New Age Islam
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Islamic World News ( 2 Jul 2015, NewAgeIslam.Com)

Lucknow Shias Mediate Between Saudi Arabia and Israel







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India

Lucknow Shias Mediate Between Saudi Arabia and Israel

Marking Madrasa Students As ‘Out-Of-School’ Kids Not Anti-Muslim: Maharashtra Minister

Tech and Ramzan: Gen Y's Posers Baffle Clerics

Schools within Madrasas in Kerala, No Board for Madrasas in Gujarat

Pakistani convicted of Republic day Jammu blasts

KCR Government Showers Sops on Muslims for Ramzan

Row over audio clip: Muslims seek action against Tapi SP M K Nayak’s derogatory remarks

Atali Communal Violence: Muslims Make Plans to Leave Homes, Say No End to Violence

China proposes talks with India on Lakhvi issue

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North America

Saudi Arabia Steps Up Funding For Canadian Islamic Schools – Leaked Docs

A Muslim Mayor of London Would 'Send Message to the Haters': One of the Labour Candidates

American Muslims Part of National Fabric

Ramadan fasting tips: A Muslim dietitian and personal trainer weighs in

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Arab World

ISIL Plundering Syrian, Iraqi Heritage Sites On 'Industrial Scale'

ISIS Emir of Suicide Bombers Killed In Airstrikes Last Month

Egypt Leading ‘Vicious War on Terror’; 23 Radicals Slain

Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood member killed in custody

Syrian Islamist insurgents launch battle to seize government-held Aleppo

Rival militants don orange outfits to kill alleged ISIS fighters

Iraqi forces say most of Baiji town recaptured from ISIS

Report: Saudi king censors TV host, pro-Brotherhood scholar

Gulf ministers vow stand against ISIS mosque attacks

Syrian army bombards rebels in Aleppo: Monitor

Cameron wants lawmakers to weigh U.K. air strikes against ISIS in Syria

HRW slams US for resuming military aid to Bahrain

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Africa

Boko Haram Militants Attack Villages in Nigeria: Close to 150 Dead

Al-Shabab Militants Capture 3 Somali Towns: Officials

The Islamic State is coming for North Africa

Borno, Yobe forum seeks probe of Boko Haram, armed forces

We don’t want Boko Haram members in Anambra – Ohaneze tells Buhari

Boko Haram: Osinbajo visits Adamawa, says insurgents will be defeated

Boko Haram Weapons and Recruitment Leader Arrested In Chad

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Southeast Asia

Muslim Group Launches Anti-LGBT Campaign against Rainbow Facebook Profile Photos

Get an Independent to Verify WSJ Report on Najib, Putrajaya Told

A Malay Muslim joins New York gay parade

M’sians baulk at more Bangladeshi working here

National scene: RI ‘too religious’ for gay marriage

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Pakistan

Minister for Spreading Islam’s Message of Peace, Brotherhood

Terrorism Incidents Drop By 64pc In KP: SAW Report

Military operation in Khyber ends successfully

Significant economic progress within Pakistan’s reach, says IMF

Imran takes Punjab govt to task over nephews' arrest

Irregularities don’t prove rigging, says PML-N counsel

Police save Christian couple from mob

Pak-Afghan anti-terror cooperation continuing

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South Asia

12 Qaeda Militants Held In Bangladesh, Weapons Found

Bangladesh police arrest 'top Qaeda militant'

Afghanistan summons Pak envoy over border clash

Hajj expenses reduced by $10 million this year

Pakistani envoy summoned over cross-border shelling

Indian Govt's move to prevent cattle trafficking starves Bangladesh of beef

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Mideast

Political Analyst Describes Iran as Iraq, Syria's Efficient Supporter in Fight against ISIL

Ankara Concerned About New Refugee Influx after ISIL Gains

Car Bomb Explodes Near Yemeni Mosque in Downtown Sanaa

Palestinian Authority arrests 100 Hamas members in West Bank

Chinese restaurant in Turkey attacked after diplomatic spat

Turkey fortifies Syria border, PM says no incursion

China sees ‘high possibility’ of Iran nuclear deal

Russia confident about conclusion of Iran nuclear deal

Road Minister: Tehran, Paris Agree to Renovate Iran's Air Fleet

Supreme Leader Raps Hegemonic Powers' Media Silence on Yemen, Gaza, Lebanon

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Europe

French Rabbi Hits the Road to Build Jewish-Muslim Ties

Cash-strapped U.N. food agency reduces help to Syrian refugees

Global Terror: France’s Islamic problem

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau

URL: http://www.newageislam.com/islamic-world-news/new-age-islam-news-bureau/lucknow-shias-mediate-between-saudi-arabia-and-israel/d/103752

 

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India

 

Lucknow Shias Mediate Between Saudi Arabia and Israel

Indrani Bagchi,

Jul 3, 2015

NEW DELHI: In May, Lucknow played host to an unusual meeting — a high level track-2 interaction between Israel and Saudi Arabia attended by prominent Shia intellectuals in India.

The Raja of Mahmudabad, well-known Shia intellectual in Lucknow and erstwhile royalty and his sons were part of a meeting between an Israeli think tank, Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs and a Saudi delegation from the Middle East Center for Strategic and Legal Studies, in Jeddah.

Interestingly, the Israeli team was led by Dore Gold, who has just been named Israel's new foreign secretary. The Saudi delegation was led by Maj Gen(retd) Dr Anwar Majed Eshki, according to Shimon Shapira, one of the members of the Israeli delegation who wrote a blog on the meeting, calling it "extraordinary".

"Our hosts were the leaders of the Shiite community in Lucknow, the Raja of Mahmudabad Amir Khan, his son Ali Khan, intellectuals, and teachers of the local madrassa. It was an extraordinary meeting of Jews from Jerusalem, Saudi Sunnis from Mecca and Medina, and Indian Shiites from Lucknow," Shapira wrote, describing the meeting as a "delicate dialogue with restrained tension."

However, Ali Khan Mahmudabad who was at the meeting denied that they had "hosted" the meeting. In his own blog on Huffington Post, Ali Khan said it was organized by a New Delhi think tank, and it was not until they actually met that he realized it was a meeting between Israelis and Saudis. "Initially, those of us invited to this half-day discussion were not informed of the composition of the delegations except that the visitors were interested in finding out more about the 'syncretic culture' of the region. Amongst those invited from Lucknow were a university professor, a representative of a prominent cleric, some businessmen, my father, brother and I. When we gathered, it quickly transpired that the visitors were high-ranking ex-military officials."

Even more interesting, this meeting was reportedly one of five bilateral meetings held by Israeli and Saudi representatives, which a diplomat confirmed to TOI was with the full blessing of the governments. The other meetings were reported to have been held in Italy and Czech Republic, covering almost an entire year. The last one was literally "out of the closet" when Gold and Eshki did a joint event at a US think tank, Council for Foreign Relations, where both countries said they believed Iran should be stopped.

Saudis and Israelis have made common cause against Iran. There was no official recognition of the Israel-Saudi meeting in Lucknow, but the government would certainly have been aware of it. India and Israel will be getting into a counter-terrorism and political dialogue at the official level next week.

In his blog Ali Khan observes, "With the potential of a nuclear agreement between Iran and the United States in June 2015, it was becoming increasingly clear that the delegation was visiting India in order to find out about public opinion amongst Shias for Iran and perhaps gauge what reaction there maybe amongst Indian Shias if something happened vis-a-vis Iran."

Israel and Saudis have been at daggers drawn for decades, with Saudi Arabia leading the regional political and diplomatic boycott of the Jewish state. But in recent years, the evolution of Iran as a regional power, complete with nuclear capability has affected both nations equally, which is about to intensify after a deal is struck between Iran and the world. There have been off-radar outreach between Riyadh and Jerusalem, as both sides make common cause in their opposition to Iran. Wikileaks, exposing 5 lakh Saudi documents reveals that students from the Arab nation actually visited the Israeli embassy in Washington DC and received a "diplomatic briefing" and got photographed with Israeli diplomats.

Summarizing the meeting, Shapira quotes the Raja as saying "all religious extremism in Islam in this era began with the disintegration of the Ottoman Empire and the creation of the Saudi Arabian kingdom. He contended that the Saudis supported Islamic movements that became extremist and violent over the years." To which Shapira says Dr Eshki, the chief Saudi guest, respectfully countered that as a devoted Muslim, he saw great importance in bridging the Islamic sects.

Later Shapira also goes on to describe one morning when the Sunnis and Shias put aside their religious differences to pray together.

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/Lucknow-Shias-mediate-between-Saudi-Arabia-and-Israel/articleshow/47919620.cms

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Marking Madrasa Students As ‘Out-Of-School’ Kids Not Anti-Muslim: Maharashtra Minister

Akshaya Mukul & Samrat Phadnis

Jul 3, 2015

KOLHAPUR/NEW DELHI: Maharashtra school education minister Vinod Tawde on Thursday defended the state government's decision to consider madrassa students as 'out-of-school' children and said the July 4 survey, to be held to count schoolchildren in Maharashtra, will not interfere with the operation of these institutes.

The state government has classified madrasas as "non-schools", inviting strong criticism from the Muslim community.

Explaining the government's stand, Tawde told TOI that Maharashtra is following the norms of the RTE Act. "The Act has set a national curriculum; institutions not following this curriculum will be considered as non-schools. We are not interfering with the operations of madrasas," he said.

He said the government will not curtail any grant or funding to madrasas as the state survey is not linked to any other objective. "Madrasas where the national curriculum is already being followed will not be considered as non-schools. However, the government will provide them a curriculum wherever there is none," he added.

Later, Tawde took to Twitter to clarify his stand. He tweeted, "Teaching of core subjects is as per RTE norms under which, children not taught under Nat'l Curriculum framework are considered out of school. Teaching of core subjects like sci, math alongside religion in Madarasas is aimed at betterment of students, & not to hurt religious feelings (sic)."

A statement from his office, which clarified that the state's move was not anti-Muslim, also said: "Vinod Tawde wants to bring subjects like Science, Social Science and Maths to the madrasas with no interference in their religious education."

But the Maharashtra government's decision runs counter to what the Union HRD ministry thinks about madrasas and the efforts being made to modernize and recognize these institutes.

"Even Vedic schools have been excluded from the RTE Act," one HRD official said, asking what the state would do to them. He said madrasas were not under the RTE Act so that they did not have to give 25% reservation mandated under the law. "Also, minorities have the freedom under the Constitution to have their own educational institutions," the official said. In case of Vedic schools, he said, it was found that just like madrasas, they do not fulfill many criteria expected from schools under the RTE Act.

Full report at:

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/Marking-madrassa-students-as-out-of-school-kids-not-anti-Muslim-Tawde/articleshow/47919336.cms

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Tech and Ramzan: Gen Y's Posers Baffle Clerics

Priyangi Agarwal

Jul 3, 2015

BAREILLY: With changing lifestyles, technology and religion have often met at the crossroad. This has been never more apparent than in the questions young Muslims are asking clerics on help lines during Ramazan.

"Should I delete the digital Quran that was forwarded to me on my mobile phone?" asks a 20-year-old. Another wants to know if he "can begin Roza by listening to the Azaan from a mosque on a radio set?" And then this gem: "Is it alright to play mobile or online games to pass the time when we observe Roza?"

Clerics say they have to move with the times and prepare themselves for such questions. "Though people from all backgrounds approach us, this Ramzaan we have been flooded with queries from youngsters, mostly about use of technology," said Mufti Mohammed Saleem Noori of the influential Dargah Ala Hazrat.

"Earlier people used to ask us whether Roza will be considered broken if one drinks water by mistake or if an injection is administered into the body. Now it is more about how to use smart phones, internet and other electronic devices," said Mufti Mohammed Jamil of the Dargah.

Full report at:

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/Tech-Ramzan-GenYs-posers-baffle-clerics/articleshow/47919296.cms

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Schools within madrasas in Kerala, no board for madrasas in Gujarat

July 3, 2015

The nature of madrasa education varies from state to state, with some making it the equivalent of mainstream education and some such as Gujarat and Maharashtra without a board to register its madrasas. Education being on the concurrent list, madrasas is in the domain of the state governments, officials in the HRD Ministry say.

Maharashtra: All private

Madrasas function as private institutions, either affiliated to Charity Commission or State Waqf Board, or independent. Most focus on religious teachings. Of the 1,889 madrasas with 1.5 Lakh students, 550 do teach maths, science and English and qualify for grants under a scheme started by the previous government. The new government’s latest declaration about madrasas not being schools unless they teach formal subjects such as English, maths and science comes ahead of a survey to count how many children are out of the formal education system.

Gujarat: No board

None of 150-odd major madrasas providing religious education are registered with the state government. “Among the two types of madrasas, those that provide religious education and those offering primary education, the former type does not require permission. Government permission is required and given only to madrasas that offer primary education,” said education minister Bhupendrasinh Chudasama.

Mufti Ahmed Devlavi, president of Board for Protection of Madrasas in Gujarat, said no madrasa is registered. Devalvi’s madrasa also runs an independent school up to class 12; this is affiliated with the HS board. He said the government a couple of years ago proposed a board but those running madrasas did not accept. Madrasas run mostly on charity. Devlavi said almost all madrasas teach English and maths, though not necessarily based on the state or central syllabus. Some also have arrangements for students who wish to take board exams privately.

Kerala: Parallel education

Madrasas in themselves impart only religious education, timing their classes so as not to coincide with regular schools. Simultaneously, a few madrasas have started running unaided schools under either CBSE or the state board, with classes after madrasa hours. Some have computer labs, funded under a central modernisation programme.

The state’s 12,000 madrasas are run by various groups, with 10,000 under Samastha Kerala Sunni Vidhyabhaysa Board. These have one Lakh teachers paid by various Masjid committees; they also benefit from charity. The board decides academic matters and conducts annual exams for students of classes 5, 7, 10 and 12.

Full report at:

http://indianexpress.com/article/india/india-others/schools-within-madrasas-in-kerala-no-board-for-madrasas-in-gujarat/

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Pakistani convicted of Republic day Jammu blasts

Jul 3, 2015

The Supreme Court on Thursday convicted a Pakistani national in the 1995 blasts in Maulana Azad Memorial Stadium in Jammu during Republic day function in which eight people were killed. The court set aside trial court order acquitting Ghulam Nabi Guide and directed the state to arrest him.

The blasts took place in the stadium near the dais where the then J&K governor KV Krishna Rao was addressing a gathering of about 40,000 people including high dignitaries, leaders of political parties and government officers.

A bench of Justices A K Sikri and U U Lalit held Guide guilty on the basis of his own statement made under now defunct Terrorist and Disruptive Activities (Prevention) Act confessing his involvement in the blasts.

The TADA court had acquitted him solely on the ground that the confessional statement was recorded in Hindi and not in Urdu, the mother tongue of the accused.

