New Age Islam
Wed Nov 25 2020, 02:53 PM

Islamic World News ( 11 Apr 2020, NewAgeIslam.Com)

Muslims, Women Believe Prevailing Situation Will Improve, The IANS C-Voter Covid Tracker''s Index of Panicn Survey Revealed






• Muslims, Women Believe Prevailing Situation Will Improve, The IANS C-Voter Covid Tracker''s Index of Panicn Survey Revealed

• No Evidence to Suggest Tablighi Role in Continuous Rise in Covid Cases: Scientists

• Anti-Muslim Propaganda Is Seeping into Online Discourse About the Coronavirus by Far-Right Group

• Resistance Units, Rebellious Youth Call for The Ouster of Mullahs from Iran

• Custodian of The Grand Mosque of Paris, To Which 300 Mosques Across France Are Affiliated

• Urged French Muslims Not to Go to Mosques in Ramadan

• China TV: Sanctions Aggravate Coronavirus Crisis in Iran

• Preachers: MCO Opportunity For Muslims To Better Fulfil Ramadan Obligations

• King Salman Extends Curfew Until Further Notice Amid Coronavirus

• IMN Urges Nigeria To Free Sheikh Zakzaky Amid Outbreak

• Christchurch Mosque Shootings: Police Rule Out That Gunman Entered Mosque Prior To Attack

 

 

India

• Muslims, Women Believe Prevailing Situation Will Improve, The IANS C-Voter Covid Tracker''s Index of Panicn Survey Revealed

• No Evidence to Suggest Tablighi Role in Continuous Rise in Covid Cases: Scientists

• Zee Media Caught Spreading Fake News on Stone-Pelting by Tablighi Jamaat Members, Forced to Delete Tweet After Warning from Firozabad Police in Uttar Pradesh

• Video Viral with False Claim That Muslims Scatter Notes on The Road to Spread Coronavirus

• UP Police Offer Cash Reward for Information on Islamic Sect Members

• Coronavirus: 52 Of 102 People Found Living In 13 Delhi Mosques Test Positive

• After Nizamuddin fiasco, several mosques in Assam ban Tablighi Jamaat activities; say group's 'superstitious ways' impossible to follow in 21st Century

• Case Against 13 In Chhattisgarh For Sheltering Tablighi Jamaat Members in Mosque

• Video from Pak falsely linked with Hindu man’s alleged murder by Muslim men in Rajasthan

• Punjab government steps in after Muslim Gujjars find themselves ostracised for 'spreading COVID-19'

• 'Abnormally High’ Deaths in Indore's Muslim Localities Alarm Authorities But No Link Found to Covid-19

• Muslim welder's shop set on fire in Kaithal

• Uttar Pradesh Shia board tells members to inform police about those who attended Tablighi meet

• Guwahati mosque Covid-19 hotspot: Himanta Biswa Sarma

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North America

• Anti-Muslim Propaganda Is Seeping into Online Discourse About the Coronavirus by Far-Right Group

• Pope Sympathizes with Iran Amid Coronavirus, Pontificates US Over Sanctions

• Stimulus Package Will Cover Salaries For Pastors, Rabbis, Imams And Other Employees Of Religious Groups

• US Offers Massive Reward for Info on Hezbollah Commander

• Nation of Islam Regional Minister Abdul-Hafeez Muhammad Passes Away At 56 From Coronavirus

• Mosques raise $20,000 for region's COVID-19 relief

• Passover, Easter, Ramadan — and interfaith America in action

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Mideast

• Resistance Units, Rebellious Youth Call for The Ouster of Mullahs from Iran

• Turkey Dispatches Some 300 Allied Takfiri Militants from Syria To Libya: SOHR

• Imam Khamenei replies to letters from students of Lebanon’s Al-Mahdi schools: prepare yourselves for a better world

• Palestine says Israel abusing COVID-19 to grab more lands

• Israel installs spy cameras on towers above concrete wall in southern Lebanon

• Turkey imposes two-day lockdown to fight coronavirus

• Iran by far outpaces US in fight against COVID-19

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Europe

• Custodian of The Grand Mosque of Paris, To Which 300 Mosques Across France Are Affiliated

• Urged French Muslims Not to Go to Mosques in Ramadan

• Easter, Passover, Ramadan … Festivals Test the Faithful’s Resolve Over Lockdown

• Coronavirus: Burials Changing for Muslims Amid UK's High COVID-19 Death Rate

• Generous donation by Muslim Hands boosts Age UK Notts' phone welfare system during pandemic

• UK PM Johnson’s Half-Brother Condemns Leader’s COVID-19 Treatment Before Entering Hospital

• Parliament to return on April 21 - but furious MPs demand recall immediately

• ‘I owe them my life’: Boris Johnson hails ICU team that snatched him from death’s door

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South Asia

• China TV: Sanctions Aggravate Coronavirus Crisis in Iran

• Muslim Ambassadors Donate to Needy Bangladeshis

• Afghanistan responds to Pakistan’s demand for the handover of ISIS-K leader

• Afghanistan releases details of 2 held ISIS leaders, hailing from Bangladesh, Pakistan

• Nabil reacts to recent assassinations of Afghan presidential guards in Kabul

• Afghan security personnel suffer casualties in violent prison riot

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Southeast Asia

• Preachers: MCO Opportunity For Muslims To Better Fulfil Ramadan Obligations

• Indonesia orders coronavirus transport curbs ahead of Ramadan exodus

• North Korea calls for tougher coronavirus curbs, but leader Kim Jong Un seen without mask in photos

• Pandemic a ‘perfect storm’ for South Asia

• Malaysia's response to Covid-19 ranked fourth strictest in SEA

• Super GT Malaysia falls victim to virus

• Covid-19 fight is far from over

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Arab world

• King Salman Extends Curfew Until Further Notice Amid Coronavirus

• Emirates Islamic Contributes AED 10 Million To The ‘Community Solidarity Fund Against COVID-19’

• Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques Receives Phone Call from Palestinian President

• 4,000 E-Services to Ensure Workflow at Two Holy Mosques

• Souq Waqif stores get ready to meet Ramadan demand

• Coronavirus: Emirates Islamic contributes Dh10 million to 'Community Solidarity Fund'

• President of Two Holy Mosques Affairs: Ceasefire Initiative in Yemen, Confirms Saudi Arabia's Humanitarian Principles

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Africa

• IMN Urges Nigeria To Free Sheikh Zakzaky Amid Outbreak

• Coronavirus: Beaten Man 'Living in Fear' After South African Police Enforce Lockdown With Attack

• Gauteng schools and mosques join forces to help vulnerable people amid Covid-19 outbreak

• Boko Haram survivor tells of fleeing terror group, six years after kidnapping

• After Chadian Offensive on Boko Haram, Nigeria's Army Chief, Buratai, Relocates to Borno

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New Zealand

• Christchurch Mosque Shootings: Police Rule Out That Gunman Entered Mosque Prior To Attack

• Christchurch shooting: Survivors convinced gunman visited mosque to learn layout

• A Muslim family holds the keys to one of Christianity's holiest sites, but this Easter it's been closed by coronavirus

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Pakistan

• Several Localities in Karachi's District East Sealed to Stop Coronavirus Spread

• 63 Medics, 26 Nurses Isolated After Nishtar Doctor Confirmed for Covid-19

• Pakistan virus cases cross 5,000 mark

• KP has more Covid-19 critical cases than any other province

• 4,000 Pakistanis stranded abroad to be brought back by 19th

• Sindh governor hints at relaxing lockdown after 14th

• One year on, three posts of vice presidents remain vacant in IIUI

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau



URL: https://www.newageislam.com/islamic-world-news/new-age-islam-news-bureau/muslims,-women-believe-prevailing-situation-will-improve,-the-ians-c-voter-covid-tracker--s-index-of-panicn-survey-revealed/d/121554


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 Muslims, Women Believe Prevailing Situation Will Improve, The IANS C-Voter Covid Tracker''s Index of Panicn Survey Revealed

11 APRIL 2020

New Delhi, April 11 (IANS) Women, the Muslim community, old age people and those in the low income groups are highly optimistic and believe that Covid-19, which has wreaked havoc in the country, will subside and things will begin to improve soon, the IANS C-Voter Covid Tracker''s Index of Panicn survey revealed.

The data came out in the survey conducted from April 4-6. An unprecedented 64 per cent of women, 76.3 per cent of old people and 70.4 per cent of Muslims are of the view that the worst is over, and the situation will begin to improve.

Women performed better than men, though marginally, on the optimism yardstick. If the socio-economic pattern is observed, a whopping 65.3 per cent of people in the low income groups believe that they would sail through the crisis, even though they are extremely low on resources. Interestingly, the optimism in rural areas is also high as compared to urban India.

On the contrary, Indians in higher income groups believe that the worst is yet to come. Community wise, Sikhs are the least optimistic about any improvement in the incumbent situation as merely 43 per cent believed that it would improve anytime soon.

People who have completed higher education are highly optimistic about the situation. The optimism comes as a fresh whiff of air at a time when the country is facing the wrath of the deadly virus, which has already claimed over 200 lives.

The IANS C-Voter Covid Tracker findings and projections are based on a daily tracking poll on CATI, conducted during the last seven days among 18+ adults nationwide. The data is weighted to the known demographic profile of the states.

The Tracking Poll Fieldwork covered random probability samples during the last seven days from the release date. The sample spread is across all Assembly segments across all states. The sample size is 1,114.

https://www.outlookindia.com/newsscroll/muslims-women-believe-prevailing-situation-will-improve/1799267

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No Evidence to Suggest Tablighi Role in Continuous Rise in Covid Cases: Scientists

April 10, 20200

NEW DELHI – Refuting allegations against Tablighi Jamaat, an amalgam of about 400 scientists came out in defence of the Islamic group. They said there was no evidence to support the claims that a Jamaat event at Nizamuddin Markaz in Delhi was responsible for the continued rise in covid-19 cases in India.

A campaign of calumny was launched on the mainstream as well as social media against Tablighi Jamaat in particular and Muslims in general accusing them of deliberately spreading the virus and terming it a conspiracy against the nation.

The consequences of the vilification campaign have been both real and lethal as marauding rightwing Hindu mob started hounding Muslims. Numerous incidents of mob violence against Muslims have been reported from many places in the last few days.

In the statement published on the website of India Scientists’ Response COVID-19, the group of scientists said, they “strongly condemn any attempt to communalise the pandemic. They reiterated the statement of the World Health Organization that it was “very important that we do not profile the cases on the basis of racial, religious and ethnic lines.”

“This is also reflected in the statement by the Ministry of Health which says ‘Do not label any community or area for the spread of COVID-19’.”

The statement further said, “We believe, while the Tablighi Jamaat erred by not cancelling the event, the administrative lapse of the Central and Delhi governments must be acknowledged, as this was a pre-approved event and certain arms of the government were aware that foreigners from infected countries would be participating.”

They noted that “super spreader” events have also taken place in other countries and even in India. For instance a single (now deceased) patient in Punjab led to the quarantining of 40,000 people from 20 villages in Punjab. Those who contract the virus in such an event, or spread it unintentionally, are themselves victims of the epidemic. They must not be demonised.

“The actual number of infected across the country is believed to be far larger than the number of cases that have been confirmed so far. The effects of the Delhi event on the growth rate of the all-India numbers may thus be significantly less than the numbers put out by MoHFW,” the scientists assumed.

They also pointed out that the government has not released data on how many tests were conducted among the attendees of this event and their contacts. “Thus, we do not know how the fraction of tests that were found to be positive in this case compares to testing on the general population.” They called on the government to release this data.

“We reiterate our call for the government to collect more data — by testing more — and to transparently share this data with the public,” the statement urged.

https://clarionindia.net/no-evidence-to-suggest-tablighi-role-in-continuous-rise-in-covid-cases-scientists/?fbclid=IwAR1sHrICXEV4M_Tc_k9ntktGFEp4AkAVND5px4OgL5IyxVCbn_uRAMgTS4o

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Anti-Muslim Propaganda Is Seeping into Online Discourse About the Coronavirus By Far-Right Group

11/04/2020

By Rowaida Abdelaziz

As the world grapples with the coronavirus outbreak, far-right groups and websites across the globe have taken advantage of people’s fears and vulnerabilities in order to push forward a flood of conspiracy theories and disinformation to vilify Muslims and spread Islamophobic propaganda.  

In the United Kingdom, counterterrorism police have investigated dozens of far-right groups accused of weaponizing the pandemic to stoke anti-Muslim incidents over the last several weeks.

In the U.S., far-right websites have spread anti-Muslim propaganda online and propagated false conspiracy theories that churches in the country will be forced to close during the pandemic while mosques will remain open for worship.

In India, extremists scapegoated the country’s entire Muslim population by claiming they were deliberately spreading the virus through “corona-jihad.”

Perpetrators of anti-Muslim propaganda, many of whom have a documented history of creating xenophobic and Islamophobic content before the virus outbreak, have made up statistics about virus infections and invented stories that blame Muslims for the crisis. And given that many people are staying at home, often getting news and socializing online, the potential for false information and hateful speech to spread is all the more worrying.

“Unfortunately, what we’re seeing is coronavirus as an excuse for existing kind of racist and xenophobic tropes to be pushed out front and center,” said Claire Wardle, the U.S. Director of First Draft News, a nonprofit dedicated to tackling misinformation.

In India, Islamophobic hashtags and memes started soon after the outbreak. Anti-Muslim sentiment is already incredibly high there, and more than 50 people have been killed in anti-Muslim riots since February. But the coronavirus has only intensified Islamophobia in the country and demonized an already-targeted Muslim minority.

After Indian authorities linked nearly a thousand cases of COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, to a fringe Muslim missionary group that refused calls to stay home and held its annual conference, politicians were quick to blame the Muslim population at large for the virus’s spread. The assessment was wrong ― the majority of India’s Muslim population condemned the event and honored quarantine calls and other groups have also ignored social distancing calls. Still, Muslims were the ones singled out and unfairly held responsible for the spread of the virus.

A cabinet member in the Indian government went as far as to say the missionary group did not act out of negligence, but it had committed a “Talibani crime.”

Soon, viral videos spread that falsely claimed that missionary members were spitting on police and non-Muslim Indian citizens to allegedly spread the virus, a bizarre phenomenon that was dubbed “corona-jihad” or “bio-jihad.” News channels reported on the misinformation and xenophobic memes painted Muslims as evil cartoon characters who maliciously and intentionally disseminated the virus. 

This xenophobia spread online. The hashtag #coronajihad was used nearly 300,000 times between March 29 and April 3, predominantly in India and the U.S., according to Equality Labs, a South Asian digital human rights group based in the U.S. The organization tracked hundreds of anti-Muslim hashtags, many of which depict Muslims as suicide bombers strapped with “virus bombs” and included terms like ”#IslamicVirus, #BioJihad, and #MuslimVirus.”

These memes and rumors have caused real harm. A Muslim man in India reportedly died by suicide after members of his village ostracized him because they suspected he had COVID-19 after being in touch with missionary members who had tested positive for the disease. Muslim fruit sellers and vendors were barred and forced to shut down their operations in Haldwani, an Indian city known for its trade market.

Meanwhile, in the U.K., white nationalists took to social media and insisted Muslims breached lockdowns and ignored isolation rules by congregating outdoors and at mosques (which many of already suspended services) by sharing old footage taken before the lockdown. Muslim advocacy groups like Tell Mama and police have since dismissed and debunked the propaganda.

Far-right figures in the U.K. also alleged Muslims made up “25 percent of the coronavirus cases” in the country the U.K.” because they “refused to self-isolate” ― a figure that is unsubstantiated ― according to posts collected by First Draft News and shared with HuffPost.

Similar tactics were employed by far-right figures in the U.S. who have insinuated that shelter in place rules would be lifted just in time for the Islamic month of Ramadan, in order to accommodate Muslims while ignoring other religious communities such as those celebrating Easter. 

Advocacy groups are pleading with social media companies to do something to stop the anti-Muslim propaganda and hate speech. On Wednesday, a coalition of advocacy groups released a public appeal letter to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerburg and Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey, urging them to do more to halt the rapid rise of anti-Muslim disinformation online. Equality Labs, which spearheaded the letter, also launched a Twitter “storm” around the hashtag #StopCOVIDIslamophobia in order to raise awareness of widespread Islamophobia in the wake of the pandemic.

“Organizations and corporations like Facebook and Twitter have a huge responsibility, and they’re accountable to what’s happening on their platforms when people are dying because of something they read on Twitter, which is where the majority of these hashtags are taking off,” said a spokesperson at Equality Labs.

Wardle of First Draft News said it was crucial for news organizations now more than ever to fact-check such disinformation due to the immediate backlash and consequential harm faced by marginalized communities.

At a time when most people are staying home in line with social distancing rules, more people are increasingly susceptible to the influx of fake news and conspiracy theories that largely go unchallenged, she added.

“Because people are scared and isolated, we’re going to see more of this and that’s the biggest worry,” said Wardle.

https://www.huffingtonpost.in/entry/anti-muslim-propaganda-is-seeping-into-coronavirus-coverage_n_5e90b721c5b624efd9a27fab?ri18n=true

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Resistance units, rebellious youth call for the ouster of mullahs from Iran

4/11/2020

Iran, April 11, 2020—The Iranian regime’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei wants to preserve his rule at the cost of countless lives of innocent Iranians. Already more than 23,900 people have died from COVID-19 in Iran in 261 cities across all of Iran’s 31 provinces.

But Khamenei tried to minimize the situation in his remarks broadcast by state-rub television on April 9 by calling COVID-19 “a very small problems in comparison to others.” He also confirmed false statistics provided by Rouhani’s government on COVID-19 death toll by saying, “About statistics, many good things have been said and the national radio and television acted very well.”

This is the reason why the brave generation of Iranian youth call that “Coronavirus outbreak is the guilt of the Iranian regime and mullahs.” In recent days various Iranian cities have witnessed activities organized by Iranian Resistance Units, a network of People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI/MEK) activists across the country, echoing the Iranian people’s desire to overthrow the mullahs’ regime. The MEK Resistance Units represent the will of the Iranian nation for regime change and the establishment of freedom, democracy and peace.

On Friday, April 10, members of the Resistance Units in Tehran, Isfahan, Mashhad and Arak installed huge banners of Iranian Resistance leaders Maryam and Massoud Rajavi with the slogans “Those innocent lives lost will have consequences for the regime, we must rise up, fight against it and take back Iran” and “Iran is blazing. The people of Iran want neither the coronavirus nor the mullahs.” They also saluted the dedicated and brave doctors and nurses working tirelessly to help COVID-19 victims. Supporters of the MEK chanted “We salute the nurses and doctors who are pride for the Iranian nation” and “In dedication to medical cadres who give their own lives to save patients.”

On the same day, defiant youths in Isfahan and Tehran torched an IRGC Basij Base and burned posters of Qassem Soleimani, the regime’s chief terrorist who was killed in a drone strike earlier this year. Basij, a subsidiary of the terrorist-designated Revolutionary Guards, is the Iranian regime’s paramilitary force and the most hated suppressive group that is used to crack down on protests and demonstrations such as the November nationwide uprising.

Apr 10, 2020 - Rebellious Youth target an IRGC Basij base

Another Basij base in Mahshahr was torched on April 9 by the rebellious youths, while posters and pictures of regime leaders, including Khamenei and Soleimani were burned in Shiraz and Behbahan.

Apr 9, 2020 - Rebellious Youth attack an IRGC Basij base

Also on April 9, the brave Resistance Units in Tehran installed huge banners of Maryam and Massoud Rajavi with the slogan: “The mullahs do not want Iran, and Iran and all Iranians do not want the mullahs.”

On April 8, the Sadeghiyeh propaganda center for spreading fundamentalism and Sharia Law was set on fire by the rebellious youths of Shiraz.

Apr 8 2020 - Rebellious Youth target an IRGC Basij base

In other cities such as Tehran, Isfahan, Behbahan, Semnan and Borujerd the members of the MEK Resistance Units installed posters and handwritten slogans on walls reading: “We will resist and fight the virus and the ruling theocracy”, “The mullahs sow the seeds of hopelessness and passivity. We must rebel against it” and “The choice of Iran’s brave generation is the overthrow of Khamenei’s rule.”

Similar activities were carried out on April 7 by the members of the MEK Resistance Units in Tehran, Mashhad, Isfahan, Kerman, Mahshahr (Karaj), Rafsanjan and Qom with the slogan “We will resist and fight the virus and the ruling theocracy. This is our raison d’être.”

Additionally, posters of Ali Khamenei and Qassem Soleimani were torched in Shiraz.

Apr 7, 2020 - Rebellious Youth torch regime's icons

On April 6, several IRGC Basij bases and centers for spreading fundamentalism and Sharia Law were torched in Tehran, Shiraz and Mashhad while posters of Khamenei were burned and demolished.

