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Islamic World News ( 5 Dec 2017, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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Peace Activist Goes ‘Missing’ After Debate on Labaik Sit-In

New Age Islam News Bureau

5 Dec 2017

The tour group was stranded at Chennai International Airport after immigration authorities told them they could not enter India due to new instructions from the New Delhi government.



 Peace Activist Goes ‘Missing’ After Debate on Labaik Sit-In

 Large Number of Saleh Loyalists Join Yemen’s Legitimate Forces in Marib

 Al-Qaeda’s Top Leader among At Least 80 Killed in Afghan-US Operations

 Letter Issued By Gandhinagar Archbishop a "Fatwa", Says Modi

 14 Denied Entry into India — For Looking Like Muslim Preachers

 Saudis Pledge $100 Million to African Anti-Jihadist Force: Mali



 Peace Activist Goes ‘Missing’ After Debate on Labaik Sit-In

 Civil-Military Leadership on Same Page, Says Asif after Mattis Visit

 Pakistani man arrested for pro-India slogan

 JI announces long march for FATA, KP merger

 Postman priest brings Pakistan-India students closer

 Probe demanded into killing of ATI attacker ‘disarmed’ by student

 Polarisation of religious vote not a good omen for mainstream parties



 Large Number of Saleh Loyalists Join Yemen’s Legitimate Forces in Marib

 Yemen’s Ex-President Ali Abdullah Saleh Killed by Houthi Militias

 Hadi calls on Yemenis to rise up against Houthis after Saleh's death

 Muslim Nations Call for Summit If Trump Recognises Jerusalem as Israel’s Capital

 Yemen’s rebel alliance crumbles as ‘street war’ rocks capital

 Hadi urges Yemenis to join fight against Iran-backed Houthis after Saleh murder

 Quds status change to lead to catastrophe, Turkey warns

 Houthi: We managed to thwart major threat to Yemen’s security


South Asia

 Al-Qaeda’s Top Leader among At Least 80 Killed in Afghan-US Operations

 Pope Francis Equates Gossip in Religious Life to Terrorism

 Afghan war widows pay heavy price for husband's sacrifice

 Foreigners among 6 killed in latest US airstrikes in East of Afghanistan

 Taliban issues contradictory statements as airstrikes gain momentum



 Letter Issued By Gandhinagar Archbishop a "Fatwa", Says Modi

 14 Denied Entry into India — For Looking Like Muslim Preachers

 UP Family That Took Up Islam Five Years Ago Re-Converts, Says VHP Helped

 Final Ayodhya hearing starts today, litigants have a common plea: decide, once and for all

 J&K: Abu Ismail successor among two LeT militants killed in encounter

 Al-Qaeda Releases Audio on Rohingyas Asking Muslim Community to Help Refugees

 Muslim trio guards, dresses and lights up Ram idol

 Jawan, 2 terrorists killed in encounter in J&K’s Kulgam



 Saudis Pledge $100 Million to African Anti-Jihadist Force: Mali

 Libya: Several Nationalities behind the Slave Trade in Libya

 S. African Muslims demand prayer room in hospital

 Africa: Supreme Court: Trump Travel Ban Can Stay While Legal Case Continues

 Why Muslims must lead battle against terrorism – Shehu Sani

 Nigeria's Membership of Religious Organisations


Southeast Asia

 Stop Using Islam to Win Votes, Says Indonesia’s Largest Muslim Body

 Don’t delay naming non-Muslim Dayak to Petros’ board, Sarawak CM urged


Arab World

 Arab League Chief Warns Trump That Jerusalem Move Could Fuel Violence

 Egyptian Forces Kill 5 Militants Northeast Of Cairo

 Russia provides air cover for Kurdish militia in Syria

 Syrian air defense intercepts Israeli missiles targeting military facility

 Syrian teen pleads for 'chance' at kid’s peace prize

 Syrian Army Advancing against Terrorists from Hama towards Idlib

 Tribes in Southern Syria Form New Popular Army to Fight against Terrorists

 Terrorists' Missile Attack on Damascus Leaves Several Casualties

 Syrian Army Prevails over Terrorists' Positions in Al-Rahjan in Hama Province

 Terrorists Suffer Heavy Defeats in Clashes with Syrian Army in Eastern Homs


North America

 Trump Travel Ban to Take Effect after Supreme Court Ruling

 In Schools, a Growing Push To Recognize Muslim and Jewish Holidays

 Saudi Arabia warns of Jerusalem embassy impact as Trump delays announcement

 Anti-Iran figures seeking Persian antiquities stolen by US

 Canadian Muslim youth killed for doing ‘right thing’



 Britain First Follower Vowed To Kill Muslim In Finsbury Park Attack

 UK Halts Syria Aid Program amid Reports That It Funds Terrorists

 What the Russian Revolution can teach us about the Middle East today

 May says Trump 'wrong' on anti-Muslim videos

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau




Peace Activist Goes ‘Missing’ After Debate on Labaik Sit-In


LAHORE: A peace activist, Raza Khan, has gone missing on Sunday following a discussion session on the topic of extremism in context of a recent sit-in staged by religious parties and state’s subsequent “capitulation” to it.

According to details available with Pakistan Today, a discussion session on the said issue was held at a local community space, Low-Key Lokai, in which a number of activists belonging to all strata of society participated, including Raza.

The news caught the attention of social rights activist Jibran Mohammad Nasir who shared it on his Facebook page.

Calling upon Chief Minister Shehbaz Sharif, Jibran Nasir wrote, “Activist Raza Khan has gone missing from his house in Lahore. He helps manage progressive space Low-key Lokai and is the convener of Aghaz-e-Dosti an initiative to bring Indian and Pakistani students closer. His brother filed app but Police has [not] registered FIR as of yet.”

“In a dialogue conducted on extremism, the Faizabad sit-in naturally came under discussion along with the role of the army, courts, and federal government, besides the signed agreement,” one of the participants told Pakistan Today.

On Nov 6, workers of Tehreek-e-Labbaik Ya Rasool Allah (TLYR) and activists of other religious groups camped at the Faizabad Interchange in Islamabad against the hastily-abandoned change in the oath of elected representatives, virtually paralysing the twin cities for more than two weeks.

Police and Frontier Constabulary (FC) personnel had launched an operation against the protesters after the high court had ordered the clearance of the bridge that connects the federal capital with Rawalpindi. The same day, Chief of Army Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa had advised Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi to “handle the Islamabad dharna peacefully”.

The day-long operation had culminated with the government seeking the military’s assistance to disperse the participants who had put up fierce resistance to the security personnel’s action.

However, the army had said in its response that while it was “fully ready” to take action, a “few points need deliberation”. Subsequently, no troops were deployed in the city.

The group called off its nationwide protests on Nov 27 after the government conceded to the TLYR demands, including dropping all the cases against the protesters and law minister Zahid Hamid’s resignation.

One of the organisers of the session told Pakistan Today that they had been conducting sessions on social and political issues for the last five months, which were moderated by the various academics.

“This Sunday we gathered to hold an open discussion on the after-effects of the recent disturbance in the country,” he recalled, adding that all democratic societies categorically endorse the freedom of speech.

In a reply to question if they have approached law enforcement authorities, he said, “The Naseerabad police have not registered an FIR despite the fact that an application was filed by us,” adding, “they have called us in the morning though.”

Another post updated on the social media states, “Our friend Raza Khan, a peace activist is missing since yesterday. We last met him Saturday evening for an open discussion on extremism, specifically focusing on the dharna, at Low-key Lokai. It was a frank, open but also a heated discussion.”

Terming Raza a “peace lover and critical thinker”, the post goes on to say, “Raza is the Pakistan convener of Aghaz-e-Dosti, a Pakistan India citizen peace initiative which brings together children through letter exchange & peace art; he is at the forefront of Low-key Lokai and a member of the Awami Art Collective as well.

Mentioning Raza’s commitment to democratic principles of the state and his participation in the restoration of judiciary, the post shows concern about the whereabouts of the activist. “We have checked 1122 & hospitals and his home,” but there is no trace of Raza.

“His brother has filed an application in police and we hope and pray that he is safe, and whoever has abducted him understands that he represents love, peace and justice.”

The post ends with a note “is that too much to ask?”



Large number of Saleh loyalists join Yemen’s legitimate forces in Marib

5 December 2017

Large groups of Ali Abdullah Saleh loyalists have joined legitimacy brigades in Marib while Ibb tribes called on the Yemenis to avenge from Houthi militias after they killed the former president on Monday.

Taiz command and the General People’s Congress in the governorate called for revolting against Houthi militias stationed in the governorate’s surroundings. Deputy Governor of Taiz Aref Jamal said the next days will witness fierce operations against the Houthis, similar to what’s happening in Sanaa.

Meanwhile, the Saudi-led coalition air force launched seven strikes against Houthi positions around the Republican Palace in central Sanaa.

Houthi militias have imposed a state of emergency – though not officially declared – in Sanaa and executed 200 members of the General People’s Congress forces.

They deployed their gunmen across Sanaa, set checkpoints, increased their security on their headquarters and stationed snipers on rooftops.

Sources told Al-Arabiya and Al-Hadath television channels that Houthi militias are raiding houses of General People’s Congress officials and arresting them in Sanaa, adding that they stormed Aref al-Zouka’s house and detained his family.

On Monday, the UN said heavy fighting around the diplomatic area in Sanaa was still on, adding that roads were closed and tanks were deployed in the streets.

The UN noted that there is also fighting in other governorates like Hajjah, adding that aid convoys to Sanaa and flights have been suspended.

Yemeni media sources said on Monday evening that clashes erupted between Saleh’s loyalists and Houthi militias in the Usaylan District in the Shabwah Governorate, east of the country. Local sources added that Saleh’s loyalists killed three Houthi militiamen and injured others.



Al-Qaeda’s Top Leader among At Least 80 Killed in Afghan-US Operations

Dec 05 2017

A top leader of the Al-Qaeda terrorist network has been killed along with at least 80 other militants during the operations of the Afghan and US forces.

The Afghan Intelligence, National Directorate of Security (NDS), the militants were killed during the operations conducted in Ghazni, Zabul, and Paktia provinces.

According to NDS, the senior Al-Qaeda leader killed during the operation has been identified as Omar Khetab who was also famous was Omar Mansoor.

The anti-government armed militant groups including the Al-Qaeda affiliates have not commented regarding the report so far.

This comes as the US Department of Defense in a statement said late in March this year that a U.S. counter-terrorism airstrike conducted March 19 in Paktika Province, Afghanistan, resulted in the death of Qari Yasin, a well-known al Qaida terrorist leader responsible for the deaths of dozens of innocent victims, including two American service members.

The statement further added that Yasin, a senior terrorist figure from Balochistan, Pakistan, had ties to Tehrik-e Taliban and had plotted multiple al Qaida terror attacks, including the Sept. 20, 2008, bombing on the Marriott Hotel in Islamabad that killed dozens of innocent people, among them U.S. Air Force Maj. Rodolfo I. Rodriguez and Navy Cryptologic Technician Third Class Petty Officer Matthew J. O’Bryant.

According to the Defense Department, Yasin was also responsible for the 2009 attack on a bus carrying the Sri Lankan cricket team in Lahore. Six Pakistani policemen and two civilians were killed and six members of the team injured.



Letter issued by Gandhinagar archbishop a "fatwa", says Modi

DECEMBER 04, 2017

The Prime Minister counters Thomas Macwan’s letter; says ‘Rashtrabhakti’ drove us to help people of all faiths.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday said “rashtrabhakti” motivated him and his government to help people of various faiths, including Christians, and dubbed as “fatwa” a letter issued by Gandhinagar archbishop.

The Prime Minister was referring to the letter issued last month by Thomas Macwan, archbishop of the Archdiocese of Gandhinagar, in which he had appealed to Christians to pray to save the country from “nationalist forces”.

“I was shocked to see a religious person releasing a ’fatwa’ (diktat) saying uproot the nationalist forces. It is ’Rashtrabhakti’ (nationalism) that guides us to help every Indian in any part of the world,” Mr. Modi said.

The Prime Minister was speaking at a gathering after inaugurating a hospital on the campus of Shree Swaminarayan Gurukul Vishwavidya Pratisthanam (SGVP).

He said it was a “matter of concern” if some people are opposing such values.

The priest had also said that “democratic fabric” of the country was at stake amidst growing “sense of insecurity” among minorities, which was viewed as a jibe at the ruling BJP.

Mr. Modi said his government had saved and rescued people of different faiths irrespective of their religion.

'Rescued from conflict zones'

He also listed several examples wherein the central government had brought back Christian missionaries as well as nurses stranded in conflict zones across the world.

“Along with Indians, we have rescued citizens of almost 40 countries from Yemen, as they were stranded there due to war. We did not see their religion or language they speak. It was our nationalism and humanitarian values which guided us,” the Prime Minister said.

Mr. Modi said he was raising the issue of nationalism because some people have challenged it.

“Our nurses from Kerala, mostly Christians, were stranded in Iraq. They were in the custody of terrorists. Can the prime minister or any citizen of India sleep in such situation, when our daughters are in custody of terrorists?” he asked.

In 2014, a total of 46 Indian nurses, who were held captive by the Islamic State militants in Iraq for about a month, were evacuated after the successful intervention by the Union government.

The Prime Minister also recalled how his government used “all resources” to bring back Keralite priest Tom Uzhunnalil who was freed after being kept in captivity suspectedly by the ISIS for 18 months in strife-torn Yemen.

“Father Tom (Uzhunnalil), also a Keralite, was abducted by terrorists in Yemen last year. He went their to spread the message of Jesus Christ. Again, we have employed all our resources to bring him back, as he is the son of this country.

We successfully brought him back a few months back,” the Prime Minister said.

