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Muslim Intellectuals Meet RSS Chief Bhagwat, Discuss Plan to Strengthen Communal Harmony in Country

New Age Islam News Bureau

22 September 2022


RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat met five Muslim intellectuals, addressing issues ranging from cow slaughter to the use of derogatory references. (Express file)


• RSS, Muslim Intellectuals to Hold Periodic Talks, Address Issues of Concern to the Two Sides

• No Concept of Forced Marriage or Conversion of Religion in Islam: Pak PM’s Special Representative for Interfaith Harmony

• Hindu Places of Worship, Cultural, Religious Symbols Targeted by Islamic Extremists: VHP in Letter to UK PM

• Leaders of UN and League of Arab States Discuss Palestinian Cause in New York



• RSS Chief Mohan Bhagwat Meets Chief of All India Imam Organisation at Kasturba Gandhi Marg Mosque

• At RSS Chief with Muslim Leaders, Commitment to Toning Down Rhetoric

• Hijab, like Eid cow slaughter, not an Article 25 right: Karnataka in SC

• Gyanvapi Muslim family weaves Sarees for goddess Sharada

• MP: Muslim Family Attacked in Chhindwara as ‘Revenge’ for Interfaith Relationship

• MP: Muslim men accuse jail official of forcing them to shave beard, probe launched

• Hijab ban not changing Islam, Karnataka govt tells Supreme Court

• Over 100 leaders of PFI arrested in pan-India crackdown on 'radical' Islamic outfit

• State Has Not Touched Any 'Religious Aspect' In Hijab Ban Case: Karnataka To Supreme Court

• Muslim Couple from Chennai Donates ₹ 1 Crore to Tirupati Temple



• Khyber jirga rejects peace bodies, opposes military action in Tirah

• Militants free two workers of mobile phone firm in Swat

• Indonesian envoy expresses desire to work in Pakistan’s housing sector

• Stability and security of Saudi Arabia most important for Muslims: Custodians of Eidgah shrine in Pakistan



• Violence between Hindus and Muslims in Leicester spreads to Birmingham

• Hindu and Muslim Communities In UK Make Joint Appeal For Harmony; Police Make 47 Arrests

• From Syria to Ukraine, children bear the brunt of forced displacement crisis


North America

• Top US diplomat voices support for Lebanon at meeting with PM Mikati

• US, Saudi Arabia, France call on Lebanese officials to elect president without delay

• US thanks Türkiye for its support in Russia-Ukraine prisoner exchange

• Yemenis condemn Saudi war, voice support for September 21 Revolution

• Foreign ministers of Iran, Russia, Turkey meet in New York to discuss Syria crisis

• Two Muslim men in Oakland shot dead near mosque, assailants at large


South Asia

• Islamist Radicals from Afghanistan Now Fighting for Tajikistan against Kyrgyzstan

• Explosion kills 3 people in Afghan capital

• Bangladesh to evacuate people from Myanmar border

• Taliban Distributes Aid to Families in Central Afghanistan

• Uzbek leader ‘Dostum’ criticizes Hazar leader ‘Khalili’ for his secret ties with Pakistan

• Taliban supreme leader appoints new Education Minister


Arab World

• Arab Youth Name the UAE as the Top Country to Live In For the 11th Year in a Row

• Egyptian archaeologists discover coins from different reigns of Islamic rulers

• Two Americans among 10 prisoners released to Saudi Arabia from Ukraine

• IMF condemns Lebanon ‘very slow progress’ on reforms

• Turkish security forces ‘neutralize’ 3 PKK/YPG terrorists in northern Syria

• Saudi Arabia urges Iran not to interfere in domestic affairs

• More than 1 million people register for voluntary work ahead of Saudi National Day

• UAE foreign minister meets Ukrainian counterpart in New York



• God against Muslim-Muslim Ticket, It’ll Drive Christians to Slavery – Primate Ayodele

• Ivory Coast’s president calls for release of 46 troops detained in Mali in UN speech

• US airstrike kills 27 al-Shabaab terrorists in Somalia

• Libya on the path toward democratic transformation, Al-Menfi tells UNGA



• Iran’s Raisi accuses West of ‘double standards’ on human rights

• Iran’s Khamenei ignores widespread protests over Mahsa Amini’s death

• Suspected Palestinian murderer found hanged in Israel’s Tel Aviv

• 6 killed in Iran protests over woman’s death in police custody

• Soleimani’s picture: Burned by protesters in Iran, paraded as ‘martyr’ by Raisi at UN

• Iran, US clash at UN on nuclear deal, human rights issues

• Iran restricts access to Instagram as protests intensify: Report

• Iran president says not seeking nuclear weapons, urges US guarantees


Southeast Asia

• Put Patriotism First, China Tells Its Muslims

• Survey: Growing religious observance reshaping consumer landscape in Malaysia, SE Asia

• Foreign student caught with ‘large amount’ of child porn

• Loke rubbishes rumours Parliament to be dissolved on Oct 10

• 2023 will be challenging for all countries, says Tengku Zafrul

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau



Muslim Intellectuals Meet RSS Chief Bhagwat, Discuss Plan To Strengthen Communal Harmony In Country


RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat met five Muslim intellectuals, addressing issues ranging from cow slaughter to the use of derogatory references. (Express file)


Sep 22, 2022

NEW DELHI: A group of Muslim intellectuals, including former chief election commissioner S Y Quraishi and former Delhi Lt Governor Najeeb Jung, recently met RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat and chalked out a plan to strengthen communal harmony in the country, sources said on Tuesday.

In the meeting, which has come at a time when the Gyanvapi mosque issue is being heard in courts, it was decided to build a platform for strengthening communal harmony in the country.

Former Aligarh Muslim University Vice Chancellor Lt General (retd) Zamiruddin Shah, former MP Shahid Siddiqui, and philanthropist Saeed Shervani were also present in the closed-door meeting recently held at Udasin Ashram, the temporary office of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), sources told PTI.

Wide-ranging discussions were held on strengthening communal harmony and improving intra-community relations during the two-hour-long meeting, sources said.

However, no contentious issues such as the Gyanvapi mosque and controversy over Nupur Sharma's recent comments came up for discussion during the meeting, they said.

Bhagwat and the group of intellectuals agreed that without strengthening communal harmony and reconciliation among communities, the country cannot progress, sources present in the meeting told PTI.

"Both sides appreciated the need for communal harmony and to remove differences and misunderstandings among communities. A plan was chalked out to pursue this initiative," sources said.

It was suggested during the meeting to follow Gandhian philosophy and late South African President Nelson Mandela's approach for strengthening the bond between communities for the overall well-being of the country, they added.

Of late, the RSS has reached out to Muslims with Bhagwat holding several meetings with leaders from the community.

While last year, he met a group of Muslim intellectuals at a hotel in Mumbai, in September 2019, Bhagwat had met Jamiat Ulema-e-Hind head Maulana Syed Arshad Madani at the RSS office in the national capital and discussed a host of issues, including strengthening unity between Hindus and Muslims and incidents of mob lynching.

These meetings were coordinated by Ram Lal, Sangh's senior functionary and former organisational secretary of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

Source: Times Of India

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RSS, Muslim Intellectuals to Hold Periodic Talks, Address Issues Of Concern To The Two Sides


RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat


By Shyamlal Yadav, Esha Roy

September 22, 2022

A RECENT meeting between RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat and five Muslim intellectuals addressed issues ranging from cow slaughter to the use of derogatory references, with the two sides resolving to meet periodically to continue dialogue on issues affecting both communities.

Scheduled for half-an-hour but stretching for 75 minutes, the meeting held at the RSS’s makeshift Delhi office, Udaseen Ashram, a month ago included Bhagwat and Sah Sarkaryavah Krishna Gopal of the Sangh and former chief election commissioner S Y Quraishi; ex-Delhi Lt Governor Najeeb Jung; former AMU vice-chancellor and Lt Gen (retd) Zameer Uddin Shah; RLD leader Shahid Siddiqui; and businessman Saeed Shervani.

Quraishi and Siddiqui told The Indian Express that the talks were held in a very cordial atmosphere. “After the meeting, Bhagwat appointed four senior functionaries to keep in touch with the Muslim community on a regular basis. On our side, we are reaching out to Muslim intellectuals, journalists, writers and professionals to keep this dialogue with the RSS going,’’ Siddiqui said.

Quraishi, who initiated the dialogue, said: “He (Bhagwat) told us that people were unhappy about cow slaughter and words like kafir (used for non-Muslims). In response, we said that we are also concerned with that, and if someone is involved in cow slaughter, he must be punished under the law. We told him that kafir is used for non-believers in Arabic and this is not an issue which can’t be resolved… We told him that we also feel sad when any Indian Muslim is termed a Pakistani or jehadi.”

Quraishi said they also questioned the frequent vilification of Muslims, particularly the propaganda about their population and practice of polygamy, reinforcing negative stereotypes about the community.

Siddiqui, the RLD national vice-president, said they had first sought a meeting with the RSS when the Nupur Sharma incident took place (the BJP spokesperson spoke out against the Prophet, leading to her suspension from the party, and violence at several places). “We felt a toxic atmosphere had been created due to the incident, within the Muslim community as well. However, by the time we received a date for meeting Mohan Bhagwat, it was already a month since the Nupur Sharma incident, and it had died down quite a bit. So we discussed matters of communal disharmony between the two communities,” he told The Indian Express.

While RSS prachar pramukh Sunil Ambekar declined to comment on the meeting, a source in the Sangh said Bhagwat gives such appointments to whoever asks for them.

The Muslim representatives told Bhagwat that they wanted to keep in touch over such issues, and the RSS chief advised them to be in contact with Krishna Gopal, Indresh Kumar and Ramlal. While Indresh Kumar is the ‘marg darshak’ of the RSS’s Muslim Rashtriya Manch, founded in December 2002, ‘sampark pramukh’ Ramlal oversees the Sangh’s outreach programmes such as this.

Quraishi said they came away impressed. “We realised that he (Bhagwat) is a patient listener and lives very simply. We were much impressed with the fact that despite being so powerful, he lives in a very simple room with very simple furniture, etc.”

The former CEC said the talks were very cordial. “We discussed that 99 per cent of Indian Muslims have not come from the outside but got converted here. Bhagwat said while Hindus worship statues, Indian Muslims also pray at kabra (grave)… For the progress of the country, communal harmony is a must, we all agreed.”

Quraishi said that while they had not decided the next step, “we will be in touch”, and that they would also talk about what was discussed at the meeting with others.

Siddiqui said that in the vitiated atmosphere, “when even small issues spiral out of control”, it was essential to put across the voice of “the middle class and educated Muslim”. “We felt that we must relay our voice, build bridges with everyone, but in particular the RSS since they have a tremendous impact on public opinion, especially in North India.”

The RLD leader said that while both the leaders of the Jamiat-Ulama-i-Hind, Arshad Madani and Mahmood Madani, have met with Bhagwat in the past, “really no Muslim organisation is regularly in touch with the RSS to raise concerns of the community”.

The five who met Bhagwat on behalf of the Muslim community had come together a year ago to launch an Alliance for Education and Economic Development of Underprivileged – an organisation that has been working in education, particularly on bringing madrasas into mainstream modern education.

Siddiqui said that when they met Bhagwat, the survey of madrasas ordered by Uttar Pradesh was not an issue. “So we did not raise it. However, since it is a field we work in, we did raise concerns about the perception regarding madrasas, and they told us that they did not have any issues with madrasas,” he said.

While various outfits of the Sangh keep raising issues seen as directed against Muslims, Bhagwat has made similar overtures towards the community before.

In September 2018, during a three-day lecture series at Delhi, Bhagwat said there could be no “Hindu Rashtra” without Muslims in India and that Hindutva encompasses fraternity and unity in diversity, and was “the basic thought of all communities residing in India”.

During the event, Bhagwat had also distanced himself from M S Golwalkar’s ‘Bunch of Thoughts’, which referred to Muslims “shatru (enemy)”. “As far as Bunch of Thoughts goes, every statement carries a context of time and circumstance… his enduring thoughts are in a popular edition in which we have removed all remarks that have a temporary context and retained those that will endure for ages. You won’t find the (Muslim-is-an-enemy) remark there,” he said.

However, the RSS annual report of 2022, released on March 15, talked of religious fanaticism growing in the guise of “Constitution and religious freedom”. It also talked of “elaborate plans” by “a particular community to enter the government machinery”, which was seen as a reference to minorities.

Months later, in his first remarks on the row over the Gyanvapi mosque, now part of a court hearing, Bhagwat questioned the need to “look for a Shivling in every mosque (har masjid mein Shivling kyun dekhna)” and said the RSS was not in favour of launching any other movement (andolan) on these issues.

Source: Indian Express

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No Concept of Forced Marriage or Conversion of Religion in Islam: Pak PM’s Special Representative for Interfaith Harmony


Representative Photo


September 21, 2022

KARACHI: Prime Minister’s Special Representative for Interfaith Harmony and Middle East, Hafiz Muhammad Tahir Mehmood Ashrafi Wednesday said that there was no concept of forced marriage or conversion of religion in Islam.

He was addressing “National Dialogue with Religious Scholars” organised by UN Women in collaboration with UNFPA and UK Aid here for deliberating on negative effects of child marriage and devising a way forward to address the issue through effective awareness raising and advocacy.

Council of Islamic Ideology’s Chairman Doctor Qibla Ayaz and other members of the council, representative of UN Women, UNFPA, UK Aid, and international and national organisations and health experts among others attended the dialogue.

Hafiz Tahir Ashrafi terming child marriages as an important social issue said that well-being of girls should be given priority as only a healthy mother could give birth to a healthy child.

He said that associating child and forced marriages with Islam was totally erroneous and baseless notion as it was the religion of peace and it had granted a respectable status to the women.

Hafiz Ashrafi referring to Ahadis Mubarka said that being mature physically and mentally was specified as prerequisite for entering into matrimonial bond.

Last Prophet Hazrat Muhammad (PBUH) had sought consent of Bibi Fatima before her marriage with Hazrat Ali and set an everlasting guiding example for the entire Muslim Ummah, he added.

A girl who was being married had to manage three homes- of her husband, of in laws and of parents- and the gigantic task was not possible without maturity and intellect, he opined and said that it was prime responsibility of parents to take best care of health of girls, well educate them for future life and ensure every possible facility to them.

Hafiz Ashrafi also lauded the CII for adopting a clear and comprehensive approach towards the issue.

All the stakeholders including health experts should sit together to assess and analyze problems and issues arising from child marriages and reach at a conclusion acceptable to all, he suggested and urged that everyone should come forward to do away with health problems being endured by women due to marriages in minor age.

He also stressed on all concerned organisations as well as media to play proactive role for the cause and initiate a vast scale mass awareness campaign while engaging the religious scholars to sensitise the public about harsh effects of child marriages.

Special representative to PM also stressed on comprehensive measures to deal with challenges and diseases arising after torrential rains and floods across the country and appealed the government and international organisations to take every possible step to save the flood victims particularly children and women from the diseases.

Chairman, Council of Islamic Ideology (CII), Dr. Qibla Ayaz, speaking at the occasion said that child marriages were leading to medical, psychological and social problems particularly for women and it had become a widely debated issue around the world.

The CII had conducted a comprehensive research on the issue of child marriages and collected detailed data and reference material and hold in depth deliberations on it, he informed, adding that prominent Muslim scholar Allama Muhammad Shafi Usmani in his Fatwa (religious decree) maintained “Child Marriage is fraught with problems.”

He said that CII had recommended imparting awareness to the masses, engagement of all the relevant institutions, inclusion of informational material in syllabus and dealing with root causes of child marriages so that the issue could be addressed in a gradual manner.

He said the CII was committed to work with UN Women to overcome the issue.

The Country representative of UN Women in Pakistan Sharmeela Rasool and country representative of UNFPA Dr. Bakhtior Kadirov also spoke at the occasion.

Source: Pakistan Today

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Hindu Places of Worship, Cultural, Religious Symbols Targeted by Islamic Extremists: VHP in Letter to UK PM


Working president Vishva Hindu Parishad (VHP) Alok Kumar wrote to U.K. PM Liz Truss comparing the recent attacks on Hindus with London Metro bombings (2017) and the London Bridge attack in 2019. File | Photo Credit: AP


SEPTEMBER 21, 2022

The Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) on Wednesday urged British Prime Minister Liz Truss to ensure the protection of Hindus in her country and strict action against those targeting them against the backdrop of violent clashes in the eastern England city of Leicester.

