New Age Islam
Tue Dec 01 2020, 10:58 PM

Islamic World News ( 25 May 2020, NewAgeIslam.Com)

One of India’s Most Wanted, Islamic Telly Evangelist and Zealot Zakir Naik Continues to Be Bankrolled by Gulf Money


• After Son 'Refuses', Muslims from Local Organisation in Maharashtra Perform Last Rites of 78-yr-old Hindu Man

• No Exchange of Sweets Between BSF, Pakistan Rangers at Wagah Border on Eid

• On Eid More than147 Million Muslims in Bangladesh Prayed for The End of the COVID-19 Pandemic

• Prince Edward, Countess Sophie Celebrate Eid By Helping Volunteers At Local Mosque

• Iranian DM Hopes for More Unity among Islamic States

• CMCO: Do Not Cheer for Mat Rempits, Johor Police Chief Warns Malaysians

 

India

• One of India’s Moat Wanted, Islamic Telly Evangelist and Zealot Zakir Naik Continues to Be Bankrolled by Gulf Money

• After Son 'Refuses', Muslims from Local Organisation in Maharashtra Perform Last Rites of 78-yr-old Hindu Man

• Karnataka CM Sends Eid Greetings, Thanks Muslims For Support Amid COVID-19

• Jamaat chief Maulana Saad’s eldest son on Crime Branch radar, documents seized: Report

• Local explosives used to trigger Pulwama attack

• Pakistan army resorts to shelling along LoC in Poonch

• Two IS terrorists killed in Kulgam encounter

• India to repatriate 179 stranded Pakistani nationals via Attari

• PM Modi greets UAE crown prince, Bangladesh PM on Eid-ul-Fitr

• India welcomes Afghan government, Taliban Eid ceasefire

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Pakistan

• No Exchange of Sweets Between BSF, Pakistan Rangers at Wagah Border on Eid

• Pakistan Warns to Reimpose Lockdown If Flouting of Coronavirus Safety Measures Continues: Official

• Faisalabad: the end of Ramadan, an opportunity for Muslim-Christian encounter and dialogue

• In phone call, PM Imran and Erdogan decide to enhance cooperation against Covid-19

• CSP officer among three shot dead in North Waziristan

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South Asia

• On Eid More than147 Million Muslims in Bangladesh Prayed for The End ofthe COVID-19 Pandemic

• HRW: 200 homes burned down in Rakhine State of Myanmar

• U.S. reacts to President Ghani’s announcement for the release of 2000 Taliban prisoners

• Afghanistan to free 900 more Taliban prisoners

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Europe

• Prince Edward, Countess Sophie Celebrate Eid By Helping Volunteers At Local Mosque

• Georgian PM extends Ramadan congratulations to Muslims

• Muslims In Italy Follow Rules While Celebrating Eid Al-Fitr

• Muslim man arrested for breaking into UK gurdwara

• Turkish coast guard rescues 72 asylum seekers

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Mideast

• Iranian DM Hopes for More Unity among Islamic States

• Coronavirus: Iran Reopens Shia Muslim Shrines After Two-Month Closure

• Erdogan’s ‘hypocrisy’ over Israel’s land grab in Palestine

• Iran, Iraq Underline Heightened Anti-Terrorism Cooperation

• Coronavirus: Palestinians easing COVID-19 restrictions in West Bank

• Cuban President: Iranian Tankers Break US "Unacceptable" Blockade on Venezuela

• Armenian Ambassador Asks for Revival of Strong Trade Ties with Iran

• Iranian President Stresses Need for Full Implementation of Health Protocols for Reopening of Crowded Places

• Iran Deplores Foreign Meddling in China's Internal Affairs

• Iranian Speaker Felicitates Liberation Day to Lebanon

• Coronavirus: Jerusalem’s Holy Sepulchre fails to reopen Sunday as planned

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Southeast Asia

• CMCO: Do Not Cheer for Mat Rempits, Johor Police Chief Warns Malaysians

• Virus Lockdowns Stifle Eid Celebrations As Infections Rise

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Arab World

• Iraq’s Security Forces Destroy Daesh Vehicles

• Eid amid coronavirus: Saudi Arabia’s Mohammed bin Salman says hard times will pass

• Plight of migrant workers in Lebanon worsens as crises multiply

• Egypt’s top medical union warns of health system ‘collapse’ amid coronavirus

• Saudi Arabia to start next phase of coronavirus strategy as lockdown eased: Minister

• Coronavirus: UAE crosses 30,000 confirmed cases, conducts over 2 mln COVID-19 tests

• Coronavirus: Kuwait sees slight drop in daily cases with 665 new infections

• Bahrain reports 336 new coronavirus cases, as country begins to re-open

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Africa

• Nigeria: NAF Builds Airstrip in Damaturu to Boost War Against Boko Haram

• Kenya: Muslims Mark Eid UL Fitr Amid Virus Containment Restrictions

• CAN seeks talks with Ogun over churches, mosques reopening

• Nigeria: Boko Haram - Understanding the Wailing Wailers

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North America

• Questions Remain After US Cop Kills A Sudanese-American Muslim Man Who 'Threw Rocks'

• Muslim family fed others every day while fasting for Ramadan

• Calgary Muslims celebrate Eid COVID-19-style

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau

URL: https://newageislam.com/islamic-world-news/new-age-islam-news-bureau/one-of-india’s-moat-wanted,-islamic-telly-evangelist-and-zealot-zakir-naik-continues-to-be-bankrolled-by-gulf-money/d/121952

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One of India’s Moat Wanted, Islamic Telly Evangelist and Zealot ZakirNaik Continues to Be Bankrolled by Gulf Money

26 MAY 2020

Mumbai, May 26 (IANS) One of India’s moat wanted fugitives, Islamic telly evangelist and zealot ZakirNaik, who is currently based in Malaysia, continues to be engaged in propagation of radical Islamic activities and collection of funds from his wealthy contacts in the Gulf region to support his activities.

Sources close to developments have revealed that Naik has reportedly got in touch with one of his old contacts, a prominent Qatari national, and requested him for a generous charity during the just concluded Ramadan period.

The well-known Qatari national has reportedly assured an amount of $500,000 to him. It is also learnt that this Qatari national, is a close associate of Naik and helps him contact local wealthy businessmen and charity organisations for collection of funds.

It may be recalled that Naik is an Islamic preacher and televangelist from Mumbai. He is the founder of Islamic Research Foundation (IRP) and Peace TV, an Islamic TV Channel broadcast in Urdu and English from Saudi Arabia. He is also associated with several local radical Islamic organisations such as South Karnataka Salafi Movement and Al-Lisaan Islamic Foundation.

Naik continues to maintain several bank accounts in Gulf countries, including Qatar and the UAE, for collection of such funds to evade scrutiny of the Indian government. He generally uses these accounts to transfer funds to his associates and network for activities by IRF and other associated organisations. The Indian government has since put a five-year ban on IRF.

Naik is involved in preaching of radical Islamic ideology that has influenced a number of youth in India and abroad in adverse manner and some of them are found to have been motivated to join extremist organisations such as Daesh.

Following are some of the instances, in which individuals influenced by Naik have joined terror organisations:

i) Abdul Rasheed @ Abdulla and his wife Yasmin were radicalised while working in ZakirNaik-run Peace International School (Kerala). Subsequently, Abdul Rasheed motivated a group of 23 individuals to join him in leaving the country for Afghanistan to join Daesh.

(ii) Mohd Ibrahim Yazdani and MohdUyasYezdani, kingpin of ISIS-influenced Junood-ul-Khilafafil-Hind (JKF) module which plotted to carry out terror attacks in different parts of India, were influenced by Naik''s speeches. The module was neutralised by the Indian agencies in July 2016.

(iii) NaserAbubakarYafahi @ Chaus joined ISIS-influenced JKH module after being radicalised by the preachings of Naik. AbubakarYafahi was arrested in July 2016.

(iv) IRF had provided scholarship to Abu Anas from Rajasthan, who intended to join ISIS and was arrested while he was leaving India for joining ISIS.

(v) AfshaJabeen @ Nickey Joseph, while based in Dubai was involved in facilitating recruitment for ISIS. She was influenced by Naik. She was deported back to India in September 2015.

(vi) Two Bangladeshi terrorists, namely Nabris Islam and Rohan Imtiaz, who were involved in the July 2016 Holey Artisan Bakery attack in Dhaka, confessed to have been inspired by Naik.

In view of his involvement in extremist activities, multiple non-bailable warrants (NBW) have been issued against Naik by the India authorities on charges of promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion, under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) and for money laundering.

https://www.outlookindia.com/newsscroll/most-wanted-zakir-naik-continues-to-be-bankrolled-by-gulf-money/1845983

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After Son 'Refuses', Muslims from Local Organisation in Maharashtra Perform Last Rites of 78-yr-old Hindu Man

MAY 26, 2020

Muslim youths affiliated to a local organisation performed the last rites of a 78-year-old Hindu man, who died after a heart attack in Maharashtra's Akola district. According to a report in The Indian Express, the man's son allegedly refused to accept his body, following which the members of the organisation decided to light his pyre.

The man's wife is receiving treatment for Covid-19 at Akola Government Medical College and Hospital (GMCH).

The head of the sanitation department at the hospital, PrashantRajurkar, told IE that local Muslim organisation, Akola KutchhiMemonJamaat, decided to perform his last rites after the man's son, who resides in Nagpur, did not accept his body and refused to perform the funeral.

JavedZakeria, president of the Muslim organisation, told the publication that after the first death was reported in Akola, they had taken the decision to perform the last rites of individuals whose families were not able to do so.

He added that since then, they had organised 60 funerals, out of which 21 were Covid-19 deaths and five were of Hindus.

Meanwhile, Amravati Divisional Commissioner Piyush Singh told the publication that the dean of GMCH received a message at around 6.30 pm that the man had collapsed at his residence, after which an ambulance was dispatched, but the man had died by then. Singh added that according to the protocol, swabs are not collected from a dead body but samples from close relatives are taken.

Maharashtra is one of the states worst-affected by the coronavirus outbreak. As on Sunday,  the state recorded 3,041 new COVID-19 cases and 58 deaths, taking the total number of cases to 50,231, of which 33,988 are active cases. In India, the virus has been on a record spike for four consecutive days. In the last 24 hours, the country has recorded 6535 cases, taking the total tally to 1,45,380, of which 80,722 are active cases, 60,490 cured and 4,167 succumbed to the infection, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare announced.

https://www.news18.com/news/india/after-son-refuses-muslims-from-local-organisation-in-maharashtra-perform-last-rites-of-78-yr-old-hindu-man-2637397.html

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No exchange of sweets between BSF, Pakistan Rangers at Wagah Border on Eid

May 25, 2020

NEW DELHI: Amid tensions due to Pakistan sponsoring cross-border terrorism in Jammu and Kashmir, Border Security Force ( BSF) on Monday did not send sweets to Pakistan Rangers at the Wagah Border on the occasion of Eid-ul-Fitr.

However, BSF troops exchanged sweets with the Bangladeshi troops deployed at the India-Bangladesh border.

Since the last few occasions, BSF has not been participating in the customary exchange of sweets at the Attari-Wagah border in Punjab which used to take place on Republic Day, Independence Day, Eid, Diwali among other events.

On Diwali too, BSF did not accept sweets from Pakistan side and had also not sent them sweets on Republic Day and the new year.

"Pakistan continues to back terrorism even when the world is threatened by COVID-19. We have not offered them sweets on Eid this time and will reconsider offering them in future too if they refuse to stop terrorists coming to India from their soil," a senior BSF official said.

Eid-ul-Fitr marks the conclusion of the holy month of Ramzan, which is a month of fasting and prayer for the Muslim community.

This year, Eid is being celebrated amid the extended nationwide lockdown enforced to contain the spread of COVID-19.

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/pakistan/no-exchange-of-sweets-between-bsf-pakistan-rangers-at-wagah-border-on-eid/articleshow/75974233.cms

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On Eid More than147 Million Muslims in Bangladesh Prayed For The End Of The COVID-19 Pandemic

05/25/2020

bySumonCorraya

Dhaka (AsiaNews) – More than147 million Muslims in Bangladesh gathered in mosques today to pray and celebrate Eid al-Fitr, the holiday that marks the end of Ramadan. However, the government banned group meetings and street celebrations in order to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus.

Muslims came together across the country, from the BaitulMukarram, the National Mosque of Bangladesh, to the smaller mosques, whilst keeping social distancing, to pray for an end to the world health emergency.

Nimul Islam, a Muslim from Dhaka, said he “took part in the prayer in the mosque" where we called for “the end of the pandemic all over the world,” and prayed “for the healing of sick people and the eternal peace of those who died".

Another Muslim named LitonRahaman said that he never saw such a modest Eid in his 40 years, bemoaning the fact that “we couldn't even go back to our village and celebrate [the holiday] in our home.”

Card Patrick D'Rozario, archbishop of Dhaka and president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Bangladesh, addressed a message to our “beloved Muslim brothers" who had to celebrate "among many limitations after the month of Ramadan.”

“We are with you in prayer and affection,” the prelate said, expressing the hope that Eid "will bring abundant blessings, unity, peace, and happiness to families.”

For Bishop Bejoy N. D’Cruze of Sylhet, who also heads the Episcopal Commission for Christian Unity and Interreligious Dialogue, Eid is an occasion for "unity, peace, harmony, support and collaboration".

It is his hope that "people of different faiths can take responsibility to care for our common home on this day of Eid” by establishing a "balanced" relationship with creation.

Yesterday the Prime Minister of Bangladesh Sheikh Hasina addressed the nation, calling for compliance with the measures taken to contain the COVID-19 pandemic. This includes avoiding gatherings in which the virus can spread.

