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Pak Woman, Aneeqa Ateeq, 26, Sentenced To Death For Texting Caricatures Of Prophet via WhatsApp

New Age Islam News Bureau

20 January 2022


Pak Woman, Aneeqa Ateeq, 26/ Photo Sabah


• Recognise ‘Hinduphobia’ And Violence Against Buddhists, Sikhs Too: Indian Envoy To U.N.

• Muslims on Edge as Buddhist  Ethnic Group Bids for Power in Rakhine State

• France Closes Yet Another Mosque For Supporting ‘Anti-Semitic Remarks’ In Cannes

• Arab Coalition Strikes Kill 90 Houthi ‘Terrorists,’ Destroy 11 Vehicles In Yemen


• Parliamentary Panel Approves Justice Ayesha Malik’s Appointment To Supreme Court

• Opposition sees campaign behind emergency rumours

• In call with UAE crown prince, Imran condemns Houthi attack on Abu Dhabi



• Clubhouse group targeting Muslim women: Police zero in on 4-5 speakers, set to bring them in for questioning

• Delhi Police writes to Clubhouse app, Google over targeting of Muslim women in group audio chat

• J&K: Kashmiri Pandits observe 'Exodus Day', demand justice for victims

• Terrorists fire at CRPF's bunker at Anantnag, flee

• Bajrang Dal Leader Among 4 Held For Murder Of K’taka Muslim Teen

• Winning Muslim Voters' Trust Biggest Challenge For BJP In Second Phase Of UP Polls


South Asia

• IEA interim cabinet passes uniform scheme for Taliban affiliates

• Taliban’s Prime Minister Mulla Akhund Calls On Muslim States To Recognise Afghan Govt

• Six people including IEA local commander killed in gunfire

• Frozen assets will lead to unemployment of 1.5 million Afghans: Afghan industrialists

• All you need to know about IEA’s first Economic Conference in Kabul: report



• UK Company Report Alleges ‘War Crimes’ In J&K

• Abubaker Deghayes guilty of encouraging 'jihad by sword'

• European countries urge Israel to stop construction in East Jerusalem


Arab World

• World Muslim Communities Council condemns terrorist attack on Abu Dhabi

• Al-Sadr condemns the attacks on the political headquarters in Iraq: not acceptable by Sharia and law

• Twelve Syrian police wounded in bus blast: State media

• Impoverished Lebanese, Syrians struggle to survive cold

• UAE ambassador to US: Houthis used missiles in attack on Abu Dhabi


Southeast Asia

• Shariah Chief Judge Files RM30m Defamation Suit Against Lokman Adam In Connection With Allegations Of Sexual Harassment

• Crowd understood Khairy’s ‘homosexual’ remark against Anwar, says lawyer

• Indonesian security forces blasted over Papua abuses

• Indonesian militant gets 15 years in jail over 2002 Bali bombings



• Commander: Iran Ready to Supply Neighbouring, Friendly States with Military Technologies

• Iran Underlines Need to End War in Yemen

• Participants in Vienna Talks Working on 4 Texts

• Iran, Iraq Agree to Set Up Joint Arbitration Centre

• Turkish envoy meets Libyan parliament speaker Aguila Saleh

• US envoy set to visit Gulf for Yemen peace talks

• 3 civilians killed in rebel shelling in Yemen’s Shabwa



• Hajj: We Are Working To Ensure Ban On Nigeria Is Lifted – NAHCON to Muslims

• Tunisian police killed man in first death of protests, activists say

• UN chief cites ‘demonstrable effort’ at peace in Ethiopia

• Bashir-era detainees end hunger strike in Sudan

• Ethiopian Orthodox Christians celebrate Epiphany

• At least 220 killed this year in attacks in Nigerian state


North America

• US Considering Re-Designating Iran-Backed Houthis As A Terror Group, Biden Says

• Biden says ‘not time to give up’ on Iran nuclear talks

• Iranian-American arrested in US for trying to illegally export technology to Iran

• UN demands Israel end displacements after eviction of Palestinian family

• US defence department releases first video of botched Kabul airstrike

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau



Pak Woman, Aneeqa Ateeq, 26, Sentenced To Death For Texting Caricatures Of Prophet via WhatsApp


Pak Woman, Aneeqa Ateeq, 26/ Photo Sabah


January 19, 2022

Islamabad: A Muslim woman was sentenced to death in Pakistan on Wednesday after being convicted of sending a blasphemous text message and caricatures of Prophet Muhammad via WhatsApp, a court said.

Blasphemy is a hugely sensitive issue in Muslim-majority Pakistan, and laws prohibiting it can carry a potential death sentence -- although it has never been enforced for the crime.

Aneeqa Ateeq, 26, was arrested in May 2020 and charged with posting "blasphemous material" as her WhatsApp status, according to a summary issued by the court.

When a friend urged her to change it, she instead forwarded the material to him, it said.

Caricatures of Mohammed are forbidden by Islam.

The sentence was announced in the garrison city of Rawalpindi, with the court ordering her to be "hanged by her neck till she is dead".

She was also given a 20-year jail sentence.

Up to 80 people are known to be jailed in Pakistan on blasphemy charges -- half of whom face life in prison or the death penalty -- according to the US Commission on International Religious Freedom.

While many cases involve Muslims accusing fellow Muslims, rights activists have warned that religious minorities -- particularly Christians -- are often caught in the crossfire, with blasphemy charges used to settle personal scores.

PromotedListen to the latest songs, only on

In December, a Sri Lankan factory manager working in Pakistan was beaten to death and set ablaze by a mob after being accused of blasphemy.

Source: ND TV

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Recognise ‘Hinduphobia’ And Violence Against Buddhists, Sikhs Too: Indian Envoy To U.N.


India's Permanent Representative to the UN, T.S. Tirumurti speaking at the UNSC, in New York. File   | Photo Credit: PTI


Suhasini Haidar

JANUARY 20, 2022

India’s Ambassador to the United Nations says global terror strategy is selective, urges against adding right wing extremism, violent nationalism to anti-terror resolutions

Calling for the United Nations to recognise ‘Hinduphobia’ along with other acts of religious hatred against Buddhism and Sikhism, India’s U.N. envoy T.S.Tirumurti said that the U.N.’s latest Global Counter-Terrorism strategy passed last year is full of flaws and is selective, and could reverse gains from the global consensus in the “war on terror” post 9/11. In remarks indicating the government’s discomfort with new terms being added to the definition of terrorism, he also said that terms like “violent nationalism” and “right wing extremism” must not be included to resolutions on terrorism, as they would “dilute” them.

“In the past two years, several member states, driven by their political, religious and other motivations, have been trying to label terrorism into categories such as racially and ethnically motivated violent extremism, violent nationalism, right wing extremism, etc. This tendency is dangerous for several reasons,” Mr. Tirumurti said, delivering a keynote address at a virtual conference organised by the Delhi-based Global Counter-Terrorism Centre (GCTC), where he said he spoke as Ambassador of India to the U.N. and not in his capacity as Chair of the Counter-Terrorism Committee (CTC) at the U.N. Security Council for 2022.

India assumed the chair of the CTC this month, and Mr. Tirumurti’s strong remarks suggest that India will oppose any expansion of the terms that are included in the UNSC’s discussions on terrorism, until it demits the UNSC seat in December this year.

Mr. Tirumurti pointed out that only religious phobias against “Abrahamic religions”: Islam, Christianity and Judaism had been named in the “Global Counter Terrorism Strategy’s” 7th review passed by the U.N. General Assembly in June 2021. “The emergence of contemporary forms of religiophobia, especially anti-Hindu, anti-Buddhist and anti-Sikh phobias is a matter of serious concern and needs attention of the U.N. and all member states to address this threat,” Mr. Tirumurti said, without mentioning any examples.

In comments that appeared to counter recent criticism in western press of “right-wing” ideology in India, the envoy said that putting “labels” to “so-called” threats was “misleading and erroneous”.

“It is important to understand that in democracies right-wing and left-wing are part of the polity primarily because they come to power through the ballot reflecting the majority will of the people and also since democracy by definition contains a broad spectrum of ideologies and beliefs,” Mr. Tirumurti said, adding that national or regional narratives must not become part of global narratives.

Mr. Tirumurti said that attempts to characterise the motivation behind terror groups were another danger that could take the world “back to the pre 9/11-era” where groups were labelled as “your terrorists and my terrorists”. At the UNSC, India also chairs the 1988 Taliban Sanctions Committee, and would have to preside over any requests on easing or waiving sanctions against Taliban leaders.

“Terrorists are terrorists; there are no good and bad ones.Those who propagate this distinction have an agenda. And those who cover up for them are just as culpable,” he said, calling on the Security Council “to be on guard against new terminologies and false priorities that can dilute our focus”.

Source: The Hindu

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Muslims on Edge as Buddhist  Ethnic Group Bids for Power in Rakhine State


FILE - Ethnic Rakhine villagers arrive at a temporary monastery camp with their belongings, June 29, 2020, in Sittwe, Rakhine State, Myanmar.


January 20, 2022


With Myanmar’s ruling military preoccupied elsewhere, leaders of a Buddhist ethnic minority in western Rakhine state are establishing themselves as the effective government and security force in the state and persuading at least some Muslims that they are a better alternative than the junta.

But the development is worrying other Muslims in the state, the scene of a murderous 2017 rampage by government troops that left thousands dead and drove more than 700,000 Rohingya Muslims to flee to safety in neighboring Bangladesh.

For them, a recent series of ethnically charged incidents — including the murder of a local official — is bringing back memories of conflict between the two communities in 2012, when people were killed, houses and religious buildings were set on fire, and more than 30,000 people were forced from their homes.

In recent months, Rakhine has remained relatively peaceful despite rising violence elsewhere in Myanmar, where the military – known as the Tatmadaw – is facing popular resistance to its seizure of power in a Feb. 1, 2021, coup.

That has left an opening for a bid for power by a mainly Buddhist ethnic group known as Rakhines or Arakans, led by an armed militia known as the Arakan Army which has been fighting the central government since 2009, demanding self-determination for the Rakhine people.

Since the middle of last year, the Arakan Army has been establishing itself as an alternative government in Rakhine, inviting the public to come to it with complaints and to settle legal issues including theft, robbery and land disputes.

“We are running a sort of administration in Rakhine. Our judicial system has also been built up there. We have established a tax system,” said Arakan Army chief General Twan Mrat Naing during a Dec. 19 interview published in the Bangladeshi news outlet Prothomalo Alo.

“This is nothing new in Burma,” he added using an alternative name for Myanmar. “Almost all the ethnic groups involved in armed struggle run their own administration in their respective areas.”

Khaing Kaung San, executive director of the Wan Lark Foundation, which works to improve relations among groups in Rakhine, said the Arakan Army has been able to take advantage of a lack of effective rule in the province by the junta, made up mainly of the nation’s ethnic majority Burmese.

“No one trusts them. So most people rely on AA when something goes wrong. AA is also capable of controlling different communities to prevent getting worse when having an issue among them,” he said.

The Arakan Army is increasing efforts to gain credibility with locals. In the Prothomalo Alo interview, Twan Mrat Naing, discussing the Rohingyas and the Buddhist Rakhines, said the Arakan Army’s position is “as we are all on one side against the Burmese, we want all in Arakan to remain together.”

Most Rakhines are optimistic about the Arakan Army’s performance in Rakhine state, but some Muslims say they do not fully trust it and are concerned about a power struggle between the Arakan Army and the junta.

Village administrators and village elders from Muslim villages have been warned by the junta not to deal with the Arakan Army. Locals say the military council often arrests locals for suspected links to the insurgent force and prosecutes them under anti-terrorism laws.

