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Islamic World News ( 25 Oct 2019, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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‘More than My Religion’: Art Exhibition Shows Multifaceted Identities of American Muslims Beyond their Religious Practice







Boston Cathedral’s Call to be A ‘House of Prayer’ Extends To Muslims’ Friday Prayers

Pakistan to Earn $36m Annually From Kartarpur Pilgrims

MQM Leader Questions Imran Khan's Silence On Oppression Of Mohajirs, Balochs And Pashtuns

Racial and Religious Polarisation Biggest Problem Plaguing ‘Malaysia 2.0’, Forum Told

Hezbollah Leader: We Refuse Resignation of Lebanese President Or Government

Beijing Claims All Chinese People 'Are Enjoying Unprecedented Human Rights and Freedoms' Despite Being Accused of Detaining At Least One Million Muslims In Re-Education Centres

Israel Is Last Apartheid Regime with Plan for Ethnic Cleansing Of Palestinians: Analyst

Problem of Islam in France Has To Be Solved: Macron on Muslim Headscarf Issue

 

North America

‘More than My Religion’: Art Exhibition Shows Multifaceted Identities of American Muslims  Beyond their Religious Practice

Boston Cathedral’s Call to be A ‘House of Prayer’ Extends To Muslims’ Friday Prayers

US welcomes Kartarpur Corridor Agreement between Pakistan, India

US to Turkey: Don’t turn on Russian system, avoid sanctions

Trump admin contradicts Trump on escaped ISIS militants

U.S. plans to send additional troops to northeastern Syria to protect oil fields from ISIS, Pentagon says

Rights groups sue US government to reveal Muslim surveillance

Canadian government funded ‘Muslim voting guide’

Supreme Court rejects case of Christian teen forced to write Islamic conversion prayer

US senator asks whether Trump interfered with court case on Turkey's Halkbank

US meets China, Russia and Pakistan to talk Afghan peace

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Pakistan

Pakistan to Earn $36m Annually From Kartarpur Pilgrims

MQM Leader Questions Imran Khan's Silence On Oppression Of Mohajirs, Balochs And Pashtuns

It’s time to resolve Kashmir dispute justly, President Alvi tells NAM summit

Pakistani women's rights activist Gulalai Ismail condemns 'criminal silence' of Pak media over abduction of her father

Sheikh Rashid sees imminent threat of war with India

Absence of prosecution team in Musharraf case no hurdle in way of verdict: ex-lead prosecutor

Gulalai Ismail's father sent on 14-day judicial remand

Scotland Yard grants relief to Altaf Hussain

PM urges nation to pay taxes to build Pakistan

Govt to allow Azadi March if SC orders: Rasheed

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Southeast Asia

Racial and Religious Polarisation Biggest Problem Plaguing ‘Malaysia 2.0’, Forum Told

Suspected Islamic State Recruiter Arrested In the Maldives

Cabinet gives green light to new Islamic administrative policy paper

PM: Malaysia to open embassy accredited to Palestine in Jordan

Jakarta Halal Things to highlight burgeoning Islamic tourism

Young Muslims in the west to get more and quicker help with new Mendaki centre in Jurong

108 ‘unfed and sick’ inmates freed from another Islamic school

Hasina talks Rohingya with Malaysia’s Mahathir, Iran’s Rouhani in Baku

Muslims in Thai south mark 15 years since Tak Bai 'massacre'

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Arab World

Hezbollah Leader: We Refuse Resignation of Lebanese President Or Government

At Least 40 People Killed As Fresh Protests Engulf Iraq

Hezbollah leader Nasrallah claims ‘specific, known parties’ are behind Lebanon’s protests

Over 100 ISIS prisoners are on the loose, security officials must act now: Experts

Lebanon: Hezbollah supporters clash with anti-government protesters

Why Egypt agreed to release Islamic Jihad detainees

Three protesters dead, over 50 wounded at Shia militia group offices in Iraq

Top Iraq cleric al-Sistani urges restraint to avoid protests ‘chaos’

Protests continue in Nabatieh despite Nasrallah’s support for government

Anti-resistance scheme being concocted against Lebanon, Nasrallah warns

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South Asia

Beijing Claims All Chinese People 'Are Enjoying Unprecedented Human Rights and Freedoms' Despite Being Accused of Detaining At Least One Million Muslims In Re-Education Centres

UN Expert Calls For Myanmar to Be Brought Before ICC

Taliban need to make real compromises for the resumption of peace talks: Stoltenberg

Special Forces arrest 5 Taliban militants; destroy caches of weapons in Kabul and Ghazni

Airstrike kills key Haqqani Network leader who was involved in deadly Kabul attacks

Suicide attack in Jalalabad city leaves 18 dead or wounded including 6 children

NATO’s support to Afghanistan with both forces and funding remains steadfast: Stoltenberg

Afghan official: Taliban attack kills 5, including child

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Mideast

Israel Is Last Apartheid Regime with Plan for Ethnic Cleansing Of Palestinians: Analyst

Erdogan says Turkey will crush Kurdish militants remaining in Syria 'safe zone'

Terror suspects being deported to Turkey for trial

True Merciful Face of Islam Should Be Introduced to World: Iranian President

IRGC’s Salami: Iran today is stronger than its ‘enemies’

NAM capable of neutralizing impact of US sanctions: Iran president

Israeli forces injure about 80 Gazans

Turkey warns US meeting with SDF chief would ‘legitimize terrorists’

Yemen government strikes power-sharing deal with southern rebels

KSRelief chief briefs Italian parliamentarians on Saudi aid efforts in Yemen

Yemen government strikes power-sharing deal with southern rebels

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Europe

Problem of Islam in France Has To Be Solved: Macron on Muslim Headscarf Issue

UN Calls On Egypt To Release Senior Muslim Brotherhood Members

Azerbaijani national hero provides a paradigm for Jewish-Muslim relations

Why I Brought My Family to A Mosque after Sunday Mass

UN says Turkish offensive in north Syria displaced nearly 180,000 people

Germany to end anti-'Islamic State' mission in March

Muslim Faith Schools Lead The Pack In UK Top Schools List

Russia says all US troops must leave Syria as Pentagon plans to keep them

Russia vows to respect rights of all under Syria deal

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Africa

67 Killed In Anti-Abiy Protests, Ethnic Violence in Ethiopia: Police

38 UN, aid workers killed in Nigeria: official

Somalia authorities hand over two Al-Shabaab suspects to Kenyan police

ISWAP fighters kill Nigeria troops in clashes near Jakana

Cameroon: France offers FCFA 30 billion to fight Boko Haram

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India

Maharashtra: 10 Muslim Candidates Make It to The Assembly

SC to examine Hindu, Muslim laws on kids' welfare in custody battles between spouses

Pakistan must decisively abjure terrorism for its own good: M Venkaiah Naidu

Suspected militants kill two in Indian Kashmir, set apple trucks ablaze

Plea in SC by Kashmiri Pandits supporting abrogation of Article 370

Army chief says PoK is illegally occupied, is run by terrorists

2008 Mumbai terror attack: Gujarat HC gives govt more time to pay compensation to Kuber crew member’s widow

Gujarat: Jamiat Ulema-e-Hind to provide legal aid to Tiwari murder accused

Kartarpur Corridor puts Dera Baba Nanak on road to progress

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau

URL: http://www.newageislam.com/islamic-world-news/new-age-islam-news-bureau/‘more-than-my-religion’--art-exhibition-shows-multifaceted-identities-of-american-muslims-beyond-their-religious-practice/d/120099

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‘More than My Religion’: Art Exhibition Shows Multifaceted Identities of American Muslims Beyond their Religious Practice

October 25, 2019

BOSTON (RNS) — Next week, the Massachusetts State House in Boston will house a collection of artwork by 24 Muslim artists from the Midwest to Massachusetts.

The artwork is part of the annual art series “More Than My Religion,” now in its fifth year, a project organized by New England Muslim artists to reflect American Muslims’ multifaceted identities beyond their religious practice.

“We’re focusing on American Muslims because their narrative has been the most hijacked,” said organizer Irum Haque, a pastel artist in Westford, Massachusetts. “We want to reclaim who we are and tell our own real stories. And every art piece that hangs in the exhibition is the story of a human life as American Muslim citizens.”

The pieces debuted last month at the Cary Library in Lexington, Mass., and will be displayed at the State House until Nov. 3. Sen. Edward Kennedy and Rep. Mike Connolly will speak at the Oct. 28 public reception, which will also include a Q&A session with some of the featured artists.

This year’s exhibition was juried by Laura Weinstein, curator of South Asian and Islamic art at Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts, which re-opened its extensive Arts of Islamic Cultures gallery over the summer.

“The works of art really speak not only to the diversity within Islamic communities, but also all sorts of connections within Islamic communities to other communities,” Weinstein told Religion News Service. “Some had a religion context but many didn’t have that at all. It really dispels the idea of Muslims being isolated from the rest of American culture.”

The 39 pieces include photography, paintings, prints, Arabic calligraphy and other forms of art, featuring global landscapes, self-portraits and images of saxophonists, animals, whirling dervishes and colorful textiles.

The project started as a conversation about the portrayal of Muslims almost exclusively in religious terms between Haque and co-organizer Ehsun Mirza, a photographer and painter who works as the chief of medicine and director of the ICU at Kent County Hospital in Warwick, Rhode Island.

“We wanted to do something proactive about all the negative rhetoric going on around Muslims,” Haque said. “Instead of always reacting when things are heightened or something happens, we wanted to do something on an ongoing basis that makes the American Muslim community more visible and puts the real lives of these citizens in the spotlight.”

Neither are formally trained as artists — Haque has a day job as an educator specializing in language-based disabilities. But the friends, both of whom are Pakistani immigrants, have long been involved in New England’s interfaith scene.

“We’re making a platform to bridge people together rather than being afraid of the other and who the other communities are,” Haque said. “This is a place for communities to come together and connect over art and really to be pleasantly surprised that there is so much in common.”

The group’s first exhibition was hosted at Providence City Hall in Rhode Island, with the city’s mayor, Jorge Elorza, speaking at the reception about the importance of such community art projects to combat Islamophobia.

Since then, the show has been displayed at The Providence Athenaeum, the Multicultural Arts Center in Cambridge, Mass., and the Rhode Island Council of the Arts. Previous jurors include John Smith, director of the Rhode Island School of Design Art Museums, as well as Jill Brody, a prominent Rhode Island photographer.

Artists whose work is sold at the exhibition are encouraged to donate a portion of the proceeds to local charities.

In the future, Haque said, she hopes to launch an interfaith art exhibition.

“No matter which background, race, ethnicity you belong to, ultimately human life and human values are shared,” she said. “Ultimately it’s about bringing walls down.”

https://religionnews.com/2019/10/25/new-england-art-exhibition-shows-another-side-of-american-muslims/

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Boston cathedral’s call to be a ‘house of prayer’ extends to Muslims’ Friday prayers

By Lynette Wilson

October 26, 2019

[Episcopal News Service – Boston] Ayman Bassyouni arrives early at the Cathedral Church of St. Paul around noon each Friday to lay 15 rows of silk prayer rugs end to end on the sanctuary’s floor.

An Egyptian, Bassyouni regularly attends jumah, or Friday prayers, at the Episcopal cathedral. He is one of a few hundred men and a handful of women – mostly immigrants from North Africa, South and Southeast Asia, the Middle East and the Balkans – who pray there together.

In Islam, Friday is considered the sacred day of worship; ordinarily, Muslims pray five times a day, but on Friday, males are obliged to pray in congregation at midday.

The cathedral’s longstanding welcome of the Muslim community is one way it lives into its mission to be “a house of prayer for all people.” In the United States, where religious literacy is in decline but religion plays an increasing role in the cultural narrative, interfaith relationships build tolerance.

Beginning on Sunday, in a partnership with Boston’s Jewish and Muslim communities, St. Paul’s will host “ABRAHAM: Out of One, Many.” Presented by CARAVAN, the Oct. 27-Dec. 6 exhibit explores the concept of living harmoniously through artists’ paintings interpreting Abraham’s life and faith journey.

“Many people struggle to really understand their own tradition, let alone other people’s tradition; and my experience has been that when you’re in conversation with people of a different tradition, it causes you to learn more about your own tradition too,” said the Very Rev. Amy McCreath, dean of the cathedral, about the exhibit in a parish newsletter. “It feels to me really, really important right now that we understand our tradition and how it’s connected both to Judaism and Islam, and that we counter that sectarianism and that violence, both intellectually by knowing the history, [as well as through] building relationships with real people in real time.

“Our hope is that parishes will bring a group to come and tour the exhibit, but even more we would hope that they would call the temple down the road and bring an interfaith group to come and experience it and talk about what they see together.”

The three major monotheistic faiths, Judaism, Christianity and Islam, trace their origins to Abraham – Islam through Abraham and Hagar’s son, Ishmael, and Judaism through Abraham and Sarah’s son, Isaac. And with God’s revelation of the Quran through his messenger, the Prophet Muhammad, the Arabians who eventually became Muslims also became “people of the book.” Still, the commonalities extend further, with all three religions rooted in popular movements against social inequality and the elite’s abuses of power.

An estimated 3.45 million Muslims live in the United States, currently 1.1 percent of the population, but that number is expected to double by 2050. As a comparison, Jews make up 1.8 percent and Christians an estimated 79.5 percent of the U.S. population, according to the Pew Research Center.

St. Paul’s location on Tremont Street across from Boston Common – America’s oldest park, founded in 1634 – and down the hill from the Massachusetts State House gives it a particular “proclamational kerygma,” said Bishop Alan M. Gates, who became bishop of Massachusetts five years ago.

“It’s a really profound witness … and interfaith witness, peace witness, hospitality witness in the deepest sense of the word,” he said, during an interview with Episcopal News Service in his office, overlooking Boston Common.

Five years ago, St. Paul’s underwent a $10 million renovation. The pews were removed from the sanctuary; skylights were installed, brightening and opening the space to multiple uses; glass doors exposed the cathedral to the street; renovations to the undercroft were done to facilitate meetings and events; and a foot-washing station, where Muslims wash their feet in a ritual ablution before formal prayer, was installed.

St. Paul’s, with its convenient location, first welcomed the Muslim community for Friday prayer in August 2000, after the congregation outgrew its space in another downtown church. For the first 15 years, Muslims gathered in the undercroft and eventually added a second shift as more men came, before moving upstairs into the sanctuary, which invited greater visibility. As fear of the other dominates in politics and the media, the longstanding relationship sends a message.

“In this day and age, in particular post-9/11, right in the midst of a season in our political life when we are being encouraged to be wary of people of different faiths, especially immigrants, especially Muslims, we are a testament to the lie of that,” said McCreath, in an interview with ENS in the cathedral’s glass-walled chapel.

Founded as a church in 1818 by wealthy, influential Boston patriots who sought to establish a uniquely “American Episcopal parish,” and the first example of Greek Revival architecture in Boston, St. Paul’s became a cathedral in 1912. The seventh bishop of Massachusetts, the Rt. Rev. William Lawrence, conceived of a cathedral aligned with the last line of Isaiah 56:7: “for my house shall be called a house of prayer for all peoples.”

Greater Boston, an area including 127 cities and towns, has a population that exceeds 8 million and that is increasingly diverse; the region is an academic and medical research hub.

The Muslim community gathering for Friday prayer on Boston Common was first started in the 1990s by Mahmood Rahman’s father, an immigrant from Bangladesh who taught at Suffolk University, a private research university around the corner from the statehouse on Beacon Hill.

“My dad was a professor at the business school over there, and like anything else, the genesis for this came about because there was a need,” said Rahman, one of the Friday prayers’ primary organizers. “Being a Muslim, the Friday noon prayer is our required congregational prayer. … It’s obligatory for men to come, listen to a sermon and have our prayer. All the other prayers you can do at home; you don’t have to go to the mosque. After the first couple of years being a professor at the business school, he realized he was missing obligatory Friday prayers, and this gnawed at and weighed heavily on him.”

Rahman’s father realized the closest mosque was a 20-minute subway ride away, neither convenient nor practical alongside his teaching schedule. And at the time, Suffolk didn’t have a Muslim student association, so he asked the administration if he could use a room. The university consented and the prayers started with him and a couple of students; as word spread, 20 to 30 people not affiliated with the university began attending, and finally, for liability reasons, the congregation needed to find another space, which it did in a nearby church. After two or three years, the congregation attracted 100 people and “was bursting at the seams,” said Rahman.

By 2000, given the growth and timing – the host church was preparing for a major renovation – it made sense for the Muslim congregation to find another space. One of its members, Ibrahim Ibrahim, the owner of the café next door to St. Paul’s, had become acquainted with the then-dean, the Very Rev. John “Jep” Streit Jr.

Streit took Ibrahim on a tour of the undercroft, a place large enough to store prayer rugs and shoe racks. The two agreed it would work, “and so they started praying on Fridays almost right away,” said Streit, who served as St. Paul’s dean from 1995 to 2017.

Streit says in hindsight he should have consulted then Massachusetts Bishop Tom Shaw, who was away at the time. When Shaw returned, he was giving a potential donor a tour of the cathedral when, to his surprise, they happened upon Muslims praying in the basement. The person said, “Who are these people? What are they doing here?” And the bishop didn’t know.

Later, Shaw, clearly angry, approached Streit in his office and asked what Muslims were doing praying in the basement, to which Streit responded, “Well, we claim to be a house of prayer for all people. It’s either true or it isn’t.”

“And he looked at me and said, ‘OK, just checking.’ He was fine with it; he was just embarrassed he didn’t know.”

A year later, in a taxi to the airport, Shaw learned his driver prayed at St. Paul’s, Streit explained.

“He [Shaw] always used to engage people, and he asked this guy, ‘Are you religious?’ And the guy said he was Muslim, and he said, ‘Oh, where do you pray?’ And he said, ‘Oh, there’s a church in Boston, it’s so wonderful; they let us pray in their church, and it’s so great.’ And Tom said, ‘That’s my church. I’m the bishop at that church.’”

The taxi driver stopped the car, got out, hugged Shaw and said, “Wow, you have no idea what it means to us.”

https://www.episcopalnewsservice.org/2019/10/25/boston-cathedrals-call-to-be-a-house-of-prayer-extends-to-muslims-friday-prayers/

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Pakistan to earn $36m annually from Kartarpur pilgrims

October 26, 2019

ISLAMABAD: Since 5,000 pilgrims are allowed to visit the Gurdwara Darbar Sahib Kartarpur, Pakistan, by charging $20 service fee per pilgrim, will earn $1,00,000 (approximately Rs7.1 million) every day.

The service fee from the pilgrims – Indian Rs259 crore per annum and about Pakistani Rs555 crore – will be another source of foreign currency generation for Pakistan, which is already reeling under severe financial crisis, a government official said.

As the rate of Pakistani currency is Rs155.74 for one dollar, the daily earning will be Rs1.55 crore (Pakistani rupees). Since the pilgrimage will be allowed all 365 days a year, Pakistan will earn $3,65,00,000.

Though India signed the pact with Pakistan for ensuring smooth travel of pilgrims through the Kartarpur Corridor, it has asked Islamabad to review the decision to charge the fee in future. For the registration of pilgrims, online portal (prakashpurb550.mha.gov.in) went live on Thursday. The pilgrims will have to register themselves online through this portal and exercise their choice to travel on any day.

The pilgrims will be informed by SMS and email of the confirmation of registration three to four days prior to the date of travel. An Electronic Travel Authorisation will also be generated. The pilgrims need to carry Electronic Travel Authorisation, along with their passports when they arrive at the Passenger Terminal Building.

India and Pakistan on Thursday signed a landmark agreement to operationalise the historic Kartarpur Corridor to allow Indian Sikh pilgrims to visit the holy Darbar Sahib in Pakistan, notwithstanding a chill in bilateral ties. Last month, India and Pakistan agreed on visa-free travel of Indian pilgrims to Gurdwara Darbar Sahib using the Kartarpur Corridor.

Pilgrims will only have to carry their passports to visit the revered Gurdwara in Pakistan. Persons of Indian origin holding OCI (Overseas Citizen of India) card can also visit the Gurdwara using the Kartarpur Corridor. It was also decided that 5,000 pilgrims can visit the shrine everyday and additional pilgrims will be allowed on special occasions, subject to capacity expansion of facilities by the Pakistani side.

India and Pakistan have also decided that the corridor will be operational throughout the year and seven days a week and pilgrims will have a choice to visit as individuals or in groups.

https://www.pakistantoday.com.pk/2019/10/25/pakistan-to-earn-36500000-annually-from-kartarpur-pilgrims/

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MQM Leader Questions Imran Khan's Silence On Oppression Of Mohajirs, Balochs And Pashtuns

Oct 25, 2019

LONDON: Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) founder Altaf Hussain wrote an open letter to the Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan questioning his silence on the oppression of Mohajirs, Balochs, Pashtuns and other non-Punjabi ethnic groups by the Pakistani military.

In the letter, which the MQM leader put up on Twitter last month, Hussain questioned if Khan "would have the courage to answer about the lockdown of Mohajirs, Balochs, Pashtuns and other non-Punjabi nations who are facing brutalities, atrocities, arbitrary arrests, enforced disappearances and extra judicial killings of Mohajirs, Balochs, Pashtuns and other oppressed nations at the hands of their own Army."

Pakistan has often faced criticism for the treatment of these ethnic groups, which continue to face persecution at the hands of its military and other agencies.

While Imran Khan never misses a chance to speak about the situation in Jammu and Kashmir, he remains a mute spectator and turns a blind eye to the oppression in his country by the military establishment.

The MQM leader said in his letter that there is no parallel with what is happening in Kashmir to the victimisation of Mohajirs, Balochs, Pashtuns and others from "1947 up till now."

Alleging that his followers have been prevented for many years by the military establishment to carry out political activities, Hussain said, "My house has been sealed from 2016 up till now, why are these atrocities and brutalities being carried out by the ruthless military establishment? Where is the constitution and the law of the land? Why has the military establishment imposed an undeclared martial law in the whole Pakistan?"

The MQM leader said there is no freedom of expression, association or independence of the press in Pakistan and added that the print and electronic media is fully under the control of military establishment in the country.

Raising questions about the independence of the judicial system in the country, Hussain said, "People of Pakistan are not illiterate, they are fully aware that even from lower courts to higher courts straight through to the supreme court is totally under the control of military establishment."

Terming Imran Khan as a mouthpiece of the military establishment, he said: "You are crying for the Kashmiris but not looking at the brutal and ruthless actions of the Pakistani military establishment carried out on 220 million people of Pakistan."

Hussain asked Khan to resign immediately if he has "any conscience". "Otherwise stop fooling the international community through your false pretences," the MQM leader wrote.

In August, at a United Nations meet, the United States, the United Kingdom and Canada raised the issue of suppression of religious freedom by Pakistan and slammed it for "persecuting and repressing" religious minorities.

During the meet on Safety of Religious Minorities, the US, UK and Canada expressed concerns over increasing, widespread and undue restrictions on religious freedom in Pakistan and China. They highlighted the discrimination suffered by the Uyghur community in China, and Christians, Ahmadiyas, Hindus and other minorities in Pakistan.

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/pakistan/mqm-leader-questions-imran-khans-silence-on-oppression-of-mohajirs-balochs-and-pashtuns/articleshow/71752174.cms

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Racial And Religious Polarisation Biggest Problem Plaguing ‘Malaysia 2.0’, Forum Told

25 Oct 2019

BY AZRIL ANNUAR

KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 25 — Academics, politicians, experts and activists believe that one of the biggest problems facing Malaysia 2.0 is race and religion polarisation.

Speaking at the ‘Whither Maruah Malaysia 2.0’ forum here today, academic Professor Lim Teck Ghee outright said that post-GE14 has been an “unmitigated disaster” for the nation’s reform movement.

“What happened in GE14 has been described as a tsunami. We know tsunamis are a once-in-a-lifetime event. What happens next is more important than the tsunami itself. This is where we need to do the asking what we need to focus on.

“It’s very clear post-GE14 has been an unmitigated disaster for the reform movement. That’s why we are all here. We are trying to see what’s gone wrong, what is the role ahead and what we can do together,” said Lim.

He noted that with the list of political disappointments and failures by the current Pakatan Harapan (PH) administration growing by the day, it was right to ask whether Malaysia is back to square one and whether the so-called “tsunami” was actually a “small wave”.

Some of the failures that PH failed to address include race relations, governance, the recently concluded Malay Dignity Congress as well as the Dr Zakir Naik issue among others.