The court directed the state government to produce Guide before it to address the court on the sentence to be awarded to him. The convict had not taken the services of any lawyer to defend himself in SC and the court appointed an amicus curie for Guide.

"We, therefore, hold that from the confession, the involvement of accused Ghulam Nabi in entering into the conspiracy, execution and facilitation thereof is completely made out.

As held by this Court, the confession of an accused is a substantive piece of evidence and his conviction can be founded on such confession itself. We, therefore, hold him guilty of the offences with which he was charged," the bench said.

The court said that confessional statement recorded by the authority was in accordance with the statutory requirement. It said the language used as a means of communication between the confessing accused and the recording officer being Hindi or Hindustani is completely in conformity with the requirement of the rule.

Full report at:

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/Pakistani-convicted-of-Republic-day-blasts/articleshow/47919201.cms

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KCR Government Showers Sops on Muslims for Ramzan

03rd July 2015

HYDERABAD: A grand Iftar for 5,000 people in Nizam college grounds, honorarium for Imams and Moazzans and clothes for nearly two lakh Muslim families, all these are part of a slew of sops announced by the state government for Muslims for Ramzan.

Chief minister K Chandrasekhar Rao announced these sops worth Rs 26 crore to Muslims after a review meeting with his cabinet colleagues.

Speaking to reporters after the review here on Thursday, Rao said the Iftar hosted by the state government earlier was confined to Hyderabad and that too in the Jubilee Hall with limited invitees.

“But, Telangana is home to ‘Ganga Jamuna tehzeeb’ (a culture of communal harmony). The government has decided to organise the festival on a grand scale,” the chief minister said.

He said Iftar would be organised on July 8 at the Nizam college here in which 5,000 people would attend the event. Ambassadors of several Muslim countries would be invited for the event, he said. Besides this, Iftar party will be hosted to around 1,000 each at 100 other mosques in Hyderabad. Iftar will also be hosted at 95 Assembly headquarters towns at the mosques.

Full report at:

http://www.newindianexpress.com/states/telangana/KCR-Government-Showers-Sops-on-Muslims-for-Ramzan/2015/07/03/article2899547.ece

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Row over audio clip: Muslims seek action against Tapi SP M K Nayak’s derogatory remarks

July 2, 2015

Leading Muslim advocates and social activists on Wednesday met the Surat Range IG in connection with an audio clip purportedly containing conversation between Tapi superintendent of police M K Nayak and a “Gau Rakshak” in which the latter is said to have made derogatory remarks against the community members.

While the advocates and the social activists demanded strict action against Nayak, the SP denied making any such comment and said the voice in the clip was not his.

Last Friday, tension prevailed in Songadh taluka of Tapi district after severed head of a calf was found outside the residence of the president of the taluka panchayat. Police had rushed to the spot and controlled the situation, assuring local BJP protesters of taking strict action in the case.

The audio clip, related to the incident, purportedly contains a conversation between Nayak and a man identifying himself as national president of Gauraksha Commando Force from Delhi.

In the clip, “Nayak” allegedly makes derogatory references to the Muslims and claims to a follower of RSS ideology and a close friend of VHP leader Pravin Togadia.

The clip went viral and sent shock waves among the Muslims, particularly in Tapi and neighbouring districts Surat, Navsari, Bharuch and Valsad.

Full report at:

http://indianexpress.com/article/cities/ahmedabad/row-over-audio-clip-muslims-seek-action-against-tapi-sp-m-k-nayaks-derogatory-remarks/

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Atali communal violence: Muslims make plans to leave homes, say no end to violence

by Aniruddha Ghosal

July 3, 2015

Fearing for their lives, many Muslims fled their homes in Atali in Ballabhgarh on Thursday morning, the day after their village was hit by a second bout of communal violence. Though some of them returned home in the evening, the fact that the violence had taken place in spite of heavy police presence seemed to have rattled the community.

In the wake of the communal violence that had engulfed the village in May, the police had promised to guarantee the safety of the Muslim community and pledged to arrest those responsible for the riots. But no arrests have been made so far.

Many Muslims admitted that leaving the village permanently might be the only way to ensure the safety of their families.

“Initially, we thought that our families would be safe if the police are here. But after what happened earlier, we can no longer believe that. Many families have already left. Today morning, we decided to leave the village,” said Mohammad Ehsaan. “People have left the village, particularly those with young children and old relatives. But we have deployed police personnel at the village and we will take all possible steps to ensure no further violence takes place,” said Faridabad Police Commissioner Subhash Yadav. “The police and the RAF (Rapid Action Force) were present when the violence took place in the morning. There were two episodes of violence after that and by that time, the police had asked for reinforcements. But that didn’t stop the violence. The police can’t stay at the village permanently and there is no sign of the violence ending,” said Isak Lambardar, a community elder. At the root of the violence is a dispute over the ownership of the land on which the mosque is built. While the Muslim community claims that the land belongs to the Haryana Waqf Board, the Hindu community in the village says it belongs to the Gram Panchayat. The matter was scheduled to be heard at the Faridabad District Court on Thursday morning. “When the community elders said that they would have to go to attend the hearing in court, many families said that they didn’t want to remain behind,” said Mumtaz Ali, a resident. “The village has been our home for decades. But we can’t live in fear. Nobody wants to come to our homes and businesses are suffering. There are many who feel that it might be wiser to fight our battle, legally and while residing outside our village,” added Lambardar.

http://indianexpress.com/article/cities/delhi/atali-communal-violence-muslims-make-plans-to-leave-homes-say-no-end-to-violence/

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China proposes talks with India on Lakhvi issue

July 03, 2015

Beijing - Amid India's concerns over China's move to block action against Pakistan over the release of 26/11 Mumbai attack mastermind Zaki-ur Rehman Lakhvi, China has proposed to discuss the issue with India as part of a joint mechanism on counter-terrorism, reported PTI on Thursday.

In the first detailed comment from China over its move to block action against Pakistan in the UN Security Council, a senior Chinese official said the two countries are victims of terrorism and are working quite well to combat the menace.

"Both India and China are victims of terrorism.

We have similar positions on this.

We are working quite well in this field.

We are opposed to terrorism in all forms," said Huang Xilian, deputy director general of the Asian Affairs Department of the Chinese foreign ministry.

But at the same time, he said that when it comes to the specific issue in multilateral institutions it required further discussions.

"We need to have further discussion and conversation so that we can have better understanding and can work closely on it.

We are ready to do that.

We have a mechanism of counter- terrorism consultation between the two ministries" in which it can be discussed, he told Indian journalists on Thursday.

The meeting of the counter-terrorism mechanism is scheduled to be held in the second half of this year.

"We hope it will bring help closer cooperation between the two in this field," he said.

Huang said India and China have similar positions on terrorism at the UN.

"We share similar positions in principle.

On specific issues.

we need to stay (in) close communication for better understanding and close cooperation," he said.

"We have effective mechanism of counter-terrorism consultation.

It is quite effective and we should make full use of this mechanism to promote understanding and cooperation," he said.

Full report at:

http://nation.com.pk/national/03-Jul-2015/china-proposes-talks-with-india-on-lakhvi-issue

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North America

 

Saudi Arabia Steps Up Funding For Canadian Islamic Schools – Leaked Docs

July 03, 2015

Saudi Arabia has been offering financial support to expand Canadian private Islamic schools with donations worth hundreds of thousands of dollars, according to secret cables recently released by WikiLeaks.

The newly published trove of documents reveals conversations between government officials from Riyadh and diplomats at the Saudi embassy in Ottawa from 2012 and 2013. The cables show that two significant donations worth $211,000 and $134,000 were made to schools in Ottawa and Mississauga respectively.

The information came from 500,000 leaked Saudi diplomatic cables, which WikiLeaks has begun to release.

The schools admitted to a Canadian newspaper, The Globe and Mail that they asked for the donations to help meet growing demand, citing thousands of people on their waiting lists.

There is nothing illegal about making donations to private schools in Canada, but there have been reports that Saudi money can come with strings attached, such as encouragement to teach a more puritanical form of Islam.

Canadian Islamic schools have denied accepting conditional donations, stating that Saudi Arabia has no influence over what is being taught.

“It’s not the way we operate. We are solely Canadian and we have our own way of doing things,” the executive director of the Muslim Association of Canada (MAC), Sharaf Sharafeldin, told The Globe and Mail.

MAC is in charge of mosques and private Islamic schools, including the popular Olive Grove School in Mississauga, which received the $134,000 donation.

Before the money was received, a cable was sent from the Saudi embassy in Ottawa to Riyadh, stating: “[MAC] needs support and aid to carry out a development and construction project for phase two at the school. There is no observation or anything against it.”

The Olive Grove’s popularity has been surging, partly because it is located in the booming Mississauga community near Canada’s most populated city, Toronto. According to Sharafeldin, it has 1,200 students on the waiting list.

Following questions from the media, MAC sent a mass email out to parents to dispel fears of any Saudi influence, stressing “the grant came with no conditions.” However, in order to receive the donation, the school had to apply for Saudi financial support. The Ottawa Islamic School is also expanding: “[We are] currently building an expansion on its property worth approximately $4-million, that will meet a lot of shortage for space,” Principal Mohamed Sheikh Ahmed told the Canadian newspaper.

The cable regarding the Saudi donation to the Ottawa school reveals the discussions surrounding the $211,000 donation.

“Regarding the provision of financial aid to a number of Islamic institutions, including … the Ottawa Islamic School in Canada, we would like to inform you that we have disbursed the first payment of that aid by a cheque,” that cable said.

Religious schools are fairly popular in Canada, with prospering Muslim, Christian, Sikh, and Jewish ones operating in multicultural communities. However, a lack of public funding makes schools very dependent on donors.

The Canadian government has raised concerns about the influence Saudi Arabia’s funding on various Muslim institutions receiving their donations. “We have to be concerned about all foreign funding coming in,” said the chair of the Parliamentary National Security Committee, Conservative Senator

http://rt.com/news/271396-saudi-funding-canada-schools/

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A Muslim Mayor of London Would 'Send Message to the Haters': One of the Labour Candidates

2 July 2015

A Muslim mayor of London would send a message to all “the haters in Iraq and in Syria” that the city is a beacon of tolerance and respect, Sadiq Khan, one of Labour candidates for the job, has said.

Khan, the first Muslim MP to be elected in London, set out his case for why it would be helpful for the capital to have a Muslim mayor just days after the terrorist attack on British tourists in Tunisia and ahead of the 10th anniversary of the 7/7 bombings next week.

The former cabinet minister is the only Muslim running to be the Labour candidate. Syed Kamall, an MEP and potential Conservative candidate, is also a Muslim.

Khan, the son of a bus driver from Pakistan, said the extremist bombers who killed 52 people on 7/7 were against British values and the British way of life, so electing a Muslim mayor would send a “phenomenal message and would say something about our confidence as a city”.

“If Londoners decided to do that, the message it would send to the rest of the world would be quite awesome,” he told the Guardian. “The reality is that we are a beacon in all sorts of ways. I think it’s just worth thinking about the impact it could have. It shows the confidence of Londoners – that we don’t simply tolerate but respect each other.

“The idea that the mayor of London could be son of an immigrant, son of a bus driver, ethnic minority – and by the way, of Islamic faith – would speak volumes, particularly when you bear in mind 10 years ago these four men wanted to destroy our way of life.

Sadiq Khan at a restaurant in his Tooting constituency. Facebook Twitter Pinterest

 Sadiq Khan: ‘The idea that the mayor of London could be son of an immigrant, son of a bus driver, ethnic minority – and by the way, of Islamic faith – would speak volumes.’ Photograph: David Levene for the Guardian

“What sort of message would it send if Londoners had the confidence, tolerance and respect to vote for someone of a different faith [from most of them]? I’m a Londoner first and foremost, but it would show the haters in Iraq and the haters in Syria what sort of country we are: a beacon. And I think the reality is sometimes you need cool, calm voices, which is what I’d hope to provide.”

Khan said he did not want to criticise either David Cameron, or Theresa May, the home secretary, over their response to the terror attack in Tunisia or their policy on tackling Islamic extremism, because he believed their intentions were good.

But he said politicians did need to be careful about their rhetoric – a concern highlighted in much stronger terms by former Conservative cabinet minister Sayeeda Warsi, who warned that Cameron was in danger of alienating moderate Muslims.

Khan did, however, recall his frustration with the reaction of Tony Blair to the 7/7 terror attacks, when the then-prime minister called in the newly elected MP and the three other Muslim Labour members of the House of Commons.

“One of my criticisms of Tony Blair was when he called the four MPs of Islamic faith into No 10 and sat us round the table and said – to Mohammad Sarwar, Khalid Mahmood, Shahid Malik and myself – it was our responsibility,” Khan said.

“I said: ‘No, it’s not. Why have you called us in? I don’t blame you for the Ku Klux Klan. Why are you blaming me for the four bombers on 7/7?’ Which is why, after he called us in, and there were lots of cameras outside waiting to speak to us, my three colleagues spoke to the cameras and I walked away. This is a problem that is a mainstream problem for us all.”

Khan said he thought there had been progress in attitudes since 7/7 and he was proud of the sense of solidarity between Muslims and non-Muslims after the attack 10 years ago. Londoners in particular “got it” that there was no need for Muslims to apologise or say “not in my name”, he added.

The MP said everyone in London now had a friend or colleague who was a Muslim, had a better understanding about fasting during Ramadan and nobody in the city “gives you funny looks because they think you’re a terrorist or a friend of a terrorist”.

Speaking about how the UK responds to the Tunisian terror attack that killed 30 Britons, Khan said the short-term concern must be the victims and their families, while the longer-term response should be maintaining good relations between the police and Muslim communities, and greater precautions against online grooming by religious extremists.

“Bearing in mind the anniversary of 7/7, 10 years on, we still have a case where a 17-year-old Yorkshireman is going to Iraq and blowing himself up, mums with children are going to Syria because they think it’s the land of milk and honey. We still have got huge problems here,” he said.

The Tooting MP said that as a parent of two teenage daughters he understood the home secretary’s aims when she said she wanted parents to report grooming by extremists to police.

“If, God forbid, I saw my nephews or nieces or children being groomed, I would report it to the authorities. I want action to be taken against those on the other side of the net and with the ISP [internet service provider] maybe. We need to make sure communities have the confidence to come forward. It is a challenge for the police to be approachable and are seen to treat people well,” he said.

Khan said his biggest concern was grooming taking place in the “ungoverned spaces – the bedroom, internet, front room” rather than in mosques and schools, where more could be done to address it openly.

“That’s where we’ve got to give young people resilience, so if there’s a charismatic criminal with a perverse ideology trying to groom them, they can say: ‘Hang on, I know that’s not Islam, I know that’s not the way to get to heaven.’

“Just like if you’re the parent of young children not to take sweets from strangers, you teach young children not to be taken in by flattery in a chatroom.”

