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Islamic World News ( 22 May 2017, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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Manchester Arena: Police Arrest 23-Year-Old Man In Connection With Bombing That Killed 22


















UK police escort an injured woman outside Manchester Arena after reports of an explosion.

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Manchester Arena: Police Arrest 23-Year-Old Man In Connection With Bombing That Killed 22

Riyadh Arab-Islamic-American Summit Declaration ‘Fosters Peace’

Muslim Law Board Files Affidavit in SC, Says 'Triple Talaq Undesirable Practice, Will Issue Advisory against It'

'Why Did Pak PM Even Go To Riyadh?’ Pakistan Humiliated At US-Arab-Islamic Summit

Shabaab Spokesman Calls On Kenyan Jihadists to Form an ‘Army’

 

Europe

Manchester Arena: Police Arrest 23-Year-Old Man In Connection With Bombing That Killed 22

ISIS Supporters Cheering Manchester Arena Attack on Social Media, No Official Claim Yet

Osama Bin Laden Is Still Alive, Claims Snowden

France says not planning to reopen embassy in Syria

France gainsays Trump, highlights Iran's role in Mideast peace

Russia to lift some remaining trade sanctions on Turkey

German court puts on trial Syrian militant leader for war crimes

No Apology for Israel over Trump’s Disclosure to Russians

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Arab World

Riyadh Arab-Islamic-American Summit Declaration ‘Fosters Peace’

Islamic State Supporters Celebrate Manchester Attack Online, No Official Claim

EC Secretary Warns of S. Arabia's Dream to Become 2nd Saddam

Several Senior ISIL Commanders Escape Mosul City in Northern Iraq

Official: Iraqi Forces Control 97 Percent of Western Mosul

Kurdish-Led SDF Nearing ISIL-Held Large Dam in Northeastern Syria

Tens of Civilians Killed, Wounded in US-Led Coalition Air Attack in Northeastern Syria

Syrian Army Inches Closer to Last ISIL Bastion in Aleppo Province

Bahrain interior ministry tweets launch of security operation in Diraz

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India

Muslim Law Board Files Affidavit in SC, Says 'Triple Talaq Undesirable Practice, Will Issue Advisory against It'

Muslim Board Calls For Social Boycott of Those Who Resort To Triple Talaq

ATS to probe if Indian held in Pak joined LeT in 2006

Kashmir Cop Who Fled With Rifles Has Joined Hizbul Mujahideen

Cruel, says brother of man on jeep; NC calls it slap on Kashmir face

Punjab: Terror module with links in Pakistan, Canada busted, two held

Adnan Sami tweets on Donald Trump dancing in Saudi Arabia: Who says music is haraam in Islam?

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Pakistan

'Why Did Pak PM Even Go To Riyadh?’ Pakistan Humiliated At US-Arab-Islamic Summit

Counter Pakistan’s Support for the Taliban with Baloch Nationalism

Responsible role of media urged for religious tolerance

Security agencies arrest professor, his niece for links to Daesh

‘Buddhist monks acknowledge Pakistani support’

A Pakistani Hindu Forwards a Whatsapp Message, Gets Attacked By Mob on Allegations of Blasphemy

Pakistan will never be part of alliance against any Islamic country: Rana Sanaullah

Realignments in Asia a challenge for Pakistan, says Aizaz

TTP splinter groups ‘allowed’ opening offices in KP

Pakistani sympathisers split over Saudi-Iran spat

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Africa

Shabaab Spokesman Calls On Kenyan Jihadists to Form an ‘Army’

Nigeria’s Top Muslim Leader Calls for End to Child Beggars Recruited by Extremists

Tunisia protester ‘accidentally’ killed in south: ministry

Nigeria Seeks Islamic Bank's Support in Infrastructure Financing

Somalia: President Farmaajo Briefly Meets Trump in Riyadh, Appeals Backing

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North America

Iran Accuses US of 'Iranophobia', Arming 'Dangerous Terrorists'

Trump’s ‘Principled Realism’ Is Not Very Realistic about Islam

Trump Neglects to Make Positive Nod to Muslims in America

Toronto walking tour aims to build solidarity with Muslim neighbours

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Southeast Asia

Jakarta's Former Christian Governor to Withdraw Appeal of Blasphemy Sentence

Perlis Mufti Backs Non-Muslim’s Application to Be Shariah Lawyer

Indonesia: Proud ‘Model Muslim Country’ Scrambles to Fight Off Islamic Extremism

Teachers: Difficult for Muslim students in Indonesia to accept pluralism

In Kamarul Zaman’s book, non-Muslims can’t write about their faith

Court rejects Perkasa’s help in ex-DPM’s son’s Shariah Bill lawsuit

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Mideast

Trump Smearing Reputation of Palestinian Resistance: Hamas

Al Qaeda Militants Killed In Special Forces Raid in Yemen: US Military

Iran remains on Trump’s nerves as he visits Jerusalem

Tense trial opens of alleged Turkey coup ringleaders

King Salman orders a supply of drug trucks to battle cholera epidemic in Yemen

Trump administration wavers on whether ‘Western Wall a part of Israel’

UN envoy for Yemen hopes for ceasefire before Ramadan begins

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South Asia

Bangladesh: Is Recognising Qawmi Madrasas Mainstreaming Or Appeasement?

5 ISIS Militants Killed, 6 Wounded In Afghan Forces Operations in Nangarhar

Mayor Khokon: Stern actions for violating holiness of Ramadan

Conflicting reports regarding Afghan police casualties in Helmand

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau

URL: http://www.newageislam.com/islamic-world-news/new-age-islam-news-bureau/manchester-arena--police-arrest-23-year-old-man-in-connection-with-bombing-that-killed-22/d/111254

 

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Manchester Arena: Police Arrest 23-Year-Old Man In Connection With Bombing That Killed 22

May 23, 2017

MANCHESTER: Nineteen people have been killed in a suspected terrorist attack during a pop concert+ by US star Ariana Grande in the northwest English city of Manchester, police said on Tuesday.

A fleet of ambulances was seen rushing to the venue and bomb disposal teams were dispatched soon after, as city residents opened up their doors to stranded concert-goers after train services were shut down.

" So far 22 people have been confirmed dead+ , with around 50 others injured. This is currently being treated as a terrorist incident until police know otherwise," police said in a statement.

Police carried out a controlled explosion in a small park near the venue a few hours after the blast but said the item turned out to be only abandoned clothes.

There was mass panic after the explosion at the end of the concert, which was part of Grande's The Dangerous Woman Tour. The singer was not injured, according to a representative.

Witnesses reported hearing two loud bangs coming from near the arena's bars at about 10:35pm but there were few further details.

"A huge bomb-like bang went off that hugely panicked everyone and we were all trying to flee the arena," concertgoer Majid Khan, 22, told Britain's Press Association. "It was one bang and essentially everyone from the other side of the arena where the bang was heard from suddenly came running towards us as they were trying to exit."

Added Oliver Jones, 17: "The bang echoed around the foyer of the arena and people started to run."

Video from inside the arena showed concertgoers screaming as they made their way out amid a sea of pink balloons.

Manchester Arena, the largest indoor arena in Europe, opened in 1995 and is a popular concert and sporting venue.

Ariana Grande 'broken' after concert attack

US pop star Ariana Grande late Monday said she felt at a loss for words after a suspected terror attack at her concert in the British city of Manchester.

"Broken," she wrote in her first reaction on Twitter.

"From the bottom of my heart, I am so so sorry. I don't have words," she wrote.

Grande, a 23-year-old former child star, is not known for her political views and draws an audience of teenagers and pre-teenagers.

Suicide bomber?

There was no immediate claim of responsibility, but US officials drew parallels to the coordinated attacks in November 2015 by Islamist militants on the Bataclan concert hall and other sites in Paris, which claimed about 130 lives.

Two US officials who spoke on condition of anonymity said that initial signs pointed to a suicide bomber as being responsible for the blast.

"The choice of venue, the timing and the mode of attack all suggest this was terrorism," said a US counter terrorism official who also spoke on condition of anonymity.

Britain's terrorist threat level has been set at "severe" in recent years indicating an attack is highly likely.

British counter-terrorism police have said they are making on average an arrest every day in connection with suspected terrorism.

In March, a British-born convert to Islam ploughed a car into pedestrians on London's Westminster Bridge, killing four people before stabbing to death a police officer who was on the grounds of parliament. He was shot dead at the scene.

In 2015, Pakistani student Abid Naseer was convicted in a US court of conspiring with al Qaeda to blow up the Arndale shopping center in the center of Manchester in April 2009.

British Prime Minister Theresa May said the government is working to establish "the full details of what is being treated by the police as an appalling terrorist attack."

She said her thoughts are with the victims and the families of those who have been affected. The government is expected to call an emergency Cabinet meeting.

Police advised the public to avoid the area around the Manchester Arena.

Train services to and from Manchester Victoria Station — located under the Arena — had been cancelled.

"Disruption is expected to continue until the end of the day," National Rail said in a statement.

British Transport Police said in a statement: "Officers are at Manchester Arena following reports of an explosion within the foyer area of the stadium at 10.30pm this evening.

The incident caused transport chaos, with traffic jams outside the venue.

"Emergency services are dealing with an incident near Manchester Victoria, resulting in all lines being closed," operator Northern Railway wrote on its website.

Joseph Carozza, a representative from Grande's US record label, said the singer is OK and they are investigating what happened.

The Dangerous Woman Tour is the third concert tour by Grande and supports her third studio album, "Dangerous Woman."

Grande's role as Cat Valentine on Nickelodeon's high school sitcom "Victorious" propelled her to teen idol status, starting in 2010.

The 23-year-old Grande, with her signature high ponytail, went on to also star in spinoffs that included "iCarly," as she worked to develop her recording career.

The tour began in Phoenix in February. After Manchester, Grande was to perform at venues in Europe, including Belgium, Poland, Germany, Switzerland and France, with concerts in Latin America and Asia to follow.

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/uk/19-killed-in-suspected-terror-attack-at-ariana-grande-concert-in-manchester/articleshow/58799209.cms

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Riyadh Arab-Islamic-American Summit Declaration ‘Fosters Peace’

May 23, 2017

RIYADH - The Arab-Islamic-American Summit Sunday succeeded in building close partnership to confront extremism, terrorism, fostering regional and international peace, stability and development.

The Riyadh Declaration (the final communiqué of the Arab-Islamic-American leaders’ summit), reflected convenience at the frank and fruitful dialogue atmosphere that prevailed, during the summit, hosted by Saudi Arabia, in the presence of as many as 55 leaders and representatives of Arab, Islamic countries and the US.

According to a statement, released following the conclusion of the summit, the Riyadh Declaration reads as follows:

“In line with the invitation of Saudi King Salman, leaders and representatives of as many as 55 Arab and Islamic countries, in addition to the US held a summit in Riyadh. The participants expressed gratitude and appreciation of King Salman, for inviting them to hold such a historic summit. They also valued the visit made by the US President to Saudi Arabia, participating in the summit and his endeavors to contribute to the good of region and its peoples’ interests.

The leaders expressed relaxation at the atmosphere of the frank and fruitful dialogue that prevailed, during the summit, outcomes reached, based on conformity in the points of view and opinions and the moving ahead before various current regional as well as international issues, stressing that this summit constitutes a historic transformation, in regard of the Arab-Islamic relationship with the US, as it would open the way for wider prospects for their mutual future ties.

First: The close partnership between the leaders of Arab and Islamic countries and the US leader to confront extremism, terrorism, achieving peace, stability and development, on regional as well as international stages.

The leaders agreed upon means to enhance cooperation and measurements taken to consolidate relations and joint action and they vowed to continue close coordination between the Arab and Islamic countries, on one hand, and the US, on the other, toward issues of mutual interest to bolster partnership among them and to share experience, in the domain of development.

For its part, the US welcomed the willingness of Arab and Islamic countries, in promoting ways of cooperation to unify opinions and stances toward various issues, topped by doubling jointly exerted efforts to combat extremism and terrorism.

1. The leaders affirmed the firm commitment of their states to combat terrorism in all its forms, address its intellectual roots, dry up its sources of funding and to take all necessary measures to prevent and combat terrorist crimes in close cooperation among their states.

2. The leaders valued the step of intending to establish a Middle East Strategic Alliance, for which Riyadh will play host, and in which many countries will participate to contribute to peace and security in the region and the world. The establishment and the declaration of the accession of participating countries will be completed in 2018.

3. The leaders welcomed the establishment of a global center for countering extremist thought to take base in Riyadh, and praised the center’s strategic objectives of combating intellectual, media and digital extremism and promoting coexistence and tolerance among peoples.

4. The leaders noted the efforts of the Arab and Islamic countries in countering and preventing terrorist attacks, exchanging important information about foreign fighters and their movements among terrorist organizations. They underscored the importance of actions in this regard, in parallel with progress toward a political settlement of conflicts, expressing their satisfaction over the work with legitimate government and Arab Alliance to address terrorist organisations that seek to create a political vacuum in Yemen.

5. The leaders welcomed the readiness of a number of Islamic countries to participate in the Islamic Military Coalition to combat terrorism to provide a reserve force of 34,000 troops to support operations against terrorist organizations in Iraq and Syria when needed. They welcomed the progress achieved on the ground in the fight against Daesh, praising the participation of Arab and Islamic countries and their support for the International Alliance against Daesh.

6. The leaders said their states are committed to implement relevant international resolutions in the field of counter-terrorism and develop national, regional and international institutions to carry out their responsibilities in this regard.

7. They welcomed the opening of a cooperation agreement in the field of combating the financing of terrorism, including the establishment of a terrorist financing targeting center, to be hosted by Saudi Arabia in Riyadh.

8. The leaders underscored the importance of developing clear plans to shape the future of the youth, build their capacities, enhance their citizenship, provide opportunities for them, overcome all obstacles to their development, achieve the security and peace of their countries, instilling virtues in them and protect them from extremism and terrorism.

Second: To promote coexistence and constructive tolerance between different countries, religions and cultures.

The leaders explained their countries’ rejection of any attempt to draw a link between terrorism and any religion, culture or race, affirming their determination to protect and promote a culture of tolerance, coexistence and constructive cooperation among different countries and cultures.

1. The participants stressed the importance of broadening the scope of meaningful cultural dialogue, which demonstrates tolerance and moderation of the Islamic religion and its rejection of all forms of violence and extremism and its ability to coexist peacefully with others and to build a civilized alliance based on peace, harmony, love and respect.

2. The leaders emphasised the importance of renewing and rationalizing intellectual discourse to be consistent with moderate Islam, which calls for tolerance, love, mercy and peace, stressing that the misconceptions about Islam must be addressed and clarified.

3. The leaders confirmed determination for joint cooperation to enhance sustainable development programs to improve the living level for their peoples, and provide a safe, stable and prosperous environment that serves as an incubator for the youths against the deviant and extremist thought.

4. The leaders lauded the initiative of Saudi Arabia to establish a center for dialogue among followers of religions and underscored the importance of continuing this method, enhance it, build on it and preserve its pillars and expand its potentials to cover the largest possible area in the world at large.

Third: Confronting the sectarian agendas and interference in other countries affairs: The leaders underscored the importance of the current cooperation between countries, the relations based on the principles of good neighborhood, non-interference in the domestic affairs of other countries and respect of their independence, sovereignty and integrity of territories whereas:

1. The leaders stressed the rejection of sectarian agendas, citing their dangerous repercussions on the security of the region and the world at large.

2. The leaders confirmed their absolute rejection of the practices of the Iranian regime designed to destabilize the security and stability of the region and the world at large and for its continuing support for terrorism and extremism.

3. The leaders condemned the Iranian regime’s hostile positions and continuing interference in the domestic affairs of other countries in a flagrant violation of the principles of international law and good neighborhood, confirming their commitment to confront that.

4. The leaders are committed to intensify their efforts to observe the security of the region and the world at large, and firmly confront the subversive and destructive Iranian activities inside their countries and through joint coordination.

5. The leaders underlined the dangerous Iranian ballistic missiles program and denounced the Iranian regime’s continuing violations for Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations.

Fourth: Countering piracy and protecting navigation: The leaders stressed the importance of enhancing joint action to protect regional waters, combating piracy to maintain security and stability and avoiding disruption of ports and sea lanes of ships, which negatively affected the commercial movement and economic growth of the countries. The countries agreed to support joint work to develop capabilities to confront piracy, combat organised crime and drug trafficking.

Fifth: Follow-up mechanisms: The leaders noted the importance of following-up the programs and activities in areas of partnership between the Arab and Islamic worlds and the US.

1. The leaders stressed the importance of coordination of positions and visions between the Arab and Islamic worlds and the US at the highest levels, to achieve the aspirations of the strategic partnership between the two sides.

2. The leaders assigned concerned parties in their countries to follow-up and implement the decisions of the Riyadh Declaration, forming the necessary ministerial committees and subcommittees and the necessary meetings, discussions, direct coordination and periodic reports on the progress of these actions.

3. The leaders underscored the importance of promoting scientific building, knowledge exchange, research cooperation and capacity building in all areas, and recommended the needed coordination to reach the best practice.

http://nation.com.pk/national/23-May-2017/riyadh-declaration-fosters-peace

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Muslim law board files affidavit in SC, says 'triple talaq undesirable practice, will issue advisory against it'

May 22, 2017

NEW DELHI: The All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) on Monday told the Supreme Court that it would issue an advisory to the 'qazis' to tell bridegrooms that they will not resort to triple talaq to annul their marriage.

In an affidavit, AIMPLB said that it has decided to issue an advisory through its website, publications and social media platforms asking qazis to tell bridegroom at the time of execution of 'Nikahnama' (marriage contract) that they would not resort to "three divorces in one sitting" in case of differences as it was an "undesirable practice in Shariat".

"At the time of performing 'Nikah' (marriage), the person performing the 'Nikah' will advise the bridegroom/man that in case of differences leading to talaq the bridegroom/man shall not pronounce three divorces in one sitting since it is an undesirable practice in Shariat," the affidavit filed by AIMPLB secretary Mohammad Fazlurrahim said.

"At the time of performing 'Nikah', the person performing the 'Nikah' will advise both the bridegroom/man and the bride/woman to incorporate a condition in the 'Nikahnama' to exclude resorting to pronouncement of three divorces by her husband in one sitting," it said.

The affidavit would be perused by a five-judge Constitution bench headed by Chief Justice J S Khehar which has reserved its verdict on the issue of triple talaq last week+ .

The apex court had on May 18 reserved its verdict+ on a bunch of pleas challenging the constitutional validity of triple talaq among Muslims after hearing parties including the Centre, the AIMPLB and the All India Muslim Women Personal Law Board for six days in summer vacation.

During the hearing it had asked Muslim bodies as to how can a practice like triple talaq be a matter of "faith"+ when they have been asserting that it is "patriarchal", "bad in theology" and "sinful".

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/muslim-law-board-files-affidavit-in-sc-says-triple-talaq-an-undesirable-practice-will-issue-advisory-against-it/articleshow/58789483.cms

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'Why Did Pak PM Even Go To Riyadh?’ Pakistan Humiliated At US-Arab-Islamic Summit

May 22, 2017

Mortified - that is the word used by The Nation, a major Pakistani newspaper, on how Pakistani delegation, led by its Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, looked like at the just concluded US-Arab-Islamic Summit in the Saudi Arabian capital Riyadh.

