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Islamic World News ( 1 Apr 2012, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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Mauritian Imam Solemnizes Muslim Gay Marriage

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

UK Muslim man sacked from job over beard

‘Saudi women have to play a role in military industries’: Princess Hessa bint Salman

Ban on full-face veils instituted in Afghanistan

Lifting the veil on Afghanistan's female addicts

Islamist Group Plants Flag in Mali's Timbuktu

US aim to empower more Muslim women

British Muslims must step outside this anti-war comfort zone

Muslim Sisters Club at TRU spreads understanding and tolerance

Bangladesh a role model in battling poverty

Pakistan: Hindu children allowed living wherever they want

Pakistani boy who burned himself over uniform dies

Beijing's enemies are Islamabad's enemies: Pakistan PM

Libya: 147 killed in 6 days of tribal clashes in remote desert town in south

Britain: New uniforms help Muslim girl Scouts to be better prepared

Need to bolster Saudi-India relations stressed

Violence Tears Syria despite Ceasefire Pledge

Christian Council condemns Saudi cleric's call for destruction of Churches

Annan to brief UN Security Council on Syria peace plan

Pak court sentences Osama bin Laden's wives, daughters to 45 days in prison

Ansar Burney asks Pak govt to free three Indian prisoners

Pak Taliban introduces moral policing in parts of Afghanistan

Afghan refugees to be repatriated by year-end: UNHCR

Clashes in Syria kill 40 people: Monitoring agency

Taliban militants attack border posts, kill 4 soldiers

Acid attack: Petitioners ask court to try Fakhra Younus case again

Pak Brig boycotts court martial proceedings

Firing incidents in Karachi claim five lives, many injured

Blast in Nigeria kills bomber

Twin blasts at Afghan market wound 18

Palestinian hunger striker Hana Shalabi exiled to Gaza

Stress and gripes, not Taliban, drive Afghan insider attacks – NATO

Iran vows to stick to nuclear 'path'

US will hold Egypt politicians 'accountable': Hillary Clinton

US announces $12 million humanitarian aid for Syria

Russian veto fueled Syria carnage: Saudi Arabia

Syrian rebel fighters 'to get salaries'

Iraq says death toll for March lowest since 2003 invasion

LeT militant arrested in J-K car blast case

Complied by New Age Islam News Bureau

Photo: UK Muslim man sacked from job over beard

URL: http://newageislam.com/islamic-world-news/new-age-islam-news-bureau/mauritian-imam-solemnizes-muslim-gay-marriage/d/6969

 

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Mauritian Imam Solemnizes Muslim Gay Marriage

April 2nd, 2012

While launching his book in Paris, Ludovic Mohamed Zahed took the opportunity to talk to France 24 about his marriage to another Muslim man. Ludovic recalled his trials and tribulations, including the problems he faced with his family and the Arab community.

It’s a love story like no other, daring to 'marry' many taboos in one bag: homosexuality, AIDS, Islam. This male love affair was born in South Africa, and blossomed in the suburbs of Paris. Two Muslim men married according to Islamic Sharia, in the presence of a Mauritian Imam called Jamal who blessed their matrimony. This is the scandalizing tale of Ludovic Mohamed Zahed and his partner, now husband, Qiyam Al Din that has provoked the international Muslim world. The former, a Frenchman with Algerian origins, the latter a South African Muslim man. The two met in 2011, while their Muslim brothers were raising hell against their Arab oppressive regimes, in South Africa during a convention about AIDS. Since then, they have been inseparable.

Ludovic looks back fondly at the moment he first met his lover Qiyam Al Din, “I was in the lecture hall when an Imam who incidentally is a homosexual himself, introduced me to Qiyam Al Din. We discovered we had a lot in common and a mutual admiration was cemented. I stayed on after the convention for two months, deciding to get married, since South African laws were more same sex couple-friendly. South Africa allows same sex marriage, and allows same sex couples to adopt."

After the wedding that was organized by Qiyam’s family, the couple decided to return to France and settle down in a Parisian suburb, hoping that the French government would recognize the legality of the marriage. France, not always the friendliest of states to Islam, did not cooperate. The authorities refused to register their marriage, leaving Ludovic for now counting on a win for his chosen social party’s presidential candidate on May 6th, to rectify the situation. Ludovic did, nontheless, receive the blessings of his family, who reside in Marseille and attended on the day. He admitted that he faces more obstacles with French law than Muslim approbrium.

Pending legal settlement, Ludovic decided to make his wedding a family affair, with his trusted Mauritian Imam in tow. He read the Fatiha and blessed the marriage. The ceremony, held on the 12th of February 2012, in a modest house in Servon on the ouskirts of Paris, was attended by Ludovic’s parents and select close friends.

I still receive threats through calls or the internet

The beauty of his wedding could not block out the torrents of hate mail and animosity from the conservative Muslim community. According to Ludovic, the wedding was intimate and beautiful, with music, dancing and singing. “ Being married in front of my family, was like a new start of life for me, I could have never imagined such a day would come, seeing the joy in my parents’ eyes after they had battled with my sexuality and tried with all their might to change the course of my sexual inclinations so as to be like other men.”

Ludovic elaborated in this exclusive expose: “Unfortunately I cannot change myself. I have felt that I was a homosexual since I was young. I liked, even loved, the Imam who taught me the Quran in Algeria back in 1995, despite all the threats from my family and the social pressure from Arab society whether in France or in Algeria, I have not changed”.

Even HIV couldn't tear them apart

Ludovic’s own biograhpy has not been devoid of tragic circumstances. He has not had an easy ride, but faced a journey ridden with challenges. He contracted AIDS at the tender age of 19. What made matters worse was his strained relationship with his family because of his sexual orientation. Ludovic says, “My family was very harsh with me at the beginning, I was beaten by my older brother, who could not tolerate that I was gay, he disowned me and refused to talk to me for several years. As for my mother, she would cry every day from despair and shame.”

Rather than despairing, found his salvation in faith: “I turned to worship and prayer to resist the situation,  I became religious, and I performed Omarah then Hajj twice, seeking a simpler, normal life. Despite the threats that I get by phone or from the internet, as well as, my struggle with the negative views that I get from Arabs and Muslims alike, today I feel more comfortable in my own skin."