Ms Hasina also called on Bangladeshis to show solidarity and closeness with each other, in particular with the poorest and most disadvantaged members of society.

http://www.asianews.it/news-en/On-Eid-Muslims-prayed-for-the-end-of-the-COVID-19-pandemic-50176.html

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Prince Edward, Countess Sophie celebrate Eid by helping volunteers at local mosque

May 26, 2020

Prince Edward and Sophie Wessex, the youngest son and daughter-in-law of Queen Elizabeth II, celebrated Eid by joining the volunteers at the Shah Jahan Mosque in Woking to help pack meals for the vulnerable people amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Sophie, the Countess of Wessex wore a vibrant blue blouse paired with white pants and donned a headscarf as she and Prince Edward headed to the mosque to help pack food parcels. The royal couple said that they were "delighted" to be at the mosque to mark the beginning of Eid.

Sophie and Edward, who are isolating with their children Lady Louise Windsor and James, Viscount Severn at their Bagshot Park home in Surrey, decided to visit the nearby mosque in Woking to show their support for the Muslim community at the end of Ramadan.

The couple also delivered a video message in front of the mosque, which was later shared by Buckingham Palace on the Twitter account of the Royal Family with the caption: "Today marks the end of Ramadan and the start of Eid celebrations for Muslims across the world. #EidMubarak #eidmubarak2020. The Earl and Countess of Wessex joined volunteers at @ShahJahanMosque on Thursday, where they helped pack food parcels and recorded this message."

Pictures of the couple interacting with volunteers were also shared on the Twitter account, and the caption stated: "The Ramadan has been very different this year, however these challenges have not stopped communities coming together to help those in need. The Woking Mosque is running a 24-hour service offering food parcels to those self-isolating, NHS workers and families in need of support."

The pictures were included in the video message as well. Sophie started the message by saying: "We're delighted to be here at the Woking Mosque and we've been learning how the community have been really holding out the hand of friendship to everybody in the Woking community supporting people through this crisis. We thank you so much for all the efforts that you've made."

Edward added to the message: "Yes, we owe a huge thank you to everyone for all you've been doing across the whole community." The British royals concluded their message by wishing the viewers "Eid Mubarak."

Shah Jahan Mosque in Woking has been working with local churches, businesses and citizens, to prepare and deliver food parcels to vulnerable members of the community as the United Kingdom battles with coronavirus. It has distributed over 700 parcels during the pandemic till now, helping over 400 local households in the process.

https://www.ibtimes.co.uk/prince-edward-countess-sophie-celebrate-eid-helping-volunteers-local-mosque-1678870

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Iranian DM Hopes for More Unity among Islamic States

May 25, 2020

General Hatami's messages were sent to defense ministers of Iraq, Azerbaijan, Tajikistan, Kazakhstan, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Turkmenistan, Syria, Qatar, Kuwait, Oman, Turkey, Indonesia, Algeria, Malaysia, Niger, Mali, Tanzania, Chad, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Senegal, Tunisia, Mauritania, Yemen, Bangladesh, and Nigeria.

The Iranian defense minister hoped for ever-increasing unity among Muslin countries.

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad JavadZarif had also in a message wished success for the Islamic Ummah on the occasion of Eid Al-Fitr, and expressed hope for end of Israeli occupation over Palestinian lands and unjust sanctions against Iran.

“On the blessed Eid Al-Fitr, we ask God for success for our Islamic nation in its continuous march towards unity, pride, dignity and towards building its bright human civilizational model,” Zarif tweeted on Sunday.

“We are firmly confident in the capabilities of this nation and that the sacrifices of its people will be in the coming days, feasts of victory over occupation, domination and unjust sanctions,” he added.

https://en.farsnews.ir/newstext.aspx?nn=13990305000245

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CMCO: Do not cheer for mat rempits, Johor police chief warns Malaysians

25 May 2020

JOHOR BARU, May 25 — Johor police have urged the public not to cheer mat rempits for their stunts or jeer police for acting against these public nuisance who are violating the law, especially the conditional movement control order (CMCO).

He was commenting on a video trending on social media since last night showing a few mat rempits pushing their motorcycles accompanied by a team of motorcycle police patrol while the takbirraya was being played. The scene drew a lot of criticisms from netizens.

Johor police chiefDatukAyob Khan MydinPitchay said some members of the community have disputed the matter and consider it as an insult to Islam.

“Some people said the police are insulting Islam. I think that is not right. We should note that the (mat rempit) action was carried out on Hari Raya eve and we managed to capture 47 local men aged between 18 and 30 and confiscated 26 motorcycles.

“The community needs to understand. The people should be criticising the activities of mat rempits during Hari Raya eve. They are supposed to be at home and listening to the takbirraya and not performing mat rempit stunts,” he told a media conference here today.

He was responding to a 1-minute 26-second video clip of a police raid to stop mat rempit activities on Saturday night, believed to have taken place in Bandar Penawar, Kota Tinggi.

He said the public should not give inputs as if to support the mat rempits by blaming the police.

“The situation should be the other way round, nonetheless, the police will keep performing such operation to curb these activities,” he said.

In another development, he also urged the public to channel information to the police on activities of ziarahHari Raya (visiting) in large numbers and other acts violating the CMCO.

This is to enable the police to conduct immediate checks on the premises involved.

“If you have any information, channel it to the police and we will conduct an inspection as we have a special team to perform a house-to-house inspection during this Aidilfitri season,” he said.

He was responding to viral photos and videos that had been making rounds on social media since yesterday, among others showing a large group of motorcyclists believed to be performing ‘baraan or marhaban’ from house to house in BatuPahat. — Bernama

https://www.malaymail.com/news/malaysia/2020/05/25/cmco-do-not-cheer-for-mat-rempits-johor-police-chief-warns-malaysians/1869373

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India

 

Karnataka CM Sends Eid Greetings, Thanks Muslims For Support Amid COVID-19

May 25, 2020

Bengaluru: Karnataka Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa on Monday greeted the Muslim brethren on the occasion of Eid-ul-Fitr, which is being celebrated in a subdued manner due to coronavirus related restrictions.

"Warm greetings of Eid-ul-Fitr. May this festival of peace and harmony bring happiness in life," Mr Yediyurappa said in his message.

He congratulated the Muslim fraternity for cooperating with the authorities by offering prayers at home during the holy month of Ramzan and supporting the government to contain COVID-19.

"I hope the same trend will continue during the festivities of Eid-ul-Fitr too. I thank you all for your support in the fight against COVID-19," he said.

The Eid festivities were a low-key affair as Muslim brethren celebrated the festival indoors in view of lockdown to contain coronavirus on Monday.

People offered the special prayers inside their houses instead of performing it in mosques and Eidgah, the open field to perform prayers, and refrained from going out to greet each other.

As the Karnataka government has ordered Sunday Curfew throughout the lockdown-4 till May 31, the otherwise bustling markets in the urban areas of Karnataka remained shut.

People could not venture out to make necessary purchases on Sunday.

The Jama Masjid of Bengaluru at the City Market had asked the Muslims to offer prayers inside their houses and not go to the burial grounds to express their sentiments for the departed souls.

"Mass prayers are not allowed anywhere in Karnataka. Just five important persons managing the mosques offered the prayers. Similarly, people go to the graveyard to pray for the dead ones but this time we asked people to express their sentiments from inside their homes instead of going to the burial grounds," MaulanaMaqsood Imran, the Khateeb-O-Imam,

Jama Masjid, Bengaluru, told PTI. He said, "coronavirus is spreading very rapidly in our country. If we don't follow the guidelines, it will not only cause trouble to us but also to the doctors and the government. It will be the biggest celebration if we abide by the norms."

https://www.ndtv.com/karnataka-news/eid-2020-karnataka-chief-minister-bs-yediyurappa-sends-eid-greetings-thanks-muslims-for-support-amid-covid-19-2234635

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Jamaat chief MaulanaSaad’s eldest son on Crime Branch radar, documents seized: Report

May 26, 2020

The Crime Branch of Delhi Police has seized the bank documents and other important papers of the son of TablighiJamaat chief MaulanaSaad, Hindustan Times’ Hindi language publication Hindustan reported. The Crime Branch has been probing the event organised by the Jamaat at its markaz (centre) in Delhi’s Nizamuddin area in March which emerged as the biggest hotspot of coronavirus disease Covid-19.

Saeed, eldest of the three sons of MaulanaSaad, plays an important role in managing the markaz, Hindustan futher reported quoting officials in the Crime Branch.

The Crime Branch had earlier seized passports and other documents of five members of the markaz. According to Hindustan, these five people were key in running the operations of the markaz. Since their passports have been seized, none of the five people can leave the country till investigation is complete.

MaulanaSaad’s three sons and a nephew are being investigated by the Crime Branch. They form the core team at the markaz.

Apart from this, another Crime Branch team is probing Jamaat’s source of funds. The team has found that the Jamaat had been receiving money from various sources. They are trying to find the identities of the individuals and institutions behind these fundings.

The Crime Branch officials said that they have given notice to 900 people, who attended the Jamaat’s event, and are beinf questioned, Hindustan reported. It said that a few members of the team probing the case were out of action because they contracted Covid-19, but now that they are back, the investigation will be completed soon, Hindustan further reported.

Health Minister Harsh Vardhan had said on Sunday that India felt a “big jolt” with the sudden spike in cases following the Nizamuddinmarkaz incident. He asserted that the incident was a lesson for all communities that when a collective decision is taken by the country it must be followed with discipline.

A large congregation organised in March by the TablighiJamaat in the Nizamuddin area of the national capital had emerged as a major hotspot. Some of the participants, who were later tested positive for coronavirus, had travelled to their home states and other areas.

https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/jamaat-chief-maulana-saad-s-eldest-son-on-crime-branch-radar-documents-seized-report/story-EszTf9F0LdRA9Dxn537OyM.html

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Local explosives used to trigger Pulwama attack

Neeraj Chauhan

May 26, 2020

Terrorists who planned and executed the February 14, 2019 Pulwama attack on a Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) convoy took advantage of pilferage in mineral blocks and stone quarries to procure about 500 gelatin sticks, purchased ammonium nitrate and ammonium powder locally in small tranches, and managed to smuggle in military grade RDX from across the border, according to people familiar with the investigation who gave granular details of the explosives used in the attack that took India and Pakistan to the brink of war last year.

The Pulwama attack -- in which an explosive-laden MarutiEeco was smashed into the CRPF convoy by suicide bomber Adil Ahmed Dar, killing 40 troopers -- led to India retaliating with an aerial attack on a terror camp in Balakot and a subsequent dogfight between the air forces of the two countries.

A counter-insurgency official, sharing details of how explosive material was collected for the Pulwama bombing, said Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) commander Mudassir Ahmed Khan (killed in an encounter in Pinglish on March 11, 2019), Ismail Bhai alias Lambu (currently the main JeM commander in Kashmir), Sameer Ahmed Dar (Jaish’s second-in-command in the Valley) and Shakir Bashir Magrey (arrested by the National Investigation Agency on February 28, 2020) collected the gelatin sticks from the mining blocks and locations used by factories for blasting rocks in the Khrew (Pulwama), Khunmoh (Srinagar), Tral, Awantipora and Lethpora areas over a period of time.

“These gelatin sticks, which have nitroglycerin, were collected in tranches of 5kg to 10kg to avoid raising red flags among the intelligence agencies,” said the official, who asked not to be named.

The ammonium nitrate (around 70 kg) and the ammonium powder were also procured locally in tranches, while around 35kg military grade RDX was brought in from Pakistan, the official added. Some of the ammonium powder was ordered by another Jaish operative, Waiz-ul-Islam (arrested in March 2020 first week), he said.

Forensic experts probing the case have already confirmed that ammonium nitrate, nitroglycerin and RDX were used in the suicide attack.

A senior ministry of home affairs (MHA) official confirmed that NIA had gathered all the evidence on how the explosive material was collected, and who the people behind the delivery were. The RDX, the official said, was brought to India in tranches by JeM terrorists who sneaked into India from Pakistan.

“Gelatin sticks are prohibited for sale in the open market, and only authorised companies or government departments{that} have permission from geology department can use it. However, it has often been seen that there aren’t proper checks at these sites, and explosives used at quarries for blasting mountains/rocks etc. reach the hands of criminals and terrorists. Several advisories have been issued in the past in this regard,” said the MHA official who spoke on condition of anonymity.

The NIA has so far arrested key players in Pulwama attack – including Magrey, Mohammad Abbas Rather, Waiz-ul-Islam, Insha Jan, and her father Tariq Ahmad Shah. They were picked up in the last week of February and first week of March this year.

The agency has also found “definite technical evidence” against the JeM leadership including Maulana Masood Azhar’s brother Abdul RaufAsghar’s communications with outfit’s commanders in the Valley through which it was established that he was giving directions for the Pulwama conspiracy, a third person familiar with the matter said.

The first charge sheet in the case is expected to be filed in August.

HT reported on March 4, 2020 that the Pulwama attack was originally set to be carried out in the first week of February last year. However, when bad weather in the Valley forced a suspension of the convoy movements , the JeM terrorists waited for the next CRPF convoy to use the Jammu-Srinagar highway on February 14.

https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/local-explosives-used-to-trigger-pulwama-attack/story-h5F8JWsy2ivn8fH7VbYgjP.html

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Pakistan army resorts to shelling along LoC in Poonch

May 26, 2020

JAMMU: Pakistan Army on Tuesday resorted to firing and shelling on forward areas along the Line of Control (LoC) in Jammu and Kashmir's Rajouri district, drawing befitting retaliation from Indian soldiers, a defence spokesperson said.

"Pakistan army initiated unprovoked ceasefire violation by small arm firing with mortar shelling along LoC in Balakote sector in Poonch district early Tuesday morning", he said.

He said the Indian Army retaliated befittingly.

The cross-border shelling between the two sides was going on when last reports were received, the officials said.

