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Islamic World News ( 1 Aug 2018, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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Muslim-Majority Areas Elect 3 Hindu Candidates in Pakistan’s Sindh

New Age Islam News Bureau

1 Aug 2018

From left: Mahesh Malani, Hari Ram Kishwari Lal and Giyan Chand Essrani. - Photo: @PPP_Org/Twitter


 Muslim-Majority Areas Elect 3 Hindu Candidates in Pakistan’s Sindh

 FGM Essential Part of Islam, Can’t Be Subjected to Judicial Scrutiny, SC Told by Dawoodi Bohra’s Advocate

 US Freezes Assets of Pakistanis Linked To Lashkar-e-Taiba

 Malaysian Govt Reiterates Commitment to Empower Islam According To Quran and Authentic Hadith

 Saudi Cleric Abdelaziz Al-Fawzan Arrested Over 'War on Religion' Tweets

 Senior ISIS Leader Surrender to Afghan Forces with His 152 Fighters



 Muslim-Majority Areas Elect 3 Hindu Candidates in Pakistan’s Sindh

 The Rise and Rise of Tehreek-e-Labbaik

 PTI yet to nominate CMs of Punjab, KP

 Imran Khan to move into Ministers’ Enclave

 Protests over poll results to continue, says MMA chief

 Religious parties clinch over 9pc share of votes in National Assembly

 Mian Iftikhar again receives threat of terrorist attack

 Islamist groups seen as behind the fall of Nawaz Sharif’s party in Pakistan

 MMA denies ECP claims of free and transparent polls: Fazl

 Fazl asks Imran to ‘open all constituencies’

 Erdogan telephones Imran, congratulates him on victory



 FGM Essential Part of Islam, Can’t Be Subjected to Judicial Scrutiny, SC Told by Dawoodi Bohra’s Advocate

 Law Commission Agrees Uniform Civil Code Not Practical In India: Muslim Board

 Shiv Sena Backs 5% Quota For Muslims In Education, AIMIM Hails ‘Positive’ Move

 In UP's Meerut, Dalits Threaten To Embrace Islam after Being Denied Entry into Local Temple

 Rohingya Muslim Refugees’ Camp in Hyderabad: Faiz-e-Trust Supplies Tarpaulin

 UPMC Asks Admn to Seize Properties of Those Who Issued Fatwa to Triple Talaq Victim

 BSF, Assam Rifles sensitised to prevent entry of Rohingya Muslims: Rajnath Singh


North America

 US Freezes Assets of Pakistanis Linked To Lashkar-e-Taiba

 US Puts LeT's Abdul Rehman On List Of Specially Designated Global Terrorist

 Trump Predicts Iran Talks ‘Pretty Soon’

 Hate Incidents Spike after Muslims Are At Centre Of Large-Scale Violence — As Perpetrators Or Victims

 Iran won’t accept terms of surrender for talks with US: Scholar

 Turkish business leader blasts threats by Trump, Pence

 US warns against IMF bailout for Pakistan that aids China


Southeast Asia

 Malaysian Govt Reiterates Commitment to Empower Islam According To Quran and Authentic Hadith

 Chinese Surveillance Expands to Muslims Making Mecca Pilgrimage

 Muslims Join Charity Run To Build Churches in Indonesia

 China promoting flying of state flags at religious events

 Zamihan to apologise to Canadian preacher over terrorism claim

 Indonesia Bans Islamic State-Linked Terror Group Behind Child Suicide Bombings

 ‘No problem’ with non-Muslims holding high political office in Indonesia: Agus Yudhoyono


Arab World

 Saudi Cleric Abdelaziz Al-Fawzan Arrested Over 'War on Religion' Tweets

 Terrorists Continue Looting Historical Artefacts in Northwestern Syria

 Turkey-Backed Militants Blackmailing Syrians by Asking for Ransom

 Videos released of Japanese, Italian captives in Syria

 UN rights office urges Saudi Arabia to free activists

 Assad’s forces retake Golan Heights frontier with Israel

 King Faisal Center for Islamic studies signs agreement with Amazon Kindle

 Egyptian Security Forces kill five terrorists, arrest five more


South Asia

 Senior ISIS Leader Surrender to Afghan Forces with His 152 Fighters

 18 Dead, 15 Wounded As Standoff Ends In Jalalabad City Of Afghanistan

 'Very Positive Signals' After US, Taliban Talks: Sources

 Rohingya refugees: Still searching for safety

 Jamiat Islami leaders met with Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah in Kabul

 Cover-up claim over Myanmar's new Rohingya abuse probe

 Myanmar roundly shamed over human rights inquiry panel



 Iran Says Trump Offer of Talks Is ‘Humiliation’, Without Value

 Tehran, Moscow, Ankara Urge Countering Plots to Partition Syria

 Yemeni army liberates strategic positions in Nahm province

 Trump says willing to meet with Iran leaders ‘any time’

 Iran ready to help Tajikistan probe terrorist attack: Foreign Ministry

 Norway: Israel must explain seizure of Gaza-bound boat

 Yemen's Houthis unilaterally halt retaliatory attacks in Red Sea

 Fresh Saudi airstrikes leave four civilians dead in western Yemen



 Boko Haram: Stop ‘Secret’ Burial of Fallen Soldiers, BBOG Tells Nigerian Govt

 Nigeria Shiite cleric supporters acquitted of protest charges

 Seven soldiers, four extremists killed in clash in Algeria

 Boko Haram attacks on military bases



 UN 'Not Doing Enough' On Israeli-Palestinian Conflict

 Kazan Film Festival inspires dialogue between cultures

 Islamic State claims attack on bicyclists that left 2 Americans, 2 Europeans dead

 Tajikistan blames Daesh-claimed attack on opposition

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau




Muslim-majority areas elect 3 Hindu candidates in Pakistan’s Sindh

July 31, 2018

Three Hindu candidates of the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) were elected from the Muslim-majority areas in Pakistan’s Sindh province in the July 25 general elections, a media report said today.

Mahesh Malani won a National Assembly seat from Tharparkar (NA-222) , while Hari Ram Kishwari Lal and Jamshoro’s Giyanoo Mal alias Giyan Chand Essrani were elected from the provincial assembly seats PS-147 and PS-81, respectively, the Daily Times reported today.

All the three candidates won from the general seats for the first time ever in the history of the country.

Malani won his seat from Tharparkar district by bagging 106,630 votes against his opponent, Arbab Zakaullah who secured only 87,261 votes. The Hindu population makes up 49 per cent of the total population of Thar desert.

Kirshwari Lal, who is considered a close friend of former president and PPP co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari, won his seat from Mirpurkhas district, which has total population of around 15 lakh out of which 23 per cent are Hindus, the paper said.

He secured 33,201 votes against his competitor from the Muttahida Qaumi Movement’s Mujeeb-ul-Haque who got 23,506 votes.

Essrani belongs to Thano Bola Khan of Sindh’s Kohistan region in Jamshoro district, which has a substantial Hindu population. He secured 34,927 votes against Malik Changez Khan who got 26,975 votes.

Hindu organisations in Pakistan welcomed the election results of the Hindu candidates on general seats.

Pakistan Hindu Sabha Chairman Dr Govind Ram said that nomination of Hindu candidates on general seats was a wonderful idea.

Hindus form the biggest minority community in Pakistan.

According to official estimates, 75 lakh Hindus live in Pakistan. However, according to the community, over 90 lakh Hindus are living in the country. Majority of Pakistan’s Hindu population is settled in Sindh province where they share culture, traditions and language with their Muslim fellows.



FGM Essential Part Of Islam, Can’t Be Subjected To Judicial Scrutiny, SC Told by Dawoodi Bohra’s Advocate

Jul 31, 2018

New Delhi: Senior counsel Abhishek Manu Singhvi, who appeared for Dawoodi Bohra community, justified in the Supreme Court on Tuesday the female genital mutilation (FGM) and called it an integral aspect of religious practice.

Making this submission before a three-judge bench comprising Chief Justice Dipak Misra and justices A M Khanwilkar and D Y Chandrachud hearing petitions from advocate Sunita Tihar and others challenging the practice of FGM, Dr Singhvi contended that it has the sanction of religious texts.

He said, “It is an essential aspect of Islam and cannot be subjected to judicial scrutiny. Quoting from religious texts, he demonstrated that this practice has been followed for centuries.

FGM or ‘khatna’ is a practice prevalent among the Dawoodi Bohra religious community of Shia sect though it is a crime and punishable offence. This practice is an age-old tradition in this community to mark the arrival of womanhood. The court had already orally expressed its disapproval to this practice.

The Centre had supported the petitioners stating that the FGM is a crime with a punishment of seven years of imprisonment “under the existing laws” and that the court can further clarify on the matter and issue guidelines. It also pointed out that the United Nations has deprecated this practice and FGM has been banned in the US, UK, Australia, Canada and 27 African countries and it should not be allowed to continue.

The petitioners have described the practice as “inhuman” and “violative” of girl’s rights under the Constitution’s Article 14 (Right to Equality) and Article 21 (Right to Life). They sought a direction to declare it illegal and unconstitutional, non-compoundable and a non-bailable offence.

They have also asked the court to frame guidelines to curb the practice and to issue directions to the state police chiefs to take action against those who indulge in such practice.



US freezes assets of Pakistanis linked to Lashkar-e-Taiba

August 1, 2018

WASHINGTON: The United States on Tuesday froze the assets of three Pakistanis it has linked to Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT).

The State Department added Abdul Rehman al-Dakhil to its list of “specially designated global terrorists,” saying he was a senior commander of the group.

The US Treasury targeted Hameedul Hassan and Abdul Jabbar, who it said were responsible for funneling money to LeT and paying salaries to its members.

“Treasury’s designations not only aim to expose and shut down Lashkar-e Taiba financial network, but also to curtail its ability to raise funds to carry out violent terrorist attacks,” Sigal Mandelker, the Treasury under secretary for terrorism and financial intelligence, said in a statement, using an alternate spelling of the group’s name.

The designation means all property belonging to the men subject to US jurisdiction are blocked and Americans are prohibited from engaging in transactions with them.

LeT, or Army of the Pure, is an anti-Indian militant group which has  been accused of orchestrating numerous attacks, including the 2008 assault in Mumbai that killed 166 people, six of them Americans.



Malaysian Govt Reiterates Commitment to Empower Islam According To Quran and Authentic Hadith

July 31, 2018

PUTRAJAYA (July 31): Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad today reiterated the Government’s commitment to empower Islam in Malaysia according to the teachings in the Quran and authentic hadiths.

He reiterated this during a special meeting with 37 ulama and Muslim intellectuals at his office here, said Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Dr Mujahid Yusuf Rawa at a press conference held after the two-hour event.

Mujahid said during the meeting, Mahathir shared the Government’s aspirations to make Malaysia a model of the best contemporary Muslim nation in the world.

“The world often connects Islam with violence, war and economic weaknesses.

"In this matter, Tun Mahathir wants the ulama and Muslim intellectuals to make use of the openness of the Pakatan Harapan government to show a more compassionate Islam,” he said.

Among those who were present at the meeting were Perlis Mufti Datuk Dr Mohd Asri Zainul Abidin, Islamic Centre lecturer in the Faculty of Theology, Oxford University Datuk Dr Muhammad Afifi Al-Akiti, former president of the Ulama Association of Malaysia (PUM) Ustaz Ahmad Awang and president of the Malaysian Consultative Council for Islamic Organisation (Mapim)  Mohd Azmi Abdul Hamid.

During the meeting, the Prime Minister discussed various matters including how to empower Islamic institutions beyond religious rituals but to also include science and economics.

Mujahid said Mahathir also wanted more focus to be given to religious extremists, especially in the issue of branding fellow Muslims as infidels, as well as on the Government’s commitment to combat extremist ideologies.

He said the Ministry will subsequently hold monthly follow-up meetings with smaller groups which would be more focused on certain issues than the one the Prime Minister had today.



Saudi cleric Abdelaziz al-Fawzan arrested over 'war on religion' tweets

31 July 2018

Saudi Arabian authorities are reported to have arrested influential cleric Abdelaziz al-Fawzan after he spoke out against the arrests of other religious leaders in the country.

Fawzan’s arrest was highlighted by Prisoners of Conscience, a Twitter account run by activists campaigning against the wave of arrests targeting opponents of the Saudi government.

Prisoners of Conscience said it had received confirmation that Fawzan, a professor of comparative religious law at the Saudi Higher Institute of Justice, had been arrested over a tweet in which he had “expressed his opinion against the suppression of sheikhs and preachers”.

Translation: It was confirmed to us that that the Saudi authorities arrested Dr. Abdelaziz Fawzan, professor of comparative religious law at the Higher Institute of Justice, against the background of the tweet in which he expressed his opinion against the suppression of sheikhs and preachers. He warned people against being sycophants.

Fawzan has been banned from leaving Saudi territory and barred from using social media networks, Al Jazeera Arabic reported.

The cleric, who has more than two million followers on Twitter, criticised the arrests of other imams and religious leaders in tweets posted on 15 and 16 July, in which he accused Saudi authorities of waging a “war on religion and values”.

"With this heinous war on religion and values, you should not back the criminals, and your love for money and status should not lead you to try to please them or portray their wrongful actions positively, otherwise you would lose this life and the afterlife," one of the tweets said.

Several prominent clerics were arrested as part of a wider purge instigated by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in September, which also targeted Saudi princes and high-profile business tycoons.

Those detained include Salman al-Odah and Awad al-Qarni, two of the country’s most prominent scholars, who were arrested in September in what was seen as a crackdown on some of the country’s most influential religious figures.

Odah, who was arrested after offering to mediate in the dispute between Saudi Arabia and Qatar, was reportedly taken to a hospital in January after spending five months in solitary confinement.

Earlier this month, Sheikh Safar al-Hawali, a veteran Salafi scholar and leading figure in Saudi Arabia's Islamic Sahwa (Awakening) reformist movement, was also arrested.

Bin Salman is currently overseeing a programme of economic and social reforms. But he has been criticised by human rights groups for cracking down on opposition activists, with Human Rights Watch reporting in April that “state repression against human rights defenders and any form of dissent has only increased under the crown prince”.

Authorities last month arrested a number of prominent women's rights campaigners, just days before the kingdom ended a decades-long ban on women driving.



Senior ISIS leader surrender to Afghan forces with his 152 fighters

Aug 01 2018

A senior leader of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria Khurasan (ISIS-K) Mawlavi Habib Ur Rehman surrendered to the Afghan forces together with his 152 miliants.

The 209th Shaheen Corps of the Afghan Military in the North said the ISIS leader and his fighters have surrendered in Jawzjan province.

A statement by Shaheen Corps said the militants surrendered to Afghan forces late on Tuesday night.

The statement further added that Mawlavi Rehman and his militants also handed over their weapons and some other military kits t the Afghan forces.

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

Jawzjan has been among the relatively calm provinces in North of Afghanistan but the security situation of the province has deteriorated during the recent years.

Both the Taliban and ISIS loyalists operate in some districts of the province and often carry out terrorist related activities.

This comes as sporadic clashes are underway between the Taliban and ISIS militants in some parts of Jawzjan province.





The rise and rise of Tehreek-e-Labbaik

August 1, 2018

ISLAMABAD: A relatively new anti-blasphemy party whose leader has reportedly vowed to nuke the Netherlands should he ever come to power did surprisingly well in Pakistan’s elections last week, which were tainted by the rise of extremist groups.

Islamic fundamentalist parties fielded more than 1,500 candidates in Pakistan’s provincial and national elections that were won by cricket hero turned politician Imran Khan.

Extremists were a major talking point going into the contest with politicians, including Khan, accused of pandering to their vote-base by trumpeting hardline issues such as blasphemy.

Here AFP looks at how the main extremist parties fared during Wednesday’s polls.

Anti-blasphemy party:

The performance of Tehreek-e-Labaik Pakistan (TLP), led by radical preacher Khadim Hussain Rizvi, will worry mainstream politicians and human rights activists the most.

The group, founded in 2015, entered the national consciousness last year when it blockaded the capital Islamabad for several weeks calling for stricter enforcement of Pakistan’s controversial blasphemy laws.

It wants the automatic death penalty for anyone deemed to have insulted Islam or the Prophet Muhammad.

