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Mughal Emperor Akbar, Dara Shikoh, Shivaji, Maharaja Ranjit Singh: New Parliament Celebrates Heroes of Indian Democracy

New Age Islam News Bureau

18 September 2023


New Parliament Building



·         Parliament’s Journey Of 75 Years: PM Modi Cites Iconic Speeches of Nehru, Vajpayee, Says They Remain Inspiring

·         Why Hindu families in Rishikesh villages are razing 'Mazars' (tomb shrines)

·         UP woman, step-mother held for offering ‘namaz’ inside temple

·         J-K: Post Anantnag encounter, hunt on but no trace of Lashkar-e-Toiba militants yet

Arab World

·         The Downtrodden of The Arab World ‘Will Not Be Ignored,’ UNGA President Tells Arab News

·         Saudi National Orchestra gives a rousing performance in New York

·         Third Saudi relief plane departs for Libya carrying 50 tons of aid

·         Saudi Arabia-Japan sign pact for archaeological study in Tabuk

·         Efforts to resolve Syrian crisis tackled in meeting of Saudi FM, UN envoy

·         Saudi Arabia condemns storming of Al-Aqsa Mosque by Jewish extremists under Israeli police protection


South Asia

·         Two Years Passed, Interim Govt Yet to Be Official

·         Islamic Emirate Not Against Modern Science: Minister Nadeem

·         Kabul Only Banned 'Specific Secular Liberal Education': UK Cleric, Shaykh Hamid

·         Massive fire in Badakhshan causes over 1 million Afghanis in losses



·         Türkiye Rejects Attacks on Two Billion Muslims Values in Name of Freedom: Erdogan

·         Grand Mufti condemns Israeli raids on al-Aqsa Mosque and the closure of the Ibrahimi Mosque

·         Turkish drone attack kills 4 in northern Iraq

·         UAE Readies Big Welcome for Sultan AlNeyadi, First Arab Astronaut On Long-Term Space Mission

·         Israeli restrictions hinder Palestinians’ access to health care: World Bank

·         President Raeisi: Interaction with world countries, intl. organizations a pillar of Iran's policy

·         Thousands demonstrate against Israeli cabinet's policies for 37th straight week

·         Iran warns Iraq of 'eleventh-hour decision' about disarmament of Kurdish separatists

·         Israeli Forces Shoot Palestinian Youth Allegedly Attempting a Stabbing Near Jerusalem



·         Former Prime Minister Edouard Philippe Calls for New Law To 'Regulate' France's Muslims

·         French missionary priests suspected of child sexual assault in Thailand

·         Giant letter Z set on fire overnight in Russian city of Belgorod



·         Desecration Of Holy Quran, Religious Figures Unacceptable: Minister OfInterfaith Harmony

·         In a first, SC live streams hearing on law limiting CJP’s powers

·         With Pakistan’s help, Somalia launches ID system

·         Fazl proposes commission to resolve Pak-Afghan issues

·         Legal defenders emerge as PTI’s last line of support

·         Imran Khan's Key Ally and Leader of Awami Muslim League Sheikh Rashid Arrested in Pakistan


Southeast Asia

·         Islamic Religious Matters and Fatwas: Be Responsible, Do Not Give Speeches Arbitrarily, Says Religious Affairs Minister

·         Ebit Lew files police report alleging slander against him

·         PM to reply to DNAA issue in Dewan Rakyat tomorrow

·         AGC yet to decide on Zahid's representation letter in VLN case



·         Niger: Thousands Again Take Part In Anti-French Protests, Say 'Enough Is Enough'

·         Tinubu planning to unleash propaganda on Nigerians as state policy — Atiku’s aide

·         Libya: Greek rescuers among seven killed in road collision

·         Nigeria: Volunteers brave the rain to commemorate World Cleanup Day

·         French visa ban controversy: Nigerien artists refuse to let culture be "taken away"

·         Looted art stories take centre stage at Mauritshuis museum in The Hague


North America

·         US Ambassador to UAE visits Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque

·         Climate protesters in New York and across the globe send message to United Nations

·         US military asks for help finding its lost stealth F-35 jet

·         US tops 500 mass shootings this year

·         US using NATO to ‘absorb’ countries – Moscow

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau



Mughal Emperor Akbar, Dara Shikoh, Shivaji, Maharaja Ranjit Singh: New Parliament Celebrates Heroes of Indian Democracy


New Parliament Building


Tribune News Service

Aditi Tandon

New Delhi, September 17

All set for commencement from Ganesh Chaturthi, India's new Parliament House will celebrate the cultural, artistic and intellectual heritage of the country and hail heroes of unity and democracy, right from Mughal emperor Akbar and Dara Shikoh to founder of the Sikh empire Maharaja Ranjit Singh and Maratha king Chhatrapati Shivaji.

On the eve of the opening, Sachchidanand Joshi, lead curator of the complex's art project and Executive Director, Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts, spoke to The Tribune about the project and described “The Mother of Democracy" gallery in the Constitutional Foyer as the "soul of the building".

“The Mother of Democracy gallery has 16 niches depicting the journey of Indian democracy from Vedic times. The Rigveda and Atharvaveda refer to participatory institutions Sabha, Samiti and Sansad. The Ramayana and the Mahabharata have instances of people’s involvement in decision-making. Then we have Buddhist, Jain texts, examples from the Ashoka, Chanakya and Mauryan periods, Uthiramerur inscriptions Nadu that mention rules of engaging people in governance and medieval period with examples of good governance and rule of law under Shravasti King Suhaldev, Vijayanagara and Chola empires; Mughal emperor Akbar, Dara Shikoh, Shivaji Maharaj and Maharaja Ranjit Singh," says Joshi.

Apart from democratic traditions, the New Parliament showcases India's cultural wealth with three dedicated galleries. "The first gallery called Shipl houses 175 forms of handicraft created by over 500 artisans from across India. This gallery has eight themes including aastha (faith), a unique section showcasing terracotta products created with the soil sourced from every state and UT," says Joshi, whose team documented the Sengol, which stands installed near Lok Sabha Speaker's chair in the new building.

The second art gallery -- Sangeet -- has a section hosting musical instruments played by great maestros.

"The families donated these instruments willingly for the new Parliament. We have the Sitar of Pt Ravishankar; the shehnai of Ustad Bismillah Khan; the sarod of Ustad Amjad Ali Khan; the santoor of Pt Shiv Kumar Sharma; the flute of Pt Hariprasad Chaurasia and Karaikudi Mani's Mridangam,” says Joshi.

In the third gallery -- Sthapatya – exhibiting Indian architecture marvels, the curating team had only one rider. "We included Uncesco world heritage sites from each state and an iconic monument if the state did not have any Unesco site. The gallery represents each faith through grand murals of the Golden Temple, the oldest mosque in Kerala, and major temples. We had only one mandate – all art should be inclusive and representative," the project director for the New Parliament art notes.

Another unique aspect of the complex is its three ceremonial foyers – Gyan Mandap dedicated with 18 feet brass murals of Nalanda and Gargi; Sankalp Mandap depicting similar murals of Acharya Chanakya and Mahatma Gandhi and Kartavya Mandap with murals of the Konark Wheel, Sardar Patel and BR Ambedkar.

"We have six gates - three ceremonial and three public. Guardian statues depicting composite animals sit on each gate. Ceremonial gates are Gaja dwar (elephant); Ashwa dwar (horse) and Garuda dwar while public gates have Makar, Hans and Shardul dwars, each leading to an iconic segment inside," Joshi explains.

On the controversial Akhand Bharat Map in Mother of Democracy segment, Joshi said, “The map deals with Ashokan edicts available across India, also in Afghanistan to Nepal wherever such records are found. It is an artistic representation, not a map to scale, neither is it a political map.”


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Saudi Arabia Suspends Normalization Talks with IsraelDue to The Far-Right Israeli Cabinet’s Unwillingness to Make Any Concessions to The Palestinians: Report


File: Benjamin Netanyahu (right) during a Likud party meeting at the Knesset in Jerusalem on December 13, 2021; Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (left) speaks during the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) Summit in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, December 14, 2022. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90; Bandar Aljaloud/Saudi Royal Palace via AP)


 17 September 2023

Saudi Arabia has reportedly informed the United States of its decision to suspend all negotiations on normalizing ties with Israel due to the far-right Israeli cabinet’s unwillingness to make any concessions to the Palestinians.

The London-based Elaph online newspaper, citing an Israeli official, reported on Sunday that Washington has informed Tel Aviv of Riyadh's stance that the “extremist” nature of the occupying regime led by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is "torpedoing any possibility of rapprochement with the Palestinians, and therefore with the Saudis."

It went on to say that Israeli officials were “confused” by the decision, given that they believed the Saudis would move ahead with normalizing ties with Israel without relating it to the Palestinian issue.

The report further noted that the Saudis were discouraged after Netanyahu accepted the demands of hawkish Israeli ministers Itamar Ben-Gvir and Bezalel Smotrich to not make any concessions to Palestinians.

Therefore, it added, without any rapprochement with the Palestinians, there could be no progress with the Saudis.

An adviser to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said the road to normalizing with Saudi Arabia was “still long.”

US President Joe Biden declared on July 28 that a deal for Israel and Saudi Arabia to normalize relations may be on the horizon following National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan's talks with Saudi officials in Jeddah.

In order to sign a deal with Israel, Riyadh publicly asked Tel Aviv to implement the 2002 so-called Arab Peace Initiative to establish a Palestinian state first.

However, members of the far-right Israeli regime, led by Netanyahu, say they will not make any concession to the Palestinians as part of a potential deal for normalization of relations with Saudi Arabia.

Last week, US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken said that Saudi Arabia has let the Biden administration know that resolving Palestinian issues is critical for any normalization deal with Israel.

The US says no agreement has been reached yet to normalize ties between Saudi Arabia and Israel, adding that more discussions are needed before any such deal happens.

In addition, according to US officials, the Saudis are privately asking the US to guarantee the kingdom's security in the event of an attack and provide access to civilian nuclear technology, as well as more advanced US weapons systems.

Washington’s efforts for adding Saudi Arabia to the list of Arab countries that have signed the Abraham Accords come at a critical time when Biden is seeking re-election and the US government has been left embarrassed by the kingdom’s bolstering of ties with Iran and Syria, and its further gravitation toward China.

The UAE, Bahrain, Sudan, and Morocco signed US-brokered normalization agreements with Israel in 2020, drawing condemnations from Palestinians who slammed the deals as “a stab in the back of the Palestinian cause and the Palestinian people.”


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Gathering in Kabul Remembers Victims of Past 20-Year War


A gathering titled “infliction of damage on the Afghans by the foreigners over the past 20 years of war,”


Naveed Samadi

September 17, 2023

A gathering titled “infliction of damage on the Afghans by the foreigners over the past 20 years of war,” was held in Kabul, where some political analysts expressed criticism over the killing of thousands of Afghans within this period.

Speaking at the gathering, Salim Paigir, head of Hezb-e-Mutahid Fikri Afghanistan, criticized the stance of the international community toward Afghanistan including the freezing of Afghanistan’s foreign reserves.

He also said that the neighboring countries are torturing Afghans under various pretexts.

Paigir criticized Afghan leaders abroad for leaving the country behind in dire conditions.

“We want them not only to pay compensation to the people of Helmand but also want them to pay compensation to even each stone of Afghanistan,” he said.

Hamidullah Hotak, a political analyst, called on the Islamic Emirate to reopen the schools and universities for the girls.

However, he stressed that the leader of the Islamic Emirate does not want to ban women from education and there are some problems in this regard which will be addressed.

He requested that the Islamic Emirate leader appear in public and listen to the voices of the people.

Hotak stressed that no one will be able to beat the Islamic Emirate if the people remain supportive of it.

“Unfortunately, always when the issue comes to the pen, we lose it. When the issue comes to politics, we lose it. Let’s fill this vacuum and I call on the leadership of the Islamic Emirate Sheikh Hibatullah Akhundzada to hear our voice and hear the voices of our children, sisters and mothers,” he said.

“He (Leader of the Islamic Emirate) 100 percent listens to these voices and not only this but also to the voices of the politicians who want to benefit Afghanistan and its people and he practices it at some points,” said Torialai, a member of the Islamic Emirate.

