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Islamic World News ( 17 March 2018, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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‘Pak Caller’ Demands Disputed Varanasi Mosque Be Reopened

New Age Islam News Bureau

17 March 2018

File photo shows the Grand Mosque of Brussels in Belgium.



 ‘Pak Caller’ Demands Disputed Varanasi Mosque Be Reopened

 Fatwa Issued Against Muslim Man for Donating Organ

 Belgium Regains Control of Saudi-Run Mosque over Fears of Promoting Extremism

 Pakistan Court Authorises Suspension of Pervez Musharraf's Passport, National Identity Card in High Treason Case

 Libya Mufti Slams UAE, Saudi Arabia as Sponsors of War in Libya

 Trump Wants to Get the U.S. out Of Syria’s War, So He Asked the Saudi King for $4 Billion



 ‘Pak Caller’ Demands Disputed Varanasi Mosque Be Reopened

 Fatwa Issued Against Muslim Man for Donating Organ

 ‘Dialogue Only Way to End Indo-Pak Hostility’: Indian Peace Activist

 ISIS and Ansar Ghazwat-ul-Hind Fight It Out Over Kashmiri Terrorist Killed In Attack

 Jharkhand Court Convicts 12 Cow Vigilantes for Lynching Muslim Trader

 Shia Board Has Not Been Included In The List Of The Parties Accepted By The Supreme Court

 ISIS and Ansar Ghazwat-ul-Hind fight it out over Kashmiri terrorist killed in attack

 2 terrorists killed in Pulwama encounter

 Constable who ‘helped’ terror suspect booked; alleged to have forged police report

 On Rohingya issue, MHA affidavit in SC: Let govt deal with border security



 Belgium Regains Control of Saudi-Run Mosque over Fears of Promoting Extremism

 German Chancellor Merkel: 'Islam belongs to Germany'

 Organization of Islamic Cooperation head meets pope

 UK Muslims calling for ‘equal integration’ strategy

 Jewish leader: Banning Islamic calls to prayer won't help integration in Sweden

 Iraqi asylum seeker guilty of London Tube bombing

 European powers propose new Iran sanctions for ballistic missiles and Syria



 Pakistan Court Authorises Suspension of Pervez Musharraf's Passport, National Identity Card in High Treason Case

 Court Questions Pak Govt over Ban on Hafiz Saeed Outfits

 Prominent Positions in Pakistan Politics Given In Return for Sexual Favours: Reham

 Conference on State-Sponsored Terrorism in Pakistan Held in Geneva

 Peace in Afghanistan shared objective of Pakistan, US: Aizaz Chaudhry

 COAS visits Peshawar corps HQ, appreciates tribal leaders’ sacrifices



 Libya Mufti Slams UAE, Saudi Arabia as Sponsors of War in Libya

 TSC Is Worse Than Al-Shabaab - Eldas MP

 Nigeria: Muslim Scholars Highlight Benefits of Islamic Financing to Economic Growth

 Abducted Nurse Becomes Boko Haram Member, Sends Warning Whatsapp Message


North America

 Trump Wants to Get the U.S. out Of Syria’s War, So He Asked the Saudi King for $4 Billion

 Canada Struggles as It Opens Its Arms to Victims of ISIS

 Muslim officer works with immigrants in Ohio capital city

 Pentagon: U.S. Troops Repelled Islamic State Attack in Niger Months after High-Profile Ambush

 Social conservatives savour victory, thank immigrants


Arab World

 Deaths, Exodus as Two Syria Assaults Escalate

 Air Strikes Pound Rebel-Held Area in Syria’s Eastern Ghouta, Killing 42

 Uyghur Militant Filmed with Turkish-Backed Rebels near Syria's Afrin

 Kurdish Militias Releasing ISIL Terrorists in Northeastern Syria

 Report: Jeish Al-Islam Militants Forced to Endorse Agreement with Syrian Army over Eastern Ghouta

 Nine dead in Turkish air strike on hospital in Syria’s Afrin

 Young Saudi preserving Arab culture through a camera lens



 Whole of Europe Has Almost Surrendered To Terror Organizations: PM Yıldırım

 Arab Coalition Destroys Houthi Equipment off Saudi-Yemen Border

 Car ramming attack kills two Israeli soldiers in West Bank

 Britain, France, Germany propose new sanctions on Iran: Report

 Roadside bomb kills over dozen Saudi mercenaries in SW Yemen

 Mattis: Don’t restrict US support to Saudi-led forces in Yemen

 Turkish military denies bombing hospital in Afrin


South Asia

 Infighting Leaves 6 ISIS Militants Dead In Nangarhar Province

 Bangladesh Adventists Offer Health Education for Muslim Caregivers

 US airstrike leaves 4 ISIS militants dead in Kunar province of Afghanistan


Southeast Asia

 Australia Warns Southeast Asia of High-Tech Terror Threat

 Kazakh Senate Chairman, Indonesian President discuss Islamic finances and congress of world religions

 Jokowi wants Indonesian, Australian youth to spread tolerance

 Turnbull lauds Jokowi's leadership, calls him 'role model'

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau




‘Pak caller’ demands disputed Varanasi mosque be reopened

by Sarah Hafeez

March 17, 2018

Varanasi city magistrate has said he had been receiving calls from someone allegedly from Pakistan demanding that a disputed mosque, sealed two years ago, be reopened. In April 2016, members of the Deobandi and Barelvi sects had clashed over control of the Badi Masjid in Konia area of the city and with that, the revenue from renting out land to shops nearby. Citing law and order concerns, the then city magistrate had sealed the mosque.

City Magistrate Dr Vishram said he had received 11 calls from an unknown number just days before a hearing in the case on March 14. “The caller said he is from Pakistan, and is a member of the ‘PML’. When I entered the number into a mobile number tracking app, it flashed “Adhimal Korangi” as the name. I have submitted all these in my report to the district magistrate and SSP,” said Vishram.

Vishram added that during the hearing on March 14, both parties involved in the dispute claimed to have nothing to do with the calls. The city magistrate said he was hearing final arguments in the case and the next hearing would be in the next few days.

“This is a property dispute case. There are 12 shops near the mosque which generate good revenue. The two sects were fighting for control. The previous city magistrate sealed the mosque and began hearing the matter. I have been hearing the case for the last 10 months since I became city magistrate. I will unseal it only after I am satisfied the dispute is resolved and there is no law and order issue,” said Vishram.

SP (City) Dinesh Kumar Singh said no FIR had been registered so far since Vishram had not submitted a complaint. District Magistrate Yogeshwar Mishra was unavailable for comment. “This is not a personal matter where I would want an FIR registered. This is an official matter and the agencies should probe this. I have given them all necessary details,” said Vishram.



Fatwa issued against Muslim man for donating organ

March 16, 2018

A Madrasa in Uttar Pradesh's Kanpur has issued a fatwa against a Muslim man after he pledged to donate his organs to people in dire need.

The fatwa has also asked the Muslim community to boycott him.

The donor Arshad Mansuri has signed up for organ donation after his death.

"I have pledged my organs for the welfare of the society. I also want the people from Muslim community to do the same. I came to know a fatwa has been issued against me for doing so," Mansuri told ANI.

"Fatwa says that donating organs is not allowed in Islam," he added.

Mansuri has remained unperturbed and said serving mankind is greater than following any religion.

"Fatwa also urged people to boycott me from the society. In my opinion Maulanas are fake. To serve mankind is the biggest religious duty," Mansuri noted.

"I have been getting threatening calls from unknown numbers. When I complained to Kanpur police they did not take any action," Mansuri stated.

Meanwhile, a local Maulana said that Mansuri was trying to defame Muslims.

"Mansuri had asked me how organ donation is considered in Islam; I replied that it's banned. Someone who doesn't follow what Allah has said, then there're doubts on him being a Muslim," Maulana Hanif Barkati told ANI.

"Mansuri could be a man who has just kept a Muslim name and is trying to defame Muslims," Barkati asserted.



Belgium regains control of Saudi-run Mosque over fears of promoting extremism

Mar 16, 2018

Belgium says it is retaking control of the Grand Mosque of Brussels by breaking Saudi Arabia’s lease of the building due to fears that the center is promoting extremism and segregationist attitudes.

“The concession will be terminated immediately... in order to put an end to foreign interference in the way Islam is taught in Belgium,” the Belgian government said in a statement on Friday.

This is the first official confirmation of the move announced by Brussels following months of behind-the-scenes diplomacy to prevent any fall-out with Saudi Arabia, as reported by Reuters back in February.

Concerns over the mosque, situated in the vicinity of the European Union’s headquarters, surfaced after Takfiri terrorists, who plotted their attack in the Belgium capital, killed 130 people in Paris in 2015 and 32 others in Brussels in 2016.

Brussels said its Friday decision terminated Riyadh’s unusual 99-year rent-free use of the Grand Mosque.

Belgium leased the building to Saudi Arabia in 1969, providing Saudi-backed preachers with access to a growing Muslim immigrant community, mostly from Morocco and Turkey, in exchange for cheaper oil for its industry, according to Reuters.

“In this way we are tackling Salafist, violent extremist influences,” Belgium Interior Minister Jan Jambon tweeted on Friday.

The mosque has been run by the Mecca-based Muslim World League (MWL), a missionary society largely funded by the Arab kingdom. However, the MWL denies it espouses violence.

“From now on, the mosque will have to establish a lasting relation with the Belgian authorities, while respecting the laws and the traditions of our country, which convey a tolerant vision of Islam,” Belgium Justice Minister Koen Geens said.

According to officials, Belgium has the highest amount of extremists leaving the country and joining terrorist groups in Syria and Iraq in proportion to its population.



Pakistan court authorises suspension of Pervez Musharraf's passport, national identity card in high treason case

Mar 17, 2018

Islamabad: In a blow to Pakistan's former dictator General (retired) Pervez Musharraf, the special court hearing the high treason case against him has also authorised the government to suspend his passport as well as his national identity card, according to a media report on Friday.

Last week, the special court had ordered the government to arrest the Dubai-based former president and confiscate all his properties as it heard the high treason case against the "proclaimed offender" for imposing emergency rule in the country in 2007.

Musharraf, 74, was indicted in March, 2014 on treason charges for imposing emergency in 2007 which led to the confinement of a number of superior court judges in their houses and sacking of over 100 judges.

The special court had earlier directed the Interior Ministry to approach the Interpol for the arrest of Musharraf.

If Musharraf fails to submit a written request for security to the Ministry of Interior, the government can take "positive steps" to ensure the arrest of the accused and attach his properties abroad, including suspension of the National Identity Card (CNIC) and passport of the accused, The Express Tribune quoted a four-page order of the special court.

If the federal government suspends his passport and CNIC, Musharraf will not be able to travel to any country.

The three-member bench, headed by Peshawar High Court Chief Justice Yahya Afridi had conducted the last hearing in the case on 8 March. However, the written order was issued later, the report said.

Since 2013, the special court is hearing the treason case against Musharraf, also head of the All Pakistan Muslim League, for subverting the constitution in 2007. The next hearing of the case has been fixed for 21 March, it said.

A conviction for high treason carries the death penalty or life imprisonment.

The order says that Akhtar Shah, the counsel for Musharraf, stated that his client intends to appear before the court but he should be provided security by the defence ministry.

Quoting legal experts, the report said the special court's order to suspend Musharraf's CNIC and passport is very significant as it will halt his movement abroad.

Advocate Shah told the paper that he had already sent two applications through courier to the ministries of interior and defence for providing foolproof security to Musharraf on his arrival in Pakistan to ensure presence in the court.

He, however, stated that they have yet to receive any response from the two ministries.

On the other hand, prosecution head Akram Sheikh said that ministry has yet to receive any application by Musharraf's counsel.

He also urged the interior ministry to start the process for the suspension of Musharraf's CNIC and passport, adding that the former army chief's movement will be completely stopped after the suspension of passport.

The special court in its order has expressed dismay at the inaction of the federal government in taking positive steps to ensure the arrest of Musharraf, who has already been declared proclaimed offender.

"The court was informed that the accused is presently residing in United Arab Emirates and that there is an extradition treaty between government of UAE and government of Pakistan which could be invoked to ensure the arrest of the accused and attachment of his properties in the UAE," says the order.

The court also asked the government to make a request to the Interpol for the issuance of an appropriate warrant for his arrest and for his production before the court on 21 March.

Musharraf ruled Pakistan from 1999 to 2008.

He is wanted in Pakistan in several criminal cases including in the assassination of former prime minister Benazir Bhutto.



Libya Mufti slams UAE, Saudi Arabia as sponsors of war in Libya

March 13, 2018

The "dirty money" of the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia is being paid to recruit African mercenaries to occupy Libya's south and that money could lead to the division of the country if it was not blocked, Libya's Mufti, Al-Sadiq Al-Gharyani said Monday.

In a new published article, the Mufti said UAE and Saudi Arabia leaders are stuffing their enemies' bank accounts with money so they can buy some of their weapons and thus achieve development in their factories, pointing out that it is shameful that they don't buy with that money arms to fight the enemy but rather to kill Libyans and Yemenis or to oppress revolutions in Arab countries.

"Khalifa Haftar, using the arms bought with UAE money, killed over 15000 persons in Benghazi, left over 20000 crippled persons and displaced over 100.000 of Benghazi residents after he had destroyed it." The Mufti explained.

"Always the UAE and Saudi Arabia money is used in plots and schemes that are made to harm the Muslim nation." He added.

He also said that the UAE and Saudi Arabia should have spent the money given to "the enemies" on the construction, education and scientific research in the Muslim nation in Africa, or for the wellbeing of the Muslims in Burma or the besieged population of Gaza.

"Instead, the money was spent on oppressive intelligence agencies." The Mufti remarked.

He also pointed out that UAE and Saudi Arabia betrayed the "cause" and are taking the side of the enemy against Muslims, adding that they are helping the Zionists crack down on the resistance movement Hamas in Palestine, placing the "Mujahideen on terror lists."



Trump wants to get the U.S. out of Syria’s war, so he asked the Saudi king for $4 billion

By Paul Sonne and Karen DeYoung

March 16, 2018

In a December phone call with Saudi Arabia’s King Salman, President Trump had an idea he thought could hasten a U.S. exit from Syria: Ask the king for $4 billion. By the end of the call, according to U.S. officials, the president believed he had a deal.

