.3 million Palestinian refugees away... these are people who have rights and for many years now, for decades, have faced a plight and an injustice that is simply immense,” said Krahenbuhl.

The agency supports some five million registered Palestinian refugees and provides schooling for 526,000 children in the Palestinian territories, Lebanon, Syria and Jordan.

But UNRWA has warned it currently only has the funds to keep its 711 schools open for the next month.

By the end of September, “UNRWA won’t have a penny,” the agency’s spokesman Chris Gunness warned Wednesday.

The agency was created in 1949 to support 750,000 Palestinians who fled or were driven from their homes during the war surrounding the creation of Israel. Those still alive today along with their descendants are classified as refugees.

US President Donald Trump’s adminstration has contributed $60 million to the agency in 2018, compared to more than $360 million last year.

Last week his administration announced further cuts to Palestinian aid, slashing $200 million in funding for programs in Gaza and the West Bank.

Relations between Washington and the Palestinian Authority nosedived after Trump in December formally recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

The Palestinian leadership has suspended contact with the US administration and says Washington can no longer play a mediation role in the Israel-Palestinian peace process.



Boko Haram's reign of terror reignites Nigeria's religious wars

August 30, 2018

ABUJA, Nigeria — Isa Salisu ran almost a mile without stopping in a bid to escape his attackers at a military checkpoint in Jos, a large city in north-central Nigeria.

“Three of us were returning from the cattle market,” said Mr. Salisu, a 20-year-old herder, recalling how he and two friends were driving 150 miles from the city of Bukuru to their home in Barkin Ladi, closer to the national capital of Abuja. “Our vehicle was ambushed.”

Knife-wielding youths belonging to the Berom, a Christian ethnic group of farmers, attacked Mr. Salisu’s car. He was eventually able to escape, but his companions were not so lucky. They were hacked to death.

The reason for the ambush: Mr. Salisu and his friends were Muslim members of the Fulani ethnic group who mostly raise cattle. They were caught in a place and time of particularly tense relations between Nigeria’s Christian and Muslim populations.

The attack was just another incident in a budding religious war that many fear could grow far worse than the conflict against Boko Haram, the Islamic State-affiliated terrorist group that rampaged across the country’s remote north for almost a decade until Nigerian forces launched a serious campaign against them two years ago.

The Boko Haram reign of terror in large part has reignited Nigeria’s religious wars.

The Boko Haram insurgency pushed herders out of traditional grazing lands and into farming regions to the south. That in turn set off a fierce competition for land and resources.

Conflicts between mostly ethnic Fulani Muslim herders and predominantly Christian farming groups such as Berom have claimed 3,000 lives in north and north-central Nigeria, according to government statistics.

In April, the U.S. Agency for International Development organized a three-day conference in Abuja for officials, herders and farmers, as well as religious and ethnic leaders, to try to hash out their differences. Among the problems identified in the discussions: a proliferation of arms, diminishing farmland and grazing pastures resulting from climate change, and incendiary media coverage of religious clashes.

But the country’s leading religious figures are showing little effort to reconcile the two communities. This month, leaders of the Christian and Muslim communities debated over which was the more persecuted.

Catholic Bishop Matthew Kukah said Christians are effectively shut out of practicing their religion in Muslim-majority regions. “Up until today, you can’t find a single governor in northern Nigeria that will effortlessly sign a certificate of occupancy for the building of a church — nowhere,” he told reporters.

That led the Nigerian Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs to issue a statement accusing the bishop of trying to “play the underdog in highlighting their pathological hatred and undisguised intolerance for Muslims in this country.”

“Without any fear of contradiction whatsoever, the [irrefutable] truth is that no religious group faces the persecution that Muslims face in Nigeria,” the council said. “From the usual hijab saga to religious witch-hunting in private and public establishments, Muslims have always been subjected to the same treatment the colonial masters made them to suffer.”

Pressure to act

As with the Boko Haram menace, the government of President Muhammadu Buhari has been criticized for acting slowly to address and quell the carnage.

“There are various factors responsible for these conflicts, but mostly it’s due to the inability of government to take decisive action,” said Nurudeen Kyaagba, a researcher with the Kaduna-based African Research and Development Agency. The think tank is seeking to find lasting solutions to conflicts between farmers and herders in the West African country, the most populous on the continent.

The latest large-scale violence occurred in June when a group of Fulani attacked Gashish, a Berom community. About 300 were killed. Barely able to escape to safety, Francis Chong, president of the Gashish Youth Development Association, said his two brothers died in the violence. “The herdsmen took positions, surrounding the entire villages,” he said.

Berom youths responded by blockading sections of the busy Jos-Abuja expressway to avenge the deaths of their kinsmen. They attacked commuters identified as Muslims.

The Nigerian government signed a protocol with the Economic Community of West African States for the free movement of people. It allows herders from 15 countries in the region to cross one another’s borders or relocate within their respective countries.

But Mr. Chong said Mr. Buhari and other officials have done little to smooth relations between newcomers and those already on the land.

For Comrade Peter Ahemba, the conflict started when the local legislature enacted a law against open grazing, barring herdsmen from locating anywhere they please. The herdsmen responded by assaulting farmers on their own land.

Mr. Ahemba is president of the Tiv Youth Organization, an umbrella body for youths of the Tiv, an ethnic group of Christian farmers from Nasarawa.

“This crisis, aside from the killings and loss of lives, affected our economic activities,” said Mr. Ahemba. “Our people have not been able to access their farms because of the destruction of houses and the fear that is still prevailing.”

The U.N. Security Council has issued a statement condemning the conflict and calling for action.

“These attacks have had a devastating humanitarian impact including through the displacement of a large number of civilians in Nigeria, Cameroon and Chad, and represent a threat to the stability and peace of West and Central Africa,” the statement said.

Alhaji Muhammed Hussaini, local leader of a Fulani herder’s welfare group, the Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria, agreed that the government needs to act. Christians have been stealing his members’ cattle, he said, and the Fulani have no recourse but to take matters into their own hands.

“Injustice is the major cause of this lingering crisis,” said Mr. Hussaini. “Certain criminal elements both within the Fulani and natives who connive to rustle cows. Once a Fulani man loses his cows, he knows no peace because for him cattle is only means of livelihood.”

He said the Fulani community has lost more than 500 kinsmen since 2012 and more than 20,000 cows to rustlers.

Mr. Salisu said he fears that the conflict could escalate from arguments over land to a full-blown West African religious war.

Full report at:



Despite threats, Nigerian radio station battles Boko Haram on air

by Festus Iyorah

Aug 31, 2018

Maiduguri, Nigeria - When a Boko Haram fighter called in during Hauwa Tiramisu's late-evening radio programme at Dandal Kura International last summer, the presenter froze.

"He said what we are doing is bad and forbidden," she said. "[He said] we are working with the government and they'd come for us.

"I was shocked. I was really shocked. I was afraid that night."

Three months earlier, Abubakar Shekau, the leader of Boko Haram, released a video describing the radio station's female employees as prostitutes.

"Listen! That radio station called Dandal Kura, with those prostitutes you parade as your female workers. May Allah curse all of you," Shekau says, in the local Kanuri language.

Over the past seven years, Boko Haram has been attempting to install a caliphate in northeast Nigeria.

Since 2009, at least 20,000 people have been killed because of violence. More than five million people do not have regular access to food and nearly two million people have been displaced.

Launched in the northwestern state of Kano in 2015, Dandal Kura was established by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) with Nigerian journalist and manager Faruk Dalhatu and David Smith, the station's Canadian project lead.

In 2016, the channel - which is editorially independent - moved to Maiduguri, the Borno State capital, as relative peace returned to the city.

The station broadcasts information about the government's efforts against Boko Haram and informs listeners of fighters' activities and planned attacks.

"People will call us during our live programmes to inform us about an attack in a town, this helps the neighbouring town to be vigilant," says Bello Sani, head of operations at the station.

There are news bulletins, regular updates from the station's 30 correspondents, and an array of feature programmes on "deradicalisation", education and entrepreneurship.

"Dandal kura" translates as a large meeting place.

The station can be accessed by more than 10 million Kanuri speakers across Nigerian states and neighbouring Chad, Cameroon, Niger and Sudan.

"Dandal Kura was established to roll back the narratives of Boko Haram," says Dalhatu, the manager, "and to produce quality content that will help to improve communities."

The station chose the local Kanuri language because "if we have to counter [Boko Haram leader Shekau's] ideology, we have to do that in his own language," said Sani, the head of operations.

At the peak of Boko Haram's campaign of violence, the radio station featured psychologists, counsellors and Muslim leaders to demystify the group's ideology.

They also informed the audience of security measures to take as attacks raged across villages and towns in the northeast.

Keen listeners such as 54-year-old Bukar Muhammed learned how to avoid traffic jams, insecure areas and crowded hubs - all prime targets for suicide bombers.

"What also interests me about the station is most of the programmes are done in Kanuri. And I have an interest in any programme that is aired in my own language," Bukar said.

The station is tucked away in an apartment in an old and safe government residential area, guarded by security agents with AK-47 guns at the entrance.

There is nothing to identify the radio station.

"This is deliberate," said Sani. "Initially, we had a banner and a signpost. But we removed them because there were threats."

As well as the Boko Haram video, the radio station received a series of phone calls promising attacks unless it stopped broadcasting.

As a result, security was beefed up with new doors installed in the newsroom and studio.

Interns, casual workers and visitors can only enter with senior staff members.

While troubling, Dalhatu said the threats suggest the station is doing something right.

"[The threats] mean our messages are reaching the uppermost echelons of [Boko Haram's] leadership," he said.

Musa Liman, a senior lecturer in mass communication at the University of Maiduguri, said the station has a positive effect.

"Its significance was felt because people got to know about Boko Haram's strategy and [some of] those who were about to be recruited decided not to get entangled," she said.

Looking ahead, Dandal Kura plans to tackle another scourge which acts as a motivating factor for recruits to armed groups - unemployment.

"We want this station to be sustained because there's none like it and it is serving a useful purpose," says Dalhatu.

Back at the station, an atmosphere of fear still hangs in the studios.

Sani is yet to relocate his family to Maiduguri. He visits them often in Kano, which is about 600km away.

Full report at:



27 dead after days of clashes near Libya capital: ministry

30 August 2018

At least 27 people have been killed and nearly 100 wounded in several days of fighting between rival militias near the Libyan capital, the health ministry said on Thursday.

The clashes broke out on Monday in suburbs south of Tripoli and continued into Wednesday evening after a truce collapsed, despite an appeal by the United Nations for calm

The clashes came to an end on Thursday after a ceasefire agreement announced by officials from western areas, but it was unclear whether the two rival camps would continue to respect it.

The health ministry said at least 27 people were killed and 91 were wounded in the fighting, most of them civilians.

Fayez al-Sarraj, the leader of the internationally recognized Government of National Accord (GNA), has tasked forces from western and central regions of Libya with ensuring the rivals adhere to the ceasefire.

These forces are meant to guarantee the withdrawal of the two rival camps from front lines and ensure normal life returns in the districts affected by the fighting.

The proposed pacifying forces consist mainly of powerful armed groups from the cities of Misrata and Zintan in the west, which are technically under the GNA’s defense ministry.