According to another story, published in The News today, "something has gone terribly wrong as the Summit didn't mention Pakistan's role against global terrorism and its prime minister Nawaz Sharif was not given chance to put forth the country's point of view' whereas Pakistan has lost over 70,000 civilians and 6000 security forces personnel in terrorism related violence."

The article that defines Pakistan as a 'frontline state' and the 'sole Muslim nuclear power' rakes up the Kulbhushan Jadhav case and says such a treatment becomes more pinching when you find that US President Donald Trump mentioned India in the list of terror victims but ignored Pakistan that "is trying to convince the world of New Delhi's role in fanning terror through spy-terrorist Kalbhushan Jadhav's case at International Court of Justice."

The article summed up the mood at the summit, "The popular sentiment among the majority of Pakistani media delegation was that of a total humiliation."

Pakistan's treatment at the summit has started making headlines in the country with opposition parties targeting Nawaz Sharif. Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI) chief Imran Khan has taken on Nawaz Sharif for letting Pakistan and other Muslim communities down with his ineffective presence at the global forum. We can feel the heat of the royal snub that Pakistan was given in Khan's words, "The most important thing is that he [Trump] did not even mention Pakistan, the country that fought America's war and lost 70,000 people".

A release by Pakistan's Foreign Office informs us that Nawaz Sharif did interact with "Saudi King Salman Bin Abdul Aziz, President Donald Trump and other leaders from the Arab and Islamic countries", but if we go by the words of Imran Khan, Sharif wasn't even invited to speak. "Nawaz Sharif had practiced 6 hours for his speech at the Riyadh Summit but he wasn't even invited to speak. Why did Nawaz Sharif even go to Riyadh?" a Samaa TV report said.

And how can media and politicians in Pakistan forget about their Kashmir rant, something that defines the agenda of the country, its overzealous media and narrow-visioned politicians, back home or at global, multi-lateral forums.

So, being comfortably unmindful of Pakistan sponsored terror in Jammu & Kashmir and in India, that has taken over 45,000 lives in the state of Jammu & Kashmir alone, The Nation's article writes that "terming India a victim of terrorism was a deeply painful insult to innocent, unarmed Kashmiris who are fighting for their just cause of liberating their land from the oppressive India and facing worst kind of state terrorism at the hands of its armed forces."

Imran Khan, while blaming Sharif for disgracing Pakistan at the summit, said that "Nawaz Sharif should have talked about the plight of Kashmiris and Palestinians" and went on to criticise Donald Trump for praising India and for ignoring "the atrocities being committed by India against the Kashmiris."

Meanwhile, the geopolitical reality is every successive US government, including the present one of Donald Trump, sees Kashmir as a bilateral issue between India and Pakistan and squarely blames Pakistan for promoting terror in India.

On May 11, in its 'Worldwide Threat Assessment of the US Intelligence Community' report, the US Government blamed Pakistan for deteriorating India-Pakistan ties and batted for India's growing intolerance over Pakistan's state-sponsored terrorism. And in April, Gen HR McMaster, the US National Security Advisor, who was in Pakistan, bluntly told Pakistan to stop using terror as state policy.

http://indiatoday.intoday.in/story/us-arab-islamic-summit-nawaz-sharif/1/960308.html

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Shabaab spokesman calls on Kenyan jihadists to form an ‘army’

BY THOMAS JOSCELYN

May 22, 2017

The media arm for Shabaab, al Qaeda’s branch in East Africa, has released a video of a graduation ceremony for foreign fighters who attended a training camp. Sheikh Ali Mahmoud Rage, a spokesman and senior figure in Shabaab, delivers a speech during the ceremony. He focuses mainly on Kenya, claiming that Christians oppress Muslims in that country and throughout East Africa.

Rage says that “many” of the camp’s graduates come from Kenya. “You have to be the army that will conquer Kenya so that we may return to our families and relatives in a state of honor and glory, and uplift them from the humiliation, by the permission of Allah, the Exalted,” Rage says.

Kenyan forces have long battled Shabaab’s jihadists inside Somalia. Shabaab, in turn, has launched spectacular terrorist attacks inside Kenya, including the June 2014 raid in Mpeketoni, during which dozens were slaughtered, and the Apr. 2015 massacre at Garissa University College, which left more than 140 people dead and dozens more wounded. Shabaab has struck elsewhere throughout Kenya as well. Many of the operations, including the attack in Mpeketoni, were carried out by the group’s Jaysh Ayman, a commando unit that specializes in cross-border raids. [See FDD’s Long War Journal report: American charged with supporting Shabaab, serving in ‘specialized fighting force’.]

In Jan. 2016, Shabaab overran an AMISOM (African Union Mission in Somalia) base in the Somali town of El Adde, killing approximately 150 Kenyan soldiers. The UN later described the operation as “the largest military defeat in Kenyan history.” The UN also found that 11 Kenyan soldiers were taken hostage. On May 18, Shabaab released a video featuring one of them. The hostage, Alfred Danyi Kilasi, was made to plea for his life and ask the Kenyan people to force their government to take action. Shabaab did not specify what it wanted from the Kenyan government, if anything, in return for the hostages. But the al Qaeda group is all too happy to remind people of its success in El Adde.

In the new video, Rage ties the jihadists’ war with Kenya to the training camp’s mission.

He thanks the “Muhajireen brothers who have endured the hardships of Hijra [emigration] and were patient during the training camps.” They “endured the intense training sessions” and “exerted a great effort to learn the different ways of combating the enemies of Allah.”

“You, my dear brothers, have made Hijra from faraway lands and have completed intense training courses and have endured great hardships,” Rage continues. “Know that your trainers and the Mujahideen have a noble objective behind all the hardships that you have endured.”

Rage spells out the “main objectives” for the jihadists now that they’ve completed their training. “You are well aware of the situation of the Muslim Ummah in general, and particularly, the Muslims of East Africa, and the humiliation and suffering they are faced with,” Rage says. “Therefore, what is needed from you…is to uplift the humiliation from the Muslims and repel the oppression of the disbelievers from the Muslims of East Africa, particularly the countries you’ve made Hijra from, including Tanzania, Uganda, Kenya, Ethiopia and even Somalia.”

He focuses on the Kenyan foreign fighters, in particular, saying the “Kenyan crusaders” have “occupied our Muslim lands” and “have transgressed against the honor of our Muslim sisters.”

“So it is upon you to protect with your weapons the honor and chastity of our Muslim sisters that is being violated by the disbelievers,” Rage says. “It is upon you to protect the Muslim women, children and elderly who continue to be mercilessly killed by the disbelievers, whether they are in Kenya, Uganda, Burundi, Tanzania and even here in Somalia.”

Their ultimate mission is “to work towards the implementation of the Shari’ah of Allah so that it governs the entire world.”

“We have to eliminate all other systems of governance and laws of Kufr such as democracy, communism and secularism enforced upon us by the pagans and govern the land according to the Qur’an and Sunnah of the Prophet,” Rage argues. “We have to wage war until we either elevate the banner of Tawheed [monotheism] or meet Allah.” The jihadists will achieve either “victory or martyrdom” and they “should not be content with anything less than that.”

Inciting against Christians

Rage spends much of his speech inciting against Christians in Kenya, claiming they have forcibly replaced Muslims in a number of areas.

“We know and the Kenyan crusaders also know the oppression and immense atrocities they have perpetrated against the Muslims who live under the occupations of the Christians,” Rage says.

He goes on to claim that the coastal town of Mpeketoni “used to be a Muslim land,” but the “Kuffar [nonbelievers] then transferred the Christians and settled them in Muslim lands, forcefully occupying the land.” Today, Rage adds, the town is home to one “hundred churches and perhaps only one mosque,” because “the land is occupied” and “the disbelievers erected churches in the place of mosques.” Shabaab attempted to justify its June 2014 attack in Mpeketoni with the same argument, claiming that the Kenyan military was occupying Muslim lands.

Rage claims the disbelievers “burned down the town of Garissa and killed many Muslims simply for being Muslims” in 1980. “In addition to that, they carried out a mass massacre of Muslims in Wagalla.” He adds that “they’ve built churches at the entrance of Mombasa, a historically Muslim city, giving the perception that it is a Christian dominated city.” And the call to prayer “has been replaced by the chiming of the church bells” elsewhere.

The Shabaab spokesman says the prisons in Kenya “are filled with Muslims – many Muslim youth who’ve been detained without due court process and left to linger in the prisons without mercy.” According to Rage, the “disbelievers” have also “occupied Muslim lands,” “invaded” parts of Somalia where “they still have a military presence,” and “mercilessly bombed the Muslim lands of Somalia.”

The video of Rage’s talk was produced by Shabaab’s Al-Kataib Foundation for Media. It is part 1 of the production and includes English subtitles.

Shabaab is locked in a long battle with the Kenyans and its propaganda will undoubtedly continue to focus on the Kenyan government in the coming months.

http://www.longwarjournal.org/archives/2017/05/shabaab-spokesman-calls-on-kenyan-jihadists-to-form-an-army.php

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Europe

 

ISIS supporters cheering Manchester Arena attack on social media, no official claim yet

May 23, 2017

Islamic State supporters celebrated on social media on Tuesday after a blast at a concert venue in the north of England killed at least 22 people, although the militant Islamist group has not formally claimed responsibility. British police have said they are treating the blast at the Manchester Arena at the end of a concert by U.S. singer Ariana Grande as a “terrorist incident”. More than 50 people were wounded. Twitter accounts affiliated to Islamic State have used hashtags referring to the blast to post celebratory messages, with some users encouraging similar attacks elsewhere.

Some messages described the attack as an act of revenge in response to air strikes in Iraq and Syria.”It seems that bombs of the British airforce over children of Mosul and Raqqa has just came back to #Manchester,” one user named Abdul Haqq said on Twitter, in reference to the Iraqi and Syrian cities held by the militants where a U.S.-led coalition, of which Britain is a member, is conducting air strikes. Supporters posted messages encouraging each other to carry out “lone wolf” attacks in the West and shared Islamic State videos threatening the United States and Europe.

One user said he hoped Islamic State was responsible for the attack, although no claim has appeared on any of the militant’s group’s official social media channels. “We hope that the perpetrator is one of the soldiers of the caliphate,” he wrote on a channel affiliated to the group hosted by messaging network Telegram. Others posted banners saying “the beginning is in Brussels and Paris, and in London we form a state,” in reference to previous similar “lone wolf” attacks in Belgium and France for which the group has claimed responsibility.

News Bulletin 2: 19 Killed, 50 Injured In Explosion During Ariana Grande Concert And More

British Prime Minister Theresa May said the blast was being treated as a terrorist attack.

If confirmed, it would be the deadliest militant assault on Britain since four British Muslims killed 52 people in suicide bombings on London’s transport system in July 2005. U.S. officials drew parallels between the blast and the coordinated attacks in November 2015 by Islamist militants on the Bataclan concert hall and other sites in Paris, which claimed about 130 lives. Two officials who spoke on condition of anonymity said that initial signs pointed to a suicide bomber as being responsible for the blast.

http://indianexpress.com/article/world/isis-supporters-cheering-manchester-arena-attack-on-social-media-no-official-claim-yet-ariana-grande-4669299/

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Osama bin Laden is still alive, claims Snowden

May 23, 2017

MOSCOW - United States’ National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden while rejecting CIA claims of killing Osama bin Laden has said that he is still alive and well. Snowden has claimed that he has documents pertaining to Osama bin Laden who is living in Bahamas along with his family. “I have documents showing that Bin Laden is still on the CIA’s payroll. He is still receiving more than $100,000 a month, which are being transferred through some front businesses and organisations, directly to his Nassau bank account. I am not certain where he is now, but in 2013 he was living quietly in his villa with five of his wives and many children,” reported Moscow Tribune.

http://nation.com.pk/national/23-May-2017/osama-bin-laden-is-still-alive-claims-snowden

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France says not planning to reopen embassy in Syria

May 23, 2017

France's foreign ministry said on Monday that the reopening of its embassy in Syria was not on the table, signalling there may be no fundamental change to Paris' approach to the Syrian conflict under new president Emmanuel Macron.

Citing a political source close to Macron, pan-Arab daily newspaper al-Hayat had reported on Monday that Macron was reviewing France's decision to close the embassy in 2012.

"The reopening of our embassy in Damascus is not on the agenda," Foreign ministry spokesman Romain Nadal said in a daily briefing.

Officials at the president's office did not immediately respond for comment, although Macron ruled out reopening the embassy during a campaign trip to Beirut in January.

Some European Union countries which withdrew their ambassadors from Syria as the conflict worsened in the country have indicated a willingness for more communication with Damascus given the ongoing fight against Islamic State militants even though France and Britain have staunchly opposed it.

With the arrival of Macron, Paris' policy on Syria has yet to be clearly defined.

However, the new president has said his priority will be the fight against Islamic State as well as creating a political roadmap to end the conflict that has killed hundreds of thousands and displaced millions.

Former President Nicolas Sarkzoy closed the French embassy in March 2011. His successor Francois Hollande maintained that policy, actively backing opponents to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and saying he could not be part of any future political settlement in the country.

Full report at:

http://nation.com.pk/international/22-May-2017/france-says-not-planning-to-reopen-embassy-in-syria

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France gainsays Trump, highlights Iran's role in Mideast peace

May 22, 2017

France has called for further political ties with Iran as it has an "important role in the pacification" of the region.

Foreign Minister "Jean-Yves Le Drian will work towards developing political dialogue that should be part of a constructive approach with regard to solving regional crises," said the French Foreign Ministry on Monday.

France's stance is contradictory to comments made by US President Donald Trump, who accused Tehran of funding terrorism and stoking the fires of sectarian conflict in the region, and called on all nations to work towards isolating Iran.

Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Bahram Qassemi has reacted to Trump's remarks, and urged US to stop supplying arms to Saudi Arabia, which is one of the “main sponsors of terrorism.”

"Unfortunately, under the hostile and aggressive policies of the American statesmen, we are witnessing a renewed strengthening of terrorist groups in the region and miscalculation of the dictatorships which support these groups," he said.

"Once again, by his meddlesome and baseless claims about Iran, the American president tried to encourage the countries of the region to purchase more arms by spreading Iranophobia," he added.

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif also noted that Trump's recent anti-Tehran remarks were aimed at "milking" Saudi Arabia.

"Iran -- fresh from real elections -- attacked by @POTUS in that bastion of democracy & moderation. Foreign Policy or simply milking KSA of $480B?" Zarif tweeted on Sunday.

During a phone conversation with newly inaugurated French President Emmanuel Macron on Monday, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said, "Iran is ready for cooperation on all levels with other countries, including France, to battle terrorism and to resolve the Syrian crisis."

Rouhani added that he was positive that with more cooperation, better conditions can be established for the people of the region.  

"We must return peace and stability back to the region. We hope Europe does not fall into the trap of countries that encourage their wrong interpretations of the region," Rouhani added.

The newly re-elected Iranian president also stressed that Iran has been faithful to all its JCPOA commitments, and will spare no effort towards a world without nuclear arms.

Iran and the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council -- the United States, Britain, France, China and Russia -- plus Germany signed the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) on July 14, 2015 and started implementing it on January 16, 2016. Under the agreement, Iran accepted to put limitations on its program in exchange for the removal of nuclear-related sanctions imposed against Tehran.

Full report at:

http://www.presstv.ir/Detail/2017/05/22/522859/france-iran-ties-trump

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Russia to lift some remaining trade sanctions on Turkey

May 22, 2017

Russia has agreed to lift some remaining trade sanctions imposed on Turkey following the Turkish military's shooting down of a Russian warplane over Turkey-Syria border some two years ago.

According to Turkey's state-run Anadolu news agency, a corresponding agreement was signed by Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Mehmet Simsek and his Russian counterpart Arkady Dvorkovich on the sidelines of the 25th anniversary summit of the Organization of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation (BSEC) in Istanbul on Monday.

The accord is said to be aimed at normalizing and developing Russia and Turkey's economies, and is an attempt to enhance the current trade volume between the two nations. It also called for turning the Black Sea region into a “zone of peace, stability and prosperity."

Meanwhile, the Russian government, in a statement, confirmed that the accord "on lifting of bilateral trade restrictions" had been inked in presence of Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev and his Turkish counterpart Binali Yildirim.

There was, however, no immediate news on the full details of the agreement. It was expected that the accord end the sanctions imposed on the export of Turkish tomatoes to Russia, a key Turkish agricultural export, but according to Turkish premier, the ban on tomatoes remains. 

"We have secured serious developments on all issues outside of tomatoes. We have shared our sensitivities on the tomato issue," Yildirim said.

Relations between Ankara and Moscow nosedived to a crisis point after Turkish fighters shot down a Russian Sukhoi Su-24 fighter jet over Syria in November 24, 2015, when it was on an anti-terror mission in Syrian skies near the Turkish border. Ankara at the time claimed that the aircraft had entered Turkish airspace, an accusation strongly rejected by Moscow.

The Russian fighter jet went down in the mountainous Jabal Turkmen area of the Syrian western province of Latakia. The pilot lost his life in the crash, while Syrian government forces rescued the Russian navigator on board.

In response, Russia suspended all military deals with Turkey and imposed a raft of economic sanctions on the Anatolian country, saying the bans would not be lifted until Moscow received an apology from Ankara. It also ended visa-free travel for Turks as a retaliatory measure.

Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan held a telephone conversation in late June last year and agreed to meet in person. The call came after the Kremlin said Putin had received a letter from Erdogan, in which he had apologized to his Russian counterpart over the downing incident.

Furthermore, following the failed coup attempt in Turkey on July 16, 2016, Turkish officials, who had previously defended the downing of the Russian jet, distanced themselves from the incident, saying the bomber aircraft had been targeted by military personnel who later took part in the putsch attempt against Ankara.

On May 3, Putin and Erdogan met in the Russian resort city of Sochi on the Black Sea. At a joint press conference held after the meeting, the Turkish leader said that Ankara and Moscow had agreed to lift nearly all trade restrictions, except those on the exports of Turkish tomatoes to Russia.

Full report at:

http://www.presstv.ir/Detail/2017/05/22/522833/Russia-Turkey-trade-sanctions-shooting-warplane-syria

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German court puts on trial Syrian militant leader for war crimes

May 22, 2017

A court in Germany has put on trial a former Syrian militant leader, who stands accused of allegedly leading a rebel group responsible for torture and killings of civilians supporting the government of President Bashar al-Assad.

Court prosecutors in the western German city of Duesseldorf said on Monday that the 42-year-old man, identified as Ibrahim Al F., had joined armed groups fighting the Syrian government in 2012 and commanded a 150-strong militia linked to the so-called Free Syrian Army, which looted homes and mistreated civilians in the northern Syrian city of Aleppo.

The victims included Assad’s supporters, suspected spies as well as Kurds.

German media reported that the accused, also known as the "father of the wolf," had "personally tortured" two civilians who were later released for a ransom.

Prosecutors said that in a separate case, at least one other victim was tortured to death, another "died in unclear circumstances" and a third one fled.

The Syrian man, who remained silent all throughout the court, had been recognized by one of his victims in the western German city of Muenster.

Reports said the defendant had been arrested in April 2016 and could face life imprisonment if found guilty of war crimes. The trial is set to run until at least September.