VHP working president Alok Kumar wrote in a letter to Truss that the Hindus have continuously been subjected to violence and intimidation in Leicester since September 4 and accused the local police and administration of being lax and irresolute in quelling such violence.

“The Vishwa Hindu Parishad (World Hindu Council) is deeply concerned and alarmed at the ongoing violence in Leicester in which a large number of Hindus of Leicester, their places of worship, their cultural and religious symbols have been wantonly targeted and damaged by Islamic extremists and hoodlums," he wrote. “These violent, hateful, and extremist acts are entirely unidirectional, and unilateral."

However, a strong but false narrative is being constructed that it is the Hindus of that area, who triggered this wanton violence, and are responsible for the same, he added.

“We request that strong and immediate efforts be made to protect Hindu lives, dignity and properties. We also urge that strong punitive action be taken against all who are involved in such violent and heinous hate crimes,” he said. “Sans such strong actions, peace and social fabric of the country will get damaged. The law and order and the due protection of law to all Hindus, particularly in Leicester and Birmingham must be provided.”

He also urged for strong punitive action against those involved in such “violent and heinous hate-crimes”.

The VHP said it has requested the UK High Commissioner in India for an appointment to convey its concerns over the violence against Hindus in Leicester.

“We have not received any response till yet. Therefore, this letter is sent by e-mail, the letter said.

Representatives of the Hindu and Muslim communities in Leicester on Tuesday presented a united front while appealing for harmony in the wake of violent clashes following an India-Pakistan cricket match that have led to 47 arrests.

India on Monday condemned violence against the Indian community and vandalisation of Hindu premises in Leicester and sought immediate action against those guilty.

In a statement, the High Commission of India in London said it had “strongly” taken up the issue and called for protection for those affected from the UK authorities following reports of clashes over the weekend in the city, described as “serious disorder” by the local police.

Source: News18

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Leaders of UN and League of Arab States Discuss Palestinian Cause in New York


UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, left, and Arab League Secretary-General Ahmed Aboul Gheit. (Twitter: @arableague_gs)


Gobran Mohamed

September 21, 2022

CAIRO: The Palestinian cause was among the topics discussed when Ahmed Aboul Gheit, secretary-general of the League of Arab States, and Antonio Guterres, secretary-general of the UN, met on Wednesday on the side-lines of the 77th session of the UN General Assembly.

Their representatives said the two officials talked about a number of matters related to international crises, along with the latest developments in the Middle East.

A spokesperson for Aboul Gheit said the Arab League chief expressed to Guterres his appreciation of the important role the UN leader has played during the conflict between Russia and Ukraine. Guterres reportedly spoke about the current situation in the Middle East and the role of the UN in Somalia, Yemen and Syria.

Aboul Gheit also highlighted the great frustration Palestinians feel as a result of the number of political obstructions to their cause. Both men agreed that the Palestinian issue remains a priority in efforts to achieve stability and prosperity in the region.

They expressed their commitment to working together as part of a coordinated approach to seek political solutions to the crises facing some countries in the region.

In a message posted on Twitter, Aboul Gheit wrote: “We agreed on the danger of ignoring the serious efforts to settle the Palestinian issue and the importance of continuing our joint work for this purpose.

“The international situation is very difficult and thorny, yet Guterres is working tirelessly on various political, environmental, developmental, and other fronts.”

Aboul Gheit also met Ian Borg, Malta’s minister of foreign and European affairs and trade on Wednesday, and congratulated him on his country earning a non-permanent seat on the UN Security Council for 2023-2024. He said the Arab League is counting on Malta’s support for Arab issues on the council’s agenda during that time, especially those related to the Palestinian cause.

Last week, Aboul Gheit called on Spain to support Palestine’s bid for full membership of the UN, amid preparations for a new diplomatic drive for recognition. Palestine is currently afforded observer status by the UN. Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian president, is due to speak at the General Assembly on Sept. 23 and highlight the campaign for full membership.

A spokesperson said Abou Gheit leader had met Spanish Foreign Minister Jose Manuel Albares in Madrid to discuss issues of common interest and ways to enhance bilateral relations.

Source: Arab News

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RSS Chief Mohan Bhagwat Meets Chief of All India Imam Organisation at Kasturba Gandhi Marg Mosque


Reaching out to the Muslim community, RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat along with senior Sangh functionaries on Thursday met Imam Umer Ahmed Ilyasi, the chief of All India Imam Organisation.

The closed-door meeting at Kasturba Gandhi Marg mosque lasted for more than an hour.

Bhagwat was accompanied by senior Sangh functionaries Krishna Gopal, Ram Lal and Indresh Kumar.

The Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) chief has been holding discussions with Muslim intellectuals for strengthening communal harmony.
Source: Telegraph India

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At RSS Chief with Muslim Leaders, Commitment To Toning Down Rhetoric

September 22, 2022

Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh chief Mohan Bhagwat has said he is concerned about the current "atmosphere of disharmony," former Chief Election Commissioner SY Quraishi told NDTV today. Mr Quraishi was one of the five Muslim intellectuals who attended the 75-minute meet with Mr Bhagwat yesterday. The dialogue, he said was "positive" and "constructive" and covered aspects of mutual concern.

The group had sought the meeting in August, weeks after Mr Bhagwat's statement questioning the need to "look for a Shivling under every mosque". In the backdrop of the Gyanvapi case and its effect on other religious places, Mr Bhagwat had also said the RSS - the BJP's ideological mentor -- does not favour any other movement ("Andolan") on these issues.

The group had flagged their concern about the situation in the country, Mr Quraishi told NDTV in an exclusive interview today. "Mr Bhagwat said even he was worried," Mr Quraishi said. "I'm not happy with the atmosphere of disharmony. It is completely wrong. the country can move ahead only with cooperation and cohesion," he quoted the RSS chief as saying.

Mr Bhagwat, he said, shared a couple of points that were of particular concern to him. One was cow slaughter, which upsets the Hindus, he said.

"So we said it is banned practically across the country. The Muslims are law abiding and if anyone violates it, it is a huge mistake and there should be punishment," Mr Quraishi said.

The other was the use of the word "kafir", which "gave the Hindus a bad feeling".

"We said the originally in Arabic, the word means non-believers. Some people believe in Islam, they are called "Momin". The non-believers are "kafir". It was a neutral word and now it has become abusive. We don't have a problem stopping it," Mr Quraishi said.

The Muslim group, he said, made the point "that some right-wing people call Muslims jehadi, and Pakistani".

"They are suspicious of Muslims' loyalty and want them to prove their patriotism at every turn. The Muslims are also Indians," Mr Bhagwat, he said, agreed. "We share the same DNA. The majority of Muslims here are converts," he quoted the RSS chief as saying in response.

"He gave us much assurance. His statement on Shivling was also very strong and we welcome it," he added.

The session, initially supposed to be for only 30 minutes, stretched to an hour and quarter, Mr Quraishi said.

Source: ND TV

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Hijab, like Eid cow slaughter, not an Article 25 right: Karnataka in SC

Sep 22, 2022

NEW DELHI: The Karnataka government on Wednesday told the Supreme Court that enforcement of uniforms may prevent students from wearing any kind of religious clothing, including hijab, but it would not amount to stifling one's rights to freedom of religion or expression.

Hijab is not an essential religious practice in Islam and students are free to wear it outside their schools, where strict adherence to prescribed uniforms create an irreligious disciplined atmosphere conducive for education and promotes equality and unity, argued advocate general Prabhuling K Navadgi.

A bench of Justices Hemant Gupta and Sudhanshu Dhulia pointed out that the Muslim side had argued that hijab fell under their religious rights guaranteed under Article 25 and as a choice of dress also formed a part of the right to freedom of expression under Article 19.

Navadgi said as far back as 1958, the Muslim side had argued that cow slaughter on Eid al-Adha (Bakrid) was their religious right protected under Article 25, which was squarely rejected by a five-judge bench of the SC at a time when the total strength of SC judges was 11 including the CJI.

Since 1958, the SC has consistently ruled that all religious practices are not essential in character to get protected under Article 25, as is being sought by the Muslim side for hijab, he said. The Karnataka government provides free uniforms to all students till class 10 and the aim is to create an irreligious atmosphere for learning, the AG added.

Additional solicitor general K M Natraj took forward Karnataka's argument about the secular nature of its directions to educational institutions to enforce uniforms. "In guise of religious rights, can Muslims offer namaz or Hindus perform havan in the Supreme Court? Mixing religious rights and right to freedom of expression would result in serious complications, especially in educational institutions," he said.

Teachers from the educational institution at Udupi from where hijab controversy started last year, told the SC through senior advocates R Venkataramani and V Mohana that schools and colleges are unique spaces for imparting knowledge and that the atmosphere should not be disturbed by students exhibiting their distinct religious identity by wearing separate or additional clothing.

Senior advocate D Sheshadri Naidu, appearing for another teacher, said: "Students should be free from religious dogmas and have a free mind when they come to learn in educational institutions. Let them have religion in their hearts and not wear it up their sleeves," Naidu said.
Source: Times Of India

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Gyanvapi Muslim family weaves sarees for goddess Sharada


While Gyanvapi in Uttar Pradesh is in the news for the Hindu-Muslim rift over right to pray, a Muslim family there is presently engaged in weaving a green silk sari with golden embroidery for the idol of goddess Sharada here.

The idol will be installed on the Acharya mutt premises of Sri Venkataramana temple in Car Street here.

The goddess will be draped in the sari, costing about Rs 8 lakh, on the day of 'Shobha Yatra' to be held here on October 6, Sharada Mahotsav Samithi media coordinator Manju Neereshwalya said.

He said the sari is sponsored every year by Sudheer Pai of the Kulyadikars textiles. The embroidery is handmade by the fifth-generation weavers of a Muslim family in Gyanvapi.

Though the goddess is usually adorned with a Benares silk sari with silver zari (thread made of silver) which costs around Rs 2 lakh, this year the sponsor decided to weave golden zari embroidery work for the sari, as this happens to be the centenary year of Sharada Mahotsava, Neereshwalya said.

Sharada Mahotsava was started in 1922 to bring together people during the independence movement.

Source: Telegraph India

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MP: Muslim Family Attacked in Chhindwara as ‘Revenge’ for Interfaith Relationship

Sep 22, 2022

Bhopal: Nearly a month after a 23-year-old Muslim man eloped with a Hindu woman in Madhya Pradesh’s Chhindwara district, the man and his parents were attacked by a mob on September 15 – allegedly as an act of “revenge”.

According to Wajid Al, a resident of Lalgaon – which is nearly 35 km from the district headquarters – he, his mother Sameena Ali (48) and father Sayed Layak (52) were on their way to meet a relative who was newly wed when a large mob intercepted them near Auriya village, which falls under the limits of the Chouria police station.

Chanting religious slogans, the mob tied Ali to a bike and dragged him from one village to another in full public view. Sameena’s clothes were torn and Layak was thrashed and his beard was pulled, they said in a police complaint.

In videos of the incident which have gone viral on social media, the mob can be seen thrashing Ali and his father with sticks while a group of women are assaulting his mother. At one point, Wajid can be seen lying motionless near a tree while his mother begs the mob to spare their lives.

The Wire has seen the videos but is not posting them.

“We would have been lynched by the mob if the police did not rescue us on time. They assaulted us for three-four hours but no one came to our rescue,” said Sameena over the phone. “The attackers were unknown to us and we had no clue why they were assaulting us then. They were using religious slurs, so it seems that we were attacked because of our faith,” she added.

“They looted all my ornaments and gold and Rs 10,000 in cash. When I tried to dial 100 to get police help, they snatched the three mobile phones which were in our procession,” Sameena said.

The police rushed them to the hospital, where all three were admitted. Hours later, a first information report (FIR) was lodged at the Chourai police station against ‘unknown persons’ under various sections of the Indian Penal Code including uttering obscene words, voluntarily causing hurt and criminal hurt.

Ali said that though the faces of many people can be seen in the videos that are circulating on social media, the police lodged an FIR against “unknown persons”.

Almost 40 hours after the incident, when police still did not act, the victims approached Chhindwara SP Vivek Agrawal. In a two-page complaint, they sought prompt action and protection for the family.

According to Shashi Vishwakarma, town inspector of Chourai police station, Ali eloped with a Hindu woman from the same village about a month ago. Taking action on a missing complaint filed by the woman’s family, they were traced in Hyderabad. The woman was handed over to the family and they refused to file an FIR against Ali.

“Soon after the incident, the woman’s family sent her to her uncle’s home in Auriya. The boy might have gone to the village to meet the woman when locals and family spotted them and it led to a scuffle,” said Vishwakarma to reporters in a video clip.

“Four people have been arrested in connection with the incident and sent to jail,” said the police officer in the video clip.

The arrested persons are Santosh Pal (40), Mahesh Pal (32), Nekram Pal (35) and Sushma Pal (30). They are relatives of the woman with whom Ali eloped. The town inspector said, “We are examining the facts and evidence and if required, we will add more sections to the existing FIR.”

Responding to the police officer’s claim, Ali said, “First of all, we were in Nasik, not Hyderabad. Before we could marry, the police detained us. They kept the woman in 24 hours of police custody, forcing her to give a statement against me. But she did not budge. With the police’s support, she was handed over to the family against her will.”

He said the family did not file an FIR despite alleged pressure from right-wing groups because they feared that she may give a statement against them in the court “and they may lose her”.

Refuting the police’s claim that he went to Auriya to meet with the woman, Ali claimed, “The police are supporting the woman’s family since the matter came to light as the woman and the town inspector belong to the same caste. Besides, they have also changed our statement in the FIR from the actual one which was taken soon after the incident.”

Source: The Wire

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MP: Muslim men accuse jail official of forcing them to shave beard, probe launched

September 21, 2022

Rajgarh: Five Muslim men arrested for an offence have alleged that a Rajgarh district jail officer forced them to shave their beards, following which a senior Madhya Pradesh prison official on Wednesday said a probe was on into the matter.

A Congress MLA alleged that these men were abused in the jail, while All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) chief Asaduddin Owaisi claimed it was an act of “custodial torture”.

The five men – Kalim Khan, Talib Khan, Arif Khan, Salman Khan alias Bhola and Wahid Khan – were sent to the district jail on 13 September after being arrested under Indian Penal Code Section 151 (disturbing public peace).

They were released on 15 September.

On Tuesday, Bhopal Congress MLA Arif Masood along with the five men met MP Home Minister Narottam Mishra.

Masood accused the jail authorities of forcing the five men to shave their beards and demanded action against the jail authorities.

He alleged that these men were also abused in the jail.

Masood later said Mishra assured him of action in the matter.

Rajgarh’s district prison jailor S N Rana, who was accused by these men, said there may be a possibility that their beards were shaved on their own request as such arrangements are in place in the jail.

He said everyone in jail has the freedom to keep beard and hair according to their own faith and belief.

Rana said eight to 10 Muslim prisoners having beard are already lodged in the jail.

Deputy Inspector General (DIG), Jails, M R Patel said nothing can be said as of now as a probe is underway into the matter and information will be shared after completion of the investigation.

Meanwhile, AIMIM chief Owaisi in a video shared on his Twitter handle claimed it was an act of custodial torture.

Source: Firstpost

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Hijab ban not changing Islam, Karnataka govt tells Supreme Court

Aneesha Mathur

New Delhi

September 21, 2022

The Karnataka government on Wednesday informed the Supreme Court that banning hijab is not equivalent to altering Islamic faith, as wearing the headscarf is not an essential religious practice.

“The fact is that not wearing hijab will not change the colour of the religion. It cannot be said that Islamic faith will change without hijab. It is not a binding practice,” Karnataka advocate general P Navadgi argued before the top court.

The Supreme Court was hearing arguments on a batch of petitions challenging the Karnataka High Court verdict refusing to lift the ban on hijab in educational institutions of the state that have prescribed uniforms.

The Karnataka AG put forth that the Education Act and the government order (GO) of February 2022 do not ban hijab, and the law is only to allow college administration to regulate and impose uniform.

“Everytime the school administration tries to bring in discipline, some part of fundamental rights would be affected. Can you test ever discipline and rule over reasonable restrictions for public order and morality?” he argued.