Under the orders of Sarraj, who heads the Libyan army, these military units will be allowed to operate in the capital and its environs only until September 30, when they must leave.

The Misrata and Zintan militias controlled the Libyan capital from the fall of Moamer Kadhafi in 2011 until 2014, when a coalition of militias mainly from Misrata seized the city.

This week’s fighting has pitted Tripoli militias loyal to the GNA against the so-called 7th Brigade.

This unit is from the town of Tarhuna southeast of the capital and is supposed to operate under the GNA’s defence ministry.

In a televised speech, Sarraj said on Thursday that the 7th Brigade had been “dissolved” since April, before calling on the rival camps to respect the ceasefire.

In a joint statement, the embassies of Britain, France, Italy and the United States on Thursday said they were “deeply concerned about the recent clashes in and around Tripoli that are destabilizing the situation”.

“Pursuing political aims through violence will only further exacerbate the suffering of the population of Libya, and threaten broader stability”, the statement said.

“Those who undermine Libya’s peace, security and stability will be held accountable.”

The Libyan capital has been at the center of a battle for influence between armed groups since Kadhafi’s fall.

Successive transitional authorities, including the GNA, have been unable to form an functioning army or regular security forces and have been forced to rely on militias to keep the city safe.

Full report at:



North America


US mulls sending Daesh prisoners to Gitmo: report


The Donald Trump administration is evaluating the possibility of sending hundreds of Daesh terrorists detained in Syria to a military prison in Iraq and prominent detainees to Guantanamo Bay, according to a report published Thursday.

The individuals who may be sent to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, include two members of the Daesh cell known as the "Beatles," NBC reported, citing five anonymous U.S. officials. Alexandar Amon Kotey and El Shafee Elsheikh were two of the four "Beatles," a group that rose to global infamy through grisly execution videos Daesh posted to the Internet.

Their beheaded victims include American journalists James Foley and Steven Sotloff, as well as two British aid workers.

Those who would be sent to Iraqi prisons under the plan would be held in Iraqi custody, but NBC reported the U.S. would seek to retain the right to prosecute them if their home countries continue to refuse to accept them. The U.S. would further want to have access to them for interrogations.

Critics of the Guantanamo plan, including predominantly Democratic members of Congress, say they should instead be tried in U.S. federal court. If they are sent to Guantanamo they would likely be held indefinitely without charge.

Detainees who would be sent to Cuba or Iraq are currently held by the U.S.-backed SDF in Syria.

The SDF is currently holding about 600 Daesh prisoners, many of whom are foreign fighters, according to NBC.

Washington has been trying to get their home countries to take them but has been met with overwhelming opposition. So far only a handful of nations have agreed, including Lebanon and Macedonia.

Kazakhstan and Tunisia have shown some willingness to take in prisoners, and Tunisia in particular is willing to take 150 prisoners but wants compensation, NBC reported, citing two senior U.S. defense officials.

If the U.S. chooses to send them to Iraq a potential site is the al Asad Airbase in Anbar province. But NBC stressed that while the plan has been discussed with Iraqi officials, Baghdad has not given the go-ahead.



US soldier pleads guilty to helping Daesh, to receive 25-year term

Aug 30, 2018

A soldier based in Hawaii has pleaded guilty to helping the Daesh terrorist group, admitting that he planned to join the terror outfit and attack a US base in Hawaii.

Sgt. 1st Class Ikaika Kang told a US magistrate judge on Wednesday he’s guilty of all four counts to four counts of attempting to provide material support to Daesh, including a drone that was meant to track US troops in Iraq and Syria.

“Your honor, I provided unclassified, classified documents to the Islamic State,” Kang said at the court, using another synonym for Daesh.

The data handed over to terrorists included voluminous, digital documents that included sensitive information including the US military’s weapons file, details about a sensitive mobile airspace management system, various military manuals and documents containing personal information about US service members, according to Assistant US Attorney Ken Sorenson.

Kang started to follow the terror outfit since at least early 2016, Sorenson said, noting that the FBI started its investigation in August the same year by gathering information from people he knew, worked with or lived with.

Sorenson said Kang was in the process of providing other kinds of support to Daesh but didn’t realize that people he was dealing with this time were undercover agents.

The 35-year-old soldier, trained as an air traffic controller, had a secret security clearance. He also provided Daesh with such information as US military call signs, mission procedures and radio frequencies, Sorenson said.

Kang was also an Army combat instructor and recorded training videos for Daesh.

He told an informant that if one day he joins the group, he would become a suicide bomber and attack Schofield Barracks, a major US Army base outside Honolulu.

Kang even expressed willingness to join Daesh in one of his meetings with the undercover agents.

According to Sorenson, the soldier swore allegiance to the group in Arabic and English and kissed a Daesh flag given to him by a purported Daesh member.

Kang even told the agents that he wanted a rifle so he could “just go to downtown Honolulu and Waikiki strip and start shooting,” prosecutors said in a news release announcing the plea. That’s when the FBI took the soldier into custody.

In exchange for Kang’s guilty plea, prosecutors said they won’t charge him with additional crimes, including violations of the espionage act, other terrorism-related laws and federal firearms statutes.

Full report at:



Turkey-US alliance should not be 'black and white'


The alliance between Turkey and the U.S. should not be "black and white", said an expert, as they continue to experience rocky relations over a detained American pastor.

Luke Coffey, director of the Douglas and Sarah Allison Center for Foreign Policy at Washington DC-based think tank the Heritage Foundation, expressed hope that Ankara and Washington can take a step back and look at the larger geopolitical questions and find areas where they can build on their relationship.

He was speaking at a panel held by Turkish think-thank the Foundation for Political, Economic and Social Research (SETA) in Washington, D.C. joined by Jennifer Miel, executive director of the U.S.-Turkey Business Council, and Kilic Bugra Kanat, research director at SETA.

Both countries "need to recognize that the alliance is not black and white and let go of their unilateral expectations of how the other should act," said Coffey.

He said other U.S. allies around the world are watching how Washington engages with Ankara.

"There are geopolitical ramifications of how this crisis is resolved."

The two allies should "come back to the table and find ways to repair their relationship, starting with the low-hanging fruit and moving forward".

"In the end, there will still be a strong U.S.-Turkey partnership," he added.

Miel, for her part, said the economy can be a confidence building measure in trying moments in the bilateral relationship like today.

She said while U.S.-Turkey trade was looking to reach a record high this year, now it is facing sanctions, tariffs and boycotts.

"To bring the economy into the political mix not only hurts the political atmosphere but hurts other ties between the U.S. and Turkey and the business communities in both countries," she added.

Miel said there is high U.S. interest in the Turkish economy.

Kanat said the Turkish public is very upset about U.S. actions and deeply invested in the ongoing spat between the two countries.

"In every crisis, the U.S. is pushing the relationship to the breaking point," he said.

He said the two countries had "an asymmetry of expectations" over a number of issues.

"This crisis demonstrates that existing ties or a long history of cooperation are no guarantee that issues won't emerge between allies.

He noted, however, that small steps could make a huge difference in repairing the relationship.

Relations between Turkey and the U.S. soured after Washington imposed sanctions on two Turkish Cabinet ministers for not releasing an American pastor facing terrorism-related charges in Turkey.

Full report at:



US accuses Iran of bad faith over sanctions lawsuit

August 31, 2018

THE HAGUE - The United States has accused Iran of bad faith for challenging Washington's renewed nuclear-linked sanctions against it at the UN's top court.

Iran has asked the International Court of Justice to order the United States to lift the sanctions, reimposed after US President Donald Trump pulled out of a multilateral 2015 accord. Iran brought the case at the court in The Hague under a 1955 friendship treaty that predates the country's Islamic Revolution. Washington told the court it had no jurisdiction to rule on the case, which it said was a matter of national security.

"Iran is not invoking the treaty of amity in good faith in this proceeding," US State Department lawyer Jennifer Newstead said in her closing argument.

"Iran cannot be permitted to draw this court into a political and psychological campaign" against the United States, she added. During four days of hearings, Iran said the sanctions reintroduced this month are causing economic suffering for its citizens.

IAEA says Tehran still abiding by nuclear deal terms

Iran is sticking to the terms of its nuclear deal with world powers, a UN atomic watchdog report showed Thursday, despite ongoing uncertainty over its future.

The report from the International Atomic Energy Agency showed that Iran was still complying with the key parameters of the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).

It comes despite the future of the deal being thrown into doubt after US President Donald Trump withdrew from the pact in May and re-imposed US sanctions.

France says Iran ‘cannot avoid’ expanded N-talks

Iran “cannot avoid” talks on thorny disagreements with world powers, France’s foreign minister warned Thursday, as a report from the UN’s atomic watchdog confirmed Iran was abiding by the 2015 deal on its nuclear programme.

“Iran must respect the fundamentals of the JCPOA (nuclear deal) and I think that is the case,” Jean-Yves Le Drian said as he arrived for a meeting of EU foreign ministers in Vienna, adding that the accord was “essential for our security and essential for nuclear non-proliferation”. “But Iran cannot avoid discussions, negotiations on three other major subjects that worry us - the future of Iran’s nuclear commitments after 2025, the ballistic question and the fact there is a sort of ballistic proliferation on the part of Iran... and the role Iran plays to stabilise the whole region.

“We must talk about these three subjects, Iran must be aware of this and that’s the message I send to them from Vienna,” he said.

Le Drian’s latest comments echo some of the reasons given by US President Donald Trump for his dramatic withdrawal from the agreement in May and re-imposition of US sanctions.

Washington says it wants to bring Iran back to the negotiating table but Iranian leaders have expressly ruled out renegotiating the landmark Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, agreed in 2015 by Iran and the US, China, Russia, Britain, France and Germany. Since Trump’s move European countries have pledged to find ways to salvage the deal and to keep providing Iran with the economic benefits it received under the agreement.

However, many major companies have already pulled out of Iran for fear of US penalties.

The next phase of renewed US sanctions in November will hit the crucial oil sector.

Also on Thursday a report from the International Atomic Energy Agency showed that Iran was still complying with the key parameters of the JCPOA.

The latest report says the IAEA had had access “to all the sites and locations in Iran which it needed to visit”.

The agency repeated language in its previous report emphasising the importance of “timely and proactive cooperation in providing such access” on Iran’s part.

A senior diplomat with knowledge of the issue said that the language was a way “to send a message to Iran to prevent potential problems” rather than being caused by any particular behaviour on the part of the Iranians.

The report said Iran’s stockpiles of low-enriched uranium and heavy water had both slightly increased since the last report in May, but were still under the limits agreed in the deal.

Iran’s economy has been battered by the return of US sanctions following Trump’s decision, undermining support for the deal within Iran.

On Wednesday Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said Tehran should be ready to “set aside” the JCPOA if it is no longer in the country’s national interests.

Last week, the EU agreed an 18 million euro package of assistance to Iran “for projects in support of sustainable economic and social development” in the Islamic Republic, the first tranche of a wider package worth 50 million euros.

Le Drian said that along with Germany and Britain, France was actively exploring ways to put in place “financial mechanisms” to make sure Iran could continue taking part in international trade.