The White House wants money from the kingdom and other nations to help rebuild and stabilize the parts of Syria that the U.S. military and its local allies have liberated from the Islamic State. The postwar goal is to prevent Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and his Russian and Iranian partners from claiming the areas, or the Islamic State from regrouping, while U.S. forces finish mopping up the militants.

The Saudis, whose crown prince arrives in Washington on Monday for extensive meetings with the administration, are part of the anti-Islamic State coalition but have largely withdrawn from the fight in Syria in recent years. They are questioning the eye-popping sum even as U.S. officials at one point were drawing up line items totaling $4 billion.

For Trump — who has long railed against insufficient burden-sharing by allies under the U.S. security umbrella — getting others to foot the bill for expensive postwar efforts is important.

A $4 billion Saudi contribution would go a long way toward U.S. goals in Syria that the Saudis say they share, particularly that of limiting Assad’s power and rolling back Iran’s influence. By comparison, the United States last month announced a $200 million donation to the stabilization effort.

At the same time, Trump is eager to get the United States out of a war in which he has already claimed that victory over the Islamic State is near. Boasting of the Islamic State’s defeat in a speech Tuesday to U.S. troops in California, he said, “We knocked the hell out of them.”

“We won’t let up until ISIS is completely destroyed,” Trump said, using an acronym for the militants. “ISIS never thought this would happen. They never got hit like this.”

Converging battles

Pentagon policy dating back to the Obama administration has limited U.S. involvement in the civil war in Syria almost exclusively to fighting the Islamic State through proxy forces backed by American troops.

The fight has been successful. But despite the rollback of Islamic State territory, the increasing likelihood of an Assad victory in the civil war has left many U.S. policymakers and lawmakers aghast and the U.S. mission in Syria jumbled and confused.

Gen. Joseph L. Votel, head of U.S. Central Command, which oversees the Middle East, was asked in congressional testimony Tuesday whether Assad, with Iranian and Russian help, had already won.

“I do not think that is too strong of a statement,” Votel replied. “I think they have provided him with the wherewithal to be ascendant at this point.”

The question is an important one, since the second phase of current U.S. strategy in Syria, after defeating the Islamic State, is to promote a political settlement of the war that ultimately includes the exit of both Assad and Iran.

U.S. commanders have said their military mission in Syria remains limited to defeating the Islamic State. But some administration officials have begun characterizing the U.S. presence more broadly, suggesting that it must serve as a bulwark against Iran, ensure stability in liberated territory and bolster American aims in any future political settlement.

Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.), who has been aligned with more-hawkish members of the administration on Middle East policy, pressed Votel on the idea of expanding the mission beyond the Islamic State. He underscored the negative long-term impact that a win for Iran, Russia and Assad would have on U.S. allies such as Israel and Jordan.

“And it is not your mission in Syria to deal with the Iranian-Assad-Russia problem?” Graham asked Votel. “That’s not in your ‘things to do,’ right?”

“That’s correct, senator,” Votel replied.

Votel declined to say whether he believed the U.S. military should be pursuing that broader objective. Asked whether it was still U.S. policy that Assad must leave power, Votel said: “I don’t know that that’s our particular policy at this particular point. Our focus remains on the defeat of ISIS.”

Other officials have spoken of additional U.S. goals. Syrian stability cannot be achieved “with Assad in place,” Nikki Haley, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, said last fall, and “Iran is not going to be in charge.”

Administration officials have convinced Trump that the U.S. military cannot remove its troops from northern Syria in part because of Iran.

A senior U.S. official, one of several who discussed Syria policy on the condition of anonymity to speak candidly, said that “convincing arguments have been made that some bad entity is going to be there,” including Iran. “That seems to have carried the day for the time being, but I don’t think anybody wants an indefinite [U.S. military] presence” in Syria, least of all Trump.

The U.N.-led peace process has been close to moribund for years, and soon-to-depart Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said in January that the United States would not “make the same mistakes” the Obama administration made in 2011, when it withdrew troops from an unstable Iraq. “The departure of Assad” through a U.N.-led peace process, Tillerson said, “will create the conditions for a durable peace within Syria and security along the borders.”

Administration divisions

While Trump has approved the expansion of U.S. forces in Syria since coming to office, he remains wary of any broader role and doesn’t want the Americans to stick around for long. The roughly 2,000 troops currently deployed train, advise and often assist the main U.S. partner, the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), near the front lines. One U.S. official said that involvement should be reevaluated every 18 months.

Tillerson was fired by Trump this week and turned State Department management over to his deputy while he remains in office until March 31. While it’s not clear whether Assad’s fate or the longevity of U.S. troops in Syria were points of contention between Tillerson and Trump, starkly different views about prospects for Assad and the peace process remain within the administration.

One senior official said the SDF should cut a deal with the Syrian regime, given that Assad is ascending and there is little U.S. appetite to expand the military mission. The SDF shares Assad’s goal of ridding Syria of opposition rebels, the Islamic State and Turkish forces.

A second senior administration official, however, completely rejected the notion that Assad is winning, saying the regime is “weaker than it has ever been, certainly in this half of the civil war.”

“If we compare it to his pre-civil-war position, he controls about half or less of prewar territory, less than half of the arable land and far less than half of strategic resources like oil and gas,” the official said. Those who say otherwise, the official added, are “misunderstanding the political process.”

A third administration official expressed shock that any top U.S. official at this point would make that case. “Really?” this official asked.

“That might be true if you were to remove the Russians and the Iranians and Hezbollah,” the ­Iranian-backed Lebanese Shiite militia that has been a decisive fighting force in Syria. Without them, Assad “would fall almost immediately.”

But with them, the official said, Assad appears to be making strong progress, destroying evermore rebels in the west and expanding his territory eastward to within miles of where the SDF and its U.S. backers are still fighting the Islamic State.

The United States also is relying on the strained SDF to hold some 400 foreign Islamic State fighters detained during the battle in Syria. Many of the detainees are being held together in large rooms, according to a U.S. official, raising concern that they will network and launch what some worry could become “ISIS 2.0.”

Some of the money the United States is requesting from allies such as Saudi Arabia would be used to ensure that detainees are transferred to a facility with individual cells, the U.S. official said.

Representatives at the Saudi Embassy in Washington did not respond to a question about the $4 billion request U.S. officials say Trump made to King Salman.

While it has rejected direct involvement in the Syrian civil war, the United States is the largest humanitarian donor, providing $8 billion over the years in aid for the millions in communities besieged by fighting or driven from their homes into refugee camps.





‘Dialogue Only Way to End Indo-Pak Hostility’: Indian Peace Activist

By Ammar Sheikh

March 17, 2018

LAHORE: There is a serious need for introspection for India and Pakistan to figure out a way forward as war is not an option for both countries. Dialogue is the only option to build a climate of trust and confidence, said Indian peace activist and Centre for Peace and Progress India Chairman OP Shah.

He was speaking at a roundtable discussion on the topic Pakistan-India Relations and the Way Forward at a local hotel on Friday. The discussion included peace activists, journalists and social activists to ponder over the relations between the two neighbours and ways to normalise ties between India and Pakistan.

During the discussion, the recent deterioration in the relations, especially the incidents of firing along the line of control as well as the harassment of diplomats, were discussed.

OP Shah said that India was a very large country where many different languages were spoken and many cultures lived.

“People in India want peace with Pakistan,” he said. “We have a shared history and culture and we need to continue dialogue for the prosperity of the people of this region.

He said that India was founded as a secular socialist republic and Indians wanted to remain on this path. Shah said cross-border violations need to end and both countries should sit together to end this. “Both stakeholders need to appreciate each other’s compulsions, reservations and limitations.” Speaking about the media, he was of the view that it could play a constructive, positive and meaningful role. “It does the opposite, however” He said that he had visited Srinagar and other parts of Jammu and Kashmir and spoke to people from all walks of life. He said that the people of Kashmir want peace.

Shah concluded by saying that Gandhi’s four teachings should be followed. The first, he said, was the he preached what he practiced. The second was that everything should be based on truth and truth alone. The last, he said, was that whenever in doubt about the course of action, he preached.

Kasuri said that in India, a party came into power that got electoral dividends by increasing the divide between India and Pakistan. However, he said that the recent political developments in India showed that this policy was not paying-off anymore. He predicted that the BJP would have to change its policy or another party would come into power. “Whatever the outcome, dialogue is the only way forward,” he added.



ISIS and Ansar Ghazwat-ul-Hind fight it out over Kashmiri terrorist killed in attack

Bharti Jain

Mar 17, 2018

NEW DELHI: A purported Kashmiri fighter owing allegiance to Islamic State has rejected the claim of Ansar Ghazwat-ul-Hind, an Al Qaeda affiliate led by Zakir Musa, that the Telangana-origin terrorist Muhammad Taufeeq killed in Anantnag on March 12, belonged to Ghazwat’s ranks.

Pro-IS Telegram channels distributed an English message from the fighter, "Abu Anwar al-Kashmiri," on March 13, 2018, noting that while Taufeeq, who went by aliases Sultan Zabul al-Hindi and Abu Zarr al-Hind , did join Ghazwat initially and provided narration for one of its videos, he ultimately deserted the group and joined fellow IS-pledged fighters in Kashmir.

Abu Anwar also claimed Taufeeq operated the pro-IS Telegram channel ‘Al-Hadeed Media’, SITE Intelligence website that tracks IS activities worldwide, reported on Friday.

Ansar Ghazwatul Hind had on Tuesday claimed Taufeeq as its own, declaring on Al-Hurr Media that he had come to Kashmir from Hyderabad in 2017 and was among the first in the Zakir Musa-led group’s ranks.

The Al Qaeda claim came soon after pro-IS Telegram channels hailed the martyrdom of Fazili, referring to him as leader of the IS-pledged Kashmiri group, and asked Kashmiris to strive for ‘shahadat’ and replace every slain fighter with two.

In another message on March 13, Kashmiri IS fighter Abu Anwar discussed his experiences with Essa Fazili (AKA Abu Yahya al-Kashmiri, Abu Yahya al-Istashadi), the now-deceased leader of the IS-pledged Kashmiri group killed along with Taufeeq. He recalled that Fazili had desired to call other jihadist factions like Ghazwat to join IS and did not consider Musa and his fighters as "apostates" but rebels of the "Caliphate".

Incidentally, J&K police maintain that IS as an organisation does not have any presence in the state, though there may be some

lone wolves swayed by its jihadi ideology.

Full report at:



Jharkhand court convicts 12 cow vigilantes for lynching Muslim trader

Mar 17, 2018

A fast-track court in Jharkhand’s Ramgarh district on Friday convicted 12 cow vigilantes, including a local Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader, of lynching a 55-year-old Muslim trader who, they claimed ,was carrying beef in his vehicle.

The court of additional district judge Om Prakash said it would pronounce the sentence on March 21 .

The accused were found guilty under Section 302 (murder) — which carries a minimum punishment of life imprisonment and a maximum of the death penalty — and other offences under the Indian Penal Code.

“This is the first case related to cow vigilantism in the country in which the accused have been convicted,” said additional public prosecutor Sushil Kumar Shukla.

The incident took place on June 29 last year, when a 100-strong mob lynched Alimuddin alias Asgar Ali, a 45-year-old Muslim trader, on suspicion that he was carrying beef in his car. The attack took place at Bazartand in Ramgarh town, about 45km from the state capital Ranchi. The mob, comprising some Bajrang Dal activists, also set ablaze Ansari’s Maruti van after killing him.

On the day of the incident, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had warned against mob attacks on cattle traders, beef-eaters and dairy farmers, saying killing people in the name of protecting cows was unacceptable.

MVenkaiah Naidu, the then urban development minister, had also condemned the incident, terming it barbaric.

The fast-track court convicted Santosh Singh, Chottu Verma, Deepak Mishra, Vicky Saw, Sikandar Ram, Uttam Ram, Vikram Prasad, Raju Kumar, Rohit Thakur, local BJP leader Nityanand Mahto and Kapil Thakur. It also convicted another suspect, who the defence said was a minor.

Last year, the BJP-ruled Jharkhand witnessed a series of lynchings of Muslim cattle traders. In May, a mob lynched four Muslim cattle traders at a village in Saraikelka Kharswan district after accusing them of being child traffickers.

Full report at:



Shia Board Has Not Been Included In The List Of The Parties Accepted By The Supreme Court

17 March 2018

Claiming that Uttar Pradesh Shia Central Waqf Board (UPSCWB)  has been made party in the vexed  Ayodhya matter underway in the Supreme Court, Board’s chief Waseem Rizvi has now given a fresh suggestion to the All India Muslim Personal Board (AIMPLB) that Muslim community members should not offer ‘namaz’ at the disputed nine mosques.

Contradicting the claim of some muslim organisations that  Shia board has not been included in the list of the parties accepted by the Supreme Court Rizvi said that the Board’s name is listed in the 50th place in the list issued by the apex court.

“Some section of the Muslims are trying to create confusion and were circulating that Shia Waqf board name was not in the list of the parties in the Ayodhya matter accepted by the supreme court,” he said on Friday.

Rizvi has shot off a letter to Maulana Rabe Hasan Nadvi, the AIMPLB chairman on Friday, urging the board to stop Muslims from offering namaz at these sites since they are disputed.

Rizvi claimed that there are at least nine disputed religious places across the country - four in Uttar Pradesh, two in Gujarat, one each in West Bengal, Madhya Pradesh and Delhi.

Rizvi said that there is enough historical evidence to prove that these mosques were constructed forcibly by the Muslim rulers on lands belonging to Hindu temples.

Shia Waqf Board chairman  pointed out that Islamic laws do not allow construction of a mosque on a land grabbed by destroying other religious structures. “Prayers offered at such mosques are not accepted under Quran and Sharia,” he added.

Will you approve offering of ‘namaz’ at a mosque which is built on the land of other religion?” Rizvi asked Maulana Nadvi, who is considered as one of the most eminent Islamic scholars in the country.

He had earlier stalked claim on the disputed land in Ayodhya and offered to surrender the same to Hindus.

The UPSCWB had claimed that several mosques in Mathura, Varanasi and other religious places were built by Muslim rules after destroying temples built there.

The Shia Board chief had urged the Board to surrender nine religious places to Hindus, including Ram Janambhoomi in Ayodhya.

