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Mullah Hibatullah’s Name Mandatory in Friday Prayer Sermon: Islamic State of Afghanistan

New Age Islam News Bureau

01 June 2022


In a new directive, the Director of the Taliban Hajj, Islamic Affairs and Endowments has ordered the preachers at the Ghazni congregational mosques that mentioning the name of Taliban leader Mullah Hibatullah Akhundzadah in the Friday prayer sermon is mandatory.


• ‘Save the Republic’ Campaign: Heat Rising Over Kerala Rally, PFI in No Mood to Backtrack On ‘Campaign against RSS’

• Why Do We Treat White Supremacists Differently To Islamist Extremists?

• Pakistani Army, Not Govt, To Call Shots over Appointment of Next Chief As Bajwa Retires In November

• Israeli Premier Publishes Classified UN Atomic Agency Documents Allegedly Stolen By Iran

 South Asia

• Bangladesh War Crimes Tribunal Sentences 3 to Death Over 1971 Atrocities

• Taliban Forces Kill Four NRF Members in Badakhshan Province

• The Taliban Arrests a Group for Killing Two People in Ghor Province

• The Taliban Prevents the Smuggling of 50 Trucks Carrying Wheat to Pakistan

• The Taliban Returns 12 Low-quality Fuel Trucks to Iran

• Iran and Tajikistan Stress the Formation of an Inclusive Government in Afghanistan



• Against Law: Congress leader Rasheed Khan Seeks to Reopen Charminar Mosque for Prayers

• Hyderabad police registers case against BJP’s Nupur Sharma over comments on Prophet

• Gyanvapi Mosque-Shringar Gauri Temple Case Leads To Divided Opinions within the Holy City of Kashi

• Mosque or Temple Won't Fill Stomach: Musicians Lament Loss of Kashi's Old Culture

• Temple under Malali mosque? Mangaluru court starts hearing plea

• Another plea seeking ‘puja’ rights at Kashi Madhav temple filed

• Fresh Petition in Mathura District Court Seeks Early Survey at Shahi Idgah Mosque

• Muslim Minors Detained After Khargone Communal Violence Allege Brutality at Juvenile Home

• Jama Masjid's Shahi Imam Writes To ASI for Repair of Finial That Got Damaged In Thunderstorm



• Russian Orthodox Patriarch’s Words Reflect Growing Role of Islam in Moscow’s Thinking since Start of Putin’s War In Ukraine

• Russia plans to restore mosques in Donbass

• Saudi Arabia ready to help with diplomatic solution in Ukraine: FM to Russia’s Lavrov



• Pakistan striving to boost unity among Muslim Ummah: Shehbaz Sharif

• Imran Khan's supporters were carrying automatic weapons at Azadi rally, says Pak defence minister

• Pakistan govt, TTP agree to extend ceasefire indefinitely amidst ongoing negotiations to end militancy

• Tribal jirga to join ongoing talks between TTP, govt in Kabul

• Govt shocks consumers with Rs213 per litre hike in cooking oil prices

• PTI govt ‘knew about controversial Israel trip’, claims organiser

• Senate body condemns use of force against PTI marchers

• PM sees $5bn trade potential with Turkey

• Stricter punishments for offences against children as KP Assembly passes bill

• Pakistan can’t progress until Imran is in politics: Maryam



• Hamas refuses to commit to calm amid Israeli escalation

• Anger grows over ‘unjust’ Israeli travel bans on Palestinians in West Bank, Gaza

• Iran: Israel's Pressures Deviate IAEA Reports from Technical Approach

• Iran confirms contact with US over nuclear talks

• ECHR condemns Turkey over amnesty activist’s ‘unlawful’ detention

• Iran urges Greece to cooperate over seized ships without US role


Southeast Asia

• Celebrity Islamic Preacher Da’i Syed Acquitted and Discharged On Two Unnatural Sex Charges

• Malaysia strongly condemns Israeli incursion at Al-Aqsa mosque

• Malaysia 'a home away from home' for Azerbaijan siblings

• London lawyer seeks to lead Najib’s SRC International final appeal

• PM’s call to get King’s consent to dissolve Dewan Rakyat, says ex-judge


Arab World

• Syrian Islamist Mercenaries Say Ready to Back Turkish Operation In Rojava

• Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs highlights adherence to moral principles

• Danish Supreme Court rejects Iraqi torture compensation

• Lebanon parliament re-elects Nabih Berri as speaker



• HRW Urges ICC to Probe Alleged Use of Mines in Libya War

• Tunisia's major labour union declares general strike on June 16

• Jordanian foreign minister arrives in Ramallah for talks


North America

• US Lawmakers Urge State Dept. To Stop Israeli 'War Crime' In Masafer Yatta

• Senators introduce bill banning US taxpayer funds from being spent for Iran deal

• US plays down Israeli report, commits to reopening consulate in Jerusalem

• US warns talks on Yemen truce in ‘trouble’

• US denies shelving plans for de facto Palestinian Embassy

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau



Mullah Hibatullah’s Name Mandatory in Friday Prayer Sermon: Islamic State of Afghanistan


In a new directive, the Director of the Taliban Hajj, Islamic Affairs and Endowments has ordered the preachers at the Ghazni congregational mosques that mentioning the name of Taliban leader Mullah Hibatullah Akhundzadah in the Friday prayer sermon is mandatory.


By Saqalain Eqbal

31 May 2022

In a new directive, the Director of the Taliban Hajj, Islamic Affairs and Endowments has ordered the preachers at the Ghazni congregational mosques that mentioning the name of Taliban leader Mullah Hibatullah Akhundzadah in the Friday prayer sermon is mandatory.

If the clerics defy the order, officials from the Taliban Information and Culture Directorate for Ghazni province have warned that they will face serious consequences.

During a meeting at the Hajj, Islamic Affairs and Endowment Office on Monday, May 30, Mawlawi Abdul Manan Madani, the Director of the Hajj, Islamic Affairs and Endowment Office in Ghazni province, told the congregational mosque preachers and mullahs that the Taliban had already provided the text if they delivered a sermon.

The Taliban have issued mandatory orders with threatening warnings against various segments of the population, especially women, during their nine months in power.

The Taliban’s mandate to enforce the hijab, the forced covering of female performers, the denial of girls’ access to education, the torture of journalists, and the intimidation of former soldiers are among the things that have hampered the Taliban’s international legitimacy because they are flagrant breaches of human rights in the eyes of the UN and international community, as well as Human Rights Watch.

Source: Khaama Press

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‘Save the Republic’ Campaign: Heat Rising Over Kerala Rally, PFI in No Mood To Backtrack On ‘Campaign Against RSS’


The controversial slogans raised by a minor boy during a rally by the People's Front of India in Kerala has brought into spotlight a campaign it has been running for the past six months called 'Save the Republic'.


By Shaju Philip

May 31, 2022

The controversial slogans raised by a minor boy during a massive rally by the People’s Front of India (PFI) in Alappuzha last week has brought into the spotlight a campaign it has been running for the past six months called ‘Save the Republic’. Meant to ensure “Muslims the rights envisaged in the Constitution”, among other topics, the campaign has now evolved into a full-blown offensive against the RSS.

The PFI, facing cases over the rally, has disowned only the wording and style of the slogans raised, not the content – with the belief in PFI circles being that “RSS terrorism” needs to be strongly countered.

PFI state president C P Muhammed Basheer told the media: “We are not ready for any compromise. The RSS cannot silence the PFI. Let the RSS denounce its ideology of hate.”

He also said that Muslims in the country were “fighting for existence”, and that neither the CPM-led LDF nor the Congress-led UDF could put up a strong fight against the RSS. “Our fight is to protect Constitutional values and rights. Recent developments show that the country is in the final stages of being declared a Hindu Rashtra,” he said.

After police booked two PFI leaders, including its Alappuzha district president Vandanam Navaz, in connection with the Alappuzha rally, the PFI held protests across many locations in Kerala. On Saturday, police took away the father of the boy who raised the contested slogans from their residence in Kochi. The father told the media his son “had taken part in agitations against the CAA and the slogans were against the threat created by the Sangh Parivar, and not against any community”.

Over the past 15 years, the PFI has assumed many roles in the state, such as of a social crusader, moral police, and champion of Muslim and Dalit causes. The emergence of the Sangh Parivar has lately helped it project itself as the only Muslim answer to it. The alternative, the Indian Union Muslim League, still the largest political party of Kerala Muslims, treads a more moderate line being part of mainstream politics and an ally of the Congress.

The PFI’s enmity with the RSS goes way back in Kerala, with the body and its earlier version, the National Development Front (NDF), and the Sangh Parivar involved in a series of killings and counter-killings. The NDF, in fact, was launched two years after the Babri Masjid demolition, and the issue has remained central to the PFI. It marks the December 6, 1992, demolition every year, among the only Muslim organisations in Kerala to still do so.

Now, the PFI has taken the lead on the Kashi Vishwanath temple-Gyanvapi mosque row, which has resurfaced following a series of court petitions. It has been telling the Muslim community that its warnings regarding the intentions of the Sangh have come true, and that the Babri demolition was just the start of what was to follow. PFI leaders admit they see the issue getting much resonance among the Muslims.

No Muslim outfit or leader in Kerala has incidentally publicly reacted on the Alappuzha slogans.

Worryingly for Kerala, the rise of the strident PFI is correspondingly fanning Islamophobia among its Christian community, which in numbers and political clout is as strong in the state as the Muslims. Various Christian churches came out with strong statements criticising the slogans raised at the Alappuzha rally.

While the LDF and UDF weigh their words, mindful of their vote banks, the ground is also getting cleared for the BJP. If the PFI claims to be the only legitimate Muslim voice, the BJP was notably the only vocal “Hindu voice” on the Alappuzha rally.

Source: Indian Express

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Why Do We Treat White Supremacists Differently To Islamist Extremists?


Many people subscribe to the idea that white people are being replaced by mass immigration in a deliberate ploy engineered by liberal elites

(Getty Images)


Rabbil Sikdar

A week after the horrific Uvalde shooting - where an alleged white supremacist targeted and murdered black Americans – Texas governor Greg Abbott described him as “the sheer face of evil.” It’s hard to disagree. Yet, calling Salvador Ramos the sheer face of evil doesn’t explain why such acts take place.

Merely a few days before this shooting, another 18-year-old, Payton Gendron, murdered ten black Americans. Both were racist atrocities committed by two young men in America, but the ideological nucleus behind Gendron’s violence bore resemblance to the Christchurch terrorist Brenton Tarrant, who murdered Muslims in New Zealand in 2019.

There are growing concerns that an increasing number of white supremacists are committing violence, or plotting to do so, against minorities. Many people subscribe to the idea that white people are being replaced by mass immigration in a deliberate ploy engineered by liberal elites. Both Gendron and Tarrant believed in the Great Replacement conspiracy theory and both were radicalised by online white extremist material. In fact, Tarrant was one of Gendron’s inspirations.

Perhaps the most fundamental aspect of their lives that deserves greater understanding is their upbringing and childhood. The negligible presence of friendships, social connections and family in their lives are an understated factor behind what turns their disillusionment into murderous violence.

In both the case of Gendron and Tarrant, what was reported were unhappy childhoods marked by absence of friendships and a social isolation that they themselves were acutely aware of.

Yet, if you try discussing this online, you are attacked for humanising white supremacists and showing sympathy for its ideology, instead of the victims. Some claim that the narrative must focus solely around how the media and other national institutions produce hateful viewpoints that normalise white supremacy, which is gradually absorbed by many young men.

That is important too, but it doesn’t explain why some young white men succumb to radicalisation. Why are some being ensnared by far-right movements while most are not?

Our response to white supremacists is markedly different to Islamist radicalisation, on both sides of the political spectrum. When it comes to Islamists, many left-wing commentators are suddenly very understanding of how young Muslims start their journey to radicalisation. For years we were told that the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq were responsible for driving Islamist extremism, that the west was paying the price for its foreign policy disasters.

The opposite applies to white supremacists. Left-wing commentators aren’t interested in their journey to extremism, but right-wing commentators are. However, blaming Islamist violence on foreign policy is no different to blaming a white supremacist attack on Islamist violence.

Islamist ideology believes that Jews are the enemy, gays are to be killed and that non-Muslims can never be trusted. It isn’t that different from white supremacism. Both ideologies draw young, disillusioned young men, because they want belonging and identity. Many progressive commentators rightly understood this about Islamists. But now they cannot bring themselves to apply the same understanding to socially isolated young white males.

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Trying to understand what is drawing disenfranchised white men to these movements does not mean people are sympathising or even humanising them. It just means people are searching for answers on how to stop more atrocities. Otherwise we are stuck in an unending loop of discovering that an angry young white male has purchased a gun and violently played out his darkest thoughts. We will continue counting the cost of not trying to fix this problem because we were too afraid to be seen as humanising them.

Our attempts at understanding why some men become drawn to violence has become deeply influenced by the politics of the perpetrator. That is counterproductive to understanding the problem.

Unless you believe that everyone is born violent and evil, it’s a natural assumption that something drives people into dark places. Is it not worth shining a light on this and stopping it as much as we can?

Source: Independent UK

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Pakistani Army, Not Govt, To Call Shots over Appointment of Next Chief As Bajwa Retires In November


Pakistani Army, not govt, to call shots over appointment of next chief as Bajwa retires in November


31 May, 2022

Islamabad [Pakistan], May 31 (ANI): With the race for the appointment of Pakistan’s new Army Chief on, it is highly likely that Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, who is constitutionally permitted to select the Chief, will not play any role and the Army itself will call the shots.

The Pakistani Army, not only decides on who will be the new Army Chief, but also on all activities relating to the government. The Army remained neutral on the ouster of former Prime Minister Imran Khan but now it seems to be taking a U-turn and getting back to its old game.

