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Islamic World News ( 25 March 2023, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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Majority Of Hindus In India Love Me, Says Indian Fugitive And Islamic Preacher Zakir Naik during His First Lecture 'The Quran Is A Global Necessity' In Oman

New Age Islam News Bureau

25 March 2023

Zakir Naik is facing charges of spreading hate and also involved in money laundering cases. (File photo: PTI)

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• As Ramzan Begins, China’s Muslims Face Fasting Ban; Their Cultural And Religious Traditions Coming Under Attack

• Islamic Commission: Muslim Population In Spain Increased 10 Times In Last 30 Years

• A Greener Ramadan: UAE Experts Urge Muslims To Adopt Sustainable, Healthier Diets

• Muslim Man Stopped From Praying At Canada Train Station, Authorities Suspended The Employee

 

India

• Modernising Madrasas: Rajya Sabha Turns Down Resolution Seeking Special Fund

• Bihar District’s ‘Half-Day Leave’ For Staff During Ramadan Triggers Row

• Karnataka Scraps 4% Muslim Quota, Hikes Reservation ForLingayats, Vokkaligas

• 20 Muslims join Hindus to stage 'Kurukshetra' in village

• Friday prayers held peacefully in mosques across Kashmir

• In touch with Oman to get fugitive Zakir Naik: Govt

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Southeast Asia

• Johor Police Identify Individuals Involved In Video Insulting Islam, Prophet Muhammad

• ‘Imam’ And ‘Mentega Terbang’ Prove The Message Isn’t Everything When It Comes To Cinema

• DPM Zahid urges corporate firms, individuals to coordinate efforts to ensure systematic distribution of Ramadan, Raya aid

• Myanmar arrests about 150 Rohingya fleeing to Malaysia

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Europe

• Open Iftar Event Hosted At Famous London Museum

• Iran Asks France To Observe Human Rights, Avoid Violence Against Peaceful Protesters

• Sikh Officer’s Beard Cut, Bacon Put In Muslim Officer’s Boots, Says Report On Met Police

• More than two-thirds of Muslims in England, Wales live in high unemployment areas

• Türkiye condemns US human rights report for 'baseless allegations'

• Sturgeon wishes 'Ramadan Mubarak' on final appearance at Scottish parliament as first minister

• Family of UK mosque-goer set on fire demands justice

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Arab World

• Daesh Terrorists Decapitate 15 People, Kidnap Dozens Foraging For Desert Truffles In Central Syria

• Saudi King, Crown Prince inaugurate Ramadan campaign with massive donation toward Kingdom’s housing needs

• Death toll from US strikes on pro-Iran installations in Syria rises to 19 fighters

• Saudi Arabia’s Hadiyah charity to distribute at least 1.2 million meals in Ramadan

• World Food Program praises Saudi Arabia for its invaluable support

• Filipino engineers help fellow expats climb career ladder in Saudi Arabia

• Saudi Ministry of Islamic Affairs launches Ramadan gift programs in Jakarta

• Saudi Arabia launches iftar programs in Bosnia, Jordan

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North America

• Biden warns Iran after tit-for-tat strikes in Syria

• US, Saudi Arabia complete first counter-drone exercise at Red Sands testing facility

• Biden vows ‘forceful’ response to Iranian attacks on US troops in Middle East

• US strikes aimed at protecting personnel, combatting ISIS: White House

• US prepared to act 'forcefully' to protect personnel in Syria: Biden

• US forces in northeast Syria come under attack for 2nd straight day

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Pakistan

• Imran Asks People To ‘Assert Their Right’ As Free Nation And Attend Minar-i-Pakistan Rally Today

• ‘Politically savvy’ Pakistanis do not need outside advice: FO

• PTI chief only wants to talk to establishment, says Asif

• DM Asif Calls for a Comprehensive Not Transactional Dialogue With PTI

• Pakistan Gets $2bn Rollover Deposits FromChina For IMF Bailout: Report

• Pakistan Court Grants Extension Of Anticipatory Bail To Imran Khan In Five Terrorism Cases

• Balochistan MPAs want mosques, schools exempted from gas, power bills

• How will situation in October be any better, asks Imran

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South Asia

• Islamic Emirate Has Diplomats in 14 World Countries: Spokesman Mujahid

• ISIS Has Stronger Presence in Afghanistan, Top US General Says

• Claims Of IS Presence In Afghanistan Not True: Taliban's Response To The US

• US working to assist Americans who want to leave Afghanistan: Blinken

• US imposed sanctions, banking restrictions primary cause of Afghanistan’s ongoing economic crisis: Taliban

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Mideast

• 100,000 Muslims Offer 1st Ramadan Friday Prayer AtAl-Aqsa

• Hamas: Confrontation against Israel to last until al-Aqsa Mosque's liberation

• Iran: Israeli Attack on Syria Endangering Peace in Region

• Israel promotes bids for 1,000 settlement homes in West Bank, Jerusalem: Watchdog

• Rare anti-Houthi protests in Yemen after activist’s death

• Tehran Calls on Paris to Engage in Dialogue with Anti-Macron Protesters

• Iran Underlines Sovereignty over Trio Persian Gulf Islands

• Weekly protests persist in Iran’s southeast amid internet disruption

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Africa

• Ramadan: Kaduna Muslims Pray For Political Leaders, Peace In Nigeria

• African migrants stuck in Tunisia say racism persists after crackdown

• Algerian ambassador to return to France in coming days: Elysee Palace

• Algeria To Send Imams ToItaly For Taraweeh Prayers

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau

URL:  https://newageislam.com/islamic-world-news/majority-hindus-india-islamic-zakir-naik/d/129406

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Majority Of Hindus In India Love Me, Says Indian Fugitive And Islamic Preacher Zakir Naik during His First Lecture 'The Quran Is A Global Necessity' In Oman

Subodh Kumar

Mar 25, 2023

Zakir Naik is facing charges of spreading hate and also involved in money laundering cases. (File photo: PTI)

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Indian fugitive and Islamic preacher Zakir Naik, who delivered his first lecture 'The Quran is a Global Necessity' in Oman, said the majority of Hindus in India love him. According to reports, he made the remark while speaking at the Oman Convention and Exhibition Centre on Thursday, which also marks the start of the Islamic holy month of Ramadan.

“The problem is that the majority of Hindus in India love me. They love me so much that it is creating a problem for the vote bank. In India, when I do talks and meetings, there are hundreds and thousands of people, 50 million to 100 million, especially in Bihar and Kishanganj, and out of these, 20 per cent are non-Muslims," Zakir Naik said.

"When they talk to me they tell Zakir Bhai what we learned in the last two hours (in his lecture), we have not learnt after 40 hours of lectures on our religion," the Islamic preacher added.

'SIKH JUDGE FINDS NO OFFENSE IN MY SPEECHES'

At the same event, Zakir Naik recalled how a "Sikh judge", Manmohan Singh, said he found nothing ‘objectionable’ in his speeches while the ED was trying to attach his properties in 2018. In January 2018, Justice Manmohan Singh, who headed the Appellate Tribunal for PMLA (Prevention of Money Laundering Act) in New Delhi, had restrained the ED from taking over Naik's properties attached by the agency, and drew a parallel between Naik and self-styled spiritual leader AsaramBapu.

"Allhamdulillah, when a judge in the Indian court said, (when they wanted to attach all my properties) the judge was a Sikh, Manmohan Singh. Fortunately, he had seen many of my talks. He said, to the lawyer of the government, you point out one statement of Dr. Zakir Naik, in context, in any lecture where he promotes terrorism, I will attach all his property," Zakir Naik added.

"I can name 10 Babas who have properties worth more than Re 10,000 crore each and they are facing criminal cases. Have you acted against even one of them? What have you done against AsaramBapu?" Singh asked the counsel for the ED.

During his lecture in Muscat, Zakir Nair converted an Indian Hindu woman to Islam, read some lines from the Quran and asked her to repeat them, according to videos shared on social media. However, India Today cannot independently verify the authenticity of these videos.

ZAKIR NAIK TO BE DEPORTED

The Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) on Friday said that it will take all the necessary actions required to bring back radical Islamic preacher Zakir Naik and have him face justice in India.

Zakir Abdul Karim Naik, 57, currently residing in Malaysia, fled India in 2016 after his organisation Islamic Research Foundation (IRF) was banned and he was named in an FIR. In 2019, he was also banned from delivering public speeches in Malaysia. Besides India, his Peace TV network is also banned in Bangladesh, Canada, Sri Lanka and the UK.

Notably, the main accused in the November 19, 2022, Mangaluru auto blast case, Mohammed Shariq, was influenced and self-radicalised by Islamic preacher Zakir Naik's videos and shared them with other co-accused.

Karnataka Police officials had seized the mobile phone of Shariq which contained videos of Zakir Naik and his handlers used to share them, through Telegram and other platforms like Signal, Wire, Instagram and Element.

Naik’s speech is believed to have instigated the 2016 Dhaka bombing which killed 20 and the Easter 2019 bombing in Sri Lanka that killed over 250. Naik is wanted in India and Bangladesh in connection with other cases.

Source:IndiaToday

Please click the following URL to read the text of the original story:

https://www.indiatoday.in/india/story/islamic-preacher-zakir-naik-oman-lecture-hindu-woman-conversion-hindus-2351275-2023-03-25

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As Ramzan Begins, China’s Muslims Face Fasting Ban; Their Cultural And Religious Traditions Coming Under Attack

24th March 2023

Washington: As Muslims around the world prepare to begin the holy month of Ramzan, Muslims in China are facing fasting ban while their cultural and religious traditions are increasingly coming under attack, according to a media report.

Uyghurs in the northwestern region of Xinjiang are being ordered not to allow their children to fast, with the latter being quizzed by the authorities as to whether their parents are fasting, local officials and rights groups said, RFA reported.

“During Ramzan, the authorities are requiring 1,811 villages [in Xinjiang] to implement a round-the-clock monitoring system, including spot home inspections of Uyghur families,” World Uyghur Congress spokesperson DilshatRishit said, RFA reported.

During Ramzan, Muslims are called to fast during daylight hours.

China’s 11.4 million Hui Muslims close-knit ethnic Chinese communities who have maintained their Muslim faith over centuries are in danger of being erased entirely under the Communist Party’s draconian religious rules, rights groups have warned in a new report.

They have been identified by Beijing as “a threat to be resolved through forcible assimilation”, said a report from a coalition of rights groups, including the Network of Chinese Human Rights Defenders (CHRD), RFA reported.

This is in stark contrast to the relative freedom they enjoyed before President Xi Jinping launched a renewed attack on religious worship, forcing Christians, Muslims and Buddhists alike to submit to party control and censorship of their religious lives under his “sinicisation”, the report said.

“Hui community members were able to openly participate in mosque communities, Arabic schools, and for private worship, albeit under restrictions facilitated by party liaisons. Hui entrepreneurs were encouraged to develop business and tourism connections with the wider Muslim world as part of the Belt and Road Initiative,” it said, RFA reported.

China has also targeted Muslim communities with its “ethnic unity” campaign under which officials impose Han Chinese “relatives” on ethnic minority Uyghur families, who then put pressure on them to observe non-Muslim traditions, including drinking alcohol and eating pork.

“Unity” policies haven taken place in Xinjiang against the backdrop of the mass incarceration of at least 1.8 million Uyghurs and other ethnic minority Muslims in “re-education” camps, and their involvement in forced labour, as well as amid reports of the systemic rape, sexual abuse, and forced sterilization of Uyghur women in the camps, RFA reported.

Source:Siasat Daily

Please click the following URL to read the text of the original story:

https://www.siasat.com/as-ramzan-begins-chinas-muslims-face-fasting-ban-monitoring-2554413/

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Islamic Commission: Muslim Population In Spain Increased 10 Times In Last 30 Years

SenhanBolelli

24.03.2023

Secretary of the Islamic Commission of Spain said that the Muslim population living in Spain has increased 10 times in the last 30 years, exceeding 2.5 million.

Mohamed Ajana told Anadolu that according to official records, 2.5 million, and according to unofficial figures, about 3 million Muslims live in Spain.

Ajana added that the Muslim population in Spain, which was seen as purely immigrants in the past, now has an important place among Spanish citizens.

He stated that more than one million Muslims in the country are Spanish citizens, some of them are immigrants and others are of Spanish origin.

Explaining that Muslims from Morocco, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Senegal, and Algeria are in the majority, he shared the information that the majority of the Muslim population in Spain lives in industrialized regions such as Catalonia, Valencia, Andalusia, and Madrid.

Ajana also said that there are currently 53 Islamic federations serving the Muslim community in Spain, and that there are about 2,000 mosques.

He said the main problems that Muslims face are obtaining permits and licenses for the construction of mosques, the existence of only 40 Muslim cemeteries despite the increase in population, education, and Islamophobia.

Source: Anadolu Agency

Please click the following URL to read the text of the original story:

https://www.aa.com.tr/en/europe/muslim-population-in-spain-increased-10-times-in-last-30-years/2854684

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A greener Ramadan: UAE experts urge Muslims to adopt sustainable, healthier diets

24 March ,2023

Foreign visitors and residents in the UAE eat an Emirati Iftar meal during the Muslim holy fasting month of Ramadan, at Sheikh Mohammed Centre for Cultural Understanding (SMCCU) in Dubai, UAE May 17, 2019. (Reuters)

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The holy month of Ramadan is a “golden opportunity” to make a shift toward a greener, sustainable, healthier and non-wasteful lifestyle, dieticians and experts in the United Arab Emirates have said.

The holiest month on the calendar in Islam, Ramadan is observed by about 1.9 billion Muslims around the world who fast from dawn to sunset as an act of devotion and spirituality.

Elissa AbiNakhoul, clinical dietician said that Ramadan – a time for reflection – can offer Muslims a chance this year to think more about how what ends on the plate can affect the environment across the globe.

Avoid waste

“The month of Ramadan is a golden opportunity to consider making a shift towards a ‘green lifestyle’ that is environmental-friendly, non-polluting, non-wasteful and aims toward saving of natural resources,” she told Al Arabiya English. “The green lifestyle means improving the quality of life and achieving sustainable development.”

She suggested Muslims should cut down and eliminate their intake of fast food, avoid overdoing food quantities to decrease food waste after iftar and decrease the usage of plastic bottles and cutlery.

The dietician said Muslims who want to follow a greener lifestyle can increase vegetable and fruit intake – especially the seasonal and locally available ones – add more beans and lentil soup at iftar instead of chicken and meat high in saturated fat and always breaking the fast with soup and salad.

She recommends Muslims use vegetable-based oil for cooking instead of ghee, butter, and cheese, replace high-calorie sweets with dry fruits, dates and fresh fruits and replace white sugar with honey, maple syrup, date syrup and molasses.

Rejuvenate mind and body

JuliotVinoliaRajarathinam, a clinical dietitian and consultant nutritionist at Dubai’s Medeor Hospital, said Ramadan is a time for Muslims to reflect on their thoughts and actions to rejuvenate the mind and body.

“As we are evolving into people focusing on sustainable living, it is time we take responsibility for eating wisely,” she said. “Some unique tissue-healing and disease-preventing hormones and enzymes are produced only during fasting.”

These health benefits are missed when people overindulge in processed foods, refined sugars, and trans fats.

“Sustainable eating is choosing foods that are healthy and less processed with lower environmental impact, improving food security for all,” she said.

Climate-friendly meals

Rajarathinam recommends cooking “big meals” – or cooking in batches – during Ramadan, as a little pre-planning on portions can greatly reduce food wastage, food costs and greenhouse gas emissions.

Meanwhile, buying food like rice, wheat, lentils, beans, onion, garlic and spices in bulk during Ramadan sales can greatly save money and also reduce plastic waste.

“Bulk buying greatly reduces the amount of packaging material compared to buying the same product in smaller packages more frequently,” she said.

Plant-based diets reduce inflammation

She added that plant-based diets are proven to reduce inflammation and the risk of chronic diseases. They double the disease-preventing health benefits of fasting making it an “eco-friendly Ramadan,” she said.

Muslims should also reduce red meat intake and processed animal products. This can not only reduce the risk of cancer, stroke and heart disease but – according to wide-ranging studies, the red meat industry contributes to a significant amount of greenhouse gas emissions.

“Seasonal fruits and vegetables are fresh and cost-effective,” she added. “Fresh produce has more antioxidants available than preserved long-life foods. Some of the most sustainable fruits and vegetables to have while fasting are pumpkin, broccoli, tomato, carrots, sweet potato, beetroot, peas, beans, mushrooms, spinach, cabbage, apples, citrus fruits, melons, papayas, and bananas. These also do not require plastic packaging.”