They are Babri mosque in Ayodhya, Keshav Dev Temple in Mathura, Kashi Vishwanath Temple in Varanasi, Atal Dev temple in Jaunpur (All in Uttar Pradesh), Rudra Mahalaya temple in Batna Gujarat, Bhadrakali temple in Ahmedabad Gujarat, Adina Mosque in Pandua West Bengal, Vijaya temple Vidhisha Madhya Pradesh and Mosque Kuvutul Islam Qutub Minar Delhi, he said in his letter.

Significantly, Shia Board made this demand a day after the Art of Living Founder Sri Sri Ravi Shanker made a similar statement in Varanasi and Gorakhpur urging Muslims to hand over Babri mosque land to Hindus last monght.

“Besides these nine mosques, there are scores of other mosques in the country which were built in a similar manner and should be handed over to Hindus as well,” demanded Rizvi.

Full report at:



ISIS and Ansar Ghazwat-ul-Hind fight it out over Kashmiri terrorist killed in attack

Bharti Jain

Mar 17, 2018

NEW DELHI: A purported Kashmiri fighter owing allegiance to Islamic State has rejected the claim of Ansar Ghazwat-ul-Hind, an Al Qaeda affiliate led by Zakir Musa, that the Telangana-origin terrorist Muhammad Taufeeq killed in Anantnag on March 12, belonged to Ghazwat’s ranks.

Pro-IS Telegram channels distributed an English message from the fighter, "Abu Anwar al-Kashmiri," on March 13, 2018, noting that while Taufeeq, who went by aliases Sultan Zabul al-Hindi and Abu Zarr al-Hind , did join Ghazwat initially and provided narration for one of its videos, he ultimately deserted the group and joined fellow IS-pledged fighters in Kashmir.

Abu Anwar also claimed Taufeeq operated the pro-IS Telegram channel ‘Al-Hadeed Media’, SITE Intelligence website that tracks IS activities worldwide, reported on Friday.

Ansar Ghazwatul Hind had on Tuesday claimed Taufeeq as its own, declaring on Al-Hurr Media that he had come to Kashmir from Hyderabad in 2017 and was among the first in the Zakir Musa-led group’s ranks.

The Al Qaeda claim came soon after pro-IS Telegram channels hailed the martyrdom of Fazili, referring to him as leader of the IS-pledged Kashmiri group, and asked Kashmiris to strive for ‘shahadat’ and replace every slain fighter with two.

In another message on March 13, Kashmiri IS fighter Abu Anwar discussed his experiences with Essa Fazili (AKA Abu Yahya al-Kashmiri, Abu Yahya al-Istashadi), the now-deceased leader of the IS-pledged Kashmiri group killed along with Taufeeq. He recalled that Fazili had desired to call other jihadist factions like Ghazwat to join IS and did not consider Musa and his fighters as "apostates" but rebels of the "Caliphate".

Incidentally, J&K police maintain that IS as an organisation does not have any presence in the state, though there may be some

lone wolves swayed by its jihadi ideology.

Full report at:



2 terrorists killed in Pulwama encounter

M Saleem Pandit

Mar 16, 2018

SRINAGAR: Two militants were killed in a counter-insurgency operation in Khanmoh area of south Kashmir's Pulwama district on Friday. Clashes erupted between terrorist sympathisers and security forces following the encounter, in which the station house officer (SHO) of Nowgam and two other policemen were injured.

As a precautionary measure, train services were suspended in south Kashmir after the encounter.

On Thursday evening, the terrorists had tried to snatch the service rifle of the personal security officer (PSO) of BJP worker Mohammad Anwar Khan in Khanmoh's Balhama area. They failed in the bid and fled, but Khan's PSO, Bilal Ahmad, was injured in the skirmish.

Soon after, a joint team of Indian Army, Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF), and Special Operations Group (SOG) of Jammu and Kashmir Police cordoned off the area and launched a search operation to kill the terrorists, who were hiding in a residential building. In the ensuing encounter, one CRPF trooper - identified as Pradeep Kumar of 110 Battalion - sustained injuries. He was shifted to the Army hospital.

The operation was suspended for the night and resumed on Friday morning. Two terrorists, identified as - Rasiq Nabi Bhat of Tral and Shabir Ahmad of Aghanzipora - were killed in the firefight, said a police spokesman.

As per police records, Rasiq had joined militancy in March 2017 while Shabir had picked up arms in August the same year. "Their bodies were handed over to their kin. Weapon and ammunition were also recovered on them," the spokesman added.

Following the terrorists' death, clashes erupted between their sympathisers and security forces in several parts of the Valley, sources said. Agitators protested against the killing and pelted stones at security forces. The Nowgam SHO and two other cops got injured in the clash. Security forces had to lob teargas shells to disperse the protestors.

Full report at:



Constable who ‘helped’ terror suspect booked; alleged to have forged police report

by Manish Sahu

March 17, 2018

Eight months after the UP Anti Terrorist Squad (ATS) arrested Bangladeshi terror suspect Abdullah-al-Mamon, Saharanpur police booked a constable for allegedly helping him obtain a passport by forging a police report. The forged police report confirmed Abdullah to be a native of Saharanpur. Based on ATS information over the passport, police conducted an internal inquiry.

“During the course of departmental inquiry, it was found the police report sent to the Regional Passport Office had the signature of sub-inspector Nasir Hussain posted at Deoband police station. The address was later found to be fake. Nasir Hussain denied having signed the report. On Wednesday, he submitted an application with SSP Saharanpur Babloo Kumar alleging that constable Satish Kumar, who was tasked with carrying the documents from the police station to different offices, had forged his signature on the report, which was later forwarded to the passport office,” said Pankaj Kumar Tyagi, Deoband police station house officer.

Following the direction from the SSP, an FIR against constable Satish Kumar was lodged on Thursday under IPC section 420 (cheating and dishonestly inducing delivery of property) at the Deoband police station, added Tyagi. The constable has since been sent to the Reserve Police Lines.

Circle Officer (Deoband) Siddharth Singh said, “The police report will now be sent to experts to verify sub-inspector Hussain’s claim of forgery. The involvement of constable Satish Kumar would also be confirmed after his handwriting too is examined.”

Abdullah, an alleged member of Islamic extremist group Ansarullah Bangla Team (ABT), was arrested in August last year from Muzaffarnagar. He is lodged in Lucknow district jail.

A native of Bangladesh’s Mymen Singh district, Abdullah was arrested on charges of preparing fake ID cards, mostly for Bangladeshi nationals to help them find safe hideouts in India. ATS had recovered a passport issued on Abdullah’s name in May, 2017 and carrying address of Ambeta Shek, Deoband police station area in Saharanpur.

Full report at:



On Rohingya issue, MHA affidavit in SC: Let govt deal with border security

March 17, 2018

Infiltration through the country’s “porous border” is the “root cause” of spread of terrorism in India, the Centre told the Supreme Court on Friday and urged the court to leave the issue of securing the country’s border to the executive. The Centre also rejected charges that Border Security Force personnel are using “chilli and stun grenades” to turn away Rohingya refugees.

The Union Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) said in an affidavit filed before the apex court in the Rohingya matter, “India is already facing serious problem of infiltration because of its porous border with other countries, which is the root cause of spread of terrorism in the country, which is taking thousands of lives…. Securing the borders of any sovereign nation, in accordance with law, is an executive function and this Hon’ble Court would not issue a writ directing not only the Central Government, but all State Governments having a common border, to ensure that foreigners enter the territory of India.”

Responding to a petition filed by two Rohingya refugees who accused the BSF of using chilli and stun grenades to push back refugees at the border, the affidavit said the MHA had sought a report from the BSF following this and found that the charges were “false, incorrect and far from truth.” The MHA stated, “it is submitted that no such devices are used either as alleged or otherwise.”

The BSF was “performing its duties in challenging circumstances to (a) promote a sense of security among the people living in the border areas, (b) ensure the security of the nation by preventing unauthorised entry into or exit from the territory of India and (c) prevent trans-border crimes including smuggling and other illegal activity”, the Centre submitted.

The affidavit stated, “all agencies tasked with the function of guarding the borders of our nations are discharging their duties strictly in accordance with law and complying with the human rights in larger national interests.”

The government contended that “steps taken by any border guarding force is strictly in accordance with the law, in larger public interest, and in the interest of nation”. The Centre also opposed the plea that the Rohingya may be treated like Sri Lankan Tamil refugees here, and said the comparison was “ill-founded and misconceived”. It said certain relief facilities to the Sri Lankan Tamil refugees has its genesis in the Indo-Ceylon agreement of 1964.

Full report at:





German Chancellor Merkel: 'Islam belongs to Germany'

16 March 2018

Chancellor Angela Merkel on Friday rebuffed comments by her interior minister claiming Islam did not belong to Germany, saying the religion of four million of its citizens was part of the country just like Christianity and Judaism. 

Speaking at a joint news conference with Swedish Premier Stefan Lofven in Berlin, Merkel underlined the significance of Christianity and Judaism in the country’s history, and highlighted that Islam too was part of the country’s culture.

“Our country is largely shaped by Christianity, and it continues to be so,” Merkel said, adding that Judaism had also been significant in the country’s history and culture.

“But now four million Muslims are living in Germany, and they are practicing their religion here.

"These Muslims belong to Germany, and also their religion of Islam belongs to Germany,” she said.

Her remarks contradicted remarks of Horst Seehofer, the country's new interior minister, who has chaired Merkel’s sister party, the CSU, for 10 years.

“Islam does not belong to Germany. Germany is characterized by Christianity,” Seehofer told German daily Bild on Friday.

“Muslims who are living here of course belong to Germany. But of course that doesn’t mean because of that we would make false considerations and give up our country-specific traditions and customs,” he said.

The conservative politician made the controversial remarks ahead of regional elections in Bavaria this coming fall, where his Christian Social Union (CSU) faces a tough challenge from the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD).

Germany, a country of 81.8 million people, has the second-largest Muslim population in Western Europe after France.

Among the country’s nearly 4.7 million Muslims, three million are of Turkish origin. Many of them are second or third-generations of Turkish families who migrated to Germany in the 1960s, and are said to be well integrated in the country.

EU’s largest economy witnessed growing Islamophobia in recent years triggered by a propaganda from far-right parties, which have exploited fears over the refugee crisis and terrorism.

Since 2015, Germany received more than one million refugees mostly from Syria and Iraq.



Organization of Islamic Cooperation head meets pope


The Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) secretary-general met Pope Francis at the Vatican on Friday and thanked him for his stance on the plight of Rohingya Muslims and migration issues.

In a written statement, the OIC said Yousef bin Ahmad al-Othaimeen and Pope Francis both “emphasized the importance of interfaith dialogue and raising the voice of wisdom and tolerance to combat extremism and terrorism."

The statement said al-Othaimeen emphasized to Pope Francis “that terrorism has no religion, and that OIC condemns all terrorist acts coming from any religion.

“Al Othaimeen presented his thanks to the pope for his stand on the issue of Al Quds [Jerusalem] and the basic rights of the Muslims and Christians in the holy city.

“Both sides were in agreement on the cause of Palestine and Al Quds.

“Al Othaimeen also appreciated the position of the pope on many issues such as promoting human rights and migration, expressing his thanks to Pope Francis for his position on the Rohingya Muslims and their rights.

“The pope from his side expressed his support to the basic rights of the Rohingya, adding that their suffering has been going on for a long time, and he thanked neighboring countries, especially Bangladesh for hosting them,” the statement added.

Jerusalem remains at the heart of the Middle East conflict, with Palestinians hoping that East Jerusalem -- occupied by Israel since 1967 -- might eventually serve as the capital of a Palestinian state.

The Rohingya, described by the UN as the world's most persecuted people, have faced heightened fears of attack since dozens were killed in communal violence in 2012.

Full report at:



UK Muslims calling for ‘equal integration’ strategy

March 16, 2018

LONDON - The integration of Muslims into British society remains a hot-button issue in the United Kingdom and a report produced by the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB), Britain’s largest Muslim umbrella body representing more than 500 affiliated mosques, charities and schools, calls for the government to adopt a radically new approach.

Titled “Our Shared Future: Muslims and Integration in the UK,” the report, which was presented March 14 in parliament, showcases more than 30 diverse voices on integration in Britain and calls on the government to take on new stances, including backing “equal integration.”

The report was released the same day as the government’s Integrated Communities Strategy green paper, which placed English language learning at the heart of integration.

“Integration is a laudable policy objective. Yet too often we see the conception of a ‘top-down, mono-nationalist and establishment ‘British values’ approach,’ which assumes the ‘other’ needs to be civilised into our way of thinking,” MCB Assistant Secretary-General Miqdaad Versi said in a release.

Writing in the MCB report, he highlighted the statement from former British Prime Minister David Cameron that integration is a “two-way street” and explicitly rejected the view that there should be any “moral onus” on Muslims or ethnic minorities for the supposed failures of integration.

“Such an approach betrays not only a refusal to fully understand our challenges but also flies in the face of the pragmatic reality that we are a nation of immigrants… Integration for us means integration for everyone,” he added.

The MCB report said questions over Muslim integration were overblown. It said that, out of more than 2 million Muslims in Britain, 33% were under the age of 16, 47% were born in the United Kingdom and 6% struggled to speak English.

The 130-page report, published a few days after letters calling for the establishment of “Punish a Muslim Day” were sent across the country, called on the government to do much more to tackle Islamophobia.

“It cannot be overstated how much of an effect Islamophobia and anti-Muslim discrimination has had on Muslims being able to access different sectors, professions and services,” Samayya Afzal, a Bradford-based Muslim activist, said in the report.

She said there had never been an “adequate response” from the government to protect Muslims from discrimination and called on the current government to do more.

“There is a risk of misunderstanding Islamophobia as a passing trend brought on by events such as terrorist attacks. While there is a backlash in the aftermath, it’s important to note that institutionalised Islamophobia is much broader and deeply rooted than these outbursts,” she added.

The report included first-person accounts from different parts of the country, including “A View from the East End” and “A Scottish Muslim Story.” Almost all accounts mentioned rising anti-Muslim sentiment and Islamophobia and called for the government to act.

“We need to address the pressing issue of Islamophobia and its increase over the last five years… much of which has been instigated by right-wing politicians and the mainstream media here in the country” wrote anti-racist activist Maz Saleem.

Saleem’s father, 82-year-old Mohammed Saleem, was killed in Birmingham in April 2013 by a Ukrainian neo-Nazi terrorist.

Maz Saleem’s calls for increased action to tackle Islamophobia in the media were echoed elsewhere in the report.

