New Age Islam
Thu Dec 03 2020, 03:28 AM

Islamic World News ( 31 Dec 2017, NewAgeIslam.Com)

Muslim Leaders across the Middle East Work with Israeli Rabbis to Keep the Peace












Photo: Sheikh Raed Bader and Rabbi Michael Melchior: key figures in the religious peace network ALF/UNAOC

 

AIMPLB Objects to Allowing Muslim Women to Travel for Haj without Male Guardian

Pakistan Plans Takeover of Organisations Run By Hafiz Saeed, Says Secret Document

"No More!” Trump Says US Got Only "Lies" From Pak for Billions in Aid

More Than 3,000 Yazidis Still Missing After Collapse of Islamic State's Self-Styled Caliphate

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Mideast

Muslim Leaders across the Middle East Work with Israeli Rabbis to Keep the Peace

Bahrain Jails Two Pro-Democracy Activists, Revokes Their Citizenship

Death Toll from Iran Protests Rises to 12: State TV

6,700 Palestinians Arrested by Israeli Army in 2017

Shahindha Ismail investigated for 'anti-Islamic' tweet

Israeli Army Detains More Palestinians in West Bank Raids

Israel Seized 2,500 Acres of Palestinian Land, Destroyed 500 Buildings in 2017

Israeli army arrests Palestinian parliamentarian Nasser Abdel Gawad

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India

AIMPLB Objects to Allowing Muslim Women to Travel for Haj without Male Guardian

Strike 3, Security Failure, Kashmiri Fidayeens: Warning Signs in Jaish Attack on CRPF Camp

India, Pak Exchange List Of Nuclear Installations Under 30-Year-Old Pact

Congress may push for making instant Talaq bailable crime

On Mulayam Singh prodding, Muslims, Jats agree to take back riot cases

Asaduddin Owaisi questions PM Modi’s claim on Haj journey of Muslim women

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Pakistan

Pakistan Plans Takeover of Organisations Run By Hafiz Saeed, Says Secret Document

Hafiz Saeed Calls for Jihad against the US

Pakistan: 2017 saw big terrorist attacks on Shia mosques, shrines and Christian church

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North America

"No More!” Trump Says US Got Only "Lies" From Pak for Billions in Aid

Muslim-Americans Face Challenges When Confronting Leader's Misconduct

US Airstrikes Claim More Lives in Eastern Syria

American Converts to Islam, Seeks 2nd Wife Terror Plot

FBI raids home of Pittsburgh man suspected of supporting Islamic State

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Arab World

More Than 3,000 Yazidis Still Missing After Collapse Of Islamic State's Self-Styled Caliphate

Syria: Terrorists in Idlib Issue Distress Call to Comrades

Ansarullah: Saudi Arabia, UAE Failed to Divide Yemenis

Over 2,000 Terrorists Deploy in Hama, Idlib to Slow down Syrian Army Advances

FSA Commander Assassinated amid Intensifying Tensions with Rival Terrorists in Dara'a

Imam Khamenei's envoy meets Hezbollah al-Nujaba leader in Iraq

Turkish Air Defence Units Deploy Near SDF Positions in Northern Syria

Syria: SDF Transfers More Terrorists from Deir Ezzur to Hasaka

SDF Suffers Casualties in Clashes with Turkey-Backed Militants in Northern Syria

Madinah Capital of Islamic tourism 2017 activities concluded

Military operation launched to pursuit Islamic State in Diyala province

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South Asia

Taliban Leader In Charge Of Suicide Attacks Killed In Helmand

Taliban’s huge cache of heavy weapons discovered in Wardak province

Tens of Terrorists Expelled from Southwestern Damascus, Israeli Plan for Golan Heights Fails

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Southeast Asia

Najib: Malaysia Committed To Being Leading Global Voice for Islam

Mustapha Emphasises Importance Of Education For Muslims

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Europe

Young Glaswegian Muslims Take to the Streets for New Year Clean Up

Seminar on 'Islamic Revolution' will be organized in Austria

Irish man converts to Islam in Imam Reza Holy Shrine

Seminar on 'Islamic Revolution' will be organized in Austria

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Australia

Eradicating Islam Can’t Be Achieved In a Democracy

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Africa

DRC: Death Toll Rises in Anti-Government Protests

Bitcoin is forbidden in Islam: Mufti's counsellor

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau

URL: http://newageislam.com/islamic-world-news/new-age-islam-news-bureau/muslim-leaders-across-the-middle-east-work-with-israeli-rabbis-to-keep-the-peace/d/113773

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Muslim Leaders across the Middle East Work with Israeli Rabbis to Keep the Peace

1st January 2018

A remarkable alliance of Israeli orthodox rabbis and Muslim religious leaders in the Middle East is mediating behind the scenes following the anger and violence sparked by President Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital last month.

As demonstrations continue throughout the region, Israeli forces clashing with Palestinian protesters and Israeli air strikes following rockets fired from Gaza have left at least a dozen Palestinians dead and hundreds injured.

The US Jerusalem declaration has also emboldened Arab calls to boycott associations with Israelis. But these Muslim and Jewish religious scholars remain dedicated to non-violent strategies for securing rights and security for both Israelis and Palestinians and to “stop people killing”, Sheikh ImadFalogi, a former Hamas leader in Gaza, tells The Art Newspaper.

The covert interfaith efforts, which religious leaders describe as a “religious peace network”, began in the early 1990s and spread across Israel, the West Bank and Gaza, focusing especially on maintaining the peace in Jerusalem and its holy sites. In 2002, the senior Egyptian mufti Mohammed Sayed Tantawi joined several Holy Land religious leaders and the Archbishop of Canterbury to sign the Alexandria Declaration, a set of shared religious principles for non-violence.

Today the coalition includes a growing number of Muslim scholars in almost every Arab country; the network stretches from the North African Arab states to Middle Eastern countries, including Egypt, Jordan, Syria, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Iraq. Some Muslim leaders have met with Israeli orthodox rabbis in Spain, Italy, Norway and Turkey. While they primarily focus on improving Jewish-Muslim relations, they also maintain close connections with church leaders from Jerusalem, Israel and the West Bank. The Pope is kept apprised of their work, they say.

Despite anger with the US declaration that it will move its embassy to Jerusalem and with Israel over Palestinian rights, “big” numbers of Islamic leaders in the Middle East and around the world want to work with these Israeli rabbis “for a real peace and political and community rights”, Falogi says. Religious leaders must play a role, he explains, because they can achieve results better and faster than politicians as they have “more power in the Middle East”.

Falogi also says that the rabbis he sees as his allies have studied the Quran, as he has studied the Christian Bible and Jewish holy texts. “The rabbis in this network understand us—our religion and rights—better than the politicians.”

Equality not separation

AviGisser, an Israeli orthodox rabbi who heads the West Bank settlement of Ofra and is chair of Israel’s national religious education council, has deep respect for his Islamic partners. “I teach in the Jewish religious community that we need to build our life together, Jew and Arab, Jewish and Muslim; there must be equality, not separation,” he says. Gisser also now teaches on Islam and Palestinian rights, and advocates for interfaith connections for “security and to fight terror”.

“It is dangerous to talk to rabbis but I’m convinced it is good for the two sides,” says the Islamic law scholar, Ali Sartawi, who served as a Hamas-affiliated minister of justice in the 2007 Palestinian government. “We can’t build peace with the political side only. I don’t have any problems with Jewish people on the Israeli side. I respect the Jewish religion. But if fundamentalists grow on both sides, I will be afraid.”

“Of course there are extremist Jews and Arabs who don’t like [this alliance],” Gisser says. “But in the general population there is a lot of will for closer relations.” Earlier this year, when Sheikh Abdallah NimerDarwish, the co-founder of the Islamic Movement in Israel who also helped to set up the religious peace network, died, Gisser visited the mourning tent and was invited to speak. “They accepted me,” he says.

Worries intensified

The US Jerusalem announcement was widely seen as pre-empting the stalled Israeli-Palestinian peace process. After Israel captured East Jerusalem from Jordan in 1967, it declared the territory part of its capital. But Palestinians and most of the international community consider East Jerusalem to be occupied and do not recognise Israeli sovereignty there. Palestinian residents in the area, who mostly do not have Israeli citizenship, want East Jerusalem to be recognised as their capital and to have equal rights. To Muslim and Christian Arabs, the US declaration is also a threat to the sacred spaces of East Jerusalem’s walled Old City, which is home to numerous sites holy to Judaism, Christianity and Islam, and Jewish, Armenian, Muslim and Christian Arab quarters.

In the wake of Trump’s announcement, the network’s members have been scrambling to convince authorities and communities to avoid provocation and violence across the region, and especially in Jerusalem and at its most contested holy site, known to Jews as the Temple Mount and to Muslims as the Haram Al Sharif, or noble sanctuary. The location of the second temple, destroyed by the Romans in AD70, remains the holiest site in Judaism. For centuries, the compound has been home to Muslim shrines, including the Al-Aqsa mosque, the holiest Muslim site in Jerusalem and the third holiest site in Islam.

It is critical for people to understand the strong emotions surrounding this site in the Arab world, says Sheikh Raed Bader, an Islamic law arbitrator and the leading legal authority of the Southern Islamic Movement of Israel. “Al-Aqsa is like Mecca” for Muslims everywhere, he says. At the same time, Bader says that many hours of conversations with rabbis have helped him to understand Jewish connections to holy sites, too. “We have tried to find the most positive, deep, creative solutions,” he says.

Nuclear site

The challenges to keeping the peace at the site are daunting. In recent years, religious and nationalist Jews have visited the site in much bigger numbers, while male Muslim worshippers aged under 50, who can be prohibited by Israel from visiting their mosque, say they feel disrespected and disenfranchised.

The Jerusalem rabbi Michael Melchior, a former cabinet member in Israel who co-founded the religious alliance, says the coalition is “always on guard”, as the holy site is “nuclear”. Tensions peaked in July, leaving several dead on both sides. But the violence would have been significantly worse if the network had not intervened, Melchior says. Extremists “who wanted to create a world war, a clash of civilisations, would have had thousands of people killed,” he says. “We were three minutes away from that happening. I had many calls from the chiefs of police. We negotiated the situation before the whole Middle East went up in flames.” The Muslim scholars tell the same story. Together they helped mediate between the Waqf, the Islamic council appointed by Jordan to oversee Muslim sites in the Old City, “with the support of a lot of players in the Muslim world and the Israeli police, approved by the Israeli cabinet”, Melchior says.

Radicalisation of Muslim and Jewish stakeholders at the Temple Mount/Aqsa Mosque complex is “aided and abetted by end-of-days Christian evangelicals who are exacerbating tensions,” says the Israeli lawyer Daniel Seidemann, a Jerusalem expert who advises policymakers.

“The next eruption of violence is only a matter of time,” he says. “These are growing religious movements that have weaponised faith, whose claims are exclusive, existential and absolute—Biblically driven Christian settlers, the messianically driven Jewish Temple Mount movement, the various iterations of extreme Islam, and ‘end-of-day’ Christians. The traditional religious leadership—the Holy See, the orthodox patriarchy, the mainline Protestant churches, chief rabbis and the traditional sharia courts—are being marginalised.”

Potentially destabilising

As a result, Israeli relations with Jordan, the custodian of Muslim sites, have never been worse. But engaging the faith communities could help, Seidemann says. “I don’t think anybody is considering turning over the political processes to faith communities or giving religious leaders a formal place at the negotiating table,” he says. “There is, however, a greater awareness that failing to address the faith dimension of this conflict has grave ramifications, creating flawed political processes, undermining the integrity of the city and potentially destabilising it.”

Until there is a peace agreement and rights and security on the ground for all residents, the network is trying to fill in where political, diplomatic and security efforts fail. “We are not a government or in power. But if we get requests to help, we all try to help each other,” Melchior says. “We do interventions all the time.”

Resolving sectarian disputes in Jerusalem can reverberate widely, Bader believes. “We need Muslims and Jews to explain that peace is not only good for Israelis and Palestinians, but a model that influences Libya, Iraq, Syria and Algeria. We want to meet rabbis who are of the same mind. I don’t meet with rabbis or sheikhs who want to make war," the sheikh says. "Look what happened in Egypt: 300 people in prayer killed in the name of religion. This also happens in Syria, Iraq, Yemen and elsewhere. The people who do this do not represent our texts and do not represent God.”

theartnewspaper.com/news/muslim-leaders-across-the-middle-east-work-with-israeli-rabbis-to-keep-the-peace

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AIMPLB objects to allowing Muslim women to travel for Haj without male guardian

ANI | Updated: Jan 01, 2018 09:48 IST

Pune (Maharashtra) [India], Jan 1 (ANI): The All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) does not concur with Prime Minister Narendra Modi's announcement of allowing the Muslim women to travel for Haj without 'Mehram' or male guardian.

"This is a religious issue, and not something to be brought up in legislation and passed in the parliament," AIMPLB secretary Maulana Abdul Hamid Azhari told ANI, adding, "99 per cent men and Muslims follow their religion in accordance with what their religious authorities say, and not what PM Modi ji or anybody else says."

According to Islam, Azhari said, a woman cannot travel longer than three days or more than 78 miles without a male guardian, be it for Haj or to any other place.

Addressing the nation in the 39th edition of his 'Mann kiBaat' radio programme on Sunday, Prime Minister Modi suggested single women pilgrims be excluded from the lottery system implemented to select Haj pilgrims.

Azhari, however, countered the suggestion saying single women were not obliged to go for Haj.

"If a woman does not have a Mehram (male guardian) and does not have the funds to take a male guardian with her to Haj, then she is exempted from the obligation to go," he said.

Meanwhile, women rights activist SudhaRamalingam supported the cause, but said the prime minister's announcement were not a change in the existing rules.

"This is nothing new at all. Saudi Arabia says women above 45 years can come unaccompanied, but in groups with a letter of permission from her male guardian. This is the condition given by Saudi Arabia," Ramalingam told ANI. (ANI)

aninews.in/news/national/general-news/aimplb-objects-to-allowing-muslim-women-to-travel-for-haj-without-male-guardian201801010828210003/

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Pakistan Plans Takeover Of Organisations Run By Hafiz Saeed, Says Secret Document

World | Reuters | Updated: January 01, 2018

Pakistan denied that the action against Hafiz Saeed under US pressure. Saeed carries a $10 million US reward for information leading to his conviction over the Mumbai attacks.

Pakistan Plans Takeover Of Organisations Run By Hafiz Saeed, Says Secret Document

A Pakistani court has said it saw insufficient evidence to convict Hafiz Saeed for the Mumbai attacks.

Pakistan's government plans to seize control of so-called charities and financial assets linked to 26/11 Mumbai attacks mastermind Hafiz Saeed, according to officials and documents reviewed by Reuters.

The Pakistani government detailed its plans in a secret order to various provincial and federal government departments on December 19, three officials who attended one of several high-level meeting discussing the crackdown said.

Marked "secret", the document from Pakistan's finance ministry directed law enforcement and governments in the country's five provinces to submit an action plan by December 28 for a "takeover" of the Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JuD) and the Falah-e-Insaniat Foundation, both run by Hafiz Saeed.

The United States has labelled the JuD and FIF "terrorist fronts" for the Lashkar-e-Taiba, which attacked Mumbai in November 2008, killing 166 people. Washington has offered a $10 million reward for information leading to Saeed's conviction over the Mumbai attacks.

Saeed has repeatedly denied involvement in the Mumbai attacks and a Pakistani court saw insufficient evidence to convict him.

Hafiz Saeed was released from his house arrest last November.

The Dec 19 document, which refers to "Financial Action Task Force (FATF) issues", names only Saeed's two purported charities and "actions to be taken" against them.

The FATF, an international body that combats money laundering and terrorist financing, has warned Pakistan it faces inclusion on a watch list for failing to crack down on financing terrorism.

Asked about a crackdown on JuD and FIF, Interior Minister Ahsan Iqbal, who co-chaired one of the meetings on the plan, responded only generally, saying he has ordered authorities "to choke the fundraising of all proscribed outfits in Pakistan".

In a written reply to Reuters, he also said Pakistan wasn't taking action under US pressure. "We're not pleasing anyone. We're working as a responsible nation to fulfil our obligations to our people and international community."

