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Islamic World News ( 13 Dec 2016, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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Lashes, Bites, Beheadings: Mosul Citizens Recall Horror under Islamic State Rule









While cases of religious extremism gone wrong make news, this news comes as refreshing and full of hope. (Source: Unofficial Subramaniam Swamy FACEBOOK

Lashes, Bites, Beheadings: Mosul Citizens Recall Horror under Islamic State Rule

'Get Us Out Of Here': Desperate Aleppo Residents Fear Arrest, Death

Yazidi Prize Winners Demand IS Leaders Face Justice

Pak PM For Setting up Modern Islamic State in the Light of Madina Charter

The World’s Newest Muslim Insurgency Is Being Waged in Burma

These Photos of Hindus Distributing Sweets, Drinks to Muslims on Eid-e-Milad Have Gone Viral

 

Arab World

Lashes, Bites, Beheadings: Mosul Citizens Recall Horror under Islamic State Rule

'Get Us Out Of Here': Desperate Aleppo Residents Fear Arrest, Death

ISIS Made Weapons in Mosul Up To Military Standards: Report

Egypt says church bomber linked to Muslim Brotherhood

Drone strike kills ISIS figures in Syria, some with Paris attack ties

ISIS halt Iraqi forces progress by blowing up bridges

Syrians working for international NGOs go on strike over Aleppo

Saudi King receives Orientalist Dr. William Polk

Over 330 militants lay down arms in Aleppo: Russia

Syrian Army Dispatches Second Column of Fresh Forces to Eastern Homs

Syria: Aleppo Militants Ask for Relocation to Idlib

ISIL Launches Massive Assault in Deir Ezzur, Syrian Army Goes on Alert

Syrian Army Troops Drive Terrorists out of More Positions in Eastern Damascus

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Europe

Yazidi Prize Winners Demand IS Leaders Face Justice

Hundreds of Muslim ‘No-Go’ Zones Take Root in Europe

11 arrested in France over Nice massacre

Ireland’s Muslims more educated than general population

Muslims like Us is slammed by viewers on Twitter for reducing Islam to a 'reality show

British Media's 'Useful Infidels' Rush to Defend Shariah

Spain: Police hold convicted killer for ISIL activity

Italy says EU-Russia ties to be shaped by Syria endgame

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Pakistan

Pak PM For Setting up Modern Islamic State in the Light of Madina Charter

Fear stalks Chakwal after attack on Ahmadi place of worship

PTI finally falls back on NA over Panamagate case

Top general vows to break nexus between terrorists, facilitators

Nawaz to face real opposition if demands not accepted: Bilawal

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South Asia

The World’s Newest Muslim Insurgency Is Being Waged in Burma

Bangladesh PM: Identify Sources of Terror Financing

Govt asks UN to remove sanctions against Hekmatyar

Amu: Militancy looking to capitalise in Muslim countries

Taliban suffer heavy casualties in an airstrike in Balkh province of Afghanistan

Notorious commander of Hezb-e-Islami, Zardad, returning to Kabul: Report

50 Afghan asylum seekers to be deported from Germany

US conduct more airstrikes in East of Afghanistan, 12 ISIS militants killed

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India

These Photos of Hindus Distributing Sweets, Drinks to Muslims on Eid-e-Milad Have Gone Viral

India-Pakistan Legislators Meet in Dubai

Assam Muslim Bodies Defy Order to Keep Madrassas Open on Fridays, Govt Not Amused

Maratha Seva Sangh Organises Communal Harmony Rally as Part of Eid ul Milad Celebrations

Indian Mujahideen co-founder Riyaz Bhatkal lives life of luxury in Karachi with ISI patronage

Ahmadiyya Muslims converge in Qadian for annual congregation

Yasin Bhatkal among five Indian Mujahideen men convicted in Dilsukhnagar blasts

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North America

Tech Employees Vow Not To Help Donald Trump Surveil Muslims, Deport Immigrants

Study Shows the U.S. Attracts an Elite Muslim and Hindu Population

Snowden sends strong anti-surveillance message to Trump

US Sanctions Exchange Houses Sending Cash to Islamic State

Top telly documentary Muslims Like Us made by Huddersfield filmmaker

Canadian media sucks at representing Muslims in Canada

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Southeast Asia

Under Najib’s Watch, Malaysia Joins Brunei & Indonesia as Region’s Worst Violators Of Rights, Religious Freedom

Minister: Islam Never Encourages Extremism

Malaysia Crowns New Youthful King: A Devout Muslim Who Loves Extreme Sports

On The Little-Known Hui Muslims of Rural China

Indonesia looks to Islamic schools to spur Sharia banking

Pluralism, tolerance promoted in Bandung

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Mideast

US Cancels Weapons Transfers to Saudi over Yemen Campaign

Iran to work on N-powered boats after US ‘violation’ of deal

Iran to build nuclear marine propulsion after US 'violation' of deal

Turkey negotiating with Russia to evacuate rebels, civilians from Aleppo: official

Sectarian incitement main threat to Muslim world security: Larijani

Iran, South Africa sign MoU to boost defense, military ties

Britain guilty of war crimes over Saudi arms sales: Yemeni PM

No new chapters on Turkey’s accession bid: EU

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Africa

Anwar-Ul Islam Advises Leaders on Community Service

Algeria: Iranian Minister of Culture Calls for Strengthening of Relations between Iran, Algeria

West African leaders fail to convince Gambia president to peacefully leave power

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau

URL: http://www.newageislam.com/islamic-world-news/new-age-islam-news-bureau/lashes,-bites,-beheadings--mosul-citizens-recall-horror-under-islamic-state-rule/d/109378

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Lashes, bites, beheadings: Mosul citizens recall horror under Islamic State rule

Dec 13, 2016

The first and second stones did not kill her. But the woman accused of adultery by Islamic State group extremists would not survive the third.

The woman’s killing in a public square was, for those who witnessed it, the cruelest moment in the descent of this once proud city into fear, hunger and isolation under the two-and-a-half years of rule by the militants.

Iraq’s second-largest city Mosul was once arguably the most multicultural place in Iraq, with a Sunni Muslim Arab majority but also thriving communities of Kurds, Shia, Christians and Yazidis. Together, they had created Mosul’s distinct identity, with its own cuisine, intellectual life and economy.

But the Islamic State group turned Mosul into a place of literal and spiritual darkness. It began with promises of order and a religious utopia that appealed to some, but over time, the militants turned crueler, the economy crumbled under the weight of war and shortages set in. Those who resisted watched neighbours who joined the extremists turn prosperous and vindictive. Parents feared for the brainwashing of their children. By the end, as Iraqi troops besieged Mosul, the militants hanged suspected spies from lampposts.

The Associated Press interviewed more than two dozen residents who have left Mosul since Iraqi troops began retaking outlying districts last month. They gave a glimpse into life in a place that has been virtually sealed off from the outside under the rule of the Islamic State group.

For many among Mosul’s Sunni Arabs, IS rule started as a respite from what they considered the heavy hand of Iraq’s Shia-led central government in Baghdad.

Civilians fleeing fighting between Islamic State group militants and Iraqi forces cross the frontline from the Samah neighborhood of Mosul in this Nov. 6, 2016 photo taken in Gogjali, Iraq. (AP)

Iraqi soldiers melted away, and in those first few weeks, people were happy to see hated security checkpoints pulled down and traffic moving smoothly.

But within a month, the homes of Mosul’s Christians and other minorities were tagged with official stickers — for “statistical purposes,” IS officials said, according to Mosul Eye. Christians and Shia soon fled.

“If you turned in a Kurdish family, they gave you a car,” said Hassan Ali Mustapha, a retired prison guard. He said he moved to a home deserted by a Kurdish family, after the family asked him through a mutual friend to keep the extremists from taking it over.

The group imposed the severe vision of Islamic law that they had introduced across their zone of control. Dress was strictly regulated, and clothes manufacturers were told the acceptable measurements by Islamic State offices. Women were required to hide their faces and don black down to their fingertips. The fine for violations — even as small as the wrong kind of stocking — was 25,000 dinars, around 20 dollars. Repeat offenders got lashes.

Volunteer medics assist an Iraqi civilian injured while fleeing his Islamic State group-controlled neighbourhood of Mosul in this Nov. 5, 2016 photo (AP)

There was another, widely feared and loathed punishment as well: Female enforcers used a metal-toothed device to deliver vicious, infection-prone “bites” on women they deemed as dressing improperly, according to two women.

The group’s propaganda insisted all was fine. John Cantlie, a British journalist held hostage by the Islamic State group for four years, has made periodic appearances in videos filmed in Mosul, showing a market, an efficient IS motorcycle police force and a city continuing to function.

Away from the cameras, however, the economy fell apart. The government in Baghdad cut off the salaries it had been paying civil servants, and airstrikes cut into Islamic State’s oil revenue and cash reserves. Infrastructure and services initially provided by IS broke down. Electricity cuts forced people to rely on oil lamps. Communications cut off, although people still managed to make periodic, hushed calls to Alghan FM, a radio station founded by an exiled Mosul resident that has become a sounding board to those trapped in the city.

“Four months ago, satellite television went down. Six months ago, it was the internet,” said the station’s founder, who asked to identified only by his first name, Mohammed, for his safety. “ISIL wanted people to be isolated completely.”

To further instill fearful obedience, IS forced people to watch as they hacked off hands and lashed, beheaded or stoned offenders. The fighters routinely herded people into squares and markets to watch, residents said.

The woman’s killing in Mosul’s Samah district shook to the core those in the crowd forced to watch as their neighbour was dragged before them. It was in August, after the militants had lost strongholds in other parts of Iraq and Syria, prompting them to heighten their repression.

Several witnesses described to The Associated Press how the woman and her alleged lover were paraded blindfolded through the streets. The militants summoned everyone they could find to watch.

“‘Still not dead,’“ Samira Hamid recalled the militant pronouncing after he checked the woman’s pulse, before the lethal blow to her head. The man accused of being her lover was flogged 150 times and forced to go to Syria to fight in IS ranks.

Another witness, Sarmad Raad, found recalling the killing nearly unbearable.

“I shut down,” the 26-year-old said, “I just lost my mind.”

With the militants digging in as they lost territory elsewhere, Mosul’s residents saw food supplies dwindle until onions and bread were all that was left. Prices began to spiral. With food and work in short supply, people started selling anything of value.

Khodr Ahmed and his wife Khodriya Ahmed stand with their children after escaping fighting in Mosul in this Nov. 12, 2016 photo taken in Gogjali, Iraq. (AP)

Khodr Ahmed sold his car for $400 dollars. But as that money ran out, he sent his young boys Bashir and Mushal out to hunt for scrap metal.

As they scrounged, 9-year-old Bashir picked up what turned out to be an abandoned IS explosive. It blew off his hand and gouged a hole in his 10-year-old brother’s shin.

Ahmed blamed poverty and hunger caused by IS for the injuries.

“For them, they were living the good life. They had food to eat, but because we did not join, there was nothing for us.”

http://www.hindustantimes.com/world-news/lashes-bites-beheadings-mosul-citizens-recall-horror-under-islamic-state-rule/story-XjtpuyXe4QYN9COtpIVBoL.html

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'Get Us Out Of Here': Desperate Aleppo Residents Fear Arrest, Death

Dec 14, 2016

As the four-month siege of eastern Aleppo neared its end, some survivors trudged in the rain past dead bodies to the government-held west or the few districts still in rebel hands.

Others stayed in their homes and awaited the Syrian army's arrival.

For all of them, fear of arrest, conscription or summary execution had added to the daily terror of bombardment.

"People are saying the troops have lists of families of fighters and are asking them if they had sons with the terrorists. (They are) then either left or shot and left to die," said Abu Malek al-Shamali in Seif al-Dawla, one of the last rebel-held neighbourhoods.

The United Nations said it had reports that Syrian government troops and their Iraqi militia allies had killed civilians in eastern Aleppo, including 82 people in four different neighbourhoods in the last few days.

Speaking from a small area still under rebel control, father of five Abu Ibrahim, said he knew of two families executed by the advancing militias that have formed the vanguard of the assault on Syria's second city.

The United Nations also said it was concerned about reports that hundreds of young men leaving rebel-held territory had been detained.

President Bashar al-Assad's opponents have accused the government of mass arrests and forced conscription. The government has denied this and accused rebels of compelling men to fight in their ranks.

On Sunday foreign journalists were invited to a ceremony where Syria's army enlisted 220 men, including former rebels and others from areas captured by the government.

"You have been recalled to obligatory service," Brigadier Habib Safia told the men in the military police headquarters in a government-held Aleppo district.

One of the men, Mohammed Hilal, in his 20s, said he and some comrades had escaped from the east along with more than 60 families and that he was ready to join the army.

Wiped off the world

Those still trapped in eastern Aleppo have been using social media to distribute messages they feared would be their last.

"This is a message from someone saying farewell and who could face death or arrest at any time," a medic working in Aleppo wrote via the Whatsapp messaging service.

"Trapped from all sides, death comes from the sky in barrels... Remember what you had in Aleppo, that there was a city called Aleppo wiped off the map and from history by the world."

Abu Yousef, in his thirties, said he and his family fled bombardments, tanks and executions in his home neighbourhood of Bustan al-Qasr.

"Thanks to god, we are still alive... the regime is constantly bombing us. My two children are injured, I am injured. The regime wants to kill us all. We are very afraid," he said.

"You tell me 'may God protect you'. I don't want God to protect us, we want a solution! We want a cessation of hostilities. We want someone to get us out of here. It's enough. People are dying," he said.

The UN has called for international oversight for civilians and rebel fighters as the government takes over.

"The only way to alleviate the deep foreboding and suspicion that massive crimes may be under way both within Aleppo, and in relation to some of those who fled or were captured, whether fighters or civilians, is for there to be monitoring by external bodies, such as the UN," UN human rights office spokesman Rupert Colville said.

Children's charity War Child said: "What we are witnessing in Aleppo is a humanitarian catastrophe of historic proportions, bearing comparison to infamous disasters of the past such as Srebrenica and Guernica."

It's hell

East Aleppo's civil defence rescue organisation, which pulled many hundreds of dead and injured from rubble over years of the war, told Reuters rescue services had stopped.

"Our machinery and equipment is all broken. We have nothing left... We are working with our hands just to get people from under the rubble," said Ibrahim Abu Laith, an official from the civil defence group also known as the White Helmets.

The civil defence wrote on its Twitter account on Tuesday it could no longer keep track of the numbers of dead.

"There is no total number of casualties in besieged Aleppo today, all streets and destroyed buildings are full with dead bodies. It's hell."

With hospitals bombed out of service, aid stocks exhausted and a brutal bombing campaign in recent weeks, people in east Aleppo are desperate.

"People, even those wanted (by the regime) have started to flee to the regime from the intensity of the shelling, hunger, cold and amount of injuries which are not treated, in addition to the corpses in the streets... Planes and artillery are hitting strongly places where civilians are gathering," the medic said in his message.

UN human rights chief Zeid Ra'ad al Hussein warned that what we are seeing now in Aleppo could happen to populations of other towns outside government control such as Douma, Raqqa and Idlib.

"The crushing of Aleppo, the immeasurably terrifying toll on its people, the bloodshed, the wanton slaughter of men, women and children, the destruction – and we are nowhere near the end of this cruel conflict," Zeid said.

http://www.dawn.com/news/1302277/get-us-out-of-here-desperate-aleppo-residents-fear-arrest-death

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Yazidi prize winners demand IS leaders face justice

December 14, 2016

STRASBOURG - Two Yazidi women activists pleaded tearfully on Tuesday for Europe to bring Islamic State group leaders to justice for the crime of genocide, as they accepted the EU's Sakharov human rights prize.

Nadia Murad and Lamia Haji Bashar also urged Europe to consider admitting 500,000 Yazidi refugees from Iraq, when the pair received the award from the European Parliament in Strasbourg, France.

"I ask you urgently to promise us that you will never again allow such things, that these criminals will be prosecuted and will answer for their deeds," Bachar, 18, told the assembly.

Bashar, who has deep facial scars and lost an eye due to horrific burns from a landmine during her escape from Islamic State, was accompanied by her younger brother with whom she was reunited only the day before.

Murad, 23, called for establishing "zones protected by the international community" in Iraq, saying she looked to Europe as a "symbol of humanity".

The pair, wearing traditional bejewelled hats atop headscarves, were often unable to hold back their tears during the ceremony in the parliament building.

The women have become figureheads for the effort to protect the Kurdish-speaking Yazidi minority after having survived a nightmare captivity at the hands of the jihadists.

The United Nations says IS committed genocide against the minority. Thousands of Yazidis were massacred when IS took over the Sinjar area in August 2014 with thousands of Yazidi women abducted and turned into sex slaves.

"There is no doubt. Daesh committed a mass genocide," Murad said, referring to the Arabic term for IS.

