New Age Islam
Sun Oct 25 2020, 01:03 PM

Islamic World News ( 6 Oct 2019, NewAgeIslam.Com)

Jammu And Kashmir Pandits, Muslims Feast Together, Celebrate Navaratra







Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front ‘Azadi March’ Elicits Tepid Response in PoK

Human Rights Watch said To Pakistan Today: End Ordeal for ‘Blasphemy’ Defendants

China Accused Of Genocide Over Forced Abortions Of Uighur Muslim Women As Escapees Reveal Widespread Sexual Torture

‘The Unforgiven’: Qatar’s Al-Ghufran Tribe Fights For Justice — And Right To Citizenship

Islamists, Jailed Tycoon Claim Tunisian Parliament Victory

U.S. Airstrikes Kill, Wounded More Than 70 Taliban Militants In Badghis

Iranian, Iraqi Nation Connected Through Faith, Enemy Plot To Sow Discord Will Fail: Leader

 

India

Jammu And Kashmir Pandits, Muslims Feast Together, Celebrate Navaratra

Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front ‘Azadi March’ Elicits Tepid Response in PoK

Representing India on Indo-Bangladesh project with sedition charges against me: Shyam Benegal

Nusrat Jahan, TMC MP, dances as husband plays ‘dhaak’ on Durga Ashtami

Sonia accepts Hasina’s invitation to visit Bangladesh

JeM terrorist arrested in J&K's Baramulla

Pakistan violates ceasefire along IB and LoC in J&K

200 to 300 terrorists active in J&K, Pakistan trying to push in more: DGP

NC leaders visit Farooq and Omar, seek their release before polls; PDP cleared to meet Mufti

Detained Mehbooba Mufti to meet PDP delegation from Jammu tomorrow

In Alwar, 2 arrested for forcing Muslim couple to chant ‘Jai Shri Ram’

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Pakistan

Human Rights Watch said To Pakistan Today: End Ordeal for ‘Blasphemy’ Defendants

Protesting JKLF Marchers Stopped in PoK before LoC

Fazl threatens to shut down country if hurdles faced during ‘Azadi March’

Pakistan-China friendship higher than Himalayas, says Sheikh Rasheed

British govt asked to play role in Kashmir issue settlement

FATF partially happy with Pakistan

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Southeast Asia

China Accused Of Genocide Over Forced Abortions Of Uighur Muslim Women As Escapees Reveal Widespread Sexual Torture

Critic Slams ‘Totally Absurd’ Proposal To Add ‘Sunni’ In Malaysian Constitution

Fight child marriage by ending poverty, says SIS

TV project is first step in tackling Islamophobia

Asian, Melanesian: Reorienting Indonesia's foreign policy

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Arab World

‘The Unforgiven’: Qatar’s Al-Ghufran Tribe Fights For Justice — And Right To Citizenship

Hundreds of Drones, Military Equipment Sent to Tahrir Al-Sham in Northern Syria, 13,000 Terrorists Deployed in Hama, Lattakia

Arab Paper: Al-Fagham Killed by MbS for Relaying Yemen War Intel to Saudi King

Eight people killed and 25 wounded in fresh clashes in Iraqi capital Baghdad

Iraq blames 'malicious' hands as toll from unrest tops 100

Iraq’s Abdul Mahdi announces list of legislative, financial reforms

Iraqi protesters vow to continue regardless of government offers

Saudi Arabia’s civil aviation authority continues to receive tourists through e-visa

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Africa

Islamists, Jailed Tycoon Claim Tunisian Parliament Victory

Boko Haram: Zulum Hires 30 Nigerian Imams Living In Saudi To Pray For Borno

Boko Haram Terrorists Burn Emir’s Palace In Yobe

Leah Sharibu’s school shut over fear of Boko Haram attack

Gov Sule urges Muslim faithful to pray for peace in Nigeria

Exit poll shows Islamist Ennahda party first in Tunisia election

UN peacekeeper killed, five wounded in Mali

At least 23 killed in Burkina Faso militant attack

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South Asia

U.S. Airstrikes Kill, Wounded More Than 70 Taliban Militants In Badghis

Special Forces kill, wound 18 Taliban militants in Ghazni province

Bangladesh: Opposition Demands Cancellation Of Pacts Signed With India

US releases 11 Taliban leaders in prisoners swap deal

India, Bangladesh call for safe return of Rakhine refugees

Taliban militants release 43 abducted residents of Ghazni province

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Mideast

Iranian, Iraqi Nation Connected Through Faith, Enemy Plot To Sow Discord Will Fail: Leader

Over 120 Settlers Violate Aqsa Mosque Protected By Israeli Forces

Israeli minister seeks ‘non-aggression’ pacts with Arab nations

Representative of Iran’s Khamenei calls on Iraqis to attack ‘spy den’ US embassy

Khamenei says ‘enemies seek to sow discord’ between Iran and Iraq

Iranian army deploys surveillance systems on border with Iraq

Iranian protesters blame health authorities for HIV outbreak

Turkish NBA star ‘shocked’ by harassment outside mosque

Europeans in no position to quit nuclear deal: Iran FM

Israel, Arab states agree to advance 'alliance': Report

Houthis killed in clashes with Yemeni army

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Europe

France Probes Security Agency 'Threats' After Police Killer With High-Level Clearance Revealed As Islamic 'Radical'

Greece moves 570 migrants from overcrowded camp

Germany wants closer cooperation with Turkey: Minister

Counter-terror police running secret Prevent database

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North America

Anti-Muslim Group ACT for America Planned Gala at Mar-a-Lago

Calgary Muslim association says chairperson’s house attacked in alleged arson attempt

US to withdraw troops as Turkey launches Syria operation: White House

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau

URL: http://www.newageislam.com/islamic-world-news/new-age-islam-news-bureau/jammu-and-kashmir-pandits,-muslims-feast-together,-celebrate-navaratra/d/119933

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Jammu And Kashmir Pandits, Muslims Feast Together, Celebrate Navaratra

Oct 7, 2019

BUDGAM/SRINAGAR/ ANANTNAG: Around a peepal (sacred fig) tree, where knots of red threads and coconuts lie at the prominent Durga Nag temple on Srinagar’s iconic Dalgate, Gulshan Akhtar and Babita Bhatt, sarpanch of Khar Ladoo village, can’t stop exchanging notes on their diet patterns. The belly-laughs follow.

Bhajans and aartis blare out from the loudspeakers as the jovial duo talk about the Ashtami’s bhandara (community feast). As the Valley’s first Navaratra — an elaborate, 9-day Hindu festival — since the annulment of Article 370 comes to an end, hundreds of Kashmiri Pandits and Muslims on Sunday came together to partake of community feasts in the Valley’s prominent temples and shrines. Politicians, bureaucrats, and retired Army personnel from both communities also took part in the feasts.

TOI visited iconic Hindu shrines of Budgam’s Chandoora, Anantnag’s Mattan, and Srinagar’s Durga Nag temples to get the vibes firsthand. At many of these shrines, hundreds of Muslims even work as employees of the temple trusts. Muslim women like Raziya Ali, Nikhat, and Inayat who come from Srinagar’s Habba Kadal area and work at Hindu temple trusts, insist neither Article 370, nor its absence, would in any way diminish the brotherhood and bond between the two communities.

“I am one of the 17 Muslim employees who work at this Hindu trust. We have prepared and arranged today’s feast. We look upon this festival as though it were a part of our own tradition,” Raziya tells TOI.

Only around 2,520 Hindu families live across Srinagar, Kulgam, Shopian, Budgam, Kupwara, Handwara, Baramulla, and Uri, which include Dogras, Kashmiri Pandits, and Rajputs while the number of Sikh families in these districts is around 50,000 Sikh.

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/srinagar/jammu-and-kashmir-pandits-muslims-feast-together-celebrate-navaratra/articleshow/71472554.cms

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Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front ‘Azadi march’ elicits tepid response in PoK

Oct 07, 2019

Shishir Gupta

The Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front’s (JKLF) “Azadi march” from various locations in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (Pok) to the Line of Control (LoC) has failed to elicit a rousing response from the people, forcing the organisers and the Pakistani deep state to alter their plans several times during the last three days, according to officials in the Indian security establishment who are closely monitoring the situation.

Though it was estimated that over 100,000 would participate in the march – led by JKLF’s PoK president Toqeer Gilani instead of its acting president Abdul Butt – Indian security estimates suggest that at no point did more than 7,000 to 8,000 people gather for the march.

People familiar with the matter said this was because of Islamabad’s continued failure to make an impact with the international community over the Kashmir issue, and the mixed signals sent over official sanction for the march.

“As per the scheduled plan, the breach [of the LoC] was to occur on October 4, but given the poor response, it was decided to build further momentum and mobilise more people and push the breach on October 5,” according to an internal note by the Indian security establishment. HT has reviewed a copy of the note.

The call for the march was put out by JKLF’s central spokesperson Mohammad Rafiq Dar. It began on Friday from various locations in PoK, including Bhimber, Kotli, Mirpur, Samani, Nikiyal and Bagh, and via Muzaffarabad, was to breach the LoC at Chokthi, opposite Jammu and Kashmir’s Uri.

The idea behind the march was to showcase to the global community the groundswell against India’s moves to revoke Jammu & Kashmir’s special status and to break it up into two Union Territories. The people familiar with the matter indicated that, to this end, militant groups including the Lashkar-e-Taiba and the Hizbul Mujahideen were also asked to actively associate with the march.

But, on October 5, Prime Minister Imran Khan urged the protesters not to breach the LoC, saying anyone crossing over – even if to provide “humanitarian aid” or “support” for people in Kashmir -- would “play into the hands of the Indian narrative”.

This, according to the Indian security note, was one of the “mixed signals” that led the people to believe the march was a “futile exercise” and to their “lukewarm” response.

Tensions between India and Pakistan have flared since New Delhi effectively revoked Article 370, which bestowed special status to Jammu & Kashmir, and bifurcated the border state into two Union Territories. India has consistently maintained that the decision to revoke J&K’s special status was an internal matter taken to bolster law-and-order and usher in industrial development and investments. Pakistan has tried on several occasions, including at the recently concluded United Nations General Assembly, to internationalise the issue but with little success.

https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/jklf-march-elicits-tepid-response-in-pok/story-AW4Vzv6ZNUymBHltmUSEwI.html

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Human Rights Watch said To Pakistan Today: End Ordeal for ‘Blasphemy’ Defendants

October 6, 2019

(New York) – The Pakistan Supreme Court’s decision to quash the conviction of a man who had spent almost 18 years in prison for blasphemy spotlighted abuses inherent in the law, Human Rights Watch said today. On September 25, 2019, the court ruled that the prosecution failed to provide substantial evidence against Wajih-ul-Hassan, who had been sentenced to death in 2002 for writing allegedly blasphemous letters.

Pakistan’s government should drop the charges, order the release of all detainees held for blasphemy, and revise the blasphemy law with the ultimate aim of repealing it.

“The overturned conviction of a man imprisoned for 18 years highlights just one of many miscarriages of justice stemming from Pakistan’s vaguely worded blasphemy law,” said Brad Adams, Asia director. “Typically, it’s members of religious minorities or other vulnerable communities who are wrongly accused and left unable to defend themselves.”

Section 295-C of Pakistan’s penal code, known as the blasphemy law, carries what is effectively a mandatory death sentence. According to the Center for Social Justice, a Pakistani advocacy group, at least 1,472 people were charged under the blasphemy provisions from 1987 to 2016. Although there have been no executions, at least 17 people convicted of blasphemy are currently on death row, while many others are serving life sentences for related offenses.

A mere accusation of blasphemy can put the security of the accused at risk. Since 1990, at least 65 people have been killed in Pakistan over claims of blasphemy, based on media reports.

Among the most egregious blasphemy cases is that of Junaid Hafeez, a 33-year-old university lecturer who was arrested for blasphemy on March 13, 2013, in Multan, Punjab province. Hafeez has been in solitary confinement since June 2014. His trial has had numerous delays and is now before the eighth judge since it began in 2013.

On May 7, 2014, Rashid Rehman, who had been Hafeez’s lawyer, was fatally shot in his office in Multan, in apparent reprisal for representing Hafeez and others charged under the blasphemy law. Rehman had been threatened with “dire consequences” for defending Hafeez.

On October 31, 2018, Pakistan’s Supreme Court overturned the conviction of Aasia Bibi, who had spent eight years on death row. She was convicted under Pakistan’s blasphemy law after a June 2009 altercation with fellow farm workers who had refused to drink water she had touched, contending it was “unclean” because she was Christian. When pro-blasphemy law clerics threatened violence after the Supreme Court decision, Prime Minister Imran Khan in a televised speech said that the clerics were “inciting [people] for their own political gain,” and were “doing no service to Islam.”

Killings of people who have criticized the blasphemy law have had a chilling effect on efforts to reform the law. On January 4, 2011, Salmaan Taseer, the governor of Punjab province, was killed by his own security guard because Taseer had sought to repeal the blasphemy law. And on March 2, 2011, unidentified assailants killed the federal minorities affairs minister, Shahbaz Bhatti, an outspoken critic of the law.

The law has been increasingly used to jail and prosecute people for social media comments. In September 2017, Nadeem James, a 35-year-old Christian, was sentenced to death for forwarding a poem that was deemed insulting to Islam to a friend. In April 2014, a Christian couple was sentenced to death for sending an allegedly blasphemous text message to a local cleric.

The blasphemy law is often brought against members of religious minorities, frequently to settle personal disputes. But the government rarely brings charges against those responsible for physical attacks on people accused of blasphemy. In May, riots erupted in Mirpurkhas, Sindh, after a Hindu veterinarian was accused of committing blasphemy for allegedly providing medicines wrapped in a paper with Islamic verses printed on it. In an unusual law enforcement response, he was taken into protective custody and six people were charged with rioting.

Pakistan’s government should repeal sections 295 and 298 of the penal code, which includes the blasphemy law and the law discriminating against the Ahmadiyya religious community. The government should also promptly and appropriately prosecute those responsible for planning and carrying out attacks against religious minorities.

“The Supreme Court took an important step by ending Hassan’s horrific ordeal, though many more charged with blasphemy are languishing in Pakistani prisons,” Adams said. “Repealing the blasphemy law is necessary to ensure that all Pakistanis can live free from fear of unjust punishment and discrimination.”

https://www.hrw.org/news/2019/10/06/pakistan-end-ordeal-blasphemy-defendants

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China accused of genocide over forced abortions of Uighur Muslim women as escapees reveal widespread sexual torture

October 7, 2019

The women have found refuge from Chinese authorities across the border in Kazakhstan, their ancestral homeland. But they remain haunted by the stories of abuse they carry with them.

Some said they were forced to undergo abortions in China’s Muslim-majority province of Xinjiang, others that they had contraceptive devices implanted against their will while in detention.

One reported being raped. Many said they were subjected to sexual humiliation, from being filmed in the shower to having their intimate parts rubbed with chili paste.

The allegations come as China expands a years-long crackdown on its Muslim minority, which includes not only Uighurs but also Kazakhs and other ethnic groups.

While the experiences described could not be independently verified, local rights groups and lawyers say they are common and reveal a wider pattern of abuse directed specifically against women, aimed at curbing their ability to reproduce.

In December 2017, Gulzira Mogdyn, a 38-year-old ethnic Kazakh and Chinese citizen, was detained in Xinjiang after a visit to Kazakhstan because WhatsApp was found on her phone.

She was placed under house arrest and examined by doctors at a nearby clinic, who discovered she was 10 weeks pregnant.

Officials told her she was not allowed to have what would be her fourth child. The following month, Ms Mogdyn said, doctors “cut my foetus out” without using anaesthesia. She still suffers from complications.

“Two humans were lost in this tragedy – my baby and me,” Ms Mogdyn said during an interview on the outskirts of Almaty, Kazakhstan’s largest city.

She received her Kazakh citizenship in July and says that has emboldened her to speak out. She is also pressing Beijing for a response: either financial compensation or, at least, an apology.

Others are still constrained. A Kazakh woman with close relatives remaining in China was forced to undergo two abortions, in 2016 and 2017, while living in Xinjiang, her lawyer said.

Aiman Umarova, a Kazakh human rights advocate and US State Department honouree, said her client is seeking refuge in a Kazakh city and does not wish to be identified for fear of retribution.

Ms Umarova sees the women’s stories as forming a pattern.

“Sexually violating women, including stopping them from reproducing, has become a weapon for China against its Muslim population,” she said.

The US government and human rights groups estimate that between one million and three million Muslims have been detained in Chinese “re-education camps” since 2017, most of them Uighurs.

The Washington Post spoke with two men, including an Australian citizen named Almas Nizamidin, who suspect that their wives, both Uighurs still in detention in Xinjiang, were forced to terminate their pregnancies at a camp in 2017.

Under China’s one-child policy, abortions and contraceptives were encouraged – and often enforced – by officials tasked with keeping the population down. Exceptions were granted for ethnic minorities, who were allowed one more child than Han Chinese.

The policy was abandoned three years ago, but that has not prevented the recent move to curb ethnic populations, said Leta Hong Fincher, a scholar and expert on gender equality in China. “There is a clear tightening of control over the reproductive rights of ethnic minorities,” she said.

In addition to mistreating detained women, rights groups and experts say Beijing has pursued a campaign to erase Muslim culture in Xinjiang, by pushing interethnic marriages and sending Chinese officials for “home stays” with Muslim families, part of efforts by president Xi Jinping’s government to assimilate ethnic minorities.

All of this amounts to genocide as laid out by the UN Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, said Rushan Abbas, founder and executive director of the Washington-based Campaign for Uyghurs.

