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Judaising the Ibrahimi Mosque: Israel Settlers Lit Menorahs inside Its Corridors to Celebrate Hanukkah

New Age Islam News Bureau

22 December 2022


Ibrahimi Mosque in Hebron, West Bank on February 22, 2022 [Issam Rimawi/Anadolu Agency]


• Saudi Arabia, Qatar Urge Taliban to Reverse Girls’ Education Ban

• 'We Have a Problem': New York Muslims Don't Know Where to Bury Their Loved Ones

• Al-Khair Foundation’s Free Christmas Day Dinners to Help Vulnerable Adults, Children and Families in Lancashire

• Joyland, Declared as a Film against Pakistani “Moral Standards” Becomes Pakistan’s First Film to Make It to Oscar Shortlist



• Iran ‘Unleashed Alarming Violence’ In Kurdistan Capital: Human Rights Watch

• Iranian FM confirms ‘friendly’ talks with Saudi counterpart

• US slaps new sanctions on Iranian officials over protest crackdown

• Iran says ready for nuclear agreement 'if red lines are respected'

• Yemen’s foreign minister hails Turkish support

• OIC holds Israel responsible for death of Palestinian prisoner battling cancer


Arab World

• Syria's President Assad Issues General Amnesty for Terror-Related Crimes

• India offers soft skills training for migrant workers to be model residents in Gulf

• Traditional Qatari cloak worn by Messi at World Cup ceremony attracts great interest

• Syrian man given 16-year prison sentence in Denmark for Daesh/ISIS ties

• Saudi Arabia, France discuss cooperation in industrial, mining sectors

• Wounded Irish peacekeeper will be evacuated from Lebanon

• Refugees complain about dire situation in US-controlled al-Tanf region in southern Syria


North America

• Canadian Muslims now able to buy homes with Islamic mortgage

• Turkish-American Jews celebrate Hanukkah at Turkish House in New York for first time

• Biden launches task force to probe US parts in Iranian drones: Report



• Taliban University Ban for Women 'Grave Step Backwards': UK PM Sunak

• Hundreds of right-wing extremists wanted for arrest in Germany

• Greece's expansionist, aggressive policies fuelling instability, says Türkiye

• British military wants to obscure truth about its war crimes in Afghanistan: Journalist



• Istanbul cultural night marks establishment of Pakistan-Turkey relations

• Onus on Centre to fight militancy, says KP

• ‘TTP is Pakistan’s absolute red line’

• China willing to provide all kind of assistance to Pakistan: Amb Nong Rong


South Asia

• Afghanistan’s Drug Trade Flourishes under the Ruling Regime

• Committee to Protect Journalists Calls on Taliban to Release Afghan Journalists

• Pakistan Urges Taliban to Revise Decision on Banning Female Education

• Taliban Open to Indian Efforts to Restart People Centric Development Projects


Southeast Asia

• Indonesia's 'All-Gendered' Priests, Known as Bissu, On Verge of Extinction

• Saudi Arabia Hands Over Support to Build Mosque in Indonesian University

• VP departs for Bali to attend 2nd ASEAN Islamic Conference

• Johor’s Muslim Friendly System offers recognition to business owners, assurance to consumers



• Islamic Clerics Set Up ‘Political Directorate’ To Support Muslim Candidates In Ogun State

• Several killed in attack by gunmen in northwest Nigeria's Kaduna State: Police

• Turkish, Senegalese presidents meet in Ankara for talks

• Moroccan king hails national team after World Cup success



• Uttar Pradesh Madrassa Education Board to Discuss Madrassas' Weekly off To Shift from Friday to Sunday

• Hit Squads to Al Qaeda and Islamic State Links: NIA Makes Alarming Claims on PFI in Kerala Court

• Madrassa teacher in Kerala gets 26 years' jail in Pocso case

• Drone shot down by BSF along India-Pakistan border in Punjab

• Religious, formal education combo needed today: Amer Ali Khan

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau



Judaising the Ibrahimi Mosque: Israel Settlers Lit Menorahs Inside Its Corridors to Celebrate Hanukkah


Ibrahimi Mosque in Hebron, West Bank on February 22, 2022 [Issam Rimawi/Anadolu Agency]


December 20, 2022

Palestinians expressed concerns after groups of Israeli settlers stormed the Ibrahimi Mosque yesterday and lit menorahs inside its corridors to celebrate Hanukkah under the protection of occupation forces.

The Director of the Hebron Endowment, Nidal Al-Jabari, said that Israeli authorities have been working on Judaising the Ibrahimi Mosque, which is located in the centre of Hebron in the occupied West Bank, through continued excavations.

He added that Israel is deliberately changing the historical features of the area outside the mosque by installing an elevator to facilitate settler incursions, in addition to repeatedly preventing the Muslim call to prayer from the mosque.

The Director of the Ibrahimi Mosque, Ghassan Al-Rajabi, said that the lighting of the Hanukkah candle on the first day of the Festival of Lights in the vicinity of the mosque is a dangerous escalation that comes in the context of the ongoing settler violations.

He added that frequent incursions by Israeli settlers constitute an attempt to control the Ibrahimi Mosque completely.

Source: Middle East Monitor

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Saudi Arabia, Qatar Urge Taliban to Reverse Girls’ Education Ban




Ibrahim al-Khazen


Saudi Arabia and Qatar on Wednesday urged the Taliban-led Afghan administration to backtrack a decision to ban girls from university education.

On Tuesday, the Taliban-run Ministry of Higher Education issued a decision to immediately ban girls from university education until further notice.

In a statement, the Saudi Foreign Ministry expressed "surprise and regret at the decision of the Afghan caretaker government to deny Afghan girls the right to university education."

The ministry went on to call on the Taliban to "reverse" the ban.

For its part, the Qatari Foreign Ministry expressed "deep concern and disappointment” over the ban.

A statement issued by the ministry urged the Taliban administration "to review its decision in line with the teachings of the Islamic religion concerning women's rights."

The Taliban ban was met with a wide condemnation across the world, especially from the UN, the US, Türkiye and other countries.

Source: Anadolu Agency

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'We Have a Problem': New York Muslims Don't Know Where to Bury Their Loved Ones


A Muslim man is being transported for burial from a busy Brooklyn funeral home, on 9 May 2020 in New York City (AFP)


By Zainab Iqbal

21 December 2022

When Mohammad Abdullah’s father got sick last year, he expressed only one wish. He did not want his dead body to be flown to Pakistan to be buried. He wanted to lay in New York, where the wife and children he’d leave behind could visit him easily. And so when he died a month later, Abdullah stepped up to fulfil his father’s final wish.

But it wasn't easy.

New York has over one million Muslims, but no Muslim-only cemetery. There are cemeteries that provide plots for Muslims. But after the Covid-19 pandemic, the costs of cemetery plots skyrocketed and mosques are no longer being offered the opportunity to purchase mass grave plots for cheaper prices.

The Washington Memorial Park Cemetery is one of the biggest graveyards in New York that has plots for Muslims. According to a representative, a grave currently costs $9,500. People have the option to pay a ten, twenty, or thirty percent down payment and pay it back in 84 months. The representative told Middle East Eye the prices will go up soon, and that is what Muslims in New York are worried about.

When Muslims die in New York City, they most likely either get buried in Washington Memorial Park Cemetery or are taken to New Jersey, which has two Muslim-only cemeteries. The choice is between a costly grave that would take about 1.5 hours from Brooklyn to Long Island, or taking the drive to the neighbouring state, paying a toll every time.

Since Abdullah lives in Queens, he decided that driving to Long Island from time to time to offer prayers by his father’s grave would be much more convenient than driving to New Jersey.

“I sound morbid when I use the word ‘convenience’ in terms of burying the dead, but it’s true,” he said.

“I want to visit his grave as long as I am alive. I want my children to visit and my grandchildren as well one day. The cost was enormous. But he was my dad and I’d do anything for him.”

‘More people are dying’

Khurshid Anwar is the president of the Islamic Association of Long Island, located in Seldon which is about 105 kilometres east of New York City. He told MEE: “We have a problem.”

“Our population has increased about ten-fold in the past 10, 20 years. Which means more people are dying,” he said.

He said his mosque, along with many others, purchased hundreds of plots from the cemetery in New York. So when a person in their community would die, it would be a lot cheaper than if a person would go through the cemetery itself to purchase a plot. But after the pandemic and the high number of deaths during that time, the cemetery now only provides plots to individuals. The cost of one grave pre-Covid was around $4,000. It has now more than doubled.

“As a result, we have stopped giving graves to people who are still alive. Some people make reservations to be buried next to their loved ones. But we are discouraging people from doing that now,” he said.

His mosque is instead encouraging people to bury their loved ones in New Jersey. But that presents a problem for those who already have family members buried in New York, as they would insist on returning to that cemetery.

So why is this only an issue now? It’s because now, Muslims are deeply rooted in this country and this region.

He explained that when Muslims first came to New York, they didn't think about building a cemetery because they didn't expect to stay here and raise their kids. But now, that's changing with the new generations.

"Now that those people are getting old, we’re seeing more deaths. And these people don’t want to get buried back home. This is our land. Family members want their elders buried where they live now.

‘Nobody wants a cemetery’

It’s not easy to open a new cemetery in the state of New York, especially in New York City. There have been several organisations and individuals who have been trying for years. According to Scott Nimmo from the Islamic Burial and Shipping Service in New York, the main problem with opening a cemetery is that nobody wants it.

“Nobody wants a cemetery in their backyard. No town wants it,” he told MEE.

He explained that this has caused funeral homes in New York to be impacted greatly. People cannot afford a funeral. Funeral homes charge very little, he said, while the cemetery would charge three to four times as much with a funeral charge.

“There used to be 50 funeral homes in the city and now there are less than 20,” he said.

He said the state of New York allowed cemeteries to raise their prices, "where it's become ridiculous". And because of that, it's become harder for people to bury their loved ones. It is also difficult to open a new cemetery because of zoning laws. So what's the solution? New York Muslims should go to New Jersey, he said.

"But many people don't want to do that. So, there is no solution."

It all boils down to one question: Are you willing to pay $10,000 to bury your loved one in New York?

While the answer for Abdullah was yes, for Osman Hassan from the Islamic International Funeral Services, the answer is no.

“At the end of the day, nothing will help you be buried except your deeds. What else are you taking with you?” he said.

He said there has been much talk of expanding and creating Muslim sections in various non-Muslim cemeteries across the city and state. Just last month, he received a call from a cemetery in Staten Island, letting him know that they don’t object to a Muslim section but that they’d need to find money to invest in cleaning, construction, and burial.

A Muslim burial is cheaper than a Christian burial, for example. According to Hassan, for Christian burials, people require coffins - a box for burial made from metals, wood or fiberglass - which cost a lot of money, as well as headstones, embalming, and viewing of the body.

When Samuel Kingston buried his brother in New York City, he said the costs were potentially going up to $12,000. He explained that the more intricate the coffin, the pricier it was. The same is true for a headstone. He told MEE that it's one reason why people decide to take the cremation route because it ends up saving money by the thousands. For his brother's funeral, his family ended up spending about $9,000.

"Talking about death in this way hurts. But this is the reality. When our family members die, of course we are going to pick up the cost and do whatever we can to assure they are ready for the afterlife. But man is it difficult," he said.