"If the world is not able to protect us on our land, I invite you Europeans to open your doors to provide refuge to 500,000 Yazidis from Iraq," Murad said.

Yazidi leaders say that up to 3,000 of their women remain enslaved by the Islamic State group.

Named after the dissident Soviet scientist Andrei Sakharov, who died in 1989, the prize is awarded every year to honour individuals who combat intolerance, fanaticism and oppression, often falling foul of their governments as a result.

Last year, the European Parliament awarded the 50,000 euro ($55,000) prize to Saudi Arabian blogger Raif Badawi, jailed for "insulting" Islam.

http://nation.com.pk/international/14-Dec-2016/yazidi-prize-winners-demand-is-leaders-face-justice

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Pak PM For Setting up Modern Islamic State in the Light of Madina Charter

December 14, 2016

LAHORE - Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif Monday urged the religious scholars of the country to guide the state as well as the society as how a modern Islamic state could be established in light of golden principles provided by Madina Charter and the state institutions be reformed accordingly.

Addressing the International Seerat-un-Nabi Conference held here on the occasion of Eid-e-Milad-un-Nabi commemorating the birth of Holy Prophet (Peace Be Upon Him), the prime minister said unfortunately, we have developed prejudices in the religion and made it a symbol of fear instead of following it as model for peace and guidance.

Hosted by the Ministry of Religious Affairs and Interfaith Harmony, the theme of this year’s Seerat-un-Nabi Conference was ‘Interfaith Harmony in the light of teachings of Islam and Holy Prophet Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him).’

Started by the recitation of Quranic verses by renowned Qari Sadaqat Ali, the conference was attended by Minister for Religious Affairs Sardar Muhammad Yousuf, Minister of State Pir Amin-ul-Hasnaat, President of the Presidency of Religious Affairs of Turkey Mehmet Gormez, State Minister of Maldives Ali Waheed, parliamentarians, delegates from 11 countries and religious leaders of different faiths.

Prominent Naat Khawan Noor Muhammad Jarral recited the Naat highlighting blessings of the Holy Prophet (PBUH).

The prime minister said unfortunately, we have confined the scope of the blessings of the Holy Prophet (PBUH) who came to this world as blessing for the whole universe.

He said in the past, humans were decapitated in the name of religions but during its last three years, the government had dismantled the terrorists’ havens to a great extent following the remarkable sacrifices by armed forces, civilians and the government’s efforts.

However, he urged the religious scholars to play their due role to also bring an end to the mindset promoting extremism in the country.

“We have to re-establish the nexus of Islam and peace. We have to regain our identity,” the prime minister remarked.

http://nation.com.pk/lahore/14-Dec-2016/pm-for-setting-up-modern-islamic-state

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The World’s Newest Muslim Insurgency Is Being Waged in Burma

Dec. 13, 2016

Deadly attacks in October and November against security forces in Burma’s northern Arakan state are qualitatively different from anything that has occurred there in recent decades

International Crisis Group interviews with several members of the armed group that carried out attacks against government forces in October and November, as well as other sources, have revealed important new details about the situation in western Burma.

The group refers to itself as Harakah al-Yaqin, or Faith Movement in Arabic. It was established following the 2012 deadly riots between Buddhists and Muslims in 2012, which killed some 200 people and displaced over 120,000, almost all of them Muslim. Most have long been denied citizenship and face draconian restrictions on freedom of movement — limiting their access to government services and jobs.

This new armed group is overseen by a committee of Rohingya émigrés based in Mecca. The public face of its operations in northern Arakan, also called Rakhine, is Ata Ullah (known by several aliases), who is the main speaker in several videos released by the group. He was born in Karachi to a Rohingya father and grew up in Mecca. He is part of a group of 20 Rohingya who have international experience in modern guerrilla warfare and are leading operations on the ground in northern Arakan. Also with them is a senior Islamic scholar, Ziabur Rahman, a Saudi-educated Rohingya mufti with the authority to issue fatwas.

To enhance its religious legitimacy further, al-Yaqin has obtained fatwas from senior clerics in Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Pakistan and elsewhere, giving backing to its cause under Islamic law. This has helped the group gain significant support among Rohingya in northern Arakan. It has spent at least two years training hundreds of local recruits in guerilla warfare and explosives. Several hundred Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh have also traveled to Arakan in recent weeks to join up. The current heavy-handed security response is very unlikely to dislodge al-Yaqin; rather, it is creating further despair and animosity among the population, which may further entrench violence.

The emergence of this well-organized and apparently well-funded group is a game-changer in the government’s efforts to address the complex challenges of Arakan state. Though there have been some small insurgent groups in recent decades, mostly based out of Bangladesh, in Burma — which is officially called Myanmar — the Rohingya have never been a radicalized population, and the majority have eschewed violence, seeing it as counterproductive to improving their lot. But impoverished and oppressed, they struggle to survive and have little hope for their future; over the past year, the sense of desperation has been increasing. The fact that more people in northern Arakan are now embracing violence reflects deep policy failures over many years, rather than any sort of inevitability.

Importantly, although there are some indications of training and solidarity links with international jihadist organizations, the aims and actions of al-Yaqin involve insurgency against security forces, rather than being terrorist or transnational jihadist. It has not attacked civilians or religious targets. Its stated aim is to secure the rights of the Rohingya as citizens within Burma — although its violent approach has set back that cause immensely.

Its tactics are sophisticated. On Oct. 9, it launched predawn attacks on three border police bases, including an audacious assault on the headquarters, a key security installation. The headquarters was overrun in a complex attack involving several hundred assailants that included planting improvised explosive devices and setting an ambush on the approach road, delaying the arrival of army reinforcements, while the attackers looted the armory. A further clash on Nov. 12 killed a senior army officer. These actions represent the actions of a determined, well-trained insurgency that will likely launch further attacks.

The military responded with a major operation to recover the looted weapons and capture those involved. Feeling its dignity affronted and taking casualties, the military employed disproportionate force and failed to adequately distinguish attackers from civilians. At least 1,500 homes have been burned down — almost certainly by the military, according to satellite analysis released by Human Rights Watch on Dec. 13. Some 30,000 have been internally displaced and 27,000 have so far sought refuge in Bangladesh. The area where the military is focusing its crackdown has been almost entirely sealed off, which has made it difficult to verify multiple allegations of serious human-rights abuses; but as more people arrive in Bangladesh, a clearer picture is starting to emerge.

Residents displaced by conflict flee from Maungdaw, in Burma’s Rakhine state, on Oct. 13, 2016

Aung San Suu Kyi has said little publicly on the situation, has not traveled to the area or criticized the crackdown. The state media she controls have issued blanket denials of abuses, risking reinforcing the impunity of troops on the ground. Tensions with the Muslim world — including Malaysia and Bangladesh — are rising.

There are real risks that if the government mishandles the situation, for instance with the further use of excessive force, it will push more of the Muslim population in that area to support al-Yaqin, entrenching the armed group and a cycle of violence. It may also create conditions for radicalization that could be exploited by transnational jihadists to pursue their own agendas in Burma. A terrorist incident would inflame religious tensions across the country, with potentially disastrous consequences.

These dangerous outcomes can be avoided, but only if the security response is subordinated and integrated into a well-crafted political strategy that offers hope to the Rohingya, is sensitive to the deeply-felt grievances of Buddhist Arakanese, and prioritizes closer cooperation and intelligence sharing with countries in the region. The political space for such initiatives has now shrunk. Strong, public leadership is required from Aung San Suu Kyi to prevent the situation deteriorating.

http://time.com/4601203/burma-myanmar-muslim-insurgency-rohingya/

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These photos of Hindus distributing sweets, drinks to Muslims on Eid-e-Milad have gone viral

December 13, 2016

On December 12, Muslims across the world observed Eid-e-Milad, a day to celebrate and to mourn the birth and death anniversaries of the Prophet Muhammad, respectively. Devotees observe the day by distributing sweets and other offerings. Stories and tales of the loved prophet’s life are narrated. Processions in remembrance of Prophet Muhammad are taken out on this day.

While this is an Islamic festival, in an extremely touching gesture of brotherhood and friendship, a bunch of Hindus reportedly distributed sweets to those taking part in a procession in Kerala. A popular Facebook page by the name Unofficial: Subramanian Swamy shared the images on social media, which are now going viral.

According to a report by TwoCicles.net, this incident took place in various parts of Kerala’s Malabar district, like Chandragiri, Uduma, Tirur, Kondotty and Nediyiruppu. The Hindus reportedly distributed drinks and the traditional sweet pudding or payasam. Apparently, some of those serving were Lord Ayappa devotees, who were fasting ahead of their holy pilgrimage to Sabarimala, but were more than happy to participate in the good deed.

Amid much strife and communal/religious disharmony, such stories of friendship really present a ray of hope for a peaceful future. Earlier this year, two Muslim and Hindu men donated kidneys to each others’ wives so as to save their lives, not to forget the several times each of the two communities have come together to help each other out through dire straits.

http://indianexpress.com/article/trending/trending-in-india/on-eid-e-milad-hindus-distribute-sweets-and-drinks-to-procession-of-muslims-in-a-heartwarming-gesture-4424616/

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Arab World

 

ISIS made weapons in Mosul up to military standards: report

December 14, 2016

Islamic State militants have been producing weapons on a scale and sophistication which matches national military forces and have standardized production across their self-styled caliphate, an arms monitoring group said on Wednesday.

Conflict Armament Research (CAR) said the jihadist group had a "robust supply chain" of raw materials from Turkey, and the technical precision of its work meant that it could not be described as "improvised" weapons production.

"Although production facilities employ a range of non-standard materials and chemical explosive precursors, the degree of organization, quality control, and inventory management indicates a complex, centrally controlled industrial production system," it said in a report following visits last month to six facilities once operated by Islamic State in eastern Mosul.

Iraq's military launched a sweeping operation on Oct. 17 to retake the northern city, the jihadists' last major stronghold in the country, more than two years after government forces dropped their weapons and fled.

Elite army troops have retaken a quarter of the city in a grueling U.S.-backed campaign, but their advance has been slow and punishing. Soldiers are constrained by street-by-street fighting and a built-up urban battlefield.

CAR, which identifies and tracks weapons and ammunitions in conflicts, said the facilities it visited were part of a system producing weapons according to precise guidelines issued by a central authority.

Production included a monitoring system with regular, detailed reports on production rates and quality that helped ensure standardization - usually to the tenth of a millimeter - across the jihadists' once sprawling territory in Iraq and neighboring Syria.

"Mortar rounds manufactured in one part of IS forces' territory are calibrated to fit mortar tubes produced in facilities located elsewhere," the report said.

CAR investigators estimated that Islamic State had produced tens of thousands of rockets and mortar rounds in the months leading up to the Mosul offensive.

Standardization required consistency in the supply of source materials, the report said, achieved through a major acquisition network in neighboring Turkey and a supply chain extending from that country, through Syria, to Mosul.

In addition to technical advantages of standardization, CAR said Islamic State sought to mirror the functions of a national military force in a bid to "legitimize the group's capacity and coherence in the eyes of IS fighters".

The monitor also said documents it had seen in Mosul suggested Islamic State had provided its fighters with sophisticated instructions on making and planting improvised explosive devices as well as the operation of complex weapons systems, such as anti-tank guided missiles.

http://nation.com.pk/international/14-Dec-2016/isis-made-weapons-in-mosul-up-to-military-standards-report

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Egypt says church bomber linked to Muslim Brotherhood

December 13, 2016

CAIRO: A suicide bomber who killed at least 25 people in Cairo's main cathedral on Sunday was a Muslim Brotherhood supporter who joined a militant cell while on the run from police, the Interior Ministry said.

In an interview with Reuters, the mother of the alleged bomber said he had been sexually abused in police custody in 2014, but she had seen no sign he had been radicalized.

At least 49 people were wounded when the bomb went off in a chapel adjoining St Mark's Cathedral, Cairo's largest church and seat of the Coptic Christian papacy.

The interior ministry named the attacker on Monday as Mahmoud Shafik Mohammed Mostafa, a 22-year-old student. President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi said four people had been detained and two were on the run.

Sisi took power in 2013, deposing Mohamed Mursi of the Muslim Brotherhood, and has since outlawed the Islamist movement as part of a crackdown in which hundreds of its supporters have been killed and thousands jailed.

The Interior Ministry said Mahmoud was arrested in March 2014 for carrying arms during a protest, and was freed on bail after two months. It said he had joined a cell led by Mohab Mostafa Sayyed Qassem, a militant with links to Islamic State fighters in Northern Sinai and exiled Brotherhood officials in Qatar, and was wanted in two other cases.

"MAHMOUD WOULD NOT DO THIS"

Sitting in a two-storey house with her four daughters, his mother, Umm Bilal, said Mahmoud fled to Sudan shortly after being released.

Relatives of Ensaf Adel, a Christian woman who was killed in the bombing of Cairo's main Coptic cathedral, carry her body to bury her at the Mokattam Cemetery in Cairo, Egypt. REUTERS/Amr Abdallah Dalsh

"Mahmoud would not do this... he would not kill anyone," she shouted as she listened to a news report on the bombing.

Mahmoud's father died two years ago, said Umm Bilal, who wore a robe and Islamic face covering, or niqab. The young man called his mother regularly from abroad.

"He said he would not return because security forces would detain him again," Umm Bilal said, adding that the last call came about a week ago.

"He was asking after me and his sisters... I didn't notice any change in his voice or anything to suggest he would blow himself up."

Umm Bilal said her son was not radicalized, but had returned broken from police custody. Mahmoud had confided in his brother, she said, that he was sexually assaulted.

"He kept crying all night... He wasn't crying because he was beaten or tortured, though the scars were still visible on his face and body," she said. "I believe they broke him at the station, they violated his honor."

She said his two brothers had also been arrested, one of them after the bombing.

SPLINTERED MOVEMENT

The Muslim Brotherhood won Egypt's first free elections after the 2011 uprising that ended Hosni Mubarak's 30-year rule.

Full report at:

http://nation.com.pk/international/13-Dec-2016/egypt-says-church-bomber-linked-to-muslim-brotherhood

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Drone strike kills ISIS figures in Syria, some with Paris attack ties

13 December 2016

A coalition drone strike in Syria killed three ISIS leaders involved in plotting foreign attacks, including two men who helped facilitate last year’s attacks in Paris, the Pentagon said Tuesday.

“The three were working together to plot and facilitate attacks against Western targets at the time of the strike,” Pentagon press secretary Peter Cook said in a statement.

They were killed in a December 4 air strike in Raqqa, an ISIS stronghold in Syria.

Cook said two of those killed -- Salah-Eddine Gourmat and Sammy Djedou -- were involved in facilitating the November 13, 2015 Paris attacks, in which 130 people died.

Gourmat was a French national, and Djedou was Belgian.

Both of them were “close associates” of Abu Muhammad al-Adnani, an ISIS spokesman and an external operations leader who was killed in a coalition air strike in August.

The third person killed was Walid Hamman, a Frenchman who Cook said was a suicide-attack planner who was convicted in absentia in Belgium for a terror plot disrupted in 2015.

They were riding together in a vehicle at the time of the drone strike, Pentagon spokesman Navy Captain Jeff Davis said.

All three belonged to a network led by Boubaker Al-Hakim, a Tunisian killed in an air strike last month, officials said.

Last year’s ISIS-claimed attacks in Paris saw suicide bombers and gunmen launch a coordinated assault across the French capital, including at the Bataclan, a concert hall where 90 people were killed by three attackers during a rock gig in the culmination of the carnage.

Gourmat had worked on external attacks in Europe, the Middle East and north Africa and was involved in the “financial facilitation” of the Paris attacks, Davis said.

Djedou was involved in plotting Europe attacks, Davis added without giving details about his role in the Paris attacks.

Hamman was a “longtime French terrorist” who helped ISIS seize Mosul and other operations, Davis said.

Full report at:

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2016/12/13/Iranians-sneak-into-Britain-with-forged-passports.html

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ISIS halt Iraqi forces progress by blowing up bridges

13 December 2016

ISIS blew up the Khosr river bride east of Mosul in an attempt to halt the progress of Iraqi forces coming in from the recently liberated Al-Falah neighborhood as they head towards ISIS-held Hay AlSukkar.

Iraqi forces, however, reported the stopping of battles in Eastern Mosul – announcing the completing of the first phase of taking back the city.

Saturday, Iraq’s joint operations command that counter-terrorism forces regained control of 31 neighborhoods on the left coast of the city of Mosul.

They continue to advance in three other neighborhoods after inflicting heavy losses on ISIS during recent battles.

Full report at:

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2016/12/13/ISIS-halt-Iraqi-forces-progress-by-blowing-up-bridges.html

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Syrians working for international NGOs go on strike over Aleppo

13 December 2016

Syrian staff working on international programs have decided to go on strike after the regime raided Eastern Aleppo on Monday, reportedly committing mass executions and burning civilians alive.