Spokesmen for the JuD and FIF both said they could not comment until they receive official notifications of the government's plans. "We don't have any intimation about any crackdown so far," FIF spokesman Salman Shahid told Reuters. "No one has asked us about our work or assets."

Saeed could not be reached for comment. He has frequently denied having ties to terrorists and says the organisations he founded and controls have no terrorism ties. He says he promotes an Islamic-oriented government through doing good works.

First Major Move

If the government follows through with the plan, it would mark the first time Pakistan has made a major move against Saeed's network, which includes 300 seminaries and schools, hospitals, a publishing house and ambulance services. The JuD and FIF alone have about 50,000 volunteers and hundreds of other paid workers, according to two counter-terrorism officials.

Participants at the meeting raised the possibility that the government's failure to act against the organisations could lead to UN sanctions, one of the three officials said. A UN Security Council team is due to visit Pakistan in late January to review progress against UN-designated "terrorist" groups.

Hafiz Saeed has enjoyed flagrant impunity from his inflammatory speeches in Pakistan.

"Any adverse comments or action suggested by the team can have far-reaching implications for Pakistan," the official said.

The Dec 19th document gave few details about how the state would take over Saeed's outfits, pending the plans submitted from the provincial governments. It did say it would involve government entities taking over ambulance services and accounting for other vehicles used by the organisations.

It says law enforcement agencies will coordinate with Pakistan's intelligence agencies to identify the assets of the two outfits and examine how they raise money.

The document also directs that the name of JuD's 200-acre headquarters, Markaz-e-Taiba, near the eastern city of Lahore be changed to something else "to make it known that the Government of "Punjab (province) solely manages and operates the Markaz (headquarters)".

The move to seize the so-called charities could spark some concern from the powerful military, which has proposed plans to steer Saeed and the JuD into mainstream politics. The military did not respond to a request for comment.

In August, JuD officials formed a new political party, the Milli Muslim League, and backed candidates who fared relatively strongly in two key parliamentary by-elections.

Washington warned Islamabad of repercussions after a Pakistani court in late November released him from house arrest. Punjab's provincial government had put Saeed under house arrest for 10 months this year for violating anti-terrorism laws. He was released in November last year.

(By Asif Shahzad, additional reporting by DrazenJorgic; Editing by Bill Tarrant)

ndtv.com/world-news/pakistan-plans-takeover-of-organisations-run-by-hafiz-saeed-says-secret-document-1794405

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"No More!": Trump Says US Got Only "Lies" From Pak For Billions In Aid

World | Edited by DebanishAchom | Updated: January 01, 2018

US President Donald Trump said Pakistan has not given back anything despite the US giving it $33 billions in aid over the last 15 years

US President Donald Trump ripped into Pakistan on Monday, declaring on Twitter that American governments had over the last 15 years "foolishly" given 33 billion dollars in aid to Islamabad that gave "safe haven to the terrorists we hunt in Afghanistan".

"No more!" the US President tweeted, days after he had singled out Pakistan for criticism in announcing his national security strategy last month. "We make massive payments every year to Pakistan... They have to help," he had said at the launch of the security strategy just a few days earlier.

The use of a much harsher language in Donald Trump's tweet on Monday suggests an end to the debate within his administration and the decision to deliver on his threat to punish Islamabad for failing to cooperate on counter-terrorism. For now.

"The United States has foolishly given Pakistan more than 33 billion dollars in aid over the last 15 years, and they have given us nothing but lies & deceit, thinking of our leaders as fools. They give safe haven to the terrorists we hunt in Afghanistan, with little help. No more!" he tweeted.

The tweet comes against the backdrop of reports that the US was considering withholding $255 million in already delayed aid to Pakistan for its failure to crack down on terror groups in Pakistan.

US-Pakistani ties have chilled steadily under Mr Trump, who in August declared that "Pakistan often gives safe haven to agents of chaos, violence, and terror".

In December, Mr Trump had already hinted that he may cut off the aid for good, news agency AFP reported. "We make massive payments every year to Pakistan. They have to help," he said in unveiling his national security strategy.

The US said Pakistan has not acted against terror groups on its soil despite the US request

And last week, Vice President Mike Pence told American troops during a visit to Afghanistan: "President Trump has put Pakistan on notice."

In August last year, the US had warned an angry Pakistan that it could lose its status as a privileged military ally if it continues giving safe haven to Afghan terrorist groups. One day after President Donald Trump unveiled a new strategy to force the Taliban to negotiate a political settlement with the Kabul government, his top diplomat upped the heat on Islamabad.

Mr Trump had warned that Pakistan's support for the Afghan Taliban and the Haqqani terrorist network would have consequences, and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson had spelled these out.

"We have some leverage," Mr Tillerson had told reporters, as he fleshed out Mr Trump's speech, "in terms of aid, their status as a non-NATO alliance partner -- all of that can be put on the table."

As one of 16 "Non-NATO Major Allies," Pakistan benefits from billions of dollars in aid and has access to some advanced US military technology banned from other countries.

In 2017, the US already withheld $350 million in military funding over concerns Pakistan is not doing enough to fight terror, but the alliance itself was not in question.

ndtv.com/world-news/no-more-trump-says-us-got-only-lies-from-pak-for-billions-in-aid-1794453

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More than 3,000 Yazidis still missing after collapse of Islamic State's self-styled caliphate

January 01, 2018 03:00 AM

BAADRA, Iraq

Kept as a slave by Islamic State militants, the mother prayed for her rescue and made a promise to God: If she ever saw her 10 children again, she would fast for three months to demonstrate her gratitude.

Her prayers were partially answered. In September, as the militants were being driven from their last strongholds in Iraq and Syria, she was freed and reunited with four daughters and a son. Her daylight fast has now come to an end.

But five other sons, along with her husband, are still missing.

"I honestly don't know what hope is anymore," said the woman, who asked to be identified only by her first name, Seve, so as not to endanger family members who might still be held captive. "There are very few places that haven't been liberated, and my children still aren't back."

Her family belongs to Iraq's Yazidi minority, followers of an ancient faith linked to Zoroastrianism that was targeted as heretical by the militants who overran its heartland near Mount Sinjar in August 2014.

Thousands of Yazidi men and teenage boys were killed, while more than 6,000 women and children were taken captive. Sold at slave markets or gifted between fighters, they were passed from owner to owner like chattel across Islamic State-held lands in Iraq and Syria. Girls as young as 9 were pressed into domestic and sexual servitude, and boys were indoctrinated and trained as fighters or suicide bombers.

The collapse of the militants' self-professed caliphate over the course of last year raised hopes for family reunions. But, according to a tally kept by authorities in Iraq's semiautonomous Kurdish zone, as of late December barely half of those taken captive had been freed or managed to escape.

Now that major combat operations against Islamic State have been declared over in Iraq and Syria, Yazidi activists fear that the world's attention has moved on and that the same powers they accuse of failing to avert a genocide three years ago have again forsaken their people.

"There is no one asking about the fate of more than 3,000 people," said Ahmed KhudidaBurjus, deputy executive director of the U.S.-based advocacy group Yazda. "We were expecting that the international community would do more to help save our community from extinction."

Human rights activists fear that many of the missing are dead – killed by their captors, used as suicide bombers or fighters, or caught in the crossfire as Islamic State battled local forces backed by U.S. and Russian air power. Cities such as Raqqa in Syria and Mosul in Iraq were pummeled for months, leaving neighborhoods in ruis.

But Yazidi activists – including smugglers who have pulled off hundreds of daring rescues – are convinced that others are still being held by Islamic State fighters or their families.

As cities came under assault, the militants often moved their families and household slaves to areas they still controlled. There were also captive Yazidis mixed in with the tens of thousands of civilians who fled the fighting.

KhaleelAldakhi believes hundreds could still be alive – and he's trying to find them.

A lawyer married to a former member of the Iraqi parliament, he used his extensive contacts to set up one of several Yazidi rescue networks that operate out of the northern Iraqi city of Dahuk.

His collaborators would find opportune moments – often when the militants were at prayer – to sneak away with their captives. Those who were caught were beheaded.

The job became more difficult as Islamic State lost its territory and militants went underground. But Aldakhi said his network still averages two or three rescues a week, many of them captives brought to Syria by fighters driven out of Iraq. A few wound up in Turkey with Islamic State families.

On a recent evening, Aldakhi was drinking tea at a local cafe when his cellphone lit up. It was a WhatsApp message from a Sudanese fighter who was holding a teenage Yazidi girl in the northwestern Syrian province of Idlib.

The fighter wanted to sell the girl back to her family so he could use the money to escape to Turkey. "If you swear to Allah that you won't give my information to anyone, I will bring the Yazidi girl out," he wrote in Arabic.

Aldakhi gave his word, then laughed. He is Yazidi and wasn't bothered about an oath to Allah. His only concern was for the man's captive.

He called a contact in Syria and told him to do whatever it would take to get the girl into territory held by Kurdish militias – the United States' principal ally in northern Syria in the fight against Islamic State.

"Do it tonight. What happens to the Daesh guy, I don't care," Aldakhi said, using a derisive term in Arabic for Islamic State.

He is still waiting for word about whether the girl was rescued.

That same morning, he had delivered a 10-year-old boy named Zedan to his parents at a camp for displaced Yazidis outside Dahuk.

Zedan was captured with his grandmother after their car crashed as they tried to escape the fighters who attacked their village. Relatives assumed both were killed. But a year later, Zedan's father received a furtive call from a captive relative who had seen the boy with an Islamic State family in the Iraqi city of Tall Afar.

The father, KhalafKhodeida, met with government officials and aid groups, and he reached out to activists such as Aldakhi with contacts behind Islamic State lines. No one could locate the boy.

News of Tall Afar's capture by Iraqi forces in August revived his hopes, but there was still no word of Zedan. Then on Nov. 4, Khodeida received a text message from a stranger offering to return Zedan if someone could come pick him up in Syria.

It turned out Zedan's captors had taken him to the town of Mayadeen, one of Islamic State's last refuges there. The man who called was a neighbor who took pity on the unkempt little boy he saw running barefoot in the street and somehow managed to spirit him away from his captors.

Zedan couldn't remember his parents' names or where they were from. So the neighbor shared pictures of the boy on social media, hoping someone would recognize him. That's how he eventually got Khodeida's number.

"We thought our son was dead," Khodeida said, "and now he has been reborn."

Aldakhi recorded video of the reunion on his phone. In the clips, relatives crowd around Zedan, offering candy and kisses. The shy little boy in a green-and-gray hoodie appears confused. He no longer understands his native Kurdish, only the languages of his captors, Turkmen and a little Arabic.

He is led to an elderly man sitting on a plastic chair: his grandfather. The man embraces the boy four times and starts to cry.

"The grandfather told me I have only one wish, to see my grandson before I die," Aldakhi said. "I got his wish done."

Tales like these sustain Seve as she waits for news of her children.

She lives in a sparsely furnished house lent by fellow Yazidis in the village of Baadra, near Dahuk, in Iraq's northern Kurdish zone. Her own home, in the farming community of Hardan, was destroyed by an airstrike after Islamic State took over the Sinjar region.

Seve's eldest daughter, who is married and lived in another village, managed to escape the militants, joining a massive exodus to the Dahuk region, to the north. But fighters took Seve's husband and two adult sons at gunpoint. Seve and the rest of her family were bused from one crowded prison to the next, where they were starved and beaten until they were sold off.

Three daughters – 19, 17 and 13 at the time – were the first to be dragged away. Then her mother-in-law, daughter-in-law and newborn grandson.Seve and the four boys, ages 5 to 12, were sold to a Saudi Arabian fighter who brought them to his 19-year-old sister and her husband in Mosul as domestic help.

The young woman told Seve she considered the boys like her own. If one of them wanted potato chips, Seve said, the woman, who never left home unarmed, would pick up her rifle and go buy chips.

"Daesh was very, very bad," Seve said. "But there were some who were better than others."

But the couple also told the boys that their parents were infidels; they forced the family to memorize passages from the Koran and pray five times a day.

When Seve was told the two older boys were going to be enrolled in a "military institute," she cried for days. She knew if her sons learned to handle weapons, they would be forced to fight.

After about six months, the couple sold Seve and the boys to another family who could not afford to keep them together. They took photographs of the children and posted them at checkpoints and military bases, until one by one, they were sold off.

The youngest, Saidou, was 6 when he was taken from Seve, who screamed and threatened to kill herself. The slave trader just laughed.

She eventually ended up cooking and cleaning for a couple in Raqqa, Islamic State's would-be capital in Syria. When that city came under assault, they brought her to Mayadeen. When it looked like Mayadeen too would fall, the couple decided to sell her back to her family.

They demanded $17,000, far more than Seve thought her relatives could afford. But they went door to door until they had raised the money. Smugglers were enlisted to drive Seve to a nearby village, where she caught a ride with civilians who were fleeing to Kurdish territory. A brother and other relatives picked her up from there.

To Seve's amazement, Saidou was with them in the car. His captors had sold him back to the family for $10,000 last year. Two daughters had also been rescued, found by Iraqi forces after being abandoned during the fighting in Mosul. But the family had to borrow more than $30,000 to smuggle Seve's mother-in-law, daughter-in-law, grandson and another daughter out of Islamic State territory.

The Kurdish regional government reimbursed most of the family's expenses. But it is in the midst of a financial crisis and has not yet reimbursed anything for Seve's rescue. She wonders how she and her family will repay their creditors or rebuild their lives.

"If I had my boys back, they would do something for us, but I don't know if they're still alive," she said, fighting back tears. "The world doesn't make sense if your children aren't around you."

(Special correspondent BawarIhsan in Dahuk, Iraq, contributed to this report. This story was reported with a grant from the United Nations Foundation.)

miamiherald.com/news/nation-world/world/article192435659.html

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Mideast

Muslim Leaders across the Middle East Work with Israeli Rabbis to Keep the Peace

1st January 2018

A remarkable alliance of Israeli orthodox rabbis and Muslim religious leaders in the Middle East is mediating behind the scenes following the anger and violence sparked by President Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital last month.

As demonstrations continue throughout the region, Israeli forces clashing with Palestinian protesters and Israeli air strikes following rockets fired from Gaza have left at least a dozen Palestinians dead and hundreds injured.

The US Jerusalem declaration has also emboldened Arab calls to boycott associations with Israelis. But these Muslim and Jewish religious scholars remain dedicated to non-violent strategies for securing rights and security for both Israelis and Palestinians and to “stop people killing”, Sheikh ImadFalogi, a former Hamas leader in Gaza, tells The Art Newspaper.

The covert interfaith efforts, which religious leaders describe as a “religious peace network”, began in the early 1990s and spread across Israel, the West Bank and Gaza, focusing especially on maintaining the peace in Jerusalem and its holy sites. In 2002, the senior Egyptian mufti Mohammed Sayed Tantawi joined several Holy Land religious leaders and the Archbishop of Canterbury to sign the Alexandria Declaration, a set of shared religious principles for non-violence.

Today the coalition includes a growing number of Muslim scholars in almost every Arab country; the network stretches from the North African Arab states to Middle Eastern countries, including Egypt, Jordan, Syria, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Iraq. Some Muslim leaders have met with Israeli orthodox rabbis in Spain, Italy, Norway and Turkey. While they primarily focus on improving Jewish-Muslim relations, they also maintain close connections with church leaders from Jerusalem, Israel and the West Bank. The Pope is kept apprised of their work, they say.

Despite anger with the US declaration that it will move its embassy to Jerusalem and with Israel over Palestinian rights, “big” numbers of Islamic leaders in the Middle East and around the world want to work with these Israeli rabbis “for a real peace and political and community rights”, Falogi says. Religious leaders must play a role, he explains, because they can achieve results better and faster than politicians as they have “more power in the Middle East”.

Falogi also says that the rabbis he sees as his allies have studied the Quran, as he has studied the Christian Bible and Jewish holy texts. “The rabbis in this network understand us—our religion and rights—better than the politicians.”

Equality not separation

AviGisser, an Israeli orthodox rabbi who heads the West Bank settlement of Ofra and is chair of Israel’s national religious education council, has deep respect for his Islamic partners. “I teach in the Jewish religious community that we need to build our life together, Jew and Arab, Jewish and Muslim; there must be equality, not separation,” he says. Gisser also now teaches on Islam and Palestinian rights, and advocates for interfaith connections for “security and to fight terror”.