“And as with so much in Chinese culture, women are being targeted, as they are viewed as less valuable,” said Ms Abbas, who said her sister was abducted in Xinjiang a year ago and has not been heard from since.

Some allegations extend further back. After the Urumqi riots in 2009, which analysts say triggered the harsh security measures now in place across Xinjiang, Islamic studies student Ruqiye Perhat was held in various prisons for four years.

There, the Uighur woman says, she was repeatedly raped by Han Chinese guards, resulting in two pregnancies.

“Any woman or man under age 35 was raped and sexually abused,” she said through an interpreter from Turkey, where she now lives. Both pregnancies were forcibly aborted while she was in prison, said Ms Perhat, who is now 30.

Several female former detainees said they suspect that when younger and unmarried women were taken from their packed cells at night – to be returned the next morning or not at all – they were raped by guards.

“They’d come in and put bags on the heads of the ones they wanted,” said Gulzira Auelkhan, a 40-year-old woman in the Kazakh village of Akshi who spent 18 months in the camps.

In May, an open letter written by a former guard at a Xinjiang camp appeared to support the women’s claims. His account, which was posted by activists, has not been independently verified.

The ethnic Kazakh man, called Berik, said Chinese officers would watch women in their cells through a monitor before selecting one to take out. “There are two tables in the kitchen, one for snacks and liquor, and the other for ‘doing things’,” he wrote.

Other women contacted by The Washington Post described widespread sexual harassment at the camps, echoing public comments last month by Sayragul Sauytbay, an ethnic Kazakh woman wanted by China for disclosing information about the camps. Kazakhstan allowed her to resettle in Sweden in June.

Several said they were forced to shower and use the toilet in groups, in rooms outfitted with cameras. Ms Auelkhan said female guards used chewing gum to pull on her pubic hair. Married women offered conjugal visits were ordered to swallow unknown pills afterward.

Ground chili peppers mixed with water in small glass jars were given to several women before showering. Once naked, they were ordered by female guards to smear the liquid on their genitals.

“It burned like fire,” one woman recalled.

Asked to respond to the allegations, China’s Foreign Affairs Ministry referred The Washington Post to a government paper released last month on plans to combat terrorism through education and training, including a section on “protecting trainees’ basic rights”.

“You wouldn’t raise such questions if you had carefully read the white paper,” the ministry said in a faxed response.

In July, when the United States was in the middle of a trade war with China, secretary of state Mike Pompeo called Beijing’s treatment of Uighurs “the stain of the century”. But elsewhere, the response has been tepid. Even Muslim-majority countries have stood by China.

Kazakhstan’s government has been among those hesitant to condemn the abuses attributed to its powerful eastern neighbour.

The country’s stability and resources have earned it the moniker of “buckle” of Mr Xi’s flagship Belt and Road infrastructure initiative, and Beijing’s affluent reach is visible in Kazakh cities.

But activists say Kazakhstan’s reluctance to upset China could be changing given the deluge of information coming out of Xinjiang, which is home to some 1.5 million Kazakhs.

Former detainees now living in tumbledown villages dotted about the golden steppe on the Kazakh side of the border are increasingly speaking out, even those with relatives in China.

“I didn’t want to talk about this for a long time. But if I don’t, who will?” said Rakhima Senbay, 32, standing in her friend’s house near the town of Taldykorgan. Although still a Chinese citizen, she has called Kazakhstan home since she was released from a camp late last year.

Shortly after Ms Senbay, who has four children, was detained in Xinjiang in late 2017, also for having WhatsApp on her phone, a female Chinese doctor forcibly fitted her with an intrauterine contraceptive device.

“I told her I didn’t want it, but she said it’s a must for all women going to the camp,” Ms Senbay said.

Gulzhan, a Kazakh activist who uses only her first name, said seven women have told her the same thing happened to them.

“That’s since I started four months ago,” she said. “Imagine how many more are out there.”

https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/asia/china-uighur-muslim-women-abortions-sexual-abuse-genocide-a9144721.html

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‘The Unforgiven’: Qatar’s Al-Ghufran Tribe Fights For Justice — And Right To Citizenship

OHAMMED AL-SULAMI

October 06, 2019

JEDDAH: In June, 1995, Qatar’s then Crown Prince Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani deposed his father, Sheikh Khalifa Al-Thani, the ruling emir, in a bloodless coup.

Sheikh Khalifa was outside the country when the overthrow took place, and the crown prince quickly gained the allegiance of other Al-Thani family leaders and key tribes in order to secure his position.

However, in February the following year, supporters of the emir joined a counter-coup in a bid to reinstall the deposed leader. It failed because the emir was unable to return to Doha airport in the agreed time.

Immediately afterward, the government arrested scores of Qataris, who were held in isolation before being stripped of their citizenship and deported.

That is also what happened with 6,000 members of the Al-Ghufran tribe, who have been forced from their homeland, and accused of masterminding the coup and attempting to assassinate Sheikh Hamad.

The Al-Ghufran tribe is a branch of the semi-nomadic Al-Murra group, one of the largest tribes in Qatar with more than 10,000 members, according to unofficial estimates. Most live in Qatar, and in the east and south of Saudi Arabia. It consists of several branches, including Al-Buhaih, Al-Fuhaidah, Al-Jaber and Al-Zaidan.

According to several members of the Al-Ghufran, the Qatari authorities’ persecution of the tribe dates back to June 25, 1995, when Sheikh Hamad deposed his father in a bloodless coup. The Qatari people were shocked at TV news of the overthrow, which took place when Sheikh Khalifa was on a trip abroad.

TIMELINE

Qatar Chronology:

June 27, 1995 - Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani deposes his father

Feb. 14, 1996 - Sheikh Khalifa stages counter-coup. Members of more than 17 Qatari tribes join the failed coup; more than 300 suspects arrested

1997 - Trial of 121 accused, including 21 members of the Al-Ghufran tribe, begins

2001 - Trial ends

2004 - Withdrawal of Al-Ghufran citizenship begins

2010 - Saudi King Abdullah intervenes to free 21 of those involved in the coup

After less than seven months, Qatari authorities announced they had foiled a counter-coup against Sheikh Hamad led by his father who had tried to return to Qatar. An arrest warrant was subsequently issued against Sheikh Khalifa through Interpol.

Rashed Al-Amrah, an Al-Ghufran tribe member and former Qatari police officer, was stripped of his citizenship by the Qatari government after the failed 1996 counter-coup.

“Some of us did not believe what happened, especially that the son perpetrated the coup against father since the father has great stature in the Islamic religion and, specifically, in Gulf communities,” he told Arab News.

“We have seen a number of citizens and a number of the Al-Thani family members pledge allegiance to the new sheikh as emir of Qatar.

“There was hearsay and statements made by Sheikh Khalifa that he will return to Qatar and reinstall the deposed emir. People were confused: Do they support Sheikh Hamad or stand with their former legitimate ruler? Many Qataris protested against the coup, asserting that Sheikh Khalifa is the rightful ruler of Qatar.”

Jaber Al-Kahla, an Al-Ghufran tribe member, was serving in the Emiri Guard on the night of the counter-coup. “I was 23 when my citizenship was revoked and working as a special agent of the guard of Crown Prince Sheikh Hamad,” he told Arab News.

“The night of the so-called coup, I was summoned to the service to carry out my military and national duty. A few days later, the commander of the tank, unit, Hazzaa bin Khalil, who is now the guard commander, summoned me and asked me: ‘Are you member of the Al-Ghufran tribe?’ I said yes. He listed some names of the same unit, who were my relatives and asked me if they also belonged to the tribe? I told him yes. He then said that we were suspended from work until further notice.”

It was a confusing time for many, as Al-Amrah recalls. “The Qatari people lived under the rule of the new emir, Sheikh Hamad, and I was an officer in the Qatari police,” he told Arab News.

“On Feb. 14, 1996, Sheikh Khalifa had told a number of his close relatives and supporters at home that he decided to return to Qatar via Doha military airport on the 27th of Ramadan, asking his supporters to receive him at the military airport.

“Everyone was ready for the return of the legitimate ruler, but the Qataris, including a number of the sons of Sheikh Khalifa, such as Sheikh Jassem bin Khalifa, the-then chief of staff Sheikh Mubarak bin Abdulrahman, and a number of Qatari tribes, including Al-Ghufran, did not know how Sheikh Hamad would react.

“In the event, Sheikh Khalifa could not return because his aircraft was prevented from taking off in France,” he said.

“Sheikh Khalifa then went to the UAE, specifically to Abu Dhabi, in the hospitality of Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al-Nahyan.

“At the time, I had traveled to Saudi Arabia for the Eid holidays and to visit relatives,” Al-Amrah said.

“After the failed coup, the Qatari authorities began to investigate and search for those who were supporting Sheikh Khalifa, a large number of whom were Qatari tribesmen and dignitaries belonging to the Al-Ghufran, Al-Kaabi, Al-Suwaidi, Bani Hajjar, Al-Abdullah, Al-Mouhannadi, Al-Kuwari and Al-Thani clans.

“Many members of the Al-Ghufran tribe who were in the security or armed forces were arrested and imprisoned, including Brig. Bakhit Marzooq Al-Abdullah, who was alleged to be the leader of the so-called coup,” he said.

“After Eid, we knew that there were orders to arrest and imprison all members of the Al-Ghufran clan attempting to return to Qatar. I was afraid for myself and my family, so I decided not to return until things were cleared up.

“We also knew that any Qatari outside Qatar who could not return to his country for fear of what would happen could go to Sheikh Khalifa in Abu Dhabi where he would be welcomed.

“Indeed, I headed to Abu Dhabi, where we were housed at the InterContinental Hotel and received a salary from Sheikh Khalifa. I stayed in Abu Dhabi for four years,” Al-Amrah said.

Qatari authorities charged a total of 121 people over the failed counter-coup. Trials (some in absentia) were held between November 1997 and May 2001.

Charges issued by the prosecutor general’s office included “attempting to depose Qatar’s emir by force,” “holding arms against the state of Qatar,” “disclosing military secrets” and “cooperating and conspiring with foreign countries.”

Hamad bin Jassem bin Jaber Al-Thani, then Qatar’s foreign minister, and Abdullah bin Khalifa Al-Thani, the prime minister, attended the trials as witnesses. At the end of the hearings, 19 alleged perpetrators were sentenced to death and 20 to life in prison, while 28 were acquitted.

None of those sentenced to death was executed.

Saleh Jaber Al-Humran, an Al-Ghufran tribe member, said: “I worked as a guard with Sheikh Khalifa’s guard unit. Before the events, I was absent from work for two consecutive months, so I was put in detention for a whole month.

“Once my detention ended, I wanted to visit my sick mother. On the same day I got out, the so-called coup took place and I was accused of taking part in it. My name was put on checkpoints without any guilt by my part, as I did not know what was going on outside my workplace.”

“This is what confuses us the most,” said Al-Kahla, who served in the Emiri Guard. “The Qatari government is still refusing to tell us the reasons behind revoking our citizenship, although it is its duty to justify such a decision.

“From 1996 and until 2019, the government failed to state the true reasons behind revoking our citizenship. The only answer we were given was that Al-Ghufran clan members have dual nationality.

“When I took part in the Human Rights Council in Geneva a few months ago, a media report broadcast about me said that my father took part in the coup. However, the government did not declare this,” Al-Kahla said.

“This is the real reason: We are accused of participating in the coup. My conclusion is that the revocation of citizenship was a reaction to the participation of 21 members of Al-Ghufran tribe in the attempted coup which was perpetrated by as many as 121 individuals, representing 17 Qatari tribes.

“There is nothing surprising in this, even if the justice system was not fair. Some of the accused were released several years later after announcing their innocence, but 6,000 innocent people were targeted without any accusation by the government,” Al-Kahla said.

In 2010, Saudi King Abdullah intervened to get 21 Al-Ghufran tribe members freed from prison, sending Prince Mutaib to secure their release.

Prince Mutaib flew the tribe members, who were still clad in prison outfits, to Jeddah, where they received new clothes and shoes before meeting the king.

https://www.arabnews.com/node/1565061/middle-east

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Islamists, jailed tycoon claim Tunisian parliament victory

By Bouazza Ben Bouazza

Oct. 7, 2019

TUNIS, Tunisia — Tunisia’s moderate Islamist party appeared to be heading for victory in parliamentary elections, according to polling agencies, though the rival party of a jailed populist tycoon also claimed to come out on top of Sunday’s voting.

The election is seen as important for the country’s economic and social stability — and as a bellwether for the upcoming presidential runoff between detained magnate Nabil Karoui and an independent law professor supported by the Islamists.

Two polling agencies, Emhrod Consulting and Sigma Conseil, estimated that Islamist party Ennahdha would win the most votes, and about 40 out of the 217 seats in the Assembly of People’s Representatives. The polls projected that Karoui’s Qalb Tounes party would come in second with 33 to 35 seats.

Each party held a news conference and said that they had won, according to their own estimations. Official results weren’t expected before Monday.

Economic concerns are paramount to voters in this North African nation on the Mediterranean Sea, which kicked off the Arab Spring uprisings in 2011 and built a new democratic system from scratch, but is struggling with high unemployment and attacks by extremists.

Turnout was just 41%, according to the election commission, and no party is expected to get a majority, meaning the winner will seek to create a coalition. Voters chose among nearly 16,000 candidates from more than 200 parties.

Ennahdha leader Rached Ghannouchi, whose party had the most seats in the outgoing parliament, said the election represented “a sign of maturity of Tunisian democracy.”

His party campaigned against corruption and against Karoui, whose party focused on promises to fight poverty. The businessman is accused of tax evasion and money laundering, but denies wrongdoing and says he’s being politically targeted.

For many Tunisians, the chance to vote in free elections is still special.

“I brought my son with me to show that elections are a right that he must have and must understand, how to choose the people who can help in his future,” voter Basma Arous said.

Security was tight for the vote, with around 100,000 police officers and soldiers patrolling 4,500 polling stations, notably along the sensitive borders with Algeria and Libya.

According to the Tunisian Constitution, the victorious party designates the prime minister.

The parliamentary election is sandwiched between rounds of a bizarre presidential race that will see Karoui face independent law professor Kais Saied in a runoff on Oct. 13.

The legislative election has aroused little public interest, which is more focused on the presidential race. The electoral commission reported scattered voting infractions, though in general international observers have praised Tunisia’s voting practices as free and fair.

Despite low public interest and the confusingly huge number of parties and candidates, political analysts say Sunday’s vote will have lasting impact.

“These elections are of paramount importance, because it is the winners who will decide the future of our country and our major political, economic and social choices,” analyst and former government minister Hakim Ben Hammouda said.

___

Angela Charlton in Paris, and Mehdi El Arem in Tunis, contributed to this report.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/africa/islamists-hope-to-stay-on-top-as-tunisians-choose-parliament/2019/10/06/98c5db14-e80b-11e9-b0a6-3d03721b85ef_story.html

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U.S. airstrikes kill, wounded more than 70 Taliban militants in Badghis

06 Oct 2019

The U.S. forces conducted airstrikes in support of the Afghan forces in Badghis province which killed or wounded more than 70 Taliban militants.

The Provincial Government said in a statement that the U.S. forces conducted the airstrikes the airstrikes in Baghak Zone located in the outskirts of Qala-e Naw, the provincial capital of Badghis.

The statement further added that the U.S. forces conducted the airstrikes to support the Afghan forces who were responding to a coordinated Taliban attack on security posts.

According to Governor’s Office, the airstrikes killed 42 Taliban militants and wounded at least 35 others.

The security forces confiscated 6 night vision goggles and a large quantity of weapons following the clash, the statement added.

The Taliban group has not commented in this regard so far.

https://www.khaama.com/u-s-airstrikes-kill-wounded-more-than-70-taliban-militants-in-badghis-04190/

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Iranian, Iraqi nation connected through faith, enemy plot to sow discord will fail: Leader

Oct 6, 2019

Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei has said that the Iranian and Iraqi nations are connected through faith and that an enemy plot seeking to sow discord between the two will fail.

"Iran and Iraq are two nations whose hearts & souls are tied together through faith in God, love for Imam Hussein and the progeny of the Prophet (PBUH). This bond will grow stronger day by day," the Leader's official Twitter account cited Ayatollah Khamenei as saying on Sunday.

"Enemies seek to sow discord but they’ve failed and their conspiracy won’t be effective," the tweet added.

Khamenei.ir

@khamenei_ir

#Iran and #Iraq are two nations whose hearts & souls are tied together through faith in God & love for #ImamHussain & the progeny of the Prophet (pbut). This bond will grow stronger day by day.

Enemies seek to sow discord but they’ve failed & their conspiracy won’t be effective. https://twitter.com/ar_khamenei/status/1180922270535032833 …

الإمام الخامنئي

@ar_khamenei

إيران و #العراق شعبان ترتبط أجسادهما وقلوبهما وأرواحهما بوسيلة الإيمان بالله وبالمحبّة لأهل البيت وللحسين بن علي؛ وسوف يزداد هذا الارتباط وثاقة يوماً بعد يوم. يسعى الأعداء للتفرقة، لكنهم عجزوا ولن يكون لمؤامرتهم أثر.#الحسين_يجمعنا

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2:07 AM - Oct 7, 2019

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The Leader's remarks comes as millions of pilgrims from Iraq, Iran and around the world are preparing to travel to the holy Iraqi cities of Najaf and Karbala to attend Arba'een, marking the 40th day after the martyrdom of the third Shia Imam, Hussein ibn Ali (Peace be upon him).

The gathering usually attracts more than 20 million participants every year.