With the regime forces making ruthless advances in Eastern Aleppo, and the UN confirming that executions were indeed committed, Syrian employees, activists, and members of INGO’s and international programs protested in Istanbul and Gaziantep.

A protest was held in front of the Russian Embassy in Istanbul and a group of activist staged a sit-in at the OCHA Office for Humanitarian Affairs in Gaziantep.

Syrian regime forces and sectarian militias on Monday carried out nearly 200 executions in Aleppo, which included women and children, according to eyewitnesses from within the city, Al Arabiya News Channel reported. A firing squad from Bashar al-Assad’s forces and militiamen also reportedly executed medical staff.

The following day, Syrian staff working with International organizations and corporations did not go to work, and announced a day of nationwide strike, as an outcry against the international communities who are not taking action over the crimes committed by Russia and the Assad regime in Aleppo and Syria in general.

Full report at:

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2016/12/13/Syrians-working-for-international-NGOs-go-on-strike-over-Aleppo.html

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Saudi King receives Orientalist Dr. William Polk

13 December 2016

Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud received Orientalist and Specialist in the Political Science and History of the Middle East and Arabian Peninsula Dr. William Polk at Al-Yammamh Palace on Tuesday.

Dr. Polk has lauded the Kings’ efforts in achieving the security and stability in the region and the Kingdom’s pioneering role in settling the international peace.

They exchanged talks on Dr. Polk’s historic tour for the Arabian Peninsula.

Full report at:

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/gulf/2016/12/13/Saudi-King-receives-Orientalist-Dr-William-Polk.html

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Over 330 militants lay down arms in Aleppo: Russia

Dec 14, 2016

Demoralized by the Syrian army’s victory on the Aleppo front, hundreds of foreign-backed militants have laid down arms as government forces are securing the exit of thousands of civilians from the embattled city.

On Wednesday, the Russian Defense Ministry said 336 militants have surrendered and moved out of the eastern parts of Aleppo over the past 24 hours, Interfax reported.

The ministry also said almost 6,000 civilians, among them 2,000 children, have also been evacuated from the formerly militant-held areas of the city.

Another report by the official Syrian Arab News Agency (SANA) said as many as 1,500 militants have laid down arms in a southern suburb of the Syrian capital Damascus to fall under an amnesty law issued by the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad earlier this year.

It said the gunmen in the village of Kanaker in the Rif Dimashq Province surrendered their weapons and checked at rehabilitation centers.

The amnesty law issued upon the ORDERS of President Assad stipulates that people carrying arms or maintaining them for certain reasons, as well as those on the run from justice can avoid punishment if they surrender and pledge not to participate in any activity endangering national security.

Thousands of militants have so far turned themselves in to enjoy exemption.

Since November the government has been making major gains against the terrorists THANKS to concerted military operations.

Most recently, the troops liberated the entire northwestern flashpoint city of Aleppo after nearly a month of uphill battle against Takfiri terrorists.

A member of the Syrian pro-government forces walks in eastern Aleppo’s al-Kalasseh neighborhood on December 13, 2016. (Photo by AFP)

The city has now been placed under a ceasefire, during which wounded people are expected to be evacuated.

Under the ceasefire DEAL, brokered by Russia and Turkey, the militants were to start evacuating from Aleppo along with civilians in the early hours of Wednesday.

Media aired footage of Syrian government buses at an evacuation point, with reports saying there has been a delay in the process.

Al-Mayadeen reported that the buses are to move 5,000 fighters and their families to Atareb, a town in the northwestern Aleppo countryside.

The Syrian government has not made any comments about the reports.

‘Militants dumping secret documents’

Meanwhile, sources on the ground said the foreign-backed militants have set fire to the facilities that served as their operation bases in Aleppo in an attempt to get rid of the secret documents revealing the links between the terror groups and their Western supporters, Fars News Agency reported.

The Takfiri terrorists with the Nour al-Din al-Zenki militant group torched schools and residential buildings in the southeastern neighborhoods of Aleppo before leaving the city under the ceasefire DEAL, the sources told the news agency.

According to the report, the burnt documents included information on terror groups’ ties Turkey and Saudi Arabia, among other foreign parties.

‘Aleppo returned to nation’

In another development. Syria’s UN envoy Bashar al-Ja’afari strongly denied reports of “summary killings” by the army in the areas formerly-held by the terrorists.

He made the comments after an Associated Press reported cited sources linked to militants in Aleppo as saying that government forces had carried out “summary killings” and “mass executions” in neighborhoods recaptured on Monday.

Full report at:

http://www.presstv.ir/Detail/2016/12/14/497803/Syria-Damascus-Kanaker-Rif-Dimashq

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Syrian Army Dispatches Second Column of Fresh Forces to Eastern Homs

Dec 14, 2016

"The army troops and popular forces are receiving more soldiers and EQUIPMENT at T4 airbase and are getting ready to start anti-ISIL operation in the region," the sources said.

Al-massdar news for its part reported that possibly 2,500 Syrian soldiers will be deployed in Palmyra battlefields in the next few days to start operation to take back lost energy fields near Tadmur.

A field source disclosed on Tuesday that the Syrian Army sent a large number of fresh forces and a large volume of military equipment to the T4 airbase to repel ISIL's non-stop raids on the base.

"The Army has forwarded a large number of forces and a large volume of equipment to the surroundings of T4 airbase to reinvigorate the defense capabilities of its soldiers in the face of ISIL's growing offensives," the source said, adding that fierce clashes are underway in around T4 airbase.

The source further added that ISIL's continued attacks to capture T4 had been repulsed by army men, saying the pro-government forces were readying to carry out large-scale anti-ISIL operation in Eastern Homs.

The sources pointed out that the army sent more troops and equipment to the region to start a fresh operation to liberate Palmyra and the entire gas and oil fields in Eastern Homs that they lost to ISIL in last couple of days.

Full report at:

http://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13950924000393

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Syria: Aleppo Militants Ask for Relocation to Idlib

Dec 13, 2016

"The militants have asked the Syrian Army through intermediaries to give them a corridor so that they could leave Eastern Aleppo with arms and head to Idlib," a source told RIA Novosti on Tuesday.

The source also added that the request is still being considered by the Syrian army commanders in the area.

Russian UN Ambassador Vitaly Churkin earlier said that a DEAL has been reached for militants to leave the embattled Syrian city of Aleppo in the nearest future.

"My latest information is that they indeed have an arrangement achieved on the ground that the fighters are going to leave the city," Russian official told reporters, adding that it could happen "within hours maybe".

The Syrian Army's victories in Eastern Aleppo finally forced militant groups to leave the war-torn city as Jeish Al-Fatah terrorists are now encircled in a very small area left with the only two options of surrender or die.

The Russian Peace Coordination Center in Syria announced on Tuesday that the Syrian army troops and popular forces have squeezed Jeish al-Fatah terrorists in an area no larger than 3 sq/km, after taking control of more than 98 percent of entire Eastern Aleppo.

A field source also disclosed that the defense lines of the terrorists have completely collapsed and they are now able to resist against the government forces' strikes, saying the army men and Hezbollah will soon liberate the remaining neighborhoods.

Full report at:

http://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13950923001865

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ISIL Launches Massive Assault in Deir Ezzur, Syrian Army Goes on Alert

Dec 13, 2016

ISIL terrorists struck government positions in Deir Ezzur, nearby areas of the city's airbase and near Panorama checkpost East of the Deir Ezzur city, but the Syrian Army soldiers engaged in fierce clashes with them and fended off their attacks.

Heavy fighting erupted between the army men and ISIL in the regions of al-Huweiqa, al-Baqaliyeh and al-Roshdiyeh.

The ISIL targeted army positions with its bomb-laden drones, but the army units destroyed all the unmanned aircraft.

The terrorists later started a major offensive but were forced to retreat after hours of clashes.

According to the latest reports, the ISIL intends to re-launch fresh attacks on army positions in Deir Ezzur concurrent with its raid on government positions in Homs province.

The ISIL attack on Deir Ezzur comes after the Sunday capture of Palmyra by the terrorists in neighboring Homs province.  

In the meantime, Deputy Director of the Damascus Center for International and Strategic Studies Taleb Ibrahim said that one of the most IMPORTANT things to note about the assault on Palmyra was the "strategy of hornets" used by ISIL.

"They are fighting using what they call the strategy of 'hornets.' In the beginning of their attacks, they send a small number of militants to attack army sites or cities, etc. After that, they come in waves, wave after wave until they capture the city or get what they want," he added.

Full report at:

http://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13950923001132

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Syrian Army Troops Drive Terrorists out of More Positions in Eastern Damascus

Dec 13, 2016

The army men advanced over 500 meters in depth of terrorists-held regions in al-Meida'ani farms and reached the strategic Tal (hill) Farzat, inflicting major losses on the militants.

A field source said that the army units are resolved to continue their advances against militants from several directions and lay siege on the terrorists deployed to the town of al-Nashabiyeh and its surrounding villages.

A Syrian military official disclosed on Monday that the army soldiers and popular forces with the back up of the country's fighter jets started a fresh round of attacks to restore more security to Damascus-Homs highway and put an end to Jeish al-Islam's rule over Eastern Ghouta's main city.

"The pro-government forces' operation is aimed at restoring security to Harasta's highway to reinvigorate the army's control over the Damascus-Homs highway," the official said.

He further said that the government forces started their anti-terrorism offensive from al-Aman Bellah fuel station towards Douma farms in al-Samadi, adding, "The Syrian air force targeted the movements of Jeish al-Islam in the region, inflicting a number of casualties on the militants."

Full report at:

http://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13950923000889

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Europe

 

Hundreds of Muslim ‘No-Go’ Zones Take Root in Europe

13 Dec 2016

Filmmaker Ami Horowitz recently encountered the all-too-real brutality to be found in a Muslim “no-go” zone in Sweden.

“When they dragged me into that building, that’s really when I thought, ‘They’re going to end my life here,'” Horowitz told LifeZette. Horowitz painted a vivid picture of the extent of the danger of Muslim no-go zones in Sweden — even the police fear them, he said.

“The rules of engagement are if [police are] chasing a subject, no matter what this guy did, once they cross that threshold [into a Muslim area], they stop pursuit, and if they want to actually go in they have to call an entire armed convoy,” Horowitz said. “There used to be a police station in Rinkeby [another no-go neighborhood that Horowitz visited], and they had to get rid of it,” he noted.

Horowitz recently recounted his whole story in an op-ed published by The Hill.

“While there has been debate regarding the existence of what have been dubbed ‘no-go areas,’ I personally discovered the corporeality of these enclaves when I stepped into the Stockholm neighborhood of Husby,” Horowitz wrote.

As Horowitz noted, liberals love to pretend that Muslim no-go zones — Muslim neighborhoods to which even the authorities are afraid to venture and in which Sharia law is the rule and non-Muslims are attacked on sight — are little more than a figment of paranoid conservative imaginations. But as Horowitz would find out for himself, they are very much a horrifying reality.

“Literally moments after I stepped into the town, a gang of five clearly Islamic men approached my crew, and they attacked me without provocation,” he continued. “They repeatedly punched, kicked and choked me, as a number of bystanders watched. Eventually they dragged me into a building, which at the time I assumed was to finish me off. Once inside the apartment building vestibule, they resumed their vicious attack. But seconds later someone opened an apartment DOOR directly above us, and it luckily spooked them enough to run away,” wrote Horowitz.

The truth, however, is that there are neighborhoods like Husby scattered across Europe. These “no-go” areas stand as a damning testament to the utter devastation wrought on Europe by multiculturalism and mass Muslim migration.

While it is nearly impossible to gauge the full extent of the no-go zone problem, it is safe to say there are hundreds of no-go areas scattered throughout Europe. A March 2016 report published by the Hungarian government found 900 areas across Europe.

In France alone, where no-go areas are euphemistically referred to as “zones urbaines sensibles” — sensitive urban zones — the government counts over 750 such zones. In Sweden, the number could be “as high as 50, [but ] the police who I spoke with … estimated there to be about 20-30,” Horowitz said.

In the United Kingdom, “you have to have extra vigilance in certain parts [of London] when you are working,” a London police officer told Breitbart News in December 2015. Also in December 2015, a police officer from Lancashire in northern England told the Daily Mail that, “there are Muslim areas of Preston that, if we wish to patrol, we have to contact local Muslim community leaders to get their permission.”

Germany also has its problems with no-go zones. In July 2015, a routine traffic stop in Gelsenkirchen turned into a nightmare when officers tried to carry out their duty. “During the arrest, the two officers were surrounded by about 50 members of a large family who suddenly appeared on the side streets,” local news reported.

The mob tried to intimidate the officers into dropping the arrest, but when that failed, a 15-year-old attacked the officers from behind and started choking one. The situation only returned to calm after backup arrived. “It was only with the summoned reinforcements that the police were able to put the situation back under control and arrest the youthful attacker,” the report said.

“Every police commissioner and interior minister will deny it. But of course we know where we can go with the police car and where, even initially, only with the personnel carrier,” Bernhard Witthaut, then-head of Germany’s police union, said during an interview with Der Westen newspaper in 2011.

“The reason is that our colleagues can no longer feel safe there in twos, and have to fear becoming the victim of a crime themselves. We know that these areas exist. Even worse: In these areas, crimes no longer result in charges. They are left to themselves. Only in the worst cases do we in the police learn anything about it. The power of the state is completely out of the picture.”

Of course Witthaut’s words were spoken four years before the Muslim migrant crisis. They were spoken before no-go zones in Belgium became planning grounds for Islamic terrorist attacks in Paris. As Muslim migration into Europe shows no real signs of slowing, the number of Muslim no-go areas will only continue to grow.

No-go zones "are a very significant and serious problem, especially after the recent rush of refugees to Europe from Syria and other parts of the Muslim world," Dr. Tawfik Hamid, senior fellow at the Potomac Institute for Policy Studies and expert on radical Islam, told LifeZette. "They are bringing a culture that is very different from the traditional Western culture and with these numbers it is a very serious issue," Hamid noted.

No-go areas are also a "significant threat when you consider the high birthrate of the Muslim community," Hamid said. Indeed, the existing no-go zones coupled with Muslims' high birthrate and the flood of Muslim migration into Europe could see the development of entire no-go regions. "Some of the Islamic groups encourage [high birthrates] because they know the more numbers they have in Western countries the more influential" they can be, Hamid said.

"It's like when you see a cancer cell that is not causing any harm now, but later on if it is left without intervention it can cause very serious trouble," said Hamid. "Even if you don't see the trouble today it does not mean that trouble is not coming."

http://www.lifezette.com/polizette/hundreds-muslim-no-go-zones-take-root-europe/

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11 arrested in France over Nice massacre

December 13, 2016

NICE: French police on Monday arrested 11 people suspected of helping to arm the Islamist radical who crushed 86 people to death with a truck in Nice, sources close to the investigation said.

Ten suspects, including one or more Albanians, were arrested in various parts of Nice and another was detained in the western city of Nantes, the sources said.

The arrests come five months after Tunisian extremist Mohamed Lahouaiej Bouhlel ploughed a 19-tonne truck into a crowd on the Nice seafront, further traumatising a country reeling from a series of jihadist attacks.

The victims from 19 different countries were watching a fireworks display on the Bastille Day public holiday. Over 400 people were injured.

The 11 people arrested Monday are believed to have been in contact with three people, including two Albanians, arrested in July and charged with supplying Bouhlel with an assault rifle and a pistol.

Bouhlel used the pistol in a firefight with police who shot him dead at the scene, ending his bloody rampage.

Full report at:

http://nation.com.pk/international/13-Dec-2016/11-arrested-in-france-over-nice-massacre

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Ireland’s Muslims more educated than general population

Dec 14, 2016

Muslims in Ireland are better educated on average than non-Muslims, according to new research.

Ireland was one of few exceptions in Europe with Muslims completing an average of 11.8 years of schooling, or a year more than non-Muslims, the Religion and Education Around the World report by the Washington-based Pew Research Centre found.

It attributes the relatively high education levels among Muslims in Ireland, the UK, Lithuania, Slovakia, Estonia, the Czech Republic and Hungary to the countries having “immigration policies favourable to highly educated migrants”.

Regarding Ireland, the study says “for example, Ireland’s economic boom of the late 1990s drew highly skilled Pakistani and African migrants and refugees. Partly as a result of this, Muslims in Ireland have an average of 11.8 years of schooling – one more year, on average, than non-Muslims in that country.”

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It is estimated that Ireland’s Muslim population currently stands at approximatly 70,000, of whom 2,000 are said to be doctors.

Schooling

In other European countries Muslims tended “to have less education, ranging from an average of 10.8 years of schooling in Georgia to a continent-wide low of 5.8 years in Spain, ” the study found.