However, there was no immediate report of any casualty during the shelling.

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/pakistan-army-resorts-to-shelling-along-loc-in-poonch/articleshow/75990608.cms

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Two IS terrorists killed in Kulgam encounter

May 25, 2020

SRINAGAR: Two Islamic State of Jammu and Kashmir (ISJK) terrorists were killed in an anti-insurgency operation by a joint team of security forces in south Kashmir’s Kulgam district on Monday, IGP (Kashmir range) Vijay Kumar said.

The slain terrorists — Adil Ahmad Wani alias Abu Ibrahim and Shaheen Bashir Thoker, both from Shopian district — had picked up arms after the nullification of Articles 370 and 35A in August last year and joined the proscribed Lashkar-e-Taiba outfit before switching to ISJK, said sources.

Based on a tip-off about the presence of terrorists, a joint team of Army’s 34 RR, CRPF and J&K Police launched a cordon-and-search operation in KhurHanjipora area of Kulgam. “As the team neared the terror hideout, the holed-up terrorists opened fire at the search party triggering an encounter in which the duo was killed,” IGP Kumar said, adding that the operation was completed without any collateral damage.

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/two-is-terrorists-killed-in-kulgam-encounter/articleshow/75983084.cms

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India to repatriate 179 stranded Pakistani nationals via Attari

May 25, 2020

AMRITSAR: One hundred and seventy nine Pakistani nationals who are strandard in India post coronavirus induced lockdown will be repatriated to their country on May 27.

According to a communication by ministry of external affairs to commissioner police, Amritsar, the Pakistani nationals, currently residing in various cities of Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Delhi, Maharashtra, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh etc will arrive at Amritsar for repatriation to Pakistan on May 27.

Majority of these Pakistani national had arrived India to meet their relatives but could not return after both India and Pakistan sealed their international borders.

Earlier India had repatriated 193 Pakistani nationals to their country by giving them special permission to crossover to Pakistan via Attari land border which have been sealed to contain the spread of coronavirus.

However there is no information from Pakistan when it will repatriate Indians including over 80 students to India even as the management of colleges where they study have asked them to vacate the hostels.

Other than Indian students, many Indians who had gone to Pakistan to meet their relatives and pay obeisance at religious places are also standard and many of them have spent all their money and are in dire need of medicines.

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/india-to-repatriate-179-stranded-pakistani-nationals-via-attari/articleshow/75981762.cms

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PM Modi greets UAE crown prince, Bangladesh PM on Eid-ul-Fitr

May 25, 2020

NEW DELHI: Prime Minister NarendraModi on Monday conveyed Eid-ul-Fitr greetings to Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan and Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, and discussed the situation emerging out of the coronavirus pandemic.

"Conveyed Eid-ul-Fitr greetings to His Highness @MohamedBinZayed and the friendly people of UAE," Modi wrote on Twitter.

The prime minister also thanked the crown prince, who is also the deputy supreme commander of the United Arab Emirates armed forces, for the cooperation extended to Indian citizens in the UAE.

"India-UAE cooperation has grown even stronger during the Covid-19 challenge," he said.

During his conversation with Prime Minister Hasina, Modi wished her and the people of Bangladesh a happy and prosperous Eid-ul-Fitr.

"We discussed the impact of cyclone Amphan and the present Covid-19 situation. Reiterated India's continued support to Bangladesh in this challenging time," he said in another tweet.

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/pm-modi-greets-uae-crown-prince-bangladesh-pm-on-eid-ul-fitr/articleshow/75978365.cms

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India welcomes Afghan government, Taliban Eid ceasefire

byShubhajit Roy

May 25, 2020

India on Sunday welcomed the ceasefire between the Afghan government and the Taliban over three days covering the festival of Eid.

“We hope that this ceasefire would extend further and become permanent to address the dire humanitarian situation resulting from the coronavirus pandemic and pave the way for durable peace and stability for the people of Afghanistan,” the Ministry of External Affairs said.

“India stands with the people of Afghanistan in their quest for enduring peace, security, sovereignty, and prosperity,” the statement added.

Earlier, India had expressed concern over the violence in the country despite a deal between the US and the Taliban that would allow for the US to withdraw its troops from Afghanistan after a more than 18-year long stay.

Last week, on May 17, within hours of a power-sharing deal between Afghanistan’s President Ashraf Ghani and his rival Abdullah Abdullah on Sunday after months of political discord triggered by last year’s disputed presidential election, India on Sunday welcomed the deal.

In its response, India hoped the political agreement and creation of a council for national reconciliation will result in renewed efforts for establishing enduring peace and stability, and putting an end to externally sponsored terrorism and violence in Afghanistan.

“India welcomes the political agreement concluded by the political leadership in Kabul today,” the Ministry of External Affairs had said in a statement.

It had said India is concerned over continuing violence and terror attacks in Afghanistan and called for an immediate ceasefire as well as assistance to people reeling under the coronavirus pandemic.

According to the deal, Ghani will stay as the president while Abdullah will helm the High Council of National Reconciliation (HCNR) with executive authority and his team will have a 50 per cent share in the cabinet, Afghan media reports said.

https://indianexpress.com/article/india/india-afghan-government-taliban-eid-ceasefire-6425935/

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Pakistan

 

Pakistan warns to reimpose lockdown if flouting of coronavirus safety measures continues: Official

May 25, 2020

ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan government would reimpose a strict lockdown in the country if violations of the safety measures against the spread of coronavirus continued, a senior official said on Monday.

Pakistan's coronavirus cases on Monday reached 56,349 with 1,748 new patients while the death toll climbed to 1,167 after 34 people lost their lives in the last 24 hours.

Coronavirus lockdown: Latest updates

The warning by the Pakistan government comes weeks after after the nation had started phase-wise easing of the nation-wide lockdown earlier this month.

In a message, Special Assistant on Health Dr Zafar Mirza said the government eased lockdown before Eid but people flouted necessary standard operating procedures (SOPs) creating fear and uncertainty.

“As we promised when we eased the lockdown, if this trend continues we may reimpose strict lockdowns after Eid,” he said.

He observed that apparently there was perception that threat of the coronavirus was over.

"Unfortunately, there is now this thinking among us that this disease (COVID-19) was only here till Eid and that somehow it' will disappear after Eid. This is a huge misunderstanding,” he said.

He warned that carelessness may result in a tragedy.

"I want to warn Pakistanis that if you don't take precautionary measures, this crisis could turn into a huge tragedy. I urge the nation to act with extreme responsibility to curb the spread of the virus,” he said. Mirza said that the cases were rising very fast and there was more need to be careful.

"Unfortunately, there are 112 patients intubated in Pakistan right now. These patients are critically ill and are fighting for their lives at this very moment." Mirza said.

The authorities also had conducted 483,656 tests in the country, including 10,049 on Sunday.

The trajectory showed that the number was steadily going up and it was feared that it would further curve up in the wake of easing of lockdown before Eid which was observed on Sunday.

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/pakistan/pakistan-warns-to-reimpose-lockdown-if-flouting-of-coronavirus-safety-measures-continues-official/articleshow/75983234.cms

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Faisalabad: the end of Ramadan, an opportunity for Muslim-Christian encounter and dialogue

byShafiqueKhokhar

05/25/2020

Faisalabad (AsiaNews) – Eid al-Fitr, the holiday that marks the end of Ramadan, the holy month of fasting and prayer, was held yesterday in Pakistan.

For Bishop IndriasRehmat of Faisalabad (Punjab), it was a time to be “united” as citizens of Pakistan, to share the joy and happiness that come from an event that is both “religious holy day as well as a cultural event.” For the prelate, “Such festivals bring us closer and give us the opportunity to sit together and think about others who are in need.”

Over the weekend, the bishop visited several Muslim clerics and political officials in Faisalabad. He was accompanied by the Vicar General, FrAbidTanvir, the director of the Commission for interreligious dialogue Fr Pascal Poolus and the director of the local chapter of the National Commission for Justice and Peace (NCJP), Fr Khalid Rashid.

In the various meetings, the Christian delegation presented cakes, tributes for the feast and the special message of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, issued by the Holy See Press Office at the start of Ramadan.

The Catholic delegation met with local Muslim clerics, including MaulanaPir Ibrahim Sialvi, MulanaYousaf Anwar, and MulanaZahidMahmoodQasami, who play a pivotal role in interfaith dialogue and harmony in Faisalabad.

“Through the Eid al-Fitr, we want to spread a message of brotherhood, peace, love, coexistence among all communities in Pakistan,” said Bishop Rehmat, adding that “we all pray for the country and the world so that we can get rid of the pandemic.”

During Ramadan, the bishop and Muslim leaders joined together to invoke the end of the COVID-19 emergency. During their meetings, the parties explored issues and thoughts related to the document on human brotherhood signed last year in Abu Dhabi by Pope Francis and the Grand Imam of al-Azhar Ahmad al-Tayyeb.

http://www.asianews.it/news-en/Faisalabad:-the-end-of-Ramadan,-an-opportunity-for-Muslim-Christian-encounter-and-dialogue-50170.html

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In phone call, PM Imran and Erdogan decide to enhance cooperation against Covid-19

Sanaullah Khan

May 25, 2020

Prime Minister Imran Khan and Turkish President RecepTayyipErdogan have decided to enhance bilateral cooperation between the two countries against the Covid-19 pandemic, a statement issued by the Prime Minister's Office said on Monday.

In a telephone call to PM Imran, Erdogan exchanged EidulFitr greetings and also offered his condolences on the "tragic" plane crash in Karachi, the statement said.

PM Imran briefed President Erdogan on the steps his government had taken to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus in Pakistan.

The premier also thanked the Turkish president for providing Pakistan with medical equipment during the ongoing pandemic, which he said was "reflective of historic linkages between the two countries to help each other in times of need".

Reiterating his earlier remarks about the need to have a coordinated plan of action on debt relief for developing countries, the prime minister told Erdogan such restructuring plans, among others, were needed to stave off "socioeconomic turbulence".

PM Imran also apprised the Turkish president of the worsening human rights situation in occupied Kashmir, which he said was accentuated by a "double lockdown and intensified military crackdown".

"He [PM Imran] also shared Pakistan’s concerns on India’s moves to alter the demographic structure of the occupied territory, while the world was preoccupied with fighting the pandemic," the press release added.

The prime minister briefed Erdogan on the demonisation of Indian Muslims amid the novel coronavirus outbreak in India, saying that India's actions should be rejected by the international community, the statement read.

https://www.dawn.com/news/1559431/in-phone-call-pm-imran-and-erdogan-decide-to-enhance-cooperation-against-covid-19

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CSP officer among three shot dead in North Waziristan

Sirajuddin

May 25, 2020

Three people, including a senior civil servant, Zubaidullah Khan, were shot dead in an act of targeted killing in Mir Ali, North Waziristan, on the first day of Eid, police said.

Khan was an officer of the Information Group and was currently posted as director of Pakistan Housing Authority (PHA) in Islamabad. He was visiting his family village for EidulFitr holidays.

The other two victims were identified as Farmanullah and Naimatullah. All the three victims belonged to the Dawar tribe, police said, and were returning home after offering Eid prayers when unidentified motorcycle riders opened fire on them before escaping.

The victims were rushed to a nearby hospital, where they succumbed to their injuries, according to a senior police officer.

DanyalGilani, a senior civil servant and former spokesman of national airline PIA, also tweeted about the passing away of his colleague.

A first information report (FIR) of the targeted killings has not been registered, a senior police official told Dawn.com, speaking on the condition of anonymity.

According to North Waziristan police, initial investigations revealed the incident was a terror attack, which was why the FIR would have to be registered under the anti-terrorism act.

“We have sent an initial report and a letter to the Counter Terrorism Department (CTD), Bannu, requesting them to register an FIR of the incident,” the police official said.

Jirga demands govt end violence, warns of protests

Meanwhile, political elders of the area met today and held a jirga after a spate of violent incidents.

They expressed concern over the law and order situation in North Waziristan and demanded the government to take immediate action to remedy the recent increase in violence, adding that if the situation did not improve, they would be forced to launch protest demonstrations.

This is the fourth major incident of targeted killing in the Waziristan area this month.

Five people were killed in two firing incidents in North Waziristan earlier this month while a prominent leader of the Pashtun Tahaffuz Movement, ArifWazir, was also killed in an attack near Wana on May 2.

Ten security personnel were martyred in North Waziristan district in April while six suffered injuries in attacks and clashes with militants.

https://www.dawn.com/news/1559426/csp-officer-among-three-shot-dead-in-north-waziristan

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South Asia

 

HRW: 200 homes burned down in Rakhine State of Myanmar

May 26th, 2020

It also said the damage analysis of 200 buildings being burned was most likely an underestimate as internal damage to buildings were not visible

US-based rights group Human Rights Watch (HRW) has called for an urgent impartial investigation into the mass destruction of residential properties in a predominantly ethnic village in the Muslim minority Rakhine State of Myanmar, where satellite images showed more than 200 homes of being burned down.

In a statement on their website on Tuesday, HRW said satellite imagery showed that about 200 homes and other buildings were destroyed by fire on May 16, 2020, in the predominantly ethnic Rakhine village of Let Kar in the Mrauk-U township of Myanmar’s embattled Rakhine State.

“Since January 2019, fighting between the Myanmar military and the ethnic RakhineArakan Army has resulted in numerous civilian casualties and destruction of civilian property. The imagery of Let Kar bears a close resemblance to patterns of fires and widespread arson attacks by the Myanmar military on ethnic Rohingya villages in Rakhine State in 2012, 2016, and 2017,” the statement said.

 “A credible and impartial investigation is urgently needed to find out what happened, punish those responsible, and provide compensation to villagers harmed,” HRW Deputy Asia director Phil Robertson said.

The rights group also said satellite imagery recorded on May 16, 2020, at 10:30am showed no signs of damage in Let Kar. But at 2:12 pm, an environmental satellite detected extensive fires burning at the village.

