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Muslim Boy Assaulted For Not Chanting ‘Jai Shri Ram’ In Madhya Pradesh, One Booked

New Age Islam News Bureau

30 December 2022


Muslim Boy Assaulted For Not Chanting ‘Jai Shri Ram’ In Madhya Pradesh, One Booked


• UK Counter-Terror Prevent Scheme To Downplay Far-Right Threat And Strengthen Anti-Muslim Scapegoating Under The Cover Of Combatting Islamic Extremism

• Pakistan Army Resolves To Fight Back As Baloch Separatists And Islamic Zealots Link Up

• OIC Chief Calls For Muslim World To Mobilize Against Taliban Ban On Female Education

• Palestinians Fretful As Netanyahu Returns As PM Of Israel’s Most Far-Right Cabinet


• 'Pakistan Should Take Care Of Minorities': India Amid Reports Of Hindu Woman's Beheading

• Indian realtor among 3 bidders for Pakistani diplomatic property in Washington DC

• 500 Most Influential Muslims 2023: Mahmood Madani, Aisha Bewley Top List

• Sheezan Khan consumed drugs, slapped Tunisha Sharma on sets, claims mother Vanita



• Great Mosque Of Paris Files Complaint Against Michel Houellebecq's 'Brutal' Islamophobic Remarks

• 'Fatwa' Against Churchill: Scholars Accuse BBC Of Trying To Rewrite British History To Promote A 'Woke Agenda'

• Funds secured for restoration of burned Bayezid Mosque

• Missed chance: UK considered supporting US strike on Bin Laden months before 9/11

• Türkiye foils Greek plans to decimate Muslim cemetery in W. Thrace

• Funeral held for Muslim man mistakenly cremated in Germany

• French singer Julien Drolon embraced Islam after walking 1000 km to find God

• Russia’s Putin welcomes return to power of Israel’s Netanyahu



• Pak National Assembly Speaker rejects PTI's demand of en masse resignations

• Pakistan's Afghan policy failing in the face of an assertive Taliban

• PM Shehbaz chairs NSC meeting amid rising terror incidents

• Pakistan, Turkish FMs resolve to work together for regional peace, prosperity

• Three soldiers martyred in exchange of fire with terrorists in Kurram

• Muslim rulers do not care about public opinion, says Imran Khan


South Asia

• Fleeing Afghan Journalists Live in Limbo in Pakistan, Iran

• Norwegian Refugee Council Chief Urges West to Engage with Islamic Emirate

• Delivering Humanitarian Aid in Afghanistan to Continue: UN

• Afghanistan Remains an Important Focus of Pakistan’s Foreign Policy



• Jordanian Monarch Warns Of 'New Intifada’ Amid Israel's Intensified Crimes Against Palestinians

• Palestinians to intensify resistance against Israel’s settlement expansion: Hamas

• Iran, Hezbollah, Syria Sole Supporters Of Palestinians: Islamic Jihad Chief

• Israeli Envoy To France Resigns In Protest Of New Netanyahu Gov't

• Palestinian forces urged to unite against Netanyahu regime

• Record number of Israeli settlers stormed al-Aqsa Mosque compound in 2022: Official


Southeast Asia

• Muslim Radicals Halt Christmas Celebrations In Indonesia; President Visits Churches

• Risking death at sea, Rohingya Muslims seek safety in Indonesia

• Al Jabbar Mosque as new landmark to promote West Java


Arab World

• Egypt’s President Backs Bigger Private Role In Line With IMF Demands

• Saudi Arabia: 100 new Muslim converts perform Umrah

• At least 10 workers killed in attack near oil field in Syria’s Deir Ezzor

• Syria’s Kurds launch offensive against ISIS after deadly prison attack

• Dubai court authorizes jailed Brit’s fraud extradition: Lawyers

• Edutainment for kids, adults at Riyadh Toy Festival

• Ten oil field workers killed in Syria attack: State media



• Former President of Niger, Grand Mufti of the Caucasus join Muslim Council of Elders in 2022

• UN denies support for forming new gov’t in Libya

• More children suffering from malnutrition in Somalia amid looming famine

• Turkish government support to South Sudan since independence totals $10 million

• Over 42,000 people displaced in South Sudan communal violence: Official

• UN: 30,000 flee ethnic violence in South Sudan


North America

• US Killed Almost 700 ISIS Operatives In Iraq, Syria In 2022: Central Command

• Biden warns Netanyahu US will oppose Israeli policies that endanger the two-state solution

• Biden says looks forward to working with Netanyahu, supports two-state solution

• Türkiye's foreign minister to attend Sunday inauguration of Brazil's president-elect

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau



Muslim Boy Assaulted For Not Chanting ‘Jai Shri Ram’ In Madhya Pradesh, One Booked


Muslim Boy Assaulted For Not Chanting ‘Jai Shri Ram’ In Madhya Pradesh, One Booked


Dec 30, 2022

Police have booked a 22-year-old man in Madhya Pradesh’s Khandwa for assaulting a 10-year-old Muslim boy. The man allegedly stopped the boy, a Class 5 student, who was on his way to his tuition classes, forced him to chant ‘Jai Shri Ram’, and slapped the boy on his cheeks when he did not speak.

Pandhana Police registered a case against the man under Sections 295-A (deliberate and malicious acts, intended to outrage religious feelings of any class by insulting its religion or religious beliefs) and 323 (punishment for voluntarily causing hurt) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC).

Khadwa DSP Anil Chauhan said Pandhana police station received a complaint where a 10-year-old child’s father said that when the child was going to tuition, Ajay alias Raju Bhil stopped him on the way and forced him to chant ‘Jai Shri Ram’.

After deliberation, action will be taken, he added.

The family of the victim told police that their child was preparing for Navodaya Vidyalaya and was taking tuition for it. They said Ajay alias Raju's father, Laxman Bhil, who knew the child, stopped him near Durga Colony.

Source: India Today

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UK Counter-Terror Prevent Scheme To Downplay Far-Right Threat And Strengthen Anti-Muslim Scapegoating Under The Cover Of Combatting Islamic Extremism


William Shawcross [Photo: UK Government]


Thomas Scripps

A row is underway in Britain’s ruling Conservative Party over a soon-to-be-published review into the Prevent counter-terror scheme. It shines a light on the government’s plans to double down on the scapegoating of Muslims and speed the establishment of a state surveillance infrastructure under the cover of combatting Islamic extremism. This is combined with efforts to downplay the danger of the far-right.

Originally commissioned in January 2019, the review has been subject to repeated delays. The latest is an argument between Home Secretary Suella Braverman and Communities SecretaryMichael Gove, who will be responsible for the day-to-day administration of the scheme.

Braverman is reportedly concerned that the report is so unguarded in its denunciation of “extremist” organisations, or organisations supporting “extremist narratives”, that the government will be hit with costly libel suits. She is insisting names are redacted. Gove wants the text released in full.

This is a minor difference between two ardent reactionaries. Braverman—who does not hesitate to demonise migrants, asylum lawyers and refugee advocacy groups—intends to smooth the implementation of the review’s recommendations. Gove speaks for those who want as provocative a crusade as possible.

The review was set up by the government to prepare an onslaught on democratic rights. It was authored by William Shawcross, a fellow of the right-wing Policy Exchange thinktank and former director of the neo-conservative Henry Jackson Society. While director, he commented in 2012, “Europe and Islam is one of the greatest, most terrifying problems of our future. I think all European countries have vastly, very quickly growing Islamic populations.”

Previously, Shawcross had described “Britain’s humiliation” at the hands of an “immigration free-for-all “and a “bullying ‘multicultural’ ideology” which has “cosseted extremist Islamist preachers of hatred”. He has referred to “Islamo-fascist” Muslims as a “vast fifth column” in Europe “who wish to destroy us.”

A fervent supporter of the illegal invasion of Iraq, his 2011 book Justice and the Enemy perverts the post-WWII Nuremburg Trials of Nazi leaders into a grotesque defence of “the war on terror”, extraordinary rendition and the use of torture in Guantanamo Bay.

Amnesty International and 16 other groups boycotted the review over Shawcross’s involvement, publishing an open letter stating that “the UK government has no interest in conducting an objective and impartial review of” Prevent.

Shawcross was appointed after the government’s first choice, Lord Carlile, was forced to step down by a legal challenge led by Rights Watch UK over his “close ties with and publicly declared support for the Prevent strategy,” in the words of rights group Liberty.

The Shawcross Review on Islamism and the far-right

Carlile and Shawcross were selected to defend and extenda discredited programme broadly seen for the attack on democratic rightsit is, and to deal with the inconvenient factfor the government—that the scheme is flagging up the growth of far-right, fascist forces.

According to leaked material from the review, Prevent is criticised for being too weak, with the report arguing, the scheme “too often bestows a status of victimhood on all who come into contact with it”. In the words of the Guardian, shown the leaked text, “it says a more hardline approach should be taken towards Islamist extremism”.

This means widening the focus of the programme to target broader sections of the population. The Guardian writes that Shawcross is critical of Prevent having “concentrated on proscribed organisations” while, in the report’s extremely loose phrase, “ignoring Islamist narratives”.

Among these is a complained-of campaign “driven by a number of Islamist groups to undermine and delegitimise Prevent”, including by “stirring up grievance and mistrust” towards the scheme.

According to the Telegraph, the Shawcross report praises the current legal duty of school and other public sector workers to report people, including children, to the Prevent scheme as one which “works well”, and “especially… in schools.” It suggests extending the requirement to cover immigration officials and staff in job centres.

The report then takes aim at Prevent’s alleged “double standard when dealing with extreme right-wing and Islamism”. Shawcross writes that Islamist extremists are “severely under-represented” in referrals to Prevent because officials are putting a focus on right-wing extremism “above and beyond the actual threat it pose[s].” This is attributed to an effort to “try and fend off accusations” that Prevent is “stigmatising minority communities”.

The latest figures, for the year to March 31, 2021, show 4,915 referrals to Prevent—1,333 of which were passed to a panel for consideration, with 688 taken on as cases. Of these cases, 46 percent related to “Extreme Right-Wing radicalisation”, 30 percent “mixed, unstable or unclear ideology”, and 22 percent “Islamist radicalisation”. Far-right cases have been the majority group for each of the last three years.

Among the more serious known cases are those of neo-Nazi former army driver Dean Morrice, sentenced for 18 years for possession of explosives and encouraging terrorist offences, and Daniel Wright, Liam Hall, Stacey Salmon and Samuel Whibley, sentenced to a total of more than 30 years for possession of a 3D printed gun and encouraging terrorism.

In explaining away these facts, Shawcross complains that Prevent’s view on right-wing extremism is “so broad it has included mildly controversial or provocative forms of mainstream, rightwing-leaning commentary” and that an internal report “listed a prominent Conservative politician and member of the Government as being among figures ‘associated with far-right sympathetic audiences’”.

Despite his intentions, this only confirms how the far-right are given succour by the political establishment and the media, centred on the government itself. Prevent was created with the deliberate aim of demonising Muslims while creating the apparatus for surveillance and intimidation against the working class. The idea that it is zealously overreaching against the right-wing is laughable. Rather, the extreme lurch to the right in “mainstream” politics and the media has brought it within the peripheral view of the scheme and forced a series of reluctant acknowledgements.

Boris Johnson’s leadership of the Tory Party earned it the endorsement of fascist group Britain First and fascist activist Tommy Robinson. Leading Tory Jacob Rees-Mogg had already received a promise of “protection” from Britain First members in 2018. He has spoken at the annual dinner of the Traditional Britain group, whose founder, Lord Sudeley, praised Adolf Hitler at a meeting of the Tory Monday Club, adding, “the fact may be that some races are superior to others.”

In 2020, top Tory adviser Dominic Cummings hired eugenicist Andrew Sabisky into the government, whose Social Darwinist views had been publicly expressed by senior Tory figures before.

In 2019, Rees-Mogg was one of several leading Tories to endorse an announcement by Turning Point—McCarthyite witch-hunters of left-wing students and academics—that it intended to set up operations in the UK. Its founding event was attended by the UK editors of Breitbart and InfoWars.

Preparation for state repression

Shawcross’s review is intended to help sweep all this back under the carpet and “refocus” the Prevent scheme on its intended objectives. Doing so is made more urgent for the ruling class by the escalation of social and international tensions to a height not seen for decades—an international strike wave and war with Russia.

Prevent now dovetails with the state-backed “left antisemitism” campaign, driven by the same concerns, outlawing anti-Zionism by branding it anti-Jewish hatred. A sympathy with the Palestinians will presumably be labelled an extremist “Islamist narrative”, as well as anti-Semitic.

The real guiding principles of both policies were set out in 2019—the year the Prevent review was ordered—in a report published by the UK government’s Commission for Countering Extremism (CCE) which declared large sections of the left “extremist” in clear preparation for a campaign of state repression.

For now, this proceeds indirectly, under the cover of Prevent and combatting anti-Semitism. However, in February last year the government ordered a review of “left-wing extremism” headed by John Woodcock, Baron Walney—the former Blairite Labour MP who resigned in 2018 protesting a “left” takeover of the party under Jeremy Corbyn.

This is a closely coordinated state campaign, with the Labour Party intimately involved. The CCE is headed by Robin Simcox, who controls the Counter Extremism Group (CEG) think-tank which hosted Gove and Shawcross this September.

In April 2020, Shawcross was part of a consortium which bought the Jewish Chronicle—a publication so committed to slandering Corbyn supporters as anti-Semites that it has had to pay significant damages in libel suits. The consortium included Woodcock, along with former Prime Minister Theresa May’s director of communications Robbie Gibb and John Ware, the producer of the hatchet job “investigation”Is Labour Anti-Semitic?

Woodcock was rewarded by Boris Johnson for his attacks on the Labour “left” with a peerage and appointed as his Independent Adviser on Political Violence and Disruption. His political biography is near identical to that of John Mann, now leading the “left anti-Semitism” witch-hunt.

Across all these operations, planned attacks on the left are coupled with covering for the far-right—and directed by individuals with deeply reactionary political connections. Simcox, as reported by the Byline Times, has spoken at the extreme right-wing Center for Immigration Studies, which was named a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Centre, and Heritage Foundation.

Woodcock, on a 2017 trip to Turkey, praised President Recep Erdoğan’s “fight against terrorism” and met with members of the far-right Nationalist Movement Party.

A warning of the dangers presented to the working class by these developments is provided by events in Germany, where the Socialist Equality Party (Sozialistische Gleichheitspartei) was placed and remains on the watchlist of the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution (Verfassungsschutz), named as a “left-wing extremist” organisation. This was done under the direction of Hans-Georg Maassen, a man intimately connected to the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) party.