As for his future, Ludovic says that the absolute priority is to get a legal permit for his new spouse, Qiyam Al Din, to stay and work in France.  Ludovic himself wants to pursue his doctoral studies in Islam and Homosexuality. He is already a published author of two books, the first one is about AIDS, and the second is about the Holy Quran and sex. He runs an organization that tackles with issues relating to Islam and homosexuality.

Against all odds: together

The newly-wed couple does not intend to travel to any Arab or Muslim country in fear of being tortured or mistreated. “We want to stay in France, because my husband Qiyam Al Din likes this country a lot. However, if it becomes impossible for him to stay, we will return to South Africa to live”.

http://m.albawaba.com/en/node/419446

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UK Muslim man sacked from job over beard

Apr 2, 2012

A Muslim man from Croydon has fallen victim to Britain’s rising Islamophobia, as he has been sacked on the first day of his new job at a phone shop because of his beard.

Shahid Saleem who has a beard due to his religious beliefs is now taking legal action after the discrimination he faced at Vodafone shop in Sutton High Street, London.

Saleem had an appointment with the store manager on September 9, 2011 after being placed there by the recruitment agency, Adecco. But he was told that he could not work at the store because of his beard.

The 21-year-old then asked the manager to see the dress code to check whether Vodafone had an official policy through which the employees should be clean shaven. But his request was refused and was instead escorted to the exit door and told to talk to his job agency.

"Throughout the whole time [the store manager] was talking to me, he spoke to me condescendingly in public in front of a Vodafone employee, which completely demoralized and upset me as well as causing me distress,” Saleem said.

"What [the store manager] did was blatant discrimination, and discrimination in this country is illegal, especially in regards to the work place."

Vodafone then probed Saleem’s complaint and sent him an apology, claiming the manager thought Saleem’s appearance was "rather scruffy and not business appropriate" but confirming he should not discuss about Saleem’s beard.

The store manager was then asked to join a training course to help him comprehend more about the diversity and the company’s policies.

http://www.presstv.ir/detail/233815.html

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‘Saudi women have to play a role in military industries’: Princess Hessa bint Salman

 Apr 2, 2012

Princess Hessa bint Salman underscored the significance of various government and private organizations in fulfilling their social responsibility by ensuring the participation of women in the development of national industries.

She also highlighted the participation of government sectors in boosting the industrial role played by the Technical and Vocational Training Corporation (TVTC) for girls.

Princess Hessa was attending a ceremony where an agreement to establish the women’s wing of the Military Clothes and Supplies Factory in the western region was signed. The agreement was signed between TVTC and the Ministry of Defense, which is represented by the Military Industries Organization.

Speaking on the occasion, Munira Al-Aloula, deputy governor of TVTC for Girls, thanked Princess Hessa for agreeing to serve as honorary chairperson of the new factory project, which will be built on an area covering 1,200 square meters.

Princess Hessa said: “This honorary chairmanship will increase awareness of my responsibility to become a servant of this nation.”

The princess noted Saudi women have to play a key role in the Kingdom’s industrial growth. She stressed the society should realize a man or woman with innovative ideas and vocational skills has as much importance as that of an academic.

“No civilization will flourish without industries. The new project will support the nation, and the entry of women to this sector is good news as they are partners of men,” she said.

Princess Hessa underlined the need for strengthening cooperation between various sectors such as the ministries of health and social affairs as well as the Saudi Commission for Tourism & Antiquities (SCTA) in activating their social responsibility role by ensuring the participation of women in the Kingdom’s industrial growth.

She noted the initiative for starting the women’s section of the Military Clothes and Supplies Factory was first mooted by TVTC Governor Ali Al-Ghafis during the time of the late Crown Prince Sultan, who was also minister of defense. “The project later received support from Minister of Defense Prince Salman and accordingly the agreement was signed. Now, we are reaping its fruits under the supervision of TVTC Deputy Governor Munira Al-Aloula,” she said.

While commending the robust industrial growth in the Kingdom, Princess Hessa said: “We have now entered a new phase where men and women work at the same time. Women are capable of doing industrial work in compliance with our religious traditions and customs,” she said, while noting there are several women who have the capacity and skills to perform such duties that were not evident earlier.

During a video presentation about the activities of the new factory project, it was disclosed that the initiative, which would have nine production lines, would be managed fully by Saudi women. These include the production of underclothes, berets, office uniforms, military jackets and pants.

http://arabnews.com/saudiarabia/article603249.ece

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Ban on full-face veils instituted in Afghanistan

 Bea_Shaylee_Sayers

Apr 2, 2012

In a sudden and shocking move, Afghanistan’s President Hamid Karzai has authorized a ban on wearing full veils in public places. This revolutionary action makes Afghanistan the first Islamic country to impose restrictions on a form of attire that many Muslims consider a religious obligation.

President Hamid Karzai has been widely criticized for doing little to protect women's rights in the country and end traditional practices like giving away daughters to settle family scores, forced and under-age marriages, requirement for husband’s permission to work, and violent abuse by husbands and close relatives, including denial of food and sustenance if wives refuse to obey their husbands' sexual demands.

The criticism has recently intensified when the Human Rights Watch released a report, which revealed that nearly half of all women in Afghan prisons are being held for "moral crimes" such as running away from home or adultery and that Afghanistan is “the only country in the world that interprets sharia law to prohibit women from running away from their home without permission.”

This extensive worldwide outburst of criticism forced President Karzai to exploit more radical options to improve his poor record on women’s rights. Beginning April 1, 2012, women won’t be allowed to wear niqabs and burkas, cloths fully covering the face and body, respectively, on Mondays, liable to a 20-year imprisonment or stoning.

The new law, that follows France’s ban on wearing full veils in public places in 2011, is an experimental effort and, according to Karzai, “It was more reasonable and feasible to limit it to just one day a week.” The President expects vicious and violent opposition to his new decree and will extend the full veils ban gradually to more days a week only when able to manage anticipated brutal resistance to the new law.