"It's actually one reason why our elders start saving up money for their funerals when they are alive. But when it's someone young like my brother, it comes at you unexpectedly."

The process of burying a person also differs from religion, and Islam offers the simplest process. This is why from a business perspective, which at the end of the day is what a cemetery truly is, they aren’t making as much money from Muslim burials, which is why they are over-charging, various funeral directors told MEE.

“I think a solution is that the Muslim community needs to get together and do a fundraiser and collect a lot of money so we can open a Muslim cemetery that is affordable,” he said. “It’s not easy. And it’s a lot of money. It also requires getting approval from the state and getting politicians on board. But it will be worth it.”

Source: Middle East Eye

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Al-Khair Foundation’s Free Christmas Day Dinners to Help Vulnerable Adults, Children and Families in Lancashire


On Christmas Day in 2017, Al-Khair Foundation served in excess of 550 three course meals to the homeless and vulnerable (Image: Al-Khair Foundation via Facebook)


By Susan Newton

21 DEC 2022

A leading Muslim charity is providing free Christmas dinners for hundreds of people in Lancashire.

Al-Khair Foundation will be giving out the dinners on the big day to help vulnerable adults, children and families, in order to support them with the struggles associated with the ongoing cost of living crisis. The foundation will prep, cook and serve the meals on Christmas Day for people who will most likely miss out otherwise.

Dozens of volunteers will give a helping hand to serve up the festive feast for those who may be unable to afford the meal or afford to put the heating on in their homes. Imam Qasim, Al-Khair Foundation’s Founder and Chairman said: “It is an extremely worrying time for many people. Rising costs are having a devastating impact.

“People are struggling to keep their homes warm as well as put meals on the table. No one should have to go hungry, cold or lonely this Christmas.

“AKF takes pride in supporting our communities and those in need all year round - even on Christmas Day. We are here to support the people of Lancashire, and anyone is welcome to join us to enjoy a hot meal on Christmas Day."

Al-Khair Foundation was established in 2003 and is a leading-faith based UK charity. It provides emergency relief and developmental support in some of the most impoverished areas in the world, spanning 74 countries and reaching 50 million people.

The dinners will be served on Christmas Day at St Andrews Church, Entwistle Road in Rochdale, between 1pm and 4pm.

Source: Lancs

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Joyland, Declared as a Film against Pakistani “Moral Standards” Becomes Pakistan’s First Film to Make It to Oscar Shortlist


The film, which portrays a love affair between a man and a transgender woman, has won global accolades on film festival circuits, including at Cannes earlier this year [File: Stephane Mahe/Reuters]


December 22, 2022

Joyland may have faced trials and tribulations in its home country but to the international community, it was a banger from the start. The film has been shortlisted for the Oscars, the first ever movie to do so from Pakistan.

On Thursday, the Academy released its Oscar shortlists for the 95th Awards for 10 categories. Joyland is among 15 films that made the cut for the best International Feature Film category and will advance to the nomination process. Films from 92 countries and regions were eligible in the category. Last Film Show also made it to the list, India’s second nomination since Lagaan from 20 years ago, according to Deadline.

Other films in the same category include Argentina’s Argentina, 1985, Austria’s Corsage, Belgium’s Close, Cambodia’s Return to Seoul, Denmark’s Holy Spider, France’s Saint Omer, Germany’s All Quiet on the Western Front, Ireland’s The Quiet Girl, Mexico’s Bardo, False Chronicle of a Handful of Truths, Morocco’s The Blue Caftan, Poland’s EO, South Korea’s Decision to Leave and Sweden’s Cairo Conspiracy.

Malala, who recently joined team Joyland as executive producer, dialled up director Saim Sadiq to congratulate him on the milestone and share this “moment of Pakistani pride”.

Joyland’s producer Apoorva Guru Charan re-shared the phone call video and gushed over her “wonderful” team.

Filmmaker Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy, chair of the Pakistani Academy Selection Committee this year, shared the “incredible” news on Instagram and said there is much to celebrate since Joyland is the first Pakistani film on the shortlist, 10 years after the committee was formed.

Interestingly, this is not the first for Joyland. It was also the first film from Pakistan to make it to the Cannes Film Festival where it won awards and received a standing ovation. Since then, it has been to several international film festivals, earning prestige all over.

Its release in Pakistan, sadly, was a tricky affair. After being cleared by the censor board, it was declared “uncertified” for containing “highly objectionable material” that goes against Pakistani society’s “social values and moral standards”. After facing backlash by celebrities and the public for this decision, PM Shehbaz Sharif formed a committee to review this decision and the ban was revoked. Punjab reinstated the ban in the province though the film was released everywhere else and elicited glowing reviews.

Joyland, you have had a long, tiring journey but that’s how it can be for those who are going places and doing great things. Congratulations!

Source: Dawn

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Iran ‘unleashed alarming violence’ in Kurdistan capital: Human Rights Watch

December 21, 2022

LONDON: Security forces in Iran used unlawful lethal force against protesters in Sanandaj, the regional Kurdistan capital, Human Rights Watch said on Wednesday.

In a report containing statements from 14 victims and witnesses, as well as research into social media clips, the organization urged the newly launched UN fact-finding mission into the country’s protests to investigate the use of excessive force by authorities.

Throughout September, October, and November, security forces in Sanandaj used weapons including shotguns and assault rifles to fire on demonstrators with bullets, pellets, and tear gas.

HRW said that generally peaceful protesters in the city were met with disproportionate force, resulting in the killing of six people.

In one case, 24-year-old Peyman Menbari was shot dead after throwing a stone toward Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and plainclothes agents.

A witness in a group of 50 protesters said: “I saw that he threw a stone. Then I heard him sigh and fall in front of me.”

Others later identified the shooter as a local Basij paramilitary member.

In another incident, a man was shot dead in his car after honking the vehicle’s horn in support of nearby protesters. Videos posted to social media showed a group of men armed with rifles approaching the vehicle, with later footage showing the driver slumped dead behind the wheel.

A witness who arrived at the scene of the shooting said: “I went closer and saw that the driver was killed. I saw that the windshield was broken.”

Another major incident took place on Nov. 17, when large groups of people gathered at a cemetery in the city to mourn four protesters who had been killed 40 days earlier.

People present at the ceremony said that Iranian police and IRGC officers arrived and shot at mourners, resulting in two deaths.

HRW cited UN guidance on the use of weaponry by law enforcement.

It recommends that, “multiple projectiles fired at the same time are inaccurate and, in general, their use cannot comply with the principles of necessity and proportionality. Metal pellets, such as those fired from shotguns, should never be used.”

In its report, the organization also documented serious abuses against detainees in Iran, including denial of medical aid, torture, beatings, and sexual assault.

After being arrested in September as protests spread around the country, two women told HRW that they were beaten and sexually assaulted while detained in a police station.

Another woman claimed that an officer hit her in the neck, threw her on the ground, and dragged her toward a group of other officers. She was then beaten.

Tara Sepehri Far, senior Iran researcher at HRW, said: “Iranian authorities have dramatically escalated abuses against protesters in custody.

“Governments seeking to hold Iran accountable for rights violations should pay special attention to the serious abuses against detainees.

“The Iranian authorities have unleashed alarming violence against protesters in Sanandaj since September.

Source: Arab News

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Iranian FM confirms ‘friendly’ talks with Saudi counterpart

December 22, 2022

DUBAI: Iran’s foreign minister said on Wednesday he spoke with his Saudi counterpart on the sidelines of a conference in Jordan the previous day, the highest-level encounter reported between officials from the rival states since they cut ties in 2016.

The Middle East’s leading Shia and Sunni Muslim powers — Saudi Arabia and Iran — have been on opposing sides of conflicts across the region, including in Syria and Yemen.

Iraq has hosted five meetings between Saudi and Iranian officials since last year in a bid to ease tensions, the last of which was in April, without achieving any diplomatic breakthrough.

Iranian Foreign Min­ister Hossein Amira­bdollahian, tweeting in Arabic, on Wednesday listed his Saudi counterpart, Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud, as one of several foreign ministers with whom he had the chance to hold “friendly talks” on the sidelines of the Jordan conference. He said he also spoke with the foreign ministers of Oman, Qatar, Iraq and Kuwait.

Claims Prince Faisal assured of Riyadh’s willingness to continue dialogue with Tehran

The Saudi foreign ministry did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Amirabdollahian wrote that Prince Faisal “assured me of his country’s willingness to continue the dialogue with Iran”.

In separate comments reported by Iran’s official IRNA news agency, Amirabdollahian said he had “announced our readiness to continue the process that started in Baghdad”. “We are interested in resuming talks with Saudi Arabia and they also wanted it,” he said, according to IRNA.

Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud.

Tensions between Iran and Saudi Arabia have ticked higher since the eruption of protests in Iran, with the Revolutionary Guards telling Saudi Arabia to control its media and the Iranian intelligence minister warning Riyadh there was no guarantee of Tehran continuing its “strategic patience”.

Iran has accused its foreign foes of fomenting the protests, in which Iranians from all walks have life have taken part.

A top general in Iran’s Revolutionary Guards, Esmail Ghaani, on Tuesday referred to Saudi Arabia — a long-standing ally of the United States — as “a scum and not worthy of being an enemy”.

Iran’s disputed nuclear programme has also added to tensions, with talks between Tehran and world powers on reviving Iran’s 2015 nuclear agreement at a standstill since September.

Prince Faisal said earlier in December that the signs were “not very positive unfortunately”, and that Gulf Arab states would act to shore up their security if Iran were to obtain nuclear weapons, which Tehran says it is not seeking.

Source: Dawn

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US slaps new sanctions on Iranian officials over protest crackdown

21 December ,2022

The US on Wednesday imposed sanctions on Iranian officials, including the Prosecutor General and key military officials, over a crackdown on protests ignited by Mahsa Amini's death in police custody.

The US Treasury Department in a statement said it imposed sanctions on Mohammad Montazeri, Iran’s Prosecutor General, accusing him of issuing a directive to courts in September to issue harsh sentences to many of those arrested during protests.

Also designated was Iranian company Imen Sanat Zaman Fara, which the Treasury said manufactures equipment for Iran's Law Enforcement Forces, including armored vehicles used in crowd suppression.

Washington also imposed sanctions on two senior officials of Iran’s Basij Resistance Forces, a militia affiliated with the Revolutionary Guards that has been widely deployed during the crackdown, and two Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) officials.

The move is the latest in a series of actions Washington has taken imposing new sanctions on Iranian officials over Iran's crackdown on the unrest ignited by the death of Amini, a young Iranian Kurdish woman, while in the custody of the morality police in September.

Source: Al Arabiya

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Iran says ready for nuclear agreement 'if red lines are respected'

Syed Zafar Mehdi  



Iran’s Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian on Wednesday said the parties to the 2015 nuclear deal are “returning to realism,” adding that Tehran will take a final step if its “red lines are respected.”

Amir-Abdollahian made the remarks in Jordan’s capital Amman while boarding a flight back to Tehran after attending the second edition of the Baghdad conference.

He said his meeting with EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell on the sidelines of the summit on Tuesday provided an “opportunity to discuss issues” related to the Vienna talks.