Rajarathinam said eco-friendly whole grains, wild rice, oatmeal, and millets, have a good shelf life and are packed with vital nutrients that help in sustaining energy during fasting hours, are high in fiber to prevent constipation and are also budget friendly.

“Buying wisely, storing efficiently, and using healthy cooking methods incorporating traditional recipes save and revive the culture and help maintain good health,” she said. “Let’s make this Ramadan sustainable by choosing a nutritionally adequate diet, especially more plant-based, home-cooked fresh meals which are not only healthy and cost-effective but are also climate-friendly and easily decompose and nurture the soil all in line with our COP28 goals.”

Reevaluate eating habits

Ramadan provides the perfect opportunity for Muslims to re-evaluate their relationship with food, according to Pranita Anand Gavankar, a clinical dietician at Dubai’s Saudi German Hospital.

“Try to incorporate more plant-based foods rather than meats,” she said. “The meat industry demands a lot from natural resources.”

One can make a difference “by saving a few pounds of harmful carbon emissions by simply going on a plant-based diet a few days a week, helping save the planet,” the dietician said.

She suggested going for plant-based milk options such as soya milk, rice milk, and oats milk.

“Try to go for at least two to three days ‘meatless Iftars’ in a week. Furthermore, choose local produce. Local produce is not only a good source of antioxidants and beneficial nutrients but a more sustainable option,” Gavankar added.

“Finally, be careful of food packaging,” she said, urging UAE residents to shun single-use products such as plastic bottles, plastic cutleries, cling films, and aluminum foil.

“Start using reusable utensils, bottles and packaging options. It is a simple way to start,” she said. “Every individual can contribute and make a difference to the planet by adopting a sustainable and eco-friendly lifestyle.”

Source: Al Arabiya

Please click the following URL to read the text of the original story:

https://english.alarabiya.net/News/gulf/2023/03/24/Amid-climate-crisis-experts-urge-Muslims-to-have-a-sustainable-green-Ramadan

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Muslim Man Stopped From Praying At Canada Train Station, Authorities Suspended The Employee

Maroosha Muzaffar

After a Muslim man was asked by a security guard to stop praying at a train station in Canada, authorities said they have suspended the employee.

An investigation has also been launched into the “regrettable and saddening incident”, it was reported.

The Muslim man who identified himself as Ahmad told CTV news Ottawa that a security guard — subcontracted to work for Canada’s Via Rail — came up to him after he had just finished praying and said “don’t pray in here.”

The security guard can be heard saying “don’t pray in here. We don’t want you praying here. You’re bothering our other customers, OK? Pray outside next time.”

The incident took place on Monday in the Canadian capital and Mr Ahmed shared the story on Thursday last week with the media.

A video of the incident was also captured by an onlooker which later went viral and sparked outrage on social media.

The video showed the security guard telling the man that his prayers were disturbing other people at the station.

Via Rail and the National Council of Canadian Muslims, a civil rights and advocacy group, issued a joint statement saying they met to discuss the “regrettable and saddening incident”.

The statement said that they “engaged in a constructive dialogue following the regrettable and saddening incident involving a man who was praying in Via Rail’s Ottawa Station.

“The conversation focused on common objectives, namely, to ensure that Via Rail provides an inclusive environment where passengers and employees feel safe practising freedom of religion, including the ability to worship,” the statement added.

Meanwhile, Mr Ahmad said that the incident “made me feel embarrassed. I was just disgusted. Like: this is Canada? This is the nation’s capital? This is Ottawa?”

Via Rail also issued an unreserved apology to the man and the entire Muslim community and promised a full investigation and “appropriate actions” based on its findings. They also reiterated that they strongly condemn Islamophobia and any discriminatory behaviour.

Via Rail said that it is also working to improve its diversity and inclusion policies after this incident.

Source: Independent UK

Please click the following URL to read the text of the original story:

https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/canada-muslim-train-station-praying-b2307823.html

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India

 

Modernising madrasas: Rajya Sabha turns down resolution seeking special fund

24th March 2023

New Delhi: Rajya Sabha on Friday rejected a resolution which sought creation of a special fund for modernisation of madrasas in view of educational and social backwardness of Muslims, especially women.

The resolution was introduced by Indian Union Muslim League member Abdul Wahab in the Upper House of Parliament on February 10.

Speaking on the resolution, Women and Child Development and Minority Affairs Minister Smriti Irani said, “For me this resolution which casts aspersions of inequality…in fact reduces it to a slur on the basis of religion…I hope that this House unanimously rejects (it).”

“A new India cannot be broken down on the basis of religion. That is why…I would request…the entire House to unanimously reject this resolution so that we, who are building the new India under the leadership of the prime minister with the support of citizens, can build it on issues of inclusion, equity and equality,” she said.

The resolution was rejected by a voice vote amid a walkout staged by the Congress and other opposition parties.

Irani said the resolution states that Muslim women are not given the equal opportunity to get educated.

On the gender inclusion infrastructure fund proposed in the resolution, Irani said the new education policy takes care of the need for education of women as well as children. After three decades, India now has a new education policy, she said.

She said the Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship caters to the need for skilling for a new India.

“The resolution seeks to cast aspersions on citizen and the Constitution alike. Through this resolution aspersions have been cast on one of the holiest of books…that our nation at large seeks to divide people on the basis of religion and deny access to a better life in the present and in the future to those who belong to minority communities,” she said.

BJP MP Ajay Pratap Singh opposed the resolution saying that the very constitution of the Sachar Committee was challenged in the Supreme Court.

He said it is not justified to implement the recommendations of a committee on which there is a big question mark.

The resolution sought to implement the recommendations of the Sachar Committee and other reports that have discussed the educational and social backwardness of Muslims.

It sought to reinstate and enhance all those scholarship and educational upliftment programme that aimed to improve the higher education participation of Muslims.

It sought to help madrasas to modernise with a special infrastructure fund.

It also sought to develop and implement special affirmative actions for Muslim women to improve their presence in central universities, institutes of national importance and their work participation.

It also sought formation of a commission to study the representation of Muslims in university spaces and in private and public jobs, and enactment of a legislation for prevention of atrocities against minorities of the country so as to build confidence amongst Muslims who are vulnerable.

Source:Siasat Daily

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://www.siasat.com/modernising-madrasas-rajya-sabha-turns-down-resolution-seeking-special-fund-2554341/

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Bihar district’s ‘half-day leave’ for staff during Ramadan triggers row

by Santosh Singh

March 25, 2023

The Nalanda district administration in Bihar has reportedly tweaked the state government’s “one-hour relaxation” order for Muslim employees of all primary schools by declaring half-day leave during the month of Ramadan.

As per an order of the General Administration Department (GAD) issued on December 21, 2000, Muslim employees in government offices and schools are allowed to report on duty an hour before scheduled time and leave an hour before scheduled closure during Ramadan.

However, an order issued on March 23 by the Nalanda district education officer said: “All primary schools in the district are allowed to conduct its morning school shift between 6.30 am and 9.30 am and day shift between 9 am and 1.30 pm in view of the holy month of Ramadan.”

Primary Education Director Ravi Prakash was not available for comment. An education department official, however, said: “The department has been looking into the complaints about some districts tweaking the order.”

The normal school time is from 9 am to 4 pm, but it is changed to 8 am to 3 pm during Ramadan in schools where there are Muslim teachers. Bihar Teachers Eligibility Test (BTET) Association and the BJP, meanwhile, objected to the state government order.

“The Nalanda administration has not complied with the order for primary schools. It would create discrimination. What if Hindu teachers start asking for similar relaxation during Shravan month or during Durga puja/ Navratra?” BTET Association president Amit Vikram told The Indian Express.

BJP OBC Morcha national general secretary and party’s spokesman Nikhil Anand said: “Relaxation to Muslim employees is an act of appeasement by the Nitish Kumar government. We simply want to know if we are following any Shariah law or going by the Constitution.”

Source: Indian Express

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://indianexpress.com/article/cities/patna/bihar-districts-half-day-leave-for-staff-during-ramadan-triggers-row-8517652/

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Karnataka Scraps 4% Muslim Quota, Hikes Reservation ForLingayats, Vokkaligas

25 MAR 2023

The Karnataka government on Friday announced its decision to scrap the four percent quota for minorities and add it to the existing quota of two dominant communities of the poll-bound state - Vokkaligas and Lingayats.

The four percent reservation given to Muslims under 2B classification of the OBC category will now be divided into two equal parts and added to the existing quota of Vokkaligas and Lingayats for whom two new reservation categories of 2C and 2D were created during the Belagavi Assembly Session last year. The decision comes one month ahead of the assembly elections.

The cabinet decided to bring the religious minorities under the EWS category. Briefing reporters after the cabinet meeting, Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai said the religious minorities quota would be done away with and brought under the 10 percent pool of the EWS category without any change of condition.

Reservation for Vokkaligas and Lingayats

“The four percent (reservation for minorities) will be divided into two between 2C and 2D. The four percent reservation for the Vokkaligas and others will be enhanced to six percent and VeerashaivaPanchamasali and others (Lingayats), who are getting five percent reservation will now get seven percent,” the CM explained.

The Panchamasali community of the Lingayat sect and the Vokkaligas have been demanding a hike in reservation for quite a long time. The Panchamasali community had also staged a protest at the Suvarna Soudha (Legislative Assembly) at Belagavi on 22 December 2022, demanding reclassification under 2A.

The Cabinet had abolished 3A and 3B categories of reservation for Vokkaligas and Lingayats respectively and replaced them with two new categories of 2C and 2D last December. Defending the decision to abolish the quota for Muslims, Bommai said there was no constitutional provision for religious minorities.

Citing a court verdict striking down the reservation provided for minorities in Andhra Pradesh, the CM said the architect of the Indian constitution B R Ambedkar too had said that reservations were for caste.

“However, we cannot drop that community entirely. With a view that there should not be any problem, the religious minorities...if someone challenges reservation to them, we decided to take a proactive decision. In fact they will go from 4 per cent to the 10 percent pool of the EWS group without any change of condition,” Bommai explained.

Reservation for Muslims

Muslims are divided into three reservation categories – 1, 2A and 2B. The extremely backward religious minorities, who form the sub-sects of Muslims such as Pinjara, Nadaf, Daroji, Chapparband and are enlisted in category 1, will remain undisturbed and in the same reservation list.

Similarly, the government did not touch the Muslim communities under 2A category. “Some other Muslim sub-sects in the 2B category will not be disturbed. They will only be moved to the EWS quota on the same conditions,” Bommai said.

Other backward communities

There are some more small backward communities, who find mention in the Backward Commission’s report. “They never figured in any list including the backward list. They are not in any category. Regarding them, the Backward Commission has mentioned in its second list. I will study the report in detail. Our government will take further decision on it in the coming cabinet," he said.

Already, a recommendation has been sent to the Centre to include two shepherd communities ‘Kadu Kuruba’ and ‘Gonda Kuruba’ spread over four districts in the ST category. Further, the union government has made some references to two to three communities including Kadu Gollaru and Koli communities seeking the opinion of the department.

Bommai also said that the government will notify the communities under the EWS category. Also, a decision was taken with regard to the SC community that six percent reservation would be given to SC left sub-category, 5.5 percent to SC right, 4.5 percent to touchables and one percent to others.   

Source:OutlookIndia

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://www.outlookindia.com/national/karnataka-scraps-4-muslim-quota-hikes-reservation-for-lingayats-vokkaligas-news-273025

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20 Muslims join Hindus to stage 'Kurukshetra' in village

Mar 25, 2023

NELAMANGALA (BENGALURU RURAL): Twenty Muslim men were part of a 33-member inter-religious troupe that staged 'Kurukshetra', a play based on the Mahabharata, at Halenahalli in Nelamangala taluk on Sunday, drawing over 15,000 audience members from various parts of the taluk and underscoring the yearning for communal harmony at the grass roots.

The performance lasted nearly 10 hours. While all the 18 male actors were Muslims, six female actors were Hindus and professionals brought from Hubballi and Bengaluru. The four-member make-up team comprised two Muslims and two Hindus, whereas the four musicians and the director - drama master Muniraju from Halenahalli - were Hindus. Barring the female actors, all the others were from Halenahalli village, said event organiser Jagadish Chowdary.

"We got a couple of Muslim women from the village to practise but their diction proved a hurdle. Also, there were other sensitivities involved," said Nayaz Khan, who donned the role of Duryodhana.

The performance was organised as part of the Ugadi festivities and began around 8pm. It concluded in the early hours of Monday.

Jagadish expressed hope that artists in other taluks would emulate the Halenahalli initiative. He said the artists left their homes a week earlier and rehearsed the entire performance 4-5 times before taking to the stage.

Huge LCD screens installed at vantage points near the stage screened the performance, he added.

Abdul Razak, a high school teacher who played Dharmaraya, said he could join the rehearsals only on Sundays. Ranganayaki, a woman artist from Bengaluru, said when she was invited by Muniraju to join the cast, she was not aware the artists were from the minority community. Despite having a problem with language, the artists delivered the dialogue perfectly and fluently, she added.

The village has about 100 households, including 20 from minority communities. The entire village worked as one unit and the play was staged on the premises of Sri Anjaneya Swamy temple. A couple of Muslim actors had previously taken part in various cultural events in the taluk.

"The idea of performing a mythological drama was born during a chat at Sri Anjaneya Swamy temple two years ago. As both Hindus and Muslims enjoy a harmonious relationship, the Muslim artists decided to take up the Hindu act," said Nayaz Khan, who is also president of the local milk union.

Source: Times Of India

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/bengaluru/20-muslims-join-hindus-to-stage-kurukshetra-in-village/articleshow/98982047.cms

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Friday prayers held peacefully in mosques across Kashmir

March 25, 2023

The first Friday congregational prayers of the holy Islamic month of Ramzan were held peacefully in all mosques and shrines across the Kashmir valley, police said.

The largest congregational prayer was held at Hazratbal shrine on the banks of the Dal Lake where about 50,000 devotees including men, women and children offered prayers. This was followed by Srinagar’s downtown Jama Masjid where around 18,000 devotees offered prayers, Kashmir Zone Police said.

The Waqf Board made elaborate arrangements for the devotees at the Hazratbal shrine. The head priest of Jama Masjid in his sermons threw light on the Ramzan fasting and other aspects of the holy month.

Police said the congregational prayers were held peacefully across the valley.

“Friday afternoon Prayers on first Friday of the holy month of Ramzan concluded peacefully in all the mosques of Srinagar,” police tweeted.

Source: TheStatesman

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://www.thestatesman.com/india/friday-prayers-held-peacefully-in-mosques-across-kashmir-1503166028.html

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In touch with Oman to get fugitive Zakir Naik: Govt

Mar 25, 2023

NEW DELHI: Amid reports that fugitive Zakir Naik is visiting Oman, the government said on Friday it’s doing all it can to bring Naik to justice. The MEA said it’s in touch with Oman on the issue.

“Zakir Naik is an accused in numerous cases in India. He is a fugitive from justice. We have taken up the matter with the government of Oman and Oman authorities,” said spokesperson Arindam Bagchi.

The MEA official also said India will continue to make all efforts to get economic fugitives, including Mehul Choksi, to face justice in India.

Source: Times Of India

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/in-touch-with-oman-to-get-fugitive-zakir-naik-govt/articleshow/98979595.cms

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Southeast Asia

 

Johor Police Identify Individuals Involved In Video Insulting Islam, Prophet Muhammad

By Ben Tan

23 Mar 2023

JOHOR BARU, March 23 — The Johor police have identified six individuals who are believed to be part of the heretical 'Si Hulk' group that was recently linked to the circulation of a video that insulted Islam and the Prophet Muhammad.

Johor police chief Datuk Kamarul Zaman Mamat said the individuals concerned were identified as a result of investigations carried out by Bukit Aman officers.

“The six people have been identified as being involved in spreading the video recently.

“For us, it is better that the six individuals surrender rather than the police arrest them at their place,” he said at the Johor police contingent headquarters here today.

Kamarul Zaman was commenting on a TikTok video lasting one minute and 17 seconds that went viral last Tuesday after it showed four men insulting Islam and the Prophet Muhammad.

The men featured in the video also admitted to supporting the teachings of 'The Hulk' which had been labelled as a heretical group by the Johor state fatwa committee in July 2021.

Meanwhile, Kamarul Zaman also confirmed that police have received a report on the matter

He said police had also received similar reports in several other states, including those lodged in Bukit Aman.

“There are many more police investigations that were initiated in other states, including at the federal police’s organised crime investigation unit.