Many Muslims are also worried by a wave of recent incidents, including the murder of a local government official for which a 14-year-old Muslim boy is being held. Other incidents include allegations of a plot by two Muslims to rape a Rakhine woman, and destruction of property of both Rakhines and Muslims in November and December.

In November, an Islamic school and a dormitory inside a school were burned down.

According to official figures, 13 fires broke out in Maungdaw district, which borders Bangladesh and has a large Rohingya population, between January and Nov. 25 last year. Eleven of those were in Muslim villages.

“Rakhine state seems stable. In reality, it is like a bomb that can explode at any time. There are a lot of invisible problems,” said Phone Pyae Phyo, who chairs the Arakan Students' Union. He spoke to VOA from Sittwe township.

The violence has sparked memories of clashes between the two communities in 2012 after three Muslim men raped a Burmese woman, Thida Htwe, in the town of Kyaukphyu. Violence and vandalism spread throughout the state, including the capital, Sittwe.

Leaders of the Arakan Army and its political wing, the United League of Arakan, have denounced the recent violence as “an attempt to create fears and anxieties among people.” In a formal statement, the group did not assign blame for the incidents, but promised to investigate and provide security for locals.

A similar note was sounded by U Tun Aung Kyaw, a member of central executive committee of another Rakhine-based group, the Arakan National Party.

“People from both sides are on high alert not to have sectarian violence like that in 2012. No one wants to get into trouble again,” he told VOA. “Now, unscrupulous people are using incidents to try to cause trouble again. Fortunately, leaders of both communities have tried to maintain stability.”

Despite the recent friction, for many Muslims the greater threat is from the Tatmadaw, which perpetrated the 2017 massacres and still strictly limits their movements.

They say the military has set up checkpoints at township entrances and exits and requires government permission slips, with multiple approvals, to travel beyond their townships. Muslims also say they are barred from traveling to other states and regions.

"So far, we have spent at least 250,000 kyats [$141] to get permission to go to another township in Rakhine state. We are being blocked from visiting other places,” said Maw Lawi Tun, a Muslim resident of the state capital, Sittwe.

Adul Malein, a Muslim living in Buthidaung township, said Muslims’ living conditions were deteriorating year by year. Many cannot find work and have relied heavily on International Committee of the Red Cross food assistance.

"AA came to our village and persuaded us to cooperate with them. They told us that if they succeed and completely control the state, we would have a chance and would enjoy equal rights,” Adul Malein said.

“Many are still watching the situation, even if we do not fully trust the Arakan Army,” he said, adding that they will go with the side that can create a better situation for them.

“We are afraid of both sides [AA and junta] and follow their orders because we have nowhere to go,” Adul Malien said.

Source: VOA News

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France Closes Yet Another Mosque For Supporting ‘Anti-Semitic Remarks’ In Cannes


(File photo) French Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin Photograph:( AFP )


19 January 2022

A mosque in the southern city of Cannes has been closed by the authorities for alleged promotion of “anti-Semitic remarks,” the French Interior Minister has announced.

In an interview with a French TV channel, CNews, Gerald Darmanin said the decision to close Al Madina Al Mounawara mosque for two months was also taken because it supported the Collective against Islamophobia in France (CCIF) and BarakaCity – two groups that were banned for spreading “Islamist propaganda.”

The other reasons cited for the closure are the mosque’s support of “antisemitic remarks” and “incitement of hatred.” However, no particular incident was specified by the minister.

A statement from the Cannes municipality said that the decision “comes after meticulous research by the state services and multiple reports made directly by the municipality of Cannes since 2015. The vast majority of Muslims who frequent this very old mosque do not share its orientation; some also alerted us. It is therefore up to the emergence of new leaders respectful of the French Republic and the country so that the place of worship can then reopen.”

However, the mosque’s new imam, Amhed Guessoum, said he had nothing to do with these accusations.

“The request for closure is not justified,” he said. “The accused is the former rector Mustapha Dali who has retired, but continues to express himself on social networks and on the mosque’s Facebook page when he has been living in Paris for six months. We cannot intervene directly on this Facebook page and we will create another one.”

The decision comes two weeks after regional authorities in northern France closed down a mosque in Beauvais because of an imam’s alleged “speeches against Christians, Jews and homosexuals.”

According to Interior Ministry data, 99 mosques and Muslim prayer halls have been investigated in recent months. Some of them were accused of spreading “separatist ideology.” Around 23 have already been closed for various reasons and more are being investigated.

The crackdown came after the October 2020 murder of teacher Samuel Paty who was targeted following an online campaign against him for having shown blasphemous cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) published by the magazine Charlie Hebdo.

The ministry data says there are 2,623 mosques and Muslim prayer halls in France. In December last year, interior minister ordered an investigation into 76 mosques for what the government described as a “massive and unprecedented action against separatism.”

France does not have a state religion but the country has armed itself with laws that allow it to close mosques, churches, synagogues and other places of worship in certain circumstances.

A law, Sécurité Intérieure et Lutte contre le Terrorisme, came into force in 2017. It states: “For the sole purpose of preventing the commission of acts of terrorism, the representative of the State in the department, or in Paris the Police Préfet, may pronounce the closure of places of worship in which the remarks that are held, the ideas or theories that are disseminated or the activities that take place provoke violence, hatred or discrimination, provoke the commission of acts of terrorism or glorify such acts.”

Similarly, In July, the National Assembly of France passed an “anti-separatism” bill. Later in August, it was approved by the highest constitutional authority.

The law was criticised for restricting religious freedom and singling out Muslims. The government has defended itself stating that it is intended to strengthen France’s secular system.

Source: 5pillars UK

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Arab Coalition Strikes Kill 90 Houthi ‘Terrorists,’ Destroy 11 Vehicles In Yemen


A Yemeni government fighter fires a vehicle-mounted weapon at a frontline position during fighting against Houthi fighters in Marib, Yemen March 9, 2021. (Reuters)


19 January ,2022

Arab Coalition strikes in Marib against the Iran-backed Houthis have killed more than 90 “terrorists” and destroyed 11 military vehicles in the last 24 hours, the official Saudi Press Agency (SPA) reported on Wednesday.

The latest update was part of 19 targeted strikes carried out by the coalition, two days after the Iran-backed Houthis attacked the UAE capital of Abu Dhabi.

A construction site at Abu Dhabi’s new airport extension, and an oil facility caught fire on Monday morning, causing an explosion in three oil tankers. Police said the incidents were possibly caused by drones.

UAE Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed later described the incidents as “terrorist attacks and [a] sinister criminal escalation,” adding that they “will not go unpunished.”

The fires were a rare instance of attacks on UAE soil.

Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Ministry condemned the attacks in a statement released on Monday.

Yemen’s Iran-backed Houthis launched dozens of cross-border attacks on Saudi Arabia throughout 2021.

In September 2021, the Houthis intensified their efforts to take Marib, a provincial capital which is the government’s last northern stronghold.

The Iran-backed militia frequently target civilian areas and energy facilities in the Kingdom with explosive-laden drones and ballistic missiles.

The Arab Coalition has been carrying out attacks against legitimate military Houthi targets in Yemen in recent months, warning civilians to not approach or gather around the targeted sites beforehand.

The coalition also stressed that the operations will be conducted in line with international humanitarian law.

Source: Al Arabiya

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Parliamentary panel approves Justice Ayesha Malik’s appointment to Supreme Court

Malik Asad

January 20, 2022

ISLAMABAD: The Parliamentary Committee on appointment of judges on Wednesday confirmed the nomination of Justice Ayesha Malik to the Supreme Court. This means that she only requires the president’s formal assent to become the first woman to be elevated to the country’s top court.

However, the committee chaired by Senator Farooq H. Naek rejected the names of three lower court judges that were put forward by the Judicial Commission of Pakistan (JCP) for elevation to the Peshawar High Court (PHC).

Justice Malik will remain a judge of the Supreme Court until March 2031 and may even have a chance to become the first woman to hold the post of chief justice.

JCP asked to reconsider elevation of three KP district judiciary officers to PHC

Following the parliamentary committee meeting, Mr Naek told reporters that Justice Malik’s elevation was approved unanimously. He maintained that the body did not compromise on seniority rules, adding that since Justice Malik would be the first woman judge in the apex court and had a reputation for competence and integrity, the committee had voted in her favour.

But sources said the committee had also deliberated on the concerns raised by bar councils and lawyers’ representative bodies, who had objected to her nomination as a judge of the Supreme Court.

After a heated session on Jan 6 that lasted for over three hours, the JCP recommended Justice Malik’s name by a majority of five votes to four.

Chief Justice Gulzar Ahmed, senior puisne judge Justice Umar Ata Bandial, former judge Sarmad Jalal Osmany, Law Minister Barrister Farogh Naseem and Attorney General Khalid Jawed Khan had supported Justice Malik’s candidature, while Justice Qazi Faez Isa, Justice Maqbool Baqar, Justice Sardar Tariq Masood and Pakistan Bar Council representative Akhtar Hussain opposed the selection.

PHC judges

On Wednesday, the parliamentary committee also rejected three of the six nominees, proposed by the JCP for elevation to the Peshawar High Court.

The commission had recommended the elevation of Nowshera district and sessions judge (DSJ) Fazal Subhan, Peshawar Accountability Court Administrative Judge Shahid Khan and Special Cou­rt Presiding Officer Dr Khurshid Iqbal, alongside Khyber Pakhtun­khwa Ad­­ditional Advocate General Kamran Hayat Miankhel and Supreme Court lawyers Mohammad Ijaz Khan and Mohammad Faheem Wali.

However, sources said the parliamentary committee dropped the names of the three lower court judges and referred the matter to the JCP for reconsideration.

The committee was of the view that two judges from the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Judicial Service, Asim Imam and Kaleem Khan, were on top of the seniority list.

The committee was told that the KP Judicial Services Tribunal had confirmed the seniority of Kaleem Khan, while Mr Imam was the next senior-most, having served as an anti-terrorism court judge in Swat and Hangu.

Source: Dawn

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Opposition sees campaign behind emergency rumours

Amir Wasim

January 20, 2022

ISLAMABAD: The country’s major opposition parties see a “systematic and planned campaign” behind circulation of rumours about imposition of some kind of an emergency in the country and ongoing talk in social and mainstream media in favour of presidential form of government.

The Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) and the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) suspect that the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) is behind such a “campaign” to distract the people’s attention from real issues and its failure on every front.

This perception, however, was categorically refuted by Federal Minister for Information and Broadcasting Fawad Chaudhry, who termed the speculation about emergency or presidential form of government a part of “fake news culture” prevailing in the country thanks to some YouTubers and V-loggers.

Amid this gossip, the members of the joint opposition on Wednesday submitted a resolution to the National Assembly Secretariat expressing the resolve to uphold and strengthen the federal parliamentary system in the country as provided in the 1973 Constitution.

Fawad terms it part of ‘fake news culture’

Ahsan Iqbal, the PML-N secretary general, posted an image of the hand-written resolution signed by members belonging to almost all opposition parties in the assembly on his official social media account on Twitter with the caption “let’s see if it comes on the assembly’s agenda on Friday or not”.

“When the government, imposed through rigged elections, has ruined the country, then whisperings of imposition of an Indira Gandhi-like emergency and change in the system through various formulas are being heard,” wrote Mr Iqbal on his Twitter handle.

Mr Iqbal was referring to the imposition of emergency in India by the then prime minister Indira Gandhi on June 25, 1975. It remained in force till March 21, 1977.

This emergency is regarded as the darkest chapter in the history of democratic India as during this period the country saw a crackdown on civil liberties and stifling of dissenting voices. This emergency had also been reportedly imposed by Ms Gandhi after a court had convicted her on charges of rigging in elections.