It also said the damage analysis of 200 buildings being burned was most likely an underestimate as internal damage to buildings were not visible, it added.

“Myanmar’s government should not leave the investigation of this incident to the military, which has repeatedly covered up atrocities and exonerated its troops,” Robertson said.

“To ensure a credible investigation, the government should request UN assistance.”

“The satellite imagery is consistent with witness accounts regarding the date and time of the fires and the number of buildings affected. Residents in the neighbouring village of Bu Ywat Ma Nyo told the media they saw Myanmar soldiers walk past their village to enter Let Kar around 2 pm on May 16 and leave around 5pm,” the statement said.

“The two villages are nearly one kilometre apart. After the soldiers entered Let Kar, Bu Ywat Ma Nyo residents reported hearing gunfire, saw flames and smoke, and observed two aerial drones, one flying above Let Kar and another flying over Bu Ywat Ma Nyo village.”

The rights group also quoted an aid worker from the town of Mrauk-U that at 2pm on May 16, columns of smoke could be seen coming from the direction of Let Kar, 11 kilometers north.

“There was no one living there after the fighting last year as [the residents] had fled, but the older people really have nowhere to go now,” he said.

“They had been sheltering in IDP [internally displaced persons] camps in TeinMyo and Bu Ywat Ma Nyo villages and had at least been able to go home and collect their belongings or check their homes from time to time. Now they don’t have anything – it’s very sad,” the aid worker told the rights group.

A Rakhine State regional member of parliament, TunTharSein, confirmed HRW that a military contingent had been in the area.

“We will urge the union government for compensation and aid to be provided to the residents of Let Kar,” he said.

On May 17, Myanmar’s military released a statement that its troops had entered Let Kar the previous afternoon while patrolling the area and were attacked by the Arakan Army. It also issued an aerial view image of burning buildings in Let Kar, presumably taken by a drone.

The military accused the Arakan Army of setting the fires and damaging at least 20 houses before retreating into the mountains.

On May 19, the Arakan Army issued a statement denying the allegations, where their spokesperson, KhineThuka, urged the media to investigate.

Since August 25, 2017, Bangladesh has been hosting over 1.1 million Rohingyas following a military crackdown on the predominantly Muslim minority state Rakhine.

https://www.dhakatribune.com/bangladesh/rohingya-crisis/2020/05/26/hrw-200-homes-burned-down-in-rakhine-state-of-myanmar

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U.S. reacts to President Ghani’s announcement for the release of 2000 Taliban prisoners

26 May 2020

Washington reacted to President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani’s announcement for the release of 2,000 Taliban prisoners, reciprocating the declaration of ceasefire during Eid Days.

“Last night I and Dr. Abdullah received a call from Sec Mike Pompeo. He thanked the Afghan government for initiating the brave process of releasing up to 2,000 Taliban prisoners. He asserted that the U.S. will push for a long-term ceasefire/RiV and start of direct negotiations,” Ghani said in a Twitter post.

Ghani, on Monday, responded to the gesture of goodwill by Taliban group and vowed to release 2,000 Taliban prisoners.

The Office of the President, ARG Palace, in a statement said President Ghani convened a meeting in ARG Palace late on Sunday to discuss the release of Taliban prisoners in return to Taliban’s gesture of goodwill for announcing ceasefire during Eid Days.

Ghani had earlier ordered the Afghan forces to return to defense posture while welcoming the announcement of ceasefire by Taliban during Eid Days.

In his speech on the occasion of Eid Al-Fitr, Ghani vowed that the government would expedite the release of Taliban prisoners.

https://www.khaama.com/u-s-reacts-to-president-ghanis-announcement-for-the-release-of-2000-taliban-prisoners-08861/

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Afghanistan to free 900 more Taliban prisoners

May 26, 2020

KABUL: Afghan authorities plan to release 900 more Taliban prisoners Tuesday, as a rare cease-fire by the insurgents entered its third and last day.

The pause in fighting, which came into effect Sunday to mark the Muslim holiday of Eid Al-Fitr, was for the most part holding out across the country, officials said.

The government earlier responded to the Taliban’s cease-fire offer by announcing plans to release up to 2,000 insurgent prisoners.

On Monday they freed 100 people and will release another 900 on Tuesday, the government said, the biggest group of Taliban prisoners freed so far.

“There is a decision to release 900 today,” National Security Council spokesman Javid Faisal told AFP.

But the exact number could vary subject to legal procedures, he added.

The cease-fire, only the second of its kind in the 19-year-old conflict, has raised hopes of an extended truce that could pave the way for long-awaited peace talks between the Taliban and Afghan government.

President Ashraf Ghani has said his administration is ready to begin the negotiations, seen as key to ending the war in the impoverished country.

On Tuesday officials said the cease-fire, the country’s first initiated by the Taliban, had largely been observed.

The only other comparable pause in violence came over Eid in 2018, an olive branch offered by Ghani.

Violence in Afghanistan escalated after the Taliban signed a deal with Washington in February to withdraw all US forces by next year.

The agreement also stipulated the Afghan government would first release up to 5,000 Taliban prisoners and the militants would free about 1,000 national security personnel.

Prior to this week’s releases, Kabul had already freed about 1,000 Taliban inmates, while the insurgents had let go about 300 Afghan security forces captives.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has welcomed the cease-fire, and said the freed Taliban fighters should not return to the battlefield.

https://www.arabnews.com/node/1680146/world

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Europe

 

Georgian PM extends Ramadan congratulations to Muslims

26 May 2020

Georgian Prime Minister GiorgiGakharia has congratulated the Muslims living in Georgia on the occasion of Ramadan, Trend reports via the prime minister's press office.

GiorgiGakharia met with Muslim religious leaders at the government administration on May 25.

During the meeting, Gakharia emphasized the multi-century long tradition of peaceful coexistence of representatives of different nationalities and religions in Georgia.

“It is a great honor for us to have the opportunity to congratulate our Muslim citizens on the occasion of Ramadan. This is a day of reconciliation, warmth, love, and caring for each other. I once again congratulate every Muslim on this great holiday,” Gakharia said.

Muslim religious leaders of Georgia thanked the prime minister for his assistance to the Muslim community in recent years.

https://en.trend.az/scaucasus/georgia/3245116.html

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Muslims in Italy follow rules while celebrating Eid Al-Fitr

May 26, 2020

ROME: Italy’s Muslims gathered in parks and public squares to celebrate the end of Ramadan, as many of the country’s mosques remained shut because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Islamic places of worship have been going slow on welcoming back congregations, despite an easing of a months-long lockdown, in order to guarantee social distancing and other preventive steps required under an agreement between Muslim communities and the government.

Mosques and prayer rooms will have to respect the same strict rules which have been imposed on Catholic churches. Halls will have to be sanitized before and after every prayer and a maximum of 200 people will be allowed, even in the biggest places of worship. For outdoor prayers a limit of 1,000 people has been set and each worshipper must be spaced at least one meter apart from the next. Those with a temperature above 37.5 degrees cannot enter.

Italian media reported that Muslims gathered to perform Eid prayers in compliance with anti-coronavirus measures.

“Happy Eid Al-Fitr to all Muslims in Italy as they have two reasons to celebrate,” YassineLafram, president of the Union of Islamic Communities in Italy (UCOII), said in a message.

“This is not the only festivity closing the holy month of Ramadan, it matters even more to us all this year in Italy as it finally marks the return of our faithful to the mosque after several months of lockdown due to coronavirus. The Muslim faithful all over Italy now pray to God to accept the fasts, prayers and every good deed carried out during this holy  month and bring peace and blessing to our homes, so that phase two in the fight against COVID-19 in Italy will start in the best way possible.”

Many Muslims celebrated Eid at home with immediate family members. Those who decided to meet and pray together outside their households did it while “strictly respecting” health protocols and social distancing to avoid risk of infection, UCOII said. The organization asked people to display the same “utmost prudence and responsibility” when entering every place of worship from now on.

At Milan’s Al-Wahid Mosque Imam Yahya Sergio Pallavicini set up spacing for 140 new prayer mats. There are different entry and exit points for men and women, along with dedicated courtyards.

Sanitization is carried out regularly while detergents, disinfecting gel and personal protective equipment are being offered by city authorities. “We pray for the inner and outer health of believers and Italian people,” Pallavicini said at the start of Eid prayers.

Almost 200 people gathered to pray in Rome’s Piazza Vittorio Emanuele. Muslims arranged their prayer mats and moved about in line with social distancing rules. Posters in Italian and Arabic told people that hugging was not allowed.

“Even if we are in an outside space, nobody has to get too close,” the imam told his flock before prayers commenced. “It is mandatory and for the sake of everyone’s health.” There were children in the congregation too, and everyone wore face masks.

“I am so happy that I am finally meeting my friends for this prayer, but we have to stay apart,” 13-year-old Samir told Arab News. “We will have time to embrace, to play together in the future, when the virus will be gone.” He said he had missed going to his mosque, near FurioCamillo station, during the lockdown.

“I prayed with my father, of course we were following prayers on YouTube and on Facebook. But it was not the same. Here I really feel part of a group sharing a faith. And it is great to be together again,” he added.

In Piazza Re di Roma, in the southern part of the city center, 250 Muslims gathered to pray. “We just prayed together, and stayed in the square for an hour only,” 31-year-old Latif told Arab News. “The celebration will be with our families later on.”

An outdoor celebration took place in the Sicilian capital Palermo with Mayor LeolucaOrlando also joining in. “We are happy for this celebration which marks another sign of the return to normality of our communities,” he told Arab News. “Being able to pray together is one of the most important needs for a religion as that improves the sense of community. Now we can do it again together: and that’s a great sign not only for the Muslim community but for the entire population of Palermo.”

https://www.arabnews.com/node/1680036/world

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Muslim man arrested for breaking into UK gurdwara

25 MAY 2020

By Aditi Khanna

London, May 25 (PTI) A Muslim man has been arrested by the UK police for breaking into a gurdwara in an area in eastern England where a stabbing incident was reported earlier.

Guru ArjanGurdwara on Stanhope Street in Derbyshire reported a break-in to Derbyshire Police after its front doors were found smashed in the early hours of Monday morning.

"From the evidence obtained thus far, the male''s attire and the note which was left (behind), (it) appears that he is of Muslim background," the gurdwara said in a Facebook post.

"This is an area with a multicultural community, where all have lived and worked together for many years. Especially during these times, faith-based charities have been at the forefront. This incident nor this message will create any tension between relations, but how you react to this will," it added.

Urging for calm, the gurudwara said an individual or a small group was probably behind the incident.

"We should not malign the whole Muslim community and therefore request people to refrain from such posts," it added.

According to local media reports, police believe the break-in is linked to a stabbing nearby on Normanton Road. In the incident, a 41-year-old man was found unconscious with stab wounds after he was attacked in Polanica Polish delicatessen, a food outlet.

The man arrested in relation to the deli incident is now believed to have been arrested on suspicion of burglary in relation to the temple break-in.

Local police said they do not believe anyone else was involved in the incidents but that investigation remains ongoing, ''Derbyshire Live'' reported.

Derbyshire Police Superintendent Gareth Meadows said: “I would like to thank the Sikh community and the local people in Normanton for their assistance with our enquiries.

"Our officers remain in the area. If you have any information in relation to these two incidents please speak to the officers or contact us using the methods stated,” he said.

British Sikh parliamentarian, Labour MP Preet Kaur Gill, said in a Twitter statement: “Very sad to see an attack on any place of worship. Thoughts are with the Derby sangat who have been providing 500 meals a day from Guru ArjanDevGurdwara."

Local Derby city councillor Baggy Shanker, who is a member of the gurdwara, described the attack as "cowardly".

He said: “The police need to act promptly to deal with this individual and bring him to justice. Derby''s communities have a very long and good understanding of each other''s values and share the utmost respect for people''s beliefs.

"This isolated issue is not any reflection on that and must be treated with firmly and quickly,” Shanker said. PTI AK IND AKJ IND

https://www.outlookindia.com/newsscroll/muslim-man-arrested-for-breaking-into-uk-gurdwara/1845812

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Turkish coast guard rescues 72 asylum seekers

TezcanEkizler

26.05.2020

Turkish Coast Guard teams rescued at least 72 asylum seekers Monday from four boats in the Aegean Sea.

Acting on a tip-off, the rescue team reached out to the asylum seekers, who were on board inflatable boats that were forced into Turkish territorial waters by the Greek Coast Guard.

The asylum seekers – including Afghans, Congolese, Guineans and Pakistanis – were rescued off the coast of Foca in Izmir province. They were taken to the provincial migration office.

Turkey has been one of the main routes for asylum seekers wanting to reach Europe, especially since Syria’s civil war started in 2011.

Turkey hosts nearly four million Syrians, more than any other country in the world.

https://www.aa.com.tr/en/europe/turkish-coast-guard-rescues-72-asylum-seekers/1853470

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Mideast

 

Coronavirus: Iran reopens Shia Muslim shrines after two-month closure

25 May 2020

Iran has reopened its major Shia Muslim shrines, two months after they were closed to combat the coronavirus.

Worshippers will be allowed to access courtyards, but not covered areas. They must also wear face masks and abide by social distancing rules.

People were sprayed with disinfectant and had their temperatures checked at Tehran's AbdolAzim shrine on Monday.

Iran has suffered the Middle East's worst Covid-19 outbreak, with 137,000 cases and 7,450 deaths reported.

In recent weeks, the government has begun relaxing restrictions in an attempt to revive an economy that was already in crisis because of US sanctions.

Iran's Shia shrines are visited every year by tens of millions of pilgrims, who spend many hours praying near the tombs they house. Many also kiss or touch the tombs.