Khan also warned that the response to the latest terrorist atrocities should not be the passage of draconian new surveillance laws, just like the attempt to introduce 90-day pre-trial detention was the wrong answer from Blair to 7/7.

“Legislation passed in haste is often bad,” he said. “One or two Tory backbenchers raised the issue today, saying clearly we need to be snooping on everyone’s data. That would be a mistake. History tells us that.”

http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2015/jul/02/a-muslim-mayor-of-london-would-send-message-to-the-haters-says-sadiq-khan

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American Muslims part of national fabric

JULY 3, 2015

The list of anti-Muslim headlines on the Internet is long: “Sharia is coming to take over our freedom,” “Muslims hate our freedom,” “Muslims are here to take over America,” “There is a clash of civilization between Islam and America,” “Islam teaches terrorism,” “All Muslims are terrorists.”

These headlines are designed to provoke hatred and to make readers view Muslims as monsters.

However, according to The New York Times, “The main terrorist threat in the United States is not from violent Muslim extremists, but from right-wing extremists. Just ask the police.”

Another noteworthy fact: Data compiled by the FBI show that between 2008 and 2012, just 6 percent of domestic terrorism suspects were Muslim.

But in that same period, 81 percent of media reports on domestic terrorism included a reference to Muslims.

For the past 14 years, American Muslims have been struggling with misconceptions and stereotypes.

Muslims have been part of the national fabric since our nation’s founding

There is a long list of Muslims who started arriving here from the year 1178, according to a Chinese document, Sung Document, mentioning voyage of Muslim sailors to a land known as Mu-Lan-Pi (America).

In 1310, Abu Bakari, a king of the Malian Empire, spearheaded a series of sea voyages to the New World. In 1513, Pri Ries completed his first world map, which included America. This map surpassed any other maps of the times.

And 1530 marked the arrival of African slaves — 30 percent of the 10 million slaves were Muslims, who became the backbone of the American economy. Arizona and New Mexico owe their beginning to a Moroccan Muslim arriving in Florida in 1539. Muslims gave their sweat and blood in the development of the nation.

Today, there are millions of Muslims happily making America their home. They are relatively affluent, educated and culturally integrated. They serve this nation with pride.

Despite the common misconception that all Arabs are Muslims and all Muslims are Arabs, the American Muslim community is perhaps the nation’s most diverse faith group in terms of race, national origin, economic status and differing religious viewpoints.

A visitor to any American mosque will see people of different races, dressed in a wide variety of attire and speaking many different languages, from all over the world. Added to this melting pot are newer Muslims of Hispanic, Anglo and African-American background.

The manufactured atmosphere of mistrust fueling hate against American Muslims does create concern for the safety and security of families. But instead of feeling alienation, American Muslims are seeking greater civic participation and integration in American society.

Thousands of American Muslims serve honorably in our armed forces. Many more of them serve in police departments, the FBI and other law enforcement agencies.

More than 3,500 American Muslim military personnel were deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan, and many more to other locations worldwide, with hundreds of them being recognized for their service.

American Muslims serving our nation with distinction also include Rep. Keith Ellison, D-Minn., and Rep. André Carson, D-Ind., as well as the uncounted number of Muslim doctors, lawyers, professors, researchers, teachers, writers, mothers, fathers, producers, actors and small-business owners.

Our nation has gone through similar periods in which other ethnic and religious groups were vilified and demonized. Insha’Allah (God willing), the negativity against American Muslims will also diminish over time.

Let us make a pledge this Fourth of July that we all join hands in eradicating hate in all its forms and thereby achieve the American dream of one nation under God, with liberty and justice for all.

Sarwat Husain is president of the Council on American-Islamic Relations-Texas in San Antonio.

http://www.mysanantonio.com/opinion/commentary/article/American-Muslims-part-of-national-fabric-6363709.php

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Ramadan fasting tips: A Muslim dietitian and personal trainer weighs in

03 Jul 2015

Imagine not eating or drinking anything (not even water) for seventeen hours a day during the hot Canadian summer for a month straight. Many of the over one million individuals who identify as Muslim in Canada don’t have to have imagine how it feels at all.

That’s because many are participating in the holy month of Ramadan, observed by Muslims all over the world. During the holy month, which started June 18, many Muslims fast from sunrise to sunset. The exact date changes every year, which means some years it’s in the winter and the number of fasting hours is shorter. This year in Canada, depending where you live in our vast nation of course, there are about 17 hours of fasting, which is very challenging and is exacerbated by the heat, says Mohamed Rezk in a phone interview with Yahoo Canada.

Have a strategy

Over the years Rezk, 25, has used his expertise as a registered dietitian and personal trainer to perfect his Ramadan eating and exercise regimen so that he feels the best that he can whilst not eating for hours and hours.

This year he lucked out and is currently in Cairo on business, where he ‘only’ has to fast for about 14 hours per day. Still, whether it’s 14 or 17 hours many people are chomping at the bit when they break fast and often gorge on a giant high-calorie meal right away. This is the wrong thing to do. It’s better to eat a few smaller meals spread out over time to keep blood sugar and energy levels stable, says the member of Dietitians of Canada.

“Try to space out your meals,” the dietitian advises. “If you eat one huge meal when you break your fast you’ll raise your blood sugar and end up feeling tired and overly full.”

Instead of gorging he recommends when it first gets dark eating something that provides a mix of carbohydrates, protein and fats. He also suggests drinking at least 2.5 litres of water over the course of the night, which is of utmost importance when it’s so hot out. About an hour and half after the first min-meal he suggests having a second one, perhaps something like dates and milk – which is high in potassium and is a very traditional snack, he notes. Also, focus on eating nutritious, high-water foods that help keep you hydrated such as: watermelon, cucumbers, pomegranate, radishes and tomatoes.

Then right before going to bed have a third meal. He usually opts for something like eggs, with sprouted-grain bread, veggies and cottage cheese.

The eating isn’t over yet. Then at about 3 a.m. he usually rises for a larger meal. While that may sound extreme, it is quite common for Muslims to rise very early in the morning to eat a bigger meal surrounded by family and friends, Rezk says. At that larger meal he suggests having something high in fibre, fat, carbs and protein. Avocado and beans are two good examples of foods that are both filling and good for you, he says.

He says it’s fine to do exercise during the holy month, but suggests scaling back the intensity and frequency a bit. Rezk doesn’t do any cardio during Ramadan, instead just sticking to a bit of resistance training about three times per week.

Not for weight loss

What does he think of people participating in fasting or juice cleanses for non-religious reasons in a bid to lose weight quickly?

“I personally don’t recommend it,” he says. “Dietitians are usually against it.”

That’s because severely restricting your calories in a bid to lose weight usually doesn’t work. Most of the ‘weight’ lost on a cleanse or a fast is water weight, which will be gained back quickly once you go back to eating a higher number of calories again. Instead, he recommends focusing on having a balanced diet and exercising regularly to lose weight.

Fasting during Ramadan is a spiritual experience, it’s not about trying to dropping a few pounds. That being said while Rezk usually doesn’t lose any weight his blood profile generally improves. Fasting isn’t healthy for everyone. He says some people actually gain weight since their sleep and eating schedules are thrown into complete disarray.

“A lot of people survive on one meal per day (during Ramadan),” he says. Often that one meal is very high in calories and very low in nutrients. 

Drinking lots of water and eating a few smaller, nutrient-dense meals is the best way for Muslims to stay fit and keep energy levels up during Ramadan. But, there’s nothing wrong with letting loose every now and again, the fitness expert notes. Come July 17 many Muslims will certainly be ready to celebrate the end of Ramadan, called Eid-al-Fitr, by celebrating with lots of friends, family and food, of course.

https://ca.shine.yahoo.com/blogs/shine-on/ramadan-fasting-tips--a-muslim-dietitian-and-personal-trainer-weighs-in-205422572.html

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Arab World

 

ISIL plundering Syrian, Iraqi heritage sites on 'industrial scale'

Jul 3, 2015

The United Nations (UN) cultural agency has warned that the ISIL terrorist group is looting ancient sites across Iraq and Syria on an ‘industrial scale.’

Director General of the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) Irina Bokova told a meeting of experts in London that the ISIL militant group is selling treasures to middlemen to raise cash and revenues.

"This deliberate destruction is not only continuing, it is happening on a systematic basis. The looting of archaeological sites and museums, in Iraq particularly, has reached an industrial scale of destruction," Bokova told the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI) in London, adding, "The deliberate destruction, what we are seeing nowadays in Iraq and Syria, has reached unprecedented levels in contemporary history."

The head of the UN cultural agency said the militants were forcing local farmers to excavate sites for artifacts which eventually make their way to private collectors around the world.

She termed the black market dealings of looted items in the two Middle Eastern countries as part of a strategy of deliberate “cultural cleansing.”

The head of the UN cultural agency also noted that these treasures have been turned into a source of financing for militants and that extremists are using this money to fund their terror activities.

"Daesh (ISIL) knows there's a financial upside of this activity and they are trying to gain from it. We know also that parties in the conflict are selling to certain dealers and to private collectors and to market end buyers."

Some sites across Syria have been ransacked so badly that they no longer have any value for archaeologists, she pointed out.

UNESCO Director General Irina Bokova speaks during a press conference at the National Museum in Baghdad on March 28, 2015. (AFP photo)

Experts also say that the ISIL terrorists have heavily looted at least one fifth of Iraq's nearly 10,000 official world-famous artifacts in recent months.

Bokova added that UNESCO used satellite images to track down the looting and smuggling of cultural heritage items.

Elsewhere in her remarks, the senior UN official said that UNESCO was also increasingly concerned about the ISIL activities in Libya as well.

A sculpture is seen in Palmyra’s museum, Syria, March 14, 2014, when the city was not yet in control of ISIL. (AFP photo)

The remarks come shortly after reports emerged that members of the ISIL Takfiri militant group had destroyed a renowned statue of a lion outside the museum in Syria’s crisis-hit central city of Palmyra. The Syrian antiquities director, Maamoun Abdelkarim, said on Thursday that the statue, known as the Lion of al-Lat, was a matchless piece of art.

UNESCO has appealed to Syrians to "make every effort to prevent" Palmyra's destruction.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon had earlier urged an immediate action to save cultural sites in the crisis-hit countries, adding that “the protection of cultural heritage is a security imperative.”

In addition to that, Takfiri militants have demolished several holy shrines and mosques belonging to Shia and Sunni Muslims in the militancy-riddled regions of Syria and Iraq.

Both nations’ historical sites have suffered widespread looting and damage by Takfiri militants in recent years.

The ISIL terrorist group has gained notoriety for its barbarity, heinous atrocities and sacrilegious acts.

http://www.presstv.in/Detail/2015/07/03/418558/UNESCO-Irina-Bokova-ISIL-Iraq-Syria

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ISIS Emir of suicide bombers killed in airstrikes last month

July 03, 2015

Syria: Senior ISIS leader Tariq al-Harzi -- a man known as the "emir of suicide bombers" -- was killed by a coalition airstrike in Syria last month, a U.S. official said Thursday.

Al-Harzi played a key logistical role for ISIS, overseeing efforts to get jihadists and weapons into Iraq and Syria to fuel the militant organization's war machine, according to U.S. authorities.

The Tunisian, believed to be one of the first foreign fighters to join ISIS, also helped organize the Sunni extremist group's devastating use of suicide and vehicle-borne bombs in Iraq, the U.S. Department of Defense said.

"This was a big get," said Mike Rogers, a CNN national security commentator and former chairman of the U.S. House Intelligence Committee. "It will be very disruptive to their operation for at least some period of time."

$3 million reward

Al-Harzi was killed in Shaddadi, Syria, on June 16, said Capt. Jeff Davis, a spokesman for the Department of Defense.

The ISIS leader had been on the U.S. Designated Terrorist List since last year and the State Department had offered a $3 million reward for information on him.

The Pentagon said last month that al-Harzi's brother, who was also an ISIS operative, was killed in a U.S. airstrike in Mosul, Iraq, on June 15.

The brother, Ali Awni al-Harzi, was seen as an intermediary between ISIS and jihadists in North Africa. The U.S. government labeled him "a person of interest" in the deadly attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, on Sept 11, 2012.

Role beyond Iraq and Syria

Full report at:

http://nation.com.pk/international/03-Jul-2015/isis-emir-of-suicide-bombers-killed-in-airstrikes-last-month

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Egypt leading ‘vicious war on terror’; 23 radicals slain

3 July 2015

ISMAILIA: Egypt launched airstrikes on extremist militant targets in the Sinai peninsula on Thursday, killing 23 militants a day after the deadliest clashes in the region in years, security sources said.

The sources said those killed had taken part in Wednesday’s fighting in which 100 militants and 17 soldiers, including four officers, were killed, according to the army spokesman.

Meanwhile, a newspaper close to the Egyptian government says the Daesh-linked militants who attacked troops in Sinai used sophisticated weaponry, including Russian-made Kornet anti-tank missiles.

In a graphic on its front page Thursday, El-Watan daily says the attackers also used mortars, anti-aircraft guns and other guided missiles.

The attack, which included a wave of suicide bombings and assaults on security installations by dozens of militants, was Sinai’s deadliest in decades.

إعلان

Newspapers led their front pages with the attack, with many describing it as a “war.” Graphic photographs released by the military showed the bodies of extremists killed in the fighting who were wearing combat fatigues. "The armed forces are leading a vicious war against terrorism," the military said in a statement.

"We have the will and determination to root out this black terrorism," it added. "We will not stop until Sinai is cleansed of all the dens of terror."

The White House condemned the unprecedented wave of attacks, which came two days after state prosecutor Hisham Barakat was assassinated in a Cairo car bombing, the most senior government official killed in the insurgency.

"The United States stands resolutely with Egypt amidst the spate of terrorist attacks ...and will continue to assist Egypt in addressing these threats to its security," the US National Full report at:

http://www.arabnews.com/middle-east/news/770836

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Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood member killed in custody

Jul 3, 2015

Another member of Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood movement has reportedly been killed at the hands of Egyptian security officials amid the persistent crackdown on the group and its supporters, Press TV reports.

The body of Tareq Khalil was handed over to his family in the capital, Cairo, early on Friday morning, nearly three weeks after his arrest on charges of sponsoring anti-government violence.

Tareq Khalil, a senior member of Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood, who died in custody.

Khalil's family said his body had signs of torture, and accused Egyptian police of murdering him in custody.

He was the movement’s leader in the seaport city of Suez.

Khalil’s death came two days after a raid by Egyptian police in the western part of Cairo that left 13 members of the opposition movement dead on Wednesday.

The Muslim Brotherhood called for a “rebellion” against Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi in reaction to the deadly raid.

In a Wednesday statement, the Egyptian movement said the leaders were "murdered in cold blood," describing the president as a "butcher.”