Rizvi reportedly told journalists recently that if he took power in the nuclear-armed country he would “wipe Holland off the face of the earth”, over cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed published there.

Fortunately for the Netherlands, TLP failed to win any of the 272 seats up for grabs in Pakistan’s National Assembly.

It did, however, capture two seats in the provincial assembly of Sindh.

TLP polled over 2.23 million votes in the national assembly elections, its first general election, and more than 2.38 million provincial votes, election commission website data shows.

“Their overall number of votes is very surprising. It’s a really spectacularly rapid rise,” political commentator Fasi Zaka told AFP.

TLP’s strong showing is of particular concern to Pakistan’s Ahmadi community, which has long been targeted by extremists. They consider themselves Muslims but their beliefs are seen as blasphemous in most mainstream Islamic schools of thought.

Group linked to Mumbai attacks:

Allah-o-Akbar Tehreek was backed by Hafiz Saeed, the man accused of masterminding the 2008 Mumbai attacks that killed 166 people. Saeed has been designated a terrorist by the United Nations and has a $10-million bounty on his head.

Allah-o-Akbar Tehreek was formed after Pakistan banned the Milli Muslim League — the political party of hardline militant group Lashkar-e-Taiba, which is headed by Saeed — from the election.

None of the party’s candidates won seats but they did register more than 435,000 national and regional votes.

Zaka said he had expected work done in Punjab by LeT’s long-established charitable arm — Jamaat-ud-Dawa — to have translated into more votes.

“They have been in the business of service delivery where the state has not fulfilled its remit … I think they have underperformed,” he said.

Sunni hardliners:

Ahle Sunnat Wal Jamaat (ASWJ) is a radical Sunni group that frequently spouts hatred against Pakistan’s Shiite minority community, considering them heretics.

“If we get power in the evening and if a single Shia is alive by the morning in Pakistan then change my name,” leader Muhammad Ahmed Ludhianvi told an election rally.

ASWJ is considered to be the political face of sectarian militant group Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ), which has been behind numerous bloody attacks on Shiite Muslims in Pakistan.

Its candidates ran as independents and were known to have won at least one seat, in the Punjab assembly.

Zaka, the analyst, said that while votes for extremist parties did not translate into many seats in a first-past-the-post system, their sizable vote banks will give them clout in an increasingly competitive political landscape.

“The interesting thing about this election is not what it says about Pakistan now but what kind of space it creates for a Pakistan five years down the line,” he told AFP.



PTI yet to nominate CMs of Punjab, KP

August 01, 2018

ISLAMABAD: While the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) is claiming that it is in a position to form a coalition government not only in Islamabad but also in three provinces of the country, the party seems to be in a fix, so far, over the selection of its nominees for top slots in Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

Celebrating victory in July 25 general elections, the PTI has so far failed to nominate its chief ministers in KP and Punjab. Intra-party consultations are under way to nominate suitable candidates for the slot of chief minister in the two provinces.

For Balochistan, the party has shown its cards by supporting the candidature of Balochistan Awami Party (BAP) president Jam Kamal Khan Alyani after the two parties agreed to become allies in the coming provincial coalition.

The PTI announced on Tuesday that its chairman Imran Khan will soon decide who will be next chief ministers of KP and Punjab.

“The decision regarding chief ministers of KP and Punjab will be taken by PTI chairman Imran Khan and it will be acceptable to the entire party,” said Jahangir Tarin, a senior leader of the PTI who has been disqualified by the Supreme Court in the assets concealment case and barred from holding any public and party office.

On this occasion former KP chief minister Pervez Khattak laid to rest all speculation that he was eager to become CM for a second time and said he would accept whatever decision Mr Khan took. “We will accept even if Khan Sahib brings someone from America for the slot,” he said in a lighter vein.

With the inclusion of the BAP’s four MNAs-elect in the PTI camp, the position of Imran Khan’s party has further strengthened at the Centre as the party’s spokesman Fawad Chaudhry on Monday claimed to have secured 168 seats of the lower house of parliament.

Officially the PTI has bagged 116 general seats of the National Assembly (NA). But the party spokesman claimed on Tuesday that the number of MNAs-elect belonging to or supporting the PTI had reached 170 with the support of nine independents and allied parties, while 172 members were required for a simple majority in the National Assembly.

However, the party has to give up its six NA seats as three of its leaders have contested elections from more than one seat. Imran Khan contested the polls from five constituencies and he has to vacate his four seats. Ghulam Sarwar Khan of Taxila and retired Maj Tahir Sadiq have won two seats and have to vacate one seat each.

Pervez Khattak has won one each seat of NA and KP Assembly and now the party has to decide whether he will vacate his national or provincial assembly seat.

The Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid (PML-Q), an ally of the PTI, has four NA seats but two of them have been won by its president Pervez Elahi, who has to vacate one of the seats.

Giving breakup of the seats in hand, the spokesman said the PTI itself had 145 seats, including 13 independent candidates who had decided to join or support the party. Among the allied parties, the BAP has four seats, the Balochistan National Party-Mengal three, Grand Democratic Alliance two, Muttahida Qaumi Movement six, PML-Q four and Awami Muslim League one seat in the lower house of parliament. It is expected that the allies of the PTI will also get three to four seats reserved for women and minorities.

Mr Tarin, who is mustering support of other parties and independent candidates, claimed on Tuesday that six MQM MNAs-elect were with the PTI.

Shah Mehmood Qureshi said an independent candidate, Shaukat Laloka, had joined the PTI on Tuesday.

Erdogan greets Imran on phone

Meanwhile, Imran Khan continued to receive felicitations from the international community as Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan telephoned him on Tuesday to congratulate him on his party’s success in the elections.

Full report at:



Imran Khan to move into Ministers’ Enclave

Munawer Azeem

August 01, 2018

ISLAMABAD: The authorities concerned plan to declare a house in the Ministers’ Enclave as the official residence of the prime minister-in-waiting, Imran Khan, officials told Dawn.

In his victory speech, Imran Khan had announced that he would not use the Prime Minister’s House as his residence and that his party would later decide the fate of the building.

Shortly after Imran Khan’s victory in the recently-held general elections, the capital police and the district administration started extending VVIP protocol and security to the PTI chief, police officials said.

Security was mounted around Mr Khan and at his Banigala residence, they said.

Senior police officers, including Deputy Inspector General of Police (DIG) Waqar Ahmed Chohan, visited Mr Khan’s Banigala residence soon after PTI’s victory in the polls.

The police team assessed the residence and the area around it, including the hills.

The police officials said there was no standard operating procedure for the prime minister in-waiting, but since Imran Khan is likely to be the next prime minister, necessary measures have been taken for his security.

Besides police officials, personnel of Islamabad traffic police were also deployed around his Banigala residence and the road leading to it.

The Rangers were also detailed on the nearby mountains.

Islamabad Chief Commissioner Joudat Ayaz, Inspector General of Police Islamabad Jan Mohammad along with a couple of other senior officers also visited Banigala recently and discussed security issues with PTI leader Naeemul Haq as well as the chief security officer of the residence.

Issues regarding the official residence of the prime minister-in-waiting also came under discussion.

The officials briefed them about the standard operating procedure (SOP) with regards to security and protocol of the prime minister.

The senior officers also met Imran Khan and briefed him about security and protocol.

During the meeting, the district administration officials told him that his residence could not be provided foolproof security as the area was open and vulnerable to threat.

Earlier, there was an option to declare Banigala residence as Imran Khan’s official residence.

Mr Khan then agreed not to use Banigala as his official residence, the officials told Dawn.

A few more options were also given to him, including using an accommodation at the Ministers’ Enclave, which he accepted.

However, he asked for a lowest category house at the enclave.

Full report at:



Protests over poll results to continue, says MMA chief

August 01, 2018

ISLAMABAD: Maulana Fazl­ur Rehman, chief of the Muttahida Majlis-i-Amal (MMA) and Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam (JUI-F), on Tuesday asked his supporters to continue their protests against ‘rigged’ election results and announced that a call would soon be given for the launch of massive protests across the country.

“The Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf has emerged as a major party in this election only through rigging,” the Maul­ana said, adding that the PTI should rather accept the open involvement of the ‘establishment’ in the election.

After a meeting of the MMA held here at the residence of Jamaat-i-Islami deputy chief Mian Aslam, Maulana Fazl in his press talk several times used the term ‘establishment’ to decry the election results that he said had been concocted.

He said all the parties had expressed doubts about the transparency of the elections.

About their move to boycott the National Assembly, Maulana Fazl said the MMA leadership was united, but all the decisions would be made through consensus.

He accused the PTI of buying MNAs and said: “The PTI is involved in the country’s worst horse trading.” There was no reason that the PTI should be making a cabinet — it should refrain from doing so, he added.

Full report at:



Religious parties clinch over 9pc share of votes in National Assembly

Ramsha Jahangir

August 01, 2018

KARACHI: Despite the participation of 12 religious parties in the electoral battle this year, the far-right groups managed to secure only 5,203,285 (9.58 per cent) of the total 54,319,922 votes polled across the country as most of them saw a decline in their vote bank when compared to the 2013 general election.

The highest votes in favour of religious parties were cast in Punjab (2,704,856 votes) but that contributed to only 7.98pc of the province’s overall vote bank — the lowest among all provinces — as per the preliminary results released by the Election Commission of Pakis­tan. As compared to Punjab, their performance was better in Sindh where the religious parties rece­ived 1,116,644 votes (10.57pc of the total votes polled). However, religiously-motivated groups dominated the electoral space in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa where nine parties collectively secured 18.84pc of the votes polled, followed by Balochistan (16.78pc).

The recently revived Mut­tahida Majlis-i-Amal (MMA) — an alliance of various religious parties headed by Maulana Fazlur Rehman’s JUI-F and the Jamaat-i-Islami — managed to secure 12 seats with 2.5 million votes for the National Assembly. Earlier in 2002, the MMA had emerged as the country’s third largest party with 3.1 million votes and 59 of its candidates had won. The alliance disintegrated when the JI boycotted the 2008 general elections. The JUI-F, however, took part in them. The JUI-F secured 760,000 votes in 2008 and 1.4 million votes in the 2013 general elections, while the JI had secured 960,000 votes in 2013.

Similarly, Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam Nazryati-Pakistan managed to bag 34,170 votes as compared to 1,030,98 votes in 2013. Another religious party that did not leave an impact on the electoral battleground was Jamiat Ulema-i-Pakistan (Noorani) that received 22,918 votes in contrast to 67,966 votes in 2013.

The Majlis Wahdatul Mus­limeen — which received 41,520 votes last time — managed to only get 19,597 votes this time. The Sunni Ittehad Council also witnessed a significant drop in its popularity as it received 5,939 votes only as compared to 37,732 votes in 2013.

While old religious groups failed to make their presence felt this time, new splinter groups p roved otherwise.

On an unexpected front, the newly formed Tehreek-i-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) — led by clerics of the Barelvi sect — emerged as the top fifth party which received 2,234,138 votes for the National Assembly, outranking major parties like the Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan and Awami National Party among others.

Although the TLP did not secure a seat in the lower house of parliament, its 178 NA and over 500 provincial assembly candidates contesting elections across the country contributed significantly to its vote bank. The party bagged the most votes in Punjab (1,887,419) where it was the only party that had fielded over 100 candidates from the 117 constituencies of the province. The TLP also managed to govern Punjab’s religious poll bank as its votes make up 69pc of the total votes given to religious parties (2,704,856) in the region. In Sindh, the party candidates gave prominent leaders like Dr Farooq Sattar of MQM-P and PPP’s Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari a run for their money.

In NA-246 (Karachi South-1), TLP’s candidate Ahmed secured over 3,000 more votes than the PPP chairman whereas in NA-247 (Karachi South-2), the party’s candidate secured second position and beat Dr Sattar by a margin of over 500 votes.

The TLP notched up two seats in the provincial assembly — one from Lyari’s PS-107 and the other from PS-115 (Baldia Town). It also beat the five-party alliance MMA in Karachi, hijacking the Barelvi vote bank further.

The Tehreek-i-Labbaik (Islam) — the political wing of TLP’s Jalali group — also influenced religious vote bank as it managed to secure over 55,000 votes for the National Assembly.

Besides the TLP, the Hafiz Saeed-led Allah-o-Akbar Tehreek (AAT) was among the top faring religious parties this election. The AAT is another name for the Milli Muslim League which had been denied registration by the ECP over links with the banned Jamaatud Dawa.

The AAT had fielded 265 candidates — including 13 women — countrywide. Apart from Hafiz Waleed, the other prominent AAT candidate was Hafiz Saeed’s son Talha Saeed who was in the run for a National Assembly seat from Sargodha. The party did not win any seat.

However, the AAT — which received 171,356 votes for the National Assembly — emerged in the top eighth position (seventh largest party) in Punjab with 236, 386 votes, according to the figures uploaded by the ECP.

Full report at:



Mian Iftikhar again receives threat of terrorist attack

Sadia Qasim Shah

August 01, 2018

PESHAWAR: Senior politician and ANP general secretary Mian Iftikhar Hussain has once again received a ‘suicide attack’ threat and he says this time it is ‘serious’.

He has received the warning about attempt on his life at a time when he himself and his party leaders and workers have announced to take to streets to protest alleged rigging in the elections and demand fair re-elections.

“I am concerned as this time there was no mention of my name in any recent Nacta briefings, just like late Haroon Bilour, yet I have received this serious threat alert from all the civil and military authorities concerned. This is what worries me,” Mr Hussain told Dawn.

“It has been learnt that militant commander Asif alias Kamran Haji, based in Kunar province of Afghanistan, has planned to target ANP leader Mian Iftikhar Hussain. It has been further learnt that a suicide bomber probably a woman/child has been arranged for the said purpose,” says the threat alert. The alert cautions to take extreme vigilance and suggests heightened security measures to avoid any untoward incident.

“I feel as if this time I am not mentioned in any lists shared by the government. I think this time I am being presented as an easy target,” said the ANP leader, who seemed helpless with situation as his party that opposed militancy and approved a military operation against militants in the past, lost the elections badly. He alleged that it was done through rigging in which Election Commission of Pakistan, army and caretaker government were in collusion.

Mr Hussain had been information minister in the ANP government in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa during a sensitive time when not only tribal areas but militancy infested Swat, Malakand and other parts of the province.

Bomb blasts ravaged the streets, markets and political meetings between 2008 and 2013 and he being information minister was the first one to reach the scene of occurrence and console the victims’ families and threaten the terrorists of consequences and express the government’s resolve to eliminate them.

Haroon Bilour, the ANP candidate for PK-78, was killed in a suicide attack on a corner meeting of the party on July 10. Mr Hussain despite such threats continued to take part in election campaign in his hometown Pabbi in Nowshera but lost the polls. He said that he submitted an application for recounting of votes in the constituency but it was not accepted so far.

He remained staunch and strong in the face of such threats even when he lost his only son Mian Rashid Hussain in his hometown in a terrorist attack in July 2010. During the last eight years or so, he whether in government or having lost elections in 2013 lived life amid such threats. Issuance of such terror alerts has become almost a tradition as before each religious festive occasion like Eid he would get a warning by local authorities to remain vigilant for his safety.

Despite threats, Mr Hussian said, he decided like his party to openly go out and campaign as such threats kept them out of the election in 2013.

He said that he was worried in the present situation as he along with other ANP leadership was made to lose the elections. He said that they were being silenced through such threats.

Full report at:



Islamist groups seen as behind the fall of Nawaz Sharif’s party in Pakistan

By FM Shakil

July 30, 2018

Pakistan’s hardline Islamist groups failed to bag enough seats in the recent elections to hold any power, but they certainly managed to dent the voter base of the traditional parties, making the ride easier for Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI). Khan’s party emerged as the single largest party after the elections.

The Islamist parties got legitimacy as bona fide political entities, fielding candidates in 90% of the country’s constituencies. Moreover, a careful analysis of the Election Commission of Pakistan’s data reveals that the Islamist parties fared quite well as debutants.

Tehreek-i-Labbaik Pakistan, a far-right Sunni Barelvi sectarian group, polled 4% of the total votes, or 1.94 million of the 49 million cast in Wednesday’s election. The party propounds the enforcement of sharia laws and encourages protection of the controversial blasphemy-related clauses of the constitution.

