New Age Islam
Sat Oct 24 2020, 01:48 AM

Islamic World News ( 27 Sept 2019, NewAgeIslam.Com)

Nahdlatul Ulama Movement Leader Meets Pope Francis, Calls for Islam That Sees No ‘Infidels’ More Peaceful Future and Greater Human Fraternity







Malaysian PM: Enmity towards Muslims, Islam Stems from Israel’s Creation

India Responds To Khan's UN Speech: Indian Citizens Do Not Need Anyone to Speak On Their Behalf

'World Should Stand As One against Terrorism': PM Modi Tells World Leaders at UNGA

Archaeologists Speculated About Temple beneath Babri: Muslim Parties

Islamophobia Creating Division, Hijab Seen As Weapon: Pakistan PM Imran Khan at UNGA

Sinhalese Nationalists Used the Easter Attacks to "Justify Actions That Harassed and Humiliated the Muslim Community", Now Risks Sri Lanka Peace

Saudi Arabia Moving To Execute Dozens of Dissidents As Crackdown Intensifies

Muslims Most Affected By Hate Speech, Says Erdogan

Hundreds of 'Abused' Captives Freed From Nigeria Islamic School

Why This Concern for Indian Muslims When You’re Not Worried about Those in China, US Asks Pakistan

 

Europe

Nahdlatul Ulama Movement Leader Meets Pope Francis, Calls for Islam That Sees No ‘Infidels’ More Peaceful Future and Greater Human Fraternity

French bank accused of enabling Sudan war crimes

Spain charges 7 Catalan separatists with ‘terrorist organization’ membership

UNC defends Middle East studies program against charges of bias toward Islam

Maltese, Turkish unite for historical Turkish cemetery

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Southeast Asia

Malaysian PM: Enmity towards Muslims, Islam Stems from Israel’s Creation

If Sunnis defend Shias, politicians will champion Shias, says academic

Ummah calls for peace after Adib inquest findings, but still wants AG sacked

China slams Trump ‘lies’ on Hong Kong, treatment of Muslims

Malaysian Police Detain 12 Indonesians for Alleged Involvement With Islamic State

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India

India Responds To Khan's UN Speech: Indian Citizens Do Not Need Anyone to Speak On Their Behalf

'World Should Stand As One against Terrorism': PM Modi Tells World Leaders at UNGA

Archaeologists Speculated About Temple beneath Babri: Muslim Parties

Agra Muslims demand Hafiz Saeed's extradition to India

India: Can Pakistan confirm that it is home to 130 UN-designated terrorists?

A silence that spoke volumes: PM does not mention Pakistan, Kashmir in UN speech

PM Narendra Modi, Iran’s Rouhani discuss Chabahar operationalisation, regional situation

Babri demolition case: Immunity gone, charges framed against Kalyan Singh

Waseem Rizvi Gets A Blow: High Court Rejects Anticipatory Bail

Ayodhya case: Muslim parties apologise in SC for questioning 2003 ASI report

Indian-American Groups to Protest Against Modi Outside UN Headquarters in New York

Interfaith Group Gathers To Stand With Kashmir

India, Pakistan among 7 nations with state actors active online for propaganda: Study

India at UNGA: Imran Khan’s nuke remark ‘brinkmanship, not statesmanship’

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Pakistan

Islamophobia Creating Division, Hijab Seen As Weapon: Pakistan PM Imran Khan at UNGA

Mujahideens, Funded By US to Fight Soviets, Are Now Attacking Pak: Imran Khan

More Worried About India than Pakistan Right Now, Says Imran Khan

Social media lauds PM Imran for championing Kashmir cause at UNGA

Bill Gates hails PM Imran's leadership for Pakistan’s anti-poverty strategy

Imran's maiden UNGA speech exceeds time limit

Imran wades into Indian history, politics as he takes aim at ‘Hindu supremacist RSS’

To target RSS, Imran Khan quotes Congress at UNGA

To combat Islamophobia, Khan bridges East and West

Pak is blot on humanity, virus for entire world: Baloch activist

Pro-Kashmir rallies held across Balochistan

In meeting with UN chief, PM Imran highlights world body's responsibility to help resolve Kashmir

Cross-border terrorist incidents reducing, says army chief

Opposition can jolt PTI govt but they won’t for the sake of democracy: Chandio

Pakistan to host next SAARC summit, says Qureshi

NA body wants Mufti Muneeb sacked over irresponsible Yazid remarks

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South Asia

Sinhalese Nationalists Used the Easter Attacks to "Justify Actions That Harassed and Humiliated the Muslim Community", Now Risks Sri Lanka Peace

Airstrikes kill 48 Taliban militants in 5 provinces

Two Rohingya killed in gun battle with Bangladesh border guards

Taliban worries loom as Afghanistan prepares to vote for a president

Bangladesh seeks accountability for Rohingya atrocities

Bangladesh: March in solidarity with Kashmir

Special Forces kill, detain 8 Taliban and ISIS militant; destroy caches of weapons in 4 provinces

Taliban and Fraud are the only two enemies of democracy: Nabil

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Arab World

Saudi Arabia Moving To Execute Dozens of Dissidents As Crackdown Intensifies

Saudi Judiciary Preserves Human Rights, Says Minister

Idlib: US, NATO Weapons Found in Terrorists' Underground Base

Saudi Arabia pledges $50 mln to UN Palestinian refugee agency

Saudi Arabia presents $500m to UN for its agencies in Yemen

As tensions boil in the Persian Gulf, Iraq seeks to rein in Iran-aligned militias

SDF, coalition crack down on Islamic State remnants in Syria

Amal Clooney addresses diplomats at the United Nations over plans to put 20,000 ISIS fighters on trial in Iraq

Egypt Calls for Holding Erdogan Accountable over Terrorism, Targeting of Kurds

Egyptian authorities warn they will ‘deal firmly with those who break the law’

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Mideast

Muslims Most Affected By Hate Speech, Says Erdogan

As the White House Holds Back on Israeli-Palestinian Peace, Concerned Senators Step In

Israeli Ambassador Danon: Don’t be fooled by Iran – Evil regime embraces terrorism, bloodshed and blackmail

EU warns Iran it could be forced to withdraw from nuclear deal

Israeli minister urges unity government to stave off ‘blow-up’ in Iran tensions

British-flagged tanker Stena Impero reaches international waters

EU threatens to withdraw from JCPOA

Europeans admit they didn’t know who attacked Saudi oil refineries: Rouhani

Iran blasts 'economic terrorism' after US sanctions Russia, China

Yemen's Houthis, Saudi-backed militiamen exchange prisoners

Israeli forces kill Palestinian, injure 63 others in Gaza

Leave Yemen or face crippling attacks on your country: Ansarallah to UAE

Turkey to continue trade with Iran despite US threats: Erdogan

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Africa

Hundreds of 'Abused' Captives Freed From Nigeria Islamic School

Tunisia’s Ennahda Says May Govern Alone or ‘Partner with Revolution Forces’

Sudan Closes Borders with Libya, Central African Republic

US Strike Kills 17 Suspected Militants in Southern Libya

Airstrikes hit Boko Haram militants, destroy camp in NE Nigeria

US kills 17 suspected ISIS extremists in Libya strike

Rwanda welcomes first group of African refugees from Libya

US airstrike in southern Libya kills 17 people

Somali rights advocate nominated for Nobel Peace Prize

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North America

Why This Concern for Indian Muslims When You’re Not Worried about Those in China, US Asks Pakistan

US Urges Action on China’s Uyghur Camps from Muslim World

Teatime for Peace brings Muslim experiences into community dialogue

US-Backed Forces in Syria Defy Trump on Islamic State Fighters

Despite $380M in US aid for religious minorities persecuted by ISIS, 1 million from Nineveh Plains remain displaced

Trump says US will not lift sanctions on Iran

White House restricted access to Trump's calls with Putin and Saudi crown prince: CNN

US officials ‘knew Saudi Arabia would fail in Yemen’

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau

URL: http://www.newageislam.com/islamic-world-news/new-age-islam-news-bureau/nahdlatul-ulama-movement-leader-meets-pope-francis,-calls-for-islam-that-sees-no-‘infidels’-more-peaceful-future-and-greater-human-fraternity/d/119862

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Nahdlatul Ulama Movement Leader Meets Pope Francis, Calls for Islam That Sees No ‘Infidels’ More Peaceful Future and Greater Human Fraternity

By Courtney Grogan

September 28, 2019

Vatican City, Sep 27, 2019 / 01:03 pm (CNA).- The leader of the largest independent Muslim organization in the world met Pope Francis this week to present his vision for a more peaceful future and greater human fraternity.

Sheikh Yahya Cholil Staquf leads the 50 million member Nahdlatul Ulama movement, which calls for a reformed “humanitarian Islam” and has developed a theological framework for Islam that rejects the concepts of caliphate, Sharia law, and “kafir” (infidels).

The Indonesian Sunni leader told CNA that he was “thrilled and excited” when Pope Francis and the Grand Imam of al-Azhar Ahmed el-Tayeb signed in February the Abu Dhabi declaration on “Human Fraternity for World Peace and Living Together,” because it expresses the vision of  “compassionate Islam” his organization has advocated for for decades.

The sheikh has specific recommendations for concrete steps to achieve the pope’s aspirations of peace and human fraternity. He came to Rome to share them with the pope.

Staquf said that Abu Dhabi declaration requires “decisive follow-up” with actions, not just words.

Just weeks after the Abu Dhabi declaration, Nahdlatul Ulama hosted a conference in Indonesia with over 20,000 Muslim scholars in attendance. At this conference, Muslim clerics and scholars issued an “ijtihad” stating their theological reasoning for prohibting the term “kafir” meaning “infidel” to describe one’s fellow citizens.

“We cannot just pretend that there are no problems in Islamic views. There are problems there. You need to acknowledge that so that we can work for the solution. If you do not acknowledge the problem, you cannot resolve it,” Staquf told CNA.

"In Muslim-majority societies, you can see more attitudes of discrimination and persecution toward minorities ... so the Islamic world needs to develop the whole religious system that will integrate the Islamic world harmoniously with the rest of the world,” he said.

Central to these proposed changes to Islamic theology is how Muslims are called to interact with non-Muslims, Staquf explained.

"We need for Muslims to view others as a fellow human being, fellow brothers in humanity. We should not attack on the basis of different identities,” he said.

Staquf met Pope Francis after the general audience on Sept. 25. He presented the pope with a letter and several documents from Nahdlatul Ulama, containing recommendations as to how Muslims scholars have sought to address “problematic elements within Islamic orthodoxy” to create a more harmonious world order with “respect for equal rights and dignity of every human being.”

“When you think about global harmony, global security, global stability, we see four centers of concern related to Islamic orthodoxy,” Staquf said.

Within the documents presented to the pope, NU lays out “a practical road map” to achieve the aspirations expressed in pope’s Document on Human Fraternity: “prohibiting use of the term kafir (infidel) to describe one’s fellow citizens; affirming the legitimacy of the nation state and laws created through modern political processes; committing Muslims to strive for peace as a religious obligation; and providing a detailed framework for bringing Islamic orthodoxy into alignment with 21st century norms.”

“My hope is that these documents will be examined seriously by the Vatican so that the Vatican can make decisions to engage with us and work together with this,” Staquf said.

The Muslim leader also brought a delegation of Indonesian Catholics and young Muslims practicing “humanitarian Islam” with him to Rome to attend the general audience with the pope. Together they asked Pope Francis to visit Indonesia to continue his interreligious dialogue.

Indonesia is a Muslim-majority country historically known for its ethnic diversity and peaceful religious pluralism, which has seen an increase in religious-based violence and radical groups in recent years.

“They explained to the pope that we stand for the harmony of Indonesia, so that when we [Nahdlatul Ulama Muslims] see threats toward our fellow Indonesian Christians, we protect them,” Staquf said.

“I mentioned to His Holiness that we believe Humanitarian Islam is in alignment with noble values of Christian humanism ... It was received very well,” he said.

Archbishop Agustinus Agus of Pontianak, who accompanied Staquf on the trip, facilitated the Sunni sheikh’s meetings with the pope and members of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue.

Archbishop Agus told CNA that when Sheikh Staquf expressed that he wanted to come to the Vatican to give the pope Nahdlatul Ulama’s response to the Abu Dhabi declaration, he knew it was “the right time … for one of the great leaders of the Muslims to meet the pope.”

“I feel that I have a responsibility for the future of Indonesia,” Agus said.

Staquf stressed that the persecution of Christians in Muslim-majority countries around the world must end. He said that when looking at the rise of the Islamic State and other radical groups, one cannot ignore the theological underpinnings that allow their radicalism and violence to spread.

“Let's look at why these problematic views can spread effectively everywhere in the Islamic world in these Muslims communities because it is supported by … what is considered to be authoritative elements of the orthodoxy. So we need to change that so that people cannot use that elements to make troubles, to make problems,” he said.

“We have a network of hundreds of thousands of clerics and Muslim scholars in Indonesia. So we all know what is in the teachings of Islam,” he said. “We know that there are some elements that do not encourage harmony and even can be potential obstacles to harmony.”

One of the areas Nahdlatul Ulama is working to reform is religious education for Muslim youth. They are constructing a curriculum for teaching Islamic history that places less of an emphasis on the violence of the past, and more on spirituality.

“We want to create materials for education which contains more about the character of the prophet, the compassionate character of the prophet, rather than these records of conflicts and wars,” Staquf said.

“We use a creed for this movement, the global movement of humanitarian Islam. Our creed is: 'We choose rahma' ... 'We choose compassion," he said.

https://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/muslim-leader-meets-pope-francis-calls-for-islam-that-sees-no-infidels-11722

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Malaysian PM: Enmity towards Muslims, Islam Stems from Israel’s Creation

September 28, 2019

NEW YORK: Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad said Malaysia cannot accept the blatant seizure of Palestine land by Israel for their settlements as well as the occupation of Jerusalem by Israel.

He highlighted the dire situation of the Palestinians who cannot even enter the settlements built on their land.

Malaysia, he said, accepted the state of Israel as a fait accompli but underscored that because of the creation of Israel, there is now enmity towards the Muslims and Islam.

“Muslims are accused of terrorism even if they did nothing. Muslim countries have been destabilised through the campaign for democracy and regime change. Muslims everywhere have been oppressed, expelled from their countries and refused asylum,” he said.

Addressing the 74th Session of the United Nations General Assembly here on Friday, Mahathir said one cannot deny that in the past there was no massive migration but now the wars and instability due to regime change have forced them to run away from their countries.

He said that the result of overnight switch to democracy was destabilisation and civil wars, reducing some countries into government-less wilderness while others reverted to authoritarian regimes worse than the one that was displaced.

Unable to suffer from wars and violence, their people had to migrate, he said.

“The great democrats talk incessantly about the rule of law. But they are selective. Friends may break any law and get away scot-free.

“Thus, Israel can break all the international laws and norms of the world and it will continue to be supported and defended. The unfriendly countries can do nothing right. There is no justice in the world,” he said.

He said the creation of Israel by seizing Palestinian land and expelling its 90% Arab population had led to wars being fought in many countries, many precisely related to the formation of Israel.

“And now we have terrorism when there was none before or at least none on the present scale. Military action against acts of terrorism will not succeed. We need to identify the cause and remove it.

“But the great powers refuse to deal with the root cause. They prefer military action and sanctions. And they will continue to fail to stop terrorism.” .

On the plight of the Rohingyas in Myanmar, the prime minister said that the helplessness of the world in stopping atrocities inflicted on the ethnic community had reduced the regard for the resolution of the UN.

As a result, he said, they were forced to migrate and now they dare not return to Myanmar even when offered as they cannot trust the Myanmar military unless some form of non-Myanmar protection is given.

Turning his attention to Jammu and Kashmir, Mahathir said that now, despite a UN resolution, the country has been invaded and occupied.

“There may be reasons for this action but it is still wrong,” he said, stressing that the problem must be solved by peaceful means.

He called on India to work with Pakistan to resolve this issue, cautioning that ignoring the UN would lead to other forms of disregard for the UN and the rule of law.

https://www.freemalaysiatoday.com/category/nation/2019/09/28/enmity-towards-muslims-islam-stems-from-israels-creation-says-dr-m/

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India Responds To Khan's UN Speech: Indian Citizens Do Not Need Anyone to Speak On Their Behalf

Sep 28, 2019

UNITED NATIONS: Strongly hitting back at Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan's rant at the UN General Assembly, India has said its citizens do not need anyone else to speak on their behalf and "least of all those who have built an industry of terrorism from the ideology of hate."

Khan delivered his maiden speech at the 74th UN General Debate on Friday and in his almost 50-minute address, devoted half of his time to India and Kashmir, drumming up hysteria over nuclear war.

India exercised its right of reply to the statement made by Khan later on Friday and fielded its newest diplomat at its mission at the UN to fend off the allegations made by former Pakistan cricket captain.

"Every word spoken from the podium of this august Assembly, it is believed, carries the weight of history. Unfortunately, what we heard today from Prime Minister Imran Khan of Pakistan was a callous portrayal of the world in binary terms. Us vs Them; Rich vs Poor; North vs South; Developed Vs Developing; Muslims vs Others. A script that fosters divisiveness at the United Nations. Attempts to sharpen differences and stir up hatred, are simply put - 'hate speech'," First Secretary in India's Permanent Mission to the UN Vidisha Maitra said.

Maitra said that rarely has the General Assembly witnessed such "misuse, rather abuse", of an opportunity to reflect.

"Words matter in diplomacy. Invocation of phrases such as "pogrom", "bloodbath", "racial superiority", "pick up the gun" and "fight to the end" reflect a medieval mindset and not a 21st century vision."

"Pogroms, Prime Minister Imran Khan Niazi, are not a phenomenon of today's vibrant democracies," she said.

"We would request you to refresh your rather sketchy understanding of history. Do not forget the gruesome genocide perpetrated by Pakistan against its own people in 1971 and the role played by Lt. Gen A A K Niazi. A sordid fact that the Hon'ble Prime Minister of Bangladesh reminded this Assembly about earlier this afternoon."

Maitra said Khan's "threat of unleashing nuclear devastation qualifies as brinksmanship, not statesmanship."

"Even coming from the leader of a country that has monopolised the entire value chain of the industry of terrorism, Prime Minister Khan's justification of terrorism was brazen and incendiary," she said.

"Citizens of India do not need anyone else to speak on their behalf, least of all those who have built an industry of terrorism from the ideology of hate," she said.

Maitra added that after having "mainstreamed terrorism and hate speech," Pakistan is trying to play its wild card as the new found champion of human rights.

In his address, Khan had invited UN Observers to Pakistan to verify that there are no militant organisations in Pakistan.

Maitra said the world will hold him to that promise. She said a few questions that Pakistan can respond to as a precursor to the proposed verification, is that would Khan “deny to the city of New York that he was an open defender of Osama bin Laden?

"Can Pakistan confirm the fact that it is home to 130 UN designated terrorists and 25 terrorist entities listed by the UN, as of today?

"Will Pakistan acknowledge that it is the only Government in the world that provides pension to an individual listed by the UN in the Al Qaeda and Da'esh Sanctions list!

"Can Pakistan explain why here in New York, its premier bank, the Habib Bank had to shut shop after it was fined millions of dollars over terror financing?

"Will Pakistan deny that the Financial Action Task Force has put the country on notice for its violations of more than 20 of the 27 key parameters?

Khan, who was one a cricket player, and "believed in the gentleman's game, today gave a speech that was "bordered on crudeness of the variety that is reminiscent of the guns of Darra Adam Khel.

She said Pakistan is a country that has shrunk the size of its minority community from 23 per cent in 1947 to 3 per cent today and has subjected Christians, Sikhs, Ahmadiyas, Hindus, Shias, Pashtuns, Sindhis and Balochis to draconian blasphemy laws, systemic persecution, blatant abuse and forced conversions.

"Their newfound fascination for preaching human rights is akin to trophy hunting of the endangered mountain goat - markhor," she said.

Pakistan's virulent reaction to the removal of an outdated and temporary provision that was hindering development and integration of the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir stems from the fact that those who thrive on conflict never welcome the ray of peace, Maitra said.

Asserting that while Pakistan has ventured to upstream terrorism and downstream hate speech there, India is going ahead with mainstreaming development in Jammu and Kashmir.

"The mainstreaming of Jammu & Kashmir, as well as Ladakh, in India's thriving and vibrant democracy with a millennia-old heritage of diversity, pluralism and tolerance is well and truly underway. Irreversibly so," she said.

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/india-responds-to-khans-un-speech-indian-citizens-do-not-need-anyone-to-speak-on-their-behalf/articleshow/71345473.cms

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'World Should Stand As One against Terrorism': PM Modi Tells World Leaders at UNGA

27 SEPTEMBER 2019

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday exhorted the international community to stand united against terrorism, which he described as one of the biggest challenges not for any single country, but for the entire world.

Addressing the 74th session of the UN General Assembly, Modi lamented on the lack of unanimity amongst the member states on the issue of terrorism, saying it dents those very principles, that are the basis for the creation of the United Nations.

"We believe, that this is one of the biggest challenges, not for any single country, but for the entire world and humanity," Modi said while speaking in Hindi. This was his second address to the General Debate at the UN, five years after his maiden speech as Indian Prime Minister in 2014.

India had proposed a draft document in 1996 on the 'Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism' (CCIT) at the General Assembly but it remained a blueprint as the member states were unable to reach a consensus. The CCIT intends to criminalise all forms of terrorism and deny terrorists, their financiers and supporters access to funds, arms and safe havens.

"The lack of unanimity amongst us on the issue of terrorism dents those very principles, that are the basis for the creation of the UN," Prime Minister Modi rued.

Noting that India is a country, that has given the world, not war, but Buddha's message of peace, Modi said, "And that is the reason why, our voice against terrorism, to alert the world about this evil, rings with seriousness and the outrage."

"And that is why, for the sake of humanity, I firmly believe, that it is absolutely imperative, that the world unites against terrorism, and that the world stands as one against terrorism," he asserted.

Prime Minister Modi said the largest number of supreme sacrifices made by soldiers of any country for UN peacekeeping missions is from India.

At least 160 Indian peacekeepers have paid the ultimate price while serving with the United Nations.

https://www.outlookindia.com/website/story/india-news-world-should-stand-as-one-against-terrorism-pm-modi-tells-world-leaders-at-unga/339541

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Archaeologists Speculated About Temple beneath Babri: Muslim Parties

Sep 28, 2019

NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Friday made plain its disagreement with Muslim parties’ dismissal of the Archaeological Survey of India’s excavation report indicating a “massive Hindu structure” resembling north Indian temples beneath the Babri Masjid in Ayodhya as a piece of speculation completely devoid of evidential value.

Countering the Hindu parties’ reliance on the ASI report to bolster their claim for construction of a temple on the 2.77 acre disputed Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid land, the counsel for Muslim parties, senior advocate Meenakshi Arora said, “Archaeology is a science based on speculation. Opinion of archaeologists on given excavated data could be at variance with other archaeologists as was recorded in the Allahabad High Court’s judgment.”

Arguing before a bench of CJI Ranjan Gogoi and Justices S A Bobde, D Y Chandrachud, Ashok Bhushan and S Abdul Nazeer, she said, “Archaeologists’ opinion is akin to opinion of a handwriting expert and cannot be regarded as an expert opinion under Section 45 of Indian Evidence Act.” When Justice Bobde asked where she got the analogy of archaeologist and handwriting expert, she said it was her inference.

However, Justice Nazeer said the ASI report could be similar to a report by a court ordered inquiry commission. “The HC ordered an inquiry (into whether a temple existed beneath the disputed structure). The ASI carried out an inquiry and gave a report. So, it is more of an inquiry report. You (Muslim parties) cannot say it is a mere opinion by experts. It is much more weightier than an expert opinion. You submitted your objections to the report which were considered by the HC before rendering a finding,” he said.

The Allahabad HC, while appreciating the ASI report, had dealt with the Muslim parties’ objections to the report. It had said, “It normally happens when an expert body tenders an opinion, the party who finds such opinion adverse to its interest feels otherwise and tries to rid such opinion by taking recourse to all such measures as permissible but in the present case, we hoped a better response, particularly when the expert body involved is a pioneer and premier archaeological body of this country having international repute.

“We are satisfied that the ASI report not only deserves to be accepted but it really helps this court in forming its opinion on an important issue in this regard. All the objections against the ASI, therefore, are rejected.”

After Arora concluded her arguments, senior advocate Shekhar Naphade appeared for Muslim parties and said the suits filed by Hindu parties — Gopal Singh Visharad in 1950, Nirmohi Akhara in 1959 and one on behalf of the deity in 1989 — were not maintainable as the ownership claim over any part of the Babri Masjid was rejected concurrently by the sub-judge, district judge and the appellate authority in 1885-86.

Naphade referred to the 1885 suit filed by Mahant Raghubar Das, claiming to be the priest at Ram Chabutra and who sought to build a temple at the Chabutra in the outer courtyard of the mosque on the ground of providing shelter to devotees from the sun, rain and winter chill.

He said since the courts had concurrently rejected the claim of Mahant, who filed the suit as a representative of the Hindu community, for possession and ownership of the Chabutra, the 1885-86 judicial orders would serve as ‘res judicata’ (matter already judged) for Hindu parties to prevent them from filing fresh suits expanding their ownership rights over the entire mosque. Justice Chandrachud asked, “Now, there is a suit on behalf of the deity. If the 1885 suit was filed in the capacity as ‘sevait’ of the deity, then possibly the argument of ‘res judicata’ will apply, not otherwise.”

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/archaeologists-speculated-about-temple-beneath-babri-muslim-parties/articleshow/71344070.cms

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Islamophobia creating division, hijab seen as weapon: Pakistan PM Imran Khan at UNGA

September 27, 2019

Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan, while speaking at the 74th session of United Nations General (UNGA) in New York on Friday, said that Islamophobia created a division.