Source: MalayMail

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://www.malaymail.com/news/malaysia/2023/03/23/johor-police-identify-individuals-involved-in-video-insulting-islam-prophet-muhammad/61179

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‘Imam’ and ‘Mentega Terbang’ prove the message isn’t everything when it comes to cinema

By Aidil Rusli

25 Mar 2023

MARCH 25 — It’s not every year that I find myself writing about Malaysian films back-to-back for three weeks straight here, but that’s exactly what happened in February and March earlier this year.

But as they say, all good things must come to an end, and so did that surprise run of good (and even great) things being written about Malaysian films.

I’m sure there will be more opportunities for me to write about local films later on in the year, and I haven’t even managed to find the time to catch the controversial Pulau, which has done pretty well at the box-office so far, with RM2 million collected during its first week of screening.

For now, let’s turn our attention to two relatively new Malaysian movies; one released in cinemas and the other on a local streaming platform (which had to later pull the film from release after controversy arose surrounding the film) and both with religion as its main topic and message.

I’ve seen more than enough films that were praised — especially by casual filmgoers — just because they had a “good message.”

And even though I totally understand their point of view, especially since they are casual filmgoers after all, I’ve always made it a point to try and make people understand that a “good message” in a crap film won’t make it a good film, and great film with a “bad message” will still be a great film (see the Nazi propaganda film Triumph Of The Will by Leni Riefenstahl to see what I mean).

So, with religion front and centre in both Imam and Mentega Terbang, and both also carrying the message that religious fanaticism and using religion to hold on to power or control people is never good, will that be enough to make these two films good?

Imam

The pedigree behind Imam the film is certainly very promising — it’s adapted from national laureate Datuk Abdullah Hussain’s legendary novel of the same name, directed by highly respected film editor Mior Hashim Manap (who plays the dad in Imaginur) and stars local giants M. Nasir and Faizal Hussein — but unfortunately a good pedigree counts for nothing if the execution leaves much to be desired.

The story, set in the 1980s, is about Imam Haji Mihad (M. Nasir), who has recently returned to his village after a long absence, and is appointed the new village Imam.

Trying to bring progress into the village, he tries to turn the mosque into a sort of community centre, where youths can play sports and even sing nasyid songs (complete with guitar as part of the backing instruments), but he runs into opposition from the village’s old guard, who see these things as sinful and haram.

There are definitely great things mined from the epic novel here (and I can still see the novel’s intention of making the village an allegory about a country), but it’s done in such piecemeal and episodic fashion, that everything here turns into random events just sort of happening, without much being explored in terms of motivation and background.

Things just happen one after another here without any narrative thrust that the film starts to feel like a compilation of events plucked out from the novel instead of a proper film adaptation of a novel which usually requires quite a bit of streamlining, chopping, changing and elimination of elements from the source novel.

And don’t even get me started on the intrusive and absolutely overbearing film score that will make you feel as if you’re watching a horror film or an action thriller, instead of a social drama.

In short, it’s shocking how awful Imam the film turned out to be, despite how great the source novel (and message) is, which proves once again that a good message can’t save a movie from being crap.

Mentega Terbang

A small, low budget (and practically homemade) independent film that somehow got picked up by a local streaming platform for release, Mentega Terbang was hit by a wave of controversy once local netizens started picking up on the fact that its lead character is a teenage Muslim girl trying to learn about other religions in order to figure out where her dying mother would end up when she dies.

I won’t comment much about the film’s message or whether it’s blasphemous or not, because if you do watch the film all the way to the end, you’ll understand the context of the controversial things shown in the film, as they’re simply stupid acts of rebellion from an introverted teenager learning about comparative religion, so the things she does like eating a char siew bao and pretending that she’s drinking holy water is in a way her version of other teenagers doing stupid things like trying drugs, having pre-marital sex or getting involved in gangsterism/illegal racing.

Even the film’s ultimate message, conveyed through the permissive attitude of the girl’s dad — that one can’t inherit one’s faith so one is encouraged to seek and affirm it on one’s own — is not blasphemous, even if it’s possibly insensitive if viewed from certain angles.

But the film’s real sin, for me at least, is in how poor some of the execution is. My biggest gripe has to be that there’s just too much “telling” going on instead of “showing.”

Just like in Mat Kilau, the dialogue here feels like it’s taken from one text written from only one point of view, but passed along for other characters to mouth, so instead of talking about how Malays are not united like in Mat Kilau, we get a long lecture about comparative religion instead.

And even simple visual things like blocking and camera pans can feel quite amateurish here.

So whether you think the message here is good or not, it will not change the fact that Mentega Terbang is unfortunately quite a weak film, though it’s still nowhere near as bad as Imam.

Source: MalayMail

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://www.malaymail.com/news/opinion/2023/03/25/imam-and-mentega-terbang-prove-the-message-isnt-everything-when-it-comes-to-cinema/61437

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DPM Zahid urges corporate firms, individuals to coordinate efforts to ensure systematic distribution of Ramadan, Raya aid

25 Mar 2023

KUALA LUMPUR, March 25 — Corporate companies and individuals who wish to contribute aid to the homeless in conjunction with the month of Ramadan and Hari Raya Aidilfitri are recommended to coordinate their efforts with the departments involved, such as the National Welfare Foundation (YKN).

Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said this is to ensure the contributions can be distributed systematically and directly to the affected groups.

This, he said, was also to avoid wastage because it was normal to have excess contributions compared to the amount needed by these groups.

“During this Ramadan month, too many (groups) are seeking blessings. So, when breaking fast, having sahur (predawn meal before beginning fast) or moreh (supper), there is excessive food.

“So, I wish to suggest to companies or individuals who want to donate to coordinate their contributions with YKN, Federal Territories Islamic Religious Council (MAIWP) and Federal Territories Islamic Religious Department (Jawi) because we want the contributions to reach the target groups,” he said.

Ahmad Zahid, who is also Minister of Rural and Regional Development, said this in his speech at the ‘Singgah Moreh with the Homeless Community’ programme at AnjungKembara, Homeless Transit Centre, here, last night.

Meanwhile, he said that all parties must find long-term measures to solve several problems involving the homeless, including those who have lost their jobs, face mental health issues and suffer from long illnesses.

He said this was important to ensure that the number of homeless people, which now stands at about 11,000 nationwide, does not increase.

“Our approach is not to work in silos but with other ministries and departments to solve the problem.

“At the same time, family institutions should not wash their hands (off the problem) because if we just rely on the government, then this problem can never be solved,” he said.

Source: MalayMail

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://www.malaymail.com/news/malaysia/2023/03/25/dpm-zahid-urges-corporate-firms-individuals-to-coordinate-efforts-to-ensure-systematic-distribution-of-ramadan-raya-aid/61424

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Myanmar arrests about 150 Rohingya fleeing to Malaysia

24 March ,2023

Myanmar authorities have arrested around 150 Rohingya suspected of trying to flee to Malaysia, an official told AFP on Friday.

The group of men, women and children was arrested in Thanbyuzayat township in southern Myanmar, the official said, requesting anonymity as they were not authorized to talk to the media.

The official did not specify why the group had been arrested, but the Muslim minority faces restrictions on travelling within Myanmar, where rights groups say they live in apartheid-like conditions.

“They were hiding nearby in hilly forest between two villages... We started arresting them since late last night after we got a tip-off,” the security source said.

According to initial reports, the group had travelled by boat from western Rakhine state and planned to travel on to Thailand and then Malaysia by road, the official said.

A number of non-Rohingya suspected of trafficking the group were also arrested, and police were looking for around 30 more people, according to the source.

A military crackdown in Myanmar in 2017 sent hundreds of thousands of Rohingya fleeing into neighboring Bangladesh with harrowing stories of murder, rape, and arson.

Myanmar is facing genocide accusations at the United Nation’s top court following the mass exodus.

Widely viewed in Myanmar as interlopers from Bangladesh, Rohingya are denied citizenship -- along with access to healthcare and education -- and require permission to travel.

The arrests come days after the junta said it would begin welcoming back members of the minority living in Bangladesh as soon as next month in a pilot repatriation program.

The plan would see Myanmar “repatriate about 1,500 displaced persons,” state media on Friday quoted a senior border affair official as saying.

The border official did not give a specific timetable and added Myanmar had “not received any response yet” to the plan.

The returning Rohingya would be placed in a “transit camp for a short period” before being resettled in 15 villages, the official said.

“For their safety and security, we have police stations near the 15 villages,” it added.

Thousands of Rohingya risk their lives each year making perilous journeys from camps in Bangladesh and Myanmar to reach Muslim-majority Malaysia and Indonesia.

Source: Al Arabiya

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://english.alarabiya.net/News/world/2023/03/24/Myanmar-arrests-about-150-Rohingya-fleeing-to-Malaysia-

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Europe

 

Open iftar event hosted at famous London museum

BehlülÇetinkaya

25.03.2023

LONDON

The Victoria and Albert (V&A) Museum in London hosted an open iftar, or fast-breaking, event Friday for hundreds of people during the first Friday in the holy month of Ramadan.

The program was held at the V&A Museum -- one of the world's leading museums of art, design and performance.

Organized by the "Ramadan Tent Project," more than 400 people took part in the open iftar.

Omar Salha, the founder of the award-winning Ramadan Tent Project charity, noted to Anadolu that 2023 marks the 10th anniversary of the project.

The project was started by a group of students at SOAS University of London to invite international students to share iftar, providing a home away from home.

It aims to bring communities together and spread the spirit of the holy month through various initiatives.

Salha said the charity will organize fast-breaking meal events in 10 cities during Ramadan, including Birmingham, Manchester and Cambridge as well as London.

He said an iftar event at the famous Trafalgar Square would be the biggest. They will also organize the same event at Shakespeare's Globe theatre, Chelsea football club's stadium Stamford Bridge and Brighton and Hove Albion club's American Express Community stadium.

Salha extended solidarity to Türkiye for last month's deadly earthquakes and said he took part in fundraising campaigns for victims.

DowshanHumzah, a member of the project's advisory board, said the charity is bringing different people together at the events.

"What we're trying to do is turn strangers into friends, and also just build that sense of community and that's really at the heart of the Ramadan tent project," he added.

Source: Anadolu Agency

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://www.aa.com.tr/en/europe/open-iftar-event-hosted-at-famous-london-museum/2855125

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Iran asks France to observe human rights, avoid violence against peaceful protesters

24 March 2023

Iran has asked the French government to observe human rights and avoid violence against peaceful protesters.

In a French-language post on his Twitter account on Friday, Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian strongly condemned the crackdown on the peaceful demonstrations of the French people.

"We call on the French government to respect human rights and avoid resorting to force against the people of its own country who are pursuing their demands peacefully," the top Iranian diplomat tweeted.

On Thursday, protesters gathered across France to demonstrate their opposition to the legislation to raise the retirement age by two years to 64.

Unions claimed 3.5 million people turned out across the country, while the authorities suggested the figure was much lower, at just under 1.1 million.

In the capital Paris, union leaders claimed that a record 800,000 people took part in a mostly peaceful march through the city – the police gave the figure as 119,000 – to demand that the government drop the fiercely contested change.

According to interior minister Gerald Darmanin, a total of 457 people were arrested and 441 security forces injured. He said 903 fires lit in the streets of Paris in the most violent day of protests since January.

On Wednesday, French President Emmanuel Macron rejected calls to stop pushing through his deeply unpopular pension plan. He insisted that the new law was necessary and would come into force later this year.

In a series of posts published on his Twitter page earlier on Friday, Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Nasser Kan’ani called upon French authorities to respond to the demands of hundreds of thousands of mainly peaceful protesters who have marched across the country against President Macron’s pension reform, rather than to stoke unrest in other countries.

“The French government must talk to its people and listen to their voices. You cannot use such violence (against peaceful protesters) and preach morality sitting on a high chair,” he wrote in one Persian-language tweet.

“French protesters are also waiting to see the collective response of European, Australian and Canadian female ministers in support of French protesting women,” he added.

Source: Press TV

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://www.presstv.ir/Detail/2023/03/24/700375/Iran-France-Amir-Abdollahian-human-rights-peaceful-protest-

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Sikh Officer’s Beard Cut, Bacon Put In Muslim Officer’s Boots, Says Report On Met Police

March 25, 2023

Written by Kamal Preet Kaur

At the time when some members of Sikh diaspora are protesting against the “disproportionate’’ and “indiscriminate” police action in Punjab with regards to Waris Punjab De chief Amritpal Singh and his supporters, Baroness Louise Casey’s Metropolitan Police review has concluded the Met Police is “institutionally racist, misogynist and homophobic”, and that predatory and unacceptable behaviour has “been allowed to flourish”. She has said that Met Police needs complete overhaul. The report states that Met officers are 82% White and 71% male, and the majority do not live in the city they police. As such, the Met does not look like the majority of Londoners.

Meanwhile, Commissioner Sir Mark Rowley has said, “This report sparks feelings of shame and anger but it also increases our resolve. I am proud of those people, our officers and staff, whose passion for policing and determination to reform moved them to share their experiences with such honesty. This is, in many ways, their report. It must be a catalyst for police reform”.

It may be noted that Baroness Casey of Blackstock DBE CB, was commissioned by the Met in October 2021 following the rape and murder of Sarah Everard by a serving officer. Baroness Casey conducted an independent review into the standards of behaviour and internal culture of the Metropolitan Police Service. Her 350-page report that records harrowing accounts of institutional crime begins with her tribute to the victims of crimes committed by police officers. “Those crimes, and those betrayals of trust, led to my appointment to review standards and culture in the Met,” she said.

“The timing of this report and its coincidental alignment with what’s happening in Punjab is very telling. We normally assume that everything is almost alright in this part of the world, but the rot at the core of an institution as Met Police shows that no institution is immune to the negative effects of deep-rooted cultural behaviours. All institutions need timely reviews and checks and systems need to be put in place for continuously improving accountability and reliability. Hope Met learns from it. I also hope that similar reviews are made possible in Punjab Police as well,” says Sukhwinder Singh, president of International Khalsa Organisation, a humanitarian and rights advocacy group.

Talking to The Indian Express, Cllr Aysha Raza of Ealing said, “Sadly the findings of the Casey report are nothing new. We have always known of systemic misogyny, racism, homophobia and xenophobia happening within the service. Londoners rightly expect an effective Police Service that is trusted by all our communities and one that is accountable for all their actions. Implementing the recommendations made by Baroness Casey in her report would be a good place to begin rebuilding trust and confidence in the Metropolitan Police Service and I know that we in local authorities Safer Communities Teams stand ready to help shape a Police Service fit for all of us and for the future.”

As the review was made public, Metropolitan Police Sikh Association tweeted, “’Stuff you say doesn’t happen in the Met is what we have heard over and over again. And nothing gets done about it. Well, it’s here officially. One Sikh officer had his beard trimmed; while another had his turban put in a shoe box; and a Muslim officer found bacon in his boots.”

Midlands-based Strategic Communications Advisor Jay Singh Sohal said, “That a Sikh officer’s beard was cut ‘because it was funny’ while another’s turban put in a shoebox is outrageous! I worked to educate police on turban awareness via @turbanology and am appalled. The Met Police leadership needs to change this culture ASAP.”

Dr Gurdeep Singh Devgon, of Feltham, Middlesex, said, “These incidents should be recorded and treated as hate crimes. If he was a practicing Sikh and as we know Kesh is an Article of the Faith, then cutting a Sikh officer’s beard is assault and the others involved should be dealt with accordingly. A dastaar is more than a head-covering – it is a Crown bestowed to us by our 10th Guru: Guru Gobind Singh Ji. Just as no-one would walk up to HRH King Charles and touch his crown, no-one should be touching a Sikh officer’s dastaar.”

“I was disgusted to the core when I read the report that instead of access to fast-track forensic services, officers have to contend with over-stuffed, dilapidated or broken fridges and freezers containing evidence including the rape kits of victims, and endure long waits for test results. So, some officers are not only assaulting or raping their colleagues, they are losing essential evidence against hard core criminals too. Can it get any worse?” says visibly upset Rosalyn Desai (not her real name) who works with ethnic minority rape victims in London.

Source: Indian Express

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://indianexpress.com/article/india/london-letters-sikh-officers-beard-cut-bacon-put-in-muslim-officers-boots-met-police-report-8518051/

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More than two-thirds of Muslims in England, Wales live in high unemployment areas

March 24, 2023

LONDON: More than two-thirds of Muslims in England and Wales live in local authorities that report the highest levels of unemployment, The Guardian reported on Friday.

Census data shows that about 2.6 million Muslims live in areas where the recorded unemployment level was as high as one in 20 people aged 16-64.

The data has led to campaigners urging the government to focus on Muslim youth as part of its plan to “level up” Britain’s economy.

New figures from the Office of National Statistics also revealed that Muslims in England and Wales reported the highest unemployment rates among religious groups, at 6.7 percent.

