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Islamic World News ( 10 Nov 2022, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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Karnataka court admits petition to survey Malali Mosque in Mangaluru, rejects Muslim group’s plea

New Age Islam News Bureau

10 November 2022
The disputed Juma Mosque in Mangaluru's Malali.


• Xenophobia, hostility against Muslims on rise in eastern Germany: Report

• For Western Islamists, Not Wearing Hijab Worse than Killing Protesters in Iran

• World must take cyberattacks as seriously as terrorism, Saudi energy minister warns

• 230 unidentified bodies discovered in Libya: International Criminal Court

• Seven killed as Philippine troops clash with Muslim rebels

• Haqqani Says Taliban Founder Mullah Omar was Chosen to Protect Islam

• Winter sparks concerns for 4,100 newborn babies in Sindh flood camps

• Muslim Americans take leap forward in US midterm elections



• Supreme Court sets up bench to hear Gyanvapi mosque case tomorrow

• Centre justifies no SC tag for Dalit Muslims, Christians in Supreme Court

• HC Dismisses Plea Against Acquittal Of Advani And Other Accused In Babri Mosque Demolition Case

• Coimbatore car blast case: NIA raids under way at 45 locations across Tamil Nadu

• Moose Wala’s latest song: ‘Vaar’ causes stir, top Punjab cleric clears controversy

• ‘Untouchable’ Telangana State Wakf Board’s search for a CEO proves elusive

• Indian police investigating film that portrays Kerala as Islamic terrorism hub

• India alludes to ‘foreign origins’ of Christianity, Islam



• From Auschwitz to Iftar: Danish Muslim-Jewish biker club revs up interfaith dialogue

• At least a dozen countries interested in joining BRICS: Russian foreign minister

• EU seeking to adopt new Iran sanctions next week: Germany

• Iran army issues warning to ‘rioters’ as security forces struggle to suppress unrest

• In a first, Israeli general opens up about use of armed drones

• Cities across Iran strike in solidarity with Zahedan clashes

• More Afghan children killed by UK forces than claimed amid release of payout figures



• Iran warns Saudi Arabia its ‘patience’ may run out

• Outgoing defense minister warns of rising extremism in Israel

• Interior Minister: Leaders Behind Iran's Unrest Trained in 8 Countries

• Speaker: Enemies Seeking to Disintegrate Iran

• Intelligence Minister: UK to Pay Price for Enmities towards Iran

• Top Security Official: Iran Ready to Help End Russia-Ukraine War

• Iran Calls for Intra-Regional Dialogue over Caucasus Dispute

• Border Guards Seize Arms, Munitions in Southeastern Iran

• Iran arrests ‘agent’ of London-based opposition TV channel: Report

• Palestinian teen killed in West Bank clash with Israel

• Yemeni forces down Houthi drones attempting to target Shabwa and Marib

• Iran designates UK-based TV channel as ‘terrorist group’


Arab World

• Syrian government aligned forces, Islamic State battle in south

• UAE: Muslim employers ensure Christian domestic workers attend weekend church prayers

• HRH the Crown Prince and Prime Minister condoles with the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques

• Papal Muslim engagement makes demands on Asian bishops

• US to give Lebanon $80.5 million in aid amid economic crisis

• Amid high tensions, Iran warns Saudi Arabia its ‘strategy of patience’ may not last

• Mother, eight Syrian children killed in Turkey fire

• Holocaust survivor shares her story with Emirati and Jewish children in Dubai

• Parliamentary elections in Bahrain aimed at destroying democracy, prominent Shia cleric says



• Move Over, Ilhan Omar; Minnesota Republicans Pander to Somali Islamists

• Islamic group makes demand from FG as court convicts EFCC boss, Bawa

• Somalia retakes key town controlled by al-Shabaab for over 15 years


Southeast Asia

• Lorry attendant fined RM12,000 for insulting Islam on Facebook

• Not taking bait to cross over my best decision, says Salahuddin

• Hajiji confident of record RM6bil revenue for Sabah this year

• Anwar: Hadi paid a lot as special envoy, but couldn’t even be bothered to attend Parliament

• To Rumah Pangsa Simpang Kuala residents in Alor Setar, party logos more familiar than its seven candidates


South Asia

• US official visits Pakistan to discuss situation of Afghan refugees

• Gunman Opens Fire at Civilians in Eastern Afghanistan



• Govt announces end to riba in five years

• Imran Khan's party all set to resume stalled long march today

• Pakistan: Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s Swat Valley witnessing a resurgence of the TTP

• Religious scholars say Iqbal’s dream still unfulfilled

• Saudi Arabia never interferes in Pakistan’s internal, external affairs: clarifies Ashrafi

• Exclusive: Imran’s candid take on ‘bad romance’ with military

• Flurry of meetings hints at key decisions to come

• PM Shehbaz in London to ‘consult Nawaz on army chief appointment’

• JI joins PTI’s voice for new elections


North America

• Arab and Muslim Americans expand presence after Tuesday’s elections

• Iowa voters elect first-ever Arab American state representative

• In rebuff to Kiev, Pentagon says can’t confirm claims about Iranian missiles to Russia

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau



Karnataka court admits petition to survey Malali Mosque in Mangaluru, rejects Muslim group’s plea

Sagay Raj

Nov 9, 2022

The disputed Juma Mosque in Mangaluru's Malali.


A Karnataka Court rejected the plea filed by the Malali Mosque management committee to not admit the plea filed by the Vishva Hindu Parishad (VHP) to conduct a survey of the mosque located in Mangaluru. The Third Additional Civil Court of Mangaluru accepted the petition of the VHP to conduct a survey of the Mosque and dismissed the petition filed by the Mosque management board.

They had requested to conduct a survey of the mosque similar to the Gyanvapi mosque. It is a land dispute between Hindus and Muslims. Hindus claim that a temple line structure was found inside the masjid and want a survey done. Meanwhile, the Muslims claimed that it was their land,

The mosque had filed a plea with the court stating that the place belongs to the Waqf board and that the civil court should not hear the plea. Now, the civil court admitted the VHP's plea and proceedings will continue at Mangalore civil court.

In order to ensure no untoward incident, the Karnataka State Reserve Police will provide a bandobast at the level of the Assistant Commissioner of Police and the Deputy Commissioner of Police, law and order, will visit the Malali Mosque to supervise the bandobast.

Earlier this year, tensions flared up in Managaluru after a Hindu temple-like architectural design was purportedly found underneath the Masjid on April 21. Communal clashes occurred within a month, leading to police imposing Section 144 in and around the disputed area for 24 hours to de-escalate the situation.


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Xenophobia, hostility against Muslims on rise in eastern Germany: Report



Xenophobia and hostility against Muslims have been on the rise in eastern Germany, the Leipzig University warned in a recent study.

Some 46.6% of people in eastern Germany demanded a ban on Muslim immigrants, up from 40.2% polled in 2020, according to a representative survey published on Wednesday.

Also, 42.7% of respondents said they felt like foreigners in their own country because of the large number of Muslims.

Researchers pointed out that anti-Muslim attitudes were higher in the ex-communist eastern German states where significantly fewer Muslims are living and where people have less contact with Muslims.

In western Germany, 23.6% said they advocate for a ban on immigration from Muslim countries, and 36.6% said they felt like foreigners in their own country due to the high number of immigrants.

The Leipzig Authoritarianism Study 2022 has also revealed that xenophobia was on the rise in the eastern German states.

Some 33.1% of the respondents agreed with certain xenophobic statements, with a majority of them saying “Germany is dangerously swamped by foreigners” and that they should be sent to their home countries if there is a shortage of jobs in Germany.

A country of over 84 million people, Germany has the second-largest Muslim population in Western Europe after France. It is home to around 4.7 million Muslims, according to the official figures.

The country has witnessed growing racism and Islamophobia in recent years, fueled by the propaganda of far-right groups and parties, which have exploited the refugee crisis and attempted to stoke fear of immigrants.

German authorities registered at least 662 Islamophobic hate crimes in 2021. More than 46 mosques were attacked between January and December last year and at least 17 people suffered injuries due to anti-Muslim violence.
Source: Anadolu Agency

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For Western Islamists, Not Wearing Hijab Worse than Killing Protesters in Iran

by Martha Lee

November 7, 2022

While Iranian dissidents and their allies in the West protest the Iranian regime in the aftermath of Mahsa Amini's death in police custody in Iran, Western Islamists have another agenda. They express more outrage at women who do not wear the hijab than they do over the death of Amini, who was taken into custody in mid-September for improperly wearing a hijab. Above, protesters express outrage over Amini's death at a rally held in Berlin earlier this year. (Photo by Amir Sarabadani, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons.)


As women in Iran have continued to remove and burn their hijabs in protest against the regime that killed 23-year-old Mahsa Amini in September, Western Islamists have been more outraged about the protesters taking off their hijabs than they are about the death of Amini in police custody. They also seem indifferent to the deaths of more than 300 protesters in the streets of Iran since mid-September. Such reactions are a reminder that the desire to impose hijab on women is evidently not limited to Islamic theocracies, but is also found in Muslim communities in the West.

Well-known Islamist Roshan Salih denounced the women as "Western stooges." Salih, who runs the British Islamist publication 5 Pillars, was among the most aggressive detractors of the protesters, claiming that the Iranian women opposing the regime were "insulting Islam" and that "Muslims all over the world are looking at [them] in disgust."

Salih's 5 Pillars published a series of op-eds on the hijab by Muslim women. One piece, written by Anjum Anwar, was titled "Message to liberals: I do not need rescuing from my hijab." Another took a more Islamist perspective, claiming that "[hijab-wearing women] are the flag bearers of Islam" and warning women who burned their hijab that they had also burned "the bridges that will lead them to the submission of desires in place of their Lord." In a third op-ed, activist Shabnam Kulsoom asserted that "Muslim women who disrespect hijab should not be "celebrated" and described the hijab as a "a magnet for attracting respect and repelling disrespect."

Islamist religious figures assented. Prominent Canadian imam Younus Kathrada criticized as "completely false" the idea that no one could tell someone else how to dress. Kathrada accused certain hijab-wearing women, who support the right of other women not to wear it, of sounding "like the rhetoric of the modernist 'scholars' who support the rights of people who want to commit sodomy and live contrary to the [nature] God created us upon."

Youssef Soussi, a Californian Islamist imam, explained that "the so-called [Muslim woman] who burns a veil/hijab in this [world] may very well be the reason why she burns in Hell in the [next world]." American Islamist Ismael Royer argued that the protests were evidence of "mental self-colonization." Meanwhile in London, the director of the Islamic Centre of England accused the protesters of being "soldiers of Satan."

Hardline Islamist Daniel Haqiqatjou, who runs the Islamist publication Muslim Skeptic, declared that not "mandating hijab is a crime against humanity" and claimed that "Islam protects" the "fundamental human right" of having a "modest public space free from promiscuity and harassment by the inappropriately dressed."

Haqiqatjou's publication, Muslim Skeptic, published an op-ed on the "Hijab Burnings in Iran and the Liberal Muslim's Hatred for Islam." The writer condemned liberal Muslims' "colonised worldview" as "the biggest hurdle" to the Muslim community's "attainment of the leadership of the world." A couple of weeks prior to the protests, Muslim Skeptic's regular contributor Bheria had penned a piece on "the Inevitable Failure of Political Shi'ism: The Secularization of Iran."

As for the Council on Arab-American Relations (CAIR), it published an op-ed warning that supporting women who remove their hijab but not those who put it on "translates into Islamophobia that risks perpetuating more violence against girls and women."

Others were busy attacking Muslim minority sects. Writer Talha Abdulrazaq, infuriated by Ismaili professor Khalil Andani's stating that there is no consensus that hijab is mandatory, accused Ismailis of "thinking it's OK to burn down mosques" and concluded that "hijab burning is nothing to [Ismailis] by comparison." Ismailis are a Shia sect of Islam that embraces an inward understanding of the religion and is reputed for its support of women's rights. The 48th Ismaili leader completely abolished the hijab for Ismaili women while encouraging their education.

Western Islamists are, of course, not in a position to legally impose the hijab on Muslim women but their reactions leave little doubt that they would gladly do so. Many Muslim communities in the West continue to be dominated by hardline religious figures who give women the "choice" to wear the hijab or be ostracized and go to hell.

Source: ME Forum

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World must take cyberattacks as seriously as terrorism, Saudi energy minister warns

November 09, 2022

Minister of Energy Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman (Screenshot)


International agreements are needed to thwart the growing risk of cyberattacks, according to Saudi Arabia’s Minister of Energy Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman as he warned the energy sector is increasingly vulnerable to such dangers.

Speaking on the first day of the Global Cybersecurity Forum in Riyadh, Prince Abdulaziz said governments and companies faced a “collective danger”, although he insisted the Kingdom is ready for any such attack.

The minister called for global collaboration to help defeat the hackers, and said: “We need to have international agreements to mitigate cyberattacks just like the world is doing against terrorism.”

He went on to say that the motives behind these attacks could be “anything — whether political, ideological, etc”, and added: “We cannot afford to be attacked without being ready.”

The comments came as Fahad Al-Jutaily, CEO of cybersecurity firm sirar by stc, warned an attack is being launched somewhere on the planet every 11 seconds.

Speaking about Saudi Arabia’s readiness for any cyberattack, Prince bin Salman said: “I cannot proclaim victory before the victory.”

However, he stressed the importance of not being in a race with one another, competing on which country has the right capabilities to defend itself.

“This forum makes the point that cyber-attack is a collective danger that has to be attempted collectively,” he explained.

The evolution of cybersecurity is one of the key pillars of the forum, which sees international leaders from different sectors coming together under the theme “Rethinking the Global Cyber Order.”

The event will host over 4,500 attendees from over 110 countries and convene more than 120 speakers to discuss day-to-day cyber issues.

Source: Arab News
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230 unidentified bodies discovered in Libya: International Criminal Court

Aydogan Kalabalik  



Authorities in Libya have unearthed 230 bodies, mostly unidentified, from sites in Tarhuna, a city south of the capital Tripoli, the chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) said Wednesday.

Karim Asad Ahmad Khan addressed the UN Security Council after his visits to Libya and updated the council in a speech uploaded on the ICC's official social media account.

The ICC, according to Khan, possesses audio and video records of the atrocities and mass graves in Tarhuna.

He said armed groups affiliated with Khalifa Haftar, the leader of the country's armed forces in the east, were involved in crimes such as extrajudicial killings, kidnapping and hostage taking in various Libyan cities.

The city of Tarhuna was liberated on June 5, 2020 from militias loyal to Haftar. Since then, bodies have been recovered from mass graves discovered almost every day.

Source: Anadolu Agency

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Seven killed as Philippine troops clash with Muslim rebels

10 November, 2022

Philippine troops have clashed with Muslim guerrillas in a southern village, leaving at least three soldiers and four rebels dead and sparking fears that an escalation could threaten a 2014 peace pact that has considerably eased years of heavy fighting.

The sporadic clashes erupted on Tuesday and Wednesday in a village in Ungkaya Pukan town on the island province of Basilan, where leaders of the military and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front separately ordered their forces to halt the fighting and allow de-escalation talks on Thursday.

Military and rebel commanders at the scene of the fighting accused each other of violating the 2014 peace accord, which eased years of bloody and extensive fighting between government forces and the Muslim rebel front, the largest separatist insurgent group in the south of the largely Roman Catholic nation.

The clashes left three soldiers dead and seven others wounded, the military said, while the rebels reported at least four dead and several others wounded.

The conflict underscored the fragility of law and order in a southern region faced with a surfeit of loose firearms, private armies, crushing poverty and a long history of violence.

Under the 2014 peace pact, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front dropped its secessionist demand in exchange for a more powerful and better-funded Muslim autonomous region called Bangsamoro.

The five-province Muslim region is now led by former guerrilla leaders under a transition period ending in 2025.

Nearly half of about 40,000 guerrillas have agreed to lay down their firearms and return to normal life in exchange for livelihood packages under the peace pact.

Thousands of other rebels have kept their firearms while waiting to be subjected to a years-long "decommissioning process", a subtle term for surrendering their weapons.

The process has been delayed amid complaints that former rebels have failed to receive promised cash and other incentives from the government.

"This is very alarming because the implications are worrisome to us," Naguib Sinarimbo, the interior minister of the Bangsamoro autonomous region, told The Associated Press.

"Our worry is if there are sparks like this, concerns may arise whether the decommissioning process would continue."

Brigadier General Domingo Gobway, an army brigade commander in Basilan, said his forces were cracking down on armed men involved in extortion and intimidation using homemade bombs.

Amid the military campaign, the gunmen fled to a Basilan village called Ulitan, where they were protected by Moro Islamic Liberation Front guerrillas, he said.

The rebels and the extortion gang were forced to leave Ulitan village in September amid the military crackdown, but Moro Islamic Liberation Front guerrillas returned on Monday with their firearms in violation of an agreement that rebel firearms and other weapons should be restricted in mutually identified Moro Islamic Liberation Front encampments, Gobway said.

Troops came under fire in Ulitan on Tuesday and Wednesday, prompting them to return fire and take action to bring the situation under control, military officials said.

Mohagher Iqbal, who led the Muslim guerrillas in years of peace talks with the government, said the violence "was an unfortunate incident that no one desired to happen… while the peace process' dividends have started to be felt by the people".

Iqbal called for the combatants' "immediate disengagement to prevent the situation from escalating" and urged government and rebel ceasefire representatives to carry out an investigation to prevent a repeat of such deadly clashes.

Western governments have welcomed progress in years of peace talks between Manila and Muslim rebels that have turned major battlefields into potential growth centers in the south in recent years, in the homeland for minority Muslims who live in some of the poorest and least-developed provinces in the country.

Had the decades-old Muslim insurgency continued to flare in the southern Philippines, there were worries that large numbers of Muslim insurgents could forge an alliance with outside militant forces and turn the south into a breeding ground for extremists.

Source: The New Arab

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Haqqani Says Taliban Founder Mullah Omar was Chosen to Protect Islam

By Saqalain Eqbal

November 9, 2022

Haqqani Network leader, Sirajuddin Haqqani, also the Taliban Acting Minister of Interior Affairs has stated that Mullah Mohammad Omar, the Taliban group’s founder, was chosen to protect the religion of Islam.

During a ceremony in Zabul province to mark the revealing of Mullah Omar’s burial on Monday, November 7, Haqqani stated that he was chosen to defend the Islamic way of life and system.

“Amir al-Mu’minin Mullah Mohammad Omar Mujahid was chosen to protect the religion and the system,” he said. The title Mullah Omar was given is an Arabic designation for the supreme leader of the Islamic community. Typically, it is interpreted as “Commander of the Faithful.”

Mullah Omar was born in Kandahar province in southern Afghanistan, he founded the Taliban movement in 1996 after which he was given the title of Amir al-Mu’minin.

Mullah Omar died in Pakistan in 2013, and Mullah Akhtar Mansour succeeded him as commander of this group, according to information from the National Directorate of Security of Afghanistan’s former government.

From 1996 until 2001, Mullah Omar presided as the Taliban’s supremo. However, after the September 11 terrorist attacks and the US invasion of Afghanistan to defeat Al-Qaeda, the Taliban was overthrown.

Mullah Omar stopped appearing in public after that, and the US government offered a $10 million bounty for his arrest. He was also labeled on the list of the top 10 most dangerous terrorist groups.

The whereabouts of Mullah Omar, the founder of the movement, who was killed and buried in secret for many years, was made public by the Taliban on Sunday.

Taliban leaders could be seen gathered around a plain white brick tomb that was encircled by a green metal fence and covered with what seemed to be gravel in photographs released by the government.

Omar’s event came a day after local Taliban leaders refuted allegations that resistance commander Ahmad Shah Massoud’s burial in the Panjshir Valley had been vandalized.

The Taliban’s Zabihullah Mujahid warned that if the accusations were accurate, the act would be “punished.”

Source: Khaama Press

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Winter sparks concerns for 4,100 newborn babies in Sindh flood camps

Imran Ayub

November 10, 2022

KARACHI: More than 4,000 babies are born in relief camps of flood victims in less than two months fanning concerns of health experts and officials who see these children as the most vulnerable segment of the displaced people in view of the fast approaching winter.

Data compiled by the provincial administration and health department suggests that between September 9 and October 31, a total of 4,118 women gave birth while a large number of these women were facing malnutrition and other health complications.

“Apart from these 4,118 births in flood relief camps, there are 4,191 lactating mothers which took the number of persons at high risk due to approaching winter to over 8,000,” said an official citing the data.

“By November 1, there were a total of 6,311 flood-hit pregnant women in different relief camps across the province. Among them 1,704 are at the first trimester, 2,763 at second one and 1,844 are at the third trimester of their pregnancies. Now the challenge is safe pregnancy and delivery of these babies. With overall challenging health conditions, these segments of flood victims are at higher risk in view of fast approaching winter.”

Over 4,000 mothers face healthcare challenge after giving birth in camps in two months

Dr Saqib Ansari, director health of Alkhidmat Karachi, which is actively involved in providing medical care in flood-hit areas with a number of healthcare facilities and professionals, sees malnutrition as a widespread problem causing more complications in pregnant women and newborns.

“We need to keep in mind that they [pregnant women] are under a third extreme stress within a short period of time in their lives,” he said.

