New Age Islam
Thu Oct 01 2020, 03:15 PM

Islamic World News ( 17 Feb 2015, NewAgeIslam.Com)

Muslim NGOs could help counter violent extremism

 

 

 

 

Boko Haram is fighting to create an Islamic state

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Southeast Asia

Muslim NGOs could help counter violent extremism

Muslim rebels hand over police weapons in Philippine south

Radical Islam movement changes focus, lacks leadership

Indonesia pushing ahead with Islamic mega-bank plan

  

Europe

French Reverts to Islam Double After Charlie Hebdo

UK’s anti-terror police arrest two 16-year-olds

Bennett to Europe: Israel is on the front lines in war against terror and radical Islam

Anger of Suspect in Danish Killings Is Seen as Only Loosely Tied to Islam

UK rejects military intervention against IS in Libya 'at the moment'

Paris jihadists believed to have met night before attacks

Kyrgyzstan To Prosecute Syria Returnees As Mercenaries

Muslim lawyer says lack of minorities in legal profession

Hollande says anti-Semitism and anti-Muslim acts threaten France

How ISIS ‘makes millions’ selling antiquities

World powers rule out military intervention in Libya, call for unity govt

 

North America

FBI opens civil rights inquiry into vandalism at Muslim school

‘US summit not to blame Islam for terrorism’

Hindu temple vandalised in US

Muslim school vandalized with anti-Islamic graffiti in Rhode Island

America’s most prominent Muslim says The Atlantic is doing PR for ISIS

Texas man arrested for threatening to bomb Islamic center and Middle Eastern restaurant

White House resists calls to focus on Islamist terrorism at three-day extremism summit

We must stamp out hatred wherever we see it

Grand jury indicts US man in killings of Muslims

U.S. army to provide equipment, intelligence to fight Boko Haram

Struggling in Europe, Muslims Look to US for Better Model

 

Arab World

IS burns to death 45 in Iraq     

Syrian Army Enters Zahraa Town after Breaking Terrorist Siege, Kills 65 Takfiris

ISIS fighters are desperately trying to obtain Viagra, spending money on kinky underwear for their 'wives'

Syrian Army Detonates Bridge in Jobar, Kills 10 Terrorists

At least 35 More Egyptians Kidnapped by ISIS-Affliate Ansar al-Sharia

Iraqi Kurds repel ISIL militant attack near Arbil

Two Iraqi militants killed while planting bomb

Regional turmoil figures high in Saudi-Qatar talks

Over 1500 Iraqi families return home in Diyala

Morsi, 198 BH leaders to face military tribunal

Military chiefs in KSA for anti-IS talks

Egypt mulls blocking ‘terror-linked’ websites: report

Syria willing to suspend Aleppo air strikes for six weeks: UN

Military chiefs in Saudi for anti-Islamic State talks

 

Pakistan

Promoting interfaith harmony: Speaker urges EU states to join hands with Muslim democracies

Using performing arts to counter extremists’ narrative in south

Taliban bomber strikes near Lahore police HQ; 5 dead

Warsi on war against terrorism

Dissenting voices silenced in Pakistan's war of the web

Afghanistan's enemy is Pakistan's enemy, says army chief

Rumoured attack on college panics Pabbi

 

India

Subramanian Swamy posts anti-Muslim Tweet, Twitterati reacts furiously

Muslim clerics pose six questions to RSS

 

South Asia

26 Afghan police killed as army begins anti-Taliban drive

Muhith clueless about Hindu exodus

Bangladesh orders top political figure to hang

Another implicates Hasan in killing of 8 Netrokona Hindus

Myanmar declares emergency in war-torn region

Solution to crisis exists within Bangladesh

UN says civilian deaths up 25 percent in Afghanistan

 

Mideast

Turkey’s reluctance to join the fight against ISIL isolates country further

Iran leader says ‘American Sniper’ is anti-Muslim ‘propaganda’

Ex-US aide calls for war on Iran if deal violated

Yemen colonel, bodyguard gunned down

Gaza start-ups aim to break the siege

Palestinian couples kept apart by Israel

'Iran should resist sanctions'

Iran rejects EU move to re-impose sanctions on tanker firm

 

Africa

11 killed in suicide attack in Nigeria

Heavy fighting in South Sudan oil zones

Niger Arrests over 160 Boko Haram Terrorists

Four Tunisian police killed in terrorist attack

Egypt seeks UN backing for air strikes against Isis in Libya

Boko Haram threatens to disrupt Nigeria poll

Nigeria rocked by multiple attacks in north and south

Morocco to create sharia board to oversee Islamic finance: decree

Warplane strikes Libya’s Zintan airport

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau

URL: http://newageislam.com/islamic-world-news/new-age-islam-news-bureau/muslim-ngos-could-help-counter-violent-extremism/d/101583

 

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Southeast Asia

 

Muslim Ngos Could Help Counter Violent Extremism

By Abbas Barzegar and Shawn Powers

February 18 2015

On Feb. 18, the White House plans to host a “Summit on Countering Violent Extremism.” The Obama administration should use this summit to ask why, so many years after Sept. 11, 2001, policymakers have failed to effectively manage the growing global trend toward violent extremism. The existing strategies, overly focused on home-grown radicalization, fail to address its transnational roots. Given the clear and consistent correlation between failed governance, radicalization and violence, it is time to genuinely engage a sector that is often the glue, preventing struggling communities from spiraling out of control: Muslim NGOs.

Aid and development networks in the Muslim world sit at the nexus of a number of key elements related to Countering Violent Extremism (CVE) in the short, medium and long term. Their efforts in social infrastructure and economic development have long been recognized and supported by a range of international governance bodies. However, because Muslim NGOs are also often first-responders in crisis zones, they double as gatekeepers for transnational Muslim networks seeking to act in these areas (whether for benevolent purposes or otherwise). Over the last two years, our research through the British Council and U.S. Institute of Peace has explored best practices of Muslim community engagement in the context of security and development work. Conversations with experts and practitioners and field research on the Turkish-Syrian border has led to the conclusion that Muslim NGOs should be engaged as key players in a comprehensive CVE strategy that coordinates across the security, development and communication sectors.

The overarching premise of Muslim CVE community engagement initiatives has been to empower the silent majority of mainstream Muslim societies. The most common practice in this regard has been a series of high profile conferences (Amman Message), appeals (Letter to al-Baghdadi) and even anti-extremist fatwas. Unfortunately, such efforts have become something of a tiresome, but necessary, ritual. Widespread denunciation of terrorist attacks has not worked at decreasing extremists’ proclivity to violence. Even more, it has not persuaded non-Muslims that extremists are truly on the fringe of Islam. Clearly, it is time for CVE campaigns to innovate.

Another strategy has been to enlist Muslim leaders and networks around the world in the actual policing of their own communities. The Global Counterterrorism Working Forum, for example, launched by the United States in 2011, is one of many consortiums aiming to coordinate and build on best practices of law enforcement and intelligence officials working to combat extremism. While there is certainly value in improving rule of law and other foundational institutions in transitioning states, these policing practices reinforce the good/bad Muslim binary, an iteration of the “with us or against us” mentality that has done much more to divide societies and cultures than to curtail violence. In 2011, research from Britain’s Preventing Violent Extremism (PVE) campaign indicated that such heavy-handed attempts antagonize Muslim communities, isolating the vast majority of Muslims whom are both peaceful and necessary to quell the current tide toward extremism. Similar conclusions were reached by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe in a review of community-policing CVE initiatives in 2014.

The existing approaches have focused attention on Muslim religious and political leaders, and the roles they can play in establishing norms of acceptable behavior, but many programs and institutions, such as the Radical Middle Way or the Quillium Foundation, have been self-selecting and largely unable to reach target audiences. Canvassing the last decade of global CVE strategy, it may be the case that counter-extremist communication and recruitment efforts have largely served to manufacture Muslim civil society rather than to engage existing actors and institutions with proven track records of transparency and reliability. Given the crucial role Muslim NGOs play in failing and weakened states of governance, this sector should be seen by policymakers and practitioners as an underutilized resource in the global fight against extremism.

In the face of overwhelming humanitarian and development needs, a key issue facing policymakers is the question of absorptive capacity, in effect the ability of an organization to assimilate new resources and expand its project execution. Indeed, many faith-based organizations around the world lack the professional infrastructure to deliver services to hundreds of thousands of people in an effective and consistent manner. We found, however, that Muslim faith-based NGOs operating in the Syrian refugee space worked with an enviable degree of transparency and professionalism. The warehouses of Turkish Muslim aid organization Deniz Feneri, for example, resembled a cross between the Salvation Army and Costco: Every item, from a pair of children’s shoes to crates of food supplies, was tracked with a unique barcode and meticulously recorded from donor to recipient. Our hosts boasted that if I donated the pen I was writing with and came back in five years to ask about its whereabouts, they could track it. Deniz Feneri’s operational culture represents the norm among Turkish Muslim NGOs. With the international community facing the “worst humanitarian disaster since the end of the cold war,” as United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees describes, it must actively seek out the best and most capable partners on the ground.

There is no question that some of these Muslim social service organizations’ ideological orientations do not align with Western liberal values. Moreover, in ongoing conflict zones such as Syria and Iraq, the delivery of humanitarian assistance often becomes another front line in which military, political and development actors operate in an opaque, nebulous web of shifting loyalties and intentions. Fears that transnational Muslim NGOs may provide transport for foreign fighters, arms and funding have been justified in certain situations. Similar networks likely played malicious roles in places like Somalia, Afghanistan and Pakistan. These groups, unfortunately, have grossly misrepresented the entire Muslim NGO sector. For example, despite increasing scrutiny of these organizations, there have been few convictions of wrongdoing or connections to violent extremism. Reticence and anxiety on the part of policymakers is to be expected, but in no way should this fear justify the current policy climate that spurns strategic and robust engagement with Muslim NGOs.

The United States has many strategic allies with incompatible ideological goals that are willing to turn their back on the United States on a moment’s notice. This is precisely why the policy community needs a more thorough understanding of the whole transnational Muslim NGO sector. As Muslim NGOs are given more opportunities to engage in mainstream development work and are thereby subjected to greater scrutiny, a corresponding increase in transparency can be expected. Islamic Relief, which has long been suspected of having ties to violent extremists, for example, just conducted a thorough audit clearing it of such allegations, which has been accepted by the British Charity Commission.

The exclusive focus on Muslim NGOs as security risks overshadows the crucial and substantive role that Muslim NGOs play, especially in the conflict and post-conflict zones to which many of the emerging extremists have connections. Groups like Humanitarian Relief Foundation (IHH), Deniz Feneri and Islamic Relief are at the front lines of the Syrian conflict, providing aid to Syrians crossing into Turkey, Jordan and Lebanon, as well as those displaced inside Syria. In the summer of 2014, after the U.N. Security Council authorized cross-border assistance to civilians in Syria without government approval, IHH became the central conduit for delivering the international community’s aid packages into Syria through its northern border. And before that, IHH ran operations at a half-dozen refugee camps on both sides of the Turkish and Syrian border, helping to secure the safety of nearly 100,000 Syrian refugees.

As physical gatekeepers, faith-based organizations like IHH should be leveraged for more than just routine aid work. Indeed, with the right communications infrastructure training, they could quickly become ideological gatekeepers as well. Online images of violence, suffering and catastrophe are key elements in the process of radicalization, which drive many volunteer fighters to participate in violent extremism. Radical groups such as the Islamic State, al-Qaeda and al-Nusra Front systematically use tormenting images of human misery in their online messaging and recruitment efforts. These images are then followed by battleground victories and acts of martyrdom creating situations in which the videos function cathartically for disaffected audiences around the world. Current CVE communications interventions have failed to curb the efficacy of this messaging. Muslim NGOs with aligned interests, if given effective media training, could just as easily showcase their successes to the same vulnerable audience. Developing this strategic alternative narrative would take some time, but would be based upon an organic, mainstream and substantive reality on the ground. Given the stakes, it is worth trying to see if this is more effective than the current efforts to manufacture a sanitized, palatable vision of “moderate” Islam.

Fortunately, there is no need to start from scratch. The U.S. government has a long history of supporting and engaging Muslim NGOs to assist in transitioning from authoritarian to democratic societies. In 1997, USAID launched the Islam and Civil Society (ICS) program in Indonesia, aiming to leverage Muslim NGOs “as intermediaries to effectively transmit and explain crucial civil society concepts to ordinary Indonesians.” ICS empowers The Asia Foundation (TAF), a respected, nonprofit development organization, to partner with more than 30 groups, including ones that specifically focused on countering a resurgence of violent extremism and “hardline Islamism,” as well as developed the shared understanding of and appreciation for democratic values, like tolerance, gender equality and transparency. Importantly, these partnerships included micro-level training regarding the day-to-day elements that make democracies tick, like focusing on accountability at the local and district levels of governance and the value of pluralism in decision making. Training Muslim NGOs allowed these lessons to be spread organically, with the authority of already established and respected opinion leaders, to the Indonesian masses.

Media training was central to the success of the ICS program. Funding supported a full range of content emphasizing the roles of tolerance and pluralism in the Islamic faith and value of intercultural dialogue, including radio programs, stories placed in local newspapers, inserts in popular magazines and tabloids, books and other educational materials, Web sites, public service advertisements, bus advertisements, leaflets (for distribution at mosques, targeting lower-income groups), and a scholarly journal.