The biggest gap, the report says, is in Germany, where Muslims, on average, have 4.2 fewer years of schooling than non-Muslims (9.5 years v 13.7 years, respectively).

In France, Muslims had 2.9 fewer years schooling less than non-Muslims while in Spain it was 3.2 years less. Many such European countries, the study found, had “experienced large inflows of Muslim refugees or guest workers in recent decades”.

Full report at:

http://www.irishtimes.com/news/social-affairs/religion-and-beliefs/ireland-s-muslims-more-educated-than-general-population-1.2904661

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Muslims Like Us is slammed by viewers on Twitter for reducing Islam to a 'reality show

13 December 2016

Viewers tuning in to controversial reality show Muslims Like Us have condemned the documentary's makers, saying it makes a mockery of Islam.

The BBC two-part series aired last night and quickly sparked a storm of comments on social media, with some suggesting the show had reduced an entire religion into a reality show made purely for 'banter'.

Some of the more tongue-in-cheek comments on Twitter even suggested that the hour-long programme proved nothing except that 'Muslims are rubbish at karaoke too.'

Many of the comments on Twitter suggested the show didn't represent Islam, despite featuring ten housemates who all seemed to interpret the religion differently

The show sees ten volunteers - housemates - sharing a property for nine days and aims to show what it is to be a Muslim living in the UK in 2016.

The wide spectrum of participants, including a gay man, model, teacher and controversial Islamist Abdul-Haqq - former British BOXING champion Anthony Small, quickly created a tinderbox atmosphere.

On social media, there were immediate comparisons with Big Brother, with plenty of viewers saying the BBC, who produced the documentary with Love Productions, had simply ripped off the long-standing reality television format.

@SarishK95 wrote: 'I'm about 20 minutes in and it's basically Big Brother with Muslims.'

@manxben4 agreed, saying: 'It's like some kind of crazy Big Brother.'

@AbdillahiShuib wasn't impressed by the provocative NATURE of the show, writing: 'The BBC literally hired all the most controversial Muslims and made them fight in a house. How is that showing people Islam?'

@Tahxminax raged: 'How is #MuslimsLikeUs considered okay!? My religion isn't something for you to WATCH on a Monday night for bants.'

Defending the show's content, programme maker Fatima Salaria told the Huffington Post that she hoped the series would show that: 'British Muslims can just be as intelligent, compassionate, mean, rude, polite, and dysfunctional as any other community in Britain. In that sense, the programme is humanising.'

When Ferhan revealed to the group that he was gay, Abdul-Haqq became aggressive and condemned his sexuality as against Islam. The majority of the other housemates praised Ferhan for his honesty.

Salaria defended the inclusion of Haqq in the programme, saying he is often 'outnumbered and often out-argued, mostly incidentally by the Muslim WOMEN in the programme.'

On Twitter though, some surmised that the show actually taught viewers nothing about Islam and poked fun at the housemates' night out at a karaoke bar.

Full report at:

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-4028004/My-religion-isn-t-watch-banter-Controversial-BBC-documentary-Muslims-Like-slammed-viewers-Twitter-reducing-Islam-reality-show.html

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British Media's 'Useful Infidels' Rush to Defend Shariah

by Raheem Kassam

Dec 13, 2016

The Guardian newspaper has rushed to mock Lord Tebbit — one of Britain's last remaining actual conservatives — for daring to question the prominence of Shariah law in the United Kingdom.

In an anonymous article in its UK Politics SECTION, the paper describes the peer, who is sadly of declining health, as "85 and loving it" before lampooning a recent Telegraph article in which Lord Tebbit states:

Until very recently in our society, child marriage, bigamy, divorce at the will of the male partner, the imprisonment of wives at the will of their husband, female genital mutilation and abortion on the grounds of the sex of the unborn child were unacceptable and indeed criminal offences.

Nor did we have any challenge to supremacy of statute and common law from a rival legal system with its own courts such as that now represented by the network of Sharia law and courts.

These thoughts are not an attack on Islam and its values. They are simply a warning that a population in which different groups observe different laws is inherently unstable.

But for the Guardian writer hiding behind anonymity, even this mild critique of the cultural discrepancies between some Muslim communities and traditional British values was too much, and demanded an attack on Lord Tebbit, who spends his time writing for the Telegraph and caring for his wife who never fully recovered after the IRA terrorist attack on the Conservative Party conference in Brighton.

Despite Lord Tebbit going to unnecessary lengths to state his concerns were "not an attack on Islam and its values," the Guardian flippantly describes his concerns over the use of Shariah law in Britain as: "It's the Muslims."

And reflecting on Lord Tebbit's claims that "a rival legal system with its own courts" is challenging Britain's legal system, the Guardian replies (to its own question over the validity of this claim): "Nope."

This denialism is tantamount to the author covering their eyes and EARS while a bear gleefully defecates in amongst the trees while screaming that the Pope is secretly a Hindu.

Countless reports, investigations, and witness testimonies have underscored the claims that parallel legal systems exist in the United Kingdom which seek to circumvent the British courts.

The claim that Shariah councils have no legal force in Britain is false.

The Guardian is attempting to sidestep the issue by claiming these councils have no legal force. This is a lie.

Shariah councils work under the authority granted to them under the Arbitration Act 1996, and the councils' relationships with UK courts are convoluted, to claim they have no legal force is a complete falsehood. "Fake news" if you will. Though the Guardian has become somewhat accustomed to that in recent weeks.

The Guardian adds: "Some Muslims might decide to follow their rulings, just like a Christian couple might ask their priest what to do, or anyone might toss a coin. None of it is binding unless you also sign a contract to bind yourself under British law".

But seemingly, the paper has chosen to make LIGHT of the plight of real women who are fleeing marital rape, domestic violence, or just don't want to be married to their husbands any more.

I don't know why the Guardian hates WOMEN, especially Muslim women, but it is worth reading what the Leiden Law website has to say about how women are often forced into "marital captivity," how Shariah councils are prejudiced in favour of Muslim husbands, and how Imams reject the supremacy of UK law when it comes to matters of divorce.

Full report at:

http://www.meforum.org/blog/2016/12/guardian-useful-infidels-defend-shariah

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Spain: Police hold convicted killer for ISIL activity

13 December 2016

Spanish police on Tuesday arrested a former member of an illegal paramilitary group for his alleged support for ISIL.

An Interior Ministry statement revealed the suspect -- who the Spanish police consider “very dangerous” -- had been convicted of murder in 1984.

The man was arrested on Tuesday in Segovia, central Spain “for indoctrination in religious extremism… spreading ISIL propaganda and having the determination to carry out a terrorist attack,” according to the ministry.

The suspect, born in Spain’s Basque Country, had traveled to Afghanistan, Syria and Palestine, where he expressed a willingness to carry out suicide attacks, according to the Spanish authorities.

Full report at:

http://www.worldbulletin.net/europe/181655/spain-police-hold-convicted-killer-for-isil-activity

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Italy says EU-Russia ties to be shaped by Syria endgame

13 December 2016 Tuesday

Italy's new prime minister sees EU relations with Russia being "defined" by unfolding events in Syria and a Donald Trump-led United States as his TOP ally on the global stage.

Paolo Gentiloni, the successor to Matteo Renzi, told parliament Tuesday that this week's summit of European Union leaders in Brussels would focus on Syria, where Russian-backed pro-government forces are reportedly executing civilians in the final stages of the battle for control of Aleppo.

Gentiloni, 62, added: "I take the opportunity to say that we stand ready to collaborate with the country that has always been our principal partner, the United States, on the basis of our principles."

Full report at:

http://www.worldbulletin.net/europe/181654/italy-says-eu-russia-ties-to-be-shaped-by-syria-endgame

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Pakistan

 

Fear stalks Chakwal after attack on Ahmadi place of worship

NABEEL ANWAR DHAKKU

Dec 14, 2016

CHAKWAL: Panic and fear on Tuesday persisted in Dulmial village, about 35km from Chakwal city, after a mob attacked a place of worship of the Ahmadi community a day earlier.

The enraged crowd occupied the worship place and set on fire religious books, fans, carpets and other items. They also offered prayers at the worship place.

An Ahmadi man, identified as Malik Khalid Javed, 65, who was present at the worship place, died on the spot after having suffered a cardiac arrest, while a man — identified as Naeem Shafique, 27, and not belonging to the minority community — was hit by a bullet during the attack and killed. Another non-Ahmadi man, who received bullet injury, is said to be in a stable condition in the District Headquarters Hospital, Chakwal.

The situation remained tense throughout the day on Monday until army and Rangers personnel were called in. They took control of the worship place and sealed it.

Police escorted the body of Malik Javed to Chenab Nagar where he was buried.

Naeem Shafique was laid to rest in his native village of Tatral Kahoon, about 4km from Dulmial. His death was “celebrated” on social media and he was declared a “martyr”.

Provincial minister Malik Tanveer Aslam, MNA Tahir Iqbal, MPA Zulfiqar Ali Khan, the regional police officer and the Rawalpindi division commissioner also reached the village.

Police registered a case against 40 known and scores of unknown miscreants under sections 302, 324, 148, 149 of the Pakistan Penal Code and Section 7 of the Anti-Terrorism Act.

According to sources, about 10 people were arrested.

About 500 members of the Ahmadi community live in Dulmial village. The dominant tribe in the village is of Malik caste. The villagers built a mosque in 1860.

During the early 20 century some members of the Malik tribe converted to the Ahmadi faith. In 1927, a minaret of the mosque was constructed. When the Zulfikar Ali Bhutto government declared Ahmadis non-Muslims, the issue of ownership of the mosque cropped up. However, the atmosphere in the village remained peaceful.

In 1997, a case about the ownership of the worship place was filed.

“The case was dismissed by the Lahore High Court,” Assistant Commissioner of Choa Saidan Shah Ashar Iqbal told Dawn.

“We did not follow the case deliberately as we knew that the court would order the Ahmadis to demolish the minaret and tomb of the mosque. In such an expected verdict we would never have been able to take possession of the mosque,” Faiz Ahmed Faizi, vice-chairman of the Dulmial Union Council, said when Dawn approached him for his version.

There are six shops attached to the mosque.

Sources told Dawn that a villager settled in Canada recently came to the village and mobilised the villagers to take control of the mosque. About 580 Muslims of the village filed an application with the district coordination officer a couple of weeks ago, asking the DCO to get the mosque vacated from the Ahmadis. “We request you to help us in vacating the mosque, otherwise we would be forced to take an extreme measure,” they warned in their application.

On Dec 5, the Ahmadis also filed an application drawing the DCO’s attention to the simmering tension in the village. It stated that on Dec 2 some clerics from outside the village had addressed the Friday congregation and mobilised the villagers to occupy the worship place by force.

“You are kindly requested to take adequate security measures to protect the life and property and worship places of the Ahmadi community,” Malik Zahid Hameed, local president of Jamaat-i-Ahmediya, and the organisation’s chief security officer retired Col Mohammad Farooq Malik pleaded in the application.

A hate campaign against the marginalised community was also ignited on social media after Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif ordered naming the physics centre at the Quaid-i-Azam University after Nobel laureate Professor Dr Abdus Salam.

“After receiving applications from both the sides we discussed the issue at a meeting and adequate measures were taken to resolve the issue amicably,” DCO Mehmood Javed Bhatti told Dawn. He said Muslim members assured the district administration that they would not change the route of the Rabiul Awwal procession. “Despite their assurance we deployed additional police force in the village. We were sure that the organisers would stick to their word but to our surprise they backtracked on their promise and changed the route of the procession,” he regretted.

The DCO said policemen were deployed outside the houses of Ahmadis while Rangers remained alert in the village.

“An overwhelming number of miscreants came from adjoining villages,” an Ahmadi resident claimed.

“The district administration could have taken steps to avoid this tragic situation, but it failed. However, police did a great job by rescuing our 40 members who were trapped in the worship place,” Salimuddin, spokesperson for Jamaat-i-Ahmediya, said.

Published in Dawn December 14th, 2016

http://www.dawn.com/news/1302240/fear-stalks-chakwal-after-attack-on-ahmadi-place-of-worship

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PTI finally falls back on NA over Panamagate case

AMIR WASIM

Dec 14, 2016

ISLAMABAD: Having failed to win a verdict from the Supreme Court against Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif over the Panamagate issue last week, the opposition Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) on Tuesday decided to end its boycott of the National Assembly.

This, however, will not be the first such decision by chairman Imran Khan; the PTI had also earlier ended boycott of parliament after his allegations that the 2013 elections had been rigged were adjudged to be untrue by a commission headed by the then chief justice of the Supreme Court.

Talking to reporters after presiding over a meeting of the party office-bearers and parliamentarians at his Banigala residence here on Tuesday, the PTI chairman announced that they had decided to end their boycott of the assembly in order to seek an explanation from Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif for allegedly making a false statement about his foreign properties on the floor of the house.

The new session of the National Assembly begins on Wednesday (today).

Mr Khan said his party would move an adjournment motion as well as a privilege motion against the prime minister for his act of “lying to the parliament and the nation”.

The PTI announcement came hours after submission of a privilege motion by the main opposition Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) against the prime minister over the same issue.

PPP,PTI to move privilege motions against PM for ‘lying’on assembly floor; Imran says Sharif wants control over SC, army

The PTI chief had in October announced the boycott of the National Assembly till a decision of the Supreme Court in the Panama Papers case. Last week, the Supreme Court deferred the hearing of the case till the first week of January. Despite severe criticism from within and outside the PTI, Mr Khan remained stuck to his decision and the party also boycotted Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s address to a joint session of parliament last month.

Accompanied by PTI vice-chairman Shah Mehmood Qureshi, Mr Khan said that through the adjournment motion his party would seek a full-fledged debate on the matter and see how parliamentarians made the prime minister accountable for making a “false statement” in parliament.

He said the PTI would decide its next strategy after seeing the response of parliament to the two motions the party planned to move in the National Assembly.

He claimed that the prime minister had made different statements in the Supreme Court and in parliament. In parliament, he added, the prime minister had stated that he had all the required documents to prove trail of the money used for purchasing properties in London, but in the court his lawyers failed to produce any document.

Moreover, Mr Khan said, the prime minister in his speech had claimed that Mayfair Apartments in London had been purchased from the money they had got after selling Gulf Steel in the UAE. Later the PTI proved in the court that Gulf Steel was actually suffering a loss of 2.6 million dirham, he added.

Mr Khan said Mr Sharif’s lawyers had termed the prime minister’s speech in parliament “a political speech”.

He said the Brazilian president had to face impeachment only because he had provided wrong figures about the budget to parliament. “Here, a prime minister is telling lies to conceal his corruption and properties worth billions of rupees,” he regretted.

In reply to a question, Mr Khan said it was the prime minister who had “discredited” parliament by lying on its floor, and not the PTI. “What will the opposition do in parliament if it cannot make the prime minister answerable there?” he said while responding to a question about criticism his party was facing over the decision to boycott the assembly.

He said that in the past whenever he brought people on roads he was accused of inviting martial law. However, he said, if he again decided to take to the streets, the people would not accuse him of inviting the army.

Mr Khan alleged that after having destroyed each and every institution, PM Sharif was now “eying” the Supreme Court and the army.

“Now Nawaz Sharif wants control over the SC and the army. He wants to convert the army into the Punjab police. I hope these two institutions will not disappoint the nation and will not come under their (rulers’) control,” he added.

He said he was disappointed with the apex court as he wanted a day-to-day hearing of the Panama Papers case. However, he said the PTI would wait for a final outcome of the case in the court.

Full report at:

http://www.dawn.com/news/1302224/pti-finally-falls-back-on-na-over-panamagate-case

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Top general vows to break nexus between terrorists, facilitators

14-Dec-16

ISLAMABAD: Chief of Army Staff General Qamar Bajwa on Tuesday made it clear that nexus between terrorists in remote areas and their facilitators in urban centres would be severed at all costs, according to the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR).

He said this during a visit to Corps Headquarters Peshawar for an in-depth briefing on operations and the way forward in FATA, KP and Malakand Division, the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) said.

Praising the gains of counter-terrorism operations, the general said that focus must remain on indiscriminate IBOs, combing operations for stabilisation and consolidation.

He said, "Having created conditions for governance and socio-economic reforms, Army will stand by our valiant tribals and work with the govt to bring about an equitable development across FATA for peace and prosperity in the entire region."

The COAS also reviewed progress towards border management and directed to expedite all construction work and capacity building of Frontier Constabulary to effectively check all illegal cross border movement.

Full report at:

http://dailytimes.com.pk/islamabad/14-Dec-16/top-general-vows-to-break-nexus-between-terrorists-facilitators

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Nawaz to face real opposition if demands not accepted: Bilawal

December 14, 2016

KARACHI - PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari Yesterday said a historic protest would be staged against the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz-led government if they did not accept his four demands.