In the court case taken by the Socialist Equality Party against the German government, the government has been forced to effectively admit its intention to re-establish the anti-socialist laws of Imperial and Nazi Germany.

Source: WSWS

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Pakistan Army Resolves To Fight Back As Baloch Separatists And Islamic Zealots Link Up


Members of Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP). Photo Credit: Social media


By P. K. Balachandran

December 29, 2022

The separatist Balochistan Liberation Army and the Islamic Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan team up targeting Pakistan’s Security Forces.

Even as it faces a serious economic downturn, terrorism is dealing Pakistan hard blows. In the North Western Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province, Islamic zealots of the Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) are mounting attacks on the security forces. In the South West, the secular but separatist Balochistan Liberation Army (BLA) is on the prowl again.

The latest development is that the TTP, which demands that Pakistan be ruled by Sharia laws, and the ethnicity-based BLA, have joined hands against the Pakistani State.

According to the Inter-Services Public Relations, top army commanders under chief Gen.Syed Asim Munir met on December 27 and 28 and “resolved to fight against terrorists without any distinction and eliminate this menace as per aspirations of the people of Pakistan.” The army’s reaffirmation comes in the wake of a recent uptick in terrorist attacks in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province and in Balochistan.

Having lost half of the country through the secession of Bangladesh in 1971, Pakistan can ill-afford to ignore another armed separatist insurgency. Equally, it cannot afford to let a Taliban-like violent movement to impose Sharia on it and turn it into another Afghanistan. 

On the economic front, Pakistan’s outlook dire. It is unable to pay its debts. In 2023 it has to pay back a foreign debt of US$ 26 billion, according to Bloomberg. Right now, Pakistan has forex only for five weeks’ imports. Inflation has skyrocketed. And, on top of it all, Pakistan is still to rehabilitate 30 million people rendered homeless by the recent floods.

Baloch Insurgency 

The roots of the insurgency in Balochistan lie in decades-long economic grievances. Balochistan is resource-rich (including gold), but remains very backward. The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) passes through it to culminate in the Chinese-built port of Gwadar. But the local Balochis have gained little from these multi-billion dollar projects. Protests have only led to violent repression, disappearances and more alienation.

Two incidents occurred on December 24, in which at least five security men were killed in Turbat and Chaman. The TTP took responsibility for the Chaman attack. On Sunday December 25, which was Pakistan’s founder M.A.Jinnah’s birthday and Christmas, at least six security men were killed. The bloodiest incident occurred in Kohlu’s Kahan area, when five army men,  including a captain, lost their lives in an IED blast. The BLA claimed responsibility.

Pakistan has been fighting insurgents in Balochistan since 2004. The BLA is against China’s investments which they feel have been of no use to them. In May 12, 2019 five people, including a soldier, were killed after BLA gunmen stormed the only five-star hotel in Gwadar, the port city which Pakistan is hoping to develop into a major commercial hub. In November 2018, the BLA had attacked the Chinese Consulate in Karachi in which four persons (not Chinese) were killed. In April 2022, a BLA female suicide cadre blasted a van carrying Chinese language teachers in Karachi in which three Chinese were killed. In July 2019, the US State Department proscribed the BLA.

The BLA is essentially a secular movement, demanding independence from Pakistan.  But the government’s non-political and muscular approach has only exacerbated the situation. As the daily Dawn put it: “Years of policies led by the Establishment to pacify Balochistan have failed. Therefore, along with kinetic action, the state must also look at why it has been unable to bring socioeconomic uplift to this resource-rich, but appallingly poor province.”

Though basically secular, the BLA has an Islamic touch too. A report in Dawn recalled that religiously inspired militancy has had a presence in Balochistan for long.  One of the most lethal sectarian terror groups, the Lashkar-i-Jhangvi, (LJ ) operated out of Balochistan at one time. The Jhangavi’s actions had claimed hundreds of lives. It is suspected that the cadres of the Jhangvi are now collaborating with the Tehreek-i-Pakistan (TTP).

The TTP, on the other hand, are pan-Pakistan Islamic zealots, who want Pakistan’s constitution to be based on the Sharia. But Pakistan does not want to be another Afghanistan.

In November, the TTP had withdrawn from its June 2022 ceasefire agreement with the Pakistani government. On November 18, the TTP stormed the Counter Terrorism Department (CTD) office at Bannu in the Khyber Pakhtunkwa Province, held the police interrogators of its cadres hostage, and demanded safe evacuation to Afghanistan. This set off alarm bells in Washington too, where the State Department Spokesman, Ned Price, said that the US will “unconditionally” support Pakistan in its fight against terrorism.

Unlike other terrorist groups operating in Pakistan, the TTP has no links with the Pakistani State. Other terror groups are used by State agencies to carry out its designs against India, but the government has no leverage over the TTP. 

Pakistan had witnessed a 51% rise in terrorist attacks in one year since the Taliban came to power in Afghanistan, Dawn reported, quoting the Islamabad-based think tank, Pakistan Institute of Peace Studies. The spike in terror incidents saw the killing of almost 500 people between August 15, 2021 and August 14, 2022, the report said.

The nature of the TTP is delineated by Georgetown University’s Abdul Sayed and Clemson University’s Amira Jadoon in their August 16, 2022 paper: Understanding Tehrik-e- Taliban Pakistan’s Unrelenting Posture.

Afghan Taliban’s Role

In June 2022, the Pakistan government and the TTP entered into a ceasefire agreement. But the Afghan Taliban remained neutral on the agreement. This was for two reasons: (1) it had its own problems with Islamabad over the disputed border, the Durand Line; (2) it was preoccupied with the fight against the Islamic State of Khorasan (IS-K) within Afghanistan.

At any rate, the Afghan Taliban, being now in power, did not want to be under the tutelage of Pakistan though Pakistan had helped it come to power by sheltering its cadres for years and interceding on its behalf with the US. Opinion on Pakistan among the Afghan Jihadis was also tainted by Islamabad’s support for the US War on Terror, which resulted in massive killings.

The Afghan Taliban’s standoffishness and reservations about Pakistan encouraged the TTP to take a tough line vis-à-vis Pakistan and eventually break the ceasefire in November.

Sayed and Jadoon point to yet another reason for discord between the TTP and Pakistan: the TTP’s unwillingness to compromise on its demand of reversing the 2018 merger of the Federally Administered Tribal Agencies (FATA) into the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KPK) province in Pakistan. The TTP considers a separate FATA as essential for asserting the Pakhtuns’ separate identity. The TTP is the militant voice of the Pakhtuns in Pakistan. But Pakistan’s fear is that if FATA were restored it will eventually be claimed by Afghanistan, because the Afghan Taliban are dominated by Pakhtuns.

Exploiting Popular Alienation 

Since Pakistan’s economy is on a downward spiral, there is widespread alienation from the government, the political parties and even the military. Continued military action against militant groups in the tribal areas has affected innocents. This is exploited by the TTP. The TTP is also exploiting the grievances of ethnic groups, such as the Baloch, though the Baloch liberation movement is mostly secular.

Above all, the TTP is strongly advocating Islamization and the imposition of Sharia in full, which other political groups, including the avowedly Islamic ones, are not pressing for fully and with single-minded devotion. According to Sayed and Jadoon, there is an influential urban intellectual constituency favoring drastic Islamization as the only way to rescue Pakistan from the current political, social and economic morass. This appears to be the most worrying part.

Source: Eurasia Review

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OIC Chief Calls For Muslim World To Mobilize Against Taliban Ban On Female Education




The Secretary-General of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), Hissein Brahim Taha, on Thursday called on the International Islamic Fiqh Academy (IIFA) to urgently launch a campaign to unite scholars in the Islamic world against the Taliban’s decision to ban women from getting an education.

According to a statement issued late Thursday by the OIC, Taha told the Fiqh Academy “to quickly launch a global campaign to unite scholars and religious authorities in the Islamic world against the Taliban government’s decision to prevent girls from education, including university education, and its other repercussions, and to explain the true teachings of Islam, which calls for the education of girls.”

According to the statement, Taha’s call came at the opening of the second meeting of the 2022 IIFA Bureau, held via video conferencing on Thursday, December 29, 2022.

The secretary-general chaired the meeting and said: “The decision of the Taliban government to prevent girls from education, including university education, and to dismiss female faculty members from their positions on the pretext that this contradicts Islamic law, was the latest challenge to be reviewed by the IIFA in addition to issues of minorities, escalating hostility to Muslims in Western countries, and other pressing issues”.

However, Taha stressed the priority of the Afghan dossier in the OIC and IIFA agendas. He also pointed out that the Taliban’s decision was not based on texts in Islamic law. He also indicated that a team of scholars visited Afghanistan in June and held extensive meetings with Taliban scholars and government leaders.

He also stressed that the Taliban’s decision to deprive Afghan females of education increases misconceptions spread about true Islam.

“It was agreed that Islam granted women all their rights, including the right to education and work, explaining that the Taliban’s decision deepens the fallacies that are spread from which Islam is free,” Taha said.

Taha’s remarks come amid growing outrage around the world at the Taliban’s increasing list of orders against women – the latest being a ban on females getting any education above grade six and the ban on women working for NGOs.

Source: AMU

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Palestinians Fretful As Netanyahu Returns As PM Of Israel’s Most Far-Right Cabinet


Benjamin Netanyahu at a vote in the assembly hall of the Knesset, on Dec. 28, 2022,


29 December 2022

Palestinians have denounced Benjamin Netanyahu’s swearing-in as Israel's prime minister in a comeback at the head of the Tel Aviv regime’s most far-right cabinet in history, which has promised to expand illegal settlements in the occupied West Bank and pursue other anti-Palestinian policies.

Netanyahu, 73, who is facing corruption charges in court, told the parliament, Knesset, that his top goal would be to thwart Iran's nuclear program and “ensure Israel's military superiority in the region.”

He also voiced hopes of expanding the circle of normalization with Arab countries following US-brokered agreements with the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Sudan and Morocco.

Opponents heckled him with chants of "Weak! Weak!". They said Netanyahu had to make costly deals to secure new partners after centrist parties boycotted him over his legal woes.

The parliament voted to approve his cabinet and elected former minister Amir Ohana as the Knesset's speaker.

Former Israeli intelligence minister Eli Cohen, an architect of the so-called Abraham Accords, was named as foreign minister.

Moreover, Israel's new minister of military affairs Yoav Galant is a former general, a staunch ally of Netanyahu and a vocal advocate of Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank.

Netanyahu was ousted in June 2021 by a motley coalition of leftists, centrists and Arab parties headed by right-winger Naftali Bennett and former TV news anchor Yair Lapid. It didn't take him long to come back.

Following his November 1 election win, Netanyahu entered into talks with ultra-Orthodox and extreme-right parties.

His allies include the Religious Zionism formation and Jewish Power Party, whose leaders Bezalel Smotrich and Itamar Ben-Gvir oppose Palestinian statehood and both have a history of inflammatory remarks about Palestinians.

Smotrich will now take charge of Israeli settlement expansion policies in the West Bank, and Ben-Gvir will be the national security minister with powers over the police, which also operate in the occupied territories since 1967.

Senior security officials have already voiced concern over the new Israeli administration’s direction, as have Palestinians.

Smotrich and Ben-Gvir “have a very strong thirst for power,” and their priority remains the expansion of West Bank settlements, Denis Charbit, professor of political science at Israel's Open University, said.

The cabinet is the result of “Netanyahu's political weakness, linked to his age and his trial,” Charbit added.

Netanyahu's conservative Likud party said in its guidelines for the new Israeli administration that it would “promote and develop settlements.”

“These guidelines constitute a dangerous escalation and will have repercussions for the region,” Nabil Abu Rudeineh, the spokesman for Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, said.

Abbas has criticized Netayahu’s cabinet, saying its “motto is extremism and apartheid.”

Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh also voiced his disapproval of Israel’s administration.

“This cabinet is the most extremist, the most threatening, and the most insolent. I know for a fact that the international community will not deal with many members of this administration, therefore to us, we are against all the cabinets that practice killing and oppression on our people,” Shtayyeh said during a rally in the occupied central West Bank city of Ramallah.

Moreover, the Palestinian Hamas resistance movement expressed its dismay with Israel's new administration.

“It is clear that a cabinet that is led by Netanyahu and include Smotrich and Ben Gvir as members, will surely create policies that are far more provocative, it is tampering with explosives detonators, whether through trying to change the status quo of al-Aqsa Mosque or the settlement craze that started showing, or the aggression on prisoners,” Hamas spokesman Hazem Qasem said.

“This administration has created a wide opportunity for a massive escalation on the ground, on all fields, and we in Hamas, clearly warn against these policies that provoke the Palestinian people, and create an explosion detonator,” he pointed out.

Source: Press TV

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'Pakistan should take care of minorities': India amid reports of Hindu woman's beheading

Dec 29, 2022

NEW DELHI: India on Thursday said that Pakistan should take care of its minorities amid reports of a brutal beheading of a Hindu woman in the neighbouring country.

"...In the past too we have said that Pakistan should take care of its minorities and fulfil its responsibility of their safety, security and well-being. I would like to reiterate that," MEA spokesperson Arindam Bagchi said after a 40-year-old Hindu woman was beheaded in Pakistan's Sindh on Wednesday.

Bagchi added he does not have a detailed report on the specific incident.

Earlier, Krishna Kumari, senator of Pakistan Peoples Party from Tharparkar Sindh, rushed to the village and confirmed the news of the brutal murder of the Hindu woman.

"Daya Bheel, 40-year-old widow brutally murdered and her body was found in very bad condition. Her head was separated from the body and the savages had removed the flesh from the whole head. Visited her village Police teams from Sinjhoro and Shahpurchakar also reached," she tweeted.

"Daya Bheel, who was brutally murdered -- her case won't be highlighted in the media, nor will Politicians in Islamabad or the Sindh government issue a statement. Will the police apprehend culprits? Will Hindus be treated as equal citizens in their motherland Sindh? tweeted The Rise News, a nonprofit news organization.

Recently, the UK government this month imposed sanctions on its Muslim cleric Mian Abdul Haq for forced conversions and marriages of girls and women from religious minorities, according to a Toronto-based think tank.

Source: Times Of India

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Indian realtor among 3 bidders for Pakistani diplomatic property in Washington DC

Dec 29, 2022

NEW DELHI: An Indian realtor has bid $5 million (Rs 41.42 crore) for a Pakistani diplomatic property located in Washington DC. The building once housed the defence section of Pakistan's embassy in the US capital, said a report in The Dawn.

The highest bid of almost $6.8 million (Rs 56.33 crore) is a Jewish group that plans to build a synagogue in the building. "The third bidder with about $4 million ( ₹33.13 core) is a Pakistani realtor," said the report, citing Pakistani diplomatic source.

