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‘Mughals Razed 4 Lakh Temples to Make Mosques; They Will Be Returned to Hindus’: UP Minister

New Age Islam News Bureau

28 July 20123


Raghuraj Pratap Singh, UP Minister of State. File picture. Twitter



• Arrest Warning for Assam Congress Chief Over Lord Krishna "Love Jihad" Parallel

• Karnataka Bus Driver Denies Entry to Muslim Students Without Burqa

• Delimitation A Ploy to Target Muslims in Assam: Congress MLA

• Why Former Police Chiefs, Judge Say Arrest Of 3 Muslim Teens, Demolition of Their Home by MP Govt Is Illegal

• Assam CM Himanta Call to End Love Jihad: Don't Marry Outside Your Faith

• Probe agency NIA arrests man from Pune in Islamic State module case

• Gyanvapi case: Allahabad HC reserves order for August 3, stays ASI survey till then



• UK Calls for Respect To Status Quo Al-Aqsa Mosque

• Imam suggests mobile masjid as solution to Apostolos Andreas controversy

• The value of the rial is a symbol of the state of the mullah’s rule

• British Islamic State fighter found dead in Spanish prison

• Swedish PM brands burning of Quran ‘destructive’

• Russia wants to ditch dollar in trade with African countries



• Deadly Bomb Attack Targets Shia Muslim Shrine in Damascus Killing At Least Six, Wounding Dozens Day Before the Solemn Holy Day of Ashoura

• Syria: 6 killed in Damascus suburb bombing near Shiite Muslim shrine

• Hagia Sophia Mosque in Türkiye's Trabzon attracts int'l visitors

• Iranians Attend Processions in Millions to Mark Tasua of Imam Hossein (AS)

• Kuwait hangs five, including mosque bombing convict

• Shia Muslims visit Karbala for Muharram ceremonies

• Emirates Islamic’s net profit rises to AED 1.2 billion for first half of 2023

• Tehran Demands Its Share of Water Determined by Helmand Treaty


Arab World

• Saudi natural reserve receives IUCN administrative classification accreditation

• Madinah Development Authority and Islamic University launch Arabic learning program

• Makkah’s Grand Mosque ready to receive worshipers on Ashoura: presidency

• OIC calls meeting to discuss Qur’an burnings in Sweden and Denmark

• Saudi ambassador to Egypt launches tourism forum in Cairo

• Saudi man gets 15 years in prison for drug crimes


South Asia

• Journalist Abdul Hai Aber Comments on Incorrect Claims of His Death

• Acting Minister Muttaqi to Meet American Officials in Doha

• Heavy Rains, Flash Floods Kill 47 in 11 Provinces of Afghanistan

• Afghan Acting Foreign Minister to Meet US Officials in Doha

• International Rescue Committee Ramps Up Support for Flood Victims in Afghanistan



• How The Coup in Niger Could Expand the Reach of Islamic Extremism, And Wagner, In West Africa

• Kwara: Police React to Islamic-Traditional Worshippers’ Conflict in Ilorin

• Allow Islamic, Quranic experts to develop curriculum - Dr Abdul-Hamid urges NaCCA

• Kwara CP meets Muslims, traditionalists, sues for peace

• Davido Unfollows Israel DMW Following Apology to Muslim Community Over Controversial Music Video



• Islamabad High Court Refers Judge’s ‘Controversial’ Facebook Posts To FIA

• PM urges Balochistan to ‘look after’ foreign investors

• Unrepentant Asif asks PTI members to ‘apologise first’

• Activists seek to join SC hearing on May 9 trials

• Senate ramps up punishment for leaking sensitive info

• Sindh Police uncertain about motive behind murder of PTI lawmaker’s brother, nephew


North America

• Documents Show US President Joe Biden’s Administration Pressured Facebook To Censor Speech

• Defeated and Detained, Islamic State Still Poses Extremism Threat

• African, Caribbean nations call for reparations for colonial slavery

• US nuclear test’s fallout reached as far as Canada and Mexico, study finds


Southeast Asia

• Najib Withdraws Appeal Over Legal Challenge to Attend Parliament

• Malaysia, Philippines set to boost Islamic banking, halal trade with focus on Bangsamoro

• Madani Economy plan may be a precursor to Budget 2024, say securities firms

• Education Ministry gets RM6.5b to implement school redevelopment projects from 2016 to 2023

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau



‘Mughals Razed 4 Lakh Temples to Make Mosques; They Will Be Returned to Hindus’: UP Minister


Raghuraj Pratap Singh, UP Minister of State. File picture. Twitter


July 27, 2023

Abhishek Awasthi

In a recent statement that sparked controversy, Raghuraj Pratap Singh, a Minister of State in UP, courted controversy speaking about the fate of mosques in India in the wake of the Gyanvapi masjid row.

He claimed that the Mughals had constructed mosques by demolishing a staggering four lakh temples across the nation.

Singh expressed his determination to reclaim these temples and hand them over to the Hindu community.

During discussions on the Gyanvapi case, the Minister asserted that all temples, which he believes were once Hindu places of worship, should be rightfully returned to the Hindu community.

Singh pointed to the historical figure, Aurangzeb, accusing him of demolishing the said temples and building mosques in their place.

To avenge this historical event, he advocated for the immediate demolition of the 4 lakh mosques and build temples, asserting the Hindus’ rights over these structures.

Singh’s fervor extended to Kashi, a revered city in Hindu tradition. He urged non-Hindus to vacate the city voluntarily, emphasizing its significance as a sacred site for Hindus and the core of their faith.

Citing Lord Shiva’s creation of the universe from Kashi, the Minister underscored the importance of this location to the Hindu community, urging an end to any disputes surrounding it.

Further, Singh made remarks about the political landscape, criticizing certain parties for allegedly favoring the Muslim population.

He claimed that parties like SP, BSP, and Congress were oriented towards gaining Muslim votes and harbored an anti-Hindu mentality.

He stressed the importance of respecting Hindu sentiments and interests, suggesting that a party advocating for Hindu welfare would be fit to govern the country.

He proudly mentioned the current ruling party, Bharatiya Janata Party, as an example of this.

The Minister of State expressed confidence that these temples, which he perceives as “captured,” will be released through the legal system, advocating for their return to the Hindu community.

He also dismissed calls from certain political figures, like Owaisi, to leave the issue to negotiation, asserting that the captured temples must be freed without compromise.


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Swedish PM 'extremely worried' what could happen if further Quran burnings go ahead

By Johan Ahlander and Simon Johnson


FILE PHOTO: Sweden Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson attends a meeting of the North Atlantic Council during a NATO leaders summit in Vilnius, Lithuania July 12, 2023. REUTERS/Ints Kalnins/file photo


July 28, 2023

STOCKHOLM, July 27 (Reuters) - Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson is "extremely worried" about the consequences if more demonstrations go ahead in which the Quran is desecrated, he said on Thursday, amid growing Muslim anger at a series of attacks on Islam's holy book.

Attacks on the Quran in Sweden and Denmark have offended many Muslim countries including Turkey, whose backing Sweden needs to join the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, a goal of Stockholm's following Russia's invasion of Ukraine in 2022.

Kristersson told Swedish news agency TT that further requests had been filed with police for permission to hold protests where desecration of the Quran was again planned.

"If they are granted, we are going to face some days where there is a clear risk of something serious happening. I am extremely worried about what it could lead to," he said.

Sweden's embassy in Baghdad was stormed and set ablaze on July 20 by protesters angered by a planned Quran burning.

Kristersson said the decision whether to grant permission for the demonstrations was up to the police.

Sweden's security service, SAPO, has kept its assessment of the threat level at 3 on a scale of 5, signifying an "elevated threat" during the crisis, but its head said there had been a strong reaction to recent events.


"Sweden has gone from being seen as a tolerant country to being seen as an anti-Islamic land," Charlotte von Essen told reporters on Thursday.

NATO leaders summit in Vilnius

Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson addresses the media ahead of a NATO leaders summit in Vilnius, Lithuania July 11, 2023. REUTERS/Ints Kalnins/ File Photo

Denmark and Sweden have said they deplore the burning of the Quran but cannot prevent it under rules protecting free speech.

Sweden has accused other countries - such as Russia - of manipulating the crisis to damage its interests and its bid to join NATO.

"In some countries there is a perception that the Swedish state is behind or condone this. We don't," Swedish Foreign Minister Tobias Billstrom told reporters on Thursday.

"These are acts committed by individuals, but they do it within the framework of freedom of speech laws," he said.

Billstrom said he had been in touch with the foreign ministers of Iran, Iraq, Algeria and Lebanon among others as well as the United Nations secretary-general about the current crisis.

"And just now I will speak to the secretary-general for the Organisation of Islamic Countries," Billstrom said.

"We will discuss these issues and it's important to stress that this is a long-term issue, there are no quick fixes," he

The government is facing a difficult balancing act in defending far-reaching freedom of speech laws, while at the same time avoiding potential insult to Muslims.

Its position is not made easier by the anti-immigration Sweden Democrats, whose support keeps the right-of-centre coalition in power though the party is not formally part of the government.

Members of Sweden Democrats, the biggest party on the right, have repeatedly warned about the "Islamization" of Swedish society and called for immigrants to adopt "Swedish" values.


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Arab Parliament Condemns Israeli Settlers’ Storming of Al-Aqsa Mosque


Israeli Knesset members tour Al-Aqsa compound amid tensions ahead of the annual flag march on May 18, 2023. (Reuters)


July 28, 2023

The Arab Parliament denounced on Thursday, July 27, the large-scale incursion of Israeli settlers, led by Itamar Ben-Gvir, into the blessed Al-Aqsa Mosque, under the protection of Israeli occupation forces.

The Arab Parliament stated that the ongoing intrusions by settlers and Israeli government officials into the Al-Aqsa Mosque, as well as attempts to divide and tamper with its temporal and spatial integrity, represent a provocation to the sentiments of over 2 billion Muslims, a quarter of the world’s population.

“Such actions are rejected and may escalate tensions and lead the region into a religious conflict,” the statement warned.

The Arab Parliament reaffirmed its rejection of any attempts to alter the historical and legal status of Islamic and Christian holy sites in Jerusalem, including attempts to Judaize and undermine the freedom of Muslim worship, which contradict international law and United Nations resolutions.

The Arab Parliament called on the international community and the UN Security Council to fulfill their responsibilities in halting these provocative acts and to provide international protection for the Palestinian people and their religious sanctities while putting an end to the blatant violations committed by the Israeli force.

Additionally, the Arab Parliament called for a renewed effort to address the current situation and promote a fair and comprehensive peace process in the Middle East. They reiterated their steadfast support for the Palestinian people’s rightful aspirations to establish an independent state with Jerusalem as its capital.

On Thursday, 27 July 2023, approximately 1050 Israeli settlers, accompanied by Israeli far-right wing security minister Itamar Ben-Gvir, forcibly entered the courtyards of Al-Aqsa Mosque and conducted provocative Talmudic rituals.


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Saudi Arabia Leads Chorus Of Condemnation After Niger President Seized In Coup


Hundreds of supporters of the coup gather and hold a Russian flag in front of the National Assembly in the capital Niamey, Niger July 27, 2023. (Reuters)


July 27, 2023

Saudi Arabia on Thursday voiced its “total rejection” of a coup in Niger, a day after mutinous soldiers detained President Mohamed Bazoum and announced they had seized power because of the country’s deteriorating security situation.

The Kingdom called on the mutineers to release the president and enable him to restore his constitutional powers, while ensuring his safety and well-being.

It said the interest of the people of Niger is to avoid political turmoil that could put lives and national resources at risk.

Bazoum — who was elected in 2021 in Niger’s first peaceful, democratic transfer of power since its independence from France in 1960 and is a key ally of the West — appeared to have the backing of several political parties.

“The hard-won achievements will be safeguarded. All Nigeriens who love democracy and freedom will see to it,” Bazoum tweeted.

Foreign Minister HassoumiMassoudou issued a similar call on news network France 24, asking “all Nigerien democratic patriots to stand up as one to say no to this factious action.”

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, who spoke to Bazoum by phone, said he was “extremely worried” about the situation and warned of the “terrible effects on development” and civilians due to “successive unconstitutional changes of government in the Sahel region.”

The EU demanded the “immediate release” of Bazoum and his family. “Niger is an essential partner of the EU in the Sahel, whose destabilization would not serve the interest of anyone in the country, the region or beyond,” spokeswoman Nabila Massrali said.

France called for the immediate restoration of the integrity of Niger’s democratic institutions and the release of its president after what it described as a “power grab” in the country.

The French military landed an aircraft in Niger on Thursday morning despite an airspace closure imposed after the coup, army Col. Amadou Abdramane said on state television.

A German minister said the coup was a “slap in the face” for citizens.

UN humanitarian operations have been suspended in the country. The number of people in need of humanitarian assistance in Niger has risen precipitously from 1.9 million in 2017 to 4.3 million in 2023, according to the UN.

Mutiny supporters ransacked and set fire to the headquarters of the ruling party.

While many people in the capital of Niamey went about their usual business, it remained unclear who was in control of the country and which side the majority might support.


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Kabul Needs To Take Appropriate Actions in Afghanistan for International Recognition: US


Taliban needs to take appropriate actions in Afghanistan for international recognition: US


July 27, 2023

If the Taliban intends to seek international recognition, in that case, they need to “start directly with the actions and the policies they choose to undertake in Afghanistan,” said Vedant Patel, the deputy spokesperson for the US Department of State.

During a press conference in Washington, DC, Patel said that the US is “going to be watching very closely and will continue to take appropriate actions as needed.”

“As it relates to the United States and Taliban, we have been incredibly clear, quite regularly condemning the clear backsliding that we are seeing in Afghanistan, the egregious human rights abuses, the marginalization of women and girls,” he said.

“Priority issues will include humanitarian support for the people of Afghanistan, economic stabilization, fair and dignified treatment of all Afghans, including women and girls, security issues, and efforts to counter narcotics production and trafficking, according to a statement released by the US Department of State on Wednesday.

Meanwhile, the State Department announced that the US position will not change about the current regime of Kabul.

“We have been very clear that we will engage with the Taliban appropriately when it is in our interest to do so,” spokesperson Vedant Patel told media.

“This is not intended to mean any indication of recognition, normalization, or legitimacy of the Taliban,” Patel added.

Since the Taliban took control of the country, they introduced suppressive policies and actions restricting fundamental human rights, including education and work.

In a recent move, the group banned beauty salons across the country, which had a substantial financial impact on women.


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Arrest Warning For Assam Congress Chief Over Lord Krishna "Love Jihad" Parallel

July 28, 2023

Guwahati: Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma on Thursday said that equating Lord Krishna and Rukmini's relationship to so-called "Love Jihad" by Assam Pradesh Congress President Bhupen Kumar Borah is unfortunate, and the government will take action against him if a complaint is filed.

Mr Borah, reacting to the Chief Minister's comment that the recent triple murder in Assam's Golaghat was a case of "Love Jihad", a term often used by right-wing politicians to allege a campaign by Muslim men to convert Hindu women by seducing them, courted controversy for calling the marriages of Lord Krishna and Rukmini, and Dhritarashtra and Gandhari, in the epic Mahabharata, "Love Jihad" as well.

"There has been cross marriages going on since history, even among Kings since Mahabharata (sic). The main story in Mahabharata is that Gandhari's family didn't want her to marry Dhritarashtra. Bhisma Pitamah forced the marriage between them. Shakuni's brother was imprisoned, and later the mama took revenge. That is also love jihad. Gandhari's family objected, and as such she wore a cloth over her eyes. When Krishna came to take Rukmini, Arjun came in a different roop," Mr Borah said.

HimantaBiswa Sarma condemned the Congress leader dragging Lord Krishna into the issue. "It is against Sanatan Dharma, it is against Hindu Dharma," he said, adding that he requests Mr Borah not to bring up Lord Krishna in the controversy like "we shouldn't drag Hajrat Mohammad or Jesus Christ" into any religious controversy.

"Secondly, what is love jihad? When a girl is married by false identity and is forced to change her religion after marriage. Lord Krishna never asked Rukmini to change her religion. If someone files a case, we will have to arrest the person who has said that," Mr Sarma said, without naming Mr Borah.

