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Islamic World News ( 29 Nov 2022, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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Muslim Student in India’s Karnataka Confronts Teacher for Calling Him A ‘Terrorist’; ‘Shameful’: Indian Journalists, Activists React

New Age Islam News Bureau

29 November 2022


Screengrab from video


• US: Washington's Muslim, Jewish Firefighters Sue over Policy Banning Beards

• Saudi Arabia Jails Social Media Activist, Fadi Ibrahim Nasser, Over Critical Tweets about the House of Saud and Unemployment

• Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan Calls Off Ceasefire Agreed With the Government, Orders Fighters to Attack across Pakistan

• Iranian Football Federation Complains To FIFA after US Football Federation Removes ‘Allah’ From Flag Graphic



• “Un-Islamic Practices”: Clerics Ban Dance, Music, Fireworks in Muslim Weddings in Jharkhand Block

• Congress Provided Such an Eco-System Where Love Jihad Was Easy: Himanta Biswa Sarma

• Gujarat polls: Muslims overlook AAP baggage

• HC reserves judgment in plea challenging ASI survey of the Gyanvapi mosque complex

• Maharashtra's Nashik: People carrying saffron flags participate in silent march, demanding check on 'love jihad'

• Indian, Indonesian NSAs to address special meeting focusing on countering extremism


North America

• Radical Islamic cleric Shaikh Abdullah Faisal stands trial for trying to recruit ‘NYPD cop’ to ISIS

• US Muslim leaders explore Israel: ‘The Abraham Accords give hope’


Arab World

• Egyptian Salafi Leader Younis Makhyoun's Football 'Fatwa' Stirs Controversy

• Erdoğan urges Islamic nations to put stronger will for Syria conflict

• Turkiye, Egypt to restore full diplomatic ties, reappoint ambassadors

• Arab fans unite at FIFA World Cup after surprise wins in Qatar

• Syrian refugees under pressure to return face an uncertain future tinged with fear



• Pakistan Army's decision to remain apolitical will shield it from 'vagaries of politics', says Gen Bajwa

• MQM-P raises delimitation issue as PPP mulls response to PTI move

• Altaf versus ex-loyalists over London properties

• ECP bound to hold by-polls in case of PTI resignations, says official

• Buffer zone to protect Badshahi Mosque, Lahore Fort



• Hezbollah Official: Support for Palestine in Qatari World Cup Tantamount To Rejection of Israel Existence

• 'Hezbollah Biggest Obstacle for Israel Normalization; Palestinians Won't Allow Al-Aqsa Desecration'

• Israel torturing Palestinian children in detention centres, treating them as criminals: Fatah leader

• Erdogan-Sisi handshake sparks backlash from Turkey's Islamists

• More than 300 dead in Iran unrests since protests: Revolutionary Guards general

• Three Palestinians killed by Israeli fire in occupied West Bank: Health ministry

• Three Israeli soldiers detained for suspected revenge attack on Palestinians

• Iran football legend Ali Daei targeted by ‘threats’ after backing protests

• Palestine's UN envoy calls Israel's incoming government 'fascist'

• Netanyahu to do everything to avoid prison: Israeli prime minister


South Asia

• Rohingya Muslims Stuck between Myanmar’s Military Junta, Rebel Arakan Army

• Afghan Taliban to Host Female Pakistan Minister for Bilateral Talks

• China-Pakistan Science and Technology cooperation centre inaugurated in Beijing

• Islamic Emirate Seeks China’s Cooperation for Wakhan Trade Route

• U.S official attends Herat Security Dialogue in Tajikistan



• Sudan's Military Leader Freezes Unions to Curb Islamists' Influence

• Terrorists Kill 8 In Somali, Including Dual British Citizens, Before Hotel Siege Ended

• UN experts urge South Sudan to probe senior officials for abetting sexual violence

• Somali troops overpower militants to end hotel siege



• British Muslim Firefighters Face 'Institutional Racism' At London Fire Brigade

• UN agencies demand abolition of death penalty in Saudi Arabia

• Portugal leader denies problems with Qatar after ‘hostile comment’ row

• Belgium, Netherlands rocked by unrest after Morocco's World Cup win


Southeast Asia

• Umno President Zahid Defends Working With Long-Time Malaysian Political Foe PH

• PAS president slammed for remarks seen as insulting Malaysia’s monarchy

• Saudi-Indonesia kinship in spotlight as Kingdom pledges support to restore Jakarta Islamic Centre

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau



Muslim Student in India’s Karnataka Confronts Teacher for Calling Him A ‘Terrorist’; ‘Shameful’: Indian Journalists, Activists React


Screengrab from video


November 28, 2022

A Muslim student at the Mahipal University in India’s Karnataka lashed out at a teacher who allegedly called him a “terrorist” during class, the Indian media reported on Monday.

The 45-second video of the incident, which is being widely circulated on social media, shows a young man confronting the professor in a classroom full of students.

A report by the Hindustan Times quoted the student as saying: “How can you pass such statements?”

In his response, the professor clarified that he had passed the remarks “as a joke”, to which the student replied: “26/11 is not funny, being Muslim and facing such things in this country is not funny.”

According to the Hindustan Times report, the professor subsequently apologised to the student, saying that he was equal to his son. “Will you treat your son like this? Will you label him as a terrorist, in front of everyone in the class? Sorry alone will not help, sir. It doesn’t change how you portray yourself here,” the student was quoted as replying.

“The professor later had a conversation with the student and issued a personal apology too,” the report claimed citing sources. “The matter was also said to be resolved between the student and the professor.”

Meanwhile, a report by NDTV said that the university has initiated a departmental inquiry against the teacher and the “student has been given counselling”.

‘Shameful’: Indian journalists, activists react

The professor’s remarks drew the ire of a number of Indian journalists and activists.

Ashok Swain, a professor at Uppsala University, called the incident “what it has been to be a minority in India”.

Journalist Swati Chaturvedi said the video was “shameful, yet so [is] every day in Modi’s India”.

AJ English journalist Said Khalid asserted that calling a student terrorist was “not funny” and demanded that the teacher should be fired.

Actor Arfi Lamba highlighted that “hatred and communalism have reached the temples of learning”, adding that a student should not have to defend himself against bigotry.

The Hindu reporter Syed Muhammed also stressed that calling a Muslim a terrorist was not a joke.

“There are many Muslim students who’ve been discriminated against, pigeonholed, and are victims of biases of teachers. It is unfortunate that the brave student has been put in that position,” he tweeted.

Source: Dawn

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US: Washington's Muslim, Jewish Firefighters Sue Over Policy Banning Beards


Many fire departments and police forces around the United States have policies banning the growing of beards (AFP/File photo)


28 November 2022

A group of Muslim and Jewish firefighters in Washington have asked a judge to hold the city in contempt for a policy that bans beards, saying it unfairly targets the two minority faiths of Islam and Judaism.

The firefighters - Steven Chasin, Calvert Potter, Jasper Sterling and Hassan Umrani - filed a motion this month in a district court, in which they said they were removed from duty, reassigned, and received less compensation because they refused to abide by a 2020 policy prohibiting most kinds of facial hair.

The men each have a beard "in accordance with the tenets of his Muslim or Jewish faith".

This protection was won by the men more than a decade ago when they challenged a similar restriction using the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993 (RFRA), according to filings from their attorneys.

Gabriel Shoglow-Rubenstein, press secretary for the Office of the Attorney General for the District of Columbia, told Middle East Eye that the office is going to oppose the contempt motion and had no further comment.

In the DC Fire and EMS department's new policy issued in February 2020 during the Covid-19 pandemic, employees were prohibited from having “facial hair that comes between the sealing surface of the facepiece and the face" of respirator devices they use in their line of work, the firefighter's motion says.

The policy "intends to protect and enhance the safety of all members and thereby support our ability to provide efficient fire and emergency medical services to the residents and visitors of the District of Columbia”, according to a general order from the fire department cited in the motion.

However, in 2007, the city faced a similar issue when a US district judge ruled against a grooming policy in support of shaving, saying that "evidence shows that a beard has never interfered with the ability of a FEMS worker to do his duty".

According to Jordan Pratt, senior counsel with First Liberty Institute, the language of the 2020 policy mirrors the previous policy that was ordered not to apply.

"There really is no excuse," Pratt told the Washington Post in an interview. "They [DC FEMS] decided to be their own federal judge and violate the federal court order. That violation caused our clients harm for a year and a half."

The court filings said that Potter "experienced increased psychological stress and frustration" because of the lesser income, and Umrani "was not allowed to apply for a promotion” at his firehouse because he was not in the field.

Potter and Sterling were restored to field duty in October 2021, and Umrani in December 2021. Chasin transferred to an administrative position in March 2021 at his choosing, according to the motion.

"It was only after we got involved and sent a letter that explained, 'Well, you can't just unilaterally violate federal injunctions.' It's only then that they restored them to field duty, but so far just have not been willing to adequately compensate our clients for the harm that their violation caused," Pratt said.

Many fire departments and police forces around the United States have policies banning the growing of beards. However, in several cases, these policies have been challenged as being discriminatory, particularly to those whose faiths require them to maintain a beard.

Similar policies have been set in American workforces regarding head coverings, and Muslim women who wear hijab have similarly challenged these policies in the past.

In 2015, the Supreme Court ruled in favour of a Muslim woman who filed an employment discrimination lawsuit against Abercrombie & Fitch, which had refused to hire her because she wore a headscarf.

Source: Middle East Eye

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Saudi Arabia Jails Social Media Activist, Fadi Ibrahim Nasser, Over Critical Tweets about the House of Saud and Unemployment


Imprisoned Saudi pro-democracy campaigner Fadi Ibrahim Nasser (Photo via Twitter)


28 November 2022

Saudi Arabian authorities have arrested an activist for critical tweets about the House of Saud and unemployment in the kingdom, in yet another sign of the Riyadh regime’s aggressive crackdown on dissent on social media.

The Prisoners of Conscience, an independent non-governmental organization advocating human rights in Saudi Arabia, announced in a post on its official Twitter page that officials have detained Fadi Ibrahim Nasser over tweets that criticized the monarch government, and the policies of the Al Saud regime vis-à-vis joblessness among Saudi citizens.

Earlier this month, human rights organizations said a Saudi pro-democracy activist had received a 10-year jail sentence for writing tweets critical of the government.

The Prisoners of Conscience said that the so-called Specialized Criminal Court in the Saudi capital city of Riyadh passed the ruling on Abdullah Gailan on November 15, and slapped a 10-year travel ban on him as well.

Gailan, a graduate of West Chester University, was arrested in May 2021 after he travelled from Pennsylvania to Saudi Arabia to see his family.

He has apparently been held in conditions that amounted to torture since his arrest by Saudi authorities.

Moreover, Saudi officials have summoned a religious scholar as a crackdown led by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman against pro-democracy campaigners, intellectuals and political dissidents widens.

The Prisoners of Conscience noted that the Public Prosecution called in on Sheikh Saleh bin Abdullah al-Osaimi (shown in the picture below) for questioning.

The human rights group added that the officials also banned him from delivering sermons at al-Masjid an-Nabawi, known in English as the Prophet's Mosque, in the city of Medina.

Since bin Salman became Saudi Arabia’s de facto leader in 2017, the kingdom has arrested hundreds of activists, bloggers, intellectuals and others for their political activism, showing almost zero tolerance for dissent even in the face of international condemnation of the crackdown.

Muslim scholars have been executed and women’s rights campaigners have been put behind bars and tortured as freedom of expression, association, and belief continue to be denied by the kingdom's authorities.

Over the past years, Riyadh has also redefined its anti-terrorism laws to target activism.

Source: Press TV

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Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan Calls Off Ceasefire Agreed With the Government, Orders Fighters to Attack across Pakistan


File photo of Pakistani Taliban in Shawal in Pakistani tribal region of South Waziristan. | Photo Credit: AP


November 29, 2022 - Islamabad


The Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), a separate entity from the Taliban in Afghanistan but sharing a similar Islamist ideology, have been responsible for hundreds of attacks and thousands of deaths since emerging in 2007.

They agreed to a truce earlier this year after Afghanistan's new Taliban rulers took a prominent role in brokering peace talks, but negotiations made little progress and there were frequent breaches.

"We... have shown our continued patience so that the negotiation process is not sabotaged," the TTP said in a statement.

"But the army and intelligence agencies do not stop and continue the attacks, so now our retaliatory attacks will also start across the country."

Less than two weeks ago the TTP claimed an ambush that killed six policemen in northwest Pakistan, claiming they were plotting a "raid" on their base in the area.

Since Friday the military has been patrolling the area in an attempt to root out militants, with helicopter gunships shelling their hideouts.

The TTP was founded in 2007 by Pakistani jihadists who fought alongside the Taliban in Afghanistan in the 1990s before opposing Islamabad's support for American intervention there after 9/11.

Source: The Hindu

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Iranian Football Federation Complains To FIFA after US Football Federation Removes ‘Allah’ From Flag Graphic


The Islamic Republic's flag consists of three horizontal bands in red, white and green with the word 'Allah' appearing in stylised script in the middle [Jin-Man Lee/AP Photo]


Hazar Kilani

November 28, 2022

The Iranian Football Federation has complained to FIFA about the removal of the word “Allah” from its flag on social media posts by its American counterpart, Iranian state news agency IRNA reported.

The complaint comes ahead of the World Cup match between Iran and the United States on Tuesday.

Iranian state news agency IRNA reported that “in an unprofessional act, the Instagram page of the US football federation removed the Allah symbol from the Iranian flag.”

Iran’s footballing body has written to FIFA “to demand it issue a serious warning to the US federation,” it added.

FIFA has not given an immediate public response to the complaint.

Team USA and Iran will clash in a pivotal World Cup match on Tuesday; a game already complicated by the long-standing animosity between the nations.

In 1980, the US and Iran ended diplomatic relations.

‘Support for Iran’s women’

The United States Soccer Federation (USSF) announced in a statement on Sunday morning that it had decided to do away with Iran’s official flag on social media accounts in solidarity with “women in Iran fighting for basic human rights.”

The Islamic Republic’s flag has three red, white, and green horizontal bands with the word “Allah” in stylised script in the centre.

The Iranian flag only featured its green, white, and red colours on the US men’s team Twitter account banner listing the team’s group-stage matches. The same was visible in a post outlining the group’s current point totals on its Facebook and Instagram accounts.

By Sunday afternoon, the altered flag had been removed from Facebook and Instagram posts, and the regular flag with the emblem had been reinstated in the Twitter banner.

“We wanted to show our support for the women in Iran with our graphic for 24 hours,” the federation said.

The US team “breached the FIFA charter, for which a 10-game suspension is the appropriate penalty,” the Iranian Tasnim news agency wrote on Twitter.

It went on to say that the US team “should be kicked out” of the World Cup.

Source: Doha News

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 “Un-Islamic Practices”: Clerics Ban Dance, Music, Fireworks in Muslim Weddings in Jharkhand Block

Nov 29, 2022

A group of Muslim clerics has banned “un-Islamic practices” such as dance, playing of loud music and display of fireworks during weddings in a block in Jharkhand’s Dhanbad district and said that those who violate the diktat would be fined.