The indirect talks between Tehran and Washington, brokered by the EU, have been stalled since August due to key disagreements on the draft proposal, as well as the row over the UN nuclear watchdog’s probe into uranium traces found at three “undeclared nuclear sites” in Iran.

The sweeping protests in Iran in recent months, along with claims of Iran supplying drones to Russia for the Ukraine war, have further inflamed tensions between Tehran and the US.

Amir-Abdollahian accused the American side of “hypocritical behavior” in recent months, saying they “took actions that did not match their words.”

“Our impression is that the various parties are returning to realism, and we also announced that if our red lines are respected, we are ready to take the final steps to reach an agreement,” he said.

Iran has recently taken several steps to ramp up uranium enrichment amid the row over the UN nuclear watchdog’s probe that Iran insists should be dropped.

A delegation of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) visited Tehran earlier this week for talks with Iranian officials on resolving the spat.

In his address to the Baghdad summit, the Iranian foreign minister said his country was “serious” in reaching a “good, strong and stable agreement” in Vienna.

During the meeting with Borrell, the top Iranian diplomat said he expressed Tehran’s readiness to conclude the protracted talks “based on the draft achieved as a result of months of difficult and intensive negotiations.”

“I thanked Mr. Borrell for his constructive role in the #JCPOA revival talks, and told him that Tehran is ready for a conclusion with consideration of Iran’s red lines and the drafts on the table,” he later wrote in a tweet.

Borrell said his meeting with Amir-Abdollahian in the Jordanian capital was “necessary … amidst deteriorating Iran-EU relations.”

“Stressed need to immediately stop military support to Russia and internal repression in Iran,” he wrote on Twitter.

Source: Anadolu Agency

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Yemen’s foreign minister hails Turkish support

Shukri Hussein 


ADEN, Yemen

Yemen’s foreign minister has hailed Türkiye’s support to the Yemeni people amid the ongoing civil war in the Arab country.

Ahmad Awad bin Mubarak is set to visit Türkiye on Wednesday for talks with Turkish officials.

"We appreciate Türkiye’s important role in supporting Yemen and hosting a large number of Yemenis,” bin Mubarak told Anadolu Agency in an interview.

Yemen slipped into a deadly civil war in 2014 when Houthi rebels captured much of the country, including the capital, Sanaa. A military coalition led by Saudi Arabia entered the war in early 2015 to restore the government to power.

The eight-year conflict in Yemen has created one of the worst humanitarian crises in the world, with millions risking starvation.

Bin Mubarak said he will discuss issues of bilateral cooperation with Turkish officials, particularly in the fields of development, culture and health.

“The visit comes as part of efforts to strengthen the distinguished and historic relations between the two countries,” he added.

Peace efforts

The top Yemeni diplomat blamed Houthi rebels for failure of peace efforts in war-torn Yemen.

"Peace endeavors have never stopped since the Houthi coup, the latest of which was the UN-brokered truce, which the Houthi militia refused to renew,” bin Mubarak said.

The UN-mediated truce in Yemen expired on Oct. 2.

"Yemen’s Presidential Leadership Council has adopted peace as a strategic option to end the humanitarian suffering in the country and made painful concessions to stop the Yemeni bloodshed,” bin Mubarak said.

“The Houthi crimes and attacks showed the failure of the peace path with a group that does not believe in peace,” he added.

Bin Mubarak said that the Yemeni people have been going through a stifling humanitarian crisis since the Houthi coup in 2014.

“The Houthi attacks on oil facilities are an attempt to turn the crisis into a humanitarian disaster,” he warned.

At least 377,000 Yemenis have been killed in Yemen by the end of 2021, in addition to economic losses of $126 billion, according to UN estimates.

Peace partner

Bin Mubarak said putting an end to the 8-year war in Yemen “requires a real will”.

“It needs a real peace partner and a real will to serve the interests of the Yemeni people over any other interests,” he added.

The chief diplomat, however, noted that the Houthi ideology stands a “stumbling block” to efforts aimed at restoring peace to Yemen.

“This requires new measures to force the Houthis to abide by the UN resolutions and put an end to their disruptive role and crimes against the Yemeni people,” he added.

Bin Mubarak said the policy of appeasing the Houthi rebels by the international community has failed to make any breakthrough in Yemen.

“It has become clear that this terrorist group does not seek co-existence and it is a mere tool in the hands of their financers in Tehran,” he added.

“The legitimate government is working in tandem with the coalition countries, led by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates” to force the Houthis to abide by UN resolutions on Yemen.

Turning point

On April 7, a presidential leadership council was formed in Yemen, headed by Rashad al-Alimi, to replace then-president Abdrabbuh Mansur Hadi.

“The formation of the leadership council was a major turning point to confront the Houthi militia as this council represents all various spectrums of Yemeni society,” bin Mubarak said.

The Yemeni foreign minister paid tribute to efforts of the Saudi-led coalition to confront Houthis in Yemen.

“Had it not been for the coalition’s role, we would have seen Yemen turning into a hotbed for Iranian militias, and a permanent source of instability in the region,” he said.

Source: Anadolu Agency

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OIC holds Israel responsible for death of Palestinian prisoner battling cancer

21 December 2022

The Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) has held the Israeli regime responsible for the custodial death of an ailing Palestinian prisoner as a result of deliberate medical negligence despite repeated calls for his release.

The inter-governmental Muslim organization called for an international commission of inquiry to investigate the death of 50-year-old Nasser Abu Hmaid, a cancer patient who breathed his last on Tuesday morning at the Assaf Harofeh Israeli hospital near Tel Aviv.

The organization described the tragic death while in custody as another crime amid relentless Israeli aggression against the people of Palestine, especially those languishing in detention centers across the occupied territories, while reaffirming its support for Palestinian prisoners.

The OIC also urged international bodies to act promptly in order to protect the rights of Palestinian prisoners and put pressure on the Israeli regime to cease its unending rights violations in the occupied territories and release the prisoners immediately.

Abbas: Abu Hmaid’s death amounts to a full-fledged war crime

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas denounced Abu Hmaid’s death as a result of Israeli medical negligence as a full-fledged war crime.

During a meeting at the presidential headquarters in the occupied central West Bank city of Ramallah, Abbas said Abu Hmaid’s custodial death bears testimony to the extent of injustice inflicted upon the Palestinian nation.

The meeting was called to address international actions to confront the racist and colonial practices of Israeli authorities in light of the formation of a far-right administration in Tel Aviv and the death of the cancer-stricken Palestinian detainee, 

He held the Tel Aviv regime fully responsible for his death, saying Palestinians “will launch a broad international campaign to put anyone before their legal and historical responsibilities in order to provide protection for defenseless Palestinians in the West Bank, East al-Quds and the Gaza Strip.”

It is unacceptable for the international community to remain silent and turn a blind eye to Israeli crimes, the Palestinian president stressed.

Israel to withhold remains of Palestinian prisoner

Israeli authorities announced in a statement on Wednesday that the regime will keep the remains of Abu Hmaid for negotiations with the Gaza-based Hamas resistance movement.

“After conferring with security authorities, it was decided that Israel will keep the body of Nasser Abu Hmaid for the purpose of negotiating the release of Israeli hostages,” the statement quoted Israeli minister of military affairs Minister Benny Gantz as saying.

Abu Hmaid had been battling death for several months in Ramla Prison Hospital. His health deteriorated following the spread of cancerous cells in his body, completely damaging his left lung.

Hmaid hailed from the al-Amari refugee camp in the occupied central West Bank city of Ramallah. He was incarcerated in 2002 and was sentenced to life imprisonment after an Israeli court found him guilty of participating in attacks during the Second Palestinian Intifada (uprising).

Abu Hmaid was diagnosed with lung cancer in August 2021 after Israeli authorities delayed the provision of medical examinations and treatment, according to Palestinian prisoner rights groups.

His family had appealed to all international bodies to take urgent and effective action to save his life, but to no avail.

There are reportedly more than 7,000 Palestinians incarcerated in Israeli jails. Human rights organizations say Israel violates all the rights and freedoms granted to prisoners by the Fourth Geneva Convention.

Source: Press TV

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Arab World


Syria's President Assad issues general amnesty for terror-related crimes

21 December 2022

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad issued a general amnesty on Wednesday that pardons those charged with terror-related crimes that didn't result in fatalities, as well as draft dodgers if they report to duty within three to four months.

Syria’s official news agency SANA, citing a copy of the presidential decree, reported that the amnesty applies to crimes committed before December 21, 2022.

The decree noted that draft dodgers inside Syria will have three months to take advantage of the amnesty, while those abroad will have four months.

The amnesty, however, does not cover Syrian nationals who took up arms to fight the state, colluded with foreign nations against their country, or joined foreign-sponsored terrorist groups in Syria.

The Damascus government had previously issued similar amnesties during the 11-year foreign-sponsored conflict in Syria, which aimed to allow the Syrian nationals who broke the country's laws to return to normal life.

Syria has been gripped by foreign-backed militancy since March 2011. The Syrian government says the United States, the Israeli regime, and their Western and regional allies are materially sponsoring Takfiri terrorist groups that are engaged in destabilizing activities in the country.

Israel frequently violates Syrian sovereignty by targeting military positions inside the country, especially those of the resistance movement Hezbollah, which has played a key role in helping the Syrian army in its fight against foreign-backed terrorists.

The Tel Aviv regime mostly keeps quiet about its attacks on Syrian territories, which many view as a knee-jerk reaction to the Syrian government’s increasing success in confronting terrorism.

Israeli regime has been a key supporter of terrorist groups that have battled the government of President Bashar al-Assad since foreign-backed militancy erupted in Syria in early 2011.

Source: Press TV

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India offers soft skills training for migrant workers to be model residents in Gulf

21 December ,2022

The scheme to “enhance soft skills” of prospective Indian migrant workers to the Gulf in terms of the culture, language and traditions of their destination countries has trained 121,596 overseas job-seekers, the Minister of State for External Affairs, V Muraleedharan, has said, reported Emirates News Agency (WAM).

The minister told Rajya Sabha, the Upper House of India’s Parliament, in answer to questions from members that “the initiative of Pre-Departure Orientation and Training (PDOT) Scheme has been successful. The Government of India started the PDOT program in 2018.”

Although the PDOT Scheme is accessible to any Indian going to any part of the world for employment, most of those trained are migrants to the GCC countries. This is because the Gulf region attracts the largest number of Indians taking up employment abroad.

The scheme “enhances the intending migrants’ understanding of local rules and regulations in the destination country and sensitizes migrant workers about pathways to safe and legal migration,” Muraleedharan told Member of Parliament K R Suresh Reddy in writing.

Such training in soft skills enables Indians in the Gulf to be model residents in the countries where they live. PDOT training also makes Indian expatriates “aware of various government programs for their welfare and protection,” the Minister added.

PDOT training is free of cost for those who join the course. Four years ago, it started with four centers. In view of the demand for training, it is now available in 31 cities across India. These include states like Kerala, Punjab, Tamil Nadu, Telangana, and West Bengal, which send large numbers of Indians to work abroad. More than one center also offers training in big cities such as New Delhi and Mumbai.

“In the aftermath of lockdowns imposed due to COVID-19, an online PDOT module has been introduced by the Ministry of External Affairs as another step towards ensuring safe and legal migration,” the Ministry said.

