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Kerala Mosque Invites People From Other Religions To Attend Khutbah And Friday Prayers

New Age Islam News Bureau

27 April 2022


Markaz Masjid in Zachariah Bazaar of Alappuzha is taking the initiative in a bid to strengthen communal harmony


• Thank You Indian Railways For The Iftar: Train Iftar Leaves Shatabdi Traveller Very Surprised

• Kerala: Christian Association And Alliance For Social Action Having Anti-Muslim Leanings To Take Part In Hindu Maha Sammelan

• France’s Highest Administrative Court Rules Emmanuel Macron’s Mosque Ban Illegal

• India Religious Freedom Worsens ‘Significantly’: US Commission On International Religious Freedom



• Karnataka: Groom Hosts Iftar For Muslim Friends Fasting During Ramzan

• Prevent hate speech at Dharam Sansad: SC to Uttarakhand govt

• Amid Loudspeakers Row, 5 Pune Mosques Say No To DJ Music During Eid Festival, Utilise Fund To Help Poor And Needy

• Uniform Civil Code unconstitutional, against minorities, says AIMPLB

• AIMIM denies part in Hubballi violence after leaders’ arrest

A history of violence: Jahangirpuri is but another event in a historical continuum

• When Sunil Dutt’s Family Was Saved By Muslim Man During Partition: ‘He Helped Us Escape’



• David Cameron accused of 'Islamophobia' after singling out Muslim critics of Prevent

• Twitter admits temporarily suspending Dutch far-right leader Geert Wilders

• UK announces £25 million aid package for Somalia, supporting almost 1m people

• Islamic Centre in Vienna to hold Quran, Adhan competition


North America

• White House worried Iran could develop nuclear weapon in weeks

• US assured new govt wants to rejuvenate ties

• US wants deal with Iran, but it does ‘nothing’ to address missile program: Blinken


South Asia

• Bangladeshi Court Jails Islamist, Foyzul Hasan, For Life Over Attack On Top Writer, Muhammed Zafar Iqbal

• ISIS, Not A Threat, It’s Eliminated In Afghanistan: MoI

• Taliban’s promises to protect Afghan minorities falling apart amid a spate of attacks: Report

• Pakistan toasted brotherly Taliban’s takeover but why they are bombing each other

• Taliban Might Get Recognized If They Form Inclusive Government: Lavrov

• Netherlands Announces EUR 20 Million to Afghanistan


Arab World

• Shia Lebanese Man Who Posed As Jew Says He Hopes He Would Have 'Right To Kill' Hezbollah Leader

• Egypt Imposes 'Paranoid' Ramadan And Eid Restrictions On Prayers And Spiritual Retreats

• Saudi Arabia, France partner to provide $76 million in humanitarian aid to Lebanon

• Fears grow over negative impact of Hezbollah victory in Lebanon elections

• Israeli missile strike on Damascus kills nine people: Report

• Suicide bomber kills two Iraqi troops during anti-ISIS raid

• Lenderking cautiously optimistic over Yemen, calls out Iran’s support for Houthis

• Iran slams illegal foreign presence in Syria, says war on terror must not be used as pretext



• Resistance Leaders Vow To Stand By Al-Quds, Blast Israeli Barbarity

• Leader Criticizes Muslim Govts. For ‘Acting Poorly’ Vis-À-Vis Palestine

• Spokesman: Iran Hopes Talks with Saudi Arabia Enhance Regional Security

• Iran's President Warns of Negligence of Afghanistan Crisis in Light of Ukraine War

• Ancient goddess sculpture found by farmer in Gaza Strip

• Turkish opposition leaders vow to overturn sentences against Kavala, others

• Israeli forces kill young Palestinian man during Jenin refugee camp raid


Southeast Asia

• Indonesia’s Mosque Loudspeakers Continue to Spark Controversy

• Court to decide June 15 whether woman who wants to leave Islam to embrace Confucianism and Buddhism can continue with court challenge

• Singapore Executes Disabled Malaysian Convicted In Drug Case

• Over 5,000 former separatist fighters to join Philippine police



• Imran Khan's Supporters Stage Protest Outside Election Commission Offices Across Pakistan

• China condemns suicide attack at Karachi University, demands punishment for perpetrators

• Maryam withdraws plea for return of passport from LHC

• Pakistan can’t afford enmity with US, says Shehbaz

• Terrorists attack Security Forces in Sararogha, South Waziristan: ISPR



• Tunisian Opposition Announces Alliance Against President Saied

• Mali opens probe into mass grave near French base

• Tunisia detains crew of ship that sank off its coast this month

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau



Kerala Mosque Invites People From Other Religions To Attend Khutbah And Friday Prayers


Markaz Masjid in Zachariah Bazaar of Alappuzha is taking the initiative in a bid to strengthen communal harmony


Nov 26, 2021

KOTTAYAM: In a unique gesture, a mosque in Alappuzha has invited individuals from other religions and faiths to attend the Friday prayers and the weekly talk to be held in the mosque on Friday.

It is the Markaz masjid in Zachariah Bazaar in Alappuzha town that have invited people from other sections to attend the Friday prayers in the masjid. The Markaz trust has personally invited leaders of various religions, government officials and people from different walks of life. Special seats have been arranged for the guests during the Friday prayer.

According to the trust members, the move is basically aimed at giving a message to the society that all should live peacefully in this world. “There has been lots of controversies over religion recently. We are against such tendencies and by doing this in the wake of the present social atmosphere in the state we wanted to give a message of communal harmony,” said Ashraf K S, a member of the Markaz trust. The mosque, which is around 30 years old, is an important worshipping place of the Muslims in Alappuzha town.

The invited guests from other religions will have a chance to listen to the weekly talks delivered during the Friday prayers and could witness the namaz offered by the faithful. The guest are given a chance to interact with the Muslim religious leaders after the prayer session and they can also clear their doubts, if any, regarding the prayers and religious practices.

“We are basically aiming at a friendly interaction. People from other religions should know what is being held inside a mosque during the Friday prayers. They should know on what all subject we speak here,” said Ashraf. He also said that people from various walks of life have contacted the trust members showing the interest to attend the prayer session on Friday. The guests will be served food, vegetarian as well as non-veg, as per the choice of the guests after the prayer session.

Siyad, another trust member, said the masjid as of now is holding this friendly interaction only this Friday. “We may continue this in the future and our trust will discuss the possibility for that,” he said.

Source: Times Of India

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Thank You Indian Railways For The Iftar: Train Iftar Leaves Shatabdi Traveller Very Surprised


Iftar in Shatabdi Express


Apr 27, 2022

NEW DELHI: Travelling by the Howrah-Ranchi Shatabdi Express, Shahnawaz Akhtar was pleasantly surprised on Tuesday when Iftar was offered to him on the train. While IRCTC serves "Upwas Meals" during Navratri, no special service is available during Ramzan.

"Thank you #IndianRailways for the #Iftar. As soon as I boarded Howrah #Shatabdi at Dhanbad, I got my snacks. I requested the pantry man to bring tea little late as I am fasting. He confirmed by asking, Aap Roza Hai? I nodded in yes. Later someone else came with Iftar," Akhtar tweeted.

"The staff was breaking its fast and shared its Iftar. This is basic humanity," the catering supervisor said.

Source: Times Of India

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Kerala: Christian Association And Alliance For Social Action Having Anti-Muslim Leanings To Take Part In Hindu Maha Sammelan


CASA state president Kevin Peter confirmed that he would be participating in the Hindu Youth Conclave, which will be held as part of the five-day event.


by Shaju Philip

April 27, 2022

A CHRISTIAN organisation, which has been at the forefront of tapping anti-Muslim sentiments among Christians in Kerala, will participate in the 10th Ananthapuri Hindu Maha Sammelan, which begins here on Wednesday.

The Christian Association and Alliance for Social Action (CASA) will participate in a debate on “love jihad, land jihad and halal food” at the pro-Sangh Parivar event.

Hindu Dharma Parishad president M Gopal said this is the first time that a Christian outfit will be participating in the Hindu Maha Sammelan. “We had Christians attending the event in the past. But this is the first time a Christian outfit is attending the event,” he said. “The present situation in Kerala demands that Hindus and Christians should stand united. There are common issues which both communities are facing such as love jihad and land jihad.”

“Both communities are facing the same crisis situations. Islamic terrorism is confronting both communities,” said Gopal.

He denied any political agenda behind bringing the Christian outfit for the Hindu conclave.

CASA state president Kevin Peter confirmed that he would be participating in the Hindu Youth Conclave, which will be held as part of the five-day event.

Like Sangh Parivar outfits, the CASA has been campaigning to boycott halal food in Kerala. Also, recently it mobilised supporters at Kodenchery village in Kozhikode district to protest against the inter-faith marriage of a local CPI(M) leader – a Muslim – with a Catholic nurse.

The Hindu conclave will be inaugurated by Kerala Governor Arif Mohammad Khan on Wednesday. Filmmaker Vivek Agnihotri, who directed ‘The Kashmir Files’, will be the chief guest at the event, which has former Mizoram Governor and BJP leader Kummanam Rajesekharan as the patron. Union minister V Muraleedharan, RSS leaders J Nandakumar and Valsan Thillankeri and VHP state president Viji Thampi will take part in various sessions at the event.

“Left and Islamic historians have twisted the history of the state. We want to put the history in the right perspective. The conclave would take efforts in that direction,” said Gopal.

Source: Indian Express

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France’s Highest Administrative Court Rules Emmanuel Macron’s Mosque Ban Illegal


France President Emanuel Macron


Ali Abunimah

26 April 2022

Days after his re-election victory, President Emmanuel Macron has suffered a major defeat at the hands of the Muslim community in Pessac in Southwestern France.

On Tuesday, the country’s highest administrative court, the Conseil d’Etat, threw out a government decree ordering the closure of the Bordeaux suburb’s Farouk mosque for six months.

Macron’s interior ministry issued the order earlier this year on the pretext that the mosque was spreading hatred against France and Israel and inciting terrorism.

In reality it amounted to revenge and collective punishment for the mosque president’s criticisms of Israel’s crimes against Palestinians and of Macron’s harsh anti-Muslim policies.

It was also a transparent effort to increase Macron’s appeal to racist voters in the run-up to the presidential election in which he faced off against far-right leader Marine Le Pen.

Last month, a lower court in Bordeaux threw out the order, calling it disproportionate and “a grave and manifestly illegal violation of the freedom of religion.”

Gérald Darmanin, the interior minister, took the case to the Conseil d’Etat in an effort to reinstate the order.

But the Macron administration lost.

The high court in Paris confirmed that by ordering the mosque’s closure, the prefect of Gironde, the interior minister’s regional official, had “taken a police measure that constitutes a grave and manifestly illegal infringement of the freedom of worship.”

In its decision, the Conseil d’Etat “rejected the appeal of the interior ministry and once again vindicated the Pessac mosque,” Sefen Guez Guez, the Muslim congregation’s lawyer said on Tuesday.

According to Guez Guez, the court found that “nothing in the case presented by the interior ministry supports an accusation against the mosque for inciting terrorism.”

Many of the ministry’s justifications for closing the mosque were ludicrous on their face.

They included a social media post by Abdourahmane Ridouane, the mosque’s president, quoting Nelson Mandela supporting Palestinian freedom.

Ridouane had also angered the government by criticizing it for banning a group that combats anti-Muslim prejudice, and calling Gaza, where Israel cages, besieges and regularly bombs a mostly refugee Palestinian population, a “concentration camp.”

Guez Guez noted that the Conseil d’Etat ruling sets a legal precedent.

That’s important because the Macron administration has increasingly resorted to closing mosques and banning groups with whose opinions it disagrees.

Amnesty International has termed the government’s 2020 order dissolving CCIF, the group fighting anti-Muslim bigotry, “a shocking move” that could have “a chilling effect on all people and organizations engaged in combating racism and discrimination in France.”

In addition to targeting Muslim communities, the staunchly pro-Israel Macron has used similar repression against supporters of Palestinian rights.

In February, he ordered the dissolution of two French Palestine solidarity groups.

The Farouk mosque’s lawyer Sefen Guez Guez praised the popular mobilization by members of the community and supporters across France. He said that their activism, along with the legal battle, meant that the mosque “had not been closed for a single minute.”

“It won at every stage, before the administrative tribunal in Bordeaux and at the Conseil d’Etat.”

This video shows mosque president Ridouane addressing supporters in Paris on the day of the hearing at the high court:

“The mosque is a place of worship but it’s not only that. Every evening we distribute free meals, so it doesn’t only affect Muslims,” Janna, a 19-year-old student, told Bondy Blog earlier this month.

She was one of the many community members who made the 400-mile trek from Bordeaux to the capital to support the mosque during the hearing at the Conseil d’Etat.

That sort of charitable and community work is especially important during Ramadan, when the mosque has been hosting iftars every evening offering hot meals to anyone.

With Tuesday’s court victory against Macron’s anti-Muslim and anti-Palestinian repression, the upcoming Eid al-Fitr holiday celebrating the end of the fasting month will be sweeter than ever.

Source: Electronic Intifada

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India Religious Freedom Worsens ‘Significantly’: US Commission On International Religious Freedom


Secretary of State Antony Blinken with External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar during a meeting in Washington. | Photo Credit: AP


April 27, 2022

WASHINGTON: Religious freedom has deteriorated “significantly” in India under the Hindu nationalist government, a US commission said Monday as it again recommended targeted sanctions over abuses.

It was the third straight year that the US Commission on International Religious Freedom asked that India be placed on a list of “countries of particular concern” — a recommendation that has angered New Delhi and is virtually certain to be dismissed by the State Department.

In an annual report, the panel — which is appointed to offer recommendations but does not set US policy — voiced wide concern about South Asia and also backed the State Department’s inclusion of Pakistan on the blacklist.

In India, the commission pointed to “numerous” attacks on religious minorities, particularly Muslims and Christians, in 2021 as Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government promoted “its ideological vision of a Hindu state” through policies hostile to minorities.

“Religious freedom conditions in India significantly worsened,” the report said.

It pointed to a “culture of impunity for nationwide campaigns of threats and violence by mobs and vigilante groups” and arrests of journalists and human rights advocates.