Full report at:

http://www.presstv.in/Detail/2015/07/03/418579/Egypt-Muslim-Brotherhood-Khalil-Sisi

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Syrian Islamist insurgents launch battle to seize government-held Aleppo

03 Jul 2015

Syrian insurgents led by Islamist groups began a major offensive to gain full control of the divided northern city of Aleppo, a monitor and rebels said on July 2.

The fall of Syria's main commercial hub would be a major blow for President Bashar al-Assad, restricting his control mainly to a belt of territory stretching north from Damascus to the Mediterranean coast.

This would deepen Syria's de facto partition between the Assad-run west and areas held by a patchwork of armed groups.

A statement by the groups said their goal was to "liberate the city of Aleppo" and to ensure that when it fell into their hands it would be ruled by strict sharia principles.

The British-based Observatory for Human Rights said a coalition of groups that included al Qaeda's Syrian offshoot Nusra Front and Salafi Ahrar al Sham had fired hundreds of mortar bombs on locations in western districts of the city that are held by the Syrian army and allied militias.

Much of the fighting was focused on the Jamiyat al-Zahra frontline, where the insurgents struck the heavily defended part of the district held by the army, according to Rami Abdul Rahman, the head of the rights group which tracks the war.

The Jamiyat al Zahra, which houses several major security compounds, has long been coveted by the rebels to allow them to advance into government-held areas and cut army supply lines.

The latest flareup of fighting was the widest rebel offensive taking place simultaneously across most front lines  since the insurgents took over most of the eastern part of the city in the summer of 2012, Abdul Rahman added.

Eight civilians were killed with at least 70 injured with dozens of dead and injured from army personnel and allied militias, the head of the monitor said.

The Syrian army last month repelled a push by an alliance of rebels, including recipients of Western aid fighting under the name of the Free Syrian Army, into Aleppo's Rashidin district.

It was the first rebel advance into the heart of Aleppo's government-controlled residential area in more than two years.

Full report at:

http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/syrian-islamist-insurgents-launch-battle-to-seize-government-held-aleppo.aspx?pageID=238&nID=84918&NewsCatID=352

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Rival militants don orange outfits to kill alleged ISIS fighters

2 July 2015

A hardline Islamist group known as Jaysh al-Islam (the Army of Islam) recently released a video, showing its members shooting dead a group of alleged Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) militants.

Jaysh al-Islam is a coalition of multiple Islamist and Salafist units involved in the Syrian Civil War. Its primary base of operations are the Damascus neighborhoods of Douma and Eastern Ghouta.

Full report at:

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2015/07/02/Rival-militants-don-orange-outfits-to-kill-alleged-ISIS-fighters.html

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Iraqi forces say most of Baiji town recaptured from ISIS

2 July 2015

Iraqi forces have cleared Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) militants from most of the northern town of Baiji and hope to drive them from the nearby oil refinery within days, a spokesman for the Shiite militias leading the fight said on Thursday.

ISIS fighters swept into Baiji, about 190 km (120 miles) north of Baghdad, a year ago during their lightning takeover of Iraq’s Sunni Muslim provinces. The town and refinery - the country’s largest - have been battlefronts since then.

If the Shiite Hashd Shaabi fighters and Iraqi security forces regain full control around Baiji, it could help them push north towards the ISIS-held city of Mosul and offset losses to the Sunni militants in the western province of Anbar.

Ahmed al-Asadi, a Hashd Shaabi spokesman, said there were still “pockets of resistance” to the northeast and northwest of the town, and ISIS fighters were trying to launch attacks from Siniya village, 5 km to the west.

“I can say that over 90 percent of the district has been cleared and the remaining areas will be done in the coming hours,” he told a news conference in Baghdad.

“The enemy still controls a part of the refinery, but the more important parts are under the control of the Hashd and other branches of the armed forces,” he said.

“After these pockets of insurgents are cleared, the refinery will be surrounded from all sides and we will announce in the coming days the liberation of the refinery.”

Control of the refinery has changed hands more than once since ISIS launched its offensive in June last year, and the hardline Islamist fighters have in the past been able to fight back after conceding territory.

Full report at:

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2015/07/02/Iraqi-forces-say-most-of-Baiji-town-recaptured-from-ISIS-.html

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Report: Saudi king censors TV host, pro-Brotherhood scholar

03 Jul 2015

A government-linked Saudi news website reported on July 2 that King Salman ordered an investigation and trial of a pro-Muslim Brotherhood scholar and a television host after an episode that was critical of his predecessor King Abdullah's policies toward the outlawed Islamist group.

Sabq news website, quoting unnamed Information Ministry officials, said the king also banned talk show host Abdullah al-Modifer and his guest Mohsen al-Awaji from appearing in the media. The controversial episode had aired earlier this week on the satellite television channel Rotana Khalijia, primarily owned by Saudi Prince Alwaleed bin Talal. The channel has reportedly stopped broadcasting the show.

Al-Awaji had called for reconciliation with Islamists and said that people will forget Abdullah and his reign. In ultraconservative Saudi Arabia, any criticism of the king - dead or alive- is a criminal offense.

The kingdom and other wealthy Gulf Arab nations backed Egypt's military as it ousted Islamist President Mohammed Morsi and his Muslim Brotherhood group after just one year in power. Gulf monarchs view political opposition movements, particularly those affiliated with the Brotherhood, as a threat to their rule.

Full report at:

http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/report-saudi-king-censors-tv-host-pro-brotherhood-scholar.aspx?pageID=238&nID=84924&NewsCatID=352

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Gulf ministers vow stand against ISIS mosque attacks

3 July 2015

Interior ministers of the Gulf states Friday vowed to take a united stand against a string of deadly bombings targeting Shiite mosques claimed by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) militant group.

Holding an emergency meeting in Kuwait, the scene of the latest suicide attack that killed 26 people last Friday, the ministers of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) states stressed the attacks are a threat to the stability of the region.

Around 50 people have been killed and hundreds wounded in suicide attacks on three Shiite mosques in Saudi Arabia and Kuwait during the past two months, all claimed by ISIS.

The Sunni militant group considers Shiites heretics and has repeatedly targeted them in attacks across the Middle East.

The ministers “underscored the importance of coordination and cooperation in all measures and steps in confronting this serious epidemic... which is a threat to the security and stability of the GCC states,” said a statement issued after the night meeting.

Besides Kuwait and Saudi Arabia, the GCC includes Bahrain, Oman, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates.

The statement called the attacks “criminal acts not linked with Islam and its values, which renounce violence and the killing of innocents,” but did not spell out any new measures to stop them.

Full report at:

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2015/07/03/Gulf-ministers-vow-stand-against-ISIS-mosque-attacks.html

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Syrian army bombards rebels in Aleppo: Monitor

3 July 2015

Syrian government forces mounted heavy air strikes on Friday against rebel positions in and around the northern city of Aleppo, the focus of an insurgent offensive aimed at capturing areas controlled by President Bashar al-Assad.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a group monitoring the war, said fighting between the insurgents and government forces continued into the early hours of Friday, and Syrian army air strikes on rebel positions were continuous.

A Syrian military source said the attack had been repelled and heavy casualties had been inflicted on the insurgents, adding that the air force and artillery had been used to target the rebels who in turn had used heavy weapons in their attack.

Full report at:

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2015/07/03/Syrian-army-bombards-rebels-in-Aleppo-monitor.html

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Cameron wants lawmakers to weigh U.K. air strikes against ISIS in Syria

2 July 2015

British Prime Minister David Cameron wants lawmakers to consider the option of Britain joining U.S.-led air strikes against Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) militants in Syria, his spokeswoman said on Thursday.

The British government believes a deadly Islamist attack in Tunisia last week, in which 30 Britons were killed, has underlined the threat the militant group poses and that London must think about doing more against ISIS as a result.

"What has changed is the growing evidence that ISIL (ISIS) poses a threat to people here in Britain and our national security," Cameron's spokeswoman told reporters.

"And in that context the prime minister does think that MPs (lawmakers) should be thinking about these issues and about what we are doing to tackle ISIL."

Full report at:

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2015/07/02/Cameron-wants-lawmakers-to-weigh-UK-air-strikes-against-ISIS-in-Syria.html

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HRW slams US for resuming military aid to Bahrain

Jul 3, 2015

Human Rights Watch has strongly criticized a US decision to lift a ban on arms sales to Bahrain, where the ruling Al Khalifa regime continues its crackdown on pro-democracy protests.

The US-based rights group said on Thursday that the move by the administration of US President Barack Obama will encourage what it described as the Manama regime's "unrelenting repression" of pro-democracy protesters.

“The Obama administration’s decision to resume arms sales will only encourage Bahraini authorities’ unrelenting repression,” said Sarah Margon, the Washington director of Human Rights Watch.

Earlier on June 29, the US State Department announced that Washington would resume its military aid to Bahrain due to what it claimed as progress on human rights issues there.

“While we do not think that the human rights situation in Bahrain is adequate...we believe it is important to recognize that the government of Bahrain has made some meaningful progress on human rights reforms and reconciliation,” State Department spokesman John Kirby said.

The US imposed a ban on security assistance to Bahrain in 2011, when the government’s crackdown on peaceful demonstrators left dozens dead and hundreds wounded or arrested.

Bahraini protesters hold placards portraying Sheikh Ali Salman, the head of the opposition movement, al-Wefaq, during a demonstration in the village of Daih, west of the capital, Manama, on March 24, 2015. (© AFP)

Full report at:

http://www.presstv.in/Detail/2015/07/03/418582/Bahrain-US-arms-sales-HRW-Sarah-Margon

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Africa

 

Boko Haram militants attack villages in Nigeria : Close to 150 dead

03 Jul 2015

Nigeria: Suspected Boko Haram militants have killed nearly 150 people in northeastern Nigerian villages, mowing down men and children while they prayed in mosques and shooting women preparing food at home, witnesses said on Thursday.

Dozens of militants stormed three remote villages in the flashpoint Borno state on Wednesday evening, setting houses ablaze in the bloodiest day of attacks by the extremist group since President Muhammadu Buhari came to power in May.

Gunmen killed at least 97 people in Kukawa, the worst-affected village, a local who gave his name as Kolo and who said he had counted the bodies told AFP.

"They wiped out the immediate family of my uncle... They killed his children, about five of them," Kolo said.

A fisherman who witnessed the attack corroborated the death toll.

'Victims as young as four'

Babami Alhaji Kolo, another witness in Kukawa who fled to the state capital Maiduguri, said more than 50 militants had stormed the village.

"The terrorists first descended on Muslim worshippers in various mosques who were observing the Maghrib prayer shortly after breaking their fast," he said.

"They... opened fire on the worshippers who were mostly men and young children.

"They spared nobody. In fact, while some of the terrorists waited and set most of the corpses on fire, others proceeded to houses and shot indiscriminately at women who were preparing food," he said.

Malami Abdulkareem, an Arabic teacher in Kukawa, said some of the victims were as young as four.

"The attackers did not spare even children between four and 12 years old who went to mosques with their fathers.

"I saw at least nine kids who were killed in two mosques," he said.

A military source in Maiduguri, who refused to be named, confirmed the attack but could not yet give a death toll.

"The military responded with aerial bombardments on terrorist positions," he said, without giving further details.

'Volleys of bullets'

In two other villages near the town of Monguno, meanwhile, gunmen killed 48 people and injured 11 others, local lawmaker Mohammed Tahir and witnesses told AFP.

"They selected particular male residents from among the crowd of worshippers... and opened fire on them before setting the two villages on fire and razing them to the ground," Tahir said.

Another resident who managed to flee said the militants arrived in vans and on motorcycles.

"Many of us managed to escape amid volleys of bullets," said the resident who asked not to be named for safety reasons.

Kukawa is around 50 kilometres (30 miles) away from the two villages near Monguno.

All three are located near Lake Chad, which straddles Nigeria, Niger, Chad and Cameroon and has been a focal point of the unrest.

Boko Haram had captured scores of towns and villages in the northeast last year, but has since been pushed back into hide-outs by a four-nation military offensive that kicked off in February.

Full report at:

http://www.firstpost.com/world/boko-haram-kill-nearly-150-in-mosque-massacre-in-nigeria-2324742.html

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Al-Shabab militants capture 3 Somali towns: Officials

Jul 3, 2015

Al-Shabab militants have overrun three Somali towns recently abandoned by the soldiers of the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM), officials say.

"Mubarak, Tortorow and Awdheegle have fallen into the hands of al-Shabab within the past 24 hours," Awdheegle mayor, Mohamed Aweys Abokar, said on Thursday.

He added that hundreds of people, mostly civilians, fled the three towns for fear of their lives.

Full report at:

http://www.presstv.in/Detail/2015/07/03/418528/AlShabaab-militants-three--Somaliia-towns-AU-troops-African-Union

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The Islamic State is coming for North Africa

02 JUL 2015

For a demilitarised zone, there sure is a lot of fighting in Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula. The troubles reached their zenith – for now, at least – on Wednesday in a massive firefight near the town of Sheikh Zuweid, as armed militants and suicide bombers attacked a police station and five military checkpoints.

According to the Egyptian army, which repelled the attack, 100 militants and 17 soldiers died in the battle; independent estimates suggest the Egyptian army casualty count is significantly higher than that. Ansar Bait al-Maqdis, a radical Islamist group with links to the Islamic State (IS), has claimed responsibility for the attack (the group now refers to itself as the “Sinai Province” of the Islamic State).

Although Ansar Bait al-Maqdis has been active in the area for several years, and is responsible for dozens of other attacks that have killed hundreds of people, this one feels like a turning point. For one thing, the size and scale of the attack was unprecedented, requiring the Egyptian army – one of Africa’s best-equipped and trained fighting forces – to bring both helicopter gunships and F-16 fighter jets. For another, this attack came just days after the successful assassination of Egypt’s controversial state prosecutor, Hisham Barakat, which was also claimed by the group.

Barakat’s assassination showed Ansar Bait al-Maqdis could strike at the very heart of the establishment. Barakat was a crucial figure in President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi’s regime, responsible for the trials of thousands of Muslim Brotherhood members, and the en masse death sentences handed down at the conclusions of those trials (the Muslim Brotherhood, remember, is the moderate Islamist group which won Egypt’s first real democratic elections after the 2011 revolution, and one cannot help but wonder how the situation would be different if they were still in power). More tellingly, it showed that the group is getting stronger and bolder in its Sinai heartland – and it’s not just Egypt that’s worried.

Looking on nervously is Hamas, the increasingly beleaguered rulers of Palestine’s Gaza Strip, which borders the Sinai. While Hamas is also a militant Islamist group, it has far more in common with the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood than it does with IS; in fact, it views IS as a major existential threat. As a result, it has taken the extraordinary step of heightening security Gaza’s border with Sinai, effectively reinforcing the blockade maintained by Egypt and Israel. It’s like prisoners putting extra locks on their jail cells.