The ICS program is seen as a harrowing success, helping to stabilize Indonesia’s democratic transition in the face of a viral spread of religious extremism. Crucially, the program also strengthened the institutional capacities of the Indonesian Muslim NGO sector, facilitating “formal and informal networks among over 30 Muslim partner organizations that have begun to see themselves as an emerging force committed to building a pluralistic, democratic country,” capable of launching multifaceted and well-organized responses to conservative attempts at rolling back Indonesia’s democratic progress. For example, when conservative Islamist groups launched a pro-polygamy campaign, the ICS network mobilized a multipronged media operation, publishing columns in Indonesia’s largest daily newspapers, and speaking out on popular television and radio programs against polygamy. This same group mobilized in 2005 to defeat legislation that would have severely restricted interfaith relations.

While revved up intelligence and law enforcement collaborations may be able to prevent further aftershocks to recent attacks in Europe, this heightened level of surveillance, and the resources it requires, is not an ideal or long-term solution to extremism. A common strategy has been to strengthen mainstream Muslims and bolster their ongoing struggle against extremists and radical ideologues. Despite nearly universal condemnation from every major Muslim organization and religious leader in the world, popular skepticism of Muslim groups is growing, especially in Europe. Admittedly, most state led CVE collaborations with Muslim communities have fatal design flaws.

The Cold War is instructive regarding how to effectively transform ideological divides. Decades of research on persuasion and media effects show that the way to move the needle, so to speak, is through building messaging into trusted communication networks that draw on, rather than combat, existing cultural predispositions. This is precisely how Radio Free Europe and Radio Liberty, two U.S.-funded broadcasters often credited with sustaining opposition to Soviet rule, were able to build and sustain audiences behind the Iron Curtain. Rather than broadcasting a predictable, government-imposed message, the broadcasters built upon and elevated existing dissident voices. Decades of systematic audience research, conducted by the broadcasters, and archived at the Open Society Foundation in Budapest, Hungary, show investing in local groups also opposed to communism, rather than repeating U.S. propaganda about the virtues of neoliberal democratic systems, was crucial to their success. Can CVE strategists develop a similar campaign?

Ideologies are embedded into social systems, and research shows that the introduction of information contrary to foundational ideological tenants will trigger a hardening of thinking rather than transformation. Yet current CVE strategies follow exactly this path: confronting violent extremism head-on, challenging in the most direct of ways. Muslim NGOs provide another way to realign the balance of power in the competition. They provide the glue that is Muslim civil society, especially in war-torn countries and transitioning states. They are substantial, have assets on the ground, and most importantly, they are trusted by locals because of years or decades of relationship building. These ties run deep. If the United States allies with, and offers legitimacy to Muslim NGOs, it will not only give them status, well deserved in many cases, but also greater scrutiny. And that is a good thing.

Engaging and amplifying Muslim NGOs – groups that understand the ideological terrain and already operate at its Gordian edges – offers a path forward that doesn’t require ubiquitous surveillance or invasive intelligence operations. Shifting from a focus on countering violent extremism to the potential for Muslim civil society to restore communities not only paints an alternative path for the millions of mainstream Muslims yearning to contribute to social change, but it also may enlighten Western publics regarding the diverse contributions of Islamic societies. We agree with those calling for innovative and comprehensive solutions to the problem. The White House Summit on Countering Violent Extremism is an excellent moment for stakeholders to rise to the challenge and develop a sustainable, long-term solution to violent extremism by engaging and empowering Muslim NGOs as strategic partners in a shared fight.

Abbas Barzegar is an assistant professor in the Department of Religious Studies Georgia State University. Shawn Powers is an assistant professor in the Department of Communication at Georgia State University.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/monkey-cage/wp/2015/02/17/muslim-ngos-could-help-counter-violent-extremism/

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Muslim rebels hand over police weapons in Philippine south

February 18 2015

MANILA, Feb 18 – The largest Muslim rebel group in the Philippines handed in 16 assault rifles taken from police commandos killed in a January firefight that has jeopardised milestone peace talks, in what the group said on Wednesday was a show of goodwill.

The Jan. 25 firefight on the southern island of Mindanao between the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and members of the police Special Action Force has thrown the talks into doubt and left President Benigno Aquino facing a political crisis.

Forty-four police commandos were killed in the fighting, the first clash between Philippine security forces and the MILF in about four years.

The 12-hour firefight, the result of a botched operation to capture an al Qaeda-linked bombmaker, left embarrassing questions for Aquino to answer about why a police officer suspended over corruption allegations was involved in planning and executing the raid.

A public outcry over the deaths of the commandos heaped pressure on Aquino to abandon a peace deal with the MILF and seek retribution for their deaths.

On Tuesday, international peace monitors and peace negotiators from the government and the MILF went to a marshland village in the heartland of MILF territory in Mindanao for the return of the weapons.

Mohagher Iqbal, head of the MILF peace negotiating team, said the MILF had tracked down the weapons and returned them to show its sincerity and commitment to the peace process.

“We are partners in this process,” Iqbal told a news conference at a southern army base.

He said he hoped it would also convince legislators to pass a law setting up a new Muslim autonomous government in the area. Congress has suspended deliberations on the bill until an inquiry into the deadly raid is finished.

Aquino’s peace adviser Teresita Quinto Deles described Tuesday’s ceremony as “a gesture of trust and goodwill”.

“The peace process has been disrupted, but not beaten back,” she said.

About 50 weapons and other equipment taken from police in the ambush are still missing.

The two sides signed the peace deal in March 2014 to end 45 years of conflict that has killed more than 120,000 people, displaced 2 million and stunted growth in the poor but resource-rich areas in the south.

http://www.pakistantoday.com.pk/2015/02/18/foreign/muslim-rebels-hand-over-police-weapons-in-philippine-south/

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Radical Islam movement changes focus, lacks leadership

Nani Afrida

February 18 2015

Amid global condemnation toward the Islamic State (IS) militant group in the Middle East, experts have found that the group’s presence has slowed down terrorism activities in Indonesia.

The existence of IS and a lack of leadership have been attributed to the weakened state of terrorism groups in the country.

“Radical groups are now either doing more dakwah [religious outreach] or starting to think that ‘jihad’ in Indonesia is not their main goal anymore,” Solahuddin from the Indonesia Peace Alliance told The Jakarta Post on Tuesday.

He said the number of terror attacks had declined to seven cases in 2014, from 21 cases in 2013.

“The attacks mostly happened in Poso or Bima in 2014, while other areas are considered safe from terror,” he added.

Another terrorism expert, Al Chaidar, who is also a former member of the radical group Islamic State of Indonesia (NII), said the radical movement in Indonesia was on the brink of extinction after a rapid rise and fall due to a lack of leadership.

“The last leader, who was is quite charismatic was Abu Bakar Ba’asyir. He has declared his alliance to the Islamic State group. Since then, they don’t have a charismatic leader anymore,” Al Chaidar said.

Abu Bakar Ba’asyir is the leader of Jama’ah Ansharut Tauhid (JAT), which a splinter from Jamaah Islamiyah (JI), a Southeast Asian militant group that is linked to the al-Qaeda network.

Al Chaidar acknowledged that Baasyir’s son Abdul Rohim and Rosyid Ridho had established a new movement named Jamah Ansharusy Syariah (JAS) against his father, however they were not so famous compared to Abu Bakar Ba’asyir.

“Many terrorists leaders were killed or are behind bars. The lack of leadership makes the radical movement weaker,” he said.

Solahuddin countered the argument, saying that the radical group would be revitalized by a new generation even if they did not have any leaders.

“Many experiences had shown that the group keeps growing, one dies and two will be born,” he said.

Both Solahuddin and Al Chaidar agreed that many members of the radical groups in Indonesia decided to conduct their “jihad” in Syria instead of in Indonesia.

According to Solahuddin, several radical groups in Indonesia have announced their allegiance to the emerging militant group Syria, including Jama’ah Ansharut Tauhid (JAT), Indonesia Mujahidin Council (MMI) and Darul Islam in South Sulawesi.

It was reported that on Dec. 31, 2013, the police arrested Anton, also known as Septi, who was involved in the fatal shootings of three policemen and the bombing of the Ekayana Buddhist temple.

After questioning, Anton admitted that he just robbed a bank and took Rp 300 million (US$23,400). Some of the money was supposed to be used to finance his trip to Syria.

Anton is a loyalist of Abu Roban, the slain leader of West Mujahidin Indonesia who had conducted a series of armed robberies to fund terrorist activities led by Santoso, the country’s most-wanted terrorist.

“The information shows that terrorists in Indonesia wanted to go to Syria because based on their teachings, Syria is an important area,” Solahudddin said.

Based on the data from the National Counterterrorism Agency (BNPT) last year, an estimated 514 Indonesians went to Syria and Iraq to fight with the IS, with around half of the them being Indonesian citizens who were already residing in nearby countries as students or migrant workers prior to the rise of IS.

BNPT chief Comr. Gen. Saud Usman Nasution said recruitment of IS fighters from Indonesia had jumped by more than three times from June to October last year.

Given that figure, Indonesia is probably the region’s biggest supplier of IS fighters. In comparison, around 40 Malaysians, 200 Filipinos and 60 Australians have joined the IS in Syria and Iraq, according to several media reports.

“Most of them are fighters not suicide bombers,” said Al Chaidar.

http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2015/02/18/radical-islam-movement-changes-focus-lacks-leadership.html#sthash.hDNdOV06.dpuf

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Indonesia pushing ahead with Islamic mega-bank plan

18 Feb 2015

JAKARTA: Indonesia is pushing ahead with plans to create an US$8 billion Islamic bank, even as Malaysia’s ambitions of creating the first such mega-bank fade.

Indonesia’s Financial Services Authority declared 2015 as the year of the sharia capital market, with its first act to merge three state-owned Islamic banks: Bank Mandiri Syariah, Bank Rakyat Indonesia and Bank Negara Indonesia. A small unit of Bank Tabungan Negara is also likely to be looped in.

“The team will assess the feasibility of the merger, including its profit opportunity, possible financial loss and impact towards the industry, said Teddy Poernama, a spokesman for Ministry of State Owned Enterprises. "If we really need something we will surely put our efforts to make it happen. We will surely try to reduce the likelihood of our plans failing.”

Indonesia has the world’s biggest Muslim population, but its Islamic finance market lags behind Malaysia. Indonesia's Islamic banks hold just 5.5 per cent of the country's banking assets, compared to Malaysia's 20.7 per cent, according to the latest World Islamic Banking Competitiveness Report.

However, the three-way mega merger could present an oppportunity for the Islamic banking sector to offer services at more competitive rates, due to scale, and win business away from leading names in banking, such as Standard Chartered and HSBC.

Indonesia’s Islamic Banking Association said in just three years, its market share will double to 10 per cent. But with the merger, it said, sharia banking could quadruple to take 20 per cent of the market in that same time. More importantly, it could force to lenders to move away from microfinancing and into funding large infrastructure projects.

“A merger is a good thing. We need to also pay attention to the required adjustments during the merger. It’s not as easy as turning on a switch when you expect a sharia bank that has a core clientele among small and medium enterprises to now focus on the corporate sector," said Jadi Suriadi, Head of Economics and Syariah Banking at Azzahra University Graduate School.

"There’s going to be a significant cost involved. If the government is serious in merging the banks, then cost won’t matter," he added.

The Financial Services Authority also unveiled a five-year roadmap for Islamic banking development, with plans to issue six new regulations this year, which will include incentives to attract first-time investors to the sharia capital market.

http://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/business/indonesia-pushing-ahead/1666494.html

 

 

 

 

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Europe

 

French Reverts to Islam Double After Charlie Hebdo

17 February 2015

PARIS – The number of reverts to Islam among French people has increased significantly after Charlie Hebdo attacks, with French imams reporting a growing number of people coming  to take Shahada or declaration of faith at mosques.

“It makes me want to go to Islam and to show everyone that this is not what Islam is about,” a young Muslim revert to Islam was quoted by RTL Radio a week ago.

According to the radio station, the Great Mosque of Paris issued 40 reversion certificates to Islam.

At the same period last year, the mosque gave certificates to 22 only, almost 50 percent of this year’s conversion rate.

Percentage of reverts to Islam in Strasbourg and Aubervilliers was also high, scoring around 30% increase.

Lyon also followed the same trend with an increase of 20%.

The imams said they were surprised at first by the increase in the number of new reverts. Moreover, the diversity of those reverts, including a doctor, a school principal or a police officer who all crossed the gate of the Grand Mosque to revert.

A few days after Charlie Hebdo attack, French director Isabelle Matic announced her decision to revert to Islam on her FaceBook account, making the unexpected announcement only a few days after Paris attacks.

A month ago, 17 people have been killed in attacks on Charlie Hebdo that rocked Paris.

Seeing the Charlie Hebdo attack as a betrayal of Islamic faith, leaders from Muslim countries and organizations have joined worldwide condemnation of the attack, saying the attackers should not be associated with Islam.

Later on, French Muslims called for criminalizing insulting religions amid increasing anger around the Muslim world over Charlie Hebdo’s decision to publish new cartoons of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh).

http://www.onislam.net/english/news/europe/483097-more-french-find-islam-after-charlie-hebdo.html

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UK’s anti-terror police arrest two 16-year-olds

February 18, 2015

LONDON - Two 16-year-olds have been arrested near Manchester under counter terrorism legislation and police said on Tuesday they were searching two properties on the basis of intelligence reports.

Officers from the North West Counter Terrorism Unit detained a boy and a girl in the town of Mossley on Monday.

