New Age Islam
Thu Aug 13 2020, 07:56 PM

Islamic World News ( 25 Dec 2017, NewAgeIslam.Com)

Muslim Students from Delhi’s Jamia University Thrown out Of NCC Camp for Refusing to Shave Beard















Photo: The students were informed by the Battalion Hawaldar Major that they have to shave off their beards

 

Pakistan Plans American-Style Surveillance for Foreigners

Why Lebanon PM Saad Hariri Had That Strange Sojourn in Saudi Arabia

US Drone Strike Leaves 15 ISIS Militants Dead in Nangarhar

India

Muslim Students from Delhi’s Jamia University Thrown out Of NCC Camp for Refusing to Shave Beard

'103 Indians Suspected Of Being Islamic State Sympathisers Arrested': Telangana Worst Affected State; Uttarakhand, Kerala Follow

Pledge Allegiance to Islamic State Urges Video of 'Kashmiri Fighter'

Indian Army kills 3 Pakistani soldiers in cross border ops in J&K

Jadhav Meeting Lacked Credibility, Pak Peddling False Narrative: India

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Pakistan

Pakistan Plans American-Style Surveillance for Foreigners

Mosque Blown up in Nangarhar’s Momand Dara District

Fata Reforms Endorses Merger of Tribal Regions with Khyber Pakhtunkhwa

Pakistan: Two killed in US drone attack in Khurram area

China, Pakistan to look at including Afghanistan in $57 billion economic corridor

Pak summons Indian diplomat over soldiers' killing along LoC

Maryam Nawaz rallies social media 'activists' in Lahore convention

Shahzeb murder case: SC moved against SHC decision on Shahrukh Jatoi's retrial

Beijing seeks to improve Pak-Afghan ties: Chinese foreign minister

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Arab World

Why Lebanon PM Saad Hariri Had That Strange Sojourn in Saudi Arabia

In Muslim-Dominated UAE, A Pinay Finds a Quiet But Meaningful Christmas

Syrian Air Force Turns Different Parts of Idlib Province into Hell for Terrorists

Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques Orders to Promote 427 Members at Public Prosecution

Syrian Army Paving Ground to Expel Al-Nusra Terrorists from Southern Damascus

Syrian Army on Threshold of Purging Southwestern Damascus of Terrorists

Countdown Starts for Syrian Army's Large-Scale Operation against Terrorists in Idlib

ISIS militants kill Taliban commander and his fighters in Nangarhar

Pro-Gov't Forces Repel Terrorists' Heavy Offensive in Northwestern Syria

Al-Nusra Media Chief Killed in Syrian Airstrikes in Northern Hama

Terrorists Acknowledge Heavy Defeat in Battle with Syrian Army in Southwestern Damascus

Al-Nusra Terrorists Accept Army Terms to Leave Southwestern Damascus

Islamic State Militants Killed by Paramilitary Troops in Hamreen Mountains

Islamic State claims responsibility for attack killing security personnel in Kirkuk

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South Asia

US Drone Strike Leaves 15 ISIS Militants Dead in Nangarhar

Militants Detonate Explosives in Nangarahr Mosque

Air Raids Kills Three Senior Commanders of Taliban in Afghanistan

ISIS militants kill Taliban commander and his fighters in Nangarhar

Afghan forces thwart car bombing, coordinated attacks in Jalalabad city

Jamiat-e-Islami slams IDLG for the remarks regarding Balkh government

4 suspected members of Ansar al-Islam held in Rajshahi

IDLG vows to implement Presidential order regarding Balkh governor

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Europe

Metro Detroit Jewish, Muslim Volunteers Perform Good Deeds on Christmas

Russia: US, Canadian Weapons Sent to Ukraine May End up in Middle East Terrorists’ Hands

Anger as Pork Hurled In Race Hate Attack on Belfast Islamic Centre

DM: Russia Starts Forming Permanent Groups in Syria's Bases

Putin supports US military presence in Afghanistan

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Southeast Asia

In Myanmar, Hatred for Rohingya Muslims Runs So Deep That A Diplomat Called Them 'Ugly As Ogres' — And Got Promoted

4 Islamic freedom fighters killed, 5 injured in military airstrike in Maguindanao

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Africa

Egypt Hangs 15 for Attacks on Security Forces

Nigerian regime after gradual murder of Sheikh Zakzaky

Islamic State group releases 1st video of Somalia fighters

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Mideast

Pope Espouses Two-State Solution for Middle East

Envoy says Iran not giving arms to Houthis

Israeli court extends detention of Palestinian teen icon

Iran's authority, natl. security achievements of Islamic Revolution

'Leave Dark Ages and Join Us': Israel Urges Arabs in Racist Cartoon

More Palestinian Detained by Israel Forces in Overnight Raids

Mosques opened in Umm Al Saneem& Al Kharara

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North America

US Airstrikes Claim More Lives in Eastern Syria

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau

URL: http://newageislam.com/islamic-world-news/new-age-islam-news-bureau/muslim-students-from-delhi’s-jamia-university-thrown-out-of-ncc-camp-for-refusing-to-shave-beard/d/113703

 

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Muslim Students From Delhi’s Jamia University Thrown Out Of NCC Camp For Refusing To Shave Beard

26 December 2017

Ten Muslim students of Delhi’s JamiaMilliaIslamia University have alleged that they were barred from a National Cadet Corps (NCC) camp in Rohini after they refused to shave their beards.

The students also alleged that their bags were thrown out of the gates on the sixth day of the camp, according to a report by the Indian Express.

“The authorities said either shave your beard or leave”, said a student, as quoted by the newspaper. “Our bags were thrown out of the gate,” he added. According to a report by The Times of India, a student also alleged that they were warned of police action if they did not leave the camp.

One of the students also said that they had been attending the camps with beard and it had never been a problem before.

“This time also on the first day of our camp we had written an application saying our beards have a religious importance and we should be told if there is a problem. But suddenly on the sixth day of the camp, the authorities said either shave your beard or leave,” he said.

A student said while the Indian Army only allowed Sikhs to wear turbans and sport beards, the NCC Act does not mention anything about beard. “We asked the commanding officer to mention the specific charge but he just said indiscipline,” he said. So, except one student, they refused to accept the notice.

Students’ organizations later staged a protest in the Jamia campus.

However, NCC officials maintained that they did not throw the students out. “We did not throw them out, we told them to shave as part of discipline of NCC. They said they have their religious beliefs. I told them it is their wish if they wanted to follow their religion… and if they’re not comfortable, they’re at liberty to move out… I have been in the Army for 26 years and that’s the discipline I understand that everyone has to shave, barring Sikh gentlemen,” said an official, as quoted by the Indian Express.

In December last year, the Supreme Court had ruled that Muslim personnel cannot keep beard in the Indian Air Force citing religious grounds. The apex court had then dismissed a petition by an airman who was dismissed from service for growing a beard without his commanding officer’s permission and refusing to shave it off despite being warned of disciplinary proceedings.

The petitioner, Ansari Aaftab Ahmed, had said that keeping a beard was a facet of his fundamental right to freedom of religion, and sought equality with Sikhs.

Keeping a beard is mandatory in Sikhism. The IAF had maintained that the practice of keeping beard is only optional according to the tenets of Islam and that the religion does not prohibit shaving.

outlookindia.com/website/story/muslim-students-from-delhis-jamia-university-thrown-out-of-ncc-camp-for-refusing/305989

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Pakistan plans American-style surveillance for foreigners

PTI | Updated: Dec 26, 2017, 19:16 IST

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan plans to adopt American and European-style surveillance to keep tracking the foreigners visiting the country, according to a media report.

In the latest meeting of intra-provincial committee, foreign minister Khawaja Asif said Pakistan should adopt a tracking system being used by the US and European countries to keep an eye on foreigners, the Urdu language Express News reported.

There is a dire need of having such tracking system which will be helpful in monitoring the movement of foreigners, the minister said.

Asif made the remarks after the secretary of the ministry of foreign affairs raised the issue of Afghan students studying in various seminaries in Pakistan, it said.

The secretary briefed the committee on the links of these students with militancy in Pakistan on which the national security advisor said there should be surveillance of all such students and on expiry of their visit visas they should be sent back to their homeland.

The secretary said they are closely monitoring the situation and might change the visa regime very soon.

In April, then interior minister Nisar Ali Khan had ordered the immediate suspension of issuance of visas on arrival to foreigners to avoid any irregularities in the database.

He had also ordered the ministry of interior to revise and update visa rules.

timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/pakistan/pakistan-plans-american-style-surveillance-for-foreigners/articleshow/62254316.cms

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Why Lebanon PM Saad Hariri had that strange sojourn in Saudi Arabia

Anne Barnard and Maria Abi Habib | NYT News Service | Dec 25, 2017

In Saudi, Hariri was handed a prewritten resignation speech and forced to read it on Saudi television.

Hariri was just a pawn in Saudi Crown Prince’s battle to rein in the regional ambitions of the Kingdom's longtime rival, Iran.

The PM's month-long saga was another example of a brash new leader trying to change the way Saudi has worked for years.

File photo of Lebanon PM SaadHaririFile photo of Lebanon PM Saad Hariri

BEIRUT: Lebanon's prime minister, Saad Hariri, was summoned at 8:30am to the Saudi royal offices — unseemly early, by the Kingdom's standards — on the second day of a visit that was already far from what he had expected.

Hariri, long an ally of the Saudis, dressed that morning in jeans and a T-shirt, thinking he was going camping in the desert with the crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman.

But instead he was stripped of his cellphones, separated from all but one of his usual cluster of bodyguards, and shoved and insulted by Saudi security officers. Then came the ultimate indignity: He was handed a prewritten resignation speech and forced to read it on Saudi television.

This, it seemed, was the real reason he had been beckoned to the Saudi capital, Riyadh, a day earlier: to resign under pressure and publicly blame Iran, as if he were an employee and not a sovereign leader. Before going on TV, he was not even allowed to go to the house he owns there; he had to ask guards to bring him a suit.

As bizarre as the episode was, it was just one chapter in the story of Prince Mohammed, the ambitious young heir apparent determined to shake up the power structure not just of his own country but of the entire region. At home, he has jailed hundreds of fellow princes and businessmen in what he casts as an anti-corruption drive. Abroad, he has waged war in Yemen and confronted Qatar.

The day Hariri was ordered to report to Riyadh, he was just a pawn in the crown prince's overall battle: to rein in the regional ambitions of Saudi Arabia's longtime rival, Iran.

This is the back story of Hariri's long, strange sojourn in Saudi Arabia last month, as revealed in behind-the-scenes accounts from a dozen Western, Lebanese and regional officials and associates of Hariri.

Bold moves backfire

After delivering his speech, as his bewildered aides tried in vain to reach him from Beirut, Hariri did, indeed, eventually spend the evening in the desert with the crown prince, one senior Lebanese official said.

It was a surreal counterpoint to a series of events unfolding that day and into the night that set the entire Middle East on edge: a missile fired at Riyadh, the hundreds of Saudi princes and businessmen arrested, and Lebanon left stunned and confused.

Prince Mohammed had already launched a war in neighboring Yemen against Iran-aligned rebels, and gotten bogged down. He had blockaded Qatar, only to push the Gulf country closer to Iran.

Now, he was looking to take out the prime minister of another country, one who was deemed not sufficiently obedient to his Saudi patrons. The prince intended to send a message: It was time to stop Iran's Lebanese ally, Hezbollah, the powerful Shia organization that is Lebanon's most influential political actor, from growing still stronger.

The prime minister's month-long saga was another example of a brash new leader trying to change the way Saudi Arabia has worked for years, but finding that action often results in unintended consequences, especially in such a complicated region. Now, Hariri remains in office with new popularity, and Hezbollah is stronger than before.

Saudi Arabia's heavy-handed — arguably clumsy — tactics alienated even staunch allies like the United States, Kuwait, Jordan, Egypt and much of Hariri's Lebanese Sunni party. Saudi Arabia may yet clinch some modest concessions from Lebanon, officials and analysts say, but ones perhaps not worth the diplomatic storm.

The officials who described the saga were granted anonymity to speak freely about events that were highly secret and, for Hariri, deeply troubling and embarrassing. Some gaps in the story remain, given the intense pressure to keep quiet and the fact that no one person is privy to all the details — except, perhaps, Hariri, who rescinded his resignation immediately after an international diplomatic scramble brought him safely home.

Hariri did not respond to multiple requests for comment; he has said publicly that he acted freely and wants to put the Riyadh episode behind him. A senior Saudi official said in a statement only that Hariri was "treated with the utmost respect," resigned of his own accord, and remains an "honored friend" with the kingdom's support.

The Saudi moves that started November 4 came in rapid-fire succession. In the space of little more than a day, the Saudis extracted Hariri's resignation; accused Iran and Lebanon of an act of war after Yemeni rebels fired a missile at Riyadh; and rounded up the princes and businessmen on opaque corruption charges. A week later, they ordered Saudi citizens to evacuate Lebanon.

The burst of contentious actions sent war tremors across the region.

With anxieties running high, Lebanese officials worked to head off what they feared was a long-range plan by Saudi Arabia to destabilize Lebanon's volatile Palestinian refugee camps. There were even concerns in Beirut that Saudi Arabia or its Lebanese allies was seeking to form an anti-Hezbollah militia in the camps or elsewhere, two senior Lebanese officials and several Western diplomats said. No such plots came to fruition, and the Saudi official said none were even considered.

Western and Arab officials say they are still puzzling over what the Saudis hoped to accomplish with all this intrigue. Several do not rule out the possibility that they aimed to foment internal unrest in Lebanon, or even war.

What is clear, they say, is that Saudi Arabia sought to instigate a broad realignment of Lebanese politics to reduce Hezbollah's power by forcing the collapse of Hariri's coalition government, which includes Hezbollah and its allies.

But crafting the nimble and activist foreign policy that Prince Mohammed wants requires "a depth of understanding of political dynamics in other countries and an investment in diplomatic ties that can't be created overnight," said Brian Katulis, a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress in Washington.

"The competition for power and influence in today's Middle East has changed significantly," he said, "and the Saudis are playing catch-up, with very mixed results."

This risks miscalculations and escalations in a region riven by wars and tensions, he said.

Pressure points

Trouble had been brewing for years between Hariri and the Saudis.

Like his father, Rafik, before him, Hariri, owed his political career and considerable family fortune to Saudi backing. But the Saudis grumbled that Hariri's government was giving too much sway to Hezbollah, which is both a political party and a militant group not answerable to the state.

Hariri visited Riyadh in late October, and believed he had made the Saudis understand his need to compromise with Hezbollah to avoid political deadlock, officials said. Back in Beirut, to placate the Saudis, he asked Hezbollah's leader,Hassan Nasrallah, through intermediaries, to tone down his blistering speeches against Saudi Arabia's devastating war in Yemen and on Prince Mohammed personally.