Only 26 percent of Christians, as well as 25 percent of atheists, live in areas with the highest unemployment levels, but for Muslim communities in England and Wales, the figure stood at 68 percent.

In the three local authorities that reported the highest unemployment rates in the country — Birmingham, London’s Newham and Wolverhampton — 7 percent of people of working age are looking for jobs.

However, the ONS said that the age trends among Muslims, as compared to other groups, may be a contributing factor to the statistics, with younger Muslims more likely to be studying than youth in the general population.

Of those who identified as Muslim in the census, the percentage of students in the group was almost twice the rate seen in the overall population in England and Wales.

In response to the census findings, a spokesperson for the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB) said: “The inter-generational cycles of poverty impacting British Muslim communities can result in young people being forced to leave education in pursuit of work so they can help support their families.

“Those that are able to break into the job market, pursuing chosen careers, can face Islamophobic prejudice and discrimination in the workplace.”

A study published last year in the Ethnic and Racial Studies journal found that discrimination had contributed to the creation of a “Muslim penalty” in Britain, with Islam being deemed a “significant barrier” to entering the workforce.

The MCB spokesperson added: “The post COVID-19 economic reality is that ‘leveling up’ is not just a priority for our rural communities. Targeted support is needed in the heart of inner cities where minority ethnic and Muslim populations may reside.

Source: Arab News

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://www.arabnews.com/node/2274941/world

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Türkiye condemns US human rights report for 'baseless allegations'

ServetGünerigök

25.03.2023

The Turkish Foreign Ministry condemned Friday a US State Department’s human rights report on Türkiye which it said includes "false information and baseless allegations."

The ministry said Türkiye continues to fight terror organizations, particularly PKK/PYD/YPG, FETO, Daesh/ISIS and DHKP-C, with determination, in line with international law and respect for human rights.

It said it does not accept "this just struggle" being distorted and reflected in the report in that manner.

"We regret that the report includes only in one part the terrorist attacks carried out by the PKK in our country in 2022 and the human rights violations committed by the organization on an unconcealable scale," it said in a statement.

The ministry also slammed the US agency for failing to mention that the so-called "Syrian Democratic Forces," which the US said violated human rights in Syria, was under the control of the PKK/PYD/YPG terror group.

"We question the legitimacy and credibility of the report," said the statement, accusing Washington of turning a blind eye to the activities of the PKK/PYD/YPG and FETO terror organizations.

"We emphasize once again that this report, which is clearly shaped by political motives and is completely devoid of objectivity, cannot be taken seriously, and we invite the United States to focus on its own record on human rights," it said.

Source: Anadolu Agency

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://www.aa.com.tr/en/europe/turkiye-condemns-us-human-rights-report-for-baseless-allegations/2855095

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Sturgeon wishes 'Ramadan Mubarak' on final appearance at Scottish parliament as first minister

Burak Bir 

24.03.2023

LONDON

Outgoing first minister of Scotland on Thursday started her final appearance at the parliament by wishing Ramadan Mubarak to all Muslims.

Nicola Sturgeon, outgoing Scottish National Party (SNP) leader and the first minister of Scotland, attended her last First Minister's Questions (FMQs) session at the parliament.

Wishing Ramadan Mubarak to Muslim community, Sturgeon said, she is "in a very privileged position" for being from Glasgow Southside constituency, the highest proportion of Muslims living in Scotland.

"I know the holy month of Ramadan is a very special time for Muslims, and I wish them all the best during it," she added.

Early Thursday, Sturgeon said on Twitter that she would do her 286th and the last First Minister’s Questions.

Last month, she announced her resignation from the country’s top political post, as well as from the helm of the SNP.

Sturgeon, who has been in office since November 2014, is Scotland's first female first minister and also the first woman to lead any of the devolved UK administrations.

Scotland has had a devolved parliament since 1999.

Source: Anadolu Agency

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://www.aa.com.tr/en/europe/sturgeon-wishes-ramadan-mubarak-on-final-appearance-at-scottish-parliament-as-first-minister/2854582

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Family of UK mosque-goer set on fire demands justice

Burak Bir 

24.03.2023

LONDON

The son of a 70-year-old British Muslim in Birmingham who was set alight near his home while walking back from the local mosque called for the most severe sentence available for the perpetrator.

Mohammed Rayaz, a Muslim resident of the West Midlands city, was set on fire by 28-year-old Mohammed Abbkr, police say.

Rayaz was attacked while walking from the mosque to his home on Shenstone Road in Edgbaston.

The shocking incident, which was the second one of its kind recently, left Rayaz heavily injured and receiving treatment at the hospital.

In the first interview to the media by a member of Rayaz's immediate family, Anadolu spoke to his son, Adnaan Riaz, 30, over the incident that occurred just a couple of days before the beginning of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

Adnaan said his father, who started working at a very young age, was now a pensioner after he retired from a meat factory.

On the attack, which took place on Monday, he said Rayaz had been targeted while at the mosque and was followed to Shenstone Road, where he was set on fire.

"Then, being on fire, on his own (he) managed to take off his jacket and top," Adnaan said, adding that local people later helped him get home.

"A passer-by who is a local walked with my dad to my house which is around the corner and that's when I opened the door and took dad inside."

'Disgusting, evil, cowardly'

Adnaan said his father's burns are "really bad," with serious wounds on his face, head, and hands.

Since then, Mohammed Rayaz has been under treatment at the hospital.

Before the attacker was identified, police told the family that the case was "really serious."

"Any kind of attack like this on anyone is disgusting, evil, and cowardly, especially targeting pensioners," added Adnaan.

Ramadan is a beautiful and important time in Muslim life, he noted, mentioning that his father is a religious Muslim who fasted frequently and always prayed daily.

"Justice is needed," he asserted, stressing that the attacker, who has been caught, should receive the "most severe sentence available" within the British courts and justice system.

The West Midlands Police have said Abbkr was alleged to have sprayed a substance on two men and set them ablaze in separate incidents in Ealing, London, and Birmingham on Feb. 27 and March 20.

Source: Anadolu Agency

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://www.aa.com.tr/en/europe/family-of-uk-mosque-goer-set-on-fire-demands-justice/2854572

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Arab World

 

Daesh terrorists decapitate 15 people, kidnap dozens foraging for desert truffles in central Syria

25 March 2023

Remnants of the Daesh Takfiri terrorist group have killed more than a dozen people foraging for desert truffles in Syria’s central province of Hama by cutting their throats, while 40 others are still missing, the so-called Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) has said.

“At least 15 people, including seven civilians and eight local pro-government fighters, were killed by Daesh members who slit their throats while they were collecting truffles on Thursday,” Rami Abdel Rahman, head of the UK-based war monitor, said.

Forty others are missing following the attack in Salamiyah district, located 33 kilometers (21 miles) southeast of Hama, he added.

Between February and April each year, hundreds of impoverished Syrians search for truffles in the vast Syrian Desert, or Badia. The region is a known hideout for Takfiri terrorists and is also littered with landmines.

Foragers risk their lives to collect the delicacies, despite repeated warnings about landmines and Daesh terrorists.

The prized fungus can sell for up to $25 per kilogram ($11 per pound), depending on size and grade.

The Syrian Desert is reportedly renowned for producing some of the best quality truffles in the world.

According to the Observatory, Daesh is taking advantage of the annual harvest of the desert fungus delicacy to carry out attacks in remote locations.

Since February, at least 150 people – most of them civilians – have been killed by Daesh attacks targeting truffle hunters or by landmines left by extremist militants, SOHR said.

Earlier this month, Daesh Takfiris killed three truffle hunters and kidnapped at least 26 others in northern Syria.

Source: Press TV

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https://www.presstv.ir/Detail/2023/03/25/700403/Daesh-terrorists-decapitate-over-dozen-people-foraging-for-desert-truffles-in-central-Syria

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Saudi King, Crown Prince inaugurate Ramadan campaign with massive donation toward Kingdom’s housing needs

March 25, 2023

JoodEskan, Saudi Arabia's crowdfunding platform for home ownership, has launched a charitable campaign to raise SR 1 billion in donations during the Holy month of Ramadan. The campaign aims to break the record for the largest amount of online charitable donations raised in a month. Funds raised will support the country's efforts to provide housing for needy Saudi families.

The Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, King Salman, and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, inaugurated the campaign on the first day of Ramadan by making two generous donations amounting to SR150 million. These initial contributions, given through the JoodEskan platform, reinforce the leadership’s commitment to supporting all efforts and initiatives that provide housing for needy families.

The JoodEskan digital platform was launched in 2019 by the National Developmental Housing Foundation (Sakan), a non-profit arm of the Ministry of Municipal, Rural Affairs, and Housing. The platform collects donations and provides services and financial contributions to eligible and registered families, including rent and home ownership.

Titled ‘Ever-Green Stock,’ JoodEskan’s charitable campaign is an IPO simulation that targets Saudi Arabia's most prominent corporations, institutions, and individuals. Inspired by the financial stock markets, the creative fundraising campaign recreates the IPO model by “selling stocks” through goodwill and charitable contributions to encourage community members and private sector players to "invest" in public.

The ‘Ever-Green Stock' campaign offers 100 million stocks at 10 Saudi Riyals per share and is designed to raise awareness of the importance of investing in community-driven social initiatives.

Commenting on the campaign HE Minister of Municipal, Rural Affairs, and Housing, Majid bin Abdullah Al-Hogail said, “This year’s Ramadan campaign serves as a reminder to the Kingdom that the best investment that people and businesses can make is in the welfare of their communities. The SR 1 billion raised this month will support approximately 3,500 families in need.”

Several partners in the public and private sectors are supporting the campaign through this innovative model in the non-profit sector, such as the General Authority of Awqaf, the National Housing Company, Al-Rajhi Bank, stc group, mbc group, Al-Arabiya channel, Ajlan& Brothers Group, Sumou Real Estate Company, Khuzam Real Estate Company, and Al-Arabiya Outdoor Solutions Provider.

The collaboration between the public and private sectors demonstrates the Kingdom’s commitment to social responsibility and community development. JoodEskan's total number of beneficiaries has exceeded 36,500 individuals, including home purchase support for 3,000 families and rent support for over 5,000 families. Since its launching, the platform has registered 4.4 million donors and 300 partner associations and NGOs, contributing to SR 1,300,466,945 in donations.

Source: Saudi Gazette

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https://saudigazette.com.sa/article/631028/BUSINESS/Saudi-King-Crown-Prince-inaugurate-Ramadan-campaign-with-massive-donation-toward-Kingdoms-housing-needs

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Death toll from US strikes on pro-Iran installations in Syria rises to 19 fighters

25 March ,2023

The death toll in US air strikes on pro-Iran installations in eastern Syria has risen to 19 fighters, a Syrian war monitor said on Saturday, in one of the deadliest exchanges between the US and Iran-aligned forces in years.

The US carried out strikes in eastern Syria in response to a drone attack on Thursday that left one American contractor dead, and another one wounded along with five US troops. Washington said the attack was of Iranian origin.

The retaliatory strikes by the US on what it said were facilities in Syria used by groups affiliated to Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps left a total of 19 dead, according to the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

The war monitor said air raids killed three Syrian troops, 11 Syrian fighters in pro-government militias and five non-Syrian fighters who were aligned with the government.

The monitor’s head Rami Abdel Rahman could not specify the nationalities of the foreigners. Reuters was unable to independently confirm the toll.

The initial exchange prompted a string of tit-for-tat strikes. Another US service member was wounded, according to officials, and local sources said suspected US rocket fire hit more locations in eastern Syria.

President Joe Biden on Friday warned Iran that the United States would “act forcefully” to protect Americans.

Iran has been a major backer of President Bashar al-Assad during Syria’s 12-year conflict.

Iran’s proxy militias, including Lebanese group Hezbollah and pro-Tehran Iraqi groups, hold sway in swathes of eastern, southern and northern Syria and in suburbs around the capital.

Source: Al Arabiya

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://english.alarabiya.net/News/middle-east/2023/03/25/Death-toll-from-US-strikes-on-pro-Iran-installations-in-Syria-rises-to-19-fighters

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Death toll from US strikes on pro-Iran installations in Syria rises to 19 fighters

25 March ,2023

The death toll in US air strikes on pro-Iran installations in eastern Syria has risen to 19 fighters, a Syrian war monitor said on Saturday, in one of the deadliest exchanges between the US and Iran-aligned forces in years.

The US carried out strikes in eastern Syria in response to a drone attack on Thursday that left one American contractor dead, and another one wounded along with five US troops. Washington said the attack was of Iranian origin.

The retaliatory strikes by the US on what it said were facilities in Syria used by groups affiliated to Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps left a total of 19 dead, according to the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

The war monitor said air raids killed three Syrian troops, 11 Syrian fighters in pro-government militias and five non-Syrian fighters who were aligned with the government.

The monitor’s head Rami Abdel Rahman could not specify the nationalities of the foreigners. Reuters was unable to independently confirm the toll.

The initial exchange prompted a string of tit-for-tat strikes. Another US service member was wounded, according to officials, and local sources said suspected US rocket fire hit more locations in eastern Syria.

President Joe Biden on Friday warned Iran that the United States would “act forcefully” to protect Americans.

Iran has been a major backer of President Bashar al-Assad during Syria’s 12-year conflict.

Iran’s proxy militias, including Lebanese group Hezbollah and pro-Tehran Iraqi groups, hold sway in swathes of eastern, southern and northern Syria and in suburbs around the capital.

Source: Al Arabiya

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://english.alarabiya.net/News/middle-east/2023/03/25/Death-toll-from-US-strikes-on-pro-Iran-installations-in-Syria-rises-to-19-fighters

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Saudi Arabia’s Hadiyah charity to distribute at least 1.2 million meals in Ramadan

March 25, 2023

RIYADH: Hadiyah, the Hajji and Mu’tamer’s Gift Charitable Association in Makkah, has started implementing its annual distribution of iftar and suhoor meals to pilgrims during Ramadan.

And this year the association aims to hand out at least 1.2 million meals.

The massive distribution will target worshippers at the Grand Mosque in Makkah and the Prophet’s Holy Mosque, Saudi Press Agency (SPA) reported.

Source: Arab News

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://www.arabnews.com/node/2275266/saudi-arabia

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World Food Program praises Saudi Arabia for its invaluable support

RASHID HASSAN

March 24, 2023

RIYADH: A senior official with the UN World Food Program has praised Saudi Arabia for its invaluable support in fighting poverty and food insecurity across the region and beyond.

Corinne Fleischer, regional director for the Middle East, North Africa and Eastern Europe, told Arab News that the relationship between the Kingdom and the WFP dated back more than 45 years and that contributions made through the King Salman Center for Relief and Humanitarian Aid had helped to save lives in Yemen, Syria and elsewhere.

In 2008, the Kingdom announced a $500 million grant to the WFP which had enabled it “to complete its relief projects and provide food to millions of people affected by high prices,” she said.

“In 2014, Saudi Arabia contributed more than $200 million to provide food for displaced families in Iraq, Syrian refugees in various countries, as well as refugees from South Sudan and Somalia. WFP’s food assistance and continued support from donors kept famine at bay for years. Very recently, they helped eradicate famine-like conditions for an estimated 161,000 people in Yemen.”

Fleischer said that the Kingdom was the WFP’s fifth-largest donor in both 2018 and 2019.

“We are working closely with KSrelief to continuously improve our collaboration and strengthen partnership. We rely on the Kingdom’s support to help WFP achieve its mission not only in the region but beyond. Our partnership is built on jointly addressing some of the most pressing humanitarian challenges with a methodical approach that supports WFP’s agenda while also reflecting the Kingdom’s priorities in this space,” she added.

With global food prices at an all-time high, the UN agency was concerned about the impact of the Ukraine crisis on food security around the world, Fleischer said.

“The consequences of the conflict in Ukraine are radiating outward, triggering a wave of collateral hunger that is spreading across the globe.”

Ukraine and Russia are responsible for a combined 29 percent of the global wheat trade.

Fleischer said that the humanitarian crisis in Yemen was one of the worst in the world and that more than half its population was now facing food insecurity. Skyrocketing prices had pushed the number of people there in need of food assistance to 17.4 million and the situation was set to get worse, she added.

Yemen depends almost entirely on food imports, with 31 percent of its wheat shipments coming from Ukraine over the past three months.

Egypt, which is the world’s largest buyer of wheat, also relied heavily on subsidized imports to ensure affordable access to bread and vegetable oil for more than 70 million of its people, the official said.

The situation was similar in Lebanon, which sourced 80 percent of its wheat imports from Ukraine and had seen food prices soar due to conflict, Fleischer said.

“Food and fuel price increases have an impact on our operations in the sense that it costs more to bring in the same amount of food into a country,” she said.