The International Labour Organization (ILO) recently hosted a consultation in New Delhi on labor migration from India under the theme “Decent Work for All,” where the PDOT scheme was one of the focus areas.

Source: Al Arabiya

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Traditional Qatari cloak worn by Messi at World Cup ceremony attracts great interest

Ahmed Yusuf Bitmez and Safiye Karabacak  


DOHA, Qatar

A traditional item of clothing called a bisht, which was worn by Lionel Messi while lifting the World Cup trophy during the awards presentation ceremony, has attracted great interest from football fans, according to Qatari media reports Wednesday.

Many fans, especially Argentines, flocked to the Souq Waqif marketplace to buy the traditional clothing worn by Arabs in Gulf countries, Qatar’s Al Raya newspaper reported.

"We are very proud that the bishts in our store are entirely a product of the Qatari industry," the daily quoted a producer of bisht, Ahmed es-Salim, as saying.

He said there has been strong demand for the attire from World Cup fans, especially Westerners, since the trophy ceremony took place Sunday, adding he expects sales to increase further in the coming days.

A bisht was gifted to Messi by Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al Thani during the World Cup championship celebrations.

On Sunday, Messi-led Argentina beat France 4-2 on penalties to win the World Cup.

Source: Anadolu Agency

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Syrian man given 16-year prison sentence in Denmark for Daesh/ISIS ties



A Syrian man, 35, was given a 16-year prison sentence Tuesday after being found guilty of attempting, financing and promoting terrorism in Denmark and abroad on behalf of the Daesh/ISIS terror group.

Ali Al Masry was convicted by a court in Holbæk alongside his wife, 31, and his brother, 37 -- each given sentences of nine and six months on terror financing charges.

The sentence is the longest punishment given by a Danish court in recent history in Denmark in a terror-related case.

Al Masry was arrested Feb. 6, 2021, along with his family members, on a tip from German police.

After he was arrested, Danish authorities said 16 kilograms (35 pounds) of chemicals and a remote-controlled car were recovered from his residence, along with bomb manuals and radical propaganda materials.

“There are simply no mitigating circumstances in this case. There is nothing worse than the killing of innocent random people,” prosecutor John Catre Nielsen told the court ahead of sentencing.

Al Masry was also given a deportation order that allows authorities to immediately deport him after his sentence.

Source: Anadolu Agency

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Saudi Arabia, France discuss cooperation in industrial, mining sectors

December 22, 2022

Saudi Minister of Industry and Mineral Resources Bandar Alkhorayef on Wednesday received French Minister Delegate for Foreign Trade, Economic Attractiveness and French Nationals Abroad Olivier Becht, and his accompanying delegation.

During the meeting in Riyadh, they discussed strengthening bilateral cooperation between Saudi Arabia and France in the industrial and mining sectors, and the investment opportunities available to French investors within the framework of the Kingdom’s Vision 2030.

Source: Arab News

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Wounded Irish peacekeeper will be evacuated from Lebanon

December 21, 2022

BEIRUT: A wounded Irish UN peacekeeper in Lebanon was transferred on Wednesday from a hospital to Beirut’s international airport to be medically evacuated to Ireland.

Unidentified attackers opened fire on 22-year-old Pvt. Shane Kearney and three other Irish soldiers with UNIFIL, the UN’s peacekeeping mission in Lebanon, last week as their convoy passed near the southern town of Al-Aqbiya. The area is a stronghold of the Lebanese militant Hezbollah group.

Kearney suffered from blunt force trauma to the head in the attack, and is in serious but stable condition.

24-year-old Pvt. Seán Rooney was killed, while the two other soldiers were lightly wounded. Rooney’s body was returned to Ireland on Sunday after Lebanon and the UN held a memorial for him. A security official told The Associated Press that Rooney was shot in the head.

Lebanon, Ireland, and the United Nations are holding separate investigations into the attack, but have yet to share any findings or issue any arrest warrants. The official told the AP that investigators had retrieved seven bullets from the vehicle.

The Irish military in a statement Wednesday said Kearney will be evacuated in a “specially equipped medical aircraft” to Casement Aerodrome, a military base southwest of Dublin, and will continue his treatment at Beaumont Hospital.

UNIFIL was created to oversee the withdrawal of Israeli troops from southern Lebanon after a 1978 invasion. The UN expanded its mission following the 2006 war between Israel and Iran-backed Hezbollah, allowing peacekeepers to deploy along the Israeli border to help the Lebanese military extend its authority into the country’s south for the first time in decades.

That resolution also called for a full cessation of hostilities between Israel and Hezbollah, which has not happened.

Source: Arab News

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Refugees complain about dire situation in US-controlled al-Tanf region in southern Syria

21 December 2022

Russia’s Defense Ministry says internally displaced persons, who have managed to return to the Syrian government-controlled areas, are reporting that the humanitarian situation in the strategic al-Tanf region, which is occupied by US military forces and lies near the borders with Iraq and Jordan, is critical.

Deputy Chief of the Russian Reconciliation Center for Syria Major General Oleg Yegorov said on Tuesday that the center had received information that situation in Rukban refugee camp in southern Syria is disastrous.

The Russian official noted that the camp residents are experiencing shortages of food, essential items, medicines and fuel.

“At the same time, the so-called Maghawir al-Thawra terrorists are trying to propagate the absurd notion that Russia and the Damascus government are responsible for the worsening humanitarian situation at Rukban camp. This is while the militants do not allow the entry of humanitarian convoys into the site,” Yegorov added.

He stressed that the reconciliation center, in cooperation with the Syrian Arab Red Crescent, has been seeking over the past six months to open up a safe corridor for a humanitarian convoy destined to Rukban camp.

“The United States Central Command (CENTCOM), however, has torpedoed all those initiatives,” Yegorov pointed out.

Back in July, anti-Damascus Takfiri militants conducted joint military exercises with American forces in the al-Tanf region for several days, and the drills purportedly included sniper training exercises, direct ground combat, strike operations with various types of missiles and rockets, in addition to training courses on raising awareness and drawing up military plans.

American troops abduct four civilians during airdrop operation in Hasakah

Separately, US occupation troops have kidnapped four people in Syria’s northeastern province of Hasakah, and took them to an unknown destination.

Syria’s official news agency SANA, citing local sources, reported that they were rounded up during an airdrop operation conducted by the American troops in the town of al-Shaddadi on Tuesday.

The sources added that militants affiliated with the so-called Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) cordoned off the area before the US aerial operation. The four people are said to hail from the neighboring Dayr al-Zawr province.

The US military has for long stationed its forces and equipment in northeastern Syria, with the Pentagon claiming that the deployment is aimed at preventing the oilfields in the area from falling into the hands of Daesh terrorists.

Damascus, however, maintains the deployment is meant to plunder the country’s natural resources. Former US president Donald Trump admitted on several occasions that American forces had their presence in the Arab country for its oil wealth.

Back on December 2, a Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson lambasted the US military’s deployment of troops in Syria and its smuggling of oil and grain as illegal.

“The US stationing of troops in Syria is illegal. The US smuggling of oil and grain from Syria is illegal. The US missile attack against Syria is also illegal,” Zhao Lijian told a daily news briefing in the capital city of Beijing.

The Chinese diplomat cited official data from the Syrian government that between 2011 and the first half of 2022, the US smuggling activities have cost Syria more than 100 billion dollars of losses.

Zhao stressed that the United States keeps violating international laws and rules, and yet claims to be a champion of what it calls "the rules-based international order."

Source: Press TV

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North America


Canadian Muslims now able to buy homes with Islamic mortgage

DEC 21, 2022

Muslims living in Canada now have access to interest-free mortgages, which will enable them to buy homes, a report said on Wednesday.

Islamic mortgages are necessary because interest charges are forbidden for Muslims.

"We cannot deal with conventional banks even if the interest is very low, even if it is 0.1 percent," Abdullah Mohiuddin told the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC).

A few companies saw an opportunity and are now offering halal, or permissible, mortgages, but it is not free money — there are carrying costs built into the loans.

"People who avail of Islamic mortgages still pay a comparable amount that you would pay if you got a conventional mortgage. It's just that the structure of these mortgages are different," said Walid Hejazi, an expert in Islamic finance at the University of Toronto.

A popular option that conforms to the Muslim faith and Canadian law is a rent-to-own structure, where the mortgage company is also an owner of the property. Another is to create a legal framework where fees, rather than interest payments, are charged without violating Islamic principles.

Zuhair Naqvi started Eqraz, a Toronto-area Islamic mortgage company. He is seeing a high demand. However, costs are higher than traditional mortgages for several reasons. Since the market is relatively new, finding funds to lend out for halal mortgages is difficult, he said. Apart from that, administrative costs are higher because demand is smaller and Islam restricts foreclosing on a mortgage, which aggravate financial risks.

Naqvi said that adds up to an additional 4% on top of what regular lenders like the Royal Bank would charge.

Source: Daily Sabah

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Turkish-American Jews celebrate Hanukkah at Turkish House in New York for first time

Betül Yürük



Turkish Jews in the US, also known as Sephardic Jews, gathered at Turkish House in New York for the first time to celebrate Hanukkah, the Festival of Light.

At a ceremony to celebrate Hanukkah hosted by the Turkish Embassy in Washington, D.C. and the Turkish Consulate in New York, members of the Jewish community lit a 19th-century menorah.

The 150-year old menorah, which now belongs to Jewish collector Thomas Gelb, was recovered from a synagogue in Prague burnt down by the Nazis during World War II.

Speaking at the ceremony, Turkish Ambassador to the US Hasan Murat Mercan said that Turkish House is home to all Turkish Jews, their friends and relatives.

''The Jewish community is an inseparable part of our land, our community, whether they live in Türkiye or New York,'' he said. ''Türkiye has been home to different religions, different cultures, and all of them helped with the cornerstone of our collective history...Our diversity reflects our strength.''

Turkish Consul General in New York Reyhan Ozgur said that today's gathering is another testament to the growing friendship between the Turkish and Jewish peoples.

''The doors of Turkish House are always wide open to our Jewish friends,'' he said. Today’s Hanukkah celebration is historic in the sense that for the first time, menorah candles will be lit in Turkish House.''

He said that Sephardic Jews have become an integral part of Turkish society, enriching its culture and economy.

Asaf Zamir, Consul General of Israel in New York, thanked Türkiye for celebrating Hanukkah at Turkish House and for its friendship.

''The fact that you decided to have this event this evening is extremely important to us.'' he said.

Source: Anadolu Agency

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Biden launches task force to probe US parts in Iranian drones: Report

Michael Hernandez 



The Biden administration has launched an interagency task force to investigate how US and western-made components are ending up in Iranian-produced military drones being used by Russia in Ukraine, according to a report published Wednesday.

The US has led a sweeping international campaign intended to deprive Russia of being able to access advanced western technologies since the Kremlin began its war in February, and has for years maintained a large-scale sanctions campaign against Iran that is intended, in part, to do the same for Tehran.

But the efforts appear to have been short on results. Analyses of downed Iranian-supplied drones used by Russia in Ukraine found in November that the majority of parts in the unmanned aircraft originated in the US, Europe or other western-allied nations.