Human Rights Watch was fast to respond to Karzai’s highly unexpected decree and, while they’re “simply in awe of the President Karzai’s extremely bald move”, they expressed concern about the very likely possibility that women will be persecuted even more with the implementation of this new law.

“I’m deeply worried that, on one hand, women will be jailed and prosecuted by wearing burkas on Mondays and, on the other hand, brutally beaten by their husbands when trying to obey the new law and discard their traditional clothing on this one day,” said Rights Watch’s executive director, Kenneth Roth.

Roth is also extremely troubled by the severity of punishment for women not obeying the new law. “We’ve been committed to fighting against stoning and saving its victims, and we can’t support this form of punishment as it’s the violation of human rights. We’d like to encourage President Karzai to modify the new decree and employ less severe penalties like a small fine, for example.”

Time will show whether Karzai’s bald and rather revolutionary move is the right approach to fight separatist tendencies among Muslims and improve women’s social rights in Afghanistan. It may not change anything and simply force women to stay at home on Mondays enjoying the long weekend every week - if there's such a thing as "enjoying the weekend" for Afghan women.

http://www.allvoices.com/contributed-news/11837160-breaking-news-ban-on-fullface-veils-instituted-in-afghanistan

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Lifting the veil on Afghanistan's female addicts

Apr 02 2012

Kabul : Anita lifted the sky-blue burqa from her face, revealing glazed eyes and cracked lips from years of smoking opium, and touched her saggy belly, still round from giving birth to her seventh child a month ago.

"I can't give breast milk to my baby," said the 32-year-old Anita, who like other women interviewed for this story, declined to give her full name. "I'm scared he'll get addicted

She was huddled with other women at the UN-funded Nejat drug rehabilitation center in the old quarter of Kabul, having sneaked out of her home to avoid being stopped by her husband from going outside alone.

With little funding and no access to substitution drugs such as methadone, treatment is rudimentary at Nejat for a problem that is growing in a dirt-poor country riven by conflicts for more than three decades.

Afghanistan is the source for more than 90 per cent of the world's opium, which is used to make heroin, and more of it is being grown than ever before.

While it is not uncommon to see men shooting up along the banks of the dried up Kabul riverbed in broad daylight, women in the ultra-conservative culture of Muslim Afghanistan are expected to stay out of public view for the most part. They often have to seek permission from a male relative or husband to leave their home, and when they do they are encased in the head-to-toe burqa.

Full report at:

http://www.indianexpress.com/news/lifting-the-veil-on-afghanistans-female-addicts/931545/

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Islamist Group Plants Flag in Mali's Timbuktu

April 02, 2012

BAMAKO, Mali (AP) — Residents said on Monday that the ominous black flag of an Islamist rebel faction is now flying over Mali's fabled city of Timbuktu, which over the weekend became the last major government stronghold in the country's north to fall to the rebel advance.

The news is a worrying development for Mali, where Tuareg rebels took advantage of chaos sparked by a coup in the distant capital of Bamako late last month to claim the three largest northern towns, including Timbuktu.

Early Monday, a member of the military who requested anonymity because of the sensitivity of the matter said that he saw a 10-car convoy carrying the rebel Ansar Dine enter the ancient city, located over 1,000 kilometers (600 miles) from Bamako. They drove to the Cheikh Fort Sidi Elbakaye military camp in Timbuktu, where they planted their black flag.

Full report at:

http://www.nytimes.com/aponline/2012/04/02/world/africa/ap-af-mali-coup.html?_r=1&ref=global-home

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US aims to empower more Muslim women

Gillian Duncan

Apr 2, 2012    

Women have traditionally been underrepresented in science, technology, engineering and mathematics fields. But a new initiative by the US government aims to encourage more females from Muslim-majority countries to study the topics at an undergraduate level at women's colleges in that country. Women in the programme will pair up with a "sister" from the US and receive additional support from a mentor. Sandra Laney of the NeXXt Scholars Initiative, and a senior adviser at the office of the science and technology in the US, speaks about it here.

What is the NeXXt Scholars Initiative, and why does "NeXXt" have a double "x"?

[We want] to reach an underserved population of women whose families may not be comfortable ... sending their daughters to co-ed institutions, and to get the idea out that we have 49 women's colleges in the United States. This might be an opportunity to reach this population of women, and their families might be more supportive of letting them get that high-quality education, which is really important in the stem [science, technology, engineering and maths] field. The double "x" stands for the chromosomes of women.

Full report at:

http://www.thenational.ae/thenationalconversation/industry-insights/the-life/us-aims-to-empower-more-muslim-women

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British Muslims must step outside this anti-war comfort zone

Mehdi Hasan

2 April 2012

British Muslims have too long defined politics by the Middle East. We have an obligation to engage with the national debate

It was the Muslims wot won it. To pretend otherwise is naive if not disingenuous. George Galloway could not have triumphed in the Bradford West byelection, with the biggest swing in modern British political history, had it not been for the loud, passionate and overwhelming support of the constituency's big Muslim population. "All praise to Allah!" the new Respect party MP gratefully proclaimed, via loudspeaker, to his supporters on Saturday.

The British Muslim community has had a tortured relationship with politicians in recent years. That it has become a cliche to say that young British Muslims are alienated, estranged and marginalised from the political process doesn't make it any less true. Muslims are woefully under-represented in public life: the number of Muslim MPs, for instance, stands at eight out of 650.

Full report at:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2012/apr/02/muslims-step-outside-antiwar-comfort-zone?newsfeed=true

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Muslim Sisters Club at TRU spreads understanding and tolerance

2 April 2012

They are eager to inform, educate and teach people about their beliefs.

They choose to follow their religion just like anyone else, with the strength of their faith and the conviction of their spirits.

And while Muslim women studying at Thompson Rivers University are almost always met with respect and efforts at understanding, every once in a while they encounter someone who has fallen for stereotype over fact.

Like the English as a second language teacher encountered by Lamyaa Alshenrifi, who said Muslim women are rude for not shaking hands. Alshenrifi didn't have enough English to explain that in her culture, women can shake hands with other women, but not with men who are not family.

And the instructor wouldn't allow her the time to tell her side.

