New Age Islam
Fri Aug 14 2020, 07:01 AM

Islamic World News ( 16 Jun 2016, NewAgeIslam.Com)

Muslim Clerics Issue Fatwa against Killing Minorities, Secular Activists in Bangladesh

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Photo: Buddhist monks participate in a protest against the murder of a monk in Bangladesh, in Mumbai, India, May 23, 2016. © Danish Siddiqui / Reuters

 

Religious Tolerance in India Deteriorating: US Lawmakers Told

UAE Says ‘War Over’ For Its Troops in Yemen

Forced Conversions Still Making Pak Hindus’ Lives Miserable

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South Asia

Muslim Clerics Issue Fatwa against Killing Minorities, Secular Activists in Bangladesh

Afghanistan Has Never Accepted Durand Line As Border Since 1893: Karzai

Suicide bomber shot dead in Nangarhar province

ISIS Amputates Hand of ‘Bandit’ in Afghanistan

Obama’s war on terror: Taliban holds most ground in Afghanistan since 2001

Trump mostly correct about Sharia law support in Afghanistan

Pak not in favour of India-Afghan ties: Karzai

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India

Religious Tolerance in India Deteriorating: US Lawmakers Told

Movement in Indian Dawoodi Bohras Sect Shines Light On Its Genital Mutilation Practice

Despite Being A Hindu, Here's Why Congress Leader TN Prathapan Fasts During Ramadan

Though Challenging, India’s Muslim Runners Continue Training during Ramadan

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Arab World

UAE Says ‘War Over’ For Its Troops in Yemen

Young Saudi Prince’s Under-The-Radar US Visit Belies His Big Plans and Growing Power

Iraqis say ISIS booted from compound in heart of key city

ISIS ‘kill list’ contains names of dozens of British Columbians

Trade strategy, anti-terror steps, ways to contain Iran discussed

UAE hotspot for Muslim travellers during Ramadan

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Pakistan

Forced Conversions Still Making Pak Hindus’ Lives Miserable

Iran Responds To Pak’s Letter on Alleged Indian Spy

CII chief’s appointment challenged in court

Seven more children die in Thar; toll rises to 222 this year

Residents of Kashmir Colony, Peshawar urged Govt to save temples

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Europe

Leaflets Found In Darul Uloom, Birmingham Say Music 'Acts Of Devil'

Europeans Most Worried About IS, Divided on EU

ISIS In Europe: Orphans Of Terrorism ‘Adopted’ By France After Charlie Hebdo And Paris Islamic State Attacks

 

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North America

Why a Mosque Invited a Church to Use Its Space for Worship

U.S. State Department Officials Call for Strikes against Syria’s Assad

Malcolm Turnbull regrets inviting homophobic sheikh to Iftar dinner

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Africa

Boost for Moderate Islam: Morocco’s Mohammed VI Foundation for African Ulema Can Become a Significant Pillar of the Global Muslim Community

Jihadism on the March in West Africa

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Mideast

Turkish Football Star Turned Politician Moves To US amid Probe for 'Insulting Erdoğan'

Former Arkansas Governor likens Trump’s Muslim ban to Israel’s immigration policies

Turkish labour union head released after being detained for ‘insulting Erdoğan’

Erdoğan will go to NATO Warsaw Summit with critical messages on Black Sea, Syria

Status Quo’s Rick Parfitt suffers heart attack in Turkey’s south

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Southeast Asia

Muslim Youngster Stays with Christian Family in Indonesia to Understand Religious Tolerance Better

Donna Miles-Mojab: Muslims must acknowledge love and denounce hatred

‘Radical Islam’ Does Matter in Identifying Enemy, Experts Say

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau

URL: http://newageislam.com/islamic-world-news/new-age-islam-news-bureau/muslim-clerics-issue-fatwa-against-killing-minorities,-secular-activists-in-bangladesh/d/107676

 

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Muslim Clerics Issue Fatwa against Killing Minorities, Secular Activists in Bangladesh

16 Jun, 2016

A fatwa has been issued by Muslim clerics in Bangladesh against the killing of non-Muslims, members of minority groups and secular campaigners after a recent surge of targeted killings and attacks.

Since 2013 nearly 50 people, including members of religious minorities, foreigners and liberal activists, have been murdered by Islamist militants, according to Press TV.

More than 11,000 people have been arrested over the past four days in a new crackdown in connection with the attacks.

Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) and a South Asian branch of Al-Qaeda have claimed responsibility for many of the murders, but the police and government have blamed the Islamist extremist groups Ansarullah Bangla Team (ABT) and Jamayetul Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB), for most of the killings.

The announcement of the fatwa on Tuesday by Farid Uddin Masuod, head of the Council of Bangladesh Clerics, comes as the country faces increased international pressure to bring the spate of attacks to an end.

Masuod said that more than 100,000 clerics had signed the religious edict which will be made public on June 18.

“The fatwa unequivocally said these killings of non-Muslims, minorities and secular activists are forbidden in Islam,” he stated, as reported by ABNA.

“We’ve said these killings are illegal and are crimes against humanity.”

Masuod believes the fatwa will make a difference as it disparages any Islamic militants that try to defend the killings. “One cannot deny that in Bangladesh, fatwas can have a tremendous impact,” he told the Dhaka Tribune.

The message will be distributed in a pamphlet, through preaching in mosques as well as online and through social media: “We will use Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp and so on. Because the young generation gets so much misleading information on online platforms, to counter this, online media should be focused on more.”

Confirmation of the fatwa coincided with the fourth day of a nationwide anti-militant drive during which police said they arrested 3,115 people, bringing the total arrested over the short period to more than 11,300.

Some 176 of those arrested are suspected members of Islamist militant groups, according to NDTV. Arms, ammunition, other weapons and more than 2,000 motorbikes were also seized during this week's raids.

Bangladesh police said the arrest on Thursday of a man suspected of attacking a secular publisher, blogger and poet last year is an important breakthrough in the ongoing case.

The latest in this wave of suspected terrorist attacks happened last week when the wife of a top anti-terror police officer was fatally attacked while walking her son to his school bus. The killing is also believed to have sparked a gunbattle between police and alleged militants, resulting in the deaths of five suspected extremists.

Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina pledged that “each and every killer” would be arrested. However, opposition group, the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) claims 2,100 of its activists were arrested in the crackdown and accused the government of using the crackdown as an opportunity to suppress political dissent.

The Bangladeshi government have previously separately accused the BNP and the Israeli government of orchestrating the attacks to create political unrest and undermine its authority.

rt.com/news/347012-muslim-clerics-fatwa-terrorists/

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Religious Tolerance in India Deteriorating: US Lawmakers Told

By PTI | 17 Jun, 2016

Washington: Religious tolerance in India is “deteriorating” while religious freedom violations are “increasing”, a rights expert has told American lawmakers.

“A pluralistic democracy, in India today religious tolerance is deteriorating and religious freedom violations are increasing,” Robert P George, McCormick Professor of Jurisprudence at the Princeton University and a former chairman of the US Commission on International Religious Freedom, told lawmakers during a Congressional hearing.

“Minority communities, especially Christians, Muslims, and Sikhs, have experienced numerous incidents of intimidation, harassment and violence during the past year, largely at the hands of Hindu nationalist groups,” George alleged in his testimony before the Subcommittee on Africa, Global Health, Global Human Rights and International Organisations of the House Foreign Affairs Committee.

“Members of the ruling BJP tacitly supported these groups and used religiously-divisive language to inflame tensions further,” he alleged.

These issues, combined with longstanding problems of police bias and judicial inadequacies have created a pervasive climate of impunity in which religious minority communities increasingly feel insecure with no recourse when religiously- motivated crimes occur, George told lawmakers yesterday.

In his testimony, George said in the last year, “higher caste” individuals and local political leaders also prevented Hindus considered part of the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Dalits) from entering religious temples.

The national government or state governments also applied several laws to restrict religious conversion, cow slaughter, and foreign funding of NGOs, he said.

Moreover, an Indian constitutional provision deeming Sikhs, Buddhists and Jains to be Hindus contradicts international standards of freedom of religion or belief, George argued.

India has been on USCIRF’s Tier 2 since 2009. Given its negative trajectory, USCIRF will continue to monitor the situation closely during the year ahead to determine if India should be recommended to the State Department for designation as a Country of Particular Concern, George said.

In his testimony, George alleged that civil society in particular non governmental organisations receiving funds from overseas are facing difficulties.

In April 2015, the Ministry of Home Affairs revoked the licenses of nearly 9,000 charitable organisations, he noted.

“For example, two NGOs, the Sabrang Trust and Citizens for Justice and Peace (CJP), which run conflict-resolution programmes and fight court cases stemming from the 2002 Gujarat riots, had their registrations revoked,” he told lawmakers.

Additionally, the US-based Ford Foundation, which partially funds the Sabrang Trust and CJP, was put on a “watch list” when the Ministry of Home Affairs accused it of “abetting communal disharmony”, he said.

economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/economy/policy/religious-tolerance-in-india-deteriorating-us-lawmakers-told/articleshow/52793377.cms

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UAE says ‘war over’ for its troops in Yemen

Friday 17 June 2016

ABU DHABI:: The United Arab Emirates has said the “war is over” for its troops in Yemen after a nearly 15-month intervention as part of a Saudi-led coalition that cost the lives of around 80 Emirati soldiers.

The announcement by a government minister, which the crown prince of the UAE’s richest emirate Abu Dhabi then posted on his official Twitter account, came with large swathes of the country, including the capital Sanaa, still in the hands of Iran-backed Shiite Houthi rebels.

“Our standpoint today is clear — war is over for our troops, we’re monitoring political arrangements (and) empowering Yemenis in liberated areas,” said state minister for foreign affairs Anwar Gargash.

His comments came in a speech late on Wednesday to foreign ambassadors and senior Emirati officials, including Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan.

Sheikh Mohammed is also deputy supreme commander of the UAE armed forces.

But Gargash appeared to clarify that his country’s forces were still committed until the coalition decides to end combat operations altogether.

“Our armed forces ... have performed their combat duty bravely and professionally. This role continues, along with sisterly (kingdom of) Saudi Arabia, until the coalition announces an end to the war,” he wrote in a tweet posted late Thursday.

The UAE was a mainstay of the Saudi-led coalition which intervened in Yemen in March 2015 as the Houthi rebels threatened to overrun the whole country, prompting President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi to flee into exile.

The coalition succeeded in pushing the rebels out of southern cities, where Hadi’s government has set up base, but the rebels remain in control of most of the central and northern highlands as well as the Red Sea coast.

Eight weeks of UN-brokered peace talks in Kuwait have made no major breakthrough in the face of deep mistrust between the warring parties.

It was the first time in the UAE’s history that it had deployed ground troops beyond its borders.

In March, UAE special forces also played a major role in driving Al-Qaeda out of the southeastern provincial capital of Mukalla, which it had held for a year.

The jihadists had taken advantage of the conflict between Hadi loyalists and the rebels to seize several cities in the south and southeast.

The intervention cost the lives of UAE air crews as well as ground troops.

In March, a Mirage jet crashed in Yemen killing both its crew. And this week alone, two UAE helicopters crashed with the loss of their four crew.

More than 6,400 Yemenis have been killed since the intervention started, the majority of them civilians.

arabnews.com/node/940481/middle-east

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Forced conversions still making Pak Hindus’ lives miserable

June 17, 2016

Islamabad: The minority Hindus in Pakistan continue to suffer from forced conversions and discrimination with recent reports suggesting that there is no end to their plight.

Although there are no confirmed statistics on forced conversions in the country, unofficial estimates based on reports suggest that as many as 1,000 girls are forcibly converted to Islam from other religions every year.

The ongoing issue has become so severe now that a significant number of Pakistani Hindus are forced to migrate to India.

And silence over this practice means that Hindu girls, particularly minors, are being forced to a lifetime of subjugation and separation from their families and in harsh reality they remain forcibly divorced from their religion.

Today, forced conversions have become a grave human rights concern in Pakistan.

Recently, PTI lawmaker Lal Chand Malhi, serving as MNA on a minority seat, highlighted the issue arguing for the need to pass and implement legislation on forced conversions, reports the Express Tribune.

Malhi, a parliamentarian from Umerkot, the only district in Pakistan where almost half the population is Hindu, has said that forced conversions have become a matter of routine in some parts of the country.

He also pointed out that a significant portion of Pakistani Hindus belong to the lower castes and with that they neither have the means nor the influence to get cases of forced conversions reported.

Highlighting the existence of this class barrier, Malhi said that cases of forced conversions often get reported only when the upper caste Hindus are the victims.

What remains more heart wrenching is the lack of a concentrated effort to put a stop to this evil practice by the provincial and federal governments.

This clearly exposes the government’s indifference or biasness amongst its own countrymen.

siasat.com/news/forced-conversions-still-making-pak-hindus-lives-miserable-973845/

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South Asia

Muslim Clerics Issue Fatwa against Killing Minorities, Secular Activists in Bangladesh

16 Jun, 2016

A fatwa has been issued by Muslim clerics in Bangladesh against the killing of non-Muslims, members of minority groups and secular campaigners after a recent surge of targeted killings and attacks.

Since 2013 nearly 50 people, including members of religious minorities, foreigners and liberal activists, have been murdered by Islamist militants, according to Press TV.

More than 11,000 people have been arrested over the past four days in a new crackdown in connection with the attacks.

Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) and a South Asian branch of Al-Qaeda have claimed responsibility for many of the murders, but the police and government have blamed the Islamist extremist groups Ansarullah Bangla Team (ABT) and Jamayetul Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB), for most of the killings.

The announcement of the fatwa on Tuesday by Farid Uddin Masuod, head of the Council of Bangladesh Clerics, comes as the country faces increased international pressure to bring the spate of attacks to an end.

Masuod said that more than 100,000 clerics had signed the religious edict which will be made public on June 18.

“The fatwa unequivocally said these killings of non-Muslims, minorities and secular activists are forbidden in Islam,” he stated, as reported by ABNA.

“We’ve said these killings are illegal and are crimes against humanity.”

Masuod believes the fatwa will make a difference as it disparages any Islamic militants that try to defend the killings. “One cannot deny that in Bangladesh, fatwas can have a tremendous impact,” he told the Dhaka Tribune.

The message will be distributed in a pamphlet, through preaching in mosques as well as online and through social media: “We will use Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp and so on. Because the young generation gets so much misleading information on online platforms, to counter this, online media should be focused on more.”