In a shift from the past two years, no one on the panel dissented from the recommendation on India, commissioner Anurima Bhargava told reporters.

The Indian government in previous years has angrily rejected the commission’s findings, accusing it of bias.

President Joe Biden, like Donald Trump before him, has sought to increase ties with India, seeing common cause in the face of a rising China.

Biden is expected to meet Modi next month in Tokyo as part of a four-way summit of the “Quad” with Japan and Australia.

The commission also recommended adding Afghanistan to the blacklist following the triumph of the Taliban and relisting Nigeria, which was removed by the Biden administration.

Source: Arab News

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 Karnataka: Groom hosts iftar for Muslim friends fasting during Ramzan

Apr 27, 2022

MANGALURU: Chandrasekhar Jeddu was upset that his Muslim friends would not be able to feast at his wedding because they were fasting through the day for Ramzan.

The groom, hailing from Byrikatte in Bantwal taluk, orgaised an iftar or evening meal for them in the local mosque. At a time when religious disharmony has been in the news, Chandrasekhar sent a strong message.

"In this village, Hindus, Christians and Muslims have lived cordially for many years. I was feeling miserable that my Muslim friends could not attend my wedding. So I spoke to a few of them and came up with a plan to organise an iftar for all at the local mosque in Byrikatte. The mosque heads were more than happy," Chandrasekhar said.

"The iftar was held on Monday evening. More than 100 Muslim friends, 30 of my Hindu friends and four Christian pals had the iftar. This was just to convey that we are always together, now and in the future," he said. Chandrasekhar, who works in a borewell company, married Bhavya in Punacha on April 24.

Source: Times Of India

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Prevent hate speech at Dharam Sansad: SC to Uttarakhand govt

R. Balaji


The Supreme Court on Tuesday directed the Uttarakhand government to ensure that hate speeches are not delivered at a so-called Dharam Sansad scheduled in Roorkee on Wednesday and reminded the state it was “bound” by the Constitution to ensure peace and was not “doing any favour” by complying with relevant judicial directives.

“We are putting on record now. You know what are the preventive measures. You will have to take it and if it (hate speeches/violence) happens, we will ask the chief secretary to be present here before the court…. We are directing you to take all the necessary steps,” Justice A.M. Khanwilkar, heading a three-judge bench, told Uttarakhand deputy advocate-general Jatinder Kumar Sethi.

“You are bound to take action. You are not doing any favour to us by following the directions,” the court added while hearing appeals against alleged hate speeches at religious events in Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand. Both states are ruled by the BJP.

The bench, which also had Justices A.S. Oka and C.T. Ravi Kumar, made the oral observations after Sethi assured the court that the Uttarakhand government was adhering to the directives issued in 2018 in three cases — Shakti Vahini Vs Union of India & Ors, Tehseen S. Poonawalla Vs Union of India & Ors, and Kodungallur Film Society and Anr. Vs Union of India & Ors. These judgments dealt with preventive and punitive measures related to hate speeches.

The stern warning on Tuesday followed submissions by senior advocate Kapil Sibal, appearing for PIL petitioner Qurban Ali, that guidelines issued by the Supreme Court in the three judgments were not being complied with, resulting in hate speeches being delivered.

Sibal informed the court that on Wednesday another “Dharam Sansad” was scheduled to be held at Roorkee where the petitioner apprehended hate speeches similar to those allegedly delivered in Haridwar last December.

“You (Uttarakhand government) have to follow the guidelines, and if they are not being followed, you will have to answer,” Justice Khanwilkar said.

When Sethi said the state was taking all preventive measures, Justice Khanwilkar said: “Not only that, you have to stop all such activities (hate speeches) and untoward incidents from happening. These events don’t occur suddenly and are announced in advance. Your police need to ensure that nothing happens.”

Sethi informed the court that the Uttarakhand government had registered four FIRs relating to one community and one FIR in the case of another community in connection with the hate speeches delivered in December. He did not name the communities.

“Things are happening despite our judgment,” the court replied.

On preventive measures, Sethi said the administration was facing difficulties as “we don’t know what would be the text” of the speeches that would be delivered at the religious gatherings. Justice Khanwilkar remarked: “The speaker will be the same. You take action. Don’t make us say what we don’t want to speak.”

Sethi replied: “We are taking steps and instructions. Let them (petitioners) have faith in us.”

The bench said: “You talk to the secretary (home) and the IG of that area (Roorkee). The problem is not about trust, but what we see is something else on the ground. Despite the 2018 judgment things are happening.”

Sethi said: “My friend (Sibal) is trying to colour a particular community. We are taking steps and we will take steps that nothing happens.”

In December in Haridwar, calls had allegedly been issued at a Dharam Sansad for genocide against Muslims. At a similar event in Delhi, participants had been seen in videos chanting: “We shall fight; we shall die for and, if necessary, we shall kill.”

Last week the Supreme Court directed Delhi police to file a “better affidavit” after the force stated that no hate speeches had been delivered in the capital and the speakers were only trying to “save the ethics of the community”.

Source: Telegraph India

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Amid loudspeakers row, 5 Pune mosques say no to DJ music during Eid festival, utilise fund to help poor and needy

April 27, 2022

Pune: In the wake of a controversy over the use of loudspeakers at religious places, authorities of five mosques in Pune and some other senior Muslim community members have decided to shun DJ music during the upcoming Eid celebration and utilise funds collected for it to help the poor and needy people.

They also appealed to youth from the community not to play loud DJ music during the Eid al-Fitr celebration on May 2.

"Everyone knows the ill-effects of such loud DJ music, which is not good for sick people and those with a weak heart," said Maulana Mohsin Raza, the imam of the Bhartiya Anjuman Qadariya Mosque in Lohiya Nagar area in Pune, Maharashtra.

"So, we formed a core committee of five mosques in the area and convened a meeting of their imams and functionaries along with other senior members of the community and decided not to have DJ music during the Eid celebration," he said.

The funds usually collected to procure the DJ music system during the celebration will be used to provide aid to the needy and poor people in the area, he added.

Asked about the row over use of loudspeakers atop the mosques, he claimed all five mosques in the locality in Pune follow the Supreme Court's guidelines on noise pollution and the volume during 'azaan' is always kept low.

"The locality has a mixed population and so far, no one from the Hindu community has complained of any disturbance due to the playing of 'azaan'. In fact, the communities here (in Pune) celebrate all the festivals in harmony," Raza said.

Yunus Salim Shaikh, a local Urdu teacher who is part of this core committee, said the formation of such a panel is a good step towards dealing with social issues.

"After the formation of the core committee, a decision has been taken to ban DJ music during the Eid celebration. During the namaz sessions in mosques, we are informing people from the community about the decision and counselling them. Fortunately, we are getting a good response from everybody," he said.

Source: Firstpost

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Uniform Civil Code unconstitutional, against minorities, says AIMPLB

Apr 27, 2022

LUCKNOW: Describing the idea of Uniform Civil Code (UCC) as ‘unconstitutional’ and ‘anti-minority’, the All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) on Tuesday said it was unacceptable to Muslims.

The AIMPLB statement comes in the backdrop of BJP government in Uttarakhand having constituted a committee to prepare a draft of UCC. Recently UP’s deputy chief minister Keshav Prasad Maurya said that the state government was ‘seriously thinking’ of implementing Uniform Civil Code in the state. Earlier, Union home minister Amit Shah, addressing party leaders in Bhopal, had said issues like CAA, Ram Mandir, Article 370 and triple talaq have been resolved and now it was time to focus on the Common Civil Code.

In a statement issued by AIMPLB general secretary Maulana Khalid Saifullah Rahmani, the board said: “The Uniform Civil Code issue has been raked up to push the agenda of hatred and discrimination. This anti-Constitutional move is not acceptable to Muslims at all. The All India Muslim Personal Law Board strongly condemns this and urges the government to refrain from such actions.”

“Freedom to practice religion of choice is enshrined as a Fundamental Right in the constitution of India and under these provisions minorities and tribals follow their respective personal laws which only leads to unity among different religious groups and does not harm the national interests in any way,” the statement said, adding that these personal laws were introduce to bring an end to many a revolts by tribes in India and have gone a long way in maintain the mutual trust between the majority and the minority communities in India.

“Now, the idea of Uniform Civil Code mooted by the Uttarakhand or Uttar Pradesh government or the Central government is just a diversionary tactic to shift the focus of the people from issues like rising inflation, sinking economy and increasing unemployment,” the statement issued by Maulana Rahmani said.Describing the idea of uniform civil code (UCC) as ‘unconstitutional’ and ‘anti-minority’, the All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) on Tuesday said it was unacceptable to Muslims.

The AIMPLB statement comes in the backdrop of BJP government in Uttarakhand having constituted a committee to prepare a draft of UCC. Recently, UP’s deputy CM Keshav Prasad Maurya has said that the state government was ‘seriously thinking’ of implementing Uniform Civil Code in the state. Earlier, Union home minister Amit Shah, addressing party leaders in Bhopal had said issues like CAA, Ram Mandir, Article 370 and triple talaq have been resolved and now it was time to focus on the Common Civil Code.

In a statement issued by AIMPLB general secretary Maulana Khalid Saifullah Rahmani, the Board said: “The Uniform Civil Code issue has been raked up to push the agenda of hatred and discrimination. This anti-constitutional move is not acceptable to Muslims at all. The All India Muslim Personal Law Board strongly condemns this and urges the government to refrain from such actions.”

“Freedom to practice religion of choice is enshrined as a Fundamental Right in the constitution of India and under these provisions minorities and tribals follow their respective personal laws which only leads to unity among different religious groups and does not harm the national interests in any way,” the statement said adding that these personal laws were introduce to bring an end to many a revolts by tribes in India and have gone a long way in maintain the mutual trust between the majority and the minority communities in India.

Source: Times Of India

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AIMIM denies part in Hubballi violence after leaders’ arrest

Apr 27, 2022

The arrest of four office-bearers of the All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) in connection with violence at the old Hubballi police station has raised questions on the party’s intent to mobilise support from the Muslim electorate ahead of the 2023 assembly elections, people aware of the developments said. The party, however, has blamed right-wing organisations for instigating violence in the state.

On Sunday, Hubballi police arrested Dadapeer Betgeri, the city chief of AIMIM, under charges of rioting and other related sections while three others, including the general secretary of the party, were arrested earlier. The police have arrested a total of 146 people so far.

According to people aware of the developments, the Asaduddin Owaisi-led Hyderabad-based outfit has tried to consolidate the Muslim votes in parts of the Hubballi and Dharwad, about 450 kms from Bengaluru, where minorities count for large numbers and can even decide the fate of a few constituencies.

“Opposition parties have been making false accusations against the good work we have been doing in the region. Our office bearers were not part of the violence and have been wrongly arrested,” Rajesh Basavaraj, a state-executive committee member and spokesperson for the AIMIM, told HT.

Basavaraj added that it was the right-wing groups, who have been spoiling the peace of the district and state, making provocative statements and attacking every aspect of Muslim lives as they look to consolidate the larger Hindu vote to help bring back the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) to power in the state next year.

AIMIM won three seats in the Hubballi-Dharwad Municipal corporation elections in September last yearand one seat in neighbouring Belagavi, giving them hope of expanding their footprint into other Muslim-dominated constituencies.

In Belagavi, Muslims account for 20.62% of the total population and nearly 21% in Hubballi-Dharwad, according to the 2011 census.

Source: Hindustan Times

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A history of violence: Jahangirpuri is but another event in a historical continuum

Siddhartha Rai

April 27, 2022

As a matter of predictable historical consistency, Muslims in India have vented their ire on Hindus whenever they have lost relevance — social, political, economic — and whenever their self-image of once-rulers of India has eroded in any measure.

The latest bout of anti-Hindu violence in Delhi’s Jahangirpuri was just another event in this historical continuum, a part of patterned collective action of the Muslim community at a perceived loss of historical ‘superiority’.

While it is just stating the obvious that the Muslim community is feeling the heat of a resurgent Hindu consciousness that sees itself as the legatee of thousands of years old civilisational existence, the Muslim reaction to it, far from being reasoned and logical, has been elemental as always. They have always gone ape whenever faced with a Hindu challenge.

To put it another way, whenever the Muslim community has perceived (perceived being the operative word here) a Hindu consolidation or even the remote moorings of a communitarian collective emerging from within the Hindus, they have felt anxious, nervous and unnerved. The unease among a large section of the Muslim Ummah quite evident and public since 2014 — after the rise of Narendra Modi whose persona has consolidated the imagination of the Hindu community — is nothing new, just a replication of Muslim response in such situations in the past.

While the construct of secularism has fallen flat in terms of new academic trends that have harped on exposing, rather than whitewashing historical Hindu-Muslim faultlines, the groundswell of the realities of the past are now, more than ever, threatening to break earth. And, it is for this reason that the continuity of anti-Hindu violence as a refrain of Muslim political-cultural behaviour needs to be dealt with.

While Hindu-Muslim rivalry predates the colonial period, the British Raj made the most to exacerbate it for its own good; with the coming of the Raj, Muslims were at once reduced from once-rulers to ordinary citizens at par with the Hindus, thanks to the Queen’s Proclamation of 1858. Conversely, Hindus who had been subjects — their subjecthood rubbed in constantly by such degrading levies as jaziya — came at par with their Muslim rulers overnight.

The Muslim despondency at this parity with the Hindus is quite clear from the writings of one of the doyens of the community, Syed Ahmed Khan. In the aftermath of India’s First War of Independence in 1857, Khan absolved Muslims from any and all blame for the “rebellion” against the British. On the contrary, he indicted the Hindus.

Khan wrote: “Be it known that I am not an advocate of those Mohammadans who behaved undutifully and joined in the rebellion… because at that momentous crisis it was imperatively their duty, a duty enjoined by the precepts of our religion to identify themselves with the Christians and to espouse their cause…”

“...The Muslims were the main targets of the government’s wrath (in the aftermath of the events of 1857). The Indians (Hindus) in an outward pretence of loyalty to the Government were quite openly having their revenge on the Muslims,” Khan wrote in ‘The Causes Of The Indian Revolt’ published as early as 1858.