“If someone covers their head, how are they violating public order or unity?” the bench queried.
Source: India Today

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Over 100 leaders of PFI arrested in pan-India crackdown on 'radical' Islamic outfit

Sep 22, 2022

NEW DELHI: In a pan-India crackdown on ‘radical’ Islamic outfit Popular Front of India (PFI), NIA, Enforcement Directorate and concerned state police arrested more than 100 top leaders and functionaries of outfit in coordinated raids across 11 states and Union territories on Thursday morning. The states and UTs that saw the raids are Kerala, Maharashtra, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Assam, Uttar Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Delhi and Puducherry.Incidentally, NIA had written to the home ministry way back in 2017, seeking a ban on PFI in view of findings of its probe into cases involving allegedly violent and extremist activities of its cadres. “PFI has consistently been indulging in actions detrimental to overall national security,” NIA dossier on PFI had stated while blaming the hardline outfit for seeking to impose religious orthodoxy on Muslims and using sister outfits like Sathya Sarani based in Malappuram to carry out “forceful conversions”.

NIA had them claimed that PFI pursues a strategy aimed at communalising Indian polity, enforcing Taliban brand of Islam, heightening existing social divisions and maintaining a trained bank of volunteers for physical actions.

The dossier pointed out that many of PFI’s founding leaders were associated with SIMI before it was banned. This includes former PFI chairman E M Abdurahiman, who was all-India general secretary of SIMI in 1980-81 and 1982-93, PFI national vice-chairman P Koya who was with SIMI in 1978-79 and SDPI president E Aboobacker who was Kerala state president of SIMI in 1982-84, among others.

NIA added that PFI — which has presence in many states and UTs and is strongest in Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Karnataka — has a well oiled-machinery to meet its violent ends. “The outfit has squads of trainers and experts in making crude bombs and IEDs, an intelligence wing...and action squads to run unlawful and violent activities. It has clandestine training centres...where training in martial arts and indoctrination is given,” stated the dossier.

PFI on its part has maintained that it believes in identity politics but does not work on sectarian lines.

“PFI only trains its cadres in fitness and self-defence,” PFI leader P Koya had earlier told TOI.

Source: Times Of India

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State Has Not Touched Any 'Religious Aspect' In Hijab Ban Case: Karnataka To Supreme Court

22 SEP 2022

The Karnataka government told the Supreme Court on Wednesday that the state has not touched any "religious aspect" in the hijab ban row and that the restriction on wearing the Islamic headscarf is limited to the classroom.

The state government said there does not exist a ban on the hijab even beyond the classroom on the campuses. It's counsel emphasised the state has only said educational institutions can prescribe uniform for students, something which is "religion neutral".

Karnataka's Advocate General Prabhuling K Navadgi told a bench of Justices Hemant Gupta and Sudhanshu Dhulia that countries like France have prohibited hijab and the women there have not become any less Islamic.

Mr Navadgi said unless it is shown that wearing the hijab is compulsory and an essential religious practice (ERP), one cannot get protection under Article 25 of the Constitution, which deals with freedom of conscience and free profession, practice and propagation of religion.

"We do not place restrictions on wearing hijab outside school…. There is no restriction even in the school campus. The nature of the restriction is only inside the classroom," the advocate general told the bench.

The top court was hearing arguments on a batch of pleas challenging the Karnataka High Court verdict refusing to lift the ban on hijab in educational institutions of the state.

Additional Solicitor General (ASG) K M Nataraj, who also appeared for the state, said the petitioners' entire case is based on a right, which they claim is an absolute right.

"Let me make it very clear at the beginning. The state has not touched any religious aspect or religious issue….Much hue and cry is made by saying that hijab is banned. Let me clarify, hijab is not banned and the state never intended (to impose one) as such," the ASG said, adding that school is a secular place.

He asserted the state has neither prohibited nor promoted any religious activity.

"You will not permit them if they wear Hijab?" the bench asked the government lawyer.

The ASG responded, saying the state's decision is not based on any religion and it only says educational institutions can prescribe uniform.

"Will you permit a girl wearing a hijab inside the school, yes or no?," the bench persisted with its query.

Nataraj replied the school concerned will have to decide depending upon the uniform they have prescribed.

During the hearing, Mr Navadgi also argued on the aspect of ERP.

"The question would be, even if we presume that it (the hijab) is not an essential religious practice, then what kind of practice it is and to what extent the court can go into it," the bench asked.

The advocate general, who referred to a previous verdict delivered by the top court, argued that every activity related to religion cannot necessarily be called an essential religious practice.

"Today, we have a large number of sisters and mothers belonging to the Islamic faith who do not wear hijab, who as a matter of their choice do not wear hijab.

"We have countries like France… which have prohibited the wearing of hijab. But in both these situations, when a woman does not wear hijab, she does not become any less Islamic," Mr Navadgi said, adding that Islam continues to flourish in countries which have banned hijab.

Justice Gupta noted he knows a former judge of the Lahore High Court who used to visit India with his family, including his two daughters, and they did not wear hijab.

"I can share one thing. I know somebody in Pakistan, a former judge of the Lahore High Court, who used to visit India quite often along with his family. He has two daughters and a son and I have never seen these young girls and the mother wearing hijab, at least in India," Justice Gupta said.

The bench observed that arguments raised on behalf of the petitioners is that whatever is mentioned in the Holy Quran is mandatory and sacrosanct.

"We are not experts in Quran. But this court in at least three instances have said every word in the Quran may be religious but not essentially religious," Mr Navadgi said while referring to some previous verdicts of the top court.

He denied the submissions advanced by the petitioners' counsel that the state has acted against one community.

"We have lots of material to show to your lordships the kind of schemes and programmes the government has for minority children," the advocate general said.

Senior advocate R Venkataramani, who appeared for a teacher, said they want a free and unhindered atmosphere where teachers can communicate with the students without a wall of separation.

"Hijab creates a wall of separation?" the bench asked.

Venkataramani said schools must be essentially free from all these elements where even the slightest distraction will be an impediment in free transmission of knowledge.

Source: Outlook India

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Muslim Couple From Chennai Donates ₹ 1 Crore To Tirupati Temple

September 21, 2022

A Muslim couple from Chennai has donated ₹ 1 crore to Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams (TTD), the trust which manages temples in and around Tirumala and Tirupati in Andhra Pradesh.

Subeena Banu and her husband Abdul Ghani made the offering on Tuesday, according to news agency ANI.

The couple donated furniture and utensils worth ₹ 87 lakh for the newly constructed Padmavathi Rest House in Tirumala. In addition, they also handed out a demand draft for ₹ 15 lakh to the SV Anna Prasadam Trust, the agency added.

In a picture, shared on Twitter, the Chennai-based family is seen standing with temple officials.

The donation was formally received by TTD executive officer AV Dharma Reddy. The family handed a cheque to Mr Reddy who thanked them for the generous gesture, reported The Times Of India.

The Lord Venkateswara temple is situated in the hill town of Tirumala near Tirupati. It is located in the Chittoor district of Andhra Pradesh, which is around 600 km from Hyderabad.

Source: ND TV

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Khyber jirga rejects peace bodies, opposes military action in Tirah

Ibrahim Shinwari

September 22, 2022

KHYBER: The participants of a peace jirga rejected formation of peace bodies or raising any armed Lashkar to tackle the existing law and order situation in Khyber.

Organised under the banner of Bara Siyasi Ittehad on Wednesday, the jirga also opposed any military operation in Tirah where some militant groups had recently resurfaced. The participants of the jirga said that majority of the locals were not willing to vacate their houses.

Local elders, representatives of political parties and activists of civil society organisations attended the jirga. Taking serious notice of the insecurity in the region, they said that they would not allow anybody to disturb the peace of Bara and Tirah in particular and the entire Khyber in general.

They blamed the law enforcement agencies for their failure to check the movement of suspected militants. They also questioned what they called the criminal silence of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government about the presence of armed groups in different parts of the province.

Questions govt’s ‘criminal silence’ on presence of armed groups in province

They resolved that a series of dialogue would be initiated with the authorities to apprise them of their concern over the growing insecurity for finding a peaceful solution to the current situation.

IDPs: The fate of the recently displaced families from some pockets of Tirah valley still hangs in the balance as the situation is far from stable in the troubled areas due to presence of undesirable elements, according to local sources.

However, the law enforcement agencies were yet to initiate any operation in the area as was told to the displaced families, they said.

The exact number of the families recently evicted from Baghrai, Jarrhobi, Dray Nagharee and Dwa Khulay is not known as no official record of the same was kept during their displacement, which started about three weeks ago.

However, local sources told Dawn that about 100 families mostly from Sipah and Kamarkhel while some others from Akkakhel and Zakhakhel tribes had taken temporary abode in Dars Jumaat locality. They said that a small number of displaced families had gone to bordering localities of Orakzai.

Hunar Bagh, a Sipah resident of Dray Nagharee, told Dawn that he along with his family walked for almost five hours to reach Bara and take shelter in a deserted warehouse.

He said that he himself bore all the expenses of his arduous journey up to Bara with no official assistance. “Why were we forced to vacate our houses again when we were allowed to go back only two months ago after an official assurance that the region was safe for living” he questioned.

Sipah tribe was the last of the seven Bara tribes, who were allowed to return to their homes, mostly damaged, after decade-long displacement.

Hunar Bagh said that the returned families had only started rebuilding their destroyed houses in anticipation of a harsh winter when they were again ordered to leave as some armed militants had sneaked into their areas even before the start of their return.

Some Kamarkhel displaced families currently lodged at Dar Jumaat area of Akkakhel refused to go back after they were given a green signal about their return only after three weeks of their second phase of displacement.

The Kamarkhel families told the security officials that they would go back to their homes only if they were given full assurance about their security and also they were accepted as registered internally displaced persons while providing them with a suitable relief package, which the government had announced for the displaced families of other militancy-hit areas of the province.

The authorities concerned had earlier contended that some ‘undesirable’ elements had entered the area in the garb of IDPs and a fresh exercise of their registration would be conducted after their return to their homes.

Many of the Kamarkhel and Sipah families believe that the situation is not yet conducive for their return as they still fear presence of armed people in their areas, though small in number.

They said that they were asked to vacate homes so that a limited scale military operation could be initiated against those elements but no such exercise was conducted so far.

Deputy Commissioner Shah Fahad, when contacted, said that the situation was unnecessarily blown out of context.

“We are keeping a close watch on the situation in the region and as per policy necessary steps are taken to handle the situation,” he said. He added that soon the situation would be brought under control.

He said that hype was created about the situation in the area as it was not as troubling as it was portrayed by some elements.

About the displacement of families, Mr Fahad said that it was not ‘so massive’ but was a ‘localised’ issue, which would be taken care of in due course of time.

Source: Dawn

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Militants free two workers of mobile phone firm in Swat

Fazal Khaliq

September 22, 2022

SWAT: The remaining two abducted employees of a private mobile phone company were released by militants on Tuesday evening.

According to one of the abducted person, who was released with four other employees on the second day, told Dawn that he and six other employees were working at a mobile phone tower near Barthana Mountain when 10 masked men armed with modern weapons blindfolded them and took them to an unidentified place.

The seven abducted persons included Yousaf Shah, Mohammad Khalid, Arsalan, Mohammad Asbar Malik, Abdul Hakeem, Waqat Ali and Qayyum Khan.

“At the unknown location, the armed men started questioning us,” he said, adding that the five persons including Mohammad Asbar Malik, Abdul Hakeem, Waqat Ali and Qayyum Khan were released while Yousaf Shah and Mohammad Khalid were kept there by the kidnappers.

He said that the militants demanded Rs100 million ransom for the release of the two remaining persons. “However, I learnt yesterday that the remaining two persons were also released. I tried to call them by their mobiles but their phones were powered off,” he added.

A contractor, who also wished not to be named, told Dawn that they were installing a mobile phone tower at Jana Mountain near Barthana area. “On Sept 13, I was away to bring necessary items for the tower installation. When I came to the tower, I learnt from locals that all the seven workers were abducted by the militants,” he said.

He said that initially the militants were demanding Rs100 million but all of the abducted people were released without any ransom.

Recently, many people including elders and elected representatives in Swat complained that they received telephone calls and messages from militants, asking them to pay a huge amount for release of the abducted men.

Source: Dawn

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Indonesian envoy expresses desire to work in Pakistan’s housing sector

September 21, 2022

ISLAMABAD: Ambassador of Indonesia to Pakistan Adam Mulawarman Tugio Wednesday expressed his country’s desire to work with the housing sector in Pakistan.

The ambassador in a meeting with Federal Secretary, Ministry of Housing and Works Iftikhar Ali Shallwani discussed matters of mutual interest.

Both the sides talked over similarities between Indonesia and Pakistan within the realm of history, culture, religion, as well as education.

They agreed to further enhance collaboration and contribution to bilateral relations between the two countries.

Secretary Housing extended a cordial invitation to Adam Mulawarman, to attend the upcoming first International Housing Expo-2022 to which he extended his support and pleasure and expresses his country’s participation.

Adam Mulawarman Tugio conveyed his deepest sympathies to the government and the people of Pakistan over the devastation caused by the recent floods

Source: Pakistan Today

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Stability and security of Saudi Arabia most important for Muslims: Custodians of Eidgah shrine in Pakistan

September 22, 2022

RAWALPINDI - Pakistan and Saudi Arabia enjoy historic, religious and spiritual relations of friendship, faith and brotherhood. The stability and security of Saudi Arabia is most important for Muslims and we have great reverence for the sacred places in the Kingdom.

Pir Muhammad Naqib-ur-Rehman and Pir Muhammad Hassan Haseeb-ur-Rehman, custodians of Eidgah shrine stated this in their message on the National Day of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia here on Wednesday.  In their message, they expressed the warmest and heartiest felicitations to His Majesty King Salman bin Abdul Aziz AlSaud and Crown Prince Muhammad Bin Salman, the custodian of the two holy mosques, the royal family and people of Saudi Arabia.

Source: Nation Pakistan

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Violence between Hindus and Muslims in Leicester spreads to Birmingham

Gillian Duncan

Sep 21, 2022

Violence between young people in Leicester appears to have spread to Birmingham, where UK police were sent to disperse a masked mob surrounding a Hindu temple on Tuesday.

Riot squads were summoned to deal with clashes between members of Hindu and Muslim communities in Leicester at the weekend.

Footage shared on social media shows disorder has now erupted 65 kilometres (40 miles) away in Smethwick, near Birmingham.

Masked and hooded men were seen congregating outside the Durga Bhawan Hindu temple, which was reportedly pelted with bottles and firecrackers.

In footage shared on Twitter and seen by The National, officers wearing vests push the crowd back, away from the temple.

British police were diverted from Queen Elizabeth II’s state funeral in London following disorder in Leicester at the weekend.

The trouble was sparked by a protest in the east of the city on Saturday, according to police.

But a Leicester faith leader said violence first began between the communities as a result of a “country-based dispute” after the Asia Cup cricket match between India and Pakistan on August 28.

India defeated Pakistan in the fixture, prompting celebrations in Leicester, where young men reportedly draped themselves in Indian flags.

Violence broke out and one man was arrested. Footage appeared to show Indian supporters chant ‘Pakistan Murdabad’, a Partition-era slogan which means “death to Pakistan”.

A series of incidents followed, said police, and the disorder has since led to 47 arrests.

Half of the first 18 people arrested came from outside the county, it has been reported. Sixteen officers and a police dog were injured in the violence.

Community leaders have claimed outsiders were sowing disorder by spreading false information to inflame religious tension.

Tensions in Leicester have been simmering for months, said independent MP for Leicester East, Claudia Webbe.

She said some constituents had voiced fears to her that violence was driven in part by “underlying Islamophobia in parts of Leicester’s communities, rather than an isolated incident”.

Suleman Nagdi, from the city's Federation of Muslim Organisations, said it was the first time he could remember the Hindu and Muslim communities becoming violent. Mr Nagdi said “loyalties kicked in” after last month's cricket match.

“The start [of the disorder] was the cricket match ― it is a country-based dispute.

Source: The National News

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Hindu and Muslim Communities In UK Make Joint Appeal For Harmony; Police Make 47 Arrests

21 SEP 2022

Leaders of the Hindu and Muslim communities in the eastern England city of Leicester presented a united front on Tuesday as they appealed for harmony in the wake of violent clashes following an India-Pakistan cricket match, which has led to 47 arrests.