Abdul Jabar Safi, who had 14 family members either killed and wounded, complained that there has been no attention paid to his problems.

Some of the participants of the gathering called for unity among the people.


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Israel cries foul after UNESCO lists Ariha ruins as World Heritage Site in Palestine


A view of the prehistoric site of Tell es-Sultan [Hazem Bader/AFP]


18 September 2023

Israel cries foul after a UN conference votes to list the ruins near the ancient West Bank city of Ariha as a “World Heritage Site in Palestine”.

Ariha or Jericho is one of the oldest continually inhabited cities on earth, and is in a part of the West Bank that is administered by the Palestinian Authority.

The listing refers to the Tel es-Sultan archaeological site nearby, which contains prehistoric ruins dating back to the ninth millennium BCE and is outside the ancient city itself.

The vote was held during a meeting of the World Heritage Committee, overseen by the UN cultural agency UNESCO, in the Saudi capital city of Riyadh on Sunday.

It is the fourth site in the occupied West Bank to receive UN recognition as a World Heritage Site. The Church of the Nativity and the pilgrimage route in Bethlehem, the cultural landscape of southern al-Quds and Battir, and the Old City in al-Khalil are the other sites.

“The natural resources and strategic location of Ancient Jericho/Tell es-Sultan made it ... a major node of human development for millennia,” the Palestinian Tourism and Antiquities Ministry wrote in an executive summary for the committee.

Ariha is one of the world’s oldest continually inhabited places, where excavations have unearthed traces of Neolithic populations and materials from the Early and Middle Bronze Ages.

The decision angered Israel, with its foreign ministry accusing Palestinians of "cynical use of UNESCO and politicization of the organization” and promising to work “to change the distorted decisions that have been made.”

Israel quit UNESCO in 2019, accusing it of diminishing its connection to the Holy Land. The regime also objected to UNESCO’s acceptance of Palestine as a member state in 2011.

Israel occupied the West Bank, along with Gaza and East al-Quds, in the 1967 Six Day War. The Palestinians want all three territories for their future state.

Palestinians hail designation

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said UNSCO’s decision “testifies to the authenticity and history of the Palestinian people,” adding that “the state of Palestine is committed to preserving this unique site for the benefit of mankind.”

Similarly, the Palestinian Foreign Ministry lauded the designation as an acknowledgment of Ariha's “cultural, economic, and political significance” and a testament to “10,000 years of human development.”

The modern city of Ariha is a major draw for tourism to the Palestinian territories, both because of its historical sites and proximity to the Dead Sea. In 2021, the Palestinian Authority unveiled major renovations to one of the largest mosaics in the Middle East, in an Ariha palace dating back to the 8th century.

Tell es-Sultan, an oval-shaped mound, contains evidence of one of humanity’s first-known villages and an important Bronze-Age town dating back to 2600 BCE It is around 2 kilometers (1.2 miles) from the remains of the first city of Ariha.


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British Imams Accused Mainstream Media of Completely Distorting the Reality of What Is Happening In Afghanistan


Pic: Prosper Afghanistan


September 17, 2023

A group of British Muslim scholars who recently visited Afghanistan has accused the mainstream media of completely distorting the reality of what is happening in the country.

Addressing about 250 people at Queen Mary University in London, the scholars spoke about the security and peace that now exists in Afghanistan after so many years of war, as well as the Islamic society that is now being created.

The scholars, who were appearing at the launch of the Prosper Afghanistan organization, also addressed the controversial issue of girls’ education following its suspension at secondary level and above last year.

The scholars who addressed the event were Shaykh Haitham Al Haddad, Shaykh Suliman Gani, Shaykh Hamid Mahmood, Shaykh Ammar al-Madani, Mufti Ismail Satia and Shaykh Abdulkerim Karahanli.

Sheikh Haitham Al Haddad said the level of professionalism of the government leaders he met was “really amazing… They really want to do something for their country and for the Ummah and may Allah help them to do that.”

Mufti Ismail Satia said: “We went to Afghanistan with a very open mind, we did not go siding with anybody. I found Afghan people to be very kind, generous, big-hearted and resilient. But the greater impact it had on me was that it brought back to me the stories of the Sahaba that we read. They reminded me of those who sacrificed for Islam and those who were willing to do anything for Islam. We don’t think people like this exist nowadays but speaking to people over there and the ulema, it made me realize that these people have the same zeal as the Sahaba.”

Sheikh Hamid Mahmood said: “Before leaving for Afghanistan I had never seen anything positive in the mainstream media, but after speaking to members of the Afghan government I realized that they were not just trying to free themselves from physical subjugation and colonialism, but also from financial, economic and intellectual enslavement.”

And Sheikh Ammar al-Madani said: “The image we have of Afghanistan is totally different to the realities on the ground. The happiness and contentment that the people are feeling is totally different to what is being portrayed through media channels. My request is that any information you seek is through proper channels.”

The delegation of prominent British imams and Muslim scholars visited Afghanistan in July and August and was led by the Human Aid and Advocacy charity in coordination with Prosper Afghanistan.

Human Aid & Advocacy said the Muslim leaders traveled to Afghanistan in order to better understand the humanitarian needs of the Afghan people and witness some of the current aid projects established by the charity in the country.

These included an orphanage, a widow’s skills training center, a vocational skills center, and an aid delivery program to Kapisa province.

Regarding the issue of girls’ education, Sheikh Haitham Al-Haddad told the audience that the issue was being used by the West to demonize Afghanistan. He said that in any society emerging from war there is a hierarchy of needs and security and the economy comes first.

“If we are genuinely concerned about Afghanistan the first question should be what is the security situation like? And 2022 was the first year in over 40 years when there was no war whatsoever in the entire area of Afghanistan which is something to be praised.. Secondly, in terms of economy Afghanistan is one of the top ten countries in terms of reducing inflation. And if people are concerned about women they should first ask if women are being harassed?”

Meanwhile, Sheikh Hamd Mahmood said that girls’ education had not been banned per se, but rather “liberal, secular education had been suspended.”

He said the IEA’s Acting Foreign Minister told him that the Islamic Emirate does not consider girls’ education to be haraam, and that all girls are still being educated at primary level. Moreover, he said that girls could continue schooling until university level if they chose to become medical professionals and teachers or if they studied in a Dar Ul Uloom.

Sheikh Hamd cited the minister as saying that western secular influences were being driven into the minds of the students who were speaking against the Sharia and many vices were creeping in, so the ulema were taken aback and took this matter directly to the IEA leader. He said for 20 years they were united on the battlefield and now when it is time to rebuild the country they cannot tolerate division and therefore temporary suspension of liberal, secular education took place.


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Parliaments’ Journey of 75 Years: PM Modi cites iconic speeches of Nehru, Vajpayee, says they remain inspiring

Sep 18, 2023

Discussing India's parliamentary journey of 75 years, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday recalled the famous speeches of former prime ministers Jawaharlal Nehru and Atal Bihari Vajpayee. Modi said the echo of Nehru's ‘tryst with destiny’ speech to mark India's independence from colonial rule will continue to inspire us.

“The echo of Pandit (Jawahlal) Nehru's 'at the stroke of midnight' in this Parliament will continue to inspire us. And this is that very Parliament where Atal Ji said ‘sarkarenaayengi, jayengi; partiyanbanegi, bigedgi; magar ye deshrahnachahiye’ (governments will come and go; parties will form and dissolvel; but the country should remain),” Prime Minister Modi said in Lok Sabha.

Modi's speech also witnessed a sombre moment when he remembered the deaths of three former prime ministers while in office.

“When this Parliament lost three serving PMs -- Nehru ji, Shastri ji and Indira ji -- they were given fitting tribute,” PM Modi said.

“From Nehru to Shastri to Vajpayee, this Parliament has seen several leaders presenting their vision of India.”

India began a rare special session of Parliament on Monday, with Prime Minister Modi promising that the five-day gathering of lawmakers will yield “historic decisions.”

“This session is short but based on the timing, it is very big,” Modi told mediapersons, without elaborating.

The Parliament is discussing its 75 years of journey, including achievements, experiences, memories and learnings.

Earlier in the day, Prime Minister Modi said the Parliament session will witness "historic decisions".

“This session of the Parliament is short but going by the time, it is huge. This is a session of historic decisions. A speciality of this session is that the journey of 75 years is starting from a new destination,” the prime minister said.

“Now, while taking forward the journey from a new place...we have to make the country a developed country by 2047. For this, all the decisions of the time to come will be taken in the new Parliament building,” he added.


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Why Hindu families in Rishikesh villages are razing 'mazars' (tomb shrines)

Sep 18, 2023

RISHIKESH: A unique tradition, reflective of communal harmony in the villages of Bhattowala and Ghumaniwala in Rishikesh, is rapidly getting eroded as 'mazars' (tomb shrines) with Islamic symbolism, built in the homes of villagers - mostly upper-caste Hindus - are now being demolished by the families themselves.

The development has occurred in the backdrop of the ongoing anti-encroachment drive initiated by the Uttarakhand government. The drive aims to reclaim state-owned land by removing encroachments, including religious structures.

2 mazars razed in Uttarakhand's Rishikesh, live streamed on Facebook

A spot visit by a TOI team to the area found that most of the families in the two villages built 'mazars' on their properties around 15-20 years ago. Almost all of them had similar reasons - their family members had approached a local fakir, known as peer baba, to seek solution to their problems, and had been instructed by him to allocate space on their property for a 'mazar'. Nine families out of at least 35 have so far dismantled the structures in their premises in the past few weeks, with many others saying they are likely to follow suit.

Mazars built on private land, owners have given nod to remove them: Police officials

Girish Nedwal, a villager, told TOI, “The mazar in our house was built at the insistence of my mother, who visited the peer baba when I was very ill, about 20 years ago. We went along with it all these years but now consider it pure superstition. We do not want the next generation to drift away from our Hindu beliefs.” Narrating a similar story, another villager, Dinesh Pundhir said that his mother had got a ‘mazar’ built at their home about five years ago after meeting the peer baba but “no one has visited it in the past four years.

More videos of ‘mazars’ being destroyed surface

“My mother did it, thinking it would bring some good fortune to the family. But we didn’t feel anything like that. I’m determined to get rid of it now,” said Pundhir, adding that “unlike actual mazars which have a grave underneath, the ones here resemble a symbolic tombstone without human remains.” However, not every family said they agreed to the move to demolish the structures and were doing it “only under peer pressure.” Requesting anonymity, a member of one such family said, “When a group of villagers came to persuade us to remove the mazar, initially, we felt a little bad as our beliefs were attached with it. Ultimately, we agreed, as other families were doing the same.”

Husband of Bhattowala village head, Harpal Singh Rana, who was among the first to remove a ‘mazar’ from his home, said: “Our exercise to identify such structures is ongoing. As we identify more families, we’ll try to convince them. Only Hindus are involved in this move as there are no Muslim residents in the village.” Local police officials, meanwhile, said the mazars were built on private-owned land and landowners have given their nod to remove them, so “there is no reason for us to intervene.”


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UP woman, step-mother held for offering ‘namaz’ inside temple

 Sep 18, 2023

BAREILLY: A 20-year-old Muslim woman from Delhi, who visited a temple with her step-mother was arrested under charges of "criminal conspiracy" and "outraging religious sentiment" for praying allegedly in an "Islamic posture" in Bareilly's Bhuta on Sunday. The woman, her step-mother and a local were sent to jail, police said. The woman, who lives with her brother in Delhi, was ill, and had recently come to see her father in Bareilly. Since "medicines couldn't cure her", her step-mother advised her to visit the local temple.

On Saturday evening, when she went there with her, someone shot a video and shared the clip on social media, alleging she was "offering namaz inside the temple".

A right-wing group lodged a police complaint and the woman, her step-mother and a local resident were booked under IPC sections 295A (outraging religious sentiment), 120B (criminal conspiracy) and 153A (promoting enmity between different groups).

In one of the widely-circulated videos, the women can be seen in the temple, purportedly offering a prayer while standing, reflective of an Islamic posture. In a second clip, the woman is seen bowing before a Shiva idol with some people around her.

ASP (rural) Mukesh Chandra Mishra told TOI, “Two women were found offering 'namaz' inside an ancient Shiva temple in Kesarpur village under Bhuta police limits on Saturday. A complaint was lodged and police immediately registered an FIR.”