Iraqis take pride in hosting pilgrims participating in Arba'een, many of which are from Iran. The event has consequently turned into a symbol of unity between the people of the two countries who deeply venerate Imam Hussein.

'US plot' in Iraq

The comments also come against the backdrop of several days of protests against mismanagement and corruption in Iraq, with certain demonstrations descending into violence and bloody clashes.

Speaking on Sunday, Iraq Interior Ministry spokesman Major General Sa'ad Ma'an Mousavi said a total of 104 people have lost their lives as result of the unrest.

More than another 6,000 have also been injured, he added.

Iraqi officials have claimed that "unidentified snipers" have shot at protesters and security forces in a bid to provoke clashes between the two.

Some Arab media outlets and observers have said that US-backed elements are trying to influence protests in a bid to create instability and push certain political agendas in the country.

Last week, the Lebanese Arabic-language daily newspaper al-Akhbar reported that Iraqi security sources have uncovered a US-backed plan seeking to install a pro-Washington government in Baghdad by provoking internal strife and instability in the country.

https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2019/10/06/608040/Plot-to-sow-discord-between-Iran-Iraq-will-fail

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 India

 

Representing India on Indo-Bangladesh project with sedition charges against me: Shyam Benegal

Kamaljit Kaur Sandhu

October 6, 2019

Veteran filmmaker and national award winner Shyam Benegal, who is among the 49 celebrities against whom an FIR has been lodged for alleged sedition, has said that he has "no slightest idea" why sedition charges have been filed against him.

Speaking to India Today TV, Shyam Benegal, who has been roped in for a film project jointly produced by India and Bangladesh, said he is representing India on a crucial Indo-Bangladesh project, "with sedition charges against me".

Shyam Benegal has been roped in by the Bangladeshi government and India to make a biopic on the life and works of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman.

"I am in Delhi representing India on Indo Bangladesh project while there is an FIR of sedition against me," he said.

He also said that he case makes "no sense" as their open letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, voicing concern over growing incidents of mob lynching, was "just an appeal" and "not any threat".

Calling the FIR against 49 celebrities "theatre of the absurd", Shyam Benegal was in Delhi on Sunday to meet Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina for the project.

Speaking to India Today TV, the acclaimed director said, "Here I am part of a meeting on India Bangladesh project at the highest possible level, with an FIR with sedition charges slapped against me."

"I have no slightest idea about what is happening."

Shyam Benegal said their open letter to PM Narendra Modi was "innocuous" in nature with no threat to anyone. "We were voicing concern over the growing incidents of mob lynching, which was just an appeal and not any threat. The charge of sedition was quite surprising," he said.

IT'S HEIGHT OF ABSURDITY: SHYAM BENEGAL

"Sedition is a conspiracy against the state. This is simply a letter of appeal. This is the height of absurdity. We just stated that there was an atmosphere of fear and we have to get rid of fear. Who can get rid of it? The PM of the country runs the state. So, we appealed him?" he said.

He also said that he does not wish to take any legal step against the sedition charges against him.

Shyam Benegal said, "I will not take any action against the FIR. I am here as a common citizen. We raised the issue to the PM to take note of rising crimes so that he should be aware of."

The FIR was lodged in Muzaffarpur against the celebrities including Anurag Kashyap, Aparna Sen, Mani Ratnam, Adoor Gopalakrishnan, Soumitra Chatterjee, Shubha Mudgal, and Ramchandra Guha.

Shyam Benegal said the letter, addressed to PM Modi in July, was just an appeal and not a threat which will disturb the peace. "The letter was just an appeal. Whatever the motive of the people, who are accepting the FIR and charging us with all kinds of things, it makes no sense to me. It was a letter appealing to the prime minister. It is not a threat or anything that will cause disturbance of peace or enmity between community," said the director.

The letter had stated that the lynching of Muslims, Dalits and other minorities must be stopped immediately while stressing there was "no democracy without dissent". It also noted that the 'Jai Shri Ram' slogan was reduced to a "provocative war cry".

Shyam Benegal further said, "There was no response from PM or the PM's office since the letter written by celebrities in July."

https://www.indiatoday.in/india/story/representing-india-on-indo-bangladesh-project-with-sedition-charges-against-me-shyam-benegal-1606724-2019-10-06

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Nusrat Jahan, TMC MP, dances as husband plays ‘dhaak’ on Durga Ashtami

Oct 06, 2019

Popular Bengali film actor and Trinamool Congress lawmaker Nusrat Jahan was on Sunday seen participating in the festivities on Durga Ashtami in Kolkata.

Dressed in a red sari, Nusrat Jahan was seen dancing with a group of women at the Suruchi Sangha Pandal as her husband Nikhil Jain played the ‘dhaak’ or a traditional Bengali dhol.

The Lok Sabha member from Basirhat constituency also played the ‘dhaak’. She had offered prayers with Nikhil Jain, who was dressed in a red kurta pyjama, during the puja ceremony and aarti.

ANI

@ANI

#WATCH Kolkata: Trinamool Congress MP Nusrat Jahan dances as husband Nikhil Jain plays the 'dhak' at Suruchi Sangha. #DurgaPuja2019

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Nusrat Jahan also posted pictures from her Durga Ashtami celebrations on Instagram.

“Ashthami te #suruchisangha with beloved hubby @nikhiljain09 and dada #aroopbiswas #durgapuja #truebong #secularbengal,” she captioned the photograph as she posed with her husband in front of a painting of Goddess Durga.

Nusrat Jahan had contested as a Trinamool Congress candidate from the Basirhat constituency in the Lok Sabha elections held in April-May this year.

Full report at:

https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/nusrat-jahan-tmc-mp-dances-as-husband-plays-dhaak-during-durga-ashtami/story-njXqyTj7M96NoRoQhFE82H.html

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Sonia accepts Hasina’s invitation to visit Bangladesh

by Neha

October 06, 2019

New Delhi: Congress interim President Sonia Gandhi on Sunday accepted visiting Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s invitation to visit her country for commemoration of the 50th anniversary of Bangladesh’s liberation, a Congress statement said.

Sheikh Hasina also extended her invitation to Congress leader Rahul Gandhi and party’s General Secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra.

A Congress delegation comprising Sonia Gandhi, former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Priyanka Gandhi Vadra and Rajya Sabha MP Anand Sharma met the Bangladesh Prime Minister here on Sunday morning, a day after she met Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Sonia Gandhi’s meeting with Hasina came “especially considering the bond of friendship between the two families”, said the statement.

Sheikh Hasina was accompanied by Bangladesh Foreign Minister Abdul Momen, senior ministers and her advisers.

In the meeting, she recalled with gratitude India’s support for Bangladesh’s liberation and the special bond of friendship that her father and Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman shared with Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, the statement said, adding she also revisited the period after his assassination when she lived in exile in Delhi.

Sonia Gandhi congratulated Sheikh Hasina on winning the 3rd consecutive term as Prime Minister with the people of Bangladesh reaffirming their trust in her leadership and vision, while Manmohan Singh complimented here for the impressive economic growth made by the country and her initiatives that have led to commendable improvement of social indicators, particularly health and education.

Full report at:

https://www.siasat.com/sonia-accepts-hasinas-invitation-visit-bangladesh-1651188/

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JeM terrorist arrested in J&K's Baramulla

Oct 6, 2019

SRINAGAR: A Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) terrorist was arrested in Baramulla district of north Kashmir on Sunday, a police spokesperson said.

Mohsin Manzoor Salhea, a resident of Arampora-Azadgunj area, was arrested on a credible input during an anti-militant operation in Baramulla town, he said.

According to the spokesperson, Salhea was affiliated with proscribed terror outfit JeM and was wanted in two cases registered at the Baramulla police station this year.

Salhea was part of a group involved in planning and executing terror attacks in the area, he said.

Full report at:

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/jem-terrorist-arrested-in-jks-baramulla/articleshow/71470047.cms

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Pakistan violates ceasefire along IB and LoC in J&K

Oct 6, 2019

AMMU: Pakistan on Sunday violated the ceasefire by targeting forward posts and villages along the International border (IB) and the Line of Control (LoC) in three districts of Jammu and Kashmir, officials said.

However, there was no report of any casualty in the Pakistani firing which took place along the IB in Hiranagar sector of Kathua district, along the LoC in Digwar area of Poonch district and Nowshera and Laam in Rajouri district, the officials said.

The Pakistani army started unprovoked firing of small arms and mortar shelling in Digwar sector in the early hours of the day, the officials said. They added that the Indian army retaliated and the exchange of fire between the two sides lasted for a few hours.

In the evening, Pakistani troops targeted Nowshera and Laam areas of Rajouri district, prompting strong and effective retaliation by Indian Army, they said, adding the cross-border shelling was still continuing when the last reports came in.

Pakistani Rangers also targeted Manyari and Chadwal in Hiranagar sector around 7.10 pm, which was retaliated by the Border Security Force (BSF) personnel guarding the IB, the officials said.

Full report at:

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/pakistan-violates-ceasefire-along-ib-and-loc-in-jk/articleshow/71468116.cms

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200 to 300 terrorists active in J&K, Pakistan trying to push in more: DGP

Oct 6, 2019

JAMMU: Jammu and Kashmir Police chief Dilbagh Singh on Sunday said 200 to 300 terrorists are active in the state and Pakistan has intensified cross-border firing to push in as many of them as possible before the onset of winter.

He also said a large number of terrorists had managed to sneak into the state from across the border recently even as the counter-infiltration grid scuttled various attempts by eliminating infiltrators.

"The number of active terrorists (in Jammu and Kashmir) is between 200 to 300 ... the figure usually does not remain static and goes up and down," Singh told reporters during a visit to the border district of Poonch to review the security situation.

The director general of police (DGP) said Pakistan has intensified ceasefire violations to push in as many terrorists as possible.

"A large number of ceasefire violations are taking place in both Kashmir and Jammu regions. It is going on in Kanachak, R S Pura and Hira Nagar (along the International Border) and quite frequently along the LoC in Poonch, Rajouri, Uri, Nambla, Karnah and Keran," Singh said.

"These ceasefire violations are aimed at pushing (in) as many terrorists as possible (before the onset of winter). Our anti-infiltration grid is very strong and many infiltration attempts have been successfully foiled in the recent times," he said.

However, the DGP said, there are reports which suggest that a large number of terrorists have managed to infiltrate into the state.

"After their crossing onto this side, we had some encounters and some terrorists were also eliminated. While two Pakistani terrorists were arrested in Gulmarg sector, two terrorists were killed in a four-day-long operation in Ganderbal on September 29," he said.

Singh said some of these terrorists have been sighted at certain places and "we have intensified our operations against them".

Speaking about the situation in the state post abrogation of its special status under Article 370 two months ago, Singh said it is peaceful in Jammu, Leh and Kargil and things are improving in Kashmir.

"We are hopeful that the situation will improve further there (Kashmir) in the coming days," he said.

Full report at:

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/200-300-terrorists-presently-active-in-region-says-jk-dgp/articleshow/71468176.cms

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NC leaders visit Farooq and Omar, seek their release before polls; PDP cleared to meet Mufti

by Adil Akhzer, Arun Sharma

October 7, 2019

In the first major political development in the Valley post the scrapping of Jammu and Kashmir’s special status, a 15-member National Conference delegation Sunday met detained leaders Farooq Abdullah and Omar Abdullah in Srinagar, while the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) said it had got permission to meet PDP chief Mehbooba Mufti.

Emerging from the meeting, the NC said Farooq and Omar Abdullah were “pained and anguished about the recent developments” and ruled out participation in the coming local body polls till they were released.

Omar has been detained at Hari Niwas since August 5, the day the Centre abrogated Article 370. After spending over 30 minutes with the former chief minister and NC vice-president, the NC leaders drove to the residence of NC chief Farooq Abdullah, who is being held under the stringent Public Safety Act. Separately, NC MPs Hasnain Masoodi and Akbar Lone also met the Abdullahs.

Farooq and Omar Abdullah emerged to see the NC leaders off, and Farooq was clicked waving to the assembled photographers.

While the PDP earlier said Sunday that a 16-member delegation comprising senior party leaders and former legislators would leave for Srinagar on Monday morning to meet Mufti, who is also under detention since August 5, PTI reported late at night that the meeting had been deferred. There was no official word on the reason, or when the PDP leaders would go now.

It would have been the first meeting of PDP leaders from Jammu province with Mufti since her detention.

The NC leaders had got permission on Thursday from the administration to meet Omar and Farooq.

Referring to the Block Development Council (BDC) polls announced for October 24, with results the same day, the leaders said the NC would not be a party to them. “In the present situation and circumstances, when the entire political leadership is behind bars — they are under house arrest or detained — the question of any political activity does not arise,” Masoodi told The Indian Express after meeting the two party leaders.

On the Centre’s promise to start releasing the leaders soon, Masoodi said, “Let them do it. So far, nothing has been done.”

NC provincial president (Jammu) Devender Singh Rana, who led the delegation comprising ex-legislators of the party belonging to the Jammu region, said, “Any election to be held under such a situation will be meaningless… There is a complete lockdown. If the political process has to start, these people have to be released… See the case of the National Conference. Even if we want to contest the BDC elections… (in) the panchayats that exist… we have to get the (permission) signed by party president Farooq Abdullah… The party general secretary who has to propose the name out of a panel of prospective candidates is also detained… Let them be released, then the working committee of the party will meet and formulate a strategy.”

Rana added, “We are happy that both (Farooq and Omar Abdullah) are well and in high spirits. Of course, they are pained and anguished about the developments, particularly the lockdown of the people, and we as a party appeal that for the political process to start and democracy to revive in Jammu and Kashmir, political deteneus anywhere and everywhere, whether from the mainstream political parties or otherwise who have no criminal records, may be released and the hearts and minds of the people of Jammu and Kashmir are won.”

The brother of Union minister Jitendra Singh Rana, Rana had himself been allowed to move out of home after nearly two months, on Wednesday, and approached the Governor to let an NC delegation meet the Abdullahs to decide the party’s next political steps. He was among the nearly dozen non-BJP leaders in Jammu against whom restrictions were lifted Wednesday evening, following the announcement of the BDC polls. Mainstream politicians in Kashmir continue to be under detention.

Former PDP legislator and spokesperson Firdous Tak announced postponement of the party’s visit to Srinagar to meet Mufti. Hours earlier, he had said that they had requested Governor Satya Pal Malik to let them meet the PDP chief, and that the District Magistrate, Srinagar, told them they could meet her in Srinagar at noon Monday. He had also said the PDP delegation would be led by general secretary Ved Mahajan.

PTI reported that sources within the PDP said the visit had been deferred because of the lack of unanimity on the composition of the delegation.

The Jammu and Kashmir State Election Commission had announced BDC elections in the state on October 24, to be held on “party lines”. It will be the first time that the state will see BDC polls.

While the BJP and Congress have said they would contest, the CPM too has said it can’t as long as mainstream politicians, including its former legislator M Y Tarigami, continue to be detained.

Full report at:

https://indianexpress.com/article/india/farooq-omar-abdullah-nc-mehbooba-mufti-kashmir-issue-6056859/

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Detained Mehbooba Mufti to meet PDP delegation from Jammu tomorrow

October 6, 2019

For the first time since her detention on August 5, former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Mehbooba Mufti will be allowed to meet a delegation of leaders from the Peoples Democratic Party’s (PDP) Jammu unit on Monday.

The PDP delegation will be led by general secretary Ved Mahajan, former legislator and spokesperson Firdous Tak told news agency PTI. Tak said the PDP had requested governor Satya Pal Malik to allow a party delegation from Jammu to meet Mehbooba and “we have been conveyed that the permission has been granted”.

This will be the first meeting of PDP leaders with Mehbooba Mufti who was detained, along with other mainstream political leaders from Jammu and Kashmir including Omar and Farooq Abdullah after the abrogation of provisions of Article 370 of the Constitution.

“A meeting is going on to finalize the delegation which will leave for Srinagar to meet the party president tomorrow (Monday). Most probably, the strength of the delegation will be of 15 or 18 members,” Tak said.

Tak, who will be part of the delegation, said that after the restrictions were lifted on party leaders, a meeting was convened this morning and it was decided to approach the governor to seek permission to visit the detained leader.

The announcement comes on a day when a 15-member delegation of National Conference from Jammu met detained party president Farooq Abdullah and vice president Omar Abdullah in Srinagar.

Full report at:

https://indianexpress.com/article/india/detained-mehbooba-mufti-to-meet-pdp-delegation-from-jammu-tomorrow-6056490/

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In Alwar, 2 arrested for forcing Muslim couple to chant ‘Jai Shri Ram’

Oct 06, 2019

Two men were arrested on Sunday morning on charges of forcing a Muslim couple to shout Jai Shri Ram and outraging the modesty of the woman in Alwar around midnight on Saturday, the police said.

The two were produced before a judge on Sunday, and remanded in judicial custody till October 18, the police added.

The police said a Muslim couple from Haryana was waiting at Alwar bus stand on Saturday when around 11.30pm, two men on a motorcycle came and began harassing them. “According to the FIR, they forced the couple to chant Jai Shri Ram and one of the men flashed before the woman,” police said.

Station house officer of Alwar Mahila Thana Chauthmal Verma said the FIR was registered at the Kotwali police station and transferred to them for investigation. “When one of the men flashed before the woman, the onlookers intervened and called the police. The two men were handed over to Kotwali police. We arrested them after recording the couple’s statement,” Verma said.

The men have been identified as Vansh Bhardwaj, 23, and Surendra Mohan Bhatia, 32. Bhatia, the police said, was drunk. “We got his medical examination done,” the police officer said.