Confirmation of the fatwa coincided with the fourth day of a nationwide anti-militant drive during which police said they arrested 3,115 people, bringing the total arrested over the short period to more than 11,300.

Some 176 of those arrested are suspected members of Islamist militant groups, according to NDTV. Arms, ammunition, other weapons and more than 2,000 motorbikes were also seized during this week's raids.

Bangladesh police said the arrest on Thursday of a man suspected of attacking a secular publisher, blogger and poet last year is an important breakthrough in the ongoing case.

The latest in this wave of suspected terrorist attacks happened last week when the wife of a top anti-terror police officer was fatally attacked while walking her son to his school bus. The killing is also believed to have sparked a gunbattle between police and alleged militants, resulting in the deaths of five suspected extremists.

Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina pledged that “each and every killer” would be arrested. However, opposition group, the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) claims 2,100 of its activists were arrested in the crackdown and accused the government of using the crackdown as an opportunity to suppress political dissent.

The Bangladeshi government have previously separately accused the BNP and the Israeli government of orchestrating the attacks to create political unrest and undermine its authority.

rt.com/news/347012-muslim-clerics-fatwa-terrorists/

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Afghanistan has never accepted Durand Line as border since 1893: Karzai

Fri Jun 17 2016

The former Afghan President Hamid Karzai has said Afghanistan has never accepted Durand Line as border between Afghanistan and Pakistan and will never accept it in the future.

In an interview with BBC Urdu, Karzai termed the formation of Durand Line a ‘result of British imperialism’ in the region.

He said Afghanistan has never accepted this border since 1893, nor will they ever accept it in future.

“When Pakistan came into being in 1947, they received it this way, so we are not blaming them but Durand Line is a blow which no Afghan can ever forget. We do not accept this border but will not fight over this issue,” Karzai added.

In other parts of the interview, Karzai said Pakistan does not want good relations between India and Afghanistan and wants “no bilateral trade and no access to Central Asia for India” which is unacceptable for Afghanistan.

Karzai further added that India is helping Afghanistan build its infrastructure and health facilities and has “filled Afghanistan with money despite being a poor country”.

“India wants to truly befriend Afghanistan and we want Pakistan to do the same,” he said, adding that Pakistan should also become a part of the regional coalition between Afghanistan, India and Iran, but “Pakistan’s condition is that Afghanistan should not have contacts with India.”

According to Karzai, the relations between Afghanistan and Pakistan will improve rapidly if the issue is resolved.

khaama.com/afghanistan-has-never-accepted-durand-line-as-border-since-1893-karzai-01279

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Suicide bomber shot dead in Nangarhar province

Fri Jun 17 2016

A suicide bomber was shot dead by the Afghan security forces before he manage to carry out an attack in eastern Nangarhar province of Afghanistan.

The provincial government media office said the suicide bomber was shot dead in Kot district earlier this morning.

Provincial security chief Gen. Zarawar Zahid quoted in a statement by the provincial government media office said the suicide bomber was looking to target the Afghan National Police and Afghan Local Police forces.

Gen. Zahid further added that the suicide bomber was shot dead after he was identified by security forces in Janjal Ghhodi area.

The anti-government armed militant groups have not commented regarding the report so far.

Taliban militants and insurgents loyal to the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) terrorist group are actively operating in a number of remote districts of Nangarhar province.

Kot district is among the Nangarhar districts including Achin where the loyalists of ISIS terrorist group are having presence and conduct insurgency activities.

The police chief of Haska Mina district in Nangarhar lost his life in an attack carried out by the loyalists of ISIS terrorist group nearly a week ago.

khaama.com/suicide-bomber-shot-dead-in-nangarhar-province-01280

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ISIS Amputates Hand of ‘Bandit’ in Afghanistan

June 16, 2016

In a new photo report purportedly released by the Islamic State, ISIS militants in "Wilayat Khurasan," aka occupied regions of Afghanistan & Pakistan, amputate the hand of an alleged highway robber in accordance with sharia law. The photo report was released on June 16 on ISIS terrorist channels. Viewer discretion is advised.

heavy.com/news/2016/06/new-isis-islamic-state-daesh-news-pictures-videos-hirabah-sharia-law-hand-amputation-photo-report/2/

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Obama’s war on terror: Taliban holds most ground in Afghanistan since 2001

Thursday, June 16, 2016

As if there was any doubt: President Obama has a horrific record combating radical Islamic terrorism (one that Hillary Clinton would like to continue).

According to a new report, the Taliban now controls the most ground in Afghanistan it’s had in 15 years.

“The Taliban’s warm-weather offensive has shown the insurgents to be bolder and better organized, holding more territory now than at any time since 2001, when their regime was overthrown by the U.S.-led invasion,” an Associated Press report stated Thursday.

This week the White House gave approval to allow U.S. commanders in Afghanistan to conduct offensive airstrikes against the Taliban and other insurgent groups, and to allow American troops to restart joint ground operations with Afghan forces.

But this was not the road that Mr. Obama wanted to go down. More than a year ago, the president officially ended American combat operations in the country.

Mr. Obama, declared it was “time to turn the page on a decade in which so much of our foreign policy was focused on the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq,” and announced in May 2014 that he planned to withdraw the last American troops from Afghanistan by the end of 2016.

So much for that. Now, a newly minted battle plan for Afghanistan restarts a combat mission for the 9,800 U.S. service members still in the country.

The Afghanistan Taliban report comes on the heels of testimony from CIA Director John Brennan, who said Thursday there are tens of thousands of Islamic State fighters around the world, more than al Qaeda at its height.

Indeed, the numbers don’t look good.

Between 2010 and 2013 the number of jihadis worldwide doubled to 10,000 while the number of jihadi groups spiked by 58 percent, according to a Rand Corp. study.

Good job, Mr. President. Looks like you have a great handle on radical Islamic terrorism. Just so long as we don’t say the words, I’m sure it’ll stop growing.

washingtontimes.com/news/2016/jun/16/obama-terror-taliban-most-ground-afghanistan-2001/

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Trump mostly correct about Sharia law support in Afghanistan

June 16th, 2016

Donald Trump reinvigorated calls for a ban on Muslims entering the United States following the mass shooting of an Orlando nightclub by a U.S. citizen who pledged allegiance to ISIS during the fatal attack.

Among his reasons, many Muslims support Sharia law —a set of religious principles that critics say include harsh punishments and can be used as a rationale for violence.  Trump singled out Afghanistan to make his point in a speech June 13, 2016, in New Hampshire.

"According to Pew Research, 99 percent of the people in Afghanistan support oppressive Sharia law," Trump said.

Is that number correct?

What is Sharia law

First, what is Sharia law? The Council on Foreign Relations offers a useful primer.

Meaning "path" in Arabic, Sharia is largely derived from the Quran and is intended to guide various aspects of Muslim life. Sharia law has been incorporated in different ways, ranging from secular governments to fully Islamic governments.

Many Republican presidential candidates have criticized Sharia law for its unequal treatment of women and after the Orlando attacks its views on homosexuality. They have also criticized the inclusion of Hudud punishments (ranging from stoning to execution) that are required for certain crimes such as adultery or theft.

Scholars say that these punishments are not necessarily used in practice and that different countries interpret and apply Sharia law differently. Like other religions, personal interpretations are subject to change over time, said Abdullahi Ahmed An-Nai’im, a professor of law at Emory University.

"Sharia is understood to be the religious obligations of Muslims, but it is a normative system in which Muslims have profound differences and always have," An-Nai’m said.

Pew’s research

Trump’s figure does come from a Pew Research study published in April 2013, titled "The World’s Muslims: Religion, Politics and Society."

One clarification right of the bat — the Pew study found that 99 percent of Muslims in Afghanistan supported Sharia law as the "law of the land." Trump said people in Afghanistan.

However, Pew also estimated in a 2012 study that Muslims made up 99 percent of the Afghanistan population, so that distinction does not invalidate Trump’s claim. Furthermore, Pew reported that their 2013 sample was representative of 94 percent of the Afghani adult population.

A Pew spokeswoman said that Trump’s claim is "largely accurate." The "largely" qualification came because their study did not include the word "oppressive" like Trump did.

Caveats

Trump’s statistic is relatively solid, but the survey does shed some additional light on what the 99 percent figure means, and does not mean.

The survey notes that, while overwhelming numbers of Afghani Muslims favored making Sharia law official, respondents were not unanimous on certain beliefs contained within Sharia law. Percentages are of Afghani Muslims.

Violence

81 percent favored corporal punishment for crimes like theft;

79 percent favored a death penalty for leaving Islam;

58 percent think suicide bombing is rarely or never justified in the defense of Islam.

Women’s rights

30 percent believe men and women should have equal inheritance rights;

37 percent believe it is "often justified" to kill a woman for dishonoring her family.

Views on religious plurality

96 percent believe converting others to Islam is a religious duty.

So people’s interpretation of Sharia law is not universal. Nor is it universal whom Sharia law should apply to.

Nearly 40 percent of respondents, for instance, said that Sharia law should only apply to other Muslims, not non-Muslim citizens.

Moving away from Afghanistan, it is also important to note that other Middle East countries yield different figures.

Only 12 percent of Muslims in Turkey favor making Sharia law the "law of the land," for example, and only 66 percent of Muslims in Iraq think converting others to Islam is a religious duty.

The Pew study Trump cites is also not the only study on the matter. A November 2015 study found that the majority of people in 10 countries with large Muslim populations viewed ISIS negatively (except Pakistan). The study did not include Afghanistan.

Our ruling

Arguing in favor of his proposed ban on Muslims entering the country, Trump said that a Pew Research Study had found "99 percent of the people in Afghanistan" support Sharia law.

Pew said Trump’s contention was "largely accurate," noting that the phrase "oppressive" was Trump’s own. We did not take a stance on his use of the adjective.

There is some nuance in the Afghanistan results, however, as Muslims surveyed have different perspectives on various aspects of Sharia law and how it ought to be implemented. And nearly 40 percent of respondents in Afghanistan said that Sharia law should only apply to other Muslims, not non-Muslim citizens.

We rate this claim Mostly True.

politifact.com/truth-o-meter/statements/2016/jun/16/donald-trump/trump-mostly-correct-about-sharia-law-support-afgh/

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Pak not in favour of India-Afghan ties: Karzai

June 17, 2016

Kabul: Former Afghan president Hamid Karzai has said Pakistan, which is not in favour of good relations between India and Afghanistan, wants “no bilateral trade and access to Central Asia for India”.

Karzai told BBC Urdu in an interview yesterday that Pakistan should also become a part of the regional coalition between Afghanistan, India and Iran, but added Islamabad’s condition is that Kabul should not have contacts with New Delhi, reports the Dawn.

He added this will also help in improving the relationship between Kabul and Islamabad.

The former president said India wants be a true friend to Afghanistan and is helping the country to build its infrastructure and health facilities.

Karzai also said that Pakistan should stop dictating about Kabul’s friendship with New Delhi and respect the fact that Afghanistan is a sovereign country.

He also called upon Pakistan to jointly fight terrorism, which is presently a menace for both countries.

siasat.com/news/pak-not-favour-india-afghan-ties-karzai-973798/

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India

Religious Tolerance in India Deteriorating: US Lawmakers Told

By PTI | 17 Jun, 2016

Washington: Religious tolerance in India is “deteriorating” while religious freedom violations are “increasing”, a rights expert has told American lawmakers.

“A pluralistic democracy, in India today religious tolerance is deteriorating and religious freedom violations are increasing,” Robert P George, McCormick Professor of Jurisprudence at the Princeton University and a former chairman of the US Commission on International Religious Freedom, told lawmakers during a Congressional hearing.

“Minority communities, especially Christians, Muslims, and Sikhs, have experienced numerous incidents of intimidation, harassment and violence during the past year, largely at the hands of Hindu nationalist groups,” George alleged in his testimony before the Subcommittee on Africa, Global Health, Global Human Rights and International Organisations of the House Foreign Affairs Committee.

“Members of the ruling BJP tacitly supported these groups and used religiously-divisive language to inflame tensions further,” he alleged.

These issues, combined with longstanding problems of police bias and judicial inadequacies have created a pervasive climate of impunity in which religious minority communities increasingly feel insecure with no recourse when religiously- motivated crimes occur, George told lawmakers yesterday.

In his testimony, George said in the last year, “higher caste” individuals and local political leaders also prevented Hindus considered part of the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Dalits) from entering religious temples.

The national government or state governments also applied several laws to restrict religious conversion, cow slaughter, and foreign funding of NGOs, he said.

Moreover, an Indian constitutional provision deeming Sikhs, Buddhists and Jains to be Hindus contradicts international standards of freedom of religion or belief, George argued.

India has been on USCIRF’s Tier 2 since 2009. Given its negative trajectory, USCIRF will continue to monitor the situation closely during the year ahead to determine if India should be recommended to the State Department for designation as a Country of Particular Concern, George said.

In his testimony, George alleged that civil society in particular non governmental organisations receiving funds from overseas are facing difficulties.

In April 2015, the Ministry of Home Affairs revoked the licenses of nearly 9,000 charitable organisations, he noted.

“For example, two NGOs, the Sabrang Trust and Citizens for Justice and Peace (CJP), which run conflict-resolution programmes and fight court cases stemming from the 2002 Gujarat riots, had their registrations revoked,” he told lawmakers.

Additionally, the US-based Ford Foundation, which partially funds the Sabrang Trust and CJP, was put on a “watch list” when the Ministry of Home Affairs accused it of “abetting communal disharmony”, he said.

economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/economy/policy/religious-tolerance-in-india-deteriorating-us-lawmakers-told/articleshow/52793377.cms

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Movement In Indian Dawoodi Bohras Sect Shines Light On Its Genital Mutilation Practice

Thursday, 16 June, 2016

When she was seven, Saleha Paatwala’s grandmother took her out for what she thought would be a party.

“I was told it would be a huge gathering where kids like me would also be,” Paatwala said.

Instead she found herself in a dark, messy room where three other women were waiting. They pulled her down, held her hands and feet so she couldn’t move and slipped off her underwear as she screamed.

A tall woman spread Paatwala’s legs, grabbed a blade and made a cut. She placed some cotton at the spot of the incision, but the pain lingered. She could not urinate comfortably for three days. Paatwala had undergone a crude procedure to remove her clitoris, a risky practise that has been outlawed in much of the world, but is not explicitly illegal in India. It remains common among the Dawoodi Bohras, a small Muslim sect.

