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Islamic World News ( 2 Jan 2017, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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Muslim Minor Can Wed, but Can't Sign Agreement: Gujarat High Court

New Age Islam News Bureau

2 Jan 2017

Iraqi civilians flee Mosul's eastern Al-Intisar neighbourhood on December 31, 2016 ©Ahmad Al-Rubaye (AFP/File)


 Muslim Minor Can Wed, but Can't Sign Agreement: Gujarat High Court

 Amir Jamaat-e-Islami Suggests Formation of ‘Muslim Bloc’

 No Country Is Safe From Terror: Turkish PM Yıldırım



 Muslim Minor Can Wed, But Can't Sign Agreement: Gujarat High Court

 India, Pakistan Exchange Lists On Nuclear Installations

 Centre has started preparations for Haj: Naqvi

 Assam Minister Angers Muslims With Edict



 Amir Jamaat-e-Islami Suggests Formation Of ‘Muslim Bloc’

 Sunni Tehrik Files Blasphemy Application Against Shan Taseer, Son Of Slain Salman Taseer

 British survey reveals that Pakistanis in Britain are the most backward community

 CTD plans to deradicalise around 300 militants held in Sindh’s prisons

 Passport must for Pakistanis to cross over into Afghanistan now

 Gen Bajwa to focus on fight against Daesh

 Two terrorists killed, 15 held in raids: SSU



 No Country Is Safe From Terror: Turkish PM Yıldırım

 Syria at Forefront of Fight against Terrorism, Zionism: Larijani

 Turkey’s Religious Affairs Directorate condemns terror attack at Reina club

 Israel says will not release bodies of slain Hamas men

 First pictures of Saudis killed in Turkey nightclub attack

 Israel mulls bill to confiscate more Palestinian land: Minister

 Turkish police searching for Istanbul nightclub attacker

 Saudi warplanes kill 7 Yemenis in Hajjah, Ma’rib provinces


Arab World

 Frightened Civilians Flee As Iraq Forces Battle IS In Mosul

 Dozens of Daesh Terrorists Killed In Syria Operations

 Islamic State Attacks Iraqi Police near Najaf, Kills Seven

 Iraqi forces liberate three more neighborhoods in eastern Mosul

 Saudi Militias Set New Record of 78 Defeats in 1 Week

 Suicide bombers kill two police officers in Syria’s Tartous

 Bahrainis march to mark Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr’s execution

 Heavy sentences given to supporters of Egypt’s Morsi

 Syrian Army Preparing for Major Assaults on ISIL in Aleppo, Homs Provinces

 Syria: Terrorist Groups Speed up Looting Idlib's Infrastructures, Gov't Assets

 ISIL's Centers in Deir Ezzur Sustain Major Damage in Syrian Air Raids


North America

 In Year of Anti-Muslim Vitriol, Brands Promote Inclusion

 Van Jones Says Muslim Keith Ellison Is Future of the Democratic Party


South Asia

 Rohingya Refugees in Bangladesh Vow Never to Return to Myanmar

 AL leader remanded over attack on Nasirnagar Hindus

 Explosion near a mosque in Herat city leaves 6 wounded

 Terrorism equally threatening Afghanistan and Pakistan: Pak Army Chief


Southeast Asia

 ‘Muslims Must Keep Open Mind about Palestine Issue’: Raja Muda of Perlis Tuanku

 Mahathir’s 1MDB fatwa – A hate campaign to split Malaysians for votes

 Sarawak DCM to meet minister over tax on religious bodies

 Cop chides Islamic agencies for inaction against extremism

 Our work with Umno ‘depresses’ Amanah, says PAS leader



 Uganda: Police Blame Mosque Raid on Fake Intelligence, Release Suspects

 Somalia: Al Shabaab group publicly executes an official in Southern Somalia

 Nigerian official held over alleged ties to Boko Haram

 Burundi minister shot dead in latest violence

 Gambia's Jammeh accuses ECOWAS of declaring war

 Act, Nigerians are hungry, Father Mbaka advises President Buhari

 Cote d'Ivoire: 'Foreigners' in Their Own Homeland?



 English Couple Beats 50-Year-Old Muslim Man In England

 Over 1,000 refugees storm Spain's border fence with Morocco

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau




Muslim Minor Can Wed, But Can't Sign Agreement: Gujarat High Court

Saeed Khan

Jan 2, 2017

AHMEDABAD: The Gujarat high court has given legal sanction to the marriage of a minor Muslim girl who had eloped with her 21-year-old lover, citing an earlier judgment enabling a Muslim girl to marry when she reaches puberty. But the couple's union has been jeopardized by their desperate attempt to fortify their case.

Apart from solemnizing their nikah, the couple had also signed a livein relationship "contract".This bid to secure double protection has put in trouble all who helped the couple.

So while the youth got the high court's protection when the girl's father alleged abduction, the court now has directed the police to investigate charges against the youth after the girl's father moved the HC, demanding action against those involved in the preparation and notarizing of the contract. The girl's father has contended that a minor cannot legally enter into any agreement.

Jainulabedin Ganji and the girl from Jamnagar eloped on November 9. The girl's father lodged a complaint against Ganji for abducting the girl. Ganji moved the HC to have the charges quashed on the grounds that an HC order permits a Muslim girl to marry , if she so chooses, when she reaches puberty. He provided the nikahnama to substantiate his case.Justice J B Pardiwala, who had passed the judgment in question, was hearing the quashing plea. On November 22, he directed cops not to arrest the youth, but allowed the investigation to proceed.He ordered cops to file a chargesheet if an offence was made out.

To become doubly sure that the family members do not separate them, the couple had sent a copy of their live-in relationship agreement to the girl's family. This was accompanied with a notarized affidavit of the girl stating that she had willingly joined the youth. On basis of this agreement, the girl's father approached cops once again and demanded action against those who helped her prepare the documents. Cops gave him the cold shoulder.This brought him before the HC. This case too came up for hearing before Justice Pardiwala, who pulled up the police for lethargy and directed them to start an investigation against those involved in helping the minor girl prepare the affidavit and the contract.



Amir Jamaat-e-Islami Suggests Formation Of ‘Muslim Bloc’


KARACHI: The rulers of Muslim countries remained silent over important and serious issues being faced by the Muslim Ummah.

Amir Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) Pakistan, Siraj-ul-Haq said on Sunday while addressing a large gathering of Umaat-e-Rasool (SAW) march, organised by his party to express solidarity with the oppressed Muslims of Myanmar and Aleppo.

He hailed the active role of Turkey on issues of Muslims across the world. The current global scenario demands active role of Pakistan in the affairs of the region and the world, he added.

"The United Nation's Security Council can not be removed for 1.2 billion Muslims from the world, it is the time to abandon the so-called United Nations by the 'Muslims bloc' and form its own."

He also urged Muslim countries to establish a mutual world market, educational syllabus and joint force.

He accused the UN of keeping dual standards and enjoying hypocrisy. He said so-called international institutions do not act to help change the plight of innocent Muslims. They (UN) only come in action, when it serves the interests of global powers. Western world only voices its concerns and does not take any solid step to help the oppressed Muslims across the world, he added.

The condemned the plight of Muslim women and children in Aleppo, who are subjected to rape, physical and mental torture and gruesome executions. He expressed deep sorrow over the silence of Muslims leaders across the world on these serious issues. "The march is a signal of life within Muslims Ummah," he said. Further, Pakistan has to play an active role against such brutalities and the government should take steps in this regard. JI has always played an active role over the issues of Muslims across the world Siraj added and termed the march as a beacon of hope.

Talking about the situations on Eastern borders, he said blocking water flows to Pakistan would be a declaration of war against the country and affirmed that the nation is strong to fight the war. He resolved that the year 2017 would be a year of struggle for a peaceful Islamic revolution.



No country is safe from terror: Turkish PM Yıldırım

Jan 2, 2017

No country is safe from terror incidents, Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım said on Jan. 1 after the deadly terror attack on an Istanbul nightclub that killed 39 people and wounded more than 60.

“It must be known that the terror which occurred here today can occur in another country in the world tomorrow. There are no guarantees. No country is safe from these terror incidents. Nobody can say ‘terror cannot occur in our country.’ It occurred in Germany just a few days ago and in Iraq the other day. It has occurred in many countries before and it still occurs,” Yıldırım told reporters outside a hospital in Istanbul after his visit to the wounded.

“The only thing we can say is that terror has no religion. Terrorism is terrorism everywhere. Double standards in the fight against terrorism cannot help the struggle reach success, rather it creates weakness,” he added. 

Yıldırım said terrorism was “the common problem of humanity” and aimed to distort the unity and brotherhood of the nation.

“All countries can encounter such incidents. But I am saying to my nation and citizens that terrorism cannot discourage us and cannot disrupt our brotherhood and unity. Terror cannot scare us, we scare it,” he added.





India, Pakistan exchange lists on nuclear installations

January 2, 2017

INDIA AND Pakistan on Sunday exchanged for the 26th consecutive year a list of their nuclear installations under a bilateral agreement that prohibits them from attacking each other’s atomic facilities.

“India and Pakistan today exchanged, through diplomatic channels simultaneously in New Delhi and Islamabad, the list of nuclear installations and facilities covered under the Agreement on the Prohibition of Attack against Nuclear Installations between India and Pakistan,” the Ministry of External Affairs said in a statement.

The agreement, which was signed on December 31, 1988 and came into force on January 27, 1991, says the two countries inform each other of nuclear installations and facilities to be covered under the agreement on January 1 of every calendar year. This is the 26th consecutive exchange of such lists between the two countries.

The two countries also exchanged, through diplomatic channels simultaneously in New Delhi and Islamabad, lists of nationals, including civil prisoners and fishermen, of each country lodged in their respective jails as per provisions of the Agreement on Consular Access, the MEA said.



Centre has started preparations for Haj: Naqvi

January 2, 2017

Mumbai: Union Minister of State for Minority Affairs Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi today said the Centre and Haj Committee of India had started preparations to ensure a smooth and hassle-free Haj pilgrimage this year.

Inaugurating a renovated office of Maharashtra State Haj Committee here, Naqvi said it was the responsibility of the government to provide best facilities to Haj pilgrims and his ministry was working on a war footing for this.

“Every state should construct a Haj House and Minority Affairs Ministry is ready to help. We have written to the states in this regard,” he said.

“The Centre is working hard so that like last Haj, this year’s Haj is also smooth and comfortable. For the first time, Minority Affairs Ministry had sent a delegation of officials to Mecca to take stock of preparations (last year). This time also a delegation of senior officials will visit Saudi Arabia,” he added.

Arrangements for Haj pilgrims were discussed at a meeting in December with Saudi ambassador to India Dr Saud Mohammed Alsati, he said.

“During the last Haj too the Saudi Arabian authorities cooperated a lot. We have received several important suggestions on Haj pilgrimage and we are moving forward keeping in mind these suggestions,” the minister said.

Full report at:

The Sunday Times Prints Correction For ‘Enclaves Of Islam’ Story



Assam minister angers Muslims with edict

01st January 2017

GUWAHATI: Assam’s Finance, Education and Health Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma has angered Muslims by saying “madrasas will have to function on Fridays like any other institutes. If any madrasa is found violating the directive, its principal will be placed under suspension”. His directive will hit  the state’s over 1,000 madrasas.

He also said that Assam’s BJP-led coalition government is contemplating a two-child population policy. Parents of more than two children would neither get state government jobs nor qualify to contest elections to local bodies.

Full report at:





Sunni Tehrik Files Blasphemy Application Against Shan Taseer, Son Of Slain Salman Taseer

January 01, 2017

Rawalpindi - A group of Sunni Tehrik Rawalpindi leaders called on Pirwadhai SHO and tendered an application before him for registration of a blasphemy case against Shan Taseer, son of slain Punjab governor Salman Taseer, sources informed The Nation on Saturday.