“The global food price increases resulted in WFP Yemen incurring an additional cost of approximately $10 million each month in 2022. On another level, the Ukraine crisis is making a bad funding situation worse. WFP’s meager resources for operations in Yemen and Syria especially will be under even more pressure than before.

“WFP is actively working to raise these funds. We are doing everything possible to mobilize world attention and support — through governments, the private sector and individuals — to stave off drastic measures”.

Fleischer is leading a delegation to Riyadh to provide an update on the humanitarian situation in the region. While in the city she met Dr. Abdullah Al Rabeeah, supervisor general of KSrelief, to discuss ways for young Saudis to engage with the WFP through the Misk Foundation.

Source: Arab News

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https://www.arabnews.com/node/2275081/saudi-arabia

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Filipino engineers help fellow expats climb career ladder in Saudi Arabia

March 24, 2023

MANILA: Mario Balboa had initially planned to return to the Philippines after a year, but his stay in Saudi Arabia has now spanned almost two decades, motivated by his successes and a desire to help other Filipino expats on their career paths.

An electronics and communications engineer, Balboa left his hometown in San Fernando, La Union province and moved to Riyadh in 2004 to work as a business consultant and analyst at Saudi Telecom Co.

Now a senior manager for product development, he enjoyed steady career progression over the years but at some point, saw that many Filipino engineers living and working in the Kingdom lagged behind.

Although they had all the necessary skills, many lacked the proper licenses, certifications, and credentials.

“In any development project here, you will always find a Filipino ... The only problem is that some lack the necessary papers to show that they are certified,” Balboa told Arab News. “If there’s a position where you are capable but not qualified because you don’t have the certification, it’s a lost opportunity.”

The situation prompted him to establish the Philippine Council of Engineers and Architects in the Kingdom in October 2013.

In January 2014, the PCEA signed a cooperation agreement with the Saudi Council of Engineers to exchange expertise and help qualify Philippine professionals in engineering and architectural practice.

A few months later, Balboa also took on board the Philippine government agencies — the Professional Regulation Commission and the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority — which inked deals with the SCE for the professional development of Filipino engineers, architects, and technicians.

“The PCEA’s main goal is inclusive progression of Filipino professionals, especially engineers, architects, and technicians, upgrading their respective credentials and qualifications,” Balboa said.

“It helped in making Filipinos, especially the engineers and architects, recognized in terms of professionalism and qualification level.”

Over the past decade, nearly 40,000 Filipino professionals working in Saudi Arabia have, thanks to the PCEA, received training, improved their skills, and obtained official certificates to validate their qualifications.

The efforts have been recognized both in Saudi Arabia and in the Philippines, where last year Balboa received the Presidential Banaag Award, which recognizes individuals advancing the cause of Filipinos overseas.

The PCEA helps connect Filipinos directly with Saudi authorities to evaluate their qualifications.

Leandro Conti, chairman of the PRC’s board of mechanical engineering, told Arab News: “Then they will give you a certificate on the equivalency based on their (Saudi) standards ... which is good for Filipinos so they can be at par with the locals based on their qualifications.”

The certification is becoming increasingly valuable as Saudi Arabia continues to undertake megaprojects as part of its Vision 2030 reform plan.

“Once the projects will be in full swing ... definitely they’ll need Filipinos,” Conti said. “Some of my friends from Dubai and Abu Dhabi came back to Saudi Arabia because of the opportunities.”

Leo Argoso, an engineer who for the past five years has been working for a Saudi company specializing in medical equipment and instruments, was one of those who obtained a good job thanks to the PCEA.

“It was them (the PCEA) who bridged my qualification in order for me to become an SCE member so that I will be able to work my craft here in Saudi Arabia, to be able to take on a position that is equivalent to my level of qualification,” Argoso said.

He knows many other Filipino professionals whose chances on the career ladder got similarly boosted.

“With the help of the PCEA, they were able to fill up what is lacking in their credentials and after some time get recognized by the SCE,” he added.

Source: Arab News

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://www.arabnews.com/node/2275111/saudi-arabia

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Saudi Ministry of Islamic Affairs launches Ramadan gift programs in Jakarta

March 24, 2023

RIYADH: The Saudi Ministry of Islamic Affairs, Call and Guidance, represented by the religious attache at the Kingdom’s Embassy in Indonesia, inaugurated today the King Salman Gift Program to distribute copies of the Holy Qur’an and boxes of dates, and the Iftar Program for those fasting.

The event took place at the headquarters of the attache in Jakarta, in the presence of the Saudi ambassador to Indonesia, Faisal bin Abdullah Al-Amoudi, the Kingdom’s religious attache, Dr. Ahmed bin Ali Al-Hazmi, and several senior Islamic figures in Indonesia.

Ambassador Al-Amoudi stressed that these efforts are an extension of the Kingdom’s role in serving Islam and Muslims all over the world, especially Indonesia, the largest Islamic country by population.

He noted that these gifts from King Salman come in the context of promoting the humanitarian and Islamic work of the Kingdom. Al-Amoudi added that the Indonesian government and people appreciate and respect Saudi Arabia, its leadership and the Saudi people.

Al-Hazmi explained that, thanks to the King Salman Iftar Program, thousands of meals had been distributed to people across Indonesia.

He noted that the number of beneficiaries from the dates program had reached 55,000 people, encompassing 80 tons of dates. Those benefiting from the Iftar Program amount to 150,000, and 88,500 copies of the Holy Qur’an will be distributed.

Al-Hazmi stressed that Muslims all over the world anticipate these programs annually with passion, love, and appreciation.

Source: Arab News

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://www.arabnews.com/node/2275096/saudi-arabia

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Saudi Arabia launches iftar programs in Bosnia, Jordan

March 25, 2023

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia has launched programs to distribute dates and iftar for those fasting during Ramadan in Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Saudi Press Agency reported on Friday.

The initiative was launched by the Ministry of Islamic Affairs, Dawah and Guidance at the Saudi Embassy in Sarajevo.

The inauguration was held at the King Fahd Cultural Center in the presence of the Grand Mufti of Bosnia and Herzegovina Dr. Husein Kavazovic, Saudi Ambassador Osama bin Dakhil Al-Ahmadi and Amer Al-Onzi, religious attache at the Saudi Embassy.

The two programs include providing 20,000 iftar meals for people breaking their fasting, and distributing 10 tons of dates to charities and Islamic centers in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Kavazovic said he appreciated the continuous support of the Saudi king and crown prince to Bosnia and Herzegovina and its people.

Kavazovic added that the king and crown prince have a special interest in Islam and Muslims worldwide, including this valuable annual gift.

The ministry launched a similar project in Jordan on Wednesday at the Saudi embassy in Amman, the SPA reported.

Abdullah Al-Dulaij, the Islamic counselor in charge of the embassy, said the program was an extension of the Saudi leadership’s long history of helping Muslims in need worldwide.

He praised the ministry’s efforts to implement the program to the fullest, and Saudi-Jordanian relations.

The program aims to distribute 12,500 meals to various Jordanian governorates, Palestinian and Syrian refugee camps, charities, orphanages, divorcees and widows.

Five tons of luxury dates will also be distributed, as will 5,000 copies of the Qur’an issued by the King Fahd Complex for the Printing of the Holy Qur’an in Madinah.

Source: Arab News

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://www.arabnews.com/node/2275211/saudi-arabia

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North America

 

Biden warns Iran after tit-for-tat strikes in Syria

Mar 25, 2023

WASHINGTON: President Joe Biden on Friday warned Iran that the United States would "act forcefully" to protect Americans, after the US military carried out air strikes against Iran-backed forces in retaliation for an attack in Syria.

Later, officials said that another US service member was wounded on Friday in the latest tit-for-tat strike between Iran-backed forces and US personnel in Syria.

That comes on top of seven casualties on Thursday, which Washington blamed on a drone of Iranian origin, and included an American contractor being killed and five US troops and another contractor being wounded.

Suspected US rocket fire on Friday targeted new areas in eastern Syria, according to two local sources, with no casualties reported. Pro-Iranian forces in Syria said in an online statement late Friday that they have a "long arm" to respond to further US strikes on their positions.

The violence could further aggravate already strained relations between Washington and Tehran, as attempts to revive a 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and major powers stalled, and Iranian drones being used by Russia against Ukraine.

Although US forces stationed in Syria have been attacked with drones before, deaths are rare.

"Make no mistake: the United States does not ... seek conflict with Iran, but be prepared for us to act forcefully to protect our people," Biden told reporters during a visit to Canada.

Asked whether there should be a higher cost for Iran, Biden replied: "We’re not going to stop."

The Pentagon had said US F-15 jets on Thursday attacked two facilities used by groups affiliated with Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC).

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which monitors the war in Syria, said the US strikes had killed eight pro-Iranian fighters. Reuters was unable to independently confirm the toll.

Iran's state Press TV said no Iranians had been killed and quoted local sources as saying the target was not an Iran-aligned military post, but that a rural development center and a grain center near a military airport had been hit.

DRONE STRIKE

The US strikes were a response to a drone attack earlier on Thursday on a base near Hasakah in northeast Syria operated by a US -led coalition battling the remnants of Islamic State.

Three service members and a contractor required medical evacuation to Iraq, while two wounded American troops were treated at the base. On Friday, the Pentagon said the injured personnel were in stable condition.

Two US officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, said it appeared that the defensive system on the base had failed.

The Pentagon said the US military had a complete site picture in terms of radar, though one official told Reuters troops on the ground did not appear to have had enough time to react to the drone.

A US base at the Al-Omar oil field in Syria was attacked on Friday morning, according to the Lebanese pro-Iranian TV channel Al Mayadeen and a security source.

It is not uncommon for Iranian-backed groups to fire missiles at US bases in Syria after they are hit with air strikes.

US forces first deployed into Syria during the Obama administration's campaign against Islamic State, partnering with a Kurdish-led group called the Syrian Democratic Forces. There are about 900 US troops in Syria, most of them in the east.

US troops have been attacked by Iranian-backed groups about 78 times since the beginning of 2021, according to the US military.

Source: Times Of India

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https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/us/biden-warns-iran-after-tit-for-tat-strikes-in-syria/articleshow/98982326.cms

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US, Saudi Arabia complete first counter-drone exercise at Red Sands testing facility

24 March ,2023

The US and Saudi Arabia completed their first joint counter-drone exercise last week at a new military testing center in Riyadh, according to the head of the United States Central Command (CENTCOM).

The exercise was the first of its kind between the two militaries, and US officials hope to replicate this with other armies in the region.

The Red Sands Experimentation Center had been under discussion for some time. The US military said it would serve as an innovative approach to training and readiness between Washington and its Middle East partners.

Last week’s exercises were not highly publicized, but officials have said this was just the beginning of what they hope would be more in-depth and sophisticated drills.

The focus was on small Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS), an official with knowledge of the exercise said.

On Thursday, CENTCOM chief Gen. Erik Kurilla told lawmakers on the House Armed Services Committee that the counter-UAS drills involved live-fire exercises and allowed for studying complex threats and identifying weaknesses in other areas to counter drone activities.

He also hinted that directed energy weapons could be brought into the region at a later date in what is expected to be for air defense purposes.

Hours after Gen. Kurilla’s testimony on Capitol Hill, a one-way Iranian attack drone targeted US forces in Syria. An American contractor was killed, and five other troops were wounded alongside another US contractor.

Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin said that the US retaliated, striking targets inside Syria linked to Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC). He said the US airstrikes were in response to Thursday’s attack as well as a series of recent attacks against US and Coalition forces by groups backed by Iran.

On Thursday, Gen. Kurilla said that US forces had suffered 78 Iranian attacks since January 2021. The US had only responded three times, according to CENTCOM.

Last week’s joint exercise comes at a time when Saudi Arabia and Iran have agreed to normalize ties and restore diplomatic relations.

While Gen. Kurilla was asked several times during his Thursday testimony about the agreement, he repeatedly stated that it still needed to be implemented. Kurilla also said the mere fact that the Chinese-backed deal was reached did not mean that Iran’s malign activity was no longer a concern of regional countries.

Melissa Horvath, a non-resident senior fellow at the Middle East Institute (MEI), said the Red Sands exercises were an important way for the US to show continued commitment to Saudi Arabia and to build regional cooperation among Middle East allies in ways that go beyond traditional security assistance programs such as foreign military sales.

In recent years, the US has been accused of becoming disinterested, disengaged and leaving the Middle East to respond to more acute threats from Russia and China. This narrative has picked up steam since the Biden administration took office and the start of the Russian war on Ukraine.

Further criticism was levied upon the administration following this month’s diplomatic breakthrough between Riyadh and Tehran, which Beijing mediated. Washington said that China came through at the tail end of the negotiations and took the credit for what had been in the works for years.

“While the recent Chinese-brokered Saudi-Iran deal may de-escalate tensions in the region, it’s unlikely to eliminate all threats from small UASs - leaving continued opportunities for regional cooperation, new technologies, experimentation, and innovation,” Horvath told Al Arabiya English.

Source: Al Arabiya

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://english.alarabiya.net/News/middle-east/2023/03/24/US-Saudi-Arabia-complete-first-counter-drone-exercise-at-Red-Sands-testing-facility

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Biden vows ‘forceful’ response to Iranian attacks on US troops in Middle East

24 March ,2023

President Joe Biden said Friday that the US would respond “forcefully to protect our people” after multiple attacks believed to be carried out by Iran-backed groups targeted American forces in Syria.

“Make no mistake, the United States does not seek conflict with Iran but is prepared to act forcefully to protect our people,” the US president said while visiting Canada.

A US base in northeast Syria was attacked on Friday in the second such incident in two days, but the Pentagon said no American troops were killed or injured.

The missile attack did not cause any damage to infrastructure in what one US official said was “an ineffective attack.”

The United States Central Command (CENTCOM) said that 10 rockets targeted Coalition forces at the Green Village in northeast Syria on Friday morning. No US or Coalition personnel were injured and there was no damage to US equipment or facilities.

One of the rockets missed the facility by almost five kilometers, hit a civilian home and injured two women and two children, according to CENTCOM.

“This kind of indiscriminate rocket attack places not only our forces and coalition forces at risk, but also jeopardizes the local civilian population as well as the security and stability of Syria and the entire region,” CENTCOM Spokesman Col. Joe Buccino said in a statement.

“As President Biden has made clear, we will take all necessary measures to defend our people and will always respond at a time and place of our choosing,” he added.

US forces carried out a retaliatory strike against pro-Iran targets in Syria on Thursday night following an earlier attack on a different US base, which killed an American contractor and wounded five US service members and another US contractor.

The US has not provided details about its operation other than to say it was conducted in eastern Syria against facilities used by groups affiliated with Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC). “These precision strikes are intended to protect and defend US personnel. The United States took proportionate and deliberate action intended to limit the risk of escalation and minimize casualties,” US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin said afterward.

“No group will strike our troops with impunity,” Austin warned.

Local media reported late Friday that US forces and Iran-backed militants were engaged in back-and-forth fire at multiple locations inside Syria.

Criticism of Biden

Republican lawmakers voiced their frustration with the attacks on US troops and blamed the US president.

Senator Lindsey Graham said in a tweet that the ultimate blame for the “failing foreign policy and military situation we find ourselves in lies with President Biden.” He later called for attacking Iranian refineries in response. “For every attack against Americans in the future, take down an Iranian refinery and their oil and gas infrastructure. That would send a strong message,” Graham suggested.

Speaking about the 78 Iranian attacks on US forces since 2021, Michigan Congresswoman Lisa McClain said, “President Biden’s weak leadership is putting our servicemen and women at risk!”

Source: Al Arabiya

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://english.alarabiya.net/News/middle-east/2023/03/24/Missile-attack-targets-U-S-base-in-east-Syria-Security-source-media

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US strikes aimed at protecting personnel, combatting ISIS: White House

24 March ,2023

US strikes in Syria were aimed at protecting American personnel in the country, where Islamic State and Iran-backed militant groups remain a threat, White House national security spokesman John Kirby said on Friday.

Source: Al Arabiya

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://english.alarabiya.net/News/middle-east/2023/03/24/US-strikes-aimed-at-protecting-personnel-combatting-ISIS-White-House

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US prepared to act 'forcefully' to protect personnel in Syria: Biden

Rabia İclalTuran

25.03.2023

WASHINGTON

President Joe Biden said Friday that the US "does not seek conflict with Iran" but is prepared to “act forcefully” to protect American personnel in Syria.

“That's exactly what happened last night,” Biden told reporters in Canada during a news conference with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

Biden started his speech by noting his national security team informed him about a deadly drone by Iranian-backed groups against a US base in Syria on Thursday, which killed an American contractor and injured five service members along with another contractor.