“It is dangerous to talk to rabbis but I’m convinced it is good for the two sides,” says the Islamic law scholar, Ali Sartawi, who served as a Hamas-affiliated minister of justice in the 2007 Palestinian government. “We can’t build peace with the political side only. I don’t have any problems with Jewish people on the Israeli side. I respect the Jewish religion. But if fundamentalists grow on both sides, I will be afraid.”

“Of course there are extremist Jews and Arabs who don’t like [this alliance],” Gisser says. “But in the general population there is a lot of will for closer relations.” Earlier this year, when Sheikh Abdallah NimerDarwish, the co-founder of the Islamic Movement in Israel who also helped to set up the religious peace network, died, Gisser visited the mourning tent and was invited to speak. “They accepted me,” he says.

Worries intensified

The US Jerusalem announcement was widely seen as pre-empting the stalled Israeli-Palestinian peace process. After Israel captured East Jerusalem from Jordan in 1967, it declared the territory part of its capital. But Palestinians and most of the international community consider East Jerusalem to be occupied and do not recognise Israeli sovereignty there. Palestinian residents in the area, who mostly do not have Israeli citizenship, want East Jerusalem to be recognised as their capital and to have equal rights. To Muslim and Christian Arabs, the US declaration is also a threat to the sacred spaces of East Jerusalem’s walled Old City, which is home to numerous sites holy to Judaism, Christianity and Islam, and Jewish, Armenian, Muslim and Christian Arab quarters.

In the wake of Trump’s announcement, the network’s members have been scrambling to convince authorities and communities to avoid provocation and violence across the region, and especially in Jerusalem and at its most contested holy site, known to Jews as the Temple Mount and to Muslims as the Haram Al Sharif, or noble sanctuary. The location of the second temple, destroyed by the Romans in AD70, remains the holiest site in Judaism. For centuries, the compound has been home to Muslim shrines, including the Al-Aqsa mosque, the holiest Muslim site in Jerusalem and the third holiest site in Islam.

It is critical for people to understand the strong emotions surrounding this site in the Arab world, says Sheikh Raed Bader, an Islamic law arbitrator and the leading legal authority of the Southern Islamic Movement of Israel. “Al-Aqsa is like Mecca” for Muslims everywhere, he says. At the same time, Bader says that many hours of conversations with rabbis have helped him to understand Jewish connections to holy sites, too. “We have tried to find the most positive, deep, creative solutions,” he says.

Nuclear site

The challenges to keeping the peace at the site are daunting. In recent years, religious and nationalist Jews have visited the site in much bigger numbers, while male Muslim worshippers aged under 50, who can be prohibited by Israel from visiting their mosque, say they feel disrespected and disenfranchised.

The Jerusalem rabbi Michael Melchior, a former cabinet member in Israel who co-founded the religious alliance, says the coalition is “always on guard”, as the holy site is “nuclear”. Tensions peaked in July, leaving several dead on both sides. But the violence would have been significantly worse if the network had not intervened, Melchior says. Extremists “who wanted to create a world war, a clash of civilisations, would have had thousands of people killed,” he says. “We were three minutes away from that happening. I had many calls from the chiefs of police. We negotiated the situation before the whole Middle East went up in flames.” The Muslim scholars tell the same story. Together they helped mediate between the Waqf, the Islamic council appointed by Jordan to oversee Muslim sites in the Old City, “with the support of a lot of players in the Muslim world and the Israeli police, approved by the Israeli cabinet”, Melchior says.

Radicalisation of Muslim and Jewish stakeholders at the Temple Mount/Aqsa Mosque complex is “aided and abetted by end-of-days Christian evangelicals who are exacerbating tensions,” says the Israeli lawyer Daniel Seidemann, a Jerusalem expert who advises policymakers.

“The next eruption of violence is only a matter of time,” he says. “These are growing religious movements that have weaponised faith, whose claims are exclusive, existential and absolute—Biblically driven Christian settlers, the messianically driven Jewish Temple Mount movement, the various iterations of extreme Islam, and ‘end-of-day’ Christians. The traditional religious leadership—the Holy See, the orthodox patriarchy, the mainline Protestant churches, chief rabbis and the traditional sharia courts—are being marginalised.”

Potentially destabilising

As a result, Israeli relations with Jordan, the custodian of Muslim sites, have never been worse. But engaging the faith communities could help, Seidemann says. “I don’t think anybody is considering turning over the political processes to faith communities or giving religious leaders a formal place at the negotiating table,” he says. “There is, however, a greater awareness that failing to address the faith dimension of this conflict has grave ramifications, creating flawed political processes, undermining the integrity of the city and potentially destabilising it.”

Until there is a peace agreement and rights and security on the ground for all residents, the network is trying to fill in where political, diplomatic and security efforts fail. “We are not a government or in power. But if we get requests to help, we all try to help each other,” Melchior says. “We do interventions all the time.”

Resolving sectarian disputes in Jerusalem can reverberate widely, Bader believes. “We need Muslims and Jews to explain that peace is not only good for Israelis and Palestinians, but a model that influences Libya, Iraq, Syria and Algeria. We want to meet rabbis who are of the same mind. I don’t meet with rabbis or sheikhs who want to make war," the sheikh says. "Look what happened in Egypt: 300 people in prayer killed in the name of religion. This also happens in Syria, Iraq, Yemen and elsewhere. The people who do this do not represent our texts and do not represent God.”

theartnewspaper.com/news/muslim-leaders-across-the-middle-east-work-with-israeli-rabbis-to-keep-the-peace

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Bahrain Jails Two Pro-Democracy Activists, Revokes Their Citizenship

Mon Jan 01, 2018 2:29

On Saturday, Bahrain's Supreme Court of Appeal found the defendants guilty of “training in the use of weapons and munitions, in addition to the possession of a firearm without the authorization of the Ministry of Interior for terrorist purposes," Al-Waght reported.

Bahraini pro-democracy activists have dismissed the charges saying they are trumped-up.

The West-backed Bahraini regime has stepped up crackdown on political dissent in the wake of US President Donald Trump's meeting with Bahraini Ruler King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifah during a summit in the Saudi capital city Riyadh in late May 2017.

Bahrain's top military court sentenced six individuals to death last Monday after convicting them over charges including plotting to assassinate the Persian Gulf state's armed forces chief.

The court also sentenced seven other people linked to the case to seven-year jail terms and deprived them too of their citizenship, while five men were acquitted.

Ten of the alleged defendants appeared in the court, while, authorities claimed, eight are at large in Bahrain or abroad, while it was not clear which of the absent eight were sentenced to death and which to jail.

It was the first official mention of any plot against the life of Field Marshal Sheikh Khalifa bin Ahmed Al-Khalifa, who is a member of the ruling family, but the Bahrain News Agency gave no further details of when or where it was alleged to have taken place.

"The defendants were accused with the formation of a terrorist cell, attempting to assassinate the Bahrain Defence Force (BDF) Commander-in-Chief and committing other terrorist crimes," a statement read.

Al-Wefaq National Islamic Society described recent death sentences against six anti-regime activists as “null and void”.

"The sentences are null and void,” al-Wefaq said in a statement on Monday, stressing that they were based on false accusations and forced confessions.

Al-Wefaq further called on the international community to “bear its historical responsibility and save the Bahraini majority which has been oppressed” by the ruling regime.

Bahraini human rights organizations, including Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR), Bahrain Forum for Human Rights, Persian Gulf Institute for Democracy and Human Rights (GIDHR), SALAM for Democracy and Human Rights, had issued a report under the title of "Death or Confession", a report that monitors the violations due to secret military courts that tried civilians whose confessions were extracted under torture.

Al-Wefaq had called on the Manama regime to halt the military trial of a group of civilians, slamming the military trial as a violation of both domestic and international laws.

The case is the first of its kind since Manama altered the country's constitution, granting military courts the right to try civilians, after Bahrain in March approved the trial of civilians at military tribunals in a measure blasted by human rights campaigners as being tantamount to imposition of an undeclared martial law countrywide.

Thousands of anti-regime protesters have held demonstrations in Bahrain on an almost daily basis ever since a popular uprising began in the country in mid-February 2011.

They are demanding that the Al-Khalifah dynasty relinquish power and allow a just system representing all Bahrainis to be established.

Manama has gone to great lengths to clamp down on any sign of dissent. In mid-March 2011, troops from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates were deployed to assist Bahrain in its crackdown.

Scores of people have lost their lives and hundreds of others sustained injuries or got arrested as a result of the Al-Khalifah regime’s crackdown.

en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13961011000770

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Death Toll from Iran Protests Rises to 12: State TV

January 1, 2018

Iranian officials have so far confirmed the deaths of six people and injuries of several others during the recent protest rallies and riots across the country. The state TV has also declared the deaths of six others.

The IRIB (state TV) declared on Monday that 10 people have lost their lives during the Sunday night clashes across Iran, raising the death toll to 12 since the beginning of protests on Thursday.

The state TV did not provide further details about the victims. However, Mashallah Nemati, the governor of Doroud in Western province of Lorestan, had earlier confirmed that four people have lost their lives and six wounded during the recent protests in this city, according to official accounts.

“During the first day of protests (Saturday), two people were killed and six wounded,” he noted, according to the governor’s official website.

He stressed that there is no accurate account of the people killed or wounded during the second day yet, but two citizens were killed in a car crash caused by the rioters on Sunday.

A firefighting vehicle deployed to contain a fire in a bank was seized by rioters, and while put on neutral gear, it crash with another car in which a man and a young boy were killed, he was quoted as saying by ISNA.

HedayatollahKhademi, the representative of the city of Izeh in the Iranian Parliament, also told the Etemad Online news website that two people have been killed during the clashes on Sunday night.

He quoted the governor of Izeh, a city in southwestern Iran, as saying that the police forces had not been supposed to shoot people.

Therefore, we don’t think they have been killed by the Law Enforcement, he added.

Also in an interview with ILNA, he said this city has long been faced with the problem of ordinary people’s possession of guns and cold weapons, and this has caused troubles every now and then.

“I don’t know yet whether the police forces or the rioters opened fire on Sunday, and the issue is under investigation,” he added.

The protests, which started in the religious cities of Mashhad and Qom on Thursday, mainly focused on economic grievances, particularly the surge in prices and the financial corruption of the state bodies.

However, the ensuing protest rallies in other cities on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday involved more political slogans. Officials and analysts believe foreign and anti-Iran media and officials are trying to make the demonstrations political and provoke people to chant anti-Establishment slogans.

ifpnews.com/exclusive/iran-protests-confirmed-death-toll-rises-10/

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6,700 Palestinians Arrested by Israeli Army in 2017

Mon Jan 01, 2018 12:20

The Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO)-linked Palestinian Committee of Prisoners and Released Prisoners' Affairs, Palestinian Prisoners Committee, Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association, Al-MezanCenter for Human Rights, in a joint statement, said the arrests in 2017 included 1,467 children, 156 women, 14 Palestinian Legislative Council members and 25 journalists, Daily Sabah reported.

The statement also added that some detainees were later released.

It also announced that there are 6,950 Palestinian prisoners, including 359 children, 22 journalists and 10 MPs, in Israeli prisons.

The Palestinian Prisoners’ Society has also reported 620 Palestinians, including 170 minors, 12 women and three injured people, have been arrested since US President made his announcement.

15 Palestinians were also killed in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank during three weeks of protests against the Washington declaration of Jerusalem as capital of Israel, according to reports.

Also, thousands of Palestinians have been wounded by Israeli army's fire during demonstrations against the US President Donald Trump decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

The Palestinian ministry of public health in Gaza has also announced that the Israeli occupation forces use unknown gas bombs which caused cases of stress, convulsion, vomiting, coughing and rapid heartbeat among the Palestinian civilians. It stressed that the Zionist forces fire bullets directly on the Palestinian protestors.

The Israeli regime forces use brutal and excessive force against the civilians and the rescue teams as well as the medics, according to the Palestinian ministry which called for denouncing the racist actions of the Israeli authorities.

US President Donald Trump announced early December 2017 that Washington would be recognizing Jerusalem al-Quds as Israel’s capital, stressing that the United States would relocate the embassy in the occupied lands from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem al-Quds.

The move was hailed by Israel but condemned by the rest of the international community as one which undermines the peace talks.

Washington’s al-Quds move has raised a chorus of outcry across the international community. The Muslim world, the UN, world leaders from Europe to the Middle East to Australia, and even US allies in the West have criticized the bid, saying it would plunge the already tumultuous region into new upheaval.

Heavy clashes also broke out between Israeli troops and Palestinian protesters after Washington's decision in Jerusalem al-Qud's Old City, Hebron (al-Khalil), Bethlehem and Nablus in the West Bank as well as the besieged Gaza Strip.

People in different countries have also hit the streets to denounce Trump's recognition of Jerusalem al-Quds as Israel’s capital.

The Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), in a statement issued following an extraordinary summit in Turkey's Istanbul, declared East Jerusalem the capital of Palestine "under occupation" and urged the US to withdraw from the peace process and back down from its Jerusalem decision.

The United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) overwhelmingly passed a non-binding resolution condemning Trump’s decision and called on states not to move their diplomatic missions to the sacred city. The UNGA vote followed the US veto of a UN Security Council (UNSC) resolution.

en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13961011000242

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Shahindha Ismail investigated for 'anti-Islamic' tweet

17 hours ago

A prominent human rights activist in the Maldives says she has received several death threats over an alleged anti-Islamic Twitter post, that has also prompted a criminal investigation.

Shahindha Ismail, executive director of Maldives Democracy Network (MDN), told Al Jazeera that anonymous accounts on Twitter and Facebook have been calling for her death, after a newspaper article and religious scholars accused her of advocating for secularism in the Sunni Muslim state.

"I do not feel safe in the Maldives and I fear for my life," she said on Sunday.

The furore over Ismail's post began on December 20, when she responded to a speech by President Abdulla Yameen, in which he had vowed to crack down on what he said were domestic and international efforts to propagate faiths other than Islam in the Maldives.

"Religions other than Islam exist in this world because Allah allowed for it. No other religion would exist otherwise, is it not?" Ismail said on Twitter.

Her post prompted threats, with one Twitter user, referring to Ismail, saying: "I'm one of hundreds who will cut people like that to pieces." That post has since been deleted.

Several comments on Facebook reviewed by Al Jazeera also called for attacks on Ismail and said she should "be thrown out of the country".

Islam is the official religion in the Indian Ocean archipelago of 400,000 people.

On December 28, amid the furore, the Ministry of Islamic Affairs issued a statement urging Maldivians to refrain from "nonsensical talk that advocates for any faith other than Islam in the Maldives".

Hours later, the police announced that it had launched an investigation against Ismail.

Several ruling party politicians, including Majority Leader Ahmed Nihan, thanked the police for the probe.

A police spokesman said Ismail was being investigated under the Religious Unity Act, which criminalises actions that may lead to religious strife in the Maldives.

It carries a prison sentence of up to five years.

"Police have announced an investigation against me while ignoring the open threats against me on social media," said Ismail.

"Human rights defenders have always been labelled as anti-Islamic or as Western agents to wipe out Islam," she added. "Too many of us have been attacked, disappeared and murdered for any of us to be safe any more."

A liberal blogger was stabbed to death earlier this year in the Maldives' capital, Male, after he lodged a police complaint over death threats against him, also for alleged secular and anti-Islamic views.

Ismail has previously criticised law enforcement agencies for inaction over attacks against liberal and moderate voices, which also include the disappearance of a journalist in 2014 and the killing of a parliamentarian in 2012. Both of these cases remain unsolved.

Police Superintendent Ahmed Shifan said he was uncertain if Ismail had filed any complaints.

"We assure you, however, if we can identify a potential threat, then we will launch an investigation," he told Al Jazeera.

'Profiling and incitement'

Rights groups have previously criticised the country's government for using new laws and criminal cases to silence, among others, human rights defenders and civil society groups.

A vocal critic of Yameen's human rights record, Ismail said threats against her "escalated" after the pro-government tabloid Vaguthu Online published a news article headlined, "Shahindha has indirectly called for other faiths in the Maldives."

The article prompted an outcry from some religious scholars.