Pakistan’s economy which is in shambles with rising inflation is also a matter at hand that concerns the Army. There is good reason for the Army to be worried because without money their own survival is at stake.

Meanwhile, it also seems to be clear that Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif will act on the directions of the Pakistani Army. However, the worry remains the state of the Pakistani economy. Without that foundation, no amount of politicking will help the Army stick to its position as the supreme power in Pakistan, reported Islam Khabar.

The influence of the Pakistani Army remains was evident when Major General Babar Iftikhar, Director General, Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) while addressing a media briefing (14 April 2022), said that Army Chief General Qamar Bajwa and Lt. Gen. Nadeem Anjum, DG ISI were approached by the Prime Minister’s Office when the ‘deadlock’ was on.

The recent shift in the national politics of Pakistan was widely reported as triggered by power play between Imran Khan and leading figures in the country’s powerful military establishment — Army Chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa, and the former head of intelligence services (ISI) Lt General Faiz Hameed.

Hameed, who was widely expected to replace Bajwa, got replaced in October by Lt General Nadeem Ahmad Anjum against Imran Khan’s wishes. Last month, Khan became the first Prime Minister in Pakistan’s history to be ousted from power after losing a no-confidence vote in the country’s Parliament.

Khan was later charged with blasphemy on April 28 after his supporters allegedly hounded the new Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif in Saudi Arabia’s Madina on the same day. The power struggles are continuing among the opposing factions in Pakistan’s establishment.

After Khan’s ouster, Lt General Anjum has ordered his top men to launch an investigation of officials belonging to Lt General Hameed’s clique which includes officials and leaders in ISI’s secret Desk.

Last year, reports had surfaced of an alleged standoff between the military and the government over the appointment of Lt Gen Nadeem Anjum as the new ISI chief.

The army had announced on October 6, 2021, that the former ISI chief, Lt Gen Faiz Hameed, had been appointed the Peshawar corps commander, while Lt Gen Anjum was appointed in his place. But the country’s Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) had not issued an official notification of Lt Gen Anjum’s appointment until three weeks later, leading to frenzied speculation of strains in civil-military relations.

After delays, Pakistan’s PMO eventually notified the appointment of Lt Gen Nadeem Anjum as the new ISI chief on October 26.

According to experts in defence matters, the procedure for appointment of the ISI director general is neither mentioned in the Constitution nor the Army Act, and all previous appointments were made as per traditions under which the army chief proposes three names to the Prime Minister who then makes the final decision, Dawn newspaper reported. Imran Khan, who was elected as the Prime Minister in 2018, was ousted through the no-trust motion by the opposition alliance last month. (ANI)

Source: The Print

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Israeli Premier Publishes Classified UN Atomic Agency Documents Allegedly Stolen By Iran




Burak Dag 



The Israeli prime minister on Tuesday published documents allegedly testifying that Iran stole the UN atomic agency's classified record and evaded probes by the watchdog.

Naftali Bennett shared on Twitter a link to files he claimed to be stolen International Atomic Energy Agency documents, along with Persian-language Iranian records. He also posted a video in which he is holding the documents said to be seized from Iran by the Israeli spy agency Mossad.

On Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian refuting Israel's claims as lies, Bennett said: "Spreading lies? Come on, I am holding right here the proof of your lies in my hands."

He added: "You see, after Iran stole classified documents from the UN’s Atomic Energy, Iran used that information to figure out what the Atomic Agency was hoping to find and then created cover stories and hid evidence to evade their nuclear probes."

He said Israel seized "Iran’s deception plan a few years back," referring to Mossad’s operation in which it said to have seized documents about Iran's nuclear program from a warehouse in Tehran in 2018.

The Wall Street Journal on Wednesday reported that Iran's nuclear files seized by Mossad in 2018 included the documents related to stolen IAEA documents, which were marked confidential.

Noting that hundreds of pages of the documents are “marked with a stamp of Iran’s Ministry of Intelligence,” Bennett said: “There is even some handwritten notes on the documents, by senior Iranian officials like this one written by then-defense minister Fakhrizadeh.”

In November 2020, Iran’s top nuclear scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh was killed by unidentified gunmen on the outskirts of Tehran. Most Iranian officials held Israel responsible for the killing, vowing a fierce response.

"Sooner or later they (referring to the Atomic Agency) will ask us and we’ll need to have a comprehensive cover story for them," Bennett quoted a note by Fakhrizadeh on the documents seized.

He said "Iran lied to the world, Iran is lying to the world again right now, and the world must make sure that Iran doesn’t get away scot-free."

Marathon talks in Vienna to revive the 2015 nuclear deal, also known as joint comprehensive plan of action (JCPOA), are currently stalled due to key disagreements between Tehran and Washington.

On May 25, US Special Representative for Iran Robert Malley, who led more than a year of indirect talks with Iran, said that the prospects of reviving the 2015 Iran nuclear deal are "tenuous" at best.

Former US President Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew from the JCPOA in 2018.

Source: Anadolu Agency

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South Asia

Bangladesh war crimes tribunal sentences 3 to death over 1971 atrocities


31 May, 2022

Dhaka, May 31 (PTI) Bangladesh’s International Crimes Tribunal on Tuesday sentenced three persons to death for collaborating with the Pakistan Army and committing crimes against humanity during the country’s Liberation War in 1971.

“One of the convicts is a fugitive and was tried in absentia but the other two faced the trial in person…they all were activists of Jamaat-e-Islami (party),” senior prosecutor Syed Haider Ali said.

Jamaat-e-Islami was opposed to Bangladesh’s 1971 independence from Pakistan while its activists were the key-elements of Pakistan military’s auxiliary units like Razakar and Gestapo-like Al-Badar forces.

A three-member panel of the tribunal led by Justice Shahinur Islam pronounced the verdict ordering the convicts to be hanged by neck until their death.

The convicts are in their late 60s and 70s and were known little to the public unlike the several other high-profile Jamaat leaders tried earlier while they carried out their atrocities as Razakars in northwestern Naogaon district.

The prosecution lawyers said of the three convicts, Rezaul Karim alias Montu, was on the run. Karim was the one who led a Razakar unit in the neighbourhood of his ancestral Naogaon district, while the other two convicts — Shahid Mandol and Nazrul Islam — were his accomplices.

Montu was a student of northwestern Rajshahi University in 1971 and leader of Jamaat’s student wing Islami Chhatra Sangha.

Under Bangladesh’s war crimes law, the convicts could appeal against the verdict in the apex Appellate Division of the Supreme Court.

The counsels of the three convicts said they were preparing to challenge the judgment in consultation with their clients.

Bangladesh in 2010 set up two high-powered tribunals, initiating the trial process to bring to justice the collaborators of the Pakistani Army which committed war crimes in the 1971 War of Liberation. The two tribunals have so far delivered judgments in 46 cases.

The tribunals handed down death penalties in most of the cases, while in few cases the convicts were jailed “until death” in view of their old ages.

Only six convicts have been executed so far after exhaustion of their appeals, review petitions and clemency petitions to the Bangladesh president, while 22 convicts and 53 accused still remained absconding.

Source: The Print

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Taliban Forces Kill Four NRF Members in Badakhshan Province

By Saqalain Eqbal

31 May 2022

Four members of the National Resistance Front were killed during a clearing operation by the Taliban forces in Badakhshan province’s Tagab district, according to Taliban security officials.

The incident occurred this morning, Tuesday, 31st May, according to the Bakhtar state news agency.

The National Resistance Front’s hideout has also been demolished in the area, according to the news agency.

The Taliban’s Director of Information and Culture in Badakhshan, Moizuddin Ahmadi, confirmed the report, adding that their air force commander was also participating in the operation.

The Taliban’s allegation of killing four National Resistance Front members and demolishing of the group’s hideout has elicited no response from the National Resistance Front.

The Resistance Front, on the other hand, recently claimed to have killed Taliban fighters in an ambush in Panjshir province.

According to Ali Maysam Nazari, the Resistance Front’s head of foreign relations, the Front’s forces killed more than 15 Taliban fighters on the outskirts of Panjshir yesterday.

The Taliban have yet to respond to the resistance’s assertion.

Source: Khaama Press

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The Taliban Arrests a Group for Killing Two People in Ghor Province

By Saqalain Eqbal

01 Jun 2022

Ghor province Taliban officials are said to have arrested a group of six people in connection with the murder of two brothers in the province.

Officials believe that the two brothers were killed while irrigating their fields in the village of Deh Haji in the Chahar Sada district on Monday night, May 30.

The two brothers, Zamanuddin and Khayaluddin, were killed for personal animosity reasons, according to the Taliban provincial chief of police in Ghor.

A group of six people has been arrested in connection with the murder investigation of the two brothers, according to the security officials in Ghor province.

Three more civilians have been killed by gunmen in Ghor’s Passaband district in the last two days.

Source: Khaama Press

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The Taliban Prevents the Smuggling of 50 Trucks Carrying Wheat to Pakistan

By Saqalain Eqbal

31 May 2022

The Taliban security officials in Helmand province claim to have prevented 50 wheat-laden trucks from unlawfully crossing the border.

On Monday, May 30, the wheat trucks were captured on the Herat-Kandahar highway, according to Hafiz Rashid Helmandi, the Taliban’s Director of Information and Culture for Helmand province.

He further said that the vehicles were loaded in the “Company” area of Helmand province’s Washir district and to be taken to Pakistan.

Despite the fact that wheat smuggling to Pakistan has been prevented, Afghanistan is in urgent need of imported flour and wheat.

According to the World Food Program, one in every two Afghans does not know when their next meal will be and where will it come from.

The Taliban recently claimed that they have ceased exporting wheat to other countries due to rising unemployment and an increase in the community’s population, citing food security as a reason.

Source: Khaama Press

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The Taliban Returns 12 Low-quality Fuel Trucks to Iran

By Saqalain Eqbal

31 May 2022

According to Taliban security authorities in Nimroz province, 12 fuel trucks imported from Iran were found to be carrying poor quality fuels and were barred from entering Afghanistan.

After being evaluated at the Norm and Standards Department laboratory, 12 trucks carrying 500,000 liters of fuel imported from Iran were discovered to be of low quality, according to Qari Abdul Rahim Hudhaifa, director of crime control at the Taliban chief of police office in Nimroz province.

In the presence of the Taliban governor for the province, the provincial police chief, the National Directorate of Security representative, customs, and the Norm and Standard department, he added, this amount of fuel was returned to Iran.

Previously, at a meeting the economic commission, chaired by Taliban Deputy Prime Minister Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, decided that a team would be responsible for identifying low-quality petroleum products and prohibiting the import of low-quality oil and gas.

Oil truck drivers have expressed their dissatisfaction with the Taliban’s move, which was made without preconditions.

One of the drivers, Osman, believes that oil importers’ responsibilities should be established by law.

Source: Khaama Press

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Iran and Tajikistan Stress the Formation of an Inclusive Government in Afghanistan

By Saqalain Eqbal

31 May 2022

The presidents of Islamic Republic of Iran and the Republic of Tajikistan met in Tehran and stressed the need of establishing an inclusive government in Afghanistan.

“Our common position on Afghanistan is that an inclusive government must be formed that represents all parties, groups, and ethnic groups,” incumbent Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi stated at the conference, according to the Tasnim news agency.

He continued by stating that the security of Afghanistan is particularly important to Iran and Tajikistan, and that the presence of terrorists in Afghanistan is a matter of concern.

President Raisi stated in a statement that the United States’ 20-year presence in Afghanistan has brought nothing except conflict, bloodshed, and destruction.

Tehran and Dushanbe, he remarked, have a common vision to countering terrorism, drugs, and organized crimes.

Furthermore, Tajik President Emomali Rahmon described the current circumstance in the region and around the world as sensitive, emphasizing the importance of Tajik-Iranian security cooperation.

Iran and Tajikistan are both concerned about the current situation in Afghanistan, he noted.

President Rahmon further added that the two countries share the aim of establishing a comprehensive and inclusive administration in Afghanistan that includes members from all ethnic, social, and political groups.

“We believe that ensuring the rights and freedoms of all Afghans is a key factor in maintaining long-term peace and stability in the country,” he continued.

Source: Khaama Press

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Against Law: Congress leader Rasheed Khan Seeks To Reopen Charminar Mosque For Prayers

Ashish Pandey


May 31, 2022

The Telangana BJP has come out strongly against Congress leader Rasheed Khan’s demand to reopen the mosque inside the Charminar in Hyderabad.

“The Charminar is a historical monument and thousands visit it. The Archeological Survey of India (ASI) closed down the mosque for prayers to safeguard it and avoid inconvenience to tourists during prayer times. It should be noted that prayers have not been offered in the Charminar for years. At declared monuments, prayers are not offered as it is against the law,” the spokesperson of the Telangana BJP, NV Subhash, said.

“Prayers have been happening peacefully at the Bhaygalakshmi temple on the Charminar premises and at the Mecca Masjid. Rashed Khan wants to vitiate the peaceful atmosphere of the city by raising and demanding the reopening of the mosque for prayers just to garner some votes,” Subhash alleged.

Khan began a signature campaign at the historic Mecca masjid near Charminar, saying, “It is our constitutional right to freely profess, practice and propagate religion.”

“Devotees should be allowed to offer the five daily prayers, which are mandatory in Islam,” he demanded.

Source: India Today

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Hyderabad police registers case against BJP’s Nupur Sharma over comments on Prophet

31st May 2022

Hyderabad: The Cybercrimes department of the Hyderabad police has registered a case against BJP National Spokesperson Nupur Sharma for her alleged derogatory and blasphemous remarks against the founder of Islam Prophet Mohammed.

Taking cognizance of a TV debate on a National TV Channel broadcasted on May 27, 2022, a suo-moto case under IPC sections 153(A) (Promoting enmity between two groups), 504 (Intentional insult with intent to provoke breach of the peace) 505(2) (Statements creating or promoting enmity, hatred or ill will between classes) and 506 (criminal intimidation) has been registered against her.