About the second clip, the ASP said, “The complainant didn’t provide us with the second video. We’ll check if more videos are available and consider them during our probe.”

General secretary of the nearby Dargah Aala Hazrat, Farman Hasan Khan, said, “Police should do a thorough investigation and then send people to jail. I'll meet senior officials and request an impartial probe."

The woman’s brother, meanwhile, told TOI: “My sister is not well and my mother took her to Bareilly for treatment where she was made to worship in a temple by saying this is the only way to cure her. My sister is not a criminal and she shouldn’t be sent to jail. She is only a patient.”


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J-K: Post Anantnag encounter, hunt on but no trace of Lashkar-e-Toiba militants yet

18th September 2023

By Fayaz WaniExpress News Service

SRINAGAR: As the search operation in the Gadole forest area of Kokernag continued for the fifth consecutive day on Sunday, there was still no trace of the group of Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT) militants, who are involved in the killing of four security personnel including three high ranking officials in the gunfight on Wednesday.

Drones and helicopters are being used for the surveillance of the dense forest area of Gadole in Jammu and Kashmir's Anantnag district to track down and pinpoint the location of a group of two to three Lashkar militants, who are believed to be hiding.

The security forces are firing mortar shells, grenades and ammunition through drones at the possible hideouts in the natural caves in the forest area.

Tne of the militant hideouts in the deep forest area was busted and demolished by mortar shelling by troops on Friday. A portion of the forest area had caught fire and the flames and huge smoke was visible.

The elite special forces are assisting the troops on the ground in the operation and maintaining tight vigil to prevent militants from slipping into civilian habitation.

More troops have been rushed to the adjoining areas to prevent militants from escaping from the forest area.

There has been no trace of the militants after the initial gunfight and it is being suspected that militants are making use of treacherous terrain and forest cover to prolong the security forces operation.

There is no confirmation whether any militant has been killed in the operation so far. ADGP Kashmir Vijay Kumar has asserted that militants trapped in the Gadole forest area will be neutralized.

A security official said all preventive measures are being taken to ensure the safety of soldiers during the operation. “We are not hastening the operation and are going at our own speed,” he said.

Security personnel check identities of civilians in a cordoned-off area on the fifth day of the ongoing encounter with terrorists, at Gadol Kokarnag in Anantnag. (PTI)

Meanwhile, a paramilitary CRPF jawan, who was part of Road Opening Party (ROP) duty in the adjoining area, was accidentally injured after being hit in the foot. The injured CRPF man was immediately evacuated and rushed to hospital.

On Wednesday morning (September 13), when an anti-militancy operation was launched in the forest area by a joint contingent of police and army, three security personnel — Colonel Manpreet Singh (19 Rashtriya Rifles), Major Ashish Dhonchak and Deputy Superintendent of Police Humayun Bhat — were killed in the gunfight with militants.

Another soldier succumbed to injuries on September 15 taking the death toll in the encounter to four.

The operation, which is being supervised by Srinagar-based Army’s 15 Corps, is turning out to be one of the longest anti-militancy operations in the Kashmir Valley.


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Arab World


The downtrodden of the Arab world ‘will not be ignored,’ UNGA president tells Arab News

September 17, 2023


NEW YORK CITY: When the president of the 78th session of the United Nations General Assembly took his oath of office and was handed the gavel, he wished “my parents were still alive to witness this.”

At the same time, he reflected on “the burden of responsibility that I have taken on as president of the General Assembly, the burden that has been created by the legitimate expectation of people everywhere in the world, that the United Nations can deliver for them. And that will be my focus throughout the presidency: How best we can mobilize the General Assembly to deliver for people and for planet.”

Dennis Francis’ stewardship of UNGA comes at a deeply challenging moment for the multilateral system. Since it was established a century ago, multilateralism has provided the global framework for peace and stability, but in a world of conflicts and climate chaos, escalating poverty, hunger and inequality, mistrust and division, there are growing concerns that multilateralism is declining or losing relevance.

Meanwhile, the difficulty governments are facing in reaching global agreements on trade, climate change and other issues has led many to question whether the multilateral model is still fit for purpose in an era of renewed great power rivalries, nationalism, populism and political economy tensions.

Ahead of the high-level week of the UNGA session, Arab News sat with Francis in his new office at the UN headquarters in New York City, where, in a wide-ranging interview, he outlined his priorities for the year to come.

Francis has spent years working closely with multilateral agencies. He offered a nuanced perspective when asked about the state of multilateralism.

While acknowledging that multilateralism faces challenges, he was emphatic that it is not entirely dysfunctional. The conclusion of the BBNJ Treaty, an important addition to the international architecture on the Law of the Sea, and the inclusion of loss and damage in the COP27 agreement. which aims to provide financial assistance to poorer nations as they deal with the negative consequences that arise from the risks of climate change, are two examples of success that demonstrate that multilateralism can indeed deliver results.

“It might not deliver uniformly, but it does and can deliver,” said Francis.

“What we need to do now is to really focus on strengthening that, and that has to do with a process of recommitting and of building trust and confidence among the membership that we have the capacity and the strength. Sometimes it takes strength to make difficult decisions. But difficult decisions we cannot avoid in the interest of serving humanity.”


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Saudi National Orchestra gives a rousing performance in New York

September 18, 2023


NEW YORK: The Saudi National Orchestra and Choir performed on Sunday at the world-renowned Metropolitan Opera House in New York City.

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The “Marvels of Saudi Orchestra” concert, a collaborative effort between the Saudi Theater and Performing Arts Commission, the Saudi Music Commission, the Metropolitan Opera, and the Kingdom’s Ministry of Culture, was the Saudi National Orchestra’s debut event in the US.

“Art has the possibility of triumphing over adversity,” Metropolitan Opera General Manager Peter Gelb said in his opening speech at the event.

The concert showcased Saudi Arabia’s rich cultural and musical heritage, opening with a series of folk songs under maestro Riab Ahmed. The musical numbers were masterfully performed by a large orchestra of musicians playing modern and traditional Arab instruments, including the oud and flute.

Performers wore traditional Saudi garb, while female singers in the choir donned purple dresses and headscarves. Each song demonstrated a different type of traditional Saudi music while various performing arts on display included Samri, Majrour, Rubsh, Al-Khatwa, and Liwa.

The first session of the concert ended with an Arabized version of the classic American song “Fly Me to the Moon,” made popular by Frank Sinatra.

After the opening session, Saudi opera singer RimazOqbi — one of the only Saudis to ever study opera — took to the stage with a rendition of “Habanera” from the world-famous opera Carmen, followed by the American vintage piece “Kiss Me Again.”

The concert’s third session brought the atmosphere back to the West with the Dizzy Gillespie All-Stars. The jazz group first performed pieces inspired by their namesake, the great American trumpeter and bandleader John Birks “Dizzy” Gillespie.

After an East-meets-West, jazz-Arabic fusion instrumental song played by Saudi musicians and the Dizzy Gillespie All-Stars, the latter group’s saxophonist Tim Ries praised the collaboration between the two.

“We need no words, only the heart that beat together. We’ve become like family after only two days,” Ries said.

The concert ended with a medley of popular Saudi songs played by the Saudi National Orchestra and Dizzy Gillespie All-Stars together, ending in a rousing rendition of “The Renewer” by Abbas Ibrahim.

The Saudi National Orchestra and Choir is the seventh initiative in a series of projects launched by the Ministry of Culture, aligning with the cultural heritage oriented goals of Saudi Vision 2030. Though this is their first time performing in the US, the musicians have performed in Riyadh, Jeddah, Paris, Mexico, and Jordan.


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Third Saudi relief plane departs for Libya carrying 50 tons of aid

September 18, 2023

The third Saudi relief plane departed on Monday headed to Benghazi, carrying 50 tons of food and shelter aid to be distributed to those affected by the floods in Libya.

A specialized team from the King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Center will supervise the aid delivery process in coordination with the Libyan Red Crescent.

Heavy rains caused by Mediterranean storm Daniel caused deadly flooding across eastern Libya last weekend.

The floods overwhelmed two dams, sending a wall of water several meters (yards) high through the center of Derna, destroying entire neighborhoods and sweeping people out to sea.


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Saudi Arabia-Japan sign pact for archaeological study in Tabuk

September 18, 2023

Saudi Arabia and Japan have signed an agreement to conduct further archeological excavations at Al-Hawra in Tabuk’s Umluj governorate.

The pact was inked Sunday by Dr. Jasser Al-Harbash, CEO of the Heritage Commission in the Kingdom, and Dr. So Hasegawa, professor at Japan’s Waseda University.

Japan’s Ambassador to Saudi Arabia Fumio Iwai was present at the signing ceremony.

The team has already uncovered items of historical and cultural significance at the site, which is believed to have played an important role in trade from the coast.


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Efforts to resolve Syrian crisis tackled in meeting of Saudi FM, UN envoy

September 18, 2023

RIYADH: Prince Faisal bin Farhan, Saudi Arabia’s minister of foreign affairs, met on Sunday with the UN special envoy for Syria to discuss the latest developments on the political solution to the Syrian crisis, the Saudi Press Agency said.

The meeting with Geir Pedersen, which was held on the sidelines of the 78th UN General Assembly in New York city, also discussed the efforts of Saudi Arabia and the United Nations in this regard, including the outcomes of the Arab Summit held in Jeddah.

Prince Faisal reiterated the Kingdom’s keenness to exert all efforts to reach a political solution to the Syrian crisis to preserve its unity, security, stability and Arab League affiliation, and achieve progress and prosperity for its people.

Separately, the Saudi foreign minister met with Uzbek counterpart Bakhtiyor Saidov.

The officials discussed ways to enhance bilateral relations and consolidating bilateral and multilateral work, in addition to the latest developments.


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Saudi Arabia condemns storming of Al-Aqsa Mosque by Jewish extremists under Israeli police protection


RIYADH, Monday, September 18, 2023 (WAFA) - The Saudi Foreign Ministry today condemned and denounced the storming of the holy Al-Aqsa Mosque by a group of Jewish extremists under the protection of the Israeli occupation forces.

“The Ministry affirms that these practices are considered a blatant violation of all international norms and conventions, and a provocation to the feelings of Muslims around the world,” the ministry said in a statement.

“The Ministry of Foreign Affairs holds the Israeli occupation forces fully responsible for the repercussions of these continued violations and stresses its call on the international community to assume its responsibilities to end the escalation of the Israeli occupation, provide the necessary protection for civilians, and exert all efforts to end this conflict,” it said.

Hundreds of Jewish extremists yesterday stormed Al-Aqsa Mosque, the third holiest site in Islam located in the Old City of occupied Jerusalem, as they marked the Jewish New Year, holding religious rituals and one of them blowing the shofar in clear violation of the decades-long status quo that says the entire 144-dunum Al-Aqsa Mosque compound, also known as Al Haram Al Sharif or noble sanctuary, is a purely Muslim holy place where only Muslims can hold prayers and religious rituals.

At the same time, Muslim worshippers were kept out of the Mosque while several people, mainly older men and women, were violently attacked by Israeli police to remove them from the holy place in order to secure its storming by the Jewish fanatics.

Violation of the sanctity of the Muslim holy site increases during Jewish holidays as fanatic Jewish organizations call on their followers to intensify their storming of the Mosque during the morning visit hours in order to create a regular presence in the compound to eventually be able to divide it and turn parts or all of it into a Jewish temple.


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South Asia


Two Years Passed, Interim Govt Yet to Be Official

Fatema Adeeb

September 17, 2023

With the passage of two years since the announcement of the interim government, the Islamic Emirate has yet to introduce its official cabinet.

The Islamic Emirate’s spokesman, Zabiullah Mujahid, said that after the approval of the constitution, some of the issues such as establishment of a council and official cabinet will be addressed.

“Our laws are being work on and also the councils are still under discussion. Whenever these issues are final, which means that all government parts are built, this issue will also be solved,” he said.

Mujahid said that the current cabinet holds full authority and there is no obstacle ahead of the government affairs.

“The government affairs are being continued as needed and all of the administrations are doing their necessary activities,” he said.

The political analysts meanwhile said that the official cabinet is important for good governance and the management of government affairs.