Tehreek-i-Labbaik, headed by the firebrand leader Khadim Hussain Rizvi, caused the Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz), the party of ousted prime minister Nawaz Sharif, to lose more than 30 seats in the National Assembly. However, it only won two seats in the Sindh Provincial Assembly and one in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

“They were supposed to be spoilers, not winners. Remember that gentleman with the pencil symbol in 1990 [in] NA1 [constituency], something like that,” Mohammad Taqi, a renowned columnist, doctor and analyst tweeted about the Islamist parties.

Weakening Sharif’s party

Allah-o-Akbar Tehreek, a party backed by the mastermind of the 2008 Mumbai attack, Hafiz Saeed, showed a dismal performance, as none of its candidates won. The party got 164,000 votes and helped Tehreek-i-Labbaik Pakistan in some crucial constituencies in Punjab province to rout the heavyweights of Nawaz Sharif’s party.

“These extremist parties were enlisted to cut to size the electoral strength of Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz) and [this] was part of a greater game of pre-poll rigging which started right from the Panama leaks,” Pervaiz Rashid, a PML-N senator and former federal information minister in the Sharif cabinet, told Asia Times.

Rashid alleged that a sustained and systematic campaign was launched before the elections against Sharif’s party. Its candidates were arrested, harassed and forced to change loyalties in a bid to provide a walkover to other parties and weaken PML-N’s position. “These measures serve no purpose except to subvert the democracy and tarnish the image of the country abroad,” he stated.

A close look at the Election Commission’s constituency details points to a masterly executed plan to undermine PML-N’s winnability by misuse of the vote rejection rule. In some constituencies, the margin of victory was less than the rejected votes.

The Free and Fair Election Network – a non-governmental organization committed to an open parliament, good governance and fair elections in Pakistan – identified 35 such odd instances in its report on the election released on Friday. The Election Commission’s data show that polling staff rejected thousands of votes in each constituency, which is an uncommon trend.

Islamist groups spoiling votes

The details of individual constituencies on the Election Commission’s website reveal that the extremist outfits, which are registered as political parties under the Pakistani deep state’s de-radicalization drive, wreaked havoc on Nawaz Sharif’s party’s ability to win seats.

In the National Assembly constituency NA-66, PTI candidate Farrukh Altaf got 112,354 votes and was declared the winner. The runner-up Chaudhry Nadeem Khadim, a PML-N candidate, bagged 92,912 votes, while Tehreek-i-Labbaik Pakistan secured 29,556 votes. If the Election Commission had not allowed Tehreek-i-Labbaik to contest the election, a good chunk of these votes would have gone to Sharif’s party and could have changed the result altogether.

Similarly, in NA-67 constituency, PTI spokesman Fawad Chaudhry polled 93,102 votes against the 82,475 votes garnered by his rival candidate Raja Matloob Mehdi of PML-N. Tehreek-i-Labbaik bagged 16,286 and deprived Sharif’s party of a seat.

Again, in the Punjab constituency NA-87, PTI’s Chaudhry Shoukat Ali Bhatti won with 165,618 votes against PML-N candidate Saira Tarar’s 157,453 votes. Tehreek-i-Labbaik and Allah-o-Akbar Tehreek’s combined votes in this constituency were only 46,246. There are more than 30 constituencies in Punjab, including NA-102, NA-105, and NA-108, where these two Islamist parties spoiled the votes for PML-N but failed to win seats.

However, some disagree with this approach.

“Traditionally Islamist groups get 7-10% [of the] votes in the elections, and this has happened since 1970; it’s not a new phenomenon,” Dr Farrukh Saleem said. “In the context of recent elections, both Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz and Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf believed in right-wing populism and both tried to attract conservative votes; how could we conclude that the TLP [Tehreek-i-Labbaik Pakistan] and AAT [Allah-o-Akbar Tehreek] votes would have gone to PML-N if the former were not in the running?”

Saleem, an Islamabad-based columnist, economist and political scientist, claimed that people had bought the PTI narrative and voted for the party irrespective of the credentials of the candidates.

Nonetheless, Saleem agrees with allegations of election rigging. “There are three types of rigging, namely pre-poll, poll-day and post-poll, and there has always been an element of pre-poll rigging in every election held in the country,” he said, adding that conspiracy theories apart, both the political and military establishments played a role in pre-poll rigging this time.

Stepping away from allegations and counter-allegations, Rashid pointed out, “These sectarian and banned groups are not like the mainstream religio-political parties we had been working with since independence. They are extremist, radical and sectarian outfit having no faith in the constitution, rule of law and democratic dispensation.” Instead, they believe in violence, intimidation, and coercion and issue apostasy decrees against faithful Muslims and even kill them every now and then, he added.

Full report at:



MMA denies ECP claims of free and transparent polls: Fazl

Jul 31 2018

KARACHI: Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal Chief Fazlur Rehman said on Tuesday that the coalition of religio-political parties vehemently denies the Election Commission of Pakistan’s claims that the elections were free and transparent.

The JUI-F chief was addressing media after a session of the MMA today. Fazl said that the coalition will continue to protest over rigging in some of the constituencies.

He said that the ECP should not continue to argue over the subject. “The nation will not accept a government formed as a result of horse trading,” said the MMA chief.

Fazl said that Jamaat-e-Islami Chief Siraj-ul-Haq’s suggestion to take oath in the National Assembly will be put forth in the All Parties Conference.

On Monday, the major parties in the opposition held a meeting and decided to form a grand opposition for formulating a strategy on alleged rigging in the July 25 General Election.

Full report at:



Fazl asks Imran to ‘open all constituencies’

August 1, 2018

ISLAMABAD: Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam Fazl (JUI-F) chief and Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal (MMA) President Maulana Fazlur Rehman on Tuesday demanded Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan “open all constituencies” as per the promise made during his victory speech.

During a press conference after winning the July 25 election, Imran had said that he would cooperate with those who have reservations over the elections.

After a meeting between leaders of MMA, Fazlur Rehman demanded that every constituency be opened and that the government should not be formed on the basis of current results. He also demanded thumb verification of all votes.

He alleged that the PTI had emerged as the largest political party only as a result of rigging and should refrain from forming a cabinet before the prime minister is elected as it does not have a majority.

“When PTI does not have the majority, other parties have the right to attempt to form the government,” Rahman said, alleging that the party was engaging in the “worst horse trading in history”.

Showing flexibility over his previous stance of not taking oath in the new National Assembly, he said that the Jamaat-e-Islami’s (JI) suggestion that elected MMA members should sit in the NA will be taken to the All Parties Conference (APC).

Full report at:



Erdogan telephones Imran, congratulates him on victory

August 1, 2018

Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Tuesday telephoned Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan to congratulate him on his party’s successful performance in the recently-held general elections, the PTI media cell said.

During the telephonic exchange, the two leaders exchanged the hope for the beginning of a positive chapter in the bilateral relations.

According to the PTI statement, Erdogan extended his “good wishes for Imran Khan and his future government”, at which the PTI chief thanked the Turkish president.

Earlier on Monday, India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi had telephoned Imran Khan, congratulating him over his party’s victory in the general elections and conveying best wishes for Pakistan.

“We are ready to enter a new era of relations with Pakistan,” Modi was quoted as saying by the PTI press release.

According to the statement, Modi said both the countries should adopt a joint strategy for progress in bilateral ties.

Moreover, a statement issued by the Indian Ministry of External Affairs from New Delhi said Modi had spoken to Imran Khan and “congratulated him for his party emerging as the largest political party in the National Assembly of Pakistan in the recently conducted general elections.”

“Prime Minister [Modi] expressed hope that democracy will take deeper roots in Pakistan,” the statement quoted Modi as saying.

Modi also reiterated his “vision of peace and development in the entire neighbourhood” during his conversation with Imran Khan.

According to the PTI statement, the party chief thanked the Indian prime minister for his good wishes. “The solution to conflicts should be found through dialogue,” he was quoted as telling Modi.

Full report at:





Law Commission Agrees Uniform Civil Code Not Practical In India: Muslim Board

July 31, 2018

NEW DELHI: The All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) on Tuesday claimed that the Law Commission in principle agrees that a uniform civil code (UCC) is not practicable in India given the country's vast diversity and complexities.

The Law Commission has been examining the issue of implementing a common civil law for all communities in India and had invited the AIMPLB on Tuesday to discuss the Muslim personal law and the desired changes in it.

"First and foremost we made it clear that Muslim personal law is as per the divine decree and nobody is authorised to change it. The Commission was very receptive of our views and the meeting happened in a very cordial atmosphere," said Maulana Syed Jalaluddin Umari, who led the AIMPLB delegation.

"The Law Commission Chairman admitted that a uniform civil code is not a practical idea for India and that the government should not even think of implementing it for at least 10 years. We told him that not just 10 years, the idea should be dropped for good," Mr Umari said.

Syed Qasim Rasool Ilyas, a member of the delegation, said the Commission discussed as to what good things from the Muslim personal law can be made part of the Hindu civil code and vice versa.

"We are clear that we cannot tweak our personal law at will. It is based on Quranic injunctions and the Hadith," he said.

Advocate Niaz Farooqi said that when the delegation requested the Commission that before making any law about Muslims, it should at least consult the community, they were shocked to hear the reply.

"The Chairman said that the government was not even consulting the Law Commission on such matters, let alone others. This clearly shows that the Narendra Modi government is more interested in doing politics on Muslim issues than actual reform," Mr Farooqi said.

AIMPLB spokesman Kamal Farooqui said: "Today we have submitted a detailed note on the questions raised by the Law Commission. The issues pertained to inheritance, adoption, custody of children, making a will, difference in interpretation of Islamic laws among various sects and model nikahnama."

In response to a question, Mr Farooqi said that nikah halala had no backing in the Shariah.

"I can tell you with full authority that there is no concept of nikah halala in the Shariah. The debate around it is more a media creation," Mr Farooqui said.



Shiv Sena backs 5% quota for Muslims in education, AIMIM hails ‘positive’ move


August 1, 2018

The All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) on Tuesday welcomed the Shiv Sena’s support to reservation for Muslims in education. The party criticised the Devendra Fadnavis-led government, which, it said, was defying the Bombay High Court’s order by not implementing the 5 per cent quota for Muslims.

At a press conference on Monday, Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray had said: “Apart from the Marathas, reservation demands of Dhangars, Muslims and other communities should also be taken into account.” Thackeray added that his party would support the state and the Union government on the issue.

About reservation for Muslims, Uddhav said if there were reasonable demands from the Muslim community, they should also be considered.

Welcoming the Sena’s stand, AIMIM MLA Imtiaz Jaleel said: “It is a positive development. The BJP should take a cue… Some BJP leaders, through their acts and utterances, are targeting Muslims,” he said.

Jaleel said 5 per cent reservation demand for the Muslim community has received the Bombay High Court’s support. “While rejecting the demands of the Maratha community for OBC status, the high court had allowed 5 per cent reservation for Muslims. In case of the Maratha community, the court had rejected the move and called for setting up of a Backward Classes Commission. In Muslims’ case, the court has supported the quota in education based on circumstantial evidence. However, it is highly regrettable that the state government is yet to implement the HC directive,” he said.

Jaleel said the Bombay High Court’s move meant a lot for Muslim youths. “The court order is significant as it aims at removing the educational backwardness of the community. A large number of youths, because of lack of proper education, have to take up menial jobs. It is time Muslim youths get higher education, which will result in better jobs and improvement in their living standards. Every effort should be made to remove educational backwardness of the community,” he said.

Jaleel said his party was planning to launch an agitation to demand a job quota for Muslims. “An announcement to this effect will be made soon,” he said.

A BJP leader said the Congress-NCP government had in 2014 issued an ordinance giving 5 per cent reservation in jobs for Muslims. “The ordinance, however, lapsed on December 23, 2014, after which the government scrapped the resolution,” said a BJP leader.

Full report at:



In UP's Meerut, Dalits threaten to embrace Islam after being denied entry into local temple

Aug 1, 2018

Days after Hamirpur temple purification incident, a large number of Dalits in Uttar Pradesh’s Meerut district have threatened to embrace Islam after being denied entry into a Hindu temple to offer prayers.

The incident was reported from Panchgaon Patti village in Meerut. A few Dalit women, belonging to Valmiki Samaj, had gone to a 50-year-old temple to offer prayers on Sunday but they were denied entry by the priest on the ground that Dalits were not allowed to pray in the temple.

“Women were told that they are Dalits not Hindus and will not be allowed to offer prayers at a Hindu temple. They may go to their own Valmiki temples,” alleged Deepak Valmiki.

Another villager Satish Valmiki said that the order to deny entry to Dalits in the temple was enforced when a new priest joined a few months ago. “We were going to the temple earlier but now the new priest does not allow us to offer prayers there,” alleged Valmiki.

When a Dalits in the village tried to reason out with the priest, he abused and threatened them with dire consequences if anyone of them tried to come near the temple. The priest also lodged a fake complaint at the Bhawanpur Police Station against few dalits of the village, having a population of over 100 dait families.

Agitated Valmiki Samaj members met the SSP Meerut Rajesh Kumar Pandey and threatened to embrace Islam if they were not allowed to offer prayers in the temple. The SSP assured dalits to initiate action against the priest or anyone who tried to stop them entering temple.

“A probe has been ordered and the police will initiate action against anyone who tried to stop them offering prayers in the temple. A few police men have been posted at the temple to ensure that everyone is allowed entry into the temple,” said the SSP.

SR Darapuri, a retired IPS officer and a dalit human right activist said that it was violation of basic fundamental rights of dalits and showed how they were being discriminated under the BJP government, led by Yogi Adityanath.

Full report at:



Rohingya Muslim Refugees’ Camp in Hyderabad: Faiz-e-Trust supplies tarpaulin

August 1, 2018

Hyderabad: Faiz-e-Trust under the stewardship of Mr. Iftekhar Husain, Secretary and under the guidance of Mr. Zahid Ali Khan, Editor of Siasat Urdu Daily has been helping the needy persons right from Kashmir to Kanyakumari.

The trust has been helping Rohingya Muslims also since 2017 who are accommodated in Balapur, Hyderabad. It established tailoring center at Shaheen Nagar. It also arranged education in Arabic, English and Urdu for the children of Rohingya Muslims. Treatment of patients was arranged.

In order to earn their livelihood, Siasat Millat Fund and Faiz-e-Aam Trust spent Rs. 4,12,925 and provided Thelabandis. From 2013 to 16, similar arrangements were made with an expenditure of Rs 2, 77,312.

Mr. Iftekhar Husain, Secretary informed that last year, the trust had spent Rs. 60 thousand for providing tarpaulin sheets at camp I to protect them from rain. This year, the trust distributed tarpaulin sheets worth Rs. 65, 000 in camp number 2 , 5 and 10 so that they could be spread on 49 huts and also on a Deeni Madrasa.

It may be mentioned that more than 250 Rohingya Muslims have been accommodated in these camps.

Present on this occasion were Dr. Shaukat Ali Mirza, Dr. Makhdoom Mohiudduin, Justice Ismail, Mr. Haider Ali, Mr. Khaja Kamaluddin (Chicago) and Mr. Karrar Ahmed.

Speaking on this occasion, Mr. Iftekhar Husain told that necessary steps would be taken by the trust to educate, the children of Rohingya Muslims. It will also help plant the trees and disposal of garbage.

Full report at:



UPMC Asks Admn to Seize Properties Of Those Who Issued Fatwa To Triple Talaq Victim

August 1, 2018

Kanpur, Jul 31 (PTI) Uttar Pradesh Minority Commission chairman Tanveer Haidar Usmani asked today the Bareilly district magistrate and SSP to seize properties of people who issued 'fatwa' against Nida Khan if they are not arrested.

On July 16, a cleric in Bareilly had issued a fatwa against Nida Khan, who had allegedly taken up issues like triple talaq and Nikah Halala.

At a press conference, Shahar Imam Mufti Khurshid Alam had said a fatwa has been issued against Nida Khan for speaking against Islam and its practices.

Usmani here said, "I have asked the DM and SSP (of Bareilly) to make seize the property of guilty persons in case their arrests could not be made. Officials have been instructed to submit the detailed report before the commission."