However, he did not single out any ethnic group or political party for this perceived failure; instead believing that every Malaysian shoulders the blame, saying that the entire nation must change its mindset of racial and religious polarisation.

“It’s not simply Umno and PAS leaders with this mindset. This mindset is also there with the civil service in the PH leadership. It needs to be addressed. What needs to be done next, we need to be realistic. We find the reform agenda is not just around the corner, it’s a marathon and beyond.

“It’s much more than the Malay mindset that needs transformation but all. The whole bunch of us Chinese, Indians, East Malaysians, we are all part of the ‘Ugly Malaysian’. Queue cutting, name dropping, ass kissing, frog jumping, datukship worshipping, this is a culture that prevails,” Lim said.

Meanwhile, renowned activist Datuk Ambiga Sreenevasan cautioned her fellow panellist, saying that all is not doom and gloom as there is still hope for the country.

But to achieve the GE14 dream, the ruling administration must have some spine and courage in order to do so, she continued.

She pointed out that PH should never have allowed itself to be sidetracked by the games that the Opposition play and must remain firm in its decision to reform the country for the better.

Ambiga observed that the moment the ruling coalition is sidetracked, it plays into the hands of the Umno-PAS alliance and this will give them the advantage.

“But the government must stand firm. For example, the manner which ICERD came about. It became a racial issue and the government instead of standing up to them, gave in to them. And of course, they haven’t stopped giving in. That’s what happens when you give in.

“You give in once, you will continue giving in. What’s the game plan when you have extreme racist rhetoric? I’m expecting our leaders to show courage, put their foot down and say this is unacceptable rhetoric. We have come to see hate speech being spread online and via social media.

“What do we expect them to do? We expect them to speak for everyone, to speak for those who are hurt by the comments of those who are racist,” said Ambiga.

She proposed that Putrajaya sets up a bipartisan committee on race relations in order to have a serious conversation and to “recalibrate” the nation.

The former Bersih 2.0 chief said that if the government is not doing it, then it is up to ordinary Malaysians to galvanise such a movement.

Ambiga then recommended the book penned by Perak Ruler Sultan Nazrin Shah titled Striving for Inclusive Development: From Pangkor to a Modern Malaysian State, citing the last chapter which contains many recommendations that politicians can pick up to change the nation.

“Every politician, every MP should read the book by Sultan Nazrin called From Pangkor to a Modern Malaysian State.

“In the last chapter, His Highness sets out ways we can recalibrate the nation and what is it we need to do to make sure we can compete in this global climate, instead of being a recluse, an island, but one where we can stand proud,” said Ambiga.

MCA vice-president Datuk Seri Ti Lian Ker, on the other hand, questioned whether or not the voters’ decision to cast their ballot in favour of PH over Barisan Nasional (BN) had granted their hopes and dreams.

He acknowledged BN’s failure as a ruling administration but asked the audience if there is real change after PH’s takeover, and whether things are getting better or becoming worse.

Ti then slammed the ruling coalition for being “obsessed” with power or retaining power as can allegedly be seen in the tiff between PKR president Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim and his followers who are demanding a date of transition from Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.

Firebrand lawyer Siti Kassim then called Malaysia one of the most racist and bigoted nations on the planet due to the fact that it is institutionalising race-based policies.

“The curse of race and religion being put into law has made us a society of Us vs Them. It should have been love among us all. Even Israel has equal Muslim citizens. But Malaysia is getting more and more racist and exclusive by developing religious policies day by day, year by year.

“We are one of the most racist and bigoted countries on Earth. What other nation gives 100 per cent university quota just for one race? Which other nation has institutionalised policies on race but Malaysia? Where is the dignity in that?

“Where is the dignity in funding religious affairs using every taxpayers’ funds when it is a constitutional mandate for those of a different religion not to fund something that is not theirs,” said the outspoken activist, before adding that Putrajaya should leave Islamic matters to the Sultans.

https://www.malaymail.com/news/malaysia/2019/10/25/biggest-problem-plaguing-malaysia-2.0-racial-and-religious-polarisation-for/1803762

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Hezbollah leader: We refuse resignation of Lebanese president or government

25 October 2019

Leader of Lebanese Hezbollah Hassan Nasrallah said on Friday that he will not accept early elections, the bringing down of Lebanon’s president nor the resignation of the government as protests in the country mark their ninth day.

“We will not have the president resign and we don’t agree with early elections. I was called out on saying I’m protecting the status quo but no, we are protecting the country from a vacuum which will lead to chaos,” said Nasrallah in a televised address.

He urged his supporters to stay away from the nationwide protests and accused embassies of foreign governments of funding the protests.

“You want to protest, you need money. How is this protest being funded? Please explain to us how? You ask for transparency, then give it to us. Are you getting paid by certain embassies?” said Nasrallah.

He warned of the current situation in Lebanon leading to general chaos, security disorder, or civil war.

“If a vacuum happens it will lead to chaos, to disaster. The country will go to ruin, let’s hope there won't be a civil war,” said Nasrallah.

He said the reforms emerging from the protests in the country are “unprecedented,” adding that no Lebanese government has been able to approve such reforms in one session.

Nasrallah said that the reform bill is just the first step on the road of other steps that must be taken including approving laws to lift banking secrecy and recovering looted wealth.

“Every politician and religious leader who covers others will be held accountable by the people,” said Nasrallah, adding that the Lebanese government is determined to implement its decisions about the reforms by the set deadlines.

Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri on Sunday presented an economic plan to representatives of different political blocs to help ease the unrest that has led to mass protests across the country calling for the resignation of the government.

Lebanon’s government agreed to the package on Monday. The decisions call for a 50 percent reduction in the salaries of current and former officials and $3.3 billion in contributions from banks to achieve a “near-zero deficit” for the 2020 budget.

It also includes a plan to privatize its telecommunications sector and an overhaul to its crippled electricity sector, a crucial demand among potential foreign donors and investors needed to unlock some $11 billion in funds to Lebanon.

The reforms also called for establishing new regulatory and transparency bodies within a “short period” of time to oversee reform plans. Central to protester demands is an end to what they say is rampant corruption destroying the economy.

The protests in Lebanon have called for a sweeping overhaul of Lebanon’s political system, with grievances ranging from austerity measures to poor infrastructure.

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/2019/10/25/Hezbollah-leader-Reforms-emerging-from-protest-are-unprecedented-.html

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Beijing Claims All Chinese People 'Are Enjoying Unprecedented Human Rights and Freedoms' Despite Being Accused Of Detaining At Least One Million Muslims In Re-Education Centres

25 October 2019

China has claimed that all of its citizens, including more than 20 million Muslims, are enjoying unprecedented human rights and freedoms while living more happily than ever before.

The statement comes after US Vice President Mike Pence yesterday slammed the country's human rights situation and its crackdown on Muslims.

Pence said: 'Millions of ethnic and religious minorities in China are struggling against the [Communist] party's efforts to eradicate their religious and cultural identities'.

Beijing has faced widespread criticism after being accused of detaining at least one million Muslims in re-education centres in the far-western region of Xinjiang.

'The Chinese government values, protects and promotes human rights highly,' said Hua Chunying, a spokesperson of China's Foreign Ministry.

'Chinese people are enjoying unprecedented rights and freedoms - an undeniable fact to anyone who is not wearing tinted glasses,' Hua was quoted saying at a daily press briefing today by state news agency Xinhua.

She went on to comment on the country's religious population, highlighting that people are free to choose their faiths.

'There are nearly 200 million religious people in China, among whom more than 20 million are Muslims,' she said.

Hua also said that China's rapid economic growth meant that it people were feeling happier and happier.

Pence yesterday delivered a speech on the future of the relationship between the United States and China.

He accused China of curtailing 'rights and liberties' in Hong Kong and blasted American company Nike and the NBA for siding with Beijing in a disagreement over free speech.

He also slammed Beijing for clamping down on Muslim Uighurs in the Xinjiang region.

He said: 'To uphold the values of freedom-loving people everywhere, we've also called out the Chinese Communist Party for suppressing freedom of religion of the Chinese people.

'Millions of ethnic and religious minorities in China are struggling against the party's efforts to eradicate their religious and cultural identities.'

In response to the speech, Hua claimed that Pence had 'intentionally twisted' China's social system as well as its human rights and religious situation.

'[Pence's] speech showed complete arrogance and hypocrisy and was filled with political bias and lies. The Chinese side expresses strong dissatisfaction and firm opposition to it,' Hua said. 

UN experts and activists have claimed that at least one million ethnic Uighurs and other Muslims are held in the detention centres in Xinjiang.

China describes them as 'vocational training centres' which they say could help stamp out extremism and give people new skills.

Former detainees previously revealed that Muslims were forced to eat pork and speak Mandarin in those internment camps. 

China has also kept thousands of Uighur children away from their Muslim parents before indoctrinating them in camps posing as schools and orphanages, studies show.

A recent drone video purports to show hundreds of shackled and blindfolded Muslim prisoners being transferred in Xinjiang.

The footage, uploaded to social media and unverified, captures the detainees being led by SWAT officers from trains with their heads shaven, eyes covered and hands bound. 

Authorities of Xinjiang claimed the officers were carrying out 'normal' judicial activities.

United States has been increasing its pressure on Beijing over what it says is the systematic oppression of Muslims.

Earlier this month, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo gave his toughest criticism for China in a keynote speech at a Vatican conference on religious freedom.

'When the state rules absolutely, it demands its citizens worship government, not God. That's why China has put more than one million Uighur Muslims ... in internment camps and is why it throws Christian pastors in jail,' he said.

'When the state rules absolutely, God becomes an absolute threat to authority,' he said.

Pompeo had previously called Beijing's treatment of the Uighur minority among 'the worst stains on the world'.

Beijing slammed Pompeo's remarks as 'lies'.

'The lies of American politicians can't trick people around the world and will only further expose the purpose of their hidden political motives,' said Hua Chunying.

Muslims make up about two per cent of the 1.4 billion population in China. However, as the country is so populous, its Muslim population is expected to be the 19th largest in the world in 2030.

The Muslim population in China is projected to increase from 23.3 million in 2010 to nearly 30 million in 2030.

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-7613597/China-says-Muslims-enjoying-unprecedented-human-rights-freedoms.html

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Israel is last apartheid regime with plan for ethnic cleansing of Palestinians: Analyst

Oct 25, 2019

Israel is the last apartheid, racist regime in the world which has a long-term plan for the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians, says an American commentator.

Middle East expert Kevin Barrett told Press TV’s the Debate program on Thursday that the regime is moving toward “a greater Israel plan,” through the illegal settlements on the occupied Palestinian territories.

Israeli authorities demolish Palestinian homes in the occupied West Bank usually claiming that the residential structures have been built without the relevant building permits.

They also sometimes order the Palestinian owners to demolish their own homes; otherwise, the municipality would charge them for the demolition costs.

“This is a recipe for endless war and the ethnic cleansing of Palestine,” Barrett said.

He explained that Israel's settlement plan is “pushing the world towards endless crisis; and if true, the least the world can do is to respond to this by saying no and beginning with the boycott of Israeli products.”

He further said that in the wake of the September 11 attacks in New York, eighteen years ago, Israel has gone “into an all-out kind of radical Likud-linked expansion mode.”

He believed that “evidence shows that Zionists were part of planning or perhaps the key force behind the planning of the September 11, 2001 coup d’état.”

While he insisted that the Tel Aviv regime “played a big role” in the 9/11 terrorist attacks, Maxine Dovere, who also took part in the Debate, dismissed his remarks as mere “conspiracy theories.”

"These are conspiracy theories that have zero basis in any fact,” said journalist and political analyst, Dovere.

She also dismissed Barrett’s calls for the boycott of Israel products, saying the boycott of the regime is a “kind of economic warfare that should not exist.”

Barrett also called Israel “the last apartheid, racist; officially racist” regime in the world.

He said that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin “Netanyahu just insisted on that [racism] by passing this so-called new nation-stat law, making Israel a land of by and for only the Jews.”

The law, which was passed by the Israeli parliament (Knesset) last year, defines Israel as the nation-state of the Jewish people and strips the Arabic language from its status as an official language alongside Hebrew.

https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2019/10/25/609532/Israel-Palestine-settlement-ethnic-cleansing

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Problem of Islam in France Has To Be Solved: Macron on Muslim Headscarf Issue

October 25, 2019

PARIS: The French president has said wearing of the headscarf by Muslim women in public services and at schools is his business and that is what secularism means.

Emmanuel Macron was visiting French overseas territory of Reunion Island on Thursday and he spoke to reporters regarding Muslim headscarf issues, which is currently a topic of hot debates in the Western European country.

“Wearing of the headscarf in public spaces is not my business, however, in public services, at school and while educating children, headscarf issue is my business. That is what secularism is about,” Macron said.

Macron said the problem of Islam has to be solved in his country.”In some neighborhoods, some people use headscarf as a symbol to break one’s connection with the republic,” he said.

Two weeks ago, French far-right lawmaker Julien Odoul had requested a Muslim woman to take off her veil in a meeting in eastern Besancon and attacked her verbally.

After the incident, the issue sparked discussions and statements targeting Muslims, that have risen recently. In an open letter to Macron published in Le Monde daily last week, 90 academics, directors, actors and journalists have called the president to condemn the attack of Odoul against the Muslim woman.

https://tribune.com.pk/story/2087070/3-problem-islam-france-solved-macron-muslim-headscarf-issue/

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North America

 

US welcomes Kartarpur Corridor agreement between Pakistan, India

October 26, 2019

WASHINGTON: US Acting Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asia Alice Wells on Friday welcomed the agreement between Pakistan and India on the Kartarpur Corridor.

“Welcome news of a finalized agreement that paves the way for a corridor between India and Pakistan, allowing Sikh pilgrims to visit Gurdwara Kartarpur Sahib. We look forward to the formal opening in November. Building people-to-people ties between neighbors is good news,” Wells wrote on Twitter.

Pakistan and India on Thursday signed an agreement for opening the Kartarpur Corridor. Foreign Office Spokesperson Dr. Muhammad Faisal and India’s Joint Secretary External Affairs S. C. L. Das signed the agreement on behalf of their respective countries at Kartarpur Zero Point.

Prime Minister Imran Khan will inaugurate the Corridor on Nov 9.

In the agreement, Islamabad has kept a service fee of $20 for Sikh pilgrims visiting the Corridor from the Indian side, unchanged. As many as 5,000 Sikh pilgrims can visit Kartarpur daily and Pakistan will consider the possibility of allowing more pilgrims on special occasions.

https://www.pakistantoday.com.pk/2019/10/25/us-welcomes-kartarpur-corridor-agreement-between-pakistan-india/

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US to Turkey: Don’t turn on Russian system, avoid sanctions

25 October 2019

The United States will spare Turkey from sanctions over its purchase of the S-400 missile system from Russia if it does not turn it on, a US official said Friday.

President Donald Trump on Wednesday lifted sanctions on Turkey that had been imposed over its assault on US-allied Syrian Kurdish fighters, which created a crisis between the NATO allies.

But tensions remain, with Turkey still facing punishment for buying the S-400 missile defense system from Russia despite its membership in the Western alliance.

“There are probably cooler heads in Ankara that are saying, for heaven’s sake, don’t turn this on,” a State Department official told reporters on condition of anonymity.

The official said it did not appear that Turkey had activated the S-400, which NATO powers fear could help Russia hone its skills in shooting down Western planes and missiles.

“There is still work to get the Turks to walk away from the S-400 – be it turn it off, send it back, destroy it, what have you,” the State Department official said.

“Ideally they should never have acquired or received any component of the S-400, but now that that line has been crossed, it is a matter of how to isolate, compartmentalize that – neutralize it – and move forward,” he said.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has nonetheless kept building relations with Russia, which agreed to deploy forces in northern Syria to replace US troops pulled out by Trump.

Full report at:

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2019/10/25/US-to-Turkey-Don-t-turn-on-Russian-system-avoid-sanctions.html

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Trump admin contradicts Trump on escaped ISIS militants

By Steve Benen

10/24/19

Despite the obvious failures of his policy in northern Syria, Donald Trump delivered remarks yesterday celebrating what he perceived as a success. Of particular interest were the president’s comments about escaped ISIS militants.

“I have just spoken to General Mazloum, a wonderful man, the Commander-in-Chief of the SDF Kurds. And he was extremely thankful for what the United States has done. Could not have been more thankful. General Mazloum has assured me that ISIS is under very, very strict lock and key, and the detention facilities are being strongly maintained. There were a few that got out – a small number, relatively speaking – and they’ve been largely recaptured.”

To clarify, Trump was apparently referring to a conversation with Ferhat Abdi Şahin, commander of the Syrian Democratic Forces, which includes Kurdish militias. Whether he was “extremely thankful” for the United States abandoning our Kurdish allies is unclear.

But of particular interest was Trump’s rhetoric about escaped members of ISIS. The terrorist network was already delighted by the Republican’s policy, since it effectively ended the U.S.-backed offensive against ISIS. Indeed, by any fair measure, ISIS was one of the biggest winners of Trump’s decision.

But with the Kurds confronting a brutal military offensive from the Turks – effectively at Trump’s invitation – some ISIS militants contained by the Kurds were able to escape. To hear the American president tell it, at issue are “a few” individuals who’s been “largely recaptured.”

The evidence, including information from the Trump administration, suggests that’s not quite right.

Defense Secretary Mark Esper told CNN yesterday, for example, that the number is “a little bit more than a hundred.” (Esper added that we haven’t seen a big prison break “that we all expected,” which naturally raised questions about the White House’s expectations.) In case this isn’t obvious, “more than a hundred” is greater than “a few.”

What’s more, James Jeffrey, the administration’s special envoy for Syria, said this week, in reference to escaped ISIS members, “We do not know where they are.” This, naturally, further calls into question the president’s “largely recaptured” rhetoric.

Finally, a senior Trump administration official held a press briefing yesterday, and he said he didn’t even know where the 100+ figure came from, seemingly unaware of the assessments shared by Esper and Jeffrey.

Full report at:

http://www.msnbc.com/rachel-maddow-show/trump-admin-contradicts-trump-escaped-isis-militants

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U.S. plans to send additional troops to northeastern Syria to protect oil fields from ISIS, Pentagon says

OCTOBER 24, 2019

A Pentagon official said Thursday that the U.S. is planning to send additional troops into northeastern Syria to protect oil fields from ISIS. The announcement comes as Russia, which has gained new power in the region, ordered all U.S. troops out of the country and called the remaining American troops an "occupying force."

The announcement is a reversal of President Trump's decision to pull U.S. forces from the area, which sparked a Turkish cross-border offensive earlier this month.

While most U.S. troops are withdrawing from Syria, the Pentagon is planning a major increase in firepower to protect the ones left behind. If approved, a combat unit armed with tanks would be sent into an area along the Euphrates River to reinforce about 200 lightly armed troops who are staying in Syria to protect the oil fields.

"One of the most significant gains by the U.S. and our partners in the fight against ISIS was gaining control of oil fields in Eastern Syria — a crucial source of revenue for ISIS," a defense official said.

Republican Senator Lindsey Graham said he was briefed on the situation Thursday by Joint Chiefs Chairman General Mark Milley.

"There's a plan coming together from the Joint Chiefs, that I think may work, that may give us what we need to prevent ISIS from coming back around," he said.

Mr. Trump's decision to order 1,000 U.S. troops out from northern Syria more than a week ago was met with widespread condemnation by Democrats and Republicans in Congress, who accused the president of abandoning the Kurdish allies who were instrumental in defeating ISIS. The Kurds were also in control of several prisons holding ISIS fighters and their families.

After Mr. Trump announced the U.S.' withdrawal, Turkey launched an assault on the Kurds. The United Nation's deputy humanitarian chief, Ursula Mueller, has said almost 180,000 people, including 80,000 children, fled their homes in northeastern Syria because of the offensive.

On Wednesday, the president announced the U.S. would lift sanctions on Turkey because of a "permanent" cease-fire in the conflict between Turkey and the Kurds. The Kurds largely withdrew from the region under the terms of a 120-hour cease-fire negotiated by the U.S.

That announcement came after Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Russian President Vladimir Putin brokered a new six-day cease-fire, which allowed Russia to step into the power vacuum created after U.S. troop withdrawal.

Mr. Trump has lauded the ceasefire deal as "a great outcome," and praised Erdogan.

Full report at:

https://www.cbsnews.com/news/turkey-syria-news-us-plans-to-send-additional-troops-to-syria-to-protect-oil-fields-from-isis-pentagon-says/

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Rights groups sue US government to reveal Muslim surveillance

October 26, 2019

Trump officials have in the past told border officials to surveil Muslim refugees on a 'long-term basis'.

A group of civil rights organisations have filed a lawsuit to force the United States government to release documents related to the surveillance and investigation of refugees, according to documents filed in a US court.

The organisations, which included the International Refugee Assistance Project (IRAP), Muslim Advocates (MA) and the American Civil Liberties Union of California (ACLU) filed the lawsuit in a court in northern California, citing the “virulent anti-refugee rhetoric” of the administration of US President Donald Trump, which claims asylum seekers are “national security threats”, the suit, filed on October 21, alleges.

“The Trump Administration’s xenophobic rhetoric and policies, including monitoring of refugees and immigrants living in this country has sown fear in the community,” said Melissa Keaney, Senior Litigation Staff Attorney for IRAP, said in a statement delivered to TRT World.

“Through this litigation we hope to shed light on government surveillance of refugee communities and demonstrate the pernicious effect these policies are having.”

The lawsuit uses regulations from the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), which aims to “promote government accountability through transparency”.

It’s been over six months since the defendants, including the FBI, the Departments of Justice, State and Homeland Security, received the FOIA request, without a single disclosure, the lawsuit alleges.

‘Discrimination, hate and violence’

Trump ran his 2016 election with rhetoric called “racist” by critics, promising to end “illegal” immigration and pause asylum. After he assumed office in January 2017, Trump signed an executive order that came to be know as the “Muslim ban”, pausing entry for people from seven predominately Muslim nations.

Trump has been accused of promoting a climate of Islamophobia through his divisive comments since he was elected. Critics point to his retweeting of Jayda Fransen, leader of far-right Britain First who has been convicted of hate crimes.

Britain First has called the UK’s Muslim population a “mosque invasion” and Fransen has appeared on at least one Neo-Nazi radio progamme. 

Some, including Somali-American Congresswoman Ilhan Omar, have said Trump “publicly says Islam hates us, who fuels hate against Muslims, who thinks it is OK to speak about a faith and a whole community in a way that is dehumanizing, vilifying”.

The US president came under particular fire after the mosque shooting in Christchurch, New Zealand, when 49 people were killed by a white nationalist shooter who cited Trump as a “symbol” of renewed white identity.

The White House denied any connection to the shooting, saying Trump is not a white nationalist.

“President Trump continues to encourage discrimination, hate and violence against refugees and American Muslims,” Matt Callahan, Staff Attorney for MA, said in a statement. “Bigoted policies like the Muslim Ban and the severe crackdown on refugee admissions have had a terrible human toll.”

“The American people deserve to know the truth about this administration's other efforts to discriminate against refugees."

Declining numbers, increasing difficulty

While the US previously led the world in refugee acceptance, the Trump administration has set historically low caps on the number of asylum seekers allowed to settle in the country.

The US accepted roughly 67,000 refugees a year between fiscal years 2008 and 2017. The Trump administration allowed in roughly 22,500 refugees during its first year and 30,000 its second, according to Pew Research’s review of US government data.

For fiscal year 2020, which began on October 1, Trump set a cap of 18,000 refugees.

The religious makeup of the refugees is also increasingly Christian: 79 percent of refugees admitted in the fiscal year 2019 were Christian.

While Christian refugees are normally the majority, Muslims typically make up between 30 and 40 percent of refugee acceptance, with a high of 46 percent in 2016.

Since the fiscal year 2002, the US has accepted 464,700 Christian refugees and about 310,700 Muslim refugees, Pew said.

According to the ACLU, the Muslim refugees who are accepted face further challenges.

Trump stated in the past that mosques should be surveilled and a January 2018 report drafted by the Department of Homeland Security told US Customs and Border Protection that Muslim immigrants should be monitored on a “long-term basis”.

Lawsuits out of New York and other states filed by the ACLU show that local law enforcement has monitored Muslim populations, at times in violation of the law.

Full report at:

https://www.trtworld.com/americas/rights-groups-sue-us-government-to-reveal-muslim-surveillance-30832

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Canadian government funded ‘Muslim voting guide’

October 26, 2019

The Canadian government has funded the publication of a Muslim voting guide by Wilfrid Laurier University’s Canadian Islamophobia Industry Research Project.