"There are 1.3 billion Muslims in this world. Millions of Muslims are living in the US and European countries as minorities. Islamophobia, since 9/11 has grown at an alarming pace. Human communities are supposed to live together with understanding among each other but Islamophobia is creating a division," Pakistan PM Imran Khan said.

"Muslim women wearing hijabs has become an issue in some countries as if a hijab is some kind of weapon. This is happening because of Islamophobia," Imran Khan said.

"Imran Khan said that after 9/11 attack, Islamophobia grew at an arming rate. Why did it start? Because certain western leaders equated terrorism with Islam, calling it Islamic terrorism and radical Islam. What is radical Islam? There is only one Islam," Imran Khan said.

Imran Khan asked how does one distinguish between a moderate Muslim and radical Muslim saying further that terrorism has no religion.

"This Islamic radicalism has been the main reason behind Islamophobia. This has caused pain to Muslims," Imran Khan said.

Imran Khan said that marginalisation of Muslims in European countries is leading to radicalisation making people end up as militants in Syria and other nations.

"No religion preaches radicalism. The basis of all religions is compassion and justice," Imran Khan said.

"Imran Khan said that before 9/11 majority of suicide attacks in the world were carried out by Tamil Tigers who were Hindus. No one blamed Hinduism. And it's quite right. What has Hinduism got to do with what desperate people were doing in Sri Lanka?" Imran Khan said.

Imran Khan added that there is a misunderstanding in the West regarding Islam which is causing Islamophobia in the world.

https://www.indiatoday.in/world/story/pakistan-imran-khan-unga-islamophobia-west-suicide-attack-muslim-1604016-2019-09-27

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Sinhalese Nationalists Used the Easter Attacks to "Justify Actions That Harassed and Humiliated the Muslim Community", Now Risks Sri Lanka Peace

September 28, 2019

A "harsh and dangerous" crackdown on Sri Lankan Muslims following deadly bombings on Easter Sunday poses a major threat to the Indian Ocean nation's peace and security, a think-tank has warned.

The assailants behind the church and hotel bombings in April were fringe actors, but politicians and Sinhalese nationalists have used the attacks to "justify actions that have harassed and humiliated the broader Muslim community", the International Crisis Group (ICG) said in a new report on Friday.

The attacks, which killed more than 250 people, were claimed by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL or ISIS). But Sri Lankan police said members of an offshoot of a local Muslim group, National Thowheed Jamath, were responsible.

It was the deadliest single day of violence in the country, which is still recovering from a bloody civil war with ethnic Tamil separatists, and the first experience of Muslim-on-Christian mass violence, the report said.

Since then, more than 1,800 Muslims were arrested under emergency laws and nearly 300 remain in custody, it said. Muslims account for 10 percent of Sri Lanka's Sinhalese Buddhist-dominated population.

Families of those arrested told the ICG that many of those imprisoned had no connections to the attacks, but had been reported to the authorities out of fear and bigotry.

"Sinhalese Buddhist nationalists have waged a campaign of violence and hate, including economic boycotts, vigilante attacks on women wearing hijabs and media smear campaigns," the report said.

"Two days of devastating riots targeting Muslim businesses and mosques in mid-May raised fears of an island-wide pogrom," it warned. One Muslim was killed in the riots and scores of Muslim homes and Muslim-owned businesses were destroyed.

Anti-Muslim campaign

The violence was not a spontaneous retaliation for the Easter attacks, the report said, but a continuation of a years-long anti-Muslim campaign.

The attacks followed the same script as previous anti-Muslim riots, such as those in central Kandy last year, with Sinhalese nationalist groups bussing in supporters and security forces "failing to maintain order and in some cases appearing to assist rioters", it added.

Sinhalese nationalist politicians and commentators also seized the moment to "inject new energy into long-standing efforts to undermine the status and prosperity of the Muslim community".

Gotabaya Rajapaksa, opposition presidential candidate and brother of former President Mahinda Rajapaksa, has made security a key focus of his campaign. Polls are expected later this year.

Some senior monks have also engaged in violent rhetoric against Muslims. In June, Ven Warakagoda Sri Gnanarathana Thera, one of Sri Lanka's two senior-most Buddhist monks, supported the call for the boycott of Muslim-owned businesses and repeated unfounded rumours that a Muslim doctor has sterilised Buddhist women.

All the while, Sri Lanka's weak and divided leadership "has either stood idly by or egged on the abuse", the report said.

Despite the heavy pressure on the Muslim community, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe's UNP-led government has said and done little to reassure the minority, the ICG said, partly because it fears losing Sinhala voters to the opposition.

"The Easter bombers succeeded thanks principally to the failures of the state, not the Muslim community," the ICG said, noting foreign intelligence services had alerted Sri Lankan security agencies to such a threat weeks before the attacks.

"If Sri Lanka's leaders want to avoid future attacks, they should focus their attention on repairing the state's broken security apparatus and stop alienating law-abiding Muslim citizens."

https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2019/09/dangerous-actions-muslims-risk-sri-lanka-peace-190927110659004.html

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Saudi Arabia moving to execute dozens of dissidents as crackdown intensifies

Sep 27, 2019

Saudi authorities are going to execute dozens of imprisoned political dissidents from the country’s oil-rich and Shia-populated Eastern Province, amid a crackdown led by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman against pro-democracy campaigners, Muslim preachers and intellectuals in the ultra-conservative kingdom.

London-based and Arabic-language Nabaa television news network, citing social media activists, reported that 39 Qatif residents are facing death penalty at various levels of litigation.

The report added that five detainees are already on the death row, while nine others have been sentenced to death. Another 26 inmates are facing  death penalty at a request from the Public Prosecution.

Eastern Province has been the scene of peaceful demonstrations since February 2011. Protesters have been demanding reforms, freedom of expression, the release of political prisoners, and an end to economic and religious discrimination against the oil-rich region.

The protests have been met with a heavy-handed crackdown by the regime, with regime forces increasing security measures across the province.

Back in mid-July, informed sources, requesting anonymity, said that a young Saudi man had died more than a week after being injured by regime forces when they raided a district in the province.

Majid Abdullah al-Adam died ten days after regime forces, armed with heavy weapons and artillery launchers, stormed into the al-Jash district of Qatif onboard armored vehicles.

The sources added that the forces fired indiscriminately, inflicting damage on many houses and buildings. Adam suffered critical injuries during the raid.

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

In January 2016, Saudi authorities executed Shia cleric Sheikh Nimr Baqir al-Nimr, who was an outspoken critic of the Riyadh regime. Nimr had been arrested in Qatif, Eastern Province, in 2012.

https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2019/09/27/607261/Saudi-Arabia-execution-beheading-dissidents-shias-eastern-province-ckdown-intensifies

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Muslims most affected by hate speech, says Erdogan

Servet Gunerigok, Dilara Hamit  

25.09.2019

WASHINGTON

Muslims are most subjected to hate speech, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Wednesday.

Erdogan was speaking at an event co-hosted by Turkey and Pakistan on encountering hate speech at the UN headquarters.

"Today, Muslims are the most subjected to hate speech, cultural racism, discrimination and insults. Muslims' workplaces, homes, worshipping places are targeted by racist and fascist groups almost every day," said the president.

He said Muslim women are harassed for wearing headscarves on the streets and workplaces.

"As a country, which has 6.5 million citizens abroad who are impacted by hate speech and attacks, we cannot overlook this issue," he added.

Erdogan remarked that hate speech is normalized by populist politicians and media and cannot be considered within freedom of opinion.

He also denounced violence against Muslims in India who eat beef and urged respect for freedom of faith.

"In India, how will we defend Muslim youth who are being whipped, beaten by machetes and even sentenced to death just for eating beef," Erdogan said.

Cows are considered sacred in the Hindu religion and there has been a rise in attacks on Muslim cattle owners by Hindu nationalists, with several self-styled cow protection groups emerging.

Turning to the situation in Kashmir, he said it has turned into an open-air prison and its residents have become prisoners.

"Important duties fall on all [foreign] state institutions," said Erdogan, and urged more active steps on regional and international levels.   

He called on international institutions, technology companies, education institutions, media, and non-governmental organizations to act to resolve the row.

"Turkey is resolved to defend the rights of Muslims living in Jammu and Kashmir and make their entry and exit free," said Erdogan.

The president also criticized India's foreign minister and the country's envoys in Turkey for expressing discomfort over Ankara's approach to the Kashmir issue.

"I mean, will we determine our policy in any country by asking or taking permission from the leaders in those countries?" said Erdogan.

Since 1954, Jammu and Kashmir had enjoyed a special status under the Indian constitution which allowed it to enact its own laws until Indian government’s move on Aug.

5 to scrap the special status of the disputed region. The provisions had also protected the region's citizenship law, which barred outsiders from settling in and owning land in the territory.

India and Pakistan hold Kashmir in parts and claim it in full. China also controls part of the contested region, but it is India and Pakistan who have fought two wars over Kashmir,

Reacting to attacks on Islam, the president said linking Islam, a religion of peace, with terror is an immoral slander. It is unacceptable, he said.

"We will continue to pioneer all efforts to actively fight against Islamophobia, racism and hate speech," he added.

Also addressing the event, Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan called for effective measures to counter hate speech and Islamophobia.

According to a statement by his office in Islamabad, Khan underscored the growing incidences of discrimination and violence based on religion and belief.

He said both the motives and consequences of them should be addressed to over the issue.

"All the Muslim leaders need to put more efforts to explain why attempts to denigrate revered Muslim personalities, especially Prophet Muhammad, cause pain and offense to billions of Muslims," Khan said.

Khan rejected attempts to equate Islam with terrorism, as well, stressing that such self-serving approaches were dangerous and therefore should be avoided.

He also called for promoting greater understanding and tolerance among the communities across the world.

*Dilara Hamit in Ankara, Islamuddin Sajid in Islamabad contributed to this story

https://www.aa.com.tr/en/74th-un-general-assembly-2019/muslims-most-affected-by-hate-speech-says-erdogan/1594152

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Hundreds of 'abused' captives freed from Nigeria Islamic school

Sep 27, 2019

Police in the northern Nigerian city of Kaduna have rescued more than 300 male students from an Islamic school where many had been tortured and sexually abused, a police spokesman said Friday.

Officers raided a building in the Rigasa area city on Thursday where the victims including adults and minors were kept in "the most debasing and inhuman conditions in the name of teaching them the Koran and reforming them", Kaduna state police spokesman Yakubu Sabo told AFP.

"We found around 100 students including children as young as nine, in chains stuffed in a small room, all in the name of reforming them and making them responsible persons," Mr Sabo said.

The school which has been operating for a decade, enrolled students brought by their families to learn the Quran and be rehabilitated from drug abuse and other illnesses, police said.

The proprietor of the school and six staff were arrested during the raid.

Many of the rescued students bore scars on their backs and serious injuries, police said.

"The victims were abused. Some of them said they were sodomised by their teachers," Mr Sabo stated.

Police had been tipped off by complaints from local residents who became suspicious of what was happening inside the school.

During the raid on the school, police said they found a "torture chamber" where students were chained, hung and beaten.

One inmate quoted by Nigerian media described horrific conditions and treatment at the facility.

"I have spent three months here with chains on my legs," Bello Hamza said, adding that he was meant to be in South Africa studying for his Masters degree.

"This is supposed to be an Islamic centre, but trying to run away from here attracts severe punishment; they tie people and hang them to the ceiling for that."

Pictures published in several newspapers showed an alleged victim with scars on his back and another chained up by his foot to a metal railing.

Television footage showed emaciated children being loaded into minivans and driven away for processing.

Mr Sabo said the victims were of varying nationalities and that "two of them said during interrogation they were brought by their parents from Burkina Faso".

The identities of the rescued victims were being documented to determine where they came from and to contact their families.

Parents of some of the victims from within the city, contacted by police were "shocked and horrified" when they saw the condition of their children, as they had no idea what was happening inside the school.

Parents were allowed to visit their children every three months, but only in select areas of the premises.

"They were not allowed into the house to see what was happening... the children are only brought to them outside to meet them," Mr Sabo said.

"All they thought was their children are being taught the Quran and good manners as they looked subdued," he added.

One of the the men allegedly running the facility insisted to local television channels that the centre was simply teaching Islamic studies and that those chained up were "the stubborn ones who attempt to run away".

Private Islamic schools are common in mainly Muslim northern Nigeria, where government services are often lacking.

https://www.thenational.ae/world/africa/hundreds-of-abused-captives-freed-from-nigeria-islamic-school-1.916017

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Why this concern for Indian Muslims when you’re not worried about those in China, US asks Pakistan

Sep 28, 2019

WASHINGTON: Nudging New Delhi to take “rapid action” to restore normalcy in Kashmir, the US on Thursday suggested the onus on resumption of talks between India and Pakistan rested on Islamabad acting on terrorism and dialing down its overheated rhetoric. Washington also implicitly rebuked Pakistan for its phony anxiety over treatment of Muslims in India, wondering why there was not as much concern about the fate of Muslims in China.

During a special briefing here, Alice Wells, the State Department’s point person for the region, noted that after India revoked J&K’s special status on August 5, PM Modi had laid out a plan of returning Kashmir to normalcy, as well engagement with a new generation of political leaders. “I think we are interested in knowing the next steps in engagement and encouraging that political dialogue to begin... we hope to see rapid action in the lifting of the restrictions and in the release of those who have been detained,” she said.

The smackdown of Pakistan’s double standards came when Wells was asked about Pakistan’s over-the-top anxiety on the situation in Kashmir. Wells said US concern about the human rights of Muslims extends “more broadly than just Kashmir” and it has been trying to shine a light on the “horrific conditions that continue to exist for Muslims throughout China.

”I would like to see the same level of concern expressed also about Muslims who are being detained in Western China, literally in concentration-like conditions,” Wells said when asked about Imran Khan’s cataclysmic remarks on Kashmir. The Pakistan PM has been making a big to-do in New York on the sidelines of the annual UN meet over not just the situation in Kashmir, but also the fate of Muslims all across India, invoking scenarios of massacres, genocide, and nuclear war in the subcontinent almost as if he wishes it.

He also pledged to fight Islamophobia after a meeting on “Countering hate speech,” announcing that Pakistan, Malaysia, and Turkey would start an English television channel to confront prejudice against Islam. But in other public meets, Khan has shirked from discussing China’s treatment of Muslims, which includes incarceration and “retraining” to scrub Islamic values, pleading that he has too many other things on his plate and Islamabad prefers to engage Beijing in private on such matters. Still, Wells said Washington would like to see India and Pakistan have a constructive conversation leading to better relations, although that would depend on Pakistan cracking down on terrorism.

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/why-this-concern-for-indian-muslims-when-youre-not-worried-about-those-in-china-us-asks-pakistan/articleshow/71343752.cms

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Europe

 

French bank accused of enabling Sudan war crimes

Yusuf Ozcan  

27.09.2019

PARIS

The International Federation of Human Rights (FIDH) and Project Expedite Justice on Thursday accused French bank BNP Paribas of complicity in crimes against humanity, torture and genocide during the conflict in Sudan’s Darfur region.

According to a report published in the Le Monde newspaper, the institutions filed a complaint against the bank at a Paris court for allegedly giving Sudanese authorities access to global money markets between 2002 and 2008 despite Sudan being subjected to sanctions.

The International Criminal Court (ICC) has issued a warrant for the arrest of former President Omar al-Bashir on the grounds of genocide linked to the Darfur conflict.

A similar charge has been filed and an investigation has been initiated into BNP Paribas.

The Paris prosecutor’s office launched an investigation in September 2017 to determine whether BNP Paribas played a role in the Rwandan genocide.

The bank is accused of involvement in financing illegal weapons supply to genocide perpetrators in Rwanda.

Through the bank’s alleged financing, it was claimed that despite a United Nations embargo, 80 tons of weapons were provided to those who committed genocide.

Al-Bashir, who ruled Sudan since 1989, was ousted by the military in April this year after months of protests against his 30-year rule.

https://www.aa.com.tr/en/europe/french-bank-accused-of-enabling-sudan-war-crimes/1595503

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Spain charges 7 Catalan separatists with ‘terrorist organization’ membership

SEPTEMBER 27, 2019

Seven Catalan separatists arrested on suspicion of planning violent attacks have been charged with belonging to a “terrorist organization” and remanded in custody, Spanish judicial authorities said on Thursday, September 26.

The seven were among nine people detained on Monday on accusations they were planning attacks with possible explosives. The other two were released.

A judge in Madrid ruled that there was evidence suggesting the seven were members of an organization intending to achieve Catalan independence “by any means including violence,” a court statement said.

No details of the accused were given.

The suspects were being held on charges of “rebellion, terrorism and possession of explosives” for an attack planned for the coming weeks which could have caused “irreparable damage,” the prosecution said on Monday.

The seven suspects have also been charged with making and possessing explosives.

Police searched the region and particularly the city of Sabadell, 25 km (15 miles) north of Barcelona, and found “equipment and substances considered to be used for the manufacture of explosives,” Spain’s Guardia Civil said.

Spain’s High Court had ordered the arrests to shed light on “alleged criminal activities” planned by the separatist group, the Committees for the Defence of the Republic.

The arrests come just weeks before the second anniversary of the banned Catalan independence referendum which triggered one of Spain’s biggest political crises.

Several hundred people demonstrated outside the Catalan parliament in Barcelona and then the city’s police headquarters shouting “freedom for political prisoners.”

The parliament earlier Thursday approved a resolution calling for the “withdrawal from Catalan territory of the civil guard police,” described as a “type of political police.”

A verdict is due next month in the trial of 12 separatist leaders for their roles in the attempted secession in 2017.

Full report at:

https://thedefensepost.com/2019/09/27/spain-catalan-separatists-terrorism-charges/

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UNC defends Middle East studies program against charges of bias toward Islam

By Laura Meckler

September 27, 2019

The University of North Carolina is defending its federally funded Middle East studies program after the Education Department accused the school of advancing an ideological agenda.

In a letter to the Duke-UNC Consortium for Middle East Studies, the department charged that the program promotes a positive view of Islam while virtually ignoring other religions. Its investigation was sparked by a complaint from a member of Congress who found a conference sponsored by the consortium to be biased against Israel.

The Education Department ordered the university to revise its offerings or risk losing its $235,000 federal grant under the Title VI program. In its response, the university did not offer to change its programs but said it would enhance oversight of the consortium and better record how spending matches the law’s requirements.

Government threatens funding for Middle East studies program it sees as too favorable to Islam

The Education Department’s action came under fire from academics and others who charged that the department was politicizing the grant program and violating principles of academic freedom. But its move was in line with conservative critics who have long accused universities of harboring anti-Semitic bias.

On Friday, the American Civil Liberties Union wrote Education Secretary Betsy DeVos to defend the consortium and to argue that the law does not allow the department to require that grantees “espouse its favored viewpoint or further this administration’s anti-Muslim agenda.”

The ACLU letter also expressed concern that the investigation could affect other institutions that receive Title VI funding.

“They are now on notice that, to continue their relationship with the federal government, they must espouse a particular viewpoint regarding Israel to the satisfaction of the government and must tread lightly when it comes to any curricular content that could somehow be perceived as portraying Islam and Muslims in a positive light,” wrote Ronald Newman, national political director of the ACLU, and Karen Anderson, executive director of the ACLU of North Carolina.

A spokeswoman for the Education Department declined to say whether other universities are under investigation for misuse of Title VI grants.

Title VI grants are meant to fund programs that train students in foreign languages and international affairs to advance U.S. national security and economic interests. Together with a sister program, the government spends about $72 million per year to support about 100 national resource centers on world affairs and languages, among other things.

In his letter to university officials, Robert King, assistant secretary at the Education Department, said the program was sponsoring activities that are perhaps consistent with “general principles of academic freedom” but are “plainly unqualified for taxpayer support.”

In a formal response sent last week, the vice chancellor for research at UNC, Terry Magnuson, defended the consortium as offering a range of programming. He said programs on Iranian art and film, which the department singled out as inconsistent with the law, are part of a broader study of language, which is a core part of the federal grant.

He also wrote that the consortium had offered programming on positive aspects of many religions, not just Islam. He pointed to a visit to a Jewish center to explore Jewish traditions, presentations on Christianity in Lebanon and presentations on religious diversity throughout the Middle East.

He also said that two programs that were singled out for criticism were not funded with federal dollars.

But Magnuson also said that the consortium would “re-examine its procedures to ensure that its Title VI-funded activities continue to match the purposes and requirements” of the program. He said the sponsors would establish an advisory board to oversee activities and create clear records showing how each expenditure relates to the purposes and requirements of the program.

Full report at:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/education/unc-defends-middle-east-studies-program-against-charges-of-bias-toward-islam/2019/09/27/c8b7e4e2-e13b-11e9-8dc8-498eabc129a0_story.html

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Maltese, Turkish unite for historical Turkish cemetery

Baris Seckin  

27.09.2019

ROME

Maltese and Turkish people united for the protection of a historical Turkish cemetery in Malta.

The entrepreneur group wanted to open a gas station in 2016 next to the cemetery in the Marsa district of the capital Valletta, and the plan was rejected with the initiative of the Turkish Embassy in Malta.

The group instead decided to open a three-story industry workshop with carpentries and repair-shops in the same location, according to Turkish diplomatic sources.

Not only the Turks but also the islanders have attempted many times to preserve the Turkish Military Cemetery, also called the "Ottoman Taj Mahal", said the source on condition of anonymity due to restrictions on speaking to media.

"It is a fascinating and unique Neo-Ottoman architectural work in Malta and the product of a fascinating relationship between the patron Sultan Abdul Aziz Khan and the Maltese architect Emmanuele Luigi Galizia," said Conrad Thake, a history researcher and author of the book The Ottoman Muslim Cemetery in Malta.

"The proposed development of a three storey high services garage facility will totally obliterate vistas of the Ottoman cemetery and its distinctive silhouette of different forms. Besides that the proposed use of a service garage industry is totally incompatible," he added.

There have been several objections and representations from all quarters," said Thake, adding that he was the first to register his strong objections.

"Others followed from different sources, the Embassy of Turkey in Malta, various NGOs in the heritage conservation sector such as Din L-Art Helwa and many individuals with a passion for local architectural heritage," he said.

Thake expressed his confidence that his thesis will be accepted and such an initiative would not be allowed in the first-level protected area, adding: "I would certainly expect Planning Authority to refuse such an application without hesitation".

The appeal period for the construction of the industrial complex expires on Sept. 23, while the Maltese Planning Authority is expected to make its decision on applications and objections by Nov. 30.

- Turkish Military Cemetery

In 1874, a cemetery was built for the Turkish martyrs along with the great sailor Turgut Reis in Malta, which was besieged by the Ottoman forces in 1565.

Galizia, one of the renown architects of Malta at the time, was in charge of the construction of the cemetery.

The center of attention with its architecture, the cemetery includes graves of 22 Turks who were taken captive to Malta by the British in various fronts during World War I and died in the siege.

Full report at:

https://www.aa.com.tr/en/europe/maltese-turkish-unite-for-historical-turkish-cemetery/1595989

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Southeast Asia

 

If Sunnis defend Shias, politicians will champion Shias, says academic

Nicholas Chung

September 28, 2019

KUALA LUMPUR: An academic has urged Sunni Muslim Malaysians to speak up against the persecution of Shia Muslims in the country, saying this will be able to end the crackdown by the authorities against the Muslim minority.

“Our politicians are just looking for votes. If Malay Sunnis were to rise up and reject the persecution of Shias, tomorrow Umno and Pakatan will fight for Shias.

“Then that will solve the problem,” said sociologist Syed Farid Alatas.

Last month, religious authorities in Selangor and Johor had carried out raids on private Shia events and detained several foreign nationals.

The situation is made worse when Sunnis refuse to trace and embrace similarities between the two branches of Islam, Syed Farid said when speaking at a forum on the future of the ummah at the International Institute of Islamic Thought and Civilisation (Istac) here today.

He said there is an inability and lack of a conscious decision by Sunnis to understand their Muslim counterparts, adding that negative perceptions of Shias is mostly political and results from ignorance.

He said it is difficult to free the community from these perceptions that have been sown by religious leaders and politicians who are against the Shia as these influential figures, who he described as “stupid, evil and arrogant”, are still highly respected.

Prior to this, Syed Farid had told FMT that some religious leaders who knew about Shia had malicious intentions and wanted to use the issue as a political tool.

“To fight for the rights of the Malays, they think they have to champion Islam.

“In their context, championing Islam is championing the Sunnah. So to champion the Sunnah, they have to reject Shia,” he said in an interview on Sept 22.

Shia, with a substantial following in Iraq, Iran, Kuwait, Bahrain, Lebanon, several parts of Saudi Arabia, Yemen and Pakistan, is the second-largest branch of Islam.

But state Islamic authorities have declared its teachings as “deviant”, with sermons in Selangor frequently condemning its followers as heretics.

Syed Farid called for a review of the existing fatwa against Shia Muslims, describing the recent raids by Islamic authorities as “barbaric”.

“Are they terrorists? Are they asking to overthrow the Malaysian government? Are they supporting violence?

“No. They’re just practising Islam in some ways that are slightly different than us. Do we want to become such an extremist country?” he asked, highlighting that none of the Muslims detained in Malaysia for links to terrorism were Shia.

https://www.freemalaysiatoday.com/category/nation/2019/09/28/if-sunnis-defend-shias-politicians-will-champion-shias-says-academic/

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Ummah calls for peace after Adib inquest findings, but still wants AG sacked

27 September 2019

BY IDA LIM

SHAH ALAM, Sept 27 — Muslim group Ummah today urged Malaysians to stay calm after today’s inquest finding on firefighter Muhammad Adib Mohd Kassim’s death last December, saying it trusted in the courts to deliver justice

However, the group was adamant that Tan Sri Tommy Thomas be removed as the attorney general (AG).