“First they are already pregnant and then came the devastating floods, which have ruined their lives and finally they are in relief camps far from their homes and farmland. The situation is quite complex and we see them in already compromised conditions.”

The healthcare experts and those volunteering their services in affected areas believe that it is an alarming situation in the flood-affected areas as hundreds and thousands of flood victims are often forced to live under the open sky and grapple with disease.

The provincial government and healthcare administration claim that they have realised the sensitivity of the situation, which has pushed them into action.

“The approaching winter is definitely challenging, especially for newborns and their mothers,” said Qasim Soomro, a Member of the Provincial Assembly and parliamentary secretary health.

“To address these challenges, we have devised a strategy and are about to start work on it. With the help of data and available resources, we would mobilise our teams for an immediate supply of winter protection stuff that include warm clothing for newborns and other necessary goods.”

Responding to a query about arrangements for those babies born with complications, he admitted malnutrition as a key issue among them saying that the government had made enhanced arrangements at all public hospitals in the affected areas and they were accommodating each and every child and mother with any complaint.

“Similarly, there are also a moderate number of pregnant women still in flood-hit areas, who have not moved to the camps. For them the health department has deployed midwives and put in place all necessary arrangements,” Mr Soomro claimed.

Source: Dawn

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Muslim Americans take leap forward in US midterm elections

9 November 2022

There has been a record number of legislative, statewide, and federal electoral victories of Muslim American candidates in this week's midterm election, Jetpac Resource Center and the Council on American-Islamic Relations (Cair) have announced.

"I'm inspired by the historic wins we are seeing in local and state elections across the country. It shows that the Muslim community is building solid infrastructure for sustained electoral success," Jetpac Resource Center executive director Mohammed Missouri said.

"Policy decisions on education, housing, climate, and civil rights are shaped by state legislatures and it is critical that our voice is represented in the policymaking process."

Abdelnasser Rashid and Nabeela Syed are projected to win the elections to represent State House District 21 and State House District 51, respectively. They would be the first Muslims elected to the Illinois State Legislature.

If Nabilah Islam prevails, she would represent State Senate District 7 in Georgia. On the State House side, Ruwa Romman is the projected winner to represent District 97. Islam would be the first Muslim woman elected to the State Senate while Romman would be the first Muslim woman elected to the State House of Representatives.

Munira Abdullahi does not have a challenger in the general election for State House District 9 in Ohio, and has become the first Muslim elected to the Ohio State Legislature. Ismail Mohammad, a Democrat running for State House District 3 would join her if he wins.

Democrat Mana Abdi made history when she was elected to represent State House District 95 in Maine. If South Portland Mayor Deqa Dhalac prevails in the State House District 120 race, she could join Abdi.

Former Euless City Councilor Salman Bhojani, a Democrat, is running for Texas House District 92 and is projected to win. He would be the first Muslim elected to the Texas State Legislature should he prevail and could be joined by Suleman Lalani, who is leading the race to represent State House District 76.

This midterm election had 145 Muslim candidates running for local, state and federal office in the general election, including 48 state legislative candidates running in 23 states. Not all races have a clear winner yet. According to Jetpac, currently, 29 Muslim state legislators serve in 18 states.

“Tonight’s historic string of record-breaking American Muslim electoral victories is a testament to our community’s ongoing rise in American politics and the trust our neighbours have placed in us to represent them and fight for their interests," Cair national executive director Nihad Awad said.

"We are witnessing the next step in the American Muslim community’s political transformation from marginalised voices that were sidelined, or worse, to decision-makers. These newly elected officials are building upon the success of our community’s decades-long investment in civic engagement, voter registration and running for office."

Source: MiddleEastEye

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Supreme Court sets up bench to hear Gyanvapi mosque case tomorrow

November 10, 2022

The Supreme Court Thursday decided to set up a bench tomorrow to hear the Gyanvapi mosque case, a day before its order to seal the area where a Shivling-like structure was reportedly found ceases to be in force.

The top court, in May, had asked the Varanasi district magistrate to secure the area where a Shivling was claimed to have been found during a videographic survey of the mosque area without impeding or restricting the rights of Muslims to access and offer namaz at the mosque.


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Centre justifies no SC tag for Dalit Muslims, Christians in Supreme Court

Nov 10, 2022

By Utkarsh Anand

The Union government on Wednesday told the Supreme Court that Scheduled Caste (SC) status has not been granted to groups that claim to have been Dalits in the past but converted to Islam or Christianity because social stigma such as untouchability is not prevalent in these two religions.

Currently, the constitutional right to reservations in jobs and education as a member of the SC community is extended only to people from Hindu, Sikh or Buddhist faiths, in accordance with the Constitution (Scheduled Castes) Order, 1950.

Seeking to repel the legal challenge to the 1950 order laid by a batch of petitions that want the umbrella of reservation be extended also to Dalit people who have converted to Christianity or Islam, the Centre said that identification of SC is centered around a specific social stigma and the connected backwardness which is limited to the communities recognised under the 1950 Order.

“The Constitution (Scheduled Caste) Order, 1950 was based on historical data which clearly established that no such backwardness or oppression was ever faced by members of Christian or Islamic Society. In fact, one of the reasons for which people from Scheduled Castes have been converting to religions like Islam or Christianity is so that they can come out of the oppressive system of untouchability which is not prevalent at all in Christianity or Islam,” argued the government.

It added that there is also no documented research and precise authenticated information available to establish that the disabilities and handicaps suffered by Scheduled Caste members in the social order of its origin (Hinduism) persists with their oppressive severity in the environment.

According to the Centre, it would cause a grave injustice and would be an abuse of the process of law, consequently affecting the rights of the SC groups if all the converts are arbitrarily given the perks of reservation without examining the aspect of social disability.

It further justified extending the reservation benefits to Buddhists while denying it to Muslims and Christians, arguing that not only the nature of conversions is different but the original caste of those converting to Buddhism can also be ascertained.

“SCs embraced Buddhism voluntarily at the call of Dr Ambedkar in 1956 on account of some innate socio-political imperatives. The original castes/ community of such converts can clearly be determined. This cannot be said in respect of Christians and Muslims, who might have converted on account of other factors, since the process of such conversions has been taken place over the centuries,” said the affidavit.

Calling the 2007 Report of Justice Ranganath Mishra Commission that which favoured SC status for Dalits in all religions “flawed,” the affidavit told the court that the report has not been accepted by the Centre because it was prepared without conducting any field studies and also failed to into account the effect that the inclusion would have on the present castes listed as SCs.

The government informed the court that it has last month formed a three-member panel headed by former CJI KG Balakrishnan to examine whether SC status can be granted to Dalit Muslims and Christians.

Source: Hindustan Times

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HC Dismisses Plea Against Acquittal Of Advani And Other Accused In Babri Mosque Demolition Case

09 NOV 2022

The Allahabad High Court on Wednesday dismissed a plea challenging the acquittal of 32 accused including former deputy prime minister L K Advani in the Babri mosque demolition case on the ground of maintainability.

A Lucknow bench of justices Ramesh Sinha and Saroj Yadav passed the order on the appeal by two Ayodhya residents - Haji Mahmood Ahmad and Syed Akhlaq Ahmad.

The other leaders whose acquittal was challenged include the then Uttar Pradesh chief minister Kalyan Singh, senior BJP leaders M.M. Joshi, Uma Bharti, Vinay Katiyar and Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh, and Sadhvi Ritambhara. The duo contended in the petition that they were witnesses in the trial against the accused and “victims” of the demolition of the disputed structure.

In its objection, the state government and the CBI had stressed that the two appellants were not complainants or victims in the case and as such they cannot appeal as a stranger against the verdict of the trial court. After hearing the arguments of the parties, the bench reserved its order on October 31.

The Babri mosque was demolished by ‘karsewaks’ on December 6, 1992. After a long legal battle, the special CBI court on September 30, 2020 pronounced the judgment in the criminal trial and acquitted all the accused.

The trial judge had refused to believe newspaper cuttings and video clips as evidence as the originals of the same were not produced, while the entire edifice of the case rested on these pieces of documentary evidence. The trial judge had also held that the CBI could not produce any evidence that the accused had a meeting of mind with karsewaks who demolished the structure.

Assailing the findings of the trial court, the appellants have pleaded that the trial court committed an error in not convicting the accused persons, whereas ample evidence was on record. In the plea, the appellants have urged that the judgment of September 30, 2020 be set aside.


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Coimbatore car blast case: NIA raids under way at 45 locations across Tamil Nadu

Nov 10, 2022

NEW DELHI: The National Investigation Agency (NIA) has been conducting searches at 45 locations in Tamil Nadu in connection with its ongoing probe into October 23 Coimbatore LPG cylinder explosion that occurred in a car, sources said on Thursday.

A 29-year-old man Jameesha Mubin was killed in a car explosion near a temple in Coimbatore during the wee hours on October 23.

NIA officials, in coordination with state police, started its raids early Thursday at the residential premises of suspects related to incidents in areas like Kottamedu, Ponvizha Nagar, Rathinapuri, and Ukkadam.

The Central anti-terror agency's massive search occurred nearly 15 days after it registered a case following the Counter Terrorism and Counter Radicalization (CTCR) division of the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) issued an order asking it to start a probe into the matter.

The MHA order was issued a day after Tamil Nadu chief minister MK Stalin recommended for NIA probe in the case.

Stalin, in a recommendation letter, to the MHA had requested to transfer the investigation of the case related to the car cylinder explosion in the Ukkadam area in Coimbatore to the NIA and directed police to ensure security in Coimbatore.

Tamil Nadu Police so far has arrested over half a dozen people in connection with the case, and have invoked the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA).

Those arrested are learnt to be associates of Jameesha Mubin, who was charred to death in suspicious circumstances after an LPG cylinder inside a Maruti 800 he was driving exploded near a temple around 4 am.

As per police Mubin, 25, who was an engineering graduate, has been previously questioned by the NIA officials in 2019 for alleged terror links. His name is mentioned as the primary accused in the case.

Among the arrested people are Mohammad Thalka (25), Mohammad Asarudheen (25), Muhammad Riyaz (27), Feroz Ismail (27), Mohammad Navaz Ismail (27), and Afsar Khan, a relative of the deceased. Khan is the cousin of the deceased and he was picked two days before the blast by the special investigation team.

The explosion occurred in Ukkadam which is a communally sensitive area.

Source: Times Of India

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Moose Wala’s latest song: ‘Vaar’ causes stir, top Punjab cleric clears controversy

Nov 09, 2022

By Parteek Singh Mahal

Slain Punjabi singer Sidhu Moose Wala’s second posthumously released song Vaar, which talks about the bravery of Sikh general Hari Singh Nalwa, has landed in a controversy after certain members of the Muslim community raised objections to the lyrics.

The Muslim community has questioned the reference to “Muhammad” in this song. It has been learnt, that soon after the controversy Moose Wala’s father Balkour Singh talked with the Punjab’s Shahi Imam Maulana Muhammad Usman Ludhianvi and gave an explanation on Wednesday.

Ludhianvi said that the word “Muhammad” was used in the Vaar song of Moose Wala, and after release of the song questions were raised. “I have also talked with Moose Wala’s father in the morning. The song does not refer to Prophet Muhammad (last Prophet in Islam) as we have also checked the historical facts. But I repeat that these facts must be clarified in a description before the starting of the song in future,” he added.

Balkaur Singh said that the word Muhammad was not referred to Prophet Muhammad in any way. “These words are used for then Afghan ruler Dost Mohammad Khan and his five sons, with whom Hari Singh Nalwa had fought a war. It gives reference to the battle of Jamrud fought between Nalwa and the forces of Dost Muhammad. We have immense respect for Prophet Muhammad sahib. I apologise if we have hurt anyone’s sentiments,” he added.

Dost Mohammad Khan (1792 –1863) was one of the prominent rulers of the Emirate of Afghanistan during the reign of Sikh Empire led by Maharaja Ranjit Singh. Nalwa (1791-1837) commanded the army of the Sikh empire under Maharaja Ranjit Singh and was known for his role in the conquests of Kasur, Sialkot, Attock, Multan, Kashmir, Peshawar and Jamrud. He expanded the frontier of the Sikh empire to beyond the Indus river right up to the mouth of the Khyber Pass.

Released on Gurpurb, Sikhism founder Guru Nanak Dev’s birth anniversary, with more than 12 million views in a day, the song is trending on YouTube five months after the death of the singer.

SYL, first controversial posthumous song:

The first song released after Moose Wala’s killing was SYL, which focused on the more than four-decade old political dispute between Punjab and Haryana on the construction of the Sutlej Yamuna Link Canal (SYL). Striking a sensitive chord, apart from SYL, the singer talked about the post-Independence undivided Punjab, sovereignty, 1984 riots, Sikh prisoners’ release, incident of hoisting the Khalsa flag at Red Fort during the farmer agitation on Delhi’s border.

Source: Hindustan Times

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‘Untouchable’ Telangana State Wakf Board’s search for a CEO proves elusive

JS Ifthekha

9th November 2022

Hyderabad: Wonder which is the government institution that none wants to touch even with a bargepole? No prizes for guessing. It is the Telangana State Wakf Board. It has become a sort of ‘untouchable’ department as far as government officials go. They do their best to avoid working here.

The recent efforts of the Wakf Board to persuade Muslim officers of deputy secretary rank to head it have drawn a blank. Officers, the Wakf Board has sounded so far, to work as its Chief Executive Officer (CEO) have turned down the offer and shown no interest whatsoever, it is said.

This follows the recent developments in the Wakf Board with the latter passing a resolution repatriating its CEO, Shahnawaz Qasim, an IPS officer of 2003 batch, to his parent department and seeking a full time CEO. When approached, the Telangana High Court directed the board to propose names of at least two officers to the government for appointment to the post of CEO. The Board is given four weeks to submit the names to the government. But its search to zero in on Muslim officers willing to serve as its CEO is proving futile.

There are just half a dozen Muslim officers of the rank of deputy secretary and above in the state. They are: Abdul Hameed, Additional Collector, Jangaon, Mohd Asadullah, PS to Home Minister, Ayesha Masrath Khanam, Shaikh Yasmeen Basha, Collector Wanaparthy and present Board member, M.A. Mannan, Joint Secretary, Law Department, B. Shafiullah, Secretary, Telangana Minorities Residential Educational Institutions Society (TMREIS) and its Joint Secretary, Liyakhat Husain.

These officials are believed to have shown little interest in working at the Wakf Board. The reason is not far to seek. It is a well-known fact there is always intense political interference in Wakf Board’s affairs and officials find it difficult to work under such pressure. They are also under pressure to approve the irregular and often ‘unlawful’ demands of the Board members. There are many instances in the past of CEOs requesting the government to repatriate them back to their parent departments. Moreover, the CEOs have often faced music for the omission and commission of the Board members with enquiries initiated against them, “As such no official is willing to work here”, says a Board official.

As per Section 23 of the Wakf Act, the CEO should be a Muslim and not below the rank of a Deputy Secretary. But in practice officers of the rank of Deputy Collectors are posted and most of the time they are not even full-fledged CEOs. A lesser rank official is often a mute spectator and sometimes hands in glove with the ‘undesirable acts’ of the board members. Only the presence of an IAS or IPS officer will act as a deterrent. The situation can vastly improve if a civil servant is to head it, it is said. Even bitter critics of the board admit that its functioning was never as good as when it was under Special Officers’ regime. This was seen when IPS officers like S.A. Huda and Shaikh Mohammed Iqbal held the reins of the Board.

Part of the blame for the malfunctioning of the board also lies with the government which doesn’t take active interest in its affairs. The Chief Minister never bothers to monitor the Board’s functioning fearing that it might be seen as ‘interference’ in the religious affairs of the community. But this is a wrong presumption. Proper monitoring by the State Government will not only benefit but empower Muslims, many say.

At best, the functioning of the Wakf Board is never above board. Allegations of financial mismanagement and fraudulent dealings have always dogged it. Efforts to streamline its functioning have come to a naught. Many an upright officer has quit unable to bear the pressure from vested interests. One of the richest Muslim endowment bodies, the Telangana State Wakf Board boasts of 77,000 acres of landed property and 35,000 institutions. Unfortunately, 70 percent of the land is under encroachment. What is worse is that the Board has no record of some of its encroached properties. Efforts to evict the encroachers have been feeble and tardy.

The present turmoil in the Board is on account of differences cropping up between Shahnawaz Qasim and the members. There was a tug-of-war on several issues with Qasim not allowing the members to have their way. The main grouse against him is that he is not readily available since he is also discharging duties as Commissioner, Minorities Welfare apart from looking after the State Urdu Academy. “We want a full time CEO who can give more time to the Wakf affairs,” says Masiullah Khan, chairman, Telengana State Wakf Board.

Source:Siasat Daily

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Indian police investigating film that portrays Kerala as Islamic terrorism hub

Hannah Ellis-Petersen in Delhi

9 Nov 2022

Police in Kerala are investigating a controversial Bollywood film that portrays the southern Indian state as a hub of Islamic terrorism and forced conversion.

The Kerala Story, directed by Sudipto Sen, has come under criticism for its fictional depiction of tens of thousands of women from Kerala who it claims were converted to Islam and became terrorists for Islamic State in Afghanistan, Yemen and Syria.

A teaser trailer features an actor playing a Hindu woman who becomes a victim of an apparent “dangerous game” of conversion. “I wanted to become a nurse and serve humanity,” she says directly to the camera while dressed in a niqab. “Now I am Fatima Ba, an Isis terrorist in a jail in Afghanistan. I am not alone.”

The film trailer goes on toclaim that “there are 32,000 girls like me who have been converted and buried in the deserts of Syria and Yemen. A deadly game is being played to convert normal girls into dreaded terrorists in Kerala … will nobody stop them?”

The film-makers say the film is based on real information and events but have not provided any evidence or official reports to back their claims.

There was anger in India’s southern states following the trailer’s release. BR Aravindakshan, a journalist based in the neighbouring state of Tamil Nadu, filed a petition to the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, the office of the chief minister of Kerala and the Kerala police accusing the film of distributing “false information” and said its contents should be investigated and the release halted.

After Kerala’s chief minister, Pinarayi Vijayan, directed the state’s police to investigate the complaint, a criminal case has been registered against the trailer. Police in Kerala’s Thiruvananthapuram district are investigating allegations of misinformation and spreading of communal hatred.

VD Satheesan, the state assembly opposition leader, said the film was “a clear case of misinformation” and called for it to be banned over the risk of “spreading hatred”.

The film’s events appear to be inspired by four women from Kerala who converted to Islam and travelled with their husbands to Afghanistan to join IS in Khorasan province between 2016 and 2018. Their husbands were all killed and after surrendering in 2019; the four women are all still in Afghan jails, with the Indian government refusing to take them back.

There is no evidence that there were thousands of such cases in Kerala as the film alleges.

Kerala, considered India’s most progressive state with the highest levels of literacy and mortality, has long been ruled by a heavily leftwing, secular government. So far it has electorally rejected the Hindu nationalist politics that have come to dominate India’s central government and northern states under the ruling Bharatiya Janata party (BJP). The BJP won no seats in Kerala in the last general election.

In response, though, Kerala has been accused by figures in the BJP of becoming a “breeding ground” for Islamic terrorism.


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India alludes to ‘foreign origins’ of Christianity, Islam

November 10, 2022

Christian and Muslim leaders in India have expressed disappointment after the federal government cited the “foreign origins” of their faiths as justification for denying them the benefits of its affirmative action policy.

The affidavit filed through the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment before the Supreme Court in October defends the current criteria for determining which communities can be classified as Scheduled Castes (SC) and hence eligible for quotas in education and jobs as part of the constitution-approved policy of reservations.

There was “intelligible differentia” between Dalits practicing Hinduism, Sikhism, and Buddhism and those following other religions, the affidavit states.

The Hindu newspaper reported this as “possibly pointing to the argument that Christianity and Islam are not Indic religions and that there were foreign contributions to the creation of Christian and Muslim populations in India.”

J. George, a member of the National Council of Dalit Christians and one of the petitioners in the case, said “it was a matter of concern” because the federal government’s stance could delay the granting of SC status to Christians and Muslims of Dalit origin.

“It is not clear though, whether this was done deliberately or unknowingly,” he added.

Mohammad Salim Engineer, secretary-general of Jamaat-e-Islami Hind, a Muslim socio-religious group, said the Indian Constitution grants every citizen the right to choose any religion and this affidavit contradicted this basic principle.

He hoped the government would rethink its stance and ensure equal treatment for all.

“We hope our Dalit brothers and sisters will not be deprived of the benefits of reservation simply because they became Christians or Muslims,” he said.

Father Z. Devasagaya Raj, former secretary of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India’s Office of Dalits and Backward Classes, said Dalits are treated as untouchables even today regardless of their religion, Indic or foreign.

“The indelible stigma of untouchability continues to haunt them in their everyday lives as several academic studies and official commission reports have proved in the past,” the priest told UCA News on Nov 9.

Though the origin of castes is traced to the Hindu religion, it is wrong to connect the discriminatory practices associated with it only with Indic religions.

“The practice of caste-based discrimination has become part and parcel of Indian society, irrespective of religion,” he explained.

The benefits of the reservation policy are currently available for Hindus, Buddhists and Sikhs of Dalit origin while Christians and Muslims have been seeking them for many years.

Successive governments have appointed commissions to study the issue but continue to deny the reservation benefits despite recommendations that Dalit Christians and Dalit Muslims should be included on the SC list.