The building, located on R Street NW, is one of three properties owned by the Pakistani embassy in Washington DC. After photos of the present and old Pakistani embassy flooded social media with reports claiming they were up for sale as well, officials clarified that this was not true.

The current embassy is in a new building constructed in the early 2000s, the old one was on Massachusetts Avenue.

The Pakistan embassy moved to the new building in the early 2000s. Islamabad, however, kept the old building and has reportedly spent around $7 million on its renovation. The R Street building, however, is reportedly in a dilapidated condition. Nearby residents have even complained about it being a security hazard.

The building was bought by then-Pakistani ambassador Syed Amjad Ali between 1953 and 1956.

Source: Times Of India

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500 Most Influential Muslims 2023: Mahmood Madani, Aisha Bewley top list

Sakina Fatima

29th December 2022

The list of 500 influential Muslim personalities in the world has been released for the year 2023. In this, Maulana Mahmood A Madani, the President of Indian Islamic and Jamiat Ulama-i-Hind (JUH) and Aisha Bewley, a renowned Arabic-English translator have been named Persons of the Year— 2023.

The Persons of the Year— man and woman are recognized for their significant contributions in the past year or over their lifetime.

This list has been released by Muslims 500 and the Islamic NGO ‘The Royal All Al Bait Institute for Islamic Thought’ (RABIIT), whose headquarter is in Amman, the capital of Jordan

Man of the Year— Maulana Mahmood A Madani

Maulana Mahmood Madani, President of Indian Islamic and Jamiat Ulema-e-Hind, is placed 15th on the list and has been given the title of Man of the Year.

Maulana Mahmood Madani is an Islamic scholar, public speaker, social worker and preacher of Islamic humanitarian values, tolerance, and peace.

Madani was born on March 3, 1964 in Deoband, Uttar Pradesh.

His grandfather Hussain Ahmed was a freedom fighter and head of Darul Uloom. Madani studied at Darul Uloom Deoband Islamic Madrasa. After graduation in 1992, he moved ahead in the business field but after some time he started walking on the path of social service and politics.

Maulana Mahmood Madani, associated with social work for a long time, received considerable recognition for his relief work after the 2001 earthquake in Gujarat. After the ethnoreligious violence in 2002, Jamiat Ulema-e-Hind launched a campaign for relief work under the leadership of Maulana Mahmood Madani.

This relief work had further increased his stature. He was elected General Secretary of Jamiat Ulema-e-Hind from 2001 to 2008.

Maulana Mahmood Madani started his political career with the Samajwadi Party after he was recognised for his social and political work. Madani was a Rajya Sabha member from Uttar Pradesh from 2006 to 2012.

Maulana Madani has also raised his voice against issues like the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2019 (CAA) and the National Register of Citizens (NRC).

He also played an important role in starting the nationwide protest against the CAA. During that time protests were held at more than 1000 places across the country. In a TV program, he had said, ‘We are not restless, we are choosy Indians. We chose India’.

Through the platform of JUH, he has fought the twin battles of condemning terrorism in all its forms as well as calling out those who would use the issue to scapegoat the Muslim community.

He has defended hundreds of cases of Muslims who have been falsely implicated in terror cases. He has also taken on other cases with regard to securing the rights of Indian Muslims (including the right to citizenship, and the right to practice religious duties).

Coupled with this defence of Muslim rights, Maulana Madani has always been a vocal supporter of unity in diversity and has consistently emphasised harmonious relations between different faiths in India.

Woman of the Year— Aisha Bewley

Aisha Bewley has been named the Woman of the Year in the 2023 edition of the Muslim 500, after being recognised for her immense work and contributions to Islamic scholarship.

Aisha Abdurrahman Bewley, born in the United States in 1948, is one of the world’s most prolific and accomplished translators of classical Islamic works from Arabic to English.

After converting to Islam in 1968, she has spent the past five decades faithfully learning the Islamic tradition and making its key texts available to the global English-speaking Muslim community, sometimes in collaboration with her husband, Abdalhaqq Bewley, with whom she translated The Noble Quran.

She received a master’s degree in Near Eastern languages from the University of California, Berkley and continued her studies at the American University in Cairo.

Since graduating, Bewley has worked tirelessly to make Islamic literature accessible to the English-speaking Muslim community.

Her greatest achievement was translating the Holy Quran into English with the support of her husband, Abdalhaqq Bewley. Both worked on the project for several years, after which the entire translation was published under the title “The Noble Quran”.

A majority of her works have been published for free online. Students, teachers, and many alumni have turned to the internet for its resources at no cost.

The subjects she has covered in translation and in her own writings range from the Noble Quran, translation of the Quran (tafsir), Hadith, works on Islamic law, Sufism, and Islamic history among others.

Source: Siasat Daliy

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Sheezan Khan consumed drugs, slapped Tunisha Sharma on sets, claims mother Vanita

Dec 30, 2022

Tunisha Sharma’s suicide has shocked the nation. The actress hanged herself in the make-up room of her co-star and former boyfriend Sheezan Khan. While he is under police custody until December 30, Tunisha’s mother Vanita Sharma made shocking claims about Sheezan in a press conference. She alleged that he consumed drugs on the sets and also forced Tunisha to follow Islam.


Tunisha Sharma died by suicide on December 24. The 20-year-old actress’ funeral took place on December 27. While Sheezan continues to be under police custody, Tunisha’s mother Vanita Sharma made shocking claims about their relationship. In a press conference, she alleged that Tunisha once checked Sheezan's phone. Apparently, Tunisha caught her speaking to some other girl, post which, both had a fight. Vanita claimed that they broke up because of this.

She also said that Tunisha died by suicide in Sheezan's room. Vanita alleged that she may have been alive after breaking the door of that room but Sheezan may have left her to die.

She also claimed that Tunisha informed her that Sheezan used to consume drugs on the sets. “There were changes in Tunisha's behaviour. Sheezan forced her to follow Islam. She also posted on her Instagram that morning but what happened after that, we have no idea,” says Vanita.

Source: India Today

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Great Mosque Of Paris Files Complaint Against Michel Houellebecq's 'Brutal' Islamophobic Remarks

Fatih Karakaya  



The Great Mosque of Paris is filing a complaint against French writer Michel Houellebecq over his Islamophobic remarks, it announced on Thursday.

The decision was taken after a "long conversation" between Houellebecq and another writer, Michel Onfray, was published in magazine Front Populaire in November, said the statement.

In the article, Houellebecq said that people in France were "arming themselves" and could attack Muslim establishments when "entire territories fall under Islamic control."

"People are arming themselves. They are procuring rifles and taking shooting courses … I think acts of resistance will occur when entire territories fall under Islamic control. Attacks and shootings will be perpetrated in mosques, coffeeshops mostly visited by the Muslims, well, Bataclan in reverse," he said.

For officials of the Great Mosque of Paris, these "lapidary remarks" were "unacceptable and unbelievably brutal."

"They do not seek to elucidate any public debate but arouse discriminatory rhetoric and acts," it added.

The statement noted that while criticizing religion was permitted in democratic society, the comments in the article were "calling to reject and exclude the Muslim component in its entirety."

Source: Anadolu Agency

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'Fatwa' Against Churchill: Scholars Accuse BBC Of Trying To Rewrite British History To Promote A 'Woke Agenda'

December 29, 2022

A group of history scholars is questioning whether viewers should trust the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), accusing the national broadcaster of presenting a slanted view of the nation's history.

"The BBC, of all institutions, should never accept as fact arguments put forward by politically motivated campaigners. Sadly, it appears that tendentious and provocative arguments seem to be given preference, and they have often been relayed without proper concern for accuracy," a spokesperson for History Reclaimed told the Daily Telegraph of the organization's report, which accused the BBC of "rewriting British history to promote a woke agenda."

The report, entitled "Can we trust the BBC with our history?," was released Wednesday and was authored by scholars from some of the United Kingdom's top universities, including Oxford and Cambridge universities. It details numerous examples of what the report called a "consistent bias" in programming related to British history, which the report said was mostly painted in a negative light.

"At their best, the BBC’s programmes are of high quality and are widely praised. But regrettably, it seems that the BBC, for all its merits, does not always respect the objectives set out in its charter and its claim to be strictly impartial," the spokesperson said.

Some examples the report cited include a travel documentary series that highlighted a 17th century slave holding port on Bunce Island, which the report said left viewers with the impression that "enslavement was a purely British enterprise."

However, the report argues the series omitted the fact that "it was Britain’s Royal Navy which was later sent to suppress the slave trade, or that in doing so between 1808 and 1860 the West Africa Squadron captured 1,600 slave ships and freed over 150,000 African slaves."

The report also goes after the BBC's coverage of legendary World War II-era leader Winston Churchill, with author and broadcaster Lord Roberts accusing the network of pursuing a "fatwa" against the former prime minister.

The report notes that the BBC was forced to admit some of its coverage on Churchill's supposed racism did not explore the full context of the issue, which it acknowledged did not "meet the standard of impartiality appropriate to a report in a news bulletin of this kind."

"The examples we have highlighted have other common features. They give a voice only to one side of a disputed past, even presenting false history as uncontested fact," the report reads. "Furthermore, those presenting or being interviewed as experts generally have little or no expertise in the subjects on which they are making pronouncements."

The report lists suggestions for how the BBC could improve its history programming in the future, including the establishment of an "advisory panel of properly qualified historians."

"The BBC has laudable objectives and plays an important role in British soft power worldwide," the report concludes. "But recent pandering to politically motivated activists, especially in the historical sphere, has contributed to calls for the end of the license fee. If the BBC carries on broadcasting politically motivated, gratuitously divisive and factually unreliable material such as the examples used in this report, calls to end the license fee will only get stronger."

When reached for comment by the Telegraph about the report, a BBC spokesperson defended the network's programming, accusing the scholars of "cherry-picking" examples.

Source: Fox News

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Funds secured for restoration of burned Bayezid Mosque


Greece has earmarked 10.5 million euros in EU funds to restore the 15th-century Ottoman Bayezit Mosque in the northeastern border town of Didymoteicho that was destroyed in a large fire in 2017.

Culture Minister Lina Mendoni said on Thursday the project has been included in the EU Recovery and Resilience Fund with a budget of 10,531,772 euros and is expected to be completed in 2025.

“The Bayezit Mosque, an emblematic monument of Didymoteicho and one of the most important monuments of the Ottoman Empire will be restored, with a guaranteed budget and a specific timetable,” she said.

“Thanks to the cooperation of the competent services of the Ministry of Culture and Sports with the scientific team of the National Technical University of Athens, the correct restoration proposal was drawn up, so that the monument could be restored in accordance with the principles of science and ethics.”

The minister said the restoration process is complex due to the great technical difficulties presented by the stone-built shell as well as the reconstruction of its wooden roof.

The Ottoman monument will be restored back to its last historical phase of the beginning of the 20th century, while highlighting elements of previous phases to showcase its structural history, as well as the interventions made in various time periods. In addition, further EU funding from the ESPA 2014-2020 program totalling 3,428,876 euros is already being used to complete accompanying works such as the shaping of the surrounding area.

Early in the morning of March 22, 2017, a huge fire broke out in the mosque destroying its ornate oak roof and parts of the walls. The blaze was so big that the Fire Service had to bring in crews from all over Thrace to put it out.

A report by the Fire Service issued a few days later attributed the blaze to the negligence of the maintenance crew that did welding work, saying sparks had fallen on the wooden support beams of the roof starting a slow-burning flame that eventually engulfed the monument.

Source: Ekathimerini

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Missed chance: UK considered supporting US strike on Bin Laden months before 9/11

Nicky Harley


Dec 30, 2022

Former British prime minister Tony Blair was urged to raise the issue of assassinating Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden in a meeting with the US nine months before the September 11 attacks, newly released archives show.

In a briefing letter sent to Mr Blair on December 13, 2000, from his private secretary Sir John Sawers, who later became head of MI6 and a British diplomat to Egypt, he was urged to use an upcoming meeting with US president Bill Clinton to discuss the topic of killing Bin Laden.

The new information is revealed in the latest declassification of secret files by the National Archives.

On the topic of Bin Laden and terrorism, Sir John advised the prime minister to inform the president the UK was in favour of "whacking" the terrorist leader.

Britain's stance was partly a response to a terrorist attack a few months earlier on the US missile destroyer, USS Cole, while it was moored in Yemen's port of Aden.

In the attack on October 12, 2000, a rubber boat loaded with explosives was blown up as it rounded the bow of the destroyer, which had just pulled into the port for a refuelling stop.

The explosion killed 17 US Navy sailors and injured 37 others.

Al Qaeda later claimed responsibility for the attack and the US had been considering military action.

"The Americans do not yet have proof that UBL [sic] was responsible for the attack on the USS Cole," Sir John wrote to Mr Blair.

"They won’t launch strikes until they have a smoking gun. And that may not be until after January 20.

"You should tell him that you might be in the Gulf in the first week of January, and would not want air strikes then. They also need to be reminded that our personnel, eg in Pakistan, will be vulnerable to reprisals if the Americans have longer notice than us.

"We’re all in favour of whacking UBL, but we need a bit of notice and a chance to influence timings."

In June 2001, an Al Qaeda recruitment video featuring Osama bin Laden boasted about the attack and encouraged similar attacks.

Mr Clinton and his successor, George W Bush, were later criticised for not taking action after the USS Cole attack and before September 11, 2001, an atrocity that killed almost 3,000 people.

A report commissioned to investigate the September 11 attacks, was told by president Bush's National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice that when the Republican administration took office on January20, 2001 the evidence against Al Qaeda was "not clear".

Source: The National News

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Türkiye foils Greek plans to decimate Muslim cemetery in W. Thrace

DEC 29, 2022

Türkiye’s intervention prevented Greece’s plans to build a football field over an Ottoman-era Muslim cemetery that was leveled earlier this year in Western Thrace, an official revealed Wednesday.

A cemetery belonging to the Turkish minority in Horozlu (Petinos), a village in Western Thrace's Xanthi (Iskeçe) region, was destroyed by Greek authorities on March 16. Municipal authorities of Bulustra (Avdira) "were planning to turn a part of the cemetery into a sports field," Mustafa Trampa, the mufti (Muslim cleric) of the Turkish minority in the Western Thrace city of Iskeçe, told Anadolu Agency (AA).

Their plans were foiled when the Turkish Foreign Ministry took up the issue, he added.

Ankara had strongly condemned the move, with the Foreign Ministry issuing a statement on March 18 denouncing the cemetery's destruction and calling for restoration "to its former state."

"After Türkiye's statement, the issue gained international prominence," informed Trampa, adding that officials in Bulustra were forced to "withdraw the decision immediately."