Ummah chairman Aminuddin Yahaya said the group was very happy about the “very positive results” by the coroner which he said was based on concrete evidence.

“It proves that the truth, justice prevail. That’s all we want,” he said when met outside the court complex after the inquest findings were delivered.

Aminuddin, who is also president of Muslim group Isma, said Ummah wants those responsible for Adib’s death — which the coroner concluded was due to injuries suffered during a riot — to be charged.

“Our demand is, based on the judgment, the IGP and AG have to prosecute the criminal, whoever responsible they have to prosecute. That’s the instructions by the judge and the IGP and AG have to take that mandate to prosecute and get all those criminals,” he said, referring to the inspector-general of police and the attorney general.

“We just demand justice, hopefully by having these criminals caught. We hope justice will remain and prevail, we believe in the court system if there’s no interference from any political parties, we believe in them, based on today’s judgment, I think we believe them,” he said.

“Yes, we believe in the court system, we call people don’t make any trouble, let the judge and the lawyers do their work, we believe in them, the justice system except for the AG,” he said when asked if Ummah was calling for peace.

Aminuddin claimed Thomas had erred by calling for the inquest to be held and insisted that he should be removed from office.

“We want if possible, the Yang di-Pertuan Agong terminate his service. That’s what our demand is because it’s proven that our AG is not competent,” he claimed.

Aminuddin said Ummah believed that the inquest should not have been initiated in the first place to determine Adib’s cause of death, claiming that the authorities should have proceeded to start prosecutions or carry out further investigations if required. “If the AG finds that the investigating is insufficient, they should ask police to extend the investigation rather than put aside investigation and do the inquest. To me, this is a waste of time but as law-abiding citizens, we have to follow,” he said.

Aminuddin, who said Ummah comprised 300 groups, claimed that 500 from the coalition had turned up today. It was not immediately apparent if there were as many as claimed.

Coroner Rofiah Mohamad delivered her findings at 10am here, concluding that Adib’s death was caused by two or more unknown individuals.

The inquest was held for 41 days during the February 11 to July 24 period where 30 witnesses and 137 exhibits were examined.

An inquest is usually held when the cause of death is unknown, as was the situation in Adib’s case where conflicting claims or theories regarding his death had been put forward.

Adib, 24, died at the National Heart Institute on December 17, 2018, after succumbing to serious injuries.

Full report at:

https://www.malaymail.com/news/malaysia/2019/09/27/ummah-calls-for-peace-after-adib-inquest-findings-but-still-wants-ag-sacked/1794820

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China slams Trump ‘lies’ on Hong Kong, treatment of Muslims

September 25, 2019

BEIJING: Beijing accused Donald Trump of making “untrue remarks” over Hong Kong and Chinese trade commitments on Wednesday, hitting back after the US president ramped up pressure on China at the United Nations.

Beijing is facing international criticism on a number of fronts, as months of pro-democracy unrest in the semi-autonomous city of Hong Kong come alongside economic tensions with the US and international scrutiny of its policy towards Muslim minorities in Xinjiang.

Foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang slammed “the untrue remarks mentioned by the US side in his speech” after Trump criticised the fellow Security Council member in a strident speech Tuesday saying it must “protect Hong Kong’s freedom and legal system and democratic ways of life”.

The US president also declared that the time of Beijing’s “abuses” of the system was “over”.

But Geng said the “US should meet China at halfway” and called for the two countries to “handle and control their differences on the basis of mutual respect”.

Geng also criticised a US State Department event to highlight the plight of ethnic Uighurs in China’s northwestern Xinjiang region, where human rights organisations say a million or more mainly Muslim minorities are being interned.

“I want to emphasise here that the issue of Xinjiang is not a religious or a human rights issue, but an anti-secession and anti-terrorism issue,” he said.

“Xinjiang continues to maintain prosperity and stability, national unity and social harmony … All malicious slander and smearing from the US and other countries are in vain.”

The conference was held on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly to garner support “to demand and compel an immediate end to China’s horrific campaign of repression,” John Sullivan, the US’s second-highest diplomat, said.

The demonstrations in Hong Kong have triggered the Asian financial hub’s biggest political crisis since its handover from Britain to China in 1997.

Full report at:

https://www.freemalaysiatoday.com/category/world/2019/09/25/china-slams-trump-lies-on-hong-kong-treatment-of-muslims/

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Malaysian Police Detain 12 Indonesians for Alleged Involvement With Islamic State

By Diana Mariska & Telly Nathalia

September 27, 2019

Jakarta. The Foreign Affairs Ministry has confirmed that Royal Malaysia Police's counter-terrorism unit has detained 12 Indonesians with alleged connections to the Islamic State.

"Royal Malaysia Police have issued a press statement on the arrest of 12 Indonesian citizens in Malaysia for allegedly being involved in terrorist activities," said Yudha Nugraha, the director of citizen protection and legal aid at the foreign ministry.

Their arrests were made between July 10 and Sept. 25 in several locations in Sabah, Selangor, Sarawak, Penang, Pahang and Kuala Lumpur. Three Malaysians and an Indian national were also arrested.

According to the press statement, signed by the head of the counter-terrorism unit Ayob Khan Mydin Pitchay, a 25-year-old Indonesian was arrested on July 10. Eleven other Indonesians including a woman, aged 22 to 36, were captured between Sept.14 and 25.

The 25-year-old Indonesian, who was arrested in Sabah on July 10, has been working in Malaysia since early 2018 as a worker at an oil palm plantation. Malaysian police said he had taken the oath of allegiance to Abubakar al Bagdadi, the leader of IS, on a Telegram chat room.

He was arrested after assisting an Indonesian couple and their three children to go to Jolo in the Southern Philippines, where they committed suicide bombing in a church in December 2018.

"The suspect was also giving money to the Maute militant group in the Southern Philippines and had a plan to wage jihad in Syria," the statement said.

According to Malaysian police, eleven other Indonesians have established a new IS cell in Malaysia which they have been promoting through social media.

"They have been actively recruiting new members from Indonesia and Malaysia... and were plotting attacks in both countries, where their number is growing," the statement said.

Embassy Help

The Indonesian Embassy in Kuala Lumpur has not received any notification from the Malaysian government regarding the arrest of the 12 Indonesians, Yudha said.

Full report at:

https://jakartaglobe.id/context/malaysian-police-detain-12-indonesians-for-alleged-involvement-with-islamic-state

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India

 

Agra Muslims demand Hafiz Saeed's extradition to India

Siraj Qureshi

September 18, 2019

Muslims in Agra have demanded Mumbai attack mastermind Hafiz Saeed's extradition to India. They have raised their voice for Saeed to be tried in an Indian prison for the atrocities he has committed.

Following the Friday Namaz in the Sadar Bhatti area of Agra, Muslim social activists, and community leaders gathered and demanded that Hafiz Saeed’s access to his bank accounts be blocked.

They said that by allowing him to access his bank accounts despite being in prison, Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan has proved that his sympathies are with Saeed, no matter what the world thinks of him.

They said that it is clear that Saeed is being provided with all possible amenities in the Pakistani prison. They demanded that the international community pressurise Pakistan to shift Saeed to a prison out of the country.

Hindustani Biradari secretary Ziauddin said, "If Imran Khan has such sympathy towards Saeed, he should start giving pension to his family from the government exchequer."

Ziauddin also appealed to Prime Minister Narendra Modi that he demand's Saeed's extradition to India where he can be tried.

The community said that India should submit a written demand to the UN Security Council demanding censure on Pakistan for allowing Saeed access to his bank accounts when he is being tried for terror funding under UNSC resolution no. 1267.

Biradari vice-chairman Vishal Sharma said, "Prime Minister Modi has the perfect opportunity to expose the complicity of the Pakistani establishment with the terrorists by giving the example of Saeed’s continued access to his bank accounts in his address at the UN General Assembly. He may also place a demand for Saeed’s extradition to India as he has been found to be the mastermind behind several terror attacks in India and is facing terror charges here."

https://www.indiatoday.in/india/story/agra-muslims-hafiz-saeed-1604104-2019-09-28

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India: Can Pakistan confirm that it is home to 130 UN-designated terrorists?

Sep 28, 2019

UNITED NATIONS: Strongly hitting back at Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan's rant at the UN General Assembly, India has said its citizens do not need anyone else to speak on their behalf and "least of all those who have built an industry of terrorism from the ideology of hate."

Khan delivered his maiden speech at the 74th UN General Debate on Friday and in his almost 50-minute address, devoted half of his time to India and Kashmir, drumming up hysteria over nuclear war.

Imran Khan's rant — yet again raising the nuclear bogey — is evidence of his mounting frustration over his failure to persuade the rest of the world to intervene in another nation's internal affairs.

India exercised its right of reply to the statement made by Khan later on Friday and fielded its newest diplomat at its mission at the UN to fend off the allegations made by former Pakistan cricket captain.

"Every word spoken from the podium of this august Assembly, it is believed, carries the weight of history. Unfortunately, what we heard today from Prime Minister Imran Khan of Pakistan was a callous portrayal of the world in binary terms. Us vs Them; Rich vs Poor; North vs South; Developed Vs Developing; Muslims vs Others. A script that fosters divisiveness at the United Nations. Attempts to sharpen differences and stir up hatred, are simply put - 'hate speech'," first secretary in India's Permanent Mission to the UN Vidisha Maitra said.

Read also: India's reply to Imran's UNGA speech — Full text+

Maitra said that rarely has the General Assembly witnessed such "misuse, rather abuse", of an opportunity to reflect.

"Words matter in diplomacy. Invocation of phrases such as "pogrom", "bloodbath", "racial superiority", "pick up the gun" and "fight to the end" reflect a medieval mindset and not a 21st century vision."

"Pogroms, Prime Minister Imran Khan Niazi, are not a phenomenon of today's vibrant democracies," she said.

"We would request you to refresh your rather sketchy understanding of history. Do not forget the gruesome genocide perpetrated by Pakistan against its own people in 1971 and the role played by Lt. Gen A A K Niazi. A sordid fact that the Hon'ble Prime Minister of Bangladesh reminded this Assembly about earlier this afternoon."

Maitra said Khan's "threat of unleashing nuclear devastation qualifies as brinksmanship, not statesmanship."

"Even coming from the leader of a country that has monopolised the entire value chain of the industry of terrorism, Prime Minister Khan's justification of terrorism was brazen and incendiary," she said.

"Citizens of India do not need anyone else to speak on their behalf, least of all those who have built an industry of terrorism from the ideology of hate," she said.

Maitra added that after having "mainstreamed terrorism and hate speech," Pakistan is trying to play its wild card as the new found champion of human rights.

In his address, Khan had invited UN Observers to Pakistan to verify that there are no militant organisations in Pakistan.

Maitra said the world will hold him to that promise. She said a few questions that Pakistan can respond to as a precursor to the proposed verification, is that would Khan “deny to the city of New York that he was an open defender of Osama bin Laden?

"Can Pakistan confirm the fact that it is home to 130 UN designated terrorists and 25 terrorist entities listed by the UN, as of today?

"Will Pakistan acknowledge that it is the only Government in the world that provides pension to an individual listed by the UN in the Al Qaeda and Da'esh Sanctions list!

"Can Pakistan explain why here in New York, its premier bank, the Habib Bank had to shut shop after it was fined millions of dollars over terror financing?

"Will Pakistan deny that the Financial Action Task Force has put the country on notice for its violations of more than 20 of the 27 key parameters?

Khan, who was one a cricket player, and "believed in the gentleman's game, today gave a speech that was "bordered on crudeness of the variety that is reminiscent of the guns of Darra Adam Khel.

She said Pakistan is a country that has shrunk the size of its minority community from 23 per cent in 1947 to 3 per cent today and has subjected Christians, Sikhs, Ahmadiyas, Hindus, Shias, Pashtuns, Sindhis and Balochis to draconian blasphemy laws, systemic persecution, blatant abuse and forced conversions.

"Their newfound fascination for preaching human rights is akin to trophy hunting of the endangered mountain goat - markhor," she said.

Pakistan's virulent reaction to the removal of an outdated and temporary provision that was hindering development and integration of the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir stems from the fact that those who thrive on conflict never welcome the ray of peace, Maitra said.

Asserting that while Pakistan has ventured to upstream terrorism and downstream hate speech there, India is going ahead with mainstreaming development in Jammu and Kashmir.

Full report at:

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/india-can-pakistan-confirm-that-it-is-home-to-130-un-designated-terrorists/articleshow/71345039.cms

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A silence that spoke volumes: PM does not mention Pakistan, Kashmir in UN speech

Sep 27, 2019

NEW YORK: Asserting that India gave the world “Buddha not Yudha” (peace not war), Prime Minister Narendra Modi told the United Nations that for the “sake of humanity ... it is absolutely imperative that the world unites against terrorism, and stands as one against terrorism.”

In a short address before the UN General Assembly, Prime Minister Modi did not once refer to Pakistan while making a broad appeal+ to fight the “evil” of terrorism. “We believe that this is one of the biggest challenges, not for any single country, but for the entire world and humanity,” Modi told world leaders and UN delegates.

The Indian Prime Minister's address dealt largely with broader issues like climate change, renewable energy, poverty alleviation and India’s progress and lessons learned in this regard which it wanted to channel to other countries.

“The very core of our approach is public welfare through public participation and this public welfare is not just for India but for the entire world,” Modi said.

But the Indian Prime Minister’s efforts to rise above the quagmire in the subcontinent found little understanding from his Pakistani counterpart Imran Khan, who launched a ferocious and frequently personal attack against Modi to resounding cheers from some delegates.

On his part, Modi repeatedly sought to project the universal values practiced by India, invoking Gandhi, Buddha, and the Tamil poet Kariyan Pungundranar to challenge the notion in some quarters that the country is changing. Invocation of the last also appeared to be aimed at the domestic constituency where there are apprehensions of a north-centric imposition of Hindi and Hindutva values across the country.

“We belong to all places, and to everyone,” PM Modi quoted the Tamil poet as saying, adding that “this sense of belonging beyond borders is unique to India.”

Full report at:

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/pm-modi-rises-above-pakistan-in-seeking-consensus-on-terrorism-as-imran-attacks-him-personally/articleshow/71340516.cms

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PM Narendra Modi, Iran’s Rouhani discuss Chabahar operationalisation, regional situation

by Shubhajit Roy

September 28, 2019

At a time when the US administration led by President Donald Trump is exercising maximum pressure on Iran and calling it the biggest state sponsor of terrorism, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday met Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani and reiterated India’s support to give priority to “diplomacy, dialogue and confidence-building” for maintaining peace and security in the Persian Gulf.

From India’s strategic perspective, they discussed operationalisation of the Chabahar port at the meeting. “They especially mentioned operationalisation of Chabahar Port and noted its importance as a gateway to and for the landlocked Afghanistan and the Central Asian region,” an official statement said. They also agreed to mark the 70th anniversary of establishment of diplomatic relations in 2020.

After meeting Rouhani on the sidelines of the 74th Session of the General Assembly, Modi tweeted, “Delighted to meet President @HassanRouhani. We had in-depth discussions on the full range of India-Iran ties, and regional & global matters.”

The MEA statement also said they discussed bilateral relations and exchanged views on regional and global developments of mutual interest. “Noting that India and Iran shared old and civilisational ties, the two leaders positively assessed the progress in bilateral relations since their first meeting at Ufa in 2015,” it said.

They “discussed bilateral cooperation and exchanged views on the situation in the region”, MEA spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said.

The two leaders could not hold a scheduled meeting on the sidelines of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation summit in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan, in June due to scheduling issues.

At the US President’s press conference on Wednesday, both Trump and US Secretary of State Michael Pompeo had talked up the actions against Iran.

The tension between the two countries came to the fore when on September 24, ahead the bilateral meeting between Modi and Trump, the US President while responding to questions on Pakistan being the epicentre of terrorism said, “You mentioned Pakistan, Iran will have to be on top of the list because if you really look at the terror states…” This is contrary to Delhi’s position with regard to its neighbours.

Full report at:

https://indianexpress.com/article/india/modi-rouhani-discuss-chabahar-operationalisation-regional-situation-6035578/

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Babri demolition case: Immunity gone, charges framed against Kalyan Singh

by Manish Sahu

September 28, 2019

Days after Kalyan Singh lost immunity against prosecution following the end of his tenure as Rajasthan Governor on September 3, charges were framed against the former Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Friday in the case relating to the 1992 demolition of the Babri Masjid in Ayodhya. The incident took place when he was CM.

The special court (Ayodhya Prakaran) in Lucknow framed the charges after Kalyan Singh, who joined the BJP again on September 9, appeared before it following summons issued on September 21.

The court granted him bail on a personal bond of Rs 2 lakh, and directed that his file be separated from other accused. The hearing will resume Saturday.

Defence counsel K K Mishra said: “Kalyan Singh appeared in court of Special Judge S K Yadav today following a notice issued against him. The court framed charges against him and later granted him bail on a personal bond of Rs 2 lakh. The court also directed to separate his file from other accused.”

Charges against Kalyan Singh, Mishra said, have been framed under IPC sections 153A (promoting enmity between groups on grounds of religion, race, place of birth, residence, language, etc., and doing acts prejudicial to maintenance of harmony), 153B (imputations, assertions prejudicial to national integration), 295 (injuring or defiling place of worship with intent to insult the religion of any class), 295A (deliberate and malicious acts intended to outrage religious feelings of any class by insulting its religion or religious beliefs) and 505 (statements conducing to public mischief), all sections read with IPC 120B (criminal conspiracy).

Full report at:

https://indianexpress.com/article/india/babri-demolition-case-immunity-gone-charges-framed-against-kalyan-singh-6035543/

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Waseem Rizvi Gets A Blow: High Court Rejects Anticipatory Bail

by Sameer

September 28, 2019

Lucknow: Chairman of UP Wakf Board, Mr. Waseem Rizvi did not get anticipatory bail from Allahabad High Court in transfer of lands to Jawahar University case with the help of fake documents.

The petition was filed against him in this case by Allama Zameer Naqvi. Mr. Azam Khan, SP, MP, his wife Tazyeen Fatima, his son Abdullah Azam Khan and Chairman of Sunni Wakf Board, Zafar Farooqui are also the accused persons.

On behalf of Mr. Waseem Rizvi, his advocate, Mr. V. P. Srivastav pleaded the case whereas Mr. Syed Farman Naqvi Advocate appeared on behalf of Zameer Naqvi.

Lands registered in the name of Shia Wakf Board

As per the details of the case, certain lands were registered in the name of Shia Wakf Board and later transferred to Jawhar University through fake documents.

The next hearing of the case is scheduled for 15th October.

Full report at:

https://www.siasat.com/waseem-rizvi-gets-blow-high-court-rejects-anticipatory-bail-1640980/

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Ayodhya case: Muslim parties apologise in SC for questioning 2003 ASI report

September 26, 2019

The Muslim parties on Thursday took a U-turn on questioning the authorship of the 2003 report of the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) and apologised to the Supreme Court for wasting it's time in the Ayodhya land dispute case.

A five-judge constitution bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi was told by senior advocate Rajeev Dhavan that they do not wish to question the authorship of the summary of the ASI report.

"It is not expected that every page is to be signed. The authorship of the report and the summary need not be questioned. If we had wasted my lords time, then we apologise for that. There is no point going into that.

"The report in question has an author and we are not questioning the authorship," Dhavan, representing the Muslim parties, said.

On Wednesday, senior advocate Meenakshi Arora, also representing the Muslim parties, questioned the ASI report saying every chapter is attributed to an author but the summary has not been attributed to anyone.

The bench also comprising Justices S A Bobde, DY Chandrachud, Ashok Bhushan and S Abdul Nazeer said that Dhavan in his opening remark has said that he has not forfeited his right to question the report but the evidences cannot be discredited after being accepted by the court.

At the outset, the bench asked both Hindu and Muslim parties to specify the time frame for completing the argument saying that there will not be any extra day after October 18.

"There will not be any extra day after October 18. It will be miraculous, if we deliver the judgement in four weeks in the matter," Chief Justice Gogoi said.

The court asked the Muslim parties to wrap up their arguments on the ASI report during the course of the day.

Full report at:

https://www.indiatoday.in/india/story/ayodhya-case-muslim-parties-apologise-in-sc-for-questioning-2003-asi-report-1603391-2019-09-26

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Indian-American Groups to Protest Against Modi Outside UN Headquarters in New York

Raghavi Sharma

September 28, 2019

New Delhi: Thousands of Indian-Americans have said they will protest the arrival of Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the United Nations General Assembly outside the UN headquarters in New York on Friday.

The lead organiser for the protest, the Coalition Against Fascism in India (CAFI), in a press release said that the Modi government had been “orchestrating a pogrom of hate and violence against Muslims and Dalits in India,” and had “disenfranchised seven million Kashmiris”. Referring to the NRC exercise, the statement added that the Modi government had “rendered nearly two million people stateless in Assam and is building detention centres to imprison them”.

Describing the Modi government as “anti-poor” and “anti-minority”, the release also drew attention to the government’s crackdown on all forms of dissent and all those who question its politics of hate.

“Its economic policies have resulted in escalating poverty and the highest unemployment rate in half a century. These events in India concerns all of us who live in the United States,” the statement added.

Assistant professor at Rutgers University and historian Audrey Truschke also announced her intention to join the protest.

Audrey Truschke

@AudreyTruschke

I am proud to be joining a diverse group of Indian Americans in New York City tomorrow that are determined to draw attention to the #ModiSarkar's record on human rights and demand justice for all Indians. Press release: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1Ona98O1TFyG_lgdSHs3_UMxj_vwx5u0j6sFlvW7Z34o/edit … #HumanRights #Hindutva #India

CAFI PROTEST AGAINST MODI, SEP 27

INDIAN AMERICAN COALITION ANNOUNCES U.N. PROTEST AGAINST MODI PRESS RELEASE Demands include end to Kashmir’s lockdown, repeal of draconian laws, halt to mob lynchings Renowned U.S. historian Audrey...

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Truschke said communities and individuals protesting “have experienced, often personally and painfully, the cataclysmic results of his hateful brand of extreme nationalism: Hindutva”.

Calling Hindutva “a bigoted political ideology with many victims”, Truschke maintained that India’s religious minorities had faced increasing disenfranchisement and violence under Modi’s tenure and that the government had attacked the media, academics and others who had dared to speak out.

Also read: Why We, as Hindu Americans, Are Opposed to Modi’s Undeclared Emergency

“The Modi government has been clear in its message that criticising, or even merely accurately describing, Hindutva comes with increasing risks, which makes the scale and diversity of the current protests all the more astonishing. I urge global leaders to listen, not only to Modi, but to those he has not yet managed to silence,” Truschke said.

The national general secretary of the Indian American Muslim Council, Mohammad Jawad, said that the Modi government followed the RSS’s Hindutva ideology which was responsible for all atrocities and lynchings against minorities. “We are not anti-India or anti-Hindu. We are only demanding basic human rights that the Constitution of India guarantees for all citizens,” he said.

Sunita Viswanath, co-founder of Hindus for Human Rights, said that the government was destroying Indian democracy in the name of Hinduism. “As Hindus, as Indians, and as people of conscience, we say ‘Not In Our Name’,” Viswanath said.

Hawk Newsome, chairman of Black Lives Matter Greater New York, announcing his intention to join the protest, said, “We stand united against governments that exploit the most vulnerable.”

New York-based musician Sunny Jain, who is expected to perform at the protest, said that Modi’s Hindu nationalist ideology was divisive and incited aggression towards minorities. “I condemn nationalism from Trump to Modi and urge all artists, South Asians and people to raise their voice against these hurtful ideologies,” Jain said.

James Sues, executive director at the Council on America-Islamic Relations (CAIR) in New Jersey, said that the Modi government had “illegally stripped” the people of Kashmir of their autonomy. “We call on world leaders of conscience to reject the fascist agenda of Mr. Modi and the BJP and stand with the marginalised minorities of India,” Sues said.

CAFI has demanded that the Modi government restore Article 370, end Kashmir’s “military occupation” and respect Kashmiris’ right to decide their own future. It has also demanded the repeal of the Public Safety Act and the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, the termination of the National Register of Citizens and an end to the lynchings of Dalits, Muslims and Adivasis.

The organisation also called for the freeing of political prisoners like Professor G.N. Saibaba and those in the Bhima Koregaon case, and has demanded the withdrawal of “false cases” against anti-caste activists such as Anand Teltumbde.

Also read: Indian-American Coalition Protests ‘Bigoted and Oppressive’ Modi, Trump in Houston

The protest has been co-sponsored by the Alliance for a Democratic and Secular South Asia, Hindus for Human Rights, India Civil Watch and Indian American Muslim Council. The protest has also been endorsed by several organisations and groups including Black Lives Matter (Greater New Y0rk), Democracy, Equality and Secularism in South Asia (DESSA), Winnipeg; India Civil Watch (ICW-Canada) and the Jewish Voice for Peace NYC.

Full report at:

https://thewire.in/rights/indian-americans-protest-modi-un-new-york

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Interfaith Group Gathers To Stand With Kashmir

Sep 27, 2019

On Wednesday evening, an interfaith gathering drew several hundred people to Salam Elementary School to show their support for the majority-Muslim population of the Indian-occupied land of Kashmir.

One after another, the speakers at the gathering contributed to the portrait of a territory and a people under lockdown and suffering intolerable conditions – systematic rape, torture, and denial of medical care. Even children are being abducted and disappeared, afraid to leave their homes to attend school.

The first speaker, Dr.Fuad Jan, said, “There is a heaviness in the air that every Kashmiri feels now. . . There is a kind of dying that is continuous and staggered.” Jan is the author of The Blood of Chinars: A Catalogue of India’s Brutal Occupation of Kashmir, which was distributed at the event. Indian-occupied Kashmir is “frozen into an unbearable silence behind concertina wire,” Dr. Jan said.