P Ravindar, Sub-Inspector of Police cyber crimes in his complaint with the SHO Cybercrimes alleged that on a TV channel debate Nupur Sharma had used abusive words against the Prophet Mohammed insulting Islam.

“The malicious statement of Sharma hurts the sentiments and feelings of Muslims. her statement has enraged and offended all Muslims and the Muslim community cannot bear any insult against the Prophet,” he said.

The SI in his complaint also said that she targeted the beliefs and tenets of Islam with an intention of creating disharmony, feelings enmity, hatred and ill-will between the Muslims and non-Muslims. Since then, the video of her statement has gone viral and was being widely circulated on the internet.

Source: Siasat Daily

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Gyanvapi Mosque-Shringar Gauri Temple Case Leads To Divided Opinions Within The Holy City Of Kashi

Rakhi Bose

01 JUN 2022

The Gyanvapi mosque-Shringar Gauri temple case has led to divided opinions within the holy city of Kashi. The city, home to several temples and priestly families that have taken care of these temple complexes for centuries, has been in the eye of a political slugfest after five Hindu women moved a local court in Varanasi, seeking permission to pray at Sringar Gauri complex located inside the mosque premises.

While the debate initially started with the right for Hindus to pray at the Shringar Gauri complex, located at a western wall in the backside of the mosque, the discovery of what the Hindu side claimed to be a shivling in the Wazoo Khana of the mosque - a spot for devotees to perform ablutions before Namaz - has led to further debate and division. So much so that the main priestly family of Mahants that has taken care of the Vishweshwar temple complex for centuries itself has become divided on the issue.

“It is a Shivling. What else could it be?” says Dr Kulpati Tiwari, the present Mahant of Kashi Vishweshwar temple. “Who are we to question where and how the Lord will emerge?" he adds.

“This temple was founded by our ancestor Narayan Bhatt in the pre-Mughal period. From then till now, my family has taken care of this temple,” Dr Tiwari states. “When Aurangzeb broke the temple, my family saved the Shivling. After the downfall of Aurangzeb, the Shivling was established again at the spot where the Vishwanath temple stands today. The spot used to be our ancestral home. When Maratha Queen Ahilya Bai Holkar from Indore came in 1780, she sought to build a temple at the same spot. And thus the temple was built and has been in the care of my family ever since,” he tells Outlook.

Mahant Rajender Tiwari, who now lives a few kilometres away from the Kashi Vishwanath complex where the family’s erstwhile home had been, agrees with this version. Tiwari, who has been a staunch opponent of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s new Kashi Vishwanath Corridor project, has been living in Lunka since their ancestral home was demolished as part of the Corridor construction. Several other members of the Mahant’s family have also been dispersed to other parts of town while Dr Kulpati Tripathi lives in a building close to the Vishwanath temple from where he runs the temple administration.

Tiwari does not agree that the object found in the Wazoo Khana during the survey of Gyanvapi’s premises is an ancient Shivling. The petitioners on the Hindu side are claiming that they went looking for Gauri (an avatar of Shiva’s wife Parvati) and found Shiva too. Some claim that the Shivling found during the survey is the original Vishwanath’s Shivling which had been lost during Aurangzeb’s time.

Rajender Tiwari, however, rubbishes the claim. “If the Shivling hidden and later established by us was the original Shivling, how are some people claiming that the object found in the Wazoo Khana is the original Shivling?"

“They are claiming this is a Dharam Yud­­dha for Hindus. Where were these Hindus when the administration was breaking down temples to build the Corr­idor? They want to start praying to the Shivling they claim to have found in the mosque. Where were these Hindus when the administration carelessly left Shivlings lying on the ground?” he asks.

Source: Outlook India

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Mosque Or Temple Won't Fill Stomach: Musicians Lament Loss Of Kashi's Old Culture

Rakhi Bose

01 JUN 2022

The stir caused by the Gyanvapi mosque-Shringar Gauri temple dispute in Varanasi has left a bad taste in the mouth of the city’s artists, musicians and local communities. As the old city of Kashi swarms with media crews and camerapersons along with throngs of cops waiting on the sidelines, some of the city’s residents lament the loss of Varanasi’s charm and intrinsic artistry to the politics of division and development.

Arun Chatterjee, a resident of Varanasi, a scribe by profession and a tabla player by passion, laments the loss of the old culture of Kashi when one could hear the sound of mridangam and pakhawaj from every house of the Old City.

"Music is in itself a way to spirituality. Many don’t have the time to go to temples of mosques. But even if one can remember god through a small bhajan, through an azaan, it’s a form of prayer. In Varanasi, such spirituality was always in currency. But today, people want symbols like mosques and temples alone to represent god," Chatterjee aserts.

Badri Narayan Pandit, another musician, adds that issues like the Gyanvapi mosque are driven by politics and often hide the real issues faced by people or communities, especially artists. “Building a temple or razing a mosque will not help us fill our stomachs. If they really want to the save the culture of Varanasi, they should focus on improving lives for the artist communities of the city that give it its distinct culture,” says Pandit.

Both Chatterjee and Pandit rehearse regularly with Mahant Viswambar Nath Mishra, the Mahant of Sankat Mochan temple in Kashi and the head of the Mechanical Engineering department at IIT BHU. Apart from being a man of God and science, Mishra is also a pakhawaj player pas excellence. He is also a vocal dissident of the recent development drives in Kashi and the current mandir-masjid politics.

Source: Outlook India

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Temple under Malali mosque? Mangaluru court starts hearing plea

01st June 2022

MANGALURU: A local court here on Tuesday started hearing a petition over the controversy related to the Jumma Masjid in Malali near Mangaluru.

A “temple-like structure” had emerged during the demolition of the centuries-old mosque.

Advocate Chidananda Kedilaya representing the petitioners said they have requested the court to order a survey of the disputed site through the court commissioner which is assisted by the archaeological department.

The objections will be heard on Wednesday. About a month ago, a petition was filed by one Dhananjaya and others, claiming that the structure of the masjid is similar to the temple and demanding an investigation by the archaeological and other concerned departments.

The petition said that the truth has to come out through investigation and till then status quo should be maintained.

Based on the petition, the court had granted an order of injunction against the mosque authorities and restrained anyone from dismantling or damaging the structure till the case is heard.

Source: New Indian Express

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Another plea seeking ‘puja’ rights at Kashi Madhav temple filed

Jun 1, 2022

VARANASI: Even as the Gyanvapi case is being heard by the Varanasi district court, a petition for seeking permission for performing puja in another structure in the city was filed on Tuesday with petitioners asking for worship at Bindu Madhav temple inside Beni Madhav-ka-Dharahara, alleging that it was destroyed by Mughal emperor Aurangzeb and converted into a mosque. The structure is an ASI-protected monument.

The court of civil judge (junior division) Akash Vermahas accepted “our petition by allotting case no. 225/2022 and fixed July 4 as the next date for hearing in this case”, said Raja Anand Jyoti Singh, the lawyer of petitioners Atul Kul, Rahul Mishra, Rajendra Prasad, Shyamji Singh and Ramesh Yadav.

Referring to history books and the ‘Varanasi Gazetteer’, the petitioners have claimed that Bindu Madhav temple of god Vishnu existed at the top of the Panchaganga Ghat along the Ganga. The temple was destroyed by Aurangzeb and a mosque was built there, they claimed.

Singh said: “The petitioners wish to restore the temple, which was destroyed by the Mughal emperor.” The petition will be heard on the day when the district judge takes up the Shringar Gauri-Gyanvapi case.

Source: Times Of India

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Fresh Petition In Mathura District Court Seeks Early Survey At Shahi Idgah Mosque

31 MAY 2022

A fresh revision petition has been filed in a district court in Uttar Pradesh's Mathura seeking a survey of the Shahi Idgah mosque and verification of claims of signs of a temple at the site.

District Government Counsel Sanjai Gaur said on Tuesday that Additional District Judge Sanjay Chaudhary has set July 8 for the petition's disposal.

Last week, while disposing of a similar application, the Judge Chaudhary had directed a lower court to speedily decide the petition for appointing a court commissioner to survey the Shahi Idgah mosque and verify the claims of temple signs there.

The fresh petition came after the lower court of civil judge (senior division), which is hearing a bunch of suits for the removal of Shahi Idgah Masjid from near the Krishna Janmabhoomi temple, on May 23 fixed the next hearing on July 1 on their application for appointing the survey commissioner.

The petitioners have been seeking an urgent order while expressing appprehension that the evidence of temple structure may be damaged or destroyed.

The judge had decided to hear the matter on the reopening of courts after the summer vacation, instead of passing an order, the counsel for petitioner Dinesh Chandra Sharma, who has now moved the district court, said. Sharma, treasurer of Akhil Bharat Hindu Mahasabha, is among those who have filed the suits.

The petitioners had claimed in the earlier application that temple signs are present in the mosque, and had also expressed apprehension that the same (marks) may be disfigured, or destroyed by the defendant of the suit, Sharma said.

It has been requested in the revision petition to cancel the order of the lower court and pass an order for the survey, the counsel for the petitioner said.

The lower court is hearing a bunch of suits for the removal of Shahi Idgah Masjid from near the Krishna Janmabhoomi temple in the Katra Keshav Dev Temple complex and subsequent interim applications for appointing a court commissioner to survey the mosque.

The petitioners have sought the mosque's survey, claiming the existence of several signs of temples, like those of "om, swastika and lotus" inside it besides its alleged "Hindu architecture".

The pleas have been filed by deity Thakur Keshav Dev Ji Maharaj virajman (in-situ) in its capacity as a juristic person, represented by advocates Mahendra Pratap Singh and Rajendra Maheshwari as its "next friend", among others.

The other petitioners included United Hindu Front founder Jai Bhagwan Goyal, a Delhi resident, and Vrindavan's Dharm Raksha Sangh president Saurabh Gaur.

Source: Outlook India

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Muslim Minors Detained After Khargone Communal Violence Allege Brutality at Juvenile Home

Sumedha Pal

New Delhi: In the aftermath of the communal violence that broke out in Madhya Pradesh’s Khargone on April 10, on the occasion of Ram Navami, the police registered approximately 72 cases and arrested nearly 200, including several minors.

In connection with stone pelting, arson and violence, 12 minors were sent to a juvenile correctional home in Khandwa after their remand at the Khandwa police station. Two brothers – 15-year-old Omair* and 17-year-old Mirza* – were among those arrested on the intervening night of April 11-12 and sent to the correctional home in Khandwa on April 14. Walking out of the facility after over 30 days, the boys allege physical violence, targeted harassment and denial of food and water.

“Bhajans were played on a mobile phone and we were made to sing those songs. We were given the Gita Gyan and were made to read it,” said Mirza. “There were 12 of us there and more boys in general, we had to make do by drinking water as we were not fed adequately. They made us do chores, asked us to sit like chicken and then beat us up too.”

Mirza and Omair allege that they suffered serious injuries while they were kept in the correctional home.

When asked the names of the officers responsible for the violence, Mirza named a certain “Bhim”. He added that they were asked questions about namaz and about people eating on the same plate. “We told them about our practices, but we were told you all eat on the same plate at weddings to conspire.”

Documents accessed by The Wire state that the youth were named in an FIR pertaining to Sections 147,149,436, 435, 427 and 336, among others, amounting to rioting, arson and mischief with intent to cause harm.

Speaking to The Wire, the boys’ advocate M.A. Khan said, “Maximum number of people were charged with section 436 amounting to arson, the case against Mirza and Omair is the same. Amid the cases we have noticed a pattern of several loopholes – including how a man who had died two years ago is also named as an accused.”

“In the case of a masjid being set on fire, Muslims have been named. Several lacunae can be seen pertaining to this investigation too, the youth were kept in the correctional homes longer than the stipulated time period and the boys have also reported violence in custody.”

Also read: In Lakhnawi Tradition, Communal Harmony in Places of Worship Leaves No Space for Hatred

He added, “We spoke to other children too, however, they appear to be traumatised as of now. These are the only examples of custodial violence as far as the minors are concerned.”

The two boys’ bail application was first rejected by the juvenile court, after which they had to approach the sessions court. Khan said they had to make another plea for bail despite some sections of the complaint being those wherein immediate relief can be sought.

Traumatised, hurting post release

“The kids had never even been touched by their parents, let alone being beaten up,” says their grandfather, determined to achieve justice for the violence his grandchildren suffered. “We had nothing to do with what happened [the communal violence], yet my family is suffering enormously.”

The grandfather of the minors and another relative have filed a complaint with the police detailing how 8-10 policemen barged into their homes and hurled abuses at them, inflicting violence and taking away minors. The family in its application has pleaded that their home was far from the site of the communal violence

Speaking to The Wire, the mother of the two boys stated, “My sons are traumatised, they are scared and physically hurting. They have pains in their chests, their backs and their legs where they were hit. Their lives are on the line now.”

The Wire reached out to the Inspector of Town at the Khargone police station B.L. Mandloi with the family’s claims. Mandloi categorically denied any allegations of physical violence in custody or at the correctional home in Khandwa. He went on to state, “There was no violence that has happened with any youth, I can confirm that minors were sent to Khandwa however, no physical violence occurred.” When asked about the number of youth taken to Khandwa, Mandloi said that he was not sure.

The Wire also tried to reach out to the correctional home in question, but the phone call did not connect.

Omair and Mirza were not the only people taken away from their home. Adults including their father and two uncles were also taken into custody the same night. The men are currently lodged in the state’s Mandaleshwar jail as the case against them is ongoing.