Verma said the two have been booked under section 323 (voluntarily causing hurt), 354A (assault or criminal force to woman with intent to outrage her modesty), 386 (extortion by putting a person in fear of death or grievous hurt ), 295 (injuring or defiling place of worship with intent to insult the religion of any class) and 509 (word, gesture or act intended to insult the modesty of a woman) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC).

After completing the formalities, the couple, the police officer said, was allowed to go early Sunday morning.

Full report at:

https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/two-held-for-flashing-before-muslim-couple-sexually-harassing-woman/story-LRJujzkOphlFad5bQPjmbM.html

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Pakistan

 

Protesting JKLF marchers stopped in PoK before LoC

Oct 7, 2019

ISLAMABAD: Thousands of residents of Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK) who were marching towards the Line of Control on Sunday in a protest organized by Jammu & Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF) were stopped by the PoK "administration and police" at Jiskool, three kilometers ahead of Chakoti which is close to the LoC on the Muzaffarabad-Srinagar highway.

The protest, labelled by JKLF as 'Azadi March', had started from different parts of PoK on Friday and had gathered at Muzaffarabad, PoK's 'capital'.

"We want freedom on this side (PoK) as well as that side," chanted the protesters, waving JKLF flags as they marched towards the LoC. However, they could not move towards Chakoti, their destination, as the administration had placed roadblocks on the Muzaffarabad-Srinagar highway, just few kilometers ahead of LoC. Muhammad Rafiq Dar, spokesperson of JKLF which operates on both sides of the LoC, said the march was a peaceful initiative aimed at expressing solidarity with the "besieged" Kashmiris and drawing the global attention towards the need for a peaceful and immediate settlement of the Kashmir issue.

"We do not want to engage in any kind of confrontation with the local law enforcement personnel. We are not for any kind of confrontation or violence because that will serve the Indian purpose," Dar was quoted by Dawn as saying.

On the other side of the roadblocks in Jiskool, senior officials of PoK 'administration' were present in large numbers. Replying to a question whether the protesters will be allowed to reach Chakoti, 'divisional commissioner' Chaudhry Imtiaz said: "It is our primary responsibility to protect the lives of all the protesters. This (Jiskool) is the last point. There is no question of allowing them to move further as beyond this point starts the firing range."

"We have already humbly informed the organisers that there is a serious threat of Indian shelling," Imtiaz told media.

JKLF activists had made a similar attempt to cross the LoC in 1992 but a crackdown by the PoK 'police' prevented them from doing so. Twelve people were killed in clashes that ensued.

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/pakistan/protesting-jklf-marchers-stopped-in-pok-before-loc/articleshow/71471228.cms

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Fazl threatens to shut down country if hurdles faced during ‘Azadi March’

October 7, 2019

PESHAWAR: Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) Chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman on Sunday warned the government of shutting down the entire country if obstacles were created in the way of his ‘Azadi March’, scheduled for October 27 in Islamabad.

Addressing party workers at a convention held to finalise arrangements for the party’s anti-government rally, Fazl termed the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government’s take on the Kashmir issue a ‘soft stance’, claiming that incumbent rulers had “sold the blood of Kashmiri brethren” and were now “rejoicing over it”.

“We’ve chalked out our plan for the protest and the strategy will be shared once finalised,” he announced.

“Our economy is in tatters but the government is being puppeteered by foreign powers,” he further claimed and added that the government would be directly responsible for any untoward incident that might happen if an attempt to stop the march if made.

The JUI-F chief said the country would head towards its destruction if nothing was done to topple the government.

Earlier on Saturday, Fazl had warned the government against making any arrests preceding the protest march, saying that this would only further incite the protesters.

Addressing a news conference in Peshawar, he urged the establishment, bureaucracy, and police to stop backing the “illegitimate” government of Prime Minister (PM) Imran Khan if they wanted to avoid mayhem in the country.

Full report at:

https://www.pakistantoday.com.pk/2019/10/06/fazl-threatens-to-shut-down-country-if-hurdles-faced-during-azadi-march/

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Pakistan-China friendship higher than Himalayas, says Sheikh Rasheed

Oct 6, 2019

ISLAMABAD: Federal Minister for Railways Sheikh Rasheed has said that Prime Minister Imran Khan is visiting China from Monday (tomorrow) to discuss bilateral economic relations and CPEC related projects with Chinese leadership, ARY News reported on Sunday.

The railway minister, in a video message, has said that China is forever friend of Pakistan which has always helped out Pakistan in difficult times.

“Pak-China friendship is higher than the Himalayas, deeper than oceans and sweeter than honey,” he added.

Sheikh Rasheed reiterated that nation wants to see Pakistan prosper, adding that Prime Minister Imran Khan will takeout country from the economic crisis.

Commenting over Kashmir issue, Sheikh Rasheed said the premier will destroy all conspiracy theories of Modi and play a historic role for the freedom of Kashmiris.

Earlier in the day, Railways Minister Sheikh Rasheed Ahmad had said Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-F chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman wants clash on politics and religious issues.

Addressing a press conference at Railways Headquarters, he said Maulana Fazlur Rehman would be directly responsible in case of unrest, anarchy and confrontation on the borders if he staged any protest.

Full report at:

https://arynews.tv/en/pakistan-china-friendship-higher-than-himalayas-sheikh-rasheed/

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British govt asked to play role in Kashmir issue settlement

October 07, 2019

MUZAFFARBAD: Britain’s shadow immigration minister and Labour Party member Mohammad Afzal Khan has dismissed Tory government’s stance that Kashmir is a bilateral matter between India and Pakistan as a “redundant and worthless” argument and called upon the British government to play its role in early settlement of the issue for lasting global peace.

Talking to reporters during his visit to Muzaffarabad on Sunday, he regretted that the [UK’s] ruling Conservative Party had tried to show “neutrality” in the case of Kashmir that was under a lockdown for the past two months.

“Where there are human rights abuses, there is no neutrality,” he said, adding, “You should stand by humanity and not with your trade [economic interests],” added Mr Khan, who represents the Manchester Gorton constituency in the British Parliament.

MP Khan made it clear that this yardstick was not just about Kashmir or India, but for every place across the world where human rights abuses are committed.

“Those who have a pain for humanity are duty-bound to raise their voice against the human rights abuses,” he said.

He said Labour Party leader Jeremy Bernard Corbyn was a firm and good leader who had a pain for humanity.

“That’s why our party passed an emergency motion at its conference that it will push this issue [of Kashmir for settlement]”.

He said the Labour Party resolution had demanded of India to stop human rights violations and give access for monitoring of the situation.

Mr Khan pointed out that Kashmir was a dispute where three nuclear powers — Pakistan, India and China — had stakes and it was why the experts feared that a nuclear war in the region would threaten the lives of over 100 million people.

“This is a threat to the world peace and therefore the world should not remain in slumber. It has to look into and subsequently resolve the issue.”

MP Khan said that unresolved Kashmir issue also posed a question mark on the credibility of the United Nations.

“For the past 70 years this issue is in the cold storage [...] If you wish there should be peace in the world, you will have to overcome difficulties. Implementation of the Security Council resolutions is vital for world body’s own credibility.”

On a question about the public response to India’s August 5 move, MP Khan said it was unprecedented.

“Over the past 50 years I haven’t seen such movement,” he said, adding that demonstrations were being held in all cities and towns and many political forces were mobilising themselves against this move.

“People say it [Indian move] is unacceptable. How is this acceptable that in 21st century India has turned an entire territory into a jail for more than two months,” he said of occupied Kashmir.

“How can this go along with democratic values?” MP Khan noted that voices were being raised against this move even from within India.

He said the responsibility of the United Kingdom with regard to Kashmir was double rather triple.

Full report at:

https://www.dawn.com/news/1509445/british-govt-asked-to-play-role-in-kashmir-issue-settlement

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FATF partially happy with Pakistan

BY GHULAM ABBAS

October 7, 2019

ISLAMABAD: With the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) set to decide Pakistan’s fate in mid-October, its associate Asia-Pacific Group on Money Laundering (APG) has released an evaluation report on Pakistan’s compliance with the anti-money laundering regime, saying the country “largely but partially” complied with 36 parameters, while missing out on the remaining four.

On the basis of the 228-page Mutual Evaluation Report 2019, the global watchdog for terror financing and money laundering will decide whether to retain Pakistan on the greylist or remove it based on its past year performance.

The watchdog has not ruled out blacklisting the country and the meeting on October 13-18 will also consider this option.

The four missed parameters are Transparency & BO (beneficial owner/ownership of legal arrangements; DNFBPs (designated non-financial businesses and profession) customers’ due diligence; regulation and supervision of the DNFBPs; and mutual legal assistance freezing and confiscation.

The APG also stressed on risk policy, supervision of coordination, preventive measures, legal personnel arrangements, financial intelligence, money-laundering and terror-financing (TF) investigations, prosecution and confiscation, production of TF preventive measures and proliferation-financing (PF) financial sanctions as Pakistan’s weaknesses.

Furthermore, the report, while highlighting that Pakistan had only missed out on four parameters, also pointed out that its performance on international cooperation was “moderate”.

On September 9 in Bangkok, Pakistan submitted detailed answers to 125 questions posed by FATF on moves taken by it to combat money laundering and terror financing in order to move out of the greylist.

During the Bangkok negotiations, the FATF was apprised of measures taken by Pakistan to prevent suspicious transactions and officials were questioned about moves to restrict illegal activities and freeze the assets of proscribed organisations and groups.

The APG report said that in order to avoid blacklisting, Islamabad should “adequately identify and assess” money laundering and terror-financing risks as well as risks associated with the “terrorist groups operating on its soil”.

“Pakistan should adequately identify, assess and understand its ML/TF risks, including transnational risks and risks associated with terrorist groups operating in Pakistan such as Lashkar-e-Tayyiba (LeT), Da’esh, Al-Qaeda, Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JuD), Falah-i-Insaniat Foundation (FIF), Jaish-e-Muhammad (JeM), Haqqani Network (HQN), and this should be used to implement a comprehensive and coordinated risk-based approach to combating ML and TF,” the report stated.

It stated that Pakistan has not taken sufficient measures to fully implement UNSCR 1267 obligations against all listed individuals and entities – especially those associated with LeT/ JuD, and FIF as well as the groups’ leader Hafiz Saeed.

The APG further said that although Pakistan has taken some enforcement actions against hawala/hundi under the Foreign Exchange Regulation Act 1947, the country needs “major improvements”. “Pakistan has a mixed level of technical compliance with relevant FATF recommendations and major improvements are needed in Pakistan’s international cooperation actions against criminals and their assets,” the report stated.

“Due to the significant ML/TF risks posed by hawala/hundi, Pakistan should enhance enforcement actions against hawala/hundi under the Foreign Exchange Regulation Act 1947, and undertake ML and TF investigations and prosecutions of hawala/hundi operators where appropriate,” it said.

The report also said that there are “major technical shortcomings” in Pakistan’s legal framework and called for “fundamental improvements” to diminish the risks of money laundering and terror financing.

Full report at:

https://www.pakistantoday.com.pk/2019/10/06/pakistans-future-in-limbo-as-it-misses-out-on-four-fatf-parameters/

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Southeast Asia

 

Critic Slams ‘Totally Absurd’ Proposal To Add ‘Sunni’ In Malaysian Constitution

October 7, 2019

PETALING JAYA: Vocal Muslim activist Dr Ahmad Farouk Musa has criticised a call by a PAS MP to include a new clause in the Federal Constitution recognising only Sunni Islam as the official religion, as well as to ensure that only followers of the school of thought are allowed to hold top government posts.

Farouk, who heads the Islamic Renaissance Front, said Pasir Mas MP Ahmad Fadhli Shaari’s proposal at the Malay Dignity Congress yesterday was “totally absurd” and “out of context with reality”, adding that it goes against the spirit of the nation’s founding fathers.

“At their heart was the intent and desire to create a pluralistic and equal society,” Farouk told FMT.

Article 3 (1) of the constitution states: “Islam is the religion of the federation, but other religions may

be practised in peace and harmony in any part of the federation.”

Farouk said the Reid Commission which drafted the constitution had said that the statement did not imply that the state is theocratic or non-secular in nature.

“What more a state that would discriminate its citizens into Sunni Muslims and other denominations,” he added.

He said even the constitution of Shia-majority Iran guarantees the rights of other Muslim schools of jurisprudence.

Farouk also warned of the growing influence of what he called “rabid Wahhabi Salafi scholars” in creating hatred of non-Sunni Muslims.

“Are we sliding into a Sunni authoritarian state that not only goes against the spirit of our founding fathers but also against universal human rights values?” he asked.

Shia, with a substantial following in Iraq, Iran, Kuwait, Bahrain, Lebanon and several parts of Saudi Arabia, Yemen and Pakistan, is the second largest branch of Islam.

Fatwas have been issued in most states in Malaysia declaring Shia teachings as “deviant”, and Islamic authorities have in the past raided private religious events held by its adherents.

https://www.freemalaysiatoday.com/category/nation/2019/10/07/critic-slams-totally-absurd-proposal-to-add-sunni-in-constitution/

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Fight child marriage by ending poverty, says SIS

Nicole Ng

October 7, 2019

PETALING JAYA: Women’s rights advocates have called for more efforts to end child marriage and promote women’s leadership ahead of the 2020 budget which will be tabled in Parliament next week.

Sisters in Islam spokesman Majidah Hashim said discussions on child marriage had stalled in the last few months.

She urged the government to deal with the root cause of such marriages, particularly poverty and lack of access to education and healthcare.

“We believe that funds must be allocated for programmes to tackle these issues,” she told FMT.

“Comprehensive sexual education should be carried out at all levels, as well as programmes to alleviate rural and urban poverty by enabling families to earn enough to make ends meet.”

She also suggested that government funds be allocated for women’s leadership programmes, especially in light of the recent move to lower the voting age to 18.

“Funds should be allocated for programmes that help young women become future political leaders,” she said.

Nellie Tan, CEO of NGO Women’s Institute of Management, said women should be trained to take on leadership roles in companies.

She acknowledged that the women and family development ministry had conducted such courses but said the success rate was not satisfactory.

“Even when companies do appoint female directors, these women are often from the same small group – high-profile, with connections.”

She said the ministry should be given extra funds to run small business training courses to help marginalised women.

Full report at:

https://www.freemalaysiatoday.com/category/nation/2019/10/07/fight-child-marriage-by-ending-poverty-says-sis/

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TV project is first step in tackling Islamophobia

By Dr Azeem Fazwan Ahmad Farouk

October 6, 2019

THE decision made by the governments of Ma-laysia, Turkey, and Pakistan on the sidelines of the 74th United Nations General Assembly to jointly establish an English television channel to counter Islamophobia in the West is very timely.

I have written in this column on how the debate on Islam and Muslims in the West has been shaped and largely determined by the secular-liberal ideals of European enlightenment which cannot accommodate a non- Western religion such as Islam.

This skewed discourse on Islam in the West is being actively promoted by an Islamophobia industry that manufactures hatred of Muslims.

Pushing back against this narrative is not easy because Islamophobia did not suddenly come into being after the events of 9/11.

Like anti-Semitism and xenophobia, it has long and deep historical roots.

Its contemporary resurgence has been triggered by the significant influx of Muslims into the West in the late 20th century, the Iranian revolution, hijackings, hostage taking, and acts of terrorism in the 1980s and 1990s, attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon on 9/11 and subsequent terrorist attacks in Europe.

A USA Today-Gallup Poll last year found that a substantial number of American minorities admit to having negative feelings or prejudices against people of the Muslim faith.

Similarly, statistics and attitudes documented by a number of research institutions all point to an alarming increase in Islamophobia in the West.

The European Monitoring Center on Racism and Xenophobia, for example, had documented that there were increased and widespread acts of discrimination and racism against Muslims in 15 European Union member countries following 9/11.

In a follow-up report in 2008, the Runnymede Trust concluded that Islamophobia was a pervasive feature of British society and characterised media reporting on Muslims and Islam as biased and unfair.

It should be noted that those who speak out on the issue of Islamophobia often do so at great risk.

The network of Islamophobia industry is quick to smear and slander anyone that would challenge them, and counter their hateful messages with calls for equality, justice, and religious freedom.

The Islamophobia industry may be driven by a relatively small network of individuals and organisations but the extent of their reach and consequences of their programmes engender anti-Muslim hate within vulnerable groups of people who, once tuned in to such propaganda, join their ranks.

The prejudices they generate are not of little consequence.

They are no longer a fringe element that can be dismissed. They have managed and continue to attach Islamophobia permanently to the banner of right-wing populism that it is fast becoming structurally identical to anti-Semitism and other such institutionalised hatreds.

The anti-immigrant drumbeat about the impending demise of Europe’s religious and cultural identity in the face of Islamic threat has been aided by media coverage that lumps diverse identity, demographic, economic, and social conflict issues together under the umbrella of religion.

Rioting in French ghetto areas inhabited by North African Arabs is portrayed as Muslim rather than as protests against poverty and hopelessness.

Muslim boycotts in London protesting Danish cartoons that depicted Prophet Muhammad as a terrorist with a bomb in his turban and conflicts over the hijab in France, Turkey and Denmark are seen exclusively as religious issues rather than also as issues of civil rights and freedoms, such as the women’s right to dress as they choose.

Because European Muslims are defined simply in terms of their faith, these problems and issues are incorrectly seen as ‘Muslim issues’ when in fact, given their nature and primary causes, they require social, not religious solutions or policies.

Extravagant fantasies about war and erosion of civil liberties of minority groups are amplified by the Islamophobia industry, then reproduced by powerful policymakers and world leaders whose decisions, if coloured by toxic misrepresentations, have the potential to change lives in catastrophic ways.

