New Age Islam
Thu Dec 03 2020, 02:46 AM

Islamic World News ( 20 Jun 2016, NewAgeIslam.Com)

Pakistan Gives $2.8 Million to ‘University of Jihad’

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Photo: 300 million Pakistani rupees have been awarded to a madrassa attended by several leading terrorist figures , including a prominent Taliban leader.

 

Bangladesh: Hezb-e-Islami Issues New Impossible-To-Meet Demands for Peace Agreement

50 Saudis Detained Over Haircuts, Necklaces and Other Adornments Considered Un-Islamic

RSS Wants Muslims to Call Hindu Neighbours for Iftar This Ramzan

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Pakistan

Pakistan Gives $2.8 Million to ‘University of Jihad’

Police Suspect Kidnapping of SHC CJ’s Son Bargaining Chip for Militants’ Release

Pak. unanswerable when asked about Gilgit-Baltistan’s legal status: Abid Minto

Pakistan only hurdle to Indian ‘hegemony’ in South Asia: Sartaj Aziz

‘Sindh Assembly has performed better than other provincial assemblies’

Govt has failed Islamabad: opposition

Former Leaguer’s bail case: Withdrawal of rape charge unfortunate: LHC

Banking channel to facilitate trade with China: Dastgir

39pc of Pakistanis live in poverty; Fata, Balochistan worst hit

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South Asia

Bangladesh: Hezb-e-Islami Issues New Impossible-To-Meet Demands for Peace Agreement

Anti-Terror Fatwa Endorsed by 100,000 Bangladeshi Islamic Scholars

Sartaj: Afghanistan Should Offer Taliban Something They Can’t Gain On Battlefield

Arakanese and Rohingya Criticize New Govt Term for Muslims 

Taliban kidnap scores of passengers from Helmand province

3,657 Afghan refugees returned from European countries in 2016: Officials

ISIS in Afghanistan claims attacks on Canadian Embassy guards in Kabul

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Arab World

Syria's Aleppo 'Regime of Silence' Broken by Al-Nusra Front Shelling

Several Non-Syrian Terrorists Killed in Bomb Explosion in Idlib

Aleppo: Syrian Democratic Forces Fend off ISIL Offensives near Manbij

ISIL Intensifying Security Measures in Raqqa

Syrian Army Explodes Tunnel under Terrorist Positions East of Damascus

Saudi Arabia Violates Truce Agreement in Yemen

Terrorists Fail to Penetrate into Syrian Army Positions Southwest of Damascus

ISIL on Alert in Deir Ezzur after Increased Offensives of Syrian Army

Iraqi Army Kills ISIL Security Service Head in Anbar Province

Stripping Sheikh Qassim of Citizenship to Pour Oil to Bahrain Revolution

Leader Urges Poets to Publicize US' Disloyalty to JCPOA

Iran Condemns Manama Regime for Stripping Senior Cleric of Citizenship Rights

Iranian Speaker Raps Bahraini Rulers for Revoking Sheikh Qassim of Citizenship

International Yoga Day: Yoga In Unexpected Places Like Qatar

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India

RSS Wants Muslims to Call Hindu Neighbours For Iftar This Ramzan

Islamic State Kills 14 in Afghanistan: Two Indian Nationals among Victims

Yoga No Religious Activity, its A Global Mass Movement: PMModi

Delhi: The RSS Has Invited Ambassadors from Nearly 140 Countries to Attend an Iftar Party At Parliament House Annexe On July 2, As Per A Media Report

Rajnath Singh offers Chadar & attends Iftar Party

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Mideast

CHP’s Refugee Report Reveals Widespread Child Abuse, Child Labour in Turkey

Erdoğan Condemns ‘Both Sides’ Over Istanbul Record Store Attack

Israel, Turkey may strike deal on June 26

In-house fight at MHP enters new legal dispute

Hürriyet’s New York correspondent detained by police in Istanbul released

Minibus Loaded With 1 Ton of Explosives Found In Southeast of Turkey

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Europe

The Next E.U. President Says Islam Has ‘No Place’ In His Country

First Islamophobia summit to be held in Europe

App to find mosque, Halal food outlets launched for Muslims in Europe

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North America

Anti-Muslim Rhetoric Deeply Damaging to America’s Security, Status

Local Muslim Americans respond to Donald Trump's continued calls for profiling of Muslim Americans

During siege, Orlando gunman told police he was 'Islamic soldier'

US: Illinois measure would create advisory council for Muslims

America 'hamstrung' by kid-glove treatment of terror

‘Disgraced’ Gripping Look at Muslim Assimilation in America

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Africa

Uganda Witness for Muslim Cleric Murder 'Castrated'

Non-Fasting Muslims Arrested In Northern Nigeria

Three dead as gunfire erupts in C. Africa capital

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Southeast Asia

Indonesia’s Blind Eye to Abusive Sharia Bylaws

Journalist Couple Attacked in Makassar, Indonesia        

Ban on Muslim lawyers network sought

A spicy Indonesian Iftar during Ramadan

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau

URL: http://newageislam.com/islamic-world-news/new-age-islam-news-bureau/pakistan-gives-$28-million-to-‘university-of-jihad’/d/107718

 

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Pakistan Gives $2.8 Million to ‘University of Jihad’

June 21, 2016

The regional government of the Khyber-Pakhtunwa province in Pakistan has awarded 300 million rupees ($2.86 million) to a madrassa with ties to the Taliban.

According to the Times of India, the Darul Uloom Haqqania Nowshera madrassa is known as the "University of Jihad" and counts the late Taliban leader Mullah Omar amongst its alumni. Also attending the madrassa were Haqqani Network founder Jalaluddin Haqqani, Al-Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent leader Asim Umar and the late Afghan Taliban chief Mullah Akhtar Mansoor.

"I am proudly announcing that Darul Uloom Haqqania Nowshera will get Rs 300 million to meet its annual expenditures," Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa Minister Shah Farman told the provincial Assembly.

150 million will be given this year, with a further 150 next year. "Darul Uloom Haqqania is one of the oldest and largest seminaries of Pakistan and it deserves financial assistance," said Minister for Religious Affairs Habibur Rehman, who is a member of the Islamist group Jamaat e-Islami.

clarionproject.org/news/pakistan-gives-28-million-%E2%80%98university-jihad%E2%80%99

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Bangladesh: Hezb-e-Islami issues new impossible-to-meet demands for peace agreement

Tue Jun 21 2016

The Hezb-e-Islami party led by Gulbuddin Hekmatyar has reportedly issued new impossible-to-meet demands to sign a peace agreement with the Afghan government.

An official privy to the development has told The Associated Press that the new demands include cancellation of pacts with the United States, a timetable for the withdrawal of foreign troops and that it be signed by a new government.

A member of Hezb-e-Islami negotiating team has said the demands were made in a letter to President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani.

Earlier, Hekmatyar said he has changed his conditions for peace process with the Afghan government by stepping back from his demands for the complete withdrawal of foreign forces.

Hekmatyar was originally demanding the complete withdrawal of the foreign forces from Afghanistan before officials talks begun between his party and the Afghan government.

This comes as the Afghan government has signed the draft peace agreement with Hezb-e-Islami in mid-May amid hopes that the agreement would be signed by Hekmatyar in the near future.

Deputy Chief Executive Mohammad Khan said last month that the party has agreed to have no links with the anti-government armed militant groups, insisting that Hekmatyar’s only demand is to remove his name from the international blacklist.

khaama.com/hezb-e-islami-issues-new-impossible-to-meet-demands-for-peace-agreement-01315

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50 Saudis Detained Over Haircuts, Necklaces and Other Adornments Considered Un-Islamic

AFP, 21 June 2016

RIYADH: Fifty young men have been arrested in Saudi Arabia for haircuts, necklaces and other adornments considered un-Islamic.

The suspects were detained during a Ramazan crackdown in Makkah, according to Saudi news website Sabq.

"They were handed over to the department of criminal investigations," said Sabq, which accompanied investigators during their visits to shopping areas in the city.

Officers noticed "a number of offences like strange haircuts, chains that are hung upon the chest or arms, head wraps and short clothes and immodest ones for both men and women", reported Sabq, which is close to the authorities.

The law enforcement team, which included women, advised citizens against "habits and traditions that are against religious teachings".

Saudi Arabia, an absolute Islamic monarchy, is a highly conservative country.

Women dress from head to toe in black and are not allowed to drive or mingle with unrelated men.

But more than half of Saudi citizens are under the age of 25, an Internet-savvy generation that spends much of its life online away from official strictures.

One of the kingdom's most powerful figures, Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, 30, is leading the Vision 2030 reform drive to diversify the economy and also bring social change.

The plan calls for more entertainment, cultural and sports opportunities.

In April, cabinet stripped the frequently criticised religious police of their powers to arrest.

Members of the Haia force, among whose duties was to monitor people's dress, can now only offer advice.

They must report violators to regular police officers for followup.

dawn.com/news/1266286/50-saudis-detained-over-un-islamic-necklaces-haircuts

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RSS wants Muslims to call Hindu neighbours for Iftar this Ramzan

June 21, 2016

The Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) wants Muslims to embrace Hindus on Eid and Ramzan. The Muslim Rashtriya Manch (MRM), an RSS-backed minority organisation patronised by Sangh pracharak Indresh Kumar, has appealed the community to take a collective vow with their Hindu neighbours not to let communal strife start from their locality.

According to Kumar, the Manch has requested the Muslims of India as well as the world to commemorate the holy month of Ramzan and Eid by a communal iftar.

BONDS OF HARMONY

The community has been requested to celebrate the festival on a locality level where Hindus too can be invited to iftar parties. It is here that the two communities should take a collective vow that irrespective of what happens in any part of India, they will not fight amongst themselves and will not let their locality become a flashpoint of violence.

"Muslims must try to convene iftar at the most local level of 'galis' and 'mohallas' or at the colony level where people from all religions and castes and parties can participate. At the time of breaking the fast, all must take a vow that irrespective of what is going on in the world or India, they will make their locality riot-free because charity begins at home," Kumar told

Moreover, the RSS wants all Muslims to plant tulsi (Myrtle or sweet basil) in their houses during the holy month of Ramzan. The MRM claimed that the plant finds an exalted place not just in Hinduism, but also in Islam.

"We want all Muslim families to plant a tree outside their house and a tulsi plant inside. We have done this to tackle environmental pollution. Moreover, tulsi plant has been called 'Reyhan' (also Rehaan) or the plant of 'Jannat' (heaven) in the Arabic language," said Kumar. The third commitment that Muslims are expected to keep is that the concept of zakat or charity must be widened to include the "last person in the line" irrespective of his/her religious or group identity.

"The last person in the social ladder must be the aim of zakat. We appeal to all our Muslim brethren to help at least one poor person to celebrate Eid properly this year by way of their charity. The poor must not feel that they cannot celebrate Eid and cannot become a part of this collective happiness," Kumar said.

indiatoday.intoday.in/story/rss-asks-muslims-to-plant-tulsi-in-their-houses-this-ramzan/1/696190.html

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Pakistan

Pakistan Gives $2.8 Million to ‘University of Jihad’

June 21, 2016

The regional government of the Khyber-Pakhtunwa province in Pakistan has awarded 300 million rupees ($2.86 million) to a madrassa with ties to the Taliban.

According to the Times of India, the Darul Uloom Haqqania Nowshera madrassa is known as the "University of Jihad" and counts the late Taliban leader Mullah Omar amongst its alumni. Also attending the madrassa were Haqqani Network founder Jalaluddin Haqqani, Al-Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent leader Asim Umar and the late Afghan Taliban chief Mullah Akhtar Mansoor.

"I am proudly announcing that Darul Uloom Haqqania Nowshera will get Rs 300 million to meet its annual expenditures," Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa Minister Shah Farman told the provincial Assembly.

150 million will be given this year, with a further 150 next year. "Darul Uloom Haqqania is one of the oldest and largest seminaries of Pakistan and it deserves financial assistance," said Minister for Religious Affairs Habibur Rehman, who is a member of the Islamist group Jamaat e-Islami.

clarionproject.org/news/pakistan-gives-28-million-%E2%80%98university-jihad%E2%80%99

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Police suspect kidnapping of SHC CJ’s son bargaining chip for militants’ release

June 21, 2016

KARACHI: Police suspect that Advocate Awais Ali Shah, kidnapped son of Sindh High Court's chief justice, will be used as a ‘bargaining chip’ to ensure release of some captured militants.

"So far it is kidnapping, and my professional assessment is that it is not for ransom," Sindh police chief Allah Dino Khawaja told Reuters.

Security officials, speaking on condition of anonymity because they were not authorised to speak to the media, said they suspected the kidnappers would offer to free Shah in return for the release of captured militants.

A special investigation team has been constituted to probe the abduction of Shah.

The eight-member team, headed by Deputy Inspector General Crime Investigation Agency Sultaan Ali Khowaja has been constituted to "ensure concrete efforts are made to recover the kidnappee and arrest the accused persons".

The team is to submit a daily progress report, said an AIG order released on Tuesday.

However, no First-Information Report of the incident has been registered against the abductors as yet.

Awais Ali Shah, a high court lawyer, left the SHC for Clifton to meet a friend on Monday, but did not reach there and his phone remained switched off, officials said. Sources told Dawn Shah had left the high court premises for Clifton and went missing at around 2pm.

The sources said that Awais Ali Shah was recently hired by over 700 sacked employees of the Karachi Port Trust to plead their case.

A well-placed police source who is a member of the investigation team quoting eyewitness accounts told Dawn that Awais Ali Shah was abducted near Agha's supermarket on Monday.

Shah had put up a fight before being quickly overpowered and thrown into a white getaway car, eyewitnesses told Reuters.

The vehicle had fake Sindh Police number plates, the police source said.

Using CCTV footage,police traced the path of abductor's car through Punjab Chowrangi, Baloch Colony, and the right-hand-side of Tipu Sultan Road, where the progress of the car was lost, the source said.

Sindh Chief Minister (CM) Qaim Ali Shah on Tuesday chaired a meeting on law and order to discuss Awais Ali Shah's abduction. The CM was briefed by the IGP, Director General Rangers and intelligence agencies and directed investigators to submit a progress report on the kidnapping every three hours.

dawn.com/news/1266279/police-suspect-kidnapping-of-shc-cjs-son-bargaining-chip-for-militants-release

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Pak. unanswerable when asked about Gilgit-Baltistan’s legal status: Abid Minto

June 21, 2016

Islamabad: Asserting that Gilgit-Baltistan (GB) is also part of the Kashmir dispute, Awami Workers Party (AWP) president and Supreme Court advocate Abid Hassan Minto pointed out that when asked about its legal status, the Pakistan Government has no answer to it.

Speaking at a seminar titled ‘Gilgit-Baltistan: Democracy or a Colonial System?’ Minto asserted that anyone who speaks against the establishment’s policy is made to face the consequences.

“Just one secretary has the power to run the affairs of Kashmir and GB and now the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) is passing through GB. However, controversies are arising which are harming the project,” Dawn quoted him as saying.

Minto said that the UN, India and Pakistan were not interested in resolving the Kashmir issue.

Talking about the agreement between Quaid-i-Azam and Jawaharlal Nehru at the time of partition, he said that states had the right to remain independent if they wanted and that heads of states also had the right to decide on the matter.

“Pakistan has been talking about Kashmir and holding a referendum but has not contacted any international body in the last 70 years to address the issue. If the Kashmir matter is solved, there will be no tension between Pakistan and India and the establishment will not get one-fourth of the country’s budget,” he added.

He said that the Army has ruled the country for 35 years but never bothered to take the issue to the International Court of Justice.

“Some elements just want to keep the issue alive and don’t want to solve it. On the other hand, India is an emerging power and no one wants to go against it,” he said.

Meanwhile, other speakers at the event demanded that Baba Jan, a social and political activist and the other 11 political activists who were sentenced to 70 years in prison be released.

Representative of the Jammu and Kashmir National Awami Party, Professor Mark Khaleeq said that instead of allowing the people of Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan to decide their future, the establishment has been taking decisions for them.

Awami Workers Party, Gilgit-Baltistan President Zahoor Elahi said the problems in the region will increase if state agencies continue to interfere in the matters of Gilgit-Baltistan.

siasat.com/news/pak-unanswerable-asked-gilgit-baltistans-legal-status-abid-minto-975718/

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Pakistan only hurdle to Indian ‘hegemony’ in South Asia: Sartaj Aziz

June 21, 2016

Lahore: Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s Adviser on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz has asserted that India has always tried to ‘maintain its hegemony’ in the South Asian region but Islamabad has effectively stood in New Delhi’s way.

“But Pakistan rejected this hegemony and has effectively protected its interests and its stance over Kashmir, nuclear deterrence and conventional balance,” The Dawn quoted Aziz as saying in an interview with Samaa TV.

He maintained that “protecting Pakistan’s sovereignty and vital interests is a great achievement as a nation”.

This comes in the wake of the upcoming Nuclear Suppliers’ Group (NSG) meeting in Seoul on June 23rd and 24th where the membership bid of India and Pakistan will be raised.

Earleir, Aziz reportedly had telephonic conversations with his counterparts in Russia, South Korea and New Zealand in a bid to get their nod for Pakistan’s NSG membership.

In its case against India’s bid in the NSG, Pakistan has claimed that adding India in the elite group could ‘affect the strategic stability of South Asia’.

Meanwhile, with China playing a dampener saying that India’s admission to the elite NSG is not on the agenda of the grouping which began its plenary session in Seoul yesterday, the United States has called on the participating governments of the NSG to support India’s application.

siasat.com/news/pakistan-hurdle-indian-hegemony-south-asia-sartaj-aziz-975618/

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‘Sindh Assembly has performed better than other provincial assemblies’

June 21, 2016

ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan Institute of Legislative Development and Transparency (Pildat), which is a think tank that focuses on the political and public policy research and legislative strengthening, has issued a performance analysis of the provincial assemblies with the performance of the Sindh Assembly ranked the best at 68pc.