Full report at:

http://www.presstv.ir/Detail/2017/05/22/522856/Germany-court-Duesseldorf-Syria-Assad

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No Apology for Israel Over Trump’s Disclosure to Russians

May 23, 2017

President Donald Trump does not plan to apologize to Israeli leaders for disclosing sensitive intelligence provided by the Jewish country to senior Russian diplomats.

Asked by reporters Monday on Air Force One if Trump will apologize to Israeli leaders for sharing password-only classified intelligence about an Islamic State plot to Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson replied: “I don’t know that there’s anything to apologize for.”

In a tweet last Tuesday morning, Trump not only confirmed reports that he gave the information to Lavrov and Moscow’s ambassador to the United States, but the president appeared to boast about sharing information that Israel reportedly provided Washington — intelligence data Israel had asked not be widely discussed.

[‘Law and Order’ President Meets Ultimate Lawman]

The Russia disclosure is just one of a growing list of scandals that followed Trump and his team on their first diplomatic trip, a five-country trek from the Middle East to the Vatican to Europe.

Trump’s first tweet vacillated from saying he was trying to “share with Russia,” then pointing out the meeting with the Russian officials was on his public schedule and ending with his declaration that he has “the absolute right to do” it. (On the latter, sitting presidents do have the legal authority to instantly declassify just about anything.)

In a second tweet that morning, the president wrote he revealed the classified data out of his own concerns about “terrorism and airline flight safety. Humanitarian reasons, plus I want Russia to greatly step up their fight against ISIS & terrorism.”

Those tweets came about 12 hours after Trump dispatched some of his top national security advisers to shoot down the reports of the disclosure to Russian officials.

Later Tuesday, national security adviser Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster defended Trump’s sharing the information with Russian diplomats, saying it was “wholly appropriate” given the conversation. McMaster also said Trump was unaware about the source of the information.

“What I will do is tell you that in the context of that discussion, what the president discussed with the foreign minister is wholly appropriate in that conversation,” McMaster said.

Meanwhile, a day after Trump delivered a major policy speech in Saudi Arabia before more than 40 Muslim leaders in which he used a softer tone about the religion, those countries and extremism, Tillerson explained the new message.

“The president is increasing his own perspectives,” Tillerson said. “Nothing helps you learn and understand people better than coming to their homes, where they live and seeing them face to face, seeing their families, and seeing their communities, finding out we all share the same wants and desires for ourselves and our people, and our families: peace, prosperity, we want our children to grow up without fear.

“That’s such a strongly held view around the world, certainly among the Muslim world certainly among the non-Muslim world,” Tillerson said.

[What to Watch for During Trump’s First Global Outing (VIDEO)]

More than 15 years after the Sept. 11 attacks, Tillerson said of the U.S. and Muslim world: “We need to put a lot more effort into understanding one another better, understanding each other’s cultures, understanding each other’s beliefs, and I think talking more openly about those. I think there’s a great deal that’s misunderstood about the Muslim world — by Americans and the Western world.”

The statement and Trump’s speech, collectively a big shift from his sharp criticisms of the Islamic world during the presidential campaign, puts the Trump administration in line with the Obama administration, and, to a lesser extent, the George W. Bush administration.

Speaking alongside Israeli President Reuven Rivlin in Jerusalem on Monday, Trump said one major takeaway during a U.S.-Arab summit in Saudi Arabia over the weekend was Muslim countries moving toward the Jewish state in a collective move to counter Iran.

The day before he criticized Iran for causing much of the instability in the region.

“But no discussion of stamping out this [terrorism] threat would be complete without mentioning the government that gives terrorists all three — safe harbor, financial backing, and the social standing needed for recruitment,” Trump said Sunday. “It is a regime that is responsible for so much instability in the region. I am speaking of course of Iran.”

He criticized Tehran for helping Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in his bloody civil conflict, saying Iran’s “most tragic and destabilizing interventions have been in Syria.”

Full report at:

http://www.rollcall.com/news/politics/no-apology-for-israel-over-trumps-disclosure-to-russians

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Arab World

 

Islamic State Supporters Celebrate Manchester Attack Online, No Official Claim

May 23, 2017

Cairo. Islamic State supporters celebrated on social media on Tuesday (23/05) after a blast at a concert venue in the north of England killed at least 19 people, although the militant Islamist group has not formally claimed responsibility.

British police have said they are treating the blast at the Manchester Arena at the end of a concert by United States singer Ariana Grande as a "terrorist incident." More than 50 people were wounded.

Twitter accounts affiliated to Islamic State have used hashtags referring to the blast to post celebratory messages, with some users encouraging similar attacks elsewhere.

Some messages described the attack as an act of revenge in response to air strikes in Iraq and Syria.

"It seems that bombs of the British airforce over children of Mosul and Raqqa has just came back to #Manchester," one user named Abdul Haqq said on Twitter, in reference to the Iraqi and Syrian cities held by the militants where a US-led coalition, of which Britain is a member, is conducting air strikes.

Supporters posted messages encouraging each other to carry out "lone wolf" attacks in the West and shared Islamic State videos threatening the United States and Europe.

One user said he hoped Islamic State was responsible for the attack, although no claim has appeared on any of the militant's group's official social media channels.

"We hope that the perpetrator is one of the soldiers of the caliphate," he wrote on a channel affiliated to the group hosted by messaging network Telegram.

Others posted banners saying "the beginning is in Brussels and Paris, and in London we form a state," in reference to previous similar "lone wolf" attacks in Belgium and France for which the group has claimed responsibility.

British Prime Minister Theresa May said the blast was being treated as a terrorist attack.

If confirmed, it would be the deadliest militant assault on Britain since four British Muslims killed 52 people in suicide bombings on London's transport system in July 2005.

US officials drew parallels between the blast and the coordinated attacks in November 2015 by Islamist militants on the Bataclan concert hall and other sites in Paris, which claimed about 130 lives.

Two officials who spoke on condition of anonymity said that initial signs pointed to a suicide bomber as being responsible for the blast.

http://jakartaglobe.id/international/islamic-state-supporters-celebrate-manchester-attack-online-no-official-claim/

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EC Secretary Warns of S. Arabia's Dream to Become 2nd Saddam

May 22, 2017

"In the early days after the Islamic Revolution, Saudi Arabia organized the Persian Gulf littoral states against Iran under the name of (Persian Gulf) Cooperation Council (PGCC) instead of friendship and used the issue of three (Iranian) islands (Abu Musa, the Greater Tunb and the Lesser Tunb) as a means to stand against Iran," Rezayee wrote on his Instagram page on Monday.

Reminding that such behavior resulted in former Iraqi dictator Saddam's 8-year imposed war against Iran, he said, "Today and after the Islamic Awakening in Egypt and the region, Saudi Arabia has stepped further and chosen formation of a coalition of Islamic countries and the US and has formed a new deployment by raising allegations against Iran but there is a difference, no Saddam is in the region anymore and possibly, Saudi Arabia, itself, wants to play Saddam's role too."

Rezayee called on the Iranian officials to increase their vigilance against the Saudi-led coalition's actions.

Earlier today, Rezayee had also lashed out at the US arms deal with Saudi Arabia worth almost $110 billion which will extend up to $350 billion over 10 years, warning of more warmongering and insecurity in the region.

"Selling $110bln of American weapons to Saudi Arabia will lead to nothing but igniting more fire and creating insecurity in the region against the Muslims with their money," Rezayee, also a former top IRGC commander, wrote on his twitter page on Monday.

Full report at:

http://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13960301001183

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Several Senior ISIL Commanders Escape Mosul City in Northern Iraq

May 22, 2017

The sources said that the recent devastating advances of the Iraqi Army troops in the Western part of Mosul and liberating most of the city caused a large number of ISIL terrorist, including 16 local commanders, to leave their positions in Western Mosul for the terrorist-held town of Tal Afar.

The sources pointed out that after the full liberation of the regions of 17 Tamouz  and al-Eqtesadiyeen in the Western part of Mosul, there has remained only four neighborhoods under the control of ISIL.

Four neighborhoods of al-Mosul al-Qadimiyeh (Old City), al-Zanjabili, al-Shefa and Bab al-Sanjar are still under ISIL's control.

In relevant developments in Nineveh province on Sunday, the Iraqi volunteer forces liberated several villages in Qairawan region and blocked an ISIL's supply route, West of Mosul.

Iraq's Popular Mobilization Forces, Hashd al-Shaabi, said in a statement that the troops retook villages of al-Mesabas, al-Niliya, Sadet Zawbaa and Thara al-Owaiset in South of Qairawan. “Huge losses in lives and equipments were inflicted on the enemy,” Iraqi News reported.

“The troops cut off an ISIL supply route that extends between al-Hatmiya and Tal Qasab, North of Qairawan,” according to the statement.

Many villages in Qairawan region, a main ISIL bastion which links between Tal Afar town and the Syrian borders, have been freed since the troops launched an offensive on May 12 to free the region. Last week the troops announced liberated of Sahl Sinjar airbase, located south of Qairawan, in addition to cutting off a main supply route between the freed Tal Banat village and Qairawan.

The Eastern side of Mosul was recaptured in January following three months of battles. Another offensive was launched in February to recapture the Western flank of the city.

Full report at:

http://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13960301001116

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Official: Iraqi Forces Control 97 Percent of Western Mosul

May 22, 2017

The Russian Sputnik quoted Member of the Nineveh province council Hossam al-Abbar as saying that Iraqi forces managed to liberate 97 percent of the Western side of Mosul, besieging more than 450 militants in the region.

“Federal Police and Rapid Reaction forces are heading towards the liberation of al-Shifa, al-Zanjili and al-Sihha neighborhoods, once done they will be capable of attacking the Old City from all directions,” he said in his statements.

On Sunday, Federal Police Chief Shaker Jawdat said military forces were positioning at the Southern outskirts of 17 Tamuz, the first neighborhood occupied by ISIL in 2014 which troops recaptured on Saturday, preparing to invade the Old City.

Iraqi troops recaptured Eastern Mosul in January after three months of fighting, and the Iraqi security command said earlier this week it controls 89.5 percent of the Western side of the city, three months after a second phase of the campaign launched to recapture that region.

Full report at:

http://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13960301001060

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Kurdish-Led SDF Nearing ISIL-Held Large Dam in Northeastern Syria

May 22, 2017

The SDF fighters engaged in fierce clashes with ISIL in Western Raqqa and drove the terrorists out of the villages of al-Salhibiyeh al-Qarbi and al-Salhibiyeh al-Sharqi, deploying forces only 2km away from al-Ba'ath Dam that is one of the largest dams in the country.

In the meantime, the Kurdish fighters managed to advance against ISIL in the village of Hamrat Nasri in Eastern countryside of Raqqa. 

Relevant reports said on Friday that the SDF managed to capture three more villages, closing off the last supply line of the terrorists to the ISIL-held city of Raqqa in Northeastern Syria.

The SDF engaged in fierce clashes with the ISIL East of Raqqa city and managed to seize control over the villages of Hamra Qanam, Hamra Ablu Yatiyeh and Madar.

Full report at:

http://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13960301001175

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Tens of Civilians Killed, Wounded in US-Led Coalition Air Attack in Northeastern Syria

May 22, 2017

A sum of 15 civilians were killed and tens of others were wounded in the coalition air raid on the village of Kadiran in Western countryside of Raqqa city.

In the meantime, a six-year-old child that was injured in the coalition's air raid on the village of Faraj Debsi West of al-Tabaqa yesterday, died earlier today.

The coalition warplanes carried out over 10 combat sorties over the town of al-Mansoureh near the village of Kadiran. 

Relevant reports said on Wednesday that the coalition warplanes targeted al-Mashlab district near Raqqa city, killing 17 civilians and wounding 40 more.

On Tuesday over 30 civilians were killed and several more were wounded in the US-Led coalition air raids near a key town in the Eastern province of Deir Ezzur at the border with Iraq.

The coalition fighter jets bombed border regions with Iraq near the key town of Albu Kamal, killing 30 civilians and wounding several more.

Full report at:

http://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13960301000847

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Syrian Army Inches Closer to Last ISIL Bastion in Aleppo Province

May 22, 2017

Army officers said that government troops continued to hit the positions of the ISIL in the Eastern part of Aleppo, capturing more areas in the course of military operation to liberate Maskana plain.

They added that the Syrian soldiers, backed by heavy artillery and airstrikes, continued to purge ISIL terrorists of Eastern Aleppo and managed to recapture more grounds en-route to the strategic region of Maskana.

After recapturing al-Samlajiyah village, al-Khazim fuel station and Tal Fiddah, the pro-government forces managed to break through ISIL's defense lines and are now in position to enter Maskana plains which has been an ISIL stronghold for nearly two years. A field sources pointed to the rapid advances of the army men in Eastern Aleppo and said that the army units are only 10km away from the strategic town of Maskana.

The sources added that liberation of Maskana means an end to ISIL's presence in Aleppo province and will open a new gate for the pro-government forces towards Raqqa province.

Earlier reports said that the army units deployed in the town of al-Mazyouneh stormed ISIL's defense lines and managed to take control over the village of al-Samjaliyeh.

The army men continued their advances in the battlefield and drove ISIL out of al-Khazim Petrol Station along the Aleppo-Raqqa highway.

ISIL lost a number of fighters and retreated the remaining pockets of its forces towards the town of Maskana.

Full report at:

http://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13960301000809

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Bahrain interior ministry tweets launch of security operation in Diraz

23 May 2017

Bahrain's interior ministry said it had launched a security operation on Tuesday in Diraz village.

"The implementation of security operation in Diraz village began this morning ... to impose security and general order after the area became a haven for people wanted in security cases and fugitives from justice," the ministry said on its official Twitter account.

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/gulf/2017/05/23/Bahrain-interior-ministry-tweets-launch-of-security-operation-in-Diraz.html

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India

 

Muslim Board calls for social boycott of those who resort to triple talaq

May 23, 2017

The All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) has urged members of the community to start a social boycott of those who have pronounced triple talaq in one go “so that such incidents may be minimised”, the Board told the Supreme Court in an affidavit on Monday.

The affidavit, filed by AIMPLB Secretary Mohammed Fazlurrahim, also placed on record its promise to the court to include enabling provisions in the nikahnama (marriage contract) which will allow a Muslim woman to extract assurance against triple talaq from her prospective husband.

Triple Edged Sword Of Triple Talaq Is Not Divorced Of Politics

“The All India Muslim Personal Law Board will issue an advisory through its Website, Publications and Social Media Platforms and thereby advise the persons who perform ‘Nikah’ (marriage) and request them to do the following: (a) At the time of performing ‘Nikah’ (Marriage), the person performing the ‘Nikah’ will advise the Bridegroom/Man that in case of differences leading to Talaq the Bridegroom/Man shall not pronounce three divorces in one sitting since it is an undesirable practice in Shariat; and (b) That at the time of performing Nikah, the person performing the Nikah will advise both the Bridegroom/Man and the Bride/Woman to incorporate a condition in the ‘Nikahnama’ to exclude resorting to pronouncement of three divorces by her husband in one sitting,” the affidavit said.

The Board also placed on record resolutions adopted by it at a meeting held on April 14, 15 and 16 last year. The “resolution regarding divorce” dated April 16, 2016 said “the stand of Shariat is clear about divorce that the pronouncement of divorce without any reason and that three divorces in one go are not the correct methods of pronouncement of divorce. Such a practice is strongly condemned by the Shariat.”

The Board will, therefore, start a “grand public movement for desisting the people from pronouncing divorce without any reason and that in case of necessity only one divorce should be resorted to and in any case three divorces in one go should not be resorted to. Every effort should be made to convey this message to all the segments of Muslims especially to the poor population and the help of Imams and orators of the mosques should be called for”, it added.

The meeting also decided that “those who resort to triple divorce in one go leading to the creation of problems thereafter should be boycotted by the Muslims. This social boycott will be much helpful in decreasing the incidents of divorce”.

The Board also released a set of guidelines to be followed by husbands and wives in the matter of divorce. The guidelines stress on mutual resolution but lay down that in case that does not happen even after intervention of family elders, divorce may be resorted to but the pronouncement of divorce should only be one.

Hearing a batch of seven petitions challenging the contentious practise, the SC had on May 17 asked the Board if it was possible to include provisions in the nikahnama to enable a Muslim wife to say no to triple talaq. A day later, the Board, through counsel Kapil Sibal, assured the court that such changes could be made and that it will instruct

religious functionaries who conduct the marriage to advise the bride and groom accordingly.

Senior counsel Amit Singh Chadha appearing for petitioner Shayara Bano, however, expressed doubts on the proposal to make changes in the nikahnama: “It will not solve our problems because married women will still have to go to court (in case talaq was pronounced)”. Advocate and co-petitioner Farah Fayaz also qustioned the qualifications of a Kazi and how they can be allowed to sit in judgment on the lives of women.

http://indianexpress.com/article/india/muslim-board-aimplb-calls-for-social-boycott-of-those-who-resort-to-triple-talaq-4668986/

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ATS to probe if Indian held in Pak joined LeT in 2006

Ahmed Ali

May 23, 2017

MUMBAI: The Maharashtra police anti-terrorism squad (ATS) has initiated a probe to ascertain if Sheikh Nabi Ahmed, a 33-year-old Indian national detained by Pakistan, is the same suspect who had allegedly joined Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) in 2006.

ATS sources said they saw Ahmed's photograph in Pakistani media and it appears that this was the same person who along with an other LeT suspect identified as Bada Imran crossed over to Pakistan via J&K in 2006."We have assigned officers to gather more information," said an ATS official requesting anonymity .

Full report at:

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/ats-to-probe-if-indian-held-in-pak-joined-let-in-2006/articleshow/58798801.cms

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Kashmir cop who fled with rifles has joined Hizbul Mujahideen

May 22, 2017

SRINAGAR: A police constable, who took away four service rifles from a police post in Budgam district of Kashmir, has reportedly joined terrorist outfit Hizbul Mujahideen.

Constable Syed Naveed Mushtaq had fled with four INSAS rifles from the guard post at a Food Corporation of India (FCI) godown in Chandpora in Budgam on Saturday, a police official said.

He said there were intelligence inputs suggesting that Mushtaq had joined the terrorist group.

There have been several instances of Jammu and Kashmir policemen fleeing with service rifles and joining various terrorist outfits.

Full report at:

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/kashmir-cop-who-fled-with-rifles-has-joined-hizbul-mujahideen/articleshow/58787521.cms

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Cruel, says brother of man on jeep; NC calls it slap on Kashmir face

by Mir Ehsan

May 23, 2017

Appalled by the Army decision to award a commendation certificate to Major Nitin Leetul Gogoi, the officer who allegedly ordered his troops to tie Farooq Ahmad Dar to a jeep bonnet and had him paraded as a ‘human shield’ against stone-pelters, Dar’s family called it a “mockery” while Valley parties reacted with fury. The National Conference called it “a slap across the face of the mainstream in Kashmir”.

Ghulam Qadir, elder brother of Farooq, questioned the award to the officer who is under probe: “Is this justice? It is a mockery in the name of an inquiry. This is cruel, not justice.’’ He said the family was hoping justice would be done. “My brother was tied to a jeep and taken to dozens of villages, without being at fault. He was not a stone-pelter, nor involved in anything subversive. His phone has not been returned till date.’’