The family is involved in running multiple small businesses including in hardware and set up stalls at state fairs. The wife of one of the boys’ arrested uncle’s told The Wire, “I was visiting my sister’s in-laws when the violence broke out. On the intervening night of April 11-12 the police barged into our home at 1 am. They dragged out my husband’s brothers. Amidst this my husband fainted and he too was dragged out. The men were stripped and beaten up, we could hear them crying and screaming. It has been over a month, we are trying to bring them back,” she said.

Earlier this month, women in the region had also taken out a protest march demanding that the innocent minors who had been taken into custody be tried fairly and released immediately. The protestors had alleged that youth were being hauled into custody without a fair probe and proper identification.

Members of the Jama’at Islahul Muslimeen, coordinating the family’s case, alleged that the investigation in the case is one-sided and is not being done in a fair manner. A member of the organisation said, “Youth were deliberately targeted and taken into custody, many are scared to speak up and some have cases against other family members which are ongoing. One of the boys was traumatised to the extent of attempting suicide but was rescued in time. We are discovering a pattern of how these boys were kept in the stations without a proper probe and then sent off to jails.”

On April 10, communal violence broke out in Khargone as processions celebrating Ram Navami passed through Muslim-dominated localities. In the aftermath of the violence, the state government had razed homes of those it claimed were involved in stone pelting and attacking the Hindu procession.

Source: The Wire

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Jama Masjid's Shahi Imam writes to ASI for repair of finial that got damaged in thunderstorm

June 01, 2022

New Delhi: A day after the finial of the main dome of the historic Jama Masjid in the national capital was damaged and dislodged in a fierce thunderstorm, its Shahi Imam wrote to the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) on Tuesday requesting removal of the dangling part of the crown and repair of the ornamental structure that has topped the grand mosque since its construction.

Meanwhile, Delhi Waqf Board Chairman and AAP lawmaker Amanatullah Khan visited Jama Masjid located in the heart of the Walled City and inspected the damage caused to the finial.

He also went up on the terrace to see the damaged parts lying there, accompanied by other officials and a team of experts from INTACH.

"Yesterday (Monday), the dome of Jama Masjid suffered severe damage due to the stormy weather. Today, with a team of INTACH experts and Shahi Imam Syed Ahmed Bukhari, inspected the mosque premises and gave directions for the repair of the finial of the main dome. God willing, the damage to the dome shall be repaired," he tweeted.

Jama Masjid Shahi Imam Syed Ahmed Bukhari described the rampaging storm as something he had "never seen" in his entire life.

"Scared people ran to shelter themselves from the stormy weather, women and children lay huddled in the cloisters, crying. It was a horrible sight in the mosque premises. The wind was swirling and howling. Two or three people also got injured at Jama Masjid as stone parts fell off from minarets and other parts of the mosque. But, it was a nature's miracle ('kudrat ka karishma) that most people came out of it safely here," he told PTI.

Bukhari, however, lamented that the iconic Mughal-era mosque lost its finial in the storm on Monday evening, and said, "I personally felt very sad to see that the mosque without its crowning glory".

The finial, measuring about 12-15 feet, which got damaged is also from the same period as the mosque, he said.

On Tuesday, he wrote a letter to the Archaeological Survey of India, underlining the damage caused to the precious finial and sought help of the ASI in undertaking its repair.

In the letter to ASI's Director General V Vidtavathi, Bukhari has mentioned that after being broken into multiple pieces in the storm, some parts fell on the terrace below the main dome, and one very heavy part is "still hanging precariously from the dome and it may fall any time".

Bukhari, while interacting with PTI at Jama Masjid, also said for the time being entry of general visitors to the mosque has been temporarily closed as a safety measure, and, about a hundred odd people only would be allowed during the namaz, as there is a risk due to the dangling piece of the finial.

At his office, the Shahi Imam showed a smaller piece of the huge finial kept in store while two large pieces are lying on the terrace below the dome.

"The part which is still hanging from the main dome, would weigh around 350 kg, and the entire ensemble weight would have been about 500 kg. So, it is essential to remove that portion from the dome," he said.

In his letter to the ASI, marked, “most urgent”, Bukhari has cautioned that if it falls, it may damage the wall opposite it and the two adjacent turrets.

“Namaz prayers are not being allowed in the courtyard as of now, and the area near the dome has been cordoned off. Only about a hundred or so people would be allowed to offer namaz and that too inside the mosque,” he said.

In his appeal to the ASI authorities, he has urged that “immediate removal” of the “dangerously hanging part of the finial and “reinstalling it after repairs is essentially urgent”.

“I shall be grateful, if as a special case, the Archaeological Survey of India undertakes this task as expeditiously as the situation warrants,” the Shahi Imam wrote.

Asked what are the plans for repair, he said, after reading media reports about the damage caused to the finial in the storm, a private firm in Agra that specialises in repair of such historical artifacts, have also reached out to him.

In June last year also, some stone pieces from the southern minaret of Jama Masjid had fallen after a storm. In 2020 too, the mosque had suffered damage due to tremors in the city.

Meanwhile, Delhi Waqf Board Chairman Amanatullah Khan on Tuesday visited Jama Masjid located in the heart of the Walled City and inspected the damage caused to the finial. He also went up on the terrace to see the damaged parts lying there, accompanied by other officials.

A senior official of Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH) also visited and inspected the damage, the Shahi Imam said.

An architectural jewel and a very popular tourist attraction, Jama Masjid is a 17th century monument, originally named Masjid e Jehan Numah, was built by Mughal Emperor Shahjahan.

He himself had laid the foundation of stone on the strong basements of a hillock on October 6, 1650 which was a Friday. The grand mosque was completed in 1656, according to information shared by the Shahi Imam’s Office, on its history.

Source: Firstpost

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Russian Orthodox Patriarch’s Words Reflect Growing Role Of Islam In Moscow’s Thinking Since Start Of Putin’s War In Ukraine

June 1, 2022

By Paul Goble

Patriarch Kirill’s positive comments about “the pious Islamic population” of Russia in recent days reflect the increasing role of Islam in Kremlin thinking during the course of “special military operation” in Ukraine over the last three months, Andrey Melnikov says.

While the war between Russia and Ukraine has not yet taken on the form of the kind of clash of civilizations Samuel Huntington described, the editor of NG-Religii says, it is increasingly the case that Moscow is sensitive to the role of Muslims in the Russian Federation in it (

Like Christians and Jews, the Muslim community inside the Russian Federation is divided on the war, with some supporting Putin’s invasion and others very much opposed and even going to Ukraine to fight against Russian forces. But Muslims are in a very different position than are Orthodox Christians, Melnikov suggests.

Because Ukrainians are Orthodox Christians as are the Russians, this conflict is one between two Orthodox peoples. As far as Islam is concerned, however, there are far more Muslims in Russia than in Ukraine, many of whom are now serving in Russian military units there, and Muslim countries have been more supportive of Moscow than has the Christian West.

Consequently, both the Kremlin from the first days of the way and now the leadership of the ROC MP have spoken out far more warmly about the Muslims of the Russian Federation. On the one hand, this may be simply a tactical maneuver; but on the other, it may presage a new balance between Orthodoxy and Islam in Russia.

Source: Eurasia Review

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Russia plans to restore mosques in Donbass

May 31, 2022

Russia will help the Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR) to restore two Orthodox churches and two mosques. It was stated on Friday by the head of the Council of Imams of Muslim Religious Administration of the DPR, the chairman of the Muslim community of Donetsk, Rashid Bragin.

“Our imam and other representatives of the Islamic clergy of the DPR and I met with Russian Deputy Prime Minister Marat Khusnullin and, among other things, discussed the issue of restoring places of worship in the republic,” the Donetsk News Agency quotes him as saying.

Bragin noted that Russia promises to help restore the Ahat Jami mosque in Donetsk and the Suleiman the Magnificent and Roksolana mosques in Mariupol, which have repeatedly come under fire from Ukrainian troops. According to him, it is also planned to restore the Orthodox St. Iberian Convent in Donetsk and the St. Nicholas Church in Mariupol.

Source: Abna24

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Saudi Arabia ready to help with diplomatic solution in Ukraine: FM to Russia’s Lavrov

31 May, 2022

Saudi Arabia is ready to contribute to achieving a political solution to the Ukraine crisis, Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan told his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov during their meeting in Riyadh on Tuesday, state news agency SPA reported.

Prince Faisal said the Kingdom supports efforts aimed at reaching a political solution that ends the crisis and achieves security and stability.

Lavrov arrived in Riyadh after departing from Bahrain where he met with the King and Crown Prince and discussed the war in Ukraine.

Source: Al Arabiya

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Pakistan striving to boost unity among Muslim Ummah: Shehbaz Sharif

June 1, 2022

Pakistan will continue to strive to promote unity among Muslim Ummah, Pakistan's Prime Minister said, attaching great importance to Pakistan's relations with Iran and Saudi Arabia.

Speaking in an interview with Anadolu Agency, Shehbaz Sharif spoke about the latest regional developments, the situation in Afghanistan, and Pakistan's relations with important Muslim countries including Iran and Saudi Arabia.

Pakistan hosted two Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) summits within six months last year, he said, adding that Pakistan is one of the founding members of the OIC and, with its legacy rooted in the Islamic faith, has consistently supported Muslim causes.

"We have always played an active and dynamic role to re-invigorate the OIC and forging closer relations with all Muslim countries," Sharif said,

"As far as our relations with Saudi Arabi and Iran, Pakistan has excellent brotherly relations with Saudi Arabia, and we enjoy equally good relations with Iran," he also said, adding, "Our relations with both countries are deeply rooted in our shared values, faith, history, culture, and traditions."

Source: Abna24

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Imran Khan's supporters were carrying automatic weapons at Azadi rally, says Pak defence minister

May 31, 2022

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan's defence minister Khawaja Asif has claimed that protesters in the Azadi March were carrying not only guns but also automatic weapons on the orders of ousted prime minister Imran Khan.

Khan led his thousands of supporters of his Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf party to Islamabad last Wednesday in a protest and had planned to stage a sit-in until new elections were announced but abruptly called off the sit-in at the last minute after making it to the capital.

However, he had threatened to return after six days if the government failed to give a date for snap polls in the country.

In an interview to Geo TV on Monday, Asif said the protesters at the Azadi rally were carrying weapons on Khan's orders.

“Imran Khan is right, his party workers were not only carrying guns, but they also had automatic firearms. Imran Khan had asked protestors to bring weapons in the long march, however, the government was aware of that,” he said.

Asif was replying to a question on a recent interview of Khan in a private news channel in which he confirmed that his party's workers were carrying firearms during the 'Azadi March'.

Khan was removed from office in April through a no-confidence vote but he refused to accept the outcome and blamed that the US was involved in toppling his government.

Source: Times Of India

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Pakistan govt, TTP agree to extend ceasefire indefinitely amidst ongoing negotiations to end militancy

May 31, 2022

PESHAWAR: The Pakistan government and the banned Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) have agreed to extend the ceasefire indefinitely amidst ongoing negotiations between the two sides to end the nearly two decades of militancy in the tribal region, bordering Afghanistan.

The ceasefire, which was to come to an end on the night of May 30, has been extended for an indefinite period, sources told PTI.

The extension in ceasefire indicates significant progress in talks between the two sides in the Afghan capital Kabul, Dawn newspaper reported on Tuesday, citing sources familiar with the development.

The TTP, also known as the Pakistan Taliban, was set up as an umbrella group of several militant outfits in 2007. Its main aim is to impose its strict brand of Islam across Pakistan.

The group, which is believed to be close to al-Qaeda, has been blamed for several deadly attacks across Pakistan, including an attack on army headquarters in 2009, assaults on military bases and the 2008 bombing of the Marriott Hotel in Islamabad.

Citing Sources, the paper said that the two sides had agreed to extend the ceasefire and continue peace talks following separate meetings with Mullah Muhammad Hassan Akhund, acting Prime Minister of the Taliban-led Afghanistan government, at his office the other day.

These sources said that in his meetings with the two sides, the septuagenarian leader expressed his desire that the talks and ceasefire should be allowed to continue without any cut-off date.

In a subsequent joint meeting, the two sides agreed to extend the ceasefire indefinitely and pursue negotiations to end the conflict that has seen mass dislocation and killings of thousands of people in Pakistan's tribal region and the country at large.

Afghanistan's interim Taliban government spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid and TTP spokesman Muhammad Khurasani had issued statements early this month, announcing extension in the ceasefire till May 30.

No official statement has been issued so far regarding the indefinite extension in ceasefire.

The development follows days of "intense and extensive negotiations" in the Afghan capital attended by senior level delegations from the two sides that at one point seemed close to breakdown.

Afghanistan's acting Interior Minister Sirajuddin Haqqani, who is the central mediator, helped bring the talks back on track, sources said.

The Pakistan government had demonstrated its seriousness by acceding to some of the TTP's demands after the Afghan Taliban suggested it would be important for confidence-building to move from preliminaries to formal and structured negotiations.

The release of prisoners and presidential pardon to two key militant commanders, including TTP Swat spokesman Muslim Khan, was one such demand.

The government has released 30 TTP prisoners after the talks and ceasefire.

Compensation for the dead and wounded, enforcement of Shariah regulation in Malakand, withdrawal of military from the borders and reversal of tribal areas merger into Khyber Pakhtunkhwa were key demands from the TTP side, sources said.

The government had no issue with some of the TTP's demands, but two major issues remained challenging: the reversal of tribal areas merger and the disbandment of the TTP as an armed militant group, they said.

The government delegates made it clear that the merger brought about through a constitutional amendment was not up for discussion and that tribal people were the main, important stakeholders.

The TTP on its part had brought documents containing the commitment made by Pakistan's founder Qaid-i-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah with the tribal people guaranteeing their autonomy in an independent Pakistan. They were told that the reversal of the merger would mean return to the Frontier Crimes Regulation which was a relic of the British Empire and did not contain anything that could be considered 'Islamic.'