He also gave the example of Father Alexis Prem Kumar who was rescued from the Taliban captivity in Afghanistan.

“Another Christian, Judith D’Souza of West Bengal, was kidnapped in Afghanistan. We applied every trick in the book and brought her back alive, that too from the clutches of terrorists. We were able to do all these humanitarian work because of our rashtrabhakti,” he said.



14 denied entry into India — for looking like Muslim preachers

December 5, 2017

GEORGE TOWN: A Penang roti bakar (toasted bread) shop owner and his 13 friends’ trip to India turned sour after they were refused entry upon landing at the Chennai International Airport for allegedly “looking like Muslim preachers”.

The 14 Indian Muslim men from Penang sported long beards wore a jubah (long dress) and kopiah (skullcaps).

They arrived in Chennai at 10pm Indian time last Saturday via Malaysia Airlines flight MH180 from Kuala Lumpur.

Ahmad Ansari Abdul Jabbar, 51, of Hutton Lane roti bakar shop fame, said they were not there to preach but were there on a two-week tour of north and south India.

He said their original plan was to stay overnight in Chennai and fly to New Delhi the next afternoon to kickstart their northern Indian cities tour.

The group was supposed to visit Ajmer, New Delhi, Simla and other attractions in the north for the first week, and to the southern Indian cities during the second week.

“When we arrived at the airport, an immigration officer at the counter asked for the purpose of our visit and we said we were going on a group tour.

“We were then politely asked to meet a senior immigration officer. He interrogated us for 30 minutes and said ‘we have to send all of you back’.

“When we asked why, the officer said there is a ban on Muslim preachers, after an incident in Haryana. The officer told us the orders came from the central government in New Delhi.

We told them, no, we were not preachers. But that fell onto deaf ears.

“We are fully aware of the rights of countries to bar people from entering. What wrong could it be to be just a Muslim tourist?

“The Indian government must explain,” he said.

Ansari said later an Indian immigration officer informed him and the group that they were being sent back to Malaysia as they were travelling using a wrong visa.

“We have travelled to India many times before. We have also got the right visa as determined by the Indian Visa Service in Kuala Lumpur

“Why grant us a visa when we are not welcome in the country?”

Ansari said the group was made to wait in a holding area for more than 12 hours before their next flight to Kuala Lumpur at 1.30pm.

Ansari said they were not allowed to purchase food from the airport but ordered food to be delivered from a restaurant outside the airport.

Ansari said each of the 14 people in the group had paid RM3,500 to the tour agent based in Penang for their trip, which included airfare, lodging, transport and food costs.

He said their money invested into the trip was “burnt” as everything was already paid for.

Another member of the group, Mohamed bin Kassim, 58, said a group of Muslim Africans, who were similarly attired and with beards, were also turned back.

“They were in another line and they, too, were stopped from entering India,” he said.



Saudis pledge $100 million to African anti-jihadist force: Mali

DECEMBER 5, 2017

DAKAR (Reuters) - Saudi Arabia has pledged $100 million to a new regional military force battling jihadist groups in West Africa’s Sahel region, force member Mali said on Monday.

The contribution would be a major boost to the cash-strapped force and bring pledged commitments to more than half the roughly $500 million the G5 Sahel says it needs for its first year of operations.

The G5 Sahel - composed of the armies of Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Burkina Faso and Chad - launched its first military campaign in October amid growing unrest in the Sahel, whose porous borders are regularly crossed by jihadists, including affiliates of al Qaeda and Islamic State.

Those groups have stepped up attacks on civilian and military targets, including tourist attractions in regional capitals, raising fears the zone will become a new breeding ground for militants.

Mali’s foreign ministry said Saudi Arabian authorities made the pledge during a visit to the kingdom late last month by Malian Foreign Minister Abdoulaye Diop.

Saudi Arabia’s foreign ministry did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The Sunni Muslim kingdom is competing with its main rival, Shi‘ite power Iran, for influence across West Africa and other parts of the Muslim world. Donors from both countries have given money to mosques and other causes there.

France, the G5’s most vocal foreign backer, has pressed Saudi Arabia to take concrete actions to fight Islamist militants. French President Emmanuel Macron asked Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to contribute to the G5 when he saw him in Riyadh last month.

The European Union, France, the United States and each of the G5 countries have also promised to fund the force.





Civil-military leadership on same page, says Asif after Mattis visit

Dec 5, 2017

Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif said on Monday that the civil-military leadership was on the same page in meetings with US Defence Secretary Jim Mattis.

Talking to a private news channel, the minister said, “We had already exchanged notes with each other for the prime minister had other engagements as well. A single script was discussed at the meetings [on Monday].

“Mattis has been engaged with the Pakistan Army for quite some time and he expressed his resolve for restoration of peace.”

Noting that 125 out of 128 attacks in Pakistan were coordinated from Afghanistan, he said the civil-military leadership stressed on effective border management with Afghanistan and repatriation of Afghan refugees.

The US defence secretary was conveyed that we do not need aid, but understanding, the minister added.

Mattis acknowledged Pakistan’s concerns and said the US wants to maintain a “consistent” relationship with Pakistan, he said.

“To maintain such a relationship, the two sides need to build up trust in each other,” Asif quoted Secretary Mattis as saying at the meetings. “We are aware of the human cost Pakistan has paid in this war on terror.”

He said the US defence secretary was told that Pakistan’s fight against terrorism was greatly hindered by non-provision of F-16 fighter jets by the United States and that such measures limited their capacity [to fight terrorism].

“It was quite a frank exchange overall, in which there was no hostility,” the minister said of the Pakistani leadership’s meetings with the top US official.



Pakistani man arrested for pro-India slogan

4 December 2017

A Pakistani man has been arrested in the city of Haripur for writing "Long live India" on a wall.

Police said the 20-year-old match factory worker had admitted writing the slogan "Hindustan Zindabad".

The Persian term Hindustan continued to be used as a name for the Republic of India after partition.

The man told police he liked Bollywood music and films and wanted to be an actor. He could face up to seven years in jail.

Legal experts say that although the slogan itself is not specifically banned, it could be interpreted under section 505 of the law as incitement to mutiny, endangering the lives of military personnel or incitement to violence against the state.

The man, Sajid Shah, has now been transferred to prison under judicial custody.

Cricket arrests

Investigating officer, Abdul Rehan, told the BBC: "He is the eldest of four brothers and, since the death of his father, is the only breadwinner of the family."

Mr Shah left school to work in the match factory.

The police report said a patrol had been informed of the words on the wall of a house in the Makhan colony.

"The police knocked at the door and a young man came out. He said that he had written those words," the report said.

In January last year, a Pakistani fan and lookalike of Indian cricket captain Virat Kohli was arrested for hoisting India's flag at his home as a tribute to him. He was charged but later acquitted.

Last December, an Indian fan was beaten up and then arrested for wearing a shirt sporting the name of Pakistani cricketer, Shahid Afridi.

Full report at:



JI announces long march for FATA, KP merger

Dec 5, 2017

ISLAMABAD: Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) has announced that it will hold a long march on December 10 to demand the merger of Federally-Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) with Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) province.

The long march will set off from Khyber Pass and culminate in the federal capital.

Moreover, voicing reservations about the recent national census, JI has called for a review of the statistics pertaining to the tribal areas.

Full report at:



Postman priest brings Pakistan-India students closer

December 4, 2017

For the past five years, Father Joseph Kalathil has been delivering letters to students in India and Pakistan, despite deep political animosity between the regional archrivals.

And this year, the Jesuit priest based in Chandigarh, northern India, arrived at the Pakistani border on foot.

He informed fellow Jesuits in Pakistan about his presence at Wagah border crossing, located 24 kilometers from Lahore, in Pakistan's Punjab Province.

"After getting through the passport control, it was only a five minutes' walk and I was in another country," Father Kalathil told ucanews.

The director of his self-styled "Peace Mission" delivered handwritten letters from 32 students at three Indian schools to two Catholic schools in Faisalabad diocese in Pakistan during his Oct. 22 to Nov. 9 visit.

He returned with parcels and replies to the letters he delivered.

Since 2012, he has delivered hundreds of similar colorful letters between students at educational institutes in the neighboring countries.

"I wanted to start with children," he said.

"I do not discuss religion or politics.

"Instead we discuss human rights, peace and friendship."

Sometimes young people rejected him, calling India an enemy.

In such circumstances he responded that even enemies talk.

The 78 year-old-priest also visited a few parishes of Lahore archdiocese and ruins related to St. Thomas in Taxila, Rawalpindi-Islamabad Diocese.

According to tradition, on his way to India St. Thomas passed through Taxila and preached at the court of King Gondophares.


This year, Father Kalathil could not deliver mail to schools of eastern Lahore archdiocese.

Relations between India and Pakistan are at an all-time low, so he was concerned that schools would have faced problems after he left.

"I could not jeopardize the mission," he said.

"Seventy years of hostility and fighting have done irreparable harm and destruction to both the nations.

"Rulers on both sides are encouraging enmity to cement their seats.

"When they cannot deliver or face the nation, they divert public attention."

The nuclear armed South Asian nations maintain a disputed border and regularly fire across the official 'Line of Control' without warning.

The hostility began soon after Pakistan declared independence from India as part of a British backed agreement in 1947.

The restive region of Jammu and Kashmir region has been in dispute as both countries lay claim to it.

The unresolved dispute has led to myriad skirmishes and at least three major wars between India and Pakistan.

A visit of Archbishop Sebastian Shah of Lahore and 13 diocesan priests to three Indian dioceses for an Ecclesial Brotherhood Conference was a highlight of the Lahore chapter last year.  

"The best gift the Church can offer is peace between the two neighboring countries," he said.

"At the time of partition, thousands saved themselves by wearing a cross on their neck because Hindu and Muslim fanatics would not attack Christians.

"Today the same cross can make both countries united and stronger." tried to contact several bishops and priests to comment on the one man-mission of Father Kalathil, but most of them declined citing it as a "sensitive" matter.

Neither church run social media pages or publications covered his visit.

In 2012, Caritas Pakistan launched a "Peace Building Initiative among the Citizens of Pakistan and India" with support of Caritas in Italy.

The project aimed at giving opportunities to young leaders in both countries to engage in dialogue and cultural exchanges.

Full report at:



Probe demanded into killing of ATI attacker ‘disarmed’ by student

December 05, 2017

PESHAWAR: The opposition parties in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly on Monday demanded inquiry into the killing of a terrorist, who was allegedly disarmed and locked up in a room by a student during the Friday’s attack on the Agriculture Training Institute, Peshawar.

The Jamaat-i-Islami, a coalition partner of the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf in the province, also endorsed the demand.

Speaking on a point of order in the house, Pakistan People’s Party member Nighat Orakzai said a student had disarmed one of the attackers and locked him up in a room.

“The police instead of arresting the attacker opened fire at the attacker and killed him in the dormitory,” she said while quoting the student as saying.

The lawmaker said the student, who was under treatment, explained the incident when a group of terrorists stormed the institute.

Minister tells assembly that PPP lawmaker’s information hearsay

She said the police had spoiled evidence by killing the attacker and that the arrest of the terrorist would have provided intelligence agencies with clues to reach handlers, planners and masterminds of the attack on the institute.

The attack had left nine people, including eight students, dead and 28 injured.

The police said three attackers were killed in the security forces’ operation.

Law and parliamentary affairs minister Imtiaz Shahid said the information of the MPA was based on hearsay as he had gone through the police’s report about the attack.

The minister seemed unaware about the attack despite having the police’s report as he said the terrorists had attacked the university.

“According to the police, four or five terrorists were killed in the counterattack on the Agriculture University. There is no truth in the report that the police had killed one attacker, who was disarmed and locked up in the room,” he added.

The minister praised the law-enforcement agencies for averting massacre through their timely response to the attack.

Senior minister Inayatullah Khan, who belongs to the Jamaat-i-Islami, proposed inquiry into the reports about the killing of the ‘disarmed’ attacker.

“There should be an inquiry into the claims of the student,” he said.

The minister supported the opposition’s demand for in-camera briefing for parliamentary leaders about the resurgence of militancy in the province.

He said the police’s chief should brief leaders of political parties about the current surge in attacks.

“(Poet and critic) TS Eliot said April is the cruelest month but I say December is the cruelest month for Peshawar,” he said while referring to the terrorist attack on the Army Public School Peshawar and other brutal incidents occurred in the region in December.

MPAs Syed Jaffar Shah, Sardar Hussain Babak, Sardar Aurangzeb Nalotha, Sikandar Sherpao Mufti Syed Jana and Fakhar Azam of the opposition and Izazul Mulk Afkari of the Jamaat-i-Islami also demanded inquiry into the killing of a ‘disarmed’ attacker.

The lawmakers demanded in-camera briefing on the current situation and revisiting of the National Action Plan by the federal government.

Speaker Asad Qaisar, who was in the chair, ordered inquiry into the statement of the student about the disarming of an attacker.

He admitted an adjournment motion of the opposition to hold detailed discussion on the increase in acts of terrorism.

Also, the house adopted a unanimous resolution demanding of the federal government to ask the Saudi government to release detained Pakistanis and stop their deportation.

PPP MPA Sahibzada Sanaullah moved the resolution claiming thousands of Pakistanis had been detained in Saudi Arabia.

PTI MPA Mehmood Khan raised the issue of delay in the sugarcane crushing by mill owners in Peshawar and Mardan divisions and said the crushing season was supposed to begin on Nov 15 but the mill owners had yet to do so causing losses to farmers.

He said the sugarcane commissioner had yet to announce the new price for sugarcane.

Responding to the point, food minister Qalandar Lodhi acknowledged delay on part of the mill owners and said the sugarcane crushing process had begun in Dera Ismail Khan.

Full report at:



Polarisation of religious vote not a good omen for mainstream parties

December 05, 2017

LAHORE - Polarisation of religious vote bank ahead of the coming elections has set a new dimension which will have implications for major political parties.