In a Facebook post, one railed against what he called the spread of secularism in the Maldives and called on Ismail to repent, while the religious conservative group JamiyyathSalaf called for action against those who mock Islam.

The MDN, which Ismail heads, said it was "appalled" that the police have chosen to investigate the content of her Twitter post rather "than those who have openly called to kill and behead her".

Ismail said she believed the outcry over her tweet was "part of the same trend of extensive profiling and incitement" that preceded previous physical attacks on the blogger, journalist and parliamentarian.

Forum Asia, an Asian rights-group based in Thailand, said it was "seriously concerned" by the threats and the police inquiry against Ismail.

The police have "failed to respond appropriately" to calls for violence against critics and dissidents in the past, said RefendiDjamin, a board member of the organisation.

"The Maldives government must protect human rights defenders instead of targeting them," he told Al Jazeera.

aljazeera.com/news/2017/12/shahindha-ismail-investigated-anti-islamic-tweet-171231122510004.html

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Israeli Army Detains More Palestinians in West Bank Raids

Mon Jan 01, 2018 12:27

The Israeli Army arrested two Palestinians East of Bethlehem, after raiding and searching their home, WAFA reported.

Another two 20 year-old Palestinians from the town of Jaba, South of Jenin, were arrested at a military checkpoint on their way to the city of Ramallah.

Israeli soldiers arrested two Palestinians during a raid into the city of Nablus.

Israeli forces also detained 10 Palestinians from the occupied city of Jerusalem, 9 of whom are from the town of Issawiya.

Also a young man from the town of Biddu, Northwest of Jerusalem, detained by Israeli soldiers.

US President Donald Trump announced early December 2017 that Washington would be recognizing Jerusalem al-Quds as Israel’s capital, stressing that the United States would relocate the embassy in the occupied lands from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem al-Quds.

The move was hailed by Israel but condemned by the rest of the international community as one which undermines the peace talks.

Washington’s al-Quds move has raised a chorus of outcry across the international community. The Muslim world, the UN, world leaders from Europe to the Middle East to Australia, and even US allies in the West have criticized the bid, saying it would plunge the already tumultuous region into new upheaval.

Heavy clashes also broke out between Israeli troops and Palestinian protesters after Washington's decision in Jerusalem al-Qud's Old City, Hebron (al-Khalil), Bethlehem and Nablus in the West Bank as well as the besieged Gaza Strip.

Over 620 Palestinians were detained by the Israeli forces since Washington’s move to recognize Jerusalem al-Quds as the capital of Israel.

15 Palestinians were also killed in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank during three weeks of protests against the Washington declaration of Jerusalem as capital of Israel, according to reports.

Also, thousands of Palestinians have been wounded by Israeli army's fire during demonstrations against the US President Donald Trump decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

The Palestinian ministry of public health in Gaza has also announced that the Israeli occupation forces use unknown gas bombs which caused cases of stress, convulsion, vomiting, coughing and rapid heartbeat among the Palestinian civilians. It stressed that the Zionist forces fire bullets directly on the Palestinian protestors.

The Israeli regime forces use brutal and excessive force against the civilians and the rescue teams as well as the medics, according to the Palestinian ministry which called for denouncing the racist actions of the Israeli authorities.

People in different countries have also hit the streets to denounce Trump's recognition of Jerusalem al-Quds as Israel’s capital.

The Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), in a statement issued following an extraordinary summit in Turkey's Istanbul, declared East Jerusalem the capital of Palestine "under occupation" and urged the US to withdraw from the peace process and back down from its Jerusalem decision.

The United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) overwhelmingly passed a non-binding resolution condemning Trump’s decision and called on states not to move their diplomatic missions to the sacred city. The UNGA vote followed the US veto of a UN Security Council (UNSC) resolution.

en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13961011000410

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Israel Seized 2,500 Acres of Palestinian Land, Destroyed 500 Buildings in 2017

Mon Jan 01, 2018 12:25

Israel seized Palestinian lands with “military aims” and the “aim to construct Jewish settlement units” in the West Bank and Eastern Jerusalem, according to the report of the center, Anadolu Agency reported.

The report also recorded 900 incidents of violence and attacks of Israeli forces in East Jerusalem's Al-Aqsa Mosque.

According to Israeli and Palestinian law institutions, activities of Jewish settlement in West Bank and East Jerusalem have increased by three times in 2017 compared with the previous year.

Peace Now movement also announced that Israeli government approved the construction of 1,982 houses in 2015, 2,629 houses 2016 and this figure increased to 6,500 in 2017.

The Israeli cabinet has approved the transfer of 40 million shekels ($11 million) in funding for settlements in the occupied West Bank, as the approval came a day after a group of Zionist rabbis met with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and asked him to give higher priority to the settlements.

The Palestinian foreign ministry has also denounced a new Israeli settlement construction plan, which includes the building of 300,000 housing units in occupied East Jerusalem.

It held US President Donald Trump responsible for "Israeli arrogance" that has endorsed the annexation of East Jerusalem.

"The ministry affirms that this Israeli colonial arrogance would not have happened without US President Donald Trump's decision to recognise Jerusalem as Israel's capital," the statement read.

"Trump's administration must bear the responsibility for new crimes that Israel, the occupying country, imposes on our people," it added.

The ministry urged the International Court of Justice and the International Criminal Court to confront the move.

About 600,000 Israelis live in over 230 illegal settlements built since the 1967 Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories of the West Bank and East Jerusalem al-Quds.

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

The separation wall, which Israel started building in 2002, snakes through the occupied West Bank's territory, dividing villages, encircling towns and splitting families from each other.

Much of the international community regards the Israeli settlements as illegal because the territories were captured by Israel in the 1967 Six-Day War and are hence subject to the Geneva Conventions, which forbid construction on occupied lands.

Last month, the European Union urged the Israeli regime to stop plans for the construction of new settler units in the occupied West Bank, warning that such moves undermine peace efforts.

A UN Security Council resolution passed last year condemned all Israeli settlement construction on the occupied Palestinian territories. The landmark Resolution 2334, passed in December 2016, called the Israeli settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem al-Quds a “flagrant violation of international law.” The resolution also called on Israel to stop all such construction.

en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13961011000284

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Israeli army arrests Palestinian parliamentarian Nasser Abdel Gawad

January 1, 2018 at 10:40 am | Published in: Israel, Middle East, News, Palestine

The Israeli army arrested a Palestinian parliamentarian in the West Bank city of Salfit this morning, according to a report by Anadolu Agency.

According to eyewitnesses, the Israeli forces raided Nasser Abdel Gawad’s residence and arrested him.

Palestinian MP Fathi al-Qaraawi of the Hamas-affiliated Change and Reform bloc said continuous arrests of deputies of the Palestinian Legislative Council who are entitled to parliamentary immunity is a flagrant violation of international law.

“Israel rejected the results of the Palestinian parliamentary elections in 2006 and arrested all Hamas deputies (in the West Bank including Jerusalem) and continues to punish the Palestinian people for this by arresting the group’s deputies,” al-Qaraawi said.

Read: Israel extends administrative detention of Palestinian MP Jarrar

The Change and Reform bloc won the 2006 Palestinian elections with an overwhelming majority.

Al-Qaraawi added the arrest is an attempt to block opposition to US President Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

The latest arrest raises the number of jailed Palestinian parliamentarians to 11.

middleeastmonitor.com/20180101-israeli-army-arrests-palestinian-parliamentarian-nasser-abdel-gawad/

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India

AIMPLB objects to allowing Muslim women to travel for Haj without male guardian

ANI | Updated: Jan 01, 2018 09:48 IST

Pune (Maharashtra) [India], Jan 1 (ANI): The All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) does not concur with Prime Minister Narendra Modi's announcement of allowing the Muslim women to travel for Haj without 'Mehram' or male guardian.

"This is a religious issue, and not something to be brought up in legislation and passed in the parliament," AIMPLB secretary Maulana Abdul Hamid Azhari told ANI, adding, "99 per cent men and Muslims follow their religion in accordance with what their religious authorities say, and not what PM Modi ji or anybody else says."

According to Islam, Azhari said, a woman cannot travel longer than three days or more than 78 miles without a male guardian, be it for Haj or to any other place.

Addressing the nation in the 39th edition of his 'Mann kiBaat' radio programme on Sunday, Prime Minister Modi suggested single women pilgrims be excluded from the lottery system implemented to select Haj pilgrims.

Azhari, however, countered the suggestion saying single women were not obliged to go for Haj.

"If a woman does not have a Mehram (male guardian) and does not have the funds to take a male guardian with her to Haj, then she is exempted from the obligation to go," he said.

Meanwhile, women rights activist SudhaRamalingam supported the cause, but said the prime minister's announcement were not a change in the existing rules.

"This is nothing new at all. Saudi Arabia says women above 45 years can come unaccompanied, but in groups with a letter of permission from her male guardian. This is the condition given by Saudi Arabia," Ramalingam told ANI. (ANI)

aninews.in/news/national/general-news/aimplb-objects-to-allowing-muslim-women-to-travel-for-haj-without-male-guardian201801010828210003/

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Strike 3, Security Failure, Kashmiri Fidayeens: Warning Signs in Jaish Attack on CRPF Camp

Apart from the grave security lapse, what also makes this daring pre-dawn attack by the Jaish all the more serious is that this was the first Fidayeen attack carried out by local militants in the recent history of militancy in Kashmir.

Sheikh Saaliq | News18.com@sheikh_saaliq

Updated:January 1, 2018

Strike 3, Security Failure, Kashmiri Fidayeens: Warning Signs in Jaish Attack on CRPF Camp A CRPF jawan takes cover behind a tree in southern Lethpora village in Kashmir on December 31, 2017. (AP Photo/Mukhtar Khan)

At the start of the last week of December 2017, an alert was sounded throughout Kashmir about a possible Fidayeen attack on New Year’s Eve along the Srinagar-Jammu highway.

Days later, as feared by the security agencies, militants from the Jaish-e-Mohammad managed to sneak into a CRPF camp inside Jammu and Kashmir Police’s Commando Training Centre (CTC) in Lethpora, Pulwama.

In a 36-hour fierce gunbattle that started on the night of December 30, five CRPF personnel and two Jaish militants were killed.

Earlier this year, different militants groups operating in Kashmir targeted the highway stretch frequently. This time, however, heavy security was deployed along the stretch after the input.

In a press statement on Sunday, Director General of Police (DGP) SP Vaid acknowledged that there were prior “inputs” regarding the attack.

“There was an input in the last two to three days. The militants were trying. They probably could not get a place and time earlier. So they struck last night,” Vaid said at a press briefing in Srinagar.

Speaking to News18, a senior police officer who deals with counter-insurgency operations in South Kashmir confirmed the intel of a possible Fidayeen attack. "At least 12 hours before the attack, Jammu Kashmir police shared specific Intel about two Jaish militants who could attack the training," the officer said on condition of anonymity.

The Local ‘Fidayeen’

Apart from the grave security lapse, what also makes this daring pre-dawn attack by the Jaish all the more serious is that this was the first Fidayeen attack carried out by local militants in the recent history of militancy in Kashmir. The militants were identified as Manzoor Ahmad Baba of DrubgamPulwama and Fardeen Ahmad Khanday of NazneenPora, Tral. Fardeen was the son of a police constable.

Hours after the gunbattle, a video surfaced in Kashmir showing Fardeen, with a huge cache of ammunition in front of him, asking other Kashmiris to “join the fight against Indian aggression”.

“By the time this video reaches you, I’ll be in heaven,” Fardeen said in the video, thus making his plans clear.

The video was allegedly shot moments before the attack.

In the video, Fardeen also referred to Afaq and Bilal – two Jaish militants who had carried out two different suicide attacks in early 2000. While Bilal was a British Muslim student, Afaq Shah was a local.

Bilal had staged a car bomb explosion at an army unit in Srinagar on Christmas Day in 2000, killing 11 people, including five soldiers.

Hailing from Srinagar's Khaniyar locality, Afaq had driven a stolen red Maruti — laden with explosives — to the high-security barrier of the BadamiBagh Cantonment in Srinagar on December 27, 2000, and blown the vehicle up with him still in it. Eleven personnel had died in the attack.

Apart from Afaq, Mohammad Aslam, a J&K SPO (Special Protection Officer), was one of three other Fidayeen who attacked the Special Operation Group (SOG) complex in Srinagar on December 27, 2000, in which 11 personnel died. An SPO who deserted the ranks, Aslam came back to attack the very force he had been part of.

The Rise of ‘Afzal Guru Squad’

Saturday night’s attack was not the first Fidayeen strike carried out in Kashmir this year. There were two others before this one.

On August 26, militants stormed the District Police Lines in Pulwama, killing 10 people — four policemen, four CRPF personnel and two militants. On October 3, militants stormed a BSF base at Srinagar airport, killing one jawan and injuring three. Two militants were also killed in the attack.

The ‘Afzal Guru Squad’ of the Jaish-e-Mohammad outfit carried out both Fidayeen attacks.

Barely 90 Days Into the Fold

Another important detail of Saturday’s attack is that both Fardeen and Manzoor were recruited into militancy barely 90 days ago.

Sixteen-year-old Fardeen Ahmad Khanday was a Class 10 student and became a militant three months ago. The other one was Manzoor Baba (22), who hailed from Drubgam area of Pulwama district. A driver by profession, he had become a militant just two months ago.

Hours after the gunbattle, Jaish-e-Mohammad claimed responsibility for the attack, threatening that “such attacks will continue till the last Indian soldier leaves Kashmir.”

“Blood of martyrs is yielding results,” local news agency GNS quoted this Jaish statement.

How Well Did ‘Operation All Out’ Fare?

The security failure despite intelligence of such an attack also puts a question mark over claims by security agencies in Kashmir on ‘Operation All Out’.

The announcement of ‘Operation All Out’ by the Army in June 2017 has so far resulted in the killing of 219 militants, the highest in the last eight years. Among the 219 militants, 84 were local militants who were from different parts of the Valley.

While many security officials are claiming the operation to be a huge success, what could be a major worry for security forces is that the year also witnessed the killing of 124 armed forces personnel, which makes the ratio of militant to armed forces killings 2:1.

The Jammu & Kashmir Coalition of Civil Society (JKCCS) in its annual report said: “The comparison between militant and armed forces killings in last four years reveals that while 560 militants have been killed in the given period, the armed forces have lost 364 personnel to militant violence. The ratio of militant-armed forces killings has been close to 2:1 for the last four years.”

news18.com/news/india/strike-3-security-failure-kashmiri-fidayeens-warning-signs-in-jaish-attack-on-crpf-camp-1619671.html

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India, Pak Exchange List Of Nuclear Installations Under 30-Year-Old Pact

All India | Edited by DebanishAchom | Updated: January 01, 2018

NEW DELHI:  India and Pakistan today exchanged a list of nuclear installations that the two countries have under a three-decade-old bilateral pact to maintain transparency and avoid attacking each other's nuclear facilities.

Officials from the two sides exchanged the list in New Delhi, the foreign ministry said in a statement.

The agreement on the "prohibition of attack against nuclear installations" was signed on December 31, 1988, and entered into force on January 27, 1991, the foreign ministry said in the statement.

According to the pact, India and Pakistan must exchange an updated list showing nuclear installations and facilities on January 1 every year. Today's exchange was the 27th consecutive exchange of the nuclear file -- the first exchange took place in on January 1, 1992.

In September 2017, India's atomic chief Dr SekharBasu had told NDVT that thanks to new explorations, India can now call itself a uranium-endowed country. "When I joined the atomic energy programme we were told India has just about 60,000 tonnes of mineable uranium. But today the quantity has grown by four to give times. Government is fully supporting us to make India uranium self-sufficient," Dr Basu had said during a visit by NDTV to Jaduguda uranium mine, the oldest site in the country.

The locally mined uranium is supplied to generate electricity and also to power nuclear weapons capability. India currently has 22 operating nuclear power plants which have an installed capacity of 6,780 megawatts (MW). Of these, the two nuclear plants at Kudankulam in Tamil Nadu are run on uranium imported from Russia.

Russia will continue supplying uranium for the entire 60-year life of the atomic plants. Each 1,000 MW reactor of Kudankulam needs several tonnes of uranium to function round-the-clock.