During an informal chat with reporters on Wednesday, PPP MNA Dr Nafisa Shah said it seemed that the government itself was behind this campaign to divert the attention of the public ahead of the opposition-announced long marches. She said the people of this country were in pain due to the bad performance of the present government in every field.

“The government’s Gestapos and state machinery are behind it (campaign). Those doing it in the media should refrain from it,” she said.

Terming it a “drama” and “gimmick”, the PPP MNA “condemned” the campaign and vowed to defend the country’s federal parliamentary system as enshrined in the 1973 Constitution.

“If anyone tries to play with the country’s sacred Constitution, he will receive a befitting reply,” she said.

The PPP MNA regretted that starting from the social media, the campaign had now reached the main media as discussions were taking place on the issue of presidential form of government. She said it had been a “settled issue” since the creation of Pakistan in 1947 that the country would have a federal parliamentary system. The Constitution, she said, provided complete structure of the federation and parliament and this was a “red line” which no one could cross.

When contacted, Federal Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry regretted that it had become a tradition that two or three people talked about such things on YouTube and from there it went viral through WhatsApp and then finally newspapers and TV channels also started reporting them.

“This is the actual fake news cycle with which we have a problem and media wants to promote it,” he said, while denying the impression that the campaign had anything to do with the government policy.

“There are thousands of options available on YouTube and everyone has access to it. There are people who want to keep themselves alive on YouTube and WhatsApp,” he added.

“The problem is that in Pakistan the fake news has become a culture through YouTube and WhatsApp and no one is allowing the government to bring legislation to end this culture,” he said, alleging that the media groups in the country were “encouraging” this culture.

“Even the newspaper like Dawn writes an editorial on fake news and writes on PMDA bill without realising that no such law exists,” he said while referring to the criticism on the government for suggesting formation of Pakistan Media Development Authority (PMDA) to regulate all the media, including the social media. The proposal to set up the media authority had been rejected by all media and journalists’ organisations and later the government claimed that it had not yet drafted any such bill.

Source: Dawn

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In call with UAE crown prince, Imran condemns Houthi attack on Abu Dhabi

January 19, 2022

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan Wednesday condemned the Houthi attack against Abu Dhabi — that killed one Pakistan national and two Indians, and was claimed by the Iran-backed militia — in a telephonic conversation with United Arab Emirates (UAE) Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan.

Police in the capital, Abu Dhabi, said Monday’s attacks targeted three oil tanker trucks at an oil facility and an extension of the Abu Dhabi International Airport. They said six people were wounded.

There was no significant damage to the airport or oil facility, police added.

Today, the prime minister expressed solidarity with the leadership, government and people of the Emirates, a press statement issued by his office said.

Khan underlined that such attacks could not be justified under any circumstances and stressed their immediate cessation, observing they posed a grave threat to regional peace and security.

The prime minister offered deepest condolences to the families of all the victims and prayed for the speedy recovery of the wounded.

Al Nahyan thanked Khan for the “strong expression of support”, and also offered condolence on the death of the Pakistan national.

A spokesperson for the rebel group said it had carried out the attacks on the UAE’s economic hub of Abu Dhabi in retaliation for its role in a military offensive in Yemen last week.

Source: Pakistan Today

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Clubhouse group targeting Muslim women: Police zero in on 4-5 speakers, set to bring them in for questioning

January 20, 2022

A day after the Delhi Police registered an FIR against people who allegedly made derogatory remarks against Muslim women during a session on Clubhouse app, Cyber Cell officials said they have narrowed down on four-five suspects and will bring them in for questioning.

On Tuesday, the Delhi Police took cognizance of a group on Clubhouse, an audio-only app, where dozens of users participated in a discussion during which derogatory and sexually loaded remarks were made about Muslim women. The discussion was recorded and shared online, prompting the Delhi Commission for Women to write to the police seeking action.

Cyber Cell officials said they have sent notices to the US-based company seeking details of the users/organisers who started the group, and have also sent a notice to Google Play Store to “keep a check” on such apps.

Sources told The Indian Express that the investigating team has identified a number of participants and are now looking for four-five people who were the “speakers”.

“We have found that all suspects are from adjoining states and not from Delhi. They are all adults. Mostly, the users had accounts under fake names and used aliases on Clubhouse. We heard the conversations on the app and found there were four-five main participants. We are tracing their location and they will be picked up soon,” said a source.

An FIR under IPC sections 153A (promoting enmity between different groups on the ground of religion), 295A (deliberate and malicious acts, intended to outrage religious feelings of any class by insulting its religion) and 354 A (sexual harassment) has been registered in the matter.

On Wednesday, a recording of another group on Clubhouse emerged where some participants can purportedly be heard making vulgar remarks.

Police said they have seen the group and found that a few of the accused in the first group were also participants in the other one. “We are looking into both the groups. We suspect a few people might be using dubbed voices to pose as men/women. We will detain them and question them about their aliases,” said a police officer.

This comes less than a month after an app, hosted on software platform GitHub, used photos of Muslim women alongside derogatory comments meant to imply they were being “auctioned”. The Delhi Police has arrested two men, from Assam and Indore, in connection with the case. And six months ago, another GitHub app held a similar “auction”.

Source: Indian Express

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Delhi Police writes to Clubhouse app, Google over targeting of Muslim women in group audio chat

Jan 19, 2022

NEW DELHI: The Delhi Police on Wednesday wrote to the Clubhouse app and search engine Google seeking details about the organiser of the alleged audio group chat in which "obscene comments were made against Muslim women", official sources said.

The police have also identified some members of the group audio chat, which included men and women from both communities, as part of the investigation, they said.

Google has been asked to provide information about the Clubhouse application as well as the reason behind hosting it on their play store, they said.

"We have identified five to six suspects as of now who were part of the alleged chat room. Many among them are also based outside Delhi and other states. Suspects include both men and women and all of them are adults," one of the sources said.

Police officials said that as per preliminary investigation, it has emerged that all the suspects were using fake names and operated from fake accounts, and efforts are underway to trace their exact locations and nab them.

They said that suspects belong to both the communities and alleged that some among them had also modulated their voice and edited it in order to erase any digital footprint.

The development comes a day after the Delhi Police's Intelligence Fusion and Strategic Operations unit, which works under the supervision of Special Cell, filed an FIR against the unknown persons in the matter.

The FIR was registered Tuesday just hours after the Delhi Commission for Women (DCW) issued a notice to the Delhi Police demanding action against some people who made "obscene comments against Muslim women" on the app.

"A case has already been registered in the matter under relevant sections of the Indian Penal Code. We have also written to Google and to Clubhouse app seeking details about the organiser of the alleged audio chap group in which some obscene comments were made against Muslim women," the official source said on Wednesday.

The sections include 153A (promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion, race, place of birth, residence, language, etc., and doing acts prejudicial to maintenance of harmony), 295A (deliberate and malicious acts intended to outrage religious feelings of any class by insulting its religion or religious beliefs) and 354 A (sexual harassment and punishment for sexual harassment), according to police.

In its notice to the Cyber Crime Cell, the DCW had said it had taken sou-moto cognisance of a video posted on Twitter which showed a Clubhouse conversation where Muslim women and girls were being referred to in a disparaging way.

Source: Times Of India

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J&K: Kashmiri Pandits observe 'Exodus Day', demand justice for victims

Jan 20, 2022

JAMMU: Kashmiri Hindus on Wednesday observed a 'Black Day' and staged a protest to mark 32 years of their mass exodus following a genocidal campaign initiated by terrorists.

The protesters held several placards, which read 'Hang our killers'. They demanded justice for the victims who sacrificed their lives and severe punishment for those responsible for the exodus.

Virji Kachroo, a Kashmiri Pandit expressed his resentments against the Central government and asked why is this government not sending us to back our homes in Kashmir valley.

"We voted the Central government twice, thinking of that they will take this issue seriously. We do want to ask the government when will we go back to our home?" Kachroo said.

"It has been 32 years since we have been struggling to date. This is not just a normal day for us, it was the day when were driven away from our homes," he said.

Shadilal Pandit, another Kashmiri Pandit said "we have been living our lives in exile. 19 January 1990 was a black day when Pakistan conspired against Kashmiri pandits and we have thrown out of our homes."

Shadilal slammed the Central government for not taking appropriate action to ensure the rehabilitation of the community.

"We are disappointed with the government who promised us rehabilitation but they have used us as a political tool," he said.

Source: Times Of India

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Terrorists fire at CRPF's bunker at Anantnag, flee

M Saleem Pandit

Jan 20, 2022

SRINAGAR: Terrorists fired at a Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) bunker near FM Gali in KP Road in south Kashmir's Anantnag district on Wednesday. None was, however, injured in the attack, officials said.

A CRPF officer said that the assailants fired three-four bullets at the bunker before escaping. Searches were launched in the area soon after to trace the perpetrators.

CRPF trooper kills self in Budgam

A CRPF trooper hanged himself at a Covid centre in Humhama area in central Kashmir's Budgam district on Wednesday evening, senior officials said.

Source: Times Of India

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Bajrang Dal leader among 4 held for murder of K’taka Muslim teen

Jan 20, 2022

By Arun Dev

A Bajrang Dal leader, among four, was arrested in the murder case of a 19-year-old Muslim youth in Karnataka, said police on Wednesday.

Police said the accused were identified as Bajrang Dal leader Sanju Nalvade, his associates, Gundya Muttappa Hiremath, Channu Chandrashekar Akki, and Sakrappa Hanumanthappa Kakanur .

The incident took place on Monday when Nargund resident Shamir Shahapur and his friend, Shamshir were returning home after closing their business. The duo was attacked with lethal weapons during which Shahapur was killed and Shamshir sustained serious injuries. Shamshir is undergoing treatment at KMC Hospital, Hubli, the police said.

A senior police officer in Gadag said, “The actual case relates to an alleged incident which took place about two-three months ago when a Muslim boy was accused of eve-teasing a Hindu girl. This case is under investigation. Following this, the Bajrang Dal members went the area and tried to pick a fight.”

Following this incident, Nalavadi made a provocative speech in front of the police station on January 17, where he dared the police to arrest him and his associates.

The police booked a case against the leader, but instead of the speech, he was booked for violation of Covid-19 rules. They were let off with a fine for the violation. “They murdered the 19-year-old the same night after leaving the police station,” said the officer.

Source: Hindustan Times

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Winning Muslim voters' trust biggest challenge for BJP in second phase of UP polls

20th January 2022

LUCKNOW: The ruling BJP might face a tougher battle on the 55 seats that will go to polls in the second phase of the Uttar Pradesh Assembly election compared to the first round since the region has a high concentration of Muslims, influenced by the religious leaders of the Barelvi and Deoband sects.

The polling in the second phase of the Uttar Pradesh Assembly election will be held on February 14 and a notification for the same will be issued on January 21.

Both the important seats of the Barelvi and Deobandi sects -- Bareilly and Saharanpur respectively -- will go to polls in this phase.

The 55 Assembly segments of the western districts of the state -- Saharanpur, Bijnor, Amroha, Sambhal, Moradabad, Rampur -- and of the Rohilkhand region's Bareilly, Budaun and Shahjahanpur districts will go to polls in the second phase.

Of the 55 seats, the BJP had won 38 in 2017, while the main opposition Samajwadi Party (SP) bagged 15 and the Congress two.

The SP and the Congress contested the last Assembly election in an alliance.

Of the 15 seats won by the SP, Muslim candidates emerged victorious in 10.

Of the 58 seats that will go to polls in the first phase, the BJP had won 53, the SP and the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) got two each and the Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD) bagged one.

Maulana Tauqir Raza Khan, the president of the Ittehad-e-Millat Council (IMC) and the religious guru of Barelvi Muslims, has announced his support to the Congress candidates in the five poll-bound states, including Uttar Pradesh and Punjab.