The chief superintendent said there was no immediate threat to the community.

“It is prudent we act on that information and carry out a thorough, professional investigation to determine the circumstances and details of the activity reported,” she said.

Also on Tuesday, a 29-year-old man was arrested in Stoke-on-Trent on suspicion of encouraging terrorism and supporting Islamic State in online postings, West Midlands police said in a statement.

No further details on either case were immediately available.

http://nation.com.pk/international/18-Feb-2015/uk-s-anti-terror-police-arrest-two-16-year-olds

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Bennett to Europe: Israel is on the front lines in war against terror and radical Islam

02/17/201

Isaek is at the forefront of the global war on terrorism, stopping radical Islam on its way to attack Europe, Bayit Yehudi leader Naftali Bennett said in a video released first to The Jerusalem Post on Tuesday.

The clip is Bennett’s response to recent terrorist attacks on cartoonists and Jewish sites in Paris and Copenhagen, compounded with European criticisms of Israel’s policies.

In the video, Bennett stands on a hilltop in Samaria and points out that Tel Aviv is only 9 miles (15.5 km.) away.

The Bayit Yehudi leader described the threats Israel faces: Hezbollah in the north, Islamic State in the east and Hamas in the south.

“This is the front line between the free and civilized world,” Bennett pointed toward Tel Aviv in the west, “and radical Islam,” he said, pointing to the east.

“We’re stopping the flow of radical Islam from flowing from Iran and Iraq all the way to Europe,” he stated. “When we fight terror here, we’re protecting London, Paris and Madrid.”

Bennett pointed west yet again, saying that if Israel gives up the land he is standing on – in the West Bank – then his four children in Ra’anana will be in danger.

“To expect us to give up this land does not make sense,” he said.

The video concludes with Bennett declaring: “Your war for democracy starts here. Your war for freedom of speech starts right here. Your war for dignity and freedom starts right here.”

Then, the words “Israel fighting for your freedom” appeared on the screen.

The video came a week after Bennett reprimanded EU ambassadors for their stances on Israel.

“To single out Israel, to twist our arms economically in the hopes that we’ll commit suicide because, financially, we’ll get hit if we don’t, is immoral from my perspective,” Bennett said.

According to an Army Radio report, Bennett told the envoys that they didn’t seem to understand that Israel was “the big dam in this big river of terror” and called on them to “help us, back us.”

The clip also comes after a drop in the polls for Bennett’s party, as Bayit Yehudi averaged 12.4 Knesset seats in last week’s polls, dropping to 11 in some.

Internal party polling showed that hasbara, or public diplomacy, is an important issue to Bayit Yehudi voters, and the video could be part of a tactic to pull back in those who moved or are considering moving to vote for the Likud or Yahad.

http://www.jpost.com/Israel-Elections/Bennett-to-Europe-Israel-is-on-the-front-lines-in-war-against-terror-and-radical-Islam-391333

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Anger of Suspect in Danish Killings Is Seen as Only Loosely Tied to Islam

Feb 18, 2015

COPENHAGEN — When Aydin Soei, a sociologist in Denmark, met members of an inner-city gang in 2008, one teenage tough stood out as more intelligent than his peers, and more mercurial. He showed little interest in Islam, but a deep loathing for Denmark, the country where he was born and spent his entire life.

On Sunday, that former gang member, Omar Abdel Hamid el-Hussein, died in a gun battle with Danish police officers just a few hundred yards from his boyhood home in Norrebro, an immigrant area of the Danish capital. It was the final, bloody episode of a short and angry life that included street crime and macho violence and ended with a 15-hour explosion of militancy on the streets of Copenhagen.

Thousands of Danes bearing lighted torches and flags braved icy wind to gather for a mass memorial Monday evening in the Copenhagen neighborhood where the gunman sprayed a cafe with bullets Saturday afternoon. The cafe, whose name translates as “the powder keg,” was hosting a discussion about free speech at the time of the attack.

As the authorities across Europe try to figure out how radical Islam turns a tiny but dangerous minority of young Muslims into terrorists, Mr. Soei, the sociologist, said that Mr. Hussein, 22, was an exemplar of a phenomenon of Europe’s urban neighborhoods, not a product of the teachings of the Quran or their distortions by militant preachers.

“This wasn’t an intellectual Islamist with a long beard,” Mr. Soei said. “This was a loser man from the ghetto who is very, very angry at Danish society.”

The Danish authorities have still not officially named Mr. Hussein as the gunman who killed a Danish film director on Saturday at the cafe and a Jewish security guard at a synagogue later Sunday, wounding five police officers during the onslaught. But Mr. Hussein’s former neighbors, who have had their homes searched by the police, and others who knew the dead suspect, said Mr. Hussein was indeed the man responsible for Denmark’s worst terrorist violence since the 1980s.

“I’m just as shocked as the rest of the world,” his distraught father, a Palestinian from Jordan, told the newspaper Jyllands Posten on Monday, adding that the first he knew of his son’s actions was when the authorities contacted him on Sunday.

“This is not just sad, it is a tragedy,” said Anoir Hassouni, a social worker at a kickboxing club where Mr. Hussein fought and trained for eight months before he was convicted of violent assault in 2013. He was released from prison just two weeks before the weekend attacks.

The city-funded kickboxing club, situated in a former municipal garage covered with graffiti, included many troubled youths from poor or broken homes, Mr. Hassouni said. Some drift into gangs and drugs and get involved in crime, he added, but “they don’t do anything like this.”

Denmark’s prime minister, Helle Thorning-Schmidt, said Monday that investigators so far had “no indication that he was part of a cell” and that the suspect appeared to have acted alone. The authorities say they have no evidence that the suspect ever traveled to Syria or Iraq to wage violent jihad, unlike thousands of other young European Muslims.

Continue reading the main storyContinue reading the main storyContinue reading the main story

Though perhaps not part of an established jihadist network, the young man was clearly not alone in his anger. On Monday, about a dozen young men, their faces covered by scarves, visited the spot where Mr. Hussein died and, declaring themselves his brothers, shouted “Allahu akbar,” or “God is great,” as they removed flowers laid in memorial, a ritual they said was contrary to Islamic teaching.

In place of the flowers, they left a printed leaflet on the ground that fulminated against what they described as Denmark’s double standards, noting that Mr. Hussein’s body had been left in a pool of blood when the body of the Jewish security guard killed at the synagogue had been quickly covered. This, the leaflet said, exposed promises of equality as a fraud and showed that “religion and background make a difference.”

They also taped a sign written in Danish and Arabic to the wall near the spot where Mr. Hussein died: “May God show mercy. Rest in Peace, Captain,” it said, using a gangland title of respect.

Mr. Soei, the sociologist, said he first met Mr. Hussein as part of a group of urban youths during his research for his book, “Angry Young Men.” He said Mr. Hussein was at that time one of the core members of a gang known as the “Brothas,” a group of teenagers with little education, loose contacts to Islam, mostly through their immigrant parents, and big chips on their shoulders against a society from which they felt excluded.

“He was one of the members who seemed to be the most interested and engaged,” Mr. Soei recalled. “He was willing to enter into a dialogue about questions of the gang and their behavior. He wasn’t unintelligent. When he wanted to, he could do a good job in school. But he had an enormous temper he couldn’t control.”

Until his 2013 arrest, Mr. Hussein attended a vocational high school in the town of Hvidovre, near Copenhagen, and was a “good and successful student,” the school’s principal said. Mr. Hussein spent 18 months at the school and “there was nothing to suggest” any shift toward radical Islam.

His temper, however, became so uncontrollable that it unnerved even his fellow gang members, who expelled him from the group. He then stabbed a commuter on a train, for which he was convicted and sent to prison.

Until his incarceration, religion for Mr. Hussein and fellow gang members was not so much a faith, Mr. Soei said, but “part of their identity, part of their narrative of: ‘We are outsiders because of who we are and how we look,’ but they were not praying all the time.”

The Danish newspaper Berlingske reported Monday that, while in prison, Mr. Hussein spoke openly about his wish to travel to Syria to fight with the Islamic State. His remarks, the paper said, led the prison service to put his name on a list among 39 others radicalized in Danish prisons. The prison service declined to comment.

After attacks in Paris last month on the offices of the satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo and a kosher grocery store, the French authorities have identified prison as a catalyst for radicalism. Two of the three gunmen responsible for those attacks spent time in French prisons, coming into contact with jihadist militants who turned the men’s previously tepid faith in Islam into radical zealotry.

As part of the investigation into the killings in Copenhagen, police officers on Sunday raided an Internet cafe, Power Play Reborn, in the Norrebro district and detained four young men, two of whom are still in detention.

The manager of the cafe, who gave only his first name, Adeel, said the detained men “were just local punks” who spent much of their time “playing shoot’em-up games” on the Internet.

He said he did not know Mr. Hussein, who, according to Danish media reports, visited the Internet cafe on Saturday after the first deadly shooting in the north of the city.

Local gang members, he added, “don’t care about religion. They just want to make money and chill out.”

Correction: February 17, 2015

An earlier version of this article misspelled the name of the town in Denmark where Omar Abdel Hamid el-Hussein attended a vocational school. It is Hvidovre, not Hvidore.

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/02/17/world/europe/copenhagen-denmark-attacks.html

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UK rejects military intervention against IS in Libya 'at the moment'

18 February 2015

The UK has ruled out any military action against the extremist Islamic State group in Libya “at the moment”.

This was the first major international reaction to the Egyptian call for a UN resolution on military intervention in Libya.

Egypt's President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi called for international military action in Libya, arguing that what is happening in Libya is a threat to world peace and security.

The UK position shows that there is little possibility that Egypt will be able to gain enough support for their endeavour at the UN for military action in Libya.

In August 2013, the UK parliament rejected the government request for permission to take military action against the Syrian regime of President Bashar Al-Assad. 

"Our focus is on the political solution and there are no discussions beyond that at the moment in government," a spokeswoman for the UK government told Ahram Online.

She echoed previous remarks by the prime minister's office that London is not considering any military action in Libya.

"We are discussing with Egypt at the moment exactly what action they are taking," the PMO's spokeswoman said on Monday, after Egypt’s airstrikes were launched in retaliation to the beheading of 21 Egyptian Copts by the Islamic State group.

The UK, a permanent member of United Nations Security Council, believes the killings are a “cruel and barbaric” action which "underlines in Libya the importance of finding a political solution."

The UK Prime Minister David Cameron has appointed a special envoy for Libya with the aim “to work with UN partners and representatives in Libya to work on a way forward.”

"It is absolutely clear that what we need to be doing around the world is working with other countries to tackle this growing threat from Islamist extremists and their poisonous ideology wherever we find it," Cameron' s spokeswoman said.

Philip Hammond, the UK Foreign Minister, has said Acts of terrorism should not be allowed to undermine Libya’s political transition.

“We remain fully supportive of the UN’s efforts to build a national unity government for Libya and to bring a political solution to the ongoing security crisis,’ he added.

http://english.ahram.org.eg/NewsContent/2/8/123270/World/Region/UK-rejects-military-intervention-against-IS-in-Lib.aspx

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Paris jihadists believed to have met night before attacks

18 February 2015

French investigators believe they have established that the jihadists who struck Paris last month were in direct contact before the attacks, a security source said on Tuesday.

Phone records appear to show that Cherif Kouachi and Amedy Coulibaly met the night before they started three days of violence in and around Paris on January 7.

They are thought to have met in Gennevilliers, the town near Paris where Kouachi lived, a security source told AFP, confirming a report in Le Monde newspaper.

Around one hour before Cherif Kouachi attacked Charlie Hebdo magazine with his brother Said, a text message was sent from near his home to one of the 13 phone numbers belonging to Coulibaly, the security source said.

Coulibaly shot a policewoman the next day and went on to kill four people after taking hostages at a Jewish supermarket on January 9.

All three attackers were killed by police.

Coulibaly claimed in a posthumous video that he had coordinated his attacks with the Kouachi brothers, but it has not been clear to what extent they directly planned together.

http://english.ahram.org.eg/NewsContent/2/8/123293/World/Region/Paris-jihadists-believed-to-have-met-night-before-.aspx

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Kyrgyzstan To Prosecute Syria Returnees As Mercenaries

Feb. 18, 2015

Kyrgyzstan is set to prosecute as mercenaries those returning from fighting in Syria with the Islamic State (IS) group, the head of the investigative department in Kyrgyzstan's Interior Ministry has said.

Rafik Mambetaliev said on February 16 that Kyrgyzstan's security authorities had identified several individuals who had returned home after being recruited in Kyrgyzstan to fight in Syria.

Kyrgyzstan's Criminal Code includes an article dealing with mercenaries, which prohibits participation in hostilities in a foreign state and imposes a penalty of up to seven years in prison for those found guilty of fighting abroad. The law also bans the recruitment, training, financing, or other material provision of mercenaries or their use in armed conflict or hostilities, and imposes a penalty of up to eight years for doing so. Returnees from Syria will be prosecuted under this article, Mambetaliev said.

Mambetaliev also said that militants were using the Internet as a tool to recruit young Kyrgyz nationals to fight in Syria. "Even the most remote areas have the Internet. Young people are recruited mainly through web-based resources," he explained. "They watch videos that contain calls to the 'Muslims' to fight on behalf of these groups, and they are then sent to Syria and Pakistan."

Militants are also actively targeting girls and young women for recruitment, Mambetaliev warned. "The very young are being sent, and also women with children, with babes in arms. They go to the conflict zone, where they become the wives of warlords," he said.