"If the teacher could give us the time to explain, and be respectfull . . . " she said.

May Almohanna picked up her thought.

"When you face that kind of situation, it really hurts. Because you really love your religion," she said.

Full report at:

http://www.kamloopsnews.ca/article/20120402/KAMLOOPS0107/120339955/-1/kamloops01/muslim-sisters-club-at-tru-spreads-understanding-and-tolerance

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Bangladesh a role model in battling poverty

Apr 2, 2012

DHAKA: Bangladesh is a role model for the least developing countries (LDCs) in reducing poverty through increased global trade under the rules of the multilateral forum, World Trade Organisation, its Director General Pascal Lamy said on Saturday.

He particularly mentioned the growth of Bangladesh’s readymade garment, which created more than three million jobs, and enhanced growth of the pharmaceutical industry.

The future challenge, however, is extending the progress to other sectors so that economic shocks like the one the world has experienced do not negatively affect Bangladesh’s trade and development outlook, he said.

Lamy was the convocation speaker of Dhaka University’s 46th convocation ceremony held at the university’s playground. The university conferred him honorary Doctor of Laws degree.

Full report at:

http://www.dawn.com/2012/04/02/bangladesh-a-role-model-in-battling-poverty.html

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Pakistan: Hindu children allowed to live wherever they want

Apr 2, 2012

UMERKOT, March 31: A court has allowed four Hindu children whose parents converted to Islam five years ago to “go wherever they want” after concluding that they do not want to live with the parents.

The children — Narain (10), Sarwan (five), Sahibi (12) and Premi (seven) — were produced in the court of Additional District and Sessions Judge, Umerkot, by police on Friday in compliance with an earlier order.

They accused the police of torturing them.

The judge gave the decision after Rukhsana, the mother, submitted an application to the District and Sessions Judge seeking a decree requiring the grandparents to let the children live with their parents.

The court transferred the case to the Additional District and Sessions Judge, who ordered Kunri police to produce the children in court.

http://www.dawn.com/2012/04/01/hindu-children-allowed-to-live-wherever-they-want.html

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Pakistani boy who burned himself over uniform dies

Apr 02 2012

Peshawar: Like many in Pakistan, 13-year-old Kamran Khan's family did not have enough money to send him to school. He was such a promising student that a local private school allowed him to attend for free, according to his older brother.

Kamran never asked for anything, his brother Saleem Khan said. But last month, he pleaded with his mother for days to buy him a new school uniform, a white shalwar kameez, the loose-fitting shirt and pants worn by both men and women in Pakistan. He was embarrassed that his old one was worn out and patched up.

His mother sympathized with him but repeatedly told him the family didn't have the money. She finally lost her patience a week ago and slapped the boy, according to the brother's account. The youth responded by threatening to kill himself if his parents could not buy him the uniform.

Full report at:

http://www.indianexpress.com/news/pakistani-boy-who-burned-himself-over-uniform-dies/931531/

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Beijing's enemies are Islamabad's enemies: Pakistan PM

April 02, 2012

Days before President Asif Ali Zardari is expected to visit New Delhi, Pakistan have reiterated its all-weather friendship with China declaring that Beijing's enemies were Islamabad's enemies as well. Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani, in China to attend an economic forum, said at a

meeting with Vice-Premier Le Keqiang that "China's friend is our friend and China's enemy is our enemy."

Gilani was meeting Li - who is most likely to replace Wen Jiabao as China's next Premier later this year - on the sidelines of the Boao Forum for Asia, which is underway Boao in Hainan, an island off the southern coast of China.

"We consider China's security as our own security," Gilani added. He also called for good ties with neighbouring countries including India.

Full report at:

http://www.hindustantimes.com/News-Feed/World/Beijing-s-enemies-are-Islamabad-s-enemies-Pakistan-PM/Article1-834355.aspx

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Libya: 147 killed in 6 days of tribal clashes in remote desert town in south

Apr 2, 2012

TRIPOLI, LIBYA: Six days of tribal clashes in a remote desert town in southern Libya have killed 147 people, the country's health minister said Saturday.

Fatma al-Hamroush said in a press conference in Tripoli that the fighting in Sabha has also left 395 wounded. Around 180 people have been transported to the capital Tripoli for emergency treatment, she said.

The clashes in the oasis region some 400 miles (650 kilometers) south of Tripoli show the fragile authority of the Libyan government, particularly in the isolated settlements that dot the southern desert.

With only a nascent national army and police force, Libya's ruling National Transitional Council relies on militias comprised of former rebels to keep the peace, and the country's vast distances makes it difficult to deploy them to trouble spots.

Deposed dictator Muammar Gaddafi's 40 years in power moreover left behind a patchwork of local rivalries. The Sabha fighting pits southern Libyan Arab tribes that reportedly had close connections to Gaddafi against the African Tabu tribe, which fought against him.

Full report at:

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/middle-east/Libya-147-killed-in-6-days-of-tribal-clashes-in-remote-desert-town-in-south/articleshow/12486809.cms

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Britain: New uniforms help Muslim girl Scouts to be better prepared

Apr 2, 2012

The Scouts have developed the first uniform for Muslim girls as the organisation seeks to attract children from different cultures.

One uniform, available from Friday, includes a “hoodie dress” to stop headscarves falling off and long-sleeves to protect a girl’s modesty that can be used for activities including abseiling and climbing.

Another T-shirt-style suitable for warmer weather is currently being finalised ready for the summer.

Both uniforms, created by Sarah Elenany, a British designer of Palestinian and Egyptian origin, are knee-length and feature a graphic inspired by the “adventure of Scouting”.

The four designs represent badges for canoeing, scuba-diving, windsurfing and camping.

Full report at:

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/religion/9173946/New-uniforms-help-Muslim-girl-Scouts-to-be-better-prepared.html

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Need to bolster Saudi-India relations stressed

 Apr 2, 2012

India's Minister of State for External Affairs E. Ahamed yesterday stressed the need to further bolster bilateral relations between India and Saudi Arabia. Addressing the concluding session of the Saudi-Indian Youth Forum here, the minister described Indo-Saudi relations as deep-rooted and based on strong and solid foundations.