“The media play a key role in the misrepresentation of Muslims with their negative portrayal on a daily basis, instilling fear in those who have limited contact with them. It is imperative that there are more balanced and positive news stories demonstrating an accurate picture of Muslim participation in British society,” said Sufia Alam, centre manager at the Maryam Centre, part of the East London Mosque Trust.

A YouGov poll indicated that 64% of British respondents said what they know about Islam is acquired through the media.

The report called on social media outlets to clamp down on Islamophobia and so-called fake news.

One day before the report’s release, Facebook announced it would remove the page of anti-Islamic group Britain First. Facebook said Britain First’s posts, which had garnered more than 2 million likes, had repeatedly violated its community standards.

Full report at:



Jewish leader: Banning Islamic calls to prayer won't help integration in Sweden

16 March 2018

The head of one of Sweden’s leading Jewish organizations says that indiscriminately preventing Mosques from holding calls to prayer would damage integration in the country.

Debate about the subject is starting to gather pace in Sweden after the leader of the Christian Democrats instructed local politicians to vote against allowing mosques to hold calls to prayer, following a request from a mosque in Växjö for a permit to do so. The leader of the Moderates has also expressed his skepticism.

Aron Verständig, chairperson of organization the Stockholm Jewish Community thinks the debate is misplaced, and has compared it to the way Jews were treated in Sweden in the 1700s, where there was hysteria over Jewish immigrants bringing instability to the country due to their unfamiliar customs.

"These kind of arguments have occurred throughout history. In Sweden we've always had them: people come here, then there are big demands placed on them in order to fit in, and that's not something that helps integration," he told The Local after writing an opinion piece in the Dagens Nyheter newspaper.

"Rather, what helps integration is if you say to people: welcome to Sweden, here are the laws we have, everyone must follow them regardless, but beyond that, it makes no difference if you're a Muslim, you're a Christian, you're a Jew, whatever your religion is. I believe in that approach."

The issue of whether calls to prayer are allowed or not should not even be a political question in the first place according to Verständig, but rather is one for the already existing laws over keeping the peace and public noise.

"There's a solution for this, and it's a solution that already exists. Look at Botkyrka, where the question came up, and it was decided that it actually isn't a political question, it's a question for the local environmental departments," he noted.

There is already a mosque in Stockholm suburb Botkyrka which holds a call to prayer on Fridays, and does so in line with the laws in the area. Its permit has recently been renewed and the council said it has received no complaints.

"There they had to adjust to the rules which exist. And it's not like there are thousands of Mosques asking for calls to prayer in Sweden, it's only one that asked recently and this thing came up, so the whole thing is being exaggerated. But it's an election year," Verständig observed.

The head of the Stockholm Jewish Community believes that rejecting calls to prayer without basing the decision in the law would send a counter-productive message.

Full report at:



Iraqi asylum seeker guilty of London Tube bombing

March 17, 2018

LONDON : An 18-year-old Iraqi asylum seeker was on Friday found guilty of attempted murder over the botched bombing of a rush-hour London Underground train that injured 30 people.

Ahmed Hassan constructed his homemade bomb "with the aim of indiscriminately killing as many people as possible," said Sue Hemming from the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) after the jury at London 's Old Bailey delivered their verdict.

Hassan left the improvised bucket bomb filled with screwdrivers, knives, nuts, bolts and "Mother of Satan" TATP explosives in a carriage carrying 93 passengers on September 15, last year.

It partially exploded at Parsons Green tube station in west London , one stop after he had alighted.

Dean Haydon, head of Scotland Yard's Counter Terrorism Command, called Hassan "an intelligent and articulate individual that is devious and cunning in equal measures.

"He kept secret what he was planning and plotting. We describe him as a lone actor."

Commuter Stephen Nash earlier told jurors that he was on his way to work when he experienced a "blinding flash" before being "engulfed in flames".

"I was thrown to the ground," he said. "The flames were overwhelming... It was intense heat, I thought I had lost my ears, I thought my head was on fire."

Fellow witness Aimee Colville said she heard a "loud bang" and "cracking" before "a wall of glass came across".

"That morning I had curled my hair and I had put hairspray in my hair so when the flames came over me my hair immediately caught fire," she added.

Hassan told jurors that he didn't intend to hurt people, and that he was "bored and stressed" and wanted to start a fire.

"It became kind of a fantasy in my head. I was thinking about it," he said.

"I was watching documentaries as well, about fugitives and just the idea of being a fugitive got into my head."

Prosecutors showed the jury Hassan's online purchase history, which included chemicals, along with CCTV footage from the day before the attack showing him buying shrapnel items.

Hassan arrived in Britain in October 2015. He told authorities he was in fear of the Islamic State group which he said had taken him by force in Iraq and trained him "how to kill".

He was given a home by foster parents Penny and Ron Jones, and studied media and photography at Brooklands College in Weybridge, south of London .

His college mentor contacted the anti-terror programme Prevent after Hassan said it was his "duty to hate Britain".

He assembled the bomb while his elderly foster parents were on holiday, using money from a school prize to buy the chemicals.

The partially exploded bomb sent a fireball down the carriage, which left passengers with burns, while others were injured in the resulting stampede.

Full report at:



European powers propose new Iran sanctions for ballistic missiles and Syria

17 March 2018

Britain, France and Germany have proposed fresh EU sanctions on Iran over its ballistic missiles and its role in Syria’s war, according to a confidential document, in a bid to persuade Washington to preserve the 2015 nuclear deal with Tehran.

The joint paper, seen by Reuters, was sent to European Union capitals on Friday, said two people familiar with the matter, to sound out support for such sanctions as they would need the support of all 28 EU member governments.

The proposal is part of an EU strategy to save the accord signed by world powers that curbs Tehran’s ability to develop nuclear weapons, namely by showing US President Donald Trump that there are other ways to counter Iranian power abroad.

Trump delivered an ultimatum to the European signatories on Jan. 12. It said they must agree to “fix the terrible flaws of the Iran nuclear deal” - which was sealed under his predecessor Barack Obama - or he would refuse to extend US sanctions relief on Iran. US sanctions will resume unless Trump issues fresh “waivers” to suspend them on May 12.

“We will therefore be circulating in the coming days a list of persons and entities that we believe should be targeted in view of their publicly demonstrated roles,” the document said, referring to Iranian ballistic missile tests and Tehran’s role in backing Syria’s government in the seven-year-old civil war.

The steps would go beyond what a US State Department cable seen by Reuters last month outlined as a path to satisfy Trump: simply committing to improving the nuclear deal.

It also reflects frustration with Tehran. “We’re getting irritated. We’ve been talking to them for 18 months and have had no progress on these issues,” a diplomat said.

European Union foreign ministers will discuss the proposal at a closed-door meeting on Monday in Brussels, diplomats said.

Analysts say the nuclear agreement, touted at the time as a breakthrough reducing the risk of a devastating wider war in the Middle East, could collapse if Washington pulls out.

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif struck a defiant note towards Washington on Friday.

“If the United States makes the mistake of pulling out of the JCPOA, it will definitely be a painful mistake for the Americans,” Iranian state television quoted Zarif as saying. The JCPOA is the formal name of the nuclear deal.

Zarif did not refer to the possibility of new EU sanctions.

The commission overseeing the nuclear accord said on Friday in Vienna that Iran was meeting its obligations under the deal.

The joint document by Britain, France and Germany said they were engaged in “intensive talks with the Trump administration to “achieve a clear and lasting reaffirmation of US support for the (nuclear) agreement beyond May 12”.

The proposal follows weeks of talks between the State Department and European powers as they try to mollify the Trump administration, which is split between those who want to tear up the agreement and those who wish to preserve it.

A US State Department official declined to comment, adding, “We don’t want to get ahead of the EU’s decision-making process ... There is broad agreement on the areas that need strengthening, but how that’s done in each of the three areas is the subject of our negotiations.”

A different US official cited “very good” talks with London, Paris and Berlin this week in Vienna on the issue.

“Proliferation” of Iranian missiles

The document referred to sanctions that would “target militias and commanders”. It proposes building on the EU’s existing sanctions list related to Syria, which includes travel bans and asset freezes on individuals, and a ban on doing business or financing public and private companies.

It was strident in its criticism of Iran’s ballistic weapons, which Tehran says are for defensive purposes, saying there were “transfers of Iranian missiles and missile technology” to Syria and allies of Tehran, such as Houthi rebels in Yemen and Lebanon’s Iran-backed Shi’ite Hezbollah.

“Such a proliferation of Iranian missile capabilities throughout the region is an additional and serious source of concern,” the document said.

Still, the issue is highly sensitive because the 2015 pact between Iran and six major powers - Britain, China, France, Germany, Russia and the United States - lifted international sanctions that crippled Iran’s oil-based economy.

While the EU retains some sanctions on Iranians over human rights abuses, it rescinded its economic and financial restrictions on Iran in 2016 and does not want to be seen to be reneging on the agreement.

Iran signed up to limits on its uranium enrichment activity, which it has repeatedly said is for peaceful power generation, not atomic bombs, but has refused to discuss its missiles.

The Islamic Republic has dismissed Western assertions that its activities in the Middle East are destabilizing and also rejected Trump’s demands to renegotiate the nuclear accord.

In the joint document, Britain, France and Germany set out questions and answers that seek to show that legally, the European powers would not be breaking the terms of the nuclear deal. It said they are “entitled to adopt additional sanctions against Iran” as long as they are not nuclear-related or were previously lifted under the nuclear agreement.

Full report at:





Court Questions Pak Govt over Ban on Hafiz Saeed Outfits

Mar 16, 2018

ISLAMABAD: Lahore High Court (LHC) on Friday ordered the ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) government to explain why it had banned the activities of Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JuD) and Falah-e-Insaniat Foundation (FIF), the organisations led by the mastermind of the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks, Hafiz Saeed.

Judge Aminuddin Khan ordered the government to submit its reply in court by March 29. The order came following the hearing of a petition filed by Saeed against the February 10 notification of the home ministry, which had called for freezing of bank accounts and taking control of assets of JuD and FIF.

Last month, the provincial government of Punjab, on directives of the federal home ministry, had taken action against JuD and FIF seizing control of its offices and financial assets. To provide a legal cover for action against Saeed's network, the government had amended the country's anti-terrorism law on February 9 through a presidential ordinance, ending the difference between the UN sanctions list and the national listing of terrorist groups and individuals.

In his petition, Saeed had asked the court to declare the home ministry's notification about taking over the assets of his charities null and void.

A K Dogar, Saeed's lawyer, told the court that the government had acted against JuD and FIF under pressure from the United States and India. He contended that if there was a conflict between the laws of the land and any provision of the United Nations Security Council Act, 1948, the law of the land shall prevail. Pakistan, he said, is a sovereign independent state.



Prominent Positions in Pakistan Politics Given In Return for Sexual Favours: Reham

Mar 17, 2018

The former wife of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan on Friday claimed that “prominent positions in Pakistan’s political parties were given in return for sexual favours”.

Speaking in an interview with DW, she said that sexual coercion was blatantly used in Pakistani politics and many women had to surrender their political careers if they refused to submit themselves to such requests.

“The government should constitute an independent commission against sexual harassment,” she said and added that the commission should not be linked to any political party.

Replying to question on how the political parties could empower women, the anchor-turned-politician said the selection system for new political leaders should be based on merit. She also termed the current selection system in the political parties a “farce”.

When asked if her upcoming autobiography was going to shed a negative light on Imran Khan, Reham said the book was based on her experiences and journey and it was an honest account.

Denying there was any coincidence that her book was going to be released just before the general elections, she said the policymakers at home could learn from her experiences.

The former wife of the PTI chief said if the elections were going to be held this year, the book would be useful for those who wanted an “insight into Pakistani politics”.

Full report at:



Conference on state-sponsored terrorism in Pakistan held in Geneva

March 17, 2018

A conference on state-sponsored terrorism and political mainstreaming of terrorist groups in Pakistan was held at the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) here on Friday.

The purpose of the conference was to draw attention of the international community to the serious trend in Pakistan of the military establishment attempting to re-model proscribed terror groups as political entities.

The conference was moderated by Brian Toll, former Policy Coordinator for Asia at the European Commission, who in his opening remarks stated that Pakistan had gained a reputation in the international community as one nation that was in the forefront of sponsoring terrorism.

He added, the most concerning issue was that the Pakistani State and its institutions had lately been a mute spectator to a UN designated terror group, the Jamaat-ud-Dawa, not only floating a political party, named the Milli Muslim League, but even contesting elections to a few parliamentary seats.

Brian Toll further stated that it was well known that the Lashkar-e-Toiba and Jamaat -ud-Dawa were involved in terror activities including the Mumbai attacks, where a number of Europeans had been killed, and any forward movement on these groups taking over political power in Pakistan would have severe security repercussions internationally.

Speaking at the conference, Member of European Parliament Fulvio Martusciello charged Pakistan of a lack of commitment to tackling home-grown militants, and stated that in spite of international pressure, the situation has shown no improvement.

He informed the audience that for years Pakistan had been living in denial while allowing Islamic extremist groups to freely carry out their activities and raise funding in the country apart from radicalising the masses.

Martusciello said that now things had come a full circle with a designated terrorist joining politics.

It was high time that the European Union and the UN took stringent action against Pakistan, according to Martusciello.

Tarek Fatah, exiled Pakistani author of 'Tragic Illusion of Islam', speaking at the event stated that Pakistan, from its very inception, has been committed to promoting terrorism.

He elaborated that from sheltering Osama bin Laden, to having a connection with many of the terror attacks around the globe including explosions in Kabul, Pakistani intelligence agency's links to terror has come to the fore again and again.

Tarek Fateh also mentioned that "the doctrine of Pakistan is that if you don't adhere to their religion, you do not have the right to exist".

Henri Louis Malousse, 30th President of the European Economic and Social Committee, in his speech, stated that over the years Pakistan had received massive aid from the international community for its "War on Terror".

However, it was now obvious that Pakistan's efforts at fighting terror had been an eyewash and the country had continued to patronise terror groups for its strategic goals.

Malousse argued, if Pakistan had shown even some degree of seriousness to fight terror, designated terrorists like Hafiz Saeed would not roam freely on the streets of Pakistan.

He called on the international community to hold Pakistan responsible for using terror groups as proxies to further its own interests.