Andrew Lawton

@AndrewLawton

Government funding went towards publication of this "Muslim Voting Guide" by Wilfrid Laurier University's Canadian Islamophobia Industry Research Project. The document's stated purpose was to steer Muslims' votes. Government funding to win votes. https://scholars.wlu.ca/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1012&context=soci_faculty …

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The “Canadian Muslim Voting Guide: Federal Election 2019” was released roughly three days before the federal election, on October 18th.

The guide’s preparation page shows its funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC), a federal agency.

Shockingly, the guide lists six issues as deeply important to Muslims, and grades each leader qualitatively.

The alt-right and Islamaphobia, M103, religious freedoms in Quebec (Bill 21), immigration and refugees, the BDS movement and foreign policy.

The grading is incredibly vague and some of them are misleading.

According to the guide, “the criteria used to determine these grades has been based on whether a party leader’s particular political standpoints and/or policy initiatives are positive or detrimental to the interests of Canadian Muslims and the wider geopolitical concerns that affect Muslims globally.”

Oddly, Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer was graded an “F” on immigration and alt-right groups despite there being no evidence he supports extremists groups (he’s actually condemned them) and his immigration platform was very similar to that of the Liberals. Meanwhile, the government’s own internal polling showed the majority of Canadians are not pleased with Trudeau’s lax attitude toward the open border, yet still received a passing grade.

While aiming to “inform” Muslim voters, the guide appears to fall short on multiple instances with the most important being the lack of information behind how these six issues became the most important to Canadian Muslims or how exactly these grades were determined. Where data was used, it appears it was top-line, involving polls of the general population rather than of actual Muslims.

Understandably, Quebec’s Vill 21 was included an issue, but where were the other issues that matter even more such as economic integration, climate change, or housing prices?

Muslims by the nature of being Muslims do not stop being everyday citizens. The issues that matter to Canadians in many cases also matter to us with perhaps a caveat here or there.

The research did not just ignore key issues like the economy, it also poorly explained the ones it set out to talk about such as how Muslims experience hate.

The guide interestingly ignores left-wing extremism but focuses on the alt-right, seemingly forgetting that Quebec Solidaire supported Bill 21, and communism at its core rejects all religions.

While the lack of information on key issues is problematic, the number of enemies the guide creates is perhaps the most worrying for both the government and Muslims in Canada.

Within its pages, the guide brings BDS forward as a top-six issue, while also claiming that Zionist and Christian ideologies were fomenting hate against Muslims.

Both of these claims are serious problems as they create division between Muslims and other religious groups while also creating an image where Canadian Muslims stand in clear contrast with virtually every party in the country.

In 2016, the House overwhelmingly voted to condemn BDS, as well as “all attempts by Canadian organizations, groups or individuals to promote the BDS Movement, both here at home and abroad.”

With so much controversy you’d imagine at least some level of polling would be done to determine how Canadian Muslims stood on this issue.

None was found in the report.

Following the release of the report, multiple Jewish groups voiced serious concern regarding the inclusion of government funds with a guide that involves support for “anti-Semitic BDS.”

CIJA

@CIJAinfo

We have become aware of a document entitled “Canadian Muslim Voting Guide: Federal Election 2019” that includes Pass-Fail grades for Federal Party leaders around a series of issues, including support for the antisemitic BDS movement.

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B'nai Brith Canada

@bnaibrithcanada

BREAKING: B’nai Brith Canada is deeply concerned after learning that a federal grant was used to produce a guide instructing Canadian Muslims on how to vote in last Monday's national election.https://www.bnaibrith.ca/b_nai_brith_canada_disturbed_by_federal_funding_for_anti_israel_voting_guide …

B'nai Brith Canada Disturbed by Federal Funding for Anti-Israel “Voting Guide”

B’nai Brith Canada is deeply concerned after learning that a federal grant was used to produce a guide instructing Canadian Muslims on how to vote in last Monday's national election.

bnaibrith.ca

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With so much blow-back, it may be wise for the government to ban future voting guides which could treat vast swaths of the population as unable to make up their own minds.

Full report at:

https://www.thepostmillennial.com/canadian-government-funded-muslim-voting-guide/

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Supreme Court rejects case of Christian teen forced to write Islamic conversion prayer

October 26, 2019

One of the religious liberty cases the Supreme Court Justices won't be hearing this term is the issue of Maryland High School student Caleigh Wood, who refused to take part in a school assignment to write the Islamic conversion prayer that states “… there is no god but Allah,” because she believed it directly contradicted her Christian faith.

The High Court denied a petition filed on behalf of the 11th grader, angering one conservative commentator who saw it as caving in to the indoctrination in schools and on college campuses.

“This is not just a violation of the First Amendment but an ongoing, albeit subtle, diffusion of Islam in our Western society," the Rev. Mario Alex Protello wrote.

Richard Thompson, president and chief counsel of Thomas More Law Center, which filed the petition on Wood’s behalf said, “The schools are promoting Islam over Christianity or any other religion, and you have a double standard, which we think is a violation of the establishment clause.”  Thompson also said in the firm’s press release, “Under the pretext of teaching history or social studies, public schools across America are promoting the religion of Islam in ways that would never be tolerated for Christianity or any other religion.”

Thompson said that on top of getting an F in the class, Wood was also made to watch a pro-Islam “PowerPoint presentation that denigrated her religion and basically said that Christians are not as faithful as Muslims. So we strongly believed that this was a violation.”

The Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in February that the assignment to write the Islamic conversion prayer ... did not violate the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment.

Charles County Public Schools released a statement after the Supreme Court's denial saying, “The decision reaffirms a favorable U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit ruling earlier this year that the school did not “impermissibly endorse any religion and did not compel Wood to profess any belief.”

One Muslim scholar strongly disagrees. Zuhdi Jasser, president of the American Islamic Forum for Democracy, said: “They made this the student recite the Islamic call to call of witness a prayer, which makes her a Muslim. That's absurd.”

Jasser said the High Court should have taken the case. He said it would have been an opportunity to challenge the ideologies of a brand of Islam that has produced ISIS and other terror groups.

Full report at:

https://www.foxnews.com/faith-values/supreme-court-rejects-case-of-christian-teen-forced-to-write-islamic-conversion-prayer

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US senator asks whether Trump interfered with court case on Turkey's Halkbank

Oct 25, 2019

A top Democratic senator on Thursday questioned whether US President Donald Trump interfered with a criminal investigation into Turkey's Halkbank, which has been accused of conspiring to evade sanctions against Iran.

Oregon Senator Ron Wyden, ranking member on the Senate finance committee, wrote to US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin.

Mr Wyden asked if Mr Trump or anyone acting on the president's behalf had asked him to "handle, intervene or otherwise engage with Turkish concerns related to Halkbank, or with Halkbank generally?"

The letter quoted an October 16 Bloomberg report, in which Mr Trump told Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in April that Mr Mnuchin and US Attorney General William Barr would handle the Halkbank issue.

Mr Wyden said he expected an answer by November 20.

US federal prosecutors in Manhattan this month charged Turkey's second-largest state bank with fraud and money laundering, other sanctions-related offences, and using sham food and gold transactions to get around US sanctions.

Halkbank has denied the charges.

The US court case has further strained tensions between Turkey and America, which have been at odds over issues including Ankara's Syria incursion and purchase of a Russian missile defence system.

The charges against Halkbank are the latest development in a US criminal case that became public in 2016 with the arrest in Miami of Reza Zarrab, a Turkish-Iranian gold trader accused of playing a central role in a sanctions evasion scheme.

Mehmet Hakan Atilla, a Halkbank deputy general manager, was arrested in New York the following year. He was sentenced to 32 months in prison after his conviction and was released and returned to Turkey this year.

Mr Zarrab pleaded guilty and testified for US prosecutors at Atilla's trial.

Before pleading guilty he hired Rudy Giuliani, a longtime associate of the president, to try to negotiate a deal between the US and Turkish governments to secure his release.

Mr Zarrab said that Iran, with the help of Halkbank and Turkish government officials including Mr Erdogan, used a complex web of shell companies and sham transactions in gold, food and medicine to get around US sanctions.

Turkish officials raised Halkbank in their discussions with Americans this week, US Vice President Mike Pence said in Ankara after the talks.

Full report at:

https://www.thenational.ae/world/the-americas/us-senator-asks-whether-trump-interfered-with-court-case-on-turkey-s-halkbank-1.928275

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US meets China, Russia and Pakistan to talk Afghan peace

26 October 2019

Representatives of Russia, China, the US and Pakistan have agreed that negotiation is the only road to peace in Afghanistan, including an early resumption of direct US talks with the Taliban.

The day-long talks in Moscow on Friday came ahead of an intra-Afghan dialogue to be hosted by China. The Beijing talks, which initially were to be held next week, have been postponed, according to officials familiar with the talks. Speaking on condition they not be identified because of they were not authorized to talk about the subject, they said the postponement would be brief but no new date was given.

When the China talks take place, they will be the first face-to-face discussions between Afghan warring sides since July. Even President Ashraf Ghani, who has objected to any talks not led by his government, said late Friday that he would send representatives.

There has been no official announcement of a postponement, but previous intra-Afghan talks have been delayed while both sides squabbled over participants.

Earlier on Friday, a government official, who also spoke on condition of anonymity for the same reason, had said Ghani was opposed to participation in the talks.

It wasn’t clear what changed Ghani’s mind or whether he had requested a postponement, but a number of prominent Afghans from Kabul are expected to attend the China meeting, including former President Hamid Karzai, who has been a strong proponent of direct talks with the Taliban. He participated in earlier sessions of talks with the Taliban held in Moscow.

The Taliban delegation to China will be led by Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, co-founder of the movement, who spent eight years in a Pakistani jail after he secretly opened peace talks in 2010 with Karzai, who was president at the time. Baradar was arrested in a joint American CIA and Pakistani anti-terrorism agency operation. Neither Pakistan nor the US were ready for peace talks with the Taliban in 2010, Karzai previously told The Associated Press.

The Taliban are the strongest they have been since being ousted in 2001 by a US-led coalition holding sway in nearly 50 percent of the country.

In a draft statement released at the end of Friday’s meeting in Moscow, China, Russia and Pakistan called on Washington to return to the negotiation table with the Taliban and sign an agreement that will set the stage for Afghans on both sides of the protracted conflict to start face-to-face negotiations on what a post-war Afghanistan would look like.

After nearly a year of direct talks, US envoy Zalmay Khalilzad had all but signed a peace deal with the Taliban until President Donald Trump in September declared the talks dead after a series of Taliban attacks killed several people, including a US soldier.

It’s not clear what it would take for Trump to agree to restart talks, but the US president has insisted he wants American troops out of Afghanistan and an end to American involvement in what has become their longest military engagement.

Trump has vowed at recent rallies to make good on his 2016 campaign promise to end American involvement in what he has described as endless wars, including Afghanistan, generating fears among some observers of a surprise tweet suddenly ordering troops home.

Friday’s statement called for a reduction in violence, which some observers say might convince Trump to agree to renewed talks.

Full report at:

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/world/2019/10/26/US-meets-China-Russia-and-Pakistan-to-talk-Afghan-peace.html

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Pakistan

 

It’s time to resolve Kashmir dispute justly, President Alvi tells NAM summit

October 26, 2019

BAKU: President Dr Arif Alvi Friday while calling Indian unilateral actions in Jammu and Kashmir ‘illegal, immoral and unethical’ said that it was time to resolve the internationally recognized Kashmir dispute justly and peacefully.

Addressing the 18th Summit of the 120-member Non-Aligned Movement here, the president said that the Indian actions of August 5, 2019 designed to alter the disputed status of Jammu and Kashmir and change its demographical composition and identity constituted to a willful violation of the UN Security Council’s resolutions and international law.

Started on Friday, the two-day summit is being attended by the dignitaries from around 60 countries, including Venezuela, Iran, Pakistan, Cuba, Afghanistan and several African countries, besides the representatives from international organizations. The NAM covers 55 percent of the world’s population.

The president told the international gathering that the people of Jammu and Kashmir remained subjected to the foreign occupation for over seven decades.

He said the Indian actions in Jammu and Kashmir represented a direct assault on the Kashmir’s right to self determination which were illegal, immoral and unethical. He said such draconian measures found no parallel in this age and time.

The president said that the denial of Kashmiris’ right to self determination and mischievous attempt to associate their legitimate struggle with terrorism had run their course.

He believed that the self-serving tactics could not weaken the resolve of Kashmiri people to continue their struggle for inalienable rights guaranteed under international laws and consistently reaffirmed by the movement.

The president said that the lasting peace in the region could only be achieved through the resolution of outstanding disputes which also hindered the growth and realization of countries’ true economic potential.

He said the sustainable development was linked to peace and security and Pakistan had been an advocate and practitioner of this integrated approach.

He said that consistent with its vision for Naya Pakistan, the government had fully integrated the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) into its national development plans.

He said the government had launched Ehsaas Program designed to provide social security nets, alleviate poverty, enhance investments in universal health and education without which no country could prosper.

The president said the endeavors to achieve the SDGs would fail unless the structural causes of poverty were also addressed among and within the countries.

He said it was imperative that international trade was free and fair for all the nations, investment should be made profitable for all partners and weak and disadvantaged nations and communities must be supported to eradicate poverty.

While reiterating Pakistan’s policy of peaceful neighborhood, the president said that the government’s vision of peaceful development would continue to guide its efforts to help create an environment that fostered cooperation and development.

He said Pakistan had demonstrated this commitment by facilitating political settlement in Afghanistan by supporting an Afghan-led and Afghan-owned peace process.

He said Pakistan remained concerned about the evolving developments in the Middle East and Gulf region and was endeavoring to facilitate a process to help ease tension and resolve differences through political and diplomatic means.

https://www.pakistantoday.com.pk/2019/10/25/alvi-meets-iranian-counterpart-says-two-countries-need-to-fully-utilise-trade-potential/

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Pakistani women's rights activist Gulalai Ismail condemns 'criminal silence' of Pak media over abduction of her father

Oct 25, 2019

WASHINGTON: Pakistani women's rights activist Gulalai Ismail on Friday condemned the "criminal silence" of mainstream Pakistani media on the abduction of her father.

"Around 19 hours ago my father was abducted from the premises of Peshawar High court, but there's a pin drop silence on mainstream Pakistani media. I've run out of words to condemn the criminal silence of media; it has become an ally of military in imposing unannounced martial law," she said in a tweet.

Gulalai Ismail, who is currently in the US on Thursday said that her father was picked up by "men wearing militia dress" in Peshawar.

"My father has been picked up by men wearing Militia dress from outside of Peshawar High Court an hour ago," Ismail had tweeted.

Expressing concern over the 'detention' of Pakistani women's rights activist Gulalai Ismail's father in Pakistan and continued harassment faced by her family, US on Friday urged Islamabad to uphold the rights of citizens.

"We are concerned by reports of the continued harassment of Gulalai Ismail's family, and her father's detention today. We encourage Pakistan to uphold citizens' rights to peaceful assembly, expression, and due process," Acting Assistant Secretary Alice Wells said, according to a tweet by Bureau of South and Central Asian Affairs.

Retweeting it, Ismail wrote, "U.S State department is concerned about the detention of my father. By persecuting citizens for exercising their human rights Pakistan is damaging its own reputation."

Ismail termed the abduction of her father in Peshawar an attempt to terrorise the women of Pakistan and others who dare to use their "conditional rights".

"Abduction of my father is an attempt to terrorise women of Pakistan who've got fathers' backs; to stifle dissent, to terrorise people who dare use their conditional rights," the women's rights activist said in another tweet.

Full report at:

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/pakistan/pakistani-womens-rights-activist-gulalai-ismail-condemns-criminal-silence-of-pak-media-over-abduction-of-her-father/articleshow/71754809.cms

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Sheikh Rashid sees imminent threat of war with India

By Shahram Haq

October 25, 2019

LAHORE: Minster for Railways Sheikh Rashid has said there is a high threat of Indian attack on Pakistan since tensions between the two neighbouring countries are still escalating due to Kashmir issue.

“Indian agents may spoil the law and order situation when Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazal (JUI-F) led anti-government Azadi march will kick off from Balochistan,” Rashid said on Friday while addressing media at railways headquarters in Lahore.

“The JUI-F chief Fazlur Rehman’s sit-in [in Islamabad] might give an opportunity to India to create unrest in the country. The threat is not restricted to Islamabad, however,” he added.

Rashid said Maulana is among those personalities whose were against the creation of Pakistan.

“He visited the Golden Temple in India but never goes to the shrine of Quaid-e-Azam or Allama Iqbal. It is clear that who is financing his dharna [sit-in].”

According to Rashid, India is happy with the internal rifts in Pakistan.

“This dharna has diverted the entire attention of Pakistani media away from Kashmir crisis. Local as well as Indian media are more interested in covering dharna and other such issues.”

He said Fazl has played a smart move by announcing dates of his protest and sit-in.

“Tableeghi Jamaat’s congregation in Raiwind will be ending in these dates and people who intend to participate in that congregation, largely from Khyber Pakhtunkwa (K-P), will be on their way back.

“The roadblock and other issues might turn them against the government. Maulana will be responsible for causing then inconvenience,” he said.

He said Fazl always runs with the hare and hunts with the hounds.  This sit-in politics is the biggest decision of his life and its results will be out before November 10, he said. Talking about the health issues of Former premier Nawaz Sharif, he said one should not politicise the health issues of anyone.

“Most of the politicians, even me, are between 65- to 70-year-old. They may get ill anytime. However, I say with confidence that Pakistan People’s Party Co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari is much more ill than Sharif, but he is not crying like Sharif and his party,” he said.

He said he wished for speedy recovery of Nawaz Sharif, but added that whenever prisoners like Nawaz get ill, they immediately get an opportunity to fly abroad.

Full report at:

https://tribune.com.pk/story/2087229/1-sheikh-rashid-sees-imminent-threat-war-india/

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Absence of prosecution team in Musharraf case no hurdle in way of verdict: ex-lead prosecutor

Nasir Iqbal

October 26, 2019

ISLAMABAD: Advocate Mohammad Akram Sheikh, the former head of the prosecution team appointed to prosecute former president and army chief retired Gen Pervez Musharraf, said on Friday that the special court was not denuded of its authority to pronounce a judgement despite withdrawal of the prosecution team in the high treason case.

Mr Sheikh was reacting to the federal government’s decision to withdraw the entire prosecution team engaged by the previous Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) government to prosecute Mr Musharraf for abrogating and subverting the Constitution by proclaiming Nov 3, 2007 emergency.

Earlier the special court had allowed Mr Sheikh to recuse as the prosecution head on Aug 28, 2018 on an application he moved soon after the formation of the PTI government.

The prosecution, the senior counsel commented while talking to Dawn, had already concluded its case as back as Sept 18, 2014. Even the outgoing prosecution team had submitted their written arguments on the earlier date and the case was fixed for Oct 24 only for a ceremonial hearing of verbal submissions, if any, required by the court, he recalled.

Moreover, the Special Court Amendment Act, 1976, does not provide any formality after conclusion of the prosecution case and the judges comprising the special court were absolutely within their power and competence to announce their judgement, the counsel suggested.

In this case, the defence team of Mr Musharraf as well as the prosecution had adequately been heard not only orally but also by written arguments, he said.

It is, therefore, under no obligation to adjourn the case besides the court is fully competent to pronounce its judgement on the merits of the case as had been concluded by evidence of the witnesses and cross-examined at length by the counsel for Mr Musharraf, he said.

During the lengthy period of five years and ten months while this case was hanging in fire, the prosecution as well as the interior ministry, as it then comprised, brought the issue of withdrawal of the prosecution, examined by reputable experts but came to the conclusion that since the amended Article 6(2) of the constitution includes aides and abettors, the act of the withdrawal of the complaint may not fall within its mischief.

In his view, the event of Oct 24 was a sad day in the constitutional and judicial history of Pakistan, since the completed trial of the high treason despite repeated assurances by the highest judicial and executive echelons could not see its meritorious conclusion and had to be technically knocked out by withdrawing the prosecution team, he regretted.

Another important feature of this case is that Mr Musharraf was allowed to leave Pakistan on March 16, 2015 to be operated upon in the United Arab Emirates for his back pain as he was in a very precarious condition and the five-judge Supreme Court bench headed by then chief justice Anwar Zaheer Jamali allowed the petition permitting Mr Musharraf to have his treatment abroad.

Mr Sheikh emphasised that the rule of law, equal protection of law and separation of power were not the cornerstones of our democratic polity without which neither democracy nor the country could envision a greater and a brighter future.

His point of view was also supported by Pakistan Bar Council (PBC) vice chairman Syed Amjad Shah who alleged that the withdrawal of the prosecution team in the treason case in fact was a tester to vouch for the reaction of people.

Eventually the federal government is going to withdraw the complaint before the special court, he feared, adding that in case of such a situation, the bar councils of the country will resist with full force and will also launch a joint countrywide campaign to aware people of this country what had been transpired since Mr Musharraf had abrogated the constitution — an act not pardonable at any cost.

The outgoing president of the Supreme Court Bar Association, Amanullah Kanrani, however, said that the withdrawal of the prosecution team was something between the client and the counsel.

Full report at:

https://www.dawn.com/news/1512978/absence-of-prosecution-team-in-musharraf-case-no-hurdle-in-way-of-verdict-ex-lead-prosecutor

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Gulalai Ismail's father sent on 14-day judicial remand

October 25, 2019

Rights activist Gulalai Ismail's father, Professor Muhammad Ismail, was sent to jail on 14-day judicial remand on Friday, a day after his daughter alleged that he had been picked up from outside the Peshawar High Court (PHC) by "men wearing Malitia (sic) dress".

Professor Ismail's lawyer, Fazal Khan, told DawnNewsTV that the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) Peshawar had arrested his client after registering a First Information Report (FIR) against him under the Pakistan Electronic Crimes Act (Peca) 2016.

Khan said that his client was produced before judicial magistrate Naveedullah today, where the court rejected FIA's request for physical remand and instead sent him on a 14-day judicial remand. He added that they would soon file a bail application.

The lawyer said that on Thursday his client was at the PHC for another case.

"At around 4:30pm he left the high court building and was picked up by some unknown men and shifted to [an] unknown location," Khan claimed.

Case registered

The FIR, a copy of which was seen by Dawn.com, was registered against Professor Ismail under Sections 10 and 11 of Peca 2016 read with Section 109 of the Pakistan Penal Code at FIA Cyber Crime Circle in Peshawar.

The case was registered after a complaint was received against Ismail by persons namely Sajid Iqbal, Ali Ahmad, Riazur Rehman and Walid Mir on October 8.

“The complaint is regarding ... hate speech and fake information against government institutions of Pakistan on Facebook and Twitter,” according to the FIR.

It said the professor's Facebook and Twitter IDs, passwords and a mobile phone were seized by the FIA.

US 'concerned'

Earlier on Friday, Gulalai via Twitter said she had received information that her father had been brought to the court premises.

On Friday morning, US Assistant Secretary of State Alice G. Wells, who is also the in-charge of South Asia affairs at the US State Department, had expressed concern over "reports of the continued harassment" of Gulalai's family and her father's detention. "We encourage Pakistan to uphold citizens’ rights to peaceful assembly, expression, and due process," Wells said in a post shared on Twitter.

In September, the New York Times reported, Gulalai escaped Pakistani authorities the previous month and had reached the United States, where she applied for political asylum.

Read: Activist Gulalai Ismail 'escapes' to New York, applies for political asylum

Gulalai is an international award-winning activist and a prominent member of the Pashtun Tahaffuz Movement (PTM) group who had been campaigning for the rights of women and the ethnic Pashtun minority.

She had not disclosed how she managed to leave the country. All she revealed was: "I didn’t fly out of any airport."

"I can’t tell you any more," NYT quoted her as saying during an interview. "My exit story will put many lives at risk."

Full report at:

https://www.dawn.com/news/1512843/gulalai-ismails-father-sent-on-14-day-judicial-remand

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Scotland Yard grants relief to Altaf Hussain

October 26, 2019

Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) founder Altaf Hussain has been granted some relief by the Scotland Yard as he can now contact his party workers and use social media as long as he refrains from discussing his case, a local media outlet reported on Friday.

This relaxation in bail conditions comes two weeks after a UK court imposed strict conditions on the MQM founder after he was changer under a terrorism section. This development was further confirmed by his tweet, which he posted soon after being allowed to do so.