When the holy city of Qom emerged as the epicentre of the Covid-19 outbreak in late February, health experts expressed alarm that the shrine of HazratMasumeh was not shut. Its custodian said it should stay open as a "house for cure".

On 16 March, as the official death toll approached 1,000, the government ordered the closure of major religious sites, schools and universities to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

The decision angered some hardliners, and mobs attempted to break into the shrine of HazratMasumeh and also the shrine of Imam Reza in Mashhad.

On Monday, the shrines were allowed to reopen with some limitations.

Visitors will have to comply with health ministry guidelines, including wearing face masks and observing social distancing, and bring their own prayer rugs.

The shrines will open one hour after dawn and close one hour before sunset, rather than remain open around the clock.

TV footage showed hundreds of worshippers - some in tears - running into Mashhad's Imam Reza shrine early on Monday, with officials trying to ensure they observed social distancing.

At Tehran's AbdolAzim shrine, people had to walk through a disinfection tunnel and have their temperature checked, according to AFP news agency.

Museums and historical sites reopened on Sunday to coincide with the festival of Eid al-Fitr, which marks the end of the Islamic holy month of Ramadan.

In a speech on Saturday, President Hassan Rouhani urged Iranians to continue following health guidelines because "we have not yet reached a point where we can have assurances" that the country's Covid-19 outbreak is under control.

He said Iran was approaching the "fourth stage" of the fight against the disease, in which the process of identifying and isolating people infected with the coronavirus would be intensified.

https://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-52797959

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Erdogan’s ‘hypocrisy’ over Israel’s land grab in Palestine

May 26, 2020

ISTANBUL: Turkish President RecepTayyipErdogan risked accusations of hypocrisy on Monday as he repeated his denunciations of Israel’s occupation and annexations in Palestine while allowing the Israeli airline El Al to resume cargo flights between Tel Aviv and Istanbul.

The first such flight in 10 years landed in Istanbul on Sunday morning to pick up humanitarian aid and protective equipment for US medical teams fighting the coronavirus pandemic.

As the plane touched down, Erdogan was sending a message to US Muslims restating his support for Palestinian rights in Jerusalem and his rejection of Israeli oppression.

“Last week we witnessed that a new occupation and annexation project, which disrespects Palestine’s sovereignty and international law, was implemented by Israel,” he said.

“I would like to reiterate that Al-Quds Al-Sharif, the holy site of three religions and our first qiblah, is a red line for all Muslims worldwide.”

Israel’s new unity government led by Benjamin Netanyahu and Benny Gantz is expected to move forward soon with plans to annex swaths of the West Bank and Jordan Valley.

Meanwhile, as Arab News reported this month, Turkey is in controversial talks with Israel over mutually beneficial maritime borders in the Mediterranean. Erdogan is attempting a risky political balancing act, analysts told Arab News.

“I think Turkey is trying to create economic ties with Israel because the political benefits of blockade and isolation have weakened,” said Ryan Bohl, a Middle East analyst at the geopolitical risk company Stratfor.

“But at the same time, they do want to keep some of that tradition of sympathy for Palestine alive for those remaining supporters who still prize the issue.”

https://www.arabnews.com/node/1680041/middle-east

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Iran, Iraq Underline Heightened Anti-Terrorism Cooperation

May 25, 2020

The meeting was held between Iraqi Interior Minister Othman al-Ghanemi and Iran’s Military Attaché Brigadier-General MostafaMoradian on Sunday. International resolve to fight terrorism surfaced in the meeting held in presence of Iranian Ambassador to Iraq, IrajMasjedi.

Masjedi, for his part, congratulated al-Kazemi on Eid al-Fitr, and wished success for the new Iraqi prime minister.

They discussed numerous issues, including coronavirus, acceleration in coordination of consular affairs, and cooperation between Tehran and Baghdad in fighting terrorism.

Masjedi said in the meeting that Iran is ready to help Iraq in different fields.

Al-Ghanami, for his part, referred to Iran’s assistance to Iraq to fight against the ISIL terrorist group, saying that Iraq is ready to cooperate with Iran in different fields including fighting terrorism. 

In a relevant development last Wednesday, Iraqi Defense Minister JumaAnadSaadoun in a meeting with Masjedi underscored his country’s willingness and preparedness to further reinvigorate relations and cooperation with Tehran.

During the meeting in Baghdad, Anad appreciated Iran's efforts in fighting terrorism.

He said Iraq is ready to promote cooperation with Iran.

Masjedi, for his part, congratulated Anad for his election as defense minister of Iraq.

He also underlined Iran's readiness for developing relations with Iraq.

The Iranian ambassador noted that no efforts will be spared in line with having a powerful Iraq.

https://en.farsnews.ir/newstext.aspx?nn=13990305000162

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Coronavirus: Palestinians easing COVID-19 restrictions in West Bank

25 May 2020

Mosques, churches and businesses in the occupied West Bank will reopen on Tuesday in an easing of coronavirus restrictions, Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh said on Monday.

The Palestinian Authority declared a health emergency in March and imposed lockdowns after the first cases of the novel coronavirus were confirmed in the West Bank town of Bethlehem.

Shtayyeh said it was time to “cautiously return life to normal” now that infection rates had slowed.

The reopening of houses of worship, shops and factories on Tuesday will coincide with the last day of the Eid El-Fitr holiday marking the end of the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan.

Shtayyeh said that government ministries and offices would reopen on Wednesday and that checkpoints set up to limit traffic between West Bank cities would be removed.

The Palestinian Health Ministry has confirmed 423 cases of the new coronavirus in the West Bank and two deaths.

The health crisis has led to a 50 percent fall in commercial revenues in the West Bank, in a blow to an already ailing economy in which unemployment is at 17.6 percent, local officials said.

In the Gaza Strip, which is run by the Palestinian Authority’s rival, the Islamist group Hamas, 54 coronavirus cases and one death have been recorded.

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/coronavirus/2020/05/25/Coronavirus-Palestinians-easing-COVID-19-restrictions-in-West-Bank0.html

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Cuban President: Iranian Tankers Break US "Unacceptable" Blockade on Venezuela

May 25, 2020

The official Cuban news agency Prensa Latina quoted Diaz-Canel as making the remarks on Monday.

Earlier, Venezuelan President NicolásMaduro thanked Iranian support, stressing that Caracas and Tehran are both after peace, and have right to do free trade.

Iran's second oil tanker, Forest, arrived in Venezuela amid the US threats.

Forest entered the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) of Venezuela early Sunday, met by the country's navy.

It follows the first of five Iranian vessels carrying an estimated total of 1.53 barrels of gasoline between them, Sputnik reported.

The first vessel, the 'Fortune', successfully reached Venezuela the day before and was escorted into the port by the Bolivarian Navy.

Three more oil tankers are expected to arrive in Venezuela from Iran. The five vessels are carrying an estimated 1.53 million barrels of gasoline between them.

Iran has warned of repercussions from the potential interception of Iranian tankers by the US.

On Saturday, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said his country is always entitled to defend its sovereignty and territorial integrity, and warned that if his country's oil tankers in the Caribbean or anywhere in the world get into trouble by the Americans, Tehran will definitely retaliate.

“Although some of the US measures have created unacceptable conditions in different parts of the world, we will not be the initiator of tension and clash,” Rouhani said in a phone call with the Qatari Emir, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani.

Referring to the American moves in the Caribbean, he reiterated, “If our oil tankers face problems in the Caribbean Sea or anywhere in the world by the Americans, they will face problems reciprocally.”

We see the conditions today more apt for cooperation, especially given the outbreak of this disease; but the US continues its incorrect decisions and inhumane behaviors, the president noted.

He made it clear, “As before, we stress that the security of our region, particularly the marine security, is maintained by the regional countries and we have always announced that we are ready for cooperation with the neighboring countries.”

The Qatari Emir, for his part, underlined that the regional security should be maintained by the countries in the region and they should cooperate with each other to secure waterways in the region.

Hamad Al Thani also added that his country will try to deescalate tension.

Also, Chief of Staff of the Iranian Armed Forces Major General Mohammad HosseinBagheri on Friday warned Washington of the dire repercussions of any hostile move against Iran's interests, vowing that Tehran would not hesitate to strike back in case it is targeted by the US.

Bagheri noted Iran’s right to free shipment in the high seas, and stressed that the armed forces are constantly monitoring every small move of the enemies, including the adventurous, terrorist and antihuman American army in the region and faraway lands.

"We stand firm and decided to give the US an appropriate response for any miscalculation against the national interests of Iran," the top commander stressed, in a stern warning to the US to avoid any hostile move aganst five Iranian tankers carrying fuel to Venezuela.

Venezuela's defense minister said Wednesday that planes and ships from the nation's armed forces will escort Iranian tankers arriving with fuel to the gasoline-starved country to prevent any US aggression.

Defense Minister Vladimir PadrinoLópez said Venezuela's navy and air force will welcome the five Iranian tankers, seeing them through the nation's maritime territory and into port.

He compared the fuel tankers to humanitarian aid that China and Russia have sent to help Venezuela combat the new coronavirus pandemic.

Meantime, Iranian Defense Minister Brigadier General Amir Hatami warned the US against any hostile move or trouble-making for the country’s oil tankers in international waters.

“Troubling the oil tankers is a violation of international laws and security. Both international organizations and countries which are sensitive to the laws and waterways’ security should certainly show reaction to such an act,” General Hatami told reporters after a cabinet meeting in Tehran on Wednesday.

He described any possible US trouble-making for the Iranian tankers in the free waters as “piracy”.

“Of course, our policy is fully clear and we have clearly announced that we will not tolerate any disturbance. The Americans and others know that we certainly do not hesitate to react to any such move and if the disturbances increase and continue, they will certainly face a firm response,” General Hatami said.

Reuters had quoted a senior official in President Donald Trump’s administration as saying last Thursday that the United States is considering measures it could take in response to Iran’s shipment of fuel to Venezuela.

“...we’re looking at measures that can be taken,” the official added, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Informed sources told Nour News website, close to Iran’s Supreme National Security Council (SNSC), that the US has sent four of its combat warships along with Boeing P-8 Poseidon fighters to the Caribbean.

In response to the US threats, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad JavadZarif sent a letter to UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to caution over likely US menace against Iranian oil tankers in the Caribbean, stressing that America would be responsible for ensuing consequences.

Zarif described the US' provocative threats as piracy and a big threat to world peace and security, stressing that the US must stop bullying in the world and respect the rule of the international law, especially freedom of shipping in high seas.

Calling the US government responsible for the repercussions of any illegal move, the top diplomat underlined Iran's right to take necessary measures to counter these threats.

Furthermore, Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araqchi summoned the Swiss ambassador, representing US interests in Tehran, to express the country's intensive protest at US provocations.

Araqchi called on the Swiss envoy to convey Iran's serious warning to the US officials against any likely threat posed by the US to Iran’s oil tankers.

He noted that Iran and Venezuela enjoy "completely legitimate and legal commercial ties," adding that the US resorting to bullying measures will be considered as a menace to "free shipping, international trade and the free flow of energy."

Such measures, the Iranian diplomat said, are flagrant examples of piracy and explicit violation of international laws and, as such, defy the goals and principles explicated in the UN Charter.

He also warned that any threat against the Iranian ships will ensue Iran's prompt and categorical reaction, and the US administration will be responsible for their consequences.

The Swiss envoy, for his part, said he will instantly convey Iran’s message to the US administration and inform the Iranian government of the results as soon as possible.

Also, the Iranian foreign ministry warned on Monday that any hostile act by Washington against the country’s oil tankers in the international waters will face a crushing response.

“What the Americans have said about our oil tankers is illegal and if they make a move, they will face Iran’s reaction,” Foreign Ministry Spokesman Seyed Abbas Mousavi told reporters via a video conference.

He noted that Iran has given the necessary advice to the Americans via the Swiss embassy, which represents the US interests in Tehran, and Foreign Minister Mohammad JavadZarif has also written a letter to the UN chief in this regard, expressing the hope that Washington does not make any “stupid” move.

“Free trade among independent states is a legitimate issue. The US in Trump era is disturbing the global order and is after global anarchism,” Mousavi said.

Also on Monday, Iranian Government Spokesman Ali Rabiyee confirmed his country’s exports of gasoline to Venezuela, warning against any US hostile act against Iran’s tankers in the international waters.

“Iran has sent the gasoline tankers at the demand of Venezuelan government. No state is duty-bound to implement the US-desired sanctions,” Rabiyee told reporters in Tehran.

He called on the international society to show reaction to the US illegal warnings about its imminent action against the Iranian oil tankers in the international waters, and said, “The US has a record of piracy.”

“It is still soon to speak about the reactions, but we consider all options and hope that the Americans will not make any mistake,” Rabiyee said.

https://en.farsnews.ir/newstext.aspx?nn=13990305000282

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Armenian Ambassador Asks for Revival of Strong Trade Ties with Iran

May 25, 2020

In the meeting in Tehran on Sunday, Toumanian expressed his country's tendency for expansion of trade ties with Iran and swap of goods with the country.

"Armenia is interested in expanding trade relations with Iran more than before," he said.

"Commercial trade between the two countries should be revived by returning trade activities and relations to pre-Corona conditions and swapping goods," Toumanian said.

He also called for more information on Iran's export capabilities in the field of anti-coronavirus products.

The Iranian official, for his turn, said that "we still expect to see the expansion of trade between the two countries due to the great potential of cooperation between the two sides."

As said in this meeting, Iran and Armenia will hold the first meeting of their mutual industrial and commercial working group very soon.

In relevant remarks on May 10, Deputy head of the Iranian presidency’s office for scientific affairs Mehdi Qalenoyee said that Iranian firms are going to export.

Qalenoyee said export of two types of coronavirus test kits to the Philippines and Pakistan was waiting for confirmation from the local officials after Iranian companies manufacturing the special tools sent sample kits to labs in those countries.