The session was also attended by several senior Indian and Saudi officials, including Yousuf Al-Saadoun, undersecretary at the Saudi Foreign Ministry for economic and cultural affairs and head of the Saudi youth delegation, and Saudi Ambassador to India Saud bin Mohammed Al-Saty.

The 40-member delegation arrived in New Delhi on Wednesday on the last leg of a 10-day tour, which also took them to India’s IT hubs of Bangalore and Hyderabad.

In his speech, Ahamed highlighted the excellent relations between India and Saudi Arabia in various fields that dates back to centuries.

Full report at:

http://arabnews.com/saudiarabia/article603231.ece

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Violence Tears Syria despite Ceasefire Pledge

2 April 2012

BEIRUT (Reuters) - Syrian government forces bombarded opposition targets in the city of Homs on Monday despite President Bashar al-Assad's promise to international peace envoy Kofi Annan to cease fire and withdraw his tanks and artillery.

Annan, who met Assad in Damascus on March 10 to discuss his peace plan, was due to brief the U.N. Security Council in New York later on Monday on whether he had seen any progress towards its implementation.

"Today doesn't feel much different than yesterday or the day before, or the day before that," opposition activist Waleed Fares said from inside Homs. "Shelling and killing."

Full report at:

http://www.nytimes.com/reuters/2012/04/02/world/middleeast/02reuters-syria.html?ref=global-home

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Christian Council condemns Saudi cleric's call for destruction of Churches in West Asia

By Pervez Bari

Bhopal: The All India Christian Council, (AICC), has condemned the call by Saudi Arabia’s Grand Mufti, Sheikh Abdul Aziz bin Abdullah that it is “necessary to destroy all the churches of the region.”

Christian Council President Dr. Joseph D’ Souza in a Press statement said: "the Mufti’s controversial statement placed Christian churches throughout the Arabian peninsula in jeopardy and could have repercussions for religious minorities in other countries.

The AICC Secretary General Dr. John Dayal called upon the government of India and other civilised countries to use their good offices to ensure that the nations in the Arabian peninsula rebuffed the Wahabi Imam’s bigoted statement, and assured the safety and security of churches in the Yemen, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, Oman, and the United Arab Emirates. Christianity is already forbidden in Saudi Arabia which has no churches.

Full report at:

http://twocircles.net/2012mar31/christian_council_condemns_saudi_clerics_call_destruction_churches_west_asia.html

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Annan to brief UN Security Council on Syria peace plan

Apr 2, 2012

Violence is continuing in Syria as the UN and Arab League envoy, Kofi Annan, prepares to brief the Security Council on the progress of his peace plan.

Activists say at least three people have been killed in an army offensive in Idlib province, and there has been fresh fighting in the city of Homs.

There has also been an explosion in central Damascus, state media report.

On Sunday, Gulf Arab states agreed to pay the salaries and other costs of the rebel Free Syrian Army (FSA).

The money, which will be distributed through the opposition Syrian National Council, is the first formal international support for the FSA.

The decision was announced at a meeting in Istanbul of the "Friends of Syria" - a group of 83 countries backing political change.

'Timeline'

Full report at:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-17583662

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Pak court sentences Osama bin Laden's wives, daughters to 45 days in prison

Apr 2, 2012

ISLAMABAD: A Pakistani court on Monday sentenced Osama bin Laden's three widows and two of his daughters to 45 days detention for illegal residency and ordered their deportation as soon as possible.

Their lawyer Muhammad Aamir said the period of detention began on March 3, when they were formally arrested on charges of illegal entry and residency in Pakistan and that they would continue to be held at their villa in Islamabad.

"The interior secretary has been directed to arrange their deportation," Aamir told reporters outside the home in the capital, where the al-Qaida leader's widows are living and which officials have declared a "sub jail".

"I think it will be completed probably in two weeks," he added.

Zakarya Ahmad Abd al-Fattah, the Yemeni brother of bin Laden's youngest and reputedly favourite wife, Amal, confirmed the sentence and said the judge had also imposed a fine of 10,000 rupees ($110) each, as a precursor to repatriation.

"The court has also given direction to the government to arrange the necessary documents for their earliest repatriation, so that they can go to their own country as soon as possible," Fattah told reporters.

Bin Laden's two other wives are Saudi.

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/pakistan/Pak-court-sentences-bin-Ladens-wives-daughters-to-15-months-in-prison-Relative/articleshow/12504061.cms

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Ansar Burney asks Pak govt to free three Indian prisoners

Apr 2, 2012

Leading rights activist Ansar Burney has asked the Pakistan government to immediately free three Indian prisoners who had either completed their jail terms or whose release has been ordered by court.

Indian national Surjeet Singh alias Makhan Singh had completed his prison term on October 30, 2010 but he continues to be held in prison, Burney said in letters sent to President Asif Ali Zardari, Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani and the Chief Justice of Pakistan's Supreme Court.

Another Indian national, Parmar, has been detained in Lahore's Kot Lakhpat Jail unlawfully without any charges or conviction since 2006, Burney said.

Parmar, an architect, became depressed after his father died in 2005 and went missing from home.

He reportedly travelled by train from his home city of Mumbai to Amritsar and later crossed over to Lahore, where he was arrested in 2006, Burney said.

Another prisoner, Karale, was being held in Kot Lakhpat Jail though the Lahore High Court had issued an order for his release on November 3 last year, Burney said.

"Despite providing documents verifying his identity, Karale has been illegally held in prison for almost five months," he said.

Burney, who served as the Human Rights Minister in a caretaker government in 2007-08, urged President Zardari and Prime Minister Gilani to direct the Interior Ministry to immediately release these three Indian nationals.

"The greater interest of human dignity and justice demands that the President and Prime Minister should release all foreign prisoners who have completed their jail terms,

http://www.dnaindia.com/world/report_ansar-burney-asks-pak-govt-to-free-three-indian-prisoners_1670477

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Pak Taliban introduces moral policing in parts of Afghanistan

Apr 02 2012

Islamabad : The Pakistani Taliban have introduced "moral policing" in parts of northeastern Afghanistan in a bid to enforce their puritanical version of Islam, Afghan police officials have said.