April 6, 2020 - Rebellious Youth target IRGC Basij bases

In Behbahan, Shiraz, Karaj, Shahr-e-Rey and Gorgan members of the MEK Resistance Units echoed remarks of the Iranian Resistance leaders by writing slogans and installing posters on walls. They emphasized that the “The mullahs’ end is near” and they will “resist and fight the virus and the ruling theocracy. The mullahs sow the seeds of hopelessness and passivity. We must rebel against it.”

In Shiraz, Qazvin and Urmia the Iranian Resistance Units commemorated the anniversary of the April 8, 2011 attack on Camp Ashraf, Iran, in which 36 MEK members were killed by the Iraqi forces at the behest of the Iranian regime. They reaffirmed the last words of Saba Haftbaradan, one of the brave women of Ashraf, who died due to lack of medical aid and to much bleeding. The Resistance Units echoed Saba’s last words and said, “We salute the April 8, 2011 martyrs in Ashraf and as Saba who said, ‘we’ll stand until the end.’”

https://english.mojahedin.org/i/iran-resistance-units-activities-20200411

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Custodian of The Grand Mosque of Paris, To Which 300 Mosques Across France Are Affiliated

April 11, 2020

AhlulBayt News Agency (ABNA): The custodian of the grand mosque of Paris, to which 300 mosques across France are affiliated, called on the country’s Muslims not to go to mosques in the holy month of Ramadan.

Chems-Eddine Hafiz said in a statement that gathering of worshippers in mosques could lead to further spread of the coronavirus, Youm7 website reported.

Thus, he said, Muslims are advised to avoid going to masques in Ramadan.

He added that according to Islamic teachings, temporary suspension of religious rituals when there is danger to health of individuals is allowed.

France closed large mosques and places of worship on March 9 due to the coronavirus outbreak.

More than 1,7 million people have been infected with COVID-19 globally, and the death toll has exceeded 103,000.

France has announced more than 124,000 coronavirus infections so far and the death toll is over 13,000

https://en.abna24.com/news//french-muslims-urged-not-to-go-to-mosques-in-ramadan_1024489.html

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French Muslims Urged Not to Go to Mosques in Ramadan

April 11, 2020

TEHRAN (IQNA) – The custodian of the grand mosque of Paris, to which 300 mosques across France are affiliated, called on the country’s Muslims not to go to mosques in the holy month of Ramadan.

Chems-Eddine Hafiz said in a statement that gathering of worshippers in mosques could lead to further spread of the coronavirus, Youm7 website reported.

Thus, he said, Muslims are advised to avoid going to masques in Ramadan.

He added that according to Islamic teachings, temporary suspension of religious rituals when there is danger to health of individuals is allowed.

France closed large mosques and places of worship on March 9 due to the coronavirus outbreak.

More than 1,7 million people have been infected with COVID-19 globally, and the death toll has exceeded 103,000.

France has announced more than 124,000 coronavirus infections so far and the death toll is over 13,000.

https://iqna.ir/en/news/3471102/french-muslims-urged-not-to-go-to-mosques-in-ramadan

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China TV: Sanctions aggravate coronavirus crisis in Iran

April 11, 2020

AhlulBayt News Agency (ABNA): China Central Television (CCTV) says that the US sanctions has exacerbated the situation of coronavirus (COVID-19) in Iran.

In recent weeks, many world officials including the Russian have repeatedly called on the United States to lift anti-Iran sanctions.

In related development, Russian President Vladimir Putin through a video conference at the G20 Summit on March 26 called for relief of sanctions during the coronavirus pandemic which have infected near 1,700,000 across the world and killed over one hundred thousand worldwide.

As CCTV reported, although Iran enjoys high level of medical sources in entire region, it faces many challenges in the fight against the deadly virus as the sanctions have created obstacles to Iran's access to different kinds of equipment.

The US May 2018 unilateral withdrawal from the July 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and the world powers did hurt Iran's health structure, CCTV added.

Extremist like Mike Pompeo- US Secretary of State- is after continuation of maximum pressure on Iran to bring the country to its knees, implement military plans in Iraq and increase tension in whole region, the report says.

https://en.abna24.com/news//china-tv-sanctions-aggravate-coronavirus-crisis-in-iran_1024450.html

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Preachers: MCO Opportunity For Muslims To Better Fulfil Ramadan Obligations

12 Apr 2020

KUALA LUMPUR, April 12 — In less than two weeks, Muslims will observe the month-long fasting with the arrival of the much-awaited Islamic calendar of Ramadan.

It is also the month for self-reflection and alms-giving, but most will be looking forward to going to the mosque or surau for the Tarawih prayer.

However, the situation this year is not the same as in previous years, as Muslims will be fasting amidst the Covid-19 crisis, with the government enforcing the movement control order (MCO) to curb the spread of the virus.

Independent preacher Ustaz Azhar Idrus also shared his views, saying that with the “stay at home” order, Muslims will be able to perform their religious obligation of fasting during Ramadan with more devotion and piety.

“Fasting in this (MCO) situation is better. If there is no MCO, we go out, we socialise and are exposed to bad and sinful things. Staying at home helps to prevent the eyes from looking things that are not good to look at.

“When we fast during a situation that can hinder us from bad influence or circumstances, it is a blessing, because we get more ‘pahala’ (reward from Allah),” he said during a live streaming on question-and-answer session with Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department (Religious Affairs) Datuk Seri Zulkifli Mohamad Al-Bakri through Instagram recently.

On Terawih prayers cannot be held in surau or mosques this Ramadan due to the MCO, he said, it was not a problem as it could be performed at home.

“The Prophet also performed the Terawih prayer alone at home,” said Azhar, adding that he regarded fasting during MCO as a blessing.

Meanwhile, Ayman Rashdan Wong, through his Facebook,  said there is a blessing for fasting during MCO as it would enable Muslims to appreciate Ramadan and to self-reflect better.

“Self-reflection is more effective when we are alone. There is no better time to practise the sunnah way of life, eat less, pray on time, go to bed early, read the Quran and recite the doa and zikir while waiting for the call of the Maghrib prayer for the breaking of fast.

“We, in Malaysia, waste a lot, when buying for breaking of fast, we buy everything and eat to our heart’s content to an extent of missing the prayers. The MCO is a huge blessing, when we are at home, we pray on time,” he said.

Maizaton Othman, through her Facebook, said the MCO period would provide an opportunity for Muslims to concentrate on performing their religious obligations during Ramadan better

https://www.malaymail.com/news/malaysia/2020/04/12/mco-an-opportunity-for-muslims-to-better-observe-religious-obligations-duri/1855853

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King Salman extends curfew until further notice amid coronavirus

12/04/2020

Saudi Arabia’s King Salman extended curfew across the Kingdom until further notice amid the current rates and rapid spread of the novel coronavirus, a Ministry of Interior official said.

Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques has previously issued an order imposing a curfew from 7pm to 6am for 21 days as of March 23 evening to limit the spread of COVID-19.

https://www.argaam.com/en/article/articledetail/id/1365995

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IMN urges Nigeria to free Sheikh Zakzaky amid outbreak

April 11, 2020

AhlulBayt News Agency (ABNA): The Islamic Movement in Nigeria (IMN) has called on the country's authorities to free Sheikh Ibrahim al-Zakzaky, who is already suffering from health problems, from imprisonment given the risks of COVID-19 outbreak.

This call was made by the Movement in a press statement issued to newsmen today by the president of its Media Forum, Ibrahim Musa.

“Sheikh Zakzaky deserves immediate freedom for very many reasons particularly at this difficult period that the nation is facing the scourge of Coronavirus,” it wrote, PressTV reported.

The novel virus that can cause a potentially fatal respiratory infection called Covid-19 has killed close to 102,700 people worldwide since emerging in central China late last year. Nigeria has reported seven deaths and 240 active cases.

The IMN reminded that even before the outbreak, Zakzaky was already in need of “expert medical attention as a result of the injuries he sustained when the military attacked his residence in December 2015.”

Nigeria’s military carried out the attack as part of a deadly state-ordered escalation targeting the movement that Abuja has branded as illegal.

During the crackdown, the military also attacked the movement’s members as they were holding religious processions, with the government alleging that the Muslims had blocked a convoy of the country’s defense minister. The movement has categorically rejected the allegation, and said the convoy had intentionally crossed paths with the IMN’s members to whip up an excuse to attack them.

The statement noted that Zakzaki had “additionally suffered multiple strokes while in detention and was found to have dangerously very high levels of toxic heavy metals circulating in his system.”

Zakzaky was charged in April 2018 with murder, culpable homicide, unlawful assembly, the disruption of public peace, and other accusations. He has pleaded not guilty.

The IMN, meanwhile, noted that a 2016 Federal High Court ruling has ruled Zakzaki’s arrest “unlawful, unconstitutional, and a breach of his fundamental rights.”

However, they were forced to leave the subcontinent after a few days in protest against the Nigerian government’s “obstruction” of his medical treatment and after they had “lost all faith” in the prospect of receiving proper treatment there.

https://en.abna24.com/news//imn-urges-nigeria-to-free-sheikh-zakzaky-amid-outbreak_1024487.html

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Christchurch mosque shootings: Police rule out that gunman entered mosque prior to attack

12 Apr, 2020

In the news clip, the An-Nur Imam Gamal Fouda is shown saying the shooter had previously prayed in the mosque and knew it "like his house".

The Imam claimed Tarrant had been to the mosque three weeks in a row, dressed in traditional Pakistani clothing, so that he could get an accurate layout of the mosque.

But Christchurch police Superintendent John Price said the shooter did not physically enter the mosque; but believe he would have carried out a virtual tour.

"Police have carried out an extensive investigation and there is no evidence to suggest that the gunman entered the Al Noor Mosque or its grounds prior to the March 15 attack.

"After police extensively reviewed CCTV footage as part of the investigation, it was found he had parked across the street before March 15.

In a shock move last month, Brenton Harrison Tarrant admitted murdering 51 Muslims at two Christchurch mosques on March 15 last year.

The 29-year-old Australian entered the guilty pleas at a special, hastily-arranged High Court hearing in Christchurch on March 26.

He also admitted 40 charges of attempted murder relating to the two attacks at Masjid Al Noor and Linwood Islamic Centre on March 15 last year - and pleaded guilty to one charge of engaging in a terrorist act laid under the Terrorism Suppression Act 2002.

Tarrant was convicted on all charges and remanded him custody until May when lockdown restrictions would be relaxed and a new sentencing date will be set.

https://www.nzherald.co.nz/crime/news/article.cfm?c_id=30&objectid=12324343

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India

 

Zee Media caught spreading fake news on stone-pelting by Tablighi Jamaat members, forced to delete tweet after warning from Firozabad Police in Uttar Pradesh

By JKR Staff -April 7, 20200

Zee Media has become the latest organisation to be caught spreading fake news about the Tablighi Jamaat. The pro-BJP organisation was forced to delete its tweet containing the fake news after a warning from the Firozabad Police in Uttar Pradesh.

In its tweet, now deleted, Zee Uttar Pradesh Uttarakhand had said, “Four Tablighi Jamaati test corona positive in Firozabad, stones pelted at the medical team that came to pick them up.” The Firozabad Police reacted swiftly to expose the lies spread by Zee News.

Responding to the fake news by Zee News, the Firozabad Police wrote, “You’ve been spreading fake and misleading news. There has been no stone pelting incidents on the medical team or the ambulance in Firozabad. You must immediately delete this tweet posted by you.”

When some users sought confirmation from the Firozabad Police if Zee News had indeed posted the fake news maligning the Muslim community, they confirmed that the tweet in question had been now deleted.

Zee News has since then deleted the tweet containing the fake news about the Tablighi Jamaat. It has also edited its news item by removing the claims on stone pelting from its headline, which now simply says, “Four people from Tablighi Jamaat, who were hiding in Firozabad’s Farsi Mosque tests corona positive.”

Earlier, the Saharanpur Police in Uttar Pradesh had exposed Indian media outlets for claiming that members of the Tablighi Jamaat had demanded non-veg food in quarantine and caused a ruckus when their demands were not met. The Sarahanpur Police had issued a detailed statement terming the claim as fake news.

Ever since the Delhi Police evacuated members of the Tablighi Jamaat from the Nizamuddin Markaz, the usual suspects in the Indian media have been consistently running a motivated campaign against India’s Muslim community. Some had claimed that Jamaatis spat on doctors and police while others accused them of misbehaving with nurses.

However, a woman claiming to be a medical officer, who was a part of the team that evacuated the Nizamuddin Markaz, has revealed that no one had misbehaved with them.

http://www.jantakareporter.com/entertainment/zee-news-caught-spreading-fake-news-on-stone-pelting-by-tablighi-jamaat-members-forced-to-delete-tweet-after-warning-from-firozabad-police-in-uttar-pradesh/286910/

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Video Viral With False Claim That Muslims Scatter Notes On The Road To Spread Coronavirus

Kinjal

11th April 2020

Two videos which show currency notes scattered on the road are viral on social media with the claim that “coronavirus-infected notes were scattered by the Muslim community” in

Facebook page Kodagu Hindus posted the viral video has been shared with the following text in Kanada text, “ಕರೊನಾ ಬಂದಿರುವ ಕೆಲವು ಮುಸ್ಲಿಂ ಸಮುದಾಯದ ಜನರು 500, 2000 ನೋಟುಗಳಿಗೆ ಉಗುಳು ಹಚ್ಚಿ ಬಿಸಾಕಿ, ಹೋಗುವ ಕೆಟ್ಟ ಪದ್ಧತಿ ಆರಂಭಿಸಿದ್ದಾರೆ ಜನ ಎಷ್ಟು ಭಯಗೊಂಡಿದ್ದಾರೆಂದರೆ ಪೋಲಿಸರು ಸಹ ಆ ನೋಟುಗಳನ್ನು ಮುಟ್ಟುತ್ತಿಲ್ಲ ಆದರಿಂದ ದಾರಿಯಲ್ಲಿ ಹೋಗುವಾಗ 500 & 2000 ರೂಪಾಯಿ ನೋಟುಗಳು ಬಿದ್ದದ್ದು ಕಂಡರೆ ಅವುಗಳನ್ನು ಮುಟ್ಟಬೇಡಿ ಕೆಲ ಜನರು ಮಾಡುತ್ತಿರುವ ಇಂಥ ಕೆಟ್ಟ ಕೆಲಸಗಳಿಂದ ಇಡೀ ಮುಸ್ಲಿಂ ಸಮುದಾಯಕ್ಕೆ ಕೆಟ್ಟ ಹೆಸರು ಅಂಟುತ್ತಿದೆ………. !)”

The second viral video has been shared with a Hindi text, “In Budh Vihar, ₹2,000 notes can be found lying on the ground (translated from बुध विहार में जगह जगह पर 2000/-के नोट पडे हुए मिले हैं।).” Facebook user Surendra Batra, who is associated with the Indian National Congress (as per the Facebook bio), posted the viral video along with the Hindi text. Batra’s post has been shared over 950  times and viewed more than 8,500 times ( archive link ).

Alt News analysed both the videos and confirmed that they capture the same incident. The screenshots below show two bikes (black and yellow coloured) which can be spotted in both the viral videos.

Alt News subsequently performed a keyword search on Google and found that multiple media outlets have reported the incident, including an April 10 broadcast by Aaj Tak. The relevant section in the broadcast begins from the 17:40 mark. The Aaj Tak report pointed out that due to fear of coronavirus people were associating mundane incidents with the pandemic.

According to the report, the cash lying on the ground belonged to a person who withdrew it from an ATM in Budh Vihar, New Delhi. The person accidentally dropped some notes on his way. When people noticed the cash lying on the street, a rumour emerged that the notes were deliberately dropped to spread coronavirus. Locals called the police who placed bricks on the notes and started probing the matter. However, the person who dropped the cash came back looking for it and clarified that it was his money.

Alt News spoke with Budh Vihar’s SHO Krishna who sent a video statement of Rohini’ ACP SD Mishra – “When the beat constable reached there, he noticed that there were about seven Rs 2000 notes. As he was about to seal the notes, a person named Bhutender Sharma came there and told that these notes belonged to him and had accidentally fallen from his pocket. We investigated the matter and returned the notes to him.”

Several users on Facebook and Twitter have shared the viral video with the Hindi text, Similarly, a Facebook user Hemant Singh Bohra posted the video with the caption “Budh Vihar”. (archive link)

On April 9, ABP journalist Vikas Bhadauria tweeted the second viral video and claimed that police investigation found the notes to be fake (archive link). However, as per the police’s statement this is false.

Alt News has received several requests to fact-check the second video on WhatsApp (+91 76000 11160) and on our official Android application.

https://www.altnews.in/video-viral-with-false-claim-that-muslims-scattered-notes-on-the-road-to-spread-coronavirus/

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UP Police Offer Cash Reward For Information On Islamic Sect Members

April 12, 2020

Azamgarh: Uttar Pradesh police have announced a cash reward Rs 5,000 for those with information about Tablighi Jamaat members who are yet to report to the authorities in Azamgarh, police said on Saturday.

The Jamaat members had attended a religious congregation in Delhi's Nizamuddin last month defying social distancing protocol imposed by the government to combat coronavirus.

"The Jamaat members are still hiding. We have made an appeal to them that if they come up and appear before the authorities, no action will be initiated against them," Superintendent of Police Triveni Singh said.

"But, if the information about them comes to us through another source, strict action will be initiated against them," he said.

Mr Singh said those informing the police about the Tablighi Jamaat members will be given a cash reward of Rs 5,000 and their identity will be kept a secret.

"Four COVID-19 patients have been found here though the second test of the three patients has come negative. The sanitisation of Mubarakpur is going on," he said.

Azamgarh: Uttar Pradesh police have announced a cash reward Rs 5,000 for those with information about Tablighi Jamaat members who are yet to report to the authorities in Azamgarh, police said on Saturday.

The Jamaat members had attended a religious congregation in Delhi's Nizamuddin last month defying social distancing protocol imposed by the government to combat coronavirus.

"The Jamaat members are still hiding. We have made an appeal to them that if they come up and appear before the authorities, no action will be initiated against them," Superintendent of Police Triveni Singh said.

"But, if the information about them comes to us through another source, strict action will be initiated against them," he said.

Mr Singh said those informing the police about the Tablighi Jamaat members will be given a cash reward of Rs 5,000 and their identity will be kept a secret.

"Four COVID-19 patients have been found here though the second test of the three patients has come negative. The sanitisation of Mubarakpur is going on," he said.

https://www.ndtv.com/cities/up-police-offer-cash-reward-for-information-on-islamic-sect-members-2210248

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Coronavirus: 52 Of 102 People Found Living In 13 Delhi Mosques Test Positive

April 11, 2020

New Delhi: As many as 52 people out of the 102, who were found living in 13 mosques in Delhi's Chandni Mahal area, have tested positive for the novel coronavirus and many of them had last month attended a congregation in Nizamuddin, a COVID-19 hotspot, officials said on Saturday.

In the last four days, at least three people from the central Delhi area have succumbed to the coronavirus disease, a senior government official told news agency PTI.

During intensive verification drives conducted in the last five days, government agencies found that 102 people, including foreigners, were living in 13 mosques in the Chandni Mahal area. After preliminary medical examinations, 52 of them tested COVID-19 positive, the official said.

Many of these 102 people had attended the congregation of the Islamic sect Tablighi Jamaat at the Nizamuddin Markaz last month.

The authorities have launched a sanitisation drive in Chandni Mahal and introduced a containment plan after the detection of such a large number of people living in religious places.

No resident of the locality is allowed to go out of their homes and essential items are being delivered at home, another official said.

So far, over 500 COVID-19 positive cases and about 20 deaths in the country have been found to have links to the Nizamuddin congregation.

Over 2,300 activists, including 250 foreigners of the Islamic organisation Tablighi Jamaat, were found to be living at its headquarters at the Markaz building in Delhi's Nizamuddin in the later part of March, despite the 21-day lockdown imposed from March 25 to check the spread of the coronavirus.

At least 9,000 people had participated at the congregation at the Nizamuddin Markaz last month after which many have travelled to various parts of the country for missionary works.

They are 379 Indonesians, 110 Bangladeshi, 77 Kyrgyzstan, 75 Malaysian, 65 Thai, 63 Myanmarese and 33 Sri Lankan citizens besides others.

The home ministry had also asked Delhi Police and police chiefs of other states, where these foreigners are currently living, to take legal action under the Foreigners Act and the Disaster Management Act.

The ministry had said that about 2,100 foreigners have come to India since January 1 and indulged in Tablighi activities in different parts of the country.

https://www.ndtv.com/delhi-news/coronavirus-52-of-102-people-found-living-in-13-delhi-mosques-test-positive-2210132

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After Nizamuddin fiasco, several mosques in Assam ban Tablighi Jamaat activities; say group's 'superstitious ways' impossible to follow in 21st Century

Kangkan Acharyya

Apr 11, 2020

A number of mosques in Assam have banned Tablighi Jamaat activities in their premises after a meeting organised at the congregation's headquarters in Delhi’s Nizamuddin became an epicentre of coronavirus pandemic.

