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Islamic World News ( 19 Jul 2020, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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Islamic State Member Sadiya Anwar Sheikh Was Planning Lone Wolf Attack Even After De-Radicalisation Twice

New Age Islam News Bureau

19 Jul 2020

• Islamic State Member Sadiya Anwar Sheikh Was Planning Lone Wolf Attack Even After De-Radicalisation Twice

• Islamic State Propaganda in Malayalam Resurfaces On Social Media

• Pakistan’s Hindus Call to Resume Work on Temple Protested by Islamic Hardliners

• Maajid Nawaz,Anti-Extremist Activist Goes On Hunger Strike To Protest China's Human Rights Violations Against Uighur Muslims

• The Uprising atBehbahan, Iran, With the Slogans ‘We Do Not Want the Mullahs’ Rule’ and ‘the Mullahs Must Get Lost’

• Canada Denounces Indian Citizen Amendment Act; Calls It Discriminatory Against Muslims

• India Puts on Trial 436 Indonesians Linked to Tablighi Jamaat Meeting Amid Covid-19 Pandemic

• Mecca Restricts Entry into Holy Sites Without Permit Ahead of Hajj



• Islamic State Member Sadiya Anwar Sheikh Was Planning Lone Wolf Attack Even After De-Radicalisation Twice

• Islamic State Propaganda In Malayalam Resurfaces On Social Media

• Asaduddin Owaisi Treads Cautious Path on Telangana Secretariat Complex Mosque Issue

• Secretariat Building Row: Muslim Leaders in TRS Should Resign Until They Get CM's Assurance on Reconstruction of Mosques at Original Site, Says Congress

• 3 militants killed in Shopian encounter: Police

• COVID19 threatens to exacerbate conflict, humanitarian crises: WHO



• Pakistan’s Hindus Call to Resume Work on Temple Protested by Islamic Hardliners

• Seven Aides to Pakistan PM Hold Dual Nationalities

• Call for increase in Pakistan-Iran trade activities

• Imran again throws his weight behind Buzdar

• Pakistan summons Indian envoy to protest LoC ceasefire violation that left 2 injured



• Maajid Nawaz,Anti-Extremist Activist Goes On Hunger Strike To Protest China's Human Rights Violations Against Uighur Muslims

• Trocadero: Piccadilly mosque plans that received racist comments withdrawn

• British Muslim Leader Facing The Death Penalty In Bangladesh Sues Home Secretary Priti Patel For £60,000 After She Shared Report On Twitter Linking Him To War Crimes

• Archbishop of Albania on Hagia Sophia: Outrageous insult against Christianity and Islam

• France to probe Abu Dhabi crown prince over torture accusations in Yemen

• First step taken towards developing Islamic finance in Uzbekistan



• The Uprising atBehbahan, Iran, With the Slogans ‘We Do Not Want the Mullahs’ Rule’ and ‘the Mullahs Must Get Lost’

• Head OfIslamic Scholars Of Tyre:Secret Of Victory Over Enemies Is Following Of Imam Khamenei

• Azerbaijan Ambassador to US: If Israel Nixes Annexation, Ties With Muslim States To Improve

• Encouraging sabotage in Iran can ignite full range escalation, Tehran warns

• Iranians can break outbreak chain by observing health guidelines


North America

• Canada Denounces Indian Citizen Amendment Act; Calls It Discriminatory Against Muslims

• Million Muslim Votes: Campaign Seeks Unprecedented Turnout In US Presidential Election

• Muslim Coalition for America Distributes 7,500 Face Masks To LA-Area Low-Income Communities

• Coronavirus Victims: 1st Muslim Prison Chaplain In Texas, Akbar Nurid-Din Shabazz

• 'Black Lives Matter' mural outside Trump Tower defaced again

• UN chief: World 'at the breaking point' with vast inequality


Southeast Asia

• India Puts on Trial 436 Indonesians Linked to Tablighi Jamaat Meeting Amid Covid-19 Pandemic

• Wan Junaidi suggests mosques, surau set up own cooperatives

• 'Buy Malaysian Products' Campaign to boost economic recovery - PPIPBM

• PM never said govt would recognise UEC, says PMO


Arab world

• Mecca Restricts Entry into Holy Sites Without Permit Ahead of Hajj

• OIC Secretary General Chairs Session on Distinguished Efforts of Islamic Countries in Facing Covid-19

• Muslims urged to sight DhulHijjah moon on Monday


South Asia

• Hakeem Warns Changing Sri Lanka's PR System Will Have Adverse Effects On Muslims

• Tamils And Muslims Have Implicit Faith In SLPP - GaminiLokuge

• 18 Taliban militants killed, wounded in Faryab clashes: Shaheen Corps

• SC asks civil courts to hear urgent matters, receive filings of succession suits

• Plasma Therapy for Covid-19: Experts bemoan ‘complete anarchy’



• Mali’s Protesters Turn to Populist Imam of Salam Mosque to End Cycle of Corruption

• Armenian Deputies Bloc Visits Mufti of Tripoli: Dar El Fatwa Has A National Role in Establishing Tranquility

• Kenyan mosques open under strict guidelines for Friday prayers for the first time since March

• Muslim leader finally apologises for failed 1990 coup

• Islamic University in Uganda cuts staff salaries by 90%

• Fayemi postpones reopening of churches, mosques to August 14

• Ekiti postpones church, mosque reopening until Aug 14

• Libya: GNA fighters head for front as battle for Sirte looms

• Mali opposition rebuffs mediation offer, demands president resign

• Al-Sunni confirms submission of request to SC for hearing on Libya

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau



Islamic State Member Sadiya Anwar Sheikh Was Planning Lone Wolf Attack Even After De-Radicalisation Twice

Arvind Ojha

July 18, 2020

 Sadiya was de-radicalised twice earlier but continued to gather explosives for a possible lone wolf attack.


A journalism student in Pune, Sadiya Anwar Sheikh, who was arrested by NIA a few days ago, is a highly radicalised extremist who had undergone de-radicalisation twice before. Investigators have said she was recently planning a lone wolf attack and was procuring explosives.

Investigators have said even after the de-radicalisation, 20-year-old Sadiya continued to actively work for the Islamic State and was procuring explosives from other terror organisations.

Investigators have said these new findings were revealed in telegram interceptions of Sadiya. The woman asked for explosives and IED from other terrorist organisations using the Telegram messenger app. Agencies suspect she was planning a lone wolf attack.

As per the interrogation report accessed by India Today TV, Sadiya was available on the Telegram app with the name of AHLEWAFA. She was in touch with three other recruits of Islamic State Heena Beig, Jahaanaheb and Abdul Bashir.

Heena, Sadiya, Jahaanaheb and Abdul Bashit all used to publish a magazine named ‘Voice of India’ for the Islamic State. They used to publish content against the government over the issues of CAA and NRC.

Investigators have said their plan was to execute a lone wolf attack in Jammu and Kashmir and Delhi.

NIA has also taken custody of Nabeel from Pune who is also an IS recruit.

The investigation by NIA has established the fact that Islamic State has stronger roots in India. Perhaps this is the reason that educated, young woman are falling for their propaganda. NIA and special cell suspect several other recruits are still roaming free in the country. Islamic State promotes women commanders as it makes their operations easier.

In 2018, Sadiya Anwar Sheikh went to J&K to marry terrorist Zakir Musa. J&K Police detained her and de-radicalised her again. When Zakir Musa refused to marry her, she proposed Waqar, the Jammu Kashmir IS chief.


Islamic State Propaganda In Malayalam Resurfaces On Social Media

Jul 19, 2020

 KOZHIKODE: After a brief lull, Islamic State (IS) propaganda has resurfaced on social media. The militant group’s online messages in Malayalam had wound down following the deaths of senior operatives SajeerMangalasseri Abdulla and Abdul Rashid Abdulla. While Sajeer was active on Facebook in 2015 and 2016, Rashid focused on sending voice clips.

Rashid had sent more than 90 messages on various aspects of life in Khurasan (Afghanistan) and the basic ideology of the IS. They were succeeded by others, including KOP Thasleem Abdul Rehman alias Thaha Muhammad and Ashfaq Majeed alias Abu Waqas.

The posts used to appear on the Telegram app even after the surrender of a few Malayalis, including Nimisha Fathima and Ayesha alias Sonia Sebastian, in Afghanistan last year. Abu Waqas posted messages after the attack on a gurdwara in Afghanistan on March 25 this year. He claimed that a Malayali named Muhammad Muhsin was involved in the attack.

This was followed by a period of silence, when the messaging stopped. This was broken two months ago, when an account appeared on Instagram that actively started sharing propaganda.

The subject matter of the messages, mostly in the form of posters, was unchanged: calling upon ‘Muslims of Hind’ to wage jihad which is the ‘only way through which the Mushriks (idolaters) will fear you.’ Some go on to say, “neither nationalism nor democracy will save you. Only the law of Allah will save you.’ Others were on perennial IS favourites such as why the people of India should conduct Hijra (migration), the greatness of jihad in the path of Allah and the issue of not keeping emotional bonding with non-believers (al walawal bara). The rewards one will receive on becoming a shaheed (martyr) are also explained in some of the messages. The last post from the account was on July 7.

Security agencies believe that some of those who fled India to join the IS might be behind the messages. Though the majority have been killed or surrendered before the Afghan army, the whereabouts of a few Malayalis are still unknown.


Pakistan’s Hindus Call to Resume Work on Temple Protested by Islamic Hardliners

By Niala Mohammad

July 18, 2020

 Members of a civil society group hold a demonstration demanding the government allow the construction of a Hindu temple, in Islamabad, Pakistan, July 8, 2020.


WASHINGTON - A government-funded project to construct a temple for minority Hindus in the capital, Islamabad, has stirred controversy in majority-Muslim Pakistan, with hardline Islamic clerics and politicians saying allocation of state money to the building goes against the Islamic ideology of the country.

Members of the Hindu community, however, say the project is their basic religious right and vow to build it at their expense if the government does not provide them with support.

Lal Chand Malhi, a Hindu-minority member and federal parliamentary secretary for human rights in Pakistan's National Assembly, told VOA that Prime Minister Imran Khan has agreed to grant Rs100 million in funds upon his request.

He said the building, known as the Shri Krishna Mandir, or Krishna temple, would serve as a multipurpose complex that would include a crematorium and community center for the estimated 4 million Hindus living in Pakistan.

“The prime minister readily agreed to my request. He was quite happy. And he directed the minister for religious affairs to clear any obstacles in the way to provide the funds for the temple to the Hindu Panchayath,” Malhi told VOA, adding, “there should be no obstacles. We should be allowed to build the temple over here.”

Initial work on the temple started June 23 during a ceremony. Its construction was welcomed by rights activists as an important step toward religious tolerance in the country.

On July 1, Islamic clerics from various seminaries held a press conference at the National Press Club in Islamabad protesting the construction. Right-wing Islamic political party Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam (JUI-F), vowed that it was not going to allow the construction, with its leader Maulana Abdul Majeed Hazarvi threatening “severe reactions” if the government allowed the temple to be built in an “Islamic state.”

The government has since halted the construction and temporarily withdrawn funding after petitions were filed in court, challenging the construction of the temple.

Islamabad High Court dismissed the petitions after the government announced it would seek the guidance from the Council on Islamic Ideology, a constitutional body responsible for giving legal advice on Islamic matters.

Hafiz Maqsood Ahmed, the head of the Islamic political party known as MarkaziJamiatAhle Hadith in Islamabad, told VOA that the temple was seen by many Muslims of the country as offensive.

“Bringing idol worship here amid a Muslim community in an Islamic society that is something different. The foundation of our country is that there is no God but Allah,” Ahmed said.

Pakistani authorities deny that the construction was stopped because of communal matters. The Capital Development Authority (CDA), a public benefit corporation operating under the government, said the Islamabad Hindu Panchayat failed to submit a building plan to begin construction.

"Until their building plans are approved, they cannot begin construction on the site. As far as the CDA is concerned, we issue allotments and approve building plans. They are responsible for the construction,” Shahid Mehmood, the chairman of CDA Design Vetting Committee, told VOA.

Pakistan has often come under international scrutiny for marginalizing religious minority groups and openly allowing their discrimination by hardline politicians, clerics and media outlets in the country. The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom has designated Pakistan a “Country of Particular Concern” for its “systematic” discrimination of religious minorities.

Pakistani media earlier this month reported that a group of men destroyed the temple’s boundary wall. The unverified video of the attack was posted on Facebook and widely circulated in the country’s social media.

Pritam Das, the president of the Islamabad Hindu Panchayat, confirmed the attack to VOA.

“We were constructing a boundary wall, but miscreants demolished the wall and destroyed the water boring. People are coming on the ground and giving [Islamic prayer] Azaan and offerings prayers. Others are openly threatening us. We are helpless, in this situation. This boundary wall was constructed with our own donations."

International watchdog groups, such as Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International, have called the hard-liner’s campaign discriminatory and are urging the government to immediately resume work on the temple.


Maajid Nawaz, Anti-Extremist Activist Goes On Hunger Strike To Protest China's Human Rights Violations Against Uighur Muslims

JULY 18, 2020



Maajid Nawaz, an anti-extremist activist and London Broadcasting Company host, is currently on a hunger strike. He will continue to do so until he has gathered enough support for the United Kingdom Parliament to have a debate about human rights violations against Uighur Muslims by the Chinese Communist Party.

"I declare a hunger strike in meditative silence for #STOPUigurMuslimGenocide," Nawaz wrote on Twitter on Wednesday. "In protest against CCP enslavement, rape & harvesting of my Uigur Muslim, Falun Gong, Buddhist or Christian brethren's organs, I'm on hunger strike until the UK Parliament agrees to formally debate acknowledgment of the Uigur genocide."