Addressing a press conference at the PPP Media Cell office after chairing a meeting of the party core committee, the PPP chairman said the prime minister would see the real opposition after non-acceptance of his four demands on December 27.

“Three-time Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has looted the country and he should face the courts as faced by PPP leaders, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, Benazir Bhutto and Yousuf Raza Gillani,” he said, adding they had given enough time to Nawaz Sharif and it seemed they were not willing to accept even one of the PPP demands. “The government is not making fun of us, rather it is mocking the entire nation,” he said, adding Nawaz Sharif himself had announced to begin accountability from him in the Panama leaks. “We are not asking the government to accept our demands. Instead, we will make it happen and force the government to accept them,” he said.

Outlining his four demands, Bilawal Bhutto said a parliamentary committee on national security be formed, PPP’s Panama bill be passed, resolution of all parties conference on CPEC be implemented and foreign minister be appointed immediately.

He said the incumbent government wanted to lead the country towards the path of dictator Ziaul Haq, but they would not let this happen. “Some politicians take U-turns while others want to have good working relationship with all. I will not take U-turn and lead a protest campaign at all cost,” he said, adding he was a new entrant in political arena, but do politics for what was right. “I ask all political parties of the country to join hands with PPP in this campaign as we have no other option except this,” he said.

Full report at:

http://nation.com.pk/national/14-Dec-2016/nawaz-to-face-real-opposition-if-demands-not-accepted-bilawal

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South Asia

 

Bangladesh PM: Identify Sources of Terror Financing

December 13, 2016

Sheikh Hasina reiterated her government's stance that there would be no place for terrorism and militancy on Bangladesh soil. "We're firm in this regard," she said.

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has underscored the need for identifying the sources of terror financing and causes of militancy and terrorism to effectively root out these menaces from human civilisation.

“We never allow anybody to generate any evil act like using Bangladesh land as was seen in previous regimes. We’ll continue to remain as a nation of peace guided by pluralism, secularism and the spirit of Liberation War,” she said.

The prime minister was addressing the graduation ceremony of the National Defence Course and Armed Forces War Course 2016 at Sheikh Hasina Complex of Mirpur Cantonment in Dhaka on Tuesday.

Sheikh Hasina reiterated her government’s stance that there would be no place for terrorism and militancy on Bangladesh soil. “We’re firm in this regard,” she said.

Noting that the Armed Forces have been able to gain the trust and confidence of common people, she said her government has ensured supply of modern equipment with newer technology to modernise it while required number of infrastructures constructed to provide highest standard training. “We’ve been working relentlessly to establish professional and trained Armed Forces.”

The prime minister said she was pleased to know that during the one-year hectic and challenging National Defence Course and Armed Forces War Course, the participants have learned different aspects of state craft, including socio-political culture, economy, international relations and national security.

She  said Bangladesh is playing a major role in promoting regional integration as its geo-strategic location made it an important ‘actor’ in the global politics.

“We’re developing inter-state relations based on our foreign policy. Our strategy and policy have proven to be effective in human development and economic empowerment of the people in general. However, there remain serious challenges in ensuring continuing growth and development,” she said expressing her belief that the graduates with the acquired knowledge from respective courses will be better prepared to tackle these challenges.

Reminding the graduates that the developing countries have to remain prepared to face unexpected challenges originating from the ever-changing environment of the 21st century, she said it is a must that they build increasing economic relations among themselves to diversify and strengthen their economies.

Hoping that the foreign graduates are satisfied with the traditional Bangladeshi hospitality, the prime minister said their empathy and appreciation for Bangladesh will create them as Bangladesh’s valuable ambassadors in their respective countries.

She said her government has ensured that the Armed Forces have access to latest technologies and equipment as adequate training facilities have been established and made operational.

Hasina recalled the Armed Forces’ integrity, commitment and diligence to help the people in times of natural calamities and disasters and strategic infrastructure projects implemented by them at very high standards both at home and abroad.

Mentioning that graduates from this institution have become cabinet secretary, chiefs of services or chief of police, successful businessmen, media personalities and professors while MPs are showing interest to participate in the NDC Capstone Course, she underscored the need for maintaining its standard and continuing its development, assuring full support in this regard.

A total of 52 persons from Bangladesh Army, Navy, Air Force, administration, police and foreign service took part in this year’s NDC Course. Besides, 26 members from 12 friendly countries participated in the course.

This year, the Armed Forces War Course comprised of 25 Lieutenant Colonels from Bangladesh Army, one Captain and four Commanders from Bangladesh Navy and two Group Captains and three Wing Commanders from Bangladesh Air Force.

Chiefs of Bangladesh Army, Navy and Air Force, commandant, members of the faculty, Graduating Course members of National Defence Course and Armed Forces War Course 2016 were present.

Commandant of the National Defence College Lt Gen Chowdhury Hasan Sarwardy delivered the welcome speech. Earlier, the prime minister distributed certificates among the graduates of NDC and AFWC 2016.

http://www.dhakatribune.com/bangladesh/2016/12/13/pm-identify-sources-terror-financing/

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Govt asks UN to remove sanctions against Hekmatyar

December 13, 2016

The Afghan government has asked the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) to lift sanctions against Hizb-e-Islami leader Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, who forged a peace deal with government early in September.

In response about Hizb-e-Islami's steps after sanctions are lifted against Hekmatyar, a Hizb-e-Islami spokesman, Hashmatullah Arshad, said it will take time but it will happen.

"It takes time. The people will experience the outcome of this big peace in the near future," he said.

Meanwhile, the deputy ambassador of the European Union George Cunningham said they are closely assessing the implementation of the peace deal.

"We are looking currently, at the moment, at the role the European Union may play in the implementation of the Hizb-e-Islami agreement. To play our part as well eventually in an attempt to wean the Taliban away from fighting wars and enter political life in Afghanistan," he said.

Full report at:

http://nation.com.pk/international/13-Dec-2016/govt-asks-un-to-remove-sanctions-against-hekmatyar

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Amu: Militancy looking to capitalise in Muslim countries

December 13, 2016

Minister of Industries Amir Hossain Amu said militancy and terrorism has emerged worldwide to take control of resources in Muslim countries.

At the programme, he said: “Islam is a peaceful religion which operates through Quran and Sunnah while people will ill-intentions are patronising and spreading terrorism in the name of Islam and misinterpreting the Quran and Sunnah.”

The minister said the objective of these people is to humiliate the global Muslim community and destroy Islam in order to control the resources in the Muslim countries including Bangladesh.

“Militancy and terrorism have emerged across the Muslim countries as part of a foreign conspiracy to capture our resources,” he added.

He said: “Citizens of Bangladesh were unaware of national resources. Bangabandhu had given a country to the nation whose borders were not yet drawn. His daughter Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina determined the border with a Land Boundary Agreement.

Sheikh Hasina has also signed a river water sharing agreement with a neighbouring country. And Bangladesh has won maritime disputes in an international court and acquired vast expanses of marine territory.

Full report at:

http://www.dhakatribune.com/bangladesh/2016/12/13/militancy-capitalise-muslim-countries/

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Taliban suffer heavy casualties in an airstrike in Balkh province of Afghanistan

Dec 14 2016

The Taliban militants suffered heavy casualties in an airstrike conducted in northern Balkh province of Afghanistan, the Ministry of Interior (MoI) said Wednesday.

According to a statement by MoI “Today early morning, during an airstrike 21 armed Taliban were killed and some amount of light and heavy rounds of ammunitions destroyed as well.”

The statement further added that the airstrike took place in Chamtal district but no further details were given.

The Taliban militants group has not commented regarding the report so far.

Balkh is among the relatively peaceful provinces in northern Afghanistan but the anti-government armed militant groups have recently been trying to destabilize the province.

Numerous have operations have been launched by the acting governor and prominent politician Ata Mohammad Noor in some remote districts of the province to suppress the militants activities.

Full report at:

http://www.khaama.com/taliban-suffer-heavy-casualties-in-an-airstrike-in-balkh-province-of-afghanistan-02473

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Notorious commander of Hezb-e-Islami, Zardad, returning to Kabul: Report

Dec 14 2016

Reports have emerged regarding the possible return of a notorious commander of Hezb-e-Islami, Zardad, is returning to Kabul today.

The issue became viral in social media shortly after scores of people gathered in the airport to welcome the notorious commander who is believed to be returning from London.

Dozens of photographs purportedly showing the supporters of the notorious commander have been shared in the social media.

There are mixed reactions regarding his return to Kabul with majority recalling the grave human rights violations Zardad committed while he was fighting during the devastating Kabul war.

Full report at:

http://www.khaama.com/notorious-commander-of-hezb-e-islami-zardad-returning-to-kabul-report-02472

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50 Afghan asylum seekers to be deported from Germany

Dec 14 201

A group of at least 50 Afghan asylum seekers will be deported from Germany after their applications were rejected by the authorities, it has been reported.

Local newspaper, Der Spiegel, citing the government sources, reported Tuesday that the asylum seekers will be deported in line with an agreement reached between the Afghan and German authorities.

A spokeswoman for the Ministry of Interior of Germany quoted by Reuters confirmed that there would be a repatriation flight to Afghanistan by the end of the year.

The official further added that the deportations were taking place on the basis of an agreement made with the Afghan government in October.

Full report at:

http://www.khaama.com/50-afghan-asylum-seekers-to-be-deported-from-germany-02471

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US conduct more airstrikes in East of Afghanistan, 12 ISIS militants killed

Dec 14 2016

The US forces based in Afghanistan conducted at least three more airstrikes against the loyalists of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) terrorist group, leaving at least 12 of them dead.

The local security officials said the airstrikes were conducted using unmanned aerial vehicle in Achin district.

The officials further added that the airstrikes were carried out in different times on Tuesday in Mazdaki, Bazar and Gand areas.

According to the officials, at least 2 loyalists of the terror group were also wounded in the airstrikes.

The officials also added that the local residents did not suffer any casualties.

The loyalists of the terror group have not commented regarding the report so far.

This comes as a commander of the terror group was killed along with his three fighters in a similar airstrike a day earlier.

According to the local security officials, the airstrike was carried out in the restive Achin district, targeting the militants in Abdul Khel district.

Full report at:

http://www.khaama.com/us-conduct-more-airstrikes-in-east-of-afghanistan-12-isis-militants-killed-02470

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India

 

India-Pakistan Legislators Meet in Dubai

December 13, 2016

Amid a chill in Indo-Pak ties, political leaders and prominent journalists from the two countries have met here and underlined that the only way forward to improve relations was through a “candid and consistent” dialogue. The fifth round of ‘Pakistan-India Legislators and Public Officials Dialogue’ was held on Sunday and facilitated by Pakistan Institute of Legislative Development and Transparency (PILDAT).

Under the leadership of Mani Shankar Aiyar, former MP and union minister, delegates from India included MLAs from Delhi, Rajasthan and Haryana. Some prominent journalists from India also attended the event.

The topics on the agenda were the role of media in improving relations between Pakistan and India and how to positively take forward the ‘Fight Poverty’ agenda.

The participants underscored that while media can play a role in positively influencing ties between the two countries, the essential responsibility to chart a course in this regard remains with elected leadership in both India and Pakistan.

“It was also recognised, at the outset, that while dialogue is the only way forward for two countries to improve relations, candid and consistent dialogue aimed at conflict resolution can only take place when the two states recognise and address the issues such as those included in the Composite Dialogue 1997 and the Comprehensive Dialogue 2015,” a statement said.

The participants observed that in inter-State relationships, due consideration, courtesy and diplomatic protocol must be observed. And media should be given access without hindrance to cover all such events.

They recalled the earlier Joint Communique of March 10, 2016 that urged media in both countries about objective and professional reporting, upholding the core values of journalism and avoiding sensationalism and negative hype.

Participants highlighted the continuing issue of inability of news organisations in India and Pakistan to appoint reporters in each other’s countries.

They underscored that lack of access for media to locations in the other country and obstacles in obtaining visas for journalists of both countries remain key issues hampering an informed portrayal of each country.

Participants highlighted that the phenomenal growth in new digital media has enormous potential for positive engagement between Pakistani and Indian citizens.

Noting that resolution of disputes between Pakistan and India can free-up resources for poverty alleviation, the participants stressed that poverty offers a critical challenge for both countries which should share successful policies and practices in alleviating it.

Tensions have been running high between India and Pakistan at the LoC and got escalated after the cross border terror attack on an army base in Nagrota in Jammu.

http://indianexpress.com/article/india/india-pakistan-legislators-meet-in-dubai-4425011/

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Assam Muslim bodies defy order to keep madrassas open on Fridays, govt not amused

By Kangkan Acharyya

Dec 13, 2016

New Delhi: The recent notification issued by the Assam government to keep all schools open on Fridays has resulted in a stand-off between the education department and Islamic organisations of the region.

The stand-off has provided the Congress with an opportunity which has been seen trying its best to flare the issue up by infusing secular versus communal debate.

A meeting held among Islamic leaders at Badarpur in Assam last Sunday, decided to defy the order that they perceive as infringing upon the rights of Muslims. The meeting decided to keep madrassas closed on Fridays and open on Sundays in contravention to the government order on the weekly holiday of schools.

The government of Assam in an order issued last week said that all schools under the state government are to remain open on Fridays and closed on Sundays in a bid to bring in uniformity in the weekly holiday system in all the schools under the government. The order on holidays did not go down well with the Islamic organisations as madrassas have been following the tradition of remaining closed on Fridays to perform mass prayers.

Ataur Rahman Majharbhuyan, secretary of North East India Naduwa Tu Tamir, an Islamic organisation of the region told Firstpost that the meeting decided that madrassa students will not attend classes on Fridays and will sit in classes on Sundays.

"Even if the government opens the madrassas on Fridays no student will attend classes. If no madrassa teacher  turns up on Sundays given the government order to remain closed on Sundays, the senior students of madrassas will teach the junior ones and will continue the classes defying the order," he said.

In the sidelines of the meeting, some students of a madrassa in Badarpur on Sunday flung open the doors of Deorail Title Madrassa marking the beginning of the movement.

Siddek Ahmed, former Congress minister, who was also present at the meeting threatened to take the issue to the high court if the government of Assam did not roll back its decision.

"In the last six months of BJP rule in Assam, we have noticed that Muslims have been denied the right to do business and get appointed in government jobs turning them into second class citizens of the country," he said without stating any empirical evidence as to which jobs and businesses have Muslims been denied and how.

Ahmed further added, "Now trampling upon the right to religious education of the Muslims the government has issued the weird notification to keep madrassas open on Fridays."

Maulana Fazlul Karim, general secretary of Jamiyat Ulema E Hind said that the BJP-led Assam government has issued this blanket order in violation of existing rule which says that madrassas will remain closed on Fridays.

“The order is passed to appear anti-Muslim. Madrassas remain closed on Fridays even in Gujarat, the home state of the Prime Minister, let alone Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Punjab,” he said.

“Like madrassas even Sanskrit schools have a different rule for weekly holidays. Why the government is not compelling the Sanskrit schools to follow the same notification?” Karim asked.

Pranab Goswami, principal of a Sanskrit School in Assam informed told Firstpost that Sanskrit Schools do not follow the rule of having weekly holidays like other schools.

"We have holidays on every eighth day after full moon and new moon and next day after full moon and new moon. That way we have two holidays every fourth week,” he informed when asked about the holiday system followed by Sanskrit schools.

But the resistance from the Islamic organisations did not go down well with the government that is keen to implement the order.

Full report at:

http://www.firstpost.com/india/assam-muslim-bodies-defy-order-to-keep-madrassas-open-on-fridays-govt-not-amused-3154706.html

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Maratha Seva Sangh organises communal harmony rally as part of Eid ul Milad celebrations

13 December 2016

Solapur (Maharashtra): In view of Eid Ul Milad, the birth anniversary of Prophet Mohammad (PBUH), Maratha Seva Sangh organised a “Aman Sandesh” rally on Monday in the city in association with Chhatrapati Shivaji Muslim Brigade, Jijajau Brigade and the Sambhaji Brigade.

The main objective behind holding this rally was to spread the teachings of Prophet Mohammed (PBUH) and humanity and communal harmony among countrymen. The rally began in the city centre place and covered a number of Muslim-dominated areas. The rally, which received a good response from all sections of the society, saw the participation of nearly 200 activists from various organisations.

Untitled

Talking to Twocircles.net, the President of the city MSS unit Ram Gaikwad said, “The teachings of Prophet Mohammed are not only for Muslims but for the entire humanity. We are always keen to erase the line which has been drawn between Muslims and other communities. The birth anniversary of Prophet (PBUH) is the ideal time to hold such events and spread brotherhood.”