“If there is tension among the countries in contracts and other issues, disputes and issues will not be considered as meaningful and official because the government is not official,” said Sayed Qaribullah Sadaat, a political analyst.

Weeks after returning to power, the Islamic Emirate announced its members of the interim cabinet but there were no women among them—an issue which sparked widespread reactions.

At least 19 ministries are headed by the acting ministers.


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Islamic Emirate Not Against Modern Science: Minister Nadeem


Kabul (BNA): Acting Higher Education Minister, Mawlavi Nada Mohammad Nadeem,who is his visit to Ghor, in a meeting with local officials, scholars and ethnic elders of that province said the Islamic Emirate is not against modern science.

Ghor deprived from the Physically but not spirituality, said, Mullah Ahmad Shah, Din Dost.

He said, the visits of officials of the Islamic Emirate to this province will bring unity, motivation and encouragement to the people of Ghor province.

Meanwhile, Acting Higher Education Minister said, corruption has been completely eradicated in higher education sector all telented youths will get their rights to study after passing Kankor successfully.

He said, the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan has never been against the modern sciences, and the Islamic Emirate is still determined to take better steps in the sector of higher education.


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Kabul Only Banned 'Specific Secular Liberal Education': UK Cleric, Shaykh Hamid

Nazir Shinwari

September 17, 2023

Shaykh Hamid Mahmood, a member of the delegation of British religious scholars who recently came to Kabul, said that all girls go to schools up to age 10 or 11 in Afghanistan and girls can continue education in specific subjects and he added that education has not completely stopped.

Shaykh Hamid said: “It's a temporary suspension not on education, temporary suspension on specific secular liberal education.”

5Pillars, a Muslim news site, shared a video in which Shaykh Hamid Mahmood said Foreign Minister Amir Khan Muttaqi told him that girls in Afghanistan still have different routes to education, even up to university age.

This comes as the girls' students above grade six once again reiterated their demand that the interim government reopen their schools.

They said that they have been facing mental pressure due to the closure of their schools and for being in an uncertain future.

“The Islamic Emirate should reopen the schools and universities for the girls, so they can attempt to have a better future, " said Marriam Noori, a student.

“We should be allowed to work and get an education because it has been more than two years since the girls and women have been deprived of their education and work,” said Madiha Yousufzai, a student.

This comes as the girls' students above grade six have been deprived of going to schools after the Islamic Emirate takeover of Afghanistan. The female students are also not allowed to attend their universities.


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Massive fire in Badakhshan causes over 1 million Afghanis in losses

Fidel Rahmati

September 17, 2023

 According to provincial officials, a fire incident in the Faizabad district of Badakhshan province has resulted in over one million Afghanis in financial damages.

According to the security department of Badakhshan province on Sunday, the incident occurred in the Akhur Goldan area of Faizabad city. The fire originated from two adjacent decoration shops in the city.

According to the statement, it spread to neighbouring shops moments after the fire incident, resulting in over a million financial losses.

Based on reports that the fire engulfed all the goods in these two shops, but fortunately, no casualties were reported.

Shortly after this incident, the firefighting team arrived and extinguished the fire.

Meanwhile, the leading causes of this incident’s occurrence have not been determined yet, but the authorities have initiated efforts to investigate the matter in this province.

In a previous incident, a fire broke out in the Mal Bazaar area of Kandahar city, resulting in at least three million Afghanis in financial damages.

This incident was similar to the one in Badakhshan province, where significant financial losses were incurred due to a fire outbreak.


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Türkiye Rejects Attacks On Two Billion MuslimsValues In Name Of Freedom: Erdogan


Türkiye will not accept the justification of attacks on the sacred values of two billion Muslims worldwide under the guise of freedom of thought, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan says.

"To us, these actions are provocations that aim to incite people," President Erdogan said at a dinner event organised by the Turkish American National Steering Committee in New York.

He recalled that Türkiye pioneered the adoption of resolutions by the UN Human Rights Council and the UN General Assembly which view violent actions targeting holy books as violating international law.

"We will continue our efforts towards this end," he added.

President Erdogan was referring to recent vicious attacks on the Quran, saying if hostility towards Islam is not prevented, perpetrators will become more reckless.

"As Türkiye, we are responding to this snowballing threat," he added.

President Erdogan cautioned that the attacks, which he said were primarily targeting Muslims today, may very well be directed at groups of diverse origins, languages, cultures and beliefs tomorrow.

Addressing members of the Turkish-American community at the event, the Turkish leader also said there are interest groups that seek to poison Turkish-American relations.

"We will avert them by speaking the truth and representing Türkiye," he said.

Turning to US-Türkiye relations, the president noted that in the coming period, Türkiye will further advance its cooperation on the basis of shared interests.

"Differences of opinion are normal in interstate relations. But we know that there are more common grounds (with the US) and many windows of opportunity," said the president.

President Erdogan also said he agreed with his US counterpart Joe Biden to strengthen the friendship and cooperation between their two nations.

"The strategic mechanism that we decided to establish with Mr. Biden contributes to deepening the dialogue between our countries," he added.

The trade volume between Türkiye and the US reached a record high last year, exceeding $32 billion.

Türkiye is also a key NATO ally and critical regional partner for the US.

'Century of Türkiye' vision

In his remarks, President Erdogan said the government is diligently working to crown the 100th anniversary of the Republic with the "Century of Türkiye" vision and emphasised that Türkiye is making significant strides in defence, diplomacy, economy and tourism.

The president emphasised that the government does not provide any respite to terrorist organisations, from Daesh to the Fetullah Terrorist Organisation (FETO) and the PKK . He further underscored that the unwavering commitment to combatting these terrorist groups, both domestically and internationally, will persist.

Expressing his commitment to addressing global injustices and inequalities while defending the rights and laws of the nation, President Erdogan said, "To achieve this goal, we pursue a robust, constructive, proactive and balanced foreign policy, both in action and at the negotiation table."

"In recent years, we have solidified our status as a world brand in mediation, with the pivotal roles we have assumed in addressing regional and global crises," he added, referring to Türkiye’s role in the Ukraine grain deal and prisoner swaps between Ukraine and Russia.


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Grand Mufti condemns Israeli raids on al-Aqsa Mosque and the closure of the Ibrahimi Mosque


JERUSALEM, Sunday, September 17, 2023 (WAFA) – The Grand Mufti of Jerusalem and the Palestinian territories, the preacher of the Al-Aqsa Mosque, Sheikh Mohammad Hussein, condemned the storming of the Al-Aqsa Mosque by extremist settlers this Sunday morning through the Maghariba Gate, under heavy guard by members of the occupation police and special forces, attacking Muslim worshipers, and taking them out of it.

Mufti Hussein confirmed in a statement that Al-Aqsa Mosque is an Islamic endowment until the Day of Judgment, noting that it is a pure right for Muslims, with no one sharing it, and that it is not subject to any hostile laws or occupation decisions, warning of the consequences of these attacks that offend the feelings of Muslims around the world.


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Turkish drone attack kills 4 in northern Iraq

Sep 18, 2023

TEHRAN, Sep. 18 (MNA) – A Turkish drone strike in northern Iraq on Sunday killed a senior member and three members of the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), Iraqi Kurdistan's counter-terrorism service said in a statement.

They were killed at 3:00 p.m. local time (1200 GMT) when a Turkish drone attacked their vehicle on a road in the Chalmir area of Sinjar Mountain, some 120 km west of Nineveh's provincial capital Mosul, Xinhua reported citing Iraqi Kurdistan's counter-terrorism service’s statement.

The Turkish forces frequently carry out ground operations, airstrikes, and artillery bombardments in northern Iraq against the PKK, especially in the Qandil Mountains, the main base of the group.

The PKK is listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the United States, and the European Union.


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UAE readies big welcome for Sultan AlNeyadi, first Arab astronaut on long-term space mission

September 18, 2023

DUBAI: Emirati astronaut Sultan AlNeyadi is set to return home to the UAE on Monday afternoon. AlNeyadi, the first Arab astronaut deployed on a long-term space mission and the first to complete a spacewalk, will make the journey home after spending six months aboard the International Space Station.

After returning from space on Sept. 4, AlNeyadi spent time in Florida recovering and underwent medical testing, evaluation, and mission debriefs.

The Emirati astronaut, together with NASA astronauts Stephen Bowen and Woody Hoburg and Roscosmos cosmonaut Andrey Fedyaev, lifted off on March 2 in NASA’s SpaceX Crew-6 from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

 The astronaut took to X (formerly Twitter) to express his excitement in returning home. “After returning to Earth, it is now time to return home.. Our appointment is tomorrow.. I will see you well at Dar Zayed,” he said.


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Israeli restrictions hinder Palestinians’ access to health care: World Bank

September 18, 2023

Jerusalem: Israel’s restrictions and rising fiscal constraints in the Palestinian territories are severely impacting the economic conditions of Palestinians and hindering their access to timely life-saving health care, the World Bank said Monday.

In a report titled “Racing Against Time,” the World Bank said that overall the Palestinian economy was performing below potential, with per capita income expected to stagnate.

Poverty in the Palestinian territories was on the rise, with one out of four Palestinians living below the poverty line, the Washington-based global lender said.

Israel’s restrictions on movement and trade in the occupied West Bank, the blockade imposed on the Gaza Strip and the divide between the two Palestinian territories were among several factors that had put the Palestinian economy at high risk, the report said.

“The fiscal constraints weigh heavily on the Palestinian health system and particularly on its ability to cope with the mounting burden of non-communicable diseases,” Stefan Emblad, the World Bank’s director for the West Bank and Gaza, said in a statement released with the report.

The restrictions, including “a lengthy, bureaucratic regime of permits,” often makes it hard to provide timely life-saving health care to Palestinians, he said.

Access to outside medical referrals for treatment of cancers, heart diseases, and maternal and child birth conditions are significantly affected due to physical and administrative constraints, the statement said.

“The situation is particularly critical in Gaza, which suffers from a more limited health system capacity and where patients struggle to get needed medical exit permit applications on a timely basis,” it said.

“Research figures show that the near-blockade of Gaza has had an impact on mortality, as some patients do not outlive the length of the permit process.”

Thousands of Palestinians from the West Bank and Gaza Strip cross annually into Israel for medical treatment unavailable in the impoverished Palestinian territories.

Israel has occupied the West Bank — now home to some three million Palestinians — since the 1967 Six-Day War, when it also seized the Gaza Strip, the densely populated coastal enclave it has since withdrawn from.

Last year, Israel issued entry permits for more than 110,000 medical visits for West Bank residents, according to COGAT, the Israeli defense ministry body overseeing civilian affairs in the Palestinian territories.

More than 17,000 such permits were issued during the same period to Palestinians from Gaza, where 2.3 million people live.

An Israeli blockade imposed by Israel since the Islamist movement Hamas rose to power in 2007 has also obstructed medical supplies to the enclave.

The World Bank urged Israel and Palestinian authorities to better manage such medical cases and ease the permit process in a bid to provide timely health care assistance to patients and their companions.

Overall the Palestinian economy has been stagnating for the past five years, Emblad said, adding it was not expected to improve unless policies on the ground change.

“Given population growth trends, income per capita is thus expected to stagnate,” the World Bank said.


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President Raeisi: Interaction with world countries, intl. organizations a pillar of Iran's policy

 17 September 2023

Iranian President Ebrahim Raeisi says interaction with world countries as well as regional and international organizations is one of the pillars of the Islamic Republic's policy.

The Iranian president made the remark in a late Sunday interview before departing the capital Tehran for a three-day trip to New York, where he is expected to address the 78th session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA).

"One of the pillars of the Islamic Republic's policy is interaction with world countries as well as regional, extra-regional and international organizations," Raeisi said.

He added that as a member of the United Nations, Iran expects the world body to play a determining role in promoting global development, security, peace and justice.

"Decisions made by the United Nations must be free from discrimination and injustice, and should not be affected by the big powers," Iran's president emphasized.

Iran’s President Ebrahim Raeisi will set off for New York tomorrow to participate in the 78th session of the UN General Assembly (UNGA).

Noting that his trip will help bolster Iran's bilateral relations with other countries participating in the UNGA session, Raeisi said, "I will hold mutual meetings with those heads of state who have taken part in the General Assembly's meeting."