He added that India, Nigeria and Armenia will receive the items once travel restrictions are eased.

https://en.farsnews.ir/newstext.aspx?nn=13990305000227

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Iranian President Stresses Need for Full Implementation of Health Protocols for Reopening of Crowded Places

May 25, 2020

In a phone conversation with Health Minister Saeed Namaki on Sunday, Rouhani referred to the reopening of crowded places, holy places, and offices and businesses, saying that health protocols should be fully implemented.

He also stressed the relevant organizations' efforts to control coronavirus and inflation on separate phone calls with Namaki and the governor of Central Bank of Iran (CBI).

Tehran witnessed different scenes on Sunday morning as Eid al-Fitr prayers were held all over the capital with limited crowds gathered in mosques due to coronavirus epidemic.

After one month of fasting, people held Eid al-Fitr prayers and celebrated this auspicious day. The prayers were held while observing health instructions and social distancing by the faithful to prevent coronavirus spread.

Previous years, Eid al-Fitr prayers in Tehran were held in huge crowds at Imam Khomeini Grand Mosalla (Prayer Site) and Ayatollah Khamenei led the Eid prayers as usual.

But this year it was held in small crowds in mosques and outdoors which was allowed by the Health Ministry.

Due to coronavirus outbreak, all mosques in the city were closed; but on Sunday after nearly three months, people gathered to perform Eid al-Fitr prayers.

https://en.farsnews.ir/newstext.aspx?nn=13990305000196

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Iran Deplores Foreign Meddling in China's Internal Affairs

May 25, 2020

“Non-interference in the affairs of other countries, maintenance of territorial integrity and showing respect for the national sovereignty of other countries are among clear and unchangeable principles of the Islamic Republic of Iran’s foreign policy,” Foreign Ministry Spokesman Seyed Abbas Mousavi said on Sunday.

“Therefore, while emphasizing the importance of respect for the principle of the ‘united China’, the Islamic Republic of Iran condemns any foreign interference in the internal affairs of the People’s Republic of China and any harm to this country’s national sovereignty and territorial integrity, and underlines the need for ... keeping order to ensure stability, welfare and security of the people of Hong Kong,” he said.

Hong Kong was witnessing a renewal of protests on Sunday over a newly-proposed security law as a lockdown imposed over the coronavirus outbreak gradually loosens.

The proposed law was recently submitted for deliberation to the National People’s Congress (NPC) and it aims to boost security measures and safeguard national security in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) after violent protests rocked the region for months last year.

White House National Security Adviser Robert O'Brien warned on Sunday that China's proposed national security legislation for Hong Kong could lead to US sanctions and threaten the city's status as a financial hub.

"It looks like, with this national security law, they're going to basically take over Hong Kong and if they do ... Secretary (of State Mike) Pompeo will likely be unable to certify that Hong Kong maintains a high degree of autonomy and if that happens, there will be sanctions that will be imposed on Hong Kong and China," O'Brien said.

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said on Sunday that Hong Kong was an internal affair and no foreign interference would be allowed.

“Aside from the devastation caused by the novel coronavirus, there is also a political virus spreading through the US,” Wang said, adding, “This political virus is the use of every opportunity to attack and smear China. Some politicians completely disregard basic facts and have fabricated too many lies targeting China, and plotted too many conspiracies.”

https://en.farsnews.ir/newstext.aspx?nn=13990305000124

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Iranian Speaker Felicitates Liberation Day to Lebanon

May 25, 2020

Larijani in his messages on Sunday felicitated the 20th anniversary of the end of Israel's two-decade-long occupation of Southern Lebanon, known as Resistance and Liberation day.

In his message to Berri, Larijani named the event as a turning point in the history of the region which proves Lebanese resistance against the Zionist regime and illustrates the futility of the occupiers.

"The liberation of Lebanese lands is a shining point in the history of the Islamic resistance's struggle against the Zionist regime," Larijani wrote in his message to Nasrallah.

"I would like to express my sincere congratulations on the anniversary of the liberation of the occupied territories of southern Lebanon to you and the fighters of the Lebanese Islamic Resistance," he added.

On May 24, 2000, Israel completely withdrew its troops from Southern Lebanon, with the following day marked as a celebration.

Also, on Sunday and in a message to his Lebanese counterpart Michel Aoun, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani congratulated Lebanese nation and government on the same occasion.

"Today, I sincerely congratulate your Excellency, the government and the people of your country on the great and proud victory of the Lebanese people over the Zionist occupiers," Rouhani's message read.

https://en.farsnews.ir/newstext.aspx?nn=13990305000134

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Coronavirus: Jerusalem’s Holy Sepulchre fails to reopen Sunday as planned

24 May 2020

Two months after it was closed as part of anti-coronavirus precautions, Jerusalem’s Church of the Holy Sepulchre remained closed to the public on Sunday, despite an earlier official announcement of its reopening.

Located in the walled Old City of Israeli-annexed east Jerusalem, most Christians believe the site is where Jesus was crucified and entombed.

Millions of pilgrims visit the church each year, but it was closed on March 25, ahead of the Easter holidays, as part of measures imposed to combat the spread of the COVID-19 disease in Israel and the Palestinian territories.

Leaders of the three denominations that share the site had said in a joint statement on Saturday that it would reopen on May 24 “to the faithful for visits and prayers.”

The Greek Orthodox, Armenian and Roman Catholic denominations share custody of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.

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They said that entry would be restricted to a maximum of 50 people at a time, “to those who have no fever or symptoms of infection and are wearing suitable face coverings.”

But on Sunday morning worshippers were denied entry, to the disappointment of several seen by AFP journalists at the scene.

Religious officials said that reopening was postponed but did not give a new date, hinting that there were difficulties in counting numbers in order to maintain social distancing.

One official told AFP that 50 clerics from various churches had came to pray, leaving no room for the public.

Another official said it had been deemed preferable to wait for a further easing of Israeli restrictions so that 100 people could enter at a time.

More than 16,600 cases of the COVID-19 disease have been recorded in Israel, including 279 deaths.

In the occupied West Bank, Palestinian authorities have reported 368 cases and two deaths from the virus.

Israel has begun to loosen lockdown measures, saying infection rates were slowing.

Religious sites were authorized to reopen on Wednesday on the condition that entry be limited to 50 people at a time.

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/coronavirus/2020/05/24/Coronavirus-Jerusalem-s-Holy-Sepulchre-fails-to-reopen-Sunday-as-planned.html

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Southeast Asia

 

Virus lockdowns stifle Eid celebrations as infections rise

Anuj Chopra

May 25, 2020

Muslims around the world began marking a sombre Eid al-Fitr Sunday, many under coronavirus lockdown, but lax restrictions offered respite to worshippers in some countries despite fears of skyrocketing infections.

The three-day festival, which marks the end of the holy month of Ramadan, is traditionally celebrated with mosque prayers, family feasts and shopping for new clothes, gifts and sweet treats.

But this year, the celebration is overshadowed by the fast-spreading coronavirus, with many countries tightening lockdown restrictions after a partial easing during Ramadan led to a sharp spike in infections.

Further dampening the festive spirit, many countries -- from Saudi Arabia to Egypt, Turkey and Syria -- have banned mass prayer gatherings to limit the spread of the disease.

Saudi Arabia, home to Islam's holiest sites, began a five-day round-the-clock curfew from Saturday after infections more than quadrupled since the start of Ramadan to over 72,000 -- the highest in the Gulf.

Mecca's Grand Mosque has been almost devoid of worshippers since March, with a stunning emptiness enveloping the sacred Kaaba -- the large cube-shaped structure towards which Muslims around the world pray.

But on Sunday, an imam stood on a podium while Saudi security forces, some wearing masks, positioned themselves between rows of worshippers who gathered before the Kaaba for Eid prayers.

Scuffles in Jerusalem

At Jerusalem's Al-Aqsa mosque, Islam's third-holiest site after Mecca and Medina, prayers were not permitted inside, although the site is expected to reopen after the Eid holiday.

Small scuffles broke out between Israeli security forces and worshippers gathering around the mosque at dawn, although prayers eventually went ahead outside, an AFP photographer said.

marshall

@Marshall_H15

🛑#Israel  just can’t let #palestinian Muslims or Christians celebrate Hollidays in peace, During jewish holidays #palestinians are often put under a Curfew so jews can celebrate

Eid al-Fitr in Jerusalem | Several arrested during tensions outside Al-A-Aqsa Mosque

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In Gaza, Hamas authorities allowed prayers in mosques despite the enclave's first coronavirus death on Saturday, but worshippers mostly wore masks and placed their prayer mats far apart.

"Eid is not Eid with the atmosphere of coronavirus -- people feel a sense of fear," worshipper AkramTaher said.

In Afghanistan, the Taliban announced a three-day ceasefire to mark Eid al-Fitr in a surprise move following months of bloody fighting with Afghan forces after the signing of a landmark agreement with the United States.

The streets of Kabul were mostly empty as part of a strict lockdown, but some people did venture out and greet each other -- some from a distance and others hugging and shaking hands despite calls for social distancing.

In Somalia, at least five people were killed and more than 20 wounded in a blast during Eid festivities, police said.

The blast occurred as a crowd of people were dancing and singing, a witness said, but the cause of the explosion was unclear.

In Indian-administered Kashmir, another troublespot, Eid celebrations were muted under the coronavirus restrictions and as authorities tightened the screws after a spate of clashes between government forces and rebels.

Fears of 'new peak'

Ahead of the holiday, Muslims across Asia -- from Indonesia to Pakistan, Malaysia and Afghanistan -- had thronged markets to shop, flouting coronavirus guidelines and sometimes even police attempts to disperse large crowds.

"For over two months my children were homebound," said mother of four IshratJahan at a bustling market in the Pakistani city of Rawalpindi.

"This feast is for the kids, and if they can't celebrate it with new garments, there is no point in us working so hard throughout the year."

The holiday began on a sombre note after a Pakistan International Airline flight crashed Friday in the southern city of Karachi, killing 97 people including many who were travelling to see family for the holiday.

The English daily Dawn said the crash, along with the pandemic, had robbed Pakistan of "whatever little joy had been left at the prospect of Eid festivities".

In Indonesia -- the world's most populous Muslim nation -- people turned to smugglers and fake travel documents to get around bans on the annual end-of-Ramadan travel that could send infections soaring.

In the conservative province of Aceh, large groups prayed together with few masks and little social distancing as Eid began, and the Baiturrahman Grand Mosque in the provincial capital was packed.

"I did feel worried but as a Muslim, I still had to perform mass Eid prayers as a form of gratitude to Allah," one worshipper, Arsi, said.

RahmadSaifulHasan

@rahmadsaifulhs

Masjid Raya Baiturrahman. Banda Aceh

____@Aceh@iloveaceh#IdulFitri1441H #EidMubarak

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COVID-19 death tolls across the Middle East and Asia have been lower than in Europe and the United States, but numbers are rising steadily, sparking fears the virus may overwhelm often underfunded healthcare systems.

Frugal celebrations

Iran, which has experienced the Middle East's deadliest outbreak, called on its citizens to avoid travel during Eid as it battles to control the virus.

Health Minister Saeed Namaki said Iran was focusing hard on avoiding "new peaks of the disease" caused by people "not respecting health regulations".

The United Arab Emirates has tightened its lockdown which had been relaxed during Ramadan, but that did not stop some families from planning getaways to luxury beachfront hotels.

But in many countries, Muslims steeled themselves for frugal celebrations amid growing financial distress, including falling oil prices that plunged the Gulf region into its worst economic crisis in decades.

In the Syrian capital Damascus, Eid shoppers rummaged through flea markets for clothes at bargain prices as the war-ravaged and sanctions-hit country grappled with a much more entrenched economic crisis.

"The flea market is the only place I can buy something new to wear for the Eid holidays," 28-year-old Sham Alloush said.

"Had it not been for this place, I wouldn't have been able to buy new clothes at all."

https://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2020/05/25/virus-lockdowns-stifle-eid-celebrations-as-infections-rise-.html

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Arab World

 

Iraq’s security forces destroy Daesh vehicles

May 26, 2020

DUBAI: Iraq’s security forces said they destroyed three Daesh vehicles in the Ar-Rutbah desert, state news agency INA reported.

The Security Forces Media also seized weapons, booby traps and destroyed a number of their encampments.

The operation was launched after two Iraqi forces planes discovered three armed vehicles during a surveillance operation.

One of the vehicles shot at the airplanes causing minor damage, the report added.

Last week, Iraq said they had captured Daesh leader, Abdul Nasser Qardash, who is considered a successor to the terror group’s former chief Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi.

He served as the head of one of the terror group’s commissions, INA said, and served under Abu Musab Al-Zarqawi, who led the group that preceded Daesh.

https://www.arabnews.com/node/1680106/middle-east

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Eid amid coronavirus: Saudi Arabia’s Mohammed bin Salman says hard times will pass

25 May 2020

Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman exchanged Eid al-Fitr greetings with senior officials from the Ministry of Defense through a video call on Sunday.

The Prince said: “What pains me this Eid, is that it’s a day of joy and it’s our duty as Muslims to rejoice and I couldn’t be with you today,” state news agency SPA reported.

Visit our dedicated coronavirus site here for all the latest update

“But the bad conditions will pass, God willing, and we are heading towards the good, God willing. This is thanks to the fortitude of the men of Saudi Arabia, both military and civilians,” he added.

قناةالسعودية🇸🇦

@saudiatv

#عاجل_السعودية | سمو #ولي_العهديقدم - عبرالاتصالالمرئي - التهنئةلمنسوبي #وزارة_الدفاعبمناسبة #عيد_الفطرالمبارك.

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Saudi Arabia welcomed on Sunday the first day of Eid al-Fitr amid a 24-hour lockdown due to the coronavirus pandemic, with many exchanging greetings through social media messages and video calls.

