New Age Islam
Mon Nov 30 2020, 09:44 AM

Islamic World News ( 3 March 2015, NewAgeIslam.Com)

Islamic State Militants ‘Cherry Pick the Quran for Their Own Ends,’ Experts Say

 

 

Religious edict suggested the destruction of the historic monuments were a 'religious duty' that Egyptians must fulfill. (Al Arabiya)

 

 

 

 Arab World

Islamic State Militants ‘Cherry Pick the Quran for Their Own Ends,’ Experts Say

Qatari Fatwa: Destroy Pyramids And Sphinx!

Iraqi Shia fighters kill ten ISIL terrorists in west Iraq

S. Korea to build SR7.5bn nuclear reactors in KSA

British former marine reported killed in Syria

Emwazi Father Says No Proof His Son Is 'Jihadi John'

Roadside Bombs Slow Attempt to Liberate Iraqi City from Isis

Sending more troops to Iraq 'pointless' without more aid, says Tim Costello

618 expats embrace Islam in Riyadh

Oman's Arab Spring legacy: Good governance?

Pentagon: Mosul war plan briefing ‘inaccurate’

Iraq battles to rebuild despite war and oil slump

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Africa

Boko Haram Killed Hundreds As Chadian Troops Seized Nigerian Town

Nigeria Troops Claim 70 Boko Haram Fighters Killed In Repelled Attack

Boko Haram militants kill 19 in Niger

Boko Haram beheadings footage echoes Isis video techniques

Malawi Story of Muslim Success

Muslims and Christians In Nigeria: Friends Forever

Nigeria: Vote Credible Candidates, Muslim Group Urges Nigerians

1.65m Nigerians Displaced By Boko Haram – FG

Boko Haram: We’re Careful to Avoid Damage to Human Lives – Jonathan

Uganda denies massing troops along Sudan border

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Europe

Don't Refer To IS As 'Islamic,' Urges Russian Council of Muftis

In English Town, Muslims Lead Effort to Create Interfaith Haven

Just Four Protestors at Sweden Anti-Islam Rally

Marseille's Muslims need their Grand Mosque – why is it still a car park?

Debate about French Muslim Identity Plays out In Hip-Hop

A Muslim Chaplain Caught in the Middle

In France, Young Muslims Often Straddle Two Worlds

Costco sued for discrimination against Muslim former employee

No tolerance for anti-Muslim hatred, warns MSP

Anti-Islam group PEGIDA strikes back across Europe

Obama Prioritizes Weakening Russia, Over Weakening ISIS

‘Jihadi John’ condemned 9/11, London bombings

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India

Arrest of an Indian in Saudi Arabia over Haram ‘Temple Photo’

India to Rent Haj Buildings For Five Years

Ex-serviceman caught 'spying' for Pakistan in Amritsar

Indo-Pak talks held, Indian Foreign Secretary raises concerns on cross-border terrorism

Telangana Constitutes Panel for Muslim Reservation

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South Asia

Car Bomb Kills 8 in Afghanistan’s Helmand

Court Refuses to Entertain Khaleda’s Pleas

Afghan army suffering heavy combat losses, desertions: US

Siraj Master massacred Bagerhat villagers

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Southeast Asia

Indonesia Moves Australian Convicts To Execution Island

Malaysian Teen in Syria Is Now Pining For Mum

Malaysia still top choice for Muslim travellers

Philippine army seizes Muslim rebel bomb factory as peace plan flounders

Students, Muslim community members light candles at UP Cebu to seek justice for SAF 44

Malaysia to join ranks of nations with laws against terror

Five-man panel to decide on anti-terror detention

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Mideast

Yemen’s Hadi Wants Reconciliation Talks Moved to Saudi Arabia

Ad Banned In UK for Implying Al-Quds Part of Israel

Assad accuses Erdogan of supporting Takfiris

Kingdom, Turkey enter ‘a new era of cooperation’

Israel ‘must investigate’ Gaza civilian killings

Israeli-Arab lecturer leaves behind multitude of questions

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Pakistan

India Lacks Political Will to Resolve Issues with Pakistan: Hina Rabbani

Army Reiterates to Deal with Terrorists with Iron Hand

Pakistan, Kabul welcomes slow withdrawal of US troops: Jilani

Husain Haqqani calls for 'decisive shift' on Kashmir

Three policemen killed, DPO injured in Balochistan violence

Drone attacks case adjourned indefinitely

Afghan refugees born in Pakistan reluctant to repatriate

Pakistan arrests parents for refusing polio vaccination

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North America

US Prosecutor Seeks Death for Suspect in Killing 3 Muslims

'Meet a Muslim Family' Hospitality Challenges Misconceptions

Tennessee's Latest Bill Bans Nonexistent Muslim 'No-Go Zones'

Commons committee on anti-terror law to hear from retired spies, judges and politicians

Government warned of home-grown online anti-Islam threat

US Muslim Teen Defeats Stereotyping

Netanyahu rips possible US nuclear deal with Iran

Muslims sue FBI in death of Boston suspect’s friend

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau

URL: http://www.newageislam.com/islamic-world-news/new-age-islam-news-bureau/islamic-state-militants-‘cherry-pick-the-quran-for-their-own-ends,’-experts-say/d/101821

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Arab World

 

Islamic State Militants ‘Cherry Pick the Quran for Their Own Ends,’ Experts Say

MAR 4, 2015

CAIRO – Three British schoolgirls believed to have gone to Syria to become “Jihadi” brides. Three young men charged in New York with plotting to join the Islamic State group and carry out attacks on American soil. A masked, knife-wielding militant from London who is the face of terror in videos showing Western hostages being beheaded.

These individuals are among tens of thousands of Muslims eager to pledge allegiance to the Islamic State group. An estimated 20,000 have streamed into the militants’ self-styled “caliphate,” which spans vast tracts of territory in Iraq and Syria and is ruled under its brutal interpretation of Shariah law.

But how rooted in Islam is the ideology embraced by this group — one that has inspired so many to fight and die?

President Barack Obama has insisted the militants behind a brutal campaign of beheadings, kidnappings and enslavement are “not Islamic,” and only use a veneer of Islam to further their ends. Obama’s critics argue that Islamic State ideology is intrinsically linked to Islam, while others insist it has little connection to religion.

The group itself has assumed the mantle of Islam’s earliest years, purporting to turn back the clock in Iraq and Syria, re-enacting the conquests and rule of the Prophet Muhammad and his successors.

In reality, its ideology is a virulent vision of the group’s own making, one constructed by selectively mining centuries of Islamic traditions and teachings.

The vast majority of Muslim clerics say the group cherry picks what it wants from Islam’s holy book, the Quran, and from accounts of Muhammad’s actions and sayings, known as the Hadith. It then misinterprets many of these, while ignoring everything in the texts that contradicts those hand-picked selections, the experts say.

The group’s claim to adhere to the prophecy and example of Muhammad helps explain its appeal among young Muslim radicals eager to join its ranks. Much like Nazi Germany evoked a Teutonic past to inspire its followers, Islamic State propaganda almost romantically depicts its holy warriors as re-establishing the caliphate, contending that the ideal of Islamic rule can be realized only through bloodshed and warfare.

It maintains that its worst brutalities — beheading captives, taking women and girls as sex slaves and burning to death a captured Jordanian pilot — only prove its purity in following what it contends is the prophet’s example — a claim that appalls the majority of the world’s 1.6 billion Muslims.

Writings by the group’s clerics and ideologues and its English-language online magazine, “Dabiq,” are full of citations from Quranic verses, the Hadith and centuries of interpreters, mostly hard-liners.

But these are often taken far out of context, said Joas Wagemakers, an assistant professor of Islamic Studies at Radboud University Nijmegen in the Netherlands, who specializes in Islamic militant thought.

Muslim scholars throughout history have used texts in a “decontextualized way” to suit their purposes, Wagemakers said. But the Islamic State goes “further than any other scholars have done. They represent the extreme,” he said.

It would be a mistake to conflate the Islamic State group’s extremism with the “true Islam” that emerges from the Quran and Hadith, he added.

Despite its claim to the contrary, the Islamic State group is largely political, borne out of the conflicts in Syria and Iraq, said Khaled Abou El Fadl, an Islamic law scholar at the University of California, Los Angeles.

The group, he said, is trying to make God “a co-conspirator in a genocidal project.”

Ahmed al-Dawoody, an assistant professor at the Institute for Islamic World Studies at Zayed University in Dubai, agreed.

The phenomenon of reading religious sources out of context “has existed throughout the ages,” he said. “We should not grant any legitimacy to those who violate Islam, then hijack it and speak on its behalf.”

“This is not Islamic terror, this is terror committed by Muslims,” he said.

The Islamic State group not only misreads the texts it cites, most clerics say, it also ignores Quranic verses and a long body of clerical scholarship requiring mercy, preservation of life and protection of innocents, and setting out rules of war — all of which are binding under Shariah law.

Many mainstream clerics compare the group to the Khawarij, an early sect that was so notorious for “Takfir,” or declaring other Muslims heretics for even simple sins, that it was rejected by the faith. The Islamic State group denies that, but it draws heavily from 20th-century theories of “Takfir” developed by hard-liners.

Part of the problem in countering the group’s ideology is that moderate clerics have struggled to come up with a cohesive, modern interpretation, especially of the Quranic verses detailing Muhammad’s wars with his enemies.

Militants often point to the Quran’s ninth “Sura,” or chapter, which includes calls for Muslims to “fight polytheists wherever you find them” and to subdue Christians and Jews until they pay a tax. Moderate clerics counter that these verses are linked to specifics of the time and note other verses that say there is “no force in religion.”

And while moderate clerics counter the Islamic State group’s interpretation point-by-point, at times they accept the same tenets.

Sheikh Ahmed el-Tayeb — the grand imam of Egypt’s Al-Azhar, one of Sunni Islam’s most prestigious seats of learning — denounced the burning of the Jordanian pilot as a violation of Islam. But then he called for the perpetrators to be subjected to the same punishment that the Islamic State group prescribes for those who “wage war on Islam” — crucifixion, death or the amputation of hands and legs.

This turns the debate into one over who has the authority to determine the “correct” interpretation of Islam’s holy texts. Since many of the most prominent clerics in the Middle East are part of state-run institutions, militant supporters dismiss them as compromised and accommodating autocratic rulers.

The Islamic State group’s segregation of the sexes, imposition of the veil on women, destruction of shrines it considers heretical, hatred of Shiites and condoning of punishments like lashings or worse are accepted by clerics in U.S.-allied Saudi Arabia, who follow the ultraconservative Wahhabi interpretation of Islam.

But the Islamic State goes further still.

For example, most militaries in the era of Muhammad — the 7th century — beheaded enemies and enslaved populations they captured in war, taking women as concubines. There are citations in the Hadith of Muhammad and his successors ordering beheadings, and verses in the Quran that set out rules for dealing with slaves.

Pivoting off these, the Islamic State group contends that anyone who rejects beheadings or enslavement is not a real Muslim and has been corrupted by modern Western ideas.

One Islamic State cleric, Sheikh Hussein bin Mahmoud, wrote a vehement defense of beheadings after the killing of American journalist James Foley.

“Those who pervert Islam are not those who cut off the heads of disbelievers and terrorize them,” he wrote, “but those who want (Islam) to be like Mandela or Gandhi, with no killing, no fighting, no blood or striking necks.”

Islam, he wrote, is the religion “of battle, of cutting heads, of shedding blood.”

To support beheadings, the group cites the Quran as calling on Muslims to “strike the necks” of their enemies. But other clerics insist that the verse means that Muslim fighters should swiftly kill enemies in the heat of battle, not execute captives.

Moreover, the Islamic State group ignores the next part of the verse, which says that Muslims should set prisoners of war free as an act of charity or for ransom.

The Islamic State group “appears to have adopted violent ideas first, then searched books of religious interpretation to find a cover for their actions,” said Sheikh Hamadah Nassar, a cleric in the ultraconservative Salafi movement.

In June, the extremists declared a caliphate, or “khilafa” in Arabic, in the lands it controls in Iraq and Syria, with its leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi as the caliph — a declaration roundly ridiculed by Muslim clerics of all stripes. But here too, the group went further, saying that Islam requires the existence of a caliphate and that anyone who refuses to recognize its declaration is not a true Muslim.

“The hopes of khilafa became an undeniable reality,” the group proclaimed in “Dabiq” magazine. Any Muslim who refuses Islamic State authority will be “dealt with by the decisive law of Allah.”

The stream of Islamic State recruits swelled by thousands following the proclamation.

http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2015/03/04/world/islamic-state-militants-cherry-pick-the-quran-for-their-own-ends-experts-say/#.VPbI1nyUd5s

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Qatari Fatwa: Destroy Pyramids And Sphinx!

4 March 2015

DOHA: A fatwa from a Qatari-owned online portal has been widely circulated by Egyptian press this week after it called for the destruction of pharaonic monuments on the grounds that they are contrary to Islam.

The edict, issued by Islam Web, was picked up by several independent Egyptian news outlets, such as Youm 7 and Al-Fagr. It suggested the destruction of the historic monuments was a “religious duty” that Egyptians must fulfil.

But Egyptian newspapers carrying the story failed to notice the fatwa was first issued in December 2012. It has nevertheless sparked prime-time talk show discussions in Egypt.

The fatwa, which had been issued in response to a user’s question to the Islam Web’s administrator, had stated: “The demolition of the pyramids and the sphinx is a religious duty,” before referring to the monuments as “idols.”