Muslims and Islam are not to be feared, any more than blacks, Jews, Catholics or any other group that faces systematic discrimination.

There is a great urgency to resist and counter those whose aim is to divide humanity into minority blocs, pitting them against one another and gambling with people’s freedom for the sake of politics or profit.

A common charge both with regard to Muslim-West relations and the integration of Muslims in both the United States and Europe is that Islam is incompatible with the realities of modernity and Western culture and values.

This narrow scope of a liberal political system that defines secularisation as the only and normative emancipatory power in the modern world marginalises Islam and Muslims in a world of Western modernity.

With the privatisation of religion under the secular framework of Western modernity, there is little or no accommodation for Islam, which is then subjected to the historical specificities of each respective nation’s Christian, secular experience.

Full report at:

https://www.nst.com.my/opinion/columnists/2019/10/527331/tv-project-first-step-tackling-islamophobia

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Asian, Melanesian: Reorienting Indonesia's foreign policy

Irman G. Lanti

October 7, 2019

Recent racial slurs against Papuan students in Surabaya and Malang and the Papuan reactions that have caused the destruction of public facilities in several cities in Papua have generated yet another dimension to identity politics in Indonesia. Are there any repercussions from those incidents for Indonesia’s foreign policy? Aside from calls made by several parties to work out an internationally mediated negotiation to address the Papua question, the incidents actually question the very nature of the identity of Indonesian nationhood, which in turn is reflected in its foreign policy. Since its inception, Indonesia has considered itself a Southeast Asian nation; more specifically, a country with citizens that identify as part of the Malay race. In fact, most Indonesians belong to the Malay Muslim world. But geographically, and even demographically, Indonesia is much more tha...

Full report at:

https://www.thejakartapost.com/academia/2019/10/07/asian-melanesian-reorienting-indonesias-foreign-policy.html

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Arab World

 

Hundreds of Drones, Military Equipment Sent to Tahrir Al-Sham in Northern Syria, 13,000 Terrorists Deployed in Hama, Lattakia

Oct 06, 2019

The Arabic-language Sputnik New Agency quoted informed sources in the city of Jisr al-Shoghour in Western Idlib as saying that Tahrir al-Sham terrorists have recently received state-of-the-art weapons and military equipment, including modern anti-tank missiles, communications and electronic jamming equipment as well as 200 drones.

The sources pointed to the dispatch of drones to the headquarters of Turkistani Pary in the town of al-Janoudieh in Jisr al-Shoghour, and said that Turkish and Belgian engineers are equipping the dispatched drones.

They also pointed to a meeting between Tahrir al-Sham and Turkistani Party commanders in Jisr al-Shoghour city with the aim of reinforcing their military positions and maintaining the areas under their control in Northwestern Hama and Northeastern Lattakia, and said the Turkistani Party in recent weeks has sent Chinese militants to Sahl al-Ghab battlefronts in Northwestern Hama and Kabani in Northeastern Lattakia in a bid to prevent the Syrian Army’s possible advances there.

Meantime, about 13,000 foreign terrorists are stationed in Sahl al-Ghab and the countryside of Jisr al-Shoghour and Lattakia to guard the areas controlled by the Ankara-backed Turkistani Party.

In a relevant development in late September, the Syrian Army during its mop-up operations discovered terrorists’ underground base packed with US- and NATO-based weapons and missiles in Southern Idlib.

The Arabic-language Sputnik news agency quoted a Syrian military source as saying that the Syrian Army troops discovered an underground military network of bases in al-Latameneh region which contained a main base for the deployment of about 5,000 terrorists.

It pointed to the terrorists’ attempts to launch attacks on the Syrian Army over the past four years by using foreign military equipment, and said that the government forces discovered US-made missiles, weapons and rifles made in NATO member countries.

The Syrian military sources also said that the Syrian Army also discovered a workshop used for manufacturing drones and also found several drones equipped with bombs for attacking the Syrian Army’s military units.

https://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13980714000626

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Arab Paper: Al-Fagham Killed by MbS for Relaying Yemen War Intel to Saudi King

Oct 06, 2019

The Arabic-language al-Quds al-Arabi newspaper wrote that King Salman has lost his confidence in nearly everyone, including his crown prince, and had entrusted al-Fagham with Yemen war affairs.

"Al-Fagham had informed the Saudi King about the realities of Yemen war, attacks against Aramco and dissatisfaction of military officers with bin Salman's behaviors and this has persuaded the MbS to kill the loyal bodyguard of his father," it added.

The newspaper also accused the MbS of killing several other officers in whom he had lost confidence, and pointed out that a number of officers who accompanied him in official ceremonies are no more present.

In relevant remarks last Monday, a dissident Saudi prince who lives in Germany had also blamed Mohammed bin Salman for the murder of two royal bodyguards, saying that the MbS wants to declare himself as the new king soon.

Khalid bin Farhan al-Saud wrote on his twitter page that "we will soon witness the betrayer bin Salman to introduce himself as the king".

He referred to the death of Faisal al-Sho'aibi, one of King Salman's bodyguards, in August 2015 in Morocco and the recent killing of al-Fagham, 47, who had been widely known as the king’s most trusted personal protection officer, and said MbS plans to soon declare himself as the king after excluding his father's royal guards.

Farhan revealed that the plan is being implemented in collaboration with the CIA, saying that they want to replace the royal guard with the Blackwater mercenaries to pave the ground for the MbS to ascend to the throne.

The media spokesman of the Makkah Province Police confirmed late last week that the personal bodyguard of the Saudi king was shot dead during a personal dispute.

The spokesman claimed that Maj. Gen Abdul Aziz bin Badah al-Fagham was visiting a friend's house when he was shot.

The Saudi social media activists wrote on their pages that the death of al-Fagham seems suspicious given the presence of security forces outside his house and their immediate killing shots given to his killer which could have been an attempt to close the case immediately.

Also, Ali al-Ahmad, a Saudi journalist, wrote on his twitter page that al-Fagham was fired from his job a few days ago which makes his death even more suspicious.

He added that the bodyguard was witnessed several days ago while he was walking alone in Jeddah which is strange, given his rank and position, and given the fact that he should have been right beside King Salman.

A social media activist described al-Fagham's death as similar to the brutal killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi who was killed upon a direct order by bin Salman.

Khashoggi was killed and his body dismembered after he entered the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, Turkey, to collect documents related to his planned wedding.

After initially offering contradictory statements, Saudi Arabia confirmed its agents killed Khashoggi, but denied its senior leaders were involved.

US intelligence agencies have reportedly concluded, however, that MbS ordered the murder, and a UN right expert found "credible evidence" linking the Crown Prince to the killing.

Also, Saudi whistle-blower Mujtahid, who is believed to be a member of or have a well-connected source in the royal family, said that bin Salman had several times voiced his willingness to omit the newly-killed bodyguard of King Salman.

The Arabic-language al-Nashrah news website quoted Mujtahid as saying that al-Fagham was in the palace at the time of murder and not at a friend's residence as claimed by the government.

"The MbS was not confident about al-Fagham's loyalty to the crown prince and he had several times voiced willingness to omit him," he added.

Meantime, Mohammed al-Moaseri, a Saudi dissident residing in London, had warned 5 months ago about the possibility for al-Fagham's assassination by the MbS.

He had cautioned al-Fagham that bin Salman would one day take him and his team out to replace them a group of Colombian Blackwater agents.

Social media activists have voiced suspicion about al-Fagham's death, describing it as assassination.

Full report at:

https://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13980714000952

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Eight people killed and 25 wounded in fresh clashes in Iraqi capital Baghdad

6 October 2019

At least eight people were killed and 25 wounded in fresh clashes between protesters and police in eastern Baghdad on Sunday, police and medical sources said.

The clashes took place in Sadr city, a sprawling residential district in the Iraqi capital, and added to a death toll of more than 100 people killed over days of violent protests.

Police, backed by the army, used live rounds and tear gas to disperse the crowds at two separate locations in Sadr City, police said.

The protests pose the biggest security and political challenge for Prime Minister Adil Abdul Mahdi's government since it took power a year ago, and have revived fears of a new spiral of violence that could suck in influential militia groups.

Earlier on Sunday, the Iraqi Interior Ministry spokesman Major General Saad Maan said that at least 104 people including eight security personnel have been killed and more than 6,000 wounded in less than a week of unrest in Iraq.

Full report at:

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2019/10/06/Five-people-killed-and-15-wounded-in-fresh-clashes-in-Iraqi-capital-Baghdad.html

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Iraq blames 'malicious' hands as toll from unrest tops 100

Oct 7, 2019

BAGHDAD: Twelve anti-government demonstrators were killed Sunday in ongoing protests in the capital Baghdad, the latest fatalities in six days of clashes that have left more than 100 dead and thousands wounded.

Iraq's government has scrambled to contain the popular anger that has racked Baghdad and a number of southern cities since Tuesday. Security forces responded with a crackdown on the spontaneous rallies of demonstrators demanding jobs, better services and an end to endemic corruption in the oil-rich country.

In the first official statement from the government accounting for the violence, Interior Ministry spokesman Saad Maan said Sunday that 104 people had been killed in the six days of unrest, including eight members of the security forces, and more than 6,000 wounded. He said an investigation was under way to determine who was behind the most deadly day of violence, in Baghdad on Friday.

The unrest is the most serious challenge facing Iraq two years after the victory against Islamic State militants. The chaos also comes at a critical time for the government, which has been caught in the middle of increasing US-Iran tensions in the region. Iraq is allied with both countries and hosts thousands of US troops, as well as powerful paramilitary forces allied with Iran.

Iraq's most senior Shiite spiritual leader, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, has urged the protesters and the security forces to end the violence while the country's prime minister has called on the protesters to go home. Prime Minister Adel Abdul-Mahdi also pledged to meet with the protesters wherever they are and without any armed forces, to hear their demands.

Abdul-Mahdi defended the security forces, saying they were carrying out their duties and would only use force in extreme cases of self-defense.

"We can't accept the continuation of the situation like this," Abdul-Mahdi told his Cabinet late Saturday in televised remarks. "We hear of snipers, firebombs, burning a policeman, a citizen."

Speaking on Sunday, Maan, the Interior Ministry spokesman, said protesters have burned 51 public buildings and eight political party headquarters. He claimed security forces didn't confront the protesters, adding that "malicious hands" were behind targeting protesters and security members alike.

That contradicted accounts from demonstrators and journalists at the scene who have said they witnessed security forces firing on demonstrators. Some protesters said snipers also took part in breaking up the protests. Maan said most of those killed Friday were hit in the head and heart.

Officials had said earlier there were attempts at "sedition" from snipers who targeted security and protesters alike. They didn't elaborate.

Late Saturday, the prime minister announced a number of measures designed to appease the protesters, including paying out unemployment benefits and providing subsidized housing and land for low-income groups.

Still, demonstrators took to the streets again Sunday— although in smaller numbers. Hundreds gathered on side streets near Sadr City, a Baghdad suburb, some four kilometers (2.5 miles) from Tahrir Square, which has been the destination of the weeklong rallies, although authorities have prevented protesters from reaching it.

A medical official in a local hospital and a security official said 12 protesters were killed and more than 50 others wounded as they repeatedly tried to break through a security cordon to head to the city center. The officials, who did not provide details, spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to reporters.

Security forces have beefed up their presence in central Baghdad, deploying as far as Sadr City to seal off Tahrir Square.

Army troops blocked a main road Sunday to prevent the protesters from advancing, then fired on them to push them back. After about an hour, there was more intense gunfire, with soldiers firing over the heads of protesters as they tried to advance.

Ducking in reaction to the fire, some protesters piled over one another trying to hide behind the wall of a nearby water fountain. One protester carrying a drum chanted "peaceful, peaceful," as others joined in. As the gunfire continued, protesters set tires on fire.

Some demonstrators arrived in rickshaws, which have been used to carry the wounded from the bloody clashes.

The UN envoy for Iraq appealed for an end to the violence and called for holding to account those responsible. "This must stop. I call on all parties to pause and reflect," Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert tweeted Saturday night.

Meanwhile, Abdul-Mahdi pledged to meet with the demonstrators to hear their demands.

"I am ready to go wherever our brotherly protesters are and meet them or send them envoys to other locations without any armed forces," he said late Saturday. "I will go and meet them without weapons and sit with them for hours to listen to their demands."

He also decreed that those killed in the protests, whether demonstrators or security forces, would be considered "martyrs" eligible for state benefits.

Earlier on Sunday, Baghdad's streets had been mostly quiet and traffic thin as an eerie calm prevailed. Students made it to schools and government employees returned to work. But burnt tires and debris littered thoroughfares while security remained heavily deployed in many neighborhoods.

Full report at:

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/middle-east/iraq-blames-malicious-hands-as-toll-from-unrest-tops-100/articleshow/71472286.cms

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Iraq’s Abdul Mahdi announces list of legislative, financial reforms

6 October 2019

A series of reforms in response to protesters’ demands, including allowing low-income residents to apply for residential land, will be enforced, Prime Minister Adil Abdul Mahdi announced during an emergency government session on Saturday, according to Iraqi TV.

“We call on all political forces to cooperate in providing all the conditions [necessary] for reform,” the prime minister said.

The reforms also included the decision to distribute residential plots to beneficiaries, support interest-free housing credit programs to increase the number of borrowers, as well as offer unemployment benefits to 150,000 people who don’t have the ability to work, and provide more employment opportunities for the youth.

The Iraqi government is also committed to bringing corrupt officials to justice, Abdul Mahdi said during the session.

Protestors and security officials who were killed during the demonstrations will be considered martyrs, and their families will be compensated, Abdul Mahdi said, adding that the Ministry of Health will be providing free medical services for those who have been wounded in the rallies.

The government will continue to make additional reforms during upcoming sessions, according to the prime minister.

Several proposals have been made to provide legislative, financial, and administrative reforms, Abdul Mahdi added.

Full report at:

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2019/10/06/Iraq-s-Abdul-Mahdi-announces-list-of-legislative-financial-reforms-.html

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Iraqi protesters vow to continue regardless of government offers

SUADAD AL-SALHY

October 07, 2019

BAGHDAD: Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi will not resign in response to the demands of demonstrators and his new package of solutions will not ease the pressure on him to abandon the corrupt political forces that support him, politicians and officials told Arab News on Sunday. Angry demonstrations in Baghdad and seven southern Shiite-majority provinces have rocked Iraq for six days in protest against corruption, high unemployment and lack of basic daily services.

At least 104 people, including security personnel, have been killed and more than 6,000 wounded in recent days as Iraqi forces used live ammunition and tear gas to repel demonstrators who clashed with security forces as they tried to reach government and party headquarters in Baghdad and the provinces.

The Iraqi Interior Ministry said on Sunday that 52 government vehicles and about 60 government and party properties had been burned so far. The demonstrators demanded the dismissal of Abdul Mahdi’s government, forming a caretaker government, dissolving the Parliament and preparations for early national parliamentary elections under the supervision of the UN.

Abdul Mahdi responded by “turning a blind eye” to the use of “excessive force” against the demonstrators and used Iranian-backed armed factions to regain control of security in Baghdad and the provinces, according to witnesses.

“Two of my relatives who took part in the demonstrations were killed in the past few days in Baghdad by a sniper. Both of them were teenagers,” an anonymous military official told Arab News. “The first was hit in his neck and the other one was hit in his head.

“I know that some of the demonstrators misbehaved and rushed too much by clashing with security forces and burning some government buildings, but what I cannot justify is how a government can kill a teenager with all this coldness?”

The armed factions used by Abdul Mahdi to regain control raided the offices of a number of satellite TV channels covering the demonstrations in Baghdad, including the channels of Dijila, Al-Ghad, Al-Furat and Arabiya. They destroyed equipment and expelled workers, journalists working at these channels said.

The Iraqi Ministry of Communications has continued to impose a complete blocking of internet services in all provinces except the semi-autonomous Kurdish region since last week, and has lifted only an hour or two a day to publish the statements of Abdul Mahdi.

“If the net was working in Iraq, Abdul Mahdi’s government would have fallen from the earliest days,” an Iraqi human rights activist told Arab News.

“The videos recorded by demonstrators that we have received, clearly show that some security forces in Baghdad and some other provinces, have not resorted to any nonlethal options to keep protesters away from them or from some buildings. “Live bullets were the first choice of these forces without hesitation.”

Abdul Mahdi attempted to absorb the anger of the demonstrators by launching a package of “extraordinary decisions” distributed by his office in the early hours of Sunday morning, the most prominent of which included the granting of plots of land to low-income families, the construction of 100,000 new homes in the poorest areas, the distribution of a monthly grant to the unemployed and the disabled, the construction of small stalls to provide job opportunities and training courses for graduates and allowing young people to join the Iraqi army.

“These decisions show that Abdul Mahdi is currently floundering. The problem is clear and the solutions are obvious, but he is too weak to make a bold decision and act,” a prominent Shiite politician told Arab News.

“What he has to do is abandon the net of corruptors surrounding him that actually governs, but he won’t do that and they will not let him do so. “The pro-Iran political parties and armed factions see this government as the best so far because Abdul Mahdi put everything in their hands, so they will not either allow the collapse of his government, nor his resignation.”

Rahman Al-Jobouri, an Iraqi analyst, said “the pressure placed on Abdul Mahdi from his allies to prevent his resignation or retreat is enormous.

Full report at:

https://www.arabnews.com/node/1565136/middle-east

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Saudi Arabia’s civil aviation authority continues to receive tourists through e-visa

October 06, 2019

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s General Authority of Civil Aviation (GACA) continues to receive tourists from all over the world through a package of services offered at its four airports.