Also speaking on Thursday while attending meetings of EU foreign and defence ministers in Vienna, the EU’s foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini said that despite disagreements with Iran over other issues, “we believe that addressing regional disagreements with Iran can be done in a more effective manner if we maintain the nuclear deal in place”.

In June, in a bid to increase pressure on the Europeans, Iran announced a plan to increase its uranium enrichment capacity with new centrifuges in the event that the agreement collapses, while still denying any desire to build a nuclear weapon.

Full report at:





Germany cuts funding to largest Turkish-Islamic organization DITIB


The German government will no longer be funding projects run with the country's largest Islamic umbrella group, the Interior Ministry in Berlin said on Thursday.

Since the start of the year, the federal government has not approved any funding for the Turkish-Islamic Union for Religious Affairs (DITIB), which has been marred by a series of controversies. Funding has also been halted for projects in 2019.

Most of the German government funding for DITIB has involved support for counter-extremism programs and aiding refugees. About €6 million ($6.9 million) has been provided to the group since 2012. The Family Ministry has also stopped approving projects with DITIB at the end of last year.

The Cologne-based Islamic umbrella group runs more than 900 mosques tied to the Turkish government's Directorate of Religion, or Diyanet, which provides imams to DITIB mosques.

In the wake of the failed 2016 coup attempt in Turkey, the DITIB has been accused of acting as the long arm of the Turkish state.

Some imams are alleged to have acted on the orders of Turkish diplomatic posts to spy on followers of the Gulen movement, which Ankara blames for the failed coup bid.

Read more - Turkey's Gulen movement on the rise in Germany

In another scandal, DITIB imams reportedly called on worshippers to pray for a Turkish military victory against Syrian Kurds in Afrin.

DITIB again came under fire in April for holding a military reenactment involving Turkish flags and fake guns handed to children "martyrs."

Last year, DITIB controversially refused to take part in an anti-terrorism march in Cologne.

"Those who spread nationalism, hatred of Christians, Jews or people of no religious affiliation and spy here at the behest of the Turkish government cannot be a partner in the fight against religious extremism in Germany," Christoph de Vries, a spokesman for Chancellor Angela Merkel's Christian Democrats (CDU) on internal affairs, told Bild newspaper on Thursday.

Cooperation between DITIB is primarily a matter for the individual federal states, with the federal government promoting only certain projects. A number of states have already distanced themselves from DITIB.

Sevim Dagdelen, the deputy parliamentary head of Die Linke, called for federal states to cut all ties with DITIB and for the Islamic group's charity tax status to be reexamined.

"The federal government and the federal states must stop cooperation at all levels with Erdogan's outpost in Germany. It must be examined whether the preferential tax treatment of the association can be further justified. DITIB is not charitable, but a danger to the public," the politician of Kurdish origin said in a statement.

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EU should engage more with Turkey, Russia: Macron


The European Union should pursue ‘strategic partnerships’ with Turkey and Russia in taking responsibility for its own defense and reducing its reliance on the U.S., French President Emmanuel Macron said Thursday.

Speaking at a joint press conference in Helsinki alongside Finnish President Sauli Niinisto, Macron said "our interest with Turkey as well as with Russia is to have a strategic partnership which enables to stabilize the relationship with the European Union in the long term".

The French leader added that "we must bring up to date our relationship with Russia further to the end of the Cold War," saying old habits have led "to mistakes or misunderstanding in the last two decades".

Full report at:



Rohingya group urges global community to take action


The international community must find a way to initiate an independent and impartial investigation to bring the perpetrators of the Rohingya genocide to justice, according to the chairman of a prominent Rohingya group.

Arakan Rohingya National Organization (ARNO) Chairman Nurul Islam told Anadolu Agency in London that Rohingya are "facing severe and institutionalized persecution" in Myanmar, including "various types of crimes against humanity, which establish genocidal intent".

Islam urged for a probe into the horrific crimes committed by Myanmar’s military top brass.

"Military top brass should be investigated by the International Criminal Court for crimes against humanity, and genocide," he said.

Islam, who is also a coordinator for the Free Rohingya Coalition, pointed out that even a UN fact finding mission "clearly indicated that it is not possible to get any justice by any ... mechanism initiated by the Burmese government," which is why the task must be carried out by the international community.

Islam's remarks came following a new UN report released earlier this week that documented mass gang rapes, killings, including of infants and young children, brutal beatings and disappearances committed by Myanmar state forces. In its report, UN investigators said violations may have constituted crimes against humanity.

The UN Independent International Fact-Finding Mission on Myanmar has called for the trial of Myanmar’s top military officials, including army commander-in-chief Senior Gen. Min Aung Hlaing, at the International Criminal Court for committing genocide against Rohingya Muslims.

International obligations

Islam said the international community must be "obliged" to act against the Myanmar government on the basis of the 1948 convention on prevention and punishment of genocide.

About the EU’s role in resolving the Rohingya crisis, Islam said the bloc had issued statements in support of humanitarian aid to displaced Rohingya people but the block also needs to “create proactive policies to put pressure on the Burmese government.”

"The UN Security Council is a complete fail [sic.]," he said, adding the mechanism could not decide on a resolution on Rohingya issue "because of potential opposition from countries like Russia and China".

Speaking about the support from Muslim countries, Islam said the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) is the second largest world body and “they have a lot of leverage on countries like China and Russia”.

However, Islam said the OIC did not come up with any proactive policies on the Rohingya.

He said some Muslim countries who maintain good relations with Russia and China should influence those two countries to be at least neutral on the Rohingya issue.

The international community and the UN need to look for a binding resolution, he said.

“They would better take a global consensus, because this is genocide -- there is proof of it -- and these criminals need to be referred to the International Criminal Court.

"But the UN Security Council is the only organization, which could trigger a comprehensive investigation by the ICC.”

Message to Turkey

He said the Rohingya have high expectations from the people and the government of Turkey.

“We are very pleased with the statement on the expression of solidarity with the Rohingya people by the President [Recep Tayyip] Erdogan,” he said.

“Turkey can play a leadership role in the Muslim world,” Islam said, adding that “when genocide is unfolding in a country, when there are many divisions among the world opinion to take action.

“This is an important role needed to be played by Muslim leaders like Erdogan and Turkey.”

Islam said they also expect support from ASEAN countries as they can press for Rohingya minority rights as Myanmar is a member state, underlining that Malaysia could play a good role in the organization.

Nearly 24,000 Rohingya killed

In a report, the UNHCR refugee agency said nearly 170,000 Rohingya likely fled Myanmar in 2012 alone.

Since Aug. 25, 2017, nearly 24,000 Rohingya Muslims have been killed by Myanmar’s state forces, according to the Ontario International Development Agency (OIDA).

In a recent report, Forced Migration of Rohingya: The Untold Experience, the OIDA raised the estimated number of murdered Rohingya to 23,962 (± 881) from a Doctors Without Borders figure of 9,400.

More than 34,000 Rohingya were also thrown into fires, while over 114,000 others were beaten, the OIDA report said, adding that 17,718 (±780) Rohingya women and girls were raped by Myanmar’s army and police. Over 115,000 Rohingya houses were also burned down and 113,000 others vandalized, it added.

According to Amnesty International, more than 750,000 Rohingya refugees, mostly children and women, have fled Myanmar and crossed into Bangladesh after Myanmar forces launched a crackdown on the minority Muslim community.

The Rohingya, described by the UN as the world's most persecuted people, have faced heightened fears of attack since dozens were killed in communal violence in 2012.

Full report at:



Turkey condemns another furlough for Greek terrorist


Turkey has condemned Greek authorities' decision to grant another furlough to a far-left terrorist who is serving multiple life sentences in Greece for murder.

Dimitris Koufodinas used to be the leader of the now-disbanded November 17 terror group, which was held responsible for the assassination of a long string of officials.

Koufodinas was convicted in 2003 for belonging to the November 17.

In a statement issued Thursday, the Foreign Ministry said: "We once more strongly condemn that the Greek authorities have granted Dimitris Koufodinas, a convicted member of the November 17 terrorist organization, a prison leave for the fourth time.”

The statement recalled that Koufodinas was the perpetrator in the assassinations of Turkish Press Attache Cetin Gorgu, who was killed in 1991, as well as Omer Haluk Sipahioglu, a counselor at the Turkish Embassy in Athens, who was gunned down in front of his home in 1994. The counsellor of Turkish Embassy in Athens, Deniz Bolukbasi, the administrative attache Nilgun Kececi and the driver Adil Yildirim were also wounded in separate attacks carried out by the same group.

"Such tolerance granted to a terrorist who attempted to the lives of our diplomats is a disrespect to their memory and their sorrowful families," the statement said.

“Enabling a bloody terrorist to benefit from such regulations creates serious deficiency in the fight against terrorism,” it added.

Full report at:



Syrian migrant subjected to xenophobic attack in Germany

30 August 2018

Three attackers badly beat a 20-year old Syrian migrant in an eastern German town late on Wednesday, police said, after a stabbing case that triggered two days of violent anti-immigrant protests in another part of the country.

The migrant, who police did not name, was walking home in Wismar, a town on the Baltic Sea, when the attackers stopped him and began insulting him in German using xenophobic language. Two then punched him in the face and the third hit his shoulder and ribs with an iron chain, police said.

They then kicked him on the ground. The migrant suffered a broken nose and bruising to the face and upper body. Police appealed for witnesses to come forward.

The incident occurred days after the violent protests in the eastern city of Chemnitz that were triggered by the fatal stabbing of a German man there. An Iraqi and a Syrian have been arrested in connection with that crime.

The Chemnitz stabbing and subsequent protests have exposed deep divisions in German society over Chancellor Angela Merkel's 2015 decision to open the door to more than one million migrants, mostly Muslims fleeing conflicts in the Middle East.

Full report at:



France says Iran ‘cannot avoid’ expanded talks on nuclear issue

August 30, 2018

VIENNA: Iran “cannot avoid” talks on thorny issues like its ballistic missile program and role in Middle East conflicts, French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian warned Thursday, as France leads the work to rescue the beleaguered nuclear deal with Tehran.

“Iran must respect the fundamentals of the JCPOA (nuclear deal) and I think that is the case, but Iran cannot avoid discussions, negotiations on three other major subjects that worry us,” Le Drian said as he arrived for a meeting of EU foreign ministers in Vienna.

France are among several countries, including Germany, UK, Russia and China, continuing to try and salvage the deal after US President Donald Trump decided to pull the US out unilaterally in May.

The comments came after a confidential quarterly report seen by AP released by the International Atomic Energy Agency, which shows Iran continues to comply with the nuclear deal even after the withdrawal of the US.

In the report, distributed to member states, the IAEA said Iran has stayed with key limitations set in the so-called Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, or JCPOA.

The deal exchanges economic incentives for nuclear guarantees. Since the American withdrawal and re-imposition of sanctions, Iran’s economy has already started to struggle and its currency has plummeted in value.

The other five nations have affirmed their commitment to the deal, which limits Iran’s enrichment and stockpiling of material that could be applied to a nuclear weapons program. In exchange, Tehran was granted widespread relief from international trade, oil and banking sanctions.