That same week, a Saudi minister known as a firebrand on Iran, Thamer al-Sabhan, warned Lebanon of "astonishing" developments on the horizon and accused Hezbollah of making war on Saudi Arabia.

On Nov. 3, Hariri met with a senior Iranian official, Ali Akbar Velayati, who then praised Iran's cooperation with Lebanon. That may have been the last straw for the Saudis.

Within hours, Hariri received a message from the Saudi king — come now — ahead of a meeting that had been scheduled days later, a senior Lebanese official said. A well-connected Lebanese analyst, Johnny Munayyer, said the prime minister was invited to spend a day in the desert with the prince.

But when he landed in Riyadh, Saudi officials took Hariri to his house and told him to wait — not for the king, but for the prince. He waited, from 6 p.m. to 1am No one came.

The next morning, he was summoned to meet the prince. There was no customary royal convoy, so Hariri took his own car. And instead of meeting the prince, officials said, he was manhandled by Saudi officials.

Lebanese officials described the long hours between the arrival and the resignation as a "black box." They said they were reluctant to press Hariri for details. When asked, one of them said, Hariri just looked down at the table and said it was worse than they knew.

Saudi Arabia had many pressure points to use against Hariri. It could threaten to expel the 250,000 or so Lebanese workers in Saudi Arabia, damaging Lebanon's economy. And since Hariri is a dual Saudi citizen, with extensive business dealings in a country where kickbacks are endemic, they could threaten him personally. An Arab diplomat said Hariri was threatened with corruption charges.

The prime minister was handed a resignation speech to read, which he did at 2:30 p.m. from a room an official said was down the hall from the prince's office. The text blamed Hezbollah and claimed his life was in danger; it used words that associates said did not sound like him.

Hours later, the Saudi authorities began their corruption roundups, detaining two of Hariri's former business partners, a reminder of his own vulnerability.

Unrealistic expectations

In Lebanon, Western diplomats and Lebanese officials said, the Saudis expected the resignation would be taken at face value and bring about a mass outpouring of popular support from Hezbollah's opponents. Instead, Lebanon reacted with mass suspicion. No one took to the streets. And Lebanon's president, Michel Aoun, a Hezbollah ally, refused to accept the resignation unless Hariri delivered it in person.

After disappearing for hours, Hariri made his first known call to Aoun, who realized that the prime minister was not speaking freely. Lebanese officials began making the rounds to puzzled Western diplomats with an unusual message: We have reason to believe our prime minister has been detained.

Hariri, the officials said, was eventually placed with Saudi guards in a guesthouse on his own property, forbidden to see his wife and children. Within days, several Western ambassadors visited him there. They came away with conflicting impressions of how free he was. There were two Saudi guards in the room, officials said, and when the diplomats asked if the guards could leave, Hariri said no, they could stay.

Lebanon's internal intelligence chief, Gen. Abbas Ibrahim, put it this way to envoys who could not quite believe a leader could be forced by foreign officials to resign, a senior official said: "It's simple: I could bring two soldiers and put you on TV saying you hate your country."

Meanwhile, the Saudi prince, apparently undaunted by international concerns, summoned yet another leader, the Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas, and issued instructions on Palestinian politics. Officials differ on what Abbas was told in Riyadh. But Lebanese officials were alarmed. They dispatched Ibrahim and a Palestinian envoy to Amman, Jordan, to debrief Abbas, three senior Lebanese officials said.

Concerns were high for several reasons. The Saudi recommendations to Abbas could destabilize the fractious Palestinian refugee camps in Lebanon, a senior Lebanese official said. Separately, a Lebanese ally of the Saudis had urged jihadi factions in one Palestinian camp to form a "Sunni resistance" militia to counter Hezbollah — an idea so dangerous that the jihadis themselves refused, Lebanese and Palestinian officials and a Western diplomat said.

The Saudis and Abbas's spokesman denied the accounts.

On a visit to Washington soon after Hariri's televised resignation, Sabhan, the Saudi minister of Gulf affairs, got a withering reception, Western and Arab officials said, from David M. Satterfield, the State Department's acting assistant secretary for Near Eastern Affairs. He demanded that Sabhan explain why Riyadh was destabilizing Lebanon.

Intense diplomacy followed by France, the United States, Egypt and other countries, producing a deal that allowed Hariri to leave Saudi Arabia.

But Prince Mohammed sent him home with a task: to get Hezbollah to withdraw its fighters from Yemen, Lebanese officials and Western and Arab diplomats involved in the deal said. That demand proved, the Western and Arab diplomats said, that the prince was not well-informed on Yemen, sometimes called "Riyadh's Vietnam." Hezbollah, a Western diplomat said, had only about 50 fighters in Yemen, with Iran playing a much larger role in training and aiding the Houthis.

To end the war in Yemen, a Lebanese official said, Beirut is "the wrong P.O. box."

Riyadh did get something out of the turmoil. Lebanese officials are seeking a deal with Hezbollah that could include toning down Hezbollah's anti-Saudi rhetoric — as Hariri requested even before the Riyadh episode — and shuttering a pro-Houthi television station in Beirut.

It remains unclear if Hariri can deliver enough to placate Riyadh. Nasrallah's speeches have omitted critiques of Prince Mohammed lately, and on Wednesday, he called for peace talks in Yemen, a major step.

Then again, on Tuesday, Yemen's Houthis fired another missile at Riyadh.

timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/middle-east/why-lebanon-pm-saad-hariri-had-that-strange-sojourn-in-saudi-arabia/articleshow/62242845.cms

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US drone strike leaves 15 ISIS militants dead in Nangarhar

By KHAAMA PRESS - Tue Dec 26 2017

At least 15 ISIS militants were killed in the latest drone strike of the US forces in eastern Nangarhar province of Afghanistan.

The provincial government media office in a statement said the latest airstrike was carried out Bandar area of Achin district.

The statement further added that fifteen ISIS militants were killed and their weapons, ammunition, and explosives cache was destroyed in the air raid.

In the meantime, at least two ISIS militants hailing from Orakzai Agency were killed in a separate operation in Haska Mina district, the statement added

According to the provincial government, the local residents and security personnel have not suffered any casualties during the operations.

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

Nangarhar is among the relatively calm provinces in East of Afghanistan but the security situation of the province has started to deteriorate during the recent years.

The provincial government had earlier said a local Taliban leader identified as Katib was killed in Chaparhar district late on Sunday night by ISIS militants.

A statement by the Nangarhar governor’s office stated that two other Taliban group members, apparently fighters of Katib, were also killed by the ISIS militants.

khaama.com/us-drone-strike-leaves-15-isis-militants-dead-in-nangarhar-04128

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India

Muslim Students From Delhi’s Jamia University Thrown Out Of NCC Camp For Refusing To Shave Beard

26 December 2017

Ten Muslim students of Delhi’s JamiaMilliaIslamia University have alleged that they were barred from a National Cadet Corps (NCC) camp in Rohini after they refused to shave their beards.

The students also alleged that their bags were thrown out of the gates on the sixth day of the camp, according to a report by the Indian Express.

“The authorities said either shave your beard or leave”, said a student, as quoted by the newspaper. “Our bags were thrown out of the gate,” he added. According to a report by The Times of India, a student also alleged that they were warned of police action if they did not leave the camp.

One of the students also said that they had been attending the camps with beard and it had never been a problem before.

“This time also on the first day of our camp we had written an application saying our beards have a religious importance and we should be told if there is a problem. But suddenly on the sixth day of the camp, the authorities said either shave your beard or leave,” he said.

A student said while the Indian Army only allowed Sikhs to wear turbans and sport beards, the NCC Act does not mention anything about beard. “We asked the commanding officer to mention the specific charge but he just said indiscipline,” he said. So, except one student, they refused to accept the notice.

Students’ organizations later staged a protest in the Jamia campus.

However, NCC officials maintained that they did not throw the students out. “We did not throw them out, we told them to shave as part of discipline of NCC. They said they have their religious beliefs. I told them it is their wish if they wanted to follow their religion… and if they’re not comfortable, they’re at liberty to move out… I have been in the Army for 26 years and that’s the discipline I understand that everyone has to shave, barring Sikh gentlemen,” said an official, as quoted by the Indian Express.

In December last year, the Supreme Court had ruled that Muslim personnel cannot keep beard in the Indian Air Force citing religious grounds. The apex court had then dismissed a petition by an airman who was dismissed from service for growing a beard without his commanding officer’s permission and refusing to shave it off despite being warned of disciplinary proceedings.

The petitioner, Ansari Aaftab Ahmed, had said that keeping a beard was a facet of his fundamental right to freedom of religion, and sought equality with Sikhs.

Keeping a beard is mandatory in Sikhism. The IAF had maintained that the practice of keeping beard is only optional according to the tenets of Islam and that the religion does not prohibit shaving.

outlookindia.com/website/story/muslim-students-from-delhis-jamia-university-thrown-out-of-ncc-camp-for-refusing/305989

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'103 Indians suspected of being Islamic State sympathisers arrested': Telangana worst affected state; Uttarakhand, Kerala follow

26 Dec, 2017 12:54:22 IST

By Chaitanya Mallapur

As many as 103 people accused of being Islamic State sympathisers have been arrested across 14 states by the National Investigation Agency (NIA), the central counter terrorism law enforcement agency, and other state security agencies, according to government data.

Uttar Pradesh — India’s most populous state — reported the most (17) arrests, followed by Maharashtra (16), Telangana (16), Kerala (14) and Karnataka (8), said this reply to the Rajya Sabha (Upper House of Parliament) by HansrajGangaramAhir, minister of state for ministry of home affairs, on December 20, 2017.

These states accounted for 69 percent of all arrests across 14 states.

"Very few individuals (from India) have come to the notice of the central and state security agencies who (sic) have joined Islamic State,” Ahir said in his reply to the Parliament. Telangana had most arrests per 100,000 Muslim population in the state, followed by Uttarakhand, Kerala, Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra.

The NIA registered a case against five Islamic State sympathisers from Kerala’s Kannur district on 17 December, 2017, The Times of India reported on 17 December, 2017. The case was registered under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act, 1967.

Indian youth are lured by offering house, meat, chocolates and women by Islamic State operatives, India Today reported on 30 May, 2017. Over 100 people from Kerala are suspected to have joined Islamic State over the years, India Today quoted Kerala police as saying on 11 November, 2017.

Islamic State responsible for 25 deaths every day in 2016

Islamic State is a designated global terrorist organisation which has recruited thousands of foreign fighters with violent extremist ideology inciting terrorist acts.

Islamic State was responsible for most attacks (1,133) and deaths (9,114) by any terrorist organisation in 2016, according to the Country Reports On Terrorism 2016 released on July 2017 by the US Department of State.

Islamic State was responsible for nearly 25 deaths — including perpetrators — every day worldwide in 2016, up from 17 every day in 2015. Islamic State is a designated global terrorist organisation that has recruited thousands of foreign fighters with violent extremist ideology inciting terrorist acts.

Islamic State was responsible for most attacks (1,133) and deaths (9,114) by any terrorist organisation in 2016, according to the Country Reports On Terrorism 2016 released on July 2017 by the US Department of State. The terror organisation was also responsible for nearly 25 deaths — including perpetrators — every day worldwide in 2016, up from 17 every day in 2015.

Deaths caused by Islamic State increased 48 percent from 6,178 in 2015 to 9,114 in 2016 while persons kidnapped or taken hostage by Islamic State increased 74 percent from 4,805 in 2015 to 8,379 in 2016.

Attacks by Islamic State outside Syria and Iraq increased 80 percent from 44 in 2015 to 79 in 2016.

firstpost.com/india/103-indians-suspected-of-being-islamic-state-sympathisers-arrested-telangana-worst-affected-state-uttarakhand-kerala-follow-4275603.html

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Pledge allegiance to Islamic State urges video of 'Kashmiri fighter'

A pro-Islamic State (IS) Kashmir-centric media unit Al-Qaraar has released a video of an alleged Kashmiri 'fighter' asking fellow fighters and Muslims in the Valley to pledge allegiance to the terror group IS and join its so-called 'caliphate', reports The Times of India on December 26. The nearly 14-minute long video, carrying English subtitles, has a fighter identified as 'Abu al-Bara al-Kashmiri' delivering a speech in Urdu while sitting in front of a flag bearing the words 'Kashmir Province', according to an put out by the Search for International Terrorist Entities (SITE) Intelligence Group website.

He calls upon the 'fighters' and Muslims in Kashmir who fight to establish a 'caliphate', including Zakir Musa-led AnsarGhazwat-ul-Hind, to swear allegiance to IS leader Abu Bakr al Baghdadi. Men can be seen in the video marching through the street carrying the IS' banner.

On December 22, Al-Qaraar had published a poster calling AnsarGhazwat-ul-Hind fighters and its leader, Zakir Musa, to join the IS. AnsarGhazwat-ul-Hind was floated by al Qaeda as its Kashmir wing, with former Hizb-ul-Mujahideen (HM) leader Zakir Musa in the lead. Al Qaraar uploaded the poster carrying the message: "We invite soldiers of AnsaarGazwat-ul-Hind and their Ameer Zakir Musa to join the caravan of the Caliphate respond to the call of time... don't listen to the blames of the blamers" — on its Telegram channel and Twitter account on December 22.

satp.org/satporgtp/detailed_news.asp?date1=12/26/2017&id=16#16

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Indian Army kills 3 Pakistani soldiers in cross border ops in J&K

RajatPandit | TNN | Updated: Dec 26, 2017, 21:18 IST

NEW DELHI: A small team of Indian Army's "Ghatak" commandos surreptitiously crossed the Line of Control in the Rawlakot-Rakhchakri sector of Pakistan-occupied-Kashmir to kill at least three Pakistani soldiers and injure a few others on Monday evening, leading to a surge in the ongoing cross-border firings between the two countries.

The limited "tit-for-tat" operation was carried out to avenge the killing of four Indian soldiers, including Major MoharkarPrafullaAmbadas, by a Pakistani border action team (BAT) at Keri in Rajouri sector of J&K on Saturday afternoon.

"`Jawabikaravaee' (retaliatory action) was required. It was a localized, selective targeting raid around 250-300 meters inside Pakistani territory by five to six Ghatak commandos of an infantry battalion. Pakistan itself admitted three of its soldiers were killed in the operation, though intelligence inputs suggest the toll could be higher," said a senior Army officer.

The tactical operation, planned by the local battalion commander and approved by the brigade commander, cannot be compared to the "surgical strikes" against terror launch pads in PoK by Indian Para-Special Forces on September 29 last year.

"The surgical strikes were much bigger in scope and simultaneously targeted four terror launch pads and two Pak Army posts co-located with them, both north and south of PirPanjal over 2-km deep inside Pakistani territory. They were planned at the highest levels," he said.