Kyrgyzstan's Interior Ministry says that there are almost 300 Kyrgyz nationals fighting with the IS group in Syria. Of those, the ministry estimates that around 40 are women.

Young women are also increasingly involved in recruiting individuals to fight in Syria, the ministry says.

Full report at:

http://www.rferl.org/content/kyrgyzstan-to-prosecute-syria-returnees-as-mercenaries/26854310.html

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Muslim lawyer says lack of minorities in legal profession

Feb. 18, 2015

A lawyer who received the ‘Services to Law’ prize at the British Muslim Awards has said there is a “massive under-representation” of ethnic minority groups in the legal profession.

Bilkis Mahmood, Senior Partner at Blackstone Law, qualified in 2003. But it was a difficult beginning for Ms Mahmood who, although had ambitions of becoming a lawyer at the age of 16, after completing her A-levels decided to get married.

After having three children, Ms Mahmood went back to her studies to fulfil her and her father’s ambition of seeing her become a lawyer.

Ms Mahmood told The Yorkshire Post that there was still a “massive under-representation” of ethnic minority groups, in the legal profession.

She added: “In the legal profession there’s a lack of opportunity and recognition. My own personal view is although the law society is encouraging law firms to have a diversity policy, I don’t feel it’s efficient. There is still a bottleneck and very few people are actually appointed, there is a firm belief that law is a traditionally male, white orientated profession.

Full report at:

http://www.yorkshirepost.co.uk/business/business-news/muslim-lawyer-says-lack-of-minorities-in-legal-profession-1-7110987

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Hollande says anti-Semitism and anti-Muslim acts threaten France

18 February 2015

French President Francois Hollande says the rise of acts against Jews and Muslims threaten the country’s very foundations.

Hollande spoke Tuesday in Sarre-Union, where 250 Jewish graves were desecrated over the weekend. Hollande noted anti-Semitism and acts against Muslims are both on the rise in France, notably after the attacks last month in Paris that left 20 people dead, including the three gunmen.

The president called on French Jews to remain in France and not follow the Israeli prime minister’s call for a mass immigration of European Jews.

Five local teenagers have been detained in the cemetery desecration in eastern France. Hollande said anti-Semitic acts doubled in 2014 compared with 2013, and acts against Muslims in just the month after the attacks totaled the same for the entire previous year.

http://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/world/2015/02/17/Hollande-says-anti-Semitism-and-anti-Muslim-acts-threaten-France.html

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How ISIS ‘makes millions’ selling antiquities

18 February 2015

Militants from the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) are reportedly increasing their wealth by selling ancient artefacts to rich Westerners, the BBC reported Tuesday.

The extremist group, which is holding large parts of Syria and Iraq, acquires pieces that are up to 10,000-years-old from ancient building and monuments.

ISIS can make up to $1 million per statue or mosaic, the BBC reported.

Some of the pieces, which have less historic values, end up in tourist shops and markets in neighboring Lebanon and Turkey.

The trade of antiquities is one of the main sources of money for the group which recently appeared parading their fleet of brand new police cars after beheading 21 Egyptians.

Last week, the U.N. Security Council announced it was banning all trade in artefacts from Syria.

Others sources of income for the group are oil and alleged ransoms paid by the families or governments of kidnapped individuals.

http://english.alarabiya.net/en/life-style/art-and-culture/2015/02/18/ISIS-smuggle-artefacts-to-finance-terrorism-.html

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World powers rule out military intervention in Libya, call for unity govt

18 February 2015

World powers have said they are prepared to fully support a unity government in Libya, shunning calls from Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi who had urged the UN Security Council to adopt a resolution allowing for an international military intervention in Libya

"The governments of France, Italy, Germany, Spain, the United Kingdom and the United States strongly condemn all acts of terrorism in Libya. The heinous murder of twenty-one Egyptian citizens in Libya by ISIL-affiliated terrorists once again underscores the urgent need for a political resolution to the conflict in Libya, the continuation of which only benefits terrorist groups, including ISIL," read a joint statement.

"Terrorism affects all Libyans, and no one faction can confront alone the challenges facing Libya. The United Nations-led process to establish a national unity government provides the best hope for Libyans to address the terrorist threat and to confront the violence and instability that impedes Libya’s political transition and development. The international community is prepared to fully support a unity government in addressing Libya’s current challenges."

El-Sisi on Monday launched air strikes in coordination with Libya's internationally recognised government against IS camps and weapons stores in the Libyan city of Derna hours after the Sunni extremists released a gruesome video showing masked jihadists beheading 21 Egyptian Christians on a Libyan beach.

Full report at:

http://english.ahram.org.eg/NewsContent/1/64/123327/Egypt/Politics-/World-powers-rule-out-military-intervention-in-Lib.aspx

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North America

 

FBI opens civil rights inquiry into vandalism at Muslim school

17 February 2015

The FBI has opened a civil rights investigation into anti-Muslim graffiti discovered on the Islamic School of Rhode Island over the weekend.

School officials say the entrance was tagged with orange graffiti and the Boston division of the FBI has begun looking into the vandalism. One of the scrawls reads “now this is a hate crime”. Others make racial and religious slurs.

In a statement posted to the school’s Facebook page, Hilmy Bakri, the president of the board of trustees, said that the graffiti was “the work of small minded ignorant person. Someone who does not care about the safety of children or the sanctity of a school.”

“It’s unfortunate that we have this type of evil done by such people; and who ever and where ever they are I hope that they become rightly guided and feel remorse for their action,” Bakri continued.

Principal Abdelnasser Hussein told local TV station WPRI that a man had been seen on surveillance tapes. “This is a hate crime, so he doesn’t hide anything. He came forward with a message, and he’s releasing it very frankly,” he said.

Nihad Awad, the national executive director of the Council on American-Islamic relations, said that the US was currently witnessing “an escalated cycle of hate-crimes, violence and vandalism against American Muslims”.

This was due, Awad said, to growing anti-Muslim sentiment caused by “a concerted effort by right-wing media and politicians fanning the flames, and even provoking people to take violence”.

Full report at:

http://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2015/feb/17/fbi-investigates-vandalism-muslim-school-rhode-island

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‘US summit not to blame Islam for terrorism’

Anwar Iqbal

February 18, 2015

WASHINGTON: A three-day summit, which begins in the US capital on Wednesday, will not link terrorism with Islam, says the White House.

“We are very, very clear that we do not believe that they (the terrorists) are representing Islam. There is absolutely no justification for these attacks in any religion,” a senior Obama administration official told journalists in Washington.

“You can call them what you want. We’re calling them terrorists,” said the official when a journalist said that extremists responsible for recent terrorist attacks were mostly Muslims.

Also read: Extremism not unique to Islam, says Obama

Pakistan and India are among more than 60 countries attending the summit, which opens at the White House on Wednesday. US President Barack Obama, Vice President Joe Biden, Secretary of State John Kerry and UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon are expected to address the summit.

Full report at:

http://www.dawn.com/news/1164328/us-summit-not-to-blame-islam-for-terrorism

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Hindu temple vandalized in US

February 18, 2015

Washington - A Hindu temple has been vandalised with hate speech in the US state of Washington, sending shock waves through the community in the area and prompting authorities to launch an investigation, Hindustan Times reported Tuesday.

The incident happened when unidentified miscreants sprayed swastika and painted “Get Out” on one of the walls of the temple in the Seattle Metropolitan area. It is one of the largest Hindu temples in the entire North West.

The Snohomish County Sheriff’s Department is investigating this case as malicious harassment. On Monday top county officials visited the temple.

“This kind of thing should not happen in the US. Who are you telling to get out? This is a nation of immigrants,” Nitya Niranjan, chairman of board of trustee of the Hindu Temple and Cultural Centre, Bothell, Washington said. On Tuesday, the temple is celebrating Mahashivratri.

Full report at:

http://nation.com.pk/international/18-Feb-2015/hindu-temple-vandalised-in-us

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Muslim school vandalized with anti-Islamic graffiti in Rhode Island

Feb. 18, 2015

Federal authorities in the United States being asked to investigate an incident in Rhode Island over the weekend in which a Muslim school was vandalized with anti-Islamic graffiti.

“Now this is a hate crime” was among the slogans that were spray-painted on the back and front entrances of the nonprofit Islamic School of Rhode Island in the town of West Warwick late Saturday.

The Council on American-Islamic Relations, CAIR, is now calling on authorities to investigate the incident after what the group calls a “recent spike in anti-Muslim hate rhetoric and bias-motivated attacks on American Muslims and their institutions.”

"This apparently bias-motivated incident should be investigated as a hate crime, with the strongest possible charges brought against the perpetrators once they are apprehended," CAIR National Communications Director Ibrahim Hooper said in a statement on Sunday.

On Facebook, the Islamic School of Rhode Island said the defacement “is not something that we take lightly,” and that evidence has been supplied to local law enforcement as authorities investigate.

Full report at:

http://rt.com/usa/232839-rhode-island-islam-school/

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America’s most prominent Muslim says The Atlantic is doing PR for ISIS

17 FEB 2015

In September, Nihad Awad, the executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), held a press conference in Washington and, flanked by other Muslim figures, announced that 120 Muslim scholars had produced an 18-page open letter, written in Arabic, to ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.

An English translation of the document is a tough slog. As Awad said at the time, “This letter is not meant for a liberal audience.” He even admitted that mainstream Muslims might find it difficult to read.

The letter is an extended exegesis, heavily salted with quotes from the Koran and the Hadith, arguing point by point about the nature of jihad, the slaughtering of innocents, the taking of slaves, and other not-so-savory elements of the distant past — and in the past they should remain, the text argues. It makes the case not only that ISIS was wrong to commit horrific acts of violence in modern times, but that it was interpreting Islamic law incorrectly to justify such acts.

Full report at:

http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2015/02/americas-most-prominent-muslim-says-the-atlantic-is-doing-pr-for-isis/

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Texas man arrested for threatening to bomb Islamic center and Middle Eastern restaurant

17 FEB 2015

A man in his 50s was arrested for making threats on Tuesday to bomb an Islamic center in Austin and a restaurant specializing in Middle Eastern food, Austin police said.

No bombs were discovered at the locations in different parts of the city and police are considering whether to bring terrorism charges against the man, who was not immediately identified.

“Our bomb squad responded and cleared both sites,” said Jennifer Herber, a spokeswoman for the Austin police, adding the man may be mentally disturbed

The Austin threat came about a week after a gunman shot dead three young Muslims near the University of North Carolina, riling Muslim activists who have demanded that U.S. state and federal authorities investigate the detained suspect for possible hate crimes.

On Monday in Houston, a homeless man was arrested and charged with setting a fire that destroyed a building at an Islamic institute in the city last week. No one was harmed in the incident.

(Reporting by Jon Herskovitz; Editing by Bill Trott)

http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2015/02/texas-man-arrested-for-threatening-to-bomb-islamic-center-and-middle-eastern-restaurant/

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White House resists calls to focus on Islamist terrorism at three-day extremism summit

17 February 2015

White House officials are downplaying calls to focus on Islamist terrorism in a three-day summit aimed at preventing violent extremism, insisting that recent attacks should not lead to stereotyping of certain communities as higher risk.

The international conference, which begins on Tuesday in Washington and will seek ways of deterring home-grown terrorism, has been criticised by Republicans for failing to single out Islamist extremism for particular scrutiny despite having been convened by Barack Obama in the wake of the terrorist attacks in Paris and coming amid concern over radicalisation by the Islamic State, or Isis, and just days after a terrorist attack in Denmark.

But the administration is adamant that delegates should also discuss lessons from other conflicts, such as the fight against Farc in Colombia and attacks by Christians on Sikh or Jewish targets, and rejects criticism it is being overly politically correct in taking such a broad approach.

Full report at:

http://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2015/feb/17/white-house-islamic-terror-extremism-summit

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We must stamp out hatred wherever we see it

Shuja Shafi

16 February 2015

I have been a hospital doctor for almost 40 years, mostly in the NHS, and have seen the impact of bereavement on families at close quarters. Grief transcends the boundaries of race and creed and it is with great sadness that we see how mindless violence has filled the last week.

It began with the murder of three young Americans in Chapel Hill in North Carolina, apparently because of their Muslim faith, and ended on Saturday night with shootings at a cafe and synagogue in Copenhagen. Muslims killed in Pakistan and Egyptian Christians in Libya only add to the rising death toll. These attacks reflect the worst in our society and I worry that the actions of a few who are intent on killing for no obvious reason other than hatred for the victims’ background, beliefs or points of view is creating fear that divides communities.

The Muslim Council of Britain, of which I am secretary general, has consistently condemned violence, regardless of the identity of the perpetrator or victim. Our faith, like all faiths, is clear that no amount of dislike for a person’s belief ever justifies the taking of a life. Such acts of terror should face the full force of the law. But simply bringing the criminals to justice is not enough in itself.

Full report at:

http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/feb/16/stamp-out-hatred-killings-copenhagen-chapel-hill

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Grand jury indicts US man in killings of Muslims

February 18, 2015

NORTH CAROLINA - A grand jury has indicted a North Carolina man for the shooting deaths of a newlywed Muslim couple and the wife’s sister last week, a court official said.

Craig Hicks, 46,  was charged by a grand jury with three counts of first-degree murder and one of discharging a firearm into an occupied dwelling, said an assistant clerk of the Durham County Superior Court.