He also said, "The country runs in accordance with the Constitution and not by the dictatorship of the clerics and so called 'thekedar'."

Nida was married to Sheeran Raza Khan of Ala Hazrat family in 2015 but was given talaq in 2016. Since then, she has been fighting for rights of Muslim women.

On July 20, the Bareilly district administration decided to step up her security who had come out in support of a nikah halala victim in the district.

Full report at:



BSF, Assam Rifles sensitised to prevent entry of Rohingya Muslims: Rajnath Singh

Jul 31, 2018

New Delhi: The Centre on Tuesday said that the Border Security Force (BSF) and Assam Rifles have been sensitised to ensure that members of the Rohingya Muslim minority do not enter the country, and that states have been asked to enumerate and confine those who have immigrated illegally.

Home Minister Rajnath Singh told the Lok Sabha during Question Hour that his ministry had issued an advisory to the states in February concerning the Rohingya. "The BSF and Assam Rifles have been fully sensitised to ensure that Rohingyas are not able to enter," Rajnath replied to a query posed by a Shiv Sena member. He said Rohingyas have, however, entered the country in "large numbers".

"It should not happen that the Rohingyas spread out and stay wherever they want," he said, adding that the states have been advised to prepare their "biography" (profiles) and take biometrics. "The advisory also says that their movement should also be monitored and the states should be fully alert."

Rajnath said the state governments have the right to deportation under the Foreigners Act. "We have requested the state governments that after identification and enumeration of the Rohingyas, they should send the information to the central government. Once we get this information, we will share it with the Ministry of External Affairs. The ministry will talk to authorities in Myanmar and try to deport them," the minister said.

Earlier, Minister of State for Home Kiren Rijiju said Rohingyas were illegal migrants, and there was no question of the government giving them any facilities. "We will first take care of Indian citizens, take care of their rights. We are not here to take care of illegal migrants," he said.

Answering another query, Rijiju said Jammu and Kashmir has the largest number of Rohingyas followed by Hyderabad. They also lived in Delhi, Haryana, Rajasthan and some other places. "We have taken firm steps that they do not become a threat to the country's security and become a burden in the future," he added.

Referring to the issue of ration cards, he said the government has not allowed the move and "if registration has taken place in a fake manner, action will be taken". He said every state and Union Territory should ensure that Rohingyas do not get a legal document.

Regarding border fencing, Rijiju said: "There is no fencing with Myanmar, Nepal, Bhutan, China. We have a different agreement with every country." The minister said that about 10 lakh Rohingyas in Bangladesh have not been able to enter India due to steps taken by the government.

Trinamool Congress member Sugata Bose said he was saddened by the reply of the home minister and noted that India has 40,000 Rohingya refugees, while there were over nine lakh in Bangladesh. Noting that the government was carrying out "Operation Insaniyat" (Operation Humanity) in Bangladesh, he asked whether the Centre will give shelter to all persecuted people, specially refugees.

Full report at:



North America


US puts LeT's Abdul Rehman on list of Specially Designated Global Terrorist

Jul 31, 2018

NEW DELHI: Abdul Rehman al-Dakhil, the operational leader for Lashkar-iToiba in India between 1997 and 2001, has been designated as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist (SDGT) by the US Department of State.

A long-time member of the US-designated Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO), Dakhil was captured in Iraq by UK forces in 2004.

He was lodged in Iraq and Afghanistan under the custody of the US. In 2014, he was transferred to Pakistan. Following his release, Dakhil returned to work for the LeT.

Two years later, he was appointed as the divisional commander for the Jammu region. As per the latest report, Dakhil is a senior commander in LeT as of early 2018.

The new designation will impose sanctions on foreign persons who have committed or pose a significant risk of committing, acts of terrorism that threaten the security of US nationals or the national security, foreign policy, or economy of the United States.

Following the designation, Dakhil will not be able to plan and carry out terrorist attacks, all of his property and interests subject to US jurisdiction are blocked, and US persons are generally prohibited from engaging in any transactions with him.

Today’s action notifies the US public and the international community that Abdul Rehman al-Dakhil has committed, or poses a significant risk of committing, acts of terrorism. Designations of terrorist individuals and groups expose and isolate organizations and individuals, and deny them access to the US financial system," the State Department said.



Trump predicts Iran talks ‘pretty soon’

AUGUST 1, 2018

US President Donald Trump suggested Tuesday that talks with arch foe Iran were imminent, despite silence from the Islamic republic’s leaders to his offer for a meeting.

Scepticism was rife in Iran over possible talks, with one lawmaker saying negotiations would be a “humiliation.”

The country’s top leaders did not give an immediate response to Trump’s statement a day earlier that he would meet them “any time” without preconditions.

“I have a feeling they’ll be talking to us pretty soon,” Trump told a rally in Tampa, Florida, before adding: “And maybe not, and that’s OK too.”

He also used the occasion to again blast the “horrible, one-sided” 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and world powers from which the American president withdrew.

“It’s a horror show,” Trump said.

“I hope it works out well with Iran. They are having a lot of difficulty right now.”

The US is set to start reimposing full sanctions on Iran from August 6 — a move that has already contributed to a major currency crisis with the rial losing two thirds of its value in six months.

Several Iranian public figures said it was impossible to imagine negotiations with Washington after it tore up the nuclear deal in May.

“With the contemptuous statements (Trump) addressed to Iran, the idea of negotiating is inconceivable. It would be a humiliation,” said Ali Motahari, deputy speaker of parliament, according to the conservative Fars News.

Interior Minister Abdolreza Rahmani Fazli said: “America is not trustworthy. After it arrogantly and unilaterally withdrew from the nuclear agreement, how can it be trusted?”

Only last week, Trump fired off an all-caps tirade at his counterpart Hassan Rouhani on Twitter, warning of untold “suffering” if Iran continued to threaten the United States.

Many in Iran are therefore suspicious of his latest volte-face.

“We cannot negotiate with someone who violates international commitments, threatens to destroy countries, and constantly changes his position,” said analyst Mohammad Marandi, of the University of Tehran, who was part of the nuclear negotiating team.

Some officials remained more receptive.

“Negotiations with the United States must not be a taboo,” said Heshmatollah Falahatpisheh, head of parliament’s foreign affairs commission, in an interview with the semi-official ISNA news agency.

“Trump understands that he does not have the capacity to wage war with Iran, but due to historic mistrust, diplomatic ties have been destroyed,” said Falahatpisheh, adding that this left no choice but to work towards reducing tensions.

Motahari added that hardliners, who have long opposed any rapprochement with the US, share the blame for the collapse of the nuclear deal.

“If the whole Iranian system had worked to implement this agreement, today we would be witnessing the presence of European companies in Iran and their investments, and even Trump would not be able to withdraw so easily from the deal,” he said.

“But from the start one part of the system did not want the agreement to work.”

– ‘Maybe an opportunity’ –

On the streets of Tehran, meanwhile, the focus remained resolutely on Iran’s domestic economic difficulties.

“All of us believe that Trump is the enemy of Iran and Iranian people. But now maybe Trump wants to give the Iranian people an opportunity and, God willing, it could be a way to get past our disastrous situation,” added Hushiar, an office manager in her 50s.

Many Iranians find it hard to believe that the man who is trying to destroy their economy, and has banned them from flying to the US, can be trusted.

“If they are honest in their words that they want to have negotiations with us without any preconditions, at least they should stay in the JCPOA (nuclear deal) or they should let us get the benefits of European trade,” said Morteza Mehdian, a software engineer in his 20s.

“But the reality is this man is a liar and we cannot trust his word.”

For now, this is also the official line, with Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei saying earlier this month that talking to Trump would be “useless.”

Foreign ministry spokesman Bahram Ghasemi on Monday said “there is no possibility for talks,” ahead of Trump’s statement.

“Washington reveals its untrustworthy nature day by day,” Ghasemi said, according to the conservative-aligned Mehr news agency.

Full report at:



Hate incidents spike after Muslims are at centre of large-scale violence — as perpetrators or victims

July 31, 2018

Less than 24 hours after Faisal Hussain opened fire in Toronto’s Greektown, a middle-aged white man approached a visibly Muslim family at the city’s ferry docks, pushed two men and screamed: “Where the f— are you from?”

A video of the racially charged incident appears to begin in the middle of the confrontation as the white man continuously advances toward one of the three men in the Muslim family until they’re forehead-to-forehead. “You don’t ask me a f—ing question in my province,” the man says, shoving one of the Muslim men into a child.

The confrontation escalates until the white man begins to scream at the Muslim man, who repeatedly told him that he was born in Ontario: “I’ll f—ing kill you… Welcome to Ontario, a–hole.”

On Friday, Lombray Ball, 50, was arrested and charged with two counts of assault and threatening death.

In the wake of the Danforth shooting, there’s been a spike in hate-related incidents targeting Muslims across Canada, according to the National Council of Canadian Muslims. Although the average number of recorded incidents between April and June was 1.5, the Muslim council says there have been five in the past week alone.

When Muslims are at the centre of large-scale violent incidents such as the Danforth and Parliament Hill shootings as perpetrators, the council’s statistics show that hate incidents — anything from verbal and physical attacks to vandalism — spike. The same occurs, the statistics show, when Muslims have been the victims.

“Either way, we can’t win sometimes,” said Leila Nasr, a council spokewoman. “Every time things like this happen, the Muslim community has to go into damage control to somehow defend itself from people who wish to lump everyone into the same category.”

Four hours before the confrontation involving Ball, a 17-year-old Halifax woman was walking to a bus stop from Dalhousie University when she was approached by a white man who yelled “F— you, f— all Muslims,” before telling her to go back to her country.

On Friday, a white man stood in front of a memorial dedicated to the Danforth shooting, holding a sign that read “C.B.C. presents: Little Mosque on the Praire (sic). Two girls dead in Greektown.” That same day, a video was posted to YouTube showing a white man spitting at a Muslim man and telling him “you look like that guy that shot everyone on the Danforth.”

Two days later, Peel Regional Police near Toronto arrested Sandra Alexander, 35, for allegedly trying to rip the hijab off the head of an 18-year-old woman while “flicking a lighter.” She was charged with assault with a weapon, assault and uttering threats.

Seeing such an increase in Islamophobic incidents has led Nasr to suggest that the tension in the aftermath of the Danforth shooting is causing some to “act out on their fears or their prejudices.” It wouldn’t be the first time.

The council has collected data on anti-Muslim hate incidents since 2013. It keeps track of the incident reports that members of the Muslim community file with them along with those that are publicly reported.

In the week following the Parliament Hill shooting in 2014, the council recorded four anti-Muslim hate incidents that were publicly reported. The average per week in 2014 was 0.4. Nine incidents were also reported directly to the council.  In the wake of the Quebec mosque shooting on Jan. 29, 1017, when Alexandre Bissonnette shot and killed six Muslim worshippers, the number of reported hate incidents jumped from four in January 2017 to 11 one month later. In March, there were another 10.

But these numbers aren’t completely accurate, Nasr acknowledges. They can’t be when two-thirds of hate crimes go unreported, according to a 2014 Statistics Canada survey. When contacted by the National Post, Toronto police spokesman Mark Pugash said the information available to him shows no spike in hate crimes in the city.

“It’s just the tip of the iceberg,” Imam Ibrahim Hindy said.

Hindy, an imam at the Dar Al-Tawheed mosque just outside Toronto, said that members of his community often tell him about hate incidents they experience and he “practically begs” them to report it but there’s an “unwillingness.” His wife experienced the same behaviour, Hindy said, when years ago, a man approached her in a parking lot and told her to go back to her country. Like most, she didn’t report the incident.

“There’s a feeling that nothing is going to come out of it… that they’ll just become another number,” Hindy said.

After the Danforth shooting, Hindy asked the volunteers in charge of security at Dar Al-Tawheed to spend more time at the mosque. Peel police also offered to send a cruiser to the mosque during prayer time. In conversations with his congregants, Hindy has warned them to be more vigilant.

Having such discussions is a new experience for Hasan Ahmed. Ahmed was visiting Toronto from Saskatoon with his wife and young children when he witnessed the scene at the Toronto ferry terminal.

A Muslim himself, Ahmed said he tried to tell the middle-aged white man that he didn’t have the right to push anyone around.

“My kids were very scared and my wife was very scared too,” he said. “We never had this kind of incident before.”

Ahmed, who has lived in Canada for eight years, explained to his children that “most Canadians are great” and that the man’s behaviour wasn’t reflective of society.

Despite the abuse he and his family endured, Ahmed was sad to hear that the man had been arrested.

Full report at:



Iran won’t accept terms of surrender for talks with US: Scholar

Jul 31, 2018

Iran will never accept the terms of surrender and sacrifice its sovereignty in order to sit at the table for inconsequential discussions with the US leadership, American writer and retired professor James Petras has said.

Petras, who has several books on Middle Eastern political issues, made the remarks in an interview on Tuesday with Press TV while commenting on the contradictory statements of US President Donald Trump and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo about Iran.

Trump on Monday said he was ready to meet Iranian President Hassan Rouhani “any time they want to.”

He said that he would “certainly meet” with Iranians with “no preconditions.”

Hours later, Pompeo appeared on CNBC and set some conditions for the possible Iran-US summit.

"We've said this before," said the former CIA chief. “If the Iranians demonstrate a commitment to make fundamental changes in how they treat their own people, reduce their malign behavior, can agree that it's worthwhile to enter into a nuclear agreement that actually prevents proliferation, then the president said he's prepared to sit down and have the conversation with them.”

Professor Petras said the United States “is working from the position that if it applies the stick in practice through the sanctions, it can offer a carrot which is to restart the negotiations over the disarmament of Iran, that goes far beyond any agreement of the past.”    

“In other words, Washington is saying we will impose sanctions, we will extend sanctions, and we will talk to you how you can make concessions to us including abandoning your allies in the Middle East, supporting the US alliance with Saudi Arabia and Israel, sacrifice any support you provide to the Houthis in Yemen and then we will talk about some kind of agreement,” he said. 

Full report at:



Turkish business leader blasts threats by Trump, Pence

31 July 2018

A top Turkish business leader on Tuesday blasted recent threats against Turkey made by the U.S. administration.

Turkish businesspeople disapprove of the remarks of U.S. President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence, said Erol Bilecik, chair of the Turkish Industry and Business Association (TUSIAD), while visiting Parliament Speaker Binali Yildirim.

"We can never approve of the remarks of Pence and Trump, especially over social media," Bilecik told reporters.

He added that the remarks were "not part of a solution but the issue."

Bilecik called on the two countries to make statements "with high diplomacy and aim for a solution."

Relations between the countries soured after Trump and Pence threatened on Twitter to impose sanctions on Turkey over American pastor Andrew Craig Brunson, who faces terrorism-related charges.

Full report at:



US warns against IMF bailout for Pakistan that aids China

AUGUST 1, 2018

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo warned on Monday that any potential International Monetary Fund (IMF) bailout for Pakistan’s new government should not provide funds to pay off Chinese lenders.

In an interview with CNBC television, Pompeo said the United States looked forward to engagement with the government of Pakistan’s expected new prime minister, Imran Khan, but said there was “no rationale” for a bailout that pays off Chinese loans to Pakistan.

“Make no mistake. We will be watching what the IMF does,” Pompeo said. “There’s no rationale for IMF tax dollars, and associated with that American dollars that are part of the IMF funding, for those to go to bail out Chinese bondholders or China itself,” Pompeo said.

The Financial Times reported on Sunday that senior Pakistani finance officials were drawing up options for Khan to seek an IMF bailout of up to $12 billion.

An IMF spokeswoman said: “We can confirm that we have so far not received a request for a Fund arrangement from Pakistan and that we have not had discussions with the authorities about any possible intentions.”

Speaking in Beijing, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said the IMF had its own standards and operating rules when cooperating with relevant countries.

“I believe they will handle it appropriately,” he told reporters, without elaborating.

Pakistan is struggling to avert a currency crisis that has presented the new government with its biggest challenge. Many analysts and business leaders expect that another IMF bailout, the second in five years, will be needed to plug an external financing gap.

Pakistan, which already has around $5 billion in loans from China and its banks to fund major infrastructure projects, had sought another $1 billion in loans to stabilise its plummeting foreign currency reserves.