Israel is also concerned, as it also shares a border with the Sinai. Israel has fought several bloody battles here before – such as the Suez Crisis, the Yom Kippur War and the Six Day War – which is why it is now a demilitarised zone. However, Israel agreed to relax the restrictions on military activity in the area to allow the Egyptian army to contain Ansar Bait al-Maqdis. It’s likely that Israel will further relax these restrictions, aware that Islamic State is getting far too close for comfort.

“ISIS is not just on the Golan, they are in Egypt as well, near Rafah, near our border,” said Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, in response to the Sinai attack. “We are partners with the Egyptians, and many other states in the Middle East and the world, in our battle against radical Islamic terrorism. This terrorism is directed by two different entities: Iran, and the radical Shiites, and ISIS and the radical Sunnis, as well as factions like Hamas.”

The Sinai, as the land bridge between Africa and Asia, has always been strategically significant – just ask Moses. But its importance has been magnified since the construction of the Suez Canal in 1869, which has become one of the world’s busiest shipping routes (the canal now divides Egypt proper from the Sinai). If the fighting in the Sinai intensifies, there’s a real fear that shipping may be disrupted, with a potentially devastating effect on global trade.

Full report at:

http://www.dailymaverick.co.za/article/2015-07-02-analysis-the-islamic-state-is-coming-for-north-africa/#.VZZbrhuqqko

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Borno, Yobe forum seeks probe of Boko Haram, armed forces

July 3, 2015

FOLLOWING recent allegations by the Amnesty International (AI), a Maiduguri-based group, Borno/Yobe Elders Forum, has called on the Federal Government to without delay institute a Judicial Commission of Inquiry to fully investigate and bring to book all individuals and groups found culpable in crime against humanity and human rights abuses.

In a statement made available to The Guardian, the group described what has been going on the North-East as despicable and reprehensible conduct.

The statement read: “We note that since the start of the insurgency, hundreds of our patriotic military and security personnel have lost their lives while scores have been maimed and injured in the course of serving our dear country. We commiserate with their families and extend deep condolences while wishing the injured quick recovery.

“We extend similar condolences to the families of all those who lost their lives as a result Boko Haram attacks or the excesses of the military, and wish the maimed and the injured speedy recovery. We appreciate the roles of individuals and groups in keeping the insurgency and its fall-out in the front-burner of national discourse.

“In the same vein, we call on the Federal Government not to relent in its renewed effort to combat insurgency which has become a national security nuisance and has assumed an international cross-border dimension.”

The group, however, reiterated that while the Amnesty report of June 3 confirmed what they have been saying for long, it failed to do complete justice, saying: “We in the Borno/Yobe Forum welcome the two reports by the Amnesty International as they are a confirmation of all that the forum and the elders of Borno and Yobe have consistently spoken on.

In another development, more than 100 civil society organisations under the aegis of Coalition of Nigerian Election Observers have condemned the recent Amnesty International’s report on civil rights abuses by the Nigerian military.

The coalition, while reacting to the reports during a courtesy visit on the Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu, not only charged the Senate to rise to the defence of the military but had also urged the upper chambers to condemn what it described as Amnesty’s ‘blatant act of irresponsibility’.

The spokesperson of the forum, who spoke on behalf of the group, Dr. Nwambu Gabriel, said: “As a coalition representing more than 100 local and international civil society organisations, we are concerned by the manner certain individuals and organisations seek to denigrate the efforts of the Nigerian military in its determined bid to stamp out the scourge of insurgency, which has ravaged the North-East of our country in the last six years.

“We refer specifically to the latest report of the global human rights group, the Amnesty International, which alleged that the Nigerian military had engaged on human rights abuses in the course of their duties.

“We believe that the Amnesty report, in addition to be a distraction of the Nigerian Armed Forces from its determination to extirpate the insurgents from Nigerian soil, is equally an attempt to denigrate the efforts of our gallant officers and men, who daily lay down their lives for our collective security.

Full report at:

http://www.ngrguardiannews.com/2015/07/borno-yobe-forum-seeks-probe-of-boko-haram-armed-forces/

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We don’t want Boko Haram members in Anambra – Ohaneze tells Buhari

By Ameh Comrade Godwin

July 3, 2015

Apparently uncomfortable with the relocation of over 49 Boko Haram inmates from the North East prisons to Aguata Prison in Ekwuluobia, Anambra State, Chairman of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Elder Chris Eluemuno, has called on President Muhammadu Buhari to rescind his decision.

Eluemuno is demanding the immediate relocation of the inmates in the interest of peace and tranquility in the country.

Speaking with newsmen at his country home, Nkwelle-Ezunaka, Elder Elumuno said: “Our position is that it is not acceptable to us having them here, if what President Mohummadu Buhari has to give us as dividend of democracy is Boko Haram terrorists, it is very, very unfair.

“Aguata prison in Ekwulobia is not a maximum prison, it is an ordinary prison and if the Federal Government meant well for us, Igbo, it is not terrorists that they will bring to us, it is not acceptable to us and we are asking them to think again and look for a better place and send them there.

Full report at:

http://dailypost.ng/2015/07/03/we-dont-want-boko-haram-members-in-anambra-ohaneze-tells-buhari/

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Boko Haram: Osinbajo visits Adamawa, says insurgents will be defeated

July 2, 2015

As part of his visit to Boko Haram-ravaged areas, Nigeria’s Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo, on Thursday visited at Yola, the Adamawa state capital, where he met with internally displaced persons.

The vice president assured the IDPs that the Boko Haram insurgency will come to an end.

Mr. Osinbajo was scheduled to visit the state on Wednesday after visiting Maiduguri, Borno but was unable to do so due to heavy rains.

The vice president visited the Lamido Adamawa, Muhammadu Musdafa victims of the recent bomb blast at the Federal Medical Centre as well as the NYSC IDPs camp, Damare.

Mr. Osinbajo commended the state government for overseeing the welfare of the IDPs in the state.

“I am here on the instruction of the president to do on-the-spot check on the physical situation at the Internally Displaced Persons camps, and to see the true situation and get to be sure of what exactly is going on,” he said.

“Clearly the state government is doing an incredible job. NEMA is also doing an excellent job. The next phase is resettling the displaced persons in their communities in their homes, that is the most important thing in the next stage, and that is why I am here to understand the financial implication of that project; what are the material requirements, what the logistics will be, etc. That is exactly what we are trying to work out. We are trying to see for ourselves how and what needs to be done in this next phase.”

Mr. Osinbajo said the Federal Government was committed to ensuring the return of the IDPs to their homes.

Full report at:

http://www.premiumtimesng.com/news/top-news/185982-boko-haram-osinbajo-visits-adamawa-says-insurgents-will-be-defeated.html

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Boko Haram Weapons and Recruitment Leader Arrested In Chad

BY GLORIA LEE

JUL 03, 2015

Bahna Fanaye, a key Boko Haram leader was arrested in N’Djamena, Chad on Sunday, June 28. Recent evidence attained by Chadian prosecutors shows that Fanaye was in charge of weapons trafficking and in the recruitment of soldiers for Boko Haram, a jihadist extremist military group. The Associated Press reported on Wednesday, July 1 that Fanaye, whose alias is Mahamat Moustapha was in charge of trafficking illegal weapons between Nigeria, Cameroon, and Chad.

The news of Fanaye’s capture was confirmed by Alghassim Khamis, a Chadian public prosecutor on Tuesday, June 30. Khamis said that weapons, communication goods, and documents written by Abubakar Shekau, the leader of Boko Haram were found in a search and seizure conducted at Fanaye’s residence. The documents were written in Arabic and entailed information about the recruitment of soldiers. AP reports that more than 50 SIM cards were found at Fanaye’s home.

Full report at:

http://www.christianitydaily.com/articles/4641/20150703/boko-haram-weapons-and-recruitment-leader-arrested-in-chad.htm

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Southeast Asia

 

Muslim group launches anti-LGBT campaign against rainbow Facebook profile photos

July 3, 2015

KUALA LUMPUR, July 3 ― The National Muslim Youth Association (Pembina) has launched a campaign against the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community in response to the United States Supreme Court’s ruling on gay marriage.

Using the hashtag #BeliaTolakLGBT, which translates to “Youths against LGBT”, Pembina urged its supporters to change their Facebook profile photos to an image of a crossed-out rainbow flag, to reverse the tide of rainbow-tinged profile photos supporting the ruling.

“[The profile photo] has become a trend and is followed by non-Muslims across the world. In Islam it is clear that same sex relations are completely forbidden,” said the group, which is the student wing of Islamist group Ikatan Muslimin Malaysia (Isma).

“But what was really sad is Muslims themselves have followed the direction to support the LGBT by changing their profile pictures and showing their support under the name of freedom for the LGBT.”

Pembina also claimed it was saddened by Muslims who claimed that community must be fair towards the LGBT as Islam was supposed to be a blessing for all mankind.

Last week, the US joined a list of 20-odd countries that have legalised same-sex marriage, after its Supreme Court ruled that the US Constitution provides same-sex couples the right to marry.

Full report at:

http://www.themalaymailonline.com/malaysia/article/muslim-group-launches-anti-lgbt-campaign-against-rainbow-facebook-profile-p

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Get an independent to verify WSJ report on Najib, Putrajaya told

July 3, 2015

KUALA LUMPUR, July 3 ― Opposition Leader Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail today urged Putrajaya to set up an independent panel to investigate claims that US$700 million (RM2.6 billion) was funnelled into Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s personal bank accounts from state-owned 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB).

The PKR president also urged Najib issue a sworn statement to deny the allegation and publicly declare his assets following the Wall Street Journal’s report today that the funds were moved between government agencies, banks and companies before it ended up in Najib’s accounts.

“The prime minister has no other option and must wait no longer. He must immediately issue an immediate, specific and credible response to these very serious allegations.

“The prime minister must also declare his assets publicly in a sworn statement.

“KEADILAN will press for an independent inquiry into these allegations, and if necessary will seek an audience with HRH Seri Paduka Baginda Yang Di-Pertuan Agong to discuss the mechanism to enable this inquiry to take place,” Dr Wan Azizah, who is also MP for Permatang Pauh, said in a statement.

Meanwhile PKR Youth chief Nik Nazmi Nik Ahmad also called on Najib respond to the allegation immediately and challenged the prime minister to initiate legal action against WSJ or Sarawak Report if the news reports are untrue.

“AMK want Najib to respond immediately. If the WSJ and Sarawak Report claims are untrue, then it is compulsory for Najib to sue them instantly.

Full report at:

http://www.themalaymailonline.com/malaysia/article/get-an-independent-to-verify-wsj-report-on-najib-putrajaya-told

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A Malay Muslim joins New York gay parade

July 3, 2015

By Shamil Norshidi

The walk there itself is intimidating. In your mind you’re thinking: “Would people think I’m gay if I attend? Does this shirt look too pink? Why are those people staring at me?” With every step towards New York’s illustrious 5th Avenue, your paranoia grows inflamed as you hear the cheers churn louder and louder.

Standing there in the vast crowd, watching the LGBT community march downtown, your mind streams into thinking of the struggles they fought to stand where they are. Considering that the members of this generation are harsh in judging each other, it must surely take more than oneself to defy what many argue is the “natural orientation of sex.”

It’s been a historic week here in the US. With the Supreme Court ruling that same sex marriage is constitutional across all of America, the Pride Parade on Sunday was a culminating event to the sense of a changing time.

Many in Malaysia point to the historic ruling and make evidence to the dangers of abiding to a few, to the dangers of a majority losing principle, the dangers of a majority being too compromising to the demands of the minorities. Magically, the right of two men in the US marrying each other is now the rallying cry for Malay Muslims to stand strong against any who try to interfere with “our” core values.

As Muslims who actively try engaging with our surrounding community, there is perhaps a sense of being at a loss as to what to do, what to think of the Supreme Court ruling. The Quran clearly shows distaste towards homosexual relations. To quote from Surah al-A’raf, the Prophet Lut, upon whom be peace, asks his people: “How could you commit these indecent acts such as none in all the worlds has committed before you? Indeed, you lust after men instead of women. Truly you are a people transgressing beyond bounds.”

Yet at same time, looking at how we in Malaysia demonize and prosecute the LGBT community, the sense of compassion and care that Islam prioritizes above all else seems absent. Politicians on both sides of the table have called gays a “disease to our community” whilst certain states are considering stoning or death as punishment for homosexual activity. But surely, Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), who showed compassion for the Qurayza Jews in Medina even when they had continuously betrayed him in battle, would disagree to our unfiltered boiling hate towards the LGBTs in Malaysia.

In 2013, a state sponsored play named “Asmara Songsang” (Abnormal Desire) toured around Kuala Lumpur featuring gays and lesbians as “predatory deviants who recruit straight teenagers into their club and force them to forsake religion.” According to the play, the lifestyle of gays included periodic loud parties, repetitive casual sex, drug abuse and criminal activity. Here, the sense of fear mongering and baseless generalization cannot be more clear. Taken differently, it’d be like a play depicting Malays as the lazy uneducated and we should all be convinced of that. We call ourselves a tolerant Muslim nation, yet is it truly the way of the Prophet to make up stories about the LGBT community?

I have numerous friends that are openly gay, yet I wouldn’t for a second try forcing them to give up their ways or call for their imprisonment for what they choose to be. It is perhaps the higher test that Allah has given us to engage with ones we don’t align with, with those who share different beliefs from our own and to refrain from barbaric instincts of stoning or even firing water canons at them (as Turkey did recently).

Is it right to state Islam’s opposition to same sex marriage? Yes. But demonizing the LGBT community in Malaysia is perhaps the ultimate proof of how weak our personal identification with Islam truly is, an inability to explore the other opinion, the other perspective, whilst our own core values are still intact.

Full report at:

http://www.freemalaysiatoday.com/category/highlight/2015/07/03/a-malay-muslim-joins-new-york-gay-parade/

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M’sians baulk at more Bangladeshi working here

July 3, 2015

KUALA LUMPUR: The government’s move to bring in 50,000 Bangladeshi workers into the job market within the next six months and eventually 1.5 million, has not gone down well with some Malaysians.

The move is apparently to meet perceived labour shortages but a contractor interviewed by the Rakyat Post said the presence of a large foreign labour force in the country had led to Malaysians finding it difficult to land jobs.

Unscrupulous employers would rather pay low wages and no employment benefits to foreign workers rather than pay mandatory minimum wages and benefits to locals. There was already a large pool of workers in Malaysia.

According to the government, there are 2.07 million legal foreign workers in the country while official and unofficial estimates point to 2.2 million illegal and undocumented foreign workers as well.

It is also estimated that one in six foreign workers in Malaysia is from Bangladesh.

“Maybe the government should take a look at the Rohingyas who are already in Malaysia,” suggested contractor Mohd Saiful Rahman in a report carried by the news portal yesterday.

Saiful said the Rohingyas needed jobs more than the Bangladeshis, and they could instead be employed after they had been given job-specific training.