Islam Web is affiliated to the Qatari ministry of endowments, with Doha’s government website advising users seeking online Fatwas to “enter the official website of Fatwa Center on Islam Web.”

The portal has previously been under the radar following a fatwa issued in 2006 permitting the burning of people to death. The edict was titled: “The Burning of Ias bin Abdul Yalil by Abu Bakr” which visited a historic case study to conclude that burning people as a form of punishment is permissible.

But last month, the fatwa was reportedly removed from the site and retracted hours after Islamic State militants burned a Jordanian pilot alive.

Islam Web has also attracted controversy for issuing a fatwa that legitimizes insulting Christianity.

http://www.arabnews.com/middle-east/news/713381

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Iraqi Shia fighters kill ten ISIL terrorists in west Iraq

Mar 3, 2015

Volunteer Iraqi Shia fighters have engaged the ISIL Takfiri terrorists in the western province of Anbar, killing nearly a dozen of the militants.

On Tuesday, Brigadier General Abdul Amir al-Khazraji, deputy commander of Iraq’s Special Forces known as the Golden Division in Anbar, said ten ISIL terrorists were killed in clashes with Shia forces in the Hay al-Aramil district of the provincial capital city of Ramadi, located about 110 kilometers (68 miles) west of the capital, Baghdad, Iraq’s al-Sumaria satellite TV network reported.

Khazraji further noted that units of security forces also managed to thwart a terrorist onslaught against Hay al-Andalus district of the city.

Meanwhile, Iraq’s Ministry of Human Rights announced that ISIL extremists have executed 23 civilians, among them a woman, in the militant-held northern city of Mosul, located some 400 kilometers (248 miles) north of Baghdad, on the alleged ground that they were in collaboration with Iraqi security forces.

On February 7, local official Mowaffaq Hamid al-Azawi described Mosul as a big open-air prison, where residents are subjected to various kinds of torture and are suffering at the hands of ISIL.

He added that some scholars in the city even distort religious principles to serve ISIL’s interests.

In another development on Tuesday, the ISIL terrorists executed nearly a dozen of fellow militants in Iraq’s northern province of Salahuddin on charges of fleeing the battlefield.

A local source, speaking on condition of anonymity, said ISIL killed the fellow extremists by firing squad. The slain terrorists were accused of escaping clashes with Iraqi government forces in Tikrit, located 140 kilometers (86 miles) northwest of Baghdad, and retreating to Hawija district in neighboring Kirkuk Province.

ISIL started its campaign of terror in Iraq in early June 2014. The heavily armed militants took control of Mosul before sweeping through parts of the country’s Sunni Arab heartland.

Iraqi soldiers, police units, Kurdish forces, Shia volunteers and Sunni tribesmen are engaged in battle with the terrorists to drive them back from some areas they have under control.

http://www.presstv.in/Detail/2015/03/03/400060/10-ISIL-militants-slain-in-west-Iraq

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S. Korea to build SR7.5bn nuclear reactors in KSA

4 March 2015

Saudi Arabia and South Korea signed five key accords on Tuesday in Riyadh including a plan to study the feasibility of building nuclear reactors worth SR7.5 billion across the country.

Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman and South Korean President Park Geun-hye also held wide-ranging talks here on economic and security issues. This is the first visit by a South Korean president since 2012.

The two countries, under the provisions of the signed MoU, are set to conduct a three-year preliminary study, to be completed in 2018, on the feasibility of constructing the nuclear reactors in Saudi Arabia.

Jungho Lee, a spokesman of the South Korean Embassy, said the framework agreement would include technical cooperation, research and development, and the exchange of personnel.

According to reports, the agreement would be reached between King Abdullah City for Atomic and Renewable Energy (KACARE) and South Korea’s science, ICT and future planning ministry.

Saudi Arabia is the biggest petroleum exporter and dependent on oil and gas for its electricity production. The late King Abdullah established KACARE in 2010 to develop alternate energy, including atomic power.

Lee said the talks between King Salman and Park looked largely at economic, and science and technology cooperation. It was an “opportunity to take bilateral ties to a new level,” he said.

“The Republic of Korea became the first foreign country with which the Kingdom signed such key accords after King Salman ascended to the throne, and it is a real honor,” said Lee.

King Salman also hosted a lunch for Park, while Crown Prince Muqrin, deputy premier; and Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Naif, second deputy premier and minister of interior, called on Park separately on Tuesday.

Lee said the Korean president, who is accompanied by over 100 top businesspeople, would attend a Saudi-Korean business conference here on Wednesday.

He said the two sides also touched on security issues and challenges facing the Middle East. An MoU was also signed between the Korean Ministry of Science and King Abdulaziz City for Science and Technology.

The two other draft agreements signed at separate venues include one between the Export and Import Bank of Korea and Saudi Electricity Company, for financing a large project, and another between Kingdom Holdings Company and Korea Investment Corporation on investment collaboration.

Present at the talks and the signing ceremonies were several other members of the royal family and ministers including Prince Abdulaziz bin Abdullah, deputy foreign minister, and Prince Mohammed bin Salman, minister of defense. On behalf of Korea, top officials included Yun Byung-se, foreign minister; Choi Yang-hee, minister of science and future planning; Yoon Sang-jick, minister of trade and energy; and Moon Hyung-pyo, minister of health

Park will meet members of the Korean community here on Wednesday. She will also visit the historic Masmak Fort in Riyadh, which was built in 1865. She arrived on Tuesday afternoon in Riyadh on the second leg of her nine-day, four-nation tour of the Middle East, which took her to Kuwait first. She will also visit the UAE and Qatar.

http://www.arabnews.com/featured/news/713471

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British former marine reported killed in Syria

4 March 2015

A former Royal Marine has become the first British fighter to be killed battling with Kurdish forces against Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) militants in Syria, the BBC reported on Tuesday.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights earlier told AFP a European citizen had been killed fighting with Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG), but that it was not clear whether he was British or Greek.

The BBC named the dead man as former marine Konstandinos Erik Scurfield from Yorkshire in northern England. Reports in the Daily Telegraph and Daily Mail said he was 25-years-old.

The BBC reported that a British pro-Kurdish activist had informed Scurfield’s family of his death and that the YPG had asked if he could be buried in Syria “as a martyr.”

Britain’s Foreign Office said it was difficult to confirm such reports.

“We are aware of reports of the death of a British national in Syria,” a Foreign Office spokesman said.

“As we do not have any representation in Syria, it is extremely difficult to get any confirmation of deaths or injuries and our options for supporting British nationals there are extremely limited.”

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the man died on Tuesday from wounds suffered in a battle with militants the previous day in the northeastern province of Hasakeh.

It said he had been fighting in an area southwest of the town of Tal Hamis, which Kurdish fighters seized from ISIS last week.

He is believed to be the second Westerner to have died fighting with Kurdish forces against ISIS, after an Australian was reported killed in the same area last week.

Dozens of Westerners are thought to have joined the ranks of the YPG in Syria and other militia battling ISIS, including Assyrian Christian forces in Iraq.

However, their numbers are dwarfed by the thousands of foreign militants who have joined ISIS since it seized swathes of Iraq and Syria and declared an Islamic “caliphate” last year, believed to include more than 500 from Britain alone.

http://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2015/03/04/British-former-marine-reported-killed-in-Syria.html

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Emwazi father says no proof his son is 'Jihadi John'

March 4, 2015

KUWAIT CITY: The father of “Jihadi John” said in an interview published Wednesday that there was no proof that his son was the Islamic State executioner, adding there were a number of “false rumours” circulating.

“There is nothing that proves what is being circulated in the media, especially through video clips and footage, that the accused is my son Mohammed, who is being referred to as the alleged executioner of Daesh (Islamic State),” Jassem Emwazi told the Kuwaiti newspaper Al-Qabas.

The daily said it spoke to the father of Kuwait-born Mohammed Emwazi at a secret location in his first media interview following accusations that his son is the jihadist who killed several Western hostages.

“I have a message to the Kuwaiti people that many of the rumours are false,” he told the daily.

Full report at:

http://www.dawn.com/news/1167306/emwazi-father-says-no-proof-his-son-is-jihadi-john

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Roadside bombs slow attempt to liberate Iraqi city from Isis

3 March 2015

Iraqi troops and Shia militia fought with Islamic State extremists south of the militant-held city of Tikrit, but their offensive to retake Saddam Hussein’s home town was slowed by roadside bombs, local officials said.

Backed by Iranian-backed Shia militia and advisers, along with Sunni tribal fighters, Iraqi government forces made little headway on the second day of a large-scale military operation to recapture Tikrit, which fell to Isis last summer, two officials said.

The two sides were engaged in fierce clashes mainly outside the town of Dour, while government troops were shelling militant bases inside the city, they said.

The operation is seen as a litmus test for the capability of Iraqi troops to dislodge the militants from major cities they conquered in the country’s Sunni heartland in the north and west, during an onslaught last summer. Previous attempts to capture Tikrit failed because of tough resistance from the militants.

Full report at:

http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/mar/03/iraqi-troops-join-shia-militias-to-try-and-liberate-tikrit-from-isis

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Sending more troops to Iraq 'pointless' without more aid, says Tim Costello

March 4, 2015

Australia’s commitment of 300 more troops to help train Iraqi fighters is pointless without more spending on humanitarian aid to stop the radicalisation of some of the 16m Syrians in need of humanitarian assistance, according to World Vision.

Australia has given $113m in aid to the Syrian refugee crisis since 2011, but World Vision chief executive Tim Costello said far more was needed.

“There is no point committing more troops if we don’t bomb them with aid, these refugee camps are breeding grounds for rebels and for Islamic State ... the threat of radicalisation is real,” Costello said.

“The best counter to the siren song of radicals is development and education ... Isil [Islamic State] does have to be challenged, but to think more troops is a solution without increasing our aid is misguided.”

After four years of violence, 16m Syrian people are now in need of humanitarian aid across the region – more than 70% of Syria’s pre-crisis population.

Costello said foreign minister Julie Bishop was “very aware” of the need to spend more.

The United Nations has said US$5.5bn in aid is needed to respond to the Syrian humanitarian crisis – but had raised only half of that. According to Oxfam, Australia’s “fair share” of the UN’s original demand would amount to almost $117m for 2014.

Full report at:

http://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2015/mar/03/sending-more-troops-to-iraq-pointless-without-more-aid-says-tim-costello

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618 expats embrace Islam in Riyadh

 4 March 2015

The Office of Call and Guidance in north Riyadh reported on Monday that 618 people from France, the Philippines, Sri Lanka, Nepal, India, Ethiopia, Kenya, Madagascar and Ghana had embraced Islam.

Deputy Director Sheikh Abdul Hakim Al-Jasser said that the reversions occurred only in the first quarter of 1436. Thanks to incentive programs, the reversions were made because of special programs carried out on a regular basis.

He said these programs included the “Great Promise Forum” designed for the expat communities during which 12 forums were organized, attended by 927 people, with 97 of them embracing Islam.

Another program was “Outreach Preaching Yours” at expatriates’ accommodations in north Riyadh; this program was sponsored by the Saleh Al-Rajhi Endowment. He said that during the past three months the group had made 43 missionary tours and targeted 1,294 people with 119 accepting Islam as their new faith.

He added the number of internal and external lectures and lessons which were carried out in Full report at:

http://www.arabnews.com/saudi-arabia/news/713436

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Oman's Arab Spring legacy: Good governance?

03 Mar 2015

Muscat, Oman - When Ahmed al-Rasbi called Oman's consumer protection agency to complain about defects in his new washing machine, he did not expect a swift response. It was during the holy month of Ramadan, when government work often slows to a trickle. So when Rasbi heard back from the consumer protection agency that same day, he was shocked.

"They went to the shop in the matter of one hour and called me from the shop itself," said Rasbi, a 35-year-old engineer from Oman's al-Sharqiyah region. Prompted by the government visit, the store where Rasbi had bought his washing machine gave him a full refund.

In a country where citizens are quick to grumble about inefficient bureaucracy, stories of decisive action by Oman's Public Authority for Consumer Protection (PACP) are common.

"They are different," Rasbi said. "People trust them."

RELATED: Oman: No Gulf-wide union for us

Oman created the PACP in 2011, during the Arab Spring protests that rocked the region, charging it with monitoring prices, addressing consumer complaints and combating fraud and monopolies.

Full report at:

http://www.aljazeera.com/news/2015/03/oman-arab-spring-legacy-good-governance-150302061258658.html

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Pentagon: Mosul war plan briefing ‘inaccurate’

4 March 2015

A U.S. military official who briefed news media about Iraq’s upcoming offensive to retake Mosul provided inaccurate information but should never have publicly discussed war plans anyway, Defense Secretary Ash Carter said on Tuesday.

Carter’s criticism of the February news briefing by an official from the U.S. military’s Central Command was accompanied by an assurance from the top U.S. military officer to Congress that the matter was subject to an internal inquiry.

“That clearly was neither accurate information, nor had it been accurate, would have it been information that should have been blurted out to the press. So it’s wrong on both scores,” Carter, who took over as defense secretary in February, told a hearing by the Senate Armed Services Committee.

Two influential Republican senators on the committee, John McCain and Lindsey Graham, sent a letter to the White House on Feb. 20, complaining about the briefing, which predicted a Mosul offensive likely to start in April or May, involving 20,000 to 25,000 Iraqi and Kurdish forces.