Officials in the Trump administration, including US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, have criticised China’s infrastructure lending to developing countries, arguing that this has saddled them with unsustainable debt.

“The $57 China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, a series of port and rail improvements associated with China’s One-Belt One-Road infrastructure push, has led to massive imports of Chinese equipment and materials, swelling Pakistan’s current account deficit.”

Full report at:



Southeast Asia


Chinese Surveillance Expands to Muslims Making Mecca Pilgrimage

By Eva Dou

July 31, 2018

BEIJING—China’s close watch over its Islamic minority is being extended abroad, as Muslims from some Chinese regions make the Hajj pilgrimage wearing state-issued tracking devices.

The state-run China Islamic Association published photos of Chinese Muslims at the Beijing airport departing for Mecca in Saudi Arabia in recent days wearing customized “smart cards” on blue lanyards around their necks. The devices, which include a GPS tracker and personal data, are designed to ensure the wearer’s safety, according to the association.



Muslims join charity run to build churches in Indonesia

July 31, 2018

Over 3,500 people, mostly Catholics, joined a charity run organized by Indonesia's Jakarta Archdiocese to raise money to build churches in various parts of the country.

Jakarta has declared 2018 the "Year of Unity."

The "Run4U" campaign on July 29, one of a number of Church-led fund-raising runs in recent years, offered people the chance to test themselves with a 2.5-kilometer walk or a more grueling 5k run in Tangerang, a city in Banten province some 25km from Jakarta.

Participants included priests, nuns, seminarians, elderly and young and people from other religions.

"Our main purpose is to raise money to help out with the construction of several churches [that are in need of financial support]," Paskah Widarani, one of the organizers, told

She named St. Leo the Great Parish Church in Jatiwaringin of East Jakarta, St. Nicodemus Parish's pastoral building in Ciputat of South Tangerang — both in Jakarta Archdiocese — and a chapel in St. Aloysius Gonzaga Parish in Pamakayo, East Nusa Tenggara province among the beneficiaries.

"Those parishes were chosen as they really need our help right now," said Widarani.

Some of the funds will be used to finance a youth formation run by Jakarta's Catholic Charismatic Renewal Ministry, she added.

Paskah was reluctant to disclose the total sum of all the pledges but said each of the participants had contributed at least 200,000 rupiah ($13) each.

Moreover, all 13 priests involved were billing donors by the kilometer, she quipped.

Father Antonius Suhardi Antara from Mother Teresa Parish in Cikarang, West Java province, who participated in the mini-marathon, said it was a creative way to motivate people to donate to a good cause.

Sister Vincensa of the Followers of Jesus joined the 2.5km charity walk with several other sisters from her parish. She was impressed by how well organized the affair was, especially the way it drew people together from different faiths.

"It was really outstanding, not just Catholics but non-Catholics, too. We can really feel the spirit of 'unity in diversity'," she said.

Kosmas Bambang Sukamto, a 75-year-old Catholic layman from St. Leo the Great Parish, thanked the organizers for deciding to help support his parish church.

"I'm old but I still showed up because some of the donations will go to my parish," he said.

His parish was established in 1992 but construction on the church did not start until 2016 when the local authority granted it a building permit. Parishioners now have to make do with using a hall nearby for their Sunday Mass and other services and activities.

Archbishop Ignatius Suharyo Hardjoatmodjo of Jakarta praised the charity campaign in a video message, describing it as a tool to promote brotherhood among Indonesian people.

Full report at:



China promoting flying of state flags at religious events

AP | Aug 1, 2018,

BEIJING: Officially recognized faith groups in China are promoting the flying of national flags at religious events amid a push by the ruling Communist Party to extend its ideological control over religious life.

A statement viewed Wednesday on the website of the party's United Front Work Department that oversees such groups says flying the flag would emphasize that the fates of the party, nation and individual are "bound tightly together.''

The officially atheistic party has tightened its grip over the country's five officially recognized religions this year, ordering that Christians, Muslims and others work toward "sinosization.''

Full report at:



Zamihan to apologise to Canadian preacher over terrorism claim

Mohamad Fadli

July 31, 2018

KUALA LUMPUR: Controversial preacher Zamihan Mat Zin today agreed to apologise to popular Canadian preacher Abu Ameenah Bilal Philips whom he had labelled as “a supporter of international terrorism” after Philips filed a RM1 million suit against him for slander.

Zamihan, an officer with the Malaysian Islamic Development Department (Jakim), will issue his apology on Facebook.

Philips’ lawyer Meor Amir Meor Omar Baki said his client agreed to withdraw the lawsuit if Zamihan issued an unreserved written apology within the next two days.

“He has to delete his post. He has also agreed to pay an undisclosed sum in damages,” he told reporters when met outside the High Court here.

Philips, who filed the suit against Zamihan in September last year, said in his statement of claim that Zamihan had displayed a photograph of him and a label saying he was a supporter of international terrorism.

Philips – who was once dubbed as one of the 500 most influential Muslims in the world – said the words used to describe him were false, defamatory and baseless, as he believed in promoting peace and rejected acts of terrorism carried out in the name of Islam.

He said Zamihan’s allegation implied he was engaged in terrorism and violence, and that his lectures were designed to achieve that objective.

Philips, who was in court, said Zamihan had admitted to obtaining the wrong information of his activities from the media. He went on to deny any involvement in terrorist activities.

“I want to thank Zamihan for admitting he was wrong due to the wrong information he obtained.”

Full report at:



Indonesia Bans Islamic State-Linked Terror Group Behind Child Suicide Bombings

By Ben Otto and Anita Rachman

July 31, 2018

JAKARTA, Indonesia—Indonesia banned the militant group behind Islamic State’s first attack in Southeast Asia and suicide bombings involving children, a move that foreshadows the arrests of hundreds of the group’s members in the world’s largest Muslim-majority nation.

The decision by a Jakarta court Tuesday to outlaw Jemaah Ansharut Daulah follows a crackdown on the group, which police say was responsible for a gun-and-bombs assault at a Starbucks in the capital that left four bystanders dead, along with four attackers, in...



‘No problem’ with non-Muslims holding high political office in Indonesia: Agus Yudhoyono

01 Aug 2018

JAKARTA, INDONESIA: Agus Harimurti Yudhoyono, a possible vice-presidential candidate in the country’s 2019 general election, said that Indonesia’s leaders must be chosen “based on capacity, on [their] integrity. Not because of religion, ethnicity or race”.

Mr Agus, the eldest son of former President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, told the programme Conversation With in a digital exclusive that there is “no problem” with non-Muslims holding high political office in Indonesia.

Mr Agus was a contender in the polarising 2017 race for the governorship of Jakarta – an election campaign that exposed religious and ethnic divisions in the capital of the world’s largest Muslim-majority nation.

Christian candidate and then-Governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, commonly known as Ahok, was ultimately beaten in his re-election bid by Muslim academic Anies Baswedan, after hardline Islamic-groups accused Mr Ahok of blasphemy against the Koran.

Mr Agus, who came in third in the polls, cautioned: “We must prevent any kind of efforts to politicise religion, ethnicity or race. We cannot use those issues to attack political rivals.

With more than 170 million Indonesians heading to the polls next April to elect their president and lawmakers, speculation is rife about President Joko Widodo and Opposition leader Prabowo Subianto’s possible vice-presidential running mates.

In March, Mr Agus’s name was floated as the President’s potential running mate, when the former said the Democratic Party – of which Mr Agus is a member - was open to backing Mr Widodo’s re-election.

However, a July 24 meeting between Democratic Party chairman Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and Mr Prabowo makes an alliance with the Gerindra Party appear more likely – meaning that Mr Agus could be the vice-presidential candidate on the opposition ticket instead.

Asked if the Democratic Party would form a coalition with Mr Widodo’s ruling bloc or join the Opposition, Mr Agus demurred. “At the end of the day, we’re not part of the coalition now,” the former army major said.

The registration deadline for presidential candidate pairs is Aug 10.

Full report at:



Arab World


Terrorists Continue Looting Historical Artefacts in Northwestern Syria

Jul 31, 2018

The sources said that Tahrir al-Sham members have done excavations at the ancient Girls Palace North of the village of al-Dana, plundering its valuable artifacts. 

The sources pointed to the vast destruction of the palace, adding that Tahrir al-Sham has smuggled the stolen artifacts to Turkey to sell them there.

The Kurdish-language Hawar news quoted Salahuddin Sino, a member of Afrin Artifact Department, as saying last month that the Turkish army and Ankara-backed militants were looting historical artifacts of Roza Site in the village of Tarmisha in Shih region in Afrin.

He further told Hawar news that the Ankara forces forced the villagers to leave the region and did not allow anyone to return to the region.

Sino said that the Turkish forces embarked on excavation operation in the entire historical areas in Roza Site and stole valuable artifacts.

Sino further pointed to the destruction of tens of historical sites in Afrin, adding that the army destroyed has fifty percent of Tal Ayndara Temple, which is one of the most important historical sites in Afrin listed in the UNESCO list, in the early days of aggression against the Kurds in Northwestern Aleppo.

In the meantime, local sources reported that Turkey-backed militants captured a sum of ten civilians in the villages of Shirawa region in Afrin and asked their families to pay $1,000 for their release.



Turkey-Backed Militants Blackmailing Syrians by Asking for Ransom

Jul 31, 2018

The sources said that the Ankara-backed militants have arrested almost 1,000 civilians in the town of Afrin and in the villages and districts near the town to earn a large amount of money as their ransom.

The sources went on to say that the Turkish troops and their allied militants have been arresting civilians accusing them of connections to the Kurdish militias, adding that the captured civilians have been tortured.

The sources added that more than half of the captured civilians have been released after their families paid a hefty amount of money to the Ankara-backed militants as bribe.

The Ankara-backed militants have forced Afrin residents to pay tax and set up checkpoints along al-Bastouleh road to receive toll from vehicles.

The Kurdish-language Hawar news reported on Friday that members of Albu Banah tribe and militants of the Turkey-backed Ahrar al-Sham clashed fiercely in al-Ashrafiyeh neighborhood in Afrin, leaving at least three gunmen dead.

Full report at:



Videos released of Japanese, Italian captives in Syria

1 August 2018

An extremist group has released videos of a Japanese journalist and an Italian man held captive in Syria in which they appeal for their release, US-based monitors said Tuesday.

The two men -- Japanese freelance journalist Jumpei Yasuda and Italian national Alessandro Sandrini -- appear in two separate videos that are nonetheless similar in their staging and were released by the SITE group, which tracks white supremacist and extremist organizations.

SITE did not say which group was responsible for the videos.

Both men are shown kneeling in front of a wall wearing orange jumpsuits while armed men dressed head-to-toe in black stand behind them.

Jumpei is thought to have been abducted by the Al-Nusra Front, a former Al-Qaeda affiliate, in northern Syria in 2015.

He identifies himself as Korean in the video but speaks Japanese, giving the recording date as July 25, stating that he is in a bad situation and asking for help.

Sandrini gives a different date, July 19, and says that it is his last request to the Italian government.

Full report at:



UN rights office urges Saudi Arabia to free activists

Jul 31, 2018

The United Nations human rights office has called on Saudi Arabia to release all peaceful activists as Riyadh continues its heavy-handed crackdown on dissent.

Ravina Shamdasani, spokeswoman of the UN rights office, during a press briefing in the Swiss city of Geneva on Tuesday demanded the immediate release of all rights advocates, including women held for campaigning to lift a long-time ban on driving.

"We urge the government of Saudi Arabia to unconditionally release all human rights defenders and activists who have been detained for their peaceful human rights work, including their decades-long campaigns for the lifting of the driving ban for women," Shamdasani said.

“Dissent, criticism of the government is still not accepted in the country. That can explain why many of these human rights defenders and activists have been jailed. All of them have criticized government policies in one way or another,” she added.

According to the rights office, at least 15 government critics have been arrested since mid-May, the whereabouts of some are unknown amid a serious lack of transparency in the processing of their cases.

Prominent women's rights advocate Hatoon al-Fassi was one of the 15 people. She was arrested in June as she was planning to take journalists in her car to celebrate the removal of the ban on female drivers.

In July, Saudi Arabia took into custody a prominent Muslim scholar, Sheikh Safar al-Hawali, known for his opposition to some of the kingdom’s policies and the presence of American troops on the Saudi soil.

International human rights groups have long urged the kingdom to improve its treatment of rights advocates. In early June, the European Parliament issued a resolution calling for their unconditional release.

Most of the detainees are prominent figures who enjoy considerable respect among the grass roots, including university professors.

Full report at:



Assad’s forces retake Golan Heights frontier with Israel

July 31, 2018

BEIRUT: The Syrian regime regained control of the frontier with the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights for the first time in seven years on Monday, after Daesh-linked militants gave up their last pocket of territory in the area.

The breakthrough against the militants, reported by state media and an opposition-linked war-monitoring group, capped a six-week-long campaign to retake the southwest corner of the country.

Opposition captured the area along the Golan Heights after a popular uprising broke out against Bashar Assad in 2011. A Daesh-linked outfit known as the Khaled bin Al-Waleed Army later seized the area from the opposition fighters.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the militants surrendered control of the Yarmouk Basin in southwestern Syria on Monday.

The regime-affiliated Central Military Media outlet said Syria’s military secured the length of the Golan Heights frontier.

Israel seized the Golan Heights in the 1967 Mideast war and later annexed it in a move not recognized internationally.

UN peacekeeping forces first deployed along the frontier in 1974 to separate Syrian and Israeli forces.

Israel has largely kept to the sidelines of the Syrian civil war, but has said it will not allow Iran or the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah to establish a permanent military presence near the frontier. Both are allied with Assad and have provided crucial military support to his forces.

Syrian regime forces pressed ahead with their offensive despite threats by Daesh to kill civilians it recently captured in a nearby province.

The extremists abducted around 18 people, mostly women, in a wave of attacks in the nearby province of Sweida last Wednesday that killed more than 200 people.

On Saturday, the group released a hostage video of a woman saying she was being held along with other women from Sweida. The woman said she would be freed if the regime halted its offensive against the militants and released Daesh detainees. She said she was being threatened with death if the regime pressed its offensive.

The Sweida 24, an activist collective in Sweida, said Daesh sent the photos of 14 women they are holding to their relatives, saying they want to negotiate over them.

Sweida 24 said Daesh is believed to be holding 30 people, including 20 women whose ages range between 18 and 60. It said Daesh is also believed to be holding 16 young boys and girls.

The activist group said the bodies of two women were found near the village of Shabki, a focus of Wednesday’s attack. One had been shot in the head and the other, an elderly woman, apparently died of exhaustion. Four other women were found alive hiding in a cave, it said.

Those abducted are members of the minority Druze sect. Daesh has been driven from virtually all the territory it once controlled in Syria and Iraq, but holds scattered pockets in southern Syria and along the border.

Full report at:



King Faisal Center for Islamic studies signs agreement with Amazon Kindle

July 31, 2018

JEDDAH: The King Faisal Center for Research and Islamic Studies has signed a cooperation agreement with the Amazon Kindle

The center has signed the agreement with the international e-commerce company to post books and studies from the KFCRIS on Amazon Kindle e-reader website.

The publications will be available on Kindle application on mobile devices such as iPad, iPhone, Android devices and other application stores.

KFCRIS Secretary General Dr. Suood Al-Sarhan said that this step reflects the center’s keenness to spread cultural, literary and scientific Islamic and Arab heritage via this electronic platform, which began supporting Arabic books recently.

This, he said, will allow readers more access to Arabic books and publications across the world.

Full report at:



Egyptian Security Forces kill five terrorists, arrest five more

August 01, 2018

DUBAI: Egyptian security forces killed five terrorists and arrested five more after clashes erupted in Al-Qalyubia and Cairo provinces, the country’s interior ministry announced on Wednesday, Saudi state-news channel Al-Ekhbariya reported.

The terrorists were identified as being part of the “Hams” group, known for plotting attacks across the country, the ministry’s statement read.

Full report at:



South Asia


18 Dead, 15 Wounded As Standoff Ends In Jalalabad City Of Afghanistan

Jul 31 2018

At least eighteen people including three assailants were killed and at least fifteen others sustained injuries as the standoff ended in Jalalabad city, the provincial capital of eastern Nangarhar province of Afghanistan.