Now 23, Paatwala has joined a growing movement inside the one million-strong Bohra community to fight the practise it calls khatna, known worldwide as female genital mutilation, or FGM.

Bohra Muslims as far away as Australia and the United States are also speaking out against a custom that for centuries has been carried out mostly in secret. In recent months, documentary films, advocacy campaigns and an online petition garnering more than 50,000 signatures have shed light on the practise.

Paatwala, who said she felt “betrayed” by her family, began speaking out against khatna last year and was surprised to find out that her mother opposed it, too.

“She was too afraid to go against her own mother, and so she supported her decision to get us cut,” said Paatwala, who works at a marketing agency in New Delhi. “My parents’ support gives me more power to fight against this barbaric practise.”

The World Health Organisation estimates that more than 200 million girls and women have undergone FGM in 30 countries in Africa, the Middle East and Asia. It defines FGM as any procedure that partially or fully removes the female genitalia for non-medical reasons, and says it is “recognised internationally as a violation of the human rights of girls and women”.

After the UN General Assembly passed a resolution in 2012 to eradicate FGM globally, several countries instituted laws against the practise. India has not imposed a ban, although activists say existing legislation covering sexual assault and crimes against children could be applied to curb the practise, also known as female circumcision.

The rebellion has sharply divided the Bohras, a Shia Muslim sect that originated in Yemen. The largest Bohra community today lives in western India, their ancestors having arrived here in the 16th century after fleeing persecution from Sunnis.

In cities like Mumbai they became traders and prospered financially while projecting an educated, generally progressive image. Many Bohra women hold jobs. Yet traditionalists maintain that khatna is their religious right.

While the Quran, the Muslim holy book, does not sanction female circumcision, Daimul Islam, a religious text followed by Bohras, endorses the practise for hygienic reasons. Some Bohras also believe it enhances a woman’s complexion, controls her sexual urges and makes her more devout.

Saifuddin Insaf, editor of the Bohra Chronicle, a reformist newsletter published in Mumbai, where the community has its headquarters, said khatna historically was seen as a way for Bohra merchants and traders to “subdue their wives’ sexual desire” while the husband was away on business.

My parents’ support gives me more power to fight against this barbaric practiseSALEHA PAATWALA, ANTI-FEMALE GENITAL MUTILATION

These days, Insaf said, “it’s done in a most secretive way. The women performing the cut do not have proper training. There is no anaesthesia. The girls suffer later on in life. There have been deaths”.

In February, religious leaders in three Bohra communities overseas – in Sydney and Melbourne, Australia, and London – issued letters urging their faithful not to circumcise girls because it would violate local laws.

But this month, the Bohras’ supreme leader, or syedna, Mufaddal Saifuddin, said male and female circumcision were “religious rites that have been practiced by Dawoodi Bohras throughout their history”.

In a statement from Mumbai, Saifuddin said that while Bohras should not contravene laws where they live, “religious books, written over 1,000 years ago, specify the requirements for both males and females as acts of religious purity.”

In response, Sahiyo, a group of anti-khatna activists, said: “We are one community, and we are disappointed that Bohra girls in some parts of the world are still expected to be cut.”

Sahiyo was formed last year by five Bohra women in India and abroad to create greater awareness about the procedure, which is usually carried out on girls around age seven.

“It was difficult to get people together who were willing to reveal their identities and speak out against the practise,” said co-founder Priya Goswami, a documentary filmmaker from New Delhi whose 2013 short film on khatna, A Pinch of Skin, was honoured at India’s National Film Awards.

“But as we came together, somehow people were open about showing their support.”

Co-founder Mariya Taher, who was raised in San Francisco, was circumcised at age seven during a visit to Mumbai. As a graduate student at San Francisco State University, Taher studied FGM in the United States and found that Bohra immigrants continued the practise as a way to “hold on to cultural roots,” she said.

The group’s efforts have sometimes met with resistance – particularly online, where commenters on its website have accused the organisation of going against the Quran, disrespecting the syedna or having “a devil-infected mind”.

“I think we all knew backlash would come and we prepared ourselves as best as we could,” said Taher, who now lives in Boston. “What helps us go through it is that we have the support of each other.”

The debate comes amid a schism in the Bohra community that dates to 2014, when the death of the former syedna sparked a succession dispute. The leader of a small breakaway faction, Taher Fakhruddin, has said circumcision should only be done with a female’s consent, but activists say young girls are ill prepared to make such choices.

Sahiyo’s founders say the movement has support from all segments of Bohra society, and hope the pressure will force action from India’s government.

“There was a time when this brutal practise was India’s best-kept secret. Today, too, it is in some ways,” said Insia Dariwala, a Mumbai filmmaker and Sahiyo co-founder. “But in the past six months, we have made enough noise for the concerned departments to sit up and take notice.”

scmp.com/news/asia/south-asia/article/1976249/rebel-ranks-movement-small-indian-muslim-sect-shines-light-its

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Despite being a Hindu, here's why Congress leader TN Prathapan fasts during Ramadan

Thursday, 16 June, 2016

As children, we often do a number of things to fit in with our friends. For Congress leader and former MLA TN Prathapan, one such habit from his childhood days has continued throughout his adult life. Prathapan, a Hindu from Kerala, has been fasting every year during the month of Ramadan for the past 20 years.

The young Congress leader, who has twice represented Nattika in the state assembly, says the habit of fasting dates back to the 1980s when he was a school boy.

His Muslim friends--Ashraf Maliyekkal, Gafoor Thalikkulam and Babu Saleem--showed him ways of fasting. “My friends would not eat food or consume water during the days and I tried the same too,” he reminisces.

The story of this friendship has since then become a familiar story of Hindu-Muslim harmony in Nattika. Prathapan has got accolades from the cultural and social leaders of Kerala by organising the annual social congregation at his constituency named Mythri, which literally means unity.

Prathapan’s fasting is all about attaining spiritual and physical purification rather than earning a good name of being an advocate of communal harmony. “Fasting lends me the joy and spiritual elevation, which words clearly fail to explain. It’s all about keeping my body and mind purified,” he says.

Prathapan suggests fasting as an ideal way to purification. “Fasting shouldn’t be conceived as a ritual of Muslims. Non-Muslims should try it. It makes man ready to overcome crisis,” he adds.

Asked about what is his Niyyah (intention of behind fasting) before having Sehri (predawn food) Prathapan says that his intention is the well being of the society.

“My fasting is a prayer for the well being of mine and the whole society,” he says.

An advocate of fasting in his speeches during Iftar parties, Prathapan has now turned into a columnist who describes Ramadan through newspapers and visual media. His works speak volumes about the spiritual virtues of fasting rather than turning Iftar into big social parties that have now become the norm. “Iftar parties have become venues of amorality and extravaganza. They should be exclusive for the persons those who are on fast and their sanctity should be respected as we do towards fasting,” he says.

twocircles.net/2016jun16/1466070892.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm#.V2O89tJ97IU

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Though Challenging, India’s Muslim Runners Continue Training during Ramadan

June 16, 2016

NEW DELHI // Shahid Kandrikar’s Ramadan schedule is an unusual one. After working all day at his shoe-manufacturing business, he puts on his trainers and runs eight kilometres before sitting down to break his fast.

Mr Kandrikar laps an 800-metre circuit that takes him through a park near his neighbourhood in central Chennai and then on to a road bustling with rush-hour traffic.

“The pollution is bad," he says. “But during Ramadan, this is really the only time I can run."

A culture of running has grown in India over the past decade. In cities across the country, joggers and marathoners fill the roads and parks every morning and evening.

“Back in 2002, when I began running competitively, you hardly saw anyone running," says Mr Kandrikar, 46.

“I remember how people would stop me on the road and ask: ‘Why are you running? It’s bad for your knees’."

For Muslim runners, the restrictions on eating and drinking during Ramadan pose a challenge if they want to continue pounding out the miles. This year it is even harder as the holy month falls in midsummer, which means the days are long and draining.

Mr Kandrikar must eat his Suhoor before 5.45am. Iftar comes nearly 13 hours later, when the sun sets.

The intervening time is hot and humid, as Chennai lies on the coast. Temperatures can touch 40°C, and the humidity ranges between 50 and 80 per cent. Even without fasting, runners who train outdoors can easily become dehydrated.

“It was difficult to run during Ramadan initially, when I first started doing it in 2007," Mr Kandrikar says. “I had to start slow and pace myself. But I find now that a run leaves me feeling lighter and more energetic. I’ve gotten used to it."

In Chennai’s community of Muslim runners, Mr Kandrikar was something of a pioneer. When Shahul Hameed, a 48-year-old entrepreneur, decided in 2011 that he too would try to maintain his mileage during Ramadan, he turned to Mr Kandrikar for advice.

“Shahid told me how he trained, and that he sometimes did long runs after his evening meal, at around 10.30pm," Mr Hameed says. “I had to find out what worked for me, though. I couldn’t run at night, because it was very difficult to sleep after that much exercise."

Through trial and error, Mr Hameed also settled on a pre-iftar slot. He deliberately lightens his workload during Ramadan, and heads home at 5.30pm, just in time for a run before prayers and dinner.

“I run for about half an hour, trying to do five kilometres," he says. “And I stick to just doing laps in my street near my house. What happens if I collapse? I wouldn’t have had a sip of water in more than 12 hours, and the body is already dehydrated. This way, if anything happens, I’m close to home."

Mr Hameed has slowly built up his endurance. The first year he ran during Ramadan, he managed only three or four runs through the month. He ran every alternate day last year and is maintaining that pace this year, managing five runs in the first 10 days of the month.

“The way I drink water has changed too," he says. “Earlier, I would gulp down half a litre of water immediately, and then I would feel too full and unable to eat. Now I sip water slowly, continuously, over the course of a couple of hours. This way, I drink maybe a litre and a half, or two litres, and I can still eat."

“You often tend to overeat [during iftar]," Mr Hameed says. “But because I go running, I feel refreshed and light even after I eat."

In east Delhi, Tanvir Kazmi does steady, slow-paced runs in the evenings, circling a 1.5-kilometre loop in a park near his house just before iftar.

“If I’m doing speed-running sessions, I save those for after the meal, after a break of half an hour or so," he says. “It’s dangerous to do those while you’re still fasting."

These days, Mr Kazmi’s 10-year-old son accompanies him so he keeps the runs short, to about two kilometres. But in 2010, he had to run seriously throughout Ramadan as he was training for the Comrades Ultramarathon in South Africa.

“I would go for a two-hour run at a slow pace before breaking my fast, then eat, and then go run for another two hours," he says.

It sounds brutal, he admits. “But this is something I’ve discovered as a part of my exploration: That the human body is capable of adapting, and of extending itself in the face of a challenge."

thenational.ae/world/south-asia/though-challenging-indias-muslim-runners-continue-training-during-ramadan

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Arab World

UAE says ‘war over’ for its troops in Yemen

Friday 17 June 2016

ABU DHABI:: The United Arab Emirates has said the “war is over” for its troops in Yemen after a nearly 15-month intervention as part of a Saudi-led coalition that cost the lives of around 80 Emirati soldiers.

The announcement by a government minister, which the crown prince of the UAE’s richest emirate Abu Dhabi then posted on his official Twitter account, came with large swathes of the country, including the capital Sanaa, still in the hands of Iran-backed Shiite Houthi rebels.

“Our standpoint today is clear — war is over for our troops, we’re monitoring political arrangements (and) empowering Yemenis in liberated areas,” said state minister for foreign affairs Anwar Gargash.

His comments came in a speech late on Wednesday to foreign ambassadors and senior Emirati officials, including Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan.

Sheikh Mohammed is also deputy supreme commander of the UAE armed forces.

But Gargash appeared to clarify that his country’s forces were still committed until the coalition decides to end combat operations altogether.

“Our armed forces ... have performed their combat duty bravely and professionally. This role continues, along with sisterly (kingdom of) Saudi Arabia, until the coalition announces an end to the war,” he wrote in a tweet posted late Thursday.

The UAE was a mainstay of the Saudi-led coalition which intervened in Yemen in March 2015 as the Houthi rebels threatened to overrun the whole country, prompting President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi to flee into exile.

The coalition succeeded in pushing the rebels out of southern cities, where Hadi’s government has set up base, but the rebels remain in control of most of the central and northern highlands as well as the Red Sea coast.

Eight weeks of UN-brokered peace talks in Kuwait have made no major breakthrough in the face of deep mistrust between the warring parties.

It was the first time in the UAE’s history that it had deployed ground troops beyond its borders.

In March, UAE special forces also played a major role in driving Al-Qaeda out of the southeastern provincial capital of Mukalla, which it had held for a year.

The jihadists had taken advantage of the conflict between Hadi loyalists and the rebels to seize several cities in the south and southeast.

The intervention cost the lives of UAE air crews as well as ground troops.

In March, a Mirage jet crashed in Yemen killing both its crew. And this week alone, two UAE helicopters crashed with the loss of their four crew.

More than 6,400 Yemenis have been killed since the intervention started, the majority of them civilians.

arabnews.com/node/940481/middle-east

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Young Saudi prince’s under-the-radar US visit belies his big plans and growing power

Friday, 17 June, 2016

Saudi Arabia’s Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman is making his solo Washington debut this week, pitching an economic plan to investors and trying to counter negative views among US lawmakers that his country isn’t stopping terrorist financing.

Just don’t expect to see much of him.

While Prince Mohammed, who is also the Saudi defence minister, has been whisked to meetings across Washington since Monday, all of them have been closed to the press. He broke the Ramadan fast with Secretary of State John Kerry, met intelligence and congressional leaders including House Speaker Paul Ryan and visited Defence Secretary Ash Carter at the Pentagon, all without making any public comments.

Nor did the White House publicise the president’s plans to meet with the increasingly powerful young prince. When asked by reporters, though, spokesman Eric Schultz confirmed Thursday that US President Barack Obama would meet Prince Mohammed in the Oval Office on Friday afternoon. It’s a follow-up to the president’s April summit with Gulf Arab leaders in Riyadh, the Saudi capital, Schultz said.

Most of the agenda will focus on “restoring stability to the regional conflicts that we’ve seen, our cooperation with the Saudis against” Islamic State and the kingdom’s new economic plan, he said.

Details of what’s been discussed so far behind closed doors are sparse, but participants said the kingdom’s economic overhaul, regional rival Iran, the wars in Yemen and Syria and the fight against Islamic State were all on the agenda.