He shared a clip of the results of his daily phone calls to his mother in Kashmir. The audio featured an operator telling Dr. Jan his call could not be connected. Dr. Jan has not spoken with his mother since August 5.

On that day, India officially revoked Article 370, which gave Kashmir autonomous status following the India/Pakistan partition in 1947. That autonomous status, said Dr. Jan, has been eroding for the past 70 years.It is reported that there are currently 45,000 Indian troops in Kashmir.

India, said Dr. Jan, is “coming down on a people with a punitive wrath.”

Fall is tourism season in Kashmir, which is famous for its apples, said Masarat Allaqaband, the second speaker of the evening. Today, she said, “the fruits are rotting and the hotels are all empty.” Driving with her brother through the deserted streets, Masarat took the pictures she shared with the audience, at serious risk to both their lives. “My brother said, ‘Are you trying to get us killed?’”

Masarat observed that the windows of homes near main roads were nothing but broken glass. Indian security forces had thrown stones at the houses. “Kashmiris are struggling to raise their voices against Indian atrocities that have been going on for years,” she said.“But I have never seen it like this.” Kashmiristold her, “We heard you guys are fighting for us. You have to fight for us and bring us justice.”

Dr. Suhail Allaqaband, Masarat’s husband, who recently returned from Kashmir with his wife, spoke about the lack of medical care and Kashmir’s closed hospitals, showing BBC footage of a doctor, trying to speak about the crisis, who was taken into custody right in front of news cameras.

Nusrat Kalloo, a mother of two from Mequon, discussed enforced disappearances, a tactic that has been condemned internationally since 2006, when the secretary-general of the U.N. signed The International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance.

“No man, woman, or child should just be disappeared from this Earth,” Nusrat said. However, she added, “this egregious act continues every day in Kashmir.”

Since August 5, it is reported that 30,000 Kashmiris have disappeared, including children.

High school student Sariya Banday told attendees that Kashmiri children have not been able to attend school and are “afraid to step outside their homes. The price of education is their life.” Thus far, 38 students are known to have been killed, and 46 schools have been occupied by the Indian army, she said.

“They’ve been taking young school boys away, stopping only to molest the girls of the family,” she said. “An eleven year-old boy was beaten for six days straight.”

There are no reliable statistics on the number of rapes committed by Indian forces in Kashmir, but it is a tactic India has employedin the region for decades. Dr. Hina Mahboob told the audience, “Rape is conducted methodically to shame Kashmiris.” A video clip featured the survivors of an appalling incident that took place thirty years ago in the villages of Kunan and Poshpora, when all the men were taken away by soldiers, leaving the women behind to be raped. “The Indian army went berserk all night,” one villager said. A woman rape survivor said, “I am breathing, but I am not alive.”

On social media, ordinary Indians talk about encouraging their sons to marry “pale Kashmiri women” and gain title to their land.

Hassan and Hina, a brother and sister, drew attention to the Indian army’s use of pump-action pellet guns against Kashmiris. Pellet guns don’t kill, but they do maim. The young pair told the stories of two other young people, a boy of sixteen and a girl of fifteen, whose futures were changed forever after they were blinded by pellets fired from the army’s guns.

“Freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor. It must be demanded by the oppressed,” Hassan quoted Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Amit Pal of the Freedom from Religion Foundation talked about some of the origins of the Indian fundamentalism and nationalism that has taken over the sub-continent, ascribing responsibility to Hindutva, the “largest non-governmental organization in the world” with 55,000 branches across India. Hindutva is the ideological force propelling India’s current government. Indian prime minister Narendra Modi “has been a member since he was eight years old,” Pal said.

Many of Hindutva’s tactics are taken from Mussolini’s Italian fascists, whom Modi allegedly admires, Pal said. He emphasized that, while “Hindutva is not Hinduism . . .ever since [Indian] independence, the autonomous status of Kashmir has rankled and the game plan has been to remove Article 370.”

Pal also said that Donald Trump has told Modi there will be “no pushback” from India’s actions in Kashmir.

Last Sunday, September 22, Modi joined Donald Trump for a mass rally in Houston, Texas attended by 50,000 people. Amid flashy dance routines displaying both Indian and Texan culture, Modi and Trump extolled “liberty” as protesters marched outside.

Masood Akhtar held up a copy of the United States constitution and said, “We have the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. I don’t think Kashmiris know what happiness is at this point.”

Akhtar suggested some steps that can be taken to aid Kashmir, saying that attendees needed to be “pro-active” and“non-partisan.” And, he said, “We have to act on what we talk about today. We have to come out of our silos,” meaning our individual communities and concerns that isolate people from one another.

“If we work very hard, we can be the voices of those who are voiceless,” said Akhtar.

Tom Heinen, former executive director of the Interfaith Conference of Greater Milwaukee, was one of the speakers who closed the rally, along with Felesia Martin, a member of the Milwaukee County Board of Supervisors, who said, “Whenever I hear of these types of atrocities, it brings me to my knees to ask forgiveness for my not being aware of the suffering.”

Full report at:

https://wisconsinmuslimjournal.org/interfaith-group-gathers-to-stand-with-kashmir/

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India, Pakistan among 7 nations with state actors active online for propaganda: Study

by Karishma Mehrotra

September 28, 2019

India figures in a small bunch of seven countries — along with China, Iran, Pakistan, Russia, Saudi Arabia, and Venezuela — where state actors use computational propaganda on Facebook and Twitter to influence global audiences, according to a comprehensive report on disinformation campaigns released by the Computational Propaganda project at Oxford on Thursday.

The report found at least seven instances of “cyber troops” in India, and private contractors came out to be the most active “cyber troops” in the country.

These troops are “government or political party actors tasked with manipulating public opinion online”, according to the report, and only Malaysia, Philippines, the UAE, and the US had as many or more instances as India. The report labelled India as “medium-capacity” for “cyber troops”. It stated, “Multiple teams ranging in size from 50-300 people. Multiple contracts and advertising expenditures valued at over 1.4M US.” Other countries in the category are Brazil, Pakistan, and the UK.

Over three years, the researchers examined 70 countries in which these operations do three things: suppress fundamental human rights, discredit political opposition, and drown out political dissent.

In India, cyber troop activity was found in two instances by a political party or politicians, three or more instances by a private contractor, on one instance by civil society organisation, and one by citizens and influencers.

In the first big crackdown on fake accounts for “inauthentic behaviour” in the run-up to Lok Sabha polls in April, Facebook removed more than 700 pages, groups and accounts from India. Those taken down include accounts associated with the Congress IT cell and Silver Touch Technologies, a company that has worked for the government and the BJP. They were taken down for attempts to deceive users of their identities, according to the company.

The report found that in India, bot-led automated manipulation as well as human-led manipulation spread propaganda for a party, attacked its political opposition, and spread polarising messaging designed to drive divisions.

In India, it found the use of disinformation and media manipulation, data-driven strategies, amplifying content by flooding hashtags, and troll armies that harass dissidents or journalists online. The only technique that the researchers did not find in India that was present in other countries was mass-reporting of content or accounts.

“The co-option of social media technologies provides authoritarian regimes with a powerful tool to shape public discussions and spread propaganda online, while simultaneously surveilling, censoring, and restricting digital public spaces,” the report says. Of the 70 countries, 44 had campaigns conducted by government actors, such as a digital ministry or the military, and 45 had campaigns led by political parties or politicians, the report found. This is a 150-per cent increase in countries using organised social media manipulation campaigns.

This year, 70 countries saw campaigns of this kind; the corresponding figures 48 in 2018, and 28 in the year before.

The methodology involved news reporting analysis, a secondary literature review of public archives and scientific reports, drafting country case studies, and expert consultations.

Full report at:

https://indianexpress.com/article/india/india-pakistan-among-7-nations-with-state-actors-active-online-for-propaganda-study-6035217/

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India at UNGA: Imran Khan’s nuke remark ‘brinkmanship, not statesmanship’

September 28, 2019

A day after Imran Khan used the United Nations platform to criticise India and warned of a “bloodbath” in Kashmir, India Saturday shot back at the Pakistan Prime Minister and said his threat of unleashing nuclear devastation “qualifies as brinkmanship not statesmanship”.

Exercising India’s right to reply to Khan’s address to the United Nations General Assembly, Vidisha Maitra, First Secretary MEA, said, “Prime Minister Khan’s threat of unleashing nuclear devastation qualifies as brinksmanship, not statesmanship. Even coming from the leader of a country that has monopolised the entire value chain of the industry of terrorism, Prime Minister Khan’s justification of terrorism was brazen and incendiary.”

On Friday, while addressing the assembly, Khan had said, “If a conventional war starts between the two countries, anything could happen. But supposing a country seven times smaller than its neighbour is faced with the choice: either you surrender, or you fight for your freedom till death?”

“What will we do? I ask myself these questions. We will fight… and when a nuclear-armed country fights to the end, it will have consequences far beyond the borders,” he added.

In a strong rebuttal today, the First Secretary MEA also asked if the Imran Khan-led government will admit that it is the only one in the world that provides pension to global terrorists.

“Will Pakistan acknowledge that it is the only government in the world that provides pension to an individual listed by the UN in the Al-Qaeda and Daesh sanctions list?”

“Will Pakistan deny that the Financial Action Task Force has put the country on notice for its violations of more than 20 of the 27 key parameters? And would PM Imran Khan deny to the city of New York that he was an open defender of Osama bin Laden?” she added.

Maitra was referring to Khan’s remark at the US Institute of Peace earlier this year, when he said he felt humiliated after US forces killed the dreaded terrorist Osama bin Laden in a daring strike inside Pakistan in 2011. “Never did I feel more humiliated because here was a country which was supposed to be an ally and our ally did not trust us”, Khan had said.

The First Secretary MEA also asked if the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) chief can confirm that his country is home to 130 UN-designated terrorists and 25 terror entities listed by the UN.

“Now that PM Imran Khan has invited UN observers to Pakistan to verify that there are no militant organisations in the country, the world will hold him to that promise,” she said.

Relations between the two countries have been complex ever since New Delhi scrapped the Jammu and Kashmir’s special status by diluting the Article 370 of Constitution, whereby the state was bifurcated into two Union territories, namely: Jammu and Kashmir, and Ladakh.

“While Pakistan has ventured into upstream terrorism and downstream hate speech, India is going with the mainstream of development in Kashmir,” she said.

Taking a swipe at the PTI chief, Maitra said India does not “need anyone else to speak on their behalf, least of all those who have built an industry of terrorism from the ideology of hate”.

Maitra also reminded Khan of the gruesome genocide perpetrated by Pakistan against its own people in 1971. “Pogroms, PM Imran Khan Niazi, are not a phenomenon of today’s vibrant democracies. We would request you to refresh your rather sketchy understanding of history,” she said.

Referring to the “blatant abuse and forced conversions” in the neighbouring country, Maitra said, “This a country that has shrunk the size of its minority community from 23% in 1947 to 3% today and has subjected Christians, Sikhs, Ahmadiyas, Hindus, Shias, Pashtuns, Sindhis and Balochis to draconian blasphemy laws, systemic persecution, blatant abuse and forced conversions.”

Full report at:

https://indianexpress.com/article/india/unga-meeting-india-responds-to-pakistan-imran-khan-speech-6035793/

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Pakistan

 

Mujahideens, funded by US to fight Soviets, are now attacking Pak: Imran Khan

September 13, 2019

Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan on Friday said that his country should have been neutral over the American troops' action against the Taliban in Afghanistan. Imran Khan said that the Mujahideens, that were trained by Pakistan, have now turned against the country.

Imran Khan said that the Mujahideens were trained by Pakistan to do jihad against the Soviet when they occupied Afghanistan in the 1980s. He also said that these Mujahideens were funded by the United States' Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).

"In the 80s, we were training these Mujahideen people to do jihad against Soviet when they occupied Afghanistan. So, these people were trained by Pakistan, funded by US's CIA," Imran Khan was quoted as saying by news agency ANI.

Imran Khan further said that when the American troops entered Afghanistan and took action against the Taliban, Pakistan should have been neutral in its position.

"Now a decade later when the Americans come into Afghanistan, the same groups who are all in Pakistan are supposed to say that now because Americans are there, it is no longer jihad its terrorism. It was a big contradiction," Imran Khan said.

"I strongly felt that Pakistan should have been neutral because by joining in, these groups turned against us," the Pakistan prime minister said.

ANI

@ANI

Pak PM:The same groups who are all in Pakistan are supposed to say that now because Americans are there it is no longer jihad its terrorism. It was a big contradiction&I strongly felt that Pakistan should have been neutral because by joining in,these groups turned against us(2/3) https://twitter.com/ANI/status/1172342330487013376 …

ANI

@ANI

Pakistani PM Imran Khan: In 80s we were training these Mujahideen people to do jihad against Soviet when they occupied Afghanistan. So,these people were trained by Pakistan, funded by US's CIA & now a decade later when the Americans come into Afghanistan... (File pic) (1/3)

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Listing out the consequences of Pakistan not being neutral in its position when the American troops entered Afghanistan, Imran Khan said that the country has since lost 70,000 people and over 100 billion dollars to the economy.

He also said that in the end, Pakistan was blamed for Americans not succeeding in Afghanistan which, Imran Khan said, was unfair on his country.

Imran Khan said, "In the end, we were blamed for the Americans not succeeding in Afghanistan. I felt it was very unfair on Pakistan."

https://www.indiatoday.in/world/story/supporting-us-troops-in-afghanistan-turned-pak-trained-mujahideens-against-us-imran-khan-1598662-2019-09-13?utm_source=recengine&utm_medium=web&referral=yes&utm_content=footerstrip-3

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More worried about India than Pakistan right now, says Imran Khan

September 23, 2019

Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan on Monday said he will try to convince US President Donald Trump for resuming talks with India over a host of issues including Kashmir.

"I will try my best to convey my feelings to President Trump," said Imran Khan. The Pakistan PM further criticised India for avoiding bilateral talks on a number of occasions.

Imran Khan said, "India is not heading in the right direction and I am more worried about India than Pakistan right now." He added that a strong "nationalist" sentiment has taken over the idea of India.

Imran Khan went on to say that he would want the United Nations to play a role in mediating talks with India.

Speaking with Richard N Hass, the president of Council of Foreign Relations (CFR), Imran Khan said over eight million Kashmiris have been living under restrictions in Kashmir for almost 50 days.

"At least what I expect from the international community is to ask them (India) to lift the curfew," Imran Khan added, saying that it is a gross violation of human rights.

When asked about Pakistan's economic woes, Imran Khan blamed the previous administrations for failing to manage the economy. He, however, said that Pakistan is working towards restructuring the economy.

Meanwhile, Imran Khan is scheduled to meet with US President Donald Trump shortly and expected to speak to him on a host of issues including Kashmir.

Full report at:

https://www.indiatoday.in/world/story/more-worried-about-india-than-pakistan-right-now-says-imran-khan-1602382-2019-09-23

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Social media lauds PM Imran for championing Kashmir cause at UNGA

September 27, 2019

KARACHI: Social media lauded Prime Minister Imran Khan on Friday for championing the cause of Kashmir during his address at the United Nations General Assembly (UGNA), bringing the atrocities and lockdown in the Muslim-majority, Himalayan valley to the "absolute centre stage of global political paradigm".

Pakistani commentator and former cricketer Ramiz Raja cheered on PM Imran's speech.

Ramiz Raja

@iramizraja

Nailed it absolutely Mr Khan! Wow.

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He wrote: "Nailed it absolutely Mr Khan! Wow."

Sports presenter  Zainab Abbas also appreciated the PM's address.

zainab abbas

@ZAbbasOfficial

What a speech!

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"What a speech," she wrote.

Singer Farhan Saeed, on the other hand, lauded PM Imran's  vision and speech.

Farhan Saeed

@farhan_saeed

I feel proud to have voted for you, I feel proud to have you as my leader, I feel proud to have you as Pakistans Prime Minister, I feel proud to have you @ImranKhanPTI , I feel proud to be a Pakistani.  What a vision, what a speech !#ImranKhanVoiceOfKashmir

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"I feel proud to have voted for you, I feel proud to have you as my leader, I feel proud to have you as Pakistans Prime Minister, I feel proud to have you @ImranKhanPTI , I feel proud to be a Pakistani," he wrote.

The ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf's (PTI) leader, Jahangir Khan Tareen, wrote: "For the first time in our history, the miseries of Kashmiri people are being narrated effectively at the global stage.

Jahangir Khan Tareen

@JahangirKTareen

For the first time in our history, the miseries of Kashmiri people are being narrated effectively at the global stage. PM IK has remained fully true to his commitment. He has championed Kashmir Cause in the best possible manner. More power to him 👍 #ImranKhanVoiceOfKashmir

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"PM IK has remained fully true to his commitment. He has championed Kashmir Cause in the best possible manner," he added.

Jahangir Khan Tareen

@JahangirKTareen

An amazing speech by PM IK. From Global Warming to Islamophobia and from Money Laundering to exposing Modi's brutalities in Kashmir, he hit all the right chords. Long live PM IK #ImranKhanVoiceOfKashmir

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"An amazing speech by PM IK. From Global Warming to Islamophobia and from Money Laundering to exposing Modi's brutalities in Kashmir, he hit all the right chords," Tareen said.

Punjab Chief Minister Usman Buzdar, praised PM  Imran for lifting "Pakistan's International stature in just few months".

Usman Buzdar

@UsmanAKBuzdar

Prime Minister Imran Khan has lifted Pakistan's International stature in just few months. His struggle for the people of #Kashmir is bound to be successful

World can't remain ignorant of brewing humanitarian crisis in Indian occupied Jammu & Kashmir now! #ImranKhanVoiceOfKashmir

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"His struggle for the people of #Kashmir is bound to be successful World can't remain ignorant of brewing humanitarian crisis in Indian occupied Jammu & Kashmir now," Buzdar added.

State Minister for Climate Change Zartaj Gul Wazir termed the premier's speech as "tremendous and game-changing".

Zartaj Gul Wazir

@zartajgulwazir

With such a tremendous and game-changing speech, Prime Minister Imran Khan has beautifully moved the #Kashmir issue to the absolute centre stage of global political paradigm!#ImranKhanVoiceOfKashmir

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She added: "Prime Minister Imran Khan has beautifully moved the #Kashmir issue to the absolute centre stage of global political paradigm!"

Singer Fakhr-e-Alam said PM Imran "just clean bowled the lies of [Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi] and hit all his doubters/haters for a SIX. His closing sentences were the roar of a lion.

Fakhr-e-Alam

@falamb3

PM @ImranKhanPTI just clean bowled the lies of @narendramodi and hit all his doubters/haters for a SIX. His closing sentences were the roar of a lion. His message is clear we want PEACE but if u impose WAR then you will find a worthy opponent that will rattle your foundations.

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"His message is clear we want PEACE but if u impose WAR then you will find a worthy opponent that will rattle your foundations," he added. "He makes us proud and wants me to be a better Pakistani."

He added a list of "overs" and how the PM "clean bowled Modi".

"The most significant, meaningful & deadly spell bowled by @ImranKhanPTI in his life.

Fakhr-e-Alam

@falamb3

1st Over Climate Change Caught & Bowled.

2nd Over Corruption Money laundering LBW.

3rd Over Ran Out Islamophobia

4th Over clean bowled Modi & RSS.

The most significant, meaningful & deadly spell bowled by @ImranKhanPTI in his life.#UNGA2019

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"1st Over Climate Change Caught & Bowled.

2nd Over Corruption Money laundering LBW.

3rd Over Ran Out Islamophobia

4th Over clean bowled Modi & RSS."

Lawyer and social activist Jibran Nasir  said PM Imran "convincingly used #UNGA to not only explain reasons for atrocities in #Kashmir by India under BJP & brutal conditions there but also rightly expressed his fears of a fallout.

M. Jibran Nasir

@MJibranNasir

PM @ImranKhanPTI convincingly used #UNGA to not only explain reasons for atrocities in #Kashmir by India under BJP & brutal conditions there but also rightly expressed his fears of a fallout. Pak isn't a big market like India. Now it's a matter of conscience for world community https://twitter.com/MJibranNasir/status/1177609901314625536 …

M. Jibran Nasir

@MJibranNasir

A relatable, frank & convincing speech from PM @ImranKhanPTI touching on pressing issues like #ClimateChange, #Islamophobia, #Kashmir explaining all with relevant background. Much better than speech at CFR. We couldn't get support at UNHCR for Kashmir hope this speech sways #UNGA

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"Pak isn't a big market like India. Now it's a matter of conscience for world community," he added.

Congratulating the PM for speaking "on behalf of 1.3 billion Muslims", comedian Shafaat Ali also praised him.

Shafaat Ali

@iamshafaatali

Today Imran Khan spoke on behalf of 1.3 billion Muslims. Hit the problem right through its heart. KUDOS #UNGA #ImranKhan

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PM Imran "hit the problem right through its heart", he said.

Shireen Mazari

@ShireenMazari1

Amazing speech by PM IK - striaght talking, blunt, compassionate - exposing hypocrisy of developed world on climate change & money laundering safe havens; challenging Islamophobia; & most hard hitting on IOJK exposing India as no Pak ldr has ever done. #ImranKhanVoiceOfKashmir

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Human rights minister Shireen Mazari wrote: "Amazing speech by PM IK - striaght talking, blunt, compassionate - exposing hypocrisy of developed world on climate change & money laundering safe havens; challenging Islamophobia; & most hard hitting on IOJK exposing India as no Pak ldr has ever done."

Senator Faisal Javed Khan said PM Imran's speech was "amazing".

Faisal Javed Khan

@FaisalJavedKhan

#ImranKhanVoiceOfKashmir Amazing Speech - A leader is one who knows the way, goes the way, and shows the way.#ImranKhanMakesHistory

Full Speech at the UN https://youtu.be/dtJVeW1uhQI

YouTube @YouTube

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"A leader is one who knows the way, goes the way, and shows the way," he added.

https://www.thenews.com.pk/latest/532970-social-media-lauds-pm-imran-for-championing-kashmir-cause-at-unga

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Bill Gates hails PM Imran's leadership for Pakistan’s anti-poverty strategy

September 27, 2019

NEW YORK: Co-chairman of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and Microsoft Chairman, Bill Gates on Friday hailed Prime Minister Imran Khan for showing leadership in developing a new anti-poverty strategy under ‘Ehsaas Programme’.

Pakistan and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation have signed a Memorandum of Understanding in support of the Ehsaas initiative to alleviate poverty in Pakistan for which the charity organization will provide 200 million dollars.

In a tweet, Gates said, “Ending poverty and achieving the SDGs requires a whole-of-government approach. Imran Khan and Sania Nishtar have shown leadership in developing a new anti-poverty strategy.”

Bill Gates

@BillGates

Ending poverty and achieving the SDGs requires a whole-of-government approach. @ImranKhanPTI and @SaniaNishtar have shown leadership in developing a new anti-poverty strategy. #Ehsaas https://b-gat.es/2m4DcEh

Collaboration on Ehsaas Program to Alleviate Poverty

gatesfoundation.org

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PM Imran, Dr Nishtar and top officials of the Gates Foundation participated in a bilateral meeting on the future of Ehsaas Programme, a collaboration to put funding, technical assistance, and the help of global experts toward improving health, nutrition and financial inclusion within Pakistan.

The 'Ehsaas Programme' aims to provide effective safety nets through 134 new poverty-focused policy actions and programs.

PM Imran during the meeting said this was “the biggest anti-poverty project ever launched in the country and it has been planned with a great deal of attention to detail. I’m pleased that the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation will assist with a range of activities including accelerating stunting reduction programs, supporting financial inclusion initiatives and investing in public health systems to improve health and reduce maternal, newborn and child mortality.”

The prime minister also expressed full commitment to put measures in place to end polio once and for all, as well as make progress on the micro-payment gateway and financial inclusion. The ‘One Woman One Bank Account’ programme, which comes under Ehsaas Programme, was also discussed in relation to how it can accelerate both financial inclusion and women’s empowerment.

Full report at:

https://www.thenews.com.pk/latest/532928-bill-gates-hails-pm-imrans-leadership-for-pakistans-anti-poverty-strategy

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Imran's maiden UNGA speech exceeds time limit

Sep 27, 2019

UNITED NATIONS: Prime Minister

Out of the 50-minutes that he spoke from the podium of the UN General Assembly hall, half of his speech was on India and Kashmir, drumming up a hysteria about a nuclear war.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who was the fourth leader to address the General Assembly on Friday, spoke for about 16 minutes, succinctly talking about India's development agenda and the country's focus on initiating ambitious programmes aimed at improving the lives of not only the 1.3 billion people of India but serving as an example to nations and citizens across the world.

According to information about the high-level UN General Assembly session, a voluntary 15-minute time limit for statements is to be observed in the General Debate.

Member States are informed by a note verbale from the Secretary-General at the end of May that the speakers list for the general debate is formally opened for signing up. The speaking order of the general debate is different from the speaking order of other General Assembly debates.

Heads of State and Governments and Foreign Ministers from all the 193 UN Member States speak during the General Debate segment that usually lasts for 7-8 working days.

Full report at:

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/pakistan/imrans-maiden-unga-speech-exceeds-time-limit/articleshow/71342016.cms

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Imran wades into Indian history, politics as he takes aim at ‘Hindu supremacist RSS’

Sep 27, 2019

NEW YORK: In a blistering tirade against India, including personal attacks on Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan warned of a nuclear conflagration in the subcontinent that would affect the whole world if the global community did not intervene in the Kashmir issue.

In a nearly 45-minute address to the United Nations an hour after a short and stoic address by PM Modi, the Pakistan Prime Minister launched a ferocious attack on the RSS and its vision of India, which he argued was the underlying cause of New Delhi’s recent actions in Kashmir. It was, he alleged, a policy based on the Hindu idea of “racial superiority” and a hatred of Muslims because they had been subjugated for centuries.