King Salman bin Abdulaziz had thanked the Kingdom’s citizens and residents for adhering to the government’s coronavirus precautionary measures.

I greatly appreciate you celebrating Eid while staying at home and practicing social distancing,” he said on Saturday in a speech delivered by acting Minister of Media Majid al-Qasabi.

He urged the public to understand that the special circumstances brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic necessitated preventing Muslims from performing Eid prayers in Mosques and exchanging social visits.

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/coronavirus/2020/05/25/Eid-Saudi-Arabia-s-Crown-Prince-Mohammed-bin-Salman-virtually-greets-MoD-officials.html

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Plight of migrant workers in Lebanon worsens as crises multiply

26 May 2020

Long before the pandemic struck, they lived and worked in conditions that rights groups called exploitative - low wages, long hours, nolabor law protections.

Now, some 250,000 registered migrant laborers in Lebanon – maids, garbage collectors, farm hands and construction workers – are growing more desperate as a crippling economic and financial crisis sets in, coupled with coronavirus restrictions.

Read more: Migrant workers on weeks-long strike in Lebanon close to deal with employer

Lebanon’s unprecedented foreign currency crisis means that many migrants have not been paid for months or that the value of salaries is down by more than half. Others have lost their jobs after employers dumped them on the streets or outside their embassies.

“We are invisible,” said BanchiYimer, an Ethiopian former domestic worker who founded a group that campaigns for domestic workers’ rights in Lebanon. “We don’t even exist for our governments, not just the Lebanese government.”

In just three days, she said, 20 Ethiopian domestic workers were abandoned by their sponsors and left outside the embassy. A video she posted showed women with as little as a backpack or a purse, lined up along the walls of the embassy - some sitting on the floor.

The pandemic delivered just the latest blow to a Lebanese economy, already devastated by a financial crisis brought on by decades of corruption and mismanagement. In recent weeks, the Lebanese pound, pegged to the dollar for more than two decades, has lost 60 percent of its value against the dollar and prices of basic goods soared.

Unemployment has risen to 35 percent and an estimated 45 percent of the country’s population is now below the poverty line.

In this crisis, migrant workers are among the most vulnerable.

Among them are 180,000 domestic workers, most of them women and many from Ethiopia and the Philippines. Thousands live illegally, after escaping their employers to whom they were tied under an ill-reputed sponsorship system, known in Arabic as ‘kafala,’ which dates back to the 1960s.

Many are trapped, unable to go home, because they cannot afford the exorbitant costs of repatriation flights or because global air travel is severely restricted.

Their plight is similar to that of migrant workers in other countries, including foreign laborers in oil-rich Gulf Arab states who now find themselves jobless, as COVID-19 stalks their labor camps.

In the Lebanese capital of Beirut, the financial chaos has added to their despair.

On Saturday, a Filipina domestic worker took her own life a day after arriving at a shelter run by the Philippines Embassy for workers waiting to return home after losing their jobs. In a statement Monday, the embassy said she died after jumping from a room she was sharing with two others.

Both the Philippines Embassy and Lebanese authorities said they were investigating the death.

Suspected suicides or escape attempts of foreign household workers have become a frequent occurrence in Lebanon, with local reports recording at least one incident a month.

Such desperate acts are often blamed on the sponsorship system, which rights groups say creates near slave-like conditions. Some employers do not allow their helpers to go out on the street alone or have a day off.

Domestic workers are not protected by labor law and are often shackled in a 24-7 work schedule with no right to resign.

“Some of their employers abuse them mentally physically and there is no law to protect them. Their employers ... treat them like slaves,” Brihanu said.

A 2016 International Labor Organization study found that out of 1,200 employers surveyed, more than 94 percent withheld their workers’ passports.

Last week, security forces violently quelled a protest by Bangladeshi sanitation workers who were demanding an adjustment of their salaries to new market rates.

The pandemic has also taken its toll. A few dozen foreign workers living in overcrowded apartments in Beirut have tested positive for the coronavirus. Riot police are often deployed outside their buildings to enforce isolation.

Last week, Ethiopian workers staged a symbolic demonstration outside their embassy to demand free repatriation.

“We don’t have the power to bring a plane and to take out everybody from this country. I wish we can do that,” said TsigeredaBrihanu, an Ethiopian activist with EgnaLegna, Yimer’s organization. “Regular life in Lebanon is very difficult even to survive. It is not worth it to stay here.”

One Ethiopian worker said that even though her sponsor still pays her salary, she is already checking into going home because she knows the dollars will run out and prices will continue to increase. “Lebanon’s finished,” she said, declining to give her name in order to speak freely.

The virus lockdown has exacerbated work conditions. Some workers are not able to communicate with their own families and friends, the hours are much longer and the demands by employers are unrealistic, said ZeinaMezher of the International Labor Organization.

“They say that we are all in the storm, but it doesn’t affect us all in the same way,” she said.

Yimer, who founded EgnaLegna in 2017, is now in Canada, where the group is registered as a non-profit organization, because it is illegal for domestic workers to be activists in Lebanon, and the government has refused to register a union for them.

EgnaLegna, meaning “from us migrants to us migrants” in Amharic, Ethiopia’s official language, now offers food packages for some who lost their jobs and helps others pay rent.

“I have not worked for nearly three months,” said Kumari, a household worker from Sri Lanka.

Kumari used to hold down work in several homes in order to send money to her 5-year-old daughter who is being raised by her mother back home.

“Nobody has work. I want to go home but I can’t until corona finishes,” she said.

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/features/2020/05/26/Plight-of-migrant-workers-in-Lebanon-worsens-as-crises-multiply.html

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Egypt’s top medical union warns of health system ‘collapse’ amid coronavirus

25 May 2020

Egypt’s top medical union on Monday warned of a “complete collapse” of the country’s health system, accusing the health ministry of negligence in failing to protect healthcare workers from coronavirus.

“The syndicate is warning that the health system could completely collapse, leading to a catastrophe affecting the entire country if the health ministry’s negligence and lack of action towards medical staff is not rectified,” the Egyptian Medical Syndicate said in a statement.

COVID-19 has killed 19 doctors and infected more than 350, according to the EMS, a body representing thousands of Egyptian doctors.

“The EMS holds the health ministry entirely responsible for the mounting deaths and infections among doctors due to its negligence... that is tantamount to death through a dereliction of duty,” it added.

Egypt, the most populous Arab country, has recorded more than 16,000 COVID-19 cases and over 700 deaths.

The EMS called on the “executive, judicial and legislative” branches of government to force the health ministry to comply with its demands.

These included providing all doctors with personal protective equipment (PPE), training for dealing with coronavirus cases and testing for those with symptoms or who have come into contact with infected people.

Hospitals have been hit by a flight of doctors abroad in recent years while the frontline staff left behind face shortages of medical supplies and protective gear that heightens the risk of infection.

The EMS statement came after 32-year-old doctor WalidYehia died on Saturday after being unable to secure a bed in an isolation hospital.

For all the latest headlines follow our Google News channel online or via the app.

The country’s 17 isolation hospitals reserved for novel coronavirus patients reached their maximum capacity at the start of the month, deputy health minister Ahmed al-Sobki told local press last week.

A colleague resigned in protest from the same Cairo hospital where Yehia worked.

In a widely shared online post, the co-worker blamed the health ministry for not treating Yehia as soon as he showed symptoms of the virus.

In recent weeks Egypt has sent medical aid to countries including China, Italy, and the United States, angering many medical professionals, who complain about the lack of PPE domestically.

“The health ministry has an obligation towards doctors and all medics who are sacrificing their lives on the front lines to defend the safety of the homeland,” the EMS said.

“It is imperative to provide them with the necessary protection and rapid medical intervention for those who contract the disease.”

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/coronavirus/2020/05/25/Egypt-s-top-medical-union-warns-of-health-system-collapse-amid-coronavirus.html

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Coronavirus: UAE crosses 30,000 confirmed cases, conducts over 2 mln COVID-19 tests

25 May 2020

The UAE reported on Monday 822 new coronavirus cases and three fatalities, bringing the total number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in the country up to 30,307 and the death toll up to 248 fatalities.

The country also said it has conducted more than 2 million coronavirus tests in line with its strategy to ramp up testing.

Visit our dedicated coronavirus site here for all the latest updates.

Minister of Health, Dr. Abdul Rahman al-Owais, said: “We are adopting a proactive approach to stem the virus’ spread in the country. We are now at a critical juncture that requires individual responsibility; we all must honor our responsibility to society and stand alongside our first line of defense and our leadership to survive the crisis,” state news agency WAM reported.

The UAE’s government spokesperson, Dr.Amna al-Shamsi, added that 601 patients recovered, raising the total number of recoveries in the country up to 15,657.

She said: “The current circumstances triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic have created a new reality for all of us, including for members of the same family a new reality that requires a new way of thinking to invest our time in a different way, to re-consider our old habits and customs in a way that further strengthens our bonds.”

Al-Shamsi added that amid the extraordinary circumstances brought about by the coronavirus during this Eid, people should support and thank people working on the frontlines to combat the COVID-19 outbreak.

“We wish that anyone who knows one of our soldiers on the first line of defense to call and congratulate him or her on Eid al-Fitr and thank them all on our behalf for their tireless efforts and dedication under the current exceptional circumstances.”

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/coronavirus/2020/05/25/Coronavirus-UAE-crosses-30-000-confirmed-cases-conducts-over-2-mln-COVID-19-tests.html

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Coronavirus: Kuwait sees slight drop in daily cases with 665 new infections

25 May 2020

Kuwait saw a slight drop in daily coronavirus cases on Monday after detecting 665 new infections over the past 24 hours, according to the health ministry.

Recovery numbers have also been on the rise with 508 new recoveries raising the total to 6,621.

The ministry also recorded nine new fatalities after individuals who had previously tested positive for the virus died, a health ministry spokesman said during a daily press conference. The country's relatively low death toll reached 165.

Most of those who tested positive for the virus are expats. A total of 195 are Indian, 148 Kuwaiti nationals, 96 Egyptians and 73 people from Bangladesh, according to the spokesman.

For all the latest headlines follow our Google News channel online or via the app.

He also said most of the 15,181 active cases are in stable condition with 182 in the intensive care unit.

Kuwait was quick to implement preventative measures after it recorded its first cases in February. The government most recently announced that individuals not wearing a face mask will either face a maximum of three months in jail or a 5,000 KD ($16,172) fine, as part of measures in place to combat the spread of the virus.

A nationwide curfew from 4 p.m. to 8 a.m. is still in effect until May 30; however, it could be extended.

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/coronavirus/2020/05/25/Coronavirus-Kuwait-sees-slight-drop-in-daily-cases-with-665-new-infections-.html

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Bahrain reports 336 new coronavirus cases, as country begins to re-open

25 May 2020

Bahrain reported on Sunday 336 new coronavirus cases, bringing the total number of confirmed COVID-19 cases up to 9,138, according to the Ministry of Health.

The ministry also reported the recovery of 122 coronavirus patient, raising the total number of recoveries up to 4,587.

Visit our dedicated coronavirus site here for all the latest updates.

Most of the new cases were expat workers, 231 out of 336, while the other 105 were people who came into contact with previously infected individuals.

Bahrain had opened on Saturday a new coronavirus treatment center in A’ali. It is equipped with isolation facilities and has 814 beds.

Resumption of activities

The Undersecretary at the Ministry of Health, Dr.Waleed al-Manea, had said on Friday that non-essential medical services were allowed to resume operations, provided that people follow the coronavirus precautionary guidelines and maintain social distancing, according to state news agency BNA.

He also added that professional athletes will be allowed to resume their sport exercises in outdoor spaces and swimming pools, given they follow precautionary measures.

Outdoor cinemas will also be allowed to operate, while indoor theatres will remain closed.

All salons and barber shops will re-open as of May 27.

“Curfew is not required for the time being, as long as all members of the community continue to commit to the health and social distancing guidelines issued,” said al-Manea.

Meanwhile, all commercial gyms, fitness studios, swimming pools, and recreation centers remain closed. Restaurants, tourist facilities, and cafes are to remain limited to delivery and take-out only. Shisha (hookah) cafes, public halls and event centers remain closed.

As for Eid al-Fitr celebrations, he said that greetings should be exchanged virtually and that “Eidiyas”, money given to children to celebrate Eid, should be transferred electronically using bank and money transfer application.

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/coronavirus/2020/05/25/Bahrain-reports-336-new-coronavirus-cases-as-country-begins-to-re-open-.html

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Africa

 

Nigeria: NAF Builds Airstrip in Damaturu to Boost War Against Boko Haram

26 MAY 2020

Maiduguri — The Chief of Air Staff (CAS), Air Marshal SadiqueAbubakar, has announced that the Nigerian Air Force (NAF) has commenced the construction of an airstrip in Damaturu, the capital of Yobe State that would facilitate seamless air bombardment of Boko Haram bases in the Northeast region.

Speaking yesterday at the Sallah luncheon he had with the troops of the Air Task Force of Operation Lafiya Dole, Abubakar said the airstrip would further boost the ongoing operation against Boko Haram/ISWAP terrorists in the region.

He said the completion of the airstrip would also ensure that helicopter gunships on air bombardment of Boko Haram enclaves in Yobe State would no longer return to Maiduguri for refueling and servicing as was previously the case.

The CAS explained that hosting frontline troops during festivity period to boost their morale has been a culture he had maintained since his appointment in 2015 as the CAS, which the culture fosters comradeship and give NAF the opportunity to socialize while on duty of securing the nation against criminal elements.

Abubakar said: "During my last operational visit to Maiduguri, we highlighted the immense contributions of the Nigerian Air Force through the Air Task Force Operation Lafiya Dole in the fight against insurgency in the North East.

