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Islamic World News ( 12 Nov 2019, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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Kerala’s Kozhikode Mosque Puts off Nabi Day Celebrations for Hindu Girl's Marriage and Actively Took Part in It

New Age Islam News Bureau

12 Nov 2019

Prathyusha, the bride, visits Idivetty Jumamasjid Mahal Committee members after tying the knot.


 Kerala’s Kozhikode Mosque Puts off Nabi Day Celebrations for Hindu Girl's Marriage and Actively Took Part in It

 BHU’s First Muslim Professor of Sanskrit Sings on DD, Stages Sanskrit Plays

 Saudi Rights Body Calls for Law against Underage Marriages

 87 Muslim Scholars, Including Libya's Mufti, Call For Boycotting UAE

 ATC Charges Khadim Hussain Rizvi, Others in Case Against Violent Protests

 Ghani Confirms Release of Anas Haqqani and Two Other Senior Taliban Leaders

 UN: Top Iraqi Shiite Cleric Backs Reforms To Resolve Unrest

 Lack of Imagination Holding Malaysia Back, Says Former Bush Aide

 Israeli Airstrike Kills Islamic Jihad Commander in Gaza Home

 The Gambia Accuses Myanmar of Genocide At Top UN Court



 Agra: NSUI Muslim Student Leader Donates Rs 1100 for Ram Temple

 Name New Mosque after Kalam, Not Babar: VHP

 Ayodhya Verdict: Muslims Wish To Reject 5-Acre Land

 Dozens detained in India over social media comments after Babri Mosque

 Ayodhya Verdict: Muslim Body To Decide On Seeking Review In Nov 17


Arab World

 Sudan’s Islamist PCP supports al-Bashir handover to ICC

 500 visitors from 60 countries visit historic Jeddah

 Saudi deputy defense minister meets ruler of Oman

 Attack in Damascus kills two, wounds six — state media



 Cabinet sub-committee deliberates removal of Nawaz's name from ECL

 JUI-F to play role in getting PMC ordinance rejected in Senate

 'Will Continue Our Struggle Till We Are Free From This Illegitimate Govt,' Says Fazlur Rehman

 India has lost Gandhi’s path, says Qureshi


South Asia

 ISIS Militant Hands Himself and 45 Family Members of His Comrades to Afghan Special Forces

 Special Forces kill, detain 18 Taliban and ISIS militants in Kabul and 2 other provinces

 Airstrikes kill 20 Taliban militants in five provinces

 4 Pakistani militants blown up by own bomb in Paktiya province

 China welcomes opening of Kartarpur Corridor

 Airstrikes kill 11 Taliban militants in Paktiya and Logar provinces



 Un Watchdog Confirms Iran Nuclear Breach

 Bolivia’s deposed Evo Morales seeks asylum in Mexico, but vows to return ‘with more strength & energy’

 Plans to build dedicated Muslim prayer centre in Dalton

 Tories urged to ditch candidate over 'disgusting' articles on HIV and Muslims with 'divided loyalties'

 Touching gesture from members from the West End Islamic Centre

 Islamic State Claims Responsibility For Murder Of Armenian Priest


Southeast Asia

 Dr M never interfered in Najib trial, says Anwar

 Some voters still think I’m Umno president, says Mahathir

 Mahathir ‘shocked’ that Najib is shocked by court decision

 Court Turns Down Imam Nahrawi's Pretrial Motion



 Turkey: We are not a Hotel for Islamic State Jihadists!

 The UK’s Secret Military Unit That Answers to Saudi Arabian Commanders

 Hezbollah 'willing to co-operate' with Lebanon’s judiciary over corruption
•  Israel strikes home of Palestinian militant commander in Gaza
•  Lebanese blocs agree to ‘government of specialists representing protester movement’



 Another Muslim Burial Site Vandalised At Foot of Table Mountain

 Islamic group reacts as NYSC suspends Christian corpers

 Experts seek legal framework for Islamic finance inclusion

 Nigerian Journalist: IMN to Survive as Zakzaky's Lessons Keep Members United



North America

 Donald Trump Says Baghdadi Successor in US Crosshairs

 U.S. Forces Say They’ll Redeploy, Work with Kurds to Continue Pressure on Islamic State

 Uber chief walks back comment about murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi



 Controversial $760,000 Mosque Is Given The Green Light For Construction In Sydney After Three-Year Battle - Despite Objections From Locals


Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau



Kerala’s Kozhikode Mosque Puts off Nabi Day Celebrations for Hindu Girl's Marriage and Actively Took Part in It

11th November 2019

KOZHIKODE: The Idivetty Juma Masjid mahal committee near Perambra here was large-hearted enough to postpone their celebrations on Milad-Un-Nabi on Sunday as the marriage of a Hindu girl, staying next door to the mosque, was fixed for the same day.

Not only did it put off the celebrations, but also actively took part in the marriage, playing the perfect host.

Soon after tying the knot and before leaving to the groom's house, the bride, Prathyusha A P, 22, called on the mahal committee members and wholeheartedly thanked them for the wonderful gesture.

Prathysha's house, Chemmamkuzhi in Changaroth grama panchayat is separated by only a four-meter-wide road from the mosque on the opposite side, which also houses a madrasa in the compound.

"When we came to know that the marriage falls on the birthday of Prophet Mohammad, the mahal committee members sat together a week before and unanimously decided to put off the religious celebrations to next Sunday, November 17," says mahal committee secretary N C Abdurahman.

Usually, there would have been oppana, duffmuttu, songs and other competitions held for students on Milad-Un-Nabi day which would make the ambience a festive one. "Obviously, the festivities can be organised on another day. But marriage is a special occasion and that too of a girl staying nearby," says mahal committee member O T Basheer.

Prathyusha's brother Prasoon AP says, "While fixing the marriage, the Milad-Un-Nabi date did not come into our notice. I would not have allowed it if we had learnt that the mahal is postponing their celebrations. Instead, we could have conducted both on the same day," he said.

Medical students and engineering graduates, belonging to the families of mahal committee members, served food at his sister's marriage, Prasoon gushed.

In return of the nice gesture, Prasoon, who is working abroad, has invited all 11 mahal committee members, led by president Idivetty Moidu Haji, to his house on November 13 for a reception during his sister's first homecoming after marriage.



BHU’s first Muslim professor of Sanskrit sings on DD, stages Sanskrit plays

Nov 12, 2019

Dr Firoze, whose appointment as an assistant professor of Sanskrit in the Banaras Hindu University (BHU) last week created a mild controversy, says he was never discriminated against while learning the language due to his religious identity. He was the only Muslim student in the Jaipur institute that awarded him the doctorate degree in 2018.

“When I want to propagate Sanksrit through teaching, I have suddenly become a Muslim,” he said when reminded about the sit-in protest by some students against his appointment last week.

The BHU administration defended his appointment and said the “most qualified candidates” were chosen through a “transparent” screening process headed by the vice chancellor.

The 29-year-old Dr. Firoze, who hails from Bagru, a village near Jaipur in Rajasthan, says reading Sanskrit led to his intellectual growth, drawing him further to the language.

He went to the government Sanskrit school in Bagru, where his father, Ramzan Khan, even today sings bhajans, including ones that promote conservation of cows.

“I wanted to study Sanskrit so in Class 2, I got into the village Sanskrit school. My younger brother, Waris, also went to the same school,” Dr. Firoze said, and added, the Sanskrit school in Bagru is next to the village mosque and has several Muslim students.

“It did not matter in the village. In fact, it did not matter in the college also. I never faced any discrimination because of my religious identity. I am thankful to my teachers for that, especially Prof Ram Kumar Sharma of Rashtriya Sanskrit Sansthan (RSKS) and Harish Chandra Tiwari, who taught me in Acharya (postgraduate) and is now in Uttarakhand,” he said.

RSKS is an interdisciplinary deemed university for teaching of ancient and modern language and literature. Firoze says he was the only Muslim studying there for the Shastri (undergraduate) degree. He also taught at his alma mater for more than three years before he was selected for Sanskrit Vidya Dharm Vigyan (SVDV) at BHU.

During college, Dr. Firoze and other friends staged Sanskrit plays. “We have performed in Jaipur, Nagaur, Jodhpur and Bharatpur,” he said.

On the eve of Sanskrit Day on August 14 this year, he was the only Muslim to be awarded the ‘Sanskrit Yuva Pratibha Samman’ by Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot.

Like his father and two elder brothers, Firoze also loves to sing. He is a regular in the Vartavali programme telecast on Doordarshan every Saturday evening, where he sings Hindi film songs translated into Sanskrit.



Saudi rights body calls for law against underage marriages


November 12, 2019

JEDDAH: The Saudi Human Rights Commission (SHRC), the Kingdom’s official human rights institution, has recommended the immediate issuing of a law to ban marriages to people under the age of 18.

It has also warned guardians that preventing daughters aged over 18 from getting married is a crime for which they will be held accountable.

The SHRC said it has studied the matter with a number of concerned agencies, and there are many negative effects of getting married under the age of 18.

It also noted that the Child Protection Law holds parents and caregivers accountable for children’s upbringing and protecting them from abuse.

Human rights activist Dr. Matouq Al-Sharif said the SHRC, in its statement, is drawing attention to practices by guardians that are contrary to international conventions, in particular the Convention on the Rights of the Child, which was ratified by the Kingdom via the commission.

“Based on the Paris Principles, which was adopted by the UN General Assembly in 1993, the SHRC was granted the right to provide the (Saudi) government with advisory opinions, recommendations, proposals and reports,” Al-Sharif told Arab News.

He added that the SHRC is responsible for ensuring that national legislation, regulations and practices harmonize with the international human rights conventions that the Kingdom has signed.

“One of the tasks of this institution is to follow up on the implementation of such formal pacts, and make sure it is effective,” Al-Sharif said.

“From some people’s point of view, Islam gives a guardian the right to wed his daughter. They claim that the Prophet Mohammed married Aisha when she was still 9 or 11, according to some narratives,” Al-Sharif said.

“However, authentic senior Muslim scholars have denied that and said the prophet asked for her hand when she was at that age. They confirm that the wedding was when Aisha was no longer a child.”

The human rights activist noted that the SHRC’s statement is a message to the relevant authorities to enact a law that rejects ideas that are contrary to Islam.

Al-Sharif said that the commission has long sought to change the belief that under-age marriages are permissible.

“It has even interfered to stop a number of marriages to minors in different parts of the country. Moreover, it has issued a medical study in cooperation with the Health Ministry. The study highlighted the health risks to minors of such marriages,” he said.

According to Al-Sharif, the SHRC received a letter from the ministry stating that it had conducted a study on the issue and found serious health risks associated with such marriages.

“The Health Ministry … listed a number of health risks, including osteoporosis … due to lack of calcium, anaemia, abortions, acute high blood pressure that may lead to kidney failure, pelvis and spinal deformities, and many other risks,” he said.

In a statement posted on its Twitter account, the SHRC said enacting such a law would protect children and maintain their rights.

The statement added that many studies have proven that underage marriages have negative physical and psychological effects. It said local and international laws consider people under the age of 18 as children.

The SHRC also issued a statement describing families preventing their adult daughters from marrying as a clear violation of human rights.

The SHRC stressed that Saudi law criminalizes such actions, and that the appropriate authorities would deal with any reported cases. It added that under Shariah law, any woman experiencing such treatment could file a lawsuit.

It has called on relevant authorities to help raise awareness among women about their rights, and to highlight the penalties for those who violate the law.



87 Muslim scholars, including Libya's Mufti, call for boycotting UAE

November 11, 2019

A call for boycotting the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and its goods was signed by 87 Muslim scholars, including the Mufti of Libya, Sheikh Al-Sadiq Al-Gharyani.

The call urged on businesspersons who are working in the UAE to find another country for their business and to boycott its ports as they are important sources of economic funds for Abu Dhabi.

"This boycott call is driven by the direct intervention of the UAE in several Arab and Muslim countries like Libya, Egypt, Yemen, Kashmir and Uygurs in China. Intervening in those areas by flowing money and arms caused deaths and corruption among Muslims." The scholars said.

They said it is obvious that the UAE crimes have left millions of casualties due to its interventions in Yemen and Libya; killed, injured and displaced people, in addition to destroying properties and infrastructure that need tens of years and millions in cash to build.

The scholars said the significant part of the money used by UAE to fund arms deals and send them to destroy Muslim countries is from the businesspersons' trade work money in Abu Dhabi, let alone its exports.

"Whenever you find a war in this world, you could sense the UAE's intervention in it either secretly or publicly, buying arms and aircraft as well as mercenaries to kill Muslims and destroy their countries." The statement signed by the scholars said.

The call was based on Quranic and Prophetic words, which say the enemy should be made weak economically to stop wreaking havoc in the world.



ATC charges Khadim Hussain Rizvi, others in case against violent protests

Rana BilalNovember 12, 2019

An anti-terrorism court (ATC) in Lahore on Tuesday formally charged Tehreek-i-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) chief Khadim Hussain Rizvi and others in a case concerning the violent protests initiated by TLP following a Supreme Court verdict acquitting Aasia Bibi last year.

ATC-I Judge Arshad Hussain Bhutta announced the charges brought against the religio-political leaders. Strict security arrangements had been made for the proceedings.

A total of 26 suspects — including Rizvi and TLP patron-in-chief Pir Afzal Qadri — were issued copies of the challan. Some of the suspects appeared in court today along with counsels Tahir Minhas and Nasir Minhas.

Additionally, the ATC issued summonses for the witnesses for the next hearing, which will be held tomorrow (November 13).

Violent protests had erupted in different parts of the country soon after the Supreme Court's verdict acquitting Aasia Bibi was announced, as activists of TLP and other religious parties took to the streets and blocked major roads and intersections through sit-ins and by putting up barricades.

The case against the accused had been registered at the Civil Lines police station in Lahore on charges of sedition and terrorism for delivering anti-state speeches and inciting violence during the three-day protests against Aasia Bibi’s acquittal.