Deputy Human Resource Minister Ismail Abd Muttalib had however said in June that his ministry had no plans to allow Rohingya migrants registered with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees to work in the country for it could encourage another wave of illegal immigrants arriving at our shores.

The government is willing to spend thousands of Ringgit to bring in the foreign workers but many unscrupulous Malaysian employers are not willing to pay Malaysian workers who have more skills, said Saiful.

In addition, foreign workers pay a large fee to private companies given the licence to bring in workers.

Full report at:

http://www.freemalaysiatoday.com/category/nation/2015/07/03/msians-baulk-at-more-bangladeshi-workers-working-here/

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National scene: RI ‘too religious’ for gay marriage

July 03 2015

Religious Affairs Minister Lukman Hakim Saifuddin has said that same-sex marriage is unacceptable in Indonesia because of the religiousness of its citizens.

“I think it’s something difficult to allow in a country like Indonesia. Indonesia has a very religious society. The state and society perceive marriage as not only a civil affair,” he said on Thursday as quoted by Antara news agency.

Lukman said that Indonesian people see marriage as a sacred thing and a part of religious ritual. Hence, as religions have forbidden homosexuality, same-sex marriage cannot be accepted.

Full report at:

http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2015/07/03/national-scene-ri-too-religious-gay-marriage.html

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Pakistan

 

Minister for Spreading Islam’s Message of Peace, Brotherhood

July 03, 2015

Islamabad - Information Minister Senator Pervaiz Rashid on Thursday asked Radio Pakistan to comprehensively spread Islam’s message of peace, security and brotherhood.

Senator Pervaiz Rashid and Minister for Planning and Development Ahsan Iqbal inaugurated Radio Pakistan’s Sautul Quran Network at National Broadcasting House.

Speaking at the ceremony, Pervaiz Rashid said broadcasting recitation of the Holy Quran is a great service but it is all the more important to spread Islam’s true message.

He said apart from good voices from around the globe, Radio Pakistan should particularly focus on encouraging local Qura by giving them opportunity of recitation on Sautul Quran.

Pervaiz Rashid said those who have the understanding of Islam and its message should also be afforded opportunity to spread this message far and away.

The information minister said that he would support both the demands for pay raise and housing scheme. He ensured the employees that government would revise their pay scales and enhance their salaries like other government institutions. He said, nobody can deny the services of Radio Pakistan in different sectors including education, health and agriculture.

He expressed gratitude of Ahsan Iqbal for extending fullest cooperation for launching of Sautul Quran network of Radio Pakistan.

In his address, Ahsan Iqbal said resolve of the Government to establish Sautul Quran FM network in every district of the country. He said under instructions of the Prime Minister there would be no constraints of funds for the noble mission that Radio Pakistan has undertaken.

Full report at:

http://nation.com.pk/islamabad/03-Jul-2015/minister-for-spreading-islam-s-message-of-peace-brotherhood

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Terrorism incidents drop by 64pc in KP: SAW report

MANZOOR ALI

03 Jul 2015

PESHAWAR: Incidents of terrorism across Khyber Pakhtunkhwa have dropped by 64 per cent during the first quarter of ongoing year compared to the corresponding period of last year, reveals KP Militancy Report 2015, compiled by the Strategy and Analysis Wing of provincial home department.

The report for the first quarter of 2015 – January to March – shows a considerable improvement in terrorism and general crime situation. It said that targeted killings have dropped by 47 per cent, robberies by 3 per cent, kidnapping by 41 per cent and car snatching by 12 per cent. It claimed that extortion cases had come down by a whopping 77 per cent.

The Peshawar district, however, remains on top of terrorism, murder and kidnapping incidents and targeted killings, the document noted.

Mapping the real situation, it notes that 293 terrorism incidents took place during the first quarter of 2014, while the number dropped to 107 during the current year. Similarly, targeted killings dropped to 24 from 45, robberies to 32 from 33, kidnapping cases from 54 to 32, car snatching to 14 from 16, extortion to 13 from 81, the report says.

Targeted killings drop by 47pc in first quarter of 2015 compared to 2014

The number of suicide attacks has come down by 83 per cent, roadside bombings dropped by 79 per cent, mortar attacks by 80 per cent, firing by 25 per cent and hand grenade attacks by 66 per cent.

However, the ratio of murders remained the same for the period under review of both the years. Also, significant improvement was noted in case of civilian and law enforcement agencies’ casualties that have dropped by 81 and 77 per cent, respectively. The LEAs casualties dropped to 46 from 197 a year ago, while civilian casualties dropped from 544 to 103 during the period under review.

The report, however, said that the number of light arms’ attacks and targeted killings is on the rise, while IEDs, suicide attacks and hand grenade incidents have shown downward trend.

The report notes that since Sept 2014 a constant downward trend was visible which reflected success of the ongoing operations in the tribal regions and settled areas of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

The breakdown of crime data at divisional level across the province shows that the number of terrorism incidents dropped to 44 from 136 a year ago in Peshawar, nine from 20 in Mardan, nine from 36 in Kohat, seven from eight in Hazara, 21 from 46 in Dera Ismail Khan and eight from 38 in Bannu. However, the number of such incidents remained the same at nine in Malakand.

Full report at:

http://www.dawn.com/news/1192048/terrorism-incidents-drop-by-64pc-in-kp-saw-report

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Military operation in Khyber ends successfully

ISMAIL KHAN

03 Jul 2015

PESHAWAR: The military has successfully brought to a close a massive offensive in Khyber tribal region, effectively flushing out militants and blocking their crossing points on borders with Afghanistan, according to government and security officials.

But, the officials said, questions remained whether the military gains in the plains of Bara and upper reaches of Tirah valley could be sustained over a long period in the absence of administrative and auxiliary support systems.

The military formally brought Operation Khyber-2 to a close on June 15, significantly enough, on the first anniversary of Operation Zarb-i-Azb in North Waziristan.

Know more: Intense Khyber operation enters last phase

Four days later, Army Chief Gen Raheel Sharif visited the troops in Tirah to take stock of the military offensive and the gains made in the nearly three and a half month long operation.

Knowledgeable sources told Dawn that the military had gained control of strategically important areas, depriving Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan and Lashkar-i-Islam of space in one of their toughest strongholds in the tribal regions. The military, the sources said, had also taken physical control of the three passes from Afghanistan into Tirah – Mzatal, Kandao Gharibi and Dramudrad situated at 7,300 to 9,300 feet altitude above the sea level.

Two of the passes have been physically taken over by the military, while the third is under direct fire power, thus putting an end to any movement through that pass.

But the success did not come easily. The military lost more than 50 men, including officers, in the second phase of Operation Khyber, while another 100 or so were wounded.

“It was not easy,” a security official said, requesting he not be named. “The area was heavily mined,” he said. “There were mines every 15 metres. The mining was done professionally.”

In one single fight for the control of Khyber Sanghar, called the Kidney Ridge by the military due to its shape, the military lost 11 men, including a major. “It was tough,” the security official said.

Officials say that 95 per cent of the area is now under firm government control and that militants hiding in the remaining pockets of Kachkol and Rajgal are being targeted through precision strikes. “There is no way they can get in,” they said.

It is still unclear whether the military will launch the third and final phase of Khyber-2 to seize control of Rajgal and Kachkol valleys or continue to target militants and their hideouts through aerial strikes till winters in the snow-bound area to make it inhabitable for them.

Tirah Valey lies astride the Pak-Afghan border sandwiched between the famous Tora Bora mountains and the plains of Bara which connects with the provincial capital, thus giving it a unique strategic position.

Bara in particular has had security fallout on Peshawar. But the Strategy & Analysis Wing of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s home and tribal affairs department in its quarterly report on militancy noted that there had been a marked improvement in the security situation in the provincial capital.

Full report at:

http://www.dawn.com/news/1192007/military-operation-in-khyber-ends-successfully

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Significant economic progress within Pakistan’s reach, says IMF

03 Jul 2015

WASHINGTON: The International Monetary Fund (IMF) believes that significant further economic progress in Pakistan is within reach.

Real GDP is expected to grow by more than 4 per cent during this and next fiscal year. The fiscal deficit will further decline to 4.3pc of GDP in 2015-16.

Macroeconomic stabilisation in the country is well under way and the threat of a crisis has significantly receded.

The IMF report, released on Thursday, notes that Pakistan plans to undertake adequate further fiscal consolidation while structural reform efforts are continuing.

Possible potholes

The report on the seventh review under the extended arrangement and modification of performance criteria, however, also points out possible potholes that can derail the progress. “Much remains to be done to achieve a sustainable economic transformation,” it warns.

According to the report, Pakistan still lags behind other emerging market countries in key macroeconomic and business climate indicators. Economic growth remains below the 5-7pc annual rate needed to absorb new entrants into the labour market and achieve improvements in living standards for wide segments of society.

Public debt is still high and the tax-to-GDP ratio remains among the lowest in the world.

Significant reforms are needed to boost private investment, broaden the tax base, improve tax administration, ease growth bottlenecks, and enhance the economy’s productivity and competitiveness.

Private investment, including FDI and exports are still much below desired outcomes.

Electricity outages continue to be an important restraining factor for competitiveness and growth.

In addition, the appreciation of the rupee in real effective terms has been eroding Pakistan’s competitiveness.

Prudent monetary policy

The overall assessment, however, remains positive, noting that headline inflation has continued to decline, and advises Pakistan to maintain a prudent monetary policy stance to keep inflation expectations well anchored.

Pakistani authorities have made significant progress in addressing fiscal and balance-of-payments imbalances. Foreign exchange reserves are recovering fast, helped by decisive foreign exchange purchases in the context of tailwinds from lower oil prices.

Fiscal consolidation is on track, the government has reduced borrowing from the SBP, and efforts continue to diversify financing sources and lengthen debt maturities.

“The authorities should be commended for attaining all performance criteria and structural benchmarks under the programme for the seventh review, despite significant political and security challenges,” says the report.

Full report at:

http://www.dawn.com/news/1191966/significant-economic-progress-within-pakistans-reach-says-imf

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Imran takes Punjab govt to task over nephews' arrest

03 Jul 2015

In a series of inflammatory tweets on his official Twitter account, Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan on Friday took the Punjab government to task over the recent arrests of two of his nephews by Punjab police for allegedly violating traffic rules.

The PTI chief questioned the police's actions and whether traffic violations warrant such a reaction. He claimed that his nephews were mistreated "because of who they are".

Referring to the media's immediate arrival at the scene as "strange", Imran claimed that the incident was arranged. Hitting out at Punjab's police force, Khan said that "Punjab police have become Gullus".

Vouching for his nephews as "decent youngsters", Imran expressed his satisfaction over their upbringing. He also said that his nephews did not use their relationship with Imran Khan for their own vested interests.

The PTI chief said that it was "shameful" how Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif had called his sister as he is responsible for his province's police and turning it into a "monster force".

Imran said that he will pursue this case to "expose" the Punjab government which, he alleged, is using its police force for political victimisation.

Read: Imran Khan's nephew arrested in Lahore

Two nephews of Imran were arrested on Wednesday from Lahore's Race Course area after they allegedly hurled abuses at a traffic warden who stopped them for violating traffic rules. They were released on bail on Thursday. A case was registered against the two for "threatening to kill" and "obstructing the job" of a government official.

Also read: Imran Khan's nephews released on bail

Khan's nephews were released on bail with a surety bond of Rs 50,000 each, as their lawyer had claimed all sections are bailable offenses. The lawyer had alleged that the accused were tortured while in police custody. A magistrate had ordered a medical examination to verify the claims.

Full report at:

http://www.dawn.com/news/1192075/imran-takes-punjab-govt-to-task-over-nephews-arrest

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Irregularities don’t prove rigging, says PML-N counsel

NASIR IQBAL

03 Jul 2015

ISLAMABAD: The PML-N contended on Thursday that Form XV going missing from different constituencies across the country did not necessarily indicate a deliberate pattern of systematically rigging the 2013 general elections on part of the presiding officers.

Similarly, the decision to print ballot papers in excess of the total number of votes in certain constituencies was not a political decision but an administrative one. It may have been wrong, but it does not demonstrate any mal-intent or a deliberate attempt to manipulate the elections, argued PML-N counsel Shahid Hamid.

Offering a defence against allegations levelled by the PTI, Mr Hamid asked the three-judge inquiry commission — headed by Chief Justice Nasir-ul-Mulk — to issue strict guidelines to prevent such irregularities from happening in future elections.

Talking about the role of the judiciary in the conduct of these elections, Mr Hamid regretted that the judiciary had been made controversial, attacked and savaged. It was quite hurtful when the PML-Q counsel “abused” the role of the ROs.

He also referred to the ECP’s Sept 2012 meeting with 16 political parties, including the PML-N, PTI, PML-Q, who appreciated the commission’s open-door policy aimed at making the electoral process more transparent. It was only after agreement at this meeting that the National Judicial Policy Making Committee allowed judicial officers to be borrowed by ECP to conduct the elections.

Former chief justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry later agreed to appoint judicial officers as ROs after ensuring that political parties have complete confidence in them.

During proceedings, the chief justice asked the counsel to read the speech, made by the former chief justice before the ROs, which was attacked by the PML-Q counsel, though the attack was later rescinded.

When the speech was read out by Mr Hamid, it emerged that the former chief justice had said nothing unusual or illegal in his address.

Mr Hamid stressed that judicial officers never had any ulterior motives and no evidence was produced to establish that the ROs manipulated the elections, save for horrifying allegations that were levelled without evidence. “We can safely conclude that no illegality can be attributed to the ROs,” the counsel concluded.

Mr Hamid explained that the percentage of missing Form XV, retrieved after election bags were opened on the directions of the commission, was 42.5 per cent in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa; 45.9 per cent in Sindh, 48 per cent in Balochistan and only 28.8 per cent in Punjab. This, he said, did not reflect a deliberate pattern aimed to rig the elections, adding that Punjab’s record was much better than any of the other provinces.

Referring to the decision to leave the number of ballots to be printed up to the ROs’ discretion, Mr Hamid said that this was actually a wise move by the provincial election commissioner of Punjab, since ROs reduced the overall estimated number of ballots to be printed to 52 million from the originally estimated 53.2 million.

Besides, he argued, the that ROs from 11 constituencies — who had appeared before the commission — had admitted that they did not distribute all the ballot papers, rather excess quantities were inventoried and then deposited with the treasury.

He said that a total of 177 million ballots were printed against an initial assessment of around 182 million.

Full report at:

http://www.dawn.com/news/1192006/irregularities-dont-prove-rigging-says-pml-n-counsel

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Police save Christian couple from mob

July 03, 2015

LAHORE - Police in Pakistan saved a Christian couple from a Muslim mob who were attempting to lynch them for allegedly committing blasphemy, and later arrested a cleric for inciting the violence, a senior officer said Thursday.