The group comprised Allama Tahir Iqbal Chishti (President Pakistan Sunni Tehrik Rawalpindi), Allama Attaul Rehman Dhanyal, Sahibzada Muhammad Naqeebur Rehman Chishti and Allama Muhammad Shafique Qadri, sources said.

According to sources, the team appeared before the station house officer (SHO) Mustafa Kamal Niazi and lodged an application to register an FIR against Shan under section 295-C for committing blasphemy.

They also threatened the SHO to register a case, otherwise they would stage a protest demonstration on January 4, 2017.

Few days ago, Shan had made a video in Lahore, in which he had criticised section 295-C calling it an inhumane law.

Pirwadhai SHO took the application but no FIR had been registered so far, sources said.

Sunni Tehrik also lodged complaints against Shan at Islamabad, Attock, Jhelum and Chakwal police stations.

Niazi, when contacted, said he has brought the matter into the notice of senior police officer who would decide the matter.



British survey reveals that Pakistanis in Britain are the most backward community

Jan 2, 2017

A survey that was recently conducted by the British government speaks volumes about the condition of Pakistani expatriates in Britain. The survey concluded that the Pakistani community living in Britain was the most backward among the different immigrant communities living there.

According to media reports, the survey mainly revolved around the economic standing of the community and the ability to communicate with and adapt in a foreign environment. The survey revealed that the number of unemployed Pakistani-origin men was three times the number of unemployed men from the white community. Moreover, one in every four Pakistanis drives a taxi as their primary source of income.

The survey also unveiled that 57 percent of Pakistani-origin women were either unemployed or inactive – not part of the active workforce. This number is again higher than the number of inactive or unemployed women from other communities. For example, the number of white women who are unemployed stands at 25 percent.

Full report at:



CTD plans to deradicalise around 300 militants held in Sindh’s prisons


Jan 2, 2017

KARACHI: Sindh police’s Counter-Terrorism Department is planning to deradicalise and rehabilitate an estimated 300 militants held in different jails of the province with the help of qualified psychologists, it emerged on Sunday.

Under the proposed initiative, the CTD would conduct psychological profiling of the arrested militants to ascertain the possible factors, leading to militancy as a move to rehabilitate them.

“The CTD Sindh has taken an initiative to create psychological profiles of arrested militants in the province,” said additional inspector general of the CTD, Sindh police, Dr Sanaullah Abbasi on Sunday.

He said a unit of the CTD Sindh had been deputed to go to jails to create such profiles along the lines of a proforma created by the National Counter Terrorism Authority to better identify the factors that lead to radicalisation of young men.

The CTD chief said the unit concerned had around 15 police personnel, who would collect data about the imprisoned militants in Karachi and other parts of Sindh.

Dr Abbasi said that there were 250 to 300 militants in different prisons of the province.

The CTD police were also planning to sign a memorandum of understanding preferably with the University of Karachi or another educational institution to seek help of qualified psychiatrists who could examine and profile high-value suspects in the future.

This exercise would be aimed at identifying the issues in psychological make-up of the militants and also to use these profiles as a first step to create the basis for a rehabilitation programme in Sindh.

Subsequently, a deradicalisation or rehabilitation centre or complex would be established preferably at the Razzaqabad police training centre in Karachi, where an antiterrorism university was also being planned to be established for a similar purpose.

The held militants would be asked several questions to ascertain the possible factors which might lead to militancy such as whether they suffered physical abuse by family members or other persons, bullying, victimisation by others, personal loss, financial problems etc, according to some of the questions contained in the proforma.

Earlier in January 2016, the CTD with the help of family members and psychiatrists had helped ‘deradicalise and rehabilitate’ two Islamic State-inspired militants in Karachi.

Those two young IS-inspired militants of Karachi were caught in Iran while travelling illegally to Syria to join the militant group before being arrested and repatriated to Pakistan.

The officials claimed that the two youngsters had turned away from ‘armed struggle’ after being ‘rehabilitated’ with the support of their families and security administration.

Full report at:



Passport must for Pakistanis to cross over into Afghanistan now


Jan 2, 2017

LANDI KOTAL: Possession of Pakistani passport was made mandatory on Sunday for cross-border movement by Pakistani nationals at Torkham border after expiry of the deadline on December 31.

Authorities had made announcements through loudspeakers and displayed banners at prominent places at the border to apprise Pakistani nationals about the new restrictions prior to expiry of the deadline.

Authorities said that the new restrictions were imposed after arrest of a number of suspected Afghans with fake Pakistani Computerised National Identity Cards (CNICs).

Earlier, authorities had permitted Pakistani nationals to use their CNICs for cross-border movement but ended the relaxation after receiving information about preparation of fake CNICs in Nangarhar province of Afghanistan.

Officials told Dawn that Shinwari tribal people, living on both sides of the Durand Line, would be exempted from possessing passport as they were already issued temporary ‘Rahdari’ cards by Khyber Agency political administration after necessary verification.

New restrictions imposed after expiry of deadline on Dec 31

They said that so far 3,800 Rahdari cards were issued to Shinwari tribesmen since September 2015. These cards are renewed after every six months.

Officials said that no visa on passport was required for Pakistani nationals and the policy was implemented in a bid to discourage misuse of fake CNICs. They said that at least 200 Pakistanis without their passports were refused entry into Afghanistan while around 480 locals crossed the border and came back by using their CNICs and Rahdari cards.

Sources said that the number of Afghans having legal travel documents was increased manifold since Pakistan imposed the new policy of allowing only those Afghans, who had valid Pakistani visa stamped on their passport.

The number of Afghans coming to Pakistan through Torkham was reduced considerably from almost 20,000 per day to 1,200 after last year June 1 restrictions as the rest were refused entry for not having legal travel documents.

Officials said that with the passing of time, Afghans got accustomed to the new border management policy of Pakistan and most of them acquired passports while demand for Pakistani visa also increased.

Full report at:



Gen Bajwa to focus on fight against Daesh

January 02, 2017

ISLAMABAD - Chief of Army Staff Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa, who has been invited by the Afghan leadership after he telephoned them at the beginning of the New Year, will discuss with them a host of issues including the growing foothold of the Islamic State (Daesh) in the war-ravaged country.

Gen Bajwa has been invited by the Afghan leaders to visit Kabul to find common grounds for sustained cooperation for peace in the region.

Although there is no official comment about the army chief’s visit, analysts believe that the likely stopover would primarily focus on finding common grounds for future cooperation between the two countries.

Bilateral relations between Kabul and Islamabad have been in a downward spiral for the last more than a year after the Afghanistan government failed to fulfil its commitment to enter into an agreement with Pakistan on intelligence-sharing to tackle the menace of terrorism.

The bilateral relations further dipped owing to a lack of tangible progress to help restore peace through the agreed quadrilateral mechanism.

As a policy, Islamabad strongly believes that peace in Afghanistan was in the national interest of Pakistan and has been advocating that any initiative for peace and reconciliation has be to Afghan-led and Afghan-owned.

“I think Gen Bajwa’s visit to Kabul would largely focus on border management,” Institute of Strategic Studies Islamabad Director Research Najam Rafique told The Nation on Sunday.

Rafique was of the view that the growing presence of Daesh in Afghanistan would also figure high for the two countries to enhance cooperation about how to secure the Pak-Afghan border.

“The growing presence and activities of Daesh in Afghanistan pose a serious threat to the regional peace and stability,” he said.

At the secretary level trilateral meeting held in Moscow on December 27, Pakistan, Russia and China also expressed their concern over the growing influence of Daesh in Afghanistan.

Rafique said that the army chief may also take up the issue of the proscribed TTP leaders activities from Afghan soil to destabilise Pakistan.

Former army chief Gen Raheel Sharif had also visited Kabul shortly after his appointment in order to build sustained cooperation between the two countries.

But despite agreements on key issues to deepen bilateral cooperation with the Afghan government no progress could be achieved.

According to defence analysts, India played dirty game and spoiled the cooperative environment between Pakistan and Afghanistan.


INP adds: Although Russia, China, and Pakistan recently held a session to assess the situation in Afghanistan, but a senior Russian diplomat states that the three countries have no programme for meditation in Afghan peace negotiations.

Zamir Kabulov, the special envoy of Russia in Afghanistan has said that Moscow, Beijing and Islamabad have no plan for peace negotiations, because they have received no request in that regard.

He made clear that Moscow session has been held to widen regional cooperation regarding improvement of situation in Afghanistan.

According the Russian special envoy, the three countries that participated in Moscow session believe there is a need for a more comprehensive regional formation in Afghanistan in cooperation with the country to set up new objectives.

One of the matters agreed upon in tripartite session was carrying efforts for removal the names of Taliban’s leaders from the UN black list.

According to Afghan politicians, Moscow session is a clear message for Western countries, US, and the Gulf countries that indicates the participants of Moscow conference use Taliban against their objectives and interests in the region.

Full report at:

The Sunday Times Prints Correction For ‘Enclaves Of Islam’ Story



Two terrorists killed, 15 held in raids: SSU

January 02, 2017

KARACHI - Two suspected terrorists were killed and 15 others, including two women, arrested in eight raids by Sindh Police's Special Security Unit (SSU) in collaboration with other law enforcement agencies, said a SSU spokesman in a statement here on Sunday.

He said the accused, affiliated with a banned organisation, were involved in attacking police officials and the personnel of other law enforcement agencies (LEAs).

The spokesman said that SSU officers, including commandos, took active part in these raids. Two sub-machine guns (SMGs), two pistols, two hand grenades, explosive material/devices and several 9mm pistols were recovered from the possession of the accused, he added.

About security for anti-polio teams during the past months, he said over 5,000 SSU commandos provided effective security to health workers during 44 anti-polio campaigns in the city.

The spokesman, giving details about SSU assistance in security measures in the city in 2016, said over 123 SSU commandos provided security during the inauguration ceremony of Yadgar-e-Nishan-Pakistan.

On the occasion of Ramazan-ul-Mubarik 1,355 SSU commandos provided security to citizens at a number of shopping centres in Karachi.

On the eve of Eid-ul-Azha, 834 SSU commandos took part in patrol and performed duties at different points to ensure law and order. Besides, the commandos provided security on the occasion of collection of hides.

Full report at:

The Sunday Times Prints Correction For ‘Enclaves Of Islam’ Story





Syria at forefront of fight against terrorism, Zionism: Larijani

Jan 1, 2017

Iranian Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani has hailed the recent advances by the Syrian army and pro-government forces against foreign-backed terrorists, saying Syria is the flag-bearer of the war on terrorism and Zionism.

In a meeting with Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Muallem in Tehran on Sunday, Larijani stressed the importance of pursuing a political approach based on intra-Syrian negotiations to solve the crisis in the Arab country.

“The Islamic Republic of Iran has always stood by the Syrian nation on the resistance battleground and various political stages, and will continue its support in the future and the Syrian people will be the final victor in this arena,” the top Iranian parliamentarian added.

He said there are good grounds for the restoration of stability and security to Syria, adding that the presence of terrorist groups such as Daesh and Jabhat Fateh al-Sham, formerly known as al-Nusra Front, is at odds with peace and security in the Arab country and the entire region.

Larijani further stated that the upcoming peace talks scheduled to be held in Kazakhstan's capital, Astana, between parties to the Syria conflict would be an important step toward finding a political solution to the crisis and establishing sustainable peace in the country.

He also called for adopting measures to control and protect Syria’s borders and prevent the infiltration of terrorists into the country.

Larijani urged all Muslim and regional countries to reinforce their unity and make widespread efforts to counter terrorist groups.

Need for more Iran-Syria cooperation on terror fight

The Syrian foreign minister, for his part, commended Iran and Russia's support for his country in the fight against terrorism and called for more such cooperation and coordination.