The LBC host is encouraging his 274,000 Twitter followers to sign a petition titled "Impose sanctions on China over its treatment of Uyghur Muslims." If the petition gets 100,000 signatures, the U.K. Parliament will debate the issue. At the time of publication, the petition had over 78,000 signatures.

"The UK Government plans to introduce 'Magnitsky law,' a law which targets people who commit gross human rights violations," the petition reads. "Through this law or alternative means, this petition urges the UK Government to impose sanctions on China for their human rights violations on the Uyghur people."

"Since 2017, there have been many reports of the 'cultural genocide' of Uyghur Muslims, a minority Turkic ethnic group native to Xinjiang, China," the petition states. "They are subject to mass detention, mass surveillance, restriction of religious and cultural identities, as well as other gross human rights abuses. Over a million Uyghurs have been forced into 're-education' camps."

Nawaz tweeted that "1-2 million Uigur Muslims are held in CCP concentration camps" and that there is evidence that the Chinese government has an "organ-harvesting human slave trafficking network."

"Genocide against Uigur Muslims in East Turkestan is currently taking place," Nawaz said. "Up to two million people are being held in concentration camps. Uighurs are suffering repression, torture and the plundering of their bodies for spare parts for the organ transplant market."

"The world seems to have turned a blind eye to this abuse," he added. "We appear to care more about globalized supply chains, cheap labor and greed than fairness and respect for fundamental human rights. As a result, civil society and our political establishment is at risk of being politically, morally and economically compromised by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP)."

Nawaz also included a link to a petition titled "End the Uigar genocide and concentration camps in China," which has nearly 15,000 signatures.

Nawaz is the founder of the Quilliam Foundation, a London-based think tank that focuses on counter-extremism.


The Uprising at Behbahan, Iran, With the Slogans ‘We Do Not Want the Mullahs’ Rule’ and ‘the Mullahs Must Get Lost’

18th July 2020

From the early hours of Thursday evening, July 16, 2020, a large number of people in Behbahan (south west Iran) took to the street chanting “We do not want the mullahs’ rule”. The protesters gathered in Bank Melli Square, opposite the Bank Melli building, which was the same location that was torched by protesters during November 2019 uprising as a symbol of regime’s plundering and looting.

People chanted, “Iranians will die, but they will not accept humiliation”, “Shame on the Basij, leave the nation alone,” “Shameless Basiji,” “Do not be afraid, we are all together,” “Mullahs must get lost,” “Neither Gaza nor Lebanon, I give my life for Iran,” “Khamenei, you are the devil, and Iran is not a legacy of your father,” and “You, the evil criminal soaked in blood, get out of my country.”

In memory of Mahmoud and Mehrdad Dashtinia, two of the martyrs of the November Uprising in Behbahan, the courageous Behbahani youth chanted, “Dashti, Dashti, rest in peace.” The Dashti brothers were shot and killed by the Revolutionary Guards during last November’s uprising.

Terrified of the spread of protest to other regions, the clerical regime disrupted and cut off the Internet in Khuzestan Province an hour after the protest in Behbahan started.

State Security Force (SSF) was dispatched to the scene and tried to disperse the people by firing tear gas. However, the youths in the neighborhoods and alleys resisted them by throwing rocks at them. Several people had to be taken to hospitals after tear gas was fired. Dozens of young people were arrested in clashes with the repressive forces.

The head of the Behbahan SSF, IRGC Col. Mohammad Azizi, announced this morning that the demonstrators “Not only held their ground after the SSF arrival, but also chanted abusive slogans, which is why the police took tough action to disperse.” He threatened that the SSF would deal decisively with these activities.

Hailing the rebellious people of Behbahan, the Iranian Resistance called on the  United Nations Secretary-General, the UN Security Council and the High Commissioner for Human Rights as well as other relevant international authorities to strongly condemn the brutal repression by the religious fascism and to take immediate actions to secure the release of those arrested in Behbahan.


Canada Denounces Indian Citizen Amendment Act; Calls It Discriminatory Against Muslims

July 18, 2020

The Indian Citizen Amendment Act is still drawing condemnation with the US and Canada. Hamtramck city council in the state of Michigan became the fifth city in the US to criticise India’s new citizen act, saying it discriminates against Muslims.

Canada joined in with New Westminster in the province of British Columbia becoming the first Canadian city to join the chorus opposing the act that allows illegal immigrants of most religions to apply for Indian citizenship but leaves Muslims off the eligibility list.

The New Westminster council motion, passed July 13, urged the Canadian government to “take a position in opposition” to the controversial Citizen Amendment Act (CAA) that became law in India in January.

To date, the government of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has been mostly silent on the issue. “We aren’t hearing much from Trudeau,” said Indo-Canadian secularist Gurpreet Singh of British Columbia, co-founder of Indians Abroad for a Pluralist India. Singh made the remarks earlier this year as violence flared in Indian cities. “We aren’t hearing much even from the south Asian members of his cabinet or his caucus. And it’s very unfortunate.”

The Indo-Canadian population in Canada was 1.37 million as of 2016, of a total population of about 36 million, so they represent a significant minority. According to the 2011 census, Muslims make up about 14 per cent of the population of India.

Hamtramck council noted that India was founded as a secular republic where “all nationalities, ethnicities, races and religious faiths are welcome,” as reported by, a non-profit organization that says it represents the marginalized population of India. It is based in Michigan.

The city has a diverse population, as about 42 per cent of its 22,000 residents are immigrants from Eastern Europe, South Asia, and the Middle East.

New Westminster is similarly diverse, with 26,120 of its 71,000 residents identified as visible minorities. The motion declared that New Westminster “prides itself on providing a safe and inclusive community for all citizens and residents including the diverse cultures and religions from around the world,” reported the Georgia Straight, the Vancouver based publication that is Canada’s largest urban newspaper.

The CAA, brought in by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, allows six religious minority communities – Christian, Buddhist, Jain, Parsi, Hindu and Sikh – to apply for citizenship if they are able to prove they are originally from Pakistan, Afghanistan or Bangladesh. Muslims cannot.

And India took particularly harsh action in the state of Kashmir, revoking the section of the constitution that guaranteed special rights to the Muslim majority state of 12.55 million (as of 2011). That added to the tension between India and Pakistan, where Islam is by far the main religion. Both countries claim Kashmir, but India rules.

In Canada, 215,000 people are of Pakistani origin, as of 2017. There are only about 3,000 Canadians of Kashmiri descent as of 2016.


India Puts on Trial 436 Indonesians Linked To Tablighi Jamaat Meeting Amid Covid-19 Pandemic

JUL 18, 2020

JAKARTA (THE JAKARTA POST/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - More than 400 Indonesian members of Tabligh, a multi-country Muslim missionary movement, were taken to the courts in India over past few days for violating immigration and quarantine policies in the South Asian country.

Malaysia, meanwhile, has brought home from India 62 of its citizens who are members of Tabligh on a chartered flight, after they were freed of similar charges by the Indian authorities.

Indonesia's Foreign Ministry director for citizens protection JudhaNugraha said on Friday (July 17) that 150 Indonesians went on trial on Tuesday, followed by 197 people on Wednesday and 89 people on Thursday.

Mr Judha said the 436 Indonesians, who were stranded in India after attending an Islamic gathering, were accused of violating their visas as well as the Epidemic Disease Act and, therefore, contributing to the spread of Covid-19.

At least 17 of India's 28 states have reported Covid-19 cases linked to a Tabligh religious gathering in New Delhi, local media reported.

During the court hearing, most of the defendants admitted to the violations but said they never intended to break the law.

The judge has yet to hand down a sentence, but according to previous cases in which other Tabligh members from other countries were found guilty, the fines ranged from 5,000 rupees to 10,000 rupees (S$93 to S$185).

Mr Judha added that the Indonesian government had provided legal assistance to the accused individuals, including by temporarily releasing them on bail so that they could be housed in better shelters while awaiting sentencing.

Meanwhile, 96 Malaysians who were stranded in India, including the 62 Tabligh missionaries, arrived at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) on Saturday morning, Free Malaysia Today news site reported.

Malaysia's Foreign Affairs Minister Hishammuddin Hussein said the Malaysians, who were stranded due to the Covid-19 outbreak there, will undergo 14 days of mandatory quarantine at two designated centres.

The 62 missionaries had been stranded since March and were detained by Indian authorities for abusing their social visas to carry out religious activities.

"However, a large number have gone through the legal process and have been freed of the charges," Datuk Seri Hishammuddin said in a statement.

A Tabligh gathering in Kuala Lumpur between from Feb 27 to March 1 led to the spread of Covid-19 infections in Malaysia, Singapore, Brunei and Cambodia.


Mecca restricts entry into holy sites without permit ahead of Hajj

19 July 2020

Fines imposed on illegal entry into Mecca come into effect on Sunday until August 2 ahead of the annual Hajj pilgrimage being held this year in a limited capacity due to the coronavirus pandemic, Mecca authorities announced.

Saudi Arabia’s interior ministry confirmed last week it will be imposing a fine of 10,000 Saudi riyals ($2,666) for violators entering the holy sites in Mecca without a permit during the upcoming Hajj season.

“Whoever violates the instructions to deny entry to the holy sites (Mina, Arafat, and Muzdalifah) without a permit shall be punished starting tomorrow, Sunday, until the end of the twelfth day of DhulHijjah with a fine of 10,000 riyals, and in the event of a repeat offense, the penalty is doubled,” the Municipality of Mecca said in a tweet.

Saudi Arabia will allow limited Hajj pilgrimage this year due to the continued risk of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.

Authorities confirmed they have limited the number of pilgrims on this year’s Hajj to 10,000 in line with safety concerns over the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

The penalty for illegal entry into the holy sites in Mecca officially came into effect from midnight and will be in place until the twelfth day of DhulHijjah. Relevant authorities began early this year compared to previous years to ensure we put in place the protocols and measures that will ensure a safe Hajj pilgrimage given the global coronavirus pandemic,” Brigadier General Sami al-Shuwairekh, the official spokesperson for the General Security of Mecca, told Al Arabiya.

Hajj is one of the five pillars of Islam and a must for able-bodied Muslims at least once in their lifetime. Last year, 2.5 million pilgrims performed their Hajj pilgrimage to Mecca and Medina.



Asaduddin Owaisi Treads Cautious Path On Telangana Secretariat Complex Mosque Issue

Jul 19, 2020

HYDERABAD: AIMIM president Asaduddin Owaisi has managed to stay afloat despite BJP and some Muslim organisations tried to corner him on the demolition of two mosques in the secretariat complex. He asserted that development and communal harmony were of paramount importance and the TRS government was doing just that.

While terming the mosques being razed as an unfortunate incident, Asaduddin said he was convinced by chief minister K Chandrasekhar Rao’s promise of getting a larger mosque built on the same premises along with the new secretariat complex. “Maintaining peace is the constitutional duty of the government and the TRS regime is discharging it well,” he told STOI.

He said the government was striking a balance between carrying out developmental works and maintaining communal harmony. He emphasised that there have been no major communal incidents in last six years. “For any development to take place, peace and communal harmony are a necessity. Apart from the CM, the AIMIM should also be given due credit for ensuring harmony since the state was formed,” he said. Asaduddin, who is likely to meet the CM along with religious scholars on the proposed mosque, would also put forth demands like removal of Mohammed Saleem as Waqf Board chairman and filing a criminal case and arresting the contractor for failing to protect the two mosques, sources said.


Secretariat building row: Muslim leaders in TRS should resign until they get CM's assurance on reconstruction of mosques at original site, says Congress

Jul 18, 2020

HYDERABAD: The Congress has demanded that Muslim leaders in the ruling TRS should resign from their posts until they get a written assurance from chief minister K Chandrasekhar Rao that the two mosques that were demolished in the old secretariat premises would be constructed in its original sites.

"The construction of the new secretariat complex should begin only after re-construction of both the mosques at the same site," demanded Congress minorities cell city unit chairman Sameer Waliullah.

Except for assuring to construct more spaciously the temple and the mosque, chief minister K Chandrasekhar Rao did not talk about re-construction of places of worship at its original sites. “Two mosques were demolished but CM KCR has talked about construction of only one mosque and has been silent on the site of construction. Both the mosques should be reconstructed at its original sites,” Sameer Waliullah said.

Stating that the 'black flags' campaign launched by the Congress last week in protest against the demolition of mosques and a temple in the old secretariat premises has evoked huge response in the State, he appealed to the people to continue hoisting black flags and wear black masks and badges demanding that the government construct the places of worship at their original sites.

He also condemned the Telangana State Wakf Board for its silence over the demolition of mosques despite the fact that both were Wakf properties and one of them was a heritage structure.

The Wakf Board should have lodge a police complaint against the demolition. “Wakf Board chairman Mohammed Saleem is trying to mislead the Muslim community and is defending the demolition of mosques. Home Minister Mahmood Ali is also misleading the Muslims on the issue,” alleged Sameer Waliullah.


3 militants killed in Shopian encounter: Police

Khalid Gul

July 19, 2020

Three militants were killed in a gunfight with security forces in Amshipora village of south Kashmir’s Shopian district on Saturday, police said.

A police official said that acting on a specific input, army’s 62 RR, special operation group (SOG) of JK police and 14 Battalion CRPF launched a cordon and search operation in Miraz-Check, Amshipora village last night.

The police official said that as the forces zeroed in towards the suspected spot, a tin shed amidst orchards, the militants resorted to indiscriminate firing.

“Three bodies were retrieved from the gunfight site,” he said.

“The bodies of the slain militants were later taken to PCR Srinagar,” he said.

The police official said several families laid claim over them and reached PCR. However, none could identify them.

IGP Kashmir Vijay Kumar said they have conducted the post mortem of the bodies.

“We have also taken DNA samples. If it matches with any family, they will be allowed to participate in their last rites,” the IGP said.