The FIR against the accused referenced Sections 290, 291, 353, 427, 186 and 188 of the Pakistan Penal Code (PPC), Section 6 of the Sound System Punjab Ordinance, 2015 and Section 7 of the Anti-Terrorism Act, 1997

The initial protest was disbanded after the government provided assurances. Rizvi was taken into protective custody by police on Nov 23, 2018 amidst a massive crackdown against TLP workers. The crackdown had come two days before the TLP said it would resume its protest against Aasia Bibi's acquittal.

The ATC will take up the case tomorrow (November 13) and has decided to hear the case on a daily basis.



Ghani confirms release of Anas Haqqani and two other senior Taliban leaders

Tuesday, 12 Nov 2019

President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani confirmed that the government will conditionally release Anas Haqqani from Bagram prison in exchange for the release of two lecturers of the American University of Afghanistan.

Speaking during a press conference, President Ghani said the government will also release two other senior Taliban leaders together with Anas Haqqani.

President Ghani further added that Haji Mali and Abdul Rashid are the two other senior Taliban leaders the government would release with Anas Haqqani.

He also added that the government will release the prisoners after reaching to a conclusion with its international allies.

This comes as reports emerged earlier suggesting that the Afghan government is planning to release Anas Haqqani and two other senior Taliban leaders in exchange for the release of two American University lecturers.



UN: Top Iraqi Shiite cleric backs reforms to resolve unrest

12 November 2019


BAGHDAD: The top Shiite cleric Grand Ayatollah Sayyed Ali Al-Sistani welcomed the UN initiative to dismantle the current crisis and meet the demands of the demonstrators and called on the Iraqi government to stop the arrests and kidnappings of demonstrators.

Baghdad and nine southern Shiite-dominated provinces have been witnessing anti-government mass demonstrations since Oct. 1. More than 300 demonstrators were killed and a further 15,000 injured, mostly in

Baghdad, due to live bullets and tear gas canisters used by Iraqi forces to suppress the demonstrations, medics and officials said.

Demonstrators are demanding the dismissal of the government and early national parliamentary elections, preceded by a change in the election law and the electoral commission and the amendment of the constitution.

However, the political forces have refused to discuss the dismissal or resignation of the government and discuss early elections.

most influential man in Iraq who is seen as the godfather of the political process since 2003, received Jeaine Hennis-Plasschaert, the UN secretary-general’s representative in Iraq on Monday to discuss the latest developments in the country and was handed a copy of the proposals of the UN mission to resolve the crisis.

A copy of the proposals obtained by Arab News included “immediate” measures to be implemented within less than a week, including the release of peaceful demonstrators from Oct. 1 to today, non-prosecution of peaceful demonstrators, the initiation of a full investigation into the cases of kidnapping, identification and disclosure of the kidnappers, punishing officials for the excessive use of force against demonstrators and all regional and international parties not to interfere in Iraqi affairs.

The indirect measures, which are supposed to be implemented in a few weeks, include reforms to electoral law, prohibiting armed factions and preventing the existence of any weapons outside the control of the state and fighting corruption.

The Iraqi people cannot afford to be held back by the past nor by partisan interests. Rising hope asks for a leap forward. The risk of ‘spoilers’ hijacking peaceful protests is increasing, potentially derailing any attempt at genuine change. Tangible results are of the essence.

The medium-term proposed measures, which are supposed to be implemented within one to three months, including constitutional amendments.

Al-Sistani welcomed the UN proposals — presented by Plasschaert — but expressed concern about the lack of seriousness of the political forces to undertake any of the proposed reforms “if the three executive, legislative and judicial authorities are not able to make the necessary reforms or did not want, then (we) must think to find another way,” the statement read.

“The situation cannot continue as it is before the recent protests.”

Al-Sistani is seeking gradual changes with regard to the required reforms and does not prefer armed solutions for fear of involvement of factions linked to Iran in the suppression of demonstrations to protect the interests of their local and regional allies, sources close to Al-Sistani told Arab News.

“Al-Sistani wants young people to continue their demonstrations and sit-ins until all the required reforms are implemented. He is pushing in that direction,” a prominent Shiite leader close to Al-Sistani told Arab News.

“But (Al-Sistani) wants a peaceful handover of power to avoid bloodshed. This takes time and the demonstrators must understand this. Pushing for the immediate handover of power (toppling the government) or stripping the current political forces of all they currently possess, is a dangerous option and cannot be taken. They (the political forces) are murderers and they will not surrender easily and any uncalculated escalation means that blood will flow in the streets,” he said.



Lack of imagination holding Malaysia back, says former Bush aide

Robin Augustin -November 12, 2019

KUALA LUMPUR: A prominent economist says Malaysia is capable of competing with China on the manufacturing front, but that it is being held back by “a lack of imagination”.

Philippa Malmgren, who served as a special assistant to former US president George W Bush, said many in Malaysia believe that China is the most efficient place for manufacturing.

“But this is not true because China’s cost base has become very expensive,” she told FMT on the sidelines of a forum at Universiti Malaya yesterday.

“Wages have increased dramatically and quality control is not very good,” she added.

In fact, she said, many other markets can now compete with China as well, while Chinese companies are even setting up shop in the US.

Malaysia, too, could compete with China in this area if it tried, she said.

Regarding the economy, she said, Malaysia should focus on strengths such as eco and medical tourism. She said the country has many pristine tourism spots and a “fantastic” medical community.

“Medical tourism should be a much bigger part of the economy, with Americans and Europeans coming here for treatment,” she said.

Malmgren, a former member of the president’s working group on financial markets, also said Malaysia is a place of interest for many foreign investors.

“The problem is, Malaysians are not interested in foreign investments,” she said at the forum titled “Weathering the Geopolitical Storm: Malaysia’s New Economic Narrative”.

She referred to the owner of a globally recognised brand whom she said had been considering investing in Malaysia. However, due to various government requirements, the investor had opted for Singapore instead, she said.

“Every nation needs to be more flexible in the modern environment,” she said. “This cuts across everything.”

She said this meant less red tape and the creation of an environment and ecosystem that supports innovation.

Former Johor menteri besar Abdul Ghani Othman who was also at the forum said Malaysia could do better in the continuity of long-term plans, citing Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s vision for Cyberjaya.

Like Singapore’s founding prime minister Lee Kuan Yew, Ghani said Mahathir too had good ideas. The problem, he said, was lack of continuity.

“When Lee retired, he was made a senior minister. When Goh Chok Tong retired, he too was made a senior minister. Maybe it helps.

“What we see here is that when there is a leadership change, policies change and the (previous) ideas either get neglected or marginalised.”

Ghani also said Malaysia needs to improve its preparation in terms of regulatory framework.

“Singapore can receive all the money coming out from Hong Kong because it is ready to receive them. People in the financial sector tell me that we do not have that kind of regulatory framework.”

It was recently reported that Goldman Sachs Group Inc estimates investors have moved some US$4 billion from Hong Kong to Singapore, an alternative financial centre in Asia, amid the ongoing turmoil in the semi-autonomous Chinese territory.


Israeli airstrike kills Islamic Jihad commander in Gaza home

Nov 12, 2019

JERUSALEM: The Israeli military says it has struck a Gaza City house, targeting a commander from the Islamic Jihad group in a resumption of pinpointed killing.

The Iranian-backed Palestinian group confirmed on Tuesday that Bahaa Abu el-Atta, its north Gaza Strip commander, was killed.

Gaza's Health Ministry says a man and a woman have been killed in the blast and two other people were wounded.

The airstrike damaged the half of the second and most of the third floors of a house in the Shejaeya neighborhood east of the city.

Israel media reported lately that Abu el-Atta was responsible for recent rocket attacks against southern Israel communities, instructed by Tehran.

However, Israel often says Hamas, the larger militant group controlling Gaza, is responsible for any fire emanating from the enclave.



The Gambia Accuses Myanmar of Genocide At Top UN Court

11 November 2019

The small west African nation of The Gambia has filed a lawsuit at the UN's top court formally accusing Myanmar of genocide against Rohingya Muslims.

It was filed at the International Court of Justice (ICJ), which normally rules on disputes between states.

Last year, the UN issued a damning report into the violence in Myanmar, saying military leaders should go on trial for genocide.

Myanmar's government denies its troops carried out such crimes.

Thousands of Rohingya were killed and more than 700,000 fled to neighbouring Bangladesh during an army crackdown in the Buddhist-majority country in 2017.

The UN's Independent International Fact Finding Mission on Myanmar said in August 2018 that the army's tactics were "grossly disproportionate to actual security threats" and that "military necessity would never justify killing indiscriminately, gang raping women, assaulting children, and burning entire villages."

Myanmar rejected the report. It has consistently said its operations targeted militant or insurgent threats.

Last year prosecutors at the International Criminal Court (ICC) - which would normally investigate allegations of war crimes as opposed to the ICJ - opened a preliminary inquiry into Myanmar's alleged crimes against its Rohingya Muslim minority.

But the fact that Myanmar has not signed up to the ICC complicates the legal case there and no charges have yet been filed.

Why is Gambia making a complaint?

The Gambia filed a lawsuit to the ICJ - sometimes known as the world court - at the Hague on Monday.

The country, which is majority Muslim, also has the support of the 57-member Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) and a team of international lawyers.

Both it and Myanmar are signatories to the 1948 Genocide Convention, committing them to preventing and punishing the crime of genocide.

In its filing, The Gambia asked the court to implement an injunction to make sure Myanmar immediately "stops atrocities and genocide against its own Rohingya people".

Abubacarr M Tambadou, The Gambia's attorney general and minister of justice, has spearheaded the effort. He previously worked at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda investigating the 1994 genocide there.

The move is being spearheaded by Gambia's Minister of Justice

Mr Tambadou told the BBC last month that he was motivated to act after hearing stories of brutal killings, rape and torture from survivors on a visit to a Rohingya refugee camp in Bangladesh.

Who are the Rohingya?

The Rohingya are a Muslim ethnic minority in Myanmar who have their own language and culture. They mostly live in Rakhine state, which borders Bangladesh.

Despite living in Myanmar for generations, they are not recognised as citizens or counted in the census. Thy are often painted, including by government officials, as illegal immigrants and interlopers from Bangladesh.

On 25 August 2017, Rohingya militants attacked dozens of police posts, killing several officers. Clearance operations by security forces in response saw entire villages burned, and civilians attacked, raped and killed, UN investigators found.

Media captionMyanmar: No homecoming for Rohingyas

Hundreds of thousands fled to Bangladesh, joining many Rohingya living in camps who had fled in earlier waves.

Attempts to repatriate Rohingya have so far failed - with refugees citing the lack of accountability for atrocities committed and uncertainty over their fate on their return.

In October the UN warned that there was a "serious risk of genocide recurring" against those still inside the country.




Agra: NSUI Muslim Student Leader Donates Rs 1100 For Ram Temple

Nov 12, 2019

Agra: In a first after the Supreme Court’s Ayodhya verdict giving the possession of disputed Ramjanmbhoomi site to Hindu parties, the district president of National Students’ Union of India (NSUI) contributed Rs 1,000 for the construction of a Ram temple there on Monday.

NSUI district president Bilal Ahmed handed over a cheque of Rs 1,100 to the district administration.

Handing over the cheque to city magistrate Arun Kumar Yadav at the collectorate, Bilal said, “Do pathar hamari aur say lag jaengay mandir bananey mein toh bahut khushi hogi (I will be very happy if two bricks are included in the temple from my side).”

Expressing happiness over the Ayodhya verdict, Bilal said, “The court has made a remarkable decision in the matter. It is nobody’s win or loss. The biggest thing to cheer is that such an old dispute used by right wing politicians to spread hatred in the society has finally ended. We now hope that the government will focus on strengthening economy and generating jobs for youngsters.”



Name new mosque after Kalam, not Babar: VHP

Nov 12, 2019

LUCKNOW: Functionaries of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) on Monday said they want BJP president and Union home minister Amit Shah as a member of the trust that will decide on the planning and construction of the Ram temple.

VHP also said it would request the Centre to not allow the new mosque-which is to be built on a 5-acre alternative land-to be named Babri Masjid after Babar.

"Babar was an aakranta (attacker) from a foreign country. We will approach the government to not allow this. There are a lot of good Muslims in India. Their contributions to India's peace and development are huge...such as Vir Abdul Hamid, Ashfaqullah Khan and former President APJ Abdul Kalam. The new mosque should be named after any of them," said VHP spokesperson Sharad Sharma, who looks after the Ram Janmabhoomi Nyas karyashala, where engraved stones for the Ram temple have been kept.

One of the Muslim petitioners, meanwhile, said naming the mosque was not important. The primary issue was of consensus on whether or not to accept the land for the mosque.

" Masjid koi Babar ki mohtaaj nahi. Babar ek baadshah tha. (A mosque doesn't depend on any ruler or his popularity)," said Iqbal Ansari, one of the lead petitioners in the title suit case.

"The land is yet to be acquired and there will be a meeting (of the Sunni Waqf Board) on this. I can certainly assure this country that we will live with Hindus without any fuss and with dignity. We will not allow peace to be disturbed," said Ansari.



Ayodhya verdict: Muslims wish to reject 5-acre land

Nov 12, 2019

Hyderabad: A majority of Muslims are of the view that the Sunni Wakf Board must not take the five acres of land awarded to it in the Ayodhya verdict. The Supreme Court had asked the central and state government of Uttar Pradesh to provide this land to the Wakf Board for building a new mosque.

Many Muslims had a consternation over the award — why must we take that land? They reflect a common view of the community that the fight in court was not for land. The judgement of the Supreme Court was the highest, and final, and there was no alternative but to abide by it.

There is anger, despair and dejection in the community but they have decided to be largely silent on social media. Instead, in one-to-one discussions at homes, in conversations with friends  the debate has taken over the attention of the entire Muslim community.