Deah Barakat, 23, a University of North Carolina dental student; his wife, Yusor Abu-Salha, 21; and her sister, Razan Abu-Salha, 19, a student at North Carolina State University, were gunned down last Tuesday in a condominium about 3km from the University campus.

Investigators have said initial findings indicate a dispute over parking prompted the shooting, but they are looking into whether Hicks was motivated by hatred toward the victims because they were Muslim.

Full report at:

http://nation.com.pk/international/18-Feb-2015/grand-jury-indicts-us-man-in-killings-of-muslims

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U.S. army to provide equipment, intelligence to fight Boko Haram

Reuters

Feb. 18, 2015

N'DJAMENA (Reuters) - The U.S. military will share communications equipment and intelligence with African allies to assist them in the fight against Nigerian Islamist group Boko Haram, the commander of U.S. Special Forces operations in Africa said.

West African military commanders have long complained that cross-border operations against Islamist groups, from al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) in Mali to Boko Haram in Nigeria, have been obstructed by lack of compatible communications equipment, making it hard to swap information and coordinate.

Major General James Linder said that, as part of the annual U.S.-sponsored "Flintlock" counter-terrorism exercises this year in Chad, the United States would introduce technology allowing African partners to communicate between cellphones, radios and computers.

The RIOS system would allow soldiers in the field to transmit photos from a remote location in the Sahel immediately to a central command room and can also precisely pin-point the coordinates of personnel, a U.S. military official said.

Boko Haram killed an estimated 10,000 people last year in its campaign to carve an Islamist emirate from northern Nigeria.

Full report at:

http://news.yahoo.com/u-army-equipment-intelligence-fight-boko-haram-002644491.html

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Struggling in Europe, Muslims Look to US for Better Model

Feb. 18, 2015

Some activists trying to counter jihadist recruiters across Europe worry that they are slowly losing the battle for the continent’s Muslim youth. One reason, they say, is that neither they nor the Muslim community have enough to offer.

“This youth, they need something every day,” said Yousef Bartho Assidiq, an activist with the Project on Radicalization and Extremism at Norway’s MINOTENK think tank.

Speaking to VOA via Skype, he said mosques in particular are having a difficult time providing appealing youth programming.

“In Norway, it’s just a place of prayer and religious affirmation,” Assidiq said.  “It’s not a daily center or anything where you can hang out."

It’s a problem that offers an opportunity to extremist groups seeking fresh recruits.

“I usually describe these leaders of these groups as the world’s best social workers because they will know how it is to be a troubled youth,” Assidiq said.  "They know all the struggles."

It’s a struggle that experts say is not limited to Norway. Muslim communities in other European countries are facing similar challenges.

By some measures, they are losing.

A recent study by the International Center for the Study of Radicalization at King’s College in London found that of the more than 20,000 foreign fighters in Iraq and Syria, almost 4,000 are from Western Europe.

Full report at:

http://www.voanews.com/content/stuggling-europe-muslims-better-model-united-states/2647966.html

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Arab World

 

IS burns to death 45 in Iraq

February 18, 2015

Baghdad - Islamic State (IS) militants have burned to death 45 people in the western Iraqi town of al-Baghdadi, BBC quoted the local police chief on Tuesday.

Exactly who these people were and why they were killed is not clear, but Col Qasim al-Obeidi said he believed some were members of the security forces. IS fighters captured much of the town, near Ain al-Asad air base, last week.

Col Obeidi said a compound that houses the families of security personnel and local officials was now under attack. He pleaded for help from the government and the international community. The fighting and poor communications in the area make it difficult to confirm such reports. Earlier this month, IS published a video showing militants burning alive a Jordanian air force pilot, whose plane crashed in Syria in December.

Al-Baghdadi had been besieged for months by Islamic State fighters before its fall on Thursday. It had been one of the few towns to still be controlled by the Iraqi government in Anbar province, where IS and allied Arab tribesmen launched an offensive in January 2014.

Pentagon spokesman Rear Adm John Kirby told reporters on Friday that al-Baghdadi’s capture needed to be put in perspective. He said it was the first time in the last couple of months that the militant group had taken new ground. However, Ain al-Asad air base, where about 320 US Marines are training members of the Iraqi army’s 7th Division, is only 8km (5 miles) away.

Full report at:

http://nation.com.pk/international/18-Feb-2015/is-burns-to-death-45-in-iraq

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Syrian Army Enters Zahraa Town after Breaking Terrorist Siege, Kills 65 Takfiris

18 February 2015

The Syrian army managed to enter the town of al-Zahraa in Aleppo countryside after infiltrating the terrorists' defenses.

The Syrian army has also deployed its units near the town of Nubbul which lies in al-Zahraa's vicinity, Al-Manar reported.

The Syrian army on Tuesday further controlled entirely the village of Hredtin, advancing in Bashkwe and Retyan in Aleppo Northern countryside.

The Syrian army advances in the area amid fierce clashes and artillery shelling.

The UK-based opposing Syrian Observatory stressed that over 65 terrorists were killed on Tuesday in Aleppo by the Syrian army, adding that only 20 of them were Syrians.

The observatory noted that the number of the killed terrorists would increase as a lot of the wounded were severely injured.

Units of the Syrian army and armed forces crushed Tuesday a number of terrorist organizations’ dens and hideouts, including ISIL, killing many of them.

http://english.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13931129000344

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ISIS fighters are desperately trying to obtain Viagra, spending money on kinky underwear for their 'wives'

Feb. 18, 2015

Militants fighting for the Islamic State in Syria are seeking medical attention to improve their sexual prowess and subjecting their wives to 'brutal, abnormal' sex acts, according to local doctors.

In an interview with activist group Raqqa is Being Slaughtered Silently, who are based in the terror group's de facto capital, doctors anonymously revealed details of the jihadis' warped sex drives.

Despite their claim to be ultra-conservative Islamic extremists, many of the militants are spending part of their monthly salary on kinky underwear for their wives and for the hundreds of young women and children they kidnapped and now keep or sell as sex slaves.

Details of the Sunni extremists' twisted sexual appetites emerged in a report by Raqqa is Being Slaughtered Silently into the terror group's brutally oppressive treatment of women.

'A large section of ISIS members suffer from sexual anomalies and brutal instinctive desire for sex,' the report reads.

It goes on to list the key reasons young women and girls particularly fear the militants' vehement sexual advances, stating that many females are too terrified to leave their homes due to the fighters' threats to subject them to 'sexual practices of a brutal and abnormal manner'.

Other so-called 'perversions' detailed in the report include ISIS fighters 'buying strange underwear for their women, desperately searching for 'blue pills in order to increase their strength to have more sex', and medical reports detailing injuries sustained by women due to the fighters' violent sex acts.

The activists also claim that the fighters take numerous wives to satisfy their demand for sex, and spend large amounts of time searching for 'sabaya' - kidnapped women and children, some of them as young as nine, who have been sold into sex slavery.

The near constant threat of rape and sexual assault has forced many of the women in Raqqa to fear walking the streets. 'The houses became their current tombs, because of fear from falling into the arms of the soldiers of the Caliph,' the report states.

Raqqa is Being Slaughtered Silently's report in to the militants' treatment of women focuses on the terrorists forcing local females into marriage.

It claims that the group's first act upon completely seizing control of Raqqa last year was to 'crack down on women' and to launch a 'vigorous search by ISIS fighters for wives'.

The reasons for the local marriages are three fold, the report says - firstly to tie the mostly foreign terrorists to local families, and secondly to bind the militants to the local area - giving them familial responsibilities that mean they are unlikely to desert or defect from the Islamic State.

The report says the militants have broken local rural customs, which traditionally saw young men and women marrying cousins or other relatives in order retain their family bonds.

With ISIS fighters demanding the local women marry them instead, the local women are said to have been left utterly miserable, and in some cases suicidal.

The militants are understood to pay a dowry of between £2,000 and £5,000 for each marriage, depending on whether the marriage is to a woman from the city or the surrounding countryside.

As part of their so-called 'crack down' on women after seizing control of Raqqa, ISIS fighters demanded all women completely cover their body in public - including their hands; insisted women only venture outdoors when accompanied by a close relative, and prevented any woman older than 50 leaving the house, except in medical emergencies.

They also closed any centres of education catering to women, demanded women are surrounded by close female relatives if they are working, and relentlessly harassed those seen outdoors alone.

To force local families to effectively 'sell' their daughters to a jihadi husband, the militants took advantage of the poverty sweeping Raqqa to offer high dowries and welfare payments.

They also offered male relatives of the forced brides prominent jobs both within the terror group and the local area, in order to win the albeit reluctant support of the local citizens.

According to Raqqa is Being Slaughtered Silently, ISIS even spread rumours that unmarried women were being kidnapped and never seen again - a rumour that encouraged young females into getting married out of fear for their safety if they chose to remain single.

The activists say that ISIS' barbaric treatment of the local female population has seen women risking their lives by trying desperately to escape their marriages. If they are later discovered, as many of them are, the women are either stoned to death as apostates or adulterers.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2956882/ISIS-fighters-desperately-trying-obtain-VIAGRA-spending-money-kinky-underwear-wives-subjecting-brutal-abnormal-sex-acts-according-doctors-Syria.html#ixzz3S8IqYCxp

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Syrian Army Detonates Bridge in Jobar, Kills 10 Terrorists

18 February 2015

The Syrian army detonated a bridge in Jobar neighborhood in Damascus countryside, and left 10 terrorists killed.

The bridge, Dar al-Moalemin, was considered to be pivotal as it represented a main way for the terrorists to attack the capital, al-Manar reported.

The Syrian army continued its operations against the terrorist groups across the country, inflicting heavy losses upon them.

http://english.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13931128000321

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At least 35 More Egyptians Kidnapped by ISIS-Affliate Ansar al-Sharia

18 February 2015

The Islamic State militants have reportedly abducted at least 35 Egyptian nationals, in response to Egypt's bombing of ISIS targets.

Local media reports claim that the 35 Egyptians kidnapped by the ISIS-Libya affiliate Ansar al Sharia are mainly farm workers.

The Libya Herald reported that fresh kidnappings took place after Egyptian jets bombed ISIS targets in their Libyan base of Derna in response to the ISIS video showing the beheading of 21 Egyptian Coptic Christians.

The beheading of the Egyptian Christians and the quick retaliatory response is expected to further destabilise the power struggle in the country. Libya, where two governments are trying to wrest control from each other -- one in Tripoli, the country's capital and another in Tobruk near Libya's border with Egypt -- has gotten further embroiled in an unending power struggle.

Between all this, the militia groups such as Ansar al Sharia with ties to Al Qaeda and the Islamic State have flourished unattended.

The Egyptian warplanes reportedly bombed ISIS training bases south of the city and the home of Bashar al Drissi, one of the Islamic State's leaders in Libya.

Prior to the beheading of the 21 Coptic Christians, ISIS in a statement has claimed that it had kidnapped the Coptic crusaders to avenge the 2010 killing of two Muslim women, who had converted to Islam from Christianity.

http://www.ibtimes.co.in/least-35-more-egyptians-kidnapped-by-isis-affliate-ansar-al-sharia-623721

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Iraqi Kurds repel ISIL militant attack near Arbil

Feb 18, 2015

Iraq’s Kurdish Peshmerga forces have repelled an attack by Takfiri ISIL militants southwest of the northern city of Arbil following hours of heavy fighting.

Kurdish commanders said Wednesday that their forces managed to force the militants back following an attack launched by the terrorists late last night.

The commanders added that Kurdish forces suffered a number of casualties, while many ISIL terrorists were also killed, particularly when airstrikes were conducted after the militants were forced back from the area.

The Takfiri group launched the attack from a number of directions late Tuesday near the towns of Gwer and Makhmour, located some 45 kilometers (28 miles) southwest of Arbil.

Iraqi Kurdish forces have been beefing up their operations near the ISIL-held city of the Mosul.

Earlier this month, the Peshmerga forces managed to drive out the terrorists from areas north of the flashpoint Iraqi city.

Full report at:

http://www.presstv.in/Detail/2015/02/18/398108/Iraqi-Kurds-repel-ISIL-attack-near-Arbil

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Two Iraqi militants killed while planting bomb

Feb 18, 2015

At least two militants have been killed in a bomb blast in Iraq’s restive province of Salahuddin.

According to an Iraqi security source, who spoke on condition of anonymity, the incident took place on Tuesday when the militants were planting a bomb in an area in the eastern part of Tikrit.

“Today, two militants attempted to plant an explosive on the main road at al-Askari neighborhood in central Tooz district, located 90 km eastern Tikrit,” the source said, adding, “The bomb went off resulting in their death immediately.”

Takfiri militants operating in Iraq use different inhumane methods, including planting bombs, to target Iraqi forces and civilians.

Full report at:

http://www.presstv.in/Detail/2015/02/18/398097/2-Iraqi-militants-killed-in-bomb-blast

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Regional turmoil figures high in Saudi-Qatar talks

18 February 2015

Regional turmoil, including the deteriorating security situation in Yemen, was the focus of talks held Tuesday between Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman and Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani.

“The two leaders reviewed their strong brotherly ties and discussed means of enhancing bilateral relations in various fields, and major regional and international developments,” said SPA. The two also talked about “Qatar’s relations with Egypt,” said another report.

“The talks between King Salman and Sheikh Tamim herald a new era of relations between the two Gulf neighbors,” said Mosaed Al-Arjoush, a professor of political science. Al-Thani visited Saudi Arabia last month to attend the funeral of King Abdullah.