According to the research, which is based on the performance of the third parliamentary year from May 2015 to June 2016, the Balochistan Assembly has had the worst performance at 35pc, while Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa tied for second place at 66pc.

The Sindh Assembly’s performance in regards to legislation is also the best with a score of 70pc. Members of the Sindh Assembly introduced the highest number of Private Members’ Bills at nine.

These bills are important indicators of performance as they reflect the use of the provision given to legislators to make laws in addition to those made by the Executive.

Balochistan has performed worst in its third year, with no private members bills introduced, says report

The other three provincial assemblies lagged behind with only one Private Member’s Bill introduced by the Punjab and KP assemblies each and none in the Balochistan Assembly in the year 2015-16.

Meanwhile, the Punjab Assembly has passed 46 laws in its third year, the Sindh Assembly passed 28 bills, 23 were passed in the Balochistan Assembly and 18 in KP.

The think tank says the KP Assembly is the only Pakistani legislature which is transacting all business in the house through computers.

The report also says that in its three years, the Balochistan Assembly has yet to elect all chairpersons for standing committees.

The Punjab Assembly has met for 193 working hours followed by the Sindh Assembly which met for 182 hours, the KP Assembly for 126 hours and the Balochistan Assembly for just 95 hours.

The report says the Sindh Assembly has performed best in the representation category with a score of 88pc.

The highest attendance of members was recorded in the Balochistan and Sindh assemblies at 34pc while attendance was worst in the Punjab Assembly with an average of 13pc of its 368 members attending.

Together, the former Chief Minister of Balochistan Dr Abdul Malik Baloch and the incumbent Chief Minister Nawab Sanaullah Zehri have attended 59pc of the sittings during the year 2015-16. A close second was the attendance of the Chief Minister of Sindh Syed Qaim Ali Shah at 51pc of the total sittings of the Sindh Assembly. The KP Chief Minister, Pervaiz Khattak, has attended 29pc of the KP Assembly’s sittings while the Punjab chief minister has only attended 5pc, which is just four of a total 75 sittings.

While the leader of the house in the Punjab Assembly had the lowest attendance, the opposition leader, PTI’s Mian Mehmoodur Rashid has attended 85pc of the sittings in 2015-16, the highest figure for any leader of the opposition in the provincial assemblies.

The opposition leader from the Sindh Assembly attended 73pc of the sittings, the attendance of the leader of opposition in Balochistan in 61pc while that of the KP opposition leader is 53pc.

dawn.com/news/1266184/sindh-assembly-has-performed-better-than-other-provincial-assemblies

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Govt has failed Islamabad: opposition

June 21, 2016

ISLAMABAD: The government’s dismal performance in ensuring the upkeep of the federal capital was the primary focus of opposition lawmakers’ speeches in the National Assembly on Monday, with nearly all speakers blaming the bureaucracy for failing to ensure the provision of basic amenities to the residents of Islamabad.

During a debate on cut motions regarding grants for the federal cabinet and cabinet division fielded by the opposition, it seemed for a while as if Islamabad was the only topic of discussion in the house.

Be it the Capital Development Authority (CDA), the Federal Directorate of Education (FDE), the Private Educational Institutions Regulatory Authority (Peira), or their parent ministry, the Capital Administration and Development Division (CADD); no department was spared the legislators’ wrath.

PTI’s Ali Mohammad Khan delivered a hard-hitting critique of the bureaucratic culture, which he said had ruined the country and rendered the capital city redundant. “They are called public servants, but they behave like public rulers,” he said, sarcastically.

NA budget debate overshadowed by criticism of govt’s handling of capital’s affairs

Asking for civil servants to be made accountable, he suggested that just as lawmakers’ performance was recorded and televised, CCTV cameras should be installed in top bureaucrats’ offices to keep an eye on their performance, or the lack thereof.

He also called into question the Rs64.90 million budgetary allocation for the PM’s Inspection Commission, asking: “When was the last time anyone heard that the commission had inspected anything?

“It is [TV channels and newspapers] that fulfill this responsibility. Show me when the inspection commission has taken any action?”

Airport

PTI’s Shireen Mazari devoted nearly her entire speech to criticism of the government’s mishandling of the capital’s affairs. Taking issue with the overcrowding and congestion at Benazir Bhutto International Airport, she spoke of the plight of ordinary passengers.

“The runway is closed every other day… there is no word on when the new airport will be inaugurated. I’ve heard that they’ve built the runways so close together that two planes can’t [land or taxi] simultaneously.”

CDA

She then decried CDA’s haphazard methodology of removing commercial entities from residential sectors, saying that it had taken Supreme Court orders for the authority to finally wake up and do its job. “Hair dressers and restaurants are still operating in Sector F-6… [tell me] on what basis does the CDA take action?”

She described the authority as a body with “too many issues, not enough focus”, adding, “only God can save CDA now”.

Ms Mazari also took strong exception to the fact that Pakistani citizens were denied access to the Diplomatic Enclave.

“Foreigners are allowed in but Pakistanis are not. This is discrimination against your own people, Mr Tariq Fazal Chaudhry,” she said, addressing the CADD minister.

“The cabinet secretariat has a diverse agenda and they cannot concentrate on it properly,” she said, asking for the functions of the division to be bifurcated.

Water crisis

In an impassioned speech, PTI’s Nafeesa Inayatullah Khattak laid into the government for not doing anything to address the water crisis being faced by residents of the capital. “There are areas, such as Mehrabadi, E-11 and D-12, you can bore down as far 300 feet and still not find sweet water,” she said.

“The streams that used to flow down from the Margallas used to contain sweet water, but today they are filled with trash. The Simli and Rawal dams cannot cater to the water needs of the people, while rainwater is wasted because there are no reservoirs.”

She also decried the role of environmental agencies in keeping the capital green, saying that the western end of the Margalla Hills was all but bare, with no vegetation to speak of. “People are building without any proper permission or plan.”

Education

“The education ministry is divided. Madressahs answer to one ministry, Peira and government schools come under the same ministry, but different departments. There are only 18 employees in Peira, and the owners of private schools don’t pay them any heed,” said Ms Khattak.

“If federal schools and model schools are clubbed under one umbrella and have one syllabus, it will be much better for everyone,” she concluded.

PPP’s Azra Fazal Pechuho alleged that it was impossible to get one’s children admitted to the better schools in the capital on the basis of merit alone, adding that it was necessary to have political clout in order to get anywhere.

Ali Mohammad of the PTI also took issue with the elitist culture of education when he lamented that: “None of our children study in government schools, none of us go to government hospitals for treatment, yet we call ourselves representatives of the public.”

Health

Ms Pechuho called attention to the state of affairs at the Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences (Pims) and Polyclinic, which she said were unable to handle the load of patients that was rising day by day.

“The quality of laboratory and surgical services at both hospitals is very poor. It is necessary that basic health units and dispensaries in the federal capital provide secondary care to patients so that the load on tertiary care hospitals can be lessened,” she maintained.

Talking about the complete dearth of oncology and radiation therapy facilities in the capital, she said that Islamabad’s hospitals did not have linear oscillators, cryo-surgical facilities or any of the latest equipment that was available at the Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre in Karachi.

Ali Mohammad also raised the issue in his speech, saying that effective treatment for heart and kidney issues was not available anywhere in the capital and people had to spend a lot of money to travel abroad for this purpose.

Ms Khattak also took issue with the lack of facilities for non-Muslim communities in the capital. “Do they have anywhere to worship, to bury their dead or perform other rituals,” she asked, calling on the government to urgently take notice of this glaring oversight.

dawn.com/news/1266201/govt-has-failed-islamabad-opposition

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Former Leaguer’s bail case: Withdrawal of rape charge unfortunate: LHC

June 21, 2016

LAHORE: A Lahore High Court judge has observed that sexual assault on women is a very regrettable aspect of society and withdrawing the charges by the victims is most unfortunate.

Justice Shahid Hameed Dar was holding first hearing on a prosecution department appeal against bail granted to gang-rape suspect Adnan Sanaullah, a former office-bearer of PML-N Youth Wing.

As the judge resumed hearing, Additional Prosecutor General Abdul Samad Khan said a sessions court granted bail to Sanaullah after the victim girl submitted an affidavit in favour of the suspect.

The judge regretted the fact and issued a notice to the suspect for next week.

Racecourse police had arrested prime suspect Adnan Sanaullah and his accomplices Abdul Majid, Muhammad Umar, Ameer Ahmad, Haris, Bilawal, Imran Shahid and Qamar Zaman on charges of abducting a teenage girl and subjecting her to gang rape.

The prosecution stated in its appeal that the affidavit filed by the girl was a result of pressure exerted on her family by the suspects. Whereas, it said, the girl in her first statement before a judicial magistrate had maintained that Adnan Sanaullah was the prime suspect of the gang rape.

The prosecution asked the court to declare the affidavit submitted by the victim as null and void and cancel the bail granted to the suspect by the sessions court.

The suspects allegedly abducted the 15-year-old girl from Multan Road and took her to a guest house on The Mall where they subjected her to gang rape. They left the girl unconscious in a room of the hotel before informing her family through a text message on cell phone.

Objection OVERRULED: The Lahore High Court on Monday overruled Registrar’s Office objection to Pakistan Sunni Tehreek leader Sarwat Ejaz Qadri’s plea against ban on his entry to Punjab and directed it to fix it for hearing.

Justice Mahmood Maqbool Bajwa heard the petition as “objection case” as the office objected to authenticity of one of the documents attached with the plea.

However, the judge overruled the objection and directed the office to fix the petition on June 22 before an appropriate bench.

The provincial interior ministry had in February 2016 put a ban on the entry of Mr Qadri to the province saying his presence could deteriorate peace and tranquility in the province.

In a writ petition filed through Advocate Usman Naseem, Mr Qadri challenged the ban saying the government’s act was in violation of his fundamental rights. He said a representation filed against the ban had been pending before the interior secretary for weeks.

Mr Qadri asked the court to set aside the notification issued by the interior ministry and lift the ban on his entry to Punjab.

ADJOURNED: The Lahore High Court on Monday adjourned for final arguments a petition challenging authority of Punjab University to recognise degrees of law graduation.

A young lawyer filed the petition through Advocate Sheraz Zaka contending that after the formation of Legal Education Rules 2015, the sole authority to recognise degrees vested in HEC and Pakistan Bar Council regarding recognition of LLB degrees. And other than LLB degrees the sole authority to issue equivalence was vested in HEC under section 10 of Higher Education Commission Ordinance, the counsel said.

The counsel argued that the PU had been acting beyond its powers and extorting money from students in the name of issuance of equivalence certificates for admission to masters programmes, as the sole authority was vested in HEC and in case of law degrees Pakistan Bar Council had the authority.

He asked the court to declare the act of the PU illegal and restrain it from further extorting students in the name of degrees’ recognition.

HEC’s legal adviser Sajid Hotiana also supported the petition and admitted that the power to recognise degrees with respect to any subject solely vested in the commission and not in the university. However, university’s counsel Amir Mahmood defended the powers of the varsity and said the PU had its own domain and admission policy. He said the university did fall under the domain of the HEC but the former had its own regulations.

Justice Abid Aziz Sheikh adjourned hearing till Oct 25 and directed all the parties to come up with final arguments.

dawn.com/news/1266217/former-leaguers-bail-case-withdrawal-of-rape-charge-unfortunate-lhc

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Banking channel to facilitate trade with China: Dastgir

June 21, 2016

ISLAMABAD: The establishment of a banking channel in China would greatly facilitate the flow of capital for mega projects which the Pakistan government is undertaking with Chinese support, Commerce Minister Khurram Dastgir Khan said on Monday.

Talking to media after meeting with HBL President Sultan Ali Illana and CEO Nouman Dar at the commerce ministry, he said HBL’s branch in the Western Chinese city of Urumqi will be functional this year.

HBL has become the first South Asian bank to start operations in the Western Chinese part. The soft launch of the project will be held on August 14, 2016 in Beijing.

Mr Dastgir highlighted that the Ministry of Commerce has negotiated with China to relax stringent requirements for the entry of foreign banks into the Chinese market.

As a result of successful trade diplomacy, the minimum asset requirement was reduced by $5 billion to $15bn from $20bn for all Pakistani banks, he said.

“This will pave way for other Pakistani banks to follow and utilise the concessions offered by the Chinese side,” the minister hoped.

Mentioning other concessions, he said Pakistani banks can also open their businesses in RMB (Chinese currency) after one year of their business in China. Previously banks were required to operate for three year and business could only be done in dollars.

The condition for being profitable for two consecutive years prior to the submission of application has also been removed, the minister said.

Mr Dastgir said the opening of Pakistani Banks in China is the first step in the larger plan of financial and capital connectivity with the Central Asian States where Pakistan is vigorously pursuing road, trade and transit connectivity.

In response to a question, Mr Dastgir said Pakistan has not granted any special concessions to Chinese banking sector as Pakistani banking regulations are liberal.

Presently, the inward remittance /LC are routed through foreign banks.

Once Pakistani banks are opened in China, the financial transaction would be routed through our own banks, explained.

dawn.com/news/1266166/banking-channel-to-facilitate-trade-with-china-dastgir

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39pc of Pakistanis live in poverty; Fata, Balochistan worst hit

June 21, 2016

ISLAMABAD: Nearly 39 per cent of Pakistanis live in multidimensional poverty with the highest rates in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata) and Balochistan. Though the national poverty rates have dropped from 55 to 39pc since 2004.

According to Pakistan’s first ever Multidim­ensional Poverty Index (MPI), launched on Monday, progress across different regions of the country is uneven. Poverty in urban areas is 9.3pc as compared to 54.6pc in rural areas. Disparities also exist across the provinces, it says.

The report says that over two-thirds of people in Fata (73pc) and Balochistan (71pc) live in multidimensional poverty. Poverty in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa stands at 49pc, Gilgit-Baltistan and Sindh at 43pc, Punjab at 31pc and Azad Jammu and Kashmir at 25pc.

At the district level, Larkana, Attock, Malakand, Toba Tek Singh and Hyderabad have made the most progress reducing absolute poverty headcount ratio by more than 32 percentage points.

In relative terms, the best performers were the districts of Islamabad, Attock, Jehlum, Lahore, Karachi and Rawalpindi.

On the other hand, some districts have experienced an increase in poverty incidence. In absolute and relative terms, the districts of Umerkot, Harnai, Panjgur, Killa Abdullah and Kashmore have witnessed the highest increase in incidence of poverty.

Deprivation in education contributes the largest share of 43pc to MPI followed by living standards which contributes nearly 32pc and health contributing 26pc. These findings further confirm that social indicators are very weak in Pakistan, even where economic indicators appear healthy.

The report found that the decrease in multidimensional poverty was slowest in Balochistan while it increased in several districts of Balochistan and Sindh during the past decade.

The MPI uses a broader concept of poverty than income and wealth alone. It reflects the deprivations people experience with respect to health, education and standard of living, and is thus a more detailed way of understanding and alleviating poverty.

Since its development by the OPHI and the UNDP in 2010, many countries, including Pakistan, have adopted this methodology as an official poverty estimate, complementing consumption or income-based poverty figures.

Speaking at the launch, Minister for Planning, Development and Reforms Professor Ahsan Iqbal said that the reduction of multidimensional poverty was one of the core objectives of Pakistan’s Vision 2025. He said that inclusive and balanced growth, which benefited everyone and especially the marginalised communities, was the government’s priority and an essential thing for promoting harmony in society. The MPI is a useful instrument budgeting, resource allocation and inclusion in policy making.

Pakistan’s MPI establishes baseline not for only Vision 2025, but also for Pakistan’s progress towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals, and complements the consumption-based poverty estimates recently released by the government.

The UNDP Country Director, Marc-Andre Franche said: “We consider this a highly innovative approach because of its multi-faceted nature and the availability of estimates at the sub-national level. Multidimensional poverty provides useful analysis and information for targeting poverty, and reducing regional inequalities. Many countries are using MPI to inform government priorities for planning and it is encouraging to see the government of Pakistan adopting the MPI to complement monetary poverty measure in Pakistan”.

Director OPHI, Dr Sabina Alkire said: “Developed with input from all provinces, Pakistan’s MPI is very robust and we are pleased to work alongside the very strong academic and policy community in Pakistan.

Pakistan’s leadership will be of interest to over 40 other countries in the Multidimensional Poverty Peer Network who are using multidimensional poverty measures in the Sustainable Development Goals,” she said.

dawn.com/news/1266171/39pc-of-pakistanis-live-in-poverty-fata-balochistan-worst-hit

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South Asia

Bangladesh: Hezb-e-Islami issues new impossible-to-meet demands for peace agreement

Tue Jun 21 2016

The Hezb-e-Islami party led by Gulbuddin Hekmatyar has reportedly issued new impossible-to-meet demands to sign a peace agreement with the Afghan government.

An official privy to the development has told The Associated Press that the new demands include cancellation of pacts with the United States, a timetable for the withdrawal of foreign troops and that it be signed by a new government.

A member of Hezb-e-Islami negotiating team has said the demands were made in a letter to President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani.

Earlier, Hekmatyar said he has changed his conditions for peace process with the Afghan government by stepping back from his demands for the complete withdrawal of foreign forces.

Hekmatyar was originally demanding the complete withdrawal of the foreign forces from Afghanistan before officials talks begun between his party and the Afghan government.

This comes as the Afghan government has signed the draft peace agreement with Hezb-e-Islami in mid-May amid hopes that the agreement would be signed by Hekmatyar in the near future.

Deputy Chief Executive Mohammad Khan said last month that the party has agreed to have no links with the anti-government armed militant groups, insisting that Hekmatyar’s only demand is to remove his name from the international blacklist.

khaama.com/hezb-e-islami-issues-new-impossible-to-meet-demands-for-peace-agreement-01315

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Anti-Terror Fatwa Endorsed by 100,000 Bangladeshi Islamic Scholars

June 21, 2016 12:00 AM

A leading Islamic group in Bangladesh has issued a fatwa condemning terrorism and militancy, including violent attacks on non-Muslims and secular writers and activists, as "Haraam," or forbidden and un-Islamic.