Pradyumna Das, President of the city's ISKCON Temple, read out a statement joined by community leaders outside a mosque in the city to express “sadness” over the violence which escalated over the weekend.

The community leaders demanded that the “inciters of hatred” leave Leicester alone and called for an immediate cessation of provocation and violence, both in thought and behaviour.

“Our message to anyone that sows disharmony between us is clear: we will not let you succeed. We ask all to respect the sanctity of religious places, both mosques and mandirs alike — whether provocation with loud music, flag bearing, derogatory chants or physical attacks against the fabric of worship. This is not acceptable nor upheld by our faiths,” the statement said.

“We are a strong family, we will work together to resolve whatever concern may arise — we do not need to call up any assistance from outside our city. Leicester has no place for any foreign extremist ideology that causes division,” he said, highlighting that Hindus and Muslims have lived “harmoniously” in the city for over half a century.

It came as police patrols continued in the city as the Indian High Commission in London issued a strongly worded statement condemning the violence against the Indian community and called for protection for those affected.

Leicestershire Police said a 20-year-old man has been sentenced to 10 months in prison after he pleaded guilty to possession of an offensive weapon during clashes in the city. Amos Noronha, from the local area, appeared at Leicester Magistrates’ Court after his arrest during Saturday’s incident and was quickly charged due to “overwhelming evidence”.

“The sentence is reflective of the fact that this was a serious offence and he has ended up with time in prison,” said Rob Nixon, Temporary Chief Constable at Leicestershire Police.

“We will not stand for this unrest in our city. There is an extensive policing operation ongoing, acting on information and reports of gatherings and offering community reassurance. Be reassured: we are working to keep you safe and to arrest and bring to justice those that are causing harm in our communities,” he said.

It follows a weekend of what the police termed as “serious disorder” and “significant aggression” as Hindu and Muslim groups clashed in the wake of the India-Pakistan Asia Cup cricket match in Dubai at the end of last month.

“A policing operation to deter further disorder continued in east Leicester...In total, 47 people have been arrested for offences in relation to the unrest in the east of the city. Some of those arrested were from out of the city, including some people from Birmingham,” Leicestershire Police said.

The force said it had to be supported by resources from a number of neighbouring police forces, including the mounted police unit, as the clashes escalated over the weekend. Dispersal and stop and search powers have been used repeatedly to restore calm. There were social media videos circulating showing a temple flag being ripped out and glass bottles being hurled.

The Indian High Commission said in its statement on Monday: “We strongly condemn the violence perpetrated against the Indian community in Leicester and vandalisation of premises and symbols of Hindu religion.

“We have strongly taken up this matter with the UK authorities and have sought immediate action against those involved in these attacks. We call on the authorities to provide protection to the affected people.”

Diaspora group Insight UK has claimed that much of the violence was the result of “misinformation” and fake news circulating on social media.

Leicester city mayor Peter Soulsby agreed, saying “very, very, very distorting” events were being shared on social media and blamed outsiders for coming into the city to stoke violence.

“We condemn damages to Hindu temples which are a place of worship and should not be disrespected,” Hindu Council UK said in a statement.

“We call upon the Hindu community to work with the authorities to bring calm and peace as Leicester is renowned for its cultural diversity, unity and community cohesion,” the UK-wide community organisation said, adding that it is working on developing strategies to bring about stronger inter-community relations in the city.

Leicester, in the East Midlands region of England, is known as a city with a large chunk of the population of South Asian descent. The city’s Belgrave Road is famous as the Golden Mile, packed with Indian-origin jewellery, food and other businesses, and also a statue of Mahatma Gandhi.

The city’s former Indian-origin member of Parliament, the first of South Asian heritage, took to social media to appeal for calm.

“To me, Leicester is the greatest city in the world. Nowhere else do so many different people of different languages, cultures and ethnicities live together in harmony,” said Goan-origin Keith Vaz, who was MP for Leicester East from 1987 to 2019.

Source: Outlook India

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From Syria to Ukraine, children bear the brunt of forced displacement crisis

September 22, 2022

NEW YORK CITY: Nearly half of the world’s forcibly displaced people are still children under 18-years-old, according to data published by the UN refugee agency — that is 1.5 million more people than the entire population of Saudi Arabia.

It is an old problem, but it is not going away.

By the end of 2021 the UNHCR data put the number of forcibly displaced people of all ages as a result of persecution, conflict, violence, human-rights violation or events seriously disturbing public order, globally at 89.3 million. This has risen to 100 million since the Russian invasion of Ukraine in March.

“The situation with the forcibly displaced is very, very worrying,” Raouf Mazou, assistant high commissioner for operations at UNHCR, told Arab News on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in New York.

“To this year we came to a total number of about 100 million people forcibly displaced. These include refugees and internally displaced people.”

But even with the figures released in June, the 42 percent of children forced out of their homes stands at approximately 37,506,000.

To give this some perspective, that is 15,756,000 more than the entire population of Cairo, nearly five times the number of people in Riyadh, and nearly 28 million more people than London.

Moreover, the problem is growing. While many children and adults — usually women — were forced from their homes by drought, food insecurity and armed conflict, there are also 1.5 million children who were born as refugees.

Annually, between 2018 and 2021, this equated to an average of between 350,000 and 400,000 children born into a refugee life each year. Whether on their own or with family, all face food insecurity, poverty and threats to their safety.

“If one looks at the past 10 years, we’ve seen every year an increase in these numbers,” Mazou said.

In turn, this exposed them to increased vulnerability and attacks, often violent sexual assaults. The victims range from children to adults, the attackers operate alone and in groups.

Gang rapes have become worryingly common in South Sudan as the flimsy truce moves closer to complete failure.

“That is as a result of conflict, as a result of climate, as a result of a number of reasons. It’s a very (concerning) situation,” Mazou told Arab News.

On Monday Martin Griffiths, the UN under-secretary-general for humanitarian affairs and emergency relief coordinator, told the Security Council that hunger is being used as a “tactic of war,” something humanitarian organizations are trying to combat through lifelines, by working with local groups who are the first, sometimes only, “responders on the ground.”

He warned that the presence of humanitarian aid workers does not spell the end of suffering for those displaced.

South Sudan is “one of the most dangerous places to be an aid worker last year, with 319 violent incidents targeting humanitarian personnel and assets.”

Griffiths said five aid workers were killed in 2021 — five more have died since the beginning of this year.

Up until the Russian invasion of Ukraine, a big majority of refugees — 69 percent of the global number, to be precise — originated from just five countries, notably Syria, South Sudan and Afghanistan.

In Syria more than 6.9 million people have fled their homes internally, and more than 6.5 million remain outside Syria, of whom 5.7 million are refugees in the region, still being hosted by neighbours. Up until Ukraine happened, Syria accounted for the highest number of displaced people.

Currently 14.6 million people in Syria rely on aid — 1.2 million more than a year before. More than 90 percent of Syrians live in poverty.

After 11 years of conflict, those displaced by the Syrian war are beginning to become a forgotten cause.

“There’s always an element of asylum fatigue,” Mazou said. “Because after some time, people expect that the solution would be resolved and therefore, there is less attention. And then you see a reduction in the funding.”

According to him, the events of 2021, such as the war in Ukraine and the violent regime change in Afghanistan, have pushed Syria even further out of the limelight.

“Each of these new situations require additional funding and reduce the availability of funds for other locations,” Mazou said.

He said the ripple effect has been an increase in the amount of need.

“The resources that are being mobilized are not increasing as fast as the number of refugees and the amount of need that we have,” he said.

Among the issues faced by refugees is gender-based violence and risks to children, which are on the rise.

Then there is the food-security crisis, which has set new records with 13.9 million people going hungry every day, and is being aggravated by the conflict in Ukraine.

“We have about 11 million refugees in 42 countries, which are dependent on food assistance,” Mazou said.

“And what we are seeing now is that in a number of countries, we do not have enough resources.”

He said the cost-of-living crisis had exacerbated the problem, meaning the amount of food being made available was decreasing as costs soared.

The situation is so bad, according to Mazou, there are refugees who are receiving little or no food assistance.

The problem is not just food scarcity, though. One of the first things child refugees lose is access to education.

Nearly one-in-two Syrian children are out of school and vulnerable to child labour, early and forced marriages, trafficking, and recruitment by armed actors, according to UNHCR data.

Mazou said just 37 percent of all refugee children have access to secondary education, while those in tertiary education amount to just 6 percent of those who need it.

“The problem is that less access to education means that they are less prepared and ready to be part of the country when they are able to go back. So, definitely one can speak of a lost generation,” he said.

Mazou said the UNHCR is in ongoing discussions with governments to ensure that refugee children are included in existing education systems.

According to the UNHCR Data Finder report, a vast majority of those people forcibly displaced from their homes and countries are hosted by low- and middle-income countries — not richer Western ones.

“Low- and middle-income countries host 83 percent of the world’s refugees and Venezuelans displaced abroad,” the report said, adding: “The least developed countries provide asylum to 27 percent of the total.”

Many Syrian refugees who left the country during the war now find themselves in Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq and Egypt.

It is well documented that Lebanon, a country the size of the British county of Cornwall and with a population of four million, hosts somewhere in the region of 2 million known refugees.

Lebanon is in a financial crisis of its own where banks are denying citizens access to their own savings.

It is clear that the cost-of-living crisis has hit funding for refugees significantly in the past three years, with the pandemic and the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan forcing millions to flee.

In its 2021 donor impact report, the UNHCR said: “2021 was another difficult year.”

It went on to add: “Economic crisis, conflict, climate change, and the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic have demanded that we adapt to new challenges every day.”

“But the trials and tribulations of 2021 especially impacted some of the world’s most vulnerable people: the over 84 million forced to flee their homes to escape war, persecution, and other life-threatening situations.”

In January, 2022, the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) announced it was seeking from the international community $ 1.6 billion this year.

UNRWA was established by the General Assembly in 1949, mandated to provide assistance and protection to 5.7 million Palestine refugees registered with the agency across its five fields of operation.

UNRWA’s mission is to “help Palestine refugees in Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, West Bank, including East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip achieve their full human development potential, pending a just and lasting solution to their plight. UNRWA services encompass education, health care, relief and social services, camp infrastructure and improvement, protection and microfinance.”

In January Philippe Lazzarini, UNRWA commissioner-general, said the international community recognized the “lifesaving role of UNRWA” and its role in contributing toward stability in the Middle East.

“In 2022, that recognition must be supported by the adequate level of funding to meet this critical moment for Palestine refugees,” he said.

“Chronic agency budget shortfalls threaten the livelihoods and well-being of the Palestine refugees that UNRWA serves and pose a serious threat to the Agency’s ability to maintain services.”

Earlier in September Lazzarini concluded an official visit to Cairo during which he met with Ahmed Aboul Gheit, the secretary-general of the Arab League, and Sameh Shoukry, Egypt’s foreign minister.

Commending Egypt and the Arab League for their political support, he called for continued Arab solidarity with Palestine refugees, not least in their financial support of the UNRWA.

"But it requires adequate resources to implement the mandate that this region, and most of the world, gives it,” Lazzarini said. “Political support — without matching financial resources — will not cover the cost of 700 schools, 140 health centres, and food and cash assistance for over two million poor and conflict-affected Palestine refugees.”

It is no different for the UNHCR, said Mazou, who explained that while the pandemic has seen an increase in donations both from the private sector and individuals – likely driven by their own newly found hardship — the needs continue to grow.

“There are a number of situations — in Yemen for instance, where you have 5 million internally displaced people, plus about 100,000 refugees in a situation where there’s been conflict for quite some time,” Mazou told Arab News.

“It’s clear that financial support is required and also support to deal with the root cause of the conflict, which have, as an impact and as a consequence, displacement. So more financial resources are needed for sure.”

Source: Arab News

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North America


Top US diplomat voices support for Lebanon at meeting with PM Mikati

22 September, 2022

US Secretary of State met with Lebanese Prime Minister Najib Mikati at the United Nations Tuesday.

Lebanon has been in the grips of a three-year severe economic crisis that has left three quarters of its population in poverty after the Lebanese pound lost more than 90 percent of its value.

Lebanon’s GDP has sharply dropped from about $55 billion in 2018 to $20.5 billion in 2021. Tens of thousands have lost their jobs since 2019 as the crisis was made worse by coronavirus and a massive blast at Beirut’s port in August 2020, that killed over 200, wounded thousands and caused damage worth billions of dollars.

Lebanon’s caretaker government hopes to adopt key reforms demanded by the International Monetary Fund for a long-delayed but urgently needed bailout before the end of next month.

“We are working very closely in support of Lebanon in a number of ways, particularly working through the incredibly challenging economic issues, and very much supportive of Lebanon moving forward in dealing with these challenges, including with the IMF,” Blinken said at the start of their meeting.

The political class, blamed for the decades of corruption and mismanagement that led to the crisis, has been resisting reforms demanded by the international community.

Talks between Lebanon’s government and the IMF began in May 2020 and reached a staff-level agreement earlier this year in April.

Source: Al Arabiya

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US, Saudi Arabia, France call on Lebanese officials to elect president without delay

22 September, 2022

The US, France, and Saudi Arabia called on Lebanon’s rulers to elect a new president without any delay after Michel Aoun’s term ends next month.

In a joint statement from the three countries, which wield significant influence in Lebanon, they voiced their support for Lebanon’s sovereignty, security and stability.

Analysts and observers believe Lebanon will once again enter a period of presidential vacuum, similar to the case before the election of Aoun in 2016.

“It is critical to elect a President who can unite the Lebanese people and work with regional and international actors to overcome the current crisis,” the joint statement read. “We call for the formation of a government capable of implementing the structural and economic reforms urgently needed to address Lebanon’s political and economic crises, specifically those reforms needed to reach an agreement with the International Monetary Fund.”

On Wednesday, the IMF lambasted Lebanon’s political elite for failing to implement needed reforms in order to unlock international funds to help the country climb out of its unprecedented economic and financial crisis.

Washington, Paris and Riyadh said they were willing to work jointly with Lebanon to support the implementation of these reforms and acknowledged the “critical role” of the Lebanese Armed Forces and the Internal Security Forces.

The two security agencies are the “legitimate defenders of Lebanon’s sovereignty and internal stability” the three countries said, in an apparent jab at Hezbollah. The Iran-backed group as well as Palestinian refugees in camps are the only sides to have weapons outside of the state’s control.

Source: Al Arabiya

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US thanks Türkiye for its support in Russia-Ukraine prisoner exchange

Servet Gunerigok 



The US thanked Türkiye on Wednesday for its role in a prisoner exchange between Ukraine and Russia, hours after the Turkish president announced the swap.

"I would like to thank the Turkish government for helping facilitate the exchange of prisoners between Ukraine and Russia, building on their leadership on the grain deal," President Joe Biden's National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan said on Twitter.

His tweet came after President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced that the two nations had exchanged 200 prisoners as a result of Türkiye's mediation and diplomatic efforts conducted with the leaders of the two countries.

Erdogan told reporters in New York City that the prisoner exchange under Türkiye's mediation was an "important step" towards ending the war between the two countries.

He said efforts to establish peace between Russia and Ukraine continue.

Source: Anadolu Agency

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Yemenis condemn Saudi war, voice support for September 21 Revolution

21 September 2022

On the eighth anniversary of the September 21 Revolution, Yemeni people pour into streets in the northwestern city of Sa’ada and other parts of the country to voice their deep resentment over acts of aggression and war crimes committed by the Saudi-led coalition against the Arab country.

The Sa’ada protesters waved national Yemeni flags, carried banners in condemnation of the Riyadh-led airstrikes, held up pictures of the former leader of the popular Ansarullah movement Hussein Badreddin al-Houthi and its current chief Abdul-Malik  al-Houthi, and shouted slogans against the aggressors on Wednesday afternoon.

The demonstrators made it clear in a communiqué that the September 21 Revolution was an authentic uprising staged by the entire Yemeni society, and not provoked by any foreign country.

The statement pointed out that the revolution put an end to foreign tutelage, and its notable achievements turned it into one of the most honorable and successful revolts of the present world.

It underscored that Yemeni people from all strata of the society are tough-spirited and wholly committed to the path of resistance against the brutal Saudi-led aggression until full independence is restored, and every inch of the Yemeni soil is liberated from the clutches of invaders.