Maulana Masud Akhtar, Head Imam of Sibilibadi Jama Masjid in Nirsa block, on Monday said that the restrictions will begin from December 2.

“We unanimously decided that Nikah (marriage) would be solemnized according to Islamic religion and there would be no dance, playing of DJ music and display of fireworks. Those who will violate the order will be fined Rs 5,100,” Akhtar said.

“Such practices are not permitted in Islam. These also cause inconvenience to people,” said the head imam who chaired a meeting on Sunday where the decision was taken. Akhtar said that the marriage has to be solemnized within 11 pm as the time after that is not considered auspicious.

Source: India Today

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Congress provided such an eco-system where love jihad was easy: Himanta Biswa Sarma

November 29, 2022

Assam Chief Minister and one of the star campaigners of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in Gujarat elections, Himanta Biswa Sarma, on Monday launched an attack on opposition Congress for providing such an eco-system to the country where issues likes love jihad became very easy, and called for a law against love jihad that is possible “only in the BJP government under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi”.

On his second visit to Gujarat for campaigning, Sarma raised the infamous Delhi murder case involving Aftab Poonawala and Shraddha Walkar from Mumbai, which he had raised during his earlier visit also.

The Assam CM said that before her murder, Shraddha had lodged a complaint with Maharashtra police against Aftab but an FIR was not registered. “At that time, the government in Maharashtra was that of Shiv Sena, Congress and Nationalist Congress Party… because of Congress’s politics of appeasement, a special class has got freedom to do whatever they want… ‘you do anything and law will not touch you’. It is because of Congress’s appeasement that the country has started seeing incidents like that of Aftab-Shradhha.”

Sarma mentioned that Shraddha was cut into 34 pieces and such gruesome murder is possible only if some other agenda was attached to it. “Else, you will never cut a person, with whom you have lived for some time, into 34 pieces,” he said.

“Therefore, I believe that the country needs a law against love jihad. And it can be possible only in the BJP government under the leadership of Narendra Modi,” Sarma said.

Defending his statement that Congress leader Rahul Gandhi has started looking like Saddam Hussain (former chief of Iraq), Sarma said, “Some people from Congress got unhappy (with my comment). What is there to be unhappy about? I did not call him Bahadur Shah Zafar (the last emperor of the Mughal dynasty). I only said that your face looks like Saddam (Hussain). Remove the beard and again you will look like Rahul (Gandhi). What is the problem? That is my assessment. You are giving it publicity by trolling me,” Sarma said.

Mentioning about the BJP manifesto for the Gujarat elections, Sarma said that the issues like checking love jihad, commitment for Uniform Civil Code, work against radicalisation, increasing medical insurance for poor from Rs 5 lakh to Rs 10 lakh, resolve against terrorism, announcement to express readiness to hold Olympics, etc., have come up during the Gujarat elections.

“The country has started feeling the agenda of 2024 (Lok Sabha elections) on which issues the 2024 elections will be fought,” he said, adding that Congress did not control terrorism in the country, but it was done by PM Modi after 2014.

Sarma said that the BJP is set to win more than 150 seats in the current state assembly elections and more than 400 in the 2024 Lok Sabha elections.

In reply to a question whether he was trying to polarise Hindu voters in Gujarat, Sarma said, “What is the problem in it? Don’t Hindus have a right to talk like a political force? Is it only the right of (Asaduddin) Owaisi to polarise? ”

“We too have a right to talk about Sanatan Sanskruti in India, to talk about Hindu asmita (pride) and also talk against the exploitation of women in Muslim community. Why do you think that by talking about Hindu pride, the country will be polarised?”

Replying to a question on radicalisation, Sarma said that nobody is saying that an entire community is radicalised. “There are patriots in that community as well. But unfortunately, Popular Front of India (PFI) and Students’ Islamic Movement of India (SIMI) also come from that community. So, we have to accompany the patriots from that class and destroy the radicals.”

In its manifesto, the BJP has promised to have a cell against radicalisation. Sarma said that we need to have a “vaccine” against radicalisation.

Source: Indian Express

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Gujarat polls: Muslims overlook AAP baggage

Pheroze L. Vincent   |   New Delhi  


While the Aam Aadmi Party spares no effort in projecting itself as a “Hindu party”, it appears to be gaining slivers of support from Gujarat’s Muslims.

Experts explained this as realpolitik — a realisation among Muslims that the party has a shot at victory in places where the Congress is a weak opponent to the BJP despite the main Opposition party’s greater cadre base compared with the AAP’s.

Conversations this newspaper had with voters in the eastern edge of Saurashtra as well as central Gujarat — considered the BJP’s stronghold — threw up a mix of responses.

Muslims, 9.7 per cent of the state’s population, are considered a Congress vote bank. However, a large number of Muslim voters expressed an affinity with or interest in the AAP, irrespective of its stand on what may be deemed litmus tests of secularism.

The AAP has been silent on the release of the Bilkis Bano convicts, advocated Hindu deities’ images on currency, and embraced a BJP turncoat accused of having instigated the flogging of Muslims in Kheda.

The commonest reason the Muslim voters gave was that the AAP had a better chance of victory than the Congress, which has been out of power in Gujarat for 27 years.

Many Hindu and Muslim respondents, who expressed dissatisfaction with the BJP government’s performance, also enquired if an alliance was possible between the two Opposition parties.

Although the Congress has formally ruled out this possibility, there’s word about local quid pro quo between the two parties in some seats.

Ahmedabad-based sociologist Achyut Yagnik told The Telegraph: “In some areas near Surat, and in Saurashtra where the AAP has increased its influence, the Congress has no hope of winning. The AAP is, however, organisationally much weaker than the BJP. After a long time, there is a three-cornered contest where the AAP has emerged as an alternative. The Gujarat Congress now has a weak leadership compared with the past, although the party retains its traditionally strong organisation.”

Among the voters this newspaper interacted with, Congress supporters were fewer in number but more vocal than the rest.

Unlike the AAP, which appeared to have more acceptance in urban pockets and some tribal areas in Dahod, Congress cadres were present everywhere.

In 2017, the BJP got 49.1 per cent of the vote and the Congress 41.4 per cent.

Even at its lowest ebb — in the three-cornered 1990 polls when the Janata Dal became the single largest party — the Congress got 30.7 per cent of the vote.

Yagnik said the high acceptance of Hindutva among the urban middle class in the state was an open secret, something the Muslims too were aware of. So, even a party with less-than-ideal secular credentials could become a viable alternative for them.

Ajaz Shaikh, a research associate with the public systems group of IIM Ahmedabad — whose work focuses on slums in the city — said: “Muslims have worked hard every time for the Congress to win, especially in the urban areas. But this has not yielded results. With the AAP, they feel they can defeat the BJP.

“Interactions (between) Muslims and Hindus (happen) through business. There is a middle-class Hindu discourse about the AAP as an alternative that the Muslims too have caught on to. Also, they have seen AAP victories take place in Punjab and Delhi against BJP waves.”

Source: Telegraph India

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HC reserves judgment in plea challenging ASI survey of the Gyanvapi mosque complex

Nov 28, 2022

By JItendra Sarin

PRAYAGRAJ: The Allahabad high court on Monday reserved its judgment in a matter wherein a lower court’s order for an Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) survey of the Gyanvapi mosque complex in Varanasi has been challenged. After hearing the parties concerned, justice Prakash Padia reserved judgment in the petition filed by the Uttar Pradesh Sunni Central Waqf Board and the Anjuman Intezamia Masjid Committee (AIMC) that manages the Gyanvapi mosque. The court also extended the earlier-granted interim order till the delivery of judgment.

During the course of hearing, senior advocate CS Vaidyanathan argued, “Lord Visheshwar is a Swayambhu deity and is a manifestation of God. Swayambhu Lord Visheshwar manifested itself in nature without any human craftsmanship... There has been a temple of Swayambhu Lord Visheshwar since Satyug, and at the time when India gained independence on August, 15, 1947, Hindus were allowed to perform their religious rituals. This practice is going on uninterrupted till today. Hence, the suit filed by the plaintiff/respondents is fully maintainable.”

Earlier, on April 8, 2021, a Varanasi court had directed the ASI to conduct a comprehensive survey of the Gyanvapi mosque complex. Subsequently, the petitioners -- AIMC and U.P. Sunni Waqf Board -- filed the present petition before the high court, challenging the order of the Varanasi court. The petitioner and others have also challenged the maintainability of the original suit filed in the Varanasi district court in 1991.

Later, on September 9, 2021, the high court stayed the Varanasi court order. Recently, on November 11, senior advocate CS Vaidyanathan, appearing for the plaintiff (Hindu side) of the suit pending before a Varanasi court, argued that for reaching a logical conclusion, the inquiry should be done. “In this matter, the survey shall be done by the ASI to bring out prima facie truth, as watching the disputed premises with naked eyes, it is clear that this is part of the temple and the proceedings of the survey should be continued,” Vaidyanathan added.
Source: Hindustan Times

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Maharashtra's Nashik: People carrying saffron flags participate in silent march, demanding check on 'love jihad'


A large number of people carrying saffron flags participated in a silent march taken out in Maharashtra's Nashik city on Monday demanding to stop what they called as "love jihad" and capital punishment for Shraddha Walkar murder case accused Aaftab Poonawala.

'Love jihad' is a term used by right-wing groups and activists to allege a concerted effort by Muslim men to convert Hindu women to Islam through marriage.

Activists of different right-wing organisations and members of the general public including women, some of them wearing saffron clothes and caps, joined the 'Virat Hindu Muk Morcha' (mega silent march), which began from a school in Shalimar suburb and passed through a number of city areas.

The march participants put forth various demands, including a law against religious conversion and "love jihad", capital punishment for Poonawala, strict implementation of the cow slaughter ban and stringent action against those insulting Maratha king Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj.

Poonawala allegedly strangled Walkar (27) in May this year and sawed her body into 35 pieces, which he kept in a 300-litre fridge for almost three weeks at his residence in south Delhi's Mehrauli before dumping those across the city over several days past midnight.

"We demand capital punishment for Poonawala, accused in the case of murder of Shraddha Walkar," said Ram Singh Bawri, national president of the Hindu Ekta Andolan Party which participated in the march.

"The government should take steps that 'love jihad' does not happen. The girls who have become victims of 'love jihad' should be saved. We also demand implementation of the Uniform Civil Code in the country," he said.

Source: Telegraph India

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Indian, Indonesian NSAs to address special meeting focusing on countering extremism

Nov 28, 2022

By Rezaul H Laskar

National Security Adviser Ajit Doval and his Indonesian counterpart Mohammed Mahfud Mahmodin will address a special meeting of ulema, or Muslim scholars, of the two sides convened to focus on countering radicalisation and extremism.

The meeting is among the events that the Indonesian leader, popularly known as Mahfud MD, will attend during an official visit to New Delhi. Besides holding wide-ranging talks on security cooperation with Doval, Mahfud MD is expected to meet the external affairs minister and the prime minister.

Mahfud MD, who holds the official position of coordinating minister for political, legal and security affairs, is heading a 25-member delegation that includes some of the most senior Muslim scholars of Indonesia and representatives of other faiths such as Catholicism and Hinduism.

The day-long dialogue on the role of ulema in fostering interfaith peace and social harmony in India and Indonesia is being hosted by the India Islamic Cultural Centre in line with a proposal made by Mahfud MD when Doval visited Jakarta in March for the second bilateral security dialogue, people familiar with the matter said.

Countering radicalisation is a shared concern for India and Indonesia and when the ulema meet on Tuesday, the focus will be on creating common grounds and narratives that can benefit both countries. Both sides also have an interest in presenting the “softer and peaceful” face of Islam, the people said.

Doval will deliver the opening address at the meeting and Mahfud MD will give the keynote address. They will also speak at the concluding session. The ulema will participate in three closed sessions on the themes ‘Islam: Continuity and change’, ‘Harmonising interfaith society’ and ‘Countering radicalisation and extremism in India and Indonesia’.

Besides the dialogue between the Muslim scholars, the Indonesian ulema will meet Indian leaders of other faiths. The dialogue intends to bring together scholars who can take forward cooperation to promote tolerance and peaceful co-existence and counter violent extremism, the people said.

Both India and Indonesia have multi-ethnic and multi-religious societies and face similar challenges. The dialogue is also understood to be part of the Indian side’s efforts to address criticism from abroad about the status of minority communities. India has largely rejected such criticism, such as a new report by the US Commission for International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) that said policies adopted by the government had resulted in an environment that is “increasingly hostile toward religious minority communities”.

During their bilateral meeting, Doval and Mahfud MD are expected to focus on deepening cooperation in maritime security and other security matters. The two sides have a range of shared security interests and concerns and there is also a desire to enhance cooperation in key areas such as infrastructure, the people said.

The two countries agreed on establishing a security dialogue when Indonesian President Joko Widodo visited India in December 2016. The first such dialogue was held in New Delhi in January 2018, and both sides had agreed on operational cooperation in security and counter-terrorism. The second security dialogue in March this year focused on global and security issues, including counter-terrorism, extremism, and cooperation in maritime security, defence, space and cyber-security.

Source: Hindustan Times

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North America


Radical Islamic cleric Shaikh Abdullah Faisal stands trial for trying to recruit ‘NYPD cop’ to ISIS

By Elizabeth Rosner and Emily Crane

November 28, 2022

A radical Islamic cleric described by prosecutors as “one of the most influential English speaking terrorist of our times” is standing trial in Manhattan for allegedly encouraging a female undercover NYPD cop to carry out terror attacks.

During opening statements in Manhattan Supreme Court on Monday, prosecutors described Shaikh Abdullah Faisal, 59, as an Islamic State recruiter and marriage broker who had committed “far reaching crimes of terrorism.”

Faisal is accused of communicating with the undercover NYPD officer by e-mail, text and video chat in a bid to encourage her to join ISIS and carry out attacks overseas from 2015 to 2017.

He also allegedly offered to introduce the woman — who was posing as a would-be jihadist — to a suitable husband within the terror group.

“This defendant, with his extremist roots, formed an integral relationship with ISIS. He worked and aided ISIS and his mission to inflict terror,” Assistant District Attorney Gary Galperin told the jurors.

“You will conclude that the defendant not only talked the talk but also walked the walk that he paved with concrete crimes of terrorism.”

The militant cleric — born Trevor William Forrest in Jamaica — had made various online posts that pointed to his alleged extremism, prosecutors said.

They pointed to one of Osama Bin Laden’s speeches that Faisal had published on his website and insisted that “every word is a gem.”

“By Allah’s permission we will be taking a look at a speech that was delivered by Osama Bin Laden…. everything he said is of extreme importance — every word is like a gem,” the alleged terrorist wrote, according to prosecutors.

In speeches he gave and posted online, prosecutors say Faisal allegedly encouraged followers to wage jihad against enemies of Islam and even kill Americans, Jews and Hindis.

“The way forward is not the ballot. The way forward is the bullet,” he said in one speech, according to the indictment.

“You should cut the throats of the kafirs with machetes,” he told followers, using a term for nonbelievers.

Faisal — who served four years in prison following his 2003 conviction for inciting racial hatred in Britain — was arrested in his native Jamaica in 2017 and extradited to New York.

He has pleaded not guilty to five counts — including conspiracy as a crime of terrorism and soliciting or providing support for an act of terrorism.