"The plant is ready to supply fuel to Kudankulam on a long-term basis," Alexey V Zhiganin, the chief of Novosibirsk Chemical Concentrates Plant, the uranium processing facility in Russia's Siberia, told NDTV last month. "We are happy about the results of our co-operations and we have very good technical results of our nuclear fuel exportation to the nuclear reactor," he added.

ndtv.com/india-news/india-pak-exchange-list-of-nuclear-installations-under-30-year-old-pact-1794445

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Congress may push for making instant talaqbailable crime

TNN | Updated: Jan 1, 2018

NEW DELHI: Congress is thinking of diluting its demand that the 'criminalisation' clause be deleted from the triple talaq bill, as it finalises its stance in Rajya Sabha where the legislation will come up for consideration this week.

Sources said the party was veering towards asking the government that the provision in the triple talaq bill be made bailable. Clause 4 in the Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Bill, 2017, renders the offence 'non-bailable' with a prison term up to three years along with a fine.

The Congress believes that the penal provision, with an assured prison term for the offending husband, will hurt the interests of Muslim women by putting a spanner in finalisation of maintenance to be paid. Also, it will hurt the prospects of reconciliation among spouses.

However, sources said the leadership was keen to focus on the limited issue while supporting the rest of the legislation. The party is mulling if instead of railing against the penal provision, it should only demand that the offence be made 'bailable'.

Sources aware of in-house discussions told TOI that Congress president Rahul Gandhi does not want the party to appear as blocking the triple talaq bill. The stand is influenced in a big measure by the criticism that has dogged Congress since the Rajiv Gandhi government piloted a bill to nullify the Shah Bano judgment.

In Lok Sabha, which passed the bill last week, Congress lashed out against the 'criminalisation' clause and sought its vetting by a parliamentary committee.

However, when it came to voting on the bill, it did not back the amendments moved by either party MPs or by other 'secular' outfits.

Congress's position will be critical in the upper House where the Modi government lacks numbers and the opposition can make or mar passage of the contentious bill.

While a section of the Congress is adamant that the party back the bill - even drop the demand for its scrutiny by a parliamentary committee - a final decision may be influenced by the position that other opposition parties take.

If SP or BSP or the Left put pressure that the bill be sent to a parliamentary panel, concerns of opposition unity could force Congress's hand.

timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/congress-may-push-for-making-instant-talaq-bailable-crime/articleshow/62320300.cms

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On Mulayam Singh prodding, Muslims, Jats agree to take back riot cases

MohdDilshad | TNN | Updated: Jan 1, 2018, 12:32 ISTMUZAFFARNAGAR: Five days after a delegation of Jat and Muslim leaders from Muzaffarnagar met former UP chief minister and Samajwadi Party leader Mulayam Singh Yadav at his Delhi residence to use his influence over both the communities for a compromise, victims from both the communities in five riothit villages agreed to take back cases.

The people of the villages, Kutba, Kutbi, Purbaliyan, Kakda, Hadoli, which were the worst affected during the 2013 riots and where a dozen innocent people were killed during the violence, took the decision at a meeting held in Muzaffarnagar on Sunday. As a result of the compromise, 29 cases in these five villages will be withdrawn. Around 1,400 people from the region were booked under various cases during the riots that killed 63 and displaced more than 50,000 four years ago.

As reported first by TOI, more than 100 Muslims from Muzaffarnagar, including riot victims, and many prominent Jat leaders, including VipinBalian, president of RashtriyaJaatSanrakshanSamiti, had met the former defence minister on Tuesday. A committee, which will work under his direction and has riots victims as its members, was formed to work out resolution of these cases and bring back peace in the region. Ompal Nehra, former cabinet minister in the Akhilesh Yadav government, has been chosen to head the committee.

"As decided at Mulayam Singh's house in Delhi, people from five worst riot-hit villages agreed for a compromise on Sunday. Now, the residents will submit affidavits in courts on the next hearing. This compromise will lead to settlement of more cases in the region following years of unrest," said Balian.

Former Samajwadi Party MP Ameer Alam, SP MLA NawajishAlam, former BSP MP Kadir Rana and former Congress MP Harendra Singh Malik, who is a prominent Jat leader, were also present during the meeting held in Muzaffarnagar city on Sunday.

Mohammad Hassan, a riot victim from Kutba village who lost his mother in the riot, said, "I was at Mulayam Singh Yadav's house too. VipinBalian had invited me. Many other Jat and Muslim leaders who want peace in the region were also present there. I agree to their compromise formula."

timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/meerut/days-after-meeting-with-msy-muslims-jats-of-five-2013-riot-hit-villages-in-muzaffarnagar-agree-to-take-back-cases/articleshow/62317816.cms

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AsaduddinOwaisi questions PM Modi’s claim on Haj journey of Muslim women

Majlis-e-IttehadulMuslimeen chief, AsaduddinOwaisi disapproved claims by Prime Minister of India, Narendra Modi that he had facilitated Muslim women's travel for Haj without 'Mahram'. 'Mahram' is a male relative of a woman with whom she is permanently forbidden to marry by Islam. He said if PM Modi had so much concern for Muslim women, he should do justice to Zakia Jafri, the widow of former MP Ehsan Jafri who was killed in the 2002 Gujarat riots.

By IANS | Updated: 1 January 2018, 5:37 PM

MIM chief AsaduddinOwaisi on Monday rejected claims by Prime Minister Narendra Modi that he had facilitated Muslim women’s travel for Haj without ‘Mahram’. The Hyderabad MP said that a regulation by Haj authorities of Saudi Arabia was in force for many years which allow women above the age of 45 years to perform Haj without a ‘Mahram’ if they travel with a group. He told reporters here that women above 45 years of age from Indonesia, Malaysia and several other countries had been performing Haj under this Saudi regulation. ‘Mahram’ is a male relative of a woman with whom she is permanently forbidden to marry by Islam.

Modi in his ‘Mann Ki Baat’ speech on Sunday had said that his government had removed the restriction which allows Muslim women to perform Hajj only in the company of ‘Maharam’. He had stated that injustice was done to women for decades. “It has become the habit of the Prime Minister to claim credit for everything. If tomorrow women in Saudi Arabia are allowed to drive, he will claim credit for the same,” he said.

The MP said if Modi had so much concern for Muslim women, he should do justice to Zakia Jafri, widow of former MP Ehsan Jafri who was killed in the 2002 Gujarat riots. “This is all tokenism. If Modi is really concerned about Muslim women, he should provide 7% reservation for them in education. He has a two-thirds majority in Parliament and he can bulldoze a bill in this regard,” the MP said. On the passing of a bill in Lok Sabha over triple talaq, the Majlis-e-IttehadulMuslimeen (MIM) President said that if it became a legislation, it would be the biggest injustice to Muslim women.

He argued that since marriage in Islam was a civil contract, there could be no penal provision. He also pointed out that the Supreme Court in its order on the issue did not ask the government to bring a criminal law. “The government is saying that Muslim countries have banned triple talaq but the fact is that there is no penal provision in any Muslim country,” Owaisi alleged that the real objective of the government was to do away with all forms of talaq and snatch Sharia from Muslims.

The MP said abandonment of married women was a bigger problem than divorce. “The rate of abandonment is twice the rate of divorce. There are 24 lakh abandoned women and they include 20 lakh Hindu women, two lakh Muslim and 90,000 Christian women,” he said.”The married women should get their right to live with their husbands whether they are in Gujarat or in Delhi,” he said.

newsx.com/national/asaduddin-owaisi-questions-pm-modis-claim-haj-journey-muslim-women

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Pakistan

Pakistan Plans Takeover Of Organisations Run By Hafiz Saeed, Says Secret Document

World | Reuters | Updated: January 01, 2018

Pakistan denied that the action against Hafiz Saeed under US pressure. Saeed carries a $10 million US reward for information leading to his conviction over the Mumbai attacks.

Pakistan Plans Takeover Of Organisations Run By Hafiz Saeed, Says Secret Document

A Pakistani court has said it saw insufficient evidence to convict Hafiz Saeed for the Mumbai attacks.

Pakistan's government plans to seize control of so-called charities and financial assets linked to 26/11 Mumbai attacks mastermind Hafiz Saeed, according to officials and documents reviewed by Reuters.

The Pakistani government detailed its plans in a secret order to various provincial and federal government departments on December 19, three officials who attended one of several high-level meeting discussing the crackdown said.

Marked "secret", the document from Pakistan's finance ministry directed law enforcement and governments in the country's five provinces to submit an action plan by December 28 for a "takeover" of the Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JuD) and the Falah-e-Insaniat Foundation, both run by Hafiz Saeed.

The United States has labelled the JuD and FIF "terrorist fronts" for the Lashkar-e-Taiba, which attacked Mumbai in November 2008, killing 166 people. Washington has offered a $10 million reward for information leading to Saeed's conviction over the Mumbai attacks.

Saeed has repeatedly denied involvement in the Mumbai attacks and a Pakistani court saw insufficient evidence to convict him.

Hafiz Saeed was released from his house arrest last November.

The Dec 19 document, which refers to "Financial Action Task Force (FATF) issues", names only Saeed's two purported charities and "actions to be taken" against them.

The FATF, an international body that combats money laundering and terrorist financing, has warned Pakistan it faces inclusion on a watch list for failing to crack down on financing terrorism.

Asked about a crackdown on JuD and FIF, Interior Minister Ahsan Iqbal, who co-chaired one of the meetings on the plan, responded only generally, saying he has ordered authorities "to choke the fundraising of all proscribed outfits in Pakistan".

In a written reply to Reuters, he also said Pakistan wasn't taking action under US pressure. "We're not pleasing anyone. We're working as a responsible nation to fulfil our obligations to our people and international community."

Spokesmen for the JuD and FIF both said they could not comment until they receive official notifications of the government's plans. "We don't have any intimation about any crackdown so far," FIF spokesman Salman Shahid told Reuters. "No one has asked us about our work or assets."

Saeed could not be reached for comment. He has frequently denied having ties to terrorists and says the organisations he founded and controls have no terrorism ties. He says he promotes an Islamic-oriented government through doing good works.

First Major Move

If the government follows through with the plan, it would mark the first time Pakistan has made a major move against Saeed's network, which includes 300 seminaries and schools, hospitals, a publishing house and ambulance services. The JuD and FIF alone have about 50,000 volunteers and hundreds of other paid workers, according to two counter-terrorism officials.

Participants at the meeting raised the possibility that the government's failure to act against the organisations could lead to UN sanctions, one of the three officials said. A UN Security Council team is due to visit Pakistan in late January to review progress against UN-designated "terrorist" groups.

Hafiz Saeed has enjoyed flagrant impunity from his inflammatory speeches in Pakistan.

"Any adverse comments or action suggested by the team can have far-reaching implications for Pakistan," the official said.

The Dec 19th document gave few details about how the state would take over Saeed's outfits, pending the plans submitted from the provincial governments. It did say it would involve government entities taking over ambulance services and accounting for other vehicles used by the organisations.

It says law enforcement agencies will coordinate with Pakistan's intelligence agencies to identify the assets of the two outfits and examine how they raise money.

The document also directs that the name of JuD's 200-acre headquarters, Markaz-e-Taiba, near the eastern city of Lahore be changed to something else "to make it known that the Government of "Punjab (province) solely manages and operates the Markaz (headquarters)".

The move to seize the so-called charities could spark some concern from the powerful military, which has proposed plans to steer Saeed and the JuD into mainstream politics. The military did not respond to a request for comment.

In August, JuD officials formed a new political party, the Milli Muslim League, and backed candidates who fared relatively strongly in two key parliamentary by-elections.

Washington warned Islamabad of repercussions after a Pakistani court in late November released him from house arrest. Punjab's provincial government had put Saeed under house arrest for 10 months this year for violating anti-terrorism laws. He was released in November last year.

(By Asif Shahzad, additional reporting by DrazenJorgic; Editing by Bill Tarrant)

ndtv.com/world-news/pakistan-plans-takeover-of-organisations-run-by-hafiz-saeed-says-secret-document-1794405

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Hafiz Saeed calls for Jihad against the US

Jan 1, 2018, 04.45 PM (IST)

Jamaat-ud-Dawah (JuD) Chief and 26/11 Mumbai attack mastermind Hafiz Saeed continues to spread religious hatred from the Pakistan soil as he, recently, invited all Islamic states to launch 'Jihad' against the United States and Israel.

Hundreds of JuD activists participated in a rally 'TahafuzBaitulMuqaddas' at the Istanbul Chowk here. The event was attended by JuD leaders, including Hafiz Saeed and Abdul RehmanMakki.

The event was conducted in the wake of the US President Donald Trump-led administration unilaterally identifying and declaring Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

The Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) co-founder, while addressing the gathering, said, "The day Jerusalem (Bait-ul-Muqaddas) becomes the capital of Israel, a caravan of 'Jihad' will be launched. Pakistan's army chief General (Qamar Javed) Bajwa, Prime Minister ShahidKhaqanAbbasi and all leaders of the political parties need to unite. Pakistan's atomic bomb is the asset of `Islam', which should be used to free Jerusalem. This is my open announcement."

He added, "We should organise an Islamic conference to be attended by chiefs of the Islamic states to declare 'Jihad'. The influence of the ISIS will weaken and the conspiracy of the United States against Islam and holy war (Jihad) will come to an end."

The United Nations- and US-designated terrorist was recently released from house arrest after a Pakistani court cited lack of evidence against him in the Mumbai attack case.

Abdul RehmanMakki, the second in-command of the JuD, said: "May Allah almighty willing this 'Ghazwa-e-Hind' (Battle of Hind) and 'Ghazwa-e-Saleeb' (Battle of Christianity) will continue and this conference had pledged and promised they would wage jihad for Palestine like JuD had been waging Jihad in Kashmir."

Hafiz Saeed, who formed Milli Muslim League (MML), is planning to contest the 2018 general elections in Pakistan.

India has protested against Pakistan time and again for harbouring Saeed. He is wanted for allegedly plotting the Mumbai attacks that took place on November 26, 2008.

wionews.com/south-asia/hafiz-saeed-calls-for-jihad-against-the-us-28248

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Pakistan: 2017 saw big terrorist attacks on Shia mosques, shrines and Christian church

January 1, 2018 - 10:09 AM

Saudi-US backed Takfiris terrorists of Pakistan continued to attack Shia mosques, shrines saints and Christian’s church alongside massacring innocent people from Parachinar to Quetta throughout 2017.

(AhlulBayt News Agency) - Eidgah Market, Parachinar - January 21

The beginning of 2017 saw a deadly attack in Eidgah Market in Shia majority Parachinar city of Kurram Agency. Shia Muslims had gathered to buy and sell fruits and vegetables in the agency's major town when a powerful explosion struck leaving more than 25 Shia Muslims dead and over 60 injured.

The wounded were rushed to Agency Headquarters Hospital, but those with critical injuries had to be shifted to Peshawar as the facility in Parachinar lacked the material required for proper treatment.

However, the state of the hospital in Parachinar remained the same during emergency situations in the explosions that followed.

Charring Cross, Lahore - February 13

In February, Lahore fell target to terrorist designs when a suicide bomber detonated his explosive vest near the Punjab Assembly as hundreds of people gathered for a protest.

The Lahore blast claimed the lives of at least 14 people, including senior police officers.

The protest near the Punjab Assembly was being held by chemists and owners of medical stores against the drug rules imposed by the provincial government.

Lal ShahbazQalandar shrine, Sehwan - February 16

Hardly three days had passed since the Lahore incident when another powerful explosion took place in Sehwan city. On the evening of February 16, hundreds had gathered at the shrine of Lal ShahbazQalandar for the dhamaal – the place was jam-packed when a loud blast occurred.

The incident left at least 90 people dead and over 300 injured. Just like Parachinar, in Sehwan too, there was no proper health facility where blast victims could be treated, compounding the agony of the victims and their families.

Parachinar Shia Mosque/Imam Bargah - March 31

On March 31, terror returned to yet again to Parachinar. A busy marketplace outside a Shia mosque Imam Bargah was targeted by a powerful bomb explosion, killing at least 24 Shia Muslims and leaving 90 others injured.

This time too, locals said the injured persons and their attendants were faced with difficulties at the Agency Headquarters Hospital Parachinar due to the dearth of medical facilities and staff.