The statement went on to commend the Ansarullah leader for his sagacity and prudence as to leading the Yemeni nation and thwarting the enemies’ conspiracies and seditious plots.

It also hailed the mass participation of all Yemeni tribes in the September 21 Revolution, emphasizing that they made generous contributions in this regard in order to preserve their faith, values,  pride, identity and moral principles.

The statement stressed that the National Salvation Government will spare no effort to improve the Yemeni nation’s livelihood through reforming state institutions and supporting social solidarity and popular fronts.

The participants in Sa’ada march also lauded last week’s massive military parade in the capital Sana’a, and the strong steadfastness and resilience of Yemeni army troops and fighters from allied Popular Committees.

They called on the Riyadh-led coalition of aggression to stop its aggression and lift its crippling siege on Yemen.

The statement stressed that the September 21 Revolution cannot be constrained within Yemen’s borders, as it has serious impacts on regional and international developments, and maintains a firm and principled position vis-à-vis the Palestinian cause.

In 2014, the people of Yemen led a popular uprising against the Saudi-backed unpopular regime of Abdrabbuh Mansur Hadi.

As protests gripped the country, the Ansarallah resistance movement on September 21 took control of the capital Sana’a following a rapid advance south from their northern stronghold of Sa'ada.

The massively popular protests were against the incompetent and corrupt regime in Sana’a backed by Riyadh.

Source: Press TV

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Foreign ministers of Iran, Russia, Turkey meet in New York to discuss Syria crisis

22 September 2022

Iran, Russia and Turkey have held a trilateral meeting on Syria in the Astana Format amid ongoing diplomatic efforts to find a political solution to the crisis in the war-torn Arab country.

The joint meeting was held on the sidelines of the 77th session of the United Nations General Assembly in New York on Wednesday, and attended by Iran’s Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu.

UN Special Envoy for Syria Geir Pedersen was also present at the talks, which took place at the Turkish Embassy, near the UN headquarters.

Speaking at the event, Amir-Abdollahian reiterated that there is no military solution to the Syrian crisis, adding that the conflict must be resolved peacefully and in accordance with the principles of international law.

He also emphasized that the withdrawal of all foreign forces from Syria, the end of the occupation and full respect for the country’s sovereignty and territorial integrity are essential prerequisites for achieving this goal.

The top Iranian diplomat further highlighted the need for removal of sanctions on Syria and increased humanitarian assistance to the Syrian people, given the negative impact of sanctions on ordinary people and the economic situation in the country.

At the end of the summit, the foreign ministers once again reaffirmed their strong commitment to the sovereignty, independence, and territorial integrity of Syria.

Iran and Russia, as the allies of the Syrian government, as well as Turkey, which sides with the opposition, set up the Astana peace process in January 2017 intending to put an end to the Syrian conflict through the involvement of the Syrian government and the opposition.

Back in July, a trilateral meeting was held between Iranian President Ebrahim Raeisi, Russian President Vladimir Putin and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in the Iranian capital Tehran.

The leaders gathered for the seventh summit of the Astana process, where they condemned foreign meddling and emphasized Syrians’ right to determine their country’s fate.

Source: Press TV

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Two Muslim men in Oakland shot dead near mosque, assailants at large

21 September, 2022

Multiple assailants are believed to be behind the fatal shootings of two men and the wounding of a third man that occurred near a mosque in the northern California city of Oakland.

The incident occurred Monday evening after several men had finished their evening prayers and were heading to a nearby restaurant.

So far, the police say there is not yet a clear motive, they don't know if any one person was being targeted, and no suspects have been arrested.

"This incident is very obviously tragic, and shocking for our community to experience this over and over again," Deputy Chief James Patrick said at a news conference, according to local news outlet KTVU. "We're taking nothing off the table, but we're investigating every possible scenario that may have resulted in this violent crime."

The report also suggested that the city's police force was understaffed considering the high homicide rate, with two unrelated murders occurring within hours of the mosque-area shootings.

Police said that when they arrived at the scene they saw the two victims, one in a store and the other inside Layalina, a Middle Eastern restaurant. The men, who were pronounced dead at the scene, were 27 years and 59 years old.

"We are deeply saddened by these horrific murders and urge anyone in the community with information to immediately contact Oakland Police," said Council on American-Islamic Relations-San Francisco Bay Area Executive Director Zahra Billoo in a public statement. "We urge police to be swift and thorough in their investigation."

Source: The New Arab

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South Asia


Islamist Radicals From Afghanistan Now Fighting for Tajikistan Against Kyrgyzstan

By: Paul Goble

September 20, 2022

One of the greatest nightmares for the countries of Central Asia; outside powers, such as Russia, China and the United States, who are worried about regional stability; and even for Kabul itself, which fears regional blowback, is that radicals from Afghanistan will cross into the region and destabilize the situation. And that reality appears to be becoming true. Marat Imankulov, secretary of the Kyrgyzstani Security Council, claims his country’s special services have now identified Afghans who are fighting for Tajikistan in the latest round of border violence between the two countries. Such people are readily identifiable, he says, by their beards and informal dress and by their propensity to engage in extreme forms of violence. They often torture people and even “cut off their ears,” something the security official says “has never happened before” in previous clashes between Kyrgyzstani and Tajikistani forces. While some might be inclined to dismiss this as Kyrgyzstani propaganda, Imankulov says that the Afghan government, at Bishkek’s request, has confirmed that the photograph they provided to Kabul was an Afghan citizen fighting for Tajikistan (Eurasia Today, September 19). Perhaps even more to the point, residents of the Tajikistani exclave Batken say they are certain those attacking them are Afghans and not Tajikistani citizens (, September 16).

Clashes between Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan over their shared border and especially over the status of the noncontiguous enclaves each state has inside the other’s territory have been going on for more than two decades. The most recent flare up was on September 14, when border guards fired on each other and crowds of people from both sides fought pitched but not especially violent battles with each other. In the last week, more than 100 people have been killed, more than 200 wounded and more than 100,000 have been displaced by the violence. What makes the most recent clashes more dangerous than earlier ones, however, is not so much these statistics but more so the appearance of Afghan fighters on the Tajikistani side, combatants who appear to be far more violent than the regular Tajikistani forces and whose presence helps explain why Tajikistan’s attacks on Kyrgyzstani targets have been far broader than in the past. That in turn explains why the current fighting risks becoming a full-scale war between the two countries, one that could easily draw in others and thoroughly destabilize the region. (For a map showing the locations of the most recent clashes, see, September 17; for a discussion of how different the current situation is from the past, see, September 16)

One Russian military analyst, Andrey Uvarov, suggested that fighters from Afghanistan on the Tajikistani side, in his view, have possibly been pushed into the conflict by the West, which is seeking another way to put pressure on Moscow. Tensions are now so high that it is possible to speak about the appearance of “a third force” in the conflict, one whose goals are far broader than those of Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan themselves and one whose actions have kept both Bishkek and Dushanbe from agreeing to have the Kremlin serve as a mediator (, September 17). Some Western observers, however, are more inclined to see this unwillingness to involve Moscow as a reflection of Russia’s declining influence in its neighbors because of its aggression against Ukraine (Al Jazeera, September 17.

The involvement of Afghan fighters in these clashes raises the stakes not only for the two countries directly involved but also for the other Central Asian states, who are certain to be affected, as well as the three great powers most closely involved in the region—Russia, China and the US—not to mention Afghanistan itself. For Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan, the consequences of these developments are obvious and frightening. Not only is the conflict becoming more violent and widespread, but it is also raising the prospect that one or both of these countries may descend into chaos, with Tajikistan being particularly at risk (see EDM, February 15). Meanwhile, the three other Central Asian countries are also at risk. While it is likely that most of the Afghans involved in Tajikistan so far are ethnic Tajiks, Islamist groups in Afghanistan do not feel constrained by ethnicity and are almost certain to view the borders among the Central Asian countries with contempt. That in turn means that many now fighting for Tajikistan may enter Uzbekistan or even Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan to stir up trouble in the near future.

Overall, the danger remains that the intensification of violence brought on by the arrival of Afghan militants may threaten the interests of the three outside powers. In the past, Russia, China and the US have worked together to promote Tajikistan’s security by protecting it from Afghan fighters (see EDM, June 22). More recently, Moscow and Beijing have edged toward a division of responsibilities in the troubled country, given that each has significant security assets there (see EDM, December 7, 2021). Yet, the Afghan combatants’ assertiveness and the Kremlin’s declining influence in the region could trigger conflicts among all three powers, either directly in the case of Russia and China, or through proxies in the US case (see EDM, May 24).

At the same time, the involvement of Afghan fighters in the Kyrgyzstani-Tajikistani clashes, beyond any doubt, will have a negative impact on the Afghan government in Kabul, which has sought to prevent radicals in the north from entering Central Asia lest their presence heighten tensions between Afghanistan and Central Asia—and indeed tensions between Afghanistan and the major powers. The appearance of Afghan fighters highlights Kabul’s inability to control its own territory and population, a failure which ensures that other countries will treat it with ever greater suspicion (see EDM, February 15, August 1).

Source: James Town

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Explosion kills 3 people in Afghan capital

Sep 21, 2022

ISLAMABAD: An explosion in Afghanistan's capital has killed at least three people and wounded 13 others, a Taliban official said on Wednesday.

According to Khalid Zadran, the Taliban-appointed spokesman for the Kabul police chief, the blast occurred in a restaurant in the city's western Dehmazang neighborhood. A team has arrived in the area to find out the cause of the blast, he added.

Police did not say if the blast was an accident or the result of an attack. Afghan cities are sometimes the target of the local Islamic State group affiliate.

Residents and workers in the area said the restaurant was a popular place to eat for low-income workers and poor people because it was cheap.

One of those killed in the explosion was a teenager who worked in a photography shop in the area. His funeral took place on Wednesday, several hours after the incident.

An eyewitness, Hamid, said three of his friends were killed. "There were many casualties and we put them into a civilian vehicle and some other vehicles, and they were taken to Isteqlal hospital."

Mohammad Mukhtar, the father of one of the victims, said his son had been having lunch at the restaurant.

"Five minutes later, we were informed that my son was martyred in the explosion. When I went to the hospital, I saw my son's dead body. Who is responsible for it? Whom I can hold accountable for his loss?"

IS's local affiliate, known as the Islamic State in Khorasan Province, has increased attacks on mosques and minorities across the country since the Taliban seized power last August.

Source: Times Of India

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Bangladesh to evacuate people from Myanmar border

By Stephan Uttom Rozario

September 21, 2022

Bangladesh is to evacuate hundreds of villagers from risky border areas amid ongoing conflict between the military and Arakan Army rebels in Myanmar’s Rakhine state, a security official said.

“The local administration has been advised by the Border Guard Bangladesh [BGB] to temporarily evacuate the Bangladeshi nationals living near that part of the border, considering the security issue," BGB’s Director of Operations Lt. Col. Faizur Rahman told UCA News.

Rahman said the steps have been taken to ensure the safety of people in the context of ongoing clashes between the Myanmar military and rebels just across the border.

The official said the fighting has prompted Bangladesh to increase security and surveillance in recent weeks.

“Due to the situation arising along the Myanmar border, the number of BGB personnel deployed there has been increased as well as intelligence and patrolling activities," said Rahman.

The official didn’t provide the number of people being moved, but local media reported that about 370 families were to be evacuated in Tombru and Ghumdhum border areas.

The reactions in Bangladesh come amid weeks of intense fighting in Rakhine state in western Myanmar, the home of Buddhist Rakhine and minority Muslim Rohingya.

Bangladeshi media reported earlier this month that Myanmar fighter jets violated the country’s air space on several occasions and the military fired mortal shells that fell on Bangladesh’s side.

In response, Bangladesh summoned Myanmar's envoy to protest against the military actions.

On Sept. 16, mortar shells hit and killed a Rohingya refugee and injured at least five in a makeshift refugee camp at Zero Line of the Tumbru border of the Naikhongchhari area of Bandarban district. The dead Rohingya man was identified as 18-year-old Mohammad Iqbal.

The refugee camp shelters 4,500 Rohingya refugees from 621 families who fled a military crackdown in Rakhine in 2017. They are among more than 750,000 Rohingya who crossed the border into Bangladesh following the atrocities dubbed by the UN as a “textbook example of ethnic cleansing.”

Pope Francis met a group of Rohingya refugees during his visit to Bangladesh in 2017 and called on the international community to assist them and find a solution to the crisis.

Catholic charities — Caritas, Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS), and Catholic Relief Service (CRS) — have been supporting refugees in camps in Cox’s Bazar district.

Dil Mohammad, a Rohingya leader from Tombru camp said the refugees have been living in fear due to clashes.

“We are in fear because we believe the Myanmar military is targeting us. We don't know what to do now. We seek help from Bangladesh and also from the United Nations,” Dil Mohammad told UCA News.

UCA News spoke to five local villagers in Tombru and Ghumdhum areas of Bandarban who also said they have been living in fear as fighting has continued in the border zone for weeks.

They said that farmers have stopped cultivating, markets are deserted and some families have already moved from the area to stay with relatives.

Moushumi Akhter, 29, along with her husband and two children, took shelter at her cousin's home in Chittagong, about 150 kilometers from Tumbru, about a week ago.

“We heard gunshots continuously and a mortar shell fell about 200 meters from our house. We moved to Chittagong due to insecurity,” Akhter told UCA News.

Akhter says her family owns some land in Tombru where they cultivate paddy and vegetables. She said several other families have left the border area.

She said that they have left all their belongings at home, which remain unsafe.

Salma Ferdous, the head administrative officer in Naikhongchhari of Bandarban told UCA News the administration has started preparing a list of people to be evacuated, while locals have been advised to maintain a safe distance from the border.

Source: UCA News

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Taliban Distributes Aid to Families in Central Afghanistan

By Saqalain Eqbal

21 Sep 2022

The Taliban distributed food assistance to over 1,600 needy families in Ghor province, in central Afghanistan, the Taliban-controlled Bakhtar state news agency reported.

According to the report, the Taliban government’s State Ministry for Disaster Management distributed aid to 1,609 impoverished families in Ghor province who were affected by the recent natural disasters.

Among the disaster-hit families, needy families, families of the martyrs, and the disabled also received the aid that the Taliban ministry distributed.

According to Hossamuddin Mansoor, the Taliban director of disaster management in Ghor province, 239 families affected by the reported floods in the Taywara and Passaband districts were eligible for relief, and 25% of the aid was given to the families of martyrs and people with disabilities.

The relief, which was provided to needy families by the Taliban State Ministry for Disaster Management, is comprised of staple food rations including flour, cooking oil, and rice, according to Bakhtar’s report, which was released on Tuesday, the 20th of September.

Source: Khaama Press

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Uzbek leader ‘Dostum’ criticizes Hazar leader ‘Khalili’ for his secret ties with Pakistan

21 Sep 2022

Abdul Rashid Dostum, political figure and leader of Uzbek community in Afghanistan accuses Mohammad Karim Khalili, a Hazara leader for having secret ties with Pakistan.

In an online meeting among the anti-Taliban figures, Abdul Rashid Dostum criticized the absence of Mohammad Karim Khalili in the meeting and accused him for having secret ties with Pakistan.

Mohammad Karim Khalili has received money from Pakistan to stay ‘silent’ against the Taliban, Abdul Rashid Dostum said in the meeting which was held on the death anniversary of former Afghan President, Burhanuddin Rabbani.

Mohammad Karim Khalili has shown reactions to Dostum’s statement and has asked the Uzbek leader to apologize for his words.

Khalili has written on his Facebook page that his political party believes that war and violence is not the solution of Afghanistan’s crisis and the country needs to switch from a centralized system to a fully decentralized administration system through negotiations.

This comes as the majority of political figures in Afghanistan are living outside after the intra-Afghan peace negotiations failed and the country fell in the hands of Taliban last August.

The world did not recognize the Taliban’s government which was taken by force and asked the Taliban to form an inclusive administration having all other ethnic and religious groups in the circle, but the Taliban has not showed any positive intention to include others in the government.

Source: Khaama Press

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Taliban supreme leader appoints new Education Minister

SEPTEMBER 21, 2022

The international community has made the reopening of secondary schools for girls a key condition for recognising the Taliban government

The Taliban supreme leader has installed a loyalist cleric as Afghanistan's Education Minister, with the hardline Islamists doubling down on their ban on secondary education for girls.