People saw emergence of Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan and Milli Muslim League on country’s political landscape in September this year, a development which added to the worries of political parties especially the PML-N which seems to have lost the support of its right-wing base.

A recently formed Brailvi parties alliance with the nomenclature of Nizam-e-Mustafa Muttahida Mahaz, is yet another addition in the list of religious groups aspiring to get their share of votes in the next general election.

Not only this, new alliances of religious parties are also in the making. After the formation of Muttahida Majlise Amal, a group of six religious parties mainly dominated by JUI-F and Jamaat-e-Islami, another religious alliance led by Maulana Sami-ul-Haq is also in the offing. Pakistan Awami Tehreek of Dr Tahirul Qadri and Majlse Wahdatul Muslimeen also exist as religious entities with political ambitions.

One thing is clear that none of major political parties will be the direct beneficiary of religious votes in the next elections unless any of these groups makes alliance or seat adjustment with them.

In the given scenario, the ruling PML-N seems to be the major loser of right-wing vote in Punjab followed by the PTI. However, Imran Khan’s party will have the blessings of right-wingers with the anticipated support of Maulana Samiul Haq.

Also, the polarization among the religious parties will greatly hamper their ambition to make their presence felt in the country’s elected houses. It will only be through making alliances either among them or with mainstream parties that they may achieve their political targets. And, if united, their combined strength may prove a decisive factor in the victory or defeat of candidates in most of the constituencies.

Allama Khadim Rizvi led Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan, a political wing of Tehreek-e-Labaik Ya Rasoolallah, proved its strength in recent by-poll of Lahore and Peshawar. The Brailvi organisation scored around 20,000 votes in both constituencies. The party announced not to make alliance with any of political or religious parties in next election although efforts are being made by Brailvi clerics to enter into alliance with it due to its rising popularity on Khatme Nabuwat issue. The TLP is actively using issue of Mumtaz Qadri, the killer of Punjab governor Salman Tasir, hanging a popular slogan to strengthen its support across the country. 

The Milli Muslim League, a Jamaat-ud-Dawa backed political party, although yet to be registered with the Election Commission Pakistan, but the candidates it backed in Lahore and Peshawar elections secured more than 10,000 votes. The MML is likely to make alliance with JUI-S chief Maulana Sami-ul-Haq-led Pakistan Defence Council, a conglomerate of different small religious and political organisation including PML-Zia of Ijaz-ul-Haq and Shah Zain Bugti’s Jamhori Watan Party.

Religious parties belonging to Brailvi school of thought in November formed Nizam-i-Mustafa Muttahida Mahaz with former federal minister for religious affairs Hamid Saeed Kazmi as its temporary head. Since Gadi Nasheens (heads of shrines) always played important role in elections, their unity will certainly impact election results. The central executive (Shoora) of the Mahaz will decide about any electoral adjustments ahead of 2018 poll.

Revival of Muttahida Majlse Amal, a conglomerate of religious parties belonging to Brailvi, Deobandi, Ahlehadith and Shia schools, is also being considered a major development in uniting right wing vote .

JUP-Imam Noorani of Pir Ijaz Hashmi is currently a part of both Nizam-e-Mustafa Muttahida Mahaz and MMA. But the party insider said it will leave the Mahaz soon.

Similarly, JUI-S of Maulana Sami is no more part of the MMA.

Out of total 84 million registered voters in 2013, JUI-F was polled 1.47 million votes, a 3.2 per cent of the total, JI received around one million, a 2.2 per cent of the total.

Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam Nazryati of Maulana Asmatullah Khan was polled 100,000,

Full report at:



Yemen’s ex-President Ali Abdullah Saleh killed by Houthi militias

4 December 2017

Sources from Yemen's General People's Congress confirmed their leader and ex-President Ali Abdullah Saleh was killed on Monday during fierce clashes in the capital Sanaa with Houthi militias.

A video showed Saleh lying on blanket surrounded by Houthi militias celebrating his death. The short clip aired on a pro-Houthi television channel appears to show Saleh had sustained a head injury, potentially a gunshot wound.

Earlier in the day, militias from Yemen's armed Houthi movement blew up the house of Saleh in the centre of the capital Sanaa on Monday, residents reported.

The previous night, Saleh officially announced the dissolution of his partnership with former Houthi militia allies.

“Zero hour is coming to the battlefield in Sanaa… The country had to be saved from the madness of the Houthi group,” Saleh said in statements on Monday morning.

Full report at:



Hadi calls on Yemenis to rise up against Houthis after Saleh's death

4 December 2017

Yemeni President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi called on Yemenis on Monday to rise up against the Iran-aligned Houthis after the death of former president Ali Abdullah Saleh.

Speaking in a speech carried live on Al Arabiya News Channel, Hadi also called for a new chapter in the fight against the Houthis, who were allied with Saleh before he turned on them and offered to back the Saudi-led coalition.

EXPLAINER: How did Ali Abdullah Saleh die?

Sources from Yemen's General People's Congress confirmed their leader and ex-President Saleh was killed on Monday after being captured in the capital Sanaa by Houthi militias.

Full report at:



Muslim nations call for summit if Trump recognises Jerusalem as Israel’s capital

Dec 04, 2017

The Organisation of Islamic Cooperation on Monday called for a summit of Muslim nations if the United States takes the controversial decision to recognise Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

President Donald Trump faces a key decision this week over Jerusalem’s status, potentially reversing years of US policy and prompting a furious response from the Palestinians and the Arab world.

The 57-member OIC sought to amplify concern over the possible move in an emergency meeting on Monday in the Saudi Red Sea city of Jeddah.

“If the United States takes the step of recognising Jerusalem as the so-called capital of Israel, we unanimously recommend holding a meeting at the level of council of foreign ministers followed by an Islamic summit as soon as possible,” the pan-Islamic body said in a statement.

The OIC also warned that recognising Jerusalem or establishing any diplomatic mission in the disputed city would be seen as a “blatant attack on the Arab and Islamic nations”.

The status of Jerusalem is one of the most contentious issues of the long-running Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Most of the international community, including the United States, does not formally recognise Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, insisting the issue can only be resolved through final-status negotiations.

Central to the issue of recognition is the question of whether Trump decides to move the US embassy in Israel to Jerusalem.

All foreign embassies are located in Tel Aviv with consular representation in Jerusalem.

Israelis and Palestinians are eagerly watching to see whether he again renews a waiver delaying the move, as his predecessors have done.

There are suggestions that Trump will sign the waiver and decline to move the embassy for now, but later this week declare Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

Israel, which seized the largely Arab eastern sector of Jerusalem during the 1967 Six-Day War and later annexed it, claims both halves of the city as its “eternal and undivided capital”.

But the Palestinians want the eastern sector as capital of their promised state and fiercely oppose any Israeli attempt to extend sovereignty there.

Full report at:



Yemen’s rebel alliance crumbles as ‘street war’ rocks capital

December 04, 2017

Gun battles forced shops and schools to close in Yemen’s capital Sanaa on Sunday as residents warned a three-year rebel alliance was collapsing into a “street war”.

The Iran-backed Houthi rebels’ partnership with powerful ex-president Ali Abdullah Saleh appeared to have fallen apart after he reached out to a Saudi-led coalition fighting the insurgents.

The Houthis’ political office on Saturday accused Saleh of staging a “coup” against “an alliance he never believed in”.

On Sunday, Saleh loyalists cut off a number of streets in central Sanaa and deployed heavily in anticipation of Houthi attacks, as security sources said clashes this week had left some 60 dead across the capital and at its international airport.

Saleh loyalists renewed a bid to seize control of Al-Jarraf district, a stronghold of the Iran-backed Houthis, who fortified their positions with dozens of vehicles mounted with machineguns, witnesses said.

They said the Houthis had brought reinforcements from their northern strongholds and deployed them in the south of the capital.

The Houthis seized the home of rebel interior minister Mohammed Abdullah al-Waqsi, who is close to Saleh, killing three of his bodyguards and detaining others, Saleh sources said.

And Houthi rebels killed Mohammed al-Zarka, a tribal leader close to Saleh, in Omran just north of the capital and members of his family, the same sources said.

Sanaa residents said they had barricaded themselves in their homes to avoid snipers and shelling as clashes flared up around key ministries where the two sides had been working together just days before.

The education ministry cancelled classes on Sunday, normally the start of the school week, and witnesses said some bodies of those killed in previous clashes this week were still lying in the streets.

Iyad al-Othmani, 33, said he had not left his house for three days because of the clashes.

Mohammed Abdullah, a private sector employee, said his street had been cut off by militiamen and he was staying home to avoid checkpoints.

“Sanaa is becoming like a ghost town. There is a street war and people are holed up in their houses,” said an activist who works with the International Organisation for Migration in Sanaa.

“If the confrontation continues, many families will be cut off” and stranded in their homes, he warned.

Three years after they joined forces to drive the government of President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi from Sanaa, the collapse of the Houthi-Saleh alliance is a key shift in Yemen’s complex war.

Saleh ruled Yemen as president for 33 years after the 1990 unification of north and south Yemen .

A longtime ally of Saudi Arabia, he waged six separate wars against the Houthis, Zaidi Shias who hail from northern Yemen .

Saleh resigned under popular and political pressure in 2012, ceding power to his then-vice president Hadi, who now lives in exile in Saudi Arabia.

Full report at:



Hadi urges Yemenis to join fight against Iran-backed Houthis after Saleh murder


5 December 2017

JEDDAH: Yemen President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi on Monday rallied his countrymen in areas controlled by Houthis to rise up against the Iran-backed militia, who had just murdered their erstwhile ally former president Ali Abdullah Saleh.

In a televised address, Hadi said the Yemeni Army, which has surrounded Sanaa, was ready to support all efforts that aimed to eradicate the Houthis. The legitimate Yemeni government had extended its hand to all sincere Yemeni citizens to start a new page in the country’s future and to establish a new Yemen, based on pluralism, democracy and freedom, he said.

“Yemen is passing through a decisive turning point that needs our unity and steadfastness in the face of these sectarian militias,” Hadi said. “Let’s put our hands together to end this nightmare.”

Saleh was assassinated on Monday by Houthi militias, two days after he broke ranks over disagreements with his allies.

The militias overran Saleh’s home in the capital, Sanaa, and the former leader fled south toward his home village of Sanhan. Houthi gunmen halted his four-vehicle convoy 40 km from the city and opened fire. Saleh, 75, was killed along with Arif Al-Zouka, secretary-general of the former president’s General People’s Congress party, and Al-Zouka’s deputy Yasir Al-Awadi.

Video posted on social media showed Saleh’s motionless body with a gaping head wound, his eyes open but glassy, and blood staining his shirt under a dark suit. The footage showed Houthis carrying the body in a blanket and dumping it in a pickup truck.

Saleh ruled Yemen for more than 30 years, stitching alliances and playing off one tribe against another. He once described governing the country as like dancing on the heads of snakes.

The former president was replaced in 2012 by his deputy, Hadi, against whom he joined forces with the Houthis to stage a coup. Saudi Arabia formed a military coalition in 2015 to restore Hadi’s internationally recognized government. On Saturday, Saleh had turned his back on the Houthis and offered talks with the Saudi-led coalition.

Rajeh Badi, a spokesman for the Hadi government, said it was a sad day in the history of Yemen.

He said the assassination was “yet another crime added to the bloody record of the Iran-backed Houthi militias. The gravity of the inhumane murder of Saleh should move all Yemenis to stand behind the legitimate government against the coup militias who have brought only chaos and destruction to Yemen, to the Yemeni people, and whose aim is to implement a sectarian Iranian agenda in the region.

“The act is further proof that these militias adopt an ideology of exclusion. We call upon the Yemeni people to make the assassination of Ali Abdullah Saleh a turning point in the country’s history and encourage all people to join ranks with the legitimate government and against the evil terrorists.”

Dr. Hamdan Al-Shehri, a Saudi political analyst and international relations scholar in Riyadh, said Saleh’s death was sad news but would unite all Yemenis against the Houthis.

“It is very clear now that this is a fight between Arabs and Persians. All Arabs and Muslims will unite against the machinations of Iran,” he told Arab News. “This will turn out to be the death-knell for Iran.”

Al-Shehri said Saleh had miscalculated when he aligned himself with the Houthis. “He thought he could share power with them. He should have known better. The Iranians never share power. They want everything for themselves or else they kill — which is what happened with Saleh.”

Saleh’s supporters “need a leader tonight to rally them and the Yemeni people against the Houthis,” Al-Shehri said. He suggested Saleh’s son, Ahmed, commander of the elite Republic Guard and former ambassador to the UAE, where he now lives.

“There can be no better leader than Ahmed, who Saleh was grooming as his heir, and who will want to avenge the death of his father and restore stability to Yemen.”

Saudi writer Abdel Aziz Aluwaisheg, writing in Arab News, said: “Saleh paid with his life for defying the Iranian-backed Houthi militias. Many Yemenis have met similar fates when they dared to stand in the way of the Houthi project.”

Aluwaisheg said assassination was a favorite tactic of the Houthi militias and other pro-Iranian groups such as Hezbollah in Lebanon and the Assad regime in Syria.

“Former Prime Minister of Lebanon Rafiq Hariri met a similar fate in 2005, as did many prominent Lebanese political figures, journalists, writers and religious leaders,” he said.

Meanwhile, fighting and air strikes have intensified in Sanaa, where roads were blocked and tanks were deployed on many streets, trapping civilians and halting delivery of vital aid including fuel to supply clean water, the UN said on Monday.

Some of the fiercest clashes were around the diplomatic area near the UN compound, while aid flights in and out of Sanaa airport had been suspended, the UN said after its appeal for a humanitarian pause on Tuesday.