25-year-old Nazibur Rahman Bora on Wednesday murdered his 24-year-old wife, Sanghamitra Ghosh, and her parents, before surrendering to police with their nine-month-old baby in his arms.

"It is a total case of love jihad. The deceased family was Hindu and the accused belongs to the Muslim community. He first introduced himself with a Hindu name on Facebook... the woman learnt to use drugs when the couple had escaped to Kolkata," Mr Sarma said during his visit to the family of the victims.


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Karnataka Bus Driver Denies Entry to Muslim Students Without Burqa

Jul 28, 2023

A Kalyana Karnataka State Road Transport Corporation (KKSRTC) bus driver refused to allow Muslim female students without burqa to board the bus at Kamalapur taluk bus stand in Kalaburagi district on Thursday, sparking outrage among netizens on social media, officials familiar with the developments said.

According to eyewitnesses, a group of students, including female students wearing hijabs, were waiting to board a bus heading to Okali. However, the bus driver insisted that the female students wear burqa before boarding the bus.

The female students explained that they were headed to Okali and were merely seeking to travel to their destination, but the driver remained adamant, eyewitnesses said.

In response to the driver’s discriminatory behaviour, the students decided to board a different bus heading to Okali village.

Later, the female students, aged 14 to 18, complained to their teachers, who inquired about the incident with the bus driver. The bus driver answered in a loud voice, officials said.

The video clip of the conversation was widely shared on social media.

The incident has sparked outrage among the public, drawing attention to the issue of discrimination based on religious attire.

‘’Through social media, it has come to my notice, as someone forwarded a video clip of the incident,” Bidar district KKSRTC divisional security inspector (DSI) H K Mallikarjuna told HT. He said that they have identified the bus driver as Mehaboob from Basavakalyan bus depot.

“I visited the Kanakapura bus stand to investigate the issue and collected information and recorded statements of the bus conductor, students, and the general public. Prima facie, the driver is at fault. I will submit a report to KKSRTC divisional controller, and he will take disciplinary action,” he added.

In another video clip, the victim student is heard saying that after seeing a hijab on her head, he asked her name. When she did not reveal her name, the driver is seen saying: “If you are a Muslim, you should wear a burkha, only then I will allow you to board the bus.”

According to government orders, wearing burqas is prohibited in schools. However, the recent Shakti scheme implemented by the Congress government offers free travel for girl students on government buses. The initiative aims to encourage female students’ education and empower them with better access to educational opportunities.”


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Delimitation A Ploy to Target Muslims in Assam: Congress MLA

Jul 28, 2023

Guwahati - Assam July 28 (ANI):

Alleging that the ruling party in the state was depriving the Muslims of government benefits, the Congress MLA said, "However, the Muslims aren't bothered in the least as they are hardworking people and can take care of themselves and their families. However, these are basic rights being denied by the BJP. Why are we being deprived of our constitutional rights?"

He claimed that as part of the ongoing delimitation exercise, more Assembly constituencies were being carved out in districts that have a relatively lesser concentration of Muslims.

"The representation in the Assembly is being reduced in districts that are home to a sizeable concentration of Muslims. Districts that the Muslims inhabit in relatively lesser numbers are being allotted more Assembly segments. Barpeta district, which is entitled to 8 Assembly constituencies, is proposed to be allotted 6. Darrang, which deserves 4 constituencies, is being given 3, while Karimganj is being allotted 4 segments instead of 4. Hailakandi is entitled to 3 Assembly constituencies but is being given 2 while Dhubri is getting 5 constituencies instead of 6. Similarly, Morigaon is entitled to 4 seats but is being given 3 while Nagaon is being allocated 10 instead of 11 constituencies," he added.

The population of each constituency in Barpeta district, on an average, is about 2.73 lakh. Why are non-Muslim districts being allotted more constituencies? The West Karbi Anglong  district,  with  a  population  of only 2.47 lakh, has been allotted 2 seats. In Golaghat district, the average population in each constituency is only 1.89 lakh. In Lakhimpur, the average population in each segment is 1.77 lakh. Yet they have been allotted more seats. This exercise is aimed merely at fulfilling the vested interests of the BJP and the RSS. We have moved the Supreme Court

(/topic/supreme-court), challenging this exercise,” the Congress MLA said. (ANI)


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Why Former Police Chiefs, Judge Say Arrest Of 3 Muslim Teens, Demolition of Their Home By MP Govt Is Illegal

Kashif Kakvi 26 Jul 2023

BHOPAL: It was around 9 am on 19 July 2023, when Ashraf Hussain Mansoori (43), received a phone call from an officer from the local police station. “Aapkebete ne galatkaamkiyahai, ghartodnapadega (Your son has done wrong, your house will have to be demolished),” said the officer.

Half an hour later, at 9:30 am, before Ashraf Hussain could gather his wits about him, a municipal officer pasted a notice on the ground floor of the three-storey building, where he and his two older brothers grew up and where his parents lived, all told for more than half a century.

“This is to inform you that your dangerous construction has not been razed so far,” read the notice pasted to the Mansooris’ gate, addressed to Shahjan Bee, the Mansoori brothers’ mother, who died in 2009. “Thus under section 436 of the Madhya Pradesh Municipalities Act 1961, we are informing you for the last time that you must remove your dangerous building or else the administration will remove it, and you will be liable to pay for the labour charges of the demolition.”

The notice was backdated to 15 July, the phrase “awaidhnirman” or illegal construction scored out and replaced with “khatarnak bhavan” or dangerous building. That, alleged Ashraf Hussain later, was because the building was not illegal. If it was, according to the Madhya Pradesh Municipal Corporation Act, 1956, the government would have to give him 14 days notice and wait for his explanation before further action.

About an hour after the notice was pasted, a bulldozer arrived, accompanied by drummers and a music truck with loudspeakers at Chandrashekhar Azad Lane in Tanki Chowk, a narrow warren of homes and shops where both Muslims and Hindus live.

As the Mansooris and their stupefied families watched, a devotional Hindu song called “Govinda Govinda”, sung by the popular singer Kailash Kher, blared out of the truck, drummers beat their drums, a police posse watched and within two hours, their home—and the little soda and provision store that Ahsraf Hussain ran on the ground floor—was rubble.

A dozen men, women and children from three families are now homeless, most of whom have no criminal record and have not been accused of a crime.

Those accused of crimes under four sections of the Indian Penal Code, 1860, —section 295-A (deliberate and malicious acts, intended to outrage religious feelings), 153-A (offence committed in place of worship), 296 (disturbing religious assembly) and 505 (statements conducing to public mischief) — were Ashraf’s two sons, aged 18 and 16, and a 16-year-old friend.

Yet, as the police acknowledged, there was no specific criminal act evident, except an unproven allegation from a Hindu group that the three teenagers spat at a Hindu religious procession from the roof of their building on 17 July.

“Badi mehnat se pai paijodkar yeh gharbanayatha. Yeh sirfghar hi nahihamarirozi roti ka zariyabhitha (With great effort, saving every paisa, we built this home. This wasn’t just our home but where we made a living),” said Ashraf Hussain, the youngest of the Mansoori brothers.

Ashraf Hussain’s family and he were staying with relatives when we spoke to him. “Now, both (home and livelihood) have gone,” he said. “Ab kuchsamhajnahi aa rahakyakare. We don’t know what to do.”

A Demolition Without A Crime Or Due Process

The wrecking of the Mansooris’ building was the latest of more than two dozen such demolitions over the past year, according to municipal officials in Ujjain, a city of 1.99 million in a district where 12% of the population is Muslim, the fourth highest in a state ruled for the last 18 years by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). Out of seven, four legislators here are from the opposition Congress party.

Headed by chief minister Shivraj Singh Chauhan, a once-benign figure who wore Muslim skull caps during Muslim religious events, the state government has embarked on a policy of demolishing homes of alleged wrong-doers without clear evidence of crime or conviction, as in neighbouring Uttar Pradesh, also run by the BJP.

A former high court justice, two former director generals of police and a Supreme Court lawyer that Article 14 spoke to said the arrests of the teens, the drums and the demolition of the Mansooris’ homes did not follow due process and were illegal and violative of the constitution.

The excuse used by the municipal corporation, that the building was “dangerous”, was not backed by evidence, and the statements of various officials were apparently in conflict.

Govt Officials Contradict Each Other, Ignore The Law

Rajveer Singh Gurjar, the inspector of police of the Kharakua police station, under whose jurisdiction the Mansooris’ home falls, told Article 14 the building was “illegal”, even though the municipal notice does not make that allegation.

Article 14 sought comment from municipal commissioner Roshan Kumar Singh but he did not respond to calls and messages over two days. Sahil Maidawala, the corporation’s building officer, who issued the demolition notice, refused to comment and blocked our reporter’s number.

The only municipal officer who did comment was public relations officer RaisNizami. “I don’t know much about the notice and the demolition,” said Nizami. “But demolition is an ongoing process, and the corporation has razed over two dozen homes over the last year.”

Akash Bhuriya, assistant superintendent of police, who supervised the demolition of the Mansooris’ home, defended the use of drums and a music truck, telling reporters at the site that the law allowed for an announcement (munadi) using drums before the demolition of an illegal property.

“There is no such law that backs the act of using a DJ and drums during demolition,” said former Madhya Pradesh DGP Nandan Dubey. “Munadi is a warning given prior to demolition, giving reasonable time to the respondent to take necessary action.”

Article 14 sought comments over two days from Madhya Pradesh DGP Sudheer Saxena and Ujjain superintendent of police Santosh Kumar Singh, but neither replied to phone calls and messages asking why music and drums were used and what police investigations had revealed. We will update this story if they respond.

Constitutional provisions and laws appear to have been freely breached in the case of the Mansooris, similar to numerous other demolitions, largely of Muslim properties in north India, as Article 14 has reported (here and here).

‘Such Malafide Actions Have No Place In Law:’ Former Justice

Supreme Court advocate Shah Rukh Alam said that even if the building was dangerous, even if it was an encroachment, the first step in the process was to have issued a “show-cause notice”, to which the Mansooris could reply.

“To demolish somebody's dwelling, if it is without a show-cause notice, or without having heard the other party is in violation of Article 14 and, I suspect, of their (the municipal corporation’s) own procedural rules too,” said Alam.

Article 14 of the Constitution reads: “The State shall not deny to any person equality before the law or the equal protection of the laws within the territory of India.”

Former Madras High Court Justice K Chandru criticised the police and municipal actions. “Such malafide actions have no place in law,” said Justice Chandru, who called the drums “decadent actions”.

“They should have passed an order and then be subject to appeal before forums (sic) provided, and only when the order has become final [can there be a demolition],” said Justice Chandru. “The action of the Ujjain municipal council should be strongly condemned.”

‘Everything Happened Under Political Pressure:’ Senior Officer

“The FIR (first information report) has been registered based on eyewitness accounts (that the boys spat at the procession),” said Gujrar, the local police inspector, when asked why the teenagers were arrested. “Whether they were actually doing it or not is a matter of investigation and for the courts to decide.”

Ashraf Hussain said the police had asked people in the area to shut shops around 1 pm on 17 July because a mahakal procession, headed for the local Mahakaleshwar temple, a key Hindu pilgrimage centre, was due. 

“We closed the shop and confined ourselves to home and instructed the children to go out to avoid any conflict or provocation,” said Ashraf Hussain. “It was then that the children and one of their friends went to the roof to watch the procession after it entered our lane, with loud DJ music and drums.”

Sawal Lot, a 28-year-old devotee from the city of Indore, 55-km south to Ujjain, in an FIR filed with the police, said he had come on pilgrimage with two of his friends, Yogesh Bagmar and Ajay Khatri. Lot accused Ashraf Hussain’s son Adnan, who turned 18 in May, his younger 16-year-old and their 16-year-old friend, of spitting water on the religious procession from the roof.

“This incident has offended my religious sentiments and those of the entire community,” Lot said in the FIR. He added that his friend recorded a video.

Many in the procession began abusing Ashraf Hussain’s family and Muslims in general. Police quickly moved the procession out of the narrow lane. Later, Hindu fundamentalist groups gathered outside the local Kharakua police station and demanded action.

Lot submitted two videos as evidence (here and here). In these videos, the three teenagers are on the terrace, watching the procession. One is holding a water bottle.

A senior police officer who is part of the investigation team, told Article 14 on condition of anonymity that they found two of the teenagers were chewing gum and spitting water on the wall, which was not apparently done intentionally.

“One youth was just standing with a water bottle,” said the officer. “His family also said the other two had recently gotten into the habit of chewing gum. Their spit did not fall on the procession, as the first and second floor of the building had two green nets. The chances of water reaching the rally were slim.”

“Everything happened under political pressure,” said the officer.

‘Those Who Insult Lord Shiva Must Prepare For Shiv Tandav’

On 19 July, Ashish Agarwal, a spokesperson for the BJP, issued a statement that confirmed how the government intended to proceed with the case.

“Those who insult Lord Shiva will have to be prepared for a Shiv tandav (dance of death) as well,” said Agarwal in the statement. “This is Shivraj Chouhan’s government where there is not only action taken against the accused but the action is so strict that it breaks their willpower. Those who try to spread animosity in society will not be spared, they will be crushed.”

Another former DGP, M W Ansari, said police usually file an FIR or a court delivers a verdict after looking at the evidence and intent, both of which were in doubt.

“The videos did not establish the fact that they (the boys) were spitting on the procession,” said Ansari. “It looks more habitual (sic) than intentional. The homes of the teenagers accused should not be demolished for being so childish.”

After the arrest on 17 July, Adnan Mansoori, a fifth-class dropout who quit studies to help his struggling family, was remanded to 14 days in judicial custody by a local magistrate and sent to the Bhairavgarh central jail in Ujjain. The two minors were sent to juvenile homes.

“Without solid evidence, the police lodged an FIR on the basis of two videos, which did not prove anything except that three children were standing on the roof with a water bottle in hand,” Ujjain’s chief cleric or shahar-e-qaziKhaliqur Rahman, told a press conference on 21 July. “And the administration demolished their home within 24 hours, accompanied by a celebration. This is unjust, unconstitutional.”

“The administration and police have replaced the courts in delivering justice without investigation and [anyone] proven guilty,” said Rahman. “They are lying blatantly. The police say the building was demolished because it was an illegal construction, while the notice says it was because it was a dangerous building and with no prior notice.”

Former Madras High Court Justice Chandru concurred with Rahman’s view that the demolition was meant to send a message to Muslims.

Justice Chandru said the action “smacks of vindictiveness and authoritarian tendencies” and was “a blatant warning to minorities to live under the thumb of the majority”. He said the municipal corporation could not “become a prosecutor and a judge”.

In contrast, when they reported hate speeches against Muslims to the police, they “stalled complaints”, often threatened complainants and did not file FIRs, alleged Rahman. “It has happened dozens of times,” he said.

In 2021, after a doctored propaganda video, police arrested over two dozen Muslims in Ujjain and, accusing them of sedition and invoked the National Security Act, 1980, against them, for allegedly shouting “Pakistan zindabad” during a Muharram procession.

“The whole community was defamed and the media hounded the community. Even kids were not spared,” said Rahman. “But the case fell flat in court.” The court revoked both sections in two hearings, after police failed to authenticate the video. 

In the current case, said Alam, the Supreme Court advocate, to arrest the teenagers “at this stage, without any kind of preliminary inquiry” is in violation of the Supreme Court directions in Arnesh Kumar vs Union of India, “which say that reckless arrests should not be made in cases pertaining to alleged offences which have a sentence of less than 7 years”.

Incidentally, these are exactly the guidelines the police rely on, in hate-speech cases, where they are reluctant to arrest perpetrators,” said Alam. “These arrests also point to the executive's arbitrariness of conduct.”

Alam said the point of the music and drums during the demolition was “obviously a show of political strength”. She said, “They are saying that we can do to you at any point of time whatever we like. But that is a political statement, and is absolutely not legal.”

Supreme Court Orders Violated

Used as collective punishment and political capital—state elections in Madhya Pradesh are due in November this year, India’s general elections in 2024—the recent spate of demolitions in north India are unlawful, lawyers Ratna Singh and Areeb Uddin Ahmed wrote in Article 14 in April 2022. These demolitions deny citizens a host of rights, including the fundamental right to be heard. In most cases no notice is served or served as formality, as in Ujjain.