Reportedly, after Altaf’s lawyers assured the police that their client would abide by the conditions, the police also took away the tag which was tied to his ankles to track his movement. In case the MQM founder fails to comply, tough bail conditions will be restored.

On October 10, the MQM founder was charged with a terrorism offence in a case related to his incendiary speech relayed from the United Kingdom (UK) to his followers in Pakistan on August 22, 2016.

The MQM founder was taken into police custody and was produced before the Westminster Magistrates’ Court.

Hussain had appeared before Judge Emma Arbuthnot wearing dark glasses and holding a paper, as the charge against him was read out. He had pleaded not guilty.

The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) had asked for Hussain to be granted conditional bail. The conditions sought had included a restriction on Hussain not to broadcast any message, either video or audio, via social media, radio, TV, or internet to people in the UK or overseas concerning this case or comment on the political situation in Pakistan.

Hussain’s lawyer Kate Goold had informed the judge that her client was “gravely unwell”.

After he was informed of the bail conditions, Hussain while addressing the judge, had said, “It is a daily routine to arrest my MQM workers […] thousands of my workers have been disappeared and killed and you are putting a condition; if people are killed how can I keep quiet?”

Later in the day, Hussain was granted conditional bail.

The judge imposed a night curfew on him, which means he was not allowed to leave his premises at night without informing the police. He had also been restrained from making speeches to the media or using social media.

Full report at:

https://www.pakistantoday.com.pk/2019/10/25/scotland-yard-grants-relief-to-altaf-hussain/

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PM urges nation to pay taxes to build Pakistan

October 26, 2019

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan on Friday urged citizens to play their role in the country’s progress and development by paying due taxes.

Speaking to the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) and National Database Registration Authority (NADRA) chairpersons, the premier emphasised the need for broadening the country’s tax base in order to provide the masses with the best facilities.

“Expanding the tax base will help cut the burden of additional taxes and provide educational, health and basic facilities in far-flung areas,” Prime Minister Khan said, calling the tax payment a national duty.

He said it is vital to restore taxpayers’ trust in the tax authority, calling for making the tax system transparent.

At the meeting, the prime minister and the FBR and NADRA chiefs discussed tax measures to widen the tax net.

Earlier, on Oct 22, PM Khan had said the country’s economy was on the path of stability following the concrete steps taken by the incumbent government.

He was chairing a meeting of the government’s spokespersons in the federal capital to discuss government narrative in view of the current political situation.

Full report at:

https://www.pakistantoday.com.pk/2019/10/25/pm-urges-nation-to-pay-taxes-to-build-pakistan/

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Govt to allow Azadi March if SC orders: Rasheed

October 26, 2019

LAHORE: Minister for Railways Sheikh Rasheed Ahmed on Friday said that the permission of organizing Azadi March will be given if the Supreme Court orders the government to do so.

While addressing a press conference in Lahore, Rasheed said that the people heading towards Raiwind ijtema are those willing to serve Islam, whereas, Maulana Fazlur Rehman is departing for Islamabad to “create anarchy”.

“Raiwind ijtema is attended by thousands of people every year and this year, the citizens to depart for their participation on October 30, 31,” he said.

The minister said that Prime Minister Imran will complete his tenure and the country will achieve prosperity and development targets under his leadership.

“The government is ready to give the face-saving opportunity to Azadi March over the directives of the Supreme Court and its orders will be respected. However, the law will make its way if the SC’s directions were violated.”

He said that Fazlur Rehman is deceiving the other two opposition parties.

Rasheed said that the politics of the two opposition parties has ended. “My sources said that the decision will be made till November 9 against what Maulana is going to do,” he said.

While detailing the ML-1 project, the railway minister announced that the government will commence development work on the project which would create 100,000 jobs.

Rasheed said that the ministry has increased salaries of railway police up to 50 percent. He added that 872-kilometer lines have been included in PC-1 planning and the development work on ML-1 will start from next year.

“138 passengers trains and 16 freight trains are running in the country while the ministry has allowed private companies to use railway tracks.”

Full report at:

https://www.pakistantoday.com.pk/2019/10/25/govt-to-allow-azadi-march-if-sc-orders-rasheed/

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Southeast Asia

 

Suspected Islamic State Recruiter Arrested In The Maldives

October 24, 2019

Police in the Indian Ocean archipelago of the Maldives have detained a local man who the United States says is a recruiter for the Islamic State (IS) militant group.

Muhammad Ameen, 35, was arrested on October 23 on suspicion of spreading an "extremist ideology," Maldivian police said the following day.

He allegedly mobilized fighters for IS in Syria and Afghanistan.

No further details were provided about the suspect although U.S. authorities last month designated him as a foreign terrorist leader of IS-Khorasan, a group that is reportedly active in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Citing local media, AFP reported that Ameen first sent fighters to Syria, but was now focused on recruiting Maldivians for combat in Afghanistan.

He is also suspected of involvement in an explosion at Sultan Park in the capital of Male in September 2007 in which a dozen tourists were hurt with minor injuries.

Up to 160 Maldivian militants are believed to be held in Syrian detention camps after IS was defeated in the country.

The country’s parliamentary speaker and former president, Muhammad Nasheed, said in June that he wants to rehabilitate the imprisoned Maldivians but not without an internationally supervised reintegration program.

The Maldives is a state of 340,000 mostly Sunni Muslims who practice a liberal form of Islam in a nation that relies heavily on luxury tourism for revenue.

https://www.rferl.org/a/suspected-islamic-state-recruiter-arrested-in-the-maldives/30234732.html

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Cabinet gives green light to new Islamic administrative policy paper

By Azura Abas

October 25, 2019

PUTRAJAYA: The Cabinet today endorsed the country’s new Islamic administrative policy paper, based on the Rahmah principles.

Rahmah stands for six qualities: amicable (ramah), peaceful (aman), harmonious (harmoni), genial (mesra), universal (alami) and respectful (hormat).

Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Seri Mujahid Yusof Rawa said the policy paper gave emphasis to the “Rahmatan lil Alamin” (Mercy to all creation) concept.

“It is a concept that is universal, inclusive, transparent and will produce a harmonious society of various backgrounds, races and faiths,” he said.

“Rahmatan lil Alamin’ has been approved by the Rulers’ Council and has also been approved via a meeting of the Islamic National Council for Islamic Religious Affairs Malaysia, which was chaired by Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad on March 14.

The concept, which is based on “Maqasid Syariah” (goals and objectives of Syariah) and the Malaysian Model that is suited with the situation as well as Malaysians’ customs and culture, will hopefully, become a global benchmark in the future.

“With this policy, we hope there will be a positive change of perspective towards Islam, which is now being greatly tested with extremism and Islamophobia.

“Also, it is hoped that it will have positive impact on the people and this country from the aspects of social wellbeing, prosperity and unity,” he said.

Mujahid also said that all of these were in line with the Pakatan Harapan (PH) manifesto and the recently launched Shared Prosperity Vision 2030.

He said the Malaysian Islamic Development Department (Jakim) would be the implementation agency and all other relevant agencies would be tasked to execute the policy based on their respective fields.

“The Islamic administration will also work with other ministries in fields with shared interests.

Full report at:

https://www.nst.com.my/news/government-public-policy/2019/10/533306/cabinet-gives-green-light-new-islamic-administrative

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PM: Malaysia to open embassy accredited to Palestine in Jordan

25 Oct 2019

BAKU, Oct 25 — Malaysia is to open an embassy accredited to Palestine to enable it to extend aid to the Palestinians more easily, Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad announced here tonight.

The embassy will be set up in Jordan, he said when addressing leaders and representatives from 120 member countries of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) at the 18th NAM summit here.

“We know that Israel will not allow Malaysia to open an embassy in the Occupied Territory. As such, we will open the embassy in Jordan,” Dr Mahathir said.

The 94-year-old prime minister said the opening of the accredited embassy would allow Malaysia to extend aid to the Palestinians more easily, although he acknowledged that Israel will find a way to ensure no aid reaches Palestine.

“I would also like to bring to this occasion on the fate that awaits our poor Palestinian brothers. Palestine remains occupied by a brutal regime. This regime continues to expand illegal settlements on land that rightfully belongs to the Palestinians,” he said.

He said the international community is doing nothing and is unable to take action despite Israel continuing to choke the life out of Palestine and the Palestinians.

“It is unfortunate that a world organisation set up by powerful nations now sees those very people ignoring the resolutions of that world body. Now we see others doing the same,” he added.

He said Israel has announced that it intends to annex parts of the West Bank — a move that clearly violates international law, as well as claiming Jerusalem as its capital.

“Many western countries are supporting this move by relocating or vowing to relocate their embassies there. Malaysia does not agree with this,” he said.

Dr Mahathir also took the opportunity to urge NAM member countries that have relocated to Jerusalem or are planning to do so to reconsider their decision.

There are more than 30 diplomatic offices and international organisations in Palestine’s Ramallah and Gaza.

Palestine currently has an embassy in Kuala Lumpur while the Ambassador of Malaysia to Egypt is accredited to Palestine.

In a speech at the United Nations last month, Dr Mahathir had said that Malaysia cannot accept the blatant seizure of Palestine land by Israel for their settlements as well as the occupation of Jerusalem by Israel.

Full report at:

https://www.malaymail.com/news/malaysia/2019/10/25/pm-malaysia-to-open-embassy-accredited-to-palestine/1803763

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Jakarta Halal Things to highlight burgeoning Islamic tourism

October 26, 2019

The second installment of Jakarta Halal Things, a halal lifestyle event, is slated to run in the Senayan City shopping mall in Jakarta on Dec. 7 and 8.

Themed “Halal for Everyone”, the event returns with an exhibition and conferences highlighting trending halal businesses, from tourism, food and beauty products to modest fashion and sharia financing.

Jakarta Halal Things co-chairman Desy Bachir said she hoped that everyone could experience the halal way of living.

“Halal has a good connotation,” said Desy, adding that in the previous event, not all visitors came wearing hijab and that halal was not considered an intimidating concept.

Temi Sumarlin, the event’s founder and CEO of Scarf Media, an online magazine covering modest fashion and halal lifestyles, said most Muslims have practiced halal lifestyles from a young age. However, more people began to appreciate halal lifestyles starting in 2010 with the rise of social media.

“People were exposed to [halal-related] information and there were movements in the Muslim communities,” she explained.

Among the lifestyle businesses, halal tourism is said to be one of the most popular.

“It’s trending all over the world, not only in Indonesia,” said Temi, saying that Taiwan had established a halal certification agency, while Japan introduced halal restaurants and prayer spaces to accommodate Muslim travelers.

Learning from the previous event, Temi mentioned that visitors showed great interest in halal lifestyle tourism, particularly halal travel packages to South Korea, Japan or Europe.

These packages come with guides who help to remind participants about the shalat praying time and show the way to prayer rooms.

“It turns out that Muslim travelers find it difficult to find prayer rooms when traveling abroad,” she said, adding that the tour guides also bring travelers to halal food joints.

In addition to popular destinations, last year’s visitors, who were mostly women aged between 20 and 40, were also interested in countries with a history of Islam.

Temi also said that there was room for improvement in the halal industry in Indonesia as a Muslim-dominated country.

She said that many still doubted the opportunity of halal industry.

In halal tourism, for example, Temi mentioned the lack of sharia hotels.

“The number of sharia hotels is still small, but there’s a big opportunity,” she said, adding that travelers from the Middle East were among those most attracted by sharia hotels.

Full report at:

https://www.thejakartapost.com/travel/2019/10/26/jakarta-halal-things-to-highlight-burgeoning-islamic-tourism.html

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Young Muslims in the west to get more and quicker help with new Mendaki centre in Jurong

OCT 25, 2019

SINGAPORE - Young Malay residents in the western part of Singapore will receive more and faster help with their studies, with self-help group Mendaki opening a new centre in Jurong on Friday (Oct 25).

The satellite centre is sited near such educational institutions as the National University of Singapore, Singapore Polytechnic and ITE College West, in the hope that it will become a "hub where students can come together to ideate and create projects that address community issues", said Minister-in-charge of Muslim Affairs and Mendaki chairman Masagos Zulkifli at its opening.

https://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/muslim-youths-in-western-part-of-singapore-to-get-more-and-quicker-help-with-opening-of

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108 ‘unfed and sick’ inmates freed from another Islamic school

October 25, 2019

LAGOS: Police in central Nigeria have rescued 108 “unfed and sick” inmates from a so-called reform centre, a spokesman said Friday, in the latest raid on Islamic institutes accused of abuse.

“Our men acted on intelligence reports and rescued 108 inmates from the centre on Thursday,” Kwara state police spokesman Okansanmi Ajayi told AFP.

He said those freed in the operation in the state capital, Ilorin, comprised 103 males and five females, aged between six and 45.

“Their appearances showed that they were kept in unhygenic conditions. They looked unfed and sick,” he said.

Religious institutions are common in mainly Muslim northern Nigeria, where there is a chronic lack of government services.

Many also operate as so-called reform centres, touted as a means to help parents wean their children off drug use and other behavioural problems in the absence of support from the state.

Ajayi said preliminary investigations indicated that some of the inmates had been living in the home for five years and had been brought there by their parents to learn the Koran and for reformation.

“We have arrested the operator with some of his children who were teaching at the centre and they are assisting us in our investigation,” he said.

Thursday’s raid was the latest crackdown on Islamic schools in Nigeria where inmates have been tortured, chained and sexually abused.

Full report at:

https://www.freemalaysiatoday.com/category/world/2019/10/25/108-unfed-and-sick-inmates-freed-from-another-islamic-school/

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Hasina talks Rohingya with Malaysia’s Mahathir, Iran’s Rouhani in Baku

26 Oct 2019

She met them separately on the sidelines of the 18th NAM Summit in Azerbaijan capital Baku on Friday.

Mahathir assured her of cooperation in resolving the crisis and holding those to accounr for “genocide of the Muslim ethnic minority in Myanmar”, Foreign Secretary Shahidul Haque told the press.

Other members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations or ASEAN, which includes Myanmar as well, will also do “whatever necessary” to resolve the crisis, Mahathir is saud to have said.

Shahidul quoted the Malaysian leader as saying they will continue operating a field hospital at the Rohingya refugee camp in Cox’s Bazar.

When Mahathir asked Hasina about her government’s plan to relocate 100,000 refugees to Bhasan Char, she described the security and other facilities in the island in the Bay of Bengal, the foreign secretary said.

Mahathir also said his government will consider taking more workers from Bangladesh.

Hasina urged him to take steps to increase Malaysian investment in Bangladesh.

In the meeting with Rouhani, the prime minister thanked the Iranian president for his country’s support for the Rohingya refugees.

The Iranian leader assured her of continued support and praised Bangladesh for sheltering the refugees.

She emphasised unity of the Muslim world in the meeting with Rouhani, Shahidul said.

“The Muslim world will emerge as a major power if we can unite by settling all the conflicts among us,” he quoted her as saying.

The two leaders agreed to work together to fight militancy.

She also held a meeting with Algeria’s Interim President Abdelkader Bensalah.

Full report at:

https://bdnews24.com/bangladesh/2019/10/26/hasina-talks-rohingya-with-malaysias-mahathir-irans-rouhani-in-baku

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Muslims in Thai south mark 15 years since Tak Bai 'massacre'

October 25, 2019

Muslims in the conflict-blistered Thai south on Friday marked with prayers the 15th anniversary of the deaths of scores of protesters who suffocated in army trucks, an incident that galvanised an insurgency and remains an emblem of state impunity.

Known across the south as the "Tak Bai massacre", the October 25, 2004 incident remains the deadliest day in the rebellion by Malay-Muslims against rule by the Thai state, which colonised the southern provinces bordering Malaysia over a century ago.

Seventy-eight people died from suffocation after they were arrested and stacked face down and hands bound behind their backs on top of each other in Thai military trucks.

Seven more were shot dead as security forces used live rounds on a large crowd of protesters who had gathered outside a police station calling for the release of several detainees.

Since then more than 7,000 people -- the majority civilians, both Muslim and Buddhist -- have died in near-daily shootings, ambushes and bomb blasts as rebels fight for greater autonomy from Thailand.

Despite the high death toll, the highly localised unrest garners few international headlines.

No members of the Thai security forces have been prosecuted over the Tak Bai incident, despite a government inquiry condemning the actions of security forces on the day.

Instead, Tak Bai has become synonymous with the lack of accountability in a region governed by emergency laws and flooded with army and police units -- and a powerful recruiting tool for the insurgency.

"Tak Bai was a massacre and a great tragedy. However, after 15 years of armed conflict, no government officials have been charged," Pornpen Khongkachonkiet, director of the Cross Cultural Foundation (CrCF) which works extensively on rights in the so-called "deep south", told AFP.

"That has proved impunity in the Thai judicial system is the greater tragedy."

Years of peace talks between the Thai state and a collage of rebel groups have fizzled and mistrust runs deep on both sides.

Malay Muslims, who have their own language and whose culture is distinct to that of Buddhist-majority Thailand, accuse security forces of routine abuses including prolonged and arbitrary detention without charge as well as extrajudicial killings.

The Thai side blames ruthless rebel cells for driving the tit-for-tat violence, which has seen scores of teachers killed as symbols of the state influence as well as bomb attacks on military patrols and raids on checkpoints.

The rebels, who operate in secretive local cells, have rarely taken their fight outside the "deep south" border zone.

Full report at:

https://www.thejakartapost.com/seasia/2019/10/25/muslims-in-thai-south-mark-15-years-since-tak-bai-massacre.html

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Arab World

 

At least 40 people killed as fresh protests engulf Iraq

25 October 2019

At least 40 protesters were killed in Iraq on Friday when security forces used tear gas and an Iranian-backed militia opened fire to try to quell renewed demonstrations against corruption and economic hardship, security sources said.

A government intelligence officer and a member of the powerful Asaib Ahl al-Haq militia were killed in a clash with protesters in the southern city of Amara, police sources said.

Nearly 1,800 people were injured nationally as demonstrators took to the streets to vent frustration at political elites they say have failed to improve their lives after years of conflict.

“All we want are four things: jobs; water, electricity, and safety. That’s all we want,” said 16-year-old Ali Mohammed who had covered his face with a T-shirt to avoid inhaling tear gas, as chaotic scenes overwhelmed Baghdad’s central Tahrir Square.

Sirens wailed and tear gas canisters landed in the middle of groups of young protesters wearing Iraqi flags and chanting “with life and blood we defend you Iraq.”

“All we want are four things: jobs; water, electricity, and safety. That’s all we want,” said 16-year-old Ali Mohammed who had covered his face with a T-shirt to avoid inhaling tear gas, as chaotic scenes overwhelmed Tahrir Square.

Sirens wailed and tear gas canisters landed in the middle of groups of young protesters wearing Iraqi flags and chanting “with life and blood we defend you Iraq.”

The bloodshed is the second major bout of violence this month. A series of clashes two weeks ago between protesters and security forces left 157 people dead and over 6,000 wounded.

The unrest has broken nearly two years of relative stability in Iraq, which lived through foreign occupation, civil war and an ISIS insurgency between 2003 and 2017. It is the biggest challenge to security since IS was declared beaten.

On Friday, eight protesters were killed in Baghdad, the Iraqi Human Rights Commission said. At least five of them were protesters struck by tear gas canisters in Baghdad, security sources said.

In the south, at least six protesters died when members of the Iranian-backed Asaib Ahl al-Haq militia guarding the group’s local office in Nasiriya city opened fire after protesters tried to set the office on fire, security sources said.

Eight people were killed in Amara city, including six protesters, one AAH member, and one intelligence officer, police sources said. One protester was killed in Samawa.

Interior Ministry spokesman Khalid al-Muhanna said at least 68 members of the security forces had also been injured.

The government has struggled to address popular grievances since sometimes violent demonstrations erupted in Baghdad on October 1, spreading to southern cities, in protest at what many see as a corrupt and incompetent political establishment.

The unrest has posed the biggest challenge to Prime Minister Adil Abdul Mahdi since he took office just one year ago. Despite promising reforms and a broad cabinet reshuffle, the premier has so far struggled to address protesters’ discontent.

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2019/10/25/Twenty-three-people-killed-as-fresh-protests-engulf-Iraq.html

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Hezbollah leader Nasrallah claims ‘specific, known parties’ are behind Lebanon’s protests

October 25, 2019

BEIRUT: As protests in Lebanon against institutional corruption and taxes entered their ninth day on Friday, both Hezbollah and the Free Patriotic Movement (FPM), founded by President Michel Aoun, increased their presence on the streets.

Supporters of the FPM gathered outside the Palace of Justice in defense of Aoun, and attempted to convince protesters that they shared the same goals, holding banners with slogans including “Your demands are the same as the FPM’s,” “Fighting corruption is done through the judiciary,” “Why don’t you protest the presence of 1.5 million Syrian refugees?” and “President Aoun is not corrupt. Focus on others.”

Hezbollah’s Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah claimed that the protests were being orchestrated by “specific, known political parties, powers, communities and institutions.”

Hezbollah supporters went to Riad Al-Solh Square — the center of the uprising in Beirut — where they threatened and intimidated protesters in an attempt to quash any criticism of Nasrallah, and led chants calling the head of the Lebanese Forces, Samir Geagea, a “terrorist.” They arrived overnight on Thursday, dressed in black shirts, and erected a tent in the square.

Arab News spoke to several protesters who called Nasrallah’s supporters “thugs.” One of them asked: “What brought Hezbollah here? This is not its place.”

Protesters then began chanting “All of them means all of them” — a chant signifying their intention to hold everyone in power accountable for Lebanon’s problems. One protester told Arab News, “Instead of standing by the people, Hezbollah is standing against them. It is a shame.” Another addressed Nasrallah directly, saying: “We love you. Why do you make us hate you and your supporters?”

One also said, “Without the people, neither Nasrallah nor anyone else would be here. This attack is unacceptable.” Another stressed: “The revolution will continue. They want it to fail, but this is not going to happen.”

Riot police intervened and clashed with Hezbollah’s supporters. Stones were thrown and batons were used. Several police were injured.

Hezbollah’s supporters eventually took control of the square, as one protester announced through a loudspeaker: “Whoever wants to cause trouble is not welcome among us. This square is open to everyone, but with respect.”

In a televised speech, Nasrallah said that the uprising may have started as a “spontaneous” movement, but that was no longer the case.

“It is now being managed, coordinated and funded,” he claimed. “The movement has entered the scope of regional political conflicts and is no longer limited to popular protests. This pushes us to question it. We fear that someone is targeting the country in order to lead us to civil war and lure the resistance. We have information and doubts.”

He called on the leadership of the movement to “reassure demonstrators and reassure us as well. Identify your representatives because there is a hidden leadership and the people have the right to know who they are following.”

Nasrallah asked his supporters to leave the areas of the protests because “we have no interests there,” and told protesters, “Rejecting dialogue means that there is a major political targeting of all elements of power in the country.”

Convoys supporting Nasrallah were organized in the southern suburbs of Beirut and in Tyre. Security forces blocked all roads leading to Beirut to prevent them from reaching the city center.

Full report at:

https://www.arabnews.com/node/1574126/middle-east

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Over 100 ISIS prisoners are on the loose, security officials must act now: Experts

ByCHRISTINA CARREGA

Oct 24, 2019

Over one hundred ISIS soldiers have reportedly escaped prisons in Syria. Now security officials around the world need to work together to protect their borders in order to stop the next possible terrorist attack, experts say.

Earlier this month, security at Syrian detention camps in al-Hol -- where thousands of ISIS soldiers were held -- weakened as Turkey invaded. As the Turkish Kurds fought the Syrian Kurds, who were guarding the jails, supporters of the Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi attacked the camps and set ISIS prisoners free.

"The concern is not with the thousands who were taken off the battlefield and put into prison, it's with the ones they don't know about that they are concerned about ... That threat has been consistent and constant," said Darrell M. Blocker, a former senior Deputy Director of CIA’s Counterterrorist Center and an ABC News contributor.

On Wednesday, U.S. Syria Envoy James Jeffrey told Congress that they "do not know" where the prisoners are.

As President Trump announced withdrawing thousands of U.S. troops from the region, security experts said that leaving Syria -- a breeding ground for ISIS -- makes the U.S. vulnerable to possible attacks.

"Withdrawing forces from Syria could impact our national security in two ways: First, If the security situation in Syria deteriorates, the instability will allow for the reemergence of terrorist groups like ISIS and al-Qaida -- groups that want to attack the U.S., said John Cohen, a former senior Homeland Security official and an ABC News contributor. "Second, the U.S. will have to rely on countries like Iran, Syria, Russia and Turkey, to prevent attacks against the U.S. and simply put, protecting the U.S. will not be their priority.”