Their bodies have been taken to north Kashmir’s Baramula district for burial. 2G internet service in the district was  snapped to thwart any attempts of protests.

Lately, police have been denying the bodies of militants to their families as their funerals attracted large crowds.

This was the second encounter in south Kashmir in the past 24 hours. On Friday, three militants including a Pakistani national were killed in Kulgam district.


COVID19 threatens to exacerbate conflict, humanitarian crises: WHO

July 19, 2020

Covid-19 threatens to exacerbate many issues the world is facing, such as years of conflict and other humanitarian crises, the chief of the World Health Organization (WHO) has warned, while calling for continuity of essential health services.

Although Covid-19 has rightly captured the world’s attention, many countries, especially in Africa and the Middle East, are still reeling from years of conflict and other humanitarian crises, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said on Friday at a routine briefing, Xinhua reported.

He said the pandemic, and the restrictions put in place to suppress it, are taking a heavy toll on 220 million people in protracted emergencies. While it is too early to assess the full impact of so-called lockdowns and other containment measures, up to 132 million more people may go hungry in 2020, in addition to the 690 million who went hungry last year.

According to the WHO chief, deep budget cuts to education and rising poverty caused by the pandemic could force at least 9.7 million children out of school forever by the end of this year, with millions more falling behind in learning.

Meanwhile, the economic impact of the pandemic in humanitarian settings can aggravate already dire living conditions, such as more displacement, food shortages, risk of malnutrition, decrease in access to essential services, and mental health problems, said Tedros.

The pandemic is teaching us that health is not a luxury item; it’s the foundation of social, economic and political stability,” he said. “The impacts of the pandemic go far beyond health, and so do the needs, especially for the poorest and most vulnerable countries.” The WHO chief called on the international community to use Covid-19 as an opportunity to build health systems that are more resilient and more able to withstand the impact of health emergencies.



Seven Aides To Pakistan PM Hold Dual Nationalities

Syed Irfan Raza

19 Jul, 2020

ISLAMABAD: The cabinet division on Saturday issued the details of assets and dual nationalities of 20 advisers and special assistants to the prime minister.

The cabinet division’s notification placed on its website shows that out of 19 non-elected cabinet members, seven special assistants to the prime minister (SAPMs) hold dual nationalities. They are: SAPM on Political Affairs Shahbaz Gill (United States), SAPM on Petroleum Nadeem Babar (US), SAPM on Overseas Pakistanis Syed Zulfiqar Abbas Bukhari (United Kingdom), SAPM on National Security Moeed Yousuf (US), SAPM on Power Division Shahzad Qasim (US), SAPM on Parlia­mentary Coordination Nadeem Afzal Gondal (Canada) and SAPM on Digital Pakistan Tania S. Aidrus (Canada and Singapore).

Nadeem Babar owns properties both in Pakistan and the US worth over Rs310 million. His business capitals amount to over Rs2.15 billion.

Zulfi Bukhari owns properties both in Pakistan and the UK. He also owns a Toyota Land Cruiser in Pakistan and four vehicles in the UK — Bentley (2017), Range Rover and two Mercedes.

Moeed Yousuf own properties worth over Rs100m.

Special assistants, advisers own properties worth billions of rupees at home and abroad

Tania Aidrus owns properties in the US, Britain and Singapore.

Worth of Shahbaz Gill’s properties is over Rs110m.

SAPM on Poverty Alleviation Sania Nistar owns a joint property of 9.4 marlas in Saddar, Peshawar, and a Honda Civic (2014) car in her spouse’s name.

SAPM on Establishment Shahzad Arbab owns a house, plots and shops worth over Rs100m and fixed deposit amounting to Rs20m in his wife’s name.

SAPM on Information and Broadcast retired Lt Gen Asim Saleem Bajwa owns eight properties, including a house, plots, commercial plots and agricultural land (65 acres), worth over Rs1.4bn.

SAPM on Health Services Dr Zafar Mirza owns a house and property in Chattar, Islamabad, amounting to Rs20m and two plots in DHA Rawalpindi and Taxila worth Rs15m each.

SAPM on Accountability Shahzad Akbar owns assets worth Rs50m.

Adviser to the PM on Finance Dr Hafeez Shaikh owns properties and assets worth around Rs300m. Adviser on Commerce Abdul Razak Dawood owns assets worth over Rs2bn. Adviser on Climate Change Malik Amin Aslam owns properties and assets worth over Rs140m. Adviser on Parliamentary Affairs Dr Babar Awan owns assets worth Rs110m and Rs567m cash in hand.


Call for increase in Pakistan-Iran trade activities

19 Jul, 2020

QUETTA: Increase in trade activities between Pakistan and Iran is the need of the hour and the two countries should cooperate with each other for giving a boost to their economies so that they both could face economic challenges they are facing currently.

These views were expressed during a meeting between Collector Customs Appeasement and Facilitation Abdul WaheedMarwat and the in-charge of the Economic Affairs of the Consulate General of Iran, Hussain Jaffari, at Customs House here on Saturday.

Mr Marwat briefed the Iranian envoy on the ongoing ITTMS project launched by the Asian Development Bank in Chaman through which import and export would be streamlined on modern lines.

“The Pakistan government is interested in launching this project at the Taftan border with Iran so trade activities could be expanded between the two countries on modern lines,” Mr Marwat said. He informed the Iranian envoy about reservations of the Pakistan government over export of white spirit and requested the Iranian government for taking extra checking to ensure security standards of white spirit. He said that the Pakistan government was providing maximum facilities to Iranian traders.


Imran again throws his weight behind Buzdar

Mansoor Malik

19 Jul, 2020

LAHORE: Prime Minister Imran Khan has for the first time shifted his focus from the provincial civil bureaucracy to public representatives, directing Punjab Chief Minister Sardar Usman Buzdar to communicate closely with members of the national and provincial assemblies and get their feedback about the prevalence of corruption and quality of governance in the province.

Regretting that the government system had degenerated and become more of a hurdle than a facilitator in development, Mr Khan maintained that the system could not be reformed overnight though the process of reformation of state institutions had begun.

The prime minister arrived here on Saturday and left for Islamabad early in the evening after addressing the ground-breaking ceremony of Quaid-i-Azam Business Park, Sheikhupura, which was arranged in Lahore, besides having a one-on-one meeting with CM Buzdar, chairing a meeting on the provincial health sector and exchanging views with MNAs and MPAs.

At the meeting, Mr Khan reportedly assured Mr Buzdar that he would continue serving as the chief executive of the province till the completion of his government’s constitutional term in 2023.

Following a briefing by the chief minister, it is learnt that the prime minister expressed satisfaction over the Punjab government’s progress in controlling coronavirus, setting up of River Ravi Front Authority and other ongoing development projects in the province.

In separate meetings with MNAs and MPAs as well as those belonging to south Punjab, the PM directed the bureaucrats to pay “courtesy calls” on the lawmakers of areas where they were transferred and posted to, to develop a liaison with the public representatives and address people’s issues.

The lawmakers from south Punjab lauded the premier and CM Buzdar for establishing South Punjab Secretariat to solve people’s problems at their doorsteps.

Acknowledging that corruption was abound, particularly at the lower level, Mr Khan asked the CM to allow access to all MNAs and MPAs, take them on board, seek their feedback about ground realities and take measures to plug corruption and improve governance in Punjab at a faster pace.

He also asked the chief minister to consider development works being recommended by MNAs in their respective constituencies. He also hinted that each the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf MNA in Punjab would be given Rs100 million as development funds for his/her respective constituency — the practice prevalent in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan also.

Sources told Dawn the prime minister stated that he had been receiving information about rampant corruption and not-so-good governance from various districts, including Mianwali, Lahore and Multan.

During his meeting with MNAs, PTI’s Ahmad Hussain Deharr reportedly came up to the premier to say that there was rampant corruption in Multan and outside interference in postings and transfers of government officers in his constituency — referring to Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi. Mr Qureshi was also present in the meeting.

Earlier, Mr Deharr was served a show-cause notice for violating party discipline and asked to appear before a sub-committee of the party’s accountability and discipline committee.

Later speaking at the Quaid-i-Azam Business Park ground-breaking ceremony, PM Khan said the Sheikhupura project would serve as a great business opportunity for the entire country as foreign companies were likely to invest here.

He lauded the selection of an area between the business hubs of Lahore and Faisalabad for the business park and guaranteed full support of the federal government to the chief minister in completing the project at the earliest. To remove any hurdle in completing the project, the CM should maintain liaison with federal minister Hammad Azhar, he said.

Mr Khan said his government was busy reforming systems, ending red tapism and in true sense of the word ensuring ease of doing business for people. He said he had personally spearheaded the housing and construction sector during the past three months and tried to remove hurdles in smooth functioning of businesses.

While presiding over another meeting to review health projects and efforts to contain coronavirus, the prime minister directed the relevant officials to utilise all available resources to complete the ongoing projects. Earlier, Punjab Health Minister Dr Yasmin Rashid briefed him about the ongoing projects and the anti-Covid efforts. Mr Khan also stressed that the government must ensure strict enforcement of Covid-19 guidelines across the province during EidulAzha and Muharram.


Pakistan summons Indian envoy to protest LoC ceasefire violation that left 2 injured

Naveed Siddiqui

19 Jul, 2020

The Foreign Office (FO) on Saturday summoned a senior Indian diplomat to register Pakistan's "strong protest" over the latest ceasefire violations by Indian border forces along the Line of Control (LoC), which left two women injured a day earlier.

The Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) said in a tweet on Friday evening that Indian troops had initiated "unprovoked ceasefire violation" in Rakhchikri and Baroh sectors along the LoC targeting the civilian population.

"Due to [the] indiscriminate and unprovoked firing", 35-year-old Shakeela Bibi, a resident of village Kirni, and 40-year-old Nazia Bibi, a resident of village Gahi, sustained serious injuries, the FO spokesperson said in a statement.

"The Indian occupation forces along the LoC and the Working Boundary have been continuously targeting civilian populated areas with artillery fire, heavy-calibre mortars and automatic weapons," the press release noted.

According to the FO, India has committed 1,697 ceasefire violations this year to date, resulting in 14 deaths and serious injuries to 133 civilians.

Condemning the targeting of innocent civilians by Indian forces as "deplorable", the FO said the Indian envoy was conveyed that "such senseless acts are in clear violation of the 2003 Ceasefire Understanding, and are also against all established humanitarian norms and professional military conduct".

"These egregious violations of international law reflect consistent Indian attempts to escalate the situation along the LoC and are a threat to regional peace and security," the statement added.

It said that by raising tensions along the LoC and the WB, "India cannot divert attention from the grave human rights situation" in Indian-occupied Jammu and Kashmir.

The FO called upon India to respect the 2003 ceasefire agreement and to "maintain peace along the LoC and the WB" along with investigating all such violations.

It also urged India to allow the United Nations Military Observer Group in India and Pakistan (UNMOGIP) to play its mandated role as per United Nations Security Council resolutions.

The heavily militarised LoC that splits the disputed Himalayan region of Kashmir has been witnessing skirmishes and artillery duels in a serious breach of a truce agreement that the rival armies had signed in November 2003.

Tensions between the two countries have remained high after the Hindu nationalist government of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi revoked the special status of Indian-occupied Kashmir in August last year.

Last Sunday, six civilians, including a woman and her young daughter, were injured in two districts of Azad Jammu and Kashmir due to firing by Indian border troops from across the restive LoC.



Trocadero: Piccadilly mosque plans that received racist comments withdrawn

18 July 2020

Plans to convert part of the Trocadero building at London's Piccadilly Circus into a mosque which received thousands of racist comments have been withdrawn.

The Aziz Foundation, an Islamic education charity, submitted plans in February to turn two basement floors into a mosque for 1,000 worshippers.

When the plans were submitted, the Islamic education charity said a mosque would help provide prayer space in a location where there was "a significant shortfall in places of worship".

The Local Democracy Reporting Service reports that local politicians have been critical of the high volume of objections that were "racist".

Conservative councillor Matthew Green, cabinet member for business and planning, said: "We find these racist, hateful comments utterly repellent and will always move to ensure that they are taken down as quickly as possible."

Previously, Labour councillor Hamza Taouzzale said: "Some of the comments that I've unfortunately had to read through were horrible, they really were. They were racist, they weren't aligned with any of our views."

The Trocadero was originally built as a restaurant in 1896 and turned into an exhibition centre and entertainment space in the 1980s.

The underground floors of the Grade II-listed building were last used as a cinema until 2006. Permission had already been granted to use it as a community and arts centre.

The Aziz Foundation was founded by Asif Aziz, a businessman and philanthropist who was born in Malawi and grew up in Wandsworth.

He is the founder and chief executive of real estate firm Criterion Capital, which bought the Trocadero and Piccadilly Hotel for £225m in 2005.


British Muslim leader facing the death penalty in Bangladesh sues Home Secretary Priti Patel for £60,000 after she shared report on Twitter linking him to war crimes

19 July 2020

A British Muslim leader facing the death penalty in Bangladesh for alleged war crimes is suing Home Secretary Priti Patel for £60,000 in libel damages.

Chowdhury Mueen-Uddin, 71, who strenuously denies claims linking him to the killing of pro-independence activists during the country’s civil war in the 1970s, alleges that he was defamed in a Home Office report last year.

The lawsuit says the Challenging Hateful Extremism document by the Commission for Countering Extremism was shared on the Home Office’s Twitter account, which has almost one million followers, and retweeted by Ms Patel and others – including BBC journalist Mishal Husain and the human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell.

Mr Mueen-Uddin, who helped found the Muslim Council of Great Britain and was pictured in 2003 with Prince Charles while vice-chairman of the East London Mosque, alleges the report libelled him by stating that he was responsible for serious criminal violence, including crimes against humanity, during the Bangladeshi war of independence in 1971.