With an international resolve to fight terrorism, the vicious phenomenon would be uprooted in less than one year, Muallem said.

During the meeting, the two senior Iranian and Syrian officials also exchanged views on the current nationwide ceasefire in Syria and a resolution adopted by the United Nations Security Council endorsing the truce agreement.

On Saturday, the Security Council approved the resolution, which also aims to pave the way for new talks in the Kazakh capital city of Astana next month, ahead of the resumption of UN-brokered peace talks in the Swiss city of Geneva in February.

The text of the resolution "welcomes and supports the efforts by Russia and Turkey to end violence in Syria and jump-start a political process."

The nationwide ceasefire in Syria, which came into effect on Thursday midnight, has been largely holding, with most of the country witnessing a relative calm.

There were, however, sporadic clashes between Syrian government forces and their allies on one side and Takfiri militants on the other in the mountainous Wadi Barada region near the capital, Damascus, as well as the southern city of Dara’a.

The so-called Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, based in Britain, also said on Saturday that most of Syria remained calm, despite limited clashes.

Jabhat Fateh al-Sham, formerly known as the al-Nusra Front, and Daesh terrorist groups are excluded from the ongoing truce, mediated by Russia and Turkey, in the country.

The Syrian foreign minister arrived in Tehran on Saturday at the head of a high-ranking delegation. He held talks with senior Iranian officials, including President Hassan Rouhani, Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and Secretary of the Supreme National Security Council Ali Shamkhani on Saturday. Muallem also met with Ali Akbar Velayati, a top adviser to Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei, on Sunday.

The Sunday Times Prints Correction For ‘Enclaves Of Islam’ Story



Turkey’s Religious Affairs Directorate condemns terror attack at Reina club

Jan 2, 2017

Directorate of Religious Affairs Head Mehmet Görmez released a statement on Jan. 1 condemning the deadly attack at a nightclub in central Istanbul, which claimed 39 lives, describing the act as “savage and horrific.”

“The people of Turkey are deeply hurt and saddened by the brutal armed attack committed against vulnerable individuals during the first hours of the new year. The action is savage and horrific. It is a murder and a massacre,” Görmez said.

“There is no difference whether this barbarous act is committed in a bazaar, a place of worship, or in an entertainment place. The targets of terrorists are not places but the people, the country, the nation and humanity. Terrorism can never be accepted, no matter who it is committed by or against whom it is committed,” he added.

“The only thing that differentiates the terrorist action committed tonight from others is that it aims to divide the nation and incite people from different lifestyles,” Görmez said.

Full report at:



Israel says will not release bodies of slain Hamas men

Jan 2, 2017

JERUSALEM: Israel on Sunday ruled that it would not release to their families the bodies of Hamas militants killed during attacks on Israelis but would instead bury them, the government said.

The decision by the security cabinet followed the release on Saturday by the Palestinian group of video footage showing a mock birthday party for Israeli soldier Oron Shaul, believed by the army to have been killed in the 2014 Gaza war.

"The political-security cabinet discussed standing policy on treatment of the bodies of Hamas terrorists killed during terror attacks and decided that they will not be returned but will be buried," a statement posted on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's official Twitter account said.

It did not elaborate on the burial plan, but said that the same meeting discussed ways of getting back the remains of soldiers killed in the 2014 Gaza war and obtaining the release of two Israeli civilians missing in Gaza and believed to be held by Hamas. The statement said ministers adopted a "plan of action", but gave no details.

In the past, Israel has buried the bodies of slain militants at secret locations in remote parts of the country.

Full report at:



First pictures of Saudis killed in Turkey nightclub attack

 2 January 2017

The terrorist attack on an Istanbul nightclub on Sunday left seven Saudis dead and injured around 10 others.

Social media users circulated photos of their friends who fell victim to the attack and posted snapshots of the last messages they had sent them.

Saudi Twitter user Louay al-Sharif wrote: "A dear sister and a loyal friend was killed in the Istanbul terror attack. May God have mercy on your soul Lobna Ghaznawi and may you be in paradise. May God compensate your youth by (rewarding you) paradise."

Louay also posted a picture of Lobna, who works at a major firm in Jeddah, which she had taken a few days before she traveled to Turkey.

Lobna Ghaznawi. (Twitter)

The Saudi embassy in Turkey has said it was following up on the situation of those injured and who were transferred to three hospitals in Istanbul.

The Saudi consul in Istanbul, Abdullah al-Rashidan, said the consulate is working around the clock to help its citizens, and called on any citizen who has been harmed to contact the consulate immediately either through the phone or through the consulate's website or Twitter account.

Several Arabs were among those killed in the attack. They include 3 Lebanese, 2 Jordanians, 2 Tunisians, 2 Moroccans, a Kuwaiti and a Libyan.

A gunman stormed the Reina club, one of Istanbul's most exclusive nightspots, and went on a shooting rampage inside, according to Turkish officials who said the 39 dead included at least 15 foreigners.

The Sunday Times Prints Correction For ‘Enclaves Of Islam’ Story



Israel mulls bill to confiscate more Palestinian land: Minister

Jan 2, 2017

The Tel Aviv regime plans to put forward a bill by the end of this month to annex more Palestinian land in the West Bank despite a recent UN resolution against illegal settlement activities in the occupied territories.

“Before the end of January, we, together with all the coalition parties, will propose a bill for the imposition of Israeli law on Ma’ale Adumim,” right-wing Education Minister Naftali Bennett, who also heads the so-called Jewish Home party, said on Sunday, Haaretz reported.

Ma’ale Adumim, which is considered by many Israelis as a suburban city, is the third most populous Israeli settlement located seven kilometers from Jerusalem al-Quds, encompassing a large swath of land in the occupied West Bank.

Bennett further expressed hope that the proposed bill would be supported by all regime officials.

The Knesset (Israeli parliament) law committee is expected to discuss the Ma’ale Adumim annexation in a special session on Monday despite divisions among politicians over the controversial topic.

Israeli forces block Palestinian youths who want to play football in the Ma’ale Adumim settlement (background) in the occupied West Bank on October 11, 2016. (Photo by AFP)

Bennett, who is known for his routine expressions of extremist viewpoints, said last October that Israelis must “give their lives” to ensure the annexation of the West Bank.

After the 45th US presidential election in November, the hard-line Israeli politician also said that the idea of a sovereign Palestinian state was over following Donald Trump’s win.

A month later, however, the United Nations Security Council adopted Resolution 2334 that denounced Israeli settlements as a “flagrant violation of international law.”

Full report at:



Turkish police searching for Istanbul nightclub attacker

Jan 2, 2017

Turkish police continue the manhunt for an unidentified attacker who went on a deadly shooting rampage at a nightclub in Istanbul just over an hour into the New Year.

Fresh details have emerged on the terror attack, with Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu saying police and intelligence officials are now piecing together the clues they have found so far.

In a statement on Monday, the Takfiri Daesh terror group claimed responsibility for the Sunday attack, in which the assailant shot dead 39 people, mostly foreigners, and injured 69 others inside the club at the popular Besiktas area, where people were celebrating the New Year.

According to local media, between 120 and 180 rounds were fired by the armed man during the seven-minute attack. Many of those at the club chose to throw themselves into the freezing waters of Bosphorus to save their lives.

According to Soylu, the gunman managed to flee unnoticed after the shooting spree and still remains at large.

The assailant “left the gun and went away from the scene of the incident,” the minister told reporters, denying earlier reports that a Santa Claus costume had been used as a disguise.

Soylu cited security forces’ accounts as saying that the gunman had acted alone in staging the attack.

“There weren’t multiple gunmen. He was wearing a coat and trousers. He went inside as he opened fire all around. And we were informed that he was wearing different clothes inside and he tried to get out. Our police forces are continuing to assess this information,” he noted.

Turkish police also said they have gotten hold of the taxi that the lone masked attacker took to the scene, and that they were dusting the vehicle for potential fingerprints left by the suspect.

Justice Ministry sources also said 38 of the victims had been identified -- 27 foreigners and 11 Turks, the Anadolu news agency reported.

Among the dead were an Israeli woman, three Indians, three Lebanese, a woman with dual French-Tunisian citizenship and her Tunisian husband, two Jordanians, a Belgian national, a Kuwaiti citizen and a Canadian.

The US State Department confirmed that a Delaware businessman, originally from Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania, was also among the wounded.

CCTV footage captured snippets of the attack at the Reina club when the assailant is seen shooting a customer and then disappearing from the frame.

Horror-stricken witnesses later spoke of the panic and bloodshed at the nightclub.

“We came here to have a good time today but everything was suddenly transformed into chaos and a night of horror,” Italian tourist Maximilien said.

Professional footballer Sefa Boydas also told AFP, “Just as we were settling down, by the door there was a lot of dust and smoke. Gunshots rang out.”

“People were walking on top of people,” he added.

Another survivor, Francois al-Asmar, from Lebanon, also recounted how he escaped death.

“I was saved by my passport which I was carrying right near my heart,” he told Lebanese television.

Full report at:



Saudi warplanes kill 7 Yemenis in Hajjah, Ma’rib provinces

Jan 1, 2017

At least seven Yemeni civilians have been killed and nearly a dozen more sustained injuries after Saudi Arabia’s warplanes carried out aerial aggression on Yemen’s two provinces of Hajjah, to the northwest, and Ma’rib, to the center.

Saudi fighter jets carried out two airstrikes on a residential building in the Wadi Hobab area in the Sirwah district of Ma’rib on Sunday, killing at least five civilians and wounding several others, including women and children, Yemen's al-Masirah news website reported.

Elsewhere, in Hajjah's Hiran district, Saudi warplanes also bombarded two tanker trucks, killing at least two people and injuring seven others.

Separately, the Saudi regime also conducted a number of other airstrikes on Kataf district in the northern province of Sa'ada, and on the Manakhah and Sa'fan districts in the western province of Sana’a, but there was no immediate word on possible casualties or damage.

Other reports say that at least two Yemeni civilians sustained injuries after Saudi border guards opened fire on a valley in the Shida district in Sa'ada.

Meanwhile, Yemeni forces managed to kill at least ten Saudi soldiers by launching a rocket attack against Saudi Arabia's Sadis military base in the southern province of Najran. At least a military vehicle and a bulldozer were destroyed in the attack

Late on Saturday, Saudi warplanes also killed at least one man and wounded three more people after they bombarded residential buildings in Hawzan area, where dozens of displaced families live, in Dhubab district in the western province of Ta’izz.

Full report at:



Arab World


Frightened civilians flee as Iraq forces battle IS in Mosul

Jan 2, 2017

MOSUL: Frightened Iraqi civilians hurry down a muddy street in Mosul as gunshots echo through the neighbourhood and a helicopter wheels overhead, firing a barrage of bullets towards jihadists below.

Others choose to stay, hanging white flags from their homes and periodically peering out as Iraqi forces battle the Islamic State group for control of the country's second city.

Children, some of them carrying plastic bags of belongings slung over their shoulders, are among those fleeing, as is a woman who weeps as she walks along the street.

Dozens more people move along the road leading away from the southeastern edge of the city, heading to a place where they pile into buses painted in police camouflage to be driven to safety.

"There was more movement of families (Friday)," says Lieutenant Colonel Hisham Abdulkadhim of Iraq's elite Rapid Response Division, a special forces unit that directed civilians to shelter as it advanced.

While the worst-case scenario of a million-plus people fleeing their homes during the battle to retake Mosul has yet to materialise, more than 120,000 people have been displaced since the operation was launched on October 17.

Mosul crackles with gunfire and explosions as the Rapid Response forces fight their way north alongside contingents from other units.