He said Farooq has been “in depression” ever since the April incident. “He is not able to concentrate on his embroidery work. He has confined himself to his room. Had this kind of an incident taken place elsewhere, then justice would have been done,” Ghulam Qadir said. The mainstream parties face reacted with dismay and anger on the award to the officer. National Conference spokesman Junaid Mattu wrote on Twitter: “Major Gogoi being honoured is a slap across the face of the mainstream in Kashmir.

Full report at:

http://indianexpress.com/article/india/cruel-says-brother-of-man-on-jeep-nc-calls-it-slap-on-kashmir-face-4669039/

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Punjab: Terror module with links in Pakistan, Canada busted, two held

May 22, 2017

A man believed to have been part of a jatha (delegation) to Nankana Sahib in Pakistan in 2005, led by CM Capt Amarinder Singh, was on Sunday arrested at the India-Pakistan border for allegedly being connected to a terror module with links in Canada and Pakistan. Mann Singh (40) was among the two people arrested by the BSF on Sunday. “The arrested terrorists were identified as Mann Singh (40) and Sher Singh (28) from Sri Hargobindpur (Gurdaspur) and Kartarpur (Jalandhar), respectively,” a Punjab government release said.

Deep Singh, father of Mann Singh, told The Indian Express that his son was part of the “jatha led by Capt Amarinder Singh”. “Due to some differences in the family, we have no links with Mann Singh. I cannot say anything on his arrest, his conduct and the recoveries,” Singh said. An official of Punjab Police’s counter-intelligence wing said, “At this stage, we cannot confirm this (whether Mann Singh was part of Palki delegation).”

Full report at:

http://indianexpress.com/article/india/punjab-terror-module-with-links-in-pakistan-canada-busted-two-held-4667309/

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Adnan Sami tweets on Donald Trump dancing in Saudi Arabia: Who says music is haraam in Islam?

May 22, 2017

Taking a dig at Muslim hardliners, singer Adnan Sami started a Twitter debate when he asked how can music be “haraam” according to Islam when US President Donald Trump could be seen dancing in Saudi Arabia with the country’s royalty. Trump is on an official tour of Saudi Arabia and can be seen participating in a traditional males-only sword dance.

Adnan shared a video of the dance on Twitter and started a discussion on this sensitive topic. He tweeted on Sunday: “Dear Muslim clerics, you all claim music is haram in Islam. This is Saudi Arabia. This is song and dance by its royalty! Where are your fatwas now?” He also wrote, “Ps — Oh yeah and Trump is in there too. You know, the one who came up with the Muslim travel ban.”

One of his Twitter followers wrote: “This is their traditional Arabic dance.” To which, Adnan replied: “Oh so that is okay then? It suddenly becomes ‘halal’? Selective convenience.”

Another user wrote: “Dear Sami Sabh, Saudia is not Islam. If you want to understand Islam, read Quran. You can find yourself… in Quran, music is haram.” To this, Adnan replied, “The surat or aayat in the Quran where it says ‘Music is haram’… Answer is nowhere!”

One even asked: “‘Music is nutrient for the soul’… These are the sayings of musicians or people related to music, so why don’t you prove it?” Adnan said: “We prove it by the peace and harmony we bring to the souls of people all the time who listen to music!”

Also Read | Adnan Sami on being opinionated: Being a celebrity, you cannot make everyone happy

Full report at:

http://indianexpress.com/article/entertainment/bollywood/adnan-sami-tweets-on-donald-trump-dancing-in-saudi-arabia-who-says-music-is-haraam-in-islam-4667879/

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Pakistan

 

Counter Pakistan’s Support For The Taliban With Baloch Nationalism

05/22/2017

Pakistan openly admits that it uses “religious militancy” as a foreign policy instrument, such as radical Islamist groups committing terrorist acts in India or deploying the Taliban to control, influence or, as presently demonstrated, destabilize Afghanistan.

There are over forty-five domestic or transnational terrorist and extremist groups who have been operating in Pakistan.

To quell domestic unrest, Pakistan uses Islam as a tool to replace ethnic identity with religious identity. Likewise, Pakistan supports select religious militant groups to suppress autonomy or nationalism among its disaffected minorities.

One such minority is the Baloch, a people with their own language, tribal structure and culture, whose homeland spans southwestern Pakistan, eastern Iran and southern Afghanistan.

The Baloch, who have a reputation for secularism and tolerance, are the majority in Pakistan’s largest province, Balochistan, a region rich in minerals and other natural resources, including gold, copper, chromite, and gas. Balochistan has also been the home of a festering ethnic insurgency since the partition of India in 1947, when the Baloch were promised autonomy and briefly gained independence from August 1947 to March 1948, but were then forcibly incorporated into Pakistan.

Despite its mineral wealth, the Baloch have been intentionally kept underdeveloped by the Pakistan government, which has been a cause for sporadic uprisings, along with oppression and alleged killings by the Pakistani military.

Due to Pakistan’s support of radical Islamic groups, Balochistan is the primary hub for the Afghan Taliban and, similar to Taliban Afghanistan of the 1990s, it has become a magnet for international terrorist groups like the Islamic State (ISIS).

ISIS initiated major terrorist operations in Balochistan on August 8, 2016 when a suicide bomber killed 93 and wounded scores of others during an assault on the Civil Hospital in Quetta, Balochistan’s provincial capital. That attack was followed by two others, one on the Police Training Academy in Quetta, and the second on a Sufi shrine near Lasbela known as Shah Noorani. In these three attacks, over a four-month period, approximately 250 people were killed and more than 300 were injured.

Like the Taliban, Lashkar-e-Jhangvi and Lashkar-e-Taiba, ISIS views Balochistan as a safe haven and a fertile area for recruitment because, according to The Diplomat, Pakistan has set up a network of Islamic schools known as madrassas in Balochistan, which were:

established to counter Baloch nationalists who fought the original annexation of Balochistan into Pakistan and the non-secular government that they have had to live under. Most of those religious schools in remote areas of Balochistan are already under the control of jihadi networks, and are also recruiting people.

Pakistan has lost control of its radical Islamic surrogates and its strategy of supporting the Taliban and other Islamist elements lessens, not enhances its security.

The success of the ongoing China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, which is part of China’s larger Belt and Road Initiative that aims to connect Asia through land-based and maritime economic zones, depends on the stability of Balochistan because it provides a major section of the transportation route from China to the Arabian Sea and a deep water port at Gwadar.

It is an opportunity for the U.S. to exert leverage.

As noted by Julie Lenarz in her article “Balochistan: Oppressed in All Their Lands, Dreaming of a Secular State of Their Own”:

The West may find an important ally in the Baloch nationalist movement, whose dream of an independent, secular state converges with our goal of fighting religious fanaticism in the Middle East. Islamic fundamentalism, sectarianism, anti-Americanism, and anti-Semitism are ideologies that have not yet taken root in Balochistan.

Pakistan has proven itself to be an unreliable ally in Afghanistan and in the battle against Islamic extremism. The time is long overdue for alternative courses of action. And as a bonus, U.S. support for Baloch nationalism, like Kurdish nationalism, will give Iran fits.

http://dailycaller.com/2017/05/22/counter-pakistans-support-for-the-taliban-with-baloch-nationalism/

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Responsible role of media urged for religious tolerance

May 23, 2017

LAHORE: With the association of School of Media and Communication Studies, University of Central Punjab, a seminar was conducted on the topic “Role of Media in Creating Religious Tolerance.”

Chief Guest of the seminar was Irshad Ahmed Arif, Group Editor of 92 News and other guest speakers of the seminar were famous scholar Allama Raghib Naeemi, senior columnist of Nawa-e-Waqt Qayyum Nizami and Editor Coordination The Nation Emanuel Sarfraz.

Emanueal Sarfraz in his welcome address said that religion doesn’t teach anyone to be hostile towards others, religion indeed teach us to live in harmony.

Allama Raghib Naeemi came up with the comparison between different religious channels and their agendas and supported our first speakers opinion and added religious elements to it.

Qayyum Nizami enthusiastically said that media has to play a positive and influential role in creating interfaith harmony among different groups and stick to the original values of religion instead of deviating oneself towards hatred.

Chief guest Irshad Ahmed Arif highlighted the important points on lack of religious tolerance and the role of media regarding this issue and suggested valuable solutions for maintaining religious tolerance in the society.

At the end of the seminar Professor Dr Mughees Uddin Sheikh shared his experience and valuable opinion by praising the guest speakers who contributed in the discussion.

Full report at:

http://nation.com.pk/lahore/23-May-2017/responsible-role-of-media-urged-for-religious-tolerance

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Security agencies arrest professor, his niece for links to Daesh

May 23, 2017

KARACHI -  Security agencies busted a network of self-proclaimed Islamic State (IS) or Daesh here on Monday, which was allegedly planning to use drones to carry out terrorist activities.

According to reports, a professor of engineering, who is stated to be associated with one of the top universities of Punjab, was leading the group, while other members of the group are also highly educated.

The agencies took the professor and a woman into custody and shifted them to an undisclosed location for investigation.

It has also come to light that the professor was a mastermind of Daesh network in Karachi, and that the woman, taken into custody along with him, is his niece.

The arrests were made during an operation in District East of the city.

However, details about their names and modus operandi are yet to be disclosed.

So far it has been revealed that the group was planning attacks on high-profile gatherings in the country by using drones fitted with explosives.

The concerned security officials remained tightlipped when contacted for comments. PPP office-bearer and 59 others held:

Meanwhile, as many as sixty persons, including former vice president of Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) Karachi chapter, were arrested by the security agencies on Monday.

Habib Hassan was taken into custody during an overnight raid conducted on his residence at Singu Lane area of Lyari’s Kalakot locality.

Hassan remained PPP vice president for Karachi for over one year till April 2016. Currently, he is serving as the chairman of Union Council 12 in Lyari.

Sources privy to the matter revealed that Hassan had links with the banned, Peoples Amman Committee, and was also associated with the Lyari Resource Centre.

Family sources said that personnel in plainclothes raided his residence and took him away to an undisclosed location.

Members of the family as well as the party are looking for him, but so far they have failed in their attempts.

Similarly, the law enforcement agencies (LEAs) carried out search operations in Shairpao Basti and Bahadurabad and held half a dozen suspects.

According to details, heavy contingents of Rangers cordoned off the entire localities, went door to door and picked up some six suspects.

Weapons and narcotics were also seized from the suspects who were later shifted to an unknown location for further investigation.

Sources said that operations had been carried out in search for the militants who had launched an attack on a police mobile in New Town area in the wee hours on Saturday, and had claimed the lives of two cops while wounded another.

Meanwhile, police said it had nabbed 54 persons from different parts of the city as part of Karachi operation and had also recovered weapons and narcotics from their possession.

Police said that those arrested included bandits, street criminals, absconders, drug peddlers and others.

Rangers’ officer shoots and injures two robbers

Meanwhile, Rangers officer shot and injured two street criminals here in the limits of Gulistan-e-Jauhar police station.

Police said that Javaid, in plainclothes, was robbed by gunmen near Continental Barky, but as the robbers tried to flee, the officer carrying a pistol resorted to firing, leaving both the bandits wounded. The bandits, later identified as Anwar and Ali, were shifted to a hospital in police custody while police registered an FIR against them and also recovered weapons and looted valuables from their possession.

Two more picnickers drown

Two more picnickers drowned off different beaches of the city on Monday.

The bodies were recovered from Sandpit and Gidani beaches. Police said that both the victims had gone for a picnic and died while taking bath.

The person, who drowned off Gidani Beach, was identified as Tajamul Hussain, resident of Orangi Town.

Full report at:

http://nation.com.pk/karachi/23-May-2017/security-agencies-arrest-professor-his-niece-for-links-to-daesh

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‘Buddhist monks acknowledge Pakistani support’

May 23, 2017

Islamabad - Pakistan is a real friend of Sri Lanka who always stood with it in conflicts, natural calamities which the entire Sri Lankan nation acknowledges.

These views were expressed by the head of Sri Lankan Buddhist Monks’ delegation, Professor N Gnanaratana while talking to APP during the opening ceremony of `Vesak Mela’ which kicked off on Monday at a local hotel.

Referring to a famous quote, “A friend in need is a friend indeed”, Professor N Gnanaratana said, “Pakistan is true friend of Sri Lanka and the common people also acknowledge this belief”. He said, “Whenever there is any debate or issue at international forums, Pakistan has always raised its voice in favour of Sri Lanka”.

Both the countries have many cultural similarities and have great love and respect for each other’s religion, he said. To a question, Professor N Gnanaratana said, Pakistan and China are two of the countries which always extended unconditional support and love to Sri Lanka and its people.

He said from Quaid-i-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah to Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, Asif Ali Zardari and especially the present leadership, all had played vibrant role in strengthening ties between Pakistan and Sri Lanka.

Talking to this news agency, the female Buddhist monks including P Dhammanande, M Seelapriga and A Summanaseeli, they said, “We are in Pakistan for the first time and very excited about our journey to the sacred places of Taxila and Takht Bai.”

They said, “We are impressed with the arrangements of this festival in Pakistan, warm welcome by the officials and hospitality of Pakistani people. It is just like we are at our second home.”

A delegation of around 40 Buddhist monks and visitors from Sri Lanka headed by Professor N Gnanaratana reached Pakistan on Sunday to attend `Vesak Mela’ celebrations being arranged by National History and Literary Heritage (NH&LH) Division. Federal Secretary for NH&LH Division, Engineer Aamir Hasan, Joint Secretary, NH&LH Division, Syed Junaid Ikhlaq and High

Commissioner of Sri Lanka for Pakistan, Maj General (R) Jayanath

C P Lokuketagodage were present in the opening ceremony.

Addressing the opening ceremony, Engineer Aamir Hasan said Pakistan and Sri Lanka have inherited a rich cultural heritage and strong cultural relations which are deep rooted in our history.”

He said that ties between Pakistan and Sri Lanka became stronger due to the peace loving religions of Islam and Buddhism. Being custodian of the buddhist heritage, the Pakistani government is equally participating and celebrating Vesak festival. The arrangements of Buddhist pilgrimage to the holy places at Taxila and Takht Bai will further strengthen deep cultural ties between the two countries.

On the occasion, High Commissioner of Sri Lanka for Pakistan, Maj General (R) Jayanath C P Lokuketagodage appreciated the efforts of Advisor to Prime Minister on NH&LH, Irfan Siddiqui, Federal Secretary, Engineer Aamir Hasan and other officials of the division for celebrating `Vesak Mela’ and inviting Sri Lankan monks to Pakistan every year.

He said, Pakistan and Sri Lanka are tied in the bonds of mutual love and respect and such activities will further strengthen people-to-people relations. The Sri Lankan delegation of Buddhist monks will be taken to the historical spots of Taxila and Takht Bai by the officials of the NH&LH division where they will perform their religious rituals.

Full report at:

http://nation.com.pk/islamabad/23-May-2017/buddhist-monks-acknowledge-pakistani-support

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A Pakistani Hindu forwards a WhatsApp message, gets attacked by mob on allegations of blasphemy

Reema Abbasi

ay 23, 2017

Hub city’s Hindu locality in the lanes off Laasi Road is dark with fear.

Last week on Tuesday, Vijay, 24, a shopkeeper in Resham Gali, was accused of blasphemy by an enraged mob. He was taken into police custody, presented before the sessions court and quietly sent to jail.

On that fateful day, Vijay had received an offensive photograph in a WhatsApp group. According to Chanda Ram, an elder of the community, the image came with a voice message replete with expletives for Hindus. It urged all recipients to spread it far and wide to deter the circulation of odious content that could cause communal conflict.

“This was sent from Karachi to over 58 people in Lasbela, including Muslims,” says Ram. “On impulse, Vijay forwarded it to another group on the message service.”

As one heard the message, the mission seemed as stark as this tragedy – a trap for uneducated minorities, and thereby hangs a tale.

The alacrity, shown by an incensed pack as it descended on his store, was unusual. “Within 30 minutes of the message, there was mayhem in the market; armed boys went wild.”

As luck would have it, the boy had closed for the day and gone to a barber. But they hunted Vijay down, another elder, Krishna, elaborates, and began to bludgeon him with sticks and weapons.

“We are grateful that the police arrived in time,” he says. “Amid tear gas and shelling, they took him away or he would be in shreds.”

Krishna describes the scene as a snippet of the backlash witnessed after the demolition of the Babri Masjid in India. “There were some 1,000 people but hardly a 100 belonged to Hub,” he says. “It was a horde of extortionists, miscreants and gangsters. Here, we have all lived as one for decades.”

Ram adds that while Station House Officer Attaullah Nomani, Deputy Superintendent of Police Jan Mohammad Khoso and Additional District Commissioner Tariq Mengal did not escape the blows, a 13-year-old boy perished in the fierce exchange.

Hub spent the next day in silence. At Vijay’s home, his young wife, two toddlers and siblings were distraught but oblivious to the aftermath of a blasphemy charge. They awoke to a dark future on Thursday morning. His elder brother returned to open their shop and seven boys turned up to pummel a physically impaired man. The landlord then cleared out all items to halt a hapless family’s sustenance.

Vijay’s small clan has since been moved to an undisclosed town.

Surprisingly, the community sees a hero in the new SHO, dubbed SHO Dabangg, who they claim is fearless and impartial. “He has allocated security to all four Hindu and Sikh worship places and to our areas,” says Chanda Ram.

But in person, the slender, inarticulate Nomani has little in common with his image. “Vijay is in judicial remand as we found the offensive image on his mobile,” is his blank response. “There is no voice message with it. We are investigating the origin of the photo.”

He also believes that the affected family is still in Hub, and claims to be unaware of the assault on Vijay’s brother and of the shop’s closure. Nomani expects a community deadened with fright to register a complaint.

When asked about future prospects of a routine life for the young family, he says, “This is my first blasphemy case. I can’t say. The challan is under Sections 295-A and 295-C.”

The Hindu community knows well that these sections and a lack of axiomatic evidence in blasphemy cases repress legal aid. Lives are in the balance in jail and after acquittal.

As maintained by older residents of Hub, new settlers stirred recent clashes to dominate money-spinning centres. Incidentally, the majority of the mob reportedly comprised supporters of migrants.

The furore, however, was led by Saleem Shahzad Solangi, joint secretary of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz youth wing, who, unmoved by Vijay’s pleas and explanation, went ahead with filing the FIR. At daybreak, Solangi took off for Jhal Magsi.

Nomani denies the popular allegation of a migrant ascendancy and is noncommittal about Solangi’s political affiliation. When informed that the Hindu community’s hopes for a fair settlement hinged on him, his reaction was saddening: “I hope their praise does not turn Muslims against me.”

Conversely, police officials say that, if reported, the brutality inflicted on the victim’s brother and subsequent closure of his outlet can go a long way for Vijay. The incident can bring suspicions of a conspiracy into focus.

Both Krishna and Chanda Ram say that Solangi’s was the sole political influence. “Even Maulana Abdul Qadir Qasmi, president, Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam (F), Lasbela district, has expressed immense support for us.”