The fatwa, or religious decree, was signed by more than 100,000 Islamic scholars, legal experts and clerics, and presented by Maulana Fariduddin Masoud, chairman of Bangladesh Jamiatul Ulama (BJU), a national body of Islamic scholars.

In presenting the 62-page fatwa along with 30 volumes of books, each carrying over 3,300 signatures, Masoud said he began his campaign because terrorists were launching attacks in the name of Islam, a national body of Islamic scholars. This, he said, was leading to misunderstanding of the religion's tenets.

“As they are indulging in the violent activities, they are terming them jihad and they say that they happily want to become martyrs through jihad. But, Islam stands against such violent terrorist activities. While Islam is based on peace, love and compassion, they are presenting it as a religion of the uncivilized and terrorist people,” Masoud told VOA.

Explaining jihad in Quaranic context

Since most people have an incorrect idea of jihad, the scholars who signed the fatwa sought to explain what jihad means in the Quranic context and how Islamist extremists are misleading both Muslims and non-Muslims on the issue, he said.

“In our fatwa we have tried to explain that their activities cannot be called jihad because they are against the interest of humanity."

At least half a dozen secular bloggers and one publisher were killed in the first wave of suspected Islamist attacks in Bangladesh, which began in 2013. However, in recent months, victims have included foreigners, Shi’ites, liberal Muslims and members of other religious minorities.

At least 48 killings in Bangladesh over the last year and a half have been blamed on Islamists.  The Islamic State claimed responsibility of more than half of the killings -- including this month’s hacking to death of a Hindu priest, a Hindu monastery worker and a Christian grocer.  Al-Qaida claimed most of the other killings, according to the U.S.-based SITE Intelligence Group.

Bangladesh's government insists that neither IS nor al-Qaida has a foothold in Bangladesh and that local militant groups are behind the killings.

Minorities seek protection

With attacks on minorities spiking in recent days, minority leaders have sought improved security from the government.

Masoud said that the fatwa also addresses the issue of attacks on minorities.

“Attacking and killing non-Muslims and vandalizing their religious places is completely un-Islamic. We have given that evidence in our fatwa. (The) Prophet Muhammad said, if a Muslim killed any non-Muslim, he would be denied entry to heaven,” Masoud said.

According to Mufti Junud Uddin Maktum, the BJU's legal adviser, after drafting the fatwa, the national body took about five months to collect 101,524 endorsing signatures.

“The legal opinions in the fatwa have been supported by quotations from the Quran and Sunnah, the two most trustworthy sources of Islamic law. It has elevated the authenticity of the fatwa. Furthermore, this fatwa also includes the signatures of around 10,000 female Islamic scholars. Their participation further increased its acceptability to all sections in the society,” Maktum told VOA.

'A singular view on jihad'

The fatwa is highly significant because more than 100,000 Islamic scholars and clerics signed it, said retired army Major General Abdur Rashid, the Executive Director of the Institute of Conflict, Law and Development Studies in Dhaka.

“This is the first such attempt by the Muslim religious leaders in this part of the globe to present a singular view on jihad and influence the mind of the people against the terrorist activities in the name of Islam,” he told VOA, adding, "Since people have [the] inclination to accept the views of Islamic scholars on religious affairs, more than academics and politicians, I think this fatwa will achieve success at least to a good extent.”

The fatwa has also been welcomed by minority community leaders in Bangladesh.

“This fatwa can help those who are involved in such militant activities understand that they have been misled. It can help bring a positive change in their life,” William Proloy Samadder, organizing secretary of the Bangladesh Christian Association, told VOA. He said the police in a country as heavily populated as Bangladesh, despite their best efforts, cannot provide security to every vulnerable individual.

Samadder said that the fatwa can inspire ordinary Muslims to act against such militant activities.

“These fellow citizens will then come forward to take care of my safety," he said. "To me and other minority community members, this can provide a shield of security more effective than all the other security measures provided by the state so far.”

voanews.com/content/fatwa-endorsed-by-bangladeshi-islamic-scholars-aims-to-curb-terrorism/3384976.html

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Sartaj: Afghanistan should offer Taliban something they can’t gain on battlefield

Tue Jun 21 2016

Sartaj AzizThe Pakistani foreign affairs adviser Sartaj Aziz has said the Afghan government should offer Taliban something they cannot gain in battlefield in a bid to bring peace and stability in Afghanistan.

Sartaj further added “We can only bring the Taliban on the table using our influence, but ultimately Afghanistan has to talk with them. They (Afghan government) should strengthen their position on ground and secondly they should offer them (Taliban) something which they cannot gain on battlefield and lastly, the process should be consistent.”

This is not the first time Sartaj has admitted regarding Pakistan’s influence on Afghan militant groups including the Taliban group.

Earlier, Sartaj said the Pakistani government could use certain leverages to encourage the Taliban group to participate in direct peace talks with the Afghan government, including some facilities the Taliban leadership uses in Pakistan such hospitals.

In an interview with the state-owned PTV, Mr Sartaj however said “Most of the groups fighting in Afghanistan are fighting from within but the perception persists that Pakistan should take action against them.”

He also claimed credit for the formation of the Quadrilateral Coordination Group and said Pakistan had succeeded in forming the Quadrilateral Coordination Group at the last Heart of Asia Conference and the group formed a good mechanism.

“Our viewpoint was that you (Nato and Isaf) have been fighting for the last 15 years but could not bring peace, now dialogue is the only option for if Taliban cannot occupy Afghanistan they can continue this fight for years.”

This comes as the Afghan officials have long been criticizing Pakistan for allowing the Afghan anti-government armed militant groups including the Taliban and Haqqani terrorist network to use its soil to plan and coordinate attacks in Afghanistan.

The Afghan officials insist that the Taliban group and Haqqani network leaderships are based in Quetta and Peshawar cities of Pakistan as they enjoy the facilities provided by certain elements in Pakistan to use the sanctuaries provided to act openly and coordinate attacks in Afghanistan.

khaama.com/sartaj-afghanistan-should-offer-taliban-something-they-cant-gain-on-battlefield-01313

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Arakanese and Rohingya Criticize New Govt Term for Muslims

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

RANGOON — Members of both Arakanese Buddhist and Rohingya Muslim communities have objected to referring to Rohingya as “the Muslim community in Arakan State,” as used by Burma’s representative at the 32nd regular session of the United Nations (UN) Human Rights Council in Geneva, Switzerland.

On Friday, Burma’s representative Thet Thinzar Htun said using “Muslim community in Arakan State,” instead of the contentious term “Rohingya,” would help to bring “harmony” and “mutual trust” between the Buddhist and Muslim communities in Arakan State—who remain largely segregated since anti-Muslim violence in 2012 and 2013, which displaced around 140,000 people, the vast majority of them Muslim.

Thet Thinzar Htun’s words were in response to comments from a UN special rapporteur, Maina Kiai, criticizing religious-based discrimination against the Rohingya, where the term “Rohingya” was used. The continued use of the latter term was “only making things worse” and “adding fuel to the fire,” said Thet Thinar Htun.

The deployment of the new elongated label could represent an attempt by the National League for Democracy  (NLD) government to chart a neutral path between vocal Burmese nationalists, who reject the term “Rohingya” and insist they be called “Bengalis” (to suggest they are illegal migrants from Bangladesh), and criticism from foreign governments and human rights groups, who insist on the right of the Rohingya to identify as such.

The previous military-backed government under President Thein Sein was adamant on the “Bengali” designation. While the NLD government has maintained ambiguity, NLD leader Aung San Suu Kyi has publicly cautioned against the use of “emotive terms” (such as Rohingya), which she claimed only stoked tensions.

Pe Than, a lawmaker in the Lower House of the Union Parliament for the Arakan National Party (ANP), which represents the interests of the Buddhist majority in Arakan State, told The Irrawaddy the current government should stick to the same usages (e.g. “Bengali”) as the previous government.

He said the current situation in the Arakan State was a consequence of the historical mistake of U Nu, the first prime minister of Burma, who exploited the term “Rohingya” to gain votes in general elections.

“Arakan State citizens are Buddhist. Why has [the government] called them Arakan State Muslims? What’s next? The term Myanmar Muslim?” he said, implying that this would be unacceptable.

He claimed that “Muslim community in Arakan State” would be objectionable not only to Arakanese Buddhists but also to the “Bengali” community—although he did not explain why. He argued that the NLD government is trying to find a temporary solution because it has said it would address the problems in Arakan State as part of a “100-day plan.”

“They are trying to cut corners,” Pe Than said.

He said he personally accepted the Rohingya being designated simply as “Muslims”—the objection was to the coupling of “Muslim” with “Arakan,” the latter word being, under his reasoning, the exclusive preserve of Buddhists, despite its wide use as a geographic term.

He said that his party, the ANP, would be holding an urgent meeting to discuss the implications of “Muslim community in Arakan State,” before releasing a statement on this new usage from the government.

Yanghee Lee, the UN’s special rapporteur on human rights in Burma, reached Rangoon on Sunday. According to government media outlets, she will visit Kachin, Arakan and northern Shan States, as well as the capital Naypyidaw. She will be compiling a report to be delivered at the 71st UN General Assembly in New York in September.

A source from the Arakan State government said Yanghee Lee would reach the Arakan state capital Sittwe on Wednesday, where she will meet with the state government and also visit Sittwe’s prison.

Than Htun, a Sittwe resident and self-styled nationalist, told The Irrawaddy “[Lee] is just coming to meet with Bengalis [to form] a one-sided judgment,” expressing frustration with what he perceived as ingrained bias in favor of the Rohingya from the UN.

Zaw Zaw, a Rohingya resident of Aung Mingalar ward in urban Sittwe—a de facto camp for Muslims, who live segregated from the town’s Buddhist community and have tight restrictions imposed on their movements in and out—said he had heard some displaced Rohingya might demonstrate with hand-painted signboards during Yanghee Lee’s visit, to show their own dissatisfaction with the government’s new “Muslim community in Arakan State” usage.

Rumors have been spreading on social media that Rohingya based in camps were planning to protest during Yanghee Lee’s visit. Falsely attributed photographs circulating on Facebook purported to show Rohingya “rehearsing” with signboards and t-shirts reading, “I am Rohingya / Native Land Arakan (Burma).”

“Both Arakanese and Rohingya are unhappy with the [new] term,” Zaw Zaw said. “We do not accept any terminology other than Rohingya.”

However, he thought the government would use the new term only temporarily. If they persisted in using it, rather than referring to them as “Rohingya,” the government will “not succeed,” he said.

In recent weeks, the government has been handing out National Verification Cards (NVCs) to stateless Muslims in several townships of Arakan State. The NVCs are provisional documents, whose bearers will later be scrutinized for citizenship eligibility under Burma’s 1982 citizenship law, which discriminates heavily against the Rohingya as an “unrecognized” ethnic group.

Stateless Muslims in Kyaukphyu and Ramree townships have reportedly been cooperating with the scheme. However, some in Sittwe, Ponnagyun, Buthidaung and Maungdaw townships have refused to submit to it, because the religion and ethnicity of the bearer is not stated on the new NVCs. Many Rohingya—who comprise the large majority of stateless Muslims—are suspicious that the government will later add their own entries under religion and ethnicity, such as “Bengali Muslim,” an imposed identity that many Rohingya reject.

The Irrawaddy phoned both the head of Arakan State’s immigration department Win Lwin and state government spokesman Min Aung, to clarify the details of Yanghee Lee’s trip and the citizenship verification drive, but received no response.

Last month, the Committee for Arakan State Peace, Stability and Development was formed. State Counselor Aung San Suu Kyi chairs the committee. Arakan State Chief Minister Nyi Pu, an NLD appointee, and Union Border and Security Affairs Minister Lt-Gen Ye Aung, a military appointee, were chosen as deputy chairs. ANP representation is conspicuously absent. The committee’s purview includes resettling displaced communities, social development and coordinating the activities of UN agencies and international organizations.

irrawaddy.com/burma/arakanese-and-rohingya-criticize-new-govt-term-for-muslims.html 

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Taliban kidnap scores of passengers from Helmand province

Tue Jun 21 2016

The Taliban militants have kidnapped scores of passengers from the restive in Helmand in southern Afghanistan.

The incident took place in Greshk district earlier today after the Taliban militants stopped a number of vehicles including a bus carrying passengers.

The passengers have been taken to an unknown location and the exact number of hostages yet to be confirmed.

The Taliban militants group has not commented regarding the report so far.

The Taliban militants have stepped up hostage takings across the country during the recent weeks as the group claim they abduct security personnel and government officials traveling in the highways.

Numerous kidnapping incidents have taken place in northern Afghanistan following a major kidnapping incident that took place late last month in northern Kunduz province.

At least 185 passengers were kidnapped as they were traveling on the main highway in Kunduz last month but majority of them were released after they were interrogated.

The Taliban militants killed at least 17 of the abducted passengers after they were accused of working for the government.

khaama.com/taliban-kidnap-scores-of-passengers-from-helmand-province-01314

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3,657 Afghan refugees returned from European countries in 2016: Officials

Mon Jun 20 2016

At least 3,657 Afghan refugees returned to Afghanistan from the European countries, the officials in Ministry of Refugees and Repatriations said Monday.

Syed Hussain Alemi Balkhi, the Minister of Refugees and Repatriations, said Monday that 3,657 refugees returned to Afghanistan only since the start of 2016.

He said at least 1,962 refugees who returned from Europe were the ones who had claimed asylum in Germany.

Balkhi further added that around 60,000 refugees returned to Afghanistan from the neighboring Pakistan and Iran since the start of 2016.

According to Balkhi, the number of Afghans seeking refuge in European countries declined dramatically, mainly due to the closure of borders in some of the European countries.

This comes as the Minister of Foreign Affairs Salahduddin Rabbani said earlier in April at least 1,700 Afghan migrants have applied for voluntary return from Germany.

He was briefing the lawmakers in the Lower House of the Parliament, Wolesi Jirga, regarding the situation of the Afghan refugees.

Rabbani further added that a large number of the Afghan migrants want to return to Afghanistan and at least 1,700 migrants have applied to the Embassy of Afghanistan in Germany for a voluntary repatriation to Afghanistan.

Earlier, the Embassy of Afghanistan in Berlin, said the number of Afghan migrants seeking voluntary repatriation has increased recently.

According to the earlier reports by the Embassy of Afghanistan, up to one thousand Afghan migrants have applied for voluntary return to Afghanistan from Germany.

This comes as a group of 125 Afghan citizens arrived to Afghanistan from Germany late in the month of February with the support of the Afghan and German governments.

According to the officials, the majority of the applicants applying for voluntary repatriation are between 15 to 25 years of age and majority of them are keen to return to Afghanistan since they find living in Germany in contrast to their expectations and what they had heard before travelling to Germany.

khaama.com/3657-afghan-refugees-returned-from-european-countries-in-2016-officials-01312

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ISIS in Afghanistan claims attacks on Canadian Embassy guards in Kabul

Mon Jun 20 2016

The loyalists of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) terrorist group in Afghanistan have claimed responsibility behind a deadly attack on the Canadian Embassy security guards in Kabul.

The sympathizers of the terrorist group in Afghanistan have claimed that the attack was carried out by a suicide bombeق whom they have identified as Irfanullah Ahmad.

The loyalists of the terror group claim that a group of Nepalese guards working for a foreign embassy were targeted in the attack.

In the meantime, the Taliban group in Afghanistan has claimed that the attack was carried out by the fighers of the Taliban group.

Taliban group spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid claimed that over 20 people were killed or wounded in the attack.

At least 14 Nepalese security guards were killed after a suicide bomber targeted their vehicle in the 9th police district of Kabul city earlier this morning.

The Canadian Embassy in Kabul confirmed the attack on the employees of security company working for the Embassy in Kabul.

The attack was carried out around 6:00 am local time in Benayi area of the city in the 9th police district of Kabul.

The claim by ISIS loyalists which could not be verified indecently comes as they attempt to expand foothold in the country despite ongoing operations by the Afghan and US forces against the group in the country.

The Afghan and coalition forces officials earlier expressed concerns regarding attempts by ISIS loyalists to expand foothold in the country with an aim to further expand operations in the region and consolidate operations with the terror group in Syria and Iraq.

khaama.com/isis-in-afghanistan-claims-attacks-on-canadian-embassy-guards-in-kabul-01311

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Arab World

Syria's Aleppo 'Regime of Silence' Broken by Al-Nusra Front Shelling

June 21, 2016

TEHRAN (FNA)- Terrorists of al-Qaeda-affiliated Al-Nusra Front violated the "regime of silence" in Syria's Aleppo by conducting massive artillery strikes, military sources said.

"The silence regime, which was introduced on June 19 for 24 hours in Aleppo City, has been broken by Nusra Front massive artillery and mortar attacks on Northwestern, Northeastern, and Southern suburbs of the city," Russia's defense ministry said in a statement, Sputnik reported.

The artillery was fired from El Khalid Sheikh Maqsood, Az Zagra, Al-Nayrab airport, and the nearby town of Handarat.

The cessation of hostilities was observed in most Syrian provinces, with five recorded violations in Damascus province.The ceasefire was agreed and largely abided by 157 settlements in the region following negotiations.

During this time, humanitarian aid, delivered by the Russian military, comprising stores of cereals, flour, and medicine aids have been distributed among the Aleppo province residents.

en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13950401000761

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Several Non-Syrian Terrorists Killed in Bomb Explosion in Idlib

June 21, 2016

TEHRAN (FNA)- Scores of the terrorists of al-Nusra Front were killed in a bomb explosion by unknown attackers in the Northwestern city of Idlib.

A military vehicle of the al-Qaeda-affiliated al-Nusra Front came under the bomb attack in al-Sa'ah square, which ended in the killing of several militants, including seven terrorists with the Saudi, Uzbek and Turkistani nationalities.

Tens of the civilians were also wounded in the explosion. 

In relevant developments in the province on Sunday, a senior commander of the al-Nusra Front terrorist group was badly wounded in a targeted attack in Idlib province.