Audi alteram partem comes from Latin and means “Listen to the other side” or “let the other side be heard as well”, wrote Singh and Ahmed. “It is a fundamental legal principle in which each party is entitled to a fair hearing and given the opportunity to respond to evidence against them.”

Arbitrary demolitions not only reverse the burden of proof against the alleged offenders, but also prevent those accused from defending themselves.

The wave of demolitions disregards landmark Supreme Court judgements in 1985 and 2017, which ruled that evictions and demolitions must: follow clear rules and procedures; include “meaningful” consultation; be “fair, just and reasonable”; and be “consistent with rights of life and dignity”.

None of these directions have been in evidence in the use of bulldozers against alleged and—as we noted—primarily Muslim rioters, with demolitions violating municipal and other laws and, in the case of MP and UP, even special laws promulgated to hasten action against rioters and protestors, as we reported in October 2022,

The first demolition took place in Ujjain under the BJP government on 26 December 2020, a day after clashes between Hindus and Muslims during a donation drive for the construction of the Ram temple in Ayodhya, Uttar Pradesh. These clashes began after provocative slogans outside a mosque. In 2021 and 2023, the homes of Muslim shopkeepers were razed for selling banned manja or glass-laced kite string from China.

The main opposition party, the Congress, has said little about the Ujjain demolition. When contacted, spokesperson K K Mishra said, “The BJP has realised they are losing the government and [are] suppressing Muslims to consolidate their vote bank… voters will teach them a lesson in the next four months.”

Back in Tanki Chowk, Ashraf Hussain said he and his family were struggling to cope with what had happened. They were not currently focussed on the illegality of the demolition.

“Our first priority is to get those innocent children out of jail,” he said. “Then we will think of going to court about the demolition.”


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Assam CM Himanta call to end love jihad: Don't marry outside your faith

Jul 28, 2023

GUWAHATI: Assam CM HimantaBiswa Sarma cautioned youths Thursday not to "cross the laxmanrekha" by marrying outside their faiths as he issued a call to stop so-called "love jihad" three days after a Hindu woman and her parents were murdered, allegedly by her Muslim husband, in Golaghat district.

"Love and jihad do not gel," the BJP CM said, adding that when one of the partners in an inter-religion love marriage is forced to convert, trouble begins and it takes a "love jihad" turn.

Opposition Congress denounced the call and urged the CM "not to make inter-community marriages an issue in the modern age". Sarma shot back by warning state Congress chief Bhupen Bora that he could be arrested over such comments for "hurting religious sentiments". If a Muslim boy or girl marries within his or her own religion and likewise for Hindus, there will be peace in the country, the CM argued. He pointed out the Special Marriage Act addresses inter-religion marriages but stressed "conversion is not a requirement".


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Probe agency NIA arrests man from Pune in Islamic State module case

Jul 27, 2023

Divyesh Singh

By Divyesh Singh: The National Investigation Agency (NIA) on Thursday arrested one person from Pune, marking the fifth arrest in the Maharashtra Islamic State module case.

Dr Adnanali Sarkar (43) was arrested for promoting violent activities propagated by the proscribed terrorist outfit, following NIA raids in Pune’s Kondhwa area.

The NIA also seized several incriminating materials, including electronic gadgets and IS-related documents, during searches at the residence of the accused.

Officials said the confiscated material confirmed Sarkar’s allegiance with IS and his role in motivating and recruiting vulnerable youth in order to promote the outfit’s violent agenda.

Officials further said that the accused had hatched a conspiracy to further ISIS terrorist activities under its different names, including the Islamic State (IS), Islamic State of Iraq and Levant (ISIL), Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), Daish, Islamic State in Khorasan Province (ISKP), ISIS Wilayat Khorasan, and Islamic State of Iraq and the Sham Khorasan (ISIS-K).

Sarkar aimed to disturb the unity, integrity, security and sovereignty of the country, and to wage a war against the government of India through the organisation’s ‘Maharashtra ISIS module’, the NIA officials said.

Sarkar’s arrest marks the fifth arrest in the case, which the NIA had registered on June 28, 2023. Four others were arrested on July 3, 2023, after extensive searches in Mumbai, Thane and Pune.

The arrested were identified as Tabish Nasser Siddiqui from Mumbai, Zubair Noor Mohammed Shaikh aka Abu Nusaiba from Pune, along with Sharjeel Shaikh and Zulfikar Ali Barodawala from Thane.

Officials said a further probe in the Maharashtra ISIS module case is underway.


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Gyanvapi case: Allahabad HC reserves order for August 3, stays ASI survey till then

Jul 27, 2023

The Allahabad High Court on Thursday (July 27) stayed the Archaeological Survey of India's (ASI) survey of the Gyanvapi Mosque premises till August 3. A report by Live Law said that on August 3, the high court would pronounce its order on the Anjuman Intezamia Masjid Committee's challenge to the Varanasi district judge's July 21 order for ASI survey of the mosque.

The bench of Chief Justice PritinkerDiwaker passed this order after hearing both parties. On Wednesday, the Anjum committee argued before the high court that the ASI was never a part of the suit. Despite this, the Varanasi district judge directed the ASI to survey mosque premises.

The committed also contended that once the scientific survey was done, the mosque premises would be destroyed, the Live Law report added.

Anjum committee's lawyer reiterates apprehension over structure being damaged

During Thursday's hearing, the senior counsel appearing for the Anjum committee reiterated his apprehension that the mosque premises could be damaged during survey. He apprised the Allahabad High Court bench of the presence of ASI officials at the disputed site with spades. The lawyer highlighted that no issues were framed in the court and yet a survey was ordered in the case.

The lawyer further argued the court could be used to collect evidence on behalf of a litigant who has no evidence, and since the plaintiffs admitted they had no evidence and now they were seeking evidence through the court by seeking direction from a third party.

Responding to the lawyer's concerns, Chief Justice Pritinker asked if the spades available at the spot were used. The lawyer then said they were not used as a stay order of the court was in operation. Pritinker added the apprehension of the Anjuman Committee could not come in the way of the plaintiffs. However, the bench asked the Uttar Pradesh government to take note of the apprehensions (of the committee).

At the centre of this whole case is the contention by a group of Hindu petitioners that there is 'Shivling' in the mosque complex that it wants to worship. The Muslim representatives, however, argued that it was a fountain.

During Thursday's hearing, the chief justice also expressed concerns about the delay in the disposal of the suit file by four Hindu worshippers last year seeking year-round worshipping rights inside the mosque.


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UK Calls For Respect To Status Quo Al-Aqsa Mosque

JERUSALEM, Friday, July 28, 2023 (WAFA) – The United Kingdom said yesterday it was concerned by the provocative visit by Israeli ministers to the Al-Aqsa Mosque in occupied Jerusalem, affirming its support for the historic status quo at the holy site.

“We are also concerned by the provocative visit and inflammatory language used by Israeli ministers at the Haram al-Sharif,” the British Consulate in Jerusalem said in a tweet.

“We reaffirm our support for the historic status quo and Jordan’s role as custodians.”


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Imam suggests mobile masjid as solution to Apostolos Andreas controversy

July 27, 2023

Shakir Alemdar, the Imam of the Hala Sultan Tekke in Larnaca, has suggested the purchase of a “mobile masjid” as a compromise to the ongoing controversy surrounding the Apostolos Andreas monastery.

Ongoing rumours suggest that rooms on the site are set to be converted to a masjid, a Muslim place of worship, provoking disquiet among both Turkish Cypriots and Greek Cypriots.

As a compromise move, Alemdar suggested a “mobile masjid”, which is in effect a caravan used for worship.

He said “this idea is very useful if there is a great need for a masjid temporarily in any place. As far as I know, mobile masjids were used in the same way in the Olympics in Japan. They are still used in Turkey. It’s a nice initiative”.


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The value of the rial is a symbol of the state of the mullah’s rule

July 27, 2023

In 1929, one gram of pure gold was valued at three Iranian rials.

Ninety two years later, the value of rial had declined by 6 million times and reached 18 million rials to one gram of gold in February 2022. In comparison to the U.S. dollar, it has declined as much as 16,000 times.

These figures were reported by the Majlis Research Center this July.

How the rial become one of the most worthless currencies in the world?

Today, in the uproar of economic and political crises of the regime, the regrets of the past years have turned into the regrets of the past days, and every day, the situation grows worse for the people of Iran.

Mehdi Pazuki, an economic expert, has recounted the devaluation of the rial in economic terms, and how it turned from a high value to one of the least valuable currencies in the world.

In a July 22 report by Islahat News, Pazuki referred to the sharp decline in the value of Iran’s national currency and its recognition as the weakest currency in the world and said, “Our per capita income has decreased drastically. When the production capacity of a society decreases, the purchasing power of the people decreases drastically”.

Pazuki added that “the main cause is the lack of a system of measures” that does not want to accept the FATF and do business with the world in a reasonable way. He says that the production rate has been zero percent in the past decade. When there is no stability and security in the economy and extremist groups do not realize that without economic investment the country will become weaker and the welfare of the society will decrease, it will lead to the situation that we are witnessing today.

Understatement of money devaluation

In the face of this international scandal, and when it comes to reckoning, regime officials act as if they know nothing of it. Last year, when the ranking of the currencies of the world countries was published and caused the disgrace of the regime in Tehran, they started making ridiculous justifications, such as a report by the official IRNA news agency in February, which stated, “Recently, there was a news in the cyberspace in which the Iranian rial was introduced as the least valuable currency in the world. This type of classification of national currencies is considered the most worthless type of classification”.

In justification of devaluation of national currency, IRNA says, “Countries have due to the increasing inflation and the sharp decrease in the value of their national currency, removed zero from their currencies.”

Iranian rial became the weakest currency in the world!

In a recent report, Forbes magazine classified the Iranian rial as “the weakest currency in the world” despite being “a leading global exporter of oil and natural gas.” Forbes reported that 1 rial is buying “just 0.000024 US dollars (or, put another way, $1 equals 42,273 Iranian rials).” The reality is much worse, with the US dollar trading at around 500,000 rials.

According to Forbes, the currencies of Vietnam, Laos, Sierra Leone, and Indonesia are the second to fifth weakest currencies.

Depreciation of Rial due to structural problems

The devaluation of the national currency is due to structural and policy-making reasons and also the reactionary and predatory nature of the regime of Iran, which usurps the sovereignty of the Iranian people and has no solution for its many crises. After all, how is it possible that they have all these rich resources, but the value of the national currency falls in such a short period of time? According to data from the Bonbast, a website that tracks the value of the rial, Iran’s currency rial lost 51.6 percent of its value against the dollar in the open market in just one year.

In July 2023, EghtesadPouya news website quoted Ehsan Soltani, an economic researcher, as saying, “The downfall of the national currency, from 2018 to 2022, equaled to twice as much as the 53 years of the Pahlavi reign, nearly twice of a century of the Qajar dynasty, or nearly three times as much as the eight-year war. Currency price shocks have become the main pillar of Iran’s corrupt and ineffective economic governance.”

In other words, the ruling mullahs are constantly breaking their own records and those of their tyrannical predecessors in destroying the country’s economy

The value of the national currency of any country is an indicator of the growth, progress and well-being of its people, and of course a clear sign of the capability, legitimacy and efficiency of that country’s ruling system. The devaluation of the national currency of Iran is a clear manifestation of the unstable and shaky state of a regime that, after four decades of looting, brutality and massacre, is teetering on the edge of collapse.


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British Islamic State fighter found dead in Spanish prison

By Graham Keeley

27 July 2023

A London-raised jihadist who posted pictures of himself with a severed head in Syria has been found dead in his prison cell in Spain where he was facing charges of belonging to the Islamic State.

Abdel-Majed Abdel Bary, 32, was arrested in Almería, southern Spain, in April 2020 along with two other alleged IS members.

On Wednesday his body was discovered in his cell in the prison in El Puerto de Santa María in Cadiz, where he was awaiting the verdict from his trial. One unconfirmed report said there were no signs he had experienced violence.

Bary had been tried with two Algerian men of belonging to a terror organisation. He was warned by the presiding judge that he could face nine years in prison if was convicted.

A prison services investigation has been opened into the circumstances of his death.

An aspiring rapper brought up in Maida Vale in north London, Bary had joint British-Egyptian citizenship until he travelled to Syria in 2013.

He had his British citizenship stripped by the Government after he posted selfies on social media of himself holding a severed head in Raqqa, the IS caliphate’s capital at the time.

The 32-year-old was last seen in Turkey in 2015 and then disappeared until he was arrested in Spain in 2020, a week after he and his two Algerian companions entered Europe posing as economic migrants in a boat from the coast of the North African country.

Bary, AbderrazakSeddiki and KossailaChollouah were tracked down in a rented apartment by Spanish police and the CNI secret service agency.

According to evidence found in the apartment and on their mobile phones, the three men had formed a cell in Turkey sometime in or shortly after 2015.

The investigation revealed that he had financed the cell’s move to Europe by committing mass bank card fraud, renting several properties on arrival in Spain.

Among the photographs stored on his phone, Bary had three entry visas for Sudan under Syrian names. When he was arrested, he claimed to be a Syrian national called Ahmed Mohamed Al Oulabi.

Bary’s father is Egyptian Islamic extremist Adel Abdul Bary, who was extradited to the US and jailed for his role in the 1998 terror attacks on the US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania that claimed 123 lives.


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Swedish PM brands burning of Quran ‘destructive’

28 Jul, 2023

The burning of the Quran by anti-Islam activists is a destructive act that harms Sweden’s national security, Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson said on Thursday.

Writing on Facebook, Kristersson urged the public to understand that the situation is “very serious.”

“The most recent destructive events – in particular, different demonstrative burning incidents – have increased risks for Sweden,” he wrote.

The prime minister said that according to an assessment by the Swedish police, “we have gone from being what is called a legitimate target for terrorist attack to a priority target.”

Sweden is also in danger of becoming “a pawn in the games played by outside powers,” he warned.

On Wednesday, the head of communication at Sweden's Psychological Defense Agency, Mikael Ostlund, accused Russia of using the Quran-burning incidents in its “disinformation campaign… to split us in the West and also to create an increased anxiety and polarization here in Sweden.” He claimed Moscow’s goal was “to make it more difficult for Sweden to join NATO.”

In recent weeks, demonstrators have staged two Quran-destroying acts outside the Iraqi embassy in Stockholm, with prior permission from the police.

In June, Iraqis who were outraged by the desecration of Islam’s holy book, overran the Swedish embassy in Baghdad, setting it on fire. Shortly afterwards, the Iraqi authorities expelled the Swedish ambassador, while recalling their envoy from Stockholm.

The burning incidents have caused anger elsewhere in the Muslim world, with Türkiye, Egypt, Algeria, Morocco, the UAE and Jordan among the countries to condemn Sweden.

In a separate interview with TT news agency on Thursday, Kristersson said Swedish police received several more permit applications for the burning of religious texts next week, but did not mention the Quran specifically.

Earlier this month, a Muslim demonstrator received approval for setting the Torah and the Bible on fire outside the Israeli embassy in Stockholm. However, the activist abandoned his plans at the last moment, instead staging a protest against the desecration of holy books of any faith.

“It’s the police that make those decisions [on giving out permits], not me… If they are granted, we face a number of days with the obvious risk of serious things happening,” Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson pointed out, adding that he was “extremely concerned.”


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Russia wants to ditch dollar in trade with African countries

28 Jul, 2023

Alternative payment mechanisms in mutual trade will be addressed at the ongoing Russia-Africa summit, one of Russia’s top bankers said on Thursday.

Speaking to journalists on the sidelines of the event in St. Petersburg, Andrey Kostin, the CEO of Russia’s second-largest bank VTB, said that the US dollar had been weaponized, which is why nations will gradually move away from using it in trade.

“Structural changes are bound to happen. African countries are also acting on this. They have already started to create their own systems of information exchange and settlements in national currencies. This is a promising trend,” Kostin said.

“A share of trade settlements in alternative currencies will continue to increase,” he concluded.