The charges carry potential sentences ranging from seven to 25 years in prison.

Faisal’s defense attorney, Alex Grosshtern, argued in his opening statements that there was no evidence his client actually committed an act of terrorism — and urged the jury not to judge him on his statements.

“The evidence will not show him planning an actual act of terrorism against the United States,” Grosshtern told jurors.

He added that the evidence also won’t show that “there was a recruitment of a female to go to Syria and assist ISIS in engaging in any specific act of terrorism.”

The trial is expected to last through mid-January.

Source: New York Post

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US Muslim leaders explore Israel: ‘The Abraham Accords give hope’


28 November 2022

In an effort to build bridges and promote the Abraham Accords, a delegation of 13 American Muslim leaders landed in Israel last week.

“The conflict between Israel and the Palestinians has led to a polarized situation in which Muslims around the world feel they can’t even engage with Israel,” Dan Feferman, director of Communications and Global Affairs at Sharaka, one of the organizations behind the trip, told The Times of Israel on Monday. “We want to build a relationship of dialogue and understanding, where people can explore and discuss and get to know one another.”

Among the visitors was Talib Shareef, an imam educated under the Nation of Islam.

“The Abraham Accords give me hope,” Shareef told The Times of Israel by phone on Wednesday, referring to the 2020 agreements that normalized Israel’s ties to the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Morocco.

Shareef is African-American and the imam of the Masjid Muhammad, the Nation’s Mosque, in Washington, DC.

He studied under W.D. Muhammed, son of Elijah Muhammed, who led the Nation of Islam, a Black Islamic and political movement, for over 40 years, until his death in 1975. The organization then split into two camps. The one currently called Nation of Islam is headed by Louis Farrakhan, who has repeatedly expressed antisemitic positions, publicly praising Adolf Hitler and dabbling in conspiracy theories of Jewish control of the world.

“We inherit the past,” he said, “and we have to deal with it and learn how to live together in peace.” The trip, he explained, emphasized this imperative.

Shareef stressed that he was not affiliated with the organization headed by Farrakhan. The original Nation of Islam, he said, had evolved to be “something universal” that “embraced all of humanity.”

“We are looking, and we are learning,” he said, adding that he, as a religious leader, will share his impressions from Israel with the members of his congregation.

This is not the first time Sharaka and American Muslim and Multifaith Women’s Empowerment Council have brought American Muslims to Israel. The last delegation, made up of Pakistani-American leaders, visited in September, aiming to foster dialogue in their community on the potential of Pakistan joining the Abraham Accords.

The latest group — which visited Bahrain for two days before coming to Israel — also consisted mostly of American Muslims of South Asian descent.

According to Ahmed Khuzaie, Sharaka’s US affairs director and co-organizer of the delegation’s trip to Bahrain, this was a conscious choice.

“We wanted to address the American Muslim communities who are rarely exposed to the Gulf or to Israel,” he said. “They are originally from Pakistan, Bangladesh, or Sri Lanka and don’t know how the accords are functioning in daily life.”

Many Americans, he said, look at the Abraham Accords as a product of the Trump administration and do not believe in its long-lasting effects.

Since signing the accords, Israel and the three Arab states have appeared intent on cultivating warm ties, launching multiple initiatives to bring the nations closer together. The accords have also yielded economic impact. According to Israel’s Finance Ministry, since the start of their relationship, Israel and the UAE have seen trade jump to some $1.2 billion in 2021.

Since the trip was co-organized by the American Muslim and Multifaith Women’s Empowerment Council (AMMWEC), another focus of the delegation was women’s empowerment, especially during the first two days the group spent in Bahrain.

“We saw these Arab women that are happy about who they are and what they’re doing. They have jobs, they are empowered, they do what they like. That was exciting for us to hear,” Anila Ali, co-founder of AMMWEC and an activist for the Democratic Party, told The Times of Israel.

The group sat with the Israeli ambassador to Bahrain, visited the Bahraini National Museum, and met with businesswomen and female artitsts.

In Israel too, meeting succesful women from diverse backgrounds was an important focus. The delegation also attended an interfaith panel, where Shareef spoke, and toured historic sites relevant to Christians, Muslims, and Jews around Jerusalem, including Yad Vashem.

Bahrain, a small monarchy in the Persian Gulf, has in recent years seen an increase in the participation of women in the labor force – often regarded as a marker for women’s rights and empowerment – according to World Bank figures, from 29 percent in 1991 to 42 percent in 2021. (Participation in the US was at 55% in 2021; in Israel, it stood at 59%.)

“I want to show that [Bahrainis and Israelis] live in tolerance, coexistence, and peace,” said Fatema Al Harbi, Sharaka’s director of Gulf affairs who accompanied the delegation in Bahrain. “And I want people to know more about Bahrain and especially Bahraini women.”

Faryal Khan, another co-founder of AMMWEC, said, “When we learned about each other’s cultures, we realized there was not much difference between us.”

Both women, as well as Ali, have faced criticism for their activism.

“There was a time,” Ali recounted, “when we couldn’t speak about antisemitism. People would immediately ask: ‘Are you Jewish?'”

They were also criticized, especially by their own community, she said, because they were women speaking out.

All of them feel, however, that they are making a difference. “A dialogue has opened, like never before,” Khan explained. “Some of it is positive, some of it negative. But there has been a change of mindset. And when people come to Israel, they see: it’s different than what is portrayed on social media.”

Soraya Deen, a laywer and public speaker who took part in the trip, explained that Palestinian voices were missing in the itinerary.

During her stay in Jerusalem, she said, her encounters with Palestinians were tense, including on her visit to the Al-Aqsa-Mosque. “I was cornered by seven people, because strands of my hair were showing, and they deemed that inappropriate,” she recounted.

Source: Times Of Israel

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Arab World


Egyptian Salafi Leader Younis Makhyoun's Football 'Fatwa' Stirs Controversy

28 November, 2022

A recent 'fatwa' - a religious edict- by an Egyptian Salafi leader regarding football has stirred a heated debate at a time when hundreds of thousands of Egyptians have been vigorously following the World Cup 2022 all over the country.

Head of the ultraconservative Nour party congress and former party president, Younis Makhyoun, criticised in a video posted on his Facebook page football lovers who spend time watching the matches of the World Cup currently held in Qatar.

Makhyoun responded to a question by a viewer who asked whether football was allowed in Islam.

"Watching 22 men running after a…ball is a waste of time. A Muslim should not spend his time over the matters… [that] distract people from worshipping [God]," Makhyoun said.

"People, who spend hours watching football matches, could use this time to do something righteous and beneficial such as reading parts of the holy Quran… Enemies of Islam used this game to distract people from our fellows in Palestine who are being killed every day," he argued.

 "What's the benefit behind watching a match? He rhetorically asked," without ruling out the importance of practising sports, but only "for the sake of physical strength."

Prominent TV hostess Azza Mostafa slammed Makhyoun in her daily TV show Salet El-Tahrir (the newsroom) broadcast on the Sada El-Balad satellite TV channel, interviewing over the phone the secretary general of the Fatwa committee at Dar El-Iftar Dr Khaled Omran.

"Even though Egypt's national team did not qualify to compete in the tournament, the Egyptian people are keen on watching all matches," Mostafa said.

"A child is born and the first things he knows are his mother and the ball," she argued.

Omran said the game is "a favourable activity."

"Football is an accredited sport organised by a union… [Competitions] help us get to know about other cultures," Omran told Mostafa, adding that, religiously, "there is nothing wrong about watching or practising football."

Makhyoun further criticised those considering footballers as "role models" such as Protégées player Cristiano Ronaldo, the Premier League club Manchester United superstar, currently the captain of the Portugal national team at the World Cup.

"This man asked the mother of his children to marry him," Makhyoun repulsively said, referring to Ronaldo's girlfriend as Islam does not allow open relationships.

However, Omran begged to differ, saying that "characters such as Mohamed Salah (also known as Mo Salah) are successful role models for young people."  

Football is the most popular sport in Egypt liked by both sexes. Egypt is expected to compete in the African Cup later this year, which the team has won seven times from 1957 – 2017 so far.

Nour party has been the dominant Islamist party in Egypt and is known for being loyal to the regime of president Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi. The party is represented in both the parliament and the senate.

Source: New Arab

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Erdoğan urges Islamic nations to put stronger will for Syria conflict

NOV 28, 2022

In order for Syria to get rid of conflict, humanitarian crisis, and terror spiral, Islamic countries should put stronger will and actively support a political solution, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said Monday.

Speaking at the 38th Ministerial Session of the Standing Committee for Economic and Commercial Cooperation (COMCEC) of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) in Istanbul, the president said that although the names, claims, and geographies of terrorist groups are different, they target Muslims. He also asked for strong support from COMCEC in Türkiye's struggle against "the enemies of Islam and humanity."

Türkiye is determined to root out the PKK terrorist organization, which also threatens the territorial integrity of Syria and Iraq, Erdoğan reiterated.

"We are determined to root out this terrorist organization, which poses a threat to the territorial integrity of Syria and Iraq, as well as our country," the president affirmed.

"The previous week, eight of our citizens, three of whom were children, were killed by the PKK in Istiklal Street and then in our Karkamış district."

"Of course, in this bloodshed, ... those who provide these terrorists with weapons and support (them) under the pretext of fighting against Daesh have a share, as much as the separatist terrorist organization," Erdoğan censured.

Erdoğan added: "Despite all warnings of Türkiye, the blood of every innocent who died has been smeared on the hands and faces of those who try to legitimize terrorist organizations with letter games."

He said the game of supporting the PKK and its affiliates under the guise of fighting Daesh, "which is known to be a project product from the very first day," must end.

Türkiye, which fought with Daesh on the field and defeated this organization, has no space for such arguments, the president stressed.

Recalling that Türkiye is fulfilling its duty by hosting over 3.5 million Syrian refugees on its lands and supporting millions of them within the borders of Syria, the president said: "In order for Syria to get rid of the spiral of conflict, humanitarian crisis, and terrorism, Islamic countries must show a stronger will and actively support the efforts for a political solution."

Earlier on Friday, Erdoğan said that Türkiye will complete a safe zone near its Syrian borders from east to west

Addressing an event marking International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, the president said: "We will complete the security belt we are creating beyond our borders from west to east."

"With the security belt we are creating beyond our borders, we also defend the rights of millions of innocent women and children."

"By completing this belt across all our borders from west to east as soon as possible, we ensure that both our own citizens and the people living there can look to their future with confidence," he added.

Recently Türkiye launched Operation Claw-Sword, a cross-border aerial campaign against the PKK terrorist group and its Syrian wing, the YPG, which have illegal hideouts across the Iraqi and Syrian borders where they plan and sometimes execute attacks on Turkish soil.

The country's air operation followed a PKK/YPG terrorist attack on Nov. 13 on Istanbul's crowded Istiklal Street that killed six people and left 81 injured.

After the air operation was launched, President Erdoğan also signaled a ground operation to northern Iraq and northern Syria to eliminate the terror threat, saying: "This is not limited to just an air operation."

The Turkish leader has threatened a new military operation into northern Syria since May and upped those threats in the wake of this month's attack. Erdoğan has repeatedly called for a 30-kilometer (18.6-mile) "safe zone" to protect Türkiye against cross-border attacks from Syrian territory.

"We know the identity, location and track record of the terrorists. We also know very well who patronizes, arms and encourages terrorists," Erdoğan also recently said, implying the U.S. support for the YPG.

The PKK is a designated terrorist organization in the United States, Türkiye and the European Union, and Washington's support for its Syrian affiliate has been a major strain on bilateral relations with Ankara. The PKK/YPG has controlled much of northeastern Syria after the forces of Syrian regime leader Bashar Assad withdrew in 2012. The U.S. primarily partnered with PKK/YPG terrorists in northeastern Syria in its fight against the Daesh terrorist group. On the other hand, Türkiye strongly opposed the PKK/YPG's presence in northern Syria.

Under the pretext of fighting Daesh, the U.S. has provided military training and given truckloads of military support to the PKK/YPG, despite its NATO ally's security concerns. Underlining that one cannot support one terrorist group to defeat another, Türkiye conducted its counterterrorism operations throughout, removing a significant number of terrorists from the region.

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

Russia-Ukraine war

Meanwhile, President Erdoğan also said that Türkiye works hard to end the war between Russia and Ukraine and to stop the bloodshed from the first day.

We have demonstrated that a diplomatic solution is possible by realizing the grain corridor and the prisoner exchange agreement over the Black Sea," he highlighted. On July 22, Türkiye, the United Nations, Russia, and Ukraine signed an agreement in Istanbul to resume grain exports from three Ukrainian Black Sea ports, which had been paused in February due to Russia's war on Ukraine.

Days before its scheduled expiration, the landmark grain deal was extended for another 120 days, beginning from Nov. 19.

Erdoğan said over 11 million tons of grain through the Black Sea were exported when the energy and food crisis affected the entire world.

"We believe that the extension of the Black Sea Grain Corridor Agreement for 120 days as of Nov. 19 will alleviate the suffering of our African brothers in particular. Hopefully, we will support this process by carrying out the grain shipment with priority to the African continent," he added.

Muslim Turkish minority in Greece

Erdoğan also said that for years, "unfair and unlawful" practices have continued against the Muslim Turkish minority in Greece.

He added that the religious leaders of the Turkish minority in Greece are not recognized, their foundations and property are seized, they are not allowed to teach their mother tongue, and their identities are denied.

"The Islamic world should no longer be a spectator to the plight of our brothers and sisters who were persecuted in Greece," he noted.

Greece's Western Thrace region is home to some 150,000 Muslim Turks, whose rights to elect their own religious leaders, found Turkish associations, and have their own schools have been denied by Athens, in violation of European court orders.

Palestinian issue

Turning to the Palestinian issue, Erdoğan said Türkiye supports the establishment of an independent, sovereign, and geographically integrated Palestinian state on the 1967 borders, with Jerusalem as its capital. "We are doing our best for the Palestinian people to have their own state and their legitimate rights, and to preserve the status quo in Jerusalem and Masjid al-Aqsa," he added.

Türkiye and Israel have taken steps to normalize ties, including restoring full diplomatic relations and reappointing ambassadors and consuls general after a four-year hiatus.

Source: Daily Sabah

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Turkiye, Egypt to restore full diplomatic ties, reappoint ambassadors

November 29, 2022

ANKARA: After years of tension, a handshake between Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan and Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi last week opened the door to a flurry of back-door diplomacy between intelligence officials, two sources said.

Intelligence delegations from the two sides met in Egypt at the weekend, said a regional source with knowledge of the matter who spoke on condition of anonymity.

The second source, a senior Turkish official, said “significant” discussions had begun between them, and Turkiye and Egypt are set to begin talks on military, political and commercial issues including energy projects.

Turkish government officials did not comment when asked about the Egypt meeting. Egypt’s foreign ministry did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu separately told reporters on Monday that Ankara and Cairo may restore full diplomatic ties and re-appoint ambassadors “in coming months”.

Diplomatic ties have been strained since Sisi, then Egypt’s army chief, led the 2013 ouster of Mohamed Mursi of the Muslim Brotherhood, who was strongly supported by Erdogan.