Keeping in mind the large Muslim population, All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) chief Asaduddin Owaisi has also fielded candidates in some of the seats in the region.

Uttar Pradesh BJP vice president and MLC Vijay Bahadur Pathak told PTI that his party will win more seats than before in the second phase too because "ever since the BJP government was formed at the Centre and in the state, all sections of the society have developed and this is clearly felt by all".

"The aggrieved public will not give a chance to parties like the Congress that headed the government for long, or the SP and the BSP, which have been in power in the state continuously for 15 years, during which loot and corruption continued unabated," he said.

SP chief Akhilesh Yadav had formed alliances with both the Congress and the BSP for different elections and people have taught him a lesson, Pathak said.

The SP had formed an alliance with the Congress in the 2017 Assembly polls and with the BSP and the RLD in the 2019 Lok Sabha election.

In both the elections, the politics of the alliance worked as compared to that of the BJP's in this region.

But this time, with the SP, the BSP and the Congress going it alone, critics claim that there will be a split of votes and the BJP can benefit from it.

The BSP has fielded Muslim candidates in the area and a split of the Dalit and Muslim votes is also expected.

The Mayawati-led party has become active and apart from its MPs, its national general secretary Satish Chandra Mishra has also toured this region extensively.

In the 2017 Assembly polls, the SP-Congress alliance had won 17 seats in the area and in the Lok Sabha election, of the 11 seats, seven had gone to the SP-BSP alliance with the BSP getting Saharanpur, Nagina, Bijnor and Amroha and the SP winning Moradabad, Sambhal and Rampur.

The formula of an alliance of Muslim, Jat and Dalit voters was successful in this region.

This time, the SP has formed an alliance with the RLD and the Mahan Dal, which has influence among the voters of western Uttar Pradesh, and both parties are believed to hold considerable sway over the Jat, Shakya, Saini, Kushwaha, Maurya and Koiri fraternities in the region.

Akhilesh Yadav and his uncle Shivpal Yadav have their own influence in the Yadav community.

The SP is also trying to capitalise on the issue of arrest of Rampur MP and former minister Azam Khan, who has been in the Sitapur jail for nearly two years now in land-grabbing and other criminal cases.

Akhilesh Yadav has accused the BJP of implicating Khan in fake cases.

SP's national secretary and chief spokesperson Rajendra Chaudhary told PTI that his party's alliance is very strong in the areas going to polls in the second phase.

"BJP's ground has slipped from under its feet and its lies and fraud have been exposed. This time, the people of Uttar Pradesh will send the BJP on an exile," he said.

Another SP leader pointed out that Swami Prasad Maurya and Dharam Singh Saini, who resigned as ministers recently and joined the SP, will add strength to the SP-RLD alliance and along with Keshav Dev Maurya of the Mahan Dal, they will ensure that the BJP is "wiped out" from the region.

Source: New Indian Express

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South Asia


IEA interim cabinet passes uniform scheme for Taliban affiliates

20 Jan 2022

Interior Ministry of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan on Wednesday, January 19, 2022, announced that the interim government led by Mullah Muhammad Hassan Akhund has passed the scheme of uniform for the personnel of the ministry.

Deputy Spokesperson of the Ministry engineer Izam in a video clip said that the scheme was sent to the cabinet over a week ago that has been passed now.

Engineer Izam said that the uniform for the Ministry of Interior will not be much different from that of the national police of the previous government.

“The scheme of the police of the Interior Ministry sent to the cabinet was passed by ministerial council and the uniform will soon be distributed across Afghanistan.” Said Izam.

It comes as the Taliban affiliates-police- are yet to be given a specific uniform now six months after the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan regained power on August 15 last year.

Source: Khaama Press

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Taliban’s Prime Minister Mulla Akhund Calls On Muslim States To Recognise Afghan Govt

January 20, 2022

KABUL: The Taliban’s prime minister called Wednesday on Muslim nations to be the first to officially recognise their government, as aid-dependent Afghanistan faces economic collapse.

Although the group has promised a softer rule in line with their interpretation of Islamic Sharia law, women are largely excluded from government employment and secondary schools for girls are mostly shuttered.

"I call on Muslim countries to take the lead and recognise us officially. Then I hope we will be able to develop quickly," Mohammad Hassan Akhund told a conference in Kabul called to address the country´s massive economic woes.

Source: The News Pakistan

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Six people including IEA local commander killed in gunfire

19 Jan 2022

Local officials of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan in the eastern Kunar province confirmed that a local commander including six others was killed in gunfire on Wednesday, January 19, 2022.

Intelligence officials of the IEA said that the commander, his son, and five others were shot killed in the Narang district of the province.

The officials said that the people were killed as a result of personal enmity.

The incident is not new in Afghanistan since the Taliban takeover, people across Afghanistan have often been killed as a result of the enmity.

Source: Khaama Press

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Frozen assets will lead to unemployment of 1.5 million Afghans: Afghan industrialists

20 Jan 2022

Head of the Chamber of Mines and Industries of Afghanistan Sherbaz Kaminzada said that factories in the country which are on the brink of collapse will completely close if the assets of Afghanistan do not get unfrozen.

He warned that lack of cash and the restrictions on the banking system that has made difficult procurement of raw material will leave 1.5 million people out of jobs, over 500,000 of them women.

Sherbaz Kaminzada expressed the remarks in his meeting with the UN Secretary-General’s special representative to Afghanistan Deborah Lyons on the sideline of the Economic Conference in Kabul on Wednesday, January 19, 2022.

Kaminzada said that Afghanistan had an unreal and fragile economy during the past twenty years and asked the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan and the International Community to cooperate with Afghan industrialists for the growth of the economy.

“Hundreds of factories in Afghanistan do not have raw material that has directly affected the workers, investors, and common people.” Said Kaminzada.

Source: Khaama Press

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All you need to know about IEA’s first Economic Conference in Kabul: report

19 Jan 2022

Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan convened their first-ever Economic Conference that was attended by high-ranking officials of the IEA and representatives of 80 countries both in-person and online.

The conference was named “Economy of Afghanistan”, was held in the office of the Prime Minister (ARG), and was telecast live on the state-run RTA channel on Wednesday, January 19, 2022.

In the conference, acting PM of the IEA Mullah Muhammad Hassan Akhund delivered his first-ever video speech after he occupied the post and accused the West of violating human rights by imposing economic sanctions on Afghanistan that have affected the lives of 40 million people in Afghanistan.

Mullah Muhammad Hassan Akhund asked for humanitarian aid to the Afghan people and pleaded for the release of nearly $10 billion now frozen in the western banks.

“I ask all foreign investors to come to Afghanistan and invest here, they should not take recognition of the IEA as a pretext. Previous government with all problems, unjust and corruption was recognized. We should also be recognized as we have fulfilled the criteria for one. We don’t even a single penny for our Mujahideen (Taliban affiliates) and ministers; all we want is for the impoverished people. So release our assets and respect rights of these humans.” said the PM.

Mullah Muhammad Hassan Akhund asked the Islamic countries to prove their independence and take the lead in recognizing the interim government of Afghanistan.

Speaking at the conference, second Deputy PM Abdul Salaam Hanafi said that their foreign policy is based on economy-concentrated, and for that purpose, they have been focusing on major regional economic projects.

Abdul Salaam Hanafi said that they do not want to have an economy dependent on foreign aid and will strive to arrange annual budgets from their domestic resources.

He also added that they have uprooted corruption and embezzlement in Afghanistan and are trying to get the takes of all for economic stability.

On the other hand, UN Secretary-General’s special representative for Afghanistan Deborah Lyons said that they have prepared a transitional mechanism and will collect up to $8 billion for the Afghan people.

Deborah Lyons said that economic sanctions have affected the lives of millions of Afghan people and over half of the Afghan population needs life-saving aid.

“Economic sanctions and frozen assets of Afghanistan have led to the ongoing crisis in the country and now a shared thought is needed between the Afghan government and private sector. We have raised our voice with donor countries regarding the release of funds and lifting sanctions.” Said Lyons.

Acting Minister of Finance Hidayatullah Badri said that they have brought vas reforms in the country’s customs and incoming system of the country and has reactivated the treasury.

Source: Khaama Press

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UK company report alleges ‘war crimes’ in J&K


Jan 20, 2022

LONDON: In what’s seen by the Indian authorities as a Pakistan-backed propaganda exercise, a London law firm published a report, containing alleged testimonies from more than 2,000 people living in Kashmir, which it said provided evidence of “war crimes and violence conducted by India in J&K”.

A complaint against the Indian Army, ministers and senior officials was also passed on to the Metropolitan Police war crimes

unit calling for an investigation into alleged war crimes by Indian authorities in Kashmir.

An Indian source said the firm is linked to authorities in Turkey and was acting on Pakistan’s behalf. He added that the Indian high commission had not been contacted by any UK authority about the police complaint. “The report is too frivolous to merit any response. It alleges genocide and human rights violations but is totally silent on crossborder terror promoted by Pakistan,” said the source.

Stoke White international law firm, which has offices in Istanbul and London, specialises in Islamic law and has strong Turkish connections. It claims to have its own investigations unit based within the law firm which it says is “dedicated to investigations covering public interest matters”. It said in a statement that it had passed its report titled ‘India’s war crimes in Kashmir’ onto the Metropolitan Police war crimes unit this month to investigate and called for the arrest of senior officials for carrying out war crimes and torture in J&K.

Last year, the same firm filed a case against the UAE and Saudi Arabia, accusing them of committing war crimes in Yemen. Saudi Arabia has regional tensions with Turkey. Pakistan has, on the other hand, extended its ties with Turkey and Turkey is currently trying to project itself as the new Caliph in the region and carrying out Pakistan’s bidding.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has repeatedly taken the Pakistan position on Kashmir while India does not support Turkey’s position on Cyprus. Stoke White was instrumental in bringing about the Ankara agreement for Turkish nationals which has allowed thousands of them to settle in Britain.

The UK has universal jurisdiction on war crimes under the Geneva Conventions Act 1957. In a statement, the Metropolitan Police said: “We can confirm the Metropolitan Police War Crimes team received a referral on 18 January 2022 concerning allegations of core International crimes alleged to have been recently committed in the Kashmir region in India. The war crimes team is reviewing the allegations in line with CPS (Crown Prosecution Service) guidelines and a decision will be taken whether to open an investigation."

The 41-page report claims the testimonies expose war crimes and human rights violations in J&K, including extrajudicial killings, enforced disappearance and arbitrary detention as well as harassment of NGOs and journalists.

Source: Times Of India

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Abubaker Deghayes guilty of encouraging 'jihad by sword'

19 January 2022

A man who made a stabbing gesture as he called for jihad "by sword" at a busy Brighton mosque has been found guilty of encouraging terrorism.

Abubaker Deghayes, 53, was convicted at the Old Bailey following a trial.

He addressed about 50 worshippers, including children, at the Brighton Mosque and Muslim Community Centre on 1 November 2020 after evening prayers.

The judge said he was considering immediate custody for Deghayes, who will be sentenced on 25 February.

Deghayes, from Saltdean in East Sussex, was bailed with conditions to stay at his home address on an electronically monitored curfew. He was told to report to a police station on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.

He has been instructed to surrender his passport and not apply for travel documents, and not to attend the Brighton Mosque mentioned in this case.

Judge Nigel Lickley said: "Because of the offence you have been convicted of I must have in the forefront of my mind an immediate custodial sentence."

'Jihad is compulsory'

Prosecutor Ben Lloyd told the jury Deghayes had said "jihad is fighting by sword" and was compulsory.

In a video of the speech played to the court, Deghayes said: "Whose power is more powerful than us? Allah is more powerful than you.

"You, idiots. You kuffar (non-believers)... The non-believer is an idiot. He's stupid."