Russia and its trade partners among the developing nations, such as fellow BRICS members Brazil, China, India, and South Africa, have started to switch to alternative currencies in mutual trade after sanctions effectively cut Moscow off from the Western financial system. A growing number of nations have expressed their support of the trend.

President Putin revealed earlier this month that over 80% of transactions between Moscow and its largest trading partner, Beijing, are settled in rubles and yuan.

Russia announced plans earlier this month to launch negotiations on the switch to national currencies with countries in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), namely Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam.


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Deadly Bomb Attack Targets Shia Muslim Shrine in Damascus Killing At Least Six, Wounding Dozens Day Before the Solemn Holy Day of Ashoura

28 July 2023

A motorcycle planted with explosives has detonated in a Damascus suburb near a Shia Muslim shrine, killing at least six people and wounding dozens a day before the solemn holy day of Ashoura, state media reported, citing the regime's interior ministry.

Syrian Regime Health Minister Hassan al Ghabash said in a statement that 26 people wounded in the blast in the Sayida Zeinab neighborhood were being treated at several hospitals. Twenty others were treated on-site or discharged, he said.

Regime authorities had initially said the bomb was hidden in a taxi, but later reported that the explosives were on a motorcycle that exploded next to the cab.

The Britain-based opposition war monitor Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said that a woman was among those who died and that her three children were wounded.

The Observatory said the explosion occurred close to positions of Iranian militias, a key ally of Syrian Regime leader Bashar Assad alongside Russia in Syria's civil conflict now in its 13th year.

Photos shared by Al Ikhbariya and pro-government media show a charred taxi surrounded by large crowds of people and men in military fatigues.

Green, red and black Ashoura flags and banners hung from buildings in the area.


In a video shared on social media, people carried two men covered in blood and dust off the ground while calling for help.

The glass facades of shops nearby had shattered, while one was on fire.

The neighbourhood is named after the shrine for Sayida Zeinab, the granddaughter of the Prophet Muhammad.

Protecting the shrine became a rallying cry for Shia fighters backing Assad in the early years of the conflict as it turned from an anti-government uprising into a sectarian civil war.

Ashoura is the 10th day of the Islamic month of Muharram, which is one of the holiest months for Shia Muslims.

It marks the death of the Prophet Muhammad’s grandson, Imam Hussein, and his 72 companions in Karbala in the 7th century in present-day Iraq. Ashoura marks the peak of the mourning procession.

The explosion was the second in the Sayida Zeinab neighborhood in the days leading to Ashoura.

On Tuesday, Syrian state media citing a police official said that two civilians were wounded when a motorcycle laced with explosives was detonated.


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Syria: 6 killed in Damascus suburb bombing near Shiite Muslim shrine

July 28, 2023

Explosives planted in a taxi detonated in a Damascus suburb near a Shiite Muslim shrine Thursday, killing at least six people and wounding dozens a day before the solemn holy Day of Ashura, state media reported, citing the interior ministry.

State-run Al-Ikhbariya TV and the state news agency said Syrian Health Minister Hassan al-Ghabash also reported that 26 people wounded in the blast in the Sayida Zeinab neighbourhood were being treated at several hospitals. Twenty others were treated on-site or discharged, he said.

The Britain-based opposition war monitor Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said that a woman was among those who died and that her three children were wounded.

The Observatory said the explosion occurred close to positions of Iranian militias, a key ally of Syrian President Bashar Assad alongside Russia in Syria's civil conflict now in its 13th year.

Photos shared by Al-Ikhbariya and pro-government media show a charred taxi surrounded by large crowds of people and men in military fatigues. Green, red and black Ashura flags and banners hung from buildings in the area.

In a video shared on social media, people carried two men covered in blood and dust off the ground while calling for help. The glass facades of shops nearby had shattered, while one was on fire.

The neighbourhood is named after the shrine for Sayida Zeinab, the granddaughter of the Prophet Muhammad. Protecting the shrine became a rallying cry for Shiite fighters backing Assad in the early years of the conflict as it turned from an anti-government uprising into a sectarian civil war.

Ashura is the 10th day of the Islamic month of Muharram, which is one of the holiest months for Shiite Muslims. It marks the martyrdom of the Prophet Muhammad's grandson, Imam Hussein, and his 72 companions in the battle of Karbala in the 7th century in present-day Iraq. Ashura marks the peak of the mourning procession.

The explosion was the second in the Sayida Zeinab neighbourhood in the days leading to Ashura. On Tuesday, Syrian state media citing a police official said that two civilians were wounded when a motorcycle laced with explosives was detonated.


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Hagia Sophia Mosque in Türkiye's Trabzon attracts int'l visitors

JUL 27, 2023

Nestled amid lushing greenery, the historical and touristic spots of Türkiye's northern Trabzon province, including the centuries-old Hagia Sophia Mosque, hold a captivating allure for tourists, remaining a popular destination, particularly for Arabs and Georgians.

Renowned for its splendid Byzantine architecture, the medieval Hagia Sophia Mosque had served as a museum for 52 years before it was once again reopened for worship in 2013.

After nearly three years of meticulous restoration and landscaping work, the Hagia Sophia Mosque sharing the name with the landmark Grand Haghia Sophia Mosque in Istanbul, was reopened in a video ceremony officiated by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on July 28, 2020.

According to the Ihlas News Agency (IHA) reports, the historic structure in Trabzon's Fatihneighborhood has been receiving a steady stream of domestic and international visitors ever since.

Visitors from neighboring Georgia, in particular, have been increasingly making their way to Trabzon to marvel at the architectural splendor of the mosque.

One such traveler, TarvanGurbanova from Georgia, expressed delight and said, "We came from Tbilisi, Georgia. We were curious about Hagia Sophia; we came for the first time and liked it very much; it is extremely beautiful. Our friends who had visited before spoke highly of it, and we liked it too."

"We came from Tbilisi with a group of 13 people. Trabzon is very beautiful, Hagia Sophia is very beautiful, we liked it very much, Türkiye is already magnificent. We even visited Uzungöl and we're already planning to return," Gurbanova added.

Emir Osman, another visitor from Bursa, was impressed by the historical significance of the mosque, remarking, "I came from Bursa, and it was my first time here. The experience was truly awe-inspiring, given its rich historical past as both a church and a mosque. This place deserves to be visited. I encountered more Arab tourists around me."


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Iranians Attend Processions in Millions to Mark Tasua of Imam Hossein (AS)


TEHRAN (FNA)- Millions of Iranians across the country are partaking in nationwide processions on Tasua, the 9th day of Muharram on the lunar calendar and one day before Imam Hossein (AS), the third Shia Imam, was martyred in the desert of Karbala in Iraq.

Millions of Iranians across the country held mourning ceremonies nationwide on Thursday to mark Tasua, ahead of the day in history that witnessed the martyrdom of Shia Islam’s third Imam.

Dunning black attire to show their sorrow, Iranians from all walks of life joined processions that started from the early morning and would last until about midnight. During the ceremonies, eulogists recite the events of the Battle of Karbala and Islamic scholars elaborate on the underlying messages of Imam Hossein's stance against tyranny.

Shia Muslims hold mourning ceremonies during the first 10 days of Muharram to remember Imam Hossein (AS) and his 72 companions, who were all martyred after fighting thousands of soldiers of the ruling tyrant of the time, caliph Yazid I in Iraq's Karbala desert in 680 AD.

Tasoua and Ashoura mark the climax of the Remembrance of Muharram, marking the death of Prophet Mohammad (PBUH)'s grandson, the revered Imam Hossein (PBUH) in the Battle of Karbala, in modern-day Iraq 1,300 years ago.

Ashoura is perhaps nowhere more ardently commemorated than in Iran. The only way to fully understand what this day means to so many Iranians is to delve into a history that has repeated itself there for years on end. From the Constitutional Revolution of the early 20th Century to the 1979 Islamic Revolution, the history of Ashura is reflected in every struggle against injustice in Iran. Whether opposing monarchy, imperialism or crippling sanctions, the history of this day holds a unique position in the hearts of countless Iranians.

Growing up in Iran, no matter your faith or circumstance, you will learn the story of Karbala, if only because every year you will get a holiday from school on Tasoua (the ninth day of Moharram) and Ashoura and witness countless men fill the streets in a parade of tears and self-flagellation. You will watch or possibly join in as these devout and distinctly Iranian Shiite Muslims pound their chests and fill the air with impassioned invocations and chants of "Ya Hossein." Amid this mourning, there will be a unique and fervent enthusiasm, for it was on this day, some 1,300 years ago, that Imam Hossein (PBUH) stood tall and strong in the face of oppression, against insurmountable odds.

You cannot understand the role of Islam in Iran without knowing the story of Karbala, nor can you underestimate its influence.

On the 10th of the month of Muharram, in the 61st year of the Islamic Calendar (680 ACE), in a barren land (which is now the city) of Karbala, some 100 kilometers Southwest of Baghdad, Imam Hossein (PBUH) - the grandson of the Prophet Mohammad (PBUH) and the third Imam of Shiite Islam - was savagely slaughtered in battle and rose to martyrdom.

The Battle of Karbala was the result of Imam Hossein (PBUH)'s attempt to liberate the people of the region from the tyrannical rule of the second caliph of the Ummayad Caliphate, Yazid I. Over the days preceding his martyrdom, Imam Hossein (PBUH) and his small caravan of friends and family (between 72 and 124 men) were surrounded by Yazid's army of thousands (over 30,000 armed men). They were ultimately forbidden access to water for three days, and on the tenth day (Ashoura), Yazid's army attacked in full force, killing all 72 of Imam Hossein (PBUH)'s closest companions, including his six-month old son. The final and most brutal casualty of Karbala was Imam Hossein (PBUH) himself, who sustained countless unimaginable wounds from arrows, stones and swords before his throat was cut while he was prostrating before the Lord in prayer. Thus, on that day, Imam Hossein (PBUH) rose as a martyr and has remained so for over a thousand years.

So, what does this story have to do with modern-day Iran and Iranians? Everything.

For the vast majority of Iranians who identify as Shiite and even for many who don't, the story of Karbala lies at the heart of all struggles against oppression and tyranny - personal and political.

In 1979, Yazid's army was that of the Shah, the SAVAK (his vicious secret police and intelligence service), and the British and American imperialism they represented to Iranians. The Islamic Revolution was, if nothing else, a grand morality play of the Battle of Karbala on a world stage, with Imam Khomeini and his cronies claiming the roles of Imam Hossein (PBUH) and his caravan respectively.

Who plays the role of Imam Hossein (PBUH)'s crew in Iran today?

Without a doubt, it is the Iranian people themselves under the Supreme Leader of the Islamic Revolution, Ayatollah Seyed Ali Khamenei; he is not Imam Hossein (PBUH) but a fervent and true assistant, aide and helper of Imam Hossein (PBUH) as he, the Leader of the world Muslims who is from the Prophet's offspring, is moving on the same path and Iranians, inspired by and holding deep belief in the story of Karbala, insist that they are all his companions to the end.


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Kuwait hangs five, including mosque bombing convict

KUWAIT: Kuwait put to death five people on Thursday, including a man convicted of involvement in a 2015 Islamic State group suicide bombing that killed 26 people, the public prosecution said. The multiple executions in the state are the first since seven people were put to death in November last year, ending a five-year moratorium. In a statement, the public prosecution said it oversaw the “implementation of the death sentence in Kuwait’s Central Prison” against five people, most of them convicted of murder.

They included Abdulrahman Sabah Saud — the main convict in the 2015 bombing that struck a Shiite mosque in the capital during Friday prayers. It was the bloodiest attack in Kuwait’s history. Saud, a bedoon, was convicted of driving the bomber to the mosque and bringing the explosives belt he used from near the Saudi border. At his initial trial, Saud pleaded guilty to most charges but, in the appeals and supreme courts, he denied them all.

The other men executed on Thursday included a Kuwaiti, an Egyptian and a bedoon, all of whom had been convicted of murder. A Sri Lankan was put to death on drug charges. The public prosecution said all five were executed by hanging. Kuwait had initially charged 29 defendants, including seven women, with helping the Saudi mosque bomber.

In 2016, it upheld jail terms of between two and 15 years for eight people, including four women, and acquitted more than a dozen others. Those convicted include alleged IS leader in Kuwait, Fahad FarrajMuhareb, whose death sentence was commuted to 15 years in prison. Although Kuwait has executed dozens of people since it introduced the death penalty in the mid-1960s, the punishment is relatively rare.

Most of those condemned have been convicted of murder or drug trafficking. In April 2013, Kuwaiti authorities hanged three men convicted of murder. Two months later, two Egyptians, convicted of kidnap and murder, were executed. In 2017, the state carried out a mass execution of seven prisoners, including a ruling family member.


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Shia Muslims visit Karbala for Muharram ceremonies

TEHRAN, Jul. 27 (MNA) – Muharram mourning ceremonies are held in the holy shrine of Imam Hussein (PBUH) in Karbala City of Iraq.

Millions of Shia Muslims from around the world hold mourning ceremonies during the first 10 days of Muharram to remember Imam Hussein (AS).

The third Shia Imam and the grandson of Prophet Mohammad (PBUH), and his 72 companions, were all martyred after fighting thousands of troops of the ruling tyrant of the time, caliph Yazid I, in Iraq's Karbala desert in 680 AD.

During the ceremonies, eulogists recite the events of the Battle of Karbala and Islamic scholars elaborate on the underlying messages of Imam Hussein's stance against tyranny.


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Emirates Islamic’s net profit rises to AED 1.2 billion for first half of 2023

Thu 27-07-2023

DUBAI, 27th July, 2023 (WAM) -- Emirates Islamic delivered its highest ever half-year net profit, with an exceptional jump of 73 percent to AED 1.2 billion during the first half of 2023. This record profit was driven by higher funded and non-funded income reflecting improved business sentiment.

Key Highlights – First Half 2023

- Strong operating performance on higher funded income and higher non-funded income

- Total income up 71 percent y-o-y driven by higher funded and non-funded income

- Expenses increased 63 percent y-o-y as the bank invests for future growth

- Impairment Allowances benefit from strong recoveries, delivering a healthy 60 basis point cost of risk

- Operating profit improved 77 percent y-o-y

- Net profit sharply increased to AED 1.212 billion on the back of higher funded income and higher non-funded income

- Net profit margin at 4.74 percent following stable profit rates in the first half of 2023

Strong capital and liquidity combined with a healthy deposit mix enabling the Bank to provide improved products to customers

- Total assets at AED 79 billion, increased 6 percent from end 2022

- Customer financing at AED 51 billion, increased 5 percent from end 2022

- Customer deposits at AED 58 billion, increased 3 percent from end 2022 with Current and Saving Account balances at 77 percent of deposits

- Credit Quality: Non-performing financing ratio at 7.2% with Coverage ratio strong at 120 percent

- Capital: Common Equity Tier 1 ratio at 19.0% and Capital adequacy ratio at 20.1 percent reflect the strong capital position of the Bank

- Headline Financing to Deposit ratio at 88% remained within the management’s target range

Hesham Abdulla Al Qassim, Chairman said: “Emirates Islamic delivered a record set of financial results, with a net profit of AED 1.2 billion for the first six months of 2023. Total income was up 71 percent driven by higher funded and non-funded income, leading to operating profit growing strongly by 77 percent over the comparable period in 2022.

Emirates Islamic has always played an integral part in the UAE’s development and we are committed to contributing substantially to the economy’s growth by providing innovative Shariah-compliant banking solutions to our customers.

Demonstrating Emirates Islamic’s commitment to deepening the liquidity of the local currency sukuk market, Emirates Islamic issued the first dirham sukuk from a UAEbank, with a hugely successful AED 1 billion dirham-denominated sukuk. The sukuk issue sets an important precedent, expanding financing options for UAE corporations with Shariah-compliant needs while enhancing the development of the medium-term dirham yield curve.

In recognition of Emirates Islamic’s strong performance and market-leading product offering, we are honoured to be awarded the ‘Most Innovative Sukuk’ award at The Banker Islamic Banking Awards for our AED 1 billion dirham-denominated sukuk and ‘Best Islamic Real Estate Deal’ at the prestigious Euromoney Islamic Finance Awards 2023 for facilitating a real estate financing deal for a leading Dubai-based conglomerate.,'' he added.