He criticized Greek authorities for undermining the Turkish minority's efforts to protect the historical site. "Greece is doing everything it can to remove all traces of Ottoman history, be it baths, mosques, madrasas, or cemeteries, throughout the country and in Western Thrace," said Trampa, who became the mufti of Iskeçe this September.

In its March statement about the Horozlu cemetery, the Turkish Foreign Ministry termed its destruction an "inhuman act."

"Necessary demarches were initiated before Greece regarding this inhuman act, as it turns out it is being carried out with directives from the mayor of Bulustra (Avdira)," the statement read.

"We expect the Greek authorities, who responded positively to our demarches, to show the required sensitivity to finalize the investigation as soon as possible and to bring back the cemetery to its former state," it added.

Greece's Western Thrace region in the country’s northeast is home to a substantial, long-established Muslim Turkish minority of 150,000 people, or around a third of the population. Their rights are guaranteed under the 1923 Treaty of Lausanne, but since then the situation has steadily deteriorated. After a Greek junta came to power in 1967, the Turks of Western Thrace faced harsh persecution and rights violations by the Greek state, often in blatant violation of European court rulings, as the country began to see its Turkish Muslim minority as a “hostage” of its ties with Türkiye.

Even though the junta was toppled in 1974, its mistreatment of the Turkish minority was taken over and continued by successive democratically elected Greek governments.

Türkiye has long decried Greece’s “second-class citizen” treatment and rights violations of the country’s Muslims and Turkish minority, from closing mosques and shutting down schools to preventing them from using the terms "Turk" or "Turkish" while mentioning names of their schools and foundations, and barring them from electing religious representatives. The Turkish union has for years struggled to ensure basic rights for the minority group, calling for international and European Union law, as well as compliance with the rulings of the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR).

Source: Daily Sabah

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Funeral held for Muslim man mistakenly cremated in Germany


A funeral was held on Wednesday for a Muslim man whose body was mistakenly cremated in western Germany.

Abdulkadir Sargin’s devastated family and friends gathered at the Hannover’s central mosque for the funeral prayer, and later buried his ashes in a cemetery in line with the Islamic traditions.

Turkish Ambassador to Germany Ahmet Basar Sen also attended the funeral and promised that they will provide all the necessary assistance to the family members.

The 71-year-old man’s body was cremated a few days after his death at the Hannover Medical School Hospital, as the staff mixed up two dead bodies at the morgue, and sent Sargin’s body to crematorium.

Cremation is not permitted in the Islamic tradition and it is regarded as a desecration of the deceased.

Sargin’s family members said they are taking legal action against the hospital.

- Hospital apologizes for body mix-up

The Hannover Medical School Hospital has issued an apology, and authorities announced that they are investigating the incident.

“The MHH (Hannover Medical School Hospital) deeply regrets the mix-up, we express our sympathy with the relatives. The university has apologized to the family,” a spokesman for the hospital said in a written statement.

Source: Yenisafak

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French singer Julien Drolon embraced Islam after walking 1000 km to find God

Sakina Fatima

29th December 2022

40-year-old Julien Drolon is a distinguished and unique personality, a Frenchman from Nantes, who, during his search for himself, converted to Buddhism, then Christianity, and then embraced Islam in 2012.

Julien Drolon is a French Muslim convert residing in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. He is a former international reporter and singer-songwriter.

In an interview with Halis Media— (a Malaysian media production), Julien narrates his journey to Islam and how he felt a responsibility towards those around him who did not recognize Islam.

Halis Media belongs to Julien and his Malaysian wife and former Opera singer Zara Shafie. The vision of Halis Media is to introduce the pure message of Islam to the world through the most innovative media platforms.

Julien’s journey to Islam

Julien grew up in France in Nantes Catholic, and he was spiritual from an early age and wanted to become a priest.

When Catholicism did not satisfy Julien, his mother directed him towards Buddhism and allowed him to travel at the age of 18. He had the opportunity to travel around the world to more than 50 countries, and Islam was the last thing that crossed his mind.

His mother’s generation abandoned Catholicism for many reasons, but they still believed in God or something spiritual, and Buddhism imposed itself strongly in the 1990s with the presence of the Dalai Lama. They used films to promote, and he loved the peaceful meditation part of Buddhism, which is very similar to solitude in Islam.

What is the thing that made Julien question his beliefs?

Beginning his story Julien said, “So there was a time when I was a singer for a couple of years. When I was in Hongkong for a concert at a festival, I played in front of my favourite singer. I met him and he attended the concert. I felt very humbled and was thinking there must be something not right in my life”

“I didn’t know what it is, but I thought, I am not upon the truth. Suddenly something made me realize. I have a good life and everything. But there’s something missing in my life. I know I don’t live my life the right way. I could not say what it was so that was a trigger,” he added.

Julien decided to walk 1000 kilometres from the border of Spain towards the west coast of Spain. It took him 30 days.

“It was a good experience because I started to try to reflect on God. I met a lot of Christians along the way. So that was a big event because I was talking to God while walking and I was asking him to manifest himself in my life. I wanted to find him. And I believe that walking was part of the process,” he stated.

At the end of the 1000 kilometres journey, how did Julien feel?

“Sadly, after walking 1000 kilometres, I arrived in Santiago de Compostela. I attended a ceremony and there was a Brazilian guy who came towards my way on a bicycle and kind of like scared me. And I told him an insult in Brazilian and he also replied with me something bad. When he felt so bad that I just walked 1000 kilometres I thought I was becoming more holy. So after this event, I realized it’s not enough to walk. You need to walk with something that is giving you the guidance to not hurt other people’s feelings.”

When did Julien hear about Islam?

“When I was in Abu Dhabi, I had to wait to catch a flight to the Philippines. I had six hours to kill. I took a taxi and I heard a song – then I thought it was a song – so I asked the driver ‘What is this song?’ It truly touched my heart. He stopped the car and said brother, it is not a song. It is the Quran. He immediately began warning me. He said brother if you want to save yourself from the fire of Hell; so save yourself and your family and become Muslim,” said Julien.

“Every time I heard the call to prayer in Cyprus, Tanzania or in Dar es Salaam, I would feel something telling me, but I thought that it was a religion specific to the Arabs, so it did not occur to me to ask but I thought it sounds appealing to my heart but I’m not gonna pursue that,” he added.

When he lived in the Philippines and decided to settle there, it put him back on the path to God and he went back to the church.

Julien was trying to go back to Christianity, and after Ramzan in 2012, he was studying Islam at the centre. He prayed to God and said he needed to choose one of the two religions.

So Julien went to the Eid prayer with some Muslim friends that he met, but he was not a Muslim at the time, but loved the spirit, and found it very strong.

Then he pronounced the Shahada online on peace TV and then went to the embassy, attended the sermon, and pronounced the two Shahadas in front of everyone.

After Julian told his mother that he had converted to Islam, she told him, “This is the worst thing you can go to.”

“The reason is not that she does not mind me being a Muslim and not a Buddhist, but rather because the West does not stop selling the idea that Islam oppresses women when in reality we know that Islam has liberated women.”

“I haven’t spoken to my mother for a whole year. We had some problems, and I haven’t spoken to my siblings for a few years, but things are better now, Thank God,” said Julien Drolon.

Julien further adds, “The challenge increased after I became a Muslim. I moved to Malaysia; I had to change my country of residence; Because the Philippines has become a great temptation (Fitna) for me. I stopped working after a year, and I had half a million YouTube fans, and I had a lot of followers, but then I stopped everything. I was making videos with Miss World and some other actresses, but I stopped everything, then went to Malaysia and started Dawah work, and as they say: the rest is history. I married a beautiful Malaysian woman who has been supporting me in all my ventures, and she has been my Khadijah from the start. When you give up something to Allah, it is always good for you, but you have to make a sacrifice.”

Since 2012, Julien has been involved in several Dawah projects including New Muslim Care, which addresses the needs of post-certified converts. Julian is the Business Development Manager for an agricultural trading company presenting investment opportunities in Asia.

Source: Siasat Daily

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Russia’s Putin welcomes return to power of Israel’s Netanyahu

29 December ,2022

Russian President Vladimir Putin on Thursday welcomed the return of Benjamin Netanyahu as head of the Israeli government, noting an intention to strengthen cooperation, the Kremlin said.

Netanyahu was sworn in as prime minister Thursday after a stint in opposition, heading what analysts call the most right-wing government in the country’s history.

“I hope that the new government under your leadership will continue the line of strengthening Russian-Israeli cooperation in all areas for the benefit of our peoples, in the interest of ensuring peace and security in the Middle East,” Putin said in a message to Netanyahu, quoted in the statement.

“In Russia, we greatly appreciate your personal and long-standing contribution to strengthening friendly relations between our countries,” Putin said.

After the beginning of the Russian offensive in Ukraine in February, Israel adopted a cautious position towards Moscow, seeking to maintain neutrality.

Source: Al Arabiya

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Pak National Assembly Speaker rejects PTI's demand of en masse resignations

Dec 30, 2022

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan National Assembly Speaker Raja Pervez Ashraf has rejected the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf's (PTI) demand for the acceptance of en masse resignations of the members of the National Assembly (MNAs), reiterating his stance that each member needs to come individually with a hand-written resignation for verification according to the rules of the National Assembly, according to The News International.

In a meeting with a PTI delegation led by Pakistan's former National Assembly speaker Asad Qaiser at the Parliament House on Thursday, Raja Pervez Ashraf said that the resignations of PTI MNAs could only be accepted under the procedure given in the Constitution and rules of business of the National Assembly, as per The News International report.

The meeting with the Pakistan National Assembly speaker was attended by National Assembly deputy speaker Qasim Khan Suri, PTI chief whip Malik Amir Dogar, Attaullah Khan, Amjad Khan Niazi, Niaz Ahmad Jakhar, Dr Shabbir Hussain Qureshi, Faheem Khan, Lal Chan Malahi and Tahir Iqbal.

Speaking to PTI's delegation, Raja Pervez Ashraf said that the resignations accepted by Qasim Suri were unconstitutional and illegal. He stressed that there was always a place for dialogue and political reconciliation, as per the news report. He added that political consensus was the key to resolving the challenges faced by Pakistan at the present time.

"There is the question of the mandate of eight lakh people given to each member. How can the resignations of all the members be accepted at the request of one of them?" The News International quoted Raja Pervez Ashraf as saying.

Speaking to reporters after the meeting, Ashraf said that he had recommended that the PTI members of the National Assembly come back to the House and play their constitutional role. Referring to a case of Islamabad High Court PLD 2014, Raja Pervez Ashraf said that the office of the NA speaker was not a post office and even mentioned Article 64 of the Constitution and Rule 43 of the Rules of Business of the National Assembly.

Raja Pervez Ashraf said that some PTI members whose resignations were received by the National Assembly Secretariat had applied for leave from the House and some attended the House. According to him, a Member of the National Assembly from Karachi, whose resignation was accepted, approached Islamabad High Court and gave an affidavit that he did not resign.

Source: Times Of India

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Pakistan's Afghan policy failing in the face of an assertive Taliban

Dec 30, 2022

NEW DELHI: Pakistan's Afghan policy is unravelling.

Once considered Islamabad and ISI's protégé, the Taliban have of late shown an increasingly assertive, and even confrontational approach in dealing with Pakistan on frictional issues.

The Chaman border firing incident from early December, in which 9 people were killed on the Pakistani side, is a stark reminder to the changed equations.

The Taliban cannot be remote controlled from across the border- a reality that is now hitting home for Islamabad.

No longer a 'strategic depth'

Few doubt that the Taliban's successful takeover of Afghanistan- that sent the US packing- was covertly aided by Pakistan and its agencies. There were celebrations in Pakistan when the Islamic hardliners seized power in Kabul. Then-Pakistan PM Imran Khan is on record stating "the Taliban had broken the shackles of slavery.”

The erstwhile ISI chief himself travelled to Kabul to oversee formation of the Taliban cabinet in August 2021, and ensured that the "moderates" within the Taliban are sidelined in the new order.

But Islamabad did not get the returns it expected. The "strategic depth" that Pakistan had hoped for from its historical patronage of the Taliban seems to have quickly disappeared.

Pakistan's miscalculations

Pakistan thought it can prevail over the Taliban, specially in matters of security interests.

But soon after seizing power, the Taliban released members of the Pakistani Taliban (Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan or TTP) from Afghan jails. The group has for long waged war against the Pakistan government, with a declared objective to seize power and establish a strict Islamic rule.

The ISI chief could not pull off a Taliban-brokered peace deal with the TTP during his trip to Kabul.

There have been friction over the border issue as well.

The Taliban do not accept the Durand Line, drawn by the British over a century ago, as a settled border with Pakistan. The recent flare ups in Chaman and elsewhere were triggered by Pakistan constructing a border fence.

However the Taliban's confrontational attitude is something quite new.

"The Afghan Taliban think they defeated the US and therefore they can also defeat Pakistan. This may be a misplaced notion, but it certainly creates heightened tensions between the two nations," says an opinion piece published in Afghanistan's Khaama Press news agency.

The killing of al-Qaida leader Ayman al-Zawahiri in Afghanistan in a US drone strike dealt another blow to the Pakistan-Taliban relation, as Pakistan is believed to have allowed use of its airspace for the operation.

Uptick in terrorism incidents in Pakistan

The graph of terrorist incidents and related casualties in Pakistan has shot north since the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan in 2021.

Unsurprisingly, the TTP has claimed or been blamed for most of these incidents.

Pakistan's interior minister Rana Sanaullah has said TTP has between 7,000 to 10,000 fighters in the Afghan border area, and the group has been further bolstered by the success of the Afghan Taliban.

There are talks now within the Pakistani establishment of launching another major military operation against the TTP. Pakistan has carried out several operations against the group in the past two decades, but haven't quite managed to eliminate it completely.

The Afghan imbroglio speaks poorly of Pakistan's reading of the situation, its unrealistic assumptions and flaws in policy making.

Source: Times Of India

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PM Shehbaz chairs NSC meeting amid rising terror incidents

Sanaullah Khan

December 30, 2022

A meeting of the National Security Committee (NSC) — the principal decision-making forum on foreign policy and national security — began on Friday afternoon in Islamabad with Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif in the chair as the country has seen a spate of terrorist attacks.

Senior civilian and military leaders were part of the meeting.

The decision to convene the meeting of the NSC was taken in a meeting between PM Shehbaz and Chief of Army Staff Gen Asim Munir on Thursday, according to a Dawn report.

The meeting between the two took place a day after the corps commanders’ conference at the General Headquarters where the surge in terrorism incidents dominated the agenda.

The military officials will brief the committee on the overall security situation in the country.

Over the past few months, the law and order situation in the country has worsened, with terrorist groups like the outlawed Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), the Islamic State group, and Gul Bahadur Group executing attacks with near impunity across the country.