King Salman later hosted a lunch at his palace in honor of the Qatari emir and his delegation. Top Saudi and Qatari officials including members of the royal family attended the talks and the lunch.

Full report at:

http://www.arabnews.com/featured/news/706171

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Over 1500 Iraqi families return home in Diyala

Feb 18, 2015

More than 1500 displaced Iraqi families have returned to their homes in a district of Diyala Province after the area was liberated and cleared of Takfiri militants by the Iraqi army.

“More than 1500 displaced families have returned to the secured areas in the district during the past week,”  said Zaid Ibrahim, the deputy mayor of al-Muqdadiyah in Diyala on Tuesday.

He further noted that the families returned to five villages, located in the northern part of the city.

“The high degree of coordination with the security forces has increased the rates of return to the area,” Ibrahim added.

The International Organization of Migration (IOM) said in January that 2,176,764 Iraqi people have been displaced internally since January 2014.

The Iraqi people were displaced after their cities were captured by the ISIL militants.

The ISIL started its campaign of terror in Iraq in early June 2014.

The terrorists have been carrying out horrific acts of violence, including public decapitations, against all Iraqi communities such as Shias, Sunnis, Kurds, and Christians.

Iraqi soldiers, police units, Kurdish forces, Shia volunteers and Sunni tribesmen have managed to drive the terrorists out of some areas in Iraq.

http://www.presstv.in/Detail/2015/02/18/398110/Over-1500-Iraq-families-return-to-Diyala

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Morsi, 198 BH leaders to face military tribunal

February 18, 2015

CAIRO - Former Egyptian president Mohamed Morsi and 198 Islamist leaders and supporters will stand trial in a military court over deadly protests that followed his overthrow, a prosecution source said Tuesday.

Morsi, who was toppled by the army in July 2013, already faces four trials but it will be the first before a military judge.

Military tribunals have been criticised for their harsh and swift verdicts.

The leader of Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood, Mohamed Badie, is also among the defendants in the trial, which will start on February 23, the official MENA news agency reported.

The new charge against Morsi of incitement to murder stems from protests that broke out in the canal city of Suez on August 14, 2013.

Full report at:

http://nation.com.pk/international/18-Feb-2015/morsi-198-bh-leaders-to-face-military-tribunal

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Military chiefs in KSA for anti-IS talks

February 18, 2015

RIYADH - Military chiefs from around the world will gather in the Saudi capital on Wednesday to assess the battle against Islamic State extremists, diplomatic sources said.

The two-day meeting, a follow-up to earlier talks, will gather “all the countries that are involved” in the United States-led fight against IS, including Gulf nations, one of the sources said.

“I think it’ll be sort of a general appraisal of where we’re at, what needs to be done,” added the source, who asked for anonymity. Another diplomatic source said the meeting is “more an exchange of information” and a chance for co-ordination, rather than a forum for major decisions.

The talks among defence chiefs and their deputies coincide with the rise of IS in Libya, which has heightened concerns in the region after the group seized parts of Iraq and Syria last year. Arab states have intensified their bombing of IS targets since the militants in early February claimed to have burned alive the Jordanian fighter pilot Maaz al-Kassasbeh, whose plane went down over Syria last year.

Full report at:

http://nation.com.pk/international/18-Feb-2015/military-chiefs-in-ksa-for-anti-is-talks

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Egypt mulls blocking ‘terror-linked’ websites: report

18 February 2015

Egypt’s Prime Minister Ibrahim Mahlab is setting up a committee to look into ways of blocking terror-related websites, Al Ahram Online reported, quoting  a Cabinet spokesperson as saying on Tuesday.

Hossam Kawish told the daily that recommendations by the committee would assist courts to issue verdicts to remove any online content linked to “terrorism.”

Kawish said the committee, which will be headed by Justice Minister Mahfouz Saber, would be meeting in the coming days. The committee will also comprise of representatives from the interior, foreign affairs, military production and communications ministries.

It is not clear what criteria the committee will follow to determine whether a website’s content relates to "terrorism,” Kawish said.

Earlier this month, Egypt urged the international community to “monitor extremist websites that incite violence and terrorism, and to halt broadcasting channels linked to the Muslim Brotherhood."

The formation of the committee comes a day after Egypt retaliated against the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) in Libya after the militant group executed 21 members of Egypt’s Coptic community.

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi on Tuesday urged the U.N. Security Council to adopt a resolution allowing for an international military intervention in troubled Libya.

http://english.alarabiya.net/en/media/digital/2015/02/18/Egypt-mulls-blocking-terror-linked-websites-report.html

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Syria willing to suspend Aleppo air strikes for six weeks: UN

18 February 2015

The Syrian government is willing to suspend its aerial bombardment and artillery shelling of the northern city of Aleppo so that a local ceasefire can be tested, the United Nations mediator on Syria said on Tuesday.

Aleppo is at the forefront of clashes between pro-government forces and a range of insurgents, including Islamist brigades, al Qaeda's hardline Syria wing, Nusra Front, and Western-backed units.

The Syrian army, backed by allied militia, has captured several villages near Aleppo in battles aimed at encircling the northern city and cutting off insurgent supply lines, a monitoring group said.

UN mediator Staffan de Mistura said opposition forces would be asked to suspend mortar and rocket fire.

"The government of Syria has indicated to me its willingness to halt all aerial bombing ... and artillery shelling for a period of six weeks all over the city of Aleppo from a date which we will be announcing from Damascus," de Mistura told reporters after briefing the UN Security Council.

He said he would travel to Syria as soon as possible.

"I have no illusions because, based on past experiences, this will be a difficult mission to be achieved," de Mistura said. "Facts on the ground will prove if the freeze holds and can be replicated elsewhere."

Syria's U.N. ambassador, Bashar Ja'afari, declined to comment.

The Western-backed opposition Syrian National Coalition said it awaited a detailed proposal from de Mistura.

"The Assad regime's compliance with any such proposal will be judged by actions, not words," said the coalition's special representative to the United Nations, Najib Ghadbian. "And thus far, his actions have been only brutality and terror."

De Mistura, who has been working since October on his plan to negotiate "local freezes" that would start with Aleppo, told the Security Council he had a long meeting with President Bashar al-Assad during a recent visit to Syria, diplomats said.

"Every time there is a proposal of a ceasefire ... history has proven that there is some type of acceleration in order to take a better position," de Mistura said. "I fear that could be the case."

More than 210,000 people have died in the Syrian conflict, which will enter its fifth year next month. Peaceful protests against Assad in March 2011 degenerated into an armed insurgency following a fierce security crackdown.

http://english.ahram.org.eg/NewsContent/2/8/123324/World/Region/Syria-willing-to-suspend-Aleppo-air-strikes-for-si.aspx

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Military chiefs in Saudi for anti-Islamic State talks

18 February 2015

Military chiefs from around the world will gather in the Saudi capital on Wednesday to assess the battle against Islamic State extremists, diplomatic sources said.

The two-day meeting, a followup to earlier talks, will gather "all the countries that are involved" in the United States-led fight against IS, including Gulf nations, one of the sources said.

"I think it'll be sort of a general appraisal of where we're at, what needs to be done," added the source, who asked for anonymity.

Another diplomatic source said the meeting is "more an exchange of information" and a chance for co-ordination, rather than a forum for major decisions.

The talks among defence chiefs and their deputies coincide with the rise of IS in Libya, which has heightened concerns in the region after the group seized parts of Iraq and Syria last year.

Arab states have intensified their bombing of IS targets since the jihadists in early February claimed to have burned alive the Jordanian fighter pilot Maaz al-Kassasbeh, whose plane went down over Syria last year.

Jordan's information minister on Monday said Bahrain had deployed fighter jets in the kingdom to support the anti-IS air campaign.

Also Monday, the state news agency in the United Arab Emirates said its Jordanian-based warplanes hit oil refineries run by the jihadists.

The same day, Egypt carried out its first announced military action against IS in Libya, after the militants released a video showing the beheading of 21 Egyptian Coptic Christians.

Regional powerhouse Saudi Arabia has since September been participating in the air strikes against IS in Syria.

The Pentagon announced last month that the first of nearly 1,000 US military personnel would soon begin deploying to Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Qatar.

They will train moderate Syrian rebels to take on IS.

Among Western nations, Australia, Belgium, Britain, Canada, Denmark, France and the Netherlands have carried out air strikes against IS in Iraq, alongside the United States.

Germany said in December it would send about 100 soldiers to northern Iraq to train Kurdish peshmerga fighters battling the extremists.

http://english.ahram.org.eg/NewsContent/2/8/123283/World/Region/Military-chiefs-in-Saudi-for-antiIslamic-State-tal.aspx

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Pakistan

 

Promoting interfaith harmony: Speaker urges EU states to join hands with Muslim democracies

February 18, 2015

ISLAMABAD: Speaker Sardar Ayaz Sadiq on Tuesday urged the European Union member states to join hands with the leading democracies of the Muslim world, including Pakistan to promote interfaith harmony and respect for cultural diversity.

He was speaking to a four-member parliamentary delegation of the European Union, which called on him in his chamber at the Parliament House.

The delegation, comprising Jean Lambert, Chair, Green/European Free Alliance, from the United Kingdom, Richard Howitt, 1st Vice-Chair, Socialists and Democrat from the United Kingdom, Michael Galher, European People’s Party, from Germany and Sajjad Karim, standing rapporteur in the International Trade Committee, European Conservatives and Reformists group, from the United Kingdom, is currently on a visit to Pakistan to review the existing ties between the two sides.

Full report at:

http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/national/18-Feb-2015/promoting-interfaith-harmony-speaker-urges-eu-states-to-join-hands-with-muslim-democracies

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Using performing arts to counter extremists’ narrative in south

Shafiq Butt

February 18, 2015

LODHRAN: Those using religion to promote their extremist agenda and militancy can be countered effectively through cultural means --- Sufi poetry, folk music and dance -- which have been part of people’s life in this region for centuries in the form of folk melas (festivals).

This was the idea behind holding ‘Khwaja Fareed Aman Mela’ in four south Punjab districts -- Muzaffargar, Multan, Lodhran and Bahawalpur. The events were organised by two non-government organisations, Ummeed Jawan and Lok Sujaag, with an aim to promote a narrative among different segments of society to counter extremist views.

The organisers say the purpose of these peace festivals is to expose people, especially the youth to their cultural roots and linking their identity with centuries old traditions of religious tolerance, humanity and cultural diversity.

Full report at:

http://www.dawn.com/news/1164297/using-performing-arts-to-counter-extremists-narrative-in-south

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Taliban bomber strikes near Lahore police HQ; 5 dead

February 18, 2015

Ashraf Javed

LAHORE - At least five people including a police sub-inspector were killed and 27 others wounded in a powerful explosion near Police Headquarters Qila Gujjar Singh at Empress Road on Tuesday.

At least 27 people were also wounded in the blast which appeared to have been caused by a young suicide bomber who blasted himself ‘prematurely’. The death toll could swell as the condition of some of the injured was said to be critical.

Highly-placed sources revealed that Lahore DIG (Operations) Dr Haider Ashraf was the possible target since the bomber blew himself up on the route the officer was scheduled to pass through. The operations police chief was leaving the police headquarters after presiding over a security meeting when the blast occurred outside a crowded commercial centre. A police officer also said that, “It appears that the bomber was waiting for the operations police chief to come out.” Police are also investigating whether anyone inside the Police Lines was in touch with the terrorist.

Full report at:

http://nation.com.pk/national/18-Feb-2015/taliban-bomber-strikes-near-lahore-police-hq-5-dead

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Warsi on war against terrorism

February 17, 2015

LAHORE - Former British Cabinet member and member of House of Lords Baroness Sayeeda Warsi has said that the war against terrorism has now become our war because Pakistan’s sacrifices in this war are far greater than any other country.

She was addressing a ceremony at Punjab University’s Faisal Auditorium on Monday.

PU Vice Chancellor Prof Dr Mujahid Kamran presided over the ceremony while Warsi’s husband Iftikhar Azam and people from various walks of life were present on the occasion.

Addressing the participants, Warsi said that Pakistan had taken some decisions a few years ago because of which it was facing the consequences.

She said that Kashmir issue was resolvable through dialogue and they could provide support in this regard.

She said that Pakistan’s foreign policy should be in accordance with public interest.

She said that the rulers while taking policy decision should remember the mandate of their voters.

Full report at:

http://nation.com.pk/lahore/17-Feb-2015/warsi-on-war-against-terrorism

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Dissenting voices silenced in Pakistan's war of the web

February 18, 2015

Pakistan already goes further than most in digitally shielding its citizens from the outside world. There are only two countries where Facebook blocks more content at the request of their governments, and a YouTube ban imposed two years ago shows no sign of being lifted.

That is not enough for some. In a country becoming ever more sensitive to perceived insults to Islam it is not just clerics and hard-right religious parties who want more control over the internet, but also a group of tech-savvy activists who have built their own alternative Facebook. “We are the largest Muslim social network in history,” said Omer Zaheer Meer.

The young accountant co-founded Millat Facebook, now known as myMFB, after failing to persuade a court to ban the real thing in 2010 during a controversy about a campaign to encourage people to post pictures of the prophet Muhammad.

Although myMFB looks similar to the original it has extra features, including a live camera feed from the Grand Mosque in Mecca. There is no chance of pornography, blasphemy or any material deemed by its founders to be hurtful to religious sensibilities remaining on the site, which claims to have half a million users worldwide.