Full report at:

http://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2015/03/04/U-S-defense-chief-slams-Mosul-briefing.html

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Iraq battles to rebuild despite war and oil slump

3 March 2015

On a main highway south of Baghdad, dozens of buildings rise up from the Iraqi plains, the first blocks of a multi-billion-dollar city emerging from a landscape more accustomed to conflict and crisis than glitzy new development.

Bismayah New City, which aims to house half a million people within four years, dwarfs any construction project Iraq has attempted in a generation.

Cranes tower over a handful of completed apartment blocks, scores of buses ferry thousands of workers across the 18 square km (7 square mile) site, and a huge production complex churns out pre-cast concrete walls and pillars.

On this largely barren piece of land, about 20 km (12 miles) from Iraq’s once proud but now war-damaged, dilapidated and overcrowded capital, developers plan to build 100,000 homes.

The fact that the project is even going ahead after Iraqi authorities lost swathes of territory to Islamist militants and billions of dollars to an oil price slump, underlines both the scale of its ambition and the obstacles it must overcome.

South Korea's Hanwha Engineering & Construction, which signed an $8 billion contract to build Bismayah, aims to hand over the first apartments this summer.

Full report at:

http://english.alarabiya.net/en/perspective/features/2015/03/03/Iraq-battles-to-rebuild-despite-war-and-oil-slump.html

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Africa

 

Boko Haram killed hundreds as Chadian troops seized Nigerian town

By: Haruna Umar And Dany Padire

 Mar 03 2015

MAIDUGURI, NIGERIA—Chadian troops have seized a strategically located Nigerian town from Boko Haram, but not before the defeated Islamic extremists killed hundreds of civilians, Chad’s military said.

Chadian forces regained control Monday of Dikwa, a north-eastern town occupied by the militants for weeks, said Chad’s military spokesman Col. Azem Bermandoua.

One soldier was killed and 34 were wounded, most by a suicide car bomber, Bermandoua said on national television. Dikwa is at a crossroads to two border crossings with Chad and a route north to Lake Chad.

Separately, southwest of Dikwa, Nigerian troops Monday repelled an attack by Boko Haram on Konduga, killing more than 70 insurgents, according to a Nigerian corporal who helped defend the town. A security official confirmed the attack. Both spoke on condition of anonymity.

Boko Haram invaded the town between herds of cattle and a suicide bomber driving an explosives-laden car, the corporal said. But the military had been warned and were well prepared to drive back the insurgents, he said.

Konduga has been attacked many times in recent months because it is a final defence for Maiduguri, the biggest northeastern city 35 kilometres away, which is the birthplace of Boko Haram.

Full report at:

http://www.thestar.com/news/world/2015/03/03/boko-haram-killed-hundreds-as-chadian-troops-seized-nigerian-town.html

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Nigeria Troops Claim 70 Boko Haram Fighters Killed In Repelled Attack

March 04, 2015

KANO - Nigerian troops backed by civilian vigilantes on Tuesday claimed to have killed more than 70 Boko Haram fighters in a foiled attack to capture the strategic town of Konduga near Maiduguri.

A would-be suicide bomber was shot and killed before he could ram his explosives-laden car into a military checkpoint in the town during the attack on Monday, witnesses said.

Around 150 Boko Haram fighters entered the fishing town with a large herd of cattle pretending to be herders and opened fire on troops stationed in the town, leading to a six-hour gun battle.

“At the last count 73 Boko Haram gunmen were killed in the foiled attack,” a civilian vigilante, Butari Mala, told AFP.

“Among those killed was a suicide bomber who was shot inside his car loaded with explosives before he could reach his target,” he said.

“The rest fled into the bush but were pursued and bombarded by a fighter jet that deployed from Maiduguri.”

A military source in Maiduguri, who requested anonymity because he is not authorised to speak to the media, confirmed Mala’s account, including the death toll.

The attack happened at about 7:00 am (0600 GMT) and the gunmen abandoned the cattle as they approached a military post, said Konduga resident, Abba Kaka.

“Unknown to the Boko Haram gunmen herdsmen in Konduga had been asked to keep away from some designated no-go areas,” he added.

Full report at:

http://nation.com.pk/international/04-Mar-2015/nigeria-troops-claim-70-boko-haram-fighters-killed-in-repelled-attack

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Boko Haram militants kill 19 in Niger

Mar 3, 2015

A Nigerien local legislator says the Nigeria-based Boko Haram Takfiri militants have raided three remote islands in the country in a weekend attack, killing at least 19 people.

“We have been informed that at least 19 people have died, most of whom were either burnt alive or drowned in the lake,” Elhadj Aboubacar, a deputy from the town of Bosso in southeastern Niger, said on Tuesday.

Aboubacar added that the drowned victims of the March 1 assault were mainly women and children, who sought to flee the violence onboard a dugout but it sank in the Lake Chad, where Cameroon, Nigeria, Niger and Chad share borders.

The lawmaker further noted that two people were also fatally shot. The Boko Haram militants fired on locals, pillaged shops and set homes on fire, before attacking two other islands.

Boko Haram is mainly based in northeastern Nigeria. The group has recently carried out deadly attacks in the neighboring countries of Chad, Cameroon and Niger, killing tens of people and leaving thousands homeless.

Full report at:

http://www.presstv.in/Detail/2015/03/03/400089/Boko-Haram-kills-19-in-Niger-

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Boko Haram beheadings footage echoes Isis video techniques

3 March 2015

The Nigerian Islamist sect Boko Haram has released a video that purportedly shows militants beheading two men, its first online posting using the advanced graphics and editing techniques associated with Islamic State.

The film, released on Monday, opens with two men on their knees, their hands tied behind their backs, and a militant standing over them holding a knife.

One of the kneeling men is made to tell the camera that they were paid by authorities to spy on the group, before another scene shows the men’s decapitated bodies. It was not possible to confirm the film’s authenticity or date.

The use of graphics, footage of black-clad militants with a black flag, and editing to show only the aftermath of the beheadings are particularly similar to footage from Isis, which has seized large parts of Iraq and Syria and killed several hostages.

The footage will stoke concerns that Boko Haram, which evolved out of a clerical movement focused on north-east Nigeria, is expanding its scope and seeking inspiration from global militant networks including al-Qaida and Isis.

Full report at:

http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/mar/03/boko-haram-beheadings-video-isis

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Malawi Story of Muslim Success

03 March 2015

By Prince Jamal

LILONGWE – While growing up in a rural farm in Harare, Zimbabwe, young and ambitious Muslim boy Esa Arab realized that his aspirations and dreams would one day turn him into an accomplished and successful entrepreneur.

“My siblings and I grew up in squalor of poverty. I had very high aspirations and ambitions to achieve something in future, despite the enormous challenges we went through,” Arab told OnIslam.net in Blantyre, Malawi’s commercial city, the location of his trade.

“My eyes were set on accomplishing something as a business venture, which at the same time, would also be of service to humanity.

“Though the road was very tough, it didn’t distract me from focusing on my dreams and vision,” he added.

Defying all odds, Arab trekked down to neighboring Malawi 15 years ago, armed with his experience in sales and marketing to establish his Superior Halal Group which runs a chain of halal meat to restaurants across the southern African nation.

“I was motivated to enter this business after identifying a void in the Malawian market for quality processed halal meats and lack of a quality shopping experience. The existence of my company has set standards in this direction.”

The void, he says, had presented itself an opportunity to him to come to Malawi and operate his business, making a “huge risk”.

“However, I wasn’t discouraged by the risk associate with that decision. It was a huge risk which fortunately has finally paid off. I don’t regret to have made that decision.”

Married to Maryam, with four children, the woman he describes as “wonderful and loving” said his family has been with him on his “journey to success.”

“My wife Maryam and my children have been very supportive of me. They have stood with me in both thick and thin. They have been part of the journey which started 15 years ago. Together, we have worked tirelessly to reach this far.”

“This journey began 15 years ago with just myself, my wife and two employees. I was on a machine cutting meat while my wife was attending to customers. At that time, we were selling only 2 cows per week. Today, 15 years down the line, my business has grown in leaps and bounds. We have 10 branches across the country.”

The concept of halal, -- meaning permissible in Arabic -- has traditionally been applied to food.

Full report at:

http://www.onislam.net/english/news/africa/483565-malawi-halal-story-of-muslim-success.html

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Muslims And Christians In Nigeria: Friends Forever

Mar 4, 2015

Bello Sagir Imam

I was pretty pressured by my readers like Comrade Rabi’u Shamma and others that my delay to write was becoming unbearable. In response to their urging, I started brooding. Meanwhile, my attention was drawn to the Muslim / Christian relationship in the country, by my Christian bedridden friend who asked after me.

When this came to my knowledge, I rushed to his hospital where I found him in a critical condition. To my astonishment, he still called my name. I prayed for his quick recovery to which he murmured ‘amen!’, while clutching the Holy Bible on his chest. While I was busy looking at his wrinkled face in sympathy, he murmured to me that the muezzin was calling prayer and therefore I should go to mosque.

‘Pray for me in the mosque please!’ He managed to plead.

‘Ok, I will’.

‘Thanks’.

‘Don’t mention it, dear. I know as I am praying for you, you are here doing same with the Holy book on your chest’.

The sick person smiled and waved to me which I returned before closing the door behind me.

When I was coming out of the mosque, I met my friend Bilal. He expressed his joy for seeing me, and that, he had been trying to give me a buzz to arrange an appointment with me, but the Nigerian epileptic network was unhelpful. His reason was to come to my house, to tell me a full story of how a Christian brother found his bag containing an I Pad computer, Black Berry phone, two pocket sized Holy Qura’ans and N100, 000 notes, but returned it to him and even refused to collect a token. I was glad about that hence, asked that the two of us should just proceed to my house. Bilal welcomed the idea, but solicited that; I should first accompany him to pick up his wife Christie from church.

Full report at:

http://leadership.ng/opinions/415105/muslims-and-christians-in-nigeria-friends-forever

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1.65m Nigerians Displaced By Boko Haram – FG

Mar 4, 2015

The federal government said yesterday that about 650,000 persons from the north-eastern parts of the country have been displaced by the terrorist activities of the Boko Haram sect since the insurgents started their gory activities.

Attorney-general of the federation and minister of justice, Mr Mohammed Adoke (SAN) stated this while speaking at a high-level segment of the 28th session of the United Nations Human Rights Council held in Geneva, Switzerland.

He, however, expressed satisfaction with the “recent successes achieved by security forces and the increased level of cooperation at regional and sub-regional level to raise a multi-national force of 8,700 involving Chad, Niger, Cameroun and Benin by the African Union, with support from Nigeria’s global partners.

“My delegation believes that this initiative offers valuable lessons for the global community. In this regard, I cannot overemphasis the need for increased financial and material support for the multi-national force as well as the internally displaced persons and refugees”, Adoke added.

The AGF recalled the successes achieved over the years through international collaboration within the United Nations system in areas of human trafficking, migration issues, prosecution of war crimes and crimes against humanity, as well as the protection of the environment.

He added that there was a need to intensify current initiatives in these and other fields, pledging Nigeria’s support to the Council in this regard.

On the number of persons displaced so far by insurgency, Adoke said, “Nigeria’s experience in combating terrorism and insurgency perpetrated by the Boko Haram sect in north-eastern Nigeria and our common borders with Chad, Niger and Cameroon, clearly demonstrates the relevance and potency of international cooperation and solidarity in tackling this scourge.

According to him, since the insurgency began, close to 650,000 Nigerians have been internally displaced in the afflicted region, and another one million as refugees in neighbouring countries of Cameroun, Chad and Niger.

“This situation has posed grave humanitarian situations in the affected areas including the neighbouring countries,” he revealed.

Nearly 66,000 Nigerian IDPs in Cameroon- UN

The United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) has disclosed that there are nearly 66,000 Nigerian internally displaced persons (IDPs) staying in Cameroon.

This was revealed at the daily briefing in Geneva chaired by director of the UN Information Service, Corinne Momal-Vanian, and attended by the spokespersons for the World Health Organization (WHO), the International Labour Organization, the Human Rights Council and the United Nations Refugee Agency.

Full report at:

http://leadership.ng/news/415079/1-65m-nigerians-displaced-by-boko-haram-fg

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Boko Haram: We’re Careful To Avoid Damage To Human Lives – Jonathan

By George Agba

Mar 4, 2015

President Goodluck Jonathan said yesterday that the federal government was taking utmost care to avoid collateral damage to the lives and properties of civilians as the military intensifies its ongoing offensive against Boko Haram.

The president who pointed this out at an audience with the new South Korean ambassador to Nigeria, Mr Noh Kyu-Duk, said that the military is doing its best to avoid human rights violations in the theatre of operations in the North Eastern states.

Jonathan said, “We are sticking to international best practices in prosecuting the war against terrorism and doing our best to ensure that we don’t have cases of human rights abuses in the North East.

“We are consistently monitoring the situation and have investigated previous reports of such abuse which were mostly blown out of proportion for political reasons.

“Our military has a reputation for discipline and we have insisted on that discipline and control for the safety of civilians in the North East.

“The purpose of the entire operation is to save our people from the brutal tyranny of Boko Haram, so we cannot tolerate human rights abuses or willfully impose further suffering on them,’’ President Jonathan said.

Full report at:

http://leadership.ng/news/415151/boko-haram-were-careful-to-avoid-damage-to-human-lives-jonathan

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Uganda denies massing troops along Sudan border

3 March 2015

Ugandan troops based in South Sudan are not massing along the Sudan border, Ugandan military officials said on Tuesday, after Sudan’s state news agency reported 16,000 Ugandan soldiers were due to arrive near the frontier.