The provincial government media office in a statement said the attack was launched at around 12pm local time on the provincial Refugees directorate in the vicinity of the third police district of the city.

The statement further added that the attack was launched at a time when a meeting was underway to explore ways to assist with the internally displaced families and those who have repatriated to Afghanistan.

According to the provincial government, a group of three militants launched the attack with one of them initially detonating a vehicle-borne improvised explosive device near the compound and two others resisting the security forces for at least five hours.

At least fifteen people including a policeman and woman lost their lives in the attack, three assaialants were killed and at least fifteen others sustained injuries, the provincial government added.

The governor’s office in its statement also added that nine of the wounded individuals were discharged after receiving first medical aid and information the identities of thirteen others will be disclosed later.



'Very positive signals' after US, Taliban talks: sources

July 31, 2018

A meeting between a senior US diplomat and Taliban representatives in Doha last week to discuss a possible ceasefire ended with “very positive signals” and a decision to hold more meetings, people with knowledge of the talks said on Sunday.

The meeting between a delegation led by Alice Wells, deputy assistant secretary in the State Department’s Bureau of South and Central Asian Affairs, and Taliban representatives was first reported in The Wall Street Journal but has not been officially confirmed.

According to one Taliban official, who said he was part of a four-member delegation, there were “very positive signals” from the meeting, which he said was conducted in a “friendly atmosphere” in a Doha hotel.

“You can’t call it peace talks,” he said. “These are a series of meetings for initiating formal and purposeful talks. We agreed to meet again soon and resolve the Afghan conflict through dialogue.”

He said the talks had been held without the presence of Afghan government officials at the insistence of the Taliban.

The move comes as the Afghan government and the United States have stepped up efforts to end the 17 year-war in Afghanistan following the unprecedented three-day truce during last month’s Eid-ul-Fitr holiday.

The truce, which saw unarmed Taliban fighters mingling with soldiers on the streets of Kabul and other cities, offered the first concrete vision of a peace settlement since an earlier attempt at peace talks broke down in 2015.

Although the Taliban refused an offer by President Ashraf Ghani to extend the Eid ceasefire, behind-the-scenes contacts have continued and the government has said it is considering another ceasefire during next month’s Eid-al Qurban holiday.

As hopes of possible formal negotiations have risen, the United States has agreed to participate directly in the talks, although it insists the process will remain under Afghan leadership.


The Taliban official said the talks took place with the approval of the leadership council. The two sides had discussed proposals to allow the Taliban free movement in two provinces where they would not be attacked, an idea that President Ashraf Ghani has already rejected. They also discussed Taliban participation in the Afghan government.

“The only demand they made was to allow their military bases in Afghanistan,” said the Taliban official.

The meeting in Doha, where the Taliban maintains a political office, followed two earlier meetings between US officials and Taliban representatives in recent months, the sources said.

“We have held three meetings with the US and we reached a conclusion to continue talks for meaningful negotiations,” said a second Taliban official.

He said they would first exchange prisoners and then discuss other issues that could restore peace to Afghanistan.

“However, our delegation made it clear to them that peace can only be restored to Afghanistan when all foreign forces are withdrawn,” he said.

Another person with knowledge of the talks said the United States had pressed the Taliban side to accept the ceasefire offer for Eid-ul Adha, often known in Afghanistan as Eid-al Qurban, which this year starts on Aug 22.

“So a long-term ceasefire is expected on Eid-ul Adha,” the person said. “Both sides agreed upon the continuation of the meetings and talks and another meeting is expected before Eid, but the exact time and place is not clear yet.”

The State Department confirmed that Wells had visited Doha but has said only that she met Qatar government officials, including the deputy prime minister, to talk about their contributions to the situation in Afghanistan.

Asked about talks with the Taliban, a State Department spokesman referred to a July 9 comment from Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, that the United States would “support, facilitate, and participate in these peace discussions, but peace must be decided by the Afghans and settled among them.”

Full report at:



Rohingya refugees: Still searching for safety

31 Jul 2018

Under the scorching Bangladeshi sun, a group of Rohingya women trekked the steep slopes of Cox’s Bazar district singing a plaintive song:

Rape can happen to anyone.

I am not happy for this rape.

Nobody is here to listen to me.

Rape is not my fault.

These young volunteers are part of an MSF outreach team for sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV). They spend their days going door to door across the massive Rohingya refugee settlements in southern Bangladesh, gathering small groups of women to talk about sexual violence and the care available for survivors.

“After rape, come within three days for medicine,” sing the volunteers. “MSF offers free treatment and is also confidential.” They tell women that when they come to the clinic, they can point to a printed symbol or use code words for rape to avoid stigma or unwanted attention.

The Rohingya are a predominantly Muslim ethnic minority who have lived in Myanmar for hundreds of years and have endured persistent discrimination and abuse. Following a massive campaign of targeted violence against the community that began on August 25, 2017, more than 693,000 Rohingya refugees fled across the border to Bangladesh. They joined thousands of other Rohingya refugees already living in Bangladesh in squalid makeshift settlements after earlier cycles of violence and mass displacement.

Health surveys conducted by MSF teams in Balukhali and Kutupalong makeshift settlements—the two largest settlements in Cox’s Bazar—indicate that at least 6,700 people, 730 of whom were under the age of five, were killed within the first month of “clearance operations” launched by Myanmar security forces. Our patients have described widespread violence, including sexual violence.

The challenge with treating these particular women and girls was how brutal their experiences had been.

“The challenge with treating these particular women and girls was how brutal their experiences had been,” said Aerlyn Pfeil, a midwife and MSF-USA board member who helped expand the program in Cox’s Bazar to treat survivors of sexual violence last October. “A lot of gang rape, a lot of public rape, some girls who were taken for days and assaulted, often [repeatedly].”

Rashida, a 25-year old Rohingya woman, cried as she recalled the day her village was attacked by soldiers. “They made us stand all night, until dawn,” she said. Rashida tried to escape along with a group of women, but they were recaptured by the soldiers. “They killed my beloved son right in front of me. Then they closed the door and dishonored me…. [They] started slashing our bodies with knives.” Rashida survived by laying still among the bodies.

Even before the latest crisis, Rohingya women and girls were frequent targets of sexual violence in Myanmar. During the 2016 military campaign that forced tens of thousands to flee, many women sought care for sexual violence in MSF’s Kutupalong clinic in Bangladesh.

A number of them had been raped several months prior to seeking care. “[Even] before this, the military would often come and take women. Many women disappeared,” said a woman from Buthidaung township. “They raped them in the mountains or in the jungle, or took the women to their camp . . .We were always afraid.”

“Most of the women I speak with in the community don’t understand that violence requires medical attention,” said Zulia, a volunteer working with MSF pictured here. Once they reached the refugee settlements in Bangladesh, many Rohingya women delayed seeking care for a variety of reasons, including lack of knowledge about the medical consequences of sexual violence, cultural stigma, and all the pressures of daily survival.

“Violence is a historical reality for a lot of Rohingya women,” said Siobhan O’Malley, MSF midwife. “People don’t necessarily think that sexual violence is something you would seek care for unless there is a physical injury—or months afterward, when they discover they are pregnant.”

MSF medical care for survivors of sexual violence covers testing for and preventive treatment against sexually transmitted infections, menstrual regulation, and psychosocial care, as well as vaccinations for tetanus and hepatitis B. However, some medicines, such as emergency contraception and post-exposure prophylaxis for the prevention of HIV, must be given in the first 72 hours to be effective.


Prior to the latest emergency, MSF psychologist Cynthia Scott was working in Kutupalong camp counseling the Rohingya and in the capital, Dhaka, working with Bangladeshi survivors of sexual and intimate partner violence. Following the August influx, she stayed in Kutupalong full-time to help respond to the growing emergency.

“At the beginning, Rohingya women were not coming for sexual violence,” she said. “People were just focused on finding food, water, and shelter.”

During the early days of the emergency, Scott and her team at the Kutupalong hospital would only see the most vulnerable Rohingya women brought in—those with disabilities; those found in ditches or on the side of the road.

“One woman didn’t know who she was,” said Scott. “We could tell she had been beaten, so we just sat with her for a few days until she could speak.”

Later, patients would come in ostensibly seeking care for physical ailments such as body pains and headaches.

“That’s one of the benefits of integrating mental health programs in medical settings,” she said. “We can do psychosocial education in the waiting room.” MSF counselors, all of whom are Bangladeshi, hand out water and biscuits in the waiting room and explain common trauma symptoms. One day, two women at the clinic suddenly started crying. A counselor sat next to them and asked if they wanted to talk; both women were survivors of sexual violence.

“We call the center ‘shanti khana,’ which translates to a place of peace,” said Scott. If they notice anyone in distress, the MSF triage nurses will ask the patient if they would like to go to the place of peace, a name that helps reassure women and avoid stigma.


The SGBV outreach team often starts the group sessions with a story about sexual abuse or assault that then leads into a conversation about the health care provided by MSF, including the safe termination of pregnancy.

“For Rohingya women pregnancy outside of marriage is not just frowned upon, it is impossible,” said Liza Ramlow, midwife supervisor at MSF’s hospital in Balukhali settlement. “It is a tremendous violence that happens to women and can have serious consequences.”

In Myanmar, the Rohingya were often denied access to public health care, so women and girls typically fend for themselves. They seek advice from traditional healers or buy medicines from the camp themselves to end an unwanted pregnancy. “We see a lot of incomplete, septic abortions,” said O’Malley, the midwife supervisor. Patients come into the clinic hemorrhaging, extremely sick, and for MSF’s midwives it’s a race against time to save their lives. “Girls take matters into their own hands because they feel that is their only option.”

Full report at:



Jamiat Islami leaders met with Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah in Kabul

Aug 01 2018

The leaders of Jamiat Islami met with the Chief Executive of the Government of National Unity in Kabul to hold talks regarding some key national issues.

The Chief Executive of Jamiat Islami Ata Mohammad Noor in a statement said the members of the leadership council of the party hosted a meeting in Kabul last night and was attended by Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah as well.

He said the meeting focused on the situation of the country as well as the upcoming parliamentary, districts councils, and presidential elections.

According to Noor, the participants of the meeting also held talks regarding the possible vote rigging during the upcoming elections, the Grand National Coalition and its objectives and future plans as well as the merger of other coalitions with the National Grand Coalition.

This comes as less than three months are left for the parliamentary and districts councils elections.

On the other hand, sources close to the Independent Election Commission said Tuesday that the date for the presidential elections has also been set by the commission.

Full report at:



Cover-up claim over Myanmar's new Rohingya abuse probe

August 1, 2018

Rights groups say Myanmar's new commission to probe abuses against the Rohingya in Rakhine State is the start of a cover-up and designed to muddy the waters rather than hold perpetrators accountable for crimes.

Phil Robertson, deputy Asia director for Human Rights Watch, said Myanmar is still playing games and trying to divert attention from the forthcoming fact-finding mission mandated by the United Nations Human Rights Council report that will be presented in September in Geneva.

"This all looks like a new phase in Myanmar's efforts to obstruct international justice for Tatmadaw [military] and police commanders and troops who committed ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity against the Rohingya in northern Rakhine," Robertson told

Myanmar has established a commission with two international and two local members to be led by Rosario Manalo, a former deputy foreign minister of the Philippines and a representative of the Philippines to the U.N. Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination against Women.

Kenzo Oshima, a former permanent representative to the U.N. for Japan, is another member of the commission. The two locals are Mya Thein, a former chair of Myanmar's Constitutional Tribunal, and Aung Tun Thet, a former senior official at UNICEF.

"Myanmar has established an independent commission of inquiry as part of its national initiative to address reconciliation, peace, stability and development in Rakhine," said the president's office announcement on July 30.

Robertson said Manolo has played the "go along to get along" game in ASEAN for years, especially on the ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights, where he claimed she was more interested in playing politics than protecting rights.

She was the primary mover behind an ill-advised campaign for ASEAN to draft its own human rights conventions, which would have undermined international human rights standards in a fundamental way, he said.

Robertson said Aung Tun Thet has proved to be clearly biased and is entirely inappropriate for this role. He served on the 2016 national investigation that refuted the U.N. Human Rights Council's report in February 2016. He has frequently spoken out to deny that any ethnic cleansing or crimes have taken place in Rakhine State, according to Robertson.

More than 700,000 Rohingya were forced to flee their homes in northern Rakhine after Myanmar's military crackdown followed attacks by the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army on police posts last August.

Aye Lwin, a Muslim leader and a member of the Kofi Annan-led Rakhine Advisory Commission, said the commission is a positive step in tackling rights abuses in Rakhine.

"Whenever problems occur, we need commissions to solve them. But it is early to evaluate the performance of this commission," Aye Lwin told

He said Annan's commission had given suggestions and the government is implementing some of its recommendations, especially for road and development projects.

"But many things need to be implemented, especially [to change] attitudes and distrust between the two communities and tackling hate speech and fake news," Aye Lwin said.

In June, the Myanmar government's proposal to establish a commission with international members drew strong criticism from military lawmakers, the military-linked Union Solidarity and Development Party and Rakhine politicians who claimed it would affect Myanmar's sovereignty.

Pe Than, a Lower-House MP for the Arakan National Party in Rakhine, said the government was attempting to reduce pressure from the international community.

Full report at:



Myanmar roundly shamed over human rights inquiry panel

Aug 1, 2018

Various human rights activists and observers have roundly denounced Myanmar’s decision to appoint a commission of inquiry into widespread human rights abuses perpetrated with the state’s own backing and with the military’s direct participation against the Rohingya Muslim community.

The Myanmarese government said on Monday that it had established a new “independent” commission to investigate the “allegations” of human rights abuses in Rakhine State — where the Rohingya had been primarily located — despite the mountain of evidence indicating “systematic ethnic cleansing” against the minority Muslims.

Rakhine first came under a military crackdown in late 2016, when the government laid siege to the state and blocked media access. Nevertheless, reports slowly began to emerge of horrific violence committed against the Muslim community. Accounts of killings, beheadings, arson attacks, and rapes by Myanmarese government soldiers and Buddhist mobs leaked out as many Rohingya Muslims began to flee in August last year.

Tens of thousands of the Muslims are now living in crowded, squalid camps in neighboring Bangladesh, where international medics have verified that wounds on the bodies of the Muslim survivors of the violence correspond with their accounts of brutal violence, including, in some cases, rape with sharp objects.

The Myanmarese government and military have denied almost all allegations of violence.

The government has previously established other inquiries — only to conclude that no violations had taken place.

The new body includes, among others, senior adviser to Myanmar’s president, Aung Tun Thet; the former chair of Myanmar’s constitutional tribunal U Mya Thein; former Philippine deputy foreign minister Rosario Manalo; and Japan’s former UN representative Kenzo Oshima.

The government did not provide further information, including about the commission’s powers or the time frame it has been given to complete a potential report.

‘A rude gesture’ - ‘a distraction’ - ‘emboldening perpetrators’

Sean Bain, a legal adviser to the International Commission of Jurists (ICJ), has criticized the appointments.

Such commissions, he wrote on Twitter, “tend to be ad hoc, rarely if ever lead to prosecution & fail to provide redress. Impunity results, undermining justice & emboldening perpetrators.”

Myanmar-based analyst David Mathieson also condemned the move, calling it a “political gimmick.”

“Given the weight of evidence collected by Amnesty International, the UN and the media, this CoI (Commission of Inquiry) is tantamount to a rude gesture, not a genuine inquiry,” he said, adding that the move could only “collide with a military covering up ethnic cleansing.”

Human Rights Watch Myanmar researcher Rich Weir said the country would use the new body as “distractions and shields from criticism and pressure,” as it did with the previous such inquiries.

A coordinator for the London-based Free Rohingya Coalition, Nay San Lwin, said Myanmar had been forming inquiry, investigation, and advisory commissions since 2012, none of which “found any solution for the Rohingya, but mostly advocated for the government and military.”

He said the former Advisory Commission on Rakhine, led by former UN secretary general Kofi Annan, “only advised.”

The government did not even implement the recommendations made by that commission, he said.