Full report at:



Peace in Afghanistan shared objective of Pakistan, US: Aizaz Chaudhry

Mar 17, 2018

WASHINGTON: Pakistan’s ambassador to the United States Aizaz Ahmed Chaudhry while speaking at an event of the Women’s Foreign Policy Group held at Pakistan Embassy in Washington DC, stated that Pakistan wants to see a stable and peaceful Afghanistan and that it is a shared objective of both Pakistan and the United States (US).

The ambassador stressed the importance of maintaining good relations between the two countries, despite a difference in the approach for stability in Afghanistan.

He also highlighted Pakistan’s successes and achievements, both at the domestic level and in the foreign policy domain during a time of rapid global change.

Earlier on March 10, while talking to a delegation of US journalists, Chaudhry had said Pakistan that will not let anyone use Pakistan’s soil to launch attacks against any other country and added that Pakistan has sacrificed a lot in the fight against terrorism, and will not allow utilisation of its land to attack anyone.

He further said that the economic statistics and security situation of the country have improved considerably due to the operation against terrorism.

Full report at:



COAS visits Peshawar corps HQ, appreciates tribal leaders’ sacrifices

Mar 17, 2018

PESHAWAR: Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Qamar Javed Bajwa on Friday paid a visit at Peshawar Corps Headquarters, Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) statement issued said.

The army’s media cell said the COAS was briefed on the progress of the ongoing Operation Radd-ul-Fasaad, temporarily displaced people and developmental work.

He also inspected the work on putting up a fence along the Pak-Afghan border, said the ISPR. During his visit, the COAS also spoke to tribal leaders and the troops. The army chief appreciated the support by the tribal leaders to the sacrifices rendered by the troops for peace, said the ISPR press release.





TSC is worse than Al-shabaab - Eldas MP

Mar 17, 2018

Eldas member of parliament, Adan Keynan, on Friday condemned the failure of Teacher Service Commission(TSC) to send teachers back to Wajir.

Government teachers had earlier defied the directive by TSC to have them go back to their stations in Wajir county following an attack by Al-Shabaab that claimed the lives of 2 teachers.

The teachers have hence been camping at the TSC offices demanding a transfer to new and safer stations.

"I condemn the attack by Al-Shabaab that resulted in the death of 2 teachers.TSC, because of that incident decided to transfer all non-local teachers.Therefore, TSC has decided to deprive children of their constitutional right to education," said Mr. Kaynan.

The legislator condemned in equal measure the attack as well as the TSC's move to get teachers out of that county.

He claimed that the children are innocent and if anything, providing security is the responsibility of the government.

"Therefore if we are condemning the attack by these militia group, we are as well condemning the act by the government to transfer all non-local teachers.

These children are innocent and security is the responsibility of the government." Mr. Adan said.

He continues to say that they will no longer allow Wajir to be used as TSC recruitment centres every time, employing and transferring teachers.

The former ODM mp made it clear to TSC telling them that they have very little time to make things right by asking the teachers to go back to their stations or they will use any constitutional means to punish them.

"TSC has not done a good thing, in fact, what they have done is worse than what Al-Shabaab did because Al-Shabaab killed only two teachers but TSC is wasting away the lives of thousands and thousands of students," Mr. Keynan claimed.

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Nigeria: Muslim Scholars Highlight Benefits of Islamic Financing to Economic Growth

16 MARCH 2018

By Shakirah Adunola

Reputable Muslims scholars that gathered at the business luncheon of Forum For Islamic Education & Welfare have highlighted numerous opportunities offered by Islamic Financing system, in the quest to growing the national economy.

The President of MUSWEN, Alhaji Sakariyau Babalola, among several speakers at the forum said the world's leading economic thinkers and practitioners as well as business leaders have pointed to the Islamic financial system as the hope for humanity.

Speaking on the theme: 'Islamic Financial system a: A panacea for National Economic Development', Babalola said: "The growing sophistication of research and practice of the Islamic financial system across the world has left nobody in doubt about the confidence that Muslims have in Islam as a religion and complete way of life,"

He said that at the national level in Nigeria, the adoption of the Islamic financial system by both the public and private sectors is growing.

He added that MUSWEN leadership is also putting thoughts together towards establishing a business forum that will provide veritable platform for purposeful engagement among active Muslim in business and professional leaders in the region.

Member, Financial Regulation Advisory Council of Experts, Central Bank of Nigeria, and Dr. Bashir Umar said Islamic finance has been successfully institutionalised all over the world due to ethical qualities entrenched in it.

He noted that Islamic finance is fast growing and there are many opportunities for innovation in the industry for both academics and entrepreneurs.

He said that the introduction of Islamic Finance would positively impact the rate of financial inclusion. Empirical results based on studies of IMF FAS and Global Financial Inclusion Survey (FINDEX) and the World Bank Enterprises survey have shown a possible link between the presence and activity of Islamic banking, and financial inclusion than those that do not have those services.

"OIC countries with Islamic banking service have higher level of financial inclusion than those that do not have those services. Results shows that religious reasons are responsible for the exclusion of 11.6 percent in OIC countries compared to four per cent in the rest of the world. This suggests that self-exclusion due to religious considerations are some extent been mitigated by the introduction of Islamic financial service

He added that there are numerous opportunities for contributing into Islamic financial services.

"The Islamic finance has positively contributed to the overall economic and increase access to financial services in other regions of the world, new and innovative asset class of sukuk designed by Islamic financial services industry in financing infrastructure projects, integrated cooperative model that brings together micro-credit, micro-savings and micro-takaful which eradicate poverty and enhance economic empowerment leading to assets accumulation and self-reliance," he said.

He noted that financial inclusion is a key element to achieve inclusive development needed for sustainable growth in the country. " Many Muslims reject the formal services because of non compatibility of the services to the tenets of Islam, as a result of which they contribute to the overall rate of financial exclusion in the continent," Umar said.

He added that presence of Islamic banking in the country has brought the unserved and undeserved members of the society into the formal financial sector.

The Amir of the organisation, Alhaji Mobolaji Lawal, said the business luncheon seeks to exhibit the immense potentials and benefits of Islamic financial system, as a driving force, in national quest to rejuvenate the economy on the part of sustainable growth and development, thereby ushering in the desired peace, security and love among diverse ethnic and religious groups.

Full report at:



Abducted nurse becomes Boko Haram member, sends warning WhatsApp message

March 16, 2018

By Maina Maina

The nurse abducted by Boko Haram in Rann, KalaBalge local government of Borno a fortnight ago has sent a message to her WhatsApp contacts.

In the message, written in Hausa, the 24-year old girl, Hauwa Muhammad Liman called on the recipients who are in her WhatsApp contact list to return to the path of God.

She also called on them to denounce the ways of the infidels, else they will become the “lost”ones.

“Ya Ku en duniya, kuji tsoron Allah, Ku daina bin taghootu.’Idan kuma ba haka, Allah zai daura mu Akan ku, kuma za Kukasance tababbu,” the message read.

Translation: ‘O you people of this world, fear God, denounce infidelity.’And if you don’t, Allah will give us victory over you and you will be among the misguided’.

The message was sent in the night at about 9:00 PM of March 15.

The 24-year old girl had sent an audio message via the same platform when the attack was going on two weeks ago to one of her WhatsApp contacts.

Full report at:



North America


Canada Struggles as It Opens Its Arms to Victims of ISIS


MARCH 16, 2018

CALGARY, Alberta — As leader of one of Canada’s largest refugee agencies, Fariborz Birjandian, a refugee himself, has years of experience welcoming the world’s most vulnerable — Kosovar Albanians fleeing ethnic cleansing, Burmese Karens evicted from Thai refugee camps and Syrians escaping the civil war.

Nothing prepared him for the Yazidis.

Recently, he entered an English-language classroom in his agency’s building near downtown Calgary, just after a 28-year-old woman had finished describing the screams of a young girl being raped by an Islamic State soldier. Suddenly, the woman fell unconscious.

Her eyes rolled into the back of their sockets, her back arched on the floor and she began to hyperventilate, her voice a rising octave until it emerged as a yelp. She grabbed fistfuls of her hair and snapped her teeth at her forearms.

“Don’t let her bite herself,” said Kheriya Khidir, an interpreter, settling down to hold one of the woman’s arms and stroke her face lovingly. Mr. Birjandian raced off to call an ambulance. Then, he slipped into a stairwell to collect his shaken emotions. The woman, Jihan, is one of almost 1,200, mostly women and children, victims of the Islamic State who have been brought to Canada as part of a special refugee program set up particularly for Yazidis, members of a tiny religious minority from Northern Iraq that the militants set out to decimate in August 2014.

Canada’s immigration minister — who is also a former refugee — assured Canadians the program would address the “unimaginable trauma, both physical and emotional” that most of the victims carried with them.

But a little over a year later, the Yazidis have proved a steep challenge to the country’s celebrated refugee settlement system, and to those who work in it like Mr. Birjandian.

While safety and a new routine helped most other refugees recover, the Yazidis need more and different treatments; workers say they are the most traumatized group yet to be admitted. Counselors, doctors and other workers are hearing such upsetting stories that they themselves need treatment.

“It’s never been this extreme,” said Dr. Annalee Coakley, the lead physician of Calgary’s Mosaic Refugee Health Clinic, explaining that many Yazidis in her clinic showed symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder — flashbacks, night terrors, anxiety, surges of anger.

In some places, efforts to help the refugees seem to be working. In others, they are stumbling.

“The services have been disparate and not coordinated,” said Michelle Rempel, the opposition member of parliament who has championed the Yazidi cause. “I don’t understand why the government has not put more emphasis on it.”

Government officials say that the program is the most elaborate in the country’s history, and that any hiccups stem from the levels of trauma, not poor planning.

“It’s not perfect, but we are fairly good at this,” said David Manicom, the immigration department’s assistant deputy minister for settlement and integration.

As documented by United Nations investigators, when militants of the Islamic State, or ISIS, descended onto Yazidi villages across arid Sinjar Mountain, they rounded up the men, either forcing them to convert to Islam or be killed. The Yazidis’ ancient faith made them apostates in the eyes of the militants.

Women and girls — some as young as 9 — were cataloged and sold into a codified system of sex slavery.

Jihan was sold so many times, she lost count. Like others interviewed for this article, she asked The New York Times to use her first name only to protect family members still held by ISIS.

She and a few other women in Calgary have had seizure-like attacks in which they drop to the ground and seem to relive their rapes.

“I didn’t know what to do,” said Margaret Styczynska, manager of Calgary Catholic Immigration Society’s resettlement center, where arriving refugees spend their first few weeks.

“They were suffocating themselves,” she continued. “They screamed like you are killing an animal. Some lasted 15 minutes or longer.”

As staff members called ambulance after ambulance — requesting female paramedics — they realized they needed to introduce trauma counseling into their work.

“We are not trained for that, but we learned how to do it,” Ms. Styczynska said.

The Canadian government oversees the country’s refugee resettlement program from a distance, funding specialized nongovernmental agencies to do the hands-on work.

Traditionally, counselors help arriving refugees set up the practicalities of their new life — finding housing, enrolling in school and language classes, setting up a bank account. For the minority whose mental health symptoms don’t go away, the family doctor is supposed to step in.

Even before they came, it was clear the Yazidis would need more. However, the government left it up to agencies to draft their own specialized programs. In some places, that has happened. In others, it did not.

“Where is the Canadian government?” said Melkaya, 27, who arrived to the suburbs of Toronto last July with her young son, and spends most of her days in their basement apartment, reliving moments from her 28 months in captivity.

“They told us they would help us with psychologist,” she said. “We haven’t see anything from them. Aren’t we human?”

The head of the settlement agency in Toronto, Mario Calla, said that it had been relying on family doctors to find psychological help for their refugee patients, and that the organization was introducing a support group now.

In Calgary, refugee workers put extra money toward rent so that they could find Yazidis apartments close to one another, for community. In one case, 45 live on one snow-swept street in the city’s southwest quadrant. The workers put on Yazidi-only English classes for the refugees’ comfort.

Still, none of this was enough. So, in August a mental health therapist began a “wellness” program, tailor-made for the Yazidis. The women are taught basic coping strategies, like smelling essential oils and cross-body exercises, said to connect the two sides of the brain.

In November, the organization hired a third crisis counselor to offer one-on-one therapy. Few, however, have taken her up on it — not even Jihan.

“We all have mental issues,” said Jihan, over dinner with five Yazidi neighbors. The names of seven loved ones — all taken by ISIS — are crudely tattooed across her chest, arms and hands.

For her, the tattooing was an act of resistance, which she did while imprisoned in Raqqa, using a sewing needle, ash and another inmate’s breast milk. “We all think a lot about what happened to us,” she said.

Jihan was diagnosed with conversion disorder, a catchall description for neurological symptoms not explained by medical causes.

Since she arrived in Canada last June, and began taking anxiety medication, her seizure-like attacks have been greatly reduced — from four a day that each might last hours, to one every couple months. She doesn’t want therapy.

A lack of interpreters who speak Kurmanji — the Yazidi dialect of Kurdish — has proved a hindrance too. A year ago, before the arrival of the Islamic State victims, there were only 1,000 to 1,500 Yazidis in Canada, according to government estimates. Sixteen Kurmanji-speaking interpreters have been hired, but that’s not enough.

Many Yazidis refuse to speak Arabic or use translation services offered by Muslim Kurds who speak Badini, a similar dialect of Kurdish.

“My heart won’t let me tell a Muslim person what happened to me,” said Kamo, another Yazidi refugee, who survived more than slavery.

Her husband and four of her seven children were pried from her and she doesn’t know their fate. The memory of the last time she saw her eldest daughter, Suzan, brings her to tears. The 14-year-old girl was screaming as ISIS soldiers surrounded her and stripped off her clothing, she said.

“I escaped from these people two years ago, but I still feel captured,” said Kamo, 38. “My heart is not with me. It is with my kids.”

Stories like this are why the Mosaic clinic introduced workshops on something called vicarious trauma for its own staff who work with Yazidi refugees.

“I’ve never heard such depravity,” said Dr. Coaklee of the clinic. “Trying to reconcile your worldview with what you are hearing, you have to change your worldview. There is no justice and life isn’t fair.”

Mr. Birjandian, the chief executive officer of the Calgary immigration society, is among a crescendo of refugee workers calling on the government to expand the Yazidi resettlement program by bringing over not only spouses and dependent children of refugees but extended family members.