The father-of-four, who lives in North London, insists he has not committed war crimes, is not a link between the perpetrators of the 1971 violence and the leadership of the Islamist Jamaat-e-Islami party’s UK branch and is not and never has been a senior leader of the Jamaat-e-Islami political group.

Seven years ago, Mr Mueen-Uddin was convicted in his absence of crimes against humanity for allegedly leading a militia said to have killed 18 intellectuals while it fought the split from Pakistan.

But he says the tribunal has been widely condemned and discredited, citing Liberal Democrat peer Lord Carlile, who described the tribunal as ‘not fit for purpose’ and the case against Mr Mueen-Uddin as ‘nothing short of farcical’.

In 2012, The Mail on Sunday revealed that Mr Mueen-Uddin, who at the time had a senior role with the NHS, was facing prosecution by the tribunal which is based in Bangladesh’s capital Dhaka.

His writ, submitted to the High Court last month, also claims that the Challenging Hateful Extremism report breached European data protection regulations and that his personal information was unlawfully used.

The report, originally published in October last year, remained on the Government’s website until March 20 after the Commission initially dismissed Mr Mueen-Uddin’s complaint. It later removed references to him and deleted his personal data.

Mr Mueen-Uddin, who fled Bangladesh after the war and gained British citizenship, claims the report’s publication caused him severe distress and embarrassment which was aggravated by the Commission’s failure to contact him before publishing the allegations.

He says he suffered further when the Home Secretary’s lawyers wrote to him in February, suggesting it was ‘fanciful’ that the report had seriously harmed his reputation.

A Home Office spokesman said: ‘This relates to claims made within a report published by the Independent Commission for Countering Extremism.

‘However, given the Home Office is the sponsoring department for the commission, we are unable to comment further while legal proceedings are ongoing.’


Archbishop of Albania on Hagia Sophia: Outrageous insult against Christianity and Islam

Jul 18, 2020

As he stressed in the Greek newspaper Ta Nea, Turkey’s intolerant attitude towards its decision on Hagia Sophia is not only a kind of cultural “jihad” (“Holy War”) at a time when jihadists are condemned internationally, but also it is an insult both against Christianity and Islam.

They converted the wonderful church of indivisible Christianity into a mosque. They try to cover up its beautiful face, to make its wonderful icons useless, and to hide its expressive eyes,” he stressed. He also said, “In addition, they inaugurate a strange type of mosque, which is strange to the classical Islamic one, with Christian icons being covered up, which in their eloquent silence do not cease to bear testament to the Christian truth. I do not know whether there is any similar Islamic place of worship in the world.”

“The stubbornness of the Turkish authorities underscores what we have been highlighting in recent decades: violence in the name of religion violates the sanctity of religion itself. And no one, no matter how strong and great one thinks one is, has the right to despise this universal truth,” he concluded.


France to probe Abu Dhabi crown prince over torture accusations in Yemen

July 18, 2020

French authorities are opening an investigation into allegations that Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan has been complicit in acts of torture in Yemen, where the UAE, along with Saudi Arabia and its allies, has been waging a years-long bloody war.

Citing multiple sources with knowledge of the case, AFP reported on Friday that a French investigating magistrate had been mandated to take on the probe.

An initial inquiry was launched against bin Zayed last October after two complaints were filed during his visit to Paris in November 2018.

Six Yemenis had lodged a complaint with a judge specializing in crimes against humanity in Paris over acts of torture committed in UAE-run detention centers in Yemen.

"My clients welcome the opening of this probe and have great hope in French justice," said lawyer Joseph Breham representing the six Yemenis.

The United Arab Emirates is Saudi Arabia’s key partner in its devastating war on Yemen, which began in March 2015 with the arms support from certain Western countries.

The purported aim was to return to power a Riyadh-backed former regime and defeat the popular Houthi Ansarullah movement that took control of state matters after the resignation of the then president and his government.

Besides playing a significant part in aerial assaults and deploying troops to Yemen, the UAE has been training militants fighting on the ground against the Yemeni armed forces and allied fighters.

Additionally, the UAE is running secret prisons in Yemen’s southern regions, which are mostly occupied by Abu Dhabi-backed separatists.

The United Nations refers to the situation in Yemen as the world's worst humanitarian crisis as the war has killed tens of thousands of Yemenis and left 80 percent of the impoverished state's 29 million people dependent on aid for survival.


First step taken towards developing islamic finance in Uzbekistan

18 July 2020

The ceremony of signing a Statement of Intent has been held between the Agency for the Development of the Capital Market of the Republic of Uzbekistan, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), and the Islamic Development Bank, establishing cooperation for the introduction of Islamic finance in Uzbekistan. The development of this new type of financing is considered to be an essential alternative financial model for achieving the Sustainable Development Goals in the country, Trend reports citing Timesca.

AtabekNazirov, Director of the Agency for the Development of the Capital Market, said: “The Agency is firmly committed to the Sustainable Development Goals agenda, and to developing new financial instruments, particularly the Sukuk bonds which will bridge the gap in achieving national Sustainable Development Goals in Uzbekistan.”

Unlike traditional bank finance which is motivated primarily by profit, Islamic finance focuses on humanistic goals. It provides a “symmetrical approach between cost, personal contribution and reward”. In ordinary banking, preference is given to those activities which bring maximum profit, associated with a high interest rate. Meanwhile Islamic finance is by its nature not focused on maximizing profits.

“Uzbekistan and the countries of the world are going through difficult times, experiencing one of history’s deadliest pandemics. Against this backdrop, the Government of Uzbekistan is skillfully applying immediate support, as well as developing long term strategies to help the country recover from the crisis. This forward-looking approach can be observed in the intentions of the Agency in accelerating the development of new financing instruments,” said Ms. Matilda Dimovska, UNDP Resident Representative in Uzbekistan, during the online signing ceremony.

“The efforts of CMDA to establish an enabling environment for introducing green Sukuk bonds in Uzbekistan are commendable, and UNDP stands ready to support that process.”

The development of Islamic finance in Uzbekistan has the potential to be one of the most important elements in forming a national public-private partnership market, and can be very useful for achieving SDGs and reducing social tension.

The Vice President of the Islamic Development Bank for Country Programs Mr. Mansur Mukhtar said: “Our bank is pleased to support the initiatives of Uzbekistan on the way to expand financial opportunities for the development of the country.”

It is expected that this agreement will become a necessary foundation for developing Uzbekistan’s capital market. The cooperation will help develop a legal and institutional framework for introducing new financial instruments, and for taking the next steps towards launching an Islamic financial product in 2021.



Head Of Islamic Scholars Of Tyre: Secret Of Victory Over Enemies Is Following Of Imam Khamenei

July 18, 2020

Sheikh Ali Yasin, the head of the Islamic Scholars of Tyre, Lebanon referred to the anniversary of the victory of Hezbollah over the occupying Zionist regime in the 2006 33-Day War and said, “The July War showed that the Islamic Resistance Axis is impenetrable and invincible, and due to the presence of the Islamic Resistance Axis, the Zionists haven’t dared to attack southern Lebanon again because the Islamic Resistance Axis, with its own weapons, protects Lebanon and the unity of the country and has proved the flimsy power of the enemies.”

The Lebanese Shi’ite scholar referred the sedition of the United States in Lebanon and mentioned a sentence from Imam Musa al-Sadr when he asked why the United States hates us – “Because we say there is no god but God and the United States wants to be God on earth.”

He stated, “We have to prepare ourselves. The Americans wanted to dominate the region but Imam Khomeini struck them with the first blow with the formation of the Islamic Republic and the second slap was with the formation of Hezbollah, which was able to support Lebanon and its independence and play a deterrent role in the region.”

Referring to the role of General Qasem Soleimani in the 33-Day War, Sheikh Yasin said, “He was a great man who gave his life for Islam and his great role in cooperating with the commanders of the Islamic Resistance Axis in Lebanon isn’t hidden from anyone. During the July War, he was with the youth of Hezbollah in Jabal Amil under the fire of the Zionist regime.”

His Eminence referred to the role of the Lebanese people in the 33-Day War and after the war and said, “Many Lebanese people, especially those from the south, understand that if there is no Islamic Resistance, no one will remain and this security depends on having the weapons of the Islamic Resistance. This is why voices are heard to disarm the Islamic Resistance in order to achieve their plans and goals. This wish will never be fulfilled, and the people know very well that the weapon of the Islamic Resistance has led to the victory in the July War and the resistance against the front of arrogance.”

He added, “As long as the Islamic Resistance exists in Lebanon, the Zionist regime won’t be foolish enough to invade Lebanese territory because, God-willing, it will be defeated and we will celebrate our victory once again.”

Regarding the current crisis in Lebanon, Sheikh Yasin said, “Patience and stability is the key to the Islamic Resistance overcoming this crisis and just as the Islamic Resistance overcame the Zionist regime and the Takfiris, it can now overcome this crisis with good planning, patience and cooperation.”

In conclusion, he referred to the role of Imam Khamenei and Sheikh Sayyid Hasan Nasrallah in the July War and said, “Imam Khamenei is the deputy of the Imam of the Age ‎‎[Imam al-Mahdi] and he wisely examines the situation in his own decisions and from the line of the Ahl al-Bayt. They follow, and as long as we have leaders like Imam Khamenei and Sayyid Hasan Nasrallah, by the grace of God Almighty, we will never be afraid of our enemies.”


Azerbaijan Ambassador to US: If Israel Nixes Annexation, Ties With Muslim States To Improve


JULY 18, 2020

If Israel would choose not to annex the Jordan Valley and/or portions of the West Bank, it would send “a message of goodwill” to the Muslim nations, Azerbaijan Ambassador to the United States Elin Suleymanov told The Jerusalem Post.

He said that “in the current situation in which Israel is developing much better relations with the surrounding world, with Muslim nations,” the move could be “damaging.”

Azerbaijan is a pioneer in that it has had deep bilateral relations with Israel for more than 25 years. Since 1992, the countries have collaborated in the diplomatic, economic, cultural and security realms. Azerbaijan remains one of the few Muslim-majority countries to fully recognize Israel and to normalize diplomatic relations with the Jewish state.

A top-level representative of the country has presented at the AIPAC pro-Israel policy conference each year for the last six years, the ambassador said.

Suleymanov said that Azerbaijan could not support annexation because it “goes against international law” and the country’s belief in a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Suleymanov warned that if Israel did choose to annex “this type of action generally has consequences,” possibly for Israel’s relationship with Azerbaijan, and definitely at the United Nations and with the larger Muslim world.

More than 20% of Azerbaijan’s internationally recognized territory – the mountainous Nagorno-Karabakh region of western Azerbaijan – has been considered occupied by Armenia since 1994. The UN Security Council has recognized Azerbaijan’s right to this territory with Resolutions 822, 853, 874 and 884.

Suleymanov said that when he meets with other Muslim leaders, they often ask him about how relations between Azerbaijan and Israel have developed and the benefits of these ties. Though he would not be specific, he said that “the attitudes toward Israel in the region are improving and the trajectory is good for Israel.

“If you weigh the value of things, I think the relationships developing today have much more value than perhaps any benefit of annexation, whatever it may be.”

As part of US President Donald Trump’s peace plan, which was revealed back in January, Israel is permitted to annex 30% of the West Bank. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Alternate Prime Minister Benny Gantz included in their unity government agreement that the country could take steps toward annexation sometime after July 1 this year.


Encouraging sabotage in Iran can ignite full range escalation, Tehran warns

19 July 2020

Tehran’s UN Mission has denounced a Bloomberg article that has praised the assassination of Iranian nuclear scientists and encouraged sabotage in the country’s infrastructure, warning against “barbaric” measures that can spark a full range escalation.

Alireza Miryousefi, minister and head of media office of Iran’s Mission to the UN, responded to a Bloomberg opinion column written by Eli Lake titled, “Sabotage in Iran Is Preferable to a Deal With Iran”.

In his response published on the American news outlet, Miryousefi said Lake’s column is “one that against all journalistic standards encourages violence, terror and sabotage, and makes a number of factual errors and assumptions.”

He noted that “praising the illegal assassination of nuclear scientists and encouraging sabotage in Iran’s infrastructures amounts to what are inhumane, barbaric acts that promote violence and terrorism. Such measures do nothing less than keeping tensions high, and could ignite a full range escalation.”

Lake’s article argued that recent incidents in Iran, among them the one at Natanz nuclear facility, showed that there were better ways to frustrate what it called the “nuclear ambitions” of the Islamic Republic.

Iran has not officially declared whether the incident at the Natanz complex was an accident or an act of sabotage, but the Supreme National Security Council (SNSC) said the main cause has been determined and will be announced at an appropriate time.

Some reports suggested Tel Aviv’s alleged role, but Israeli officials neither confirmed nor denied the regime’s involvement.

Meanwhile, Iranian officials have said much of the speculation linking the incident to Israel is nothing but bluster which pleased Israeli leaders, warning Tel Aviv of serious consequences if it turned out to be true.

The ex-Israeli minister of military affairs figure says Netanyahu should gag an unnamed official leaking to the press Tel Aviv’s alleged role in an incident at Iran’s Natanz nuclear facility.

The Bloomberg article further claimed that one of the recent incidents in Iran appeared to have targeted “an underground research facility for chemical weapons.”

Iran’s UN Mission spokesman refuted the claim, saying the country has been “the biggest victim of chemical weapons attacks in contemporary history” conducted by the regime of former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein with “the shameful aid of Western countries”.

“Iran has no program or plans to produce chemical weapons, and the claim made in the opinion piece is not just bizarre, but completely fallacious,” he stressed.

Miryousefi also hailed the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) as a “historic agreement” that was concluded in 2015 after two years of intensive negotiations.