Sudan’s Suna news agency on Monday said Ugandan soldiers were massing near the border to fight rebels opposed to President Salva Kiir’s government, a move that Sudan finds “unacceptable and presenting a danger to Sudan’s stability”.

Uganda, however, denied the allegations.

“That is a bad lie. Ignore it,” Uganda’s military spokesman, Paddy Ankunda, told Reuters in a text message.

Senior Sudanese government officials said Suna’s report was representative of Khartoum’s concerns. “The second issue is Uganda’s hosting of Sudanese rebels so this is a very serious step for us,” a senior Sudanese official told Reuters.

Full report at:

http://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/africa/2015/03/03/Uganda-denies-massing-troops-along-Sudan-border.html

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Europe

 

Don't Refer To IS As 'Islamic,' Urges Russian Council Of Muftis

March 03, 2015

The international community should not use the word "Islamic" when referring to the militant group Islamic State, according to the first deputy chairman of the Council of Muftis of Russia, Rushan Abbyasov.

Abbyasov said that leaders of the Council of Muftis of Russia had joined representatives of several Arab countries in calling for the use of the word "Islamic" to be dropped when referring to IS in the media and elsewhere in public discourse.

Abbyasov made his comments in a live interview with Russia's Vesti FM radio station ahead of a meeting in Moscow with diplomatic representatives of Yemen, Iraq, Palestine, Kuwait, Algeria, Jordan, and Sudan, pro-Moscow Russian news site RIA Novosti reported on March 3.

"We have arrived at this idea, that today we can try to neutralize these groups ideologically. At the minimum, we should remove the prefix 'Islamic' [from Islamic State]," Abbyasov was quoted as saying.

The Russian Council of Muftis deputy chairman said that the media and others should refer to thIS "just as [the militants] are positioning themselves -- as terrorists, bandits, and radicals, but we should try to remove the prefix [of "Islamic"] that they have given themselves and which they are trying to play with," Abbyasov told Vesti FM.

Abbyasov said he believed that dropping the term "Islamic" from the name of the militant group would have a significant impact.

"If the international community would not call them 'Islamic' then believe me, they can be destroyed ideologically," he said.

Abbyasov recalled that a group of over 120 Muslim scholars had released an open letter to IS militants and followers recently.

The letter declared that the militant group's ideology was "completely contrary to the essence of Islam," Abbyasov said.

The letter, released in September 2014, used Koranic sources to refute the militants' ideology.

Full report at:

http://www.rferl.org/content/russia-clerics-say-isis-not-islamic/26880321.html

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In English Town, Muslims Lead Effort To Create Interfaith Haven

MARCH 03, 2015

ARI SHAPIRO

Inayat Omarji vividly remembers the worried reaction when he first looked into renovating the abandoned church in his neighborhood: "There's a bearded young Muslim chap involved in a church! Whoops! He's gonna turn it into a mosque!"

At the time, Omarji was head of the local council of mosques, but there already were three or four in his neighborhood in Bolton, England.

"What it needed is a place where people could meet, people can come to, people can socialize," he says.

Omarji and other local Muslims decided to turn the church into a community center for everyone. That was ten years ago. Now, amid stories about religious friction and ethnic tensions, the transformation of All Souls Church provides a story of harmony and integration in one culturally diverse community.

A decade ago, All Souls was covered in graffiti. Thieves had stolen lead pipes and broken some windows. But even as a boarded-up shell, the church was the geographic center of this community, its bell tower looming above the surrounding streets.

Omarji says one of the first decisions his group had to make was what to name this new community center.

"A no-brainer, actually, because the name just said it all: All Souls," says Omarji. "If somebody says 'oh, is this, is it just for the Muslim community?' ... No, just think about the name: All Souls. For everybody."

The renovation cost 5 million pounds, or around $8 million. Some of the money came from national lottery funds, with matching donations from individuals and charitable foundations.

Now the interior has elements of an ornate 18th-century church, while it holds elegant floating pods with meeting spaces, activity rooms, and a cafe. Every piece of the new interior had to be brought in through the church's original small doorway. Today there are after-school activities for students, knitting and gardening groups, and a Lego club that constructed a scale model of the church using the plastic bricks.

The building's new management shows a clear respect for history. Touch-screens along one wall play videos where former church congregants tell their stories.

"My happiest childhood memory was being picked for Rose Queen, and what an excitement that was," a senior citizen named Jean recalls in one of the short films.

The Rev. Gerald Higham was vicar of All Souls in the 1970s. At that time the local cotton mills were closing, white Christian families were leaving, and Muslim families with South Asian roots were moving in.

Full report at:

http://www.npr.org/2015/03/03/390286095/in-english-town-muslims-lead-effort-to-create-interfaith-haven

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Just four protestors at Sweden anti-Islam rally

03 Mar 2015

The march went ahead on Monday night even after the local organizers dropped out at the last minute.

But among the Pegida representatives present in the town’s main square were several high profile names in Sweden: Dan Park, an artist who has previously been convicted of inciting racial hatred and Henry Rönnquist, the gallery owner who exhibited Park’s controversial pictures and the man who founded Pegida in Sweden.

Dan Park was also reported to have been present at the cultural centre in Copenhagen where a terror attack took place last month.

There was a strong police presence at the Linköping rally, reflecting Sweden’s concerns about security in the wake of the recent shootings in Copenhagen and France as well as an awareness about how Pegida marches can turn violent, as they have in neighbouring Germany.

Read The Local Germany's guide to the rise of Pegida

But Fredrik Kliman, spokesman for the police in Östergötland, described the demonstration as "very, very quiet."

"I think that both sides feel they got their messages across", he added.

Full report at:

http://www.thelocal.se/20150303/four-protestors-at-sweden-anti-islam-rally

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Marseille's Muslims need their Grand Mosque – why is it still a car park?

3 March 2015

In 2001, Marseille’s incumbent mayor, Jean-Claude Gaudin, made a bold campaign promise: the city would build a Grand Mosque for its Muslim community. The 15th arrondissement site – former home, ironically enough, to a non-halal slaughterhouse – would host the country’s biggest centre for Islamic worship, with a minaret, a religious school, a library, a restaurant and tea salon, at an estimated cost of €22m. For Marseille’s Muslim population, the second largest in France, here at long last was an important acknowledgement.

Fourteen years later, the site remains a car park. Nothing has been laid but a single symbolic foundation stone, as legal challenges, money issues and ego wars continue to rage. Meanwhile, Marseille’s Muslim population has in many ways never been worse off, heavily concentrated in some of the city’s poorest areas of North Marseille – an economically deprived district that was spotlighted in the news two weeks ago after 100 French special forces locked down the Castellane estate (unemployment rate: 49%) when inhabitants opened fire with Kalashnikovs.

The story of the Grand Mosque’s construction – or lack thereof – shows how deeply Marseille and France in general has struggled to figure out how to integrate its second largest religious community, which makes up 7.5% of the country’s population.

Certainly Marseille’s need for a new place of worship was clear. Despite being home to about 250,000 Muslims, the city doesn’t have a single official mosque. The most visited monument in the city is La Cathedrale Saint-Jean, a Catholic church. And yet Marseille, the so-called “Port of the Empire” with its giant Mediterranean harbour, has historically been the first stop for millions of migrants from former French colonies, especially after the French-Algerian war in the 1960s.

So the construction project was long overdue. “And indeed, the municipality did everything it could to make this dream come true,” says Salah Bariki, a member of staff at Marseille City Hall who worked on the Grand Mosque project for years. “In 2006, we unanimously approved the construction permit – all except for one member, from the Front National.”

It was an auspicious vote. A year later, the rightwing Front National joined with local shops to sue La Grande Mosquée de Marseille, the non-profit group in charge of gathering funds and building the mosque. According to French law, the rent of a building must be fixed before the building is itself erected, and the Front National were outraged by the low rate the mosque was set to pay: €300 a year. The judge agreed. “The court decided to raise the rent to €2,400 a month,” Bariki says.

Full report at:

http://www.theguardian.com/cities/2015/mar/03/marseille-muslim-community-grand-mosque

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Debate About French Muslim Identity Plays Out In Hip-Hop

MARCH 03, 2015

As part of our stories about Muslims in Western Europe, commentator Hisham Aidi, author of the book Rebel Music, talks about how music factors into the cultural differences between French Muslims.

Copyright © 2015 NPR. For personal, noncommercial use only. See Terms of Use. For other uses, prior permission required.

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

Muslims make up about 7 percent of the population in France. The majority of them live in the outer suburbs of Paris. Many French Muslims struggle with how to define themselves - by nationality, by religion? They say the strict separation of church and state there, known as laicite, doesn't help. Commentator Hisham Aidi says you can hear that frustration in the music that young French Muslims listen to. We asked him to share his thoughts for our series on Muslims in Western Europe.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "MISUNDERSTOOD")

HISHAM AIDI: This is (foreign language spoken), a hip-hop group from (foreign language spoken), just south of Paris. And this song, "Misunderstood," is about not belonging and not being accepted in France. I was born here and I'm still called an immigrant, goes one lyric. It's also a song about colonial history, ghetto-ization and the grim housing projects where these artists live. French hip-hop artists have long had an uneasy relationship with law enforcement. Rappers have been sued for verbally abusing the police, accused of setting back integration and of using incendiary language. French politicians cringe when hip-hop artists speak of ghettoes. That's a loaded term, they say - an American label and an American problem. (Foreign language spoken) raps about these ghettos and the underside of the French dream.

Full report at:

http://www.npr.org/2015/03/03/390484853/debate-about-french-muslim-identity-plays-out-in-hip-hop

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A Muslim Chaplain Caught in the Middle

By KIMIKO DE FREYTAS-TAMURA

MARCH 3, 2015

PIERREFITTE-SUR-SEINE, France — Salah Hamidi describes himself as a piece of meat on a cutting block, being whacked by a butcher.

As a Muslim chaplain in a nearby French prison, Mr. Hamidi, 50, said he felt caught between dueling responsibilities: offering spiritual guidance to the 600 or so Muslim inmates, while also helping the prison administration detect and deal with any signs of fomenting radicalization.

Muslim prison chaplains “are caught in the middle, between the cutting board and the cleaver,” he said, pointing to a slab of meat hanging at a local butcher here. Viewed with suspicion both by inmates and by the prison administration in nearby Villepinte, “I need to manage the two at the same time, and it’s not easy,” he said, frowning and rubbing his forehead.

In the aftermath of the January killings at the French satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo and an attack on a Jewish supermarket by Islamist extremist gunmen, the government is turning to Muslim chaplains to help prevent the spread of radicalization in prisons. Two of the killers met in prison a decade before the attacks and are believed to have turned to terrorism during their detention.

In January, Prime Minister Manuel Valls pledged to educate 60 Muslim prison chaplains to help combat radicalization in the prisons — part of a wider government plan that includes creating about 2,700 jobs to combat terrorism, recruiting intelligence analysts, increasing the number of judges dealing with terrorist offenses and adding prison personnel.

But there are too few Muslim chaplains, and despite efforts to hire more, it takes time, and the vetting process is laborious.

It was only last year that the prison in the Paris suburb of Villepinte, one of the most overpopulated in France, appointed two Muslim chaplains to help Mr. Hamidi.

For the 40,000 or so Muslim inmates in France — laws on secularism mean there are no official figures by religion, but they are estimated to be 60 percent of the 67,000 inmates in French prisons — there are about 182 Muslim prison chaplains, according to Moulay El Hassan El Alaoui Talibi, the national Muslim chaplain for prisons. There are about 562 Christian chaplains, a disparity largely attributed to the country’s Roman Catholic history and traditions.

Full report at:

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/03/04/world/a-muslim-chaplain-caught-in-the-middle.html

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In France, Young Muslims Often Straddle Two Worlds

MARCH 03, 2015

AUDIE CORNISH

The French, with their national motto of "liberty, equality, fraternity," are so against religious and ethnic divisions that the government doesn't even collect this kind of data on its citizens, but it's believed that nearly 40 percent of the country's 7 million Muslims live in and around Paris.

Many live in poor suburban communities known as banlieues., and the residents of these communities have felt increased scrutiny since three young Muslim men, each born and raised in France, killed 17 people in January's terror attacks in Paris.

The bustling Gare du Nord train station marks the frontier between central Paris and the banlieues, says Andrew Hussey, a British historian who has written about the tensions between France and its black and Arab minorities.

It's the place where the suburbs of northern Paris — which consist of mainly immigrant, minority populations, who are often very poor — come into contact with the relative affluence and comfort of the city center.

"The thing about the Gare du Nord is that that's where you feel — the kids from the banlieue feel excluded," he says, "They come here, and like it's a frontier zone between Paris over there — which is very well-heeled and very rich and very beautiful, and over there [the suburbs] — where they're sort of, you know, cast out into this world that's not quite connected to the center of France."

Ismael Medjdoub is one of these "kids from the banlieue" who straddles these two worlds. Medjdoub, 21, a third-generation Frenchman of Algerian descent, spends a lot of time on the subway getting to and from work and school — up to four hours every day, including Sunday.

Medjdoub is a student at the Sorbonne in Paris, and would like to get an apartment in the city, but he says his district number — it's like an American ZIP code — is hurting his chances.

Make no mistake, Medjdoub says that he's proud to be from a banlieue — his town, called Tremblay en France, is next to Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport — but that he knows people look down on those communities.

"Every time that I say to someone I'm coming from suburbs, they have some pity for me that I cannot understand," he says.