Insurgents in Balochistan have also stepped up their violent activities and formalised a nexus with the TTP.

The incident at the Khyber-Pakh­tunkhwa police’s Counter-Terrorism Dep­art­ment interrogation centre in Bannu and the botched suicide bombing attempt in Islamabad not only set off alarm bells in the power corridors but also left several countries worried about the security of their nationals.

The US, UK, Australia and Saudi Arabia have issued advisories, asking their nationals to restrict movements in Pakistan and avoid non-essential trips.

Source: Dawn

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Pakistan, Turkish FMs resolve to work together for regional peace, prosperity

December 30, 2022

ISLAMABAD: Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari on Thursday had a telephonic conversation with his Turkish counterpart Mevlüt Çavusoglu and discussed the current situation in Afghanistan as well as bilateral and regional matters.

Both the leaders reiterated their commitment to work together for peaceful and stable Afghanistan and for regional peace and prosperity.

Foreign minister Bilawal appreciated the Turkish solidarity for the flood affected people of Pakistan and continued support for rehabilitation of the flood-hit people and building a climate resistant Pakistan.

Source: Pakistan Today

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Three soldiers martyred in exchange of fire with terrorists in Kurram

December 29, 2022

RAWALPINDI: At least three soldiers of the Pakistan Army embraced martyrdom on Thursday during an exchange of fire with terrorists in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa’s Kurram district, the military said in a statement.

According to Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR), Pakistani troops fought bravely and effectively engaged the terrorists’ location in the Arawali area of the district.

During an intense exchange of fire, it said two terrorists were killed and their weapons and ammunition were also recovered. The killed terrorists remained actively involved in terrorist activities against security forces, the ISPR added.

The military’s media wing stated that 43-year-old resident of Khairpur Subedar Shuja Muhammad, 32-year-old resident of Khuzdar Naik Muhammad Ramzan and 30-year-old resident of Sukkur Sepoy Abdul Rehman embraced martyrdom during the exchange of fire.

It said that a sanitisation of the area is being carried out to eliminate any terrorists found in the area. “Pakistan Army is determined to eliminate the menace of terrorism and such sacrifices of our brave soldiers further strengthen our resolve,” ISPR further said.

The incident came amid a spike in terrorist attacks across the country claimed mostly by the outlawed Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) which unilaterally scrapped a ceasefire in November effectively ending a start-stop negotiation process brokered by the Afghan Taliban.

The TTP, which was comprehensively defeated in a decisive kinetic operation by the military, has found safe havens across the border in Afghanistan from where the group has been directing its terrorist operations in Pakistan.

Islamabad has called these TTP sanctuaries “red-line” and pressed Kabul’s new rulers to take action against them. Experts believe Pakistan’s patience is running thin due to Kabul’s reluctance to crack down on the TTP bases as Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari said during his recent US visit that “all options are on the table” to deal with a resurgent TTP.

Unofficial data show a 51% increase in terrorist violence between August 15, 2021, and August 14, 2022 – almost a year since the Taliban’s takeover of Kabul. At least 433 people were killed and 719 injured in 250 attacks across Pakistan during this period.

A day earlier, the country’s top military commanders vowed to “fight against terrorists without any distinction”. The reiteration of the resolve was made in a huddle of the corps commanders at the GHQ which was presided over by army chief General Syed Asim Munir.

“A comprehensive review of professional and organisational matters of the army was undertaken. It was resolved to fight against terrorists without any distinction and eliminate this menace as per the aspirations of people of the Pakistan,” an ISPR statement had said.

President, PM laud Pakistan Army’s valor for anti-terror action in Kurram District

President Dr Arif Alvi and Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif on Thursday lauded the Pakistan Army for action against terrorists in the Kurram District of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

They paid tribute to the sacrifices of martyred soldiers, including Subedar Shuja Muhammad, Naik Muhammad Ramzan and Sepoy Abdul Rehman.

“We will continue to move forward against terrorism with a firm resolve and steadfastness. Those challenging the security of Pakistan would nowhere find any haven,” the prime minister remarked.

The president resolved that the efforts of the security forces as well as the whole nation would continue till elimination of the scourge from the homeland.

He said the prayers of the whole nation went to their brave security forces.

Source: Pakistan Today

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Muslim rulers do not care about public opinion, says Imran Khan

December 29, 2022

Islamabad: Seeking unity among Muslim leaders for the sake of Muslim Ummah, former Pakistan prime minister Imran Khan urged Organisation of Islamic Countries (OIC) to speak on injustice against Muslim countries.

Imran Khan made the remarks while talking to scholars, academicians, policymakers and students from Turkiye, ARY News reported.

Rulers of Muslim countries must be united for the sake of the Muslim Ummah, the former Pakistani prime minister said. “The problem lies with personal interests as Muslim rulers do not care about public opinion,” he added.

Source: Firstpost

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South Asia


Fleeing Afghan Journalists Live in Limbo in Pakistan, Iran

By Nizamuddin Rezahi

December 30, 2022

Following the overthrow of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan in August 2021, things have drastically changed for the worst for Afghan Journalists and media workers.

Fleeing the Taliban rule, many journalists migrated to the neighboring countries namely Iran and Pakistan in search of safety and peaceful life for their families. However, things did not go as expected.

The many issues these journalists are currently faced with include unemployment, visa extension, legal status issues and more. Many who arrived on short-term visas in the host countries now face serious problems including deportation and imprisonment.

Besides hosting thousands of Afghan refugees over the past four decades, the government of Pakistan in November announced that Afghan citizens without legal documentation will face serious consequences beyond December 2022. The punishment includes imprisonment for up to three years and blacklisting to avoid future travels to Pakistan.

Meanwhile, in Iran, Afghan journalists are facing similar problems as the Islamic Regime keeps deporting Afghan refugees in a regular manner. As refugees, neither they have the affordability to extend their stay visas nor they can return to Afghanistan.

Many Afghan journalists stranded in Pakistan and Iran say the Western countries have abandoned them as they have not heard back from their visa applications over the past year.

“We don’t know what is going to happen to us,” a journalist in Iran said, explaining that the family’s visas expired three months ago. They have applied for refuge in France but have not heard if they will be successful.

“Every minute, it is possible that (Iran will) deport us to Afghanistan. Now, we can’t pay the fine for overstaying. It is 2,000,000 rial ($50) per person per day, and I do not have the money,” he said.

Source: Khaama Press

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Norwegian Refugee Council Chief Urges West to Engage with Islamic Emirate

Jan Egeland, head of Norwegian Refugee Council, NRC, urged the West to engage with the Islamic Emirate.

Egeland made the remarks in a special interview with TOLOnews.

He pointed out to the recent decision of the Islamic Emirate regarding the ban on women from going to schools, universities and work, saying that such decision would affect Kabul relations with the international community.

"I am sure we will find a solution. We found the solution in the past. We never left Afghanistan. The western forces did, the western diplomats did. I am also asking the western diplomats to engage more with the Taliban but again I don't think it is gonna be in Doha then because what is said in Doha, is not what decided in Kabul and Kandahar," Egeland said.

But the Islamic Emirate Spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid said that the international community should first recognize the caretaker government of Afghanistan.

"As the international organizations conduct their operations for humanitarian purposes, they should continue their assistance and link it to rules and laws because the people of Afghanistan need assistance," Mujahid said.

Political analysts said that ban on women will affect the Islamic Emirate's relations with the world.

"The people of Afghanistan even those who are working in government and non-government organizations are facing restrictions, which has concerned aid organizations," said Jannat Fahim Chakari, a political analyst.

"Both sides should seek political engagement considering the deteriorated economic, political and social conditions of our people," said Ahmad Khan Andar, a political analyst.

Source: Tolo News

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Delivering Humanitarian Aid in Afghanistan to Continue: UN

By Nizamuddin Rezahi

December 30, 2022

The United Nations and its humanitarian partners are committed to the delivery of life-saving services to the people of Afghanistan during these difficult times, a UN envoy for Afghanistan said on Thursday.

In a media briefing, in New York, on Thursday, Ramiz Alakbarov, the UN resident and humanitarian coordinator for Afghanistan said, despite the Taliban-run administration’s decision to ban women from working in non-governmental organizations, the UN and its partners will deliver the much-needed humanitarian aid to the people of Afghanistan during these tough times.

“Humanitarian needs of the (Afghan) people are absolutely enormous, and it’s important that we continue to stay and deliver,” Ramiz Alakbarov, UN resident and humanitarian coordinator for Afghanistan, told a press briefing at the UN headquarters in New York.

“We do not believe that it is possible to deliver a comprehensive humanitarian action without the participation of women,” he said.

This comes as Afghanistan’s interim government announced a complete ban on women employees working for private and international non-government organizations effective from December 24. The move prompted massive condemnations on national and international levels, calling on the ruling regime to reverse the decision and allow women to return to work with humanitarian aid agencies.

Source: Khaama Press

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Afghanistan Remains an Important Focus of Pakistan’s Foreign Policy

By Nizamuddin Rezahi

December 29, 2022

Mumtaz Zahra Baloch, the Spokesperson of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Pakistan conducted a media briefing earlier today highlighting the country’s diplomatic efforts in 2022.

During the “Year End Briefing,” the Spokesperson thoroughly explained Pakistan’s diplomatic efforts and achievements in 2022, aimed at enhancing Pakistan’s international profile and revitalizing its external relations in protecting Pakistan’s interests.

Engaging with Afghanistan was one of the core topics of the briefing as Pakistan cautiously seeks its national interests in this country, and continues to represent Afghanistan in the international stages.

“Pakistan has consistently expressed its desire to see a peaceful, prosperous, stable, and connected Afghanistan. We wish that Afghanistan emerges as a trade and energy-connectivity conduit to our region,” Mrs. Baloch said.

Since the takeover of the Taliban in August 2021, Pakistan has pursued continuous and practical engagements with the interim government of Afghanistan. This included a number of high-level visits to Kabul and meetings with the Taliban authorities.

National Security Adviser visited Kabul in January

FM Bilawal Bhutto Zardari met Acting Afghan FM, Mawlawi Amir Khan Muttaqi, on the sidelines of the SCO-CFM held in Tashkent, Uzbekistan in July

Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Ms. Hina Rabbani Khar, visited Kabul on November 29, and meet with high-ranking Afghan authorities

Pakistan participated in the Moscow Format talks held in Moscow in November

Pakistan participated in Troika Plus Conference in China in March

Besides all the formal meetings, Pakistan had two cross-border incidents with Afghan security forces in December, causing the death and injuries of many people. Additionally, the Head of Pakistan’s Diplomatic Mission in Kabul was attacked on 2nd December. Following the terror attack and the cross-border arm clashes, the relations between the two neighboring countries have soured in the recent past, each side having its own justifications for the cause.

Meanwhile, the Pakistani government expressed its dismay over the recent decisions taken by the Afghan interim government barring women from attending universities and participating in public life. In a separate statement, Pakistan called on the Afghan de facto authorities to reverse the decision and ensure equal access to education for all segments of society.

Source: Khaama Press

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Jordanian monarch warns of 'new intifada’ amid Israel's intensified crimes against Palestinians

29 December 2022

Jordanian King Abdullah II says his country, which serves as the custodian of the al-Aqsa Mosque compound – Islam’s third holiest site, is prepared for conflict if its “red lines” over the sacred site in the Old City of al-Quds are crossed.

He also expressed concern that a third Palestinian intifada, or uprising, might break out amid rising Israeli brutality in the occupied territories.

“We have to be concerned about a next intifada,” the Jordanian monarch said in an interview with CNN television news network that was broadcast on Wednesday.

“If that happens, that's a complete breakdown of law and order and one that neither the Israelis nor Palestinians will benefit from,” he pointed out.

His remarks came as Benjamin Netanyahu is set to be sworn in as Israeli prime minister, marking a personal return to power for the man who is already the Tel Aviv regime’s longest-serving premier, and the arrival of a new far-right cabinet that has sparked fears among Palestinians as well as left-wing Israelis.

The 73-year-old Netanyahu, who was prime minister between 1996 and 1999, and then between 2009 and 2021, addressed a session of the Israeli parliament, or Knesset, on Thursday, before a vote of confidence in the new administration is held.

Under a 2013 agreement signed between Jordan and the Palestinian Authority, King Abdullah II is the custodian of the Muslim and Christian holy sites in al-Quds.

The Royal Hashemite Court pays the salaries of workers at the Muslim holy places.

“If people want to get into a conflict with us, we are quite prepared,” the Jordanian leader said when asked if he felt the incoming Israeli cabinet threatened the status quo in al-Quds and the Hashemite custodianship.

“We have set red lines and if people want to push those red lines then we will deal with that,” he noted.

Intifada refers to uprisings against the Israeli regime, the first which took place between 1987 and 1993, where more than 1,300 Palestinians were killed.

The second intifada took place between 2000 and 2005, where Israel killed at least 4,973 Palestinians. This was also the time when the whole world watched the cold-blooded killing of 12-year-old Palestinian Muhammad al-Durrah by the apartheid regime.

The Jordanian king warned about the region's ability to keep a lid on any third outbreak.

“That's a tinderbox that if it flashes, it's something that I don't think we’ll be able to walk away from in the near future,” he said.

Abdullah also pointed to an outpouring of support for Palestine among citizens of the Arab world during the FIFA World Cup in Qatar, as evidence that a resolution to the decades-long Israeli-Palestinian conflict was the only way for the Israeli regime to integrate fully into the region.

“Integration of Israel into the region is not going to happen unless there is a future for the Palestinians,” he said.

“If we (country leaders) can't solve this problem, the street is naturally going to be sympathetic to the Palestinian cause,” the Jordanian king said.

Israeli occupation forces and settlers have been escalating their attacks against Palestinian civilians in the West Bank and other occupied areas, in an attempt to forcibly expel Palestinians from their lands and make way for expanding illegal Israeli settlements.

Since the start of 2022, Israeli troops have killed more than 220 Palestinians, including more than 50 children, in the occupied West Bank and East al-Quds as well as in the besieged Gaza Strip.

Source: Press TV

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Palestinians to intensify resistance against Israel’s settlement expansion: Hamas

29 December 2022

The head of the political bureau of Palestine’s resistance movement Hamas has warned Israel against its land grab policies, stressing that the illegal construction activities will be confronted with intensified resistance.  

Ismail Haniyeh made the remarks on Thursday, in response to incoming Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's comments a day earlier, who called expansion of the regime's illegal settlements across the occupied Palestinian territories and elsewhere a top priority of his cabinet.

The Hamas chief further warned that the political approaches of the upcoming Israeli cabinet headed by Netanyahu will aggravate the situation, emphasizing that the priority of the Palestinian people is to counter the policies of the new Israeli regime through resistance and unity.