“It was the [US President Donald] Trump administration that unilaterally withdrew from this international accord and violated UN Security Council resolution 2231, which enshrined it in international law. Consequently, the rest of the world has strongly criticized this blatant US retreat from its obligations,” he added.

Lake, born in Philadelphia to a Jewish family, is a columnist for the Bloomberg View. He is known for his controversial articles about security matters. His critics say his past sources lacked credibility, "used to manipulate the discourse on national security".


Iranians can break outbreak chain by observing health guidelines

18 July 2020

President Hassan Rouhani says has called on all Iranians to join hands and break the chain of the outbreak by observing health guidelines.

Rouhani further emphasized, “Victory over the disease is possible, but it may be a little difficult and time consuming. We will definitely win and we must stand firm and know that victory is certain.”

The president added that about 25 million Iranians infected with the coronavirus have overcome the disease, but another 30-35 million people are at risk of contracting it.

Citing a report provided by the Health Ministry, Rouhani announced the figures during a meeting of the National Headquarters for Managing and Fighting the Coronavirus in Tehran on Saturday.

"Our estimate is that as of now 25 million Iranians have been infected with this virus and overcome it and about 14,000 have lost their dear lives,” he said. “There is the possibility that between 30 and 35 million other people will be at risk" in the coming months.

Rouhani's deputy head of communications, Alireza Moezi, said on Twitter hours later that the 25 million in fact refers to "those who have encountered the virus and achieved complete immunity".

More than 200,000 people were hospitalized over the past 150 days, Rouhani added, predicting that the figure would almost double in the future.

Based on the Heath Ministry’s report, he said, out of 1,000 people infected with the coronavirus, 500 have no symptoms and may not even realize they have contracted the disease. About 350 people have mild symptoms while 150 may need to be hospitalized.

Authorities in Tehran are rolling back anti-coronavirus curbs for a week, after a surge in new infections that has driven daily cases back toward the peak in March.

Iran has been among the countries hit hard by the coronavirus that first showed up in China in late December 2019 before spreading across the globe.

Rouhani said that some reports show that the disease probably began to spread in Iran from the provinces of Qom and Gilan where passengers had arrived from the Chinese city of Wuhan.

Authorities on Saturday reimposed one-week restrictions in the capital Tehran including banning religious and cultural functions, closing boarding schools, cafes, indoor pools, amusement parks and zoos.

The Health Ministry reported 188 deaths in the past 24 hours to take Iran's total to 13,979. Ministry spokeswoman Sima Sadat Lari said 2,166 new cases were detected over the period, taking the overall number 271,606.


North America

Million Muslim Votes: campaign seeks unprecedented turnout in US presidential election

Cody Combs

July 18, 2020

As the 2020 US presidential election approaches, several groups are working to ensure that as many of America's approximately 3.4 million Muslim citizens as possible make their voices heard at the ballot box.

“The strategies are kind of old school and new school,” said Wael Alzayat, chief executive of Emgage, a family of organisations working to promote and empower Muslim Americans through civic engagement.

In particular, Mr Alzayat was referring to the Million Muslim Votes, a new campaign supported by several civic groups seeking to increase American Muslim voter participation, by turning out one million Muslim voters in the 2020 presidential election. According to polling from the Institute for Social Policy and Understanding (ISPU), in the 2016 election, American Muslims were the least likely faith group to be registered to vote.

Mr Alzayat said some of the “old school” strategies for ensuring turnout in 2020 include using voter data to contact people by phone.

“We have access to the voter data and the likely Muslim voters who are registered, so it’s literally contacting households and getting a hold of people and making sure they commit to voting,” he said. “People who actually say ‘I commit to vote’ are more likely to vote.”

Mr Alzayat said the group was making sure not to overlook postal mail and email to ensure that voters do not miss educational materials and important election dates.

However, coronavirus outbreak has forced all civic engagement groups to adjust their strategies leading up to the presidential election in November 3.

Covid-19 has also caused some of the informational community meetings spearheaded by the group to fall by the wayside, but Mr Alzayat insisted the impact had been minimal.

Attending one of those online meetings is none other than presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden, who recently accepted an invitation from Emgage Action to speak at the online Million Muslim Votes summit on July 20.

"He is meeting with Emgage Action to hear the concerns of Muslim Americans," Mr Alzayat wrote in an email. "Our voices are being heard in a way that was unthinkable even a few years ago."

According to the group, the 2018 midterm elections saw a 25-point increase in registered Muslim voter turnout in Florida, Ohio, Michigan and Virginia. Emgage highlighted Florida in particular, which saw 53 per cent of the state’s 110,000 registered Muslims participate in the midterm election.

Although there has recently been a record number of American Muslims running for US political office at the local, state and national levels, Mr Alzayat said there was plenty of room for improvement in terms of voter turnout.

“Despite those gains, the Muslim vote turnout is still lower than the general population numbers but we do feel like the gap is closing and we hope to narrow it in the upcoming elections,” he said.

Emgage currently has voter canvassing and phone bank operations in Texas, Virginia, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Florida and New York, while also maintaining a similar presence with the help of other organisations in the states of Illinois, Ohio and California.

Some of the other groups assisting with Million Muslim Votes include the US Council of Muslim Organisations, MPower Change, and the Illinois Muslim Civic Coalition.

“2020 is our year…and let’s just be honest here, this current administration does not want us or our votes to count,” Indian American and Muslim singer Zeshan B says in the ad, just before a clip of US President Donald Trump calling for a “total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States”.

Mr Alzayat said the ad was actually cut from a longer ad that focused on the power of minority communities to protect their rights.

“We thought that the footage could be very appropriate for the Million Muslim Votes campaign, so we worked with him [Zeshan B] to adapt it and you saw the results, it’s successful,” he said.

But given the partisan tone of the ad, Mr Alzayat insisted it was important to differentiate Emgage Action's ad from Million Muslim Votes overall.

According to the 2016 report from the Institute for Social Policy and Understanding, the economy was the most important issue among Muslim voters, followed by civil rights, education, immigration, national security and health care.

In terms of the ideological spectrum, 43 per cent of those surveyed by ISPU identified as moderate, whereas 32 per cent identified as somewhat liberal and 17 per cent as somewhat conservative.

President Trump, however, has definitely changed dynamics. Ever since his 2016 presidential campaign, experts say Mr Trump’s rhetoric aimed at Muslims has significantly affected political involvement and political leanings.

“One thing President Trump has been doing is unifying the viewpoints of all minorities in opposition to him, I suspect the same thing has been happening with Muslim Americans,” said Peter Yacobucci, associate professor of political science at Buffalo State University.

Mr Yacobucci said although Muslim American votes might not make a significant impact on a national scale, they could make a significant difference in several swing states.

“It just so happens that Michigan is a key battleground state for the 2020 race, and I could envision that’s where Muslim American votes could truly matter,” he said, referring to state’s relatively large Muslim population.

According to Mr Alzayat, younger Muslims in the US are increasingly making their voices heard, helping to change the landscape and increasing the importance of the Muslim vote.

“Right now about half of the Muslim population in America is US-born,” he said, noting that some of the older Muslim Americans who emigrated to the US tended to be less civically engaged. “A lot of the immigrants come from places that don’t have strong electoral or civic participation positions.”

Iman Abid, a Muslim American activist in Rochester, New York, says candidates have definitely started to pay more attention to the Muslim community.

“I’ve seen far more political candidates stepping into mosques and having conversations at interfaith centres … really trying to understand what it is that Muslim Americans need in this country.”

Ms Abid echoed the sentiment that younger Muslim Americans have been taking more interest in civic engagement for quite some time, adding that the recent growth of the Black Lives Matter movement had created another plank for many.

Despite Mr Trump’s call for a “total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the US” and his promises to close “some mosques”, among other comments, he does have some Muslim support.

A 2018 ISPU survey looking at Trump support among Muslims found that 13 per cent of American Muslim voters approved of the president's job performance.

“Muslims who identify as Republican are significantly more likely than either Democrats or self-reported independents to support the president’s job performance,” according to a summary of the findings.

There is also the Bernie Sanders factor. The socialist senator from Vermont evoked unprecedented enthusiasm among Muslims in the US, and although he has endorsed Mr Biden, it remains to be seen whether all of his supporters will show up to vote in November.

These variables show just how complicated gauging Muslim American civic engagement can be, but Mr Alzayat remains undeterred, saying he is confident Million Muslim Votes can achieve its objective.

“Increasingly you see the community getting excited behind this campaign and we have a few more months until the election so we can definitely build and maintain this momentum,” he said.


Muslim Coalition for America distributes 7,500 face masks to LA-area low-income communities

July 17, 2020

As the coronavirus’s second surge worsened, the Muslim Coalition for America distributed 7,500 reusable face masks to low-income communities in Southern California this week.

MCA  delivered face masks at the Watts Empowerment Center and Verbum Dei High School, in response to continuing calls by Gov. Gavin Newsom and other leaders to Californians to wear a face covering while in public to stem the spread of  COVID-19.

More strict “Safer at Home” measures have be rekindled in recent days, as the number of new cases and hospitalizations connected to the virus have risen at alarming levels.


Coronavirus Victims: 1st Muslim Prison Chaplain In Texas, Akbar Nurid-Din Shabazz

July 17, 2020

Even before a recent surge of new cases of the coronavirus in Texas, community leaders were dying from the disease - leaders like Akbar Nurid-Din Shabazz, whose community was locked behind bars.

In 1977, Shabazz became the first Muslim chaplain in the Texas Department of Criminal Justice. He was a confidant and mentor to many, and he died of COVID-19 on April 23.

CHANG: Eugene Farooq was Shabazz's longtime friend and colleague. Farooq credits him with revolutionizing and expanding Islam in the Texas prison system.

EUGENE FAROOQ: Someone very dedicated who sacrificed a lot of pleasures in life to give attention to men who really needed it most.

MCCAMMON: Men like Basile Abdullah (ph). Abdullah grew close to Shabazz while he was in prison. He was struck by Shabazz's commitment to care for every inmate no matter their religious beliefs.

CHANG: When Abdullah's life sentence was reversed, he promised to make a contribution to his local Islamic community by building a mosque. But his prison record got in the way, which is when Shabazz told him...

BASILE ABDULLAH: Never let someone change you from your identity. Make the best of that identity. Don't be ashamed of that identity.

MCCAMMON: Finally, in 2008, Abdullah and former inmates set up a mosque in Houston.

ABDULLAH: And coming in contact with him and knowing him in the prison and outside of the prison has put me into a life that I could not have lived. I could not have - the things that I have done could not have happened.

CHANG: Akbar Nurid-Din Shabazz Jr. knew his father to be a generous man, but it took his father's death to show him just how big of an impact he had had on the people around him.

AKBAR NURID-DIN SHABAZZ JR: I mean, I never told him how proud I was of him, and I think about that. You know, of course, I told him, you know, that I love him and that kind of thing. But after he passed, I really started to hear about the impact he had on others.


'Black Lives Matter' mural outside Trump Tower defaced again


A "Black Lives Matter'' mural painted on the street in front of the Trump Tower in New York City has been defaced for the third time in less than a week.

e on Saturday arrested two women for pouring black paint on the mural.

A video showed one of the women smearing the paint on the mural, shouting "they don't care about Black lives'' and "refund the police."

On Friday, three people were caught on a surveillance video splattering blue paint on the mural while a woman was seen littering with flyers that mentioned the shooting death of a 1-year-old boy in Brooklyn.

One person was seen wearing an "All Lives Matter'' shirt.

Several streets in New York and other parts of the country have been painted with "Black Lives Matter'' in solidarity with the movement demanding justice and reforms in the wake of the recent killing of Black people, including George Floyd.

President Donald Trump had said in a tweet earlier this month that painting the words on Fifth Avenue in front of his tower would "denigrate" the "luxury Avenue."


UN chief: World 'at the breaking point' with vast inequality


United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has warned the world is at a "breaking point" and calls for a new model for global governance to tackle inequalities exacerbated by the coronavirus pandemic.

Delivering the annual Nelson Mandela lecture online on Saturday, Guterres said the pandemic "has been likened to an X-ray, revealing fractures in the fragile skeleton of the societies we have built".

"It is exposing fallacies and falsehoods everywhere: The lie that free markets can deliver healthcare for all; the fiction that unpaid care work is not work; the delusion that we live in a post-racist world; the myth that we are all in the same boat," the UN chief said.

He outlined the main drivers of inequality including systemic racism, the legacy of colonialism, patriarchy, gaps in access to technology, and inequalities in global governance.

"The nations that came out on top 70 years ago have refused to contemplate the reforms needed to change power relations in international institutions," Guterres said in his blunt speech, pointing to the voting rights in the United Nations Security Council (UNSC), where the United Kingdom, China, France, Russia and the United States have veto powers.

Guterres said the response to the pandemic "must be based on a new social contract and a new global deal that create equal opportunities for all and respect the rights and freedoms of all".

The new model would ensure inclusive and equal participation in global institutions, fair globalisation, a stronger voice for the developing world in global decision-making, and a more inclusive and balanced multilateral trading system, he said.

He said developed countries are strongly invested in their own survival and have "failed to deliver the support needed to help the developing world through these dangerous times".

The novel coronavirus has infected more than 14 million people and there have been nearly 600,000 known deaths worldwide. The UN has appealed for $10.3bn to help poor states, but has received only $1.7bn.

Guterres's address marked what would have been the birthday of former South African President and Nobel Peace Prize winner Mandela.

South Africa, the world's most unequal country a quarter-century after the end of the racist system of apartheid, is quickly becoming one of the world's hardest-hit nations in the pandemic and now makes up roughly half of Africa's confirmed coronavirus cases. Already, its public hospitals are nearly overwhelmed.