“He clearly expressed in detail a vision for the Saudi economic strategy, security strategy, and the reason why he sees the relationship with the United States important for the country,” Democratic Senator Ben Cardin said Tuesday after meeting the 30-year-old prince. “He’s very impressive.”

The visit comes at a sensitive time in a US-Saudi relationship that Obama described as “complicated” in an interview published in March by The Atlantic magazine. The prince arrived two days after the killing of 49 people at an Orlando dance club by an American who proclaimed support for Islamic terrorist groups and had travelled twice to Saudi Arabia. And it takes place amid continuing demands that classified portions of a September 11 report be made public and criticism among political leaders that the kingdom doesn’t do enough to stop extremism.

“These are issues that Saudi Arabia needs to comes to grips with in terms of what it means to the relationship with the US,” said Stephen Seche, executive vice-president of the Arab Gulf States Institute in Washington and a former ambassador to Yemen.

Even if the prince is keeping a lower profile, the visit is still a signal event for both countries. Under Saudi King Salman Bin Abdulaziz, Prince Mohammed, his son, is leading Saudi Arabia’s biggest-ever economic shakeup, moving to cut subsidies and diversify the economy away from oil by generating an extra US$100 billion in non-oil revenue by 2020.

“US-Saudi relations are much better than often portrayed,” said Bruce Riedel, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution who spent 30 years at the Central Intelligence Agency and served on the National Security Council. “The Obama administration has sold the kingdom over US$110 billion in arms in seven years. The president has travelled to Saudi Arabia more than any other country in the Middle East. So we should not let honest differences of opinion obscure the strength of the partnership.”

The visit isn’t totally under-the-radar. That’s impossible when an 11-car motorcade festooned with the green Saudi flag is taking the prince around the US capital. And he stood out easily on his way to meet lawmakers, wearing the traditional dishdasha robe amid throngs of tourists and his entourage in the Capitol building.

scmp.com/news/world/united-states-canada/article/1976694/young-saudi-princes-under-radar-us-visit-belies-his

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Iraqis say ISIS booted from compound in heart of key city

Friday, 17 June, 2016

BAGHDAD -- Iraq's military said Friday that it had entered the center of Fallujah, a city just 40 miles west of Baghdad that has been held for two years by militants of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), and retaken a central government compound from the terror group.

"The counter-terrorism service and the rapid response forces have retaken the government compound in the centre of Fallujah," Lieutenant General Abdulwahab al-Saadi, who is in command of the operation to retake Fallujah from ISIS, told the French news agency AFP.

The chief of Iraq's national police force, Raed Shaker Jawdat, also told AFP of the advance, saying the "liberation of the government compound, which is the main landmark in the city, symbolises the restoration of the state's authority."

The U.S. military could not immediately confirm that Iraqi forces were in control of the compound, or any other part of central Fallujah.

And CBS News senior national security correspondent David Martin notes that even if the Iraqi forces have taken the government compound, that does not mean they have retaken Fallujah. Their tactics are to seize the center and then push out to clear the rest of the city. Seizure of the compound would indicate the operation is proceeding as planned.

Fallujah is the last major city in western Iraq still held by the extremist group, and the operation to retake it has been grinding on for several weeks.

On Thursday, an aid organization said a two-year-old boy was killed by ISIS militants while fleeing Fallujah with his family amid the government offensive, highlighting the dangers faced by civilians trying to escape the nearly one-month military operation.

The Norwegian Refugee Council, which works with refugees and internally displaced Iraqis, cited a relative as saying that an ISIS fighter shot the boy as he was being carried out of the city by his mother on Monday. The gunfire hit the mother's shoulder and killed her son, it said.

The toddler was killed instantly. His mother was bleeding heavily and had to be dragged out of the water by her companions. Her other children escaped unharmed.

As dozens of families began trying to flee the city, ISIS deployed snipers and planted bombs to prevent them from escaping. There are no official figures for how many civilians have been killed while fleeing Fallujah.

Aid groups estimate that 50,000 civilians remain trapped inside Fallujah, which has been under ISIS control for over two years.

The United Nations has said that about 42,000 people have fled since the military operation began in late May. Aid groups such as Doctors Without Borders and the Norwegian Refugee Council say the number of those who have fled Fallujah is lower, and closer to 30,000.

Dozens more families managed to escape the city, aided by Iraqi forces, as the troops pushed further in on Friday.

The conflict in Iraq has forced more than 3.3 million people to flee their homes. Iraq is also hosting up to 300,000 refugees who have fled the civil war in neighboring Syria. Most are living in camps or informal settlements.

cbsnews.com/news/iraq-troops-enter-fallujah-center-isis-government-compound/

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ISIS ‘kill list’ contains names of dozens of British Columbians

June 16, 2016

A so-called “kill list” shared among members of the ISIS terror group contains the names of 151 Canadians, including more than two dozen people from B.C.

The list, which has been obtained by CTV News, is comprised of more than 8,000 individuals, including many women and even some children. The vast majority are from the U.S.

It’s unclear how the list was compiled, but there’s been speculation the people included are victims of various hacks of personal information that had no relation to ISIS.

It’s important to note that while nine such lists have been released by ISIS cyber terrorists over the last four months, there have been no reports of any subsequent violence being committed against the targets.

Even so, the RCMP said it’s assessing the information carefully, and officers are in the process of knocking on doors to warn the people named to be vigilant.

“The RCMP is aware of this matter and is working with its domestic and international law enforcement and intelligence partners to assess this information and to notify the Canadians identified,” Sgt. Harold Pfleiderer said in an email statement Friday.

“Because of the sensitive nature of this matter, we will not be providing further comment.”

One B.C. victim who was included on the list told CTV News he was disappointed by the lack of information or assistance offered when police contacted him.

The most recent list was discovered by the Middle East Media Research Institute, or MEMRI, in Washington, D.C. and forwarded to authorities in affected countries.

The not-for-profit group, which monitors messaging applications and other channels frequented by ISIS and its supporters, said the list appears more random and less intentional than past lists that included mostly military personnel and government officials.

“There’s nothing to indicate it’s a well-considered list, and there’s certainly much to indicate that it’s not,” said deputy director Elliot Zweig.

Sharing such lists is an easy way for ISIS to drum up fear without actually doing anything, Zweig added.

“It’s a favoured tactic of ISIS supporters. After all, the goal of terrorists is to terrorize,” he said. “You could call it ‘terrorist trolling.’”

But Zweig said MEMRI doesn’t determine the severity of threats, it only identifies them and passes them on to law enforcement and intelligence agencies.

Canada’s Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale said the government is taking the threat seriously while authorities work to assess the situation.

“The police and security authorities of Canada are taking this matter with the gravity it demands,” Goodale said.

bc.ctvnews.ca/isis-kill-list-contains-names-of-dozens-of-british-columbians-1.2949352

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Trade strategy, anti-terror steps, ways to contain Iran discussed

Friday 17 June 2016

Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman being received by US Defense Secretary Ashton Carter

RIYADH: Middle East security, countering terrorism and improving trade ties are the focus of talks held by Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman with American politicians in Washington.

The deputy crown prince visited the Pentagon on Thursday and held a bilateral meeting on security issues of mutual concern with US Defense Secretary Ashton Carter.

Carter hosted an enhanced honor cordon to welcome his guest, on the steps of the Pentagon’s river entrance.

Upon arrival, Secretary Carter welcomed Prince Mohammed back to the Pentagon and gave the following statement:

“This is our 10th in-depth conversation, and I am grateful for his hospitality and the Gulf Cooperation Council in April in Riyadh and I’ve had the honor to host in here back last September and I look forward to another productive meeting to build a close security relationship between our countries”.

Carter added: “We’ll be discussing ways to further cooperate on conventional and asymmetric threats in the region these include delivering Daesh a lasting defeat, addressing the situation in Yemen, and countering Iran’s belying influence. We’ll also discuss joint capabilities including expanded coordination on special operation forces. I want to thank HRH (Mohammed bin) Salman for making this journey, and I look forward to this conversation.”

In his remarks, Prince Mohammed said: “I am today in a country that is an ally to the Kingdom, in a very sensitive time, in a kind of region with many threats surrounding us … either when it comes to the instability of some countries or the interference in the internal affairs of countries, or terrorism.”

He added: “The US and its allies in the region have the responsibility to meet and deal with these challenges that might pose as a threat to the entire world and today we are working hard and seriously to face these challenges.”

According to press reports Thursday, Prince Mohammed discussed the crises in Syria, Iraq, Libya and Yemen, including how to tackle Iran’s expansionism, in closed meetings with a large number of Congress members — both Republicans and Democrats.

President Barack Obama will host Prince Mohammed at the White House today. White House spokesman Eric Schultz said that Obama would meet the deputy crown prince.

On Wednesday, Prince Mohammed met with US House of Representatives Speaker Paul Ryan, House of Representatives Democratic Party Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, and held several meetings with committee heads and members of the Senate and House of Representatives.

arabnews.com/node/940781/saudi-arabia

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UAE hotspot for Muslim travellers during Ramadan

June 17, 2016

The growing trend by Muslims to travel during the fasting period will see destinations in the GCC region become the most attractive by 2023.

GCC will become the most attractive destinations for Muslim travellers by 2023

The UAE, Qatar and Oman will become attractive destinations for Muslim travellers during the holy month of Ramadan by 2023, according to new research released on Thursday by MasterCard and CrescentRating.

The growing trend by Muslims to travel during the fasting period will see destinations in the GCC region become the most attractive by 2023, according to data and analysis from the inaugural MasterCard-CrescentRating Ramadan Travel Report 2016.

"With Ramadan set to take place in cooler months from 2023, destinations in the Middle East such as the UAE, Qatar and Oman will become an attractive proposition for Muslim travellers. Jordan, Egypt, Morocco and Tunisia could also benefit from this trend," said the report.

In 2015 there were an estimated 117 million Muslim visitor arrivals globally, representing close to 10 per cent of the entire travel market. This is forecasted to grow to 168 million visitors by 2020 the equivalent of 11 per cent of the market segment with a market value projected to exceed $200 billion.

According to the annual Global Muslim Travel Index, Malaysia leads the top five favoured spots for Muslim travellers followed by the UAE, Turkey, Indonesia and Qatar.

The report said a total of 50 destinations across the globe were analysed in the study and benchmarked across three criteria - average daytime temperature, fasting duration and Global Muslim Travel Index 2016 scores - over the next 15 years until 2030.

It is the first ever report of its kind to provide destinations and businesses in the tourism industry with useful insights on how they can develop medium to long-term strategies to attract and cater to Muslim travellers during Ramadan over the coming years.

"Ramadan travel has been largely ignored by the industry despite the growing trend in the last few years," said Fazal Bahardeen CEO of CrescentRating & HalalTrip.

"However, the report has revealed some very interesting insights especially for countries in the Middle East. Muslims travelling in Ramadan is becoming a reality and one which can benefit countries, through strategic destination marketing and planning by the tourism authorities.

"As one of the fastest growing tourism sectors in the world, the Muslim travel market brings tremendous opportunities. An increasing number of governments are boosting their efforts to attract more Muslim visitors to their countries. With travel during

Ramadan also expected to grow in the next decade, the new MasterCard-CrescentRating Ramadan Travel Report will be valuable to businesses and governments in helping them gain a better understanding of the unique needs and preferences of Muslim travellers and how they can adapt or tailor products and services for them during the holy month," said Safdar Khan, group country manager, Indonesia, Malaysia and Brunei; group head, Islamic Payments, Southeast Asia, MasterCard.

The report also shows that Malaysia remains the top ranked destination for most of the years until 2026.

Six key drivers have been identified in the report to be contributing to the increasing number of Muslims travelling during Ramadan.

These include the growing number of pilgrims to Saudi Arabia to perform Umrah, business travel, spending Ramadan with family, experiencing Ramadan in a different environment and culture, celebrating Eid with family as well as extreme weather conditions or duration of fasting.

The report also takes into account the special place that the holy cities of Makkah and Madinah (Saudi Arabia) hold as the top destinations from a religious perspective, irrespective of the three criteria used for this analysis. As such, the Kingdom is excluded from the ranking and has been addressed separately on how Ramadan travel can help boost efforts towards achieving Vision 2030.

khaleejtimes.com/business/uae-hotspot-for-muslim-travellers

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Pakistan

Forced conversions still making Pak Hindus’ lives miserable

June 17, 2016

Islamabad: The minority Hindus in Pakistan continue to suffer from forced conversions and discrimination with recent reports suggesting that there is no end to their plight.

Although there are no confirmed statistics on forced conversions in the country, unofficial estimates based on reports suggest that as many as 1,000 girls are forcibly converted to Islam from other religions every year.

The ongoing issue has become so severe now that a significant number of Pakistani Hindus are forced to migrate to India.

And silence over this practice means that Hindu girls, particularly minors, are being forced to a lifetime of subjugation and separation from their families and in harsh reality they remain forcibly divorced from their religion.

Today, forced conversions have become a grave human rights concern in Pakistan.

Recently, PTI lawmaker Lal Chand Malhi, serving as MNA on a minority seat, highlighted the issue arguing for the need to pass and implement legislation on forced conversions, reports the Express Tribune.

Malhi, a parliamentarian from Umerkot, the only district in Pakistan where almost half the population is Hindu, has said that forced conversions have become a matter of routine in some parts of the country.

He also pointed out that a significant portion of Pakistani Hindus belong to the lower castes and with that they neither have the means nor the influence to get cases of forced conversions reported.

Highlighting the existence of this class barrier, Malhi said that cases of forced conversions often get reported only when the upper caste Hindus are the victims.

What remains more heart wrenching is the lack of a concentrated effort to put a stop to this evil practice by the provincial and federal governments.

This clearly exposes the government’s indifference or biasness amongst its own countrymen.

siasat.com/news/forced-conversions-still-making-pak-hindus-lives-miserable-973845/

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Iran responds to Pak’s letter on alleged Indian spy

June 16, 2016

Islamabad : Iran has responded to a letter written by Pakistan’s Interior Ministry seeking investigation into the alleged activities of Indian intelligence agency RAW in Tehran.

The response was reportedly handed over to Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan by Iranian Ambassador Mehdi Hunerdoost, who called on him here on Wednesday, Dawn reports.