Key leaders of the banned Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan – including its chieftains Maulana Fazlullah from Swat, Maulvi Faqir of Bajaur Agency and Abdul Wali of Mohmand Agency – and dozens of their fighters fled military operations in Pakistan and sought sanctuary in the Afghan provinces of Nuristan and Kunar.

They mounted sporadic cross-border attacks on Pakistani troops in Chitral and Dir districts of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa.

Now, they have introduced "moral policing" on the pattern of the Taliban-era "Department for the Preservation of Virtue and Prevention of Vice" in Kamdesh district of Nuristan.

Armed vigilantes of the Pakistani Taliban roam the streets to stop what they believe are "un-Islamic" activities.

Full report at:

http://www.indianexpress.com/news/pak-taliban-introduces-moral-policing-in-parts-of-afghanistan/931596/

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Afghan refugees to be repatriated by year-end: UNHCR

Apr 02 2012

ISLAMABAD: The United Nation High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) would complete the repatriation of Afghan refugees to their homeland by December, 2012.

Talking to APP, an official of the UNHCR said townships had been set up in nine Afghan provinces where the refugees would be settled.

To a question, he said the government of Pakistan will no longer be responsible for them after the due date.

The refugees are bound to strictly follow the directives of the government of Pakistan about their repatriation, said the official.

According to a recent report, Pakistan plays host to 1.7 million registered Afghan refugees out of which 386,000 children are of school-going age.

http://www.dawn.com/2012/04/02/afghan-refugees-to-be-repatriated-by-year-end-unhcr.html

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Clashes in Syria kill 40 people: Monitoring agency

Apr 2, 2012

BEIRUT: Violence in Syria killed at least 40 people on Sunday, among them 15 members of the security forces who died in firefights across the country, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

The violence came a day after the regime of President Bashar al-Assad declared that those seeking its ouster had been defeated and that it was now focused on stabilising the security situation nationwide.

The latest deaths come as dozens of representatives from Western and Arab countries met in Istanbul for talks aimed at pressuring Damascus to implement a peace plan by UN and Arab League envoy Kofi Annan to stop the bloodshed.

The heaviest fighting erupted in the town of Quriyeh in eastern Deir Ezzor province, killing five rebel fighters, four soldiers including an officer and a civilian, said the Britain-based Observatory.

A group of army deserters killed four other troops in an ambush on their convoy near the town of Jisr al-Shughur in northwestern Idlib province close to the border with Turkey, it said.

Full report at:

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/middle-east/Clashes-in-Syria-kill-40-people-Monitoring-agency/articleshow/12494531.cms

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Pakistan says Taliban militants coming from Afghanistan attack border posts, kill 4 soldiers

Apr 2, 2012

PESHAWAR, Pakistan — The Pakistani military says dozens of Taliban militants coming from Afghanistan attacked border posts in the northwest, killing four paramilitary soldiers.

The paramilitary Frontier Corps says Monday’s attack occurred in Olai, part of the Mohmand tribal area. It said soldiers retaliated, killing 15 militants.

The military said the attacking force included around 60 militants. The information could not be independently confirmed because the area is off-limits to most journalists.

Pakistan has repeatedly complained about Pakistani Taliban militants using Afghanistan as a base to stage cross-border attacks.

Afghanistan and the U.S. have criticized Pakistan for allowing Afghan Taliban militants in the country to stage attacks in the opposite direction.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/asia_pacific/pakistan-says-taliban-militants-coming-from-afghanistan-attack-border-posts-kill-4-soldiers/2012/04/02/gIQA5EZOqS_story.html

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Acid attack: Petitioners ask court to try Fakhra Younus case again

By Zeeshan Mujahid

April 2, 2012

KARACHI: A petition has been filed in the alleged acid attack case of Fakhra Younus, a woman who committed suicide in Italy last month after undergoing up to 39 surgeries to correct the disfiguration from an acid attack.

The petition was filed by the Pakistan Institute of Labour Education and Research (PILER), Javed Iqbal Burki, Najma Sadiq and Saeed Baloch through Faisal Siddiqui on Monday morning.

The petition was heard by Justices Maqbool Baqar and Shafi Siddiqui at the District and Session Court South.

In the petition, it was appealed to the court to declare the initial judgement of 2003 in the case illegal and that the case should be tried again.

The petitioners prayed to the court that in such cases, the court should ensure that the statements are recorded in a “free atmosphere” and that directions should be sought from the subordinate judiciary.

Full report at:

http://tribune.com.pk/story/358624/acid-attack-petitioners-ask-court-to-try-fakhra-younus-case-again/

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Brig Ali boycotts court martial proceedings

By Mudassir Raja

 April 2, 2012

RAWALPINDI: Brigadier (retd) Ali Khan, who is currently facing charges of conspiring to overthrow the government, boycotted court martial proceedings against him, Advocate Colonel (retd) Inamur Raheem said on Monday.

Advocate Raheem, who is the counsel for the accused, said that his client had called to meet him yesterday (Sunday) because court martial proceedings would resume on Monday.

He said that he was not allowed to meet his client and military authorities informed him that Colonel Khizer from the Judge Advocate General (JAG) had been appointed to defend Brig Ali. Raheem said that this could only be done in a case where there is no personal defendant.

Raheem said that he had earlier met Brig Ali on the high court’s orders and that his client was not in a position to defend himself.

Brig Ali, who is accused of having links with Hizb-ut-Tahrir (HuT), had earlier claimed that the court martial is to malign him because he had asked the military brass to fix responsibility for the May 2 raid. Charges of planning an air raid on the General Headquarters using F-16s had also earlier been dropped.

He has also approached a commission probing the May 2 raid in Abbottabad to let him record his statement.

http://tribune.com.pk/story/358623/brig-ali-boycotts-court-martial-proceedings/

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Firing incidents in Karachi claim five lives, many injured

Apr 02 2012

KARACHI: Clashes between two groups sparked heavy gunfights in Sikandar Goth area of Sachal, on Monday. One person was killed and two other were injured as a result of the firing after which tension gripped the area, DawnNews reported.