The advance is quick but careful, with an Iraqi army Humvee mounted with an anti-tank missile launcher on hand to target car bombs and a bulldozer that erects dirt barricades to block their approach.

Humvees provide cover for those on foot, who move alongside, weapons at the ready.

Helicopters prowl over the city firing bursts of gunfire and rockets, while the jihadists take aim at their aerial tormentors with small arms.

Some civilians open their doors to see what is happening, but the warning from Iraqi forces is always the same: go inside, close the door.

There are myriad dangers: a running infantry battle, jihadists with no qualms about endangering civilians, and air strikes, artillery fire and large, unguided rockets targeting IS.

Some of those who stayed in their homes in Mosul assist the advancing Iraqi forces.

- From fear to relief -

"A car bomb is behind the mosque," a federal policeman says, attributing the information to residents.

A mosque is visible over the rooftops less than 200 metres (yards) away.

A soldier looks for the car bomb through the sight of the Humvee-mounted missile launcher, but it does not appear, and a bulldozer builds a dirt berm across the street.

More civilians pour out of a nearby area, most on foot, though an old woman and several young children ride on a cart.

IS "forced us out," says Karama Attiyah, a distraught, black-robed woman carrying a blanket.

"They are hiding in front of us in our houses," she says.

Members of the Rapid Response forces direct the civilians into a building that has a white flag hanging from a wooden pole over its entrance.

After the quick advance and near-constant gunfire, the end seems to come suddenly as Iraqi forces reach their objective at the northern edge of the neighbourhood.

For civilians, hours if not days of fear turn to relief, and they begin to emerge from their homes without being told to remain inside.

Some boys jump up and down while flashing the victory sign, possibly imitating nearby security forces.

Full report at:



Dozens of Daesh terrorists killed in Syria operations

Jan 1, 2017

Syrian government forces have killed dozens of Daesh terrorists during operations carried out in Syria’s Homs and Dayr al-Zawr provinces.

According to military sources on Sunday, a large number of terrorists were killed as army units targeted Daesh positions and supply routes throughout the western province of Homs.

The sources noted that a number of armored troop carriers and armed cars plus a bulldozer used by the terrorists were destroyed during the raids.

Several Daeshis were also killed during operations against terrorist-held locations in the eastern province of Dayr al-Zawr.

Russia: Militants violating ceasefire

A nationwide ceasefire deal between militants and the Syrian government, backed by Russia and Turkey, came into force on Friday. Daesh and the Jabhat Fateh al-Sham are not part of the truce.

Russia says anti-government militants have violated the ceasefire numerous times since it came into effect.

The Russian Center for Reconciliation in Syria recorded 21 instances of militant mortar attacks against government positions.

A militant rests with his weapons in Syria’s Aleppo province on December 30, 2016.

Meanwhile, government forces are pushing forward with their operations to reach the main water source of the capital Damascus which was taken by the terrorists.

On Thursday, the United Nations warned that four million people in the Syrian capital city had been deprived of safe drinking water supplies for over a week after springs outside the city were deliberately contaminated by militants.

Water supplies from the Wadi Barada and Ain al-Fija springs to the northwest of Damascus, which served 70 percent of the population in the city, were cut after water facilities were deliberately targeted and damaged, the UN announced in a statement.

Militants clean a weapon in al-Rai town, northern Aleppo countryside, Syria December 25, 2016.

Full report at:



Islamic State attacks Iraqi police near Najaf, kills seven

Jan 2, 2017

MOSUL/HILLA - Islamic State attacked an Iraqi police checkpoint near the southern city of Najaf on Sunday, killing seven policemen as government forces in the north made more gains against the militants in Mosul, their last major stronghold in the country.

The Najaf attack, which involved gunmen and a suicide car bomb, followed blasts a day earlier in Baghdad that left 29 people dead, a reminder of Islamic State's continued ability to operate away from territory under its control.

The recapture of Mosul would probably spell the end for the group's self-styled caliphate in the areas it seized in 2014, but the militants would still be capable of fighting a guerrilla-style insurgency in Iraq, and plotting or inspiring attacks on the West.

Since the U.S.-backed offensive began on Oct. 17, elite forces have retaken a quarter of Mosul in the biggest ground operation in Iraq since the 2003 U.S.-led invasion that toppled Saddam Hussein. Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi has said the group would be driven out of the country by April.

The second phase of the campaign launched on Thursday following weeks of deadlock has pushed Islamic State out of several more areas despite fierce resistance. The fourth day of the renewed push saw incremental advances on the eastern and southeastern fronts.

A military statement said the counter-terrorism forces had retaken part of Karama district. A federal police officer said Iraqi forces had taken near total control of Intisar and Siha neighbourhoods, and were clearing Salam.

"For the fourth day in a row, federal police units supported by the army are on the offensive," he told Reuters at a forward base in Intisar.

An artillery strike on Sunday by the U.S.-led coalition supporting the Iraqi forces struck a mortar position next to two empty school buildings in eastern Mosul. A U.S. military statement said no civilians were in the area and minimal damage was reported to the buildings, which like hospitals and mosques, are protected under international law.

"While the Coalition takes extraordinary effort to protect civilians and strike appropriate military targets, we will continue to strike ISIL wherever and whenever our partner's lives are in danger in accordance with the Law of Armed Conflict," it said, using an acronym for Islamic State.


The attack near Najaf, 500 km (310 mile) south of Mosul, happened when two vehicles travelling through the desert were stopped at a police checkpoint around al-Qadisiya town, local police sources said.

The driver detonated an explosive load and the second vehicle fled. Police pursued it and killed the two militants inside. In a statement distributed online by supporters, Islamic State claimed responsibility for the attack, which also wounded 17 people including civilians. It said four gunmen had opened fire before detonating explosive vests and then a fifth assailant launched a suicide car bomb. It was not immediately possible to reconcile those accounts. Although the militants are vastly outnumbered in Mosul, they have embedded themselves among residents, hindering Iraqi forces who are trying to avoid civilian casualties. Despite food and water shortages, most civilians have stayed in their homes rather than fleeing as had been expected.

Full report at:



Iraqi forces liberate three more neighborhoods in eastern Mosul

Jan 1, 2017

Iraqi Special Operations Forces have regained full control of three more neighborhoods in Mosul as they are trying to flush Takfiri Daesh militants out of their last urban stronghold in the country in joint operations with pro-government fighters.

The commander of Nineveh Liberation Operation, General Abdul Amir Rashid Yarallah, said special forces recaptured the Southern al-Karama neighborhood on Sunday following fierce skirmishes with Daesh terrorists, Arabic-language al-Sumaria television network reported.

He added that scores of the extremists were killed, and a number of their military equipment destroyed during the heavy fighting. Iraqi government forces then hoisted the national flag over several buildings in the area.

Iraqi Special Operations Forces had earlier wrested complete control of Younes al-Sabawi and Yafa neighborhoods in the eastern flank of Mosul, located some 400 kilometers north of the capital Baghdad.

Separately, Federal Police forces retook control of the strategic No. 60 Street southeast of Mosul, which connects Younes al-Sabawi neighborhood to Intisar district.

Iraq drone strike kills 20 Daesh terrorists in eastern Mosul

Meanwhile, a Nineveh provincial security official says nearly two dozen Daesh terrorists were killed when Iraqi Air Forces carried out a drone strike against a militant position in eastern Mosul.

This file photo shows an unmanned aerial vehicle operated by the Iraqi Air Force.

The official, requesting not to be named, said an armed CASC Rainbow drone of the Iraqi army struck the site in Corniche neighborhood of Mosul, killing 20 Daesh militants in the attack.

He added that this is the first time that the Iraqi army is using an unmanned aerial vehicle to target Daesh gatherings in the eastern side of Mosul, noting that the precision strike was carried out in coordination with intelligence units on the ground.

On Saturday, Iraqi security personnel freed several civilians whom Daesh Takfiris had abducted in Intisar, Salam and Sumer districts of Mosul.

Iraqi military aircraft also conducted a series of airstrikes against Daesh positions in southern Mosul, killing 23 terrorists and destroying 10 vehicles rigged with explosives.

Members of the Iraqi forces take position as they advance in Mosul's eastern al-Intisar neighborhood on December 31, 2016, during an ongoing military operation against Takfiri Daesh terrorists. (Photo by AFP)

Another four Daesh terrorists were slain when Iraqi warplanes bombarded designated targets Full report at:



Saudi Militias Set New Record of 78 Defeats in 1 Week

Jan 01, 2017

The Saudi mercenaries were defeated at least 78 times by the Yemeni forces across Yemen and also in Southern Saudi Arabia.

The Yemeni army and popular forces also struck a heavy blow at the Saudi militias in Sana'a's Ninth District, Sirwah, al-Jawf and Najran regions.

Meantime, the Yemeni forces managed to take full control of the terrorists' centers in Hayd al-Zahab region.

In a relevant development on Sunday, the Yemeni army and popular forces took control of three more military bases of the Saudi army in al-Jawf province in the Northeastern part of Yemen while their comrades blocked the advances of the kingdom's mercenaries in Shabwah province.

The Yemeni forces captured three Saudi bases in the towns of Khob and al-Sha'af in al-Jawf province, killing 30 military men.

Meantime, the Yemeni forces prevented pro-Saudi mercenaries from making advances in al-Hajr district in the town of Asilan in Shabwah province.

At least 30 pro-Saudi militias were killed and wounded in Shabwah province and sustained heavy losses in the Yemeni attacks.

Also on Saturday, informed battlefield sources disclosed that the Yemeni army and popular forces continued their advances in Ta'iz province, and killed several more pro-Saudi mercenaries in fierce clashes.

"At least 11 pro-Saudi militias were killed and several more were wounded in tough battle in Ta'iz province," the Arabic-language al-Massirah news website quoted informed Yemeni military sources as saying on Saturday.

Meantime, another Yemeni battlefield source said that six Saudi mercenaries were killed in the Eastern part of Gabal al-Han in al-Zobab region of Ta'iz province.

"Another four pro-Saudi mercenaries were also killed in al-Salou region in Ta'iz province," the source added.



Suicide bombers kill two police officers in Syria’s Tartous

1 January 2017

Syria's state news agency SANA confirmed on Sunday, that two security officers were killed during a double suicide bombing attack that struck the city of Tartus, located in the Syrian coast.

SANA reported that the two officers on patrol determined that two men walking on the city's corniche looked suspicious and approached them after midnight as residents were celebrating New Year's. The men then detonated explosive belts they were wearing, killing themselves and the two security men.

Full report at:



Bahrainis march to mark Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr’s execution

Jan 2, 2017

People of Bahrain have held a rally to mark the first anniversary of the execution of prominent Saudi Shia cleric Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr by the Riyadh regime.

Bahrainis took to the streets of the village of Diraz on Sunday also to show solidarity with Bahraini Shia cleric Sheikh Isa Qassim, whom Manama stripped of citizenship in June.

The Saudis executed Sheikh Nimr on January 2, defying international calls to release him. The execution sparked international condemnations and angry protests in many countries.

Protests have been held on a regular basis outside Sheikh Isa Qassim's home, since June 20, when Bahraini authorities stripped the 79-year-old cleric of his citizenship over accusations that he used his position to serve foreign interests and promote sectarianism and violence. Sheikh Qassim has denied the allegations.

Meanwhile, clashes broke out between police and anti-Manama regime protesters on Sitra Island. According to reports, several people were arrested during the protest.

Thousands of anti-regime demonstrations have been held in Bahrain on an almost daily basis ever since a popular uprising began in the kingdom on February 14, 2011.

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

Full report at:



Heavy sentences given to supporters of Egypt’s Morsi

Jan 2, 2017

Two courts in Egypt have handed down heavy sentences to scores of people as part of the ruling junta’s continued crackdown on supporters of former president Mohamed Morsi.