Full report at:

http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/feb/18/pakistan-war-of-the-web-youtube-facebook-twitter

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Afghanistan's enemy is Pakistan's enemy, says army chief

Mateen Haider

February 18, 2015

ISLAMABAD: While meeting Afghan President Ashraf Ghani on Tuesday, Chief Of Army Staff (COAS) General Raheel Sharif said that Afghanistan's enemy is also Pakistan's enemy, ISPR said.

He said this during his visit to Kabul on Tuesday where the army chief held important meetings with Afghan president as well as CEO Dr Abdullah Abdullah.

During his meeting with Ghani, both the leaders pledged support to each other in their fight against terrorism and vowed to restrict the use of their soil against each other, said the ISPR statement .

Both countries also agreed to continue the ongoing operation against militants in their respective countries, the statement added.

Full report at:

http://www.dawn.com/news/1164189/afghanistans-enemy-is-pakistans-enemy-says-army-chief

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Rumoured attack on college panics Pabbi

February 18, 2015

NOWSHERA: The rumour about a militant attack on a girls college caused panic in Pabbi tehsil on Tuesday prompting students to rush out of the premises and personnel of law-enforcement agencies and bomb disposal unit to show up.

The panic-struck students of the two private educational institutions next to the Government Girls Degree College Pabbi also fl ed to home after the rumour spread.

Members of the staff breached the college’s rear boundary walls to help students flee, while guards fi red gunshots in the air.

Parents rushed to the college to collect their children.

As students stormed out of the college and began running towards home on the GT Road, traffi c on the main artery came to a halt.

A student told Dawn that after hearing some gunshots, she and others present in the college thought militants had attacked the premises.

Full report at:

http://www.dawn.com/news/1164393/rumoured-attack-on-college-panics-pabbi

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India

 

Subramanian Swamy posts anti-Muslim Tweet, Twitterati reacts furiously

February 17, 2015

Senior BJP leader Subramanian Swamy always come up with allegations raking controversies. Sometimes his allegations fall true and sometimes appears beyond our imaginations. Actually, Swamy knows how to gauge media’s attention and earn popularity. Recently, he choked yet another controversy when he stated that Aamir Khan starrer ‘PK’ has been funded by Pakistan’s secret agency ISI. Raking yet another controversy, Swami tweeted an anti-Muslim comment that is extremely defamatory and unacceptable.

Soon after Swamy posted his dirty imagination of his fertile mind, twitterati began expressing their point of views about his tweet. Several people tweeted condemning Swami’s shameful act while some also congratulated him for his biased post. Tweeples also mocked Swamy for his habit of earning cheap publicity through such tweets.

Swamy must understand that because of people like him India is still a developing country. Such communal people spread their communal thoughts and divides the society. After witnessing people’s reactions on his tweet, Swamy must be careful before uttering such rubbish.

http://www.india.com/news/india/subramanian-swamy-posts-anti-muslim-tweet-twitterati-reacts-furiously-285926/

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Muslim clerics pose six questions to RSS

Feb 17, 2015

KANPUR: A delegation of Muslim clerics led by the Sunni Ulema Council's general secretary met RSS functionary Indresh and posed six questions to the Sangh including whether it has prepared a format to turn India into a Hindu 'rashtra', which he claimed left the saffron outfit irritated.

The Muslim delegation claimed that Indresh refused to answer their questions and instead said that a conference of Muslim organisations should be called where he would give the answers.

"We had a meeting with senior RSS functionary Indreshji last night during which we asked six questions, but he did not have any answer," Sunni Ulema Council general secretary Haji Mohammed Salees said on Tuesday.

He alleged that Indreshji, who is pracharak and looks after minority affairs in the organisation, got "irritated" with the questions.

"Our first question was whether RSS considers India a Hindu country. The second one was whether RSS has prepared a format to turn India into a Hindu 'rashtra'. The third one was whether this Hindu 'rashtra' will be according to Hindu religious texts or RSS has chalked out a new philosophy," he said.

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/Muslim-clerics-pose-six-questions-to-RSS/articleshow/46275863.cms

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South Asia

 

26 Afghan police killed as army begins anti-Taliban drive

February 18, 2015

KANDAHAR: At least 20 Afghan policemen were killed on Tuesday in a Taliban attack near Kabul, bringing to 26 the number of officers to die since the start of an army offensive aimed at weakening the insurgents.

The assault saw Taliban gunmen and suicide attackers strike police headquarters in Puli Alam city, south of Kabul. Provincial police chief Abdul Hakim Ishaqzai told AFP that in addition to those killed, nine were wounded.

The attack came as police and troops, in their first major assault since US-led Nato forces ended their combat mission last December, began targeting militants on Monday in restive Helmand province, a hotbed of the Taliban insurgency and a hub for drug trafficking.

The defence ministry said 76 insurgents were killed on Monday, the first day of the operation, which will also target militants in six districts in neighbouring Kandahar, Farah, and Uruzgan provinces. The offensive is designed to hurt the Taliban before the start of the so-called “fighting season”.

Full report at:

http://www.dawn.com/news/1164201/26-afghan-police-killed-as-army-begins-anti-taliban-drive

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Muhith clueless about Hindu exodus

February 18, 2015

Finance Minister AMA Muhith was surprised yesterday to know that the Hindu population in Bangladesh has come down to as low as nine percent now.

According to the Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics (BBS), Hindus made up 28 percent of the population in 1941 and it fell to 14 percent in 1974.

Muhith's astonishment at a book launching baffled the audience that as the longest-serving finance minister and an ex-top bureaucrat, he did not know the fact that the minority people have been leaving the country for long, which was evident in the BBS censuses.

“We have to think whether the minority people have been leaving the country for insecurity or not,” the minister told the launch of “Nirob Deshtag, Hundi O Ovibashan” (silent migration, hundi and immigration), at Sonargaon Hotel in the capital.

The book is a compilation of essays by former banker Mamun Rashid, published in newspapers.

Full report at:

http://www.thedailystar.net/city/muhith-clueless-about-hindu-exodus-65400

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Bangladesh orders top political figure to hang

18 Feb 2015

Bangladesh's war crimes tribunal has ordered the execution of a senior political leader after convicting him of atrocities during the country's 1971 independence war, triggering violence outside the court.

Three Molotov cocktails thrown by suspected anti-government activists exploded outside the courthouse in central Dhaka as Abdus Subhan, a vice president of one of Bangladesh's largest parties, Jamaat-Islami, was found guilty of murder, genocide and torture.

The verdict is expected to further inflame tensions in Bangladesh where an alliance of opposition parties, including Jamaat, is trying to topple the government of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.

Full report at:

http://www.aljazeera.com/news/2015/02/bangladesh-orders-top-political-figure-hang-150218070235558.html

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Another implicates Hasan in killing of 8 Netrokona Hindus

February 18, 2015

Corroborating the 16th prosecution witness, another told the International Crimes Tribunal-1 yesterday that Syed Md Hasan Ali shot dead his three paternal uncles and his men killed five other family members following his order on September 27, 1971.

Nani Gopal Ghosh, the 17th prosecution witness from Paikura village in Kendua upazila of Netrakona, said the eight were shot dead in Makran Beel in Tarail of Kishoreganj when they were fleeing the country on the day during the Liberation War.

Hasan and his men also looted gold ornaments and cash from his aunties who were somehow saved by a local Union Parishad chairman, said 71-year-old Gopal as he had heard the incident from his aunties and an uncle who was also wounded in the firing.

Hasan, an alleged Razakar commander of Tarail upazila, is facing six charges, including mass killing. He has been tried in absentia.

State-appointed defence counsel Abdus Shukur Khan completed cross-examination before the tribunal that adjourned the case proceeding till tomorrow.

http://www.thedailystar.net/city/another-implicates-hasan-in-killing-of-8-netrokona-hindus-65409

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Myanmar declares emergency in war-torn region

February 18, 2015

LASHIO, MYANMAR - Myanmar on Tuesday declared a state of emergency in a conflict-torn border region, where ferocious fighting between the army and ethnic rebels has sent thousands fleeing airstrikes and fierce gun battles.

Civilians have come under fire in the deadly clashes between the army and Kokang rebels in Shan state, local officials said, in fighting that has uprooted tens of thousands in the past week and sent a flood of refugees into China, which has voiced alarm over the escalating bloodshed.

“A serious situation has developed that has put people’s lives at risk, so a state of emergency has been declared starting from today,” the ministry of information said in a statement outlining the measures in the Kokang region of Shan state, where conflict has raged since February 9.

Full report at:

http://nation.com.pk/international/18-Feb-2015/myanmar-declares-emergency-in-war-torn-region

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Solution to crisis exists within Bangladesh

February 18, 2015

US Ambassador in Dhaka Marcia Stephens Bloom Bernicat yesterday said the solution to the ongoing political crisis exists within Bangladesh, and mentioned that foreign friends, including her country, are ready to help if requested.

“…the solution and the means for addressing the political differences that exist here are for Bangladeshis to come up with… I have every hope Bangladesh will find a way forward,” she told a press conference at the American Club in the capital.

Responding to a volley of questions, the US envoy said, “We stand ready to help if that help is requested since Bangladesh's friends are concerned over the current political situation.”

In her first press conference since arriving in Dhaka on January 25, Bernicat said she had focused on the “broader and deeper” Washington-Dhaka ties and was to “look ahead and move the relationship forward”.

Full report at:

http://www.thedailystar.net/frontpage/solution-to-crisis-exists-within-bangladesh-65373

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UN says civilian deaths up 25 percent in Afghanistan

18 Feb 2015

The number of civilians killed and wounded in Afghanistan has jumped 22 percent in 2014, the UN has said.

The United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan on Wednesday attributed the rise to an intensification in ground fighting, resulting in a total of 10,548 civilian casualties in 2014, compared with the 2013 figure of 8,637.

The number of civilian deaths rose 25 percent to 3,699 while the number of injured was up 21 percent to 6,849. The total casualty figure is the highest recorded in a single year since the UN began compiling its reports in 2009.

Al Jazeera's Nicole Johnston, reporting from Kabul, said one of the major reasons has been the increase in high explosive weapons used in attacks.

"Another reason has been the widening of the ground offensive and these have taken place close to the major regional centers.

Full report at:

http://www.aljazeera.com/news/2015/02/civilian-deaths-25-percent-afghanistan-150218071345867.html

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Mideast

 

Turkey’s reluctance to join the fight against ISIL isolates country further

February 17, 2015

Turkey is facing strong criticism over its reluctance to support international efforts to eliminate the terrorist Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) in Iraq and Syria, partly due to misreading the developments in the region and pursuing an ambitious foreign policy that has led Turkey to increased isolation.

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan for the first time admitted this isolation en route to Ankara from his Latin America trip, saying that he doesn't care and is determined to follow the same policies in the region, whether this concerns removing the regime of President Bashar al-Assad from power in Syria or opposing Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, the former military head who came to power after a coup.

Turkey has been the target of criticism due to allegedly turning a blind eye to foreign fighters crossing into Syria and Iraq from Turkey to join ISIL.

The Turkish authorities strongly condemn the terrorist acts of ISIL militants and say these actions have nothing to do with Islam. But when it comes to action, Turkey's reluctance is not plausible.

Full report at:

http://www.todayszaman.com/diplomacy_turkeys-reluctance-to-join-the-fight-against-isil-isolates-country-further_372891.html

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Iran leader says ‘American Sniper’ is anti-Muslim ‘propaganda’

February 17, 2015

TEHRAN, Iran — Iran’s supreme leader has criticized the film “American Sniper,” saying the movie about a US soldier fighting in Iraq encourages violence against Muslims, a state-run newspaper reported Tuesday.

The comments by Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, published in the daily IRAN Farsi newspaper, come amid renewed criticism of the West by the leader as his country negotiates with world powers over its contested nuclear program.

The newspaper quoted Khamenei as saying he hadn’t watched the film directed by Clint Eastwood and starring Bradley Cooper, but had heard about its plot from others.

The film focuses on the life of US Navy SEAL marksman Chris Kyle, who with 160 confirmed kills is considered the most lethal sniper in American military history.

“The movie ‘Sniper’ that is made by Hollywood encourages a Christian or non-Muslim youngster to harass and offend the Muslims as far as they could,” the newspaper quoted Khamenei as saying.

Full report at:

http://nypost.com/2015/02/17/iran-leader-says-american-sniper-encourages-violence-against-muslims/

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Ex-US aide calls for war on Iran if deal violated

Feb 18, 2015

A former US presidential aide says Washington should pass a law mandating military action against Iran if the Islamic Republic violates the terms of a final deal over its nuclear program.

Speaking at the annual conference of the Institute for National Security Studies in Tel Aviv on Tuesday, Dennis Ross said the US must be clear what the consequences would be for any possible Iranian violations of the deal in any agreement over Tehran’s nuclear work.

“You cannot wait until you face the violations, and decide what it (the consequence), will be,” he said. “You actually should work that out now.”

Ross, who from 2009 to 2011 was a key White House official dealing with Iran, said this is an area where the US administration and Congress can cooperate and agree in advance what the price of violations will be.

Full report at:

http://www.presstv.in/Detail/2015/02/18/398080/ExUS-aide-urges-law-on-Iran-war

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Yemen colonel, bodyguard gunned down

18 February 2015

ADEN: Suspected Al-Qaeda gunmen killed a senior police officer and his bodyguard on Tuesday in Yemen’s southeastern province of Hadramawt, a stronghold of the extremist network, a security official said.