Full report at:

https://scroll.in/article/838149/a-pakistani-hindu-forwards-a-whatsapp-message-gets-attacked-by-mob-on-allegations-of-blasphemy

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Pakistan will never be part of alliance against any Islamic country: Rana Sanaullah

22 May,2017

LAHORE (Dunya News) - Punjab Law Minister Rana Sanaullah has on Monday expressed that Pakistan will never be part of alliance against any Islamic country.

He let it be known at a recent press conference the provincial capital, adding that Pakistan equally value ties with Iran as a neighbour and a Muslim country.

Rana Sanaullah professed that the border violations do not affect relations between the two countries.

The provincial law minister maintained that both Saudi Arabia and the United States have their own foreign policies and it is not necessary that other countries would also agree to it.

"Pakistan’s role is to end the hostile relationships between Iran and Saudi Arabia," Sanaullah added.

Punjab Law Minister also expressed that by giving a statement against Iran, the US president has actually violated the diplomatic etiquette.

He professed that the recent statement by Donald Trump will not only create troubles for Saudi Arabia but also for the United States of America while Iran has on the hand gain sympathies because of the statement.

Rana Sanaullah professed that Pakistan has rendered remarkable sacrifices in the global fight against terrorism.

The law minister once again lambasted PTI Chief during his media talk while stating that Imran describes his prejudice in anything.

Full report at:

http://dunyanews.tv/en/Pakistan/389538-Pakistan-will-never-be-part-of-alliance-against-an

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Realignments in Asia a challenge for Pakistan, says Aizaz

ANWAR IQBAL

May 23, 2017

HOUSTON: Realign­ments in Asia are posing new challenges to Pakistan, says Ambassador Aizaz Ahmed Chaudhry, adding the country has dealt with such challenges in the past and will overcome the existing ones, too.

This was an obvious reference to India’s growing influence in South Asia, where it is seen as the new US partner in an effort to contain China. But American experts on South Asian affairs say that the Trump administration’s desire to reach trade equilibrium with China could also create new opportunities for Pakistan to maintain good relations with both.

“We need to focus on our goal and deal with these challenges,” said Ambas­sador Chaudhry who was addressing a large gathering of Pakistani-Americans at a community dinner in Houston on Sunday. The city is home to one of the largest Pakistani communities in the United States.

Mr Chaudhry reminded the US policymakers that in the past, Pakistan did act as a bridge between the United States and China and was willing to play that role again.

The Pakistan Embassy and consulates across the United States are using the 70th anniversary of independence to highlight 70 years of US-Pakistan partnership, and the ambassador devoted part of his address to “correct wrong perceptions” about the country.

“US perceptions about Pakistan lag behind the reality, which is changing every month,” said Mr Chaudhry while explaining how in the last three years terrorists had been defeated and forced to flee across the border or hide in some urban centres. “And we are cleaning them up too,” he said. “We are a loving people, a caring people and this love and care represents Pakistan, not a handful of extremists.”

Ambassador Chaudhry said that the overwhelming majority in Pakistan had rejected extremists and “we cannot allow a handful of terrorists to hold the entire country hostage”.

Full report at:

https://www.dawn.com/news/1334829/realignments-in-asia-a-challenge-for-pakistan-says-aizaz

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TTP splinter groups ‘allowed’ opening offices in KP

May 23, 2017

ISLAMABAD - The government and the security establishment came under fire in a Senate body meeting when a lawmaker said that some splinter groups of the banned Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) have been “allowed” to open offices in some parts of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa.

At a huddle of the Senate Standing Committee on Interior, lawmakers also came down hard on the security establishment for, what they called, glorifying surrendered TTP spokesperson Ehsanullah Ehsan on TV channels. A demand for Ehsan’s trial in several terrorism cases was also raised.

The critical remarks came while Additional Secretary of the Ministry of Defence Rear Admiral (r) Faisal Lodhi was briefing the committee on the revelations made by Ehsan after his surrender and the government’s future policy to treat such terrorists.

Fata Senator Saleh Shah told the committee the government was facilitating some TTP groups and they had opened their offices in Tank, Dera Ismail Khan and Bannu.

He mentioned that groups of TTP led by Hakimullah Mehsud and Mullah Fazaullah had been using “cards of foreign countries while Sajna Group using local cards or resources”.

“Some of the surrendered groups, with the facilitation of government, have established their offices and they were providing justice to the locals through their own judicial system,” he said.

The government had given incentives to these groups who were “using foreign cards”, he said while criticising the “government’s unannounced policy of reintegration of militants”. He sought explanation on the government’s policy about the ‘glorification’ of former TTP spokesperson. “This was not a right step, ” he said. The additional secretary told the committee that Ehsan was allegedly involved in a number of onslaughts, including Bacha Khan Airport attack, terror hit on tourists in Gilgit-Baltistan, Wagah border bombing, Mohmand Agency attack and the killing of former Punjab home minister Shuja Khanzada.

Describing the reasons for Ehsan’s surrender, he said, this was because a large number of youth of his age group, who were involved in such activities, were doubtful about their future because of the rifts within Taliban.

“Ehsan had made an attempt to secure his future,” he said.

“His revelations have proved the point that militant organisation Jamaatul Ahrar (JuA), a splinter group of TTP, had a direct link to RAW and the Afghan government. Ehsan does not look much important but he remained an insider of the TTP and much more information could be extracted from him,” he said.

“The rule of law and the due process of law would be followed in this case and this case would not be disposed of instantly,” he said, adding that there was no good or bad Taliban and this was the stated policy of the government when MQM Senator Barrister Muhammad Ali Saif said that there were useful and non-useful Taliban. Responding to a question, he said that Ehsan was in the custody of an intelligence agency.

The ministry of defence officer said that the security agencies got their operational level objectives with the airing of confessional statement of Eshan on TV channels and there was no intention of his glorification at all.

The remarks of additional secretary opened a plethora of questions from the lawmakers as MQM legislator Tahir Mashhadi said former TTP spokesperson should be tried under relevant laws if due process of law would have to be followed.

“Then stop presenting him as a hero on TV channels,” he said. “We should treat the terrorists the way they maltreated us,” he added.

Barrister Saif refused to endorse the revelation of Ehsan that JuA had links with RAW and Afghan intelligence agency NDS. “After the death of TTP chief Hakimullah Mehsud, there was split in TTP and reason behind the creation of JuA was differences between Mullah Fazaullah and Omer Khalid Khorasani.,” he said. Rejecting the statement of Lodhi that much information could be extracted from Ehsan, Saif said that how was it possible that Ehsan was presented on TV before debriefing him. He condemned the policy of presenting terrorist on TV channels, saying this would create hurdles during prosecution and the same was the case with Indian spy Kulbhushan Jadhav.

Committee Chairman Rehman Malik said that former TTP spokesperson openly accepted militant organisation Daesh or Islamic State. “If the government wants to make him approver, then proper procedure be adopted. The government should not bring him to TV,” he said while condemning this act and protested over this action on behalf of the committee. The chairman also raised some questions the way the government contested the case of Jadhav in the International Court of Justice (ICJ) and asked why the attorney general did not represent the case and the ad hoc judge was not appointed.

The committee also directed the Ministry of Interior to form a task force to launch a probe into reports of smuggling of narcotics through PIA planes. An officer of the Narcotics Division informed the committee that the UK’s National Crime Agency had not given information about the incident to it in black and white.

Full report at:

http://nation.com.pk/national/23-May-2017/ttp-splinter-groups-allowed-opening-offices-in-kp

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Pakistani sympathisers split over Saudi-Iran spat

May 23, 2017

LAHORE - The Pakistan Awami Tehrik has taken exception to the statement against brother Islamic country Iran at the International Islamic conference in Saudi Arabia.

The Jamiat Ulema-e-Pakistan on Monday also issued an overwhelming statement in favour of Iran, condemning America which according to JUP president Pir Ijaz Hashmi bent upon initiating Shia-Sunni sectarian conflict in the region.

Both the parties represent popular Brelvi schools of thought, although Dr Tahirul Qadri’s PAT does not like to be labelled as a religious party. Brelvis comprise 50 per cent of Pakistan’s population while around 20 per cent are followers of Fiqa Jafria/Shia.

Although Shia and Brelvi parties are not friends as their leaders do not like to sit with each other, they take clear side of Iran on various matters. The case of Deobandi and Ehlehadth parties is not different with that of the formers. JUI-F, JUI-S, Jamiat Ehlhadth, Markazi Jamiat Ehlehadth and many others have differences with each other but they support Saudi cause in the region.

The Jamaat-e-Islami is the only party which calls itself a non-representative of any sect. Its founder, late Syed Abual Aala Mododi, had enjoyed very good relations with both Iran and Saudi Arabia during his life time. The JI terms itself a Pan-Islamic movement. The party, however, has remained silent over the recent Iran-Saudi conflict.

The cold-war between Iran and Saudi Arabia on the situation in Syria and Yemen has created a clear rift among the religious parties in Pakistan.

Analysts believe Iran and Saudi Arabia’s support to their sympathisers in Pakistan is main hurdle in creating unity among religio-political parties in the country.

The statements in favour of Iran poured from the Shia and Brelvi parties a day after Islamic-Arab-America Summit in Riyadh. Earlier, leaders of the said groups congratulated Hassan Rouhani on winning Iran president election while Deobandi and Ehlehadith parties are keeping mum over the development in the neighbouring country.

PAT secretary-general Khurram Nawaz Gandapur said that the government had assured the nation that Pakistan would not be part of any move against any Islamic country but a diatribe at the Islamic moot against Iran put a question a mark over the issue. It seemed that an attempt was being made to divide Islamic world and Pakistan was also becoming part of it, he held.

He further said that depriving Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif of an opportunity to address the conference should be taken as an insult to the only Islamic atomic power. “It also seems that the prime minister acted as what he was told by the organisers of the moot,” he added.

Gandapur also blasted US president Trump for speaking in favour of Modi’s India and terming it a ‘victim of terror’. By saying this, he said, he has played with the sentiments of Kashmiris who are sacrificing their lives. “Modi’s praise by Trump on the soil of brother Islamic country is a point to ponder and should be taken seriously.”

Full report at:

http://nation.com.pk/lahore/23-May-2017/pakistani-sympathisers-split-over-saudi-iran-spat

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Africa

 

Nigeria’s Top Muslim Leader Calls for End to Child Beggars Recruited by Extremists

BY CONOR GAFFEY

5/22/17

The Sultan of Sokoto is the highest seat of Sunni Islamic authority in Nigeria and holds influence over the country’s huge Muslim population. A 2010 Pew Research Center study estimated that 77 million Muslims live in Nigeria, the fifth-biggest population in the world.

The sight of young children begging is common in parts of northern Nigeria which have suffered from poverty and underdevelopment while cities in the oil-rich south, like Lagos and Abuja, have thrived. Almajiri children receive a few hours tuition per day from Islamic teachers that focuses on recitation of the Koran before being sent out to beg for food.

Nigerian officials have previously admitted that the itinerant children are vulnerable to recruitment by Boko Haram, the Islamist militant group that has killed thousands and displaced millions since taking up arms in 2009.

The former governor of Kano State, the biggest state in the north, told the Los Angeles Times in 2014 that there was “a very strong correlation between poverty, unemployment, illiteracy and the issue of insurgency and insecurity.”

The sultan said that state governments must do more to provide welfare support for citizens, particularly children orphaned by the insurgency, and urged Muslims to donate to charity—a practice known as zakat in Islam—to help take the children off the streets.

Since being significantly weakened by Nigerian and military offensives, launched after President Muhammadu Buhari after he came to power in Nigeria in 2015, Boko Haram has stepped up the recruitment of children.

In the first quarter of 2017, the militant group used 27 children in suicide attacks, a 200 percent increase and nearly as many as the 2016 total of 30.

One recruitment tactic involves offering loans to impoverished young people looking to start businesses, then force the recipients to join as fighters when they are unable to pay back the loan.

The group is also notorious for kidnapping children: Amnesty International has documented at least 42 cases of mass abductions by Boko Haram since the start of 2014, many involving children. The most infamous was the abduction of 276 girls from their school in Chibok, in the northeastern Borno State, in April 2014.

The kidnapping sparked a global campaign titled #BringBackOurGirls. Eighty-two of the girls were released earlier in May in a prisoner swap for five Boko Haram commanders, but 113 still remain in captivity.

http://www.newsweek.com/nigeria-islam-boko-haram-child-soldiers-613245

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Tunisia protester ‘accidentally’ killed in south: ministry

22 May 2017

A young protester was killed Monday after a police vehicle “accidentally” ran him over outside an oil and gas installation in south Tunisia after weeks of social unrest, a ministry said.

“The health ministry announces the accidental death of a young man, (run over) by the national guard. He was a protester,” the ministry told AFP.

Protesters have been camping outside the El Kamour oil and gas pumping station for around a month, blocking truck access to the site to demand they be given a share of local resources and priority in jobs in the sector.

Tensions have risen in recent days at the site in the Tataouine region around 500 kilometers (300 miles) south of Tunis, with security forces firing tear gas at demonstrators on Monday as they tried to storm the installation.

Soldiers fired warning shots at protesters in El Kamour on Saturday.

It was the first such escalation since President Beji Caid Essebsi said earlier this month the army would protect key economic installations from being disrupted by protests over social and labour issues.

Late Sunday, the defence ministry in a statement warned the army would resort to force against anyone who tried to enter the grounds of these installations.

The statement warns “all citizens of legal proceedings in the case of clashes with military or security units” and of possible casualties in “the case of a gradual escalation of use of force”.

“One must understand that attempting to enter by force an installation protected by the army... is not a peaceful act... It requires a reaction,” ministry spokesman Belhassen Oueslati told Express FM radio on Monday.

An AFP correspondent said clashes also erupted on Monday morning outside the Tataouine governor’s office after local residents staged a protest in support of the El Kamour sit-in.

Footage shared on social media showed at least one demonstrator who was injured, and ambulances arriving, sirens screaming, at the town hospital.

In January 2016, Tunisia was rocked by some of the worst social unrest since the 2011 revolution that toppled veteran dictator Zine El Abidine Ben Ali.

Anger erupted after the death of a 28-year-old unemployed man who was electrocuted when he climbed a power pole while protesting in the central town of Kasserine.

Full report at:

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/north-africa/2017/05/22/Tunisia-protester-accidentally-killed-in-south-ministry-.html

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Nigeria Seeks Islamic Bank's Support in Infrastructure Financing

22 MAY 2017

By Yetunde Oyebami Ojo

Lagos — Nigeria has sought the support of the Islamic Development Bank to fund the construction of the Second Niger Bridge on Private Public Partnership (PPP) and other projects.

Nigeria also urged the speedy completion of on-going projects being sponsored by the bank in the country.

This was stated at the weekend at the just-concluded 42nd annual meeting of the bank during a business meeting with its Vice President, Operations and Nigeria's former Minister for Finance, Dr. Mansur Mukhtar.

Permanent Secretary in the Federal Ministry of Finance, Dr. Mahmoud Isa-Dutse, who led Nigeria's delegation and represented the Minister of Finance, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun, described the meeting as fruitful, where the position of the country was presented and mutual understanding reached between both sides.

The permanent secretary reminded the bank of President Muhammadu Buhari's request for support for the reconstruction and provision of infrastructures in the North East in collaboration with the World Bank and the African Development Bank.

The Islamic Development Bank has provided loans for projects in many states.

Also, the Managing Director of Credit Bureau Limited, Mr. Ahmed Popoola has said implementation of the concept of Islamic banking could lift the country's economy out of the current economic recession.

Popoola stated this at the annual national conference of the Muslim Lawyers' Association of Nigeria (MULAN) in Lagos at the weekend.

According to him: "Islamic finance is an alternative option worth exploring to raise funds for public works and to support the private sector access to finance.

Full report at:

http://allafrica.com/stories/201705220542.html

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Somalia: President Farmaajo Briefly Meets Trump in Riyadh, Appeals Backing

22 MAY 2017

Somali President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo has on Sunday met with the U.S President Donald Trump in the capital of Saudi Arabia, Riyadh following the conclusion of the US-Arab-Muslim conference, Presidential Communications officer confirms.

Somali Presidential Communications officer, Abdinur Mohamed said the two presidents talked on security collaboration between Somalia and the United States of America, where President Farmajo highlighted the need for strong U.S support to defeat the militant group Al-Shabab that is battling the government and the African Union forces.

"We are in war on terror and we need international assistance as Somalia lone cannot defeat the terror groups."Mr. Mohamed said during a media briefing in Riyadh. He said the U.S administration promised 100% backing for the new Somali government to secure the Horn of African nation and rebuild the country's national forces.

Full report at:

http://allafrica.com/stories/201705221046.html

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North America

 

Iran accuses US of 'Iranophobia', arming 'dangerous terrorists'

May 23, 2017

President Trump takes his seat before his speech to the Arab Islamic American Summit in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

“Dubai and Iran accused the United States on Monday because of selling arms to "dangerous terrorists" in the Middle East and due to spreading of "Iranophobia" aimed at encouraging Arab states to purchase arms”, state television reported.

"Once again, by his repetitive and baseless claims about Iran, the American president tried to encourage the countries of the region to purchase more arms by spreading Iranophobia," Foreign Ministry spokesman Bahram Qassemi said.

Almost $110 billion arms deals were signed on a day after US President Donald Trump ended a visit to Tehran's arch-foe Saudi Arabia.

Sending a tough message to Tehran shortly after pragmatist Hassan Rouhani was re-elected president, Trump had urged Arab and Islamic leaders to unite to defeat Islamist militants, and said “Iran had for decades fueled the fires of sectarian conflict and terrors".

Saudi Arabia and Iran compete for influence across the Middle East, respectively backing rival political or armed groups in Syria, Lebanon, Iraq and Yemen.

Iran denies Saudi accusations that it sends financial and sometimes military support to groups hostile to Riyadh.

Qassemi said “Washington was reinvigorating terrorists in the region by its hostile policies and should stop selling arms to dangerous terrorists".

He said “the United States and its allies should know that Iran is a democratic, stable and powerful country and that it promoted peace, good neighborliness, and the creation of a world opposed to violence and extremism".

Rouhani defeated a hardline rival in Friday's election with promises to be more open to the world and ease social and political limitations at home.

The Iranian president championed a nuclear deal with the United States and five other major powers in 2015 that led to the lifting of most sanctions against Iran last year, in return for curbs on its nuclear program.

Gulf Arab states expressed support for the deal, but also fears that the lifting of sanctions would enable Tehran to pursue destabilizing policies in the Middle East.

http://nation.com.pk/international/22-May-2017/iran-accuses-us-of-iranophobia-arming-dangerous-terrorists

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Trump’s ‘Principled Realism’ Is Not Very Realistic about Islam

May 22, 2017

So for what exactly is the “extreme vetting” going to vet?