“The settlements will be confronted by escalating the resistance, expanding its area, and applying pressure by all means available to uproot the settlers and the occupying entity from all the land of Palestine,” he said.

On Wednesday, Netanyahu announced that his cabinet "will advance and develop" the regime's illegal settlements throughout the occupied territories, including "in the Galilee, the Negev Desert, the Golan Heights, and Judea and Samaria (the West Bank)."

The Palestinian Authority (PA) denounced as “dangerous” Netanyahu's comments, saying the new cabinet’s settlement expansion policy is against international resolutions.

The Israeli regime has stepped up its illegal settlement construction activities in defiance of United Nations Security Council Resolution 2334, which pronounces settlements in the occupied West Bank and East al-Quds “a flagrant violation under international law.

More than 600,000 Israelis live in over 230 settlements built since the 1967 Israeli occupation of the West Bank and East al-Quds.

Source: Press TV

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Iran, Hezbollah, Syria sole supporters of Palestinians: Islamic Jihad chief

30 December 2022

Secretary General of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad resistance movement Ziyad al-Nakhalah has called Iran, Syria, and Lebanon’s Hezbollah the sole supporters of Palestinians in the face of Israeli occupation, calling on the Arab world to “fulfill their duties.”

In an interview with Lebanon’s Al-Mayadeen on Thursday, al-Nakhalah touched upon the continued Israeli aggression on the occupied territories, noting that a “true armed intifada is taking place in the West Bank.”

“We are fighting the United States in Israel, for it is its main backer. Meanwhile, we do not see any backers of Palestine aside from Iran, Hezbollah, and Syria,” he said.

He said the resistance group is ready to receive support from any other Islamic country, calling on the Arab world to “fulfill their duties” toward Palestine.

This comes as some regional countries, including the UAE, Bahrain, Morocco, and Sudan, started normalization of ties with Israel in 2020 under the so-called Abraham Accords. Palestinians have described the measure as a stab in their back.

Nakhalah said the enemy seeks to “delude” the world by claiming that Iran is using Palestinians as “cannon fodders” in its war against Israel, highlighting, “this is a false narrative.”

Israel’s probable aggression on Gaza in 2023

Elsewhere, the PIJ chief said he expects a new round of Israeli aggression on the besieged Gaza Strip in 2023.

“Gaza is not isolated from the developments in the West Bank, and it is preparing itself for battle. It is not completely off the table for Gaza to maintain a presence on the battlefield,” he said.

Resistance forces in Gaza will support the West Bank “through thick and thin”, he said, adding that they are ready to participate in any battle if the situation calls for an intervention.

The remarks come amid the increasing Israeli violence in the occupied territories which has made 2022 the deadliest year for Palestinians.

Meanwhile, Benjamin Netanyahu has been sworn in as Israeli prime minister, marking a personal return to power for someone who is already the Tel Aviv regime’s longest-serving premier.

“The new cabinet seeks to expand settlements in the West Bank and we will confront it,” Nakhalah said, expressing hopes for increased support from Arab countries.

Israeli occupation forces and settlers have been escalating their attacks against Palestinian civilians in the West Bank and other occupied areas, in an attempt to forcibly expel Palestinians from their lands and make way for expanding illegal Israeli settlements.

Since the start of 2022, Israeli troops have killed more than 220 Palestinians, including more than 50 children in the occupied West Bank and East al-Quds as well as in the besieged Gaza Strip.

Source: Press TV

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Israeli envoy to France resigns in protest of new Netanyahu gov't

Burak Dag  


The Israeli ambassador in France resigned from her post in protest against the new coalition government in Tel Aviv, local media reported.

In a letter to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Yael German declared that her conscience would not allow her to represent the six-time premier's new administration.

She said she would not be able to "represent policies that are so radically different from what I believe in," The Times of Israel newspaper reported.

"Sadly, the government you established and lead, including representatives of parties whose extreme positions are expressed in the fundamental positions of the government, its policies and its statements on legislation -- are invalid in my eyes," she said.

German, who served as mayor of the coastal city Herzliya for 25 years until 2013, joined now-opposition leader Yair Lapid's Yesh Atid party in 2013. She also served as Health Minister in 2013-2014.

After becoming foreign minister in 2021, Yair Lapid appointed her as the country's ambassador to France.

Source: Anadolu Agency

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Palestinian forces urged to unite against Netanyahu regime

December 29, 2022

RAMALLAH: A senior Palestinian political leader has called for a united struggle against the incoming government in Israel, labelling it racist and extremist, and warning that its declared goal is to “deepen and consolidate an apartheid regime.”

Mustafa Barghouti, secretary-general of the Palestinian National Initiative Movement, urged all Palestinian forces to join together in an immediate bid to boycott and isolate the new Israeli leadership.

His comments came after Israel’s hawkish veteran Benjamin Netanyahu was sworn in as prime minister on Thursday, returning for a sixth term 18 months after having been ousted from power.

The Israeli parliament voted to approve his government and elected former minister Amir Ohana as the Knesset’s speaker.

Barghouti pointed to Netanyahu’s earlier statements that all the land of Palestine belongs to the Jews only and that the right to self-determination is reserved for them.

The new government will deepen and consolidate the apartheid regime against Palestinians living in Israel and the occupied territories by insisting on implementing the law of the Jewish state, he said.

Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip are growing increasingly fearful over policies that the Israeli leadership may adopt in the coming weeks.

Annexing lands in the West Bank, changing the status quo at Al-Aqsa Mosque, and weakening the Palestinian Authority through military or financial measures are areas of particular concern.

While the PA is preparing to deal with the changing political landscape, many Palestinians fear its tactics and methods will fail to thwart the Netanyahu’s government.

Concerns are growing that the Fatah movement, the largest Palestinian party, is preoccupied with internal disputes over who will succeed 87-year-old President Mahmoud Abbas.

At the same time, the PA has no ability to pressure Israel other than by threatening to end security coordination.

Israel no longer takes the Palestinian president’s threats seriously, some say.

On Dec. 27, Abbas announced that he will lead a national committee including Palestinian diplomatic and legal experts in an international campaign against the new Israeli government.

Shawan Jabarin, director of Al-Haq Foundation for Human Rights, told Arab News that the Israeli leadership’s “extremist religious and ideological dimension” is likely to transform the conflict with Palestinians from a political dispute into a bloody religious rivalry.

“This is a very dangerous transformation,” he said.

However, Jabarin believes that Palestinians now have an opportunity to “expose the true face of the Israeli occupation to the world and embarrass Israel.”

He said that the composition of the Israeli leadership “will constitute an embarrassment to both the EU and the US, as it will harm them to take practical steps against the policy and approach of this government.”

A Hamas source in Gaza, who declined to be named, told Arab News that the movement considers all Israeli governments harmful. But the new government is worse than its predecessors.

The existence of such a government would justify military action by Hamas against Israel, which would be popularly accepted and understood by regional countries, the source said.

Mukhaimer Abu Saada, a professor of political science at Al-Azhar University in Gaza, said that Palestinians have an understandable fear of the Netanyahu government annexing the West Bank and confiscating the lands of Palestinian citizens in Israel.

He voiced fears that the government will try to perpetuate the separation of the West Bank from the Gaza Strip.

“I do not think Israel will succeed in separating Gaza from the escalation in Al-Aqsa Mosque and the West Bank,” Abu Saada told Arab News.

Speaking after he was sworn in as Israel’s leader, Netanyahu presented the primary lines of the government’s policy and said: “The new government is starting today amid the 75th year of Israel’s independence. 

“In the next four years, we will work so that Israel will be a world power in the centennial year of our independence.  To do this, we must perform three major tasks. The first is to thwart Iran’s efforts to obtain nuclear weapons.”

He added: “The second task is to develop the country’s infrastructure, including developing a bullet train. The third task is to continue to expand the circle of peace with Arab countries to end the Israeli-Arab conflict.”

Outgoing prime minister Yair Lapid left the Knesset without shaking hands with Netanyahu, who updated the profile on his official Twitter account to “prime minister.”

In a signed letter to Netanyahu, more than 100 retired Israeli ambassadors and foreign ministry officials voiced concerns about the incoming government.

The former diplomats, including former ambassadors to France, India and Turkiye, expressed “profound concern at the serious damage to Israel’s foreign relations, its international standing and its core interests abroad emanating from the policy of the incoming government.”

The letter also pointed to “statements made by potential senior office-holders in the government and the Knesset,” reports of policy changes in the West Bank, and “some possible extreme and discriminatory laws” as points of concern.

Netanyahu returns as prime minister with the support of several far-right figures once consigned to the fringes of Israeli politics.

Itamar Ben Gvir, once convicted of incitement to racism and terrorism, will take on a newly expanded role as national security minister, overseeing police operations in Israel, as well as some police activity in the occupied West Bank.

Bezalel Smotrich, leader of the Religious Zionism party, has been named minister of finance and also given the power to appoint the head of an Israeli military unit that handles border crossings and permits for Palestinians.

During his campaign, Smotrich proposed drastic legal reforms that were seen by many critics as an attempt to undermine judicial independence.

Source: Arab News

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Record number of Israeli settlers stormed al-Aqsa Mosque compound in 2022: Official

30 December 2022

The Islamic organization running the al-Aqsa Mosque compound's affairs says a record number of Israeli settlers stormed the Muslim holy site in 2022.

So far this year, as many as 48,238 settlers have violated the compound, which is Islam's third-holiest site, Azzam Khatib, director of the Islamic Waqf Department was quoted by the official Palestinian Wafa news agency as saying on Thursday.

The official described the number of violations as unprecedented.

Ever since occupying the Palestinian territory of the West Bank, including East al-Quds which houses the compound, in 1967, the Israeli regime has been enforcing restrictions on the Palestinians' right to worship at the site.

The regime's military, however, regularly provides protection for the illegal settlers' tours of the holy site as means of hurting the religious sentiments of the Palestinians and their fellow Muslims around the world.

According to the official, the Israeli extremists have been resorting to provocative conduct while storming the compound, including performing Jewish rituals at the site and raising the occupying regime's flag there.

Khatib stressed that "al-Aqsa Mosque is an Islamic holy place with...all its features and facilities [both] above and below the ground."

He described the site as "a pure mosque for Muslims alone all over the world that does not accept division or partnership," despite the Israeli regime's attempts at manipulating its long religious, historical, and legal status quo.

Source: Press TV

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Southeast Asia


Muslim radicals halt Christmas celebrations in Indonesia; president visits churches

DECEMBER 29, 2022

SURABAYA, Indonesia – Muslim villagers in West Java, Indonesia, on Christmas Day stopped a congregation from celebrating Christmas in a home, according to various sources.

The interference came within hours of Indonesian President Joko Widodo’s historic visits to two churches in nearby Bogor, where he urged congregations to continue harmonious relations with people of other faiths.

In Cilebut Barat, Sukaraja District, about 64 kilometers (39 miles) south of Jakarta, the group of Muslims lined up outside a home where Batak Christian Church’s Christmas Day worship was planned and kept worshippers from entering the home, according to video footage appearing on social media.

A woman from the church is heard in the video pleading with the group to leave them alone.

“Come on, many of you insult us, are tyrannizing us,” she says. “Please, the worship service is only a few minutes, so it’s up to you to talk about [relenting]. Please, come on.”

After a passerby apparently urges the Muslims to give no response, the woman repeatedly asks what loss would they incur from the service that would cause them to forbid worship on Christmas. She is repeatedly told only that the home is not a church building.

Onlookers, police officers and soldiers present make no response to the Christian woman in the video.

In North Sulawesi Province on the island of Sulawesi, nearly 20 Muslims in Buyat Selatan village, Kotabunan District stopped members of Rototok Advent Church from holding Christmas Day worship at a home, also saying a house is not a church building, according to online news outlet

The Rev. Henrek Lokra, executive secretary of justice and peace of the Communion of Christian Churches (PGI), said the ban on home worship in Cilebut Barat arose from misunderstanding among local residents.

“Residents’ rejection of the Christmas service is an expression of misunderstanding of Christian worship and Christmas celebration,” Lokra said. “Christian worship is a fellowship of people who worship God. So as long as the requirements for building a house of worship have not [yet] been met, worship which is an existence of Christians or members of any religion may not be prohibited or inhibited.”

Local residents, religious leaders and government officials alike lack understanding of Christian fellowship, and contributing to conflict is “the weakness of religious leaders and local government officials in educating and mediating the community regarding prerequisites for establishing a house of worship,” Lokra said.

Requirements for obtaining permission to build houses of worship in Indonesia are onerous and hamper the establishment of such buildings for Christians and other faiths, rights advocates say. Indonesia’s Joint Ministerial Decree of 2006 makes requirements for obtaining permits nearly impossible for most new churches.

Even when small, new churches are able to meet the requirement of obtaining 90 signatures of approval from congregation members and 60 from area households of different religions, they are often met with delays or lack of response from officials. Well-organized radical Muslims secretly mobilize outside people to intimidate and pressure members of minority faiths.

Conflicts over religious minorities’ houses of worship have increased since the reformation era that followed the end of President Suharto’s regime in 1998. Since 2018, there have been 398 incidents of religious conflict targeting houses of worship, according to the Setara Institute.

Indonesia is ranked 28th in Open Doors 2022 World Watch List of the 50 countries where it is most difficult to be a Christian.

The halts to Christmas worship notwithstanding, 2022 was memorable for many Christians in Indonesia as their president, popularly known as Jokowi, paid visits to two major churches on Christmas, a first in the country’s 77-year history.

Jokowi, a Muslim who has said politics and religion should be separate, visited and greeted Christians at Zebaoth Indonesian Protestant Church and at the Catholic Cathedral, seat of the Bogor Diocese Bishop in West Java. At Zebaoth Christian Church, according to local media, Jokowi stated that he expected all Christians to be able to celebrate this Christmas peacefully and happily.

“We should continue to maintain the relationship with each other, strengthen brotherhood and bolster harmony between us,” he said to the congregation’s applause.

Speaking before the final Mass blessing at Bogor Cathedral, Jokowi appealed for efforts to maintain a unified Indonesia.

“Let’s keep maintaining our brotherhood together and strengthening our harmony for the advancement of the Unitary State of the Republic of Indonesia,” he reportedly said from the pulpit. “Merry Christmas, may God bless us all.”

The parish priest, the Rev. Paulus Haruno, said the visit was a special gift as there was no prior notice.

Source: Christian Post

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Risking death at sea, Rohingya Muslims seek safety in Indonesia

December 29, 2022

By Hidayatullah Tahjuddin

PIDIE, Indonesia, Dec 29 (Reuters) - Crying with relief after a traumatic 40-day voyage to Indonesia in a leaky boat, Rohingya Muslim Fatimah bin Ismail held a mobile phone with shaky hands as she made a video call to relatives.