Blocker said ISIS fighters have been returning to their hometowns after undergoing training for years.

"If ISIS fighters return to their countries of origin they could represent a significant threat to countries across the European Union as well as the U.S.," said Cohen. "I am confident the EU is doing whatever they can to protect their countries, I suspect the U.S. and Homeland Security are doing the same."

Blocker and Cohen said they hope an attack is not imminent, but intelligence and security officials should be acting like one is planned.

"They'll probably go home get integrated into their routines and then plan for the next caliphate," said Blocker.

Cohen said in order to stop potential terrorist from traveling to the U.S. from Europe, the U.S. must work closely with its European allies.

During the Obama administration, American and European intelligence organizations shared information to identify potential terrorist and stop attacks. But, "it's unclear whether that same information sharing is happening today," said Cohen.

"When we first were concerned about potential ISIS fighters returning back to the U.S., a comprehensive operational program was put in place that included CIA, the national counterterrorism center, FBI and others that solely focused on where to and how to identify potential ISIS fighters who traveled back to West," said Cohen.

Cohen does not know if similar efforts are happening under the Trump administration, but hopes that similar programs are underway.

On Sunday, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the current administration is committed to preventing a reemergence of the Islamic State and to continue to be vigilant in Syria.

Full report at:

https://abcnews.go.com/US/100-isis-prisoners-loose-security-officials-act-now/story?id=66499973

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Lebanon: Hezbollah supporters clash with anti-government protesters

Sunniva Rose

Oct 24, 2019

Several people were injured in clashes between Hezbollah supporters and anti-government protesters in downtown Beirut on Thursday afternoon, after President Michel Aoun addressed the demonstrators.

Despite heavy rain, protesters were hampered only by pro-Hezbollah demonstrators interrupting demands for the government’s resignation to shout slogans such as “Hassan Nasrallah [the group’s leader] is the most honourable of them all”.

The men also chanted “Hezbollah is not terrorist, it protects my country”, and “We only answer to you, Nasrallah”.

A large Israeli flag had been placed on the ground for people to walk on, signalling their hatred for Hezbollah’s arch-enemy.

But protesters drowned out the chants with music and danced in their rain ponchos.

“I told them that I wanted to chant that all politicians must leave, including Nasrallah," one young woman told The National.

"They told me I could not say that. They just came to cause trouble."

Another protester said she saw a Hezbollah supporter hitting a woman who had chanted that Nasrallah should resign.

“I was filming the scene and they tried to take my phone,” she said.

The tense stand-off continued until fighting broke out mid-afternoon. Police fired shots in the air to separate the protesters and one witness said at least four people were injured.

Police stood between the two opposing camps as they continued protesting into the night.

Hundreds of thousands have taken to the streets every day since last Thursday, accusing the ruling elite, including Hezbollah, of corruption and demanding its resignation.

For the first time in recent history, people from across sectarian divides have united to criticise their leaders, which have governed since the end of the civil war in 1990, for failing to provide them with basic services such as electricity.

But clashes have occurred between protesters and party supporters. The most violent have involved Hezbollah and its ally Amal in South Lebanon.

In Beirut, the Lebanese army pushed back a motorcade of Hezbollah supporters driving through the city centre on Monday.

Minutes before scuffles broke out in front of parliament on Thursday, an organiser of the pro-Hezbollah protest denied that his group was affiliated to a party, saying they were part of “civil society”.

“We want real reforms. The people are hungry and want to live,” Hassan Ahmad said.

The tussle broke out hours after Mr Aoun, who is an ally of Hezbollah, addressed his country for the first time since the protests began, vowing to tackle corruption but saying the streets were no place to bring down the government.

“Aoun is doing what he can. We need to give him time,” said Mr Ahmad, who was sitting in the driver seat of a lorry with a man standing on the roof chanting pro-Hezbollah slogans.

A picture of Lebanon’s central bank Governor, Riad Salameh, was stuck to the front window, with the words of a popular protest slogan: “All of them means all of them”.

It refers to the resignation of all of Lebanon’s leaders.

Mr Salameh has been a frequent target of Hezbollah in the past few months.

The party accuses him of being overzealous in following US sanctions on Lebanese banks that work with the Iran-backed group, which was the only party allowed to keep its weapons at the end of the civil war in 1990.

Mr Ahmad’s support of Mr Aoun contrasted with the mood among other protesters.

“He said he would implement reforms that we have been talking about for 30 years," said "Lina", who was sheltering in front of Mohammad Al Amin Mosque in downtown Beirut.

"Why didn’t he start working on them before?"

The schoolteacher berated the president for not giving his speech on live TV, choosing instead to record it in advance.

Full report at:

https://www.thenational.ae/world/mena/lebanon-hezbollah-supporters-clash-with-anti-government-protesters-1.927901

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Why Egypt agreed to release Islamic Jihad detainees

Entsar Abu Jahal

October 24, 2019

GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip — An Islamic Jihad delegation, headed by its leader Ziad al-Nakhala, concluded a four-day visit Oct. 17 to the Egyptian capital of Cairo, which Nakhala described as fruitful, according to a statement issued by the movement Oct. 18.

During the visit, the delegation held comprehensive talks with the Egyptian intelligence services on the latest developments in the Palestinian situation. They also reached an agreement to release around 40 young men stranded at Cairo airport and detained in Egypt, who returned to the Gaza Strip with the delegation through the Rafah crossing on the evening of Oct. 17. These men had been detained on charges of supporting or planning the demonstrations against Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi on Sept. 20.

Ahead of the visit, on Oct. 14, Islamic Jihad published a statement on its website saying that a delegation will head to Egypt in response to an Egyptian invitation to Nakhala to visit Cairo, in order to hold meetings with Egyptian officials on the latest developments in the Palestinian situation and strengthen ties.

Tension had prevailed over the Egyptian relations with Islamic Jihad after the Egyptian authorities arrested members of the movement on charges of participating in the Sept. 20 demonstrations or filming police checkpoints in Tahrir Square. On Sept. 25, Islamic Jihad issued a statement calling on Egypt to take the necessary measures to release one of its members, who appeared in a video on MBC Egypt Sept. 25, saying he was sent by Gaza officials to support the Egyptian demonstrations.

Al-Quds local newspaper reported Oct. 11 that the Egyptian authorities had released in recent days, and in batches, around 30 detainees affiliated with Islamic Jihad, whom they had arrested as they were heading back to the Gaza Strip. It pointed out that the release was made after the movement’s leadership communicated with Egyptian intelligence officials. Some 70 members of the group have thus far been released by Egypt.

In this context, an official in the Islamic Jihad's media office told Al-Monitor on condition of anonymity that the visit came within the framework of ongoing communication between the Egyptian authorities and the movement’s leadership,. He pointed out that the movement perceives Egypt as an important country, with the role it plays and the influence it has.

“A lengthy and extensive meeting was held during which many important points were discussed, including the issue of those detained at Cairo airport after leaving the Gaza Strip as they were heading to other countries, through Egypt. The officials also tackled the issues of reconciliation and the truce with Israel, and prisoners on hunger strike in Israeli prisons,” the source noted.

He stressed that the most important outcome was the rapid release of all of those stranded at Cairo airport and other detainees held by the Egyptian authorities, noting that the movement is keen on maintaining Egypt’s security and stability, and respects its sovereignty and rejects any action that destabilizes its security.

“There is no proof that any of the movement's members have offended the Egyptian state or interfered in Egyptian internal affairs. This is one of our principles; we do not interfere in the internal affairs of any state,” the source added.

Hassan Abdo, a political analyst close to Islamic Jihad, told Al-Monitor that the movement has a distinct relationship with Egypt based on respect for Egyptian sovereignty and support for the stability of its security. He said that the two recently drifted apart after the Egyptian authorities arrested Islamic Jihad members and for other reasons that the movement is unaware of.

Abdo explained that the visit came to confirm Egypt's keenness to restore confidence in this relationship, especially as it sent an invitation to the movement’s leadership, followed by releasing detainees — a step that the movement was very pleased with.

He said that during the meetings with the Egyptian authorities, no accusation was made against Islamic Jihad regarding its support for the recent demonstrations in Egypt, stressing that it was all fake news.

Speaking about the price Islamic Jihad had to pay to release the detainees, Abdo noted, “I do not believe the movement had to offer anything in return, given how it defines itself as a Palestinian resistance movement, whose weapons it only uses against Israel. It respects the sovereignty and territorial security of Arab states. Egypt seems to have gotten the message, so it was quick to straighten out the relationship.”

He added that Egypt is interested in a strong and solid relationship with Islamic Jihad, as it is a balanced movement that cannot be ignored, be it when it comes to the truce or the Palestinian reconciliation and the Israeli siege.

Abdo said that any tension in the relationship with Islamic Jihad will negatively affect the Egyptian role in the Palestinian reconciliation.

Tayseer Mohsen, professor of political science at Al-Azhar University in Gaza, told Al-Monitor that most of the visits by Palestinian factions to Egypt, whether they were self-motivated or in response to an official invitation, aim at discussing matters related to the Palestinian cause.

He noted that this is why Egypt is an integral part of the Palestinian situation, pointing out that Egypt should assume its position as a pivotal state in the region.

“Egypt has worked hard over the past years in order to be a strong mediator to stabilize security with Israel, which calls for it to have strong relations with the Palestinian factions, as it is necessary for the success of the Egyptian foreign policy toward the Palestinian cause,” he added.

Mohsen pointed out that sometimes things may happen outside the normal context of the relationship, such as Egypt arresting members of Palestinian factions for unknown reasons — moves that call for dialogue and discussion in order to settle the issue.

Speaking about Hamas’ noninvolvement in the demonstrations in Egypt this time — while it used to get involved during late President Mohammed Morsi’s rule — Mohsen noted that Hamas' balanced policy when it comes to foreign affairs does not irritate Egypt, unlike the Islamic Jihad movement. The latter has very clear positions, such as support for Iran, which irritates the Egyptian intelligence service.

“Islamic Jihad is being targeted in an attempt to bring its foreign positions to a level that identifies at least with Hamas, which was able to bridge the gap,” he added.

Mohsen explained that Egypt might have easily accepted to release the detainees because the Egyptian intelligence might have assessed the situation in Gaza in light of Israel's lack of commitment to the truce understandings, and saw that this could prompt Palestinian parties to go back to confrontations, stressing that losing control over the Palestinian issue would not be in Egypt’s best interest.

Full report at:

https://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2019/10/palestinian-islamic-jihad-visit-egypt-release-detainees.html

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Three protesters dead, over 50 wounded at Shia militia group offices in Iraq

25 October 2019

At least three people died when an Iraqi Shia militia group opened fire on a group of protesters attempting to break into the group’s local offices in the southern city of Nasiriya on Friday, police and hospital sources said.

More than 40 people were wounded in the incident at the offices of Asaib Ahl al-Haq’s offices in the province of Dhi Qar.

Full report at:

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2019/10/25/Three-protesters-dead-over-50-wounded-at-Shia-militia-group-offices-in-Iraq.html

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Top Iraq cleric al-Sistani urges restraint to avoid protests ‘chaos’

25 October 2019

Iraq’s Shia Muslim spiritual leader, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, urged both protesters and security forces on Friday to exercise “restraint” to keep renewed demonstrations from degenerating into “chaos.”

Protesters set fire to offices belonging to a Shia political party and a Shia militia group in Iraq’s southern Muthanna province on Friday, police sources said. Security forces attempted to dispel the demonstrators with tear gas.

Al-Sistani’s weekly sermon was delivered by his representatives shortly after two demonstrators died in renewed protests in Baghdad on Friday.

Iraq’s Prime Minister Adil Abdul Mahdi said in Thursday's address that a government collapse would drag Iraq into further turmoil.

“The resignation of the government today without a constitutional alternative, will lead the country into chaos,” he said.

Sistani’s weekly sermon was delivered by his representatives shortly after two demonstrators died in renewed protests in Baghdad on Friday.

He called on demonstrators to stay peaceful and said security forces should “deal with them with the utmost restraint.”

“The authority’s insistence that protests must remain peaceful, without any violence, stems not only from its interest in keeping protesters and security forces from being hurt but also from its extreme care for the country’s future,” he said.

“Chaos and ruin,” he warned, would “pave the way for more external interference”.

His sermon appeared to echo the package of reforms put forward by Prime Minister Abdul Mahdi, including an anti-corruption campaign, a job creation drive and improved social welfare.

Full report at:

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2019/10/25/Top-Iraq-cleric-al-Sistani-urges-restraint-to-avoid-protests-chaos-.html

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Protests continue in Nabatieh despite Nasrallah’s support for government

25 October 2019

On Friday, Hezbollah’s leader Hassan Nasrallah made a speech in which he asked his supporters to refrain from protesting.

“You want to protest, you need money. How is this protest being funded? Please explain to us how? You ask for transparency, then give it to us. Are you getting paid by certain embassies?” said Nasrallah.

Despite his call, hundreds in the town of Nabatieh, a Shia town considered a stronghold for the Iranian-backed organization and its allies, have taken to the streets on the ninth day of nationwide protesters to express their disdain for his words.

In Nabatieh, protesters took to the streets and continued to chant the slogan “kullun yaani kullun,” or all of them means all of them, in reference to the entire political class.

A 60-year old-mother, who refused to give her name out of fear of reprisal, lamented: “He should be standing with us. I don’t understand this. We have supported him through everything, we have given our blood to him. He is standing with the corrupt.”

“My son has two kids he can barely feed. Get off your lousy seats already! We are with you against Israel but we are against you in this revolution,” she added. Hezbollah had gained popularity among some Lebanese for fighting against Israel in the 2006 war, but has since been criticized for protecting the status quo in Lebanon and fighting in Syria.

Another protester, a 27-year-old man who also chose to remain anonymous, said “what a shame. I am shocked and appalled. He should have been apologizing to us, his thugs beat us. How does he expect us to stand idle and continue to support him?”

Protesters came under attack in Nabatieh on Thursday night and Friday from men reportedly from Hezbollah and the associated Amal party, led by Nabih Berri. In central Beirut, protesters were also attacked on Friday.

A female protester had further criticism for Nasrallah’s speech. “He talks of outside funds, what outside funds? The cookies we are receiving from other fellow protesters, or the water bottles being given away for free? Do not dismiss us. We are part of this country.”

Despite Nasrallah’s calls to stay off the streets, in Nabatieh Hezbollah supporters turned up and attempted to reach the protest zone in a motor convoy. Security forces blocked their path, with a tense standoff between military personnel, security forces, protesters, and Hezbollah supporters.

The pro-Hezbollah crowd chanted Hezbollah and pro-Nasrallah slogans before being directed to a side road to avoid them clashing with the protesters.

Full report at:

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/features/2019/10/25/Protests-continue-in-Nabatieh-despite-Nasrallah-s-support-for-government.html

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Anti-resistance scheme being concocted against Lebanon, Nasrallah warns

Oct 25, 2019

The secretary general of the Lebanese resistance movement has warned against fiendish attempts to target the axis of resistance in the wake of ongoing anti-government demonstrations over the country's economic crisis, stating that Hezbollah is well aware of such conspiracies.

“We have information that an anti-resistance scheme is being prepared for Lebanon. Several sides are exploiting popular protests to settle their account with Hezbollah and implement foreign agendas,” Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah said in an address to his supporters in a televised speech broadcast live from the Lebanese capital city of Beirut on Friday evening.

"Social and livelihood demands have been diverted to target (Hezbollah) resistance (movement). Some protests have been financed by embassies and suspicious sides. Certain elements are seeking to stir political tensions in Lebanon in a bid to create political vacuum in the country."

“Lebanon has entered a dangerous phase. There are prospects that our country will be politically targeted by international and regional powers,” Nasrallah noted.

The Hezbollah chief further underlined that some people are even after a military confrontation between Iran and the United States in the hope of changing regional equations and redrawing the map of the Middle East.

“What started spontaneously (in Lebanon) has been largely exploited by political parties. Blocking roads was something normal at the start of the protests, but some acts have been unacceptable,” Nasrallah said.

He emphasized that Hezbollah will not accept resignation of the current government and early parliament elections.

"We are open to any solution without resorting to political vacuum because it will be disastrous for the country,” Nasrallah said.

The Hezbollah secretary-general added that his movement cannot accept early parliamentary elections because it is a complicated issue.

“We are protecting the country against political vacuum, which could lead to deterioration. Our duty is to protect our country and people,” Nasrallah said.

The Hezbollah chief then called upon protesters to appoint a representative to discuss their demands with Lebanese President Michel Aoun.

Nasrallah also described the raft of economic reforms approved by the cabinet as “the first step on the path to fight corruption,” saying “the popular protests have pushed Lebanese political parties and factions to get serious in the fight against corruption.”

“Popular protests indicate that people have regained self-confidence, and are harboring hopes for fundamental change. The government is committed to implement announced reforms on their due dates. Hezbollah will not allow any delay concerning their implementation,” he said.

The Hezbollah secretary-general then termed the dismissal of the package of reforms agreed by the Lebanese government as “wrong and suspicious.”

“Hezbollah can’t take part in popular protests since they have to be far away from political affiliations. We have stressed that Hezbollah respects the rallies,” Hezbollah said.

Growth in Lebanon has plummeted in the wake of endless political deadlocks and an economic crisis in recent years.

The country hosts 1.5 million Syrian refugees, and their presence is often blamed for putting pressure on the already struggling economy.

Unemployment stands at more than 20 percent, according to official figures.

Full report at:

https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2019/10/25/609560/resistance-Lebanon-Nasrallah-

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South Asia

 

UN expert calls for Myanmar to be brought before ICC

Busra Nur Bilgic Cakmak  

24.10.2019

The UN Special Rapporteur on Myanmar has called on the Security Council to refer the situation there to the International Criminal Court (ICC).

“The entire situation in Myanmar must be referred to the International Criminal Court or an international tribunal [must be] established to ensure justice for the people of Myanmar,” Yanghee Lee said Wednesday at a press briefing at the UN General Assembly in New York.

“I remain resolute in my belief that it is not safe for Rohingya refugees [in Bangladesh] to return to Myanmar until the fundamental circumstances leading to their expulsion are remedied,” Lee said.

Lee also called for targeted sanctions to be imposed on the country's military-run companies and officials responsible for serious human rights violations against the Rohingya.

“Economic interests must not be pursued at the expense of human rights,” she added.

Serious violations

“Serious violations of human rights and humanitarian law have been committed” in Myanmar, Marzuki Darusman, head of the UN Independent International Fact-Finding Mission on Myanmar, said at the same briefing.

“Myanmar is failing in its obligations under the Genocide Convention to prevent, to investigate and to enact effective legislation criminalizing and punishing genocide,” he said.

The Mission found that crimes under international law continue to be committed by Myanmar’s armed forces, the Tatmadaw, said Darusman.

“This confirms our previous conclusion that the cycle of impunity enables, and indeed fuels, this reprehensible conduct on the part of the security forces,” he added.

The persecution of the Rohingya community in Myanmar relentlessly continues and this makes the return of close to one million Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh “simply impossible,” Darusman noted.

Meanwhile, Amnesty International has also called on the UN Security Council to refer Myanmar to ICC over rights violations against civilians in the country’s conflict-riven northeastern Shan state.

The rights group on Thursday published a report that focuses on violations and abuses, committed by both military and a collation of four rebel groups known as Northern Alliance, during the ongoing fighting in Shan State near the country’s northeastern border with China.

It stated on the military side, many of the violations were committed by the 99th Light Infantry Division, units of which allegedly committed atrocities on Rohingya Muslims in northern Rakhine State during the brutal crackdown in 2017.

“The fact that less than 18 months after these crimes, soldiers of the same division were committing new violations – including crimes under international law – highlights once again the need for the international community to take action and ensure that those responsible do not continue to enjoy immunity from their crimes,” the group said in the report.

“Given the renewed military operations in northern Shan State, and reports of further violations against civilians, the Security Council should act not only to ensure accountability for past crimes, but to try to prevent further abuse as consistent with its mandate,” it added.

Persecuted people

According to Amnesty International, more than 750,000 Rohingya refugees, mostly women and children, have fled Myanmar and crossed into Bangladesh after Myanmar forces launched a crackdown on the minority Muslim community in August 2017, pushing the number of persecuted people in Bangladesh above 1.2 million.

Since Aug. 25, 2017, nearly 24,000 Rohingya Muslims have been killed by Myanmar’s state forces, according to a report by the Ontario International Development Agency (OIDA).

More than 34,000 Rohingya were also thrown into fires, while over 114,000 others were beaten, said the OIDA report, titled "Forced Migration of Rohingya: The Untold Experience."

Some 18,000 Rohingya women and girls were raped by Myanmar’s army and police and over 115,000 Rohingya homes were burned down and 113,000 others vandalized, it added.

https://www.aa.com.tr/en/asia-pacific/un-expert-calls-for-myanmar-to-be-brought-before-icc/1624390

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Taliban need to make real compromises for the resumption of peace talks: Stoltenberg

25 Oct 2019

The NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said the Afghan Taliban need to demonstrate real willingness to make real compromises for the resumption of peace talks.

Speaking to reporters after the conclusion of the meeting on Afghanistan in Brussels, Stoltenberg said the alliance discussed propsects for peace in Afghansitan.

Stoltenberg further added “NATO supported the peace talks earlier this year. And I would welcome them being resumed.”

However, he said “But in order to make that possible, the Taliban need to demonstrate real willingness to make real compromises to reach a credible peace deal.”

This comes as the U.S. President Donald Trump called off peace talks with Taliban last month following a series of deadly attacks in Kabul which killed several people including an American soldier.

Full report at:

https://www.khaama.com/taliban-need-to-make-real-compromises-for-the-resumption-of-peace-talks-stoltenberg-04274/

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Special Forces arrest 5 Taliban militants, destroy caches of weapons in Kabul and Ghazni

26 Oct 2019

The Afghan Special Forces arrested 5 Taliban militants during the operations in Kabul and Ghazni provinces.

The military officials said Saturday the Special Forces also destroyed two caches of weapons during the same operations.

The officials further added that the Special Forces arrested 4 of the militants in Aab Band district of Ghazni where they also destroyed a cache of weapons.

The Special Forces arrested another Taliban militant during a patrol in Kabul city and destroyed a cache of weapons, the officials added.

Full report at:

https://www.khaama.com/special-forces-arrest-5-taliban-militants-destroy-caches-of-weapons-in-kabul-and-ghazni-04276/

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Airstrike kills key Haqqani Network leader who was involved in deadly Kabul attacks

26 Oct 2019

An airstrike in Mohammad Agha district of Logar killed a prominent Haqqani Network leader who had planned and faciliated some of the deadliest attacks in Kabul city.

According to a statement released by Ministry of Defense, the security forces conducted the airstrike in Zarghoon Shahr Village, killing Qari Burhan and some Pakistani and Arab militants.

The statement further added that Qari Burhan was in command of a notorious group of terrorists and had planned and facilitated some of the deadliest attacks in Kabul city.

He had planned and conducted the 2017 attack close to Jamhuriat Hospital which killed 103 people and wounded 235 others, the defense ministry said, adding that he had planned and facilitated the attack on a high rise building in Abdul Haq Square in 2011.

Qari Burhan had also planned and facilitated some deadly attacks in Kabul including a car bomb attack in 2015 which wounded 400 people and the attack on Alburz Township.

Full report at:

https://www.khaama.com/airstrike-kills-key-haqqani-network-leader-who-was-involved-in-deadly-kabul-attacks-04275/

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Suicide attack in Jalalabad city leaves 18 dead or wounded including 6 children

25 Oct 2019

A suicide attack in Jalalabad city, the provincial capital of Nangarhar killed or wounded at least 18 people including six children.

The provincial government in a statement said a suicide bomber targeted the Special Forces of the 02 Unit in the 4th district of Jalalabad city this afternoon.

The statement further added that the attack claimed the lives of 2 civilians and 3 soldiers of the 02 Unit of the Afghan forces.

The attack also wounded 13 other people including 6 children and personnel of the 02 Unit, the statement added.

The Taliban group in Afghanistan claimed responsibility for the attack.

Full report at:

https://www.khaama.com/suicide-attack-in-jalalabad-city-leaves-18-dead-or-wounded-including-6-children-04273/

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NATO’s support to Afghanistan with both forces and funding remains steadfast: Stoltenberg

25 Oct 2019

The NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said the alliance’s support to Afghanistan with both forces and funding remains steadfast.