He went on to say: "Jihad, jihad, jihad. Jihad is compulsory. Jihad is fighting by sword.

"That means this jihad is compulsory upon you, not jihad is the word of mouth but jihad will remain compulsory until the Day of Resurrection."

Source: BBC News

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European countries urge Israel to stop construction in East Jerusalem

January 20, 2022

PARIS: The foreign ministries of France, Germany, Italy and Spain urged Israeli authorities on Wednesday evening to stop the construction of new housing units in East Jerusalem.

Earlier in the month, Israeli authorities approved plans for the construction of around 3,500 homes in occupied East Jerusalem, nearly half of which are to be built in the controversial areas of Givat Hamatos and Har Homa.

In a statement, the European countries said that the hundreds of new buildings would “constitute an additional obstacle to the two-state solution,” referring to international peace efforts to create a state for Palestinians.

They said that building in this area would further disconnect the West Bank from East Jerusalem and that these settlements are a violation of international law.

The Israeli ministry of foreign affairs did not immediately respond to a Reuters request for comment.

Israel captured East Jerusalem including the Old City in a 1967 war and later annexed it, a move not recognized internationally.

Palestinians want East Jerusalem for the capital of a state they seek in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, which abuts the city, and the Gaza Strip. Israel views the entire city as its indivisible capital.

Most world powers deem the Israeli settlements illegal for taking in territory where Palestinians seek statehood.

The four countries also expressed concern about the evictions and demolitions in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah, where residents say they are being displaced.

Source: Arab News

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Arab World


World Muslim Communities Council condemns terrorist attack on Abu Dhabi


ABU DHABI, 20th January, 2022 (WAM) -- The World Muslim Communities Council expressed its strong condemnation of the terrorist Houthi militia's targeting of civilian facilities in Abu Dhabi.

In a statement issued by its general secretariat, the Council expressed its denunciation and condemnation of the incident and rejects of all acts of violence and extremism that target innocents. The Council noted that all religions oppose these terrorist crimes, because they perpetuate hatred and fuel feelings of violence and extremism.

The Council demanded the international community to include the Houthi militia on the list of terrorist organisations, and put an end to these terrorist practices that destroy societies and target innocents.

The Council’s statement affirmed its confidence in the ability and wisdom of the Emirati leadership to protect the security of its citizens and residents. It also stressed the importance of the world’s solidarity to confront these terrorist practices that contradict all religious and humanitarian values. The Council called on all religious leaders to take a firm stance against the crimes committed by these militias.

Source: wam

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Al-Sadr condemns the attacks on the political headquarters in Iraq: not acceptable by Sharia and law


Shafaq News/ The leader of the Sadrist Movement, Muqtada al-Sadr, addressed the party behind targeting the offices of political parties.

"Some of those affiliated with the political forces opposed to the elections resorted to violence by targeting the headquarters of parties loyal to the majority government, and this is not acceptable by Sharia and law." Al-Sadr said on Twitter.

"It is not logical for a politician to resort to violence if he does not get what he wants. Those who pretend the resistance should not target Iraqis, as this aggravates the security situation and discredit its reputation among the people."

Al-Sadr said, "The government should also take the necessary security measures to find the perpetrators so that the democratic process does not turn into a puppet in the hands of all the people."

"If we lose the elections or give up or exclude from forming a majority government, we will not resort to violence."

"Earlier today, unidentified men threw a grenade at the office of the deputy speaker of the Iraqi Parliament.

A security source told Shafaq News Agency, "persons in a car threw on Wednesday a grenade at the office of the second deputy speaker, Shakhwan Abdullah, in the Rahimawa area of Kirkuk city."

The attack caused only material damage to the office without any casualties.

Abdullah has been elected as second deputy Speaker of the Iraqi Parliament, obtaining 180 votes.

He is a member of the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP). KDP headquarters were targeted last week.

Source: Shafaq

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Twelve Syrian police wounded in bus blast: State media

19 January ,2022

Twelve members of Syria's internal security forces were lightly wounded Wednesday in a bomb blast on a police bus in the southern province of Daraa, state news agency SANA reported.

The device exploded near Jisr Saida in Daraa province, SANA said.

Daraa province and its capital of the same name, the cradle of Syria's 2011 uprising, returned to government control in 2018.

However, holdout rebels who stayed on in a southern part of the city called Daraa al-Balad continued to battle regime forces last year.

A Moscow-brokered 2021 truce saw dozens of opposition fighters bused out of the city, but some have stayed on.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which has an extensive network of sources inside Syria, said 20 attacks have been recorded in Daraa province since the beginning of the year.

The war monitor says 16 people have been killed in those attacks, including eight civilians.

In October last year, two bombs planted on an army bus in the capital Damascus killed at least 14 people and wounded three others, the worst such attack there in four years, according to SANA.

Source: Al Arabiya

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Impoverished Lebanese, Syrians struggle to survive cold

19 January ,2022

A snowstorm in the Middle East has left many Lebanese and Syrians scrambling to find ways to survive, burning old clothes, plastic and in some cases even sheep manure to keep warm as temperatures plummet and poverty soars.

The storm, dubbed “Hiba” in Lebanon, began Tuesday night and is expected to peak Thursday. Lebanon's economic collapse and currency crash have meant an increasing number of families are unable to afford fuel to heat their homes this winter.

Hundreds of thousands of Syrian refugees in Lebanon and Jordan and others displaced by Syria’s war are sheltering in poorly heated tents, relying mostly on layers of blankets to keep warm.

“The situation is very, very difficult,” said social activist Baseem Atrash, speaking from the snowcapped northeastern Lebanese town of Arsal near the Syrian border. Arsal is home to one of the largest Syrian refugee concentrations in Lebanon, with some 50,000 people, most of them living in flimsy tents.

Atrash said Syrian refugees, as well as some Lebanese who have fallen into poverty since the country's financial meltdown began in October 2019, lack diesel for heaters, while constant power cuts make electric heaters useless.

“They are burning anything to keep their heaters on, from plastic to old clothes,” Atrash said. Earlier this month, a Syrian mother and her three children died in their sleep after inhaling toxic fumes from burning coal to heat their room in a village in southern Lebanon.

Lebanon, a country of 6 million people, is home to 1.5 million Syrians who fled the now decade-old civil war in their country. The United Nations estimates that 90% of Syrian refugee households live in extreme poverty. But as Lebanon grapples with an unprecedented economic crisis, the poverty has deepened for both Lebanese and Syrians. Sky-rocketing fuel prices coupled with a currency collapse has meant many essential commodities are now out of reach for the average Lebanese.

Nadim Attieh, a Lebanese, decided to donate some of his firewood to needy families after he heard of how cold it will get. He used Twitter to spread the word of his in-kind donation: a ton of wood — enough to last five or six families through the coldest three days ahead.

“I have stocked up on wood during summer and I have a good quantity. So why not share with people who are underprivileged,” asked Attieh, himself out of work since losing his job in the Persian Gulf a couple of years ago.

The cost of a ton of wood is now equivalent to five times the minimum wage, selling for 3 million Lebanese pounds ($120) while some 20 liters of diesel now going for about 300,000 — nearly 10 times what it cost three years ago.

In Syria’s northwestern province of Idlib, where many of the 3 million residents are displaced, Yassin al-Yassin was fortifying his tent with extra tarps and supports as the weather worsened.

Al-Yassin, who lives in the tent with his wife, two daughters and son, couldn’t afford wood or diesel for heating, so he'll be burning dried sheep manure that's been piled up since summer.

“All we have to protect us is tarp and blankets,” he said by telephone from the tent, surrounded by mountains near the Turkish border. He said only those receiving hard currency from relatives abroad can afford to buy diesel and wood for heating.

Aid group CARE International said temperatures are expected to drop in Jordan, Lebanon, and Syria to well below freezing, endangering the lives of millions already living in precarious circumstances.

“People can see their own breath when lying on their thin mattresses, you will see children walk around in flipflops and ripped shirts. Families are afraid that they will freeze to death,” said Jolien Veldwijk, CARE Syria Country Director.

Cold and respiratory illnesses are rising and spreading, as is the threat of COVID-19 in overcrowded camps without sufficient healthcare, CARE said.

Ahamd Rakan, displaced nearly two years ago from his hometown of Kfar Nabel in the last rebel-held stronghold in northwest Syria and now living in a tent, said he has been gathering wood, olive seeds, papers and old clothes for months in order to use them for heating.

Source: Al Arabiya

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UAE ambassador to US: Houthis used missiles in attack on Abu Dhabi

19 January ,2022

Yemen's Iran-backed Houthi militia used cruise and ballistic missiles, as well as drones, in Monday’s attack on Abu Dhabi that killed three people, the UAE ambassador to the US said on Wednesday.

“A combination of cruise missiles, ballistic missiles, and drones targeted civilian sites in the UAE. Several were intercepted, a few of them didn’t, and three innocent civilians unfortunately lost their lives,” ambassador Yousef Al-Otaiba said in a panel hosted by the Jewish Institute for National Security of America.

This marked the first acknowledgement by UAE officials that missiles were used by the Houthis in Monday’s attack on Abu Dhabi which led to a fire breaking out and resulted in the explosion of three petroleum tankers, and another fire that broke out in the area of the new construction site of Abu Dhabi International Airport.

In addition to the three causalities, six others were wounded.

Yemen’s Houthi militia claimed responsibility for the attack saying it conducted an operation “deep in the UAE,” and the group’s spokesman said they fired five ballistic missiles and “a large number” of explosive-laden drones at “sensitive sites” in the UAE.

Otaiba said the Houthis were a “terrorist organization” that attacked civilians in a country “that was not at war.”

“We have long left the Yemen war. We are still being a target. And for the sake of transparency, we are asking our friends in the [US] administration and in Congress to re-instate the Houthi terrorist designation as an FTO,” he added.

President Joe Biden’s administration revoked a terrorist designation of the Houthis introduced by former President Donald Trump in January of last year. Biden also announced in ending US support for the offensive operations of the Arab Coalition, led by Saudi Arabia, which intervened in Yemen in 2015.

Source: Al Arabiya

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Southeast Asia


Shariah Chief Judge Files RM30m Defamation Suit Against Lokman Adam In Connection With Allegations Of Sexual Harassment

19 Jan 2022

KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 19 — Chief Syarie Judge Datuk Mohd Na’im Mokhtar has filed a defamation suit amounting to RM30 million against former Umno Supreme Council member Datuk Lokman Noor Adam in connection with allegations of sexual harassment against several women, including one carrying the title “Datin”.

Mohd Na’im, 54, filed the suit in the High Court through Messrs Akberdin & Co on January 17, naming Lokman, 49, as the defendant.

Based on the statement of claim, Mohd Na’im, who is also the director-general of the Department of Syariah Judiciary Malaysia, filed the suit in his personal capacity, claiming that the defendant had defamed him by making statements through two live posts on the Facebook page “Lokman Noor Adam Official” on January 10 and January 13.

The plaintiff claimed that the defendant also uploaded the live broadcast on his YouTube page on January 10, and January 14 respectively, besides uploading three defamatory posts against him on Facebook on January 11 and January 13.

The plaintiff further claimed that the defamatory statements implied that he was a spiritual opportunist, had failed to be a credible leader or set a good example for the community, and tarnished the good image of the Syariah Judiciary Department.

Mohd Na’im claimed that the live broadcast and other posts had been spread to third parties, as the defendant’s Facebook and YouTube could be viewed and commented on by the general public.

“The defendant published the statement with the intent that it would be published domestically and internationally through the electronic media as well as print media,” the plaintiff claimed in the lawsuit.

According to the plaintiff, a police report was lodged on December 12 last year to deny the “Datin’s” allegations against him, and he had also lodged a police report against Lokman over his actions.