Ukrainian intelligence services determined that three-quarters of the parts in Iranian drones were made in the US, the Wall Street Journal newspaper reported last month, citing anonymous sources familiar with the matter and documents it reviewed.

The findings, as well as those from other researchers who examined the Iranian drones, prompted the administration to launch its task force, CNN reported.

The probe "intensified" recently after US intelligence services determined that Moscow is planning to open a factory for drone production inside Russia, said the news network.

National Security Council spokesman John Kirby acknowledged the development Dec. 9, saying Russia and Iran are transforming their military relationship into "into a full-fledged defense partnership."

"We urge Iran to reverse course, not to take these steps," he said.

CNN previously reported that Iran has already begun initial steps toward the development of a drone production facility in Russia, saying the Islamic Republic has transferred key elements, including blueprints and components, to Russia.

The White House and National Security Council did not respond to multiple requests for comment on the reported task force, but CNN described it as a sweeping effort that is drawing on multiple US agencies, including the Pentagon, State, Commerce and Treasury departments.

It is an "all-hands on deck" situation, an anonymous source told CNN.

Source: Anadolu Agency

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Taliban university ban for women 'grave step backwards': UK PM Sunak

Dec 22, 2022

LONDON: British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak on Wednesday criticized the Taliban's decision to ban University education for girls, saying "denying them access to university is a grave step backwards."

"As a father to daughters, I cannot imagine a world in which they're denied an education. The women of Afghanistan have so much to offer. Denying them access to university is a grave step backwards. The world is watching. We will judge the Taliban by their actions," Sunak tweeted.

On Tuesday, the Ministry of Higher Education of Afghanistan, which is ruled by the Taliban, prohibited girls from attending universities and other higher education institutions. This comes as secondary education for girls has been prohibited in Afghanistan since September 2021.After the Islamic outfit announced the ban, the UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres expressed concern about the news reports. He said that the denial of education violates the equal rights of women and girls and will have a devastating impact on the country's future.

UN Secretary-General also urged the de facto authorities to ensure equal access to education at all levels for women and girls.

German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock today said the Taliban decided to destroy their own country's future by destroying the future of girls and women in Afghanistan. She added that Germany will put the issue on the agenda of the G7.

"I will put the issue on the agenda of the G7 tomorrow. The Taliban may try to make women invisible, but won't succeed - the world is watching," Baerbock tweeted.

The Taliban took over Afghanistan in August 2021 and imposed policies severely restricting basic rights--particularly those of women and girls, according to Human Rights Watch (HRW).'

The Islamic group dismissed all women from leadership posts in the civil service and prohibited girls in most provinces from attending secondary school. Taliban decrees prohibit women from traveling unless accompanied by a male relative and require women's faces be covered in public--including women TV newscasters.

According to a UNICEF report released in August, the fact that girls in Afghanistan are deprived of secondary education has cost the country's economy at least $500 million over the past 12 months, which amounts to 2.5 per cent of GDP.

Source: Times Of India

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Hundreds of right-wing extremists wanted for arrest in Germany



Hundreds of right-wing extremists are wanted for arrest in Germany, the Berlin-based Taz newspaper reported Wednesday.

As of Sept. 30, there were open arrest warrants for 674 people from the far-right spectrum, the Interior Ministry said in response to a parliamentary inquiry made by the radical leftist opposition party The Left.

According to the information, 33 of the arrest warrants were related to a "politically motivated violent offence" and 151 to "crimes with right-wing motivation" such as the display of unconstitutional symbols or incitement to hatred.

The remaining cases involved general crimes such as theft, financial scams and fraudulently obtaining social welfare benefits.

Between March and September this year, 326 arrest warrants for people from the right-wing spectrum were executed or they were legally settled, for example by paying a fine, the ministry said.

At the same time, new arrest warrants were issued for the same or other people and a search was initiated.

A member of The Left party faction, Martina Renner, who had asked for the parliamentary inquiry, called for stepped-up pressure to search for those right-wing extremists who are on the run.

"The high number of open arrest warrants shows that right-wing violence is an everyday threat even beyond spectacular raids," she told the Taz daily.

Chancellor Olaf Scholz's center-left coalition government has repeatedly vowed to enact stronger measures to counter the growing threat posed by far-right groups.

The country has witnessed growing racism and xenophobia in recent years fueled by the propaganda of far-right, anti-Semitic and anti-Muslim groups, including the main opposition party Alternative for Germany (AfD).

Far-right terrorism in Germany has claimed the lives of at least 218 innocent people since 1989, according to the Berlin-based Amadeu Antonio Foundation.

Source: Anadolu Agency

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Greece's expansionist, aggressive policies fuelling instability, says Türkiye

Merve Aydogan  

21.12.2022Türkiye on Wednesday reaffirmed its commitment to “peace and stability in the Aegean,” while decrying Greece’s “expansionist and aggressive policies.”

“Unfortunately, our neighbor Greece continues its expansionist and aggressive policies with its provocative actions and rhetoric that fuels instability,” Turkish National Defense Minister Hulusi Akar told a press conference after meeting with his counterparts from Georgia and Azerbaijan.

He said Türkiye remains open to dialogue, but will not allow any fait accompli on issues related to Cyprus or the Aegean and Eastern Mediterranean seas.

He also denounced Greek warplanes’ recent attempt to interfere in a NATO training mission over the Aegean, saying such hostile steps are evidence of Athens’ arrogance and ignorance of NATO’s basic principles.

“We expect an impartial, objective, reasonable, and logical approach from our other NATO allies, especially the US, on this matter,” he added.

Türkiye, a NATO member for over 70 years, has complained of repeated provocative actions and rhetoric by Greece in the region in recent months, including arming islands near Turkish shores that are demilitarized under treaty obligations. It says that such moves frustrate its good faith efforts for peace.

On the prospective sale of F-16 fighter jets to Türkiye, Akar said Türkiye expects “positive and concrete steps” from the US.

Ankara requested F-16s and modernization kits in October 2021. The $6 billion deal would include the sale of 40 jets, as well as modernization kits for 79 warplanes that the Turkish Air Force already has in its inventory.

Commitment to peace, to defeat terrorism

Noting that Türkiye has always favored global and regional peace, tranquility and stability, Akar said it is devoting "great efforts to peace and stability in the Black Sea as well as in the Caucasus, and for an effective, balanced and constructive policy, including the implementation of Montreux,” referring to the 1936 Montreux Convention for the Turkish Straits.

"We continue our efforts to achieve a cease-fire and diplomatic solution in the region," he said on the 10-month-old Ukraine war, calling this summer’s landmark initiative unblocking grain exports "one of (Türkiye’s) greatest contributions" in this regard.

On Türkiye's domestic and cross-border counter-terror operations, Akar said they continue efforts against terrorism with determination and success.

"No one, especially the countries destabilizing the region, should expect us to tolerate terrorists nesting right next to our border," he said, stressing that the Turkish Armed Forces will continue to take the necessary steps for national security, referring to operations across the southern border into terrorist dens in Syria and Iraq.

On his trilateral meeting with the Azerbaijani and Georgian foreign ministers, Akar hailed the deeply rooted relations with both countries and noted Georgia's role in the stability of the Caucasus region.

Saying that the three officials exchanged views on regional and global developments, Akar added: "Based on aims to establish a peaceful future, cooperation between the three countries continues to rise, including issues related to defense and security."

Source: Anadolu Agency

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British military wants to obscure truth about its war crimes in Afghanistan: Journalist

21 December 2022

British military commanders want people to think of the military as noble who go around the world to help people, which is a "huge lie and a complete myth" aimed at obscuring the savagery they committed in Afghanistan, according to a commentator.

Robert Fantina, an author, journalist and human right activist, made the comments on Press TV's Spotlight program aired Tuesday. 

Fantina believes that the British commanders are trying to hide the reality of the crimes committed by the forces under their command, even though they know they won't be held accountable in the courts for the crimes they commit.

“As there's no accountability for militants and it leaves the military free reign to commit whatever crimes it wants”, Fantina said.

BBC reported earlier this year that the British elite Special Air Service (SAS) killed Afghan civilians "in cold blood".

The British military recently announced it would launch an inquiry into reports that its special forces carried out a series of extrajudicial killings in Afghanistan, following widespread outcry across the world.

UK defense minister Andrew Murrison said the Afghanistan inquiry, which is to start in early 2023, will focus on unlawful killings by the British Special Forces during deliberate detention operations in Afghanistan from mid-2010 to mid-2013.

It will also examine the “adequacy of subsequent investigations” by the UK's Ministry of Defense into allegations of wrongdoing, including murder.

“It's not a flaw in the system; the system is working the way the governments want it to work. They want to avoid and evade the timeline investigation, hoping that people forget the stories and then they can sweep these atrocities under the rug and commit them again,” Fantina said, calling the probe a "show".

The inquiry follows reports that 54 Afghans were killed in suspicious circumstances by one SAS unit in Helmand province between 2010 and 2011, and accusations that this amounted to war crimes.

Tessa Gregory from the UK law firm which is representing the families of the deceased said an inquiry should have been launched years ago.

“The allegations of extrajudicial killings and cover-up are of such gravity, and the concerns expressed contemporaneously within the British and Afghan army and by a reputable international organization working on the ground in Afghanistan were so serious and so widespread, that an inquiry should have been instituted by the government years ago,” she said.

The families of eight people, including three young boys, reportedly murdered by British Special Forces in two separate operations during night raids in Afghanistan in 2011 and 2012 welcomed the inquiry, saying they waited 10 years for justice.

Fra Hughes, a journalist, author and activist, told Press TV that inhumane behavior exhibited by UK soldiers in the country's prisons is a sign of “Western imperialism”.

“The UK government does not want the British people to know what's being done in their name by their army and by their special Earth services,” Hughes said.

During the two-decade foreign invasion and occupation, Afghanistan witnessed horrendous war crimes by NATO troops. More and more facts are emerging regarding unlawful killings and gross violations by foreign forces on Afghan soil.

Source: Press TV

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Istanbul cultural night marks establishment of Pakistan-Turkey relations

December 21, 2022

ISTANBUL: A cultural night was held Tuesday in the Turkish metropolis of Istanbul to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Pakistan and Turkey.

After beginning with the playing of Turkey and Pakistan’s national anthems, the programme continued with a performance by Turkish musicians.

Speaking at the event, Pakistan’s Ambassador to Turkey, Yousaf Junaid, pointed out that Turkey and Pakistan are two countries that established relations not only 75 years ago but have a history that dates back more than 600 years.

“We have a history of brotherhood. It’s not based on any material gains. It’s not based on any benefits to be derived from each other. It is based on a boundless love which has no frontiers, which has no boundaries,” said Junaid.

Touching on the two countries’ support for each other during hard times even though they are not neighbours and are “thousands of miles away,” the envoy said it is “because the bond is traditional, it’s cultural, it’s spiritual and it’s religious.”

Meanwhile, Turkish singer Ersin Faikzade, who performed songs in Turkish, Persian and Arabic at the event, said he had travelled across the world but had never seen brotherhood like this.

Faikzade also recalled Pakistan’s support for Turkey during the Turkish War of Independence, underlining its importance.

The event ended after Qawwali singers from Pakistan took the stage to sing traditional songs in their native dress. Qawwali is Sufi-Islamic devotional music.