Comparing RSS “goods” to Nazi brownshirts, Khan waded into the political dynamics in India, invoking the communal riots in Gujarat in 2002 to remind UN delegates that Prime Minister Modi’s visa to visit the United States had been revoked because he had allowed a pogrom against Muslims. A similar event was waiting to happen in Kashmir, he warned, evoking fearful scenarios of a bloodbath when curfew was lifted.

Khan laid out a scenario where once the curfew is lifted there would be a bloody uprising, followed by massacres by Indian forces, followed by reprisal attacks, for which Pakistan would be blamed. All that could eventually lead to a nuclear war whose effect would go beyond the subcontinent, he warned. It is a theme he has repeatedly warned of in recent days, almost certain that that is the way it will play out to the point of willing it.

“It is not a threat, it is a fear ... it is a worry,” Khan told the UN, raising the spectre of a nuclear conflagration and arguing that anything could happen when a nuclear country “fights to its death”

"This is not a time for appeasement. India must lift its inhuman curfew and free political prisoners. And then the world community must give Kashmiris right of self determination,” Khan concluded to loud cheers from some delegates.

In fact, the scorching attack on India on the basis of his reading of the Kashmir situation drew several rounds of applause even as a stony-faced lower-ranking Indian delegate watched the theatrical, extempore speech. India will exercise a right of reply later in the session.

On the sidelines, the Indian side already began noting several disingenuous claims by the Pakistan prime minister, including his rationalization of terrorism citing Islamophobia.

Khan railed against the US war on terror, which he claimed led to increasing radicalization of Muslims, glossing over the fact that the US war on Afghanistan occurred after Osama bin Laden and his al-Qaida, which Khan admitted was trained by the Pakistan military, carried out the 9/11 terrorist attack. He also took an indirect swipe at US President Donald Trump without taking his name, referring to the expression "radical Islamic terrorism" that Trump made a signature phrase.

Khan argued that Muslims and Islam were blamed for suicide attacks even though a majority of suicide attacks before 9/11 were carried out Tamil Tigers (who he claimed were Hindus) and Japanese kamikaze pilots, and no one ever cited their religion. Neither Tigers (who also had Christians and Muslims in their ranks) nor Japanese pilots invoked religion in their suicide attacks.

Full report at:

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/pakistan/imran-wades-into-indian-history-politics-as-he-takes-aim-at-hindu-supremacist-rss/articleshow/71341375.cms

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To target RSS, Imran Khan quotes Congress at UNGA

Sep 27, 2019

NEW YORK: In what can put the Congress in a tough spot, Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan on Friday once again quoted the party to peddle his anti-India rhetoric during his UNGA address.

"The previous Congress home minister gave a statement that in RSS camps, terrorists are being trained," Khan said at the world body which is deliberating on climate change and inclusion in its 74th session.

Khan continued his vile narrative against India over New Delhi's move to revoke Article 370 and also flouted the time limit set for the address of world leaders.

This is not the first time that Khan has quoted the Indian political party while launching an attack on New Delhi.

"For a start, they have to lift the curfew, that's the beginning. Even the Congress party in India has commented that poor people have been shut inside for 50 days. No one knows what's happening with the political prisoners ... (Prime Minister Narendra) Modi has boxed himself in a blind alley," Khan had told reporters at a press conference here on the sidelines of the 74th UNGA session.

Earlier this month, the opening pages of a leaked Pakistan's dossier on Jammu and Kashmir contained the statements made by Congress leader Rahul Gandhi and National Conference (NC) leader Omar Abdullah in the wake of the abrogation of Article 370.

"It has been 20 days since the people of Jammu and Kashmir had their freedom and civil liberties curtailed. Leaders of the Opposition and Press got a taste of draconian administration and brute force unleashed on people of Jammu and Kashmir when we tried to visit Srinagar," Gandhi had been quoted as saying in the pages.

Adding insult to injury, Pakistan's Human Rights Minister Shireen Mazari last month wrote a letter to 18 UN Special Procedures mandate on the Kashmir issue. In her letter, Mazari had claimed that Gandhi noted that people are dying in Jammu and Kashmir.

Amidst this, Gandhi had clarified his stance and hit out at Pakistan for instigating violence in Jammu and Kashmir and asserted that matters related to the region are India's internal issues with no room for interference by Islamabad.

Full report at:

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/pakistan/to-target-rss-imran-khan-quotes-congress-at-unga/articleshow/71341201.cms

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To combat Islamophobia, Khan bridges East and West

Sep 28th, 2019

UNITED NATIONS (AP) — He spoke of Islam — his religion — but he used references like Charles Bronson's "Death Wish" movie, Monty Python and Japanese kamikaze pilots during World War II. He built linguistic and pop-culture bridges as he carefully made his points.

Pakistan's enigmatic Prime Minister Imran Khan effortlessly projected his East-meets-West brand from the podium of the U.N. General Assembly on Friday, wearing a navy blazer over a traditional shalwar kameez as he attempted to explain the dangers of Islamophobia and why Muslims are sensitive to attacks on the Prophet Muhammad.

In the end, Khan's speech reached its destination — a political attack by a politician on India's crackdown in Muslim-majority Kashmir. En route, though, he delivered an appeal familiar to many Muslims but somewhat extraordinary for a global forum: a full-throated defense of Islam shaped for a Western audience's ears.

"It is important to understand this. The prophet (Muhammad) lives in our hearts," Khan said. "When he is ridiculed, when he's insulted, it hurts."

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"We human beings understand one thing: The pain of the heart is far, far, far more hurtful than physical pain," he said in his speech, which pinballed between his dual identities — sports-star celebrity and his current role as head of state of the world's largest Islamic republic.

Similar to his life, much of it lived out in the tabloids through the 1990s, Khan's 45-minute-speech appeared to follow not a script but his own off-the-cuff stream of consciousness.

Even if the messenger was highly political, the message was a humanistic one. It said, in effect, that terrorism, radicalism and suicide bombings belong to no religion— or at least not to one religion exclusively.

During World War II, Khan said, Japan deployed kamikaze pilots as suicide bombers. "No one blamed the religion." But after 9/11, the world's Muslims — and particularly those in Pakistan and a few other nations — found themselves blamed for the hijackers who targeted the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and Flight 93.

"Suicide attacks and Islam were equated," he said.

He said Muslim leaders had failed after the 9/11 attacks to explain that "no religion preaches radicalism." Instead, he said, Muslim leaders started wearing Western suits, and even those who didn't know English would speak English "because they were moderates."

So scared of being labeled radical, Muslim leaders became moderates rather than stand firm in saying that "there is no such thing as radical Islam," he asserted.

As Khan stood before world leaders, now one himself, he said that he knows "how the Western mind works and how (the) West views religion." He spoke as a Pakistani Muslim — saturated in Western culture and whose children are half British — who is now married to his spiritual guide and has ascended to prime minister.

Khan said he could understand why "a person in New York, in the Midwest in the U.S., in a European capital" might equate Islam with radicalism and be stunned by the impassioned reaction of Muslims to ridicule of the Prophet Muhammad.

He recalled, with astonishment, the first time he went to England and heard about a movie that poked fun at Jesus Christ's life — an apparent reference to the 1979 comedy "Monty Python's Life of Brian," beloved by many Britons and Americans.

"It's unthinkable in Muslim societies," he said, to lampoon any prophet. Some in the West who have done so have been targeted by Islamic attackers, most notably the Charlie Hebdo satirical publication in France.

To Khan, it comes down to sensitivity — and being "sensitive to what causes pain to other human beings."

To drive home his message, he drew a parallel to one of the West's few red lines, saying the Holocaust is treated "quite rightly" with sensitivity because it causes the Jewish community pain.

"Do not use freedom of speech to cause us pain by insulting our holy prophet. That's all we want," he said.

Khan took office last year, and this was his first address to the General Assembly. He reached across the gulf to be a translating dictionary for two cultures that find themselves at odds. For many generations, most Western views of the Islamic world were broad and even lampoonish. Think "Aladdin" or "Ali Baba" — from the misinformed to the downright insulting. But globally, what got amplified was the Western view.

The politician in Khan did what was expected during his address: He used his platform to segue into warnings to India for its policies in Kashmir.

Full report at:

https://www.ksl.com/article/46646937/analysis-to-combat-islamophobia-khan-bridges-east-and-west

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Pak is blot on humanity, virus for entire world: Baloch activist

September 27, 2019

Calling Pakistan a "blot on humanity", a Baloch activist has said the country which was created for Islam has emerged as the biggest enemy of the religion itself.

He also accused the Pakistani establishment of kidnapping children of the Baloch community.

"We aim to expose the real face of Pakistan before the world and let the world know that Pakistan is a blot on humanity. Pakstan is the biggest enemy of Islam. Pakistan was created for Islam and now it has become the biggest enemy of that religion," Shams Baloch, Central Council Member of Free Balochistan Movement.

"Pakistan gained control over Balochistan. Pakistan is a virus not just for India, Afghanistan or Balochistan, but for the entire world & humanity," he added.

Pakistan has been condemned internationally for cracking down on the minorities living in the country.

Islamabad is also reportedly discriminating against its religious minorities, which is manifested in various forms of targeted violence, mass murders, extrajudicial killings, abduction, rapes, forced conversion to Islam, etc., making the Pakistani Hindus, Christians, Sikhs, Ahmadiyyas, and Shias one of the most persecuted minorities in the region.

Various activists belonging to the Baloch, Pashtuns, and Sindhi communities have been holding protests in Geneva to expose Pakistan over its illegal occupation and suppression of the minorities.

For long, Pakistan's establishment has been criticised over its practice of enforced disappearances and extrajudicial killings by international bodies and local human rights organisations that dare to speak out on the issue.

According to the Commission of Inquiry on Enforced Disappearances, an entity established by the Pakistani government, about 5,000 cases of enforced disappearances have been registered since 2014. Most of them are still unresolved.

Independent local and international human rights organisations put the numbers much higher. Around 20,000 have reportedly been abducted only from Balochistan, out of which more than 2,500 have turned up dead as bullet-riddled dead bodies, bearing signs of extreme torture.

Before being elected as Prime Minister, Imran Khan had admitted in multiple interviews about the involvement of Pakistan's intelligence agencies in enforced disappearances and extrajudicial killings and vowed to resign if he was unable to put an end to the practice, holding those involved responsible.

Full report at:

https://www.business-standard.com/article/news-ani/pak-is-blot-on-humanity-virus-for-entire-world-baloch-activist-119092700640_1.html

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Pro-Kashmir rallies held across Balochistan

Abdul Wahid Shahwani | Ali Jan Mangi

September 28, 2019

DERA MURAD JAMALI/ KHUZDAR: Over a dozen rallies were held across Balochistan on Friday in protest against human rights violations and killing of Kashmiri people by Indian security forces in held Kashmir.

The rallies expressing solidarity with the people of India-held Kashmir were held in Dera Murad Jamali, Khuzdar, Chaman, Dear Bugti, Kalat, Dera Allah Yar, Sibi and other towns and cities of the province.

Students, teachers, employees of the Balochistan University of Engineering and Technology, Khuzdar, and civil society representatives took out a big procession in Khuzdar town. Holding placards and banners, the marchers chanted slogans against India. They demanded India must recognise the right to self-determination of Kashmiris.

In Dera Murad Jamali, Nasirabad Deputy Commissioner Zafar Baloch and leaders of various political parties participated in a march. The participants appealed to United Nations to use its powers for pressuring the Indian government to lift curfew from held Kashmir and stop ongoing operations against the Kashmiri people who have been struggling for their rights and freedom.

In Chaman, the Pakistan Muslim League-Q took out a procession to express solidarity with the people of Kashmir. The participants marched on different streets and chanted slogans in support of Kashmiris’ struggle.

In Dera Bugti, students, civil society representatives and education department officials held a protest rally against the inhuman actions of Indian forces in Kashmir. Holding flags of Pakistan and Kashmir, they raised slogans in favour of Kashmiris.

Full report at:

https://www.dawn.com/news/1507772/pro-kashmir-rallies-held-across-balochistan

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In meeting with UN chief, PM Imran highlights world body's responsibility to help resolve Kashmir

Sanaullah Khan

September 28, 2019

Prime Minister Imran Khan on Friday highlighted the responsibility of the United Nations and the international community to take urgent steps to protect the people of Indian-occupied Kashmir and help resolve the long-standing dispute of Kashmir.

The prime minister discussed the Kashmir situation during a meeting with UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in New York.

According to a statement issued by the Prime Minister's Office, the premier commended Guterres "for his clear articulation of the UN position on Kashmir dispute".

The prime minister briefed him on the curfew and communications blackout imposed in Kashmir which have now been in place for 54 days, saying such "draconian lock-down" had no parallel in recent history.

Stressing the need for the restrictions to be lifted immediately, Prime Minister Imran once again conveyed Pakistan’s rejection of India's illegal and unilateral actions of August 5 — through which it revoked occupied Kashmir's special autonomy — saying these were in clear violation of UN Security Council resolutions.

He underlined that India’s recent actions represented "a new chapter of intensified human rights abuses" and noted that the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights had comprehensively documented previous human rights violations by India in Kashmir.

"The prime minister highlighted the risks to regional peace and security that arose from India’s illegal and irresponsible actions," the statement said, adding that he underscored the responsibility of the UN and the world community to take steps to save lives in Kashmir.

The UN chief during the meeting reiterated his deep concern over the human rights and humanitarian situation in occupied Kashmir, the press release said.

Full report at:

https://www.dawn.com/news/1507709/in-meeting-with-un-chief-pm-imran-highlights-world-bodys-responsibility-to-help-resolve-kashmir

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Cross-border terrorist incidents reducing, says army chief

September 28, 2019

RAWALPINDI: Chief of the Army Staff (COAS) Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa on Friday visited Miramshah and interacted with tribal elders from North and South Waziristan tribal districts.

According to a press release issued by the Inter-Services Public Relations, the COAS said that cross-border terrorist incidents were gradually reducing due to solidification of Pak-Afghan border through fencing and other measures. However, he added, an enduring peace inside Pakistan was linked to peace in Afghanistan for which Pakistan is playing its role.

The COAS said “Afghanistan is our brotherly Muslim neighbour and we wish peace in Afghanistan as much for Pakistan”. He urged tribal elders to continue playing their role in guiding the youth. “Combination of experience & wisdom of elders with energy and talent of the youth is recipe for success.”

Referring to a few IED incidents in recent past, the COAS asked the elders to stay alert and watchful against those who are working for inimical forces.

He said security forces would continue taking action against anti-peace elements and during their actions they would ensure that peaceful citizens were not harmed. With the cooperation of people terrorists would be defeated, he added.

The tribal elders assured the COAS that they would continue supporting security forces in maintaining peace in tribal areas.

They requested the COAS for the speedy completion of ongoing projects and also called for some new projects.

Full report at:

https://www.dawn.com/news/1507771/cross-border-terrorist-incidents-reducing-says-army-chief

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Opposition can jolt PTI govt but they won’t for the sake of democracy: Chandio

September 28, 2019

HYDERABAD: Pakistan Peo­ples Party’s information secretary Maula Bux Chandio has said that PPP and the rest of opposition parties can easily jolt the federal government but his party does not believe in undermining democracy.

Mr Chandio said at the party’s social media workers’ convention at the local press club on Friday that Prime Minister Imran Khan must step down voluntarily as he had failed to ensure good governance in the country.

Those who were trying to save the present government must decide whether they wanted to safeguard Pakistan’s integrity or serve one individual’s whims, he said.

He said that it was sad to see that prime minister and his federal cabinet did not know how to talk in public even after over a year in government and quoted a statement attributed to a federal minister about earthquake.

If PPP had termed the quake one of the achievements of its government, all religious parties would have taken to the streets by now, he said.

He said that the prime minister’s startling disclosures in America about Al Qaeda and Taliban were in fact vindicating Indian claims. No one had any idea how Pakistan would get rid of the “scandalous revelations” and be able to raise Kashmir issue, he said, adding that thousands of Pakistanis had lost their lives due to the violence of Al Qaeda and Taliban.

He advised the prime minister to refrain from discussing such sensitive issues since he lacked finesse to handle them. The prime minister should rather be talking about price hike.

He said that as long as the prime minister enjoyed support of his “protectors”, he would rule but all the forces that were protecting him must decide for how long they would keep appeasing the prime minister’s whims.

Mr Chandio accused PTI government of having bargained over Kashmir and withdrawn from its stance. The government was befooling people as it should not have accepted mediation offer of the United States because America was openly supporting India, he said. He said that American president’s body language while meeting Indian and Pakistani prime ministers was self-evident and it was a matter of shame for the country. Pakistan government could not even get a resolution adopted over Kashmir with the help of its friends yet it had the cheek to talk about arbitration between Saudi Arabia and Iran, he said.

He said the prime minister should only try to run the government to provide relief to people as the federal ministers had stopped discussing government’s performance in TV talk shows and they had stopped taking pride in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government because of poor show.

Mr Chandio said that people had been fed up with this government and they were losing patience. Whenever the PPP leaders discussed government’s performance, the ruling party raised issues of Tharparkar although the government representatives had not even seen Thar in their dreams, he said.

Full report at:

https://www.dawn.com/news/1507692/opposition-can-jolt-pti-govt-but-they-wont-for-the-sake-of-democracy-chandio

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Pakistan to host next SAARC summit, says Qureshi

September 18, 2019

NEW YORK: Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi Thursday said the member countries of South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) had unanimously decided to hold the next summit level meeting in Islamabad.

According to FM Qureshi, Prime Minister Imran Khan would chair the next SAARC summit to be held on mutually convenient dates as proposed by Pakistan.

He said all the member states, except India, agreed to hold the next summit level meeting in Pakistan. The decision was taken in a ministerial level meeting of the SAARC countries held here on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly session, which was also attended by the minister.

Qureshi said he proposed the SAARC member countries that the summit level meeting was essential if they really wanted to exploit the region’s true potential in tourism, economy and other sectors, and discuss their disputes.

The minister said the last the summit was scheduled to be held in Islamabad in 2016, which could not be held due to Indian objections. However, India this time remained silent in that regard, he added. He said the SAARC is a forum where the regional countries could discuss disputes and find out their solutions.

Full report at:

https://www.pakistantoday.com.pk/2019/09/27/pakistan-to-host-next-saarc-summit-says-qureshi/

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NA body wants Mufti Muneeb sacked over irresponsible Yazid remarks

September 28, 2019

ISLAMABAD: The National Assembly Standing Committee on Religious Affairs and Interfaith Harmony on Friday demanded the removal of Central Ruet-e-Hilal Committee (RHC) Chairman Mufti Muneebur Rehman from the coveted post owing to his irresponsible remarks about Yazid ibn Muawiya.

The meeting chaired by Maulana Asad Mehmood expressed its indignation and dismay over the remarks of Mufti Muneeb which went viral on social media.

Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) MNA and committee member Shugafta Jumani strongly condemned Mufti Muneeb’s remarks and demanded strict action against him.

Minister for Religious Affairs and Interfiath Harmony Sahibzada Noorul Haq Qadri said that the concerns of the committee members would be conveyed to Mufti Muneeb.

It is worth mentioning here that a few days ago, a video clip from a television show went viral on social media, wherein Mufti Muneeb was seen defending Yazid. The cleric claimed that according to his research, Yazid did not order the killing of Imam Hussain (AS) rather it was Ubayd Allah ibn Ziyad, the governor of Kufa, who ordered the killing on his own accord.

Meanwhile, the committee sought the details of hardship quota distributed during Hajj 2019. The committee also sought details about the distribution 2,000 pilgrims’ quota to some parliamentarians during Hajj 2019.

Full report at:

https://www.pakistantoday.com.pk/2019/09/27/na-body-wants-mufti-muneeb-sacked-over-irresponsible-yazid-remarks/

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South Asia

 

Airstrikes kill 48 Taliban militants in 5 provinces

28 Sep 2019

A series of airstrikes in five provinces killed at least 48 Taliban militants and destroyed multiple a cache of weapons.

The military officials said Saturday an airstrike in Chimtal district of Balkh killed 12 Taliban militants and destroyed a cache of weapons.

The officials further added that a similar airstrike in Dara-ye-Suf-e Pa’in of Samangan killed 10 Taliban militants.

Furthermore, the security forces conducted airstrikes in Khas Uruzgan district of Uruzgan province killing 10 Taliban militants and wounding another militant.

An airstrike in Dzadran district of Paktiya killed 8 Taliban militants, the officials said, adding that a similar air raid in Pashtun-Kot district of Faryab killed 8 Taliban militants.

https://www.khaama.com/airstrikes-kill-48-taliban-militants-in-5-provinces-04142/

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Two Rohingya killed in gun battle with Bangladesh border guards

Sep 27, 2019

COX'S BAZAAR: Two Rohingya refugees were killed in a gun battle with Bangladeshi border guards as they tried to cross into Bangladesh from Myanmar on Friday, officials said.

More than 730,000 Rohingya refugees live in Bangladesh, having fled persecution in neighbouring Myanmar where security forces are accused of carrying out killings, gang rape and arson in a crackdown after attacks on police posts by Rohingya insurgents in August 2017.

Bangladesh is hosting refugees in cramped conditions in camps in the border district of Cox's Bazar, but wants to move them to a remote island in the Bay of Bengal, citing monsoons and an increasingly deteriorating law and order situation fueled by drug smuggling.

Mohammad Faisal Hasan Khan, the commanding officer of the Border Guard Bangladesh (BGB) in the Teknaf sub-district of Cox's Bazar, said that in early hours on Friday a group of Rohingya were crossing a river on the border by boat when border guards challenged them and asked them to surrender.

"But instead of surrendering they responded with fire arms," Hasan said.

"When attack and counter attack stopped the BGB members went to the spot and found two Rohingya laid down on the ground with bullet (wounds)," he told Reuters.

They were pronounced dead on arrival at a local hospital. The BGB said it recovered 70,000 methamphetamine tablets, known locally as Yaba, along with a rifle and bullets, from the bodies.

Iqbal Hossain, additional police superintendent in the Cox's Bazar district, said that 44 Rohingya have been killed in gunfights with law enforcement agencies from January to date.

"All of them were engaged with drug peddling, robbery, human trafficking and arms trade," Hossain told Reuters.

"In recent months a section of Rohingya are getting involved in crimes and out of them some were killed in gunfights with law enforcement agencies."

Prodeep Kumar Das, officer in charge of Teknaf police station, told Reuters that several police officers have been injured in gun battles with refugees.

Rohingya rights groups say they want the killings investigated.

Full report at:

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/south-asia/two-rohingya-killed-in-gun-battle-with-bangladesh-border-guards/articleshow/71326165.cms

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Taliban worries loom as Afghanistan prepares to vote for a president

September 28, 2019

KABUL: Millions of Afghans are expected to brave the threat of militant attacks to vote in a presidential election on Saturday, hoping to prevent a repeat of a bitter, fraud-marred and ultimately unresolved poll in 2014.

About a dozen candidates are in the fray for the presidency but the incumbent President Ashraf Ghani and his chief executive Abdullah Abdullah are the top contenders for the job at a time when Taliban insurgents have intensified attacks.

The 70-year-old Ghani and Abdullah, 59, have ruled through a fractured power-sharing arrangement since 2014, their forces fighting against the Taliban even as the rebels held peace talks with the United States that were later abandoned.

The Taliban hold more territory now than at any time since 2001 when their regime was overthrown by a US-led invasion.

“People of Afghanistan will defend their free and fair votes. I know Afghans will protect democracy,” Ghani said at an election rally, adding the hardline Islamist group was unable to defeat the Afghan people’s inherent spirit of freedom and desire for progress.

However, more than 170 civilians have been killed and more than 300 wounded in attacks involving the Taliban in the run-up to the election.

“Stay away from polling stations on election day,” the Taliban warned in their latest statement.

On Friday, a Taliban spokesman said in a statement that the group had captured the Darah Sof Payan district of northern Samangan province, another sign of the growing strength of the insurgency.

Despite decades of war, 9.67 million Afghans were registered to vote in 2019 out of a population estimated at 34 million.

To fight the militants, the country will deploy more than 100,000 members of the security forces, according to two senior security officials in Kabul.

The Afghan government allocated $90 million and international donors have given $59 million to conduct elections across 34 provinces, but hundreds of polling stations in schools and mosques are likely to remain closed following Taliban threats.

Ghani’s rival, Abdullah, has accused the president of abuse of power and using government resources in his election campaign.

Abdullah said he feared the outcome could be skewed by voter fraud and that would threaten the country’s unstable democracy.

“He (Ghani) has been a hurdle, an obstacle towards peace. This person is not suitable for the job,” he told Reuters on Thursday.

If there are “massively fraudulent elections, and somebody is announced as a winner, this will not be accepted,” he added.

Western and Asian diplomats in Kabul said the fear of Taliban violence has sapped enthusiasm for the vote, with some expecting a record low turnout.

Full report at:

https://www.dawn.com/news/1507764/taliban-worries-loom-as-afghanistan-prepares-to-vote-for-a-president

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Bangladesh seeks accountability for Rohingya atrocities

Md. Kamruzzaman  

28.09.2019

DHAKA, Bangladesh

Bangladesh’s leader appealed to UN member states Friday to ensure that those in Myanmar who are committing human rights violations against Rohingya Muslims are held accountable.

“The international community must ensure accountability for human rights violations and atrocities perpetrated against Rohingya in Rakhine state,” said Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina while addressing the 74th UN General Assembly in New York.

Terming the Rohingya crisis Myanmar’s internal issue, she added: “Myanmar must manifest a clear political will for the safe, sustainable and dignified return of Rohingya.”

As in previous years, Hasina delivered the statement in Bangla and submitted a four-point proposal to solve the Rohingya crisis and speed up the repatriation process of the persecuted people.