Full report at:

http://twocircles.net/2016dec13/1481609250.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+Twocirclesnet-IndianMuslim+%28TwoCircles.net+-+Indian+Muslim+News%29#.WFDjntJ951u

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Indian Mujahideen co-founder Riyaz Bhatkal lives life of luxury in Karachi with ISI patronage

Dec 14, 2016

HYDERABAD: Foot soldiers of the Indian Mujahideen (IM), who executed the terror strike in Dilsukhnagar, may have been convicted by a National Investigation Agency+ (NIA) court on Tuesday, but prime accused and mastermind Riyaz Bhatkal is believed to be holed up in Karachi, with the patronage of Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence+ (ISI).

NIA detectives claim IM co-founder Riyaz made a huge amount of money courtesy the benevolence of ISI.

"Several IM members received financial and material assistance from ISI, which has been providing shelter to Riyaz and his brother Iqbal Bhatkal in Karachi," the NIA said in its chargesheet filed in the Dilsukhnagar blast case+ . Officials said Riyaz is currently living a lavish life at a house in Karachi.

Riyaz's financial prosperity, a result of deciding to sail with the ISI, is what led to the IM split+ , an NIA source said. His decision was contrary to that of former IM members such as Shafi Armar who is reportedly in Syria luring Indians to join the ranks of the Islamic State (IS) - and others, who wanted to further the cause of either al-Qaida or the IS.

As Riyaz reportedly has a passport issued by Pakistan, NIA officials are finding it difficult to track his movements and nab him.

To execute the blasts, Riyaz sent Rs 1.25 lakh through hawala and a legitimate money transfer channel. After the blasts, he wired nearly Rs 70,000 to his associates from the United Arab Emirates. Riyaz was constantly in touch with Yasin Bhatkal, who kept changing his location, before executing the Dilsukhnagar terror strike from Pakistan, the NIA source said.

Riyaz, who wanted to avenge alleged anti-Muslim activities in Hyderabad, directed the trio, the planters Asadullah Akhtar, alias Haddi, Mohd Tahseen Akhtar, alias Hasan and Zia-ur-Rahman, alias Waqas, to join Yasin and execute the twin blasts in Dilsukhnagar and other places across the country. A day before the blast, Riyaz told Yasin that a blast would be triggered and asked him to pray for its success.

Full report at:

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/Indian-Mujahideen-co-founder-Riyaz-Bhatkal-lives-life-of-luxury-in-Karachi-with-ISI-patronage/articleshow/55972837.cms

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Ahmadiyya Muslims converge in Qadian for annual congregation

December 13, 2016

Ahmadiyya Muslims from over 50 countries are expected to participate in the 125th annual congregation of the community to be held in the last week of this month at Qadian in Punjab. Thousands of Ahmadiyyas including those from Pakistan are expected to arrive at Qadian for the spiritual ‘Salana Jalsa’. Last year, around 5,000 people from Pakistan had attended the event but this year their confirmation is yet to received, said Tariq Ahmad Ahmadiyya, spokesperson of Ahmadiyya Muslim Ja’amat India.

“Generally their confirmation is received late because most of them travel by road and border clearance issues are to be managed. But those coming by flights will definitely participate although there is tension between the two countries,” he said.

A large delegation from Indonesia will also participate in the event scheduled on December 26-28.

Full report at:

http://indianexpress.com/article/india/ahmadiyya-muslims-converge-in-qadian-for-annual-congregation-4425182/

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Yasin Bhatkal among five Indian Mujahideen men convicted in Dilsukhnagar blasts

December 14, 2016

Five Indian Mujahideen (IM) cadres, including co-founder Yasin Bhatkal, were on Tuesday convicted by a special NIA court here in connection with the 2013 blasts in Dilsukhnagar, Hyderabad, in which 18 people were killed. This is the first time IM cadres have been convicted in a terror case.

The other four convicts are Zia-ur-Rehman alias Waqas from Pakistan, Asadullah Akhtar alias Haddi from Uttar Pradesh, Tahaseen Akhtar from Bihar and Aijaz Sheikh from Maharashtra. They are at present lodged in Cherlapally prison, where the special court heard the case. The sentencing has been posted for December 19. IM founder Riyaz Bhatkal, the prime accused in the case, is  absconding.

The six were charged under various sections of the Indian Penal Code, Explosives Substances Act and Unlawful Activities Prevention Act, 1967.

The trial began on August 24 last year. By the time final arguments concluded last month, the NIA court had examined 453 witnesses and over 150 documents. The court reserved its judgment for November 21, and then posted it for December 13.

In its first chargesheet, the NIA accused Yasin Bhatkal alias Mohammed Ahmed Siddibappa and Asadullah Akhtar of conspiring to plant bombs at two places. Akhtar and Bhatkal were arrested by the NIA on August 29, 2013, from the Nepal border in Bihar. Akhtar was also accused of smuggling explosives from Mangaluru to Hyderabad.

Full report at:

http://indianexpress.com/article/india/indian-mujahideen-terror-yasin-bhatkal-hyderabad-blast-convicted-4425896/

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North America

 

Tech employees vow not to help Donald Trump surveil Muslims, deport immigrants

Dec 14, 2016

WASHINGTON: More than 200 employees of technology companies including Alphabet Inc's Google, Twitter Inc and Salesforce pledged on Tuesday to not help US President-elect Donald Trump's administration build a data registry to track people based on their religion or assist in mass deportations.

Drawing comparisons to the Holocaust and the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II, the employees signed an open letter at neveragain.tech rebuking ideas floated by Trump during the campaign trail. The protest, which began with about 60 signatures but had more than tripled within hours of publication, comes a day before several technology company executives are due to meet with the real-estate developer in New York City.

"We are choosing to stand in solidarity with Muslim Americans, immigrants, and all people whose lives and livelihoods are threatened by the incoming administration's proposed data collection policies," reads the letter, signed by a mix of engineers, designers and business executives.

It continues: "We refuse to build a database of people based on their Constitutionally-protected religious beliefs. We refuse to facilitate mass deportations of people the government believes to be undesirable."

The letter vows to not participate in creating databases of identifying information for the US government on the basis of race, religion or national origin, to minimize the collection or retention of data that could facilitate such targeting and to oppose any misuse of data at their respective organizations considered illegal or unethical.

Trump clashed with Silicon Valley on several issues during the campaign, including immigration, government surveillance and encryption, and his victory last month alarmed many companies who feared he might follow through on his pledges.

Those concerns have not been assuaged in recent weeks, as Trump has said he intends to nominate individuals to senior posts in his administration who favour expanding surveillance programs.

Alphabet chief executive officer Larry Page, Apple Inc CEO Tim Cook, Facebook Inc chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg and Amazon.com Inc CEO Jeff Bezos and Oracle Corp CEO Safra Catz are among those expected to attend the summit with Trump's transition team, according to two technology industry sources.

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/us-elections-2016/Tech-employees-vow-not-to-help-Donald-Trump-surveil-Muslims-deport-immigrants/articleshow/55972377.cms

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Study Shows the U.S. Attracts an Elite Muslim and Hindu Population

December 13, 2016

Hindus and Muslims who have migrated to the United States in recent years are especially well-educated, according to a new survey from the Pew Research Center. On average, Hindus in the U.S. have nearly 16 years of schooling, significantly more than Jews, the next most highly-educated U.S. religious group. Muslim Americans have nearly 14 years of schooling, which is well above the U.S. average.

The high education levels of U.S. Hindus and Muslims are in stark contrast to the schooling levels of those populations worldwide, where they are the two least educated of all religious groups, with just 5.6 years of schooling on average. The Pew data underscore how U.S. policies and world migration patterns have produced a highly selective representation of the two immigrant groups.

"Hindus and Muslims in the United States are a pretty elite segment of the global Hindu and Muslim population," says Conrad Hackett, a Pew demographic researcher.

In both cases, they are generally newcomers. Nearly nine out of ten Hindus in the United States and two out of every three Muslims were born outside the country, according to Hackett.

With their relatively high levels of education, they qualify for higher paying positions. As immigrants, their experiences challenge the stereotype of foreign-born workers competing with native-born workers for low-skill, low-wage jobs.

The contrast between high Hindu and Muslim schooling levels in the United States and their low levels worldwide, meanwhile, suggests that the U.S. story is unique.

"A lot of people, when they look at Asian Americans and their relative success, say there's something about Asian culture," notes Karthick Ramakrishnan, a political scientist and immigration expert at the University of California, Riverside. "[But] if you look at culture in Asia, it doesn't predict the same level of success. So we have to look for answers elsewhere."

The answers largely lie in the unique U.S. immigration experience of Muslims and Hindus, almost all of whom have come from distant countries in the Middle East and South Asia.

"They've had to travel to the United States, perhaps at considerable cost," notes Hackett, meaning they are likely to be among the most privileged part of the population in their native countries. In this regard, their situation is different from that facing immigrants from Mexico or Central America, who can move to the United States more easily, with or without immigration papers.

Full report at:

http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2016/12/13/505427739/study-shows-the-u-s-attracts-an-elite-muslim-and-hindu-population

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Snowden sends strong anti-surveillance message to Trump

DECEMBER 14, 2016

In a clear message to US President-elect Donald Trump, the famed National Security Agency (NSA) whistleblower Edward Snowden has said that government surveillance programmes will create “vulnerabilities” for social media users.

“The same technologies that are being used to connect us, to tie us together, to let you listen to this right now, are also being used to make records about your activity. Recording the activities of someone creates vulnerabilities for them,” Mr. Snowden said during a question-and-answer session with Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey CEO on the live video app Periscope owned by the micro-blogging site.

According to Re/Code, Mr. Trump had called for enhanced digital surveillance as well as a federal registry of Muslim-Americans.

“While other major tech companies have refused to comment about whether they plan to participate if asked to hand over data to build a database specifically profiling Muslim-Americans, Twitter said it definitely would not,” the report said.

“Pardon Snowden”, a campaign launched in September by major civil rights groups working to win official forgiveness for the whistleblower who is currently in exile in Russia, had announced the Periscope session watched by over 150,000 people.

Mr. Snowden also spoke about the prevalence of fake news on social media plaforms.

“The answer to bad speech is not censorship. The answer to bad speech is more speech. We have to exercise and spread the idea that critical thinking matters now more than ever given the fact that lies seem to be getting very popular,” Mr. Snowden said.

Full report at:

http://www.thehindu.com/news/international/Snowden-sends-strong-anti-surveillance-message-to-Trump/article16804329.ece

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US sanctions exchange houses sending cash to Islamic State

Dec. 13, 2016

WASHINGTON — The U.S. government says it is sanctioning two Middle Eastern exchange houses and an individual accused of helping to funnel CASH to the Islamic State group.

The Treasury Department said in a statement Tuesday that it has listed IS-financier Fawaz Mohammed Jabayr al-Rawi, and Iraq-based Selselat al Thahab Money Exchange and Syria-based Hanifa Currency Exchange as Specially Designated Global Terrorists.

The government says al-Rawi and the two exchange businesses have played an IMPORTANTrole in the Islamic State group's financial operations by helping the extremist group move its MONEY.

Full report at:

http://www.wsbradio.com/ap/ap/international/us-sanctions-exchange-houses-sending-cash-to-islam/ntMps/

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Top telly documentary Muslims Like Us made by Huddersfield filmmaker

13 DEC 2016

He’s been shot at by the Taliban, interviewed convicted terrorists in prison and investigated the men who star in online sex shows.

Yet Huddersfield-born broadcaster Mobeen Azhar, 37, may find that his latest project Muslims Like Us is the one to create the most waves.

The two-part documentary, which ended on Tuesday night (December 13), put ten British Muslims with contrasting world VIEWS in a house in York and filmed their debates and disagreements. The BBC described it as a “unique and bold social experiment”. Others drew parallels with Channel 4’s Big Brother.

Among the participants were Saba, a 76-year-old Bob Dylan fan, openly gay Fehran, glamorous schoolteacher Mehreena, stand-up comedian Nabil and Abdul Haqq, formerly the boxer Anthony Small, a Muslim convert who adheres to an ultra-conservative form of Islam.

Muslims Like Us has divided opinion. Some commentators called it “a squalid, cheap game” (Daily Mail) whilst others said it was “a wake-up call for Islamophobes everywhere” (Daily Telegraph).

Huddersfield-born documentary filmmaker Mobeen Azhar filming in Washington with his crew

Baroness Warsi, the Dewsbury-born peer and former co-chair of the Conservative Party, tweeted: “Was convinced #MuslimsLikeUs was going to be a CAR crash but I’m loving the diversity of Muslim opinions. Well done @BBCTwo #notallthesame”

Azhar, from Birkby, the son of a bus driver, works as a freelance TV and radio producer/director for a range of production companies including the BBC, where he was previously on staff for 10 years.

The BAFTA-nominated filmmaker, a former pupil of Fartown High School, previously made a radio documentary for the BBC World Service on Prince and his legendary vault full of unreleased music.

It became a best-selling BOOK, Prince: Stories from the Purple Underground. He is just back from a trip to Myanmar and in the New Year will travel to Indonesia and India to complete a five-part series for Singapore TV.

Full report at:

http://www.examiner.co.uk/news/top-telly-documentary-muslims-like-12316663

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Canadian media sucks at representing Muslims in Canada

Dec 14, 2016

When it comes to Muslims, even the good news stories can turn ugly. Take this example from September 2016: Prime Minister Justin Trudeau visited a mosque during Eid, one of the holiest celebrations in the Islamic calendar, to pay his respects. The story morphed into something sinister and malevolent.

Several newspapers owned by Postmedia reported that the mosque our prime minister was stepping into—and the imam who leads it—have ties to terrorism; that the mosque is sexist for separating men and WOMEN; and that the PM can’t really be a feminist if he is prepared to speak before such a gathering. “If Canada’s prime minister were a woman, she wouldn’t have been permitted where Justin Trudeau stood earlier this week: on the ground floor of a gender-segregated Ottawa mosque for Eid al-Adha celebrations,” wrote one columnist erroneously in the National Post.

The contention that women couldn’t speak anywhere in the mosque was refuted a few days later by a female Liberal MP who shared her own experience of appearing at the front of that very mosque on various occasions. Irrespective of the truth, the mosque and those who frequent such spaces were framed as being at odds with Canadian “values,” considered a threat to be marginalized and avoided. The stories led to at least one hateful and threatening email that was reported to police, never mind the vitriol spewed in various comment SECTIONS and on social media.

In the public imagination, the mosque symbolizes a space representative of the more than one million Canadian Muslims who call this country home. And that not all mosques are the same, or that there are many Muslims working to make these spaces more inclusive and welcoming doesn’t always matter when it comes to media coverage.

Some media outlets and personalities view stories like this one as an opportunity to perpetuate stereotypes and stoke fear. They seem to bank on heightened anxiety around violent extremism, Syrian refugees, xenophobia, and divisive political rhetoric calling into question the loyalty of Muslim minorities in the Western world, reinforcing the harmful narratives PROMOTED by violent extremists: that Muslims can never belong here.

No one has studied the roots of this phenomenon in Canada, but according to an in-depth U.S. study, it’s estimated that seven American foundations have spent more than $42.6 million between 2001–2009 to PROMOTEanti-Muslim narratives. “The efforts of a small cadre of funders and misinformation experts were amplified by an echo chamber of the religious right, conservative media, grassroots organizations, and politicians who sought to introduce a fringe perspective on American Muslims into the public discourse,” says the report, “Fear, Inc. 2.0.” Our borders are porous in more ways than one; these “perspectives” influence Canadians too.

All of this despite the fact that polling indicates a majority of Canadian Muslims are deeply proud of this country, a democratic and prosperous nation where religion can be practiced freely, citizens can contribute positively to the wider communities without fear of discrimination, and where it isn’t impossible to dream of opportunities for oneself or one’s family—theoretically, at least.

As Canadians confront painful truths about this country—its treatment of First Nations, ongoing racial profiling, sexism in our institutions, and countless other social justice travesties—we turn to the media to understand the various sides of an issue and to find solutions to our myriad social inequities and challenges. But that’s not always the way media producers handle this immense responsibility, desperate for clicks and in a constant rush to capture fleeting attention in a 24-hour news CYCLEwhere speed often matters more than accuracy or balance. These compromised standards of journalistic ethics and integrity seem to erode further when it comes to talking about Muslims in Canada.

***

There was clearly a deliberate attempt at scoring political points by suggesting that Trudeau had no feminist backbone in speaking before a segregated prayer space during Eid. But the story was presented to bolster these negative connotations, even if the supposed offences weren’t actually rooted in fact. For one, there were WOMEN at the front of the room that day, despite reports that stated otherwise; at least one columnist had to change her piece when notified of the obvious error. And separation between men and women occurs primarily during prayer services, as with most religious prayers in other faith communities. It quickly became evident that suggesting separation is sexist only when in the context of Muslim prayer space was an attempt to reinforce stereotypes.

Muslims are more frequently becoming a proxy for political manoeuvrings, as seen in the last federal election and in the last Quebec provincial election, with all the talk of banning religious CLOTHING from citizenship oaths and workplaces. The challenge in even speaking to such slanted stories means there’s little room for nuance. Addressing universal struggles for greater female empowerment, for example, could be used as evidence of rampant patriarchy if mentioned in this context. It’s too often a lose-lose.