Momin Roshan Zameer, an advocate, said that if we had wanted land for a masjid, “we could have pooled our resources and built one. We do not need this land as it will always remind us of the 500-year-old masjid we lost. The court has not taken our evidence into account but we have stood strong and maintained peace. We have demonstrated that we are not violent. We ha-ve followed the true principles of Islam. We are going to abide by court orders and show that we are true nationalists.”

Given that there is no scope to protest against the order of the Supreme Court, the Muslim community has decided that they would not accept what is offered to them. It is going to be a silent act of protest to bring to notice of the government that they were not happy with the verdict. The community at large does not want to pursue with the government for land.

Zuber Gopalani, an educationist, says, “Despite not being happy with the verdict, there has been commendable restrain. People have been hurt but they have refrained from showing it. If we take the land, it would always stand before us as a blot. It will be a barter. History will remember us as Babri masjid ke saudagar.”

The offer of land has come as a blow to people, who cannot come to terms with it. But some in the community are apprehensive — what if the Uttar Pradesh Sunni Wakf Board takes the land? There are some who opine that even if the Board takes the land, it would merely be a government institution adhering to a court order, to which, the community would not want to be a part of.

However, a minority within the minority community, mostly youngsters, received the court’s award of land, with a positive attitude.

Firoze Ansari, an IT professional, told this newspaper, “We are dejected but we must use this as an opportunity. We have to reject hatred. It cannot be done by rejecting what is being offered to us. We must take the land and build a hospital or a school. It will serve generations to come.”

Youngsters believe that it would also help them showcase the manner in which they accepted and embraced dejection by paving way for an institution, which could serve people of all communities.

They argue that it would be a step forward towards harmony and a break from the past.



Dozens detained in India over social media comments after Babri Mosque

November 12, 2019

Dozens of people in India have been detained on suspicion of publishing inflammatory social media posts and setting off celebratory firecrackers after the Supreme Court ruled to give a disputed religious site to Hindus, police said on Sunday. The statement added that authorities had acted against more than 8,270 posts, with steps including “reporting the posts to the social media platform” and “directly messaging the user to delete the message”.

Most of the content targeted more than 2,800 posts was on Twitter. There were 1,355 allegedly inflammatory comments on Facebook, and 98 YouTube videos, authorities said. Eight other arrests were reported in the central state of Madhya Pradesh for social media comments. A jail warden in the city of Gwalior was also arrested for celebrating with fireworks after Hindus were awarded the site.

The court awarded the bitterly contested site in the northern town of Ayodhya to Hindus on Saturday, dealing a defeat to Muslims who also claim the land that has sparked some of the country’s bloodiest riots since independence. In 1992, a Hindu mob destroyed the 16th-century Babri Mosque on the site, triggering riots in which about 2,000 people, most of them Muslims, were killed.

No major violence was reported after the ruling over the weekend. Authorities said they were showing a “zero tolerance approach” towards potentially inflammatory content on YouTube, Twitter, Facebook and WhatsApp. About 77 people were arrested as of late Sunday in Uttar Pradesh, India’s most populous state and the site of the contested land, state police said on Sunday.

Police have acted upon 8,275 social media posts across the state by either reporting them to the platform or asking users to delete them, the police said in a press note issued late on Sunday.—INP



Ayodhya Verdict: Muslim Body To Decide On Seeking Review In Nov 17

11 NOVEMBER 2019

The decision on seeking a review of the Ayodhya verdict would likely be taken in the meeting of the All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) on November 17, said one of the lead counsel for the Muslim parties in the Ayodhya land dispute case.

In a historic and unanimous verdict, a five-judge constitution bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi had cleared the way for the construction of a Ram temple at the disputed site at Ayodhya. It directed the Centre to allot a separate five-acre plot to the Sunni Waqf Board for building a mosque.

"The decision whether to seek review of the verdict will be taken on November 17 in the meeting of the AIMPLB," senior advocate Zafaryab Jilani told PTI.

Jilani was responding to a question whether the Muslim parties were contemplating to seek a review of the verdict in view of the dissatisfaction in certain sections of the community.

The senior advocate had represented the Muslim parties, including the Uttar Pradesh Sunni Central Waqf Board, in the case in the trial court, Allahabad High Court and the Supreme Court.

Many of the top Muslim leaders and clerics have expressed disinterest in seeking review.

Addressing a press conference on November 9, after the verdict came out, AIMPLB Secretary Zafaryab Jilani said, "We are dissatisfied with certain findings of the Supreme Court.... We respect the Supreme Court verdict and respectfully disagree with certain aspects of it."

However, The Uttar Pradesh Sunni Central Waqf Board, one of the main litigants in the Ram Janmbhoomi-Babri Masjid case, welcomed the Supreme Court verdict and said it has no plans to challenge it.

While decreeing the lawsuit in favour of deity "Ram Lalla Virajman", the apex court had exercised its extraordinary jurisdiction under Article 142 of the Constitution and directed the Centre to allot five acres of land to the Sunni Central Waqf Board for construction of mosque.

It clarified that either the central government can give the five-acre land to the Sunni Waqf Board from the nearly 68 acres land which it had acquired in 1993 under the Acquisition of Certain Area at Ayodhya Act or the state government could hand over the piece of land at a "suitable prominent place in Ayodhya".


Arab World


Sudan’s Islamist PCP supports al-Bashir handover to ICC

November 11, 2019 (KHARTOUM) - Ali al-Haj Secretary-General of the Islamist Popular Congress Party (PCP) on Monday voiced his party’s support for the handover of ousted President Omer al-Bashir to the International Criminal Court (ICC).

"Since the time of its late founder, Hassan al-Turabi, the Party has demanded that Bashir surrender himself to the Court and respond to the charges directed against him of responsibility for war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide," al-Haj told a news conference.

He added that "the position of the party remains the same and has not changed neither after the death of Turabi nor after the fall of the regime."

The PCP was part of the al-Bashir government until the collapse of his regime. Also, al-Haj had refused calls by the Party’s youth to join the revolution.

His support for al-Bashir handover comes after statements by the ruling coalition FFC and Prime Minister Handok saying the former president would be delivered to the war crimes court in The Hague.

To explain his position the PCP leader further said, "There are no courts (in the country) that can try al-Bashir, especially since the justice institutions in Sudan are not yet completed."

"Handing al-Bashir over to the ICC is an old demand that reflects our vision," he stressed.

The ousted president is accused by the ICC of masterminding war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide and issued two warrants of arrests against him in 2009 and 2010.

In another context, al-Haj said the FFC government considers the dissolution of the PCP and the National Congress Party of al-Bashir and other Islamist groups.

He further warned against such a move saying it is aimed at empowering the left.

Sudanese government officials said they consider the dissolution of the NCP as the latter has launched a campaign against the government using the government’s failure to draw financial support or to remove US sanctions on Sudan.



500 visitors from 60 countries visit historic Jeddah

JEDDAH: Five hundred guests from 60 countries today toured the Historic Jeddah area. The guests had already attended the international conference “Sustainable Marine Development Towards 2030 and Beyond” organized this month by the Public Transport Authority (PTA) in cooperation with the International Maritime Organization.

The tour included Umrah in Makkah and a visit to Historic Jeddah in the presence of the Vice President of the PTA Fareed Al-Qahtani and the authority’s employees.

The tour started from “Bab El-Madinah” (the city’s gate) and ended with a visit to “Beit Nassif” (Nassif Mansion), during which the visitors were acquainted with the house’s architecture and interior designs, and dined in the traditional houses to experience the authentic Saudi Hijazi flavor.

Visitors were accompanied by Samir Qumsani, founder and chairman of the Saudi Tour Guides Association, and tour guide Sami Khiari. They were given a full explanation of the history of the city and its various historical epochs, including ancient methods of construction with excavated stones, and “Rawashin” artistic designs that characterize the Hijazi traditional houses in Jeddah.

Visitors also attended a folkloric show including “Ardah” traditional dance, oboe and other artistic exhibitions, all performed by an artistic group.



Saudi deputy defense minister meets ruler of Oman

November 12, 2019

MUSCAT: Saudi Arabia’s Deputy Defense Minister Prince Khalid bin Salman who is in Oman on an official visit met Sultan Qaboos bin Said on Monday. He conveyed King Salman’s greetings to Sultan Qaboos. 

Earlier, on his arrival in Muscat, the Saudi deputy defense minister was received by Sayyid Badr bin Saud bin Hareb Al-Busaidi, minister responsible for defense affairs in the Sultanate of Oman, Chief of Staff of the Sultan’s Armed Forces Lt. Gen. Ahmed bin Harith Al-Nabhani and other officials. Prince Khalid will meet top officials and discuss bilateral ties. They will review issues of common concern and matters related to the security and stability of the region.



Attack in Damascus kills two, wounds six — state media


November 12, 2019

CAIRO: At least two people were killed and six wounded in an attack in the early hours of Tuesday that targeted a building in Damascus, the Syrian capital, state television said.

The building, which state media identified as a civilian home, is located near the Lebanese embassy in Mezzah, a western district of the capital that is home to Damascus University and many foreign embassies.

State media did not say who had carried out the attack.




Cabinet sub-committee deliberates removal of Nawaz's name from ECL

Inamullah Khattak | Javed HussainNovember 12, 2019

A sub-committee of the cabinet convened on Tuesday to prepare recommendations over the matter of the removal of former prime minister Nawaz Sharif's name from the no-fly list.

The meeting, chaired by Law Minister Farogh Naseem, is being attended by Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Accountability Shahzad Akbar, Nawaz's personal physician Dr Adnan Khan, PML-N leader Ataullah Tarar and Health Secretary Momin Agha. Head of the medical board which was examining Nawaz at Services Institute of Medical Sciences (SIMS), Dr Mahmood Ayaz, has also appeared before the committee.

Interior Secretary Azam Suleman is also present in the meeting.

According to reports received so far, the health secretary submitted three medical reports, one of which clearly stated that Nawaz needed to be shifted abroad for medical treatment.

The National Accountability Bureau (NAB) prosecutor, who had been summoned to present the anti-corruption watchdog's stance on the matter, told the committee that the body had no objection to Nawaz being sent abroad for medical treatment on humanitarian grounds.

The sub-committee will forward its recommendations to the cabinet, which will decide whether the former prime minister's name should be taken off the Exit Control List. The cabinet meeting will be held today.

The sub-committee's meeting was called after NAB refused to decide whether former ailing prime minister Nawaz's name should be removed from the no-fly list. It will discuss an application filed by the Leader of Opposition in the National Assembly Shahbaz Sharif, who wants his elder brother to fly to London for better medical care.

'The sooner the better'

PML-N spokesperson Marriyum Aurangzeb said that an air ambulance will arrive in Lahore on Wednesday so that former prime minister Nawaz Sharif can travel abroad for medical treatment.

In a statement, Aurangzeb said: "According to doctors, the sooner Mohammad Nawaz Sharif is shifted abroad, the better it would be for his treatment."

She said that doctors will begin preparations to enable Nawaz to travel from today.

"Nawaz is already being administered with a high dose of steroids. His platelet count will be raised by injecting steroids and medicines so that he can travel."

Aurangzeb declared that Nawaz's health was deteriorating every day and doctors had called for an air ambulance for him on Monday.

The PML-N spokesperson added that the "biggest challenge" for doctors abroad will be to figure out the reason behind Nawaz's falling platelet count.

Request for Nawaz to go abroad

Nawaz was rushed from Kot Lakhpat jail to the hospital last month after his personal physician Dr Adnan raised an alarm over his deteriorating health. Doctors have been struggling to bring his platelet count — that had dropped to dangerous levels — back to normal.

PML-N President Shehbaz had last week submitted a request to the interior ministry as well as NAB for the removal of Nawaz's name from the ECL so that the former prime minister could travel abroad for medical treatment. Nawaz has been diagnosed with an immune system disorder and his condition is said to be "extremely critical".

“Nawaz Sharif has finally agreed to go to London after the doctors told him categorically that they had already exhausted all medical treatment [options] available in Pakistan and going abroad is the only option left,” a Sharif family source told Dawn last week.

In a statement, the interior ministry said last week that it had forwarded Nawaz's health reports received from Sharif Medical City, Lahore to the "Standing Medical Board" for their input and review.

The statement said that the ministry took all necessary actions keeping in view the urgency of the matter as pleaded by Shehbaz in his request.

There were reports that the former prime minister may leave for London on Monday; however, the procedure to remove his name from the no-fly list could not be completed. In addition, his platelet count remained unstable and, according to PML-N spokesperson Marriyum Aurangzeb, doctors continued to struggle to get his platelet levels up to the required mark for travel.

Meanwhile, Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi on Sunday said that "legal obstacles" to Sharif's departure were being removed as doctors had stressed that medical treatment abroad was needed to save his life.

“The government has given importance to the doctors' opinion,” Qureshi had told reporters in Multan.

“We pray to God for his recovery, so that he returns with good health and takes part in politics,” he added.

Nawaz, who was incarcerated after an accountability court found him guilty in the Al Azizia corruption reference, was granted bail by the Islamabad High Court on humanitarian grounds. He also obtained bail in the Chaudhry Sugar Mills case, in which he is a suspect, from the Lahore High Court.

Nawaz's daughter Maryam will not be able to accompany her father abroad as she had to surrender her passport in order to secure her release on bail in the Chaudhry Sugar Mills case.



JUI-F to play role in getting PMC ordinance rejected in Senate

Ikram JunaidiUpdated November 12, 2019

ISLAMABAD: After failing to convince the government to withdraw Pakistan Medical Commission (PMC) Ordinance 2019, sacked employees of Pakistan Medical and Dental Council (PMDC) on Monday met Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam (JUI-F) chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman and got an assurance that his party would play its role in disapproving the bill in the Senate.

The JUI-F chief also directed senators Maulana Abdul Ghafoor Haideri and Talha Mehmood to contact other opposition parties and devise a strategy to restore the dissolved PMDC.