Bedian Road, Lahore - April 5

In April, Lahore was once again targeted by terrorists, this time a census team, escorted by Pakistan Army was the target.

At least six people were killed and 15 others were wounded when a suicide bomber detonated its explosives on Lahore’s Bedian Road.

While speaking to Geo News, a spokesperson for the Punjab government, Malik Ahmed Khan, had said the target seemed to be the census team and the soldiers accompanying them.

Mastung, Baluchistan - May 12

In May, it was Baluchistan that became the target of terror attacks not once, but multiple times in the months which followed.

On May 12, a suicide bomb blast targeting the convoy of a senior politician in Baluchistan killed at least 27 people while 30 others were injured.

The incident occurred in Mastung district of the province — not very far from the provincial capital — where a vehicle carrying Senate Deputy Chairperson Maulana Abdul GhafoorHaideri was struck by the blast.

The targeted person, Haideri, escaped the attack with light injuries but his driver and an aide were killed.

Turi Bazaar, Parachinar - June 24

For the third time in the year, another major attack took place in Parachinar, Kurram Agency.

This time, twin blasts occurred in the bustling Turi Bazaar area of Parachinar, where Shia Muslims were shopping for iftar and Eid, which was to be celebrated in most parts of the country the following day.

At least 45 Shia Muslims were killed and 300 others were wounded in the explosion. While speaking about the incident, a local official, Nasrullah Khan, had said the first explosive device detonated when the market was crowded with shoppers. He added the second blast took place when people rushed to the site to rescue the wounded. The twin blasts hit Parachinar just a day before Eid despite security arrangements being in place in the area.

KotLakhpat Lahore SabziMandi, Lahore - July 24

In July, it was Lahore again, when an explosion in a busy vegetable market claimed lives of at least 26 people, including nine policemen.

The attack was a suicide blast, the bomber detonated his explosives amid a crowd in KotLakhpatSabziMandi near Arfa Karim Software Technology Park on July 24.

The explosion came a few days after the Army started its operation, Khyber IV, in Rajgal Valley of Khyber Agency in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas.

Pishin bus stop, Quetta - August 13

After Eid celebrations were marred by violence, an attempt was also made ahead of Independence Day, with a huge suicide explosion targetting Pakistan Army personnel in Quetta.

At least eight army men were martyred and seven civilians killed in the blast that took place in a vehicle at Pishin bus stop on August 13.

The subsequent fire caused by the explosion took the surrounding vehicles into its folds.

JhalMagsi shrine, Baluchistan - October 5

After a month’s lull, the people of Baluchistan witnessed terrorism once again, a suicide blast at Fatehpur shrine in JhalMagsi district of the province on October targeted worshippers as they visited a Sufi shrine.

At least 20 people were killed and 33 others were injured when a suicide bomber blew himself up after he was intercepted by police guards on duty outside the shrine.

It was said that the shrine was packed with people at the time of the incident – many had gathered to attend the anniversary celebrations of Syed Cheezal Shah.

Directorate of Agriculture Extension, Peshawar - December 1

As the year neared its end, a students’ hostel was targeted in Peshawar, leaving nine dead and more than 30 injured.

Early in the morning on December 1, Directorate of Agriculture Extension on University Road, Peshawar was attacked by terrorists.

SSP Operations Sajjad Khan said five attackers wearing suicide jackets reached the compound in a rickshaw.

They were said to be wearing burqas in the rickshaw so as to avoid detection.

The police official said the attackers' first target was the security guard of the premises, following which they made their way inside towards the students' hostel of the Agriculture Training Institute, attacking whoever crossed their path.

Bethel Memorial Methodist Church, Quetta - December 17

A church in Quetta was attacked in the week leading up to Christmas, killing nine and injuring at least 50 others.

Bethel Memorial Methodist Church was hit by terrorists when a service was underway with at least 400 people in the hall for prayers.

Although the security personnel managed to stop the terrorist from wreaking havoc inside the church, families who lost their loved ones were left devastated regardless, not being able to celebrate Christmas the way they would have wanted to.

en.abna24.com/news/central-asia-subcontinent/pakistan-2017-saw-big-terrorist-attacks-on-shia-mosques-shrines-and-christian-church_875186.html

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North America

"No More!": Trump Says US Got Only "Lies" From Pak For Billions In Aid

World | Edited by DebanishAchom | Updated: January 01, 2018

US President Donald Trump said Pakistan has not given back anything despite the US giving it $33 billions in aid over the last 15 years

US President Donald Trump ripped into Pakistan on Monday, declaring on Twitter that American governments had over the last 15 years "foolishly" given 33 billion dollars in aid to Islamabad that gave "safe haven to the terrorists we hunt in Afghanistan".

"No more!" the US President tweeted, days after he had singled out Pakistan for criticism in announcing his national security strategy last month. "We make massive payments every year to Pakistan... They have to help," he had said at the launch of the security strategy just a few days earlier.

The use of a much harsher language in Donald Trump's tweet on Monday suggests an end to the debate within his administration and the decision to deliver on his threat to punish Islamabad for failing to cooperate on counter-terrorism. For now.

"The United States has foolishly given Pakistan more than 33 billion dollars in aid over the last 15 years, and they have given us nothing but lies & deceit, thinking of our leaders as fools. They give safe haven to the terrorists we hunt in Afghanistan, with little help. No more!" he tweeted.

The tweet comes against the backdrop of reports that the US was considering withholding $255 million in already delayed aid to Pakistan for its failure to crack down on terror groups in Pakistan.

US-Pakistani ties have chilled steadily under Mr Trump, who in August declared that "Pakistan often gives safe haven to agents of chaos, violence, and terror".

In December, Mr Trump had already hinted that he may cut off the aid for good, news agency AFP reported. "We make massive payments every year to Pakistan. They have to help," he said in unveiling his national security strategy.

The US said Pakistan has not acted against terror groups on its soil despite the US request

And last week, Vice President Mike Pence told American troops during a visit to Afghanistan: "President Trump has put Pakistan on notice."

In August last year, the US had warned an angry Pakistan that it could lose its status as a privileged military ally if it continues giving safe haven to Afghan terrorist groups. One day after President Donald Trump unveiled a new strategy to force the Taliban to negotiate a political settlement with the Kabul government, his top diplomat upped the heat on Islamabad.

Mr Trump had warned that Pakistan's support for the Afghan Taliban and the Haqqani terrorist network would have consequences, and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson had spelled these out.

"We have some leverage," Mr Tillerson had told reporters, as he fleshed out Mr Trump's speech, "in terms of aid, their status as a non-NATO alliance partner -- all of that can be put on the table."

As one of 16 "Non-NATO Major Allies," Pakistan benefits from billions of dollars in aid and has access to some advanced US military technology banned from other countries.

In 2017, the US already withheld $350 million in military funding over concerns Pakistan is not doing enough to fight terror, but the alliance itself was not in question.

ndtv.com/world-news/no-more-trump-says-us-got-only-lies-from-pak-for-billions-in-aid-1794453

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Muslim-Americans Face Challenges When Confronting Leader's Misconduct

January 1, 20185:03 AM ET

A prominent Dalled-based Muslim preacher has been caught up in allegations of sexual harassment. Clerics are looking into it. Ailsa Chang talks to BuzzFeed reporter Hannah Allam.

npr.org/2018/01/01/574933314/muslim-americans-face-challenges-when-confronting-leaders-misconduct

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US Airstrikes Claim More Lives in Eastern Syria

Mon Jan 01, 2018 2:0

The websites reported that the US warplanes targeted the small town of al-Souseh on the Western bank of the Euphrates River in Eastern DeirEzzur, killing 12 civilians and wounding several more.

The sources said that the entire victims, including five children and several women, were from a single family.

The websites added that the death toll will possibly rise due to the critical conditions of some of the injured.

In relevant developments in the province last week 10 civilians were killed and 9 others were injured in US air attacks on the town of Hajin in SoutheasternDeirEzzur.

Field sources  said that some of the injured were in critical health conditions.

en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13961011000444

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American Converts to Islam, Seeks 2nd Wife Terror Plot

January 1, 2018 | Daniel Greenfield

Another important reminder that while immigration is an important terror factor, the key problem is ideological. Islam is not a race. You can be born into the Jihad. But you can also join it. The number of terror converts in this country remains statistically significant.

Following an FBI raid of a Virginia home on Friday, new court documents show FBI investigators suspected the man living at the Loudoun County home of supporting ISIS and researching how to conduct an attack.

The suspect is Sean Andrew Duncan, a U.S. citizen from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania who had moved to Sterling, Virginia in June 2017.

A relative of Duncan's reportedly told investigators that he had had “converted to Islam, may have been radicalized, and voiced his approval of westerners being beheaded in the Middle East.”

That road led to ISIS.

Documents described how FBI investigators were able to track down Duncan through social media as well as encrypted message programs and apps.

They say Duncan had been using the Twitter handle "@DawlahtullIslaam" which "roughly translates to 'The Islamic State.'"

Investigators also describe Duncan's plans to travel to Turkey with his wife and make their way into Bangladesh. The two were denied entry to Turkey in February 2016, deported to the U.S. and questioned by the FBI upon return.

They say the phone also contained photos of machete knives. There were also searches for the "Black Flag" of ISIS and various assault rifles.

frontpagemag.com/point/268888/american-converts-islam-seeks-2nd-wife-terror-plot-daniel-greenfield

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FBI raids home of Pittsburgh man suspected of supporting Islamic State

By Ray Downs  |  Dec. 31, 2017 at 11:10 PM

The FBI on Friday raided the home of a Pittsburgh man suspected of supporting the Islamic State.

Sean Andrw Duncan was arrested for destroying evidence and obstructing an FBI investigation, according to a criminal complaint obtained by WJLA-TV. The incident occurred after FBI agents raided Duncan's home in Sterling, Penn.

"Moments before the FBI agents entered the residence through the front door, Duncan ran out the back door, barefoot, and with something clenched in his fist," the complaint states. "FBI agents guarding the back door yelled at Duncan to stop. Before stopping, Duncan threw a plastic baggie over the heads of the agents...The baggie was a clear, plastic Ziploc bag, containing a memory chip stored within a thumb drive that had been snapped into pieces and placed in a liquid substance that produced frothy white bubbles."

Duncan, a convert to Islam, had been on the FBI radar since at least February 2016 when a relative reported him to the FBI for allegedly voicing his approval of Islamic militants beheading westerners in the Middle East and planning a trip to Turkey with the intention of the Islamic State.

Duncan and his wife, who was not named in the criminal complaint, did travel to Turkey in February but were immediately deported back to the United States. When Duncan returned home, he deleted his Facebook account and changed his phone number.

Duncan also had a long correspondence with an "unnamed co-conspirator," primarily over encrypted text messages, with a female Islamic State supporter in the United States. According to the complaint, the conspirator expressed her dissatisfaction with female work colleagues wearing short dresses and Duncan sent her an article entitled, "How to make a bomb in the kitchen of your mom" from Inspire, an al-Qaida magazine.

The pair also reportedly told each other they support the Islamic State and discussed the possibility of traveling to Syria to join the terrorist organization.

FBI agents also searched Duncan's phone and found searches for body armor, military-style combat gear and other weapon-related terms.

upi.com/Top_News/US/2017/12/31/FBI-raids-home-of-Pittsburgh-man-suspected-of-supporting-Islamic-State/2231514775608/?utm_source=sec&utm_campaign=sl&utm_medium=1

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Arab World

More than 3,000 Yazidis still missing after collapse of Islamic State's self-styled caliphate

January 01, 2018 03:00 AM

BAADRA, Iraq

Kept as a slave by Islamic State militants, the mother prayed for her rescue and made a promise to God: If she ever saw her 10 children again, she would fast for three months to demonstrate her gratitude.

Her prayers were partially answered. In September, as the militants were being driven from their last strongholds in Iraq and Syria, she was freed and reunited with four daughters and a son. Her daylight fast has now come to an end.

But five other sons, along with her husband, are still missing.

"I honestly don't know what hope is anymore," said the woman, who asked to be identified only by her first name, Seve, so as not to endanger family members who might still be held captive. "There are very few places that haven't been liberated, and my children still aren't back."

Her family belongs to Iraq's Yazidi minority, followers of an ancient faith linked to Zoroastrianism that was targeted as heretical by the militants who overran its heartland near Mount Sinjar in August 2014.

Thousands of Yazidi men and teenage boys were killed, while more than 6,000 women and children were taken captive. Sold at slave markets or gifted between fighters, they were passed from owner to owner like chattel across Islamic State-held lands in Iraq and Syria. Girls as young as 9 were pressed into domestic and sexual servitude, and boys were indoctrinated and trained as fighters or suicide bombers.

The collapse of the militants' self-professed caliphate over the course of last year raised hopes for family reunions. But, according to a tally kept by authorities in Iraq's semiautonomous Kurdish zone, as of late December barely half of those taken captive had been freed or managed to escape.

Now that major combat operations against Islamic State have been declared over in Iraq and Syria, Yazidi activists fear that the world's attention has moved on and that the same powers they accuse of failing to avert a genocide three years ago have again forsaken their people.

"There is no one asking about the fate of more than 3,000 people," said Ahmed KhudidaBurjus, deputy executive director of the U.S.-based advocacy group Yazda. "We were expecting that the international community would do more to help save our community from extinction."

Human rights activists fear that many of the missing are dead – killed by their captors, used as suicide bombers or fighters, or caught in the crossfire as Islamic State battled local forces backed by U.S. and Russian air power. Cities such as Raqqa in Syria and Mosul in Iraq were pummeled for months, leaving neighborhoods in ruis.

But Yazidi activists – including smugglers who have pulled off hundreds of daring rescues – are convinced that others are still being held by Islamic State fighters or their families.

As cities came under assault, the militants often moved their families and household slaves to areas they still controlled. There were also captive Yazidis mixed in with the tens of thousands of civilians who fled the fighting.

KhaleelAldakhi believes hundreds could still be alive – and he's trying to find them.

A lawyer married to a former member of the Iraqi parliament, he used his extensive contacts to set up one of several Yazidi rescue networks that operate out of the northern Iraqi city of Dahuk.

His collaborators would find opportune moments – often when the militants were at prayer – to sneak away with their captives. Those who were caught were beheaded.

The job became more difficult as Islamic State lost its territory and militants went underground. But Aldakhi said his network still averages two or three rescues a week, many of them captives brought to Syria by fighters driven out of Iraq. A few wound up in Turkey with Islamic State families.

On a recent evening, Aldakhi was drinking tea at a local cafe when his cellphone lit up. It was a WhatsApp message from a Sudanese fighter who was holding a teenage Yazidi girl in the northwestern Syrian province of Idlib.

The fighter wanted to sell the girl back to her family so he could use the money to escape to Turkey. "If you swear to Allah that you won't give my information to anyone, I will bring the Yazidi girl out," he wrote in Arabic.

Aldakhi gave his word, then laughed. He is Yazidi and wasn't bothered about an oath to Allah. His only concern was for the man's captive.

He called a contact in Syria and told him to do whatever it would take to get the girl into territory held by Kurdish militias – the United States' principal ally in northern Syria in the fight against Islamic State.

"Do it tonight. What happens to the Daesh guy, I don't care," Aldakhi said, using a derisive term in Arabic for Islamic State.

He is still waiting for word about whether the girl was rescued.

That same morning, he had delivered a 10-year-old boy named Zedan to his parents at a camp for displaced Yazidis outside Dahuk.

Zedan was captured with his grandmother after their car crashed as they tried to escape the fighters who attacked their village. Relatives assumed both were killed. But a year later, Zedan's father received a furtive call from a captive relative who had seen the boy with an Islamic State family in the Iraqi city of Tall Afar.

The father, KhalafKhodeida, met with government officials and aid groups, and he reached out to activists such as Aldakhi with contacts behind Islamic State lines. No one could locate the boy.

News of Tall Afar's capture by Iraqi forces in August revived his hopes, but there was still no word of Zedan. Then on Nov. 4, Khodeida received a text message from a stranger offering to return Zedan if someone could come pick him up in Syria.

It turned out Zedan's captors had taken him to the town of Mayadeen, one of Islamic State's last refuges there. The man who called was a neighbor who took pity on the unkempt little boy he saw running barefoot in the street and somehow managed to spirit him away from his captors.