The disbandment of the TTP is another make-or-break issue, sources said.

The government has made it clear that no armed group would be allowed to enter Pakistan territory or operate as such.

The next round of negotiations is expected to take place in the second week of June, sources said, with a tribal jirga holding direct talks with the TTP in Kabul.

Source: Times Of India

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Tribal jirga to join ongoing talks between TTP, govt in Kabul

Tahir Khan

June 1, 2022

A grand tribal jirga will join the ongoing talks between the outlawed Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and the government in Kabul to press for an agreement to end years of violence, one of its members said on Wednesday.

Former governor of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Shaukatullah Khan, who is part of the jirga, told that the jirga's role is “very important” in view of tribal traditions that are respected by both sides.

“We are hopeful our efforts will produce results,” he said.

Khan, who belongs to Bajaur tribal district, said over 50 people are part of the jirga, including a federal minister, representatives from the KP government and tribal elders.

Federal Minister Sajid Hussain Turi, who hails from Kurram tribal district, and Special Adviser to the KP Chief Minister for Information Barrister Mohammad Ali Saif are part of the jirga, he revealed.

Previously, the jirga was mainly composed of people from South Waziristan and included elders from Malakand Division. However, this time, a tribal elder from the Khyber district, Shaji Gul Afridi, has also been made part of the jirga, Khan added.

The Afghan Taliban government is mediating between the TTP and the government of Pakistan.

A Pakistani official in Kabul told that the talks had “entered a serious phase” with some progress. The official, who wanted to remain anonymous, declined to provide more details at this stage.

The jirga arrived in Kabul on Wednesday morning, Pakistani sources told

Dawn reported on Tuesday that the TTP and the Pakistani side have agreed on an indefinite ceasefire that is considered a major confidence-building measure to take the process forward.

TTP spokesman Mohammad Khurasani did not deny the report about the ceasefire but said a formal decision is expected either today or tomorrow.

The earlier ceasefire expired on May 30.

Afghan government spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid did not respond to a query about the current round of talks. He had, however, confirmed last month that talks were being held in Kabul, saying the Islamic Emirate played the role of a mediator.

In a series of tweets, Mujahid had reported “significant progress” in the talks and also shared that a ceasefire had been agreed upon.

“The Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, in good faith, is making efforts to take the process forward. We hope that both sides will be accommodating and show flexibility,” he had said last month.

Reports had also emerged about the release of two key TTP leaders, Muslim Khan and Mahmood Khan, and their subsequent handover to the Afghan Taliban. Both leaders were on the list of over 100 detainees, the release of whom is one of the group's key demands.

There was no confirmation about the release of the two key leaders by both the TTP and the government.

Source: Dawn

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Govt shocks consumers with Rs213 per litre hike in cooking oil prices

Aamir Shafaat Khan

June 1, 2022

KARACHI: The government on Tuesday shocked consumers by pushing up ghee and cooking oil rates by an unprecedented Rs208 and Rs213 to an all-time high of Rs555 per kg and Rs605 per litre, respectively, even though “these rates still do not exist in the retail markets.”

An official in the Utility Stores Corporation (USC) in Karachi confirmed to Dawn that the USC had issued a notification of this whooping jump in ghee and cooking oil rates effective June 1.

The official, however, did not comment as to why the rates had been jacked up so mercilessly which would hit the consumers badly.

The maximum rate of ghee and cooking of renowned brands in the retail markets still hovers between Rs540-560 per kg/litre.

Utility stores to begin selling ghee and cooking oil at Rs555 and Rs605, respectively; higher than ‘retail rates’

However, Pakistan Vanaspati Manufacturers Association (PVMA) Secretary-General Umer Islam Khan hinted that the retail rates of ghee and cooking oil would soon come on a par with USC prices.

He said ghee/cooking oil manufacturers have stopped giving the products on credit to the USC as the corporation had not cleared outstanding Rs2-3 billion to the manufacturers.

Mr Umer said the Prime Minister Task Force Committee on Supply of Palm Oil comprising officials of relevant ministries and PVMA office-bearers has been holding daily zoom meetings to analyse the demand and supply situation of palm oil.

He said around 160,000 tonnes of palm oil stocks are available at the twin ports of Karachi which are sufficient for three weeks of consumption. Despite the lifting of an export ban by Indonesia on palm oil on May 23, not a single loaded vessel had been on the high seas or at Indonesia port for shipments to Pakistan.

However, the PVMA had requested the government to remove 2pc additional customs duty on the import of palm oil from Malaysia to offset the high cost of Malaysian palm oil which is costlier by 15-20pc compared to Indonesia’s.

Around 87pc of Pakistan’s total palm oil imports originates from Indonesia and the rest is met from Malaysia.

When asked why ghee and cooking oil rates did not fall despite a drop in Indonesian palm oil rate to $1,700 from $1,900-2,000 per tonne two months back, Mr Umer said the shipments booked on higher rates and a massive rupee devaluation further raised the landing cost.

Source: Dawn

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PTI govt ‘knew about controversial Israel trip’, claims organiser

Malik Asad

June 1, 2022

ISLAMABAD: The revelation that a number of Pakistani expats and a couple of citizens recently travelled to Israel as part of a delegation has sparked a controversy, with former prime minister Imran Khan and his party spinning the incident into their narrative of a foreign conspiracy against the previous government, and alleging that the trip had their successors’ tacit approval.

The issue has been discussed at length in parliament as well as during press conferences and public meetings and portrayed as a political step by the government. The fact that other predominantly Muslim countries, such as the UAE and Turkey, are now also warming up to Tel Aviv, has also played a major role in generating excitement around the visit.

However, two members of the delegation that visited Israel have taken issue with the version of events that is being narrated by the current government and its critics.

The trip’s organiser, Anila Ali, who heads the non-governmental organisation (NGO) American Muslim Multifaith Women’s Empowerment Council (AMMWEC), told Dawn’s Anwar Iqbal they had arranged special permission from the PTI government for one of its members, a Pakistani citizen, to travel to Israel. They were also assured, she said, that he would not be victimised for visiting Israel.

Ahmed Quraishi says he’s not on PTV’s payroll

In an interview with, published on Tuesday, Ms Ali claimed that her NGO aims to build interfaith ties with people of different communities in America. “So, it was a natural alliance with Muslims and Jews that we became partners and decided to visit not just Israel but Dubai and Abu Dhabi as well,” she said.

Ms Ali said she was very sad that politicians in Pakistan, especially Dr Mazari would use an interfaith women’s organization as a ploy to distract from her party’s ouster and failures.

“Our trip had nothing to do with Pakistan and everything to do with Muslim Jewish peacemaking,” she said.

Dawn also spoke with Ahmed Quraishi, the PTV-affiliated journalist who had accompanied the delegates to Israel.

He claimed that the previous PTI government launched the “unexpected” debate on Pakistan-Israel relations. He said the delegates were not there to lobby to establish diplomatic relations between both the countries but the agenda was interfaith harmony, Muslim-Jewish reconciliation and The Abraham Accords.

In a detailed interview with Dawn, Mr Quraishi claimed that he had not been a full-time PTV employee outside of his stint with the state broadcaster in 2004-2008.

He said he was surprised to hear that the government had announced that he had been sacked from PTV. “I am just a freelance journalist who, among other engagements, is paid for hosting a show per episode on PTV.”

He said the government’s announcement meant that it was endorsing PTI’s leadership’s “false claims” about a state employee being sent to Israel. In his opinion, the statement that the government issued through PTV was a political statement, possibly trying to give PTI leadership a concession.

He also claimed that the purpose of his delegation’s visit had “nothing to do with Pakistan”.

Mr Quraishi alleged that the matter was dragged into Pakistani politics and politicised by Shireen Mazari, who used photos of the trip to claim that the Shehbaz Sharif government was conducting covert diplomacy with Tel Aviv.

“Then, the former PM used our visit to strengthen his narrative on an alleged conspiracy to oust his government,” he said, adding that the delegation’s work was “a Middle Eastern story that has no relevance for Pakistani government or politics. The delegation is not a Pakistan-Israel lobbying effort but an effort centered on interfaith harmony, Muslim-Jewish reconciliation, and the second anniversary of Abraham Accords”.

Explaining how he came to be part of the delegation, Mr Quraishi said he had been working as a journalist in Pakistan and the Middle East for around two decades and had accepted the invitation of Anila Ali to join a study tour in partnership with Sharaka, a renowned UAE-based NGO that supports the Abraham Accords.

The Abraham Accords are a series of treaties normalizing diplomatic relations between Israel, the UAE, Bahrain, Sudan, and Morocco, facilitated by the US Administration between August and December 2020.

Mr Quraishi was also of the opinion that Pakistan and Israel have other business to attend to in this vital region, apart from the nature of the relationship between Israel and Palestine.

He argued that the two were the only nuclear-armed nations in “the Middle East” and both had increasingly come to share the same friends — from China to the United States and a long list of states in between.

“With no direct bilateral conflicts, it sure seems like Pakistanis and Israelis will be bumping into each other in many capitals across the region where both enjoy robust ties,” he said.

When asked if Pakistan should establish diplomatic ties with Tel Aviv, Mr Quraishi said that this was a sovereign decision, which Pakistan had the right to make in alignment with national interests. “What is ironic is that the PTI leadership has launched an unexpected debate in Pakistan on Pakistan-Israel relations when it was not on the agenda of anyone,” he said.

He was also of the opinion that many Pakistanis believed Islamabad should have excellent relations with Palestinians and Israelis. “While Palestinians and Israelis are the only ones who can resolve their conflict, Pakistan might be able to contribute to a peaceful settlement, building on the Palestinian recognition of Israel in 1995 and other bilateral Palestinian-Israel arrangements.”

When asked if the Pakistani government was in the loop on his travel plans, Mr Quraishi asked whether every Pakistani journalist working with the international media was bound to obtain clearance from the government. “Prior knowledge is possible but I don’t think Pakistani journalists working abroad for international media seek prior permission, nor does the state demand that.”

Source: Dawn

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Senate body condemns use of force against PTI marchers

Jamal Shahid

June 1, 2022

ISLAMABAD: A parliamentary committee on Tuesday condemned what is said excessive use of force by law enforcement agencies prior to and during the ‘Haqiqi Azadi March’ of Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI).

The Senate Standing Committee on Interior met to discuss and fix responsibility on the use of what it said use of undue force on the participants of the march, obstructions created in their ways and the registration of first information reports (FIRs) against them.

“It is necessary to investigate where the abuse took place during the Haqiqi Azadi March,” chairman of the committee, Senator Mohsin Aziz demanded.

The members were shown videos of violence against participants of the march, including members of parliament.

Forms subcommittee, comprising all political parties, to probe and file report for fixing responsibility

Senators Ijaz Chaudhry, Azam Khan Swati, Shibli Faraz, Faisal Javed among members of the Punjab and Sindh assemblies and former Punjab health minister Dr Yasmeen Rashid alleged atrocities committed against them.

Shehzad Waseem, leader of the opposition in the Senate, demanded details of tear gas fired on the protesters while Senator Zeeshan Khanzada asked for details on raids carried out on May 23-25. Senator Fauzia Arshad said peaceful protesters were tortured. Senator Saifullah Abro demanded that police officers who violated the law should be brought to book.

“Torturing protesters and restraining them by force is contempt of court. Withdraw FIRs against the citizens,” Senator Faisal Saleem added.

Minister for Law and Justice Senator Azam Nazir Tarar said the issue of senators Ijaz Chaudhry and Azam Khan Swati had been raised with the Ministry of Home Affairs. He occasionally interrupted the proceedings by insisting that the matter was sub judice and according to rules it should not be debated. He hoped that a decision would be made by the court in this regard soon.

Senator Maula Bakhsh Chandio challenged the impartiality of the committee and also interrupted the proceedings with frequent sarcastic remarks.

Inspector General of Police (IGP) Islamabad Dr Akbar Nasir Khan, responding to questions from the senators, said tear gas used on the protesters caused irritation in the eyes only. “Expired tear gas shells were not used. No other chemicals were used to disperse the crowds on May 25,” he said.

Tear gas was fired at the protesters after the court denied them entry to D-Chowk. He said: “No one is detained in Islamabad at the moment. Everyone was released following the court order.”

After a lengthy discussion, the chairman of the committee decided to form a subcommittee, comprising all political parties, to probe into the use of force against the participants so that responsibility could be fixed.

“It is important to note that the administration should not be given so much power,” he said.

Written questions regarding use of police force and violations of human rights would be forwarded to the concerned authorities, the committee chairman.

Source: Dawn

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PM sees $5bn trade potential with Turkey

June 1, 2022

ISLAMABAD: On the first day of his official visit to Turkey on Tuesday, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif noted that the closeness in Pakistan and Turkey’s relationship was not reflected in trade relations between the two countries, and expressed the desire that the volume of trade between the two should go up to $5 billion per year.

Addressing the Turkey-Pakistan Business Forum, the PM regretted what he termed the “maltreatment” of Turkish investors at the hands of the previous government over the past four years.

“The first metro in Lahore was designed by Turkey. Solid waste management expertise given to Pakistan in peanuts. Turkish trained our police free of cost. But in return what we have done to our Turkish brothers.”

He also announced a decision to lift visa restrictions for Turkish citizens.

In an interview with Turkish news agency Anadolu, the PM also thanked the leadership of Turkey for its principled support on the Jammu and Kashmir dispute.

“Both Pakistan and Turkey have a similarity of views on regional and international issues and enjoy close collaboration on bilateral, regional, and multilateral forums,” Sharif said ahead of his three-day official visit to Turkey.

On Pakistan’s role in US policy in the region, he said Pakistan and the US had a long-standing and broad-based relationship in various areas of mutual interest.

“We wish to deepen and widen our engagement with the US, which remains Pakistan’s biggest export market and a major source of FDI and remittances,” he said.