This comes after the Kingdom announced opening its doors to welcome the world through the launch of the e-tourist visa.

The four airports include King Khalid International Airport in Riyadh, King Abdul Aziz International Airport in Jeddah, King Fahd International Airport in Dammam, and Prince Mohammed bin Abdul Aziz International Airport in Madinah.

GACA has prepared terminals equipped with the necessary infrastructure, including electronic services, multilingual signboards, queues for all tourist visas and queues for first class, business class and GCC citizens.

It has also allocated booths for the Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage (SCTH) to provide support for tourists at airports.

Arrival terminals have also been provided with Internet services to improve and develop the visitor experience in all airports.

Recently, the SCTH launched the e-tourism visas services and citizens of 49 states were allowed to obtain visas through the platform visa.visitsaudi.com, or by visiting the department’s offices upon arrival in the Kingdom.

Full report at:

https://www.arabnews.com/node/1565056/saudi-arabia

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Africa

 

Boko Haram: Zulum hires 30 Nigerian imams living in Saudi to pray for Borno

October 6, 2019

Governor Babagana Zulum of Borno has engaged 30 clerics to intercede for his state over the unending Boko Haram insurgency there.

Zulum’s spokesman, Isa Gusau, in a statement said the government engaged the 30 imam who are residents of Makkah, Saudia Arabia, to intercede for the state affected by a decade of Boko Haram violence.

Gusau disclosed that the governor sealed the agreement with the selected persons who are residents of Makkah, to permanently offer daily ‘Dawaf’ (circumambulation of the holy Ka’aba), to offer prayer for the return of sustained peace in Borno and the country.

He said that the 30 clerics, who hailed variously from Borno, Katsina, Zamfara, Kano and parts of the northwest, have, for decades, devoted themselves to spending hours at the Ka’aba daily for the purpose of worship.

Gusau explained that an old man among them was said to have been a Ka’aba devotee in the last 40 years.

Ka’aba is the Islamic holiest place located inside the grand Al-Haram mosque in Makkah.

“The critical move is aimed to combine different approaches that include sustained support for the Nigerian Armed Forces, aggressive mass recruitment and equipping of more counter-insurgency volunteers into the Civilian Joint Task Force, hunters and vigilantes as well as socio-economic approach to enhance access to education, job opportunities and provide other means of livelihood through social protection initiatives,” Gusau said in the statement.

According to him, Zulum, a professor of Soil and Water Engineering at the University of Maiduguri before his election as governor, interacted with the devotees on Friday at the Ka’aba, expressing  gratitude and seeking continued prayers.

“Rather than sending anyone, I am here, on behalf of the good people of Borno.

“I thank you so much for your empathy and the compassion in devoting yourselves to prayer for us everyday at the Ka’aba which, for us as Muslims, is the most sacred place.

“We need prayers more than ever before, we are handling our problem from different approaches.

“Prayer is key to everything that we seek. We will continue to seek prayers from many fronts. We will keep supporting our clerics of different faiths in Nigeria for prayers and we will seek the same from all of you that are always here around the holy Ka’aba.

“I beg you, continue to pray for us towards achieving three things: first, for us to regain peace in Borno State, the North and Nigeria in general.

“We will have to continue to pray on a permanent basis because we need peace to be sustained.

“Secondly; we need prayers for us to achieve our ambitious plan for Borno State; and lastly, for Allah to make us remain focused and not to get carried away by power,” Zulum was quoted as saying in the statement.

Gusau added that governor returned to Nigeria on Saturday.

https://punchng.com/boko-haram-zulum-hires-30-nigerian-imams-living-in-saudi-to-pray-for-borno/

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Boko Haram Terrorists Burn Emir’s Palace In Yobe

OCT 06, 2019

Boko Haram insurgents on Saturday afternoon burnt a section of the Emir of Jajare’s Palace in Babangida headquarters of Tarmuwa Local Government Area of Yobe State, according to a report by The Nation.  

Eyewitness said the insurgents headed straight for the emir’s palace upon entering the town but the Emir had left the palace before that time.

Apart from setting the palace on fire, the hoodlums also went away with a Hilux van belonging to the Emir.

A resident of the community claimed that the insurgents were on a mission to eliminate the District Head in a revenge mission for earlier giving intelligence report to security agencies that led to the elimination of some Boko Haram members.

http://saharareporters.com/2019/10/06/boko-haram-terrorists-burn-emir%E2%80%99s-palace-yobe

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Leah Sharibu’s school shut over fear of Boko Haram attack

by Duku Joel, Damaturu

October 6, 2019

Following Saturday’s Boko Haram attack on Babangida in Tarmuwa Local Government, authorities of Government Girls Science Technical College Dapchi have closed down the school.

Babangida is about 50km from Dapchi.

A source from the school informed our correspondent that the decision was taken by the leadership of PTA of the school as a measure to safe guard the students from Boko Haram terrorists.

Government Girls Science Technical College Dapchi is the girls’ secondary school where over 100 school girls were abducted on February 19 2018 along with Leah Sharibu, who is still in Boko Haram captivity after her mates were released.

The Chairman of Abducted Dapchi School Girls’ Parents Alhaji Bashir Manzo confirmed that the PTA in conjunction with the parents of the Abducted Dapchi School Girls and the management of the school took that decision to avert the looming danger of attack on the school.

Manzo disclosed that on two occasions after the resumption of this term, the JTF Commander in Dapchi instructed that the students should be evacuated from their hostels due to intelligence reports that some Boko Haram elements were sighted at Sasawa close to the town.

“It is true that the school has been closed down for now because of the recent developments that are going on around the town.

“Last Thursday, the military commander in Dapchi instructed that the girls should be moved out of the hostel.

“They were evacuated to the house of the District Head. The military told us that some Boko Haram elements were sighted at Sasawa and therefore the school girls should be kept safe.

“For the second time again, the soldiers came and instructed for the evacuation of the girls to the house of the District Head where they slept.

“Now following what happened in Babangida yesterday and the recent developments, we sat down with the PTA and decided that the children should just go home pending when adequate security measures will be taken.

“We gathered the students and addressed them and gave them transport fare to go back to their houses.

Full report at:

https://thenationonlineng.net/leah-sharibus-school-shut-over-fear-of-boko-haram-attack/

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Gov Sule urges Muslim faithful to pray for peace in Nigeria

October 7, 2019

Sule made the appeal at the opening ceremony of the 23rd annual Qur’anic Recitation competition organised by the Directorate of Education of Izala group in Lafia.

According to him, this country needs a lot of prayers for peace to reign, and called on the Muslim faithful to unite, work together and pray for the country.

“I urge our Muslim brothers to unite, work together and pray for the country, this country needs a lot prayers, and this kind of event, people’s prayers will actually go a long way to bring about desired peace,” he said.

Sheikh Sani Yayaya-Jingir, the National Chairman of the directorate of education of Izala group, said the Qur’anic recitation is an annual event organised to bring Muslim faithful together to learn and hear the voice of Almighty Allah.

Yayaya-Jingir said the six-day event would educate people on the importance of unity and peace.

Full report at:

https://www.pulse.ng/communities/religion/gov-sule-urges-muslim-faithful-to-pray-for-peace-in-nigeria/x1n9zr8

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Exit poll shows Islamist Ennahda party first in Tunisia election

6 October 2019

Tunisia’s Islamist Ennahda party gained most votes in Sunday’s parliamentary election, an exit poll by Sigma Conseil broadcast by state television showed.

The poll showed Ennahda with 17.5 percent of the vote and its main rival, the Heart of Tunisia party of detained media mogul Nabil Karoui with 15.6 percent of the vote.

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/north-africa/2019/10/06/Exit-poll-shows-Islamist-Ennahda-party-first-in-Tunisia-election.html

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UN peacekeeper killed, five wounded in Mali

7 October 2019

One peacekeeper was killed and five others were wounded Sunday when a roadside bomb exploded in strife-torn northeastern Mali, the UN mission MINUSMA said.

The peacekeepers were carrying out a security patrol near the town of Aguelhok when the device detonated, spokesman Olivier Salgado said on Facebook.

In January, 11 Chadian members of MINUSMA were killed in an attack by jihadists in Aguelhok.

That attack was claimed by the Group to Support Islam and Muslims (GSIM), which has sworn allegiance to Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM).

The head of MINUSMA, Mahamat Saleh Annadif, “strongly condemned the recent increase in these kinds of attacks, especially in the center” of the country, the UN mission said.

MINUSMA has lost more than 200 peacekeepers since it was set up in 2013, according to its website.

Salgado said unidentified gunmen on Sunday targeted UN peacekeepers near the central town of Bandiagara in a separate attack, with no casualties.

Northern Mali fell into the hands of extremists in 2012 before the militants were forced out by a French-led military intervention.

Full report at:

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/world/2019/10/07/UN-peacekeeper-killed-five-wounded-in-Mali.html

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At least 23 killed in Burkina Faso militant attack

James Tasamba  

06.10.2019

OUAGADOUGOU, Burkina Faso

At least 23 people were killed in an attack at a gold mining site in northern Burkina Faso in a latest violence by the militants linked to Al-Qaeda, security source said late Saturday.

“Armed individuals attacked the gold mining site at Dolmane, leaving around 23 people dead,” local media reported, quoting a security source.

The attack took place in Soum province on Friday, the report said.

The victims were mainly gold miners, and several others were injured, it said.

At least 29 people were killed in two separate attacks in northern Burkina Faso on Sept. 8, according to the government.

The first attack took place in the Barsalogho area when a vehicle loaded with passengers and goods rode over an improvised explosive device (IED), leaving at least 15 passengers dead --most of the victims were businesspeople.

The second attack targeted food vans driving in convoy, leaving 14 people dead.

Burkina Faso has been battling militants and inter-ethnic violence since 2015.

In August, suspected militants killed 24 soldiers in the deadliest attack on the country’s military base.

Three key militant groups have been raking havoc in north and east.

But even the capital Ouagadougou has not been spared.

A March 2018 attack on the military headquarters left eight dead.

Reports indicate hundreds of people have been killed so far this year and more than 150,000 fled their homes due to attacks which spill across the Sahel region.

Full report at:

https://www.aa.com.tr/en/africa/at-least-23-killed-in-burkina-faso-militant-attack/1603884

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South Asia

 

Special Forces kill, wound 18 Taliban militants in Ghazni province

07 Oct 2019

The Afghan Special Forces conducted an operation in Ghazni province during which killed or wounded at least 18 Taliban militants.

According to a statement released by 203rd Thunder Corps, the Special Forces conducted the operation in Deh Yak district.

The statement further added that the Special Forces killed 12 Taliban militants and wounded 6 others during the raid.

Furthermore, the 203rd Thunder Corps said the Afghan army conducted artillery strikes in Qayaq Valley of Jaghatoo district, killing 4 Taliban militants and destroying 3 motorcycles.

The Thunder Corps also added that the security forces discovered and defused 5 improvised explosive devices during the operations in Ghazni and Paktika provinces.

https://www.khaama.com/special-forces-kill-wound-18-taliban-militants-in-ghazni-province-04191/

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Bangladesh: Opposition demands cancellation of pacts signed with India

Sahidul Hasan Khokon

October 6, 2019

Accusing the Bangladesh government of violating the Constitution by signing "anti-state" bilateral documents with India, the Opposition party, Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) on Sunday demanded the annulment of the deals Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina signed on Saturday.

Speaking at a press conference at BNP's Nayapaltan central office, party senior joint secretary general Ruhul Kabir Rizvi demanded that the Bangladesh prime minister step down for breaching her constitutional oath by signing 'unilateral' documents with India to protect her own interests and sacrificing the national ones.

"We strongly denounce and protest the anti-sate deals, including the withdrawal of water from the Feni River by India. We demand the immediate cancellation of those documents," he said.

The BNP leader further said, "We want to say the signing of bilateral documents, allowing India to use Chattogram and Mongla ports, withdraw water from the Feni River, import bulk LPG from Bangladesh for its north-eastern states is a clear violation of the Constitution. It's also tantamount to treason."

Rizvi said Sheikh Hasina has lost all the constitutional rights to remain in the post of the prime minister by signing the documents with India as she only protected the interests of the neighboring country.

Full report at:

https://www.indiatoday.in/world/story/bangladesh-opposition-demands-cancellation-of-pacts-signed-with-india-1606771-2019-10-06

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US releases 11 Taliban leaders in prisoners swap deal

Tahir Khan

OCTOBER 7, 2019

The United States on Sunday released 11 Afghan Taliban leaders in Afghanistan under a swap deal as part of a major confidence building measure to revive the peace process, at least two Taliban leaders said.

The freed Taliban include governors in Taliban rule for Kunar and Nimroz provinces Sheikh Abdul Rahim and Maulvi Rashid respectively and Aziz ur Rahman, also known as Ehsanullah, the nephew of the Taliban deputy chief Sirajuddin Haqqani.

A Taliban official told Daily Times that the Taliban were freed from the Bagram prison under the US control and handed over to the Taliban leaders in the northern Baghlan province in their controlled areas.

He said the Taliban leaders were released in exchange for three Indian engineers, who were among a group of seven engineers kidnapped from Baghlan in May 2018.

Taliban never officially claimed responsibility for the kidnapping of the Indian engineers. However, Taliban sources say the Indian engineers were held hostage by the Taliban.

The US, Taliban and the Afghan government did not offer any comments on the swap deal. However, dozens of Taliban social media handlers posted photographs and videos of the freed Taliban.

The issue of prisoners was prominently figured during the Taliban-US talks in Qatar and progress was made during the ninth round in August, according to Taliban sources.

A Taliban official says that Pakistan had been involved in mediation for the release of an American and an Australian professor, who Taliban had kidnapped from Kabul in 2016. There was an understanding that the professors would be exchanged with a group of Taliban inmates including Anas Haqqani, brother of Siraj Haqqani.

Anas was arrested by the American security officials in Bahrain in 2014 on return from Qatar along with another Taliban official. They were later handed over to the Afghan authorities.

Prime Minister Imran Khan had stated during his visits to Washington in July that there will be a good news within 48 hours about the two professors in Taliban custody but the exchange was delayed apparently due to the deadlock in the peace process.

The issue of prisoners exchange came under discussion in the talks in Islamabad between the Taliban and the US peace envoy Zalmay Khalilzad last week and as a first step the American security officials released 11 Taliban leaders to create trust and to move towards the revival of the peace process.

More Taliban prisoners, including Anas Haqqani, are likely to be freed in the next phase in exchange of the American and Australian professors of the American university in Kabul.

Taliban political representatives have wrapped up their four-day visit to Pakistan during which they met Khalilzad and discussed ways to return to the negotiation table, sources privy to the development said on Sunday.

“Taliban are satisfied with the outcome of the discussions,” a Taliban political representative said, adding that the Taliban leaders are now involved in internal consultations to respond to the US suggestions during the talks in Islamabad.

Taliban planned to announce ceasefire in September

Meanwhile, Russian President Vladimir Putin’s Special Representative for Afghanistan Zamir Kabulov has said that the Taliban were scheduled to declare ceasefire with the US and NATO on September 13, the date set for signing of the peace agreement between the US and the Taliban.

Kabulov was speaking to the Indian media outlet the Strategic News International (SNI) weeks after President Donald Trump abruptly cancelled peace talks with the Taliban, citing a Taliban-claimed suicide attack that had killed an American soldier and 10 more people.

“They (Taliban) agreed that ceasefire will be announced immediately on the event of signing of the deal so it was supposed to start on 13th of September,” the Russian envoy said.

“They told us that they managed to completely agree on the text of their future bilateral agreement and it was ready to be signed precisely on 13 of September,” he said, adding that all of sudden the Americans stopped the process.

“But the Taliban came to us to brief us and to announce that they are still ready to resume talks and to finalize the agreement. If the Americans choose war, they (Taliban) are ready for war. This was natural and their message,” Kabulov said.

Full report at:

https://dailytimes.com.pk/479804/us-releases-11-taliban-leaders-in-prisoners-swap-deal/

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India, Bangladesh call for safe return of Rakhine refugees

07 OCT 2019

The prime ministers of India and Bangladesh have agreed on the need for greater efforts to facilitate the safe return of hundreds of thousands of Muslim refugees from northern Rakhine who have fled violence in Myanmar and taken refuge in Bangladesh, the two leaders said over the weekend.

The statement, issued Saturday during a visit to India by Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, said that she and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi agreed that the measures should include improving security and socio-economic conditions in Rakhine.

India will provide additional humanitarian aid to help refugees living in camps in Bangladesh, according to the statement.

In what has become Asia’s largest refugee crisis in decades, some 700,000 Muslims from northern Rakhine fled to Bangladesh during a months-long military crackdown against the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA) that started in August 2017.

At the United Nations General Assembly, Yanghee Lee said in a report circulated Friday that living conditions for the remaining Muslims in northern Rakihine “remain dreadful.”

The UN special rapporteur appointed by the Geneva-based Human Rights Council said the Muslim residents can’t leave their villages to earn a living, making them dependent on humanitarian aid, whose access “has been so heavily diminished that their basic means for survival has been affected.

“While this situation persists, it is not safe or sustainable for refugees to return,” Lee said.

She also expressed concern that a household-counting exercise in the Muslim villages “is an effort to erase” the Muslim villagers from administrative records and make their return less possible.

Full report at:

https://www.mmtimes.com/news/india-bangladesh-call-safe-return-rakhine-refugees.html

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Taliban militants release 43 abducted residents of Ghazni province

06 Oct 2019

The Taliban militants have released 43 civilians whom they had abducted from Khwaja Omari district of Ghazni province.

According to a statement released by Governor’s Office of Ghazni, the Taliban militants had abducted 43 civilians in Khwaja Omari district two days ago.