The speech by the UN chief took aim at the vast inequality of wealth - the 26 richest people in the world hold as much wealth as half the global population, Guterres said.

Secretary-General Antonio Guterres speaks alongside WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus in February [Salvatore Di Nolfi via Reuters]

Developing countries, and especially African nations, are underrepresented at the levels of power including at financial institutions such as the World Bank and political ones like the UNSC.

"The nations that came out on top more than seven decades ago have refused to contemplate the reforms needed to change power relations in international institutions," Guterres said. "The composition and voting rights in the United Nations Security Council and the boards of the Bretton Woods system are a case in point.

A new generation of social protection is needed, including universal health coverage and perhaps a universal basic income, he said, adding "individuals and corporations must pay their fair share".

Education spending in low and middle-income countries should more than double by 2030 to $3 trillion a year, he said. In the face of enormous shifts from climate change, governments should tax carbon instead of people.

Answering questions after his speech, Guterres called for "massive support" for the developing world including debt write-offs. He said the suspension of debt payments until the end of this year, which was agreed upon by the G20, the world's 20 major economic powers, "is clearly not enough".

And he noted, without naming names, that "leadership and power are not always aligned".

"Let's face facts," Guterres said in his address. "The global political and economic system is not delivering on critical global public goods: public health, climate action, sustainable development, peace."

Guterres concluded: "Now is the time for global leaders to decide: Will we succumb to chaos, division and inequality? Or will we right the wrongs of the past and move forward together for the good of all?"


Southeast Asia

Wan Junaidi suggests mosques, surau set up own cooperatives


KUCHING, July 18  -- Minister of Entrepreneur Development and Cooperatives Datuk Seri Dr Wan JunaidiTuanku Jaafar has suggested that mosques and surau nationwide set up their own cooperatives to generate income through cooperative business activities.

"Next, we will submit a proposal to get feedback and comments from the Cabinet because it involves all parties and ministries," he told reporters after attending the Cooperative Capacity Building and Encouragement programme in Kampung Boyan here today.

He said if the initiative was implemented, mosques and surau would no longer need to depend solely on government assistance, besides being able to provide benefits to their congregation.

"These small cooperatives can unite to become a medium-sized cooperative before going on to become a big enough cooperative with a large number of members, providing benefits and returns to the congregation as well as surrounding residents," he said. 

According to Wan Junaidi, a meeting with Minister at the Prime Minister Department (Religious Affairs) Datuk Seri Dr Zulkifli Mohamad Al-Bakri would be held in the near future to discuss the proposal so that the mosques and surau could be united in a cooperative.

He said the development of such a cooperative was important as it could drive the economy, especially in helping small and medium-sized enterprises in local communities access to quick and easy funds without having to go through the bureaucracy.

"Through cooperatives, they can set up their own ar-rahnu (pawnbroking), wholesale market and such, and this will not only provide funds to the mosques and surau managing the cooperatives but also generate income for the congregations involved," he said.


'Buy Malaysian Products' Campaign to boost economic recovery - PPIPBM


KUALA LUMPUR, July 19 -- The 'Buy Malaysian Products' Campaign (KBBM) launched yesterday will speed-up the country’s economic recovery with the support of all Malaysians.

Bumiputera Manufacturers and Services Industry Association of Malaysia (PPIPBM) president Datuk Azman Yusoff said in a statement today the campaign was also part of the government’s efforts to establish a Bumiputera Prosperity Council to encourage Bumiputera manufacturers to increase productivity.

“For this, Bumiputera manufacturers and entrepreneurs must come up with high quality products with attractive packaging to entice consumers and be on par with imported goods,” he said in the statement.

Yesterday, Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin launched the national-level Mega Sales Programme and ‘Buy Malaysian Products’ Campaign at Suria KLCC as part of the effort to revive and maintain Malaysia’s economic competitiveness post COVID-19.

Hosted by the Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Ministry, the campaign is a nationwide consumer awareness initiative, to be held until the end of the year.


PM never said govt would recognise UEC, says PMO


KUALA LUMPUR, July 19 -- Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin had never said that the government would recognise the Unified Examination Certificate (UEC) at his recent meeting with leaders of the Federation of Chinese Associations Malaysia (Hua Zhong), the Prime Minister's Office (PMO) said today.

"With regard to the issue of recognition for UEC raised at the meeting between the Hua Zhong leadership and the prime minister on July 16, 2020, we wish to clarify that the prime minister did not say the government would recognise UEC," PMO said in a statement.

According to the statement, the prime minister instead said UEC had gained partial recognition when the government previously accepted UEC holders for a teaching degree programme (PISMP) specialising in the Chinese language at Institut Pendidikan Guru Malaysia (IPGM).

It said the government had in 2012 accepted UEC holders for the PISMP programme in Chinese language on condition that they passed the Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia (SPM) and obtained at least a credit in Bahasa Melayu.

"The prime minister also stressed that UEC should follow the National Education Policy if it is seeking a resolution of the matter by the government in the future,” the statement added.

News reports said Hua Zhong claimed that Muhyiddin had expressed his hope that one day the government would recognise UEC.

It claimed that Muhyiddin said this at their meeting at the Parliament building a few days ago.


Arab world

OIC Secretary General Chairs Session on Distinguished Efforts of Islamic Countries in Facing Covid-19


Jeddah, July 18, 2020, SPA -- Secretary-General of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) Dr. Youssef bin Ahmed Al-Othaimeen chaired here a session entitled "Distinguished Efforts of Islamic Countries in Dealing with Coronavirus Pandemic", organized by the Muslim World League and the Emirates Council for Fatwa through video conferencing technology on July 18 and 19, 2020.

At the opening of the session, the Secretary General praised the efforts paid by the OIC Member States, noting the continuous coordination between the OIC General Secretariat and the Islamic countries regarding the response to the Coronavirus (Covid-19) at various political, health, economic, humanitarian, educational and cultural levels.

Dr. Al-Othaimeen noted the wise decision taken by the Government of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, regarding the Hajj of this year, as the Kingdom took into account the health and safety of Muslims.


Muslims urged to sight DhulHijjah moon on Monday

July 18, 2020

RIYADH — The Supreme Court has called on all Muslims in the Kingdom to spot the new moon on the evening of Monday, the 29th day of the month of DhulQadah (July 20). The sighting of the moon will determine the exact beginning of this year's Hajj rituals

"The Supreme Court hopes anyone seeing the moon by the naked eye or the telescope to notify the nearest court and register a testimony or contact the nearest center to help him reach the nearest court," it added, Saudi Press Agency (SPA) reported on Saturday.

"The court hopes that whoever has the sighting ability to take interest in the matter and join the committees formed for this purpose in different regions."

According to astronomical calculations, the month of DhulHijjah will begin this year on July 22 and the climax of Hajj at the Mount Arafat near Makkah will take place on July 30.

The Hajj is one of Islam's five pillars. Saudi Arabia is bracing for holding a limited pilgrimage this year due to fears of the new coronavirus.

The Kingdom has announced that 70 percent of this year’s pilgrims will be expatriate residents while the remaining 30 percent will be Saudis. The maximum number of participating pilgrims has been set at 10,000 to ensure a safe Hajj for all.


South Asia

Hakeem warns changing Sri Lanka's PR system will have adverse effects on Muslims

18 July 2020

Rauff Hakeem, the Samagi Jana Balawegaya (SBW) candidate for the Kandy district and leader of the Sri Lanka Muslim Congress (SLMC) described the proportional representation system as advantageous to Muslims on the island at an election meeting in Gampola.

Numerically smaller political parties which represent the different ethnic groups on the island have called for maintaining the current electoral system rather than making the return to the first-past-the-post-system previously employed in Sri Lanka. Hakeem argues this is because certain parties are trying to change the system in an effort to bend the electoral system and legislations to a party’s whims.

This change could have worrying implications for Muslims and others who are already deferred to the sidelines by a Sinhala Buddhist nationalist government.

Hakeem’s comments come after current Sri Lankan president Mahinda Rajapaksa attacked “communal political parties” last year, having previously attempted to introduce amendments that would raise the threshold of votes political parties would need to secure from 5 to 12 per cent. The move would effectively silence the numerically smaller parties that represent the island’s different nations.

The Sri Lankan government has a long-standing history of Islamophobia, and has more recently persecuted Muslims through arbitrary arrests and detainments under counterterrorism and emergency laws in the aftermath of the Easter Sunday attacks last year.

Taking after India, sections of the Sri Lankan media are also using COVID-19 to stigmatise Muslims, using them as scapegoats for the spread of the pandemic, warned Hakeem. Claims have been made which insist on re-investigations and re-inquiries of Muslims, leading to criticism that the Special Presidential Commission failed to conduct proper procedure.

Despite these challenges imposed by the state, Hakeem has allied his party with Sajith Premadasa’s SJB. He claimed that with a proportional representation system, the SLMC can purchase bargaining power.

“The SLMC this time around is contesting under three different symbols and at different electoral districts. In many of the electorates, it contested as an ally of the SJB under the ‘telephone’ symbol, in Puttalam under the ‘Scale’ symbol and in Batticaloa under its own party symbol ‘Tree’”, Hakeem said.

Though Hakeen has allied his party with the SJB, Premadasa too has pledged to work with current president Gotabaya Rajapaksa to bring about a “disciplined society” if Rajapaksa wins the upcoming parliamentary elections.

In the past, Hakeem and the SLMC have allied themselves with both the UNP and SLFP, having held the post of Minister of Posts and Telecommunication in 2007 under Mahinda Rajapaksa.


Tamils and Muslims have implicit faith in SLPP - GaminiLokuge

19 July, 2020

Sri Lanka PodujanaPeramuna (SLPP) Colombo District Candidate and former State Minister of Urban Development GaminiLokuge said the Tamils and Muslims have realised that the SLPP is not a party that offers false promises to get political mileage. In an interview with the Sunday Observer, the former State Minister said that the SLPP is committed to promoting the wellbeing of all communities. Tamil and Muslim voters would decide whether they would vote for those who give false promises or elect an SLPP led Government to fulfill their expectations. He said many people who didn’t vote for the President at the last Presidential Election have appreciated the program launched by him to rebuild the country and are willing to give a two-thirds majority to the Government at the General Election to make the President’s endeavour a success. 

Q. What are your views on the 19th Amendment to the Constitution? Do you want its salient features to remain or to scrap it altogether?

A. The 19th Amendment should be abolished. The need of the hour is to formulate a new Constitution suitable to the country. The 19th Amendment introduced by the former Yahapalana Government has led to controversies. Various sections have raised serious concern about the independent commissions set up under the 19th Amendment. The time has come to scrap the 19th Amendment and formulate a new Constitution to suit current needs. 

Q. What made the UNP die a slow death? Could you attribute all ills of the party to leader Ranil Wickremesinghe or are there others to share it?

A. All those who have contributed to ruin the UNP should be held responsible for its present plight. They should have made reforms to take the party forward. If they have failed to fulfil that task, they all should be held responsible for destruction of the party. 

Q. Would you like to comment on Samagi Jana Balawegaya (SJB) leader Sajith Premadasa’s pledge to give Rs.20,000 to the people and cancel the March and April electricity bills?

A. The Yahapalana Government which was in power eight months ago could have done that. Will the people accept these utterances by Sajith Premadasa targeting the election? If they were concerned about the people, they should have implemented such proposals during their tenure in office as that was a Government which had a two-thirds majority in Parliament. The people are well aware that these are false pledges to hoodwink them to get their votes. 

Q. Much emphasis is laid on the need to have a competent team to run the country. Would you like to elaborate on this?

A. Those who are not genuine and don’t have a capacity to emerge as politicians make such statements to get the people’s votes. The people know that it was Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa and other political leaders around him who gave the strength and the leadership to make Gotabaya Rajapaksa the President.

The Prime Minister and those leaders carried out a vigorous campaign throughout the country to educate the public and seek their mandate to elect Gotabaya Rajapaksa as the President. These newcomers think it would be easy for them to get elected to Parliament. It is not an easy task. As we all as a team could form a new political party, SLPP and made its candidate the President, it won’t be an issue for the same team to govern the country with President Rajapaksa. 

Q. Have the Viyathmaga contestants posed a threat to veteran politicians in the SLPP?

A. There is no such a threat. The people are aware that except minor offences, such as stealing some coconuts, ordinary people never resort to bigger frauds or corruptions. If we take the Central Bank bond scam and other financial frauds and malpractices in the world, all those were committed by well-educated and intelligent people. The people have a good understanding about this. Professionals and intellectuals rallied round the SLPP as we formed a broad political entity by securing a resounding victory at the last Local Government election. We welcomed them to the SLPP as we also need professionals and intellectuals of such calibre. 

Q. Is new legislation needed to prevent political crossovers?

A. In a matter of national importance, if the leaders of a party are heading in the wrong direction, a Parliamentarian should have freedom to represent the correct point of view to rescue the country from that disaster. I don’t say political crossovers are a healthy feature for democracy. However, in a matter of national importance, it is the duty of Parliamentarians to safeguard the country. On such an occasion, a politician should have the right to take a correct decision on behalf of the country. 

Q. What made the JVP lose its grip on the votes?

A. This is because our voters are intelligent. After the JVP entered Parliament, they did the opposite of what they said on the political stage. They became a cat’s-paw of capitalist parties. The JVP was at the forefront of defeating the then President Mahinda Rajapaksa in 2015. When the military operations were launched against LTTE terrorists, it was the JVP that crossed over to the Opposition to weaken the then Government by catering to the agendas of international forces. The JVP voted to postpone the Provincial Council elections. The JVP will not secure a single parliamentary seat and at leat 3.5 percent votes at the election. 

At the last General Election, the JVP said they had nominated professionals from their National List. When the JVP MPs who contested the election were defeated, they got rid of professionals and allowed defeated JVP candidates to enter Parliament. 