A military court in the city of Minya gave life sentences to 148 defendants, Kuwait News Agency (KUNA) reported on Sunday, citing Egyptian media.

Another court in neighboring Asyut issued 10-year prison sentences for 42 defendants and 5-year sentences for two others, according to the report.

The charges included affiliation to the banned Brotherhood organization, involvement in storming government buildings, and taking part in protests against police forces and the army.

The junta’s crackdown on the opposition began after Morsi was removed from power in 2013 in a coup led by the then-army chief and now-President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi. Since then, Egyptian courts have held mass trials for thousands of Morsi supporters and members of the Brotherhood organization, which backed Morsi.

Rights groups in Egypt and across the world have recorded cases of irregularities in the trials of political prisoners in the country.

Full report at:



Syrian Army Preparing for Major Assaults on ISIL in Aleppo, Homs Provinces

Jan 01, 2017

The source said that liberation of Eastern Homs from areas near the T4 airbase to the gas and oil fields and the city of Palmyra (Tadmur) is important for the army. Then the regions East of Aleppo province stretched from the town of Deir Hafer to the city of Raqqa will come under focus.

The source further added that North of Kuweires airbase in Eastern Aleppo towards the towns of Tadif, al-Bab and then the Eastern territories of Hama province can be the next targets of the army soldiers in their anti-ISIL operation.

"More likely, the next operation of the army will be East Aleppo province," the source said, adding, "A large number of fresh fighters of the government forces and a large volume of equipment have arrived in this region."

"In the meantime, a large number of army's fresh soldiers and more equipment have also been sent to Eastern Homs," the source went on to say.

"The next battles of the army against ISIL will be conducted with the back up of the Russian fighter jets and the Syrian army's Special Forces," the source pointed out.

Syrian President Bashar Assad said on Friday that the liberation of Aleppo was "a key part of the whole anti-terrorist operation in Syria.

During the week, Assad met with members of Russia's Federation Council and members of the European Parliament (MEPs), Tass reported.

Konstantin Kosachev, head of the Federation Council's International Affairs Committee, told Russian journalists on Friday about the results of the visit to Damascus.

The lawmaker told TASS that the Syrian leadership thought that the success in Aleppo "has become a turning point which would allow dramatically changing the situation in the country and firmly moving toward achieving complete victory over terrorism and launching a political process."

Full report at:



Syria: Terrorist Groups Speed up Looting Idlib's Infrastructures, Gov't Assets

Jan 01, 2017

The websites reported that militants have disassembled the railway between the stations of Mahambel and Bashmaroun by bulldozers and have transferred them to Turkey on heavy trucks to sell them in the Turkish market at very low prices.

Another militant-affiliated website disclosed that unknown people have been stealing the vehicles of the Red Crescent in Idlib in recent days.

The website added that at least eight vehicles have been stolen and two warehouses of the country's Red Crescent have been ransacked by unknown individuals.

On Friday, terrorists of Ahrar al-Sham and Jund al-Aqsa engaged in serious clashes West of the town of Kahn Seikhoun in Southern Idlib, killing or wounding several fighters.

Ahrar al-Sham and Jund al-Aqsa suffered major losses after they clashed with each other fiercely in Kafr Ein intersection near Khan Sheikhoun.

Full report at:



ISIL's Centers in Deir Ezzur Sustain Major Damage in Syrian Air Raids

Jan 01, 2017

The warplanes targeted the movements and centers of ISIL in Panorama region in the Southern part of Deir Ezzur city in continued air raids, inflicting major losses on the terrorists.

Also, the army aircraft pounded ISIL's defense lines in al-Thardah mountain Southeast of Deir Ezzur and in areas near Deir Ezzur's airbase, inflicting heavy casualties on the militants.

The army soldiers that had repelled several attacks of ISIL on their positions in recent days, and stormed the militants' gatherings and movements in different parts of the province.

Also, Syrian Army troops warded off a second large-scale attack of ISIL on their defense lines in Deir Ezzur's neighborhoods on Saturday.

Full report at:



North America


In Year of Anti-Muslim Vitriol, Brands Promote Inclusion

JAN. 1, 2017

The gentle piano music starts as the doorbell chimes. A white-haired Christian pastor greets his friend, a Muslim imam, and the two converse and laugh over a cup of tea, wincing about their creaky knees as they prepare to part ways. Later, it spurs the same idea in each for a gift: kneepads sent via Amazon Prime. (It is a commercial, after all.)

The piano notes accelerate as the men open their deliveries with smiles, and then each uses the item to kneel in prayer: one at a church, the other at a mosque. The final chords fade.

The ad from Amazon and its message of interfaith harmony became a viral sensation this holiday season, at the end of a year in which talk involving Muslims became particularly ominous. Amazon — which aired the commercial in England, Germany and the United States — cast a practicing vicar and Muslim community leader in the lead roles and consulted with several religious organizations to ensure the ad was accurate and respectful.

“This type of a project is definitely a first for us,” said Rameez Abid, communications director for the social justice branch of the Islamic Circle of North America, one group Amazon worked with. “They were very aware that this was going to cause controversy and might get hate mail and things like that, but they said it’s something that they wanted to do because the message is important.”

New Amazon Prime Commercial 2016 – A Priest and Imam meet for a cup of tea. Video by amazon

A slew of major American brands — including Honey Maid, Microsoft, Chevrolet, YouTube and CoverGirl — prominently featured everyday Muslim men, women and children in their marketing last year. While such ads were apolitical in nature, focused on themes of community and acceptance, they were viewed as bold, even risky, in a year when there were campaign statements by Donald J. Trump about a Muslim registry and a ban on Muslim immigrants.

It was “a glimmer of hope in the midst of a greatly traumatic year for Muslims,” said Mona Haydar, an American poet and activist who appeared in a recent Microsoft commercial with a variety of community leaders, including a transgender teenager and a white policeman.

“For me as a Muslim woman, I represent something right now in the country that for some people incites fear,” said Ms. Haydar, 28, who wears a hijab and hails from Flint, Mich. “This normalizes the narrative that we are just human beings.”

Several advertising executives likened the movement to the decision by mass marketers to cast same-sex couples and their children in ads for the first time in 2013 and 2014, making inclusion and acceptance a priority over potential criticism from some customers.

“With the kind of gay parent issue, we’ve gotten a little closer to acceptance, but the Muslim issue in America is still pretty raw for a lot of people,” said Kevin Brady, an executive creative director at the ad agency Droga5, which worked last year with Honey Maid on a commercial about white and Muslim-American neighbors. “I don’t think it should be, but it’s one that I think brands took an extra step of courage to really go out there with in 2016.”

A campaign for YouTube Music in the middle of last year highlighted five individuals, including a young woman in a hijab, rapping to a song by Blackalicious while walking through a school corridor. The inclusion of the ad, “Afsa’s Theme,” was purposeful, said Danielle Tiedt, the chief marketing officer at YouTube, adding that highlighting diversity is “more important than ever.”

“I don’t think diversity is a political statement,” she said. “This is an issue of universal humanity.”

For its ad, Amazon was painstaking in its attention to detail, checking with religious groups about costuming and background imagery, and sending over final proofs of the ad for review, said Mr. Abid and Antonios Kireopoulos, an associate general secretary of the National Council of Churches, another group Amazon consulted.

Ads showing any kind of racial diversity can now attract heaping amounts of vitriol online — most of it delivered anonymously — as State Farm discovered last month when it posted an ad of a black man proposing to a white woman on Twitter. Anti-Muslim remarks, like “they don’t belong here,” peppered the comments under Chevrolet’s video in June of two twins from Los Angeles, named Ruqaya and Qassim, who were accepted into a soccer program the company sponsors. They were 8 years old when the video, which did not mention religion, was made.

Mr. Brady said the agency had prepared Honey Maid for potentially hateful responses to its ad, though it fielded fewer than he feared. (On Facebook, the top comments are appreciative and heartfelt.) Nida’a Moghrabi, a cheesecake seller and mother of three daughters who starred in the commercial with a neighbor she befriended a few years ago, said she had initially been irritated by some rude comments on Facebook and YouTube until she realized how ubiquitous such remarks were.

“If you go to the adoption commercial from Honey Maid, you still see nasty comments,” Ms. Moghrabi said, referring to an ad of a child talking about his new brother. “So I was like, if they’re complaining about adopted kids, of course I’m not going to worry about their comments about me.”

The response from her community was positive, she said. Such ads are “encouraging for the younger generations, like those who are afraid to mention that they’re Muslims,” she added. “My daughters are more confident now, and I believe their friends who are Muslims, they know that we’re accepted and we’re loved.”

With more Americans dwelling in siloed information bubbles, commercials have the potential to reach audiences with diverse viewpoints. Amazon said its ad had aired during programs including the “Today” show, “Empire” and “Blue Bloods,” while Microsoft said its placements had included “The Voice,” “Pitch” and “This Is Us.”

Dr. Kireopoulos said he had first seen the commercial outside work while watching a National Football League game on television, giving him hope that many different audiences will see it and consider the message, particularly as reports of hate crimes against American Muslims rise.

“I imagine the violence will unfortunately continue, so it will take more vigilance on the part of community leaders and everyday believers to work together,” he said.

Ms. Haydar is hopeful about the potential.

“In 10 years, this commercial might have lived on in the heart of some young kid who saw a Muslim woman in a commercial and didn’t see the boogeyman in my face, and instead saw a normal human being,” she said. “Then if somebody says something about Muslims that’s kind of crazy, maybe that kid can say, ‘I saw this commercial, and she actually just seemed kind of normal.’ You don’t know what the reverberations look like.”

The Sunday Times Prints Correction For ‘Enclaves Of Islam’ Story



Van Jones Says Muslim Keith Ellison Is Future of the Democratic Party

JANUARY 1, 2017

On CNN, liberal activist Anthony Kapel "Van" Jones said that "the Clinton days are over" in the Democratic Party, and pointed to two emerging leaders as the future of a more progressive political party focused on identity politics. Naturally, he chose two racial minority members of Congress — and the extremely controversial first Muslim congressman.

"You have to understand, I think that the Clinton days are over," Jones told CNN's Jake Tapper on CNN's "State of the Union" on Sunday. "This idea that we're going to be this moderate party ... those days are over." Jones called for a new generation of Democrat leadership, touting California Attorney General Kamala Harris (an anti-free speech activist) and Representative Keith Ellison, the first Muslim member of Congress and a candidate for the Democratic National Committee chairmanship.

"I think that Keith Ellison is very important because he is somebody who represents the progressive wing of the party," Jones declared. "On thing that happened, when Hillary Clinton had a chance to make a VP pick, she didn't pick someone from the progressive wing, which made it much harder to heal the wounds with the [Bernie] Sanders and Elizabeth Warren wing. Keith Ellison represents that wing very, very well."

Keith Ellison also represents a long-term threat to the Democratic Party's success as well. Ellison has ties to the Nation of Islam (which he later denounced), has received contributions from members of the radical front group the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), attacked Vice President Dick Cheney's actions as "the very definition of totalitarianism, authoritarianism and dictatorship," and compared the Bush administration's reaction to the September 11 attacks to Hitler's use of the Reichstag fire.

In 2009, Ellison met with Mohammed al-Hanooti, whom FBI documents identify as a top U.S. fundraiser for the terror organization Hamas. They met at a campaign event for Virginia House of Delegates candidate Esam Omeish, who had previously called for Palestinians to follow "the jihad way" against Israel.

Last month, the Anti-Defamation League — no conservative organization — declared Ellison "disqualified" from becoming DNC chairman based on remarks the congressman made about Israel in a 2010 speech. The group argued that Ellison's remarks about Israel suggested anti-Semitism, an unfortunate trend among Muslims worldwide, and one in keeping with Ellison's old praise for Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan, whom the congressman himself later denounced as anti-Semitic.