Cut to 1931. Why 1931? Because it was the year when Kanpur was engulfed by one of the most extraordinary Hindu-Muslim riots in Indian history. Ostensibly, the Congress gave a call for Kanpur bandh or a general hartal on 24 March in the wake of Bhagat Singh’s martyrdom. Young Congressmen tried to picket shops, including those owned by Muslims, and this caused the flare-up as Muslims reacted to coercion to close their businesses.

Yes, a hartal to commemorate Bhagat Singh became the core of Hindu-Muslim religious strife in Kanpur. According to the Congress’ own official inquiry committee that investigated the riots, the Muslims had been feeling unnerved at the end of the Civil Disobedience Movement as its perceived success with the British Raj was considered a Hindu victory. Since it was a Hindu victory, the Muslim community started organising Tanzeem. The Tanzeem movement was “no doubt to organise the Mohammadans in opposition to the Congress movement as an organisation of Hindus,” writes JF Sale, then distrct magistrate of Kanpur, the official inquiry report.

According to one Daya Ram Nigam, a Kanpur resident who deposed in front of the British inquiry committee on riots, “The tanzeemites had more of the look of a regular army of soldiers than of the servants of religion or of people… it had distinctly political bearing and was avowedly anti-Hindu”.

The result of this Muslim anxiety about the perceived ascendance of Hindus under the aegis of a rather unequivocally secular Congress leadership was communitarian strife that officially claimed some 300 lives, unofficially over 500.

The Direct Action Day that wreaked havoc in eastern India, especially Bengal, was yet another example of how the Muslim community shall react whenever it feels that loss of superiority over Hindus, whenever it thinks it is losing the match.

Cut to present. Since 2014, the Muslim electorate has ceased to be a political force. The political equation struck by the BJP with Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the head of it has shorn all political significance from what once was the king-making electorate. The recent Uttar Pradesh election, going a step ahead of the last one, has come to show that Muslim vote-bank politics is a non-starter. The drubbing of such parties that hankered after the Muslim vote as a bank has had a more telling effect on the overall political significance of this community.

Source: Firstpost

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When Sunil Dutt’s Family Was Saved By Muslim Man During Partition: ‘He Helped Us Escape’

April 27, 2022

Veteran actor-filmmaker Sunil Dutt, who appeared in films like Mother India, Gumraah, Waqt, Mera Saaya, among many other hits, was highly respected in the Hindi film industry. Father of actor Sanjay Dutt, Dutt saab, as he was fondly called by his peers, was very vocal about his personal struggles with his son, his time as a politician when Mumbai was going through a crisis in the 1990s, and would fondly speak about his childhood in what is Pakistan now, where he grew up. Recollecting one of the anecdotes from the time Dutt saab had once shared that during the Partition, his “entire family was saved by a Muslim.”

In an interview that he gave weeks before his death in 2005, the actor had spoken about the time when he got a chance to visit his childhood village in Pakistan and how it was a “really emotional moment” for him. Speaking to Lata Khubchandani for Rediff, he said, “I remember when I visited my village (in Pakistan) again after 50 years. I was invited by then prime minister Nawaz Sharif. He was very kind when I told him my desire to visit my village. He made all the arrangements for my visit.”

Sunil Dutt grew up in a village named Khurd near Jhelum city. The Hamraaz actor shared that his village welcomed him with open arms and remembered all of his family members. He even met people who were 10 years old at the time and were now in the 60s, and they still remembered his brother and mother. He shared that his village had more Muslims than Hindus but his family “lived in the village without any problem.”

“During Partition, my entire family was saved by a Muslim. His name was Yakub — a friend of my father’s who lived a mile-and-a-half away from our village. He helped us escape to the main city, Jhelum,” he recalled.

Sunil Dutt was married to actor Nargis, known for films like Awara, Shree 420, and Mother India. Nargis passed away in 1981 and he expressed that it was his deep desire that Nargis visit his village. “I was very keen that my wife (Nargis) should also see my village, how we went to school. I used to tell her stories about our life there. She was keen to go to Pakistan and see all this. Unfortunately, she couldn’t,” he said.

Source: Indian Express

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David Cameron accused of 'Islamophobia' after singling out Muslim critics of Prevent

By Areeb Ullah

26 April 2022

Campaigners have accused former UK Prime Minister David Cameron of Islamophobia after he singled out Muslim critics of the controversial Prevent strategy and said they were "enabling terrorism" in Britain by criticising the policy.

In a new report published by the right-wing thinktank Policy Exchange, Cameron said the UK government's failure to debunk criticisms of Prevent would "jeopardise" Britain's fight against extremism.

The report claims that Prevent faces a concerted campaign by allegedly fringe Muslim groups, including the Muslim Council of Britain, to undermine the policy.

John Jenkins, who Cameron appointed to conduct a 2014 review of the Muslim Brotherhood in the UK, is one of the key authors of the Policy Exchange report.

In the foreword of the report, Cameron defended his government's decision to establish the 2015 Counter-Terrorism and Security Act that made it mandatory for public bodies, including hospitals and schools, to report and refer anyone who showed signs of terrorism.

Cameron's intervention comes after UK Home Secretary Priti Patel said she wished to overhaul the Prevent scheme following the murder of Conservative MP David Amess.

For years, campaigners had called on the government to establish an independent review of the Prevent strategy and the government faced criticism when it appointed William Shawcross to conduct the inquiry.

Shawcross, who chaired the Charity Commission between 2012 and 2018, has faced criticism for his previous comments on Islam and has previously been accused of Islamophobia.

His review is due to be published later this year.

'Attempt to shut down criticism'

Among the Muslim groups accused of undermining the Prevent strategy are CAGE, the Muslim Council of Britain, the Federation of Student Islamic Societies, and the Muslim Engagement and Development (MEND) group.

The Policy Exchange Report also includes several opinion articles written in Middle East Eye that is critical of the Prevent Strategy.

MEND hit back at Cameron's comments and described it as a "blatant Islamophobic attack on Muslim critics of the Prevent strategy and the Shawcross review in the strategy".

"For Policy Exchange to claim that legitimate and well-founded critique of Prevent is an 'Islamist' and 'extremist' nonsense, and a thinly disguised and blatant attempt to shut down criticism from various Muslim groups and to deligitimise them," said MEND.

Muhammad Rabbani, managing director of CAGE UK, said Policy Exchange aimed to promote a "false reality of unopposed activists critiquing Prevent in order to explain away communities wholesale rejection of Prevent".

A spokesperson for the Muslim Council of Britain said, "Policy Exchange has consistently led efforts to discourage cooperation between the authorities and the MCB.

Source: Middle East Eye

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Twitter admits temporarily suspending Dutch far-right leader Geert Wilders


Twitter says it suspended Dutch far-right leader Geert Wilders "in error" after reports that he had violated the platform's rules on hate speech.

The social network admitted it had "temporarily restricted" Wilders' access to his account on Monday.

The move came after the Freedom Party (PVV) chairman had published a tweet addressed to Pakistan's Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, denouncing the "violence of the intolerant ideology called Islam".

Wilders had also claimed that the Pakistani citizens who have sent him death threats are "inspired by the fake prophet Mohammad".

The MP told Dutch media that has appealed the decision and refused to remove posts from his account. His Twitter profile was previously blocked in 2019 after he was accused of sowing online hatred.

Twitter has confirmed that it took "enforcement action" against the account "in error" and that access has since been restored.

"It is our top priority to keep everyone who uses Twitter safe and free from abuse," a spokesperson said.

"We continue to enforce our rules judiciously and impartially for all accounts that engage in behaviours that violate the Twitter Rules in line with our range of enforcement options."

The far-right party leader -- who lives under surveillance -- says he has frequently received threats since he called for a ban on Islam in the Netherlands and the closure of mosques.

In 2020, a Dutch appeals court upheld his conviction for insulting Moroccans in comments he made in 2014, although he was also acquitted of inciting discrimination.

Turkish prosecutors have also investigated Wilders over "insulting" tweets about President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.

Source: Euro News

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UK announces £25 million aid package for Somalia, supporting almost 1m people

April 26, 2022

LONDON: UK Minister for Africa Vicky Ford has announced a new £25 million ($31.4 million) aid package to provide vital services to almost a million people in Somalia, as the country teeters on the brink of widespread famine, the Foreign Office said on Tuesday.

Speaking at a roundtable event organized by UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, Ford announced the package of lifesaving food, water, nutrition and emergency health support and called on other international donors to step up.

“The UK is stepping up our support with an additional £25 million, taking our support to almost £40 million in 2022 alone,” Ford said. “After a quarter of a million people needlessly died from hunger in Somalia in 2011, we said never again. Now is the time for the international community to fulfill that commitment and stand with the people of Somalia.”

After three failed rainy seasons, approximately half the population require life-saving aid due to the ongoing drought, the UK Foreign Office said, adding forecasts suggest a fourth failed rain is likely. The UN estimate that there are pockets of famine in the county now, with more than one million people on the edge.

The minister also announced a groundbreaking partnership with Qatar, which will see the Qatari government invest $1.5 million with the UK toward the emergency response and resilience-building in Somalia.

On Monday, the Minister conducted a virtual visit to Baidoa in Somalia where the UK is supporting almost 120,000 people with food and water support. She met with representatives from the Norwegian Refugee Council, a UK partner on the ground, and heard from communities affected.

Source: Arab News

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Islamic Centre in Vienna to hold Quran, Adhan competition

April 27, 2022

A Quran and Adhan contest is planned at the Imam Ali (AS) Islamic Center in Vienna, Austria.

The competition will begin on Wednesday, April 27, and run for two days, according to the center.

It will be held in two sections for men and women in the categories of Quran recitation, Quran memorization and Adhan (call to prayer).

The Quran recitation category has two sub-categories of Tarteel and Tahqiq (imitation of famous qaris like Sheikh Mustafa Ismail).

In memorization, the adult participants will compete in memorization of one Juz (part) of the Quran and memorization of 25 Juzes, while memorization of 10 Juzes and 15 Juzes are for children and teenagers, respectively.

The center is organizing the Quranic event on the occasion of the holy month of Ramadan.

Initiated in 1992 by the Islamic Republic of Iran under the name of Islamic Culture Center, the center expanded its activities in 2000. A year later, it was officially registered and renamed to “Imam Ali (AS) Islamic Center Vienna”.

Since its establishment, the center has been actively trying to promote religious teachings as well as Islamic identity in the Austrian cross-cultural community.

In addition, it has made efforts to introduce the genuine face of Islam to non-Muslims in this European country.

Source: ABNA24

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North America


White House worried Iran could develop nuclear weapon in weeks

April 26, 2022

WASHINGTON: The White House is worried Iran could develop a nuclear weapon in weeks, press secretary Jen Psaki said on Tuesday, after Secretary of State Antony Blinken noted earlier in the day the country has accelerated its nuclear program.

“Yes it definitely worries us,” Psaki said, adding the time needed for Iran to produce a nuclear weapon is down from about a year.

Earlier, Blinken said the US still believes a return to a nuclear deal is the best path with Iran, amid a prolonged standoff in talks.

Facing criticism of the deal during an appearance before Congress, Blinken called the 2015 agreement imperfect but better than the alternatives.

“We continue to believe that getting back into compliance with the agreement would be the best way to address the nuclear challenge posed by Iran and to make sure that an Iran that is already acting with incredible aggression doesn’t have a nuclear weapon,” Blinken told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

“We’ve tested the other proposition, which was pulling out of the agreement, trying to exert more pressure,” he said.

The result, he said, is that the “breakout time” for Iran to develop a nuclear bomb if it so chooses is “down to a matter of weeks” after the deal pushed it beyond a year.

Former president Donald Trump pulled out of the agreement reached under his predecessor Barack Obama and instead imposed sweeping sanctions, including trying to stop other nations from buying Iranian oil.

President Joe Biden’s administration has been engaged in more than a year of indirect talks in Vienna on reviving the agreement, which had promised Iran a relief from sanctions in return for major restrictions on its nuclear work.

Source: Arab News

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US assured new govt wants to rejuvenate ties

Baqir Sajjad Syed

April 27, 2022

ISLAMABAD: Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Hina Rabbani Khar on Tuesday assured the United States that the new government intended to rejuvenate bilateral ties.

She was talking to US Charge d’affaires Angela Egler, who had called on her.

This was the first reported face-to-face meeting between the new government and US officials in Islamabad since Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif was elected following Imran Khan’s ouster through a vote of no confidence in the National Assembly.

Mr Khan had blamed the US for conspiring with local collaborators for his ouster. The former prime minister based his allegation on a cable received from Pakistan’s ambassador in Washington in which State Department official Donald Lu had, ahead of the submission of no-confidence motion by the then opposition, said that bilateral ties could suffer if Mr Khan survived the no-trust move.

The National Security Committee, which met on Friday, had rejected Mr Khan’s conspiracy allegations.

Ms Khar told the American diplomat that “Pakistan values its relations with the United States and seeks to further expand bilateral relations based on mutual respect, trust and equality”.

The meeting took place a day after FO Spokesman Asim Iftikhar at a media briefing had called for moving past the cablegate controversy so that ties with the United States, “a key partner”, could be taken forward.

Source: Dawn

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US wants deal with Iran, but it does ‘nothing’ to address missile program: Blinken

26 April ,2022

The top US diplomat continues to believe that reaching a nuclear deal with Iran is in the best interest of Washington, Secretary of State Antony Blinken told lawmakers on Tuesday.

Speaking to the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, Blinken was pressed on the Biden administration’s adamance on reviving the 2015 nuclear deal.

“We continue to believe that getting back into compliance with the agreement would be the best way to address the nuclear challenge imposed by Iran,” he said.

Blinken vowed to hold an open Iran hearing before Memorial Day, which falls at the end of May. “We will make sure that we get that done,” he said.

Blinken reiterated previous comments that the Biden administration inherited a “very challenging situation,” adding that there were “ramped up” Iranian escalations.

The secretary also claimed that Iran’s nuclear breakout time went from a year “to a matter of weeks” due to the US withdrawal from the deal. “Iran is acting with more destabilizing effect throughout the region,” he said.

However, Blinken admitted that the deal would “do nothing” to address Iran’s ballistic missile program or its support for destabilizing countries in the region.