On Oct 19, President Dr Arif Alvi promulgated an ordinance which left the PMDC dissolved and paved the way for establishment of a new organisation namely PMC. On Oct 20, despite being a Sunday, the Ministry of National Health Services (NHS) sealed the building of the council and announced to terminate services of its 220 employees.

The PMC is a body consisting of three components - Medical and Dental Council, National Medical and Dental Academic Board and National Medical Authority - which will act as a Secretariat of the commission.

After meeting a delegation of sacked employees, Fazlur Rehman asks party senators to contact other opposition parties

Moreover, the government on Nov 7 tabled the PMC ordinance in the National Assembly and contrary to the usual practice passed the bill without referring it to a standing committee.

Former PMDC registrar Azhar Ali Shah, who led the 10-member delegation to meet JUI-F chief at his residence in G-6, told Dawn that though members of all opposition parties visited a protest camp of the sacked employees not a single representative of the government bothered to meet them.“The JUI chief had condemned the presidential ordinance just after its promulgation. Then he sent Abdul Ghafoor Haideri to visit our camp. He also condemned the sacking of the employees during his speech at Azadi March,” he said.

“On Monday, not only the Maulana listened to our issue with patience but also assured us that he would play his role in restoring the PMDC. He also said if the PMDC employees lost their jobs, the government would continue sacking employees in other departments as well,” he said.

He said the Maulana directed senators Ghafoor Haideri and Talha Mehmood to contact opposition parties and play their role for disapproval of the PMC bill which would soon be tabled in the Senate.Meanwhile, employees of the dissolved PMDC continued their protest on the 22nd day and condemned the promulgation of the ordinance.

They said they would continue both legal and political efforts for restoration of the PMDC.

They thanked the Sindh and Gilgit-Baltistan assemblies for passing resolutions against the presidential ordinance.



'Will Continue Our Struggle Till We Are Free From This Illegitimate Govt,' Says Fazlur Rehman

November 12, 2019

He said that JUI-F was currently consulting all parties, adding that the whole country is on the same page.

"We will continue our struggle till we are free from this illegitimate government," he said.

Residents of the capital complain about disruptions in daily life caused by the JUI-F-led sit-in, which continues without an end in sight.

"Our life is badly disrupted because of the closure of Kashmir Highway as the traffic load is shifted on small roads," said Mohammad Shah, a resident of G-10.

Contrary to the past when such protests were held at D-Chowk, the participants of JUI-F’s sit-in are camped on Kashmir Highway at H-9 and G-9 in the middle of the city.

This has resulted in the blockade of a portion of the highway which also leads to the Islamabad International Airport. Sector H-9 houses a large number of schools as well.



India has lost Gandhi’s path, says Qureshi

Baqir Sajjad Syed

November 12, 2019

ISLAMABAD: Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi on Monday said India had lost the path of Mahatma Gandhi, who preached tolerance and non-violence, and it had now been taken over by extremist Hindu organisation Rashtriya Swayam­sevak Sangh (RSS).

He was talking to reporters at the Parliament House on human rights abuses being committed by Indian troops in occupied Kashmir and the growing violence in India in general, including cases of mob lynching, child abuse, rape and sexual oppression and communal intolerance.

His comments were specifically in the context of the Indian Supreme Court’s verdict in the Ayodhya dispute case relating to the site of 16th century Babri Mosque, in which the court ruled in favour of Hindus who want to construct a temple at the site.

The court further ordered setting up of a trust within three months for the construction of the temple.

Babri Mosque was demolished in 1992 by a Hindu mob.

Earlier, in its reaction, the Foreign Office had said that the Indian Supreme Court’s verdict in the Ayodhya dispute had exposed India’s secular face and it had brought into the focus the shrinking space for minorities there.

“India of today is not India of Gandhi and Nehru. It is now Hindustan, which is dominated by supremacist Hindutva ideology. After disregarding Gandhi’s values, secular India has got buried … under RSS ideology,” Mr Qureshi said.

The foreign minister said that Pakistan and India were following two contrasting trajectories as was witnessed on Nov 9 when Pakistan was “setting up a Gurdwara (Sikh worship place)” while India was “demolishing a mosque”.

He said the purpose of establishing the Kartarpur Corridor was to convey to the world that Pakistan was a country that valued religious minorities and offered them complete freedom to practice their religion.

“In contrast you see occupied Kashmir’s Srinagar Jamia mosque that is locked every Friday, Eid prayers are not allowed there, mourning processions during Muharram were banned in the valley and Kashmiris there are barred from holding Eid Miladun Nabi celebrations,” he said, adding that the Indian government by resorting to such actions had deprived the people of the valley of their fundamental rights.

“India’s real face is being exposed before the world as Pakistan tells the world about India’s atrocities in held Kashmir,” Mr Qureshi said.


South Asia


ISIS militant hands himself and 45 family members of his comrades to Afghan Special Forces

Tuesday, 12 Nov 2019

A militant of ISIS Khurasan terrorist group handed himself over to the Afghan Special Forces in Achin district of Nangarhar province.

According to a statement released by Special Operations Corps, the ISIS militant also handed over 45 family members of his comrades to Special Forces, including 17 women, 13 children and 15 girls.

The statement further added that the militant also handed over an Ak-47 assault rifle to Special Forces.

The ISIS sympathizers have not commented in this regard so far.

The Special Operations Corps also added that the Special Forces intensified pressure on ISIS militants and the terror group is on the verge of total defeat in East of Afghanistan.



Special Forces kill, detain 18 Taliban and ISIS militants in Kabul and 2 other provinces

Tuesday, 12 Nov 2019

The Afghan Special Forces killed 10 Taliban and ISIS militants and arrested 8 others during the operations in Kabul, Baghlan and Nangarhar provinces.

The military officials said Tuesday the Special Forces arrested 8 Taliban militants and destroyed a cache of weapons during a raid in Kabul city.

The officials further added that the Special Forces killed 6 Taliban militants and destroyed a small cache of weapons during a raid in Baghlan-e Jadid district of Baghlan province.

The Special Forces killed 4 ISIS militants during another raid in Achin district of Nangarhar, the officials said, adding that the Special Forces also destroyed a small cache of weapons during the same raid.

The Taliban and ISIS militants have not commented regarding the operations so far.



Airstrikes kill 20 Taliban militants in five provinces

Monday, 11 Nov 2019

The security forces conducted airstrikes in five provinces of Afghanistan in the past 24 hours killing at least 20 Taliban militants, the military officials said.

The officials further added an airstrike in Chak-e Wardak district of Wardak province killed four Taliban militants.

Another airstrike in Zurmat district of Paktiya killed two Taliban militants, the officials said, adding that a similar airstrike in Shinkai district of Zabul killed three Taliban militants.

The officials also added that an airstrike in Maruf district of Kandahar killed 9 Taliban militants while an air raid in Nad Ali district of Helmand killed two Taliban militants.

The Taliban group has not commented regarding the airstrikes so far.



4 Pakistani militants blown up by own bomb in Paktiya province

By Khaama Press / in Afghanistan / on Monday, 11 Nov 2019

An explosion triggered by an improvised explosive device killed four Pakistani militants in South-eastern Paktiya province of Afghanistan.

According to a statement released by provincial government, an explosion went off among Pakistani militants in Andar area of Samkanai district on Sunday evening, killing four militants.

The statement further added that the militants were busy planting a roadside bomb in the area when the explosives went off prematurely.

Taliban militants and other militant groups often use improvised explosive device to target the security forces and government officials.

However, majority of such attacks inflict casualties on ordinary civilians.



China welcomes opening of Kartarpur Corridor

NOVEMBER 12, 2019

China on Monday welcomed the opening of Kartarpur Corridor, stating it is a good gesture on the part of Pakistan for promoting friendly ties with India.

While commenting on this important development, a spokesperson of the Chinese Foreign Ministry Geng Shuang said, “We have noticed relevant reports and welcomed the positive interaction between India and Pakistan.

Both India and Pakistan, he added, are important countries in South Asia. It is in the fundamental interests of both sides to live in harmony with each other and is also the common expectation of the international community.

We hope that the two sides will continue to interpret goodwill and move in the same direction, properly handle differences through dialogue, improve relations, and jointly safeguard regional peace and stability.

Replying to a question about the recently held internal meetings between the governments of China and Afghanistan in Beijing, the spokesperson said, China firmly supports the process of broad and inclusive peace and reconciliation of “Afghan-dominated and Afghan-owned” and supports constructive dialogue between the Afghan parties, including the Afghan government and the Taliban.

On the basis of respecting the wishes of the Afghan parties, China is willing to provide a platform for dialogue and exchanges between the relevant parties and provide assistance for advancing the process of peace and reconciliation in Afghanistan.

China was holding an internal meeting of the Afghans in China to maintain communication with relevant parties in Afghanistan.

Commenting on provocative remarks made against China by US secretary of State Mr. Pompeo during his visit to Germany, he said attacking Communist Party of China was for personal political purposes.

In the 70 years since the founding of the People’s Republic of China, the Chinese Communist Party has led the Chinese people to realise a historic leap from standing up to becoming rich and strong, and has been wholeheartedly supported by all Chinese people. The leadership position of the Communist Party of China is the most essential feature of socialism with Chinese characteristics and is the choice of history and people. The Chinese people have a firm confidence in their own roads, theories, systems, and cultures, and will unswervingly follow the path of socialism with Chinese characteristics and continue to achieve new glory.

No one should fantasise about shaking our beliefs and blocking the pace of our progress. Pompey’s thoughts on the Cold War’s thinking, denying China’s socialist system and provoking the relationship between the Chinese Communist Party and the Chinese people to serve their own political doctrine are doomed to failure.

It is worth noting that for some time, individual people in the United States have ignored the trend of the 21st century’s peaceful development and open cooperation to promote the law of human science and technology progress, politicising and generalising all technical issues and commercial cooperation into national security issues.

Attempts to artificially create a “curtain wall” of ideology between Chinese and foreign companies. In the absence of any factual basis, the US side repeatedly made rumours of Chinese enterprises, deliberately disrupted the development of Chinese enterprises and foreign cooperation, and harmed others. Not only did China resolutely oppose it, but the United States and other countries would not agree.

We must once again urge Pompeo to abandon the ideological prejudice and the outdated Cold War mentality, return to reason, abandon the practice of disregarding the interests of the Chinese and American peoples for personal political figures, stop the chattering anti-China rhetoric, and do something consistent with the status of the Secretary of State, ” he added.



Airstrikes kill 11 Taliban militants in Paktiya and Logar provinces

Tuesday, 12 Nov 2019

The security forces conducted airstrikes in Paktiya and Logar provinces which killed at least 11 Taliban militants, the military officials said.

The officials further added an airstrike in Jaji district of Paktiya killed two militants of the Taliban group.

A similar airstrike in Ahmad Khel district of Paktiya killed two more militants of the group, the officials said, adding that another airstrike in Pul-e Alam district of Logar killed 7 Taliban militants.

The Taliban group has not commented regarding the airstrikes so far.

Both Paktiya and Logar are among the relatively volatile provinces in central and south-eastern parts of the country.

Taliban militants are active in some remote and restive areas of the two provinces and often conduct terrorist related activities.

Meanwhile, the Afghan forces routinely conduct counter-terrorism operations against the anti-government armed groups in the two provinces.

The U.S. forces also conduct regular airstrikes in restive parts of the country to suppress Taliban and other anti-government militants.




UN watchdog confirms Iran nuclear breach

12 November 2019

JEDDAH: In the latest breach of its nuclear deal with major world powers, Iran has started enriching uranium at its underground Fordow facility, the UN’s nuclear watchdog confirmed on Monday.

Tehran’s enriched uranium stock has continued to grow, the experts added, as Iran contravenes the limits set by the deal on its nuclear activities.

Iran announced last week that it had begun enriching uranium at its Fordow site, which is buried inside a mountain. This is prohibited by the 2015 nuclear deal, more formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.

In its quarterly report, the International Atomic Energy Agency, which polices the deal, confirmed the Iranian announcement was true.

“Since Nov. 9 ... Iran has been conducting uranium enrichment at the plant,” according to the confidential IAEA report, a copy of which was obtained by Reuters and also seen by AFP.

“The agency detected natural uranium particles of anthropogenic origin at a location in Iran not declared to the agency.” Anthropogenic means that the particles are the result of human activity and not naturally occurring.

The report also confirmed that Tehran has ramped up its enrichment of uranium, and its stockpile of enriched material has reached the equivalent of 551 kilograms, almost double the 300 kg limit laid down in the nuclear deal.

Experts described the Iranian enrichment activity as a serious breach of the agreement.

“The discovery of the uranium particles is part of the evidence that Iran is continuing to experiment and develop its nuclear weapons program, or at least components of it, in order to keep processes up to date,” said Theodore Karasik, a senior adviser to Gulf State Analytics in Washington, DC.

The fact that the particles were discovered in an undeclared area is a major violation that will add to the atmosphere of distrust and increase the challenges facing the European states that seek to keep Iran in the JCPOA framework, he added.

President Donald Trump withdrew the US from the nuclear deal in May 2018.

Karasik said the current breach goes far beyond previous contraventions.

“Iran plays a game with numbers in terms of centrifuges and enrichment schema,” he explained. “The violation here is much more egregious than any in the past as it deals with a previously undisclosed location outside of Tehran. As we can see, Iran is not genuine in its approach ... so trust is difficult, if not impossible.”



Bolivia’s deposed Evo Morales seeks asylum in Mexico, but vows to return ‘with more strength & energy’

12 Nov, 2019

Former Bolivian President Evo Morales has announced his departure to Mexico, where he has been granted asylum, after opposition protests and military officials’ pressure forced the socialist leader’s resignation.

Following his abrupt resignation over the weekend, Morales said he would flee Bolivia to take up the Mexican government’s offer for political asylum extended earlier on Monday, but promised to return with renewed energy. Mexico’s Foreign Minister confirmed that Morales had boarded a Mexican government aircraft “sent to ensure his safe transfer to our country.”