But Erdogan and Sisi shook hands on the sidelines of the World Cup in Qatar last week in what Cairo described as a new start in bilateral relations.

Source: Dawn

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Arab fans unite at FIFA World Cup after surprise wins in Qatar

29 November ,2022

Victories against the odds by Arab teams competing at the Middle East's first World Cup have inspired their supporters, bringing a rare sense of optimism and unity for fans from the Gulf to the Atlantic Ocean.

Saudi Arabia delivered the early shock of the tournament, defeating two-times World Cup champions Argentina, and Morocco then overcame second-ranked team Belgium - roared on by the vast majority of fans at both matches in Qatar.

With one match each left to play in their groups, both teams remain in strong contention to reach the knockout stage of the competition, the first time two Arab countries would have reached that far.

That chance to make history has forged a sense of solidarity among Arab supporters in Doha.

Mohammad al-Mansouri came from Spain to watch Morocco beat Belgium 2-0.

"Most of the congratulations..." he began "...were from Saudis!" said Saudi fan Faisal al-Ruwaili, draped in his country's green flag and finishing Mansouri's sentence for him.

"When Saudi Arabia play I am Saudi and when Morocco play, all the Arab people..." said Mansouri "...are Moroccans!" said Ruwaili, his arm around Mansouri's shoulder.

Mansouri said it felt as if Morocco and Saudi Arabia were both playing on home ground in Qatar, something which may have helped them reach new heights.

"Saudi Arabia played the best match in the history of the Arab world," he said, speaking in Doha's Souq al-Waqif market, where fans mingled in shops and restaurants, keeping one eye out on televisions for updates on matches.

Although hosts Qatar lost their opening two matches and were the first to be eliminated, a fourth Arab side, Tunisia, could still advance if they overcome France in a final group match on Wednesday. While the odds may be against them, they will not be short of support at the nearly 45,000-capacity Education City stadium on the western edge of Doha.

"Soccer unites nations. All Arab and Gulf people support any (Arab) team," said Saudi supporter Khaled al-Asaimi, echoing the tone set by the leaders of Qatar and Saudi Arabia at the start of the tournament.

Tensions between the two neigbours led Saudi Arabia and its allies to declare a travel and trade embargo on Qatar in 2017, a move only rescinded last year.

Qatar's emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani and Saudi Arabia's Prime Minister and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman wrapped scarves and flags of each other's country around them as they watched their teams play.

Source: Al Arabiya

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Syrian refugees under pressure to return face an uncertain future tinged with fear

November 28, 2022

DUBAI: When Amir left his war-ravaged hometown of Homs, western Syria, in 2013, he believed he was heading somewhere that would offer him and his family lasting security and sanctuary from his nation’s grinding civil war.

Packing what few belongings were left unscathed by the regime’s incessant barrel bombing, Amir boarded a bus bound for Lebanon with his sister, Alia, and her toddler, Omar, where the trio settled in a camp in Arsal, Baalbek.

“My brother is a proud man,” Alia told Arab News from her adopted home in Lebanon. “After our parents died under rubble, he took it upon himself to fend for us and to raise my son, Omar.”

In doing so, Amir and his family joined the ranks of millions of Syrians displaced by the civil war — the majority of whom have settled in neighboring Turkiye, Lebanon, Jordan, and Iraq, while others have struck out for Europe and beyond.

What started in 2011 as a peaceful protest movement demanding greater civic freedoms quickly escalated into one of the world’s bloodiest conflicts, with a death toll now numbering in the hundreds of thousands.

Another 100,000 people have disappeared, likely abducted by security service agents to be tortured and killed in Bashar Assad’s prisons. To date, around 13 million people have been displaced by the war — 5.6 million of them fleeing abroad.

Now, many of those countries that had offered sanctuary have devised plans to return their Syrian guests, either voluntarily or by force, despite warnings from aid agencies and refugees themselves that Syria remains unsafe and blighted by poverty.

Syrian refugees are viewed by the Assad regime and its loyalists as traitors and dissidents. Human rights monitors have identified cases of returnees being harassed, detained without charge, tortured, and even disappeared.

Nevertheless, countries like Lebanon, Turkiye and Denmark, grappling with their own economic pressures and rising anti-immigrant sentiments, have been upping the ante on Syrians to return home, claiming the civil war is now over.

In 2021, Denmark adopted a “zero asylum-seekers” policy, resulting in many Syrians who had been based there since 2015 having their residency status revoked, while others were removed to deportation facilities.

Struggling to take care of its own native population, the caretaker government of crisis-wracked Lebanon announced its own repatriation plan in October this year, with the aim of sending back 15,000 refugees per month.

The situation in Turkiye is no different, according to reports. Stories have emerged on social media of refugees being forced to sign voluntary return forms.

According to reports from the France-based advocacy group Syrians for Truth and Justice, Syrians dropped off at the Bab Al-Salama border crossing by Turkish authorities are classified as “voluntary returnees,” despite this being a regime-controlled crossing.

Returnees — voluntarily or otherwise — often face harassment, extortion, forced recruitment, torture and arbitrary arrest upon arrival on the regime side, irrespective of their age or gender.

Mazen Hamada, a high-profile activist and torture survivor who has testified about the horrors of Syrian regime prisons, mystified the world when he decided to return to Damascus in 2020.

Hamada, who long spoke of his mental torment following his release and his loneliness in exile, returned to Syria from the Netherlands under an amnesty agreement supposedly guaranteeing his freedom.

However, upon arrival in Damascus in February 2020, Hamada was arrested and has not been seen or heard from since.

Last year, human rights monitor Amnesty International released a report, titled “You’re returning to your death,” which documented serious violations committed by regime intelligence officers against 66 returnees, 13 of whom were children.

Five returnees had died while in custody, while the fate of 17 remains unknown. Fourteen cases of sexual assault were also recorded — seven of which included rape — perpetrated against five women, a teenage boy, and a five-year-old girl.

Voices for Displaced Syrians, another advocacy group based in Istanbul, published a study in February this year, titled “Is Syria safe for return? Returnees’ perspective,” based on interviews with 300 returnees and internally displaced persons across four governorates.

Their accounts outlined extreme human rights violations, physical and psychological abuses, and a lack of legal protections. Some 41 percent of respondents had returned to Syria voluntarily, while 42 percent said they had returned out of necessity, as a result of poor living conditions in their host country and a longing to reunify with family.

With regard to their treatment upon arrival, 17 percent reported they or a loved one had been arbitrarily arrested, 11 percent spoke of harassment and physical violence inflicted upon them or a family member, and 7 percent chose not to answer.

As for internally displaced persons, 46 percent reported they or a relative had been arrested, 30 percent recounted bodily harm, and 27 percent said they had faced persecution owing to their origins and hometowns. Many also reported difficulties reclaiming private property.

Despite the mounting body of evidence suggesting the regime is continuing to target civilians it considers dissidents, several countries are choosing to pursue normalization with Assad, lobbying for his rehabilitation into the Arab fold and reopening their embassies in Damascus.

For the relatives of returnees who have since gone missing, these developments smack of betrayal.

Amir, who eventually returned to Syria voluntarily, appears to have suffered the same fate as the activist Hamada. Tired of living in poverty in Lebanon, far from his extended family, he went back in Oct. 2021. He has not been heard from since.

“Life in Lebanon has become rather unbearable. Amir would return humiliated every time he left the house,” his sister Alia told Arab News.

Having initially lived in a UNHCR-provided tent in Arsal, Amir and his family finally managed to acquire a small one bedroom house near the camps. Alia said it was a constant struggle to scrimp together enough money to pay the rent.

Most refugees are unable to secure consistent employment due to their lack of official papers, which, under normal circumstances, would grant them residency and facilitate a stable income. Amir, like many working age men around him, resorted to hard manual labor.

Those who try to find work in the big cities risk being arrested at Lebanese checkpoints, imprisoned, and deported for staying in the country illegally.

Since Amir’s disappearance, Alia has been forced to make do on a single income cleaning houses.

“He couldn’t take it anymore, being spoken to like a little boy by some of his employers and the degrading comments he’d hear at times,” said Alia.

“It happens to me too, but I hold back my tongue. I cannot afford to stand up for myself. He thought he would take his chances and return to Syria in the hope of finding us a place, back to familiarity.”

She says she begged her brother not to leave, aware of the many refugees they knew personally who had been mistreated upon their return to Syria. Some had been held in prison until they made bail, while others had gone missing.
Source: Arab News

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Pakistan Army's decision to remain apolitical will shield it from 'vagaries of politics', says Gen Bajwa

Nov 28, 2022

ISLAMABAD: A day ahead his retirement, Pakistan's Army chief Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa has said that his decision to keep the military establishment "apolitical" will shield it "from the vagaries of politics" in the coup-prone country.

Gen Bajwa, 61, will retire on November 29 after a three-year extension.

Pakistan has appointed Lt Gen Asim Munir, a former as the new Army chief to succeed incumbent Gen Bajwa.

He emphasised that the Pakistan Army has restricted its role "to its constitutional mandated task only by deciding to make it apolitical."

"This decision, though being viewed negatively by a segment of society and led to personal criticism, will facilitate in reinvigorating and strengthening democratic culture, assisting in supporting state organs to effectively perform and deliver. Above all, this decision will help enhance the army's prestige in the long term,” Gen Bajwa said in an interview with the UAE-based newspaper Gulf News.

On Wednesday, in his final public address as Pakistan's Army chief, Gen Bajwa said the military establishment's “unconstitutional” interference in politics over the past 70 years was the reason why it drew criticism from the general masses and politicians.

"The Pakistan Army had always remained a dominant player in national decision-making. Due to its historic role in the country's politics, the military drew criticism from the public and politicians alike," he said in the interview.

His statement comes as the military establishment has in recent months reiterated that it has decided to remain apolitical.

The statements from the Army's top brass came amid accusations that it meddles in the country's politics, often favouring one political party or the other.

Gen Bajwa opined that public support and affinity towards the armed forces tended to erode when the military was seen to be involved in political affairs.

“Therefore, I considered it prudent to shield [the] Pakistan Army from the vagaries of politics in Pakistan," he said.

During his final public address at the Defence and Martyrs' Day ceremony in Rawalpindi to pay tribute to martyrs, Gen Bajwa extended an olive branch to those targeting the army by saying that "I want to move forward by forgetting it".

He urged all stakeholders to move ahead by learning lessons from the past mistakes.

“This is why in February last year the army, after great deliberation, decided that it would never interfere in any political matter. I assure you we are strictly adamant on this and will remain so,” he explained.

In the interview, Gen Bajwa acknowledged that while terrorism had abated in Pakistan, “we continue to make meaningful efforts to overcome the menace of extremism and residue of terrorism”.

He, however, cautioned against “streaks of political intolerance in our society is a worrisome new trend.”

“We will keep striving for a society which is tolerant, rational and does not discriminate on the basis of political orientation, faith, ethnicity or creed,” he said.

He also termed Pakistan's “economic frailty” as a cause for concern, saying it tended to “exacerbate other issues concerning human security such as health, education, access to food and clean water and mitigating threats posed by climate change”.

The outgoing Army chief spoke about the “delicate position” that Pakistan found itself in amid “the ever-sharpening global power contestation” between the United States and China.

“Pakistan is trying to steer itself prudently in this increasingly contested strategic environment and ensure that we are not pulled into any future iteration of [the] Cold War," he noted.

The Chief of the Army Staff (COAS) said the "perpetual conflict and instability" in South Asia has made the region "least integrated" despite its economic potential.

He noted that the region had been referred to as a “strategic chessboard” due to its role in great power rivalries in the past — the recent being the two decade-long ‘war on terror' in Afghanistan.

“Pakistan's western border has therefore seen a great deal of instability due to the conflict in Afghanistan. Post-US withdrawal, a modicum of stability has been seen in the country with a reduction in violence. However, the situation remains volatile," he added.

The powerful Army, which has ruled coup-prone Pakistan for more than half of its 75-plus years of existence, has hitherto wielded considerable power in matters of security and foreign policy.

Source: Times Of India

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MQM-P raises delimitation issue as PPP mulls response to PTI move

Syed Irfan Raza

November 29, 2022

ISLAMABAD: With political temperatures rising in the country in the wake of the PTI’s plan to dissolve the Punjab and Khyber Pak­htunkhwa assemblies, the leadership of two ruling allies in the centre, PPP and MQM-P, went into a huddle to plan their strategy with the former claiming to have Muttahida’s assurance it will stay in the coalition, and the latter raising the issue of ‘unfair’ delimitation of local government constituencies in Karachi and Hyderabad.

Former president Asif Ali Zardari along with Dr Asim Hussain and Saleem Mand­vi­walla represented the Pak­istan Peoples Party whereas Muttahida Qaumi Move­ment convener Khalid Maq­bool Siddiqui was acc­ompanied by IT Minister Syed Ami­nul Haque at the meeting.

On the occasion, Mr Siddiqui assured the former president that the MQM would continue to play its positive role in the government, according to a press release issued on Monday by the PPP Central Secreta­riat, that said both sides discussed current political situation and local elections in the Sindh province.

However, sources in the MQM-P told Dawn that the meeting was actually held last week, in wh­i­ch the party raised the issue of what it called unfair delimitation of local government constituencies in Kar­a­chi and Hyderabad and urg­ed Mr Zardari to direct his party’s government in Sindh to rectify the “injustices”.

The PPP in its press communiqué quoted the ex-president as saying that the reason of success of coalition government was that it was taking all the allies on board while taking major decisions.

A source privy to the meeting said the two sides also discussed the response of Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) member parties if no-confidence motion was moved in Punjab as hinted by Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah.

The PPP and MQM-P agreed that dissolution of Punjab assembly would not pose a big challenge to the PDM, as there would be by-polls on some seats, the source said. However, the source said, they believed the situation in KP would be quite difficult as re-election would be called in case of dissolution of KP assembly.

However, sources in the MQM-P said, the party leaders discussed the issue of upcoming local elections in Sindh and told Mr Zardari that it was unfair to hold local elections without first having fresh delimitation. In response, the PPP leader said he would instruct Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah, who was then out of the country, to address the grievances upon his return, the sources added.

Since certain PPP leaders believed the existing delimitation would favour them in the local elections, the MQM-P told Mr Zardari that it was the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) that gained more advantage than any other stakeholder, the Muttahida sources explained.

A source privy to the meeting told Dawn that at the time of success of no-confidence motion against the then premier Imran Khan, all Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) member parties, including the PPP, had assured the Muttahida that amendments would be made to local government laws before holding the polls in Sindh as MQM-P had demanded so. The source said not just the MQM but also the PTI was not ready to take part in the local elections unless ‘desired amendments’ were made to the laws.

The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) earlier announced that the second phase of local elections in Sindh would be held on Jan 15, 2023.

Source: Dawn

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Altaf versus ex-loyalists over London properties

Atika Rehman

November 29, 2022

LONDON: MQM leader Altaf Hussain on Monday faced former party loyalists in a UK high court over a property case.

The case has been brought by MQM-P leader and Federal Minister Syed Aminul Haque, former convener of the Altaf-led MQM Nadeem Nusrat and ex-confidante Tariq Mir. The case centres around seven north London properties to the tune of £10 million pounds which the ex-loyalists seek to claim.