Ismail Hossain, an Assam-based writer and activist told Firstpost that at least 50 mosques in Assam have banned Tabligh activities in the last two days should not be less than 50 in number. Though the Tablighi Jamat incident row in Delhi is perceived to have caused communal distrust among the Hindus and Muslims in the north eastern state, he said that this has no bearing on the decisions to ban tabligh activities.

After Nizamuddin fiasco, several mosques in Assam ban Tablighi Jamaat activities; say groups superstitious ways impossible to follow in 21st CenturySeveral people who attended the Tablighi Jamaat event last month have tested positive. PTI

"It is merely the embarrassment the Tablighis have brought to the Muslims that has prompted these decisions. They did not like the callous attitude of the Tablighi Jamaat in dealing with the corona virus threat," said Hossain.

Out of more than 300 persons who returned to Assam from the event held at the Banglewali Mosque in Delhi’s Nizamuddin 29 have tested positive of Corona Virus and one person has died to complication arising out of the infection. There are still 15 persons in the state untraceable who attended the Tablighi Jamaat but did not report to the authorities and hence their health status is not known.

"This has caused much distrust among the communities as no one knows whether the untraceable persons are themselves infected. If they are tean they could infect more people. So this has become a reason to worry not for the commoners as well," said Hafizul Ahmed, a leader of the indigenous Muslim group Goriya Moriya Desi Jatiya Parishad.

The worry over the missing Tablighi Jamaat attendees has left the society divided. And taking advantage of the mistrust, hate mongers have gone on an overdrive on social media to drive a wedge between the communities.

"Fake news were spread in the social media labelling persons as Markaz Nizamuddin returned, whereas these persons have no recent travel hitory to Markaz," Rubul Rahman a person based out of Barpeta district said.

The Assam Police recently arrested, 33 persons for circulating fake news and hate mongering including one Member of Legislative Assembly, from the All India United Democratic Front.

But Rafik Ahmed Neog, the President of Kokilamukh Masjid Committee in Jorhat district, which is one of the first two mosques in Assam to ban Tablighi Jamat said to Firstpost that the decision was not made under any pressure.

"It would be wrong to assume that the decision was taken under pressure. We never faced any discrimination from other communities. We took this decision because the Tablighi Jamaat flouted the rules laid down by the government as precautionary measure for COVID-19," he said.

He also acknowledged that the Tablighi Jamaat is an organisation which has reformed many young men who had earlier gone astray. But the way the Jamaat promoted superstition and remained aloof to the government orders in the wake of COVID-19 outbreak was not acceptable.

Mridul Rahman, Advisor to the Rojahauli Masjid Committee, another committee to ban Tabligh Jamaat told Firstpost, "The kind of practices the Jamaat follow cannot be accepted in the 21st century."

"They abstain from watching television and using sanitisers and also persuade others to do the same. They also insist on wearing only a certain kind of attire. This cannot be followed in today's era by everyone," he said.

Both the mosque leaders re-iterated that though religious education which, the Tabligh provides is important, but only modern education can provide the direction for progress. In Jorhat district alone, at least four mosques have banned Tablighi Jamat.

https://www.firstpost.com/india/after-nizamuddin-fiasco-several-mosques-in-assam-ban-tablighi-jamaat-activities-say-groups-superstitious-ways-impossible-to-follow-in-21st-century-8249961.html

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Case Against 13 In Chhattisgarh For Sheltering Tablighi Jamaat Members In Mosque

April 12, 2020

Korba: Thirteen people, including three COVID-19 patients, were booked on Saturday in Chhattisgarh's Korba for allegedly hiding information about the presence of Tablighi Jamaat members in a mosque, police said.

The 16 Tablighi Jamaat members, who were allowed to stay in a mosque, had come from Maharashtra last month, an official said.

"They hid information about the 16 Tablighi Jamaat members from the police. They also organised mass prayers and a feast in the mosque with the Tablighi Jamaat members, thus flouting lockdown and social distancing directives," he said.

They have been charged under sections of the IPC and Epidemic Diseases Act but no arrests have been made so far, he said.

A 16-year-old boy in this Tablighi Jamaat group had tested positive for the coronavirus on April 4, after which another eight got infected, he added.

https://www.ndtv.com/india-news/coronavirus-chhattisgarh-news-case-against-13-for-sheltering-tablighi-jamaat-members-in-korba-mosque-2210239

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Video from Pak falsely linked with Hindu man’s alleged murder by Muslim men in Rajasthan

Pooja Chaudhuri

11th April 2020

A gruesome video of two men hacking another with an axe has been shared on social media in the backdrop of the coronavirus pandemic. It is being claimed that the video represents the recent incident from Rajasthan’s Jaisalmer where a man named Rewat Singh was hacked to death. According to Dainik Jagran, Singh had taken part in PM Modi’s ‘thali bajao’ event on March 22 which enraged some locals who attacked him on April 4, subsequently leading to his death a few days later. Singh’s nephew filed an FIR naming Shahid Khan, Sadik Khan and Hamtullah.

The video viral on social media has been shared with the following message, “राजस्थान के जैसलमेर जिले में उपद्रवी तत्वों ने रेवंत सिंह को बेरहमी से मार दिया, रेवंत सिंह का कसूर यही था कि उन्होंने मुस्लिम बाहुल्य क्षेत्र में ताली बजा कर, प्रधानमंत्री के मुहिम का समर्थन किया, यही है देश की गंगा-जमुनी तहजीब.”

The same video has also been shared with a different message claiming that “jihadi terrorists” in Jaisalmer, Rajasthan’s Pokhran village killed Rewant Singh because he objected to them flouting lockdown. The Facebook page विश्व हिन्दू रक्षा संगठन-बिहार shared the video with this claim in Hindi: “लॉक डाउन के दौरान जिहादी आतंकवादियो को घर से दूर रहने को कहना पड़ा भारी एक हिंदू भाई रेवत सिंह तंवर माडवा ( पोकरण) की हत्या कर दी प्रशासन से निवेदन है कि दोषियों तुरंत गिरफ्तार करें। सब्र टूट गया तो सम्भालना मुश्किल हो जाएगा.” The post has received over 700 shares.

[Warning: Since the video is brutal in nature, we are not adding it to the report. Those who wish, can watch it here. Viewer discretion is advised.]

Alt News broke down the video into multiple keyframes using InVid and performed a reverse image search on Google. This led us to a tweet where the same clip was shared by a Pakistani user on April 1. Another user replied to this tweet and wrote that the two men responsible for the brutal act have been arrested.

The same video was also uploaded on YouTube on March 24. As per the description, one Noman Shahid was attacked in Pakistan’s Gojra district. The description also carried the words ” Chak 179 GB.”

A subsequent keyword search led us to reports by Pakistani media outlets. The incident was reported by The Nation on March 25: “Two men allegedly chopped both legs and both arms of a boy of Chak 179 GB, Gojra on Tuesday.” Gojra is located in Pakistan’s Toba Tek Singh in Punjab.

According to a report in The Express Tribune from March 31, the man was attacked by his in-laws with an axe because they disapproved of his marriage to a woman in their family. The survivor, who was critically injured, was identified as Noman Shahid. The woman he married was Sana Bibi.

“The case was lodged by the victim’s father Shahid Riaz. Police arrested Rizwan and Shahid and started a search for their accomplices. A police official said the third suspect, Arsalan, is hiding in southern Punjab,” the report further states.

The incident was also covered by Indian media. According to PTI, the man was 23 years of age and was left without a limb in the attack. Police officer Waqar Shoaib Qureshi said that Noman was admitted at Faisalabad Allied Hospital’s intensive care unit.

Therefore, a video of honour-based violence in Pakistan’s Punjab was falsely linked to an incident in Rajasthan’s Jaisalmer where a man was allegedly hacked to death by a group of Muslim men.

https://www.altnews.in/video-from-pak-falsely-linked-with-hindu-mans-alleged-murder-by-muslim-men-in-rajasthan/

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Punjab government steps in after Muslim Gujjars find themselves ostracised for 'spreading COVID-19'

11th April 2020

CHANDIGARH: The Gujjars from the Muslim community who used to earn their livelihood by selling milk in the border areas of Punjab have been socially boycotted, allegedly beaten up and chased away when they have tried to sell milk, it has emerged.

Not allowed to leave their mudhouses and with nobody buying their milk, they have been left with little option but to throw away their milk into the local ponds and rivulets.

On Friday, the Punjab state cabinet meeting took up this matter and issued clear instructions that this ostracism must end.

A senior cabinet minister, who did not wish to be named, said, "The matter of Gujjars not being able to sell their milk and being targeted was discussed in the cabinet meeting and the Deputy Commissioners have been instructed to resolve the issue as no social ostracism will be allowed."

Narrating his problem, Sarajuddin, a Gujjar living in Padiala village in Hoshiarpur district, who was travelling with his dera (each dera has seven to ten people) to Himachal Pradesh, said, "Our fellow villagers have socially boycotted us as they do not buy milk saying we spit in the milk and spread the virus. At this time of the year, we generally go to Himachal. So, we moved from the village fearing the worst. But now we are stuck in Talwara due to the curfew. We used to sell one quintal of milk in a day, but were not able to sell even half of it recently. The milk used to be sold at Rs 40 a litre, but we were reduced to selling it at Rs 10 to Rs 15 per litre. We were not even getting our basic cost. We have been unable to feed our herd of around 300 cattle. At times we give them fodder if we are able to get it from somewhere. They have been mostly surviving on water only."

Hajipur-based social activist Dharminder Singh said, "There are around hundred families of Gujjars who are living in this area and nobody is buying milk from them. They have no option but to throw their milk away. Some of these Gujjars were living in my village and other nearby villages permanently for more than twenty years. A few others come for six to seven months and then go back to Himachal Pradesh. During the last few days, a few ill-meaning busybodies have through social media and by making announcements from gurdwaras and temples in these villages spread the false propaganda that they do not buy milk from these people (Gujjars) as they spread coronavirus. So, people have stopped purchasing milk from them and also socially distanced them."

"A few Gujjars told me that some sarpanches also allegedly threatened them saying if you come out of your deras and sell milk or anyone comes to buy, you will be held responsible for the consequences. The community is now living in fear. As the administration has now stepped in, the threats have stopped but nobody is buying milk from them. The seven Gujjar families in my village were shifted by me to Swan rivulet neat Talwar as they were threatened," he said.

There was another issue as highlighted by Furman Ali a Gujjar from Hajipur. "We used to sell milk at Daulatpur in Himachal Pradesh, but now as the state borders are sealed and so, we cannot sell. Before the curfew, we used to sell about five to six quintals of milk every day but now we sell hardly anything."

Punjab Rural Development and Panchayats Minister, Taripat Rajinder Singh Bajwa, said, "In a few villages in Ropar, Hoshiarpur, Pathankot and Gurdaspur districts, there is the issue of social discrimination as a handful of people have spread fake rumours that the Gujjars belonging to the Muslim community are spreading the virus since a few of them have attended Tablighi Jamaat  congregation in Delhi."

Deputy Commissioner of Hoshiarpur Apneet Riyait has issued a strict warning that discrimination on the basis of religion is not acceptable and action will be taken whenever such incidents are brought to their notice.

"There were some reports that the Gujjars were stopped from supplying milk and also a few cooperative milk societies have stopped taking milk from a particular community. It is unacceptable and no society can discriminate. Otherwise, strict action will be taken. Communal discrimination will not be allowed at any cost. We have issued a warning to all of the sarpanches of the villages that if this kind of incident takes place in their village, then action will be taken. Also through Facebook posts and the rural development departments, messages have been sent to the people," she said.

Riyait said, "A group of seven to eight families of Gujjars belonging to Himachal Pradesh are stuck in Talwara. They belong to the hill state but due to the lockdown and due to borders being sealed, they cannot enter Himachal. We offered them the option of staying at the shelter home. But as they have around 200 to 300 cattle with them, they preferred to stay in the open. So, we have provided them with food and other essentials."

https://www.newindianexpress.com/nation/2020/apr/11/punjab-government-steps-in-after-muslim-gujjars-find-themselves-ostracised-for-spreading-covid-19-2128748.html

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'Abnormally High’ Deaths in Indore's Muslim Localities Alarm Authorities But No Link Found to Covid-19

April 11, 2020

Indore: Identified as one of the COVID-19 hotspots of the country, Indore's administration is scrambling to contain the spread. And now, officials say they have another headache to contend with.

The trend has been continuing for a little over a week or so. On Thursday, the city’s four cemeteries witnessed 21 burials. The graveyard at Mhow Naka alone accounted for 64 burials from April 1 to 9 including 11 on Thursday, the Khajrana based cemetery has seen 34 burials in the first nine days of the month including one on Thursday, Sirpur saw 29 burials with three on Thursday, and Luniapura saw 56 laid to rest in nine days including six on Thursday, according to a national Hindi daily.

The report said that these four cemeteries saw burial of 127 Muslims in the first six days of April compared to 130 in the month of March.

Md Ikram, son of an elderly woman Mumtaz who died on April 7, said that she had a chest ailment and was turned away by three hospitals, after which doctors at Maharaja Yeshwantrao (MY) called it pneumonia and placed her in the intensive care unit (ICU). Her COVID-19 report was negative. She was observing a mourning period over the last four months after her husband’s death and did not meet anyone.

Zabir Ali, grandson of Kashish Unnisa who died on April 6, said the 85-year-old had no illness and died suddenly. Ranipura resident Md Anzum said that his father-in-law Md Noor, a native of Odisha, had undergone heart surgery a few years ago in Indore and had returned to the city after he felt uneasiness and died recently. According to reports, the family members of these deceased haven’t exhibited any novel coronavirus symptoms.

While the reports so far do not show that the increasing deaths are related to COVID-19, it reflects that people with other serious ailments may be getting neglected because of clinics being closed and government resources being diverted to fight coronavirus.

Speaking to the media about these deaths, Indore collector Manish Singh said that they had no connection with COVID-19 and most of the deceased had hypertension or diabetes.

“Locals are also witnessing restricted movement due to lockdown and local clinics are also closed over infection fear. These figures are in my knowledge but families of these deceased have denied corona symptoms in the dead. But still we are probing into these cases,” Singh said, adding they are also verifying the figures of fatalities.

"We normally compare such figures with data of mortalities of last five years but we are too overworked presently to make this comparison."

However, there is no established theory which could ascertain the reason behind the high number of deaths. The district administration has formed around 60 teams of health workers to visit the areas. Each unit would visit 200 families in the next 14 days.

People in areas like Khajrana and Bombay Bazaar said locals are quite terrified of the COVID-19 outbreak, especially those who had undertaken Haj and Umrah pilgrimage, returned home without checks, and are now suddenly being tested. Private clinics have been closed by the administration, leaving people with various ailments in a state of anxiety, they said.

Md Anis, a resident of Bombay Bazaar whose grandfather died of on April 9, said that the deceased was highly apprehensive of contracting the coronavirus.

Dr Riyaz Siddiqui, director of the Mayur Hospital and Research Centre in Khajrana, said densely populated Muslim areas are witnessing viral fever and swine flu which are taking a toll on the locals.

There were rumours also in these areas about the kind of treatment offered to suspected COVID-19 carriers at government facilities, locals said.

However, reports also say that funeral processions are reaching cemeteries even late at night and early morning. The administration has urged the people to exercise caution while burying the dead.

Most of these Muslim-dominated areas are in the list of containment zones for prevention of COVID-19 spread of the district administration.

Indore's deputy inspector general of police Harinarayanchari Mishra could not be contacted on the issue despite several attempts.

There were rumours from Mhow, a cantonment town in Indore, that a large number of burials was taking place there. But sub-divisional magistrate of Mhow, Abhilash Mishra, told News18 that these reports aren’t true and the administration has also ordered the cemeteries to report burials to the local station house officer before last rites take place.

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Elderly Migrant Worker Found Dead on Hyderabad Road, Police Recover Covid-19 Test Slips from PocketAn effigy on coronavirus is seen at Moghalpura X road during a nationwide lockdown in the wake of coronavirus pandemic, in Hyderabad. (PTI Photo) (PTI11-04-2020_000255B)

Hyderabad: In a shocking incident of medical negligence in Hyderabad, a 77-year old a suspected COVID-19 patient, a migrant worker, was found dead on the roadside with his body unattended for over twelve hours on Friday. The police had to wrap his body in plastic sheets and wait for a team of health workers, who arrived only the next morning.

The police have recovered COVID-19 test slips in the deceased’s pockets and have identified him as Sher Bahadur from Nepal, who was working at a bar in Lalapet area in Hyderabad. His body was found near YMCA X road, Narayanguda, on Friday night.

The man had reportedly reached out to a Primary Health Care Centre (PHC) in Lalapet area on Thursday afternoon after he experienced cold and fever. Suspecting that he could have contracted coronavirus, the medical officer referred him to a Government Hospital in King Koti and was sent there in an ambulance.

At the Out-Patient ward, Bahadur’s medical condition was checked and he was then referred to Gandhi Hospital, the only complete COVID-19 hospital in the State. However, before an ambulance could be arranged for him, he walked out of the hospital.

“We don’t exactly know why he stepped out. He was asked to wait outside and the hospital had to arrange for an ambulance. The King Koti hospital has hundreds of patients in the Out-Patient Department, so there must have been a delay. Maybe he decided to walk four kilometers to reach Gandhi Hospital,” Narayanguda Inspector Karnaker Reddy told News18.

What’s worse is that the hospital had no clue that a COVID-19 suspect left the premises without their knowledge. The hospital didn’t check back or realise that a COVID-19 suspect, who had to be sent to the main hospital, is missing.

“We checked with the hospital, but they had no clue when he left. They didn’t even realise that a patient was gone until we told them a day after,” the Inspector said.

According to the police, the helpline numbers 104 and 108 were not helpful and repeated calls made to the local Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation made no difference.

“Two of our constables had to guard the plastic-wrapped body the whole night. We made sure both the cops maintained a 100 meters distance from the body,” Reddy said.

The COVID-19 team arrived the next morning and the body was taken to Gandhi. The deceased’s samples were collected on Saturday.

“We don’t know how many hours he was on the road, where he wandered and if he had reached out to someone for help. Based on few CCTV footage, we could identify him in certain locations,” the Inspector said.

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The total number of Covid-19 cases jumped to 8,356 today, with Maharashtra reporting the highest number followed by Delhi.

Maharashtra Leads With 1,761 Cases, Delhi 2nd as Over 8,000 InfectedFor representation: People wearing face maks ride motorcycles as a municipal vehicle decontaminates a road during a 21-day nationwide lockdown to slow the spreading of coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Chennai, India, April 9, 2020. (REUTERS/P. Ravikumar)

The total number of Covid-19 cases jumped to 8,356 today, with Maharashtra reporting the highest number followed by Delhi. The latest numbers come a day after chief ministers of several states reached a consensus on extending the 21-day lockdown announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi by two more weeks.

During a video conference with chief ministers yesterday, PM Modi told them that the next three to four weeks would be critical to determine the impact of steps taken till now to curb the virus spread.

During their interaction, several chief ministers demanded financial and fiscal relief from the Centre to fight the pandemic, while Modi suggested measures to incentivise direct marketing of farm produce to help farmers as well as other steps. West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said the states have demanded Rs 10 lakh crore package.

• So far, Maharashtra has reported the most coronavirus deaths at 127, followed by Madhya Pradesh at 36, Gujarat at 22 and Delhi at 19.

• Jammu and Kashmir and Uttar Pradesh have reported four and five deaths respectively. Haryana and Rajasthan have recorded three deaths each.

• Two deaths have been reported from Kerala. Bihar, Himachal Pradesh, Odisha, Jharkhand and Assam reported one fatality each, according to the health ministry data.

• The death toll on Friday evening was 242. However, a PTI tally of numbers reported by various states as on 9 pm on Saturday showed at least 287 deaths due to Covid-19.

• There has been a lag in the Union Health Ministry figures, compared to the number of cases announced by different states, which officials attribute to procedural delays in assigning the cases to individual states.

• According to the ministry's data updated in the morning, the highest number of confirmed cases in the country are from Maharashtra at 1,761, followed by Delhi at 1,069 and Tamil Nadu at 969.

• The cases have gone up to 700 in Rajasthan, followed by 532 in Madhya Pradesh, 504 in Telengana and 452 in Uttar Pradesh.

• Kerala has reported 364 cases and Andhra Pradesh 381. Gujarat has 432 positive patients so far. Novel coronavirus cases have risen to 214 in Karnataka, 207 in Jammu and Kashmir and 177 in Haryana.

• Punjab has 151 positive patients so far while West Bengal has 124 cases. Bihar has reported 63 cases and Odisha 50. Thirty-five people were infected with the virus in Uttarakhand while Assam has 29 patients, followed by Himachal Pradesh with 32 cases.

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Returning Migrant Workers Can Cause Coronavirus Spread in Sub-continent, Warns World BankMigrant workers walk towards a bus station in Ghaziabad, on the outskirts of New Delhi. (Reuters)

Washington: The World Bank on Sunday said migrant workers returning home could become vectors carrying the coronavirus to unaffected states and villages and that preliminary findings indicated in India showed many outmigration areas are likely to have COVID-19 cases.