The word Dalit means "trampled upon" in Sanskrit and refers to all groups once considered untouchable and outside the four-tier Hindu caste system.


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From Auschwitz to Iftar: Danish Muslim-Jewish biker club revs up interfaith dialogue


9 November 2022

COPENHAGEN — Three years ago, Danish neo-Nazi groups vandalized more than 80 graves in a Jewish cemetery in Randers on the anniversary of Kristallnacht, the day on which the Nazis unleashed a wave of pogroms against Jews in Germany and Austria in 1938, unofficially marking the start of the Holocaust.

Ever since the 2019 desecration in Randers, an unlikely group comes to patrol the main Jewish cemetery in Copenhagen every year on Kristallnacht: a motorcycle club wearing leather vests adorned with their signature hamsa patch — a palm-shaped good luck symbol among both Jews and Muslims.

“We do this to make sure it won’t happen again, and we will do the same if someone [vandalized] the Muslim cemetery… or even a Buddhist or Christian cemetery,” said Dr. Sohail Asghar, the co-founder and vice president of MuJu & Co. MC Danmark, an interfaith motorcycle club in Copenhagen for Muslims, Jews and their allies.

Biker groups clad in leather are often perceived as being tough guys who drive fast, don’t mess around and walk a bit on the wild side. But the members of MuJu & Co. turn up in places where biker gangs are not expected to congregate — such as the Auschwitz-Birkenau memorial, a mosque in downtown Copenhagen, or a Jewish cemetery on the anniversary of Kristallnacht.

MuJu & Co. is Denmark’s first and only motorcycle club with a focus on Muslim-Jewish relations. It was founded in 2019 to unite motorcycle fanatics who are also interested in spreading a message of tolerance.

“It came up as a kind of joke, because we realized that we were several people riding bikes with Muslim and Jewish backgrounds,” said Dr. Dan Meyrowitsch, a Jewish epidemiologist and global health expert who knows Asghar through their work in international public health.

“We said, we both have this fondness for motorcycles. Maybe others are the same, and maybe we can gather around motorcycles as an excuse for friendship,” said Asghar, a Muslim anaesthesiologist/intensive care doctor who was born in Copenhagen and whose parents are from Pakistan.

Almost half of Danes see racism as a growing problem, though most of the racism is directed at Muslim immigrants. In 2020, the latest data available, there were 635 hate incidents reported to the police, including 79 directed at Jews, 87 directed at Muslims, and 360 directed at foreigners, who are often Muslim. There are about 8,000 Jews in Denmark and approximately 320,000 Muslims, or 5.5% of the population.

“The idea was to seek dialogue, peace, collaboration, and bridge building,” said Meyrowitsch, the co-founder and president of MuJu & Co.

Asghar sees it a bit differently. “The driving factor is friendship and having a good time,” he said. “We are friends having lots of fun. On top of that, we’re doing bridge building.”

‘Never Again’

The group, which includes a few dozen members, is approximately one-third Muslim, one-third Jewish and one-third atheist or other religions who support the mission. But it was the Muslim contingent that pushed for the group’s big trip to Auschwitz in 2022.

“Visiting Auschwitz has been something I wanted to do for years,” said Asghar, a World War II buff who voraciously reads history books. “I have always been trying to get my head around how atrocities like this could ever happen. How could humans do something this grotesque? And how can we still repeat ourselves with other genocides after the Second World War?”

The group connected with the Polish Embassy in Denmark, which sponsored the group’s hotel stays in Krakow. Eleven members joined for the more than 1,500-kilometer (932-mile) ride in early October.

“For us, as a group, I thought we needed to see the consequences if we don’t do bridge building and don’t understand each other,” said Asghar. “I have a theory that if all high school students in Europe visited Auschwitz, maybe there would be less racism.”

“And the Muslims among us think if something like this happens again, the Muslims will be the victims,” he added.

Three of MuJu’s Jewish members lost relatives in the Holocaust, which made the visit much more personal for the entire group.

“It was a big issue for me to face this place like that,” said Said Idrissi, the MuJu & Co. road captain. His job is to lead the pack on the road, map out the routes and make sure the group stays on schedule.

“Could we as human beings be so cruel? I wanted to see it with my eyes,” said Idrissi, a Muslim from Morocco who moved to Denmark as a young child and now works as a driving instructor. “If I had been there with my other friends or people from my workplace, it would be a different visit, but coming here with my Jewish friends, I saw how they reacted and the pain in their faces.”

Tony Gelvan, a Jewish member of the group, asked the tour guide for help locating information about his brother’s wife’s father, who was imprisoned at Auschwitz for part of the war. “I was happy that it was a 70-kilometer [43-mile] ride back to the hotel, so I could be by myself on the bike,” said Gelvan.

He said he spent most of the ride thinking about all of the genocides that have happened since WWII, especially in Bosnia in the 1990s, furious that the world had learned nothing.

A film crew also joined to document the group’s journey, and may make a documentary. Gelvan said despite the gravity of their destination, the driving part of the trip allowed them to do what they love best — ride together.

“A long ride like that will really challenge and test all the existing bonds between people,” said Meyrowitsch.

On the road again

On a recent Saturday in Copenhagen, half a dozen members of the group met at Meyrowitsch’s house to set off on a two-hour ride from Copenhagen to the fishing village of Hundested. There was already a fall chill in the air as the group rode through the rolling Danish countryside. They took winding country roads, dotted with traditional thatched-roof farmhouses and stunning views of the water.

The Saturday rides are the organization’s core activity, exploring areas a few hours outside of Copenhagen, stopping for lunch, maybe visiting a museum or cultural site, and heading for home. They ride in tight formation as Idrissi leads on what he insists is the club’s strongest and loudest motorcycle, though that is up for debate at the lunch stop. During the stops, they like to tease Meyrowitsch about his stable of classic motorcycles that are constantly breaking down, hash out recent motorcycle purchases or maintenance, or talk shop with other bikers they meet along the way.

MuJu & Co. is an official club registered with the Biker Foundation Denmark, which governs motorcycle “patch clubs” that are recognized by the patches on their jackets. Many of the clubs gather around a certain theme, which can range from enthusiasm about a certain brand of motorcycle, living near each other in a local neighborhood, or being military veterans, former policemen, recovered addicts, or bikers who raise money for charities, explained Gelvan.

While there are other clubs centered around religious identity, MuJu & Co. is the only interfaith group for Muslims, Jews and allies, said Meyrowitsch. They’re not aware of other Muslim/Jewish interfaith biking groups in other parts of the world, though they would very much like to collaborate.

A rabbi, an imam and a Harley…

Perhaps the most perfect interfaith moment on two wheels happened last May. It was just before a discussion that MuJu & Co. organized at a local coffee shop in Nørrebro, a Copenhagen neighborhood with a large population of Muslim immigrants. Before the debate, MuJu & Co. invited guests with wheels on a tour of Muslim and Jewish highlights of Copenhagen, including community centers and places of worship.

Denmark’s chief rabbi, Jair Melchior, joined for the day. But unfortunately, the rabbi didn’t know how to ride a motorcycle — so imam Abdul Wahid Pedersen, the imam at a major Copenhagen mosque who rides with the group occasionally, invited the rabbi to hop on the back of his Harley.

The event was a success — and not just because an imam and a rabbi were riding a motorcycle together.

“We talked about how to proceed with peaceful relations and dialogues, focusing on between Muslims and Jews, but also in general, about minorities and religious ethnic minorities,” said Meyrowitsch.

It’s a big part of MuJu & Co.’s mission to bring their message off the bikes and into the larger world. On March 19, they participated in the local celebrations for the United Nation’s International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination. And last year, they hosted Liselott Blixt, who was then a Member of Parliament with the Dansk Folkeparti, for a ride and discussion about immigration policy and the impact of politicians’ rhetoric about immigration in Denmark. The MP drove a massive orange Suzuki Hayabusa, considered one of the fastest production motorcycles available, according to Meyrowitsch.

The group has also celebrated holidays together, including sharing a huge Ramadan iftar break-fast meal with three generations of MuJu member Imran Parvaiz’s extended family, and gathering together to light Hanukkah candles. It’s allowed them an inside look into the other culture, and, for many, a window into how other people of their own religion might have different traditions.

“It’s given us some insight that we probably would have never had, unless we had very close friends or family that follow these traditions the same way,” said Meyrowitsch.

This year, they’ll return for their “peace watch” at Copenhagen’s Jewish cemetery on the anniversary of Kristallnacht, on November 9. But mostly, they’ll just get together and do what they love to do: ride their bikes.

“The take-home message for me is that we have used our hobby, motorcycles, to increase our friendships and bridge building,” said Asghar, who hopes other people think about ways to tie their existing hobbies into opportunities to meet people who are a little different from them.

“I’m not saying everyone should go with motorcycles. Maybe it’s another type of meeting club, or a book club, or whatever,” he said, urging people to consider opening it up to people of different faiths and see what kind of relationships can form. “It’s about finding friends among unusual suspects.”


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At least a dozen countries interested in joining BRICS: Russian foreign minister

Elena Teslova  



Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said on Tuesday that at least a dozen countries are interested in joining the emerging economies bloc BRICS.

"Interest in this global association is very, very high and continues to grow. It's not just Algeria, Argentina, and Iran. In fact, there are more than a dozen such countries," the minister told a news conference in Moscow, following a meeting with his Indian counterpart Subrahmanyam Jaishankar.

Currently, the BRICS countries -- Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa -- are working out formal criteria for entering the bloc, Lavrov added.

"Since the applications are already being submitted officially, of course, we expect that working out the criteria and principles for admitting new members to BRICS will not take too long," he said, noting that first it is necessary to understand how the bloc will develop further in a potentially expanded composition.

Lavrov praised Russia-India cooperation, saying the bilateral trade volume will soon reach $30 billion.

He also informed that Russia and India continue discussions on the joint production of advanced weapons, and the countries successfully develop cooperation in the area of atomic energy and space exploration.

The minister said he also briefed Jaishankar about details of Russia's "special military operation" in Ukraine.

"We discussed the situation that is currently developing around the attempts of our Western colleagues, under the pretext of Ukrainian events, to strengthen their dominant role in world affairs and not allowing the democratization of international relations," he said.

Next week's Afghanistan meeting in Moscow

Lavrov also explained why the representatives of the Taliban -- de facto rulers of Afghanistan -- were not invited to a meeting on Afghanistan to be held in Moscow next week.

According to the minister, the Taliban have failed to fulfil their promises about reforms in the country and to create "a more inclusive government," which would have representatives of different political, ethnic, and religious groups.

But Lavrov promised that Russia will convey to the Taliban the results of the work of the Moscow meeting.

"We have regular contact with representatives of the Taliban. They will be informed about what the participants of the Moscow format meeting will do. Of course, we do not have any secrets from the representatives of Afghanistan, we will thoroughly brief the Taliban and other political forces that exist there," he said.

The Moscow format includes Russia, India, Iran, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, China, Pakistan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan. The previous meeting, held on Oct. 20 last year, was attended by the Taliban delegation led by deputy chairman of the interim government Abdul Salam Hanafi.

The new meeting, according to Russian Presidential envoy for Afghanistan Zamir Kabulov, will take place on Nov. 16.

- India 'strongly opposes' Moscow-Kyiv war

For his part, Jaishankar said India strongly opposes the war in Ukraine, because the conflict in one part creates disturbances in other parts of the world.

He also stressed that the situation in Afghanistan does not have as much attention as it deserves.

Jaishankar evaded the direct answer to a question about India's position on introducing price caps on Russia's oil, saying India has a great demand on hydrocarbons.

Source: Anadolu Agency

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EU seeking to adopt new Iran sanctions next week: Germany

09 November, 2022

The European Union will seek to adopt new sanctions against Iran next week over the Islamic Republic's deadly crackdown on protests, Germany's foreign minister said Wednesday.

“We are working flat out on the next package of sanctions,” Annalena Baerbock said on Twitter. “We want to adopt it next week.”

“We won't let up,” she added. “We stand with the men and women of Iran, not only today, but as long as it is necessary.”

EU foreign ministers are due to meet in Brussels on Monday.

The bloc had already imposed sanctions in mid-October against Iran's “morality police” and 11 officials including the telecommunications minister.

Iran has been rocked by demonstrations over the death of Mahsa Amini, a 22-year-old Iranian of Kurdish origin, following her arrest in Tehran for allegedly flouting the country's strict hijab dress rules for women.

Source: Al Arabiya

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Iran army issues warning to ‘rioters’ as security forces struggle to suppress unrest

09 November, 2022

Iran's Army Ground Forces Commander said on Wednesday that “rioters” would have no place in the Islamic Republic if the country's Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei ordered a tougher crackdown on nationwide protests, the semi-official Mehr news agency reported.

“... should he decide to deal with them, rioters will no longer have a place in the country,” Brigadier General Kiumars Heydari said.

Anti-government demonstrations erupted in September after the death of a Kurdish woman, Mahsa Amini, who had been detained by morality police for allegedly flouting the Islamic Republic's strict dress code imposed on women.

The protests quickly turned into a popular revolt, with people ranging from students to doctors to lawyers to workers to athletes taking part.

Heydari was speaking 40 days after bloodshed in the mostly Sunni town of Zahedan, which has become a flashpoint in the protests.

Amnesty International said security forces killed at least 66 people there on Sept. 30. Authorities in Zahedan sacked the police chief and the head of a police station near where the killings took place.

Ethnic unrest

Iran has executed two Baluch militants convicted of “terrorism” charges dating back to about 2016, the semi-official news agency ILNA reported on Wednesday, in a move that may raise tensions further in volatile Sistan-Baluchistan province, where Zahedan is located.

The Baluch minority, estimated to number up to 2 million people, has faced discrimination and repression for decades, according to human rights groups.

Some of the worst unrest has been in areas home to minority ethnic groups with long-standing grievances against the state, including Sistan-Baluchistan and Kurdish regions.

On Wednesday, shopkeepers in some Kurdish cities went on strike to show their respect to the people who were killed in Zahedan, Kurdish rights group Hengaw said.

Shopkeepers in the market town of Valiasr, in Tehran province, also closed their businesses to mark the 40th day since the killings took place, according to HRANA news agency.

The Basij militia and other security forces have taken tough measures hoping to suppress the unrest but the fury has not eased.

While past demonstrations have focused on election results or economic hardships, the current protesters seem determined to secure an entirely new political order in a country where the clerical establishment has ruled since the 1979 revolution.

In an ongoing act of resistance, videos posted on Twitter under the hashtag of #TurbanTossing show Iranians sneaking up behind clerics and knocking turbans off their heads.

Source: Al Arabiya

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In a first, Israeli general opens up about use of armed drones

09 November, 2022

Israel on Wednesday described what has been an open secret for two decades - that it has used drones not just for surveillance but also in strikes within the country, against Palestinian militants in Gaza, and possibly targets as far away as Iran or Sudan.

Israeli censors in July permitted publication of information about the armed drones and the chief of Israel's artillery corps - which runs the drones together with the air force - used his speech at an industry forum to give what he described as a first public account of the armed versions of the pilot-less planes.

Whereas previously he could only offer hints, “today I can speak of this openly,” Brigadier-General Neri Horowitz told the annual UVID DroneTech conference hosted by Israel Defense magazine in Tel Aviv.

He said the armed drones not only provide Israel with additional firepower, but also allow, in a single platform, for both the speedy detection and attack against targets, such as Gaza rocket crews before they can carry out a launch.

He disclosed that when extremist insurgents from Egypt burst across the border into southern Israel in a hijacked armored vehicle in May 2012, they were destroyed in a drone strike.

Showing footage of Ukrainian forces using drones to guide shelling of invading Russian troops, he said: “We have the same application here.”

Israel is expanding its drone forces, whose personnel are 30 percent female, Horowitz said, adding that the artillery corps was replacing its cannon insignia with concentric circles representing the incorporation of the aerial platforms.

At the same conference, Brigadier-General Omri Dor, commander of Palmachin airbase, said drones now accounted for 80 percent of the Israeli military’s operational flight hours.

However, manufacturers of armed drones remain barred from advertising them and none of them were among the models on display at the conference.

Source: Al Arabiya

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Cities across Iran strike in solidarity with Zahedan clashes

09 November, 2022

Cities in western Iran went on strike Wednesday in solidarity with mourners marking 40 days since security forces killed dozens in a crackdown on protests in the country’s strife-torn southeast, a rights group said.

Security forces opened fire on protests that erupted on September 30 after weekly prayers in Zahedan, capital of the flashpoint province of Sistan-Baluchistan on Iran’s southeastern border with Pakistan.

It came two weeks after demonstrations broke out across Iran over the death of Mahsa Amini, a 22-year-old Iranian of Kurdish origin, following her arrest in Tehran for allegedly flouting the country’s strict dress code for women.

Widespread strikes were underway Wednesday in the Kurdish western cities of Baneh, Kermanshah, Marivan, Sanandaj and Amini’s hometown of Saqez, the Norway-based Hengaw human rights group said.

The stoppages were being observed “in solidarity with the fatalities in Zahedan on their 40th day death ceremonies,” Hengaw, which monitors abuses in Kurdish areas, said on Twitter.

The trigger for the violence that erupted in Zahedan on September 30 was the alleged rape in custody of a 15-year-old-girl by a police commander in the province’s port city of Chabahar.Security forces opened fire on men who took to the streets after emerging from mosques following weekly prayers, killing dozens in a massacre that became known as “Bloody Friday.”

“What happened that Friday... in Zahedan, based on international law, is a clear instance of mass murder of civilians,” Hengaw said.

“This mass murder must be recognized by international organizations and Western governments,” it tweeted.

Oslo-based group Iran Human Rights says that since then at least 118 people have been killed in Sistan-Baluchistan province.

The Iranian authorities say at least six security personnel have been killed.

Zahedan is one of the few Sunni-majority cities in predominantly Shia Iran.

Poverty-stricken Sistan-Baluchistan province is a flashpoint for clashes with drug smuggling gangs as well as rebels from the Baluchi minority and Sunni extremist groups.

Activists have long complained the region has been the victim of discrimination by Iran’s Shia clerical leadership, with disproportionate numbers of Baluch killed in clashes every year and also hanged in executions.

The latest executions were announced on Wednesday.

Source: Al Arabiya

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More Afghan children killed by UK forces than claimed amid release of payout figures

November 09, 2022

LONDON: The number of children killed by UK forces during Afghanistan’s almost two-decade war could be far higher than claimed, the BBC reported.

It follows reports that more than four times as many relatives of slain children received compensation than previous government figures had claimed.

Previous figures reported compensation payments in 16 cases, but a new freedom of information request filed by the Action on Armed Violence charity shows that the UK government paid at least 64 Afghan families over the deaths of children.

The most common causes of civilian deaths between 2006 and 2014 were airstrikes launched by British forces as well as accidental killings during crossfire.

In total, the UK received 881 claims of civilian deaths from Afghan families, but only about a quarter received financial compensation, amounting to $790,133 in total payouts.

One high-profile claim was launched by relatives of a family in which eight members were killed in 2008 during an airstrike in Helmand province. The UK paid $8,260 in compensation.

In order to claim financial compensation, Afghan applicants endured a strict process designed to bar those affiliated with the Taliban.

Afghans needed to provide photos, birth certificates and letters of support, Action on Armed Violence said.

But the UK’s approach to compensation for civilian deaths has faced criticism, with figures showing that in some cases, Afghans were paid more for property and material losses than the deaths of family members.

Action on Armed Violence Director Iain Overton also questioned the government’s transparency over the financial payout figures, saying the lack of debate around civilian deaths in Afghanistan was concerning.

Source: Arab News

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Iran warns Saudi Arabia its ‘patience’ may run out

November 10, 2022

DUBAI: Iran’s intelligence minister told its regional rival Saudi Arabia on Wednesday that there is no guarantee of Tehran continuing its “strategic patience,” according to semi-official Fars news agency.

“Until now, Iran has adopted strategic patience with firm rationality, but it cannot guarantee that it will not run out if hostilities continue,” Fars quoted Esmail Khatib as saying.

“If Iran decides to retaliate and punish, glass palaces will crumble and these countries will not experience stability anymore.” Iran has accused foreign enemies of fomenting unrest raging since the death in police custody of Iranian Kurdish woman Mahsa Amini in September after her arrest for allegedly flouting the Islamic Republic’s strict dress code imposed on women.

The protests by Iranians from all walks of life have mushroomed into one of the biggest challenges to Iran’s clerical leaders since the 1979 Islamic Revolution.

Last month, Iran’s Revolutionary Guards chief Hossein Salami warned Saudi Arabia Riyadh to control its media outlets.

“I am warning the Saudi ruling family.... Watch your behaviour and control these media ... otherwise you will pay the price. This is our last warning because you are interfering in our state matters through these media. We told you, be careful,” Salami said, according to Iranian state media.

Last week Iran denied that it posed a threat to Saudi Arabia after the Wall Street Journal reported that Riyadh had shared intelligence with the United States warning of an imminent attack from Iran on targets in the kingdom.

Deadly strike hits pro-Iran militia

A strike on a pro-Iran militia convoy in eastern Syria near the Iraqi border killed at least 14 people overnight, a war monitor said Wednesday, without specifying who carried it out.

The attack hit a convoy of “fuel tankers and trucks loaded with weapons”, in the Albu Kamal area, the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

The US-led coalition fighting the remnants of the militant Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria said neither it nor any coalition countries carried out the raid.