According to the case file, Aminul Haque, the claimant, said that it’s the MQM-P whose “members are the beneficiary of bare trusts and/or resulting constructive trusts” — the structures that control the seven properties and all the benefit derived from the rental income or sale proceeds should have gone to MQM-P to benefit the “poor and needy people”.

The MQM-P maintains that this clause of the trust has been violated. The claimant, on behalf of MQM-P, said that he is seeking for himself and the MQM-P the removal of the trustees under the UK Trustees Act 1925 “for failing to act faithfully and for the benefit of the beneficiaries and or the trusts at all material times”.

In case Altaf loses this battle, it is believed that he will be left with nothing. In the event that the claimants are unsuccessful, they will have to bear the costs and legal fees of the defendant.

Altaf denies misappropriation and maintains that the properties were purchased with the use of funds given by ordinary MQM workers and donors.

“I have complete faith in my legal team, they are very competent,” Altaf told reporters outside the court on Monday.

He alleged that the case is a result of malafide intent and weak integrity from the claimants.

Both Altaf and Nusrat were seen going to court to record their evidence in the case.

Source: Dawn

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ECP bound to hold by-polls in case of PTI resignations, says official

Iftikhar A. Khan

November 29, 2022

ISLAMABAD: Any decision by Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) lawmakers to resign en masse from all four provincial assemblies will bind the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) to hold by-polls on all vacant seats within two months, legal experts believe.

They say Article 224(4) of the Constitution is very clear as it reads, “When, except by dissolution of the National Assembly or a Provincial Assembly, a seat in any such Assembly has become vacant not later than one hundred and twenty days before the term of that Assembly is due to expire, an election to fill the seat shall be held within sixty days from the occurrence of the vacancy”.

The seat will fall vacant only after the resignation has been accepted by the speaker.

A senior ECP official, when contacted, said the commission would strictly follow the law in such a case.

If all PTI lawmakers quit, subsequent electoral exercise will cost exchequer Rs25bn

“The ECP is fully ready for the next general elections and it would have no problem in conducting the bypolls [as well],” he emphasised.

Answering a question, he said the ECP had nothing to do with any decision on holding early general elections, which can only be taken at the political level.

In response to another question, he said an estimated Rs25 billion would be spent on the by-elections in case PTI lawmakers resigned from all the provincial assemblies.

“It would be a mini-general election,” he said, pointing out that the estimated expense on general elections would be around Rs47bn.

The ECP official agreed that it would be a gigantic task to hold such a massive electoral exercise only months before the general elections are due.

Mentioning the ECP’s schedule, he said the second phase of local government elections in Sindh is set to take place on Jan 15. However, he added, things could be managed by holding staggered polls.

“It is not a legal requirement to hold the elections on a single day,” he explained.

He, however, said that the situation would be different if the Punjab and Khyber Pakhtun­khwa assemblies were dissolved. In that case, he added, the two assemblies would be elected for a five-year term, and the elections would be held within 90 days of the dissolution.

Former Chairman Senate Mian Raza Rabbani, when contacted for comment, said the idea was still at the formulative stage and there’s many a slip ’twixt cup and lip. He said it has to be seen if the entire PTI parliamentary party agrees to Imran Khan’s proposal or not.

Mr Rabbani, who is a constitutional expert, said legally and politically, there was no requirement to call general elections, even if resignations were tendered en masse.

He said that under Article 224(4) it was the responsibility of the ECP to hold by-elections within 60 days when a member of a provincial assembly resigns from his seat.

A lawmaker from the ruling PDM coalition predicted that any such decision, if finalised, would create more rifts within the PTI.

Meanwhile, the ECP roundly denied issuing any official statement concerning the by-elections of national and provincial assemblies in case of the PTI lawmakers’ resignations.

A journalist had asked questions about the law, rules and expenditures to be incurred on holding the by-elections in case PTI quit the assemblies.

Source: Dawn

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Buffer zone to protect Badshahi Mosque, Lahore Fort

November 29, 2022

LAHORE: The Walled City of Lahore Authority (WCLA) is going to establish a buffer zone around Badshahi Mosque and the Lahore Fort to protect both the heritage sites.

WCLA Director General Kamran Lashari held a meeting with Commissioner Aamir Jan to discuss the matter of removal of Rim Market from the Fort Road.

He said the authority was taking measures to ensure safety of the international heritage and it would establish a buffer zone in and around the Badshahi Mosque and the Lahore Fort.

He said there were around 300 shops in the rim market on Fort Road which was creating problems for the tourists.

“A buffer zone would be established from the Lady Wellington Hospital to Badami Bagh Chowk.”

Mr Lashari said the market would be shifted to truck adaa near the Ring Road and the matter had been discussed with the shopkeepers. He said the shifting of the market had been discussed with the commissioner who would facilitate the authority to revive and protect the world heritage sites.

Mr Lashari said all the streets and residential localities would be modernised and all the electricity infrastructure, drain and sewerage towards the Delhi Gate would be developed underground. He said an underground parking lot would also be established at the Ali Park and the authority would rehabilitate the Summer Palace in the Lahore Fort besides a museum in the basement. He said the move would promote tourism and would also help the locals to have new avenues of earning by developing the area.

The WCLA DG said the tomb of Emperor Jahangir’s mother, Mariam Zamani, would also be opened for the tourists, all the encroachments would be removed around it and a garden would also be established. He added that the Akbari Gate, the main entrance to the Lahore Fort, would also be restored and the parking issue would also be resolved.

Source: Dawn

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Hezbollah official: Support for Palestine in Qatari World Cup tantamount to rejection of Israel existence

28 November 2022

A senior official of Lebanon's Hezbollah resistance movement says Arab fans’ refusal to speak with Israeli media reporters at the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 indicates rejection of the occupying regime’s existence and normalization deals, stressing that all forms of resistance will lead to Palestine’s victory.

Hezbollah Deputy Secretary General Sheikh Naim Qassem made the remarks in a string of Arabic-language tweets on Monday as anti-Israel sentiments are running high at the international sports tournament, with the occupying regime’s reporters saying an atmosphere of hatred and hostility is encouraging soccer fans to wave Palestinian flags in the Qatari stadiums amid refusal to speak to Israeli media.

“The scene of Arab citizens refusing interviews with Israeli correspondents in the World Cup in Qatar is an indication of the people’s refusal to normalize [ties] with the enemy,” Qassem wrote in the tweet.

“The youths’ resistance to normalization is an expression of the outright rejection of the existence of the Israeli entity in our region. The concerted efforts of the military, cultural, media and youth resistance will achieve victory and liberation for beloved Palestine,” he added.

Israeli media reporters and journalists have on multiple occasions confessed to being boycotted and yelled at by fans, locals, and officials at the World Cup in Qatar since the beginning of the international sports extravaganza.

In various videos and media clips, local and non-locals are seen standing behind Israeli reporters and raising Palestinian flags to protest against the occupying regime.

Apart from the boycott on Israeli media, large pro-Palestinian banners are displayed by soccer fans in almost entire stadiums in Qatar. Qatari fans and players have also been seen to wear armbands and ribbons featuring the Palestinian flag in rejection of normalization deals with the illegal entity.

Back in 2020, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain signed United States-brokered agreements with Israel to normalize their ties with the regime. Some other regional states, namely Sudan and Morocco, followed suit soon afterward.

Spearheaded by the UAE, the move has sparked widespread condemnations from the Palestinians as well as nations and human rights advocates across the globe, especially within the Muslim world.

Source: Press TV

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'Hezbollah biggest obstacle for Israel normalization; Palestinians won't allow al-Aqsa desecration'

28 November 2022

Deputy Chairman of the Executive Council of Hezbollah, Sheikh Nabil Qaouk, has confirmed that the resistance (of Lebanon) is the biggest obstacle to projects of normalization with the Israeli apartheid regime, noting that it is Israel's Benjamin Netanyahu who must fear the resistance, not the other way around.

He said that the Israeli regime’s declaration that it is not ready to confront Hezbollah in Lebanon is “an achievement for the resistance.”

However, he noted that, “The enemy's inability to confront Hezbollah has prompted the enemies of Lebanon to bet on creating chaos inside Lebanon.”

Commenting on the status quo in Lebanon and the need for a strong president who can confront hurdles facing the Arab country, he explained, “The country is in a state of chaos, and what is required is to elect a president whose priority is to save the country from the worst and from total collapse.”

Israel launched two wars against Lebanon in the 2000s. In both cases, it was forced to retreat after suffering a humiliating defeat at the hands of Hezbollah. Also recently in October, Israeli officials said that the regime was forced to kneel in front of Hezbollah after signing a maritime borders deal that would demarcate Lebanon’s southern maritime border and allow it to extract its oil and natural gas.

Around the same time, Israeli media said that the deal strengthens Hezbollah’s position on the domestic level, stressing that Hezbollah has once again proven that it can achieve its political and strategic goals in Lebanon and the region thanks to its military strength that cannot be weakened.

‘Palestinians will not allow desecration of al-Aqsa’

On a separate note, the preacher of the al-Aqsa Mosque, Sheikh Ekrima Sabri said that the Palestinian people will not allow Israeli settlers to desecrate al-Aqsa mosque.

He condemned the statements of head of the extremist Otzma Yehudit party, Itamar Ben-Gvir, labeling them as “racist and unacceptable”.

Ben-Gvir, who is set to become Israel's security minister, pledged to change the status quo at the al-Aqsa Mosque. He also vowed to change the instructions of firing at Palestinians and legalizing illegal settlement outposts in the West Bank.

Sheikh Sabri held Israel responsible for Ben-Gvir’s statements. He pointed out that his threats would lead to escalating Israeli attacks against Muslims at the al-Aqsa Mosque.

“The Palestinian people will continue defending the al-Aqsa Mosque against any violation,” he said, noting that they will confront the Israeli illegal settlers’ provocative attacks at the holy site.

Earlier on Monday morning, hordes of Jewish settlers broke into the al-Aqsa Mosque under tight protection of Israeli forces, while Arab citizens in the 1948 Occupied Palestine intensified their presence at the holy site to protect it against the settlers’ desecration.

Source: Press TV

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Israel torturing Palestinian children in detention centres, treating them as criminals: Fatah leader

29 November 2022

A leader of the Palestinian Fatah resistance movement says the Israeli regime is keeping hundreds of prisoners, including children, behind bars in prisons, stating that the minor detainees are subjected to various forms of torture and Israeli prison officials deal with them as criminals.

On Monday, Dr. Ayman al-Raqab, who is also a professor of political science at Quds University, denounced the Tel Aviv regime’s gross mistreatment of Palestinian children and flagrant violation of their rights, stating that the condition of Israeli detention centers and relevant policies contradict international principles and regulations.

Raqab noted that Israeli officials have subjected a number of jailed Palestinian children, including teenage girls, to brutal forms of torture, and treat them as serious criminals even though they are not of legal age.

Earlier this month, a Palestinian prisoners advocacy group said Israeli military forces arrested more than 750 Palestinian children during arrest campaign across the occupied West Bank and East al-Quds since the beginning of the current year

The Palestinian Prisoners' Society (PPS) said in a statement on November 19 that 160 children are still being held behind bars in Israeli detention centers, stating that some of the minors were first shot and injured before they were detained.

Among the detainees are three girls, of whom two are 16 years old and the third is 17, and five others, who are held in administrative detention.

The so-called administrative detainees are arrested on “secret evidence”, unaware of the accusations against them, and are not allowed to defend themselves in court. They are usually held for renewable six-month periods, often leading to years in detention.

Israeli authorities use torturous techniques even after transferring Palestinian detainees for interrogation and then to detention centers. Advocacy groups have also recorded various injuries endured by Palestinian detainees, some of whom were shot by the Israeli military.

Palestinian prisoners are held for lengthy periods without being charged, tried, or convicted, which is in sheer violation of human rights. Human rights groups describe Israel’s use of the administrative detention as a “bankrupt tactic” and have long called on Israel to end its use.

The Israeli Prison Service (IPS) keeps Palestinian prisoners under deplorable conditions lacking proper hygienic standards. They have also been subjected to systematic torture, harassment and repression all through the years of Israel’s occupation of the Palestinian territories.

Source: Press TV

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Erdogan-Sisi handshake sparks backlash from Turkey's Islamists

Semih Idiz

November 28, 2022

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s warm handshake with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi during the opening session of the FIFA World Cup in Qatar caused a major stir in Turkey.

Many see the move as the penultimate nail in the coffin of Erdogan’s Islamist foreign policy in the Middle East.

The final nail will be the meeting he is reportedly seeking with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, his one time archenemy.

During the Arab Spring in 2010 and 2011, Erdogan believed that the disgruntled Arab masses would bring the Muslim Brotherhood and its affiliates to power across the region and elevate him to the level of a key regional Islamic leader.

However, he misjudged the degree to which established Arab regimes viewed his approach with antipathy. Most Arab leaders have felt threatened by Erdogan’s brand of political Islam.

The Arab Spring failed to produce what Erdogan wanted. He now needs the support of these regimes to extricate Turkey from the economic morass his unorthodox policies have landed it in.

The move has gained added importance with presidential elections only six months ahead and followed by reconciliation with the United Arab Emirates (UAE), after a decade of acrimonious exchanges and patching up his differences with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. In order to facilitate the Saudi rapprochement, he stopped championing the cause of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi who was murdered in the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul in October 2018.

Despite historic links, relations between Turkey and Egypt plummeted after Mohammed Morsi, the democratically elected Egyptian president, was toppled in 2013 by Sisi, who headed the military at the time.

Erdogan vowed not to forgive Sisi for ousting Morsi and shutting down his Muslim Brotherhood based government.

“There are those who want to reconcile me with Sisi. I reject this,” Erdogan said in an address in March 2019. “I refuse to meet with an antidemocratic person who condemned Morsi and his friends to prison,” he added.

However, as the balance of power in the eastern Mediterranean turned against Turkey to Greece’s advantage, and the cost of regional isolation increased, Erdogan was forced to change tack.

Aware of Turkey’s geostrategic importance and the investment opportunities it provides, Saudi Arabia and the UAE also responded positively to Erdogan’s outreach.

High-level contacts and state visits between Turkey and the UAE and Turkey and Saudi Arabia have been exchanged and multiple cooperation agreements signed.

Reuters reported this week that Riyadh is to put a $5 billion deposit at Turkey's central bank.

This is good news for cash-strapped Ankara and will help Erdogan convince his supporters that good ties with formerly estranged Arab regimes is the right way to go. Meanwhile, Qatar and the UAE have also been putting billions into Turkey.

Statements issued by Ankara and Cairo after the clasping of hands in Doha indicated that the sides were on the cusp of a new era in ties.

Erdogan was also happy with this turn of events. “We gave our go-ahead for this [reconciliation] process to begin. We took a step [in Doha] for it to start. My hope is that … we can carry it now to a good point,” Erdogan told reporters as he flew home from Qatar.

Talking to young party supporters in Konya Nov. 28 Erdogan said information reaching him indicated that Sisi was also extremely pleased with their meeting which was arranged by the Emir of Qatar Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani.

“After this we can enter such a road with Syria also the way we did with Egypt” Erdogan said adding “that there was no place for lasting quarrels in politics.”