In its biannual regional report, the World Bank said South Asia is one of the highest population density areas in the world, particularly urban areas, and that preventing domestic coronavirus transmission is an enormous challenge in the region.

In India, Bangladesh and Pakistan, the time between the announcement of suspension of inland passenger transport and its enforcement was less than a day, which gave way to chaos as migrants scrambled to get back to their provinces, exacerbating the crowding and making enforcement of social distancing impossible.

The flow of migrant workers could easily become vectors carrying the coronavirus back to other states and villages, said the World Bank in its South Asia Economic Update: Impact of COVID-19 report released Sunday.

One minor advantage of South Asia is that the population over 65 years of age is lower than in the US and China, which could also limit the death rates, the report stated.

However, household sizes are large. As in other countries, the inadequate availability of medical equipment (such as sanitizers, masks, and ventilators), and a scarcity of mostly imported medical products led countries to stock domestic supplies.

The Bank said that lockdown policies have affected hundreds of millions of migrants across the subcontinent many of whom are day labourers and no longer have work in urban centres, leading to mass migrations, often by foot, back to their rural homes.

Migrants face a stark choice between potentially starving in urban centers without work or long and potentially fatal journeys over hundreds of miles to their home districts, it said.

Preliminary findings indicate that in India, high-outmigration areas are more likely to have COVID-19 cases, the World Bank said as it urged the government to direct early resources to high-risk areas as defined by high-migration corridors, including medical equipment and staff use available big data and digital data to analyse patterns of reverse migration and movement around the country, to more precisely identify potential hot-spots, it said and called for establishing social safety nets to help limit reverse migration

If not possible to prevent reverse migration to rural districts via urban-centered social protection programs, governments should consider immediate assistance to migrants to limit suffering and loss of life during the strenuous long-distance journeys, by providing information and food and water to journeying migrants, the World Bank said.

https://www.news18.com/news/india/abnormally-high-deaths-in-indores-muslim-localities-worry-authorities-but-no-link-found-to-covid-19-2573315.html

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Muslim welder's shop set on fire in Kaithal

Apr 11, 2020

KAITHAL: Two days after some miscreants set a Muslim welder's shop on fire in Kaithal district's Keorak village -- adopted by Haryana chief minister Manohar Lal Khattar as part of the Vidhayak Adarsh Gram Yojana -- Kaithal superintendent of police (SP) Shashank Kumar Sawan, sub-divisional magistrate (SDM) Kamal Preet Kaur and other officials visited the village on Friday and assured the Muslim community of their safety and prompt action against the culprits.

The SP said the miscreants had set the shop on fire after the victims refused to remove their skullcaps and shave their beards.

Talking to TOI, the 55-year-old Keorak shopkeeper said, "It all started 5 days back when my son liked a Facebook post of a Muslim religious leader of Delhi. However, we apologized before the panchayat for this. After that some unknown persons pelted stones our house with stones and told us to leave the village. We decided to send our son away once the lockdown ended, but the two accused, Rohtas (34) and Sharvan (34) along with their accomplices set our welding shop on fire on April 8. A cot and two chairs were burned before we doused the flames with the help of a neighbour."

Gayur said, "We have been living in village for 55 years and have never seen such an incident. This has instilled fear among the 10-12 Muslim families in the village."

The Kaithal SP said, "When we came to know about the incident, a first information report (FIR) was registered against the accused under sections 295A (deliberate and malicious acts intended to outrage religious feelings of any class by insulting its region or religious belief), 436 (mischief by fire or explosive substance with intent to destroy house), 506 (criminal intimidation) and 188 (disobedience to order duly promulgated by public servant) of the IPC and 51 of the Disaster Management Act 2005. Those behind the incident will be arrested soon."

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/chandigarh/man-booked-for-kidnapping-minor-girl/articleshowprint/75094516.cms

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Uttar Pradesh Shia board tells members to inform police about those who attended Tablighi meet

11th April 2020

LUCKNOW: The Uttar Pradesh Shia Central Waqf Board has directed all its caretakers to immediately inform police if they hear about any person who had attended the Tablighi Jamaat in Delhi's Nizamuddin area.

In a statement issued here, chairman of Uttar Pradesh Shia Central Waqf Board Waseem Rizvi said, "All the muttawlis (caretakers) are hereby informed that if any person who had attended Tablighi Jamaat are noticed at your mosques or madrassas, or want to hide on the pretext of being a Muslim, then the police should be immediately informed."

Information can also be given in this regard to the helpline of the Uttar Pradesh Shia Central Waqf Board. "Special attention should be paid by mosques and madrassas located in the vicinity of India-Nepal border. If any muttawali tries to give shelter to any traitor or help him, then the Board will recommend that action be initiated against the said muttawali under National Security Act," he said.

He said in the statement that the chief executive officer and all the inspectors of the board have been instructed in this regard to inform the muttawalis.

https://www.newindianexpress.com/nation/2020/apr/11/uttar-pradesh-shia-board-tells-members-to-inform-police-about-those-who-attended-tablighi-meet-2128731.html

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Guwahati mosque Covid-19 hotspot: Himanta Biswa Sarma

11.04.20

The Athgaon Kabarstan Masjid here was sealed on Friday after three positive Covid-19 patients were found to have attended a religious function at the mosque with 100 others last month.

After a person from lower Assam’s Dhubri district tested positive on Thursday, a police probe revealed at least three Covid-19 patients attended a religious function at the mosque on March 12. A massive contact-tracing process has been launched.

Health minister Himanta Biswa Sarma said, “The probe also revealed that at least eight persons who came back from the Tablighi Jamaat congregation at Nizamuddin in New Delhi were present at the masjid on March 12. We fear this may lead to more persons getting infected. The Athgaon Kabarstan Masjid has emerged as the ‘hotbed’ in the state like Nizamuddin in Delhi.”

The Kamrup (metro) district administration has sealed the premises and declared it as a containment zone. No one will be allowed to trespass there.

“What was unfortunate that the masjid committee initially did not alert the authority about the function. We have so far found 58 contacts and more are being traced. Some of them have been already sent to quarantine. We once again seek everyone’s support to stop the spread of the virus,” Sarma added.

A member of the management committee of the mosque said they have been “fully” cooperating with the police and the district administration from day one. “We have provided the list of people who had visited the mosque,” said a committee member, adding that nine persons who had participated in the programme are already in the quarantine facility at Sarusajai sports complex, 12 in Maligaon and 15 in Singimari.

Athgaon Masjid will be the second containment zone in the city after the high-end Spanish Garden apartment complex, where the city’s first Covid-19 patient tested positive on Friday night. The district administration has barred the entry and exit of any person or vehicle from the complex for at least 14 days, except for medical emergency, to contain the spread of the virus from the complex, located in the middle of the city. It has 150 flats.

Tibrewal has since tested negative in tests carried out on April 8 and 9 but will remain under quarantine with his family for 14 days, Sarma said. As many as 111 people, who came in contact with Tibrewal, are also under quarantine.

He had returned from Delhi on March 1 but was the first of the 29 positive cases in the state with no link to the Nizamuddin congregation.

The state administration had stepped up efforts to trace those who had attended the event at Nizamuddin but with its plea going unheeded, the state police had threatened legal action against those not voluntarily coming forward to get themselves examined.

Minister of state for health and family welfare Pijush Hazarika on Friday visited the Athgaon Masjid and took stock of the situation.

While Golaghat district has the highest number of positive cases with nine, Nalbari and Morigaon have four cases each. Goalpara has three positive cases, followed by Dhubri with two. Hailakandi, Kamrup (metro), Cachar, North Lakhimpur, Kamrup, South Salmara-Mankachar and Karimganj districts have one case each.

https://www.telegraphindia.com/states/north-east/coronavirus-outbreak-guwahati-mosque-covid-19-hotspot-himanta-biswa-sarma/cid/1763854

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North America

 

Pope sympathizes with Iran amid coronavirus, pontificates US over sanctions

April 11, 2020

AhlulBayt News Agency (ABNA): The Vatican has expressed sympathy with the Iranian people and talked to the US over draconian sanctions on Tehran amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Vatican's secretary of state Cardinal Pietro Parolin talked to US officials following a letter by head of Iran’s Islamic Seminaries Alireza Arafi to leader of the Roman Catholic Church Pope Francis.

In his letter circulated last week, Arafi expressed Iran’s sympathy over the victims of COVID-19 from “all religions and nations” and urged the “cooperation of all religious centers” to counter the pandemic.

In the Vatican’s response to Arafi’s message, Cardinal Parolin wrote that “upon being informed of the details of the letter”, the Pope asked the cardinal to express “his spiritual sympathy with the Iranian people” and all victims of the disease on his behalf.

The Vatican’s letter added that Arifi had called on the Pope to act against the US sanctions targeting the Iranian people amid the pandemic.

Acting upon such details and such an understanding, the Papacy contacted the United States' ambassador to the UN, Kelly Craft, and informed them of the concerns of Iranian officials, urging attention to the matter, the letter read.

The letter, however, stopped short of condemning Washington’s criminal sanctions against the Iranian people as the country grapples with the COVID-19 pandemic.

The sanctions, imposed on the country after Washington withdrew from the 2015 Iran nuclear deal in 2018, target much-need humanitarian aid and related finances from reaching the country.

According to the latest numbers released by Iran’s Health Ministry on Saturday, 70,029 Iranians have contracted the disease, 4,357 of which have lost their lives. 41,947 people have also recovered.

With the COVID-19 pandemic pushing world governments to the edge in their attempts to contain the deadly disease, stark differences have emerged in how the United States - the world’s largest economy – and Iran – under crippling sanctions – have managed the crisis.

The World Health Organization has on numerous accounts praised Iran’s efforts against the outbreak despite widespread US sanctions banning supplies from reaching the country.

Afghanistan’s mission to Tehran lauded Iran for providing free health services to any Afghan immigrant who may fall ill to the COVID-19 disease, ISNA hews agency reported on Saturday.

Iran has hosted millions of Afghans who have made a living for more than four decades and been provided with free education for their children and other amenities by the Islamic Republic.

The US, instead, has been piling on its unilateral sanctions against countries. Washington has also been accused by its own allies of using “wild west” methods to divert and obtain coronavirus-related aid supplies ordered by other countries.

The country has currently confirmed more than half a million COVID-19 cases and close to 20,000 deaths resulting from the disease. New York alone has more cases than any other country in the world.

https://en.abna24.com/news//pope-sympathizes-with-iran-amid-coronavirus-pontificates-us-over-sanctions_1024447.html

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Stimulus package will cover salaries for pastors, rabbis, imams and other employees of religious groups

April 10, 2020

By MICHELLE BOORSTEIN

Pastors, rabbis, imams and other employees of religious groups taking an economic hit from coronavirus will see their paychecks covered by the federal government, a move some church-state experts say expands government funding of religion.

The multi-trillion-dollar Cares Act, set to take effect this week, provides paycheck protection for private companies and nonprofit organizations through the Small Business Administration. The money runs through banks and is essentially a loan to cover payroll for organizations devastated by the societal shutdown. If the organizations keep their workers on staff, the loans are forgiven.

To some, public money used for an expressly religious purpose is alarming and unconstitutional, while others say we're in a crisis and religious employees need the same economic protection every other American worker does.

"Although it may not seem easy in times like these to tell those seeking aid that certain costs are not eligible for loan forgiveness, the bar on the government funding of religious activities is an important limitation that exists to protect religious freedom for all," reads an April 7 letter to SBA Administrator Jovita Carranza from six national progressive groups, most of which are faith-based.

Charles Haynes, the founding director of the Religious Freedom Center, said he didn't know of any precedent for the government paying salaries of clergy. However, he and other experts on law and religion said the Supreme Court has become more permissive in the last decade or two when it comes to government funding for religious groups.

Starting under President Bill Clinton in the 1990s, government officials have increasingly been able to purchase services from religious social service providers. Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama created and expanded faith-based offices in federal agencies that worked to make sure religious groups weren't turned away from public-private partnerships. There have also been more court rulings favoring parochial schools seeking access to public funds, and in 2017 the U.S. Supreme Court ruled for the first time that state governments can't deny public funds directly to houses of worship just because they're religious.

Haynes says the no-go zone is getting "narrower and narrower. If Congress said: 'We're going to put money in the stimulus package to help churches' even this [more conservative Supreme] Court would say that's unconstitutional. But that's really not leaving very much."

The percent of Americans affiliated with a religious denomination — and thus perhaps putting into the weekly collection plate or paying Sunday school tuition, for example — has been shrinking in recent decades. Many religious leaders are very worried the coronavirus shutdown and overall hit to Americans' wallets could cripple or shut down many houses of worship and other faith-based nonprofit groups.

Other prominent church-state watchers say the Cares Act isn't a connection of any kind between the government and religion and is more like a simple bank loan.

"I don't see that as any more of a government connection than an FDIC-insured bank account or a house of worship calling the local fire department," said Russell Moore, president of the public policy arm of the Southern Baptist Convention. "I am opposed to any government funding of any ministry of any kind, and always have been and always will be but I don't think that's what's happening here..this is enabling banks to give loans to anyone and the government certainly has an interest in doing that."

The SBA released the guidelines for the paycheck protection program earlier this week, and the rules will be final soon, said Katy Joseph, director of policy and advocacy for the Interfaith Alliance, one of the groups that wrote a protest letter about the money. Usually rules would be open for public feedback before being finalized, but because this is an emergency, they will go into effect right away, she said. Public comments will be allowed later.

There have been debates since the founding of the country about the proper financial relationship between church and state. The questions centered in part on whether the government is — in violation of the First Amendment — "establishing" a religion or endorsing a specific faith, or faith at all, by giving it money for religious purposes. They also centered on whether religious groups could be harmed or corrupted by government intrusion, including by money that came with requirements or rules that might violate or meddle with religious teachings or values.

Moore wrote on his blog this week that he's heard from some clergy concerned that taking government money could come with strings.

Many states have long-standing bans on government money going for religious purposes, measures that often date back to anti-Catholic sentiment.

For many years the more "absolutist" separationists held sway, Haynes said. But recently courts have become more permissive, said John Inazu, a religion and law expert at Washington University in St. Louis.

A core tension of late, Inazu said, is whether fundings like the payroll protection program should be viewed as "government funding religion directly or the government funding a broad set of actors that includes some religious actors."

Religious groups already get government money in various ways, he said, including federally backed loans and federal tax exemptions that amount to a financial benefit.

"The fact is that this legislation expressly pays salaries of employees..That raises the question of direct funding of pastors through tax dollars which is in some ways a more pointed issue than we've seen in some time," he said. "However, the federal government has paid pastors for the whole history of the country when you think of legislative and military chaplains. However, those are federal employees."

The current Supreme Court balance is 5-4, Haynes said, in favor of more openness to government support of religion, though he said in the past it hasn't been direct funding of the religious aspect of organizations' work.

"The whole point of the disestablishment of religion in the first place is being lost in the fog of this crisis," he said. "And I think that's probably right, I mean who's paying attention? It's hard to hold the line."

https://www.stripes.com/news/us/stimulus-package-will-cover-salaries-for-pastors-rabbis-imams-and-other-employees-of-religious-groups-1.625679

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US Offers Massive Reward for Info on Hezbollah Commander

April 11, 2020

AhlulBayt News Agency (ABNA): The US State Department offers a $10-million reward for information on a senior commander of the Lebanese resistance movement of Hezbollah in what is feared to be Washington’s attempt at trying its hand at another assassination bid.

In a Friday statement, the State Department put out a call for “any information on the activities, networks, and associates” of the official, which it named as Muhammad Kawtharani.

The State Department claimed that the Hezbollah official participated in "training, funding, political and logistical support" of counter-terrorism fighters in Iraq.

It claimed that Kawtharani “has taken over some of the political coordination” of the fighters that were “formerly organized by Qassem Soleimani."

On January 3, a US drone strike assassinated Lieutenant General Qassem Soleimani, the commander of the Quds Force of Iran’s Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC), Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, the second-in-command of Iraq’s Popular Mobilization Units (PMU) or Hashd al-Sha’abi, and a number of others, targeting their vehicle in Baghdad. At the time of the attack, General Soleimani was on an official trip in the Iraqi capital at Baghdad’s request.

The IRGC retaliated against the assassination by launching volleys of ballistic missiles against the US’s Ain al-Assad military base in the western Iraqi province of al-Anbar, and another outpost housing American forces in the Arab country’s north.

Prior to his martyrdom, General Soleimani would provide indispensable contribution to the regional fight against Takfiri terrorism, which has largely been suspected of being the brainchild of Washington and its allies. The assistance empowered Iraq and Syria to defeat the terrorist Daesh outfit in late 2017.

The overall role played by the commander has earned him hero status as the region’s most decisive and revered counter-terrorism figure.

The assassinations were followed by thousands-strong funeral processions and protests across both Iran and Iraq in honor of the commanders and condemnation of the US’s nearly two decades of deadly interference in the region.

Only days after the atrocities, the Iraqi parliament voted overwhelmingly in favor of a law mandating complete withdrawal of all US-led forces from the country’s soil.

Agnes Callamard, the United Nations special rapporteur for extrajudicial summary or arbitrary executions, also said in February that the US assassination of General Soleimani was in breach of international norms and the UN charter.

Hours after the US drone strike, Hezbollah Secretary General Seyyed Hassan Nasrallah said that resistance forces across the world bore the responsibility of punishing those behind General Soleimani’s assassination. "Meting out the just punishment to these criminal assassins, which are the worst criminals of the world, will be the responsibility and task of all resistance fighters worldwide," he said.

Nasrallah added that his group would continue the path of the martyred commander and that Washington would fail in achieving its goals with these "big crimes." "We who stayed by his side will follow in his footsteps and strive day and night to accomplish his goals," Nasrallah said.

https://en.abna24.com/news//us-offers-massive-reward-for-info-on-hezbollah-cmdr_1024486.html

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NATION OF ISLAM REGIONAL MINISTER ABDUL-HAFEEZ MUHAMMAD PASSES AWAY AT 56 FROM CORONAVIRUS

SHA BE ALLAH

APRIL 11, 2020

This morning, New York-based Minister Abdul-Hafeez Muhammad, formerly known as Minister Kevin Muhammad , died from complications of COVID-19. He was 56 years old.

Born Kevin Ross in 1963, Minister Muhammad’s tenure with the Nation of Islam spans four decades, with his beginnings starting in the Crown Heights, Brooklyn Temple #7 in the early 80s, which was adjacent to his Brownsville, Brooklyn neighborhood. As Kevin X, he quickly rose in the ranks of the FOI and joined the Ministry of the Nation in 1985.

Sometime around 1995, the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan gave Brother Kevin the surname ‘Muhammad’, meaning one worthy of praise.

In 2010, when Minister Muhammad was promoted to the Regional Minister that covers NY, NJ, CT, PA, ME and MA, he was given the name Abdul-Hafeez by THMLF. The Brooklyn native served his position faithfully until his untimely ilness.

Muhammad was admitted to the hospital with symptoms of COVID-19 on April 1, however, it was not publicly known that the minister tested positive for the virus until April 5.

Minister Muhammad was no stranger to the Hip Hop community. He was involved with numerous efforts to bring peace in the community as well as understanding among other religious groups in New York and nationwide.  His presence was always strong and dignified.  He was a beloved man and his contributions to the community will be missed.

The Northstar Group/The Source Magazine sends its deepest condolences to the immediate and extended family of Minister Muhammad and the entire Nation of Islam under the leadership of The Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan.

https://thesource.com/2020/04/11/nation-of-islam-regional-minister-abdul-hafeez-muhammad-passes-away-at-56-from-coronavirus/

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Mosques raise $20,000 for region's COVID-19 relief

April 11, 2020

ALBANY — Area mosques came together to raise $20,000 for COVID-19 relief fund founded by the United Way of the Greater Capital Region and the Community Foundation.

Albany County Executive Daniel P. McCoy said Saturday that the Islamic Center of the Capital District, Al-Hidaya Center, Masjid As-Salam and Masjid Al-Arqam made the donation.

“I want to extend my sincere gratitude to the Muslim community for this support,” McCoy said. “The generous gift will help us continue to feed and take care of other members in our area who truly need us now more than ever.”

There are now 424 confirmed positive cases of COVID-19 in Albany County. Additionally, there are now 498 people under mandatory quarantine and 66 people under precautionary quarantine. The death toll for the county now stands at 12, unchanged from Friday.

Donations to the fund can be made online  or text COVID19 to 41444. For more information including an updated list of partners, please visit https://www.unitedwaygcr.org/COVID-19.

The county now has eight residents in the hospital. There are about 300 in monitor quarantine. There have been about 1,670 tests administered to county residents. There have been five deaths due, the latest announced on Wednesday. The county on Saturday did have nine cases be cleared for recovery. The county now has 46 cases cleared for recovery.

https://www.timesunion.com/news/article/COVID-19-death-toll-remains-stagnant-in-Albany-15194397.php

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Passover, Easter, Ramadan — and interfaith America in action

April 10, 2020

Eboo Patel

(RNS) — Passover is about how a people who stay steadfast in hope can be liberated as a community from Mitzrayim, "a narrow place."