The statement further added that the hostages were the residents of Deh Haji Village.

The Governor’s Office also added that the Taliban militants released the hostages late on Saturday after the local tribal elders intervened and negotiated with the militants.

Full report at:

https://www.khaama.com/taliban-militants-release-43-abducted-residents-of-ghazni-province-04189/

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Mideast

 

Over 120 settlers violate Aqsa Mosque protected by Israeli forces

Oct 6, 2019

Dozens of Israeli settlers have violated the al-Aqsa Mosque compound in the occupied Old City of East Jerusalem al-Quds under the tight protection of regime forces.

According to a statement by the Department of Islamic Endowments in Jerusalem al-Quds, carried by the Palestine Information Center, 121 Israeli settlers entered the compound from the Moroccan Gate on Sunday morning, attempting to perform rituals.

It said that 62 of the extremist settlers performed rituals in the courtyards while the mosque guards prevented many others from doing so during their provocative tours at the holy site.

Israeli forces stationed at al-Aqsa gates imposed restrictions on Palestinian worshipers’ access to the mosque, demanded their ID cards, frisked them, and searched their bags, the statement added.

Hard-line Israeli legislators and extremist settlers regularly violate the al-Aqsa Mosque compound in the occupied city, a provocative move that infuriates Palestinians.

The al-Aqsa Mosque compound sits just above the Western Wall plaza and houses both the Dome of the Rock and the al-Aqsa Mosque.

According to an agreement signed between the Israeli regime and the Jordanian government after Israel’s occupation of East Jerusalem al-Quds in 1967, non-Muslim worship at the compound is prohibited.

Palestinians want the occupied West Bank as part of their future independent state with East Jerusalem al-Quds as the capital of their future sovereign state.

Israeli military closes Ibrahimi Mosque

Separately on Sunday, the Palestinian Ministry of Awqaf and Religious Affairs, in a statement, strongly condemned the decision made by the Israeli military to shut the Ibrahimi Mosque in al-Khalil (Hebron) on Sunday and next Wednesday in order to allow Israeli settlers to hold celebrations inside it.

The ministry further said that the Israeli forces intended to storm the Mosque on Tuesday from 02:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. local time.

Husam Abul-Rab, the deputy minister of religious affairs, stressed the need to immediately move to save the mosque and to end all such violations against it.

https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2019/10/06/608023/Palestine-Israeli-settlers-Aqsa-Mosque-Ibrahimi-Mosque

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Israeli minister seeks ‘non-aggression’ pacts with Arab nations

October 06, 2019

JERUSALEM: Israeli Foreign Minister Israel Katz said Sunday he was seeking “non-aggression” agreements with Gulf Arab nations that do not formally recognize the country as a prelude to possible future peace deals.

Details of the proposal were not made public, but it was the latest sign of Israel’s push to improve ties with Gulf Arab nations with whom it has no formal diplomatic relations.

Israel’s occupation of Palestinian territory has long served as a major factor preventing peace deals with Arab countries, but common concerns over Iran are widely seen as having brought them closer in recent years.

“Recently, I have been promoting, under the backing of the United States, a political initiative to sign ‘non-aggression agreements’ with the Arab Gulf states,” Katz wrote on Twitter.

“The historic move will put an end to the conflict and allow civilian cooperation until peace agreements are signed.”

Katz said he discussed the initiative with unnamed Arab foreign ministers and US President Donald Trump’s outgoing envoy Jason Greenblatt while attending the UN General Assembly in late September.

A spokesman for Katz declined to provide further details for now, and it was not clear how much progress he has made in the endeavour.

Only two Arab countries — Jordan and Egypt — have peace treaties with Israel, but there have been overt signs in recent months of improved relations with Gulf nations.

Full report at:

https://www.arabnews.com/node/1564926/middle-east

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Representative of Iran’s Khamenei calls on Iraqis to attack ‘spy den’ US embassy

6 October 2019

Hossein Shariatmadari, one of Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei’s representatives, and the head of Iran’s hardline Kayhan newspaper, called on Iraqis to “occupy the US embassy like the Iranians did in 1979,” following major protests that gripped Baghdad in recent days.

In an editorial that featured in the newspaper on Saturday, Shariatmadari reiterated accusations by top Iranian officials claiming that the protests were instigated “by America and foreign elements.”

Occupying the US embassy in Tehran has had “many achievements” for Iran, he wrote, adding: “Why should Iraq’s revolutionary youth deprive their country of such achievements?”

Supporters of the founder of the Islamic Republic and former Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini attacked and occupied the US embassy in Tehran in November of 1979, less than a year after the Islamic revolution in Iran.

US diplomats and embassy staff were held hostage for 444 days in an incident, which kick-started US sanctions against Iran.

On Friday, a senior Iranian cleric accused the US and Israel of inciting unrest in Iraq to disrupt Iranian pilgrims from participating in the Shia Arbaeen pilgrimage held in Iraq, according to the Tasnim news agency.

“The enemy is now determined against the Islamic nation, America and Zionism ... are targeting the Arbaeen and Iraq, and causing trouble because it is hard for them to accept the presence of millions [of pilgrims] in Karbala,” Tasnim reported Ayatollah Mohammad Emami-Kashani as saying.

The protests in Iraq were sparked by chronic unemployment and poor public services, but many protesters voiced their discontent with Iran’s influence in Iraq.

Protestors have reportedly been chanting slogans against Iran for supporting Shia militias and groups who have a stranglehold on Iraq’s politics.

“Foreign elements’ presence is very clear in the latest unrest in Iraq,” Shariatmadari insisted, adding that “the citizens [Iraqis] should occupy the [US] embassy because it is a spy den.”

Khamenei’s representative said the foreign elements “directed the protests against the alliance between the Iraqi and Iranian governments.”

“At the beginning, they [protesters] went out under the pretext of deteriorating living conditions, then they repeated slogans against Iran and the Popular Mobilization Movement.”

Many of the Popular Mobilization Units (PMU) militias are loyal to Iran, and the PMU’s deputy commander Jamal Jaafar al-Ibrahimi – known by his nom de guerre Abu Mahdi al-Mohandes – is a key Iranian ally. Mohandes is also the leader of Katai’b Hezbollah, the terrorist organization accused of attacking Saudi Arabian oil pipelines in May.

On Thursday, Iraq’s foreign ministry summoned Iran’s ambassador to Baghdad to denounce his statement threatening that Tehran would retaliate against an American attack anywhere in the world, including in Iraq.

The ministry statement said Iraqi official Abdul-Karim Hashem told Iran’s envoy, Iraj Masjedi, that American troops are in Iraq at the request of the Iraqi government.

Iraqi protesters have pressed on with angry anti-government rallies in the capital and across several provinces for a fifth day on Saturday, setting government offices on fire and ignoring appeals for calm from political and religious leaders.

Full report at:

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2019/10/06/Representative-of-Iran-s-Khamenei-calls-on-Iraqis-to-attack-spy-den-US-embassy.html

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Khamenei says ‘enemies seek to sow discord’ between Iran and Iraq

7 October 2019

Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei said on Monday that “enemies seek to sow discord” between Iran and Iraq.

“#Iran and #Iraq are two nations whose hearts & souls are tied together... Enemies seek to sow discord but they’ve failed & their conspiracy won’t be effective,” Khamenei said on Twitter.

Khamenei.ir

@khamenei_ir

#Iran and #Iraq are two nations whose hearts & souls are tied together through faith in God & love for #ImamHussain & the progeny of the Prophet (pbut). This bond will grow stronger day by day.

Enemies seek to sow discord but they’ve failed & their conspiracy won’t be effective. https://twitter.com/ar_khamenei/status/1180922270535032833 …

الإمام الخامنئي

@ar_khamenei

إيران و #العراق شعبان ترتبط أجسادهما وقلوبهما وأرواحهما بوسيلة الإيمان بالله وبالمحبّة لأهل البيت وللحسين بن علي؛ وسوف يزداد هذا الارتباط وثاقة يوماً بعد يوم. يسعى الأعداء للتفرقة، لكنهم عجزوا ولن يكون لمؤامرتهم أثر.#الحسين_يجمعنا

816

2:07 AM - Oct 7, 2019

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State news agency IRNA said the supreme leader was reacting to recent violence in Iraq.

More than 100 people have been killed in Iraq since clashes erupted last week between protesters and security forces, the majority of them demonstrators struck by bullets.

The Iraqi authorities have accused “saboteurs” and unidentified snipers of targeting the protesters.

Iran has urged its citizens planning to take part in a major Shia pilgrimage in Iraq to delay their travel into the country over the violence.

Tehran has close but complicated ties with Baghdad, with significant influence among its Shiite political groups.

Full report at:

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2019/10/07/Khamenei-says-enemies-seek-to-sow-discord-between-Iran-and-Iraq.html

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Iranian army deploys surveillance systems on border with Iraq

6 October 2019

The Iranian army has deployed protection surveillance systems on its western borders with Iraq, according to a report by the semi-official Mehr news agency.

Deputy Coordinator of Iran’s Army Ground Forces Ali Jahanshahi disclosed the deployment during a visit to the country’s shared borders with Iraq. The army ground forces are in charge of the security of Iran’s western borders.

Jahanshahi said cameras were deployed for full surveillance to have better protection in the border areas. Jahanshahi added that deploying protection surveillance systems on Iran’s other borders are on the agenda.

The move comes as protests have caused unrest in Iraq. At least 104 people have been killed and more than 6,000 have been wounded in the last week, according to Iraq’s Interior Ministry spokesman Major General Saad Maan.

Full report at:

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2019/10/06/Iranian-army-deploys-surveillance-systems-on-border-with-Iraq.html

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Iranian protesters blame health authorities for HIV outbreak

6 October 2019

Protests have broken out in Iran’s province of Charmahal-Bakhtiari on Saturday following an HIV outbreak, which protesters blamed on infected syringes used by health authorities.

Locals in Chenar Mahmoud village in Lordegan city said that a large number of the villagers have been infected with HIV due to the local health authorities’ negligence, according to media reports.

The local health authorities used infected syringes for multiple persons when taking diabetes tests, according to the protesters, reported the BBC Persian.

Protesters in the city of Lordegan, Charmahal-Bakhtiari province attacked and set fire to the office of the representative of the Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, videos of the protests on social media platforms show.

The protesters also attacked and set fire to the governor's building, the local health center, and a number of anti-riot police vehicles.

Videos of the protests on social media also show anti-riot police firing tear gas at protesters.

Dozens of protesters have been injured, according to unconfirmed reports.

The protests initially broke out on Tuesday.

Iran’s Health Minister Saeed Namaki has rejected the claims that infected syringes are the reason for the spread of HIV in the Chenar Mahmoud village.

Instead, Namaki has blamed drug addicts and sexual immorality in the village for the HIV outbreak in the village.

Parliament member Mohammad Hossein Ghorbgani had also denied the protesters’ claims.

“Out of this village’s 1,800 population, 240 are addicts, and 20 of them use syringes, and this has led to the spread of AIDS,” he said.

Full report at:

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2019/10/06/Iranian-protesters-blame-health-authorities-for-HIV-outbreak.html

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Turkish NBA star ‘shocked’ by harassment outside mosque

6 October 2019

Turkish NBA player Enes Kanter said on Sunday in an exclusive interview with Al Arabiya English that he was shocked when two Turkish men harassed and threatened him outside his mosque in Massachusetts on Friday.

Kanter, an outspoken critic of Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, taped the incident and shared the video on social media. The video shows two men, described as supporters of Erdogan, waiting outside of the Islamic Society of Boston in Cambridge as Kanter left the building.

Kanter said the two Turkish men cursed at him, threatened him and called him a “traitor.”

“This happened at Friday prayer. I was shocked to see the thugs outside and verbally attacking me. I talk about democracy and human rights [for the people of Turkey] and they hate that, so they think I’m a traitor. I love my country. I’m fighting for freedom of speech and democracy in my homeland,” said Kanter in an exclusive interview with Al Arabiya English.

Enes Kanter

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Hello Everyone!#DictatorErdogan @RTErdogan thugs attacked and threatened me today after Friday prayer in Boston at a mosque

Turkish Government don't even let me practice my religion freely in America let alone my freedom of speech is under attack@FBI@FBIBoston@bostonpolice

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In spite of the backlash, Kanter frequently uses his public platform to criticize Erdogan’s policies and the Turkish government’s authoritarian rule. He receives most threats online, but on Friday the threats were manifested up in real life outside his place of worship.

“They can’t stand me practicing my freedom of religion here in America. I shouldn’t be feeling uncomfortable or insecure while critiquing anyone, but unfortunately even in America they make me feel this insecurity,” said Kanter.

Kanter’s role as a political critic began in 2013, when Erdogan began shutting down private college preparatory centers in Turkey. The clampdown was seen as a move against the popular cleric Fethullah Gulen, who Kanter supports, after protests against Erdogan’s authoritarianism in Gezi Park, Istanbul.

In May, 2016, Kanter – who had moved from Turkey to the US at age 17 and was then playing for Oklahoma City Thunder – was accused of insulting Erdogan on Twitter. The Turkish government issued a warrant for his arrest known as an Interpol “red notice.”

“A prosecutor indicted me for four years jail time for ‘insulting’ Erdogan - who deserves every single criticism in the name of him violating human and democratic rights,” Kanter told Al Arabiya English.

Kanter’s family, who live in Turkey, were also targeted by the state.

Kanter’s father was fired from his position as a university professor during the 2016 purge of public employees, as tens of thousands of people were arrested or dismissed from government jobs, and thousands of media organizations or civil society groups were shut, in a clampdown following the failed military coup against Erdogan’s government.

His father was also jailed for one week as a result of Kanter’s political status. Kanter has not communicated with his parents or sister in Turkey since their family home was raided in 2016. He hasn’t seen them in four years.

Kanter himself has been made stateless as a result of his criticism. In 2017, while on a worldwide tour for his charitable Enes Kanter Foundation, Kanter was detained in a Romanian airport after authorities told him his passport was invalid. Turkey had revoked Kanter's passport, rendering him stateless.

Full report at:

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/features/2019/10/06/Turkish-NBA-star-shocked-by-harassment-outside-mosque.html

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Europeans in no position to quit nuclear deal: Iran FM

Oct 6, 2019

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif says the European signatories to a nuclear deal signed between Iran and major world powers in 2015 are legally in no position to withdraw from the accord.

Zarif made the remarks in Tehran on Sunday while addressing an open session of the Iranian Parliament, saying that the three European parties to the nuclear deal, officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), have failed to fulfill their obligations under the pact and even violated it in some cases.

"In addition to the US that blatantly violated the agreement through its withdrawal, the Europeans (Britain, France and Germany) have also put on the same attitude in some cases," the top Iranian diplomat said.

Zarif emphasized that the JCPOA was an international agreement, which has been ratified by the United Nations and has a clear framework, emphasizing, "The US has pulled out of the deal in violation of international regulations."

US President Donald Trump is a stern critic of the nuclear accord, which was clinched by Iran and the five permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany. Under the agreement, nuclear-related sanctions against Iran were lifted in exchange for curbs on Tehran's nuclear program.

Trump unilaterally withdrew the US from the deal in May 2018 and unleashed the "toughest ever" sanctions against the Islamic Republic in defiance of global criticism in a bid to strangle the Iranian oil trade.

In response to the White House, Tehran has so far rowed back on its nuclear commitments three times in compliance with Articles 26 and 36 of the JCPOA but stressed that its retaliatory measures will be reversible as soon as Europe finds practical ways to shield the mutual trade from the US sanctions.

The Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI) said on Sunday that Tehran will continue to further scale back its commitments under the JCPOA if the other signatories fail to keep their side of the bargain.

"Iran's decision to reduce part of its commitments under the JCPOA was taken after one-year strategic patience in response to a unilateral move by Washington to withdraw from the deal and with the purpose of striking balance between the [country's] rights and commitments," said the AEOI's deputy head for international, parliamentary and legal affairs, Behrouz Kamalvandi.

Full report at:

https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2019/10/06/608017/Zarif-Parliament-JCPOA-nuclear-Iran-Europeans

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Israel, Arab states agree to advance 'alliance': Report

Oct 6, 2019

Persian Gulf Arab states and Israel have agreed to advance a "historic" alliance no matter what happens to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Tel Aviv-based Channel 12 television network reports.

The agreement was reached between Israeli foreign minister Israel Katz and his Arab counterparts who met on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly two weeks ago, the report said.

As a follow-up to the meeting, teams would be formed to discuss the plan, which would forge relations between the sides "irrespective of what occurs with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict," the Jerusalem Post reported.

The newspaper said Katz’s spokesperson confirmed to the Jerusalem Post that the report was accurate. Katz also presented the plan to US special envoy for the Middle East Jason Greenblatt.

The initiative calls for developing “friendly relations and cooperation,” preventing hostility or incitement to hostility against each other, and eschewing any military or security alliance with other parties against each other. 

Israel has full diplomatic ties with only two Arab states - Egypt and Jordan - but reports suggest Tel Aviv is working behind the scenes to establish formal contacts with such countries as Saudi Arabia and Bahrain.

Last month, Katz tweeted that he had held talks in New York with an unnamed counterpart from an Arab country with which Tel Aviv does not have formal relations.

They discussed “ways to deal with the Iranian threat” and a process for boosting “civilian cooperation,” he said.

In July, the Israeli top diplomat traveled to the UAE capital on his second public visit to a Persian Gulf country in eight months after visiting Oman in November 2018.

Later that month, he shared a photograph with Bahraini Foreign Minister Khalid bin Ahmed Al Khalifah during an event in Washington.