The 19-year-old was among 174 surviving Rohingya in the overloaded wooden fishing boat when it washed up on the shores of Indonesia's Aceh province this week. Around 200 had been on board, fleeing poverty and persecution, when it set off across the Indian Ocean from Bangladesh on Nov. 21.

Of the 20 or more who died along the way, some leapt into the water in desperation after the boat broke down and started to drift, fearing it would sink.

"Three men jumped because they couldn't handle the hunger. Then after 12 days water started coming into the boat," Fatimah told Reuters.

"There were bodies floating in the water, here and there. We couldn't do anything."

The Rohingya are a Muslim people from mainly Buddhist Myanmar, where they have long suffered repression.

Since a crackdown by Myanmar's military in 2017, around 800,000 have been forced into Bangladesh, UN authorities estimate, but thousands have fled increasingly desperate conditions in refugee camps there.

Many try to get to Muslim-majority Indonesia, where the UN refugee agency says nearly 500 Rohingya have reached land in the past six weeks, or to Malaysia.

Indonesian authorities have been providing them with medical assistance, food and temporary shelter, while working with global refugee agencies to ascertain their legal status.

Source: Reuters

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Al Jabbar Mosque as new landmark to promote West Java

Bandung, West Java (ANTARA) - The West Java Government stated that the Grand Al Jabbar Mosque, Gedebage, Bandung City, was not merely a new center of worship activities for the community but also become a new attractive site to promote the region on a global scale.

Acting Head of the Government Bureau and Regional Autonomy at the West Java Government Dodit Ardian Pancapana stated in Bandung on Thursday that the mosque has expanded the number of landmarks for West Java's promotion.

He noted that the Al Jabbar Mosque, which can accommodate some 50 thousand worshipers, will become part of overseas promotional materials.

"In the past, West Java's only landmark was Gedung Sate. Now there is a new one. Of course, it will appear in our promotional materials overseas or in international relations. Moreover, architecture-wise, this is great," Pancapana affirmed.

Moreover, the mosque could be used as a new location to hold activities pertaining to foreign cooperation, he remarked.

"So, Al Jabbar functions as a center of worship, which will later be developed to better introduce West Java on a global scale. Hence, it is not only a place of (dawah) but can also be part of an effort to reach Muslims globally," he said.

Al Jabbar Mosque has a magnificent and special building. Apart from being a place of worship, the Al Jabbar Mosque has educational, tourist, and social functions.

Production Manager of the Al Jabbar Mosque Construction Project Affy Primadhian said many of the mosque's features were designed by Governor of West Java Ridwan Kamil when he was mayor of Bandung, one of them being the main building without a center pillar.

"The Al Jabbar Mosque construction has many special things, particularly in terms of the design that Mr. Ridwan Kamil himself made. It is a challenge for us to finish this work in accordance with the expected design," he remarked.

Source: Antara News

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Arab World


Egypt’s president backs bigger private role in line with IMF demands

December 29, 2022

CAIRO: Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi on Thursday approved a document outlining 62 economic activities the state will withdraw from and turn over the private sector, a cabinet statement said.

The document’s approval was required by the International Monetary Fund, which this month approved a 46-month, $3 billion financial support package for Egypt.

The policy aims to give the private sector a greater role in helping to grow the economy, create jobs and increase investment and exports, the statement said.

It did not specify which economic activities would be made private, but in May the country outlined an array of state assets that would be offered to private investors.

Source: Arab News

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Saudi Arabia: 100 new Muslim converts perform Umrah

Sakina Fatima

30th December 2022

Riyadh: 100 new Muslim converts visited the Grand Mosque, Makkah in Saudi Arabia on Wednesday to perform the Umrah for the first time, the Saudi Press Agency (SPA) reported.

The General Presidency for the Affairs of the Grand Mosque and the Prophet’s Mosque has received 100 new Muslims from all over the world to visit the Grand Mosque and Prophet’s Mosque and the facilities of the Presidency.

The Presidency received the new Muslims while represented by the Public Relations and Institutional Communication Agency, based on the community partnership between the Presidency and the Abdul Qadir Al-Muhaidib Foundation for Community Service, which conducts the (World Pilgrimage Program) for new Muslims for 2022 from 30 country.

The special program for them includes introducing them to the principles of true Islam, and teaching them the rituals of Umrah, by holding a number of lessons in jurisprudential matters (Fiqh).

The Field Awareness Affairs Agency has also offered members of mutawwifs (pilgrim guides) to accompany the new Muslims inside the Grand Mosque. They have also visited the King Abdulaziz Complex for Holy Kaaba Kiswa.

It is noteworthy that the new Muslims were received in Madinah. They then paid a visit to the Prophet’s Mosque library, as the Umrah rituals were introduced to them, in addition to answering their Fiqh questions.

Source: Siasat Daily

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At least 10 workers killed in attack near oil field in Syria’s Deir Ezzor

30 December ,2022

An attack in eastern Syria killed 10 oil field workers, state news agency SANA reported on Friday.

In addition to the dead, “two others have been wounded in a terrorist attack that targeted three buses transporting workers from al-Taim oil field in Deir Ezzor” province, the report said.

SANA did not provide any information on the nature of the attack or who may be behind it, but a British-based war monitor accused “cells of ISIS” of carrying out the assault near the oil field.

Source: Al Arabiya

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Syria’s Kurds launch offensive against ISIS after deadly prison attack

29 December ,2022

Syrian Kurdish-led forces said Thursday they had launched an offensive against ISIS fighters, days after extremist gunmen launched a deadly prison attack.

Six Kurdish fighters were killed Monday when ISIS militants attacked a complex in Raqqa, the extremist group’s former de facto capital in Syria, in a bid to free fellow militants imprisoned there.

The Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces said the offensive, dubbed “Operation al-Jazeera Thunderbolt,” aimed to “eliminate” ISIS gunmen from areas that had been “the source of the recent terrorist attacks.”

The SDF said the operation was being carried out alongside the US-backed coalition, although there was no immediate confirmation from the international force that they were taking part.

The SDF statement said that in addition to the thwarted Raqqa attack, ISIS fighters had recently carried out eight assaults in the northern Syrian areas of Deir Ezzor, Hasakeh and the al-Hol camp for displaced people, which houses family members of ISIS militants.

Referencing recent Turkish airstrikes on Kurdish forces in northeast Syria, the SDF said ISIS was trying to “take advantage” of the situation by “carrying out more terrorist attacks.”

After a meteoric rise in Iraq and Syria in 2014, ISIS saw its so-called caliphate collapse, but fighters remain.

Supported by an international anti-extremist coalition led by the United States, the SDF spearheaded the fight against ISIS in Syria and drove the group from its last stronghold in the country in 2019.

ISIS continues to claim attacks in Iraq and Syria, and the SDF regularly launches operations against the extremists in Syria.

The group said Monday’s attack on Raqqa aimed to avenge “Muslim prisoners” and female relatives of extremists living in al-Hol camp.

Source: Al Arabiya

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Dubai court authorizes jailed Brit’s fraud extradition: Lawyers

29 December ,2022

A Dubai court Thursday authorized the extradition of a British national wanted over an alleged 1.7 billion euro tax fraud in Denmark, the suspect’s defense team said, ahead of a further ruling by a higher court.

Hedge fund trader Sanjay Shah was arrested in Dubai in June, but the emirate’s Court of Appeal in September rejected an extradition request by Denmark, before it overturned that decision on Thursday, according to Horizons & Co, a firm which is representing Shah.

“Today’s decision confirms that Mr Shah can be extradited from the UAE,” it said in a statement.

Shah will not be extradited immediately.

“We now have 30 days in which to appeal today’s judgement in the Court of Cassation, the highest Court in the UAE,” said Horizons & Co’s Managing Partner Ali Al Zarooni.

“The decision of the Court of Cassation, which we anticipate in the next two months, will be final,” the statement quoted him as saying.

Shah is accused of running a scheme for three years from 2012 in which foreign firms pretended to own shares in Danish companies and claimed tax refunds.

Shah has said he is not guilty and claims he did not violate Danish law, according to domestic media in the United Arab Emirates. He was arrested under a bilateral extradition treaty signed in March.

“It has required a sustained effort from Danish diplomacy to reach this point and a constructive cooperation with the Emirati authorities,” Danish foreign minister Lars Lokke Rasmussen told Danish news agency Ritzau.

Source: Al Arabiya

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Edutainment for kids, adults at Riyadh Toy Festival


December 29, 2022

RIYADH: The Riyadh Toy Festival kicked off this week offering a wide range of entertainment and educational programs for children of all ages, including on science, health and medicine.

Located near Boulevard Riyadh City, the 10-day event features live entertainment with popular characters from “Transformers,” “My Little Pony,” “Sonic” and “Barbie.” There are 35 areas showcasing famous international toy brands.

The festival includes several sub-zones such as “Downtown” for girls, “Countryside” for preschool kids, “Adrenaline Valley” with virtual reality activities, and the “Hasbro Gaming” area, which features life-sized games for families.

In the “Barbie” areas, children can have fun learning about different professions in an engaging environment.

Sara Nasser, mother of 5-year-old Mohammed, told Arab News it was important for children to acquire knowledge in a relaxed environment.

“I am a nurse and my husband is a radiologist, and we encourage our son to constantly ask questions about science and the human body,” said Nasser. She said Mohammed immediately gravitated toward the doctors’ station in the “Barbie” area.

Dr. Aya (who asked for only her first name to be used), an infectious diseases medical practitioner responsible for the doctors’ station, takes the children on a detailed journey through the human body.

“There are five stations that I have prepared to enlighten kids on the different types of doctors and have them engage with through physical application and virtual reality to keep up with the digital age,” she said.

The first station is about the digestive system, where kids are allowed to see step-by-step how food is processed in the body.

“One of the aspects I focused on engaging these kids with is where and how fat is digested in the system. And I was surprised by one (question) a kid asked because it showed me that he was making associations between what he was learning here and the real world.”

She said the child immediately told her that junk food was bad because it was digested much later in the intestines than healthier food.

Source: Arab News

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Ten oil field workers killed in Syria attack: State media

December 30, 2022

DAMASCUS: An attack in eastern Syria killed 10 oil field workers, state news agency SANA reported on Friday.

In addition to the dead, “two others have been wounded in a terrorist attack that targeted three buses transporting workers from Al-Taim oil field in Deir Ezzor” province, the report said.

SANA did not provide any information on the nature of the attack or who may be behind it, but a British-based war monitor accused “cells of the Daesh group” of carrying out the assault near the oil field.

Source: Arab News

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Former President of Niger, Grand Mufti of the Caucasus join Muslim Council of Elders in 2022


ABU DHABI, 29th December, 2022 (WAM) -- The Muslim Council of Elders added this year two new members to an existing array of Islamic scholars, experts and specialists who are known for their wisdom, independence and moderateness.

In July 2022, Dr. Ahmed Al-Tayeb, Chairman of the Muslim Council of Elders, issued a decree selecting Allahshukur Pashazadeh, Grand Mufti of the Caucasus, as the newest member of the Council.

Pashazadeh is the spiritual leader of Muslims in Azerbaijan, the Republic of Georgia, and Dagestan, Kabardino-Balkaria, Ingushetia, Chechnya, Karachay–Cherkessia, and Adygea in the Russian Federation.

He is also the Chairman of the Baku International Centre for Interfaith and Intercivilisational Cooperation (BCIC), the Co-chair of CIS Interreligious Council, the Chairman of the Advisory Council of Muslim Leaders of CIS and the current Chairman of the Supreme Religious Board of Caucasian peoples.

As the leader of Azeri Muslims, he has made concerted efforts to promote interreligious dialogue, tolerance and multiculturalism on a local and international level.

In August 2022, the Grand Imam issued another decree selecting Mahamadou Issoufou, former President of Niger as the newest member of the Council.

Issoufou served as the President of Niger from April 2011 to April 2021. Issoufou was also the prime minister of Niger from 1993 to 1994 and President of the African nation's National Assembly from 1995 to 1996.

The former Nigerien politician is a recipient of the 2020 Ibrahim Prize for Achievement in African Leadership for his efforts in the economic development of his country while working for regional stability, as well as his engagement to limit himself to two terms, leading to the first ever democratic transition of power in Niger. He is also a member of the Judging Committee of the 2022 edition of the Zayed Award for Human Fraternity.

The Muslim Council of Elders is an independent international organisation that promotes peace in Muslim communities by discouraging conflict and other issues that lead to divisiveness.

Source: WAM

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UN denies support for forming new gov’t in Libya

Mohamed Artemah



The UN mission in Libya on Thursday denied reports about supporting the formation of a new government in the war-torn country.

In a statement, the UN Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) called on Libyan rivals to refrain from any actions that could threaten the “fragile stability” in the country.

Local media reports emerged on Wednesday about UN envoy Abdoulaye Bathily’s desire to form a new government in Libya, in an effort to resolve the conflict in the country.

“UNSMIL notes false online reports that SRSG Bathily plans to announce a new roadmap, including a new government,” the mission said in a statement.

“This sort of fake news is aimed at generating confusion about the current political process and in particular the role of UNSMIL which is not to impose but to support a Libyan-Libyan solution,” it added.

The UN mission called on all parties “to refrain from any actions that could threaten Libya’s fragile stability, including spreading misleading and unfounded information.”

Bathily “stresses that any roadmap should be designed through inclusive dialogue among Libyan stakeholders acting in full respect of the rights, interests and aspirations of all Libyan people to be governed by legitimate leadership and institutions,” the statement said.

Oil-rich Libya has remained in turmoil since 2011 when longtime ruler Muammar Gaddafi was ousted after four decades in power.

Source: Anadolu Agency

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More children suffering from malnutrition in Somalia amid looming famine

Mohammed Dhaysane  


BAIDOA, Somalia

The South West state in Somalia is the most drought-affected region in the country and Baidoa, the state’s administrative capital, has seen an increase in the number of children affected by the prolonged drought that is the worst in a generation.

Hospitals and medical facilities in the city are overcrowded with children with severe acute malnutrition. Most are from low-income families and residents of internally displaced persons (IDP) camps in and on the outskirts of the city.

Garan Ibrahim Yerow, 20, is a mother of two children, who was sitting on a hospital bed with 2-year-old Maido Isack Mohamed who has been experiencing drought-related illnesses for two months.

She told Anadolu Agency at the SOS Children's Villages Baidoa District Hospital that Maido is malnourished and she had to walk 6 kilometers (4 miles) to reach the hospital to get free treatment and health care services it provides.