Ramadan commemorates the end of jahiliyya, “the period of darkness,” which is vanquished in the emerging light of the Quran.

These three periods of holiness will occur within days of each other this year, as will sacred events for Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists and Baha'is.

Collectively they carry a common message: The cosmic calendar calls us to renewal, forever changing the way we look at our lives in the material world.

Muslims refer to this as the dynamic between deen and dunya — the world of the spirit and the world of the physical. Often these are understood as two separate realms, but these days, the deen is suffusing the dunya like never before.

We are the most religiously devout nation in the Western Hemisphere and the most religiously diverse country in the world. The British writer G.K. Chesterton once commented that America was a nation with the soul of a church.

In an American hospital, a Jewish internist may be working with a Baha'i anesthesiologist to treat a Buddhist patient. They may be supported by a Muslim nurse, in a room cleaned by a Baptist custodian, at a hospital started by a Catholic religious order and run by a culturally Hindu CEO who does not believe in God.

Tilliesa Banks, right, an emergency services nurse at Harborview Medical Center in Seattle, helps a colleague put on a medical face shield prior to their shift in a triage tent outside the Harborview emergency department used to intake arriving patients who have respiratory symptoms, Thursday, April 2, 2020. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

If that Buddhist patient approaches the end of her life, it is very likely that the person offering comfort would be a chaplain trained at a mainline Protestant seminary.

In the time of COVID-19, when the number of suffering patients is overwhelming the number of chaplains and medical staff, they are combining their own spiritual practice with respect for what they know about the identity of the patient and have been fashioning together last rites as best they can.

Without a doubt, many things that faith communities typically do are much harder now: physical gathering for communal prayer, the observance of traditional burial customs.

But other things are easier, like speaking freely of the sacred sources of our strength and solace and sharing these across lines of religious difference.

No one in any hospital is looking to cancel a doctor, a nurse or a patient because of a different belief system. Anthony Fauci is giving us all an object lesson on how to work together across lines of deep worldview disagreement.

We are remembering how essential cooperation is for a healthy, diverse democracy. We are realizing that we can disagree on some fundamental things while we work together on others.

Even those projects that have drawn some controversy, like the makeshift hospital set up in Central Park by Samaritan’s Purse, offer an opportunity to reflect on interfaith cooperation.

A Samaritan's Purse crew works on building an emergency field hospital equipped with a respiratory unit in New York's Central Park, across from the Mount Sinai Hospital, Sunday, March 29, 2020. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)

In normal times, I, too, might choose to emphasize my disagreements with the politics of the organization’s leaders. But these days I am grateful for their service to others, knowing that it comes at great risk to themselves. And I am using the occasion to reflect on the deeper meaning of the biblical story that inspired the organization’s name.

In the story of the Good Samaritan, a traveler is beaten and left for dead by the side of the road. A priest and a Levite see the man’s suffering and pass him by. The one who stops is a Samaritan, a member of a hated tribe, a man who prays to the wrong god. He risks himself to heal the wounded traveler. “Go and do likewise,” Jesus tells his followers.

The message is clear, and this is the perfect time to absorb it: interfaith cooperation is not just a civic value, but a sacred one.

https://religionnews.com/2020/04/10/passover-easter-ramadan-and-interfaith-america-in-action/

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Mideast

 

Turkey dispatches some 300 allied Takfiri militants from Syria to Libya: SOHR

11 April 2020

Turkey has reportedly sent new batches of allied Takfiri militants from Syria to Libya, following a bill passed by the parliament earlier this year that allows the Ankara government to deploy forces to the North African country to intervene in the civil war.

The so-called Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, citing sources requesting not to be named, reported on Saturday that nearly 300 members of the so-called Sultan Murad Division, Northern Falcons Brigade and the Sham Legion militant groups arrived in Libya the previous day.

Rebel militia under the command of Libya’s renegade general Khalifa Haftar claim to have shot down two Turkish drones in the skies over the North African country.

The Observatory added that a batch of at least 150 Takfiris from the Sultan Murad Division had been transported by Turkish buses in the past few days from Syria's northwestern city of Afrin to the border with Turkey.

Another batch, consisting of tens of Takfiri recruits from Jarabulus and al-Bab cities, were moved to Hawar Kellis border region as well.

The so-called Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says some 200 Turkish-backed militants, who have been transported from Syria to Libya, have fled to Europe.

The Britain-based war monitor highlighted that Turkey has so far sent approximately 5,050 allied Takfiri militants from Syria to Libya, and nearly 1,950 others are currently receiving military training in Turkey in order to be sent to the war-ravaged North African country.

Libya plunged into chaos in 2011, when a popular uprising and a NATO intervention led to the ouster of long-time dictator Muammar Gaddafi and his execution by unruly fighters.

Russia says Turkey is helping foreign militants cross into Libya, where rebel forces are attempting to unseat the internationally-recognized government.

The North African country has since been split between two rival administrations based in the east and west amid a conflict drawing increasing involvement from foreign powers.

According to the latest UN tally, more than 280 civilians and roughly 2,000 fighters have been killed since self-styled commander Khalifa Haftar launched his offensive in April to seize Tripoli. An estimated 146,000 Libyans have been displaced.

https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2020/04/11/622803/Turkey-dispatch-300-allied-Takfiri-militants-from-Syria-to-Libya-SOHR

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Imam Khamenei replies to letters from students of Lebanon’s Al-Mahdi schools: prepare yourselves for a better world (+Photo)

April 11, 2020

AhlulBayt News Agency (ABNA): Supreme Leader of the Islamic Revolution in Iran Imam Sayyed Ali Khamenei sent a reply letter to the students of the Islamic Association for Education and Teaching (Al-Mahdi Schools) in Lebanon, asking Holy God to bestow them happiness.

I have seen your full-of-love letter, and I appreciate your pure emotions, Imam Khamenei said.

“Prepare yourselves for a better future and to establish a new world full of security, humanity and morality.”

“Education, faith and piety are the real munitions of the human being. Start ingraining them in your souls.”

It is worth noting that Muslims celebrated on Shaaban 15 the Imam Mahdi (P) Birthday, reiterating readiness for His awaited apparition.

https://en.abna24.com/news//imam-khamenei-replies-to-letters-from-students-of-lebanon%e2%80%99s-al-mahdi-schools-prepare-yourselves-for-a-better-world-photo_1024518.html

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Palestine says Israel abusing COVID-19 to grab more lands

12 April 2020

Palestinians believe Israel is taking advantage of the disease caused by the coronavirus pandemic to grab more of their lands and to escalate aggression against the people of Palestine.

Head of the anti-settlement commission of the Palestinian Authority said on Saturday that Israel is using the situation to expand its settlement activities in the occupied territories.

In a separate statement on Saturday, the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) warned against a recently-leaked understanding between the USA and Israel over Tel Aviv’s plans for further annexation of Palestinian lands, and for the purpose of building illegal colonial settlements on the occupied Palestinian territories.

The statement, issued by PLO's Department for the Defense of Lands, said that the Israeli regime is exploiting the world’s engagement in fight against coronavirus by considering some annexation plans that would confiscate more Palestinian-owned lands for illegal settlement purposes.

The comments came a few days after the Arab League warned Israel was exploiting the international community’s preoccupation with the viral outbreak to push ahead with its settlement expansion in the occupied territories.

Speaking in a telephone conversation with PLO Secretary General Saeb Erekat on Tuesday, Arab League chief Ahmed Aboul Gheit said the Israeli violations include killing, arresting and displacing civilians, annexing new settlements, and attacking Palestinian holy sites.

The Arab League has warned against attempts by the Israeli regime to annex more Palestinian land as the world is busy fighting a coronavirus pandemic.

Aboul Gheit warned Israel against implementing its annexation plans for the occupied Palestinian territories, whether in the Jordan Valley, the northern West Bank or elsewhere.

The Tel Aviv regime has stepped up its settlement construction activities in defiance of UN Security Council Resolution 2334, which pronounces settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem al-Quds “a flagrant violation under international law.”

Earlier in the week, Aboul Gheit wrote to the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), calling on the humanitarian organization to help secure the release of Palestinian prisoners from Israeli detention centers amid rising cases of infection with the new coronavirus in the occupied territories.

https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2020/04/12/622830/Israel-COVID19-crisis-expand-Palestine

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Israel installs spy cameras on towers above concrete wall in southern Lebanon

11 April 2020

The Israeli military has reportedly installed several surveillance cameras along the border between the occupied territories and Lebanon, amid high tensions between the Tel Aviv regime and Hezbollah and the former’s attempts to target senior figures of the Lebanese resistance movement in the area.

On Saturday, Israeli forces planted the new spying devices on towers above the concrete wall off the road that links the villages of Adaisseh and Kfar Kila, the Lebanese and Arabic-language online newspaper el-Nashra reported.

The development came only a week after a senior Hezbollah commander in southern Lebanon was killed apparently by agents working for Israel’s Mossad spy organization.

Ali Mohammed Younes, of the southern Lebanese village of Jebchit, was pulled from his car, stabbed and shot on a road near Nabatieh.

The military posted grainy footage on its Twitter page, which purportedly showed the head of the Syrian Armed Forces 1st Corps, Luau Ali Ahmad Assad, “visiting Hezbollah positions in Syria.”

The footage, which was filmed from a distance, showed individuals wearing military fatigues greeting a man with military salutes and shaking hands with him in an open area.

The text accompanying the footage on the Israeli post read, “See the man with white hair? That's the head of the Syrian Armed Forces 1st Corps, Luau Ali Ahmad Assad. He's visiting Hezbollah positions in #Syria.”

“Our message: We see you. Consider this a warning,” the caption further read. “We won't allow Hezbollah to entrench itself militarily in Syria.”

https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2020/04/11/622810/Israel-installs-spy-cameras-on-towers-above-concrete-wall-in-southern-Lebanon

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Turkey imposes two-day lockdown to fight coronavirus

11 April 2020

Istanbul, Ankara and other major Turkish cities locked down for two days to combat the spread of the coronavirus under an Interior Ministry order, as the country's death toll from the pandemic rose above 1,000 on Saturday.

The restrictions were imposed in 31 provinces across the country and scaled up existing curbs, under which people under the age of 20 and over 65 have been told to stay at home.

Turkey has also halted all international flights, restricted domestic travel, closed schools, bars and cafes, and suspended mass prayers. But people have still been going to work to sustain economic activity.

Detailing specifics of the lockdown in a subsequent statement, the Interior Ministry said bakeries, pharmacies and health facilities would be among places excluded from the ban, enabling people to meet essential needs.

Meanwhile, people rushed into the streets in parts of Turkey, forming long lines outside grocery stores minutes after the government announced a two-day curfew in 31 cities to help curb the spread of the coronavirus.

Just hours before the curfew came into effect, people were seen queuing outside stores in panic, many ignoring social distancing rules, the private DHA news agency reported.

The government later announced that bakeries, pharmacies and other stores selling basic goods would remain open despite the curfew.

The curfew was announced amid concerns that with fine weather predicted over the weekend, many would ignore a government advice to stay at home.

According to Johns Hopkins University, Turkey has registered 47,029 cases of the coronavirus with more than 1,000 deaths, as of Saturday morning.

https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2020/04/11/622784/Turkey-lockdown-coronavirus-outbreak

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Iran by far outpaces US in fight against COVID-19

11 April 2020

By Yuram Abdullah Weiler

“Who’s going to pay for it?” The last words of a COVID-19 victim to his medical caretaker encapsulate the gangrenous infection in the body of the American healthcare system.  How is it possible that the still wealthiest country in the world, the United States of America, has created a healthcare system that compels its citizenry to fret over medical bills during their last moments on their death beds?

Oddly enough, the same question is asked by policymakers every time the subject of universal health care for Americans is broached.  Yet when it comes to trillion dollar war budgets, the absence of lawmakers asking “who’s going to pay for it?” is quite telling.  This year, the US president has proposed a $740.5 billion outlay for so-called defense and national security “to prepare for a potential future, high-end fight.”  Among the provisions is a proposed expenditure of $28.9 billion for nuclear modernization, and a whopping $106 billion for research and development of more efficiently lethal weapons.

In contrast, the US Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the public health arm of the US government fighting the SARS COV-2 virus responsible for the coronavirus pandemic, has been targeted for a budget cut by the little man in the White House and his cabal of neoliberal henchmen.  For FY2021, the proposed total for CDC is $12.55 billion out of which only $802 million would go for public health preparedness and response.  Compared to the CDC FY2020 budget, whose total was $12.71 billion, this year’s proposal is $160.7 million less, and funding for such critical categories as emerging and zoonotic infectious diseases, chronic disease prevention, birth defects, developmental disabilities, environmental health, public health, global health, and numerous others are to endure drastic cuts.

To understand how the richest country in the world can justify spending on public health services less than half of what is spent for nuclear weapons modernization, we must view this expenditure in the context of neoliberalism. This ideology, promulgated by America’s policymakers as the cure-all for all social problems, is applied to all social, political and economic areas, with the exception of the military, including public health and disease prevention.  This all-encompassing ideology, as the term is applied today, had its roots in a seminal paper by economist Milton Friedman in 1951 titled “Neo-Liberalism and its Prospects,” in which he condemned centralized economic planning as being “consistent with its own brand of chaos and disorganization,” and warned that “centralized economic control is likely to endanger individual freedom and liberty.”

Award-winning journalist and author Naomi Klein characterizes neoliberalist ideology as having three pillars: privatization of the public sector, deregulation of the corporate sector, and reduction of individual and corporate taxes to be paid for by budget cuts to social programs.  The result of these three pillars is the formation of what she refers to as an “ideological wall that has blocked a serious response to climate change for decades.” We have now witnessed that the same ideological wall has stymied an effective US response to the coronavirus pandemic as well.

At the core of neoliberal economics is the concept of the free market, in which the buyer and seller establish market prices for goods and services based solely on supply and demand, without interference by outside forces such as government regulatory bodies.  The result of the free market is supposedly the most efficient distribution of scarce goods and services, and through competition among suppliers, the buyer obtains the lowest possible price.  The free market, according to the neoliberalists, is in direct opposition to the government, and, as US president Ronald Reagan declared in his 1981 inaugural address, “Government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem.”

Policymakers have applied the Reagan economic elixir to most everything, including the US healthcare delivery system.  The results have been predictably disastrous. The US system places the actual consumer of healthcare in the position of being a pawn of employers and health insurance corporations, whose primary goal is minimizing insurance costs and maximizing profits.  As this is often done by minimizing the actual delivery of healthcare, we can see that healthcare insurance in the US does not translate directly into healthcare delivery. Despite the fact that Americans pay more than twice the amount per person for health coverage as Canadians, who have a national health care system, they receive less frequent care, live shorter lives, and worry more about the cost of every single doctor or hospital visit.  “People without adequate health insurance will get sicker, become poorer, and die younger than if they had insurance,” noted Dr. Benjamin Sommers of Harvard University’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

Unfortunately, the man dying from coronavirus disease while still worried about the cost of treatment is more often than not the norm in the US for-profit healthcare system.  Inability to pay medical bills is the leading cause of personal bankruptcies in America, and even seriously injured persons have been known to refuse transport to hospital by ambulance due to the ridiculous cost of the ride, which averages $8,400.  Yet the fierce resistance by corporate lobbyists to changing this completely dysfunctional US healthcare system is so unyielding, repeated attempts, which date back to the presidency of Harry Truman, to establish a true, single-payer national health system have failed to come to fruition.

So with a for-profit healthcare delivery system, with its emphasis on profit maximization, there is no incentive to prepare for a once-per-century pandemic.  On the contrary, every hospital bed, N95 mask, ventilator and staff member deemed redundant must be eliminated, or else the corporate healthcare conglomerates would face the wrath of activist shareholders, who would accuse the board of directors of poor stewardship of their investments and threaten hostile takeovers.  Worse yet, there is plenty of opportunity for insurers to “game the system” by overcharging the government for treatment of patients on the Medicare plans they administer.

Viewing the American response to the coronavirus outbreak through this lens, we can understand why there has been a lack of coordinated response on the national level.  For his part, Trump campaigned promising a repeal of the so-called ObamaCare (Affordable Care Act), which itself fell far short of universal health coverage.  His fiscal 2021 budget for ObamaCare and Medicaid called for cuts of nearly $1 trillion over a 10-year period along with $600 billion in cuts to Medicare.  In short, Trump has worked feverishly to deny Americans basic healthcare, much less plan for contingencies like the coronavirus, which has brought what is left of the US health care system to its knees.

In its inept response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Trump regime has taken Friedman’s prescription to the extreme. Bringing about “its own brand of chaos and disorganization,” Trump has exhibited virtually no leadership in organizing a coordinated effort at the national level to confront the deadly coronavirus.  Instead he has made himself the focus of media attention through his daily press briefings, which disseminate a plethora of conflicting comments, counterfactual claims, and often dangerous anti-coronavirus assertions.

Perhaps the most dangerous of Trump’s dubious remarks concerns touting hydroxychloroquine, a drug used for treating malaria, rheumatoid arthritis and lupus erythematosus, as a cure for COVID-19. “What do you have to lose? Take it,” prescribed the Potomac pitch man during one of his daily briefings. “It can help them but it’s not going to hurt them.” In fact, according to public health physicians, the drug not only can hurt, by inducing an entire spectrum of side effects, ranging from a skin rash to corneal opacity, but also can kill, as has already occurred in the US and elsewhere.

As far as the actual efficacy in combating the SARS COV-2 virus, Douglas Richman, a virologist and infectious disease physician at the University of California, San Diego, stated in the medical journal Lancet, “Whether hydroxychloroquine works in vivo is not proven for any virus, and in fact in randomised controlled trials against a number of viruses, including influenza, it doesn't work at all.”  Furthermore, the US president’s irresponsible remarks are causing problems for Lupus patients, who are now having problems in getting their prescriptions filled for the drug, as “off label” prescriptions for COVID-19 treatment have led to shortages.

Iran, in contrast, has managed to get the upper hand on the coronavirus despite the vicious US economic sanctions, which have prevented the acquisition of much-needed medical supplies and equipment.  Additionally, Iran has had to fight against a US-backed misinformation campaign designed to distort information about the Islamic Republic’s handling of the pandemic with the objective of destabilization. It is an abomination, and clear evidence of moral bankruptcy, that Trump and his cohorts would attempt to use the COVID-19 pandemic against Iran in their ungodly quest for regime change.

Yuram Abdullah Weiler is a former engineer educated in mathematics turned writer and political critic who has written dozens of articles on Islam, social justice, economics, and politics focusing mainly on the Middle East and US policies.  His work has appeared on Tehran Times, Mehr News, Press TV, Iran Daily, IRIB, Fars News, Palestine Chronicle, Salem-News, Khabar Online, Imam Reza Network, Habilian Association, Shiite News, Countercurrents, Uruknet, Turkish Weekly, American Herald Tribune and Hezbollah. In addition, he has frequently appeared as a guest commentator on Press TV, Al Etejah, and Alalam. A dissenting voice from the “Belly of the Beast”, he currently lives in Las Cruces, New Mexico USA. Weiler wrote this article for Press TV website.

https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2020/04/11/622804/US-COVID-19-response-stonewalled-by-neoliberal-ideology

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Europe

 

Easter, Passover, Ramadan … Festivals Test The Faithful’s Resolve Over Lockdown

12 Apr 2020

Harriet Sherwood

Members of the Church of England are not noted for their resistance to authority. But during Holy Week, the most significant time in the Christian calendar, its leaders have faced mounting objections to its edict that all churches must close - even to their own clergy.

Some prominent Anglicans have taken to social media and blogs this Easter to argue that churches must remain open, and that to lock their doors is to risk people’s spiritual health. Even Sarah Mullally, the bishop of London – a former nurse, and number three in the C of E’s hierarchy – suggested in a letter to parishes that vicars could live-stream services from their church buildings… before correcting herself on Twitter.

Justin Welby, the archbishop of Canterbury, was forced to restate the reasons for church closures in a Facebook video last week. In a tone of rebuke, he said the church must “set an example”.

All this was just a minor example of people of faith insisting on their right to worship in traditional ways in the face of near-global paralysis. Some of the most extreme have claimed they have divine protection, that the virus is God’s punishment for the sins of the world, or that it is a sign of the end of days.

Perhaps the first example of religious organisations elevating their right to worship above the right of others to health came in mid-February in the South Korean city of Daegu. More than 1,000 members of the Shincheonji Church of Jesus prayed shoulder to shoulder in a windowless basement. In the congregation was a 61-year-old woman with a sore throat and a fever.

Orthodox Jewish boys celebrate Purim in Stamford Hill, London on 10 March, two weeks before the UK introduced strict lockdown measures. Photograph: James Veysey/REX/Shutterstock

Three days later, she became Patient 31, the 31st person in South Korea to test positive for Covid-19. By 1 March, some 2,200 cases – then about three in five of South Korea’s total – were traced back to the church.