Indeed, Democrat lawyer Alan Dershowitz has threatened to leave the Democratic Party should the DNC elect Ellison as its chairman. "If they appoint Keith Ellison to be chairman of the Democratic Party, I will resign my membership to the Democratic Party after 50 years of being a loyal Democrat," Dershowitz declared on Fox Business last Friday.

But beyond Ellison's particular issues, his candidacy also represents a doubling down on Democrats' losing strategy in 2016. According to an election post-mortem study by Barna Group, President-elect Donald Trump won every single Christian demographic, while Democrat Hillary Clinton won every non-Christian demographic, including voters with a non-Christian faith, 71 percent of whom backed Clinton.

Full report at:



South Asia


Rohingya Refugees in Bangladesh Vow Never to Return to Myanmar

Maaz Hussain

Jan 2, 2017

Authorities in Dhaka have demanded that Myanmar repatriate tens of thousands of Rohingya Muslims who crossed the border to escape what they say is persecution, and are now living illegally in Bangladesh.

Myanmar says it will accept a small fraction of the refugee population now in Bangladesh, but the Rohingya themselves say they are unwilling to go back to Myanmar's Rakhine state. Refugee community leaders are appealing to "Rohingya-friendly" countries to take them in.

Ko Ko Linn, a Rohingya community leader in Bangladesh, told VOA that conditions in Myanmar had become unlivable, particularly in recent weeks, and "they do not want to return to this anti-Rohingya Myanmar."

'Unlivable' situation

Linn, an executive member of the Arakan Rohingya National Organization, said, "The Myanmar government and the country's Buddhist-majority society have turned extremely hostile against the Rohingya Muslims, turning the country into a hell for them."

An Amnesty International report last month accused Myanmar security forces of being responsible for unlawful killings, multiple rapes and the burning down of houses and entire villages in a "campaign of violence against Rohingya people that may amount to crimes against humanity."

The Foreign Ministry of Bangladesh called in Myanmar's ambassador Thursday to complain about the refugees and to demand an early return of all Rohingya migrants to Myanmar.

Kamrul Ahsan, Bangladesh's Bilateral and Consular Secretary, told Ambassador Myo Myint Than there is "deep concern at the continued influx of Muslims" from Myanmar.

A Foreign Ministry statement in Dhaka said Ahsan asked "the Myanmar government to urgently address the root cause of the problem," so that the Rakhine Muslims are not forced to flee Myanmar and seek shelter in Bangladesh.

Less than 1 percent can return

One day after that tense meeting in Dhaka, Myanmar said it would agree to accept the return of fewer than 2,500 Rohingya from Bangladesh — less than 1 percent of the total refugee population, which is estimated to be at least 350,000 people.

Authorities in Yangon contend most of the impoverished Rohingya now seeking shelter in Bangladesh are not citizens of Myanmar, because they are descended from illegal immigrants who arrived years ago. The Rohingya, however, claim their community has lived where Myanmar is located for several centuries.

Separately, Bangladesh's foreign secretary, Shahidul Haque, said Myanmar's Aung San Suu Kyi is expected to send a special envoy to Bangladesh soon, to take stock of the Rohingya refugee situation.

Violence directed at Rohingya Muslims has broken out in Myanmar sporadically in recent years, and members of the Muslim minority fleeing persecution kept crossing over to southeastern Bangladesh, which lies adjacent to their home villages in Rakhine state. The situation worsened considerably 11 weeks ago, however, after nine Myanmar border guards were killed in an armed attack blamed on Rohingya militants.

Refugee tide swelled recently

A military crackdown in Myanmar that followed the border attack has been blamed for human rights abuses including extrajudicial killings, rapes and arson in Rohingya villages. In those recent weeks up to 50,000 Rohingya men, women and children have crossed into Bangladesh seeking safety.

Bangladeshi officials' estimates of the Rohingya population vary, but most contend there are 350,000 to 500,000 Rohingyas living in Bangladesh, over 90 percent of whom are illegal refugees.

Bangladesh, one of the world's most densely populated countries, has long complained that its congested urban areas and villages cannot cope with the burden of Rohingya refugees pouring into the country. About 10 years ago, Bangladesh quietly adopted a policy to push the refugees back to Myanmar, yet the Rohingyas have consistently managed to return, slipping through the porous border, usually by river crossings.

Authorities in Myanmar, formerly known as Burma, claim that all the allegations of abuse, killings and rapes by soldiers are fictitious, but such complaints by newly arrived refugees have increased dramatically since October. The Rohingya say they have been the victims of violence by Buddhists in Rakhine, also known as Moghs, as well as government soldiers.

Hasina Begum, who has been staying in the illegal Rohingya settlement of Kutupalong in Bangladesh since November, said that under no circumstances would she agree to return to Myanmar.

"Soldiers and Moghs were raping and torturing the people around us. My children were murdered. I was beaten and they broke my waist. My husband was taken away by the soldiers and he has disappeared since then," Begum told VOA.

"Moghs looted my house before burning it. … Unable to bear this torture I have fled to Bangladesh," she continued.

"If Bangladesh says we must go back, we shall kill ourselves. But we will not return to Myanmar," the Rohingya woman added.

Nuruzzaman, a 55-year-old Rohingya man, told VOA, "I had eight members in my family. I lost three of them, including my young daughter, to the violence there. To save our lives five of us have fled to Bangladesh. ... In Burma they say, 'You belong to Bangladesh.' In Bangladesh they are saying, 'you belong to Burma.'

"Where shall we go? ... The world is so big. Is there not some space for the Rohingyas to live?"

Hoping to refuge in Muslim-majority countries

Nuruzzaman said he hoped Muslim-majority countries like Malaysia, Indonesia, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia or Turkey, all of whom have been sympathetic to the Rohingyas' cause, could provide refuge.

"They can perhaps arrange our transportation from Bangladesh to their countries by ship or plane," the refugee told VOA. "That way, perhaps, the Rohingyas could be saved from dying a bad death here."

Nurul Islam, a Britain-based Rohingya rights activist and community leader, said that there is an exodus from Rakhine state because Rohingyas there "are desperate to save their lives."

"By just crossing a river they can reach safety, they know," said Islam, who is president of the Arakan Rohingya National Organization, told VOA.

"If Bangladesh really does not want to host these refugees any more and some other countries are willing to help," Islam told VOA, "we will be thankful if those countries offer temporary refuge to this hapless community."



AL leader remanded over attack on Nasirnagar Hindus

Jan 01, 2017

A Brahmanbaria court on Sunday placed a Bangladesh Awami League leader on a one-day remand over attacks on Nasirnagar Hindu community.

Soraf Uddin, senior judicial magistrate of the Brahmanbaria court, passed the order after police produced Abdul Ahad, former joint secretary of upazila AL and former chairman of sadar union, before the court seeking a five-day remand.

Earlier, police arrested Ahad from his residence in Ghoshpara area of Nasirnagar upazila headquarter on 27 December.

On 30 October, some unruly people demolished 15 Hindu temples and vandalised over 100 houses in the upazila following a Facebook post that allegedly hurt the religious sentiment of the Muslim community.

Full report at:



Explosion near a mosque in Herat city leaves 6 wounded

Jan 2, 2017

At least 6 people were wounded in an explosion near a mosque in Herat city in West of Afghanistan, local officials said Monday.

The incident took place on Sunday evening after an explosive device was detonated close to Imam Mohammad Baqer mosque.

Provincial governor’s spokesman Jilani Farhad confirmed the incident and said the explosion took place close to the Shi’ite mosque, leaving at least 6 wounded, including a woman.

Farhad further added that the health condition of one of those injured in the explosion is critical and is being treated in the hospital.

No group including the Taliban insurgents has so far claimed responsibility behind the incident.

Herat is among the relatively calm provinces in West of Afghanistan but the anti-government armed militants have recently increased to their insurgency activities.

Attacks target mosques are not rare in Afghanistan as the anti-government armed militant groups frequently use the sacred sites for terrorist attacks.

Numerous attacks target the Shi’ite Muslims have taken place in key cities of the country during the recent months, including capital Kabul.

Full report at:



Terrorism equally threatening Afghanistan and Pakistan: Pak Army Chief

Jan 01 2017

Pakistan’s Chief of Army Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa has said terrorism and extremism equally threatens Afghanistan and Pakistan as he pledged full support to cooperate in eliminate the menace of terror.

The Office of the Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah said Gen. Bajwa conveyed the message during a telephone conversation on Saturday afternoon.

Reiterating Pakistan’s hope for a peaceful and stable Afghanistan, Gen. Bajwa said ‘He is hopeful the two brotherly nations work together for a lasting peace considering the current challenges and threats the two countries are facing.’

According to a statement by Chief Executive’s Office, Gen. Bajwa has called extremism and terrorism a joint threat to both the nations as he pledged full support by Pakistan to eliminate the shared threats.

Full report at:



Southeast Asia


‘Muslims Must Keep Open Mind About Palestine Issue’: Raja Muda Of Perlis Tuanku

January 1, 2017

KUALA LUMPUR: Muslims must have a deep understanding on Palestine issues without being influenced by militant ideology and subversive elements, says the Raja Muda of Perlis Tuanku Syed Faizuddin Putra Jamalullail.

According to a press statement issued by the Perlis Islamic Religious and Malay Customs Council (MAIPs), he said such a measure was important to ensure any action by Muslims when dealing with the issue did not contravene with what has been outlined in Islam.

Tuanku Syed Faizuddin, who is also MAIPs president suggested a continuous intellectual discourse with open minds and without being emotional so that the issue discussed would have a clear direction.

He said this after witnessing the handing over of MAIPs’ tithe to Ibnu Sabil ‘asnaf’ worth RM10,000 via the Malaysian Consulate General office in Hong Kong and Guangzhou, China.

The simple but meaningful ceremony in Hong Kong yesterday was graced by the Raja Perempuan of Perlis Tuanku Tengku Fauziah Tengku Abdul Rashid and the Raja of Perlis, Tuanku Syed Sirajuddin Putra Jamalullail.

Full report at:



Mahathir’s 1MDB fatwa – A hate campaign to split Malaysians for votes

By Raja Petra Kamarudin

Jan 2, 2017

Mahathir Mohamad is worried.

It has just been revealed that 1MDB had embarked upon many worthy causes, one of which was to help those who do not have enough money to perform their haj.

What other worthy causes has 1MDB performed?

Actually, if you have been paying attention, you would know some of the good that 1MDB had been doing.

But then you just want to hear negative stories – about how 1MDB’s money was stolen and about RM42 billion disappearing into thin air – that the story of 1MDB helping people to perform their Haj was news to you when, in fact, this had been revealed long ago.

Mahathir’s indecorous fatwa

Allah will not accept your haj if 1MDB helped you perform your pilgrimage, says Mahathir

Anyway, Mahathir appears to have just found out about 1MDB helping Muslims to perform their haj even if this had been revealed a couple of years ago.

Mahathir has just come out with his fatwa (religious edict) that Allah will not accept the haj of those who perform the pilgrimage with 1MDB’s help.

The Pahang Mufti, someone authorised to issue a fatwa, has contradicted Mahathir.

Going by Mahathir’s track record, I feel that what the Pahang Mufti decreed has more credibility than what Mahathir decreed.

After all it was Mahathir who ridiculed those who keep beards by saying that the only reason Prophet Muhammad sported a beard is because there were no Gillette shaving blades during the time of the Prophet.

Now, since long before the time of Prophet Muhammad, the people of Arabia had been performing their haj where they shave their heads at the end of the haj.

How, then, did they shave their heads if there was no way to shave back in those days?

Gillette was founded on Sept 28, 1901 so for sure they did not have Gillette shaving blades back in the year 600.