Hundreds of thousands of girls and young women have been deprived of an education since the Taliban returned to power a year ago.

Habibullah Agha, a member of reclusive supreme leader Hibatullah Akhundzada's inner circle, was named the new Education Minister in a reshuffle announced by the government spokesman on Tuesday.

"We can't make any plans on our own. We don't do that. Rather, I will act according to the instructions given by the supreme leader," Mr. Agha, 68, told AFP on Wednesday.

He refused to share his personal views on girls' education, and said he had not received any orders yet on the matter.

Many conservative Afghan clerics within the Taliban are sceptical of modern education.

"The appointment of Habibullah Agha... indicates the Taliban are elevating loyalists who reject the reopening of girls' schools," said Nishank Motwani, an Afghan specialist and fellow at Harvard University's Kennedy School.

Outgoing Education Minister Noorullah Munir was in charge when the government announced the reopening of girls' schools in March.

Akhundzada blocked the decision in a move that upset the Taliban's political leadership in Kabul.

Mr. Munir was named the head of a body that issues religious edicts in the Tuesday reshuffle.

The international community has made the reopening of secondary schools for girls a key condition for recognising the Taliban government.

Taliban officials say the ban is temporary, but they have also wheeled out a litany of excuses for the closures — from a lack of funds to time needed to remodel the syllabus along Islamic lines.

Mr. Munir told local media this month that it was a cultural issue, claiming many male elders in deeply conservative and patriarchal Afghanistan were against their teenage daughters attending school.

Within weeks of seizing power last year, the Taliban began imposing severe restrictions on women to comply with their austere vision of Islam — effectively squeezing them out of public life.

Apart from closing high schools for girls, the Taliban have barred women from many government jobs and also ordered them to cover up in public, preferably with an all-encompassing burqa.

Source: The Hindu

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Arab World


Arab youth name the UAE as the top country to live in for the 11th year in a row

21 September, 2022

Arab youth have named the United Arab Emirates as the country in the world they would most like to live in for the eleventh straight year.

This was one of the major findings of the 14th Annual ASDA’A BCW Arab Youth Survey released on Wednesday.

The survey, which was commissioned to IDS Research & Consultancy, carried out face-to-face interviews with 3,400 Arab citizens, equally split between men and women, aged 18 to 24 in 50 cities across 17 Arab countries from May 13 to June 16, 2022.

Around two-thirds of the participants, 57 percent, selected the UAE as their top choice while their other choices included the US (24 percent), Canada (20 percent), France (15 percent) and Germany (15 percent).

Most Arab youth also selected the UAE as the country which they would like their own country to emulate for the eleventh year in a row.

With a 37 percent of the participants selecting the UAE, the latter ranked ahead of the US, Canada, Germany, France and Turkey.

According to the survey, over 80 percent of young Arab women and men in the Middle East and North Africa think that promoting stability is more important than promoting democracy.

“Most of the so-called Arab Spring generation, which entered adulthood after the momentous events of the early 2010s, say they have more freedoms today because of the protests,” the survey said, adding that 59 percent of the respondents believe that women have equal rights.

“While this year’s study arguably paints the most enigmatic picture of Arab youth in its 14-year history, some characteristics of the so-called Arab Spring Generation are clear to see. They are united by their faith, their roots, their resourcefulness, and their demand for a fair chance to succeed,” Donna Imperato, Global CEO, BCW, said.

Sunil John, President, MENA, BCW and Founder of ASDA’A BCW, said the research provided further valuable insights about the thoughts of Arab youth across MENA, and the issues decision-makers must address to utilize their potential.

“These evidence-based insights inform governments, businesses, multilateral institutions and academics on policymaking and strategy. At ASDA’A BCW, we believe that to understand the Arab world, we must first understand the hearts and minds of its largest demographic, its youth. Once again, this year’s survey pinpoints critical themes in their outlook,” John added.

According to the survey, 35 percent said the rising living costs is one of the major obstacles facing the region, with 32 percent citing unemployment as another obstacle.

The quality of education seems to be a concern for youth as 83 percent said they were very or somewhat concerned about it.

Source: Al Arabiya

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Egyptian archaeologists discover coins from different reigns of Islamic rulers

Hagar Hosny

September 22, 2022

CAIRO — The Egyptian archaeological mission of the Supreme Council of Antiquities operating in the city of Esna in Upper Egypt has recently discovered a cache containing coins from different historical decades of the Islamic era, in addition to parts of molds to mint and weigh coins.

In a Sept. 11 statement published by the Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities on its Facebook page, Secretary-General of the Supreme Council of Antiquities Mostafa Waziri said that this discovery may indicate the existence of a mint and weighing house in the city of Esna.

He noted that the archaeological mission will work on uncovering this house in the coming period.

The head of the Central Administration of Antiquities in Upper Egypt at the Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities, Mohamed Abdel Badie, said in the same ministry statement, “The archaeological mission began its work on the site last year in the part located directly behind the Temple of Esna, until it found this huge number of coins, which included a gold coin dating back to the era of Al-Aziz Billah Bin Al-Mu’izz Li Din Allah Al-Fatimi [a Fatimid ruler], and 286 silver coins dating from the reign of 19 different kings and sultans of the Mamluk era during different historical periods.”

He continued, “A foreign currency dating back to the days of King Leon II, King of Armenia, who lived during the Mamluk era, was also uncovered, as well as bronze and copper coins from the Ottoman era.”

Fathi Yassin, director general of Antiquities of Upper Egypt, explained in the same statement that among the coins discovered recently was a Fatimid gold dinar that dates back to the era of Al-Aziz Billah, a dirham of Najm al-Din Aibak and another made of silver of the just King Badr al-Din Solamish.

He said that half a dirham of King Mansour Saif al-Din Qalawun, and a number of silver dirhams, including two dirhams of the just King Zain al-Din Katbugha, one dirham of King al-Mansur Saif al-Din Abu Bakr and a dirham of King al-Kamel Saif al-Din Shaaban, were also discovered.

The collection also included a commemorative dirham on the occasion of the coronation of King Typhon II, and a set of bronze and copper coins from the Ottoman era, according to Yassin.

Muhammad Hamza, professor of archaeology and Islamic civilization and former dean of the Faculty of Archaeology at Cairo University, told Al-Monitor, “The villages and cities of Upper Egypt were no less important in the Islamic era than they were in the periods of the ancient Egyptian civilization. On the contrary, they played an important role in trade and pilgrimage, which was performed at the time through the Nile from Upper Egypt to the Arabian Peninsula.”

He said, “The discovery of coins is evidence of prosperity and that this region played an important role for the trade convoys for a long time, especially since the discovered coins dated back to different eras. Upper Egypt had a major role in the Fatimid era, and many Fatimid emirates were formed there.”

Hamza added, “Finding antiquities dating back to the Islamic era is not new to Esna and Upper Egypt in general, but foreign propaganda for Pharaonic antiquities has consolidated the idea that Upper Egypt is a center for antiquities belonging to the ancient Egyptian civilization only. Discovering whether this area includes a coin mint requires more excavations and consultation of old documents that dealt with Esna.”

The city of Esna lies on the west bank of the Nile, 55 kilometers (34 miles) to the south of Luxor, and it was known by different names in the past, like Latopolis and Senat.

Abdel Rahim Rihan, member of the History and Antiquities Committee of the governmental Supreme Council of Culture, believes this archaeological discovery highlights the historical importance of the city of Esna as a commercial city in the Islamic era, especially the Mamluk and Ottoman eras.

He told Al-Monitor that trade flourished in the Mamluk era and commercial centers were established, consisting of hotel rooms for major merchants coming from Egypt or Europe to carry out various trade operations. Such commercial centers include Khan Hassan Al-Jeddawi (1207 A.H./1792), 30 meters (98 feet) north of the Temple of Esna.

Rihan noted that Esna played “a civilized role in the Fatimid era, which was evidenced by the discovery recently of a single gold coin dating back to the Fatimid era of Al-Aziz Billah Bin Al-Mu’izz Li Din Allah Al-Fatimi. Esna is also famous for Al-Omari Mosque. The mosque’s memorial plaque includes 10 lines of prominent Kufic writings stating that the mosque was founded during the era of the Fatimid Imam al-Mustansir Billah (429-487 A.H./1036-1094).”

Source: Al Monitor

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Two Americans among 10 prisoners released to Saudi Arabia from Ukraine

21 September, 2022

A plane carrying 10 prisoners of war arrived from Russia to Riyadh on Wednesday following successful mediation efforts by Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, according to the Saudi Press Agency (SPA) and sources familiar with the matter.

The Saudi Crown Prince had been in direct contact with the Kremlin and Ukraine as part of the mediation efforts for the release of the prisoners, which included five British citizens, one Moroccan, one Swede, one Croat, and two Americans.

The prisoners were captured in what the Russians call separatist regions in Ukraine. The SPA reported that the POWs will now be transferred to their home countries.

The two Americans released were US Army veteran Alexander Drueke, 39, and 27-year-old Marine Corps veteran Andy Huynh, family members told Reuters. They were captured in June while fighting alongside Ukrainian forces near Kharkiv.

“I never dreamed that it was a possibility that the Saudi government would be able to do something like this,” Drueke’s aunt told The Washington Post. “But any port in a storm.”

Secretary of State Antony Blinken welcomed the prisoner exchange between Ukraine and Russia and confirmed the two US citizens were captured while serving in Ukraine’s military. Blinken thanked Ukraine for including all prisoners of war, regardless of nationality, in its negotiations.

“We also thank our Saudi partners for helping to spearhead this humanitarian initiative and facilitating the return of ten foreign nationals, including the two US citizens greeted earlier today by our embassy team in Riyadh. I conveyed my gratitude to Saudi Foreign Minister Faisal bin Farhan in a call this morning,” Blinken said in a statement.

The top US diplomat reiterated previous calls for US citizens to refrain from traveling to Ukraine to fight. “We encourage US citizens to devote their energies towards the many other opportunities that exist to help the country of Ukraine and its people,” he said.

US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan took to Twitter to thank Ukraine’s president and the Saudi Crown Prince for their help in securing the release of the two Americans.

UK Prime Minister Liz Truss welcomed the release of five British nationals. “I thank @ZelenskyyUa for his efforts to secure the release of detainees, and Saudi Arabia for their assistance. Russia must end the ruthless exploitation of prisoners of war and civilian detainees for political ends,” she tweeted.

British MP Robert Jenrick said Aiden Aslin was one of the British nationals released. Aslin was captured earlier this year by Russian forces during the battle for Mariupol and later sentenced to death by a court in the Russian-backed breakaway Donetsk People’s Republic.

There are ongoing efforts to secure a prisoner swap of 50 Ukrainians in exchange for 200 Russians, including what reports indicate could be one of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s close allies, Viktor Medvedchuk. Medvedchuk was captured by Ukrainians in April.

It is unclear whether Wednesday’s prisoner release was part of that specific deal.

In recent weeks, Ukraine launched a counteroffensive and recaptured land taken by Russia in northeast and southern Ukraine, including the towns of Izyum and Kupiansk and around Kharkiv.

Source: Al Arabiya

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IMF condemns Lebanon ‘very slow progress’ on reforms

21 September, 2022

The International Monetary Fund on Wednesday condemned Lebanon's “very slow” progress on implementing reforms needed to unlock a $3-billion-dollar loan crucial to revive its battered economy.

Lebanon and the IMF reached a conditional agreement on the loan in April to help the country stem its worst-ever economic crisis, which the World Bank has branded one of the planet's worst in modern times.

But Lebanon has yet to enact the reforms needed to unlock the funds.

“Despite the urgency for action to address Lebanon's deep economic and social crisis, progress in implementing the reforms... remains very slow,” said Ramirez Rigo, who headed an IMF delegation that visited Beirut this week and met with top officials.

“The majority of prior actions have not been implemented,” he said in a written statement, adding that delays in implementation will “only increase the costs to the country and its population”.

The IMF conditioned the funds on a series of measures, notably parliament approving a 2022 budget and a reformed bank secrecy law as well as restructuring the banking sector and the implementation of formal capital controls.

“Completion of these and other prior actions is also needed for the IMF board to consider the request for a financial program with Lebanon,” Rigo said.

Lebanon's economy minister Amin Salam, who met with the delegation, said the IMF was pushing Lebanon to enact reforms before the country heads for presidential elections in the coming weeks.

“Before we enter the period of presidential elections, we must try to enact those four” measures, he told AFP.

The mandate of President Michel Aoun ends on October 31 but there is no consensus on naming his successor, as Lebanon's economy continues to crash.

In a possible protracted political deadlock, politicians have yet to agree on a new government since the mandate of the outgoing cabinet expired in May.

Ministers are currently operating in a caretaker capacity until a new team is formed.

Source: Al Arabiya

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Turkish security forces ‘neutralize’ 3 PKK/YPG terrorists in northern Syria

Merve Berker  


Turkish security forces “neutralized” three PKK/YPG terrorists in northern Syria, the National Defense Ministry said on Thursday.

The terrorists, who opened harassing fire on Turkish soldiers, were targeted in the Operation Euphrates Shield zone, the ministry said in a statement.

Turkish authorities use the term “neutralize” to imply the terrorists in question surrendered or were killed or captured.

Since 2016, Ankara has launched a trio of successful anti-terror operations across its border in northern Syria to prevent the formation of a terror corridor and enable the peaceful settlement of residents: Euphrates Shield (2016), Olive Branch (2018), and Peace Spring (2019).

Source: Anadolu Agency

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Saudi Arabia urges Iran not to interfere in domestic affairs

Mahmoud Mohamed Barakat 


Speaker of the Saudi Shura Council, Abdullah bin Muhammad Al-Sheikh, has called on regional rival Iran to cooperate and adhere to the principle of non-interference in the affairs of other countries.

This came during a meeting of the heads of the Shura Councils of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) in the Omani capital, Muscat, according to Saudi media. 

"The kingdom calls on Iran, as a neighbor whose people we have religious and cultural ties, to cooperate with the countries of the region by adhering to the principles of international legitimacy," he said. 

He added that Riyadh calls on Tehran “not to interfere in the domestic affairs of other countries, to cooperate with the International Atomic Energy Agency, and to fulfill its obligations in this regard." 

Saudi Arabia and Iran severed their diplomatic relations in 2016 following an attack on the Saudi Embassy in Tehran after Shia cleric Nimr al-Nimr was executed by Saudi authorities. 

Their relationship further nosedived after Iran in September 2016 accused Riyadh of deliberately causing the death of around 400 Iranian pilgrims in a 2015 stampede in the Muslim holy city of Mecca.

Source: Anadolu Agency

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More than 1 million people register for voluntary work ahead of Saudi National Day


September 22, 2022

RIYADH: As the 92nd Saudi National Day approaches, the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Development has revealed that more than 1 million people have registered with its National Volunteer Portal.

The portal aims to promote voluntary work opportunities offered by organizations in various sectors, including chances to help with National Day activities and initiatives. It is described as an incubator that provides a safe environment for volunteers, coordinates their efforts with those of the organizations offering voluntary opportunities, and protects the rights of both parties.

The platform includes offers a number of advantages for volunteers, the ministry said, the foremost of which is full documentation within the Absher government services platform of the hours of work they donate.

Mashael Al-Mubarak, general director of volunteering at the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Development, told Arab News that her team has been focusing recently on opportunities for volunteers to contribute to the celebrations for National Day, which takes place on Friday this week.

“This is what we have worked on during the last period and we have (been) receiving requests from volunteers wishing to register in volunteer opportunities, contribute to various sectors and support activities and initiatives to celebrate the 92nd Saudi National Day,” she said.

“The opportunities that were presented on the occasion of the National Day cover various fields of community service and related sectors, in accordance with the controls that were set by the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Development and the General Administration of Voluntary Work in the ministry.”

She added that the official efforts to promote the value of volunteering are designed to help achieve the goals of Saudi Vision 2030 relating to “encouraging volunteer work, with the aim of strengthening and consolidating the values of giving, generating awareness of the culture of volunteer work and achieving Vision 2030’s goal of reaching one million volunteers in 2030.”

Al-Mubarak said the generous nature of the Saudi people is reflected in the fact that more than 1 million people and 3,629 public and private-sector organizations have registered with the National Volunteer Portal and the number of people who have benefited from the work of volunteers has reached more than 34 million.