The plaintiff said a notice of claim dated January 13 was issued against the defendant to withdraw the defamatory statements and delete the posts on Facebook, besides making a public apology within 24 hours, but as of today, the defendant had ignored the police report and notice.

He claimed that the defamatory statements had tarnished his reputation, dignity, image and status in the eyes of the public.

Mohd Na’im is seeking an injunction for the defendant to delete the videos and the posts, as well as to prevent the defendant from republishing them, besides an apology from the defendant to be uploaded on social media.

Source: Malay Mail

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Crowd understood Khairy’s ‘homosexual’ remark against Anwar, says lawyer

V Anbalagan

January 17, 2022

PUTRAJAYA: Former Umno Youth leader Khairy Jamaluddin had defamed Anwar Ibrahim in front of a Malay crowd by depicting him as a homosexual and a person of low morals, the Court of Appeal heard.

Lawyer Gopal Sri Ram said Khairy’s “main belakang” statement was made before a Malay and Umno crowd during a ceramah at Lembah Pantai in 2008 and he was not addressing foreigners.

“Khairy was addressing a crowd who understood the context in which the reference against Anwar was made,” Sri Ram said in his submission before a three-member bench chaired by Lee Swee Seng.

Homosexuality went against the penal and Shariah laws, Sri Ram said.

In a statement of claim, Anwar said Khairy had uttered that the then opposition coalition, comprising PAS, DAP and PKR, “undergoes mutaah marriage as practised by the Shia sect. They marry at night and divorce the following day to legitimise a vice. PAS plays DAP from the left and DAP plays PAS from the right. Anwar plays both from the back.”

Sri Ram said that when the speech was made, Anwar had been acquitted of sodomising his former family driver, Azizan Abu Bakar, by the Federal Court in 2004.

“Khairy was accusing Anwar as a sodomite and guilty of the criminal offence,” he said.

He said Khairy was also addressing a Muslim crowd who belonged to the Shafiʽi sect and reference was made to the Shi’a sect who were regarded as a deviant group in this counry.

“He was attacking Anwar and the boisterous crowd was laughing when Anwar’s name was mentioned,” he said during a virtual proceeding.

He said the trial judge was aligned to the context and did not see the statements made in isolation.

Lawyer Muhammad Shafee Abdullah, appearing for Khairy, said the judge “over-analysed the statements from the perspective of a common man”.

He said Khairy’s statement was a metaphor to state Anwar was the “glue to bring the opposition together”.

“Anwar accepted this suggestion when he was cross-examined during the trial,” he said, adding that there were political and sexual connotations in these statements.

Shafee said Anwar did not bring any other witness apart from himself to support the claim that Khairy had defamed him.

He said there was nothing wrong for the Umno crowd, which he doubted, to laugh as Khairy was merely driving home the point that Anwar could not be trusted politically.

He also said Khairy could rely on the defence of justification that Anwar was a homosexual as the Federal Court gave such an opinion in 2004.

“We are relying on the defence of justification as an antidote in response to the defamation suit by the respondent (Anwar),” he said.

In September 2004, judges Abdul Hamid Mohamad and the late Tengku Baharuddin Shah Tengku Mahmud, in a majority ruling, allowed Anwar’s appeal, while Rahmah Hussain dissented.

The panel also allowed the appeal of Anwar’s adopted brother, Sukma Darmawan Sasmitaat Madja, who was jailed for six years for the same offence.

Source: Free Malaysia Today

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Indonesian security forces blasted over Papua abuses

Konradus Epa

January 19, 2022

Indonesia’s National Commission on Human Rights has called on the government to rein in security forces after recording hundreds of acts of violence committed by them against civilians in Papua over the last year. 

“Of 1,182 violent incidents recorded in the restive region, at least 480 or 41.3 percent were committed by security forces,” commission spokesman Mohammad Choirul Anam said.

He said security forces were involved in the shooting and torturing of civilians as well as the burning and destruction of schools and homes.

Anam also said at least 24 civilians had died as a result of violence committed by security forces and separatist rebels during this time.

The commission called on the government to ensure civilians in Papua are not persecuted by security forces that have been fighting an insurgency in the country’s easternmost region for decades and which has intensified in recent years. 

Theo Hesegem, executive director of the Papua Justice and Human Integrity Foundation, pointed to specific cases where civilians were killed by security forces.

“Surya Wenda was shot dead by police in Wamena district in 2021 for no apparent reason, while Reverend Yeremias Zanambani was shot dead by the military in 2020 in Intan Jaya district,” he said.

Source: UCA News

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Indonesian militant gets 15 years in jail over 2002 Bali bombings

JANUARY 19, 2022

Prosecutors say Zulkarnaen is the former military commander of Jemaah Islamiyah, a Southeast Asian militant group with ties to al-Qaeda

An Islamic militant who eluded capture for 18 years, was sentenced to 15 years in prison on Wednesday after an Indonesian court found him guilty of hiding information about the 2002 Bali bombings from authorities and harboring other suspects.

Prosecutors previously demanded a life sentence for Aris Sumarsono, 58, whose real name is Arif Sunarso but is better known as Zulkarnaen, for his role in the October 2002 Bali bombings that killed 202 people, mostly foreign tourists including 88 Australians and seven Americans.

However, the panel of three judges in East Jakarta District Court said they ignored the prosecutors' first charge because the prosecution period had expired, and they sentenced Zulkarnaen to 15 years in jail for harbouring other suspects, including bomb-maker Upik Lawanga, and for hiding information from authorities about the deadly attacks.

Indonesia's Criminal Code stipulates that the authority to prosecute criminals is abolished after 18 years.

“The accused is found guilty in a legal and convincing manner of carrying out an act of terrorism of third charge,” the presiding judge told the court in a session that was held remotely due to the pandemic, adding that Zulkarnaen knew about the terrorism attacks but “did not inform authorities; instead, he harboured a terror suspect.” Zulkarnaen has been detained since Dec. 10. The judges ordered that the time he has already served be deducted from his sentence.

Prosecutors said they would appeal to a higher court, while Zulkarnaen said he accepted the ruling and would not appeal.

Police and prosecutors say Zulkarnaen is the former military commander of Jemaah Islamiyah, a Southeast Asian militant group with ties to al-Qaeda. The group is widely blamed for the October 2002 nightclub bombings on the Indonesian resort island of Bali and attacks in the Philippines.

Zulkarnaen had eluded capture for 18 years after being named a suspect in the 2002 suicide bombings of Paddy's Pub and the Sari Club in Bali. He was arrested last year in the same southern town on Sumatra island where Lawanga, a bomb-maker for the Jemaah Islamiyah network who eluded capture for 16 years, was arrested by counterterrorism police a week earlier. Lawanga was sentenced to life in prison last month.

Police were tipped off to their hideout after interrogating several suspected militants arrested in earlier raids.

Zulkarnaen argued that although he was a leader of the network's military wing, he was not involved in the operation of the Bali bombings, as he was focused on organizing his squad for sectarian conflicts in Ambon and Poso and in the southern Philippines.

“I didn't even know when the Bali bombings would take place,” Zulkarnaen told the court in his plea last week.

During his trial, which began in September, other convicted militants in the 2002 Bali bombings, including Umar Patek and Ali Imron, who were sentenced to 20 years and life in jail, respectively, supported Zulkarnaen's claim, saying he knew about the plot but did not play a role in its operation.

Police previously said Zulkarnaen masterminded church attacks that occurred simultaneously in many Indonesian regions on Christmas and New Year's Eve in 2000 that killed more than 20 people. He was also the mastermind of a bomb attack on the official residence of the Philippine ambassador in Jakarta in 2000 that killed two people, and the architect of sectarian conflict in Ambon and Poso from 1998 to 2000.

Conflicts between Christians and Muslims in Ambon, the provincial capital of the Molluca islands, left more than 5,000 people dead and half a million displaced. The Muslim-Christian conflict in Poso, known as a hotbed of Islamic militancy on Indonesia's Sulawesi island, killed at least 1,000 people from 1998 to 2002.

Zulkarnaen was among the first Indonesian militants to go to Afghanistan in the 1980s for training. He later became an instructor at a military academy there for seven years, Indonesian police said.

Since May 2005, Zulkarnaen has been named on an al-Qaeda sanctions list by the U.N. Security Council for being associated with Osama bin Laden or the Taliban.

The Security Council said that Zulkarnaen, who became an expert in sabotage, was one of al-Qaida's representatives in Southeast Asia and one of the few people in Indonesia who had had direct contact with bin Laden's network.

It said that Zulkarnaen led a squad of fighters known as the Laskar Khos, or Special Force, whose members were recruited from among some 300 Indonesians who trained in Afghanistan and the Philippines.

Source: The Hindu

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Commander: Iran Ready to Supply Neighbouring, Friendly States with Military Technologies


The Islamic Republic stands ready to provide advanced scientific and military technologies to friendly and neighborly states, Rear Admiral Sayyari said on Tuesday, addressing a meeting with foreign military attachés residing in Iran.

He added that Iran had achieved self-sufficiency and scientific capabilities in the field of military power and manufacturing state-of-the-art weaponry.

“Besides progressive relations with various countries, Iran is engaged in military cooperation with some of them and is interested in sharing its advanced scientific and military technologies with other friendly and neighboring countries as well,” Rear Admiral Sayyari said.

He said the neighboring countries, in turn, need to understand the nature of Iran’s power because “regional stability and security will be established based on mutual strength and interactions”.

Rear Admiral Sayyari also said Iran was facing problems in establishing ties with some of its neighbors since it has been under the “most oppressive and harsh” sanctions in the history of international relation.

“We believe, however, that these problems can be solved through interactions and dialog and there is no need for any help from foreign powers,” he added. “Deeper neighborly ties will bring greater economic benefits to the West Asia region.”

The Islamic Republic has always supported regional nations, has never violated their rights, and has recognized independence of all countries, Rear Admiral Sayyari said.

The senior commander reiterated Iran’s friendly and brotherly policy towards its neighbors, adding that the Islamic Republic had never have a greedy eye on any country and believed based on Islamic teachings that common interests and regional and collective security could be achieved without the presence of trans-regional states.

Former Iranian Defense Minister Brigadier General Amir Hatami in a meeting with his Iraqi counterpart General Juma Anad Saadoun in Tehran in November 2021 underlined his country’s preparedness to supply the Armed Forces in Iraq with needed weapons and military equipment.

“Thanks to its abundant capacities and infrastructures which are the fruits of the cruel sanctions era after the victory of the Islamic Revolution, the Islamic Republic of Iran’s defense ministry is ready to provide the Iraqi Armed Forces’ needs to strengthen Iraq’s defense power,” General Hatami said in the meeting.

General Hatami also said that the Iranian and Iraqi nations as well as the resistance front will never forget the blood of martyred anti-terror commander Lieutenant General Qassem Soleimani and Deputy Commander of Iraq's Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF) Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis who were assassinated by the US in Iraq in January.

Saadoun, for his part, stressed Iraq’s willingness to use Iran’s valuable experiences in the defense field, appreciating the country for its assistance to Iraq in fighting against the ISIL and other terrorist groups by playing military advisory role and supplying weapons.

Also in the same month, Iranian Army Airborne Commander General Yousef Qorbani announced that the Iraqi Army has demanded Iran to sell and mount its indigenous night vision systems on the Arab country’s helicopters.

Source: Fars News Agency

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Iran Underlines Need to End War in Yemen


“Siege and military attacks cannot resolve the Yemen crisis, rather expanding the scope of tensions in the region,” Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh said on Tuesday.

Iran has invariably backed initiatives that are based on political solutions for ending the blockade and war against Yemen and supported the courses of action that could end intervention in Yemen’s domestic affairs and enable preservation of its territorial integrity, he said.