The proposal also includes repealing the 1982 Citizenship Act of Myanmar which disqualified Rohingya as citizens of the country so that they feel confident to return home.

Hasina also proposed that the authorities in Myanmar arrange a tour for representatives of the Rohingya to Rakhine state so they can assess whether they would agree to return. She said without the presence of international representatives, the Rohingya would be afraid to accompany the Myanmar authorities out of fear for their safety.

Expressing concern that Rohingya refugees have remained in Bangladesh for more than two years following the August 2017 crackdown by Myanmar’s military that prompted 750,000 Rohingya to flee to Bangladesh, with their numbers now reaching more than 1.1 million, Hasina blamed Myanmar for failing to create a conducive environment there.

“Until now, not a single Rohingya has returned to their home country due to Myanmar’s failure to develop a secure and sound environment in Rakhine state,” she added.

According to Amnesty International, more than 750,000 Rohingya refugees, mostly women and children, have fled Myanmar and crossed into Bangladesh after Myanmar forces launched a crackdown on the minority Muslim community in August 2017.

Since Aug. 25, 2017, nearly 24,000 Rohingya Muslims have been killed, more than 34,000 were thrown into fires and over 114,000 others were beaten by Myanmar’s state forces, according to a report by the Ontario International Development Agency (OIDA).

Full report at:

https://www.aa.com.tr/en/asia-pacific/bangladesh-seeks-accountability-for-rohingya-atrocities/1596418

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Bangladesh: March in solidarity with Kashmir

SEPTEMBER 28, 2019

DHAKA: People marched in the Bangladeshi capital Dhaka on Friday demanding an end to the curfew-like situation in Indian Occupied Kashmir (IOK).

The group – called Kashmir Solidarity Council Bangladesh (KSCB) – gathered in Maghbazar neighborhood of the city and took out a procession following the Friday prayer.

Demanding restoration of the decades-old special constitutional status for the people of IOK, they called on the Indian government to stop the persecution of the Muslim-majority region.

“Without holding a referendum as recommended by the resolution of the United Nations, peace cannot be established in Kashmir,” Mufti Habibur Rahman, KSCB central leader, said at the rally.

Terming the Kashmir crisis as an international issue, he added that India had changed its stance on the referendum for the fear of losing the vote.

“They [India] are now applying the path of tyranny against Kashmiri people to deprive them from their legitimate rights”.

From 1954 until Aug. 5, 2019, IOK had special status under the provision of Article 370 of the Indian Constitution. The provisions also protected the region’s citizenship law, which barred outsiders from settling in and owning land in the territory.

The Hindu nationalist BJP government of India suddenly withdrew this special provision last August, claiming it was hindering development in the region.

Expressing skepticism to the claim, Rahman added: “In the last seven decades India has killed thousands of Muslims in the occupied valley and raped a number of women.”

Full report at:

https://dailytimes.com.pk/474497/bangladesh-march-in-solidarity-with-kashmir/

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Special Forces kill, detain 8 Taliban and ISIS militant; destroy caches of weapons in 4 provinces

27 Sep 2019

The Afghan Special Forces killed 7 Taliban militants, detained an ISIS fighter and destroyed caches of weapons in four provinces including Kabul.

The military officials said Friday the Special Forces killed 7 Taliban militants in Baraki Barak district of Logar.

The officials further added that the Special Forces also destroyed a large cache of weapons during the same operation.

Furthermore, the Special Forces arrested an ISIS militant during a patrol in Rodat district of Nangarhar and destroyed a cache of weapons.

Full report at:

https://www.khaama.com/special-forces-kill-detain-8-taliban-and-isis-militant-destroy-caches-of-weapons-in-4-provinces-04138/

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Taliban and Fraud are the only two enemies of democracy: Nabil

28 Sep 2019

Presidential runner Rahmatullah Nabil said Taliban and fraud are the only enemies of democracy as he urged the people to prevent fraud in elections.

Speaking to reports after casting his votes in Kabul, Nabil said the process of democracy has two enemies, one is Taliban and the other one is fraud.

He urged the people to assist in preventing fraud in elections process.

The voting process is underway in various parts of the country amid tight security and reports of irregularities in various sites, including irregular lists of voters, malfunctioning of biometrics system.

Full report at:

https://www.khaama.com/taliban-and-fraud-are-the-only-two-enemies-of-democracy-nabil-04143/

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Arab World

 

Saudi judiciary preserves human rights, says minister

September 28, 2019

MINSK: Saudi Justice Minister Dr. Walid Al-Samaani has said that the Saudi judiciary preserves and protects human rights, during a visit to the Economic Court and the Supreme Court in Minsk, Belarus.

Al-Samaani met the chairman of the Supreme Court, Valentin Sukalo, and judicial officials, during the visit.

“There are numerous Saudi laws that protect human rights, such as the Basic Law of Governance that stresses the state’s responsibility to preserve these rights and the judicial procedures that constantly stipulate the rights of the parties to the case at all stages,” Al-Samaani said.

“Judicial guarantees adopted by the Saudi judiciary focus on the right of everyone to litigation that ensures equality between the parties to the case during hearings, in addition to preserving the dignity of the accused.”

“The Kingdom’s judicial system, due to King Salman’s and the crown prince’s support, witnessed the launching and implementation of many initiatives and projects that contributed to the development of Saudi justice and made qualitative leaps in all judicial areas,” he said.

Al-Samaani said that the Basic Law of Governance established high standards and noble principles governing the Kingdom’s criminal justice system. “These standards and principles protect values, maintain security, preserve the rights of the parish and achieve social serenity,” he said.

“The Saudi judiciary applies fair trial standards, preserves the rights and balances between protecting society’s interest and achieving justice.”

Al-Samaani showcased the Saudi courts’ specializations and degrees, pointing out that “the Saudi Supreme Court adopts the judiciary’s general principles and rules. It also reviews some types of verdicts and decisions issued or endorsed by the courts of appeal. Saudis may also appeal to the Supreme Court in cases specified by the regulations.”

This visit comes within the framework of the memorandum of understanding signed between the two countries’ ministries of justice last year. It aims to promote international partnerships, benefit from international judicial experiences, exchange expertise and cooperate in the provision of judicial and legal assistance and train human resources to implement the best judicial and legal practices.

https://www.arabnews.com/node/1560851/saudi-arabia

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Idlib: US, NATO Weapons Found in Terrorists' Underground Base

Sep 27, 2019

The Arabic-language Sputnik news agency quoted a Syrian military source as saying that the Syrian Army troops discovered an underground military network of bases in al-Latameneh region which contained a main base for the deployment of about 5,000 terrorists.

It pointed to the terrorists’ attempts to launch attacks on the Syrian Army over the past four years by using foreign military equipment, and said that the government forces discovered US-made missiles, weapons and rifles made in NATO member countries.

The Syrian military sources also said that the Syrian Army also discovered a workshop used for manufacturing drones and also found several drones equipped with bombs for attacking the Syrian Army’s military units.

In a relevant development last Friday, the Syrian Army troops found one of the biggest and most equipped military bases of the White Helmet terrorists in Khan Sheikhoun in Southern Idlib, the Arabic-language media outlets said.

The Arabic-language channel of Russia Today quoted a Syrian Army commander Abdolkarim Mayhob as saying that the Syrian Army troops found a very equipped and engineered underground base used by White Helmets to achieve their military goals.

Mahyoub also reiterated that the military base was not only considered for stationing 3,500 terrorists, but it was also equipped with studios that White Helmets used to make false-flag videos on alleged chemical attacks on Syrian citizens by the Syrian Army.

Full report at:

https://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13980705000297

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Saudi Arabia pledges $50 mln to UN Palestinian refugee agency

28 September 2019

Saudi Arabia pledged $50 million in aid on Thursday to the UN agency for Palestinian refugees (UNRWA), the Kingdom’s Foreign Minister Ibrahim al-Assaf announced in a meeting with the agency’s Commissioner-General Pierre Krahenbuhl on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly.

Al-Assaf affirmed Saudi Arabia’s continued political and financial support of UNRWA, according to a statement released by the agency.

The announcement comes almost a year after the Kingdom made another $50 million donation to the UNRWA program budget, and in addition to the country’s contributions to UNRWA infrastructure projects across the agency’s five areas of operations.

“The renewed and generous donation by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is of great significance to our Agency. Throughout the summer, as we prepared for the opening of the new scholastic year, we rehabilitated dozens of UNRWA schools with Saudi funding,” Krahenbuhl said in a statement.

Full report at:

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/gulf/2019/09/28/Saudi-Arabia-pledges-50-mln-to-UN-Palestinian-refugee-agency.html

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Saudi Arabia presents $500m to UN for its agencies in Yemen

September 27, 2019

NEW YORK: The general supervisor of the King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Center (KSRelief) Abdullah Al-Rabeeah, presented Mark Lowcock, under-secretary-general for humanitarian affairs and emergency relief coordinator for the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), with a cheque for $500 million from Saudi Arabia to fund the 2019 Yemen Humanitarian Response Plan on Wednesday.

The signing ceremony took place at the opening of a conference titled “Humanitarian Situation Yemen, The Way Forward,” which featured statements from a number of UN officials and diplomats, including foreign ministers from Saudi Arabia and Yemen.

Lowcock said the grant will be distributed by OCHA to the World Food Programme, the World Health Organization, the UN Children’s Fund, the International Organization for Migration, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, the UN Development Programme, and the Food and Agriculture Organization “to support essential priorities in the Yemen Humanitarian Response.”

Officials present for the signing included the UN Secretary-General António Guterres, Saudi Minister of Foreign Affairs Ibrahim Al-Assaf, Saudi Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Adel Al-Jubeir, Saudi Ambassador to the US Reema bint Bandar bin Sultan, the Kingdom’s permanent representative to the UN Abdallah Al-Mouallimi and the secretary-general of the Organization for Islamic Cooperation, Dr. Yousef Al-Othaimeen.

Following the signing, Lowcock expressed his appreciation for the Kingdom’s generous support: “With today’s provision of funds from Saudi Arabia, the Yemen Humanitarian Response Plan will have received more than $2.3 billion, or 56 percent of its requirements for the year. This is substantial progress, and we thank all our donors for their support.”

Al-Rabeeah added his remarks on the goals of KSRelief’s strong partnership with the UN. “The King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Center commends the efforts of the UN organizations, which share our commitment to alleviating the suffering of the people of Yemen in accordance with international humanitarian laws and principles of neutrality. I assure you that Saudi Arabia is keen to support all peace initiatives submitted by the UN envoys to Yemen.

Full report at:

https://www.arabnews.com/node/1560661/saudi-arabia

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As tensions boil in the Persian Gulf, Iraq seeks to rein in Iran-aligned militias

By Louisa Loveluck and Mustafa Salim

September 27, 2019

BAGHDAD — Escalating tensions between the United States and Iran have raised the prospect that Iraq could again became the terrain on which these two powers pursue their shadow war and a staging ground for attacks on American and allied forces in the region.

But recent developments suggest that the government in Baghdad is trying to clip the wings of the powerful Iran-aligned militias operating in Iraq, just as Tehran is looking for its proxies and allies in the Middle East to intensify the pressure on U.S. interests.

Iraqi officials are worried that their country could get sucked into the conflict, with concerns spiking after a May 14 drone strike on a pipeline in neighboring Saudi Arabia. The officials were embarrassed to learn that the attack had not come from Iran-backed rebels in Yemen, who had claimed responsibility for the strike, but from Iraqi territory, said lawmakers and Western officials who described the fallout.

“The prime minister was very angry,” said one lawmaker, speaking on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue.

A tense meeting followed between Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi and Faleh al-Fayyadh, chairman of the coalition of mostly Shiite Muslim paramilitaries, some aligned with Iran, known as the Popular Mobilization Forces, according to several people familiar with the meeting.

Abdul Mahdi demanded, “Take care of it,” one of those people said.

After a devastating attack two weeks ago on oil installations in eastern Saudi Arabia by a combination of drones and cruise missiles, again claimed by Yemeni rebels, U.S. officials quickly blamed Iran for the strike. It was notable that U.S. and Iraqi officials said they were relatively confident that this time the staging ground was not Iraq.

“Notice the confidence,” said the Iraqi lawmaker. “The prime minister immediately issued a statement denying it had come from Iraq. Unlike the earlier strike, where he faced embarrassment, this time he was sure.”

The backlash against the earlier attack “made it uncomfortable for the [militias] to do it again,” said Michael Knights, a senior fellow at the Washington Institute. “Iraq dodged a bullet here, and it wasn’t luck. It was because a spotlight got shone on the May 14 strike.”

Iraqi lawmakers fear that attacks launched from their soil would not only inflame regional tensions but could provoke reprisals against targets inside their country, drawing Iraq into another ruinous conflict. As the head of a divided government, Abdul Mahdi’s hand remains weak.

In a sign of Baghdad’s delicate diplomacy, Iraqi President Barham Salih met separately this week in New York with President Trump and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani.

Abdul Mahdi, meanwhile, was received by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in Riyadh to discuss this month’s attacks on the oil installations.

In comments made alongside Trump, Salih described efforts to bring the country’s paramilitaries to heel as a “work in progress.”

Militiamen from the PMF still operate with relative autonomy across much of Iraq. A July 31 deadline for their formal incorporation into the Iraqi army has been extended, with patchy results.

“It’s not just a military organization. It’s also a political, social and economic network, and you can’t just integrate that easily,” said Renad Mansour, a research fellow at the London-based Chatham House think tank.

But for the PMF, known in Arabic as the Hashd, there are also advantages to becoming part of Iraq’s official security forces. That status can legitimize the power of groups within the paramilitary coalition. It also “gives formal cover,” Mansour said. “It gives groups the chance to operate without being attacked from outside.”

The Iranian-backed militias played a pivotal role in ousting the Islamic State from Iraq two years ago. But in the years after the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in 2003, Iran also sponsored militia violence against American troops, flooding the country with powerful roadside bombs that killed hundreds.

In recent months, elements within the PMF have repeatedly been blamed for rocket attacks on U.S. forces and their Iraqi allies, with crude projectiles striking the area of military bases. Early Tuesday, one rocket landed inside the sprawling U.S. Embassy complex in Baghdad’s Green Zone and another nearby in an empty lot.

The purpose of these strikes, experts say, was to harass but not provoke. They were meant as reminders that the militias have the ability to launch more-damaging strikes in the event of escalation.

The broader regional tensions have also aggravated divisions within the PMF’s leadership.

After suspected Israeli airstrikes this summer targeted militia bases, the PMF’s powerful deputy leader, Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, who is close to parts of the Iranian establishment, explicitly blamed both the United States and Israel. Fayyadh disputed that accusation, saying Muhandis didn’t speak for the paramilitary coalition.

Full report at:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/middle_east/as-tensions-boil-in-the-persian-gulf-iraq-seeks-to-rein-in-iran-aligned-militias/2019/09/26/e363075a-d94c-11e9-adff-79254db7f766_story.html

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SDF, coalition crack down on Islamic State remnants in Syria

Lamar Erkendi

September 26, 2019

DEIR EZ-ZOR, Syria — Backed by the US-led international coalition, the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) are conducting near-daily air raids against Islamic State (IS) cells, which in turn carry out assassinations and bombings against the SDF and civilians who collaborate with it in the northern and eastern provinces of Raqqa, Deir ez-Zor and Hasakah.

IS sleeper cells have hung leaflets on the gates of mosques, vowing to punish those who cooperate with the SDF. The war on IS is supposed to be over, but the battles are far from finished; September has provided numerous examples of this.

On Sept. 24, the Institute for the Study of War warned that IS "is preparing to free its loyal fighters and followers from prisons and displacement camps across Syria and Iraq." ISW referred to IS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi's call Sept. 16 for his supporters to practice jihad, stressing the need to liberate his fighters and their families held by the SDF. Baghdadi ordered his fighters to target security people, investigators and judges at prisons where other IS fighters are held.

Meanwhile, the SDF said in a Sept. 21 statement that it had arrested three people suspected of being part of an IS cell responsible for the assassination of Legislative Council co-Chairman Marwan al-Fateh last year. IS was also blamed for a Sept. 17 explosion at a Kurdish security building in Diban, though no casualties were reported. Also that day, an official in the SDF's Deir ez-Zor military council and three of his bodyguards were injured after an explosive device planted in his car by unknown individuals went off near al-Omer oil field.

A military source in the SDF told Al-Monitor on condition of anonymity, “The unknown individuals are in IS cells that are very active, especially in the countryside of Deir ez-Zor. They mostly hide among civilians as ordinary people, making it easier for them to move around and plant explosive devices, which they often make themselves.”

The source added that IS recruits women in a significant way. “Most IS cells are made up of women who are hiding under the niqab and loose black clothes, which make it easier for them to transport and plant explosive devices and slip away among people without raising suspicions,” he added.

Earlier in the month, the SDF's media center said anti-terrorist units had killed three prominent IS officials: one was a senior security official known as Abu Harith al-Iraqi; one was in charge of assassination operations in Iraq and had responsibilities for Syrian-Iraqi border security; and a third was a security commander of the Iraqi province of Diyala in 2013.

The media center confirmed the cell had been holed up inside a tunnel north of al-Shadadi.

The military source said, “Those security officials resisted for several hours after their hideout was surrounded and didn't surrender until they were killed inside the tunnel, which was heavily fortified.”

The source said the SDF has arrested a large number of senior IS leaders in Raqqa and Deir ez-Zor, including Abdel Fattah Juma al-Abs, who was an IS security official in Deir ez-Zor; former IS leader Turki Mukhlif al-Rafdan (nicknamed Abu Harsha); and his son, Yasser al-Rafdan, in al-Horeiji. Earlier, the SDF killed top IS oil official Thabit Sobhi Fahad during an operation carried out in coordination with the international coalition in the village of Abu Hamam.

As the SDF intensifies its crackdown against IS cells and leaders, SDF military commander Mazloum Abdi warned in a Sept. 7 interview with CNN about the expansion of IS in Syria, especially in border areas, deserts and areas controlled by the Syrian regime west of the Euphrates River. He stressed the risk of IS returning and controlling eastern and northeastern areas of Syria, and he demanded that Washington and the international coalition provide more military and financial support for the fight.

Abdi also called on the governments of foreign IS militants held by the SDF to provide for the militants' forced return to their countries of origin or to establish an international tribunal east of the Euphrates to prosecute the fighters, as their presence remains a threat to the entire region.

Full report at:

https://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2019/09/syria-deir-ez-zor-sdf-islamic-state-assassinations.html

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Amal Clooney addresses diplomats at the United Nations over plans to put 20,000 ISIS fighters on trial in Iraq

26 September 2019

Amal Clooney appeared at the United Nations in New York for the second time this week on Thursday.

The human rights lawyer addressed a meeting of high-level officials from 20 countries who convened to discuss placing ISIS fighters on trial in Iraq.

Clooney sat next to Dutch Foreign Minister Stef Blok, who has taken the initiative of setting up possible tribunals for some 20,000 ISIS members.

Blok is working alongside his Iraqi counterpart, Ali Alhakim, who helped organize a meeting that included diplomats from 20 countries, according to the Dutch news site NRC.

There are an estimated 20,000 ISIS fighters in Iraq - 1,000 of them being foreigners from European and other Western countries.

Clooney, the wife of actor George Clooney, was also scheduled to address the officials on Thursday.

For years, Amal Clooney has represented ethnic Yazidi women who were taken captive and forced into sexual slavery by ISIS.

Yazidis are a minority community in Iraq who were recognized by the UN as victims of genocide by ISIS.

Clooney represents Yazidi women and girls who were held in the house of Umm Sayyaf, the wife of Islamic State financier Abu Sayyaf.

Kayla Mueller, an American humanitarian aid worker, was also held there for a time. In February 2015, reports surfaced indicating that she had been killed while in ISIS captivity.

Amal Clooney has long advocated that ISIS fighters and officials responsible for crimes against Yazidi women and girls be brought to trial.

Clooney also made an appearance at the UN on Tuesday to speak out about press freedoms.

The 41-year-old lawyer told a panel that journalists worldwide faced danger in countries with unstable political climates.

‘Our research targets laws being used every day to punish journalists for their work,’ Clooney said.

‘Laws like criminal libel, vague or overboard hate speech laws, so-called fake news laws, and laws that muzzle the media by imposing arbitrary conditions on ownership, accreditation and funding.’

Though she didn’t mention Donald Trump by name, Clooney indirectly slammed the president for his attacks on the press, whom he calls ‘fake news.’

Full report at:

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-7509431/Amal-Clooney-talks-diplomats-United-Nations-putting-ISIS-fighters-trial-Iraq.html

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Egypt Calls for Holding Erdogan Accountable over Terrorism, Targeting of Kurds

26 September, 2019

In a sharp statement, Cairo made several accusations against Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, urging the international community to “hold him accountable” for what the Egyptian Foreign Ministry called “all of his crimes”.

The statement, released on Wednesday by Egypt’s foreign ministry spokesman, Ahmed Hafez, said that Erdogan was supporting terrorism, arming extremists and deliberately targeting the Kurds.

It also listed human rights violations in Turkey under Erdogan’s leadership, including thousands held as political prisoners, the suspicious deaths of dozens of detainees due to torture or inhuman prison conditions, and the closure of thousands of universities and educational institutions.

Hafez said that Erdogan “claimed to defend the values of justice in his speech, but at the core showed feelings of hatred and spite toward Egypt and its people who have nothing but appreciation for the people of Turkey.”

His remarks came in response to Erdogan’s speech during the UN General Assembly meetings, in which he raised doubts on Mohammed Morsi’s death in court last June.

Cairo and Ankara have reduced their diplomatic relations since 2013 because of the Turkish president’s position against the June 30 Revolution that toppled the rule of former Egyptian president Mohamed Morsi, after widespread public protests against his continued rule. In the wake of a number of statements that Egypt considered “hostile”, Cairo decided to withdraw its ambassador from Ankara and expel the Turkish ambassador.

Full report at:

https://aawsat.com/english/home/article/1919936/egypt-calls-holding-erdogan-accountable-over-terrorism-targeting-kurds

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Egyptian authorities warn they will ‘deal firmly with those who break the law’

27 September 2019

Egypt’s Ministry of Interior is raising the levels of the state of emergency in public and government areas, Al Arabiya’s correspondent reported citing a source.

The country’s Minister of Interior has also given direct instructions to “deal firmly with those who break the law.”

According to the source, Egyptian security services have arrested several members of the Muslim Brotherhood who planned to disrupt the economy and the stock market through demonstrations.

“The Muslim Brotherhood members were also working to withdraw large amounts of hard currency,” the source said.

Security forces have stepped up their presence in main squares across major cities in recent days.

Images of demonstrators gathering at Cairo’s Tahrir Square first surfaced on Friday night, followed by small protests in other Egyptian cities.

Full report at:

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2019/09/27/Egyptian-authorities-warn-they-will-deal-firmly-with-those-who-break-the-law-.html

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Mideast

 

As the White House Holds Back on Israeli-Palestinian Peace, Concerned Senators Step In

Amos Harel and Amir Tibon

Sep 26, 2019

Palestinian security forces in the West Bank this week arrested members of an Islamic Jihad squad that tried to build the infrastructure for manufacturing rockets. Three of the organization’s members were arrested in Tul Karm with a model of a homemade rocket in their possession.

This incident brings to light two truths that official Israeli and Palestinian Authority spokesmen prefer not to comment on publicly, in any detail. First, that the security coordination between the side continues to work well, despite political tensions, with the PA contributing in a meaningful way to Israeli security. Second, that without Israeli aid, there is a likely danger that the PA would collapse under the pressure being wielded by Hamas and Islamic Jihad. The rule of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas rests in large measure on Israel’s backing.

Only once in the past decade was that perception acknowledged openly by a senior Israeli figure. Gadi Shamni, at the time the head of Central Command, aroused the anger of the PA when he told the truth. Later, in 2014, Israel uncovered a network of almost 100 Hamas activists in the West Bank, who were aiming to carry out an ambitious plan to perpetrate extensive terrorist attacks against Israelis and to topple the PA. (According to foreign reports, when the Israelis displayed documentation from the interrogation of the network’s leader, Abbas toughened his attitude toward Hamas, just before the start of Operation Protective Edge.)

This incident brings to light two truths that official Israeli and Palestinian Authority spokesmen prefer not to comment on publicly, in any detail. First, that the security coordination between the side continues to work well, despite political tensions, with the PA contributing in a meaningful way to Israeli security. Second, that without Israeli aid, there is a likely danger that the PA would collapse under the pressure being wielded by Hamas and Islamic Jihad. The rule of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas rests in large measure on Israel’s backing.

Only once in the past decade was that perception acknowledged openly by a senior Israeli figure. Gadi Shamni, at the time the head of Central Command, aroused the anger of the PA when he told the truth. Later, in 2014, Israel uncovered a network of almost 100 Hamas activists in the West Bank, who were aiming to carry out an ambitious plan to perpetrate extensive terrorist attacks against Israelis and to topple the PA. (According to foreign reports, when the Israelis displayed documentation from the interrogation of the network’s leader, Abbas toughened his attitude toward Hamas, just before the start of Operation Protective Edge.)

The political crisis in Israel in the wake of the election has made it even less likely that the Trump administration will release its peace plan in the near future. Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law and adviser, had planned to spend these weeks after the vote in Israel in advanced preparations ahead of the plan’s publication. The last public opinion polls conducted before the election, which anticipated a very small gap between the parties that support the prime minister and those that oppose him, encouraged the White House to think the peace plan would be a post-election tie-breaker that would contribute to the establishment of a government in Jerusalem.

But in reality the results prompted the Americans to freeze their plans while they wait for the coalition picture to become clear. What they’re most wary of is revealing the plan during coalition talks, only to discover that their move changes nothing and also does not help to advance the peace process. The plan, which is already being ridiculed by many in Washington, would become a joke. So the White House prefers to wait for now and not be humiliated.