Full report at:



Quds status change to lead to catastrophe, Turkey warns

Dec 4, 2017

Turkish authorities have warned that any change in the current status of Israeli-occupied East Jerusalem al-Quds, as proposed by the United States, would lead to a major catastrophe in the region.

“If the status of Jerusalem (al-Quds) is changed and another step is taken ... that would be a major catastrophe,” Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Bekir Bozdag said Monday, adding, “It would completely destroy the fragile peace process in the region, and lead to new conflicts, new disputes and new unrest.”

The remarks came amid reports that the administration of US President Donald Trump was considering recognizing Jerusalem al-Quds as Israel’s new capital.

Experts say Trump is seeking to compensate for a withdrawal from his pledges during last year’s election campaign that he would move the US embassy in the occupied Palestinian territories from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem al-Quds.

The entire Jerusalem al-Quds is under Israel’s occupation, including its eastern neighborhood, which is home to al-Aqsa Mosque, the third holiest site in Islam.

The international community views Israel’s grip on East Jerusalem al-Quds, which took place in the Six-Day War of 1967, as an “occupation.” It also insists that the fate of the city should be decided in negotiations.

Palestinian authorities have warned against the ramifications of a US potential recognition of Jerusalem al-Quds as Israel’s capital, trying to rally international support against it.

Bozdag said the move would create a new mess for the Middle East region.

“It would not benefit anything. Rather than open new doors, it would drag the region into a new disaster,” said the official, who also serves as the spokesman of the Turkish government.

Full report at:



Houthi: We managed to thwart major threat to Yemen’s security

Dec 4, 2017

Leader of Yemen’s Ansarullah movement, Abdul-Malik al-Houthi, says the movement has managed to thwart a major threat to the country’s security by defeating the plot hatched by former president, Ali Abdullah Saleh, and his forces.

He added that despite his early pretense about being opposed to Saudi aggression, Saleh finally changed course and took sides with the aggressors.

Noting that everybody was taken by surprise by Saleh’s sudden change of course, Houthi noted that the fighting in the capital Sana'a in past days had worried people about security and unity in the country.

After they revealed their new position, Houthi said, we asked them to stop their warmongering and criminal activities and told them this was the wrong course that they had taken.

Houthi added, “However, they declined our request and continued with their wrong pro-Saudi approach and ended up with blocking the capital’s streets.”

“They intended to do the same in other provinces and cities … but today, this plot was defeated very quickly,” he said.

Noting that recent positions taken by Saleh were openly in favor of Yemen’s enemies, the leader of Ansarullah said Saleh’s positions, which were backed by a united media front of the enemies even took members of his own party by surprise.

Houthi said there was coordination between Saleh’s militia and the Saudi-led coalition, which provided them with air support in order to conquer Sana'a and end the war in Yemen in their favor.

He added that the aggressor forces also imposed a tight blockade on the Yemeni people in order to undermine the nation’s resistance and pave the way for victory of Saleh’s forces.

Houthi noted that the Muslim people of Yemen and their resistance and support for the Houthi fighters were the main factors that helped Yemeni forces defuse aggressors’ conspiracy.

Referring to the failure of efforts made by Saudi Arabia and its allies, including the United States and the UK, he said, “They are consumed by their anger and we tell them die of your own anger,” because whatever you do will make the Yemeni nation more resistant and vigilant.

Houthi stated that despite all enemies' plots, the Yemeni nation will continue to become more resistant and stronger, and other enemies must learn a lesson from the failure of Saleh’s plot in Sana'a.

The war launched by Saleh’s militia was, in fact, continuation of the war launched by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates against Yemen and this was proven through provision of air support and other forms of assistance for Saleh’s militias by the Saudi-led coalition.

He also called on all political forces in Yemen to remain united and form a single front to defend the country’s freedom and independence and defeat the enemy’s plots.

He emphasized that the Houthi Ansarullah considered members of Saleh’s General People's Congress (GPC) as their brothers, most of whom cooperated in defending the country against the aggressors.

He warned against any act of retaliation against members of the GPC, noting that Ansarullah movement would not allow such moves, which seek to create rifts among the nation.

Elsewhere in his remarks, Houthi referred to firing of a cruise missile by the Yemeni forces at a nuclear installation near the United Arab Emirates (UAE) capital of Abu Dhabi on Sunday, saying, “We showed them that they must not underestimate our capabilities.”

The Houthi leader also advised all foreign companies working in Saudi Arabia and the UAE to leave those countries for the lack of security due to “our missile” power.

He also urged potential foreign investors to invest instead in Oman, Kuwait and even in the Yemeni capital if they sought more security for their investments.

Full report at:



South Asia


Pope Francis equates gossip in religious life to terrorism

December 2, 2017

Pope Francis has compared the mentality of religious men and women who engage in gossip to that of terrorists.

He elaborated that such people are “enemies” of religion.

The pope was speaking to men and women religious and seminarians in the Bangladeshi capital, Dhaka, towards the end of a three-day visit to the populous Muslim-majority nation.

The pope departed from a prepared speech and spoke extemporaneously in Italian, which was translated into English to the delight of his audience.

Pope Francis likened the life of a religious in developing wisdom, faith and service to a growing plant.

“God sows the seed, and God is the one who provides for its growth,” said Pope Francis.

Nonetheless, the religious vocation had a role to play in tending to spiritual needs akin to the care of a child or a sick person.

The pope then spoke of the tendency of priests, nuns, and the religious to gossip.

“The tongue, brothers and sisters, can destroy a community by speaking badly about another person,” said Pope Francis.

The pontiff added that talk about others behind their backs could result in distrust, jealousy, and division.

Gossips, like terrorists, acted in a clandestine way without publicly declaring themselves.

“A terrorist says it in a private, crude way, then throws the bomb and it explodes,” said the pope.

Gossips would do well to hold their tongues, he added.

“How many communities have been destroyed through the spirit of gossip?” Pope Francis asked his audience rhetorically.

Speaking for about 15 minutes, Pope Francis also expressed admiration for elderly priests, bishops, and nuns whom had “lived a full life.”

The pope, however, said it is personally painful when he sees priests, consecrated people, and even bishops, who are not happy.

He described them as having a “vinegar face” and a “soured face” because they only worried about recognition and always tried to compare themselves to others.

“There is no joy in that way of thinking,” said Pope Francis.

Rather, there was much to be achieved through prayer.

“To pray means to ask the Lord to look after us, that he give us the tenderness that we have to then pass on to others,” the pope said.

Holy Cross Brother Romeo Paul Rozario described the pope's comments about gossip as a timely warning.

“It was an auspicious moment for me to listen to the words of the pope,” said Brother Rozario, who also teaches English at St. Paul’s School in the Diocese of Khulna in the southern part of Bangladesh.

Brother Rozario traveled for almost ten hours from his diocese to meet the pope.

His effort was rewarded when he was seated very close to the pontiff.

In his address, Pope Francis reiterated his admiration of Bangladesh’s example in promoting interreligious dialogue and harmony, something that he said should also be practiced in religious communities.

Pope Francis ended his visit to Bangladesh by meeting young people at Notre Dame University, the only Catholic university in the country.



Afghan war widows pay heavy price for husband's sacrifice

December 05, 2017

Noorullah Shirzada - Widowed Afghan grandmother Janat Bibi has no adult males left in her family after the Taliban killed her son and two grandsons during an attack on their police base a few months ago.

Such bereavements are often a double tragedy for an increasing number of poverty-stricken families like hers in Afghanistan - they have lost not only a loved one, but also their main income earner. Bibi and the men's widows now battle to support 12 children in a remote village in the eastern province of Nangarhar where there are few jobs for men, let alone for women.

"We have not received any help from the government since I lost my son and grandsons. They were the only breadwinners of this big family," the 65-year-old told AFP as she sat crying in her stone and mud house in Shemol.

Bibi, who was widowed during the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan in the 1980s, said she had supported the men's decision to join the police in the restive southeastern province of Zabul despite the risks. Afghan security forces are facing soaring casualties as they struggle to beat back the Taliban - but the combined monthly salary of 36,000 afghanis ($530) was more than her relatives could hope to earn in Shemol.

The loss of their fathers' incomes means the children have to work alongside their mothers in nearby fields to help eke out a meagre living for the family, instead of attending the local outdoor school. Their plight is shared by others in the 4,500-strong village where around 900 men, or 20 percent of the population, have joined the security forces.

"Casualties are on the rise," provincial council member Amir Mohammad told AFP noting dozens of bodies had been brought back to the village in recent months.

Soaring casualties, more widows

Many of Afghanistan's more than 330,000-strong security forces come from villages much like Shemol, which is some 70 kilometres (about 44 miles) from the provincial capital Jalalabad.

With economic prospects bleak in the war-torn country, men like Bibi's relatives often join in a gamble they will survive to support their families.

But casualty rates have leapt since NATO pulled its combat forces out of Afghanistan since 2014. More than 2,500 Afghan security forces were killed in the first four months of this year alone, according to US watchdog SIGAR.

The soaring deaths leave more and more widows particularly vulnerable in the male-dominated country, where they are often regarded as a burden and subjected to violence.

Mostly illiterate and with little or no experience of working outside the home, they have few options to earn money if their husbands die.

While widows of security forces killed in action are entitled to receive their husband's salary until they remarry or their children turn 18, many women do not know how to access the financial benefits, a UN report has said.

The widows are required to submit documents to the authorities proving their connection to the dead soldier or policeman, according to the labour and social affairs ministry.

"The survivors have to come to us," ministry spokesman Abdul Fatah Ahmadzai told AFP, adding: "Nobody is left out."

But Help for Afghan Heroes, an Afghan non-profit organisation supporting 5,000 families of wounded or dead security forces, said corruption was a key reason many women did not receive assistance. "

They are asked to pay a bribe to get the application (for benefits) processed and they often don't have the money," Nasreen Sharar, special projects officer for the group, told AFP.

One way out

The family of Malekzada, who was also a policeman in Zabul until he was killed by the Taliban two years ago, find themselves in the same plight as Bibi's.

The 27-year-old man left behind a wife, elderly mother and two children in Shemol who are now struggling to earn enough money for food. "We lost our only breadwinner two years ago," the elderly mother told AFP. "Every day from dawn to dusk we work for landlords cleaning grain. We have received no assistance from anyone since I lost my son. Life is really difficult for us." Bibi said her male relatives had joined the police "to make some money and serve their country" - but her family has not even received official acknowledgement of their service, much less financial aid. Now, she says, "we hardly make ends meet".

Given the economic prospects in the war-torn country, there appears to be only one way out - by perpetuating the cycle.

Full report at:



Foreigners among 6 killed in latest US airstrikes in East of Afghanistan

Dec 04 2017

At least six militants including two foreigners were killed in the latest airstrikes conducted in eastern Nangarhar province of Afghanistan.

The provincial police commandment in a statement said the airstrikes were carried out on Sunday in the vicinity of Haska Mina district.

The statement further added that the hideouts of the terror group were targeted in Awghaz and Jani Khel areas of the district, leaving six of them dead, including two foreign insurgents.

No further details were given regarding the identities of the foreign insurgents killed in the airstrikes but the police commandment said the local residents and security personnel did not suffer any casualties.

This comes as at least eight militants affiliated with the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) terrorist group were killed in separate airstrikes conducted in eastern Nangarhar province of Afghanistan.

According to the local officials, the airstrikes were carried out on Saturday in the vicinity of Achin districts, targeting the militant in two separate locations.

The provincial government media office issued a statement confirmed that eight militants were killed in the airstrikes carried out by the unmanned aerial vehicles of the foreign forces.

Full report at:



Taliban issues contradictory statements as airstrikes gain momentum

Dec 04 2017

The Taliban group in Afghanistan continues to issue contradictory statements as airstrikes continue to gain momentum, mainly targeting the financial resources of the group.

The Taliban group has issued two contradictory statements for a single incident involving airstrike in southeastern Ghazni province of Afghanistan.

Mujahid in a statement said the Mi-25 choppers supplied by India targeted a mosque in Deh Yak district, leaving a civilian wounded.

However, Muajahid issued another statement claiming that the target of the airstrike was a hospital that wounded a civilian.

This comes as the commander of the NATO-led Resolute Support Mission and the US forces in Afghanistan Gen. John Nicholson says the attacks on Taliban financial engine will continue as heavy losses have been inflicted on the group and its associated in recent raids.

Speaking to reporters in Pentagon via video teleconference, Gen. Nicholson said operations under the new permissions have already begun, as Afghan and coalition forces struck the source of the Taliban’s finances: the narcotics trade.

Full report at:





14 denied entry into India — for looking like Muslim preachers

Predeep Nambiar

December 5, 2017

GEORGE TOWN: A Penang roti bakar (toasted bread) shop owner and his 13 friends’ trip to India turned sour after they were refused entry upon landing at the Chennai International Airport for allegedly “looking like Muslim preachers”.

The 14 Indian Muslim men from Penang sported long beards, wore a jubah (long dress) and kopiah (skullcaps).

They arrived in Chennai at 10pm Indian time last Saturday via Malaysia Airlines flight MH180 from Kuala Lumpur.

Ahmad Ansari Abdul Jabbar, 51, of Hutton Lane roti bakar shop fame, said they were not there to preach but were there on a two-week tour of north and south India.

He said their original plan was to stay overnight in Chennai and fly to New Delhi the next afternoon to kickstart their northern Indian cities tour.

The group was supposed to visit Ajmer, New Delhi, Simla and other attractions in the north for the first week, and to the southern Indian cities during the second week.

“When we arrived at the airport, an immigration officer at the counter asked for the purpose of our visit and we said we were going on a group tour.

“We were then politely asked to meet a senior immigration officer. He interrogated us for 30 minutes and said ‘we have to send all of you back’.