“Countering the enemy’s media empire is on the agenda [of my visit to New York] and I will be the voice of the Iranian people to explain the facts [about Iran] to [other] governments and nations,” Iran's president said.

"I hope this trip would be effective in accomplishing the mission that the people [of Iran] have entrusted to the administration, and we would [be able to] meet the expectations and convey the viewpoints of the Leader of the [Islamic] Revolution [Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei], and also explain the standpoints of the Islamic Republic of Iran," Raeisi said.

The Iranian president added that during his trip, he will hold a meeting with media outlets to elucidate positions of the Islamic Republic on a variety of issues, and will also meet with politicians.

The 78th UNGA session will take place on September 18-26. The presence of high-ranking officials from different countries at the annual event provides a good opportunity for international political consultations and bilateral dialogues.


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Thousands demonstrate against Israeli cabinet's policies for 37th straight week

18 September 2023

Thousands have rallied in several locations throughout the occupied Palestinian territories for the 37th consecutive week to condemn the hard-right Israeli cabinet's extremist policies.

Usually held every Saturday, this week's demonstrations were held on Sunday, with the coastal city of Tel Aviv attracting the largest crowd as was the case in previous weeks.

Participants held up placards and chanted slogans against Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who was about to fly to New York for the 78th session of the United Nations General Assembly.

Similar protests were held in other cities across the occupied territories, including the holy city of al-Quds as well as Haifa, Rehovot, Eilat and other locations.

Hundreds also gathered at Ben Gurion Airport, from which the premier was expected to depart for New York. While some protesters chanted for Netanyahu to "go and don’t come back," others highlighted that he has not been invited to the White House.

The protests have been a fixed weekly event since January, when Netanyahu announced an overhaul scheme, which seeks to rob the regime's Supreme Court of the ability to invalidate the decisions made by the politicians.

Tens of thousands of demonstrators hold huge rallies across the occupied territories in protest against Israeli far-right cabinet for the 36th week in a row.

Proponents of the overhaul say it helps redistribute the balance of power between the politicians and the judiciary. Its opponents, however, accuse Netanyahu of trying his hand at a power grab. They say the premier, who is on trial in three corruption cases for receiving bribe, fraud, and breach of trust, is also attempting to use the scheme to quash possible judgments against him.

Netanyahu's far-right cabinet has already passed one of the scheme’s bills through the Knesset, which stripped the court of its power to strike down the cabinet’s decisions or appointments on the basis of being "unreasonable."

The regime’s Supreme Court, for the first time in its history, convened its entire 15-judge bench earlier this month to hear an appeal against that bill, and is expected to issue its decision at a later date.

Protesters have also vowed to follow Netanyahu during his weeklong stay in the United States and are planning to hound him during his scheduled meetings in San Francisco and New York.

Earlier this week, activists projected a giant message onto the UN headquarters building in New York, saying, "Don’t believe Crime Minister Netanyahu."

"We will be waiting to greet him. In the air, on land and at sea. The whole world will know that Netanyahu is a liar. We will not allow him to...deceive world leaders with his speeches," the activists said in a statement.

They added, "The slogan projected on the UN building wall is just a small taste of what is awaiting the indicted defendant Netanyahu on his visit to NYC."


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Iran warns Iraq of 'eleventh-hour decision' about disarmament of Kurdish separatists

17 September 2023

The Iranian defense minister says Tehran will not extend the ultimatum given to Iraq to disarm Kurdish separatist groups along the border with Iran, warning Baghdad of an "eleventh-hour decision" on the matter.

Brigadier General Mohammad Reza Ashtiani made the remarks in an interview with Iran newspaper published on Sunday, referring to a security agreement concluded between Iran and Iraq back in March.

Under the agreement, the Iraqi government has promised to disarm terrorist and separatist groups based in the Kurdistan region by September 19, vacate their military barracks, and transfer them to the camps established by the Baghdad government.

"We do not have any extension [to the deadline]. We will act in due time in accordance with the agreement made [with Iraq]," he said.

The Iranian defense minister said the Iraqi government has carried out a series of measures. He said Iran will conduct a last-minute assessment of the situation before making the final decision.

The remarks come as Iran's Nour News, which is affiliated with the Supreme National Security Council (SNSC), reported on Sunday that despite the active measures taken by the federal government in Baghdad, "some clauses of agreement have not been fully implemented that need follow-up."

Iraqi media, however, reported on Saturday the country's border guards have managed to gain full control over an area on the Kurdistan region’s border with Iran and drive out terrorist groups following fierce clashes.

Iraqi border guards have managed to gain full control over an area on the Kurdistan region’s border with Iran.

Iraq’s Shafaq News Agency cited the country’s Border Guard Forces as saying in a statement late on Friday that they had seized border points in Erbil Province and raised Iraq’s national flag in the area after clashes with the “outlaws”.

During a visit to Tehran earlier this week, Iraqi Foreign Minister Fuad Hussein assured the Islamic Republic that Baghdad was committed to the security pact with Iran to disarm the terrorist groups based in the Kurdistan region.

Stressing that the Iraqi constitution does not allow any group to use the Iraqi territory to attack other countries, Hussein told his Iranian counterpart, Hossein Amir-Abdollahian, that the Baghdad government and the Kurdistan region are cooperating in this regard and both take implementation of the security agreement seriously.

Last week, Bafel Talabani, leader of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK), held talks with the Iranian foreign minister and Parliament Speaker Mohammad Baqer Qalibaf.

Iran says the presence of terrorists in Iraq’s Kurdistan region violates the Arab country

Amir-Abdollahian told the PUK leader that the presence of terrorists in Iraqi Kurdistan region contravenes the Arab country's constitution and is not compatible with cordial relations between Tehran and Baghdad.

The security agreement between the two countries came after anti-Iranian terrorist groups residing in Iraqi Kurdistan region increased their malign activities, especially in border areas.

Responding to their activities, Iran’s Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) has launched several rounds of strikes against their positions since September 24 last year, vowing to continue the attacks until the groups are disarmed.

Iran has, on countless occasions, warned Iraqi Kurdistan’s local authorities that it will not tolerate the presence and activity of terrorist groups along its northwestern borders, saying the country will give a decisive response should those areas become a haven for anti-Tehran terrorists.


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Israeli Forces Shoot Palestinian Youth Allegedly Attempting a Stabbing Near Jerusalem

September 18, 2023

Israeli occupation forces opened fire on a Palestinian youth early Monday morning, September 18, 2023, alleging his attempt to carry out a stabbing near the city of Jerusalem.

Israeli Channel 14 reported that a young man attempted a stabbing operation at the Mazmoria checkpoint near Jerusalem, but an Israeli soldier shot at him and “neutralized” him, with no injuries reported among the soldiers.

The Israeli medical organization, “Doctors Without Borders,” claimed that the youth who carried out the alleged attack was shot by an Israeli soldier, without providing any further details.

Palestinian authorities have not officially released any information regarding the health condition or identity of the youth.

This is a developing story.


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Former Prime Minister Edouard Philippe calls for new law to 'regulate' France's Muslims

17 September, 2023

The mayor of Le Havre, former prime minister and current leading candidate of the French right to challenge Emmanuel Macron for the presidency has said in a new autobiographical book that Islam might require a new law and state body to regulate it in France, according to a report by the magazine L'Obs on Sunday.

Edouard Philippe, who served as prime minister under Macron from 2017-2020, wrote in his newly released book Des Lieux Qui Disent (Places That Speak) that it may be necessary to create “a law and a specific organisation for Muslims”.

As observed by L’Obs, this is the first time someone of Philippe’s political stature has advocated what would essentially be a separate law regarding French secularism that targets only Muslims.

Even Philippe’s suggestion marks yet another dangerous escalation in the French state’s increasingly uneasy relationship with its Muslim community.

In an interview on Inter, Philippe further explained his views, saying France’s 1905 law, which enshrines secularism, “is perhaps not capable of dealing with the specificities of Islam”, as reported L’Obs.

Philippe went on to say that one day the question of an organisation “with particular obligations imposed on the faithful and those responsible for Muslim communities” will be asked.

He said that proposing some form of concordat, which is to say some special agreement for regulating the behaviour of Muslims within French society, ought to be on the table.

It has long been argued that France’s extreme emphasis on secularism already singles out Islam and ties into France’s recent history of colonialism in the Muslim world, with it being accused of treating its significant Muslim minority as colonial subjects alien to France rather than fully integrated citizens.

The ban on the abaya, a modest dress worn by some Muslim women, introduced in French schools this month has been cited as one recent example of this.

Muslims left with little room to move amid hostile French political scene

Not only do critics of French state policy against Muslims, which also includes ‘anti-separatism bill’, see it as Islamophobic and racist, but they also say it violates the original intentions of secularism.

For example, Philippe references the 1905 secularism law, which enshrines the separation of religion from every facet of the French state, but by advocating a state-run organisation to impose itself on Muslims, Philippe is violating the part of the law that also enshrines freedom of religion - but only for Muslims.

Critics have said that laws that single out religious or ethnoreligious minorities for regulation by the state have scarcely been seen in Europe since the Nazis introduced the Nuremberg Laws against German Jews in 1935.

Philippe is a member of the centre-right Horizons party and is being talked up as a serious contender to replace Macron in the Elysee.

Though his political ideology is not far-right per se, he has said he is not “running against the far-right” and he has been accused of pandering to them to build a coalition to unseat Macron.

With Macron also considered to be appealing to the far-right, and with the far-right Islamophobe Marine Le Pen facing off against Macron in the last two elections, Philippe’s emergence as the frontrunner against Macron could be seen as leaving French Muslims with little room to move in an increasingly hostile political environment.


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French missionary priests suspected of child sexual assault in Thailand

Fidel Rahmati

September 17, 2023

 According to foreign media outlets, at least two Catholic Church missionaries from Paris engaged in sexual abuse against students at a boarding school in Thailand during their evangelistic mission.

According to France 24 news agency, two members of the Paris-based Foreign Mission Society of Paris, a part of the Catholic Church’s mission, were involved in sexual abuse against former students of a boarding school in Thailand.

One of these two missionaries has passed away, and the other, whose name is not mentioned in the report, continues to serve within the Foreign Mission Society of Paris.

This report marks the fourth case of sexual abuse by Christian missionaries in the past two months, raising concerns about the safety of children in religious institutions.

Children studying in religious schools and institutions or being mentored by religious figures are often vulnerable to sexual exploitation.

A report from last year by the Independent Commission on Sexual Abuse in France revealed that over the past 72 years, approximately 330,000 children have been victims of sexual abuse within the Catholic Church in France.

After the release of the Independent Commission’s report, Pope Francis said, “With great sorrow, I think of the victims and the harm they have suffered.” The Vatican also stated that the Pope is “informed with great sorrow” about the investigation’s findings and hopes that “the Church in France, with awareness of this horrifying reality, may perhaps initiate a path of redemption.”


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Giant letter Z set on fire overnight in Russian city of Belgorod



A structure in the shape of a letter Z was set on fire in the Russian city of Belgorod on the night of 17-18 September.

[The letter Z is a staunchly pro-war symbol in Russia, supporting Putin's invasion of Ukraine, which appears on billboards, public buildings, clothing worn by those who are pro-war, etc. - ed.]

Source: Belgorod Mayor Valentin Demidov on Telegram,

Quote: "Last night at 00:29, unknown persons set fire to the Z-letter structure installed near Vatutin Avenue.

A camera recorded the time of the arson, and the video was handed over to the police. Investigative and search activities are underway."

Details: He added that the camera also recorded cars stopping and "trying to help".


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Desecration Of Holy Quran, Religious Figures Unacceptable: Minister OfInterfaith Harmony

September 18, 2023

Caretaker Minister for Religious Affairs and Interfaith Harmony, Aneeq Ahmed has emphasized that the desecration of the Holy Quran and religious figures is unacceptable.

Talking to media in Karachi, he reiterated the government's stance on blasphemy and hate-speech and announced to take proactive measures to curb blasphemous content on social media platforms.

Aneeq Ahmad also highlighted the gravity of attacks on religious scholars, stating that investigation has led authorities closer to identifying the perpetrators, whose names would soon be revealed to the public.