That was the question I could not shake from my mind while listening to President Trump’s speech in Saudi Arabia on Sunday to dozens of Sunni Islamic leaders and a global television audience. There were certainly some positives in the president’s rhetoric. Trump did not cite American policy or “arrogance” as a contributory cause of jihadist savagery, as President Obama was wont to do. He was less delusional about the splendor of Islam than were Obama and President George W. Bush. Gone were absurd inflations of Islam’s historical achievements and place in the American fabric; gone were allusions to the “religion of peace and love.” In their place was an acknowledgment that Islam is besieged by a “crisis” of terror that is engulfing the world, a crisis that is ideological in nature and that only Muslims themselves can solve. All true. Nevertheless, the theme that came through the speech is that terrorism is something that happens to Islam, rather than something that happens because of Islam. That is simply not the case, even though it is true, as Trump asserted, that the vast majority of those killed by Muslim terrorists are themselves Muslims. There is thus a good deal that is not real about “Principled Realism,” Trump’s name for what he heralds as a new American strategy — “new approaches informed by experience and judgment,” a “discarding” of strategies “that have not worked.” The principal fiction in “principled realism” is that we share “common values” with Sunni Arab sharia societies. That is problematic because these purported “common values” — in conjunction with “shared interests” — are said to be the roots of Trump’s approach. The president stressed that during his first overseas trip as president, he would be “visiting many of the holiest places in the three Abrahamic faiths.” The irony was palpable, at least to some of us. Trump is not visiting the holiest places of Islam. Yes, upon departing Saudi Arabia, he headed to Israel where he prayed at the Western Wall in Jerusalem. In the offing is a jaunt to Rome, to the Vatican for an audience with Pope Francis. But for all the treacle about “why I chose to make my first foreign visit a trip to the heart of the Muslim world, to the nation [Saudi Arabia] that serves as custodian of the two holiest sites in the Islamic faith,” Trump sidestepped the fact that he is not welcome in those two sites, Mecca and Medina. Why? Because the president is a non-Muslim. Non-Muslims are not allowed to step their infidel feet in Islam’s sacred cities. That iteration of Islamic intolerance is squarely based on scripture — see, e.g., the Koran’s Sura 9:28: “Oh you who believe! Truly the idolaters are unclean, so let them not, after this year, approach the sacred mosque” — a verse that specifically relates to the Grand Mosque in Mecca (Makkah), and has been extended by Islamic scholars to Medina. That is why Trump’s House of Saud hosts enforce a ban on entry by non-Muslims to both cities. I say that this ban is just one “iteration of Islamic intolerance” for two reasons. First, there are many other iterations. Scripturally based Islamic doctrine systematically discriminates against non-Muslims in many particulars, and against women in many others. Since Trump’s “principled realism” is said to be rooted in “common values,” it might be worth a gander at the guidance Trump’s State Department provides to Americans pondering a trip to the kingdom:     Criminal Penalties: You are subject to local laws. If you violate local laws, even unknowingly, you may be expelled, arrested, imprisoned, subject to physical punishments, or even executed. Penalties for the import, manufacture, possession, and consumption of alcohol or illegal drugs in Saudi Arabia are severe. Convicted offenders can expect long jail sentences, heavy fines, public floggings, and/or deportation. The penalty for drug trafficking is death . . . Faith-Based Travelers: Islam is the official religion of the country and pervades all aspects of life in Saudi Arabia. Saudi authorities do not permit criticism of Islam, religious figures, or the royal family. The government prohibits the public practice of religions other than Islam. Non-Muslims suspected of violating these restrictions have been jailed. Church services in private homes have been raided, and participants have been jailed. Muslims who do not adhere to the strict interpretations of Islam prevalent in much of Saudi Arabia frequently encounter societal discrimination and constraints on worship. Public display of non-Islamic religious articles, such as crosses and Bibles, is not permitted. [And, of course . . .] Non-Muslims are forbidden to travel to Makkah (Mecca) and Medina, the cities where two of Islam’s holiest mosques are located . . . LGBTI Travelers: Same-sex sexual relations, even when they are consensual, are criminalized in Saudi Arabia. Violations of Saudi laws governing perceived expressions of, or support for, same sex sexual relations, including on social media, may be subject to severe punishment. Potential penalties include fines, jail time, or death. The State Department guidance suggests that readers consult the International Religious Freedom Report produced in 2015 by State’s Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor. It relates the brutal punishments meted out by some Islamic countries — not jihadist organizations, but governments in Muslim-majority countries — for blasphemy and apostasy. The paragraph on the Kingdom is worth reading: In Saudi Arabia, media and local sources reported that the General Court in Abha sentenced Palestinian poet Ashraf Fayadh to death for apostasy in November, overturning a previous sentence of four years’ imprisonment and 800 lashes (the death sentence was subsequently overturned in February 2016 and a sentence of eight years’ imprisonment and 800 lashes imposed). Officials from the Committee for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice initially arrested Fayadh in August 2013, after reports that he had made disparaging remarks about Islam. In a separate incident in January, authorities publicly lashed Raif Badawi 50 times in accordance with a sentence based on his 2013 conviction for violating Islamic values, violating sharia, committing blasphemy, and mocking religious symbols on the Internet. This is why, watching Trump and his senior aides prance about the palace in Riyadh, doing “the sword dance” with their fellow male revelers, I couldn’t help but wonder if they realized how often their host regime uses the scimitars to carry out beheadings for violations of Islamic law. There were 153 decapitations last year and 158 in 2015. It is worth emphasizing: That is not something that was done by ISIS for violations of sharia. It was done by the government of Saudi Arabia for violations of sharia. Which brings us to the second reason why Islamic intolerance must be noted in our consideration of “principled realism”: That intolerance is the foundation of “extremism,” the studiously unexamined term Trump now applies to jihadist terrorism, just as Obama and Bush did before him. There was much ado in the lead up and delivery of Trump’s speech regarding how he would describe the phenomenon he labeled “radical Islamic terrorism” throughout the 2016 campaign — ridiculing the craven political correctness of rivals who shied away from this terminology. As with much else Trump said on the hustings, the label is the subject of intense infighting in his administration. Reflecting the view of former military commanders who serve in the administration’s top ranks (and who carried out Bush’s “Islamic democracy” building and Obama’s embrace of our Islamic “partners”), national-security adviser H. R. McMaster is said to be repulsed by the term “radical Islamic terrorism,” apparently seeing it as needlessly provocative. Other Trump strategists, who supported the campaign’s promise to be unflinching in illustrating the nexus between Islamic scripture and Muslim terrorism, strongly favor the term. Trump, who simultaneously wants (a) profitable relations with the Saudis, (b) the refutation of claims that he is anti-Muslim, and (c) credit for being honest about the connection between Islam and terror, seems torn. The intramural squabble was evident during the speech. As prepared, the text had the president calling for “honestly confronting the crisis of Islamist extremism and the Islamist terror groups it inspires” (emphasis added). But when he actually delivered his remarks, Trump departed from the script, speaking instead of “honestly confronting the crisis of Islamic extremism and the Islamists and Islamic terror of all kinds.” An unidentified aide insisted to the New York Times that the president was “exhausted” and simply misspoke when he invoked “Islamic.” To the contrary, I believe he is struggling to resolve this tension. As I pointed out prior to his inauguration, however, it is unclear that Trump grasps why the tension is significant: For him, it may reflect concern over the inevitable criticism if he abandons hot campaign rhetoric, not over whether the distinction between Islamic and Islamist is viable. We draw this distinction out of a conviction that Islam the religion should not be confounded with Islamism the political ideology. This conviction may be more a matter of wishful thinking than anything that can be called “realism.” That is manifest when we review the afore-described State Department guidance. Intolerance of non-Muslims and subjugation of women is not a reflection of jihadist “extremism”; it is mainstream Islam as practiced and codified in sharia societies. So here is the problem: The definition of “extremism” that Trump’s “principled realism” sets itself against is artificial and incoherent. It is true, of course, that not all Muslims who support the intolerance rooted in Islamic doctrine and expressed by the policies of majority-Muslim regimes will become violent jihadists. Nonetheless, violent jihad is a natural progression from that intolerance. Yet Trump’s “principled realism” holds that the American people and sharia societies share “common values” that will cause the latter to fight jihadism. How could anyone believe this is the case unless he is willfully blind to how the kingdom is governed, the longstanding support Saudis have provided for terrorism, and the number of Saudis complicit in anti-American terrorism? Trump is trying to have it both ways: acknowledge that the threat is ideological (and demand plaudits for brave political incorrectness in doing so), but pretend that the violent aspects of the ideology can be — indeed, have been — compartmentalized from the intolerant dehumanization of non-Muslims at the core of the ideology. If this is Trump’s position, then why all the fuss about “extreme vetting”?

Full report at:

http://www.nationalreview.com/article/447857/trump-saudi-arabia-speech-islamic-terrorism-sharia

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Trump Neglects to Make Positive Nod to Muslims in America

May 22, 2017

President Trump pointedly failed to recognize the contributions of Muslims in America in his speech to leaders of 50 Muslim nations in Saudi Arabia Sunday.

Apparently making nice to Muslims around the world does not include those that live in his own country.

President George W Bush after 9/11 emphasized religious tolerance and a respect for faith in a warning for those who wanted to take their anger out on Muslim Americans.

President Trump, almost 16 years removed from that dark day in history, did not even acknowledge the existence of Muslims in America in his speech.

The omission was noted in a statement released by the Council on American-Islamic Relations which called on the President to move beyond rhetoric and into concrete action.

“Such concrete actions should include condemning Islamophobia, protecting the civil rights of American Muslims and other minority groups, achieving just and comprehensive resolutions to the various Middle East conflicts, ending religious and ethnic profiling at borders and in airports, ending support for dictators whose oppression foments extremism and violence, and supporting mainstream Muslims who peacefully pursue social, economic and political progress around the world,” said Nihad Awad, executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations.

Adnan Zulfigar, a Philadelphia-based Truman National Security Project fellow was even more blunt.

Full report at:

http://newamericamedia.org/2017/05/trump-neglects-to-make-positive-nod-to-muslims-in-america.php

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Toronto walking tour aims to build solidarity with Muslim neighbours

23 May 2017

TORONTO, Canada – Shazlin Rahman stood on a side street in Toronto’s west end, encircled by a diverse group of neighbours, friends, acquaintances, and people she had only just met.

She chose this spot, the first stop in an hour-long tour of the Bloordale neighbourhood, because she said she wanted to show the group just how diverse the Muslim community really is.

“That happens to be my dentist here,” Rahman said, pointing up at the sign for Opal Dental Care, a small, dental office run by Dr Amin Babul.

“Muslims are not monolithic… [we] practise in different ways,” Rahman continued, explaining the difference between Sunni and Shia Muslims, before leading the group down the street towards the nearby subway station.

The afternoon walking tour aimed to build connections between residents in Canada’s most populous city, and generate ideas about how people can show solidarity with their Muslim neighbours, especially as they face Islamophobia and other problems.

It was one of dozens of “Jane’s Walks” organised in the city; citizen-led walking tours inspired by Jane Jacobs, an urban planner who championed residents’ input into how their neighbourhoods look and function.

Rahman said she first conceived the idea after noticing that people wanted to show their support for Muslims “beyond moments of tragedy,” but many weren’t sure how they could do it.

“I know that it starts with personal, one-on-one relationships with the Muslims around you,” Rahman told Middle East Eye before the tour began.

“So that’s why this walk today is going to look at the different ways that people can do that in simple ways that are not intimidating to themselves and also to their Muslim friends.”

Islamophobia on the rise

Islamophobia has been on the rise in Canada in recent years, with hate crimes targeting Muslims more than doubling between 2012 and 2014, the last period for which the data is available.

At the end of January, six Muslim men were killed as they prayed in an attack on a mosque in Quebec City.

While the attack sparked an outpouring of support across Canada, with candlelight vigils held in several major cities, and community leaders vowing to put an end to anti-Muslim rhetoric, a series of religiously-motivated incidents have happened since the shooting.

Several cases of vandalism at mosques, and threats to a Jewish community centre in downtown Toronto, have been reported in recent months.

A parliamentary motion to condemn and investigate Islamophobia and hate crimes across Canada drew the ire of right-wing groups earlier this year, which said it curtailed freedom of speech.

Though the motion passed by a wide margin with the support of the governing Liberal Party, the hate-filled public debate created a charged atmosphere across the country.

Rusul Alrubail, a writer and educator based in Toronto, spoke during one of the tour stops in front of the Islamic Information and Dawah Centre International, a mosque in the heart of the neighbourhood.

She said a neighbour’s public display of solidarity - a white ribbon affixed to a tree with a message that read, “All faiths welcome” - helped her cope in the aftermath of the deadly Quebec shooting.

Up until that point, she had decided to keep her daughter home from school, and she felt uneasy even walking around her own neighbourhood.

“You wouldn’t even imagine the feeling that I got when I read that message. It’s such a simple message, but I was so overwhelmed. I stood there, holding back tears,” Alrubail recalled.

The ribbons were part of a campaign launched by another nearby mosque, and carried various messages, including “Diversity is our strength”. But the ribbon on her neighbour’s lawn spoke to her the most, Alrubail said.

“That one stood [out] to me… Your faith is welcome; it doesn’t matter what you believe in, you’re here and you’re our neighbour. I was so struck by this,” she said.

Ways to build solidarity

While “anti-Muslim sentiment and Islamophobia is an ongoing problem,” Rahman said it feels like the issue has slightly fallen out of the news.

“So I think it’s a great time for people to take a step back and think about what they can do, and not be in this emergency and alarming mode all the time,” she said.

She pointed to transportation as an area that can pose a challenge in the aftermath of anti-Muslim incidents, especially for women who wear headscarves or are otherwise visibly Muslim.

And it’s a place where simple acts of solidarity can go a long way, she said.

In recent months, incidents have been reported in Toronto of Muslim women being spat on, or even verbally and physically assaulted, while riding the subway or buses.

“Travelling is a key issue for Muslims, particularly for Muslim women, whenever Islamophobia is on the rise,” Rahman said, adding that she has felt apprehensive about taking public transportation at times.

A simple solution would be offering Muslim friends a ride, if you’re travelling to the same place, or riding the bus or subway together to prevent harassment, she said.

“What happens when you don’t feel safe travelling is that you tend to curtail your activities, you tend to not go to places, you tend to remove yourself from spaces that you have a right to be in,” Rahman said.

“That can be really detrimental to a lot of Muslim women, especially for people who are already marginalised and racialised.”

‘People are always welcome’

Ilyas Ally, the assistant imam at the Dawah Centre, said solidarity vigils and other interfaith events organised in the aftermath of recent tragic incidents meant a lot to the local Muslim community.

Speaking to the group in the mosque’s main prayer hall, he said that people of all faiths should feel like they can walk into the centre at any time to show their support, or ask questions.

Full report at:

http://www.middleeasteye.net/news/toronto-walking-tour-aims-build-solidarity-muslim-neighbours-1470076132

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Southeast Asia

 

Jakarta's former Christian governor to withdraw appeal of blasphemy sentence

May 23, 2017

Jakarta's former Christian governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama will withdraw an appeal against his controversial two-year jail sentence for insulting Islam in Muslim-majority Indonesia, his sister said on Tuesday.

Fify Letty Indra, who is Purnama's younger sister and a member of his legal team, made the comments in a news conference given by members of his family and lawyers.

Purnama, an ethnic Chinese popularly known as "Ahok", was jailed on May 9 for a longer-than-expected jail term in a ruling that critics fear will embolden hardline Islamist forces to challenge secularism in Indonesia.

http://nation.com.pk/international/23-May-2017/jakarta-s-former-christian-governor-to-withdraw-appeal-of-blasphemy-sentence

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Perlis mufti backs non-Muslim’s application to be Shariah lawyer

May 23, 2017

KUALA LUMPUR, May 23 ― Perlis mufti Datuk Mohd Asri Zainul Abidin has backed a non-Muslim to be allowed to become a Shariah lawyer in the state.

Mohd Asri, known popularly as Dr Maza, wrote a letter to the Shariah Chief Judge’s office backing the bid by Victoria Jayaseele Martin to practice as a Shariah lawyer in the state, according to The Star.

“After looking at all the certificates and qualification in syariah, I, as the Mufti of Perlis and member of the state Syariah Lawyers Committee, as well as interview panel, support her application,” he reportedly said in the letter, which was submitted on May 4.

He said in the letter that allowing the lawyer to practise Shariah law does not contradict Islam.

He also urged the Shariah Chief Judge to call Martin in for an interview just like any other candidate applying to practise Shariah law.

Martin has been trying to be a Shariah lawyer since 2011, initially losing her bid with a High Court challenge.

Full report at:

http://www.themalaymailonline.com/malaysia/article/perlis-mufti-backs-non-muslims-application-to-be-shariah-lawyer

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Indonesia: Proud ‘Model Muslim Country’ Scrambles to Fight Off Islamic Extremism

May 22, 2017

WASHINGTON - Tucked inside a sleek modernist room just blocks from the U.S. Capitol sat a hand-picked group of diplomats and scholars invited to take on the weighty task of helping the world's most populous Muslim country resist becoming an Islamic state. Former U.S. ambassadors, State Department officials, university professors and a high-level delegation from Indonesia were among the some two-dozen guests huddled in the room in the bustling Newseum last week under the banner of "Indonesia:  A model for the Muslim world."

Yet despite its name, the gathering was anything but a celebratory party for Indonesia.  Instead moderator Hon. Rabbi David Saperstein, former U.S. Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom, sounded the alarm that Islamic extremism was on the rise in the traditionally tolerant Southeast Asian country that prides itself on being the world's largest Muslim democracy and having a robust history of interreligious harmony.

Jakob Tobing, president of Leimena Institute and Indonesia's former ambassador to South Korea, reinforced Saperstein's concern.

"As you can see from the [Jakarta] election, the threat of radicalism is growing," stated Tobing, who helped lead the Indonesian parliament to rewrite its constitution that transitioned the country from dictatorship to democracy at the turn of this century. "Negligence of this consolidation has opened a very fertile soil for these ideas coming from the outside."

Tobing was referencing the recent defeat of Jakarta Governor Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama - a double minority as a Christian and a person of Chinese descent.  Ahok was the first Christian governor of Jakarta in over 50 years and only the second Christian governor of Jakarta in the history of Indonesia.  He was defeated in his re-election bid by Anies Baswedan, a former education and culture minister and a Muslim.

In the weeks ahead of the Jakarta election, Muslim radicals in Indonesia protested in the thousands, calling for Ahok to be jailed for false blasphemy charges, and demanding Muslim voters (nearly 90 percent of the population) to only vote for Muslim politicians regardless of their politics.  The uproar incited by Muslim hardliners turned the Jakarta election into a litmus test on the strength of Indonesia's foundational religious tolerance and harmony tenets.  Ahok's defeat was unanimously seen as a sign of the strengthening power of radical Islam in Indonesia.

"I think the [Jakarta] election has become a wake-up call to all popular forces in Indonesia," reflected Alwi Shihab, the Indonesian president's special envoy to the Middle East and OIC and former minister of foreign affairs.  "We have been so far complacent.  We have been so proud to be seen as a model of Islamic religious tolerance and so forth.  We are forgetful of the invasion of ideas and ideology."

The influential Muslim political leader noted that during the Jakarta election, extremists were "abusing verses of the Koran and intimidating Muslims" by saying "'If you vote for Ahok that means you vote against the will of God.'"

"We always say that the two largest organizations [in Indonesia] supporting the president will never fail - 'too big to fail.'  But today we are in a different situation.  Today we have to be alert and witness something we have never before."

Shihab is a respected figure in the Nahdlatul Ulama, one of the two largest Muslim organizations in Indonesia, and an influential scholar in the country's interfaith dialogue.