Abu Bakr al-Uzbeki was seriously injured when his vehicle exploded in an attack in Idlib province.

en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13950401000836

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Aleppo: Syrian Democratic Forces Fend off ISIL Offensives near Manbij

June 21, 2016

TEHRAN (FNA)- The fighters of Manbij Military Council, affiliated to the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), repelled ISIL's large-scale attacks to lift the SDF's siege on the terrorist-held town of Manbij, forcing them to leave the battlefield.

The ISIL terrorists struck the SDF strongholds near the recently-liberated village of Arimeh, Owseh Jeli, Towq al-Khalil, Mohtareq al-Kabireh, Qor'at al-Kabireh and al-Saghireh, Qor'eh, Jubb al-Ashreh, Khirbet Ashreh, Khirbet al-Rous, Naimeh, and Jubb al-Sheikh in Western bank of Euphrates river to open a way towards Manbij and save their under the siege comrades in the town, but the Kurdish-led SDF fighter did not allow them to advance.

The ISIL terrorists came from Jarabulus, al-Bab and Maskaneh in Northeastern Aleppo.

The ISIL terrorist, who face strong defense of the SDF fighters, left behind scores of the dead and wounded members and fled the battles without any result.

Sporadic clashes are now underway in the Manbij region.

Sources said on Monday that ISIL set up more checkpoints across the besieged town of Manbij to stop people from escaping the town, adding that the terrorist group has killed the entire members of a family fleeing the war-torn town.

"A five-member family was stopped by one of the flying checkpoints of the ISIL on al-Jazeereh road and were shot dead right on the spot on charge of leaving Manbij," the sources said, adding, "One of the family members was badly sick and needed to be cured in a hospital, but the ISIL did not pay any attention to this matter and killed all them even the children and women."

en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13950401000766

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ISIL Intensifying Security Measures in Raqqa

June 21, 2016

TEHRAN (FNA)- The ISIL terrorist group has increased its Hasaba (monitoring-security system) forces' patrolling operations across the capital of its self-proclaimed Caliphate to prevent civilians' access to any information about the Syrian army advances in the battlefields, informed sources said.

"The ISIL Hasaba forces storm public places, including coffee shops and other centers of this kind, and check the civilians' mobiles to find out anybody is receiving up-to-date news about the Syrian army's advances, battlefield development and the Takfiri terrorists' failures," the sources said.

A report said on Monday, the ISIL Takfiri terrorist group executed a young Syrian man in the countryside of the city of Raqqa on charges of spying for coalitions forces.

Mohammad Adnan Kadri was first crucified, then a dagger was put into his hear before he was shot in the head in the presence of dozens of civilians.

Kadri was arrested for taking pictures and videos from places in Raqqa to inform coalition forces of ISIL's positions, houses and hideouts.

In a similar incident in early May, the ISIL executed a man in al-Tabaqa region in the presence of dozens of civilians.

en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13950401000703

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Syrian Army Explodes Tunnel under Terrorist Positions East of Damascus

June 21, 2016

TEHRAN (FNA)- Tens of terrorists were killed or wounded after the Syrian army's engineering units detonated a tunnel, filled by explosives and bombs, under their positions in Eastern Ghouta, army sources said.

"The Syrian army's engineering units detonated a tunnel under a five-story building used by the terrorists in Jobar, which ended in the killing or wounding of several militants and inflicted major losses on the building," the sources said, adding, "This technique of hitting the militant bases takes a long time but it is accurate and can inflict major damage on the enemy sites."

Also on Sunday, a long tunnel, filled by explosive devices, was detonated under the strongholds of Faylaq al-Rahman's command-and-control center in Eastern Ghouta by the Syrian Army troops, inflicting major losses on the militants.

Syrian army's engineering units detonated a long tunnel-bomb under the Takfiri terrorists' stronghold of Zamalka in Eastern Ghouta, which destroyed one more command-and-control center of Faylaq al-Rahman terrorists in the region.

The detonation inflicted a heavy death toll on the militants.

en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13950401000625

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Saudi Arabia Violates Truce Agreement in Yemen

June 21, 2016

TEHRAN (FNA)- Saudi warplanes and artillery units pounded a number of areas in Yemen’s province of Hajjah several times over the past 24 hours, violating a UN-brokered truce agreement that had just taken effect.

The Saudi army's artillery units targeted several towns and cities, specially Midi region, in Hajjah province in the border with Saudi Arabia at midnight on Monday.

Meantime, the Saudi warplanes bombarded the border cities of Hajjah province, including Abas and Heyran, over past 24 hours.

Saudi Arabia has been waging a war on Yemen since late March 2015 in a bid to reinstate Mansour Hadi and undermine the Ansarullah movement, which took over state matters after Hadi resigned.

Over 9,800 Yemenis, including 4,000 women and children, have lost their lives in the deadly military campaign.

Yemenis, in return, have been carrying out retaliatory attacks on the pro-Saudi forces deployed in the country as well as targets inside Saudi Arabia.

This is while UN Chief Ban Ki-Moon announced that Saudi Arabia will be removed, pending investigation, from a blacklist it was on for its role in killing children in the Yemen war, prompting blackmail speculation.

Ban has since as good as confirmed the Saudis subjected him to extortion and condemned them for going too far, while stories have circulated they blackmailed him and threatened to pull funding for a raft of humanitarian programs.

Ban complained of "unacceptable" and "undue pressure" to take the Saudis off a blacklist for killing children.

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Terrorists Fail to Penetrate into Syrian Army Positions Southwest of Damascus

June 21, 2016

TEHRAN (FNA)- The Syrian Army troops pushed Ajnad al-Sham terrorists back from a strategic road in Western Ghouta, inflicting major losses on the terrorists, local sources said.

"Ajnad Al-Sham launched a new offensive inside the strategic town of Darayya to reopen the road between Darayya and Mo’adhamiyeh," the sources said, adding, "At first, Ajnad al-Sham captured 9 points from the Syrian soldiers between Darayya and Mo’adhamiyeh, but the Syrian Armed Forces launched a counter-attack took back the lost 9 points."

"Ajnad al-Sham suffered a heavy death toll, including 2 of the group’s military commanders in the failed attacks," the sources said.

In relevant developments in the province last week, the Syrian military forces engaged in fierce clashes with the terrorist groups in a key town in Western Ghouta, pushing them back from several building blocks.

The Syrian soldiers repelled the terrorist groups' attacks successfully in the town of Darayya and then in a rapid counter-attack forced them to retreat from at least 42 residential building blocks.

The militants, who had breached the ceasefire, left behind scores of the dead and wounded members and fled the battlefront.

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ISIL on Alert in Deir Ezzur after Increased Offensives of Syrian Army

June 21, 2016

TEHRAN (FNA)- Intelligence agents disclosed that relocation of more fresh pro-government forces to Deir Ezzur province and the Syrian army's successful advances against the ISIL in recent days have caused the terrorist group to order forces to be on alert to confront the imminent operation of the army.

"After detonation of two tunnels under the ISIL positions near Deir Ezzur and arrival of popular forces to the battlefields, the Takfiri terrorist group intensified security measures and called on its Hasaba (monitoring system) and police forces to be ready to join battle against the Syrian army and its allies," the sources said.

Reports said on Monday that dozens of ISIL terrorists were killed or wounded after the Syrian army's engineering units detonated two tunnels, filled by explosive materials, under their positions in the Eastern city of Deir Ezzur.

"The Syrian army engineering units detonated two tunnels with the length of 45 and 40 meters and the width of 2 meters filled with explosive materials under the ISIL positions in al-Sina'ah district near Deir Ezzur, which ended in the killing and wounding of scores of the militants," the sources said, adding, "Simultaneous with explosion of the tunnels, the ISIL centers came under the heavy shelling of the army's missile and artillery units, which increased the ISIL casualties."

"Heavy fighting is now underway in Deir Ezzur," the source went on to say.  

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Iraqi Army Kills ISIL Security Service Head in Anbar Province

June 21, 2016

TEHRAN (FNA)- An ISIL terrorist commander in charge of the organization security service was killed in a special operation carried out by the Iraqi army in Anbar province, Iraqi Defense Minister said.

"A special unit of the Iraqi military stormed a building in the Iraqi Anbar province where the head of the ISIL Security Service, Ahmed Madjid, and other terrorist group members were hiding. As a result, Madjid was killed in a shootout together with seven other terrorists," the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) press service cited Iraqi Defense Minister Khalid Obaidi as saying, Ria Novosti reported.

Fighting in the Anbar province is concentrated around the Iraqi army operations near the city of Fallujah against the terrorist group of ISIL.

According to the press service, 377 terrorists were killed in the battle for Fallujah over a three-day period, including 40 snipers. In addition, 45 car-bombs were destroyed, and 516 mines and bombs were neutralized.

Fallujah, located some 42 miles West of the Iraqi capital of Baghdad, is one of the largest cities in the Anbar province. ISIL has been in control of the city since 2014.

On June 17, Iraqi Brigadier General Abdelwahab Saadi said that the Iraqi military operation to liberate Fallujah would be completed in two to three days, once the militants still concentrated in the North of the city had be routed.

Iraqi Kurdistan is an autonomous territory in Northern Iraq, whose status is enshrined in the Iraqi Constitution.

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Stripping Sheikh Qassim of Citizenship to Pour Oil to Bahrain Revolution

June 21, 2016

TEHRAN (FNA)- Rapporteur of the Iranian Parliament's National Security and Foreign Policy Commission Seyed Hossein Naqavi Hosseini blasted the al-Khalifa regime for revoking Shiite cleric Ayatollah Sheikh Issa Qassim's citizenship, and said the measure will spark a major revolution in Bahrain.

"Stripping a citizen of citizenship for criticism and protest at the government's performance will lead the protests towards revolutionary moves and the protests will turn into a revolution," Naqavi Hosseini told FNA on Tuesday.

"When a citizen is revoked of citizenship, it means that the government has drawn a finish line for talks between the opposition and the regime and the opposition forces should resort to other solutions, including revolution, and certainly formation of such a move will lead to the al-Khalifa's annihilation," he added.

Naqavi Hosseini called on the Bahraini government to opt for talks and pursue materialization of people's demands instead of resorting to violent and anti-human rights measures.

Bahrain's Interior Ministry announced in a statement yesterday the country's top Shiite cleric was stripped of his citizenship.

After the development on Monday, Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) Quds Force Commander Major General Qassem Soleimani, in a rare statement, warned the Manama regime that in case of any insult or disrespect for Sheikh Qassim, "the toppling of the regime will only be a small part of the repercussions that will also include armed resistance".

The General blasted the Manama regime for its "unacceptable and inhuman oppression, discrimination, injustice and humiliation" against the Muslim Bahraini nation, and said people on the tiny Persian Gulf island have so far tolerated the Al-Khalifa regime's apartheid and heavy pressures and continued their uprising peacefully despite the fact that a number of their political and religious leaders have been arrested, their women and children have been imprisoned and tortured, some others have been stripped of their citizenship and undergone intensifying pressures with their rights trampled upon.

He said people's rise for their demands in a peaceful way has, unfortunately, emboldened the Al-Khalifa regime to intensify its crimes and crackdown on the Bahraini nation, "specially as a result of the meaningful silence shown by the UN, the US and the Western states," everyday.

"The illegal detention of Sheikh Ali Salman (the head of the main opposition group, Alwefaq) and other political and religious leaders of Bahrain in light of the silence of the international circles has emboldened the Al-Khalifa to threaten the sanctuary of the remarkable cleric and religious leader of Bahrain's Shiites, Ayatollah Sheikh Issa Qassim, and inspired the people of the region and Bahrain with worrying thoughts," General Soleimani said in his statement.

"The Al-Khalifa seems to be misusing the peaceful movement of the people and is miscalculating the extent of public fury," he said, and added, "They certainly know that trespassing the sanctuary of Ayatollah Sheikh Issa Qassim is a redline whose crossing will set fire to Bahrain and the entire region and leave people with no other option, but armed resistance."

"The Al-Khalifa will pay the price of such an action whose endpoint will be nothing but annihilation of this tyrannical regime," the Iranian Quds Force Commander warned.

General Soleimani also warned supporters of the Manama regime that any insult to Ayatollah Sheikh Issa Qassim and continued overpressure on the Bahraini people heralds "a bloody Intifada (uprising) with consequences whose responsibility will fall on those who legitimize the arrogance of the Bahraini rulers".

The latest move by the Bahrain regime against the country’s main opposition figures came as the Al-Kahlifeh regime is exerting mounting pressure on the opposition.

"Isa Ahmed Qassim has been stripped of his Bahraini citizenship," Bahrain state news agency cited the ministry’s statement, referring to the country's most senior Shiite Muslim cleric in Bahrain.

Bahrain has been in the throes of an uprising since February 2011, when hundreds of thousands of protesters took over a Central roundabout in the capital Manama and demanded political and democratic reform in the authoritarian kingdom.

Bahraini authorities backed by Persian Gulf allies, specially Saudi Arabia, violently broke up the protests, leading to the deaths of hundreds of people, and since then rallies have continued and human rights groups have accused the kingdom of imprisoning and torturing thousands of activists. Hundreds of others have gone missing without any trace or state explanation.

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Leader Urges Poets to Publicize US' Disloyalty to JCPOA

June 21, 2016

TEHRAN (FNA)- Supreme Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyed Ali Khamenei called on Iranian poets to highlight and focus on the treacherous behavior of the US concerning its commitments under the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).

"In addition to the politicians, the artists, specially the poets, should transfer these realities to the public," Ayatollah Khamenei said in a meeting with a number of poets and veteran literary people from Iran, Pakistan, Afghanistan and India in Tehran on Monday night.

Iran's Supreme Leader described poets as invaluable assets of the nation and stressed the need for them to compose verses which would be dynamic and timely while offering views on the main issues and needs of the country.

"The poem should be used as an effective instrument in fulfilling responsibilities," the Supreme Leader added.

Last week, Ayatollah Khamenei warned the US presidential candidates to watch their mouth when speaking of the Vienna nuclear deal, stressing that Tehran will also ditch the agreement if future White House leaders show disrespect and discard it.

"We do not violate the JCPOA (Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action also known as the nuclear deal), but if the opposite party violates it and tears it apart as the US presidential candidates state and threaten at present, then we will burn it," Ayatollah Khamenei warned during his remarks at a meeting with the heads of the three branches of power, high-ranking officials and different government bodies and armed forces on the occasion of the holy month of Ramadan here in Tehran.

The Iranian leader's warning was deemed as a general message to the political brass in Washington, but seemed to be more addressed to the US presidential candidate, Donald Trump. The totally estrange presidential nominee has repeatedly warned that he would tear apart and discard the nuclear deal with Iran on day one of office if he is ever elected, while his Democrat rival Hillary Clinton has said that she would remain loyal to the deal although she has vowed to be tough on Iran.

The Iranian leader further blasted the US for hypocrisy in return for Iran's honesty, saying, "As regards the JCPOA, the opposite party has defied its duty that has been removing the sanctions, the problem with the banks has not yet been resolved, the oil tankers insurance is done at a limited scope, the crude revenues and our money that are in other countries are not given back to us and the Americans have not fulfilled a major part of their undertakings, while we have done our part and shut down the 20-percent enrichment at Fordo (nuclear enrichment facility) and Arak (heavy water reactor)."

He also warned that the hostilities between Tehran and Washington would not end as the US is resolved to topple the Islamic Republic. "It is wrong to assume that we can come along with the US, this is wrong and we cannot rely on illusions as their issue is with the life and essence of the Islamic Republic and this cannot be resolved through negotiations."

Yet, Ayatollah Khamenei reiterated that the arrogant party seeking continued animosity is not Tehran, but Washington that wants regime change in Iran.

"Some imagine that hostilities are the result of our belligerence towards the US; (then if that's true) what has the Islamic Republic done to France? Why did France play the bad cop in the nuclear talks and why are the Netherlands and Canada showing enmity (towards Iran)," the Supreme Leader asked.

The US has been lagging in implementation of the last July nuclear deal with Iran. Months after the implementation of the nuclear deal, Iran is complaining that the US has not shown its loyalty to the agreement in action.

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Iran Condemns Manama Regime for Stripping Senior Cleric of Citizenship Rights

June 21, 2016

TEHRAN (FNA)- The Iranian Foreign Ministry in a statement condemned the recent move by the Bahraini regime to strip that country’s most senior Shiite cleric, Sheikh Isa Ahmed Qassim, of his citizenship rights.

The foreign ministry also denounced the Bahraini regime’s intensification of its security approach towards religious and national leaders, opposition to religious beliefs and principles, and misappropriation of religious assets and funds of the Bahraini people.

"Such measures would dash any hope of reforms in Bahrain through dialog and peaceful means," the statement said on Monday.

The Iranian foreign ministry urged the Al-Khalifa regime to end the ongoing crisis in the country by stopping its illegal behavior, avoiding “the destruction of all the bridges for communication with the people and moderate leaders of the country, accepting the realities of the country, and holding serious national dialog.”

Bahrain's Interior Ministry announced in a statement on Monday that the country's top Shiite cleric was stripped of his citizenship.

"Isa Ahmed Qassim has been stripped of his Bahraini citizenship," Bahrain state news agency cited the ministry's statement, referring to the country's most senior Shiite Muslim cleric in Bahrain.

The latest move by the Bahrain regime against the country's main opposition figures came as Al-Khalifa regime is exerting mounting pressure on the opposition.

Opposition members feel the government is willing to accelerate its crackdown on dissent because it believes it will only face minimal censure through statements of concern in the US and Europe. Both the US and UK have large naval bases in Bahrain.

Last week, the government suspended the main Shiite opposition party, al-Wefaq, accusing it of having links to foreign terrorists and inciting hatred. Sheikh Ali Salman, al-Wefaq’s secretary-general, was arrested in 2014 on charges of inciting violence. His sentence was doubled to nine years on appeal last month.

The cabinet decided to revoke the citizenship of Sheikh Isa — an indigenous Bahraini who applied for nationality to get a passport in the 1960s — after a presentation by the interior ministry. The lack of judicial oversight raised concerns among rights groups.