A spokesman for the Israeli military said: “We do not comment on foreign press reports.” The Iraqi border official said the trucks were transporting Lebanon-bound fuel from Iran via Iraq and Syria.

Source: Dawn

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Outgoing defense minister warns of rising extremism in Israel

Abdelraouf Arna'out



Outgoing Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz warned Wednesday of rising extremism inside Israel.

"The extremism in society and in the government is what bothers me," Gantz said in statements cited by The Jerusalem Post newspaper.

Opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu is set to form the upcoming government in Israel after his right-wing alliance won last week’s legislative elections.

Netanyahu’s camp won 64 seats in the 120-seat Knesset (Israel’s parliament) against 51 seats for members of the current government led by Prime Minister Yair Lapid.

One of his allies, Bezalel Smotrich, the head of the extremist Religious Zionism Party, wants to hold the defense portfolio in the upcoming government.

Source: Anadolu Agency

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Interior Minister: Leaders Behind Iran's Unrest Trained in 8 Countries


Vahidi disclosed the plots hatched by enemies to turn the recent unrest in Iran into ethnic divisions in a meeting with a group of clerics on Tuesday.

The minister noted that the people that took part in the unrest in Iran fall into several categories, some of whom had especially trained in eight countries that are opposed to Tehran.

"In the course of the recent plot, in addition to the United States, which in shortest possible time voiced its support for the rioters, such countries as Germany and Britain, too, alongside Saudi Arabia and the Zionist regime, had openly established a headquarters and were busy supporting the rioters," Vahidi said.

He added that the global arrogance tried to guide the recent events towards tribal issues, and to pretend that it is a supporter of different Iranian tribes and ethnic minorities, which was a big lie that was soon rejected by the Iranian people of different races.

"Although the enemy spent large expenses for this combinate war and unrests, their plots led to defeat, but while they know about this defat, they have no way, but to insist on continuation of this hybrid war," the minister added.

The foes have conceded that its policy of maximum pressure on Iran has ended in failure, the official stated.

Protests erupted in several cities across Iran over the death of Mahsa Amini, a 22-year-old Iranian woman who fainted at a police station in mid-September and days later was pronounced dead at a hospital. The demonstrations soon turned violent.

An official report by Iran’s Legal Medicine Organization announced that Amini’s controversial death was caused by an illness rather than alleged blows to the head or other vital body organs.

Iranian officials blame Western countries for orchestrating the riots to destabilize the country.

Supreme Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyed Ali Khamenei severely censured the deadly riots, saying they were orchestrated in advance by the United States and the Israeli regime.

“I state it clearly that these developments were planned by America, the Zionist regime and their acolytes. Their main problem is with a strong and independent Iran and the country’s progress. The Iranian nation proved to be fairly strong during recent events and will bravely come onto the scene wherever necessary in the future,” he added.

In recent days, Iranian officials have blamed the United States, the European Unions, and several Western states for meddling in Iran's internal affairs over the death of Mahsa. They advised the US and its allies against "opportunism and instrumentalization of the issue of human rights" by misusing the incident.

Tehran reminded that the countries, which, themselves, towed a "long history of warmongering and violence" throughout the world, lacked the legitimacy that could authorize them to "moralize others" concerning the human rights.

Iran’s Intelligence Ministry has announced that the United States and the United Kingdom were “directly” involved in the recent riots across the country.

Dozens of terrorists affiliated with the Zionist regime and anti-revolution groups have been detained during the recent days of unrest, the ministry said in a Friday statement.

The Iranian Intelligence Ministry underlined that 49 MKO terrorists had been arrested for actively propagating fake news, inciting the rioters to organize acts of terror and destruction, directing slogans and being present on the streets to damage public property.

The ministry added 77 members of anti-Iran terrorist groups had also been arrested in the Iraqi Kurdistan Region.

The statement pointed to the detention of five members of Takfiri terrorist outfits with 36 kilograms of explosives that were to be used to carry out bombings in gatherings.

The ministry further underscored 92 people affiliated with the former US-backed Pahlavi regime had been identified and arrested in the riots. It added that nine nationals from Germany, Poland, Italy, France, the Netherlands, and Sweden, among others, were arrested during the riots.

Source: Fars News Agency

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Speaker: Enemies Seeking to Disintegrate Iran


Qalibaf made the remarks in a Wednesday session of parliament, calling for preserving unity among the Iranian nation.

He cautioned that any kind of stance, which hurts unity, will be considered as loading the enemy’s gun.

The speaker noted that "the enemy seeks to disintegrate Iran".

"We should preserve the unity in the country and the anti-Islamic Revolution foes in particular the United States and the Zionist regime are attempting to react to revolutionary movements, so we should protect unity to be able to stand against them," the senior lawmaker added.

Protests erupted in several cities across Iran over the death of Mahsa Amini, a 22-year-old Iranian woman who fainted at a police station in mid-September and days later was pronounced dead at a hospital. The demonstrations soon turned violent.

An official report by Iran’s Legal Medicine Organization announced that Amini’s controversial death was caused by an illness rather than alleged blows to the head or other vital body organs.

Iranian officials blame Western countries for orchestrating the riots to destabilize the country.

Supreme Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyed Ali Khamenei severely censured the deadly riots, saying they were orchestrated in advance by the United States and the Israeli regime.

“I state it clearly that these developments were planned by America, the Zionist regime and their acolytes. Their main problem is with a strong and independent Iran and the country’s progress. The Iranian nation proved to be fairly strong during recent events and will bravely come onto the scene wherever necessary in the future,” he added.

In recent days, Iranian officials have blamed the United States, the European Unions, and several Western states for meddling in Iran's internal affairs over the death of Mahsa. They advised the US and its allies against "opportunism and instrumentalization of the issue of human rights" by misusing the incident.

Source: Fars News Agency

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Intelligence Minister: UK to Pay Price for Enmities towards Iran


"The US, the UK, the Israeli regime and Saudi Arabia played an overt role in the recent riots in several Iranian cities," Khatib said in an interview with the Supereme Leader's website on Tuesday.

“We will never support terrorist and destabilizing acts in other countries as the UK does, but we also will not be committed to preventing the occurrence of insecurity in such countries,” the minister stated.

He then hastened to warn that London will pay the price of acting to make the great country of Iran insecure.

Referring to the so-called Iran International TV, Khatib stressed that the “elements of that network” will be pursued by the intelligence ministry.

“From now on, any kind of connection with this terrorist organization will be considered as entering the terrorist domain and threatening the country’s national security,” he added.

Undoubtedly, Khatib said, the biggest “influence operation” against a country in the world was carried out against Iran through hybrid operations by the US, the UK, the Israeli regime, and Saudi Arabia.

“In recent events, the hand of the Zionist regime was more evident in implementation; the hand of the UK in propaganda, and the hand of the Saudi regime in funding,” he explained.

Protests erupted in several cities across Iran over the death of Mahsa Amini, a 22-year-old Iranian woman who fainted at a police station in mid-September and days later was pronounced dead at a hospital. The demonstrations soon turned violent.

An official report by Iran’s Legal Medicine Organization announced that Amini’s controversial death was caused by an illness rather than alleged blows to the head or other vital body organs.

Iranian officials blame Western countries for orchestrating the riots to destabilize the country.

Supreme Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyed Ali Khamenei severely censured the deadly riots, saying they were orchestrated in advance by the United States and the Israeli regime.

“I state it clearly that these developments were planned by America, the Zionist regime and their acolytes. Their main problem is with a strong and independent Iran and the country’s progress. The Iranian nation proved to be fairly strong during recent events and will bravely come onto the scene wherever necessary in the future,” he added.

In recent days, Iranian officials have blamed the United States, the European Unions, and several Western states for meddling in Iran's internal affairs over the death of Mahsa. They advised the US and its allies against "opportunism and instrumentalization of the issue of human rights" by misusing the incident.

Source: Fars News Agency

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Top Security Official: Iran Ready to Help End Russia-Ukraine War


Shamkhani made the remarks in a meeting with Secretary of Russia’s Security Council Nikolai Patrushev in Tehran on Wednesday.

"Iran welcomes and supports any initiative that leads to a ceasefire and peace between Russia and Ukraine based on dialogue and is ready to play a role in ending the war," Iran's top security official said.

Referring to the dimensions of the hybrid war against the Iranian nation and the effects of the US sanctions, Shamkhani noted, "Expanding bilateral and regional cooperation, especially with neighboring countries in the economic field, is one of the strategic priorities of our country."

He also stressed the need for strengthening the Iran-Russia cooperation process in different fields including trade, banking, energy, transportation, and agriculture.

"By taking the necessary measures, the obstacles in these sectors should be removed quickly," the security official added.

Shamkhani also noted that it is necessary to strengthen multilateral cooperation in regional organizations, especially the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO), to intelligently use the exchangeable capacities of the member countries.

"Danger of terrorism and extremism continues to threaten the security of the region and the world," he continued, emphasizing the need to continue and increase regional and international cooperation to completely eliminate the dangers of this phenomenon.

The senior official also called for forming joint institutions to deal with sanctions and activating the capacity of international institutions against embargos and sanction-imposing countries.

Patrushev, for his part, expressed satisfaction with the acceleration of cooperation between Tehran and Moscow in various fields.

"Creating synergy in transit capacities, especially the rapid completion of the North-South corridor is an effective step to improve the quality of bilateral and international economic and commercial cooperation," he added.

The security official noted that Western countries, especially the US, are seeking to impose their political will on independent countries by violating the UN Charter and using combined warfare.

Patrushev criticised the role of Western media in “misleading public opinion about how the Ukraine crisis started and its realities on the ground”.

Iranian officials have emphasized that Tehran takes no sides in the bloody conflict and avoids any steps that may result in an escalation of the crisis. They reiterated their opposition to war between the two countries.

Iranian diplomats reiterated that Tehran has not provided Moscow with weapons for the war in Ukraine, and cautioned Ukraine to be careful about extreme European politicians' attitude towards Tehran-Kiev dispute.

Tehran has also asked Kiev to submit evidence for the use of Iranian drones by Russia in the war, and cautioned that arming Moscow or Kyiv will prolong the conflict between the two neighbors.

In Late February, President Vladimir Putin stated in response to a request by the heads of the Donbass republics he had made a decision to carry out a special military operation. The Russian leader stressed that Moscow had no plans of occupying Ukrainian territories.

The US, the EU, the UK and a number of other states have imposed sanctions against Russian legal entities and individuals. They also increased supplies of weapons to the Ukrainian authorities. Russia has officially become the most sanctioned country in the world, surpassing Iran, Syria and North Korea, after launching a military operation against Ukraine.

Back in September, Iranian President Seyed Ebrahim Rayeesi cautioned that the expansion of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) is a serious threat to the stability and security of nations.

Source: Fars News Agency

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Iran Calls for Intra-Regional Dialogue over Caucasus Dispute


Referring to recent remarks by Azerbaijan President Ilham Aliyev over Iran's support for Armenia, Kana'ani said, "Tehran once again announces its readiness for contributing to resolving the remaining issues between its Northern neighbors in the framework of bilateral, trilateral and six-sided regional frameworks."

The spokesperson further reiterated that the fundamental diplomacy of the Tehran is based on "good neighborly relations" and "expansion of amicable relations with all its neighbors", as well as strengthening ties with each neighbor, but this does not mean using such ties against another neighbor.

"The Islamic Republic of Iran has always emphasized the need to safeguard the territorial integrity of every country, and peaceful resolving of the disputes between Azerbaijan and Armenia, and therefore, we had condemned the occupation of Azerbaijan's territories and supported their liberation at the highest political level," the diplomat reiterated, referring to Iran's basic policy about the lingering conflict between its two Northern neighbors in Karabakh region.

He said that it is now almost two years that the Azerbaijan Republic's officials in various political, military and security levels have been in touch with different officials of Armenia Republic, paving the path towards peace and friendship, which was all supported by the Islamic Republic of Iran, but the reason for their worries about our natural contacts at neighborly level with that country is incomprehensible for us.

The official added that the recent wargame along Iran's borders with Armenia and Azerbaijan was a normal and pre-planned move, which had been earlier informed through official channels to the concerned neighbors.

Iranian officials have repeatedly underlined Tehran’s opposition to geopolitical changes in the region, and reaffirmed the country is ready to use all its capacities to establish peace and stability in the Caucasus region and its growth and development.

Tehran believes that peace and stability in the region is enhanced through cooperation among the regional countries, voicing hope that the ongoing negotiations between Armenia and Azerbaijan over their long-running territorial dispute results in lasting peace.

Back in September, Chief of Staff of the Iranian Armed Forces Major General Mohammad Baqeri called on Armenia and Azerbaijan to solve their territorial disputes through dialogue, warning that Tehran will not tolerate any change to the borders of the countries in the region.

Delivering a stern warning against any attempt aimed at changing the regional borders in the vicinity of Iran, the top military commander called on neighboring Azerbaijan and Armenia to resolve their border issues peacefully.

“We have repeatedly declared that we do not tolerate any changes to the region’s borders,” Major General Baqeri said.

“We advise Azerbaijan and Armenia to resolve their problems through peaceful channels. We do not tolerate any resort to clashes and war and will not sit idly by in the face of it,” he added.

Iranian officials have stressed the necessity for the settlement of the crises and problems in the region through collective cooperation among the regional states, and underscored that the presence of foreigners is harmful.

Source: Fars News Agency

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Border Guards Seize Arms, Munitions in Southeastern Iran


General Goudarzi said that the arms and munitions were cunningly hidden in the fuel tank of a fuel carrier Toyota  which was discovered and seized in an operation.

The commander who was visiting the Jakigour Border Guards Station of Sistan and Baluchestan, further elaborated that the batch included 85 handguns, as well as a large number of bullets and bullet cartridges, which were confiscated, and the driver too, was arrested.

"This was the 3rd batch of arms and munitions, which is discovered and confiscated in Sistan and Balouchestan by border guards after the social unrests," he said.

In relevant remarks on Monday, General Goudarzi said that the Iranian border guards have dismantled several trafficking bands and seized nearly 600 weapons in less than two months.

"In the last 45 days, Iranian border guards have annihilated several arms and ammunition smuggling gangs and discovered about 600 weapons," General Goudarzi noted.

Seizure of arms grew 26 percent while being compared with the preceding year, he added.

The senior commander stressed that the recent unrest resulted from "the US and the children-killer regime of Israel and their agents" inside the country created problems for the security of “our dear citizens".

The border guards seriously stand against any move to break the law, he underlined.

“Our border guards are the strong fortress of the holy system of the Islamic Republic of Iran,” the border guards commander underscored.

Iranian security forces have identified and dismantled several anti-security groups across the country in recent months. Hundreds of weapons, including US-made arms, were seized in the operations.

The raid on the arms smuggling groups comes as terrorist groups have in recent weeks ramped up their activities to undermine the security of the country by hijacking rallies over the death of a 22-year-old Iranian woman to foment unrest and chaos.

Protests erupted in several cities across Iran over the death of Mahsa Amini who fainted at a police station in mid-September and days later was pronounced dead at a hospital. The demonstrations soon turned violent.
Source: Fars News Agency

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Iran arrests ‘agent’ of London-based opposition TV channel: Report

10 November, 2022

Iranian forces have arrested an “agent” of an opposition television broadcaster, Iran International, while the individual was fleeing the Middle Eastern country, its semi-official Fars news agency said.

The action comes amid the biggest challenge to Iran’s clerical rulers since the 1979 Iranian Revolution, sparked by nationwide protests after the September 16 death of Mahsa Amini in the custody of morality police for not wearing “appropriate attire.”

On Tuesday, Iran’s intelligence minister, Esmail Khatib, called the London-based channel a “terrorist” organization.

“Recently, the agent carried out numerous activities and actions in slandering the Islamic Republic, inviting youth to riot and creating terror among the people,” the agency added, describing the arrested person.

Source: Al Arabiya

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Palestinian teen killed in West Bank clash with Israel

09 November, 2022

A Palestinian teenager was killed Wednesday in clashes with Israeli troops that erupted during a visit by right-wing politicians to a sensitive religious site in the occupied West Bank, multiple sources said.

The Palestinian health ministry said: “Mahdi Mohammad Hashash died of serious wounds caused by shrapnel that hit different parts of his body during the occupation’s incursion into Nablus,” the largest city in the northern West Bank.

The ministry said he was 15. It was not immediately clear if he was killed by an explosive he was carrying, or by Israeli fire.

The Al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades, the armed wing of Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas’s Fatah movement, issued a statement claiming the minor as one of its members.

The Israeli military said troops were in the area to secure “the entrance of worshippers to Joseph’s Tomb,” believed to be the last resting place of the biblical patriarch Joseph and a flashpoint for West Bank violence.

A Jewish settler organization told AFP that eight Israeli politicians -- current lawmakers and others elected on November 1 who have yet to be sworn in -- were visiting Joseph’s Tomb.

The group included members of veteran hawk Benjamin Netanyahu’s right-wing Likud party and allies from the extreme right Religious Zionism bloc.

A surge in support for the far right in last week’s general election sealed victory for Netanyahu over centrist incumbent Yair Lapid, setting him up to form what may be the most right-wing government in Israel’s history.

The Israeli army said “shots were heard” at the site and troops “shot towards a terrorist who placed a bomb in the area.”

“A hit was identified,” it added, without directly commenting on Hashash’s death.

The army declined to confirm that the troops were guarding lawmakers, identifying the group only as “worshippers.”

The Palestinian office of religious sites considers Joseph’s Tomb to be an Islamic archaeological monument.

The Israeli army organizes monthly escorted pilgrimages to the site but prohibits civilians entering on their own.

Source: Al Arabiya

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Yemeni forces down Houthi drones attempting to target Shabwa and Marib

09 November, 2022

Yemeni forces on Wednesday downed a Houthi drone that attempted to target the port of Qena in Shabwa, according to local media.

The drone launched by the Iran-backed Houthi militia attempted to target an oil tanker while unloading its cargo at the port located in the district of Rudhoum in the Shabwa governorate, the local website Newsyemen reported.

The report also said that the tanker was carrying thousands of tons of diesel, adding that it successfully unloaded them after the drone was downed.

Separately on Wednesday, Yemeni forces also downed a Houthi drone in the Marib governorate, the Yemen News Agency (SABA) reported.

The armed drone was launched toward a camp for the internally-displaced and was shot down before reaching its target.

The incident came after four internally-displaced people, including two children, were killed on Monday evening after the Houthis reportedly targeted a camp in the city of Marib with ballistic missiles and drones.

According to a report by a governmental committee tasked with managing the camps of the IDPs, 23 others were injured in the attack.

The Houthis have recently launched similar attacks in Yemen after a UN-brokered truce expired in early October.

One of the major escalations was an attack on al-Dhabba oil terminal in the governorate of Hadramawt on October 21.

The Houthis claimed that they carried out the attack on al-Dhabba as a “warning” to prevent a vessel from smuggling crude oil from the port.

The attack on al-Dhabba was widely condemned with UN Special Envoy for Yemen Hans Grundberg describing it as a “deeply worrying military escalation.”
Source: Al Arabiya

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Iran designates UK-based TV channel as ‘terrorist group’

Syed Zafar Mehdi 



Iran has designated UK-based Persian-language news network Iran International as a "terrorist organization" and warned Britain that it will "pay for its anti-Iran actions."

In an interview aired Tuesday night, Intelligence Minister Esmail Khatib decried the UK, the US, Israel and Saudi Arabia for their alleged involvement in protests inside Iran fueled by the death of a 22-year-old Iranian woman in police custody in September.

He said Iran International has been designated as a "terrorist organization" by Iran's security apparatus and those associated with it are "wanted" by the country's intelligence ministry.

The minister warned that "any kind of communication" with the UK-based news network will be deemed as "engagement in terrorist activities and a threat to national security".

The remarks came on the heels of reports in UK-based Persian-language media about possible risks to the lives of two journalists working for Iran International.

Khatib said Iran "will not commit itself to counter insecurities" in the UK, but added that London "will pay for its actions to destabilize Iran".

Last month, Iranian officials called for the designation of UK-based Persian-language news outlets, including Iran International and BBC Persian, as "terrorist organizations".

Iran's Deputy Judiciary Chief, Kazem Gharibabadi, said Tehran will take legal measures against these channels for "directing and inciting riots in Iran through promotion of terrorist acts and encouraging people to destroy public and private property".

His remarks came a week after the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) chief, General Hossein Salami, warned Saudi Arabia over Iran International's coverage of protests in Iran, accusing Riyadh of bankrolling it.

He accused the Saudi leadership of "provoking the Iranian youth", and threatening "consequences" if the anti-Iran slant of the news channel was not restrained.

Many top political and military officials have in the past few months spoken against Iran International and BBC Persian, criticizing their critical coverage of protests that have rocked the country since mid-September.

The British ambassador in Tehran was summoned by the foreign ministry at least three times to protest Britain's hosting of these Persian-language news channels.

In the first summon on September 25, Iran protested what it called the role of UK-based Persian-language media in "instigating riots" and "creating a hostile environment" in Iran in the wake of the death of Mahsa Amini.

Amini died after being detained by Iran's morality police allegedly for wearing "inappropriate dress". Her death led to widespread countrywide protests, with many Western governments imposing fresh sanctions on Iranian officials and entities.