Other state-run commissions also claimed the military had not committed any crimes against the Rohingya people, Lwin said.

One of the members of the new commission, Aung Tun Thet, has already denied ethnic cleansing charges. This is while the United Nations has effectively confirmed such cleansing has occurred. The UN has said “acts of genocide” have also most likely been perpetrated against the Rohingya people.

Full report at:





Iran says Trump offer of talks is ‘humiliation’, without value

31 July 2018

Senior Iranian officials on Tuesday rejected US President Donald Trump’s offer of talks without preconditions as worthless and “a humiliation” after he acted to re-impose sanctions on Tehran following his withdrawal from a landmark nuclear deal.

Separately, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said Trump’s repudiation of the accord reached in 2015 was “illegal” and Iran would not easily yield to Washington’s renewed campaign to strangle Iran’s vital oil exports.

In May, Trump pulled the United States out of the multilateral deal concluded before he took office, denouncing it as one-sided in Iran’s favor. On Monday, he declared that he would be willing to meet Rouhani without preconditions to discuss how to improve relations.

The head of Iran’s Strategic Council on Foreign Relations said on Tuesday Tehran saw no worth in Trump’s offer, made only a week after he warned Iran it risked dire consequences few had ever suffered in history if it made threats against Washington.

“Based on our bad experiences in negotiations with America and based on US officials’ violation of their commitments, it is natural that we see no value in his proposal,” Kamal Kharrazi was quoted as saying by the semi-official Fars news agency.

“Trump should first make up for his withdrawal from the nuclear deal and show that he respects his predecessors’ commitments and international law,” added Kharrazi, a former foreign minister. The council was set up by Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei to help formulate long-term policies for the Islamic Republic.

Trump’s move to force Iran into fresh negotiations has for now reunited Iranian hardliners who opposed the nuclear deal and moderates like Rouhani who championed it to end the Islamic Republic’s economically crippling stand-off with Western powers.

Ali Motahari, the deputy speaker of Iran’s parliament who is seen as part of Iran’s moderate camp, said that to negotiate with Trump now “would be a humiliation”. “If Trump had not withdrawn from the nuclear deal and not imposed (new) sanctions on Iran, there would be no problem with negotiations with America,” he told state news agency IRNA.

Iran’s interior minister chimed in that Tehran did not trust Washington as a negotiating partner. “The United States is not trustworthy. How can we trust this country when it withdraws unilaterally from the nuclear deal?” Abdolreza Rahmani Fazli was quoted as saying by the semi-official Fars news agency.

A senior aide to Rouhani said the only way back to talks was for Washington to return to the nuclear agreement. “Respecting the Iranian nation’s rights, reducing hostilities and returning to the nuclear deal are steps that can be taken to pave the bumpy road of talks between Iran and America,” Hamid Aboutalebi tweeted on Tuesday.

Under the 2015 deal, the fruit of Rouhani’s efforts to ease Iran’s international isolation to help revive its economy, Iran curbed its shadowy nuclear program and won relief from UN and Western sanctions in return.

Nuclear pact in jeopardy

Trump condemned the deal in part because it did not cover Iran’s ballistic missile program and involvement in Middle East conflicts. He reactivated US sanctions, the most all-encompassing measures against Iran, and warned countries to stop importing Iranian oil from Nov. 4 or risk US penalties.

The three major European signatories to the 2015 deal have been searching for ways to salvage it but cautioned Tehran that they may not be able to persuade many major investors not to bolt from business with Iran to avoid US punishment.

Rouhani said during a meeting with Britain’s ambassador on Tuesday that after what he called the “illegal” US withdrawal from the nuclear deal, “the ball is in Europe’s court now”. He added, “The Islamic Republic has never sought tension in the region and does not want any trouble in global waterways, but it will not easily give up on its rights to export oil.”

Rouhani and some senior military commanders have said Iran could disrupt oil shipments from Gulf states through the Strait of Hormuz if Washington tries to choke off Iranian oil exports. Reiterating Tehran’s official stance, Iranian Navy Commander Rear Admiral Hossein Khanzadi was quoted as saying by Tasnim news agency on Tuesday that the strait would remain open “if Iran’s national interests are preserved”.



Tehran, Moscow, Ankara urge countering plots to partition Syria

Jul 31, 2018

Iran, Russia and Turkey, as guarantor states for a peace process in Syria, have expressed their firm determination to counter any plot aimed at partitioning the Arab country.

Russian Special Envoy for Syria Alexander Lavrentiev made the remarks while reading a joint statement issued by representatives of the three countries on Tuesday at the end of the tenth round of the two-day International Meeting on Syria in the Black Sea resort of Sochi. 

"The Islamic Republic of Iran, the Russian Federation and the Republic of Turkey confirmed their strong adherence to the sovereignty, independence, unity, and territorial integrity of Syria," Lavrentiev said.

He added that the sides reaffirmed their determination to continue the combat against terrorism in Syria in order to completely eradicate terrorist groups, including Daesh and al-Nusra Front, and other people, groups, companies and organizations relating to al-Qaeda or Daesh and which the UN Security Council recognizes as such.

The Russian diplomat said the parties would continue to make joint efforts to promote a process of political settlement which is led and implemented by Syrians themselves in order to establish conditions that facilitate the early work of a constitutional committee in Geneva.

Iran, Turkey and Russia called on the international community, especially the UN and its humanitarian agencies, to increase assistance to Syria, restore life support facilities and social-economic infrastructure as well as preserve historic heritage, Lavrentiev added.

He noted that the three countries started discussions in coordination with the international community, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and other related international organizations in order to establish due conditions for the early voluntary and safe return of internally displaced people and refugees to their homes in Syria.

The Russian envoy said Tehran, Moscow and Ankara would make joint efforts in order to strengthen trust between conflicting sides in Syria, including in a framework of the working group on the release of detainees/abductees and handover of bodies, as well as the identification of missing persons with the participation of UN experts and the International Committee of the Red Cross.

Lavrentiev further added, "The parties have decided to hold the next international high-level meeting on Syria in November 2018."

UN envoy plans talks with Iran, Russia, Turkey on new Syria constitution

The UN peace envoy for Syria, Staffan de Mistura, also said on Tuesday that he plans to host Iran, Russia and Turkey for talks in September on finalizing a committee to write a new Syrian constitution.

"The special envoy looks forward to holding formal consultations with the Islamic Republic of Iran, the Russian Federation and the Republic of Turkey, very early in September in Geneva, in order to begin to finalize the constitutional committee," de Mistura's office said in a statement.

Turkey, Iran and Russia are the guarantors of a countrywide ceasefire in Syria. The three have been mediating a peace process since January 2016 among Syria’s warring sides in Astana, Kazakhstan.

Syria has been gripped by foreign-backed militancy since March 2011. The Syrian government says the Israeli regime and its Western and regional allies are aiding Takfiri terrorist groups wreaking havoc in the country.

Full report at:



Yemeni army liberates strategic positions in Nahm province

August 01, 2018

DUBAI: Yemen’s army, backed by the Arab coalition, liberated strategic positions in Nahm province on Wednesday, east of Sanaa, amid major clashes with the Houthi militia, Saudi state-news channel Al-Ekhbariya reported.

In a statement issued by the Yemeni Armed Forces media center, a military source revealed that the liberation took place in the early hours of Wednesday morning, with 17 militants killed and a number of military equipment destroyed.



Trump says willing to meet with Iran leaders ‘any time’

31 July 2018

US President Donald Trump said on Monday he would be willing to meet Iran’s leader without preconditions to discuss how to improve ties after he pulled the United States out of the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, saying, “If they want to meet, we’ll meet.”

“I’d meet with anybody. I believe in meetings,” especially in cases where war is at stake, Trump said at a White House news conference when asked whether he was willing to meet with Iranian President Hassan Rowhani.

In response, Iran said the way back to talks was for the United States to return to the nuclear deal between Iran and six major powers that Trump exited in May.

“Respecting the Iranian nation’s rights, reducing hostilities and returning to the nuclear deal are steps that can be taken to pave the bumpy road of talks between Iran and America,” Hamid Aboutalebi, an adviser to Rouhani, tweeted on Tuesday.

Washington aims to force Tehran to end its nuclear program and its support of militant groups in the Middle East, where Iran is involved in proxy wars from Yemen to Syria.

Iran and other signatories have been working to find a way to salvage the nuclear agreement, even as the United States has begun reimposing some sanctions on Iran.

No US president has met with an Iranian leader since the Washington cut diplomatic relations with Tehran a year after the 1979 revolution that toppled the shah, a US ally. President Barack Obama broke a three-decade freeze with a phone call to Rowhani in 2013.

The White House clarified that Trump’s potential willingness to meet with his Iranian counterpart does not change his administration’s intent to ratchet up sanctions and rhetoric against Tehran with the stated goal of “seeking changes in the Iranian government’s behavior.”

But Trump’s remarks did represent a marked softening of tone from a week ago, when he lashed out at Rowhani in a tweet, saying “Never, ever threaten the United States again or you will suffer consequences the likes of which few throughout history have ever suffered before.”

Shortly before that July 22 tweet, Rouhani had addressed Trump in a speech, saying that hostile US policies could lead to “the mother of all wars”.

On Monday, speaking at a news conference with visiting Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte, Trump said: “I would certainly meet with Iran if they wanted to meet. I don’t know that they’re ready yet. I ended the Iran deal. It was a ridiculous deal. I do believe that they will probably end up wanting to meet and I’m ready to meet any time that they want to.”

Trump said he had “no preconditions” for a meeting with the Iranians, adding: “If they want to meet, I’ll meet.”

The White House said that even though the president “is open to dialogue and negotiation,” it did not mean the United States would lift sanctions or re-establish diplomatic and commercial relations.

Full report at:



Iran ready to help Tajikistan probe terrorist attack: Foreign Ministry

Jul 31, 2018

Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Bahram Qassemi has slammed a terrorist attack in Tajikistan that killed four Western tourists, expressing Tehran's readiness to help Dushanbe investigate the incident.

"We condemn any act of terror in different parts of the world, including the recent incident against foreign tourists in Tajikistan," Qassemi said on Tuesday.

He also criticized accusations made in a statement by Tajikistan's interior ministry against Iran.

"The Islamic Republic of Iran strongly denies any link with this incident and the existence of any base inside its territory for training [terrorists to carry out] acts of sabotage," the Iranian spokesperson said.

Iran is also ready to cooperate with Tajik authorities to investigate all aspects of the terrorist attack, he added.

Two Americans, a Dutch and a Swiss citizen were killed Sunday about 100 kilometers (60 miles) from Dushanbe after being struck by a car and attacked on a popular cycling route. The Daesh terrorist group on Monday claimed responsibility for the attack. After the crash, the attackers also stabbed their victims.

Tajikistan's security forces killed four suspected attackers on Monday and detained one. In a statement on Tuesday, the interior ministry said it had detained four more suspects and claimed that the attackers’ leader had been trained in Iran.

Qassemi dismissed such baseless and unfounded allegations, saying that the claims are detrimental to cordial relations between Iran and Tajikistan.

He expressed hope that the two countries would strengthen relations and would not allow enemies to damage ties by raising such issues.

Full report at:



Norway: Israel must explain seizure of Gaza-bound boat

Aug 1, 2018

Norway’s Foreign Ministry calls on the regime in Israel to explain the legal grounds on which it seized a Norwegian-flagged boat taking humanitarian aid supplies to the Tel Aviv-blockaded Gaza Strip.

“We have asked the Israeli authorities to clarify the circumstances around the seizure of the vessel and the legal basis for the intervention,” a ministry spokesman said on Tuesday, Reuters reported.

The Israeli navy intercepted the vessel al-Awda (Return) some 60 nautical miles off the coast in international waters on Sunday.

The captain was struck on the head by the forces, who had ordered him to sail to the coastline of the Israeli-occupied territories instead, said Torstein Dahle, the head of Ship to Gaza Norway, which had organized the trip.

The ministry said that its diplomatic mission in Israel was trying to secure the release of five Norwegians who were sailing on board the vessel among 22 others. Two Israelis on board were, however, quickly released.

A spokesman for Israel’s ministry for foreign affairs declined to comment on the matter.

Dahle said al-Awda was the first Norwegian aid vessel to try to break Israel’s siege of the territory that has been in place since 2007.

“This is a peaceful boat; it’s impossible that it can threaten Israel’s security,” he said.

The intercepted vessel is one of four ships that make up Freedom Flotilla, an international coalition seeking to take aid to Gaza despite the siege.

A Swedish-flagged boat from the flotilla is now reportedly on its way to the coastal strip.

In May 2010, an Israeli raid on a similar flotilla, comprising six civilian ships, killed 10 Turkish activists in the high seas. The incident outraged the international community.

Israel enforces the blockade claiming that it prevents arms smuggling to the Palestinian resistance movement of Hamas.

Full report at:



Yemen's Houthis unilaterally halt retaliatory attacks in Red Sea

Aug 1, 2018

Yemen’s Houthi Ansarullah movement has unilaterally suspended its retaliatory attacks in the Red Sea, from where Saudi-led warships have been targeting the war-torn state, especially its strategic port city of Hudaydah.

In a statement released on Tuesday, the Houthi-run Supreme Revolutionary Committee (SRC) said the two-week suspension was meant to support efforts aimed at resolving the Yemeni conflict.

“The unilateral halt in naval military operations will be for a limited time period and could be extended and include all fronts if this move is reciprocated by the leadership of the [Saudi-led] coalition,” SRC head Mohammed Ali al-Houthi said.

The announcement comes less than a week after Saudi Arabia temporarily suspended all oil shipments through the Bab el-Mandeb Strait, the southern entrance to the Red Sea.

Riyadh’s move followed Yemeni retaliatory attacks on the Saudi Dammam frigate off the western coast of Yemen and a coalition boat off the coast of el-Durayhmi in southern Hudaydah, which the Saudi-led coalition and their allied militants have been seeking to seize in a weeks-long military push.

However, Saudi Arabia claimed that Houthi fighters had attacked two oil tankers in the Red Sea, and thus it had decided to halt oil shipments via Bab el-Mandeb until the waterway was safe.

Elsewhere in his statement, Houthi complained that as a result of the Saudi-led aggression and siege of Yemen, people are suffering from the worst humanitarian crisis in the world.

The halt to retaliatory attacks in the Red Sea is aimed at “preserving the Yemeni bloods and in response to the regional and international moves and efforts aiming to bring peace,” he noted.

Additionally on Tuesday, a Yemeni Defense Ministry official confirmed that the Houthis were halting naval operations for two weeks, starting at midnight (2000 GMT) on August 1.

“We welcome any initiative to spare bloodshed and stop aggression against Yemen,” the official said in a statement carried by Yemen’s official SABA news agency.

Over the past weeks, the UN special envoy to Yemen Martin Griffiths has been shuttling between the warring parties to help stop the Saudi-led offensive on Yemen’s Red Sea port city of Hudaydah, which the world body says could lead to a humanitarian catastrophe.

Saudi Arabia and its allies launched the war in March 2015 in support of Yemen’s former Riyadh-friendly government and against the Houthis.

Several Western countries have been supplying Saudi Arabia with advanced weapons and military equipment.

Yemeni forces regularly target positions inside Saudi Arabia and fire rockets at the coalition’s battleships in retaliatory attacks against the Riyadh-led military operation on Yemen.

Full report at:



Fresh Saudi airstrikes leave four civilians dead in western Yemen

Jul 31, 2018

At least four civilians have been killed when Saudi military aircraft carried out airstrikes against an area in Yemen’s strategic western coastal province of Hudaydah as the Riyadh regime presses ahead with its atrocious bombardment campaign against its southern neighbor.

Saudi fighter jets conducted aerial assaults against the Office of Agricultural Extension in the al-Durayhimi district of the province on Tuesday afternoon, leaving four people dead and two others injured, unnamed local sources told Yemen’s Arabic-language al-Masirah television network.

Earlier in the day, Saudi warplanes targeted a residential building in Bani Sa’ad area of the al-Dhaher district in the mountainous northwestern province of Sa’ada. There were no immediate reports about possible casualties and the extent of damage caused. Separately, scores of Saudi-backed militiamen loyal to resigned president Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi were killed when a powerful bomb explosion ripped through their military vehicle in Hudaydah province.