Zedan couldn't remember his parents' names or where they were from. So the neighbor shared pictures of the boy on social media, hoping someone would recognize him. That's how he eventually got Khodeida's number.

"We thought our son was dead," Khodeida said, "and now he has been reborn."

Aldakhi recorded video of the reunion on his phone. In the clips, relatives crowd around Zedan, offering candy and kisses. The shy little boy in a green-and-gray hoodie appears confused. He no longer understands his native Kurdish, only the languages of his captors, Turkmen and a little Arabic.

He is led to an elderly man sitting on a plastic chair: his grandfather. The man embraces the boy four times and starts to cry.

"The grandfather told me I have only one wish, to see my grandson before I die," Aldakhi said. "I got his wish done."

Tales like these sustain Seve as she waits for news of her children.

She lives in a sparsely furnished house lent by fellow Yazidis in the village of Baadra, near Dahuk, in Iraq's northern Kurdish zone. Her own home, in the farming community of Hardan, was destroyed by an airstrike after Islamic State took over the Sinjar region.

Seve's eldest daughter, who is married and lived in another village, managed to escape the militants, joining a massive exodus to the Dahuk region, to the north. But fighters took Seve's husband and two adult sons at gunpoint. Seve and the rest of her family were bused from one crowded prison to the next, where they were starved and beaten until they were sold off.

Three daughters – 19, 17 and 13 at the time – were the first to be dragged away. Then her mother-in-law, daughter-in-law and newborn grandson.Seve and the four boys, ages 5 to 12, were sold to a Saudi Arabian fighter who brought them to his 19-year-old sister and her husband in Mosul as domestic help.

The young woman told Seve she considered the boys like her own. If one of them wanted potato chips, Seve said, the woman, who never left home unarmed, would pick up her rifle and go buy chips.

"Daesh was very, very bad," Seve said. "But there were some who were better than others."

But the couple also told the boys that their parents were infidels; they forced the family to memorize passages from the Koran and pray five times a day.

When Seve was told the two older boys were going to be enrolled in a "military institute," she cried for days. She knew if her sons learned to handle weapons, they would be forced to fight.

After about six months, the couple sold Seve and the boys to another family who could not afford to keep them together. They took photographs of the children and posted them at checkpoints and military bases, until one by one, they were sold off.

The youngest, Saidou, was 6 when he was taken from Seve, who screamed and threatened to kill herself. The slave trader just laughed.

She eventually ended up cooking and cleaning for a couple in Raqqa, Islamic State's would-be capital in Syria. When that city came under assault, they brought her to Mayadeen. When it looked like Mayadeen too would fall, the couple decided to sell her back to her family.

They demanded $17,000, far more than Seve thought her relatives could afford. But they went door to door until they had raised the money. Smugglers were enlisted to drive Seve to a nearby village, where she caught a ride with civilians who were fleeing to Kurdish territory. A brother and other relatives picked her up from there.

To Seve's amazement, Saidou was with them in the car. His captors had sold him back to the family for $10,000 last year. Two daughters had also been rescued, found by Iraqi forces after being abandoned during the fighting in Mosul. But the family had to borrow more than $30,000 to smuggle Seve's mother-in-law, daughter-in-law, grandson and another daughter out of Islamic State territory.

The Kurdish regional government reimbursed most of the family's expenses. But it is in the midst of a financial crisis and has not yet reimbursed anything for Seve's rescue. She wonders how she and her family will repay their creditors or rebuild their lives.

"If I had my boys back, they would do something for us, but I don't know if they're still alive," she said, fighting back tears. "The world doesn't make sense if your children aren't around you."

(Special correspondent BawarIhsan in Dahuk, Iraq, contributed to this report. This story was reported with a grant from the United Nations Foundation.)

miamiherald.com/news/nation-world/world/article192435659.html

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Syria: Terrorists in Idlib Issue Distress Call to Comrades

Mon Jan 01, 2018 1:0

The sources said that the army men, backed up by the artillery and missile units, continued to hit the positions of Al-Nusra Front (Tahrir al-Sham Hay'at or the Levant Liberation Board) in SoutheasternIdlib and captured Khowein al-Kabir region.

Also, the Syrian Air Force pounded terrorists' movements and positions in Khowein al-Kabir, al-Latamina and Kafr Zita, inflicting major losses on the terrorists, they added.

In the meantime, the militant-affiliated websites reported that Commander of Jeish al-Mujahedeen of Ahrar al-Sham Abu Bakr has asked other terrorist groups to assist them to slow down the army's rapid advances in Hama and Idlib.

Relevant reports said on Sunday that the army troops backed by air force and artillery units took control of train station, Tilial, Zatari and Tal SakikinNortheastern Hama.

The battlefield sources disclosed that the Syrian army destroyed the terrorists' defense lines in Southern Idlib, and advanced towards the town of Morek and al-Tamanna.

The sources also said that the Syrian army will be able to lay siege on al-Tamanna from three directions after taking control of Morek town.

en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13961011000171

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Ansarullah: Saudi Arabia, UAE Failed to Divide Yemenis

on Jan 01, 2018 1:56

Mohammad al-Bukhaiti, a member of the movement's Political Council, made the remarks to Lebanon's al-Mayadin TV, the channel reported on Monday.

Bukhaiti added that Ansarullah was trying to establish communication with other Yemeni political groupings, adding the movement was holding meetings with officials from Yemen's General People's Congress and al-Islah political parties.

He stressed that Saudi Arabia and the UAE had approached a number of officials with the parties, but had not succeeded in their goal to sow division in the ranks of the allied groups.

Saudi Arabia has been striking Yemen since March 2015 to restore power to fugitive president Mansour Hadi, a close ally of Riyadh. The Saudi-led aggression has so far killed at least 15,300 Yemenis, including hundreds of women and children.

Despite Riyadh's claims that it is bombing the positions of the Ansarullah fighters, Saudi bombers are flattening residential areas and civilian infrastructures.

According to several reports, the Saudi-led air campaign against Yemen has driven the impoverished country towards humanitarian disaster, as Saudi Arabia's deadly campaign prevented the patients from travelling abroad for treatment and blocked the entry of medicine into the war-torn country.

en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13961011000667

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Over 2,000 Terrorists Deploy in Hama, Idlib to Slow down Syrian Army Advances

Mon Jan 01, 2018 1:24

The sources said that over 2,000 militants have been dispatched to Northeastern Hama and SoutheasternIdlib to face the army troops that are advancing in the region.

The sources further said that most of the terrorists have deployed in their key bases in Morek, al-Latamina, Kafr Zita and Khan Sheikhoun. 

Relevant reports said on Sunday that the army troops backed by air force and artillery units took control of train station, Tilial, Zatari and Tal SakikinNortheastern Hama.

The battlefield sources disclosed that the Syrian army destroyed the terrorists' defense lines in Southern Idlib, and advanced towards the town of Morek and al-Tamanna.

The sources also said that the Syrian army will be able to lay siege on al-Tamanna from three directions after taking control of Morek town.

en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13961011000381

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FSA Commander Assassinated amid Intensifying Tensions with Rival Terrorists in Dara'a

Mon Jan 01, 2018 2:27

The websites reported that one of the field commanders of the FSA-affiliated AnkhalShohadaBrigadd was gunned down by unknown attackers in the town of Jasim in WestnerDara'a, adding that another commander was injured in the shooting.

The websites further said that the FSA engaged in heavy infighting with ISIL in the town of Saham al-Joulan in Western Dara'a.

In the meantime, the FSA-affiliated groups gave a month to the ISIL terrorists deployed in Hawz al-Yarmouk to cut relations with the ISIL and join the FSA.

Informed sources said on Saturday that the terrorist groups started abducting civilians in the Southern province of Dara'a to later demand their families to pay a hefty amount of money.

A fresh wave of insecurity and tension has covered terrorist-held regions in Dara'a province, the sources said, adding that kidnapping civilians and plundering their properties by the terrorists have increased in the region in an unprecedented manner.

The sources said that terrorists abduct civilians and then ask their families to pay $200,000-250,000 in ransom.

en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13961011000703

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Imam Khamenei's envoy meets Hezbollah al-Nujaba leader in Iraq

January 1, 2018 - 12:37 PM

(AhlulBayt News Agency) - Iranian Leader’s Representative in Iraq and Syria, Ayatollah Hosseini, met and talked with Harakat Hezbollah al-Nujaba Leader Sheikh Akram al-Kaabi.

At the joint meeting held at the headquarters of Nojaba Islamic Resistance (NRI) Party in Iraq, the two sides felicitated recent victories over ISIL terrorists by Resistance forces and appreciated their significant role in defending their homeland and holy beliefs.

Harakat al-Nujaba Islamic Resistance Secretary-General Sheikh Akram al-Kaabi, for his part, welcomed Leader’s envoy to Iraq and voiced satisfaction over SeyedMojtaba Hosseini presence. He later conveyed grateful appreciation of Iraqi nation and Resistance groups for support received from Iran’s Leader Ayatollah Khamenei as well as the Iranian government and nation.

Iran’s SeyedMojtaba Hosseini acknowledged bravery of Iraqi volunteers and popular mobilization groups in the battle against Takfiri terrorism and, in particular, praised the Najbah Islamic Resistance for its simultaneous presence in Iraq and Syria to defend the holy shrines.

en.abna24.com/news/middle-east/imam-khameneis-envoy-meets-hezbollah-al-nujaba-leader-in-iraq_875192.html

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Turkish Air Defense Units Deploy Near SDF Positions in Northern Syria

Mon Jan 01, 2018 2:12

The militant-affiliated Arabic-language Anab al-Baladi reported that the Turkish troops embarked on deploying an air defense system in the town of Dar al-Izzah in Western Aleppo near the town of Afrin.

It added that the Turkish army has positioned MIM-23 HAWK missile system, telecommunication equipment and radars in Dar al-Izzah near Afrin.

Dissident-affiliated websites reported on Saturday that the Turkish Army forwarded another military column to Western Aleppo to enhance its forces for an imminent operation against the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) in Afrin.

The news websites reported that another convoy of the Turkish military vehicles left the village of KafrLoseen and crossed the border into Syria's Idlib.

The websites further said that the convoy, consisting of several personnel carriers and cargo vehicles and engineering machinery, moved to the positions of the Turkish army troops in Afrin region in Western Aleppo.

en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13961011000634

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Syria: SDF Transfers More Terrorists from DeirEzzur to Hasaka

Mon Jan 01, 2018 1:2

The SOHR said that over 40 ISIL terrorists - that had surrendered to the SDF in SoutheasternDeirEzzur - have been transferred to Hasaka via Northern DeirEzzur.  

A Turkish daily reported on Sunday that the US forces deployed in Syria transfer a large number of ISIL commanders and senior members to the safe areas and military bases controlled by the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) in the country.

The Turkish-language Sabah newspaper reported that the ISIL commanders and terrorists are transferred to the SDF bases to undergo advanced trainings to carry out terrorist acts.

It quoted the local sources as saying that the US helicopters, carrying the ISIL commanders, land in the SDF bases in DeirEzzur and Hasaka mostly mid night.

en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13961011000219

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SDF Suffers Casualties in Clashes with Turkey-Backed Militants in Northern Syria

Mon Jan 01, 2018 2:

The Turkey-backed Thowar al-Shoyoukh Battalion affiliated to the Free Syrian Army stormed the positions of the SDF in al-Tokhar near the al-Sajor River near the town of Manbij in Northeastern Aleppo and managed to prevail over their strongholds.

A number of the SDF fighters were killed and tens of others were wounded in the clashes.

Also, two SDF fighters, along with their weapons and equipment, were captured by the Ankara-backed militants.

Dissident-affiliated websites reported on Saturday that the Turkish Army forwarded another military column to Western Aleppo to enhance its forces for an imminent operation against the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) in Afrin.

The news websites reported that another convoy of the Turkish military vehicles left the village of KafrLoseen and crossed the border into Syria's Idlib.

The websites further said that the convoy, consisting of several personnel carriers and cargo vehicles and engineering machinery, moved to the positions of the Turkish army troops in Afrin region in Western Aleppo.

en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13961011000562

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Madinah Capital of Islamic tourism 2017 activities concluded

Monday 1439/4/14 - 2018/01/01

Madinah, Rabi'II 14, 1439, January 01, 2018, SPA -- “Madinah Capital of Islamic tourism 2017” concluded here yesterday its year full of activities, programs, and events.

Secretary General of Organization of Islamic Cooperation Dr. Yousef bin Ahmad Al-Othaimeen praised the success achieved in “Madinah Capital of Islamic tourism 2017''.

spa.gov.sa/viewfullstory.php?lang=en&newsid=1704457

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Military operation launched to pursuit Islamic State in Diyala province

by Mohammed Ebraheem | Jan 1, 2018, 11:08 am

Diyala (Iraqinews.com) – A wide-scale military operation was launched on Monday to pursuit Islamic State at al-Nada area in Diyala, a military commander said.

Speaking to Alghad Press, Tigris Operations Commander Lt. Gen. Mozher al-Azzawi said, “Joint troops, backed by Iraqi Air Force and Popular Mobilization Forces, launched in the wee hours of Monday a wide-scale military operation from two axes, targeting Islamic State hotbeds at al-Nada area in Diyala.”

Azzawi added that the intelligence-based operation comes as part of the command’s strategy to eliminate Islamic State throughout the province. “The operation was launched upon accurate intelligence reports,” he pointed out.

On Sunday, Popular Mobilization Forces killed 13 Islamic State militants and destroyed five of their hotbeds in a security campaign in northeasternDiyala.

The troops also seized an arms depot for the terrorist group in Diyala as well.

Thousands of IS militants as well as Iraqi civilians were killed since a government campaign, backed by paramilitary troops and a U.S.-led international coalition, was launched in October 2016 to fight the militant group, which declared a self-styled “caliphate” from Mosul in June 2014.

Since then, forces took back the group’s former capital, Mosul, the town of Tal Afar, Kirkuk’s Hawija, and each of Annah, Rawa and Qaim in Anbar.

The war against IS has so far displaced at least five million people. Thousands others fled toward neighboring countries including Syria, Turkey and other European countries.

iraqinews.com/iraq-war/military-operation-launched-pursuit-islamic-state-diyala-province/

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South Asia

Taliban leader in charge of suicide attacks killed in Helmand

By Khaama Press - Mon Jan 01 2018, 2:06 pm

A senior Taliban leader who was in charge of the suicide attacks has been killed in an airstrike in southern Helmand province of Afghanistan.

According to the local officials, the Taliban leader Mawlavi Ahmad Masroor, was killed along with fifteen others in Greshk district.

The officials further added that the airstrike was carried out late on Sunday evening and as a result two other senior Taliban leaders were also killed.

The provincial government media office in a statement confirmed that the airstrike was carried out in Shoraki area.

The statement further added that the two other senior Taliban leaders killed in the airstrike has been identified as Mullah Sediqullah and MawlaviSajad.

The airstrike was carried out as the Taliban insurgents were looking to shift six suicide bombers to Nahr-e-Saraj district, the statement added.

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

Helmand is among the volatile provinces in southern Afghanistan where the Taliban insurgents are actively operating in its various districts and frequently carry out insurgency activities.

khaama.com/taliban-leader-in-charge-of-suicide-attacks-killed-in-helmand-04165

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Taliban’s huge cache of heavy weapons discovered in Wardak province

By Khaama Press - Mon Jan 01 2018, 3:52 pm

A huge cache of heavy weapons and ammunition belonging to the Taliban group has been discovered in central MaidanWardak province of Afghanistan.

The provincial police commandment in a statement said the cache was discovered during an operation conducted in Syedabad district.

The statement further added that the cache includes several types of weapons and heavy ammunition including artillery rounds.

The provincial police chief Gen. FahimQayem said the militants were looking to use the weapons to carry out a series of attacks in Wardak province.

However, he said the Afghan security forces managed to thwart their attack plans by seizing the cache where heavy weapons were stored for the attacks.

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

MaidanWardak is among the relatively volatile provinces in central parts of the country, located close to capital Kabul.