Stripping the nationality of dissidents has become a popular tool for Persian Gulf Arab littoral states battling domestic dissent, such as Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates, where nationality is perceived by many as a privilege not a right.

The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights says more than 250 Bahrainis have been stripped of their nationality for alleged disloyalty.

The move by the Manama regime has also caused anger in Iran.

Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) Quds Force Commander Major General Qassem Soleimani warned the Manama regime to stay away from Bahraini Shiite cleric or wait for dire repercussions, including armed struggle by people and overthrow of the Al-Khalifa dynasty.

In a rare statement issued on Monday, General Soleimani warned the Manama regime that in case of any insult or disrespect for Sheikh Qassim, "the toppling of the regime will only be a small part of the repercussions that will also include armed resistance".

The General blasted the Manama regime for its "unacceptable and inhuman oppression, discrimination, injustice and humiliation" against the Muslim Bahraini nation, and said people on the tiny Persian Gulf island have so far tolerated the Al-Khalifa regime's apartheid and heavy pressures and continued their uprising peacefully despite the fact that a number of their political and religious leaders have been arrested, their women and children have been imprisoned and tortured, some others have been stripped of their citizenship and undergone intensifying pressures with their rights trampled upon.

He said people's rise for their demands in a peaceful way has, unfortunately, emboldened the Al-Khalifa regime to intensify its crimes and crackdown of the Bahraini nation, "specially as a result of the meaningful silence shown by the UN, the US and the Western states," everyday.

"The illegal detention of Sheikh Ali Salman (the head of the main opposition group, Al-Wefaq) and other political and religious leaders of Bahrain in light of the silence of the international circles has emboldened the Al-Khalifa to threaten the sanctuary of the remarkable cleric and religious leader of Bahrain's Shiites, Ayatollah Sheikh Isa Qassim, and inspired the people of the region and Bahrain with worrying thoughts," General Soleimani said in his statement.

"The Al-Khalifa seems to be misusing the peaceful movement of the people and is miscalculating the extent of public fury," he said, and added, "They certainly know that trespassing the sanctuary of Ayatollah Sheikh Isa Qassim is a redline whose crossing will set fire to Bahrain and the entire region and leave people with no other option, but armed resistance."

"The Al-Khalifa will pay the price of such an action whose endpoint will be nothing but annihilation of this tyrannical regime," the Iranian Quds Force Commander warned.

General Soleimani also warned supporters of the Manama regime that any insult to Ayatollah Sheikh Isa Qassim and continued overpressure on the Bahraini people heralds "a bloody Intifada (uprising) with consequences whose responsibility will fall on those who legitimize the arrogance of the Bahraini rulers".

The Human Rights Watch also lashed out the Manama regime for stripping Sheikh Isa Qassim of his citizenship.

“The decision to strip Sheikh Isa Qassim of his citizenship takes Bahrain into the darkest days it has seen since the protests and crackdown of 2011,” Human Rights Watch said in a statement. “The Bahraini authorities are shutting the door on political reform, while simultaneously stoking dissent. These actions should be met with serious consequences, not expressions of concern.”

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Iranian Speaker Raps Bahraini Rulers for Revoking Sheikh Qassim of Citizenship

June 21, 2016

TEHRAN (FNA)- Iranian Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani lambasted Manama for striping Shiite cleric Ayatollah Sheikh Issa Qassim of citizenship, and described it as an indication of the Bahraini regime's imminent collapse.

"Such measures indicate the last breaths of a regime which threatens the figures of its nation with revoking citizenship," Larijani said, addressing an open session of the parliament in Tehran on Tuesday.

"The Iranian parliament condemns this naïve measure by the al-Khalifa and warns the Bahraini rulers that this insult to Ayatollah Sheikh Isa Qassim is a reckless adventure, spoils all hopes to reach a peaceful solution and leads the tormented and deprived people towards rebellion and disobedience," he added.

Larijani advised the al-Khalifa regime to take lessons from the fate of past dictators in the region, including the last Shah of Iran, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, and said the Bahraini rulers don’t have even one thousandth of the past dictators' soldiers and support.

Bahrain's Interior Ministry announced in a statement yesterday the country's top Shiite cleric was stripped of his citizenship.

After the development on Monday, Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) Quds Force Commander Major General Qassem Soleimani, in a rare statement, warned the Manama regime that in case of any insult or disrespect for Sheikh Qassim, "the toppling of the regime will only be a small part of the repercussions that will also include armed resistance".

The General blasted the Manama regime for its "unacceptable and inhuman oppression, discrimination, injustice and humiliation" against the Muslim Bahraini nation, and said people on the tiny Persian Gulf island have so far tolerated the Al-Khalifa regime's apartheid and heavy pressures and continued their uprising peacefully despite the fact that a number of their political and religious leaders have been arrested, their women and children have been imprisoned and tortured, some others have been stripped of their citizenship and undergone intensifying pressures with their rights trampled upon.

He said people's rise for their demands in a peaceful way has, unfortunately, emboldened the Al-Khalifa regime to intensify its crimes and crackdown on the Bahraini nation, "specially as a result of the meaningful silence shown by the UN, the US and the Western states," everyday.

"The illegal detention of Sheikh Ali Salman (the head of the main opposition group, Alwefaq) and other political and religious leaders of Bahrain in light of the silence of the international circles has emboldened the Al-Khalifa to threaten the sanctuary of the remarkable cleric and religious leader of Bahrain's Shiites, Ayatollah Sheikh Issa Qassim, and inspired the people of the region and Bahrain with worrying thoughts," General Soleimani said in his statement.

"The Al-Khalifa seems to be misusing the peaceful movement of the people and is miscalculating the extent of public fury," he said, and added, "They certainly know that trespassing the sanctuary of Ayatollah Sheikh Issa Qassim is a redline whose crossing will set fire to Bahrain and the entire region and leave people with no other option, but armed resistance."

"The Al-Khalifa will pay the price of such an action whose endpoint will be nothing but annihilation of this tyrannical regime," the Iranian Quds Force Commander warned.

General Soleimani also warned supporters of the Manama regime that any insult to Ayatollah Sheikh Issa Qassim and continued overpressure on the Bahraini people heralds "a bloody Intifada (uprising) with consequences whose responsibility will fall on those who legitimize the arrogance of the Bahraini rulers".

The latest move by the Bahrain regime against the country’s main opposition figures came as the Al-Kahlifeh regime is exerting mounting pressure on the opposition.

"Isa Ahmed Qassim has been stripped of his Bahraini citizenship," Bahrain state news agency cited the ministry’s statement, referring to the country's most senior Shiite Muslim cleric in Bahrain.

Bahrain has been in the throes of an uprising since February 2011, when hundreds of thousands of protesters took over a Central roundabout in the capital Manama and demanded political and democratic reform in the authoritarian kingdom.

Bahraini authorities backed by Persian Gulf allies, specially Saudi Arabia, violently broke up the protests, leading to the deaths of hundreds of people, and since then rallies have continued and human rights groups have accused the kingdom of imprisoning and torturing thousands of activists. Hundreds of others have gone missing without any trace or state explanation.

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International Yoga Day: Yoga In Unexpected Places Like Qatar

June 21, 2016

Living a life based on the teachings of the Prophet Muhammad is important to Noor, ever since she converted to Islam 17 years ago. French-born Noor wears a face veil (niqab) and is also a yoga instructor in Qatar where she teaches women-only classes. She does not see any conflict between her faith and yoga. If anything, the two go hand in hand.

"Yoga and Islam are both very spiritual, the roots are the same, they both come from an oral tradition, through a chain of masters teaching their students how to reach God ... if yoga can help people practise their Islamic faith in a more mindful and peaceful way, then why not?"

Noor is not your typical yoga teacher. She is bringing this ancient Indian practice to other Muslim women in her community, helping to change attitudes in a traditionally conservative region. She reflects the remarkable journey of yoga in modern times.

Millions of people across the world are marking the second International Yoga Day on June 21. The brainchild of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi who is an enthusiastic yoga practitioner himself, the UN-sponsored day has been endorsed by an unprecedented 175 countries, including Qatar.

In the past 20 years this ancient spiritual practice has been thrust from society's fringes into the mainstream. Millions of people practise some form of yoga, spawning a multibillion-dollar industry catering to every kind of consumer. Yoga studios are ubiquitous in towns and cities across the world. And yoga is increasingly offered in schools, hospitals, prisons and offices, from Melbourne to Malibu. 

Diversity of yoga

Part of yoga's appeal and rising popularity is its ability to be interpreted and shaped by the culture or society in which it is practised. Traditional styles of yoga such as Iyengar or Ashtanga co-exist alongside more new-age forms such as boxing yoga or rave yoga, even Christian yoga.

Some religious conservatives complain that yoga is rooted in the religions of the Indian sub-continent, notably Hinduism and Buddhism. This perception has restricted the rise of yoga in conservative Islamic societies such as Qatar, where it can be seen as blasphemous. The small Gulf nation is governed by an austere form of Islam known as Wahhabism, which views yoga with suspicion. Despite its global popularity, many Muslims feel that practising yoga is tantamount to practising another religion.

Noor disagrees. "Yoga is not a religion," she told Al Jazeera. "It is a discipline."

The reason Noor is able to practise and teach yoga at all, is because of Valerie Jeremijenko. She is an early pioneer of yoga in Qatar, perhaps the earliest. Valerie has been a yoga teacher in Qatar for the past 15 years and has operated her own studio, Yama Yoga, since 2009. She also runs a successful teacher-training programme. However, while the perception of yoga is changing, she still faces some, mostly cultural or social, difficulties.

"This has less to do with yoga and more to do with Qatar's licensing laws that do not like mixed male-female classes or recognise yoga outside of a sport," Valerie told Al Jazeera.

Valerie said that the kinds of yoga that took off in the West, physically demanding practices such as Ashtanga and hot yoga, were rooted in the Protestant work ethic, and as such, don't really suit traditional Qatari society.

"The daily ethic of a rigorous practice is not really part of the Qatari culture, nor is individual expression ... so yoga as it is practised in the West does not really work with the traditional Qatari way of life," she added.

Change and challenges

However, things are changing. Thirty-year-old Heba is a Qatari businesswoman and yoga practitioner who runs her own beauty salon. She has been practising yoga for more than 12 years.

She told Al Jazeera: "In our Muslim prayer we have some common poses as yoga. These similarities made me more aware of both practices, yoga and prayer. It helped me become calm and take my time in prayer rather than rushing it, correcting my posture ... resulting in a much more enlightening experience."

But things were not always so simple for Heba. When she first started practising yoga, mixed classes were not an option.

"I had to practise yoga privately for the longest time until the taboo surrounding yoga began to shatter and it became just another sport," she said.

Today, there are dozens of places in Qatar where you can practise yoga. And it is already an established industry in much of the West. The current Indian government is aggressively championing yoga as a holistic approach to health and wellbeing, using it as a form of soft power.

People such as Heba, Noor and Valerie are blazing a humble trail in a region without a yoga tradition. They show how the perception of yoga has changed over time and why the United Nations decided it was a good idea to celebrate it once a year, in effect rubber-stamping, some would say politicising, its global success.

aljazeera.com/news/2016/06/international-yoga-day-yoga-unexpected-places-160621033833211.html

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India

RSS wants Muslims to call Hindu neighbours for Iftar this Ramzan

June 21, 2016

The Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) wants Muslims to embrace Hindus on Eid and Ramzan. The Muslim Rashtriya Manch (MRM), an RSS-backed minority organisation patronised by Sangh pracharak Indresh Kumar, has appealed the community to take a collective vow with their Hindu neighbours not to let communal strife start from their locality.

According to Kumar, the Manch has requested the Muslims of India as well as the world to commemorate the holy month of Ramzan and Eid by a communal iftar.

BONDS OF HARMONY

The community has been requested to celebrate the festival on a locality level where Hindus too can be invited to iftar parties. It is here that the two communities should take a collective vow that irrespective of what happens in any part of India, they will not fight amongst themselves and will not let their locality become a flashpoint of violence.

"Muslims must try to convene iftar at the most local level of 'galis' and 'mohallas' or at the colony level where people from all religions and castes and parties can participate. At the time of breaking the fast, all must take a vow that irrespective of what is going on in the world or India, they will make their locality riot-free because charity begins at home," Kumar told

Moreover, the RSS wants all Muslims to plant tulsi (Myrtle or sweet basil) in their houses during the holy month of Ramzan. The MRM claimed that the plant finds an exalted place not just in Hinduism, but also in Islam.

"We want all Muslim families to plant a tree outside their house and a tulsi plant inside. We have done this to tackle environmental pollution. Moreover, tulsi plant has been called 'Reyhan' (also Rehaan) or the plant of 'Jannat' (heaven) in the Arabic language," said Kumar. The third commitment that Muslims are expected to keep is that the concept of zakat or charity must be widened to include the "last person in the line" irrespective of his/her religious or group identity.

"The last person in the social ladder must be the aim of zakat. We appeal to all our Muslim brethren to help at least one poor person to celebrate Eid properly this year by way of their charity. The poor must not feel that they cannot celebrate Eid and cannot become a part of this collective happiness," Kumar said.

indiatoday.intoday.in/story/rss-asks-muslims-to-plant-tulsi-in-their-houses-this-ramzan/1/696190.html

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Islamic State Kills 14 in Afghanistan: Two Indian Nationals Among Victims

June 21, 2016

KABUL — Two Indians were among 14 people, providing security to the Canadian embassy here, killed when a suicide bomber targeted their mini bus in the Afghan capital June 20, Indian and Afghan authorities said, while two other blasts claimed 10 more lives elsewhere in the country.

Most of the other killed were Nepalese.

Indian External Affairs Spokesperson Vikas Swarup said that the ministry learned that two Indian nationals, Ganesh Thapa and Govind Singh from Dehradun died in the blast in Kabul. He tweeted that "government is in touch with the families of Indian nationals & is working with the Afghan government to repatriate their mortal remains at the earliest.”

"The two Indians were working for a private security company Sabre International and probably deployed at the Canadian Embassy," he added.

The suicide bomber approached the bus in Banahi area along Pul-e-Charkhi road which is also called Jalalabad road at around 5.40 a.m., before detonating his explosives, the Afghan interior ministry statement said.

Five Nepalese and four Afghans were wounded in the attack.

The attacker too was killed on the spot and the blast also damaged several civilian vehicles and shops nearby.

Both the Islamic State terrorist group and the Taliban claimed responsibility for the bloodbath.

Zabiullah Mujahid, a purported Taliban spokesman, said over 20 people were killed or wounded in the attack. It said its "fighters" carried out the operation.

The killings drew swift condemnation in Afghanistan, Nepal, India and Pakistan.

President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani in a statement released by his office blamed the enemies of Afghanistan for the attacks, saying the terrorists by conducting subversive activities in the Muslim holy month of Ramadan want to terrorize the people.

In his message, the president also expressed sympathy with the families of the Nepalese and Afghan victims.

The Afghan government's Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah said: "I condemn the terrorist attack on those travelling to their work places in Kabul. This attack is an act of terror and intimidation."

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi "strongly condemned the horrible tragedy" and offered "deep condolences" to the governments and people of Afghanistan and Nepal.

Nepal reacted with grief and shock.

Prime Minister K.P. Sharma Oli said: "I am shocked to hear that 14 Nepalis were killed. I express my heartfelt condolences to their kin."

He wished early recovery to those injured in the horrific incident.

Nepal has no embassy in Afghanistan. Its mission in Islamabad oversees the Afghan affairs.

The Nato-led Resolute Support Mission said: "The Taliban's actions repeatedly harm civilians in an effort to undermine the government."

A similar bombing in a bazaar in Kasham district of the northern Badakhshan province at around 10 a.m. claimed the lives of 10 civilians and injured 40 others, according to provincial government spokesman Nawed Frotan.

A bomb blast injured five people including a member of the Kabul provincial council Attaullah Faizani on the same day.

Afghans from all walks of life have strongly condemned the three bombings in a single day as a cowardly act of terror, calling upon the militants to respect Ramadan.

Kabul resident Abdul Ghani said, "Ramadan is the month of peace and reconciliation and killing people in this month is against teaching of Islam.”

Earlier on the eve of Ramadan, Ulema — religious scholars — had asked the Taliban to halt hostilities or at least observe a ceasefire during Ramadan.

However, the Taliban outfit described Ramadan as the month of Jihad or holy war and victory and vowed to intensify fighting in the month of Ramadan, a statement that has been widely condemned by Afghans.

The Taliban-led insurgency has been rampant since early April when the group launched its annual offensive in different places, claiming hundreds of lives including militants, security personnel and civilians.

The Taliban has urged civilians to stay away from official gatherings, military convoys and centers regarded as legitimate targets by militants besides warning people not to support the government.

The Taliban has waged an insurgency since 2001. NATO ended its combat mission in December, 2014 though some 13,000 training and counter-terrorism troops remain in Afghanistan.

Peace efforts have stalled after the Taliban refused to participate in new talks with Kabul until foreign forces leave the country.

indiawest.com/news/india/islamic-state-kills-in-afghanistan-two-indian-nationals-among-victims/article_af5002c0-3723-11e6-92f6-ab3d49e4923e.html

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Yoga no religious activity, it’s a global mass movement: PMModi

Jun 21, 2016

Yoga is not a religious activity and people must embrace it for better mental and physical health, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said in Chandigarh on Tuesday.

Thousands of Indians celebrated the second International Yoga Day by performing postures of the ancient discipline across the country.

Addressing people at the Capitol Complex in Chandigarh before a mass yoga session, Modi said:“It is probably the first time that a day has become mass movement.”

Addressing some 30,000 yoga enthusiasts, he said yoga helped control the mind and help people to lead a disciplined life.

“Yoga is not a religious activity. Many people do not understand yoga completely. It is not what you will get from yoga but what is important is what you will give to yoga and what all (ailments) will it rid you of...It helps is getting mukti (salvation) from health issues,” Modi said, in an apparent attempt to de-link the belief among some that yoga was a part of Hinduism.