“The Islamic Republic has always insisted that the solution to none of the region’s crises rests in seeking recourse to warfare and violence,” Khatibzadeh said, noting that regional peace and stability could only come about through the establishment of calm and avoidance of tension.

In a relevant development late last week, Senior Assistant to the Iranian Foreign Minister for Special Political Affairs Ali Asqar Khaji and UN Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for Yemen Hans Grunberg discussed ways to resolve the crisis in the war-hit country.

During the phone conversation on Sunday, Khaji sadi that the people of Yemen will make the final decision on their country's future, adding that the lifting of the oppressive blockade could trigger a political settlement in the country.

He referred to the UN key role in resolving the Yemen crisis, saying that lack of trust exists in the negotiations progress.

“Rebuilding trust should be accompanied by taking practical measures, specially in the field of humanitarian affairs,” Khaji said.

Grunberg, for his part, said that the UN is currently assessing different points of view and seeks to take into account the concerns of various Yemeni groups in its future plans while advancing its short-term priorities in accordance with the long-term goals.

Leading several of its allies, Saudi Arabia started the war on the Arab world’s already poorest nation in March 2015 to change the country’s ruling structure in favor of its former Riyadh-allied government.

The war has stopped short of the goal, while killing tens of thousands of Yemenis in the process and turning the entire country into the scene of the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.

Source: Fars News Agency

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Participants in Vienna Talks Working on 4 Texts


Iran and the Group4+1 (Russia, China, Britain and France plus Germany) are currently working on four texts, one of which is called "decision text" and the other three are annexes that deal with the implementation of possible agreement.

Iran and the G4+1 negotiators are currently working on four texts, the main text of which is called "decision draft" that contains the key areas to agree on in principle.

The third working group on implementation (sequencing) is also writing the main draft.

The main draft has three annexes, the first of which deals with the removal of sanctions and details the US lifting of sanctions against Iran. This draft is also being written by the working group that is working on the removal of sanctions.

This text has three components, the first of which deals with the removal of sanctions and explains in detail the obligations of the US to lift sanctions against Iran. This draft is also being written by the working group on the lifting of sanctions

The second draft is related to Iran’s nuclear commitments and the halt to the remedial measures taken after the illegal US withdrawal from the JCPOA in 2018. The working group that is formed by parties to work on nuclear issues is in charge of writing the related draft.

Moreover, the third draft also refers to implementation of the commitments by different parties and the measures that need to be taken by them to implement the agreement.

The third working group on implementation (sequencing) is working on drafting this document as well.

In relevant remarks on Tuesday, senior political and foreign policy analyst Seyed Mostafa Khoshcheshm said that Iran is after different types of assurances from the US and the EU in the talks underway in Vienna in a bid to ensure the merits of the nuclear deal, adding that the requested insurance program entails nuclear, trade, legal and political guarantees.

Reflecting to a report released in the Wall Street Journal titled ‘Iran demands legal pledge that the US will not quit nuclear deal again’, the senior analyst, who is close to the Iranian team of negotiators in Vienna talks, said the Obama and Trump administrations have taught Iran that it needs to foresee a complex plan to ensure that any US cheating in future won't harm Iran's merits under the nuclear deal and won't cost Iran direly, if it ever gets back to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, of course.

Noting these assurances in a tweet, he said Iran intends to keep its enriched uranium stockpile excessive to the maximum ceiling enshrined in the JCPOA as well as its advanced centrifuge machines under the IAEA seal, but without dismantling or destroying them, so that if the US violates the deal again, it won't sustain much of a loss again (like the last time the JCPOA went into force and then discarded by the US) and could resume nuclear operations immediately under such circumstances.

A second guarantee pertains to US insurance to all trade firms and companies that they can continue business with Iran for years without being punished no matter the US remain under the deal or not, Khoshcheshm wrote on his twitter page on Tuesday.

He further pointed out that Iran has also requested the US and the EU to provide it with legal and political assurances as part of guarantees to lower the chances for a US cheating, though he stressed that the US record of actions displays that Washington is no trustworthy partner to any deal.

Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh said on Monday that certain important issues have still remained unresolved in Vienna talks between Tehran and the world powers and their solution requires Washington's political resolve and decision-making.

What remained in negotiations are key issues that require the adoption of specific political decisions, specially by the US, Khatibzadeh told reporters in his weekly press conference in Tehran.

Regarding the latest situation of Vienna talks, he said that the chief negotiators of the delegations have returned to their capitals for a break for more consultations.

What remained in negotiations are key issues that may require special political decisions by the US in particular in order to announce their decisions on the removal of sanctions and remaining issues that some of which are serious, Khatibzadeh added.

Khatibzadeh dismissed Washington’s attempts to set a deadline for the Vienna negotiations to bear fruit, calling it "fabricated".

He said the US would better focus on its Plan A rather than threatening Iran with a Plan B. Days earlier, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken had said there were only “a few weeks left” to save the 2015 deal, officially called the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).

“We’re very, very short on time,” because “Iran is getting closer and closer to the point where they could produce on very, very short order enough fissile material for a nuclear weapon,” Blinken claimed.

He added that the US is “looking at other steps, other options” – often seen as a military threat – with allies including in Europe and the Middle East.

In response, Khatibzadeh said a Plan B is “not appealing for any country”.

“Blinken knows better than anyone that every country has a B Plan for itself and that Iran’s Plan B may not be very appealing to them. They need to make every effort to show that they have the necessary will and capacity for a Plan A,” he remarked.

Khatibzadeh said that in the draft texts, “many of the tables and columns are ready and some of the parentheses were omitted”, adding that the negotiators have reached agreements on most ideas, which are currently being turned into written words.

He also urged the US to stop what he termed as its “bullying behavior” and fulfill its international obligations instead. “Significant disagreements remain in Vienna, and the most important one is the insufficient speed of the other sides, especially the United States,” Khatibzadeh said. He added that great progress has also been made “on technical issues, but on the issue of sanctions removal, talks have been subject to political decisions that have been delayed on the other side”.

Iran and the remaining parties to the JCPOA – Russia, China, France, Britain, and Germany – have been holding talks in the Austrian capital since April last year. The focus of the talks has been on the removal of all sanctions that the United States re-imposed on Iran following its withdrawal from the deal.

On Friday evening, the eighth round of the Vienna talks was paused so that the negotiators could return to their respective capitals for consultations. They are expected to return to the negotiating table after two days.

Throughout the talks, Tehran has made clear that the US, as the only country that has left the JCPOA, is responsible for the status quo, and therefore, it needs to take the initial step by removing all of the sanctions that it imposed after withdrawing from the deal in May 2018.

The Islamic Republic has also criticized the US and its European allies for paying lip service to safeguarding Iran’s economic dividends, as foreseen in the JCPOA, and for their unconstructive attitude during the Vienna talks.

On Friday, Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir Abdollahian noted a “contradiction” in the Western parties’ conduct, saying that reaching a “good agreement in the shortest time possible” would only depend on them.

“The conduct of Westerners compared to their statements that they are concerned and are in a hurry shows that there is a contradiction in their behaviors and remarks,” Amir Abdollahian said on Friday, while on a high-profile visit to China.

“I would like to loudly declare that the Islamic Republic of Iran welcomes reaching a good agreement as soon as possible, but this would depend on the Western side,” he added.

Amir Abdollahian had also in November in a phone conversation with his German counterpart Heiko Maas blamed Washington for the problems and non-implementation of the nuclear deal.

The US government is the main culprit in creating current situation in JCPOA-related issues, Amir Abdollahian said during the phone talks initiated by Maas.

The US government's withdrawal from the JCPOA in May 2018 and the inaction of three European countries involved in nuclear talks, including Britain, France and Germany, has increased distrust significantly, he added.

Source: Fars News Agency

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Iran, Iraq Agree to Set Up Joint Arbitration Centre


The agreement was signed between Head of Iran Chamber of Commerce, Industries, Mines, and Agriculture (ICCIMA) Gholamhossein Shafeyee and his Iraqi counterpart Abdul Razzaq al-Zuhairi in Baghdad on Tuesday.

The two sides signed the agreement during a joint business forum with participation of private sector leaders from both countries.

A high-ranking delegation of Iranian private sector led by Iran Chamber chief arrived in Iraq on Sunday.

On the first day of their stay in Iraq, the Iranian delegation paid a visit to Iraq Federation of Industries where Iran Chamber Chief said Iraq is more than a trade partner for Iran.

Source: Fars News Agency

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Turkish envoy meets Libyan parliament speaker Aguila Saleh


Turkiye's envoy to Libya met on Wednesday with the Libyan parliament speaker Aguila Saleh in his hometown of al-Qubah.

Speaking to Anadolu Agency after the meeting, Ambassador Kenan Yilmaz said he visited the eastern city after receiving an invitation from Saleh, confirming that the visit was fruitful.

"During the meeting, we expressed our willingness, when conditions are suitable, to reopen our consulate-general in Benghazi, to evaluate the resumption of the Turkish Airlines' flights to Benghazi and to encourage our companies to complete their unfinished projects, as well as implementing new ones," said Yilmaz.

He also said he plans to soon visit Benghazi, stressing the importance of achieving Libya's national reconciliation and hold elections based on a consensus among Libyan parties.

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said in December that Turkiye does not differentiate between the west and the east of Libya and that Yilmaz would visit eastern Libya to meet with officials.

In 2014, Turkiye closed its consulate in Benghazi under security tension following an offensive by warlord Khalifa Haftar to take Libya under his control. Haftar failed in those attempts and retreated to eastern Libya.

Source: Anadolu Agency

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US envoy set to visit Gulf for Yemen peace talks

Mohammad al-Rajawi



US special envoy for Yemen Tim Lenderking will set out on a Gulf tour this week in an effort to revive peace talks in war-torn Yemen.

Lenderking will meet with senior regional government officials and other international partners to press parties involved in the Yemeni conflict to “de-escalate militarily” and to engage in "an inclusive UN-led peace process," the US Department of State said in a statement.

The US envoy will also focus on the “urgent need to mitigate the dire humanitarian and economic crises facing Yemenis,” it added.

The statement called on the parties to the Yemeni conflict to "take steps to improve humanitarian access and address Yemen's fuel crisis."

On Wednesday, the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen said it had killed 90 Houthi rebels in attacks in Yemen over the past 24 hours. Houthi rebels, meanwhile, shelled the energy-rich Shabwa province, killing at least three people.

Yemen has been engulfed by violence and instability since 2014, when Iran-aligned Houthis captured much of the country, including the capital Sanaa.

Source: Anadolu Agency

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3 civilians killed in rebel shelling in Yemen’s Shabwa

Shukri Hussein 


SANAA, Yemen

Three Yemeni civilians were killed on Wednesday in Houthi rebel shelling in energy-rich Shabwa province, according to eyewitnesses.

The attack targeted a fuel station in Ain district, leaving several vehicles in flames, a witness told Anadolu Agency on condition of anonymity.

Nine other people were injured in the attack.

There was no comment from the Yemeni government on the attack.

Last week, the Yemeni army announced liberating several districts in Shabwa from Houthi rebels.

Yemen has been engulfed by violence and instability since 2014, when Iran-aligned Houthis captured much of the country, including the capital Sanaa.

Source: Anadolu Agency

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Hajj: We are working to ensure ban on Nigeria is lifted – NAHCON to Muslims

January 19, 2022

By John Owen Nwachukwu

The National Hajj Commission of Nigeria, HAHCON, said it has begun the process to ensure that Muslims preparing for the Lesser Hajj in Saudi Arabia are lifted to the country at the pointed time.

Recall that the Saudi Arabian General Authority for Civil Aviation, GACA, had on the 8th of December 2021, announced the suspension of flights from Nigeria to Saudi Arabia.

Though no reason(s) was given in the circular, it may not be unconnected with the manifestation of the COVID-19 omicron variant in Nigeria.