This is the third time in less than a year that Kushner and his team have postponed publicizing their plan because of the protracted political crisis in Israel. The first postponement occurred after an election was called last December, for April 9. The second came after Netanyahu failed to form a coalition after that vote. The White House is no longer committing itself to dates; this week, officials announced that “we will publish the plan at the most appropriate time.”

Irrespective of what happens in Jerusalem, Kushner is likely to be busy with another matter in the weeks ahead: the impeachment proceedings that were launched this week in Congress – the opening volley of the 2020 election campaign. Kushner is playing a key role in Trump’s re-election ampaign, and it’s not clear how much time, if any, he will have now to deal with Israeli-Palestinian issues. The person doing the team’s legwork at the moment is Avi Berkowitz, Kushner’s 30-year-old right-hand man, whose main experience is in dealing with the media.

In the absence of White House involvement, AIPAC went into action in an attempt to avert a deterioration in the security situation in Israel and the territories: Officials from the pro-Israel lobby in Washington were in contact with senators from both parties in recent weeks to ensure that U.S. aid to the PA’s security forces would be assured in the next budget – and those moves apparently had the quiet but emphatic support of senior security officials in Israel.

The Senate’s annual budget proposal, released this week, includes a $75-million allocation for the PA’s security units – double what the United States transferred to them in the previous year. Signing off on the proposal is Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham (South Carolina), who is known for his consistent support of Israel. Graham pushed for this significant allotment for the Palestinian forces despite attempts during the past year by right-wingers in the U.S. to end all American aid to the Palestinians – even at the cost of an economic and security debacle in the West Bank.

“In the past, it was administration officials who ensured this support, no matter whether it was a Democratic or a Republican administration,” a source in Congress who was involved in drawing up the draft budget told Haaretz. “This year, if it hadn’t been for senators who are familiar with the region and understand the importance of these forces in maintaining stability, it probably would not have been included in the budget.”

Graham is also pushing a separate bill, which has bipartisan support, to transfer $50 million to organizations that promote economic development as well as coexistence and cooperation between Israelis and Palestinians. This proposal, too, has the support of AIPAC and of leading American Jewish groups. The original plan was for the legislation to constitute a “supplementary factor” that would bolster Kushner’s peace plan. At the moment, it looks set to be the only expression of American commitment of any kind to advancing peaceful relations between the two peoples in the near future.

https://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/.premium-as-the-white-house-dawdles-on-israeli-palestinian-peace-concerned-senators-step-in-1.7913003

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Israeli Ambassador Danon: Don’t be fooled by Iran – Evil regime embraces terrorism, bloodshed and blackmail

By Danny Danon

September 28, 2019

The annual opening session of the United Nations General Assembly is replete with high-level notable moments.

In 1960, Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev banged his shoe on the table to interrupt British Prime Minister Harold Macmillan’s speech. In 1974, Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat infamously delivered his remarks with a gun holstered to his side, in violation of U.N. protocol and international decorum. In 2009, Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi ripped up the U.N. Charter.

And Wednesday Iranian President Hassan Rouhani spoke about creating a “Coalition of Hope” to guarantee stability and security in the Strait of Hormuz.

Rouhani’s suggestion that Iran will spearhead a multilateral organization comprised of the Gulf countries is a brazen attempt to persuade the international community that the Iranian regime is a sheep – not a wolf in sheep’s clothing. It indicates how foolish he believes the world is in viewing Tehran as the victim in the escalating conflict with the U.S. and Saudi Arabia.

For years, Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has trotted out his smiling and ecumenical puppet, Foreign Minister Javad Zarif, to lull the Iran nuclear deal signatories and the rest of the world into a false sense of security.

Khamenei bet that if Zarif was the face of Iran’s outreach his words would be taken at face value and no one would look at Iran’s actions. This strategy appeared to be paying off until the U.S. left the Iranian nuclear deal and imposed sanctions, exposing once again the true ambitions of the evil regime in Tehran.

Ignored in the negotiations that culminated in the nuclear deal was Iran’s vast network of terrorism. Iran funds terrorist organizations in Yemen, Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and the Gaza Strip to the tune of over $7 billion per year. These proxies, in turn, conduct operations around the world at the bidding of their Iranian patrons.

The threat Iran poses to the Middle East and the world is not just that of a nuclear-ambitious state with stated genocidal intentions, but also of the world’s greatest state sponsor of terrorism.

In recent weeks alone, Iran has demonstrated how it conducts its terror campaign. Indeed, these operations took place in the very region that Iran’s “Coalition of Hope” will supposedly protect: the Strait of Hormuz.

This strait is the most important transit point in the world, with over 20 percent of the global oil supply passing through this chokepoint. Keeping these waters open and secure is in the interest of every nation because the effects of any disruption in this narrow passageway affect every nation.

It is in this vital artery that Iran has harassed and attacked international shipping vessels. It is here that Iran launched an unprovoked attack against Saudi oil facilities, threatening the world’s energy supply.

Weeks later, Rouhani had the gall to take the podium at the largest international diplomatic gathering of the year and speak about Iran leading the charge to create the Hormuz Peace Endeavor. Iran’s duplicity knows no bounds.

Still, some leading European countries remain committed to appeasing Tehran. They are floating a $15 billion line of credit for Iran as a potential lifeline to ease the economic pressure and coax Tehran into staying in the nuclear agreement.

What these nations fail to realize, however, is that the Iranian danger is not simply a future one of potential nuclear capabilities. It is an immediate one of terrorism, bloodshed and blackmail. And despite their habit of feting Zarif at every opportunity and believing his silver tongue, it would be more important to pay attention to Khamenei’s actions.

Full report at:

https://www.foxnews.com/opinion/israeli-ambassador-danon-dont-be-fooled-by-iran-it-embraces-terrorism-bloodshed-and-blackmail

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EU warns Iran it could be forced to withdraw from nuclear deal

27 September 2019

The European Union privately warned Iran that it will be forced to withdraw from the 2015 nuclear deal if Tehran continues to breach the terms of the plan, The Guardian reported on Friday.

Britain, France and Germany had agreed to send the warning to Iran in a meeting on Wednesday, according to the paper reported. Iran has already taken three steps to reduce its compliance with a landmark 2015 nuclear deal. unless the remaining signatories find ways to shield its economy from US sanctions.

A UN nuclear watchdog report showed on Thursday that Iran committed a further breach of its nuclear deal with major powers by enriching uranium with advanced centrifuges, and plans to install more of those advanced machines than previously announced.

According to The Guardian’s report, the EU told Iran that they will would pull out of the nuclear deal if more significant cuts to the deal were made by Tehran.

Once the deal’s dispute mechanism is triggered, both the signatories and Iran will have 30 days to prove significant non-compliance.

Iran has repeatedly said it will ramp up its nuclear activities unless the European countries do more to protect its economy from the impact of the US sanctions.

President Donald Trump said in a tweet on Friday that the US would not be lifting the sanctions imposed on Tehran.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said in a speech to the UN General Assembly on Wednesday that Iran has “only heard beautiful words” from European countries.

Full report at:

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2019/09/27/EU-warns-Iran-it-could-be-forced-to-withdraw-from-nuclear-deal.html

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Israeli minister urges unity government to stave off ‘blow-up’ in Iran tensions

September 27, 2019

JERUSALEM: Israel’s energy minister on Friday warned tensions between Iran and the United States were reaching a breaking point and an Israeli unity government deal was needed to stave off the threat of conflict following an inconclusive election last week.

Washington has blamed Iran for a Sept. 14 attack on Saudi Arabia’s oil facilities, and on Thursday announced it would send radar systems and Patriot missiles to the kingdom to bolster its defenses. Iran denies carrying out the attack.

Yuval Steinitz, who is also a member of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s security cabinet, warned “we are on the verge of the Iran situation blowing up.”

“(The) chances of an American-Iranian or Saudi-Iranian blow-up, or a blow-up in the Gulf which, if it happens, is liable to reach us too, is something that is very, very tangible and realistic,” Steinitz told Tel Aviv radio station 102 FM on Friday.

Steinitz, a member of Netanyahu’s right-wing Likud party, said the potential for a wider conflict “is another reason for the need to hasten and form a broad unity government now, and not to be dragged into months of boycotts and discussions.”

On Wednesday, Netanyahu was tapped to try to form the next coalition government after garnering marginally more support from lawmakers than his centrist rival, Benny Gantz, in a Sept. 17 election.

Full report at:

https://www.arabnews.com/node/1560576/middle-east

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British-flagged tanker Stena Impero reaches international waters

27 September 2019

The British-flagged oil tanker Stena Impero which had been detained by Iran for over two months reached international waters on Friday, according to its Swedish owner.

The ship began moving from the Iranian port of Bandar Abbas toward international waters at 9 a.m. Iran time on Friday, the Ports and Maritime Organization of Iran said.

The judicial file on the vessel is still open and the process of looking into “violations” committed by the ship continues, the agency said in a statement.

The Stena Impero was detained by Iran’s Revolutionary Guards in the Strait of Hormuz waterway for alleged marine violations two weeks after Britain seized an Iranian tanker off the territory of Gibraltar. That vessel was released in August.

The Stena has set a new destination for Port Rashid in Dubai in the United Arab Emirates, about 250 km away, the tracking data showed. At normal tanker speed, it would reach within half a day.

Iran’s foreign ministry had said on Wednesday that a lifting of the detention order had been finalized, but that an investigation into the vessel was ongoing.

The ship’s owner, Stena Bulk of Sweden, later said it was not in negotiations with Iran and was not aware of any formal charges against the crew or the company.

Iran had earlier freed seven of the ship’s 23 crew members.

Iran’s seizure of the Stena Impero on July 19 had ratcheted up tensions in the region following attacks in May and June on other merchant vessels in Gulf waters which Washington blamed on Tehran. Iran has denied responsibility.

Full report at:

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/world/2019/09/27/UK-flagged-tanker-detained-by-Iran-exits-Bandar-Abbas-port.html

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EU threatens to withdraw from JCPOA

Sep 28, 2019

European leaders have threatened to start withdrawing from the Iran nuclear deal in November if Tehran does not return to full compliance.

President Donald Trump withdrew the US from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) in May 2018, and has since reinstated old sanctions and imposed new ones on Tehran in the hope of crippling its economy and forcing it into falling in line.

Since then, Europe says it has strived to preserve the deal, setting up a financial mechanism called INSTEX to help Iran circumvent US sanctions. But in reality not much has been achieved. Trade with Iran has not surged via INSTEX, and Europe has not stood up to the US over its illegal sanctions and unceremonious withdrawal from the historic deal. And yet Iran is the signatory being asked to cooperate.

Three separate steps have been taken so far by Iran and the fourth is scheduled for November. Tehran wants the US sanctions to be lifted, but as pressure on the Iranian people increases with inflation skyrocketing and vital goods and medicines becoming increasingly scarce, the government is losing patience.

This past week European leaders tried to orchestrate a meeting between Trump and Rouhani at the UN General Assembly. Macron told Rouhani it was an opportunity he shouldn’t miss, but Iran’s president was candid.

Full report at:

https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2019/09/28/607299/European-Union-JCPOA

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Europeans admit they didn’t know who attacked Saudi oil refineries: Rouhani

Sep 27, 2019

Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani says the Europeans, who had blamed Iran for the recent attacks on Saudi oil facilities, have told him they did not know who was really behind the raid.

Speaking on Friday upon arrival in Tehran after a visit to New York, Rouhani said during the trip he questioned some European leaders about their recent anti-Iran statement, in which they had somehow claimed Iran was responsible for the attacks on Aramco facilities.

“I asked them on what basis and evidence they were making such an allegation against Iran. I frankly and firmly told them to send me the evidence as I needed it,” Rouhani said.

“They replied based on the investigations conducted by their experts, the capabilities of Yemenis, or as they say the Houthis, are less than [what required for] this operation,” he added.

“I said alright, let’s suppose they were not that much capable. Then who did it? They said they didn’t know, but the attack had been launched from the north and the west” of Yemen, Rouhani said.

Rouhani said he questioned the logic of the Europeans’ argument, and told them they lacked enough information about the Yemenis’ capabilities.

“I told them your information about the enemies of Yemen is very much, because you provide their arms. But you don’t know about the capabilities of the Yemenis and the Houthis,” he added.

Rouhani said he warned the Europeans against the consequences of raising such baseless allegations. “Do you understand the meaning of the accusation? It means chaos and fanning the flames of sedition and fire in the region,” the president asked the Europeans, he said on Friday.

“They did not have any answer. I said I’ll be waiting in Tehran to receive your evidence,” he added.

On September 14, Yemen’s Ansarullah movement and their allies in the Yemeni army deployed as many as 10 drones to bomb Abqaiq and Khurais oil facilities run by the Saudi state-owned oil company Aramco.

The unprecedented attack knocked out more than half of Saudi crude output, or five percent of global supply, prompting Saudi and US officials to claim without any evidence that it probably originated from Iraq or Iran.

The United States and Saudi Arabia have, to various degrees, blamed Tehran for the attack on Aramco installations.

In a joint statement on Monday, French President Emmanuel Macron, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson joined the US and Saudi Arabia in pinning the blame for the attack on Iran.

The three countries — which remain party to a 2015 nuclear deal with Iran despite the US unilateral withdrawal last year — urged Iran to engage in dialog and “refrain from choosing provocation and escalation.”

In reaction, Tehran strongly condemned the “destructive” and “provocative” claims made by the E3, warning that the trio will be responsible for the consequences of such “irresponsible” statements.

Full report at:

https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2019/09/27/607256/Iran-rouhani-attack-Yemen-aramco-saudi-E3-germany-france-UK

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Iran blasts 'economic terrorism' after US sanctions Russia, China

Sep 27, 2019

Iran has condemned Washington's recent sanctions targeting Russia and China, urging the international community to stand against the US' "thuggish unilateralism" and "destructive economic terrorism".

Speaking on Friday, Foreign Ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi slammed sanctions set down on Chinese firms for trading with Iran.

He said they were contradictory to UN Security Council Resolution 2231, which endorsed the 2015 Iran nuclear deal and encouraged economic trade with Tehran.

"The US government is punishing other countries for upholding the resolution which itself has voted in favor of," he said.

The US reimposed unilateral sanctions that had been lifted under the multilateral nuclear deal after it withdrew from the agreement last year.

Washington has since vigorously sought to sanction any entity conducting business with Iran.

Mousavi also criticized Washington's new sanctions on a Russian company and a number of individuals and entities on the pretext of "facilitating jet fuel shipments to Russian military forces in Syria" and cooperating with the legitimate government of Syria.

Speaking on Thursday, Russia's Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Sergei Vershinin had slammed the new sanctions as "unacceptable" and as "a continuation of the old American policy, based on unilateral sanctions."

The US has targeted entities conducting trade with Syria, doubling down on its previous economic measures against Damascus at the onset of the foreign-backed terror campaign that emerged in country in 2011.

Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokesman added that Washington's "overuse" of "economic terrorism" was not only damaging the interests of American citizens and companies, but was also undermining the international trade of "independent countries".

"The Islamic Republic of Iran, as the main victim of economic terrorism, condemns this destabilizing behavior," Mousavi said.

A case of 'classic terrorism'

Speaking on the sidelines of the 74th United Nations General Assembly session, Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif described Washington's campaign of "maximum pressure" against Iran as a case of "classic terrorism".

He added that the economic sanctions target average Iranian citizens, blocking money transfers related to the acquirement of medical services and equipment, hurting the "most vulnerable segment" of Iran's society.

Many, including Iran's top diplomat, have, however, pointed to the ineffectiveness of US sanctions in undermining Iran's overall foreign trade.

Energy traders have pointed that many sanctioned firms trading with Iran have minor "overseas exposure", having little to fear from US sanctions and limiting potential application of sanctions on other entities and banking systems.

One of China’s largest state-backed oil companies transporting Iranian crude oil, the US sanctioned Zhuhai Zhenrong company, as an example, is said to be largely disconnected from the greater Chinese financial system.

Full report at:

https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2019/09/27/607248/Iran-condemns-new-US-sanctions-Russia-China

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Yemen's Houthis, Saudi-backed militiamen exchange prisoners

Sep 27, 2019

Yemen’s Houthi Ansarullah movement has announced the completion of separate prisoner swap deals with Saudi-sponsored Yemeni militiamen loyal to Yemen's former president Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi in the country’s northern province of al-Jawf and southern province of Shabwah.

The Arabic-language al-Masirah television network, citing head of the Houthi-affiliated National Committee for Prisoners Affairs (NCPA) Abdulqader Al-Mortada, reported on Friday that 13 members of the Yemeni Army and allied Popular Committees had been released, and that the agreement was through “a local mediation.”

Mortada, however, did not provide details about the number of released prisoners in return.

Back on May 28, the NCPA said sixty-six imprisoned fighters of the Ansarullah movement had been released within the framework of an exchange deal with Saudi-backed militia forces.

Even though the committee did not provide any information at the time about the number of released prisoners in return, some Yemeni media outlets reported that Houthis had released nine pro-Hadi prisoners under the swap agreement.

Despite an ongoing failure to reach a comprehensive solution for Yemen’s crisis, prisoner swap deals take place now and then between the warring parties.

Saudi Arabia and a number of its regional allies launched a devastating campaign against Yemen in March 2015, with the goal of bringing the government of Hadi back to power and crushing Ansarullah.

The US-based Armed Conflict Location and Event Data Project (ACLED), a nonprofit conflict-research organization, estimates that the war has claimed more than 91,000  lives over the past four and a half years.

Full report at:

https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2019/09/27/607287/Yemen-Houthis-Saudibacked-militiamen-prisoner-swap

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Israeli forces kill Palestinian, injure 63 others in Gaza

Sep 27, 2019

One Palestinian has been killed and dozens of others have been injured by Israeli forces during yet another round of crackdown on anti-occupation protests in the besieged Gaza Strip.

Ashraf al-Qedra, the spokesman for the Gazan Health Ministry, said in a Tweet that Israeli forces wounded 63 Palestinians during the protests on Friday.

He noted 32 of the casualties were injured with live ammunition. According to the spokesman, four medics were also wounded during the 76th Friday of protests.

A 20-year-old Palestinian later succumbed to the injuries sustained during the protests.

The rallies have been held every week since March 30 last year. The Palestinians want the return of those driven out of their homeland by Israeli aggression.

Israeli troops have killed at least 307 Palestinians since the beginning of the rallies and wounded more than 18,000 others, according to the Gazan Health Ministry.

In March, a United Nations (UN) fact-finding mission found that Israeli forces committed rights violations during their crackdown against the Palestinian protesters in Gaza that may amount to war crimes.

Gaza has been under Israeli siege since June 2007, which has caused a decline in living standards.

Full report at:

https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2019/09/27/607285/Gaza-Israeli-forces

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Leave Yemen or face crippling attacks on your country: Ansarallah to UAE

Sep 27, 2019

Yemen’s Houthi Ansarullah movement has warned the United Arab Emirates to leave the war-wracked country or face "crippling attacks" on "their own soil".

Abdul Wahab al-Mahbashi, an Ansarullah member in Yemen's Supreme Political Council, warned the UAE that Yemeni forces will wage destructive attacks on the Persian Gulf country if it continues taking part in the Saudi war on Yemen.

Mohammed al-Bukhaiti, another Supreme Political Council member, called for the UAE to "quit escalating tensions", noting that "the opportunity given to Abu Dhabi is limited."

Al-Bukhaiti urged the Emirati forces to withdraw from "the country's western coast and its southern provinces".

He added that the UAE is seeking to gain influence in Tai'zz Province.

"A number of Emirati mercenaries have left for Tai'zz from the A'sab base in Eritrea in a bid to obtain military advances following completion of their training," he said.

Al-Bukhaiti said that any escalation on behalf of enemy forces will be met with an "extensive" response from Yemen, adding that the enemy's use of non-military ships and ports endangers maritime security.

The Yemeni officials' stern warnings for the UAE come nearly two weeks after Yemeni resistance attacked the heart of Saudi Arabia's oil industry, inflicting substantial damage on Aramco’s Khurais and Abqaiq plants.

The raid shut down about 50 percent of the kingdom’s crude and gas production, cutting the state oil giant’s crude oil supply by around 5.7 million barrels per day.

The attack, which also cut five percent of the world's oil supply, pushed the typically ignored four-year-long Saudi-led aggression in Yemen into the center stage of international headlines.

Washington and its allies, however, quickly blamed Iran for the attack, ignoring the Saudi onslaught in Yemen and expressing concern regarding the "disruption of global energy supplies".

Javad Zarif

@JZarif

Arab blood vs. Arab oil / A primer on U.S. policy:

- 4 yrs of indiscriminate bombardment of Yemen

- 100,000 dead Yemenis

- 20M malnourished Yemenis

- 2.3M cholera cases

= carte blance for culprits.

- Retaliatory Yemeni strike on oil storage tanks

= unacceptable "act of war"

8,033

2:44 AM - Sep 20, 2019

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The stepped-up Yemeni retaliatory strikes come as the UAE has announced the gradual withdrawal of its troops from the Saudi-led conflict, largely because Abu Dhabi believes the war appears to have become "unwinnable", according to US reports.

The UAE appears more interested in reinforcing its grip over southern Yemen than achieving the Saudi objective of installing a pro-Saudi government in the Yemeni capital Sana'a.

Yemeni officials, nonetheless, have warned on numerous occasions that a failure by the UAE to fully implement its withdrawal will be met with retaliatory measures.

Saudi Arabia relied greatly on the Emirati forces in advancing its war effort.

Observers believe that a Saudi-led tribal alliance may eventually disintegrate with infighting due to a lack of Emirati oversight.

Full report at:

https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2019/09/27/607237/Leave-Yemen-or-face-crippling-attacks

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Turkey to continue trade with Iran despite US threats: Erdogan

Sep 27, 2019

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan says his country will continue to do trade with Iran despite threats of sanctions by the United States, arguing that it is impossible for Ankara to stop importing Iranian oil and gas.

Speaking to reporters on his flight back from New York, where he took part in the 74th United Nations General Assembly, Erdogan said Ankara was not afraid of possible economic penalties and would keep ties with its eastern neighbor, according to broadcaster NTV.

He echoed the same stance on Wednesday, shortly after US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo penalized six Chinese firms over allegations of transporting Iranian oil despite American sanctions.

“Sanctions have been avoided in the past,” Erdogan told Fox News. “I for one know that sanctions have never solved anything.”

The US, as part of President Donald Trump’s so-called “maximum pressure” campaign, has been seeking to cripple Iran’s economy through what Washington refers to as “toughest ever” sanctions.

The campaign, which began in May 2018 after Trump abandoned the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, has witnessed several rounds of sanctions that specifically targeted Tehran’s oil exports and sought, unsuccessfully, to bring them to zero.

Turkey is heavily reliant on energy and petrochemicals imported from Iran.

The two neighbors had been eyeing a major jump in bilateral trade before the sanctions, setting a target of $30 billion in exchanges. Sanctions, however, have kept the overall trade at around $12 billion a year.

The US continued its sanctions policy last week, blacklisting Iran’s Central Bank in what experts described as a “cosmetic” by Washington out of frustration over the September 14 attacks on Saudi Arabia’s oil installations.

Even though the Yemeni Ansarullah movement has taken responsibility for the attacks that slashed Saudi Arabia’s oil output by more than half, Washington and Riyadh both point the finger at Iran.

Iran has dismissed the claims as an attempt to cover the failure of the expensive US-made air defenses in preventing the attacks. Tehran has also accused the US of shifting focus from its failed “maximum pressure” campaign to a campaign of “maximum deceit.”

Erdogan on Wednesday distanced himself from the US claims, warning against any premature judgments.

Full report at:

https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2019/09/27/607229/Turkey-Erdogan-Iran-trade-US-sanctions

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Africa

 

Tunisia’s Ennahda Says May Govern Alone or ‘Partner with Revolution Forces’

27 September, 2019

Tunisia’s Ennahda party will seek to govern alone or in partnership with “the forces of the revolution”, its leader said on Friday, hinting at an end to five years of consensus rule with the secular establishment.

Rached Ghannouchi, a moderate Islamist, was speaking before an October 6 parliamentary election, a poll that follows the first round of a presidential election in which political newcomers defeated all the major party candidates, including that of Ennahda.

Ennahda has backed retired law professor Kais Said in next month’s second round presidential run-off against media magnate Nabil Karoui, who is being held in detention on suspicion of tax evasion and money laundering, accusations he denies.

The parliamentary election represents a big test for Tunisia’s established parties after Said and Karoui’s success, seen as a rejection of governments that have failed to address chronic economic problems.

“Ennahda sees itself as better able to govern and is ready to govern alone or with the forces of the revolution,” Ghannouchi told a news conference, according to Reuters.

Ennahda is expected to be among the frontrunners in the poll. Ghannouchi comments are the clearest sign yet of a change in the party’s position that could see it embrace parties which supported the 2011 revolution which led to the ousting of longtime President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali.

For the past five years, Ennahda has been part of coalition governments with secular parties including Nidaa Tounes, founded by the late president Beji Caid Essebsi, and Prime Minister Youssef Chahed’s Long Live Tunisia.

In that time, pro-revolutionary parties have played a marginal role in Tunisian politics.

Ghannouchi did not specify any groups, but the Hirak al-Irdaa party and the Democratic Current party led by Mohamed Abbou are the main parties that supported the revolution.

Tunisia’s parliament chooses the prime minister, whose government controls most portfolios. The president can obstruct legislation and has direct control over foreign and defense policy.

Karoui, the detained media magnate, had been a supporter of Nidaa Tounes in the last election in 2014, but has since founded his own party, Heart of Tunisia, focused on alleviating poverty.