Reports suggest that progress in expansion of cooperation in a number of areas, including security, was reviewed and stock of the situation prevailing in the region were also discussed during the meeting.

Making it clear that no third country could influence relations between Pakistan and Iran, Nisar stressed the need for strengthening border monitoring and timely exchange of information between the two countries.

In the letter, Islamabad has asked the Iranian Government to investigate and share details of alleged Indian spy Kulbushan Jadhav’s activities in Iran, along with those of his colleague allegedly identified as RAW Sub-Inspector Rakesh alias Rizwan.

Pakistan also asked Iran to immediately arrest and hand over Rakesh for interrogation.

siasat.com/news/iran-responds-paks-letter-alleged-indian-spy-973399/

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CII chief’s appointment challenged in court

Thursday, 16 June, 2016

ISLAMABAD: The appointment of Maulana Mohammad Khan Sheerani as chairman of the Council of Islamic Ideology (CII) was challenged in the Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Thursday.

After a preliminary hearing, IHC Justice Aamer Farooq issued a notice to the state, seeking a reply within 10 days.

The president appointed Maulana Sheerani as CII chairmnan in 2013. He is also an elected member of the National Assembly from NA-264 (Zhob-cum-Sheerani-cum-Killa Saifullah) in Balochistan.

The petitioner, Moeen Hayat Cheema, teaches law at the Lahore University of Management Sciences and has filed the petition through his counsel, Mirza Shahzad Akbar.

Petitioner claims Sheerani does not meet requirements for post; cannot head govt-controlled body while serving as MNA

The petition says that an MNA stands disqualified if he is in service of any other government organisation in addition to his membership of the National Assembly.

It argues that since the CII is a government-controlled body, Sheerani could not have been validly appointed as he was already an MNA when he was appointed its chairman.

The CII is a constitutional institution with a mandate to advise legislatures on whether or not laws are Sharia-compliant. The CII has been used to make political appointments and provide perks and privileges to members of a minor party in successive coalition governments. The appointment of the current CII chairman is especially problematic as he lacks the necessary credentials to occupy such a constitutional office and during whose tenure the institution has been rendered an embarrassment to the Constitution and to Islam, the petition said.

The petition contended that Sheerani’s appointment was illegal and against the Constitution, since he did not meet the educational and professional requirements for the chairmanship of a public body like the CII. It is clearly stated in the Constitution that all CII members must possess an understanding of the principles and philosophy of Islam or an understanding of the economic, political or legal problems of Pakistan.

The petition cites Supreme Court precedent, which states that the discretion given to the president for the appointment of chairpersons of public bodies is not unfettered and must be exercised judiciously. The case law clearly states that appointees to such important offices must be competent and must possess requisite qualifications.

Sheerani has never received a university education, possesses no legal training and has no publications on Islamic jurisprudence to his name.

His education, as listed on his public profile, only includes education at madrassahs including Mataul Uloom Quetta and Meerajul Uloom Bannu.

The petition further contends that Sheerani’s appointment was in fact a political move by the PML-N government to appease the JUI-F. No consideration was given to whether Sheerani was suitable for the merit based post.

The petition requests the court to declare the appointment of Maulana Sheerani as void ab initio or invalid from the beginning.

The petition against the CII chief was filed at a time when the council is being criticised for allowing a husband to “lightly” beat his wife “if needed” and prohibits mixing of the genders in schools, hospitals and offices.

The CII’s proposed bill for the ‘protection of women’ claims women will have all the rights given to them under Shariah, prohibits interaction between namehram men and women at recreational places and offices, and bans “dance, music and sculptures created in the name of art”.

dawn.com/news/1265414/cii-chiefs-appointment-challenged-in-court

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Seven more children die in Thar; toll rises to 222 this year

Thursday, 16 June, 2016

MITHI: Seven children died from diseases caused by malnutrition at Mithi civil hospital and Islamkot in the drought-hit Thar over the past two days, raising the death toll, according to official figures, to 222 this year.

Thar DHO Dr Chandar Lal told Dawn on Thursday that most of the patients were newborns and underweight. So far, 51,680 kids were given medicines and 5,348 were admitted to six healthcare facilities of the district, he said.

The children’s parents complained that their kids were being forcibly discharged from the civil hospital and were being referred to Hyderabad without providing them fuel for ambulances.

Dr Iqbal Ahmed Bhurgari, civil surgeon, said that 165 children had died at the civil hospital during past five months. But sources said over 355 kids had so far died across Thar this year.

Meanwhile, 598 health workers and dispensers, who were appointed in July last year, have not received salary so far. The unpaid workers had been posted at 180 closed dispensaries of the district, where medicines and furniture had been provided but to no avail, complained villagers.

But Tharparkar DC Dr Shahzad Tahir Thaheem claimed the situation was well under control. Media was not giving due coverage to their sincere efforts to mitigate sufferings of Tharis, he complained.

He said that four mobile dispensaries launched a couple of weeks ago were providing best healthcare facilities to people, who did not have easy access to hospitals.

dawn.com/news/1265265/seven-more-children-die-in-thar-toll-rises-to-222-this-year

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Residents of Kashmir Colony, Peshawar urged Govt to save temples

Thursday, 16 June, 2016

PESHAWAR: Residents of Kashmir Colony, Peshawar, have demanded of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government to secure their houses and historical worship places of minorities at the colony and take action against those who are bent on demolishing the locality and five temples for construction of a shopping plaza.

In this regard, Moazzam Butt advocate submitted an application to the police at Khan Raziq police station on behalf of the residents of Kashmir Colony on Thursday to take action against all those involved in grabbing the land properties belonging to Kashmiris and temples of Hindus and Sikhs.

The lawyer alleged that an official of Evacuee Trust Property Board (Auqaf department) in connivance with a local nazim had allegedly sold the property to a tribesman belonging to Khyber Agency and forcing the residents of Kashmir Colony to vacate their houses because they had no valid documents to prove ownership.

The property, he said, include five worship places of Hindus and Sikhs and several residential quarters where the residents were forced to vacate without any prior notice. The applicant said that there was a possible chance of clash as the Kashmiri families were not ready to allow anyone sell their colony illegally.

He said that in case of any untoward incident the responsibility would rest with the administration.

“I will move a petition in the high court against the official concerned for snatching land properties from the owners because the Kashmir Colony is owned by the people who migrated from Kashmir,” Mr Butt said.

dawn.com/news/1265428/govt-urged-to-save-temples

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Europe

Leaflets Found In Darul Uloom, Birmingham Say Music 'Acts Of Devil'

06/16/16

Inspectors made an unannounced visit to the Darul Uloom Islamic High School in Birmingham after having previously rated the school as "inadequate".

Inspectors said pupils were not being protected from "extreme views".

The school rejected previous Ofsted criticism, saying that it promoted "both Islamic and British values".

But a spokeswoman for the Department for Education said the allegations would be urgently investigated and that action would be taken against schools "promoting twisted ideologies".

"These leaflets should have no place in any school - and we will not hesitate to take strong action when schools focus on ideological indoctrination rather than a high-quality education," said the DFE spokeswoman.

An Ofsted inspection last year had found weaknesses with the school and inspectors returned without warning to monitor how an improvement plan was being implemented.

But inspectors found printed material with "extremist views".

"A large number of copies of a leaflet containing highly concerning and extremist views, such as "Music, dancing and singing are acts of devil and prohibited" were discovered during the inspection.

"The leaflets were found in areas shared by the school and adjoining mosque which are used by leaders and in areas used by the pupils from the school," said the inspectors.

Inspectors thought the leaflets were discouraging people from attending a local music fesitval

Ofsted says that it is not clear who produced the leaflets, which they added seemed to be calling for a boycott of a local music festival.

The leaflet is understood to have made reference to music in terms of "public indecency" and the "proliferation of sinful activities".

The inspection report of the school, which teaches boys from the ages of 11 to 16, says the school needs to put in practice its commitment to safeguarding pupils.

It also warns that there is a lack of evidence that the lessons match the published curriculum.

"For example, the policy states that the biggest timetable weighting has been given to English and mathematics, but inspection evidence and school timetables show that pupils study Arabic for approximately half of the school day."

The report says the school must take action to meet the requirements of independent school regulations.

The school was previously criticised by Ofsted for what appeared to the segregation of male and female governors.

Ofsted had reported that the school's only female governor sat in an adjacent room during meetings.

But the school challenged this, saying that the female governor was making a choice to sit separately and that this arrangement was respecting her rights.

"The right for a person to choose is a universal value," said the statement from the school.

A Department for Education spokeswoman said: "Extremism has no place in our society and when we find schools promoting twisted ideologies we will not hesitate to take action, including closing the school or working with the police if necessary."

bbc.com/news/education-36548882

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Europeans Most Worried About IS, Divided on EU

06/16/16

Many people in Europe see Islamic State (IS) militants as the biggest threat to their nations, a Pew Research Center study finds.

Climate change is the second largest concern of Europeans. The arrival of refugees from Iraq and Syria in Europe is the third most important issue, the center says.

Researchers spoke with people living in 10 European countries. Only 17 percent of those questioned feel the self-declared Islamic State is a minor threat. Only 3 percent said the group is no threat at all to their nation.

Terrorist attacks in France and Belgium over the past year have put terrorism at the top of the list of concerns of Europeans. Security remains high across the continent since the attacks.

Thirty-two people were in March when bombers attacked the airport and a train station in Brussels, the Belgian capital. The Islamic State said it carried out the attacks. The group also claimed responsibility for a series of deadly attacks in and around Paris last November. A total of 130 people were killed.

The new study found most Europeans do not feel that military spending should be increased. Many fear that increasing military force to fight terrorism only leads to more hate, which will increase violence, the Pew Center said.

The study also found that a majority of Europeans want the EU to become more active in world events. Close to 74 percent of Europeans think the EU should have more influence.

Even in Britain, 55 percent of respondents said the EU should take a more active international stance in the coming years. British voters will decide in a special election next week whether the country should continue as an EU member.

Other studies, including one released by the Pew Research Center last week, show that many Europeans may want to follow Britain's example and possibly leave the EU.

learningenglish.voanews.com/a/europe-is-eu-study/3376732.html

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ISIS In Europe: Orphans Of Terrorism ‘Adopted’ By France After Charlie Hebdo And Paris Islamic State Attacks

06/16/16

When bullets sprayed across the terraces, boulevards and cafes of Paris the night of Nov. 13, the carnage was massive and immediate. Dozens of people were killed instantly in the gunfire and suicide bombs that shook the streets of the 11th Arrondissement in what would become the deadliest attack on French soil since World War II.

Across the city, dozens of children, many already asleep in their beds, lost one or both parents to those lethal attacks that left 130 dead. These orphans of terrorism were joined Monday by yet another young child, this time a 3-year-old boy whose parents were killed in suburban Paris in an attack reportedly inspired by the Islamic State group. President François Hollande announced Tuesday the boy and his half-sibling would become “pupilles de la nation,” or “wards of the nation.”

Created after World War I for orphans of veterans, the little-known status has been more recently applied to children orphaned by terror attacks, and the program can provide for everything from money to buy baby formula to college tuition. With the number of terror victims spiking in the past year, dozens of children are now discovering the tangible support and symbolic burden of being adopted by the French state.

“The main advantage is the official recognition that these children have suffered a profound trauma,” Olivier Faron, a historian who has spent years studying wards of the nation, told radio station France 24. “It’s the state of France acknowledging an injustice.”

At least 61 children in France lost one or both parents to terror attacks in 2015. From the massacre at the offices of satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo in January and the siege of a kosher supermarket days later, to the series of coordinated attacks in November, 147 people were killed in acts of terror in France last year alone.

That same year, 54 orphans were granted the status of wards of the nation, 18 of whom had lost parents to terrorism, according to data provided by the National Office for Veterans and Victims of War, the branch of government in charge of this program. The phrase used to describe this phenomenon is “to be adopted by the nation,” a French expression that hints at something warmer, more familial, than the routine support provided by a government.

These children, however, are more than “wards of the state” — a term that itself seems to connote some Dickensian horrorscape. The status is in part a symbolic one as it does not replace other parental or familial support, but merely supplements it.

The program began as a kind of paternal substitute, after approximately 1 million French children lost their fathers during World War I. As the nation rebuilt in the years that followed, many widows struggled to support their children. The government eventually stepped in, with the first years of the program being financed by reparations from Germany granted to France in the Treaty of Versailles.

It evolved in 1990 to include children whose parents had been killed by acts of terror as far back as 1982. The program was expanded again in 1993 to include the children of slain law enforcement officers and is extended to children regardless of their nationality. If a parent died in defense of the nation of France or was killed by its enemies, the child qualifies.

From a practical point of view, the benefits and services as a ward of France far exceed standard support given to veterans and their families. These children must apply to be wards of the nation, and once recognized, enjoy a legal status that is unique to the nation.

Financial support afforded by this legal status provides for clothes, food, vacation stipends, tuition fees and certain special scholarships. Wards of the nation can also receive help finding their first job, and can continue to request support throughout their lives if need be. Most benefits end after age 21, but the symbolic status is for life.

“Once the dust has settled, when no one continues to speak about these attacks, we will continue to be there to help [these children]. This is for the long-term,” a representative from the National Office for Veterans and Victims of War office told Libération newspaper after November’s attacks.

Though a lifetime of financial and emotional support may seem like a daunting task, it is a relatively low-cost operation for the French government. There were 353 active beneficiaries of the program in 2015, costing 1.1 million euros or approximately $1.2 million, according to the veterans’ office, which means each child received an estimated $3,399.

Being a ward of the nation means more than having an extra social safety net, however. Symbolically, it is both a rare honor and a heavy burden. A dead parent may be enshrined as a martyr, but it also permanently marks the child by the death in the form of an enduring legal status. Being a son or daughter of France serves as a constant reminder that one’s mother or father is gone.

“It’s also very difficult to carry the weight of the death of a hero,” historian Faron said in the same interview. “Being the child of someone who died for France is highly charged and laden with meaning.”

ibtimes.com/isis-europe-orphans-terrorism-adopted-france-after-charlie-hebdo-paris-islamic-state-2382993

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North America

Why A Mosque Invited A Church To Use Its Space For Worship

 06/16/2016

When a Michigan Unitarian Universalist congregation found itself homeless as their church underwent construction, a local mosque came to the rescue, offering them a space free of charge.

“This has been the Muslim tradition for over 1,400 years — to be hospitable, to take care of your guest,” Imam Sohail Chaudhry of The Islamic Center of East Lansing told The Huffington Post.