In addition to Nahdlatul Ulama (NU), which has some 60 million followers, Indonesia's other major Muslim organization is Muhammadiyah, with about 40 million followers.  These two Islamic political and social movements are strong supporters of the official national philosophy of Pancasila, which protects pluralism and officially recognizes religions other than Islam, including Christianity (Catholicism and Protestantism), Hinduism and Buddhism.  Confucianism was added later in 2000.

Former Ambassador Tobing explained that democracy in Indonesia is possible mostly due to the way the Indonesian people see themselves.

"First of all it's our nationalism," explained Tobing.

Indonesia has over 1,000 tribes and ethnicities.  During low tide, there are about 17,000 islands and during high tide some 13,000 islands.  Indonesia is also a very large archipelago where going from Aceh to Papua takes about 7 hours to fly, comparable to a flight from Alaska to Miami.  Indonesia also has more than 700 languages.

"But thanks to our founding mothers and founding fathers, we can mold this nationalism, which despite our diversity we look ourselves as one.  So this is the strong foundation for a kind of democracy.  We have a Muslim majority people who are very, very inclusive.  We call them the middle path Islam.  And this is the largest community of Islam.  We are different than those in the Middle East," Tobing said.

Yet "even these people are now being penetrated by radical ideas."   

The pro-Pancasila non-profit Leimena Institute president offered a solution to Indonesia's growing radical problem:  "We should consolidate this (NU and  Muhammadiyah) power.  First of all, we should awaken them because sometimes they feel everything is OK.  But now they have to realize that now they (radical Islam) have penetrated deeply ... the mosques in urban societies have been possessed by the radicals."

According to the President's Special Envoy to the Middle East and OIC Alwi Shihab, Indonesian President Joko Widodo is working with the NU and Muhammadiyah to counter radical Islam in the country.  However, the Indonesian delegation members readily admitted that uniting the massively large - 100 million followers - and diverse Muslim organizations is a huge challenge they have not solved yet.        

"Indonesia could be a model with five percent economic growth per year.  We can be the fourth or the fifth largest economy in the world within these 20 years.  Democratic, prosperous, stable ... not for the sake of Indonesia alone but for the world.  We have to fight not only in the physical field but mostly with the ideas.  War of ideas," Tobing concluded.

Full report at:

http://www.gospelherald.com/articles/70582/20170522/indonesia-proud-model-muslim-country-scrambles-to-fight-off-islamic-extremism.htm

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Teachers: Difficult for Muslim students in Indonesia to accept pluralism

23 May 2017

Jakarta: Koidah has been teaching the Islamic religion at state se­nior high school SMAN 1 Plumbon in Cirebon regency, West Java, for seven years, but she claims it has always been difficult for her pupils to accept pluralism.

“The majority of my students are Muslim; only five non-Muslim students are registered in the ninth to 11th grade.

That is why tolerance is not practised well in the school for they seldom see differences, such as people with varied religious backgrounds,” Koidah, 55, said.

Desperately in need of quality intellectual sustenance to support her teaching crusade, Koidah is now partaking in a programme overseen by NGO Cahaya Guru Foun­­­dation named Sekolah Guru Kebhinekaan, which is loosely translated as the Teacher’s School For Diversity.

The Sekolah Guru Kebhinekaan runs until Dec 10 and consists largely of a series of lectures on Indo­nesia’s highest tenet of Pancasila: pluralism and tolerance. It also involves dialogue with figures of minority faith groups such as the Ahmadiyah, Baha’i and Sunda Wiwitan, as well as field trips.

This is the course’s second year. Thirty-five teachers of numerous school subjects have come from va­­rious regions, ranging from Cirebon and Greater Jakarta to Pandeglang in Banten, to participate.

However, this year’s class could not be more relevant because of the growing concerns over rising sectarian tensions underlining the lack of understanding about Pancasila among the people of this country, said Henny Supolo, a senior education activist who chairs the Cahaya Guru Foundation.

“We try to eradicate prejudice, for it is very bad for society. We believe teachers are the foremost advocates of this idea and, through the training, we want to nurture their acknowledgment of Panca­sila,” Henny said.

In aftermath of the blasphemy conviction of the former Jakarta go­vernor Basuki “Ahok” Tjahaja Pur­nama, which earned him a two-year sentence in prison and has been la­­mented as dubious by critics, inter-religious strife has become more apparent in various regions.

Full report at:

http://www.thestar.com.my/news/regional/2017/05/23/a-struggle-to-teach-tolerance-teachers-difficult-for-muslim-students-in-indonesia-to-accept-pluralis/

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In Kamarul Zaman’s book, non-Muslims can’t write about their faith

May 23, 2017

Aries46: Universti Utara Malaysia lecturer Kamarul Zaman Yusoff's allegation is so unwarranted and childish one wonders how in the world he justifies his role as an educator at the highest level of education.

What is so wrong about Selangor assembly speaker Hannah Yeoh writing about her own life experiences and relating it to her Christian faith? Are Christian politicians forbidden to do so?

In fact, many a time we see Muslims freely quoting verses from the Quran and no one feels offended or objects to it. And who is forcing him to read Yeoh's book?

If Yeoh feels Kamarul Zaman's allegation amount to slander, she has every right to lodge a police report and sue him for defamation. And Kamarul Zaman’s justification he did a tit-or-tat couldn’t be more ridiculous.

Wira: Kamarul Zaman, Yeoh is talking about her personal journey with her God. If that can be taken as proselytising, God can never be mentioned in any book in this country.

Moreover, if you want to read her book, you have to buy or borrow one. She is not giving those out for free.

Unafraid: Is it wrong for a person to write a book about the religion she believes in? What is so offensive about that?

Yeoh's book documents her own personal journey to become the youngest speaker in Malaysia and she gives glory to God for this. Why do others see this as a threat to their religion?

There are other Christian biographies in our bookstores. Do these bigots see these books as serious threats to their faith? What weaklings are these that the mere presence of these books threatens them?

Prudent: I would say, to be fair, that Kamarul Zaman has a point. The attack was against Yeoh’s faith in Jesus Christ and her "good behaviour in Christ".

The Bible clearly teaches that a follower of Jesus Christ, in the event of being attacked on their faith and their "good behaviour" as the fruit of their faith, should be prepared to answer their attackers.

But they should do it with "gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behaviour in Christ may be ashamed of their slander" (1st Peter 3:15-16).

In dragging in the secular authorities by making a police report, Yeoh clearly breached this tenet of her faith. She should answer her critics with the same medium through which she was slandered, as Kamarul Zaman averred.

Fairplayer: Prudent, please do not add salt to Yeoh's injury. Just look at what they did to Ahok (former Jakarta governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama).

Vijay47: Acute stupidity has been present on the Malaysian landscape for so long that we are not surprised when it periodically reaffirms its existence.

In fact, it has mutated itself to a higher plane - we now have politicians who suggest that rapists marry their victims, especially underaged victims, are contributing to individual social responsibility, then there are various muftis who profess that it is acceptable to take out a non-Muslim or two, all in the name of religion, of course, and the latest contribution to Malaysia's spiritual wellbeing, scholars in comparative religion who find great comfort and strength in their own belief by being offensive to other faiths.

So in Kamarul Zaman, nothing else is new. He merely takes delight and pride in letting us know of that monumental vacuum in knowledge and intelligence he suffers from.

Perhaps his next demand could be that car stickers like "Christ is the Way" should be banned, lest, yes, he is confused and his faith weakened.

Reverse123: The British ruled the nation for 150 years - did any Malays adopt Christianity? Over 20 years, thousands of Malays went to ‘mission’ schools, did any become Christian?

Today, thousands of Malays (including ministers’ children) are getting education from land of ‘kafir’, have they become Christian?

Ravinder: Indeed, if hundreds of thousands of Malay/Muslim children who attended the Christian missionary schools and convents from Standard 1 to Form 5 or 6 (i.e. 11 to 13 years of their most impressionable period) in the days before this lecturer was born, did not convert to Christianity, can he explain why and how the faith of today's Muslim Malaysians has eroded so greatly that merely reading Yeoh's book could make them convert to Christianity?

He should instead use his research expertise to study the phenomena of the drastic erosion of the Muslim Malaysians' faith in Islam (if that is what he means to say), and come up with practical, effective methods of teaching Islam so that the faith of the Muslim Malaysians of today will revert to that of the Muslim Malaysians of yesteryears.

Otherwise, he should not engineer excuses to find fault with Yeoh and other non-Muslims as doing so is unIslamic and unprofessional.

XED: This lecturer should concentrate on such facts as the huge numbers of Muslims fleeing to heathen Western countries from the abodes of Islam, risking their lives, sacrificing their assets, and enduring great hardship.

Not Convinced: Kamarul Zaman is not stupid. By equating DAP with Christianity, he is furthering the narrative that Islam is under threat in this country where Muslims comprise the majority, and thus serving the political objective of both Umno and PAS.

Anonymous_1421806811: Being a Muslim myself, I find it hard to understand why Muslims in Malaysia are so "weak" when it comes to anything that associates with other faiths, particularly Christianity.

To them the symbol of a cross or excerpts from the Bible are often seen as symbols of proselytisation. I always thought learning and understanding other religions will strengthen their faith even more.

Is the Muslim faith in Islam that weak? Perhaps I am wrong but being a "qualified" lecturer in UUM and obviously, an expert in proselytisation, Kamarul should write a thesis on this Malay psyche and how to overcome this problem.

Appum: Kamarul Zaman, I am not a DAP member nor a staunch supporter blindly. I support anyone, any party who is intelligent, fair, moderate or leaders who think and speak intelligently and show quality in their actions.

You, without realisation, is somewhat a "leader" in your field of political science since you are a lecturer in that institution of higher learning.

But unfortunately, you have tarnished your name, your status as an academic, your career as professional in political science by your short-sighted reaction to a biography of a person not of your faith.

Full report at:

https://www.malaysiakini.com/news/383119

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Court rejects Perkasa’s help in ex-DPM’s son’s Shariah Bill lawsuit

BY IDA LIM

May 23, 2017

KUALA LUMPUR, May 23 — The High Court today dismissed Perkasa's attempt to assist it in a late deputy prime minister's son's lawsuit over a proposed Bill to increase the Shariah courts' sentencing powers.

Lawyer Rosli Dahlan, who represented the late Tun Dr Ismail Abdul Rahman's son Mohamed Tawfik Ismail, said the High Court here had dismissed Perkasa's application to be amicus curiae or friend of the court in the lawsuit over “non-compliance” with the court's instructions to file in a formal application.

“They are supposed to send grounds to the Attorney-General's Chambers and the court, they didn't, they just filed a submission,” he told Malay Mail Online when contacted after hearing in chambers.

Rosli said he had argued both in chambers and in a written court document that Perkasa had not followed the principles of amicus curiae and the non-governmental organisation's public statements allegedly show it is not a “neutral party.”

In the written submission responding to Perkasa's arguments and as sighted by Malay Mail Online, Rosli argued that Perkasa is allegedly widely-known to be a “Malay rightist movement” with public statements that are purportedly “frequently extremist and racist”.

He argued that Perkasa was allegedly “only interested in seeking cheap publicity and sensationalism” which would be disruptive of court proceedings and would not assist the court, also asserting that there is no special knowledge or assistance that can be given by Perkasa or its lawyer.

Lawyer Nizam Bashir, who represented Perkasa, confirmed that the the group's application for leave to be an amicus curiae was dismissed.

“The court said that we were supposed to send in a letter, since we sent a submission, so there's no reason for the application and the application was dismissed,” he told Malay Mail Online when contacted, arguing however that the court had not previously directed Perkasa to file in a formal application.

“I've stated that this is a NGO that has part of its objectives as upholding Islam as the religion of the federation, it has participated in various Islamic causes in the past and the issue that is being raised is an issue that is very closely linked to its objectives,” he said of the reasons for Perkasa's application.

Nizam said that he would as Perkasa's lawyer also be able to help the court on issues such as constitutional law and Islamic issues that may arise in the lawsuit, as he had in the past dealt with cases touching on these issues.

In Perkasa's April 26 submission to support its application sighted by Malay Mail Online, it argued that it has the required background related to issues that will be raised during the lawsuit and that it would be able to “neutrally assist” the court on the legal points or practice on those issues.

The application was heard by High Court judge Datuk Kamaludin Md Said, while Mansoor Saat also appeared for Tawfik and the AGC's senior federal counsel Shamsul Bolhassan appeared for those sued by Tawfik.

Rosli said the hearing date for the lawsuit has been fixed on August 16.

Tawfik had in March filed the lawsuit asking the courts to declare PAS's proposal to increase Shariah sentencing to be in breach of the Federal Constitution and parliamentary procedure.

Full report at:

http://www.themalaymailonline.com/malaysia/article/court-rejects-perkasas-help-in-ex-dpms-sons-shariah-bill-lawsuit

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Mideast

 

Trump smearing reputation of Palestinian resistance: Hamas

May 22, 2017

The Palestinian resistance movement Hamas says US President Donald Trump is smearing the reputation of Palestinian "resistance" in favor of the Israeli occupation.

Hamas Spokesperson Fawzi Barhum made the remarks on Monday, a day after Trump, speaking at a summit of Arab and Muslim leaders in the Saudi capital Riyadh, called for unity against "Islamic terror," specifically naming Hamas and drawing parallels between the resistance movement and the Daesh Takfiri terrorist group.

Trump's comments had been "aimed at besmirching the reputation of the Palestinian resistance," said Barhum, adding that the movement refused to be treated as a "terrorist" organization.

Meanwhile, top Hamas official Mushir al-Masri also lambasted Trump's provocative remarks, saying the US president was "aligning himself with the policies of the [Israeli] occupier" regime.

The resistance movement is a leading force in the fight against Israel in Gaza Strip, which has waged three wars against the territory since 2007, killing thousands of Palestinians.

The last war began in early July 2014 and ended on August 26 the same year. It killed nearly 2,200 Palestinians and wounded over 11,100 others. The Gaza Strip has been under an Israeli siege since June 2007. The blockade has caused a decline in living standards as well as unprecedented unemployment and poverty in the coastal enclave.

The Palestinian resistance movement has ruled over the Israeli-blockaded Gaza sliver since 2006, when it scored a landslide victory in legislative polls.

Hamas officials' remarks came as the US president is visiting the occupied territories after concluding his two-day visit to Saudi Arabia on Sunday.

The US president on Monday visited the so-called Western Wall in the Old City of the occupied East Jerusalem al-Quds, becoming the first American president to make such a trip, a highly controversial move because the site is a lightning rod in ongoing confrontations between Palestinian worshipers and Jewish extremists and Trump's visit is likely to be seen as taking sides in the row.

Later in the day, Trump held talks with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and will also have a meeting on Tuesday with Palestinian President Mahmud Abbas.

Trump's visit to the occupied territories has faced a general strike carried out by Palestinians and activists both in the occupied West Bank and inside Israel, showing solidarity with over 1,500 Palestinian hunger strikers in Israeli prison.

They also expressed their opposition with the resumption of the so-called peace process between Israeli regime and the Palestinian Authority (PA). Clashes were also reported on Monday afternoon erupted between Israeli soldiers and Palestinian protesters. 

http://www.presstv.ir/Detail/2017/05/22/522854/Palestine-Hamas-Israel-Daesh-Mushir-alMasri-Netanyahu-Trump

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Al Qaeda militants killed in Special Forces raid in Yemen: US military

May 23, 2017

Seven militants were killed during an intelligence-gathering raid by US Special Forces troops against an al Qaeda compound in Yemen on Tuesday morning, US officials said. US Central Command said in a statement the al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) militants were killed “through a combination of small-arms fire and precision air strikes” in the Marib governorate, with the support of the Yemeni government.

“Raids such as this provide insight into AQAP’s disposition, capabilities and intentions, which will allow us to continue to pursue, disrupt, and degrade AQAP,” the statement said.

Two US officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, told Reuters separately that there were no known US casualties and the raid was carried out 40-45 km (25-30 miles) north of another US raid that took place in late January.

One of the US officials said there were no immediate reports of civilian casualties in the raid, which was carried out by US Special Forces troops.

The January operation, the first of its kind authorised by US President Donald Trump, was hailed as a success by the White House and other US officials.

However, critics questioned the value of the mission after a US Navy Seal was killed. Women and children, as well as several militants, were also killed in the raid.

The US military has carried out more than 80 strikes in Yemen against al Qaeda militants since February.

The group boasts one of the world’s most feared bomb makers, Ibrahim Hassan al-Asiri, and AQAP has been a persistent concern to the US government since a 2009 attempt to blow up a Detroit-bound airliner on Christmas Day.

Full report at:

http://indianexpress.com/article/world/al-qaeda-militants-killed-in-special-forces-raid-in-yemen-us-military-4669286/

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Iran remains on Trump’s nerves as he visits Jerusalem

May 23, 2017

JERUSALEM - US President Donald Trump visited Jerusalem and the Western Wall on Monday as he sought ways to achieve Israeli-Palestinian peace, but also used the opportunity to again lash out at Iran.

Trump became the first sitting US president to visit the Western Wall in the disputed city, placing his hand on one of the most sacred sites in Judaism in a highly symbolic move.

Trump’s visit is part of his first trip abroad as president and follows an initial stop in Saudi Arabia, where he urged Islamic leaders to confront extremism while also criticising Iran. It comes as he contends with a raft of problems back home, including a special counsel investigating whether his associates colluded with Russia.

Trump landed in Tel Aviv on Monday afternoon, welcomed by officials including Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as he walked along a red carpet ahead of a brief ceremony.

He later travelled by helicopter to Jerusalem and, in remarks at Israeli President Reuven Rivlin’s residence, launched another salvo against Iran.

“The United States and Israel can declare with one voice that Iran must never be allowed to possess a nuclear weapon — never ever — and must cease its deadly funding, training and equipping of terrorists and militias,” Trump said. “And it must cease immediately.”

When meeting Netanyahu, Trump said Iran should have thanked the United States for the 2015 nuclear accord between Tehran and world powers because it led to the lifting of sanctions.

“Instead of saying thank you to the United States, they now feel emboldened,” Trump said.

Security was extremely tight for the Israeli leg of the visit, with police deploying some 10,000 officers. The alleys and passageways of Jerusalem’s ancient Old City, which Trump visited later in the day, were essentially under lockdown.

Trump toured two iconic sites in Jerusalem, a city holy to Muslims, Christians and Jews. The first was the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, built at the site where Christians believe Jesus was crucified, buried and resurrected.

Afterwards, wearing a black skullcap, he made his symbolic visit to the Western Wall, placing what appeared to be a written prayer or note between its stones, as is custom. He was not accompanied by any Israeli leaders during the visit to the site in east Jerusalem.

Allowing them to do so could have led to accusations that Washington was implicitly recognising Israel’s unilateral claim of sovereignty over the site, which would break with years of US and international precedent.

The status of Jerusalem is ultra-sensitive and has been among the most difficult issues in Israeli-Palestinian peace talks. Israel occupied east Jerusalem and the West Bank in 1967 in moves never recognised by the international community.

It later annexed east Jerusalem and claims the entire city as its capital. The Palestinians see east Jerusalem as the capital of their future state.

Trump has spoken of reaching the “ultimate deal” — Israeli-Palestinian peace — brushing off years of failed attempts by his predecessors. Speaking just after his arrival, he said: “We have before us a rare opportunity to bring security and stability and peace to this region and to its people, defeating terrorism and creating a future of harmony, prosperity and peace.”