“Sisters and brothers, I leave for Mexico,” Morales said in a tweet on Monday night, adding he was “grateful” to Mexico for providing asylum and “[taking] care of our lives.”

Morales was forced to resign from his post after weeks of opposition protests over a disputed election result, which culminated in military leaders 'advising' the embattled president to step down. While slamming the opposition forces as coup plotters and insisting he won October’s election fair and square, Morales nonetheless agreed to resign in order to calm tensions across the country.

Hectic protests and clashes between rival activists have continued in cities around Bolivia even after Morales’s resignation. In La Paz on Monday night, security forces and opposition protesters erected barricades in the streets in preparation for a large confrontation, as thousands of Morales supporters march toward the city.



Plans to build dedicated Muslim prayer centre in Dalton

By Dan Taylor

PLANS for the first dedicated prayer space for Muslims in south Cumbria have been lodged with council bosses.

A community centre and prayer hall could be built in Dalton if plans are approved.

It would situated at Crooklands Brow in Ulverston Road.

A design and access statement making up the plans said: “The proposal is to construct a two storey community centre and prayer hall.

“There is currently no dedicated place of prayer of any sufficient size in the south of Cumbria for the Muslim community.

“The purpose of the newly established South Lakes Islamic Centre organisation is to provide a building that offers public prayer space for the Muslim community based in south Cumbria.

“It is also proposed to provide a public community space, which will have the aim of providing a platform for community integration; operating an open door policy in order to engage with the wider community and share with the local people the various cultures belonging to the religion of Islam.

“The ground floor of the building will provide for a central community hall, welfare facilities, storage rooms, plant and stair/lift access.”

The plans says the building materials used will be in-keeping with the local area.

The propose building would measure 26 metres in width and eight metres in depth.

There would be space for 12 cars and as well as two motorbikes in the adjacent car park.

A number of houses on the road have been consulted with on the plans, along with Our Lady of the Rosary Roman Catholic School.

After consultation the plans are due to be assessed.

Then an officers report will be issued, before the proposals are ultimately decided on by Barrow Borough Council’s planning committee.

Members of Dalton Town Council are also due to be consulted with on the proposals. Councillors said they had not seen the plans so could not comment on. The proposals could be among the planning applications up for discussion at the next meeting of the town council at the beginning of next month.



Tories urged to ditch candidate over 'disgusting' articles on HIV and Muslims with 'divided loyalties'

12th November 2019

The party has called on Boris Johnson to intervene to dump Anthony Browne, a former aide to the Tory leader, from running in South Cambridgeshire over the "shocking" comments.

The row centres on a series of articles penned by Mr Browne for The Spectator between 2002 and 2003, as well as his book 'Do We Need Mass Immigration?', which have been brought to light by The Guardian.

"It is through letting in too many germs.”

He also called on the then-government to stop "the influx of HIV immigrants" as a more effective way to halt the spread of the virus than promoting contraception.

Similar passages in his book urge Britain to stop treating African aids victims because the country "can no longer ignore the entirely preventable Aids holocaust consuming the continent next door".

He also hit out at Muslim leaders over their objections to the war in Iraq, writing: "Whatever the merits or demerits of war on Iraq, it is hardly a national strength to have a large minority with such divided loyalties during war."

The articles were at the centre of a previous row when Mr Browne became Boris Johnson's policy director as mayor of London.

The then-aide said at the time: "I do very much regret any offence caused by any past newspaper articles. It really never was my intention to cause offence, but to provoke debate. The articles, which I deeply regret writing, also don’t give a fair reflection of my views. I want to make clear that I am emphatically not anti-immigration."

But Labour urged the Tories to junk Mr Browne's candidacy, with shadow equalities minister Naz Shah accusing him of "disgusting racism".

She told The Guardian: "It’s shocking that someone with such despicable views has been selected to stand for the Conservative party.

“Given his personal relationship with Anthony Browne, Boris Johnson should personally intervene and remove him as a candidate."

Former Conservative co-chair Baroness Warsi - who has been sharply critical of the party's handling of Islamophobia within its ranks - also blasted the comments, saying the choice of Mr Browne "perfectly illustrates where we’ve gone wrong as Conservatives".

Ian Sollom, who is standing for the Lib Dems in South Cambridgeshire, said the comments showed how "divisive and extreme" the Conservatives had become.

"They should urgently consider whether Anthony Browne is a suitable candidate to represent their party in light of these remarks," he added.

A Conservative party spokesperson said: "These comments were made over 15 years ago, Anthony Browne has apologised for these comments and sincerely regrets them."

The row came as a Liberal Democrat candidate was forced to step down after being accuses of posting a string of racist and homophobic tweets.

Kevin McNamara, the party's candidate for Thurrock in Essex, said he was "deeply sorry for the comments that I made" as the Liberal Democrats confirmed they were launching a "disciplinary process" into the social media posts.

Screenshots circulating on Twitter appeared to show the candidate using the word "fa**ot", and repeatedly making offensive references to black people.

In a statement, he said: “I am deeply sorry for the comments that I made that are currently being reported in the press.

"These words are deeply offensive and I apologise profusely to everybody that I have offended with these tweets.

"I would never want to undermine the voices of those communities with slurs or degradation and it's important that people who want to represent the public are held to the very highest standard.

"I am resigning as a candidate with immediate effect for the upcoming election. I apologise to all of those I have let down with my past conduct and will work hard to regain their trust."



Touching gesture from members from the West End Islamic Centre

11 NOV 2019

ByRachael Nichol

Nearly 400 new donors are needed every day to meet the need of patients in England and each donation can save up to three people’s lives.

Dozens of members from Tawheed Islamic Centre attended the group donation to help save the lives of those in need.

With the NHS revealing only 6% of donors are black, Asian and minority ethic communities in the UK, there is a shortage of donors from Asian backgrounds.

And this group donation session was set up with the aim of promoting blood donation in the Muslim community to help improve this.

Coinciding with Muharram, a month of remembrance in September for Hussain ibn Ali, grandson of the Islamic Prophet Muhammad, the Muslim community came together to help save others lives.

Sheikh Meisam Ghasemi, Director of Tawheed Islamic Centre, Bentinck Road, Newcastle, said: "Blood donation is a way for us to honour the sacrifice made by Hussain ibn Ali and to help those in need.

"Giving blood is quick, safe, and clean, and the whole donation process is easy.

"We want to encourage donors from all backgrounds and hope that this group session will become a regular event."

With the need for more donors from different ethnic backgrounds, Newcastle Donor Centre was delighted with the member’s kind donations.

Lynn Woods, Newcastle Donor Centre manager, said: “We are very grateful to Sheikh Ghasemi and everyone at the Tawheed Islamic Centre for making their first donations.

"Blood donation saves lives and to supply hospitals we need people to donate throughout the year.

"It’s easy to register to become a donor, we need nearly 400 new, first time donors every day to meet patients’ needs, to replace those people who can no longer donate for reasons such as ill health, age and pregnancy.

"Our donor centres are the perfect place to make your first donation, they are bright and modern with WiFi, charging points, and you can often find appointments in the evenings and weekends.

"There are around 48,000 donors from black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) communities in the UK – around 6% of overall donors – and we need more.

"People from the same ethnic background are more likely to be a match but there is a shortage of Asian donors."

NHS Blood and Transplant have a permanent blood donor centre at Holland Drive, Newcastle, NE2 4NQ and is a perfect place to make a first donation.



Islamic State claims responsibility for murder of Armenian priest

November 12, 2019

PanARMENIAN.Net - The Islamic State group (IS) on Monday, November 11 claimed responsibility for the murder of an Armenian Catholic Priest and his father in the northeast Syrian province of Deir ez-Zor, just hours after the shooting took place, Rudaw reports.

IS claimed Monday afternoon via its Telegram channels to have killed “two Christian priests” in al-Zir village, in the al-Busayrah sub-district of Deir ez-Zor.

Syrian state TV SANA reported the “martyrdom” of Priest Housib Abraham Bidoyan, head of the Armenian Catholic Church in Qamishli, and his father. The two were killed by unidentified gunmen, SANA said, as they travelled southbound from Hasaka province to Deir ez-Zor.

The priest and his father had been on their way to “supervise the restoration” of a church when they were killed, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR), a UK-based war monitor.

The Armenian community in Syria, whose current numbers are unknown, are the survivors of the Ottoman Genocide of the Armenians in the early twentieth century. Driven into Syria by the death marches, many eventually ended up settling in the country.


Southeast Asia


Dr M never interfered in Najib trial, says Anwar

Ainaa Aiman -November 12, 2019

KUALA LUMPUR: PKR president Anwar Ibrahim today rubbished allegations that Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad had interfered in the SRC International trial of Najib Razak, following reports that Umno Supreme Council member Lokman Noor Adam had made claims to that effect.

“He can allege, but the judicial process is free and clean,” he told reporters in Parliament without specifying names.

“I do not want to get involved, but there was a judge’s decision ordering Najib to enter his defence, so the legal process is ongoing.

“I don’t think we should entertain allegations unless they can give facts or evidence in support. Otherwise, we should allow due process to proceed.”

Najib was yesterday told to enter his defence for seven charges of criminal breach of trust, abuse of power and money laundering in relation to the transfer of RM42 million to his account from SRC International.

Mahathir later denied interfering in the case, saying his accusers should provide proof to back their claims.



Some voters still think I’m Umno president, says Mahathir

FMT Reporters -November 12, 2019

PUTRAJAYA: Dr Mahathir Mohamad is going to Tanjung Piai to campaign for the Pakatan Harapan candidate in the by-election there because some voters still think he is president of Umno.

Mahathir said he would go to the ground and campaign on Wednesday, and hoped they would have changed their views by then, Bernama reported.

“This, we have to face. I’m no longer UMNO president. I am now Bersatu chairman and Pakatan Harapan Prime Minister. “I’ll go to the ground to campaign this Wednesday and hope by then they no longer regard me as Umno president,” he said today.

Mahathir was president of Umno from 1981 to 2003. He left the party in 2017 to form PPBM.

Asked whether his presence in the Tanjung Piai by-election campaign would be a crowd puller to get the locals to attend PH ceramah, Mahathir said: “I don’t know, we’ll see the day after tomorrow”.

He said PPBM is confident of winning the by-election, with signs that many voters who had supported the Barisan Nasional in the 2018 general election now supporting PH.

“We are aware of the problems there (Tanjung Piai), we believe we can address the problems,” he told reporters after chairing a party leadership meeting here today.

Polling will be held on Saturday to fill a vacancy created by the death of Dr Md Farid Md Rafik on Sept 21 due to heart complications.

The PH candidate, Karmaine Sardini, faces candidates from BN, Gerakan, Berjasa and two Independent candidates.



Mahathir ‘shocked’ that Najib is shocked by court decision

Sean Augustin -November 11, 2019

PETALING JAYA: Dr Mahathir Mohamad had a jocular response today to former prime minister Najib Razak’s declaration of shock at a court decision in the RM42 million SRC International corruption case.

“He was shocked? I am shocked that he is shocked,” Mahathir said.

The High Court earlier today had ordered that Najib enter his defence on all seven charges of corruption.

But Mahathir alleged that “the whole world knows Najib is guilty”. He added: “But we have to follow the rule of law; we sent him to face the court to see if he has a case.”

Najib’s lawyer Muhammad Shafee Abdullah had said his client had expected an acquittal for all charges after facts of the case were rebutted through submissions to the courts.

Mahathir dismissed claims that he had interfered in Najib’s case, saying his accusers should provide proof to back up his claims.

“I never interfere with the courts so much so during my time the court decided to regard my party as illegal,” he said, referring to a court decision which led to Umno being deregistered during his first stint as prime minister.

“I didn’t fight the court, I went through the proper way,” he said.



Court Turns Down Imam Nahrawi's Pretrial Motion

12 November 2019

TEMPO.CO, Jakarta - South Jakarta District Court has rejected a pretrial request lodged by Imam Nahrawi related to the suspect naming of the former Youth and Sports Minister in the Koni graft case.

“The entire pretrial lawsuit is rejected,” said judge Elfian, reading the pretrial ruling, Tuesday, November 12.

The judge stated that the suspect naming of Imam was valid based on sufficient preliminary evidence. The respondent, the judge went on, had two valid proofs, namely documentary evidence and witness statement.

He also stated that the investigation and detention warrant issued by the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) was legal as it was under the authority of the anti-graft body, and there was no legal vacuum.

KPK named Imam and his personal assistant, Miftahul Ulum, suspects in the bribery and gratification case at Youth and Sports Ministry. Imam was suspected of receiving money totaling Rp26.5 billion throughout 2014-2018. Some of the money was delivered by Ulum.

The bribe money allegedly came from the disbursement of the National Sports Committee or KONI's grant funds in the 2018 fiscal year.

Imam Nahrawi was also suspected to obtain the bribe related to his position as the steering board chairman of the national sports program Satlak Prima and other posts in the ministry.




Turkey: We Are not a Hotel for Islamic State Jihadists!

November 12, 2019

The first Islamic State foreign terrorist has already been repatriated from Turkey, according to a spokesman for the country's interior ministry, quoted by private NTV television. On November 14, the same procedure will be applied to seven other terrorists of German descent, the spokesman added. The already repatriated jihadist is from the United States.

A state department spokeswoman said: “We are aware of reports of the detainment of a US citizen by Turkish authorities. Due to privacy considerations we have no further comment.”

Turkey and two other Islamic State members - one German and one Danish - will be repatriated within the day. Ankara does not accept objections from jihadist countries that they do not want to accept them back on the grounds that their citizenship has been revoked, the spokesman said. "Do whatever you want. You know how to hold your people accountable. We didn't want (the Islamic State") jihadis for anyone, "he said.



The UK’s Secret Military Unit That Answers to Saudi Arabian Commanders

Tue Nov 12, 2019

TEHRAN (FNA)- The UK military has a team of high-ranking soldiers embedded in the Saudi Arabian armed forces who are believed to be taking their orders from Saudi commanders, it can be revealed.