The nations have said it will take time, however, to negotiate the details of the guarantees that Iran is looking for.

Full report at:





Cancellation of Sacrilegious Contest Is Moral Victory of Muslim Ummah: Foreign Minister

31 August, 2018

ISLAMABAD (APP) - Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi Thursday said it was a great moral victory of the entire Muslim Ummah that the Dutch anti-Islam lawmaker Geert Wilders cancelled plans to hold a contest of blasphemous caricatures.

Flanked by the Minister of State for Interior, Qureshi addressed a press conference along with the leadership of the Tehreek Labaik Pir Afzal Qadri late Thursday night.

The TLP leadership later announced end of the long March, of thousands of people that had entered Rawalpindi late Thursday night, from Lahore.

Qureshi said the new government of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf immediately after coming into power raised the issue internationally at all foras. He said the Parliament unanimously passed a resolution condemning the plans to hold the blasphemous caricature contest. He said the minority members were at the forefront in condemning this heinous act.

He said he discussed the matter with his counterparts from important Capitals and it was agreed to use the platform of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) to present a unanimous stance and seek an end to repeat of such sacrilegious acts.

The Foreign Minister also recalled his phone call to the Dutch Foreign Minister and said he was informed that an act of an individual should not be allowed to hurt the sentiments of billions of Muslims across the globe.

However he attributed the success to the blessings of Allah and said the cancellation has averted a major crisis. He said the Pakistani government fully endorses the sentiments of every Muslim, the religious scholars and Ulema.

Earlier Prime Minister Imran Khan in a video message assured that his government would use the OIC platform to raise the issue at the United Nations and seek a permanent solution to such acts that hurt the sentiments of the Muslims.



Resentment in PML-N over Fazl’s candidature for president office

Amir Wasim

August 31, 2018

ISLAMABAD: Though the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) is officially backing Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam-F (JUI-F) chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman’s candidature for the upcoming presidential election, there is a group within the party which is unhappy over the party’s decision to nominate the Maulana, terming it a “bad choice”.

Sources in the PML-N told Dawn some of the party legislators were even thinking of abstaining during the September 4 polls as they were unwilling to vote for the JUI-F chief, who had presented himself as a candidate after the failure of the opposition parties to find a consensus candidate for the top constitutional office.

“There are two voices in the party over the move to support the JUI-F chief,” said a senior PML-N leader and senator.

The politician said the Maulana was a “self-appointed” candidate and his party had no choice but to support him after the opposition alliance had failed to break a deadlock over the nomination of Chaudhry Aitzaz Ahsan by the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP).

“It will be a waste of time to go for voting [during the presidential poll] as we have already provided a walkover to the ruling alliance,” said the PML-N leader, who had played a major role in bringing the opposition parties on one platform after the general elections in the country.

Another PML-N leader complained that the party leadership had not taken the party’s parliamentarians into confidence before nominating Maulana Fazl as a candidate. He said the party legislators were now being told that they had no choice but to support the Maulana when he himself had offered his candidature saying that he would succeed in persuading PPP chief Asif Ali Zardari to withdraw Mr Ahsan’s nomination. The JUI-F chief, however, failed in his efforts.

The PML-N leader was of the opinion that either the party should have nominated someone from the party, like Ayaz Sadiq, Ahsan Iqbal, Raja Zafarul Haq or Mushahidullah Khan, or it should have asked the nationalist parties from Balochistan or Khyber Pakhtunkhwa to nominate a candidate.

He endorsed the viewpoint of some PPP leaders that the Maulana was not a suitable choice for the president’s office as his ascent to the coveted position would portray a negative image of the country at the international level.

PPP’s Latif Khosa during a television show had stated that Maulana Fazl could not visit many countries where he had been declared a “persona non grata”.

Soon after submitting his nomination papers on Tuesday, the Maulana had called on Mr Zardari and requested him to withdraw his party’s candidate in his favour for the sake of opposition’s unity. Mr Zardari, however, told him that he would respond to his request after consulting his party members. Next day, after a party meeting, a PPP delegation formally informed the Maulana that they had decided to stick to the name of Mr Ahsan for the president’s office and asked him to withdraw from the race.

When contacted to seek his comments on reports about a division within the party over the nomination of Maulana Fazl, PML-N’s information secretary Mushahidullah Khan said there could be a group of some “liberal members” in the party who were unhappy over the Maulana’s nomination only because he belonged to a religious party which was not liked by western countries.

He agreed that the PML-N and other opposition parties had nominated the Maulana as the presidential candidate believing that he might succeed in persuading Mr Zardari to withdraw the PPP’s nominee due to his special relationship with the former president. Mr Khan said that he personally believed that the JUI-F chief was the most suitable person for the president’s office, if compared to Mr Ahsan and Dr Arif Alvi of the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI). He said that there was no doubt that Maulana Fazl was a seasoned and experienced politician and he had the capability of taking all the parties along.

Meanwhile, JUI-F information secretary Hafiz Hussain Ahmed, when contacted, denied that the Maulana had himself offered his candidature and claimed that it was the PML-N which had suggested his name as the opposition’s candidate. He said that even the JUI-F was not in favour of the Maulana contesting the election and during its Shura meeting, the party members had advised their chief to stay away from the elections.

However, he said, in the meeting of the Muttahida Majlis-i-Amal the other component parties asked the Maulana to submit his nomination papers, if all the opposition parties were insisting on his name.

Full report at:



No decision yet on expulsion of Dutch ambassador, says FO

Aug 31, 2018

ISLAMABAD: Foreign Office (FO) Spokesman Dr Muhammad Faisal on Thursday said that the government hasn’t mulled over any action against the Dutch ambassador yet.

“No decision has yet been taken on whether the Dutch ambassador will be expelled or any other action will be taken,” he said during his weekly briefing.

Right-wing party Tehreek-e-Labbaik (TLP) has demanded the Dutch envoy’s expulsion during the first round of talks between the party’s top leadership and the government in Lahore in a protest against the blasphemous caricatures contest by anti-Islam Dutch parliamentarian Geert Wilders.

Earlier, the religiopolitical party had urged the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government to not only “discontinue diplomatic and commercial relations with the Netherlands” but also “demand from other Islamic countries to do the same”.

The TLP had also demanded that since the said competition’s judge is an American national, “therefore, strict measures should also be taken against the US”.

Addressing the presser on Thursday, Dr Faisal said that an emergency meeting of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation’s (OIC) permanent representatives had already been sought by Pakistan to discuss the matter. He said that FM Qureshi will represent Pakistan at the meeting.

“The foreign minister will raise the issue of blasphemous caricatures in the meeting,” he added.

The FO spokesman explained, “The FM also raised the issue with his Dutch counterpart.”


The FO spokesman also said that Pakistan desires an end to the discussion regarding the controversy surrounding the phone conversation between Prime Minister Imran Khan and US Secretary of State Michael Pompeo.

Dr Faisal said, “We want an end to this matter and want to move forward politically.”

“Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi has already issued a detailed clarification and we will not comment further on this matter,” he added.

The FO spokesman deflected a question regarding whether the US had issued a transcript of the phone conversation that took place between the US secretary of state and PM Khan.

The US had reportedly sent the transcript of the telephonic conversation between PM Khan and US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to Pakistan. The transcript details all that was discussed during the talk.

According to reports, the transcript had ‘embarrassed’ the government who had challenged the contents released by the US State Department.


FO Spokesman Dr Faisal said, “Last week, Indian forces martyred 10 Kashmiris.”

“International community should take notice of the violation of human rights in occupied Kashmir,” he added.

The FO spokesman also condemned the arrests of Hurriyat leaders and expressed concern regarding their health.

“We summoned the Indian deputy high commissioner over the martyrdom of a citizen in the unprovoked firing of Indian forces at the control line,” Dr Faisal also said.


Responding to a question regarding the Chahbahar Port, FO spokesman Dr Faisal said, “India’s part in the port does not affect us.”

“We have to move forward together and are assessing investment opportunities in it,” he added.

He also said that the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) is China’s “flagship project” and “Pakistan and China are iron brothers”.

“Opening of Kartarpura passage can prove to be a turning point,” the FO spokesman added.

Dr Faisal explained that “attempts are being made to improve relations and remove differences between Pakistan and India” and a commercial transit point is only a “small part of the issue”.


Dr Faisal termed the Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif’s two-day visit to Pakistan a “positive development”.

The visit is scheduled to begin on Thursday.

“Zarif will meet PM Khan, FM Qureshi and other senior leaders during his visit,” the FO spokesman added.

Full report at:



Prophet Muhammad cartoon contest in Netherlands sparks fury in Pakistan

August 30, 2018

Thousands of Islamists have launched a march towards Pakistan's capital, Islamabad, to protest a Dutch politician's plans to hold a Prophet Muhammad cartoon contest later this year.

The march began yesterday in Lahore. The protesters are expected to reach Islamabad today. Imran Khan, the new prime minister, has vowed to take the matter to the United Nations, and his government has summoned the Dutch ambassador to lodge a formal protest.

At the same time, it has so far dismissed calls to expel the envoy.

Tehreek-i-Labaik, a hardline Islamist group that helped organise the protests, supported Imran Khan's bid to be prime minister. Last year, this same group disrupted life in Islamabad with a three-week rally against an omitted reference to the Prophet in a constitutional bill. Organizers say this time they will disperse after a daylong protest.

Images of Prophet Muhammad are traditionally forbidden in Islam as idolatrous. Caricatures are regarded by most Muslims as highly offensive.

Blasphemy is punishable by death in Pakistan, where the mere accusation of it can cause lynchings.


The cartoon contest in the Netherlands is being organized by Geert Wilders, a far-right lawmaker with a history of incendiary remarks about Islam.

His Freedom Party has become the Netherlands' second-largest, and pushes anti-Islam and populist themes.

Wilders plans to hold his contest in his party's office in the parliament building. He says it's his right to do so under the country's freedom of speech laws.

Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte has said he doesn't endorse Wilder's contest but that he will defend the parliamentarian's right to hold it.

The Dutch police have arrested a 26-year-old man suspected of threatening to attack Wilders over his plan, a police spokesman said yesterday. The suspect's nationality hasn't been determined.

In 2005, the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten published cartoons of Prophet Muhammad that sparked a wave of protest across the Muslim world and several attempts to kill either its editor or cartoonist Kurt Westergaard.

Full report at:



Pakistan Supreme Court to authorities: Extradite ex-envoy Hussain Haqqani from US

Aug 30, 2018

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan's Supreme Court on Thursday ordered the anti-corruption agency to take steps to extradite Hussain Haqqani, the country's ex-ambassador to the US, the central character in the 2011 Memogate scandal.

Haqqani was behind a memo indirectly sent to former US military chief Admiral Mike Mullen in 2011, a Pakistani judicial commission concluded in 2012. In the memo, Haqqani sought Washington's help in averting a military coup in Pakistan following the May 2, 2011 US raid that killed al-Qaida chief Osama bin Laden in the garrison city of Abbottabad.

Supreme Court chief justice Saqib Nisar, heading a three-judge bench, expressed displeasure with the Federal Investigation Agency's (FIA) attempts to extradite Haqqani, who was Pakistan's ambassador to the US from 2008 to 2011, and directed the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) to make efforts for his extradition.