The Minister encouraged religious scholars to keep the public optimistic, stressing the government's responsibility to resolve their concerns.

Addressing rising inflation, Minister Aneeq acknowledged its impact and said that progress is being made in this regard. He said our direction is right and we are moving forward.


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In a first, SC live streams hearing on law limiting CJP’s powers

September 18, 2023

Haseeb Bhatti

In a first, the Supreme Court will live stream the hearing of a set of petitions challenging the Supreme Court (Practice and Procedure) Act 2023 — which requires formation of benches on constitutional matters of public importance by a committee of three senior judges of the court.

The decision came on Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Justice Qazi Faez Isa’s first day as the new top court judge. Prior to the start of the hearing, CJP Isa had called a full court meeting.

Shortly after taking oath on Sunday, Justice Isa — whose 13-month tenure ends in Oct 2024 —formed a full court to take up a set of pleas challenging the legislation, which was suspended by the SC under then-CJP Umar Ata Bandial earlier in April, that requires formation of benches on constitutional matters of public importance by a committee of three senior judges of the court.

Headed by CJP Isa, the bench will consist of Justice Sardar Tariq Masood, Justice Ijazul Ahsan, Justice Syed Mansoor Ali Shah, Justice Munib Akhtar, Justice Yahya Afridi, Justice Aminuddin Khan, Justice Sayyed Mazahar Ali Akbar Naqvi, Justice Jamal Khan Mandokhel, Justice Muhammad Ali Mazhar, Justice Ayesha A. Malik, Justice Athar Minallah, Justice Syed Hasan Azhar Rizvi, Justice Shahid Waheed and Justice Musarrat Hilali.

The previous government of PDM had enacted the Supreme Court (Practice and Procedure) Bill 2023, aimed at limiting the powers of the top judge. The legislation deprives the office of the CJP of powers to take suo motu notice in an individual capacity.

The law states that a three-member bench, comprising the CJP and the two senior-most judges of the apex court, will decide whether or not to take up a matter suo motu. Previously, this was solely the prerogative of the CJP. Additionally, it adds to the review jurisdiction of Supreme Court, giving the right to file an appeal within 30 days of the judgement in suo motu cases.

On April 13, an eight-judge SC bench headed by former CJP Bandial, had suspended the enforcement of the Supreme Court (Practice & Procedure) Act, 2023.

When the law was suspended, Justice Bandial had observed that the court had great respect for the Parliament but it also had to examine if any constitutional deviation, violation or transgression had taken place while enacting the legislation.

The petitioners in the case had pleaded before the apex court that the concept, preparation, endorsement and passing of the law was an act tainted with mala fide. Therefore, the bill should be struck down after declaring it to be without lawful authority and of no legal effect, the petition contended.

Moreover, they said the federal government could not frame any law that seeks to interfere or regulate with the functioning of the apex court or the powers exercised by it or its judges including CJP, under the Constitution.

Justice Isa refuses guard of honour

Separately, Justice Isa refused to receive a guard of honour upon arriving at the SC for his first day as the new chief justice. He was given a warm welcome by the SC staff and was presented a bouquet of flowers from the registrar.

“Thank you all so much. We need a lot of cooperation from you all,” he told the staff, adding that he would hold detailed meetings with them later as he meetings and the full court hearing scheduled for today.

CJP Isa observed that people did not approach the top court when they were “happy”, adding that the people wanted an end to the issues that plagued them.

He urged the court staff to treat visitors like “guests”, calling on them to keep the doors of the top court open and accessible for all.

“Help those coming [to the SC],” he said.


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With Pakistan’s help, Somalia launches ID system

September 18, 2023

ISLAMABAD: The Federal Republic of Somalia has launched a national identification system with the support of Nadra, a milestone for the ‘ID4Africa’ movement, which aims to provide all Africans with a digital identity by 2030.

Prime Minister Hamza Abdi Barre inaugurated Somalia’s national identity system during a conference held by NIRA Somalia in Mogadishu. The launch was attended by Somalia’s development partners — Pakistan, the EU, the World Bank Group, the UK, the US, Gulf countries, ID4Africa, diplomats and UN agencies, a press release said on Sunday.

The premier of Somalia expressed his gratitude to Prime Minister Anwaarul Haq Kakar and the National Database and Registration Authority (Nadra) for their support in launching the Somali National ID system. He thanked them for their assistance in capacity building for NIRA Somalia.

Other dignitaries at the event, including the UN Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Somalia, Catriona Laing, and the British Ambassador to Somalia, Mike Nithavrianakis, praised Nadra’s robust systems and congratulated the governments of Pakistan and Somalia on this accomplishment.

The Somalia National ID System is part of a multimillion-dollar grant extended by Pakistan to Somalia. It will enable NIRA and Somalia’s ministry of interior to implement their mandate of enhancing the country’s governance, security, and socio-economic development by equipping citizens of Somalia with a secure and universally recognised form of identification.

Nadra Chairman Asad Rehman Gilani said: “Nadra takes immense pride in the successful execution and launch of Somalia’s National Identification System, a testament to the power of collaboration and innovation. This achievement reinforces Pakistan’s vision for a more secure and prosperous Somalia, where every citizen has access to reliable identification. The National ID System will not only bolster security but also pave the way for inclusive development, financial empowerment, and improved governance.”

He said that the delivery of Somalia’s National ID complemented the government of Pakistan’s ‘Look Africa’ policy, where Nadra had been playing a pivotal role in providing secure identity and passport solutions under the transfer of technology to various governments in Africa, including Kenya, Sudan, and Nigeria, which held the largest ID database of over 100 million identities in Africa.

The Somalia National ID System is a state-of-the-art biometric identification system that will provide Somalis with a secure and universally recognised form of identification.


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Fazl proposes commission to resolve Pak-Afghan issues

September 18, 2023

PESHAWAR: JUIF chief Fazlur Rahman Sunday urged the governments of Pakistan and Afghanistan to form a joint commission for resolution of mutual issues causing confrontation.

Addressing a meeting of the party’s consultative body here, he said the JUIF was ready to play its role in bringing the two governments together for resolution of their issues.

The meeting, presided over by the party’s provincial president Ataur Rahman, was aimed at reviewing the arrangements for Mufti Mehmood Conference slated for October 14. Fazl said the conference would prove a milestone in the country’s politics.

Fazl criticised Imran Khan and his party’s four-year rule and alleged he had left the country bankrupt and pushed it towards economic and financial decay under a well-hatched international agenda.

He further claimed that the current inflation and hike in petroleum and other products of daily use prices was not the result of performance of the current government but the decisions were taken under the agreements made by Imran Khan with the IMF and other world bodies.

He said the nation was facing the worst situation owing to the flawed policies of the PTI government.

He further said that the selection of Imran Khan had been made to do away with the Islamic identity of the country. It was an effort to lead the country towards secularism and get Israel recognized, he added. Fazl also condemned the recent attack on the JUIF spokesman Maulana Hamdullah in Mastung and said the attack and Bajaur tragedy were serious questions over the national security situation.


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Legal defenders emerge as PTI’s last line of support

Rizwan Shehzad 

September 18, 2023

ISLAMABAD:The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), once a dominant political force, has lately found itself in the throes of a staggering decline following the tumultuous events of May 9.

The crackdown that started against the PTI leaders and workers in the aftermath of the party’s attack on civil and military installations culminated in the party’s disintegration and it literally fell like a house of cards.

As the PTI leadership either joined rival political parties or went underground to evade potential arrests, it was a surprising development that the party’s last line of defence emerged not from within its own ranks but from the legal community.

The PTI, which had previously enjoyed the support of influential politicians, has witnessed an exodus of key figures who once held portfolios and enjoyed various perks and privileges.

At a time when PTI Chairman and former prime minister Imran Khan is languishing in jail after being convicted in the Toshakhana reference and facing multiple other legal battles, it is his legal team and the lawyers’ community that have taken on the role of defending the beleaguered chairman in courts, as well as mainstream and social media.

The legal fraternity’s unwavering support has become a symbol of resilience in the face of adversity but it leaves a question mark on all those who have left the party and its chairman when they both needed them the most.

Imran Khan’s initiative, the ‘Jail Bharo Tehreek’ or ‘Fill the Prison Movement’, intended to prepare party leaders for potential incarceration, has seen only a handful of the PTI members choosing jail time over their political future. To add insult to injury, some have opted to flee the country altogether.

While the PTI’s leadership grapples with a seemingly insurmountable legal and political quagmire just ahead of the general elections, the lawyers’ commitment to upholding the rule of law and defending their leader has become a focal point in a rapidly changing political landscape. With the party’s future hanging in the balance, it remains to be seen whether the legal defence can stave off the tide of challenges being faced by the PTI.

PTI's legal eagles playing key role

At a time when judges like Humayun Dilawar, as well as prosecution, witnesses, and evidence are allegedly compromised, PTI legal team’s member Shoaib Shaheen said, the party’s legal eagles are playing a vital role by standing by the Constitution and defending the rule of law.

Expressing displeasure at all those who joined other political parties after addressing news conferences, the PTI lawyer said that the cases of those who left the party when pressure was exerted on their families were different.

“Doubting on their sincerity would not be the correct thing to do,” he said, adding that there are others still standing tall in jails.

On the difficulties being faced by the lawyers defending PTI on different forums, Shaheen said that the lawyers find it difficult to get access to records, adding that the right to a fair trial and fundamental rights were being violated.

He incorporated that firing at Latif Khosa’s house and then the incident where he along with other lawyers was stuck in a lift at the Islamabad High Court were the kind of pressures that the lawyers were facing, among other things.

Revealing what motivates him personally to keep fighting for Imran and the PTI, Shaheen said that he believes Imran is an honest and courageous leader, he hasn’t fled abroad and he is still in high spirits despite being in jail. “The most powerful stakeholders are after him yet he is standing on his ground; these things motivate me to stand by him,” he added.

Renowned lawyer and legal expert, Abdul Moiz Jaferii, however, saw things a bit differently as he noted that lawyers, recognising their waning relevance in Pakistan’s politics, are now aligning their interests with Imran Khan in the restoration of judicial authority and the Constitution.

“I think lawyers have correctly identified that their own relevance to the body politic of Pakistan has severely depleted; due in part to the machinations of the establishment against the Supreme Court and the collusive disregard of the Constitution and the rule of law,” Jaferii said.

“They [lawyers] find their interests aligned with Imran Khan in the restitution of both the power of the courts; and the Constitution,” he added.

As Imran Khan’s legal battles continue and the political fallout from the May 9 incident reverberates, Pakistan’s political scene remains in a state of flux and the role of lawyers can help shape its trajectory but only time will tell where all this ends up.


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Imran Khan's Key Ally and Leader of Awami Muslim League Sheikh Rashid Arrested in Pakistan

 SEPTEMBER 17, 202

Aditi Ray Chowdhury

Pakistani authorities on Sunday arrested Sheikh Rashid, a key ally of former premier Imran Khan and leader of Awami Muslim League, for his alleged involvement in corruption, said his nephew.

Rashid, 72, and two of his aides were arrested from his residence in Bahria Town of Rawalpindi and shifted to an undisclosed location, his nephew Sheikh Rashid Shafiq said in a video message.

“I request the top judiciary to take notice of the arrest of a senior politician as he was not wanted in any case,” Sheikh Shafiq said, adding that his elder brother and a servant was also arrested by police.

The details of the charges against Rashid have not been released so far.

Rashid, who is the head of AML  party, remained a staunch ally of former prime minister Khan and was appointed as interior minister during his government.

In a tweet on social media platform X (formerly Twitter), Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf condemned Rashid’s arrest.

“The political victimisation and fascism continues, this time with the arrest of Sheikh Rashid,” it said.

Rashid’s arrest seems to be part of the crackdown unleashed after the May 9 violence by the PTI workers who torched several state buildings, including the official residence of Corps Commander Lahore.

Earlier this year in June, the AML leader had alleged that the Islamabad police broke into his house and beat up his servants.

He had also claimed that in a second incident, a “force clad in plain clothes” tortured his employees at his Lal Haveli residence in Rawalpindi.


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Southeast Asia


Islamic religious matters and fatwas: Be responsible, do not give speeches arbitrarily, says religious affairs minister

17 Sep 2023

PUTRAJAYA, Sept 17 — Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department (Religious Affairs) Datuk Mohd Na’im Mokhtar has called on all parties to be more responsible and not arbitrarily give speeches that could cause strife, tension and anxiety in the society.