These Islamophobic themes in our media mean that struggling for social justice within our own faith spaces and calling for change can be a challenge. Fellow community members might see it as “airing dirty laundry” at a time when our communities are under intense scrutiny. Others might VIEW it as fuelling the Islamophobes. We’re left wondering what we can safely say, and how we can call for positive change in such a divisive climate.

To top it all off, a third of Canadians have a negative perception of Islam and Muslims, according to the recent Environics Survey of Muslims in Canada. Other polling shows that people who actually know a Muslim will be far more likely to have a positive impression. But when our daily media diet is persistently negative, painting Muslims as a fifth column, barbaric, sexist, dangerous, deceptive, and problematic, how can we blame people for simply wondering—even on a most basic level—what gives?

***

Just a few weeks prior to the mosque “controversy,” the Canadian Press ran a terribly damaging story about a so-called report by a couple of self-proclaimed researchers with the headline, “Mosques and schools in Canada filled with extremist literature: study.” How such a study was published at all is a mystery: it wasn’t peer-reviewed, and it did not contain any actual data, other than a few anecdotes clearly aimed at scaring people. “Many of those present during the visits to the libraries seemed sullen and sometimes angry. The traditional greetings of friendship were absent,” one particularly ridiculous section reads. “This is consistent with the increasing general angriness of Islamist/extremist VIEWS being advanced in some local mosques.”

Canadian Press editor-in-chief Stephen Meurice issued something of a mea culpa, admitting the story required actual responses from Canadian Muslim organizations before being published. But it was too little, too late. The Toronto Star also had to apologize for accompanying the piece with a picture of an unrelated Toronto mosque.

Most other media organizations that ran the original article didn’t publish a follow-up piece with responses from Canadian Muslim organizations countering the claims in the so-called study. In fact, an academic who wanted to share her own experience researching an Islamic school wasn’t able to find a single editor who would publish her commentary. She resorted to posting it on a Huffington Post blog. Writing for VICE, Davide Mastracci was the only journalist to do a full take-down in a piece aptly titled, “That Study About Extremist Mosques in Canada Is Mostly Bullshit.”

Full report at:

https://this.org/2016/12/13/canadian-media-sucks-at-representing-muslims-in-canada/

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Southeast Asia

 

UNDER NAJIB’S WATCH, MALAYSIA JOINS BRUNEI & INDONESIA AS REGION’S WORST VIOLATORS OF RIGHTS, RELIGIOUS FREEDOM

December 14, 2016

MUSLIM-MAJORITY Brunei, Malaysia, and Indonesia have been listed as the region’s worst freedom of thought defenders in a 2016 report released by the International Humanist Ethical Union (IHEU).

The Freedom of Thought Report published on Tuesday rated the three as countries where “grave violations” of rights and the treatment of the non-religious occur. “Grave violations” is the last on a list of five categories, and is the worst rating to be given to the countries surveyed. The other categories are “free and equal”, followed by “mostly equal”; “systemic discrimination”; and “severe discrimination”.

The report noted that both Brunei and Malaysia have threatened the death sentence for apostasy, while Indonesia enforces lengthy prison terms for those convicted of “criticising” religion.

Brunei is found to be declining in the report’s rankings, following its gradual implementation of a new Sharia penal code and the support for the death penalty for apostates by the country’s Grand Mufti.

Brunei’s new Sharia penal code, which was adopted in 2013, has been “deeply damaging” toward the right to freedom of thought in the country and contains a range of provisions that restrict the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion, the report said.

The IHEU cited as examples harsh penalties for Muslim men who failed to perform Friday prayers or those who did not observe Ramadan, and expanded restrictions on the rights of individuals or the freedom to express opinions about religious belief.

In fact, it noted, under the Sharia law, adherents are prohibited completely from speaking freely about religious belief, and non-belief.

“Future phases of the law will include more severe penalties, including the death penalty for blasphemy, mocking the Prophet Muhammad or verses of the Quran and Hadith, or declaring oneself a prophet or a non-Muslim,” the report noted.

Articles 213, 214 and 215 of the revised penal code, the report pointed out, criminalises printing, disseminating, importing, broadcasting, and distributing of publications deemed contrary to Sharia by Muslims and non-Muslims.

Non-Muslims in Brunei are also barred from uttering the word ‘Allah’, the Arabic word for God, even though Bruneian Christians use the term to describe their God.

In Malaysia, the report found the rights of the non-religious to be on the decline, including freedom of thought and expression, which it says are under “serious assault”.

Although it has yet to be fully enforced and despite contradicting the Federal Constitution, the Kelantan and Terengganu state governments passed hudud enactments on corporal and capital punishments in 1993 and 2002, respectively, which among others made apostasy an offence punishable by death, the report claimed.

“Despite their long-standing nature, no one has been convicted under these Sharia laws and, according to a 1993 statement by the Attorney General, the rulings could not be enforced without a constitutional amendment,” it said.

The Constitution defines all ethnic Malays as Muslim and severely restricts what kind of Islam may be practiced in the country, the report noted.

“This effectively prohibits the conversion of Muslims, since Sharia courts seldom grant such requests and can impose penalties (such as enforced “rehabilitation”) on “apostates”.”

Similar to Brunei, Malaysia’s government has also banned on the use of the word “Allah” by non-Muslims in Malay-language Bibles and other Christian publications in the peninsular following a court ruling upheld on October 2014.

“The full scope of the ‘ban’ on the use of ‘Allah’ by non-Muslims remains unclear, with some officials saying it is limited to the Catholic Herald, which was the subject of the case,” the report on Malaysia said.

“… however the precedent and basis of the judgment appear to have wider implications. The case has proved a high-profile, ongoing source of tension between religious communities.”

In the case of Indonesia, home to world’s largest Muslim population, the report said the country has shown some “renewed hope for reform” under newly elected president Joko “Jokowi” Widodo.

However, it added, the country’s atheists and the non-religious still remain socially marginalised and legally unrecognised.

“Persons who do not identify with one of the six official religions, including people with no religion, continue to experience official discrimination,”

“This discrimination occurs often in the context of civil registration of marriages and births and other situation involving family law,” the report said, noting that citizens must be followers of Islam, Catholicism, Protestantism, Confucianism, Buddhism, or Hinduism.

In recent weeks, Indonesia’s capital city has been the scene of mass protests by conservative Muslims calling on prosecution of Jakarta’s Christian governor  Basuki “Ahok” Tjahaja Purnama who is faced with blasphemy allegations.

Ahok sparked controversy after he reportedly joked to an audience about a passage in the Quran that could be interpreted as prohibiting Muslims from accepting non-Muslims as leaders.

Under Indonesia’s blasphemy laws, “Ahok” who is under investigation over the incident, could face up to five years in prison.

Already in its fifth annual edition, the report which comprises annual submissions from experts and relevant stakeholders, records discrimination and persecution against humanists, atheists, and the non-religious, with a country-by-country assessment.

However, this is the first time the report has been published online with interactive pages for every country in the world.

President of the IHEU, Andrew Copson, said the online publication was a “tremendous development” for the annual report which comes at a “crucial juncture” in world affairs.

“… the rights and equality of the non-religious are under threat and there is an upsurge in the suppression of humanist values more broadly,” he said in a statement.

“Serious damage is being done to the brand of democracy, to secularism, and there are new threats to all our liberties.”

http://www.malaysia-chronicle.com/under-najibs-watch-malaysia-joins-brunei-indonesia-as-regions-worst-violators-of-rights-religious-freedom/

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Minister: Islam never encourages extremism

December 14, 2016

LAWAS: Muslims here, particularly the youths, must never allow themselves to be manipulated by extremists or terrorists, reminds Second Resource Planning and Environment Minister Datuk Amar Awang Tengah Ali Hasan.

He acknowledged that there were several Malaysians who had been identified as having joined certain militant groups, which claimed to be fighting in the name of Islam.

“Islam never, ever encourages terrorism. These militant groups are actually abusing the name of Islam, causing many people to have a very negative perception on the religion and its followers.

“This could only be changed when the Muslims themselves adhere strictly to the true teachings of Islam,” he said at the district-level Maulidur Rasul celebration at Lawas Public Park yesterday. His wife Datin Amar Datuk Dayang Morliah Datuk Awang Daud, Lawas District Officer Hussaini Hakim and Parti Pesaka Bumiputera Bersatu PBB Bukit Sari deputy chairman Awangku Jinal Pengiran Jawa were also present.

Awang Tengah, who is Bukit Sari assemblyman, also called upon parents to keep close watch on their children to avoid them from getting involved in ill activities such as drug abuse.

“It is the responsibility of all Muslims to uphold the good name of Islam – a religion of peace that rejects terrorism. Rather, Islam encourages its faithful to lead a holy and humble life, as well as to promote goodwill and respect others.

Full report at:

http://www.theborneopost.com/2016/12/14/minister-islam-never-encourages-extremism/

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Malaysia crowns new youthful king: A devout Muslim who loves extreme sports

Dec 13, 2016

A 47-year-old sultan, known as a devout Muslim who loves extreme sports and four-wheel drive vehicles, became Malaysia’s 15th king on Tuesday, one of the youngest constitutional monarchs in the Southeast Asian nation’s history.

British-educated Sultan Muhammad V took his oath of office in a nationally televised ceremony attended by hundreds of dignitaries at a cavernous hall in Malaysia’s federal palace.

Under a unique system maintained since Malaysia’s independence from Britain in 1957, nine hereditary state rulers take turns as the country’s king for five-year terms.

The monarch’s role is largely ceremonial, since administrative power is vested in the prime minister and Parliament. But he is highly regarded, particularly among the ethnic Malay Muslim majority, as the supreme upholder of Malay tradition and symbolic head of Islam.

Garbed in cream regalia, Sultan Muhammad V was sworn in after inspecting a military honor guard and receiving a 21-gun salute at Parliament.

The king’s roles include appointing Cabinet ministers and senior judges on the advice of the prime minister. He also appoints top Islamic clerics and is considered the highest-ranking figure in the armed forces.

Full report at:

http://www.hindustantimes.com/world-news/malaysia-crowns-new-youthful-king-a-devout-muslim-who-loves-extreme-sports/story-HGxk3o682wl2ikqTPHsWYL.html

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On The Little-Known Hui Muslims of Rural China

DECEMBER 13, 2016

S.R. Praveen

Chinese film Knife in the Clear Water, screened in the International Competition category at the 21st International Film Festival of Kerala, was one of those films in which opinions among delegates were sharply divided. While there were quite a few who slept through it, several others hailed it as one of the most touching films they have seen this year.

Life in mountains

In his debut work, Wang Xuebo shines light on a little known community in rural China — the Hui, a group of Muslims who live in the remote mountains of Ningxia province. He takes us inside a farmer’s house, which is in mourning, following the death of a woman. Her son puts forward a suggestion to his father, which puts him under further emotional burden — the slaughter of their only bull for the feast to be held on the 40th day of her passing.

He is evidently sad about parting with the bull, almost as dear to him as his wife. The old man’s dilemma in slaughtering the bull, which has served him well for years in ploughing the unyielding land, becomes the thread around which is woven the pathetic living conditions of the Muslim community in the mountains. Government services are virtually non-existent, which is effectively brought out in their struggles to get enough drinking water.

Guo Xiaodong, the editor of the film is attending the IFFK, as the director is busy shooting his next. According to him, the government was supportive of the film, which does not portray a very pretty picture of the state of things.

Full report at:

http://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Thiruvananthapuram/On-the-little-known-Hui-Muslims-of-rural-China/article16801457.ece

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Indonesia looks to Islamic schools to spur Sharia banking

December 14, 2016

JAKARTA -- Donna has been in the Islamic banking industry for only four months, but the thought of going back to work for a conventional bank has already crossed his mind.

"It is supposed to be easy because the people are mostly Muslims, but Islamic banks don't have the loan schemes that conventional banks have, which are more convenient for customers' businesses," he said.

As a credit marketing staff member, Donna had already been warned by former colleagues that jumping ship to an Islamic bank would not be easy. He had prepared himself for some hard work, but did not anticipate just how hard it would be.

"At the conventional bank, I used to be able to book around 3 billion rupiah ($222,000) of credit a month. At the Islamic bank, the most I can get is 1 billion rupiah," he said.

Since the establishment of the first Islamic bank in Indonesia in 1991, the Sharia (Islamic law) banking industry has seen fairly steady growth, but has been unable to capitalize fully on the potential of a market of more than 200 million Muslims.

In 2015 the industry recorded its lowest ever asset growth, of 8.8%, due to a national economic slowdown. The industry has picked up pace since July, but is still lagging well behind its conventional counterpart.

Islam prohibits usury and Islamic banks therefore operate on the basis of profit and loss sharing, instead of conventional banking's interest-charging model, which many customers tend to prefer for its element of certainty.

Weak market share

The industry failed to achieve a target market share of 5% by the end of 2008, reaching less than half of that level. Eight years later the target is still 5%, but the actual LEVEL OF MARKET share in July was just 4.86%. This is a far cry from the market share of over 20% boasted by the Islamic banking industry in neighboring Malaysia.

In an effort to boost the industry, Bank Indonesia, the central bank, has decided to work with Islamic boarding schools, known as pesantren, which it hopes will be the "driver of the Islamic economy." Anwar Basori, Bank Indonesia's head of Islamic Finance and Economy, said there is a lot of potential in the 27,000 pesantren, which have about 3.6 million students.

Slow take-up, lack of products and poor service are holding back the sector

ARDI WIRDANA, Contributing writer

The central bank said it is finalizing a roadmap for the program under which it will work with the Religious Affairs Ministry to help the business units of pesantren to become financially independent. The schools operate in various business areas, including mini-markets and cattle farms, and provide extracurricular entrepreneurship and Islamic finance education to students. 

"The aim is to help them become financially independent. If the pesantren [are] independent, and their students are independent, their transactions will be Sharia [compliant]. If this goes well, automatically it will increase the volume of Sharia economic transactions," Anwar said. The Sharia banking introduction lessons would be extracurricular, he said, so as not to meddle with the pesantren curriculum.

The program has been on the central bank's agenda since 2014, but time was needed for discussion and research, Anwar said, adding that the roadmap would be implemented in early 2017, starting with a pilot project. If successful, efforts would be made to replicate the model across the country.

When the program is properly underway, Bank Indonesia will involve universities and Islamic banks, "for education, not promotion," Anwar said.

Islamic banks have welcomed the plan. "Not only will it introduce Islamic banking to students but it will also allow us to be closer to pesantren in order to build a Sharia finance ecosystem that is needed," said Agus Sudiarto, chairman of the Indonesian Sharia Banks Association.

Support has also come from alumni of pesantren, but some have pointed out that the central bank needs to pay special attention to technical details to make the plan effective.

"The timing, for example, will be important. The best time to provide education on Islamic finance is just before graduation -- the time when the students receive a lot of debriefing and lessons about how to prepare themselves for life after pesantren," said entrepreneur Ipunk Purwanto, a graduate of Gontor School. Gontor is regarded by many as the leading pesantren for instilling Islamic character and entrepreneurship.

Gontor, Ipunk said, does not allow its students to visit banks or automatic teller machines, preferring to force them to learn to manage the cash allowances they receive from their families. Therefore, he said, learning about Islamic banking too early might be ineffective because students might find it difficult to relate to the concept. 

Full report at:

http://asia.nikkei.com/Politics-Economy/Policy-Politics/Indonesia-looks-to-Islamic-schools-to-spur-Sharia-banking

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Pluralism, tolerance promoted in Bandung

December 13 2016

More than 20,000 people attending an event to celebrate the Prophet Muhammad’s birthday in Bandung, West Java, have been asked to respect diversity and tolerance.

The event on Monday was held on the heels of an incident that saw dozens of Islamic hard-liners force Christians to abruptly end a Christmas service in West Java’s provincial capital.

The event, which was held at Gasibu Square, also commemorated the 26th anniversary of the Daarut Tauhid pesantren (Islamic boarding school) led by prominent cleric Abdullah “Gym” Gymnastiar.

Entitled “Pesantren for NKRI (Unitary State of the Republic of Indonesia)”, the event was also attended by National Police chief Gen. Tito Karnavian, Siliwangi military commander Maj. Gen. Muhammad Herindra, West Java Governor Ahmad Heryawan, West Java Police chief Insp. Gen. Bambang Waskito, Indonesian Ulema and Ummah Forum (FUUI) chairman Athian Ali and Bandung Mayor Ridwan Kamil.

“Islam is the religion with the spirit of rahmatan lil alamin [a blessing for the universe]. [Islam does not] discriminate based on ethnicity, religion or race,” Tito said.