But they did have ways of shaving their heads so that means they could have shaved off their beards as well if they wanted to.

Hence the reason Muslims kept beards is not because they did not have Gillette shaving blades (which did not exist until 1901) but for another reason.

If you believe in Hadith (or do not reject Hadith) then go and read them and find out why Muslims kept beards until today.

It is not because Gillette shaving blades did not exist yet until 1901.

So Mahathir has a very poor track record in religious edicts or fatwa.

Defective legacy

Mahathir’s fatwa are based on sarcasm and not based on proper research.

In 2002, Mahathir issued a fatwa that Malaysia was already a Muslim country so there was no longer any need for PAS – and then he elevated the status of the syariah court to the same level as the common law court.

That has since created a lot of problems, especially in cases involving child custody and unilateral conversions.

Then non-Muslims blame Islam and oppose Abdul Hadi Awang’s RUU355 because, according to them, they have so much problems with Islam.

The non-Muslims say they do not accept syariah laws whereas syariah laws have been around long before the Chinese and Indians migrated to Malaya in large numbers from 1850 to 1920.

No doubt Chinese and Indians have been coming to Malaya since before 1511 but mass migration under British times was between 1850 and 1920 (which means the Chinese and Indians did not come on their own but the British and their agents ‘imported’ them).

When they came to Malaya there were already syariah laws in existence.

For example, Kelantan had syariah laws while the state was still under Thai rule and before Siam transferred Kelantan to British rule in 1909.

The non-Malays are opposed to RUU355 out of fear that the syariah laws would be applicable to them as well.

I can understand that and I do not blame them.

The issue is how do we assure the non-Muslims that syariah laws apply only to Muslims and that non-Muslims would not be affected?

If Mahathir is a responsible person then he should focus on this instead.

A lot of the problems that we face today were Mahathir’s legacy.

He created all these problems.

So Mahathir should do something like sort out how Islam can co-exist with non-Muslims and syariah laws would apply only to Muslims and not to non-Muslims.

Let us take the child custody and unilateral conversion problem as one example.

Why is Mahathir not talking about this?

Why is he keeping quiet?

This problem cropped up during Mahathir’s time and is still a problem until today.

Mahathir left Malaysia this problem.

Causing a split

Does Mahathir want Muslims and non-Muslims to continue to fight over this?

Does Mahathir not want Muslims and non-Muslims to live in peace?

Instead, Mahathir talks about Allah not accepting the haj of those who go to perform their pilgrimage with 1MDB’s help.

What nonsense is this?

Why does he say that?

Is it because 1MDB’s money is taxpayers’ money so any taxpayers’ money used for religious purposes was not accepted by Allah?

Mosques are built by the government, meaning using taxpayers’ money.

Will Allah accept the prayers of those who pray in mosques built with taxpayer’s money?

Should good Muslims boycott mosques and pray at home instead?

Does Mahathir himself not pray in mosques built by the government using taxpayer’s money?

Should the government stop building mosques?

Tabung Haji spent RM160 million in 2016 to subsidise those performing their haj and this year it is going to increase to RM200 million because the cost of the haj has gone up and the Saudi government is also increasing the tax.

So Tabung Haji is using taxpayers’ money to subside the cost of the haj.

So does this mean all those who have been performing their haj through Tabung Haji’s help have wasted their money because Allah will not accept their haj as well?

Don’t forget, it was Mahathir who announced that 90% of the personal income tax was being paid by the Chinese.

That means taxpayers’ money is almost all Chinese money.

Then Mahathir said 1MDB is taxpayers’ money.

So that means 1MDB is Chinese money.

Then Mahathir says Allah will not accept the haj of those who performed their pilgrimage with 1MDB’s help.

So this means those who do their pilgrimage with 1MDB’s help are performing their haj using Chinese money.

Mahathir is just triggering friction between Muslims and Muslims and Muslims and non-Muslims.

This is called divide-and-rule, the strategy which the British used during their imperial days and which Sun Tzu also propagated.

That was how 10,000 British ruled over 300 million Indians in British India and just three people and 20 policemen could rule 300,000 Kelantanese in 1909.

Hate campaign

Mahathir wants the people to hate Prime Minister Najib Razak.

So he starts by making people hate 1MDB by saying that Allah will not accept the haj of those who performed their pilgrimage with 1MDB’s help.

In short, 1MDB is abusing taxpayers’ money, meaning Chinese money, by sending people to Mecca.

Full report at:



Sarawak DCM to meet minister over tax on religious bodies

January 2, 2017

KUCHING: A Sarawak deputy chief minister will seek clarification from Finance Minister II Johari Abdul Ghani on religious bodies being subject to taxation under recent amendments to the Income Tax Act 1967.

Douglas Uggah Embas said that he will have a meeting soon with Johari on the matter, The Borneo Post reported today.

“It’s my duty to ensure the policy should be fair”, he said, according to the daily.

Douglas was referring to complaints that Putrajaya appears to be going after non-Muslim religious bodies. Most mosques and Muslim welfare bodies fall under state Islamic law, hence they are tax exempt as government bodies or institutions.

Uggah was commenting on Johari advising religious bodies to write to the Inland Revenue Board (IRB) on the “loopholes” that need to be plugged under amendments to the act.

Another Sarawak Deputy Chief Minister James Jemut Masing agreed it was not fair to tax religious bodies.

“Even if they make investments using the donations, the proceeds are meant for religious purposes. Hence, they should not be taxed at all,” added Masing.

Johari claimed that many religious bodies are actively involved in investments.

“Some of them frequently buy and sell properties by using the religious bodies’ funds,” the second finance minister was quoted as saying in the media.

“These religious bodies also earned huge profits with some paying huge allowances to committees,” Johari had reportedly said, adding that his ministry just needed to have a system to safeguard all public donations.

He said donations should be used solely for religious purposes only, not for making profits.

The amendment to the Income Tax Act 1967 was passed by the Senate on Dec 16 with no objections.

The amendment was earlier passed by the Dewan Rakyat on Nov 23 under the Supply Bill (Budget 2017), which the opposition had voted against as a whole.

The amendments have come under intense fire from non-Muslims.

The crux of the problem, said Association of Churches Sarawak (ACS) secretary-general Ambrose Linang, was the government not consulting religious bodies before proceeding with the amendment to the 1967 Act.

Kota Kinabalu Chinese Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KKCCCI) president Michael Lui thinks the government should encourage religious groups to carry out activities for them to be self-sufficient.

Full report at:



Cop chides Islamic agencies for inaction against extremism

January 2, 2017

PETALING JAYA: The Islamic State (IS) threat and the number of Malaysians wanting to join the militant group will continue to grow unless religious authorities and departments do more to curb extremist activities, the top anti-terrorism cop in the country said in an interview with The Star yesterday.

“IS will continue to pose a significant threat if other agencies, especially the religious authorities and departments, do not play their part in curbing the spread of the ‘salafi jihadi’ ideology, which is an extremist form of teaching,” Special Branch counter-terrorism division principal assistant director Ayob Khan Mydin Pitchay told the daily.

He added that some religious experts in the country had even questioned the police over their actions in arresting suspects with links to Al-Qaeda, Jemaah Islamiah, Darul Islam and IS, just because they shared the same ideology.

Without naming the local “experts”, Ayob also urged organisers of religious forums and talks to always screen the speakers, be they local or foreign, who are invited to speak at public events, more so, when it is held in universities.

“One of them also questioned the detention of Dr Aiman Al-Dakkak, who is a senior leader in Al-Qaeda in October 2010. Aiman is responsible for recruiting Universiti Islam Antarabangsa Malaysia (UIAM) students and he also planned to launch an attack on Batu Caves,” Ayob was quoted as saying by The Star.

Meanwhile, Ayob said there has been an alarming increase in the number of Malaysians trying to join the Islamic State (IS) militant group, with a continuous uptrend in the number of arrests made over the past four years.

“In 2013 there were four people arrested for trying to join IS but it increased to 59 in 2014 and 85 last year. However, the total of those arrested has spiked drastically to 119 this year.”

“In terms of prosecution, a total of 122 suspects have been charged. So far, 62 militants have been found guilty while 38 have been detained under the Prevention of Crime Act (Poca) and 18 under the Prevention of Terrorism Act (Pota),” Ayob told The Star, adding that the police are aware of 60 Malaysians being in Syria currently, with some being snipers while others are suicide bombers.

Most wanted man

Ayob also said the police had managed to contain more than 10 terrorist plots in the country todate.

Full report at:



Our work with Umno ‘depresses’ Amanah, says PAS leader

January 2, 2017

PETALING JAYA: Some Amanah leaders are “depressed” because PAS has succeeded in getting Umno to help strengthen Islam, says a PAS leader.

Speaking to FMT, PAS dewan ulama information chief, Khairuddin Aman Razali said PAS’s success had boosted its image in the eyes of the people.

He was responding to a statement by Amanah communications director Khalid Samad who claimed the participation of PAS leaders in an Umno programme overseas was an effort to help Barisan Nasional repair its reputation.

Khalid also said the decision of some PAS leaders to get close to Umno leaders was among the reasons some former PAS leaders left the party to form Amanah.

Recently, Khairuddin and PAS’s Pengkalan Chepa MP Mohd Izani Husin travelled with Umno Supreme Council member Jamil Khir Baharom for an Umno Overseas Club event in London, a move which led to speculation about PAS and Umno’s political ties.

However, Khairuddin said there was nothing wrong with them participating in the Umno event, as it provided them the chance to speak to overseas Malaysians about politics and issues back home.

Among these issues, Khairuddin said was the proposed amendments to the Shariah Courts (Criminal Jurisdiction) Act 1965.

“If Umno is ready to help PAS strengthen the shariah courts, then it shows Umno is ready to accept mutual interests first and strengthen Islam. This is a success for PAS and we will continue to build our image as defenders of Islam in the eyes of Umno members.”

On the other hand, Khairuddin said Amanah and its leaders, including Khalid, would instead prefer to defend DAP’s stand in opposing the private member’s bill by PAS president Abdul Hadi Awang to amend the act.

Full report at:





Uganda: Police Blame Mosque Raid On Fake Intelligence, Release Suspects

1 JANUARY 2017

By Joseph Kato & Stephen Kafeero

Kampala — Police have admitted that they acted on false intelligence when they raided a city mosque where at least 12 people, including seven Indians, were arrested, detained and questioned for hours.

Police, without any search warrant returned on Friday morning to conduct a search operation at Kiwatule mosque where scene-of-crime officers recovered a number of items. Police have not declared the items.

Kampala Metropolitan Police spokesperson, Emilian Kayima, told Sunday Monitor on Friday afternoon that police acted on information from local sources which was later found to be untrue.

Mr Kayima explained that some residents who he did not mention had informed police that some people of Asian origin were involved in suspicious activities which prompted the Force to move in on the mosque and arrest Muslims who had come for the 8pm prayer also called "Isha".

"Some of the vigilant locals became concerned about foreigners not known by the community who were living at the mosque. People were suspicious about what they could carry and do in the night," Mr Kayima said.

The raid

Acting on the false alarm, police's Flying Squad Unit (FSU) swung into action and sealed off the mosque on Thursday from 8:30pm untill Friday 11am when overt and covert security operatives left.

Mr Kayima, without any apology to the Muslim community, said police had scrutinised the suspects and realised they were legal visitors invited by the Old Kampala based Uganda Muslim Supreme Council (UMSC) leadership.

Police discovered that the suspects' arrival and stay in the country had been to relevant offices, including that of the Internal Affairs minister and Inspector General of Police, Gen Kale Kayihura.

The eight Indians from New Delhi, the capital city of India initially thought to be Pakistanis were picked alongside five Ugandans, including Sheikh Yunus Kabuye, the mosque's leader and detained at an undisclosed location without any charge.