He recalls an incident during his first year studying history at the Sorbonne. He had gone to see his professor, to apologize for a delay in turning in his schoolwork.

"He answered to me: 'Don't worry, you are coming from suburbs, so I know what you are feeling,' " Medjdoub says. "And I was — 'What? I mean, come on guy, I am living in a big house with two cats! So you see it's not the image that you are making of suburbs.' "

We arrive at the small, quiet station in Tremblay en France, a world apart from Paris. We meet Ismael's mother, Fatihah Medjdoub, at a nearby cafe.

Full report at:

http://www.npr.org/blogs/parallels/2015/03/03/390449785/in-france-young-muslims-often-straddle-two-worlds

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Costco sued for discrimination against Muslim former employee

03 March 2015

Costco, the world’s third largest retailer, is being sued by a former employee for religious discrimination at a Brooklyn branch.

Jean Camara was told to gather carts outside after he refused to handle pork under his religion. A devout Muslim, Camara is forbidden from handling pork and alcohol.

He asked to work in the electronics department but was told no positions were available.

Just 16 days are filing a human rights complaint he was fired for insubordinate conduct.

Camara was hired as a cashier’s assistant at the Costco branch in Sunset Park Brooklyn, New York, in September 2012, but he refused to touch pork products on the conveyor belt because it is forbidden under his faith.

Full report at:

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/business/costco-sued-for-discrimination-against-muslim-former-employee-10082098.html

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No tolerance for anti-Muslim hatred, warns MSP

03 March 2015

USTICE secretary Michael Matheson has said inciting violence or hatred would not be tolerated by the Scottish authorities ahead of a demonstration by the far-right anti-Muslim group Pegida in Edinburgh.

Mr Matheson said Islamophobia or any hate crime would not be put up with by the government or Holyrood amid concern about the protest planned by Pegida Scotland for 21 March.

Addressing MSPs at Holyrood, he said: “Those who seek to incite violence will be dealt with firmly and reported to the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service. The Scottish Government fully supports Police Scotland in taking all appropriate and proportionate action required. I speak for all my colleagues in the Scottish Government and, I am sure, all members of this parliament, when I say that we do not tolerate Islamophobia or any other form of hatred or hate crime. We will not tolerate extremists who peddle hatred under the guise of protecting society.”

Full report at:

http://www.scotsman.com/news/politics/top-stories/no-tolerance-for-anti-muslim-hatred-warns-msp-1-3708132

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Anti-Islam group PEGIDA strikes back across Europe

March 4, 2015

 The far-right anti-Islam movement, the Patriotic Europeans against the Islamization of the West (PEGIDA), that long suffers from losing support and credibility, has come to the fore again while spreading across Europe. The group became a widespread phenomenon throughout Europe with many copy-cat groups emerging in various countries such as Belgium, Denmark and the U.K. The U.K branch of the German group PEGIDA, which congregated at Newcastle's Big Market, held anti-Muslim rallies on Sunday, attracting only around 2,000 protesters. PEGIDA has received considerable support from far-right groups and organizations such as the National Front, the British National Party (BNP) and the English Defense League (EDL).

Other than the U.K., the Belgian branch of Germany's anti-Islamic PEGIDA movement staged their rally on Monday night in Antwerp in order to promote anti-Muslim rhetoric and sentiments in the country. The group receives support from Vlaams Belang, a right-wing party. Vlaams Belang's leader, Filip Dewinter condemned Belgian authorities for not allowing an anti-Islam rally in Antwerp. The group also decided to hold anti-Islam marches in various Belgian cities in order to gather more support from Belgians against the "Islamization" of their country.

The founder of PEGIDA, Lutz Bachmann, stated that "This March will be the month of a European spring," while calling for more protests against the Muslim community and immigrants in Europe. Four weeks after his resignation, the ex-leader of PEGIDA, Bachmann was re-elected as member of the far-right group's managing board on Feb 23. German media stated that the 42-year-old Bachman decided to return in an effort to revive the far-right movement that has lost popularity and credibility among its supporters. The movement came under fire after a Hitler selfie of the head of PEGIDA movement surfaced. The far-right PEGIDA movement rejected Bachmann's postings on social media, stating that it would harm the interest of the movement. Bachmann was being accused of making disparaging comments about asylum seekers. With this selfie, the movement's assertion of not being tied to neo-Nazi groups was widely discredited, its xenophobic and racist elements having been exposed.

Apart from Lutz Bachmann, Tatjana Festerling from the German far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) party reportedly joined PEGIDA's top officials. There has been a strong correlation between Germany's Eurosceptic and anti-immigrant AfD party, and the troubled PEGIDA movement. Promotion of hatred for Muslims and immigrants serves the rise of the AfD party. The anti-Islam marches have been held in several German cities, but primarily in the eastern city of Dresden, attracting many with anti-Islam views. While the anti-Islam marches continued to take place in several German cities, the AfD has increased it votes in both eastern and western states in state elections.

Full report at:

http://www.dailysabah.com/europe/2015/03/03/antiislam-group-pegida-strikes-back-across-europe

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Obama Prioritizes Weakening Russia, Over Weakening ISIS

By Eric Zuesse

March 03, 2015

Michael Snyder noted at Global Research on March 1st, that the U.S. is now air-dropping weapons into ISIS territory inside Syria. The U.S. is arming ISIS against Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad, whom Obama wants to remove. Snyder asks rhetorically: “We have the most sophisticated military on the entire planet and yet we drop weapons into the hands of the enemy by mistake? Come on.” Can it be that the U.S. Air Force doesn’t have maps showing the half of Syria that’s controlled by ISIS? Of course not. ISIS’s chunk of the country constitutes almost the entire north-eastern half of Syria.

Snyder further notes:

“When it comes to airstrikes [against ISIS], the Obama administration has had an ‘Iraq first’ policy.  This has put ISIS on a defensive posture in Iraq, but this has actually encouraged expansion of ISIS in Syria. ISIS is just following the path of least resistance. Is Obama trying to discourage ISIS from committing troops and resources in Iraq because he actually wants them to focus on taking down the Assad regime in Syria?”

Well, it’s certainly working. Snyder also notes that, “ISIS has almost doubled the land it controls in Syria since the US-led coalition began airstrikes against the extremist group in the summer, a new map has revealed.” He points out the obvious conclusion: “Obama knows all of this. He just wants to take down Assad.”

He closes with the question: “So is Barack Obama actually trying to help ISIS take over Syria?” However, Snyder ignores one crucial thing: the reason why Obama is so obsessed with causing regime-change in Syria.

Full report at:

http://www.globalresearch.ca/weapons-for-the-islamic-state-isis-weapons-and-sanctions-against-russia-obama-prioritizes-weakening-russia-over-weakening-isis/5434466

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‘Jihadi John’ condemned 9/11, London bombings

4 March 2015

LONDON: The London graduate believed to be Islamic State executioner “Jihadi John” once denounced the 9/11 attacks and the 2005 bombings in the British capital, according to an audio recording released Tuesday.

In a conversation with a member of British rights group Cage, Emwazi described how in 2009 he was interviewed by a British officer, reported to be from domestic spy agency MI5.

Asked about his views on the New York and London attacks and the war in Afghanistan, Emwazi — speaking in a London accent — condemned the loss of life, but complained that his interrogator did not believe him.

“I said, after what I told you, after I told you that what’s happening is extremism, this and that, and you’re still suggesting that I’m an extremist?” he said.

“And he started going on trying to put words into my mouth to say: ‘No you’re doing this, this and this, and we’re going to keep a close eye on you Mohammed — we already have been and we’re going to keep a close eye on you’.”

Full report at:

http://www.arabnews.com/middle-east/news/713376

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India

 

Arrest of an Indian in Saudi Arabia over Haram ‘Temple Photo’

March 03, 2015

JEDDAH — An Indian man has been arrested for posting offensive photos of the Holy Haram in Makkah. The man allegedly posted photos of the Kaaba being replaced by a Hinduism temple on his Facebook account.

The man said he saw it posted on Facebook and clicked the like button, which made it viewable to his friends. Lawyer and former member of the Bureau of Investigation and Public Prosecution Saleh Al-Ghamdi said the man’s crime deserves a maximum of five years in prison and up to SR3 million in fines. He added the information crimes prevention charter lists the following as information crimes: posting, sharing, saving and creating offensive content that violates the general law, religious values, societal principles and privacy on the Internet; human trafficking online or using the Internet and websites to facilitate it; creating or sharing pornographic content online; and using the Internet to deal in drugs and narcotics. Another lawyer and former member of the Bureau of Investigation and Public Prosecution Saad Al-Malki said the man has committed a grave crime by posting the photo and should be penalized by the Jeddah Penal Court.

http://www.saudigazette.com.sa/index.cfm?method=home.regcon&contentid=20150304235667

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India to rent Haj buildings for five years

March 03, 2015

JEDDAH —  The Indian government is now in the process of finalizing a two-year-old Supreme Court judgment which called for devising a five-year Haj framework instead of pursuing what it termed an annual ad-hoc arrangement.

Former union minister and national spokesperson of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) Syed Shahnawaz Hussain is here to initiate the process of selecting accommodation for pilgrims for a period of five years instead of the current practice of renting buildings for one year at a time.

“It is the thrust of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Foreign Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj to make sure that pilgrims coming from India don’t face any problems,” he said in an exclusive interview with Saudi Gazette.

Shahnawaz, who is the chairman of the long-term accommodation selection committee, listed two major problems which pilgrims face while undertaking the journey of a lifetime: Poor quality of air transportation and accommodation in the two holy cities.

He said he has recommended that Air India should itself transport the pilgrims or outsource it to regular airlines instead of chartering old and ill-maintained aircraft.

For long-term accommodation, building owners have been urged to contact the Indian consulate directly without the involvement of any middlemen.

“We are planning to rent buildings with accommodation capacity of 25,000 to 50,000 pilgrims. After the reduction in the Haj quota, we get applications from 35,000 people opting for Category A accommodation. So we are looking to rent buildings in the green zone to accommodate all of these pilgrims in one place,” said the BJP leader.

Full report at:

http://www.saudigazette.com.sa/index.cfm?method=home.regcon&contentid=20150304235755

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Ex-serviceman caught 'spying' for Pakistan in Amritsar

Mar 4, 2015

AMRITSAR: The state special operations cell (SSOC) of the Punjab police's intelligence wing has arrested an ex-servicemen allegedly spying for Pakistan and recovered sensitive material. The cops claim to have seized photographs of vital installations, movement of Army vehicles, handmade maps of restricted areas, photocopies of restricted training manuals of the Army and information regarding attack formation from his possession.

A press release issued by SSOC on Tuesday informed that the spy identified as Sukhwinder Singh is a resident of Sangrur and was allegedly working for Pakistani intelligence agencies. Sukhwinder, a former soldier who retired from 21 Sikh Light Infantry in 2005, was serving as a security guard in a private warehouse in Channo village of Sangrur district. He was arrested on a specific input by a team of SSOC, led by inspector Harvinderpal Singh and inspector Balbir Singh from Bhawanigarh town in Sangrur.

Full report at:

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/Ex-serviceman-caught-spying-for-Pakistan-in-Amritsar/articleshow/46450763.cms

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Indo-Pak talks held, Indian Foreign Secretary raises concerns on cross-border terrorism

March 3, 2015

New Delhi/Islamabad: Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar said on Tuesday that he was glad to be in Islamabad as part of the Prime Minister Narendra Modi's SAARC Yatra initiative.

Interacting with the media after his talks with his Pakistani counterpart Aizaz Ahmed Chaudhary, Jaishankar said that India would like to work with Pakistan to help SAARC achieve its potential.

He further said, “Pakistan is next SAARC Chair,” adding that his visit to Pakistan has provided both the nations opportunity to discuss bilateral relations.

“Visit provided opportunity to discuss bilateral rltns (Indo-Pak), engaged on each other’s concerns & interests in open manner,” Jaishankar said.

Further reiterating his concerns over the ceasefire violations, Jaishankar said, “I reiterated our known concerns on cross border terrorism, including on Mumbai case.”

"Naturally, my visit provided an opportunity to discuss our bilateral relations. We engaged on each other's concerns and interests in an open manner. We agreed to work together to find common ground and narrow differences. I reiterated our known concerns on cross-border terrorism, including on the Mumbai case. We agreed that ensuring peace and tranquillity on the border was vital. Our talks were held in a constructive and positive atmosphere," he added.

Full report at:

http://zeenews.india.com/news/india/indo-pak-foreign-secretary-level-talks-held-jaishankar-raises-concerns-on-cross-border-terrorism_1555472.html

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Telangana constitutes panel for Muslim reservation

March 4, 2015

Hyderabad: The Telangana government on Tuesday constituted a commission to study the socio-economic and educational status of Muslims in the state and recommend increase in the quantum of reservation for the community.

Muslims in Telangana currently enjoy four percent reservation in education and employment.

The commission has been constituted by Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) government as a follow-up on its poll promise to provide 12 percent reservations to Muslims.

The three-member commission to be headed by retired IAS officer G. Sudhir will submit a report to the government within six months.

An order issued by the minorities welfare department said there was a need for the study to enable the government to formulate policies for the amelioration and upliftment of Muslims to bring them on par with other sections of society.

The commission will recommend the steps to be taken to remove the impediments in the improvement of the overall social, educational, economic conditions of the Muslim Community and to provide for reservation in education and employment to poor deserving Muslims, wherever necessary.