Soon after four of its soldiers were killed at Keri on Saturday, the Army further stepped up its electronic and physical surveillance along several stretches of the LoC to "exploit any fleeting opportunity" for effective retaliation.

It came at about 6pm on Monday when a patrol from the 59 Baluch unit, under the Pak army's Rawlakot brigade, was first "hit and left stunned" by an IED (improvised explosive device) placed by the Ghatak commandos around 250-300 meters across the LoC.

"The commandos, who were lying in wait, then opened fire to maximize the damage before swiftly returning to own side of the LoC, with our posts giving them covering fire. A Pak army sniper was also killed in Jhangar sector of Rajouri on Sunday," said another officer.

Monday's raid was part of the almost daily war of attrition that continues all along the 778-km LoC, with the two sides engaging in fiery artillery-mortar duels and sniping operations as well as undertaking "shallow cross-LoC" raids after detecting vulnerable spots in each other's deployment and patrolling patterns.

The Indian Army has already recorded over 820 ceasefire violations by the Pak army along the LoC this year (the figure was just 228 in 2016, 152 in 2015), with 14 soldiers and 10 civilians being killed in them. The Army has lost another 17 soldiers during infiltration bids and "incidents" on the LoC, apart from 30 in intensive counter-insurgency operations that have killed over 210 terrorists in J&K this year.

India, of course, has cranked up the pressure on the Pak Army with "pre-emptive and punitive fire assaults" to destroy locations across the LoC that aid infiltration attempts ever since two Indian soldiers were beheaded and another injured in a BAT operation in the Krishna Ghati sector in Poonch district on May 1.

"Pakistan has suffered many more casualties than us...Their DGMO has made a couple of unscheduled calls over the hotline in the last two-three months to ask for lowering of the hostilities," said an officer.

But Indian DGMO Lt-Gen A K Bhatt last month told his Pakistan counterpart, Major General SahirShamshad Mirza, that there was a "disconnect" between his Army headquarters at Rawalpindi, which professed a desire for peace, and its troops on the ground along the LOC, who continue to resort to heavy firing and ceasefire violations without any provocation, as was earlier reported by TOI.

The Army has made it clear it continue to take "all retaliatory measures and retain the right to punitively respond to any provocative acts of aggression" till Pakistan stops actively abetting cross-border terrorism and infiltration.

timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/indian-army-kills-3-pakistani-soldiers-in-cross-border-ops-in-jk/articleshow/62255798.cms

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Jadhav meeting lacked credibility, Pak peddling false narrative: India

Sachin Parashar | TNN | Updated: Dec 26, 2017, 19:25 IST

NEW DELHI: India on Tuesday brushed aside Pakistan's "grand gesture" of allowing KulbhushanJadhav to meet his wife and mother as an exercise that lacked credibility and one which was meant to bolster the false and unsubstantiated narrative of Jadhav's alleged activities in Pakistan.

The two women, wife Chetankul and mother Avanti, met foreign minister Sushma Swaraj after they returned from Islamabad late Monday.

In an official reaction shortly after the meeting with Swaraj, in which foreign secretary S Jaishankar and other MEA officials were present, the government noted with regret that Pakistan conducted the meeting in a manner which violated the letter and spirit of the understanding that the two countries had reached earlier.

MEA's statement on Jadhav's meeting with family

India listed a series of reasons for its indictment of Pakistan authorities starting with the manner in which the local press was allowed to harass and hector the two women on multiple occasions as well as hurl accusations at them despite the understanding that media would not be allowed close access.

Second, in what was described as shocking, Jadhav's wife and mother were made to get rid of Hindu symbols such as bindis, mangalsutra, bangles and forced to change their clothes.

"Under the pretext of security precautions, the cultural and religious sensibilities of family members were disregarded. This included removal of mangal sutra, bangles and bindi, as well as a change in attire that was not warranted by security," said the government in a statement.

Third, Jadhav's mother who is not fluent in English was prevented from speaking in Marathi, her natural medium of communication, by Pakistan officials who were recording the conversation.

"She was repeatedly interrupted while doing so and eventually prevented from proceeding further in this regard," said the government.

Fourth, deputy high commissioner JP Singh was initially separated from family members who were taken to the meeting without informing him. It was only after Singh strongly protested and told Pakistan officials that they were violating the mutual understanding that he was allowed inside. However, even then, Singh was kept behind an additional partition that did not allow him access to the meeting as agreed before.

Singh later accompanied the two women on their return journey to India.

Fifth, as the government said, for some inexplicable reason and despite repeated requests from Jadhav's wife, Pakistan officials did not return her shoes after the meeting. "We would caution against any mischievous intent in this regard," said the Indian government in its statement.

According to sources here, India had chosen to not respond immediately on Monday to Pakistan's grandstanding as it wanted the women to safely return from Islamabad and take their feedback first.

Officials here described the conduct of Jadhav's mother and wife in the meeting as stoic and added that it was only after concluding the meeting and leaving the Pakistan foreign office that the two women complained bitterly about the conduct of Pakistani officials.

"From the feedback we have received of the meeting, it appears that Jadhav was under considerable stress and speaking in an atmosphere of coercion. Most of his remarks were clearly tutored and designed to perpetuate the false narrative of his alleged activities in Pakistan. His appearance also raises questions of his health and well being," said the MEA.

"We also regret that contrary to assurances, the overall atmosphere of the meeting was intimidating insofar as family members were concerned. Family members, however, handled the situation with great courage and fortitude," it added.

Prior to the meeting, the two governments were in touch through diplomatic channels to work out its modalities and format.

timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/jadhav-meeting-lacked-credibility-pak-peddling-false-narrative-india/articleshow/62253652.cms

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Pakistan

Pakistan plans American-style surveillance for foreigners

PTI | Updated: Dec 26, 2017, 19:16 IST

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan plans to adopt American and European-style surveillance to keep tracking the foreigners visiting the country, according to a media report.

In the latest meeting of intra-provincial committee, foreign minister Khawaja Asif said Pakistan should adopt a tracking system being used by the US and European countries to keep an eye on foreigners, the Urdu language Express News reported.

There is a dire need of having such tracking system which will be helpful in monitoring the movement of foreigners, the minister said.

Asif made the remarks after the secretary of the ministry of foreign affairs raised the issue of Afghan students studying in various seminaries in Pakistan, it said.

The secretary briefed the committee on the links of these students with militancy in Pakistan on which the national security advisor said there should be surveillance of all such students and on expiry of their visit visas they should be sent back to their homeland.

The secretary said they are closely monitoring the situation and might change the visa regime very soon.

In April, then interior minister Nisar Ali Khan had ordered the immediate suspension of issuance of visas on arrival to foreigners to avoid any irregularities in the database.

He had also ordered the ministry of interior to revise and update visa rules.

timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/pakistan/pakistan-plans-american-style-surveillance-for-foreigners/articleshow/62254316.cms

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Mosque blown up in Nangarhar’sMomand Dara district

By Yousafzarifi On Dec 26, 2017 - 14:05

JALALABAD (Pajhwok): Unidentified individuals blew up a mosque and a shrine in the Momand Dara district of eastern Nangarhar province on Tuesday, an official said.

AttaullahKhogyani, the governor’s spokesman, told Pajhwok Afghan News the incident took place in GardiGhaus area early in the morning.

He accused the “enemies of Islam” of planting explosives inside the mosque. The device went off at 5am, destroying mosque and damaging a nearby shrine.

In a statement, the provincial governor’s office condemned the attack and said many copies of the holy Quran and other books were also damaged.

pajhwok.com/en/2017/12/26/mosque-blown-nangarhar%E2%80%99s-momand-dara-district

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Fata reforms endorses merger of tribal regions with Khyber Pakhtunkhwa

Omer Farooq Khan | TNN | Dec 26, 2017

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan's government has agreed in principle to merge the lawless tribal regions bordering Afghanistan that served as safe havens for terrorist for decades into the Northwestern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) province.

The region consists of seven tribal agencies, Bajaur, Mohman, Khyber, Kurram, Orakzai, North Waziristan and South Waziristan, and six frontier regions. If and when the move takes final shape, Pakistan will have four provinces: Sindh, Baluchistan, Punjab, and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. Gilgit-Baltistan and Azad Kashmir — known as PoK in India — are semi-provincial entities.

Pakistan's President directly governs the semi-autonomous tribal agencies, exclusively inhabited by Pashtun tribes, through a special set of laws called the Frontier Crimes Regulations (FCR), also known as "black law".

The government had formed a Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata) reforms committee headed by Sartaj Aziz, ex-PM Nawaz Sharif's adviser on foreign affairs, in 2017, and in March this year the cabinet approved the committee's recommendations.

The government has so far not succeeded in passing the Fata reforms bill in parliament due to opposition from its two key allies: MaulanaFazlurRehman-led JamiatUlema Islam and Mehmood Khan Achackzai, a Pashtun nationalist from Baluchistan, heading his own regional Pakhtunkhwa MilliAwami Party.

Last week, the National Implementation Committee on Fata reforms met in Islamabad. The meeting was attended by PM and the Army chief, who later met MaulanaFazlurRehman to convince him on the merger plan. Following the meeting, the Maulana has toned down his rhetoric against the merger, but has not yet agreed to the plan.

Pakistan's leading paper, Dawn, reported on Tuesday that National Implementation Committee on Fata Reforms has endorsed the merger of tribal regions with KP and agreed that Islamabad would make a policy statement in this regard.

The NIC also decided and agreed to let Fata elect 23 members to the KP Assembly in the general elections scheduled to be held in July 2018.

But, the meeting did not make its decision public and reportedly decided to do away with the controversial sections of the FCR, a controversial law which was introduced for tribal areas by the Britsh rulers before partition.

The FCR permits collective punishment of family or tribe members for crimes of individuals. Failure to comply can make tribal chiefs liable for punishment. The tribal people defines the FCR as a law where appeal, wakeel (a legal representative) and daleel (the right to present reasoned evidence) are not applicable to the residents of Fata.

The reforms bill seeks to extend the jurisdiction of the Peshawar high court and the Supreme Court of Pakistan to the tribal regions.

While the federal government has yet to introduce the FATA reforms bill in the parliament, the KP government and the top military leadership in the province (11th Corps, Peshawar) has almost finalised an implementation plan.

The final version of the draft plan would reportedly be shared with the army's General Headquarters (GHQ) in the next few days.

The plan provides for the full embrace of Fata with KP by addressing the many legislative and constitutional issues involving the merger and the judicial, administrative, security and development systems required to be put in place with timeline and the resources needed to implement the full spectrum of the reform package.

During British rule in India, tribal areas served as a buffer from unrest in Afghanistan. After partition, Pakistan had maintained the same status for the region with some historians believing that it was due to the country's tense relations with Kabul over the Durand Line, a disputed border between Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Mujahideen used the region as launchpad in the 1980s against the former Soviet Union; and, since 9/11, the tribal badlands became a hub of terror organizations fighting US and NATO forces in Afghanistan.

The Tekreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) took control of the region in mid-2000s forcing the Pak army to launch offensives. The military operations coupled with US drone strikes against terrorists caused massive displacement of local population into the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province.

timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/pakistan/fata-reforms-endorses-merger-of-tribal-regions-with-khyber-pakhtunkhwa/articleshow/62255952.cms

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Pakistan: Two killed in US drone attack in Khurram area

PTI | Updated: Dec 26, 2017, 18:47 IST

PESHAWAR: A US drone fired two missiles at a vehicle today killing two militants, including a Haqqani network commander, near Pakistan-Afghanistan border in the restive tribal region in the country's northwest, authorities said.

The unmanned aircraft struck the vehicle this afternoon at the border village, Matta Sangar, in Kurram Agency.

Two militants, including Haqqani network commander Jamiuddin, were killed, they said.

The Haqqani network has carried out a number of kidnappings and attacks against US interests in Afghanistan.

The group is also blamed for several deadly attacks against Indian interests in Afghanistan, including the 2008 bombing of the Indian mission in Kabul that killed 58 people.

Officials also said a probe has been launched.

timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/pakistan/pakistan-two-killed-in-drone-attack-in-khurram-area/articleshow/62254602.cms

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China, Pakistan to look at including Afghanistan in $57 billion economic corridor

Reuters | Dec 26, 2017, 12:52 IST

China and Pakistan are looking at extending their $57 billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor to Afghanistan.

Chinese foreign minister said China hoped the economic corridor could benefit the whole region and act as an impetus for development.

Afghan foreign minister Salahuddin Rabbani, Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi and Pakistani foreign minister Khawaja Asif attend a joint news conference after the 1st China-Afghanistan-Pakistan Foreign Ministers' Dialogue in ChinaAfghan foreign minister Salahuddin Rabbani, Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi and Pakistani foreign minister Kh... Read More

BEIJING: China and Pakistan will look at extending their $57 billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor to Afghanistan, Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi said on Tuesday, part of China's ambitious Belt and Road plan linking China with Asia, Europe and beyond.

China has tried to position itself as a helpful party to promote talks between Pakistan and Afghanistan, both uneasy neighbours ever since Pakistan's independence in 1947.

Their ties have been poisoned in recent years by Afghan accusations that Pakistan is supporting Taliban insurgents fighting the US-backed Kabul in order to limit the influence of its old rival, India, in Afghanistan.

Pakistan denies that and says it wants to see a peaceful, stable Afghanistan.

Speaking after the first trilateral meeting between the foreign ministers of China, Pakistan and Afghanistan, Wang said China hoped the economic corridor could benefit the whole region and act as an impetus for development.

Afghanistan has urgent need to develop and improve people's lives and hopes it can join inter-connectivity initiatives, Wang told reporters, as he announced that Pakistan and Afghanistan had agreed to mend their strained relations.

"So China and Pakistan are willing to look at with Afghanistan, on the basis of win-win, mutually beneficial principles, using an appropriate means to extend the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor to Afghanistan," he added.

How that could happen needs the three countries to reach a gradual consensus, tackling easier, smaller projects first, Wang said, without giving details.

Pakistani Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif said his country and China were "iron brothers", but did not directly mention the prospect of Afghanistan joining the corridor.

"The successful implementation of CPEC (China-Pakistan Economic Corridor) projects will serve as a model for enhancing connectivity and cooperation through similar projects with neighbouring countries, including Afghanistan, Iran and with central and west Asia," he said.

India has looked askance at the project as parts of it run through Pakistan-administered Kashmir that India considers its own territory, though Wang said the plan had nothing to do with territorial disputes.

China has sought to bring Kabul and Islamabad together partly due to Chinese fears about the spread of Islamist militancy from Pakistan and Afghanistan to the unrest-prone far western Chinese region of Xinjiang.