“When we asked why, the officer said there is a ban on Muslim preachers, after an incident in Haryana. The officer told us the orders came from the central government in New Delhi.

“We told them, no, we were not preachers. But that fell onto deaf ears.

“We are fully aware of the rights of countries to bar people from entering. What wrong could it be to be just a Muslim tourist?

“The Indian government must explain,” he said.

Ansari said later an Indian immigration officer informed him and the group that they were being sent back to Malaysia as they were travelling using a wrong visa.

“We have travelled to India many times before. We have also got the right visa as determined by the Indian Visa Service in Kuala Lumpur

“Why grant us a visa when we are not welcome in the country?”

Ansari said the group was made to wait in a holding area for more than 12 hours before their next flight to Kuala Lumpur at 1.30pm.

Ansari said they were not allowed to purchase food from the airport but ordered food to be delivered from a restaurant outside the airport.

Ansari said each of the 14 people in the group had paid RM3,500 to the tour agent based in Penang for their trip, which included airfare, lodging, transport and food costs.

He said their money invested into the trip was “burnt” as everything was already paid for.

Another member of the group, Mohamed bin Kassim, 58, said a group of Muslim Africans, who were similarly attired and with beards, were also turned back.

“They were in another line and they, too, were stopped from entering India,” he said.



UP Family That Took Up Islam Five Years Ago Re-Converts, Says VHP Helped

by Manish Sahu

December 5, 2017

Five years after embracing Islam, a family from Saharanpur supposedly re-converted to Hinduism at an Arya Samaj temple, helped by the local VHP and RSS. The family alleged that they were being harassed by a Muslim man.

Dharamveer, a 55-year-old businessman from Kotla in Saharanpur and a Jat by caste, had changed his name to Mohammad Saad after converting in 2012. His family supposedly followed suit — wife Mamta became Mariyam, daughter Shivani was rechristened Jainab, and sons Saurabh and Rahul became Shoaib and Rashid, respectively.

On Sunday, at a local Arya Samaj temple, Dharamveer, his wife and daughter resumed their earlier identities. The sons were away at the time and will re-convert once they were back too, Dharamveer said.

He said he took the help of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad and the RSS, who “organised a reconversion ritual”.

The VHP’s Saharanpur district president Mangeram said: “A few days ago, Dharamveer approached me and requested to organise a conversion ritual for his family. The VHP, along with RSS workers, arranged for it at the Arya Samaj temple in Sukedi village Sunday.”

Dharamveer also claimed that he had lodged a complaint with the Gagoh police, which was not taken cognizance of. Police, however, denied this. Station house officer, Gangoh, Sanjeev Kumar said, “Dharamveer never approached the police with any complaint of harassment.”

Dharamveer, who runs an automobile spare-parts shop, said: “I had decided to embrace Islam along with my family in 2012 following differences with my father (late) Vijay Pal. We used to offer namaaz since then.”

He said: “Over a year ago, a man named Asif started harassing my 19-year-old daughter whenever she left the house. I complained about it to his parents, but it did not work. I even approached other people in the community, but they also did not help. Irked by their attitude, my wife and daughter stopped offering namaaz six months back.”

Full report at:



Final Ayodhya hearing starts today, litigants have a common plea: decide, once and for all

by Rakesh Sinha

December 5, 2017

Their fathers and gurus spent a lifetime in courts, battling for title rights to 2.77 acres, a dispute that spawned high-voltage politics, divided communities, triggered riots and wounded India each flare-up.

Mahant Dinendra Das, Haji Mehboob and Iqbal Ansari are not sure what their lawyers will tell the Supreme Court Tuesday when it starts hearing cross-appeals against the Allahabad High Court verdict that partitioned the disputed site among three parties, awarding each a third of the land. But these three men, in three different corners of Ayodhya, want the Supreme Court to “resolve this once and for all” and “let Ayodhya and the country move on”.

As he prepared to head to Delhi for the court hearing, Iqbal Ansari, whose father Hashim was the oldest litigant in the Ayodhya lawsuit till he passed away last year, told The Indian Express: “It is up to the Supreme Court now. We will accept whatever the court decides. But it must decide and bring this to an end. That’s what my father wanted, and that’s what I want.”

Ansari believes there’s no room for an out-of-court settlement. “We (Muslims) will never sign on any paper giving up our claim. It is a title dispute and the court must determine whose claim is right. Ayodhya is sacred land and there are sentiments, but a title dispute is not about faith and sentiments. There has to be a judicial decision.”

“My father and I have never been against a Ram temple. Build a Ram temple in Ayodhya, but let there be a mosque as well. How can we be told to build a mosque elsewhere? There are 36 mosques, big and small, in and around Ayodhya, and some are near temples. There has never been a problem with that,” Ansari said.

In September 2010, the Allahabad High Court ruled that Nirmohi Akhara, Sunni Central Wakf Board, UP and Ramlalla Virajman were joint holders of the disputed property, and awarded each a third of the land at the site. In May 2011, the Supreme Court stayed the operation of the order, calling it “strange” because “the decree of partition was not sought by the parties… not prayed by anyone”.

Also Read | Babri demolition 25 years later: How High Court saw answer in split verdict

Ordering status quo at the site, the Supreme Court restrained any kind of religious activity on the adjoining 67.7 acres acquired by the government a month after the destruction of the Babri Masjid on December 6, 1992.

And now, more than seven years after the High Court ruling, the Supreme Court will start final hearings on the order.

Mahant Dinendra Das, who shrugged off a rival claim by Mahant Ram Das to head the Nirmohi Akhara after the death of their guru, Mahant Bhaskar Das, in September this year, too says it is up to the Supreme Court now.

While he does not deny talks or efforts for an out-of-court resolution — “sadbhavna bana ke rakhni hai na” (harmony has to be maintained) — Mahant Dinendra Das concedes that the Sunni Central Wakf Board will never sign on any agreement paper out of court. Read | Whose title? Ayodhya returns to SC today

Much of these recent efforts for an out-of-court resolution have to do with the moves of the Shia Central Wakf Board, UP, which has jumped into the fray. It has not only questioned the claim of the Sunni Central Wakf Board but also suggested that the mosque be built at “a reasonable distance” from the “place of birth of Maryada Purushottam Ram” in order “to bring a quietus to the issue”.

Claiming that Mir Baqi, a Shia, built the Babri Masjid in 1528, the Shia board has staked claim to the disputed site. Its chief Waseem Rizvi has met, among others, Mahant Nritya Gopal Das, president of the Ramjanmabhoomi Nyas that spearhead the VHP’s campaign in Ayodhya in the 1990s.

But Haji Mehboob, who succeeded his father, Haji Pheku, as a defendant in the Ayodhya lawsuit, rejects these moves. “They are not even a party to the case. We have no objection to a Ram temple. But this is for the court to decide now. Our paperwork is strong, Muslims have a strong case. Parties to the case can always sit and talk. But the VHP is not even a party in this case. They don’t even want to accept that we have a case.”

Full report at:



J&K: Abu Ismail successor among two LeT militants killed in encounter

by Mir Ehsan

December 5, 2017

TWO Lashkar-e-Taiba militants and a soldier were killed in an encounter in south Kashmir’s Kulgam district on Monday. According to police, the militants were earlier involved in an attack on an Army convoy that left two soldiers injured.

The police have said the two militants were foreigners. One of them was identified as Furkan, who was the acting divisional commander of Lashkar in south Kashmir. Police said he was the successor of Abu Ismail, the mastermind of the Amarnath attack who was killed in an encounter in September.

On Monday afternoon, militants opened fire on an Army convoy on Srinagar-Jammu national highway, around 7 km from Anantnag town. The road opening party and the Armymen who were part of the convoy retaliated. The militants, officials said, fled and took shelter in a house at a nearby village. Security personnel soon cordoned off the house and an encounter followed.

Jammu and Kashmir’s Director General of Police S P Vaid said the encounter is still on at Nussu Badergund in Qazigund area. “Two bodies of militants have been found,’’ he said.

Vaid tweeted, “Furkan, a Pakistani terrorist who took over as divisional commander of LeT after the elimination of Ismail, was killed in today’s encounter at Qazigund along with another terrorist identified as Abu Mavia. Great success for security forces.”

Army spokesperson Col Rajesh Kalia said two militants were killed in the encounter. ‘’One soldier was killed and another injured in the operation that is still in progress.’’

Residents said three youths were injured when villagers tried to march towards the encounter site and police used force to disperse the crowd.

Full report at:



Al-Qaeda releases audio on Rohingyas asking Muslim community to help refugees

Dec 04, 2017

Kashmiri and Rohingyas Muslims found a prominent mention in a new audio file released by the media wing of the Al-Qaeda in Indian Subcontinent (AQIS), an Islamist militant organisation, asking south Asia’s Muslim community to “help the oppressed”.

In the audio released last week, AQIS lauds the “efforts” of Bangladesh in supporting Rohingyas fleeing Myanmar and praised the Kashmiri community for raising their voice “despite being in suffering themselves”.

The Islamist outfit reiterated the call for Jihad against India and other nations including US, Russia and Israel, saying that these countries were in alliance when it came to fight Islam and were “happy till the time Islam is in mosques”. “The moment Islam pours out into society and the legal system, they do not tolerate that,” he added.

The voice in the 12-minute audio address was identified as that of AQIS spokesperson Ustadh Usama Mahmood.

He said there were “two categories of help” by which subcontinent’s Muslims could assist the “oppressed” one of which was by providing financial and other assistance to Rohingyas. The second way, said Mahmood, was to “stop the hand of the cruel”.

Full report at:



Muslim trio guards, dresses and lights up Ram idol

Rohan Dua

Dec 5, 2017

AYODHYA: For the past two decades, whenever heavy rain or storms have broken the sharp, barbed concertina wires guarding the Ram Janmabhoomi + perimeter in Ayodhya, the public works department (PWD) has sought Abdul Wahid's help.

The 38-year-old welder, equipped with rusty arc welders, plasma cutters, gas and rods, helps to maintain the temple's security -- for Rs 250 per day and the joy he gets from the task he performs.

Sadiq Ali stitches kurtas, sadris (colloquial for jackets in Uttar Pradesh), pagdis and trousers. He takes special pride in stitching 'vastra' (clothes) for the "Ram lalla" (infant Ram) idol every few months on request from the head priest of the Ram Janmabhoomi temple. "God is one for all of us," says Ali.

His friend, Mehboob, had first brought a three-phase motor that excavated underground water near Sita Kund for the community kitchen at Ram Janmabhoomi in 1995. Since then, Mehboob has been a regular feature at most temples in the town to look after electricity works. He also ensures that the site where the Ram Lalla idol is kept is lit up round-the-clock.

All three have an association with the temple that goes back decades. "I began working at the temple in 1994 when I was learning the ropes of electrical work from my father. I am an Indian and Hindus are my brothers. They bring wires and other material from Kanpur and I fit them. The work I do makes me proud," Wahid told TOI.

He recalled when five LeT men drove a jeep into the security cordon and launched a grenade attack at the makeshift Ram temple in 2005. "Since then, I have been making barriers and repairing them outside the temple. Terrorism knows no religion. Like me, there are many CRPF and policemen who work round the clock," added Wahid.

Ali told TOI, "For the last 50 years, my family, I and my son have been stitching clothes for Hindus, including priests and saints. I have been making sadris for all petitioners in the Ram Temple-Babri Masjid dispute — right from the days of Ramchandra Das Paramhans till the recent heads of Hanumangarhi Temple or Kanak Bhawan's Ramesh Das. But what gives me the greatest satisfaction is making satin outfits for Ram Lalla," said Ali.

The 57-year-old's shop — Babu Tailors — is on land that belongs to the Hanumangarhi temple and he pays Rs 70 as monthly rent to the temple.

The three often meet over tea or take long walks with priests along the banks of the Saryu river.

Full report at:



Jawan, 2 terrorists killed in encounter in J&K’s Kulgam

M Saleem Pandit

Dec 4, 2017

SRINAGAR: An Army jawan and two terrorists, including a Pakistani, were killed in an encounter in south Kashmir's Kulgam district on Monday afternoon. A civilian was also injured in the firefight, which ensued after militants attacked an Army convoy, said Army spokesman Colonel Rajesh Kalia.

Sources said a group of militants opened indiscriminate fire upon a patrolling party of the Army in Bounigam village of Qazigund area, in which three soldiers were injured. The soldiers were rushed to the 92 Base Hospital in Badami Bagh.

Soon after the attack, the Army cordoned off the area and launched a search operation to nab the assailants, who had taken shelter in a nearby house. As the soldiers neared the hiding spot, the militants opened fire, triggering an encounter.

Sepoy Jitender Singh succumbed after sustaining critical injuries. Two militants, including one from Pakistan, were also killed in the gunfight which lasted all day. A 23-year-old civilian, Suhail Ahmad Khan, a resident of Nessu Badragund was also injured in the firing.

In a separate development, three unidentified gunmen barged into a Jammu and Kashmir Bank branch in Noorpora village of Tral in south Kashmir's Pulwama district, and fled with Rs 1 lakh cash on Monday afternoon. The miscreants allegedly fired in the air and damaged some bank equipment before decamping, said eyewitnesses.

Full report at:





Libya: Several Nationalities Behind the Slave Trade in Libya


By Mohammed Momoh

Abuja — The human trafficking in Libya was conducted by many nationalities, including sub-Saharan Africans, a victim said. A Cameroonian returnee from Libya, Mr Foka Fotsi, who was trafficked twice, said that one of the places where he was held was owned by Ghanaians and Nigerians.

Speaking to the Africareview in Abuja, the returnee, accused one Charles, a Nigerian from Edo State, as the trafficking kingpin.

"There was torture like I've never seen. They hit you with wooden bats, with iron bars," he said, showing the still red wounds on his skull.