In the following weeks, as wave after wave of countries announced restrictive measures, evidence grew of resistance among some religious groups and organisations. In Bangladesh, at least 10,000 – some estimate 30,000 – Muslims gathered for a mass prayer session in the town of Raipur on 18 March. A religious leader in the town told people that, following the prayers, they would now be “free from the coronavirus”.

A couple of weeks earlier, 16,000 people attended a four-day Islamic conference at the Sri Petaling mosque near the Maylasian capital, Kuala Lumpur. About 1,500 were from other countries, including China and South Korea. More than 400 coronavirus patients in Malaysia were later linked to the conference – and other cases in Brunei, Singapore, Cambodia and Thailand were traced back to the mosque meeting.

Friday prayers became a point of tension in Pakistan and Bangladesh, across the Middle East. The religious obligation for Muslim men to go to the mosque for noon prayers on Friday ran up against lockdown restrictions, despite the reassurance of imams and Islamic scholars that these were exceptional circumstances.

Thousands of Muslims attend a prayer session near Raipur on 18 March. A week later, Bangladesh was in lockdown. Photograph: AFP via Getty Images

In Israel, the UK and the US, ultra-Orthodox Jewish communities celebrated Purim on 9 and 10 March. People gathered in large numbersbut within days, rabbis and communal leaders were advising synagogues and yeshivas (religious schools) to close.

After the Israeli government’s lockdown regulations were flouted, the entire city of Bnei Brak was barricaded, with 1,000 police officers blocking the movement of its ultra-Orthodox residents. And In New York, police broke up three ultra-Orthodox funerals last weekend.

In Stamford Hill, north London, home to a large ultra-Orthodox population, cars toured the streets, broadcasting the message about closures. A letter, signed by 20 Jewish doctors and circulated to the community, said: “You are fully responsible for deaths that occur as a result of ignoring this advice.” Communal leaders in the UK have since raised concerns about what appears to be a disproportionately high number of deaths among Jews. According to the Board of Deputies, 152 Jews had died of Covid-19 by last Wednesday – 2.77% of the total UK death toll at that time. Jews make up 0.4% of the country’s population.

Soldiers spray disinfectant outside the Shincheonji Church of Jesus in Daegu, South Korea. More then 2,000 cases of Covid-19 have been traced back to a mass prayer meeting here in February. Photograph: Lee Moo-tyul/AP

In the US, churches in Florida, Ohio, Kentucky and Louisiana have continued to hold services, with some states offering limited exemptions from restrictions for faith organisations. Rodney Howard-Browne, a pastor in Tampa was arrested after his megachurch hosted acts of worship attended by hundreds of people.

Amid these tensions, faith leaders in the UK say they have been taken aback by the numbers of people tuning into online worship and prayer – far more than turn up in person. Virtual services are “meeting a deep spiritual need”, said Helen-Ann Hartley, the bishop of Ripon. “People are asking big questions about Covid-19 – why now, why us, what does this mean for my life?”

This month, as the world’s major religions celebrate significant festivals – Easter, Passover, Ramadan and Vaisakhi – in isolation, the test of faith is set to intensify.

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/apr/12/easter-passover-ramadan-festivals-test-the-faithfuls-resolve-over-lockdown

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Coronavirus: Burials changing for Muslims amid UK's high COVID-19 death rate

By Sadiya Chowdhury

12 April 2020

To cope with the number of funerals, it has introduced saff-burials - a method of laying people to rest in rows named after the Arabic word for "rows".

A first for British Muslims, it means 10 people can be buried in close succession, within one plot but in individual chambers - different to a mass burial.

Richard Gomersall, chief executive at GreenAcre cemeteries, said: "It's being done at the request and needs of the Muslim community, who have come to us and said: 'We really need to be able to increase the speed at which we can bury our loved ones.'

"At the moment they're having to wait a week to two weeks and, within the Islamic tradition, that's far too long."

Muslims and Jews hasten funeral rites, a guidance that has remained unchanged for centuries. They believe it speeds the soul's ascent to the heavens, and opens the door for loved ones left behind to start grieving.

https://news.sky.com/story/coronavirus-burials-changing-for-muslims-amid-uks-high-covid-19-death-rate-11972112

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Generous donation by Muslim Hands boosts Age UK Notts' phone welfare system during pandemic

By The Newsroom

12th April 2020

The money will be used to make sure older people of all faiths, and in all parts of Nottingham and Nottinghamshire, can find a friendly voice at the end of the phone if they are lonely or anxious.

Muslim Hands will also provide some volunteer support to help people access the service when English isn’t their first language and will help make Age UK Notts’ welfare service accessible across the community.

Dr Basel Alkhder of Muslims Hands said: “We are pleased to be able to help Age UK Notts deliver this much-needed service because we are all part of the local community.”

Thank you for reading this story on our website. While I have your attention, I also have an important request to make of you.

In order for us to continue to provide high quality and trusted local news on this free-to-read site, I am asking you to also please purchase a copy of our newspaper.

Our journalists are highly trained and our content is independently regulated by IPSO to some of the most rigorous standards in the world. But being your eyes and ears comes at a price. So we need your support more than ever to buy our newspapers during this crisis.

With the coronavirus lockdown having a major impact on many of our local valued advertisers - and consequently the advertising that we receive - we are more reliant than ever on you helping us to provide you with news and information by buying a copy of our newspaper.

https://www.chad.co.uk/news/people/generous-donation-muslim-hands-boosts-age-uk-notts-phone-welfare-system-during-pandemic-2533928

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UK PM Johnson’s Half-Brother Condemns Leader’s COVID-19 Treatment Before Entering Hospital

12.04.2020

PM Johnson, along with the country’s Health Secretary Matt Hancock, announced that they had tested positive for the virus on 27 March. the PM described his symptoms as “mild” and chose to continue working while in self-isolation.

The Prime Minister was admitted to hospital on 5 April and subsequently his COVID-19 symptoms progressively worsened, prompting a move to intensive care for three days.

“He’d tested positive so there was no doubt what he was dealing with. The word ‘shambles’ comes to mind,” the prime minister’s brother suggested. “What’s the point of bodyguards when you can’t have a doctor? The Office of Prime Minister needs better protection”.

In its response of the half-brother's comments, the office of the prime minister said that Boris Johnson's health is a “private matter”, adding that it would be “inaccurate” to claim that he was not examined by a doctor before hospitalization, according to CNN.

As of Saturday, the total number of COVID-19 patients in the United Kingdom had surpassed 79,800, with almost 9,900 fatalities, while only 622 people have recovered from the disease, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.

https://sputniknews.com/uk/202004121078923539-uk-pm-johnsons-half-brother-condemns-leaders-covid-19-treatment-before-entering-hospital/

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Parliament to return on April 21 - but furious MPs demand recall immediately

By Dan Bloom

12 APR 2020

MPs from across the political divide today demanded an urgent recall of Parliament as plans to come back on April 21 were branded not enough.

Leader of the Commons Jacob Rees-Mogg today insisted Parliament will return in nine days' time as planned after a month-long Easter break.

Options are "being prepared" in the next week for how to use virtual technology to keep the Commons going without MPs coming too close in person.

And the Greens, SNP, Lib Dems, Plaid Cymru, Greens, SDLP and Alliance Parties demanded the government go further with an immediate recall.

In a letter to Boris Johnson's deputy Dominic Raab they say: "It beggars belief that Parliament still hasn't been recalled, albeit virtually.

"With mounting public and political unease about the way the Government is handling this emergency, it's more urgent than ever that Ministers can be held to account.

"While parliament can't yet return to Westminster, the technology exists to enable a far greater level of remote accountability, even if that won't be able to exactly replicate the way parliament normally functions.

Labour leader Keir Starmer stopped short of calling for an "immediate" recall of Parliament but had demanded urgent talks to ensure it can be recalled safely "as soon as possible".

He said: "At this time of national emergency, we need a functioning Parliament to hold ministers to account on their response to the coronavirus.

According to the Sunday Times, spy chiefs at GCHQ are advising parliament on how to let MPs ask questions by video link and vote from here homes using a secure system.

The House of Commons Commission also discussed using video conference app Zoom but making it more secure first, it is reported.

Speaker Lindsay Hoyle is said to have rejected an idea for a quarter of MPs to return in person - instead demanding a “level playing field” where all can contribute equally from their homes.

Leader of the Commons Jacob Rees-Mogg today responded to Sir Keir - but said the April 21 date is being stuck to.

https://www.mirror.co.uk/news/politics/parliament-return-april-21-furious-21853518

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‘I owe them my life’: Boris Johnson hails ICU team that snatched him from death’s door

Apr 12, 2020

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has thanked staff at a London hospital for taking care of him while he recovers from COVID-19.

The 55-year-old conservative politician, who was hospitalised last Sunday running a high fever, spent three days in the intensive care unit at St Thomas’ Hospital after his health deteriorated.

It is the fifth-highest national number globally, and Saturday’s increase was the second day running that the number of deaths jumped by more than 900.

Mr Johnson was moved back to a normal ward on Thursday. When he will be fit enough to return to fulltime work remains unclear.

Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab is currently in charge of running the British government, with aides reportedly expecting Johnson to be out for as long as a month.

According to Britain’s Press Association, Johnson is using a tablet computer to watch favourite films such as Lord of the Rings and playing sudoku to occupy his bedridden hours.

He has received thousands of get-well cards from well-wishers and daily letters from his pregnant fiance Carrie Symonds while in hospital.

https://thenewdaily.com.au/news/coronavirus/2020/04/12/johnson-thanks-team-that-saved-his-life/

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South Asia

 

Muslim Ambassadors Donate To Needy Bangladeshis

11.04.2020

Md. Kamruzzaman

Envoys of Muslim countries serving in Bangladesh on Saturday donated six tons of food for needy people in the capital Dhaka, said a Foreign Ministry statement.

“For the poor people of Bangladesh this type of assistance will continue in the future,” Palestinian Ambassador Yousef S.Y. Ramadan said on behalf of his fellow diplomats.

When Bangladeshi Foreign Minister AK Abdul Momen received the donations, also present at the occasion were Saudi Ambassador Essa Yousef Essa Alduhailan, Egyptian Ambassador Walid Ahmed, and Indonesian Ambassador Rina Prihtyasmiarsi Soemarno.

The needy in Bangladesh are going through a difficult period due to the nationwide lockdown over coronavirus that began on March 26 and is due to last through April 25.

Millions of low-income people need food, including day laborers, rickshaw pullers, garment workers, transport workers and other petty traders like vegetable venders, barbers, and roadside tea or fruit sellers.

Three more people in Bangladesh have died of coronavirus in the last 24 hours, raising the total death tally to 30, according to the Institute of Epidemiology, Disease Control and Research.

Moreover, 58 people contacted the virus during the period, bringing the total infected number to 482, while a total of 36 infected have recovered from the disease so far.

https://www.aa.com.tr/en/asia-pacific/muslim-ambassadors-donate-to-needy-bangladeshis/1801391

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Afghanistan responds to Pakistan’s demand for the hand over of ISIS-K leader

12 Apr 2020

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Afghanistan (MoFA) responded to recent demand of the Foreign Ministry of Pakistan regarding the handover of the detained leader of ISIS Khurasan.

According to a statement released by MoFA, the detained ISIS leader, Aslam Farooqi, has committed major crimes in Afghanistan, which led to martyrdom of several Afghan civilians and security personnel.

Emphasizing that Farooqi should be tried in accordance with the enforced laws in Afghanistan, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said Afghanistan considers no distinction between the terror groups, having consistent legal approach against all terror groups and remaining committed to commitments in the fight against terrorism.

The statement further added that Farooqi will be tried in accordance with the enforced laws of Afghanistan as no agreement exists between the two nations regarding the extradition of prisoners.

Pakistan’s Foreign Ministry had earlier summoned the Afghan envoy and demanded the hand over the detained ISIS Khurasan leader.

The National Directorate of Security (NDS) in a statement said last week that the Special Forces of the directorate conducted a complex operation and arrested Abdullah Orakizai alias Aslam Farooqi, the leader of ISIS Khurasan.

The statement further added that the NDS Special Forces also arrested 19 other top ISIS commanders during the raid including Qari Zahid and Saifullah alias Abu Talha Pakistani.

https://www.khaama.com/afghanistan-responds-to-pakistans-demand-for-the-hand-over-of-isis-k-leader-04645/

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Afghanistan releases details of 2 held ISIS leaders, hailing from Bangladesh, Pakistan

12 Apr 2020

The Afghan intelligence arrested two more senior leaders of the Islamic State, ISIS Khurasan, who originally hail from Bangladesh and Pakistan.

The National Directorate of Security (NDS) in a statement said the Afghan intelligence arrested Mohammad Tanweer having aliases (Omran, Ahmad and Nasir), who is originally a resident of Dhaka city of Bangladesh.

The statement further added that Tanweer was in charge of the Information Technology of ISIS Khurasan who was trained by Esa Panjabi, a resident of Punjab of Pakistan.

According to NDS, Tanweer was playing a key role in organizing communications between ISIS Khurasan leaders in a confidential manner.

The NDS forces also arrested Ali Mohammad, a senior ISIS Khurasan leader, who was in charge of the logistics affairs of the terror group, NDS said, adding that Mohammad is originally a resident of Islamabad of Pakistan and he was playing a key role in coordinating foreign aid to support ISIS activities in Afghanistan.

https://www.khaama.com/afghanistan-releases-details-of-2-held-isis-leaders-hailing-from-bangladesh-pakistan-04644/

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Nabil reacts to recent assassinations of Afghan presidential guards in Kabul

12 Apr 2020

The former Afghan intelligence chief Rahmatullah Nabil reacted to recent assassinations of the Afghan presidential guards in Kabul city.

“Fifteen years ago, when I was tasked to establish a new organization to protect president of AFG, I founded President Protective Service (PPS), In early days I designed this logo myself for (PPS). With all its shortcomings, the (PPS) is one the best professional institutions in the region and has been able to protect Presidents of AFG and their domestic & foreign guests in the difficult security situations of AFG,” Nabil said in a Twitter post.

However, he said “Lately, it has been seen that the brave PPS colleagues are being cowardly assassinated, It hurts me a lot.”

This comes as two separate incidents involving the assassination of PPS guards have been reported in Kabul city during the recent weeks.

Unknown gunmen assassinated one of the members of PPS, Syed Ataulah Mirzayee, in the second street of Taimani at around 4 pm local time on Saturday.

The Interior Ministry officials said last week that gunmen opened fire on the two PPS personnel in Paghman district.

The officials further added that one of the PPS personnel, Qeyamuddin Maqsoodi, lost his life in the attack and another one sustained injuries.

https://www.khaama.com/nabil-reacts-to-recent-assassinations-of-afghan-presidential-guards-in-kabul-04643/

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Afghan security personnel suffer casualties in violent prison riot

11 Apr 2020

Four security personnel were killed or wounded in a violent prison riot in South-eastern Paktiya province of Afghanistan, the Ministry of Interior (MoI) said.

Tariq Arian, a spokesperson for the Ministry of Interior, said the a group of inmates who were attempting to break the prison in Gardez city, were stopped the security forces, triggering a violent riot.

He said two security personnel of the prison lost their lives and two others sustained injuries.

Arian further added that two prisoners also sustained injuries during the riot and the Afghan forces are in full control of the prison right now.

He also added that the riot broke out in the Central Prison of Gardez city at around 8:30 pm local time.

https://www.khaama.com/afghan-security-personnel-suffer-casualties-in-violent-prison-riot-04642/

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Southeast Asia

 

Indonesia orders coronavirus transport curbs ahead of Ramadan exodus

APRIL 12, 2020

JAKARTA (Reuters) - Indonesia has imposed curbs on public transport ahead of the annual exodus to home villages that marks the end of the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan, in a bid to slow the spread of the coronavirus, the government said on Sunday.

A woman wearing a face mask and a child sit between rail tracks to enjoy sunshine as they believe it improves their immunity, during the imposition of large-scale social restrictions by the government to prevent the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Jakarta, Indonesia, April 12, 2020. REUTERS/Willy Kurniawan

About 75 million Indonesians usually stream home from bigger cities at the end of Ramadan, due this year at the end of May, but health experts have warned against a surge in cases after a slow government response masked the scale of the outbreak.

Public buses, trains, airplanes and ships will be allowed to fill only half their passenger seats, under a new regulation that also limits occupation of a private car to just half the seats, while a motorcycle may be ridden only by one person.

“The essence of this new regulation is to carry out public transport control...while still meeting the needs of the people,” transport ministry spokeswoman Adita Irawati said in a statement posted on the cabinet secretariat website.

The capital Jakarta is the epicenter of the outbreak in the world’s biggest Muslim-majority country, with the most infections and deaths among a national tally of 3,842 cases and 327 fatalities.

President Joko Widodo has been criticized for rejecting calls for an outright ban on the Ramadan travel home, as well as stricter lockdowns such as those imposed by neighbors.

Widodo has instead sought to persuade people to stay put by expanding welfare programs. He has opted for widespread social curbs in some areas, letting local authorities decide on closures of schools and offices, and bans on mass gatherings.

Sunday’s directive also limits public transport vehicles to half capacity, shorter operational hours and set out guidelines for motorbike taxis in regions covered by Indonesia’s large-scale social restrictions.

The ministry also ordered public transport operators to check passengers’ temperature, while bus terminals, train stations, airports and seaports must provide soap and hand sanitizers and standby medical staff.

Jakarta and surrounding cities in Southeast Asia’s biggest country, such as Bogor, Depok and Bekasi are under the large-scale curbs, known by their Indonesian abbreviation, PSBB.

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-health-coronavirus-indonesia/indonesia-orders-coronavirus-transport-curbs-ahead-of-ramadan-exodus-idUSKCN21U04Y

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North Korea calls for tougher coronavirus curbs, but leader Kim Jong Un seen without mask in photos

5 HOURS AGO

SEOUL (REUTERS) - North Korea called for more strict and thorough countermeasures to ensure the safety of its citizens from the fast spreading coronavirus pandemic where leader Kim Jong Un presided, state media said on Sunday (April 12).

North Korea is continuing to test for the virus, with more than 500 people in quarantine, but has no confirmed infections yet, a country representative of the World Health Organisation told Reuters on Tuesday.

The Korean Central News Agency said the virus had created obstacles to work on the economy, but the North had enforced consistent and compulsory “strict top-class emergency anti-epidemic measures” to maintain a stable situation.

At a meeting on Saturday, the political bureau of the central committee of the ruling Workers’ Party of Korea adopted a resolution to take “more thorough state measures” to protect people’s lives and safety against the pandemic, KCNA added.

It also aimed to step up emergency services nationwide against the outbreak and push ahead with economic construction, increasing the national defence capability and stabilising people’s livelihoods this year, the agency said.

But state media photographs showed that none of those at the meeting, including Kim, wore masks or sat unusually far apart from each other.

Neighbouring South Korea reported 32 new infections by the end of Saturday, taking its tally to 10,512, with three more deaths for a total of 214, the Korea Centres for Disease Control and Prevention said.

The KCNA said part of its agenda from the Saturday meeting was to have been presented to a meeting of the Supreme People’s Assembly, initially set for Friday, but it was not clear if the larger body had already met, or if not, when it is scheduled to do so.

The report also said Kim Yo Jong, Kim Jong Un's sister and senior government official, was elected as an alternate member of the Political Bureau of the Central Committee of the ruling party.

A picture taken on April 11, 2020, shows Kim Jong Un (centre) attending a meeting of the Political Bureau of the Central Committee of the Workers' Party of Korea, in Pyongyang. PHOTO: AFP

In a separate report on Sunday, KCNA said Kim Jong Un expressed satisfaction at a drill of North Korea’s pursuit assault aircraft that he oversaw, but suggested important tasks to “further enhance combat efficiency”.

https://www.straitstimes.com/asia/east-asia/north-korea-calls-for-stricter-anti-epidemic-measures

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Pandemic a ‘perfect storm’ for South Asia

By SIMON STURDEE

APRIL 12, 2020

South Asia is on course for its worst economic performance in 40 years, with decades of progress in the battle against poverty at risk, because of coronavirus, the World Bank said Sunday.

India, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Afghanistan and other smaller nations, which have 1.8 billion people and some of the planet’s most densely populated cities, have so far reported relatively few coronavirus cases but experts fear they could be the next hotspots.

The dire economic effects are already much in evidence, with widespread lockdowns freezing most normal activity, Western factory orders cancelled and vast numbers of poor workers suddenly jobless.

“South Asia finds itself in a perfect storm of adverse effects. Tourism has dried up, supply chains have been disrupted, demand for garments has collapsed and consumer and investor sentiments have deteriorated,” said a World Bank report.

It slashed its growth forecast for the region this year to 1.8-2.8% from its pre-pandemic projection of 6.3%, with at least half the countries falling into “deep recession”.

Worst hit will be the Maldives where the collapse of tourism will result in gross domestic output contracting by as much as 13%, while Afghanistan could shrink by as much as 5.9% and Pakistan by up to 2.2%.