Relations between the two countries have developed on the basis of close friendship and brotherhood since the establishment of Pakistan as an independent state on August 14, 1947. This year marks the 75th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Ankara and Islamabad.

The support extended by the Muslims of the subcontinent to the Turkish War of Independence has a special place in the minds of the Turkish people. Turkey’s success in establishing a modern state after the war has been a source of inspiration for the people of Pakistan.

Source: Pakistan Today

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Onus on Centre to fight militancy, says KP

Umer Farooq

December 22, 2022

PESHAWAR: As some semblance of normalcy returned to Bannu on Wednesday, a day after an operation against terrorists, the under-fire KP government refused to accept the blame for the resurgence of terrorism, saying it was the responsibility of the Centre to tackle the issue.

Chief Minister Mahmood Khan in a media talk declared that ‘fighting militancy’ was the mandate of the federal government.

Meanwhile, President Arif Alvi, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and Army chief Gen Syed Asim Munir, separately, paid tribute to the soldiers who took part in the operation at the CTD centre in Bannu on Tuesday.

The KP chief minister explained that it was the Centre’s job to fight militancy since the institutions fighting [against militants] fell within the jurisdiction of the federal government.

“Crime and law and order situation is the provincial government’s job but militancy falls within their [federal government’s] domain and hence this is their responsibility,” he maintained.

Besides, the chief minister claimed that the federal government was reluctant to release funds for both current and developmental expenditures. “Neither do we receive the current nor the developmental expenditures [funding],” he said and alleged that the funds were being diverted to the federal government’s members of parliament.

Endorsing the CM’s views, the KP government’s spokesperson told a press briefing that the police’s job was to counter routine crimes and ‘national security’ was beyond its mandate.

He said the incident that took place inside the Bannu CTD centre fell within the definition of ‘national security’ which was the federal the government’s domain.

“This is not something about general law and order…it falls within the domain of the national security which is the responsibility of the federal government,” CM Adviser on Information Barrister Mohammad Ali Saif said.

In reply to a question about the recently held talks with the banned Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) in Afghanistan, the special assistant said that war had never ended since 2001 and dialogue was an attempt to further improve the situation but a permanent solution [to militancy] could not be found.

“The reason for dialogue with them [TTP] was to improve the situation,” Mr Saif said, adding that war never ended, though its intensity fluctuated. “We wanted a permanent solution but it did not happen,” he said while explaining the reason for holding talks with the Taliban.

A KP minister, however, appeared to have a different stance, reported APP.

Kamran Bangash at a presser reiterated the provincial government’s resolve to eliminate terrorism and extremism in all its forms and manifestations and said the government was taking pragmatic steps to improve the capacity of police and the Counter Terrorism Department (CTD).

Referring to the terrorist attack on the CTD compound, he said police and security forces had already shared information about the possible terrorist attacks.

Meanwhile, Chief of Army Staff Gen Syed Asim Munir met the officers and soldiers, who were injured during the Bannu operation, at the CMH Rawalpindi, according to an Inter-Services Public Relations release.

The COAS remained with them for some time and inquired about their well-being.

He appreciated their high spirit and morale and lauded their professionalism during the operation against the terrorists.

Pledge against terrorism

President Alvi lauded the security forces for carrying out a successful operation against terrorists in Bannu and expressed the resolve to eliminate terrorism from the country’s soil, APP reported.

The president, in a statement, termed the success a result of the professionalism of security forces and their unwavering commitment against terrorism.

In separate remarks, Prime Minister Sharif said the state would not surrender to any terrorist group or organisation and vowed that militants would be dealt with according to the Constitution and law.

Strongly condemning the activities of terrorists, he said such attempts would be crushed.

“We will not let the sacrifices of the martyrs go to waste,” he said and mentioned the military operations of Raddul Fasaad and Zarb-i-Azb as significant measures to eradicate terrorism.

The prime minister said that though main responsibility for law and order lies with the provinces, the federation could not turn a blind eye to such problems.

He assured the provinces that the federal government would work along with them in fighting terrorism and vowed to fully implement the National Action Plan to eliminate terrorism.

Source: Dawn

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‘TTP is Pakistan’s absolute red line’

Anwar Iqbal

December 22, 2022

WASHINGTON: Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari has suggested letting neighbouring countries know that the outlawed TTP is an “absolute red line” for Pakistan and it would not allow anyone to cross that line.

“As far as the TTP (Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan) is concerned, it’s absolutely our red line. It is something that we will not tolerate,” said the foreign minister while speaking at the Atlantic Council, Washington, on Tuesday evening.

“And absolutely we will be willing to consider each and every single option to ensure the safety and security of our people.”

As the foreign minister stressed the need for combating militants in his Washington talk, Pakistan’s UN Ambassador Munir Akram told the UN Security Council in New York that engagement with the Taliban was the best option to stabilise the region.

“Coercion and isolation have not proved successful in the past; they will prove to be counter-productive now and in the future,” said Ambassador Akram while participating in a UN debate on the situation in Afghanistan. “We need a coherent and practical plan to realise the objectives of the international community through patient engagement with the interim government,” the Pakistani envoy told the 15-member Council.

Bilawal says Islamabad willing to consider all options to ensure citizens’ safety and security

Mr Bhutto-Zardari made a similar observation in his talk at the Atlantic Council, urging world powers to work with Afghanistan’s de facto rulers to stabilise the region. When the moderator, Uzair Younus, asked if Pakistan could deploy troops inside Afghanistan or on the border to stop attacks by Afghanistan-based militant groups, the minister suggested using the “hammer and anvil” strategy, with Kabul’s cooperation, to eliminate militancy.

The chief Pakistani diplomat pointed out that despite these border and cross-border attacks, the situation was far more secure and stable now than it was in 2007, when Pakistan launched a series of operations against the TTP and other militants.

“But those things can be put at risk if this goes unchecked. And obviously that would undermine any hope, whether it is CPEC or any other form of economic activity. Nobody wants to put lives at risk in order to conduct business,” he warned.

“That’s why I have been particularly hawkish on the issue of the TTP, and on the issue of terrorism in general. I believe that recent events in the region are alarming, not only the border incidents but the recent Bannu incident, which our security commanders have very bravely managed to overcome,” he said.

The foreign minister, however, stressed the need to “impress on our neighbours, particularly Afghan­istan” that they have to demonstrate the will and the capacity to take on the TTP or other groups functioning from there.

He acknowledged that there’s room for improvement in Pakistan’s Afghan policy — as there’s in America’s — and “we need to be serious about what we can do going forward”.

“Are we going learn from our mistakes to ensure that we do not repeat them,” he asked. “The answer to that question is going to define the safety and stability of Afghanistan, the safety and stability of Pakistan and the safety and stability of our region.”

Pakistan’s number one option, he said, was to get the Afghan interim government to demonstrate that they had the capacity to deal with this issue.

Separately, the foreign minister also met Deputy Secretary of State Wendy R. Sherman where they discussed Pakistan’s efforts to recover from devastating floods and the upcoming Jan 9 International Con­ference on Climate Resilient Pakistan in Geneva.

Source: Dawn

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China willing to provide all kind of assistance to Pakistan: Amb Nong Rong

December 21, 2022

ISLAMABAD: Ambassador of the People’s Republic of China Mr. Nong Rong on Wednesday assured Finance Minister Senator Ishaq Dar of continuous support of the Chinese Government to Pakistan, saying that the government of China stands with people of Pakistan and is willing to provide all kinds of assistance.

The assurance was given as the Chinese envoy called on Senator Ishaq Dar here at Finance Division.

Welcoming the Chinese Ambassador, the Finance Minister praised the long-standing and deep-rooted friendly relations between the two countries. Both sides deliberated on a number of avenues for expansion of bilateral relations especially in economic and financial sectors.

Ambassador Nong Rong appreciated the policy initiatives being taken by the government for sustaining and boosting fiscal and monetary stability.

Source: Pakistan Today

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South Asia


Afghanistan’s Drug Trade Flourishes Under the Ruling Regime

By Nizamuddin Rezahi

December 21, 2022

After taking power last August, the Taliban promised to crack down on narcotics and explicitly ban the production, processing and sale of illicit drugs.

The decree issued by the authorities of the interim regime to ban the production and sale of illicit drugs was not inadequately enforced, and Afghanistan’s drug trade started flourishing under the Taliban regime.

Following the regime change in August 2021, the economy has crashed and unemployment has skyrocketed, leaving ordinary people with tons of problems to live a normal life. A large majority of people who worked in the previous government lost their jobs and are desperately struggling for survival. Others took either legal or illegal paths to migrate to neighboring countries such as Iran, Pakistan, and Turkey.

On the contrary, the drug trade in Afghanistan did not only remain untouched but boomed to a great extent. The number of drug addicts including men, women and young children living in the worst possible conditions under the bridges is overwhelming.

“My husband was an addict, he convinced me to take drugs. He died some time ago, and I joined a group of addicts for I had no place to live and none of my relatives would accept me,” a female drug addict said, Sky News reported in a video recorded from the scene.

Source: Khaama Press

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Committee to Protect Journalists Calls on Taliban to Release Afghan Journalists

By Nizamuddin Rezahi

December 21, 2022

The Committee to Protect Journalists calls on Taliban authorities to release Afghan journalists who are still behind the bars, following the release of two American nationals on Tuesday.

The Taliban released two Americans, including journalist and filmmaker Ivor Shearer who were detained in August in the capital Kabul. Neither the Taliban nor the U.S. Department of States identified the two Americans.

In response to news reports that the Taliban released two American nationals the Committee to Protect Journalists, a journalist advocacy organization based in New York issued a statement on Wednesday calling for the release of other Afghan journalists who remain behind bars.

“The continued detention of Afghan journalists underscores the dire situation of press freedom in Afghanistan, which has gone from bad to worse with an intensifying crackdown on the media in the past year,” CPJ Asia Program Coordinator Beh Lih Yi said.

Shearer and his Afghan colleague Faizullah Faizbaksh were arrested on August 17 while they were filming the scene of a U.S. drone strike that killed Al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri earlier in August in Kabul.

The release of the American filmmaker comes as the situation for journalists in Afghanistan has deteriorated since the Taliban’s return to power in August 2021. Several male and female Afghan journalists have been detained, tortured, and threatened with death.

Source: Khaama Press

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Pakistan Urges Taliban to Revise Decision on Banning Female Education

By Nizamuddin Rezahi

December 22, 2022

Following the suspension of the university and higher education for female students in Afghanistan, Pakistan condemned the act and urged the Afghan authorities to revise their decision.

The Ministry of Higher Education of Afghanistan’s Taliban regime on December 20, suspended access to universities by female students until further notice, drawing strong condemnation from the United States, Britain, the United Nations, and Afghan diasporas.

The spokesperson of the higher education ministry in a letter confirmed the suspension of public and private universities to female students immediately, in accordance with a de facto cabinet decision.

“Pakistan is disappointed to learn about the suspension of the university and higher education for female students in Afghanistan,” an official statement from the Foreign Office read, adding that Pakistan’s position on the issue has been “clear and consistent”.

Since the Taliban’s return to power in August last year, Pakistan has maintained a close and friendly relationship with them, though, not formally recognizing the interim regime as the legitimate the government of Afghanistan.