The British programme, details of which have long been kept secret from the British parliament and public, involves training the Saudis in “internal security”. Paid for by the Saudi regime – including the salaries and living costs of the British soldiers – the team’s role is controversial given the kingdom’s repressive political system, dailymaverick reported.

It is also likely to raise questions since the British soldiers are embedded in a branch of the Saudi military that is involved in the devastating war in Yemen.

The British Military Mission to the Saudi Arabian National Guard (BMM SANG) trains the de facto protection force of the ruling House of Saud and was established in 1964.

An elite, 130,000-strong force with soldiers drawn from tribes loyal to the ruling dynasty, the Saudi Arabian National Guard (SANG) is separate from the regular Saudi army. Its central role is to defend the regime from a coup.

The British government told parliament this March that the UK has 10 military personnel “embedded” in the SANG. The Ministry of Defence (MOD) has told us that the number is now 11 personnel, who are believed to be based at the unit’s headquarters in the Saudi capital, Riyadh.

The British government has repeatedly told parliament that all UK military personnel in Saudi Arabia “remain under UK command and control”. An MOD spokesman further told dailymavericks, “The British Military Mission is commanded by a British officer, who reports directly to the Ministry of Defence, in London.”

However, new information suggests that the chain of command on the ground is different, the report said.

‘Members of the Saudi National Guard’

The British embassy in Riyadh admitted in 2012 that the UK military officers involved in the mission “take their orders directly from His Royal Highness, Prince Miteb bin Abdullah bin Abdulaziz, Cabinet Minister and Head of the Saudi Arabian National Guard”. Prince Miteb, the son of the late King Abdullah, was head of the SANG until 2017.

The admission came in an internal embassy publication, called Kingdom to Kingdom, intended for distribution within government. The British embassy even referred to the British soldiers as “members of the Saudi National Guard”, rather than advisers or trainers.

When presented with the document, the MOD told us the information is misleading.

However, we have also seen a 1983 document from the MOD entitled “Directive for the commander, British Military Mission to Saudi Arabian National Guard” stating that while the commander is formally answerable to the chief of defence staff in the UK, “members of BMM will ordinarily obey the orders of designated SANG superiors”.

Our understanding is that, although the formal chain of command may end in London, these British military personnel report on a day-to-day basis to their Saudi superiors, who are their effective commanders.

The MOD has also informed us that BMM SANG is a “loan service personnel” scheme. Such an arrangement is ordinarily described by the MOD as British soldiers being “embedded in a wide variety of training, educational and staff posts in the host nation’s armed forces”. Similarly, the MOD has previously stated that “UK embeds operate as if they were the host nation’s personnel, under that nation’s chain of command”.

However, when asked about this in relation to BMM SANG, the MOD told us that its previous statement was again misleading because it did not apply to all embed programmes.

British documents from 1963 when Britain and Saudi Arabia were arranging the BMM SANG programme show that the then commander of the National Guard, Prince Abdullah, wanted command and control over the British soldiers. Abdullah would go on to be king from 2005 to 2015.

A British file marked “Secret” outlined “Principles governing the operation of a mission” and stated that “Abdullah would probably welcome a large British mission taking over, under his overall authority,” giving him “practically all executive responsibility, including operational command”.

It adds, “It must be accepted by Her Majesty’s Government that, if an adviser or mission is sent at all, there must be no close or continuous restraint or direction from the United Kingdom on the adviser or head of mission”.

The resulting agreement, which established BMM SANG in 1964, has been secret for 55 years, but we have obtained an early version of it. The issue of British command and control is not stipulated in the document, which perhaps signals Prince Abdullah’s perceived desire for “operational command”.

The agreement notes only one eventuality in which the UK government must be consulted on how the soldiers are deployed. This is if they are to “take part in any active non-training operations undertaken by the armed forces of Saudi Arabia”.

When the military mission began, UK personnel had “daily contact” with Abdullah, according to the British embassy in Riyadh.

Other British government files from the 1970s highlight the influence of the SANG commander over appointments to the British team. A document from 1973 shows the MOD wanted to replace the then British head of the military mission but decided against this since Abdullah “wanted him to stay on because of their personal relationship”.

The current head of the SANG, appointed in 2017, is Prince Khalid bin Abdulaziz bin Mohammed bin Ayyaf Al Muqren whose father was one of the founders of the National Guard in the 1960s.

Training of the SANG is one of Britain’s key military programmes in support of Saudi Arabia. It sits alongside another secret programme also paid for by the Saudis and staffed by MOD personnel, known as Sangcom, which provides military communications equipment and training to the SANG and costs £2-billion.

On an official visit to Saudi Arabia in 2013, the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall visited the headquarters of the SANG in Riyadh to mark the 50th anniversary of the BMM SANG programme.

We can further reveal that the BMM SANG programme is paid for by the Saudi regime under a “black budget”, a term describing government funding for secret operations. Neither government has ever revealed the cost of the programme. Saudi funding levels remain “confidential to the two governments”, the MOD told us.

BMM SANG is not mentioned on the UK government website and UK embedded forces in Saudi Arabia are not disclosed in the MOD’s latest annual report.

Neither are the personnel involved with the military mission listed on any government website. We have learnt, however, that these teams are commanded by a brigadier who is supported by nine lieutenant-colonels, among other officers.

The government provides almost no information to parliament or the public on what BMM SANG does. In 2016, in response to a rare parliamentary question, Defence Minister Mike Penning described the mission as “providing mentoring and advice to the Saudi Arabian National Guard”. The MOD told us that the programme provides “targeted military advice and some training support”.

The British embassy has noted that this training has over the years “included artillery, engineers, armoured, infantry, signals… medics, logisticians, and close protection advisers”.

One former British commander of BMM SANG, Brigadier Nicholas Cocking – who led the mission from 1984 to 1991 – noted that his team included officers who “reflected various military disciplines from logistics to armoured and infantry and so on”, and that the programme was “responsible for more generalised training”. “We could turn our hands to almost anything,” he added.

‘Internal Security’ and ‘Riot Control’

One reason for secrecy may be the controversial British support for the National Guard’s role in promoting “internal security”.

A British file from 1973 notes that the SANG’s role is “to fight with the army in defence of the kingdom and to maintain law and order within the kingdom”. Britain’s defence attaché to Saudi Arabia wrote in the same year that the SANG provides “counter-measures” in areas such as the oil-rich eastern province which are “vulnerable to sabotage and threats from dissident or subversive elements”.

The 2012 British embassy document stated that BMM SANG’s role “is to advise and assist the Guard in all counter-terrorism and internal security matters”.

A former member of the British military mission, an army officer who served in Saudi Arabia from 2009-12 and 2016-19, says on his Linkedin profile that one of his roles was advising on “riot control” in addition to counter-terrorism. Ben Richards, who later became a defence attaché in Ghana, writes that his tasks in Saudi Arabia included “daily engagement with senior officials on transformation, training, development and equipment issues”.

British support for Saudi “internal security” goes beyond BMM SANG. A current British “special security adviser” to the Saudi Ministry of National Guard says that his role is “delivering counter-terrorist and internal security training and advice”. He adds that his role is also to advise Saudi officers “on all aspects of military capabilities, from procurement to continuous improvement” and “set the conditions for future reform”.

The largest part of the SANG being trained by Britain were previously known as “mujahadeen”, or holy warriors. A 1970 British government file notes, “The [British] training of mujahadeen NCO [non-commissioned officers] instructors has now been completed in the thirteen training centres set up for this purpose.”

In the mid-1970s, two thirds of the SANG were composed of such fighters who were described as “lightly armed and equipped, and after basic training only, are distributed in centres of population throughout the country”. The remaining third of the SANG were known as Fedayin, who were organised into infantry units with heavier weapons and equipment.

The SANG’s commander, Prince Abdullah, asked the British for training support in the early 1960s during a period when the Saudi royal family was worried about being displaced in a military coup. This had been the fate of other pro-Western regimes in the region, notably Egypt in 1952, Iraq in 1958 and Yemen in 1962.

One reason the British agreed to the Saudi request was that, “The ‘White Army’” – as the SANG was then known – “is the principal prop of the present Saudi regime, and any successor regime would be worse for our interests in the [Persian] Gulf than the present one”, the foreign office noted in 1963. It added, “It is thus much to our interest that the ‘White Army’ should be efficient.”

Frank Brenchley, Britain’s chargé d’affaires in the kingdom, wrote that the SANG was the “bodyguard of the royal family” and that “supplying advisers for it would be an additional commitment to the present regime”.

Direct support to the Saudi king was also a feature of British training. In 1970, following a request from the SANG commander, the British army sent a training team to the SANG “to fit them for special duties in connection with the personal safety of HM the king”. The following year the SAS sent a four-member team to the SANG for “all aspects of bodyguard instruction”.

The British files offer other insights into the perceived advantages to having a military mission in Saudi Arabia. One, according to a War Office official in 1963, was that it “would open a valuable new source of intelligence”. Another file notes “the value to Her Majesty’s Government of having a point of observation and influence so close to the centre of power in this country, and at no cost”.

Another official argued that the training team would help promote “sales of defence equipment”.

One of the few arguments offered against agreeing to provide the mission in the planning stage came from a foreign office official who suggested that “it would attract the criticism that we tend to support only reactionary regimes”.

British training of the SANG is contributing to so-called “internal security” elsewhere in the [Persian] Gulf.

Members of the SANG were deployed to Bahrain in March 2011 to support the Bahraini regime in its crackdown on popular protests. The MOD later admitted, “It is possible that some members of the Saudi Arabian National Guard which were deployed in Bahrain may have undertaken some training provided by the British military mission.”

The MOD told us that the British military personnel embedded in the SANG are “absolutely not involved at all in Yemen”.

However, Brigadier Hugh Blackman, who was British Commander of BMM SANG from 2015 to 2017, the first two years of the Yemen war, has admitted that his services to the SANG included “advice to the National Guard at all levels of command… for the full spectrum of military operations on the southern Yemeni border”.

The nature of British advice to the SANG for its military operations in the Yemen conflict is not known.

The SANG has long been known to be active in the Yemen war both on the border and possibly inside Yemen. Earlier this year, for example, Colonel Kevin Lambert of the US military confirmed that the SANG was “executing combat operations in the Yemen conflict”.

The British government does not reveal the identities of BMM SANG personnel. However, the current commander of BMM SANG is believed to be Brigadier Charles Calder who was until recently defence adviser at the British High Commission in Nigeria, where Britain has a military team advising Nigerian forces on counter-insurgency operations against the terrorist group Boko Haram. Calder went straight from these operations to commanding BMM SANG in a Saudi Arabia at war in Yemen.

Calder’s predecessor, Brigadier Jackman, took up his position as commander of BMM SANG in June 2015, three months after Saudi Arabia began intervening in Yemen. Jackman came from the British embassy in Libya, where he was commander of the military training team there. He was charged with assisting the Libyan military with “the integration of former revolutionaries, and wider professionalisation of the institution”. Jackman subsequently planned and led the evacuation of all UK and entitled citizens from Libya.

Before that, Jackman had been a lieutenant-colonel in the Royal Scots Dragoon Guards operating in Bosnia and Kosovo. He went on to command an armoured battle-group of 1,400 soldiers during the UK’s 2003 invasion of Iraq.



Hezbollah 'willing to co-operate' with Lebanon’s judiciary over corruption

November 12, 2019

Hezbollah will co-operate with Lebanon’s judiciary in any corruption probe, the group’s leader said on Monday.

In a televised address on the country’s 13th day without a functioning government and amid massive street protests, Hassan Nasrallah said Hezbollah would respect the judiciary's corruption investigations into its members.

“If there is any case related to a Hezbollah official, I urge you to start with us and I guarantee Hezbollah’s respect,” Mr Nasrallah said.

He urged the judiciary, which has been a target of criticism in the month-long street protests, to rebel against powerful political forces.

“We need a judiciary that is brave, strong and does not bow to political pressure,” Mr Nasrallah said.

The unrest across Lebanon began with a build-up of anger at rising living costs and political leaders accused of steering the country toward economic collapse.

The unrelenting fervour of the protesters led to the resignation of Prime Minister Saad Hariri in a bid to bring calm. He remains in a caretaker capacity, but the lack of progress on forming a new government has only fanned the flames of protest.

From the capital Beirut to Sidon and Tyre in the south up to Tripoli in the north, protesters waved Lebanese flags, demanding that the formation of a new government be accelerated.

They insist any incoming Cabinet be comprised of technocrats and be independent of established political parties.

"We will not leave the streets before our demands are totally satisfied," shouted one young protester on Sunday. "We are more determined than ever."

Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri suggested on Monday that a new Cabinet should include representatives from the protest movement.

“The popular movement must be represented in the Cabinet,” Mr Berri told local news service Al Joumhouria. "The true movement that has demands that we all believe in, not the movement that insults people."

Mr Nasrallah said Hezbollah would “leave the door open” on talks to form a new government.

But Mr Berri again delayed a session of the Lebanese Parliament scheduled for Tuesday, saying there were safety concerns as protesters blocked roads around the Beirut Parliament building.

That caused further delays to a process he said needed to be “quick, quick, quick” to deal with the economic woes the country faced.

“Everyone must be convinced that an economic crisis is hanging above our heads,” Mr Berri said, after postponing the session for a week.

Meanwhile, the Governor of Lebanon’s Central Bank sought to calm nerves amid the worsening economic and financial crisis, pledging to work on protecting bank deposits and the stability of the currency.

Riad Salameh said the bank would keep defending the currency peg to the US dollar, which has been in place since 1997.

Mr Salameh said there would not be any capital controls or a “haircut” on customer’s bank deposits, in which the state takes a cut of their money to cover its debts.

As he spoke, dozens of protesters outside the bank on Beirut’s commercial Hamra Street blocked the road, chanting “Down with the rule of the banks”, as riot police looked on.

Lebanon’s financial troubles have worsened since mass protests erupted nationwide last month, paralysing the country and keeping banks closed for two weeks.