The top US diplomat also admitted that there was an ongoing Iranian threat against the lives of American officials, “both present and past.”

Blinken also hit back at criticism of the deal, saying that if an agreement was reached, it would not take away from Washington’s ability to go after Iran using sanctions, interdictions, and stopping the money flow Tehran could use for weapons.

“When it comes to these activities, it would be worse if they had a nuclear weapon,” Blinken suggested.

The chairman of the Senate committee, Senator Bob Menendez, said the deal would not be in the best interest of the US.

Source: Al Arabiya

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South Asia


Bangladeshi Court Jails Islamist, Foyzul Hasan, For Life Over Attack On Top Writer, Muhammed Zafar Iqbal

Apr 26, 2022

DHAKA: A Bangladeshi court on Tuesday sentenced an Islamist to life in prison for attempting to kill a prominent secular writer and professor by stabbing him multiple times during a university seminar in 2018.

Muhammed Zafar Iqbal, a renowned science fiction writer and professor at the Shahjalal University of Science and Technology in the northern city of Sylhet, was stabbed six times in his head, neck and left hand in March 2018.

The Anti-Terrorism Special Tribunal in northeastern Sylhet sentenced 28-year-old convict Foyzul Hasan to life in prison, another to four years in jail and acquitted four others in the case over the murder attempt on writer Iqbal.

The verdict observed that accused Hasan was not linked with any extremist outfit but was influenced by jihadist literature and he believed that Iqbal mocked Solomon, one of the Biblical prophets also revered in Islam, in one of the books he wrote for children.

The 68-year old professor was a faculty of state-run Shahjalal University of Science and Technology (SUST) when he was attacked on the campus of the same university by Hasan, who was a resident of an area adjacent to the university.

Hasan, who was a former student of a traditional Islamic seminary, was captured by students immediately after the attack and severely beaten up by the angry students.

A recipient of Bangladesh's top literary prize, the Bangla Academy Award, in 2004, Iqbal is known for his secular activism and science fiction writings, novels and newspaper columns on social issues, particularly criticising religious extremism and corruptions.

The judge said Hasan believed a children's book written by Iqbal mocked and defamed Solomon, one of the Biblical prophets also revered in Islam.

"Blindness gripped those who carry out such attacks," Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina had said soon after the attack and urged Bangladeshis to remain alert to the threat of extremism. Hasan stabbed Iqbal on the head, back and left hand. Iqbal was immediately rushed to a local hospital and later was flown to a military hospital in Dhaka for better treatment.

The professor, who also studied and taught in universities in the United States, is a bestselling author and celebrity speaker who regularly appears on campuses nationwide also to motivate youth about education and values as a longstanding champion of free speech and secularism.

"He (Hasan) told us that it was his duty as a Muslim to resist those who work against Islam (and) Dr Zafar Iqbal was an enemy of Islam," said Colonel Ali Haider Azad Ahmed of elite anti-crime Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) at that time.

Source: Times Of India

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ISIS, Not a Threat, It’s eliminated in Afghanistan: MoI

27 Apr 2022

Ministry of Interior Affairs of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan announced that the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) or Daesh has been eliminated by up to 98 percent in Afghanistan and is no more a threat.

The Ministry in a Twitter post on Tuesday, April 26, 2022, said that despite the elimination of the phenomenon-ISIS, the security forces are still busy fighting the terrorists to root out their last and only hideouts.

“The phenomenon called Daesh has been eliminated up to 98 percent in Afghanistan and is no more a serious threat. Security forces are still trying to eliminate the last and only hideouts of the heinous phenomenon.” Reads the Twitter post.

The Ministry further added that concerns of the neighboring countries in terms of ISIS’s threat from Afghanistan are not serious.

Source: Khaama Press

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Taliban’s promises to protect Afghan minorities falling apart amid a spate of attacks: Report

26 April, 2022

Kabul [Afghanistan], April 26 (ANI): With a spate of attacks in minority-dominated areas of Afghanistan in recent weeks, the assurances that the Taliban regime gave to the world after the takeover of Kabul in August last year seem to be falling apart, a media report said.

The series of attacks in the last few days all over Afghanistan killed at least 77 people, including children, the Frontier Post reported.

The devastating attacks are further destabilizing a nation already in economic free fall and further increase doubt that the Taliban can protect the Afghan people — especially minorities — from violence and terror, the report said.

The attacks started last Tuesday, with double bombings at the Abdul Rahim Shaheed High School and in the vicinity of the Mumtaz Education Center, both in the capital Kabul, the report said, adding that there were at least six deaths and 17 injuries at the Abdul Rahim Shaheed High School in the predominantly Shia and Hazara Dasht-e-Barchi neighbourhood.

Attacks continued, with a bombing at a Shia mosque in Mazar-e-Sharif, in northern Afghanistan that was claimed by the Islamic State-Khorasan (ISIS-K). The attack killed at least 31 people and injured many more, the report said citing Washington Post.

ISIS-K said that the bomb was in a bag that was left in the mosque; it exploded when the mosque was filled with worshippers.

“When the mosque was filled with prayers, the explosives were detonated remotely,” the ISIS-K statement claimed, also alleging that 100 worshippers were injured.

Around the same time, ISIS-K attacked a bus in Kunduz province, killing four and injuring 18, the report said.

This week’s attacks indicate that the Taliban either doesn’t have as much control over the security situation in Afghanistan as the leadership had indicated it would after US and NATO forces left the country in August, or isn’t particularly interested in providing protection to minorities, the report said.

It doesn’t help matters that the country is facing destabilization wrought by economic sanctions against Taliban leaders, coupled with the Taliban’s persecution of women, journalists, human rights workers, and other groups, the report further said.

The Taliban has a history of targeting Afghanistan’s Shias, however, the group agreed in the lead-up to its takeover that minorities would be protected under a new Taliban government.

The Hazara, an ethnic minority group that mostly practices Shia Islam, has been historically marginalized, with few opportunities for education or employment. They are Afghanistan’s third-largest ethnic group, behind Pashtuns and Tajiks.

While the Taliban has said it would not interfere with Shia worship and will protect all ethnic groups, the group is responsible for the deaths of dozens of Hazara over the past eight months, as well as mass forced displacements of Hazara people, the report said.

“When the Taliban are pushed on issues of rights and economic well-being of the Afghan people, they push back by touting their ability to provide security for all Afghans, including minorities,” Asfandyar Mir, a senior expert at the US Institute of Peace was quoted as saying.

“Yet under the Taliban, vulnerable minorities — in particular the Hazara — continue to be one of the main targets of violence. This is a source of enormous insecurity and raises questions about the Taliban’s ability to provide security in general and against minorities in particular,” Mir further said.

Source: The Print

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Pakistan toasted brotherly Taliban’s takeover but why they are bombing each other

Darpan Singh

April 26, 2022

On August 15, 2021, armed Taliban militants posed at President Ashraf Ghani’s adorned desk in the Afghan presidential palace. Ironically, hanging on the wall behind them was a painting of Sufi mystic Sabir Shah crowning a kneeling Amad Shah Durrani, regarded as the modern Afghan founder.

While the world expressed shock over the astonishingly swift fall of Kabul, prominent Pakistanis raised a toast. They included political parties, senior journalists and retired generals. But none as overtly as Pakistan’s then Prime Minister Imran Khan who said “the Afghans have broken the shackles of slavery.” One of his ministers even said India has got an appropriate gift for its Independence Day.

Pakistan had always backed the Taliban. This continued even when Pakistan supported America’s war on terror in Afghanistan after 9/11. Pakistan’s backing, now more covert, for the Taliban only deepened as India became a close ally of non-Taliban governments after 2001. The Taliban’s return would not only install a friendly government in Kabul but also deal a blow to arch-rival India.

So, now the Taliban are running Afghanistan. “Breaking the shackles of slavery”, they have reversed a decision to allow Afghan girls to return to high schools. Government employees have been told not to shave their beards and to wear local clothing and pray at correct times. But what has also stood out is this: The border between Pakistan and Afghanistan is on fire. Sample some of these incidents from April 2022.

About 50 people, including 20 children, were killed in Afghanistan’s Kunar and Khost provinces in airstrikes that the Taliban said were carried out by Pakistan.

Taliban warned Pakistan of war after five children and a woman were killed in Afghanistan’s Shelton in rocket attacks along the border.

Seven Pakistani soldiers were killed in an ambush by an armed group near the Afghan border.

Fighters in Afghanistan fired heavy weapons across the border into a Pakistani military outpost and killed three troops.

All this followed a fight between Talibani and Pakistani forces in Kandahar’s Spin Boldak district that left 20 wounded and 3 dead, and another clash in which five Pakistani soldiers were killed in Khurram district.

Afghanistan’s acting defence minister said on April 24 that the Taliban administration would not tolerate “the next invasion by Pakistan.” This was after The Taliban called in Pakistan’s ambassador to protest the strikes.

Pakistan’s foreign office spokesperson said Pakistan and Afghanistan are brotherly countries who regard terrorism as a serious threat and that Pakistan hopes for long-term engagement with Afghanistan to secure peace.


But why are the "brotherly" sides fighting? Pakistan clashed at the border with soldiers of even the US-backed Afghan governments. When Kabul fell, Pakistan thought this would change. Pakistan also thought the Taliban would control its ideological offshoot Tehreek-e-Taliban-Pakistan (TTP), a terror group that's been trying to establish an Islamic caliphate in Islamabad.

Both were wrong assumptions. Since August 15, 2021, Taliban fighters have more frequently clashed with Pakistani soldiers, often fatally, along the 1893 Durand Line (created by British diplomat Mortimer Durand after whom India's football tournament, Durand Cup, is named) that the former does not recognise. TTP has stepped up terror attacks in Pakistan. In response, Pakistan’s military has ramped up operations. 128 armed fighters have been killed since January 2022. The number of soldiers dead during this period is 100.


Let’s first understand the boundary question. The Taliban object to Pakistan’s fencing work on the Afghanistan-Pakistan border that “separates the ethnic Pashtuns living on both sides.” While the Afghan governments have disputed the border since Pakistan’s formation in 1947, the Taliban’s objection could also be from their desire to assert that they are not Pakistan’s proxy.

Espousing the Pashtun cause may also earn the Taliban legitimacy from Afghanistan’s largest ethnic group. Fencing anyway pricks the Taliban because a generation from its community grew up in Pakistan’s refugee camps, and now they have businesses and family there. Last but not least: the fencing work also impedes drug and human trafficking Afghanistan thrives on. On record, however, Pakistan and the Taliban have pledged to resolve the dispute through talks.


Anti-Pakistan sentiments are also high in Afghanistan because many see Islamabad as the primary driver of instability. After each act of hostility, hundreds of civilians can be seen pouring into Afghanistan’s streets chanting anti-Pakistan slogans.


The US withdrawal from Afghanistan also has a role in what is happening. America's longest war ended after billions of dollars spent and thousands of lives lost. The war ended as it began, with the Taliban ruling Afghanistan. And that also seems to have emboldened TTP. Till March this year, terrorists attacked targets in Pakistan 52 times and killed over 150 people. As for the border clashes, the US withdrawal also seems to have made the Taliban hungrier to shake off the tag of Pakistan’s proxy.

There are operational factors, too. When the US was waging its war on terror in Afghanistan, Pakistan shared intelligence on militants for American forces to target them with drone strikes. Now Pakistan has to do it on its own, given the Taliban’s response. The Taliban are not ready to disown TTP. Both groups share more or less the same ideology.


The ouster of Imran Khan as Pakistan’s prime minister may also be playing a role in the current scenario. He had closer ties with the Taliban while maintaining his anti-US rhetoric. Imran Khan had even reached an agreement for a ceasefire with TTP in November last year. On the contrary, his successor, Shehbaz Sharif, has vowed to improve relations with the US and crack down on terrorists.


So, what comes next? Shehbaz Sharif has said Islamabad would “continue fighting terrorism”. Pakistan’s military has said it would continue operations to eliminate TTP that operates across the border between the two countries and has killed more than 70,000 people over the past few decades in Pakistan. The Taliban have warned of retaliation against Pakistan’s border raids.

There was a time when Pakistan said the Afghan Taliban was good Taliban and the Pakistan Taliban was bad Taliban. But what Pakistan missed was both are ideological brothers. And from being an asset, the Taliban as a whole are fast becoming a liability for Pakistan.

Source: India Today

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Taliban Might Get Recognized If They Form Inclusive Government: Lavrov

27 Apr 2022

Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said that the interim government of the Taliban might be recognized by Russia if they ensure inclusivity in their government.

Sergey Lavrov said that Russia is ready to work diplomatically with the new Afghan government but added that the Taliban should meet their pledges and establish an all-inclusive government both from an ethnic point of view and sectarian.

The Russian Foreign Minister made the remarks at a news briefing with the UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres in Moscow on Tuesday.

“Our next move depends on the decisions of the Taliban if they are able to set up an inclusive government. We are also cooperative with former Afghan president Hamid Karzai and head of former National Council of Peace and Reconciliation Abdullah Abdullah.” Lavrov said.

Further, Lavrov added that they (Russia) encourage Hamid Karzai and Abdullah Abdullah not to end negotiations with the Taliban and continue talks with them.

He said that Russia is in constant contact with the Taliban Russia which ensures political and economic relations.

Source: Khaama Press

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Netherlands Announces EUR 20 Million to Afghanistan

27 Apr 2022

The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA) in Afghanistan announced that the Netherlands has contributed an additional EUR 20 million for humanitarian purposes in Afghanistan.

The UNOCHA in a Twitter post on Tuesday, April 26, 2022, said that the money will be supporting emergency life-saving responses to assist the most vulnerable people in need in Afghanistan.

As per the UN office, the Netherlands has contributed EUR 49 million to the Afghanistan humanitarian fund since 2016.

Source: Khaama Press

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Arab World


Shia Lebanese man who posed as Jew says he hopes he would have 'right to kill' Hezbollah leader

26 April, 2022

A Lebanese Shia Muslim man who was exposed for impersonating an ultra-Orthodox Jew to get married has expressed regret, saying he wants to "rectify" the situation by actually converting to Judaism

Speaking to Israel’s Kan public broadcaster on Monday, Eliyah Hawila also addressed concerns that he is associated with Lebanon's Hezbollah movement and its affiliates.