Source: Arab News

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UAE foreign minister meets Ukrainian counterpart in New York

September 22, 2022

NEW YORK: The UAE’s Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al-Nahyan met with his Ukrainian counterpart Dmytro Kuleba in New York on Thursday, the Emirates News Agency (WAM) reported.

The two officials had their meeting on the sidelines of the 77th session of the UN General Assembly in New York, according to WAM.

The officials discussed bilateral relations between the UAE and Ukraine and ways to further develop joint cooperation across various sectors, especially food security and trade exchange.

Al-Nahyan and Kuleba also reviewed the latest developments in the Ukrainian crisis, with the UAE official highlighting his country’s readiness to support all efforts to restore stability and peace through a sustainable diplomatic solution, WAM reported.

The meeting was attended by Reem bint Ibrahim Al-Hashemy, Minister of State for International Cooperation; Mariam bint Mohammed Almheiri, Minister of Climate Change and the Environment; and Ambassador Lana Nusseibeh, Assistant Minister for Political Affairs and Permanent Representative of the UAE to the United Nations.

Source: Arab News

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God against muslim-muslim ticket, it’ll drive Christians to slavery – Primate Ayodele

September 21, 2022

By Seun Opejobi

The Leader of INRI Evangelical Spiritual Church, Primate Elijah Ayodele, on Wednesday warned Nigerians against supporting the All Progressives Congress, APC, Muslim-Muslim presidential ticket.

Primate Ayodele warned that people supporting the ticket are only driving Christians into severe slavery because God is not in support of it.

In a statement signed by his spokesman, Oluwatosin Osho, the clergyman said those supporting the ticket are blind spiritually.

Ayodele pointed out that he isn’t against any presidential candidate or interested in trading words with them.

He insisted that God has spoken against the same religious ticket, adding that, as God’s prophet, he needs to warn the people against it to avoid God’s wrath.

Ayodele added: ‘’Only Nigerians that are blind spiritually will support Muslim-Muslim ticket, it will drive Christians to slavery.

“Anyone who supports the same religious ticket is against his creator because God is against it.

“I am not against any candidate or trading words with anyone, but this is what God says, Muslim-Muslim ticket is against the country’s progress and is satanic.‘’

The APC had settled for a Muslim-Muslim presidential candidate in 2023.

APC’s presidential candidate, Bola Tinubu, picked Kashim Shettima as his running mate despite agitations by Nigerians.

Source: Daily Post Nigeria

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Ivory Coast’s president calls for release of 46 troops detained in Mali in UN speech

James Tasamba  


Ivory Coast’s president called Wednesday for the “immediate” release of 46 troops from his country who were arrested in Mali in July while addressing the UN General Assembly in New York City.

The soldiers were “unjustly arrested” as they are part of Ivory Coast’s logistical contingent to support its troops deployed under the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA), said Alassane Ouattara.

“My country encourages the Malian authorities to focus their efforts on the fight against terrorism,” he added.

On July 10, Mali's transitional government arrested 49 Ivorian soldiers upon their arrival in the capital Bamako, accusing them of possessing weapons and ammunition of war “without a mission order” and considering them “mercenaries” to be prosecuted.

The military junta released three female soldiers in the group.

Last weekend, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said the 46 soldiers are not mercenaries.

In July, the government said no Ivorian soldiers in the contingent were in possession of weapons and ammunition of war as alleged by the Malian authorities.

Mali’s junta leader Col. Assimi Goita has indicated that freeing the remaining troops would be tied to the extradition of Malians being sought on international warrants in Ivory Coast, a condition dismissed by Abidjan as “unacceptable blackmail.”

An extraordinary session of leaders of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) is due Thursday in New York to discuss the crisis among other issues on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly.

Ouattara, however, reiterated Ivory Coast’s support for UN peacekeeping operations.

Source: Anadolu Agency

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US airstrike kills 27 al-Shabaab terrorists in Somalia

Mohammed Dhaysane 



A US airstrike in central Somalia killed 27 al-Shabaab terrorists, the American military said on Wednesday.

The airstrike was conducted on Sept. 18 “at the request of the Federal Government of Somalia … against al-Shabaab terrorists who were attacking Somali National Army forces near Buulobarde,” the US African Command said in a statement.

No civilians were injured, it added.

“The defensive strikes allowed the Somali National Army and African Union Transition Mission in Somalia (ATMIS) forces to regain the initiative and continue the operation to disrupt al-Shabaab in the Hiran region of central Somalia,” the statement said.

“This operation is the largest combined Somali and ATMIS offensive operation in five years.”

Violence has increased in the Hiran region this month as authorities have engaged locals in efforts to reclaim villages from al-Shabaab.

Residents reported fierce fighting between Somali forces and terrorists in Booco this week, while senior military officials told Anadolu Agency on Wednesday that there were casualties on both sides.

Booco, a strategic town some 55 kilometers (35 miles) east of Hiran’s capital Beledweyne, has been under al-Shabaab’s control for more than 13 years.

Somalia has been grappling with increasing insecurity for years, with al-Shabaab being one of the main threats in the Horn of Africa country.

Since at least 2007, the terrorist group has waged a deadly campaign against the Somali government and international forces.

The UN has also warned of growing instability in the country, with its periodic reports on Somalia this year detailing attacks by al-Shabaab and pro-Daesh/ISIS groups.

Source: Anadolu Agency

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Libya on the path toward democratic transformation, Al-Menfi tells UNGA

September 22, 2022

LONDON: The head of Libya’s Presidential Council Mohamed Al-Menfi spoke to the UN General Assembly on Wednesday about the need for unity in his country.

Al-Menfi reiterated his commitment to the Libyan Political Agreement, and as “the supreme political authority,” efforts to prepare for a peaceful and democratic transfer of power through presidential and parliamentary elections.

He also said that the ongoing crises in the country had been exacerbated by foreign intervention, while paying tribute to the spirit and patriotism of Libyans.

“The Libyan people have demonstrated to the entire world that they represent a unified nation in spite of the challenges,” he said.

“Individual interests of different countries involved in the Libyan situation as well as proxy wars and diverging views on how to solve the situation in Libya have not given us an opportunity to develop our own national path," he added.

Source: Arab News

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Iran’s Raisi accuses West of ‘double standards’ on human rights

Syed Zafar Mehdi  



In his first-ever appearance at the UN General Assembly on Wednesday, Iran’s President Ebrahim Raisi accused the West of adopting “double standards” on human rights and justice. 

He said Iran bats for the “globalization of justice” while referring to the recent incident of an Iranian woman whose death in police custody has sparked countrywide protests. 

Raisi said double standards exhibited by some Western governments have fueled human rights violations, pointing to the widespread coverage of the incident related to the 22-year-old woman’s death and what he called “deathly silence” of the death of homeless women in the West. 

Raisi’s trip to New York to take part in the 77th session of the UN General Assembly has coincided with angry protests across Iran over the death of Mahsa Amini, 22, who died in police custody on Friday after being detained over an alleged violation of the Islamic dress code. 

Raisi has asked the interior ministry to investigate the death as protests continue to grow louder. 

The incident has drawn condemnation from many world leaders and human rights groups, including the United States, to which Iran’s foreign minister on Tuesday took strong umbrage.

Rights violations

In his UNGA speech, Raisi slammed Western countries for what he termed “violations of human rights and the rights of nations,” including those of the indigenous people of Canada. 

He said the world has stayed silent on the "killing of tens of defenseless women" in a Western country, without naming it, while also criticizing Canada for the treatment of its indigenous population. 

The Iranian president referred to the “change in world order” where international organizations have become “instruments of repression”, saying this order has lost support among people. 

He said his country has faced “coups, foreign interventions, and coercive sanctions” over the decades, while also referring to foreign interventions in countries such as Afghanistan and Iraq. 

Raisi further said that dialogue, not war, is a solution, hastening to add that Iran as an important regional player is ready to help solve regional crises through dialogue. 

He said he had told his counterparts from regional countries on the margins of the UNGA summit in New York that the security of the region must be secured by the regional countries themselves. 

Iran’s president went on to accuse the US of “creating” the Daesh/ISIS terrorist group, saying former US President Donald Trump had “admitted to it”. 

He held aloft a picture of slain military commander Gen. Qassem Soleimani during the speech, saying his country will pursue the “trial of the former US president’s crime through a fair tribunal”. 

Soleimani was assassinated outside the Baghdad airport in January 2020 in a US airstrike. Iranian leaders have often spoken about avenging his death.

Nuclear deal

On Iran’s nuclear program, Raisi said the country is not after developing nuclear weapons, invoking the religious decree issued by Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.  

He said only 2% of nuclear activities in the world take place in Iran, while 35% of inspections of the UN nuclear watchdog are focused on the country.  

Raisi described sanctions as “weapons of mass destruction”, blaming the US for “trampling” the nuclear agreement reached in 2015 and procrastinating on its revival. 

The indirect talks between Tehran and Washington to revive the nuclear deal, from which the US withdrew in May 2018, have been underway in the Austrian capital since April last year. 

While both sides have noted progress in recent rounds of talks, mediated by the European Union, some key sticking points, including a probe into undeclared nuclear sites in Iran, have prevented a breakthrough. 

Raisi, putting up a tough front, said Tehran has “found a path independent of any agreement”, an indication that the revival of the deal is not on top of his government’s agenda. 

Before departing for New York on Monday, the Iranian leader had ruled out the possibility of meeting US officials on the sidelines of the summit to end the nuclear deal deadlock. 

In an interview with CBS News’ 60 Minutes on Sunday, he said Biden was following Trump’s roadmap, stressing that his meeting with Biden will be “futile”. 

In the last two days in New York, Raisi held a series of meetings with the leaders of France, Iraq, Pakistan and Switzerland, and the European Union Commission president. 

Raisi told his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron that an agreement was impossible without Iran’s case at the UN nuclear agency being closed. Macron, however, refused to put pressure on the watchdog, urging Iran and the IAEA to resolve the issue through cooperation.

Source: Anadolu Agency

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Iran’s Khamenei ignores widespread protests over Mahsa Amini’s death

21 September, 2022

Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei refrained on Wednesday from commenting on ongoing protests in his first public appearance since anti-regime demonstrations sparked by the death of a young woman in police custody escalated.

Khamenei addressed a gathering in Tehran that included senior military commanders ahead of the anniversary of the start of the eight-year-long Iran-Iraq war in 1980. The speech was broadcast on state TV.

Khamenei’s speech did not include any remarks about protests in Iran and instead focused on the war with Iraq in the 1980s.

Some observers had expected Khamenei to comment on the ongoing protests in the country. The supreme leader has in the past blamed anti-regime demonstrations on the Islamic Republic’s foreign “enemies.”

Khamenei’s apparent “indifference” to the ongoing protests shows that “he has not woken up yet,” Iranian journalist Reza Haghighatnejad wrote on Twitter. “Sleep, old man, the people are awake.”

Iranian journalist Behnam Gholipour said Khamenei did not address the ongoing unrest to protect President Ebrahim Raisi, who is currently in New York and is due to address the UN General Assembly on Wednesday.

“(Khamenei) did not talk (about the protests) so that Raisi would not be under pressure from the media, and his speech at the UN would not be sidelined,” Gholipour wrote on Twitter.

“After Raisi returns and if protests continue, (Khamenei) will undoubtedly take a stand,” he added.

Protests erupted across Iran after Mahsa Amini, a 22-year-old Iranian Kurdish woman, was pronounced dead on Friday. Amini fell into a coma shortly after she was detained by the morality police for allegedly not complying with the regime’s strict hijab rules in Tehran on September 13.

Activists and protesters say Amini was beaten by police officers while in detention, causing her serious injuries that led to her death. Police deny the allegations.

The protests continued for a fifth consecutive day in dozens of cities on Tuesday, with demonstrators chanting against Khamenei and calling for the downfall of the regime, footage circulating on social media showed.

Source: Al Arabiya

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Suspected Palestinian murderer found hanged in Israel’s Tel Aviv

21 September, 2022

A Palestinian suspected of beating an 84-year old Israeli woman to death was found hanged in the heart of Tel Aviv Wednesday, Israeli police said.

Police had launched a massive manhunt for the suspect identified as Mousa Sarsour, 28, following Tuesday’s murder in the town of Holon just outside the Israeli metropolis.

“The body of a man has been found on Bar Kochba Street in Tel Aviv and a preliminary examination shows it to be the body of the murder suspect,” police said in a statement.

The body was found hanged at the corner of Bar Kochba and Dizengoff Streets, a busy nightlife and shopping district, by a passerby who notified the police, the officer in charge of the area said.

Israeli media quoted police as saying his death was an apparent suicide.

They said Sarsour, from the town of Qalqilya in the occupied West Bank, had entered Israel with a valid permit to work on a building site in Holon.

Authorities have not identified his victim, who was killed with a metal pole.

In a statement late Tuesday, Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid described the incident as “a shocking attack by a despicable and cowardly terrorist who murdered an elderly woman who could not fight back.”

Overnight, the Israeli army said it had arrested 11 suspects in raids across the West Bank, among them “five individuals suspected of assisting in the terror attack.”

Israel has stepped up operations in the northern West Bank in particular after a wave of attacks against Israeli targets killed 20 people, mostly Israelis, since March.

The army has carried out near nightly raids on Palestinian-administered towns and cities, sparking frequent clashes with residents.

Dozens of Palestinians, including civilians and members of armed groups, have been killed.

Source: Al Arabiya

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6 killed in Iran protests over woman’s death in police custody


At least six Iranians were killed in protests triggered by the death of a 22-year-old woman in police custody, according to officials and local media. 

Prosecutor-General of Iran’s western province of Kermanshah, Shahram Karami, said two people were killed and 25 others injured, including a police officer. 

Four other people were killed in demonstrations in several cities in Kurdistan province, Governor Ismail Zarei said in a statement cited by the semi-official Fars news agency.

He added that the protesters had been "suspiciously" killed, without providing details. 

Mahsa Amini was on Friday taken to a police station in Tehran by members of the morality police for alleged violation of the Islamic dress code. 

Inside the police station, the 22-year-old woman fainted in mysterious circumstances and was later pronounced dead at a Tehran hospital, according to a CCTV footage released by the police. 

Her death has triggered a wave of angry protests in Iran in the past few days, with protesters calling for justice and accountability. 

Source: Anadolu Agency

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Soleimani’s picture: Burned by protesters in Iran, paraded as ‘martyr’ by Raisi at UN

22 September, 2022

Iranian protesters set fire to a banner of slain commander Qassem Soleimani on the sixth day of continued anti-regime demonstrations. Meanwhile, at the United Nations General Assembly, President Ebrahim Raisi held up a photo of Soleimani demanding those behind his killing be brought to justice.

Protests continued to sweep the country for a sixth consecutive day on Wednesday. Footage circulating on social media showed people chanting against Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, calling for the downfall of the regime, clashing with security forces, and attacking police vehicles.

Demonstrations reached the city of Kerman, Soleimani’s birthplace, where two protesters set fire to a large banner featuring the late Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps commander, as seen in a video shared on Twitter.

Meanwhile, Raisi vowed, in a speech to the UNGA, to seek “justice” for the 2020 US killing of Soleimani while holding up a picture of the slain commander.

Soleimani headed the Quds Force, the overseas arm of the IRGC, and was seen as Khamenei’s right hand man.

Since Soleimani’s death, Iranian protesters have targeted him, shouting slogans against him and tearing down his banners, to express discontent with the regime.

More deaths

Security forces opened fire on protesters, killing and wounding several people, according to videos shared on Twitter by @1500tasvir, an account with nearly 100,000 followers that posts protest videos received from inside Iran.

Iranian Kurdish rights group Hengaw said on Wednesday security forces shot dead seven people over the past four days in Kurdish-majority regions in western and northwestern Iran, where heavy clashes have been taking place between protesters and security forces.

The protests were sparked by the death of Mahsa Amini in police custody. She was from Iran’s Kurdistan province.

More than 500 Kurdish citizens have been arrested, Hengaw added.

Iranian authorities have confirmed several deaths, holding anti-regime protesters responsible.

Hossein Ojaghi, a member of the Basij, a paramilitary arm of the IRGC, was stabbed to death by “rioters” during protests in the northwestern city of Tabriz, the semi-official Fars news agency reported late on Wednesday.

Ojaghi was present at the protests to “confront rioters,” it said.

State news agency IRNA said police arrested “some riotous leaders” during Wednesday’s demonstrations in Tehran.