He made the remarks during a press conference ahead of the second day of the NATO defense ministerial in Brussels today.

Stoltenberg said the second day of the meeting will focus on NATO mission in Afghanistan. “It remains a top priority for our alliance and for our partners. We will review the security situation and the next steps following the last month’s presidential elections.”

“Our support to Afghanistan with both forces and funding remains steadfast,” he said, adding that “NATO has supported the U.S.-led peace talks and we would welcome if they were resumed.”

However, he said “But the Taliban will have to make real concessions and show real willingness to reduce violence.”

Full report at:

https://www.khaama.com/natos-support-to-afghanistan-with-both-forces-and-funding-remains-steadfast-stoltenberg-04272/

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Afghan official: Taliban attack kills 5, including child

25 October 2019

An Afghan official says a suicide attack has targeted a convoy carrying officials from the country’s intelligence service, killing five people, including a child, in eastern Nangarhar province. The Taliban claimed the attack.

Attaullah Khogyani, the provincial governor’s spokesman, says three security personnel were among those killed on Friday. He says 17 people were wounded, including six security personnel.

The attack was the latest in near-daily bombings staged by the Taliban, who hold sway over nearly half the country. Nangarhar has become increasingly violent in recent years as both the Taliban and an Islamic State affiliate are active there.

Full report at:

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/world/2019/10/25/Afghan-official-Taliban-attack-kills-5-including-child.html

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Mideast

 

Erdogan says Turkey will crush Kurdish militants remaining in Syria 'safe zone'

OCTOBER 24, 2019

ANKARA (Reuters) - Turkey will use its right to crush Kurdish militia fighters if they have not withdrawn from a “safe zone” in northern Syria as per a truce agreement with the United States, President Tayyip Erdogan said on Thursday.

Earlier on Thursday, the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) accused Turkey of launching an offensive targeting three villages in northeast Syria despite a truce, but Russia said a peace deal struck this week was going ahead smoothly.

Erdogan said Turkey would implement its plans for an offensive if the Syrian Kurdish YPG militia did not withdraw from along its border as agreed upon with Russia. He also criticized world leaders meeting with YPG commanders, saying such moves hindered the fight against terrorism.

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-syria-security-turkey-erdogan/erdogan-says-turkey-will-crush-kurdish-militants-remaining-in-syria-safe-zone-idUSKBN1X31SP

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Terror suspects being deported to Turkey for trial

October 25, 2019

ANKARA: Dozens of Daesh terror suspects were being deported to Turkey on Thursday after being removed from prisons in northern Syria by Turkish troops.

The militants, all Turkish nationals, were seized during Turkey’s military offensive to establish a 30-km buffer zone on its border with Syria.

Daesh family members held in detention facilities and camps are also being brought to Turkey, where those who have not been involved in war crimes will undergo rehabilitation.

Militants from other nations will be kept in prisons in the border town of Tal Abyad under the control of Syrian National Army.

Last week Turkey urged European countries to take back Daesh fighters released by People’s Protection Units (YPG) in Syria and put them on trial.

“YPG released around 650 Daesh terrorists in Syria, including 150 Turkish citizens and 500 from countries such as France, Germany and the Netherlands,” Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said.

About 195 of the militants have been recaptured, he said.

Many EU countries, especially France, have refused to take back nationals who fought for Daesh, preferring to extradite them to Iraq for trial. More than 300 people were killed and 1,500 injured in Daesh-linked terror attacks on Turkish territory.

Newly deported Daesh militants will also face trial under Turkish jurisdiction. However, there are concerns many will receive only short prison terms because of the difficulty in proving their crimes.

Almost 50 militants, including senior members of Daesh, went on trial in July in Turkey’s northwestern province of Kocaeli over their activities in Turkey, Syria and Iraq. They are expected to receive prison terms of between four and 22 years.

Pieter van Ostaeyen, an expert on international jihad, said that rehabilitation will be needed for the militants’ families, especially children.

“The best way to deal with all people who have committed war crimes, not only Daesh fighters, is to set up an international trial. However, the international community refused. Most countries involved thought the problem with foreign fighters would solve itself,” he told Arab News.

Ostaeyen warned of a “potential catastrophe” if the Kurds stopped guarding the camps because of increasing Turkish and Syrian National Army pressure.

He urged the Turkish army to provide guards for the prison camps, but said this was unlikely to happen.

“It is by liberating their people from the camps that Daesh will most likely rebuild its presence throughout Syria and Iraq,” he said.

Al-Hawl refugee camp in northern Syria falls outside Turkey’s safe zone. The camp holds more than 60,000 women and children linked to Daesh, along with 10,000 internally displaced people.

Full report at:

https://www.arabnews.com/node/1573941/middle-east

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True Merciful Face of Islam Should Be Introduced to World: Iranian President

October, 25, 2019

“Fighting oppression, extremism and terrorism is the duty of all (followers of) divine religions, including Muslims, and the merciful face of true Islam should be shown to the world more than before,” Rouhani said on Thursday evening.

He made the remarks in a meeting with Sheikh ul-Islam Allahshükür Hummat Pashazade, the chairman of the Caucasus Muslims Bureau in Baku, the capital of Azerbaijan Republic.

Rouhani further described the age-old religious ties between Iran and Azerbaijan as a major factor in the close cooperation between the two nations and said the foundations of unity between Islamic societies should be further strengthened and enemies should not be allowed to sow discord among Muslims.

Rouhani also described an increase in the Iranian and Azeri people’s trips to each other’s countries as a valuable step in the development of bilateral relations between the two nations.

Pashazade, for his part, briefed the Iranian president on the conditions of the region and Azerbaijan, and said closer relations between Tehran and Baku are beneficial to both nations and the region.

In recent years, the Middle East has been plagued with Takfiri terrorist groups like Daesh (also known as ISIS or ISIL), which are believed to have been created and supported by the West and some regional Arab countries.

The terrorist groups, which claim to be Islamic but whose actions are anything but, have been committing heinous crimes not only against non-Muslims, but mostly against Muslims in the region.

Full report at:

https://www.tasnimnews.com/en/news/2019/10/25/2127003/true-merciful-face-of-islam-should-be-introduced-to-world-iranian-president

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IRGC’s Salami: Iran today is stronger than its ‘enemies’

25 October 2019

Iran’s today is stronger than its “enemies,” who have power but are unable to use it, claimed the commander of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) Hossein Salami on Friday, according to the semi-official Mehr news agency.

“Being powerful is not just about having power, but also to be able to exercise your power,” said Salami, addressing a group of IRGC commanders in south-west Iran.

“Our enemies have power, but are incapable of using it,” he added, adding that Iran is more powerful than its opponents for that reason.

Salami had previously claimed that Iran is capable of attacking its enemies anywhere, and that Israel’s destruction is now an “achievable goal.”

Iran is accused of pursuing aggressive policies in the region, including attacking Saudi Arabia’s oil facilities, threatening shipping in the Arabian Gulf, and continuing to support proxy organizations in Lebanon, Iraq, and Yemen.

Full report at:

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2019/10/25/IRGC-s-Salami-Iran-today-is-stronger-than-its-enemies-.html

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NAM capable of neutralizing impact of US sanctions: Iran president

Oct 25, 2019

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has censured the United States for dominating the international monetary system and misusing dollar, saying the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) is capable of countering Washington's illegitimate actions and making its sanctions ineffective.

"America’s domination over the international monetary system has encouraged the United States in the past several decades and particularly in recent years to misuse dollar regularly to put political pressure on independent states, most of which NAM members, enforce various sanctions and limit access to international monetary systems," Rouhani said in an address to the 18th Summit of Heads of State and Governments of the NAM in Baku on Friday.

He added that such US measures are in direct violation of the "legitimate freedom and rights of independent nations" and stressed that the NAM countries "can take important steps to neutralize the impact of such tools."

Rouhani noted that international commitment to the requirements of economic sustainability, the expansion of trade ties on the basis of bilateral and multilateral monetary treaties, employment of independent and alternative initiatives on banking services and increased use of cryptocurrencies are among ways to reach that end.

"Of course, all of this should be accomplished in line with upholding international anti-money laundering and terrorism financing rules," the Iranian president said, adding that many NAM member countries, including Iran, have placed this important issue on their agenda.

Pointing to current conflicts in various regions and the violation of the national sovereignty of independent countries in different forms, Rouhani said the world is "rapidly transiting to multilateralism."

"Today the US is employing oppressive economic tools in order to impose its illegitimate political goals on independent nations out of desperation in such outrageous and arrogant ways considered to be economic terrorism," the Iranian chief executive pointed out.

He said the Non-Aligned Movement, which represents more than two thirds of the United Nations member states, has the potential to "be the pioneer on behalf of its members and the human society in finding solutions for the current global problems and within the framework of law abiding, fulfillment of international commitments, moderation and prevention of violence and extremism."

In a meeting with UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres on the sidelines of the 74th session of the General Assembly in New York in September, Rouhani slammed the United Nations for keeping mum on the crimes the US has been committing against the Iranian nation through an economic terrorism campaign, calling on the world body to break the silence and shoulder its responsibilities.

Referring to Washington’s harsh campaign of economic pressure and sanctions against the Islamic Republic, the president said “an aggressor government is committing all these crimes against an entire nation, while the UN has remained tight-lipped.” He added that this “shame will remain in history.”

Elsewhere in his speech, the Iranian president highlighted the ability of the movement to play an effective role in securing the interests of its members proportionate with the requirements of the new world.

"With the collapse of the bipolar system in international arena, the United States tried to impose on the world a unipolar and hegemonic order under the slogan of the new global system with reliance on its military, economic and media power."

However, he said, the NAM states have demonstrated their will to withstand unilateralism in international system, stressing, "The main tools in the hands of the US to impose unilateralism turned actually against it."

Rouhani went on to say that the US staged "extensive and destructive wars" in different parts of the world, particularly in West Asia, in order to impose its domination.

These wars have inflicted hundreds of thousands of casualties and thousands of billions of dollars' worth of damage on regional nations and fueled the blaze of sectarianism, extremism and terrorism in the region and the world, he added.

"Notwithstanding, the failure of aggressors in realizing their goals in the occupied countries caused the breakdown of the military and political hegemony of the United States in the international arena and boosted the self-confidence of independent states to pursue their rights and interests," the Iranian president stated.

"The drastic reduction in public confidence in the US political establishment, parties and ruling elite has finally resulted in the emergence of people in politics whose policies have marked the beginning of the end of US hegemony and unilateralism."

Rouhani emphasized that the NAM states are blessed with a big population, vast area of land and territory and votes in international organizations, adding the movement can find a new pole of power in the multipolar world of future.

"For this to happen, we need to understand the new realities of the region and the world and utilize new tools and facilities of the world today," he said.

Full report at:

https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2019/10/25/609554/Rouhani-NAM-Baku-dollar-unilateralism

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Israeli forces injure about 80 Gazans

Oct 25, 2019

Israeli forces have attacked protests taking place near the fence between the besieged Gaza Strip and the occupied territories, leaving about 80 Palestinians injured.

The Gazan Health Ministry said 77 people were injured by the Israeli troops during the 80th Friday of protests in the east of the enclave.

Ashraf al-Qedra, a spokesman for the ministry, noted that 31 of the wounded people have suffered gunshot wounds.

Palestinians have been holding weekly rallies in the Gaza Strip since March 30 last year to protest against the more than decade-long siege imposed by the Israeli regime on the enclave and to stress the right to return of the Palestinians who have been driven out of their homeland by Israeli aggression since 1948.

At least 312 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli forces since the start of the anti-occupation protest rallies. Over 18,000 Palestinians have also sustained injuries.

In March, a United Nations (UN) fact-finding mission found that Israeli forces committed rights violations during their crackdown against the Palestinian protesters in Gaza that may amount to war crimes.

Gaza has been under Israeli siege since June 2007, which has caused a decline in living standards.

Full report at:

https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2019/10/25/609570/Israeli-forces-injure-80-Gazans

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Turkey warns US meeting with SDF chief would ‘legitimize terrorists’

October 25, 2019

ANKARA: Turkey on Friday warned Washington that any meeting with the leader of a US-backed Syrian Kurdish-led force risked “legitimizing terrorists.”

US President Donald Trump on Thursday said he had talked with Mazlum Abdi, commander of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) which fought against extremists in Syria, and that he had “really enjoyed” the conversation.

In a tweet on Wednesday, Trump thanked Mazlum and said: “I look forward to seeing you soon,” raising fears in Turkey of a possible face-to-face meeting between the two men in the United States.

“If you start legitimizing terrorists like this, tomorrow you will end up meeting with Baghdadi as well,” Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said in televised remarks.

Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi is the head of Daesh.

“It is not acceptable for our allies to meet with a terrorist wanted under a red notice,” Cavusoglu told reporters in Baku.

“We have informed the US of all of this in a written note,” the minister added.

Turkey says there is an Interpol red notice for Abdi, which Turkish NTV broadcaster reported had been issued in 2011.

A group of American senators including Lindsey Graham earlier this week urged the US State Department to expedite a visa for Abdi to enable a visit where he can speak to officials and lawmakers on the situation on the ground in Syria.

Turkish Justice Minister Abdulhamit Gul earlier on Friday said if Abdi entered the US, “because there is a red bulletin, because there is an arrest warrant..., this person should be caught, arrested and extradited to Turkey.”

Gul told reporters in the Turkish border town of Akcakale that Turkish diplomats had contacted their US counterparts to remind them that Abdi was a wanted individual.

Relations between Turkey and the US are particularly tense after Ankara launched a cross-border offensive on October 9 against the Kurdish YPG militia, whose fighters make up the bulk of the SDF.

Full report at:

https://www.arabnews.com/node/1574156/middle-east

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Yemen government strikes power-sharing deal with southern rebels

October 25, 2019

RIYADH: Yemen’s southern separatists have struck a power-sharing deal with the internationally-recognized government aimed at ending the conflict between the two sides, sources said Friday.

The deal would see the secessionist Southern Transitional Council (STC) handed a number of ministries, and the government return to the southern city of Aden, according to officials and reports in Saudi media.

Saudi Arabia’s Al-Ekhbariya TV channel said a government of 24 ministers would be formed, “divided equally between the southern and northern governorates of Yemen.”

Under the deal, the Yemeni prime minister would return to Aden to “reactivate state institutions,” it added.

Al-Ekhbariya said the Arab coalition which backs the Yemeni government against the Houthis would oversee a “joint committee” to implement the agreement.

Security Belt Forces — dominated by the STC — in August took control of Aden, which had served as the government’s base since it was ousted from the capital Sanaa by the Iran-backed Houthis in 2014.

The clashes between the separatists and government forces — who for years fought on the same side against the Houthis — had raised fears the country could break apart entirely.

The warring factions have in recent weeks been holding indirect and discreet talks mediated by Saudi Arabia in the kingdom’s western city of Jeddah.

“We signed the final draft of the agreement and are waiting for the joint signature within days,” an STC official currently in Riyadh told AFP.

Both Yemen’s President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi and STC leader Aidarous Al-Zoubeidi are expected to attend a ceremony in Riyadh, he added.

A Yemeni government official, declining to be named, confirmed the deal had been agreed and was expected to be signed by Tuesday.

Full report at:

https://www.arabnews.com/node/1574231/middle-east

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KSRelief chief briefs Italian parliamentarians on Saudi aid efforts in Yemen

October 25, 2019

The general supervisor of the King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Center (KSRelief), Dr. Abdullah Al-Rabeeah, met with many members of both houses of the Italian Parliament, the Chamber of Deputies and the Senate of the Republic in Rome.

The meeting, titled “support for the people of Yemen,” was launched with a briefing on the political, geographical and humanitarian situation in Yemen.

Al-Rabeeah talked about the historical situation of Yemen and of the strong Saudi-Yemeni relations, stressing the Kingdom’s keenness to support all initiatives that sought to find peaceful solutions before the start of the conflict.

Al-Rabeeah said in his speech that the Kingdom gave Yemen over $16 billion in humanitarian and development aid, in addition to supporting refugees, providing funds to Yemen’s central bank and supporting the Yemeni economy.

He stressed that the Kingdom did not discriminate between Yemeni groups, sects and regions and provided assistance without bias.

“The Kingdom is keen to support the security and stability of the Middle East and North Africa, and strives to ensure the development and security of the region,” he said.

Al-Rabeeah emphasized that the Kingdom called on the international community and the EU to contribute to the achievement of regional stability, and to pressure Iran to end its interference in the internal affairs of states like Yemen.

Italian MPs highlighted the importance of humanitarian action in the country, and expressed their appreciation for the Kingdom’s efforts, through KSRelief, to support the people of Yemen.

They stressed that the best solution was a peaceful solution that guaranteed security and stability, noting the Riyadh’s pivotal role in achieving it in the region.

Representatives of the center also visited Bambino Gesù Children’s Hospital in Rome, to study the possibility of cooperation between the two sides in the field of treating children and training medics in countries in need of assistance.

They briefed hospital officials on KSRelief’s projects and programs that care for children in different countries in need, especially in Yemen.

Full report at:

https://www.arabnews.com/node/1574376/saudi-arabia

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Yemen government strikes power-sharing deal with southern rebels

October 25, 2019

RIYADH: Yemen’s southern separatists have struck a power-sharing deal with the internationally-recognized government aimed at ending the conflict between the two sides, sources said Friday.

The deal would see the secessionist Southern Transitional Council (STC) handed a number of ministries, and the government return to the southern city of Aden, according to officials and reports in Saudi media.

Saudi Arabia’s Al-Ekhbariya TV channel said a government of 24 ministers would be formed, “divided equally between the southern and northern governorates of Yemen.”

Under the deal, the Yemeni prime minister would return to Aden to “reactivate state institutions,” it added.

Al-Ekhbariya said the Arab coalition which backs the Yemeni government against the Houthis would oversee a “joint committee” to implement the agreement.

Security Belt Forces — dominated by the STC — in August took control of Aden, which had served as the government’s base since it was ousted from the capital Sanaa by the Iran-backed Houthis in 2014.

The clashes between the separatists and government forces — who for years fought on the same side against the Houthis — had raised fears the country could break apart entirely.

The warring factions have in recent weeks been holding indirect and discreet talks mediated by Saudi Arabia in the kingdom’s western city of Jeddah.

“We signed the final draft of the agreement and are waiting for the joint signature within days,” an STC official currently in Riyadh told AFP.

Both Yemen’s President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi and STC leader Aidarous Al-Zoubeidi are expected to attend a ceremony in Riyadh, he added.

A Yemeni government official, declining to be named, confirmed the deal had been agreed and was expected to be signed by Tuesday.

Full report at:

https://www.arabnews.com/node/1574231/middle-east

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Europe

 

UN calls on Egypt to release senior Muslim Brotherhood members

October 25, 2019

UN human rights experts have said that two senior Muslim Brotherhood members detained in Egypt since 2013 should be released immediately and compensated, describing their detention as unlawful.

The UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention published its findings last week after examining the cases of former aide to ex-President Mohammed Morsi, Essam Al-Haddad and his son Jihad, chief media spokesperson for the Brotherhood.

A Cairo court overturned life sentences for espionage against the Haddads in 2016. After retrials this year, both were acquitted in September, but they was sentenced to ten years for membership in a banned group. Jihad remains in custody at the maximum security Scorpion Prison.

The Haddad cases “appear to fit the pattern of systematic, widespread and grave violations of fundamental human rights directed against the senior figures of the ousted government of Mohamed Mursi and their real or perceived fellow supporters,” the UN panel said.

Their “deprivation of liberty is arbitrary,” it said, calling on Egyptian authorities to report back in six months on compliance with its findings, and adding: “Their trials should never have taken place.”

The panel noted that the sentencing of Essam was legally problematic because the law that banned membership to the Muslim Brotherhood was issued after his arrest, leaving Egyptian authorities guilty of violating the principle of non-retroactivity.

The panel said that Egyptian authorities had thus far not responded to its inquiries.

There has been a campaign to release Jihad previously on the grounds of failing health following food contamination whilst in detention.

Reports state that between 60,000 and 80,000 political prisoners are being held in Egyptian prisons since the ouster of Morsi in 2013, the majority on political grounds because of their refusal to accept the bloody military coup which ousted the country’s first democratically elected president, Morsi.

https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/20191025-un-calls-on-egypt-to-release-senior-muslim-brotherhood-members/

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Azerbaijani national hero provides a paradigm for Jewish-Muslim relations

October 18, 2019

More than 25 years after his death in battle, a state-recognized Jewish hero of a Muslim-majority nation illustrates a contemporary vision for warm relations between those two faiths.

The Eurasian nation of Azerbaijan recently erected a monument in the capital of Baku in commemoration of Albert Agarunov (1969-1992)—one of the first citizens to posthumously receive his government’s highest military recognition, the National Hero of Azerbaijan.

A casualty of the 1988-1994 Nagorno-Karabakh war, Agarunov earned his status among the Azerbaijani people as a proud Jewish citizen of his newly independent post-Soviet state. While the conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan over the Nagorno-Karabakh territory persists to this day, Azerbaijani discussions of this struggle invariably circle back to Agarunov.

Azerbaijan’s population is more than 90 percent Muslim. Agarunov was a member of the community known as Mountain Jews in the region of Quba in northern Azerbaijan. On Dec. 8, 1991, he and his colleague, Agababa Huseynov, disabled several Armenian tanks and armored trucks.

Armenia set a bounty on Agarunov’s head. In May 1992, Agarunov, 23, was killed while trying to save his fellow soldiers as they defended the Azerbaijani town of Shusha, which Azerbaijan cherished as its historic cultural capital in the Nagorno-Karabakh region.

At the time, journalists who asked what brought Agarunov, a Baku native, to volunteer to defend a town in Nagorno-Karabakh heard him say, “This is my land. I don’t have another motherland. It’s natural for me to defend my home.”

Decades later, many Azerbaijanis appear to identify with Agarunov as a de facto member of their family and community, specifically looking to his life story. At a young age, Agarunov was admired by his peers and mentors alike, including the faculty of the music school he attended (he took trumpet lessons). Fellow students appreciated his readiness to stand up to bullies. Family and friends described him as having a simple philosophy of life: focus on family, work hard to give your family a good life, serve your community and keep the peace, but defend those who cannot defend themselves.

Agarunov viewed Azerbaijan as a motherland that was closely entwined with his Jewish community. Still, his decision to fight in the Nagorno-Karabakh War startled his family. His parents and siblings shared his patriotism, though feared for his safety in this battle between nations as the breakaway from the Soviet Union was unfolding.

When news of Agarunov’s death reached his family in 1992, they found consolation in the actions of Azerbaijan’s government and people. The community renamed the music school young Albert had attended in his honor. Plaques appeared in Baku and in Quba. Citizens shared news of the Azerbaijani army’s renaming of Agarunov’s tank in his honor. To this day, Azerbaijanis demonstrate feelings of solidarity and appreciation in messages to his family.

Many Azerbaijanis are quick to bring up Agarunov’s Jewishness as an example of “two great nations working together.” In the same breath, they cite Agarunov’s story as a sign that Azerbaijan’s Jews are integrated as citizens with the same rights and responsibilities as their Muslim compatriots.

Regularly, the discussion leads to remarks about the absence of anti-Semitism in Azerbaijan, often backed up by affirmations such as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s statement that Israel-Azerbaijan ties represent “something that we can show the world.”

Indeed, in a world beset by ethnic and religious conflict, the visitors who witness the new monument in Baku will learn of a life story that provides a paradigm for unlocking the potential of thriving interfaith relations. Observers can also look to Quba, where Muslim and Jewish musicians come together to continue the dynamic musical tradition that once energized a young Agarunov.

At its heart, Agarunov’s story reveals that genuine interpersonal relationships and shared passion for one’s homeland can serve to bridge differences and unite even the most improbable allies.

Full report at:

https://www.jns.org/opinion/azerbaijani-national-hero-provides-a-paradigm-for-jewish-muslim-relations/?fbclid=IwAR0B1IfTkL9BRiQtiGaDpZO03bi0c-gCWjZu04xpJKQROo4Vzy1VQpySQY4

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Why I brought my family to a mosque after Sunday Mass

Jordan Denari Duffner

October 22, 2019

On a sun-soaked afternoon in June, my family and I—all Catholics—visited a local mosque in suburban Maryland. The gleaming house of worship, with its sea-colored domes rising high like bellies under the summer clouds, is a sight that would be stunning even in Istanbul or Indonesia, where mosques are more common. Built alongside a humble neighborhood of brick homes in Prince George’s County and modeled on 16th-century mosques constructed in what is now Turkey, this mosque shows no wear as of yet. As we walked across the courtyard, the sun bounced off the white stone tile and into our eyes, blinding us as I imagine the light must be in heaven.