Unknown gunmen opened fire near Al-Asif square, killing one person. The dead body of the deceased was shifted to Abbasi Shaheed Hospital.

Firing also claimed the life of one person in Baghdadi area of Lyari, whereas five others were injured.

Three other people were injured by firing in Machar Colony area.

Attack at an ice-cream parlour near Lighthouse area killed one woman. The body was taken to Civil Hospital.

According to the police, the incident was a result of personal enmity.

One person died of gunshot wound under mysterious circumstances in Bin Qasim Town of Karachi.

Unknown gunmen opened fire at a car in Essa Nagri, injuring one person. The injured person is stated to be a political party worker.

Incidents of firing by unknown gunmen were also reported in Tin Hatti, Pak colony, Muwach Goth because of which fear and tension gripped the area.

http://www.dawn.com/2012/04/02/firing-incidents-in-karachi-claim-five-lives-many-injured.html

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Blast in Nigeria kills bomber

Apr 2, 2012

KADUNA: A bomb explosion in Nigerian city of Kaduna left a suspected bomber as killed while seriously injuring two others, said police.

The blast caused panic in the city Sunday evening, Xinhua reported on Monday.

The suicide bomber drove from his house in the vicinity of an unknown place to plant explosive device when it exploded, killing himself on the spot, a security source said.

No group immediately claimed responsibility for the blast.

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/rest-of-world/Blast-in-Nigeria-kills-bomber/articleshow/12500870.cms

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Twin blasts at Afghan market wound 18

Apr 2, 2012

KUNDUZ: Twin bomb blasts tore through a local market in northern Afghanistan’s Baghlan province on Monday, wounding 18 people, most of them civilians, officials said.

The explosions occurred one after another, with the second coming after security forces arrived to investigate the first blast, local administration chief Amir Gul told AFP.

“There was a blast in Sher Market in Baghlan-i-Markazi. The first blast occurred and injured some civilians, the second one followed shortly after the first one.

Eighteen people, five of them security personnel, are injured,” he said.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility, but the blasts were similar to attacks carried out by the Taliban as part of their insurgency.

Roadside explosions, mostly involving home-made bombs, are a common tactic used by the Taliban, who are fighting an insurgency against the US-backed government of Kabul and its Western military allies.

http://www.dawn.com/2012/04/02/twin-blasts-at-afghan-market-wound-18.html

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Palestinian hunger striker Hana Shalabi exiled to Gaza

Apr 2, 2012

A Palestinian woman prisoner who had been on hunger strike for more than 40 days has been released by the Israeli authorities and exiled to Gaza.

Hana Shalabi, a 30-year-old supporter of Islamic Jihad, was placed in "administrative detention" in February because she was deemed a security risk.

She ended her hunger strike, in protest at being held without trial, in return for being sent to Gaza for three years.

Ms Shalabi will then be allowed to return home to Jenin, in the West Bank.

Israel had previously detained Ms Shalabi for 25 months, but released her in October under a deal that saw Gaza militants free the Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit in exchange for more than 1,000 Palestinian prisoners.

She was re-arrested on 16 February, allegedly for involvement in planned attacks by Islamic Jihad, Israeli officials said, but not charged.

Her family said she had not been active in Islamic Jihad since October.

'War crime'

Full report at:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-17582868

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Stress and gripes, not Taliban, drive Afghan insider attacks – NATO

April 02, 2012

KABUL (Reuters) – Personal grievances, battle stress, and domestic problems are behind more attacks by rogue Afghan security forces on NATO troops than are Taliban infiltrators, the coalition said on Monday.

Western forces have stepped up security to prevent more attacks, after the killing of 17 foreign soldiers by Afghan security personnel this year, NATO spokesman Brigadier General Carsten Jacobson told reporters.

In some cases, that includes increased protection on hand in case more Afghans turn their guns on Western mentors. A series of insider attacks has raised doubts over the ability of local forces to take over security responsibility.

“The vast majority (of reasons for attacks) lie in the individual. Personal reasons, personal grievances are one of the major causes,” Jacobson told reporters.

“One of the things that we are finding is that in many cases there were signs and symptoms that could have been seen, and leadership has to be improved to make sure that those signs are seen in the future, in time before an incident happens.”

The rise in insider attacks on foreign soldiers has stoked fears that either Afghan soldiers and police have turned against their colleagues, or the security force has been infiltrated by Taliban insurgents.

Full report at:

http://www.euronews.com/newswires/1467136-stress-and-gripes-not-taliban-drive-afghan-insider-attacks-nato/

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Iran vows to stick to nuclear 'path'

2 APR, 2012

TEHRAN: Iran declared on Monday it will not be swayed from its nuclear "path" by sanctions, a week before talks with world powers that are increasingly seen as a last chance for diplomacy in its showdown with the West.

"The sanctions may have caused us small problems but we will continue our path," Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi vowed in an interview with the official Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA).

"We do not underestimate any enemy, no matter how tiny and lowly they are. The regime's officials -- the supreme leader, the president, the army, the (Revolutionary) Guards and Basij (militia) -- are completely vigilant. And the nation is prepared to defend the achievements of Islamic Iran," he said.

The defiant words came after US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said on Saturday that the talks between Iran and the world powers would take place April 13 and 14 in Istanbul.

Full report at:

http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/politics/nation/iran-vows-to-stick-to-nuclear-path/articleshow/12504298.cms

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US will hold Egypt politicians 'accountable': Hillary Clinton

 Apr 2, 2012

ISTANBUL: Washington will monitor actions by Egyptian politicians and hold them "accountable," US secretary of state Hillary Clinton said on Sunday, after the Muslim Brotherhood entered Egypt's presidential fray.

"We're going to watch what the political actors in Egypt do. We're going to watch their commitment to the rights and the dignity of every Egyptian," Clinton told reporters in Istanbul following a meeting of the " Friends of Syria" group.

"We will watch what all the political actors do and hold them accountable for their actions," she added when asked about the Brotherhood changing plans and announcing a candidate for the May 23-24 presidential vote.