The agency also said a “police assistant” died from injuries on Tuesday in the southern city of Shiraz following clashes with protesters.

Khamenei ignores protests

Supreme Leader Khamenei gave a televised speech on Wednesday in which he refrained from commenting on the ongoing protests. That was his first public appearance since the demonstrations sparked by Amini’s death escalated.

Khamenei addressed a gathering in Tehran that included senior military commanders ahead of the anniversary of the start of the eight-year-long Iran-Iraq war in 1980.

The supreme leader has in the past blamed anti-regime demonstrations on the Islamic Republic’s foreign “enemies.”

Instagram, WhatsApp restricted

Authorities restricted on Wednesday access to Instagram and WhatsApp, internet blockage observatory NetBlocks said.

Instagram is the only major unblocked social media platform in Iran and as a result is widely popular with millions of users inside the country. Facebook and Twitter have been banned for years.

“The Instagram social media platform and WhatsApp messaging app were subsequently restricted nationally on Wednesday 21 September, followed by a nation-scale shutdown of mobile networks,” NetBlocks said.

“The network disruptions are likely to severely limit the public’s ability to express political discontent and communicate freely,” it added.

Iran has in recent years restricted internet access during anti-regime protests to stymie demonstrations.

“Iran is now subject to the most severe internet restrictions since the November 2019 massacre,” NetBlocks said, referring to when authorities shut down access to the internet for several days amid widespread anti-regime protests.

During the 2019 protests, security forces killed about 1,500 people, according to a Reuters report. There are now concerns Tehran is gearing up for a similar crackdown amid reports about internet restrictions.

The latest protests erupted across Iran after Amini, a 22-year-old Iranian Kurdish woman, was pronounced dead on Friday. She fell into a coma shortly after she was detained by the morality police for allegedly not complying with the regime’s strict hijab rules in Tehran on September 13.

Source: Al Arabiya

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Iran, US clash at UN on nuclear deal, human rights issues

22 September, 2022

The US and Iran clashed on security and human rights on Wednesday, with Iran's president demanding US guarantees to revive the 2015 Iran nuclear deal and the US president vowing Tehran would never get an atomic bomb.

Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi struck a defiant tone at the United Nations General Assembly by decrying “double standards” on human rights after the death of an Iranian woman in police custody that has sparked protests around Iran.

Raisi also said Tehran wanted former US President Donald Trump to face trial for the 2020 killing of Iran's top Quds Force commander Qassem Soleimani in a US drone attack in Iraq, holding up a picture of the general.

“There is a great and serious will to resolve all issues to revive the (2015 nuclear) deal,” Raisi told the UN General Assembly. “We only wish one thing: observance of commitments.”

Speaking later, US President Joe Biden reiterated his willingness to revive the nuclear pact under which Iran had agreed to restrain its atomic program in return for relief from economic sanctions.

In 2018, Trump withdrew the US from the nuclear deal and unilaterally reimposed sanctions that have hobbled Iran's economy.

A year later, Tehran reacted by gradually violating the deal's nuclear limits and reviving US, Israeli and Gulf Arab fears that Iran may be seeking to obtain an atomic weapon, an ambition Iran denies.

“We have before us the experience of America's withdrawal from the (deal),” Raisi said. “With that experience and this perspective, can we ignore the important issue of guarantees for a durable agreement?”

Raisi did not mention Iran's demand that investigations by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) into traces of uranium found at three undeclared Iranian sites be closed, a major stumbling block to reviving the deal.

US and European officials have said the probes can only be closed if Iran provides satisfactory answers to the UN nuclear watchdog whose chief, Rafael Grossi, said these issues cannot be wished away.

‘Double standards’

Raisi also sought to deflect criticism of last week's death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini, who was arrested by morality police in Tehran for “unsuitable attire”. Amini's death has unleashed anger in the streets since Friday over issues including freedoms in the Islamic Republic and an economy reeling from sanctions.

At least seven people have been killed in protests with some demanding “regime change”.

“The Islamic Republic considers the double standards of some governments in the field of human rights as the most important factor in the institutionalization of human rights violations,” Raisi said in a text of his speech released by his office.

He said this led to “diverse and numerous positions towards an incident under investigation in ... Iran,” an apparent reference to Amini's case, and “the deathly silence” about allegations of human rights violations in the West.

“Human rights belongs to all, but unfortunately it is trampled upon by many governments,” he added, referring to the discovery of unmarked graves of indigenous people in Canada, the suffering of the Palestinians and images of migrant children held in cages in the US.

Biden expressed a willingness to return to the nuclear deal, formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, and made clear US sympathies lay with the protesters in Iran.

“While the US is prepared for a mutual return to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action if Iran steps up to its obligations, the US is clear: We will not allow Iran to acquire a nuclear weapon,” he said, repeating a long-held US position.

Source: Al Arabiya

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Iran restricts access to Instagram as protests intensify: Report

21 September, 2022

Iran has restricted access to Meta Platforms Inc’s Instagram, one of the last remaining social media platforms in the country, amid protests over the death of a woman in police custody, internet shutdown observatory NetBlocks said.

The death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini, who was arrested by morality police in Tehran for “unsuitable attire,” last week has unleashed simmering anger over issues including freedom in the Islamic Republic and an economy reeling from sanctions.

London-based NetBlocks’ data shows a near-total disruption to internet service in parts of Kurdistan province in west Iran since Monday, while the capital city of Tehran and other parts of the country have also faced disruptions since Friday when protests first broke out.

Protests have been particularly intense in Kurdistan where Iran’s Revolutionary Guards has a history of suppressing unrest.

Iran’s minister of communications said earlier on Wednesday he had been misquoted after news outlets cited him as saying the authorities might disrupt internet services for security reasons.

Social media websites such as TikTok, YouTube, Twitter and Facebook are routinely blocked in parts of the Islamic Republic, which has some of the strictest internet controls in the world.

But tech-savvy residents bypass curbs using virtual private networks (VPNs).

Meta and Iran’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Source: Al Arabiya

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Iran president says not seeking nuclear weapons, urges US guarantees

21 September, 2022

Iran's president told the United Nations on Wednesday that his country was not seeking an atomic weapon and demanded US guarantees it would abide by any revived nuclear deal.

“The Islamic Republic of Iran is not seeking to build or obtain nuclear weapons and such weapons have no place in our doctrine,” President Ebrahim Raisi told the UN General Assembly.

Raisi, a hardline cleric, addressed the world body just hours before US President Joe Biden was set to take the stage, amid a surge of tension over an Iran nuclear deal that remains blocked despite months of negotiations, and mounting pressure over the country's human rights record.

“All of this is taking place in an environment where countries themselves that seek to show us unjustly as a threat keep pursuing nuclear weapons and development and testing,” Raisi said, claiming there is a “double standard” when it comes to discussion of Iran's nuclear science capacity as well as women's rights.

He denounced the lack of pressure on Israel, an undeclared nuclear power, saying that Iran has complied with international commitments.

“We all know that it's only for human and peaceful endeavors,” Raisi said of his country's nuclear program.

“But some countries are keen on portraying this as a threat, in order to sweep under the rug what they should rightly face themselves, which should be denuclearization.”

The West has been calling on Tehran to revive the 2015 nuclear accord -- four years after Biden's White House predecessor Donald Trump pulled out of the deal and reimposed major sanctions on Iran.

Raisi voiced doubt about the Biden administration's sincerity.

“They keep repeating the same stories of the past which puts a great deal of doubt on their true commitment to return to the agreement,” he said.

“Can we truly trust -- without guarantees and assurances -- that they will decide to live up to that commitment?”

French President Emmanuel Macron met with Raisi in New York Tuesday, saying afterward that “the ball is in Iran's court.”

Source: Al Arabiya

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Southeast Asia


Put patriotism first, China tells its Muslims

Ananth Krishnan

SEPTEMBER 21, 2022

Most Muslim countries have kept a studied silence on Xinjiang, as has the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation, which has often criticised India over Kashmir

The Chinese Communist Party’s top leader in charge of religious affairs has called on the country’s Islamic associations and Muslim communities to “maintain the correct political direction” and “uphold the banner of patriotism”.

Wang Yang, the fourth-ranking member of the party’s top Politburo Standing Committee, who heads the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, in a meeting with the official China Islamic Association “called for full implementation of the Party’s basic policy on religious affairs and efforts to rally Islamic figures and Muslims closely around the Party and the government,” State media reported.

He also called on the association’s new leadership “to maintain the correct political direction, uphold the banner of patriotism and socialism, further strengthen the Chinese orientation in developing Islam in China, and facilitate the adaptation of Islam in China to socialist society.”

His comments came weeks after an August 31 report released by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights said China had committed “serious human rights violations” against its Uyghur Muslim minority in the western Xinjiang region.

The report said the “extent of arbitrary and discriminatory detention of members of Uyghur and other predominantly Muslim groups”, referring to a network of reeducation centres built by China in the past five years which the government has called “vocational training” institutions, “may constitute… crimes against humanity”.

China slammed the report as “a patchwork of disinformation that serves as a political tool for the U.S. and some Western forces to strategically use Xinjiang to contain China”.

“The fact that this assessment, despite its illegality and zero credibility, did not go so far as to play up false allegations such as ‘genocide’, ‘forced labour’, ‘religious oppression’ and ‘forced sterilisation’ shows that the lies of the century concocted by the U.S. and some Western forces have already collapsed,” Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin said.

Most Muslim countries have kept a studied silence on Xinjiang, as has the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation, which has often criticised India over Kashmir.

Source: The Hindu

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Survey: Growing religious observance reshaping consumer landscape in Malaysia, SE Asia

By Ashman Adam

22 Sep 2022

KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 22 — Growing religious observance — fuelled by government policies implemented to promote sectors such as halal foods and Islamic banking, as well as political parties courting Muslim votes — has reshaped the Muslim consumer landscape in Malaysia and its neighbouring countries in merely a single generation, a report has indicated.

Because of this, the report, penned by Wunderman Thompson Intelligence, in collaboration with VMLY&R Malaysia’s Muslim Intel Lab titled “The New Muslim Consumer: How Rising Observance is Reshaping the Consumer Landscape in South-east Asia and Beyond”, showed that 33 per cent of its respondents say they are more observant of their faith compared to their parents at their age.

The report said that prior to this, Muslim-influenced consumerism would only encompass food — primarily the avoidance of pork and alcohol — but has now expanded to include fashion, banks, travel, education, as well as personal spending, investment and donations, leading to the emergence of modest fashion brands, Shariah-compliant banks, hijabi-only hair salons, as well as halal dim sum restaurants.

It also noted that this urbanisation of Islam has prompted the growth of Islamic stamps of approval, such as halal certification for products or services.

Hew Wai Weng, a research fellow at Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM) who studies the Muslim middle class in Malaysia and Indonesia, dubbed this “liquid Islamism”, a riff on the concept of “liquid modernity” which describes constant change within contemporary society.

“Urbanisation is one of the reasons halal certification has become so important in Malaysia and Indonesia.

“This (certification) is especially important for those who leave the familiarity of close-knit small towns and villages for cities, as they look for a network they can trust,” he was quoted as saying in the report.

Based on this, the report found that Islam has become a significant part of daily life, with 91 per cent of respondents saying that having a strong relationship with Allah is very important, on par with health care and followed closely by family, at 89 per cent.

On the other end of the spectrum, only 34 per cent of the respondents view wealth as important, only 28 per cent say following their passions is important, and only 12 per cent cite fame.

The report also stated that men are significantly more likely than women to prioritise marriage, children and career, while women are significantly more likely to place importance on having new experiences and experiences that are different from their parents, as well as travel.

In terms of gender roles and responsibilities, the report found that a majority of respondents indicated that men provide the most financial support for their households.

However, a significant minority — two out of five — of women say they provide the most financial support for their household.

Of that number, 17 per cent of women consider themselves to be heads of their households as they provide the most financial support within it.

The urbanisation of the Muslim consumer has also led to an agreement that young women should have more access to education.

However, fewer than one-third strongly feel that young women should have more freedoms than they do now, or more of a voice in their mosque community or government.

In terms of travel, the availability of halal restaurants and hotel options are just as important as the cost of travelling for Muslim consumers and have become top drivers of destination choice when considering international travel.

Muslim consumers will also now take note of the friendliness of the destination’s governments and citizens towards Muslims when deciding.

The survey also showed that Muslims are adopting technology to further their halal lifestyle, including using mobile apps, with 42 per cent and 39 per cent of men shopping online at least once a week.

It said that consumers are most likely to turn to online shopping for clothing, household products, beauty products, tech products and groceries, while men are more likely to purchase tech products online, but otherwise women are more likely to make online purchase.

Source: Malay Mail

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Foreign student caught with ‘large amount’ of child porn

September 22, 2022

PETALING JAYA: A 24-year-old foreign university student was caught by the police in Seremban on Monday for possessing “a large amount” of child pornography on his laptop and mobile phone.

Federal police secretary Noorsiah Saaduddin said the suspect used social media to communicate with his victims – all children from overseas – and coerced them to provide him with pornographic materials.

She said the arrest was the result of close cooperation between the police and the US Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI).

The arrest was carried out by a team from the police’s sexual, women and children crime investigation division (D11).

The suspect will be brought to the Seremban magistrates’ court today to be charged under Section 5 of the Sexual Offences Against Children Act 2017, which carries a punishment of not more than 30 years’ jail and whipping for each charge upon conviction.

He will also be charged under Section 10 of the same Act, which carries a punishment of not more than five years’ jail and a fine of not more than RM10,000 or both, for each charge.

Source: Free Malaysia Today

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Loke rubbishes rumours Parliament to be dissolved on Oct 10

September 22, 2022

PETALING JAYA: DAP secretary-general Loke Siew Fook has dismissed talk of Parliament being dissolved days after the tabling of Budget 2023, warning that it would destabilise the country’s administration.

Speaking at an online forum titled “Anthony Jawab Jujur”, Loke said it would be too short a period for Parliament to approve the budget.

“The process of approving the annual budget would usually take between six to seven weeks,” he pointed out, saying it would need to undergo the requisite debates and voting in Parliament.

He was commenting on speculation that Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob would call for a dissolution of Parliament on Oct 10, a mere three days after the tabling of the annual budget.

Loke said if Parliament was to be dissolved just a few days after the tabling of the budget, then the budget would effectively not be approved and thus could not be implemented in time for 2023.

He said that if the next general election (GE15) was called in mid-November, then it would take weeks before a new government and Cabinet could be formed.

“This means the (whole) process will need to restart as the new finance minister would likely table a new budget,” he said.

He added that if the budget was not approved by December, then the government would not be able to pay the salaries of civil servants come the new year.

On Saturday, at the launch of the Barisan Nasional Youth machinery, Ismail had urged Umno president Ahmad Zahid Hamidi to hold discussions quickly about the date for GE15.

Ismail, who is an Umno vice-president, said he needed a bit more time to decide on the date together with Zahid, Bernama reported.

Source: Free Malaysia Today

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2023 will be challenging for all countries, says Tengku Zafrul

Tsubasa Nair

September 21, 2022

KUALA LUMPUR: Finance minister Tengku Zafrul Aziz has dismissed claims that Malaysia is in an economic crisis, but cautions that 2023 will be a challenging year for all countries.

Tengku Zafrul told a press conference here that Budget 2023 will need to include measures to mitigate the coming slowdown in the global economy.

“Next year will be challenging. What is happening in the US, China, and Europe will have an impact on the global economy, including Malaysia,” he said.

He noted that some of the effects of the 2008 financial crisis had been mitigated by an 8% growth in China’s economy, but said all major economies were expected to slow down simultaneously next year.

“(The economies of) Europe, the US and China are all expected to slow down in 2023 compared to 2022, but this is, again, just a forecast. It’s only September.”

In dismissing claims of an economic crisis, Tengku Zafrul pointed out that the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) had seen a positive growth of 5.0% in Q1 and 8.9% in Q2, this year.

He added that based on the recovery rate, the country’s economic growth is expected to surpass its initial forecast.

Tengku Zafrul compared the nation’s current circumstances with the situation during the Asian Financial Crisis in 1997.

“In 1997, the ringgit fell by 53.8%, while interest rates went up to 11% and GDP was also down by negative 7.4%. Interest rates are currently at 2.5% and GDP is 8.9% in Q2.

Source: Free Malaysia Today

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