Erdogan’s about-face on Sisi was immediately lambasted by opposition parties and his critics in Turkey. Most approved of this reconciliation as being a rational move but argued that it had come belatedly.

In the meantime, Turkey had lost regional influence and saw its economy harmed, they said. The time wasted also resulted in key Arab states deepening ties with Turkey’s rivals Greece and Cyprus in order to counterbalance Erdogan’s regional ambitions.

Veteran columnist Fehmi Koru, who stood close to Erdogan once, believes that while it was appropriate for Ankara to criticize the coup that toppled Morsi, “it went overboard.”

Underestimating Egypt came at a high cost to Turkey, Koru argued. “The most important foreign policy mistake of the past decade in the region resulted in alliances emerging that were unforeseen by Turkey. Our traditional friends became enemies, while our traditional enemies became friends,” Koru wrote on his personal webpage.

Osman Sert, who served as press secretary to former Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, said it was unnatural for two key regional countries such as Turkey and Egypt to be estranged.

Supporting the Erdogan-Sisi meeting, Sert, nevertheless, underlined that this provided a fine example of Erdogan’s inconsistencies. “Continually saying things that you won’t or can’t do and then going on to do the opposite is not politics. To the contrary, this is a lack of politics,” Sert wrote in his column in Karar daily

Not all of Erdogan’s grassroots supporters are pleased with the reconciliation in Doha.

Aware that the main losers will be the Muslim Brotherhood and its offshoots, Turkey’s Islamist quarters are disgruntled. Ali Karahasanoglu, the firebrand editor of the pro-government daily Yeni Akit, reflected their disappointment. “I was devastated when I saw that picture. I was devastated in the name of all Muslims. … I was saddened and devastated to see Erdogan abandon his struggle of the past nine years,” Karahasanoglu wrote.

Strong views such as these have prompted Erdogan’s acolytes to try and avert a backlash from his traditional support base in the lead-up to the elections.

They argue that meeting Sisi and Assad will serve Turkey’s interests and help Ankara stabilize the economy as well as solving the problem of Syrian refugees.

There are still differences between Ankara and Cairo to be overcome. The questions of Libya and of hydrocarbons exploration rights in the eastern Mediterranean are two key examples.

Source: Al Monitor

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More than 300 dead in Iran unrests since protests: Revolutionary Guards general

29 November ,2022

More than 300 people have been killed in Iran since protests erupted over the death in morality police custody of Mahsa Amini on September 16, a Revolutionary Guards general said Tuesday.

“Everyone in the country has been affected by the death of this lady. I don’t have the latest figures, but I think we have had perhaps more than 300 martyrs and people killed in this country, including children, since this incident,” Brigadier General Amirali Hajizadeh, head of the Guards’ aerospace division, said in a video published by the Mehr news agency.

The toll includes dozens of police, troops and militia killed in clashes with demonstrators or murdered.

The latest official toll is much closer to the figure of at least 416 “killed in the suppression of protests in Iran” published by Oslo-based group Iran Human Rights.

Source: Al Arabiya

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Three Palestinians killed by Israeli fire in occupied West Bank : Health ministry

29 November ,2022

Three Palestinians were killed by Israeli troops in the occupied West Bank Tuesday, the Palestinian health ministry said, the latest deaths in a sharp uptick in violence in the occupied territory.

Two brothers were killed by Israeli fire in Kafr Ein, near Ramallah, while a third man died of bullet wounds to the head fired by Israeli troops in Beit Ummar, near the flashpoint city of Hebron, the ministry said.

Commenting on the Beit Ummar clash, the Israeli army said it had opened fire on “rioters” who “hurled rocks and improvised explosive devices at the soldiers” after two vehicles got stuck during an “operation patrol” in the area.

The Palestinian ministry said a man it did not identify had died “after being shot in the head.”

It named the dead in Kafr Ein as brothers Jawad Abdulrahman Rimawi, 22, and Dhafer Abdul Rahman Rimawi, 21.

There was no immediate comment from the Israeli army.

Palestinian Authority civil affairs minister Hussein Al Sheikh described the killing of the two brothers as an “execution in cold blood.”

Hamas said the Israeli “escalation” would be “confronted by escalating resistance” from Palestinians.

Violence has flared this year in the West Bank, where the Israeli army has launched near-daily raids across the territory.

This week the army announced it had made more than 3,000 arrests this year as part of Operation Break the Wave, a campaign it launched following a series of deadly attacks against Israeli civilians.

Source: Al Arabiya

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Three Israeli soldiers detained for suspected revenge attack on Palestinians

29 November ,2022

Three Israeli soldiers were detained on Monday, the military said, after allegedly hurling an improvised bomb at Palestinians near the West Bank city of Bethlehem as revenge for the seizing of the body of a teenager last week.

On Wednesday, in the occupied West Bank, which has seen an intensification of violence since March, Palestinian gunmen seized the body of an Israeli Druze high-schooler from a hospital in the town of Jenin where he had been taken after a car accident, according to the Israeli army.

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The incident fueled expectations that the military could launch an assault to recover the teenager’s body. But it was quietly returned after some 30 hours following negotiations that, according to a diplomat, had involved the United Nations.

The gunmen did not announce their motivation, but Palestinians demonstrated in Jenin the same day, demanding the release of remains of their relatives which they said Israel was holding. The Druze are an Arab community in Israel whose members serve in its armed forces.

The Israeli military said in a statement that it had launched an investigation into the attack on Palestinians near Bethlehem on Monday by Israeli Druze soldiers but could not provide further details.

Source: Al Arabiya

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Iran football legend Ali Daei targeted by ‘threats’ after backing protests

28 November ,2022

Iranian football legend Ali Daei on Monday said he had been targeted by threats after backing ongoing protests in Iran triggered by the death of Mahsa Amini.

Amini, a 22-year-old Iranian of Kurdish origin, died on September 16, three days after her arrest by the notorious morality police while visiting Tehran with her younger brother.

Daei, whose 109 goals at international level was long unsurpassed until he was overtaken by Cristiano Ronaldo, played in Iran’s legendary 1998 2-1 World Cup victory against the United States.

He decided not be go to the World Cup in Qatar due to the Iranian authorities' deadly crackdown on the protests.

“I have received numerous threats against myself and my family in recent months and days from some organizations, medias and unknown individuals,” Daei said in a statement on Instagram.

“I was taught humanity, honor, patriotism and freedom.... What do you want to achieve with such threats?” he added.

In the post, Daei also called for the “unconditional release” of prisoners arrested in the crackdown on the protests in Iran.

Daei earlier this month said he would not be travelling to Qatar for the World Cup, despite having an invitation from the organizers, saying he wanted to be “with my compatriots and express sympathy with all those who have lost loved ones” in the ongoing crackdown.

His comments come as Iran prepares to face the United States on Tuesday, in a repeat of the 1998 showdown, with ‘Team Melli’ seeking to reach the final stages of a World Cup for the first time in its history.

There has been intense scrutiny on football as the protests continue in Iran, posing the biggest challenge to the regime since the 1979 revolution.

Daei himself reportedly had his passport confiscated when returning to Iran in the early phase of the protests but subsequently had it returned.

Prominent Iranian footballer of Kurdish origin Voria Ghafouri, who has been outspoken in his support of the protests, was arrested last week.

Source: Al Arabiya

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Palestine's UN envoy calls Israel's incoming government 'fascist'

Betul Yuruk  



Palestine's UN Envoy Riyad Mansour labelled Israel's incoming government as "fascist" on Monday, which is likely to be led by former prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

"There will be fascists holding cabinet positions in the Israeli side," Mansour told reporters. "The attacks against the Palestinian people will increase".

He said that the situation will "move from bad to worse" and called on the UN Security Council to deal with Israel's new government in a different way to protect the Palestinian people.

Israeli Prime Minister-designate Benjamin Netanyahu started negotiations with the right-wing bloc leaders to form a coalition government after winning a majority in the Knesset earlier this month.

UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process Tor Wennesland sounded alarm by the intensity of violence in the occupied West Bank in his briefing to the Security Council.

"After decades of persistent violence, illegal settlement expansion, dormant negotiations and deepening occupation, the conflict is again reaching a boiling point," Wennesland said.

"High levels of violence in the occupied West Bank and Israel in recent months, including attacks against Israeli and Palestinian civilians, increased use of arms, and settler-related violence, have caused grave human suffering," he added.

Wennesland said that he has not yet had any discussions with the incoming Israeli government.

Source: Anadolu Agency

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Netanyahu to do everything to avoid prison: Israeli prime minister

Abdelraouf Arnaout  



Prime Minister-designate Benjamin Netanyahu will do everything to avoid imprisonment, outgoing Israeli Premier Yair Lapid said on Monday.

Addressing a conference in Jerusalem, Lapid said Netanyahu will seek to carry out judicial reforms to appoint judges to look into his corruption cases.

"The bottom line is he will become the second prime minister in the country's history to go to prison," Lapid said.

“There is nothing he won't do to prevent this," he added.

Netanyahu has been facing charges of fraud, bribery, and breach of trust since 2020, accusations he vehemently denies.

Ehud Olmert was the first Israeli prime minister to enter jail over corruption charges.

Source: Anadolu Agency

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South Asia


Rohingya Muslims stuck between Myanmar’s military junta, rebel Arakan Army

Halil Ibrahim Medet  


After suffering decades of oppression, Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar are now caught between two fires from the country’s repressive military junta and the rebel Buddhist Arakan Army, according to local Arakanese activists.

The UN and other international human rights organizations have called the violence against the country’s Rohingya “ethnic cleansing” or “genocide,” saying the Muslim group is “the most persecuted minority in the world.”

Mohammed Rafik and Nay San Lwin, Arakanese activists spoke with Anadolu Agency about the rights violations that Rohingya Muslims have been facing since the February 2021 military coup.

Human rights violations

Saying that what has been done to Arakanese society is not new, Rafik stressed: “In addition to human rights violations, numerous military campaigns have been carried out to eliminate and render Arakanese Muslims stateless in their own country and in neighboring countries where they have taken refuge.”

“Calling them the 'most persecuted' doesn’t solve the problems,” he said, adding: “The UN has failed on the issue of Arakanese society.”

“With the exception of a few 'concerns' that have reached the deaf ears of the oppressors in Myanmar, justice has not been achieved for this community,” he underlined.

“In 1978, about 300,000 Rohingya Muslims were deported to Bangladesh with Operation Dragon King (Nagamin).

“In 1982, a citizenship law was passed and the citizenship of the Rohingya Muslims was taken away overnight,” he stated.

“Deprived of basic rights such as health services, education, and the right to property, the Rohingya were also left vulnerable to torture and harassment,” he stressed.

“Gen. Than Shwe similarly forced more than 200,000 Rohingya, including me and my family, to leave the country with Operation Clean and Beautiful Nation in 1991-1992,” he said.

Rafik underlined that President Thein Sein, who served from 2011 to 2016 after an election held by the army, also displaced 120,000 Rohingya Muslims with "systematic policies.”

"About 100,000 of them live in internally displaced persons camps. These rights of Arakanese Muslims, who had the right to vote and be elected from independence in 1948 until 2015, were completely taken away,” he lamented.

“Between 2016 and 2017, two more major genocide campaigns were carried out,” he continued.

“Due to these two campaigns, 75% of the population of Arakan (Rakhine state) was displaced and became asylum seekers in Bangladesh.”

Bringing the story to the present day, he said: “In November 2022, the army declared empty Arakanese villages property of the border forces. The Rohingya, who were once equal citizens of Myanmar, are now deprived of citizenship, their homes, and basic human rights."

Pointing out that Rohingya Muslims are still the "largest, only Muslim community" that has been stripped of citizenship in Myanmar, Rafik added: "One of the policies of successive governments since 1962 is to refuse to grant citizenship to Rohingya Muslims.”

“Other Muslims living in different parts of Myanmar have citizenship and basic human rights. They are also being targeted due to hate campaigns spread by extremist Buddhist monks in the early 2000s, but their citizenship has never been taken away," he said.

Targeted by both junta regime, rebel Arakan Army

During clashes between the Buddhist Arakan Army and government forces, Arakan villages in Rakhine state have become battlefields.

Most of the Rohingya Muslim villages have been emptied, and those still living in the villages that have now become battlegrounds have also been forced to flee, he said.

"The Arakan Army, a Buddhist militant group, currently controls most of the state of Arakan and frequently clashes with the Myanmar army,” Rafik said.

“The army has been carrying out atrocities against Muslims in the region since its establishment in 2009.

“Rohingya Muslims are forced to escape from their villages and homes to save their loved ones in the war between the Myanmar army and the Buddhist Rohingya Army," he underlined.

The activist stressed that the Arakan Army "quickly seized the province and declared its own legislature, judiciary, and administration," adding: "The Arakan Army began collecting taxes from Arakan Muslims, who also had to pay taxes to the military-controlled government. There is now a double taxation for Arakanese society."

Continued oppression

For his part, Nay San Lwin also said Myanmar’s junta regime flouts the rulings of the International Court of Justice in The Hague.

“Following this decision, the government stopped punishing Rohingya Muslims who ran away but the junta started to sentence these Muslim people after the military coup,” he said, adding that prison sentences that began with six months were increased first to two years and then to five.

“So, the effect of the military coup has become more oppression against Arakanese,” he criticized.

“The army committed the crime of carrying out a genocide and aimed to destroy all Rohingya Muslims.

“Now they are talking about bringing them back to the country but the army has created an insecure environment already,” he said.

On Feb. 1, 2021, Aung San Suu Kyi’s government was deposed in a military coup after her National League for Democracy party’s victory in national elections the previous November.

The coup was met with widespread civic unrest, as people denounced her removal and military rule. The junta repressed the protests violently, with the UN warning that the country had descended into civil war.

Source: Anadolu Agency

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Afghan Taliban to Host Female Pakistan Minister for Bilateral Talks

November 28, 2022


A high-level Pakistani delegation will visit Afghanistan on Tuesday to discuss with the ruling Islamist Taliban cooperation in trade, education, investment, regional connectivity and security.

Officials in Islamabad said Monday that Hina Rabbani Khar, the female Pakistani minister of state for foreign affairs, will lead the daylong meetings with leaders of the men-only Taliban government in Kabul.

Khar will also renew Pakistan's "continued commitment and support" for strengthening Afghan peace and prosperity, said the foreign ministry statement.

"As a friend and neighbor of Afghanistan, Pakistan will reaffirm its abiding solidarity with the people of Afghanistan, in particular through its efforts to ease the humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan and to create real opportunities for economic prosperity of Afghan men, women and children," the statement added.

Khar is scheduled to meet Taliban Foreign Minister Amir Khan Muttaqi and Prime Minister Mullah Hassan Akhund.

"The high-ranking Pakistani delegation is arriving tomorrow to discuss political and economic relations between the two countries," Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid confirmed on Twitter.

The visit comes amid intensified international criticism and calls for the Taliban administration to reverse its curbs on women and girls' fundamental rights to public life and education.

Last week, a panel of independent experts at the United Nations denounced the restrictions as "the most severe and unacceptable" in the world, warning the Taliban that their treatment of women and girls could amount to a "crime against humanity."