On Tuesday, Trump will meet Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas in Bethlehem in the West Bank, visit the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial in Jerusalem and give a speech at the Israel Museum. Any leader would face an enormous challenge in seeking to bring the Israelis and Palestinians together for meaningful talks, and Trump’s inexperience and domestic political struggles will only add to it.

He has spoken of his self-described deal-making prowess in vowing “we will get it done”. Trump has sent mixed signals about how he will approach the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

He cast uncertainty over years of international efforts to foster a two-state solution when he met Netanyahu at the White House in February.

At that meeting, he said he would support a single state if it led to peace, delighting Israeli right-wingers who want to see most of the West Bank annexed. At the same time, he urged Israel to hold back on settlement building in the West Bank, a longstanding concern of Palestinians and much of the world.

Trump advocated during his campaign breaking with decades of precedent and moving the American embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, deeply alarming Palestinians. He has since said the move was still being looked at.

Trump’s seeming openness to at least some of Abbas’s concerns has given Palestinians more reason for hope than many may have expected, but still reason to remain wary, some analysts say.

On the Israeli side, Netanyahu heads what is seen as the most right-wing government in the country’s history, and members of his coalition were elated with Trump’s election. Trump’s actions since have left them disappointed, with the embassy remaining in Tel Aviv — at least for now — and the White House seeking to restart peace efforts.

However, the United States remains Israel’s most important ally, providing it with more than $3 billion in defence aid annually. After Israel and the Palestinian territories, Trump will head to the Vatican along with Brussels and Italy for Nato and G7 meetings.

From page 1

for the 2015 nuclear accord between Tehran and world powers because it led to the lifting of sanctions.

“Instead of saying thank you to the United States, they now feel emboldened,” Trump said.

Security was extremely tight for the Israeli leg of the visit, with police deploying some 10,000 officers. The alleys and passageways of Jerusalem’s ancient Old City, which Trump visited later in the day, were essentially under lockdown.

Trump toured two iconic sites in Jerusalem, a city holy to Muslims, Christians and Jews. The first was the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, built at the site where Christians believe Jesus was crucified, buried and resurrected.

Afterwards, wearing a black skullcap, he made his symbolic visit to the Western Wall, placing what appeared to be a written prayer or note between its stones, as is custom. He was not accompanied by any Israeli leaders during the visit to the site in east Jerusalem.

Allowing them to do so could have led to accusations that Washington was implicitly recognising Israel’s unilateral claim of sovereignty over the site, which would break with years of US and international precedent.

The status of Jerusalem is ultra-sensitive and has been among the most difficult issues in Israeli-Palestinian peace talks. Israel occupied east Jerusalem and the West Bank in 1967 in moves never recognised by the international community.

It later annexed east Jerusalem and claims the entire city as its capital. The Palestinians see east Jerusalem as the capital of their future state.

Trump has spoken of reaching the “ultimate deal” — Israeli-Palestinian peace — brushing off years of failed attempts by his predecessors. Speaking just after his arrival, he said: “We have before us a rare opportunity to bring security and stability and peace to this region and to its people, defeating terrorism and creating a future of harmony, prosperity and peace.”

On Tuesday, Trump will meet Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas in Bethlehem in the West Bank, visit the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial in Jerusalem and give a speech at the Israel Museum. Any leader would face an enormous challenge in seeking to bring the Israelis and Palestinians together for meaningful talks, and Trump’s inexperience and domestic political struggles will only add to it.

He has spoken of his self-described deal-making prowess in vowing “we will get it done”. Trump has sent mixed signals about how he will approach the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

He cast uncertainty over years of international efforts to foster a two-state solution when he met Netanyahu at the White House in February.

At that meeting, he said he would support a single state if it led to peace, delighting Israeli right-wingers who want to see most of the West Bank annexed. At the same time, he urged Israel to hold back on settlement building in the West Bank, a longstanding concern of Palestinians and much of the world.

Trump advocated during his campaign breaking with decades of precedent and moving the American embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, deeply alarming Palestinians. He has since said the move was still being looked at.

Trump’s seeming openness to at least some of Abbas’s concerns has given Palestinians more reason for hope than many may have expected, but still reason to remain wary, some analysts say.

Full report at:

http://nation.com.pk/international/23-May-2017/iran-remains-on-trump-s-nerves-as-he-visits-jerusalem

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Tense trial opens of alleged Turkey coup ringleaders

May 23, 2017

SINCAN - More than 220 suspects, including over two dozen former generals, went on trial Monday accused of being among the ringleaders of last year’s attempted coup against Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Furious protesters outside the court demanded the death penalty and flung rope nooses at the defendants as they were marched into the building handcuffed and held by the security forces.

Turkey blames the failed July 15 putsch on US-based Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen, a claim he strongly denies, and has launched a relentless purge against those deemed to have backed the plot.

Gulen is among 12 of the 221 suspects in the current trial who remain at large. The remainder appeared in court for the first time inside a prison complex in Sincan outside Ankara.

The suspects were paraded into the building by heavily-armed security forces forming two columns in front of television cameras.

Dozens of protesters holding Turkish flags booed at the suspects, with placards saying: “For the martyrs and veterans of July 15, we want the death penalty.”

“We want the death penalty, we don’t want them to be fed and housed here. We want these traitors to be buried without any flag,” said protester Cengiz Ozturk.

Turkey abolished the death penalty as part of its drive to join the European Union but Erdogan has on occasion indicated it could be reimposed to deal with the coup plotters. Twenty-six generals are among those charged, including former air force chief Akin Ozturk and Mehmet Disli, the brother of senior ruling party lawmaker Saban Disli.

Also on trial are colonel Ali Yazici, Erdogan’s former military aide, and Lieutenant Colonel Levent Turkkan, who was the aide to Chief of Staff General Hulusi Akar. The most prominent figure among the suspects, Ozturk was dressed crisply in a black sweater and held a blue file as he was led into the court.

His appearance contrasted with the last known image of him which showed him bearing injuries including a bandaged ear after his capture two days after the coup bid. The first suspect to give his defence, Ozturk vehemently denied any link to the coup bid.  He described how he devoted his life to the Turkish military and said the charges were “unfair accusations”. “These accusations are for me the greatest punishment,” he told the court.

“The commanders who have fostered me, and my army friends, know well that I played no part in this treacherous coup attempt. In fact, I had no idea.”

In a tense start to the trial, relatives of coup victims shouted “martyrs don’t die, the motherland cannot be divided”, a refrain often used by the public and politicians in tribute to those killed during the putsch. A mother of one of those killed yelled at the suspects before she was taken away by force.

The case is being heard in Turkey’s largest courtroom, which was purpose-built to hear trials related to the coup, and has space for 1,558 people.

There was heavy security in place, with a drone flying overhead and armoured security vehicles on site as well as snipers on the roof. Almost 40 of those on trial are accused of being part of the “Peace At Home Council”, the name the plotters are said to have given themselves on the night of the failed coup.

The charges against them include “violating the constitution”, “using coercion and violence in an attempt to overthrow” the parliament and the Turkish government, “martyring 250 citizens” and “attempting to kill 2,735 citizens”, Hurriyet daily reported on Sunday.

Full report at:

http://nation.com.pk/international/23-May-2017/tense-trial-opens-of-alleged-turkey-coup-ringleaders

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King Salman orders a supply of drug trucks to battle cholera epidemic in Yemen

23 May 2017

Saudi Arabia has launched a massive relief campaign against the cholera epidemic in Yemen. The aid supplied includes sending medicines to treat those infected and to slowdown the spread of the epidemic.

The King Salman Center for Relief and Humanitarian Action sent 25 trucks carrying 550 tons of medicines to Yemen.

The World Health Organization (WHO) said the number of cholera deaths rose to 315 in three weeks, while another 30,000 are expected to carry the infection.

The King Salman Center for Relief and Humanitarian Action has an ongoing contact with the rest of the GCC countries, through the GCC Aid Coordination Office, as well as the rest of the Arab coalition countries to implement urgent programs and develop a plan to contain the epidemic and to protect the Yemeni people from the risks and consequences.

Full report at:

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2017/05/23/King-Salman-orders-a-supply-of-drug-trucks-to-battle-cholera-epidemic-in-Yemen.html

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Trump administration wavers on whether ‘Western Wall a part of Israel’

22 May 2017

As President Donald Trump became the first sitting US president to visit the hallowed Western Wall on Monday, it remained unclear whether his administration was changing longstanding US policy by declaring the wall’s location to be Israel, versus Jerusalem.

Heading to Israel on the second stop in the president’s nine-day tour of the Middle East and Europe, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson addressed questions over whether the administration is considering a change in policy, after top officials offered conflicting views.

“The wall is part of Jerusalem,” he said, declaring an undeniable fact accepted by all sides. He didn’t elaborate on the more delicate question: whether the administration would change US policy over the status of Jerusalem.

The president arrived at the wall Monday afternoon, donning a yarmulke, as is the tradition at Jewish holy sites. His wife, Melania, daughter Ivanka and son-in-law, Jared Kushner, accompanied him. Ivanka Trump converted to Judaism to marry Kushner, an orthodox Jew.

Trump pressed his right hand against the wall and closed his eyes, seemingly in prayer. He called it a “great honor” to be the first sitting president to visit the holy site.

Full report at:

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2017/05/22/Trump-administration-wavers-on-whether-Western-Wall-is-part-of-Israel.html

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UN envoy for Yemen hopes for ceasefire before Ramadan begins

22 May 2017

UN envoy for Yemen Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed will head to Sanaa soon to meet with the rebels and discuss the possibility of a ceasefire before the holy month of Ramadan begins and the possibility of resuming consultations next month between the warring parties in Kuwait or Geneva.

Meanwhile, the Houthis launched new campaigns criticizing the UN envoy. Houthi leader Saleh al-Sammad, the chief of the rebels’ political council, slammed the envoy and said he was “not neutral.”

“He does not have any news ideas and the only solutions he has are dictated by the coalition countries,” Sammad added.

Sammad also said that the UN envoy requested to visit Sanaa, adding that the rebels’ government is now looking into this request.

Full report at:

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/gulf/2017/05/22/UN-envoy-for-Yemen-to-head-to-Sanaa-for-ceasefire-talks.html

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South Asia

 

Bangladesh: Is recognising Qawmi Madrasas mainstreaming or appeasement?

Sarwar Jahan Chowdhury

May 23, 2017

Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has recently declared that the "Dawra-e-Hadith" degree of the Qawmi Madrasas (Islamic seminary) of Bangladesh will be recognised as a master degree on Islamic Studies and Arabic.

An education ministry gazette followed, detailing the procedures. Her declaration has stirred considerable controversy in Bangladesh. The government and its supporters maintain that it’s important to mainstream the Qawmi education. Critics argue that this formal recognition is far from ideal. This step was recommended to the prime minister by the ministry of education following a meeting with Qawmi Madrasa Education Board members and the leaders of the orthodox outfit Hefazat-i-Islami, suspectedly after getting a political nod for it.

As per the understanding, the Qawmi Madrasa education board, which itself is still unrecognised by the government, has constituted an examination board to conduct exams of "Dawra-e-Hadith" degree which is to be recognised as a post-graduate one. The chairman of the examination board is Shah Ahmed Shafi, the main leader of Hefazat-i-Islami. The government will have no supervisory power over the exams and related procedures. The examination board’s decision will be final. This has been acceded to fulfill the demands made by Hefazat-i-Islami leaders and the board members. This examination board will not even allow any representative from the government either - such a high price to be paid just to bring into fold, if it is at all, a segment until recently considered an unimportant fringe one.

There are about 14,000 Qawmi Madrasas in Bangladesh which have about 1.4 million students at any given point of time

However, there are about 14,000 Qawmi Madrasas in Bangladesh which have about 1.4 million students at any given point of time. These figures are quite big actually, despite their erstwhile fringe status. Often there are criticisms about the curricula and pedagogical methods applied in these madrasas. Also, under criticism is the religious orthodoxy they preach, which is suspected as one of the key reasons for pushing many poor youths into Islamic radicalisation. These Qawmi madrasas, by and large, follow the teachings of their traditional ideological hub – Darul Ulum of Deoband, India.

There is another type of madrasa though. Aliyah Madrasas have been recognised by the government since the British period. They are historically of Calcutta Aliyah Madrasa tradition, and follow curricula very close to modern education. The curricula includes Bangla, English, science, mathematics, social science, religious education, et cetera. In addition, there is normally one or two additional Arabic or Islamic subjects. There is a Govevernment Madrasa Education Board in Bangladesh and it regulates the Aliyah Madrassas.

On the other hand, the main focus for the Qawmi Madrasa education is faith-based religious subjects like the Quran, Hadith, Islamic jurisprudence, Islamic theology, Islamic philosophy, Islamic social customs, Islamic economy, et cetera. Also, some subjects historically specific to sub-continental Muslims, like Arabic, Farsi and Urdu. There is hardly any relevance of Farsi and Urdu in present day Bangladesh, which is out-rightly dominated by Bangla and English. Also, all the Islamic subjects have no connection to modern living or modern, public or occupational life. Of late, being under continuous criticism from the enlightened quarters, the Qawmi Madrasas have included a little bit of Bangla, English, science, and mathematics, but their proportion in the wider curriculums is still marginal. These are more like subsidiary subjects in their syllabus rather than main subjects, and that too leaving aside important other subjects like history and social science.

The most worrying aspects of the Qawmi education are their rejection of modernity as a whole, including modern education, and their employment of vigorous indoctrination techniques rather than methodical pedagogy

The most worrying aspects of the Qawmi education are their rejection of modernity as a whole, including modern education, and their employment of vigorous indoctrination techniques rather than methodical pedagogy. This has led to many of the students becoming terrorists. A number of the homegrown terrorists and killers of rationalist bloggers had Qawmi Madrasa backgrounds. Furthermore, the mobilisation capacity of the socio-political outfits related to Qawmi education has become worrying. They were able to mobilise several hundred thousand, mostly young Qawmi Madrasa students, from across Bangladesh in the centre of Dhaka in 2013 as a reaction to blogs by secular bloggers criticising orthodox Islam.

There is nothing called universal freedom of expression to the Ulemas, and students of Qawmi Madrasas and if they get a chance, they meddle with other people’s affairs, public policy and state affairs. Their worldview is the highly conservative early Islamic one, which interprets the Quran literally. They reject modern liberal ideas, inventions, artistic creativity and believe only in the supremacy of Islam, which they take it upon themselves to spread. They have very little regard for objective knowledge, other faiths or opinions, and cultures, and they consider all non-Muslims to be infidels.

If mainstreaming the Qawmis is the aim, then the question is: What sort of mainstreaming is this? This programme under question is more like religious teachings rather than any standard modern Islamic studies. By approving this as a degree, isn’t the government also tacitly approving its contents and the way they teach? Some people close to the government argue that, it’s just one degree; the other Qawmi degrees aren’t recognised implicitly, assuring the liberals that it will have minimal effect on Bangladesh’s education system. But, when the junior certifications haven’t been recognised yet, how can the senior degree of a student of the same stream be valid in isolation? Or it’s just the opening of Pandora’s box, and more demands for recognition and fulfillment of the same to be followed? Once a principle has been set by recognising one, what grounds is the authority left with to deny the others?

Many suspect that the government is rather appeasing the Islamists who are willing to side partially swith the government and play the role of a semi-domesticated, de facto opposition

The students coming out of this Qawmi system will hardly be equivalent to mainstream students, and very unlikely to be able to compete with the former for regular jobs. Essentially, this officially accepts and validates an education system that is archaic, regressive. It may encourage orthodox Islamists to set up more such seminaries, to further spread this form of education.

Many suspect that the government is rather appeasing the Islamists who are willing to side partially swith the government and play the role of a semi-domesticated, de facto opposition, especially at a time when the government has sidelined the erstwhile main opposition BNP and their Islamist ally who are also controversial in many ways. Hence, the whole matter, given its timing, seems more like a political act rather than an educational reform move.

But the fact is it strengthens the hands of another more regressive category of Islamists. Will the, officially secular, Awami League government be able to control the potentially adverse fallouts of this playing with fire - even after watching the Pakistan example? Bangladeshi polity appears to be passing a complex transitional phase.

What’s on the other side of the tunnel is anybody’s guess.

https://www.wionews.com/south-asia/bangladesh-is-recognising-qawmi-madrasas-mainstreaming-or-appeasement-15890

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5 ISIS militants killed, 6 wounded in Afghan forces operations in Nangarhar

May 23 2017

At least five ISIS militants were killed and six others were wounded during the operations of the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces in eastern Nangarhar province of Afghanistan.

According to local government officials, the operations were conducted in Chaparhar district as part of the clearance operations being conducted in this province to eliminate the fighters of the terrorist group.

The officials further added that several areas in Nangarhar province have been cleared of ISIS presence since the operations were launched several days ago.

Nangarhar is among the relatively calm provinces in eastern Afghanistan but the anti-government armed militant groups have recently increased their insurgency activities in some parts of the province during the recent years.

Both the Afghan and US forces conducted regular strikes against the loyalists of the terror group in this province.

Full report at:

http://www.khaama.com/5-isis-militants-killed-6-wounded-in-afghan-forces-operations-in-nangarhar-02808

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Mayor Khokon: Stern actions for violating holiness of Ramadan

May 23, 2017

A special drive will be conducted in the city corporation area during Ramadan to check food adulteration in restaurants'

Dhaka South City Corporation (DSCC) Mayor Mohammad Sayeed Khokon said stern actions will be taken against people who will violate the holiness of Ramadan.

He made the statement on Monday after a views-exchange meeting with the owners of hotels, clubs and bars at DSCC auditorium. Fruit traders, imams of the city mosques and social activists were also present at the meeting.

“Those who will be involved in violating the sanctity of Ramadan will have to undergo a punishment and if any influential or well-known person of the society is found in any unpleasant situation during the drive, the City Corporation will not take the responsibility of that person,” said Khokon.

Full report at:

http://www.dhakatribune.com/bangladesh/dhaka/2017/05/23/mayor-khokon-stern-actions-violating-holiness-ramadan/

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Conflicting reports regarding Afghan police casualties in Helmand

May 22 2017

The Afghan police forces have suffered casualties in an attack in southern Helmand province of Afghanistan amid conflicting reports that the policemen were killed in an insider attack.

Provincial police chief Aqa Noor Kintoz confirmed an attack took place in a check post on a highway in Sangin district.

He said at least three policemen lost their lives in the attack and three others were wounded.

In the meantime, another security official said at least eight policemen were killed in the attack which was carried out by one of the colleagues of the policemen.

The official further added that the assailant has managed to flee the area taking several weapons with him to join the Taliban insurgents.

Helmand is among the volatile provinces in southern Afghanistan where the Taliban insurgents are actively operating in its various districts and often carryout insurgency activities.

This comes as at least five policemen were killed in an insider attack in eastern Nangarhar province of Afghanistan late on Thursday night.

Full report at:

http://www.khaama.com/conflicting-reports-regarding-afghan-police-casualties-in-helmand-02805

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URL: http://www.newageislam.com/islamic-world-news/new-age-islam-news-bureau/manchester-arena--police-arrest-23-year-old-man-in-connection-with-bombing-that-killed-22/d/111254

 

 

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