“Our fear is the government will be scared of this population and won’t want to touch them,” he said. “But really, this is the population we should help — if we call what we are doing a humanitarian effort.”

“They are the most traumatized,” he added, “and the most resilient.”

Across the country in Toronto, a small group of Yazidi women and teenagers gathered on a Saturday in January for their group therapy session run by One Free World International, a nonprofit human rights organization that stepped in when it saw the local settlement agency wasn’t offering trauma counseling.

“I am always in pain,” said Adiba, a Yazidi who was captured by ISIS and sold six times before escaping. “I’m never comfortable.” She is often in tears. She contemplates suicide.

“Wherever I go, my life will be hard,” said Adiba, 28. “What I saw, it wasn’t something small or simple.”



Muslim officer works with immigrants in Ohio capital city

March 3, 2018

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) - After 10 years in hotel management, Khaled Bahgat grew accustomed to defusing tense situations involving out-of-control banquet hall parties. Often, he had the situation in hand by the time police showed up.

One day, an officer asked, “Have you ever thought about being a police officer yourself?”

It was the farthest thing from the mind of the Egyptian-born Bahgat, who arrived in Columbus as a teenager in 1980 speaking almost no English. But he applied and has served as an officer in Ohio’s largest city for 21 years.

Recently, police chief Kim Jacobs appointed Bahgat a liaison officer between the department and the city’s growing immigrant populations, particularly people from Somalia and Bhutanese-Nepali refugees. Bahgat joins Columbus officers with outreach responsibilities to the black and gay communities.

“There has definitely been some areas where law enforcement doesn’t understand the culture, and likewise the culture doesn’t understand why we do the things that we do,” Bahgat told worshippers last month at Masjid Ibnu Taymiyah and Islamic Center, a mosque on Columbus’ north side serving mainly Somali immigrants.

Yet everyone shares the same goal, he said. “We want to make sure that we can offer everybody a safe neighborhood and we want to make sure that we’re all on the same page,” said Bahgat, dubbed the department’s New American Diversity and Inclusion Officer. Police Chief Kim Jacobs said her goal in appointing Bahgat was breaking down communication barriers preventing police from hearing from everyone in the city. He joins officers around the country who have been appointment to achieve similar goals.

Houston police have officers working with the city’s Muslim, Vietnamese, LGBTQ, Hispanic and other communities. The Minneapolis police department, with the country’s largest Somali population, has outreach officers for the city’s East African immigrants along with southeast Asians and American Indians. The Washington, D.C. department has officers who work with the deaf community, a large population thanks to the presence of Gallaudet University.

In Virginia Beach, Filipino-American officers are frequently in touch with the city’s large Filipino community, said chief James Cervera.

“It’s very hard to hate up close,” he said.

Outreach efforts are valuable tools for police departments, particularly at a time agencies are having difficulty reflecting the local community make-up on their force, said Nelson Lim, a RAND Corporation researcher who helps police departments and the military diversify their workforces.

“You have to turn the whole force around and then say, ‘Hey, not just this officer is responsible for this - all of us are responsible for including everyone, regardless of their background,’” Lim said.

Orlando’s outreach efforts attempt this broad brush approach, with “Orlando Speaks” public forums that bring together officers and residents. The city adopted the concept after town hall meetings deteriorated into shouting matches, said chief John Mina.

Orlando resident Kisha Ohana, who is black, said the forums helped her understand what officers face on the job. She still doesn’t think a lot of black Orlando residents trust police, though she does herself after sitting through one such forum.

“There’s good and bad on the force just as there’s good and bad in our communities,” Ohana said.

In Columbus, Bahgat has his work cut out for him, especially with the Somali community. Residents are upset that two Somalis initially hired by the police department didn’t make it through the police training academy. A third recruit left the academy over rules prohibiting her from wearing a headscarf.

Some Somali residents also think police don’t always listen to their side of a story during when responding to calls, said Ahmed Ahmed, director of the Masjid Ibnu Taymiyah. He calls Bahgat a useful middleman who can explain things from the police perspective.

For now Bahgat, 52, fits his work in between taking calls as a patrol officer, though he has no complaints.

Full report at:



Pentagon: U.S. Troops Repelled Islamic State Attack in Niger Months After High-Profile Ambush

16 Mar 2018

U.S. military troops in Niger repelled an attack in Niger by Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL) jihadists in December, months after the terrorist group ambushed a Green Beret-led team in October, killing four American service members, the Pentagon has acknowledged.

Maj. Sheryll Klinkel, a Pentagon spokeswoman, told CNN that “during a mission in the Lake Chad Basin region the morning of Dec. 6, a combined force of Nigerien and US military members came under fire from a formation of violent extremists.”

The U.S. military emphasized that they were forced to retaliate against the jihadists in self-defense, noting that the American troops “were not seeking combat,” reports CNN.

Instead, the focus of the joint American-Nigerien mission was on setting “the conditions for future partner-led operations against violent extremist organizations in the region,” Maj. Klinkel said, adding that “no aspect of this mission focused on pursuing enemy militants.”

“With that said, our forces do operate in unstable areas and are occasionally exposed to danger from enemy forces. When such a situation occurs, our personnel are authorized to respond to threats and violence appropriately,” the Pentagon spokeswoman explained.

The Pentagon revealed that the attackers were part of the ISIS-West Africa wing, described by military officials as an offshoot of Boko Haram.

According to U.S. officials, ISIS was also responsible for the October ambush, which took place in a different part of the country.

CNN notes:

The US assesses that 11 militants were killed in the December battle, including two terrorists who were wearing suicide vests. It also said that a weapons cache was destroyed during the mission…Following the October incident some senior members of Congress expressed surprise at the size and scope of the US military presence in Niger.

U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM) has launched a probe into the circumstances surrounding the October assault.

Currently, an estimated 800 American troops are serving Niger in a training and advising capacity.

The Pentagon’s acknowledgment that U.S. troops were forced to engage ISIS in Niger comes soon after Gen. Thomas Waldhauser, the head of AFRICOM, told lawmakers the American military “does not have a direct combat mission in Niger,” noting:

Niger is at the crossroads of regional instability: Boko Haram, ISIS-West Africa, ISIS- Greater Sahara, Jamaat Nursat al-Islam wal-Muslimin (JNIM), and affiliated extremist groups in the region; spillover from the Mali conflict in the west; instability emanating from Libya to the north; and a large flow of would-be migrants to Europe who converge on Agadez en route to Libya.

Full report at:



Social conservatives savour victory, thank immigrants


Mar 17, 2018

Canada has accepted about five million new immigrants in the past 25 years and they have irreversibly changed our political dynamics.

Twenty-five years ago, Quebec’s place within the Canadian federation was almost all we ever talked about. Today, the Quebec question has faded from the national agenda. All we seem to talk about now is diversity.

For most of us, this means ensuring that more women and minorities are represented in all spheres of Canadian life. We have branded ourselves as an immigrant nation that embraces people of all origins. “Diversity is our strength” has become our national motto, replacing A Mari Usque Ad Mare (from sea to sea) everywhere but on our country’s official coat of arms.

What our political elites have a hard time admitting, however, is that diversity is not a one-way street toward harmonious living – what the French call le vivre-ensemble – but a multilane expressway of competing and often colliding values, norms and ideas. Nowhere has this become as apparent as in the emergence of social conservatism as a political force in Canada.

Doug Ford’s election as the leader of Ontario’s Progressive Conservative Party would not have been possible without the mobilization of social conservatives. That a strident anti-abortion activist – Tanya Granic Allen – was even on the ballot was proof in itself that this is no longer your father’s PC Party. That Ms. Granic Allen captured almost as much first-ballot support as the centrist Caroline Mulroney, and that her supporters propelled Mr. Ford over the top on the final ballot, was especially sweet for social conservatives.

The latter are now celebrating their new-found political clout — in dozens of languages. Immigration has swelled the ranks of Canada’s social conservatives. Polls shows that Canadian-born voters are less religious than ever, even when they claim to belong to a particular faith. That is not true of immigrants, who often identify more with their religion than their country.

Immigrants have increasingly shaped our communities, our schools and our self-conception as a country. So, it was only a matter of time before they began shaping our politics, too. It is unlikely Ontarians would be debating the province’s new sex-education curriculum at all if only Canadian-born voters were concerned. Resistance to the new curriculum has been strongest among immigrant parents. Some even pulled their kids out of school in protest.

Ground zero for the anti-sex-ed movement is Thorncliffe Park, in Toronto’s inner suburbs, where 70 per cent of the population was born outside Canada and almost 60 per cent of residents speak neither English nor French at home. They’re far more likely to speak Urdu, Farsi and Tagalog.

Campaign Life Coalition, the anti-abortion activist group that has led the fight against Liberal Premier Kathleen Wynne’s update to the sex-ed curriculum, publishes some of its literature in 10 languages. The group claims to have signed up 9,000 new PC Party members during the leadership race to support Ms. Granic Allen as their first choice and Mr. Ford as their second.

“New Canadians are extremely important to CLC. It is probably our fastest growth segment in terms of general supporters and activists,” CLC spokesman Jack Fonseca said in an e-mail. “I do believe that their mobilization could shift public policy momentum on life and family issues.”

Not all social conservatives are religious. Chinese immigrants, whom Mr. Fonseca said have accounted for “a lot of growth” in his group’s membership, are among those least likely to practise a religion. But for most social conservatives, religion is the motivating factor in their political mobilization.

More than half a million Muslims immigrated to Canada in the 20 years to 2011, according to Statistics Canada’s National Household Survey. The 2016 census showed that Canada accepted more than 150,000 immigrants from Pakistan, Iran, Iraq and Syria— all Muslim-majority countries – between 2011 and 2016. Tens of thousands more came from Algeria, Morocco, Tunisia and Egypt.

Almost 200,000 Filipino immigrants came to Canada in the five years to 2016, replenishing the pews of the country’s Catholic churches. As with most Canadian Muslims, these Filipino newcomers take their faith ultraseriously.

A 2016 Environics poll showed Canadian Muslims voted overwhelmingly for Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s Liberals in 2015. But that was likely a result of the uproar surrounding Conservative attempts to ban the niqab at citizenship ceremonies and the party’s pro-Israel foreign policy. The same poll found that, among Canadian Muslims, “religious identity and practice are important and growing, in contrast to the broader secularizing trend in Canada.”

Full report at:



Arab World


Deaths, exodus as two Syria assaults escalate

March 17, 2018

ADRA - Air strikes killed dozens of civilians in Eastern Ghouta and forced thousands to flee their homes Friday as Syrian and allied forces pressed their blistering assault on the six-year-old rebel stronghold.

At least 76 civilians were killed as the toll for the month-old assault near Damascus continued to mount and world powers remained unable to stop one of the seven-year conflict's worst crises.

The war entered its eighth year with another deadly assault unfolding in the north, where Turkish-led forces pressed an operation to seize the Kurdish-majority region of Afrin, sending thousands more civilians on to the roads.

Turkish artillery fire killed 27 civilians on Friday in the city of Afrin, where remaining residents were stocking up on food in preparation for a fully-fledged siege. On the edge of Ghouta, a sprawling semi-rural area within mortar range of central Damascus, hundreds of civilians were still streaming out of destroyed towns, carrying scant belongings in bags and bundles.

Exhausted and distraught, the estimated 40,000 people who poured out of Ghouta on Thursday had harrowing tales of life in fear and deprivation, trapped for weeks in their cellars as regime and Russian jets rained bombs.

"We were around 66 families in the basement, with seven people per family," Hussein Samid told AFP, pausing on the roadside to smoke a cigarette. "Those of us who were in the cellar got together and decided to leave, whatever the cost," the 40-year-old said.

Hundreds of them were crammed in a centre on the edge of Eastern Ghouta on Friday, unsure what the next step would be after walking straight into the arms of the forces that have relentlessly pounded their homes for weeks. They were sitting on the ground and had little access to sanitation as the sudden exodus appeared to have caught the government flat-footed. Despite mild temperatures, most of them were wearing several layers of heavy winter clothes, the same they had kept on for weeks in their freezing basements.

The Syrian army in a message broadcast on state television urged all residents to use "corridors" to leave the enclave as it claimed to have recaptured 70 percent of rebel territory.

The ground offensive pressed by Syrian troops and allied militia has splintered Eastern Ghouta into three pockets. Most of the civilians fleeing since Thursday have left from the town of Hammuriyeh, in the south of Eastern Ghouta. The Islamist and jihadist groups which have dominated this area of the enclave over the past few years retook much of the town they had almost lost a day earlier, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said. "Hayat Tahrir al-Sham and Faylaq al-Rahman have almost completely retaken the town but fighting continues on the outskirts," the Britain-based monitoring group said. Few residents remain in Hammuriyeh itself but tens of thousands of others were still scattered across the southwestern pocket, the largest of three still in rebel hands.

President of the International Committee of the Red Cross Peter Maurer, who was inside rebel-held Ghouta on Thursday when food aid was brought in, voiced his exasperation with the continued bloodshed. "I am myself with many humanitarian workers on the ground both exhausted and fed up with the blind justification of gross violations against civilians," he said in a statement.

Afrin encircled

The Observatory said at least 76 civilians were killed in Russian air strikes on the southwestern Ghouta pocket on Friday. More than 60 died in Kafr Batna, where the Observatory said incendiary weapons were used.

The latest deaths brought to more than 1,330 the number of civilians killed since the start of the ground and air offensive on the enclave on February 18, around a fifth of them children. Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has in recent months recovered swathes of territory lost at the beginning of the conflict and Ghouta was one of his key remaining targets.

An exodus of similar proportions was under way hundreds of kilometres (miles) to the north near the border with Turkey, as civilians tried to escape a looming siege of the city of Afrin.

The Observatory said on Thursday that more than 30,000 people had fled the city of Afrin in 24 hours and civilians were still trying to slip out on Friday before Turkish-led forces cut the last exit road.

The UN said it was worried the forces staying inside were reluctant to allow civilians to flee, as that would leave them even more exposed to Turkey's vastly superior firepower.

Ravina Shamdasani, spokesperson for the UN's Rights Office decried "reports that civilians are being prevented from leaving Afrin city by Kurdish forces ... (and) are being held to be used as human shields."

The death toll also mounted in Afrin, with the latest Turkish artillery fire killing 22 civilians, seven of them children, according to the Observatory.