As such, China has pushed for Pakistan and Afghanistan to improve their own ties so they can better tackle the violence in their respective countries, and has also tried to broker peace talks with Afghan Taliban militants, to limited effect.

A tentative talks process collapsed in 2015.

Wang said China fully supported peace talks between the Afghan government and Taliban and would continue to provide "necessary facilitation".

The Belt and Road infrastructure drive aims to build a modern-day "Silk Road" connecting China to economies in Southeast and Central Asia by land and the Middle East and Europe by sea.

timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/china/china-pakistan-to-look-at-including-afghanistan-in-57-billion-economic-corridor/articleshow/62250430.cms

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Pak summons Indian diplomat over soldiers' killing along LoC

PTI | Dec 26, 2017, 21:16 IST

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan today summoned India's acting deputy high commissioner to protest "unprovoked" firing by the Indian Army that killed its three soldiers along the LoC.

The Foreign Office in a statement rejected reports that the Indian Army commandos crossed the Line of Control in Poonch sector of Jammu and Kashmir and smashed a post.

"The false claims by India about the alleged cross LoC adventures are a figment of their imagination and counter-productive for peace and tranquility on the LoC," it said.

"The Indian actions got a befitting response from the Pakistani side and their guns were silenced," it claimed.

The Foreign Office spokesman said Director General (SA & SAARC) Mohammad Faisal summoned India's acting deputy high commissioner and "condemned the unprovoked ceasefire violations" by Indian forces in the Rakhchikri sector.

He claimed that the firing "provided a cover for the planting of IEDs by non-state actors", resulting in the death of three soldiers.

Faisal urged the Indian side to "respect the 2003 Ceasefire arrangement; investigate this and other incidents of ceasefire violations; instruct the Indian forces to respect the ceasefire, in letter and spirit and maintain peace on the LoC."

The Indian Army sources in New Delhi earlier said a "small group" of 'Ghatak' commandos carried out a tactical level selective targeting of the Pakistani post around 200-300 metres across the LoC last evening in which three Pakistani soldiers were killed and one was injured.

The operation is seen as avenging the killing of four Indian Army personnel by a Border Action Team of the Pakistan Army in Keri sector Rajouri district three days ago.

timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/pak-summons-indian-diplomat-over-soldiers-killing-along-loc/articleshow/62256609.cms

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Maryam Nawaz rallies social media 'activists' in Lahore convention

Dawn.comUpdated December 26, 2017

"Nawaz Sharif is attacked because he stands by an ideology which rejects any adulteration in the democratic process," the ousted premier's daughter and hand-picked successor, Maryam Safdar, told a gathering of PML-N's social media 'activists' in Lahore's Model Town on Tuesday.

"There can be no doctrine of necessity in the ideology of democracy," Maryam asserted as she expounded on her father's ideology.

She said that under her father's belief system, "two, three or five people cannot impose their decision on 200 million people."

"Nobody can minus the person that you plus," she said, claiming that her father had faced adversity only because he chose the 'right' thing to do over what was 'easy' following his disqualification.

She also heaped accolades on the role of PML-N's social media team, which she recalled had grown from four people in 2013 to several thousands across the country today.

The geographical spread of the PML-N's social media support was particularly highlighted.

"There is no match of the key role played by social media in taking Nawaz Sharif's message to every home," Maryam told the charged crowd.

She also publicly requested Nawaz to take strict action whenever the party's social media activists are threatened or attacked in the future.

The former premier's daughter also announced the launch of an official mobile application for Android and iOS, which will enable party members to connect with their elected representatives.

"Those who install the app will become members of the party," she said, highlighting the app's geo-tagging feature, which will allow its administrators to keep an eye on the location of PML-N supporters anywhere in the country.

'Shahbaz stood shoulder to shoulder with me'

Speaking after his daughter's address, Nawaz Sharif expressed his surprise over the large number of social media activists that had showed up to the convention.

"I thought there would be only a few hundred people present in the front rows. There is a crowd of thousands here," he said.

Thanking his brother, Chief Minister Punjab Shahbaz Sharif, for standing "shoulder to shoulder" with him through all difficulties, Nawaz moved on to documenting his own 'achievements' over his truncated tenure.

He claimed that when he was last ousted in 1999, electricity generation had been in excess of demand and the country had been in position to export surplus energy to other countries, but then began to face up to 20 hours of load-shedding daily.

However, after the PML-N came in to power again in 2013, electricity generation again started exceeding demand, Nawaz claimed.

The ex-PM said the country's economic situation had worsened after the Panamagate verdict, using the dropping forex reserves and decrease in GDP as evidence of his claims.

He also mentioned infrastructural projects being completed under his government, wondering whether they would see completion next year after the election or not.

"Will there be a court in this country that holds [former president] Pervez Musharraf accountable for his crimes?" he asked, saying that the apex court had issued a decision against him in mere weeks, whereas a case against the former president had been pending before the courts for years.

"When Imran Khan accepts that they [the off-shore companies] are his assets, the judges say 'No son, these are not your assets'," he added as he turned his guns on his key rival.

"Thankfully they have not said that these are not yours [Imran Khan's] but Nawaz Sharif's assets," he jibed.

Highlighting what he sees as "double standards" in the apex court's decisions, Nawaz said that while the Supreme Court had limited investigations against Imran Khan to five years, Nawaz had been held accountable for assets accumulated over the past 50 years.

"I will not get them away like this," he said. "These two standards cannot go together."

"While I was thrown out on a salary I did not receive, the one dear to them was let off despite him accepting his crime," he alleged.

"Pakistan has been made into a country where some offshore companies are Halaal, while others are Haraam."

Shedding light on the 'movement for justice' he had announced earlier, Nawaz said: "We picked up the flag of the restoration of the judiciary before, and it is now time for us to to pick up the flag for the restoration of justice."

He also criticised the courts for legitimising the decisions of dictators in the past and judges for taking oaths on Provisional Constitutional Orders (PCO), promising that he would ensure it never happens in the future.

"Restoration of justice will not only be a part of our party manifesto but be the basic point of PML-N's election campaign," he said.

"You have to promise me that we will never allow the mandate to be disgraced again," he concluded.

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Shahzeb murder case: SC moved against SHC decision on ShahrukhJatoi's retrial

Dawn.comUpdated December 26, 2017

Lawyer and rights activist Jibran Nasir and other citizens of Karachi on Tuesday filed an appeal in the Supreme Court against a Sindh High Court decision to retry SharukhJatoi and his accomplices in the Shahzeb Khan murder case.

In November, the SHC had set aside the death penalty awarded to the accused and ordered a retrial of the case in a sessions court. The court's decision was taken on a criminal review petition filed by Jatoi's lawyer, who argued that terrorism charges should be dropped as the prime suspect was a juvenile at the time of the offence.

"The citizens have been deeply affected and aggrieved by judgement of the SHC whereby terror charges were removed against ShahrukhJatoi and three others in the case of killing of youth Shahzeb Khan," says the press release issued by the appellants.

According to the press release, the killing of Shahzeb Khan had “created a sense of helplessness and insecurity amongst the people of Defence/Clifton,” as a car chase and shootout took place on a public road in the densely populated area of Defence Housing Authority.

"Against the judgement of the honourable Sindh High Court ... [the appellants] also prayed that operation of the said judgement should be suspended, and all four accused including SharukhJatoi should be arrested and taken in judicial custody."

M. Jibran Nasir

@MJibranNasir

If justice is our mutual concern then its pursuit should also be our collective responsibility. Appeal has been filed. Please see the Press Release by the Appellants giving the reasons and grounds based on which we have filed appeal in #ShahrukhJatoi case in Supreme Court.

 25 25 Replies   66 66 Retweets   151 151 likes

"It is astonishing that a retrial has been ordered in the case where the trial had been concluded four and half years ago. The sole reasoning given by the SHC is that motive of killing Shahzeb Khan was personal enmity. Since then, all accused have been released on bail," the press release adds.

"It is because of inconsistent application of laws and meddling of power and influence in investigation and prosecution of criminal cases including those related to terrorism that such horrifying acts continue to take place in society where killers roam around with impunity creating a mockery of our laws and justice system continuing to terrorise citizens."

ShahrukhJatoi and two co-accused, earlier convicted in the 2012 murder of 20-year-old Shahzeb Khan, were released from jails after their bail applications were approved by a court on December 24.

Shahzeb's family had told the court they had reached an out-of-court compromise with the accused's family.

Death penalty

An Anti-Terrorism Court (ATC) had earlier awarded the death penalty to Jatoi and Siraj Ali Talpur for Shahzeb's murder in 2012 following a petty dispute. Siraj's younger brother, Sajjad Ali Talpur, and domestic helper Ghulam MurtazaLashari had been handed life sentences.

A couple of months after the sentence was passed, however, Shahzeb's parents had issued a formal pardon for the convicts, approved by SHC.

Despite the pardon, however, the death penalty had been upheld because of the addition of terrorism charges to the case — up until the SHC dropped the charges and ordered a retrial in the case.

The retrial ordered by the high court had commenced last month.

dawn.com/news/1378946/shahzeb-murder-case-sc-moved-against-shc-decision-on-shahrukh-jatois-retrial

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Beijing seeks to improve Pak-Afghan ties: Chinese foreign minister

AFP | Dawn.comUpdated December 26, 2017

China on Tuesday expressed willingness to "improve relations" between Pakistan and Afghanistan during the first trilateral dialogue between China, Afghanistan and Pakistan's foreign ministers which was held in Beijing, ToloNews reported.

The trilateral meet is part of Chinese President Xi Jinping’s initiative to strengthen relations and develop cooperation between the three neighbouring countries.

According to ToloNews, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said that cordial relations between Islamabad and Kabul are in the interest of Afghanistan as well as the whole region.

"China aims to improve relations between the two countries. We will also be present at the Kabul Process meeting which is going to be held in February," Yi said while speaking to the media after the trilateral discussion, ToloNews reported.

Yi also said that China had agreed to help Afghanistan in the peace process, and that Pakistan would take "practical action" with respect to the Afghan peace process, according to ToloNews.

Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif, during his media talk, said that Afghanistan and Pakistan are two strong brothers.

"Pakistan urges for border management and solving the refugees issues with Afghanistan," ToloNews quoted Asif as saying.

According to Radio Pakistan, Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Hua Chunying said the three foreign ministers had an in-depth exchange on mutual political trust, reconciliation, development, counter-terrorism efforts and security cooperation between Pakistan, China and Afghanistan.

Chunying said that as a common neighbour and friend of Afghanistan and Pakistan, China has always supported friendly cooperation between the two countries and their common development.

Earlier, on the sidelines of the dialogue, Khawaja Asif also held a bilateral meeting with his Chinese counterpart, Yi.

Terror cooperation

The ministers from the three countries also agreed to work together to tackle the threat of terrorism tied to China's vast western Xinjiang region.

China depends on Afghanistan and Pakistan to help control Xinjiang's borders, where analysts say Beijing's repressive policies have engendered riots and militant attacks by members of the mostly Muslim Uighur ethnic minority that calls the area home, although China disputes the claim.

Beijing regularly accuses exiled Uighur separatist groups such as the shadowy East Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM) of orchestrating attacks in resource-rich Xinjiang and other parts of China.

It has expressed concern about Uighur militants finding sanctuary in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

“We agreed to cooperate in fighting terrorism in all its forms and manifestations and without any distinctions of any sort,” said Afghan Foreign Minister Salahuddin Rabbani after the meeting.

Afghanistan will continue its “resolute fight against ETIM and their support groups and networks, and overall counterterrorism cooperation”, he added.

China has long pushed the international community for support in addressing the problem, which it says stems from the infiltration of “radical” religious groups into Xinjiang.

In response, Beijing has placed strict controls on religious practice in the region, turning it into a virtual police state, in a campaign that analysts say has enflamed separatist sentiment.

The Chinese foreign minister said the three parties had reached complete consensus in fighting terrorism, adding that China would also “fully leverage” Xinjiang as a base for economic cooperation with the bordering countries.

China's Belt and Road infrastructure project seeks to revive ancient trade routes, including a massive overland network stretching through Xinjiang and neighbouring Afghanistan and Pakistan towards Europe.

China's expanding economic presence in Pakistan and Afghanistan has also brought some terrorism-related setbacks.

This summer two Chinese citizens travelling on business visas to Pakistan were kidnapped in Quetta. The militant Islamic State group claimed responsibility for killing them.

Pakistan said at the time that the two had been engaged in illegal preaching.

dawn.com/news/1378937/beijing-seeks-to-improve-pak-afghan-ties-chinese-foreign-minister

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Arab World

Why Lebanon PM Saad Hariri had that strange sojourn in Saudi Arabia

Anne Barnard and Maria Abi Habib | NYT News Service | Dec 25, 2017

In Saudi, Hariri was handed a prewritten resignation speech and forced to read it on Saudi television.

Hariri was just a pawn in Saudi Crown Prince’s battle to rein in the regional ambitions of the Kingdom's longtime rival, Iran.

The PM's month-long saga was another example of a brash new leader trying to change the way Saudi has worked for years.

File photo of Lebanon PM SaadHaririFile photo of Lebanon PM Saad Hariri

BEIRUT: Lebanon's prime minister, Saad Hariri, was summoned at 8:30am to the Saudi royal offices — unseemly early, by the Kingdom's standards — on the second day of a visit that was already far from what he had expected.

Hariri, long an ally of the Saudis, dressed that morning in jeans and a T-shirt, thinking he was going camping in the desert with the crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman.

But instead he was stripped of his cellphones, separated from all but one of his usual cluster of bodyguards, and shoved and insulted by Saudi security officers. Then came the ultimate indignity: He was handed a prewritten resignation speech and forced to read it on Saudi television.

This, it seemed, was the real reason he had been beckoned to the Saudi capital, Riyadh, a day earlier: to resign under pressure and publicly blame Iran, as if he were an employee and not a sovereign leader. Before going on TV, he was not even allowed to go to the house he owns there; he had to ask guards to bring him a suit.

As bizarre as the episode was, it was just one chapter in the story of Prince Mohammed, the ambitious young heir apparent determined to shake up the power structure not just of his own country but of the entire region. At home, he has jailed hundreds of fellow princes and businessmen in what he casts as an anti-corruption drive. Abroad, he has waged war in Yemen and confronted Qatar.

The day Hariri was ordered to report to Riyadh, he was just a pawn in the crown prince's overall battle: to rein in the regional ambitions of Saudi Arabia's longtime rival, Iran.

This is the back story of Hariri's long, strange sojourn in Saudi Arabia last month, as revealed in behind-the-scenes accounts from a dozen Western, Lebanese and regional officials and associates of Hariri.

Bold moves backfire

After delivering his speech, as his bewildered aides tried in vain to reach him from Beirut, Hariri did, indeed, eventually spend the evening in the desert with the crown prince, one senior Lebanese official said.