He mentioned tensions created by recent large-scale rallies centering on the demand to prosecute Jakarta Governor Basuki “Ahok” Tjahaja Purnama, who is currently campaigning for reelection, over blasphemy charges.

“I hope the atmosphere will cool down after the heated tensions,” the police general said.

Similarly, Athian asked the audience to respect pluralism and uphold tolerance.

“God has created the options, so we have to respect people’s choices. We must not force people to believe in our religion,” he said, adding that there would be no more Islamic organizations in Bandung that disperse religious activities of other religions. Last week, Islamic hardliners forcefully entered the Sasana Budaya Ganesha (Sabuga) auditorium, where a Christmas service was being held.

The protesters ordered the service to be stopped, saying the public facility should not have been used for religious activities.

Observers have pointed out that such acts are on the rise, indicating growing intolerance by hard-line Muslims toward people of other faiths.

Ridwan has apologized over the incident, reiterating that any religious group should be allowed to hold religious activities in public facilities like Sabuga.

Bandung Police chief Sr. Comr. Winarto said the police were yet to charge the protesters who had forcefully dispersed the Christmas service, but vowed police would ensure security in the city, especially ahead of Christmas and New Year.

Full report at:

http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2016/12/13/pluralism-tolerance-promoted-bandung.html

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Mideast

 

US cancels weapons transfers to Saudi over Yemen campaign

Dec 14, 2016

The White House has blocked the transfer of precision munitions to ally Saudi Arabia, amid anger about the civilian death toll from the kingdom's bombing campaign in Yemen.

“We have made clear that US security cooperation is not a blank check,” a senior administration official told AFP, echoing long-standing concerns about how Riyadh is prosecuting its war against Houthi rebels.

“Consequently, we have decided to not move forward with some foreign military sales (FMS) cases for munitions,” the source said.

“This reflects our continued, strong concerns with the flaws in the coalition's targeting practices and overall prosecution of the air campaign in Yemen.”

Other US sources confirmed the proposed sale was of precision guided munitions made by US firm Raytheon.

The decision brings a simmering division between the already troubled allies into public.

The White House has long struggled to balance its unease over the prosecution of the Saudi campaign and risking a broader feud with a key Middle Eastern partner.

The campaign has been closely linked to young Prince Mohammad bin Salman, who has rapidly emerged as a leading player in Riyadh.

The war in Yemen has also coincided with the Obama administration's assiduous courting of Saudi support for the nuclear deal with Iran.

Since then ties have been further strained by Congress's recent passage of a bill allowing 9/11 victims to sue Saudi Arabia.

Tipping point

Obama vetoed the bill, only to have his veto overridden for the first time in his presidency.

But the tipping point for Washington's ire over Yemen appears to have been an October attack on a Yemeni funeral home that killed more than 140 people.

After that attack the US announced a review to ensure “support for the Saudi-led Coalition is consistent with our foreign policy goals and values.”

A United Nations panel has since found that “double-tap” strike was a violation of international humanitarian law, Experts told the UN Security Council in a report obtained by AFP that it continues to investigate whether the second air strike directly harmed medical personnel in what could amount to war crimes.

US officials are at pains to point out that today American involvement is limited.

“As of today our assistance continues. It's been very limited, consisting of refueling and limited advice on how to conduct strikes,” said Pentagon spokesman Navy Captain Jeff Davis.

A senior US administration official said that additional assistance could now focus on “training for the Saudi Air Force” to address targeting issues.

Saudi Arabia's government and Raytheon had no immediate comment on the US announcement.

Major General Ahmed Assiri, a spokesman for the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen told AFP “we don't comment on anonymous statements.”

In March 2015, the Saudi-led coalition launched air strikes against Houthi rebels and their allies after the rebels overran much of Yemen.

Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have called on Washington, London and Paris to stop their deliveries of bombs and other weapons to Riyadh because of concerns over civilian casualties.

More than 7,000 people have been killed in the conflict, mostly civilians, according to the United Nations.

http://www.dawn.com/news/1302135/us-cancels-weapons-transfers-to-saudi-over-yemen-campaign

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Iran to work on N-powered boats after US ‘violation’ of deal

Dec 14, 2016

BEIRUT: Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani ordered scientists on Tuesday to start developing systems for nuclear-powered boats, in reaction to what he called the United States’ violation of a global atomic deal.

The announcement marked Iran’s first concrete response to a US Congress decision last month to extend legislation making it easier for Washington to reimpose sanctions on Tehran.

Rouhani described the technology as a “nuclear propeller to be used in marine transportation,” but did not say whether that meant just ships or possibly also submarines. Iran said in 2012 that it was working on its first nuclear-powered sub. His words will stoke tensions with Washington, already heightened by comments from US president-elect Donald Trump who has vowed to scrap the deal, under which Iran agreed to curb its nuclear activities in exchange for lifted sanctions.

Full report at:

http://www.dawn.com/news/1302212/iran-to-work-on-n-powered-boats-after-us-violation-of-deal

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Iran to build nuclear marine propulsion after US 'violation' of deal

December 13, 2016,

Iran's President Hassan Rouhani ordered on Tuesday the head of Atomic Energy Organisation of Iran to start planning the development of nuclear marine propulsion in reaction to what he called the United States' violation of the nuclear deal.

Full report at:

http://nation.com.pk/international/13-Dec-2016/iran-to-build-nuclear-marine-propulsion-after-us-violation-of-deal

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Turkey negotiating with Russia to evacuate rebels, civilians from Aleppo: official

December 13, 2016

Turkey is negotiating with Russia to open a corridor to evacuate Syrian rebel fighters and civilians from the remaining opposition-held districts of Aleppo, but no agreement has yet been reached, a senior Turkish official told Reuters.

Rebel defenses in Aleppo collapsed on Monday, leading to a broad advance by the Syrian army across more than half of the remaining insurgent pocket in the city and a retreat of opposition fighters to a few districts.

"Efforts are still underway to open a corridor for the rebels and civilians in Aleppo, and evacuate them from the region. There has been no agreement on this issue yet," the Turkish official said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Full report at:

http://nation.com.pk/international/13-Dec-2016/turkey-negotiating-with-russia-to-evacuate-rebels-civilians-from-aleppo-official

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Sectarian incitement main threat to Muslim world security: Larijani

Dec 13, 2016

Iranian Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani has warned that efforts aimed at creating sectarian conflicts pose the main threat to the Muslim world.

“The biggest threat to the security and stability of the Muslim world is to fuel religious differences and provoke conflicts among Muslims,” Larijani said in a meeting with the head of the Iraqi National Alliance (INA), Ammar al-Hakim, in Tehran on Tuesday.

He added that Iraq enjoys an IMPORTANT position in the Middle East and called for collective efforts to help the war-stricken country solve its problems.

“The Islamic Republic of Iran has always had firm relations with regional countries and welcomes any [bid to] expand ties with neighbors and regional countries,” the top Iranian parliamentarian said.

He emphasized that Iran would continue to support the Iraqi government and nation in all areas.

Larijani further said the Iraqi National Alliance plays a leading role in building confidence and reinforcing unity and rapport among different Iraqi groups.

He hailed the Iraqi parliament’s recent recognition of the Shia-majority Popular Mobilization Units (PMU), known as Hashd al-Sha’abi, as a subdivision of the country’s armed forces, saying the move would greatly help PROMOTE national stability and security in Iraq.

The Iraqi parliament on November 26 approved a law to give full legal status to PMU fighters, who have joined with government forces in counter-terrorism operations against Daesh Takfiri militants across the country.

The legislation, tabled by the INA, recognizes Hashd al-Sha’abi as part of the national armed forces, places the volunteer fighters under the command of Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, and grants them the right to receive salaries and pensions just like the regular army and police.

Iran, Iraq must take steps to improve relations: Hakim

Hakim, for his part, said Iran and Iraq must take steps to further develop cordial relations given their broad cultural and religious commonalities and similar political and economic interests.

The INA head added that the Iraqi parliament’s vote on Hashd al-Sha'abi was an IMPORTANT step in promoting the participation of the Iraqis in ensuring the security of their country.

Hakim, who has served as the head of the INA, comprising Shia political parties, since September, held talks with senior Iranian officials, including President Hassan Rouhani, Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and Secretary of the Supreme National Security Council (SNSC) Ali Shamkhani.

Full report at:

http://www.presstv.ir/Detail/2016/12/13/497755/Iran-Iraq-Ali-Larijani-Iraqi-National-Alliance-Ammar-alHakim-Hashd-alShaabi

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Iran, South Africa sign MoU to boost defense, military ties

Dec 13, 2016

Iran and South Africa have signed a memorandum of understanding to boost defense and military cooperation and PROMOTE regional and international peace and stability.

The agreement was signed by Iranian Defense Minister Brigadier General Hossein Dehqan and South African Minister of Defense and Military Veterans Nosiviwe Noluthando Mapisa-Nqakula in Pretoria on Tuesday.

Speaking to reporters after the signing of the MoU, the ministers said the two countries had agreed to make efforts to PROMOTE regional and international peace, stability and security and engage in a firm and all-out campaign against terrorism.

According to the agreement, the two countries would also bolster cooperation in the fields of marine security and organized crimes.

Heading a high-ranking defense-military delegation, Dehqan arrived in Pretoria on Tuesday at the official invitation of his South African counterpart. He is the first Iranian defense minister to visit South Africa after the victory of the Islamic Revolution in 1979.

Certain regional states’ support for terrorism regrettable: Dehqan

Meanwhile, in his meeting with the South African minister of defense and military veterans, Dehqan expressed regret that some regional countries were supporting terrorism, saying the patronage has intensified war and crisis in the region.

The Iranian defense minister said all countries across the world must cooperate to root out terrorism.

Full report at:

http://www.presstv.ir/Detail/2016/12/13/497740/Iran-South-Africa-Hossein-Dehqan-Nosiviwe-Noluthando-MapisaNqakula-MoU-defense-military

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Britain guilty of war crimes over Saudi arms sales: Yemeni PM

Dec 14, 2016

Yemen’s new Prime Minister Abdulaziz bin Habtoor says Britain is guilty of war crimes over its arms SALE to Saudi Arabia.

“They have sold cluster bombs to Saudi Arabia. They know the Saudis are going to drop them on Yemen [...] in Sa'ada and in Sana'a and other provinces,” said Habtoor on Tuesday during an interview with Sky News.

Multiple rights groups, including Amnesty International and Human Rights WATCH, have on various occasions reported the use of illegal cluster bombs by the kingdom in Yemen.

"I don't think they are guilty of war crimes, I believe so. They are participating in the bombing of Yemeni people," added Habtoor (seen below).

Meanwhile, the US canceled the transfer of some arms to Saudi Arabia, amid worldwide criticism about civilian deaths and destruction from the Saudi military aggression in Yemen.

At least 11,400 people have died as the result of the Saudi campaign in the kingdom’s impoverished neighbor since March 2015, according to the latest tally by a Yemeni monitoring group.

Full report at:

http://www.presstv.ir/Detail/2016/12/14/497783/yemen-saudi-uk-cluster-bombs

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No new chapters on Turkey’s accession bid: EU

Dec 13, 2016

The European Union says it will not take up further policy areas - also called "chapters" - needed for Turkey’s MEMBERSHIP of the bloc due to concerns over the Ankara government’s crackdown following an abortive military coup in July.

"Under the currently prevailing circumstances, no new chapters are considered for opening,” the presidency of the Council of the EU said in a statement released on Tuesday.

The EU has opened 16 out of the 35 chapters required for Turkey to join the 28-nation bloc, but only one of them has so far been concluded.

Expediting accession talks are part of a DEAL struck between Turkey and the EU in March to limit the flow of refugees to Europe.

Under the agreement, Turkey vowed to back rejected asylum seekers and patrol borders. In return, Brussels pledged financial aid, visa-free travel for Turkish nationals and progress in Turkey’s long-stalled EU MEMBERSHIP talks. The bloc also promised to open new chapters in Turkey's membership bid at an "accelerated pace."

On Monday, however, Austria demanded a freeze on Turkey’s accession talks, with Foreign Minister Sebastian Kurz saying "it is wrong to continue accession negotiations as if nothing negative has happened in Turkey."

In a relevant development on Tuesday, EU leaders met in Brussels to discuss issues concerning Turkey.

Full report at:

http://www.presstv.ir/Detail/2016/12/13/497764/EU-Turkey-Ankara

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Africa

 

Anwar-Ul Islam advises leaders on community service

December 14, 2016

Rasheed Bisiriyu

All elected and appointed leaders have been advised to imbibe the spirit of selfless service, humility and commitment to community service as exhibited by the leader of the Muslims, Prophet Muhammad.

The newly-elected President of the Anwar-Ul Islam Movement of Nigeria, Alhaji Mubasir Ojelade, stated this in his Maolud Nabiyy message on Monday, a day dedicated to mark the birth of Prophet Muhammad.

He spoke in Lagos at the inaugural Du’ah and lecture of the society, saying, “As Muslims and Nigerians celebrate Maolud Nabiyy, Muslims should understand their religion; be God-fearing and truly guided by the Quran so as to avoid crises such as that which plagued the Anwar-Ul Islam for decades.

“Our leaders need to imbibe the traits of selfless service, humility and commitment to community service from Prophet Muhammad.”

Although Ojelade commended President Muhammadu Buhari for the fight against insurgency and corruption, he urged him to work more on the nation’s economy.

He stressed the need for Buhari to tinker with his economic strategy in order to improve the living standards of the people.

Ojelade warned that the grim situation of the economy could erode the moderate gains already achieved.

Using the analogy of a football match where the coach could make substitutions when the star players were underperforming, Ojelade urged the President to look at his cabinet to effect necessary changes as the economy was in a dire strait.

He said Nigerians were determined to give the government a chance to get it right and cited the acceptance of the hike in fuel price and increase in electricity tariff as examples of efforts to support the government.

He expressed optimism that the nation could overcome its “pressing and daunting economic challenges just as the Anwar-Ul Islam has surmounted its own challenges.”

Ojelade recalled that the society was embroiled in a leadership crisis for about seven years before resolving it some months ago.

Copyright PUNCH.

All rights reserved. This material, and other digital content on this website, may not be reproduced, published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed in whole or in part without prior express written permission from PUNCH.

http://punchng.com/anwar-ul-islam-advises-leaders-community-service/

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Algeria: Iranian Minister of Culture Calls for Strengthening of Relations Between Iran, Algeria

13 DECEMBER 2016

TEHERAN — The Iranian minister of Culture and Islamic Guidance Reza Salehi Amiri underlined Monday, in Teheran (Iran), the importance to strengthen and expand cooperation between Algeria and Iran in the cultural field especially, since the will between the two parties already exists.

In an audience he granted to the minister of Culture Azzeddine Mihoubi, who is on a working visit to Iran as part of the Algerian cultural week, Reza Salehi Amiri said that it is necessary to expand dialogue between the two parties to define the areas of cooperation such as books, publishing, exhibitions and cinema.

"Culture allows deepening ties between the two people. For that, we will work in the long term to promote cooperation to a strategic level," said the Iranian minister.

For his part, the Algerian minister of culture Azeddine Mihoubi highlighted the importance to work as part of a roadmap to strengthen cultural cooperation through the conclusion of conventions in various areas such as cinema, libraries, fine arts, restoration of manuscripts and the organization of specialized exhibitions and others, underlining the role of culture in bringing people together.

Full report at:

http://allafrica.com/stories/201612130992.html

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West African leaders fail to convince Gambia president to peacefully leave power

Dec 14, 2016

West African regional leaders have failed to convince Gambia’s President Yahya Jammeh, who has lost and rejected the results of a recent presidential election, to allow power transition.

Political upheaval erupted in Gambia after the presidential election on December 1, when opposition leader Adama Barrow was declared the winner. Incumbent Jammeh, who has ruled Gambia for 22 years and was seeking re-election, first conceded defeat but then backtracked, calling for a re-vote.

Gambian military forces, professing loyalty to the president, seized the headquarters of the national elections commission on Tuesday and blocked staffers from entering the office.

Leaders from a regional bloc known as the Economic Community of West African States, or ECOWAS, traveled to Gambia in a failed attempt to strike a DEAL with the president to make him leave power.

“It is not time for a deal. It is not something that can happen in one day. It is something that we have to work on,” said Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, who led the ECOWAS delegation.

The regional leaders will meet again on Saturday, in the Nigerian capital of Abuja, to further seek a solution to the crisis.

The military option

ECOWAS president Marcel Alain de Souza warned on Tuesday that military intervention could be considered if the Gambian president avoided to step down.

Head of the president’s party, the Alliance for Patriotic Reorientation and Construction, has filed a petition with Gambia’s Supreme Court demanding a fresh vote with a re-validated voter registry.

Full report at:

http://www.presstv.ir/Detail/2016/12/14/497798/Gambia-ECOWAS-Jammeh-Barrow-contested-election

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