"I tell them I’m not on your side. To hell with [Hassan] Nasrallah and [Speaker of the Lebanese Parliament Nabih] Berri and their antisemitism," he said. "I’m not afraid and I curse them and I say here in front of the cameras that I hope I will have the right to kill Nasrallah myself," he added.

Hawila, born Ali Hassan Hawila in mainly Shia southern Lebanon, reportedly lied about his identity to his Jewish wife, who he married in the US.

Her family found documents that belonged to him bearing a different name two weeks after the wedding.

His true identity sparked outrage among Jewish communities, who fear that Hawila might have been a spy and was working for a "terror group," such as Iranian-backed Hezbollah, which has previously fought several wars with Israel.

Rabbis have also expressed indignation that he managed to use deception in order to marry a Jewish woman.

Hawila, who is now in Israel and wants to convert to Judaism, told Kan that he wanted to "rectify" the situation after lying to his wife and others about his true identity.

Source: The New Arab

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Egypt imposes 'paranoid' Ramadan and Eid restrictions on prayers and spiritual retreats

26 April 2022

Egypt has imposed tight restrictions on Muslim congregational prayers in the holy month of Ramadan and Eid citing Covid-19 rules, triggering widespread anger in the populous Muslim-majority country.

The restrictions include limiting night prayers to 30 minutes and banning spiritual retreats commonly held overnight at mosques during the last 10 days of Ramadan, which ends on Sunday.

The government will also ban Eid prayers in open spaces, and will only allow them to be held in a select number of mosques, with imams approved by the government and a single state-sanctioned sermon.

Eid and night prayers during the holy month in Egypt are usually busy, with even the less devout attending ceremonies.

The ministry of religious affairs announced the controversial decision in mid-April, saying it was to prevent the spread of Covid-19.

Health officials, however, have said the pandemic is in significant decline in Egypt, and no distancing restrictions are imposed on other social activities.

Videos and photos of government-appointed imams shutting down mosques and taking photos of themselves after closure of gates have been widely denounced as unjustified, given the lack of any similar restrictions on public gatherings, including concerts and football matches.

Many have attributed the decisions to the government’s fear of large gatherings that could turn into protests as the country suffers an unprecedented economic crisis.

“The Egyptian government is paranoid of any gatherings, including religious ones,” said Essam Telaima, an Egyptian religious researcher and former government-appointed imam.

“The restrictions are mainly aimed at preventing anti-government protests,” he told Middle East Eye. Telaima added that “it is ironic that the government banned the outdoor Eid prayers but allowed the indoor ones, citing Covid-19 precautionary measures, although holding prayers in open spaces is safer”.

While the initial decision included banning late-night prayers, called Tahajjud in Arabic, a popular backlash led the ministry to announce on Monday that it will allow it only on the last three nights of Ramadan - and only in certain major mosques.

Source: Middle East Eye

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Saudi Arabia, France partner to provide $76 million in humanitarian aid to Lebanon

27 April ,2022

Saudi Arabia’s King Salman Center for Relief and Humanitarian Action (KSrelief) signed an MoU with the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the French Agency for Development (AFD) to support humanitarian work in Lebanon, the official Saudi Press Agency reported on Wednesday.

The combined $76 million aid came to be under the framework of the Saudi-French partnership.

The agreement was signed by a KSrelief department director Mubarak bin Saeed al-Dossari, the French Ambassador to Lebanon Anne Griot, and the AFD Director in Lebanon Gilles Gran-Pierre.

The first phase of aid will include aid in “food, nutrition and health,” SPA reported.

Earlier this month, Lebanon signed a staff-level agreement with the International Monetary Fund for a 46-month extended fund facility, under which Lebanon has requested access to the equivalent of around $3 billion.

But access to those funds is contingent on enacting a slew of economic reforms and financial sector restructuring.

The currency has lost more than 90 percent of its value, and more than 80 percent of the population now lives below the poverty line.

With the government too poor to afford imports of basic commodities such as medicines, many are struggling to source lifesaving drugs, including those used to treat chronic illnesses.

According to a UNICEF report, more than 50 percent of families were unable to obtain the medicines they needed and at least 58 percent of hospitals reported drug shortages.

Making matters worse, the financial crash has sparked an exodus of healthcare professionals. According to UNICEF, 40 percent of doctors and 30 percent of midwives have left the country.

Saudi Arabia’s aid comes after ties between Lebanon and the Kingdom began to recover following corrective measures applied by Beirut.

Critical comments made by former Information Minister George Kordahi on the war in Yemen in October 2021 led the expulsion of Lebanon’s envoy to the Kingdom, recalling its ambassador and banning all imports from Lebanon, dealing a new blow to the country’s ailing economy.

Other Gulf states that are historical allies of Lebanon, including the United Arab Emirates and Kuwait, took similar punitive diplomatic measures.

Source: Al Arabiya

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Fears grow over negative impact of Hezbollah victory in Lebanon elections

27 April ,2022

Former Prime Minister Fouad Siniora has warned that Lebanon will be deprived of promised regional and international aid if Hezbollah and its allies control the country by winning a parliamentary majority in the elections set for May 15.

“There are no signs that Arab and international aid will be forthcoming if Hezbollah continues to control Lebanon,” Siniora told Al Arabiya English on Monday.

In another statement carried earlier in the day by Lebanon’s state-run National News Agency, Siniora, a harsh critic of Hezbollah, said: “What does it mean if Hezbollah and its allies gain a majority in Parliament? Amid Hezbollah’s control [of Parliament], will there be a possibility for any salvation, reforms, and Lebanon’s recovery after it was pushed into this deep abyss: a kidnapped state, a fully collapsing economy, the threat of depositors losing their money and the need for reforms in all aspects of life such as electricity, water, food, medicine and education? Definitely, no.”

“With the expansion of the control of Hezbollah and the sectarian and confessional parties allied with it, this will be at the expense of the Lebanese state and its institutions, which will lead to the continued implementation of Iran’s agenda in the region. In this case, there will be no aid and no Arab or international support,” Siniora added.

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Although he is not running in the upcoming polls, Siniora is supporting an 11-member electoral list that will compete to gain mainly Sunni seats in parliament in the Beirut district after former Prime Minister Saad Hariri decided to remove himself from political life.

A professor of economics and international relations agreed with Siniora, warning that an election victory for Hezbollah and its allies will further complicate the Lebanese crises and impede efforts for the country’s economic rescue.

“A victory by Hezbollah and its allies in the elections is bound to block the road to the possibility of Lebanon’s economic salvation. Consequently, the situation will continue to deteriorate and Lebanon will no longer exist on the map because the economic collapse means the state’s inability to survive, while it is already unable to survive,” Dr. Sami Nader, a professor of economics and international relations at Universite St. Joseph in Beirut, told Al Arabiya English.

“When a central authority collapses, the entire country heads toward disintegration. Frankly speaking, Hezbollah’s victory will further complicate the situation in Lebanon,” said Nader, who is also the director of the Levant Institute for Strategic Affairs, a Beirut-based think tank.

The concern over the outcome of the elections comes as Lebanon’s embattled government, grappling with a series of crises, received a new lease of life from two positive developments earlier this month, raising hopes for the country to begin emerging from its deepest economic depression.

First, Gulf Arab states announced their intention to restore ties with Lebanon, ending a five-month boycott. Then a preliminary agreement with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) was signed which should lead to a bailout program to rescue the country’s crumbling economy burdened with over $90 billion in public debt.

Yet, it remains to be seen whether Lebanon will fulfill its obligations by implementing long-overdue reforms demanded by the IMF and international donors as a condition for unlocking billions of dollars in promised aid.

These developments come amid a warning by Hezbollah that moves are afoot to delay the elections to prevent it from gaining a majority in the next parliament.

In a televised speech earlier this month, Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hasan Nasrallah claimed that results of surveys conducted by polling companies indicated that the group and its allies would retain the majority they currently hold in the outgoing parliament.

Nasrallah went on to accuse the US and other foreign embassies in Beirut of seeking to “disrupt” the elections by delaying them for several months. It’s in the hope that the Future Movement bloc, with the largest Sunni representation in Parliament, will review its decision not to field candidates or participate in the polls deemed “crucial” by the international community and most of the Lebanese people, he claimed.

Lebanon is reeling from the worst monetary slump in the country’s history following the collapse of the economy and banking sector. There is hope that the elections will bring political change to steer the nation out of the economic crisis, described by the World Bank as one of the world’s worst since the 1850s. It is posing the gravest threat to its stability since the 1975-90 Civil War.

But, according to a professor of political science at the American University of Beirut, the elections’ outcome will not change anything.

“When it comes to Lebanon, expect the unexpected, even though I do not think the elections will be postponed. Sayyid Hasan Nasrallah is probably warning about postponing the elections to prod Shia voters to go to the polls in large numbers.” Dr. Hilal Khashan explained to Al Arabiya English.

He added that the polls will not solve the key problems from which Gulf Arab states have been complaining, namely Hezbollah’s growing influence in Lebanon and its intervention in regional conflicts.

“Hezbollah and its allies already control the Parliament. Even in the unlikely event that Hezbollah and its allies do not win a parliamentary majority, nothing will change in Lebanon,” Khashan said. “Lebanese politics is not determined in the parliament, which is only a rubber stamp for cabinet compromises and accommodation. I do not see the elections as providing a panacea for Lebanon and its financial collapse. The elections will not resolve the key issues that the Gulf countries have against Hezbollah - its military component and ties with Iran,” he added.

Source: Al Arabiya

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Israeli missile strike on Damascus kills nine people: Report

27 April ,2022

At least five Syrian soldiers were among nine people killed in Israeli air strikes near Damascus, in the deadliest such raid this year, a war monitor said on Wednesday.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said an ammunition depot and several positions linked to Iran’s military presence in Syria were among the targets.

Air defenses intercepted an Israeli missile strike near the capital, state media reported earlier on Wednesday.

“Our air defenses confronted an Israeli aggression over the outskirts of Damascus,” the SANA news agency said.

AFP correspondents in the Syrian capital said they heard loud explosions.

Since civil war broke out in Syria in 2011, Israel has carried out hundreds of air strikes inside the country, targeting government positions as well as allied Iran-backed forces and fighters of Lebanon’s Shia militant group Hezbollah.

While Israel rarely comments on individual strikes, it has acknowledged mounting hundreds since 2011.

Source: Al Arabiya

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Suicide bomber kills two Iraqi troops during anti-ISIS raid

26 April ,2022

Two Iraqi soldiers were killed Tuesday when a suicide bomber blew himself up during an army raid targeting ISIS north of Baghdad, security sources said.

A trapped militant “detonated his explosives belt, killing a major and another soldier, also wounding three others,” an interior ministry source told AFP, asking not to be named.

A second extremist was killed when he also tried to set off a suicide bomb in the army operation in the rural area of Tarmiya, the source said.

ISIS overran large swathes of Iraq and neighboring Syria in 2014 before Baghdad declared victory in late 2017 after a grinding campaign.

But low-level extremism has persisted, particularly in rural areas north of Baghdad around the city of Kirkuk and in the eastern provinces of Diyala and Salaheddin.

On Tuesday, Iraqi military command spokesman Yahya Rassoul said “43 ISIS elements” had been killed in a recent operation in the northern province of Niniveh, of which the former Mosul is the capital.

Source: Al Arabiya

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Lenderking cautiously optimistic over Yemen, calls out Iran’s support for Houthis

27 April ,2022

US Special Envoy for Yemen Tim Lenderking voiced cautious optimism for efforts to end the seven-year-long war on Tuesday but warned that “there’s more that needs to be done.”

Lenderking, one of US President Joe Biden’s first appointments, recently returned from a three-week trip to the region. Since last year, he has been involved in shuttle diplomacy as the Biden administration doubled down on US efforts to help reach a ceasefire in Yemen.

Lenderking met with newly appointed officials in Yemen’s Presidential Leadership Council during his most recent trip.

“I do think that the opportunity of a new presidential leadership council creates a more representative approach,” Lenderking told Al Arabiya during an interview at the State Department.

The leadership council has brought together several individuals who “have heated rivalry,” Lenderking said.

He added: “So far, it looks very promising to us when you couple that with the fact that there’s a truce since April 2. I think this is really a significant moment for Yemen.”

The US diplomat was referring to the ceasefire that was reached at the start of Ramadan between the internationally-recognized government and the Iran-backed Houthis.

Iran is playing a destabilizing role

Lenderking criticized Iran for its negative role in Yemen and its support for the Houthis.

He said that the US was all for a better relationship with Iran, but “thus far, we haven’t seen positive behavior from Iran in Yemen.”

Tehran has released statements supporting political efforts to end the war. “We need to see that translated on the ground by Iran,” Lenderking said.

Asked about Iran’s military support for the Houthis, Lenderking said: “That support has inflamed the war in the view of the United States.”

He called on the Houthis to take the needed independent steps to help the Yemeni people. “That’s the case with the Yemeni leadership, also, that we want to see about decision-making that is oriented toward providing services… and addressing really tangible needs.”

The Houthis continue to detain 13 individuals who are or were employees at the US Embassy in Yemen, Lenderking revealed. “They keep telling us that [their detention] is not aimed at us, but it’s pretty hard to believe that.”

The Biden administration removed the Houthis from the US terror blacklist in one of its first foreign policy moves last year.

But after the group repeatedly attacked Saudi Arabia, the UAE and civilians inside Yemen, the US president said he was considering re-designating the group.

Lenderking defended the move as being carried out for humanitarian reasons.

Source: Al Arabiya

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Iran slams illegal foreign presence in Syria, says war on terror must not be used as pretext

27 April 2022

Iran’s ambassador to the United Nations has censured the “illegal presence” of foreign forces in Syria, stating that the war on terrorism must not be used as a pretext to undermine Syria’s sovereignty.

Addressing the UN Security Council on Tuesday, Majid Takht-Ravanchi reiterated Tehran’s call for the withdrawal of foreign forces from the Arab country, saying their plundering of Syria’s natural resources, particularly oil and agricultural products, must come to an end.