NAHCON is the Commission responsible for facilitating Hajj and Umrah journeys from Nigeria to Saudi Arabia.

The Commission said it has immediately engaged networking strategies with sister agencies for the purpose of convincing the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to end Nigeria’s flight suspension into its territory.

A statement to DAILY POST from the Commission said, ” In accordance with the strategy, NAHCON Chairman, Alhaji Zikrullah Kunle Hassan, on Monday paid a follow-up visit to the Nigerian Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Amb. Zubairu Dada in his office.

The meeting, according to the Commission, was to consolidate the initiatives already deployed by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs towards ending the impasse.

NAHCON Chairman commended the Ministry for its consistent push for an inroad into the matter considering that many Muslims have paid for the ongoing Umrah pilgrimage and traditionally, the numbers rise during Ramadan lesser Hajj.

The Chairman expressed hope that the suspension would be lifted in time to enable Nigerians participate in the 2022 Hajj if it would be open for foreign pilgrims.

Furthermore, Hassan lauded the efforts of the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 towards curtailing the spread of the virus, which has led to the conviction of other countries that had hitherto banned Nigeria and some Southern African countries for similar reasons to rescind their decision.

Source: Daily Post Nigeria

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Tunisian police killed man in first death of protests, activists say

19 January ,2022

A Tunisian man died in hospital on Wednesday from injuries inflicted by police, activists said, in what would be the first death from protests against President Kais Saied's assumption of extra powers.

Local radio station Mosaique FM said the public prosecutor was investigating the death after police deployed water cannons and batons against protesters on Friday.

But there was no immediate comment from authorities.

Saied is facing growing discontent over his suspension of parliament last July and subsequent rule by decree.

“Ridha Bouziane, who took part in the January 14 protest died in a hospital in the capital after suffering serious injuries as a result of the excessive violence by police in the demonstration,” the Citizens Against the Coup coalition said.

Source: Al Arabiya

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UN chief cites ‘demonstrable effort’ at peace in Ethiopia

19 January ,2022

The United Nations secretary-general said Wednesday he was delighted to hear “there is now a demonstrable effort to make peace” in Ethiopia after more than 14 months of war, but he gave no details.

Antonio Guterres’ statement on Wednesday came after a call with African Union envoy Olusegun Obasanjo following the envoy’s latest visit to Addis Ababa and the capital of Ethiopia’s embattled Tigray region.

Guterres said Obasanjo “expressed optimism that there is now a real opportunity for political and diplomatic resolution of the conflict.” His statement did not describe efforts by Ethiopia’s government and the rival Tigray forces, and Obasanjo’s spokesman didn’t immediately respond to questions.

A new US envoy for the Horn of Africa, Ambassador David Satterfield, is set to meet with Ethiopian officials on Thursday.

Ethiopia's war has killed an estimated tens of thousands of people and displaced millions. The United States says some 900,000 people in Tigray, which has been under an Ethiopian government blockade since late June, face famine conditions.

The World Health Organization says medical supplies have not been allowed into the region of some 6 million people.

Despite his mention of optimism, the UN chief also warned that “ongoing military operations in some parts of Ethiopia remain a challenge to the peace process and sour the confidence-building measures that we hope are being taken by all parties in the conflict.”

Other combatants include soldiers from neighboring Eritrea who are allied with Ethiopian forces and blamed by witnesses for some of the worst atrocities in the war, as well as fighters from Ethiopia’s Amhara region who now occupy western Tigray.

Guterres called on all parties “to move rapidly towards cessation of hostilities,” and he said the U.N. watches the African Union-led mediation efforts with great hope.

Source: Al Arabiya

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Bashir-era detainees end hunger strike in Sudan

Talal Ismael  



Former officials of ousted Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir’s regime ended their hunger strike on Wednesday, according to a defense lawyer.

“The detainees ended their hunger strike after they were referred to court,” Ahmed Senussi said in a statement.

A dozen of Bashir-era officials, including Ibrahim Ghandour, the head of Sudan’s former ruling party, went on hunger strike last week in protest of their detention without trial.

Senussi said prosecutors accused the detainees of forming terrorist groups and undermining constitutional order.

He said the court set January 23 for holding the first session of their trial.

Families of the detainees also confirmed in a statement that they had ended their hunger strike.

Source: Anadolu Agency

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Ethiopian Orthodox Christians celebrate Epiphany

Seleshi Tessema 



Clad in all-white traditional Ethiopian dress, thousands of Ethiopian Orthodox Christians Wednesday beat drums and sang religious songs to celebrate Epiphany in the capital Addis Ababa.

Inscribed by UNESCO in 2019 as one of the world’s highly valued intangible cultural heritage, Ethiopia’s commemoration of the baptism of Jesus is a two-day religious and cultural extravaganza that began on Monday afternoon and was marked throughout the country.

Orthodox Christians, who constitute 43% of Ethiopia's estimated 120 million population, accompanied the priests who carried the Holy Tablets (replicas of the Ark of Covenant) of the city’s 80 churches to designated public spaces in various parts of the capital.

However, Wednesday’s main celebration took place at the city’s open-air Jan Meda sports venue under heavy police presence.

A notable absentee at this year’s celebration is the Patriarch of Ethiopian Orthodox Church (EOC) Abune Mathias who fell ill.

The priests sprinkled the holy water on the participants.

Bishop Melke Tsadik said that Epiphany is an embodiment of a belief and a culture of unity and togetherness.

“We shall maintain the originality of the celebration and peace and unity of Ethiopia,” he added.

Ayele Neguse, who participated in the celebration, told Anadolu Agency that this year’s colorful commemoration of the baptism of Jesus will help elevate our spirits depressed by the war.

Source: Anadolu Agency

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At least 220 killed this year in attacks in Nigerian state

Adam Abu-bashal  


ABUJA, Nigeria

At least 220 people have been killed in attacks on communities in Nigeria’s Niger state since the start of this year, the state’s governor announced late Tuesday.

Abubakar Sani Bello revealed the information to reporters after meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari at the State House in the capital Abuja.

More than 50 attacks were carried out in the state from Jan. 1-17, said Bello.

He noted that more than 200 people were also kidnapped during the period, including three Chinese nationals.

Bello suggested that the gunmen were operating not only in Niger state but also in the states near it.

Source: Anadolu Agency

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US considering re-designating Iran-backed Houthis as a terror group, Biden says

19 January ,2022

President Joe Biden revealed Wednesday that the US was considering re-designating the Iran-backed Houthis as a terror organization, as the UAE and other countries ramped up pressure to make the move.

Asked about US efforts to end the war in Yemen, Biden said it would be difficult. “Ending the war in Yemen takes the two parties to be involved to do; it’s going to be very difficult,” he said in response to a question from Al Arabiya.

UAE Ambassador to the US Yousef Al Otaiba had earlier called on the White House and US lawmakers to support the re-designation, days after a deadly attack by the Iran-backed group killed civilians in Abu Dhabi.

Abu Dhabi was targeted on Monday when drone and missile attacks resulted in the explosion of three fuel tankers. Three people were killed and six others were wounded.

Another fire broke out in the area of the new construction site of the Abu Dhabi International Airport.

“In comments earlier today, Amb Al Otaiba described the Houthi terrorist attacks against civilian sites in the UAE that killed 3 innocent civilians. He called on the Administration and Congress to support re-designating the Houthi terrorist organization as an FTO,” a tweet from the UAE Embassy in the US read.

Al Otaiba also said that he would join Ali Al Shamsi, the UAE Director of National Intelligence, for meetings with officials from the White House and Congress in Washington later in the day.

Washington’s renewed diplomatic efforts came after the election of Biden last year; however, one of his first foreign policy moves saw the Houthis removed from the terror blacklist. Additionally, the Biden administration lifted senior Houthi officials’ names off the Specially Designated Global Terrorist (SDGT) list.

Separately, US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin discussed the recent Houthi attacks on the UAE with Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan.

Source: Al Arabiya

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Biden says ‘not time to give up’ on Iran nuclear talks

20 January ,2022

US President Joe Biden said Wednesday that it is “not time to give up” on talks with Iran aimed at reviving the 2015 nuclear deal.

“It's not time to give up,” Biden said at a press conference to mark his first year in the White House.

“There is some progress being made,” he said.

“P5+1 are on the same page but it remains to be seen,” Biden said in a reference to the nations taking part in the negotiations in Vienna.

Talks to restore the 2015 accord between Tehran and world powers -- US, France, Britain, Russia, China, and Germany -- began last year but stopped in June as Iran elected ultraconservative President Ebrahim Raisi.

The talks resumed in November.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said last week that there were only “a few weeks left” to save the Iran nuclear deal, and the US is ready to look at “other options” if the talks fail.

Source: Al Arabiya

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Iranian-American arrested in US for trying to illegally export technology to Iran

19 January ,2022

A dual Iranian-US citizen was arrested on Friday in Chicago for allegedly trying to illegally export US technology to Iran’s government, the US Department of Justice said on Tuesday.

“Kambiz Attar Kashani, 44, conspired to illegally export goods and technology to the Central Bank of Iran (CBI), which the US government recognizes is an agency of the government of Iran,” the Department of Justice said in a statement.

The US prohibits the sale of goods and services to the CBI on the grounds that it cooperates with terrorist organizations, including Iran’s Quds Force and Lebanon’s Iran-backed Hezbollah.

“Kashani repeatedly lied to numerous US companies to conceal his intention to ship items to Iran, allowing him to illegally obtain information technology for use by the CBI and other Iranian entities,” the statement said.

“Technology illegally transferred to Iran from the United States could be used by terrorists … Those doing the bidding for Iran in the United States should expect the full force of our law enforcement and Intelligence Community partners,” said Assistant Director Alan E. Kohler Jr. of the FBI's Counterintelligence Division.

Source: Al Arabiya

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UN demands Israel end displacements after eviction of Palestinian family

Servet Gunerigok  



UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process Tor Wennesland demanded Wednesday that Israeli authorities end the displacement of Palestinians in occupied East Jerusalem.

Wennesland's call at UN Security Council briefing came after Israeli forces demolished a Palestinian’s home earlier Wednesday that is at the center of an anti-expulsion campaign in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood.

Israeli police went to the home of the Salhiyeh family before dawn and assaulted several occupants, Walid Tayeh, the family’s lawyer, told Anadolu Agency.

Wennesland voiced concern about the potential evictions of more Palestinian families from their homes in the Sheikh Jarrah and Silwan neighborhoods, which he said would prompt violence.

"I call on Israeli authorities to end the displacement and eviction of Palestinians, in line with its obligations under international law, and to approve additional plans that would enable Palestinian communities to build legally and address their development needs," said Wennesland.

Israeli police said it enforced a court-approved eviction order of what it called "illegal buildings built on grounds designated for a school."

Source: Anadolu Agency

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US defence department releases first video of botched Kabul airstrike

January 20, 2022

WASHINGTON: The Pentagon has declassified and publicly released video footage of a US drone strike in Kabul that killed 10 civilians in the final hours of a chaotic American withdrawal that ended a 20-year war in Afghanistan.

The New York Times obtained the footage through a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit against US Central Command, which then posted the imagery to its website. It marks the first public release of video footage of the Aug. 29 strike, which the Pentagon initially defended but later called a tragic mistake.

The videos include about 25 minutes of footage from what the Times reported were two MQ-9 Reaper drones, showing the scene of the strike prior to, during and after a missile struck a civilian car in a courtyard on a residential street. Indistinct images show individuals moving in or near the attack zone.

The military has said it struck what it thought was an extremist with the Daesh group’s Afghanistan affiliate who might imminently detonate a bomb near the Kabul airport, where a hurried evacuation was still under way.

Source: Arab News

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