Q. Will not the confrontation between some SLPP and SLFP politicians be detrimental to securing a two-thirds majority at the election?

A. There is no issue among our leaders. There would be intense competition even between a father and a son at an election under the preferential voting system.

For example, at a General Election, a father and a daughter contested under the same party banner in a district and the daughter secured victory defeating her father. This is the nature of the preferential voting system. 

Q. Voters say it is the responsibility of political parties to nominate decent candidates while politicians assert that the voters should be wise to vote for suitable candidates. Where to draw the line?

A. That is true. If we are nominated to contest from a political party, it is up to the voters to elect suitable candidates to Parliament. If the MPs have not fulfilled their duties, the people can reject them at the next election. This has always happened in our political history. The people elect a capable group of Parliamentarians to the Legislature while those who are first elected to Parliament will have to go home after the next election if they have failed to fulfil their duties. It is the right of the people to elect suitable candidates to Parliament. The people elect us to Parliament based on our conduct and the program we implemented to resolve their issues. 

Q. What is your assessment of Tamil and Muslim votes?

A. The Tamils and Muslims have realised that the SLPP is not a party which offers false promises to get political mileage. We are a political party which is committed to the wellbeing of all communities. They would decide whether they would vote for those who give false promises or elect an SLPP led Government which has a potential to fulfil their rights. That would be witnessed at the General Election. 

Q. The Opposition alleges that the restrictions imposed on the Covid-19 pandemic were lifted by the Government targeting the election. Would you comment on this?

A. Though the Opposition acts in such an absurd manner and makes such irresponsible statements, the people are not ignorant. They have a good understanding of the prevailing situation.

The people compare us with other countries on the Covid-19 pandemic control. Another Covid-19 cluster has emerged. The Government has taken steps to prevent the spread of the virus. The Opposition wants to postpone the election by creating even a second wave of Covid-19. The people are aware of their ulterior motives. 

Q. Earlier the Election Commission Chairman Mahinda Deshapriya said it would be difficult to conduct the election if health guidelines are not gazetted. Your comment?

A. The Government since inception successfully managed the Covid-19 situation in the country. Despite laws, the Covid-19 outbreak was controlled due to effective and timely moves by the Government. In the future too, the Government would take measures in keeping with the situation. There is no need for new laws to control the Covid-19 pandemic because of the election. It has been controlled in accordance with existing laws. 

Q. Serious concern has been raised about independent commissions set up under the 19th Amendment to the Constitution. Would you explain?

A. It is obvious when looking at the conduct of some members appointed to these Commissions. Otherwise, the people don’t want to complain about it. One member of the Election Commission even went to the court against the dissolution of Parliament. However, there is a forum for him to discuss that matter within the Election Commission without going to court. He is not a suitable person to hold that position. 

Q. Will the Government secure a two-thirds majority and form a stable Government?

A. The voters at the election will fulfil that task on behalf of the Government. Many people who didn’t vote for Gotabaya Rajapaksa at the last Presidential Election have commended the program launched by him to rebuild the country. They are willing to give a two-thirds majority to the Government at the election to make the President’s endeavour a success.


18 Taliban militants killed, wounded in Faryab clahes: Shaheen Corps

19 Jul 2020

The Afghan security forces killed or wounded at least 28 Taliban militants during the clashes in northern Faryab province, the Afghan military said.

The 209th Shaheen Corps in a statement said the Taliban militants launched attacks in Kohistan and SherinTagab districts, targeting the security posts in the central parts of the two provinces.

The statement further added that the security forces effectively responded to the attacks, killing at least 12 Taliban militants.

The security forces also wounded at least 6 Taliban militants during the clashes, the 209th Shaheen Corps added.

The Taliban group has not commented regarding the clashes so far.


SC asks civil courts to hear urgent matters, receive filings of succession suits

July 19, 2020

The Supreme Court (SC) has asked all civil courts across the country to hear urgent civil matters and receive filings of succession suits.

Chief Justice Syed Mahmud Hossain took the decision after discussing the matter with senior judges of the SC, according to a circular issued by the Supreme Court administration yesterday.

SC Registrar Md Ali Akbar signed the circular, saying that the conducting judges of the courts will hear the urgent matters and receive the succession suits, keeping physical distance and strictly following the health guidelines.

Only inheritors of the deceased can file such succession suits with the specific civil courts seeking permission for withdrawal of money from banks and other financial organisations the deceased deposited.

The judges of the courts concerned will fix necessary action plans for maintaining physical distancing in the courtrooms during hearing of the urgent civil matters and the filings of the succession suits respectively in order to contain the coronavirus pandemic, according to the notification.

The judges will receive urgent matters and filings of succession suits in such way so that mass gatherings cannot be taken place at the concerned courts during the proceedings.

On completion of one suit, the conducting court can hear and receive filing of another suit. Moreover, the conducting judges will fix a specific time to hear and dispose of the succession suits, maintaining a physical distance and strictly following health guidelines.

The circular also said a maximum of six people -- including lawyers and plaintiffs -- can stay at a courtroom during hearing of a suit while wearing face masks.

On July 12, the SC asked all the Women and Children Repression Prevention Tribunals, Chief Judicial Magistrates and Chief Metropolitan Magistrates across the country to receive filings of complaint cases.

The same day, the SC issued another circular which empowered the lower courts across the country to receive surrender petitions seeking bails of people accused of criminal cases filed against them.

Earlier, the lower courts could hear and dispose of only bail petitions filed by the detained accused through videoconferencing.

The regular activities of courts remained closed since March 26 due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.


Plasma Therapy for Covid-19: Experts bemoan ‘complete anarchy’

July 19, 2020

Mohammad Al-Masum Molla

Although plasma therapy holds hope for the treatment of critical Covid-19 patients, indiscriminate use of it in the absence of a guideline is posing serious health risks in the country, experts said.

The government only last month gave permission to three public hospitals -- Dhaka Medical College Hospital (DMCH), Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University (BSMMU) and Rajarbagh Police Hospital -- to conduct randomised clinical trials of plasma therapy for Covid-19 patients.

But many hospitals in the country have already been providing plasma therapy to Covid-19 patients without such a guideline in place.

Prof MA Khan, a haematologist at DMCH, termed the current situation "hopeless", saying, "There is a complete anarchy over plasma therapy in Bangladesh."

Plasma therapy for Covid-19 involves taking antibodies from the blood of a person who has fully recovered from the novel coronavirus and transfusing these antibodies into a critically ill Covid-19 patient, to help improve their immune system.

He told The Daily Star that he sent a proposal to the national technical advisory committee over formulating a policy on plasma therapy on June 20, but was yet to receive a reply.

"Doctors are still confused as to when to give plasma therapy. The government should take the initiative to formulate a guideline. We are tired of repeating ourselves on this issue."

Providing convalescent plasma therapy to a Covid-19 patient without a guideline is risky and may endanger the life of the patient, healthcare experts said.

They said a guideline, among many things, can regulate the person's eligibility to donate plasma and whether the donor has developed the necessary antibody levels in their blood. This requires several standard testing protocols. Plasma therapy is now at the clinical trial stage, not for treating coronavirus patients, they added.

For example, on an average, 14 percent of people in the country have other viral infections in their blood, they said. Without maintaining proper procedures, indiscriminate plasma therapy can be disastrous for patients. Negative HIV and hepatitis B and C tests are required otherwise the donor is disqualified.

Most important, however, is the level of antibodies -- if not sufficient, preferably at 80 percent, then the whole exercise will be futile, experts said.

The donor has to have passed 14 days since fully recovering from Covid-19 and show a negative RT-PCR test; an ELISA test, a method through which plasma-neutralising antibody testing is done, is also required to check whether sufficient antibodies have developed in the donor's blood.

Plasma neutralising antibody test kits are still not widely available in the country -- with the government giving permission for this test to be conducted in the country on June 21.

Dr Sheikh Saiful Islam Shaheen, assistant professor of the Department of Transfusion Medicine at BSMMU, said the permission at the moment is only for clinical trials, not for treating patients.

"After the clinical trial, the decision will be taken on using plasma therapy. Besides, we don't have any capacity right now to do antibody tests for plasma therapy," he said.

Dr Shaheen, who is leading one such clinical trial at BSMMU, said, "Antibody measurement of the donor is a must. If sufficient antibodies are not formed, it may harm the patient. In some cases, it may create mild to severe allergic reactions, which may endanger the life of the patient."

Prof Dr Mohammad Shahidullah, head of the national technical advisory committee on coronavirus, said, "We have started randomised clinical trials and after getting trial results, we will decide whether we will form the guideline. Now, people are giving plasma therapy without knowing many things which is risky."

During a pandemic, transfusion of convalescent plasma is used as empirical treatment for severely ill and critically ill patients."

Hospitals in the country are giving plasma therapy as part of ethically practicing in a desperate situation, when patients are critically ill, he added.

In neighbouring India, there is a specific guideline for plasma therapy -- laboratory tests including CBC [complete blood count], hepatitis B virus, hepatitis C virus, HIV, malaria, and syphilis are conducted before giving plasma therapy.

Only people aged between 18 and 60 and weighing not less than 50kg are eligible for plasma donation in India. Those with comorbidities such as diabetes, hypertension, and cancer are excluded.

But the FDA issued guidance for health care providers that recommends using convalescent plasma therapy for clinical trials and for patients with serious or immediately life-threatening diseases who aren't eligible to participate in trials.



Mali’s Protesters Turn to Populist Imam of Salam Mosque to End Cycle of Corruption

18 Jul 2020

Jason Burke

A fragile calm has returned to Bamako. The debris has been cleared from the streets and the barricades around the Salam mosque in the neighbourhood of Badalabougou are gone. For the moment, a bloody confrontation between security forces and demonstrators in the capital of Mali appears to have been averted.

But the pause is likely to be temporary. Leaders of the landlocked west African nation’s protest movement have promised to go “right to the bitter end” to force through dramatic political change, after six weeks of rising unrest. “We will wage this battle until we bring in a new democratic era in Mali. We have lost too many killed to retreat now,” Mohamed Salia Touré, a prominent protest leader and young politician, told the Observer.

A major prayer meeting and protest has been called off, putting a brake on the campaign against president Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta. At least 11 people have been killed and more than 150 wounded, many by security forces who fired on demonstrators during three days of street clashes earlier this month.

The violence has prompted condemnation from the African Union, the UN and the EU, as well as the dispatch of a regional mediation team. But there is little sign of any resolution to the crisis in Mali, which is seen as the strategic key to the Sahel. This swath of desert and scrub interspersed with fertile irrigated land stretches from Senegal on Africa’s Atlantic coast to Sudan on the Red Sea. The zone is threatened by climate change, famine, weak governments and extremism. The Covid-19 pandemic has aggravated all these problems, and added more.

“The regional situation is extremely tense,” said Alioune Tine, an activist and UN human rights expert. “We’re caught in a hellish circle of violence, contestation, and insurrection. Those who have power don’t want to give it up, and corruption has stripped politics and states of any legitimacy.”

Imam Mahmoud Dicko at launch of his movement, the Coordination of movements, associations and sympathisers last September. Photograph: Michele Cattani/AFP/Getty Images

The failure of states to protect or serve their populations, say analysts, has led to the emergence of many different types of protest movement including rebellions by armed groups, jihadists and popular movements.Mali was plunged into instability in 2012, when a military mutiny removed the elected president, and an alliance of ethnic and Islamist militants seized much of the north of the country, including the city of Timbuktu.

French troops forced the extremists to retreat from Timbuktu but neither they, nor local Malian forces, have been able to decisively defeat the insurgency since – though they did kill a senior al-Qaida leader. Thousands have died, and many more been displaced in the continuing conflict.

Keïta, a 75-year-old veteran of Mali’s politics, came to power in 2013 and won a second term as president in 2018. But there has been rising anger at government incompetence, endemic corruption and a deteriorating economy. Protesters took to the streets when the constitutional court overturned the provisional results of parliamentary polls held in March and April after Keita’s party had performed poorly.

The leader of the protest movement is Mahmoud Dicko, a rotund 66-year-old imam who studied Islam in Saudi Arabia and rose to prominence as chairman of Mali’s High Islamic Council. He successfully opposed the introduction of sex education in Malian schools which he said would encourage homosexuality and led a campaign which forced the government to weaken legislation promoting gender equality.



18 Jul 2020

NNA - The Armenian Deputies Bloc indicated, in an issued statement on Saturday, that its members visited today the Grand Mufti of Tripoli and the North, Sheikh Mohammad Imam, in his office at the Dar El Fatwa in Tripoli, to "congratulate him on his new position, and to deliberate on joint national, social and northern affairs and ways of cooperation in the interest of the homeland and citizens."

The Bloc members emphasized "the national role of the Dar El Fatwa in establishing a sense of reassurance and tranquility among all components of the North region in general, and Tripoli in particular, in light of the difficult circumstances the country is passing through," stressing on social solidarity and collaboration in overcoming the challenges.

The statement indicated that "the Bloc members were accompanied during their visit by Youth and Sports Minister VartyOhanyan, and headed by the Secretary-General of the Tashnag Party HagopPakradounian, with the participation of MPs HagopTerzian and Alexander Matossian, the Party's North branch official AvanshiHarmandayan and a number of Tashnag officials, in the presence of the Tripoli Endowments Department Head, Sheikh Abdel-Razzaq Islambouli."


Kenyan mosques open under strict guidelines for Friday prayers for the first time since March

July 19, 2020

INTERNATIONAL - For the first time since March, Kenyans were allowed to attend Friday midday prayers his week as imams wore face masks while leading prayers.

Arab Boys Mosque in Kenya's oldest city Mombasa, on the coast about 490km east of the capital Nairobi, opened its doors to the faithful while following strict guidelines to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus (Covid-19), the BBC reported.