Haqqani, 62, is currently Senior Fellow and Director for South and Central Asia at the Hudson Institute, think-tank in Washington.

The apex court also directed the Parliament to legislate on the matter of bringing wanted Pakistanis back home.

"There are hurdles in [bringing wanted persons back to the country] due to a lack of extradition treaties between Pakistan and other countries," the top judge remarked.

There was a need to explore NAB's agreements with the United Nations Security Council under which the extradition of accused suspects is possible, he observed.

The court directed the parliament to legislate on extradition agreements with foreign countries within a month.

The bench also ordered the NAB to submit a written reply in one week about steps it will take to bring Haqqani to Pakistan.

The hearing was then adjourned for a week, Dawn newspaper reported.

Meanwhile, in a progress report submitted to the Supreme Court, the FIA stated that an interim challan of the Memogate case was submitted in the Court of Special Judge Central, Islamabad on August 7, 2018.

The accused (Haqqani) is still at large and absconding in the US, the report stated, adding that the process to blacklist his Pakistani passport was underway.

According to the report, the National Central Bureau (NCB) of Interpol in Washington "has tentatively confirmed that the accused has been located in the United States".

It said the interior ministry will forward a request for his extradition to the foreign ministry after seeking the federal Cabinet's approval.

The agency disclosed that several requests to issue 'red notice' against Haqqani are pending decision at the Interpol Secretariat in France, Dawn newspaper reported.

The Supreme Court had on its own taken up a case pertaining to steps being taken by the government to ensure implementation of an earlier apex court order of bringing Haqqani back home.

On June 4, 2013, a nine-judge SC bench, headed by then chief justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, had directed the then interior secretary to adopt legal measures ensuring the return of Haqqani to Pakistan.

The court had also hinted at adopting coercive measures in view of the continued refusal of Haqqani to appear before it and honour the commitment he made to come whenever called.

Full report at:



Pakistani experts to inspect two Indian hydropower project sites

Khalid Hasnain

August 31, 2018

LAHORE: India agreed on Thursday to get sites of its two hydropower projects — 1,000MW Pakal Dul and 48MW Lower Kalnal — inspected by Pakistani experts by the end of next month. It also assured Pakistan of taking up its objections/concerns over the two projects seriously by resolving them amicably in the light of technical memorandums to be prepared and exchanged by the two countries in the next meeting to be held in New Delhi.

“The major breakthrough of the two-day talks held in Lahore is that India has agreed to get the projects’ sites visited by our experts. Therefore, our team comprising experts will visit the sites in India by the end of next month,” Water Resource Secretary Shamail Ahmad Khawaja told Dawn.

“During the visit, our experts will minutely examine the sites, construction in the light of the provisions of Indus Water Treaty (IWT) and the objections raised by Pakistan to the aforementioned projects being executed by India over the Chenab River,” he added.

Both delegations headed by Pakistani and Indian commissioners for Indus waters resumed talks on day two, reiterating their stance over construction of the projects. The Indian side led by Pradeep Kumar Saxena reviewed Pakistan’s objections minutely. It also presented its point of view amid justification in response to the objections.

The Pakistani side led by Commissioner for Indus Water Syed Mohammad Mehr Ali Shah continued defending its stance, requesting the Indian delegation to address the issues as sought. However, it was mutually decided that both countries would separately prepare technical memorandums based on their point of view and possible solutions.

“We think that we have succeeded in convincing India to address our issues since we don’t want to see any disruption in the flows of our rivers by anyone under the IWT.

“That is why they (Indians) have seriously reviewed our objections once again. And finally during the second round of the two-day talks, which concluded in Lahore on Thursday, it has been decided that both the countries would prepare technical memorandums separately on the issue and exchange the same with each other during the next meeting to be held within next three to four months,” Mr Khawaja, who is supposed to oversee the country’s water-related issues and projects, including the IWT, explained.

He claimed that the next round of the talks — which would be held in India between the two countries — would be the final and conclusive in connection with discussions over Pakistan’s concerns. “Resumption of talks between Pakistan and India — which have been suspended since 2014 — in March and August indicates some positive things. We hope that India would surely respect the IWT by considering our objections through an amicable solution in the next meeting,” he believed.

According to an official privy to the meeting, the two countries stick to their stances on the issue. Both the countries reiterated their stance in the meeting. However, the Indian delegation finally responded to Pakistan’s demand for looking into this issue in the next meeting, he told Dawn.

The official said the Joint Commissioner for Indus Waters also raised objections over heading the Pakistani side by Commissioner Mehr Ali Shah on the very first day before commencement of the talks. “Actually Joint Commissioner Sheraz Jameel Memon was of the view that he should lead the Pakistan side while conducting the meeting with the Indian delegation since Mr Shah was heading the department on additional charge for a period of three months. But when Mr Memon reached there to head the Pakistani team, he came to know that Mr Shah succeeded in getting extension in his additional charge of office. So he returned to office,” the official explained.

He said Pakistan’s demands included reduction of the height of Pakal Dul’s reservoir up to five metres, maintenance of 40-metre height above sea level while making spillways’ gates of the Pakal Dul project, besides clarifying the pattern and mechanism for the water storage and releases and some technical concerns over design of the Lower Kalnal hydropower project.

Earlier, both the Pakistani and Indian sides avoided the media gathered since morning outside the head office of Nespak in Lahore. Though the media tried to convince the staff for access to the talks, the officials didn’t agree. “We inform you all that we would neither brief you nor issue a joint statement regarding the talks,” an official told journalists. At this, the media persons protested over the officials’ attitude, asking the authorities to reveal the outcome of the talks to the nation.

Full report at:



Plea to PM, CJP: 24 Christian families demand allotment of plots

August 31, 2018

LAHORE: Twenty-four Christian families have urged the prime minister and the chief justice of Pakistan to help them get three-marla plots which were allotted to them in 1992 against their houses demolished without any notice.

They say they were not given plots as compensation despite four orders of the Lahore High Court from time to time.

In a petition addressed to the prime minister and the chief justice of Pakistan, their representative Dr Yaqoob Bhatti said the 24 affected families were the old residents of Christian Colony, Bhekeywal, Nizam Block and Link Wahdat Road. “Certain elements made the LDA demolish their houses and a church without any notice in 1992. The families were manhandled for putting up resistance,” he said.

He said Christians from Lahore and outstations lodged strong protests in front of the Chief Minister’s Secretariat in GOR-I and the then MPAs, Mian Mehmoodur Rashid and Adil Sharif (minorities), conveyed the injustice to chief minister Mian Manzoor Wattoo. He summoned the LDA director general and reprimanded him. On his orders, the LDA director general allotted alternative three-marla plots to the 24 families in Khyber Block, Nadeem Shaheed Road and Allama Iqbal Town as a compensation.

He said the families paid the price of these plots to the LDA on Jan 24, 1998 but the LDA did not hand over possession of the plots to them. The families approached the LHC four times and the court ordered the LDA to give them the land on every occasion but to no avail.

He said the Christian families and their community had time and again appealed to former chief minister Shahbaz Sharif to grant them their legal right but he turned a deaf ear to their appeals.

Dr Yaqoob said the families did posses all the documents regarding the allotment, receipts of the fees they deposited, orders of Mr Wattoo and the court rulings, appealing to the prime minister and the chief justice of Pakistan to help them get their due right being denied to them for the past 26 years.

Full report at:



Pakistani Jew claims was ‘verbally, physically attacked’ by ‘Islamist’ in Karachi

Aug 31, 2018

Pakistani Jew, Fishel Benkhald, has claimed that he was “verbally and physically attacked” by a “Pakistani Islamist” outside a private bank because of his public demand for making religious pilgrimage visit to Jerusalem.

“The bank has the CCTV footage of the incident,” he claimed.

On his Twitter account, Benkhald wrote: “I’m verbally and physically attacked by a Pakistani Islamist because of my public demand for making religious pilgrimage visit Jerusalem, Israel. HBL Bank DHA Khayaban e Ittihad Karachi has CCTV video. What about my dignity?”

Further sharing details of the incident, Benkhald wrote: “Police was called by the bank and I was put in the police vehicle & taken to the police station at Nisar Shaheed Park DHA Karachi, the attacker later came in his own car and he is demanding the police to register an FIR against me and asking them to give copy of my CNIC & home address.”

Asking for the CCTV footage, he wrote: “Dear @HBLPak I have a question about the process of getting CCTV footage of yesterday’s attack on me by an extremist Jihadi at HBL Bank in Khayaban e Ittihad. Dear @ArifAlvi & @ImranIsmailPTI @PTI_KHI I’m a voter of NA-247 PS-111 you asked me for my vote now I’m asking for your help.”

Full report at:



SECP intensifies efforts against terror financing

AUGUST 31, 2018

The Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP) has intensified its efforts to combat terror financing and money laundering, according to a press release issued by the organisation on Thursday.

The SECP has issued a circular to all the companies, making them responsible to comply with Section 453 of the Companies Act. The circular has directed all the companies having legal persons as their members/shareholders to obtain and maintain up-to-date information relating to their ultimate beneficial owners, ie natural persons who ultimately own or control the company through direct or indirect ownership of not less than 10% shares, voting rights, ownership or controlling interest in that company.

According to the circular, the companies shall obtain the ultimate beneficial ownership information from their members, and also ensure to maintain and update this information in a register of beneficial ownership. The information is required to be obtained and maintained irrespective of the number of levels of ownership pattern, until the natural person exercising ultimate ownership or control and lying at the end of the ownership chain, is revealed.

The minimum fields of information required to be by the companies have been specified through the circular. In case no natural persons are identified after having exhausted all possible means, or there is any doubt that the persons identified are the beneficial owners, there shall be entered in the register of beneficial ownership the names of the natural person(s) who hold the position of senior managing official(s) of the company.

Full report at:





Preparing for possibility of NRC, imams, Muslim groups urge people to ready papers

by Ravik Bhattacharya

August 31, 2018

Religious heads including imams and Muslim organisations are urging people to get their citizenship/identification papers ready in case the National Register of Citizens (NRC) is implemented in West Bengal.

While imams are making announcements in mosques, some organisations are preparing for awareness drives and workshops across the state to assist the public in the process as well as offer legal aid.

Around 40 lakh people were excluded from the final draft of the NRC released in Assam in July. Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has vociferously opposed the NRC, declaring that she will resist tooth and nail its implementation in the state.

“BJP’s next target is Bengal. We are asking all to ready their documents; citizenship papers, identification papers, land records, inheritance records etc. In case NRC is forced on this state, people should be ready. Many are not well-educated and their papers are in disarray. We have seen in Assam that both Hindus and Muslims were kept out of the list because of errors in spellings of their names,” said Maulana Shafique Qasmi, imam of Nakhoda mosque, told The Indian Express.

“Both Muslims and Hindus are suffering in Assam because their names were not included in the list. Muslims are at a greater risk…Every day, we see Muslims and Dalits being targeted throughout the country. This is very disappointing. It is better that they are prepared. Our fight against all this will continue. Everyone should join hands against what is happening in this country, but after being prepared with papers,” Qasmi added.