Regional heavyweight India, where the fiscal year began on April 1, will see growth of just 1.5-2.8% in its current financial year, down from an expected 4.8-5.0% for the year just ended, the bank predicted.

The report also warned that the pandemic will reinforce inequality in the region, with the pandemic hitting informal workers with limited or no access to healthcare or social safety the hardest.

In India for instance, the world’s biggest lockdown has prompted hundreds of thousands of migrant workers to return to their home villages, many on foot.

Governments need to “ramp up action to curb the health emergency, protect their people, especially the poorest and most vulnerable, and set the stage now for fast economic recovery,” the World Bank said.

In the short term this means preparing weak healthcare systems, providing safety nets and securing access to food, medical supplies and necessities for the most vulnerable, it advised.

It recommended temporary work programs for migrant workers, debt relief for business and individuals and cutting red tape on imports and exports of essential goods.

“Failure to do so can lead to long-term growth disruptions and reverse hard-won progress in reducing poverty,” the bank’s Hartwig Schafer said.

The World Bank is taking “broad, fast action”, deploying up to $160 billion in financial support over the next 15 months to help countries protect the poor and vulnerable, support businesses, and bolster economic recovery.

https://asiatimes.com/2020/04/pandemic-a-perfect-storm-for-south-asia/

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Malaysia's response to Covid-19 ranked fourth strictest in SEA

12 Apr 2020

By DIYANA PFORDTEN

PETALING JAYA: Malaysia's Covid-19 response which includes the movement control order (MCO) is the fourth strictest among South-East Asian countries as of Friday, according to the University of Oxford’s Blavatnik School of Government.

According to the Oxford Covid-19 Government Response Tracker, Malaysia is ranked fourth in Asean after Laos, Vietnam and the Philippines.

https://www.thestar.com.my/news/nation/2020/04/12/malaysia039s-response-to-covid-19-ranked-fourth-strictest-in-sea

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Super GT Malaysia falls victim to virus

12 Apr 2020

PETALING JAYA: It was supposed to be a grand return to Malaysia after a six-year absence but the Super GT Festival in Malaysia has also fallen victim to Covid-19 pandemic.

The Super GT Malaysia was to be the fifth round of the Japan Super GT Series taking place at Sepang International Circuit from July 16-19.

Race promoter Haro Sports and Entertainment made the decision after consulting with the relevant local authorities and GT Association Co Ltd due to the escalating Covid-19 situation.

Countries around the world have been taking drastic measures to prevent any further spread of the virus and a postponement is necessary to ensure the safety and well-being of all stakeholders – local and international fans, spectators, racing teams, event partners, event vendors and event personnel.

The race promoter also added they will continue to work with relevant authorities to closely monitor the pandemic and an alternative date will be announced as soon as the pandemic is no longer a threat.

All fans who have purchased tickets to the event can be assured that it will be valid for use.

https://www.thestar.com.my/sport/motorsport/2020/04/12/super-gt-malaysia-falls-victim-to-virus

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Covid-19 fight is far from over

12 Apr 2020

IN the battle against Covid-19, Malaysia has done well not to find ourselves in the same predicament as Italy or the United States, with their soaring number of new cases daily.

We have been strict in enforcing it, too, with cops and soldiers on the streets risking their health to make sure we stay safe and at home.

Covid-19 infection rates are expressed by the mathematical term R0, referring to the average number of people who catch a disease from one contagious person.

However, we need to bring the R0 down to 0.9, according to the ministry. This is why the MCO, originally slated to end on April 14, has been extended to April 28.

It is crucial that every single one of us makes the effort to stay at home in the next two weeks to further suppress the infection rate of this coronavirus.

We have to stay safe by washing our hands frequently and by practising social distancing if we are forced to leave home for any valid reason (think before you go out that door – can what you need be delivered?).

We cannot overturn all the hard work put in by every one of us in the last 25 days. We especially can’t let the risky work done by frontliners in testing and contact tracing be in vain.

Ultimately, all Malaysians, regardless of race, religion and ideology, have to continue to help the Health Ministry and the country in going forward.

We must achieve our goal. Failure to do so might see another extension of the MCO – and that would definitely hurt the efforts to nurse the country’s economy back to good health sooner.

Lost time would see more businesses face closure and more livelihoods threatened, making it even harder for us to get back on our feet.

An MCO that doesn’t get 100% compliance would also waste the government and frontliners’ efforts to fight Covid-19 thus far.

There are no two ways about it. To win the war against Covid-19, we must stay safe and stay at home.

https://www.thestar.com.my/opinion/columnists/the-star-says/2020/04/12/covid-19-fight-is-far-from-over

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Arab world

 

Emirates Islamic contributes AED 10 million to the ‘Community Solidarity Fund Against COVID-19’

11-04-2020

ABU DHABI, 11th April 2020 (WAM) - Emirates Islamic, part of the Emirates NBD Group, contributed AED 10 million to support the ‘Community Solidarity Fund Against COVID-19’ launched by the Islamic Affairs and Charitable Activities Department in Dubai.

Emirates Islamic is the first Dubai financial institution to offer financial support to the Fund. The contribution reflects the growing support extended by the public and private sectors and the community to the Fund.

Hesham Abdulla Al Qassim, Vice Chairman and Managing Director of Emirates NBD Group and Chairman of Emirates Islamic said: "We are pleased to make this contribution to the Community Solidarity Fund Against COVID-19 in line with our values and responsibilities towards the community and our keenness to support greater cooperation between individuals, the government and the business sector during this critical period. These unified national efforts aim to provide medical and economic assistance to members of our community who are most in need during this challenging time."

The Community Solidarity Fund Against COVID-19 announced by the Islamic Affairs and Charitable Activities Department, IACAD, aims to facilitate community contributions and donations towards combating the coronavirus outbreak under the guidance and directions of the UAE’s leadership.

http://wam.ae/en/details/1395302836058

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Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques Receives Phone Call from Palestinian President

2020/04/11

Riyadh, April 11, 2020, SPA -- The Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud received today a phone call from President Mahmoud Abbas of the State of Palestine.

During the phone conversation, President Abbas expressed his best wishes to the Kingdom and its people to overcome the emerging crisis of the Coronavirus pandemic, praising the Kingdom's stances in support of the Palestinians and their cause since the era of the late founder King Abdulaziz.

https://www.spa.gov.sa/viewfullstory.php?lang=en&newsid=2072683

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4,000 e-services to ensure workflow at Two Holy Mosques

April 11, 2020

MAKKAH: The General Presidency for the Affairs of the Two Holy Mosques, under the supervision of its president, Sheikh Abdulrahman Al-Sudais, has provided more than 4,000 online services aimed at preserving the quality of work in the mosques.

The services also intend to support the preventive measures of the government in halting the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

The presidency is providing its services through multiple systems in an effort to fundamentally change the nature of its administrative and service work. The electronic services include a special system for HR management and administrative communications.

All procedures are handled remotely: Meeting schedules are organized through a virtual platform, cybersecurity is monitored, and operations and reports are tracked online. Technical support is provided through emails and WhatsApp to all members of the presidency to ensure workflow and productivity.

Earlier, the presidency called upon the public to cooperate with all precautionary measures in place to curb the spread of the virus among worshippers.

https://www.arabnews.com/node/1657266/saudi-arabia

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Souq Waqif stores get ready to meet Ramadan demand

April 11 2020

Anticipating major achievements in the fight against the Covid-19 pandemic, Souq Waqif storekeepers have started preparations to meet the expected demand for food items like nuts, fruits, spices and sweets during the upcoming Holy Month of Ramadan.

Shop owners told local Arabic daily Arrayah that they have started to stock the necessary goods two months ago to ensure they have enough in store to meet the demand. They also stressed that all products are available in good quantities and different varieties at reasonable prices with little to no change in the retail prices. The main items that enjoy high demand during Ramadan include various types of spices, dried dates and fruits, syrups, cereals, nuts and sweets. The sellers pointed out that currently they are open from 7 am until 9 pm on a daily basis.

However, most of them pointed out that demand is still considerably low compared to previous years as most customers who come to such traditional shops are the elderly citizens and women. Due to the current situation and the precautionary measures in place to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus most of the people are staying at home but they still make phone calls and send their drivers to pick up their orders.

In addition, the shopkeepers at Souq Waqif stressed that they are trying to offer competitive prices to attract customers as there are many outlets across the country who sell the same or similar products.

Meanwhile, sellers of livestock at Al Wakrah Livestock Market, pointed out that they have already got large numbers of sheep to supply to the local market ahead of Ramadan, the important varieties being local, Syrian and Iranian. Besides, they expect the arrival of other types of sheep before the start of Ramadan. Turkish sheep are set to arrive at the local market soon.

The sellers said that the prices of Iranian sheep range from QR1,000 to QR1,200 per head depending on the size, big local sheep would cost QR1,300 and the smaller one QR1,250 while the Syrian sheep are priced QR1,300- QR1,350 . The sellers also stressed that they would be ready to negotiate a reasonable price with their customers to enhance their sales as they have ample supply.

https://www.gulf-times.com/story/660563/Souq-Waqif-stores-get-ready-to-meet-Ramadan-demand

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Coronavirus: Emirates Islamic contributes Dh10 million to 'Community Solidarity Fund'

April 11, 2020

Emirates Islamic, part of the Emirates NBD Group, contributed Dh10 million to support the 'Community Solidarity Fund Against Covid-19' launched by the Islamic Affairs and Charitable Activities Department in Dubai.

Hesham Abdulla Al Qassim, Vice Chairman and Managing Director of Emirates NBD Group and Chairman of Emirates Islamic said: "We are pleased to make this contribution to the Community Solidarity Fund Against Covid-19 in line with our values and responsibilities towards the community and our keenness to support greater cooperation between individuals, the government and the business sector during this critical period. These unified national efforts aim to provide medical and economic assistance to members of our community who are most in need during this challenging time."

The fund announced by the IACAD aims to facilitate community contributions and donations towards combating the coronavirus outbreak under the guidance and directions of the UAE's leadership.

https://www.khaleejtimes.com/coronavirus-pandemic/coronavirus-emirates-islamic-contributes-dh10-million-to-community-solidarity-fund

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President of Two Holy Mosques Affairs: Ceasefire Initiative in Yemen, Confirms Saudi Arabia's Humanitarian Principles

11 Apr, 2020

President General of the Grand Mosque and Prophet's Mosque Affairs Sheikh Dr. Abdulrahman bin Abdulaziz Al-Sudais has praised the decision made by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the coalition countries as well, calling and abiding by a two-week comprehensive ceasefire, in Yemen.

Sheikh Dr. Al-Sudais said that the decision has confirmed the humanitarian principles of the coalition countries to restore the legitimacy, in Yemen led by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, affirming that the decision would achieve peace and stability, in light of such emergency health conditions to combat Coronavirus (Covid-19) Pandemic.

http://alriyadhdaily.com/article/bfca8296609446d4882ab610e6120b4a

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Africa

 

Coronavirus: Beaten man 'living in fear' after South African police enforce lockdown with attack

John Sparks

11 April 2020

Almost every morning, a detachment of South African soldiers make their way through the densely populated township of Alexandra.

It is better known as 'Alex' and it is situated just a stone's throw from the main financial district in Johannesburg.

The members of this ramshackle community, who number between 200,000 and 300,000, seem to ebb and flow around the troops, who ask and plead and order the residents to stay inside their shacks.

But the men and women in uniform are easy to ignore. People duck down mud-strewn alleyways and pop back up when the soldiers had passed.

The majority here share one room shacks with family or friends - and they are not prepared to spend all day indoors.

The realities of life in townships like 'Alex' make South Africa's lockdown extremely difficult to enforce and we have witnessed members of the police and the military lose their patience and strike out at residents who are not following their commands.

In one claustrophobic corner of Alexandra, we filmed an infantryman stride up to a resident and punch and kick him without warning.

Nationwide, the country's police watchdog, the Independent Police Investigative Directorate (IPID), is examining several dozen incidents since the lockdown began - a number which includes the deaths of at least eight members of the public.

Members of the Mbele family, who live near the city of Durban on the east coast, told our team that they had been assaulted and beaten by members of the local police last week.

Police officers entered their property when they spotted family members standing in their garden. An officer tripped up her husband, Vumani, while another policeman came for her.

It was at that point, say the couple, that the beating began. The police took their whips to the torso of Vumani Mbele, battering and bruising his body.

"I am not okay. My body is still very sore. It feels like my ribs are fractured. I am not okay," the 30-year old said.

"I am living in fear. I'm terrified because they may attack me again on my way to work. I tried to open a case at the police station nearby and they said come back after 21 days."

The Mbeles think the police are trying to ignore their complaint of mistreatment by telling them will have to wait until the end of the lockdown to do anything about it.

We decided to approach the IPID to see if the local police were dealing correctly with the Mbele's case. The directorate's spokesman, Sontaga Seisa, suggested they were not.

"That is unfortunate... the police are not supposed to be saying this is not the time for you as a person who has been abused or been assaulted ...that no, we cannot assist you, just come back at the end of the lockdown period. No, it doesn't work like that."

The President of South Africa, Cyril Ramaphosa, asked members of the security services to respect the civil rights of all citizens when he announced the lockdown back in March.

But their heavy-handed approach undermines the public's support for this extraordinary measure.

https://news.sky.com/story/coronavirus-beaten-man-living-in-fear-after-police-enforce-lockdown-with-attack-11971940

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Gauteng schools and mosques join forces to help vulnerable people amid Covid-19 outbreak

By Mirza Aydin

21h ago

Johannesburg - Schools and mosques have been working together to help some of the most vulnerable people in Gauteng during the Covid-19 outbreak.

Midrand’s Nizamiye Mosque and Horizon Educational Trust together with Time to Care SA have started distributing food, blankets and hygiene items to people in the high density townships of Alexandra and Diepsloot this week.

The organisations said in a joint statement that with the money raised in the aid campaign named Together Against Corona, they have over the past week distributed aid in the form of food hampers, blankets, sanitisers, hand soap and bread.

The group will distribute 1750 blankets, 1750 food hampers, 2 000 loaves of bread, 1400 bars of hand soap and 2400 hand sanitisers.

Mustafa Eroglu from Horizon said they distributed 750 blankets, 750 food hampers, 2 000 loaves of bread, 1400 hand sanitisers and 1400 hand soap together with a joint group of institutions to people, particularly the old and disabled on Thursday.

“Mosques are locked, people worship at their homes, this is sad for us. We decided to continue serving humanity during this time and connecting generous South Africans with the people who are in need. Yes, the government help people but we also wanted to be with our brothers and sisters in these tough times,” Huseyin Demirdelen from Nizamiye explained.

“I am here to receive the gifts from our founders particularly Time to Care, Turkish schools and Uncle Ali. We really want to sincerely thank you for the contribution that you have made for the people of Alexandra, particularly people who are very poor as you know during the lockdown, they are unable to go out do some piece jobs in order to support their families,” Chairperson of Committees Sizakele Nkosi-Malobane thanked the donors on behalf of Gauteng premier David Makhura.

https://www.iol.co.za/news/south-africa/gauteng/gauteng-schools-and-mosques-join-forces-to-help-vulnerable-people-amid-covid-19-outbreak-46591992

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Boko Haram survivor tells of fleeing terror group, six years after kidnapping

By DAVID WILLIAMSON

Apr 12, 2020

The horror on the night of April 14, 2014, by Boko Haram, a murderous Islamist terror group, caused global outrage and sparked #BringBackOurGirls, a campaign backed by then US First Lady Michelle Obama. More than a hundred of the women are still missing. During their captivity, many of the girls were married off and became pregnant while others were put into slavery.

The ones who managed to escape their captors are now trying to rebuild their lives, but a new nightmare has unfolded for them.

The freed women have reported being mocked and rejected by their villages, even by their families. The babies they have been forced to have in captivity are referred to as "Boko Babies".

Counsellors working with charities such as the UK's Open Doors are now helping the women to recover. Women like Ruth who was just 14-years-old when she was snatched.

The crack of gunshots announced the arrival of Boko Haram - an army of gangsters and extremists who have brought terror across Nigeria and West Africa.

"Ruth!" her mother shouted. "Ki yi gudu - run for your life!" "I was so scared," she remembered. "Tears streamed down my face as I ran as fast as my feet could carry me.

Her captors drove her and other kidnapped girls deep into the forest. She cried herself to sleep and awoke in a terrifying world in which men who follow a crazed perversion of Islam brutalise girls they kidnap.

"Each day after they returned from their attacks, they would beat and rape us," she said. She was eventually married and gave birth to a son, Samaila.

Ruth was two months pregnant yet she sprinted as hard as she could. Evening fell and she kept going, finally reaching an army checkpoint. Soon, she was homeward bound.

Ruth said: "My father began to treat me as an infidel because of my son and the child in my womb. He said 'I don't want to see you or this boy anywhere close to me'.

Ruth and 19 other survivors went to a trauma healing programme run by Open Doors, which helps people who have been persecuted for their faith. Counselling helped with depression and by the sixth day she was able to show affection to her son.

https://www.express.co.uk/news/world/1268050/boko-haram-chibok-girls-escape

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After Chadian Offensive On Boko Haram, Nigeria's Army Chief, Buratai, Relocates To Borno

APR 11, 2020

Nigeria's Chief of Army Staff has "relocated fully" to the North-East where he will oversee an operation against Islamic terrorist group, Boko Haram.

The move came after a widely publicised and praised offensive against the terrorists on the banks of Lake Chad led by Chadian President, Idriss Deby.

The statement reads, "Gen TY Buratai has relocated fully to the North East where he is overseeing and directing the overall operation in the theatre and other Nigerian Army operations across the country.

"While addressing troops of Special Super Camp Ngamdu in Kaga Local Government Area of Borno State on 9 April 2020, Gen Buratai said that he will be with them to the nooks and crannies of the theatre.

"It will be recalled that we earlier reported that the COAS had been on operational tour to troops' locations in the North East Theatre of Operation since Saturday the 4th of April, 2020.

"During the tour, he was at the Army Super Camp 1 at Mulai and the Special Forces Super Camp 12 at Chabbol near Maiduguri on Wednesday 8 April, 2020 where he interacted with the officers and addressed the troops respectively.

"The Nigerian Army wishes to reassure Nigerians that it is highly committed to protecting all law-abiding citizens and defending our territorial integrity.

“Members of the public are requested to note that there is no form of insecurity that cannot be surmounted, and the Boko Haram/ISWAP's terrorism will also end in the nearest future."

http://saharareporters.com/2020/04/11/after-chadian-offensive-boko-haram-nigerias-army-chief-buratai-relocates-borno

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New Zealand

 

Christchurch shooting: Survivors convinced gunman visited mosque to learn layout

3 hours ago

Patrick Gower

When Brenton Tarrant approached the doors of Al Noor Mosque at the start of his mass killing, he was welcomed with the words "hello brother".

The Imam of the Mosque has revealed that a man he believes was Tarrant pretended to pray with worshippers in the weeks leading up to the March 15 massacre. One worshipper even says they hugged him.

The Imam is convinced the Australian terrorist went there several times to check the layout of the building and to observe the schedule of the mosque members as he planned his attack.

Before the guilty pleas, Newshub couldn't report the Imam's comments about the terrorist visiting the Christchurch Mosque because they could hinder him getting a fair trial. But now we can report this exclusive story.

https://www.newshub.co.nz/home/new-zealand/2020/04/christchurch-shooting-survivors-convinced-gunman-visited-mosque-to-learn-layout.html

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A Muslim family holds the keys to one of Christianity's holiest sites, but this Easter it's been closed by coronavirus

11 hours ago

For Christians of all denominations, the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem is one of the world's most sacred sites, and yet each morning it's opened by a Palestinian Muslim man.

It is said the Holy Sepulchre was built on the site of Jesus's crucifixion. The stone building also houses the tomb which Christians believe Jesus was buried in and resurrected from.

Given its history and holiness, the Holy Sepulchre is a popular pilgrimage site for Christians. Wajeeh says it would normally attract tens of thousands of visitors over the Easter period.

"These are very special days because it's Easter, the holiest of the holy days in the year for Jerusalem ... and many things [would normally] happen inside the Church, especially on the Good Friday," he says.

For generations, the Palestinian Nuseibeh family has guarded the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. Wajeeh Nuseibeh joins the Religion and Ethics Report.

Indeed, the Holy Sepulchre is unique — and busier than most places of worship — because it is controlled by three Christian denominations: the Roman Catholic Church, the Greek Orthodox Church and the Armenian Apostolic Church.

But they are not alone. The Church is also a place of worship for Coptic Orthodox, Syriac Orthodox and Ethiopian Orthodox communities, who have access to various chapels in the sprawling site.

And it's due to the multi-denominational nature of the Church that a Palestinian Muslim family were given the keys and tasked with the daily opening of its doors.

"We are neutral," says Wajeeh, pointing out that during the Ottoman period, there was division between the Roman, Greek and Armenian Churches, over who had control of the site.

He says while there is friction between Israelis and Palestinians over the occupation of land, he does not believe that religion is the problem.