I had visited this mosque a few times before—as a chaperone on a university field trip and for a friend’s wedding—and my husband had seen the house of worship, too. But it was the first time my parents and brother, who were visiting us from out of town, would enter a mosque. I am studying for a doctorate in Catholic-Muslim relations and wanted to give my family the opportunity to see this impressive mosque, one of the largest in the Western Hemisphere. We went on a Sunday, not long after we had attended Mass, where a rambling homily and a dim space had left us in a collective slump.

Under the mosque’s shaded entrance, party favors lined a table, awaiting the guests at a wedding inside. I peeked through the glass doors, bordered by a wood-carved pattern of stars, and saw the bride in her red dress with a wide skirt. Before the mihrab, the mosque’s alcove focal point tiled with floral patterns, she and her husband sat in the light of stained-glass windows that cast rainbows on the floor. Not long after, their family and friends trailed out of the space and the couple arranged themselves by an outside window in front of a photographer. Accompanied by our guide, we unlaced our shoes, shelved them by the door and went inside.

The dhuhr prayer, which happens in early afternoon, had just concluded the ceremony, but we learned it would be followed by recitation of the Qur’an by an imam world-renowned for his talent at vocalizing the word of God. Amid a few dozen adults who had remained in the space and several kids who twirled and ran across the teal-blue carpet, we sat down cross-legged with our guide, Ahmet, as the imam, Ali, began to recite.

With one hand cupped behind his ear and the other holding a microphone as he sat back on his feet, he invoked the One who is al-Rahman and al-Rahim, as Muslims begin every prayer. In the Islamic tradition, the divine compassion of which this invocation speaks is believed to surround creation like a mother’s womb, wrap around the world like the gilded band of calligraphy that encircled the prayer space under the mosque’s pregnant dome. Imam Ali’s voice moved in steps and quivered from low notes to high ones, echoing words that Muslims believe are God’s, revealed to the Prophet Muhammad not only in language but also in the pinging-ringing sound of a bell in his ears and in the tight embraces from the Angel Gabriel that he thought would be too much to bear. Look at the signs in the heavens and on the earth…. Why are you ungrateful?... Truly, God is full of might and wisdom, Ali intoned.

Periodically, our guide would speak softly to us, explaining a bit about the mosque or the commonalities between Islam and our own faith, but when the reciter’s voice soared and billowed into the belly of the dome, we all grew quiet. Far more than the meaning of the Arabic words, which my family could not comprehend and which I sometimes could not follow, it was the yearning in his voice that compelled us to lower our gaze. Like waves overcoming a rocky shore, the melody flowed over us but also seemed it would burst us open from the inside. It pushed tears out to the corners of my eyes.

We had been warned us of this. That morning, in the Gospel of John, after we had heard in the Hebrew Bible about God’s wisdom and working in creation, Jesus said to his disciples, “I have much more to tell you, but you cannot bear it now.”

That afternoon visit to the mosque, where Catholics sat bathed in Muslims’ prayers, was a reminder that truth and beauty can be found outside the walls of church, in a space that belongs to those who worship differently. But it was also a lesson that God always has more to say—that truth and beauty are always bursting their banks. As the Qur’an says, if the oceans were inkwells, it would not be enough to record the words of God. Maybe it is wise for God to hold back on the flood for now; we might not be able to withstand it.

Full report at:

https://www.americamagazine.org/faith/2019/10/22/why-i-brought-my-family-mosque-after-sunday-mass?fbclid=IwAR056BycCfkInzhWDgQPRVgGiNtXEv27rc3FgdkFJ9FZRXh2HtE7U8qHFig

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UN says Turkish offensive in north Syria displaced nearly 180,000 people

Oct 25, 2019

The United Nations says Turkey’s now-suspended offensive against Kurdish militants in northern Syria has displaced about 180,000 people, including tens of thousands of children.

Ursula Mueller, UN Assistant Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs, said the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights “has received concerning reports of civilian casualties and damage to critical civilian infrastructure” since the onset of the military operation.

Addressing the UN Security Council (UNSC) in New York on Thursday, the humanitarian official noted that the offensive, which “severely impacted the humanitarian situation, forced “almost 180,000 people, including close to 80,000 children,” to flee south from the border areas between Turkey and Syria.

Speaking during the UNSC meeting, Bashar Jaafari, Syria’s Permanent Representative to the UN, slammed Turkey for launching the offensive, saying “the Turkish regime started a new chapter in its aggression against my country, in flagrant violation of international law, the principles of the charter, the resolutions of this council, the outcome documents of the Astana rounds, and the understandings of Sochi.”

In response, the Turkish ambassador, Feridun Sinirlioglu, maintained that “the operation was conducted in full respect of international and international humanitarian law.”

“It only targeted terrorists and their hideouts, weapons and vehicles. We took all necessary measures to prevent any harm to civilians and damage to civilian infrastructure,” he said.

On October 9, the Turkish military launched a cross-border operation in northeastern Syria in an attempt to clear the Syrian border areas of Kurdish militants of the so-called People’s Protection Units (YPG), whom Ankara views as terrorists linked to the autonomy-seeking Kurdish militants at home.

The incursion began after the US announced it was withdrawing its forces from northeastern Syria, effectively abandoning its longtime Kurdish allies there and giving NATO partner Turkey the go-ahead for the operation.

Turkey agreed on October 17 to halt its Syria offensive for five days to allow the YPG militants to pull out of the border area following talks with the US.

Full report at:

https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2019/10/25/609557/Turkish-offensive-Syria-displaces-180000

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Germany to end anti-'Islamic State' mission in March

24.10.2019

The German parliament on Thursday voted to end the Bundeswehr's anti-"Islamic State" (IS) mission in Syria and Iraq after March 31, 2020.

The Christian Democrats (CDU) and Social Democrats (SPD) have been in a tussle over extending the mission's mandate, with the SPD demanding the German military end its role in the international coalition.

The SPD has opposed extending the military mission, arguing that former Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen had promised parliament to terminate the anti-IS mandate.

The mandate was set to expire at the end of October and would normally have been extended by a year.

Germany has four Tornado reconnaissance jets, an AWAC aircraft and an in-flight refueling tanker based in Jordan carrying out missions as part of a US-led international coalition.

Lawmakers also voted to extend the Bundeswehr's military training mission in Iraq for one year.

Full report at:

https://www.dw.com/en/germany-to-end-anti-islamic-state-mission-in-march/a-50976421

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Muslim faith schools lead the pack in UK top schools list

October 26, 2019

Top three positions in a ranking of every British school were taken by schools which say they are run according to Islamic values.

Muslim faith schools have topped the British government’s ranking of secondary school performance, taking the top three positions and securing a total of four in the top ten.

Top of the pack was Tauheedul Islam Girls' High School in the northern English town of Blackburn, followed by Eden Boy's school in Birmingham and the Eden Girl's School in neighbouring Coventry.

All three say they are run according to Islamic and British values.

The list collated every year by the government ranks schools across the country on measures including academic attainment and the percentage of students who stay on for further education.

In the UK, compulsory education ends at the age of 16, after which students can either leave to enter the job market or go on to further education.

According to the ‘Progress 8’ framework that the UK government uses to measure performance, schools are judged according to the progress students make in addition to the grades they achieve.

At Tauheedul Islam 83.3 percent of students got high passing grades in English and Mathematics, while the institute got a 69.9 point score on the Progress 8 scale. It was the fourth consecutive year that the school had topped the national table.

All of the top three were classified as ‘Well Above Average’ in terms of attainment by the government and were judged to be ‘outstanding’ by Ofsted - the British government body charged with ensuring educational quality for both state and privately owned schools.

In a statement, the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB) said that the statistics showed faith schools were performing well despite the negative perceptions surrounding them.

“Credit must go to the teachers, parents, and of course students, at these high performing Muslim faith schools for their excellent achievement,” said Secretary-General of the MCB Harun Khan.

“Their results show that with hard-work and dedication children of all backgrounds and in any educational setting can achieve their utmost.”

MCB

@MuslimCouncil

"Credit must go to the teachers, parents, and of course students.. for their excellent achievement." 

Well done to Tauheedul Islam and Eden Girls and Boys Schools for their outstanding GCSE results! https://mcb.org.uk/press-releases/celebrating-the-achievement-of-our-students/ …@MuslimSchools @TauheedulGirls @edengirlscov

Celebrating the Achievement of Our Students - Muslim Council of Britain (MCB)

Muslim Schools Show Greatest Improvements As GCSE League Tables Published Muslim faith state schools took all top three positions for progress in the published GCSE league tables for 2019. Tauheedul...

mcb.org.uk

25

10:22 PM - Oct 24, 2019

Twitter Ads info and privacy

https://www.trtworld.com/europe/muslim-faith-schools-lead-the-pack-in-uk-top-schools-list-30836

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Russia says all US troops must leave Syria as Pentagon plans to keep them

Oct 25, 2019

Russia has called for the withdrawal of all US troops whom it sees as illegitimately deployed to Syria amid reports that the Pentagon plans to send additional troops into northeastern Syria.

"As for the presence of American soldiers in Syria, our position is well known," Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said, adding that US troops had been deployed without permission from Damascus.

Peskov said both Moscow and Damascus seek the complete withdrawal of all occupying forces from the country.

"Russian units are present in Syria legitimately at the invitation of the Syrian leadership," he added, Russia's Tass news agency reported.

The Pentagon announced on Thursday that the United States will deploy troops to "protect oil fields" in northeast Syria with the help of Kurdish militants.

"The US is committed to reinforcing our position, in coordination with our Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) partners, in northeast Syria with additional military assets to prevent those oil fields from falling back into the hands of ISIS or other destabilizing actors," a defense official said in a statement.

The official, however, did not explain how the largely defeated and almost non-existent Daesh terrorist group could regain control of the region's oil, or what was meant by "other destabilizing actors."

About 500 troops may reportedly be deployed near the oil fields, apparently to prevent advancing Syrian army troops from taking over the control of the assets.

US President Donald Trump had ordered the complete withdrawal of US troops from the region last week before rowing back on the decision and announcing that a continent of special forces would be left in the country to control Syria's oil fields.

"We want to keep the oil, and we'll work something out with the Kurds so that they have some money, have some cashflow. Maybe we'll have one of our big oil companies to go in and do it properly," Trump said during a cabinet meeting on Monday.

Damascus is in great need of its oil resources amid crippling unilateral Western sanctions against the country.

The Pentagon also has a garrison of about 300 troops deployed in the al-Tanf region near Syria’s eastern border with Jordan and Iraq.

Earlier this month, President Trump gave a green light to Turkey to attack northeast Syria in an apparent bid to drive away Kurdish militants which it regards as terrorists from the regions near its border.

Turkish-led forces attack Syrian troops

Syria's official news agency SANA on Thursday said an attack on Syrian army positions by Turkish troops and its proxies positions left some casualties. Syrian troops were able to repel the assault, it added.

SANA did not further elaborate on the details of the attack.

Syrian troops were deployed to northern Syria last week after Kurdish-led forces turned to Damascus to counter Turkey's military operation. 

The Turkish attack on Syrian army positions took place despite Ankara and Moscow's "safe zone" agreement on Tuesday.

Under the deal, Russian military police and Syrian border guards will help with the withdrawal of Kurdish forces from a designated area drawn 30 kilometers deep into Syria from the Turkish border.

On Friday, the Russian Defense Ministry announced that about 300 additional police from the southern Russian region of Chechnya had arrived in Syria to take part in implementing the agreement.

Looming humanitarian catastrophe

The Russian and Syrian Coordination committees for the return of refugees on Thursday warned that the Turkish intervention in Syria may lead to a humanitarian and economic crisis for civilians living in the affected region.

“Returning the situation to normal in those regions requires re-establishment of control” by the Syrian government, a joint statement by the two committees said.

The statement said the Turkish incursion had displaced about 165,000 Syrians and that thousands had been able to return due to efforts led by the Syrian government.

Many humanitarian organizations have expressed concern about potential humanitarian costs of the Turkish operation.

On Thursday, SANA reported that anti-Turkey protests had been held by Syrian civilians in the Ras al-Ayn countryside. The protesters said they had been prevented from returning to their homes by Turkish forces.

Full report at:

https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2019/10/25/609526/Russia-US-troops-Syria

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Russia vows to respect rights of all under Syria deal

Elena Teslova 

25.10.2019

MOSCOW

Russia on Friday vowed to protect rights of all parties under the recent agreement signed with Turkey on Syria.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov rejected the German Defense Ministry’s proposal that Berlin should use its position as a nonpermanent member of the UN Security Council to create a basis for internationally controlled security zone on the basis of existing UN resolution.

"There is no need to mess with success, there are Russian-Turkish agreements supported by Damascus, the Kurds, they must be implemented," Lavrov said.

On Oct. 9, Turkey launched Operation Peace Spring to eliminate terrorists from northern Syria east of the Euphrates River in order to secure Turkey’s borders, aid in the safe return of Syrian refugees, and ensure Syria’s territorial integrity.

On Tuesday, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin held a meeting in Russia's Black Sea resort town of Sochi.

Ankara and Moscow reached a deal under which YPG/PKK terrorists will pull back 30 kilometers (18.6 miles) south of Turkey’s border with northern Syria within 150 hours, and security forces from Turkey and Russia will conduct joint patrols there.

Full report at:

https://www.aa.com.tr/en/europe/russia-vows-to-respect-rights-of-all-under-syria-deal/1626421

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Africa

 

67 killed in anti-Abiy protests, ethnic violence in Ethiopia: Police

Oct 25, 2019

Violence in Ethiopia that began with protests against Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed and quickly morphed into ethnic clashes has left 67 people dead in Oromia state, a police official said Friday.

The spike in the death toll came as the high-profile activist at the center of the violence accused Abiy, this year's Nobel Peace Prize laureate, of acting like a dictator and suggesting he might challenge him in elections planned for next year.

"The total number dead in Oromia is 67," said Kefyalew Tefera, the regional police chief, adding that five of the dead were police officers.

Violence erupted in Addis Ababa, the capital, and in much of Ethiopia's Oromia region on Wednesday after the activist, Jawar Mohammed, accused security forces of trying to orchestrate an attack against him -- a claim police officials denied.

Kefyalew told AFP that the violence had ended in Oromia but Amnesty International researcher Fisseha Tekle said late Friday that he was still receiving reports of attacks.

The defense ministry said Friday that it was deploying forces to seven hotspots to restore order, according to the state-affiliated Fana Broadcasting Corporate.

Jawar is credited with promoting protests that swept Abiy to power last year but he has recently become critical of some of the premier's policies.

In an interview at his residence in Addis Ababa, Jawar told AFP that Abiy -- named Nobel Peace laureate two weeks ago -- seemed to be taking Ethiopia back to "the old ways" of authoritarian rule.

"He has resorted to the early signs of dictatorship, of trying to intimidate people, even his very close allies who helped him come to power who happen to disagree with some of the policies and positions and ideologies he's advocating," Jawar said.

"Intimidation is the start of authoritarian rule."

Both men are members of the Oromo ethnic group, Ethiopia's largest.

Their feud highlights divisions within Abiy's Oromo support base that could complicate his bid for a five-year term when Ethiopia votes in elections currently planned for May 2020.

Jawar said that running against Abiy was "one possibility," though he also said he could be convinced to back Abiy if he changes course.

"I want to have an active role in the coming election. In what capacity I'm not sure but I want to make sure that the influence I have in the country has a positive contribution," he said.

Religious, ethnic conflict

After two days of violent protests, tensions had cooled Friday in Addis Ababa, although the total damage inflicted by the unrest was still being tallied.

Fisseha of AI said the violence had included instances of security forces opening fire on protesters but was increasingly taking the form of ethnic and religious clashes.

"Some people have lost their lives with sticks, with machetes, some houses have been burned. People have been using even bullets and light arms to kill each other, to fight each other," he said.

At least six people were killed in the town of Ambo, west of Addis, after security forces opened fire on protesters, Fisseha said.

Ethnic and religious violence has been reported in the towns and cities of Dodola, Harar, Balerobe and Adama.

Property belonging to the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church, which some associate with the Amhara ethnic group, has been targeted in several locations, Fisseha said.

Daniel Bekele, head of the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission, urged public figures to tamp down virulent rhetoric that could contribute to additional unrest.

"It is extremely depressing that public officials and community leaders don't appreciate the consequences of their actions and words leading to this senseless loss of lives, destruction of property and disruption of ordinary life," he said.

"As security forces are struggling to calm the crisis, everyone has a responsibility to do their share and cooperate."

https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2019/10/25/609577/Ethiopia-protests-ethnic-violence-Abiy-Ahmed-Jawar-Mohammed

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38 UN, aid workers killed in Nigeria: official

26.10.2019

Nigeria

MAIDUGURI, Nigeria

Nearly 40 United Nations staff and aid workers have been killed in the last decade by Boko Haram violence in the volatile Nigeria northeast region, a UN official said Friday.

"A total of 38 UN and NGO workers, most of them Nigerian, have been killed since 2011," according to UN Under-Secretary General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator Mark Lowcock who said the figure includes 10 aid workers who died in nearly two years.

Lowcock announced plans by the military to lift the suspension on activities of two international aid organizations.

The military in September suspended Action Against Hunger and Mercy Corps, two aid organizations providing humanitarian support in the northeast on suspicion of collaborating with Boko Haram.

He said six aid workers abducted by Boko Haram in June have yet to be rescued but maintained that all humanitarian groups working in Nigeria which received support from the UN operate in conformity with international standards.

Lowcock said counterterrorism operations of the Nigerian military cannot succeed without humanitarian support from aid organizations.

The envoy said the UN has received assurances from authorities to lift the ban placed on two international aid organizations by the military for the resumption of humanitarian interventions of about 400,000 people in the northeast region.

Full report at:

https://www.aa.com.tr/en/africa/38-un-aid-workers-killed-in-nigeria-official-/1626697

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Somalia authorities hand over two Al-Shabaab suspects to Kenyan police

Cyrus Ombati 

24th Oct 2019

Kenya police are holding two men believed to be members of the Al-Shabaab terror group after they were handed over by Somalia police.

According to the officers, suspects are believed to have fled to Somalia after committing a crime in the region and near Liboi border.

They have been linked to the deadly October 12, 2019, attack in Liboi where 11 General Service Unit personnel were killed. When they were handed over to Kenya on Wednesday, one of them had an AK47 rifle belonging to Kenya police; an indication it was one of the guns stolen from the slain officers.

North Eastern Police Commander Mr Paul Soi said the suspects are under interrogation before further action is taken on them.

Those handed over were identified as Farah Ahmed Sanbul alias Faragon and Mihat Daar Khalif and they had an AK47 rifle belonging to Kenya Police which had 30 bullets, another AK47 rifle belonging to Somalia with five magazines and 117 bullets, another AK47 rifle with four bullets and a pistol which had five magazines with 40 bullets.

This comes days after police identified Abdullahi Banati, as the man who led the team that planted the Improvised Explosive Devices (IED) leading to the death of the officers stationed at the Harhar GSU camp on October 12, 2019.

Police say Banati planned the attack alongside Al-Shabaab operatives based in the Daadab refugee camp, which has been associated with several other terrorist attacks.

According to police, Banati and his team operate along the Kenya-Somali border and have been executing attacks on security agencies.

 “Police have traced the activities of Banati and his team of militants to the border and it is suspected that he escaped to Somalia with the rest of the operatives,” said police in a statement.

Banati is reported to have joined the militant group in 2012 and took part in the attack on the Baure Kenya Defense Forces (KDF) camp in 2015 where 11 of his colleagues were killed.

He is reported to have been injured but went into hiding only to resurface in 2018 when he took part in several attacks along the Somalia border.

Police have now appealed to members of the public with any information on the suspect to report it to them immediately.

The officers from the Harhar GSU camp died at Degow, on the road between Liboi and Damajale close to the Kenya-Somalia border as they were conducting a routine security patrol at around 4 pm.

A joint patrol team of officers drawn from Kenya Defence Forces (KDF), Administration Police, Rapid Border Patrol Unit and Kenya Police Service have since been deployed to comb the area around the scene of the incident.

And a matatu driver saved the lives of nine people from an attempted terror attack after he sped off as about ten men waved him down and later opened fire on their vehicle on the Elwak-Borehole Road in Mandera.

Police said no one was injured in the Wednesday evening incident after the driver sped off. The vehicle was carrying construction workers when it was targeted.

Local officials termed the driver as brave even as others said they fear there are terrorists operating in the area. The driver was said to be a local while the passengers were non-locals who were the targets.

Full report at:

https://www.standardmedia.co.ke/article/2001346721/somalia-officers-hand-two-al-shabaab-suspects-to-kenyan-police

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ISWAP fighters kill Nigeria troops in clashes near Jakana

OCTOBER 20, 2019

At least four Nigerian soldiers and a militia fighter were killed in clashes with Islamic State West Africa Province fighters in northeast Nigeria’s Borno state, security sources told AFP on Sunday.

Fighting erupted late on Saturday, October 19 when troops ambushed an ISWAP convoy near Jakana, which is around 40 km (25 miles) west of Borno state capital Maiduguri.

“We lost four soldiers and a member of the vigilante group in the fighting,” a military officer said in reference to a militia in the region.

“The terrorists came in large numbers and our troops fought gallantly but they were overwhelmed,” added the officer who asked not to be identified for fear of sanction.

Several troops were also injured and four trucks were lost to the militants, he said.

The insurgents were riding in pickup trucks fitted with machine guns according to a militiaman who confirmed the death toll.

ISIS in Saturday statement claimed ISWAP fighters attacked a military base in Jakana. It said they clashed with troops for several hours, killing 10 and injuring others, and that three four-wheel-drive vehicles were captured.

‘Tactical boomerang’

In a Sunday statement, the Nigerian Army said seven “marauding Boko Haram criminals” were killed and eight injured when their vehicle hit a roadside bomb as they were “escaping the unbearable battle heat” near Jakana on Friday.

The improvised explosive device had been planted by the insurgents in Lamba’a Forest, along the Jakana to Mainok Road, army spokesperson Colonel Aminu Iliyasu said in the statement, describing the blast a “tactical boomerang.”

In July, ISWAP militants were blamed for an attack on a military base in Jakana that followed the ambush of a military vehicle nearby in which six soldiers were reportedly killed.

Jakana lies on a 120-km highway that links Maiduguri and Damaturu, the capital of Yobe state.

Although ISWAP’s main area of operations is further east in the Lake Chad area, the group has attacked a number of military locations in the Maiduguri-Biu-Damuturu triangle in recent months. In late July, ISIS claimed ISWAP fighters killed 25 Nigerian troops in Benisheikh and earlier that month claimed ISWAP fighters fought off a Nigerian military assault in the Damboa area.

On October 3, a military source told AFP that ISWAP fighters killed 11 soldiers and injured 16 when they ambushed a military convoy in Benisheikh district.

Premium Times reported that 34 members of 154 Task Force Battalion who were on patrol in the Mauli–Borgozo area, south of Benisheikh, when they were ambushed at around 11:25 a.m.

Islamic State did not claim responsibility for the ambush, but did claim on October 3 that ISWAP fighters “set up a checkpoint on the road between the city of Maiduguri and the town of Benisheikh in the Borno region,” capturing and killing a Christian.

A week earlier, ISIS claimed 17 Nigerian Army soldiers were killed and seven vehicles destroyed on September 27 by ISWAP fighters near Buni Yadi in Yobe state, which is around 80 km southwest of Benisheikh, on the road between Biu and Damaturu.

In a statement ISIS claimed ISWAP fighters attacked a military base in the town, prompting soldiers to withdraw south towards Buratai. The statement claimed the withdrawing soldiers were hit by six IEDs that had previously been planted on the road, killing 17 and injuring others.

Militia sources had told AFP that six people were killed the previous day when their car hit a land mine outside Kamuya village, which is in the Buratai area.

The home village of Chief of Army Staff Lieutenant General Tukur Yusuf Buratai’s mother according to AFP, Kamuya has seen a number of violent events this year, most recently on September 6, when at least one soldier was killed and three others injured in an ambush on a military convoy near Kamuya. The following day, ISIS claimed ISWAP fighters had killed two soldiers in an attack near Buratai.