The incident, which took place in the village of Makki in Punjab on Tuesday, represents a rare successful intervention by authorities in a country where even unproven allegations of blasphemy can result in a bloody death at the hands of vigilantes.

Sohail Zafar Chattha, the district police chief, told AFP the illiterate Christian couple had obtained an old panaflex advertisement awning which contained the names and slogans of various colleges, which they were using as a mat to sleep on in their home.

Arabic inscriptions, allegedly from the Holy Quran, were found among the colleges’ slogans, leading one local barber as well as two clerics to accuse the couple of committing blasphemy.

“Muslims of the town gathered there and dragged the poor couple who didn’t know what they had done. They were being beaten to death,” Chattha wrote on Facebook.

“Police intervened in time and rescued the couple from the mob and shifted them to Lahore and handed over them to the elders of Christian community,” he later told AFP.

Police have arrested one of the clerics while the other and the barber remain at large, he said. Some residents interviewed by the police said the barber may have been interested in obtaining the couple’s house.

Pakistan’s tough blasphemy laws, which carry the death sentence, are often invoked against minorities and the poor by those wishing to settle personal scores, according to rights groups.

Nadeem Anthony, a Christian human rights lawyer, hailed the police action. “It is a positive development that the police is taking its duty seriously and protecting the accused in such cases,” he said, adding he could recount three other instances where authorities had stepped in in time.

Full report at:

http://nation.com.pk/national/03-Jul-2015/police-save-christian-couple-from-mob

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Pak-Afghan anti-terror cooperation continuing

July 03, 2015

ISLAMABAD - Foreign Office spokesperson Qazi Khalilullah Thursday hinted at the possibility of an interaction between Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi on the sidelines of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) summit in Russian city of Ufa this month.

“No side has contacted the other for a meeting so far. However, in any multilateral setting meetings among heads of states and governments is a normal feature,” the spokesperson told a weekly media briefing.

Commenting on Pakistan and Afghanistan’s bilateral relations in the wake of recent remarks by President Ashraf Ghani, the spokesperson reaffirmed Pakistan’s commitment to good relations with Afghanistan for peace and stability in the region. “The remarks attributed to the Afghan president are factually incorrect. Pakistan will continue to support an Afghan-led and Afghan-owned peace and reconciliation process,” he added.

He said a peaceful, stable and prosperous Afghanistan is in Pakistan’s best interest. Noninterference in internal affairs of Afghanistan is the key pillar of Pakistan’s policy. He said the two sides are constructively engaged to rebuild mutual trust and understanding.

The spokesman asserted Pakistan condemns terrorism in all its forms. Both Pakistan and Afghanistan are cooperating to counter terrorism.

About the presence of Pakistan’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations Maleeha Lodhi in Islamabad, he said she is in the federal capital for routine consultations. Broad range of issues of Pakistan’s interests at the United Nations is being discussed in these consultations.

Full report at:

http://nation.com.pk/national/03-Jul-2015/pak-afghan-anti-terror-cooperation-continuing

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South Asia

 

12 Qaeda militants held in Bangladesh, weapons found

July 03, 2015

HAKA : Bangladesh security forces have arrested 12 suspected militants, including the chief of the al Qaeda in Indian Subcontinent (AQIS), which claimed responsibility for two killings this year of bloggers critical of religious extremism.

The 12 were arrested in overnight raids in different parts of Dhaka, said Maksudul Alam, a deputy director of the anti-terrorism Rapid Action Battalion.

Mainul Islam, the AQIS chief coordinator in Bangladesh, and his top adviser, Zafar Amin, were among the 12.

“Explosives, bomb-making materials, sharp weapons and training manuals were recovered from them,” Alam said.

AQIS is an Al Qaeda affiliate for militant activities in South Asia.

Three online critics of religious extremism in the Muslim-majority nation have been hacked to death this year by machete-wielding attackers in Bangladesh.

AQIS has claimed responsibility for two of the killings, including that of U.

Full report at:

http://nation.com.pk/international/03-Jul-2015/12-qaeda-militants-held-in-bangladesh-weapons-found

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Bangladesh police arrest 'top Qaeda militant'

03 Jul 2015

DHAKA: Bangladesh police said Thursday they had arrested 12 suspected militants including the local head of Al Qaeda's branch in the region, foiling an attack planned for the end of the Islamic holy month of Ramazan.

The Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) also seized explosives and other bomb-making materials during raids on Wednesday, July 2, on the militants' hideouts in the capital Dhaka, spokesman Major Maksudul Alam said.

"During the raids we arrested 12 militants including Maolana Mainul Islam who is the chief coordinator of AQIS in Bangladesh," RAB's Alam told AFP.

Al Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent (AQIS) had been planning an unspecified attack in the Muslim-majority nation after Eidul Fitr, which celebrates the end of Ramazan, Commander Mufti Mahmud Khan, the most senior RAB spokesman, told reporters.

“They've selected a madrassa in (the northern district of) Bogra for training,” he said, adding that the group was financed by individuals from Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates.

AQIS has claimed responsibility for the murder of several secular bloggers in Bangladesh this year, including the hacking to death of Bangladeshi-born US citizen Avijit Roy in Dhaka in February.

Full report at:

http://www.dawn.com/news/1191871/bangladesh-police-arrest-top-qaeda-militant

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Afghanistan summons Pak envoy over border clash

BAQIR SAJJAD SYED

03 Jul 2015

ISLAMABAD: Afghan­istan summoned on Thurs­day Pakistan’s ambassador over a border clash prompted by construction of a gate by Pakistan at the transit point.

Ambassador Abrar Huss­ain was summoned over a clash on Tuesday in which an Afghan guard was killed after Pakistani troops retaliated to Afghan firing at the under-construction gate in Angoor Adda bordering Afghanistan. Two Pakistani troops were injured in the clash.

Afghanistan claims that the construction activity was in violation of the mutual understandings and its forces were authorised to take action for preventing such activity.

Afghan deputy foreign minister Hekmat Khalil Karzai told Ambassador Hussain that the violation by Pakistan was against international and diplomatic norms. He warned that continued work on the gate could seriously harm ties.

Full report at:

http://www.dawn.com/news/1192019/afghanistan-summons-pak-envoy-over-border-clash

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Hajj expenses reduced by $10 million this year

By ZABIHULLAH MOOSAKHAIL

Jul 02 2015

Hajj expenses have reduced by $10 million this year, Minister of Hajj and Religious Affairs said on Thursday.

Faiz Mohammad Osmai told a news conference in Kabul that the round ticket to Saudi Arabia for performing Hajj was $2700 last year but this year it will be $2450.

Osmani further said that good accommodation have been arranged for 24,000 Afghan Hajis in Saudi where Afghan meal will be served three times a day. He said this is first time that Afghan Hajis will receive Afghan meals three times a day

The Hajj and Religious Affairs Minister added that food contracts have been signed with two reputed companies that have previously worked for Turkey, Indonesia and Iran.

Previously Hajis would carry the Zam Zam water from Saudi Arabia to Afghanistan with them in Planes but Osmani said this year the Zam Zam water is going to be distributed among Hajis in Afghanistan.

Full report at:

http://www.khaama.com/hajj-expanses-reduced-by-10-million-this-year-3589

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Pakistani envoy summoned over cross-border shelling

By ZABIHULLAH MOOSAKHAIL

Jul 02 2015

Afghanistan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Thursday summoned Pakistan’s ambassador in Kabul and formally protested to him the border violation and cross-border shelling of his country’s forces in Paktika province.

Hikmat Khalil Karzai, the Deputy Foreign Minister while expressing serious concern over the incident told Pakistani ambassador that such actions could damage ties between the two nations.

Full report at:

http://www.khaama.com/pakistani-envoy-summoned-over-cross-border-shelling-3588

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Indian Govt's move to prevent cattle trafficking starves Bangladesh of beef

Reuters, Ghojadanga

Jul 03, 2015

Some 30,000 Indian soldiers guarding the border with Bangladesh have a new mandate under Prime Minister Narendra Modi's government this year - stop cattle from crossing illegally into the neighbouring country.

Roughly every other night, troops armed with bamboo sticks and ropes wade through jute and paddy fields and swim across ponds to chase ageing bovines, and smugglers, headed for markets in Bangladesh.

About 2 million head of cattle are smuggled into Bangladesh annually from India. The $600 million-a-year trade has flourished over the past four decades and is considered legal by Dhaka.

Modi's government, however, wants to put an end to it.

Union home minister Rajnath Singh travelled this spring to the frontier with Bangladesh, calling on the Border Security Force (BSF) to halt cattle smuggling completely so that the "people of Bangladesh give up eating beef", media reported at the time.

"Killing or smuggling a cow is equivalent to raping a Hindu girl or destroying a Hindu temple," said Jishnu Basu, an RSS spokesperson in West Bengal, which shares a 2,216 km border with Bangladesh.

Beef prices up, exports down

So far this year, BSF soldiers have seized 90,000 cattle and caught 400 Indian and Bangladeshi smugglers.

Bangladeshi traders who operate auctions to facilitate the sale of cattle to slaughter houses, beef processing units, tanneries and bone crushing factories estimate the industry contributed 3% to the country's $190 billion economy.

The hit to GDP from government's policies is not yet known. But HT Imam, a political adviser to Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, said there was "absolutely no doubt" that the beef trade and leather industry were suffering.

Syed Hasan Habib of Bengal Meat, Bangladesh's top beef exporter, said it had to cut international orders by 75%. The company exports 125 tonnes of beef a year to Gulf countries.

He said the price of cows had gone up by 40% over the past six months because of India's move, and they had been forced to close two processing units.

Habib plans to import cows from Nepal, Bhutan and Myanmar to meet domestic demand, but he said Indian cows had better quality meat and raw hide.

Bangladesh Tanners Association president Shaheen Ahmed said 30 of 190 tanneries had suspended work due to lack of hides, and about 4,000 workers were jobless.

A senior official in India's home ministry said Bangladesh should find new sources of beef because India would stick to its stance.

Cow protection force

India is home to 300 million cattle and is the world's largest beef exporter and fifth-biggest consumer.

But since BJP came to power last year, the rhetoric on cow protection and the beef ban has increased.

Full report at:

http://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/govt-s-move-to-prevent-cattle-trafficking-starves-bangladesh-of-beef/article1-1365446.aspx

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Mideast

 

Political Analyst Describes Iran as Iraq, Syria's Efficient Supporter in Fight against ISIL

Jul 02, 2015

"The meeting completes the coordinating meetings held among Iran, Iraq and Syria in the war on the ISIL," Hashem al-Haboubi told FNA on Thursday.

Noting that national security status of Iraq and Syria is interrelated to a great extent, he said, "Iran has played an effective and influential role in assisting Syria and Iraq in fight against terrorism."

Haboubi underscored that campaign against the ISIL terrorist group needs cooperation among all the world states.

Iranian Interior Minister Abdolreza Rahmani Fazli announced in June that Tehran, Damascus and Baghdad would hold a trilateral meeting to discuss ways to intensify campaign on terrorism.

"A trilateral meeting among Iran, Syria and Iraq is due to be held in Baghdad," Rahmani Fazli said in a joint press conference with his Syrian counterpart Mohammad Ibrahim al-Shaar in Tehran.

Noting that the three countries are pioneering in resistance against Israel and fighting against terrorism, violence and extremism, he stressed that they should further expand their cooperation.

"We hope that the trilateral meeting will be a prelude to the joint activities of the regional Islamic states on the issues that they share similar views and we will witness holding multilateral meeting among different Islamic countries," Rahmani Fazli said.

Iranian officials have always called for collective efforts of all countries to help resolve the ongoing crises in Iraq and Syria, and stressed Tehran's continued assistance to these states.

Also this month, Iranian Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani underlined that the country's assistance to the regional states, including Iraq and Syria, in fighting the terrorist groups will save future generations from death and misery.

"We fight against terrorism in Iraq and Syria today but believe that this fight will have its fruits for the future of humanity since today the problem of terrorism is not merely related to one country and is an issue related to all humans," Larijani said in a joint press conference with Speaker of the Syrian People's Assembly Mohammad Jihad al-Laham in Tehran.

He expressed the hope that the Syrian government and nation would succeed in fighting the savage and adventurous streams, and said, "Of course Iran has always helped the regional states on their path of campaign against terrorism."

Larijani voiced regret over the powerful countries' attempts to create problems for the Syrian people in the past 4 years, and said, "The Syrian people's resistance has prevented the plots of these countries from achieving their goals."

Full report at:

http://english.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13940411000836

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Ankara concerned about new refugee influx after ISIL gains

July 3 2015

The latest military advances of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) near the Turkish border could trigger a new influx of refugees, which Turkey would be unable to handle, a high-level official said July 2.

In addition to the refugee influx, the probability of a ferocious terrorist organization taking control of a region right across a key border crossing has also intensified plans to provide military support to the Free Syrian Army in the fighting against ISIL. In addition to intensified talks with Washington for joint action, the government is continuing to work on a road map that includes phased measures designed to prevent further ISIL advances.

While the Democratic Union Party (PYD) of Syrian Kurds could also emerge as a rational player, Turkey remains doubtful about its reliability due to concerns that its actions could trigger further ethnic tension between Arabs and Kurds. “We would be extremely concerned if the PYD was tempted exploit its ability to fight ISIL by committing ethnic cleansing, which carries the potential of long-term ethnic contention,” said the official.

The latest alarming developments on Turkey’s borders took a critical turn in the last week of March, which saw the fall of Idlib from the regime’s control. In a meeting between regime officials and ISIL, the latter was told that the area north of Aleppo would be left into its control. Supported with aerial bombing by Bashar al–Assad’s air force, ISIL was able to advance and approach Turkey’s border from Karkamis (Jarablus) to Öncüpınar (closer to Azez), one of the nine crossing points that has started ring alarm bells.

As the Free Syrian Army does not look strong enough to keep its hold on the region, which covers a population of nearly 3.5 million people, Turkey’s concerns about a new wave of refugees have peaked. Already host to 2 million refugees, Turkish officials said they would be unable to handle such a new huge influx.

Full report at:

http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/ankara-concerned-about-new-refugee-influx-after-isil-gains.aspx?pageID=238&nID=84895&NewsCatID=510

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Car bomb explodes near Yemeni mosque in downtown Sanaa

2 July 2015

A car bomb exploded near a mosque in the downtown area of the Yemeni capital on Thursday, causing casualties, witness said.

They said the blast occurred near the headquarters of the central bank but the target was the nearby mosque. They gave no details on whether the casualties were wounded or killed.

Meanwhile, the United Nations has alerted aid groups to be prepared for a possible humanitarian pause in fighting in Yemen, starting as early as Friday, that would allow them to deliver assistance to some of the 21 million people in need.

A Saudi Arabia-led coalition of Arab states has been bombing the Iranian-allied Houthi militia since late March in a bid to restore to power Yemen’s elected president, who is backed by neighboring Saudi Arabia and has fled to Riyadh.