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Tehran Demands Its Share of Water Determined by Helmand Treaty

Iran's energy minister, Ali Akbar Mehrabian, said that his country will not compromise in gaining Iran's water rights from the Helmand River.

Mehrabian told Iranian media that words alone are not enough for the recognition of this country's water rights by the authorities of the current government of Afghanistan, and they should provide Iran's water rights.

“We will not be short in gaining Iran's water rights from the Helmand River. As the Afghan side recognizes the water rights by words, we will be only convinced when this water is released in the amount mentioned in the treaty,” said Ali Akbar Mehrabian.

The Ministry of Energy and Water said in reaction that as a result of drought, the water level in the country's rivers has decreased, and if the water level rises, they will pay Iran's water rights according to the 1351 treaty.

"In Helmand and Nimroz provinces there is no drinking water and people are forced to leave their provinces," said the Ministry of Energy and Water.

Meanwhile, some experts on water issues said that if there is no water in the Helmand River, Iran should not proceed unilaterally.

"The underground water is shared between Iran and Afghanistan, and no one has the right to unilaterally use the underground water of Sistan and the underground water of Sistan and Helmand in general," said Najibullah Saded, a researcher of water resources and the environment.

The issue of water rights from the Helmand River has become a controversial issue between the two neighboring countries, although the Islamic Emirate has always emphasized that it is committed to Iran's water rights according to the treaty of 1351; however, Iran's foreign minister said that Tehran has placed the issue of its water rights from Afghanistan on its agenda legally and politically.


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Arab World


Saudi natural reserve receives IUCN administrative classification accreditation

July 27, 2023

RIYADH: The King Salman Bin Abdulaziz Royal Natural Reserve has been accredited by the International Union for Conservation of Nature for meeting international administrative classification standards.

This accreditation is a significant endorsement, qualifying the reserve to be included among efficiently managed and effective natural reserves.

Covering over 130,000 sq. km, the reserve is the fourth-largest protected area in the world and the largest in the Middle East.

It spans four administrative regions: Al-Jawf, Hail, Tabuk, and the Northern Borders. Notably, the reserve includes UNESCO-listed historical sites like Jubbah, with origins dating back over 8,000 years BC.

Fahad Al-Shuwaier, director general of communications at the reserve, pointed out that the certification reflects global recognition of its management practices by effectively implementing nature-based solutions.

He told Arab News: “This international acknowledgment serves as a testament to the Kingdom’s and its leaders’ unwavering commitment to environmental preservation and growth, aligning with the nation’s future vision and global aspirations.

“The prestigious Green List certification is more than just an accolade; it serves as a driving force to maintain the current momentum and continue the journey towards further progress. With optimism and determination, the reserve is on course to join the Green List, and its success will be a result of collective efforts and cooperation from all stakeholders, rallying behind a shared strategic objective.”

Al-Shuwaier indicated that the unyielding support from executive leadership provides an invaluable source of encouragement, fueling the determination to achieve excellence and make a positive impact on the environment and sustainable development.


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Madinah Development Authority and Islamic University launch Arabic learning program

July 27, 2023

RIYADH: Madinah Region Development Authority has partnered with the Islamic University to launch an Arabic learning program for non-native speakers.

The program has six different levels of Arabic courses, and various teaching platforms including in-class teaching, online and self-learning teaching platforms to develop learning skills.

The program will take place in Madinah at the Islamic University. Members of the education staff are all specialists in teaching Arabic to speakers of other languages.

The program is part of initiatives aimed at transforming Madinah into a leading global center in teaching Arabic to non-native speakers.

“Our mission is to achieve quality excellence by offering an internationally accredited program for teaching Arabic using advanced technologies at a global level,” said Fahad Albulihshi, CEO of MRDA.

The partnership offers short and medium-term education programs for visitors and tourists, health practitioners, workers in diplomatic missions, young expatriates and others interested in learning the Arabic language.

All holders of a valid visa in the Kingdom can join the program, in person, at the Islamic University by pre-registering through the application portal.

“The program was created to increase the status of the Arabic language by facilitating the learning and teaching of the Arabic language, and to keep pace with global trends in foreign language education programs,” Albulihshi said.

The curriculum of the program provides learners with everything needed to professionally excel in the Arabic language.

This is a six-week program with 15 hours of study each week, covering courses on expression and phrases, reading, writing and courses on phonetics and pronunciation.

The program is built on a gradual basis of six levels in accordance with the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages, which are Pre-A1, A1, A2, B1, B2, and C levels from elementary to advanced levels.

The program will be accompanied by activities to contribute to the development of the learner’s communicative language skills.

A certificate of attendance for the number of hours the learner has studied will be awarded, along with a certificate of passing each level.

The program provides additional services, including open conversational classes in the university library, an opportunity to attend and benefit from classes in the faculties of the university, and frequent transport to and from the Prophet’s Mosque.


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Makkah’s Grand Mosque ready to receive worshipers on Ashoura: presidency

July 27, 2023

RIYADH: The Grand Mosque in Makkah is ready to receive pilgrims, worshipers, and those fasting on Ashoura, the General Presidency of the Two Holy Mosques said on Thursday.

Ashoura is observed on the tenth of Muharram, the first month of the Islamic calendar, and this year the historically significant day will fall on Friday July 28.

For Sunni Muslims, it is a sacred day and they believe that fasting on Ashoura is a virtuous act.

Dates, Zamzam water, and dry snacks will be distributed before sunset for visitors to the mosque to break their fast with, the presidency’s spokesman Maher bin Mansi Al-Zahrani said.

Al-Zahrani added that modern technology and artificial intelligence methods are used to support sterilization and disinfection processes at the mosque.

These include the use of 11 smart sterilization robots, 20 devices to sterilize the air and surfaces at the same time, 20 devices that sterilize hard-to-reach areas such as ceilings and pillars, and 600 automatic hand sanitization devices. Several teams also work to sterilize all areas of the mosque, its courtyards, and toilets with more than 70,000 liters of disinfectant.

In addition to this, 200 Saudi supervisors monitor the work of 4,000 male and female employees who clean the mosque 10 times a day, prepare 7,000 bottles of Zamzam for distribution, and equip all areas of the mosque with 4,500 Zamzam containers that hold 500,000 litres of the holy water.


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OIC calls meeting to discuss Qur’an burnings in Sweden and Denmark

July 27, 2023

RIYADH: The Organization of Islamic Cooperation will hold an extraordinary meeting of the Council of Foreign Ministers on Monday, July 31 to discuss the desecration and burning of copies of the Holy Qur’an in Sweden and Denmark.

The meeting has been called at the request of Saudi Arabia, the chairman of the 14th Islamic Summit, and the Republic of Iraq, the Saudi Press Agency reported.

It comes in implementation of the final statement issued by the extraordinary meeting of the OIC Executive Committee, held at the OIC General Secretariat’s headquarters in Jeddah on July 2, to take collective measures to prevent the recurrence of desecration of copies of the Qur’an in Sweden.

OIC Secretary-General HisseinBrahim Taha called on member states for unified measures against these insulting acts against the Qur’an and the Prophet Muhammad.


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Saudi ambassador to Egypt launches tourism forum in Cairo

July 27, 2023

 RIYADH: Saudi Ambassador to Egypt Osama bin Ahmed Nugali launched the International Forum for Tourism and Hotel Program Services in Cairo on Thursday, a gathering of 50 Saudi companies offering Umrah, transportation, aviation, and hospitality services.

Nugali toured the exhibition at the forum and was briefed on the services provided by companies to pilgrims and visitors to help contribute to enriching their religious and cultural experience in the Kingdom, the Saudi Press Agency reported on Thursday.

The ambassador praised the services provided by the Saudi companies, pointing out that their efforts were part of the Kingdom’s drive to aid pilgrims.

Nugali added that the event aimed to boost cooperation between Saudi and Egyptian companies, in line with strategic relations between the two countries.


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Saudi man gets 15 years in prison for drug crimes

July 27, 2023

RIYADH: A Saudi citizen has been jailed for 15 years for drug possession with intent to supply.

An official Public Prosecution source said the General Directorate for Narcotics Control found the accused was distributing drugs from an apartment in Jeddah. Eight bags of methamphetamines were found at the site, in addition to other narcotics, weighing equipment and empty bags for packing drugs.

The case was referred to the relevant court and the defendant was convicted of the charges. In addition to his 15 years in prison, he was placed under a travel ban for a similar period upon release.

Two other defendants were found guilty of being present at the crime scene, covering up criminal activity and not reporting the crimes to the authorities. The court sentenced them to serve varying periods in prison.


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South Asia


Journalist Abdul Hai Aber Comments on Incorrect Claims of His Death

Aber Abdul Hai Aber, a journalist and media worker noted for being the first to dub foreign TV shows in Afghanistan, was mistakenly reported dead by many media organizations, while in fact he is alive and residing in Kabul.

Earlier, TOLOnews had mistakenly reported his death based on a statement of NAI (Free Media-Supporting Organization).

However, Aber appeared for an interview with TOLOnews, proving the news was inaccurate.

“I was both happy and sad because some friends would contact me and they would not even believe that my death wwas a lie. They said the news about my death was published by very credible sources,” he said.

Aber meanwhile called on the interim government to support the Afghan media organizations.

“They know and understand that the media today is a great power… they should give it some freedom and allow journalists to be free a little bit and provide them with information and not impose restrictions,” he said.

Mohammad Zarif Karimi, head of NAI, regarding the release of the inaccurate statement, expressed sorrow over the death of Abir.

“Based on the information which we received from Mr. Abir’s friends and top media, after 24 hours ... unfortunately some of the media outlets gave it a news angle and they undermined our statement through their publication,” he said.

Abdul Hai Aber was born in Helmand province and has worked in Afghanistan's journalism field for the past forty years.


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Acting Minister Muttaqi to Meet American Officials in Doha

The spokesman of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs tweeted that a delegation of the Islamic Emirate led by acting Foreign Minister Amir Khan Muttaqi is scheduled to travel to Doha at the end of this month to meet with American officials.

Abdul Qahar Balkhi tweeted that in the meeting, ending sanctions and blacklists, releasing Afghanistan's bank reserves, and stopping violations of Afghanistan's airspace will be discussed. 

According to Muttaqi, the delegation of the Islamic Emirate will also discuss bilateral relations with Qatari officials.

The US Department of State said in a statement on Wednesday that the Special Representative for Afghanistan Thomas West and Special Envoy for Afghan Women, Girls, and Human Rights Rina Amiri will travel to Astana, Kazakhstan, and Doha, Qatar from July 26-31. 

Vedant Patel, the deputy spokesman for the US Department of State, said in a press briefing that “travel for special representative Tom West and Rina Amiri does not indicate any change in the policy of the United States, and “we have been very clear that we will engage with the Taliban appropriately when it is in our interest _ to do so. This does not – this is not intended to mean any kind of indication of recognition or any kind of indication of normalization or legitimacy of the Taliban.”

Once again, he criticized the violation of human rights by the "Taliban" and the marginalization of Afghan women and girls and called it worrying.

Meanwhile, the US special envoy for Afghan women and human rights,  Rina Amiri, said on Twitter that she visited the UAE and encouraged by “discussions with representatives of Albania, Bangladesh, Morocco, Saudi Arabia, the OIC and Tunisia.”

“The reps stated that women’s rights are protected in Islam and key to economic progress and stability,” she said.

“There was wide agreement that the extreme repression of Afghan women and girls sets a dangerous precedent, particularly for Muslim-majority countries; these policies should not be normalized and the world must stand with Afghan women & girls,” Amiri said.


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Heavy Rains, Flash Floods Kill 47 in 11 Provinces of Afghanistan

July 27, 2023

At least 47 people have died, and 57 others have been injured in the last week’s flooding in eleven provinces of Afghanistan, according to the state Ministry for Disaster Management.

“At least 47 people have died, and 57 more have been wounded due to recent flooding in Maidan Wardak, Kabul, Kunar, Pakita, Khost, Nuristan, Nangarhar, Ghazni, Paktika, and Helmand,” according to Shafiullah Rahimi, head of the Ministry’s media office.

According to Faizullah Jalali Stanikzai, the provincial director for the Natural Disaster Management Authority, the Wardak province has experienced its deadliest natural disaster with 32 deaths, including 23 in the Jalrez district early on Sunday.

The official noted that besides killing people, the floods destroyed or severely damaged 500 residential houses and agricultural lands.

“456 livestock were also killed, 940 residential houses destroyed, and more than 500 acres of farmland and orchards washed away,” Rahimi said.

At least nine people died, and seven others were injured due to flash floods in Parwan Province on Tuesday, Sayed Hekmatullah Shamim said on Wednesday.

Afghanistan is among the most vulnerable countries against natural disasters, including floods, earthquakes, avalanches, landslides and drought.


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Afghan Acting Foreign Minister To Meet US Officials in Doha

July 27, 2023

According to a statement released by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Afghanistan on Thursday, a delegation led by the acting foreign minister, Amir Khan Muttaqi, will travel to Doha at the end of this month to discuss related issues with the US officials.

Meanwhile, the ministry said that the top priorities in these negotiations will be the release of Afghanistan’s frozen reserves, lifting sanctions and blacklists, and violating Afghanistan’s airspace.

In addition, the delegation will also discuss bilateral relations with Qatar’s officials, the statement said.

On the other hand, the US Department of State announced on Wednesday that the special envoy for Afghanistan, Thomas West, and the Special envoy for Women, girls and human rights in Afghanistan, Rina Amiri, will embark regional visit from 26 to 31 July.

 “While in Astana, they will meet with colleagues from Kazakhstan, the Kyrgyz Republic, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan for a C5+1 Special Session on Afghanistan. They will also meet with civil society members focused on advancing women’s economic empowerment in Afghanistan and Kazakhstan,” according to the statement.

According to the statement, the envoys will also meet with Afghan and Kazakh civil society members dedicated to boosting women’s economic development.

The statement said, “Priority issues will include humanitarian support for the people of Afghanistan, economic stabilization, fair and dignified treatment of all Afghans, including women and girls, security issues, and efforts to counter narcotics production and trafficking.”

The State Department declared on Wednesday that the US position will not change concerning the current regime of Kabul.

“We have been very clear that we will engage with the Taliban appropriately when it is in our interest to do so,” spokesperson Vedant Patel told media.

“This is not intended to mean any indication of recognition, normalization, or legitimacy of the Taliban,” Patel added.


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International Rescue Committee Ramps Up Support For Flood Victims in Afghanistan

July 27, 2023

The International Rescue Committee (IRC) is increasing assistance to the communities in Kabul, Maidan Wardak, and Logar provinces which have recently suffered from disastrous floods.

These floods have caused immense destruction, killing several people and injuring others in the country.

These provinces, Including Maidan Wardak and Logar, are already confronted with several difficulties, including poverty and restricted access to resources are disproportionately affected by climate change.

Due to flooding, the people have been forced to flee their homes; now, they are left without shelter and necessities.

“Rising temperatures, changing weather patterns, and increased frequency of extreme events, such as floods, are compounding the struggles of these communities, disrupting livelihoods, and eroding the resilience of the local population. Regrettably, those who contribute the least to climate change are bearing the brunt of its consequences”, the IRC said in a statement.

Meanwhile, the IRC underscored the urgent need for global action to address climate change, its impact on vulnerable communities, and the inherent injustice in its unequal distribution of harm.

“Communities in Maidan Wardak and Logar provinces are grappling with the aftermath of these devastating floods, with more rainfall projected in the coming days. The situation demands immediate attention and support,” said Mohammed Riyas, Regional Emergency Director for IRC in Asia.

“While climate change is a global crisis, it is unequivocally evident that its impact is felt disproportionately by those who have contributed the least to its causes. We must stand in solidarity and recognize the moral imperative to support vulnerable communities as they face the consequences of a crisis they did not create.”

“The IRC’s emergency response teams are working tirelessly to provide essential aid and services to those affected in Kabul and Logar, including health and medical support. In the coming days, we will also distribute cash to affected populations so that they can buy essential items. Just today, IRC launched a report highlighting that cash-based anticipatory action can help recover from, and build resilience to, climate disasters in fragile settings affected by conflict and climate change.”