“According to the information we have, around 2.5 lakh Muslims youths in West Bengal have no voter card. Their names are on the census, and they have some other documents. There are many who have errors in their voter and Aadhaar cards. This is because many of them are not educated. Some may work outside Bengal and did not care to make voter cards. From September 1, the Election Commission will start a drive in Bengal for updating and rectifying the voters’ list. Our volunteers will go door-to-door to make people aware that they need to include their names in the voters’ list,” said Md Nooruddin, president of the Jamaat-e-Islami Hind’s (JIH) Bengal chapter. Jamaat-e-Islami Hind is one of the biggest organisations working in Assam helping people whose names have been left out of the NRC. It also plans to hold workshops and awareness camps in all districts of Bengal.

“We will help them include their names in the voters’ list and ask them to vote in the polls. Many do not vote for different reasons, some are aloof. We will join hands with secular and human rights organisations for the drive in Bengal,” added Nooruddin. The workshops will help educate people about where they can get the relevant forms, how to fill them up and where to submit them to get their names enrolled, or correct their details.

“We will not allow NRC in West Bengal. On Monday, we are scheduled to hold a meeting where awareness campaigns and other steps will be discussed,” said Raisuddin Purkait, general secretary of the Bangiyo Imam Parishad.

Protest against NRC

A T M Rafiqul Hassan, president of the All Bengal Imam and Moizzin Samity, said, “I will issue a notification to all imams that before Friday prayers at all mosques in every district, they should announce this to make people aware that their Aadhaar cards, voter IDs and other forms of identity should be in order,” said Hassan. Imams of some mosques in Bengal are already raising the issue during sermons before prayers.

Md Kamruzzaman, general secretary of the All Bengal Minority Youth Federation, who led an agitation in central Kolkata on Thursday against the NRC, demanded that the government should be satisfied with voter ID cards and Aadhaar cards and not ask for other documents.

At the agitation, protestors accused the BJP-led government in Assam of “deliberately omitting” Bengalis and Muslims from the final NRC draft. They shouted slogans against the BJP government both in Assam and at the Centre, carried placards denouncing them and demanded immediate withdrawal of the Assam NRC.

“If the NRC is ever forced on West Bengal, documents like Aadhaar cards and voter IDs should be good enough (to prove) that a person is a citizen of Bengal. We want the government to ensure that people in general and Muslims, in particular, are not asked to produce proof of their three-four predecessors to prove they were not infiltrators,” added Kamruzzaman.

Rahul Sinha, BJP’s national secretary, said, “Awareness is good. We are never against Indian Muslims who are sons of the soil. Genuine people should get their papers ready. Those who are coming illegally from outside are claiming a share of welfare schemes and benefits of Indian Muslims. Our standpoint is clear. We want to identify infiltrators. Only voter cards won’t do. We also will give recognition to those who were forced to come here after religious persecution.”



From document Pune police gave to court: ‘Anti-fascist front seeks to tap militant Dalit & Muslim forces’

August 31, 2018

One of the documents presented by the Pune police in court Wednesday justifying the arrests of the five activists refers to an alleged plan to implement the Maoist strategy to oppose “Brahminical and fascist Hindu forces” and bring together the “most militant” among “Dalit and Muslim forces.”

That document titled, “A proposal for initiating All India Anti Fascist Front,” talks about mobilising “militant sections” of people, for which the front needs to come up at all levels, within villages, small towns and cities.

This document, like the several from which Public Prosecutor Ujjwala Pawar read excerpts while justifying the arrests and seeking remand, is claimed to have been seized from the earlier set of five activists who were arrested by the Pune Police on June 6 in a similar multi-city operation and who are now in Yerawada Jail here.

This particular part of the document was not read out by the public prosecutor in the court on Wednesday but has been seen by The Indian Express.

In the court, Pawar argued that the five arrested people — Gautam Navlakha, Sudha Bharadwaj, Varavara Rao, Arun Ferreira and Vernon Gonsalves — were “active members” of the banned CPI-Maoist and part of a conspiracy to set up an “Anti Fascist Front” to overthrow the elected government.

The purported document for creating this front mentions that consolidation of Dalit forces was already taking shape in south Tamil Nadu and Gujarat, and that Muslim minority forces in Kerala, Karnataka and Maharashtra were giving “militant training to hundreds of cadres”.

The document goes on to claim that such mobilisation would gain momentum in view of incidents of attacks on Dalits and Muslims by Hindutva organisations.

Pawar told the court on Wednesday that the idea of setting up the front was mooted at the meeting of the Eastern Regional Bureau of the CPI-Maoist. Documents were produced in the court showing that this meeting, or ERB Vistaar Baithak, was held between December 21 and 24 in 2015, during which concerns were raised over the rise of Bhramanwadi Hindu Fasivadi (Brahminical Hindu Fascist) forces in view of the victory of “RSS-backed” BJP in the 2014 general elections.

Full report at:



Terrorists abduct relatives of policemen in south Kashmir

Aug 31, 2018

SRINAGAR: Terrorists on Thursday night struck at various places in south Kashmir and abducted kin of policemen.

The terrorists' action came on a day when the NIA arrested the second son of globally wanted terrorist Syed Salahuddin.

Police did not immediately gave any official statement and said they were trying to ascertain reports of abductions.

However, officials privy to the development, said that at least five people, whose family members were working in the Jammu and Kashmir Police, have been picked up by terrorists from Shopian, Kulgam, Anantnag and Awantipora.

Among those abducted included brother of a deputy superintendent of police.

Following this alarming development, authorities have sounded a high alert across south Kashmir.

The authorities also decided to launch a massive operation in south Kashmir areas to check the alarming trend of terrorists going after relatives of police personnel.

Full report at:



Two Pakistani LeT terrorists killed in J&K

Aug 31, 2018

SRINAGAR: Security forces gunned down two Pakistani Lashkar-e-Taiba terrorists in an encounter on Thursday in north Kashmir’s Bandipora district.

On receiving a tip-off, security personnel launched a search operation in the area.

Getting a whiff of the security forces’ presence, the terrorists opened fire. In the ensuing encounter, two terrorists were killed, police said.

During the encounter, youths took to streets and resorted to stone-pelting to disrupt the operation, according to local media reports.



NIA arrests Hizbul Mujahideen chief’s son

Aug 31, 2018

NEW DELHI: The National Investigation Agency on Thursday arrested the son of Hizbul Mujahideen chief and US-designated terrorist Syed Salahuddin in connection with its probe into the 2011 terror funding case accusing him of having received money from his father for subversive activities in India.

NIA in joint raids with CRPF and J&K police in Srinagar’s Rambagh area, picked up 48-year-old Syed Ahmad Shakeel, a senior laboratory assistant at Sher-e-Kashmir Institute of Medical Science. His younger brother, Syed Shahid Yousuf, was arrested by NIA in October 2017 in the same case.

Shakeel, NIA said, had received money through Western Union several times, sent by absconding Aijaz Ahmad Bhat alias Aijaz Maqbool Bhat.

However Shakeel’s family has defended him. “Syed Shakeel is working at SKIMS as lab technologist for last 30 years, whose record of peaceful behavior and attitude could be verified from the concerned authorities. The allegations by NIA against Syed Shakeel are totally baseless.”

The probe showed Shakeel, eldest son of Syed Salahuddin, self-styled chief of Hizbul-Mujahideen terror group, had received funds from operatives of HM in different parts of the world, NIA said in a statement.

The agency had earlier summoned him for questioning, but he didn’t appear before it prompting the agency to secure a nonbailable warrant against him.

He has been brought to Delhi and will be produced before a Special NIA court on Friday.

Full report at:



Arab World


Tens of ISIL Terrorists Freed by Kurds in Raqqa for Huge Amount of Money

Aug 30, 2018

Turkey's Anadolu news agency reported on Wednesday that the Kurdish forces freed 40 ISIL militants from their jails in the town of Tal Abyadh in Northern Raqqa.

It added that the Kurdish commanders received thousands of dollars for the freedom of the terrorists, noting that the ISIL militants have been transferred to an unknown place after release.

Meantime, the London-based pro-opposition Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) reported that a number of trucks carrying foodstuff were sent by the Kurdish forces to the regions occupied by the ISIL in the Eastern parts of the Euphrates through al-Sha'afah passageway.

Relevant reports in March also said that the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) were setting ISIL militants free from jails in Raqqa city without presenting any explanation and despite the public's strong opposition, local sources in Northeastern Syria disclosed.

The sources said that a sum of 12 ISIL militants have been recently released by the SDF from jails in Raqqa city, adding that the Kurds have also intensified security measures against civilians in the city.

The sources further said that fuel prices have significantly increased in Raqqa after the Kurdish militias banned sales of fuel supplies in the city.

They also reported growing popular uprising against US-backed SDF in Raqqa.



Tens of Tahrir Al-Sham Terrorists Killed by Army in Hama

Aug 30, 2018

The Syrian army units launched heavy attacks on the bases of Tahrir al-Sham and other affiliated terrorist groups West of the town of al-Latamineh and the villages of al-Jisat, al-Janaberah, Hasraya and Kafr Zita in Northern Hama on Thursday.

The army's artillery and missile attacks also targeted the moves of the Turkistani group in the two towns of al-Ziyarah and al-Mashik in Eastern Sahl al-Iqab.

Also, field sources reported that during the attacks, tens of terrorists were killed and wounded and several of their vehicles and military equipment were smashed.

The army troops also could destroy a bomber drone belonging to the terrorists in regions near the town of al-Saqilabiyeh in Northern Hama.

In a relevant development on Tuesday, the Syrian army's artillery and missile units opened heavy fire at the positions and movements of Tahrir al-Sham Hay'at in Northern Hama.

The artillery and missile units shelled the strongholds and movements of Tahrir al-Sham and al-Turkistani Islamic Party and other terrorist groups near the towns of al-Latamina and Kafr Zita.

The army's artillery attacks on militants' positions split over the villages of al-Jisat, Tal al-Sakhar, al-Zakat, Lahaya, Albueizeh and Ma'arkabah in Northern Hama.

Terrorists suffered heavy casualties and their military hardware sustained major damage in the attacks.

Full report at:



Hundreds of Tahrir Al-Sham Terrorists Defect in Northern Syria

Aug 30, 2018

Sources affiliated to the terrorists reported on Thursday that commander of Tahrir al-Sham in Jabal al-Zawiyah region in Idlib province along with 800 militants defected from the terrorist group and joined Horras al-Din group that is a smaller alliance of al-Qaeda groups and operates in Southern Idlib and Northern Hama.

They also underlined that gaps are widening among Tahrir al-Sham members on keeping or dissolving the terrorist coalition.

Reports from Ankara claim that the Turkish army is attempting to dissolve Tahrir al-Sham coalition to claim absence of Al-Qaeda terrorists in the North and prevent the Syrian army's military operations in Idlib.

Media reports said on Monday that Ankara had called on Damascus to delay military operation against terrorist groups in Idlib province.

The Arabic-language Sputnik quoted a Russian military source as disclosing that Turkish officials have called on their Syrian counterparts via Russian channels to delay military operation in Idlib until September 4.