Full report at:

http://zeenews.india.com/news/telangana/telangana-constitutes-panel-for-muslim-reservation_1555966.html

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South Asia

 

Car bomb kills 8 in Afghanistan’s Helmand

Mar 3, 2015

A car bomb has killed eight people, including security officials, in Afghanistan’s southern province of Helmand.

Five civilians, two soldiers and a police officer were killed on Tuesday as a powerful bomb was detonated remotely in the Sangin district.

“A terrorist driving an explosives-laden car blew it up next to a military convoy … at around 2 p.m.,” said Omar Zawak, the spokesman for the governor of Helmand Province.

The official said the blast wounded nine other people, among them a number of security officials.

Deputy governor Mohammad Jan Rasoul Yar told a local news agency that the attack was carried out in the Shakar Shila neighborhood of Sangin, a major hub of puppy production in Afghanistan.

No one has claimed responsibility for the deadly attack, but officials say the bombing bears the hallmark of Taliban explosions.

Full report at:

http://www.presstv.in/Detail/2015/03/03/400037/Car-bomb-kills-8-in-Afghanistan

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Court refuses to entertain Khaleda’s pleas

March 04, 2015

A Dhaka court today refused to entertain petitions filed by BNP Chairperson Khaleda Zia seeking withdrawal of two arrest warrants issued against her in two graft cases.

As per law, none can file such petition on behalf of any fugitive accused, Judge Abu Ahmed Jamadar of the special judge's court-3 said after hearing the petitions.

http://www.thedailystar.net/khaleda-won-t-surrender-defence-67700

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Afghan army suffering heavy combat losses, desertions: US

March 4, 2015

WASHINGTON: Afghan security forces are suffering heavy casualties on the battlefield and large numbers of troops are resigning or deserting their units, a new report said on Tuesday.

The US military also has overestimated the size of the Afghan police and army by a significant margin, the special inspector general for Afghanistan reconstruction, John Sopko, said in a report to Congress. The Afghan army “continues to suffer serious combat losses,” SIGAR wrote.

Between October 2013 and September 2014, more than 1,300 Afghan army troops were killed in action and 6,200 were wounded.

The Pentagon insists the Afghan forces are holding their own against Taliban insurgents after the bulk of Nato combat forces withdrew last year. But senior US officers have voiced concern over the “unsustainable” casualty rate.

Full report at:

http://www.dawn.com/news/1167124/afghan-army-suffering-heavy-combat-losses-desertions-us

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Siraj Master massacred Bagerhat villagers

March 4, 2015

A prosecution witness yesterday narrated how war crimes accused Sheikh Sirajul Haque alias Siraj Master stabbed around 20 villagers before shooting almost all of them dead at Kandapara Bazar of Bagerhat on June 18, 1971 during the Liberation War.

“He was so infamous for killing innocent civilians that after the Liberation War, he was locked in a cage at Shilpakala Academy of Bagerhat for the people to see,” the 24th prosecution witness, Sheikh Mustafizur Rahman, told the International Crimes Tribunal-1.

Later, Prosecutor Syed Sayedul Haque told The Daily Star that Siraj Master was put on trial for the massacre immediately after the Liberation War but got released in 1976 during the regime of Ziaur Rahman.

Mustafizur said he along with other freedom fighters went to Kandapara Bazar around 10:00am while suddenly the war crimes accused accompanied by other Razakars and the Pakistani army attacked the marketplace.

The witness said they took shelter in a nearby garden and saw Siraj Master leading Razakars to Beshorgati village.

Around one and a half hours later, the Razakars brought around 25 villagers to Kandapara Bazar beating them indiscriminately. The detainees were taken to a nearby canal.

“Accused Siraj Master stabbed them (detainees) with his knife and ordered others (Razakars) to cut the rest,” the witness said. “Later, they shot all dead.”

The Razakars left the area before sunset.

Full report at:

http://www.thedailystar.net/city/siraj-master-massacred-bagerhat-villagers-67650

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Southeast Asia

 

Indonesia moves Australian convicts to execution island

04 Mar 2015

Two Australian drug smugglers in Indonesia were taken from their Bali prison to an island where they are to be executed, as the Australian leader said his country was "revolted" by their looming deaths after frantic diplomatic efforts to save them.

Andrew Chan, 31, and Myuran Sukumaran, 33, were taken to the airport in two armoured cars from the island's Kerobokan jail on Wednesday.

They are being transferred to Nusakambangan island, where several high-security prisons are located, the AFP news agency reported.

The men, members of the so-called "Bali Nine" were convicted of trying to smuggle heroin out of Indonesia in 2005 and sentenced to death the following year.

Local justice ministry official Nyoman Putra Surya said that the two men were woken up early and were given a few minutes to get ready.

The pair said "thank you" before leaving, and "we handcuffed them and they were quiet", he added.

Officials said they would be transferred on a chartered commercial flight, not on a military aircraft as had earlier been suggested.

Attorney-General Muhammad Prasetyo said on Tuesday that execution preparations were "95 percent" complete, and the last stage was gathering all the prisoners on Nusakambangan.

Australia 'revolted'

Speaking just before the transfer began, Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott, who has repeatedly called for Jakarta not to go ahead with the executions, said millions of Australians were sickened by the developments.

Full report at:

http://www.aljazeera.com/news/asia-pacific/2015/03/indonesia-australian-drug-smugglers-execution-150304020613042.html

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Malaysian teen in Syria is now pining for mum

March 04 2015

After taking up arms in Syria five months ago, Malaysian teenager Hidayat Azman is now pining for his mother.

Hidayat, also known as Abu Islam, who just turned 19 three weeks ago, posted on Saturday, “I miss u mum….love u forever” on his Facebook together with a photograph showing his lonely existence in a barren land.

Hidayat, who went to a hut school in mainland Penang before briefly continuing his studies in Egypt, claimed he went to Syria last year with his mother’s blessing.

Hidayat said he also missed Malaysia, as he was thrown into a whole different world at a time when he was just learning the meaning of life.

He appeared to have been influenced to join the militants three years ago by a Facebook friend.

Full report at:

http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2015/03/04/malaysian-teen-syria-now-pining-mum.html

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Malaysia still top choice for Muslim travellers

Mar 04, 2015

SINGAPORE: Malaysia is the most preferred global destination in the fast-growing Muslim travel market, despite two catastrophic air disasters that hit the country's flag-carrier in 2014, a survey showed Wednesday (Mar 4).

Turkey, the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Indonesia followed Malaysia in the ranking of choice holiday destinations for Muslim travellers, said a report by Islamic travel specialist Crescentrating and payments giant MasterCard.

The report evaluates countries in terms of their attentiveness to the needs of Muslim travellers, including the presence and accessibility of "halal" restaurants with food prepared to Islamic standards, and the provision of prayer rooms at airports, shopping malls and hotels.

Scores in these and other variables were tabulated into a Global Muslim Travel Index in which Muslim-majority Malaysia came on top with a score of 83.8, followed by Turkey (73.8), UAE (72.1), Saudi Arabia (71.3), Qatar (68.2) and Indonesia (67.5).

"For Muslim travellers, Malaysia still remains the top choice simply because it is a great holiday destination for families while offering a very Muslim-friendly environment," said Crescentrating chief executive Fazal Bahardeen.

"This includes everything from excellent attractions, halal food, accommodation, shopping to places for prayers. Malaysia has one of the best infrastructures for the Muslim traveller," he told AFP.

Fazal said 5.9 million Muslim visitors visited Malaysia in 2014, up from 5.7 million in 2013.

The report, the first carried out jointly by Crescentrating and MasterCard, involved 81 non-Muslim country destinations and 29 Muslim nations.

Full report at:

http://www.samaa.tv/international/04-Mar-2015/malaysia-still-top-choice-for-muslim-travellers

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Philippine army seizes Muslim rebel bomb factory as peace plan flounders

Mar 2, 2015

Philippine soldiers have seized a Muslim rebel base and bomb factory in the south, a spokesman said on Monday, as a shaky peace process with the largest Muslim rebel group presents President Benigno Aquino's with his toughest political test.

Howitzer batteries pounded positions of the splinter Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) on the southern island of Mindanao, near where 44 police commandos were killed in January.

The army launched an offensive against the splinter group two weeks ago, a potential spoiler in the government's peace process with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).

On Jan. 25, police commandos sneaked into a rebel area to "neutralize" Zulkifli bin Hir, alias Marwan, an al Qaeda-linked bombmaker with a $5 million U.S. bounty on his head.

The mission went disastrously wrong for the government when members of the police Special Action Force were ambushed by combined MILF and BIFF forces and 44 were killed. It has become President Benigno Aquino's toughest test in his five years in office, casting doubt on his policy to talk peace.

Aquino has promised the MILF autonomy in a southern region known as Bangsamoro in exchange for peace in the predominantly Christian country.

Full report at:

http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/03/02/us-philippines-rebels-idUSKBN0LY0SM20150302

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Students, Muslim community members light candles at UP Cebu to seek justice for SAF 44

March 4, 2015

Students and members of the Muslim community in Cebu early this week lit candles to call for justice for 44 Special Action Force troopers killed in a clash in Mamasapano, Maguindanao last Jan. 25.

The inter-faith candle-lighting activity was held at the Oblation square of the University of the Philippines campus in Cebu on Monday afternoon, GMA Cebu reported Tuesday.

Present at the gathering were representatives of the National Commission on Muslim Filipinos, Bagong Alyansang Makabayan, and some teachers and students.

Full report at:

http://www.gmanetwork.com/news/story/446277/news/regions/students-muslim-community-members-light-candles-at-up-cebu-to-seek-justice-for-saf-44

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Malaysia to join ranks of nations with laws against terror

March 04 2015

Malaysia will join the ranks of other countries that have in place anti-terrorism laws when a Bill is tabled in Parliament this month.

Among those countries that have laws to combat the threat of terrorism are Australia, Canada, New Zealand, Pakistan, the United States and the Philippines.

In the United States, the Homeland Security Act 2002 was a response to the September 11 terror attack on the New York World Trade Center in 2001.

That law paved the way for the formation of the US Department of Homeland Security to protect the United States from terrorists and in the event of natural disasters.

Malaysia’s neighbour in Southeast Asia, the Philippines, has an anti-terrorism law called the Human Security Act 2007.

Full report at:

http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2015/03/04/malaysia-join-ranks-nations-with-laws-against-terror.html

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Five-man panel to decide on anti-terror detention

March 4, 2015

PUTRAJAYA: The proposed anti-terrorism law is precisely what it is described as and not a replacement for the Internal Security Act, 1960 that was repealed in 2012.

The Bill for the proposed Prevention of Terrorism Act will be tabled in Parliament next month.

While the proposed Act would allow for detention of a suspect for two years without trial, Home Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi reiterated, “It is not a move to revive the ISA as claimed by some people.

“The power to detain an individual has been taken away from the Home Minister and will rest with the (five-member) advisory board.”

It is purely a preventive law to deal with domestic terrorist threats and foreign terrorists coming into the country, Zahid told The Star Online in Kuala Lumpur after sending off the 10th International Monitoring Team to Mindanao in the Philippines.

The proposed Act would not be used to silence the Opposition, he said.

A person with at least 15 years of judicial experience would chair the board and the other four members must have a legal background or be a senior police officer.

Zahid said the proposed Act, modelled after the Prevention of Crime Act, would complement the Security Offences (Special Measures) Act and the Penal Code, both of which are applied only after a crime is committed.

Full report at:

http://www.freemalaysiatoday.com/category/nation/2015/03/04/five-man-panel-to-decide-on-anti-terror-detention/

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Mideast

 

Yemen’s Hadi wants reconciliation talks moved to Saudi Arabia

3 March 2015

Yemeni President Abd Rabbu Mansour Hadi called Tuesday for troubled U.N.-brokered reconciliation talks to be moved to neighboring Saudi Arabia if agreement cannot be reached on a venue inside Yemen.

The call came as at least 32 people were killed in clashes between Shiite Houthi gunmen and Sunni tribesmen backed al-Qaeda militants in central Yemen, tribal source said.

The talks, which had been held in the Shiite militia-held capital Sanaa, have broken down since Hadi escaped to second city Aden last month after weeks under effective house arrest.

The Western-backed president, who withdrew a January resignation offer after his escape saying it had been made under duress, had proposed that the talks resume in Aden or in Yemen’s third city Taez, which is also outside the control of the Houthi militia.

“As Aden and Taez are not accepted by some, I call for shifting the talks to the headquarters of the GCC in Riyadh,” Hadi told tribal chiefs.

He also called for the six-member Gulf Cooperation Council, which group’s impoverished Yemen’s oil-rich neighbours, to sponsor the talks, an aide said.

The Houthis, who control much of northern Yemen and have set up their own government institutions in the capital, have opposed any change of venue for the U.N.-brokered talks.

The General People’s Congress party of ousted strongman Ali Abdullah Saleh, who is widely accused of backing the militia, has warned that it will boycott any talks held outside Sanaa.

It is by no means clear that Riyadh will be any more acceptable as a venue to the Houthis or their supporters.

Full report at:

http://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2015/03/03/Yemen-s-Hadi-wants-reconciliation-talks-moved-to-Saudi-Arabia.html

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Ad banned in UK for implying al-Quds part of Israel

Mar 4, 2015

The British advertising watchdog has banned an Israeli tourism advertisement for referring to the Old City of al-Quds Jerusalem as part of Israel. 

The brochure portrayed a panorama of the walled Old City with a text saying "Israel has it all", and was ruled incorrect by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA), AFP reported on Wednesday.