It was a surreal counterpoint to a series of events unfolding that day and into the night that set the entire Middle East on edge: a missile fired at Riyadh, the hundreds of Saudi princes and businessmen arrested, and Lebanon left stunned and confused.

Prince Mohammed had already launched a war in neighboring Yemen against Iran-aligned rebels, and gotten bogged down. He had blockaded Qatar, only to push the Gulf country closer to Iran.

Now, he was looking to take out the prime minister of another country, one who was deemed not sufficiently obedient to his Saudi patrons. The prince intended to send a message: It was time to stop Iran's Lebanese ally, Hezbollah, the powerful Shia organization that is Lebanon's most influential political actor, from growing still stronger.

The prime minister's month-long saga was another example of a brash new leader trying to change the way Saudi Arabia has worked for years, but finding that action often results in unintended consequences, especially in such a complicated region. Now, Hariri remains in office with new popularity, and Hezbollah is stronger than before.

Saudi Arabia's heavy-handed — arguably clumsy — tactics alienated even staunch allies like the United States, Kuwait, Jordan, Egypt and much of Hariri's Lebanese Sunni party. Saudi Arabia may yet clinch some modest concessions from Lebanon, officials and analysts say, but ones perhaps not worth the diplomatic storm.

The officials who described the saga were granted anonymity to speak freely about events that were highly secret and, for Hariri, deeply troubling and embarrassing. Some gaps in the story remain, given the intense pressure to keep quiet and the fact that no one person is privy to all the details — except, perhaps, Hariri, who rescinded his resignation immediately after an international diplomatic scramble brought him safely home.

Hariri did not respond to multiple requests for comment; he has said publicly that he acted freely and wants to put the Riyadh episode behind him. A senior Saudi official said in a statement only that Hariri was "treated with the utmost respect," resigned of his own accord, and remains an "honored friend" with the kingdom's support.

The Saudi moves that started November 4 came in rapid-fire succession. In the space of little more than a day, the Saudis extracted Hariri's resignation; accused Iran and Lebanon of an act of war after Yemeni rebels fired a missile at Riyadh; and rounded up the princes and businessmen on opaque corruption charges. A week later, they ordered Saudi citizens to evacuate Lebanon.

The burst of contentious actions sent war tremors across the region.

With anxieties running high, Lebanese officials worked to head off what they feared was a long-range plan by Saudi Arabia to destabilize Lebanon's volatile Palestinian refugee camps. There were even concerns in Beirut that Saudi Arabia or its Lebanese allies was seeking to form an anti-Hezbollah militia in the camps or elsewhere, two senior Lebanese officials and several Western diplomats said. No such plots came to fruition, and the Saudi official said none were even considered.

Western and Arab officials say they are still puzzling over what the Saudis hoped to accomplish with all this intrigue. Several do not rule out the possibility that they aimed to foment internal unrest in Lebanon, or even war.

What is clear, they say, is that Saudi Arabia sought to instigate a broad realignment of Lebanese politics to reduce Hezbollah's power by forcing the collapse of Hariri's coalition government, which includes Hezbollah and its allies.

But crafting the nimble and activist foreign policy that Prince Mohammed wants requires "a depth of understanding of political dynamics in other countries and an investment in diplomatic ties that can't be created overnight," said Brian Katulis, a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress in Washington.

"The competition for power and influence in today's Middle East has changed significantly," he said, "and the Saudis are playing catch-up, with very mixed results."

This risks miscalculations and escalations in a region riven by wars and tensions, he said.

Pressure points

Trouble had been brewing for years between Hariri and the Saudis.

Like his father, Rafik, before him, Hariri, owed his political career and considerable family fortune to Saudi backing. But the Saudis grumbled that Hariri's government was giving too much sway to Hezbollah, which is both a political party and a militant group not answerable to the state.

Hariri visited Riyadh in late October, and believed he had made the Saudis understand his need to compromise with Hezbollah to avoid political deadlock, officials said. Back in Beirut, to placate the Saudis, he asked Hezbollah's leader,Hassan Nasrallah, through intermediaries, to tone down his blistering speeches against Saudi Arabia's devastating war in Yemen and on Prince Mohammed personally.

That same week, a Saudi minister known as a firebrand on Iran, Thamer al-Sabhan, warned Lebanon of "astonishing" developments on the horizon and accused Hezbollah of making war on Saudi Arabia.

On Nov. 3, Hariri met with a senior Iranian official, Ali Akbar Velayati, who then praised Iran's cooperation with Lebanon. That may have been the last straw for the Saudis.

Within hours, Hariri received a message from the Saudi king — come now — ahead of a meeting that had been scheduled days later, a senior Lebanese official said. A well-connected Lebanese analyst, Johnny Munayyer, said the prime minister was invited to spend a day in the desert with the prince.

But when he landed in Riyadh, Saudi officials took Hariri to his house and told him to wait — not for the king, but for the prince. He waited, from 6 p.m. to 1am No one came.

The next morning, he was summoned to meet the prince. There was no customary royal convoy, so Hariri took his own car. And instead of meeting the prince, officials said, he was manhandled by Saudi officials.

Lebanese officials described the long hours between the arrival and the resignation as a "black box." They said they were reluctant to press Hariri for details. When asked, one of them said, Hariri just looked down at the table and said it was worse than they knew.

Saudi Arabia had many pressure points to use against Hariri. It could threaten to expel the 250,000 or so Lebanese workers in Saudi Arabia, damaging Lebanon's economy. And since Hariri is a dual Saudi citizen, with extensive business dealings in a country where kickbacks are endemic, they could threaten him personally. An Arab diplomat said Hariri was threatened with corruption charges.

The prime minister was handed a resignation speech to read, which he did at 2:30 p.m. from a room an official said was down the hall from the prince's office. The text blamed Hezbollah and claimed his life was in danger; it used words that associates said did not sound like him.

Hours later, the Saudi authorities began their corruption roundups, detaining two of Hariri's former business partners, a reminder of his own vulnerability.

Unrealistic expectations

In Lebanon, Western diplomats and Lebanese officials said, the Saudis expected the resignation would be taken at face value and bring about a mass outpouring of popular support from Hezbollah's opponents. Instead, Lebanon reacted with mass suspicion. No one took to the streets. And Lebanon's president, Michel Aoun, a Hezbollah ally, refused to accept the resignation unless Hariri delivered it in person.

After disappearing for hours, Hariri made his first known call to Aoun, who realized that the prime minister was not speaking freely. Lebanese officials began making the rounds to puzzled Western diplomats with an unusual message: We have reason to believe our prime minister has been detained.

Hariri, the officials said, was eventually placed with Saudi guards in a guesthouse on his own property, forbidden to see his wife and children. Within days, several Western ambassadors visited him there. They came away with conflicting impressions of how free he was. There were two Saudi guards in the room, officials said, and when the diplomats asked if the guards could leave, Hariri said no, they could stay.

Lebanon's internal intelligence chief, Gen. Abbas Ibrahim, put it this way to envoys who could not quite believe a leader could be forced by foreign officials to resign, a senior official said: "It's simple: I could bring two soldiers and put you on TV saying you hate your country."

Meanwhile, the Saudi prince, apparently undaunted by international concerns, summoned yet another leader, the Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas, and issued instructions on Palestinian politics. Officials differ on what Abbas was told in Riyadh. But Lebanese officials were alarmed. They dispatched Ibrahim and a Palestinian envoy to Amman, Jordan, to debrief Abbas, three senior Lebanese officials said.

Concerns were high for several reasons. The Saudi recommendations to Abbas could destabilize the fractious Palestinian refugee camps in Lebanon, a senior Lebanese official said. Separately, a Lebanese ally of the Saudis had urged jihadi factions in one Palestinian camp to form a "Sunni resistance" militia to counter Hezbollah — an idea so dangerous that the jihadis themselves refused, Lebanese and Palestinian officials and a Western diplomat said.

The Saudis and Abbas's spokesman denied the accounts.

On a visit to Washington soon after Hariri's televised resignation, Sabhan, the Saudi minister of Gulf affairs, got a withering reception, Western and Arab officials said, from David M. Satterfield, the State Department's acting assistant secretary for Near Eastern Affairs. He demanded that Sabhan explain why Riyadh was destabilizing Lebanon.

Intense diplomacy followed by France, the United States, Egypt and other countries, producing a deal that allowed Hariri to leave Saudi Arabia.

But Prince Mohammed sent him home with a task: to get Hezbollah to withdraw its fighters from Yemen, Lebanese officials and Western and Arab diplomats involved in the deal said. That demand proved, the Western and Arab diplomats said, that the prince was not well-informed on Yemen, sometimes called "Riyadh's Vietnam." Hezbollah, a Western diplomat said, had only about 50 fighters in Yemen, with Iran playing a much larger role in training and aiding the Houthis.

To end the war in Yemen, a Lebanese official said, Beirut is "the wrong P.O. box."

Riyadh did get something out of the turmoil. Lebanese officials are seeking a deal with Hezbollah that could include toning down Hezbollah's anti-Saudi rhetoric — as Hariri requested even before the Riyadh episode — and shuttering a pro-Houthi television station in Beirut.

It remains unclear if Hariri can deliver enough to placate Riyadh. Nasrallah's speeches have omitted critiques of Prince Mohammed lately, and on Wednesday, he called for peace talks in Yemen, a major step.

Then again, on Tuesday, Yemen's Houthis fired another missile at Riyadh.

timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/middle-east/why-lebanon-pm-saad-hariri-had-that-strange-sojourn-in-saudi-arabia/articleshow/62242845.cms

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In Muslim-dominated UAE, a Pinay finds a quiet but meaningful Christmas

Published December 26, 2017 4:07pm

It was a chilly and ordinary night in the United Arab Emirates.

The streets were deserted, the fog had begun to set, and as I waited for my bus ride home, the only sounds I could hear were the revved up cars and the loud chatter of some Indians and Pakistanis nearby. The temperature read 17 degrees Celsius on my phone.

 There were few fairy lights in red, green, and white colors that lit up the road, but these were just leftovers from UAE's founding anniversary celebration, on December 2.

If not for the deluge of greetings on Facebook messenger from back home, I would not have been convinced that it's Christmas Eve.

In a Muslim-dominated country like the UAE, Christmas is a fleeting affair, almost non-existent, save for the Christian expatriates — like Pinoy OFWs — who are determined to celebrate it. Some emirates like Dubai seem to be more embracing about this religion-based tradition, but generally, celebrations are pretty much confined and isolated.

To begin with, most stores only begin to sell Christmas trees and decorations after UAE's National Day, the country’s founding anniversary when all the emirates or provinces decided to come in union to become the country it is known today.

Merely few establishments and malls manage to spruce up their places with festive hues of Christmas.

In the Philippines, we're used to festivities beginning as early as September, with Christmas carols led by Jose Mari Chan getting more airtime as December 25 nears. Malls are teeming with last-minute Christmas shoppers, groceries are gluttoned with the usual Christmas foodfare, and EDSA turns into a parking lot.

 On why I left the country is another story, but it was a choice I had to make for my family and my future. An opportunity came in the form my father, who is just one of the countless kabayans that ventured the desert land to look for greener pastures.

Let me make it clear: Christmas here is not entirely “dead,” but it’s unusually quiet and low-key for such a glorious season in this part of the world.

I guess I am among the lucky ones. A few days ago, I attended a Christmas party with new kabayan colleagues at work. It was a simple picnic at a nearby park, but it had the true essence of a PaskongPinoy just the same. The fun that the games stirred was so contagious, it attracted fellow picnickers and foreign onlookers.

“Can I also try?” asked an old Caucasian-looking woman who happened to have watched our relay game that involved paper plates clipped by the armpits and thigh. We replied with a resounding yes.

When she finished, we burst into cheers and claps. She was beaming and giving us high-five, and she thanked us for the experience. Later on, some Arabic and Indian kids began to swarm to our little huddle to watch.

Christmas as a national holiday will never happen in the UAE. But my foreign boss was kind enough to allow his staff of kabayans to take the day off.

“We’re guessing you’re going home again to Al Ain later?” a few of my officemates quipped as we ate lunch during the two-hour break.

I said yes, and I could hear my voice giving away the excitement I tried to suppress.

 So, straight from our duty I took off for Al Ain, an idyllic city east of Abu Dhabi where my father lives, which also served as my home for months before I moved to another emirate for work.

The bus I've taken had a lot of kabayans going home, too. They were all on their phones, and I was sure they were in touch with their relatives back home. I smiled at the sight and thought about my mother, brother, cousin, and my significant other, all of them I had been in touch with earlier in the day.

I noticed, too, that most of them had bought something from the nearby mall. I figured they were presents either for themselves or for their monitos and monitas that they'll reveal later that evening, as they gather in somebody else’s home to celebrate Christmas together.

I heard some of them talking about going to church first thing in the morning the following day. I thought, Christmas is alive and well.

Even if my family back home doesn't celebrate Christmas, I'd be a hypocrite to say I don't miss the Christmas festivities in the Philippines.

Like every kabayan who had to endure thousands of kilometers of distance from their loved ones, I was longing for home.

I arrived in Al Ain an hour before midnight. Waiting for me at the accommodation were a tubby and not-so-stray cat I named Munongnong. On the table was a delicious plate of pansit that reminded me so much of the Philippines, and there was my father who had spent several holidays alone.

gmanetwork.com/news/lifestyle/familyandrelationships/637721/in-muslim-dominated-uae-a-pinay-finds-a-quiet-but-meaningful-christmas/story/

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Syrian Air Force Turns Different Parts of Idlib Province into Hell for Terrorists

Tue Dec 26, 2017 11:59

The army aircraft hit several times the Al-Nusra positions in the towns of Tal Amaraha, Sheikh Barakah near the town of Sinjar in SoutheasternIdlib and the small town of al-Zafar al-Kabir near the town of Abu Dhohour in Northern Idlib, destroying several command centers and killing a number of terrorists.

In the meantime, a command center of Al-Nusra was bombed and damaged in the army air raids West of Tal (hill) Touqan in Eastern Idlib.   

Local sources confirmed on Monday that the Al-Nusra Front stormed the towns of Fua'a and Kafraya, violating the de-escalation zone agreement that was put in place months ago.

The sources said that the terrorists attempted to enter the towns after launching their attack from the Binnish region.

The terrorists' assault at this besieged pocket was repelled after several hours of fighting and a large number of militants were killed.

Fua’a and Kafraya were protected by the pro-government National Defense Forces (NDF), Syrian Hezbollah and Lebanese Hezbollah.

en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13961005000485

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Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques Orders to Promote 427 Members at Public Prosecution

Tuesday 1439/4/8 - 2017/12/26

Riyadh, Rabi'II 08, 1439, December 26, 2017, SPA -- The Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud has issued a royal order to promote 427 members at the Public Prosecution.