The Islamist rulers rejected the criticism of their governance, saying it is compliant with Afghan culture and Islamic law. The Taliban regained power in August 2021 from the then-U.S. backed Afghan government as the United States, along with NATO allies, withdrew their troops from the country after battling the insurgent group for almost two decades.

Pakistan's latest round of talks with the Taliban comes just days after deadly clashes between border security forces of the two countries. The tensions had prompted Islamabad to temporarily seal two out of several border crossings with Afghanistan earlier this month.

The landlocked nation mostly relies on Pakistani overland routes and seaports for bilateral and international trade.

Border tensions between the two South Asian nations are not uncommon along their 2,600-kilometer frontier. Afghanistan disputes the more than a century-old boundary drawn by British colonial rulers.

Pakistan rejects Afghan objections and calls the demarcation an international border, and so does the rest of the world.

While several countries, including Pakistan, Russia, China, Turkey, Qatar and Iran, have kept their embassies open in Kabul since the return of the Taliban rule, the world at large has not yet recognized the new government over human rights and terrorism-related concerns.

Officials in Islamabad, however, downplay mutual tensions stemming from border and security concerns. They maintain the two issues would come under discussion but the focus of Khar's meetings in Kabul would be to exchange views on projects that could help promote bilateral economic connectivity.

Despite prevailing skepticism, Pakistan says it is determined to boost economic and security cooperation with the Taliban to help sustain fragile peace and stability after four decades of deadly hostilities in Afghanistan.

Islamabad says economic stability is key to deterring cross-border terrorism and preventing an influx of refugees to Pakistan, which already hosts nearly 3 million Afghans, both as refugees and economic migrants.

Pakistani authorities have recently removed tariffs and eased visa rules to facilitate bilateral as well as Afghan transit to address a humanitarian crisis in the neighboring country where the United Nations warns millions of people face acute food shortages.

Islamabad has also increased Afghan coal imports since the Taliban returned to power, tilting the annual trade balance in favor of Kabul for the first time in the history of bilateral relations. The annual trade volume as of Monday stood at more than $1.5 billion, with Afghan exports to Pakistan worth more than $800 million.

The change is attributed mainly to increased purchases of Afghan coal in the wake of rising global prices in a bid to reduce Pakistan's dependence on expensive supplies from countries such as South Africa.

Traders say about 10,000 metric tons of coal is being exported daily to Pakistan, helping the Taliban generate much needed revenue to govern the country.

Source: VOA News

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China-Pakistan Science and Technology cooperation centre inaugurated in Beijing

November 28, 2022

BEIJING: China-Pakistan Science and Technology Cooperation Centre was inaugurated here on Monday to facilitate the Chinese technology companies to conduct businesses in Pakistan, strengthening bilateral ties and acting as a bridge between the youth of two countries.

Pakistan Ambassador to China, Moin ul Haque and President of Zhongguancun Belt and Road Industrial Promotion Association (ZBRA), Zhang Xiaodong inaugurated the center while Special Technology Zones Authority (STZA) joined virtually from Pakistan.

The center, a joint project by ZBRA and STZA, will act as a platform between China and Pakistan for facilitating the Chinese technology companies to conduct businesses in special technology zones (STZs) in Pakistan; strengthening bilateral ties in cooperation in science and technology; assisting Chinese technology companies in terms of regulatory landscape of Pakistan; and acting as a bridge between the youth of the two countries.

Addressing the audience, Ambassador Moin ul Haque spoke at length about the increased importance of science and technology cooperation in the bilateral economic and development agenda, including under China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).

He briefed about the government’s vision to create a digital ecosystem with infrastructure and institutional frameworks by ensuring the availability of accessible, affordable, reliable and high-quality ICT services.

The overarching objective remains improving citizen’s quality of life and their economic well-being. In this regard, he highlighted that the Pakistani youth, forming 60% of the total population, who are skilled, computer-literate and tech-savvy would play an important role in strengthening the bilateral science and technology cooperation.

Other speakers included Liu Jianxing, Director of International Cooperation, National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC); Zhang Xiaodong, President ZBRA; Hamza Saeed, Director Strategic Planning, STZA; and Yang Dongri, Director of China Center for Information Industry Development Institute, Ministry of Industry and Information Technology.

During their remarks, the speakers highlighted various aspects of high-quality development cooperation between Pakistan and China and the role of IT, and science and technology in further strengthening this developmental agenda. They put forth their suggestions to further enhance the effective working of the newly-inaugurated Centre.

Source: Pakistan Today

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Islamic Emirate Seeks China’s Cooperation for Wakhan Trade Route

November 29, 2022

The Ministry of Industry and Commerce (MoIC) said that the Islamic Emirate is ready for a Wakhan trade route and calls on China to accelerate its cooperation in creating it.

In a video released by the MoIC, the acting Minister of Industry and Commerce, Nooruddin Azizi, said that a Wakhan trade route could promote trade between China and Afghanistan.

"Undoubtedly, the Wakhan Corridor or historic Silk road can increase the level of trade between the two countries and become a reliable route for the transit of goods,” he said. 

The Ministry of Economy (MoE) said that Afghanistan would benefit from the implementation of a Wakhan trade route.

“The connection of Afghanistan with the One Belt One Road initiatives or Silk Road benefits Afghan stability and development,” said Abdul Latif Nazari, deputy Minister of Economy.

The Wakhan route is part of the historic Silk road that connects China to the European countries through Afghanistan.

The Afghanistan Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCI) said that the Wakhan route would be less cost for traders and that Afghanistan should become part of the Silk road.

“It is really important on the economic side. It benefits all the countries through which it passes, including Afghanistan, China, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Pakistan, as well as Iran and Azerbaijan,” said Khanjan Alokozai, a member of the ACCI.

Source: Tolo News

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U.S official attends Herat Security Dialogue in Tajikistan

November 29, 2022

The U.S Charge D’affairs, Karen Decker has confirmed her participation in the Herat Security Dialogue, a two day event by the Afghan institute of strategic studies in Dushanbe, Tajikistan.

The Herat Security Dialogue has been an annual pilgrimage since 2012; it is great to have an opportunity to exchange views on the situation in Afghanistan with representatives from Afghanistan, Tajikistan, regional countries, and the EU, Karen Decker tweeted.

I am here to listen, but I will be prepared to reiterate America’s strong support for the Afghan people and for an Afghanistan at peace with itself and its neighbors, she said.

According to a statement by the Afghan institute of strategic studies, the the main discussion topics in this event is to discuss about an inclusive political system for Afghanistan, different models and road maps.

Political groups representatives, subject matter experts and the representatives of the countries involved in Afghanistan’s affairs are invited to attend the event, AISS press statement said.

This comes as that Pakistani media outlets earlier reported that Mohsen Dawar, a member of Pakistan’s parliament who was invited to this event has not been permitted by the government to attend.

Mohsin Dawar, a member of Pakistan’s National Assembly stated in a tweet on Sunday, November 27, that he was “stopped” at the Islamabad airport and “prevented” from attending the security conference abroad.

At the same time, sources have told Afghanistan International, an online TV reporting on Afghanistan from the United States of America that Amir Ismail Khan, an influential Afghan political figure who lives in Mashad of Iran has also not been permitted to attend this event by the Iranian government.

Source: Khaama Press

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Sudan's military leader freezes unions to curb Islamists' influence

November 29, 2022

KHARTOUM, Nov 28 (Reuters) - Sudan's military leader issued decrees on Monday to freeze the activities of trade unions, control their finances and take over their leadership, according to a statement by the ruling sovereign council he heads.

The move would sideline former ruling Islamists after their resurgence in the civil service, in the aftermath of the 2021 military takeover, and the re-establishment of unions they had dominated.

General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan ordered the formation of a committee to review and take control of the finances of the unions inside Sudan and abroad.

The committee would also form steering committees for the unions until their general assemblies were held.

The military takeover halted Sudan's transition to democracy following the overthrow of Omar al-Bashir in 2019, and plunged an economy already in crisis further into turmoil.

In the years since Bashir was toppled several professions, such as journalists and lawyers, have begun the process of rebuilding their unions. Since the coup, Islamists have also moved to reconstitute unions they had controlled that were dissolved under the transitional government.

Burhan's orders on Monday seems to be an attempt to curb the Islamists' influence, making sure they do not attempt a return to power. The military says it will give up power when a government is in place.

Burhan issued this month a stern warning to Islamists and other political factions against any interference in the military, amid talks with civilian parties to form a non-partisan government.

Military leaders and the parties they shared power with before the coup say talks are ongoing towards a new political settlement to end the deadlock that has gripped the country since October 2021.

Source: Reuters

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Terrorists kill 8 in Somali, including dual British citizens, before hotel siege ended

Mohammed Dhaysane  



A terrorist siege of a popular hotel in Somalia’s capital on Monday killed eight civilians, including two UK-Somali dual citizens, before security forces ended the attack, said police officials and relatives of the victims.

One soldier was also killed in efforts to retake the Villa Rays Hotel, Somali Federal Police spokesman Sadik Dodishe told a news conference in the capital Mogadishu.

Out of six attackers, five were shot dead by security forces and one blew himself up, he added.

He added that security forces rescued 60 people during the operation.

The siege ended more than 20 hours after the terrorists blasted their way into the hotel in the capital.

According to local media and victims’ relatives, among the people killed in the attack were two British-Somali dual citizens.

The hotel is located in Somalia’s most protected neighborhood, close the presidential palace.

Source: Anadolu Agency

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UN experts urge South Sudan to probe senior officials for abetting sexual violence

Benjamin Takpiny 


JUBA, South Sudan

The United Nations Commission on Human Rights urged South Sudan on Monday to investigate senior officials suspected of abetting sexual violence.

“If the government of South Sudan is serious about tackling sexual violence, it should immediately remove from office and investigate governors and county commissioners credibly alleged to be complicit in systematic rape,” said a statement issued by UN experts.

Yasmin Sooka, the chairperson of the UN Commission on Human Rights in South Sudan, said many women in South Sudan have been repeatedly gang raped year after year since 2013.

Sooka disclosed that the rape victims have been shunned and stigmatized, leaving them to suffer in silence while the men responsible are promoted and rewarded.

She faulted the government for only paying lip service against sexual violence by making an array of declarations, national commitments and pledges.

“It is not enough, now and again, to try a handful of junior officers without holding those in command responsible,” she said.

The commission noted that survivors it interviewed repeatedly expressed extreme fatigue with having to tell their stories again and again and nothing changing as a result.

“Victims are tired of talking,” said one man in Unity state, adding “arrest people who are killing other people first before you talk about healing.”

A report by the commission titled "Conflict-related sexual violence against women and girls in South Sudan" was published on March 21 this year.

South Sudan's Information Minister Michael Makuei Lueth dismissed the commission's statement, however, saying such reports are released to tarnish the government’s image.

“I am saying these are false reports fabricated against the government. They are done to tarnish the image of South Sudan. There is nothing new on it," Lueth told Anadolu Agency by phone from the capital, Juba.

Commissioner Andrew Clapham said that this year, they have seen the most dehumanizing sexual violence in South Sudan, for which the government bears responsibility because of its failure over many years to hold individuals accountable, especially in Unity state, “where we are dealing with gross and systematic human rights violations amounting to international crimes.”

“South Sudanese are begging the international community to help them in pressuring their leaders to sanction these individuals and remove the people responsible from office. Tragically, victims ask us to speak out and say what they are afraid to say,” said Clapham.

South Sudan’s Ministry of Gender, Child and Social Welfare said last week that it had recorded more than 6,000 cases of gender-based violence (GBV) between January and November 2021.

Minister of Gender, Child and Social Welfare Aya Benjamin Warille said the police recorded cases of rape and physical violence across the country.

While GBV-related crimes are a persistent issue in South Sudan, delays in reporting or underreporting owing to fear and stigma exacerbate the crisis and may escalate sexual assault, particularly in remote areas.

Warille disclosed that many cases have not been reported due to stigma and cultural norms.

Source: Anadolu Agency

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Somali troops overpower militants to end hotel siege

November 28, 2022

MOGADISHU: Somali security forces stormed a hotel in the capital on Monday to end a near day-long siege by Al-Shabab militants who killed nine people at the building near the president’s residence in the capital, police said.

A Briton is reported to have died in the siege, where Somalian security forces, who are trained by the US and Turkey, were under orders to “eliminate” the militants who stormed it yesterday.

Mohamed Sayid Hassan Elmi, who lives in Birmingham, was named locally as one of the victims at Villa Rose Hotel.

Gunfire crackled from inside the hotel as the special forces fought the militants more than 12 hours after the Islamist group stormed the building in the center of Mogadishu.

A police spokesperson said 60 civilians had been rescued, while a government minister said he and others had kicked down a door to escape after being caught in the hotel following evening prayers when a suicide bomber struck and the gunbattle broke out.

The assault underscores the continuing ability of the Al-Qaeda-allied militants to stage deadly attacks with sometimes high casualties inside the city even as President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud’s government presses an offensive against them.

“The operation at the hotel Rose has been concluded,” Sadik Aden Ali, the police spokesperson said, referring to the Villa Rose hotel where the siege occurred.

Ali said the militants had killed eight civilians and later added that one soldier had also died in the siege. Five soldiers were injured, he said.

Six Al-Shabab fighters had been involved in the attack, with one blowing himself up and five shot dead by the security forces, Ali said.

Al Qaeda-linked Al-Shabab, which controls swathes of the country, claimed responsibility for the attack, saying in a statement that it was targeting the nearby presidential palace.

Al Shabab, which is seeking to topple the government and establish its own rule based on an extreme interpretation of Islamic law, frequently stages attacks in Mogadishu and elsewhere.

Government officials in Mogadishu often use the Villa Rose hotel for meetings. Some officials also live there.

Somalia’s environment minister Adam Aw Hirsi said the assault on the hotel, where he lives, began with a deafening explosion by a suicide bomber who was followed by militants on foot to breach the perimeter of the heavily guarded hotel.

“I had exited the hotel mosque where we performed the evening prayer in congregation when the explosion hit. The roof of the VIP room I was in flew and glasses shattered far and wide,” Hirsi told Reuters, describing the scene of the attack.

“Then bullets rained in all directions,” he said, adding that he, a friend and another minister fled the building through a back exit. “Many people followed us to the exit, we broke the door with collective kicks and we exited to safety,” he said.

Asked what the government would do next, he said there was no turning back and the government would “not let up the fight.”

Somalia government forces, supported by clan militias and, at times, African Union troops and US air strikes, have made a number of battlefield gains in an offensive against Al-Shabab over the last three months.

The US military has conducted several air strikes against the Al-Shabab this year, but it was not clear whether it was involved in Monday’s battle.

Despite being pushed back, Al-Shabab has still been able to stage large attacks on both civilian and military targets.

In October two car bombs exploded at Somalia’s education ministry next to a busy market intersection, killing at least 120 people. It was the deadliest attack since a truck bomb exploded at the same intersection in October 2017, killing more than 500 people.

Source: Arab News

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British Muslim firefighters face 'institutional racism' at London Fire Brigade

By Elis Gjevori

28 November 2022

British Muslim firefighters suffer anti-Muslim abuse at the London Fire Brigade, according to an independent review of the public institution, where a culture of racism, bullying and misogyny is widespread.