On China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), he said the vision of connectivity and win-win cooperation at the heart of the project was in line with his government’s priorities, as well as the vision for Pakistan as a peaceful, prosperous region.

He mentioned that work was underway on CPEC Special Economic Zones, and Pakistan was incentivizing foreign investments in key industrial sectors.

On relations with India, he said Pakistan pursued its shift from geo-strategy to geo-economics, we are looking to forge partnerships, especially within the region, based on connectivity, collective development, and prosperity.The prime minister was accompanied on this trip by Defence Minister Khawaja Mohammad Asif, Information and Broadcasting Minister Marriyum Aurangzeb, Minister for Investment Board Chaudhry Salik Hussain and PMs special assistants Tariq Fatemi and Fahad Hussain. Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari will also join the delegation.

During his visit, the prime minister will have a one-on-one meeting with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, which will be followed by delegation-level talks. A business delegation from Pakistan comprising representatives of leading companies across various sectors will also participate in the business engagements.

Meanwhile, Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari also met with his Turkish counterpart, Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu upon his arrival.

Source: Dawn

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Stricter punishments for offences against children as KP Assembly passes bill

June 1, 2022

PESHAWAR: The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly on Tuesday passed the much-delayed provincial Child Protection and Welfare (Amendment) Bill, 2022, making punishments for crimes against children, including sexual abuse, pornography, organ trade and trafficking, more stringent.

The bill, which was introduced in the house in March 2022, had been under discussion at multiple forums. Civil society groups and lawmakers had carried out a campaign for enhancing punishments for sexual offenders in the wake of the rape and death of a minor girl in Nowshera district two years ago.

The assembly had constituted a special committee on child abuse to recommend certain amendments to the existing law. The amended act has death sentence or imprisonment of life and fine which shall not be less than two million to five million rupees for the offender involved in dealing with organs of a child.

Significantly, the exiting law already carries death sentence for the offender involved in dealing with the child organs. Fine in the original law is up to Rs1 million for a convicted person.

Visit of Pakistani expats to Israel echoes in house amid sloganeering, walkout

The assembly passed amendment to Section 48 of the law. The amendment section says that whoever commits an offence of child pornography shall be punished with rigorous imprisonment, which shall not be less than 14 years and may be extended to 20 years and shall also be liable to fine, which may not be less than two million and may extend to seven million rupees.

In the original law, punishment was three-seven years imprisonment and fine of Rs200,000-Rs500,000 for the offender involved in pornography of a child. Punishment for offender involved in seduction of child has been increased. The amended law carries up to 10-year imprisonment and shall be liable to fine which may extend to two million rupees.

The amended law carries life imprisonment for offender involved in child trafficking. “Whoever involves himself in child trafficking within Pakistan shall be punished with imprisonment for life or a term which may extended to 25 years, but which shall not be less than 14 years and shall also be liable to fine which may extend to Rs5 million.

The amended act also carries life imprisonment for a person involved in sexual abuse fine up to Rs 5 million. Opposition members staged walkout from the proceeding as result their amendments were dropped.

The amended law says that the police in consultation with the Child Protection and Welfare Commission shall maintain a register of sexual offenders, which shall contain the names of convicted persons, referred by the court or by the prosecutors, who are involved in any sexual offence against the child under this act.

It also carries prohibition of employment for the offenders, use of public transport and also calls for punishment for willfully recruitment of an offender.

The government introduced the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Emergency Rescues Services (Amendment) Bill, 2022 and the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Local Government (Amendment) Bill, 2022 in the House. The assembly passed the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Antiquities (Amendment) Bill, 2022 and the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Occupational Safety and Health Bill, 2022.

The visit of Pakistani expatriates to Israel echoed in the assembly amid sloganeering and walkout after the chair, Deputy Speaker Mahmood Jan, did not allow the opposition members to speak on the adjournment motion before admitting the item for a detailed discussion.

MPA Mohammad Abdul Salam tabled the motion to hold discussion on the visit of a delegation of Pakistani Americans to the Jewish state and subsequent meeting with Israeli President Isaac Herzog.

The lawmaker said the Israeli president had confirmed his meeting with the Pakistani delegation and termed it very amazing.

He said the current ‘imported’ federal government’s dirty move regarding recognition of the Jewish state would spark crises in Pakistan as well as Muslim world.

“Such move [recognition of Israel] will be tantamount to great betrayal with the right of self-determination of Palestinians and will badly effect Pakistan’s stand in this regard,” said the motion.

Source: Dawn

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Pakistan can’t progress until Imran is in politics: Maryam

May 31, 2022

MURREE: PML-N Vice President Maryam Nawaz has said that Pakistan cannot progress until PTI Chairman Imran Khan is in politics.

Talking at a party ceremony, she said that Pakistan cannot prosper until people like Imran Khan are active in the country’s politics.

The PML-N leader said that Imran Khan claims to plant one billion trees but the PTI workers burned trees and green belts during their long march.

She said that the PTI workers asked the government to unblock roads so that their revolution would come, adding that revolutions don’t need open roads, they make their own way.

The PTI leader sabotaged our relationship with friendly countries with his foolish policies, she added.

Maryam said that the PTI government destroyed the Pak-Turk projects initiated in the PML-N era.

She said that “Imran Khan is a gang leader […] his political campaign is more dangerous than terrorism.”

The PML-N leader said Khan has admitted in a recent interview that his party workers were armed, whereas, in her rallies, “not a single person carries weapons”.

Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s people have understood the politics of Khan, which is why they were not part of his long march and his facial expressions were enough to show that the long march failed,” she added.

She went on to say that ahead of the long march, law enforcement agencies (LEAs) had found weapons at the residence of a PTI leader.

“If a person is openly accepting that they are involved in terrorist activities, then should we let them off the hook?”

Maryam said since Khan was removed from the prime minister’s office, he has set fires across the country. “These are only the goals of a terrorist.”

Source: Pakistan Today

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Hamas refuses to commit to calm amid Israeli escalation

Nour Abu Eisha 


GAZA CITY, Palestine

Palestinian resistance group Hamas on Tuesday refused to commit to calm amid Israeli escalation in the occupied East Jerusalem.

“Mediators are seeking to get pledges from Hamas on avoiding escalation, but this is rejected,” Hamas spokesman Hazem Qassem told Anadolu Agency.

"We can't speak about calm at a time when the (Israeli) occupation is continuing its aggressive behavior,” he added.

The Hamas spokesman said his group told mediators that “it can’t tolerate any aggression on holy sites.”

Tension has been running high across the Palestinian territories in the wake of a controversial flag march by Israeli settlers through East Jerusalem and daily settler incursions into the flashpoint Al-Aqsa Mosque complex.

On Sunday, Hamas political chief Ismail Haniyeh said he refused to give guarantees to mediators regarding the situation in the Palestinian territories.

Source: Anadolu Agency

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Anger grows over ‘unjust’ Israeli travel bans on Palestinians in West Bank, Gaza


May 31, 2022

RAMALLAH: Palestinian schoolteacher Zawada Shalaldeh has been the subject of an Israeli travel ban for 37 years.

The 59-year-old from the town of Sa’ir, near Hebron, in the West Bank told Arab News that the restrictions imposed on his movements had also impacted on his wife’s ability to get around.

He said: “Since 1985 until today, I have been banned from traveling by the Israeli occupation forces who claim it is for security reasons. Even my wife cannot obtain an entry permit to Jerusalem because of the ban imposed on me.”

Shalaldeh has been arrested by the Israeli military authorities several times and was last released from custody in December 2016. His travel ban remained in place before and after his arrest.

He attempted to travel to Saudi Arabia to perform Umrah in 1988, 1993, and 2008, but on each occasion the Israelis blocked him at Allenby Bridge, the only land border crossing in the West Bank, that links the territory with Jordan.

“I want to travel now to perform Umrah in Saudi Arabia, but they do not allow me. I was arrested, and I was punished with imprisonment. Why is this additional punishment preventing me from traveling?

“This is unfair and an unjustified restriction on human freedom. The Israeli occupation has no right to prevent me from exercising my right to travel freely,” he added.

Shalaldeh is one of hundreds of Palestinians that have been hit with travel bans, and human rights officials claim such Israeli restrictions have only intensified in recent years.

“I will continue to struggle until the travel ban is lifted, but I will not give up my right to travel,” he added.

Israel has implemented similar bans on entire communities, including Hebron in 2014, and the village of Rummana, near Jenin, earlier this year.

Helmy Al-Araj, director of the Hurriyat civil rights center in Ramallah, who is leading a campaign against the restrictions, said: “The collective travel ban is for a specific period, but the individual travel ban is far worse as no one knows its time limit or duration, and it is considered a permanent travel ban.”

The official noted that individual travel bans on Palestinians put in place by Israel’s internal security agency Shin Bet faced legal challenges as they often lasted indefinitely and affected relatives.

Many Palestinians need to travel through Jordan for trade and business reasons or for education, medical treatment, pilgrimage, and family reunions. Palestine has no airport, but Palestinians are prohibited from using Israel’s Ben Gurion Airport, so Allenby Bridge, controlled by the Israeli authorities, is their only corridor to the outside world.

The Hurriyat Center has documented more than 8,500 cases of travel bans since 2014, 650 of them involving women.

“Travelers are surprised by this procedure when they are prevented from traveling to Jordan at the border crossing,” Al-Araj added.

Source: Arab News

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Iran: Israel's Pressures Deviate IAEA Reports from Technical Approach


The IAEA's Sunday report was neither fair nor balanced as Tehran had provided written answers to the Agency’s questions, Khatibzadeh told reporters in a press conference in Tehran on Tuesday.

He added that the recent report claiming that Iran hasn't submitted answers to its questions didn’t reflect the truth about the talks between Iran and the Agency.

After the agreement reached between Iran and the IAEA in Tehran, he noted, Iran provided the Agency with written answers to its questions.

Khatibzadeh said that the nuclear watchdog’s report was the same report that IAEA Director-General Rafael Grossi hastily presented in the European parliament and was concluded before Iran-IAEA meeting in Tehran.

The report is neither fair nor balanced and the Zionist regime’s pressure has deviated the IAEA’s reporting from technical to political, he underlined, adding that the Islamic Republic of Iran is moving forward its nuclear program on the peaceful path.

Khatibzadeh called on the IAEA to exercise maximum care not to deviate from the technical path and its charters and warned that the Zionist regime spoils the talks by spying on the IAEA whenever a breakthrough is made or an agreement is nearly available.

Asked if the talks in Vienna, Austria, to revive the 2015 nuclear deal have stalled, the spokesman said that Iran’s measure were clear, but the US has failed to provide Iran with expected answers.

If the US takes its political decision, there will be no stalemate and the outstanding issues will be solved, he added.

Grossi had said in March that relations between Tehran and the IAEA were moving towards a better atmosphere.

Grossi made the remarks in a press conference in Vienna after returning from Iran where he had talks with senior Iranian officials, including Iran’s Foreign Minister Hossein Amir Abdollahian and AEOI Head Mohammad Eslami.

“We are moving into a more cooperative relationship, things are moving toward a better atmosphere,” he said at the presser that was held at the Vienna International Airport following his return from Tehran.

Source: Fars News Agency

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Iran confirms contact with US over nuclear talks

31 May, 2022

Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian on Tuesday addressed negotiations with the US over the collapsed 2015 nuclear deal, telling reporters he shared concerns with US Vice President Kamala Harris through a third party when they were in Munich earlier this year.

Iran has repeatedly demanded guarantees that no future US president could unilaterally abandon the agreement, as former President Donald Trump did in 2018.

“I asked (an intermediary) to tell senior US officials who were in Munich, Ms Kamala Harris and US Secretary of State Mr (Antony) Blinken, why in talks, despite so much hard work done during the past months, you keep saying that whatever deal we agree on we can't guarantee that the next US administration would honour it,” Amirabdollahian said.

He added: “I told the minister (unidentified) to please tell Ms Kamala Harris: ‘If a group of rebels are going to take over the White House, could you please let us know?’ Even if a group of rebels take over, they must be committed to international agreements, based on international law. It is not acceptable, neither legally nor politically, for an incumbent administration to return to an agreement to say I can't offer any guarantee regarding what the next administration will do.”

The White House has said it cannot make such a commitment.

Talks to restore Tehran's tattered nuclear deal with world powers have hit a deadlock.

Source: Al Arabiya

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ECHR condemns Turkey over amnesty activist’s ‘unlawful’ detention

31 May, 2022

The European Court of Human Rights on Tuesday condemned Turkey over the arrest in 2017 of the head of the Turkish branch of rights group Amnesty International, ruling his detention was unlawful.

The court said there was no indication an offence had been committed.

Taner Kilic was detained in June 2017 on charges of links to US-based preacher Fethullah Gulen, who Turkey accuses of staging a failed coup in 2016 against the government of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Kilic was released in August 2018. But in July 2020, he was convicted of belonging to a terror group and sentenced to six years and three months in prison. Kilic, who is currently not in detention, has appealed against the verdict.

In its latest damning ruling against Turkey, the ECHR said his pre-trial detention had been “unlawful and arbitrary” and there had been “no reasonable suspicion that Mr Kilic had committed an offence.”

The chamber’s verdict was agreed unanimously by seven judges, including Saadet Yuksel of Turkey.

The court said Kilic’s detention violated the European Convention on Human Rights on four counts. The ECHR enforces the convention and all 46 member nations of the Council of Europe must adhere to it.

“This long-awaited European Court ruling confirms what we have known from the start – that Taner Kilic was arbitrarily deprived of his liberty when jailed in a high security prison on trumped-up charges,” said Amnesty International’s Europe director, Nils Muiznieks.

He said the conviction must be “quashed”, warning that Kilic risks another two-and-a-half years in prison if it is upheld by the Turkish Court of Cassation.