Biden said he ordered his team to formulate an “immediate response,” noting that US airstrikes in Syria targeted those responsible for the attack.

“My heart and deepest condolences to the family of the American we lost and wish speedy recovery for those who are wounded,” he said. “But I'm also grateful for the professionalism of our service members who so ably carried out this response.”

The US conducted airstrikes Thursday against Iran-backed groups in response.

Source: Anadolu Agency

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://www.aa.com.tr/en/americas/us-prepared-to-act-forcefully-to-protect-personnel-in-syria-biden/2855100

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US forces in northeast Syria come under attack for 2nd straight day

Michael Hernandez

24.03.2023

WASHINGTON

US forces stationed at a military facility in northeast Syria came under rocket attack on Friday in what marks the second straight day of attacks on American troops in the country as tensions continue to escalate.

In all, 10 rockets targeted the Green Village in northeast Syria, but no injuries or damage at the facility were recorded, the Central Command said in a statement.

But one of the rockets veered off course and missed the Green Village by 5 kilometers (3 miles), striking a house and "causing significant damage" and injuring two women and two children, it added.

The Green Village is located at the al-Omar gas field, and about 900 US troops are stationed there.

“This kind of indiscriminate rocket attack places not only our forces and coalition forces at risk, but also jeopardizes the local civilian population as well as the security and stability of Syria and the entire region,” said Central Command spokesperson Col. Joe Buccino.

“As President Biden has made clear, we will take all necessary measures to defend our people and will always respond at a time and place of our choosing,” he added.

The US conducted retaliatory airstrikes Thursday against Iran-backed groups in eastern Syria in response to a drone attack that killed a US contractor and injured five service members.

The Pentagon said in a statement that a suicide drone "struck a maintenance facility on a Coalition base near Hasakah in northeast Syria" on Thursday afternoon, which resulted in the injury of another US contractor.

According to the statement, "the intelligence community assesses the UAV to be of Iranian origin.”

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said he authorized US Central Command forces to conduct precision airstrikes "against facilities used by groups affiliated with Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC)" at the direction of President Joe Biden.

Source: Anadolu Agency

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://www.aa.com.tr/en/americas/us-forces-in-northeast-syria-come-under-attack-for-2nd-straight-day/2855040

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Pakistan

 

Imran asks people to ‘assert their right’ as free nation and attend Minar-i-Pakistan rally today

March 25, 2023

PTI Chairman Imran Khan on Saturday called on supporters to “assert their right as people of a free nation” by attending his party’s rally at the Minar-i-Pakistan today, where he intends to outline his “vision of Haqeeqi Azadi”.

In a tweet today, the PTI chief said his party would be holding its sixth public gathering at Minar-i-Pakistan, which he felt would “break all records”.

“My heart tells me it will break all records. I am inviting everyone in Lahore to attend after Tarawih prayers. I will give my vision of Haqeeqi Azadi and how we will pull Pakistan out of the mess cabal of crooks have put our country in,” Imran said.

While expressing concerns that the government may erect obstacles to prevent party supporters from reaching the venue, Imran asserted that it was the fundamental right of the people to participate in a political gathering.

“Everyone must assert their right as people of a free nation that won its independence and come to Minar-i-Pakistan,” he told his supporters.

According to PTI’s official Twitter account, the rally will begin after Taraveeh prayers at 9pm.

The former premier had on March 13 announced a rally at the Minar-i-Pakistan — the same venue where he launched his campaign for the 2013 elections with a massive show of power — would take place on March 19 but the Lahore High Court had directed the PTI to reschedule its rally and have a dialogue with the administration.

Subsequently, the LHC had on March 22 disposed of a petition of the PTI seeking permission to hold a public rally at venue after the party and the city administration reached an agreement.

Lahore PTI president Imtiaz Mahmood, the petitioner, had submitted his affidavit accepting the terms and conditions along with his undertaking that the rally at the venue will start on March 25 (today) at 10pm and will end around March 26 at 3am. The DC and the CCPO accepted the affidavit and the undertaking filed by the petitioner.

The PTI chief kicked off his election campaign from Lahore at the end of second week of March following wrangling with the interim government of Punjab over ban imposed by local administration on public gatherings.

The rally was originally scheduled for March 11 and March 12 but was postponed after the party failed to get relief either from the Election Commission or the Lahore High Court against the caretaker Punjab government’s order of imposing Section 144 in the provincial capital.

Source: Dawn

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://www.dawn.com/news/1744139/imran-asks-people-to-assert-their-right-as-free-nation-and-attend-minar-i-pakistan-rally-today

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‘Politically savvy’ Pakistanis do not need outside advice: FO

Iftikhar A. Khan

March 25, 2023

ISLAMABAD: Underlining that Pakistan was a confident democratic country, the Foreign Office on Friday expressed confidence that outside voices could not influence the nation’s democratic polity and governance.

“People of Pakistan are wise enough to make political decisions on their own and do not need outside advice,” Mumtaz Zahra Baloch, spokeswoman for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, told a weekly press briefing.

She was responding to a volley of questions about a fresh series of pro-Imran Khan tweets by former US envoy for Afghanistan Zalmay Khalilzad and comments by various members of the US congress about political developments in Pakistan.

She was also asked to comment on media reports suggesting that Pakistan’s ambassador to Saudi Arabia, Ameer Khurram Rathore, was being called back just after serving there for a little over a year for supposedly playing a role in restoring relations between PTI chief Imran Khan and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

Spokesperson terms reports of diplomat’s replacement in Saudi Arabia ‘speculation.

To this, Ms Baloch said: “I do not have any personnel announcement at this stage. Postings and transfers are normal happenings in this ministry. I do not, therefore, want to add to speculation in the media.”

However, she said some of these reports about Mr Rathore were incorrect and unfair, as he was a “highly professional diplomat who has served Pakistan well for several years and will continue to do so in the future”.

The development comes after former prime minister Imran Khan revealed last month that he was still in touch with the Saudi crown prince.

Mr Rathore was appointed Pakistan’s ambassador to Saudi Arabia in February last year. He replaced Bilal Akbar, a retired general, who had also been prematurely removed.

When a questioner recalled that this was happening for the second time, Ms Baloch insisted that most media reports about postings and transfers were based on speculation. “I would only be able to comment when I have confirmed personnel transfer information. At this stage, we cannot comment on any personnel transfers,” she said.

On other developments, the foreign ministry spokeswoman said the Pakistan-Malaysia Bilateral Political Consultations would be held next week in Kuala Lumpur. The agenda includes discussions on political, security and military cooperation, trade and investment ties, and cooperation in science and technology, health, tourism and culture.

She said the two sides would also exchange views on regional and global issues, including developments in the Asia-Pacific region, climate change and Islamophobia.

On a question about hideouts of the outlawed Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) in Afghanistan and the group’s involvement in terrorism activities in Pakistan, she said: “We are in contact with the Afghan interim authorities on security and counterterrorism matters, including our concerns regarding terrorist entities which have hideouts in Afghanistan. Our security agencies are in contact.”

Recalling the defence minister’s recent visit to Afghanistan, Ms Baloch said all these matters were discussed. “We expect the Afghan authorities to take action against these terrorist entities and to ensure that they do not pose a threat to Pakistani people and Pakistani security forces,” she said.

Source: Dawn

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://www.dawn.com/news/1744100/politically-savvy-pakistanis-do-not-need-outside-advice-fo

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PTI chief only wants to talk to establishment, says Asif

Syed Irfan Raza

March 25, 2023

ISLAMABAD: The government once again extended an olive branch to the PTI on Friday, inviting the party to the negotiating table to sort out important national issues, but deplored that PTI chief Imran Khan was adamant to hold talks with the establishment alone.

“He [Imran] has offered to talk to the military leadership several times, but not the political leadership. Despite the fact that the present government has stated on so many occasions that it’s willing to hold dialogue, Imran kept on insisting on holding negotiation with the establishment and went to the extent of trying to approach the present leadership of Pakistan Army,” Defence Minister Khawaja Asif told a news conference.

Flanked by Information and Broadcasting Minister Marriyum Aurangzeb, Mr Asif spoke to members of the foreign press corps about the so-called PTI narrative and subversion of the Constitution.

“PTI chief approached former army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa multiple times through the president and even offered him an extension. Despite all his claims, Imran has not materially offered anything to the present government for dialogue,” he added.

The defence minister said the government was ready to hold talks for the sake of peace in the country. “Consensus is needed on major issues that Pakistan has been facing for the last few years,” he added.

“We are not in favour of a transactional dialogue [but] need something which is comprehensive, which covers everything,” he said, adding that the government was ready to hold a comprehensive dialogue with PTI for the sake of the country’s prosperity and national interest.

He said a lot has happened over the last year in the political journey of the opposition. “Imran Khan’s political journey started with a cipher,” he added.

First, Mr Khan alleged that a conspiracy was hatched against his regime. “The US was accused of hatching that conspiracy against Pakistan and Imran Khan’s government, but the same PTI people are now seeking help from the alleged perpetrators of the foreign conspiracy,” he added.

Although he accused Shireen Mazari of writing to the US, she had actually written to the UN to point out alleged rights abuses by the incumbent government.

Khawaja Asif said nowhere in the world a suspect had ever refused to appear before a court of law. “But Imran Khan refused to appear in the courts on different pretexts and security reasons or reasons of being victimised,” he added.

The minister pointed out that during his (Imran Khan’s) regime as well as before his government opposition workers and leaders were arrested and they always submitted to the law in a very graceful and dignified manner as political workers.

He claimed that victimisation of the opposition was unprecedented in Mr Khan’s era. “We have seen that when politicians were victimised during martial law and military governments. But the sort of victimisation and hounding that happened during the PTI government was never there,” he added.

Source: Dawn

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://www.dawn.com/news/1744051/pti-chief-only-wants-to-talk-to-establishment-says-asif

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DM Asif Calls for a Comprehensive Not Transactional Dialogue With PTI

By Nizamuddin Rezahi

March 24, 2023

Pakistan’s Defense Minister, Khawaja Muhammad Asif on Friday said the government was ready for a comprehensive dialogue with the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) for the sake of the country’s prosperity and national interest.

Minister Asif said, the government is committed to continuing negotiating with the opposition party, however, transactional dialogue is not an option, as nothing would come out of it.

Addressing a news conference, with the foreign media, the Defense Minister briefed the foreign correspondents on the so-called PTI narrative and subversions of the constitution.

Khawaja Asif said, “We assumed this government almost a year back. We are completing one year in power as a result of the successful vote of no confidence against the then government.”

It is reported that Shireen Mazari, Former Minister of Human Rights of Pakistan has written a letter to the US raising the issue of so-called human rights violations in Pakistan. Following the dismissal of Imran Khan from power nearly a year ago, the US was accused of conspiracy against Pakistan and Imran Khan’s government. 

Mr. Asif further added that nowhere in the world an accused had ever refused to appear in court, however, Imran Khan refused to appear in the courts on different pretexts such as security reasons and being victimized.

He said when the police team was sent to arrest him, the police were attacked as a result at least 80 police officers were injured. Imran Khan’s supporters pitched battle outside his residence. This has never happened in Pakistan before.

Arresting political figures accused of alleged charges is a common practice worldwide. Similarly, in Pakistan, politicians have been arrested in the past but none resisted like Imran Khan and his party members.

Source: Khaama Press

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https://www.khaama.com/ialogue-with-pti-dm-asif-says/

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Pakistan gets $2bn rollover deposits from China for IMF bailout: Report

Mar 25, 2023

ISLAMABAD : Cash-strapped Pakistan has received a rollover of $2 billion in deposits for a period of one year from its all-weather ally China to help Islamabad get a much-required bailout from the IMF to stabilise its economy, a media report said on Friday.

The rollover, which basically is not a loan but a financial deposit to be kept at Pakistan’s central bank for a period of one year, is one of the requirements of IMF in meeting its external financing needs in order to move towards inking the staff-level agreement, The News International reported.

Source: Times Of India

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/pakistan/pakistan-gets-2bn-rollover-deposits-from-china-for-imf-bailout-report/articleshow/98982483.cms

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Pakistan Court Grants Extension Of Anticipatory Bail To Imran Khan In Five Terrorism Cases

Mar 24, 2023

LAHORE: A top Pakistani court on Friday extended till March 27 the protective bail granted to former prime minister Imran Khan in five cases related to terrorism after he appeared before a two-member bench here.

The Lahore High Court (LHC) granted the extension of anticipatory bail to Khan after the 70-year-old chief of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) appeared before it amidst tight security.

Last week, Khan was granted anticipatory bail in these five cases till March 24.

Of the five cases, one is related to the alleged attack on the judicial complex in Islamabad in which the government law officer objected that Khan should secure protective bail from Islamabad court.

Khan told the LHC that last week on his appearance before a court in Islamabad police and FC (frontier constabulary) personnel fired teargas shells at his car and a clash took place between the PTI workers and police.

Besides, a plot was hatched to kill him there and that is why he returned to Lahore.

"My life is in danger I request the court to watch a video to see that I was waiting outside the judicial complex for 40 minutes as I am speaking the truth," he said and added he was facing a total of 140 cases out of which 40 were of terrorism and it is not humanly possible to appear in every case.

Khan also informed the court that despite its order the Punjab police raided his house in Zaman Park Lahore and damaged it and stole several articles.

"Is there a law of the jungle or Pakistan being a banana republic," he remarked.

The LHC's two-member bench comprising Justice Tariq Salim Sheikh and Justice Anwaar Hussain accepted Khan's plea and extended his protective bail in all five cases, including in judicial complex attack one, till March 27.

The court also issued notices to the Punjab government and the Inspector General of Police, Punjab over the raid at Khan's house.

Source: Times Of India

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/pakistan/pakistan-court-grants-extension-of-anticipatory-bail-to-imran-khan-in-five-terrorism-cases/articleshow/98976675.cms

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Balochistan MPAs want mosques, schools exempted from gas, power bills

March 25, 2023

QUETTA: The Balochistan Assembly adopted a resolution on Friday, demanding the provincial government exempt all government schools, mosques and madressahs from electricity and gas bills across the province.

The resolution was moved by opposition member Sanaullah Baloch of the Balochistan National Party-Mengal (BNP-M). The assembly session, held after a one-day interval, was presided over by Deputy Speaker Sardar Babar Khan Musakhail.

The resolution stressed that all sectors in the province were facing tough times, especially when it came to costly gas and electricity. Educational institutions, madressahs and mosques were particularly hit, and some of them had even been deprived of gas and power supply connections after they had failed to pay huge utility bills.

Against this backdrop, the house urged the government to exempt all these institutions from paying for these two utilities.

Source: Dawn

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://www.dawn.com/news/1744097/balochistan-mpas-want-mosques-schools-exempted-from-gas-power-bills

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How will situation in October be any better, asks Imran

Mansoor Malik

March 25, 2023

LAHORE: Visibly upset over the Election Commission of Pakistan’s decision to postpone the April 30 Punjab Assembly elections until October, Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf Chairman Imran Khan has asked how the situation would be any different five to six months from now.

“Will the economic or the security situation improve by then,” he asked, saying the ground realities suggested that the situation would be worse in October.

“Does this mean the ECP will stretch the elections even further,” he questioned, stressing that the nation was now looking towards the Supreme Court to uphold the Constitution of Pakistan.

Speaking to media persons after appearing at the Lahore High Court on Friday, the former prime minister said if authorities had decided once to violate the Constitution, anything could happen afterwards. Citing an example, he said Ziaul Haq had announced he would hold elections in 90 days but stretched it to 11 years.

Mr Khan said the PTI in particular and the people of Pakistan in general were looking towards the Supreme Court to act against the ‘law of the jungle’ as party leaders and workers were being picked up and their whereabouts were being kept hidden.

Referring to cases against PDM coalition leaders, the PTI chief said both PPP and PML-N had instituted some 95 per cent of these cases against each other when they were in power.

Claiming that the PTI did not institute any case against them, Mr Khan said Nawaz Sharif was caught in the Panama Papers case, while Ishaq Dar and Shehbaz Sharif’s son-in-law had absconded during the PML-N government. “Only one case against Shehbaz Sharif was registered during the PTI government,” he asserted.

The PTI chief said the entire nation had known him for the past 50 years, and yet around 40 terrorism cases had been registered against him. “Can anyone in the country believe that I committed terrorism 40 times,” he said, adding that the nation was now losing trust in the incumbent government.

Mr Khan said the country had been converted into a ‘banana republic’ where law and justice stood nowhere. He also regretted the treatment being meted out to his nephew, advocate Hassaan Niazi. “He gets bail in one case and gets arrested in another,” the PTI chief said.