Depositors have rushed to withdraw their money since the banks reopened last week, with the country’s lenders imposing varying capital controls that differ from bank to bank, fuelling the turmoil.

“The Central Bank aims to protect the stability of the pound and we have the capability to do that,” Mr Salameh said, although acknowledging the difference in price in currency exchange shops, which he said was due to market demand.

He described it as a “phenomenon” that would end when demand diminished.

Mr Salameh said the central bank had reserves of $38 billion - including 30 billion “that we can use immediately".

Students who joined the protest in dramatic fashion last week, carrying school bags and banging pots and pans, remained out of education on Monday.

The caretaker Education Minister said schools and universities would close again on Tuesday "to preserve the safety of students" amid continuing protests, and out of respect for their right to demonstrate.



Israel strikes home of Palestinian militant commander in Gaza


November 12, 2019

GAZA CITY, Palestinian Territories: Israel killed a top commander for Iranian-backed Palestinian militant group Islamic Jihad in a rare targeted strike in the Gaza Strip on Tuesday, accusing him of carrying out a series of cross-border attacks and planning more.

The slaying of Baha Abu Al-Atta in his home looked likely to pose a new challenge for Gaza’s ruling Hamas faction, which has mostly tried to maintain a truce with Israel since a 2014 war.

At least one other person, a woman, was also killed in the blast that ripped through the building in Gaza City’s Shejaia district before dawn, medics said. Two others were wounded.

Shortly after, Palestinian militants launched a salvo of rockets into Israel, witnesses said. There was no immediate word of casualties or damage on the other side. Israeli police said they closed some roads on the edge of Gaza as a precaution.

In a statement, the Israeli military said Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had authorized the operation against Al-Atta, blaming him for recent rocket, drone and sniper attacks against Israel, and attempted infiltrations into the country.

“Abu Al-Atta was responsible for most of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad’s activity in the Gaza Strip and was a ticking bomb,” the statement said, accusing Al-Atta of planning “imminent terror attacks through various means.”

An Islamic Jihad statement confirmed the death of Al-Atta, who it said had been in the midst of “heroic jihadist action.”

“Our inevitable retaliation will rock the Zionist entity,” the statement said, referring to Israel.

Islamic Jihad shares Hamas’s ideological commitment to Israel’s destruction. But unlike Hamas, it is has often chafed at Egyptian-led efforts to forge cease-fires with the Israelis.

Israeli analysts have said Iran has been cultivating Islamic Jihad as a Gaza-based proxy as part of Tehran’s widening regional confrontation against Israel.



Lebanese blocs agree to ‘government of specialists representing protester movement’

 12 November 2019


BEIRUT: Lebanon’s internal security forces have been put on full standby to deal with a possible general strike on Tuesday as news emerged of a political agreement to set up a new “government of specialists.”

Trade unions, students, and activists in the country’s civil movement have called for national industrial action as part of “disobedience week.”

The planned walkouts were the latest move by anti-government protesters to force the setting up of a new government following the resignation 10 days ago of former Prime Minister Saad Hariri.

However, on Monday evening the parliamentary bloc loyal to the Free Patriotic Movement (FPM) and Lebanese President Michel Aoun announced its agreement to “a government of specialists approved by the Parliament and representing the protester movement.”

At the same time, the Future bloc, loyal to Hariri, pledged its support for the former premier’s efforts “to prepare for a transitional phase in which a government of specialists is responsible for restoring confidence.”

Lebanese political leader, Ibrahim Kanaan, said: “There is a need for consultation to reach acceptable solutions on a government that respects the constitution and has a viable project.”

The pro-Aoun bloc, along with its ally Hezbollah, had insisted that FPM chairman Gebran Bassil, a target of the recent demonstrations, remained in the Cabinet, but in a government of specialists there would be no place for him.

The Lebanese Parliament had been due to hold a legislative session on Tuesday to set certain anti-corruption bills, a key demand of demonstrators. But protesters and the Lebanese Judges Association claimed the general amnesty bill would have protected certain people and there were threats on social media to prevent deputies from reaching the Parliament building, causing many to say they would not attend.

After meeting with his parliamentary bloc, Lebanese Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri announced the adjournment of the session to Nov. 19 in order to “maintain security.”

He told media that the protesters’ campaign against the general amnesty law aimed “to keep the political vacuum. Otherwise, how do we explain the rejection of a session, where the majority of its agenda is to discuss popular demands raised by the movement itself, crediting the movement for the inclusion of these projects?”

Berri asked ministers and deputies of his current and former bloc “to lift banking secrecy,” and called for “the necessity to form an inclusive government that does not exclude the movement.”

However, the General Confederation of Lebanese Workers described Tuesday’s planned meeting as “a violation of the constitution and ignoring the protesters’ demands.”

Street protests and sit-ins outside public institutions continued as demonstrations, which have rocked Lebanon, entered their 26th day.

The union representing employees of cellular operators in Lebanon called for “an open strike starting Tuesday” to protest against drastic wage cuts which it claimed had left many workers earning “only 30 percent of their annual income.”

Hezbollah’s secretary-general, Hassan Nasrallah, said: “All the doors are open to reach the country’s best interest.

“No party, leadership, religious or political authority, or sect can protect anyone who is corrupt. This is major growth in the country,” he added.




Another Muslim burial site vandalised at foot of Table Mountain

12 NOVEMBER 2019

Cape Town – Another Muslim burial site has been vandalised, this time at the resting place of saint Auliya Sayed Abdul Haq Al Quadri, located at the foot of Table Mountain in Deer Park, the Cape Mazaar Society said.

Society chairperson Mahmoud Limbada said “one side of the wrought iron around the kabr (grave) had been broken off, and faeces smeared on one of the surrounding walls”.

The incident comes just a week after the desecration of the Mowbray Muslim Cemetery, where around 80 headstones were removed from graves and placed in a cross-like symbol in the graveyard.

Limbada said two of their members had visited the site to assess the damage, but repairs could not yet be done as they first wanted the police investigations to be completed.

“When we were contacted about the incident, two of our members rushed to see what happened. They wanted to immediately repair it. But we decided to get the police involved and ensure the site was left as it was found so they could investigate.

“This is another gravesite damaged by Satanists with sick minds. We believe it could be Satanists because of what had happened in Mowbray, and the fact that nothing was stolen.

"If it was someone living close to the mountain, they would have stolen the metal or something.

“There have been incidents of vagrants stealing the sheepskin off the grave; we don’t mind that because it’s for themselves to keep warm.

“But to desecrate the grave is just wrong. We feel disgusted and disheartened. We don’t say its an attack on Islam, we believe they desecrated the Mowbray site because it is the only cemetery in the area where these people are operating, and it is close to a residential area.

“The same with this site, it’s not because it is a Muslim grave It’s because of the area, it is located in a public space and it is the grave of a recognised saint,” he said.

Limbada said they could not install security cameras or staff as it is located in the Table Mountain National Park which is not their property.

Police spokesperson Siyabulela Malo said the Cape Town Central police have no records of the matter being reported.

SANParks regional spokesperson Lauren Howard-Clayton said: “We are aware of the incident. As the Table Mountain National Park, we do not condone vandalism and we will increase visibility within the area.”

Anyone with information on the incident can call the Cape Mazaar Society on 083 555 9786, 083 727 5743 or 021 633 2212.



Islamic group reacts as NYSC suspends Christian corpers

November 12, 2019

By Wale Odunsi

The Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC), an Islamic human rights organization, has reacted to the expulsion of two female Christian youth corpers from the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) camp in Ebonyi State.

MURIC declared support for the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN).

MURIC leader, Professor Ishaq Akintola, in a statement on Tuesday, said those expelled have the right to satisfy their conscience regarding what to wear and what not to wear in public.

“There is freedom of religion in the Nigerian Constitution and NYSC is flagrantly violating Section 38 (i) and (ii) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. NYSC is behaving like the notorious Gestapo. It is time to liberalise”, it said.

“It is not just a religious matter. Morality is involved here. NYSC seeks to destroy our norms and values. Our sons and daughters who were trained in good Christian and Muslim homes are stripped nude when they go for NYSC. This is unacceptable. Something must be done urgently if this is the mission of NYSC.

“It is absolutely wrong to force our daughters to appear in short knickers in public. It is against strict Christian and Islamic teachings. It is also an assault on the dignity of their human persons. They feel humiliated. It is a big shame. NYSC is flagrantly infringing the Nigerian constitution.

“NYSC was introduced to instill patriotism and discipline in Nigerian youth. But what kind of discipline can NYSC instill in corpers if the female members are instructed to wear atrociously short knickers that expose sensitive parts of their anatomy to prying eyes? This is a direct way of encouraging immorality and corruption.

“We invite CAN to join us in the fight against corruption and immorality. We can stop moral debauchery in Nigeria if we can all come together. Greed, avarice, massive accumulation of wealth and criminality will reduce drastically if Christian and Muslim leaders speak with one voice against all vices. This is better for Nigeria than being at logger-heads all the time.”

“We commend CAN leadership for speaking out in support of the two Christian girls who wish to dress decently. Nonetheless, we call CAN’s attention to the plight of Muslim female students who are facing persecution in South Western schools on account of hijab. It is a tale of two girls.

“The Muslim girl and the Christian girl from good homes. Both of them wish to dress decently. They feel assaulted if they are disallowed from doing so and they are both prepared to face the repercussion for challenging the status quo.

“This is why we find it curious that CAN has joined issues with Muslim parents who have gone to court to challenge tyrannical school authorities in Ibadan, Abeokuta, etc who lock out female Muslim students for using hijab.

“While the girls’ parents have gone to court to challenge the schools’ illegal, unlawful and unconstitutional decisions, CAN (which was not sued in the case) has approached the courts asking to be joined in the suit as interested parties on the schools’ side.

“We find it paradoxical that the same CAN has asked the Christian girls expelled in Ebonyi to sue NYSC. Now, how would CAN feel if an Islamic organization should also approach the same court stating reasons why the case should be thrown out?

“It is obvious that Muslims have nothing to do with the Ebonyi case in the first place, so why join issues over it? But why did CAN join schools sued by Muslim parents whose daughters are being persecuted? Is it for Jacob or Esau?

“We call on the new director general of the NYSC to intervene in the issue of the two Christian girls expelled in Ebonyi. Those two girls should be recalled. We also advise the new NYSC leadership to set the machinery in motion for a review of the NYSC dress code in line with the issues raised by religious groups.”



Experts seek legal framework for Islamic finance inclusion

By Joseph Onyekwere

12 November 2019

Experts in the financial sector has called on relevant regulatory bodies to raise awareness and create strong legal framework that would help to increase (Sukuk) Islamic financial inclusion in Nigeria.

Sukuk is an Islamic financial certificate, similar to a bond in Western finance that complies with Islamic religious law commonly known as Sharia.

Speaking during the 4th Edition of African International Conference on Islamic Finance (AICIF) in Lagos, Ashraf Amma, director at PWC, Luxembourg said Sudan has continued to be a leader of Sukuk issuance volume in Africa.

He however, noted that sadly, globally, Africa contributed less than one percent in sukuk issuance in 2018, showing that there are lots of untapped opportunities in Africa.He spoke on the need for Africa to have level playing field in taxation of Islamic contracts and the need for more awareness among multilateral development banks and agencies.

Speaking during a panel session themed: ‘Regulatory and Cross Border Issues Affecting the Utilisation of Sukuk,’ Adeola Sunmola, a partner in Udo Udoma and Belo-Osagie’s banking and Finance, power, projects and infrastructure, said there is lack of clarity in Nigerian laws in relation to how Sukuk is structured.

“When there are issues in relation to Sukuk, people often do not know who to run to. There should be clarity on the transaction structure and taxation exemptions. Our laws and regulations are reactionary. We need to be more forward looking in terms of making laws that can adapt to transactions of this nature, so we can understand them when these issues arise,” Sunmola said.

Muhammed Dabai Suleyman, director Central Bank of Nigeria and Head of National Programme for the Financial System Strategy (FSS2020) said Sukuk is needed to fund infrastructure development. Ummanhani Amin, managing partner, the Metropolitan law firm and chairperson 4th AICIF 2019 planning committee said AICIF started because they felt there is a gap in Islamic financial inclusion.

“This is the main reason for the conference and that is why we have been working towards financial inclusion. We are working towards letting everyone know what products to take because people do not understand,” Amin said. She said the awareness process has been gradual in Nigeria because Nigeria is new to Islamic finance.

Abdulkader Thomas, chairman Shariah Board of Sterling Bank PLC noted that some questions raised in financing projects using Sukuk are if the contractor will complete the project as at when due and according to the specifications and integrity of funds.He mentioned some of the liquidity risks in Sukuk to include necessity of secondary market, eligible instrument for trading, source of money, what sukuk represents and what the benchmark is. Chinua Azubike, who is also the managing director Infra Credit said people should be looking at where the market lies and ensure the structure works in compliance with Sharia laws.



Nigerian Journalist: IMN to Survive as Zakzaky's Lessons Keep Members United

Tue Nov 12, 2019

TEHRAN (FNA)- A Nigerian journalist says Sheikh Zakzaky’s deteriorating health will not allow him to provide leadership as he did in the past, but the idea which he taught will survive and his supporters will follow his path.

In an exclusive interview with FNA, the Nigerian journalist said Sheikh Zakzaky has around 20 million followers, growing from only a few hundred supporters in 1980s.

As per the interviewee’s request, his identity remains withheld for his security in Nigeria.

Below is the full text of the interview:

Q: Why did Sheikh Zakzaky decide to return to Nigeria?