He said this included issuing statements that touched on Islamic religious matters and fatwas.

In a statement today, he said any religious matter, especially those dealing with faith and the shariah, should be referred to the state Islamic religious authorities and scholars certified as experts in the discipline.

“All parties are requested to stop arguments and conflicts that can destroy the unity and peace of the country. All parties need to unite to develop the country to be more advanced, prosperous, competitive and peaceful,” he said.

Mohd Na’im said he also heeded the decree of the Sultan of Selangor, Sultan Sharafuddin Idris Shah as the chairman of the Malaysian National Council for Islamic Religious Affairs (MKI) who urged all parties, especially political leaders, to take responsibility for strengthening unity for the sake of the nation’s well-being.

According to Mohd Na’im, all leaders need to wholeheartedly accept and comply with Sultan Sharafuddin’s decree so that religion is not misused to gain political support.

On September 13, Sultan Sharafuddin decreed that all parties, especially political leaders, should stop issuing fatwas irresponsibly in order to preserve the unity of the people in this country.

The Sultan of Selangor said he did not want to see the people divided due to the actions of some irresponsible political leaders, and that his decree was not partisan.

According to Mohd Na’im, the Prime Minister’s Department (Religious Affairs) has mobilised all agencies to strengthen the unity and togetherness of Muslims through various efforts and initiatives including enhancing the role of mosques and surau institutions as centres of unification for the ummah. — Bernama


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Ebit Lew files police report alleging slander against him

18 Sep 2023

PETALING JAYA: Celebrity preacher Ebit Lew has filed a police report in relation to alleged “extreme and unfounded slander” levelled against him recently.

He said the case will also be submitted to his lawyers for legal action.

"I just arrived home from Jeddah at midnight last night and went straight to the police station to make a report about the extreme and totally unfounded slander against me.

"I leave it to the police to investigate and take action. I have also handed it over to the lawyer for further action," he said in a post on X (formerly known as Twitter) on Monday (Sept 18).

Recently, an Indonesian social media influencer had alleged that Lew had behaved inappropriately with her.

Lew had earlier provided the Indonesian influencer with financial assistance in June.


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PM to reply to DNAA issue in Dewan Rakyat tomorrow

18-09- 2023

KUALA LUMPUR: Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim is expected to answer questions on the court decision to discharge not amounting to an acquittal (DNAA) the Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi in Dewan Rakyat, tomorrow.

Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department (Law and Institutional Reforms) Datuk Seri Azalina Othman Said said Anwar will probably reply at 2.30pm.

“Kota Bharu (Datuk Seri Takiyuddin Hassan) has asked whether the Prime Minister will be anwering. If you are present, he will be replying, God willing at 2.30pm to 3pm.

“So the questions can be directed to the Prime Minister but our commitment is that we need to act fairly,” she said when winding the debate on the Mid-Term Review of the 12th Malaysia Plan (12MP) in Dewan Rakyat today.

Azalina was replying to a question by Takiyuddin on whether the Prime Minister will reply to the DNAA on Ahmad Zahid over 47 charges involving Yayasan Akalbudi in Dewan Rakyat. – Bernama


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AGC yet to decide on Zahid's representation letter in VLN case

Rahmat Khairulrijal

September 18, 2023

PUTRAJAYA: The Attorney-General's Chambers (AGC) has yet to decide on Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi's representation letter to review the prosecution's appeal against his acquittal in foreign visa system (VLN) case.

Court of Appeal assistant registrar Mohd Khairi Haron in a proceeding today fixed Nov 17 for the next case management.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Abdul Malik Ayob and Zander Lim appeared for the prosecution while Zahid was represented by Hamidi Mohd Noh and Aiman Abdul Rahman.

In September last year, the Umno president was freed by the Shah Alam High Court of all 40 charges of receiving bribes from a company to extend its VLN contract.

High Court judge Datuk Yazid Mustafa ruled that the prosecution had failed to establish a prima facie case against the deputy prime minister.

He said witnesses who testified against Zahid were not credible or trustworthy and their testimony could not be relied on.

Subsequently, the prosecution Dec 29, filed a petition of appeal against the High Court's ruling by listing 15 grounds why the Appellate Court should reverse Zahid's acquittal and order him to enter his defence.

Zahid had been accused of 33 counts of receiving bribes amounting to S$13.56 million (RM42 million) from Ultra Kirana SdnBhd between 2014 and 2018 as home minister to allow the company to continue their contract for the VLN and a one-stop centre in China.

Zahid was also charged with seven other counts of obtaining S$1.15 million, RM3 million, 15,000 Swiss francs and US$15,000 from the same company.

A total of 18 prosecution witnesses were called to testify in the trial, which started on May 24, 2021.


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Niger: Thousands again take part in anti-French protests, say 'enough is enough'

September 17, 2023

A few thousand people have demonstrated in front of a military base housing French soldiers in Niamey, Niger's capital to demand their departure from the country. "Enough is enough. All Macron has to do is take his 'macronis' and his clicks and clacs. All they have to do is go back to their so-called country, France," says Yahya Garba, a protester.

"People always say that we Africans are the last in the world. But we ask them to leave and they refuse. They are rotting over there, and we won't give them peace until the day they leave" Garba stressed.

Rallies to protest the 1,500-strong French military presence have attracted tens of thousands of people to the airbase which hosts part of the former colonial power's contingent near Niamey's airport over the past three weeks.

The Nigerien generals who seized power in a July 26 coup have denounced several cooperation accords with France and are demanding Paris withdraw its troops.

But Paris does not recognise the legitimacy of the military regime and day and night almost without interruption citizen "vigils" camp out at Escadrille roundabout, the centre of the protest movement.

There is a Saturday night atmosphere along the metal barriers guarded by an almost uninterrupted line of police and soldiers.

Old men, hand-holding couples, young people wearing the national colours, groups of women, and street vendors all crowd the area under street lamps.

An improvised market has taken root under a specially erected awning. Grilled corn, rice, couscous and tea are all on sale.

- 'Support my country' -

On one of those anti-French protests held September 10, Hafizou, who says he is 16, came along with a friend carrying a sleeping bag to stay late into the night.

"I am here to support my country," says Hafizou, caught up in a group of people blaring vuvuzela horns. "I swear, I walked ten kilometres to get here - we shall never tire," insists Souleymane Abdou, a trader.

Some drift into the protest camp like Mariama Oumarou, a private sector manager draped in a purple veil.

"My husband gives me permission to come to show that I am a true patriot," she says.

The vigil offers a space for rare social exchange in a conservative society.

"It makes us feel good to be here. We meet people, exchange ideas, we talk about the crises we've just experienced," explains Mariama.

But everyone is adamant they are primarily here to support the cause -- forcing out France.

The organisations behind the vigils are making sure they get participants onside, with one local association having promised to serve "1,000 meals a day." It has teams of people busy distributing meals in cardboard boxes.

"Small businesses are growing, charitable people are preparing food to distribute for free. There is unparalleled determination," says Issaka Oumarou, who heads one association backing the military regime.

- 'Don't need the French' -

The festive atmosphere contrasts with the angry slogan on everyone's lips.

"Down with France," down with its politics, its president and its soldiers.

The French soldiers inside cannot hear the cacophony from their enclave, protected by a substantial security system.

"We don't need the French. Our army can readily do the job without them," says one youth at the rally, Oumar.


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Tinubu planning to unleash propaganda on Nigerians as state policy — Atiku’s aide

 September 17, 2023

The Bola Tinubu administration will soon unleash a barrage of propaganda on Nigerians as state policy with the intention to misinform and distract Nigerians from the current economic hardship.

This is according to Phrank Shaibu, the Special Assistant on Public Communication to the presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the 2023 election, Atiku Abubakar, who made the allegation in a statement on Sunday.

He cited the recent position of the government on the purported lifting of the visa ban by the United Arab Emirates, describing it as a “tip of the iceberg.”

Shaibu noted that Tinubu had already appointed over 15 media aides with the sole aim of pushing misinformation as a policy of the state and distracting Nigerians from the deep pains his administration has caused them.

According to him, this has always been Tinubu’s style from his days as governor and leader of his party.

The statement said, “From the information available to us, Bola Tinubu is set to push propaganda to overdrive as he heads out for the United Nations General Assembly. He will claim to have attracted foreign investments amounting to $100bn but will fail to provide key details. It is all propaganda. It is all a load of baloney.

“In India, he claimed they had received pledges of over $14bn just as his predecessor, President Muhammadu Buhari, claimed in 2018 that he had secured pledges of up to $6bn. This is nothing but audio investments.

“Last month, the NNPC claimed to have obtained a loan of $3bn with which it would help stabilise the naira. We raised the alarm that it was all a ruse to deceive Nigerians. Now, we have been justified as the naira is now approaching $1/N1,000 on the black market.

“After his trip to the UAE, Tinubu claimed the visa ban had been lifted immediately. Now, they have shifted the goalpost after the UAE authorities revealed that the news was false. This is the sort of embarrassment Nigeria will continue to attract in this season of balablu.

“The report by FTSE revealed that Tinubu’s so-called FX unification policy was failing and Nigeria was degraded from a frontier market to unclassified. Having failed to bring economic rebirth, he has now recruited over 15 media aides instead of recruiting more economic experts.

“His list of media aides include AjuriNgelale (Special Adviser Media and Publicity); Tunde Rahman (SSAP Media); Tope Ajayi (SSAP Media and Publicity); Abdulaziz Abdulaziz (SSAP Print Media); Otega Ogara (SSAP Digital/New Media); Segun Dada (SAP Social Media); Nosa Asemota (SAP Visual Communications); Sunday Moses (PA Videography); Taiwo Okonlawon (PA State photography); Moremi Ojudu (SAP, community engagement southwest); Tanko Yakasai (SAP, community engagement northwest); Chioma Nweze (SAP, community engagement southeast)., Abiodun Essiet (SAP, community engagement north-central); Abdulhamid Yahaya Abba (SAP, community engagement northeast); Emmanuella Eduozor (SAP Multimedia content production). This is apart from the minister of information and others appointed in the ministry to drive the propaganda agenda.”

Shaibu said it was laughable that Tinubu, who vowed to hit the ground running from the first day, had held only one cabinet meeting since his inauguration nearly 120 days ago.

He asked Nigerians to remain patient as the Supreme Court prepares to commence work on the election petition appeal.

Shaibu further said “Tinubu removed the petrol subsidy without any plan whatsoever and decided to hand over a few bags of rice to millions of poor Nigerians. Till date, the minimum wage remains N30,000 or $31 per month based on the parallel market exchange rate.

“This is the punishment Nigerians are facing because the election management body failed to do its work on February 25. This is a manifestation of the words of the Holy Book, which says when the righteous lead, the people rejoice, but when the wicked rule, the people suffer.

“In the meantime, we ask Nigerians to remain patient as the judicial authorities do their job in righting the electoral fraud that has brought Nigerians to their knees.”


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Libya: Greek rescuers among seven killed in road collision

September 18, 2023

In Libya, seven people were killed in a road collision in eastern region of Derna.

In a statement, the Regional Health Minister said that four members of a Greek rescue team en route to the flood-ravaged city of Derna and three members of a Libyan family are among the deceased.

He said that the team was travelling on a bus from the eastern city Benghazi to the flood-ravaged city of Derna when their vehicle collided with a car carrying the family.


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Nigeria: Volunteers brave the rain to commemorate World Cleanup Day

September 17, 2023

Despite the pouring rain in Nigeria, over a dozen dedicated volunteers came together on Saturday to participate in a special event commemorating World Cleanup Day.

Nigeria faces a staggering challenge, with an estimated annual production of more than 2 million tonnes of plastic waste, with plastic constituting 15% of the total waste generated in Lagos State alone.

SustyVibes, a prominent environmental advocacy group, led volunteers to a notoriously littered market in Lagos to help address the issue.

Local environmental activist and SustyVibes project manager, Sonia Ugwunna, emphasized that plastic pollution is one of Nigeria's most pressing environmental concerns.

"What we do is very important because the environment belongs to everyone, and the environment needs champions like us," she said.