To combat climate change and assist vulnerable populations disproportionately affected by its impacts, the IRC calls on governments, international organizations, and people worldwide to join forces.

Additionally, whereas 28.8 million people require urgent humanitarian aid, the humanitarian response plan has less than 25% of its funding. IRC calls on international donors to pay attention to the most vulnerable countries when financing efforts to combat climate change, especially because many disasters are predictable.


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How the coup in Niger could expand the reach of Islamic extremism, and Wagner, in West Africa


More than 1,000 U.S. service personnel are in Niger, which until Wednesday's coup by mutinous soldiers had avoided the military takeovers that destabilized West African neighbors in recent years.

The country had been seen as the last major partner standing against extremism in a Francophone region where anti-French sentiment had opened the way for the Russian private military group Wagner.

Various Islamic extremist groups are active around Niger, which isn't to be confused with Nigeria, Africa's most populous country. Niger lies just to the north, part of the sprawling region directly below the Sahara Desert that for years has faced a growing threat from various groups of Islamic extremists.

Here's what to know:

Signaling Niger's importance in the region where Wagner also operates, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken visited in March to strengthen ties and announce $150 million in direct assistance, calling the country "a model of democracy."

Now a critical question is whether Niger might pivot and engage Wagner as a counterterrorism partner like its neighbors Mali and Burkina Faso, which have kicked out French forces. France shifted more than 1,000 personnel to Niger after pulling out of Mali last year.

Wagner chief Yevgeny Prigozhin said in a statement Thursday that "what happened in Niger is the fight of its people against the colonizers. ... It effectively means winning independence. The rest will depend on the people of Niger."

Hundreds of people gathered on Thursday in Niger's capital, Niamey, and chanted support for Wagner while waving Russian flags.

Niger's government had been "pretty open in terms of dialogue and engaging both domestically and with international partners," said Paul Melly, a consulting fellow with the Africa program at the Chatham House think tank in London. "So quite a lot is at stake here."

Niger has been a base of international military operations for years as Islamic extremists have greatly expanded their reach in the Sahel. Those include Boko Haram in neighboring Nigeria and Chad, but the more immediate threat comes from growing activity in Niger's border areas with Mali and Burkina Faso from the Islamic State in the Greater Sahara and the al-Qaida affiliate Jama'at Nusrat al-Islam wal-Muslimin, known as JNIM.

Meanwhile, Niger's military expenditures reached $202 million in 2021.

U.S. partners battling extremists in the Sahel are dwindling. Notably, Mali's military junta last month ordered the 15,000-strong United Nations peacekeeping mission to leave, claiming they had failed in their mission. However, Wagner forces remain there, accused by watchdogs of human rights atrocities.

The United States in early 2021 said it had provided Niger with more than $500 million in military assistance and training programs since 2012, one of the largest such support programs in sub-Saharan Africa. The European Union earlier this year launched a 27 million-euro ($30 million) military training mission in Niger.

The U.S. has operated drones out of a base it constructed in Niger's remote north as part of counterterrorism efforts in the vast Sahel. The fate of that base and other U.S. operational sites in the country after this week's coup isn't immediately known.

"It is too soon to speculate on any potential future actions or activities," a spokesman with the U.S. Africa Command, John Manley, said in an email. He said approximately 1,100 U.S. personnel are in Niger.

Niger was the site of one of the deadliest encounters for U.S. forces in Africa in recent years, an ambush by extremists in 2017 that left four soldiers dead. The attack again raised questions by some critics in Washington about why the U.S. would be involved on the continent.

Observers say West Africa's Sahel region has become one of the world's deadliest regions for extremism. West Africa recorded over 1,800 extremist attacks in the first six months of this year, resulting in nearly 4,600 deaths, a top regional official told the United Nations Security Council this week.

Most of those deaths occurred in Burkina Faso and Mali, while just 77 occurred in Niger, said the official, Omar Touray, the president of the ECOWAS Commission, the executive arm of the West African economic bloc. Observers have warned that the extremist threat is also expanding south toward states like Ghana and Ivory Coast.

The coup in Niger brings yet more insecurity. "We are witnessing that the whole belt south of the Sahara is becoming an extremely problematic area," U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres said.

Niger is one of the world's poorest countries, struggling with climate change along with migrants from across West Africa trying to make their way across the Sahara en route toward Europe. It has received millions of euros of investment from the EU in its efforts to curb migration via smugglers.

Danica Kirka in London and Edith M. Lederer at the United Nations contributed to this report.


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Kwara: Police react to Islamic-traditional worshippers conflict in Ilorin

July 27, 2023

The Kwara State Police Command has advised the people of the state, especially people of diverse religious beliefs, to exercise restraint in expressing grievances over religious issues whenever they arise.

This advice, according to the police command, becomes necessary in view of recent happenings between some Islamic clerics and some traditional worshippers, popularly called ‘Isese’ in the Ilorin metropolis.

A statement by the spokesman of the command, SP Okasanmi Ajayi, in Ilorin on Thursday, said, “There are lots of inciting videos circulating on different social media platforms from both religious bodies threatening fire and brimstone if one thing or the order was not done, bringing into doubt the belief that Kwara is a state of harmony.

“In order to douse the tension, the Commissioner of Police, Kwara State, EbunoluwarotimiAdelesi, invited the two groups to a meeting where both parties were given the opportunity to air their grievances and a middle-of-the ground agreement was reached.

“Consequently, both parties were advised to maintain the peace while a lasting solution to the crisis was enabled,” the statement added.

The CP also advised the parties to warn their followers posting inciting videos on social media platforms to desist forthwith, noting that Kwara State is a state of harmony, and as such, all hands must be on deck to ensure that every effort must be made to make the state remain so.

“To this end, teams of policemen have been deployed to extensively patrol the city and arrest anyone found undermining the efforts of the security agencies to secure the state.”

The command emphasised that while the right to freedom of religion as enshrined in the Nigerian constitution is sacred, respect for the culture and tradition of the people in a particular community is also important.


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Allow Islamic, Quranic experts to develop curriculum - Dr Abdul-Hamid urges NaCCA

Jul - 28 - 2023

A Founder member of Talim Ghana, a Muslim organisation, Dr Mustapha Abdul-Hamid, said currently, the practice was that educational experts who had no basic understanding of the Islamic religion were given the opportunity to develop a curriculum for Islamic and Quran studies without any recourse to experts in the sector.

“Islamic and Quran studies is a specialised area, I am not saying it’s sacrosanct but we must be committed to engage experts who have basic understanding in the sector to develop our curriculum.

We have a lot of Muslim scholars and Arabic experts in the country who can craft a curriculum for us.” Dr Abdul-Hamid added.

Dr Abdul-Hamid, who is also the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the National Petroleum Authority (NPA), was speaking at a seminar on Islamic teaching and learning in Accra yesterday.

The event was organised by Talim Ghana, a non-governmental organisation committed to improving the standard of living in various Muslim communities in the country.

It was attended by some Muslim leaders and Islam scholars who deliberated on developing a curriculum for the Muslim community in the country.


Dr Abdul-Hamid further said, “If you want to know about Catholicism, ask a Catholic, I am not going to read a book on Catholicism written by a Presbyterian.

If you want to know about Islam, ask a Muslim, so it is we Muslims who must own our curriculum and we must have a say in the development and review of our curriculum as the years go by”.

He also urged Muslim experts to be assertive and let the Ministry of Education know that there were experts within the Muslim community who had the capacity to develop a curriculum and also review it periodically.

Dr Abdul-Hamid said the Constitution had given every citizen the right to profess the religion of their choice and to manifest such belief.

“Therefore, the Muslim community must begin to engage with the government more thoughtfully and also give themselves a benchmark below which they would not accept,” he added.

Eternity of Quran

Even though it was believed that the Quran was eternal, Dr Abdul-Hamid said many Muslims sometimes misunderstood the eternity of the Quran.

He said the Quran was able to speak to every time and age and that there was enough technology in the Quran to answer questions of technological nature.

So as the world evolves,  Dr Abdul-Hamid said crafters of Islamic curriculum should be able to find principles in the Quran to bring it in tune with modern times.

“So don’t be nervous when somebody says that the world has changed and , therefore, the Islamic curriculum must change with the times; don’t misunderstand the person to mean that Islam has changed.

It means that you can have enough principles in the Quran to answer the changes that are taking place in the world,” he said.

The President of the Nigerian Centre for Arabic Research, Nigeria, Professor Alkhidru Abdul Baaq Mohammed, also said there was the need to reconsider the relationship between Islam and modernity and develop curriculums that related to Muslim lives.

Also, he said the curriculum must be connected to the national identity so that students would know about their national history and not be introduced to a curriculum that could lead to alienation.


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Kwara CP meets Muslims, traditionalists, sues for peace

28th July 2023

The Kwara State Police Command has warned adherents of the Islamic religion and traditional worshipers against circulating inciting videos on religious activities in Ilorin, the state capital.

The police gave the warning in a statement on Thursday by the Kwara Command’s spokesperson, Okasanmi Ajayi, after a peace meeting held by the Commissioner of Police, Mrs EbunoluwarotimiAdelesi, with the adherents of Islamic religion and traditional religion worshipers.

Recall that there was a face-off between some Muslim groups and traditional religious worshipers over a planned celebration of Isese festival in Ilorin,  as some Muslim groups maintained that Ilorin was an Islamic town.

The police, in the statement, said, “There are lots of inciting videos circulating on different social media platforms from both religious bodies, threatening fire and brimstones if one thing or the order was not done, bringing into doubt the belief that Kwara State is a state of harmony.

“To douse the tension, the Commissioner of Police, Kwara State, EbunoluwarotimiAdelesi, invited the two groups to a meeting where both parties were allowed to air their grievances and a middle-of-the-ground agreement was reached.

“Consequently, both parties were advised to maintain the peace while a lasting solution to the crisis was enabled.

The CP also advised the parties to warn their followers posting inciting videos on social media platforms to desist forthwith, noting that Kwara State is a state of harmony, and as such, all hands must be on deck to ensure that every effort must be made to make the state remain so.”

The CP advised residents to exercise restraint in expressing grievances whenever they arise.

Meanwhile, the International Forum of Araba/Oluawo (Ajoawon Araba/Oluawol’Agbaye), has called on President Bola Tinubu, the Kwara State Governor, AbdulRahmanAbdulRazak, the Inspector-General of Police, and the Department of State Services, to wade into an alleged threat to life by some Muslims in Kwara State.

The group also called on governments at all levels to set up religious advisory councils that would comprise all three religions in the country.

The Isese members, who met in Ibadan under the leadership of Araba Agbaye Olu-lsese, His Eminence, Araba AwodotunAworeni, were reacting to the development in Kwara State which led to the cancellation of an Isese festival scheduled to be held this month.

Speaking in Ibadan, the International Forum of Araba/Oluawo said, “Despite the intimidations of our members, we have cautioned them not to take laws into their own hands. It is based on this that we are calling on President Tinubu and all security agencies in the country to urgently wade into this matter before it gets out of hand.”


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Davido Unfollows Israel DMW Following Apology to Muslim Community Over Controversial Music Video

July 28, 2023

Nigerian music sensation, Davido, has taken a surprising step on social media, unfollowing his logistics manager, Israel DMW, on Instagram. This comes shortly after Israel issued a public apology to the Muslim community on behalf of the award-winning singer.

Last week, Davido shared a music video promoting his talented artiste, Logos Olori, on his Twitter page. The video for the song ‘Jaye Lo’ included scenes of people praying and dancing in a building resembling a mosque. Unfortunately, this portrayal was deemed offensive by some members of the Muslim community, who felt it disrespected their religion.

Responding to the controversy, Davido promptly deleted the viral video. However, the Muslim community demanded a public apology from the superstar. In a bid to pacify the situation, Israel DMW, who serves as Davido’s logistics manager, took to his Instagram story to extend an apology to his boss’ followers.

Trending: President Tinubu’s Ministerial Nominees: States with Appointments and States without Any Nominees Revealed

Israel DMW clarified that the ‘Jaye Lo’ music video was created solely for entertainment purposes but had been wrongly presented, leading to unintended offense. He reassured the Muslim community of his love and respect for them in his apology.

Despite Israel DMW’s efforts to make amends, Davido has chosen to unfollow him on Instagram. Fans and followers are curious about the reason behind this decision, as the talented singer is yet to publicly address the matter or release an official statement even after deleting the controversial clip.

This unfolding situation has captured the attention of social media users, with many expressing their views on the matter. As the unfollowing incident gains traction, fans are eagerly waiting for Davido’s response to provide clarity on the situation.

It is essential for celebrities and public figures to remain sensitive to religious and cultural sentiments, considering their significant influence on a global scale. As the story continues to develop, fans hope that Davido will acknowledge the concerns raised by the Muslim community and offer an apology to promote understanding and harmony.


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Islamabad High CourtRefers Judge’s ‘Controversial’ Facebook Posts To FIA

 July 28, 2023

ISLAMABAD: The Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Thursday referred the ‘controversial’ Facebook posts of a judge hearing the Toshakhana case to the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA), while a lower court granted PTI chief Imran Khan a one-time exemption from attendance in the Toshakhana criminal case.

The IHC chief justice was hearing petitions filed by Mr Khan, seeking the transfer of his case from the court of Additional District and Sessions Judge (ADSJ) Humayun Dilawar to another court.

The trial of Mr Khan is at the final stage, as the court has already summoned him to record his statement under Section 342 of the Criminal Procedure Code, under which the judge can put a question to an accused person before concluding trial proceedings.

Mr Khan was seeking multiple reliefs in the Toshakhana case, from the transfer of the case to the summoning of record from the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP), and also questioned the maintainability of the complaint filed against him by the ECP for concealing details of state gifts in his assets declarations.

Justice Farooq noted that the PTI chairman’s petition against the maintainability of the complaint in fact is “the second round of litigation on inter alia subject of limitation and authority of person filing complaint on behalf of the Election Commission of Pakistan, as earlier, this Court [IHC] had… referred to learned trial court for decision afresh.”

Mr Khan also took up the matter to the Supreme Court but to no avail.

One of the reasons agitated by Mr Khan for the transfer of the matter to another court is the alleged bias of the judge hearing Toshakhana case and in this regard certain posts on his Facebook account were presented before the judge which were also shown to the IHC chief justice.

The court was told that the trial court judge, as such, denied the posts.

Justice Farooq directed the registrar office to “remit the issue of the authenticity of the posts to the Cyber Crime Wing of Federal Investigation Agency, Islamabad, with the direction to submit the report positively before next date of hearing.”

The court sought assistance from the ECP and adjourned further hearing till next week.

Meanwhile, IHC Chief Justice Aamer Farooq also dismissed a petition by Mr Khan seeking the transfer of his bail petitions in the cases registered against him following May 9 violent protests from the court of ADSJ Tahir Abbas Sipra.

He rejected the request seeking transfer of the bail petitions observing that the counsel could not give plausible reason for such a prayer.

One-time exemption granted

Separately, a lower court granted a one-time exemption from attendance to the PTI chairman in the Toshakhana criminal case and adjourned further hearing till the next date, the Associated Press of Pakistan reported.

Additional District and Sessions Judge Hamayun Dilawar presided over the criminal case against Mr Khan. As the hearing began, Mr Khan’s counsel, Barrister Gohar Ali Khan, filed a request to the judge seeking a one-time exemption from his client’s attendance, citing security issues preventing the PTI chairman from arriving.

The judge remarked that ensuring security arrangements was the responsibility of concerned authorities. The court had conducted a total of 37 hearings in the Toshakhana case, but the accused had appeared in only three hearings, the judge noted, adding that the defence lawyers were consistently filing exemption requests.

ECP lawyer Amjad Pervaiz opposed the request, stating that the appearance of an accused was essential during trials in criminal cases as per the directives of the top court.

The exemption could be granted only if the court was satisfied with the reasons provided, he said. After a recess, Mr Khan’s lawyer informed the court that his client would appear before the court on the next hearing as per the senior counsel Khawaja Haris.

The court accepted the two requests, including exemption from appearance for Imran Khan, and adjourned the case until Monday.