“This criminal act not only violates Syrian territorial sovereignty, relevant Security Council resolutions, and the United Nations Charter, but also has a negative impact on efforts and measures aimed at restoring the Syrian economy,” he said.

He stressed that the war against terrorism must not be used to undermine Syria’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.

“After more than a decade of conflict in Syria, it has become evident that only one solution exists: a Syrian-led, Syrian-owned political process facilitated by the United Nations,” Takht-Ravanchi said.

He added that Iran supports the continuation of inter-Syrian talks in Geneva and welcomes the convening of the Constitutional Committee’s seventh session.

The Iranian ambassador also strongly condemned Israel’s repeated violations of Syria’s sovereignty and territorial integrity and called on the Security Council to hold the Tel Aviv regime accountable for such acts of aggression.

Since a foreign-backed conflict erupted in the Arab country in 2011, Israel has been mounting attacks on Syrian soil for several years, targeting government positions as well as resistance forces that have been fighting the Daesh and other terrorist groups.

The Damascus government has on numerous occasions condemned Israeli airstrikes as well as the illegal presence of American and Turkish forces in the country, which both Washington and Ankara claim aims at fighting terrorism.

Since its onset, the Syrian conflict has killed nearly half a million people and displaced around half of the country’s population.

Speaking at the Tuesday meeting of the Security Council, Syria’s delegate underscored that ending the illegal presence of the United States, Turkey, and Israel in his country will help eliminate the terrorist presence, end all forms of displacement, restore Syrian national economic resources and improve the humanitarian and living situation in the country.

“The United States and its Western allies continue to obstruct the delivery of cross-line aid within Syrian territory to justify their continued violation of Syria’s sovereignty through the so-called cross-border aid mechanism that serves as a lifeline for terrorists,” the Syrian envoy added.

Source: Press TV

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Resistance leaders vow to stand by al-Quds, blast Israeli barbarity

26 April 2022

Muslim leaders, officials, and personalities from across the regional resistance axis and beyond take to the “al-Quds Podium” to denounce the Israeli regime over its sheer escalation of violence against Palestinians in the holy occupied city of al-Quds.

The leaders partook in the multinational event via video conference on Tuesday amid the occupying regime’s ramped-up daily attacks on Palestinian worshipers at the al-Aqsa Mosque’s compound in al-Quds’ Old City.

Addressing the event as its first keynote speaker, Ziyad al-Nakhalah, head of the Gaza Strip-based resistance movement of Islamic Jihad, vowed, “We will never retreat and compromise until we achieve victory,” adding that the resistance’s fighters enjoyed presence across the entire Palestinian territories.

“Al-Quds is ours. Al-Quds will never bow down and surrender to aggressors, murderers, and the dregs of history,” he added.

He also hailed the approaching prospect of the International Quds Day, whereby people rally across the world in support of the Palestinian cause of liberation from Israeli aggression and occupation. The occasion, which has been named so by the late founder of the Islamic Republic, Imam Khomeini, falls on the last Friday of Ramadan every year.

“Iran too stands by Palestine’s liberation with all its might and commitment,” Nakhalah added.

‘Resistance Palestine’s option of choice’

Ismail Haniyeh, head of the Gaza-based resistance movement of Hamas’ Political Bureau, specified the Palestinian nation’s option of choice as resistance, saying the successful Palestinian operations that had taken place throughout the occupied West Bank since the start of Ramadan had proven this.

Therefore, he added, such issues as the occupation and Palestinians’ right to return to their homeland “cannot be resolved at the negotiation table.”

Realizing this, the occupying regime began normalizing its relations with some regional states to “legitimize its existence and its designs for destruction of the Palestinian cause,” Haniyeh said.

Tel Aviv was also trying to use the conflict in Ukraine as a smokescreen for its plans for al-Quds and the al-Aqsa Mosque, Haniyeh noted.

“However, all of the regime’s efforts at harnessing the Palestinian nation have been faced with defeat,” he said, adding, “Our nation does not brook distortion of the al-Aqsa Mosque’s identity and the historical facts that pertain to it.”

'Israeli regime heading for dustbin of history’

Bahrain's most prominent Shia cleric Sheikh Isa Qassim said the al-Aqsa Mosque and al-Quds had been afflicted with the most dangerous and savage instance of Zionist animosity, which translates into “the biggest threat to the mosque’s “holiness and divine status.”

However, Israel is a moribund regime, “whose destiny is nothing but the dustbin of history,” he said.

Sheikh Qassim said the entire Muslim community should denounce and stop the trend of compromise with the regime, referring to some regional regimes’ United States-aided normalization with Tel Aviv.

Sheikh Qassim urged that the upcoming International Quds Day be seized upon as an opportunity, whereby “the pain suffered by al-Quds” is broadcast to the whole world.

‘Iraqi resistance ready for Palestine’s liberation’

Hadi al-Ameri, the head of the Fatah (Conquest) Alliance in Iraq's parliament, said, “Palestine’s occupation is an atrocity that should be stopped,” describing al-Quds’ situation as a “deep wound afflicted to the international Muslim Ummah (Nation)’s heart.”

“Iraq’s resistance groups are ready for Palestine’s liberation,” he announced, adding that the Arab country’s nation and religious authorities would stand by al-Quds and the cause of Palestine’s liberation.

Ameri urged the world’s Muslim community to “mobilize all of its might and force” in support of Palestine during the International Quds Day.

‘Defending al-Quds a Muslim duty’

Abdul-Malik al-Houthi, leader of the Yemeni popular resistance movement of Ansarullah, called defending al-Quds a Muslim duty.

“The Palestinian nation is part of the Muslim Nation and this nation should not ignore it.”

The Yemeni people, he added, stands steadfast in support of its “obvious stance of purging Palestine” of Zionist presence.

‘Resistance standing on verge of victory’

Secretary-General of the Lebanese resistance movement of Hezbollah Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah noted the resistance’s “back-to-back” victories against the occupying regime.

“Today, we’re standing on the verge of great and final victory,” he said, declaring that the resistance axis is prepared to make whatever sacrifices that are necessary to realize the prospect.

“Al-Quds is our model and goal,” he said, and urged that the resistance axis be rather called “the al-Quds axis” due to the centrality of the holy city to unity among the axis’ members.

Source: Press TV

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Leader Criticizes Muslim Govts. For ‘Acting Poorly’ Vis-À-Vis Palestine

26 April 2022

Ahead of the upcoming International Quds Day, Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei has criticized Muslim governments for “acting very poorly” in defending the Palestinian cause against Israeli occupation.

Ayatollah Khamenei made the remarks in a meeting with a group of university students and representatives of student associations in Tehran on Tuesday.

The Leader took the Muslim countries to task for normalizing relations with the Israeli regime, describing the move as a “big mistake.”

“Unfortunately, Muslim governments are acting very badly [vis-à-vis Palestine] and are not even willing to talk about the Palestinian issue. Some of them imagine that establishing relations with the Zionists is the way to help Palestine, while this is a big mistake,” the Leader stated.

Ayatollah Khamenei said such normalization would bear no fruit even for the Tel Aviv regime, expressing hope that the Palestinian people will soon regain their territories and liberate the al-Aqsa Mosque from Israeli occupation.

The Leader hailed the “oppressed but powerful” Palestinian people who have been preventing the Palestinian issue from sinking into oblivion through their resistance and sacrifices.

'Quds Day an opportunity to sympathize with Palestine'

“The Quds Day is an appropriate opportunity to express sympathy and solidarity with the oppressed people of Palestine,” the Leader said.

‘Ukraine war must be viewed more deeply’

Elsewhere in his remarks, the Leader also drew attention to a new world order being formed, under which the United States has been losing power continuously.

“Today, the world is on the threshold of a new international order that has been in the making following the era of a global bipolar order and the theory of a unipolar world order, during which America has, of course, been growing weaker day by day,” the Leader said.

Ayatollah Khamenei further stressed the importance of developing a deeper view point to the conflict in Ukraine within the framework of the new order emerging in the world.

“The events of the recent war in Ukraine must be viewed more deeply and in the context of the formation of a new world order which will probably be followed by complex and difficult processes,” the Leader stated.

Source: Press TV

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Spokesman: Iran Hopes Talks with Saudi Arabia Enhance Regional Security


The fifth round of talks between Iran and Saudi Arabia has been positive, Khatibzadeh said.

He expressed the hope that the negotiations would enhance security and stability of the regional countries.

Khatibzadeh said this idea that talks between Saudi Arabia and Iran will help de-escalation in the region is naturally correct, adding that both states are important countries in the Persian Gulf region, which have impacts on trans-regional developments.

He did not confirm claims that the issue of Yemen is a hurdle in Saudi-Iran talks, adding that Yemen is one of important issues in the region; so, it is normal that Riyadh and Tehran hold talks on regional topics.

In relevant remarks on Monday, Khatibzadeh had pointed to the fifth round of talks between Iran and Saudi Arabia which was held in Baghdad, terming it positive.

"The talks were serious. We can expect to see serious progress quickly in the various areas if the talks have some progress at the political level."

Source: Fars News Agency

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Iran's President Warns of Negligence of Afghanistan Crisis in Light of Ukraine War


“The US and NATO presence in Afghanistan meant nothing more than destruction and killing, and it did not provide security for Afghanistan or the region,” Rayeesi said in a meeting with Latvia’s new ambassador to Tehran on Monday.

The Iranian president noted that the war in Ukraine must not divert international attention from the unfolding crisis in Afghanistan, the problems facing its people and the large number of refugees leaving the country.

Rayeesi also told the Latvian ambassador that Iran’s geographical advantage can boost trade between Asian and European regions and reduce costs.

The new Latvian envoy, for his part, said that his country is interested in expanding relations with the Islamic Republic of Iran on the basis of mutual understanding and friendship in order to ensure the interests of both countries.

Last week, Rayeesi had condemned the recent terrorist attacks on innocent people in Afghanistan, and asked the ruling body in the country to punish the culprits and prevent recurrence of such crimes.

He warned of the expansion of terrorist threats against Afghanistan and other nations in the region, and emphasized the necessity of providing security for all Afghan people, especially in schools, mosques, and religious centers.

Rayeesi highlighted the responsibility of authorities in Afghanistan to identify and punish the perpetrators, and said that the Islamic Republic of Iran was ready to deploy all its capabilities to help Afghanistan prevent such threats.

He also expressed Iran’s readiness to help in treatment of people injured in recent terrorist attacks.

Two powerful explosions hit two mosques in Mazar-i-Sharif, the capital of Balkh province on Thursday.

According to the reports, at least 40 people were killed and 100 injured in the explosion that took place in the largest Shia mosque in Mazar-i-Sharif.

Also, at least 26 people, mostly students, were killed and tens of others wounded after two blasts targeted a boys’ school in Kabul’s Dasht-e-Barchi neighborhood earlier this week.

Two improvised explosive devices (IEDs) blew up outside the Abdul Rahim Shahid high school in Western Kabul.

A third blast occurred at an English language center several kilometers away but in the same area.

Iran has been one of the main destinations of Afghans who leave their country.

Source: Fars News Agency

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Ancient goddess sculpture found by farmer in Gaza Strip

27 April ,2022

A Palestinian farmer found a rare 4,500-year-old stone sculpture while working his land in the southern Gaza Strip, ruling Hamas authorities announced Monday.

The Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities said the 22-centimeter (6.7-inch) tall limestone head is believed to represent the Canaanite goddess Anat and is estimated to be dated to around 2,500 B.C.

“Anat was the goodness of love, beauty, and war in the Canaanite mythology,” said Jamal Abu Rida, the ministry’s director, in a statement.

Gaza, a narrow enclave on the Mediterranean Sea, boasts a trove of antiquities and archaeological sites as it was a major land route connecting ancient civilizations in Egypt, the Levant and Mesopotamia.

But discovered antiquities frequently disappear and development projects are given priority over the preservation of archaeological sites beneath the urban sprawl needed to accommodate 2.3 million people packed into the densely populated territory.

In 2017, the militant Hamas group, which had seized control of the Gaza Strip a decade earlier, destroyed large parts of a rare Canaanite settlement to make way for a housing development for its own employees.

And to date, a life-size statue of the Greek god Apollo that had surfaced in 2013 and then disappeared has yet to be found.

Source: Al Arabiya

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Turkish opposition leaders vow to overturn sentences against Kavala, others

26 April ,2022

Turkish opposition leaders vowed to overturn jail sentences against philanthropist Osman Kavala and seven others convicted at the end of a case that lawyers said showed courts had become the government’s “vehicle for revenge.”

Kavala was sentenced to life in prison without parole, while seven others got 18 years based on claims they organized and financed nationwide protests in 2013, charges from which they were acquitted two years ago.

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The verdict was seen as symbolic of a crackdown on dissent under President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and the punishment of the government’s perceived foes through the use of the judiciary.

Kemal Kilicdaroglu, leader of the Republican People’s Party (CHP), promised on Monday to reinstate the rule of law if the opposition wins elections scheduled for June 2023.

“In this fictitious trial, Osman Kavala was sentenced to life in prison in a case in which he was previously acquitted,” he said in a speech to CHP members on Tuesday.

“We will fight against those who place the judiciary under the orders of politics.... and hold our people hostage in prisons,” said Kilicdaroglu, who is seen as Erdogan’s likely challenger for the presidency.

His description of the so-called Gezi protests as “a national movement” stands in sharp contrast to Erdogan’s view that the demonstrations aimed at toppling the government.

Hundreds of thousands marched in Istanbul and elsewhere in Turkey in 2013 as demonstrations against plans to build a replica Ottoman barracks in the city’s Gezi Park grew into nationwide protests against Erdogan’s government.

The president has equated the protesters to Kurdish militants and those accused of orchestrating a failed coup in 2016. He has accused Kavala personally several times of being the financier of the protests.

But the CHP and five other opposition parties who have formed an alliance to defeat Erdogan in the next elections have sounded the alarm over the verdict.

“The members of the judiciary, who conduct the trial themselves, have abandoned their authority and ability for judgement,” said IYI Party general secretary Ugur Poyraz.

Ankara’s Western allies, opposition members and rights groups say Turkish courts are under the control of the government. Erdogan and his AK Party say they are independent.

Protests against the verdict were planned in Ankara and Istanbul later on Tuesday.