In a video message to garner public participation in the party’s rally at the Minar-i-Pakistan, Mr Khan said he would hold this year’s first public rally at 9pm on Saturday (today), where he said he would also give a programme to pull the country out of the crises it currently faced.

Referring to his claim that Punjab’s inspector general of police was planning to kill him, the PTI chief claimed some senior police officers had told him about the “murder plan” and suggested that he move to Gilgit-Baltistan or Azad Jammu and Kashmir, where the PTI is in power.

“Life and death are in the hands of Allah. Whoever wants to kill me, come here to my Zaman Park residence [in Lahore] and target me. I will not run away for fear of death,” he said.

Source: Dawn

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://www.dawn.com/news/1744056/how-will-situation-in-october-be-any-better-asks-imran

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South Asia

 

Islamic Emirate Has Diplomats in 14 World Countries: Spokesman Mujahid

By BanafshaBinesh

The Islamic Emirate has sent diplomats to at least 14 countries, a spokesman said, adding that efforts are underway to take charge of other diplomatic missions abroad.

The Islamic Emirate’s spokesman, Zabiullah Mujahid, said that diplomats of the former government are continuing their activities in coordination with the Foreign Ministry.

“There could be some of them (diplomats) who have not been in contact with us, or they didn’t want to be in contact with us; anyway, they are the people who do not represent any side. But the diplomats are in contact with the Foreign Ministry. They represent the Islamic Emirate and the people of Afghanistan,” he said.

However, some diplomats of the former government who are in charge of Afghanistan’s diplomatic missions said that they do not have official relations with Kabul due to a lack of adherence to international norms by the Islamic Emirate.

“Some of them are influenced by the political situation in the country and they were forced to cooperate with the Taliban. Some of the embassies that are in Europe and the US, they indeed changed their course,” said Mehdi Minadi, a former diplomat.

“Regarding the institutions that are officially active or were active, the embassies and diplomatic missions, the Foreign Ministry... did not take immediate action over them to assess the situation of the embassies and political missions abroad,” said MirwaisGhiasi, a former diplomat.

“There is no official contact with the Kabul department. One of the main goals of the embassy is to provide consulate services very transparently and normally to citizens,” said Ahmad Khalid Akbar, the diplomat of Afghanistan’s embassy in Rome.

However, some political analysts believe that the fate of Afghanistan’s diplomatic missions abroad will not be clarified until the Islamic Emirate is recognized.

“The diplomats that are in Western countries--they are conducting consulate services for the Afghan refugees in these countries. This is a convenience but they should release their incomes transparently,” said Toreq Farhadi, political analyst.

Source: ToloNews

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://tolonews.com/index.php/afghanistan-182651

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ISIS Has Stronger Presence in Afghanistan, Top US General Says

By Nizamuddin Rezahi

March 25, 2023

Michael Kurilla, the commander of the US Central Command (CENTCOM) said that ISIS is stronger today in Afghanistan than last year following the withdrawal of US forces in August 2021.

While speaking to the members of the Armed Forces Committee of the US House of Representatives on Thursday, Kurilla stressed that ISIS (Daesh) fighters have expanded their domain of operation and have become stronger in Afghanistan.

The global organization has an office called the”Al-Siddiq” which is in charge of all ISIS operations in countries including Kazakhstan, Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, and Indonesia – having close contact with the group’s leadership, according to General Kurilla.

In response to the US general’s remarks, Taliban spokesperson Zabihullah Mujahid rejected the presence of ISIS militants in Afghanistan. Mujahid said that ISIS fighters have been suppressed and targeted across the country. They will not have a chance to excel under the Islamic Emirate regime.

Mujahid further added that the American commander’s remarks are in fact a campaign in favor of the ISIS militants, which must be stopped. 

Previously, General Kurilla has warned that within the next six months, ISIS in Afghanistan will have the potential to target the US and other Western countries’ interests. He further added that the militant group’s ability to conduct operations in Asia and Europe is rapidly expanding.

According to the assessment of the US General who addressed the US senate, ISIS will not be able to carry out terrorist attacks on the American mainland in the near future. However, he said that hundreds of American citizens abroad are vulnerable to attacks by the group.

Source: Khaama Press

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://www.khaama.com/isis-has-stronger-presence-in-afghanistan-top-us-general-says/

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Claims of IS presence in Afghanistan not true: Taliban's response to the US

Subodh Kumar

Mar 24, 2023

The Taliban on Friday refuted the claims made by a senior United States general that a division of the Islamic State based in Afghanistan will be able to target US citizens in Europe and Asia within six months.

"The statements of US officials about the number of IS in Afghanistan are not true. Daesh militants have already been reduced in ranks and suppressed," Zabihullah Mujahid, the Taliban-appointed spokesperson said.

The Taliban have also accused the United States of abetting IS terrorists. "The interest of the US officials in this matter and their grandiosity is aiding and abetting the ISIS insurgents, which should be stopped," Zabiullah said.

Last week, General Michael Kurilla, head of US Central Command, told Congress that "at least hundreds of thousands" of US citizens could be vulnerable to an attack by ISIS-K, which has the "ultimate goal to strike on the American homeland", the Daily Mail reported.

According to reports, ISIS-K -- the Islamic State in Khorasan -- is an IS affiliate based in Afghanistan and a staunch enemy of both the Taliban and the US.

"It is my commander's estimate that they can do an external operation against US or Western interests abroad in under six months with little to no warning," Kurilla said.

Source: IndiaToday

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://www.indiatoday.in/world/story/taliban-on-is-terrorists-in-afghanistan-us-islamic-state-could-hit-americans-in-west-asia-2351141-2023-03-24

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US working to assist Americans who want to leave Afghanistan: Blinken

25 March, 2023

Washington [US], March 25 (ANI): The US is working to assist 44 Americans who want to leave Afghanistan and numerous others who have been detained by the de facto authorities, according to Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Khaama Press reported.

Blinken was speaking before the Congress when members of the opposition Republican Party went on the offensive on the US exit from Afghanistan in 2021 and requested the release of a State Department internal dissent cable, according to Khaama Press.

On being asked how many Americans remain in the war-torn country, Blinken said: “There are several Americans whom the Taliban are detaining. We are working to secure their freedom.”

“The families have asked that we protect their identities and not speak publicly about their cases,” he said.

Source:ThePrint

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://theprint.in/world/us-working-to-assist-americans-who-want-to-leave-afghanistan-blinken/1471084/

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US imposed sanctions, banking restrictions primary cause of Afghanistan’s ongoing economic crisis: Taliban

25 March, 2023

Kabul [Afghanistan], March 25 (ANI): Afghanistan’s acting Foreign Minister under the caretaker Taliban regime, Amir Khan Muttaqi in an op-ed for Al Jazeera, said that the primary cause of the ongoing economic crisis in the country is the imposition of sanctions and banking restrictions by the US. He said that this impedes and delays efforts to address the humanitarian crisis, Tolo News reported.

The op-ed is titled: “Afghanistan is ready to work with the US, but sanctions must go.”

Muttaqi said that a unique opportunity has emerged to embark on rapprochement between Afghanistan and the world.

“We also understand that the globalised nature of modern relations means that all state actors must learn to live in harmony and peace with one another,” he said. “Such relations should be founded on the immutable principles of equality, mutual respect and cooperation through the pursuit of shared interests. Bearing this in mind, the current government of Afghanistan once again extends its hand of positive engagement to the world,” he said, according to Tolo News.

Muttaqi also wrote about the achievements of the Islamic Emirate since it came to power “despite the fact that we inherited a collapsed narco-state, with an emptied treasury, unpaid bills, millions of drug addicts, rampant corruption, universal poverty and unemployment and a stagnant economy.”

An international relations analyst, Nematullah Bizhan, recently said that: “The Taliban are trying to define their relations with the world. This is the need of the two sides.”

Afghanistan’s new leaders believe in dialogue and an exchange of ideas, Muttaqi said, “but it takes two hands to clap.” He called on the international community to respect Afghanistan’s independence, saying “the religious and cultural sensibilities call for a cautious approach.”

The international community has repeatedly called for human rights, women’s education, counter-terrorism efforts and assurances that Afghan soil will not be used by groups to attack foreign soil, as well as the formation of an inclusive government as preconditions for engagement with the Islamic Emirate, according to Tolo News.

“The US and international community are currently focused on the civil and political rights of the people and the issue of governance, which are the obstacles in the way if recognition,” said Javid Javid, another international relations analyst, as quoted by Tolo News.

Source:ThePrint

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://theprint.in/world/us-imposed-sanctions-banking-restrictions-primary-cause-of-afghanistans-ongoing-economic-crisis-taliban-2/1470906/

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Mideast

 

100,000 Muslims offer 1st Ramadan Friday prayer at Al-Aqsa

Abdel Ra'ouf D. A. R. Arnaout 

25.03.2023

JERUSALEM

Thousands of Palestinians from the occupied West Bank marched to the Al-Aqsa Mosque in East Jerusalem to mark the first Friday prayers of the fasting month of Ramadan, despite restrictions imposed by Israel.

“About 100,000 worshipers performed Friday prayers at Al-Aqsa Mosque,” Sheikh Azzam Al-Khatib, Director General of the Islamic Endowments Department in Jerusalem, told Anadolu.

Israeli police have been deployed since morning in the streets of the city, especially the Old City and its alleys, and the vicinity of Al-Aqsa Mosque.

Israeli police said it deployed “over 2,300 Jerusalem District police officers, border police officers, and other reinforcements” in East Jerusalem.

It said that it would allow a very small number of Gazans who obtained permits to enter East Jerusalem during the month of Ramadan.

Israel issued a decision Monday regarding the entry of West Bank residents to East Jerusalem to perform Friday prayers at Al-Aqsa Mosque.

Women of all ages, male children up to 12 years old and men older than 55 will be allowed to enter Al-Aqsa Mosque during Ramadan without a permit.

Israel, however, imposed a permit on men from 45 - 55 years old.

Source: Anadolu Agency

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://www.aa.com.tr/en/middle-east/100-000-muslims-offer-1st-ramadan-friday-prayer-at-al-aqsa/2855118

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Hamas: Confrontation against Israel to last until al-Aqsa Mosque's liberation

24 March 2023

Hamas vows that the Palestinian movement and its fellow resistance groups will keep up their confrontation against the Israeli regime until the complete liberation of the al-Aqsa Mosque from Tel Aviv's occupation.

Ali al-Amoudi, head of Hamas' media department in the Gaza Strip, where the movement is headquartered, made the remarks on Friday, the Palestinian Information Center news agency reported.

Amoudi was addressing a huge demonstration that was being held in support of resistance fighters, in the holy occupied city of al-Quds and the occupied West Bank.

The Israeli regime claimed existence in 1948 after occupying huge swathes of Palestinian territories, including the western part of al-Quds, during a Western-backed war. It occupied more land, namely the West Bank, which includes East al-Quds, and the Gaza Strip in another such war in 1967. The regime withdrew from Gaza in 2005, but has been keeping the enclave under an all-out crippling blockade and regular deadly strikes.

The al-Aqsa Mosque's compound, Islam's third holiest site, is located in al-Quds' Old City.

Ultra-Orthodox Israeli legislators and extremist settlers regularly storm the compound in the occupied city under strict protection provided by the Israeli military.

Hamas and other Palestinian groups denounce the raids as the regime's means of trying to tamper with the holy compound's status quo.

Pointing to the Israeli regime and its settlers' provocations, al-Amoudi likewise said the Israeli occupation was waging a religious war against the Palestinian holy sites in al-Quds.

He, however, affirmed that the Palestinian people all over occupied territories would always be united while confronting the Israeli occupation until there would be no place for the invaders.

"All [various Palestinian] fronts are united throughout Palestine," Amoudi said, describing Gaza as the "arrowhead" of the ongoing struggle against the occupying regime.

Source: Press TV

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://www.presstv.ir/Detail/2023/03/24/700392/Palestine-Israel-Hamas-occupation-al-Aqsa-Mosque

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Iran: Israeli Attack on Syria Endangering Peace in Region

2023-March-24

An Israeli strike hit the international airport in the Northwestern Syrian city of Aleppo for a second time in recent weeks, causing some “material damage” to it and taking the facility out of service.

The city of Aleppo, which suffered widespread destruction in the war, was again heavily damaged in the deadly 7.8-magnitude earthquake that hit Southern Turkey and Northwestern Syria last month. A number of countries have since sent aid shipments to the city’s airport.

Addressing a meeting of the United Nations Security Council on “The situation in the Middle East: (Syria)”, held in New York on Thursday, Ershadi said that while the international law prohibits targeting of vital civilian infrastructure and it is necessary to observe humanitarian principles, the Israeli regime continues to commit acts of aggression and terrorist attacks against Syria's sovereignty and territorial integrity by deliberately and systematically targeting its critical infrastructure.

“The Israeli regime, in line with its aggression and acts of terror, carried out several airstrikes on Aleppo International Airport on March 7, and temporarily took it out of service. Another terrorist attack happened just yesterday, March 22,” she continued.

“These terrorist attacks have severe humanitarian repercussions for the people of Aleppo, who are currently facing a humanitarian crisis, and will only worsen their situation. We strongly condemn these heinous crimes as they target civilian infrastructure and violate international humanitarian law as well as the United Nations Charter, and pose a serious threat to peace and stability in the region,” Ershadi added.

The senior Iranian diplomat noted that the international community must condemn such attacks and crimes, hold the Tel Aviv regime accountable for the crimes, and adopt necessary measures to prevent further encroachment on the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Syria.

“The Security Council, in particular, should put aside its dual standards, assume its responsibility, and condemn Israel for its constant violations of the fundamental principles of the international law and the UN Charter,” she stated.

“While we reiterate our commitment to the national sovereignty, independence, and territorial integrity of Syria, we will continue our sustained efforts together with our partners within the framework of the Astana process to secure a lasting normalcy of the situation in Syria,” the Iranian envoy highlighted.

Ershadi condemned the illegal presence of foreign military forces in Syria as a clear violation of the UN Charter and international law, which "constitutes the main source of insecurity in the country and must come to an end".

“We welcome the recent diplomatic contacts between Syria and regional and international partners. Improvement in Syria’s diplomatic relations within the region and beyond is critical to ensuring the country’s security, stability and prosperity. Such developments can especially contribute to the safe and sustainable return of refugees and internally displaced persons. We stand ready to offer assistance in this regard,” the Iranian envoy added.

She warned that "the humanitarian situation in Syria is still dire, especially after the recent devastating earthquake. We appreciate the UN and humanitarian agencies working tirelessly to provide aid and support to those affected in Aleppo, Hama and Lattakia".

“We call on the international community and donors to continue to support humanitarian efforts in Syria,” she stated.

“Iran appreciates the continuous efforts of the Syrian government to help and facilitate humanitarian aid to all parts of Syria. Iran insists that Resolution 2672 (2023) be fully implemented with focus on early and primary recovery projects that are vital for rebuilding Syria's infrastructure. These efforts should not only help the Syrian people, but would also pave the way for sustainable and long-term development in the country,” Ershadi pointed out.

“It is also very important that humanitarian aid be provided impartially, and without any discrimination, politicization or any other conditions. This is vital to ensure that the most vulnerable receive the aid they need and that humanitarian efforts are not hindered by external factors,” she said.

Ershadi also added the international community, in the meantime, should focus on removal of unilateral and inhumane Western sanctions in order to solve the ongoing humanitarian crisis in Syria more effectively.

“These illegal actions have made the Syrian people's access to basic needs very challenging and hindered the Syrian government's ability to provide essential services and improve conditions," she continued, stressing, "Iran was one of the first countries to respond to Syria's humanitarian requests."

Israel has been a key supporter of the terrorist groups during the war and has targeted the positions of the Syrian Army and resistance groups that have been fighting the militants.

Iranian officials have repeatedly denounced the Unite Nations Security Council for its silence in the face of the continued Israeli acts of aggression against Syria. They slammed Israeli attacks against civilian population and basic infrastructure in Syria as a flagrant violation of international law and humanitarian rights, and argued that the Security Council’s inaction has emboldened the Tel Aviv regime to broaden the scope of its aggression.

Since 2011, Syria has been gripped by foreign-backed militancy, as a result of which Daesh and other terrorist groups emerged in the country.

Israel frequently targets military positions inside Syria, especially those of the Lebanese resistance movement Hezbollah which has played a key role in helping the Syrian Army in its fight against foreign-backed terrorists.

Source: Fars News Agency

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://www.farsnews.ir/en/news/14020104000174/Iran-Israeli-Aack-n-Syria-Endangering-Peace-in-Regin

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Israel promotes bids for 1,000 settlement homes in West Bank, Jerusalem: Watchdog

25 March ,2023

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s far-right government authorized construction bids for over a thousand new homes in Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank and east Jerusalem, a watchdog group reported Friday, despite an Israeli pledge to halt settlement construction as part of efforts to curb a deadly wave of violence in the territory.