On January 20, Turkey and Syrian Arab rebel proxies launched an air and ground offensive on the Afrin region, which is controlled by the US-backed Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG).

In seven years, more than half of Syria 's pre-war population of 20 million has been displaced.



Air strikes pound rebel-held area in Syria’s eastern Ghouta, killing 42

16 March 2018

Heavy air strikes targeted a rebel-held area of eastern Ghouta on Friday, killing 42 people and leaving more than 100 injuired in the town of Saqba and Kafr Batna neighbourhood, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

The Observatory said Russian jets carried out the strikes, citing its activist network on the ground. Advancing Syrian government forces have splintered eastern Ghouta into three enclaves in an offensive that has been underway for a month.

The latest wave of air strikes hit the southernmost enclave of eastern Ghouta, from which thousands of civilians fled on Thursday into government-held territory.

Meanwhile, over 20,000 civillians fled the battered area, reported Russian military forces.



Uyghur Militant Filmed With Turkish-Backed Rebels near Syria's Afrin

Mar 16, 2018

The Uyghur militant was filmed in the Hatay Province wearing a Turkish military uniform and East Turkestan patches, the AMN reported.

He openly threatened China, while demanding the Chinese people leave East Turkestan.

“Listen you dog bastards, do you see this? We will triumph! We will kill you all. Listen up Chinese civilians; get out of our East Turkestan. I am warning you. We shall return and we will be victorious,” the Uyghur militant allegedly stated in the video .



Kurdish Militias Releasing ISIL Terrorists in Northeastern Syria

Mar 16, 2018

The sources said that a sum of 12 ISIL militants have been recently released by the SDF from jails in Raqqa city, adding that the Kurds have also intensified security measures against civilians in the city.

The sources further said that fuel prices have significantly increased in Raqqa after the Kurdish militias banned sales of fuel supplies in the city.

They also reported growing popular uprising against US-backed SDF in Raqqa. 

Earlier this month the tribal Arab forces in Raqqa province formed a number of units to fight against the Kurds who occupied the city and were supported by Washington.

The forces formed under the title of the Popular Resistance of Raqqa (PRoR) were recruiting forces to start fights against Kurdish militias.

A large number of civilians who were killed during the operations by the Kurds and the US-led anti-ISIL coalition in Raqqa were members of these tribes.

Full report at:



Report: Jeish Al-Islam Militants Forced to Endorse Agreement with Syrian Army over Eastern Ghouta

Mar 16, 2018

The reports claim that the Syrian Army and Jeish al-Islam agreed to the terms of an agreement that would have the latter turn their heavy weapons into the government and Russian military, the AMN reported.

The report further said according to the agreement, Jeish al-Islam will release prisoners in Douma, including those from the Syrian Army, hand over all their heavy weapons to the government, and give the government and army full access roads to Douma to take the wounded to local hospitals.

Also according to the agreement, the militants in Douma will decide whether they will go to Idlib, Dara'a, or stay in Eastern Ghouta to settle their cases with the state and receive amnesty.

Food staples and aid will enter Douma and a local police unit will be formed by civil leaders in the district, according to the agreement.

State Institutions will also start to work inside Douma after a “short period”. The basic services of water, electricity and sewage system will take priority.

Individual arms ownership will be organized within the existing laws administered by the State.

Full report at:



Nine dead in Turkish air strike on hospital in Syria’s Afrin

17 March 2018

A Turkish bombing raid struck the main hospital in the Kurdish-controlled Syrian town of Afrin on Friday killing nine people, a monitor said, as Ankara pressed its nearly two-month assault.

"There are at least nine dead. We don't know if there are medical staff among them," said the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights war monitor.

Earlier on Friday, 18 civilians, including five children, were killed in Turkish artillery shelling of the northern Syrian city of Afrin, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights and spokesman for the Kurdish People's Protection Unit reported.

Full report at:



Young Saudi preserving Arab culture through a camera lens

17 March 2018

JEDDAH: Bateel Yamani, an 18-year-old photographer, launched her first book of photographs at an event at The Social Space in Jeddah this week.

Yamani, whose pictures impressed the guests at the launch, explained that the passion for photography runs in the family. Her grandfather and mother are both keen amateur photographers who would visit their city’s historic old quarter Al-Balad on a mission to capture its atmosphere.

“My mother bought me my first camera when I was seven years old. My parents believed in me, I started participating in competitions. I was in first or second grade when I participated in my first competition — and I won first place.”

Born and raised in Jeddah, Yamani’s childhood success encouraged her to pursue photography. Now she has self-published her book of photographs. The project is the culmination of nine-months’ work during her senior year at Dar Al-Fikr School in the city. She hopes to find a publisher after first self-publishing her work.

Talking to Arab News, she said: “This project is driven by pure passion and my responsibility of conserving my own culture as an Arab. I feel like we have a duty to preserve this culture, nourish it and teach the world about it.”

Yamani took the photos when she visited Morocco and stopped at the port cities of El Jadida and Casablanca as well as Marrakesh and Fez. She has plans for a further exhibition after she has visited other Arab countries, promising that “this is only the beginning.”

Nawaf Al-Nassar, a member of the Saudi Art Council, who was at the launch event, was impressed by Yamani’s work. “As an architect, I see a type of rhythm in the arches of the buildings in the photographs,” he said.

Full report at:





Whole of Europe has almost surrendered to terror organizations: PM Yıldırım

March 17 2018

The whole of Europe has almost surrendered to terrorist organizations, Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım has said, condemning the European Parliament’s resolution on Turkey Afrin operation.

“The European Parliament’s record on this [terror] subject is not very good. Its decision is not binding anyway. We know the impetus for such decisions. It is a shame that the whole European continent has almost surrendered to the separatist terrorist organization,” Yıldırım told reporters travelling with him on an official visit to Baku on March 15.

“Is anything like this possible? Mosques have been sabotaged, airports have been attacked, houses have been marked. We are tired of saying it ‘don’t spoil [terrorists]. Don’t tolerate them. Tomorrow they will cause trouble for you.’ What we have been saying is becoming true,” he said.

Yıldırım’s comments came after the European Parliament passed a resolution on March 15 criticizing Turkey for its ongoing “Operation Olive Branch” into Afrin and calling on it to be brought to an end.

“The European Parliament does such disruptive things. Are they the ones who are struggling against terror? They should acknowledge that while they were sitting in their comfortable chairs, Turkey has been preventing terror from spreading in Turkey as well as in Europe. In a sense, Turkey is protecting Europe from terror. So before giving such decisions they should have prayed for Turkey every day,” he said.

Yıldırım also noted that the parliamentary resolution described People’s Protection Units (YPG) militants as “Kurdish forces.”

“Since when have the YPG and the [Kurdistan Workers’ Party] PKK, these bloody organizations, become ‘Kurdish forces’? Is there such a country that they can talk about ‘Kurdish forces’? These are ignorant decisions that were given by people who don’t know about the problems of the region,” he said.

Echoing President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s words on the Afrin operation, Yıldırım vowed that the incursion will continue.

“The Free Syrian Army and our armed forces, gendarmeries and police are working meticulously. We are talking about armed terrorist organization [YPG] that has infiltrated into civilians. It is not easy to neutralize terrorists without harming civilians,” he said.

He also stressed that Turkish forces will leave Afrin “when the job is done” as Turkey has “no intention of staying within Syrian territories,” recalling that more than 135,000 Syrian families have so far been able to return to areas Turkey cleared of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) through the Euphrates Shield Operation.

‘Turkey’s stance on Manbij is clear’

On Ankara’s ongoing talks with the United States over Manbij, Yıldırım recalled that his government’s stance on the issue is clear, regardless of the fact that U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson was recently removed from office.

“Our stance on Manbij is the same as our stance on Afrin. We do not want the presence of terror organizations south of our borders,” he said.

More than 90 percent of local people are Arab in Manbij but the U.S. says it needs to keep the YPG elements there in order to provide security of the area, Yıldırım added.

“We want this problem to be solved in agreement with both Russia and the U.S. But it will be solved in any case. There are promises that the U.S. has given to Turkey. During the previous administration, it was said: ‘We will move the [YPG] from there.’ We want that to be realized,” he said.

Commenting on the appointment of Mike Pompeo as new U.S. secretary of state, Yıldırım said “continuity in the state is essential. It would not be proper to say ‘the previous ones said that, it is not my concern now.”

“We are watching and seeing. Whether someone has come or gone makes no difference for us. Principles are what is essential for us. Turkey does not intend to continue its existence under threat of terror,” he added.



Arab Coalition destroys Houthi equipment off Saudi-Yemen border

16 March 2018

Arab Coalition fighters in Yemen have destroyed Houthi militia equipment and military vehicles near the Saudi-Yemeni borders.

According to an Al Arabiya correspondent, drone planes discovered three Houthi military vehicles carrying explosive mines and missiles. The militia had attempted to transport the equipment towards the Saudi border, said the correspondent.

All three targets were destroyed and onboard militia were killed.

Meanwhile, the Arab coalition’s artillery destroyed 12 different targets including dens and barracks belonging to the militias within the Yemeni border.

As such, 15 militia members were killed, while ammunition, weapons and solar power sites used to generate their electricity were also destroyed.



Car ramming attack kills two Israeli soldiers in West Bank

16 March 2018

Two Israelis were killed and at least two others injured when a Palestinian rammed a car into a group of Israeli soldiers in the occupied West Bank on Friday, Israeli media reported.

The Israeli army did not confirm the deaths but said a Palestinian “ran over (Israeli) soldiers who were securing routes adjacent to the community of Mevo Dotan,” a settlement in the northern West Bank.

The attacker was arrested and taken to hospital, the army said.

Israeli media reported two people were killed and three injured in what they described as a suspected car ramming near the Palestinian city of Jenin in the northern West Bank.

There have been a number of previous attacks by Palestinians using cars to ram into groups of Israeli soldiers or civilians.



Britain, France, Germany propose new sanctions on Iran: Report

Mar 16, 2018

Britain, France and Germany have proposed new European Union sanctions on Iran over its missile program and its regional role, a confidential document says.

The joint paper was sent to EU capitals on Friday to sound out support for such sanctions as they would need the backing of all 28 member states of the bloc, Reuters quoted two people familiar with the matter as saying.

"We will therefore be circulating in the coming days a list of persons and entities that we believe should be targeted in view of their publicly demonstrated roles," the document said.

The proposal is allegedly part of an EU strategy to appease US President Donald Trump and preserve the nuclear deal, officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), signed between Iran and the P5+1 group of countries in 2015 amid constant US threats to withdraw from it.

Trump has repeatedly described the JCPOA, which was negotiated under his predecessor, Barack Obama, as “the worst and most one-sided transaction Washington has ever entered into,” a characterization he often used during his presidential campaign, and threatened to tear it up.

He delivered a 120-day ultimatum to America's European allies on January 12 that they must agree to "fix the terrible flaws of the Iran nuclear deal" or he would refuse to extend US sanctions relief on Iran and would pull out of the deal.

The US under Trump has been seeking a revision of the deal and making modifications to it, such as the inclusion of Iran’s missile program in the agreement.

The document said London, Paris and Berlin were engaged in "intensive talks" with the Trump administration to "achieve a clear and lasting reaffirmation of US support for the agreement beyond May 12."

Diplomats said the European powers and the United States held several rounds of talks this week on the issue.

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif on Friday warned the United States against the "painful mistake" of pulling out of the 2015 Iran nuclear agreement.

"Considering what has been envisaged in the JCPOA in the field of research and development and the Islamic Republic of Iran's continued measures to develop its peaceful nuclear capability, if the US makes the mistake of exiting the JCPOA, it will definitely be a painful mistake for the Americans," Zarif told reporters upon his arrival in Tehran from the Kazakh capital of Astana.

Meanwhile, the JCPOA signatories held a new round of their periodic meetings in the Austrian city of Vienna on Friday to review the deal's implementation.

Reacting to reports about the sanctions proposal by the EU, Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araqchi, who was representing Iran at the Vienna talks, said any new sanctions that undermine the nuclear accord will go against the Europeans' pledges at the commission's meeting. He noted that any such move to appease the US will be a big mistake that will affect the very existence of the nuclear agreement.

Under US pressure, certain European countries, especially France, have recently raised claims about what they alleged to be Iran's destabilizing role in the region and also urged for a halt to the Islamic Republic’s missile program. Iran has dismissed such accusations and calls.

Iran and the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council – the US, France, Britain, Russia and China – plus Germany signed the nuclear agreement on July 14, 2015 and started implementing it on January 16, 2016.

Under the JCPOA, Iran undertook to put limits on its nuclear program in exchange for the removal of nuclear-related sanctions imposed against Tehran.

Trump on Tuesday fired Rex Tillerson as secretary of state after a series of public rifts over policy. Tillerson’s departure had long been anticipated due to the clashes.

The US president said he and Tillerson had disagreed on many topics, but he specifically singled out their dispute on whether or not to stay in the Iran nuclear deal.

'All JCPOA signatories committed to the deal'

At the end of the 8th meeting of the Joint Commission since the JCPOA Implementation Day, the participants issued a statement on Friday reiterating the need for continued implementation of nuclear-related sanctions-lifting to allow for the effective realization of the benefits envisioned under the JCPOA, particularly licenses concerning commercial passenger aircraft.

It added that the Vienna meeting also discussed the implementation of Annex III of the JCPOA on civil-nuclear cooperation, and welcomed the work done by a number of participants with Iran in this regard.

"All participants noted their continued adherence to JCPOA commitments and stressed the need to ensure its effective implementation in all its parts in good faith and in a constructive atmosphere," the statement said.

It pointed to the 10th report by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) – the body charged with monitoring and verifying Iran's compliance with its nuclear-related commitments under the JCPOA and UN Security Council Resolution 2231 – and said the parties welcomed the fact that the IAEA has again confirmed Iran's continued adherence to these commitments.

Full report at:



Roadside bomb kills over dozen Saudi mercenaries in SW Yemen

Mar 16, 2018

More than a dozen Saudi-backed militiamen loyal to Yemen's resigned president, Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi, have been killed when a roadside bomb explosion ripped through their military vehicle in the country’s southwestern province of Ta’izz.

A Yemeni military source, speaking on condition of anonymity, told Arabic-language al-Masirah television network that Yemeni troops and allied fighters from Popular Committees detonated a bomb as a vehicle was travelling north of Khalid military camp in the Mawza district, killing 14 Saudi mercenaries.