In his remarks on Tuesday night, Iran's intelligence minister blamed Israel, the UK and Saudi Arabia for being active in "implementation, propaganda and financing" of Iran protests respectively.

Referring to a recent mass rally in Berlin in support of protests in Iran, Khatib said it was financially supported by Saudi Arabia.

About 80,000 Iranian expats and their supporters marched in the German capital on October 22, which many believed was the biggest rally held by the Iranian diaspora.

Source: Anadolu Agency

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Arab World

Syrian government aligned forces, Islamic State battle in south

Khaled al-Khateb

November 10, 2022

AL-BAB, Syria — Battles resumed Nov. 4 between local factions supported by the Syrian government and Islamic State cells in the city of Daraa in southern Syria with the end of the truce that began Nov. 2 to allow civilians to evacuate the affected areas.

Armed clashes have broken out in several neighborhoods of Daraa since Oct. 31 between local groups of former fighters from the Free Syrian Army supported by the Eighth Brigade, which is backed by the government and Russia, and armed groups accused of belonging to IS. The fighting has caused casualties on both sides as well as deaths and injuries among civilians and journalists.

Daraa journalist Omran al-Hourani told Al-Monitor, “After a two-day truce, the battles resumed in Daraa. Most of the residents of Tariq al-Sad and surrounding neighborhoods were displaced, schools were closed and roads were completely cut off due to the clashes that killed several civilians. The humanitarian situation is very bad and people fear the battles will continue and spill over to other neighborhoods.”

Hourani added, “The groups accused of belonging to IS are holed up inside the neighborhoods of Daraa and led by Mohammed al-Masalma. Most of the fighters of these groups are former FSA members who refused to reconcile with the Syrian government. Other local groups led by Khaled Abazid are supported by the Eighth Brigade, backed by the regime and Russia, and also include former FSA fighters.”

He continued, “The attacks increased significantly after the truce ended. The Eighth Brigade intensified its operations against the IS affiliates and managed to kill many and drive them out of the neighborhood to take over their positions.”

Hourani pointed out, “Daraa dignitaries took advantage of the truce to try to stop military operations inside residential neighborhoods, but they failed as the Eighth Brigade carried on with its operations to eliminate every IS cell.”

The local news organization Daraa24 reported Nov. 4 on a meeting held between dignitaries and faction leaders in the Omari Mosque in Daraa. But the effort to reach a solution and end the clashes ended without an agreement.

An Eighth Brigade commander told Al-Monitor on condition of anonymity, “The military operations we are carrying out in Daraa alongside local groups are part of the security campaign to cleanse the city of IS cells that are behind most terrorist bombings and assassinations.”

Source: Al Monitor

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UAE: Muslim employers ensure Christian domestic workers attend weekend church prayers

10 Nov 2022

An Ethiopian priest recalls that his first surprising experience after joining a Dubai church, a decade ago, was receiving phone calls from Muslim families employing Ethiopian female domestic workers.

"A woman on the other line would ask the prayer time and location of the church, saying she wants to drop her domestic worker at church for prayers. Being a Muslim she is not familiar with it and asks: 'can you please tell me when I can I take her back after prayers?' " reminisces Father Dereje Jimma, Administrator of St Michael and St Arsema Church in Dubai.

Most of those women employers are Emiratis, or other Arab nationals such as Egyptians, Lebanese, Syrians and Jordanians etc. and his church still receives such calls, reveals the priest, who is also the General Manager of the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahido Church in the Middle East.

Weekly off, church prayers are a blessing for an estimated 200,000 Ethiopians living in the UAE, around 50 per cent of whom are Christians, he says.

"Most of these Christians are single women, mostly domestic workers. A weekly off and an opportunity to attend church prayers are a great blessing for these women who have left their families back home," says Father Jimma.

Of course, he says, it is a known fact that the UAE leadership is keen about progressive legislation for the welfare of all employees in the country, especially domestic workers who are entitled to get weekly off day(s).

Beginning with Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, the UAE's founding father, all leaders have been advocates of religious tolerance as well, the priest points out.

"However, the real challenge is how effectively such legislations are implemented and whether such ideals of tolerance and co-existence are ingrained into the grassroots level – into the hearts and minds of the people," he asserts.

The phone calls from Muslim employers have convinced Father Jimma that the UAE has been successful in tackling these challenges.

"If you visit my church during the weekend and see Muslim employers and their Christian domestic workers coming together in their car, you will also be convinced. It is a beautiful scene you can witness at any church in the UAE."

In churches across the emirates, when a Christian domestic worker gets a weekly off, she spends her morning for church prayers and evening for personal and social interactions, which are essential for one's spiritual and personal or social life, the priest says.

"They are blessed to have such a privilege in the UAE."

The Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahido Church does not have its own building in the UAE, but conducts prayers in other churches in all emirates, except in Ajman.


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HRH the Crown Prince and Prime Minister condoles with the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques

09 Nov 2022

Manama, Nov. 9 (BNA): His Royal Highness Prince Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa, the Crown Prince and Prime Minister, today sent a cable of condolences to the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, following the passing of the mother of His Royal Highness Prince Mutaib bin Abdullah bin Abdulaziz Al Saud.


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Papal Muslim engagement makes demands on Asian bishops

By Ben Joseph

November 10, 2022

Christian-Muslim relations are far from cordial in Asia, as Muslims generally see Christianity as a Western religion, which is opposed to its religious and political ideologies.

The Western world’s perception of Muslims across the globe supporting a political global Islamic caliphate, spearheaded by the Islamic State (IS), makes relations even worse.

The imagined caliphate stretches beyond the Middle East to include Andalusia, Turkey, the Balkans, Iran, South Asia, Central Asia, and Xinjiang in China. The absurdity of such a vast land under one central Islamic authority, with Arabs as natural rulers of the Muslim world, is serious for sections of the world's population, increasing tension and violence.

Amid this anarchy of minds, Pope Francis is focused on using religions, their ethos and philosophies to promote peace.

The three-day papal visit to Bahrain concluded on Oct 3, which was his second visit to the Arab world. More than 200 religious leaders from different parts of the world took part in the “Bahrain Forum for Dialogue: East and West for Human Coexistence” along with Pope Francis.

The pope is moving forward with “a certain logic” to open new paths to the “different realities of the Muslim world," said Bishop Paul Hinder, the apostolic vicar for Northern Arabia, which covers Bahrain along with South Arabia, Qatar and Kuwait.

"Like your patron Saint Francis of Assisi,” the Capuchin Swiss prelate said, “you are not afraid to build bridges with the Muslim world and to show your fraternal closeness to all people of goodwill.”

Following the Bahrain Dialogue, Pope Francis met with the Muslim Council of Elders, founded in 2014 in the UAE to promote peace and address sources of conflict within Muslim communities.

He also had a private meeting with the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar in Egypt, Ahmed Al-Tayeb. Both of them inked the Document on Human Fraternity in Abu Dhabi in 2019. Since then, the document has been the main guiding principle for inter-religious talks.

In September, Pope Francis took the message of peace to Muslim-majority Central Asia with a three-day trip to Kazakhstan to take part in the 7th Congress of Leaders of World and Traditional Religions in the capital Nur-Sultan.

The pope said the visit to Kazakhstan was "an opportunity to [have a] dialogue as brothers, animated by the common desire for peace, peace that our world is thirsty for."

He was expected to visit Indonesia, the world’s largest Muslim nation, late in 2020, but this was canceled because of the pandemic.

Pope Francis has an impressive track record of engagement with the Muslim world. When he completed six years as Bishop of Rome in 2019, the 85-year-old pope had already visited seven Muslim nations.

The papal interest in building bridges with Muslims is hardly reflected in the Church in Asia, which houses more than half of the world's Muslims.

Nations such as India, Pakistan, Indonesia and Bangladesh alone account for 40 percent (800 million) of the world’s two billion Muslims. If papal efforts have to bear the fruits of peace and cooperation between Christians and Muslims, the Church in Asia needs to pay much more attention to its actions.

The Federation of Asian Bishops’ Conferences has been holding "dialogue with religions” vital to its mission in Asia. Along with it, dialogue with the poor and dialogue with cultures was presented as indispensable for valid Christian existence in Asia.

However, decades after these declarations, we do not see any worthwhile engagement with Muslims in Asia, particularly in South Asia, where Muslims dominate in a few countries.

Dialogue with Islam looks neglected as churches in Asia focus on dialogue with Hinduism and Buddhism in their efforts to engage with Asian religions. It is time the Asian Church considered Islam an Asian religion and engaged with it in creative ways to help improve the lives of millions. Peace comes with progress.

The triple dialogue — with religions, cultures and the poor — will become a simultaneous action when Christians start collaborative actions with Muslims, Hindus and Buddhists to lift the poor out of their miseries. Millions in Asia are poor, despite the fact that they follow a religion, and its culture. Engaging with the poor is, in fact, engaging with cultures and religions.

One of the seeming difficulties in engaging Muslims is its link with politics. The Church, particularly the hierarchy in Asia, fears engaging with Islam will invariably link it to political Islam, which they want to avoid.

Pope Francis becomes a beacon here to swim through the sea of political complexities to reach the shore of friendship and collaboration.

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US to give Lebanon $80.5 million in aid amid economic crisis

09 November, 2022

The United States announced Wednesday that it will give $80.5 million in aid for food assistance and solar-powered water pumping stations in the crisis-battered country of Lebanon.

The announcement was made by USAID chief Samantha Power during a visit to Lebanon ahead of a trip to Egypt for the COP27 U.N. climate conference.

During the visit, Power is set to meet with Lebanese political leaders to push for a resolution to the country’s political vacuum and for leaders to carry out a slate of political and economic reforms required by the International Monetary Fund to clinch a $3 billion aid package.

The visit comes as Lebanon is in the grip of its worst economic and financial crisis in its modern history. On Oct. 31, the six-year term of President Michel Aoun ended with no replacement elected.

Power declined to say, however, whether any US assistance would be contingent on Lebanon taking these measures.

“We are not focused on what happens if those reforms don’t happen. The reforms have to happen,” she told The Associated Press.

The prospect of an IMF deal “should be enough to end the infighting and bickering and do what is needed for the sake of the country,” Power said.

USAID has provided about $260 million to Lebanon in 2022 to date. On Wednesday, Power announced an additional $72 million for food assistance to some 650,000 people over five months as part of a $2 billion global food security initiative.

Lebanon, which relies heavily on imported food and has historically imported the majority of its wheat from Ukraine and Russia, has faced increased food security anxieties in the wake of the Russian war in Ukraine.

Power also announced $8.5 million to fund 22 new solar-powered pumping stations. Lebanon has been dealing with a crippling electricity crisis that has also led to water shortages due to lack of power at pumping stations.

Source: Al Arabiya

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Amid high tensions, Iran warns Saudi Arabia its ‘strategy of patience’ may not last

09 November, 2022

Iran’s intelligence minister told Saudi Arabia that there is no guarantee of Tehran continuing what he described as its “strategy of patience,” state news agency IRNA reported on Wednesday.

“In the case of Saudi Arabia, I say that our fate and that of other countries in the region are tied together due to our neighbourhood. From Iran's point of view, any instability in the countries of the region is contagious, and any instability in Iran can be contagious to the countries of the region,” IRNA quoted minister Esmail Khatib as saying.

Iran is currently experiencing a massive country-wide wave of protests sparked by the death of young Mahsa Amini in the custody of the morality police. The Iranian regime has accused foreign countries of inciting unrest in the country and encouraging the demonstrators who the regime labels as “rioters.”

The Iranian minister added: “Iran has so far adopted strategic patience with firm rationality, but it does not give any guarantee for the continuation of this strategic patience in case of the continuation of hostilities. Undoubtedly, if the will of the Islamic Republic of Iran is given to reciprocate and punish these countries, the glass palaces will collapse and these countries will not see stability.”

This is the second time an Iranian official has used the phrase “glass palaces” in reference to Saudi leadership. Weeks ago, Iran had issued a veiled threat and a warning to Saudi Arabia, when top commander of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards, Hossein Salami said that Saudi leaders should not rely on Israel, adding that Saudi leaders lived in “glass palaces”.

The intelligence minister’s warning comes amid a heightened state of tensions, following a WSJ report that said Saudi Arabia shared intelligence with the US warning of an “imminent attack” from Iran on targets in the Kingdom.

The report added that Saudi Arabia, the US and other neighboring countries in the region have raised the level of alert for their military forces.

Washington expressed concern about the Iranian threat against Saudi Arabia and said it would not hesitate to respond if necessary.

“We are concerned about the threat picture, and we remain in constant contact through military and intelligence channels with the Saudis,” said the spokesperson from the National Security Council.

Source: Al Arabiya

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Mother, eight Syrian children killed in Turkey fire

09 November, 2022

A fire in northwestern Turkey killed a mother, her six children and two nephews despite efforts by the father to save the family, officials and media said on Wednesday.

The blaze erupted shortly before midnight late Tuesday in an apartment in the city of Bursa, where a Syrian refugee family in Turkey since 2017 had moved into a month a half prior, officials said.

The mother, her six children aged one to 10, and two nephews aged 11 and 12, were inside the flat when the fire began, according to local media.

The father, who came home late after attending a funeral in Istanbul, tried to save those inside, but was overcome by the smoke, according to the Anadolu news agency.

“There are nine bodies inside. Eight of them are children,” Bursa regional governor, Yakup Canbolat, was quoted by Anadolu.

The city mayor, Alinur Aktas, said in a tweet that the fire was probably caused by a wood-burning stove inside the apartment.

Source: Al Arabiya

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Holocaust survivor shares her story with Emirati and Jewish children in Dubai

10 November, 2022

A Holocaust survivor shared her life story with schoolchildren in Dubai on Wednesday, in a public exchange symbolizing deepening ties between Jews and Arabs in the Gulf.

Eve Kugler recounted the memory of how her family was terrorized in Nazi Germany – addressing Emirati and Jewish schoolchildren on the 84th anniversary of the Kristallnacht pogrom.

“It’s historic, and it is an amazing honor,” Kugler told Al Arabia English. “I don’t know how this could have happened, but it is historic and it is hugely, hugely important, hopefully, as a first step to more personal contact between the Arab nations and Jewish people.”

More personal contact between different groups of people should promote understanding and lessen the chance of prejudice and violence, she added.

Kugler later visited the emirate’s Crossroads of Civilizations Museum where she inaugurated a new chapter of the March of the Living foundation – a global Holocaust remembrance group.

The 91-year-old described to schoolchildren how her family heard a knock on their door on the evening of November 9, 1938 in the city of Halle in Germany.

A group of Nazis burst into the family home, along with the local police chief, and started smashing dishes and turning over furniture.

They tore apart the family’s Torah holy book and stamped on her father’s prayer shawl. “Everything that was sacred, they desecrated,” she said.

The next morning, she woke up to find that the windows of her father’s shop had been smashed.

Nazis forced the family to clean up the broken glass, calling her mother a “filthy Jewish woman.”

The family fled to France, and were separated when Eve and her sister were sent to the US when she was just ten years old.

Her parents ended up being interned in a series of Nazi concentration camps, but survived the ordeal – a “total, absolute miracle” according to Kugler.

A burgeoning community

Dubai is home to a burgeoning Jewish community that has blossomed in size and visibility since the signing of the Abraham Accords in 2020 – normalizing relations between the United Arab Emirates and Israel.

Stewarding the community in the Gulf nation since 2014 has been the country’s first licensed Rabbi, Levi Duchman.

“The UAE is home to over 200 nationalities, and if us in the Jewish community could take a key role in sharing with the wider community this message of understanding, this message of peace, this message of getting along with each other, it’s important,” he told Al Arabiya English.

“And when children understand it, they then teach it to their children, and they pass it on.”

Also speaking at the event was Eitan Neishlos, March of the Living’s Ambassador in the Gulf.

Neishlos himself is descended from Holocaust survivors, and spoke about how the UAE is quickly becoming a safe haven for Jews in the Middle East.

“I’m standing here looking at palms and I feel like I'm under the shaded palm of the Abraham Accords, which is a gift.”

“For the first time. I feel that in an authentic way, we can start to learn about each other’s pasts, and when we look at each other’s pasts, we can look at the happy moments, but we can also look at the sad moments.”

Source: Al Arabiya

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Parliamentary elections in Bahrain aimed at destroying democracy, prominent Shia cleric says

10 November 2022

Bahrain’s most prominent Shia cleric has called for a boycott of the country’s forthcoming parliamentary elections, saying the sham vote is meant to "slaughter democracy" in the Persian Gulf kingdom, as the ruling Al Khalifah regime is insistently exercising its heavy-handed crackdown on dissent.

Grand Ayatollah Sheikh Isa Qassim in a post published on his Twitter page reiterated his call on people from all strata of the Bahraini society to boycott the elections, stating that voter participation would not result in the consolidation of democracy in Bahrain as communities are largely excluded from the political process.

“How would it be possible to strengthen democracy [in Bahrain], whilst elections have originally been designed to destroy it? This is an election whose doors are closed to those who seek democracy,” he underlined.

The distinguished Shia cleric highlighted that “The right decision is to boycott participation in the upcoming elections. In that case, democracy would not completely disappear and dictatorship would not become more institutionalized.”

Earlier, Sheikh Qassim had stated that the Manama regime wants to maintain its grip on power and strengthen tyranny in Bahrain by means of the ballots cast in the elections.

“Elections in Bahrain are only meant to reinforce tyranny, and people play into the hands of the ruling regime and are treated as playthings,” the prominent Shia cleric tweeted on November 2.

“Does common sense dictate participation in such elections?” he questioned.

Bahrain’s main opposition group, the al-Wefaq National Islamic Society, has already called for a boycott of the upcoming parliamentary elections in the country, amid an escalation of political repression and absence of meaningful reforms.

In a statement released on September 14, al-Wefaq described the boycott of November 12 polls as a national duty, emphasizing that the ruling Manama regime maintains absolute control over the electoral process and seeks to install a weak legislature, whose main task would be to burnish the image of the corrupt Al Khalifah dynasty and cover up its human rights abuses.

It added that the constitutional and political rift between the Bahraini regime and the nation is deepening day by day, the main reason for which, it said, is the lack of any social agreement between the two sides.

Source: Press TV

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Move Over, Ilhan Omar; Minnesota Republicans Pander to Somali Islamists

by Benjamin Baird

November 8, 2022

Minnesota is experiencing a reshuffling of political loyalties as the state GOP forges alliances with a once-reliable Democratic constituency. Following years of indifference, Minnesota Republicans are courting the state's Somali Muslim community in a bid to drum up support for conservatives running in decisive state and federal races.

However, the state GOP's outreach has placed Republican candidates in contact with some of Minnesota's most radical Islamist leaders and institutions, skirting a fine line that often results in legitimizing extremism.

The first signs that Minnesota Democrats may be losing ground with the Somali Muslim community occurred in July, when a hometown crowd attending a "Somali Week" concert booed progressive Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) off the stage at the Minneapolis Target Center. A few weeks later, Omar barely survived a revolt in Minnesota's reliably progressive 5th District, where she won by a razor-thin margin over a centrist candidate running on a shoestring budget.

Since then, Republicans have doubled down on their outreach efforts. On September 24, the Minnesota GOP held a Somali Republican Dinner at the Doubletree hotel in Minneapolis. Attendees, who heard speeches from party notables such as state auditor candidate Ryan Wilson and Minnesota GOP Chairman David Hahn, celebrated months of unprecedented collaboration between Somali Muslims and the Republican Party.

The high point of this relationship occurred at a July gathering dubbed "SuperEid," a mass prayer of over 40,000 Somali Muslims at U.S. Bank Stadium celebrating Eid Al-Adha, or the end of Ramadan. The GOP rolled out its political heavyweights in a show of support, mingling with community leaders and expressing common goals and shared values with Somali Muslims.

"Many in our community feel left behind and let down by rising crime, a struggling economy and other problems facing our Somali families and businesses," said Imam Tawakal Ismail, a favorite liaison between the GOP and Minnesota Somalis. "We've had great discussions with Republicans reaching out to offer alternatives focused on shared values, and I look forward to continuing to build these relationships," he added.

Ismail has remained at the forefront of Somali-Republican collaboration. The imam was there when the GOP opened a Somali Republican Outreach Center in South Minneapolis, he participated in a August luncheon with state Republicans, and he was showered with praise at the Somali Republican dinner in September.

However, the GOP's inside man from the Somali Muslim community was also a product of one of the most radical Islamic seminaries in America. Ismail is a graduate of the Islamic University of Minnesota, an uncertified religious school that the Investigative Project on Terrorism refers to as a "hotbed of extremism."

Although the school is not sanctioned by certifying officials in the U.S., IUM is recognized by the Holy Quran University, which the military-Islamist regime of former Sudanese president and war criminal Omar Al-Bashir established in 1990 to propagate Islam. IUM instructors have cursed Jews, refused to denounce ISIS, and glorified Hamas leaders.

Despite acting as the primary interlocutor between Somalis and their conservative partners, Ismail does not appear to publicly speak in English, and save for a few carefully curated statements, writes mostly in his native Somali. Nevertheless, translations of the imam's social media suggest that he shares his alma mater's disdain for Israeli Jews, including a Facebook post where he promoted a prayer for "the Islamic people who are being massacred in Gaza" at the hands of "the Jews of Israel."