Public Prosecutor Sheikh Saud bin Abdullah Al-Muajab appreciated the royal order, pointing out that it comes within the framework of the continuing support by the King and HRH Crown Prince for the Public Prosecution.

spa.gov.sa/viewfullstory.php?lang=en&newsid=1702650

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Syrian Army Paving Ground to Expel Al-Nusra Terrorists from Southern Damascus

Tue Dec 26, 2017 11:46

The Arabic-language al-Etehad press quoted two well-informed sources as saying that Commander of Al-Nusra in Yarmouk Palestinian Refugee Camp Abu Bakr al-Amni and two of his aides have had a meeting with Colonel Talal al-Ali, one of the senior commanders of the Army, at the Patrolling Forces Building in Damascus on Wednesday to pave the way for the relocation of the remaining pockets of Al-Nusra fighters from the Southern countryside of Damascus city to Northern Syria.

Al-Etehad further said that the Al-Nusra has been asked to hand over arms to the relevant officials, end military presence in Southern Syria in return for government amnesty for those who apply for pardoning to stay in the region.

Al-Rijeh region and its nearby areas that are home to Al-Nusra militants are included in a truce agreement between the Syrian government, former Jeish al-Fatah and al-Nusra.    

The Arabic-language al-Watan daily quoted local sources as saying earlier this month that rifts and difference intensified among ISIL's commanders in recent days.

The daily said that gaps went so deep among ISIL members and commanders in the town of Hajar al-Aswad and the Palestinian Yarmouk Refugee Camp in the Southern countryside of Damascus city that they defected and started independent organizations.

Al-Watan further said that a number of ISIL fighters have escaped from the region towards other regions or surrendered to the Syrian Army troops.

en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13961005000424

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Syrian Army on Threshold of Purging Southwestern Damascus of Terrorists

Tue Dec 26, 2017 11:39

The army men captured al-Kianat region, and Harqal and al-Manbaji Farms East of Beit Jinn Farm in Southwestern Damascus, and deployed forces 500 meter away from Sheikh Abdullah Maqam, a main stronghold of the Al-Nusra.

In the meantime, the army soldiers discovered Israeli medical products in the position of Al-Nusra fighters.

Social media activists said on Monday that a number of Al-Nusra members were killed in heavy fighting with the army men near the town of Beit Jinn and its Farm in Southwestern Damascus.

The sources added that the Al-Nusra's notorious Commander Abu Sa'ad al-Maldivi from the Maldives was among the dead terrorists. 

en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13961005000281

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Countdown Starts for Syrian Army's Large-Scale Operation against Terrorists in Idlib

Tue Dec 26, 2017 12:8

The sources said that the army has deployed a large number of forces and a large volume of equipment in Northern Hama and Southern Idlib, adding that the ground troops are waiting for the final order to storm the strongholds of Al-Nusra Front (Tahrir al-Sham Hay'at or the Levant Liberation Board) in the Northwestern province of Idlib.

The sources added that the artillery and missile units have launched an unprecedented shelling of the Al-Nusra positions and movements in Northeastern Hama and Southern Idlib to pin down the terrorists behind their positions.

In the meantime, army officers said that their soldiers are standing at the height of preparedness for the start of a large-scale operation against the Al-Nusra in Northern Hama and Southern Idlib.

The source further said that the Syrian Air Force has been carrying out a large number of sorties over the Al-Nusra positions in Northern Hama up to Saraqib region in Eastern Idlib.

He added that the army's Special Forces are now well-prepared for storming the enemy positions from different flanks, decreasing the Al-Nusra' military movements in the region as much as possible.  

Local sources confirmed on Monday that the Al-Nusra Front stormed the towns of Fua'a and Kafraya, violating the de-escalation zone agreement that was put in place months ago.

The sources said that the terrorists attempted to enter the towns after launching their attack from the Binnish region.

The terrorists' assault at this besieged pocket was repelled after several hours of fighting and a large number of militants were killed.

Fua’a and Kafraya were protected by the pro-government National Defense Forces (NDF), Syrian Hezbollah and Lebanese Hezbollah.

en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13961005000688

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ISIS militants kill Taliban commander and his fighters in Nangarhar

By Khaama Press - Tue Dec 26 2017, 11:58 am

The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) terrorist group loyalists in Afghanistan have killed a local Taliban commander in eastern Nangarhar province.

The provincial government media office in a statement said a local Taliban leader identified as Katib was killed in Chaparhar district late on Sunday night.

The statement further added that two other Taliban group members, apparently fighters of Katib, were also killed by the ISIS militants.

According to the Nangarhar government, Katib was originally a resident of eastern Laghman province of Afghanistan and was operating in the Taliban ranks in Nangarhar province.

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

Nangarhar is among the relatively calm provinces in East of Afghanistan but the security situation of the province has started to deteriorate during the recent years.

The military commission chief of the ISIS terrorist group loyalists in Afghanistan was killed in an airstrike conducted by the US forces in this province on Friday.

The provincial government media office in a statement Saturday said at least two foreign ISIS militants were killed in an airstrike conducted in Nazian district late on Friday night.

The statement further added that the airstrike by the unmanned aerial vehicles was carried out in Lal Mandawi area, leaving three Pakistani nationals dead, including the military commission of ISIS group.

According to the Nangarhar government, the slain ISIS leader has been identified as Syd Waliandhe was a resident of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa of Pakistan.

khaama.com/isis-militants-kill-taliban-commander-and-his-fighters-in-nangarhar-04124

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Pro-Gov't Forces Repel Terrorists' Heavy Offensive in Northwestern Syria

Tue Dec 26, 2017 2:32

The popular forces in Fua'a and Kafraya that are under the siege of the militant groups engaged in heavy fighting with the Al-Nusra fighters that had raided the Southern entrance of Fua'a from the nearby Binnish region and managed to beat them back.

A field source said that the popular forces, in a rapid counter-attack, hit Al-Nusra position hard in Deir al-Zaqab region, inflicting major losses on the terrorists.

Local sources confirmed on Monday that the Al-Nusra Front stormed Fua'a and Kafraya, violating the de-escalation zone agreement that was put in place months ago.

The sources said that the terrorists attempted to enter the towns after launching their attack from the Binnish region.

The terrorists' assault at this besieged pocket was repelled after several hours of fighting and a large number of militants were killed.

Fua’a and Kafraya were protected by the pro-government National Defense Forces (NDF), Syrian Hezbollah and Lebanese Hezbollah.

en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13961005001150

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Al-Nusra Media Chief Killed in Syrian Airstrikes in Northern Hama

Tue Dec 26, 2017 2:30

The sources said that Head of Al-Nusra-affiliated Eba news website Abu HamzahHomawi was killed in the air assault on one of the command centers of Al-Nusra in Northern Hama.

The sources further added that al-Homawi's aide was also badly injured in the raid.

In the meantime, other sources reported that Al-Nusra, in a statement, has threatened its forces that have escaped the battlefield of arrest and persecution.

The Al-Nusra ordered the group's commanders to give only three days to the fugitive members to return to their units in the battlefields.

Also, the Saudi Mufti (religious leader) of Al-Nusra Abdullah al-Muhaysini disclosed that the group's fighters in Northeastern Hama and SoutheasternIdlib are in very bad shape after the recent advances of the Syrian Army troops in the provinces.

Field sources confirmed earlier today that the warplanes pounded vastly Al-Nusra's strongholds in al-Hamra and al-Sa'an regions in Eastern and Northeastern Hama, inflicting major losses on the terrorists.

The sources went on to say that several positions and military vehicles of Al-Nusra were destroyed in the air raids in the villages of Malvalah, al-Mosheirefeh, Abu Dali, al-Toweibiyeh and Rajm al-Mosharaf.

In the meantime, a large number of Al-Nusra fighters were killed or wounded in the repeated attacks of the army aircraft in the villages and towns of al-Shakousiyeh, al-Rahjan, Um Mayal and Bayouz in Hama province.

en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13961005001111

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Terrorists Acknowledge Heavy Defeat in Battle with Syrian Army in Southwestern Damascus

Tue Dec 26, 2017 1:15

The sources said that tens of terrorists have been killed or wounded and their military hardware has been majorly damaged in the army operation.

The sources added that Abu al-Darda'a has acknowledged that tens of his forces have been killed and dozens of others have been captured in recent battle with the army men in Southwestern Damascus.

Reports said earlier today that the army men captured al-Kianat region, and Harqal and al-Manbaji Farms East of Beit Jinn Farm in Southwestern Damascus, and deployed forces 500 meter away from Sheikh Abdullah Maqam, a main stronghold of the Al-Nusra.

In the meantime, the army soldiers discovered Israeli medical products in the position of Al-Nusra fighters.

en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13961005000788

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Al-Nusra Terrorists Accept Army Terms to Leave Southwestern Damascus

Tue Dec 26, 2017 12:3

The Arabic-language al-Watan daily reported that the Al-Nusra has accepted the entire terms and conditions of the army for evacuating Southwestern Damascus in the next 48 hours and called on the army to halt military operations after the army captured al-Kanayat region North of Harfa and Tal (hill) Amer and advanced further towards Sariyeh Aziz and Rajm al-Qanas.

The daily further said that the first group of terrorists will leave the region today, adding that the remaining pockets of the terrorists who do not intend to leave Southwestern Damascus will receive government amnesty after surrendering their arms and applying for pardoning. 

In the meantime, a source in the Reconciliation Committee said that based on the agreement the Al-Nusra militants and their family members are to leave the region for Idlib province in Northwestern Syria and the entire villages in Jabal al-Sheikh region will be delivered to the army and local security forcers.

Field sources, meantime, reported that a number of commanders of Al-Nusra have escaped the battlefield in Southwestern Damascus and moved towards the borders with Lebanon and Shab'aa and some of them moved towards Israeli monitoring posts in the occupied Golan Heights following the army advances in the region.

Social media activists said on Monday that a number of Al-Nusra members were killed in heavy fighting with the army men near the town of Beit Jinn and its Farm in Southwestern Damascus.

The sources added that the Al-Nusra's notorious Commander Abu Sa'ad al-Maldivi from the Maldives was among the dead terrorists.

en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13961005000590

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Islamic State militants killed by paramilitary troops in Hamreenmountains

Dec 26, 2017, 11:08 am

Diyala (IraqiNews.com) The pro-government paramilitary troops have announced killing Islamic State militants on Tuesday.

“Troops of the 88th of al-Hashd al-Shaabi {Popular Mobilization Forces) destroyed on Tuesday two vehicles loaded with weapons for IS militant in Hamreen mountains,” the media service of the forces said in a statement.

“Troops managed to kill the militants who were on board the vehicles,” the statement added without clarifying the number of militants killed.

On Monday, two IS members were killed as the forces carried out a wide- scale campaign in Hamreen mountains.

In October, Iraqi army’s ninth armored division and PMFs announced imposing full control on Hamreenmountains, northeastern Iraq.

Iraqi Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi announced, earlier this month, full liberation of Iraqi lands, declaring end of war against IS members.

Thousands of IS militants as well as Iraqi civilians were killed since the government campaign, backed by paramilitary troops and the coalition was launched in October 2016 to fight the militant group, which declared a self-styled “caliphate” from Mosul in June 2014. Since then, forces took back the group’s former capital, Mosul, the town of Tal Afar, Kirkuk’s Hawija, and each of Annah, Rawa and Qaim in Anbar.

The war against IS has displaced nearly five million people, with tens of thousands of civilians and militants killed since the launch of the offensives to recapture occupied cities.

iraqinews.com/iraq-war/islamic-state-militants-killed-paramilitary-troops-hamreen-mountains/

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Islamic State claims responsibility for attack killing security personnel in Kirkuk

byNehal Mostafa | Dec 26, 2017, 9:42 am

 Kirkuk (IraqiNews.com) Islamic State has claimed responsibility for the attack that targeted security personnel and a senior tribesman earlier this week.

A report issued by the militant group’s media arm Amaq agency on Monday said that eight Iraqi security personnel, including six officers and two colonels were killed in an operation by the militants on Riyad-Hawija road.

Another statement by the group’s so-called Kirkuk State Media Center said militants targeted several personnel of al-Hashd al-Shaabi (Popular Mobilization Forces) killing eight of them, including six officers.

On Sunday, Kirkuk police said the militants carried out an attack against security troops in al-Rubeida village, south of the province. The attack killed each of Col. Fadel al-Sabaawi, police department chief, his son, a Federal Police personnel, Cap. Ali Ahmed, Maher Ali and Saeed Ahmed, from Tribal Mobilization Forces, and Walid Nuri head of al-Geheish tribe.

According to sources, several IS militants set up an ambush on the road linking between Kirkuk and Hawija.

Maj. Gen. Ali FadelUmran, Commander of Kirkuk Operations, told Alghad Press on Monday that six militants involved in the attack were killed in an operation to follow the militants took place at al-Saadiya village in Hawija.

Earlier this week, security troops in Kirkuk announced applying a one-week plan to protect civilians during the celebrations of Christmas and the New Year at the province.

iraqinews.com/features/islamic-state-claims-responsibility-attack-killing-security-personnel-kirkuk/

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Europe

Metro Detroit Jewish, Muslim volunteers perform good deeds on Christmas

10:45 PM, Dec 25, 2017

Detroit, MICHIGAN (WXYZ) - On Christmas, many Jewish and Muslim volunteers joined forces to commit good deeds so that their Christian neighbors could have more time with their families.

More than 1,000 Muslim and Jewish people went to work volunteering around metro Detroit at more than 50 events this year.  The day has become known as Mitzvah Day.   

Mitzvah Day is presented by the Jewish Community Relations Council and the Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Detroit. A mitzvah is a good deed that is done as an act of faith. 

Volunteers worked in soup kitchens, spent time helping the elderly, helped people with disabilities and did other good work. 

For more information about Mitzvah Day, call the Jewish Community Relations Council at 248-642-5393. 

wxyz.com/news/metro-detroit-jewish-muslim-volunteers-perform-good-deeds-on-christmas

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Russia: US, Canadian Weapons Sent to Ukraine May End up in Middle East Terrorists’ Hands

Tue Dec 26, 2017 2:49

First Canada and then the US announced that they had decided to supply lethal weapons to Ukraine, purportedly for self-defense. But these countries should consider the risks associated with transferring advanced weapons to a country infamous for its high level of corruption, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister GrigoryKarasin told RIA Novosti.

“Are Washington and Ottawa certain that their weapons will not end up in ‘the wrong hands’? For example, in the hands of terrorists? Or sold by crooked Ukrainian dealers to the Middle East or some other region that the US considers sensitive for its interests?” he remarked, adding that “We ask these questions to our partners across the ocean; call on them to re-examine the risks associated with such hasty moves.”