The anti-government armed militants are actively operating in its various districts and often carry out insurgency activities, mainly in the districts lying along the highway connecting Kabul with the southeastern and southern provinces.

khaama.com/talibans-huge-cache-of-heavy-weapons-discovered-in-wardak-province-04168

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Tens of Terrorists Expelled from Southwestern Damascus, Israeli Plan for Golan Heights Fails

Mon Jan 01, 2018 12:24

The Arabic-language al-Mayadeen reported that 205 of Al-Nusra gunmen have left Beit Jinn region in Southwestern Damascus for Dara'a and Idlib provinces after the Syrian Army advances in the region.

Al-Mayadeen further said that withdrawal of terrorists from the region pushed into failure an Israeli plan to create a buffer zone to prevent the return of the Syrian Army troops to the occupied Golan Heights' borderline.

Relevant reports said on Saturday that tens of terrorists laid down their arms and joined the ceasefire regime and left Southwestern Damascus towards Idlib and Dara'a provinces.

Nearly all the terrorists who had demanded to leave Southwestern Damascus were relocated together with their families from Beit Jen to Idlib and Dara'a provinces within the framework of an agreement with the Syrian army.

A sum of 65 terrorists together with their families left Beit Jen towards Idlib province on four buses.

Meantime, 106 terrorists along with their families left Beit Jen towards Idlib on six buses.

Battlefield sources also reported that Al-Nusra Front terrorists set fire to their headquarters and military hardware before leaving Southwestern Damascus.

Meantime, army sources said that the militants who intend to remain in Beit Jen will have their cases dealt with in coming days.

en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13961011000133

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Southeast Asia

Najib: Malaysia committed to being leading global voice for Islam

By ARNAZ M. KHAIRUL | January 1, 2018 @ 5:28pm

KUALA LUMPUR: Datuk Seri NajibRazak today reiterated Malaysia's committment towards being a leading global voice for Islam and its followers.

In his first post of the year on his blog najibrazak.com, the prime minister said this was clearly evident in Malaysia's strong stand against the United States' recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital city, as well as the nation's stand against the atrocities on by the Rohingya in Myanmar.

"Among the recent issues was the United States' recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. Malaysia is strongly against this. Never will we agree. I have repeatedly stated our stand at the Umno general assembly, the OIC extraordinary meeting in Istanbul and at the Save Jerusalem Solidarity Gathering," Najib wrote.

He said the atrocities against the Rohingya were also episodes that deeply affected Muslims here, thus Malaysia had played its role as vocal critics in raising the issues not just on Asean platform, but also globally.

"We have extended continuous aid to ease the suffering of the Rohingya, also opening our doors for some of them to share the peace and stability in Malaysia, while the Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh and Myanmar continue to receive various forms of aid from Malaysia," said Najib.

He said that in February, through non-governmental organisation (NGO) YayasanIkhlas, RM172,500 in financial aid was delivered via a Bangladeshi NGO to Rohingya refugees at the Kutupalog and Balukhali camps in Bangladesh.

In September, Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi oversaw the delivery of humanitarian aid worth RM4 million in goods and equipment to be distributed to Rohingya refugees at the Bangladesh border.

"Then, 12 tonnes of food and essential goods such as disposable diapers, towels, rice and biscuits were sent to Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh through a joint humanitarian aid mission by the Armed Forces, Prime Minister's Office and NGO 1M4U," said Najib.

The Malaysian Consultative Council of Islamic Organisation (MAPIM) and other Islamic NGOs from Malaysia had also sent aid in the form of food and medicine worth RM200,000 to over 140,000 Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh.

The Malaysian Medical Aid Association (Mercy Malaysia) had also opened a mobile clinic at the refugee camps in Thangkali and Kutupaling, while also providing food.

"Apart from the continuous delivery of aid, the government had also established the Medan Hospital at a cost of RM3.5 million, equipped with 50 beds and with the capacity to treat 150 patients at any given time. It is also equipped with to perform surgeries, X-rays and maternal care in Cox's Bazaar, Bangladesh," said Najib.

"The Medan Hospital was established to provide medical care for Rohingya refugees, including screenings for pregnant women."

Najib said Malaysia will continue to provide aid to Muslims in Palestine and Myanmar, but in order for the atrocities and discrimination to truly end, Muslims in Malaysia and across the world need to stand united.

nst.com.my/news/nation/2018/01/320392/najib-malaysia-committed-being-leading-global-voice-islam

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Mustapha Emphasises Importance Of Education For Muslims

Last update: 01/01/2018

KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 1 (Bernama) -- Malaysia International NGO head Datuk Dr Mustapha Ahmad Marican in a statement today said education must be emphasised among Muslims in an effort to develop an advanced and competitive Muslim community.

He said students of religious schools also had the opportunity to pursue higher education and contribute to the religion as well as other fields.

Mustapha has voiced the idea during his visit to the site of new religious school, Sekolah Agama DarulAman in Cambodia, located about 350km from capital Phnom Penh, and 5 km from the border with Vietnam.

The 0.1 hectare site, located adjacent to the school's original building will take USD 30,000 to build, and the amount is being sponsored by Terengganu Government linked company, Terengganu Inc.

The new school, which is expected to be completed by the middle of this year, will provide better facilities for students and will follow the primary religious school education standard in Malaysia.....

bernama.com/bernama/v8/ge/newsgeneral.php?id=1423721

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Europe

Young Glaswegian Muslims take to the streets for new year clean up

Volunteers from the Ahmadiyya Muslim Youth Association will be out on the streets again today helping to clean up Glasgow.

11:04, 1 JAN 2018

A group of young Muslim volunteers will be out in Glasgow today on a huge clean-up operation to start the new year.

The youngsters are members of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Youth Association with the Glasgow clean-up part of a nationwide plan involving other groups in cities like London, Cardiff, Birmingham, Manchester and Newcastle.

They say it is part of "our religious and civic duty" to help tackle the "£1billion public cost" of littering in the UK.

They also hope that others in the wider community join them in the big clean up.

Glasgow's Ahmadiyya Muslim community organises a number of civic and voluntary drives in the city throughout the year and has repeatedly sent out messages of love and unity in the wake of terror attacks.

During their clean up on New Year's Day last year they also gave out food, clothes and other supplies to homeless people in Glasgow.

The Ahmadiyya Muslim community is well established in Glasgow and has a base in the west end of the city, near Kelvingrove Park. Their beliefs differ from those of other Muslims and they have worked hard to raise awareness of who they are and what they believe, particularly since the tragic murder of popular shopkeeper Asad Shah byreligious extremist, Tanveer Ahmed, in 2016.

Sending out a New Year's message to the city last night members of Glasgow's Ahmadiyya community said: "Ahmadiyya Muslim Community in #Scotland extends its best wishes for a healthy and prosperous #NewYear. May God grant you peace and happiness in the coming year #HappyNewYear2018 #LoveForAllHatredForNone"

glasgowlive.co.uk/news/glasgow-news/young-glaswegian-muslims-take-streets-14099180

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Seminar on 'Islamic Revolution' will be organized in Austria

January 1, 2018 - 11:54 AM

(AhlulBayt News Agency) - A seminar titled “Islamic Revolution and Cultural, Social Reforms” will be organized by the Iranian Cultural Center in Austria on January 20, 2018.

According to the website of the Islamic Culture and Relations Organization, the program has been planned on the occasion of the Ten-Day Fajr (Dawn) festival.

The Institute for Human and Islamic Sciences of Vienna will host the seminar.

Reforms in view of Quran and Imam Khomeini (RA), Ijtihad (endeavor to deduce the rules of Sharia from the sources of fiqh) as a reforming approach in the field of politics and society in the 20th century and social justice, capital system and economic principles in view of Islam are the themes of the program.

Mohammad Razavirad, Marcus Fidler and Catherine Berezansky will be the speakers of the seminar.

Led by Imam Khomeini (RA), Iran’s Islamic Revolution achieved victory in February 1979.

en.abna24.com/news/europe/seminar-on-islamic-revolution-will-be-organized-in-austria_875191.html

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Irish man converts to Islam in Imam Reza Holy Shrine

Sun 31 December 2017 - 14:58

Desmond Bern is an Irish young man who lived in London. After visiting Iran he got interested in Islam and searched for the main printed sources of the religion to know more. During his visit to the Razavi Holy Shrine, he accepted Shia Islam by stating the declaration of faith.

“I hope to learn more about the religion of Shia Islam,” said the young Irish man who has picked the Islamic name of Reza for himself. He said that the attractions of Islam were the main motives of him in this move.

“The Iranian-Islamic art is full of spirit and mesmerizes the viewers,” said Mr. Bern, who is an engineer and a construction designer.

An official of the holy shrine of Imam Reza said that in the past years the social networks and communications offered by the Internet have made it easy for many “truth seekers” to get familiar with Islam.

Seyyed Mohammad JavadHasheminejad, the Director for the non-Iranian pilgrims made the remarks during the ceremony.

“The enemies of Islam made huge efforts to depict Islam as a religion of horror and hate but they failed to achieve this goal,” said Mr. Hasheminejad referring to the letter of Iranian Leader Ayatollah Khamenei to the youth of Europe and America.

en.mehrnews.com/news/130794/Irish-man-converts-to-Islam-in-Imam-Reza-Holy-Shrine

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Australia

Eradicating Islam can’t be achieved in a democracy

The Australian | 12:00AM January 1, 2018

Congratulations to Chris Kenny for his perceptive analysis of Islamist ideology and the failure of our politicians and security agencies to deal with it (“Dance with an enemy we dare not name”, 30/12). At the very least Muslim preachers should be required to expunge from editions of the Koran distributed or sold in Australia all the injunctions for the deliberate killing of infidels, apostates and homosexuals.

Prospective Muslim immigrants or refugees seeking entry to Australia or permanent residency should be required to swear an oath that they reject these injunctions.

No other religion demands the killing of dissenters, so why should Islam be allowed to get away with this incitement to murder which is not merely theoretical but put into practice by its most devout followers?

Babette Francis, Toorak, Vic

Chris Kenny’s logic and intent, in regard to the rationale for reproaching the root cause — the Islamist cause — of terrorism on Australian soil cannot be faulted: “Unpalatable as they are, we must start with the facts.” No problem can ever be solved if first those facts that identify the truth as to its nature and substance are not fully acknowledged. But his conclusion may have shed some light on why governments and security agencies are so reluctant to identify the truth of the Islamist terrorism problem as it exists in every Western nation:

“(It) cannot truly be defeated until the ideology itself is exposed, confronted and eradicated.”

Once exposed, it would have to be confronted; and once confronted, it would have to be eradicated. But how can the guardians of a liberal democracy eradicate an evil carried by an imported people whom it now has an inherent obligation to protect?

Mark Dyer, Rockingham, WA

Chris Kenny names it: we should accept that the Islamist aim of disrupting society by targeting infidels and innocents cannot be defeated until the ideology itself is exposed, confronted and eradicated.

What do Malcolm Turnbull, Bill Shorten and Richard Di Natale know about Islam? Bugger all. As a result, they are putting Australians at risk and I resent that. Islam can be interpreted peacefully. That is a valid interpretation of the Koran. Islam can also be interpreted violently. And no Muslim can say to another, your interpretation is incorrect. Muslims can say, your interpretation is not mine.

Islam’s claims must be questioned in the clear light of reason. If not, political expediency and the nonsense of political correctness will be the means by which victory will be handed to this ideology on a platter.

Phillip Turnbull, Cornelian Bay, Tas

Chris Kenny summarised the solution to Australia’s pressing issues with Islamist extremism as exposure, confrontation and eradication.

Our compassionate, democratic values have skilled us in the politically correct art of not seeing. And eradication is a potent word. However, unlike a theology, it is realistic to challenge the ideas that reflect Islamist beliefs and political systems.

Of equal and critical concern is Kenny’s initial point, that the main aim of Islamic extremists is global dominance. While this may be clear, there is no simple solution. Along with effective measures at home, Australia should consider its role within a complex global power play. Close relationships with allies and minimum military interference, plus humanitarian and financial functions, would assist in development of effective Islamic states and institutions.

Roslyn Smith, Middle Park, Qld

Chris Kenny is wrong to criticise political leaders and police in Victoria for not calling out the Flinders Street atrocity as an act of Islamic terror before the investigation is concluded.

Terrorists are in the business of causing terror. Headlines about Islamic acts of terror create more terror. This is the last thing we should do.

As explained by authorities such responses also drive informants away. Police depend very much on the community for intelligence to pre-empt acts of terror.

It is easy to be outraged by the fact that the alleged perpetrator in this instance was a refugee from Afghanistan given succour by the generosity of our country. Let us not forget that homegrown citizens are just as capable of committing such terrible acts. We must do all we can to protect our people. Just avoid the trap of perpetuating the fear so terrorism can’t win.

theaustralian.com.au/opinion/letters/eradicating-islam-cant-be-achieved-in-a-democracy/news-story/3f13c28b0c184a44ac7acb3f00d36c5c

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Africa

DRC: Death Toll Rises in Anti-Government Protests

Mon Jan 01, 2018 12:29

At least seven people were killed on Sunday after opposition leaders and Catholic protesters rallied in the capital, Kinshasa, and other localities demanding that President Joseph Kabila step down, Al-Jazeera reported.

State police and military officials in Kinshasa "repressed peaceful protesters", a coalition of human rights groups said, leading to deaths, injuries and the arbitrary arrests of individuals who joined the demonstrations.

Security forces also arrested several people and fired tear gas into churches.

Tensions have been high in the DRC since Kabila refused to relinquish power after his second term as President expired in December 2016. Anti-government protests at that time led to tens of deaths and hundreds of arrests.

The President made an agreement with opposition leaders last year, brokered by the Catholic church, to hold elections some time this year. Signed in October 2016, the Saint Sylvestre Accord stipulated that presidential, legislative and provincial elections would be held "in December 2017 at the latest", but Kabila now says he will stay in power until December 2018 to account for delays in voter registration.

en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13961011000502

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Bitcoin is forbidden in Islam: Mufti's counsellor

By: Egypt Today staff | Sun, Dec. 31, 2017

CAIRO – 31 December 2017: Counsellor of the Republican’s Mufti, Dr.MagdyAshour, said that Bitcoin is forbidden in Islamic Sharia for the risks it holds, besides its usage as a tool to fund terrorism.

The mufti’s counsellor issued a Fatwa (Islamic ruling) that the virtual currency should not be used to make financial transactions because it has no monetary cover by the Central Bank of Egypt (CBE), which means it is not guaranteed.

“This currency is used directly to fund terrorists,” Ashour told Egypt Today on Sunday, explaining that its transactions contain major damage to the economy. “It has no set rules, which is considered as a contract annulment in Islam, that is why it is forbidden,” the counsellor added.

Bitcoin is a type of crypto currency independent of traditional banking; Bitcoin started circulating in 2009 and has become the most prominent of several fledgling digital currencies, according to Reuters.

The virtual currency relies on a network of computers that solve complex mathematical problems as part of a process that verifies and permanently records the details of every bitcoin transaction made.

Ever since it became known in Egypt in August, the virtual currency stirred controversy over its legitimacy, since most of Egypt’s 93 million people have no bank accounts. But even though electronic payments have grown in recent years, electronic banking in Egypt lacks regulations for digital currency. This means local retailers cannot accept it as payment, but users on an exchange may be left to trade freely, potentially cashing in on its ascent.

On December 17, Head of the Egyptian Financial Supervisory Authority (EFSA) Mohamed Omran announced that Bitcoin trading is illegitimate in Egypt, recommending that people refrain from buying or selling the digital currency.

Dar al-Ifta had warned against the digital currency, saying that it gives extremists a chance to receive funding, especially after the government’s crackdown against them and cutting out their resources.

Many governments globally are mulling how to regulate and classify Bitcoin, a volatile digital currency that has captured the interest of speculative investors worldwide as its value has soared, roughly quadrupling since the start of 2017 and trading at around $18,000 on the Luxembourg-based BitStamp platform. It has soared by roughly 1,700 percent so far this year.

egypttoday.com/Article/1/38992/Bitcoin-is-forbidden-in-Islam-Mufti-s-counsellor


URL: http://newageislam.com/islamic-world-news/new-age-islam-news-bureau/muslim-leaders-across-the-middle-east-work-with-israeli-rabbis-to-keep-the-peace/d/113773



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