The church had been gathering in a Jewish fraternity before deciding to buy its own building, but the space needed construction and wouldn’t be available for several months.

The Islamic center, which hosts its main prayers on Fridays, invited the Unitarian congregation to use its worship space for Sunday services. The congregation met at the mosque for about a month before settling into its new space in June.

Many of the Christian congregants had never been inside a mosque before, said Rev. Kathryn Bert, senior minister of the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Greater Lansing.

Getting comfortable with difference involves building relationships with people.”

Rev. Kathryn Bert

“People were so excited the very first day,” Bert told HuffPost.

Before the church’s first service at the mosque, Bert fielded questions from her congregation about etiquette, including whether women should cover their heads, as is traditional in Muslim places of worship. When Bert posed the question to Chaudhry the imam said it would be polite, but not necessary.

Bert said she estimated that 30 to 40 percent of the women in her congregation chose to wear scarves during services out of respect to the Islamic center.

“Getting comfortable with difference involves building relationships with people,” she told HuffPost. “You can’t just do it from a book.”

Chaudhry said he hoped the partnership wouldn’t be a “one-off event” and instead inspire further bridge-building in the future.

“This should be part of our vision, that we are together,” Chaudhry said. “We are members of this community. We are members of this country. We need to do our part to make this country great.”

huffingtonpost.com/entry/why-a-mosque-invited-a-church-to-use-its-space-for-worship_us_57630310e4b05e4be86141fa?section=india&utm

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U.S. State Department Officials Call for Strikes Against Syria’s Assad

 06/16/2016

BEIRUT—Dozens of State Department officials this week protested against U.S. policy in Syria, signing an internal document that calls for targeted military strikes against the Damascus government and urging regime change as the only way to defeat Islamic State.

The “dissent channel cable” was signed by 51 State Department officers involved with advising on Syria policy in various capacities, according to an official familiar with the document. The Wall Street Journal reviewed a copy of the cable, which repeatedly calls for “targeted military strikes” against the Syrian government in light of the near-collapse of the ceasefire brokered earlier this year.

The views expressed by the U.S. officials in the cable amount to a scalding internal critique of a longstanding U.S. policy against taking sides in the Syrian war, a policy that has survived even though the regime of President Bashar al-Assad has been repeatedly accused of violating ceasefire agreements and Russian-backed forces have attacked U.S.-trained rebels.

The State Department acknowledged the existence of the cable, which is a formal, confidential diplomatic communication, but wouldn’t comment on its contents until top officials had a hance to review it.

Obama administration officials have expressed concern that attacking the Assad regime could lead to a direct conflict with Russia and Iran.

John Kirby, a State Department spokesman, said the “Dissent Channel” is an official forum that allows employees to express opposing views. State Department regulations expressly prohibit retaliation against any employee who uses the channel to voice disagreement.

The complaint filed by the State Department officials wasn’t unusual, current and former U.S. officials said, but the number of diplomats actively opposing a major White House position was.

“It’s embarrassing for the administration to have so many rank-and-file members break on Syria,” said a former State Department official who worked on Middle East policy.

These officials said dissent on Syria policy has been almost a constant since civil war broke out there in 2011. But much of the debate was contained to the top levels of the Obama administration. The recent letter marked a move by the heart of the bureaucracy, which is largely apolitical, to break from the White House.

The internal cable may be an attempt to shape the foreign policy outlook of the next administration, the official familiar with the document said. President Barack Obama has balked at taking military action against Mr. Assad, while Democratic presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton has promised a more hawkish stance toward the Syrian leader. Republican candidate Donald Trump has said he would hit Islamic State hard but has also said he would be prepared to work with Russia in Syria.

The cable warns that the U.S. is losing prospective allies among Syria’s majority Sunni population in its fight against the Sunni extremist group Islamic State while the regime “continues to bomb and starve” them. Mr. Assad and his inner circle are Alawite, a small Shiite-linked Muslim sect and a minority in Syria. In Syria’s multisided war, the regime, Islamic State and an array of opposition rebel groups are all battling each other.

“Failure to stem Assad’s flagrant abuses will only bolster the ideological appeal of groups such as Daesh, even as they endure tactical setbacks on the battlefield,” the cable reads, using an Arabic acronym for Islamic State.

Although Islamic State is losing ground to multiple, U.S.-backed offensives in Syria, Iraq and Libya, Western diplomats say they worry the group has embedded itself so deeply in the population that it will be a major influence for years to come, eventually going underground as its quasi-army is defeated.

Moscow on Thursday called for a long-term ceasefire in the northern city of Aleppo, after helping regime forces encircle the city for weeks. The Russian military is providing air support to the Syrian army and its allies on the ground such as Iran and Hezbollah, the Lebanese Shiite political and militia group.

Both opposition rebels and the Damascus government have violated the cease fire, which took effect on Feb. 27. But the death toll exacted by pro-regime forces has been higher, partly because they have been using barrel bombs dropped by helicopters and been aided by the Russian air force, monitoring groups say. The rebels largely use cruder, homemade weapons such as improvised mortar shells.

The cable asserts Mr. Assad and Russia haven’t taken past cease-fires and “consequential negotiations” seriously and suggests adopting a more muscular military posture to secure a transitional government in Damascus.

It calls for the U.S. to change course and create a more robust partnership with moderate rebel forces to fight against both Islamic State and Mr. Assad’s government. Many Syrian Arab rebels have been reluctant to join the U.S.-led coalition because of its singular focus on Islamic State and not on the regime.

Such a force would shift “the tide of the conflict against the regime [to] increase the chances for peace by sending a clear signal to the regime and its backers that there will be no military solution to the conflict.”

Separate CIA and Pentagon programs to train and equip Syrian Arab rebels have failed to produce a large ground force to fight Islamic State. Russian airstrikes last year also targeted and drove back the CIA’s closest rebel allies, which the agency had supplied with advanced antitank missiles to help them fight Islamic State.

A lack of Arab fighters has slowed the military advance of the U.S.-backed and Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces, or SDF, which is currently on the offensive and taking territory from Islamic State.

The advance of the SDF was recently halted until more Arab rebels were rolled into the force, Western diplomats say, after the opposition protested the ethnic composition of the group, as did some of its regional allies.

The SDF is currently surrounding the town of Manbij in northern Aleppo province, a major administrative and agricultural center for the extremists. If taken, Manbij would be the biggest Syrian population center reclaimed from Islamic State, helping to pave the way for the U.S.-led coalition to move on the group’s self-proclaimed Syrian capital of Raqqa.

The Russian-led force is also pushing toward Raqqa from the south, making the march on the Islamic State stronghold a strategic and symbolic competition between the rival coalitions. Islamic State is also being rolled back in Iraq, where U.S.-allied government forces have retaken major cities and are advancing in Fallujah, the first city the extremists fully occupied back in 2014.

The cable also echoes the growing impatience among U.S. Gulf allies with the lack of military intervention targeted at the Damascus government to force Mr. Assad to resign and make way for a transitional government. Peace talks between Syria’s government and opposition collapsed in April over Mr. Assad’s fate, with the regime insisting he should stay in power,while the negotiated cease-fire continued to disintegrate.

Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates have pressed the U.S. to provide more sophisticated weapons to rebels. But Washington has resisted.

Allowing the regime to commit large-scale human rights abuses “against the Syrian people undermines both morally and materially, the unity of the anti-Daesh coalition,” the cable reads.

wsj.com/articles/u-s-state-department-officials-call-for-strikes-against-syrias-assad-1466121933

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Malcolm Turnbull regrets inviting homophobic sheikh to Iftar dinner

06/16/16

Malcolm Turnbull has said he condemns the views of, and regrets inviting to his Iftar dinner, a sheikh who has delivered homophobic sermons claiming gay people spread disease.

On Thursday, Turnbull warned against the community being divided by acts of terrorism at an Iftar dinner to break the Ramadan fast at Kirribilli House. It was the first such dinner hosted by a prime minister.

According to reports, the event was attended by Sheikh Shady Alsuleiman, a senior Islamic leader who has condemned homosexuality in sermons published on YouTube. In one, Alsuleiman blames homosexuality for “spreading diseases” and ­bringing about “evil outcomes to our society”.

When asked about Alsuleiman’s views on Thursday, Turnbull said: “Views like this are wrong, unacceptable and I condemn them.”

Speaking on 3AW on Friday, the prime minister said: “If I had been aware that he made those remarks ... he would not have been invited.”

Turnbull said he would “strongly counsel the sheikh to reflect on what he has said and recant what he has said”.

Malcolm Turnbull uses Iftar dinner to warn against division after Orlando massacre

 Read more

Asked if Islam was a homophobic religion, he replied: “I don’t think you can generalise.

“One quarter of the world’s population would describe themselves as Muslims. There are many Muslims ... [and] there are different views on different issues, as there are in all religions,” he said.

“But I am not a bishop, I am the prime minister. All I have to say is this: that in Australia we are governed by Australian law, passed by Australian parliaments and judged by Australian courts.”

Turnbull said extremists and Islamist terrorists sought to tell Muslims they were not part of the Australian community.

“Mutual respect is absolutely critical, those who do not respect the golden rule – which is to do unto others as you would have them do unto you – undermine the stability, the security and the good fortune of our nation.”

Asked about how he would have handled the “stuff-up” if he were prime minister, Bill Shorten said: “I have no plans to meet the particular sheikh you are referring to.

“And, being aware of his views now, I will tell him that they are out of line with mainstream Australian thinking.”

Shorten would not endorse comments made by the Labor MP Michael Danby, who had linked the issue to the Orlando massacre, by saying hateful views “directly lead to Orlando-style horror”.

“I do think that homophobia has to be called out wherever we see it. In my opinion, there is no religious justification for homophobia,” Shorten said.

“For me, this is not a faith-based issue. Orlando or any other matter, these terrible acts, you have got evil people in the name of any religion and history shows us this, who will do bad things.”

At a doorstop on Friday, the Coalition’s election campaign spokesman, Mathias Cormann, said it was disappointing the Iftar dinner had been overshadowed by the homophobic views of Alsuleiman.

 I've studied radicalization – and Islamophobia often plants the seed

“Yes it is disappointing, the initiative taken by the prime minister was an important initiative of inclusiveness. It was obviously designed to send an important message that Australia is an inclusive, harmonious, multicultural society,” he said.

“The prime minister wasn’t aware of the expressed views of one of the attendees invited because of the position he holds in the Islamic community. Once he did become aware of the views, he condemned them very strongly.”

Alsuleiman is the president of the Australian National Imams Council.

The Labor frontbencher Anthony Albanese said on Friday the invitation of Alsuleiman was a stuff-up that shouldn’t be blamed on Turnbull.

“I do think it’s a good thing that the prime minister had an Iftar dinner and I don’t believe you can hold the prime minister permanently responsible for everyone who is invited,” he said.

At the dinner on Thursday, Turnbull said: “Acts of terror like Sunday’s massacre in Orlando are perpetrated to divide us along lines of race, religion, sect and sexuality – but that kind of hatred and division must not prevail.”

theguardian.com/world/2016/jun/17/malcolm-turnbull-regrets-inviting-homophobic-sheikh-to-iftar-dinner

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Africa

Boost for moderate Islam: Morocco’s Mohammed VI Foundation for African Ulema can become a significant pillar of the global Muslim community

June 16, 2016,

In a significant development, Morocco’s King Mohammed VI recently chaired the inauguration of the Higher Council of the Mohammed VI Foundation for African Ulema in the historic city of Fez. It will be recalled that the formation of the Mohammed VI Foundation for African Ulema was announced last year with the aim of creating a platform for African Muslim clerics and scholars so that they could coordinate their activities, clarify the genuine tenets of Islam, and promote moderate interpretations of the faith. It’s noteworthy that the demand for such a platform came from numerous African nations that wanted to enhance their cooperation with Morocco in the religious domain.

This in turn is a reflection of Morocco’s and King Mohammed VI’s position as a spiritual guide in Muslim Africa. And it’s in recognition of this fact that Morocco has been implementing vital steps to promote moderate Islam to counter the scourge of Islamic radicalism sweeping through many African nations. The rise of Islamic extremism is a serious problem in Africa today. The international community has already witnessed the inroads that the Islamic State (IS) terror group has made in north African nations such as Libya. In fact, many IS fighters in Iraq and Syria hail from Africa’s Maghreb region. Plus, socio-economic conditions in sub-Saharan African nations also present fertile grounds for Islamic radicalism to lay down deep roots.

Add to this jihadist groups like Nigeria’s Boko Haram and Mali’s Ansar Dine – not to mention the long-time presence of Al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb – and we are staring at a situation where extremism can completely annihilate Africa’s development potential through religious conflict cloaked in the garb of political conflict. It’s precisely against this backdrop that the Mohammed VI Foundation for African Ulema seeks to gather African Muslim clerics and scholars to disseminate the moderate precepts of Islam and help combat extremism, reclusiveness and terrorism. For at the end of the day the fight against radicalism within the Islamic faith is an ideological battle. And since there has been a steady decline in scholarly authority within the Muslim world over the past several decades, the Mohammed VI Foundation for African Ulema can play the role of a theological pillar of the Muslim ummah.

That said, there’s another reason why the African Ulema needs to be treated as an important institution of global significance. In today’s world of globalisation we see accelerated exchange of goods and services accruing from an increasingly integrating global market. However, we still haven’t been able to harmonise global values. And one of the key aspects of the rise of Islamic radicalism is the clash of value systems between the Muslim world – defined by its increasing Arab-centric approach – and the rest of the international community. Thus, here too the Mohammed VI Foundation for African Ulema can play a critical role by bringing together African Muslim clerics and scholars from diverse ethnic backgrounds and giving positive direction to the Muslim ummah on the basis of ideals such as moderation, tolerance and co-existence.

Taken together, one should hope that the Mohammed VI Foundation for African Ulema gathers strength and becomes a strong pole for moderate Islam in the years to come.

blogs.timesofindia.indiatimes.com/talkingturkey/boost-for-moderate-islam-moroccos-mohammed-vi-foundation-for-african-ulema-can-become-a-significant-pillar-of-the-global-muslim-community/

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Jihadism on the March in West Africa

Thursday 16 June 2016

Rabat – Three heavily-armed men in black turbans set upon a police station. The point man enters and fires upon three policemen. With trained precision they ransack the office, collect weapons and set a shed on fire. The assailants escape unscathed in a truck parked nearby leaving the policemen critically wounded.