The US is no stranger to arming factions in foreign nations, though the effectiveness of the tactic is questionable. The latest example is Syria, where Washington provided various forms of support to armed groups seeking to topple the government in Damascus. This included supplying advanced weapons, bought from nearby countries like Bulgaria and Romania. Many of those weapons ended up in the hands of the terrorist group ISIL, according to a report of arms tracking group CAR published this month.

Moscow had also stressed that Washington's intention to provide lethal arms to Ukraine ‘crosses a red line’ and pushes Kiev towards bloodshed.

The move by the US government is an escalation compared to the previous practice of providing weapons to Kiev through contracts with American arms producers, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov said in a statement.

“In a sense, the US has crossed a line,” he added.

The Russian diplomat stressed that Washington can no longer claim the role of mediator in the Ukrainian conflict, because in fact it’s an “accomplice in igniting a war.”

Kremlin Spokesman Dmitry Peskov had stressed that “This [lethal weapon supply] will once again motivate loose cannons among those nationalists who are solely seeking to switch over to a use-of-force method to settle the situation in Donbass, an absolutely dead-end technique, which would unleash bloodshed again".

The US and Canada earlier authorized deliveries of lethal weapons to Ukraine to boost its defensive capabilities. The country’s military is currently involved in a stand-off with self-proclaimed republics in the east, who rejected the 2014 armed coup in Kiev. The hostilities have been somewhat curbed since their peak in early 2015, thanks to a peace agreement negotiated with the help of Russia, Germany and France.

The Department of State spokesperson Heather Nauert said on Friday that the US Administration has taken a decision to supply advanced defensive systems to Ukraine as part of Washington’s efforts to build up the long-term defense capability of the Ukrainian government.

"The United States has decided to provide Ukraine enhanced defensive capabilities as part of our effort to help Ukraine build its long-term defense capacity, to defend its sovereignty and territorial integrity, and to deter further aggression," Nauert added.

"US assistance is entirely defensive in nature, and as we have always said, Ukraine is a sovereign country and has a right to defend itself," she claimed, stressing that "The United States remains committed to the Minsk agreements as the way forward in Eastern Ukraine."

Earlier reports suggested the new level of American support will allow Ukraine to obtain anti-tank missiles, possibly including the US-made portable Javelin system, long-sought by Kiev. The total “defense package” will amount to $47 million and also covers the sale of 210 anti-tank missiles and 35 launchers.

The Donald Trump administration reportedly approved a $41.5 million package of Model M107A1 sniper systems to Kiev, while Russia has criticized the move.

Since the 2014 coup, Kiev has been looking for military means to preserve the the status quo, while the international community, especially Moscow, has been urging Ukraine to abide by the Minsk Agreements. The deal between Kiev and the self-proclaimed Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics – brokered by the leaders of France, Germany and Russia in February 2015 – remains the only viable roadmap to achieve peace in Ukraine.

Amongst the list of measures, the 13-step memorandum obliges Kiev to implement comprehensive constitutional reforms which would decentralize the Ukrainian political system and give more freedoms to the Donetsk and Lugansk regions. Ukrainian authorities also pledged to extend amnesty, lift the economic blockade and restore social payments in the breakaway regions. Kiev, however, continues to challenge the order of steps outlined in the agreement, and insists that the border with Russia – the rebellious regions' main lifeline – be transferred under its control first. Ukraine's military also routinely violates the ceasefire agreement despite the agreed pullout of heavy weapons.

en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13961005001226

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Anger as pork hurled in race hate attack on Belfast Islamic centre

By Claire Williamson

December 26 2017

Members of the Belfast Islamic Centre say they have received many messages of support after pig meat was thrown through the door on Saturday.

It is the latest in a spate of race hate attacks on the Muslim community.

Staff said due to a "number of incidents" they are asking the community to remain vigilant and report anything untoward to police.

Other incidents include "hate messages" being posted on the centre's Facebook page, and a couple of months ago paint was thrown on the building.

The latest targeting of the centre came during night-time prayers.

The Belfast Islamic Centre said: "Thankfully pork is not Muslim kryptonite and nobody was harmed, however the message behind the action was one of hate.

"We know this individual does not represent the majority of people in Northern Ireland and reject this attempt to stir up tension and divisions between Muslims and non-Muslims in Northern Ireland."

Dr Raied Al Wazzan, the treasurer of the centre, told the BBC: "We have received many messages of support. They (the attackers) will not succeed. We have a very good relationship with all communities in Northern Ireland and we work hard with our outreach."

South Belfast DUP MP Emma Little Pengelly condemned those responsible.

She tweeted: "Attacking our small Muslim community in Belfast is completely wrong, achieves nothing and is entirely misdirected.

"I have previously personally visited this centre.

"The response is in good humour, but the intent was not.

"UK right to religious belief is fundamental and protected."

The Muslim Council of Britain said it stands in solidarity with the Belfast Islamic Centre.

Secretary general Harun Khan said: "There is no place for such hate within our society.

"The fact that this is not the first such attack means swift action needs to be taken to ensure the safety and security of the mosque and the surrounding community."

Police in south Belfast said they were treating it as a hate incident.

belfasttelegraph.co.uk/news/northern-ireland/anger-as-pork-hurled-in-race-hate-attack-on-belfast-islamic-centre-36435211.html

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DM: Russia Starts Forming Permanent Groups in Syria's Bases

Tue Dec 26, 2017 1:9

"Last week, the supreme commander-in-chief approved the structure and staff of the main bases in Tartus and Humymim. We started forming a permanent group there," Shoigu said, RIA Novosti reported.

The statement follows Russian President Vladimir Putin's surprise visit to the Humymim airbase in December, and his order to start the withdrawal of the main part of Russian troop contingents in the region back to the places of their permanent location, with the bases in Humymim and Tartus maintaining their operation.

The minister went on by saying that the Russian armed forces are equipped with modern weapons for 59.5%, for serviceability of weapons at 94%. The anti-aircraft defense of the Humymim airbase is ensured by cutting edge S-400 system, while S-300 surface-to-air missile systems, as well as the Bastion coastal missile systems with cruise missiles, cover the Russian Navy base in Tartus.

In his previous statements, Shoigu has specified that the Russian military contingent had already begun the pullout from Syria, noting, however, that the timetable of the withdrawal would be determined by the situation on the ground.

Russia began a two-year long military campaign in Syria in late September 2015 at the request of Syrian President Bashar Assad to fight ISIL, resulting in the clearing out of more than 90 percent of Daesh-held territories, including the ancient city of Palmyra (Tadmur) in Homs province, and killing of over 54,000 terrorists.

However, Russia continues its humanitarian assistance to the war-torn country, delivering tonnes of aid and providing medical support on a daily basis.

en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13961005000902

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Putin supports US military presence in Afghanistan

By KHAAMA PRESS - Tue Dec 26 2017

The Russian President Vladimir Putin has emphasized on the importance role of the US military presence in Afghanistan as he expressed concerns regarding the deteriorating security situation in Afghanistan, saying the situation in Afghanistan would have been probably worse in the absence of the US forces.

Putin reportedly made the remarks during a meeting with a delegation of the Russian parliamentarians on Sunday.

“Indeed, it [the situation with terrorist threat in Afghanistan] has worsened, it is true, it keeps deteriorating,” Putin told a meeting with the parliamentary leadership.

“But if the US were not there, it would probably be worse,” Putin was quoted as saying in a report by TASS News Agency. “Russia and the US “have complex relationship, but we must approach the subject objectively,” Putin said.

According to Putin, the Taliban gunmen are stationed practically along the whole border between Afghanistan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. However, encouraging signals are also seen in spite of everything, Putin stressed. “I spoke with the president of Turkmenistan today, and he reiterated his plans to build a gas transmission system across Afghanistan and further to its neighbors – Pakistan and India,” Putin said.

“He invites us to participate. Generally, certain projects are indeed implemented there, and quite successfully, including by Turkmenistan. But we must take a look, of course, at how feasible projects of this kind will be,” the president noted.

khaama.com/putin-supports-us-military-presence-in-afghanistan-04122

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Southeast Asia

In Myanmar, hatred for Rohingya Muslims runs so deep that a diplomat called them 'ugly as ogres' — and got promoted

Tue Dec 26, 2017 11:59

yawadySayadaw, a crimson-robed monk whose eyes dance behind round spectacles, casts himself as a genial warrior in Myanmar’s long struggle against military rule.

Inside his monastery stands a tall stone monument to students killed in pro-democracy protests. In 2007, he and tens of thousands of monks marched peacefully in streets nationwide, staring down columns of soldiers in what was dubbed the Saffron Revolution.

Today, with the military having yielded some powers to an elected government, MyawadySayadaw peppers his sermons with references to human rights and interfaith understanding. But when it comes to Myanmar’s most explosive political issue — the army-led purging of Rohingya Muslims — the outspoken monk becomes taciturn.

“Buddha loves all people and teaches us to try to resolve suffering, but we have a duty to protect our country at the same time,” he said at his simple monastery outside the northern city of Mandalay.

“Most of the Muslims,” he went on, “are extremists.”

In Myanmar, formerly known as Burma, hatred for the Rohingya runs far deeper than the fears over Islamist terrorism that the army has used to justify a ruthless, four-month crackdown in the western state of Rakhine. Soldiers have killed, raped or maimed thousands of Rohingya, according to international human rights groups, and more than 640,000 have fled across the border to refugee camps in Bangladesh.

The antipathy toward the small Muslim minority — in a country that is 90% Buddhist — is a virulent brew of ethnic, economic and religious nationalism promulgated for decades by the military, and spread easily via social media across a population with some of the lowest education levels in Southeast Asia.

It is built fundamentally on racial differences: The Rohingya, who are denied citizenship in Myanmar, are physically and culturally more similar to the peoples of Bangladesh and India than to Myanmar’s ethnic Bamar majority. Scholars say they descend from Arab and Persian traders who arrived in what is now western Myanmar more than 1,000 years ago.

Those differences have driven a deep wedge through this country of 50 million. Of all the monks, student activists, ethnic guerrillas and other dissidents who once opposed the army’s abuses, almost none have spoken up for the country’s most beleaguered people.

“All these democratic activists, when they talk about human rights and citizens’ rights, they have a prejudice — the Rohingya are not included,” said ThetSwe Win, director of the Center for Youth and Social Harmony, a Myanmar nonprofit.

“No one is on the Rohingyas’ side. That is the tragedy here.”

For years, Myanmar’s army has rallied Buddhists by claiming a Muslim plot to overtake the country. It rewrote the country’s arcane citizenship laws to exclude the Rohingya, and routinely ignored hardline monks who spewed hatred toward Muslims.

The propaganda was seemingly confirmed after a small insurgent group — the ArakanRohingya Salvation Army, or ARSA — rose up last year and began attacking Myanmar security forces. Now monks such as MyawadySayadaw freely reconcile Buddha’s nonviolent teachings with a military offensive that some call a possible genocide.

“Once ARSA emerged, it allowed even pro-peace, pro-interfaith people in the country to write off the Rohingya as a terrorist threat, no matter how implausible that is,” said Matthew Walton, a professor and Myanmar expert at the University of Oxford.

“In this case, government officials have a very good sense of what public sentiment is, so almost no one is going to object to something nasty about the Rohingya.”

There was little outcry in October after one of the country’s most influential monks, SitaguSayadaw, gave a speech at a military base in which he appeared to justify ethnic cleansing. He invoked a parable about an ancient Sri Lankan king who was advised not to grieve for the many Hindus he killed in battle because non-Buddhists were not human beings.

MyawadySayadaw said his fellow clergyman’s words were “dangerous.” But in the next breath he accused the international media of exaggerating the violence against the Rohingya.

“Outsiders shouldn’t blame our country so easily,” he said. “We need to search for the truth in Rakhine state. I don’t believe the media reports, and our people don’t believe them either.”

Aung San Suu Kyi, the Nobel Peace Prize winner who spent years under house arrest and now heads the civilian government, has been pilloried internationally for defending the military, but remains Myanmar’s most popular politician.

Of the dozens of ethnic minority groups that long battled the army for greater rights, only one — a women’s organization representing ethnic Karen, many of whom are Christians — has issued a statement condemning the military’s campaign against the Rohingya.

As one of the few Myanmar activists to champion the Rohingya cause, ThetSwe Win, 31, has come under attack on social media. Nationalist groups have labeled him “a maggot” and accused him of taking bribes from Muslim countries.

His mother said she couldn’t support his work. Friends have deserted him.

“Most of the people inside Burma, all the information they get is from government propaganda and from nationalist groups,” he said. “So this is how most Burmese people believe that those Rohingya are not from our country.”

When the army took power in 1962, it began pushing the narrative that the Rohingya had been brought into Myanmar illegally by British colonial rulers, who used laborers from present-day India and Bangladesh to build roads and infrastructure. The generals created an educational system that inculcated bigotry in generations of schoolchildren.

One Rohingya, Wakar Uddin, remembers such lessons from his days as a sixth-grader in Rakhine in the late 1960s. His class read a story that described Indians as filthy street-sweepers with monstrous features; Uddin recalled liberal use of the slur kalar — used to describe dark-skinned people — and that when the teacher read from the book, Buddhist students laughed and applauded.

“That book was poison,” said Uddin, a biology professor at Penn State who directs the ArakanRohingya Union, an advocacy group.

“Over 50 or 60 years, the army provided fertile ground for hate, and putting that into the mind of a third- or fourth-grader brings you the results we are seeing today,” he said.

ven as the Myanmar government and Bangladesh pursue a plan to repatriate Rohingya refugees starting in January, the state-supported climate of hate makes it all but impossible to imagine that many could return.

“If we were Buddhists, the whole Bamar majority would take our side. But we are Muslims,” said Nay San Lwin, a Rohingya activist who fled Myanmar at 16 and now lives in Germany. “They don’t want this population in the country. This is the national policy.”

Public officials can say just about anything about Rohingya without fear of it diminishing their stature. In 2009, Myanmar’s consul general in Hong Kong wrote a letter to foreign diplomats calling the Rohingya “ugly as ogres” with “dark brown skin.” (By contrast, he said, his own skin was “fair and soft … and good looking as well.”) The remark did not hurt his career; the military government later appointed him ambassador to Switzerland.

This year, when a Rakhine state lawmaker was asked by a BBC journalist about soldiers sexually assaulting Rohingya women, he giggled. Soldiers could not have committed mass rapes, he explained, because Rohingya women were “very dirty.”

latimes.com/world/asia/la-fg-myanmar-rohingya-hate-20171225-story.html

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4 Islamic freedom fighters killed, 5 injured in military airstrike in Maguindanao

on December 26, 2017

FOUR members of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) were killed and five others were injured after the military launched an airstrike at Datu Unsay, Maguindanao on Monday night following the terror group’s attack in the same area, a spokesman said on Tuesday.