SuperEid, where Ismail was one of a handful of prayer leaders, was funded by notoriously extreme "charitable organizations," such as Islamic Relief USA (IRUSA) and Helping Hand for Relief and Development (HHRD). During the final days of the Trump administration, the U.S. State Department announced that it was "conducting a full review" of IRUSA and its global branches, ending "U.S. government funding" of the nonprofit due to the "anti-Semitism exhibited repeatedly by [Islamic Relief Worldwide's] leadership,"

HHRD is the international humanitarian wing of the Islamic Circle of North America, a front for a historically violent and genocidal Islamist movement active in South Asia. In 2017, HHRD organized a conference in Pakistan co-sponsored by Lashkar-e-Taiba, the Pakistani terrorist group responsible for killing 166 people in the 2008 Mumbai attacks.

A third sponsor, the Muslim Coalition of ISAIAH, is a statewide alliance of over 20 mosques involved in a strategic political alliance with hundreds of progressive African American churches. This includes mosques such as the Dar Al-Farooq Islamic Center in Bloomington, a pipeline for international terrorism recruitment where no fewer than six congregants have sought to join ISIS or Al Shabaab, the Al Qaeda affiliate in Somalia.

The lead imam at Dar Al-Farooq, who was among a handful of local Somali leaders to lead prayers at SuperEid, is Waleed al-Maneese. A Muslim jurist, Al Maneese has cited Islamic scripture accusing Jews of spreading "corruption in the land" and has instructed Muslims to place Sharia law above "man-made" laws. He claims his mosque joined the ISAIAH alliance because, unlike most Christian organizations, it "doesn't approve of demands from pro-Israel Jews."

Inevitably, Al Maneese was spotted interacting with GOP leaders who attended the mass prayer, including Republican gubernatorial candidate Scott Jensen. Appearing in a photo together, the pair cut an unlikely duo: on the right, the top Republican leader in the state of Minnesota; on the left, a Salafist preacher dedicated to pursuing far left causes, so long as they don't involve standing up for gay rights or Israel.

Republicans who attended SuperEid May have also encountered another prayer leader, Imam Asad Zaman, the head of the Muslim American Society (MAS) in Minnesota. Federal prosecutors have called MAS "the overt arm of the Muslim Brotherhood in America." On social media, the imam has endorsed Holocaust denialism and the idea that U.S. presidents "depend upon the votes and the influence of Jews in New York who support Israel."

Besides Jensen, SuperEid guests included Republican candidates for the top offices in Minnesota, including attorney general, secretary of State, and state auditor.

In a gesture intended to cement the relationship between Somali Americans and the Minnesota GOP, party chairman David Hann offered a $5,000 donation to support Somali famine relief. "The donation will be made to a charitable organization that has a record of direct support to the people in need," wrote Randy Sutter, executive committee member for Senate District 50.

SuperEid sponsors HHRD and IRUSA have historically been involved with drought relief efforts in Somalia, raising serious questions about the ultimate beneficiary of the GOP's charity. However, party officials have shrouded this recipient's identity in secrecy. If a donation was made, it was not reported to the campaign finance board, and Republican leaders have not responded to repeated requests inquiring about Hann's contribution.

Since establishing a Somali Republican Outreach Center in August, conservative candidates from throughout Minnesota have visited the office to pay their respects to Ismail and his team of activists. Their strategy mirrors a larger trend experienced in Muslim American enclaves across America, where conservatives are capitalizing on a growing disillusionment with progressive politics among mainstream Muslims.

In October, Republicans running in statewide races converged on the city of Dearborn, Michigan, joining Muslim citizens demanding the removal of sexually explicit "LGBTQ" books found in school libraries. In August, two Republican congressional candidates agreed to attend a candidate forum at the Mosque Foundation in Bridgeview, Illinois, despite the religious center's role in multiple terrorism investigations.

Traditionally, the Minnesota GOP may have considered such outreach a fool's errand. Democrats have long pandered to the Somali immigrant community by supporting social welfare benefits and unrestricted immigration, while some Republicans have viewed their Somali neighbors with suspicion, especially as dozens of Muslim youth left their families behind to wage jihad with Al-Shabaab or ISIS.

"Yes, there are some radical elements within the Somali diaspora, but we must not brand the entire community as unworthy of our affiliation," Sutter wrote to explain his party's outreach with the Somali community. "We have been labeled by the [Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party] as prejudiced; we must demonstrate clearly that we are not," he added.

Yet, by acknowledging such baseless accusations, GOP leaders risk legitimizing them. If Republicans are to make inroads with Somalis and other minorities, they should be thoughtful and strategic about the partnerships they pursue, and stay away from the radical mosques and extremist groups that have typified Democratic alliances.

It remains to be seen if this new partnership will survive the midterm elections. So far, pundits inside Minnesota are quiet about the rapidly changing political conditions, and Republicans appear to have escaped criticism for engaging with extremists.

Source: MEForum

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Islamic group makes demand from FG as court convicts EFCC boss, Bawa

November 9, 2022

By Don Silas

Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) on Wednesday reacted to the conviction of Abdulrasheed Bawa, the Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), to Kuje correctional facilities for contempt of court, pending the setting aside of the order.

MURIC, however, called on the Federal Government of Nigeria to probe the situations surrounding the ‘ugly’ development.

The Islamic group’s call for an investigation was contained in a statement by its director, Professor Ishaq Akintola.

The statement partly read: “The Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), AbdulRasheed Bawa, was yesterday sent to Kuje prison for contempt of court.

“We are surprised by this judgement. We are, therefore, inclined to take the ruling with a pinch of salt.

“Without prejudice to the wisdom and authority of the learned judge, we posit that the circumstances surrounding the ugly development should be investigated by the Minister of Justice.

“The Honourable Minister of Justice [Alhaji Abubakar Malami] should investigate this with minimum delay. There must be checks and balances on all sides.”

Justice Chizoba Oji of a High Court in Maitama, Abuja, ruled that Bawa failed to obey an order of November 21, 2018.

Source:DailyPost Nigeria

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Somalia retakes key town controlled by al-Shabaab for over 15 years

Mohammed Dhaysane



Somalia’s military has captured a strategic town in the central Galgaduud region that was controlled by the al-Shabaab terrorist group for more than 15 years.

The town of Wabho was retaken as part of an ongoing new offensive against the terrorist group, Defense Ministry spokesperson Gen. Abdullahi Ali Aanod said at a news conference on Wednesday.

The Somali army, with the support of local militias, captured some 250 square kilometers (96 square miles) of territory in Galgaduud, including the villages of Warhole, Elbore, and Elgorof, he added.

Ahmed Abdikarim, a security analyst in the capital Mogadishu, said Wabho’s economic importance makes its loss a “huge blow” for al-Shabaab.

“Wabho is a strategic area that has a lot of villages and a significant population. This is a huge below for al-Shabab, particularly financially,” he told Anadolu Agency.

Somalia has been plagued by insecurity for years, with al-Shabaab being one of the main threats in the Horn of Africa country.

Since at least 2007, al-Shabaab has waged a deadly campaign against the Somali government and international forces that has claimed thousands of lives.

The UN has also warned of growing instability in the country, with its periodic reports on Somalia this year detailing attacks by al-Shabaab and pro-Daesh/ISIS groups.

Source: Anadolu Agency

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Southeast Asia


Lorry attendant fined RM12,000 for insulting Islam on Facebook

09-11- 2022

KUALA LUMPUR: A lorry attendant was fined RM12,000 or six months’ jail in default by the Sessions Court here today for the charge of insulting Islam on Facebook two years ago.

Judge Nor Hasniah Ab Razak handed down the sentence after Tham Wai Yuen, 49, as the person being summoned (OKS), changed his plea to guilty when the case was mentioned today.

The man was accused of knowingly making and sending offensive comments on Islam at 2.30 pm on April 4, 2020, using his Facebook account ‘Tham Thamsarak’, with the intention of hurting the feelings of others.

The postings were read at the federal police Cyber and Multimedia Crime Investigation Division, Commercial Crime Investigation Department at Menara KPJ, here, at 5 pm on April 20, 2020.

Tham was charged under Section 233(1)(a) of the Communications and Multimedia Act 1998 which provides for a fine not exceeding RM50,000 or imprisonment for up to one year or both.

Deputy public prosecutor Nurilya Ellyna Norazman asked for appropriate punishment as a lesson to the OKS and the public, taking into account the offensive comments made by the man.

Source: TheSunDaily

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Not taking bait to cross over my best decision, says Salahuddin

K. Parkaran

November 9, 2022

PULAI: Pulai candidate Salahuddin Ayub says he can look voters in the eye today because he refused a lucrative offer from Muhyiddin Yassin during the Sheraton Move that caused the Pakatan Harapan (PH) government to fall.

He said the Bersatu president, who went on to form the Perikatan Nasional government in 2020, together with some of his other friends lured him with a ministerial post but he flatly refused it.

“If I had jumped then, could I stand here so confidently and face the voters? In the Johor state elections in March, I won the Simpang Jeram seat with a majority of 2,399 votes despite the strong performance of my challengers from Barisan Nasional and Perikatan Nasional.

“My former PH colleague Steven Choong, who left PKR and stood under Parti Bangsa Malaysia in Puteri Wangsa, lost his deposit. It shows people do not like representatives who break their promises,” he told FMT.

Salahuddin, a former minister in the PH Cabinet, said he won the state seat despite a low turnout of 53%, and believes he will sail through in Pulai if the turnout reaches about 71%.

In the 2018 general election, Salahuddin won Pulai with a thumping majority of 28,924 votes, defeating Nur Jazlan Mohamed (BN-Umno), Mazri Yahya (PAS) and Yap Keng Tak (independent).

Pulai is a mixed seat with Malay voters making up 45%, Chinese 40%, Indians 12% and others 3%.

The Amanah deputy president said although he would not consider himself the underdog, he also would not project himself as the favourite since his main rival Nur Jazlan was a strong and credible candidate.

He said the racial mix of the constituency was similar to that in the Simpang Jeram state seat and hence he was confident he could make it here but with a much-reduced majority. “Even a win by one vote is still a win.”

Battle between good friends who are both half-Chinese

Salahuddin described Nur Jazlan as a very nice person and a good friend and that they have been campaigning decently without hitting each other below the belt. He said his rival’s family record, where Nur Jazlan’s late father was a seven-term MP in Pulai, also made the BN candidate a strong contender.

“It’s interesting because we are not only good friends but both our mothers are Chinese. The seat is also a fairly mixed seat. I cannot be complacent or overconfident as Nur Jazlan is a tough nut to crack.”

Most importantly, Salahuddin said, the election was not between him and Nur Jazlan but one which would determine the future of the next few generations as the nation shifted into a different gear.

“We are just two simple human beings battling for our parties. For PH, a vote for Pulai and other seats can help the coalition win this election and make Anwar Ibrahim the next prime minister.

“So, it’s important for parents to tell their children that this election is crucial for the future generations. During the Johor state elections, the turnout of the new voters was far from satisfactory. I hope it will improve this time,” he added.

A moderate Muslim party

Salahuddin said Amanah would continue being a moderate Muslim party as this was good for the future of the nation, and that was the reason why he and some others left PAS because its president Abdul Hadi Awang was taking it in the wrong direction.

“That was the turning point. We also saw Hadi becoming too friendly with Umno and we did not agree,” he said.

Asked how he and Amanah were handling Umno and PAS demonising key PH ally DAP in the campaign for the Chinese votes, he said they were not focusing on this as they had bigger issues to attend to although they were still haunted by the propaganda.

Source:Free Malaysia Today

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Hajiji confident of record RM6bil revenue for Sabah this year

November 10, 2022

PETALING JAYA: Sabah is expected to finish the year with a record RM6 billion in revenue, says chief minister Hajiji Noor.

Pointing out that last year’s RM5.4 billion in revenue was itself a record, he said the Gabungan Rakyat Sabah (GRS) ruling coalition, which he formed in 2020, had outperformed the previous Warisan and Barisan Nasional state governments.

“Prior to this, the highest revenue ever recorded was RM4.5 billion under the leadership of chief minister Musa Aman in 2014,” he was quoted as saying by the Daily Express.

“With the record income, I pledge to manage the funds properly for the development and benefit of the people of Sabah,” he added during a dinner with the Chinese community in Tuaran.

Hajiji said the state’s higher revenue was also an indication of the effectiveness of Sabah’s five-year Sabah Maju Jaya roadmap, a strategic development plan which he launched in March 2021.

Stating that Sabah had managed to attract numerous foreign investors, he added that the factories and plants they established would lead to more jobs for Sabahans.

The Daily Express report also said Hajiji had instructed the finance ministry to allocate RM54 million to Chinese schools, missionary schools and non-Muslim organisations in Sabah next year.

Source:Free Malaysia Today

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Anwar: Hadi paid a lot as special envoy, but couldn’t even be bothered to attend Parliament

By John Bunyan

09 Nov 2022

IPOH, Nov 9 — Pakatan Harapan (PH) chairman Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim has taken a swipe at PAS president Tan Sri Abdul Hadi Awang on his previous appointment as special envoy to the Middle East in the government, which he described as a cushy job.

Anwar, who is also the PKR president, said that the Islamist party leader has no principles despite preaching about Islam and claiming to fight for Malay rights.

“They talk about ‘Hidup Melayu’ (long live Malays) and Islam, but don’t have any guilty feelings,” he said during his dialogue with the Malaysian Armed Forces (ATM) veterans at Meru here.

“You were a special envoy with a salary of RM60,000 per month, but you didn’t even attend the Parliament meeting and yet you don’t feel guilty,” he added, referring to Abdul Hadi.

Anwar also said that when he brought up the issue he was labelled as anti-ulama or the Muslim clergy class instead.

“I’m not anti-ulama, I’m anti-politicians who disguise themselves with religion.

“I didn’t criticise the entire party, but the one that condemned the entire party previously was Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin,” he said, referring to the Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia president.

Anwar slammed the Perikatan Nasional (PN) chairman for working with PAS despite accusing the Islamic party of unorthodox Islamic teachings.

“Muhyiddin is the one who labelled PAS as ‘parti ajaran sesat’, but he is the one who working with them now,” he said, swapping the party’s initials with a Malay term for a party of religious deviants.


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To Rumah Pangsa Simpang Kuala residents in Alor Setar, party logos more familiar than its seven candidates

By R. Loheswar

10 Nov 2022

ALOR SETAR, Nov 10 — Low Seng Song, a resident of Rumah Pangsa Simpang Kuala in the Kedah state capital for 35 years, has voted at every general election since he came of age. But with the 15th general election coming up next week, the 77-year-old is not certain how he will vote, if at all.

It’s not that he doesn’t care about the future of the country at his age or indifferent to politics, but with seven candidates racing for the Alor Setar parliamentary seat, and most of them new faces, he has found himself overwhelmed.

“I know the Harapan logo, but if you ask me now who I will vote for, I don't know. I'll decide later, but the other logos I am unfamiliar with. Haven't seen them yet,” the former medicine salesman told Malay Mail when met at the ground floor of one of the 20 blocks of low-rise, low-cost flats one afternoon during a break in the rainy season.

Alor Setar will see a seven-cornered fight for the first time in its history with candidates. Three are candidates from the three main coalitions in the peninsula: Tan Chee Siong from the Barisan Nasional (BN), Afnan Hamimi Taib Azamuddin from Perikatan Nasional (PN), and Simon Ooi from Pakatan Harapan (PH).

Two more candidates are from fledgling parties: Datuk Mohamad Nuhairi Rahmat representing Pejuang, the latest Malay party founded in 2020 by Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad; and Datuk Fadzil Hanafi from Warisan, originally a Sabah-based party that has since spread its wings across the South China Sea.

The remaining two candidates are independents: former Kedah Works Department director Datuk Nordin Yunus, and another former civil servant Sofan Feroza Md Yusup.

But Low’s familiarity with the PH coalition logo does not mean he will definitely vote for the Opposition bloc on November 19.

“In my opinion, however, sometimes Barisan Nasional can do a better job. Mind you, last time everyone who competed here were from MCA and also it wasn't like this year where we're looking at seven candidates. Before this, it was one-against-one, easy to choose,” the bespectacled man said with a smile.

“As for Mahathir Mohamad, I feel people may not make him their first choice but that's what people say. Who knows what they are really thinking. I saw his tent pitched nearby on the street but I don't recognise the logo,” Low added.

Another long-time resident Mohd Nasir, who has been living at this People’s Housing Project for the past 18 years, also said he was more familiar with the political logos than the candidates standing for elections.

The school guard said he recognised the PH and BN logos, but had no idea what the Pejuang and Warisan logos looked like.

“Only after you told me Mahathir's party tent was pitched on the main road did I realise it was there,” Nasir told Malay Mail.

He thought that PH could have done a better job with running the country if it was allowed to serve its full tenure in office after winning the 14th general election.

But he also said he is willing to vote for an independent “as long as they do their work”.

“Now we look at all the familiar parties and their logos like they're the symbol of hope. But I would love to have a good candidate who cares about our welfare more than theirs. After this 15th general election I hope the government can improve our economy and create more job opportunities as right now we're all having a hard time,” he said.

A younger resident who gave his name as Fuad was stitching broken car seats on his tiny porch when approached.

The 37-year-old said he has been working odd jobs to earn a daily wage to survive.

Fuad said the housing project had been neglected and that when residents made complaints, the authorities dawdled.

He recalled a time when he made a complaint and was told by the authorities that repairs would be carried out in return for their votes.

As such he said, he has become jaded. He also said he was confused by the many logos in this election. He wasn't sure what Warisan and Pejuang were, but recognised Dr Mahathir.

“The previous representatives rarely came here only in the early days then again once an election is close. With all these new faces and candidates my head is spinning.

“I want to vote for the right candidate but I'm also trying not to be influenced by the familiarity and popularity of parties like BN and PH. After this election no matter whom I pick I just want someone to look after the youth and please find a way to provide us with more jobs,” Fuad said.

What they want

When asked, most of the Rumah Pangsa Simpang Kuala residents said what they wanted was basic but proper infrastructure.

Pointing to their three-storey flats, they said upkeep was sorely lacking. The walkways were cracked, which posed a hazard for many of the elderly residents when they walked out to dispose of their garbage at the large bins placed on Jalan Simpang Kuala, the main road.

Parking bays were also limited at their flats, and many units had motorcycles parked right outside their doors, which added to the hazard.

The water pressure was also poor, they complained, so much so that some of the top floors of the 20 blocks are now untenanted.

But their biggest worry was their roof. Looking up, there were pieces of roofing that dangled and flapped in the wind. The residents feared that at the next big storm, those pieces would fly and hurt someone below.

A man who only wanted to be known as Adam was vigorously cleaning the walkway in front of his unit but paused for a chat about the upcoming election when approached.

Asked if he was familiar with the political parties and the candidates, he admitted that he wasn’t. But he said that would not stop him from knowing how to choose.

Urged to elaborate, Adam said that though he was a Malay and a Muslim, he would not vote along racial lines, or for BN or anyone affiliated with the “dacing” (weighing scales, which is the BN’s logo) because he was fed up with Umno as he viewed them as corrupt.

His eyes lit up at the mention of Dr Mahathir, though he fumbled with the veteran politician’s party name.

“Oh yeah, what's his [party] called again? Peluang, Pejuang? Either way I feel that during Tun's time corruption wasn't so rife and the government was way better than the ones that came after.

“There wasn't so much corruption unlike now where any discerning and concerned citizen will realise almost every level of government is corrupt and no one wants to do honest work.

“That's why I don't like Umno and it's difficult to say it out loud because the Malays here are very protective and racist, they will only vote the Malay-Muslim candidate and if you say otherwise as a Malay-Muslim they will ostracise you,” said Adam who gave his profession as an accountant.

He said that politics had divided the residents at the flats along partisan lines to the extent that had even stopped talking to each other.

“So when I stop talking or showing support to Umno, the people here ignore me. Well that's OK with me, I want the best for my country.

“It's sad to see people fighting, not being friends with one another because of these unscrupulous individuals who pretend to care for them,” he added.

Like Adam, another resident who wished to be known as Wan was more than willing to talk to Malay Mail about the election and politics.

He declined to give his full name and have his photograph taken as he was in uniform.

As far as Wan was concerned, all the political parties and three coalitions that had governed Malaysia since 2018 were poor at running the country, looking after the welfare of its citizens and were terrible at finding ways to fix the economy.

“These people don't want to help us, they want to fill their pockets first. Everything is PM, PM, PM, PM. They all want to be prime minister. Nobody cares about anything else,” he said.

“That's why I don't have a clue who I'm going to vote for whether PAS, BN or whomever; all the same.

“Even for Tun at his age, it's hard to put that vote for him and trust him. Let someone new get a chance lah, right? I want to see more youngsters in politics and give it a shot, learning, improving, having high-energy and hopefully a mind that is for the people not for the money and power,” he added.

But Wan was full of praise for Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, who is now PH’s prime minister candidate.

He recalled the days when Anwar was in the government in the 1990s, saying the latter had handled the Asian financial crisis well back then.

“But in the 22 months PH was in office and Lim Guan Eng was the finance minister it was chaotic. Tabung Haji dividends he reduced it to 2 per cent from 8 in prior years. PH shouldn't have done that, we needed that money for a lot of things,” Wan said.

In the past two general elections, PKR had won Alor Setar with a comfortable margin.

In Election 2018, Chan Ming Kai bagged 32,475 votes, beating his closest competitor Muhammad Aminur Shafiq from PAS by a 15,200-vote majority.