Worshippers brought their own prayer mats and wore face masks, only 100 people were allowed inside the mosque, physical distancing guidelines were observed, everyone's temperature was checked upon entry, and only people between the ages of 13 and 58 were admitted. The mosque's imam also wore a mask while leading fellow Muslims in prayer.

Muslim leaders are split on whether to re-open mosques and many are actively telling worshippers to rather practice their faith at home to reduce the spread of the virus.

Earlier this week, on Wednesday, Muslims were allowed to attend a prayer service for the first time, but most mosques remained closed, the Daily Nation newspaper reported.

Places of worship in Kenya were closed in March to curb community transmissions of Covid-19, and were initially allowed to resume services from July 7, radio station Capital News reported.

Interfaith Council chairman Archbishop Anthony Muheria made the announcement after President Uhuru Kenyatta made a statement on the country’s phased approach to lifting Covid-19 lockdown regulations on July 6.

The Arabic term imam translates to "to stand in front of," as they lead prayers and proceedings in mosques. Imams are also well-respected members of the community who provide support and spiritual insight, according to Learn Religions website.

According to The Conversation network of not-for-profit media outlets, Fridays are of particular importance in the Islamic faith because of the "Al-Jumah" chapter in the Qur’an. Al-Jumah means the day of congregation and is also the Arabic word for Friday.

World Health Organisation (WHO) figures show that as of July 18, Kenya has a total of 11,673 confirmed cases of Covid-19 with 217 related deaths.


Muslim leader finally apologises for failed 1990 coup

July 18, 2020

PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad (CMC) —Two weeks before Trinidad and Tobago observe the 30th anniversary of the failed coup against the then Government of Prime Minister ANR Robinson, the man who led the insurrection, has finally apologised to the population.

But Yasin Abu Bakr, 79, the leader of the Jamaat al Muslimeen, says he also wants to “heal the nation and foster national consensus.

Bakr's change of heart is contained in an affidavit filed in support of his challenge of a decision to pursue a criminal complaint against him after he refused to answer a summons to testify before a Commission of Inquiry into the 1990 attempted coup.

The storming of Parliament and the State-owned television station, resulted in a state of emergency being imposed on July 28. By the time the rebellion ended, much of Port of Spain had been reduced to a smouldering heap of rubble and destruction.

He said that it was as a result of the extra-legal, arbitrary and/or summary executions by the Trinidad and Tobago Police Service (TTPS), a corrupt government and ripe conditions of social unrest.

“As a country, we must guard against all three categories individually and collectively. Also, please consider that I am very much concerned that there may be killer gangs in existence in the TT Police Service masquerading as TTPS officers. That also may have been a reason for my non-attendance at the commission. A witness in fear of the TTPS,” Bakr said in his lawsuit in which he named Director of Public Prosecutions Roger Gaspard as the defendant.

On March 14, 2014, the then Kamla Persad Bissessar Government, which had set up the Commission of Inquiry, received a copy of the report that probed the events that led to the 1990 attempt. The commission's report had earlier been presented to then President Anthony Carmona and the Government had promised that it would be laid in Parliament.

Bakr said Trinidad and Tobago spent millions of dollars enquiring into the events of 1990, and he believes it is now necessary for him to provide answers.

“By way of this affidavit, I shall answer. I believe that it is necessary at this stage,” he said, adding “I hope you understand my rationale behind the 1990 events.”

He said that there was “a series of events culminating in the coup d'état on July 27, 1990”, and in the affidavit, describes Gaspard as a “good man” who should not remain silent.

The private summons, filed by the secretary to the commission, is now before the magistrates' court and an in-person case management hearing is set for July 20 to set a date for the hearing of the matter.

Last week, Bakr's attorneys filed a judicial review application, which will be heard by Justice Nadia Kangaloo at a virtual hearing.

Bakr is seeking a declaration that the continuation of the prosecution of him is irrational and tantamount to an abuse of process. He wants an order to stay the matter in the magistrates' court.


Islamic University in Uganda cuts staff salaries by 90%

July 18, 2020

The Islamic University in Uganda (IUIU) has announced salary cuts of up to 90 per cent for its staff members following a review of the terms of employment amidst the COVID-19 lockdown.

The university secretary Hussein Lukyamuzi says that the institution is unable to pay salaries to staff members as a result of the COVID-19 lockdown which has affected the operations of all educational institutions.

Lukyamuzi states in a letter dated July 16, that the university council, the top governing body of the university convened an extraordinary meeting on June 24 and on July 8, in which it reviewed the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and lockdown on the university's finances and operations.    

The meetings concluded that while the university was able to pay salaries to the staff at all IUIU campuses up to May 2020, it is unable to continue paying full salaries to staff as from June 2020.

The meeting concluded that only a small percentage of staff should be retained to run basic and critical services of the university at each of the campuses. These will be paid only 50 per cent of the usual salaries. The rest of the staff will be paid 30 per cent for June 2020, 20 per cent for July, August, and September 2020 and 10 per cent for October, November and December 2020. 

“The university does and shall not be able to pay staff any portion of the salary that may not be paid as from June 2020. Consequently, any portion of the salary that the university shall not pay between June and December 2020 shall be forfeited by the staff," according to the letter addressed to all members of staff.

But the same staff have been tasked to keep in touch with their students online, recruiting new students for the university and carrying out community support activities as far as possible.  

Haji Ali Dago, the head of Language, Literature and Linguistics commended the university for not disowning its staff like it had done before when it decided to suspend all its staff members. He, however, said that the university ought to pay staff members their arrears when the lockdown is lifted and school resumes.       

He said unless the university exempts students from paying the fees for the semester for which they did not study and leaves them to complete the academic year, there is no way it can fail to pay arrears.


Fayemi postpones reopening of churches, mosques to August 14

By Ayodele Afolabi

18 July 2020 

The Ekiti State government has backtracked from its earlier decision to reopen worship centres yesterday, shifting the date to August 14.In a statement by the Commissioner for Health, Dr.Mojisola Yaya-Kolade, the government said the action was taken in view of the unpreparedness of the leaders of churches and mosques to comply with conditions stipulated for reopening of the religious centres.

“The latest communiqué of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) is indicative of the fact that worship centres are not yet ready to comply with conditions stipulated by the government for reopening of worship centres.

“In view of the foregoing, the state government has shifted the date for the reopening of worship centres to August 14, 2020, to give the worship centres enough time to meet the prescribed conditions,” he said.

The Commissioner said in as much as fumigation of religious centres remains a prerequisite for reopening, such should not be done in contravention of the Ekiti State Environmental Health and Sanitation Law.

She stated that those within the ages of one to 12 and 65 and above were exempted from attending any congregational programme in any religious centre because of their vulnerability.


Ekiti postpones church, mosque reopening until Aug 14

July 18, 2020

Ekiti State Government has shifted the reopening of places of worship in the state to August 14 following alleged inability of the worship centres to meet the prescribed conditions for reopening.

Health Commissioner, Dr Mojisola Yaya-Kolade, who reiterated commitment of the state government to safety of lives and property, said, “the government will leave no stone unturned in the enforcement of the regulations on the reopening of worship places in the state.”

The mosques and churches, shut down since March, were billed to reopen for worship once a week on Fridays for Muslims, effective from July 17 and once a week on Sundays, effective from July 19 for Christians.

But the Muslims, under the aegis of Nigerian Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs, Ekiti State chapter, suspended the reopening of all major mosques across the state since all the safety protocols could not be met within the timeframe stipulated by the government.

Yaya-Kolade said in a statement on Friday that a communiqué from the Christian Association of Nigeria, Ekiti State chapter “is indicative of the fact that the worship centres have yet to be ready to comply with the conditions set out by government for the reopening of the worship centres.”

Consequently, she said the August 14 date was “to give the worship centres enough time to meet the prescribed conditions for reopening.”

The state government had said only the worship centres that met the stipulated COVID-19 guidelines issued with the certificate of fitness would be allowed to reopen.

Yaya-Kolade reiterated that the guidelines included that children between one and 12 years as well those above 65 years should stay away from the worship centres; maximum of two hours for the congregational service once a week and possession of infrared thermometres for the testing of congregants.

Others included social distancing of two metres in the sitting arrangements of congregants and fumigation of the worship centres with certificate of fumigation from the Ministry of Environment at no cost, provision of running water in front of buildings to ensure regular hand washing, use of alcohol-based hand sanitizers, and wearing of face masks.


Libya: GNA fighters head for front as battle for Sirte looms

July 19, 2020

Libya's internationally-recognised Government of National Accord (GNA) on Saturday moved fighters closer to Sirte, a gateway to Libya's main oil terminals that the GNA says it plans to recapture from the eastern-based self-styled Libyan National Army (LNA).

Witnesses and GNA military commanders said a column of about 200 vehicles moved eastwards from Misrata along the Mediterranean coast towards the town of Tawergha, about a third of the way to Sirte.

The GNA recently recaptured most of the territory held by the LNA in northwest Libya, ending eastern-based renegade military commander Khalifa Haftar's 14-month campaign to take the capital, Tripoli, before the new front line solidified between Misrata and Sirte.

But Egypt, which backs the LNA alongside the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Russia, has threatened to send troops into Libya if the GNA and Turkish forces try to seize Sirte.

The United States has said Moscow has sent warplanes to Jufra via Syria to act in support of Russian mercenaries who are fighting alongside the LNA. Moscow and the LNA both deny this.

The LNA has itself sent fighters and weapons to bolster its defence of Sirte, already badly battered from earlier phases of warfare and chaos since the 2011 NATO-backed uprising which led to the overthrow of longtime ruler Muammar Gaddafi.

Meanwhile, leaders of France, Italy and Germany said in a joint statement on Saturday they were "ready to consider" sanctions on foreign powers violating an arms embargo in Libya.

The statement did not directly name any foreign actors funnelling arms to Libya but multiple powers have been sending fighters and weapons, fuelling a bloody proxy war that reflects wider geopolitical rifts and divisions in the Middle East and within NATO.

"We ... urge all foreign actors to end their increasing interference and to fully respect the arms embargo established by the United Nations Security Council," the statement said.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel, France's President Emmanuel Macron and Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte said they, therefore, "look forward to the proposals the EU High Representative/Vice President will make to this end."

Voicing "grave concerns" over the escalating military tensions in Libya, they urged "all Libyan parties and their foreign supporters for an immediate cessation of fighting and for a stop of the ongoing military build-up throughout the country".

Also on Saturday, Libya's National Oil Corporation (NOC) called for the immediate withdrawal of foreign mercenaries from oil facilities in the country.

In a statement, the NOC condemned the deployment of Russia's Wagner Group and Syrian and Janjaweed mercenaries in Libyan oil installations, most recently at Es Sidra port.

The NOC demands their immediate withdrawal from all facilities, it said, calling the UN to send observers to supervise the demilitarisation in the areas of NOC operations across the country.

Libya, with the largest oil reserves in Africa, can produce 1.2 million barrels of crude oil per day. However, production has fallen below 100,000 barrels a day due to interruptions by pro-Haftar fighters over the past six months.


Mali opposition rebuffs mediation offer, demands president resign

July 19, 2020

Mali's opposition alliance has rejected a plan proposed by international mediators to defuse tensions, sticking to its demand that President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita must resign.

The rejection was the latest setback in efforts to end Mali's political standoff that has spiralled into violent clashes which have left 11 people dead.

In a statement late on Friday after several meetings with a delegation from the 15-nation ECOWAS bloc, the June 5 Movement said the president's departure had been a "red line" for the mediators.

The June 5 Movement has triggered a showdown with the government over its unflinching demands that Keita resigns for perceived failures in tackling the dire economy and Mali's eight-year conflict.

Three days of clashes between protesters and security forces left 11 dead and 158 injured, according to an official tally - in the bloodiest bout of political unrest in years.

The ECOWAS mediation team led by former Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan has been in Mali since Wednesday, meeting the parties in a bid to defuse the crisis.

On the agenda were discussions about the March-April parliamentary election, the disputed outcome of which many analysts say is the root of the crisis.

Mali's constitutional court in April tossed out about 30 results from the elections in a decision that handed seats to members of Keita's party, triggering protests.

But the mediators' compromise offer is substantially similar to an earlier offer made by Keita, which the opposition has already rejected.

The mediating team proposed that Keita remains president, for example, but that new judges be appointed to the constitutional court so that it could revisit its decision on the parliamentary election.

Reporting from Dhaka, Senegal, Al Jazeera's Nicolas Haque said regional leaders were eager to end the political crisis in Mali amid fears of the unrest spreading.

"There is a real fear that these protests in Bamako could spread to other capitals in the region ... where we have seen high levels of distrust among citizens of their leadership," he said.

"There is going to be a presidential election in neighbouring Burkina Faso and also an election in Ivory Coast, so they are closely watching this."

One of the June 5 Movement's leaders, ChoguelMaiga, said late on Friday the mediators' proposals had "reduced our entire struggle to electoral issues".

In the statement issued on Friday, the opposition movement said it was insisting the president quit based on his "proven inability to turn Mali around" and the loss of territory, among other issues.

Swaths of Mali lie outside of government control because of an armed conflict that began in the north in 2012, before spreading to the centre, as well as into Burkina Faso and Niger.

With the latest political crisis, Mali's allies and neighbours are eager to avoid the fragile Sahel nation of some 20 million people sliding into chaos.


Al-Sunni confirms submission of request to SC for hearing on Libya

July 18, 2020

Libya’s delegate to the United Nations Taher Al-Sunni, confirmed that the Libyan Mission has submitted an official request to press the Security Council (SC) to hold a hearing this month with the Sanctions Committee and a team of experts, on the Libyan situation.

Al-Sunni explained in a tweet that the request included addressing the countries involved in the violation of the arms embargo, which has contributed to supporting the aggression against Tripoli since April of last year.




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