A: Sheikh Ibrahim Zakzaky decided to return to Nigeria because the Indian government, in collaboration with management of the Medanta Indian Hospital decided to start fresh laboratory tests about his health. This decision was taken without due consultation with Zakzaky. The Islamic cleric also demanded to see his doctors and this request was turned down by the hospital. Zakzaky said he told the doctors at Medanta that tests by his doctors have been completed in Nigeria, but the doctors would not oblige his wish. He demanded to see his lawyers for consultation, and this was also rejected by the hospital management. The hospital said it was under strict instruction from the Indian and Nigerian government to treat Zakzaky under the terms of the Nigerian government, because he was a criminal. The Indian government gave Zakzaky 48 hours to comply with the stated terms or be deported back to Nigeria. The Sheikh said he opted to go back to Nigeria. He said he had no confidence in the Nigerian, Indian, and the Medanta Hospital to treat him.

Q: Why does the government crackdown heavy-handedly on his supporters?

A: The Nigerian government is not afraid of Sheikh Zakzaky per se. The Nigerian government can be said to be afraid of the large supporters of the Islamic cleric. Zakzaky’s supporters continue to grow in millions from across Nigeria. What started as an Islamic movement with a couple of hundreds of supporters in the 1980s has grown into a movement with close to twenty million by 2015 when Zakzaky was attacked and his hundreds of his followers killed, and his worship center destroyed. The Nigerian government is also afraid of the ultimate aim of his movement. It believes that Zakzaky’s ultimate aim is to overthrow the Nigerian government and establish an Islamic Republic.

Q: How do you view the future of Islamic Movement of Nigera?

A: Zakzaky may never come out and provide the leadership he was providing before the 2015 crackdown, because of his deteriorating health. So, with time, another Nigerian leader may release Sheikh Zakzaky to attend to his health, while a new leader may emerge. However, the Islamic Movement may be able to survive its current challenge because the members are united by Islam and it is always difficult and impossible to kill or exterminate an idea. Islam, Christianity, and many other ideas that are not spiritual have come under threats and persecution in course of human history, but in the end, they have survived and triumphed.


North America


Donald Trump says Baghdadi successor in US crosshairs

Nov 12, 2019

NEW YORK: US President Donald Trump placed the Islamic State group's new chief in the crosshairs Monday as he marked Veterans' Day by celebrating the killing of the jihadists' former leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.

While US presidents traditionally mark the day by laying a wreath at a vast military cemetery in Arlington, near Washington, Trump traveled to New York where he made an address ahead of the city's annual parade of veterans.

Trump was widely criticised after announcing a full withdrawal of US troops from Syria last month, with opponents and even some allies saying it could allow Islamic State to rebuild as well as leaving US-allied Kurdish fighters vulnerable to a Turkish invasion.

But the US president used his speech in New York to claim that the IS leadership was running scared in the wake of Baghdadi's death in a raid in the northwestern Syrian province of Idlib on October 26.

"Just a few weeks ago, American special forces raided the ISIS compound and brought the world's number one terrorist leader to justice," he said.

"Thanks to American warriors, al-Baghdadi is dead, his second in charge is dead, we have our eyes on number three.

"His reign of terror is over, and we have our enemies running very, very scared. Those who threaten our people don't stand a chance against the righteous might of the American military."

After the death of Baghdadi and Islamic State's main spokesman, Abu Hassan al-Muhajir, in a raid the following day, the organization named the little known Abu Ibrahim al-Hashimi al-Quraishi as its new leader.

Following the uproar over his announcement of a full troop withdrawal, Trump said that he would leave some troops in the region to protect valuable oil fields.

General Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said in an interview at the weekend that US troop levels in northern Syria would probably stabilize around 500.

Trump got a cool reception from some in New York, a staunchly Democratic city.

In the windows of one of the glass office towers looming above Madison Square Park where he spoke, large letters were taped in the windows spelling out, one one floor, "IMPEACH," and, several floors above, "CONVICT."

Anti-Trump banners were suspended from overlooking apartment windows as he kicked off the parade and people on the street chanted "lock him up."



U.S. forces say they’ll redeploy, work with Kurds to continue pressure on Islamic State

November 11, 2019

At a base in eastern Syria, a senior U.S. coalition commander said Monday that American troops who remain in Syria are redeploying to bases, including in some new locations, and working with the Kurdish-led forces to keep up the pressure on the Islamic State militants and prevent the extremists from resurging or breaking out of prisons.

The commander, Air Force Maj. Gen. Eric T. Hill, said even though Bradley armoured vehicles have arrived in eastern Syria, the mission’s focus has not changed. He said the “force mix,” including the mechanized armoured vehicles deployed in Syria for the first time since the war against IS, has an array of capabilities to deny IS the chance to regroup.

“The mission still continues. And Daesh is trying to resurge wherever they can,” he said, using the Arabic acronym for the group. He said the forces have captured 700 IS fighters since its last territorial holding fell in March. “We’ve destroyed many and war remnants and we continue to do so as we find them.”

Speaking at a remote base in Syria where the Bradleys arrived last week, he said “our primary way that we do that” is through working with the U.S. partners, the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces.

The deployment of the mechanized force comes after US troops pulled out from northeastern Syria, making way for a Turkish offensive against Kurdish fighters that began last month. Only several miles away from the base, fighting between Turkish-allied fighters and the SDF was ongoing, despite a cease-fire that has so far curbed the Turkish invasion but didn’t end the violence.

Smoke billowed in the distance, visible from across a major highway that has become a de-facto frontier between Turkish-held areas and areas where U.S. troops are going to operate. An SDF official on the scene said Turkish shelling was continuing.

Further north, three car bombs went off Monday in the town of Qamishli, killing at least six people while a priest was shot dead. IS claimed responsibility for the attack that killed the Armenian Catholic priest and his father as they drove from Qamishli to the city of Hassakeh, in a sign that the extremists still have reach.

The U.S. withdrawal from northern Syria was widely criticized, even by allies of U.S. President Donald Trump. The Kurdish-led force, deserted by Washington in the face of the threat of a military operation by NATO ally, leaned on the Syrian government and Russia for help. The cease-fire reached in late October left Turkey in control of a stretch of land along the border that is roughly 120 kilometres (70 miles) wide and 30 kilometres (20 miles) deep. But fighting south of that zone continued. Kurdish officials say Turkey is seeking to expand its area of control.

Hill’s stress on the continued partnership with the Kurdish-led forces comes as U.S. troops sent reinforcements to bases in the oil-rich region of eastern Syria.

Trump approved an expanded military mission which he said was to secure an expanse of oil fields across eastern Syria. The directive raised questions about how the troops will operate, particularly in an area where there are Russian-backed Syrian troops, who may try to take back oil facilities.

The decision was a partial win for those who were against the withdrawal from Syria. Pentagon officials said as many as 800 may stay in Syria, down from about 1,200 and including about 200 in a southern garrison.

Hill said while some troops are going home or withdrawing to Iraq, others are redeploying to Qamishli area, Deir el-Zour and Derik, an area where no U.S. bases were before.

In a day visit to some of the bases where reinforcements were sent, Associated Press journalists spoke to some of the troops, many of them newly arrived. The military required that the names and exact locations of the bases not be identified.

First Lt. Jacob Moore said a group of his Bradley armoured vehicles were asked to provide security for a U.S. convoy passing through the fighting area, Tal Tamr, setting up a security blockade to allow the forces to pass.

“We were prepared for the worst,” said Moore, who arrived last week in Syria, “but we got the best. There was no fighting when we got there,” Instead, he said, locals were happy to see the new deployment.

In the crowded terrain, U.S. officials say de-conflicting with Russia and Turkey is essential to avoid any friction.

READ MORE: 4 Syrian troops killed after clash Turkish forces in northeast Syria, reports say

But the reality created on the ground by U.S. withdrawal and the Turkish invasion has made for a tense and at times, surreal terrain, where Russia, Turkish troops patrol together, while Syrian government forces clash with Turkey-backed allies despite a cease-fire brokered by Moscow, a main ally of Damascus. An earlier cease-fire negotiated between Washington and Ankara ensured that the two NATO allies don’t come into confrontation. But it left the Kurdish forces, which were in control of 30 per cent of Syria’s territory, pushed away from the borders and reliant on a new political agreement that would protect a five-year experiment in self-administration.

If the U.S. insists its mission is still fighting IS, for the Kurds their priority has now shifted. It is time for the alliance with the U.S. to bear political fruit, said Mustafa Bali, a spokesman for the SDF, who was present at one of the bases.

He said keeping the oil in the hands of his forces was a good card for political negotiations.

“Here in northeast Syria, we are part of the total picture that is dealing with a crisis and requires finding a track for a political resolution,” Bali said. “The presence of the U.S. forces, a military weight, will have a positive role in finding a political way out.”

Pentagon officials have stressed that securing oil facilities was a way to ensure that the Kurdish fighters maintain control of an important source of revenue.

One of the bases visited by journalists Monday was close to oil fields, but there was no way of telling if there was an increase of security around the facilities. While one base was provided with the Bradley vehicles, Apache helicopters had moved in to another, apparently from a base dismantled further north.

U.S. officials say the enhanced presence of Apaches and artillery are a deterrent to any hostile forces in the area.

Adding to the complicated terrain in Syria, Deir el-Zour province is divided between the Kurdish-led forces on one side of the Euphrates River and the Syrian government and their Iranian-backed militias on the other. In February 2018, U.S. forces responded firmly to an attempted advance on Kurdish-held areas by Syrian troops, at the time backed by Russian contractors.

At the base, soldiers said the troop presence also secures other infrastructure, such as water facilities and major highways.


Hill said the continued U.S. presence is also to assist and train Kurdish-led forces, including in securing prisons where over 10,000 IS militants are held. The U.S. does not guard the facilities but helps the Kurdish forces do so.

“One of the missions that we will continue to support with the Syrian Democratic Forces is to contain the prisons and make sure that all the prisoners that are under SDF control remain in those prisons and secure,” he said.



Uber chief walks back comment about murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi

Nov 12, 2019

WASHINGTON: Uber chief Dara Khosrowshahi apologized on Monday after he called the assassination of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, in which Riyadh admitted responsibility, a "mistake."

"There's no forgiving or forgetting what happened to Jamal Khashoggi & I was wrong to call it a 'mistake,'" Khosrowshahi tweeted Monday morning as he walked back his remarks Sunday in an interview with Axios.

"I said something in the moment I don't believe. Our investors have long known my views here & I'm sorry I wasn't as clear on Axios."

Khashoggi, a columnist for The Washington Post, was strangled and dismembered at the kingdom's consulate in Istanbul on October 2, 2018, prompting harsh criticism of the country and de facto ruler Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

Saudi Arabia, through its sovereign wealth fund, is the fifth largest shareholder in the ride-hailing company, and the fund's governor, Yasir al-Rumayyan, sits on its Uber's board of directors.

"I think that government said that they made a mistake," he said in the interview Sunday, likening the incident to a fatal crash of a self-driving Uber vehicle that killed a pedestrian in March 2018.

"I think that people make mistakes and that doesn't mean that they can never be forgiven," Khosrowshahi said, after the Axios reporter pressed him on the comparison between an assassination and a traffic accident.

The reporter confirmed that the executive called him shortly after the interview to "express regret for the language he used" about the Khashoggi murder.

The Uber chief's comments caused an uproar in the United States.

Karen Attiah, a Washington Post editor and former colleague of Khashoggi, highlighted "the sick and sad irony" of Uber CEO comparing "the murder of a human being to Uber making a tech glitch."

She said on Twitter that when he first arrived in the United States, Khashoggi did not have a car and used Uber to get around, but she accused the company of valuing Saudi money more than a life and questioned keeping a Saudi official on the board.

"If one of @Uber 's main investors kills someone it doesn't really matter. A representative of a murderous regime can still keep a board seat," she tweeted.

Khosrowshahi downplayed the kingdom's role in Uber, saying "they're just like any other shareholder" investing in a publicly-traded company. "And they're a big investor just like you could be a big investor."

Uber's went public in May but the share offering has been a huge disappointment to investors, falling to $27 on Monday compared to the IPO price of $42. And documents filed Friday with showed Uber co-founder and former CEO Travis Kalanick sold 21 percent of his shares for some $547 million.




Controversial $760,000 mosque is given the green light for construction in Sydney after three-year battle - despite objections from locals


12 November 2019

The construction of a controversial mosque in Sydney's west will go ahead after a three-year battle ended in court.

The Islamic Association of Prospect will be allowed to build the $769,000 place of worship after an appeal was upheld in the Land and Environment Court last month.

The ruling comes almost three years after the application for the 113-person mosque at 420 Blacktown Road was lodged.

The Islamic Association of Prospect will be allowed to build the $769,000 place of worship after an appeal was upheld in the Land and Environment Court last month    +3

The Islamic Association of Prospect will be allowed to build the $769,000 place of worship after an appeal was upheld in the Land and Environment Court last month

Blacktown City Council initially rejected the plans for the mosque, with locals stressing concerns about an increase in traffic and fears for pedestrian safety. 

But after two days in court, Commissioner Danielle Dickson gave the Islamic Association of Prospect the green light to begin construction.

The plan for the mosque includes a prayer hall, library, study, two entry areas, office kitchen and onsite parking for 34 vehicles.

The religious institution would operate every day of the week between 5.30am and 9pm.

Blacktown City Council argued the application should be refused as it is 'not in the public interest due to the inadequacies of the proposal, the unsuitable location and the issues raised in the public submissions'.

The ruling comes almost three years after the application for the 113-person mosque at 420 Blacktown Road (pictured) was lodged         +3

The ruling comes almost three years after the application for the 113-person mosque at 420 Blacktown Road (pictured) was lodged

They claim the development would not provide sufficient parking for the demand generated and the increase of cars in the area would create a 'serious pedestrian safety hazard' for residents attempting for cross Blacktown Road.

They council received 22 written submissions and three petitions objecting to the proposed development.

Ms Dickson said she was 'not persuaded' by arguments put forward by the council and determined the site is suitable for development. 

'I am satisfied it is unlikely residents will experience significant increases in early morning traffic movements and parking as a result of the development,' she said.

'I am satisfied that the proposed place of worship... can operate in a satisfactory manner without any adverse impacts on the amenity of adjacent properties.'




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