It further said that Ankara is trying hard to dissolve Tahrir al-Sham Hay'at, adding that Russia has informed the Syrian government of the Turkish officials' commitment to the dissolution of Tahrir al-Sham and other militant groups or a reconciliation deal between the terrorists and Damascus.

Full report at:



Terrorists kill 11 in Iraq’s Nineveh, Kirkuk provinces

Aug 30, 2018

At least 11 people have been killed and several others sustained injuries in two separate terrorist attacks in Iraq’s Nineveh and Kirkuk provinces.

Iraq’s Arabic-language al-Sumeria satellite television network, citing an unnamed security source, reported that an assailant, wearing Iraqi police uniform, drove an explosives-laden vehicle into a security checkpoint in a district in the western part of Kirkuk’s provincial capital of the same name on Thursday.

It added that at least three Iraqi Federal Police forces lost their lives and four others were wounded in the explosion.

No group has claimed responsibility for the attack yet, but it bears the hallmark of attacks carried out by the Takfiri Daesh terrorist group.

Meanwhile, Ahmad al-Jubouri, a former parliamentarian for the northwestern province of Nineveh, said that earlier in the day, a group of Daesh terrorists had attacked al-Khoain Village in the vicinity of the province’s capital, Mosul, killing all eight members of a family.

On Wednesday, a suspected Daesh assailant drove an explosives-laden vehicle into a checkpoint in the town of Qa’im, in Iraq’s western Anbar Province, near the Syrian border, killing 11 people and wounding a dozen others.

The Takfiri Daesh terrorist group started a terror offensive in Iraq in 2014, overrunning vast swathes of territory in lightning attacks. Iraqi army soldiers and primarily volunteer fighters — who were later integrated into the national armed forces — subsequently retook the territory.

Full report at:



Turkish Army Sends More Military Equipment to Idlib

Aug 30, 2018

Field sources reported on Thursday that the Turkish army dispatched a military convoy, consisting of 15 military vehicles to Northern Syria through Kafr Lousin passageway.

They added that the convoy also included truckloads of Turkish army soldiers and officers and building blocks transferred to the Turkey-occupied region in the town of Mourak.

According to the report, also another military convoy of the Turkish army, which included several military vehicles, was sent to the town of al-Sarman in Eastern Idlib.

The developments came as the Syrian army is preparing for a major fight in Idlib and is sending large volums of military equipment to its positions.

Media reports said on Monday that Ankara had called on Damascus to delay military operation against terrorist groups in Idlib province.

The Arabic-language Sputnik quoted a Russian military source as disclosing that Turkish officials have called on their Syrian counterparts via Russian channels to delay military operation in Idlib until September 4.

It further said that Ankara is trying hard to dissolve Tahrir al-Sham Hay'at (the Levant Liberation Board or the Al-Nusra Front), adding that Russia has informed the Syrian government of the Turkish officials' commitment to the dissolution of Tahrir al-Sham and other militant groups or a reconciliation deal between the terrorists and Damascus.

Full report at:



Syrian troops will ‘go all the way’ in militant-held Idlib: FM

Aug 30, 2018

Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Muallem says the country’s government troops will “go all the way” in the militant-held northwestern province of Idlib, stressing that Damascus’s main targets are members of the Jabhat Fateh al-Sham Takfiri terrorist group, formerly known as al-Nusra Front.

The top Syrian diplomat made the remarks in a joint press conference with his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov in Moscow on Thursday, following a meeting within the framework of Syrian-Russian intergovernmental commissions.

He added that the Arab country was in the “last step” to resolve the years-long crisis and liberate all its territories from the clutches of terrorists “and that’s why the United States, Britain and France want to attack Idlib with the aim of obstructing the political settlement process and helping al-Nusra group.”

Russia, a close ally of Syria, became involved in anti-terror operations in the militancy-infested country in September 2015 upon a formal request from Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

“As we were partners in the fight against terrorism, we want to be partners in the reconstruction process,” Muallem said. “Our people highly appreciate the role of the Russian Federation and President Vladimir Putin in combating terrorism in Syria.”

He further said that Syria would not use chemical weapons in any operation and that it did not have such weapons, adding that Damascus would try its best to “avoid possible civilian casualties and generally avoid bloodshed” in an upcoming full-scale offensive against terrorists in Idlib.

Elsewhere in his remarks, the Syrian minister said that the so-called White Helmets aid group had kidnapped 44 children in Idlib to use them in a staged chemical attack.

“Behind the creation of the pseudo-organization the White Helmets are the British special services. They sponsor them, they lead them. They were behind the organization of those fabricated scenarios for the use of chemical weapons and now they are preparing such a development of the situation with the use of chemical weapons in Idlib,” Muallem said.

Syria surrendered its stockpile of chemical weapons in 2014 to a joint mission led by the United States and the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), which oversaw the destruction of the weaponry. It has also consistently denied using chemical weapons over the course of the foreign-backed militancy, which broke out in the country in 2011.

Russia's Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov has already said the Tahrir al-Sham Takfiri terrorist group “is close to committing a very serious provocation in Idlib using chemical weapons.”

At the weekend, Russia repeatedly warned that Syrian-based terrorists were planning the attack in the militant-held province, which is home to nearly three million people.

Lavrov, for his part, denounced as “unacceptable” the use of the de-escalation zone in Idlib by Nusra Front terrorists to attack Syrian and Russian forces.

"It is unacceptable that the terrorists, who are entrenched there, primarily from the Nusra Front, are trying to use this de-escalation zone to prepare attacks on the positions of the Syrian army and even for attempts to attack the Russian military base in Hmeimim air base using aerial drones,” he said.

He also touched on the issue of a purported US plan to “obstruct” the upcoming operation by the Syrian army in Idlib, calling the move “another provocation by the West.”

Regarding the reconstructing of the war-torn Arab country and the return of refugees, Lavrov said that his country was “ready to increase its contribution to these tasks.”

The United States has warned it would respond to a chemical weapons attack by Syrian government forces with retaliatory strikes, stressing that the attacks would be stronger than those conducted by American, British and French forces back in April.

On April 14, the US, Britain and France carried out a string of airstrikes against Syria over a suspected chemical weapons attack against the city of Douma, located about 10 kilometers northeast of the capital Damascus. The strike came one week after an alleged gas attack on the city.

Full report at:



Suicide attack kills two policemen near Iraq’s Kirkuk

30 August 2018

At least two policemen were killed and three wounded when a suicide bomber drove a car full of explosives at their checkpoint near the northern Iraqi city of Kirkuk on Thursday, police sources said.

Police said the attack took place in the town of Abbasi, around 65 km (40 miles) southwest of the oil city of Kirkuk.

No group has claimed responsibility for Thursday’s attack, but ISIS militants often carry out such attacks.

On Wednesday, a suicide car bomb attack on a security checkpoint killed at least eight people, including five militiamen and three civilians in western Iraq.

ISIS militants claimed responsibility for the Wednesday’s attack.

Full report at:





Qatari envoy: Saudi, UAE working with al-Qaeda extremists in Yemen

Aug 30, 2018

Qatar's envoy to the US attacks Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) over revelations about their secret dealings with al-Qaeda extremists in Yemen, saying the duo is putting regional peace at risk by allowing the Takfiri terror group to "flourish" in the war-torn country.

In an opinion piece published by The Washington Post on Wednesday, Sheikh Meshal bin Hamad Al Thani said Riyadh and Abu Dhabi are busy cutting deals with al-Qaeda terrorists operating in Yemen instead of making efforts to restore peace to the Arabian Peninsula state and end the humanitarian crisis of their own making there.

"We should be engaging in dialogue to find a political solution in Yemen. Instead, our neighbors have chosen to turn their backs on the region, letting extremists flourish in an already fragile state. Our collective goal in the Middle East is to counter terrorism, but our neighbors have different priorities," said Sheikh Meshal.

The senior Qatari diplomat based his remarks on an investigation by the Associated Press, which blew the lid off the secret collaboration between the Saudi-led coalition waging war on Yemen and the al-Qaeda terrorists active there.

The AP study found that "the coalition cut secret deals with al-Qaeda fighters, paying some to leave key cities and towns and letting others retreat with weapons, equipment and wads of looted cash," while "hundreds more were recruited to join the coalition itself."

Sheikh Meshal further highlighted the Saudi and the UAE background of supporting extremism at home, noting that this was a policy, which had a backlash as it paved the way for the terrorists to boost their terror campaign beyond those countries and hit the US with terror attacks in September 2001.

"Saudi Arabia and the UAE tried to ignore radicalization within their own borders in the late 1990s and early 2000s. The result was Osama bin Laden’s attacks against American embassies and the USS Cole," he wrote, adding, "Nearly all the 9/11 hijackers came from Saudi Arabia or the UAE."

"There is no option to sweep radicals under the rug," he added, emphasizing, "Recent history proves that radicalized extremists who are allowed to fester cause more harm than if they are dealt with swiftly and directly."

He further criticized Riyadh and Abu Dhabi for applying the very same policy to Yemen, where they have been leading a bloody military campaign for over three years in support of a former Saudi-friendly government.

"For now, we must pose urgent questions to the UAE and Saudi Arabia: How can they in good faith give arms, safe passage and financing to terrorists? What are the terrorist groups doing with all of these funds and weapons?" asked the Qatari official.

"And most importantly, what will they do to end the humanitarian crisis they created in a way that does not foster another generation of radicalized terrorists?" he continued.

The Qatari envoy's remarks come amid a severe diplomatic crisis unfolding between Doha and a Saudi-led quartet of states.

The Saudi regime and three of its vassal states -- the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt -- abruptly cut ties with Doha last year and targeted the Persian Gulf state with an all-out economic blockade, accusing it of supporting terrorism, among other things. Doha rejects those allegations as baseless.

In the opinion piece, the Qatari official especially criticized the UAE for leveling terror support allegations against his country, while pursing "its own expansionist ambition in Yemen and the Horn of Africa at the expense of regional security."

"It is rather ironic that while working with al-Qaeda in Yemen, the UAE has been relentlessly demonizing Qatar," said Sheikh Meshal.

The UAE has been playing a key role in both the Saudi-led war on Yemen and campaign against Qatar.

The piece was published a day after Qatari Foreign Minister took to Twitter to voice Doha's concerns over a UN report on the crimes being perpetrated by Saudi Arabia and its allies in Yemen.

"The United Nations report on Yemen is a cause for concern. To renounce violence and war crimes is a moral and humanitarian duty," said the top diplomat, calling on all parties to the conflict to "put Yemenis at the forefront and start a dialogue that includes all sections of the Yemeni people without exception."



Over 200 Houthi militants, commanders killed in Saada, Hajjah battlefronts

30 August 2018

More than 200 Houthi militants and commanders were killed, and dozens others injured in confrontations during the past three days in Hajjah with the Yemeni army, military sources reported.

Sources in Hajjah said that the army was able to destroy ballistic missile launch pads, while the Arab Coalition’s air raids targeted 18 Houthi militias’ bases.

The Yemeni army continued to push forward in various areas of Saada amid intense battles where it was able to regain control of the al-Thaher and Bakil al-Meer districts. This comes after the army had liberated the Hiran district.