Last week, Israel's ambassador to the UN said the regime and various Arab countries have been working together at the UN and elsewhere against Iran.

Full report at:

https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2019/10/06/607982/Israel-Persian-Gulf-Israel-Katz

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Houthis killed in clashes with Yemeni army

October 07, 2019

DUBAI: Several elements of the Houthi militia were killed and wounded in confrontations with Yemeni armed forces in west of the country’s Al-Jawf province, Saudi state news agency reported on Sunday.

The clashes happened after the Iranian-backed militia tried to sneak into the army’s sites in the fronts of Sadah and Waqaz in Al-Masloup district. The troops warded off the Houthis’ attempt and forced them to leave.

Full report at:

https://www.arabnews.com/node/1565246/middle-east

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Europe

 

France probes security agency 'threats' after police killer with high-level clearance revealed as Islamic 'radical'

Henry Samuel, paris

6 OCTOBER 2019

France is to probe “internal threats” to all its intelligence services after prosecutors confirmed an IT worker with high-security clearance who killed four at Paris police headquarters had a “radical vision of Islam”.

The inquiries came amid calls for Christophe Castaner, the interior minister, to resign over the security failure. He had initially said the murderer had displayed “no behavioural problems” or prompted any “alerts”.

On Thursday lunchtime, Mickael Harpon, 45, a computer expert who had worked for 20 years in the Paris police’s intelligence directorate, stabbed to death four colleagues - three officers and an administrative worker - before being shot dead by a police trainee.

Paris prosecutor Jean-François Ricard said Harpon had been in contact with members of Salafism, an ultra-conservative branch of Sunni Islam, and defended "atrocities committed in the name of that religion”.

Yet he worked in a section of the police service dedicated to collecting information on jihadist radicalisation.

Harpon held a high-level "defence secrets" security clearance, which authorised him to handle sensitive information of national defence importance and would have subjected him to regular, stringent security checks.

He had supported the Charlie Hebdo attacks in 2015 and had changed his attire in recent months, shunning "all Western clothes in favour of traditional garments to visit the mosque", said Mr Ricard in a press conference on Saturday.

The revelations prompted Edouard Philippe, the prime minister, to launch two internal inquiries. The first will probe the intelligence directorate, DRPP, where Harpon had worked since 2003.

“It will determine, on the one hand, if detection and alert tools were in place at DRPP and whether they worked,” he told Le Journal du Dimanche. Its findings are due by the end of the month.

A second probe, completed by the end of the year, will sift through all of France’s anti-terror intelligence services for such “internal threats”.

“The sieve will be very fine,” said Mr Philippe.

In June, a parliamentary report on radicalisation within the public services spoke of 30 suspected cases out of the 150,000 police officers and 130,000 gendarmes in France.

The revelations of Harpon’s radicalism sparked opposition calls for the resignation of the interior minister. Mr Castaner was due to address these in an evening TV interview on Sunday, but earlier ruled out resigning while admitting that there were “obviously security failures”. He is to be grilled next week by France’s parliamentary intelligence committee.

Harpon converted to Islam about 10 years ago, the prosecutor said. He had no police record but was investigated for domestic violence in 2009.

On the morning of his "extremely violent" attack, he bought two knives - a 33-centimetre long kitchen knife and an oyster knife - which he kept hidden, Mr Ricard said.

He showed "absolutely no signs of nervousness" as he circled back to police headquarters, according to CCTV footage examined by police, the prosecutor said.

The attack, from his return to the office, the killings and his death by police bullets, lasted seven minutes.

He first killed a 50-year old police major and a 38-year old guard who worked in the same office as Harpon and were having lunch at their desks.

He then went to another office on the same floor where he killed a 37-year old administrative worker. Having failed to enter another office, which was locked, he went down into the courtyard where he stabbed a 39-year old policewoman who later died of her wounds.

He then injured two other people, before the trainee policeman killed him with two shots.

Shortly before the attack he had exchanged 33 text messages with his wife.  The messages exclusively concerned religion, and the attacker ended the conversation with "Allahu Akbar" ("God is greatest") and told her to "follow our beloved prophet Mohammed and meditate on the Koran", according to the prosecutor. She was being held by police on Sunday.

Full report at:

https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2019/10/06/france-probes-security-agency-threats-police-killer-high-level/

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Greece moves 570 migrants from overcrowded camp

6 October 2019

A regularly scheduled ferry left the Greek island of Lesbos carrying around 570 migrants who used to live in the migrant camp of Moria.

Authorities say this is part of the plan to reduce overcrowding at the camp where about 13,000 people live in a space designed for 3,000.

Migrants, most of them Afghans, have protested, sometimes violently, over the prevailing conditions, demanding transfer out of Moria and a quick response to their asylum demands.

Authorities say the 570 are among what they term “vulnerable categories” - families, single women with children and unaccompanied minors.

Full report at:

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/world/2019/10/06/Greece-moves-570-migrants-from-overcrowded-camp.html

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Germany wants closer cooperation with Turkey: Minister

Ayhan Şimşek  

06.10.2019

BERLIN

Germany’s interior minister on Sunday called for closer cooperation with Turkey to handle the refugee and migration crisis.

Horst Seehofer said in an exclusive interview with Welt am Sonntag weekly that they were not in a position to address migration and refugee issues alone by the arrangements of the past.

“There I would like to further strengthen our cooperation with Turkey. I would direct my efforts to that,” he stressed.

Seehofer visited Turkey and Greece last week to discuss ways to improve the 2016 EU-Turkey agreement to support Syrian refugees and stem irregular migration.

He praised Turkey’s efforts for Syrian refugees and reaffirmed Germany’s commitment to the EU-Turkey agreement, which he said has been successful so far.

Asked by the Welt am Sonntag about possible additional financial support to Turkey for the needs of the Syrian refugees, Seehofer said this issue would be discussed among EU member states.

“I will do my part to ensure that Turkey’s efforts, which has been in the interest of us all, would be considered appropriately,” he said.

The EU-Turkey refugee agreement has been successful in significantly reducing the number of crossings in the Aegean Sea, and preventing the loss of many lives. But the EU’s bureaucratic hurdles and delays to mobilize promised funds led to sharp criticism by Turkish politicians.

The 28-member bloc promised €6 billion ($6.6 billion) of aid for 2016-2019 to improve living conditions of Syrian refugees in Turkey. But so far, only €3.71 billion were contracted and €2.57 billion disbursed.

The EU also pledged that for every Syrian returned to Turkey from Greek islands, another Syrian will be resettled from Turkey to the EU as part of a resettlement plan.

But the pace of returns to Turkey from the Greek islands under the agreement has been slow largely due to lengthy legal processes and administrative problems in Greece.

The EU member states only accepted around 20,000 Syrian refugees from Turkey since 2016.

Full report at:

https://www.aa.com.tr/en/europe/germany-wants-closer-cooperation-with-turkey-minister/1603750

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Counter-terror police running secret Prevent database

6 Oct 2019

Counter-terror police across the UK have been running a secret database containing details of thousands of individuals referred to the government’s controversial anti-radicalisation Prevent programme, the Guardian can reveal.

The National Police Prevent Case Management (PCM) database is managed centrally by national counter-terrorism policing headquarters. It is accessible to all police forces across England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, and the Home Office are able to request data from it, according to documents sent to the human rights group Liberty and seen by the Guardian.

The stated aim of Prevent, a voluntary programme, is to divert people from terrorism before they offend and crucially deals with individuals who have yet to cross the criminality threshold.

Each Prevent referral received is added to the PCM database by individual police forces, including personal details and reasons for the referral, but the person is not notified, responses to Freedom of Information (FOI) requests submitted by Liberty showed. Other agencies are able to request information held on the database.

The revelations about the existence of the database come at a time when Prevent is facing renewed scrutiny as an independent review begins, sparked by years of accusations that the programme had become a toxic brand that disproportionately targeted Muslims.

Police chiefs said recording referrals ensured accountability and allowed forces to understand when vulnerabilities are increasing.

Gracie Bradley, Liberty policy and campaigns manager, said: “This secret database isn’t about keeping us safe. It’s about keeping tabs on and controlling people – particularly minority communities and political activists.

“It is utterly chilling that potentially thousands of people, including children, are on a secret government database because of what they’re perceived to think or believe.”

Any rank of police officer or staff can access the database but users must be Prevent practitioners, who are vetted and given training prior to access.

Chief constables are the designated data controllers within their respective forces.

The exact number of individuals on the database is currently unknown but forces that responded to Liberty’s request for information said all referrals were added at the time of receipt and official statistics show that 21,042 individuals have been referred in the three years to March 2018 alone.

In the most recent year available, 2017/18, a total of 7,318 individuals were subject to a referral but 3,096 or 42% left the process requiring no further action and 3,466 left the process and were signposted to alternative services.

The majority – 4,144 or 57% – were aged 20 years or under. Within this figure, 2,009 were under 15 and 2,135 were aged 15 to 20.

Ultimately, only 394 were escalated to the Channel process, which provides specialist support to people who were deemed at risk of being drawn into terrorism following a number of assessments.

Police Prevent practitioners also have access to the Channel Management Information System which is a database of Prevent Channel cases, the responses said. CMIS is owned and managed by the Home Office.

Information on the database is derived from referrals made by public servants like teachers and doctors as well as police, who are compelled to monitor and report signs of what they believe could indicate extremism under a controversial statutory duty.

In its response, the Met police said an individual can challenge the decision and have their details removed but the challenge may not always be successful depending on the circumstances.

However, the force did not elaborate on how that would be possible given that individuals are not aware their details are entered on the database.

Harun Khan, secretary general of the Muslim Council of Britain, said: “That a database is being compiled by police forces detailing every Prevent referral is deeply worrying. That it is secret is even more concerning.

“This database – over and above being a hugely authoritarian tool – will mean that the vast majority of those referred, who are found to have no terrorism link, will still be perceived as potential risks by the state, and this will disproportionately affect Muslims.

“Our questions on transparency, accountability and oversight around Prevent now become even more important.”

The independent review of Prevent, announced in January, attracted controversy itself when it emerged the man appointed to lead the exercise, Lord Carlile, had admitted to parliament that he “may be somewhat biased towards” the programme and had pledged his “considered and strong support” to it, prompting calls for him to step down.

Further criticism was triggered by the terms of reference for the review, published last month, which suggested the exercise would not “consider past decisions” made under the programme.

Lord Carlile sought to reassure critics by claiming that “everything is up for discussion, including scrapping” the programme.

One of four strands of the government’s counter-terrorism strategy known as Contest, Prevent was created by the Labour government in 2003 and its remit was widened by the coalition government in 2011. The statutory duty on schools, NHS trusts, prisons and local authorities to report concerns about people who may be at risk of turning to extremism or terrorism was introduced in 2015.

A National Police Chiefs’ Council spokesman said: “The public would expect the police to maintain professional records of those individuals referred for support as potential victims of radicalisation. This is no different to the way we record other forms of supportive safeguarding activity such as child sexual exploitation, domestic abuse or human trafficking.

Full report at:

https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2019/oct/06/counter-terror-police-are-running-secret-prevent-database

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North America

 

Anti-Muslim Group ACT for America Planned Gala at Mar-a-Lago

By Mariel Padilla

Oct. 5, 2019

An anti-Muslim organization plans to host its annual gala at Mar-a-Lago, President Trump’s private club in Palm Beach, Fla., in November.

ACT for America claims to be the nation’s largest grass-roots national security organization, and is considered the largest anti-Muslim group in the United States, according to the Anti-Defamation League and the Southern Poverty Law Center, which tracks such groups.

Michelle Malkin, a conservative columnist, author and television commentator, will be the keynote speaker, according to an invitation that was posted on the organization’s website.

On Sunday, a day after news reports appeared about the gala, the invitation was removed from the website and a spokeswoman for the Trump Organization said in an email, without elaboration, “This event will absolutely not be taking place at Mar-a-Lago.”

She did not respond to additional questions and organizers of the event could not be reached.

On Saturday, Ibrahim Hooper, a spokesman for the Council on American-Islamic Relations, a Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization, said the gathering should not take place.

“It’s really a violation of the U.S. Constitution to funnel funds from a hate group directly to the president and his business,” he said, referring to the emoluments clauses of the Constitution.

The domestic clause, also known as the anti-corruption clause, establishes that the president’s salary remain constant throughout his term and ensures that he not accept any additional sum. A federal appeals court revived an emoluments case against Mr. Trump in September, accusing him of illegally profiting from his hotels and restaurants.

In 2018, Mr. Trump made $22.7 million from Mar-a-Lago, The Miami Herald reported, citing a financial disclosure form filed with the United States Office of Government Ethics.

The Mar-a-Lago estate, the 118-room, Mediterranean-style resort frequently visited by the president, was built 90 years ago by the cereal heiress Marjorie Merriweather Post. If sold out, the gala could bring in more than $1 million in revenue, according to The Herald.

Ms. Malkin responded to The Herald’s reporting in a tweet on Saturday. “The smear merchants of CAIR & SPLC have ruthlessly attacked patriots of all colors who expose the dangers of radical Islam and open borders,” she wrote.

Brigitte Gabriel, who uses a pseudonym, founded ACT for America in 2007 and has said: “America has been infiltrated on all levels by radicals who wish to harm America. They have infiltrated us at the C.I.A., at the F.B.I., at the Pentagon, at the State Department. They are being radicalized in radical mosques in our cities and communities within the United States.”

The organization aims to protect the safety and security of Americans against foreign and domestic threats, according to its website.

In 2017, the group organized the “March Against Sharia,” a nationwide protest attended by far-right and white supremacist groups in about two dozen cities. That year, Marriott International faced criticism for hosting ACT for America’s annual conference in Arlington, Va.

“We have a president that likes us, President Trump,” she said at the group’s 2018 conference in Washington, D.C., according to the Southern Poverty Law Center. Ms. Gabriel also said she had a standing meeting at the White House once a week.

“It’s become crystal clear that when someone wants to influence Donald Trump, all you have to do is rent rooms at his resorts or at his golf courses and do something that provides him with funds,” Mr. Hooper said. “This hate group got the message.”

Mariel Padilla is a reporter covering national breaking news for the Express desk, based in New York. @marielpadilla_

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/10/05/us/anti-muslim-mar-a-lago.html

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Calgary Muslim association says chairperson’s house attacked in alleged arson attempt

By Brennan Doherty

Oct. 6, 2019

CALGARY — Police are investigating after someone allegedly tried to break the new chairperson of the Muslim Council of Calgary Foundation’s front door and left gasoline on the porch.

Mostafa Hassan and his family were at their home Thursday night when they heard loud banging on their door, according to the organization’s spokesperson Junaid Mahoon.

Disturbed by the commotion, they approached the door and found it “almost cracked open,” Mahoon said. When they opened the door, they found a jerry can of gasoline sitting on the doorstep, Mahoon said. Moreover, they could smell gasoline in the air.

Mahoon said the family feared that someone was trying to set their home on fire. The family contacted police.

Acting Insp. Sarah Roe confirmed police were called to the home in northwest Calgary just after 10:50 p.m. on Thursday to investigate a property damage complaint related to the broken door. She said they’ve been told about the gasoline, but investigators haven’t confirmed it.

The MCCF, an organization representing Calgary’s Muslim community, said they aren’t sure who was behind the alleged attack in a statement posted to their Facebook page on Saturday night, but they suspected it was a “hate driven act on the family and household” of the MCCF’s newly-elected chairperson.

Hassan was elected MCCF chairperson at the end of September.

“We denounce this attack as it goes against everything we stand for as Muslims and law abiding community members of our society,” it read. “A cowardly attack on an individual’s home is completely unacceptable.”

Police continue to investigate the incident. Roe said the Diversity Resources Unit, a section responsible for cultural awareness and hate crime initiatives, are now involved in the case, but investigators aren’t sure why it happened.

“The motivation into this has yet to be determined,” Roe said.

Mahoon called the incident disturbing.

Full report at:

https://www.thestar.com/calgary/2019/10/06/calgary-muslim-association-says-chairpersons-house-attacked-in-alleged-arson-attempt.html

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US to withdraw troops as Turkey launches Syria operation: White House

October 07, 2019

US troops in northern Syria will no longer be near the border with Turkey, nor will they support Ankara's "long-planned operation" into the country, the White House said on Sunday.

"Turkey will soon be moving forward with its long-planned operation into Northern Syria. The United States Armed Forces will not support or be involved in the operation, and United States forces, having defeated the ISIS territorial 'Caliphate,' will no longer be in the immediate area," the White House said, using another acronym for the militant Islamic State (IS) group.

The statement, which followed US President Donald Trump's phone call with his counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey, also criticised "France, Germany, and other European nations" for not repatriating their citizens detained in northern Syria who had joined IS.

"Turkey will now be responsible for all ISIS fighters in the area captured over the past two years in the wake of the defeat of the territorial 'Caliphate' by the United States," the statement said.

Meanwhile, Erdogan's spokesman today said the planned "safe zone" in northern Syria aims to clear terrorist elements from the border and return refugees safely to Syria within the framework of Syrian territorial integrity.

Earlier on Sunday, Erdogan and Trump agreed during a phone call to meet in Washington next month to discuss creating a "safe zone" in northern Syria, the Turkish presidency said.

Erdogan also expressed his "frustration over the US military and security bureaucracy's failure" to implement an August deal establishing a buffer zone on the Turkish border.

The day before, the Turkish leader warned that Ankara could launch a cross-border offensive "as soon as today, tomorrow".

Full report at:

https://www.dawn.com/news/1509499/us-to-withdraw-troops-as-turkey-launches-syria-operation-white-house

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