ASA said that the advertisement implied that the UNESCO World Heritage Site was part of Israel and not part of the occupied Palestinian territory, which is quite contrary to the international community’s regard.

Following the compliant, ASA ruled that such ads were misleading and banned them from further use.

Full report at:

http://www.presstv.in/Detail/2015/03/04/400144/Ad-banned-for-saying-alQuds-part-of-Israel

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Assad accuses Erdogan of supporting Takfiris

Mar 3, 2015

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has accused Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of supporting ISIL Takfiri militants.

Assad made the comments while meeting with a delegation of Turkish opposition figures in the Syrian capital Damascus on Tuesday.

“This is what the Turkish government under President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is doing, providing support to extremist and Takfiri forces to win the favor of his masters through implementing their plots,” Hürriyet Daily News quoted Syria's official news agency SANA as reporting on Tuesday.

The visiting delegation, led by Dogu Perincek, the head of the ultranationalist Land Party, includes various members of Turkish opposition parties.

"Erdogan leads with a destructive policy that does not serve at all the interest of his people, by supporting Takfiri" militants, Assad said.

He added that real cooperation among countries is required to battle the “scourge of terrorism.”

Full report at:

http://www.presstv.in/Detail/2015/03/03/400123/Assad-accuses-Erdogan-of-backing-Takfiris

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Kingdom, Turkey enter ‘a new era of cooperation’

3 March 2015

Saudi Arabia and Turkey are embarking on a “new era” in their relations after talks between the nations’ leaders on Sunday, which included Yemen, Syria and Iran’s nuclear program, a senior diplomat said on Monday.

Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan led the talks, accompanied by senior officials from both sides. “The wide-ranging talks between the two leaders were very fruitful,” said Adel bin Siraj Mirdad, Saudi ambassador to Turkey.

The visit “will open a new era of relations between the Kingdom and Turkey,” said Mirdad. The gathering marks a thaw in diplomatic ties between the two countries, several Saudi and Turkish officials said, but did not divulge more details.

Mirdad confirmed that the leaders discussed bilateral ties, the Middle East peace process, Yemen, Syria, Libya, Palestine, the threat of the Islamic State group and Iran’s nuclear program. “Turkey is an important country with which the Kingdom has had historic cordial relations,” said the envoy.

He said a number of “critical and dangerous issues were tackled by the two leaders very candidly” within the framework of the bilateral consultations on Sunday. The nations are crucial role players in regional peace and security initiatives, said Mirdad.  A top Turkish diplomat said that King Salman and Erdogan touched on all bilateral and regional issues during their meeting. “No separate meeting was held between Erdogan and other high-ranking Saudi officials, because all top Saudi and Turkish officials were present at the talks and at the lunch banquet,” he added.

Full report at:

http://www.arabnews.com/saudi-arabia/news/712976

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Israel ‘must investigate’ Gaza civilian killings

 4 March 2015

A United Nations envoy called on Israel on Tuesday to investigate the killing of more than 1,500 Palestinian civilians, one third of them children, during the 2014 Gaza war, and to make the findings public.

Makarim Wibisono, a former Indonesian ambassador, issued his first report to the U.N. Human Rights Council since becoming its special rapporteur on human rights in the Palestinian territories last June.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry accused the forum on Monday of being obsessed by allegations of Israeli abuses and said the United States would defend Israel against efforts to isolate it.

Some 2,256 Palestinians were killed during the July-August conflict, of whom 1,563 were civilians including 538 children, while 66 Israeli soldiers and five civilians died, Wibisono said. Israel says it launched the offensive after rocket attacks by militants operating out of the Islamist Hamas-ruled strip.

"The stark disparity in casualty figures on the two sides ... reflects the (skewed) balance of power and the disproportionate cost borne by Palestinian civilians, raising questions as to whether Israel adhered to the international law principles of distinction, proportionality and precautions," Wibisono said.

Full report at:

http://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2015/03/04/Israel-must-investigate-civilian-killings-in-Gaza-war-.html

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Israeli-Arab lecturer leaves behind multitude of questions

March 04, 2015

LAHORE - Participation of an Israeli-Arab lecturer in a scientific conference organised by the Punjab University recently has raised many eyebrows, forcing the quarters concerned to probe the matter and fix the responsibility for inviting the man from a country regarded as an enemy of Pakistan.

Another question being looked into is how the man skipped the watchful eyes of the security services, as the matter came to limelight only when an Israeli newspaper broke the story.

The conference of some 200 physicists and mathematicians from various countries was sponsored by the University of the Punjab, the Pakistani Academy of Sciences, the International Centre for Theoretical Physics and the International Mathematical Union.

Members of the security services, sharing some details on the issue with The Nation on Tuesday, put the entire burden on the host, the ‘invitee party’ of the Israeli-Arab lecturer, and said, “According to procedure, the security sections responsible for clearing the foreigners’ visits to Pakistan in most of the cases rely on the inquiries of the host who gives an undertaking about the visiting national of any country. The sections concerned run special background checks only for those foreign visitors who come on their radar for different reasons or fall in the grey or negative lists. There are no other avenues to check the background of a foreigner who has no previous record in the abovementioned categories and the only avenue is the confirmation of the information of the visiting guest from his/her host.”

Full report at:

http://nation.com.pk/national/04-Mar-2015/israeli-arab-lecturer-leaves-behind-multitude-of-questions

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Pakistan

 

 

India lacks political will to resolve issues with Pakistan: Hina Rabbani

March 04, 2015

Karachi- Former foreign minister Hina Rabbani Khar said that despite considering herself as an optimist, she could not see any positive coming out of today’s foreign secretary level talks, between Pakistan and India.

Speaking in a program, she said that bilateral ties between the two South Asian neighbors were at an all-time low. “We can’t consider today’s talks a big development as ties are at the lowest,” she said. “There were no big events like Samjhota Express or Mumbai attacks to be blamed for the relations to get this worse,” she said. Khar said the government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi was not serious in resolving issues with Pakistan. “Pakistan has political will to resolve issues. However, Indian side lacks it.”

Full report at:

http://nation.com.pk/national/04-Mar-2015/india-lacks-political-will-to-resolve-issues-with-pakistan-hina-rabbani

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Army reiterates to deal with terrorists with iron hand

March 04, 2015

ISLAMABAD: Chief of Army Staff General Raheel Sharif on Tuesday said that the only aim of the armed forces was to wipe out terrorism and win the war against terrorism in a big way with national support and unity.

He also took stock of repeated attacks on anti-polio vaccination teams and reiterated that culprits behind this saga would be taken to task. The army chief shared these reported views as the top military command reviewed prevailing internal and external security situation of the country including progress on the ongoing operation Zarb-e-Azb and Khyber-1 at the 180th Corps Commanders’ Conference, held here at the General Headquarters (GHQ) on Tuesday.

General Raheel Sharif chaired the Conference that discussed various professional matters and the problems faced by the armed forces during various operations. A comprehensive review of operational preparedness was made besides prevalent internal and external security situation of the country including progress of the ongoing operation Zarb-e-Azb and Khyber-1 and the National Action Plan (NAP).

Full report at:

http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/islamabad/04-Mar-2015/army-reiterates-to-deal-with-terrorists-with-iron-hand

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Pakistan, Kabul welcomes slow withdrawal of US troops: Jilani

March 04, 2015

Washington- Pakistan's Ambassador to the United States Jalil Abbas Jilani has said that Islamabad and Kabul would welcome a slow withdrawal of American troops from Afghanistan.

Talking to reporters in Washington, he said Pakistan is shouldering a heavier responsibility in its counter terrorism efforts along the Afghan border, amid US troop’s drawdown in neighboring Afghanistan.

Full report at:

http://nation.com.pk/national/04-Mar-2015/pakistan-kabul-welcomes-slow-withdrawal-of-us-troops-jilani

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Husain Haqqani calls for 'decisive shift' on Kashmir

March 4, 2015

LONDON: Pakistan's former ambassador to US Husain Haqqani has said Pakistan must change its approach to the Kashmir issue, the Economic Times reported.

He made the statement while delivering a lecture titled 'Pakistan, Afghanistan and a history of mistrust" at the Royal Institute of International Affairs, Chatham House.

Mr Haqqani urged the political leadership to give up the "ideological obsession" with Kashmir stating they no longer enjoy the support of the international community in this regard.

He called for the need of a "decisive shift" in Pakistan's approach to the issue.

"Pakistan needs to have the kind of approach China has over Taiwan. It doesn't need to give up its claim but it needs to move on other issues first," Haqqani said

He stressed on the need for Pakistan to refocus its efforts towards internal affairs, saying "we need to take a more pragmatic approach ..."

He called India "an imaginary threat" during his lecture, alleging that rhetoric rather than reality is the basis of enmity between the two neighbours, adding:

"Parity with India is not an attainable objective, as quite simply size matters. India's economy is 10 times larger. It is a kind of psychological and political insecurity that has held Pakistan back. The best strategy would be to focus inward."

Mr Haqqani has been a vocal critic of military intervention in Pakistani politics in the past while serving as Pakistan's ambassador to US between 2008 and 2011.

Stumbling blocks in Pak-India relationship

Although he said he was pleased to hear about the FO-level talks between Pakistan and India on Tuesday, he was quick to add that "the fundamentals of the relationship are yet to be addressed."

Full report at:

http://www.dawn.com/news/1167308/husain-haqqani-calls-for-decisive-shift-on-kashmir

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Three policemen killed, DPO injured in Balochistan violence

March 4, 2015

QUETTA: Armed militants on Tuesday evening killed three policemen and injured the District Police Officer (DPO) Sherani in Balochistan's Loralai district.

Levies sources told Dawn the militants opened indiscriminate fire at the DPO's vehicle in Spira Ragha area of Loralai.

They said the DPO Muhammad Shakir and two police personnel sustained bullet wounds during the attack.

The injured DPO and policemen were initially shifted to a nearby hospital, later on they were moved to Quetta for medical treatment.

The assailants managed to escape in the nearby mountains in Spira Ragha.

Levies said the DPO along with police guards were coming from a meeting with senior police officers in Loralai, when they were ambushed.

There has been no claim of responsibility for the attack. Sherani, Loralai, Zhob and Killa Saifullah have been considered to be sensitive districts in the aftermath of recent crackdown against militants.

Full report at:

http://www.dawn.com/news/1167113/three-policemen-killed-dpo-injured-in-balochistan-violence

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Drone attacks case adjourned indefinitely

March 04, 2015

Islamabad- Islamabad High Court (IHC) has adjourned indefinitely hearing of murder case of two persons killed in drone attacks, 5 years before in the area of Mir Ali at South Waziristan being Justice Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui on leave.

The hearing of drone attack case could not take place in IHC today, as justice Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui was on leave. Mirza Shahzad Akbar counsel for the petitioner Karim Khan and Rauf legal counsel for police appeared in the court. The court had ordered for registration of murder against former chief station of CIA and legal counsel, in respect of two persons killed in drone strike on previous hearing. The court had summoned IG Police Islamabad and directed him to register FIR, with regard to murder case of two persons.

Full report at:

http://nation.com.pk/national/04-Mar-2015/drone-attacks-case-adjourned-indefinitely

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Afghan refugees born in Pakistan reluctant to repatriate

March 04, 2015

Islamabad - “In early 80s my father migrated to Pakistan. I was born in Sadda Town of Kurram Agency. After the death of my father in 1992, we moved to Rawalpindi and I started work in an automobile workshop. I married during my stay in Rawalpindi and have fathered four children. My children consider Rawalpindi as their hometown and they even can’t imagine leaving it.”

Zadran Khan, an Afghan national who lives in Chah Sultan Bazaar of Rawalpindi, said this while talking to The Nation. He is worried for his family, as the government has started crackdown on Afghan migrants following militants’ deadly attack on Army Public School Peshawar in December 2014.

“Afghans feel insecure since the attack; we think anytime we could be sent back to our homes,” said Zadran who for the last time visited his village Nangar Khel in Paktika province of Afghanistan in 1999. “I have no residence there and it would be very difficult for people like me to adjust in war-torn Afghanistan.”

Some relatives of him, through unfair means, got Pakistani nationality but it was his greed for “ration and other facilities as Afghan refugees” that he did not try to get Pakistani nationality. “I have POR (proof of registration)” with validity date of December 31, 2015 but the current situation shows that we would be compelled to leave the country before the expiry of the cards.”

According to UNHCR, Pakistan hosts almost 1.5 million registered Afghan refugees while the aid agency has facilitated the return of 3.8 million registered Afghans from Pakistani since 2002. “To complement UNHCR and partners’ international support, the government of Pakistan has extended Afghan refugees’ Proof of Registration (PoR) cards until the end of 2015, issued birth certificates for 800,000 Afghan refugee children, provided land for several refugee villages, and given refugees access to public schools and health clinics.” However, Afghan refugees say that the treatment of police and other law-enforcement agencies are making them to flee the country well before December 2015.

 “Police have started harassing us just for our Afghan background. Despite holding PoR, they (police) are treating us harshly,” said Wali Khan, a fruit vender in Fruit Market Islamabad.  The Afghanis complain that all the Afghans should not be treated like the same.

They agree that some of the Afghan nationals might be involved in terrorism related activities in Pakistan but the whole Afghans should not be punished. “Pakistani Taliban are also behind many terrorist activities in Afghanistan,” he alleged and added  “but Kabul never expel Pakistanis who are doing jobs in Afghanistan.”