Modi said yoga was for both believers and non-believers, and there was no need to create any controversy over it.

He announced two annual awards will be given from next year: for doing exceptional work for promotion of yoga at the international and national levels.

The Prime Minister later got down from the stage from where he addressed the gathering and shook hands with differently abled yoga enthusiasts.

Donning T-shirts and track-pants, the yoga enthusiasts, shortlisted to perform yoga, had begun lining up around the spruced up complex around 4am on Tuesday.

Over 96,000 people had registered themselves to take part in the Chandigarh event. Of this, over 30,000 were picked, including 10,000 each from Chandigarh, Punjab and Haryana.

At least 7,000 security personnel, including 4,000 paramilitary jawans and 3,000 officers of Chandigarh Police, were guarding the venue in the city where prohibitory orders have been issued at several places.

The Union Territory administration, along with Ayush ministry, spent over Rs 14 crore on the event and the four-day yoga festival held in different areas of Chandigarh.

“Among all days marked by the UN, no day has equalled the mass movement the International Yoga Day has become. It has become the biggest mass movement worldwide,” said Modi, who was instrumental in getting the UN to declare June 21 as the International Yoga Day.

The United Nations General Assembly declared June 21 as the International Day of Yoga in December 2014. Over 190 countries, including 40 Islamic nations, supported the move to have a special day for yoga.

The first International Yoga Day was observed across the world on June 21 last year with Modi performing yoga along with 36,000 people at New Delhi’s historic Rajpath.

hindustantimes.com/india-news/yoga-day-has-become-a-mass-movement-pm-modi/story-UroZw7NUV3khjA6mtclLwM.html

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Delhi: The RSS has invited ambassadors from nearly 140 countries to attend an iftar party at Parliament House Annexe on July 2, as per a media report.

Monday, June 20, 2016

According to Mail Today, the event organised by RSS propped body, patronised by Sangh pracharak Indresh Kumar, Muslim Rashtriya Manch (MRM), also has Pakistan on the invitee list.

Reacting to the upcoming event, Kumar told the website, "The MRM, which is an organisation of - and for - Muslims, have organised this mega international iftar party. Muslim intellectuals from across the country would be participating in this event, apart from representatives from Muslim as well as non-Muslim countries.The aim is to tell the world that Indian-ness and the Indian culture are an umbrella under which people from all nationalities and religions live with equal rights and dignity.India is a symbol of world peace."

He added, "India is a ray of hope and peace for the Muslim world. I hope this is the line of approach of all the speakers at the party."

However, Kumar pointed out that the event was being "organised by Muslims and for the Muslim community. The Sangh does not organise iftar and this is not being done by the RSS either."

On the other hand, MRM chief Mohammad Afzal was quoted by Mail Today as saying "This time we have invited ambassadors from over 140 countries, including Pakistan... Not just Muslim, but non-Muslim allies and friends of India have been invited... We want to dispel the propaganda that Muslims are not happy or at peace in India. We want to give the message to the world that this (Modi) government is a good government for Muslims."

zeenews.india.com/news/india/rss-affiliate-body-muslim-rashtriya-manch-invites-140-countries-to-iftar-party-including-pakistan_1897950.html   

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Rajnath Singh offers Chadar & attends Iftar Party

June 21, 2016

Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh tonight attended a Roza Iftar at Dada Mia Mazar in Dilkusha Garden in the state capital.

Mr Singh while wishing everyone on the occasion of holy month of Ramzan refused to speak anything on politics.

Earlier, Mr Singh a local MP was given a warm welcome at the airport on his two-day visit to Lucknow.

siasat.com/news/pics-rajnath-singh-offers-chadar-attends-iftar-party-975583/

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Mideast

CHP’s refugee report reveals widespread child abuse, child labor in Turkey

June 21, 2016

A report prepared by the main opposition Republic People’s Party (CHP) has shone a light on bitter truths about the conditions of Syrians in Turkey, with children particularly vulnerable to violence, sexual abuse and hunger.

The age of many children forced into prostitution by gangs starts at 12 or 13, according to the report prepared under CHP Deputy Chair Veli Ağababa and also printed as a book.

The project was initiated after the photo showing the body of Alan Kurdi, a three-year-old Syrian boy who washed ashore in the Turkish resort of Bodrum on Sept. 2 last year, shaking the world.

Launching the report on June 20, Ağbaba said it was the result of a 10-month study.

“The [Justice and Development Party] AKP’s approach is not a contemporary one based on human rights. Refugees in our country face vast human rights abuses and are used as a bargaining tool for the AKP to reach its political goals,” he added.

The report says that the state fails to prevent gangs in Turkey from exploiting the helplessness of Syrian women, while it quotes witnesses as saying that Christian Syrians in Turkey are “in fear” due to the activities of some Islamist groups in the country.

Nearly 2.5 million refugees in Turkey live outside the official camps, the report stated.

“Families of 21, with 15 children, try to live on food assistance from neighbors, living in single-room houses with no bathroom or electricity. Babies die of cold, while young girls face sexual abuse in the name of so-called ‘marriages’ in exchange for house rent, or they are forced to become ‘second ’ or ‘third’ wives. All these things are being overlooked by the state,” the report said.

Violence and xenophobia against refugees is also rising in Turkey, it added, also calculating that around half of the refugees in Turkey are under the age of 18.

It cited sources as saying that up to 5 percent of Syrian children in Turkey are forced to marry or sold as third or fourth wives.

The municipality of Seyhan, a district in the southern province of Adana, concluded in a recent study, also included in the CHP’s report, that around 16 percent of refugee children in the district between the ages of 12 and 17 were “married.” Some 40 percent of the girls in this category are pregnant, according to the report.

The CHP’s inspectors also witnessed children as young as 5 working at textile manufacturers, a sector where child labor is widely abused.

Meanwhile, the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) also issued a press statement to mark International Refugees Day, calling on Ankara to provide a permanent status to refugees - rather than seeing them as temporary guests - in order to fully undertake the state’s legal responsibilities.

“The political authorities are today continuing an unethical and unlawful bargain with the European Union, violating international and human rights law, instead of taking steps to lift its reservations on items of international agreements,” the HDP stated.

hurriyetdailynews.com/chps-refugee-report-reveals-widespread-child-abuse-child-labor-in-turkey.aspx?pageID=238&nID=100711&NewsCatID=338

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Erdoğan condemns ‘both sides’ over Istanbul record store attack

June 21, 2016

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said on June 19 that both the attackers and the attendees of a listening party for Radiohead’s new album were wrong, after a violent attack targeted a record store in the Beyoğlu district of Istanbul on June 17.

“To intervene with force is as wrong as engaging in such an event that poured onto the streets during Ramadan. Both sides are wrong. Those who do not respect the sensibilities of their own nation and city and those who respond to this with an undemocratic reaction unfortunately overshadowed our hospitality with the brawl they started,” Erdoğan said.

“But I say clearly that those who want to distort this simple event to create a legend about ‘an attack against those who do not fast’ are malevolent and ill-minded,” he added, speaking at an iftar dinner hosting artists at the Huber Palace in Istanbul’s Tarabya district.

A group of 20 assailants carrying sticks and bottles attacked the Velvet IndieGround, beating up store owners and Radiohead fans who were at the listening party of the band’s latest album, “A Moon Shaped Pool.”

Fans were listening to music and drinking alcohol when a group of angry men burst into the store and assaulted them. One of the fans was injured after being hit with a bottle while the record store was also vandalized.

Radiohead issued a statement condemning the attack.

Three suspects were detained over the assault but all were released on June 19.

Meanwhile, police fired teargas and used water cannons to disperse around 300 protesters who gathered in Firuzağa Square in Istanbul’s Cihangir neighborhood to protest the attack on June 18.

hurriyetdailynews.com/erdogan-condemns-both-sides-over-istanbul-record-store-attack.aspx?pageID=238&nID=100678&NewsCatID=338

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Israel, Turkey may strike deal on June 26

June 21, 2016

Strained relations between once close allies Turkey and Israel may be nearing recovery, with both parties agreeing to conclude a deal on June 26, sources have said.

Delegations from both sides, headed by Turkish Foreign Ministry Undersecretary Feridun Sinirlioğlu and the Israeli prime minister’s special envoy, Joseph Ciechanover, will meet on June 26 to declare that they have reached a deal to end the six-year-long conflict, according to high-level sources speaking on condition of anonymity.

The relationship between Turkey and Israel was severely strained after the Gaza-bound Mavi Marmara vessel was raided by Israeli commandos in 2010, killing nine Turkish citizens and one Turkish-American citizen on board.

Sources said that after the declaration on June 26, the agreement would be finalized and signed in July by the Foreign Ministry undersecretaries of both countries.

With the reciprocal reappointment of ambassadors, diplomatic relations are expected to be normalized by the end of July. 

If all this passes without a hitch, both countries’ reservations regarding each other in international agreements will also be lifted. As a result, the last obstacles to joint military exercises, joint energy investments, and joint defense investments will also be removed.

Upon Turkey’s demand, Israel apologized to Turkey in 2013, in what many thought would trigger a warming in ties. But tensions soared again the following year after Israel launched a military offensive in Gaza.

After years of bitter accusations and inflammatory rhetoric, the two sides started holding secret talks in December 2015 to seek a rapprochement, with other rounds taking place in Geneva and London in 2016.

Compensation for the Mavi Marmara victims and the lifting of the blockade on Gaza were the other two conditions that Turkey demanded from Israel in exchange for a repairing of relations.

Both parties have previously signaled that the issue regarding the compensation to be paid to the families of the Mavi Marmara victims has been resolved, though an official announcement on the issue was never made.

Sources said the two sides have met halfway on Turkey’s last and most controversial condition – the lifting of the embargo on Gaza. Accordingly, Israel has accepted the finalization of procedures for a hospital to be be built to serve Gazans, and will not put forward any obstacles to Turkish supplies of medicine and personnel for the hospital.

Meanwhile, Turkey and Germany will jointly build an energy power plant in Gaza to supply the electricity demand in the region, while Turkey will also construct a sea water distillation plant.

All the aid from Turkey will be delivered to Gaza on condition that it is transferred from the Ashdod port.

The steps for normalization of ties come after Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım sent reconciliatory messages to Israel on June 17.

“We are coming to a point with Israel. They are also showing the will. There are contacts. It’s not concluded yet but I don’t think it will take long. The most important thing here is lifting the isolation of Gaza for humanitarian purposes,” Yıldırım had said

hurriyetdailynews.com/israel-turkey-may-strike-deal-on-june-26.aspx?pageID=238&nID=100701&NewsCatID=510

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In-house fight at MHP enters new legal dispute

June 21, 2016

The ongoing internal fight within the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) has entered a new dimension, as the legality of changes made to the party’s internal regulations on June 19 has created a new dispute.

The source of legal confusion is the fact that the opposition block within the party changed 14 articles of the MHP’s internal regulations instead of the previously announced single amendment, as MHP leader Devlet Bahçeli and his aides argued these changes would likely be nullified by the Supreme Court of Appeals.

The MHP’s internal struggle for a leadership change took a new course following the extraordinary party convention held in Ankara on June 19, despite resistance from Bahçeli. Led by four prominent candidates, namely Meral Akşener, Sinan Oğan, Ümit Özdağ and Koray Aydın, the opposition group could garner enough support to hold the convention and remove all legal hurdles in front of challenging current leader Bahçeli at an extraordinary convention on July 10.

The aim of the convention was to remove the article which made a leadership change at an extraordinary convention impossible. However, last minute proposals to change more articles of the internal regulation to prevent the MHP from imposing disciplinary actions against Bahçeli rivals created a political and legal dispute.

Oğan, Özdağ and Aydın stressed they had no information about these changes, implying their unease with the Akşener-led move. 

On the legal side, the changes crafted at the convention will first have to be sent to the MHP’s headquarters for approval. But as the MHP has already said it will not recognize the convention and its results, it won’t approve the changes to the internal regulation. In this case, the opposition will apply to the Supreme Court of Appeals to force the MHP to approve the changes. 

“The Supreme Court of Appeals will examine the changes and minutes of the convention. The changes we have made will be applicable in the case the court does not find any violation of the constitution,” said Ayhan Erel, the spokesperson of the trustee board appointed by the court to hold the June 19 convention.

The MHP leadership, however, believe that these changes will not be approved by the court on the grounds that the opposition violated the law by proposing changes which were not announced in advance. The MHP delegates were invited to the convention for just one change to the internal regulation, it claimed.

Oğan still MHP member

Meanwhile, the Supreme Court of Appeals on June 20 annulled a decision by the MHP to dismiss Oğan from the nationalist party for disciplinary reasons.

The MHP disciplinary board had dismissed Oğan’s membership in the party after an inquiry into his statements against Bahçeli. After a lower court ruled to annual the disciplinary move, the MHP leadership appealed to the Supreme Court of Appeals.

“From the very beginning, I have expressed my confidence in the Turkish justice [system]. I do so again. Justice stood with me at a time when interventions on the judiciary have been increasing,” Oğan said.

hurriyetdailynews.com/in-house-fight-at-mhp-enters-new-legal-dispute.aspx?pageID=238&nID=100697&NewsCatID=338

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Hürriyet’s New York correspondent detained by police in Istanbul released

June 21, 2016

Hürriyet’s New York and United Nations correspondent Razi Canikligil was released on the morning of June 21 after he was detained upon arrival at Istanbul’s Atatürk Airport.

Canikligil arrived in Istanbul from Paris for a vacation with his family at around 8.40 p.m. on June 20. Police detained him as he was passing through passport control.

He was later released after he testified to a prosecutor.

Erem Turgut Yücel, the chief legal officer of Doğan Holding, which owns daily Hürriyet, said Canikligil’s detention was the result of a mistake in the system regarding a previous arrest warrant.

“We expect him to be released after the system mistake is corrected,” Yücel said.

He added that a local court in Ankara had issued an arrest warrant for Canikligil in 2015 over his social media posts after a complaint from Union of Chambers and Commodity Exchanges of Turkey (TOBB) head Rifat Hisarcıklıoğlu, but the prosecutor’s office decided not to prosecute him.

Yücel suggested that the arrest warrant was probably still in the system due to a technical mistake, noting that Canikligil had come to Turkey in 2015 but was not detained.

The United Nations Correspondent Association (UNCA) condemned Canikligil’s detention in a statement.

“Our UNCA member and colleague from the Turkish media Hurriyet, Razi Canikligil, was detained today in Istanbul by Turkish police. We are told he is accused based on articles and tweets he wrote about the Turkish authorities. The UNCA considers this a grave violation of freedom of the press,” the statement said.

hurriyetdailynews.com/hurriyets-new-york-correspondent-detained-by-police-in-istanbul-released.aspx?pageID=238&nID=100713&NewsCatID=339

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Minibus Loaded With 1 Ton of Explosives Found In Southeast Of Turkey

June 21, 2016

Police in the south-eastern province of Diyarbakır discovered a minibus loaded with one ton of explosives in the province’s Ergani district on late June 20.

The explosives in the minibus, which was carrying a fake plate, were deactivated by bomb experts after police teams evacuated nearby houses and blocked the entrances and exits to the neighbourhood of the scene. 

The vehicle was taken to a police station, while an investigation was ongoing.

Meanwhile, a curfew was declared early on June 21 in 25 Diyarbakır villages located within the Lice, Hani, Silvan and Hazro districts, as security forces initiated a wide-scale operation against the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) militants in the region. 

As part of the operation, armored vehicles and professional teams were dispatched to the area.

The Turkish Armed Forces (TSK), meanwhile, carried out aerial operations against PKK targets in rural areas of Lice and northern Iraq’s Kandil, Sinat and Haftanin regions late on June 20, according to a statement posted on its official website.

hurriyetdailynews.com/minibus-loaded-with-1-ton-of-explosives-found-in-southeast-.aspx?pageID=238&nID=100715&NewsCatID=341

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Europe

The next E.U. president says Islam has ‘no place’ in his country

Tuesday 21 June 2016

One of the causes driving the Brexit movement -- the desire in Britain to quit the European Union -- is fear over immigration and refugees. Backers of the Leave campaign, whose hopes may come to fruition at a referendum later this week,  have argued that the continent's existing policy allowing freedom of movement and proposals to accommodate an influx of refugees from the Middle East and elsewhere are simply unacceptable.

Ironically, that's an argument for which the leader of the country slated to assume the presidency of the European Council, the executive body heading up the European Union, would feel sympathy.

The job of the presidency rotates every six months between E.U. member states. Next week, Slovakia will replace the Netherlands. And its prime minister, Robert Fico, has been one of the more outspoken European leaders on the subject of Muslim immigration.

“Islam has no place in Slovakia," Fico told reporters in May. He warned that "migrants change the character of our country," and declared he wouldn't allow such change to affect his nation.

Fico has made similar pronouncements over the past year, as Syria's escalating humanitarian crisis spilled over into Europe, bringing an unprecedented wave of migrants and refugees to the continent's borders. German Chancellor Angela Merkel bucked popular opinion and welcomed refugees in 2015 -- with roughly 1 million migrants arriving in Germany -- but her decision fueled widespread ire, and gave momentum to her country's Euroskeptic far-right.

Fico, like other politicians from Eastern and Central Europe, has argued both that his country has no obligation to house refugees and that, unlike the United States and leading Western European nations, had little experience of Muslim immigration.

"Since Slovakia is a Christian country, we cannot tolerate an influx of 300,000-400,000 Muslim immigrants who would like to start building mosques all over our land and trying to change the nature, culture and values of the state," he said in January 2015. (Never mind that Slovakia's present Muslim population is a fraction of a percentage point of its population and that no Brussels policy maker expects it to accommodate a particularly large number of asylum seekers.)

After some Muslim migrants were implicated in a spate of attacks on women in public spaces in the German city of Cologne around New Year's Eve, Fico declared this January that he would "never make a voluntary decision that would lead to the formation of a unified Muslim community in Slovakia." He went on: "Multiculturalism is a fiction. Once you let migrants in, you can face such problems."