"They hang you from the ceiling by (your) arms and legs and then throw you down to the floor. They swing you and throw you against the wall, over and over again, 10 times.

Nigeria to bring back distressed citizens from abroad

"They are not human beings. They are the devil personified," Fotsi narrated.

The UN-recognised Libyan government has pledged a comprehensive investigation on the claims of slave trade in the country.

The Libyan Charge d' Affairs in Nigeria, Dr Attai Alkhoder, said on Friday in Abuja that it was important to address the human trade market claims.

The claims were triggered by a CNN network report that the North African state had a human trade market.

Dr Alkhoder doubted the claims based on the teachings of Islam, traditions of Libyan people, and the commitment to the International Principles of Human Rights and the International and Regional agreement on Human Right.

"The Libyan Government has instructed the relevant authorities to carry out comprehensive investigations on the claim according to the law and to reveal its findings to the local and international community.

"Also, to apprehend and punish the persons responsible for human trafficking of immigrants and human trading," he said.

Ghana mad at Libya slave auctions

The diplomat stated that the problems associated with the illegal immigration should be addressed by the international community as a whole.

He said that Libya considered such matters, if accurate, to be as a result of illegal immigration and rejected being held responsible for them.

Solving the issue of illegal immigrants, he went on, was a collective responsibility of the countries of origin, transit and destination.

Dr Alkhoder said Libya spent a lot of money to construct and manage camps to accommodate the immigrants and facilitate their voluntary return to their countries.

"Therefore, there is a need for practical and effective measures between the countries of origin, transit, destination and International and Regional organisations concerned."



S. African Muslims demand prayer room in hospital


Muslims in South Africa’s capital, Pretoria appealed on Monday to authorities to compel a major teaching hospital in the city to provide them with a prayer facility.

"For three years now, we have been asking authorities to provide us with a prayer room at the Steve Biko Academic Hospital but they have ignored our call," social activist Yusuf Abramjee told Anadolu Agency.

He said he had filed a complaint on behalf of Muslims to the Commission for the Promotion and Protection of the Rights of Cultural Religious and Linguistic Communities to arbitrate in the matter.

"There are many Muslim doctors, staff and patients who keep coming to the hospital but they don’t have a place to perform their prayers," he said. Muslims are required to pray five times a day.

The activist claimed Christians had been allocated a prayer facility at the hospital. "We are ready to furnish and maintain our own facility if we are given space," he said.

Ibrahim Vawdwa, a researcher at the Johannesburg-based Media Review Network (MRN), a Muslim advocacy group, told Anadolu Agency that Muslims had been given prayer facilities at most public spaces including airports and they would appreciate it if the hospital gave them space.

He said South Africa's constitution respected freedom of worship and Muslims enjoyed good relations with other faith groups in the country.

The spokesman of the provincial Department of Health, Lesemang Matuka told Anadolu Agency that they had heard of the issue and would communicate to the media on the matter "in due course".

Full report at:



Africa: Supreme Court: Trump Travel Ban Can Stay While Legal Case Continues


In a victory for President Donald Trump, the U.S. Supreme Court decided Monday to allow his latest travel ban to remain in force while the legal fight continues in the lower courts.

Seven of the justices ruled in favor of the administration while two - Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Sonia Sotomayor - said the partial stay on the ban should continue.

The court did not give a reason for its decision.

The travel ban - the third one Trump has issued - bars most travelers from eight countries - Chad, Iran, Libya, North Korea, Somalia, Syria, Venezuela, and Yemen. Six are Muslim-majority nations.

Lower court judges in Maryland and Hawaii had blocked the ban from being enforced.

The court's decision Monday essentially throws out a compromise that exempted foreign nationals who have credible claims of a bona fide relationship with someone in the United States. That includes grandparents, brothers- and sisters-in-law, aunts, uncles and cousins.

Lawyers for the state of Hawaii argued there was no reason for the Supreme Court to enter the case at this time because the Court had already acknowledged that some travelers from the eight countries can be safely vetted and get visas.

A lawyer for the Trump administration argued that some foreign governments are deficient in sharing information about those seeking U.S. visas, posing a possible risk to the U.S.

White House Deputy Press Spokesman Hogan Gidley said Monday's Supreme Court decision is not surprising and says it is "essential to protecting our homeland."

But the Council on American-Islamic Relations again called the travel ban a Muslim ban.

"The Supreme Court's actions today are a good reminder that we can't simply rely on the courts to address the Trump administrations' efforts to marginalize Muslims and other minorities," CAIR attorney Gadeir Abbas said.

Full report at:



Why Muslims must lead battle against terrorism – Shehu Sani

December 4, 2017

Kemi Busari

The need for humanity to unite and defeat terrorism is urgent and Muslims all over the world must unite to lead the battle, the senator representing Kaduna Central, Shehu Sani, has said.

Mr. Sani said this while addressing lecturers and students at the International University of Africa, Khartoum on Thursday.

He lamented that the trend of terrorism does “not only represent a 21st century threat to global peace and stability but also Muslims and Islam.”

The lawmaker charged Muslims to take the lead in fighting the menace and redeeming the image of the religion.

“Islam is confronted by two dangers on two fronts, from the inside and from the outside,” he said. “The inside forces are those who manipulate and misuse the religion in furtherance of their extremist or political or violent agenda. And the outside are those with a mind-set set and conditioned to hate Muslims and anything associated with Islam.

“The need for humanity and the world to unite and defeat terrorism is urgent and necessary but it’s the Muslims that must lead the battle with common courage, common focus and collective determination.

“Terrorists are anarchists. Their cruel actions and atrocious violence creates bad perception and impression for the faith they falsely lay claim to.

“Muslim intellectuals and scholars and students must lead the battle to retrieve their faith and cast the light of peace and tolerance in the hearts of all believers in the faith.”

Mr. Sani said the strategic position of Sudan as a bridge between North Africa and sub Saharan Africa, and bridge between East Africa and West Africa saddles on its citizens the responsibility to promote and enhance unity and continental peace.

While recounting recent terrorist attacks globally and in Nigeria, he emphasised the dangers of silence among Muslims.

He said further, “Any ideology that promotes mass murder of innocents souls in the mosques, churches and schools are forces of evil we must collectively resist and defeat.

“Those who attacked airport in Brussels, train stations in London, theatre in Paris, streets in New York, malls in Nairobi, mosques in Nigeria does not represent Islam. But we must stop them from their false claims.

“Muslim intellectuals must spearhead the neutralisation and liquidation of knowledge and school of thoughts that encourages extremism and terrorism.

“Nigeria my country has suffered from terror violence that murdered tens of thousands and displaced millions.

Full report at:



Nigeria's Membership of Religious Organisations


WHILE on a courtesy visit to the Presidency the other day, leaders of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) justifiably urged the Federal Government to pull Nigeria out of some international religious bodies or organisations, which tend to suggest that the nation officially endorses a particular religion.

Going further, they referenced the Nigerian Constitution, which states clearly that Nigeria is a secular State. Specific reference was also made to the Organisation of Islamic Countries (OIC) and the Sukuk bond currently being managed by the Federal Government.

For the umpteenth time, it is important to state that religion is a personal and private affair. Whether by design or default, therefore, no religion should be promoted at the expense of the sensibilities of the other citizens of the country.

Three religions: Christianity, Islam, and indigenous Traditions, dominate the land. Millions of citizens adhere to the teachings and philosophies of these religions. It is their way of life. It helps to organise their private lives.

However, the state as an entity should steer clear of religion. It is common knowledge that adherents are usually passionate about their religion.

Sometimes it blinds people to the strengths of the other point of view. It is for this reason that religious wars are often very difficult to control or conclude. There is need, therefore, for caution in discussing or handling religious affairs in any country. As earlier stated, the Federal Constitution guarantees freedom of religion and all must continue to respect all provisions of the Constitution.

Having said this, it must be noted that the problem of the Nigerian nation is not religion. The problem is with the people's perception and practice of the tenets of religion. Pseudo-practitioners of the different religions have often dragged the nation into conflicts arising from their own greed and self-interest.

Instructively, there have been few cases of state officials who have kept their integrity and stuck to the oath of office as a result of their religious persuasion. Some of the indicted officials who have looted the nation dry are persons who had made the cathedral or mosques their second home in a sanctimonious manner. It is also true that yet some others had made huge donations to religious organisations out of the takings they made from the nation's coffers. The implication is that the dominant religions have not prevented Nigerian officials from doing the devil's bidding in matters of filthy lucre. Although they hold the sacred books while taking the oath of office, the books are consigned to the dustbin when they device devious means to steal humongous amounts of money from the people.

In an obvious reference to the fears of some, no less a person than the Vice President Professor Yemi Osinbajo asserted recently that nobody can Islamise the nation. He was certainly reacting to a dubious narrative, which some persons had thrown into the public space. It must indeed be noted that no nation extricates itself from poverty and under-development through the instrumentality of one religion or the other. Providence has given man the opportunity to harness nature's resources for the benefit of mankind. Significantly, all religions stress good work ethic and good behaviour in public office.

The same cannot be said for the prime movers of religions in the country. And their adherents in offices are often worse than the devil. Sadly, some prominent religious leaders were part and would seem to have remained part of the culture of impunity, which has become government in the land. It is such tragic sense of misplaced priority that makes states sponsor citizens on pilgrimage to the iconic homes of Christianity and Islam. The time to stop this travesty has come. Nigerian leaders should face the challenges of good governance and transform the land into a place where charity will not be needed for individuals to thrive or find fulfillment in life. What would be needed is personal commitment to the ideals of justice, fair-play, and hard work.

Full report at:



Southeast Asia


Stop using Islam to win votes, says Indonesia’s largest Muslim body

December 5, 2017

KUALA LUMPUR: Indonesia’s largest Muslim organisation, Nahdlatul Ulama (NU), has ticked off politicians in Muslim countries such as Malaysia and Indonesia who use Islam to win votes.

Yahya Staquf, the secretary-general of NU, said it would inevitably result in discrimination of minorities, provoke intolerance and possibly lead to religious conflict.

Malaysia’s Institute for Democracy and Economic Affairs (IDEAS), too, says exploiting Islam to win votes would lead to intolerance.

“There are political actors who have used Islam as a weapon and have succeeded (in winning elections). Using religion in a heterogeneous society (ends up) discriminating against people of other faiths,” Staquf told Channel NewsAsia (CNA).

This, he was quoted as saying, had the potential to trigger conflict – including possible violent conflict – with other faiths. “We cannot afford any more religious conflicts,” Staquf added.

Staquf was in Kuala Lumpur as a keynote speaker in the Istanbul Network 5th International Conference on Democratic Transitions in the Muslim World which ended on Nov 28.

The CNA report said NU was the latest organisation to be concerned about some politicians in Indonesia and Malaysia using religion to win votes.

NU, with about 50 million followers, is seen as a moderate Islamic body.

“I speak about Islam because I am Muslim. I know what is happening in the Muslim world. But that doesn’t mean other religions don’t have problems.

“This is not a problem of Malaysia and Indonesia. This is a problem of our civilisation. We need to give attention to the security of our entire civilisation. Do we want to have peace or do we want the world to end quickly?” asked Staquf.

He told CNA: “We need a global consolidation to deal with this problem. The key is to build awareness… don’t allow Islam to be used to trigger conflict.”

Massive demonstrations, led by Islamist groups, were held to protest against Jakarta’s former ethnic Chinese Christian governor, Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, popularly known by his nickname Ahok, in the run-up to the May 2017 gubenatorial elections which he eventually lost.

Islamist parties and hardline Islamic groups told Muslims it was forbidden to vote for Ahok as he is not a Muslim.

Similar sentiments have been professed by a few in Malaysia. Some foreign Islamic preachers who frequent Malaysia and Indonesia have been reported as saying that Muslims should vote for Muslim leaders.

According to the CNA report, the Jakarta-based Setara Institute said on Dec 1 that religious populism would lead to a loss of rationale among believers.

“People should be aware that such movements are a danger to social cohesion in a multi-ethnic nation,” said Setara.

The report quoted IDEAS chief executive Wan Saiful Wan Jan as saying exploiting religious sentiments to win votes had become part of the political strategy of politicians.

“Identity politics works especially in countries where public policy, good governance are not the mainstream discussion that’s taking place,” Wan Saiful had said at the Istanbul Network 5th International Conference.

“There are irresponsible people who are failing to provide leadership and exploiting the weaknesses of human beings by exploiting those emotional issues.

“I have been going round the country asking people what they are most concerned about… and people are most concerned over “what will happen to Islam, what will happen to our ethnic group,” said Wan Saiful.

Exploiting religion for political votes would lead to intolerance, he said.



Don’t delay naming non-Muslim Dayak to Petros’ board, Sarawak CM urged

December 4, 2017

PETALING JAYA: DAP today accused Sarawak Chief Minister Abang Johari Openg of not being serious in wanting to appoint a non-Muslim Dayak to the board of directors of Petroleum Sarawak Bhd (Petros), the newly formed state oil and gas company.

Abdul Aziz Isa, the special assistant to Sarawak DAP chairman Chong Chieng Jen, said it was “unacceptable” to delay the appointment 100 days after the state government announced it would look for a suitable non-Muslim Dayak to be included in the board of Petros.

“Why is it so difficult to name at least one non-Muslim Dayak to the Petros BoD? Why does it take so long to look for a professional and an educated non-Muslim Dayak?” Aziz said in a statement today.

Deputy Chief Minister Douglas Uggah said in Kuching on Aug 30 that he had been tasked by Abang Johari to identify the right candidate, several days after the chief minister named the board of directors without the inclusion of a non-Muslim Dayak member.

The issue sparked widespread dissatisfaction within the community and went viral on social media.

However, Uggah said he believed it would not be easy to find the right candidate from the non-Muslim Bumiputera community to be part of the Petros board, as many criteria needed to be fulfilled.