Rewriting history

The investigation that began with Kavala’s detention in Oct. 2017 has seen various turns that cast doubt over the legality of the judicial process, which critics said aimed to “rewrite history” and criminalize the Gezi protests.

The indictment in the case alleged links between George Soros and Kavala, in what lawyers said was an attempt to create the perception that the protests were funded by foreign powers.

The indictment said the fact that defendants discussed bringing milk, juice and pastries to Gezi Park, as well as gasmasks to counter the effects of tear gas, showed they were financing the protests.

Another court ruled in 2020 that the evidence, initially gathered by a group within the judiciary that Ankara accuses of orchestrating the coup, was not enough for a conviction.

Similar concerns were highlighted by one of the judges who dissented from Monday’s verdict.

The judge, one of three presiding, said the only evidence was phone taps that were collected illegally and, even if they were legal, were not enough to convict by themselves.

All defendants should be acquitted and Kavala should be released, the judge wrote in his dissenting opinion.

Veysel Ok, lawyer and co-director of Media and Law Studies Association, said Monday’s verdict was void of “judicial logic” and aimed to intimidate those seeking the rule of law.

“This ruling shows us the picture of a judiciary that has become a vehicle for revenge due to political interests. It is a sign that no one in Turkey has legal security,” he said. The verdict showed the judiciary would be used “as the fundamental weapon” to “bring the opposition to line” before the elections.

“It indicates that a much harsher period awaits us and that the public opposition and civil society need to stick together.”

The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) called in Dec. 2019 for Kavala’s release, saying his detention served the purpose of silencing him.

But Kavala’s continued detention means Turkey now faces being suspended from the Council of Europe rights watchdog, after it launched rare infringement proceedings against Ankara.

Kavala was re-arrested hours after the acquittal and has remained in jail for the past two years on an espionage charge, a move seen as attempting to circumvent the ECHR ruling. Kavala was acquitted of espionage on Monday.

Source: Al Arabiya

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Israeli forces kill young Palestinian man during Jenin refugee camp raid

27 April 2022

Israeli forces have shot and killed a young Palestinian man in Jenin, health officials say, as the military carries out wide-ranging arrest campaigns across the West Bank.

The man was identified as 21-year-old Ahmad Muhammad Lotfi Massad, a resident of the town of Burqin, during a raid on the Jenin refugee camp in the early hours of Wednesday.

The director of Ibn Sina Hospital in Jenin, Jani Abu Jokha, said Massad had been shot in the head. Three other Palestinians with moderate wounds were transferred to the medical facility as well.

Palestine's official Wafa news agency, citing security and local sources, reported that Israeli forces conducted a predawn raid on the camp.

The Israeli troops broke into dozens of homes and violently searched them, causing excessive property damage, before detaining at least three Palestinians.

Violent confrontations broke out in the camp between Palestinians and Israeli forces, who fired live who fired stun grenades, tear gas canisters as well as live bullets in order to disperse the protesting crowd.

Massad’s death follows that of another Palestinian killed on Tuesday, when Israeli forces stormed a refugee camp in the occupied West Bank.

The Palestinian Health Ministry said 20-year-old Ahmed Ibrahim Oweidat “succumbed to critical wounds sustained by live bullets to the head,” during the shooting in Aqabat Jaber camp near Ariha.

On Monday, Secretary General of the Gaza-based Islamic Jihad resistance movement Ziyad al-Nakhala said the Palestinian people are more energetic than ever before in their confrontation with the Zionist regime.

Nakhala made the remarks in a conference dubbed “Palestine, the Central Issue of Islamic Ummah,” which was held in the Yemeni capital city of Sana’a.

“Our nation is faced with the Zionist regime’s onslaught, which seeks to Judaize al-Quds and create new realities on the ground,” he said, adding, “The Palestinian nation is creating new equations in its confrontation with the Zionist regime.”

He said the conference was another proof of Yemen’s support for the Palestinian cause and that the aggressors in Yemen are approaching the Zionist regime despite its Judaization moves and destruction of the Palestinian nation’s identity.

“The Zionists use military force and, under the guise of international organizations, exploit the compromising Arab countries that have recognized the legitimacy of this occupying regime. They also cause conflicts with the Palestinian people in order to take advantage of them,” the secretary general of the Islamic Jihad movement said.

Source: Press TV

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Southeast Asia


Indonesia’s Mosque Loudspeakers Continue to Spark Controversy

By A’an Suryana

April 27, 2022

In late March, the mayor of a city within the greater Jakarta area publicly opposed a recent circular issued by the Ministry of Religious Affairs, which regulates the volume level of mosque loudspeakers  broadcasting the azan, the call to prayer for Muslims, which marks the time for obligatory prayers five times a day). The mayor of Depok, a conservative Muslim area, argued that the regulation – which, among other points, limits the loudspeaker volume up to 100 decibels – is too much. He argued that regulating the matter, which might affect loudspeaker operations in the over 500,000 mosques sprawled across the archipelago, should be left in the hands of local people.

A week later, the religious minister rebuffed the mayor’s criticism, arguing that even Saudi Arabia, where Islam originated, considered as a holy land for all Muslims in the world, has regulated the matter. Hence, he argued that there is nothing wrong in regulating the use of mosque loudspeakers.

This public spat, which involves two high-ranking public officials, shows how loudspeaker volume at mosques has increasingly become a mainstream issue in Indonesia. Although the use of loudspeakers at mosques has been ubiquitous in the country since the 1950s, public concern began to appear only in 1978 when the Suharto government issued a circular to address the noise level of mosque loudspeakers. The Ministry of Religious Affairs issued the circular after it found that the loudspeakers, which are used to amplify the sound of azan, were often improperly used. For example, either the loudspeakers were too loud or they were out of tune; hence the Suharto government argued the loudspeakers would tarnish the image of Islam and disturb people who were, for example, resting, especially non-Muslims.

The 1978 circular instructed Ministry of Religious Affairs staff across the archipelago to provide guidance to mosque committees in using the loudspeakers properly. However, since the majority of mosques in Indonesia are run by people and not by the government, the circular was not effective, since it was not legally binding.

As a result, the mosque loudspeaker problem persisted. Social discontent about the volume of mosque loudspeakers, especially among non-Muslim Indonesians and foreigners, remained unaddressed. The social discontent has rarely caused serious social conflict, given that people, especially non-Muslims, are usually aware that it is a sensitive issue. Often, they chose not to over-react when dealing with this issue, or just keep quiet, to avoid facing social backlash from the country’s majority Muslim community.

But, in some cases, disputes over mosque loudspeakers can trigger serious and even deadly conflicts. In 2015, one person was killed and 12 others were injured in predominantly Christian Tolikara regency, Papua province, after the Christians’ protest over the use of loudspeakers during Eid al-Fitr prayers turned ugly. The Christians said the sound of the loudspeaker disturbed their own religious event, which was being held concurrently near the area where the Eid al-Fitr prayer was also in progress.

In 2016, a riot occurred in Medan, North Sumatra province, after a Chinese Indonesian woman complained to local mosque officials that the call for prayer, amplified by a mosque loudspeaker near her house, was too loud. Irresponsible parties uploaded the heated argument between the woman and the mosque officials to social media, and provoked local people to commit violence. As result, local Muslims burned down at least 11 houses of worship that belonged to the Chinese Indonesian community in the area.

Government officials understand that this issue can seriously damage social stability, as exhibited in the Tolikara and Medan cases. But authorities have so far refrained from taking a stern approach since it is sensitive issue that can be easily manipulated by politicians aiming to provoke people’s Islamic sentiment in order to dent the government’s legitimacy. Hence, various administrations, including those of Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and Joko “Jokowi” Widodo, have chosen to resort to persuasion to address the issue. Jusuf Kalla – who was vice president in the Jokowi administration between 2014 and 2019, and who has been chairing the Indonesian Mosque Council since 2012 – often appealed more forcefully to mosque committees and people at large to reduce the noise level of mosque loudspeakers, but his appeals largely fell on deaf ears. The practice of setting mosque loudspeakers at high volume levels continues in many parts of Indonesia.

The recent circular, issued on February 18, 2022 by the Ministry of Religious Affairs, was the latest and strongest effort by the government to address the issue. However, just like previous circulars, it is unlikely to be effective due to the absence of any punishment mechanism and a long-standing belief among the Muslim community that raising the volume of loudspeakers is encouraged by Islamic teaching because it supports missionary activities.

Source: The Diplomat

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Court to decide June 15 whether woman who wants to leave Islam to embrace Confucianism and Buddhism can continue with court challenge

27 Apr 2022


KUALA LUMPUR, April 27 — The High Court here will decide on June 15 whether a Malaysian woman — who wants to be declared no longer a Muslim in order to be free to embrace Confucianism and Buddhism — can proceed to have her lawsuit heard.

The 32-year-old woman, who was born to a Muslim convert father and a Muslim mother, cannot be named publicly due to a court order.

High Court judge Datuk Ahmad Kamal Md Shahid fixed the decision date on whether the woman would be granted leave for judicial review, after hearing arguments from her lawyer and the Attorney General’s Chambers (AGC).

For lawsuits filed through judicial review applications, leave or permission must be obtained first from the court before the lawsuit can be heard.

In this case, the woman — hereon referred to as “A” — had on March 4 filed for judicial review, naming the four respondents as the Shariah Court of Appeal, the Shariah High Court, the Federal Territories Islamic Religious Council (Maiwp) and the government of Malaysia.

The woman “A” is seeking at least 12 court orders as part of her lawsuit, including declarations that the Shariah courts do not have the jurisdiction or power to declare that a person is no longer a Muslim.

Source: Malay Mail

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Singapore executes disabled Malaysian convicted in drug case

Apr 27, 2022

SINGAPORE: Singapore on Wednesday executed a mentally disabled Malaysian man condemned for a drug offense after a court dismissed a last-minute challenge from his mother and international pleas to spare him.

Nagaenthran K. Dharmalingam, 34, had been on death row for over a decade after he was convicted of trafficking about 43 grams (1.5 oz) of heroin into Singapore. The city-state’s government has said its use of the death penalty for drug crimes is made clear at the borders.

Nagaenthran’s family and social activists confirmed the execution Wednesday.

“On this score may I declare that Malaysia is far more humane,” his sister Sarmila Dharmalingam said. “Zero to Singapore on this.”

Nagaenthran’s supporters and lawyers said he had an IQ of 69 and was intellectually disabled, and that the execution of a mentally ill person was prohibited under international human rights law.

Singapore’s courts ruled, citing psychiatrists’ testimony in court, that he was not mentally disabled and had understood his actions at the time of his crime.

“Nagaenthran Dharmalingam’s name will go down in history as the victim of a tragic miscarriage of justice,” said Maya Foa, director of non-governmental organization Reprieve.

“Hanging an intellectually disabled, mentally unwell man because he was coerced into carrying less than three tablespoons of diamorphine is unjustifiable and a flagrant violation of international laws that Singapore has chosen to sign up to.”

Nagaenthran and his mother had filed a motion Monday arguing that it was unconstitutional to proceed with his death sentence and that he may not have been given a fair trial because the chief justice who presided over his appeals had been the attorney general when Nagaenthran was convicted in 2010, which the filing alleged could be a conflict of interest.

The court dismissed the motion, describing it as “frivolous.”

His family said Nagaenthran’s body will be brought to their hometown in Malaysia’s northern state of Perak, where they have made preparations for his funeral.

Singapore had halted executions for two years because of the Covid-19 pandemic before resuming them with the execution of a drug trafficker in March.

Anyone found with over 15 grams (0.5 ounces) of heroin faces the death sentence in Singapore, although judges can reduce this to life in prison at their discretion. Attempts to reduce Nagaenthran’s sentence or obtain a presidential pardon failed.

Source: Times Of India

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Over 5,000 former separatist fighters to join Philippine police

April 26, 2022

MANILA: More than 5,000 former fighters who fought for Filipino Muslim autonomy in the southern Philippines will join the country’s police force as part of government efforts to sustain peace in one of Southeast Asia’s most conflict-torn regions.

The peace process in Bangsamoro, a region covering predominantly Muslim areas of Mindanao, has been underway for nearly a decade since the government struck a permanent ceasefire deal with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front after almost 40 years of conflict.

An armed breakaway group of the Moro National Liberation Front — the oldest Muslim separatist movement in Mindanao — MILF continued to fight when its parent organization reached a peace agreement with the Philippine government in the 1990s. Only in 2014 did MILF fighters agree to turn over their firearms in exchange for the establishment of a self-administered Bangsamoro.

As part of the peace process, the region’s inhabitants voted for its greater autonomy in a referendum held in 2019. The transition period will culminate in 2025, when Bangsamoro will elect its legislature and executive.

Mainstreaming former fighters into the national security forces is part of the autonomy project. The Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process announced last week that 11,000 former combatants from MILF and MNLF will sit for exams in late May to join the Philippine police force.

About 5,060 of the best candidates are expected to be admitted, initially as patrolmen and patrolwomen.

“The entry of MILF and MNLF members into the PNP (Philippine National Police) is a crucial step in sustaining and building on the gains of the Bangsamoro peace process,” Wilben Mayor, assistant secretary at the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process, told Arab News on Tuesday.

“Once they are integrated into the PNP, the MILF and MNLF members will be part of the police force that will ensure peace and security not only in the Bangsamoro, but throughout the country,” he added. “They are now considered peacekeepers and peacebuilders.”

The induction of former fighter into the police follows an agreement signed earlier this month by the National Police Commission and Ahod Balawag Ebrahim, the MILF chairman who serves as the interim chief minister Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.

“We are happy that we are finally taking the first step into making this provision a reality,” Ebrahim said at the time.

The integration process is also expected to help uplift the local community.

“The lives of the 5,060 individuals and their families can change for the better as they benefit from a stable career in the police service,” National Police Commission Vice Chairperson Alberto Bernardo told the media after signing the agreement with Ebrahim.

Source: Arab News

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Imran Khan's supporters stage protest outside election commission offices across Pakistan

Apr 26, 2022

ISLAMABAD: Supporters of Pakistan's former prime minister Imran Khan on Tuesday held protests outside the election commission offices across the country, demanding resignation of the Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) over his alleged biased conduct.