Source: MalayMail

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South Asia

US official visits Pakistan to discuss situation of Afghan refugees

10 November, 2022

Kabul [Afghanistan], November 10 (ANI): The Charge d’Affaires of the US Mission to Afghanistan, Karen Decker visited Pakistan as part of her “listening tour” to discuss the situation of Afghan refugees, Khaama Press reported on Tuesday.

The US official will be taking a look at the plight of Afghan refugees in Pakistan as well as the organizations and individuals working to support Afghans and Afghanistan in Islamabad, Khaama Press cited Decker’s tweets.

The US official is making a visit to Pakistan after 30 ‘long’ years after reports of Afghan women and children detained and imprisoned in Pakistani jails.

Earlier former president of Afghanistan, Hamid Karzai had also attacked Pakistan for ‘mistreating’ the Afghan refugees who crossed the border after the Taliban took over the country.

Karzai expressed his concerns over the mistreatment of the refugees by the Pakistan government. He also urged the Pakistan administration to treat the refugees as per international laws and human rights values.

As per media reports over 1100 Afghan refugees including women and children have been arrested and imprisoned in the Sindh state of Pakistan, Hamid Karzai tweeted.

As per Khaama Press, the US official’s visit to Pakistan is being hailed by social media users, particularly the Afghan refugees who are waiting to be resettled to the US, and those eligible under the US’s P1/P2 program.

Earlier on Tuesday, Taliban-run Afghan Consulate in Karachi, Pakistan, said that 30 undocumented Afghan migrants who had been incarcerated in Pakistani prisons had been released and deported to Afghanistan, Khaama Press reported.

Khaama Press, citing its monitoring desk, said that thousands of Afghans cross Turkham and Spin Boldak borders daily and most do so without holding valid entry permits and visas.

The Afghan immigrants in Pakistan do not hold any legal status as the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees has not yet started registering the immigrants.

One of the main reasons behind the rising number of Afghan immigrants in Pakistan is the political instability and economic crisis in Afghanistan reported Khaama Press.

Since its ascent to power in Kabul, the Islamic group imposed policies severely restricting basic rights–particularly those of women and girls.

According to Human Rights Watch (HRW), the Taliban dismissed all women from leadership posts in the civil service and prohibited girls in most provinces from attending secondary school.


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Gunman Opens Fire at Civilians in Eastern Afghanistan

By Saqalain Eqbal

November 9, 2022

Local Taliban officials in Kunar province in eastern Afghanistan said that an armed attack in the center of the province resulted in the death of one person and the injuries of three other people.

According to the Taliban governor for Kunar province, Najibullah Hanif, the armed attack at the provincial capital of Kunar province, Asadabad city, took place on Tuesday evening, November 8.

The Taliban official stated that in Asadabad city, four unarmed civilians were shot at; as a result, one person was murdered and three others were injured.

Even though the motive for the shooting is yet to be determined by the Taliban investigative teams, the Taliban official stated that the shooting gunman has been taken into custody.

Source: Khaama Press

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Govt announces end to riba in five years

Shahbaz Rana

November 09, 2022


The government announced on Wednesday it would implement the Federal Shariat Court (FSC) decision, implying that it would transform the existing interest-based banking system to an interest-free model in the next five years.

Finance Minister Ishaq Dar said in a pre-recorded statement that the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) and the National Bank of Pakistan (NBP) were withdrawing their appeals against the FSC, inferring that the government would implement the interest-free banking system by December 2027.

On the day Dar announced to honour the FSC decision, Finance Secretary Hamed Yaqoob Sheikh launched a new SDG and Climate Finance Facility to tap foreign loans from non-traditional international investors.

The finance ministry and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), Pakistan, launched the Climate Financing Facility to mobilise private sector investments after the traditional financing by the foreign creditors started drying up.

On the same day, Dar also announced that the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) approved $500 million loan. Pakistan has secured the loan at one of the highest interest rate of 4.9% by any multilateral creditor.

The three separate but identical events highlight the challenges facing Pakistan’s economy due to mounting requirements that makes the government deeply dependent on domestic and foreign creditors to remain afloat.

In its April 2022 judgment, the FSC had also directed that future financial engagements, including the availing of loans and advances, between Pakistan and international financial institutions and other bilateral as well as multilateral providers of finance be carried out on the basis of Shariah compliant modes of finance such as the issue of Sukuk.

Dar said that Pakistan did not move forward towards an interest-free banking system during the past few years as it should have. He added that the decision to withdraw the appeals was taken after permission from Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and in consultation with the SBP governor.

In June this year, the central bank had approached the Supreme Court, seeking modification in the FSC’s April 28 judgment that declared that riba was prohibited, according to the injunctions of Islam, so it should be eliminated from the country in five years.

At present the Islamic banks account for 19.4% of the country’s overall banking system in terms of assets, while in terms of deposits the share is 20%. Currently, 22 Islamic banking institutions are running five full-fledged Islamic banks and 17 conventional banks having standalone Islamic banking branches with a network of 3,983 branches along with 1,418 Islamic banking windows.

In its appeal, the SBP argued that a mass-scale conversion of the banking system would require infrastructural investment and changes at a mega scale – at least five times more within the next five years in comparison with the current level which had been achieved in more than 20 years.

The government’s decision to withdraw the appeals would now require shifting of the traditional banking to Islamic banking. But Dar did not give a framework how he intended to implement the decision.

As a result of the FSC decision, Pakistan became the first Muslim country to officially declare modern bank interest as riba, declared haram by Qur’an. The FSC had declared the laws allowing interest repugnant to Islam in 1991.

The federal government and certain banks and financial institutions filed 67 appeals against this judgment in the Shariah Appellate Bench of the Supreme Court.

The FSC has declared a number of laws of the country repugnant to the injunctions of Islam, as they have provided for charging or paying interest, which according to the findings of the FSC, fall within the definition of riba.

Dar said that the government would try to implement the Islamic banking system as soon as possible. “God willing, we will take Pakistan towards an interest-free economy”, he added.

Traditional borrowing continues

Dar took to twitter on Wednesday to announce that the AIIB Board had approved a $500 million loan for Pakistan. The loan has been contracted at the Secured Overnight Financing Rate (SOFR), which currently stands at 3.8%.

Pakistan will pay 0.81% over and above the SOFR on account of a fixed spread and variable borrowing cost, taking the tally to 4.61%. Then there is a front-end fee of 0.25%, which is $1.25 million on a loan of $500 million. This brings the total interest rate to 4.9% – one of the highest by a multilateral institution.

Meanwhile, the finance secretary launched a new financing facility aimed at taking a pie out of available climate change financing window in the world.

“This is a timely initiative for accelerating financing for development in Pakistan”, said Hamed Yaqoob Sheikh, while launching the facility. “We must call on the private sector and international stakeholders to expand the financing pool and reach out to marginalised populations”, he added.

UNDP Senior Adviser on Financing for Development, Haroon Sharif, said that the traditional financing sources were coming under pressure but huge sums of money were available for climate resilience initiatives that could be mobilised by pitching projects for investors.

Sharif said that under the new initiative, they were targeting $2 to 3 billion financing in the next two to three years out of the potential investment of $96 billion that Pakistan could tap.

The IMF estimates Pakistan’s annual financing gap for the SDGs at $3.72 billion for 2022-23. Pakistan can also arrange $500 million through green sovereign bond, as it may not be able to raise planned $2 billion through traditional eurobonds due to its junk credit rating.

Source: Tribune Pakistan

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Imran Khan's party all set to resume stalled long march today

Nov 10, 2022

LAHORE: Imran Khan's Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf party is poised to resume its stalled long march on Thursday from Wazirabad in Punjab province, where an assassination attempt was made on the former premier last week.

The long march to Islamabad, demanding fresh general elections, was suspended following the attack on Khan.

Khan, 70, suffered bullet injuries in the right leg when two gunmen fired a volley of bullets at him and others standing on a container-mounted truck in the Wazirabad area, where he was leading the march on November 3.

He underwent surgery for bullet injuries at the Shaukat Khanum Hospital owned by his charitable organisation.

He is advised to take rest for four to six weeks by doctors.

The former cricketer-turned-politician, who is recovering from injuries, had announced resumption of the long march on Tuesday but later the party changed the decision and rescheduled it for Thursday.

He would join the long march in Rawalpindi when it reaches there in 10 to 14 days.

"PTI vice-chairman and former foreign minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi will lead the march from Wazirabad on Thursday at 2 pm (local time)," PTI Punjab leader and health minister Dr Yasmin Rashid told PTI on Wednesday.

"The long march will resume with prayers for those killed and injured in the shooting. A sea of people will reach Islamabad to push the coalition government of 13 parties led by the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) to announce the date for early elections," she said.

During a meeting presided by Khan at his Lahore residence on Wednesday, it was decided that the "Haqeeqi Azadi" march would move towards Rawalpindi from the spot following a public gathering.

The federal government has not yet granted permission to PTI to hold its rally in Islamabad.

In a statement, the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party said leaders from Faisalabad and other parts of the country would move towards Rawalpindi in groups, while more convoys will reach the city in the third week of November, Geo TV reported. Meanwhile, a three-member probe panel would be formed on Thursday, which will provide details of the investigation done by local police to the joint investigation team, it added.

One person was killed and 11 others, including Khan, were injured in the attack during the long march.

Khan has alleged that prime minister Shehbaz Sharif,interior minister Rana Sanaullah and Major General Naseer were part of a plot to assassinate him in the same way former Punjab governor Salman Taseer was killed in 2011 by a religious extremist.

Khan, who was ousted as prime minister in april this year after a no-confidence motion was passed in the National Assembly, is seeking fresh general elections in Pakistan.

However, the federal government led by Prime Minister Sharif is opposed to holding elections now. The term of the current National Assembly will end in August 2023.

Source: Times Of India

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Pakistan: Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s Swat Valley witnessing a resurgence of the TTP

9 November, 2022

Khyber Pakhtunkhwa [Pakistan], November 9 (ANI): The recent surge in attacks by the banned outfit, Tehreek-e-Taliban (TTP) in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s Swat District has given rise to the fear that the presence of terrorists and violence is making a comeback after more than a decade.

The deteriorating security situation in Swat also highlights the weakness of the Pakistan Army-led peace process, which appears to be moving inexorably to failure. Further, it is also seen as the failure of the Pakistan Army under Army Chief Gen Bajwa to contain the resurgence of the TTP, reported Islam Khabar.

The TTP leadership is displaying complete intransigence on its core objectives thus reducing the possibility of negotiations succeeding.

Consequently, the people of Swat have come out on the streets and are protesting against rising militancy in the Swat valley. The resurgence of the TTP is a direct fallout of the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan, reported Islam Khabar.

The recent appearance of TTP in the Swat valley brings back memories of the bloody period in the early 2000s. According to the latest figures, there have been six incidents this year alone in which 12 persons, including seven civilians and five terrorists, have been killed.

Global Strat View, a US-based virtual think-tank has issued (October 30, 2022) an analysis which claims that the Pakistani Army had allowed the return of some TTP militants in the Swat Valley as a part of its ongoing negotiations with the terrorist outfit.

However, local leaders and human rights activists see the TTP’s resurgence in KP as a devious ploy to create disturbances in the Pashtun areas of Pakistan, reported Islam Khabar.

Global Strat News says this is a consequence of the Afghan strategy followed by the Pakistan Army, because of which the Afghan Taliban is no longer willing to follow orders from Rawalpindi, reported Islam Khabar.

Complications have also arisen due to the failure of the TTP-Pakistan Army negotiations after the assassinations of key TTP leaders. This has confirmed fears in the Pashtun tribal areas that the military and civilian leadership are compromising peace in the region.

TTP terrorists were first spotted along the Swat-Dir border (August 2022) as the Kabul peace talks between the terror organization and the Pakistani government got underway.

A UN report (February 2022) estimates that about 3,000 to 4,000 TTP fighters had regrouped in Afghanistan, under the leadership of Noor Wali Mehsud.

Earlier, a 12 August 2022 report had noted that TTP militants had established a check-post at Balasoor Top, besides roaming about freely in other areas of the Matta tehsil of Swat, reported Islam Khabar.

Moreover, Geo News correspondent in Swat, Mehboob Ali, claimed that at least 200-250 TTP militants were in the area. The TTP-claimed attack (August 7, 2022) on a Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) MPA in Lower Dir and the abduction of an Army man and police official in Swat fuelled fears of the terrorists staging a comeback.

Regular extortion calls further stoked fear among citizens. Aimal Wali Khan, President of Awami National Party’s KP wing, recently claimed that at least three PTI ministers, the provincial Chief Minister and former speaker of the National Assembly, Asad Qaiser were paying extortion money to the TTP and its affiliates, reported Islam Khabar.

Source: ThePrint

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Religious scholars say Iqbal’s dream still unfulfilled

November 10, 2022

LAHORE: Religious scholars remembering Allama Iqbal on his birth anniversary expressed sorrow that country’s leadership has never sincerely tried to make it the realisation of the dream of his concept, a separate homeland for Muslims of subcontinent.

Tanzeem-e-Islami ameer Shujauddin Shaikh said the indifference of our political leaders towards the ideology and thought of the architect of Pakistan, Allama Iqbal, is appalling. He said Iqbal had envisioned the creation of an Islamic State in the North-West of the Indian Subcontinent in his Allahabad speech of 1930.

Tanzeem-e-Islami ameer Shujauddin Shaikh stated that the objective of creating that state would be to wash away the stains placed on the shining face of Islam during the era of Arab Imperialism, so that the world could be shown the benefits of the genuine Islamic System.

He stressed that Muslims were facing ignominy and disgrace in the world because of forgetting the message of unity and harmony of Muslim Ummah given by Allama Iqbal. TI ameer Shujauddin Shaikh that said the enemies of Islam are spilling the blood of Muslims around the world because of the internal strife and power hungriness amongst the Muslim rulers.

He said that the oppressed Muslims of Kashmir and Palestine were looking helplessly towards the Muslim Ummah for help, not to be found, while the rulers of Muslim countries were busy in servitude to the enemies of Islam. He said Muslims today can become an unassailable force by following the thoughts of Iqbal.

Jamiat Ulema-e-Pakistan (JUP) supreme council chairman Allama Qari Zawar Bahadur said that the dream of an Islamic state envisioned by Iqbal is unfulfilled till date. The Islamic ideology on which founding fathers of the country like Allama Iqbal and Quaid-e-Azam created Pakistan has been pushed far behind by the rulers and bureaucracy of the country, he said while addressing a function chaired by Haji Naseer Ahmad Noorani in connection with Iqbal Day.

JUP supreme council chairman Allama Qari Zawar Bahadur said that unfortunately the rulers after Quaid-e-Azam and Liaquat Ali Khan forgot the real purpose of achieving this country and actually destroyed the country.

He lamented that the country has become the sanctuary of thieves, extortionists, plunderers and killers, and its economy, ideology, political stability, education and other spheres have been destroyed.

The country is trapped under a swamp of problems, debts, poverty, unemployment, inflation and street crimes. Prices of electricity, gas and petroleum products are increasing day by day and people are forced to commit mass suicides.

Maulana M Saleem Awan, Rashid Ahmed Rizvi, Prof M Arshad Meher, Qari Liaquat Ali Rizvi, Hafiz Mustanir Ahmad Noorani and others also addressed.

GCU VC visits Mazar-e-Iqbal: Vice Chancellor Government College University (GCU) Lahore Prof Dr Asghar Zaidi along with other teachers visited Mazar-e-Iqbal, laid wreaths and offered Fatiha on Wednesday.

Source:TheNews Pakistan

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Saudi Arabia never interferes in Pakistan’s internal, external affairs: clarifies Ashrafi

Wed, 9 Nov 2022

ISLAMABAD, Nov 9 (APP): Special Representative to the Prime Minister on Interfaith Harmony and Middle East Hafiz Muhammad Tahir Mehmood Ashrafi on Wednesday clarified that neither Saudi Arabia nor Islamic world had ever interfered in Pakistan’s internal and external affairs.

He, in an exclusive talk with APP, said there were certain elements who wanted to sabotage Saudi Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman’s visit to Pakistan to meet their ulterior motives.

He said: “Such a group gets activated whenever an important visit takes place in the country to create hurdles in the process of development and prosperity.”

He, brushing aside the speculation about Saudi Arabia’s interference on the appointment of a particular position, termed it baseless and concocted as it was an attempt to create rift in the Pak-Saudi’s diplomatic and fraternal ties.

He said the crown prince’s visit to Pakistan was a living example of improved ties between the two brotherly countries and it would help uplift the crippling economy of the country.

Ashrafi expressed the hope that if internal conditions of Pakistan were stable, an investment of 25 to 30 billion dollars could be expected in the country in a couple of years. “Steps are being expedited once again for the financial support of Pakistan by the Saudi leadership. However, Qatar, United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Bahrain are all ready to cooperate with Pakistan on the matter,” he added.

He said the Middle East Green Initiative (MGI) and the 2022 United Nations (UN) Climate Change Conference (COP27) would help Pakistan to deal with climate change challenges effectively and efficiently.

He explained that the MGI signified the Saudi Arabia’s commitment to international sustainability efforts and enabled the region to help protect the planet by clearly defining an ambitious road map that significantly contributed to achieving global targets.

“Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman has emerged as a great and visionary leader not only for the Muslim Ummah but also for the entire world,” he added.

He said under the patronage of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, and with support of the government of Egypt, the World Conference on Environment had determined an effective and positive direction at the global level in general and in the Islamic world in particular.

He said Pakistan, besides assuring full cooperation, had already welcomed the Saudi Crown Prince’s vision of Saudi and Middle East Green Initiative.

Ashrafi who is also the chairman of Pakistan Ulema Council said religious leaders were constantly creating awareness on interfaith dialogue and climatic issues at the global level.

He said the conferences convened by Dar Al-Ifta Egypt and Bahrain Islamic Council raised an effective voice on the eradication of poverty and ignorance and thoroughly discussed the ways to create peace and tranquility in the comity of nations.

The leadership of all religions appealed to stop the war between Russia and Ukraine as the world was facing problems due to the wars, he said adding, “we have to promote peace and discourage wars”.


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Exclusive: Imran’s candid take on ‘bad romance’ with military

Atika Rehman

November 10, 2022

There are at least three dozen personnel from the provincial police force stationed on the narrow lane leading to Imran Khan’s Zaman Park residence these days. But inside, the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) chairman cuts a lonely figure.

Gone are the days when the Tareens, Aleem Khans and other political bigwigs were his gatekeepers, making him unreachable. On Tuesday, other than lawyer Aitzaz Ahsan, who was escorted to the gate by Fawad Chaudhry after paying Mr Khan a visit, not a single face from the 2018 election coterie or the PTI’s ‘usual suspects’ was at the scene.

Lawyers, journalists and security officials came and went, but only when cleared by Mr Khan’s personal security officer. No phones were allowed. His security, it was apparent, was serious business. After all, just days ago, Mr Khan was targeted by a gunman.

“I am relieved to be alive,” Mr Khan said, in an exclusive conversation with Dawn.

It was surprising to see Mr Khan, who usually cuts a towering figure, hunched over a walker, and taking laboured steps to his sofa. His bandaged leg, where bullets had chipped part of his tibia, rested on a plush futon. One would think that the attack had shaken him. But Mr Khan was aggressive.

He did not shy away from addressing the elephant in the room: his bad romance with the military establishment.

Although many of his followers now see him as a born-again democrat who wants to rewrite the rules of engagement between the military and the civilian government, it is clear that he has faith in the institution’s power and influence, and believes that — within certain limits — positive working dynamics can produce great results. But three years into his government, he said, their relationship went sour.

“I always imagined that, because the army is so powerful and organised, when I would try to bring rule of law in the country, they would play an important part,” Mr Khan said.

He repeated the mantras that formed the backbone of his 2018 election campaign and were the main obsession of his government: accountability of mafias; bringing the elite to task; ending corruption.

But he rued that the National Accountability Bureau was not in his control. “NAB was controlled by the army. I couldn’t do anything. They would say, ‘yes there are cases, we are working on it’. But nothing would happen. I discovered that, actually, the establishment controlled NAB and proceeded as it wanted… it was to control politicians by having files about their corruption. They would squeeze someone, but then he would be out on bail.”

Beginning of the end

Asked when it all started to go wrong between him and the army, Mr Khan said that his government’s failure to convict those whom he alleged of corruption was the first sign.

The second, Mr Khan said, was the choice of Punjab chief minister.

“The army chief wanted me to have Aleem Khan [as CM Punjab] and I wouldn’t. Because not only were there NAB cases against him, he had occupied and sold land worth millions belonging to the government.”

When asked why he included Aleem Khan in his party if he suspected wrongdoing, Mr Khan said, “We always thought they were just allegations. And he defended himself. But when I asked the vice chairman of the LDA [about Aleem], he showed me on a map how Aleem Khan had occupied government land. This was around the end of my second year, and beginning of the third of my government.”

Mr Khan is unequivocal that, until the time that Gen Bajwa asked him to make Aleem Khan the chief minister, the relationship was going swimmingly.

“They were organised, you could get their help, we were on the same page regarding foreign policy. It was just the last six months, the issue of them making deals with these crooks when they should be behind bars…”

To emphasise his point about the military’s influence over accountability cases, Mr Khan said, “The army was going after these people before I came to power. 95 per cent of these cases preceded my government. The Nawaz Sharif case, the Avenfield case… he would not have got convicted had the army not provided the two brigadiers in the JITs — that was before me.”