The Israel Land Authority published the tenders earlier this week for the construction of 940 homes in the West Bank settlements of Efrat and Beitar Ilit, as well as 89 homes in the Gilo settlement, which lies over the 1967 line on the southern edge of the contested capital of Jerusalem. The large settlement of Efrat sits deep in the West Bank, near the Palestinian city of Bethlehem.

Palestinians seek these lands, captured by Israel in the 1967 war, for a future independent state alongside Israel — a longstanding international goal. The Palestinian Foreign Ministry assailed the move as a betrayal of Netanyahu’s vow to freeze settlement construction, showing “official disregard for American and international reactions.”

The anti-settlement Israeli group Peace Now publicized the construction bids on Friday.

“This is yet another harmful and unnecessary construction initiative,” the group said, accusing the Israeli government of “trampling on the possibility of a future political agreement, and on our relations with the US and friendly countries.”

There was no immediate comment from Netanyahu’s office.

The new affront to the Palestinians came just a week after Israeli and Palestinian officials met in Egypt’s southern resort city of Sharm el-Sheikh in an effort to calm rising tensions ahead of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. After the meeting, Israel repeated a pledge made at a similar February summit in Aqaba, Jordan to temporarily freeze the approval of new settlement units in the West Bank.

The Palestinian Foreign Ministry criticized the tender approvals as “a blatant departure and deliberate sabotage of the understandings that were reached between the Palestinian and Israeli sides under American auspices.”

Last month, the Israeli government granted approval for over 7,000 new homes in Jewish settlements in the West Bank, including in four unauthorized outposts — despite a UN Security Council statement sharply criticizing Israeli settlement expansion and rising opposition from Israel’s allies, including the United States.

An Israeli official, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to brief journalists, described the publication of tenders this week as procedural, saying, “All of the agreements settled during the recent joint summits in Jordan and Egypt are being respected fully.”

Israel’s government, the most right-wing and religiously conservative in its history, has said it aims to entrench Israeli military rule in the West Bank, boost settlement construction and erase the differences for Israelis between life in the settlements and within the country’s internationally recognized borders. Netanyahu’s coalition includes ultranationalist settler leaders who live in the West Bank.

The international community, along with the Palestinians, considers settlement construction illegal or illegitimate. Over 700,000 Israelis now live in the occupied West Bank and east Jerusalem.

The settlement construction bids come against a background of heightened tensions with the Palestinians and a national crisis in Israel over a government plan to overhaul the judicial system, which critics fear will move Israel toward autocracy.

Source: Al Arabiya

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://english.alarabiya.net/News/middle-east/2023/03/25/Israel-promotes-bids-for-1-000-settlement-homes-in-West-Bank-Jerusalem-Watchdog

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Rare anti-Houthi protests in Yemen after activist’s death

24 March ,2023

Rare protests have erupted against Yemen’s Houthi militia following the funeral of a popular critic found dead after he was detained by the group.

Videos posted on social media showed hundreds of angry demonstrators carrying the body of Hamdi Abdul Razaq through the streets of Ibb province on Thursday.

Eyewitnesses, who asked to remain anonymous out of fear of reprisal, said the Thursday protests spanned several neighborhoods and protesters were heard chanting “No Houthis after today.”

Activists have accused the Houthis of abducting, torturing and killing Hamdi Abdul Razaq, who spoke out against the group in videos posted on Youtube. Followers knew him by his profile name, “Al-Mukohl.” He was reported dead by authorities late last week. His family have not commented on the incident.

In a series of videos, Abdul Razaq openly criticized Houthi rule, branding its administration as corrupt and repressive.

In a statement following Thursday’s protest, the Houthis claimed Abdul Razaq had been detained for insulting another influential family in the area. On Sunday, he escaped through a bathroom window of the police station and was found in a half-constructed building later that day, it said.

In a statement Thursday, the head of Yemen’s internationally recognized government, Rashed al-Alimi, offered his support to the protesters. Al-Alimi said a monthly stipend would be given to Abdul Razaq’s family.

Mohammed Ali, a high-ranking Houthi figure, later said on Twitter that a committee had been set up to further investigate the incident.

His death comes amid a string of similar reported incidents. Earlier this year, a fruit and vegetable vendor from northern Houthi-held territories was abducted and killed, whipping up widespread anger across the divided country.

Source: Al Arabiya

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://english.alarabiya.net/News/gulf/2023/03/24/Rare-anti-Houthi-protests-in-Yemen-after-activist-s-death

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Tehran Calls on Paris to Engage in Dialogue with Anti-Macron Protesters

2023-March-24

Kana’ani, in a series of posts published on his Twitter page on Friday, reacted to mass protests over President Emmanuel Macron’s plan to lift the retirement age from 62 to 64 without a parliamentary vote.

“It is reported that protesters have set fire to the town hall in Bordeaux, and that firefighters have joined nationwide protests” in the latest of a series of violent demonstrations that are rocking France, the spokesperson stated.

“They that sow the wind shall reap the whirlwind,” the senior diplomat continued, adding that while Tehran does not support destruction and chaos; it declares that French officials should rather yield to their people’s demands and avoid violence against them than to provoke chaos in other countries.

He wrote in another tweet that the French government "should talk to its people and listen to their voices".

"This kind of violence has nothing to do with leaning on the chair of moral lessons and preaching to others," Kana'ani stressed.

“French protesters are also waiting to see the collective video clip of European, Australian and Canadian female ministers in support of French protesting women,” the spokesman pointed out.

French authorities struggled on Thursday to suppress the protests against Macron’s pension reform. Unions claimed 3.5 million people turned out across the country, while the authorities suggested the figure was much lower, at just under 1.1 million.

Tens of thousands of workers went on strike and demonstrators blocked public transportation, schools and oil refineries. Attempting to break up the protests, police used tear gas, water cannons, flash-bangs and batons. Videos and photos making rounds on social media showed heavily armored officers clubbing unarmed demonstrators.

The French government has also survived two parliamentary no-confidence votes over President Emmanuel Macron’s decision to push through a controversial pension reform bill without lawmakers’ approval.

Iran blasts the blatant violations of human rights in the US and Europe, stressing for the US, human rights is merely a tool for exerting political pressure on independent states to advance their foreign policy objectives. Officials in Tehran call on the international community to hold the US accountable for its crimes. They mocked the US claim over supporting Iranian women and girls amid harsh sanctions which have disrupted the ordinary lives of the people.

Tehran has also denounces the disturbing human rights situation in the European countries, and note the West does not have the authority to be the flag-bearer in this field.

Source: Fars News Agency

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://www.farsnews.ir/en/news/14020104000182/Tehran-Calls-n-Paris-Engage-in-Dialge-wih-Ani-Macrn-Presers

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Iran Underlines Sovereignty over Trio Persian Gulf Islands

2023-March-24

Kana'ani on Thursday welcomed a statement issued by the Persian Gulf Cooperation Council (PGCC) in support of an agreement on restoration of relations between Iran and Saudi Arabia, which were severed over the past seven years.

He expressed hope that the agreement between Tehran and Riyadh would play an effective role in increasing regional stability, security, peace and development and promoting dialogue-based approaches in the Persian Gulf region.

The senior diplomat once again commended effective efforts by China, Iraq and Oman to host the normalization talks, stating that the support of the regional countries for the accord indicates their will to promote diplomatic initiatives in the region.

In his remark, Kana'ani also reiterated Tehran's stance vis-à-vis the three Persian Gulf islands of Abu Musa, the Greater and Lesser Tunbs, adding they are an "integral and eternal" part of Iran.

In a Wednesday statement issued by the PGCC Ministerial Council at the end of its 155th session, the body had supported the UAE's claims to the islands and described them an indivisible part of the country.

The spokesperson further rejected claims by the PGCC Ministerial Council about the country's nuclear program.

"The Islamic Republic of Iran is aware of its international responsibilities and commitments and has always adhered to them," he stressed.

Kana'ani emphasized that Iran is in contact with the relevant parties to the 2015 nuclear deal, formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), based on the technical and political framework as per the agreement.

"Based on its strategic view and principled policies, the Islamic Republic of Iran has always considered interaction and cooperation with its neighbors as the best solution to regional issues and welcomed positive initiatives in the field of developing relations based on good neighborliness and international principles and rules," he continued.

In its statement, the PGCC Ministerial Council stressed the importance of Iran's commitment not to exceed the rate of uranium enrichment required for peaceful uses, and the need to fulfill its obligations and fully cooperate with the International Atomic Energy Agency.

Kana'ani also rejected the PGCC's claims about the smuggling of drones from Iran to Yemen and stressed the importance of practicing realism and promoting political approaches to end the crisis in the impoverished Arab country.

International documents clearly show that the three islands of the Greater Tunb, the Lesser Tunb and Abu Musa which were historically owned by Iran, temporarily fell to British control in 1903. The islands were returned to Iran based on an agreement in 1971 before the UAE was born.

Iran has repeatedly declared that its ownership of the three islands is unquestionable, and on numerous occasions stoutly rejected claims leveled by the Persian Gulf countries to the islands.

Source: Fars News Agency

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://www.farsnews.ir/en/news/14020104000090/Iran-Underlines-Svereigny-ver-Tri-Persian-Glf-Islands

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Weekly protests persist in Iran’s southeast amid internet disruption

24 March ,2023

Weekly protests against Iran’s clerical leaders continued in the southeastern province of Sistan-Baluchistan as thousands took to the streets on Friday, according to footage circulating on social media.

Videos posted on Twitter by Hal Vash, a group that monitors developments in the province, showed protesters in the provincial capital Zahedan shouting slogans against the country’s theocratic leaders, including Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, and the Basij, a paramilitary arm of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) often used in crackdowns on protests.

Videos on Twitter also showed protesters marching near Zahedan’s Makki Grand Mosque and chanting in support of MolaviAbdolhamid, Iran’s most prominent Sunni cleric.

He has been openly critical of the regime since nationwide protests erupted in Iran following the death of MahsaAmini, a 22-year-old Iranian Kurdish woman who died in police custody on September 16.

Internet blockage observatory NetBlocks reported a “significant disruption” to internet connectivity in Zahedan. “The incident follows an ongoing pattern of network blackouts targeting protests during Friday prayers,” it said on Twitter.

The protests sparked by Amini’s have largely subsided due to a deadly crackdown by authorities. However, they have continued in Sistan-Baluchistan, where they have been taking place weekly after Friday prayers.

Sistan-Baluchistan, which borders Pakistan, is one of Iran’s poorest regions and is mostly populated by Sunni ethnic Baluchis, a minority in predominantly Shia Iran. Human rights groups say they have faced discrimination and repression for decades.

“The clerics must get lost,” one video showed protesters chanting, referring to the country’s clerical leaders.

Amini died after her arrest by the morality police in Tehran for allegedly breaching the country’s strict dress rules for women. Her death triggered months of protests that quickly escalated into calls for the overthrow of the Islamic Republic.

Source: Al Arabiya

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://english.alarabiya.net/News/middle-east/2023/03/24/Weekly-protests-persist-in-Iran-s-southeast-amid-internet-disruption

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Africa

 

Ramadan: Kaduna Muslims pray for political leaders, peace in Nigeria

March 24, 2023

By John Gabriel

As Muslims across Kaduna joined the Ramadan fasting, prayers were offered for continuous peace and loving kindness in the state and Nigeria at large.

The Muslim faithful also offered prayers for elected political office holders in the state and Nigeria, beseeching God to give them wisdom, knowledge and understanding to be able to provide dividends of democracy to the people of the state and the country.

The imam of Kakuri Mosque, Alhaji Ibrahim Musa noted that the holy month of Ramadan is specially for prayers to God, for blessings in all aspects of life.

According to him: “Whatever we ask God from the depth of our hearts, believing with our hearts and works of righteousness, must surely come.”

Also, Alhaji Tijani Ahmadu Bello, the imam of Nasarawa mosque, stressed that the holy month of Ramadan is specifically set aside to seek forgiveness, and ask God for specific needs.

Source: DailyPost Nigeria

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://dailypost.ng/2023/03/24/ramadan-kaduna-muslims-pray-for-political-leaders-peace-in-nigeria/

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African migrants stuck in Tunisia say racism persists after crackdown

March 24, 2023

BEIRUT: Weeks after a violent crackdown on migrants in Tunisia that triggered a perilous rush to leave by smuggler boats for Italy, many African nationals are still homeless and jobless and some say they still face racist attacks.

Outside the UN refugee agency in Tunis, dozens of African migrants stood protesting this week by the temporary camp where they have lived, including with children, since authorities urged landlords to force them from their homes.

“We need evacuation. Tunisia is not safe. No one has a future here when you have this color. It is a crime to have this color,” said Josephus Thomas, pointing to the skin on his forearm.

In announcing the crackdown on Feb. 21, President Kais Saied said illegal immigration was a criminal conspiracy to change Tunisia’s demography, language the African Union described as “racialized hate speech.”

US Assistant Secretary of State Barbara Leaf said Saied’s comments had unleashed “attacks and a tidal wave of racist rhetoric,” with rights groups saying hundreds of migrants reported being attacked or insulted.

Saied and Tunisia’s foreign minister have rejected accusations that he or the government are racist and they announced steps to ease visa regulations for Africans and reminded police of anti-racism laws.

While the official crackdown appeared to end weeks ago, migrants say they still face abuse.

“People told me ‘since you are in our country after the president’s speech, don’t you have any dignity?’ I kept silent and they told me I am dirt,” said Awadhya Hasan Amine, a Sudanese refugee outside the UNHCR headquarters in Tunis.

Amine has lived in Tunis for five years after fleeing Sudan and then Libya with her husband. Now 30, she has been living on the street outside the UNHCR headquarters since local people pelted her house in the capital’s Rouad district with rocks.

“We want to live in a place of safety, stability and peace. We don’t want problems in Tunisia,” she said.

Although some West African countries evacuated hundreds of their citizens earlier this month, many remain stuck in Tunisia, unable to support themselves let alone afford passage home or pay smugglers hundreds of dollars to ferry them to Europe.

“Tunisia is an African country. Why do they do racist things to us?” said Moumin Sou, from Mali, who was sacked from his job working behind a bar after the president’s speech and was beaten up the next day by a man in the street who stole his money.

Sou wants to return home, he said, but many others are determined to travel on to Europe.

In the wake of the crackdown, in which police detained hundreds of undocumented migrants and authorities urged employers to lay them off and landlords to evict them, smuggler crossings to Italy have surged.

Source: Arab News

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://www.arabnews.com/node/2275086/middle-east

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Algerian ambassador to return to France in coming days: Elysee Palace

March 24, 2023

PARIS: Algeria’s ambassador to France will return to Paris in the coming days, French President Emmanuel Macron’s Elysee office said on Friday, in a move signalling a recovery in relations a month after a diplomatic spat.

The Elysee palace said that during a telephone conversation, Algerian President AbdelmadjidTebboune had told Macron that the ambassador would return.

In February, Algeria recalled its ambassador to Paris, accusing France of orchestrating the escape of an activist it wants for arrest and triggering a new crisis between the countries after months of warming relations.

Amira Bouraoui, a rights activist detained during the 2019 mass protests in Algeria and freed from prison in 2020, had allegedly crossed into Tunisia illegally after evading Algerian judicial surveillance, according to Algerian and French media.

She was arrested in Tunisia in early February but was later allowed to fly to France, French media have reported.

“The two heads of state have discussed the conditions of the departure from Tunisia and arrival in France... of a Franco-Algerian national ... this discussion has cleared up misunderstandings,” the Elysee statement said.

Source: Arab News

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://www.arabnews.com/node/2274986/middle-east

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Algeria to send imams to Italy for Taraweeh prayers

FRANCESCO BONGARRA

March 24, 2023

ROME: Twenty-nine imams from Algeria will be sent by their government to Italy to help local imams perform Taraweeh prayers during the holy month of Ramadan.

The imams will be sent “upon a specific request by the Italian authorities,” Algerian Religious Affairs Minister Youssef Belmehdi told state radio.

He added that 128 imams will be sent to France for the same purpose, and that Germany and Belgium have made similar requests.

A source in Italy’s Interior Ministry told Arab News that the request for imams from Algeria was made “so that all Muslims in Italy will be given good spiritual care during Ramadan.” The source said Algeria’s government “enthusiastically and promptly agreed” to the request.

Giuseppe Ciutti, a Catholic priest who is engaged in ecumenical dialogue, told Arab News: “At such an important time as Ramadan for Muslims, it’s important that everyone can get good spiritual assistance.”

Source: Arab News

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://www.arabnews.com/node/2274841/middle-east

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