The wide-ranging report, conducted by the former chief crown prosecutor for north-west England, Nazir Afzal, was established after a trainee firefighter took his own life in August 2020.

It found numerous occasions where racial slurs were casually directed towards people of colour working at the LFB.

One Muslim worker said he faced constant abuse at the hands of his colleagues who bullied him over his religion, according to the report. In one instance, he said, bacon and sausages were placed in his coat pockets and a terrorist hotline number posted on his locker.

The abuse faced by ethnic minorities, people of colour, and women was largely manifested through "constant mockery, baiting, and bullying", the report found.

The report found evidence of "clearly racist bullying", which has had severe impact on staff in some cases, with one black firefighter finding a noose placed over his locker.

At least one Muslim firefighter was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) due to the abuse he faced at LFB.

Tarek Younis, a senior lecturer at Middlesex University focusing on the impact of anti-radicalisation policies in Britain, believes anti-Muslim behaviour at the London Fire Brigade indicates a wider problem in British society.

"Very few people in positions of power are even acknowledging the explicit instances, let alone understanding where Islamophobia comes from and how it operates," Younis told MEE.

"So rather than looking at the London Fire Brigade as its own individual thing, instead it's a very good example to think about broader issues of legitimising Islamophobia in wider society."

The report does not refer to anti-Muslim behaviour at LFB as Islamophobia. The UK government last month stopped working towards establishing an official definition of Islamophobia, with communities secretary Michael Gove abandoning the adoption of one by the Conservative government.

'Magic carpet'

The review highlights the case of the Muslim firefighter whose colleagues spoke to him in a mock Indian accent and frequently asked him about his "magic carpet".

When the Muslim firefighter was sent to regular training courses, some of his colleagues would make "racist remarks" such as "off to your rucksack training, it shouldn't be hard, all you have to do is pull the cord".

Upon his return from the Hajj pilgrimage in Saudi Arabia, according to the report, they asked him about his "al-Qaeda training".

The firefighter said his line manager regularly swore at him and cursed the Prophet Muhammad.

Following several instances of anti-Muslim abuse, the firefighter began suffering from depression and anxiety, and was eventually diagnosed with PTSD.

"Muslims being bullied about their religion is a very reductive way of looking at this issue. We have to also look at how Muslims are being addressed more broadly," said Younis.

"In the public consciousness, Muslims are associated with issues of national security and with terrorism, and that's the problem here.

"In fact, the London Fire Brigade is no different from other public institutions where these general assumptions become part and parcel of the day-to-day culture, or what they call banter."

Calls for reforms

The review has sparked widespread criticism and calls for significant reforms. The report has also found "dangerous levels of ingrained prejudice against women" and discrimination against people of colour who are also routinely the target of racist abuse.

The Fire Brigades Union has expressed alarm at the findings of the report and stressed on the need for change within the institution where "staff fear the consequences of speaking out".

"There are elements of this report which confirm concerns raised by the Fire Brigades Union over many years. There are also elements of the report which will cause considerable concern and alarm," the union said in a statement.

The LFB is not the only public institution to face allegations of being institutionally racist.

The London Metropolitan police has been dogged by investigations that have labelled it "institutionally racist" over the years.

As of August of this year, a poll found that at least 44 percent of Londoners found that the Metropolitan police is still institutionally racist, with only 29 percent believing otherwise.

Source: Middle East Eye

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UN agencies demand abolition of death penalty in Saudi Arabia

November 29, 2022

WASHINGTON: Recent executions in Saudi Arabia have led to calls from UN agencies and human rights groups for abolition of death penalty in the oil-rich Arab kingdom.

Rights activists were particularly concerned with the Saudi decision to resume executions for drug-related offences, calling it “a deeply regrettable step”.

They noted that executions on drug and other charges resumed just days after a wide majority of States in the UN General Assembly called for a moratorium on the death penalty worldwide.

A spokesperson for the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) said that imposing the death penalty for drug offences was “incompatible with international norms and standards”.

There were three Pakistanis among the 17 executed in Saudi Arabia since Nov 10, all on drug charges.

The last of three was Gulzar Khan, son of Mannat Khan, whose execution was confirmed by OHCHR on Nov 22. He was arrested for smuggling heroin.

Elizabeth Throssell, an OHCHR spokesperson, noted that executions had been taking place almost daily in Saudi Arabia since early this month when Saudi authorities ended a 21-month unofficial moratorium on the use of the death penalty for drug-related offences.

Those executed to date included four Syrians, three Jordanians, and seven Saudis, besides three Pakistanis.

As executions were only confirmed after they took place in Saudi Arabia, the Office did not have any information as to how many people were on death row.

Although Pakistan never protests such executions, Amnesty International (AI) reacted strongly to these executions, calling them a “callous attack on right to life”.

Noting that the execution of these Pakistani nationals for drug-related crimes were the first since the country’s Human Rights Commission announced a moratorium on the use of the death penalty for drug-related crimes in January 2021.

Source: Dawn

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Portugal leader denies problems with Qatar after ‘hostile comment’ row

Alyssa McMurtry  



Augusto Santos Silva, president of Portugal’s parliament, insisted that bilateral relations with Qatar remain positive on Monday after a row related to criticisms over human rights.

Speaking to reporters from Qatar, Santos Silva said the 1,500 Portuguese residents in the gulf country “can be calm.”

Last week, Portuguese and Spanish media reported that the Qatari government summoned the Portuguese ambassador after “hostile comments” from Portugal’s president and prime minister.

“Qatar doesn’t respect human rights, but in the end, we’ll forget that” to focus on football, President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa said earlier in the week.

“The World Cup is [in Qatar], and when we go there, we will certainly not be supporting the Qatari regime, the violation of human rights and discrimination against women. We will be supporting the national team,” said Prime Minister Antonio Costa, who plans to travel to Doha on Friday.

But on Monday, Santos Silva spoke more diplomatically ahead of the Portugal-Uruguay match.

When asked about human rights, he said: “Every country has a lot to do to improve on that and other subjects. That applies to all countries, including Portugal.”

He also highlighted Portugal’s “strategic” and “positive” relationship with Qatar.

Source: Anadolu Agency

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Belgium, Netherlands rocked by unrest after Morocco's World Cup win

Omer Tugrul Cam and Selman Aksunger  



Riots erupted in Belgium’s capital and several Dutch cities Sunday after Morocco beat Belgium in a World Cup Group F match.

Following their team’s upset win, Moroccan fans in Brussels drove around the city in a peaceful celebration, honking their horns.

But some people who were covering their faces gathered around Brussels Midi Railway Station and threw fireworks in the streets.

In some places, electric scooters and trash cans were set on fire. A vehicle belonging to a car rental company was also overturned by a crowd. Some bus and tram stops were also vandalized.

Brussels police sent a large number of teams to central streets to prevent such incidents. Police also closed off roads leading to some tourist spots in the city center.

Condemning the violence, Brussels Mayor Philippe Close called on those causing the disturbances not to come to tourist and shopping areas.

Meanwhile, Morocco supporters honked horns and occupied several squares in Amsterdam, causing some violence.

Around 500 Moroccan fans gathered in Rotterdam and some threw fireworks and started fires. Police arrived at the scene to intervene and some of the fans threw glasses and fireworks at them.

Source: Anadolu Agency

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Southeast Asia


Umno president Zahid defends working with long-time Malaysian political foe PH

November 28, 2022

KUALA LUMPUR - Umno president Zahid Hamidi has defended his decision to cooperate with its long-time political enemy, the Pakatan Harapan (PH) coalition, saying the move will not sideline Umno’s principles of championing the rights of Malays and Islam in Malaysia.

He said in a Facebook posting on Tuesday that the cooperation was also based on a decree by the Malaysian King for the formation of a unity government.

Zahid’s decision to support PH, instead of the rival Perikatan Nasional (PN) coalition, helped PH leader Anwar Ibrahim secure control of the 222-seat Malaysian Parliament. Datuk Seri Anwar was sworn in as Malaysia’s 10th prime minister last Thursday.

The main three coalitions in the so-called unity government has 135 seats altogether - PH with 82, BN with 30 and Gabungan Parti Sarawak’s 23. This is well beyond the minimum 112 seats needed to form the government.

Other smaller coalitions and parties have since decided to support the PH-led government, with PM Anwar saying he now has behind him two-thirds of the House, or 148 seats.

Zahid said Umno’s stance on not working with Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) led by Mr Anwar, the ethnic Chinese-based Democratic Action Party (DAP) and PN’s lead party, Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (Bersatu), was a stand made before the Nov 19 general election.

PH consists of PKR, the DAP, Parti Amanah Negara and United Progressive Kinabalu Organisation. Another party, Malaysian United Democratic Alliance, is a close PH ally.

Zahid said in his Facebook post: “Firstly, the rejection of any cooperation with PKR, DAP and Bersatu was for the 15th General Election, and not post-election.

“Secondly, the cooperation is based on the decree of the Yang di-Pertuan Agong (the King) that a unity government be formed.”

Supporters of Zahid, 69, who is facing a raft of corruption charges in the courts, is pushing for him to be appointed deputy prime minister.

Umno leads the four-party Barisan Nasional (BN) coalition.

The cooperation with PH has been rewarded with BN and PH forming joint state governments in the Perak and Pahang state assemblies.

Umno has been allowed by PH to retain the menteri besar posts in the two states, although BN wasn’t the coalition with the most number of seats.

Zahid said the Perak and Pahang unity governments were a sign of the new political landscape.

Zahid urged party members to close ranks and said efforts for political continuity will not erase the party’s identity, as it has always championed the rights of Malays and Islam.

“Umno still defends the party’s policy to adopt a moderate, centric and progressive attitude in dealing with change.

Source: Straits Times

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PAS president slammed for remarks seen as insulting Malaysia’s monarchy

Hazlin Hassan

NOV 28, 2022

KUALA LUMPUR - Fundamentalist Parti Islam SeMalaysia (PAS) president Abdul Hadi Awang was criticised on Monday over his remarks that appeared to question Malaysia’s monarchy over its role in the formation of the new government led by Pakatan Harapan (PH).

Amid global World Cup fever, Tan Sri Hadi posted a cryptic tweet on Sunday about a football referee providing “extra time for the losing side” after the match was over, allowing the losers to “win by any means”.

His remarks were widely interpreted as referring to how the new government was formed last week, following Malaysia’s inconclusive general election on Nov 19.

Former premier Muhyiddin Yassin from Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia and Mr Hadi are the two top leaders of the Perikatan Nasional (PN) coalition.

PN was forced into the opposition benches after the King, Sultan Abdullah Ahmad Shah, as arbiter in the hung Parliament, appointed PH chief Anwar Ibrahim as Prime Minister last Thursday.

Mr Hadi said in the tweet: “Even though the results have a win for one side, there are points and goals, suddenly the referee adds (injury) time to give a chance to those who have clearly lost so that they can win with whatever means…

“What would the spectators watching it live or through broadcasts say? Islam mandates that its followers act fairly in all matters, from being in a family to a society or country in all matters, including in sports.”

Terengganu PH chief Raja Kamarul Bahrin Shah said Mr Hadi’s post was “a serious and insolent accusation” and urged the police to investigate him for sedition.

Making insulting statements and mocking the monarchy are offences under the Sedition Act.

“His sarcasm has been criticised by many netizens who understood the post to be referring to the setting up of the unity government led by Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim who was appointed by the Yang di-Pertuan Agong (King) with the approval of the Conference of Malay Rulers,” said Datuk Raja Kamarul in a statement.

The PAS leader’s writings “are openly treasonous, accusing the palace of not acting fairly and going against or defying the laws” and challenging the actions of the palace, he added.

PH won 82 seats in the general election while PN won 73.

PN said last Monday, two days after the general election, that it had 114 MPs backing it and was planning to submit its list to Sultan Abdullah to claim majority support, before a deadline set by the national palace that day.

But following a request from PH and Barisan Nasional (BN), the King extended the deadline to last Tuesday, which indicated that Mr Anwar did not then have the minimum 112 MPs to secure control of the 222-strong Parliament.

PN went ahead and submitted its list last Monday. The King met Mr Anwar and Mr Muhyiddin last Wednesday and asked them to form a unity government.

But Mr Muhyiddin, who at that time said he had enough MPs to form a government on his own, rejected Sultan Abdullah’s proposal.

Leaders of BN, which holds 30 seats and thus became kingmakers, met several times between last Sunday and last Tuesday to decide who they should support. BN said late last Tuesday that it would not support PN, although about 10 BN MPs had backed PN a few days earlier. BN said it would stay in the opposition and not back either premiership candidate.

The other major coalition in Malaysia, Gabungan Parti Sarawak with 23 seats, said last Tuesday that it would leave the King to decide on the government’s formation, after indicating it would support PN.

Sultan Abdullah convened a special meeting of the Conference of Malay Rulers last Thursday morning, and the palace declared Mr Anwar as Prime Minister.

Speaking about Mr Hadi’s tweet, Universiti Malaya sociopolitical analyst Awang Azman Pawi said PN “needs to move on” and stop questioning “the referee”.

“Hadi’s actions will cause only anger among the public, who want to move on and focus on economic issues,” he told The Straits Times.

Source: Straits Times

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Saudi-Indonesia kinship in spotlight as Kingdom pledges support to restore Jakarta Islamic Centre


November 28, 2022

JAKARTA: Indonesian officials have thanked Saudi Arabia after its pledge to finance the restoration of the Jakarta Islamic Center.

The announcement, which was made by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman earlier this month, has reaffirmed the close and important relations between the two countries.

A major fire broke out at JIC in late October, destroying the iconic dome of a grand mosque located at the complex.

The crown prince announced the Kingdom’s financing of the center’s restoration earlier this month, and the Saudi Ministry of Foreign Affairs said the planned restoration “confirms his keenness and interest in Islamic centers in all brotherly and friendly countries.”

Saudi’s financial help is expected to help speed up the restoration process which, according to the center’s management, could have taken as long as five years without assistance.

Paimun Abdul Karim, spokesman of JIC’s management, told Arab News: “We are very grateful for such help from the Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

“We are filled with thanks because it means the restoration will be faster.

“His action shows the solidarity between Muslim countries. Saudi Arabia’s plan to help us shows the good relations between the Saudi and Indonesian governments, and it will bring great benefits for us.

“This is another way to open up JIC’s diplomacy and connection to Saudi Arabia and the Middle East.”

JIC’s work has centered on the promotion of tolerant and moderate Islam, with the complex housing not only a grand mosque, but also a research studies center and a conference hall which hosts various programs and gatherings.

Eko Hartono, Indonesia’s consul general in Jeddah, told Arab News that the support offered by Saudi Arabia “reaffirmed the closeness of friendly relations” between Jakarta and Riyadh.

He added: “Saudi’s assistance also reaffirms the country’s commitment to help the Muslim world and glory of Islam in every part of the world, including Indonesia.”

Marzuki Abubakar, researcher and lecturer at Ar-Raniry State Islamic University in Banda Aceh, said Indonesia, which is the world’s largest Muslim-majority country, has always had a very close relationship with the Kingdom.

He told Arab News: “Islam in Indonesia certainly has its own unique characteristics that have captured the world’s attention, and this has led to campaigns for religious tolerance and moderation, which are also important for Saudi Arabia.

Source: Arab News

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