“There are a few names being recommended but we must first make sure that the person is really qualified. We nevertheless hope to find the suitable person soon,” he was quoted as saying in the Sarawak media.

Aziz dismissed the state’s contention, pointing out that many Dayaks were employed by big oil and gas companies such as Shell and Petronas.

“They even have experience working in other countries such as United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Qatar, Sudan, Brazil, Canada, and even in Russia. Some of them even hold managerial positions in these oil and gas companies.

“It seems that Abang Jo is not serious in bringing fairness and justice to the Dayak community. It has been a well-known fact that despite being the majority in the state, the Dayaks have been systematically discriminated by the state government policies in almost every level.

“Their contributions seem to be denied by the state government and the composition in Petros’ BoD proves just another case of lopsided representation and racial imbalance.

“Once again, the majority is being grossly under-represented while the minority is being over-represented.”

Aziz urged the state government, particularly the chief minister, not to delay the inclusion of a non-Muslim Dayak in Petros’ board in order to “shield the state government from accusations of discrimination and marginalisation of the Dayaks as the major ethnic group”.

The Chief Minister’s Office has said the primary objective of setting up Petros was to enable Sarawak to participate in upstream oil and gas development, particularly in the exploration and extraction of oil and gas within Sarawak’s waters.

Full report at:



Arab World


Arab League chief warns Trump that Jerusalem move could fuel violence

4 December 2017

The Arab League chief said on Sunday a decision by US President Donald Trump to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital would boost fanaticism and violence, and not serve the Israeli-Palestinian peace process.

Trump’s son-in-law and Middle East peace envoy Jared Kushner told the Saban Forum on Sunday the president is close to a decision on whether to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

“It is unfortunate that some are insisting on carrying out this step without any regard to the dangers it carries to the stability of the Middle East and the whole world,” Ahmed Aboul Gheit, head of the Arab League, told reporters in Cairo on Sunday.

Aboul Gheit said the Arab League is closely following the issue and is in contact with the Palestinian authorities and Arab states to coordinate the Arab position if Trump takes the step.

Trump must decide on Monday whether to sign a legal waiver that would delay plans to move the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem for another six months.

Every US president has done this since 1995, judging the time not ripe for such a move, and Trump is expected to begrudgingly do so for a second time this week.

But, according to diplomats and observers, he is also now expected to announce in a speech on Wednesday that he supports Israel’s claim on Jerusalem as its capital.

Palestinian leaders are lobbying desperately against such a move, fearing it could provoke such fury in the Arab world it could sink peace hopes for a generation.

“Nothing justifies this act... it will not serve peace or stability, instead it will nourish fanaticism and violence,” said Aboul Gheit.

The move would “benefit only one side, which is the anti-peace Israeli government,” he told reporters.

Israel occupied east Jerusalem and the West Bank in 1967. It later annexed east Jerusalem in a move never recognized by the international community.

The Palestinians see the eastern sector as the capital of their future state.

The traditional United States position is that the status of Jerusalem must be negotiated between the two sides.



Egyptian forces kill 5 militants northeast of Cairo

Dec 4, 2017

Egyptian security forces have killed five suspected militants during a raid on a desert hideout to the northeast of the capital Cairo.

Egypt's Interior Ministry made the announcement in a statement on Monday, saying the militants had been killed in a shootout in an area located between Ramadan city and Bilbeis town in the Nile Delta province of Sharqiya.

The security forces came under heavy fire as they surrounded the hideout, which forced them to "deal with the source of the shooting," the ministry said, adding that the incident led to the deaths of five unidentified militants and apprehension of six other people.

The statement noted that the militants had been training to use firearms at the site, where security forces found bomb-making materials, assault rifles and ammunition for possible terrorist attacks.

The ministry said they also arrested six other "elements" from the same group who were observing "some vital buildings in preparation to carry out a series of hostile operations against them" in Cairo and the southern province of Assiut.

The ministry did not link the militants or those arrested to any specific group.

Over the past few years, militants have been carrying out anti-government activities and fatal attacks, taking advantage of the turmoil in Egypt that erupted after the country's first democratically-elected president, Mohamed Morsi, was ousted in a military coup in July 2013.

The Daesh-affiliated Velayat Sinai terrorist group has claimed responsibility for most of the assaults. The group later expanded its attacks to target members of Egypt’s Coptic Christian community as well as foreigners visiting the country. That has prompted the government to impose a state of emergency and widen a controversial crackdown that critics say has mostly targeted dissidents.

Full report at:



Russia provides air cover for Kurdish militia in Syria

5 December 2017

Russia’s defense ministry said Monday its planes made hundreds of sorties in support of Kurdish and local militias in eastern Syria, predicting that the whole area will soon be free of militant fighters.

The statement came the day after a Russian military delegation met with officials of the Kurdish People’s Protection Units militia (YPG), which acknowledged receiving direct support from Moscow.

“Russian aviation carried out 672 sorties and bombed over 1450 targets in the interests of supporting the offensive by the militias of eastern Euphrates tribes and Kurdish militias,” the defense ministry statement said.

The YPG formed the bulk of the Syrian Democratic Forces, an Arab-Kurdish alliance that ousted ISIS from swathes of northern and eastern Syria, with help from the US-led coalition.

The area east of the Euphrates River has for months been the area of operations by the US-backed SDF, which includes Kurdish and Arab fighters. Russia has meanwhile been helping regime forces battle ISIS militants west of the Euphrates.

In September, Russia accused the SDF of targeting Syrian regime forces with artillery fire and even threatened to retaliate if the strikes repeat.

The SDF in turn accused Moscow of striking its forces several times during the drive, which makes the announcement by both Moscow and the YPG all the more surprising.

“All activities of the armed militias to the east of the Euphrates are coordinated by the staff of Russian contingent in Syria in Hmeimim,” General-Mayor Yevgeny Poplavsky, who participated in Sunday’s meeting in Syria’s Deir Ezzor province, was quoted as saying in the Russian defense ministry statement.

Poplavsky said Russia’s military advisors are on the ground working with the militias .

“In the coming days all Syrian territory east of the Euphrates will be completely liberated from terrorists,” he said.

Full report at:



Syrian air defense intercepts Israeli missiles targeting military facility

Dec 5, 2017

Israel has launched several missiles at a Syrian military facility located close to the capital Damascus.

"Our air defenses are confronting an Israeli missile attack on one of our sites in the Damascus suburbs and three of the targets were downed," said a report by state news agency SANA published late on Monday.

Over the past few years, the Israeli military has launched sporadic attacks against various targets on Syrian soil, in assaults slammed by Syria as attempts to boost the terror groups wreaking havoc on the country.

Full report at:



Syrian teen pleads for 'chance' at kid’s peace prize

December 05, 2017

THE HAGUE - A Syrian teenager made a strong plea Monday for the world to give refugees fleeing his country's war an opportunity, as he received the prestigious International Children's Peace Prize in The Hague. "We just want people to give us a chance to prove ourselves," Mohamad al-Jounde told AFP. "I can promise you, we are people just like them, we live in the same world," Jounde said, as he was handed the award at a gala ceremony, in a medieval hall in the Dutch capital.

The 16-year-old's words came after yet another wave of Syrian air strikes killed at least 25 civilians and wounded dozens across the besieged rebel enclave of Eastern Ghouta near Damascus on Sunday, a Britain-based monitor said.

More than 340,000 people have died in Syria since the conflict began in March 2011 and more than five million others have fled, according to the UN refugee agency. Many refugees, including 2.5 million children, are now in camps in Lebanon, Turkey, Jordan and beyond.

"Mohamad receives the award for his tireless efforts to ensure the rights of Syrian refugee children," competition organisers KidsRights Foundation said.

The energetic boy, along with his family, built a school for 200 refugee children in a refugee camp in Lebanon where he taught maths, English and his passion, photography. But after the worst migrant crisis in Europe since World War II peaked in 2015, and a string of jihadist attacks, refugees and migrants have faced a growing backlash in recent months. "My message to people who don't want refugees to be there is we didn't want to come either. But that's what war does," said Jounde, who now lives in Sweden with his mother and father.

"Start dealing with us as normal people, not as refugees or immigrants," he said.

In its 13th year, the prize is awarded annually "to a child who fights courageously for children's rights", KidsRights said.

It also includes a 100,000 euro ($118,000) investment for projects in the winner's home country.

Full report at:



Syrian Army Advancing against Terrorists from Hama towards Idlib

Dec 04, 2017

The army men pushed Al-Nusra back from Zabawi and al-Zaferiyeh regions Northwest of the small town of al-Rabdah in Northeastern Hama, inching closer towards terrorists' positions in Southern Idlib. 

A field sources reported on Sunday that the army troops fended off a heavy offensive of a group of terrorists in Southern Hama, adding that the country's Air Force hit the positions of the Al-Nusra Front in the Northeastern part of the province.

The sources said that the army men engaged in fierce clashes with terrorists of Ajnad al-Sham Islamic Union deployed in the village of Aqrab and repelled their attack on government forces' positions in the village of al-Ta'ouneh in Southern Hama, inflicting major losses on the militants.

Full report at:



Tribes in Southern Syria Form New Popular Army to Fight against Terrorists

Dec 04, 2017

The Arabic-language al-Hadath news quoted well-informed sources as saying that a new army had been formed under the name of Jeish al-Ashayer (Army of Tribes) in Dara'a province to fight against the threat of the terrorist groups.

Al-Hadath further said that the Army of Tribes will be under the command of the Syrian Presidential Guard deployed in the province.

In the meantime, 160 ex-militants, including a number of commanders, that had received government amnesty, have applied to join the Army of Tribes in Dara'a.

Field sources confirmed on Sunday that almost 100 gunmen that had laid down their weapons and joined peace with the Syrian Army in Dara'a province received government amnesty.

The sources reported that almost 100 militants affiliated to the al-Omari Brigade deployed in al-Lejah in Dara'a province that had handed over their arms to the army soldiers in the town of al-Sanmin were pardoned by the Damascus government.

Full report at:



Terrorists' Missile Attack on Damascus Leaves Several Casualties

Dec 04, 2017

At least two civilians were killed and another seven were wounded when the terrorist groups' missile units hit the Al-Abassiyeen Bus Station near the Jobar region in Eastern Ghouta.

The Al-‘Abassiyeen suburb has been the target of several militant attacks in the past due to its proximity to the East Ghouta region.

Relevant reports said on Friday that the army men, supported by the artillery units' heavy fire, captured several hills overlooking Jabal al-Sheikh region, trying to separate the towns of al-Mughur al-Mir and Beit Jinn and Beit Jinn farm from the towns of Beit Tima, Kafr Hoor and Beit Saber that had previously joined the peace agreement.

Field sources reported that the Al-Nusra carried out several counter-attacks to recapture lost lands before the army men fortify their positions there.

The Syrian Army soldiers pushed Al-Nusra Front back from several other key regions in Southwestern Damascus.

Military sources said that the army men clashed fiercely with Al-Nusra in Southwestern Damascus and seized full control of the strategic Bardaya hills Northeast of Beit Jinn Farm.

Full report at:



Syrian Army Prevails over Terrorists' Positions in Al-Rahjan in Hama Province

Dec 04, 2017

The army men, led by the Qalamoun Shield forces of the 3rd Division, stormed the town of Al-Rahjan, capturing both the hilltop and farms overlooking this the main stronghold of Al-Nusra in Northeastern Hama.

Also, a field source said that the army soldiers have now entered Al-Rahjan after breaking through the Al-Nusra's first line of defense at the Southern flank of the town.

Over the weekend, the Syrian Army managed to enter Al-Rahjan, but were later forced to withdraw from the town after a swift counter-attack by the Al-Nusra.

Al-Rahjan is the hometown of the Syrian Defense Minister; it was captured by the terrorists three years ago.

Earlier reports said that the army's artillery units and Air Force hit the positions of the Al-Nusra Front in Northeastern Hama, killing three notorious commanders of the terrorist group.

The artillery and missile units shelled the Al-Nusra positions close to the village of al-Rahjan in Northeastern Hama, inflicting major losses on the militants.

Also, the army aircraft bombed heavily the Al-Nusra strongholds in the villages of al-Rahjan and Shakusiyeh, killing a number of terrorists.

Full report at:



Terrorists Suffer Heavy Defeats in Clashes with Syrian Army in Eastern Homs

Dec 04, 2017

The army men engaged in a tough battle with ISIL in the Southern direction of Humeimeh region in Southeastern Homs.

Also, the army aircraft bombed heavily ISIL's positions in Humeimeh region and near al-Sukhnah Badiyeh (desert), killing and wounding a number of terrorists and destroying their military equipment.

In the meantime, terrorist groups violated the de-escalation zone agreement and pounded the positions of the army close to the towns of Tir Ma'ala and al-Qantou.

The army's artillery units, meantime, retaliated the violation of ceasefire and targeted terrorists' positions in the region, killing and wounding a number of militants. 

Reports said on Saturday that the Syrian Army's artillery units shelled terrorists' positions and movements in Northern Homs, retaliating the militants' violation of the ceasefire in the province's de-escalation zone.

The terrorists, deployed in Northern Homs, targeted civilians in the village of Kafr Nan in Northwestern Homs by machineguns, violating truce.

Full report at:



North America


Trump Travel Ban to Take Effect After Supreme Court Ruling


DEC. 4, 2017

WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court on Monday allowed the third version of the Trump administration’s travel ban to go into effect while legal challenges against it continue. The decision was a victory for the administration after its mixed success before the court over the summer, when justices considered and eventually dismissed disputes over the second version.

The court’s brief, unsigned orders on Monday urged appeals courts to move swiftly to determine whether the latest ban was lawful. Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Sonia Sotomayor said they would have denied the administration’s request to allow the latest ban to go into effect.