Ghannouchi said Ennahda and Karoui’s Heart of Tunisia parties would be the main forces in the coming parliament election. Ennahda would not enter coalition with parties suspected of corruption, he added.

https://aawsat.com/english/home/article/1921531/tunisia%E2%80%99s-ennahda-says-may-govern-alone-or-%E2%80%98partner-revolution-forces%E2%80%99

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Sudan Closes Borders with Libya, Central African Republic

27 September, 2019

Sudan announced Thursday that it was closing its borders with Libya and Central African Republic on, citing security and economic "dangers".

A statement by the Sovereign Transitional Council said vehicles had been illegally crossing the borders with the two nations, which have both been mired in violence.

The announcement followed a meeting between the Council and the government of South Darfur State in Niyala, the statement by the ruling body said.

In recent years, media reports have claimed that many rebels from Sudan's war-torn region of Darfur had crossed into Libya to build up their military capabilities.

Full report at:

https://aawsat.com/english/home/article/1921041/sudan-closes-borders-libya-central-african-republic

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US Strike Kills 17 Suspected Militants in Southern Libya

27 September, 2019

US forces said on Friday they killed 17 suspected militants in their third air strike in a week on southern Libya.

The strike, conducted on Tuesday, hit southwestern Libya, the US Africa Command said in a statement, without giving the location.

Residents of the city of Sebha said they heard an explosion to the south.

Two separate air strikes had killed 19 suspected militants in southern Libya, the US military had previously said.

Some ISIS terrorists retreated south into Libya’s desert as the group lost its stronghold in the coastal city of Sirte at the end of 2016.

Full report at:

https://aawsat.com/english/home/article/1921546/us-strike-kills-17-suspected-militants-southern-libya

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Airstrikes hit Boko Haram militants, destroy camp in NE Nigeria

2019-09-26

ABUJA, Sept. 26 (Xinhua) -- Airstrikes by the Nigerian military have destroyed a logistics base of terror group Boko Haram during a raid in the northeast region, defense authorities said on Thursday.

The logistics base also served as a training camp for the terrorists at a community called Kusuma on the fringes of Lake Chad.

The airstrikes on Wednesday were executed after credible intelligence reports had established that a section of the settlement was serving as a training camp for the terrorists, Ibikunle Daramola, the spokesman for the air force, said in a statement made available to Xinhua.

"Some buildings within the camp were being used to store their fuel, arms, and ammunition as well as other logistics supplies," Daramola said.

During pre-attack surveillance, the air force spokesman said, scores of Boko Haram fighters were seen attempting to flee the location upon hearing the sound of the attack aircraft.

"They were engaged by the attack aircraft in successive passes, neutralizing many of them," he said.

According to him, the terrorists' logistics supply store, which was also hit, was seen engulfed in flames due to the raid.

The air force said while operating in concert with surface forces, it would sustain its efforts to completely destroy all remnants of the terrorists in the troubled northeast region.

Full report at:

http://www.xinhuanet.com/english/2019-09/26/c_138425391.htm

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US kills 17 suspected ISIS extremists in Libya strike

27 September 2019

The US military command for Africa announced Friday it killed 17 suspected ISIS extremists in southern Libya, in the third such strike in a week.

“At this time, it is assessed the airstrike killed 17 terrorists” on Thursday, Africom said in a statement.

It said its anti-ISIS campaign in Libya was “ongoing” and that strikes were being conducted “in coordination” with the UN-recognized Government of National Accord (GNA) in Tripoli.

Africom “continues to support diplomatic efforts to stabilize the political situation in Libya in order to maintain our common focus on disrupting terrorist organizations that threaten regional stability,” the statement said.

Full report at:

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/north-africa/2019/09/27/US-kills-17-suspected-ISIS-extremists-in-Libya-strike.html

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Rwanda welcomes first group of African refugees from Libya

27 September 2019

A group of 66 African refugees and asylum-seekers arrived in Kigali late Thursday, the UN said, the first of what could be thousands relocated from Libya under a new program.

Earlier this month, Rwanda signed a deal with the African Union (AU) and the United Nations refugee agency UNHCR agreeing to take in African refugees and asylum-seekers stranded in Libya.

The Rwandan government has said it is prepared to accommodate as many as 30,000 evacuees, although the plan is for the program to unfold in batches of 500 to prevent the country of 12 million from feeling overwhelmed.

“Just landed!” the United Nations refugee agency wrote on its Twitter account as a first group of unaccompanied minors, single mothers and families landed in the Rwandan capital.

UNHCR Libya

@UNHCRLibya

🛬 Just landed!

All refugees arrived to Kigali airport safe and sound & are being welcomed by UNHCR staff and local authorities.

Special thanks goes to all the people of Rwanda 🇷🇼 who have been sharing heartwarming welcome messages all day long.

View image on TwitterView image on TwitterView image on Twitter

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The youngest passenger was a two-month old girl born to Somali parents in Libya.

A UN official told AFP Wednesday that a subsequent flight carrying 125 people was planned for “between 10-12 October”.

They will be housed in a transit centre in Rwanda before being resettled elsewhere unless they agree to return to their home countries.

In the chaos that followed the fall and killing of former dictator Moammar Gadhafi in a 2011 uprising, Libya became a key transit point for sub-Saharan African migrants seeking to embark on dangerous journeys to Europe.

The UN says some 42,000 refugees are currently in Libya.

Rwandan President Paul Kagame first offered to take in Africans stuck in Libya back in November 2017, the same month a CNN report showed what appeared to be a slave market there.

The issue took on new urgency in July when more than 40 people were killed in an air strike on a migrant detention centre in the Libyan town of Tajoura.

The UN has been criticized for its handling of a transit mechanism for evacuees from Libya established in 2017 on the other side of the continent, in Niger.

Full report at:

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/world/2019/09/27/Rwanda-welcomes-first-group-of-African-refugees-from-Libya-.html

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US airstrike in southern Libya kills 17 people

Sep 27, 2019

At least 17 people have been killed in a US airstrike in southern Libya in the third such air raid in the North African state in a little more than a week.

The US Africa Command (AFRICOM) claims Daesh terrorists were targeted by the Thursday airstrike.

These US airstrikes over the last eight days are the first in Libya in over a year.

An earlier US air raid had killed 11 on Tuesday, and a September 19 attack killed eight. The US military says all those killed were affiliated with Daesh militants.

The United States has been carrying out such airstrikes in several Muslim countries under the pretext of fighting militant groups.

In a Friday statement, the AFRICOM said it did not believe that the recent attack left any civilian casualties, but reports on the ground indicate that civilians are usually the main victims of such attacks.

The Libyan Government of National Accord, based in the northwest of the country, is currently fighting forces led by Khalifa Haftar, a strongman and US citizen who rose to prominence in the northeast of the country amid the civil war that followed the death of former Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi.

Full report at:

https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2019/09/27/607295/US-africom-southern-libya-airstrike-daesh

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Somali rights advocate nominated for Nobel Peace Prize

Magdalene Mukami  

28.09.2019

MOGADISHU, Somalia

Renowned Somali peace and human rights advocate Ilwad Elman has been shortlisted for the Nobel Peace Prize, the Oslo Peace Research Institute said Friday.

Elman is the founder of the Elman Peace and Human Rights Center in Somalia, which works with young boys and women who have been radicalized into joining armed militia groups with the aim of saving and rehabilitating them.

“So honored to be nominated and shortlisted for the Nobel Peace Prize,” Elman posted on her official Twitter page.

The Horn of Africa nation of Somalia has been rocked with conflict and war since the 1990s which has displaced millions and claimed the lives of hundreds of thousands.

The al-Qaeda affiliated Al-Shabaab militant group, which operates in the country and carries out terrorist attacks, is notorious for recruiting young boys and girls into its ranks.

Full report at:

https://www.aa.com.tr/en/africa/somali-rights-advocate-nominated-for-nobel-peace-prize/1596398

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North America

 

US Urges Action on China’s Uyghur Camps From Muslim World

2019-09-27

The United States wrapped up efforts at the United Nations this week to draw attention to the plight of Uyghurs detained in Chinese internment camps, calling on Muslim-majority states such as Pakistan to raise the issue with China.

While Secretary of State Mike Pompeo promoted diplomatic efforts in New York to support the million or more interned Uyghurs and the broader cause of religious freedom, In Washington, lawmakers called on Pompeo to take concrete steps, including sanctions, to hold Beijing accountable for the repression in Xinjiang.

Pompeo said a U.S.-organized event cohosted by Canada and several European countries on the situation in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR) on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly in New York drew more than 30 countries.

“We need many more nations, especially Muslim-majority nations, to speak out publicly against one of the worst human rights violations of the 21st century,” he told reporters on Friday.

During the New York gathering, U.S. Deputy Secretary of State John J. Sullivan said that the U.N. had failed to hold China to account over its policies in the region, where authorities are believed to have held up to 1.5 million Uyghurs and other Muslim ethnic minorities accused of harboring “strong religious views” and “politically incorrect” ideas since April 2017.

In a separate gathering on the U.N. sidelines, a senior U.S. diplomat asked why Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan was outspoken about championing the Muslims of Kashmir but silent on China’s detention of Uyghurs and other Turkic-speaking Muslims.

"I would like to see the same level of concern expressed also about Muslims who are being detained in Western China, literally in concentration-like conditions,” said Alice Wells, US Acting Assistant Secretary for South and Central Asia, in a report by the Agence France-Press (AFP) news agency.

“Being concerned about the human rights of Muslims does extend more broadly than Kashmir, and you've seen the administration very involved here during the UN General Assembly and trying to shine a light on the horrific conditions that continue to exist for Muslims throughout China," she said.

Khan, asked about the Uyghurs at a think tank event on Monday, declined comment, saying that Pakistan had a "special relationship" with China and would only raise issues in private, AFP reported.

China has tried to counter damning reports about the Uyghur camps, first by denying they existed and then by describing the facilities as “boarding schools” that provide vocational training for Uyghurs, discourage radicalization, and help protect the country from terrorism.

Global Magnitsky Act for Chen Quanguo?

China organized two visits in 2019 to the XUAR—one for a small group of foreign journalists, and another for diplomats from non-Western countries, including Russia, Indonesia, Kazakhstan, and Thailand.

Sullivan told the UN gathering his week that these trips and the China-friendly accounts they produced were “Potemkin tours in a failed attempt to prove” that the camps were humane training centers.

In recent weeks, a Jordanian journalist and an Albanian scholar told RFA’s Uyghur Service that their own trips to Xinjiang proved to them that reports by the international media about Beijing’s repressive policies targeting ethnic Uyghurs are accurate and the situation is grim. They said they were initially skeptical about reports about the internment camps.

Meanwhile, in Washington Senators Jim Inhofe and Jack Reed, the top Republican and Democrat on the Senate Armed Services Committee, sent a letter to Pompeo urging the Trump administration to hold the Chinese Communist Party accountable for religious persecution and human rights violations in China.

“President Xi Jinping's ‘Sinicization’ campaign, which began in 2016, requires religious and ethnic minorities in the country to adhere to the Chinese Communist Party's thoughts, culture and practices. This policy, coupled with tighter regulations and the government's effort to exert greater control, has manifested in increased oppression and systematic discrimination of these minorities,” the senators wrote.

“Perhaps most egregious is the government's massive internment of individuals from the XUAR. Reports estimate that at least one million people, primarily Uyghur Muslims, are currently being detained, indoctrinated, and manipulated in internment camps, many without knowledge of any impending release,” they added.

Inhofe and Reed called on Pompeo to “continue to explore options to halt Beijing's growing suppression of religious minorities and hold the Chinese government accountable for its actions.”

The senators’ letter supported steps to punish XUAR Communist Party chief Chen Quanguo and other officials responsible for the repression of Uyghurs using the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act. The act is based on a measure created to address human rights abuses by the Putin regime in Russia.

The U.S. Senate earlier this month unanimously passed the first legislation by any nation in response to human rights abuses against ethnic Uyghurs in the XUAR, which would authorize regular monitoring of the situation by various government bodies.

The bipartisan Uyghur Human Rights Policy Act, introduced by Senators Marco Rubio of Florida and Bob Menendez of New Jersey, would appoint a special State Department coordinator on the XUAR and require regular reports on the region’s internment camps, surveillance network and security threats posed by an ongoing crackdown on the Uyghur people—if ratified by the House of Representatives.

https://www.rfa.org/english/usa-uyghurs-09272019165823.html

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Teatime for Peace brings Muslim experiences into community dialogue

Surita Basu

September 27, 2019

Students, faculty and community members gathered in the Thwing Ballroom on Monday night to participate in Teatime for Peace, an event focused on introducing and learning about our Muslim community members. Teatime for Peace was established in response to the rhetoric of the 2016 election when the group Code Pink began asking supporters to host “Pop-Up for Peace” to show solidarity with the Muslim community.

The cause has since been championed by the West Shore Unitarian Universalist Church and by the Council on American-Islamic Relations, and Teatimes have been hosted all over Northeast Ohio in religious centers and universities. The event was co-sponsored by the Office for Inclusion, Diversity and Equal Opportunity with speakers from the Muslim Students Association and the United Protestant Campus Ministries in Cleveland.

At the event, attendees of different ages and religious backgrounds were seated at round tables with plates of Lebanese food catered from Aladdin’s Eatery. They were given reflection questions to discuss such as, “What three values from your faith tradition or life philosophy inspire you to better our community?” and “Tell the story of your family’s history in this country.” One by one, each person around the table shared stories of their heritage from countries ranging from Egypt and Pakistan to Germany and Italy.

“The most important dialogue, in my opinion, is what I call the dialogue of life,” said Ramez Islambouli, an adjunct professor of Islamic law. He emphasized the need to interact beyond theological differences and try and learn from one another.

“The goal is to open students to different cultures, especially cultures and religions that may have a bad reputation,” said Ibtesam Ghazy, a third-year biology and nutritional biochemistry student and one of the organizers for the event. “We’re just saying ‘Hey, here’s an idea, think about it, if you’re interested, here are some resources you can go to.’”

The roundtable discussions provided a welcoming space for attendees to pose questions about faith or culture that they may not have felt comfortable asking before. This contributed to a rich exchange of perspectives and many described feeling surprised by how much their faiths had in common with one another.

“When you sit down with somebody, eye to eye, and you get to know them, and you listen to their stories how can you hate those people,” said Devi Gursahaney, one of the Teatime for Peace committee members, as she delivered the event’s introduction. “It is the ignorance that causes the fear.”

At the conclusion of the event, attendees shared their ideas on how to promote respect for other religions. One attendee suggested a national movement to open the doors of religious institutions to all to promote awareness and learning. Another gave an impassioned reminder of the power of love in promoting peace and acceptance.

As Ivana Zajkovska, another committee member of Teatime for Peace delivered the closing remarks, where she reminded the room to sit with the uncomfortable.

“This is just the beginning.”

Full report at:

http://observer.case.edu/teatime-for-peace-brings-muslim-experiences-into-community-dialogue/

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US-Backed Forces in Syria Defy Trump on Islamic State Fighters

By Jeff Seldin

September 26, 2019

U.S. efforts to have European countries immediately take back men and women who left to fight with the Islamic State terror group in Syria are meeting with unexpected resistance from U.S.-backed forces on the ground.

Officials with the political wing of the U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces, say they will only agree to release the thousands of foreign fighters after they have been tried for their crimes in Syria.

"We want to sentence them in our area, so they don't run from punishment," Ilham Ahmed, co-chair of the Syrian Democratic Council, said Wednesday in Washington during a meeting with a small group of academics and journalists. "This is what we insist on."

The SDC estimates it is currently holding 2,200 IS foreign fighters, as well as another 6,000 who are mostly from Syria.

Almost all of them are being held in converted school buildings and other makeshift prisons set up following the fall of the last IS Syrian stronghold of Baghuz last March. But U.S. officials have warned of repeated breakout attempts, adding the situation is "not sustainable."

Ahmed, speaking through an interpreter, admitted the prisons "are not equipped" to hold the captured IS fighters for the long term.

Still, she and other officials said the only way forward would be to charge and try the fighters through international tribunals set up in areas of Syria controlled by U.S. and coalition-backed forces.

"The crimes were committed in our area against the people of our area," she said. "If we put them on trial in our area, that will show we are making justice."

Pushing repatriation

U.S. officials, until now, have balked at such demands, insisting that countries take back not only their foreign fighters but also wives, children and other family members that left or were taken  to join IS.

"Repatriation to countries of origin, followed by effective prosecution, rehabilitation, reintegration is the best way to ensure that these dangerous individuals cannot return to the battlefield," State Department Counterterrorism Coordinator Ambassador Nathan Sales said Wednesday in New York, following a series of meetings at the United Nations.

In addition to the more than 2,000 IS foreign fighters in SDF custody, the United States estimates there are an additional 70,000 wives, children and other family members who are being detained at displacement camps, like the al-Hol camp, across northeastern Syria.

Sales said some counties, like Kazakhstan, Morocco and North Macedonia, deserve praise for their efforts to repatriate fighters and their families, but warned too few countries, especially those in Western Europe, have done enough.

"We think that nations that have established rule of law traditions, nations that have deep pockets and the financial resources to address this problem are the ones that should be leading the world by example," the State Department counterterrorism coordinator said.

"This has the potential to be a disaster in the making," he added.

For now, the SDF has managed to relieve some of the pressure by trying and settling the cases of some Syrian IS fighters locally.

That process has included "sentencing fighters who are proven to have committed crimes," a State Department official told VOA last month.

Some IS family members, including some who had been among the 70,000 people held at the al-Hol displacement camp, have also been released.

"We are sending them back after guarantees coming from the head of the tribes in the area," the SDC's Ahmed said.

Growing frustration

But she said officials in neighboring Iraq have yet to make good on promises to start taking back tens of thousands of IS family members, as well as other Iraqi refugees in SDF-controlled areas.

Last week, U.S. President Donald Trump expressed growing frustration with the reluctance by so many countries, and European countries in particular, to take back residents who left to join IS.

Trump, speaking in the Oval Office during a meeting with the Australian prime minister, repeated threats to dump captured IS fighters at Europe's doorstep.

"At some point I'm going to have to say, 'I'm sorry, but you're either taking them back or we're going to let them go at your border,'" Trump told reporters.

Full report at:

https://www.voanews.com/usa/us-backed-forces-syria-defy-trump-islamic-state-fighters

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Despite $380M in US aid for religious minorities persecuted by ISIS, 1 million from Nineveh Plains remain displaced

by Jeffrey Cimmino

September 26, 2019

Two years after Vice President Mike Pence promised help to Iraq’s displaced religious minorities, a U.S. official said American aid has yielded mixed results, with many displaced individuals still unable to return to their hometowns.

The United States has given $380 million to rebuild northern Iraqi communities belonging to Christians, Yazidis, and other religious minorities, according to Hallam Ferguson, Senior Deputy Administrator in the Middle East Bureau for the U.S. Agency for International Development. But almost a million people from the Nineveh Plains, the historic homeland of the predominantly Christian Assyrian people, remain displaced in the wake of a genocide perpetrated by ISIS.

“The objective of the United States government is for people to return there and in that way, reverse the effects of genocide by ISIS,” Ferguson told members of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom at a hearing Thursday. Despite the hundreds of millions of dollars devoted to northern Iraq, Ferguson said, there has been "only modest success in our efforts."

The main problem is a lack of security. Mostly Shia Muslim militia units, known as Popular Mobilization Forces, which emerged to fight ISIS, “continue to operate with impunity” in parts of the Nineveh Plains, said Ferguson.

These militias are formally part of the Iraqi government, but in practice, tend to operate independently, and many express loyalty to Iran. The United States has sanctioned Rayan al-Kildani and Waad Qado, who lead two of these militia units and have impeded the return of displaced individuals in the northern Iraqi towns of Batnaya and Bartella, due to human rights violations.

To counter the influence of these militias, some Christian communities have worked toward securing themselves. Reine Hanna, director of the Assyrian Policy Institute, an Assyrian advocacy group, cited as an example the Nineveh Plain Protection Units, a mostly Christian military organization.

“In the NPU, the United States now has a security partner in the defense of religious freedom,” Hanna told the commissioners.

Hanna pointed out that the rate of displaced individuals returning is higher in areas controlled by the Nineveh Plain Protection Units than in other towns. In Qaraqosh, for example, about 70% of those displaced have returned. Fewer than 40% of Christians previously living in Bartella have returned there, while fewer than 1% have returned to Batnaya.

The situation also remains challenging for the Yazidis, another religious minority community. The predominantly Yazidi town of Sinjar “remains highly insecure with significant development problems,” said Ferguson. Most Yazidis remain in refugee camps, he added.

Pari Ibrahim, executive director of the Free Yezidi Foundation, a Yazidi advocacy group, said Yazidis are seeking educational and economic opportunity, political representation, and justice for the perpetrators of genocide. But she said Yazidis remain skeptical that help is imminent.

“We always say if there is a chance that we’re on the agenda, we are probably the last point on the agenda to be discussed,” Ibrahim told the commissioners.

She added that no one trusts either the Iraqi or Kurdish governments, and said the Yazidis “are all looking forward to going and resettling elsewhere.”

Hanna echoed Ibrahim’s comments about religious minorities distrusting the government.

Full report at:

https://www.washingtonexaminer.com/news/despite-380m-in-us-aid-for-religious-minorities-persecuted-by-isis-1-million-from-nineveh-plains-remain-displaced

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Trump says US will not lift sanctions on Iran

27 September 2019

US President Donald Trump said on Friday that sanctions on Iran would not be lifted.

In a tweet, Trump said "Iran wanted me to lift the sanctions imposed on them in order to meet. I said, of course, NO!"

Donald J. Trump

@realDonaldTrump

Iran wanted me to lift the sanctions imposed on them in order to meet. I said, of course, NO!

78.5K

6:53 PM - Sep 27, 2019

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President Donald Trump on Wednesday took steps to bar senior Iranian officials and their immediate family from entering the US as immigrants or non-immigrants, the White House said in a proclamation.

The US-Iranian confrontation has ratcheted up since last year, when Trump withdrew from Iran’s 2015 nuclear deal with major powers and reimposed sanctions that have crippled the Iranian economy.

Full report at:

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/world/2019/09/27/Trump-says-US-will-not-lift-sanctions-on-Iran-.html

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White House restricted access to Trump's calls with Putin and Saudi crown prince: CNN

Sep 28, 2019

The White House constrained access to President Trump’s conversations with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and Russian President Vladimir Putin, according to CNN.

Citing people familiar with the matter, CNN reported Friday that the White House prevented officials who would have ordinarily been given access to a rough transcript from obtaining any of one conversation Trump had with Prince Mohammed.

According to the officials, this was very unusual especially after the high-profile conversation.

Although it did not contain any especially sensitive national security secrets, it came as the White House was facing the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, which, according to US intelligence assessments, the Riyadh government was behind it.

In the case of Trump's call with Putin, access was denied to the transcript of at least one of the conversations, according to a former Trump administration official.

This comes as Trump has come under scrutiny following a whistleblower complaint that involved Trump making a "promise" to a foreign leader, with The Washington Post and The New York Times later reporting that the incident in question involved Ukraine.

In a phone call on July 25, Trump repeatedly asked Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to investigate Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden’s son, a report says.

Trump reportedly told Zelensky nearly eight times to work with his personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani on a probe related to Hunter Biden.

Earlier on Friday, the White House acknowledged that administration officials ordered that the Ukraine call transcript be filed in a highly classified system.

A senior White House official told CNN that the decision was made by National Security Council attorneys.

“NSC lawyers directed that the classified document be handled appropriately,” the official noted.

The White House has so far provided no information as to why it selectively put certain Trump’s calls into the codeword system, despite not being highly classified, such as the Ukraine call.

Officials from the past two administrations described as unusual the move to transfer a transcript that does not contain sensitive information into the code word computer system.

Full report at:

https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2019/09/28/607301/US-Donald-Trump-Vladimir-Putin-Prince-Mohammed-

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US officials ‘knew Saudi Arabia would fail in Yemen’

Sep 27, 2019

Senior US officials have known ever since Saudi Arabia began a war of aggression against Yemen that Riyadh would fail in the military campaign, something that they have also “bluntly” told the Saudis, a report says.

The report, published by The American Conservative magazine on Wednesday, cited one “senior U.S. military officer” as expressing “ire” at Saudi officials for making the decision to go to war with Yemen.

According to the report, the Saudis did not inform Washington of the decision in advance.

“We didn’t see the [Saudi] invasion [of Yemen] coming and we were shocked when it happened. But we were pretty blunt. We told them, ‘you can’t win and you’ll bankrupt your country. It’ll be a quagmire.’ And we were right,” the official, whose name was withheld, said.

Saudi Arabia started the war on Yemen in March 2015 in a bid to reinstall a former regime and eliminate the Houthi Ansarullah movement. Four years later, and despite massive purchases of advanced American weaponry, Saudi Arabia and its allies are bogged down.

The report cited another “military officer” as having said back in 2015 that while the Houthis were allied to Iran — which the US considers an adversary — the US counted on them as a potential counterweight to al-Qaeda in Yemen. The war, in which the US also participates, has turned the Houthis entirely against America now, according to the officer.

US intelligence reports were also cited as having said that “Saudi Arabia’s intervention [in Yemen] was throwing into doubt the long-term stability of the Saudi government.”

The administration of US President Donald Trump, the report said, subsequently “reached two conclusions—that ‘all is not well in the House of Saud,’ and that the U.S. should open talks with the Houthis to end the war.”

The report highlighted the major attacks on Saudi Arabia’s oil facilities on September 14, which the US has said were carried out by Iran. Tehran has rejected that accusation, and Yemen has taken responsibility.

The retired US military officer referred to those attacks and said the Saudi decision to go to war with Yemen initiated all the tensions now simmering in the region.

This is “how all of this nonsense got started in the first place,” the officer said, referring to he initiation of the Saudi war.

A senior Pentagon official also highlighted how Iran now had the upper hand in the region.

Full report at:

https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2019/09/27/607280/Saudi-Arabia-Yemen-war-US-officials-fail

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