Two men opened fire from a motorbike at the car of Col. Murad Al-Amudi, deputy director of criminal investigation in provincial capital Mukalla, the official said. Both the colonel and his bodyguard were killed instantly and the assailants then fled, he said.

The attack comes amid rising security fears in Yemen since the Shiite Houthi militia tightened its grip on power in the capital Sanaa early this month, prompting an exodus of foreign diplomats.

The Houthis’ attempt to extend their control has been met by deadly resistance from Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, considered by Washington to be the terrorist network’s most dangerous branch. Yemen has descended into chaos since the Houthis seized Sanaa and ousted the government.

http://www.arabnews.com/middle-east/news/705941

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Gaza start-ups aim to break the siege

18 Feb 2015

Gaza City - Maryam Abu Eatewi, 25, sits at a wooden desk with a group of other young women, typing on a laptop with her full attention focused on the screen in front of her.

The room is filled with colourful drawings representing the women's successes and, in some cases, their dreams of leaving Gaza. The women are working on a variety of projects; in Abu Eatewi's case, she recently designed and launched a mobile app called Wasselni, a carpool and taxi-ordering network.

Although there were concerns at the outset that such an application may not work in Gaza due to a lack of necessary infrastructure, Abu Eatewi says it has proved to be a success, attracting nearly 1,000 users.

Full report at:

http://www.aljazeera.com/news/2015/02/gaza-start-ups-aim-break-siege-150203062741987.html

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Palestinian couples kept apart by Israel

17 Feb 2015

Nablus, West Bank - They met four years ago, fell in love, decided to be together, and even signed a marriage contract. But for Dalia Shurrab and Rashed Faddah, two Palestinians from the Gaza Strip and West Bank respectively, living together in matrimony is still a distant dream.

Israeli authorities forbid Palestinians from travelling between the two territories which it controls, other than in exceptional circumstances that include humanitarian and medical reasons.

Faced with very little options, Shurrab, 32, who lives in the southern Gaza Strip city of Khan Younis, and Faddah, 35 from Nablus in the West Bank, launched a Facebook campaign: "Deliver the Bride to the Groom." The campaign calls on the Palestinian Authority (PA) president to help secure a permit so Shurrab can travel via Israel to the West Bank to be with Faddah.

Full report at:

http://www.aljazeera.com/news/2015/02/palestinian-couples-israel-150217061028034.html

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'Iran should resist sanctions'

Feb 18, 2015

Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei says Iran can stand up to sanctions against the country and foil enemy’s plots.

“Serious work should be done. We can resist sanctions and keep the enemy from achieving its objectives,” Ayatollah Khamenei said during an address to thousands of people in Tehran on Wednesday.

The Leader said that if Iran does not resist sanctions, the enemy will set conditions for Tehran’s nuclear program and put bans on the country.

The Leader said that the enemy is taking maximum advantage of sanctions as a tool to stop Iran’s progress.

Full report at:

http://www.presstv.in/Detail/2015/02/18/398107/Iran-should-resist-sanctions

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Iran rejects EU move to re-impose sanctions on tanker firm

Feb 18, 2015

Iran has rejected the European Union (EU)’s recent move to put the country’s biggest tanker firm back on its sanctions list, saying the move runs counter to the ongoing talks over Tehran’s nuclear program. “We consider the EU move to re-impose sanctions on the National Iranian Tanker Company (NITC) as politically-motivated, nonconstructive, against the good will trend and in contravention of the ongoing [nuclear] talks,” Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Marzieh Afkham said at her weekly press briefing on Wednesday.

She described the EU move as “regrettable,” saying Iran expected the other party to the nuclear talks to refrain from measures that would undermine mutual trust.

On February 12, European Union governments agreed to put Iran's biggest tanker firm back on a list of sanctioned companies.

Full report at:

http://www.presstv.in/Detail/2015/02/18/398100/Iran-rejects-EU-move-to-reimpose-bans

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Africa

 

11 killed in suicide attack in Nigeria

February 18, 2015

KANO - Eleven people were killed in a suicide bomb attack on a checkpoint near the town of Biu in northeast Nigeria on Tuesday, a vigilante and a resident said.

Gana Sheriff, the vigilante, said the attack happened at about 1:00 pm (1200 GMT) at Yamarkumi village, four kilometres (2.5 miles) from Biu in Borno state.

“It was a suicide attack by three men in a motorised tricycle. They killed 11 people, including Civilian JTF (joint task force) and child vendors at the checkpoint,” he said. “It was later that we realised the attackers came in two rickshaws. The one ahead had three people inside who opened fire and detonated three explosives.

“The second rickshaw immediately turned after the explosions but was pursued into the bush by soldiers and local hunters.” Tijjani Kanta, a local resident who was at the Biu General Hospital, said there were 14 dead bodies at the hospital, three of them the attackers.

“Three of them belonged to the attackers. The other 11 were of the vigilantes and children selling articles to motorists at the checkpoint,” Kanta added.

The attack came five days after at least seven people were killed when a female suicide bomber blew herself up at a crowded market in Biu, which is the biggest town in southern Borno.

Full report at:

http://nation.com.pk/international/18-Feb-2015/11-killed-in-suicide-attack-in-nigeria

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Heavy fighting in South Sudan oil zones

February 18, 2015

JUBA - Warring forces in South Sudan battled Tuesday in the oil-rich Upper Nile state, the defence minster said, claiming insurgents were trying to capture a key town ahead of peace talks.

Heavy shelling was reported in several sites in the northern Renk region on both Monday and Tuesday, Defence Minister Kuol Manyang told AFP, resulting in the “injuring of many civilians.

Full report at:

http://nation.com.pk/international/18-Feb-2015/heavy-fighting-in-south-sudan-oil-zones

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Niger Arrests over 160 Boko Haram Terrorists

18 February 2015

At least 160 Boko Haram terrorists were arrested at Niger's border with Nigeria, police said.

"We would like to warmly thank the residents of the Diffa region whose assistance has allowed us to arrest more than 160 suspects," Niger's police spokesman Adily Toro said on local television, AFP reported.

"The terrorists were being interrogated and faced charges of terrorism and conspiracy in connection with a terrorist group," Toro added.

Earlier this month, terrorists launched an attack on Niger's remote Diffa area, across the border from Boko Haram's stronghold in Nigeria. Police arrested dozens of suspects in the Nigerian city of Zinder, west of Diffa, where more than 10,000 people were on the run to escape the recent violence.

http://english.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13931128000334

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Four Tunisian police killed in terrorist attack

Feb 18, 2015

Four Tunisian police forces have lost their lives in a “terrorist attack” in a western mountainous region near the Algerian border, the Tunisian government says.

“On February 18, following a terrorist attack in Boulaaba in the governorate of Kasserine, four heroes of the National Guard were martyred,” the Tunisian Interior Ministry said in statement released on Wednesday, without giving more details.

Boulaaba is situated at the foot of Mount Chaambi on a range bordering Algeria. The city is home to Tunisia’s main militant group, the al-Qaeda-linked Phalange Okba Ibn Nafaa, which was blamed for an attack in July last year that claimed the lives of 15 Tunisian soldiers.

Since late 2012, Tunisian troops have been battling dozens of militants hiding out in the areas near the Mount Chaambi. However, they have so far been unsuccessful in uprooting them.

More than 20 security personnel were reportedly killed in Tunisia in 2013 in what the government described as terrorism-related incidents. Two opposition politicians were also assassinated in the same year in separate attacks.

The new government of Prime Minister Habib Essid is faced with the challenge of terrorist attacks, which intensified after the 2011 revolution against  Western-backed ruler Zine El Abidine Ben Ali.

http://www.presstv.in/Detail/2015/02/18/398091/4-Tunisian-police-killed-in-terror-attack

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Egypt seeks UN backing for air strikes against Isis in Libya

17 February 2015

Egypt has called for a UN-backed international intervention in Libya after launching air strikes on Islamic State targets following the murder of 21 Egyptian Christians.

The country’s president, Abdel Fatah al-Sisi, said in an interview aired by France’s Europe 1 radio that there was no choice but to create a global coalition to confront the extremists in Libya.

Egypt’s top diplomat is in New York to seek backing for military intervention from UN security council members. On Monday Egypt’s armed forces announced F-16 strikes on Isis weapons caches and training camps – the first time Egypt has acknowledged any kind of military intervention in its increasingly chaotic and violent western neighbour.

The Egyptian air strikes killed 64 Isis fighters, including three of the leadership, in the coastal cities of Derna and Sirte, the Libyan army said. Reports reaching Tunis said at least 35 more Egyptians had been rounded up by Isis in retaliation for the morning air raids, but there was no confirmation of this from an Egyptian presidential spokesman.

Full report at:

http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/feb/17/egypt-seeks-backing-air-strikes-isis-libya

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Boko Haram threatens to disrupt Nigeria poll

18 Feb 2015

Nigeria's presidential election on March 28 will not take place peacefully, AbuBakr Shekau, leader of Boko Haram, has said in a new video purportedly released by the group.

In the video, released on social media on Tuesday and obtained by US based SITE intelligence group, Shekau issued a warning to the Goodluck Jonathan's government that next month's elections would be disrupted with violence.

"Allah will not leave you to proceed with these elections even after us, because you are saying that authority is from people to people, which means that people should rule each other, but Allah says that the authority is only to him, only his rule is the one which applies on this land," he said.

Full report at:

http://www.aljazeera.com/news/africa/2015/02/boko-haram-threatens-disrupt-nigeria-poll-150218042214031.html

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Nigeria rocked by multiple attacks in north and south

18 Feb 2015

At least 40 people have been killed in mutiple attacks in northern and southern Nigeria.

The majority of the victims died when explosions ripped through a joint civilian and military checkpoint in Biu, in Borno State, on Tuesday.

Elsewhere, an attack on an opposition rally in Okrika, in Rivers State, left one policeman dead and several others wounded, while a reporter covering the event was stabbed.

Five explosions and a burst of gunfire hit the rally of Dakuku Peterside, the All Progressive Congress (APC) candidate for governor, with his supporters running for safety.

"Five police officers were shot. One of them is dead and four are lying in critical condition at this hospital," Peterside said.

Peterside and a source at the private Channels television network said its reporter at the scene, Charles Erukaa, had also been stabbed and was being taken to a hospital.

Political tension has raged in Rivers since outgoing governor Rotimi Amaechi defected to the APC from the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in 2013.

Suicide attack

Full report at:

http://www.aljazeera.com/news/2015/02/blasts-opposition-rally-nigeria-rivers-state-150217142730792.html

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Morocco to create sharia board to oversee Islamic finance: decree

18 February 2015

Morocco is to create a sharia board of Islamic scholars to oversee the country's fledgling Islamic finance industry, according to a royal decree.

It is the second big step to allow the creation of Islamic banks and enable private firms to issue Islamic debt, after parliament approved the Islamic finance bill last November.

Islamic banks, which ban interest payments and pure monetary trading, have been growing across Asia, Middle East and Europe.

Sensitive of Islamist movements, Morocco has long rejected the idea. But the country's financial market lacks liquidity and foreign investors, and Islamic finance could attract both.

Called the Sharia Committee for Participative Finances, the board will be composed of 10 Islamic scholars plus at least five financial experts, the official bulletin said.

The members of the committee will be named by the president of the country’s Islamic Scholars Council, the bulletin said.

The board will approve the conformity of the Islamic products proposed by the participative banks, as they will be known under the legislation, and insurance (takaful) to sharia law.

It will also oversee the central bank decisions regarding the participative finances sector.

Major Moroccan banks have been preparing to open Islamic offshoots since the legislative process began. Foreign lenders have been also testing the waters.

http://english.alarabiya.net/en/business/banking-and-finance/2015/02/18/Morocco-to-create-sharia-board-to-oversee-Islamic-finance-decree.html

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Warplane strikes Libya’s Zintan airport

18 February 2015

A warplane carried out air strikes on a western Libyan town allied with the internationally recognized government on Tuesday, in what officials charged was an attack by the rival government controlling Tripoli, according to Reuters news agency.

The military jet attacked hit the airport in the western town of Zintan in the mountains near the Tunisian border, airport officials from Zintan said.

“A warplane conducted an air strike on the airport of Zintan while passengers were about to depart,” Zintan airport said in a statement. “Two flights were canceled for security.”

Limited damage was caused near the runway and there were no casualties. But an air strike by the rival Tripoli government would be an escalation of its war with Prime Minister Abdullah al-Thinni’s forces which have been operating out of the east.

Defense officials from Thinni’s government accused the Tripoli faction of carrying out the attack. There was no immediate response from the Tripoli authorities.

Libya is increasingly divided, with Thinni’s recognized government and his allies locked in a conflict with a rival faction that took over the capital and established its own self-declared government.

The United Nations is negotiating a deal between the factions to stop the North African country’s slide into wider civil war, four years after the uprising that toppled leader Muammar Qaddafi.

Four years after the NATO-backed war toppled Qaddafi, Western governments fear Libya is sliding deeper into war as the rival factions battle for control and the country’s oil wealth.

U.N. peace talks among key factions have made little concrete progress. But negotiations are expected to continue this month in an attempt to form a united government and end hostilities.

[With Reuters]

http://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2015/02/18/Warplane-strikes-Libyan-town-of-Zintan-.html

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URL: http://newageislam.com/islamic-world-news/new-age-islam-news-bureau/muslim-ngos-could-help-counter-violent-extremism/d/101583

 

 

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