Fico has indicated that the burden to deal with the consequences of conflicts in the Middle East and North Africa lie further west and mocked Germany for treating Muslim immigrants as a “protected species.”

"I only have one question: Who bombed Libya?" Fico said in August, referring to the 2011 NATO intervention against the regime of Libyan dictator Moammar Gaddafi. "Who created problems in North Africa? Slovakia? No." A spokesman from Slovakia's Interior Ministry suggested last year that, if the country would take in Syrian refugees, they would have to be Christian.

Though a veteran center-left politician, Fico's anti-immigrant populism is in part seen as an attempt to head off far-right politics within Slovakia. But it hasn't impressed European policy-makers and officials who are still working to push through a deal that will establish mandatory quotas of asylum seekers each E.U. member state would have to accommodate.

“I don’t think anyone is very enthusiastic about the Slovak presidency,” one Brussels official told Politico Europe. “We are in the middle of a huge reform on migration, and we’re almost over. How are we going to be led by a country which will torpedo any plan on migration?”

washingtonpost.com/news/worldviews/wp/2016/06/21/the-next-e-u-president-says-islam-has-no-place-in-his-country/

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First Islamophobia summit to be held in Europe

JUNE 20 2016

obia Summit will take place this coming weekend in Sarajevo and a member of the summit advisory panel told The Jerusalem Post that the continent is in a “dangerous moment.”

“People in Europe had previously been uncomfortable with the Muslim presence, but the refugee crisis has brought the issue out into the open,” said Muddassar Ahmed, who also is a Patron at the Faiths Forum for London.

Cultural misunderstandings are becoming more common and long-time established Muslim communities that have been present on the continent for 40 to 50 years is having to deal with discrimination caused by the influx of Middle Eastern migrants and refugees, he said.

“We are at a dangerous moment with Brexit and the rise of far right parties in the EU,” said Ahmed, adding that anti-Semitism and anti-immigrant feelings are on the rise.

The summit, which has a website at islamophobiasummit.com will include political, academic, and civil society leaders in order to seek policy solutions to increasing anti-Muslim rhetoric.

“Islamophobia operates by constructing a static ‘Muslim’ identity, which is attributed in negative terms and generalized for all Muslims,” states the summit website.

The summit will result in a report to be presented to European policy makers and the signing of a joint Istanbul-Sarajevo Declaration on Islamophobia, reflecting a renewed commitment to deal with anti-Muslim hate crime in both cities.

“The EU is looking more volatile than it has for many years” and that is why it is important for sensible politicians to join us, commented Ahmed, adding that former British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw would be attending the summit.

Dr. Bernard Kouchner, the co-founder and former president of Doctors Without Borders will also attend.

Questioned as to the counter argument that Islamophobia is not the correct term since increased scrutiny of Muslims is based on a real rational fear, he responded that “politicians across Europe make a big mistake when they conflate terrorism with the problem of integration.”

“If you look at migrants through a security lens you do a disservice,” he argued, noting that many native born residents were carrying out attacks.

He also mentioned the murder of British politician Jo Cox last week by a man who is suspected to have carried out the attack for nationalist motives. The murder shows what happens “when you don’t control these right wing movements,” asserted Ahmed.

Less than 100 years ago Europe also “blamed minorities in its midst,” and therefore Europe needs to be careful, he warned.

Referring to the recent terror attack in Orlando, Ahmed said, “The European Islamophobia Summit condemns the recent horrific attack on a gay nightclub in Orlando and offers its deepest condolences and thoughts to the families of the victims.”

Academic Advisor to the Summit, Dr. Farid Hafez of Salzburg University said “Islamophobia represents a major challenge to European democracy, freedoms and its values of tolerance and pluralism.”

“Against the backdrop of calls by US Presidential candidate Donald Trump to ban Muslims from entering the USA and Hungary’s Prime Minister and upcoming EU President and Slovak Prime Minister both stating Islam has no place in their countries, the need for a Summit uniting political, academic, media and civil society leaders against Islamophobia is timelier than ever,” he said.

On the other side, Lt.-Col. (res.) Dr. Mordechai Kedar, a research associate at Bar-Ilan University’s Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies told the Post that “a phobia is something irrational, an imagined fear, while fear from Islam is real since it is based on terror and other things.”

“Fear is a very healthy feeling towards threats and if someone feels threatened by Muslims and Islam his fear is rational, not irrational,” he argued.

jpost.com/International/First-Islamophobia-summit-to-be-held-in-Europe-457324

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App to find mosque, halal food outlets launched for Muslims in Europe

Monday June 20, 2016

Jeddah: Saudi scholarship students in the United Kingdom have launched an app that provides an informative way to identify sources and origin of cuisines and dishes during the month of Ramadan, Arab News reported Friday.

The application will help users to locate “the nearest mosque, halal food hotels, and restaurants”, in Europe.

The students said the app consists a unique map which highlights the necessary information on the source of meat in these countries, in particular for those who do not know which restaurants serve halal food.

Abdul Kareem Fawaz, one of the pupils, said Muslim student clubs in Britain become active during Ramadan in raising awareness among youth to stay away from crowded places and to avoid suspicious persons.

“Our campaigns use social media to broadcast information on nearby mosques, halal food restaurants, and shops that sell food for Muslims in particular, in addition to other necessary information for thousands of students in Europe”, he said.

Separately, scholarship students in the US held a lecture on halal food and healthy eating recently. The lectures included topics on Saudi traditions during Ramadan, and suitable food for fasting.

Shadi Mustafa, a dietician, said Saudi students in European countries have sound knowledge on halal food.

“The most important thing for Muslims in Europe to worry about is the growing trend of going to local fast-food restaurants. It is always good to inquire about the ingredients of any food before buying it”, he said. He warned against some sweets which might contain lard or “pig fat”.

“It’s best to seek experts’ guidance on the matter and stay in touch with either social media or by joining the country’s clubs to learn more about Halal food”, he added.

ummid.com/news/2016/June/20.06.2016/app-launched-to-find-halal-outlets-in-uk.html

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North America

Anti-Muslim Rhetoric Deeply Damaging to America’s Security, Status

June 20, 2016

Monday in Washington, DC at the Center for New American Security, Vice President Joe Biden criticized the anti-Muslim rhetoric of presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump without mentioning Trump by name.

He said it “calls into question America’s status as the greatest democracy in the history of the world.”

Biden said, “Adopting the tactics of our enemies — using torture, threatening to kill innocent family members, indiscriminately bombing civilian populations — not only violates our values, it’s deeply damaging to our security. There are 1.4 billion Muslims in the world. Some of the rhetoric I’m hearing sounds designed to radicalized all 1.4 billion. How do we win this? How do we win this long term fight without embracing and engaging — and I mean allies in the Islamic community in the Untied States among American citizens and immigrants. How do we do this without allies in the Muslim world among Shiites and Sunnis? Wielding the politics of fear and intolerance, like the proposal to ban Muslims from entering the United State, profiling Muslim Americans or slandering entire religious communities as complicit in terrorism, calls into question America’s status as the greatest democracy in the history of the world.”

breitbart.com/video/2016/06/20/biden-anti-muslim-rhetoric-deeply-damaging-to-americas-security-status/

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Local Muslim Americans respond to Donald Trump's continued calls for profiling of Muslim Americans

June 20, 2016

DEARBORN, Mich. (WXYZ) - There’s outrage in Dearborn over calls from Donald Trump for profiling of Muslim Americans.

The presumptive Republican presidential nominee is yet again calling for profiling of Muslim people. He calls it a way of making our country safer, in the wake of the Orlando mass shooting tragedy.

The American Arab Anti-discrimination Committee is taking a stand against Trump's comments and suggestions Muslim people should be denied entry to the US or forced to register in a database.

Today, at the Islamic Center of America on Ford Road, a prayer service was held for those victims who died senselessly in the Orlando shooting massacre and one year ago in Charleston, South Carolina.

Religious leaders and people in Dearborn were calling for peace and respect for all human life.

wxyz.com/news/region/wayne-county/local-muslim-americans-respond-to-donald-trumps-continued-calls-for-profiling-of-muslim-americans

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During siege, Orlando gunman told police he was 'Islamic soldier'

June 21, 2016

ORLANDO: The Florida nightclub killer called himself an "Islamic soldier" and threatened to strap hostages into explosive vests in calls with police during the three hour siege, according to transcripts released by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) on Monday.

From inside the gay Orlando nightclub, the gunman, Omar Mateen told police negotiators to tell America to stop bombing Syria and Iraq and that was why he was "out here right now".

The conversations shed more light on the possible motivations of Mateen, who killed 49 people and injured 53 in the deadliest mass shooting in modern United States history.

In a first call he made to a 911 emergency operator, Mateen said "I pledge allegiance to Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, may God protect him, on behalf of the Islamic State," referring to the head of the militant Islamic State (IS).

Authorities believe Mateen, a US citizen of Afghan descent, acted alone in the June 12 rampage, with no help from militant networks.

The 29-year-old security guard was killed by police after more than three hours in the club.

The FBI and US State Department released partial transcripts of the four calls with the emergency operator and crisis negotiators earlier on Monday, omitting the shooter's references to the leader of IS, saying they did not want to provide a platform for propaganda.

But they later reversed their decision and released the unredacted version after a wave of criticism from US House of Representatives Speaker Paul Ryan, Florida Governor Rick Scott and other political leaders.

Mateen's conversations were made public as police sought to fend off criticism that they may have acted too slowly to end a three-hour standoff at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando.

Mateen threatened to detonate a car rigged with bombs and to strap hostages into explosive vests, according to transcripts of the 911 calls he made while police tried to rescue people trapped in the club.

No explosive vests or bombs were found in the club or the suspect's car, however, the FBI said.

"You people are gonna get it and I'm gonna ignite it if they try to do anything stupid," Mateen said during one of the calls, according to the FBI transcript.

'Chilling, calm and deliberate'

"While the killer made these murderous statements, he did so in a chilling, calm and deliberate manner," FBI Assistant Special Agent in Charge Ron Hopper told a news conference.

Mateen also said he was wearing an explosive vest like the kind "used in France", apparently referring to the deadly assault in Paris last November by militants, the transcript said.

Speaker Ryan had called for the full text to be released and accused the Obama administration of censoring references to IS.

He said the decision to edit the transcript was "preposterous" and that everyone knew Mateen was a radical extremist inspired by IS.

"We also know he intentionally targeted the LGBT community," the top elected Republican official said.

"The administration should release the full, unredacted transcript so the public is clear-eyed about who did this and why."

The FBI and Justice Department said the omissions had caused an "unnecessary distraction" and that was why they eventually decided to release the unredacted transcripts and summaries of the calls.

The attack renewed debate about gun control in the US.

The US Senate on Monday rejected four measures restricting gun sales, dealing a bitter setback to advocates who have failed to get even modest gun curbs through Congress despite repeated mass shootings.

dawn.com/news/1266272/during-siege-orlando-gunman-told-police-he-was-islamic-soldier

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US: Illinois measure would create advisory council for Muslims

June 21, 2016

Illinois could become the first state in the US with a law giving Muslim-Americans a formal voice in state government.

The Chicago Tribune reports that a bill approved by the Legislature would create a 21-member Illinois Muslim-American Advisory Council. It’s awaiting Republican Governor Bruce Rauner’s signature. The governor’s office said he’s reviewing it.

Muslim leaders said it would send a welcoming message to Muslims. The governor and legislative leaders would appoint council members.

Kareem Irfan, a Chicago lawyer who led an earlier version of the council under Governor Pat Quinn, said it would be good to have a lasting institutional body so the community is not subject to the whims of each governor.

“Given all that is going on with the misinterpretation about Islam and the interests and concerns of the Muslim-American community, it’s almost obligatory on behalf of a governor of this state and all governors to have such a body,” Irfan said.

Democratic Senator Jacqueline Collins, a co-sponsor of the bill, said she hopes the council will be the first of many efforts to ensure that the governor considers minority perspectives.

Republican Representative Barbara Wheeler voted against the bill last month. She said lawmakers shouldn’t be wasting their time on ‘feel-good’ legislation when Illinois is approaching one year without a state budget.

“It’s not an anti-Muslim thing,” Wheeler said. “It’s the duty and responsibility of the Muslim-American community to figure out how to help us understand whom our enemies are. I don’t believe it’s the state of Illinois’ responsibility to do that.”

indianexpress.com/article/world/world-news/us-illinois-measure-would-create-advisory-council-for-muslims-2866075/

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America 'hamstrung' by kid-glove treatment of terror

TUESDAY, JUNE 21, 2016

Terrorism expert Brigitte Gabriel is blasting the Obama administration for initially releasing only partial transcripts of the Orlando terrorist’s 911 calls, transcripts that swap out “Allah” for God and initially left out his pledge of allegiance to ISIS.

Multiple times in the transcripts, terrorist Omar Mateen pledged allegiance to ISIS. For example:

Orlando Police Dispatcher (OD) Shooter (OM)

OD: Emergency 911, this is being recorded.

OM: In the name of God the Merciful, the beneficial [in Arabic]

OD: What?

OM: Praise be to God, and prayers as well as peace be upon the prophet of God [in Arabic]. I let you know, I’m in Orlando and I did the shootings.

OD: What’s your name?

OM: My name is I pledge of allegiance to [omitted].

OD: Ok, What’s your name?

OM: I pledge allegiance to [omitted] may God protect him [in Arabic], on behalf of [omitted].

The federal government later reversed its decision, releasing transcripts with fewer deletions. They revealed Mateen was pledging support to ISIS and leader “Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.”

But also, Mateen did not say “God” in those quotations. He said “Allah,” but the transcripts were changed.

Act for America founder Brigitte Gabriel, who survived Islamic terrorism in her native Lebanon, says the conduct of the Obama administration is maddening.

“They thought that if they can erase the most important part, which is his pledge to ISIS, that that will somehow make the Islamic problem disappear,” said Gabriel.

She says America’s unwillingness to see the problem for what it is has hamstrung the U.S. since 9/11.

“Under President Bush, they refused to acknowledge the problem – that Islam has anything to do with it. Under President Obama it has gotten even worse,” said Gabriel.

Gabriel believes this latest attempt to lead the public astray is the worst possible way to approach the threat.

“It is shameful that our administration would delete an important part of the language, thinking that the problem is going to disappear. That’s exactly why we’re losing this war,” said Gabriel.

Even more mystifying to Gabriel is why the government went to such lengths when the remaining transcripts make Mateen motivation perfectly clear.

“Even with all the purging they have done of the phone call, the transcript reads like an Islamic prayer. The guy started the call by saying, ‘In the name of Allah the merciful, the beneficial,’ which is like the opening prayer for Islamic prayer. Every other word had to do with Allah,” said Gabriel.

She was also struck by what was not in the transcripts.

“Through the whole transcript, Omar Mateen never once refers to his hatred of gays, that he’s attacking the club because of his gay bashing or disapproving of their lifestyle. Not once,” said Gabriel.

On Sunday’s “Meet the Press,” Attorney General Loretta Lynch explained by the references to ISIS were redacted.

“What we’re not going to do is further proclaim this individual’s pledges of allegiance to terrorist groups and further his propaganda,” said Lynch to NBC’s Chuck Todd.

Even though that later was changed, the rationale left Gabriel almost speechless.

“They are a little too late about that. ISIS already took credit. ISIS has been bragging about it on their social media and on the Internet. ISIS is already proud of what he did. Those who are attracted to the ISIS message already know what this guy did. It’s been all over television worldwide,” said Gabriel.

“So who are they exactly trying to fool? They live in a bubble, this administration and all his advisers. They are living in a bubble and they don’t realize that our enemy and their sympathizers know exactly what is happening. Except in our own country, our government is trying to deceive its own people,” said Gabriel.

wnd.com/2016/06/expert-america-hamstrung-by-kid-glove-treatment-of-terror/

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‘Disgraced’ Gripping Look at Muslim Assimilation in America

 June 20, 2016

“Disgraced,” the play that opened Sunday, June 19, at the Mark Taper Forum in Los Angeles, is an intelligent, gripping and sensational drama (with lots of funny lines) about Muslim assimilation in America. While the play by Ayad Akhtar debuted in 2012, the subject matter is still highly relevant and interesting given news events in recent weeks.

The 90-minute, one-act play won the 2013 Pulitzer Prize for drama and earned a Tony nomination for Best Play for its look at about ambition, religion, race, and cultural identity. Unlike the many plays that have looked at the Jewish- or African-American experience, “Disgraced” mines new territory in the hot topic of Muslim influences and attitudes.

The main character is Amir Kapoor (Hari Dhillon), a high-powered mergers and acquisitions lawyer who is trying to become a partner at his New York firm while distancing himself from his cultural roots. The partners on the letterhead all have Jewish surnames and, while he cannot hide his brown skin, the Pakistani-Muslim Amir has them believing he is Indian and Hindu. The reality is that Kapoor is not even his real last name; it is Abdullah. He tells people his parents were from India, but that is a mere technicality since Pakistan did not exist at the time.

In spite of bad treatment by waiters and airport personnel, Amir tries to convince himself and others that he has conquered any prejudice against his background and “closet jihadist fear.” A self-declared apostate, he resoundingly dismisses his Islamic roots and refers to the Quran as “one very long hate-mail letter to humanity.”

The other characters are:

His blond, Caucasian wife, Emily (Emily Swallow), who is an artist obsessed with using Islamic motifs in her work.

His nephew, Hussein (who wants to be called Abe to better fit in) (Behzad Dabu), who seems to grow increasingly radicalized in support of a local imam.

Their Jewish friend, Isaac (J.Anthony Crane), who is an art curator considering including Emily’s works in a forthcoming show.

Isaac’s African-American wife, Jory (Karen Pittman), who works at Amir’s law firm.

While Amir acknowledges that his mother would not be proud if he made partner in a Jewish-sounding law firm, he does not completely divorce himself from the responsibilities that family and his former faith impose. His nephew asks him to make an appearance in court in support of the imam, whom he believes in being unfairly accused of funneling money to terrorists. Amir does go and his presence is mentioned in an article in “The New York Times,“ which leads his law firm to find out he is Muslim.