The verdict was the latest ECHR ruling against Turkey. Concerns remain over freedom of expression in the country in the wake of the 2016 coup bid, which saw an unprecedented crackdown against opponents of Erdogan.

Source: Al Arabiya

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Iran urges Greece to cooperate over seized ships without US role

31 May, 2022

Iran urged Greece on Tuesday to cooperate to resolve a crisis over the seizure of ships without involving the United States, after Iranian forces seized two Greek tankers in the Gulf following the seizure of an Iranian vessel off Greece.

Tehran seized the Greek ships on Friday after Athens impounded the Iranian-flagged Pegas in April. The United States, which has imposed a tough sanctions regime on Iran, confiscated the Iranian oil cargo that was on the Pegas.

US and Greek diplomats have called on Iran to immediately release the Greek tankers, their cargoes and their crews. US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Washington backed its NATO ally Greece “in the face of this unjustified seizure”.

“Mr Blinken has to realise that the era when the US single handedly imposed its rules on the world has come to an end," Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh said, calling Washington “the biggest disrupter of free trade in the world”.

“Unfortunately, the Greek government demonstrated that taking orders from a third party is more important to them ...But we believe relations between Iran and Greece should remain well-intentioned,” he told reporters in Tehran.

Source: Al Arabiya

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Southeast Asia


Celebrity Islamic Preacher Da’i Syed Acquitted and Discharged On Two Unnatural Sex Charges

By Justin Ong

31 May 2022

PETALING JAYA, May 31 — The Sessions Court here today acquitted and discharged celebrity preacher, Da’i Syed, or whose real name is Syed Shah Iqmal Syed Mohammad Shaiful, on two charges of committing unnatural sex and using criminal force to a private college student with intent to outrage her modesty.

Judge Jamaludin Mat made the ruling after allowing the defence's application to free Syed Shah Iqmal, 27, on both the charges.

"The accused is acquitted and discharged in accordance with Section 254 (3) of the Criminal Procedure Code for both cases and bail (of RM25, 000) is returned,” he said.

On Dec 10, 2020, Syed Shah Iqmal pleaded not guilty to a charge of having unnatural intercourse with the woman, then aged 22, at his rented house at Damansara Perdana here, between 3 am to 4 am on Oct 17, 2020.

He was charged under Section 377B of the Penal Code, which provides an imprisonment for up to 20 years as well as whipping, upon conviction.

Source: Malay Mail

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Malaysia strongly condemns Israeli incursion at Al-Aqsa mosque

31 May 2022

The Foreign Ministry in a statement on Tuesday said the premeditated incursion on the Holy Site of the Muslims and the rallies of the flag march in the Old City was clearly a provocation and a flagrant violation against the revered Holy Site and its sanctities.

“This latest raid on the Al-Aqsa Mosque was undoubtedly an act of aggression by the Israeli occupation regime and Israeli extremists, unduly fanning the flames of tensions among the region and beyond,” the statement read.

Malaysia called upon the international community to immediately demand the Israel regime to cease any provocative acts in the interest of peace and stability, said Wisma Putra.

“Malaysia stands strong in solidarity with the people of Palestine, and reiterates the status of AlQuds Al-Sharif as the Holy site of the Muslim Ummah,” it said.

Source: Ahram

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Malaysia 'a home away from home' for Azerbaijan siblings

June 1, 2022

KUALA LUMPUR: Two siblings from Azerbaijan who came to pursue their higher education in Malaysia were full of praise for their second home.

Nazrin Nasirova, 20, arrived in Malaysia three years ago to pursue a degree in Human Resources Management at Limkokwing University of Creative Technology (LUCT). That was six months before the Covid-19 pandemic gripped the world.

So, Nazrin was still not familiar with the country when the virus hit our shores.

Yet, when most international students rushed back home to the comfort of their families, Nazrin decided to remain here.

"It is the warmth and hospitality of the people here. Although I am a foreigner and could not speak Bahasa Malaysia, Malaysians were willing to help me understand the country.

"Sometimes, when I asked for directions from people at roadside stalls, who were not fluent in English, they would go the extra mile to show me the way by walking with me to the destination.  In fact, I have picked up some words myself by speaking to them on a daily basis.

"During the pandemic, I felt safe here. I could rely on the people here for help,"

she told the New Straits Times at the

Azerbaijan Independence Day reception hosted by the Azerbaijan embassy here recently.

Her brother, Ibrahim Nasirov, 19, came to Malaysia during the height of the pandemic last year.

Ibrahim, who is studying Business Management at LUCT, started his undergraduate life with online classes.

"Azerbaijan and Malaysia share many similarities, besides both being Muslim-majority countries. Even our local dishes are prepared almost similarly but, of course, everything in Malaysia comes with extra spice.

"Now that Malaysia is transitioning to the endemic phase, Nazrin and I feel safer to go on vacations here.  We are planning to visit Langkawi soon," he said.

Source: NST

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London lawyer seeks to lead Najib’s SRC International final appeal

May 31, 2022

KUALA LUMPUR: Former prime minister Najib Razak has engaged London-based lawyer Jonathan Laidlaw to lead the defence team in making his final appeal against conviction in the RM42 million SRC International case at the Federal Court.

Laidlaw, a Queen’s Counsel (QC) specialising in business and financial crime laws, is seeking the High Court’s permission to argue the SRC International case on an ad hoc basis.

In his petition, Laidlaw said SRC International involved “serious, complex, and novel issues related to several branches of criminal and civil laws. For the purpose of the appeal, the applicant (Laidlaw) possesses special qualifications, experience and expertise which is not available among the lawyers here.”

The Federal Court is scheduled to hear Najib’s appeal for a period of 10 days from Aug 15 to 26.

Last year, the Court of Appeal affirmed the High Court’s decision in July 2020 to convict Najib on seven charges of power abuse, criminal breach of trust and money laundering over RM42 million belonging to SRC International that entered into his AmBank accounts.

It also upheld Najib’s 12-year jail sentence and RM210 million fine. However, the former prime minister was released on bail pending his final appeal before the Federal Court.

Najib had previously sought to include fresh evidence in his appeal, but the Federal Court dismissed his application, saying it did not fulfil the requirements of the law.

In 2007, another QC, Cherie Blair, was engaged by a company to appear before the Federal Court for a commercial dispute. Blair is also the wife of former British prime minister Tony Blair.

Source: Free Malaysia Today

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PM’s call to get King’s consent to dissolve Dewan Rakyat, says ex-judge

V Anbalagan

June 1, 2022

PETALING JAYA: The prime minister has the authority to decide whether to seek an audience and obtain consent from the Yang di-Pertuan Agong to dissolve the Dewan Rakyat, a retired judge said.

Gopal Sri Ram said Article 43 of the Federal Constitution gives such authority to the prime minister, who is the head of the executive branch.

“It is the prime minister who makes the final decision to seek an audience and request the King to dissolve the House,” he told FMT.

The former Federal Court judge said this in response to Pasir Salak MP Tajuddin Abdul Rahman’s statement yesterday that it is up to the Cabinet to decide when Parliament can be dissolved.

Tajuddin, the ambassador-designate to Indonesia, said yesterday that only the Cabinet could decide when to dissolve Parliament with the consent of the King.

Sri Ram said in practice, the prime minister could consult the Cabinet.

“If the Cabinet advises that it is not in the national interest to dissolve the Dewan Rakyat, then the prime minister will be guided by that advice.

“Even if the Cabinet advises him in favour of a dissolution, it is up to the prime minister to disagree because the Constitution vests such power only in him,” he said.

He said that under Article 43 (2) (a), the King appoints a prime minister among the elected MPs who in his judgment is likely to command the confidence of the majority.

Under Article 43 (4), it is the prime minister who should seek the dissolution to call an election if he no longer commands the support of the majority.

In this case, Sri Ram said, the prime minister must resign if such a request did not obtain the King’s consent.

Source: Free Malaysia Today

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Arab World


Syrian Islamist mercenaries say ready to back Turkish operation in Rojava

May 31, 2022

SYRIA,— Syrian Islamist mercenary fighters said on Sunday they were ready to join Turkish troops in a possible new offensive threatened by Turkey against Kurdish YPG fighters in Syrian Kurdistan (Rojava), northern Syria, to reportedly seize back largely Arab populated towns and villages held by Kurdish-led forces.

Two senior commanders said orders were given to heads of units of the Turkey-backed Syrian National Army (SNA) to take an offensive stance as the Turkish military step up mortar shelling and drone strikes in the Kurdish territory the YPG control.

“Readiness can happen in a day or two. There are thousands of fighters ready to participate alongside the Turkish military,” Captain Abdul Salam Abdul Razak, a prominent Syrian commander told Reuters.

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said last week Ankara would soon launch new military operations along its southern borders to create safe zones 30 km (20 miles) deep to combat what he characterized as terrorist threats from these regions.

“Like I always say, we’ll come down on them suddenly one night. And we must,” Erdogan said on his plane following his Saturday visit to Azerbaijan, according to daily Hurriyet newspaper and other media.

Ankara has conducted three incursions into northern Syria since 2016, seizing hundreds of kilometers of Kurdish land and pushing some 30 km deep into the country, in operations targeting mainly the U.S.-backed Syrian Kurdish YPG militia.

In 2016, the Turkish troops entered the Kurdish northern Syria in an area some 100 km east of Afrin to stop the Kurdish YPG forces from extending areas under their control and connecting Syrian Kurdistan’s Kobani and Hasaka in the east with Afrin canton in the west.

In January 2018, Turkish military forces backed pro-Ankara Syrian mercenary fighters to clear the YPG from its northwestern enclave of Afrin. In March 2018, the operation was completed with the capture of the Kurdish city of Afrin. The flags of Turkey and Syrian rebel groups were raised in the Kurdish Afrin city and a statue of a Kurdish hero Kawa, a symbol of resistance against oppressors for all Kurds worldwide, was torn down.

In 2019, an incursion into Syrian Kurdistan against the YPG drew widespread international condemnation, prompting Finland, Sweden and others to restrict arms sales to Turkey.

Ankara which regional intelligence sources say has at least 18,000 troops inside Syria, says the YPG is linked to an insurgency on Turkish territory.

Two main goals are Tal Rafaat, a town where thousands of Arabs have been displaced and Kobani, a Kurdish majority city, whose capture would allow Turkey to link the towns of Jarablus and Gire Spi (Tel Abyad) it now controls, a Syrian opposition military officer said.

Turkey last week dismantled parts of a concrete wall near Kobani which Ankara had built along the 911-km-long border with Syria, in a move to push forces into the border town, two rebel sources said.

A senior opposition commander in touch with Turkish military however said it was not certain the military operation would start soon, adding it could be postponed until “further notice.”

Erdogan’s vow to undertake the incursion coincides with Turkey raising stakes in his row with NATO partners over Finland and Sweden joining the alliance.

Washington has expressed concern at any new offensive in northern Syria saying it would undermine regional stability and put U.S. troops at risk.

A YPG source who is not authorized to speak publicly said at least several thousand troops have been redeployed and sent to Kobani and other threatened towns.

“All options are open in the next few days,” he said.

The Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) said on Sunday they were taking “the necessary measures” to confront a “potential invasion.”

The YPG which sought Russia’s help to halt a Turkish advance in a previous incursion, conducted in the last few days joint patrols near the frontline with Turkey-backed rebels, he added.

Moscow was also sending more military flights to Qamishlo airport in Syrian Kurdistan where the YPG has left under Syrian army control even though the city itself is under its control, another Kurdish source said.

The worldwide-respected PYD-led Autonomous Administration in Syrian Kurdistan has a secular decentralized self-rule, where equality between men and women, direct democracy, and environmental responsibility are emphasized.

In 2013, the Syrian Kurdish Democratic Union Party PYD — the political branch of the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) — has established three autonomous Cantons of Jazeera, Kobani and Afrin and a Kurdish government across Syrian Kurdistan in 2013. On March 17, 2016, Kurdish and Arab authorities announced the creation of a “federal region” made up of those semi-autonomous regions in Syrian Kurdistan. Turkey on January 20, 2018 launched an operation against the YPG in the Kurdish canton of Afrin and on March 18, the Turkish troops supporting Syrian Islamic mercenary fighters drove the YPG out of Afrin city.

Rights groups and displaced Kurdish families have accused Ankara-backed Syrian Islamic mercenary fighters of executions, home confiscations and looting in that border strip.

The Kurdish Democratic Union Party PYD and its powerful military wing YPG/YPJ, considered the most effective fighting force against IS in Syria and U.S. has provided them with arms. The YPG, which is the backbone of the Syrian Democratic Forces SDF forces, has seized swathes of Syria from Islamic State.

The Kurdish forces expelled the Islamic State from its last patch of territory in the eastern Syrian village of Baghouz in March 2019. An estimated 12,000 suspected IS members are still held in Kurdish prisons since 2019.

Source: Ekurd

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Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs highlights adherence to moral principles

31 May 2022

Manama, May 31 (BNA): The Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs (SCIA) said it was monitoring with concern the growing systematic campaigns to promote homosexuality in the world.

Such campaigns are led by global forces and organizations that strive to distort human nature, destroy religious, moral and social principles, and infiltrate conservative societies, especially Islamic ones, to undermine their values, the Council said.

In a statement following their meeting, the Council stressed its categorical rejection of the "Satanic campaigns" and called on Islamic countries, organizations, peoples and all supporters of common sense in all religions to stand united in the face of such reprehensible campaigns.

Those behind the campaigns should never be allowed to take advantage of sporting, artistic or cultural events, especially the FIFA World Cup in Qatar, to use them as starting points for their misguided and destructive calls, the statement said.

The international community should take serious and courageous stances and steps against them and should engage in campaigns to defend and promote the values of virtue and common sense.