If this were Syria or Afghanistan, it would be just another day. But this terrorist attack took place last week in a small village in Burkina Faso, a struggling West African nation with a 60 percent Muslim population.

There are reports of daily attacks on police stations by affiliates of Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb in Mali. Over the weekend, an attack took the life of one Malian police officer and seriously wounded three others.

muslim tombs are being destroyed, women are being kidnapped and marketplaces bombed.

Within the last year Al Qaeda has made three unexpected and stunning attacks on hotel resorts – in Burkina Faso, Ivory Coast and Mali – leaving 68 dead and West African nations in deep fear of future terrorist attacks.

While U.S. and global coalition officials are touting their success in reducing the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria by forty percent, both ISIS and Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb are expanding their reach into the vast territory of West Africa.

Most of these nations have limited security to combat full scale terrorist attacks.  Many are turning to the West for assistance. But policy makers and global terrorism experts question whether the U.S. is prepared to meet this growing threat.

West Africa is a prime target for expansion for jihadists, says author Bryan Griffin. His newly published Encyclopedia of Militant Islam provides briefs on 44 of the most violent terrorist organizations worldwide.

“Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb is expanding into West Africa for two reasons,” says Griffin. “First they need recruits. And second, they want to capture and control as a much territory outside of strong government control to stockpile weapons.”

Their ultimate goal is to launch a military and public relations campaign against the Western world on behalf of Islam, he said.

He said Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb and other jihadist organizations thrive in large countries with weak governments.  West Africa fits the bill.

Out of 19 West African nations, 15 are former French colonies. The entire continental United States could fit into the region of West Africa. All expect Gabon and Nigeria suffer from weak economies and lack clear political succession. Yet, Gabon and Nigeria, two oil-producing countries have suffered over the past two years from oil revenue decreases as world oil prices have plummeted. Democratic processes have improved, but poverty, illiteracy and joblessness remain a burden on the governments which seek to address these issues.

Sierra Leone, Liberia and Ghana have recently had to bear the brunt of an Ebola outbreak which devastated the economy and stability of these nations.

Griffin said the jihadist take advantage of the poverty and instability by offering food, money and indoctrinating young men who are already Muslim into the path of Jihadism.

“Hundreds if not thousands of Malian children have been sold to armed groups by family members or school officials in exchange for money,” writes Philip Obaji, Jr. in a column entitled How Terrorist Recruit African Children.

“In other cases, the children themselves may have been lured in by money and the appeal of ‘fighting for God,’ especially after indoctrination in religious schools,” he says.

Mali, a vast nation with a weak government, has half of its 17.9 million people under the age of 21, the average annual per capita income is $650 and average life expectancy is 58 years old.

Who is the enemy?

The roots of current terrorist onslaught in West Africa begins in Algeria in the 1990s. The Armed Islamic Group (GIA) sought to topple the Algerian government and establish an Islamic State. It is estimated that nearly 80,000 Algerians were killed through assassinations and civilian massacres. The Algerian government introduced an amnesty program in 1999 allowing a large number of jihadis to surrender. Those left were hunted down, hundreds were captured and those who escaped morphed into a new group called Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat (GSPC).

The Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat made connections with other terrorist subgroups and in 2007 formally joined Al Qaeda headed at the time by Osman Bin Laden. With Bin Laden’s demise in 2011 by the Obama Administration, Ayman Al Zawahiri remains in control.

“Al Qaeda is a strange beast as a group indeed, says Griffin. “It has evolved into a multi-headed Hydra based on a successful model (what Obama refers to as the original “core Al Qaeda”).

This “core” Al Qaeda literally means “the base” maintains a decentralized structure which gives it the flexibility to adapt to losses and gains.

The splintered terrorist groups named themselves Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb. “Maghreb” in Arabic means “west” and is the actual name of Morocco in Arabic. But the area in which this organization was trying to establish its base included Morocco, Algeria and points south.

Through the use of affiliates, AQIM equipped itself to be able to fight on numerous fronts. It has many affiliates which conduct independent missions with names like Ansar Dine, The Movement for Oneness and Jihad in West Africa or MOJWA, Tarek Ibn Ziyad Brigade, Those Who Sign in Blood, Katibat al-Mulathameen or “The Masked Brigade” and the Massina Liberation Front.

But one individual terrorist has found a way to bring these sometimes warring groups together, secure massive amounts of funding and weapons, plan operations and defy death.

The death of Mokhtar Belmokhtar has been announced on Chadian television in March of 2013. The President of Chad Idriss Deby Itno announced soon after that BelMokhtar committed suicide by bombing over despair at the news of the death of close associate in terror Abou Zeid. Belmokhtar then personally confirmed the death of Abou Zaid and destroyed the rumors of his death.

The Libyan government announced he was killed in an U.S. airstrike. The U.S. government confirmed the strike but could not confirm the kill.

But Belmokhtar, and his newly formed Al-Mourabitoun consisting of two AQIM affiliates, are said to be behind the recent hotel attacks in Mali, Ivory Coast and Burkina Faso.

“Same cast of characters just putting on different names,” said Rudy Atallah, nonresident Senior Fellow with Africa Center for the Atlantic Group.  “They just rename themselves.”

Atallah also says that the expansion of AQIM into West Africa is about recruitment.

“Fulanis are being heavily recruited,” said Atallah. “The Fulani are herders and young men without grazing lands. They are destitute and have no jobs and no money.”

The Fulanis are an ethnic group with a population over 20 million and have populations in most every West African nation from Sudan to Senegal.

Of all the ethnic groups in West Africa which were Muslim too, the Fulanis fought the hardest against the French and were the most punished for their insurrections.

Islamic State Present and Accounted For.

It was only five years ago that a suicide car bomb ripped through the United Nations offices in Abuja, Nigeria killing 18 and injuring hundreds. The bombing site was a constant reminder to the heads of state from neighboring West African nations who met for the 2ndRegional Security Conference at the Transcorp Hilton Hotel in Abuja last week.

In attendance: Nigerian President Muhammad Buhari, President Francois Hollande of France, President Patrice Talon of Benin, President Paul Biya of Cameroon, President Idris of Chad, President Ali Bongo Ondimba of Gabon, Mohammadou Isofu of Niger, President Macky Sall of Senegal, President Faure Gnassingbe of Togo, and the Prime Minister of Equatorial Guinea.

These heads of states expressed their concerns of security in their countries.

Gabon President Ali Bongo Ondimba called for greater assistance from the United States and Europe to combat the jihadists. He said that many West African nations lack the experience to fight terrorism.

Nigerian President Buhari was eager to announce that Boko Haram had lost control of all its holdings in northeastern Nigeria. The terrorist group has killed thousands of Nigerians, displaced millions and has spread out to neighboring French-speaking countries of Chad, Cameroon and Niger during its seven-year insurgency.

But terrorism experts say Boko Haram is far from dead.

“This group is now morphing very very quickly,” said J. Peter Pham, director of the Africa Center of the Atlantic Council, in a BBC interview. “Its ties to the so-called Islamic State have been increasing, both in terms of weapons being shipped and fighters being spread further abroad.”

Pham said that Boko Haram fighters have been in Libya for training or to carry out terrorist operations. And Boko Haram still maintains strong ties with al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb.

Senegal, which borders Mali, is seen as a prime target for jihadism. The capital city, Dakar, hosts hundreds of non-governmental organizations, and hotels abound to accommodate aid workers and tourists. The former French colony has tightened security by arresting hundreds of its citizens in January for low-level crimes, such as traffic violations and smuggling. Some see the show of force as a message to ward off any big problems. However, both AQIM and ISIS have been successful in recruiting Senegalese fighters.

Fluency in French is a common trait of Islamic State recruits from the region, write Brookings Institution researcher Chris Meserole and terrorism expert William McCants in a recently published study. So it is perhaps not surprising that France and Belgium have become a destination for them; the two countries have the largest number of IS recruits in Europe. Tunisia, by far, has the largest number of men and women joining IS.

In American counterterrorism efforts, the U.S. Africa Command (Africom) headquartered in Stuttgart, Germany, is providing some tactical training for security forces in Senegal, Ivory Coast and other West African nations. But many terrorism experts are concerned that the U.S. is handling the growing terrorist threat in West Africa with a detachment similar to that shown in Iraq and Syria.

Africom uses Camp Lemonnier in Djibouti, with 2,000 American troops, to launch drone strikes on Al-Qaida affiliates in East Africa. The U.S. military presence in West Africa consists of a base in Morocco, where 1,200 U.S. troops conduct Africa Lion, a joint military exercise. There is speculation that a U.S. drone base is located on the northwest ramp of the commercial airport at Niamey, Niger.

Critics of the American effort aren’t hard to find. Witney Schneidman, former U.S. deputy assistant secretary of state for African affairs, said both Paris and Washington had increased their efforts in West Africa, supplying troops, training and intelligence. But he said the U.S. response remained piecemeal. “It’s missing an overarching strategic approach. I can’t remember the last time our secretary of defense was in Africa,” he told the Financial Times.

Atallah of the Atlantic Council said recently soured relations with Morocco hardly foster a unified effort against jihadism in North and West Africa.

In May, U.S. Ambassador Dwight L. Bush was presented with a formal protest in Rabat over a State Department human rights report criticizing the Kingdom of Morocco for abuses including torture and its treatment of LGBT citizens.

“We should treat the Moroccans with extreme respect,” said Atallah. “But this administration has just thrown egg in their face.”

“What policy?” Atallah said of the overall counterterrorism effort in the region. “There is none.”

“The Obama Administration has done absolutely nothing,” he says. “They are relying totally on France.”

President François Hollande put a hopeful spin on things at the regional security conference in Abuja. “If we are united, we can win against the terrorists,” he said.

moroccoworldnews.com/2016/06/189143/jihadism-on-the-march-in-west-africa/

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Mideast

Turkish football star turned politician moves to US amid probe for 'insulting Erdoğan'

June/16/2016

Former Turkey football star Hakan Şükür went on trial on June 16 at an Istanbul court in absentia on charges of insulting President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on social media, as his lawyer told the court that his client had moved to the United States.

Şükür, one of the stars of Turkey’s third place performance in the 2002 World Cup, is one of several thousand people including journalists, politicians and the occasional celebrity, to face legal proceedings on accusations of insulting the Turkish leader.

Ali Onur Güncel said his client could give testimony from the United States if evidence provided by the defence was found to be insufficient.

According to Turkish media, Şükür had accused Erdoğan of theft in a tweet in February 2015, without naming him directly.

Prosecutors have asked in the indictment for Şükür to serve up to four years in jail.

Şükür, a striker whose football career stretched from 1987-2007, was by far the most prolific goalscorer in the history of the Turkish national side, finding the net 51 times in 112 appearances.

His goal after just 11 seconds of play against South Korea in 2002 remains the fastest goal in World Cup history.

After football, Şükür went into politics and was in 2011 elected an MP with the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP).

But he resigned in 2013 after a vast corruption probe that targeted members of government, siding with the movement of his arch-foe, the U.S.-based preacher Fethullah Gülen.    

Şükür had voiced objections to the government move to shut down schools run by Gülen's movement.

His lawyer's comments confirm that Şükür has left his home country for the United States have ended uncertainty over his whereabouts.    

Şükür had previously insisted his presence there was merely temporary to learn English and open a football academy.

hurriyetdailynews.com/turkish-football-star-turned-politician-moves-to-us-amid-probe-for-insulting-erdogan.aspx?pageID=238&nID=100587&NewsCatID=341

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Former Arkansas Governor likens Trump’s Muslim ban to Israel’s immigration policies

June/17/2016

Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee showed support for Donald Trump’s proposed ban on Muslims, comparing it to Israel’s immigration policies.

“Right here in Israel, Muslims don’t just get to come into Israel without some clearance," Huckabee, who endorsed Trump for president, said in an interview with an Israeli radio station that aired Thursday. "In fact, I am not sure that they are allowed to immigrate here at all. So it’s not unusual — when everybody acts like ‘Oh what Trump has said is so amazing,’ it’s not that amazing in Israel. You don’t have open borders to Muslims here. "

Story Continued Below

Trump reiterated his call to ban Muslims from immigrating to the United States after Omar Mateen, a U.S.-born Muslim whose parents were born in Afghanistan, opened fire at an LGBT night club in Orlando, Florida, killing 49 people.

"When I am elected, I will suspend immigration from areas of the world when there is a proven history of terrorism against the United States, Europe or our allies, until we understand how to end these threats," Trump said in a speech Monday in Manchester, New Hampshire in which he accused his likely Democratic opponent of wanting to admit thousands of Muslim immigrants to the United States with little to no vetting.

"Hillary Clinton’s catastrophic immigration plan will bring vastly more radical Islamic immigration into this country, threatening not only our security but our way of life," he charged.

Clinton responded with a fiery speech of her own on Tuesday, condemning Trump's “bizarre rants” and “outright lies."

“His plan comes down to two things," she said. "First, he is fixated on the words ‘radical Islam.’ Now, I must say, I find this strange. Is Donald Trump suggesting that there are magic words that once uttered will stop terrorists from coming after us?”

Second, she said, "Donald’s words are especially nonsensical because the terrorist who carried out this attack wasn't born in Afghanistan, as Donald Trump said yesterday. He was born in Queens, New York, just like Donald was himself. So Muslim bans and immigration reforms would not have stopped him. It would not have saved a single life in Orlando. And those are the only two ideas Donald Trump put forward yesterday for how to fight ISIS.”

politico.com/story/2016/06/huckabee-likens-trumps-muslim-ban-to-israels-immigration-policies-224458

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Turkish labor union head released after being detained for ‘insulting Erdoğan’

June 17, 2016

The secretary general of Turkey’s Confederation of Progressive Trade Unions (DİSK), Arzu Çerkezoğlu, was released after she was briefly detained on June 17 in Istanbul for allegedly insulting President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.

Police detained Çerkezoğlu at Istanbul’s Sabiha Gökçen Airport as she was due to depart for Germany.

She was later released after giving her testimony to the prosecutor.

A lawsuit had been filed for Çerkezoğlu in the southeastern province of Diyarbakır on charges of “insulting the president.”

DİSK head Kani Beko said Çerkezoğlu was detained for a speech she delivered some time ago.

“She was detained at the airport while heading to Germany to visit an ill relative. The reason is a speech that she previously gave,” Beko tweeted.