Things come to a boil during the third scene of “Disgraced,” a nightmarish dinner party, where the two alcohol-fueled couples chew up Islamic tenets and each other more than the food. The cast says many things people are afraid to say out of fear of being politically incorrect, particularly their wry, cutting observations on religion. For example, they talk about how the angel Gabriel talked to Mohammed, which led to Islam, and bring up similarities with Mormonism, where the angel Moroni talked to Joseph Smith … and how both religions support polygamy.

As things grow more testy, the characters’ identities and beliefs are peeled away like onions and shown to be more complex and, being a play, dramatic. They show their cultural legacies and emotional baggage. At one point, Amir unravels and even shocks everyone at the table by admitting to pride after 9/11, “that we were finally winning.”

Dhillon is superb as Amir Kapoor in “Disgraced’s” Los Angeles debut, reprising the role he played on Broadway. He is relatable as both the upwardly mobile attorney who changed his name to succeed and later as the man surprised by his inability to deny his upbringing.

Pittman, the other holdover from the New York cast, is also strong in her portrayal of her character’s ambiguities. Like Kapoor, she faces a color barrier, or perceived one, at work and tries hard to assimilate.

Dabu is effective as the young nephew. He shows the struggle with the desire to fit in versus realizations that he may not want to.

The playwright can clearly relate to his “Disgraced” characters. Akhtar was born in the U.S., but is of Pakistani Muslim descent. The Ivy League-educated son of two doctors has written a novel, “American Dervish” about the Muslim experience in America and other works. He admits that the play is derived from an actual dinner party her gave, but it did not unravel as badly as it does in the play.

Director Kimberly Senior has been heavily involved in bringing Akhtar’s work to life. She directed the original production of his gripping look at Muslim assimilation in America, the off-Broadway and Broadway runs and now staged ‘Disgraced’ in Los Angeles through July 17.

guardianlv.com/2016/06/disgraced-gripping-look-at-muslim-assimilation-in-america-review/

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Africa

Uganda witness for Muslim cleric murder 'castrated'

20 June 2016

A witness in a trial over a spate of murders of Muslim clerics in Uganda was "beaten and castrated" because he agreed to testify, prosecutors say.

The defence argued those on trial could not have been responsible for the attack as they were in jail.

The judge adjourned the trial, which opened on Monday, to give more time to protect witnesses.

One woman and 31 men are on trial, including a cleric from the Tabliq sect.

Africa Live: BBC news updates

The prosecution did not give any further details about the alleged attack on the witness but did say a court case had started on Friday.

The spate of killings included the head of Uganda's Shia community, Sheikh Abdu Kadir Muwaya, who was shot dead Christmas Day 2014 in Uganda's capital Kampala.

Three days later Sheikh Mustafa Bahiga, a leader of the Tabliq sect was also shot dead.

Sheikh Muhammad Younus Kamoga was one of the Tabliq sect's leaders in Uganda at the time of his arrest.

The BBC's Patience Atuhaire reports from the High Court that the defence said police took the suspects out of jail and forced them to give information against each other.

Our correspondent adds that Judge Ezekiel Muhanguzi ruled that no suspects should be taken out of jail anymore and if police and other agents want access to them, it should be in the presence of their lawyers.

bbc.com/news/world-africa-36575654

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Non-fasting Muslims arrested in northern Nigeria

20 June 2016

The Kano State Police, also known as Hisbah, have arrested scores of people for failure to fast and ensuring compliance with the rules of Ramadan, the third pillar of Islam.

Ramadan is a special month of the year for the over one billion Muslims throughout the world. It is determined by the lunar cycle and will run until July 5 this year. For Muslims it is a time for inner reflection, devotion to God and self-control. During fasting, strict restrictions are followed. Muslims are not allowed to eat or drink during daylight hours. Smoking and sexual relations are also forbidden. At the end of the day, the fast is broken with prayer and a meal called the "Iftar."

Since Ramadan began on June 6, Kano police have deployed its men to strategic places in the state to ensure compliance with the rules of Ramadan. Those who are found to be violating the rules have been arrested and held for interrogation.

Deputy Commandant of Kano's Hisbahm, Nabahani Usman, said that those arrested would be prosecuted and be sentenced according to the law. "We hold them at Hisbah for at least two days to teach them the importance of fasting," Usman said. He added that every adult Muslim must observe the holy month.

According to Islamic teachings, fasting helps one feel compassion for those who are less fortunate and underprivileged.

"We deem it fit and necessary to ensure that every Muslim in Kano State observe Ramadan. We have a report of people who are not complying with this important pillar of Islam; hence we mobilize our men to arrest them," Usman emphasized.

The "men" referred to are Muslim scholar operatives whose work is to enhance Islamic teachings based on the Quran. They also have powers to arrest and detain notorious "non-compliant" followers.

Arrests condemned

Besides the arrests and detentions, the convicts are subject to beatings after they have been handed a sentence by the religious courts. However, punishments given out by the Hisbah police have been strongly criticized by human rights activists. They accuse the police of overstepping mandate.

Activist and law professor at University of Bayero in Kano, Barrister Audu Bulama Bukarti, said the Nigerian constitution does not allow any religion to punish anybody for not fasting.

"Section 36 of the constitution of Nigeria is very clear that nobody should be arrested or punished except for an offence which is defined by a written law of Nigeria," Bukarti said. "I am not aware of any law that makes fasting compulsory in Nigeria whether on Muslims or on any other person in the country." However he called on Muslims to abide by Sharia Law unless they have "acceptable excuses."

DW's correspondent Nasir Zango in Kano State has seen several people at the headquarters of the Hisbah in the Sharada area who are being held for non-observance of Ramadan. One of them told Zango that he failed to fast due to chronic ulcers.

"I cannot fast while also taking both modern and herbal medicine to cure it," he said.

It is not the first time the Hisbah religious police have cracked down on people for not observing the rules of Ramadan in the region. In 2012, more than 20 people were arrested by Hisbah for deliberately refusing to fast and they were held in detention for three days.

dw.com/en/non-fasting-muslims-arrested-in-northern-nigeria/a-19343335

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3 dead as gunfire erupts in C Africa capital

June 21, 2016

Three people were killed and hundreds forced to flee their homes after gunfire broke out in the capital of the Central African Republic.

The violence follows the kidnapping of six policemen last weekend, blamed on a rebel group based in the Muslim quarter of Bangui.

It was unclear if the fighting yesterday was connected to the kidnapping.

The gunfire erupted in the capital's predominantly Muslim PK5 neighbourhood and forced hundreds of residents from their homes, an AFP correspondent said.

Police said three people were killed in the gunfire.

Witnesses said soldiers from the United Nations Mission for CAR were also involved in the fighting, but it was not clear who else participated.

The Minister of Public Security Jean-Serge Bokassa demanded "the kidnappers release the hostages in the shortest possible time", according to a statement broadcast on Radio Ndeke Luka.

CAR, one of the world's poorest countries, was plunged into chaos by the March 2013 ousting of long-serving president Francois Bozize, a Christian, by the mainly Muslim Seleka rebel alliance.

The coup sparked revenge attacks involving Muslim forces and Christian vigilante groups known as "anti-balaka" (anti- machete) militias.

Thousands were slaughtered in the spiral of atrocities that displaced about a tenth of the population of 4.8 million.

Fears of a bloodbath led to a military intervention by former colonial power France and the deployment of UN peacekeepers.

business-standard.com/article/pti-stories/3-dead-as-gunfire-erupts-in-c-africa-capital-116062100214_1.html

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Southeast Asia

Indonesia’s Blind Eye to Abusive Sharia Bylaws

June 21, 2016

Indonesia’s Minister of Home Affairs Tjahjo Kumolo backtracked on a pronounced commitment to abolish abusive Sharia regulations in the country.

Kumolo said last week that the government chose to ignore discriminatory Sharia or Islamic law-based local regulations while cancelling 3,143 other “problematic regional regulations” for violating the country’s credo of “unity in diversity.” Kumolo was unapologetic. “[Bylaw cancellation] is about investments,” he said. “We do not interfere with regulations based on Islamic Sharia.”

That’s bad news for women and lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people, who are discriminated against under the Sharia regulations imposed by the Aceh provincial government in northwestern Indonesia. Aceh is the only one of Indonesia’s 34 provinces that can legally adopt bylaws derived from Sharia.

Human Rights Watch has documented human rights abuses linked to enforcement of Sharia bylaws prohibiting adultery, and imposing public dress requirements on Muslims. A khalwat law makes association by unmarried individuals of the opposite sex a criminal offense in some circumstances. While the dress requirement is gender-neutral on its face, in practice it imposes far more onerous restrictions on women with the mandatory hijab, or veil and long skirts. These “offenses” are not banned elsewhere in Indonesia.

On September 27, 2014, Aceh’s provincial parliament approved bylaws that extend Sharia to non-Muslims, criminalizing consensual same-sex sexual acts as well as all zina (sexual relations outside of marriage). The criminal code permits as punishment up to 100 lashes and up to 100 months in prison for consensual same-sex sexual acts, while zina violations carry a penalty of 100 lashes. The criminal code also allows Islamic courts to dismiss charges against rape suspects who take an Islamic oath, sumpah dilaknat Allah, asserting their innocence – so long as the court determines there’s a lack of incriminating “other evidence.”

Within days of Aceh’s bylaws coming into, special Sharia police arrested two “suspected lesbians” – women aged 18 and 19 – who were spotted hugging in public. Police detained the women for four days, and released them into a government-run, week-long religious “rehabilitation” center.

Kumolo needs to recognize that cancelling laws that discriminate against women and LGBT people should be a greater priority than regulations “about investments.” Until the Indonesian government revokes discriminatory Sharia bylaws in Aceh, women and LGBT people will remain vulnerable to violations of their basic rights and freedoms.

hrw.org/news/2016/06/21/dispatches-indonesias-blind-eye-abusive-sharia-bylaws

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Journalist Couple Attacked in Makassar, Indonesia        

June 21, 2016

Two digital journalists based in Makassar, in the region of South Sulawesi, Indonesia were attacked on June 5, 2016, while attending an event held by Makassar branch of Islamic Students Alumni (KAHMI Makassar) at Makassar mayor's house.

Global Voices author Arpan Rachman and his wife Icha Lamboge, who is also a journalist, told Global Voices that two men in black uniforms – not the standard uniform of city security guards – stopped them and asked for their journalist ID cards. The men then took them into a small room behind the house where Arpan asked them to identify themselves, which they refused to do. One of the men then snatched Lamboge's mobile phone, which is her main reporting tool. When Rachman intervened and tried to get her phone back, the man grabbed punched him in the chest while the other man strangled him.

The couple reported the incident to police, and Rachman was examined by a doctor. He is recovering from the incident, however, both he and his wife are fearing for their safety.

The Alliance for Independent Journalists in Makassar has documented 12 cases of journalist abuse thus far in 2016, including harassment while reporting, destruction of reporting tools, intimidation, and physical assault. Neither KAHMI, AJI, nor Makassar officials have issued any statement regarding the attack on Rachman and Lamboge.

Shortly afterward, Lamboge expressed concern that the incident would be “dismissed and forgotten or the evidence record doctored.” They have since obtained legal representation from Legal Aid Foundation Makassar, but much remains uncertain about their case. They continue to fear for their physical safety.

Both work actively as journalists, with Lamboge working chiefly with SINDO Trijaya FM, a radio station based in Jakarta, and Rachman working as investigative journalist with multiple local news outlets including BaKTINews, inspiratifnews, Membunuh Indonesia and Media Lingkungan.

The couple has worked together on stories that they suspect could have provoked the incident. For a recent print edition of the human rights magazine Torture: Asian and Global Perspectives, they wrote about controversial mass evictions taking place in the Bulogading zone at the center of Makassar. More than one online story about the evictions has been taken down as tensions have risen.

In Indonesia, violence against journalist happens regularly. Attacks like these often go unreported in the media, and perpetrators often go without punishment.

The case involving Arpan and Icha was covered by one local news website, but the story was subsequently removed for unknown reasons.

Global Voices community condemns all forms of violence against journalists in Indonesia and elsewhere in the world. As a community, we stand by our colleague Arpan and his family's appeal for truth and justice.

globalvoices.org/2016/06/21/journalist-couple-attacked-in-makassar-indonesia/

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Ban on Muslim lawyers network sought

Tuesday, 21 June 2016

Lawyers from Mandalay have appealed to the Ministry of Home Affairs to abolish a newly formed Muslim lawyers association for fear that it will create problems and divisions.

An attorney of the Lawyers Network for Upper Myanmar collected signatures and sent a formal request to the Home Affairs Ministry, according to U Thein Than Oo, the secretary of the Independent Lawyers Association of Myanmar.

“I haven’t signed it even though I disagree with forming a Muslim lawyers network, because they have the right to form an association,” the Mandalay-based lawyer said. U Thein Than Oo added that he was concerned the issue would reignite tensions between Buddhist and Muslim communities.

The Ministry of Home Affairs confirmed receipt of the letter asking it not to permit the Muslim association to register. “We have no plan to take action on this because we haven’t received any registration request by the association described in the letter,” said U Ye Naing, the spokesperson for the ministry.

The Myanmar Muslim Lawyers Association was formed in Yangon by 70 attorneys in early June. Preparations are being made to register with a 15-member central executive committee at the end of this month.

National League for Democracy legal adviser and lawyer U Ko Ni, who acts as the patron of the association, said the lawyers had not acted against any laws or against the constitution. He added that all Muslims in the country should have legal assistance to protect them. “I don’t understand why people criticise us when they hear the term ‘Muslim’. We don’t cause any trouble to others. We just want to give assistance to our Muslim minority people who have long suffered under military rule,” he said.

U Khin Maung Cho, the secretary of the association, told The Myanmar Times that the group plans to legally protect the Muslim minority who are losing their rights, don’t enjoy equal education and are being discriminated against in social affairs. He added that the lawyers will also support the rule of law in the country and give legal advice to parliament.

“We are not making any problems – we protect against problems,” he said, adding that legal assistance will also be given to non-Muslims if they face politically motivated religious discrimination.

Well-known human rights lawyer U Robert San Aung spoke against the new association. “They shouldn’t mention any religion if they really wanted to help the people,” he said. “I won’t accept forming the Muslim lawyer association because I think their way is wrong.”

U Myo Aung, the secretary of the Mandalay lawyer’s network, told The Myanmar Times that he also did not agree with the formation of the association, because he worried that it would create more conflicts between communities and divisions among lawyers.

mmtimes.com/index.php/national-news/mandalay-upper-myanmar/20957-ban-on-muslim-lawyers-network-sought.html

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A spicy Indonesian Iftar during Ramadan

June 21, 2016

For non-Muslims, the best way to learn about Ramadan is through the eyes of a boy who is steadfastly fasting for the first time. And that's what we've experienced when we visited the house of Murdi Primbani, Indonesian Consul for Information, Social and Cultural Affairs, last week.

Seven-year old Leon Mahatma Murdi and his father welcomed us at the parking area of their flat in Al Barsha. We've noticed that the boy's lips were partly parched, meaning he hasn't taken any liquid since the break of dawn, but his eyes were very lively and his demeanour bubbly. He was wearing a clean and neatly-pressed baju koko, an all-white loose shirt worn traditionally by Indonesians, and he gladly took our hands leading us to the lift to go to their flat.

We admired this little boy's sacrifice not to eat and drink, yet he was still very cheerful. His smile was really contagious and when we asked him why he was fasting, he simply answered, with no pretension: "Because I just wanted to."

His father provided us with a longer reply: "This is the first time for him (Leon) to fast. We just came back from Umrah in April this year and the journey to Makkah impressed him very much so he now wants to feel the essence of Ramadan."

Consul Murdi then introduced us to his wife, Amelia, who is three months pregnant, and to his guests: Consul-General Arzaf Firman and wife Jeny; Consul Temu Alam and wife Atiek; and consular staff Restoro Sukantu.

Leon was the only boy in the crowd and like any other boy his age, he was getting restless but at the same time inquisitive. He was checking the professional camera of our photographer while Murdi was explaining to us the traditional Indonesian Iftar we were about to partake.

His wife, who hails from West Sumatra, prepared all the dishes and Murdi said: "The food is traditionally spicy. And the rationale why the food is spicy is because the spice also acts as natural preservative. So back in the days when people from Indonesia had to travel to Makkah by boat, which takes about three months, the food was still good to eat." Then the consul, who is originally from East Java, gave us a brief history of Indonesia, telling us that the country's name was derived from the word Greek translation of the Indus River and the word nèsos, meaning "Indian island." Islam was first adopted by Indonesians in northern Sumatra in the 13th century, through the influence of traders mostly passing through Gujarat. By the 16th century, Islam became the country's dominant religion.

Indonesia is now the most populous Muslim majority country in the world, with 90 per cent of its 260 million people are Muslim. The country is situated between the Indian and Pacific Ocean and it is also the world's largest island country with more than 17,000 islands and more than 400 languages. But this diversity is also what makes the country unique and its national motto is "Bhinneka Tunggal Ika" meaning "Unity in Diversity" or "many, yet one".

Despite coming from different parts of Indonesia, the three diplomatic officials shared with us that they have the same fond memories of Ramadan when they were kids. They said that prior to ending the fast, Indonesians do "ngabuburit" which is doing fun activities an hour before Iftar. Young boys or individuals walk around neighbourhoods beating big drums called beduk while others were visiting friends and neighbours while food were already waiting on the table.

But Consul Alam said that "ngabuburit" is not about killing time at dusk - it is more about communal activities, togetherness, friendship and tradition.

Going back to Leon, he may not be doing the same "ngabuburit" as what his father did but his understanding of Ramadan is just the same. And for us we felt humbled by his faith and strong will.

khaleejtimes.com/ramadan-2016/ramadan-news/a-spicy-indonesian-iftar-during-ramadan

 

URL: http://newageislam.com/islamic-world-news/new-age-islam-news-bureau/pakistan-gives-$28-million-to-‘university-of-jihad’/d/107718

 

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