A senior U.N. aid official in Yemen wrote in an email to aid groups, sent on Wednesday and seen by Reuters, that U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon “is calling for the pause to start as soon as this Friday, 3 July.” U.N. special envoy Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed is currently in Jeddah to meet with Saudi officials, the U.N. said.

Full report at:

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2015/07/02/Car-bomb-targeting-Yemeni-mosque-explodes-in-downtown-Sanaa.html

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Palestinian Authority arrests 100 Hamas members in West Bank

3 July 2015

Palestinian Authority forces arrested over 100 Hamas members in the West Bank who were planning on carrying out attacks, a Palestinian official said, in the biggest raid of its kind in years.

Spokesman for Palestinian security, Adnan Dameri said “We will not let Hamas undermine our security and draw our country to bloodshed, we will not let Hamas carry out attacks in the West Bank.”

It was the biggest mass arrest in one night since 2007 when Palestinians split after the Islamic militant group Hamas violently ousted forces loyal to President Mahmoud Abbas from Gaza, leaving him governing just parts of the West Bank.

Hamas spokesman Husam Badran said in a statement the arrests were meant to stop the recent spate of deadly Palestinian attacks against Israelis.

He accused Palestinian security forces of working for Israel and said the militant group holds Abbas personally responsible. Hamas will continue attacks against Israelis in the West Bank, he said.

Full report at:

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2015/07/03/Palestinian-Authority-arrests-100-Hamas-members-in-West-Bank.html

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Chinese restaurant in Turkey attacked after diplomatic spat

2 July 2015

A Chinese restaurant in Istanbul was attacked on Wednesday and had its windows smashed by a group protesting against China’s suppression of its Muslim Uighur minority.

The owner of the restaurant, Cihan Yavuz - who is Turkish and investing his life savings in the restaurant, and even employs an Uighur cook - said the attack was baseless.

Yavuz told the local Hurriyet daily that “only a tiny portion of our customers are made up of Chinese customers. We do not serve alcoholic drinks. Although we work with Muslims, an attack like this has occurred.”

Recalling the attack, Yavuz said that six attackers had told them to leave the neighborhood, shouting “We do not want a Chinese restaurant here.”

The eatery, called “Happy China,” will be closing down.

The attack comes during the same week of a spat between the Turkish and Chinese government over Ankara’s protestations that China’s Uighur minority was being suppressed by authorities.

Uighurs complain that the officially atheistic ruling Communist Party forbids fasting by party members, civil servants, teachers and students during Ramadan. Children are also banned from attending mosques, women from wearing veils and young men from growing beards.

On Tuesday, the Turkish Foreign Ministry said Turkey’s concerns about the restrictions had been relayed to the Chinese ambassador.

In response, Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said Wednesday that Beijing had expressed its concerns to Turkey’s government. She says Beijing demanded that Ankara clarify the matter.

Full report at:

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2015/07/02/Chinese-restaurant-in-Turkey-attacked-after-diplomatic-spat.html

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Turkey fortifies Syria border, PM says no incursion

3 July 2015

Turkey has deployed additional troops and equipment along part of its border with Syria as fighting north of the city of Aleppo intensifies, security sources said, but Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said there were no immediate plans for any incursion.

Security sources and officials in Ankara said the Turkish army had stepped up security, sending additional equipment and soldiers including special forces in recent days, due to heavy fighting in the countryside north of Aleppo.

Syrian insurgents led by Islamist groups began a major offensive to gain full control of the divided northern city, a monitor and rebels said on Thursday, a move which would be a major blow for President Bashar al-Assad.

“It’s correct that we have taken precautions to protect our border. If there’s any circumstance across the border that threatens Turkish security, orders to act have been given,” Davutoglu told broadcaster Kanal 7 late on Thursday.

“(But) no one should have the expectation that Turkey will enter Syria tomorrow or in the near term,” he said.

Some media had speculated that an imminent cross-border operation was being planned.

“If anything occurred that were to threaten Turkish security, we wouldn’t wait for tomorrow, we would go right in. But it’s wrong to expect that Turkey would undertake such a unilateral intervention in the immediate term if there is no such risk,” Davutoglu said.

The sound of intense fighting, including explosions, could be heard from the Turkish border town of Kilis late on Thursday, about 50 kilometers north of the Syrian city of Azaz, witnesses said.

Full report at:

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2015/07/03/PM-Turkey-fortifies-Syria-border-no-incursion-planned.html

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China sees ‘high possibility’ of Iran nuclear deal

2 July 2015

China’s foreign minister said Thursday that he sees a “high possibility” of Iran and major powers agreeing a nuclear deal, but said all sides need to make “positive efforts.”

“Hopefully a consensus can be reached among the parties. All parties concerned need to work together to uphold the international non-proliferation regime and help deliver a solution to this long-standing nuclear issue,” Wang Yi said.

“All parties need to make positive efforts,” Wang told reporters through an interpreter as he arrived at talks in Vienna.

He added: “We have confidence that finally the parties concerned will arrive at a fair, balanced and just agreement... I think there is high possibility.”

Iran and the P5+1 group -- China, the United States, Russia, Britain, France and Germany -- are seeking to finalize a framework accord, and this week they effectively set a new deadline of July 7 to do so.

Full report at:

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2015/07/02/China-sees-high-possibility-of-Iran-nuclear-deal-.html

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Russia confident about conclusion of Iran nuclear deal

Jul 3, 2015

Russia has expressed confidence that Iran and the P5+1 group can strike a final deal over Tehran’s nuclear program in the coming days.

"I can't predict how many hours it will take to resolve this situation. But all parties are of the opinion that this matter will be resolved in the coming days," Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said on Thursday.

The Russian diplomat’s remarks come as Tehran and the five permanent members of the UN Security Council – the United States, France, Britain, China and Russia - plus Germany are holding talks to finalize the text of a possible deal over the Islamic Republic’s nuclear program.

"We are sure that the deal will be reached and that it will be comprehensive," added Ryabkov, who is the Russian senior negotiator.

He said that all delegations present in the ongoing talks in the Austrian capital of Vienna are “determined” to strike a deal by the extended deadline of July 7.

Ryabkov also claimed that the text of a possible final deal over Tehran’s nuclear activities is "91 percent finished."

The Russian diplomat also expressed hope that relations between Moscow and Tehran will further grow after the conclusion of a final nuclear deal.

The US delegation led by Secretary of State John Kerry (3rd L) meets the Iranian team headed by Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif (3rd R) on July 2, 2015, in Vienna, Austria, as part of the nuclear talks.

Full report at:

http://www.presstv.in/Detail/2015/07/03/418551/Iran-nuclear-deal-Russia-Ryabkov

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Road Minister: Tehran, Paris Agree to Renovate Iran's Air Fleet

Jul 02, 2015

"We are trying to renovate the country's air fleet quickly," Akhoundi told reporters in the Northwestern city of Ardebil on Thursday morning.

"I had a trip to France and some consultations and agreements were made in this regard, there will be some good news for the people in this regard in the near future," he added.

In a relevant development in June, Akhoundi and his French counterpart Sylvia Panel in a meeting in Paris discussed ways to expand relations between the two countries in building cities and houses.

Full report at:

http://english.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13940411000878

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Supreme Leader Raps Hegemonic Powers' Media Silence on Yemen, Gaza, Lebanon

Jul 02, 2015

"The world media which are under the US, Britain and the Zionists's hegemony and sometimes create a propaganda tumult over an animal's death, are flagrantly silent on … these days' (Saudi-led) bombing against Yemen and the last years' (Israeli) aggression against Gaza and Lebanon," Ayatollah Khamenei said, addressing a group of professors of Persian poetry and literature, cultural figures and young and veteran poets on Wednesday night.

A number of poets from India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Tajikistan and Azerbaijan were also among the visitors.

Full report at:

http://english.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13940411000391

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Europe

 

French rabbi hits the road to build Jewish-Muslim ties

Elizabeth Bryant | July 2, 2015

LA COURNEUVE, France (RNS) Drivers slow down to stare at the tall figure in a black bowler hat and snow-white beard. “Just the other day, I was called a dirty Jew,” Michel Serfaty is telling a Muslim man. “Now, you’re going to say it isn’t so.”

The man indeed begins to protest — that the remarks are shameful but don’t reflect the sentiments of many Muslims. The two are standing near the glass-fronted headquarters of the Union of Islamic Organizations of France, or UOIF, a popular and conservative association with ties to Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood. Men are trickling in for prayer on a sunny afternoon.

It’s a strange place to find a rabbi. But Serfaty is not your ordinary rabbi.

For the past decade, Moroccan-born Serfaty has toured France in a beat-up minibus plastered with slogans such as “Solidarity between Jews and Muslims” and “We’re more alike than you think.”

He’s met with Palestinians in Gaza and taken French imams to Auschwitz. But mostly he wades into tough French neighborhoods, striking up conversations with Muslim leaders, students and even drug dealers. Dialogue is what Serfaty’s Jewish-Muslim Friendship Association is all about.

“When we go to some neighborhoods and hear the blackest things about Jews, we’re not there to correct them,” he said. “We’re there to listen and to get people to talk.”

Since the Paris shootings in January — and the gruesome Islamist attack near Lyon on Friday (June 26) — the rabbi’s work has taken a new urgency.

Fears of militant Islam have added new tensions to Jewish and Muslim relations in France, which are already strained by events in the Middle East and anti-Semitism at home. Indeed, the number of anti-Semitic acts recorded by Jewish authorities doubled to more than 850 in 2014, compared with the previous year. Too often, experts say, the authors are young Muslims. 

“The state has done nothing for years to improve things,” Serfarty said. “During that time, I’ve gone to all the tinderboxes. I’ve heard the harshest things, but I’ve never had any incident.

“Which means that even with delinquents, there is the possibility of dialogue, of a handshake and a smile.”

The Star of David casts a neon glow on the rabbi as he speaks. Serfaty is seated in his synagogue, in the quiet Paris suburb of Ris-Orangis. A mosque and an evangelical church are just next door — a deliberate feat of urban planning to promote interfaith harmony.

But the soldiers standing watch outside point to another reality. The rabbi has round-the-clock protection since January’s terrorist attacks. In a twist of irony, Amedy Coulibaly, who gunned down four Jews at a kosher supermarket, grew up just a few miles away.

But there is work to be done on both sides. Serfaty described meeting a group of Hasidic Jews in Paris. “One tells me, ‘Mr. Rabbi, you’re mistaken,’” Serfaty recounted. “‘Isaac and Ishmael (the two sons of Abraham) hated each other. And we Jews and Muslims will hate each other forever.’”

Full report at:

http://www.religionnews.com/2015/07/02/french-rabbi-hits-road-build-jewish-muslim-ties/

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Cash-strapped U.N. food agency reduces help to Syrian refugees

3 July 2015

The United Nations’ food agency is cutting back on assistance to thousands of Syrian refugees after an appeal for a ceasefire to enable Syrians feed themselves went unheeded, World Food Program Executive Director Ertharin Cousin said on Friday.

The WFP appealed in May for a humanitarian pause in fighting in Syria to let farmers harvest a bumper wheat crop in the country’s northeast, an Islamic State movement stronghold, and bring it to markets in Syria’s west, including Aleppo and Homs.

Cousin said because there was no ceasefire, the wheat is being stored at the farming belt and will likely be sold in Turkey.

“We’re very disappointed that the calls for a cease in the fighting to support the harvest was not heeded by the parties,” Cousin told The Associated Press.

“That wheat that is harvested cannot be brought across lines of conflict into the area where it is needed most by people who are suffering now into a fifth year of this conflict,” she added.

The WFP is grappling with a $193 million Syria-related funding shortfall in the next three months through September, including a $54 million shortage of donations for inside Syria, Cousin said.

The agency will halve the value of food vouchers for Syrian refugees in Lebanon to $13.50 per person per month. Some 440,000 Syrian refugees who live outside camps in Jordan would be cut off from food support, she said.

WFP also supports refugees of conflict in Iraq, Turkey and Egypt. It had already reduced assistance to 1.6 million Syrian refugees in the five countries this year.

Cousin said the funding shortfall was a combination of increasing demand and waning generosity.

Full report at:

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2015/07/03/Cash-strapped-UN-food-agency-reduces-help-to-Syrian-refugees.html

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Global Terror: France’s Islamic problem

By ZVI MAZEL

07/02/2015

With the slaughter at Charlie Hebdo and at the Hyper Cacher supermarket, France has experienced a heightened level of Islamic terrorism since the beginning of the year. Yet it is strangely reluctant to tackle the phenomenon, which threatens the whole of Europe.

In the past Islamic terrorism has mainly, but not exclusively, targeted Jews. Mohammed Merah had killed two French soldiers and wounded a third before murdering Jewish children and teachers in Toulouse.

French security services are working round the clock to prevent further attacks, meeting with little to no success. Only recently they prevented large-scale attacks on the country’s vulnerable churches.

However, with radical organizations working within the large Muslim communities, which are to be found everywhere now, and with a Muslim population estimated at six million, security services have their work cut out.

The French government has chosen a rather circuitous approach to the problem and set up a framework of dialogue with its Muslim minority – or, more precisely, with its religious leaders. The first meeting was held in Paris on June 14 – under the auspices of Prime Minister Manuel Valls and his minister of interior, Bernard Cazeneuve – with some 150 Muslim dignitaries, led by Dalil Boubakeur, president of the French Council of the Muslim Faith, whose creation in 2003 was promoted by then-president Nicolas Sarkozy.

The council has failed dismally to fulfill its intended goals – namely, promoting dialogue with non-Muslims and addressing Islamic terrorism – and has lost much of its prestige.

In the course of several seminars, the dignitaries were asked to formulate their demands, and they asked for more protection for their mosques, a stronger government response to what they called Islamophobia, the building of more mosques – 5,000 were mentioned – as well as more mundane subjects such as a greater supply of halal meat and imposing a special tax on that meat to finance building and other community needs.

On the latter point the minister of interior stated that France, being a secular country, could not do so, but would see what could be done regarding the building of mosques as well as taking steps to ensure greater security for mosques and other community infrastructures.

One of the participants suggested turning churches into mosques; the outcry was such that he quickly retreated. Yet the bishop of the city of Évry went on the record to say that he would rather see a church become a mosque than a restaurant. This readiness to forgo centuries-old traditions raised quite a few eyebrows.

Sensitive topics such as the problem of Islam in France, Islamic terrorism, the radicalization of Islamic youth and the fact that hundreds of them have joined the ranks of Islamic State were not discussed – in the words of the organizers, “in order not to insult the Muslim community.”

Full report at:

http://www.jpost.com/International/Global-Terror-Frances-Islamic-problem-407873

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URL: http://www.newageislam.com/islamic-world-news/new-age-islam-news-bureau/lucknow-shias-mediate-between-saudi-arabia-and-israel/d/103752


 

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