A Yemeni military source, speaking on condition of anonymity, said Yemeni army soldiers, supported by fighters from allied Popular Committees, detonated a roadside bomb as the vehicle was travelling along a road in the al-Faazeh area.

Bombing in Aden wounds politician, three others

Meanwhile, Yemeni officials say a prominent politician, his son and two other people have sustained injuries in roadside bombing in the southern port city of Aden.

The officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the assassination attempt targeted Aref Ahmed Ali of the Salafist Islah Party in Maala neighborhood of the city, situated 346 kilometers (214 miles) south of the capital Sana’a.

They added that the wounded have been taken to hospitals for treatment.

No group has claimed the responsibility for the attack yet.

The bomb came only two days after unknown gunmen fatally shot Colonel Nasser Makireh al-Jaadani, an intelligence official at the Aden airport in front of Ba Janid Mosque in the central Khor Mukasar district of Aden.

Jaadani’s body was later transferred to the Republican Hospital.

The assassination came as the city of Aden has been recently witnessing a growing number of assassinations of security officials and Muslim preachers.

The Yemeni Ministry of Human Rights announced in a statement on March 25 that the Saudi-led war had left some 600,000 civilians dead and injured since March 2015.

The United Nations says a record 22.2 million Yemenis are in need of food aid, including 8.4 million threatened by severe hunger.

A high-ranking UN aid official has warned against the “catastrophic” living conditions in Yemen, stating that there is a growing risk of famine and cholera there.

Full report at:





Boko Haram: Stop ‘secret’ burial of fallen soldiers, BBOG tells Nigerian govt

July 31, 2018

A pressure group, Bring Back Our Girls (BBOG), has asked the federal government to stop the secret burial of soldiers killed on the battlefield.

In a statement signed by its leaders, Oby Ezekwesili, Aisha Yesufu and Florence Ozor, the group made this call while reacting to photos of mass burial of some fallen soldiers days after the Nigerian military denied its soldiers were attacked.

PREMIUM TIMES had reported how the Nigerian military denied that about 23 soldiers and eight trucks went missing after the troops suffered an ambush attack by Boko Haram gunmen in Bama local government area of Borno State on July 16.

The attack which occurred three days earlier, was not made public by the military until the media published it.

A spokesperson for the Nigeria Army, Texas Chukwu, who confirmed the incident, had said it was “blown out of proportion by the media”.

In its statement, the BBOG, which has been championing the return of abducted Chibok schoolgirls since 2014 described the military’s denial as unfortunate.

“Were Nigerians not told that the military has won the war? What then is the reason for the escalation of attacks by the terrorists and the heightened loss of life of citizens and our soldiers?

“The #BringBackOurGirls Advocacy has been consistent in voicing the correlation between the wellbeing of our troops, the rescue of our #ChibokGirls and the end of the insurgency.

”It is therefore disheartening that several months after the federal government’s announcement that Boko Haram has been technically defeated, we see pictures of a mass burial for our troops, killed by Boko Haram,” part of the statement read.

The movement also listed new demands:

”The Military Authority should immediately confirm the number of our soldiers that have died within this month of July 2018. Their families and Nigerians should have a brief on the circumstances of their deaths as a means to healing, to have closure. Their names should be released for proper honour as obtains in other climes.

”We take exception to what is to all intent, a secret burial of our fallen heroes. Those responsible for the safety of our troops should be sanctioned for this failure and measures must be put in place to prevent further deaths and damage to the morale of our troops. We question why the current status of our defence budget is at variance with the safety and wellbeing of our troops in this fight against Boko Haram.

”We still stand on the demand we have made previously, for the federal government to institute a monthly Counter-Terrorism Status Report to the Nigerian Public.”

The group demanded to know the federal government’s strategy to stop the killings and abductions.

“This insurgency is more than eight years, when will Nigeria’s enemy be truly defeated? When will our 112 #ChibokGirls be rescued? When will #LeahSharibu (an abductee) come home?”

When contacted, the army spokesperson, Jude Chukwu, declined comments but said: “the case is in the past”.

“I don’t know. I don’t know please,” was all he added when prompted further.



Nigeria Shiite cleric supporters acquitted of protest charges

July 31, 2018

A Nigerian judge on Tuesday cleared over 80 Shiite supporters of a pro-Iranian cleric of criminal charges linked to a violent protest in 2015, defence and prosecution lawyers said.

Justice David Shiri Wyom at the Kaduna State High Court ruled in favour of the defence's no case submission, saying that the state did not present enough evidence to go ahead with proceedings.

Prosecutors had said the supporters of pro-Iranian cleric Ibrahim Zakzaky had conspired to attack the military convoy of army chief Tukur Buratai.

"What the court found was that there was no credible evidence," defence lawyer Maxwell Kyon told AFP.

"It's really a big victory," Kyon said, noting that the ruling could bolster Zakzaky's case.

Zakzaky, who is accused of orchestrating the attack, has been detained since 2015 despite court orders that he should be freed. The court is set to hear his bail application on Thursday.

"He (Zakzaky) is standing trial for having abetted the commission of the offences, so if the court has now found that no such offences were committed, it becomes difficult to convict someone for abetting the omission of these crimes," said Kyon.

Zakzaky has been at loggerheads with Nigeria's secular authorities for years because of his call for an Iranian-style Islamic revolution

Prosecutor Dari Bayero said that he is "in the process" of appealing Tuesday's ruling.

"We are totally dissatisfied with the ruling of the court," Bayero said.

An estimated 100 more of Zakzaky's Islamic Movement of Nigeria (IMN) supporters are still in prison in connection with the 2015 clashes.

Full report at:



Seven soldiers, four extremists killed in clash in Algeria

31 July 2018

Algeria’s defense ministry said that seven soldiers and four extremists were killed in a violent clash in the area of Skikda, some 420 kilometers east of the capital Algiers.

The skirmish occurred Monday in the locality of Bessi during a search and sweep operation. The ministry confirmed Tuesday the “elimination” of four “terrorists” during the operation in which the military recovered three machine guns.

Police and military forces said the dead soldiers’ bodies were taken to the local morgue and several other soldiers who were wounded were treated in the Skikda hospital.

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Boko Haram attacks on military bases

August 1, 2018

EAGER to show that it has not lost its capacity to wreak havoc, Boko Haram has again been bombarding the Nigerian military. To underscore their readiness to fight to the death, the jihadists have launched horrendous attacks on Nigerian soldiers in Borno and Yobe states. They first ambushed a military convoy before attacking a military base, both within a space of 24 hours. Trying to contain the damage, the military authorities have been coy about the extent of damage to life and property. The upsurge bodes ill for the country.

The attacks represent a dampener for the military’s confidence. In the initial episode, the militants ambushed a military convoy in Bama, Borno State. In the ensuing fighting, scores of soldiers from the 21 Brigade were displaced. Aside from those missing in action, an AFP report said the corpses of 10 soldiers were recovered after the skirmishes, in addition to the members of the Civilian Joint Task Force that died. Although the military officials later confirmed the incident, the casualty number is hazy. This weird, opaque method negates global best practices in military circles. In the 14 years to 2015, the British government stated that 456 members of its Army, Royal Air Force, Royal Marines and Special Forces lost their lives in the fight against the Taliban in Afghanistan. This is openness.

The second attack, which occurred in nearby Yobe State, a day later, was just as devastating for the military. This time, the jihadists used their huge number to overwhelm the 81 Division Forward Brigade located at Jilli, Geidam. The base also lost some of its equipment to the insurgents. The base reportedly has over 700 personnel, with most of them just deployed from Lagos in the theatre of war. Initial reports said less than just 100 troops were accounted for after a fierce encounter that lasted for over two hours.

This is revealing. For Boko Haram to attack the base before the new arrivals had settled down to business suggests strongly that it still has moles in the security apparatus. Without a counter-operation to smoke out these infiltrators, the military might continue to suffer heavy losses. This will unduly prolong the insurgency, which manifested fully in 2009 when Boko Haram gained worldwide notoriety by attacking security agents and soft targets in the North-East.

It is also a reversal of the gains made by the military in the past few years. On assuming office in May 2015, President Muhammadu Buhari had rejuvenated the anti-terror war. His infusion of fresh impetus into the war, which has claimed over 100,000 lives since inception (according Governor Kashim Shettima of Borno State), saw the military recapturing the territories confiscated by the insurgents.

Under Tukur Buratai, the Chief of Army Staff, the military made inroads into the Sambisa Forest, the stronghold of the terrorists. Instructively, Boko Haram operations are now largely restricted to the North-East. On July 18, the Intelligence Response Team, a special team of police officers, finally arrested 22 top Boko Haram commanders. Some of them played major roles in the April 2014 abduction of 276 Chibok schoolgirls, suicide bombings and the ambush of security operatives, said Damian Chukwu, the Borno State Commissioner of Police.

Nevertheless, the fresh attacks hint at the tenuous hold of the military on the reclaimed territories, which should not be the case. In February, a Boko Haram breakaway faction had kidnapped another set of 106 schoolgirls in Dapchi, Yobe State. About two million persons, who have been displaced internally by the insurgency, are yet to return home because they are susceptible to attacks. All this underlines the tenacity of the Salafist ideology driving the Boko Haram insurgency. Therefore, it is high time the country devised fresh winning strategies to defeat the militants.

Normally, a military base is a fortress. As such, it ought to be impenetrable for Boko Haram. Repelling attacks by insurgents is not good enough, the military have to up the ante. They should be the first to go on the all-out offensive against the jihadists. When the terrorists are on the defensive, they will be incapable of mounting attacks on military formations.

If there must be an end to this war soon, it will come by scaling up intelligence gathering and infiltration of Boko Haram operations. In this wise, high technology becomes relevant. The Buhari administration should equip the military and the State Security Service with more technological tools, and training of officers in counter-insurgency. Enlisting the assistance of Israel, the United States, Britain and France, countries that have experienced a high degree of Islamist terrorism before, can make a world of difference between success and failure.

It is an open fact that Boko Haram insurgents are a well-motivated bunch. Apart from financial inducement, the false ideology of paradise and martyrdom fuels their rabid rebellion against constituted authorities. To counter this, the military should make the welfare of soldiers on the warfront paramount.

There is no greater morale booster than success in the battlefield. This, the United States understands perfectly well with the operation that eliminated al-Qaeda leader, Osama bin Laden, in 2011. He was trailed doggedly and killed by US Navy SEALs in Abbottabad, Pakistan. Thus, the military have to score big by targeting Abubakar Shekau, who assumed the Boko Haram leadership when Mohammed Yusuf died in 2009. Not him alone: also, to be taken out is Abu-Mus’ab al-Barnawi, the factional Boko Haram leader, whose group specialises in attacking the security forces. By eliminating the leaders, the sect would have lost some grounds to the Nigerian military, which just reshuffled the pack in the theatre of war.

Full report at:





UN 'not doing enough' on Israeli-Palestinian conflict

01 August 2018

The UN Security Council is not doing enough to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian issue, Sweden’s ambassador to the UN said Tuesday.

“Resolving it should be a priority. Has it been a priority? I am afraid not,” said Olof Skoog, speaking at the UN at the end of his country's Security Council presidency.

Skoog said recent events “have been moving us away from peace” in the region, citing the U.S.’s decision to move its embassy in Tel Aviv to Jerusalem and Israel’s Jewish nation-state law.

"We are very close to another Gaza war. Almost on a daily basis the tensions are there that could escalate very quickly. So it is a very very dangerous situation.

"And I do not think that the Security Council has done enough about it," Skoog said.

He also said the council had failed to take a humanitarian approach in Gaza, Palestine, adding he did not see any movement forward for resolving the conflict. 

Sweden did not approve of the embassy decision announced by the U.S. in May, which was met with discord among the international community, he recalled.

On July 19, Israel’s parliament passed a law which declares the country to be “the nation-state of the Jewish people”.

The law does not promote Palestinian participation in political life in the country, Skoog said.

“We’ve made sure that every member on the Security Council understands exactly what life is in Gaza,” he added.



Kazan Film Festival inspires dialogue between cultures

August 1, 2018

The Kazan International Muslim Film Festival, scheduled for Sept. 5-11, has been organized in the Republic of Tatarstan's capital city Kazan since 2005. The first festival was initiated by the Russian Council of Muftis, the Federal Agency for Culture and Cinematography of Russia and the Tatarstani Culture Ministry with the support of the Tatarstani presidency.

The motto of the festival is: "To the dialogue of cultures through the culture of dialogue." Its aim is to provide workers in the culture and art fields a chance to exchange experiences as well as recognize the creative achievements of Muslim cinematographers and representatives of other religious affiliations who make films popularizing cultural traditions, and spiritual and moral values. It also aims to promote the positive aspects of Islam and Muslims to the rest of the world, especially the Russian community.

The members of the selective committee and the jury of the festival are comprised of well-known professionals in the arts, such as filmmakers, cameramen and film critics from all over the world.

The numbers of participants and participating films has steadily increased every year. Forty films from 12 countries were selected for the first festival, while 400 films from 67 countries were sent to this year's festival. Global participation in the festival is also expanding with an ever-growing number of participating countries. As a result, the international status of the festival improves every year through the growing list of participating films and esteemed guests from all over the world.

The films reflect humanitarian, spiritual and moral values as well as cultural traditions by supporting peacemaking, tolerance and humanity regardless of nationality and religious affiliation. The selective committee members are respected Russian and foreign film critics. They thoroughly analyze the films sent to the festival and as a result, interesting, original, vivid films that deserve the audience's attention and praise are selected for the competitive program.

Full report at:



Islamic State claims attack on bicyclists that left 2 Americans, 2 Europeans dead

August 1st 2018

MOSCOW (AP) — The Islamic State group on Tuesday claimed responsibility for a car-and-knife attack on Western tourists cycling in Tajikistan that killed two Americans and two Europeans.

Officials in the ex-Soviet Central Asian nation didn't publicly address the IS claim and instead blamed the Sunday attack on a banned local Islamist group. The young men featured in an IS-linked video resembled the individuals that Tajik authorities identified as attack suspects who were later killed by police.

The Islamic State group said in a statement late Monday that several of its soldiers attacked the "citizens of the Crusader coalition."

The four tourists were killed when a car rammed into a group of foreigners on bicycles south of the capital of Dushanbe, Tajik officials have said. The driver and the passengers then got out and attacked the cyclists with knives.

Two of the victims were American, one was Swiss and the fourth was from the Netherlands, foreign and Tajik officials said. The three people injured included a woman from Switzerland.

A video posted on an IS-linked website Tuesday shows five men sitting on a hill against the backdrop of a black-and-white IS flag and declaring allegiance to IS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. The men say they're from Tajikistan and pledge to slaughter disbelievers in the name of Allah. A note accompanying the video said the men took part in the weekend attack.

Tajikistan's Interior Ministry posted photos Tuesday of what it said were the bodies of four suspected attackers lying dead in a field. Three of the men resemble ones in the IS video.

It blamed the attack on the Islamic Renaissance Party of Tajikistan, a local party banned several years ago for allegedly plotting to overthrow the government.

Tajikistan, an impoverished, predominantly Muslim nation of some 8 million people, was devastated by a 5-year civil war with Islamist-inspired rebel forces that ended in 1997.

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Tajikistan blames Daesh-claimed attack on opposition

Jul 31, 2018

Police in Tajikistan have blamed an outlawed opposition party for a car-ramming attack that killed four tourists and that has been claimed by the Takfiri Daesh terrorist group.

Police said in a statement on Tuesday that a detained man, identified as the mastermind of the Sunday car-ramming attack — which killed two Americans, a Swiss and a Dutch national — was an “active member” of the so-called Islamic Renaissance Party of Tajikistan, which was outlawed by the country’s supreme court in 2015.

The statement identified the suspect as 33-year-old Hussein Abdusamadov.

The Daesh terrorist group had on Monday claimed responsibility for the attack in Danghara.

Although the assault was initially reported as a hit-and-run car accident, Interior Minister Ramazon Hamro Rahimzoda said on Monday that the assailants “had knives and firearms.” He added that one of the three tourists who survived the car-ramming but was stabbed was being treated in hospital.

Full report at:




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