A decade of Islamist insurgency

The jihadist group known as Boko Haram began its bloody insurgency in northeastern Nigeria in 2009, but it has since spread into neighboring Niger, Chad and Cameroon, prompting a regional military response.

Boko Haram split into two factions in mid-2016. One, led by long-time leader Abubakar Shekau, is notorious for suicide bombings and indiscriminate killings of civilians. Shekau pledged allegiance to ISIS leader Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi in March 2015, but ISIS central only gives formal backing to the other faction, which it calls Islamic State West Africa Province.

The ISWAP faction, which largely focuses on attacking military and government targets, was led by Abu Mus’ab Al-Barnawi, but in March, audio recordings revealed that ISIS appointed Abu Abdullah Idris bin Umar, also known as Ibn Umar al-Barnawi and Ba Idrisa, as ISWAP leader. ISIS has not yet made a public statement confirming the change. On September 10, the United States added Ba Idrisa to its Specially Designated Global Terrorist list, but did not specify which faction he belongs to.

The U.S. assesses that Boko Haram and ISWAP are responsible for more than 35,000 deaths since 2011. More than two million people have been displaced by the conflict, sparking a dire humanitarian crisis in the region. Earlier this month, the International Committee of the Red Cross said that nearly 22,000 people, mostly children, are missing as a result of the northeast Nigeria insurgency.

Buratai in May said Boko Haram was defeated and the Nigerian military is now fighting what he reportedly described as an international criminal gang known as ISWAP. In July, a spokesperson for President Muhammadu Buhari again insisted that Boko Haram was defeated, blaming ongoing violence in the northeast on international jihadists that were exploiting porous borders with Sahel countries.

Full report at:

https://thedefensepost.com/2019/10/20/nigeria-troops-killed-jakana-iswap/

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Cameroon: France offers FCFA 30 billion to fight Boko Haram

25.10.2019

The government of France has offered FCFA 30 billion to Cameroon to help fight the Boko Haram islamists in the Far North Region of Cameroon.

During his recent visit to Cameroon, French Foreign Minister, Jean Yves Le Drian said the money wil be used to rebuild and provide basic amenities to localities ravaged by Boko Haram atrocities in the Far North Region of Cameroon.

“We stand by Cameroon in the fight against Boko Haram. This fight also requires a financial engagement,” Jean Yves Le Drian said.

This latest financial assistance adds to the various projects financed by France in the Far North Region, notably in agriculture, health and education.

https://www.journalducameroun.com/en/cameroon-france-offers-fcfa-30-billion-to-fight-boko-haram/

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India

 

Maharashtra: 10 Muslim candidates make it to the Assembly

by Rasia Hashmi

October 25, 2019

Mumbai: 10 Muslim candidates have won the election in Maharashtra raising the number of Muslim candidates in the 14th Legislative Assembly to 10 from earlier 9. 9 Muslim MLAs were elected in 2014.

Candidate      Party   Constituency

Amin Patel    Congress       Mumbadevi

Aslam Shaikh Congress       Malad

Hasan Mushrif NCP    Kagal

Abu Asim Azmi        Samajwadi Party      Shivaji Nagar-Mankhurd

Mufti Ismail   AIMIM  Malegaon Central

Shah Faruk    AIMIM  Dhule City

Rais Shaikh    Samajwadi Party      Bhiwandi East

Nawab Malik  NCP    Anushakti Nagar

Zeeshan Siddiqui      Congress       Bandra East

Abdul Sattar   Shiv Sena       Sillod

According to Indian Express, with a population of 1.3 crores, Muslims constitute 11.56 per cent of Maharashtra’s total 11.24-crore population. Majority of Muslim population resides in northern Konkan, Khandesh, Marathwada and western Vidarbha.

In 1999 the state had the highest number of Muslim MLAs in the Assembly with 13 candidates. After been on a decline for a decade again the community has picked up in 2019.

https://www.siasat.com/maharashtra-10-muslim-candidates-make-it-assembly-1704858/

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SC to examine Hindu, Muslim laws on kids' welfare in custody battles between spouses

OCT 25, 2019

The Supreme Court Friday agreed to examine the constitutional validity of certain legal provisions of various Hindu and Muslim personal laws which favour granting custody of children to one of the separated spouses only, overlooking their welfare and fundamental right to have "care and love of both the parents".

A bench headed by Chief Justice of Ranjan Gogoi took note of the PIL filed by  ondonbased NRI activist Sulochana Rani and issued the notice to the Central government represented by Solicitor General Tushar Mehta.

"This matter certainly requires examination," Mehta told the bench which also comprised Justices S A Bobde and S A Nazeer.

The plea, filed through lawyer Kaleeswaram Raj, raised "significant questions relating to the laws on custody and guardianship of children in India" and sought directions of the apex court to develop the concept of "shared parenting" keeping in mind the welfare of children of estranged and warring couple.

"The legal provisions which currently exist as per various personal laws are in the nature of entrusting the custody of children exclusively to one of the parents in case of separation.

"The statutes create a strong presumption in favour of exclusive custody. This presumption severely affects the fundamental rights of the spouse who has been denied the custody rights and the fundamental rights of the child who will be deprived of care and love of both parents," the plea said.

It referred to sections 6(a) and 7 of the Hindu Minorities and Guardianship Act, 1956 and said that they be held "unconstitutional" as they give primacy to men over women with regard to custody of children and they are violative of Article 14 (right to equality) in the Constitution.

The plea then referred to customary practice among Muslims and the Muslim Personal Law (Shariat) Application Act, 1937 and said as per them, father is considered as the guardian of the child and the mother is entitled to get automatic custody only for a short period of five years after the birth of the kids.

"Hence, it is the father who is entitled to get custody of the child. Both situations, that is, giving custody to the mother during the early years of the child and thereafter giving custody to the father in a mechanical manner, are antithetical to the very concept of welfare of the child.

"Gender based fixation of right to custody and guardianship is discriminatory and it has to be held as unconstitutional as it violates Article 14 (right to equality) and Article 21 (right to life and liberty) of the Constitution.

These statutory schemes require "reformation" as they are violative of various fundamental rights including the right to equality and the right to life of the child and deprived spouses, it said.

The plea sought a direction for the child-centric approach based on the idea of shared parenting to ensure effective implementation of the rights of the child in various areas such as "custody, guardianship and adoption".

Full report at:

https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/politics-and-nation/sc-to-examine-hindu-muslim-laws-on-kids-welfare-in-custody-battles-between-spouses/articleshow/71763666.cms

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Pakistan must decisively abjure terrorism for its own good: M Venkaiah Naidu

Oct 25, 2019

BAKU: Describing Pakistan as the "contemporary epicentre" of terrorism, India said on Friday that Islamabad must decisively abjure terrorism for its own good, for that of its neighbours and for the good of the world. Addressing the 18th Summit of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) here, Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu said terrorism is the single most destructive threat, not only to international peace and security, but to the very principles of the 120-member grouping.

"On the subject of terrorism, our thoughts naturally go to its contemporary epicentre - Pakistan," Naidu said, in a rare direct reference at an international forum to Islamabad which is accused by its neighbours of providing safe havens to terrorists who carry out cross-border attacks.

The Vice President also expressed regret over the "misuse" of the forum to justify once again Pakistan's long standing policy of conducting cross border terrorism against its neighbours, including the State of Jammu and Kashmir which is an integral part of India.

"Indeed, we speak for the larger region in terms of this deep concern over Pakistan's behaviour. All of us in the NAM are focused on meeting our developmental goals and aspirations. Pakistan clearly needs to do much more to earn the confidence of the international community. It must decisively abjure terrorism - for its own good, for that of its neighbours and for the good of the world," he said in a strongly worded statement.

Paris-based Financial Action Task Force (FATF) last week gave a warning to Pakistan at its five-day plenary decided to again put the country on the 'Grey List'.

The international terror financing watchdog warned Pakistan that it will be blacklisted if it does not control terror funding by February next, voicing serious concern over that country's failure to deliver on most of its 27 targets.

In his speech, Naidu said the terrorism's capacity to inflict damage has multiplied with the diffusion of information technology, giving terrorist organisations offensive cyber capabilities.

"The only way to fight this menace is to strengthen and implement, without exception, all existing international laws and mechanisms to combat terrorists and their enablers," he said, adding that there cannot be any justification for violent extremist ideologies and terrorist actions.

"I call upon all our NAM partners to come together to forge a common front against terror in all its forms. We must do this by stepping up inter-agency coordination, exchanging information, and strengthening the existing legal framework by endorsing the Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism (CCIT) proposed by India in 1996. All this is really possible when we have a clear commitment to zero tolerance towards terrorism," Naidu said.

India proposed the CCIT in 1996 to further strengthen the existing legal frameworks. However, there is little progress on it even after two decades.

Naidu said the contemporary threats respect no borders - whether it is terrorism, climate change, pandemics, financial crises, or cyber security.

"Today we are faced with serious challenges of an interdependent world. Globalisation and unprecedented technological advances are shaping the 21st century in unpredictable and often disruptive ways. As we all strive to ensure inclusive and sustainable growth and a better future for our peoples, we must realise that our destinies are linked like never before," he said.

Naidu also sought the UN Security Council reforms to reflect the contemporary realities of the 21st Century.

"We hope that the 75th Anniversary of the United Nations will finally produce concrete outcomes towards this goal," he said.

He said the NAM countries need to work together to uphold the rules based global order and respect for international law.

"Our Movement was created to provide a platform for autonomy of policy for newly independent and developing nations, an objective that remains relevant today. We should demonstrate the strength of unity in diversity by pursuing a focused positive long-term agenda," he added.

Full report at:

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/pakistan-must-decisively-abjure-terrorism-for-its-own-good-m-venkaiah-naidu/articleshow/71766967.cms

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Suspected militants kill two in Indian Kashmir, set apple trucks ablaze

Fayaz Bukhari

OCTOBER 24, 2019

SRINAGAR, India (Reuters) - Suspected militants shot and killed two drivers and set fire to their apple trucks in Indian Kashmir on Thursday, a senior police official said.

The official said the attack took place in south Kashmir’s Shopian district, which is a major apple-growing region and a hotbed of militancy that has raged in Indian Kashmir for decades.

The state police tweeted that two civilians had been killed and a third person injured in Shopian, but did not give details.

There have been signs that militant actions have picked up in Indian Kashmir in last two months after New Delhi revoked the region’s decades-old autonomy in August.

Apple farming provides jobs for some 3.5 million people and is a major part of Indian Kashmir’s economy, which went into a tailspin after New Delhi imposed a lockdown on the region, including cutting phone and internet links.

Over the last two weeks, suspected militants have killed one truck driver and a trader in Shopian.

However, trade has shown signs of recovery, as more than 10,000 trucks laden with apples left Indian-ruled Kashmir last week. On an average, about 300-400 apple trucks have been moving out of Shopian alone, over the last 10 days.

In a separate incident in northern Kashmir, one woman was killed and three other civilians injured on Thursday in cross-border shelling between Indian and Pakistani forces in the disputed Kashmir region, a senior Indian police official said.

Indian and Pakistani troops targeted each others’ security posts in the Tanghdar region in northern Kashmir with heavy artillery firing and mortar on Thursday afternoon, the official said.

Tensions between the two countries have flared and there has been intermittent cross-border firing since Aug. 5 when New Delhi flooded Indian Kashmir with troops to quell unrest after it revoked the region’s special autonomous status.

Full report at:

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-india-kashmir-apples/suspected-militants-kill-two-in-indian-kashmir-set-apple-trucks-ablaze-idUSKBN1X328R

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Plea in SC by Kashmiri Pandits supporting abrogation of Article 370

Oct 25, 2019

NEW DELHI: Two Kashmiri Pandits and an apex body of various associations formed by the community have moved the Supreme Court in support of the government's decision to abrogate provisions of Article 370 that gave special status to Jammu and Kashmir.

The plea by Tej Kumar Moza, Karishma Tej Kumar Moza and All India Kashmiri Samaj, seeking to be made parties in the ongoing matter, said that Article 370 was a transitory provision that was enacted keeping in mind the peculiar situation of Jammu and Kashmir and to enable it to completely integrate into the Union of India.

It categorically provides power to the President to cease the operation of the Article through a public notification, the plea said.

"It is therefore submitted that the formulations and notifications of the 2019 order is in consonance with the provisions of Article 370 and the 2019 amendment act is a consequential legislative action that flows from it," the plea said.

"The Treaty of Accession of Jammu and Kashmir to the Republic of India was an unconditional one and it was always the intention of the State of Jammu and Kashmir to be completed integrated with the Republic of India. Article 370 was a temporary provision inserted with the object of peace, security, law and order in the State," the plea filed by All India Kashmiri Samaj said.

The petition also stated that Jammu and Kashmir has been consistently threatened by infiltration from Pakistan and China with frequent incidents of cross-border radicalism and terrorism.

The apex court has fixed November 14 to commence hearing on a batch of petitions challenging constitutional validity of the Centre's decision to abrogate Article 370 provisions.

A five-judge Constitution bench headed by Justice N V Ramana had allowed the Centre and the Jammu and Kashmir administration to file counter-affidavits on petitions challenging scrapping of Article 370.

Several political parties including the National Conference (NC), the Sajjad Lone-led J&K Peoples Conference and CPI (M) leader Mohd Yousuf Tarigami have filed pleas, challenging the Centre's August 5 decision.

The petition on behalf of the NC was filed by Lok Sabha MPs Mohammad Akbar Lone and Justice (retd) Hasnain Masoodi. In 2015, Justice (retd) Masoodi had ruled that Article 370 was a permanent feature of the Constitution.

Full report at:

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/plea-in-sc-by-kashmiri-pandits-supporting-abrogation-of-article-370/articleshow/71765911.cms

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Army chief says PoK is illegally occupied, is run by terrorists

October 26, 2019

Army chief General Bipin Rawat on Friday said that Gilgit-Baltistan and parts of Kashmir are illegally occupied by Pakistan, and said that Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK) is a “terrorist-controlled country”.

Delivering a lecture in Delhi, Gen Rawat said, “When we say Jammu and Kashmir, the complete state of Jammu and Kashmir includes PoK and Gilgit-Baltistan… PoK and Gilgit-Baltistan become an occupied territory – a territory which has been illegally occupied by our western neighbour.”

He said that Pakistan had not objected when Article 370 had been introduced, but because PoK is controlled by terrorists, the country has been so vocal since Article 370 was abrogated.

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#WATCH Delhi: Army Chief General Bipin Rawat says, "...The territory which has been illegally occupied by Pakistan is not controlled by the Pakistani establishment, it is controlled by terrorists. PoK is actually a terrorist controlled part of Pakistan."

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Gen Rawat said that when Article 370 was brought in, “it was clearly mentioned that it was temporary in nature”, and when it “was introduced with the word temporary, there was no objection from Pakistan”. He said that Article 370 was even amended twice.

“Why is it that Pakistan has suddenly has woken up and has raised the ante on Article 370?” the Army Chief asked, before answering it himself, saying, “It is because the illegal territory that has been occupied by Pakistan, illegally occupied by Pakistan, it is not controlled by the Pakistani establishment. It is controlled by the terrorists.”

The Army chief emphasised, “PoK is actually a terrorist-controlled country, or a terrorist-controlled part of Pakistan.”

J&K, he said, has “always been a part of our great nation”, and in Article 1 of the Indian Constitution, he said that “it is mentioned that Jammu and Kashmir as a whole is a part of India”.

Gen Rawat’s comments on India’s rights over Gilgit-Baltistan follow a series of statements made by the political leadership in the same vein.

Delivering the speech in Parliament on August 6, a day after Article 370 was abrogated and J&K was bifurcated into two Union Territories, Home Minister Amit Shah had said, “Kashmir is an integral part of India. When I talk about Jammu and Kashmir, Pakistan occupied Kashmir and Aksai Chin are included in it.”

Later, on August 18, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh had said, “After the Article 370 and 35A (moves), one our neighbours is going crazy and knocking on the doors of all the nations of the world. Some people believe that talks should be held with Pakistan but as long as Pakistan supports terror, there will be no talks. If there will be talks, it will be on PoK.”

Full report at:

https://indianexpress.com/article/india/army-chief-says-pok-is-illegally-occupied-is-run-by-terrorists-6088483/

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2008 Mumbai terror attack: Gujarat HC gives govt more time to pay compensation to Kuber crew member’s widow

October 26, 2019

The Gujarat High Court (HC) on Friday granted the state government time till November 11 to comply with the court’s earlier order of October 22 wherein it had directed it to pay a compensation of Rs 5 lakh by Friday to the widow of a fisherman whom terrorists are presumed to have killed after hijacking the trawler “Kuber” used for the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks.

The court of Justice Bhargav Karia on Tuesday said that the compensation be sanctioned within 48 hours of the order.

The court had further specified that if there is no contingency fund, the compensation may then be paid from the Chief Minister’s fund. However, on Friday, the state government prayed for time to comply with the court’s order so as to verify that the petitioner’s late husband was indeed part of the Kuber trawler.

The state government also submitted that once verification is done, the amount payable to the widow shall be released immediately.

Justice Karia’s grant of time also came on the back of the fact that the state government had filed an appeal before the division bench headed by Chief Justice Vikram Nath, seeking “reasonable time” to make the payment. The division bench had directed them to put forth the same request before Justice Karia’s court.

Jashiben’s husband Ramesh-bhai Bambhania, a fisherman and sailor, was aboard the Kuber when it was hijacked mid-sea by Lashkar-e-Toiba terrorist Ajmal Kasab and nine other accomplices to access the Mumbai coast on November 26, 2008.

When police searched the abandoned boat, they found Captain Amarsinh Solanki’s decapitated head whereas four other sailors on board, including Bambhania, were not found.

Full report at:

https://indianexpress.com/article/india/2008-mumbai-terror-attack-gujarat-hc-gives-govt-more-time-to-pay-compensation-to-kuber-crew-members-widow-6088642/

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Gujarat: Jamiat Ulema-e-Hind to provide legal aid to Tiwari murder accused

October 26, 2019

The Jamiat Ulema-e-Hind has agreed to bear the legal expenses and offered the service of its legal cell for the defence of the five accused arrested in the Kamlesh Tiwari murder case.

They appealed to the Jamiat, a leading organisation of Islamic scholars of the Deobandi school of thought, for aid to fight the legal battle as they were poor.

Kamlesh Tiwari, national president of the Hindu Samaj Party, was allegedly shot and stabbed to death by Farid alias Moinuddin Pathan, and Ashfaq Shaikh, both residents of Surat, at his house in lucknow in Uttar Pradesh, on October 18 afternoon.

Gujarat Anti-Terrorism Squad and Surat Crime Branch have arrested five accused allegedly involved in the conspiracy and murder of Tiwari. Apart from Rashid and Ashfaq, the others are Maulana Mohsin Shaikh, Faizan Shaikh and Moinuddin Pathan, also residents of Surat. Moinuddin and Rashid are brothers. Maharashtra ATS had also arrested one more accused identified as Sayyad Asim ali from Nagpur.

All the arrested are at present with Lucknow police custody and they are interrogating motive behind murder and who others are involved in this entire operation.

After the arrests made headlines, members of the Surat wing of the Jamiat Ulema-e-Hind met the family members of all the five murder accused. The team spoke to the family members asking what possible help they would need. The family members of all the five accused told the Jamiat members that they are unable to bear the expenses for a good lawyer. The Jamiat agreed to bear the expenses after getting an application in writing from the kin of the accused.

“We met with the delegation of Jamiat Ulema -e-Hind, and they took details of our children and expressed their help. We showed them our house and told them that we are not financially strong to bear the legal expenses,” Farid and Rashid’s father Khurshid Pathan. “The delegates took our signature on a paper in which they had mentioned that we are willing to take help from the Jamiat. There is no other way, and we are thankful to the organisation for coming forward and extending legal help.”

Full report at:

https://indianexpress.com/article/india/gujarat-jamiat-ulema-e-hind-to-provide-legal-aid-to-tiwari-murder-accused-6088627/

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Kartarpur Corridor puts Dera Baba Nanak on road to progress

Surjit Singh

Oct 26, 2019

The Kartarpur Corridor, which will open next month, has catapulted the otherwise sleepy town of Dera Baba Nanak as a port of trans-border pilgrimage, giving a fillip to the local economy and raising hopes of brighter days for the border belt in Punjab.

India and Pakistan on Thursday signed an agreement for operationalising the Kartarpur Corridor that will allow Indian pilgrims visa-free access to the gurdwara built at the site in Pakistani Punjab where Guru Nanak, the founder of Sikhism, spent the last years of his life.

The agreement provides a formal framework for the corridor that will link Dera Baba Nanak, 65 km from Amritsar, in India’s Gurdaspur district to Durbar Sahib Gurdwara in Pakistan’s Kartarpur.

Local residents and entrepreneurs, particularly in the hospitality and travel sectors, say the economic spinoff from the work on the Kartarpur Corridor as a godsend. However, they also point put that there is a hitch given the volatility in the ties between India and Pakistan.

The corridor may have opened up opportunities and led to the tripling of real estate prices but the enthusiasm is yet to translate into land deals in the town that has remained in the shadow of neglect after being the theatre of two wars between India and Pakistan in 1965 and 1971.

The uncertainty in relations with the neighbouring country is to blame.

Only queries, no deal

Local farmers and officials say although prospective buyers have been inquiring about land prices but nothing has materialised.

“People wanting to buy land along the highway have contacted me since I’m in the revenue office. They check the price and seek advice but not a single case of sale of land has come to me so far,” says Kuldeep Singh, the tehsildar of Dera Baba Nanak.

Suba Singh, a farmer who owns 70 acres along the highway near Chandu Nangal village on the town’s outskirts, also says prospective investors come visiting every two days.

“Some parties are even from Delhi and Mumbai. Most want to open hotels but nothing has been finalised. Both buyer and seller are reluctant. For instance, a landlord sought Rs 80 lakh per acre from a party but a few days later, another party offered him Rs 1.2 crore an acre. The price of the land has not been fixed yet,” Suba Singh says.

He says there are fears that a wall may be built along the highway which would negate the purpose of building hotels there.

“It’s wait and watch. We are waiting to assess the response. We’ll know how much time pilgrims spend in town and if retail traders will benefit. The time for entering and exiting Pakistan through the corridor will be fixed so we don’t know if they stay here or leave. It will take a few months to understand things,” says Sukhdeep Singh Bedi, a descendant of Guru Nanak Dev and social worker.

Traders need stability

People think the atmosphere is cordial for opening the corridor on the occasion of the 550th Parkash Parb or the birth anniversary of Guru Nanak Dev, says Perneet Singh Bedi, the president of the local municipal council.

“But things may get worse due to tension between the two countries. In such a situation, where do we go after investing crores?” Perneet Singh Bedi asks.

Amritsar-based hotelier Surinder Singh has similar concerns.

“We are interested but there are doubts. Instances of the Samjhauta Express, Delhi-Lahore bus service and Indo-Pak trade being suspended after the tension in Kashmir are concerns. Will the corridor also be affected? Investors are in double mind,” Surinder Singh says.

“A Delhi company wants to set up a tent city for pilgrims but investors are hesitant. They fear the money may go in vain given the situation,” he adds.

Guru Nanak’s descendent Sukhdeep Singh points out that nobody knows how much land is to be acquired at this stage.

“A lot needs to be done as part of the corridor project. For instance, the land will have to be acquired for residential flats for employees of departments such as customs, Border Security Force, army, intelligence agencies and immigration bureau. The land acquisition for these tasks is pending,” he says.

“Secondly, this town has hardly got 10 such people who have enough to spend on commercial outlets or hotels. Of them, some are not interested or are not cut out for entrepreneurship. Unless an investor comes from outside, the town’s growth is not possible,” he adds.

Cities to benefit

The hoteliers in Amritsar, Batala or Gurdaspur are likely to benefit as the sangats (pilgrims) visiting Kartarpur are less likely to stay in Dera Baba Nanak due to the online system of seeking permission.

These cities are 55 km, 35 km and 20km away respectively from Dera Baba Nanak.

“The government has closed both sides of the highway to pave the way for the corridor. So nobody can go on or get off the highway from its sides. The investors have no option other than selecting a site at the point from where the highway starts and roads from Amritsar, Gurdaspur and Batala meet,” says Perneet Singh Bedi.

The says the municipal council president urged the government to open a manual permission application counter at Dera Baba Nanak.

Full report at:

https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/kartarpur-corridor-puts-dera-baba-nanak-on-road-to-progress/story-jlxZZt4DfTJTvVXohGbeyK.html

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