Though Mr Khan points to the NAB inaction and Punjab CM issues as the main sticking points between him and the army, many speculate that it was actually his differences with the army chief over the appointment of the new DG ISI that marked the unraveling of the relationship.

“Look, I don’t know the internal politics of the army. All I know is our relationship was going well. Later, I discovered there was a big issue going on about the next army chief. I had never ever thought about who the army chief would be in November — why would I care, if it’s on merit? It should be the best person. It matters to the Sharifs and Zardari… but not to me.”

‘His man’

But what about the perception that General Faiz Hamid was ‘his man’?

“Gen Faiz was the only general I knew, because he was working with me as the ISI chief… and I didn’t know anyone else. I told Gen Bajwa ‘I will take your recommendations because I don’t know the other guys’, but at the time my worry was Afghanistan. I feared it would go into civil war. And I felt Americans would blame us and we would be sanctioned. Ashraf Ghani told me there are 300,000 Afghan soldiers and they will be outnumbered. Not just Ashraf Ghani, ISI was telling us there will be civil war [in Afghanistan]. I wanted Gen Faiz to stay till the winter till the transition happened.”

Despite allegations that the 2018 elections were rigged, his opponents jailed or disqualified and sections of the media provided enthusiastic support, Mr Khan insists the establishment did not help him come to power. According to Mr Khan, he won because of his popularity, not because he was the military’s darling.

The army did not back me in the 2018 election. I believe we won freely and fairly,” he said.

To illustrate his point, Mr Khan added, “Since I have been out of power in the last six months, out of 37 by-elections I have won 29. The establishment is openly supporting [my opponents], the government machinery is supporting them. Even the election commission is supporting them — despite that we have won 29 out of 37.”

Rigging blues

On elections and rigging, Mr Khan said his efforts to introduce electronic voting machines (EVMs) for the next elections were also resisted by the military.

“For two years, I tried to get EVMs. Rigging disappears when you have EVMs because all the rigging takes place after polling ends. It was resisted by both main parties because they have fake votes in most constituencies. It was resisted by the establishment, because then when it comes to manipulation, that’s the time to do it [during vote count]. Remember when Gen Bajwa said he got that call from Khawaja Asif asking for help when he was losing? The next day he won.”

When reminded that the allegations against his party’s victory in the last election were the very same, he said. “We lost 17 seats with less than a 3,000 vote margin… if they [establishment] wanted to help they could easily get those seats.”

He acknowledges that his razor thin majority was one of his biggest challenges, and, if he faced the same situation again, he would “never take government”.

“We didn’t have the power. This time, if I ever come, I will not take government if I don’t have majority and can’t make a difference. If you have a coalition, a thin majority, and are being blackmailed by your own people… it’s impossible [to govern]. That’s when the army’s role became more prominent, because we needed their help and we were working together for the same cause.”

So is he happy for the military to wield influence as long as it does as he says? “It would be idealistic to completely remove their role,” Mr Khan said.

Source: Dawn

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Flurry of meetings hints at key decisions to come

Baqir Sajjad Syed

November 10, 2022

ISLAMABAD: As Army Chief Gen Qamar Bajwa’s date of retirement draws closer, the concerned stakeholders are already at work, mulling potential options that they believe would best protect their interests.

Hectic consultations are underway in Rawalpindi, London, and Lahore and the next few days are very crucial, according to political sources.

The most important of these meetings took place in Rawalpindi, where the army’s corps commanders met at the General Headquarters on Tuesday. The meeting was presided by Gen Bajwa.

The session is a monthly fixture at GHQ, where the top brass discusses the internal and external security situation as well as professional matters. Two things made this meeting extremely important — the impending change of command in the army and the related debates, both within the institution and outside; and the tense political environment in the country.

Absence of ISPR release after corps commanders’ moot, PM Sharif’s abrupt detour to London indicate events are unfolding at breakneck speed

No media statement was issued by ISPR, though, which has remained tight lipped on the matter despite intense speculation.

It is rare for ISPR to not issue a press release on the corps commanders conference and only events over the coming days could provide hints about what decisions were taken.

Gen Bajwa’s short trip to Peshawar on Wednesday, where he stayed for a couple of hours and addressed officers and men of Peshawar corps, is being seen as part of his farewell visits to the formations. This shows that the general is sticking to his decision of leaving on Nov 29.

Some retired officers insist that besides deliberations on the institutional process for the selection of Gen Bajwa’s successor, the commanders discussed the political situation and unrelenting criticism of some of the officers by the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf.

It is said that the army wants a de-escalation with the PTI before the transition takes place so that the new chief takes office in relatively settled times. Therefore, there is pressure on both sides to reach an accord on a date for the next elections, which could theoretically end PTI’s long march and enable political parties to attend to other pressing issues that require urgent attention.

President Arif Alvi is also said to be playing a major role in this renewed effort for ending the political stalemate, having recently met with the military leadership, whose message he delivered to PTI Chairman Imran Khan as well when he went to inquire after his health.

When Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif left Sharm-el-Sheikh on Tuesday night, he tweeted “Off to Pakistan”. But then, he changed his plans and decided instead to stop off in Qatar, from where he took a commercial flight to London to meet his elder brother, Nawaz Sharif.

He only took his personal staff with him to London, while the other members of entourage travelling with him continued onwards to Islamabad.

“The trip to London may help in deciding some of the issues that had been pending for sometime and required face to face meeting with elder Sharif and others who matter in the family,” a PML-N source said.

Those issues include the appointment of the new army chief, matters linked to the next elections, strategy for dealing with PTI, and regaining lost political capital.

It is said that the elder Sharif is not willing to budge and thinks that Imran Khan’s continued confrontation with the army in the absence of an understanding on election date would cause a hemorrhage of PTI’s political capital.

The Sharifs would, however, be talking to their allies on these issues over the next couple days, according to a political source.

Source: Dawn

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PM Shehbaz in London to ‘consult Nawaz on army chief appointment’

Syed Irfan Raza

November 10, 2022

ISLAMABAD: Prime Min­i­ster Shehbaz Sharif arr­ived in London on Wednes­day, apparently to consult his elder brother Nawaz Sharif on the appointment of the new army chief later this month, in what is his third visit to the United Kingdom since taking over as premier in April this year.

Almost all members of the PM’s delegation have retur­ned from Sharm El-Sheikh, but Mr Sharif departed for London after attending the UN climate change conference.

Educa­tion Minister Rana Tanvir Hussain confirmed in a private TV talk show that the PM will discuss important issues with Nawaz Sharif, including the appointment of the new army chief.

Also read: Who will be the next army chief?

Mr Sharif will also take up the issue of the long march by the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI), which is likely to kick off today (Thursday) following a brief suspension of the rally in light of a gun attack on party chief Imran Khan in Wazirabad last week.

It has been reported that incumbent COAS Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa’s tenure is set to end on November 29. The military spokesperson has already announced that Gen Bajwa will not seek an extension to his tenure.

On the other hand, PTI chief Imran Khan lamented that the PM was discussing the appointment of the next army chief with his elder brother, which was a violation of the Official Secrets Act and a breach of his oath.

Meanwhile, Minister for Information and Broadcas­ting Marriyum Aurangzeb termed Prime Minister Sharif’s visit to Egypt ‘very successful’. The minister said that for the first time, there was a global consensus on providing financial resources to compensate for the climate-induced losses suffered by developing countries.

Source: Dawn

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JI joins PTI’s voice for new elections

November 10, 2022

LAHORE: Jamaat-i-Islami (JI) emir Sirajul Haq adds his voice to Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan’s demand for new polls, saying fresh elections are the only way forward to pull the country out of political and economic crises it is in.

Mr Haq was presiding over a meeting of the party’s central leadership at Mansoorah here on Wednesday.

He, however, said that electoral reforms with the consensus of all political parties should be introduced before the polls, as without reforms, he added, the election would be a futile exercise and would add to the ongoing uncertainty.

“I am afraid many political parties will reject the outcome of polls without reforms.”

The political parties, he said, should hold constructive dialogue on the agenda of establishing the rule of law, ending the role of the establishment in politics, and introducing election reforms.

Now that the military establishment has promised to the nation of staying neutral in politics, the prime responsibility of the political leadership is to develop a strong mechanism for it, he said.

The political parties, he said, should sit together to strengthen the Election Commission, making the electoral watchdog economically and administratively strong and independent.

The masses, he said, have lost faith in the electoral process as there has been a history of poll rigging and manipulating the polling process.

Source: Dawn

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North America

Arab and Muslim Americans expand presence after Tuesday’s elections


November 10, 2022

CHICAGO: Republican candidates fell far short of the election sweep that GOP leaders had predicted would occur on Tuesday, but Arab and Muslim Americans increased their election presence in several US states.

Some Arab and Muslim candidates, from California to New Hampshire, faced stiff challenges while a few lost their election bids.

Here is an overview of how Arabs and Muslims performed in election contests in several key American states, based on unofficial results that were released by election authorities or tabulated by major media.

Popular American TV host and Republican Dr. Mehmet Oz failed in his bid to become Pennsylvania’s first Muslim-American member of the US Senate when he lost by a narrow margin to Democrat John Fetterman. However, Arab and Muslim candidates in Minnesota, Illinois, Louisiana, Iowa, Michigan, New Hampshire, Florida and California won contests and strengthened their voices.

In Minnesota, Attorney General Keith Ellison held a narrow lead in his re-election bid to retain his title as the nation’s only Muslim attorney general against Republican Jim Schultz. With 95 percent of the votes counted, Ellison clings to a narrow but significant 20,000 vote lead in an election that drew more than 2.5 million votes.

“This election really was tough. Fear, division, the nasty commercials, millions of dollars spent just to sow hate, division and fear. And you know what, we overcame it. The votes are still being counted, but we will win this election,” Ellison told supporters early Wednesday morning, according to the Star Tribune Newspaper.

Ellison’s congressional colleague, US Rep. Ilhan Omar, a Somali-American Democrat, easily won re-election over Republican Cicely Davis, carrying 75.2 percent of the state’s votes in the 5th Congressional District.

In Illinois, voters elected Palestinian-Muslim Abdelnasser Rashid to represent the 21st Illinois House District with 65 percent of the votes. Rashid is the third Arab to win legislative office in Illinois, following in the footsteps of the late Jewish-Syrian American state representative and Cook County judge Miriam Dweck Balanoff, elected in 1978, and her son Clem Balanoff, elected to the Illinois House in 1993.

Rashid came from behind to defeat seven-term incumbent state representative Michael J. Zalewski in the June 2022 Illinois Democratic primary by only 255 votes in the heavily Democratic district. Zalewski, whose father was an influential former Chicago alderman, was seen as being unbeatable by Democrats, having served in the Illinois General Assembly since 2008.

Rashid told Arab News: “I am humbled and privileged to have the trust of the voters of the 21st District, who are sending me to Springfield to be a voice for working and middle-class families. I am also honored that Arab Americans throughout Illinois will have a voice in Springfield — someone who understands the community and who will fight for them.”

Also winning a seat in the Illinois State General Assembly is Democrat and Indian-American Muslim Nabeela Syed who defeated a Republican challenger, Chris Bos, to represent the 51st Illinois State House District.

Lebanese-American Congressman Darin LaHood, a Republican Christian, won re-election in Illinois to the 16th Congressional District, defeating challenger and Democrat Elizabeth Haderlein with 65 percent of the vote.

“I am committed to continuing to stand up for what people in my district believe in,” LaHood told supporters on election night according to WCBU Radio. “And that’s good conservative values.”

In Louisiana, Republican Congressman Garret Graves, whose mother Cynthia Sliman is a Christian-Lebanese American, won re-election on Tuesday in the 6th Congressional District with 80 percent of the vote, defeating libertarian rival Rufus Craig.

Democrat Sami Scheetz, whose mother Hala is a Syrian-American immigrant, won the election to become Iowa’s first Arab-American state legislator, representing the 78th State House District. Scheetz defeated Republican Anne Fairchild with 67 percent of the votes cast.

In Michigan, it was no surprise that Congresswoman Palestinian Muslim Rashida Tlaib was re-elected to her third term in a landslide, winning 73.7 percent of the votes to represent the new 12th Congressional District over Republican challenger Steven Elliot.

Dozens of Arab and Muslim Americans competed for statewide, county and municipal offices in Michigan, although votes in several races continue to be counted.

Democrat Sam Baydoun was re-elected to the 13th Wayne County Commission with 64 percent of the vote over Republican Ann F. Clark.

Lebanese-American Democrat Alabas Farhat won the race for state representative in the 3rd District over Republican Ginger Shearer. Incumbent Democrat and Yemeni-American Abraham Aiyash won re-election to the 9th District State House seat, defeating Republican Michele Lundgren.

Arab-American Dennis Denno, whose parents are from Iraq, won his election to fill a vacant seat on the Michigan State University board of trustees.

In New Hampshire, Republican Lebanese and Palestinian American Governor Chris Sununu won re-election with 55 percent of the vote over Democrat Tom Sherman with 57 percent of the votes cast. His father, John Sununu, previously served as governor and US senator in New Hampshire and also as chief of staff to former president George H.W. Bush.

Arab Americans had mixed results in Florida where Democrat Charlie Crist, who is of Greek and Lebanese descent, lost his bid to unseat Governor Ron DeSantis, one of the country’s most powerful Republicans who is believed to be a possible contender for president in 2024.

Crist lost to DeSantis, receiving 40 percent or 3.1 million of the more than 7.75 million votes cast in the election.

In California, Republican Syrian-Lebanese Christian Darrell Issa easily won re-election in the new 48th Congressional District over Democrat Stephen Houlahan with 60 percent of the votes cast.

And longtime Democratic Congresswoman Anna Eshoo, who is Assyrian and Armenian, was leading Rishi Kumar in California’s 16th Congressional District with 58 percent of only half of the district’s votes counted by Wednesday morning. Assyrians trace their ancestry to the Ottoman Empire and Iraq. Eshoo has held the seat since 1993.


By Numbers

Muslims, including many Arab Americans, had a much stronger presence in Tuesday’s elections.

According to the Council on American Islamic Relations and Jetpac Resource Center, 145 Muslim Americans were competing in election contests throughout the US and 29 American Muslims serve as state legislators in 18 states.

Five Arab Americans have been elected to the nation’s highest legislative office, as US senators. They include:

James Abourezk (Lebanese), representing South Dakota

George Mitchell (Lebanese), representing Maine

James Abdnor (Lebanese), representing South Dakota

Spencer Abraham (Lebanese), representing Michigan

John E. Sununu (Lebanese and Palestinian), representing New Hampshire.

Arabs in Congress

There have been 28 Arab or Middle East Americans who have held seats in the US Congress since 1959 when George A. Kasem was first elected to represent California for one term. Six Arab and Middle East Americans continue to serve in the US House of Representatives:

Anna Eshoo, California, Assyrian American

Darrell Issa, California, Syrian-Lebanese American

Garrett Graves, Louisiana, Lebanese

Darin LaHood, Illinois, Lebanese

Ilhan Omar, Minnesota, Somali

Rashida Tlaib, Michigan, Palestinian

Arabs by state population, 2019 *

California  324,000

Michigan   223,000

New York   152,000

Texas    124,000

Florida   112,000

Illinois    111,000

New Jersey  108,000

Virginia   79,482

Ohio    77,096

Pennsylvania 75,821

Massachusetts 70,683

* (Sources: Arab American Institute’s data on demographics,

Source: Arab News

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Iowa voters elect first-ever Arab American state representative

November 10, 2022

WASHINGTON D.C.: In the US midterm elections this week, voters in Iowa for the first time in history elected an Arab American to represent them in the state’s General Assembly.

Democrat Sami Scheetz, a 26-year-old grassroots community organizer from the city of Cedar Rapids, defeated his Republican rival in Tuesday’s poll by a 30-point margin. He will be one of the youngest members of the Iowa state legislature.

His victory, in a state controlled by a republican majority at both state and national levels, will be seen as significant to efforts to promote Democratic Party agendas in the state.

After his victory was confirmed, Scheetz told Arab News that he is very proud and honored by the trust the community has placed in him to represent them in the Iowa State House.

“I feel amazing and grateful because this is the community I grew up in and where my family live,” he said.

“I feel honored to represent them and to be given the opportunity to work for them and fight for their causes and for every working family in my district.”

He added that his parents supported him throughout the campaign and are extremely proud of his achievement. His mother, Hala, emigrated to the US from Damascus, Syria, more than 35 years ago. His father, Raphael, is a native-born Iowan with German heritage.

“I am looking forward to working with Republicans and Democrats to build a more inclusive Iowa, with an economy that works for all people,” he said in a statement issued by his campaign.

Scheetz will represent the 78th District, which has a diverse electorate that includes large Latino, Arab American and African American communities, in addition to its white population. It also hosts large numbers of recent immigrants and refugees. Scheetz, who is fluent in Arabic and Spanish, vowed to represent all residents of the district equally and work to improve living standards.

He campaigned in particular on the issues of healthcare, education and workers’ rights. He told Arab News that the focus of his political and legislative agendas while in office will include protecting families and making sure that women continue to have a choice on the issue of abortion, especially in a heavily

Republican state such as Iowa. A recent Supreme Court ruling resulted in access to abortion being limited in many Republican-controlled states.

Scheetz, whose official swearing in will take place in January in the state capital, Des Moines, said he will also work to improve the education system and advocate for the introduction of universal healthcare to ensure everyone has proper, affordable access to medical treatment.

Scheetz predicted that Iowa could move toward Democratic control, given the rapid growth of its Latino community of Mexican Americans, who tend to be more progressive in their political views and traditionally support the Democratic Party. For that to happen, however, he said the party needs to work harder to convince the people of Iowa that it is committed to addressing the issues that matter most to them.

Statewide, Iowa has a sizable Arab American community that began to establish itself more than a century ago. Cedar Rapids is home to the Mother Mosque of America, which opened in 1934 and was the first mosque to be built in US.

The US midterm elections are held two years into each four-year presidential term. Traditionally, the party of the incumbent president tends to lose seats in the US Congress in the midterms, often by wide margins, a trend that has been observed since at least 1978.

This week, however, the Democrats performed better than many pundits expected; many had predicted the Republicans would easily take control of both houses of the US Congress relatively comfortably.

Source: Arab News

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In rebuff to Kiev, Pentagon says can’t confirm claims about Iranian missiles to Russia

09 November 2022

The Pentagon says it has no evidence to suggest that Iran has provided Russia with ballistic missiles, days after reports emerged that Tehran was supplying such weapons to Moscow as its stockpile of conventional missiles was running low.

At a press conference on Tuesday, the Pentagon’s spokesman Brigadier General Patrick Ryder said the US military could not confirm the allegations about Iran. “We do not have any information to corroborate right now that Iran has delivered ballistic missiles to Russia for use in Ukraine.”

He said the Pentagon would “continue to keep a close eye on” the matter. But Washington does “have concerns” Moscow might “seek to acquire that capability,” he said.

His remarks came days after Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky’s aide, Mikhail Podoliak, called for strikes against the Iranian military-industrial centers producing combat drones and ballistic missiles.

Kiev claims Iran has supplied Russia with kamikaze drones. The Ukrainian government also alleges that drones designated by Moscow as Geran-2 are actually Iranian-made Shahed-136 UAVs.

Furthermore, a number of media outlets claim Tehran also sold ballistic missiles to Russia. Tehran and Moscow both have rejected such claims.

Last week, Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian dismissed propaganda about Iran’s support for Russia in the Ukraine war.

“Our relations with Russia are based on mutual interests. I would like to emphasize here that the fuss made by some Western countries that Iran has provided Russia with missiles and drones to help it in the Ukraine war, claims about the missile part is completely wrong and the drone part is correct,” he said.

But Amir-Abdollahian hastened to add that Iran provided Russia with a limited number of drones months before the war in Ukraine broke out, assuring that Iran would not be indifferent if it is proven that Russia has used Iranian drones in the war.

“We agreed with Ukraine’s foreign minister that if they have any documents proving Russia has been using Iranian drones in Ukraine, Kiev should provide these documents to us,” the Iranian foreign minister said.

US military officials confirmed the delivery of two advanced NASAMS surface-to-air missile systems to Ukraine after Kiev on Monday confirmed it had received such systems.

On Tuesday, Ryder confirmed the delivery of NASAMS systems but did not give any indications on whether any Army Tactical Missile System (ATACMS) have also arrived in Ukraine.

“These systems will contribute to Ukraine’s air defense capabilities and will help protect the Ukrainian people against Russian aerial attacks to include those conducted by unmanned aerial vehicles or cruise missiles,” Ryder said.

NASAMS – the National Advanced Surface-to-Air Missile System – is manufactured as a joint venture between US-based Raytheon Technologies and Norway’s Kongsberg Defense and Aerospace. The system is a distributed and networked short- to medium-range ground-based air defense system, designed to shoot down drones, helicopters, cruise missiles, and crewed fixed wing aircraft.

Russia commenced what it called a "special military operation" in neighboring Ukraine on February 24, with the declared aim of “de-Nazifying” the country. Since the onset of the operation, the United States and its European allies have imposed waves of economic sanctions against Moscow while supplying large consignments of heavy weaponry to Kiev over Russian objections.

Source: Press TV

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