The Muslim Brotherhood's political arm, the Freedom and Justice Party, said on Saturday it would nominate Khairat al-Shater, a professor of engineering and business tycoon, to contest Egypt's first presidential election since a popular uprising ousted Hosni Mubarak last year.

The Islamists, who control parliament, had repeatedly said they would not put forward a member for the election in order to mitigate fears that they were trying to monopolise power.

Full report at:

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/middle-east/US-will-hold-Egypt-politicians-accountable-Hillary-Clinton/articleshow/12498664.cms

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US announces $12 million humanitarian aid for Syria

Apr 2, 2012

WASHINGTON: The US government on Sunday announced an additional $12.2 million in humanitarian aid for Syria as the second meeting of " Friends of Syria" kicked off in Turkey's largest city Istanbul.

The US State Department in a statement said that the new aid, consisting of medical supplies and other humanitarian relief for displaced and vulnerable Syrian communities, brought the total amount of US assistance to Syria to nearly $25 million, Xinhua reported.

"The United States is pursuing every avenue to get humanitarian relief into Syria and is engaged in focused diplomatic efforts to secure full and unfettered access for humanitarian organisations to reach those in need," the statement said.

In March, the US provided more than $12 million in humanitarian assistance to the Syrians suffering from continued violence.

The US aid will be used to support the work of international organisations, including the World Food Programme, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees and the International Committee of the Red Cross.

According to the World Food Programme, an estimated 1.4 million people have become food insecure as a result of the year-long violence in Syria.

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/middle-east/US-announces-12-million-humanitarian-aid-for-Syria/articleshow/12500030.cms

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Russian veto fueled Syria carnage: Saudi Arabia

 Apr 2, 2012

ISTANBUL: Foreign Minister Prince Saud Al-Faisal said the Russian veto at the UN Security Council had given the Syrian regime license to continue its campaign of killings and genocide against its people.

Addressing the Istanbul meeting, he reiterated the Kingdom’s call to arm the opposition to confront Bashar Assad’s “crimes against humanity.”

Prince Saud said Kofi Annan’s peace mission as a UN envoy would not be successful unless supported by a strong Security Council resolution, reflecting its role as a protector of global peace and stability.

The UN council should press the Syrian regime to stop all acts of violence immediately, the Saudi minister said.

“Although we held a number of meetings, we have unfortunately failed to reach practical solutions to provide the Syrian people with the protection they need,” the minister said.

“They believe it would be a turning point in terms of reducing their suffering and providing them with maximum support to strengthen their self-defense,” he said.

A leading Syrian rebel, meanwhile, hit out at the “Friends of Syria” conference, saying such meetings “prolonged” the life of-Assad’s regime. “We want leaders to work for an immediate end to the killings and not take decisions that extend the life of the regime,” Free Syrian Army military council secretary Capt. Ammar Al-Wawi said.

Western and Arab nations in Istanbul called for Assad to be given a deadline to meet the terms of Kofi Annan’s peace plan. The conference also urged the UN to act to stop the violence, but steered clear of backing opposition appeals for arms to fight the regime clampdown.

http://arabnews.com/middleeast/article603244.ece

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Syrian rebel fighters 'to get salaries'

Apr 2, 2012

Rebels seeking to unseat Syrian President Bashar al-Assad will be paid salaries, the country's opposition council has announced.

The Syrian National Council said money would also be given to soldiers who defect from the government's army.

"The SNC will take charge of the payment of fixed salaries of all officers, soldiers, and others who are members of the Free Syrian Army," SNC President Burhan Ghalioun said.

During the 'Friends of the Syrian people' summit in Turkey, conference delegates said wealthy Gulf Arab states would supply millions of dollars a month for the SNC fund, The BBC reports.

Ghalioun said he hoped more substantial funding would help bind the disparate units of the Free Syrian Army into a more coherent fighting force, and encourage other soldiers to defect from the government side.

According to the report, some countries at the conference, notably Saudi Arabia, have been openly calling for insurgents in Syria to be given weapons.

But others, including the US and Turkey, oppose the move, fearing it could fuel an all-out civil war.

http://www.dnaindia.com/world/report_syrian-rebel-fighters-to-get-salaries_1670468

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Iraq says death toll for March lowest since 2003 invasion

Apr 2, 2012

BAGHDAD: The number of Iraqis killed in violence in March, when Baghdad hosted a landmark Arab summit, was the lowest monthly figure since the 2003 US-led invasion, official figures showed on Sunday.

In total, 112 Iraqis -- 78 civilians, 22 policemen and 12 soldiers -- died in attacks nationwide, according to figures compiled by the ministries of health, interior and defence.

The previous low for a month was in November 2009, when 122 people died.

March's death toll is markedly lower than the figure for February, when 150 Iraqis were killed, and is less than half the toll for the same month a year ago, when 247 people died.

A total of 357 people were wounded in violence last month, including 220 civilians, 85 policemen and 52 soldiers. The figures also showed that 30 insurgents were killed and 152 arrested.

Full report at:

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/middle-east/Iraq-says-death-toll-for-March-lowest-since-2003-invasion/articleshow/12497606.cms

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LeT militant arrested in J-K car blast case

Apr 2, 2012

J-K Police have arrested a computer engineer with links to Lashkar-e-Toiba militant outfit for allegedly "planning and executing" the car bomb explosion that left his accomplice dead and injured 20 others in Anantnag district last month.

The arrested militant has been identified

as Mohammad Iqbal Bhat alias Mudasir, a computer engineer from Awantipora town, senior superintendent of police (SSP) Anantnag R K Jalla told PTI.

Jalla said the arrested militant was involved in "planning and executing" the blast, which killed Mohammad Abbas Dar and injured 20 others including three CRPF jawans near Bijbehara town in south Kashmir, 45 kms from here, on March 22.

The police officer said the car bomb was targeted at "any security forces convoy or a VIP vehicle" which would have passed the spot where the car was parked.

Jalla said the investigations have revealed that Dar was an accomplice of Bhat and got killed when he went to check the IED after it did not explode with the mobile phone trigger.

Full report at:

http://www.hindustantimes.com/India-news/Srinagar/LeT-militant-arrested-in-J-K-car-blast-case/Article1-833955.aspx

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