World Cleanup Day serves as a global rallying point, uniting millions of environmental enthusiasts, governments, and corporations in a joint effort to combat the worldwide crisis of mismanaged waste.

“I am very happy that they came to our market today to clean it up and they spoke to us about keeping our surroundings clean," fish vendor AdijatObe said.

World Cleanup Day is observed annually on the third Saturday of September, calling upon volunteers to clean up their neighbourhoods and surrounding areas, emphasizing the importance of collective action for a cleaner, healthier environment.


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French visa ban controversy: Nigerien artists refuse to let culture be "taken away"

September 17, 2023

This Nigerien flutist and singer has a message. It is one directed at France, his country's former colonial power who has banned cultural venues from collaborating with artists from his country.

"The French should respect us. If we say "ah I'm not going to give a visa" that's like saying to a child "ah if you don't do that, I can't buy you a sweet." We are not at that level, we have gone beyond that." Yacouba Moumouni says. He is not alone with this view and message.

In Niger, artists are reacting to this amongst other issues that includes France's decision to suspend visa issuance to nationals of the country.

"We will not beg. We are companies of the world. We are artists of the world. And the world has to deal with us. We can't remove our cultures from the world's culture", Rachid Ramane, President of the Federation of Artistic and Cultural Associations of Niger says.

"Niger, Burkina Faso and Mali are experiencing problems today, and not the least of them. It's not too much to ask for independence and autonomy. People should understand us" Ramane stressed.

On Thursday, a letter sent out by the French General Directorates for Cultural Affairs to national drama and choreography centers called for an immediate halt to all projects involving nationals from Niger Mali and Burkina Faso.

Garba Mahamane Lawali, director of the Niger musical training and promotion center believes any culture that doesn't open up, that closes in on itself, is a culture destined to die. "In Africa, we thank God we are open to everyone, and if it's not because we can't go to France, we have Africa, we have the other parts of the world. All they have to do is close themselves off. They will see if they can evolve. All they have to do is to be more moderate. It's a time... it's a time when they need to have the intelligence to face up to this new era."

Led by military juntas who sacked democratically elected presidents from power, Niger Mali and Burkina Faso are currently engaged in a diplomatic row with their former colonial power France.

On 29 July and 6 August, France suspended all its development aid and budget support operations with Niger and Burkina Faso. It had already done so for Mali in November 2022.


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Looted art stories take centre stage at Mauritshuis museum in The Hague

September 17, 2023

Looted art is taking centre stage at Mauritshuis museum in The Hague, Netherlands.

"Loot - 10 stories" puts 10 objects and their history in the spotlight thanks to virtual reality (VR).

The exhibition focuses on three periods: colonial looted art, the art thefts committed by French revolutionaries in 1795, and art stolen by the Nazis from Jewish owners.

The artworks are from the collections of the Mauritshuis, but also three Berlin museums (Ethnologisches Museum, Stadtmuseum, Gipsformerei), and the Musée des beaux-arts de Rennes (France).

"A museum is there to make those objects look more beautiful, but we don't make them more beautiful. The light is working light as you can see here. So with the VR installation, you put on your goggles and your VR installation and then you dive into the moment of loot itself. So you as a visitor are witness of the loot, and then the object tells the story by itself. It's about the biography of the objects, and the object tells the story to you as a visitor," says Marine Grosselink, director of the Mauritshuis.

Rembrandt's Self-Portrait from 1669 is one of the artworks which can be seen in VR. The painting belonged to the Jewish Rathenau family but was confiscated by Nazis during World War II.

The Quadriga on the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin is another highlight. It was looted by Napoleon in 1806.

In the exhibition, the artistic duo Jongsma+O'Neill uses VR experience to present the story of the looted objects.

"We made a very deliberate choice with these experiences to essentially draw people into history. It's not particularly narrative. You're essentially arriving back at a time that you would not have access to. Like you stepped into a time machine," says Kel O’Neill, co-curator of the exhibition.

"Loot - 10 stories" runs from 14 September 2023 to 7 January 2024.


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North America


US Ambassador to UAE visits Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque


ABU DHABI, 17th September, 2023 (WAM) -- Martina Strong, the United States Ambassador to the UAE, and the accompanying delegation visited Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque.

During the visit, they were accompanied by Dr. Youssef Al Obaidli, the Director General of Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque Centre, on an insightful tour where they were acquainted with the mosque's cultural message, which revolves around coexistence, tolerance, and openness towards all. These values originate from the significant principles and rich values instilled by its late founder.

They also learned about the significant role played by Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque Centre in introducing the tolerant Islamic culture and its global leadership as a distinctive model among other places of worship that extends beyond being solely a place for religious rituals and prayers, encompassing its role in promoting the UAE's cultural and civilisational message, which is based on coexistence, peace, and harmony amongst different cultures of the world.

Furthermore, the U.S. ambassador and the accompanying delegation were introduced to the comprehensive system and distinguished services the Visitors Center provides to visitors from different cultures. They also explored the specialised library of the Centre, which houses a collection of rare precious Arabic manuscripts in the form of microfiche, and the Centre's distinguished publications, which illuminate the vast wealth of sciences, arts, and cultural heritage of Islamic civilisations, which have played a pivotal role in enlightening humanity as a whole.

She also learned about the unique experience of the “Tolerance Path”, which takes visitors of different cultures on an exceptional exploration journey.

Moreover, she gained insight into the unparalleled experience provided by the "Tolerance Path", which immerses visitors from different cultural backgrounds in a remarkable exploration encompassing a visual narrative across the path's three divisions, portraying pioneering advancements in promoting coexistence, tolerance, and the opening of channels for civilisational dialogue between different cultures around the world.

The U.S. ambassador and the accompanying delegation later toured the halls and external corridors of the mosque, where they learned about its construction history, aesthetics, and the exquisite art of Islamic architecture that manifests in all its aspects.

They also explored the mosque's unique collections and the magnificent contributions of Islamic civilisation throughout the ages in terms of arts and architectural designs, which varied in their designs and diversity in the mosque's construction, reflecting the beauty of cultural harmony and its integration in one creative work.

At the end of the visit, she was presented with a copy of the book "Spaces of Light" one of Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque Centre's unique publications, which includes several distinguished and award-winning photographs from the "Spaces of Light" photography award organised by the Centre periodically, highlighting the beauty of Islamic architecture in the mosque.


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Climate protesters in New York and across the globe send message to United Nations

September 18, 2023

NEW YORK: Thousands of protesters kicked off “Climate Week” and filled the streets of Midtown, Manhattan, on Sunday ahead of the UN General Assembly this week, calling for President Joe Biden and world leaders to end fossil fuel use.

With parades, concerts, and banging drums, some of the 15,000 expected waved signs that read “End Fossil Fuel Use” and “Fossil Fuels Kill” and “Declare a Climate Emergency.”

One man was dressed as a melting snowman warning of rising sea levels. The message was for world leaders to save the planet from the use of oil and gas believed to be driving a warming globe.

Sunday’s protests were part of a week-long international effort by Climate Group, a non-profit whose purpose is to drive climate change action and stop global warming, with more than 500 protests planned in the U.S, Germany, England, South Korea, India and elsewhere, totaling 54 countries.

Organizers of the protests expect a global turnout of more than a million people.

“Climate Week NYC is all about getting it done,” organizers wrote online. “Through celebrating climate action, challenging ourselves to do more, and exploring ways to increase ambition, Climate Week NYC inspires, amplifies and scrutinizes the commitments, policies and actions of those with the power to make change happen.”

Many scientists believe that so-called greenhouse gases caused by burning fossil fuels are warming the world and causing severe weather such as more intense hurricanes, heat waves, floods, wildfires and droughts.

Reductions in CO2 or carbon dioxide emissions are seen as a key element in abating climate change.

The demonstrations take place two months before this year’s UN COP28 climate summit, where more than 80 countries plan to push for a global agreement to gradually phase out coal, oil and gas.

A recent UN report warned that the world was on a dangerous track toward severe global warming, and said more action was needed on all fronts, including drastic drop in coal-fueled power use by 2030, Reuters reported.


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US military asks for help finding its lost stealth F-35 jet

September 18, 2023

WASHINGTON: A stealth-capable US fighter jet vanished on Sunday — not from prying eyes but rather from the American military, prompting an unusual call to the public to help locate the missing multimillion-dollar plane.

After what authorities labeled a “mishap,” a pilot flying an F-35 in the southern state of South Carolina on Sunday afternoon ejected from the craft.

The pilot survived, but the military was left with an expensive problem: it couldn’t find the jet, leading Joint Base Charleston to ask for help from local residents.

“If you have any information that may help our recovery teams locate the F-35, please call the Base Defense Operations Center,” a post from the base read on X, formerly known as Twitter.

Base authorities said they were searching, in coordination with federal aviation regulators, around two lakes north of the city of Charleston.

The planes, manufactured by Lockheed Martin, cost around $80 million each.


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US tops 500 mass shootings this year

18 Sep, 2023

The number of mass shootings in the US surpassed the 500 mark over the weekend, according to the Gun Violence Archive (GVA), which averages to almost two mass shootings a day.

On Sunday, the Denver Police Department posted an alert on X (formerly Twitter) confirming a shooting that left five people injured, which was the 500th incident of the year.

Just hours later, El Paso police reported that they were investigating an early morning shooting in East El Paso which claimed the life of a 19-year-old man and left five more injured, bringing the total number of mass shootings to 501.

According to the GVA website, a mass shooting is defined as an incident in which four or more people are shot and either injured or killed, not including the shooter.

2021 had the highest number of mass shootings in US history, with 689 reported incidents, and while the numbers fell to 647 in 2022, FBI data showed a higher number of casualties.

Recently, the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) released its annual crime and safety report, which revealed 188 school shootings with casualties in the 2021-22 school year, more than twice the number of incidents documented a year before. 

Mass shootings have been on the rise in the last decade; 273 incidents were reported in 2014.

A study published by the Annals of Internal Medicine in February indicates that gun ownership has grown in recent years, with 7.5 million US adults becoming new gun owners between January 2019 and April 2021.

The Second Amendment to the US Constitution guarantees the right to bear arms, and around a third of US adults say they personally own a gun. However, a poll conducted by Gallup in October 2022 reveals that the majority of Americans are in favor of gun control, with 57% supporting stricter gun laws.

The issue, however, remains extremely divisive. According to another Gallop study, Democrats are nearly unanimous in their support for gun control, while less than a quarter of Republicans support stricter regulations.


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US using NATO to ‘absorb’ countries – Moscow

17 Sep, 2023

The never-ending expansion of NATO has enabled the US to turn many nations into its puppets, helping Washington to cling to its hegemony, Nikolay Patrushev, the secretary of Russia’s National Security Council, has said.

In an op-ed for the Razvedchik magazine issued by Russia’s Foreign Intelligence Service (SVR) and published on Friday, Patrushev claimed that the West often resorts to military force, coercion, ‘privatization’ of elites, and color revolutions to achieve global domination.

The official also blasted the US-led military bloc for what he called “duplicity,” arguing that while NATO has always claimed to stand for peace, it has waged war or threatened military action against countries that oppose Washington’s policies.

“NATO’s military power is used to maintain Western hegemony, economic enslavement, and political pressure on states that pose no military threat to the alliance,” Patrushev stated, adding that members of the bloc have taken part in more than 200 conflicts across the world over the past seven decades.

Moscow vows ‘preventive measures’ against NATO in ArcticREAD MORE: Moscow vows ‘preventive measures’ against NATO in Arctic

Meanwhile, Patrushev continued, Washington regards the armies of allies as “colonial” troops and would eagerly use them as “cannon fodder” if necessary without putting its own “exceptional people” in harm’s way.

The West “perceives Russia as a constant threat” because it remembers that it was the Soviet Union that played a crucial role in dismantling the colonial system, according to Patrushev. As a result, he said, the West is using the full range of tools at its disposal against Russia, including sanctions and its massive system of media resources that help it concoct “information frenzy campaigns” across the globe.

Moscow has repeatedly protested NATO expansion, seeing it as a major national security threat and arguing that the increased military build-up on its borders leads to heightened tensions in Europe. Russian President Vladimir Putin has named the risk of Kiev joining the military bloc as one of the key reasons behind the Ukraine conflict.


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