“I started walking before sunrise to become the first parent to reach here. The doctors told me that my child is severely malnourished and too weak to carry and recommended to keep my child at the hospital for a week,” Yarow told Anadolu Agency emotionally.

Yarow and her husband had a small farm and livestock in a settlement 30 kilometers (18 miles) west of Baidoa. She fled because of the drought and built a small makeshift house at an IDP camp in Baidoa. She said that while she is at the hospital, her unemployed husband goes to town to find a job to try to feed her family.

She is not alone. Abdiyo Borow Osman, 24, a mother of four, has been visiting the hospital to get treatment for her child who was admitted because of malnutrition and health complications.

Her husband Abdirahman Mohamed said he cannot afford to go to a private hospital.

'Situation is very bad'

“I don’t have any money and haven’t received assistance from the humanitarians since we arrived a few weeks ago,” Mohamed said. “I am trying to work hard but I cannot afford to feed my family every day. The worst situation I am having now is that my son is malnourished and he has also got swelling but I have a feeling that he will recover by the Grace of Allah.”

Hospital director Mohamed Daud Mohamed told Anadolu Agency that the number of children admitted in the last four months has increased.

He said his facility has admitted as many as 180 children with severe malnutrition, associated with medical complications.

“The situation is very bad as we have seen the number of malnutrition cases increase. Over six children who were severely malnourished died in this stabilization center because the people of rural areas always come when the situation of the children are on the verge of death,” said Mohamed.

Habibo Adan Ali, 17, has a baby girl named Ikhlas Abdullahi Adan who was admitted after her parents walked more than 30 kilometers. She is now stable but the latest illness with malnutrition took her to the limit.

Ali said she traveled to Baidoa and plans to permanently settle here after her child recovers. She said there is no reason to return because there is no medical facility in her village, Misgaale.

“A lot of people I know are in a bad situation and humanitarians can’t reach there because of the security so we made a decision that we will not go back to our village because I need medical help, humanitarian assistance and I believe we can get all that in this big town,” she said.

Drought-related illness have skyrocketed

Hassan Mohamed Ibrahim Gadudow, health and nutrition project coordinator for the SOS Children’s Villages, told Anadolu Agency that SOS and humanitarian partners have attended to more than 11,570 children with acute severe malnutrition and 15,494 acute moderate malnourished children – 48% of children in Baidoa.

He said drought-related illnesses have skyrocketed in the last few months.

“These illnesses include waterborne diseases such as cholera and also measles and other diseases. Children under 5, who are the most affected by malnutrition, are very vulnerable to falling ill since they are weak to resist due to the malnutrition,” he said.

More than 700 children have died in Somalia stabilization centers and medical centers due to drought-related illnesses and severe malnutrition, according to UNICEF.

The UN Food Security Integrated assessment indicated that an estimated 8.3 million people, more than half of the country, will face the crisis or worse food insecurity between April and June 2023.

A total of 1.8 million children, more than half of those in Somalia under the age of 5, are estimated to suffer acute malnutrition through July 2023.

More than 514,000 children are likely to face life-threatening severe malnutrition, according to the UN.

Source: Anadolu Agency

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Turkish government support to South Sudan since independence totals $10 million

Benjamin Takpiny  


JUBA, South Sudan

Humanitarian and disaster assistance and capacity-building support by Turkish agencies to South Sudan from 2011 to 2022 is worth approximately $10 million, Turkish envoy Erdem Mutaf told reporters Thursday.

“Our bilateral ties have multifaceted aspects of political, economic, consular, education, cultural nature -- our development agencies are very active across the country,” Mutaf said at an event organized by the Embassy in Juba for journalists to mark the end of 2022. “The Turkish Embassy, the full-fledged embassy in Juba, having a trade office and consular section, is the only embassy that issues visas to public,” he said.

He said Türkiye and South Sudan enjoy fraternal relations based on close historical and cultural ties.

“The Turkish Embassy has been serving Juba for 11 years without interruption even during the civil wars. Türkiye is one of the first countries that recognized the Republic of South Sudan following the proclamation of independence. From the very beginning, Türkiye has been supporting to establish bilateral relations with South Sudan as equal partners,” he said.

Mutaf said Türkiye has three development agencies operating in South Sudan that includes the KIZILAY, or the Turkish Red Crescent, Turkish Cooperation and Coordination Agency (TIKA) and the Turkish Maarif Foundation.

The Red Crescent and TIKA have been serving South Sudan for years. The Maarif Foundation is new, working to set up their first international school in Juba.

“Our assistance dates back to the pre-independence period. Türkiye is the first country to give capacity support to the Juba Teaching Hospital in 2007,” said Mutaf.

TIKA has carried out a range of humanitarian activities in South Sudan, including renovating and upgrading equipment at schools and orphanages, empowering women through training, medical equipment and food distribution drives that covered thousands of people.

Source: Anadolu Agency

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Over 42,000 people displaced in South Sudan communal violence: Official

Benjamin Takpiny  


JUBA, South Sudan

Fresh communal violence has displaced over 42,000 civilians in South Sudan, an official said on Thursday.

More than 50 people have been killed and dozens injured in clashes this week in Gumuruk and Kongor, towns in the Greater Pibor administrative area, according to officials.

Groups of armed youth from Greater Pibor and the neighboring Jonglei state have been involved in the fighting.

“At least 42,440 people have been displaced in the fighting,” Abraham Kelang Jiji, the information minister for Greater Pibor, told Anadolu Agency.

The situation is returning to normalcy, he said, although groups from Jonglei are still around the Greater Pibor region.

A separate UN statement placed the number of displaced people at around 30,000.

“People have suffered enough. Civilians – especially those most vulnerable – women, children, the elderly and the disabled – bear the brunt of this prolonged crisis,” Sara Beysolow Nyanti, UN humanitarian coordinator for South Sudan, said in a statement on Thursday.

She said the latest violence follows massive displacement of civilians due to fighting in mid-November in Fashoda County, Upper Nile State.

“The violence must stop. The whole humanitarian community calls upon all armed elements to immediately cease hostilities, respect international humanitarian law and protect civilians and humanitarian workers,” said Nyanti.

“Impunity is a perpetuating factor and root cause for conflict and insecurity. There must be accountability,” she added.

Protracted violence in South Sudan has affected over 2.2 million people who are unable to return to their homes, she said.

“I am deeply concerned about the continuous deterioration of people’s physical and mental well-being, living standards and coping mechanisms,” said Nyanti.

“Peace is the prerequisite for people to rebuild their lives,” she added.

Hamida Lasseko, UNICEF representative in South Sudan, said the “ongoing fighting has had an adverse impact on overstretched humanitarian operations in South Sudan.”

“This puts additional strain on the humanitarian response and resources. We are forced to prioritize immediate lifesaving needs of the newly displaced population,” she said.

Source: Anadolu Agency

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UN: 30,000 flee ethnic violence in South Sudan

December 29, 2022

JUBA: Armed raids in a region of South Sudan plagued by ethnic clashes have forced around 30,000 civilians to flee their homes, the UN’s emergency response agency said Thursday as international partners demanded an end to the violence.

On December 24, armed men from Jonglei state, an eastern region beset by gun violence, attacked communities in nearby Greater Pibor Administrative Area, the UN’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said in a statement.

The violence followed clashes last month in South Sudan’s far north that uprooted thousands in Upper Nile state.

“People have suffered enough. Civilians, especially those most vulnerable — women, children, the elderly and the disabled — bear the brunt of this prolonged crisis,” said Sara Beysolow Nyanti, the UN humanitarian coordinator in South Sudan.

Some 5,000 people have sought shelter in Pibor town, OCHA said, adding that the humanitarian response was severely stretched.

The clashes in Upper Nile state have also seen villagers seek shelter in swamps to escape the bloodshed, amid reports of civilians being raped, kidnapped or murdered.

International partners including the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) and the regional IGAD bloc, said in a joint statement Thursday that they were “gravely concerned” by the escalating violence.

They called on South Sudan’s leaders to step in, stressing “the need to investigate and hold accountable all perpetrators of the conflict, including those who are instigating and inciting violence.”

One of the poorest countries on the planet despite large oil reserves, South Sudan’s leadership has faced fierce criticism for failing its people and stoking violence.

Western powers including the United States and European Union said this month that South Sudan’s leaders bore responsibility for the deadly clashes.

Since achieving independence from Sudan in 2011, the world’s newest nation has lurched from one crisis to another, including a brutal five-year civil war between forces loyal to President Salva Kiir and his deputy Riek Machar that left nearly 400,000 people dead.

Source: Arab News

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North America


US Killed Almost 700 ISIS Operatives In Iraq, Syria In 2022: Central Command

30 December ,2022

US military forces and their allies in Iraq and Syria killed almost 700 ISIS operatives, including several of the organization’s leaders, in 2022, according to the US Central Command.

“The emerging, reliable, and steady ability of our Iraqi and Syrian partner forces to conduct unilateral operations to capture and kill ISIS leaders allows us to maintain steady pressure on the ISIS network,” Major General Matt McFarlane, commander of a combined task force in Syria and Iraq, said in a Centcom statement released Thursday.

According to the statement, 466 ISIS operatives were killed in Syria, and another 220 in Iraq. A total of 374 militants were captured in both countries.

“No US forces were injured or killed in these operations,” Centcom said.

Last February, ISIS leader Abu Ibrahim al-Hashimi al-Qurayshi was killed in northwestern Syria when he detonated a bomb in his apartment as US forces closed in, eliminating what President Joe Biden called a “major terrorist threat.”

Al-Qurayshi had taken over as leader of the terrorist group after his predecessor, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, was killed in a US raid in 2019, also in Syria.

In July, the US military said it had killed a top ISIS leader and seriously wounded another in a drone strike in Syria.

Centcom, which covers the Middle East as well as Central and South Asia, said in the Thursday statement that more than 20,000 ISIS fighters have been detained in Iraq, and another 10,000 in Syria.

In January, a prison break in Al-Hasakah, Syria, touched off a battle in which hundreds died.

Source: Al Arabiya

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Biden warns Netanyahu US will oppose Israeli policies that endanger the two-state solution

29 December 2022

US President Joe Biden says his administration will continue to support the two-state solution in the Middle East, warning that he will oppose Israeli policies that endanger it.

Biden made the remarks on Thursday after Benjamin Netanyahu was sworn in as Israel's new prime minister, with his cabinet promising to expand illegal settlements in the occupied West Bank and pursue other anti-Palestinian policies.

Netanyahu teamed up with far-right parties to form a conservative coalition and won the election in November.

“As we have throughout my Administration, the United States will continue to support the two-state solution and to oppose policies that endanger its viability or contradict our mutual interests and values,” Biden said in a statement.

The US president said he looks forward to working with Netanyahu.

Biden has consistently promoted two states as the best path forward for the Palestinians and Israelis.

“From the start of my Administration, we have worked with partners to promote this more hopeful vision of a region at peace, including between Israelis and Palestinians. We aim to continue this important work with Israel’s new government under Prime Minister Netanyahu’s leadership,” Biden said on Thursday.

In a meeting in July with President Mahmoud Abbas of the Palestinian Authority, Biden reiterated his support for a two-state solution.

 “Even if the ground is not ripe at this moment to restart negotiations, the United States and my administration will not give up on trying to bring the Palestinians and Israelis and both sides closer together,” he said at the time.

Netanyahu's conservative Likud party said in its guidelines for the new Israeli administration that it would “promote and develop settlements.”

“These guidelines constitute a dangerous escalation and will have repercussions for the region,” Nabil Abu Rudeineh, the spokesman for Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, said.

Abbas has criticized Netayahu’s cabinet, saying its “motto is extremism and apartheid.”

According to late Iranian journalist and political analyst Hamid Golpira, Israeli officials want neither a one-state solution nor a two-state solution for Palestine, rather they want a no-state solution.

In an interview with Press TV in August 2013, Golpira said, “The two-state solution, if it could happen in a proper way, could even be an acceptable thing for the people who want a one-state solution in the future. They could see it… as one step toward a one-state solution.”

He added that what “some of the Israelis, especially people like Mr. Netanyahu, are presenting… neither is the one-state solution nor is the two-state solution. It is more of a no-state solution, meaning, they want no state for Palestine, or no viable state.”

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has said that the United States would oppose illegal Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank, which the Tel Aviv regime is constructing irrespective of the international outcry against it.

More than 600,000 Israelis live in over 230 settlements built since the 1967 Israeli occupation of the West Bank and East al-Quds.

All Israeli settlements are illegal under international law. The UN Security Council has condemned Israel’s settlement activities in the occupied territories in several resolutions.

Palestinians want the West Bank as part of a future independent state with East al-Quds as its capital.

Source: Press TV

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Biden says looks forward to working with Netanyahu, supports two-state solution

29 December ,2022

US President Joe Biden said on Thursday he looked forward to working with Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and promoting regional peace, including between Israelis and Palestinians, with the new Israeli government.

“I look forward to working with Prime Minister Netanyahu, who has been my friend for decades, to jointly address the many challenges and opportunities facing Israel and the Middle East region, including threats from Iran,” Biden said in a statement.

“As we have throughout my administration, the United States will continue to support the two state solution and to oppose policies that endanger its viability or contradict our mutual interests and values.”

Netanyahu -- who had a tense relationship with the last US president of Biden’s Democratic Party, Barack Obama -- was sworn in Thursday, leading the most right-wing government in Israel’s history.

The government, Netanyahu’s sixth, includes extreme-right figures such as Itamar Ben-Gvir, who once hung a portrait in his home of a gunman who massacred Palestinian worshippers and now will serve as national security minister.

As Netanyahu formed a coalition, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the Biden administration would judge the cabinet by “the policies they pursue, not the personalities that happen to form a government.”

US officials say they hope to encourage moderation on Netanyahu’s part by quickly convening a meeting between foreign ministers of Israel and Arab countries that recognize the Jewish state.

Three Arab nations -- the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Morocco -- normalized ties with Israel in 2020 under Netanyahu, who considered the so-called Abraham Accords a crowning achievement, as did then-president Donald Trump.

Biden said the United States “is working to promote a region that’s increasingly integrated, prosperous and secure, with benefits for all of its people.”

Source: Al Arabiya

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Türkiye's foreign minister to attend Sunday inauguration of Brazil's president-elect

Merve Aydogan 


Türkiye’s foreign minister this weekend will visit Brazil to attend the inauguration ceremony of Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, the nation’s president-elect.

According to a Foreign Ministry statement on Friday, Mevlut Cavusoglu will attend the ceremony set for Sunday, Jan. 1.

"On the occasion of the visit, H.E. Minister Cavusoglu is expected to hold meetings with the Brazilian authorities and Foreign Ministers of other countries who will attend the inauguration ceremony," the statement added.

Source: Anadolu Agency

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