Source: BNA

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Danish supreme court rejects Iraqi torture compensation

31 May, 2022

Denmark’s supreme court on Tuesday overturned a lower court ruling ordering the government to compensate 18 civilians tortured during the Iraq war in a joint operation by Iraqi forces and a Danish battalion.

A total of 23 Iraqi plaintiffs had sued Denmark after they were arrested and subjected to “torture and inhumane treatment” in 2004 during operation “Green Desert” near Iraq’s main port city of Basra.

The supreme court ruled that since the Danish troops neither took part in nor were aware of the torture, the defense ministry was not obliged to pay compensation.

An appeals court in Copenhagen had ruled in 2018 that although the Danish soldiers did not join in the torture, they failed to prevent the abuse.

It said they were aware the prisoners faced a “real risk” of being physically abused by the Iraqi security forces, and ordered the Danish state to pay 18 of them 30,000 Danish kroner ($4,300, 4,000 euros) in damages.

But the supreme court instead found “the Danish forces had no command over the Iraqi military and police forces, that the operation was Iraqi-led, and that the Danish forces’ participation in and conduct of the operation was in accordance with the mandate they were sent under.”

“The Danish forces had no concrete and current reason to believe that the Iraqi parties would be subjected to abuses,” the court said in a written statement.

It concluded therefore that “the defense ministry is not liable for assaults committed by Iraqi special forces following the military operation with the participation of Danish forces.”

Source: Al Arabiya

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Lebanon parliament re-elects Nabih Berri as speaker

31 May, 2022

Lebanon’s new legislature narrowly elected veteran politician Nabih Berri for a seventh term as speaker of parliament in its first session on Tuesday.

Berri, 84, won 65 votes in the 128-member parliament, where the role of speaker is reserved for a Shia Muslim under the sectarian political system.

It was the slimmest majority ever won by Berri, reflecting the make-up of a new parliament in which the Lebanese Hezbollah and its allies lost the majority they won in 2018.

Tuesday’s session was the first since the new parliament was elected on May 15, in the first vote since Lebanon’s economic collapse and the devastating Beirut port explosion of 2020.

Berri, who leads the Shia Amal Movement, has held the role of speaker since 1992 and is a close ally of Hezbollah.

Around a dozen opposition newcomers took their seats for the first time in the more fragmented chamber, after an expectedly strong breakthrough by reform-minded candidates into a system long dominated by the same sectarian groups.

Opponents of Hezbollah including the Lebanese Forces - a Christian faction - gained seats.

With parliament split into several camps, none of which have a majority, analysts have warned of the prospect of political paralysis that could further delay the reforms needed to drag Lebanon out of economic disaster.

Source: Al Arabiya

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HRW urges ICC to probe alleged use of mines in Libya war

31 May, 2022

Human Rights Watch on Tuesday called for the International Criminal Court to investigate allegations of the use of landmines in 2019 by Russian paramilitaries fighting in Libya.

According to the New York-based watchdog, new data has emerged from Libyan demining groups linking mercenaries from Russia’s Wagner Group to the use of “banned booby traps” in Libya during an offensive by east-based Libyan forces trying to capture the capital of Tripoli from rival militias.

The Wagner Group backed the offensive of the east-based forces led by commander Khalifa Haftar.

Libya plunged into turmoil after a NATO-backed uprising in 2011 toppled dictator Moammar Gadhafi, who was later killed. It has for years been split between rival administrations, each backed by different militias and foreign powers.

Lama Fakih, HRW’s director for Mideast and North Africa, said a “transparent and international” inquiry is needed to look into the use of land mines around Tripoli.

The group said that a demining group with the Tripoli-based Defense Ministry reported that mines and other explosive ordnance killed at least 130 people and wounded 196, mostly civilians, between May 2020 and March 2022 in Tripoli’s southern suburbs.

Source: Al Arabiya

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Tunisia's major labour union declares general strike on June 16

Yosra Ouanes 


TUNIS, Tunisia

Tunisia's powerful UGTT labor union has declared a general strike on June 16 in protest of the government’s refusal to reform public companies.

In a statement on Tuesday, the union said the strike was called “over government’s unwillingness to reform public companies.”

It said the general strike will cover 159 public institutions in the country.

Tunisia faces its worst financial crisis and is seeking a $4 billion loan from the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

The UGTT, which has more than a million members, calls for wage increases for state workers as inflation reached a record level of 7.5% in April, from 7.2% in March and 7% in February.

Source: Anadolu Agency

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Jordanian foreign minister arrives in Ramallah for talks

Qais Abu Samra  


Jordanian Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi arrived in the West Bank city of Ramallah on Tuesday for talks with Palestinian officials.

Safadi arrived aboard a Jordanian helicopter from the capital Amman, according to an Anadolu Agency reporter.

He will hold talks with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and other officials on the latest Israeli escalation in occupied East Jerusalem as well as discussing coordination between Palestine and Jordan on all issues, the official Palestine TV reported.

The top Jordanian diplomat is scheduled to hold a press conference with Hussein al-Sheikh, Secretary of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO)’s Executive Committee, before departing Ramallah, the broadcaster said.

Tension has been running high across the Palestinian territories in the wake of a controversial flag march by Israeli settlers through East Jerusalem and daily settler incursions into the flashpoint Al-Aqsa Mosque complex.

Source: Anadolu Agency

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North America


US lawmakers urge State Dept. to stop Israeli 'war crime' in Masafer Yatta

June 1, 2022

More than a dozen US House Democrats have sent a letter to Secretary of State Antony Blinken, calling on the White House to take measures to stop the Israeli regime forces from forcibly seizing Palestinian land and expelling more than 1,000 people from their homes.

On May 4, an irresponsible Israeli regime kangaroo court, in pursuance of Tel Aviv's internationally-condemned and illegal policies, ordered the forcible expulsion of more than 1,000 Palestinians in the occupied West Bank.

In a letter to Blinken, 15 House Democrats led by Congresswoman Cori Bush called on the Biden administration to take immediate, concrete steps to prevent the ongoing demolition of Palestinian homes in the Masafer Yatta district of al-Khalil in the Israeli-occupied West Bank.

"Forced displacement and transfer by Israel of Palestinians in Masafer Yatta would be a grave breach of the Fourth Geneva Convention and would amount to a war crime," wrote US lawmakers -- including Bush, Andre Carson, Pramila Jayapal, Betty McCollum, Marie Newman, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ilhan Omar, Mark Pocan, Ayanna Pressley, and Rashida Tlaib -- in the letter.

"If Israel proceeds with its plans to forcibly displace the indigenous Palestinian residents," the lawmakers pointed out to the Biden administration in the letter, "the State Department and the US Embassy in Israel should immediately ... send observers to document the mass transfer, including details of the military units involved in these operations and the use of any US weapons."

This is the second such letter in a week urging the Biden administration to immediately take action against the regime's expulsion of Palestinians.

“The Biden administration and Congress must hold the apartheid government of Israel accountable for its atrocities against the Palestinian people,” Bush told Jewish Currents. “We must do all we can to ensure the Palestinian community of Masafer Yatta can stay in their homes and live in safety and freedom.”

Basil al-Adraa, a Palestinian journalist and activist has reported that the Israeli forces have demolished 22 Palestinian structures in Masafer Yatta in the past month.

He told Jewish Currents that some residents were forced to move to nearby caves in the al-Khalil area.

Source: ABNA24

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Senators introduce bill banning US taxpayer funds from being spent for Iran deal

01 June, 2022

Several Republican senators introduced a bill that would forbid US taxpayer funds from being spent for a nuclear deal with Iran until Tehran fulfilled a number of different conditions.

“The bill would prohibit the provision of taxpayer dollars to advance a nuclear agreement with Iran until the Iranian regime terminates its ties with the Chinese Communist Party and terrorist groups like Hamas,” a statement from Senator Marco Rubio read.

The Iran China Accountability Act was introduced by Rubio and Senator Marsha Blackburn. It would require any nuclear agreement to be ratified by a two-thirds vote in the Senate and would ban using taxpayer funds for a nuclear deal until Iran halted all arrangements, including security and military partnerships, with China. The bill also states that Iran would need to cut off all ties and transfers of cash to Iranian proxy forces, including Hamas. Tehran would need to verify the destruction of all chemical weapons, materials and infrastructures.

Rubio and Blackburn’s bill also said US taxpayer funds couldn’t be used for the deal until China ceased the incarceration of Uyghur Muslims.

While the Biden administration has been adamant about reviving the 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and Western powers, negotiations have hit an impasse due to Iran’s demand that Washington removes the IRGC from its terror blacklist.

In addition, the Trump administration has been blamed by many current White House and State Department officials for making it difficult to lift some sanctions that were imposed after the former US president withdrew from the deal.

“A renewed nuclear deal with Iran would not only benefit the regime in Tehran, it would similarly reward and enrich the Chinese Communist Party,” Rubio said. ”We cannot allow the Biden Administration to continue making concessions to dictators in return for empty promises. It is dangerous and anti-American.”

For her part, Senator Marsha Blackburn, who introduced the bill with Rubio, said the “Obama-Biden Iran Deal” was always a failure. “The Biden Administration should not re-enter a deal that legitimizes the Iranian regime — especially while they continue to fund terrorism, endorse Communist China’s dangerous government, and facilitate genocide,” she said in the statement on Rubio’s website.

Republicans have been vocal critics of the deal and opposed all efforts to reach a similar one. But Democrats have also become increasingly against the agreement.

The Senate passed two non-binding motions last month, which showed the broad bipartisan agreement on opposing the Biden administration’s efforts on the Iran nuclear deal.

One motion stated that any nuclear deal with Iran needed to address Iran’s support for terrorist groups in the region and ensure that the IRGC remains designated as a terrorist organization.

US Special Envoy for Iran Rob Malley had reportedly floated the idea to Iran in return for them pledging not to target current or former US officials as a way of revenge for the slaying of former Iranian general Qassem Soleimani.

A separate motion, which garnered Democrat support, was passed with an overwhelming 86-12 vote. That motion, submitted by Senator Ted Cruz, spoke of the need to maintain terrorism-related sanctions on Iran to limit its cooperation with China.

Source: Al Arabiya

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US plays down Israeli report, commits to reopening consulate in Jerusalem

31 May, 2022

The US remains committed to reopening a consulate in Jerusalem, a State Department official said Tuesday, playing down a recent Israeli report that Washington’s promise to do so had been shelved.

“We continue to believe it can be an important way for our country to engage with and provide support to the Palestinian people,” State Department Spokesman Ned Price told reporters during a briefing.

The Biden administration had vowed to reopen the diplomatic mission, which former US President Donald Trump shuttered after he unilaterally recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

But pushback from Israel has delayed the consulate’s reopening, and Price said Washington was holding discussions with Palestinians and Israelis over the matter. “There are a number of steps that go into the reopening of any diplomatic facility. As you know, there are some unique sensitivities to this particular facility,” Price said.

The Times of Israel, citing US and Palestinian officials, reported that the US had decided to take steps in place of not reopening the consulate.

Source: Al Arabiya

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US warns talks on Yemen truce in ‘trouble’

31 May, 2022

The United States warned Tuesday that talks on Yemen’s two-month truce were in “trouble” as it pushed for an extension to help support millions at risk.

Yemen’s internationally recognized government and the Iran-backed Houthis on April 2 entered a UN-brokered truce, the first since the brutal war broke out in 2016, but it expires on Thursday.

Talks to extend the pause in fighting “haven’t ended yet but seem to be in a bit of trouble,” said Linda Thomas-Greenfield, the US ambassador to the United Nations.

The talks impasse “is troublesome to us,” she told reporters.

“We encourage the parties on both sides to continue those efforts and find a peaceful way to provide needed humanitarian assistance to the people of Yemen.”

Secretary of State Antony Blinken also raised “efforts to strengthen and extend the truce in Yemen” during talks Monday with his Saudi counterpart, Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan, the State Department said.

The war has killed hundreds of thousands of people and left millions on the brink of famine.

Aid groups have appealed for an extension of the truce, saying it has brought long-needed humanitarian dividends.

Earlier this month, the Norwegian Refugee Council said the number of civilian casualties in Yemen had dropped by more than half since the truce took effect.

Source: Al Arabiya

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US denies shelving plans for de facto Palestinian Embassy

Michael Gabriel Hernandez  



The State Department denied Tuesday that it has halted plans to reopen its consulate in Jerusalem, which had served as the US' de facto Embassy to the Palestinians until it was shuttered by former President Donald Trump.

"We remain committed to opening a consulate in Jerusalem. We continue to believe it can be an important way for our country to engage with and provide support to the Palestinian people," State Department spokesman Ned Price told reporters, later clarifying that he was referring to the "reopening" of the former diplomatic building.

"We're continuing to discuss this with our Israeli and our Palestinian partners, and will continue to consult with members of Congress as well," he added.

The comments came after the Times of Israel reported that the Biden administration is freezing plans to reopen the consulate amid stalwart opposition from Israel, and would instead elevate Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Israeli and Palestinian Affairs Hady Amr to become US special envoy to the Palestinians.

The Palestinian Affairs Unit, which is currently housed in the embassy, would begin reporting directly to Amr rather than the US ambassador to Israel, according to the report, which cited anonymous US and Palestinian officials.

Trump closed the US Consulate General in East Jerusalem in March 2019. The building had, for decades, served as Washington's main diplomatic mission to the Palestinians and its staff worked independently of their counterparts in the former US Embassy to Israel in Tel Aviv.

Its mission was instead folded into the US' Israel Embassy two years after Trump relocated it to Jerusalem and recognized the contested city as Israel's capital in a move that continues to roil the Palestinians who are seeking East Jerusalem as the capital of their future state.

Israel has staunchly opposed the reopening of the consulate, with Prime Minister Naftali Bennett saying it does not belong in Jerusalem, which Israel views as its undivided capital.

Source: Anadolu Agency

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