Capt. Arvin Encinas of the Philippine Army’s 6th Infantry Division, said the airstrike was in response to a reported attack by the BIFF at 9:40 p.m. on Datu Unsay where the extremist group burned two houses made of light materials in a Teduray community at SitioMakon, Barangay Iginampong.

“Civilian residents of the community fled to SitioBagong of said [village]for safety and reported the incident to the nearest army’s detachment,” Encinas told reporters in a text message.

Based on intelligence reports collected on the ground, Encinas said that four BIFF members and five others were killed during the air attack. The bodies, however, are still subject for verification.

In a phone interview, Encinas said there were no civilian casualties since most of them were evacuated from the area where the bandits conducted its attack.

“Yes, they were all rescued from the houses and we responded more or less than an hour after the attack was reported to us by our communities,” Encinas told The Manila Times.

“[The four dead] was the only report we got from our ground troops. That was also based on what they have monitored on the ground,” he added. DEMPSEY REYES

manilatimes.net/4-islamic-freedom-fighters-killed-5-injured-military-airstrike-maguindanao/370715/

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Africa

Egypt hangs 15 for attacks on security forces

AFPDecember 26, 2017

Egyptian authorities on Tuesday executed 15 prisoners convicted of attacks on security forces in the restive Sinai Peninsula, police officials said.

The men were hanged in two jails where they had been held since military courts sentenced them for the attacks in the Sinai, where militants are waging an insurgency, the officials said.

It was the largest mass execution carried out in the North African country since six convicted militants were hanged in 2015.

The hangings come a week after the militant Islamic State group attacked a helicopter with an anti-tank missile at a North Sinai airport as the country's defence and interior ministers were visiting.

The ministers were unhurt in the attack but an aide to the defence minister was killed along with a pilot.

IS's Egypt affiliate has killed hundreds of policemen and soldiers in attacks in the Sinai and also targeted civilians in the mainland.

Egyptian courts have sentenced hundreds to death over unrest since the military ousted divisive president Mohamed Morsi in 2013.

But most defendants have appealed and won retrials.

Egypt has struggled to defeat the militants in Sinai. While their attacks have become less frequent, they have increasingly targeted civilians over the past year.

In November, suspected IS gunmen massacred more than 300 worshippers at a mosque in Sinai associated with Sufi Muslims IS views as heretical.

The militants have killed more than 100 Christians in church bombings and shootings since December last year.

After the mosque massacre, President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi instructed his military chief of staff to quell the attacks in three months using “brutal force”.

dawn.com/news/1378960/egypt-hangs-15-for-attacks-on-security-forces

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Nigerian regime after gradual murder of Sheikh Zakzaky

December 26, 2017 -

(AhlulBayt News Agency) - A top member of Nigeria’s Islamic Movement took a swipe at the Abuja government for its harsh treatment of top Muslim cleric Sheikh IbraheemZakzaky, saying the regime seeks to murder the popular religious figure in a gradual manner.

"Dr. Ibrahim Suleiman expressed concern about the health conditions of Sheikh Zakzaky, founder and leader of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria who has been imprisoned since December 2015" he said in in interview with Tasnim News.

It seems that the regime has plans to kill Sheikh Zakzaky, but slowly, he warned.

He also lashed out at the government for refusing the cleric medical treatment and for accusing him of pursuing plans to promote Shiite Islam in Nigeria.

Sheikh Zakzaky has always sought Muslim unity, Suleiman added, urging the government to obey a court ruling and release the popular cleric.

In early December 2016, Abuja division of the Federal High Court of Nigeria ruled that Sheikh Zakzaky and his wife Zeenat should be released unconditionally.

The prominent cleric and his wife were taken into custody on December 14, 2015, after deadly attack of Nigerian army against members of Islamic Movement and its leader Sheikh Zakzaky.

Hundreds members of the movement were martyred in the clashes. The sheikh was brutally injured and his house was reportedly destroyed by the army in the incident.

en.abna24.com/news/africa/nigerian-regime-after-gradual-murder-of-sheikh-zakzaky_874255.html

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Islamic State releases first video of its affiliated fighters in Somalia

Supporters urged to target 'nonbelievers' and attack churches, markets during holiday season

A group that monitors extremist organizations says the Islamic State group has posted what is thought to be the first video from IS-affiliated fighters in Somalia.

The video posted online Monday calls on supporters to “hunt down” what it calls nonbelievers and to attack churches and markets.

The SITE Intelligence Group says the video urges supporters to take advantage of people’s “drunkenness” over the holiday season to attack.

The United States last month launched its first drone strikes against Islamic State group-affiliated fighters in Somalia. The Horn of Africa nation has a small but growing presence of the fighters, many of them defectors from the al-Qaeda-linked al-Shabab extremist group.

The fighters are based in northern Somalia’s rural Puntland. Experts warn their numbers could grow as IS fighters flee Syria and Iraq.

The Islamic State group claimed its first suicide attack in Somalia in May which left at least five people dead.

timesofisrael.com/islamic-state-releases-first-video-of-its-affiliated-fighters-in-somalia/

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Mideast

Pope espouses two-state solution for Middle East

AFPDecember 26, 2017

Tens of thousands of worshippers gathered at the Vatican to hear the pontiff’s fifth “Urbi et Orbi” (To the City and The World) message. It was delivered hours after a Christmas eve mass where he led on how migrants had been “driven from their land” because of leaders willing to shed “innocent blood”.

On Monday, Pope Francis’s message sought “peace for Jerusalem and for all the Holy Land".

“We see Jesus in the children of the Middle East who continue to suffer because of growing tensions between Israelis and Palestinians,” he said. “Let us pray that the will to resume dialogue may prevail between the parties and that a negotiated solution can finally be reached, one that would allow the peaceful coexistence of two states within mutually agreed and internationally recognised bor­ders.”

“May the Lord also sustain the efforts of all those in the international community inspired by good will to help that afflicted land to find, despite grave obstacles the harmony, justice and security that it has long awaited,” the pope said.

The pontiff also mentioned other global flashpoints such as Syria, Iraq, Yemen, South Sudan and Venezuela, after stressing that the “winds of war are blowing in our world”.

“Let us pray that confrontation may be overcome on the Korean peninsula and that mutual trust may increase in the interest of the world as a whole,” the 81-year-old said.

Earlier, celebrating midnight mass in the ancient town, Archbishop PierbattistaPizzaballa, apostolic administrator of the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, used his homily to lambast the wars that “the Herods of today fight every day to become greater, to occupy more space”.

Criticising Trump’s announcement, Pizzaballa insisted “Jerusalem is a city of peace, there is not peace if someone is excluded. Jerusalem should include, not exclude,” stressing the principle that the city is for both peoples and the three Abrahamic faiths.

Hundreds had gathered in the cold on Bethlehem’s Manger Square to watch the annual scout parade towards the Church of the Nativity, built over the spot where tradition says Mary gave birth to Jesus.

But the square was noticeably quieter following recent violence between Palestinian protesters and the Israeli army.

Twelve Palestinians have been killed since Trump’s declaration, including a 19-year-old who died of his wounds on Sunday nine days after he was shot during a Gaza protest. Christmas decorations have meanwhile become more visible in Christian areas of Syria’s capital Damascus this year.

In the central Syrian city of Homs, Christians will celebrate Christmas with great fanfare for the first time in years after the end of battles between regime and rebel forces — with processions, shows for children and even decorations among the ruins.

In Iraq, too, this year marks a positive turning point for the Christian community in the northern city of Mosul.

Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II, meanwhile, paid tribute to the cities of London and Manchester which this year suffered what she called “appalling” terror attacks.

“This Christmas, I think of London and Manchester, whose powerful identities shone through over the past 12 months,” the 91-year-old monarch said in the pre-recorded televised message.

dawn.com/news/1378872/pope-espouses-two-state-solution-for-middle-east

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Envoy says Iran not giving arms to Houthis

The Newspaper's Staff ReporterDecember 26, 2017

ISLAMABAD: The spea­ker of the Iranian parliament on Monday denied the impression that Tehran was backing Yemeni rebels in their armed campaign against Saudi Arabia.

Responding to a question, Dr Ali ArdeshirLarijani denied that Iran had supplied missiles to Houthi rebels in Yemen. “They are fighting by themselves,” he maintained.

Riyadh has accused Houthi rebels of firing at least three ballistic missiles at the kingdom over the past month alone, terming them ‘acts of war’. However, all the missiles were intercepted before they could cause any major damage.

Talking about the recently-concluded Spea­kers’ Conference, which was attended by top parliamentarians from six countries, Mr Larijani said it would contribute towards strengthening economic ties and regional cooperation against terrorism. “Consultations regarding ways to counter terrorism have always been useful,” he added.

The Iranian speaker also hailed Army Chief Gen Qamar JavedBajwa’s recent visit to Tehran and hoped that it would prove useful in promoting bilateral relations.

Talking about the US campaign in Afghanistan, Mr Larijani said the country’s drug production had risen 45pc since 2001. He accused the US of backing the so-called Islamic State terror group, and asked that if America invaded Afghanistan to fight terrorists, why had it “played around” with them for so long.

Saying that his country was not competing with Saudi Arabia, he also condemned recent Saudi overtures towards Tel Aviv, terming it a bad move.

dawn.com/news/1378854/envoy-says-iran-not-giving-arms-to-houthis

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Israeli court extends detention of Palestinian teen icon

AP | Dec 26, 2017, 14:49 IST

JERUSALEM: An Israeli military court has extended the detention of a Palestinian teen who has become a national hero after she was filmed kicking and slapping Israeli soldiers.

AhedTamimi, a blonde 17-year-old firebrand from the West Bank village of Nebi Saleh, was arrested last week by Israeli troops and faces charges of attacking soldiers.

An Israeli military court on Monday extended Tamimi's detention, along with those of her mother and cousin, for four days for questioning.

Tamimi was filmed earlier this month outside her family home shouting, pushing, kicking and slapping Israeli soldiers, who fended off the blows without retaliating.

Palestinians are celebrating her as an icon of a new generation of resistance to Israeli occupation, while the soldiers' restraint stirred uproar over what some perceive as the army's humiliation.

timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/middle-east/israeli-court-extends-detention-of-palestinian-teen-icon/articleshow/62251870.cms

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Iran's authority, natl. security achievements of Islamic Revolution

Tue 26 December 2017 - 10:39

Speaking in a ceremony Tue.to commemorate the 32nd anniversary of assigning Flight Security and Air Protection to IRGC by Imam Khomeini's order, Rezaei pointed to lack of authority as one of the important problems that arose over 300 years in Iran, saying our country, society and borders became vulnerable when we lost our authority.

Mostly the foreign powers tried to take Iran's authority, to make them dependent and slave; they took us as valets in Shah's era, so that we could not have authority, he noted.

The enemies of the Islamic Republic separated many lands from Iran and took away Iran's possessions and resources, Rezaei added.

He underlined that Iran's Intelligence is the best in the region; when ISIL documents are released, you will find that we have also infiltrated ISIL.

Recalling that today we defend the people and the Muslims outside the borders, he reminded we are fighting against terrorism outside our borders because Iran's security depends on the security of the countries of the region. "If the region remain dependent to the United States and other Western countries, the challenge will continue," Rezaei underlined.

en.mehrnews.com/news/130650/Iran-s-authority-natl-security-achievements-of-Islamic-Revolution

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'Leave Dark Ages and Join Us': Israel Urges Arabs in Racist Cartoon

Tue Dec 26, 2017 1:15

The ministry's Arabic-language Twitter account posted the political cartoon on Sunday, depicting Arabs as a radicalised peasant and Israel as a utopian future, New Arab reported.

"As the English proverb says: if you can't beat them, join them! The time has come for cooperation between Israel and its neighbours to build a bright future for the region instead of boycotting and remaining in the Middle Ages," the tweet said.

"The prospect of change in the Middle East will come through realising that relations with Israel will be beneficial for Arab countries," it added.

The illustration posted with the text shows a donkey-riding man wearing traditional Arab clothing in front of a futuristic city with the message: "Welcome to Israel".

"I boycott you Israel," the angry looking man shouts as the donkey thinks to itself "He's as stubborn as a mule".

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

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

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

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

The United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) overwhelmingly passed a non-binding resolution condemning US President’s decision and called on states not to move their diplomatic missions to the sacred city. Only nine countries voted directly against the resolution, while 56 others either abstained or did not cast a ballot. The UN resolution passed overwhelmingly in the body's General Assembly with 128 countries voting in favor of it.

The UNGA vote followed the US veto of a UN Security Council (UNSC) resolution. All other UNSC members voted in favor of a motion to rescind Donald Trump’s move.

en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13961005000997

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More Palestinian Detained by Israel Forces in Overnight Raids

Tue Dec 26, 2017 2:25

It added that eight people were detained in Aida refugee camp in Bethlehem and four from Tulkarm district, WAFA reported.

Israeli forces also detained 12 Palestinians from East Jerusalem, 10 of them from Silwanneighborhood.

The Society reported that the recent detentions bring the total number of Palestinians Israel has arrested since the US decision on Jerusalem to 610, including 170 children and 12 women.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

On Thursday, the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) overwhelmingly passed a non-binding resolution condemning US President Donald Trump’s decision and called on states not to move their diplomatic missions to the sacred city. The UNGA vote followed the US veto of a UN Security Council (UNSC) resolution Monday. All other UNSC members voted in favor of a motion to rescind Donald Trump’s move.

en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13961005001192

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Mosques opened in Umm Al Saneem& Al Kharara

26 Dec 2017 - 11:16

The Peninsula

The Ministry of Awqaf and Islamic Affairs opened two new mosques this month in Umm Al Saneem and Al Kharara areas. The opening came as part of the Ministry’s plan to expand the number of mosques and develop them in all parts of the country, and to keep pace with needs inline with the urban development and population growth.

The new two mosque can accommodate 460 worshippers (men and women). The new mosque in Umm Al Saneem can accommodate 275 worshippers and include all services facilities, while the one in Al Kharara can accommodate 195 worshippers.

The Mosques Department of the Ministry specialises of identifying the areas’ needs of the mosques and also prepare the annual plan for mosques maintenance in collaboration with authorities concerned.

It also supervise of the construction of mosques and houses of Imams in terms of technical specifications, engineering and implementation. The Ministry of Awqaf and Islamic Affairs takes into account population density, engineering, architectural and heritage characteristics, as well as environmental standards and rationalisation of water and energy consumption.

thepeninsulaqatar.com/article/26/12/2017/Mosques-opened-in-Umm-Al-Saneem-Al-Kharara

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North America

US Airstrikes Claim More Lives in Eastern Syria

Tue Dec 26, 2017 1:16

The warplanes hit the small town of Qaranj on the Eastern bank of the Euphrates River in SoutheasternDeirEzzur, killing six civilians and wounding several more.

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

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

en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13961005000858

 


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