"These contributions have no doubt helped to shape the theatre of operation and provided freedom of action for the ground troops. Despite the challenges of competing resources and COVID-19 induced lockdown, we have through pragmatic planning and foresight, maintained the tempo of Nigerian Air Force Operations, not only in the North East, but in other parts of the country.

"I want to reiterate that not only are we going to sustain operations, we will continue to leap forward based on my key drivers. We have kept the pace in training of both air and ground crews, developed the regiment's speciality to defend our bases and increased the force structure of the service, whilst building more accommodation and office infrastructure to cope with the growth.

"On a general note, however, I wish to thank you all for your concerted efforts and contributions. As we are aware, much is at stake and more would be required from us. I urge you not to rest on your oars, neither relent your efforts till we achieve victory," the CAS said.

He, however, said that the NAF must continue to evolve new methods and put in place new strategies aimed at eliminating all forms of criminal elements in the country.

Abubakar reminded the troops that the exploits recorded by the NAF would not have been possible without the support of the President and Commander-in-Chief, President MuhammaduBuhari.

"We can only show our appreciations for the President's support to the NAF by remaining a disciplined force and exhibiting the highest level of professionalism in all our actions," he said.

https://allafrica.com/stories/202005260093.html

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Kenya: Muslims Mark Eid UL FitrAmid Virus Containment Restrictions

25 MAY 2020

Nairobi — Muslims across Nairobi visited shopping malls to buy food items and gifts in year's Eid ulFitr celebrations amid restrictive COVID-19 regulations barring congregational worship, a key feature of the festival of breaking the fast.

Some however expressed disappointment over the effects the containment measures have had, isolating them from family members who are locked out of restricted areas and the bursting business centre in Nairobi's Eastleigh where a significant Muslim population in the capital resides.

Speaking to Capital FM News, South B resident Abdi Farah said that the outbreak of coronavirus in Kenya had forced them to break away from the norm of marking the fete with family and friends since some of them have been hindered by partial lockdowns imposed in Mombasa and Eastleigh.

"We have celebrated our Ramadhan and Eid at home for the very first time and we also could not meet with some of our relatives who are locked up in Eastleigh," Farah said.

Mariam Wahid who resides in Nairobi West however said she was in support of the government efforts to curb the disease despite disruptions occasioned by COVID-19 containment measures which include a ban on congregational worship.

"Our first priority is keeping safe because after COVID-19 we can all meet and celebrate together rather than risking our lives," Wahid added.

Under the COVID-19 restrictions gatherings are now restricted to a maximum of fifteen people.

Normally during the month of Ramadhan which lasts for almost 30 days, Muslims break fasts in groups often sharing communal meals.

The end of the Eid-ul-Fitr has traditional been marked with open air prayers at Sir Ali Muslim Grounds in Nairobi and Tononoka in Mombasa.

The outbreak of coronavirus also disrupted other religious ceremonies such as the Easter Sunday celebration for Christians, Palm Sunday.

Kenya has registered 1,214 confirmed cases since the confirmation of the first case in the country on March 13.

The number of recovered patients stands at 383. Fifty-one coronavirus-related deaths have been reported.

https://allafrica.com/stories/202005260014.html

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CAN seeks talks with Ogun over churches, mosques reopening

May 26, 2020

The Christian Association of Nigeria, Ogun State chapter, has called on the state government to embrace dialogue with the leaders of both Christian and Islamic religions  in the state towards reopening  churches and mosques.

The   state CAN  Chairman, Bishop Tunde Akin-Akinsanya,  made the  call in a statement   on Abeokuta.

Akin-Akinsanya stressed that dialogue between religious leaders and the state government would bring  physical and spiritual end to  coronavius in the state.

The  CAN chief lauded the efforts of the state government to combat  the spread of the virus.

He said, “We  applaud the systematic and carefully orchestrated steps taken by our government to minimise the effects of COVID-19.”

https://punchng.com/can-seeks-talks-with-ogun-over-churches-mosques-reopening/

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Nigeria: Boko Haram - Understanding the Wailing Wailers

25 MAY 2020

UK — Somewhat ironically, I would never have believed in the hyped paradox of belonging to a nation called Nigeria, whose citizens are very religious, but rather prefer to celebrate its oddities than progression or golly. But of course, I live in this nation and through the years, I have incredibly realised that most Nigerians are repulsed to any good about their country.

Evil has been elevated to prime heights. Ask for the reasons why some of us delight in carnivals of evil, but nothing worthy would be muttered.

Nigerians with such mindsets are recognised with multiple names and identities, depending on the sane mind observing their resentful games against our beloved country. We know them as operating under separate nomenclatures. They are opposers, wailers, detractors, haters, sabs, praise singers, sycophants, destroyers, heritage usurpers, ancestors of the nation, godfathers of Nigeria, politicians, or perpetual power monks. It all depends on the angle of anybody's perception of these compatriots.

But the common denominator among them all is very shameful and disgraceful reality that once "A Government -In-Power" (AGIP) is outside their political bloc, the rest of us should be deprived of peace. So, it must be pulled down through grandeur conspiracies of evil.

And in their infantile minds, narrowed mindsets, malicious outings and completely nonsensical mouthing, they think, whoever leads the country must be dwarfed with frivolous criticisms. His efforts must be rubbished with meaningless pukes to fill an egoistic void.

I heard the celebrative moods of some Nigerians of the same regressive ilk, I earlier mentioned. Their very active agents posted and acolytates' delightedly syndicated on traditional and social media platforms, videos of our gallant troops caught up in the web of fleeing terrorists at BuniYadi - BuniGari axis of Yobe State, in the Northeast a few days back.

Of course, no one is denying that troops of Combat Team 1, Operation KantanaJimlan never encountered and fought terrorists while on routine patrol of vicinities within their jurisdiction. And in that outing, again Nigerian troops triumphed over the combined forces of Boko Haram/ ISWAP terrorists. Casualties were recorded on both sides mainly because it was an ambush on Nigerian troops.

But our troops did not disappoint me. Soldiers stood gallantry very firm and never allowed the terrorists to have a field day, despite the multiple Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs), the cursed bloodsuckers planted on their path. Some soldiers (two) died in the process (may their souls rest in perfect peace) and others sustained injuries. It's also normal in the warfront. In war situations, the combatants expect anything and the worse can even happen.

Give and take, I think the performance of Nigerian troops at this specific incident deserves recommendation from all of us because insurgents of whatever hue were neutralised. It implies that they could not cause the large-scale damage as planned.

What I can't discern are the stories and videos circulating on social media platforms. The cooked videos in that particular encounter, had images of soldiers' blaming the COAS and leader of the counter-insurgency operations Lt. Gen. TukurBuratai for failing to deploy airstrikes early enough, until the Boko Haram had dealt a severe blow on troops. Gen. Buratai is also in the same trenches with troops. From the skewed narrations by detractors, it's easy to know, the fake news hyped, is all about destroying Gen. Buratai.

It's curious for a soldier in the battlefront and in the heat of war; I mean, a soldier who is under the "pressure" of enemy attacks, to have time to use his cellphone to record gory scenes of his defeat from attacks to circulate on social media platforms. It looks very unreal! But the wailing wailers spare no antics in this rough game.

Incredibly, the wailers and haters of the administration of President Buhari are gleefully circulating what in all nuance drapes with fakeness. We must not drag the hate on our country to such extents. It's extremely uncharitable and unpatriotic.

But being the very peculiar human beings, we are famed, some disgruntled elements in their usual gyrations, passed the verdict that the war against terrorism and Nigeria's final push against Boko Haram/ISWAP terrorists will be extended. No concrete reason is given by these detractors on why they think the last clearance operations against terrorists' and their defeat would be stretched further. However, what I did not miss in the narrations was both the faint and strong voices of vilification or condemnation of Gen. Buratai.

Let me emphasise that those who took a satanic advantage of a video clip by some soldiers who suffered an ambush in an encounter with fleeing elements of Boko Haram as the basis of their celebration and generous conclusion about the extension of the counter-insurgency operations have goofed. Gen. Buratai is someone I know, who cannot be taken for granted. He is a soldier's soldier any day you encounter him.

The wailers and haters of the Buhari Presidency are unexcited and indeed, melancholic that barely one month the troops led by Gen Buratai in the trenches of the Northeast have killed over 5000 terrorists in quick succession. The sexed and publicised lamentation videos of soldiers is just the latest trick of the wailers to hit Gen. Buratai, blur the reality and confuse Nigerians.

Some of us have not lost focus of the actual reasons. The saboteurs', Boko Haram sponsors, agents and sympathisers are angry that their business enterprise is facing a dire threat and coming to an end. The wailers are angry that money will stop silently snaking into their wallets in the business of promoting terrorism for a fee from external sponsors. They are burning with indignation within.

Unfortunately, it's impossible to change destiny. Gen. Buratai is destined to end Boko Haram/ISWAP terrorism and no amount of malicious propaganda can frustrate him.

Useful advice now! It's early enough and the signals are visible that Boko Haram is on its way out of existence. So, the terrorprinterss should begin to scout for new businesses to occupy their conscienceless souls. But as far as the blues from the theatre of war in the Northeast conveys, terrorism is no longer fashionable in Nigeria. It is merely struggling with its last and faint shadows of survival.

The terrorism entrepreneurs and wailing wailers will keep wailing like hapless armed robbers caught pants down in a cage during a sting operation by security forces. But the message must be clearly sounded that Nigeria has no space for Luciferic souls like them. Certainly, not under the government of President Buhari.

https://allafrica.com/stories/202005250085.html

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North America

 

Muslim family fed others every day while fasting for Ramadan

May 25, 2020

Hamza Deib’s family was forced to close its restaurants when business dropped by 90 percent during the coronavirus pandemic — but that didn’t mean they stopped serving others.

Deib, 28, his brother Anas and their seven other brothers and sisters have been cooking and donating meals to the community throughout the crisis — largely out of their own pocket. 

“It’s either we’re going to sit here and just be bitter about it and not do anything or we do what’s right and go out there and see who needs food,” said Deib, of Islip, Long Island.

“We’re not just going to sit back and do nothing.”

When Deib and his family first got started, they were only serving about 100 meals a day to hospitals and police departments, using up a large stockpile of inventory they had at their two Taheni restaurants in Park Slope, Brooklyn and Hells Kitchen, Manhattan.

But then food pantries, homeless shelters and non-profit organizations started reaching out for help, so the Deib family started to expand.

They’re now cooking and serving 1,000 meals a day.

Deib said the most important work they’ve done has been feeding the homeless. During the holy month of Ramadan, the family worked day and night for 30 days in a row to run a makeshift soup kitchen in Manhattan while they were fasting.

“We were doing it just on Saturday nights and we’ve seen people literally walk up to us and they were like ‘this is my only meal for the week, I don’t get to eat right now, everything is closed, no one is handing out change, no one is doing anything for anyone right now just because no one is in Manhattan,’” Deib recalled.

“That’s when we made the choice to start bumping it to two days a week, then three days a week and then for the month of Ramadan, we did it every single night,” he continued, adding that they ultimately gave out 100 to 300 meals a night.

“Many organizations throughout Manhattan are just closed right now … there’s so many homeless people who just don’t have the means to get food right now.”

Typically, Ramadan is a time for strict prayer and family gatherings, but in a socially distanced world, that was no longer possible, Deib said.

“Growing up our mother was very focused on always wanting to give back and always wanting to feed people so we literally just took this moment of what our mother did for Ramadan every single year,” he said. 

Dozens of Big Apple restaurants have worked to feed others during the pandemic, but many have fueled their efforts through corporate sponsorship and online donation drives.

Deib said his family didn’t really start receiving donations until the last week of Ramadan when the group Nowhere Men filmed a short video about their work.

After the video spread online, they started a GoFundMe page because people kept reaching out, offering to give.

“It wasn’t about finances, it was really about we have a store full of food and there’s plenty of people out there that need help, so let’s just go out there and do the right thing,” Deib said.

The family plans to continue feeding the homeless after the pandemic ends.

“As Muslims, we truly believe that charity is an act of goodness that will only increase somebody’s wealth, we truly believe that. There’s no such thing as ‘I’m going to give back, I’m going to help somebody and it’s going to decrease my financial wealth,’” Deib said.

“We always believe that when you give back, basically do good, good will come for you too.”

https://nypost.com/2020/05/25/muslim-family-fed-others-every-day-while-fasting-for-ramadan/

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Calgary Muslims celebrate Eid COVID-19-style

May 25, 2020

It's supposed to be a colourful three-day celebration of family, friends and parties, but Eid in Calgary looks a lot different this year.

Eid al-Fitr, or the Festival of Breaking the Fast, follows the holy month of Ramadan. Tens of thousands of Muslim families, friends and neighbours typically spend time together and share food after a month of fasting and prayer.

But this year, social distancing means finding new ways to do things, with most Eid prayers and gatherings cancelled.

The Al-Salam Centre in northwest Calgary held a drive-thru celebration on Sunday, with volunteers in masks and gloves using trash pickers to hand out goodie bags to kids through car windows. People decorated their vehicles with banners, balloons and signs, blasting horns and using the popular greeting "Eid Mubarak."

"The kids are the ones who are missing it the most so we decided to do something creative," said Ibrahim Jadalowen.

The event was such a success, volunteers ran out of the 800 goodies bags they'd made and had to scramble to put more together.

The Al-Salam Centre in northwest Calgary held a drive-thru celebration on Sunday, with volunteers in masks and gloves using trash pickers to hand out goodie bags to kids through car windows. People decorated their vehicles with banners, balloons and signs, blasting horns and using the popular greeting "Eid Mubarak."

"The kids are the ones who are missing it the most so we decided to do something creative," said Ibrahim Jadalowen.

The event was such a success, volunteers ran out of the 800 goodies bags they'd made and had to scramble to put more together.

https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/calgary/calgary-muslims-eid-covid19-1.5583629?cmp=rss

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