"We respect the holy places, and we give respect not just for Christianity, but for Judaism, [because] we believe in the Old Testament, in the New Testament, and in the Koran."

But until COVID-19 is no longer a risk to the faith groups who worship at the Holy Sepulchre, the door will remain closed.

https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-04-12/muslim-keys-christian-jerusalem-church-closed-easter-coronavirus/12136062

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Pakistan

 

Several localities in Karachi's district East sealed to stop coronavirus spread

Imtiaz Ali

April 12, 2020

KARACHI: The Sindh government on Saturday sealed 11 union committees (UCs) in Karachi’s district East in the wake of confirmed cases of novel coronavirus (Covid-19) to prevent its spread to other localities.

Late in the evening there were media reports quoting government official as saying that the order to seal the localities had been withdrawn, but a spokesperson for the chief minister told Dawn that the localities remained sealed, while the city’s commissioner told this paper that only the affected parts of the localities would be completely locked down.

Earlier, a notification issued by the deputy commissioner concerned said that the entire areas falling within the limits of UC-6 Gilani Railway, UC-7 Dalmia, UC-8 Jamali Colony, UC-9 Gulshan II, UC-10 Pehalwan Goth, UC-12 Gulzar-i-Hijri, UC-13 Safoora Goth, UC-14 Faisal Cantonment, UC-2 Manzoor Colony, UC-9 Jacob Line and UC-10 Jamshed Quarters have been sealed forthwith as “record confirmed reports of individuals infected with Covid-19 residing in these areas”.

This decision was taken under the Sindh Epidemic Diseases Act of 2014 and the DC-East believed that this step was in the “larger public interest and to prevent widespread outbreak of Covid-19”.

Earlier, an order issued by the DC-Malir said that 24 positive cases of Covid-19 were reported in Gulistan Society and Chiragh Colony of Ibrahim Hyderi sub-division in Malir district. “Therefore, it is hereby ordered that complete lockdown should be ensured in the abovementioned area in accordance with the SOP issued by home department.”

Health officials said the decision was taken after 19 members of a family living in Gulistan Society tested positive for Covid-19 and got admitted into an isolation ward of a government hospital in Gadap.

Health officials said the outbreak of the virus took place after the marriage ceremony of a girl who came from England. Soon after the marriage, the bride fell ill and tested positive for Covid-19 and subsequently her 18 other relatives were also infected with the virus.

A 70-year-old resident of the same Gulistan Society had already died of the virus. He was buried in an 80-acre graveyard reserved for the burial of coronavirus victims in Soomar Goth near Gulshan-i-Hadeed.

He said those residents who had gone to work or were not at home when the orders came were being allowed today to go to their respective residences.

This decision was taken for protection of the people, he said, asking the police and Rangers to ensure implementation of the decision.

The commissioner said that these UCs were sealed after the confirmation of more than 150 Covid-19 cases there and added that the tests of the residents would be conducted.

https://www.dawn.com/news/1548423/several-localities-in-karachis-district-east-sealed-to-stop-coronavirus-spread

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63 medics, 26 nurses isolated after Nishtar doctor confirmed for Covid-19

April 12, 2020

Asif Chaudhry

LAHORE: As many as 63 doctors and 26 nurses of five wards at the Nishtar Hospital Multan were isolated on Saturday after they were exposed to the coronavirus.

It is the highest number of medics of any government sector hospital who were quarantined after their swab samples were sent for diagnosis.

One of the major reasons for the sorry state of affairs was said to be shortage of personal protective equipment (PPE) for the medical staff.

The Nishtar Hospital is the most-visited government sector teaching institute in South Punjab which is playing a leading role in combating the virus followed by Shaikh Zayed Hospital Rahim Yar Khan.

Some medics blamed the management of the Nishtar Medical University (NMU) for not providing kits to the staff in the name of shortage of equipment.

They said NMU vice chancellor Prof Dr Mustafa Kamal Pasha after a meeting on Saturday asked all the affected medics for home isolation instead of keeping them at the institute.

Talking to Dawn, the VC said: “The institute has PPEs stocks that can be used for three days or so. We have also received funds worth Rs100 million from the Punjab government to procure PPEs and other equipment.”

Mr Pasha said the institute decided to quarantine all the 63 medics on the hospital’s premises instead of sending them to their homes. “For this purpose we have already spared two wards and are also allocating two more units.”

On the other hand, the situation got alarming when one of the house officers at the medical unit-II of ward 11 was tested positive for the virus.

With symptoms of flue and dry cough, he had been attending patients and working with senior medics of his unit besides other colleagues, an official source said.

As his report received, an emergency was declared and 25 of his colleagues including female doctors were identified for being in close contact with him during duty.

He added that almost the same situation was reported in the emergency ward, nephrology unit, and medical unit-II of ward 10 and the intensive care unit where a majority of the medics and other employees were exposed to the virus due to presence of a confirmed patient.

He said a 60-year-old patient visited the Multan Institute of Kidney Disease a week ago from where he was referred to the Nishtar Hospital.

The Corona Counter referred him to the emergency unit [Nishtar] where the doctors provided him with initial treatment and then referred him to the medical unit-II of ward 10 on the recommendations of the pulmonologists.

The patient was provided treatment for four days or so in the ICU. As his condition deteriorated, the duty doctors tried to save his life through Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR).

Till that time all the medics including other employees who remained in his contact were unaware that either the patient was confirmed case of Covid-19 or not.

Meanwhile, the third incident also exposed many other people when a confirmed patient of Covid-19 returned from abroad was not ‘properly handled.’

He had arrived from London in the mid of March and visited the Nishtar Hospital where he told at the Corona Counter his history and symptoms he was feeling.

The staff [at the counter] sent him back suggesting him to isolate himself at home instead of admitting him for investigation.

He spent a routine life, met family and friends and again visited the Shaikh Zayed Hospital Rahim Yar Khan when he complained of severity of symptoms.

His close relative doctor who was working as assistant professor at the Shaikh Zayed Hospital isolated him immediately and sent his swab samples for diagnosis.

The reports later confirmed him positive for the virus, the official said. Later, seven members of his family including his son, his sister-in-law, his brother’s two sons, a relative who was professor at a government university were tested positive for Covid-19.

A maid of the London-returned citizen was also tested positive for the coronavirus and the health teams quarantined some 11 contacts of the maid at the hospital in Multan to further investigate them for confirmation of the virus.

http://www.dawn.com/news/1548475/63-medics-26-nurses-isolated-after-nishtar-doctor-confirmed-for-covid-19?preview

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Pakistan virus cases cross 5,000 mark

Ikram Junaidi

April 12, 2020

ISLAMABAD: Amid the countrywide lockdown, the total number of confirmed coronavirus patients on Saturday surged past 5,000 across Pakistan with nearly half of the cases being reported from Punjab alone.

While disclosing that the government has been losing one-third of its revenue and exports had already dropped by 50pc due to Covid-19, Minister for Planning, Development and Special Initiatives Asad Umar told the media that the government would decide on Monday whether to extend the lockdown or ease restrictions after April 15.

“Moreover, fewer deaths have been reported as compared to different predictive models. Though there were fewer patients on the ventilators, for some weeks, but on Saturday that number reached 50,” he disclosed.

The minister told the media that Rs144 billion would be given to 12 million families under the Ehsaas Emergency Cash Programme (EECP). This was the biggest relief package in the country’s history, he announced.

Mr Umar said the prime minister would chair a meeting of the National Co­ordination Committee on Coronavirus on Monday. All chief ministers as well as the prime minister of Azad Jammu and Kashmir would attend the meeting to discuss the lockdown situation. The government would then decide whether to extend the lockdown or ease the restrictions after April 15, he added.

Dr Mirza told the presser that some segments of society believed they would not contract Covid-19 and they didn’t need precautionary measures. “It would be a huge blunder,” he said, advising the masses to take precautionary measures.

He said philanthropists along with the government were actively engaged in relief work. He said: “Serena Hotel and Habib Bank Limited have started a programme ‘Jazba-i-Khidmat’ under which lunch and dinner would be provided to staff of 20 hospitals in seven cities.”

The PM’s aide said that testing capability would be enhanced by the end of April. He said: “Earlier around 800 tests were being conducted daily but for the last few days we are conducting 2,500 to 3,000 tests a day. By the end of this month, we will hold up to 25,000 tests daily.”

About the distribution of personal protective equipment (PPE), Dr Mirza said that the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) had distributed 1.7 million face masks, 75,000 N-95 masks, 73,000 gowns, 650,000 gloves, 137,000 surgical caps and 10,000 face shields across the country.

“Moreover, as many as 14 polymerase chain reaction (PCR) machines have been purchased, with the result that the number of labs, which can conduct tests for Covid-19, have increased from 20 to 27. On Friday, we received 100,000 more testing kits and it has been decided to hand over 50,000 kits to Sindh and 25,000 kits to Balochistan,” he said.

Meanwhile, 11 union committees of Karachi’s district East were cordoned off by Rangers and police on Saturday “to prevent widespread outbreak of Covid-19” after a number of cases in the areas largely comprising defunct Gulshan-i-Iqbal Town were tested positive for the disease.

Commissioner Karachi Iftikhar Shallwani told Dawn late on Saturday night that a total of 154 cases of Covid-19 had been reported from the 11 sealed UCs.

Residents of other localities have also been advised not to visit the sealed neighbourhoods to avoid being infected with Covid-19.

According to an official of the Ministry of National Health Services, initially an emergency operation cell, headed by Dr Mirza, was established to deal with the virus outbreak.

Then an Emergency Core Group on Corona Virus, headed by Dr Mirza, was established which also had representation of provinces. When the situation aggravated, a meeting of the National Security Committee (NSC) on the Covid-19, chaired by the Prime Minister, was held,” he said.

“Later, National Coordination Committee (NCC) on Covid-19 was established. The NCC is mostly chaired by the premier and has representation of the provinces, Gilgit-Baltistan and AJK. Moreover, National Command and Operation Centre (NCOC) was established and its meetings are jointly chaired by Minister of Planning , Development and Special Initiatives Asad Umar and NCOC convener Lt Gen Hamood-uz-Zaman Khan,” he said.

https://www.dawn.com/news/1548527/pakistan-virus-cases-cross-5000-mark

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KP has more Covid-19 critical cases than any other province

April 12, 2020

Ashfaq Yusufzai

PESHAWAR: After recording the highest coronavirus case fatality rate in the country, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa has turned out to be home to more Covid-19 critical cases than any other province.

According to the World Health Organisation’s report issued on April 10, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa has 620 confirmed Covid-19 cases. Of them, 201 were admitted to health centres, while the condition of 181 is stable and that of 20 critical. The number of critical cases is higher than other provinces’.

The report shows that Punjab has recorded the most confirmed Covid-19 cases in the country i.e. 2,279. The province admitted 745 patients. Of them, the condition of 740 is stable and that of five critical. Eighteen people have so far died of the virus in the province.

Sindh has 1,128 active Coviod-19 cases. A total of 322 patients were admitted to health centres and 304 of them are in stable condition and 18 in critical. The coronavirus deaths reported in the province until now total 21.

Islamabad has recorded 107 confirmed virus cases. Eighteen of them were hospitalised. The condition of 17 is stable and that of one critical. Only one Islamabad resident has died of the virus.

Gilgit-Baltistan has registered 215 confirmed Covid-19 cases and 14 of them were admitted to hospitals. They all are in stable condition. The region has recorded three deaths.

The number of virus cases in Balochistan total 219. Of them, 70 were admitted to health centres with 69 being in stable condition and one in critical one. One death by the virus has been reported in the province.

In Azad Jammu and Kashmir, 33 residents have been diagnosed with Covid-19. Of them, 32 were admitted to hospitals. Only one of them is in critical condition. The virus has claimed no life in the region.

Until April 10, Pakistan recorded 4601 Covid-19 cases. Of them, 1,402 were admitted to health centres. A total of 1,357 are in stable condition and 45 in critical one. The deaths by virus total 66.

The countrywide case fatality rate (CFR) is 1.43 percent with the highest being reported in KP (3.5 percent) followed by Sindh (1.7pc), GB (1.3pc), Punjab (0.8pc) and Balochistan (0.5pc).

It is important to know about the age range of patient from different provinces as we know advanced age puts patients in bad prognostic category. Also, the co-morbidities or the associated diseases like high blood pressure, heart, lungs and chest diseases makes Covid-19 patients prone to more complications.

The doctors told Dawn that the problem of more serious patients as well as CFR could be attributed to the Medical Teaching Institutions Reforms Act, 2015, enforced in the province’s teaching hospitals, which catered to the bulk of Covid-19 patients.

They said under the mechanism, the hospitals were being run by fourexecutives and hordes of managers at a time, which was also not helpful for patient care.

The doctors said there was a need for a central authority to supervise the situation in every hospital to do away with different hierarchy structure in which the staff reported to different administrators in the same hospitals.

https://www.dawn.com/news/1548507/kp-has-more-covid-19-critical-cases-than-any-other-province

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4,000 Pakistanis stranded abroad to be brought back by 19th

Aamir YasinUpdated

April 12, 2020

RAWALPINDI: Minister for Aviation Ghulam Sarwar Khan on Saturday said the government would bring back 4,000 Pakistanis stranded across the world following Covid-19outbreak through special flights.

He said special flights will be operated from April 11 to April 19 to bring back the stranded Pakistanis, adding that 2,000 had returned whounderwent free of cost tests and were lodged in quarantine centres for 14 days.

“The provincial governments of Punjab, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Sindh have been asked to complete arrangements to quarantine the returning Pakistanis just like the federal government had done at Islamabad International Airport,” the minister told media.

Mr Khan said airports in Karachi, Lahore and Peshawar would be opened after completing the arrangements for the special flights. He said the provincial governments had started establishing quarantines near their airports.

He said the decision on Haj was pending. There are 20,000 Pakistanis in the United Arab Emirates while still many Pakistanis are in Iran and Saudi Arabia who will also be brought back.

Minister says Punjab, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Sindh have been asked to open airports for special flights, set up quarantine centres

Accompanied by members of Provincial Assembly Haji Amjad and Wasiq Qayyum, the minister said the Rawalpindi administration was working to control dengue and coronavirus. He said a proper plan would be chalked out to minimise problems of citizens by ensuring government subsidy reached the common man.

“Ehsas programme will be fully functional from Monday,” he said. Counters for distributing cash among deserving families would be established at two to three places in every union council.

He said the government was going to open the construction industry from April 14 after which work on development projects would start.

Six more patients tested positive in Rawalpindi on Saturday taking the tally to 109. One patient was discharged after recovering from the virus.

During the last two weeks, 124 confirmed patients reported at the Rawalpindi Institute of Urology (RIU) and other hospitals. Among them, 11 recovered and four died.

The local administrations has also kept 719 people in quarantines in three districts - Rawalpindi 455, Attock 19 and Jhelum 245. Besides, 458 people have been isolated in their houses - 412 in Rawalpindi, 10 in Attock and 36 in Jhelum.

A senior official of the divisional administration said 71 suspected patients were admitted in Rawalpindi, 17 in Jhelum and three in Chakwal.

He said samples of 527 Tableeghi Jamaat members had also been sent to National Institute of Health (NIH) out of whom 247 tested negative, 49 positive while reports of 87 were awaited.

Meanwhile, in-charge Coronavirus Monitoring Programme for Rawalpindi Division and Punjab Minister for Literacy and Informal Education Raja Rashid Hafeez said the government could provide treatment to over 50,000 patients of coronavirus.

He stated this during a meeting held at the deputy commissioner office to review arrangements for the provision of health facilities.

Deputy Commissioner retired Capt Anwarul Haq, MNA Sheikh Rashid Shafiq, MPAs Chaudhry Adnan, Litasab Satti, Ejaz Khan Jazi, Chaudhry Javed Kausar, Farah Agha, Nasreen Tariq, Abida Bibi and senior officials attended.

The DC said distribution of rations and cash among the deserving people was underway. “Cash is being distributed at 29 centres in Rawalpindi.”

He said 18,564 families had been provided Rs12,000 each. The Rawalpindi district has the facility of quarantining 255 people.

https://www.dawn.com/news/1548491/4000-pakistanis-stranded-abroad-to-be-brought-back-by-19th

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Sindh governor hints at relaxing lockdown after 14th

April 12, 2020

Tahir Siddiqui

KARACHI: While Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah on Saturday felt the need for a stricter lockdown in the province to prevent a surge in coronavirus cases, Governor Imran Ismail hinted at relaxing the restrictions after the three-week period would be over on April 14.

“We are not against the lockdown and we have supported it, but in the prevailing circumstances any extension in such types of restrictions seems not possible,” the governor told reporters during a visit to the head office of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan’s Khidmat-i-Khalq Foundation in Federal B Area.

He said that there were several areas in Karachi where many people lived in one small room during the coronavirus pandemic. He said there were people who lined up to avail rations and also there were those white-collar workers who were not ready to take handouts in order to keep their dignity intact.

“It is, therefore, necessary to ease lockdown restrictions after April 14 to save the people from its [negative] effects,” he said, adding that a strategy must be formed to reopen industries and markets.

Talking about the relief efforts made by the MQM’s charity wing, he said that he came here to encourage the MQM workers and KKF volunteers.

Speaking on the occasion, MQM-P convener Dr Khalid Maqbool Siddiqui thanked the governor for his visit to the KKF head office.

He informed him of the party’s relief efforts and claimed that the MQM had so far provided rations to 100,000 households in Karachi and Hyderabad.

Earlier in his video statement released on a daily basis to update the people about the coronavirus situation, the CM said that 104 new coronavirus cases, or 20 per cent of the 531 tests, were detected in the province in one day and it was the highest average in the world.

“This is quite worrisome situation and its solution lies in social distancing,” he said, adding: “A stricter lockdown is our need.”

He said that the surge in coronavirus cases now required figuring out how we would lead our lives onward. “To me, only solution is lockdown and now a few days are left to the present lockdown and we all have to observe it in true letter and spirit.”

He said even in the post-lockdown period people would have to ensure social distancing at their workplaces and at home and even in public transport.

Mr Shah said that the cases increased in the province as the ongoing lockdown was taken lightly. “I have ordered the authorities concerned to further tighten the lockdown in Malir and other areas where more cases have been diagnosed. This is very serious matter and we would have to take it seriously.”

He said that six patients died till Thursday morning and the number of dead so far reached 28. “The death ratio comes to 2.1 per cent,” he said.

According to the chief minister, 922 patients, including 604 in home isolation and 35 at isolation centres, were under treatment in different hospitals.

The CM said that 371 persons had recovered. “Thirteen patients recovered and returned to their homes on Saturday. This is good news,” he said.

Giving frequency of positive cases, the chief minister said that 64 people affected are between one and 10 years of age; 104 between 11 and 20; 270 between 21 and 30; 227 between 31 and 40; 182 between 41 and 50; 197 between 51 and 60, 135 between 61 and 70, 41 between 71 and 80 and five were between 81 and 90 years of age. “This shows that it has affected more the age group between 21 and 60 years,” he said.

https://www.dawn.com/news/1548421/sindh-governor-hints-at-relaxing-lockdown-after-14th

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One year on, three posts of vice presidents remain vacant in IIUI

Kashif Abbasi

April 12, 2020

ISLAMABAD: Despite its board of governors’ (BoG) decision made in May last year, International Islamic University Islamabad (IIUI) has failed to fill the posts of three vice presidents through a competitive process.

The IIUI has been facing financial and administrative issues for the last one year. It has three positions of VPs, which are being looked after by officials who were appointed by the university without any competitive process a few years ago.

However, last year the BoG directed the university to fill two posts of the VPs through a competitive process and seek services of a competent officer from the federal government for the third one.

So far, the university has failed to advertise the positions and get services of a competent officer on deputation from the federal government.

The sources said some elements in the university were deliberately using delaying tactics in complying with the BoG directive.

The sources said in 2013 Islamabad High Court while hearing a case regarding appointment of the vice president administration, finance and planning had directed the university to fill the post through a competitive process.

The sources said some elements in the university were also using delaying tactics to start a probe against some faculty members whose research papers were either plagarised or below standards. They said following a report, which had alleged massive plagiarism and below standard research papers of some of the faculty members who got promotion and important positions on the basis of these research papers, Professor Khursheed Ahmed, member of the Board of Trustee of IIUI, wrote a letter to the president of Pakistan seeking the probe.

The president wrote a letter to IIUI authorities to probe the matter and fix responsibility. The sources said committees were constituted to linger the matter. However, when the matter was brought into the notice of BoG, it ordered a probe and recently an independent committee of external educationists was formed.

The sources said the committee was yet to hold its first meeting as some officers of the IIUI, holding important positions, were reluctant to cooperate with the committee.

“Soon the position of VPs will be advertised,” he said and added that the process was delayed because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Talking about the probe against the faculty members, who allegedly had plagarised or substandard research papers, he said: “The university has zero tolerance policy against plagiarism. A committee of independent educationists has been formed which will soon start its proceedings,” he said.

https://www.dawn.com/news/1548489/one-year-on-three-posts-of-vice-presidents-remain-vacant-in-iiui

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