"We found nothing of crime value at the mosque," Mr Kayima said.

"We interacted with all the suspects and realised they were invited by UMSC. We have released them uncharged," he added.

The Ugandan suspects included Sheikh Kabuye, the mosque Imam, Mr Muhammad Nakayenga, Mr Badru Kakooza, Mr Musa Lubega and Mr Ibrahim Kizito.

The Indian suspects included Mr Mohammed Shameem Khan, Mr Sufiyan Ahmed Ansari, Mr Siraj Ahmed Bashir, Mr Mohamad Mobin Shaikh, Mr Mohammad Shariq, Mr Nazeer Ahmad Aziz and Mr Abdu Ssalam.

Mr Dawda Wateka the vice chairman of Development Community Masjid Abubakar Swidiiq and Mr Farouq Nyanzi a youth leader at the mosque, condemned the police raid.

"Had the police come during day time, it would have discovered the truth than arresting our people for nothing. Police should always involve leaders. It is shameful that police can operate on rumours," Mr Wateka said.

The Kiwatule mosque raid came exactly two days after a joint team of security forces raided Nakasero Mosque at night and arrested at least 18 people. Police later released a list of the suspects which was disowned by the Muslims as fake. The police list included non-Muslims.

IGP Kayihura said the raid at Nakasero mosque was as a result of information revealed by a Muslim suspect in the murder of Maj Muhammad Kiggundu. Maj Kiggundu was shot dead on November 26 at Masanafu Trading Centre in Kampala.

Sheikh Miladu Kaluuma, a member of Nakasero mosque executive and Mr Siraje Kifamba, the acting Nakasero mosque spokesperson, condemned the raid on the two mosques. They have asked Parliament to intervene in what they described as Muslim witchhunting and disrespect of their places of worship.

The Sunday Times Prints Correction For ‘Enclaves Of Islam’ Story



Somalia: Al Shabaab group publicly executes an official in Southern Somalia


JILIB, Somalia- The Al Qaida-linked militant group Al Shabaab has publicly executed a senior official whom it accused of collaborating with Jubbaland state in Jilib district, Garowe Online reports.

Col Salah Bashir Omar, 80, who was convicted of being a member of Jubbaland forces in Afmadow was tied to a pole and shot dead by a firing squad in an open square in Jilib town in Middle Jubba region on Sunday afternoon.

"The Islamic court in Jubba regions carried out the execution of Col Salah Bashir Omar who worked for Jubbaland state Intelligence Agency in Afmadow town," said Al Shabaab Judge during the execution.

Sources said Omar was abducted by Al Shabaab fighters from Afmadow town in Lower Jubba region in November for allegedly helping Kenyan defense forces (KDF) to kill Al Shabab leaders.

Jubbaland state has released a statement concerning the execution of the alleged army officer, and said he was a local traditional elder kidnapped by Al Shabaab from Afmadoo two months ago.

Full report at:



Nigerian official held over alleged ties to Boko Haram


By Rafiu Ajakaye

LAGOS, Nigeria

A Nigerian local government official was detained in the country's restive northeastern region for allegedly shielding a Boko Haram suspect at his home.

According to a ministerial statement on Sunday from the provincial Borno government, Shettima Lawan Mafa, a council chairman, was held by the military on suspicion he hid a top terror suspect.

“(Hon. Mafa) reported himself to the military last week and was detained pending the outcome of ongoing investigations being conducted by the military,” Borno commissioner for local government affairs Usman Ali Zannah said -- the first official comment on the issue.

The army had yet to comment at the time of this report.

A number of top government officials have previously been indicted for alleged involvement in the insurgency. The country's senate majority leader Ali Ndume and former Borno governor Ali Modu-Sheriff face similar charges, although they have not yet been prosecuted.

The development comes just over a week after the military flushed the militants from their main base in the Sambisa forest and amid reports Boko Haram violence has dropped sharply in the last 12 months.

Full report at:



Burundi minister shot dead in latest violence

Jan 2, 2017

NAIROBI - Burundi's environment minister was shot dead in the capital Bujumbura early Sunday, police said, the first killing of its kind since the country was plunged into political turmoil two years ago. Emmanuel Niyonkuru, 54, the country's water, environment and planning minister, was killed shortly after midnight, according to a tweet sent by police spokesman Pierre Nkurikiye.

The murder, the first of a serving government minister since Burundi sank into turmoil over President Pierre Nkurunziza's controversial bid for a third term in 2015, comes after months of relative calm. "Minister of water and environment killed by a criminal with a gun on his way home to Rohero, around 00:45," Nkurikiye wrote four hours after the incident. He added that a woman had been arrested following the "assassination" although the motive for the attack was not immediately clear.

Full report at:



Gambia's Jammeh accuses ECOWAS of declaring war

Jan 1, 2017

Gambian President Yahya Jammeh has accused the West African regional bloc ECOWAS of declaring a war against his country amid an ensuing political crisis there.

In a New Year’s speech broadcast on state TV, the Gambian president pledged to defend his country against what he called any foreign aggression.

Jammeh called the mediation by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) as an insult to the Gambia’s constitution.

"Let me make it very clear that we are ready to defend this country against any aggression ... My government will never opt for such confrontation but defending our sovereignty is a sacred duty for all patriotic Gambians," the president said, adding, "It is in effect a declaration of war and an insult to our constitution."

Elsewhere in his remarks, the president questioned the role of the regional body as a genuine mediator. "ECOWAS has also disqualified (itself) to provide mediation services as a genuine mediator has to be neutral and impartial and win the trust and confidence of the parties to the conflict."

Jammeh had initially accepted the results of the December 1 election, in which opposition leader Adama Barrow was declared the winner, but reversed his position more than a week later and called for a revote.

His refusal to accept the results prompted political upheaval in the country, bringing pressure from the international community on him to accept the result and step down.

Leaders from ECOWAS have traveled to the Gambia in an attempt to strike a deal with the president to make him leave power.

Gambia’s President Yahya Jammeh (C) receives a delegation of ECOWAS leaders in the capital, Banjul, December 13, 2016. (Photo by Reuters)

ECOWAS has said that Jammeh must step down next month and vowed "to take all necessary action to enforce the results" of the election.

The Gambian military has already been deployed to civilian sites, such as the election commission headquarters, in a show of force by Jammeh.

Barrow says Jammeh lacks the constitutional authority to call for a new vote or to invalidate the election.

Full report at:



Act, Nigerians are hungry, Father Mbaka advises President Buhari

January 1, 2017

The priest of the Catholic Adoration Ministry in Enugu State has advised President Muhammadu Buhari on leadership in the New Year.

Ejike Mbaka gave the advice in Enugu on Saturday in his New Year message at the cross over service to 2017.

He advised the President to tackle the challenges facing the country, saying “many Nigerians are suffering.

“Though the President is trying on corruption and security, Nigerians are hungry; they want to see more changes.

“There is the need to assist businessmen and women in their businesses,” the famous cleric who publicly supported Mr. Buhari’s presidential ambition, said.

He also advised the President to appoint experts who would help him to revive the economy.

The cleric asked the President to consult Church leaders and eminent men of God

to advise him and tell him the truth about the economy.

“We cannot reach him for advice because of the kind of people around him,” he added.

He then urged Nigerians to be patient and be prayerful “as your sufferings and hardships would be over in 2017.

Full report at:



Cote d'Ivoire: 'Foreigners' in Their Own Homeland?

12 DECEMBER 2016


By Richard Chelin

In October 2016 Côte d'Ivoire will hold a referendum on constitutional reforms. While president Alassane Ouattara perceives this as an opportunity to modernise the constitution, opposition party members have condemned the move as anti-democratic and illegitimate. The opposition parties' concerns arise from recent attempts by leaders of other African countries to amend their constitutions to extend their stay in power. In some instances this has resulted in violence, as exemplified in Burundi in 2015.

Under Ouattara's leadership Côte d'Ivoire has experienced a period of relatively stable economic growth, and the IMF has described the country's economic performance as "impressive". But despite the advances in the economic sphere, ethnic tensions are still a source of vulnerabilities in the country's politics.

The terror attacks at Grand-Bassam resort in March this year underscored the fragile security situation of a country that is heavily reliant on the presence of the UN peacekeepers. However, one of the most crucial issues that Ouattara's government seeks to address in the constitutional referendum is that of national identity, more specifically article 35 of the constitution.

Prior to his re-election in 2015, Ouattara promised to amend a citizenship clause in the current constitution that was ratified in 2000 in the aftermath of a military coup led by General Robert Guéï. Article 35 stipulates that a presidential candidate "must be Ivorian by birth, born of a father and of a mother themselves Ivorian by birth" and the candidate must "never have renounced Ivorian nationality nor have had another nationality".

The nationalistic concept of Ivoirité has existed since immigrants first arrived in the country. After gaining independence from France in 1960 the Ivorian government encouraged immigration from neighbouring countries to augment the labour force for the country's flourishing cocoa industry. Many migrant workers, most of them Muslim, settled in the northern part of country.

Full report at:





English couple beats 50-year-old Muslim man in England

Jan 2, 2017

A 50-year-old Muslim man named Shahid Iqbal was beaten in the city of Derby, England, by a couple who appears to be English.

According to Iqbal, woman passenger in his taxi grabbed the steering wheel while refusing to pay a fare of 7 pounds. In fact, the woman asked him to give £80 for her domestic needs which he declined immediately.

Just when he tried to call the police, woman bit his arm and slapped him on the face. Iqbal told that he was beaten by the woman and his partner when he got out of the car.

"I said just pay me and go but she lunged at me. She grabbed my phone and started to bite. Then she went for me again and bit my arm", told Iqbal about the incident.

Iqbal tried to pull out of fight with woman but then her partner took things in his hand and joined the woman in attacking the taxi driver where they punched and kicked the old man.

There were a few people watching the incident but the bystanders didn’t react at all. Rather, they recorded the beating on their phones while singing songs.

The bystanders made fun of the Muslim man being beaten by the couple and made its footage.

Meanwhile, Iqbal has decided to leave his job of driving a taxi following the attack and his family is frightened that they will be attacked again.



Over 1,000 refugees storm Spain's border fence with Morocco

Jan 1, 2017

A series of violent clashes has erupted after over 1,000 refugees attempting to reach Europe stormed a border fence between Morocco and Spain's overseas territory of Ceuta.

The clashes broke out after a group of 1,100 people from Sub-Saharan Africa tried to jump a high double fence between Morocco and the Spanish enclave of Ceuta on Sunday.

The central government's representative office in Ceuta in a statement confirmed that the refugees assaulted in an "extremely violent and organized" way just after 4:00 a.m. local time on New Year's Day.

The statement added that at least five Spanish policemen and 50 members of the Moroccan forces were injured. The assault also saw one officer lose an eye.

At least two refugees were also badly injured and taken to hospital in Ceuta.

According to the statement, the refugees used wire iron bars and stones to cut through the fence.

They tried "to force open some of the doors in the external fence, using iron bars, wire cutters and large stones with which they assaulted Moroccan forces and (Spanish) Guardia Civil (police) agents," it said.

According to local authorities, just over 100 people managed to climb up the external fence and stayed on top for hours.

Footage shot by local Faro TV showed that at least one man perched at the top of the six-meter high fence.

Local authorities say none managed to get through the bar. A similar assault on December 9 saw more than 400 refugees enter the tiny enclave.

Refugees queue to board a Red Cross bus in El Tarajal, Ceuta, close to the border with Morocco, December 9, 2016. (Photo by AFP)

Ceuta along with Melilla has the European Union's only land borders with Africa. The refugees in the past got there by either climbing over the border fence or by swimming along the coast.

Amnesty International and other rights groups have repeatedly criticized the Spanish government for the treatment of refugees in two of Spain's overseas territories.

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