Houthi militants suffered dozens of losses and injuries in the Miran region in Saada, including the killing of three field commanders, Ahmed Yehia al-Noumani, Salah Mohammed Jaadar and Salah Mohammed Ali Bedash.

Full report at:



Israel says not bound by post-war Syria deals

Aug 30, 2018

Israel will not adhere to any arrangement that the international community might agree upon in Syria after the years-long war waged by foreign-backed terrorists in the Arab country comes to an end, Israel's minister of military affairs says.

Speaking to reporters during a visit to the border with Lebanon, Avigdor Lieberman said as Syria was preparing to retake Idlib -- the last major stronghold of terrorists in Syria -- political efforts by Iran, Turkey, Russia and the international community in general to "redesign" Syria were increasing.

“We see various gatherings here and there; in Ankara, in Tehran, in Geneva, in other places too. They are talking about redesigning Syria after the battle for Idlib,” Lieberman said.

“From Israel’s perspective, with all due respect and appreciation for all the agreements and the understandings -- we are not bound by them,” Lieberman said on Thursday.

“The only thing that obligates us are the security interests" of Israel, he added.

Lieberman's remarks came on the heels of recent military cooperation agreements between Iran and Syria, which guaranteed that Iranian military advisors in Syria would remain in the conflict-ridden country. Tel Aviv insists that Iranian forces should leave Syria.

Iran has been providing military advisory support to Syria at the request of the Damascus government, enabling its army to speed up its gains on various fronts against terror outfits.

There has been a hike in Israeli airstrikes against Syria since the collapse of the Daesh terror group last year, an event that significantly demoralized the other Takfiri militant groups operating against Damascus.

Israel has also been providing weapons and medical treatment to anti-Damascus militants.

In the course of their recent advances in terrorist-held areas, Syrian government forces have discovered considerable amounts of Israeli-made munitions, including chemical warfare, digital equipment and drugs.

Meanwhile, Israel has been keenly running a campaign to convince Russia and the US to oust Iran's advisors from Syria, or at least push them back from areas close to the Arab country's southwestern border.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Wednesday that the agreement between Tehran and Damascus would not keep Israel from attacking Iranian forces in Syria.

"In the military sphere, the IDF will continue to take strong and determined action against Iran's attempts to station forces and advanced weapons systems in Syria," Netanyahu said.

"No agreement between Syria and Iran will deter us; neither will any threat deter us," he added.

Israel developing new missile system

Earlier this week, Lieberman claimed the Israeli military was working on a new missile system capable of hitting targets anywhere in the Middle East.

According to the Israeli minister, arms manufacturer Israel Military Industries (IMI) was going to take "a few years” to design and produce an advanced integrated system that made possible "precise hits by remote launching.”

Full report at:



Israeli settlers set up unauthorized outpost in northern West Bank

Aug 30, 2018

A group of Israeli settlers have established an unauthorized outpost in the northern part of the occupied West Bank in the latest move that would likely make it difficult for local Palestinians to gain access to their nearby land.

The coordinator for the popular anti-settlement committee south of Nablus, Bashar al-Qaryouti, told Arabic-language Safa news agency that settlers from the evacuated settlement of Amona have erected five tents and several shelters in close proximity to Qaryout village, located 28 kilometers southeast of Nablus.

Qaryouti noted that settlers have carried out acts of barbarism and intimidation against local Palestinian farmers. Some of the Jewish extremists keep wandering around with sophisticated automatic weapons, threatening locals.

The Palestinian anti-settlement activist explained that settlers have large herds of livestock, leaving them grazing in Palestinian agricultural land and causing great damage to their olive trees.

Qaryouti added that Palestinian farmers are afraid to get close to their land, stressing that legal steps had been taken to remove the outpost.

Less than a month before US President Donald Trump took office in January 2017, the United Nations Security Council adopted Resolution 2334, calling on Israel to “immediately and completely cease all settlement activities in the occupied Palestinian territories, including East Jerusalem” al-Quds.

About 600,000 Israelis live in over 230 illegal settlements built since the 1967 Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories of the West Bank and East Jerusalem al-Quds.

Palestinians want the West Bank as part of a future independent Palestinian state, with East Jerusalem al-Quds as its capital.

The last round of Israeli-Palestinian talks collapsed in 2014. Among the major sticking points in those negotiations was Israel’s continued settlement expansion on Palestinian territories.

Trump backtracked on Washington’s support for a “two-state solution” in February last year, saying he would support any solution favored by both sides.

Full report at:



Yemeni minister: UN report labelling Houthi as revolution leader is catastrophic

30 August 2018

The recent UN report about the situation in Yemen, which described Abdul-Malik al-Houthi as the leader of the revolution instead of naming him the leader of the militias and the coup is catastrophic, Yemen’s Minister of Information Muammar al-Eryani said on Wednesday.

In a series of tweets, Eryani provided an analysis and description revealing the imbalance of the UN report.

“The report issued by the group of experts on Yemen reflects the existing imbalance of the UN and its bodies in characterizing and dealing with the Yemeni crisis as a crisis between a legitimate government and a coup, between the Yemeni people with all their political and social components and an armed militia that controlled the country’s institutions through force and terrorism,” Eryani tweeted.

Eryani condemned a few statements in the report, which he says were incorrect, including referring to the Yemen crisis as a conflict, and to the Houthi militias as a de facto authority and as “forces not militias”.

“The report described the military operation launched by the government to liberate the city of Hodeidah as aggression, in an apparent opposition to all Security Council resolutions and references about resolving the Yemeni crisis,” Eryani said.

Eryani added that the report ignored the role of Iran and Hezbollah in the crisis, stating that they were involved in directing the Houthi militias and managing their activities “to disrupt the security and stability of Yemen and the Arab region, including supporting them with money, sophisticated weapons, ballistic missiles, experts, trainers, as well as political, security and military advisers.”

“The report talked about the cessation of payment of salaries to employees after the transfer of the government to the Central Bank in Sanaa, without mentioning the role played by the Houthi militias in destroying the national economy, looting the public treasury and cash reserves and the continuation to date of the looting of public revenues in areas under their control,” Eryani tweeted.

Eryani also said that the report mentioned restrictions placed on humanitarian access, without mentioning Iran’s use of ports under the control of the Houthis to smuggle weapons and missiles, and the militias stealing humanitarian aid and supplies, and reselling them on the black market as well as distributing them among themselves.

Eryani added that the report also completely ignored the role of the Arab Coalition in ensuring that humanitarian aid enters the country and is distributed to those in need, as well as the role of Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Kuwait in funding humanitarian work.

He also said that the report ignored the “hundreds of missiles targeting Riyadh and Mecca and a number of cities in the kingdom killing a number of civilians, in addition to targeting oil tankers in international waters.”

“It seems clear that the report prepared by this panel of experts is based on a number of fabrications promoted by suspicious entities in order to harm the legitimate government and the Saudi-UAE-led coalition supporting legitimacy,” Eryani said.

Full report at:



Police say Sara Netanyahu suspect in Israel corruption case

30 August 2018

Sara Netanyahu, wife of Israel’s prime minister, is suspected by authorities of accepting bribes in a corruption case involving Israel’s telecom giant, Haaretz and other Israeli media reported Thursday.

Police investigator Uri Kanar told a Tel Aviv court that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s wife was a suspect, and that police have testimony that the Netanyahus and the owner of the Bezeq telecom company were cognizant of the implications of their actions.

The case deals with suspicions that confidants of Benjamin Netanyahu promoted regulations worth hundreds of millions of dollars to Bezeq in exchange for positive coverage of the prime minister in Bezeq’s news website, Walla.

Sara Netanyahu’s lawyers dismissed Kanar’s comments. Police declined to comment on the media reports regarding the case.

It was not immediately clear how Sara Netanyahu, who as the premier’s wife does not hold public office, might be charged with bribery.

Police have questioned Netanyahu and his wife concerning the case, also known as Case 4000, but neither had been known to be directly implicated.

Police have recommended indicting Netanyahu on corruption charges in two other cases, one involving accepting gifts from billionaire friends, and the second over trading positive media coverage for advantageous legislation for a newspaper.

Full report at:



Iran FM urges closer ties with Islamabad in talks with Pakistan parliament speaker

Aug 30, 2018

Iran and Pakistan have emphasized their will to bolster neighborly relations in all areas, especially in the fight against terrorism, as Iranian Foreign Minister Zarif pays an official visit to Islamabad for high-level talks.

Upon arrival in the Pakistani capital on Thursday, Zarif held a meeting with the country's newly-elected National Assembly Speaker Asad Qaiser, with the two officials exchanging views on issues of common interest.

During the meeting, Zarif praised brotherly relations between the two neighbors and called for closer Tehran-Islamabad cooperation under the new administration of Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan.

Iran seeks "the best and strongest of ties with its neighbor, Pakistan," Zarif told the Pakistani parliament head.

The top Iranian diplomat further hailed Islamabad for taking measures to promote the fight against terrorism, saying, "We see Pakistan as Iran's partner [in efforts] to establish lasting peace in the region."

Qaiser, in turn, called for a stronger unity among Muslim countries, saying that Pakistan attaches great significance to neighboring Iran in line with that goal.

The two senior officials also explored ways to promote Tehran-Islamabad ties at regional and international levels in various fields, especially the battle against terrorism and extremism.

Zarif and the officials accompanying him became the first foreign delegation to visit Pakistan since the inauguration of Imran Khan.

Full report at:



US still training Saudi pilots after Yemen school bus attack: Report

Aug 31, 2018

Despite attempts by American officials to distance the US from the Saudi-led carnage against the people of Yemen, new documents have revealed that the Pentagon is planning to resume training programs for Saudi pilots.

The US Air Force has recently put out request for information (RFI) forms, calling on contractors to come forward with pricing and availability details for training no less than 41 Royal Saudi Air Force personnel, the website The Young Turks network reported Thursday.

While there are no details available about the program's starting dates, a submission deadline of September 24 for the RFIs shows that the program is slated to begin in near future.

The Pentagon has posted another document that lays out the required training instructors, noting that the objective would be to train Saudi pilots for operating the F-15 fighter jets.

The records even mention weapons-specific training, including “F-15S Weapons School Instructor Pilot” and “Air Battle Manager/Weapons School Weapons Director Instructor.”

Considered the backbone of Saudi Arabia's air force, the F-15s have been used to carry out the bulk of the thousands of airstrikes that Riyadh and its allies have carried out on Yemeni cities since the unprovoked war began in March 2015.

More interestingly, the RFI forms went online less than two weeks after a Saudi warplane targeted a Yemeni school bus in Sa'ada, killing 40 children. Ironically, an American-made 500-pound (227 kilogram) laser-guided bomb was used to hit the bus.

The attack caused much uproar, forcing US officials, who first refused to address it, to react.

On Tuesday, US media reported that the Pentagon had reportedly warned Riyadh that it will reduce intelligence and military support for the kingdom unless necessary action is taken to limit civilian casualties.

US Defense Secretary James Mattis and General Joseph Votel, who oversees US military operations in the Middle East, are concerned that the US is helping Saudis and their allies, including the United Arab Emirates, with killing  civilians, unnamed officials familiar with the Pentagon’s view told CNN on Monday.

Full report at:




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