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PM urges Balochistan to ‘look after’ foreign investors

July 28, 2023

GWADAR: Prime Minis­­ter Shehbaz Sharif on Thursday said that the huge mineral and natural resources of Balochistan belong to its people, but stressed that locals must support and take care of foreign investors who were striving for the betterment of the province.

“Balochistan is rich in huge minerals and other natural resources that need to be explored, and the fruits of the area’s development should be given to the local people,” the prime minister said, adding that the first right on the resources of the province belongs to the local people.

He emphasised that locals must enjoy all the basic facilities in all sectors, including health and education.

While referring to foreign investment and investors, he asked the people to take care of the friends who were making efforts for the betterment of the people of Gwadar.

“If we work against them, what will they think about us?” PM Sharif said, directing the relevant authorities to prioritise the security of foreigners.

The prime minister reiterated the government’s resolve to develop the Gwadar sea port as one of the best in the world and added that the fate of the people of Balochistan, especially of Gwadar, would be changed through the ongoing development operation across the province.

Speaking at a ceremony to distribute laptops and cheques in Gwadar, the prime minister said that the Chinese were working on various development projects, which were almost abandoned during the era of previous government, which not only halted work on China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) projects but also led to strained relations with friendly countries due to its uncooperative approach and attitude.

However, he said that the coalition government, through hard work, has restored good relations with our friendly countries.

Chief of Army Staff General Syed Asim Munir also attended the ceremony, along with other ministers and senior officials.

The prime minister announced that the laptop quota for Balochistan has now been increased to 14 per cent against the province’s six per cent population share. He also directed the relevant authorities to further increase the laptop quota to 18 per cent for the next fiscal year.

PM Shehbaz said that the development of Balochistan at par with other provinces was inevitable, which faced ‘criminal negligence’ during the previous government.

He added that the Gwadar deep sea port would be fully functional by February or March of next year as the dredging of the port channel is under way, and once it’s completed, large ships would be able to anchor at Gwadar, which ranks among the world’s deepest ports.

The premier said that after being elected the prime minister for the third time in 2013, Nawaz Sharif planned and launched multiple projects in power, infrastructure, and other sectors in Gwadar.

However, PM Shehbaz lamented that when he visited as prime minister last year, he was shocked to note that the previous government had abandoned work on all ongoing projects in the city.

He said that despite 15 months of challenging times, the coalition government managed to lay the foundation of development and prosperity in the country, especially in Balochistan.

He said the draft of the Gwadar port was one of the deepest among the world’s top ports; however, dredging of the port, which is a continuous process to prevent accumulating silt, was not ensured by the previous government.

Now the current government has initiated the dredging process, which will be completed by February next year, he informed.

He said that in the five years from 2017 to 2022, only 100,000 tonnes of goods could arrive here, while goods of over 600,000 tonnes arrived at the Gwadar Port during the 15 months of the incumbent government.

During his visit to Gwadar, the prime minister inaugurated multiple development projects, which he said were conceived during Nawaz Sharif’s tenure but were put on the backburner.

He told the newsmen that he had inaugurated a clean drinking water project, also launched by Nawaz Sharif in 2015 but faced an unnecessary delay since then.


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Unrepentant Asif asks PTI members to ‘apologise first’

July 28, 2023

ISLAMABAD: Offeri­­ng an ‘apology of sorts’ for his remarks, Minister for Defence Khawaja Asif said on Thursday that he would only say sorry on the condition that PTI members repented the alleged abusive lang-uage they had used for Maryam Nawaz and FaryalTalpur.

Speaking on the floor of both Senate and National Assembly a couple of days after making the offensive comments that drew the ire of PTI women lawmakers, Mr Asif claimed he did not need to apologise as his “comments were taken out of context”.

“My remarks were not against female members of PTI,” he claimed.

The defence minister maintained that he was responding to observations made by PTI Senator Ali Zafar, who alleged that the government was bulldozing legislation.

“I was reminding him of the days when the PTI government passed 54 bills within minutes,” Mr Asif said.

“My remarks were not gender specific. I referred to both male and female members of PTI as ‘remnants’ and ‘garbage’,” he said, repeating the offending terms.

On Tuesday, the minister used sexist and derogatory remarks referring to women from the opposition PTI in a joint session of parliament, referring to them as “remains” and “ruins” of the party, “which had to be cleaned.”

However, on Thursday the defence minister conceded that he did get carried away in his speeches, giving the example of the time when he referred to vice chancellors as ‘dacoits’ but later had to withdraw his remarks and apologise.

However, he drew attention towards Imran Khan’s speeches, where the PTI chief had publicly used what he called “foul language” for PML-N leader Maryam Nawaz and Asif Zardari’s sister, FaryalTalpur.

“PTI set the standards of vulgarity in political speeches. Imran Khan appreciates such language. Why do PTI members condone such offensive language from their leader?” he asked rhetorically.

Apart from PTI members, the minister also faced criticism from the ruling coalition in both houses. Senator Humayun Mohmand said he would not stay in the Senate unless Mr Asif apologised for his unwarranted remarks.

JUI-F Senator Kamran Murtaza also slammed Mr Asif and conceded that unsuitable remarks were passed from the treasury benches against women parliamentarians. “I apologise, even if nobody else does,” he said, requesting the defence minister to tender an apology.

Later, Public Accounts Committee Chairman Noor Alam Khan also lamented the use of derogatory language for women parliamentarians by the defence minister on the floor of the National Assembly.


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Activists seek to join SC hearing on May 9 trials

July 28, 2023

ISLAMABAD: A group of civil society activists approached the Supreme Court on Thursday to become interveners and help the court better adjudicate on the matter of civilians’ military trials against the backdrop of May 9 acts of violence and arson.

The request from the activists comes as a six-judge Supreme Court bench, headed by Chief Justice Umar Ata Bandial, is set to resume hearing challenges to the trial of civilians by military courts on Aug 1.

On that day, Attorney General for Pakistan (AGP) Mansoor Usman Awan would also apprise the apex court after seeking instructions from the government about the provision of appeal against the sentence to be awarded by military courts to those found guilty of May 9 violence.

In their application, the activists argued that the issue of civilians’ trials under the Pakistan Army Act (PAA) 1952 and the Official Secrets Act (OSA) 1923 was a matter of public interest since it would have far-reaching implications for society.

They argued that the military court trials would violate the fundamental rights of civilians by depriving them of the right to a fair trial, the right to legal representation and the right to due process.

The activists argued that it was necessary to make these interveners a proper party since several FIRs — for instance, FIR No. 96 of 2023 registered at Lahore’s Sarwar Road police station — were initiated in relation to the violent political protests in May for offences under the Pakistan Penal Code, 1860, and Anti-Terrorism Act, 1997.

The applicant interveners would assist the Supreme Court in declaring that civilians’ trials under the Pakistan Army Act and the Official Secrets Act in relation to the alleged criminal acts committed on May 9 and 10 violated Section 2(d) and 59(4) of the PAA and Sections 3, 3A, 7, and 9 of the OSA.

Consequently, all such investigations and trials of civilians accused under both acts and all subsequent actions were void from the beginning and had no legal effect, they said.

The activists argued that unless the interveners were not made a party to the present petition, the rights of citizens being tried by the military courts would be adversely affected.

The application has been filed through senior counsel Faisal Siddiqi on behalf of feminist activist Nighat Said Khan; former UN special rapporteur for cultural rights Farida Shaheed; founding member of the Joint Action Committee Lahore Neelam Hussain; human rights activist Maryam Hussain; and Maheen Pracha, of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan.


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Senate ramps up punishment for leaking sensitive info

July 28, 2023

ISLAMABAD: The Senate on Thursday passed an amendment to the Pakistan Army Act, 1952, which proposes up to five years in jail for those who disclose sensitive information pertaining to the security of the country or the military.

One of the amendments in the army act also accorded more powers to the chief of army staff and barred ex-servicemen from engaging in politics as well as taking up ventures which could come into conflict with the army’s interest. It also proposed imprisonment for defamation of the army.

According to a senior military official, the amendments will not be applicable to civilians, and only serving and retired military personnel would be impacted.

In addition to several amendments passed in deviation from the routine procedures, the house also passed the Cantonments (Amendment) Bill, Defence Housing Authority Islamabad (Amendment) Bill, and Board of Investment (Amendment) Bill — all directly or indirectly related to the army — giving legal cover to the military’s engagement in commercial enterprises and empowering it to “carry out activities related to national development and advancement of national or strategic interests”.

According to an amendment, “The Pakistan Army may, in the manner as may be prescribed through its affiliated entities, carry out activities that relate to or generate proceeds for, inter alia, welfare and rehabilitation of serving and retired personnel of Pakistan Army, wounded personnel, as well as families of Shuhada (martyrs)”.

“Provided that all such activities already undertaken shall always be deemed to have been validly done under this act,” a proviso added to the section reads.

Changes to army act

The Pakistan Army (Amend­ment) Act, 2023 proposed adding Section 26-A to the act, under which “anyone who discloses or causes to be disclosed any information…shall be […] punished with rigorous imprisonment for a term which may extend to five years”. In case, the disclosure is approved by the army chief, it would not be considered a violation.

The bill also proposed introducing Section 26-B, which forbids any person subject to the army act from engaging in any kind of political activity for two years from the date of their “retirement, release, resignation, discharge, removal or dismissal from the service”.

It further said those who “remained posted, employed, seconded, tasked or otherwise attached on sensitive duties” are forbidden from taking part in “political activity of any kind, during a period of five years from the date of his retirement, release, resignation, discharge, removal or dismissal from the service”.

In case of violation, a court constituted under the army act can punish them with “rigorous imprisonment for a term which may extend to two years”.

Section 55-A forbids any person subject to the army act in the past five years from “directly or indirectly enter[ing] into employment, consultation or other engagement with an entity having a conflict of interest” with the activities of the army or its affiliates. However, the law does not apply to those who seek prior approval from the COAS. A person guilty of the said offence can be imprisoned for up to “two years with fine not exceeding Rs500,000 or with both”, the bill stated.

Section 55-B stated that any person, who is or has been subject to the army act, and commits an offence under the Peca 2016 “with the mala fide intention to undermine, ridicule, or scandalise the armed forces” shall be punished in the manner as prescribed in the Peca law.

Section 55-C stated that a person who is or has been subject to the army act, “intentionally ridicules, scandalises, brings into hatred or otherwise attempts to lower the armed forces of Pakistan or any part will be punished with imprisonment which may extend to two years or fine or with both”.

A clause introduced to Section 176-C proposed that the COAS “may delegate any of his powers and functions conferred by, or delegated under this act, to any officer or authority subordinate to him”.

Meanwhile, the addition of Section 176-E proposed that the laws under the act “shall have effect notwithstanding anything inconsistent contained in any other law, rules or regulations for the time being in force”, adding that any such inconsistent law shall, “to the extent of any inconsistency, cease to have effect”.

Senators react

After the army act amendment bill was tabled in the Senate, JI Senator Mushtaq Ahmad said that lawmakers had only just received a copy of the proposed legislation and demanded that the chair send the bill, proposed by Defence Minister Khawaja Asif, to the committee concerned.

At this, Senate Chairman Sadiq Sanjrani went for voting on the motion seeking consideration of the bill at once, which was carried.

The JI senator recalled that his amendment to do away with the provision for extension in the term of services chiefs had not been taken up even after the passage of five months.

PPP Senator Raza Rabbani, however, staged a walkout against the hasty passage of the bill, terming them “blind legislation”.

Army-related legislation

The house also passed the Cantonments (Amendment) Bill, the Defence Housing Authority Islamabad (Amendment) Bill, and the Board of Investment (Amendment) Bill.

A proposed amendment in Section 6 of the DHA Act said the authority may “impose, vary, and recover any fee or charges for rendering any services within any scheme in the specified area including registration fee, transfer fee, management fee, development or re-development charges or additional development charges and maintenance fee, dues and charges etc”.

The bill gave powers to the authority’s executive board and a governing body to make by-laws for the smooth functioning of DHA.

The bill said there was no clear mechanism for the arrangement of security in the specified area earlier. This ambiguity created security threats to the allottees for which the proposed security mechanism has been inserted into the new law, it added.

According to state-run APP, the cantonments bill sought to “improve the financial base of these boards to facilitate development activities within cantonment areas”.

The Board of Investment (Amendment) Bill, introduced through supplementary agenda, said the federal government shall by notification in the official gazette establish the Special Investment Facilitation Council (SIFC).


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Sindh Police uncertain about motive behind murder of PTI lawmaker’s brother, nephew

July 28, 2023

KARACHI: Investigators probing Wednesday’s killing of Advocate Akram Abro and his son Shahryar are trying to find out the exact motive behind the broad daylight targeted attack as earlier they believed that it was connected to a tribal feud in Jacobabad but now they suspected that the double murder may be linked with a land dispute in Karachi, it emerged on Thursday.

Akram Abro, a brother of MPA Aslam Abro, and his son, Shehryar, were shot dead and two other persons were wounded near Ayesha Masjid in DHA Phase-VII when armed assailants, some in a car and some on a motorbike, sprayed their SUV with bullets. Another two companions of the victims remained unhurt.

Talking to the media at his office on Thursday, Inspector General of Police Ghulam Nabi Memon said that it was “too early” to reach a conclusion about the exact motive of the incident. However, it appeared that the actual target of the killers was Advocate Abro, he said.

Terming it an act of targeted killing, he said: “It’s not an ordinary crime as the killers fired around 50 bullets on the victims’ vehicle.”

A senior police officer, who is privy to the ongoing probe, said that the investigators were also looking into a land dispute in the city as a likely motive for the killing of MPA’s brother and his nephew.

He told Dawn that in the recent past a murder had taken place in Gulshan-i-Maymar over the same land dispute involving the Abro family.

The officer said that this was only one of the aspects of the investigation, which was still inconclusive.

Advocate Abro, son laid to rest

MPA Aslam Abro brought the bodies of his brother and nephew to Jacobabad for burial, our correspondent in Sukkur adds.

The funeral prayers were held in the Town Hall of Jacobabad amid moving scenes.

A large number of people, including MPAs Mir Mumtaz Hussain Jakhrani, Dr Sohrab Khan Sarki, Sardar Sheheryar Khan Shar, ex-MPA Mir Aurang­zeb Panhwar, people belonging to the Abro and other clans from Jacobabad, Balochistan and other areas attended the last rites of the slain Abros.

They were buried in a local graveyard in Mohammad Akram Abro village in the Abad area of Jacobabad district.

‘Banditry in Katcha area cancer for society’

During his interaction with the media on Thursday, the IGP also spoke about the police operation against dacoit gangs in the riverine area of upper Sindh.

He said banditry was a ‘cancer’ for society which needed to be eliminated.

He recalled that the phenomenon of ‘honey-trap’ emerged in 2012 when hundreds of people across the country were trapped by the bandits and brought to their hideouts. As this criminal activity was ‘risk-free’ for the gangs, it multiplied and this practice turned into an ‘industry’ to mint huge sums of money as ransom.

However, he said, after launching of the police operation, particularly in Kandhkot-Kashmore and Ghotki districts, the incidents of honey-trap had declined by 90 percent. He claimed that the police operation had resulted in a drastic reduction in kidnappings and other criminal activities in the area. The gangs had suffered badly and they had now realised that kidnapping was no more ‘risk-free’ for them, he added.

The IGP pointed out that there were only two persons held hostage by kidnappers Ghotki district, where most outlaws belonged to the gang led by Sultu or Rahib Shar. He said that 26 members of this gang had been killed during the police operation this year.

There were two kidnap victims held hostage in Sukkur, where mostly Yasin Teghani-led gang was active. Six members of this gang were killed and nine arrested during the last seven months, he said.

According to him, there are around 10 gangs of kidnappers who are active in Kandhkot-Kashmore district. As many as 18 gangsters had been killed and 69 others arrested. He said that during the last two-three days, seven kidnap victims had been recovered safely in Kashmore.

In Shikarpur district, 14 bandits were shot dead and 41 arrested.

Drones, better weapons sought

IG Memon said that in order to eliminate banditry from the riverine area, the police authorities had obtained a no-objection certificate (NOC) to procure ‘army grade weapons’ as well as drones for effective surveillance.