Sikandar Sultan Raja, a former senior bureaucrat, was appointed as head of the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) by the previous Imran Khan government, but now the former premier has turned against him and accuses him of “favouring” his rival political parties – an allegation rejected by the CEC.

The party workers of Khan's Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) staged demonstrations outside the election commission offices in Karachi, Lahore, Islamabad, Peshawar, Gujrat and Faisalabad, among other cities.

The main rally was held outside the ECP head office in Islamabad, with protestors chanting slogans against the CEC and demanding his resignation.

“Our workers are staging a symbolic protest outside the ECP office in the capital but thousands of party members were unable to reach the site of demonstration as routes have been blocked,” PTI leader Shibli Faraz said.

Former interior minister Sheikh Rashid said even if the "government and entire establishment come together, they cannot stop the elections from taking place". Meanwhile, strict security measures were taken in the capital to stop protestors from entering the Red Zone which houses many state buildings, including the ECP.

In Lahore, a large contingent of police was deployed outside the ECP office and barriers were placed as citizens were barred from entering the building. Protests also gathered outside the ECP office in Peshawar and raised slogans. They also tried to force their way into the building but were stopped.

The PTI had announced on Sunday that it would stage protests outside ECP offices, alleging that the CEC had been biased against the party.

The demonstrations were apparently a part of a strategy to put pressure on CEC Raja as he was nearing the conclusion of hearing in the case of foreign funding against the PTI. Many experts believe that the party has failed to convince the ECP during the hearing of the case about the legality of funds deposited in some of its bank accounts.

Source: Times Of India

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China condemns suicide attack at Karachi University, demands punishment for perpetrators

April 27, 2022

China expressed "strong condemnation and indignation" on Wednesday over the suicide attack outside the University of Karachi's (KU) Confucius Institute a day earlier in which four people, including three Chinese nationals, were killed.

The incident had taken place as van, carrying three Chinese teachers, was about to enter the Confucius Institute. CCTV footage showed a burqa-clad woman standing outside the entrance of the Confucius Institute who detonated herself just as the van neared the institute's entrance.

Resultantly, three Chinese teachers, including Confucius Institute director Ding Mupeng, who were travelling in the van, and the vehicle's driver were killed.

Later, the Balochistan Liberation Army claimed responsibility for the attack.

A Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson, in response to a question about the incident during a press briefing on Wednesday, said the attack had left three Chinese teachers dead and one injured.

Acknowledging that there "are also casualties on the Pakistani side", he went on to say that the "Chinese side expresses strong condemnation and indignation over this major terrorist attack, and extends deep condolences to the victims and sympathies to the injured and bereaved families".

He further said the Chinese foreign ministry and diplomatic missions in Pakistan activated the "emergency response mechanism" immediately after the incident, and that Chinese Assistant Foreign Affairs Minister Wu Jianghao made an urgent phone call to Pakistan's ambassador in China.

The spokesperson said that the Chinese minister expressed "grave concern" over incident during the call and demanded that Pakistan conducted a thorough probe immediately. The minister further demanded that the perpetrators of the attack should be apprehended and punished to full extent of the law and all possible measures be taken to ensure the safety of Chinese citizens in Pakistan so that such incidents were prevented in the future.

"The Chinese embassy in Pakistan and consulate-general in Karachi are working with the Pakistani side to deal with the follow-up matters of the casualties," the foreign ministry spokesperson said.

He also mentioned Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif's visit to the Chinese embassy in Islamabad on Tuesday evening, saying that the premier had conveyed his condolences and the Pakistan government would conduct an "in-depth probe" into the incident, "give exemplary punishment to the perpetrators and strengthen the security of Chinese personnel, projects and institutions in Pakistan in an all-round way".

The spokesperson quoted PM Shehbaz as saying that the Pakistan government would "never allow any force to undermine the Pakistan-China friendship".

According to the spokesperson's statement, local authorities in Sindh and Karachi have already launched a "full-scale investigation to hunt down the perpetrators".

"The Chinese foreign ministry and Chinese diplomatic missions in Pakistan will continue to urge relevant Pakistani departments to handle properly the follow-up matters of those killed, treat the injured, and resolutely crack down on the terrorist organisation involved," the spokesperson said.

"The blood of the Chinese people should not be shed in vain, and those behind this incident will surely pay the price." 

Earlier, Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah had also paid a visit to the Chinese consulate in Karachi where he briefed Consul General Li Bijian about the blast.

The CM had expressed grief over the death of Chinese nationals, assured that the incident would be fully investigated and those involved in the incident would be brought to justice.

According to state-run APP, Pakistan Ambassador to China Moinul Haque has also expressed shock over the incident and expressed sorrow over the death of Chinese nationals.

Source: Dawn

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Maryam withdraws plea for return of passport from LHC

Rana Bilal

April 27, 2022

PML-N Vice President Maryam Nawaz on Wednesday withdrew a petition filed in the Lahore High Court (LHC) for the return of her passport so that she could travel to Saudi Arabia to perform Umrah.

A special division bench headed by Justice Ali Baqar Najafi had taken up the petition earlier today. During the hearing, Maryam's counsel, Advocate Amjad Pervez, informed the court that the PML-N leader wished to withdraw her plea.

Subsequently, the court disposed of the petition.

Maryam's withdrawal comes after no less than four benches were formed to hear the petition due to judges recusing themselves one after the other.

Last week, the first bench — comprising Justice Syed Shahbaz Ali Rizvi and Justice Anwarul Haq Pannun — had observed that the petition should be heard by the same bench, headed by Justice Najafi, that had granted bail to the petitioner before recusing itself.

A bench comprising Justice Najafi and Justice Farooq Haider had then issued notices on Maryam's petition on Monday. But Justice Haider recused himself from the matter when the petition came for hearing on Tuesday.

LHC Chief Justice Muhammad Ameer Bhatti then constituted a bench comprising Justice Najafi and Justice Asjad Javed Ghural to hear the petition. However, Justice Ghural also recused himself from the matter when the bench assembled to take up the petition.

The bench then sent the case file back to the chief justice for its fixing before any other appropriate bench after which a division bench comprising Justice Najafi and Justice Sardar Ahmad Naeem took up the petition on Wednesday (today).

Former information minister and PTI leader Fawad Chaudhry on Tuesday said the general impression of the LHC over cases related to the Sharif family was "negative”, adding that the chief justice should keep that in mind.

"Judges are constantly not hearing Maryam's cases," he had said on Twitter.

A bench comprising Justice Najafi and Justice Haider had granted post-arrest bail to Maryam in the Chaudhry Sugar Mills case on Nov 4, 2019.

Source: Dawn

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Pakistan can’t afford enmity with US, says Shehbaz

Amir Wasim

April 27, 2022

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif has said that he is making efforts to mend fences with all allies and friends of Pakistan, including the United States, that have been estranged from Islamabad due to a “faulty foreign policy” of the previous government.

“Pakistan cannot afford to have enmity with the US at all,” declared Mr Sharif while responding to a volley of questions from senior journalists during an Iftar dinner at Prime Minister House on Tuesday.

The prime minister regretted that the previous government led by the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) had annoyed all those countries that had always helped Pakistan in difficult times, especially China, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the United States.

He said there was a need to end the mistrust between Pakistan and the United States, and both countries needed to see if they had committed any mistakes in the past.

Mr Sharif — clad in a green safari suit and flanked by Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah, Planning Minister Ahsan Iqbal, Musaddiq Malik and other senior PML-N leaders — answered questions regarding foreign policy, economy and the prevailing political situation in the country in the wake of renewed threat by PTI chairman Imran Khan to hold a long march towards Islamabad to press for the party’s demand for early general elections.

Though Mr Sharif touched on all the issues during his nearly hour-long conversation, his main emphasis remained on the country’s foreign policy. He spoke about his forthcoming visit to Saudi Arabia and also expressed his concerns over the suicide attack on the Chinese nationals in Karachi earlier on Tuesday.

Mr Sharif said he had directed the interior minister to visit Karachi on Wednesday (today). He said that soon after his visit to Saudi Arabia, he would preside over a meeting to devise a strategy to provide security to the Chinese as well as other foreign nationals in the country.

The prime minister said he was expected to have a discussion on bilateral issues and cooperation with the Saudi leadership during his upcoming visit to Riyadh.

Hitting out at the previous rulers over their alleged flawed foreign policy, Mr Sharif said first the PTI government annoyed Qatar royal family by raising fingers at the contract signed by Pakistan for the purchase of gas in 2016, and then they did the same thing with China when they cried foul and corruption in Chinese projects launched here.

Similarly, the previous government annoyed Saudi Arabia by stating that “we can do Kashmir without them (Saudi Arabia)”, Mr Sharif said. On the government’s Afghan policy, Mr Sharif said: “What is good for Afghanistan, it is good for Pakistan and vice versa.”

In response to a question regarding the PTI’s demand to form a judicial commission to investigate the allegations of a US conspiracy behind the ouster of Imran Khan’s government, Mr Sharif said he could consider the option.

Replying to a question about Imran Khan’s threat to hold a long march to Islamabad, the PM said that protest was a democratic right of everyone, but no one would be allowed to create anarchy on roads.

Source: Dawn

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Terrorists attack Security Forces in Sararogha, South Waziristan: ISPR

April 26, 2022

The terrorists on Tuesday fired upon Security Forces in Sararogha, South Waziristan District which was promptly responded by the Pakistan Army troops.

However, during intense exchange of fire, two soldiers, having fought gallantly, embraced Shahadat (martyrdom), said an Inter Services Public Relations (ISPR) news release.

The martyred soldiers were identified as Lance Naik Umar Ali Khan (age 26 years, resident of Bannu) and Sepoy Muhammad Siraj ud Din (age 23 years, resident of DI Khan).

The area clearance was being carried out to eliminate any terrorists found in the area, it added.

Source: Pakistan Today

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Tunisian opposition announces alliance against President Saied

26 April ,2022

A veteran Tunisian opposition figure announced Tuesday the creation of a new alliance to “save” the country from deep crisis following President Kais Saied’s power grab last year.

Ahmed Nejib Chebbi, 78, a prominent left-wing politician who opposed dictator Zine el Abidine Ben Ali’s rule, said the new National Salvation Front aimed to unite political forces, re-establish constitutional and democratic processes and guarantee freedoms and rights in the country.

“We want a return to legitimacy and democracy,” he told a news conference in the capital Tunisia.

Saied – a former law professor elected in 2019 amid public anger against the political class – on July 25 last year sacked the government, suspended parliament and seized wide-ranging powers.

He later gave himself powers to rule and legislate by decree and seized control over the judiciary.

He dissolved parliament last month, dealing another blow to the political system put in place after the North African country’s 2011 revolution.

Chebbi opposes Saied’s moves and describes them as a “coup.”

The new alliance comprises five political parties including Saied’s nemesis the Islamist-inspired Ennahdha party, along with five civil society groups involving independent political figures.

The Front’s priority is to rescue an economy ruined by a “rotten” political system that puts off investors, Chebbi said.

It also aims to involve other political groups and “influential” figures before launching a national dialogue on reforms to “save the country,” he added.

Chebbi called for a “salvation government” to lead the country during a “transition period” before new elections.

Last week Saied assigned himself the power to appoint the head of the electoral commission, a move critics say aims to create a tame electoral body ahead of a referendum slated for July on constitutional reforms, and legislative elections due in December.

Last month, Saied also inaugurated a “temporary” council of judges to replace an independent watchdog he abolished when seizing sweeping powers over the judiciary.

Saied’s initial power grab last year was welcomed by many Tunisians sick of the often-stalemated post-revolution political system.

But an increasing array of critics say he has moved the country down a dangerous path back towards autocracy.

Saied has argued that the North African country’s 2014 constitution allowed him to take “exceptional measures.”

Source: Al Arabiya

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Mali opens probe into mass grave near French base

26 April ,2022

Mali’s military announced Tuesday an inquiry has been launched into the discovery of a mass grave near a former French army base where Paris says Russian forces buried the bodies.

A military tribunal prosecutor, who opened the investigation at the request of the defense ministry, visited the site at Gossi in the north of the country on April 23.

An official statement said he would “bring to light all the facts” of the case and keep the public fully informed.

On April 21, two days after French forces handed the base back to Mali, they released a video said to show Russian mercenaries burying bodies nearby to falsely accuse the departing troops.

In the video, filmed with a drone, Caucasian soldiers appear to be covering bodies with sand near the Gossi base.

France officially handed control of Gossi to Mali last Tuesday as part of a withdrawal announced in February.

The next day the Malian army denied any role in burying the bodies.

“The state of advanced putrefaction of the bodies indicates that this mass grave existed well before the handover [of the base].

Consequently, the responsibility for this act can in no way be attributed to the FAMa,” or Malian armed forces, a statement said.

France and the United States have accused Russian Wagner mercenaries of deploying in Mali as Paris winds down its almost decade-long military operation in the Sahel country.

Bamako’s military-dominated government says the Russians are just military instructors.

Anti-French sentiment has grown in West Africa, where French forces have operated since 2013 to stem extremist insurgencies.

Source: Al Arabiya

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Tunisia detains crew of ship that sank off its coast this month

27 April ,2022

A Tunisian judge detained seven crew members of a commercial ship that sank off the coast of the southern city of Gabes this month, a judicial official said on Wednesday, as authorities investigated whether the ship may have been deliberately sunk.

Tunisian officials said this month that the ship, the Xelo, sank while heading from Equatorial Guinea to Malta carrying up to 1,000 tons of oil and the Tunisian navy had rescued all seven crew members.

Officials later said a specialized diving team sent to counter a potential environmental disaster found the ship cargo did not contain fuel, but rather was empty.

“The investigative judge issued a detention decision against the ship’s crew,” said Mohamed Karay, a spokesman for the Gabes court.

Karay had previously said an investigation was being conducted to determine if the ship sank under normal circumstances or was sank to obtain compensation from insurance companies, and to look into the possibility of oil smuggling.

The crew of the ship were four Turks, two Azerbaijanis and one from Georgia.

The crew claimed the ship’s route documentation had been lost, and that there was a conflict in the information they provided, Karay said.

Source: Al Arabiya

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