Full report at:

http://nation.com.pk/islamabad/04-Mar-2015/afghan-refugees-born-in-pakistan-reluctant-to-repatriate

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Pakistan arrests parents for refusing polio vaccination

March 3, 2015

Pakistan authorities have arrested hundreds of parents who refuse to vaccinate their children against polio, officials said Tuesday, as community opposition and Taliban threats block efforts to eradicate the crippling disease in one of its last strongholds of the often fatal virus.

Frustrated officials turned to police to deal with parents influenced by some clerics who decry government vaccination campaigns as a tool to weaken Islam, according to Pervez Kamal, director of health for Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa region in the northwest.

"There was no other option. We have run so many awareness campaigns for the parents and general masses that there is no harm in the vaccine, but to no avail," Kamal said.

Pakistan reported 306 polio cases last year, far and away the largest share of the 359 cases worldwide recorded by the Global Eradicate Polio Initiative.

Kamal said on Tuesday that a list of "chronic" refusal cases has been prepared and warrants issued for more than 1,000 "So far, we have arrested 471 parents and efforts are under way to capture others," a police officer in Peshawar said.

Once a common childhood disease, polio — which can cause paralysis and mostly affects children under age five — has declined by 99 percent in the last 25 years with aggressive vaccination campaigns, according to the WHO.

Polio has made a comeback in Pakistan since the Taliban, seeking to topple the state and establish strict Islamic rule, began targeting government health workers conducting vaccine campaigns.

Full report at:

http://america.aljazeera.com/articles/2015/3/3/pakistan-arrests-parents-for-refusing-polio-vaccination.html

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North America

 

US prosecutor seeks death for suspect in killing 3 Muslims

4 March 2015

CHAPEL HILL, North Carolina: Prosecutors plan to seek the death sentence for a man accused of killing three Muslim students in North Carolina last month.

Durham County District Attorney Roger Echols filed papers in court that show he plans to seek the death sentence if Craig Stephen Hicks is convicted of first-degree murder.

Hicks has been charged with killing 23-year-old Deah Shaddy Barakat; his wife, 21-year-old Yusor Mohammad Abu-Salha; and her sister, 19-year-old Razan Mohammad Abu-Salha, on Feb. 10.

Full report at:

http://www.arabnews.com/featured/news/713191

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'Meet a Muslim Family' hospitality challenges misconceptions

Mar 03 2015

The Choudhry family has an unconventional strategy for fighting Muslim youth radicalization — inviting strangers into their Woodbridge home.

On Sunday, the family invited 14 non-Muslim Canadians to join them for a casual late lunch. The gathering was part of a two-week campaign called “Meet a Muslim Family,” in which Muslim families throughout Canada invited community members into their home for the purpose of uniting Canadian families and dispelling misconceptions about Muslims and Islam.

“There’s one way to learn about Muslims — which is turn on CNN, and you’ll see people on fire and buildings blowing up and bombs being dropped — or, you can actually see real Muslims in your neighbourhood who have been living here for decades,” said Safwan Choudhry, one of the campaign’s organizers.

Choudhry, 26, and two friends came up with the campaign after witnessing a spate of negative attention on, or negative treatment of, Muslims in the media. He pointed to a Quebec judge’s recent refusal to hear a woman’s case because she was wearing a hijab and to terror charges laid against Canadians with alleged ties to ISIS.

“I think any non-Muslim Canadian, hearing all this chatter, surely has to be concerned, if not worried, that like, ‘What is going on?’” he said.

Choudhry said he hopes the initiative draws attention to similarities between non-Muslims and Muslims — he mentioned his family’s interest in skiing and snowboarding and love for Tim Hortons coffee.

Full report at:

http://www.thestar.com/news/gta/2015/03/03/meet-a-muslim-family-hospitality-challenges-misconceptions.html

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Tennessee's Latest Bill Bans Nonexistent Muslim 'No-Go Zones'

04/03/2015

Julia Craven

WASHINGTON -- Muslim communities in Tennessee may soon be penalized for allegedly being too unwelcoming of those who don't practice the Islamic faith.

The issue centers around "no-go zones." In January, a pundit on Fox News claimed that there were neighborhoods in France and the United Kingdom that had been taken over by Muslims and were off-limits to others. The claim, however, was false, and the network apologized.

But last month, Tennessee state Rep. Susan Lynn (R) and state Sen. Bill Ketron (R) introduced legislation in the House and Senate aimed at ridding the state of no-go zones, or, as the bills describe them, "contiguous geographical area[s] consisting of public space or privately owned public space where community organizing efforts systematically intimidate or exclude the general public or public workers from entering or being present within the area."

The Council on American-Islamic Relations said that even though Muslims are not specifically singled out in the legislation, it appears to be motivated by Islamophobia.

"The whole fantastical notion of a no-go zone, which has been disproven by even Fox News, is almost gospel on the right wing of the political spectrum now," CAIR spokesman Ibrahim Hooper told The Huffington Post after likening the zones to unicorns. "It's just utter nonsense but, [as] with so much in the Islamophobia industry in the United States ... it passes for statesmanship in the current climate."

Robert McCaw, CAIR's government affairs manager, recently wrote a letter to leading lawmakers in the Tennessee General Assembly requesting that they abandon the legislation.

The bill does not explicitly target or single out any particular group that may be at risk for creating "no-go zones." But according to Lynn, some constituents have expressed feelings of discomfort when in areas they consider sketchy.

"And as you know, when there's activity happening where people sort of feel intimidated, there's not exactly a sign up on the wall," Lynn told The Tennessean. "But it's just an overall feeling of intimidation."

Full report at:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/03/03/tennessee-no-go-zones_n_6795028.html?ir=India

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Commons committee on anti-terror law to hear from retired spies, judges and politicians

Mar 03 2015

By: Alex Boutilier

OTTAWA—The House of Commons committee studying the Conservatives’ controversial new anti-terror law is expected to call retired spies, former politicians and some of Bill C-51’s harshest critics to testify.

A draft witness list obtained by the Star shows the committee will invite about 70 people to fill the 48 speaking slots on the bill.

The list includes former Supreme Court justices, lawyers and academics, as well as retired politicians. Law enforcement and security officials, both active and retired, are also expected to appear to discuss the legislation. High-ranking officials from some of Canada’s closest security partners will also be invited to testify.

But the list does not include four former prime ministers — John Turner, Joe Clark, Jean Chrétien and Paul Martin — who have been publicly critical of the bill. The New Democrats hoped to call the four to testify before the committee.

The Conservatives, who enjoy a majority on the committee, originally intended to limit testimony on the bill to just four meetings, but later conceded to eight.

The hearings will begin next Tuesday with an appearance by Public Safety Minister Steven Blaney, the sponsor of the bill, and Justice Minister Peter MacKay.

According to the committee’s list, other potential witnesses include:

Maher Arar, whose rendition and torture in Syria led to a federal inquiry into Canada’s security agencies’ co-operation with American spies.

Justice Dennis O’Connor, the former associate chief justice of Ontario who led the Arar inquiry.

Full report at:

http://www.thestar.com/news/canada/2015/03/03/commons-committee-on-anti-terror-law-invites-testimony-from-retired-spies-judges-homeland-security.html

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Government warned of homegrown online anti-Islam threat

MAR 04, 2015

OTTAWA — Canada's spy agency is eyeing the threat of a homegrown anti-Islam movement spreading online.

The Canadian Security Intelligence Service advised the office of Public Safety Minister Steven Blaney of its concerns during a secret September briefing.

The agency flagged well-known warnings of the persistent menace posed by terrorist groups al-Qaida, Hezbollah and the more violent and radical Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, or ISIL, say notes obtained through the Access to Information Act.

But under the heading Domestic Extremism, the spy service also underscored what might be the flip side of that coin — the recent development "of a Canadian online anti-Islam movement, similar to ones in Europe."

The spy agency characterized it as an "ongoing risk, particularly as its proponents advocate violence."

The Sept. 18 briefing for Blaney's office came a little more than a month before soldiers were killed in Canadian attacks just two days apart — murders committed by young men that authorities say were motivated by Islamic extremism.

Shortly after the killings, there was vandalism of mosques in Ottawa and Cold Lake, Alta., threats against the B.C. Muslim Association, and a general increase in reports of public bullying and harassment of Muslims.

However, the spy agency is likely more interested in the kind of anti-immigrant, anti-Islam sentiment that has taken root in some parts of northern Europe, even among the middle class, said Lorne Dawson, a University of Waterloo sociology professor and co-director of the Canadian Network for Research on Terrorism, Security and Society.

"They're just not used to dealing with immigrants at all, let alone immigrants that are quite different," Dawson said of Europe. "We have a much longer track record of immigration in general — waves and waves of immigrants that have come for decades."

Dawson suspects the agency is motivated by the horrific July 2011 slaughter of 77 people in Norway by Anders Behring Breivik, who penned a manifesto outlining his far-right ideology, including an extreme anti-Muslim outlook.

"In Europe, it tends to attract violent individuals. So if (there's) any chance it's starting to take wings in Canada, then you can see why they're concerned," he said. "I suspect they're just seeking due diligence to be on top of this at the earliest possible moment in light of Breivik."

Full report at:

http://www.thespec.com/news-story/5458005-government-warned-of-homegrown-online-anti-islam-threat/

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US Muslim Teen Defeats Stereotyping

03 March 2015

NEW JERSEY – Challenging misconceptions and stereotypes about his faith, a sixteen-year-old American Muslim teen has created a multi-platform organization to embrace "acceptance and tolerance" and create an active community.

“Many people had prejudice and misconceptions about my faith, even when I was little,” Ziad Ahmed told MTV News on Monday, March 2.

“The media paints a picture of Islam, and many minorities, in a way that’s detrimental to the public’s perception of them,” he added.

Ahmed is a sophomore at Princeton Day School in Princeton, New Jersey.

Facing stereotyping from early age, the Bangladeshi-American practicing Muslim teen announced his decision to create Redefy.

Redefy is a multi-platform organization whose mission is “to boldly defy stereotypes, embrace acceptance and tolerance, redefine our perspectives positively, and create an active community.”

“I deal with prejudice every day and have my entire life,” he said, “from being put on the TSA watch list as a child because of my name and having to go to a separate counter to get my tickets … to being constantly told I am ‘cute for a brown kid.’

“I started Redefy to initiate a positive change in the world and to fight the ignorance which I have been victim to,” Ziad said.

“And more importantly, to fight the ignorance which people will fall victim to who may not have the opportunity to properly defend themselves or understand that there are people who accept them and love them for exactly who they are.”

Redefy operates as a website where people can share their experiences with prejudice.

They can also post personal reflections on current events where stereotyping and acceptance are part of a national and/or personal conversation.

Full report at:

http://www.onislam.net/english/news/americas/483537-us-muslim-teen-defeats-stereotyping.html

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Netanyahu rips possible US nuclear deal with Iran

March 04, 2015

WASHINGTON - With 59 of the 232 members of Congress from US President Barack Obama’s Democratic Party boycotting and top White officials absent, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netayahu Tuesday warned Washington against accepting a nuclear deal with Iran that would be a ‘countdown to a potential nuclear nightmare’ by a country that “will always be an enemy of America”.

In a 39-minute address to the joint session of US Congress, Netanyahu accused the US of negotiating a ‘bad deal’ with Iran. He said that the nuclear agreement would provide Iran “with a short breakout time for a bomb.”

In accepting an invitation by House Speaker John Boehner, a Republican, to deliver the address before consulting the White House, Netanyahu made overt a tacit alliance between his conservative Likud Party and the Republican Party.

Netanyahu’s critics in Israel and the US argued he appears to be using the speech in a bid to boost his standing with hawkish Israeli voters a few weeks before he stands for reelection.

But Netanyahu argued he had a moral obligation to denounce US efforts to cut a deal with Iran that the prime minister says would do too little to limit Iran’s efforts to develop nuclear weapons.

“If the deal now being negotiated is accepted by Iran, that deal will not prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons - it will all but guarantee that Iran will get those nuclear weapons - lots of them.

Netanyahu said Iran’s regime was ‘as radical as ever,’ could not be trusted and the deal being worked out with world powers would not block Iran’s way to a bomb “but paves its way to a bomb.”

Full report at:

http://nation.com.pk/national/04-Mar-2015/netanyahu-rips-possible-us-nuclear-deal-with-iran

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Muslims sue FBI in death of Boston suspect’s friend

March 04, 2015

MIAMI - A civil rights group for Muslims have said it will sue the Federal Bureau of Investigation over the 2013 shooting death of a friend of a Boston Marathon bombings suspect.

Ibragim Todashev, 27, was killed after a violent altercation with investigators following lengthy questioning at his apartment in Orlando, Florida in May 2013.

The FBI said Todashev had pulled a knife on investigators and tried to grab an agent’s gun following questioning on his role in the Boston bombings.

But the Florida chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) disputes the version of events.

“Around midnight, after five hours of interrogation, (Agent Aaron) McFarlane shot Todashev.

Seven times.

Todashev was unarmed with any gun, knife, explosive, or other deadly weapon,” CAIR said in a statement.

“Todashev did not pose a threat of serious bodily harm to McFarlane or any other person.

No viable justification has been offered to account for McFarlane’s shooting and killing Todashev.

Full report at:

http://nation.com.pk/international/04-Mar-2015/muslims-sue-fbi-in-death-of-boston-suspect-s-friend

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URL: http://www.newageislam.com/islamic-world-news/new-age-islam-news-bureau/islamic-state-militants-‘cherry-pick-the-quran-for-their-own-ends,’-experts-say/d/101821

 

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