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North America


Documents Show US President Joe Biden’s Administration Pressured Facebook To Censor Speech

27 Jul, 2023

Newly unearthed documents from Facebook have revealed that US President Joe Biden’s administration pressured the world’s largest social media platform to censor commentary by its users, potentially violating their constitutional right to free speech.

US House Judiciary Committee Chairman and Republican Jim Jordan obtained the documents amid his panel’s investigation of the administration’s alleged “weaponization” of government. The documents prove that Facebook and Instagram censored posts and changed their moderation policies because of “unconstitutional pressure from the Biden White House,” Jordan claimed on Thursday.

Among the evidence cited by the lawmaker was an April 2021 email from a Facebook employee to top executives Mark Zuckerberg and Sheryl Sandberg. “We are facing continued pressure from external stakeholders, including the White House and the press, to remove more Covid-19 vaccine-discouraging content,” the sender said. The message noted, for example, that the White House had pushed for the censoring of a humorous meme that suggested the jabs might be unsafe.

Around the same time period, Nick Clegg, Facebook’s president for global affairs, sent a message informing his colleagues that Andy Slavitt, a senior adviser to Biden on Covid-19 policies, was “outraged” that the platform didn’t take down the anti-vaccine meme. Clegg said he countered that removing the content “would represent a significant incursion into traditional boundaries of free expression in the US,” but Slavitt disregarded that concern and argued that the meme would hinder the government’s vaccine-rollout effort.

Social media platforms themselves can legally choose how to restrict their content, but government intervention to influence those decisions could infringe on free-speech rights. After a report last October showed that the administration had set up a portal through which federal officials could make content-moderation requests to Big Tech, the American Civil Liberties Union said, “The First Amendment bars the government from deciding for us what is true or false – online or anywhere. Our government can’t use private pressure to get around our constitutional rights.”

Jordan warned earlier this week that his committee would vote to hold Zuckerberg in contempt of Congress unless Facebook provided the documents it had subpoenaed on government interventions into content moderation. He claimed that the committee had seen enough evidence to believe that Facebook was holding back on turning over evidence that would show it faced the same sort of government pressure that was previously revealed by Twitter.

Facebook executives feared repercussions if they didn’t appease the White House, Jordan said. Three months after Biden took office, Facebook’s vice president for public policy, Brian Rice, wrote in an April 2021 email that Slavitt’s pushback felt “very much like a crossroads for us with the White House in these early days.” He added, “Given what is at stake here, it would also be a good idea if we could regroup and take stock of where we are in our relations with the White House and our internal methods, too.”

Another document showed that “talking points” were prepared for Clegg to help smooth over relations with the administration. One of the suggestions was that he point out the company’s handling of a Tucker Carlson video that angered the White House. Although the video didn’t violate the platform’s policies, Facebook throttled back its distribution by 50% while it was queued to be “fact-checked.”


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Defeated and Detained, Islamic State Still Poses Extremism Threat

By Kali Robinson

July 27, 2023

An eighty-five-nation coalition celebrated the defeat of the self-proclaimed Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, also known as ISIS, in 2019, but the conundrum of what to do with an unprecedented number of captured militants and their families could trouble the world for years to come. Today, detained Islamic State fighters in northeastern Syria reportedly constitute the world’s largest concentration of terrorists, and tens of thousands of people with suspected links to the organization are languishing in Syrian displacement camps. With governments reluctant to repatriate remnants of the terrorist group, the situation raises dire security, legal, and human rights concerns.

What is the status of the Islamic State in Syria?

At its strongest in 2014, the Islamic State controlled at least a third of both Iraq and Syria, the group’s core area of operations. By early 2019, the last territory under its control had fallen to the U.S.-backed Syrian Defense Forces (SDF), the military of the autonomous Kurdish government that controls northeastern Syria.

Today, the Islamic State possesses a scant 2,500–3,500 fighters across Iraq and Syria, according to UN estimates, and is believed incapable of mounting large-scale attacks [PDF] in either country. Instead, its threat has been overshadowed by that of its affiliates in Afghanistan and parts of Africa. Experts say the group aims to rebuild by liberating the large numbers of its members detained in Syria and radicalizing residents of SDF-run facilities for refugees and internally displaced persons (IDPs). Its most notable attempt, in January 2022, freed dozens of prisoners before the combined forces of the United States, the United Kingdom (UK), and the SDF secured the facility.


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African, Caribbean nations call for reparations for colonial slavery

Friday, 28 July 2023

Representatives from African and Caribbean organizations have demanded reparations for slavery and its legacy in today's society.

The University of the West Indies (UWI), the Economic, Social and Cultural Council of the African Union (AU), the Government of Barbados, the grant-making network Open Society Foundations, and the Caribbean Pan-African Network joined together in the capital of Barbados, Bridgetown, to demand reparations for these "historical crimes".

In a statement, the UWI said the meeting in Bridgetown, from Monday to Thursday, included strategy and plenary sessions and was the start of a "ground-breaking" transcontinental campaign.

The ambassadors and representatives from AU member states and the Caribbean Community Political and economic union (CARICOM) were present at the ceremony.

Hilary Beckles, head of the CARICOM reparations commission, told a news conference on Thursday that the meeting is a historic event that is necessary for humanity.

"This is a historic moment... humanity cannot go forward with all the toxic interferences of colonization. We have to clean up this mess to allow humanity to function," she said.

The CARICOM reparations commission, which was set up to seek reparations from former colonial powers such as Britain, France, and Portugal, "sees the persistent racial victimization of the descendants of slavery and genocide as the root cause of their suffering today", it said in its 10-point reparation plan.

The UWI statement said that the outcomes of the meeting include a proposal for a roadmap for expanded cooperation between the African Union and CARICOM.

YousseoufMandoha, an AU official, said: "It is crucial to recognize how slavery, colonialism, and racism intersect and impact the lives of Black people around the world."

From the 15th to the 19th century, at least 12.5 million Africans were kidnapped and forcibly transported by European ships and traders and were enslaved.

Those who survived the brutal journey were eventually employed on plantations under inhumane conditions in the Americas, mainly in Brazil and the Caribbean, while others profited from their labor.

Barbados, where the meeting was held, received 600,000 African slaves between 1627 and 1833, who worked on sugar plantations for English owners and made a fortune for them.

The Caribbean island ditched Britain's late Queen Elizabeth as head of government in 2021 and renewed its campaign for reparations.

The idea of paying reparations or other compensation for slavery has a long history, but the movement is gaining momentum around the world.

The European Union said earlier this month that Europe's slave-trading past caused "untold suffering" to millions of people and called for reparations for what it described as "crimes against humanity".


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US nuclear test’s fallout reached as far as Canada and Mexico, study finds

Thursday, 27 July 2023

A recent study has exposed the widespread devastation caused by the US military’s secretive detonation of its first nuclear bomb in New Mexico with radioactive particles reaching as far as Canada and Mexico.

The study, released last week ahead of submission to a scientific journal for peer review, shows that the cloud and its fallout went farther than anyone in the Manhattan Project had imagined in 1945, The New York Times reported.

The study’s authors used state-of-the-art modeling software and recently uncovered historical weather data. They stated that radioactive fallout from the Trinity test reached 46 states, Canada and Mexico within 10 days of detonation.

“It’s a huge finding and, at the same time, it shouldn’t surprise anyone,” said the study’s lead author, Sébastien Philippe, who is a researcher and scientist at Princeton University’s Program on Science and Global Security.

The test, which was carried out in New Mexico on July 16, 1945, caused widespread environmental contamination and population exposure.

The study was led by the Program on Science and Global Security (SGS), at Princeton University.

The research used “high resolution reanalyzed historical weather fields, US government data, complex atmospheric modeling” in order to understand the distribution of radioactive fallout in the days following the historical nuclear test, according to reports.

According to the research, within a span of 10 days following the nuclear test a mushroom cloud as high as 50,000 – 70,000 feet was formed dispersing radioactive particles up to Canada and Mexico.

Plutonium carried by wind from the location of the Trinity test reached Crawford Lake in Canada on July 20, 1945, the study found.

As a result of the Trinity test, infant mortality in New Mexico shot by 56 percent between 1944 and 1945.

The Trinity test and other nuclear tests that followed were a part of the secret Manhattan program, a United States government project focused on the development of the atomic bomb.

Following Trinity, there were 93 more atmospheric tests conducted in Nevada which saw nuclear fallout distributed across the US by radioactive mushroom clouds.

The report confirms that the United States government also carried 45 “air burst” tests, which involved detonating nuclear bombs tipped on rockets in the Earth’s upper atmosphere.

As per a shocking detail, the US government reportedly had volunteers stand under one such air burst explosion to study the health impacts it would have on the individuals exposed directly to the deadly nuclear radiations.

From 1945 to 1962, the time period analyzed by the researchers, there were 101 nuclear tests conducted by the US military.

Myriad underground nuclear weapons which have not been included in the study form a significant portion of the US nuclear arms.

During 1951-1998, Washington blew up more than 800 subterranean nuclear weapons, the Libertarian Institute reported.

Philippe said, “Our results show the significant contribution of the Trinity fallout to the total deposition density across the contiguous U.S….and in New Mexico in particular.”

"How much of Trinity’s fallout still remains at original deposition sites across the country is difficult to calculate," said Susan Alzner, an author of the study.

Almost 500,000 people lived within 150 miles of Trinity’s explosion. Some families lived as close as 12 miles away. Yet no civilians were warned about the test ahead of time, and they weren’t evacuated before or after the test, the New York Times reported.

The US government lied to the locals about the explosion saying that it was an accident that occurred at a neighboring ammunition depot.

The victims were afflicted with various diseases including cancer and are paying the price ever since.

 According to Responsible Statecraft, a US think tank, “When the initial shock wore off, [locals] returned to their daily lives. They drank from cisterns full of radioactive debris, ate beef from cattle that had grazed on the dust for weeks on end, and breathed air full of tiny plutonium particles. Only later would the real impact become clear.”

The study also documents significant radioactive deposition in other US states including Nevada, Utah, Wyoming, Colorado, Arizona, and Idaho, as well as dozens of federally-recognized tribal lands.

On August 9, 1945, a replica of the plutonium-239 implosion device tested in Trinity, was dropped on Nagasaki by the United States. This bomb called "Fat Man" instantly killed about 40,000 people, and at least 30,000 more died due to injuries and radiation poisoning by the end of that year.

On August 6, 1945, almost a month after the Trinity test, the US dropped a uranium-235 gun assembly bomb, known as the "Little Boy," on the Japanese city of Hiroshima. The bomb killed 70,000 people immediately, and due to subsequent exposure to nuclear radiation, the death toll rose to more than 135,000.


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Southeast Asia


Najib withdraws appeal over legal challenge to attend Parliament

Friday, 28 Jul 2023

PUTRAJAYA, July 28 — Former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak has withdrawn his appeal to the Court of Appeal for leave to commence a legal challenge over the Prisons Department’s refusal to allow his request to attend Parliament sittings.

The notice of discontinuance of the appeal was filed last July 12 by Messrs Shafee& Co, the legal firm representing Najib.

The court and Attorney General’s Chambers, appearing for the Malaysian government, the minister of home affairs and the Commissioner General of Prisons, have been notified of the withdrawal.

On October 27 last year, the High Court in Kuala Lumpur dismissed the former prime minister's application to obtain leave to commence a judicial review to challenge the Prisons Department's refusal to allow his request to attend Parliament sitting.

Judge Datuk Ahmad Kamal Md Shahid held that Najib's application was academic as he ceased to be a member of Parliament following the dissolution of Parliament on October 1 last year which had paved the way for the 15th general election which was subsequently held the following month.

The High Court judge also said that unless and until pardon is given or Najib's conviction is quashed upon review, there is no possibility that he will again be a Member of Parliament, adding that the law prohibits any convicted person to contest for election.

Najib filed the application on October 5 last year and named the Malaysian government, the home minister and the Commissioner General of Prisons as the first, second and third respondent, respectively.

He was seeking an order to quash the decision of the third respondent to not allow him access to his officers/aides for the purposes of parliamentary, legislative and constituency work.

Najib is currently serving 12 years jail sentence in Kajang Prison after the Federal Court upheld his conviction and jail term and RM120 million fine for misappropriating SRC International SdnBhd funds. ― Bernama


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Malaysia, Philippines set to boost Islamic banking, halal trade with focus on Bangsamoro


Malaysia and the Philippines are set to boost Islamic banking and Halal trade with focus on the autonomous Bangsamoro region, as agreed during an official visit to Malaysia by Philippines President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.

“We’re strengthening ties with Malaysia across multiple fronts, including our shared commitment to peace and security,” said Marcos on Thursday.

His statement came after he held meetings with Malaysian Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim in Kuala Lumpur during a three-day visit which concluded on Thursday.

“We are resolute … in empowering the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao with capacity-building initiatives, especially in sectors such as the Halal industry, Islamic banking, and food security,” Marcos wrote on Twitter. Halal refers to food and other goods prepared under Muslim guidelines.

Malaysia is a major player in the halal industry, and Bangsamoro is an autonomous Muslim-majority region in the southern Philippines with a population of around 5 million.

Marcos also emphasized the centrality of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and said Manila and Kuala Lumpur are “resolute” in upholding this.

Accompanying Marcos, Filipino Parliament Speaker Ferdinand Martin G. Romualdez said that the Philippines-Malaysia partnership in the halal industry “will generate more jobs and business opportunities for both countries.”

“The halal industry holds immense potential. By working together, we can capitalize on the halal market's vast opportunities, creating new avenues for trade, investment and employment,” said Romualdez.

Marcos’s office said in a statement that the Philippines received commitments of around $285 million in investment from Malaysian businesses during his visit.


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Madani Economy plan may be a precursor to Budget 2024, say securities firms

Friday, 28 Jul 2023

KUALA LUMPUR, July 28 — Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim’s Madani Economy may be a precursor to a more detailed targeted subsidy plan in the upcoming Budget 2024, and worth paying close attention to in the months ahead.

In a research note, CGS-CIMB Securities SdnBhd said the Madani Economy outlines socio-economic initiatives through raising economic complexity, creating a conducive investment environment and enhancing economic resilience, while prioritising social aspects through equitability, raising social protection and improving social mobility.

It said the Madani Economy forms the basis for upcoming plans, including the New Industrial Master Plan 2030 in August, the midterm review of the 12th Malaysia Plan in September and Budget 2024 in October.

“These announcements will provide a clearer view of the government’s policy direction and, if well received, could be a catalyst for better ringgit performance.

“We make no changes to our 2023 gross domestic product (GDP) forecast of 4.6 per cent year-on-year (y-o-y) and 2024 GDP forecast at 4.6 per cent,” it said.

Meanwhile, Malacca Securities SdnBhd said the local bourse remained upbeat following the launch of the Madani Economy framework and the National Energy Transition Roadmap to boost the Malaysian economy.

“We gather that several initiatives such as allowing the trading of smaller size lots and fractional shares as well as enabling automatic transitions for companies listed on the ACE Market to the Main Market will boost trading interest within Bursa Malaysia,” it said in a note today. — Bernama


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Education Ministry gets RM6.5b to implement school redevelopment projects from 2016 to 2023

Friday, 28 Jul 2023

KUALA LUMPUR, July 28 — The government has allocated RM6.5 billion for the implementation of 1,002 dilapidated school redevelopment projects nationwide from 2016 to 2023.

In a post on Facebook today, the Ministry of Education (MOE) said that the move is the government's commitment to address the issue of dilapidated schools through the 2023 Rolling Plan.

“(Through the 2023 Rolling Plan), a total of RM923.97 million has been allocated for the implementation of 417 new and extension projects nationwide,” according to the post.

In addition, the MOE said that educational facilities in Sabah and Sarawak have also been improved through the implementation of 327 dilapidated school building development projects, or 78 per cent of the total projects approved this year.

“As Education Minister FadhlinaSidek has stressed, the effort to maintain and upgrade dilapidated school buildings is always a priority of the MOE in order to achieve the goal of providing access to quality education for all Malaysian children, the generation that will inherit Malaysia Madani,” said the MOE. — Bernama


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