However, the recent armed attacks that took place on December 11 and 15 in the Chaman-Spin Boldak border area causing to the death of several civilians and injured more people from both sides soared tensions between Islamabad and Kabul.

Following the border shelling, some Pakistani senators even called on the government to revise its policy against Afghanistan. Others described the Afghan government as an “unfriendly neighbor” for Pakistan has been the home for millions of Afghans for nearly the past four decades.

Source: Khaama Press

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Taliban Open to Indian Efforts to Restart People Centric Development Projects

December 22, 2022

India has a historical and civilizational relationship with the Afghan people. Given its age-old ties, over the last two decades, Indian public and private sector entities had invested around $3 billion in Afghanistan mainly in the infrastructure sector of the country. India’s engagement with Afghanistan as a development partner includes more than five hundred projects spread across each of the 34 provinces in critical areas of power, water supply, road connectivity, healthcare, education, agriculture and capacity building. Around 433 High Impact Community Development Projects (HICDP) have been completed with Indian financial support in all provinces of Afghanistan before Taliban’s takeover of Kabul in 2021.

Recently, Taliban’s Head of Political Office, Suhail Shaheen said that Afghanistan is open for Indian investment including urban infrastructure and assured of peaceful working environment for the Indian companies. He emphasized that “security of Indians is our responsibility, and we assure them.” In addition, Afghanistan’s Foreign Ministry also seeks India’s diplomatic presence in the country for the completion of “unfinished projects” which were being initiated by New Delhi.

Similarly, Afghanistan’s Ministry of Urban Development and Housing (MUDH) evinced interest (December 3) for the improvement of relations and the resumption of stalled projects in the country with the help of India. In this regard, Afghan Minister of MUDH communicated with the Indian Charge d’Affaires in Kabul. The latest interaction between India and the Taliban came against the backdrop of regional consultations and has rekindled hope of greater Indian participation in providing relief for the people of Afghanistan.

Experts believe that the restart of these projects will decrease the level of poverty and unemployment in Afghanistan. The resumption of these projects would also create job opportunities and means for the people and drive Afghanistan out of political isolation.

India has not recognized the new regime in Afghanistan and has been pitching for the formation of a truly inclusive government in Kabul, besides insisting that Afghan soil must not be used for any terrorist activities against any country. India had withdrawn its officials from the embassy after the Taliban seized power in August 2021, following concerns over security. However, in June 2022, India re-established its diplomatic presence in Kabul by deploying a “technical team” in its embassy in the Afghan capital. 

Despite non-recognition of Taliban Government, India has extended humanitarian assistance to the Afghan people and it has already dispatched several shipments of 20,000 metric tonnes of wheat, 13 tonnes of medicines, 500,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccine and winter clothing, according to the India’s Ministry of External Affairs. These consignments were handed over to the Indira Gandhi Children Hospital in Kabul and UN agencies including the World Health Organization and the World Food Programme.

India’s presence in Kabul is recognition of the critical power dynamics evolving in the region.  After the collapse of the Ashraf Ghani’s Government in Afghanistan, Pakistan and its and security establishments hoped to gain a “strategic depth” and a free sway in Afghanistan to control India’s influence in the country due to close links between elements in the Afghan Taliban and the Pakistani military, and Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI). However, a year later, tensions between the Afghan Taliban and the Pakistani military have grown due to various factors, such as Taliban’s refusal to accept the ‘Durand Line’ as the international border, activities of the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) which has some 4,000 fighters in Afghan territory and border skirmishes that have killed several Pakistani personnel.

Recently, Taliban has welcomed India’s initiative to hold a meeting of the National Security Advisors of Central Asian countries. Taliban also stated that it would not allow its territory to be used for any agency or powers to interfere in other nation’s internal affairs, addressing Indian concerns on the issue. India’s presence in Afghanistan, however, remains a sensitive issue, with a majority of the current “technical team” deployed in Kabul being security personnel sent in to guard the small number of middle-ranking diplomats who are largely focused on ways to help the Afghan people grappling with humanitarian and economic crises.

Source: Khaama Press

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Southeast Asia


Indonesia's 'All-Gendered' Priests, Known as Bissu, On Verge of Extinction

Dec 21, 2022

New Delhi: Indonesia's all-gendered priests’ known as Bissu are on the verge of extinction in the country. According to anthropologists, less than 40 Bissu remain in just a few areas across South Sulawesi, they now perform cultural and shaman-like roles to prevent their traditions from dying.

According to a report by news agency AFP, Nani, a Bissu in their 60s who was born male, said they faced opposition from their family when they experienced a gender identity crisis as a child, but was now at peace with who they are. "My family disliked it, especially my older brother," they recalled. "He kept beating me to force me to be a real man. I've tried to change but I could not."

Notably, the Bissu once lived a prosperous life. They were revered and owned lands granted by the Bugis Kingdom that preceded the modern-day Indonesian state. They were considered the intermediaries between God and the people," Halilintar Lathief, an anthropologist at Makassar State University said. However, in the 1950s, a rebellion led by the Islamic State of Indonesia group sought to create a caliphate in the country, leading to many Bissu being accused of violating Islamic principles and facing persecution. They were hunted, murdered, or forced to behave as masculine men and change their personalities.

"Since then, Bissu no longer wanted to show themselves, they disappeared, and they didn't want to do any cultural activities,", anthropologist Lathief told AFP.

The community is now on the brink of extinction, withtheir numbers dissolving into the majority Bugis ethnic group in South Sulawesi. Bugis people believe in five genders: "makkunrai" or cis woman; "oroane" or cis man; "calabai" or men who take on traditional roles for women; "calalai" or women who take on traditionally male roles; and the "Bissu", who are neither male nor female but embody all genders, reported AFP.

Older Bissu have died and without financial or cultural support, not enough of the younger generation are replacing them. However, the remaining few are trying to keep their heritage alive.

"Not many are interested in becoming a Bissu because there is no salary from the government," Nani said. Despite the past persecution and split opinion on the community, the non-binary figures still have a place in the staunchly Islamic Bugis society. "Since I became a Bissu, I have always been accepted by the public," Julaeha said. "I've never been insulted or ostracised. I even got called a lot to perform (rituals)."

Source: Times Now News

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Saudi Arabia hands over support to build mosque in Indonesian University

December 21, 2022

JAKARTA — Minister of Islamic Affairs Dr. Abdullatif Al-Sheikh handed over, on Wednesday, Saudi Arabia's support for the construction of the mosque of the Faculty of Education at Sharif Hidayatullah University.

The support was received by the University Director Professor Amani Lobis during a meeting in Jakarta between the two officials.

Lobis expressed her thanks and appreciation on her behalf and all the university's employees to the government of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques and the Crown Prince for their efforts in the service of Islam and Muslims.

She noted that the mosque would be built next to the College of Education on the university campus.

“It will be a beacon of knowledge and a call to spread the tolerant values of Islam and teach Arabic language,” she said.

Lobis added that this project will serve the faculty members and employees of the college and the neighborhoods close to the university to hold five prayers and Friday prayers, and it will be built in a modern urban style with all its equipment.

Dr. Al-Sheikh will proceed to Bali to take part in the 2nd ASEAN Conference "Khayr Ummah".

The event is organized on Thursday by the Ministry of Islamic Affairs, Call and Guidance.

Around 130 ministers, muftis, presidents of universities, centers and Islamic associations, and religious and cultural leaderships from ASEAN countries will take part.

The conference aims to demonstrate the sources of the charity of the Ummah and its wide areas, and provide the necessary resources for achieving them.

It will highlight the efforts of Islamic institutions in promoting charity of the Ummah, and promote communication between Islamic institutions and figures to serve this end.

During the four sessions of the conference, participants will discuss several themes, most notably, the nation's charity in science, action, and calling for Allah, and the nation's charity in its centrality among nations.

It will highlight warning of the dangers of radicalism and deviation, as well as a review of models of modern nation charity and its efforts in bringing peoples, cultures and religions closer together.

The conference will be attended by participating delegations from ASEAN countries: Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Brunei, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam.

The conference is part of Saudi Arabia’s major efforts under the leadership of King Salman and Crown Prince and Prime Minister Prince Mohammed Bin Salman, in the service of Islam and Muslims in the world.

The Ministry of Islamic Affairs, Call and Guidance and the Ministry of Religious Affairs of Indonesia had held a preparatory press conference to launch the 2nd Islamic Conference for ASEAN Countries in Bali 'Khayr Ummah'.

Source: Saudi Gazette

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VP departs for Bali to attend 2nd ASEAN Islamic Conference

Jakarta (ANTARA) - Vice President Ma'ruf Amin flew to Bali to attend and open the 2nd ASEAN Islamic Conference bearing the theme of "Khairu Ummah" that is scheduled on December 21-23.

Amin, accompanied by Second Lady Wury Ma'ruf Amin and a limited group of his staff, departed from the Halim Perdanakusuma Air Force Base, here, aboard Air Force's Boeing 737-400 aircraft at around 9:30 a.m. local time.

The vice president is expected to arrive at I Gusti Ngurah Rai International Airport, Bali, at 10:30 a.m. Central Indonesian Standard Time (WITA).

After arriving, Amin will directly head to the conference venue in a hotel in the Nusa Dua Area.

The vice president will be welcomed by the Saudi Arabian Minister of Islamic Affairs, Da'wah and Guidance Abdul Latif Al Sheikh and Indonesia's Deputy Minister of Religious Affairs KH. Zainut Tauhid Sa'adi.

Indonesia is hosting the 2nd ASEAN Islamic Conference, which is a collaboration between Indonesia's Ministry of Religious Affairs and Saudi Arabia's Ministry of Islamic Affairs, Da'wah, and Guidance.

The conference will be attended by 140 participants from Indonesia, Malaysia, Brunei Darussalam, Singapore, Thailand, the Philippines, Laos, Myanmar, Vietnam, Timor Leste, and Saudi Arabia.

Several speakers comprising ulamas, academicians, and leaders of Islamic community organizations from Indonesia, Malaysia, Brunei Darussalam, and Saudi Arabia will be present at the event.

Materials that will be discussed at the conference are "Towards the Best Ummah in Strengthening Cooperation and Synergy", "Being Vigilant against Extremities in Religion and Culture", "Challenges of Islamic Community Organizations in Empowering People in the Digital Era", "Caring for Social Harmony in a Plural Society", and "Towards a Superior Society through the Vision of Islamic Education".

Source: Antara News

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Johor’s Muslim Friendly System offers recognition to business owners, assurance to consumers

21 Dec 2022

JOHOR BARU, Dec 21 — The Muslim Friendly System (Sistem Mesra Muslim) to be implemented by Johor government-owned PIJ Halal Ventures Sdn Bhd and Koperasi Penguatkuasa PBT Bhd is expected to provide recognition to owners of premises, products and services towards ensuring consumer confidence.

PIJ Halal Ventures manager Wan Aminudin Aminin Wan Sulaiman said the system is aimed at giving assurance to consumers that all raw materials used have received halal certification from the Department of Islamic Development Malaysia (Jakim) or that is recognised by Jakim, and are Shariah-compliant.

“The system, for example, will record and monitor raw materials used by the premises, product or service and can recognise immediately the raw materials uploaded into the system,” he told reporters after a memorandum signing ceremony between PIJ Halal Ventures and Koperasi Penguatkuasa PBT here today.