The source added that Yemeni soldiers and their allies also launched a number of artillery rounds at the gatherings of Saudi-backed militiamen in the same region, leaving scores of them killed and injured.

Yemeni snipers shoot dead Saudi soldier in Asir

Meanwhile, Yemeni snipers have shot and killed a Saudi trooper in the kingdom’s southwestern border region of Asir in retaliation to the Riyadh regime’s incessant aerial bombardment campaign against their impoverished and war-ravaged country.

An unnamed Yemeni military official said Yemeni forces fatally shot the Saudi soldier at Sahwa military base.

About 14,000 people have been killed since the onset of Saudi Arabia’s military campaign against Yemen in March 2015. Much of the Arabian Peninsula country's infrastructure, including hospitals, schools and factories, has been reduced to rubble due to the war.

The United Nations says a record 22.2 million people are in need of food aid, including 8.4 million threatened by severe hunger.

A high-ranking UN aid official recently warned against the “catastrophic” living conditions in Yemen, stating that there is a growing risk of famine and cholera there.

“After three years of conflict, conditions in Yemen are catastrophic,” John Ging, UN director of aid operations, told the UN Security Council on February 27.

He added, “People's lives have continued unraveling. Conflict has escalated since November driving an estimated 100,000 people from their homes.”

Full report at:



Mattis: Don’t restrict US support to Saudi-led forces in Yemen

16 March 2018

WASHINGTON: US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis defended US military support to Saudi Arabian-led coalition forces in Yemen on Thursday as he explained a personal appeal to lawmakers who are considering whether to end Washington’s involvement in the devastating conflict.

The Trump administration has been warning Saudi Arabia since last year that concern in Congress over the humanitarian situation in Yemen, including civil casualties in the war, could constrain US assistance.

Since it began in 2015, the conflict has killed more than 10,000 people, displaced more than 2 million and driven Yemen – already the poorest country on the Arabian Peninsula – to the verge of widespread famine.

Mattis said the US assistance, which includes limited intelligence support and refueling of coalition jets, was ultimately aimed at bringing the war toward a negotiated, UN-brokered resolution.

“We need to get this to a negotiated settlement, and we believe our policy right now is correct for doing this,” Mattis told reporters, as he flew back to Washington from the Middle East.

A bipartisan group of senators, Republican Mike Lee, independent Bernie Sanders and Democrat Chris Murphy, are attempting to take advantage of a provision in the 1973 war powers act that allows any senator to introduce a resolution on whether to withdraw US armed forces from a conflict not authorized by Congress.

Their resolution would force Trump “to remove United States Armed Forces from hostilities in or affecting the Republic of Yemen,” except operations against Al-Qaeda or associated forces. Those are authorized under a 2001 congressional authorization.

Their action is the latest salvo in an ongoing battle between the US Congress and the White House over control of military conflicts.

In a March 14 letter to Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell, and copied to other lawmakers, Mattis described the US assistance as “non-combat support” focused on helping reduce the risk of civilian casualties.

“New restrictions on this limited US military support could increase civilian casualties, jeopardize cooperation with our partners on counter-terrorism and reduce our influence with the Saudis — all of which would further exacerbate the situation and humanitarian crisis,” Mattis wrote.

Mattis also warned that a withdrawal would embolden the Iran-aligned Houthi rebels, who have fired missiles at Saudi Arabia and targeted commercial and military vessels off Yemen’s coast.

Lawmakers have argued for years that Congress has ceded too much authority over the military to the White House. Under the Constitution, Congress – not the president – has the authority to declare war.

Full report at:



Turkish military denies bombing hospital in Afrin

March 17 2018

Turkey’s Armed Forces on March 17 dismissed reports that the army had bombed a hospital in Syria’s northwestern city of Afrin.

“Reports of a hospital bombing in Afrin by the Turkish Armed Forces are false,” the military said in a statement posted on its Twitter account.

Operation Olive Branch “has been conducted without harming any civilians, innocent people and the environment”, the military added.

Turkey on Jan. 20 launched Operation Olive Branch to remove YPG militants from Afrin.

Full report at:



South Asia


Infighting leaves 6 ISIS militants dead in Nangarhar province

Mar 17 2018

At least six militants affiliated with Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) terrorist group were killed during an infighting in eastern Nangarhar province of Afghanistan.

According to the local officials, the incident took place in the past 24 hours in the vicinity of Nazian district.

The provincial government media office in a statement confirmed the incident and said at least six militants affiliated with the terror group were killed.

The statement further added that two militants affiliated with the ISIS terror group were also wounded during the clash.

The Nangarhar governor’s office did not disclose further information in this regard and it is yet not clear if the infighting has taken place among the ISIS militants or between ISIS and Taliban insurgents.

This is not the first time reports emerge regarding the infighting among the militant and terrorist groups in Nangarhar and other parts of the country.

Several such incidents have taken place in Nangarhar, particularly between Taliban and ISIS insurgents, that have left scores of militants dead or wounded.

The anti-government armed militant and terrorist groups including ISIS insurgents have not commented regarding the latest clash so far.



Bangladesh Adventists offer health education for Muslim caregivers

Mar 17, 2018

Known in Bangladesh for its emphasis on education, the Seventh-day Adventist church in Dhaka recently moved outside the classroom to offer education for an often-overlooked population. Leaders from three departments in the Bangladesh Adventist Union Mission (BAUM) provided a health program called “Workshop & Seminar for Better Life” for the guardians, or caregivers, and parents of the largest Adventist school in Dhaka.

Most students from the Dhaka Adventist Pre-Seminary (DAPS) are Muslim with a much smaller percentage of Hindu and other religions represented. The guardians, who are usually Muslim as well, accompany students to the school and then wait for them until classes end for the day. DAPS leaders have looked for ways to provide enrichment for these ladies and the students’ parents.

In conjunction with the BAUM Health Children’s and Women’s Ministries Departments, DAPS hosted two sessions for guardians and parents, one in the morning and one in the afternoon, on February 1. A total of more than 250 attended.

During the sessions, Litton S. Halder, BAUM Communication Director, emphasized the importance of health for all. Mahuya Roy, Women’s Ministries director, shared about the opportunities and responsibilities of women. Attendees earned prizes for their correct answers to Roy’s questions which made the audience very attentive. Young Moon Lee, BAUM Women’s Ministries director, explained the benefits of a vegetarian diet and demonstrated how to make kimchi. Her session was very popular with the guardians since this Korean salad/condiment can be easily made with inexpensive, local ingredients. They also enjoyed the samples and took samples home to share with their employers, family members and relatives.

In terms of follow-up plans, Roy will offer this type of seminar format in different schools, missions and institutions. Interestingly, the guardians wanted to take photos with Mrs. Lee and “asked her to do these types of programs as often as possible,” according to Halder.

“All the parents and guardians appreciated and enjoyed our programs very much. Some of them have invited us to conduct these types of programs in their own schools and institutions,” said Halder.  “We had a very good time of sharing our health, family and children ministry messages to our Muslim, Hindu, and Christian friends as well as people from other religions,” he added.

Full report at:



US airstrike leaves 4 ISIS militants dead in Kunar province of Afghanistan

Mar 16 2018

At least four militants affiliated with the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) terrorist group were killed in the latest US airstrike in eastern Kunar province of Afghanistan.

The 201st Silab Corps of the Afghan Military in the East said Thursday that the US military carried out airstrike on ISIS hideout in the past 24 hours using unmanned aerial vehicle.

The source further added that the latest airstrike was carried out in Lechalam area located in Manogi district and as a result four militants have been killed.

According to the Silab Corps of the Afghan National Army, at least one insurgent was also wounded during the same airtrstrike.

In the meantime, the Silab Corps says the airstrike did not inflict any casualty on the local residents and the security personnel involved in ground operations in the area.

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

This comes as at least fifteen militants affiliated with the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan were killed in a similar airstrike in this province last week.

Full report at:



Southeast Asia


Australia warns Southeast Asia of high-tech terror threat

17 Mar 2018

SYDNEY: Australia on Saturday warned the use of encrypted messaging apps to plan terrorist attacks was the greatest threat faced by intelligence agencies in modern times and urged a "united and cohesive" response.

Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton told an ASEAN-Australia special summit in Sydney that the use of the "dark web" by extremists and other criminals was a spiralling problem.

"The use of encrypted messaging apps by terrorists and criminals is potentially the most significant degradation of intelligence capability in modern times," he said.

Dutton added at the meeting of Southeast Asian leaders that the only way to deal with the threat, and the increasing use of the internet by groups like Islamic State to radicalise and recruit new members, was together.

"While our nations are focused on countering the ongoing threat of terrorism domestically, it would be a mistake to approach the problem from a purely national perspective," he said.

"Terrorism and violent extremism transcend national borders.

"Countering the threat requires a united and cohesive regional effort involving coordination between our respective national security and law enforcement agencies."

Canberra is already helping Southeast Asian states choke terrorist financing and counter violent extremism.

The problem has been exacerbated by jihadists now being forced out of Syria and Iraq with the Islamic State caliphate mostly crushed.

The issue was driven home last year when pro-Islamic State militants seized the southern Philippine city of Marawi, with Australia aiding Manila to win it back.

A memorandum of understanding will be issued at the summit later Saturday, reportedly with an agreement to pool cyber intelligence and police resources across the region for the first time.

The Australian newspaper said it would include a regional digital forensics taskforce and uniform criminal legislative frameworks to secure prosecutions.

Australia has suffered six terror attacks in recent years and disrupted 14 more, including a plot to bring down a plane departing Sydney.

In response, Canberra has consolidated key functions like national security, immigration, counter-terrorism, cyber-security, and border protection under a newly-created Home Affairs department, headed by Dutton.

He said that to address the issue of apps which allow extremists to operate clandestinely, Canberra planned to introduce legislation to strengthen agencies' ability to adapt to encryption.

This will include making companies that provide communications services and devices obliged to assist when asked, while also making the use of surveillance devices and computer network exploitation by authorities easier.

ASEAN groups Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam, with Australia a dialogue partner since 1974.



Kazakh Senate Chairman, Indonesian President discuss Islamic finances and congress of world religions

17 MARCH 2018

A meeting with the President of Indonesia Joko Widodo was a central event of Chairman of the Senate of the Parliament of Kazakhstan Kassym-Jomart Tokayev’s official visit to Indonesia in mid-March.

On behalf of Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev, Tokayev invited Widodo to visit Kazakhstan in October 2018 and participate at the 6th Congress of Leaders of World and Traditional Religions. Extending the invitation to Widodo, the speaker of the senate underlined that throughout these years, the congress has become a helpful dialogue platform for not only spiritual, but political leaders to gather and share their views on issues of common interest.

“In different years, the United Nations Secretary-General, state and government leaders and senior officials of international organisations took part in the congress,” said Tokayev.

He believes that the representation of Indonesia – the largest and a respected Muslim country – personally by its President would greatly contribute to the success of the 6th congress that will devote this year’s meeting to a topic Religious Leaders for a Safer World.

Speaking about bilateral relations between Kazakhstan and Indonesia, Tokayev focused on the importance of this leading the Southeast Asian nation to Kazakhstan in the field of trade, economic and interregional partnership as well as cultural, humanitarian and inter-parliamentary cooperation. In recent years, there has been a steady growth in these fields of interaction. Moreover, the launch of transport and logistics routes within the framework of Kazakhstan’s Nurly Zhol infrastructure programme and the Chinese Belt and Road initiative are expected to help promote economic and trade relations. Kazakhstan expects the Kazakhstan – Lianyungang Port (China) – Seaports of the Asia-Pacific Region corridor to bring major trade and transit opportunities.

According to the Senate press service, at the high-level meeting with Indonesian officials, Tokayev praised the rich experience of the host country in Islamic finances – an area of great interest for Kazakhstan as the country embarks on offering international financial services at the premises of newly established Astana International Financial Centre (AIFC). “We invite Indonesian institutions to work at AIFC,” said Tokayev.

Concluding the meeting, Widodo thanked Tokayev and President Nazarbayev for such consideration and shared his intention to take measures for the expansion of political, economic and cultural ties between the two countries.

Tokayev then met with Indonesian colleagues led by Chairman of the People’s Consultative Assembly of Indonesia Zulkifli Hasan and Speaker of the People’s Representative Council Bambang Soesatyo to discuss prospects of inter-parliamentary relations.

Full report at:



Jokowi wants Indonesian, Australian youth to spread tolerance

March 17, 2018

President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo told dozens of students taking part in the Indonesia-Australia Youth Interfaith Dialog that both nations face the same challenge: maintaining unity in a multicultural society.

Jakarta and Canberra sponsored the interfaith dialog, held in Sydney from March 12 to March 20, involving 19 Indonesian and 15 Australian young people. They were given a chance to share a light moment with President Jokowi and Prime Minister (PM) Malcolm Turnbull on Saturday.

"Diversity is beautiful and more beautiful if we respect each other. I hope young people like you can adopt the value of tolerance and peace," he said at the meeting with the students, held on the sidelines of ASEAN-Australia special summit.

"We need millions of ambassadors like you to spread tolerance and peace.”

Previously in the morning, the President and First Lady Iriana had met with Indonesian youth from different religious backgrounds, namely Muslim, Protestant, Catholic, Hindu, Buddhist and Confucian.  

Jokowi emphasized the power of unity, saying development would be achieved faster if Indonesians could strengthen their unity.

Full report at:



Turnbull lauds Jokowi's leadership, calls him 'role model'

March 17, 2018

Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has praised President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo for his success in developing a multicultural society in Indonesia, calling him one of the most important role models in the world.

"Standing next to me is one of the most important leaders, role models in the world today," he said at the International Convention Center in Sydney while receiving 33 participants of the Indonesia-Australia Youth Interfaith Dialogue.

The event was held on the sidelines of the ASEAN-Australian Special Summit in Sydney on Saturday.

Turnbull said that under Jokowi's leadership, Indonesia had shown that Islam and democracy could work together.

"The President embodies the leadership of Indonesia [...] Indonesia spurs democracy, Islam and moderation," he said.

The prime minister also described Australia as a multicultural society that was united by political values: freedom, democracy and mutual respect.

Jokowi has struggled to stem the tide of intolerance that has pervaded the country in recent years.

Indonesia was in the spotlight last year amid a highly sectarian gubernatorial election in Jakarta.

Full report at:




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