Meanwhile, Çerkezoğlu said the reason for her detention was a press meeting she held in Diyarbakır.

“An arrest warrant had been issued against me on charges of insulting the president during a speech I delivered in Diyarbakır on Aug. 31, 2015. I was detained accordingly in the early hours of the morning, and then we came to the prosecutor’s office after the police station. A little while ago the information related to the file in Diyarbakır reached here. I testified and the arrest warrant was lifted. The date of the press meeting … was Aug. 31, 2015. That is to say, a press meeting we made in the courtyard of the Diyarbakır Education and Research Hospital as health labor trade bodies and other mass organizations right after the June 7 general elections,” Çerkezoğlu told reporters outside the Kartal courthouse.

hurriyetdailynews.com/turkish-labor-union-head-released-after-being-detained-for-insulting-erdogan.aspx?pageID=238&nID=100592&NewsCatID=509

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Erdoğan will go to NATO Warsaw Summit with critical messages on Black Sea, Syria

June 17, 2016

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan will participate in NATO’s Warsaw Summit scheduled to take place in early July at a critical moment for the alliance, with his major focus being the need to enhance defense and deterrence in the Black Sea region, as well as reiterating Ankara’s uneasiness over the emergence of a self-governing Kurdish entity on Turkey’s southern border.

At the July 8-9 summit, NATO’s 28 member states will take the next steps towards enhancing a forward presence in the eastern part of the alliance and projecting stability beyond NATO’s borders.

During the summit, Erdoğan is expected to underline the need and significance of “global cooperation” against groups such as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), the Democratic Union Party (PYD) and the PYD’s militia forces, the People’s Defense Units (YPG).

Turkey regards both the YPG, which is fighting ISIL jihadists, and the PYD as off-shoots of the PKK, which has been in reignited conflict with Turkish security forces since July 2015.

Erdoğan will also highlight the need to strengthen NATO’s capability in the Black Sea.

Erdoğan drew attention to the issue in a speech delivered at the 10th Balkan Countries Chiefs of Defense Conference held in Istanbul in May. Underlining the increasing importance of the Warsaw Summit, Erdoğan had said, “I would like to reemphasize that we will continue our contributions to your efforts of capacity-building under NATO as well. We should transform the Black Sea into a basin of stability again on the basis of cooperation among riparian countries around the Black Sea.”

Erdoğan then recalled NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg’s visit to Ankara in the second half of April.

“During his [Stoltenberg’s] visit I told him: ‘You are not visible in the Black Sea. And your invisibility in the Black Sea turns it into a Russian lake, so to speak.’ As riparian countries we should live up to our responsibilities. As NATO members, we should take all required steps in all spheres, including the sea, air and ground. Otherwise, history shall not forgive us. And we should also deepen our existing cooperation in accordance with an approach of regional inclusiveness. I would like to express that we will keep sharing our proposals on this issue with riparian countries of the Black Sea in the coming days,” the president told the Balkan countries’ chiefs of defense.

Meanwhile, speaking at a press conference in Brussels on June 15 after this week’s NATO defense ministers’ conference, U.S. Defense Secretary Ashton Carter touched upon the U.S.-led coalition campaign to deliver a lasting defeat to ISIL.

Carter said he and the rest of the NATO defense ministers agreed that ISIL’s parent tumor in Iraq and Syria and its metastasis were among the leading sources of instability emanating from NATO’s southern flank.

The effort had received contributions from nearly every NATO member, but every nation and the NATO alliance itself needed to do more, Carter added.

“At this ministerial [conference], we discussed specific ways that NATO could contribute more directly to the counter-ISIL campaign, including by providing NATO [Airborne Warning and Control System] aircraft and by conducting training and defense capacity-building for the Iraqi security forces in Iraq rather than in Jordan,” he said.

In northern Syria, Carter said, the coalition was enabling Syrian-Arab coalition forces working to envelop Manbij, an operation critical for helping seal the Turkish border and cut off the flow of foreign fighters in and out of Syria.

“Another challenge emanating from NATO’s southern flank is the migrant and refugee crisis, which NATO is helping address in the Aegean Sea,” the secretary said. “Soon, the United States will be contributing to that NATO activity by sending the USNS Grapple to support it.”

hurriyetdailynews.com/erdogan-will-go-to-nato-warsaw-summit-with-critical-messages-on-black-sea-syria.aspx?pageID=238&nID=100583&NewsCatID=510

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Status Quo’s Rick Parfitt suffers heart attack in Turkey’s south

June/16/2016

Status Quo star Rick Parfitt has suffered a heart attack in his room at a hotel in the southern province of Antalya, where he gave a concert on June 14 as a part of the band’s “Electric” tour. The British rocker, 67, suffered the heart attack after he had returned to his room following the concert.

Parfitt was taken to Aspendos Anadolu Hospital after initial treatment in the hotel room when his heart stopped. He was then taken to a private hospital in the province for advanced treatment. 

“He regained consciousness, but his life is still at risk. We are closely following his condition,” Dr. Levent Bülent Tuncer told Anadolu Agency, while adding that Parfitt was being kept in intensive care and a blocked vein had been opened.

Tuncer added that Parfitt underwent a by-pass surgery involving multiple veins and had stents placed in his body in the past.

hurriyetdailynews.com/status-quos-rick-parfitt-suffers-heart-attack-in-turkeys-south-.aspx?pageID=238&nID=100575&NewsCatID=383

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Southeast Asia

Muslim youngster stays with Christian family in Indonesia to understand religious tolerance better

16 Jun, 2016

A Muslim girl in Indonesia who lived in a Christian home for several weeks under a student exchange program learned about religious tolerance, and it was likewise a learning experience for the host family.

"The first time I met them, I was so afraid because I was afraid of people of other religions," Apipa, a young Muslim girl, said of the Christian family she stayed with in Jakarta. In the video, she narrates that she had a classmate of a different faith in junior high school who was always angry and insulted her religion.

Two to three days into the program, she asked her mentor if she could be moved "because I'm afraid that they will take me to church." It was not only her, however, who found the adjustment difficult. Ratna Megarasi, a member of the host family, felt heartbroken at first because Apipa would not eat regardless of what they try to offer her.

The barriers were eventually broken, and Apipa and her host family warmed up to each other. She had a room where she could pray and read the Quran, and Raymond Lim, another member of the family, would take her to the mosque.

Looking back, Megarasi admitted to initially thinking that Apipa should learn from them since she's the guest and they're the host; however, "it turned out that we, as hosts, learned from her." Apipa, likewise, said that the experience was not as she anticipated, and "they are very good, and not evil like I thought."

The program that Apipa participated in is called Sabang Merauke, which is a student exchange program that brings kids from different parts of Indonesia to Jakarta to live and learn. It aims to instill "a spirit of tolerance, education, and keindonesian."

In a post on Our Better World, a digital storytelling initiative of the Singapore International Foundation, Sabang Merauke co-founder Ayu Kartika wrote that she and her friends felt that something needs to be done about the anger and misunderstanding between people of different religions or backgrounds. With the program, they bring together a child and a host family -- such pairing a Hindu kid from Bali with a Muslim family, or a Muslim child from Maluku with a Chinese Catholic family -- in order to promote better understanding and tolerance.

"We believe that these real interactions will open the hearts and minds of both students and hosts, and make them see that we are more alike than different," she wrote. "In turn, they will become peace ambassadors in their circles."

This year, the program will have 15 kids from different parts of Indonesia stay with a host family in Jakarta for three weeks.

"Understanding religious differences is important, especially when it comes to tolerance. Tolerance taught me to respect other people. I should appreciate people of different religions other than Islam," Apipa said. "Tolerance should not just be spoken of but should also be felt."

christiantimes.com/article/muslim-youngster-stays-with-christian-family-in-indonesia-to-understand-religious-tolerance-better/57308.htm

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Donna Miles-Mojab: Muslims must acknowledge love and denounce hatred

16 Jun, 2016

I write this as a Muslim even though being a Muslim does not define me. In fact, I have a very secular outlook to life and last time I knelt down to pray was more to impress my grandmother than Allah - I was 7 or 8.

So, why am I speaking as a Muslim? Let me explain. This year, I received an email from the US Government informing me that I was no longer eligible to travel to the US under the Visa Waiver Programme. Despite being born in Scotland and holding British and New Zealand passports, I was regarded as a threat and a potential extremist purely based on my parentage.

The incident reminded me again that, in the current political environment, Muslims have little influence in determining how they are defined. The nationality and religion they are born into matter and will impact their lives whether they like or not.

I have therefore decided that, for the sake of the majority of peaceful Muslims, to embrace my Islamic heritage and to celebrate, build and promote what is good, beautiful and uniting about Islam: think solace, comfort, charity, hospitality, empathy, kindness.

The alternative is to denounce the religion I was born into because of the actions of a minority.

But doing that would only play into the hands of extremists; their goal is to declare themselves as the only true Muslims by dismissing my mother, grandmother and over one billion of other peaceful Muslims as infidels.

It is time for secular Muslims, feminist Muslims, gay Muslims, bisexual Muslims, lesbian Muslims, transsexual Muslims, Marxist Muslims and all the other shades of Muslims to come out, in greater numbers, and proudly say that they are Muslims too. It is also time for Muslims to accept that extremism, violence, racism, anti-Semitism, homophobia, oppression and patriarchy are rife amongst many Islamic cultures. But Muslims need to talk about these issues in an open and transparent way and acknowledge that the extremists who carry out vile acts of terrorism are Muslims too.

In fact, the reason that the main religions have enjoyed such longevity is because, much like a good book of poetry, they are able to reflect their readers' values and aspirations. In other words, a violent person's religion is always violent whereas a peaceful person's religion is always peaceful. Yes, it is true that the literal translation of Islam, like most other religions, can be used to justify some expressions of violence, but it is a mistake to assume that the journey to extremism starts with the belief in Islam.

There is no doubt that the majority of the global terrorism today is carried out by Islamist groups but 50 or 100 years ago, it was communists, anarchists, fascists and others who resorted to terrorism to achieve their goals. Nobody blamed Christianity or atheism then so why are we blaming Islam now?

In today's modern digital age, it is fortunate that the works of eminent Islamic scholars such as Tariq Ramadan, Reza Aslan and Hasan Minhaj are easily accessible online. These Islamic leaders provide us with a very different interpretation of Islam that is in tune with the values of a liberal and progressive society.

In fact, last year Aslan and Minhaj penned an open letter to the Muslims on same-sex marriage. Having declared their disagreement with homosexuality being haram in Islam, they concluded their letter by saying: "Bottom line is this: standing up for marginalised communities, even when you disagree with them, is not just the right thing to do, it's the Muslim thing to do. Remember that whole God is merciful and compassionate thing? That extends to all people, not just those who are straight. Celebrate. Don't tolerate. Love really does win."

As a Muslim and as a human being, I stand in solidarity with the LGBT community in America and elsewhere, as they mourn the loss of their loved ones through a vile act of hatred. Let us be guided by love, not hate, because love is the only way.

nzherald.co.nz/opinion/news/article.cfm?c_id=466&objectid=11657904

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‘Radical Islam’ Does Matter in Identifying Enemy, Experts Say

June 16, 2016

Using the phrase “radical Islam” to describe the Islamic State or other jihadist groups will not win the war, but is nonetheless relevant in identifying the ideology—not the religion—that America is fighting, experts said.

“I don’t believe the phrase “Islamist extremism” or “Islamist terrorism” is some sort of incantation that’s going to fix everything,” Walter Lohman, director of the Asian Studies Center at The Heritage Foundation, said in an email to The Daily Signal.

“In fact, I don’t even think it’s the most important thing in this whole issue set. What’s most important are the policies that we pursue and the action that we take to defeat it, whatever you want to call it. But it does matter because we—Muslims, as much as other Americans—are engaged in a war of ideas as well as a war on terrorism.”

In a speech Tuesday, President Barack Obama roundly criticized Republicans who have insisted he use the words “radical Islam,” or “Islamist,” to describe the Islamic State.

“What exactly would using this label accomplish? What exactly would it change? Would it make ISIL less committed to try to kill Americans? Would it bring in more allies? Is there a military strategy that is served by this?” Obama said after meeting with his national security team. “The answer is none of the above. Calling a threat by a different name does not make it go away. This is a political distraction.”

Lohman, who last December hosted a forum, “Muslim Voices Against the Islamic State and Islamist Extremism,” said the point is to understand the ideology.

“Islamism is a political ideology and it has to be taken on,” Lohman continued in the email. “If we physically dissuade terrorists from hurting people, we still have to stop Islamists from coercing people into their way of thinking by other means. Actually identifying the ideology is key to that, and unfortunately, that ideology is cast in religious terms. It’s like a Muslim civil society leader in Indonesia told me one time talking about the much more serious threat in her own country, ‘What difference does it make whether they are terrorists or not. They (Islamists) all want the same thing.’”

White House press secretary Josh Earnest later added that, “It is not uncommon on cable TV to see some GOP congressman I’ve never heard of demand to know why the president doesn’t say ‘radical Islam.’”

During his remarks, Obama said, “Not once has an adviser of mine said, ‘Man, if we use that phrase, we are going to turn this whole thing around.’” The president added that the United States doesn’t want to feed the Islamic State’s narrative that the militant group represents true Islam.

“Since before I was president, I have been clear about how extremist groups have perverted Islam to justify terrorism,” Obama said. “As president, I have called on our Muslim friends and allies at home and around the world to work with us to reject this twisted interpretation of one of the world’s great religions.”

But the “radical” in “radical Islam” is an obvious distinction from mainstream Islam, and it’s Obama that doesn’t seem to recognize that, said James Carafano, vice president for the Kathryn and Shelby Cullom Davis Institute at The Heritage Foundation.

“A label may seem superficial. American soldiers in Normandy didn’t care whether they were fighting Germans or Nazis,” Carafano told The Daily Signal. “The real fear is that the president is not prosecuting the war to win. It’s horrible to imply using the word ‘Islam’ is racist. ‘Radical Islam’ refers to an Islamist ideology, and is by definition a distinction from Islam.”

dailysignal.com/2016/06/16/radical-islam-does-matter-in-identifying-enemy-experts-say/

 

URL: http://newageislam.com/islamic-world-news/new-age-islam-news-bureau/muslim-clerics-issue-fatwa-against-killing-minorities,-secular-activists-in-bangladesh/d/107676

 

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