If the raw materials purchased are not permitted, the system will inform of the non-conformance right away so that appropriate action will be taken, said Wan Aminudin.

He said the implementation of the system will also facilitate and offer an opportunity for owners of premises, products and services to make preparations in applying for a Jakim certification, which normally requires a thorough and systematic process.

According to Koperasi Penguatkuasa PBT chairman Tun Mohd Izlizam Bahardin, the Muslim-friendly rating system is the maiden step for exposing business operators registered under the local government to the Malaysian halal certification.

Source: Malay Mail

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Islamic Clerics Set Up ‘Political Directorate’ To Support Muslim Candidates In Ogun State

December 21, 2022

By Ishola Oludare

In a bid to have their interests protected in politics, Islamic clerics in Ogun State have set up a political unit known as the Directorate of Good Governance.

The clerics, under the leadership of the League of Imams and Alfas in Ogun, on Tuesday, inaugurated the directorate ahead of the 2023 general elections.

The Secretary-General of the league, Sheikh Tajudeen Adewunmi, while inaugurating the directorate in Abeokuta, said the clerics have come to the realisation that good governance could be achieved through the establishment of the directorate.

Adewunmi, who was represented by Chief Imam, Ansarud-deen Society, Ilaro, Sheikh Adegbite Badmus, said “the directorate was created to guide members who are into politics.”

Adewunmi explained that “all the Imams and Alfas in the State have unanimously agreed on the creation of the directorate to take care of the political interests of their members” in Ogun.

He said, “nobody listens to us, we need a listener within the government. We need a sympathizer within the government, we also need a voice in the government because after the power of Allah, the next power is political power.”

The Chairman of the Rabbitah admin, Dr. Rabiu Kusimo, in his remarks, announced that the league would soon hold a joint prayer session for all members who are into politics.

In his acceptance speech, the Chairman of the Directorate, Quassim Sanusi said the idea was to encourage good governance irrespective of political affiliations of members.

He said activities have been lined up towards the coming elections which include interaction between the governorship candidates in the State and Muslims.

The Chairman said full support would be given to politicians who are Muslims, stressing that whenever they are in power, ability to check their actions would be available.

“We want to be part of the problem and success of our brothers who are into politics. We want to pray for them, we want to guide them and bless them,” he stated.

Source: Daily Post Nigeria

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Several killed in attack by gunmen in northwest Nigeria's Kaduna State: Police

Olanrewaju Kola  


LAGOS, Nigeria

Authorities confirmed Wednesday that several people were killed by gunmen in three days of attacks on two communities in Nigeria's northwestern Kaduna State.

The police spokesman for Kaduna State, Muhammed Jalige, said in a statement that the chief of police visited Malagum and Sokwong in Kagoro, Kaura Local Government, where the attack took place.

"The Commissioner of Police undertook an on-the-spot assessment tour of the scenes of the recent dastardly attack which led to several deaths, the torching and destruction of houses and other assets," he said in a statement without disclosing the number of casualties.

He did, however, assure the communities of police protection.

Gunmen launched attacks on the communities Monday into Tuesday after assaulting the area last weekend, the head of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) in Kaduna State, Rev. Joseph Hayab, told Anadolu Agency.

"The gunmen opened fire on the people in their houses while sleeping. We are burying 38 people, including women and children on Thursday," he said.

Hayab said the injured were receiving treatment while survivors have relocated to a nearby village where they have taken refuge and will get help.

Community leader Luka Binniyat said the gunmen burned 100 houses, foodstuffs and livestock during the attack which left the communities with greater hunger.

Source: Anadolu Agency

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Turkish, Senegalese presidents meet in Ankara for talks

Diyar Guldogan 


Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan welcomed his Senegalese counterpart Macky Sall on Wednesday in the capital Ankara.

The leaders will hold one-on-one talks at the presidential complex, to be followed by a joint news conference.

Erdogan and Sall will discuss all aspects of the Türkiye-Senegal relations and steps to enhance cooperation between the two countries.

Current regional and global issues will also be on the agenda.

Developing relations and cooperation with African countries is one of the cornerstones of Ankara's multi-dimensional foreign policy.

Source: Anadolu Agency

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Moroccan king hails national team after World Cup success

Khalid Mejdoup and Ekrem Biceroglu 



Morocco’s king rewarded the national football team with the highest order after their history-making performance in the 2022 World Cup.

According to the Moroccan national news agency, King Mohammed VI welcomed the team at the Royal Palace in the capital Rabat, recognizing their achievements in the World Cup, which concluded last weekend.

In the semifinals, France defeated Morocco 2-0 to send them to the third-place playoff, where Morocco lost to Croatia 2-1 to end their World Cup campaign.

But this performance made the Atlas Lions the first African nation as well as the first Arab one to qualify for the World Cup semifinals.

Source: Anadolu Agency

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Uttar Pradesh Madrassa Education Board To Discuss Madrassas' Weekly Off To Shift From Friday To Sunday

Dec 22, 2022

LUCKNOW: The Uttar Pradesh Madrassa Education Board will discuss next month a proposal to change the weekly holiday of madrassas in the state from Friday to Sunday, its chairman Iftikhar Ahmed Javed said on Wednesday.

The proposal, which came up during a meeting of the government-appointed board on Tuesday, was opposed by the teachers association of madrassas who said that weekly offs on Friday has been a practice since the beginning and effecting the change would send out a wrong message. Javed said a final decision on the proposal will be taken in a board meeting in January.

Source: Times Of India

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Hit squads to Al Qaeda and Islamic State links: NIA makes alarming claims on PFI in Kerala court

December 21, 2022

Levelling serious allegations against the Popular Front of India, the National Investigation Agency has claimed before a special court in Kochi that the banned outfit had a “secret wing” of reporters to collect details of the leaders of other communities and “prepare a list of targets”.

In an affidavit filed before the Kerala court while demanding extended custody for the 11 PFI leaders who were arrested from Kerala as part of a nationwide crackdown against the organisation in September this year.

“Some of the victims did not have any association or any previous engagement with PFI. Victims were randomly selected by the leadership of PFI. They were studied, permission was given by PFI to attack and kill the victims brutally so as to send the message of terror in society,” the NIA affidavit states, according to The Indian Express.

The findings, it said, suggested a deliberate ploy to target people from other communities so as to spread a message of terror. The central probe agency also said the outfit was spreading disaffection and enmity towards the country through wrongful interpretation of policies of the government.

PFI members had links with Al Qaeda, ISIS: NIA

The NIA’s affidavit further states that members of the PFI in Kerala were in touch with Islamic State (IS) and Al Qaeda leaders. According to IE, the NIA has claimed that its probe revealed suspicious transactions of funds used for unlawful activities and some of the PFI leaders and cadres had propagated the ideology of Islamic State (IS). While some members had joined the proscribed organisation in Syria, others had travelled to Syria to join the IS, the NIA said.

Among the several documents, including digital evidence, is also a list of individuals whom the PFI had identified as possible targets, the NIA has stated, adding that an initial analysis of the data showed material related to IS and fund transactions by the accused for illegal activities.

“The IS and Al Qaeda terrorist organisations use the country’s anti-state and religious terrorist organisations for subversive activities in countries where their direct operations are not possible. NIA has received indications that PFI leaders in Kerala were in touch with some of the IS, Al-Qaeda leaders,” the NIA has stated.

Targetted, misguided youth against nation

The agency also claimed that the outfit was involved in spreading disaffection and enmity towards the country through wrongful interpretation of policies of the government. It further said that PFI leaders used social media to encourage the youth to get involved in terrorist activities.

“The investigation also revealed the moves made by the PFI leaders through social media groups to get the youth involved in terrorist activities. Several people have already been questioned…,” the NIA said in its chargesheet.

Why was PFI banned?

Following a country-wide crackdown against the organisation over alleged killings by its members, PFI and eight of its affiliate organisations were banned on September 28 this year.

Announcing the development, the Centre said the PFI was involved in violent terrorist activities with the intent to create a reign of terror in the country.

Source: Financial Express

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Madrassa teacher in Kerala gets 26 years' jail in Pocso case

Dec 22, 2022

KOZHIKODE: A fast track court in Kerala's Kannur district on Wednesday sentenced a madrassa teacher to 26 years in prison under various sections of the Pocso Act for sexually assaulting an 11-year-old girl student.

Thaliparamba Pocso court judge C Mujeeb Rahman also fined 36-year-old K V Mohammed Rafi, from Udayagiri in Alakkode, Rs 75,000. The convict used to teach at a madrassa in Valapattanam when he repeatedly assaulted a Class V student in October 2017.

The vice president of the madrassa, arraigned as second accused for not informing the police about the complaint made by the girl's family, was acquitted for want of evidence.

The court decided on the quantum of punishment considering the fact that the convict was a teacher and the survivor below 12 years of age.

(The victim's identity has not been revealed to protect her privacy as per Supreme court directives on cases related to sexual assault)

Source: Times Of India


Drone shot down by BSF along India-Pakistan border in Punjab

Dec 22, 2022

NEW DELHI/AMRITSAR: A drone that entered into India from Pakistan has been shot down near the international border in Punjab by the Border Security Force (BSF), an officer said Thursday.

The unmanned aerial vehicle was downed by firing at 8 pm on Wednesday near the Harbhajan border post in the Ferozepur sector of Tarn Taran district.

Source: Times Of India

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Religious, formal education combo needed today: Amer Ali Khan

21st December 2022

Hyderabad: Associating religious teachings with contemporary education is the need of the hour. The new generation of students is getting education but they lack religious knowledge, whereas if you look at the history of scientific inventions you will find a lot of information in Islam and in Quran. These views were expressed by Amir Ali Khan, News Editor Siasat while addressing the distribution of Indo-British Scholarship at Abid Ali Khan Centenary Hall Siasat premises on Tuesday and said that this is an era of start-ups which opens the door of opportunities for poor Muslim families and economically backward people.

Congratulating the talented students who receive the scholarships, he said that they should not limit their career to being an engineer or doctor but should also explore the option of civil service in their career. Today, when governments search for Muslim officials in embassies in 54 Islamic countries of the world, Muslim civil servants, especially IFS officers, are not seen. An IAS officer can transfer 500 engineers or 500 doctors with a single signature. Youths need to make a career in civil services, he added.

Khan also appreciated Dr. Fasihuddin Ali Khan for his services and enthusiasm for the Indo-British Scholarship. He said that Muslim students have a lot of potential, they need to be steered to develop themselves and provide with the right opportunities.

On this occasion, Dr. Fasihuddin Ali Khan, President, and Founder of Indo-British Education Foundation, London, encourages the beneficiaries to work hard in their lives, he gave a reference of Thomas Alva Edison who invented electric power generation through his creativity and became a part of history.

He said Hyderabad is an educational hub, he provides scholarships every year to encourage students. He expresses his gratitude to the Editor of Siasat Zahid Ali Khan, Managing Editor Zaheeruddin Ali Khan and Amir Ali Khan for successfully organising this scholarship programme on mutual cooperation.

This year 12 students of Intermediate and 12 students of SSC with GPA 9.7 to 10 received scholarships and certificates. Students from the city and districts also participated.

Source: Siasat Daily

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