The court’s orders mean that the administration can fully enforce its new restrictions on travel from eight nations, six of them predominantly Muslim. For now, most citizens of Iran, Libya, Syria, Yemen, Somalia, Chad and North Korea will be barred from entering the United States, along with some groups of people from Venezuela.

The restrictions vary in their details, but in most cases, citizens of the countries will be unable to emigrate to the United States permanently and many will be barred from working, studying or vacationing here.

Iran, for example, will still be able to send its citizens on student exchanges, though such visitors will be subject to enhanced screening. Somalis will no longer be allowed to emigrate to the United States, but may visit with extra screening.

The Supreme Court’s orders effectively overturned a compromise in place since June, when the court said travelers with connections to the United States could continue to travel here notwithstanding restrictions in an earlier version of the ban.

The orders gave no reasons for the court’s shift. The move did suggest that the administration’s chances of prevailing at the Supreme Court when the justices consider the lawfulness of the latest ban have markedly increased.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions called the order “a substantial victory for the safety and security of the American people.” A spokesman for the White House, Hogan Gidley, said, “We are not surprised by today’s Supreme Court decision,” calling it “lawful and essential to protecting our homeland.”

The American Civil Liberties Union, which represents people and groups challenging the ban, said it would continue to argue against the ban as challenges against it in lower appeals courts proceed.

“President Trump’s anti-Muslim prejudice is no secret — he has repeatedly confirmed it, including just last week on Twitter,” said Omar Jadwat, director of the A.C.L.U.’s Immigrants’ Rights Project. “It’s unfortunate that the full ban can move forward for now, but this order does not address the merits of our claims.”

In a pair of filings in the Supreme Court, Solicitor General Noel J. Francisco said Mr. Trump had acted under his broad constitutional and statutory authority to control immigration when he issued a new proclamation in September announcing the new travel restrictions.

Mr. Francisco wrote that the process leading to the proclamation was more deliberate than those that had led to earlier bans, issued in January and March. Those orders were temporary measures, he wrote, while the proclamation was the product of extensive study and deliberation.

Lawyers with the A.C.L.U. told the justices that little had changed. “The proclamation is the third order the president has signed this year banning more than 100 million individuals from Muslim-majority nations from coming to the United States,” they wrote.

In October, federal judges in Maryland and Hawaii blocked major parts of the latest ban while legal challenges proceed.

“A nationality-based travel ban against eight nations consisting of over 150 million people is unprecedented,” wrote Judge Theodore D. Chuang of the Federal District Court in Maryland. Citing statements from Mr. Trump, some made as a presidential candidate and some more recent, Judge Chuang found that the new proclamation was tainted by religious animus and most likely violated the Constitution’s prohibition of government establishment of religion.

Similarly, Judge Derrick K. Watson of the Federal District Court in Honolulu found that the September proclamation “suffers from precisely the same maladies as its predecessor,” adding that it “plainly discriminates based on nationality” in violation of federal law “and the founding principles of this nation.”

The administration has appealed both decisions to federal appeals courts in Seattle and Richmond, Va. Arguments in those appeals are scheduled for this week.

Judge Chuang limited his injunction to exclude people without “a credible claim of a bona fide relationship with a person or entity in the United States,” quoting from a Supreme Court order issued in June concerning the second travel ban. Judge Watson did not impose such a limitation, but an appeals court modified his injunction, also quoting the Supreme Court’s language.

Lawyers for Hawaii, which is challenging the ban, told the justices that there was no reason to make changes now.

“Less than six months ago, this court considered and rejected a stay request indistinguishable from the one the government now presses,” they wrote. “But the justification for that dramatic relief has only weakened. In place of a temporary ban on entry, the president has imposed an indefinite one, deepening and prolonging the harms a stay would inflict.”

Mr. Francisco asked the justices to allow every part of the third ban to go into effect. The second version of the travel ban, he wrote, “involved temporary procedures before the review was conducted and in the absence of a presidential determination concerning the adequacy of foreign governments’ information-sharing and identity-management practices.”

“Now that the review has been completed and identified ongoing deficiencies in the information needed to assess nationals of particular countries,” he wrote, “additional restrictions are needed.”



In schools, a growing push to recognize Muslim and Jewish holidays

By Debbie Truong

December 4, 2017

When her daughters were children, Khadija Athman packed the major Islamic holidays, Eid al-Fitr and Eid al-Adha, with celebration.

They opened gifts and covered their hands in henna. After prayer, they had breakfast at a pancake house before spending the day at the movies and Chuck E. Cheese’s.

“Eid is like our Christmas,” Athman said, her face brightening as she recalled the family’s traditions. “I grew up ... being so excited about Eid, and I wanted to raise my kids with that same excitement.”

But for her daughters, the warm memories faded each time schoolmates in Prince William County, in suburban Northern Virginia, were awarded per­fect-attendance certificates. The honor eluded Athman’s daughters, Nusaybah and Sumayyah, who were resentful because they missed school each year for the Muslim holidays, their mother said.

Muslim and Jewish students in Fairfax and Prince William counties have long had to decide whether to observe a religious holiday or attend school, a choice some parents and students say they shouldn’t have to make.

In September 2010, Khadija Athman and her daughters Nusaybah, 9, and Sumayyah, 7, and husband Rutrell Yasin celebrated Eid al-Fitr at a friend’s home. When the girls observed the Eid holidays, they missed school in Prince William County. (Family photo)

It’s a struggle diverse communities throughout the country have encountered as they seek to accommodate students from different religious backgrounds.

In some cases, students feel they are compelled to choose between faith and school. “They don’t want to observe the holiday with their family because they don’t want to miss school,” said Meryl Paskow, a volunteer with the interfaith group Virginians Organized for Interfaith Community Engagement.

Earlier this year, the interfaith group persuaded school leaders in Northern Virginia to be more forgiving of students who miss tests because of a religious holiday. The Fairfax and Prince William superintendents agreed to keep tests and major school events from falling the day before or after major Muslim and Jewish holidays, but school remains in session on those holidays.

The change brings the two Northern Virginia school districts in closer alignment with other diverse school systems in the country, including several in Maryland, New York and New Jersey.

In Prince William, school absences for religious holidays are no longer counted against a student’s attendance record. That option would have provided Athman relief years ago.

“I want them to be proud of their heritage, to be proud of their religion,” the mother said. “It feels more like a competition when it shouldn’t be a competition. You should be able to practice your religion without having to compete with school.”

More than a year ago, the interfaith group — which addresses issues including affordable housing, health care and immigrant rights — adopted school religious holidays as a cause.

“These are great students,” said Rabbi Michael G. Holzman, with the Northern Virginia Hebrew Congregation. “They don’t want to miss a test.”

The interfaith group made a request — no tests, major assignments or school events on Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur and the first night of Passover, as well as Eid al-Fitr and Eid al-Adha.

They delivered the request to Steven Lockard, then interim superintendent in Fairfax, and Steven Walts, superintendent in Prince William.

Fairfax teachers were directed not to schedule tests on certain religious holidays, and the district sends principals quarterly reminders, district spokesman John Torre said in an email. In Prince William, school district regulations were updated during the summer to say that students who miss school for religious observances would be allowed to make up work and tests.

Some school districts elsewhere in the country have made religious accommodations for decades by giving students the holiday off or excusing absences.

In New York, schoolchildren have been given Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur off since the 1960s, school district spokesman Michael Aciman said in an email. Eid al-Fitr and Eid al-Adha were added in the 2015-2016 school year.

“These school holidays help ensure that a significant number of NYC families and staff do not have to choose between observing a religious holiday and attending school,” Aciman said.

In Paterson, N.J., schools close for only one holiday for each major religion, schools spokeswoman Terry Corallo said in an email. For example, students have class off for only one of the Eid holidays, a decision the district makes in consultation with faith leaders.

Closing for all religious holidays would prevent the racially diverse district of about 28,000 students from reaching the number of school days mandated by the state, she said.

Montgomery County schools, in suburban Maryland, are closed on Yom Kippur and Rosh Hashanah and, after years of lobbying from local proponents, the school board voted in 2015 to give students the day off on Eid al-Adha. About the same time, Howard County Public Schools in Maryland added days off on Eid ­al-Adha, the eve of Lunar New Year and the Hindu holiday of Diwali.

Rabbi Ronald Halber, executive director of the Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Washington, said school systems in communities with large Jewish populations generally show a greater sensitivity to the holidays.

The Jewish population in Fairfax, he said, has grown substantially in the past two decades. If the school system examined the number of Muslim and Jewish students, Halber said, “they might be surprised.”

Despite the commitments in Northern Virginia, leaders with the interfaith group are not convinced that all teachers are following the directives. Students at Holzman’s congregation in Reston reported that they had academic conflicts on Rosh Hashanah earlier this school year, as they had previously, he said.

“I thoroughly believe that our leaders at the county level are committed to solving these problems,” he said. “I also thoroughly believe that the message is not getting to the classroom level.”

Eli Sporn, 16, notches nearly straight As. He’s enrolled in Advanced Placement and honors classes at McLean High School, plays soccer and basketball, and participates in theater.

He also spends time Sunday mornings as a teacher’s assistant at Temple Rodef Shalom and belongs to its youth group.

Each year, he misses school for Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. His teachers are understanding, but the specter of schoolwork still looms.

“It kind of hangs over your head the entire time. It’s like: ‘Oh, no. I’m missing something,’” the sophomore said from his dining room table one weekday afternoon before Thanksgiving, his advanced pre-calculus homework nearby.

His mother, Melissa Sporn, added: “We think it’s obligatory. It’s part of being Jewish.”

Before she graduated from Washington-Lee High School in Arlington, Hanan Seid would be seized by a familiar anxiety as she approached teachers each year for permission to make up assignments or tests that fell on Eid. Seid has always prioritized her faith, but that did little to ease the worry of having to ask teachers for accommodations.

“You’re asking a teacher not to give you a test. You’re not sick,” Seid said. “For kids sometimes, [it feels] like they’re asking for too much.”

Seid said she attended school once on Eid al-Adha, known as the festival of sacrifice, because she had a test. Dressed in full makeup and an abaya — a loose-­fitting cloak — she felt out of place.

“It was the oddest feeling, because it doesn’t feel like it’s your holiday,” said Seid, who works at Dar Al-Hijrah Islamic Center, a mosque in Falls Church.

School districts should go further, she said, and give students the day off on religious holidays. During Christmastime, she said, “you can feel the spirit in this country” — not so for Muslim holidays.

To her, having the day off would symbolize a broader acceptance of Islam.

Full report at:



Saudi Arabia warns of Jerusalem embassy impact as Trump delays announcement

5 December 2017

Saudi Arabia’s ambassador to Washington said on Monday that any announcement on Jerusalem's status before a final settlement of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict would harm the peace process and increase tension in the region.

"Any American announcement on the status of Jerusalem before a final settlement is reached will harm the peace process and increase tension in the region," Prince Khalid bin Salman bin Abdulaziz, the Saudi ambassador to the United States, said in a statement.

"The Kingdom's policy has been and continues to be supportive of the Palestinian people, and this has been transferred to the US administration," said Prince Khalid.

The White House said that President Donald Trump will not announce a decision on Monday but will be made "in coming days".

White House spokesman Hogan Gidley told reporters aboard Air Force One as Trump was returning from a trip to Utah that the President still has to make a decision on whether he will again delay moving the embassy.

Full report at:



Anti-Iran figures seeking Persian antiquities stolen by US

Dec 4, 2017

Anti-Iran figures in the United States are seeking stolen Persian artifacts in American museums over baseless claims that Iran supported terrorism.

Some justices of the US Supreme Court indicated Monday the artifacts, on loan from Iran since 1937, could be confiscated to pay for a $71 million court judgment against Tehran.

Several other justices, meanwhile, voiced skepticism that non-commercial property like the Persian artifacts can be seized.

The artifacts, including at least 30,000 clay tablets and fragments with some of the oldest writing in the world, are kept at Chicago’s Field Museum of Natural History and the University of Chicago’s Oriental Institute.

The plaintiffs accuse Iran of supporting the Palestinian movement Hamas, which they accuse of an attack in Jerusalem al-Quds in 1997.

They have been awarded $71 million and are now seeking to earn it by grabbing the Persian artifacts.

However, Justice Sonia Sotomayor told the plaintiff’s lawyer, Asher Perlin, that the issue should be addressed by the US Congress.

“I don’t think there will be a mad rush to grab antiquities,” Perlin replied, but when he was told by Justice Stephen Breyer that this is exactly what his clients are up, he argued that Iranians “don’t care what the American courts say.”

“It’s not Argentina, where they can’t afford to pay the judgment,” he said, trumpeting another anti-Iran allegation promoted by the Israeli regime.

A decision in the case is due by the end of June.

According to Reuters, the Justice Department’s Zachary Tripp told the justices that if the seizure of property of “cultural and historic significance to another country and its people” was allowed, it would have explicitly been said so in the law, but was not.

According to the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act, foreign governments should be shielded from liability and their assets from seizure, but the law does not apply to Iran as it has been listed by the US government as a state sponsors of terrorism.

The case has grown out of a September 1997 bombing at a pedestrian mall in Jerusalem al-Quds that killed five people and injured 200.

The museums, meanwhile, have argued that the artifacts could not be seized to pay the judgment because they are subject to immunity under US law.

Full report at:



Canadian Muslim youth killed for doing ‘right thing’


Canadian authorities arrested one man Monday in the shooting death of a 19-year-old Muslim who police are hailing as a hero.

Police are now searching for another man who is believed to have shot Yosif Al-Hasnawi outside a mosque in Hamilton, Ontario, just west of Toronto.

There is also an investigation underway after paramedics who arrived to treat Al-Hasnawi were criticized by witnesses for their lackadaisical attitude.

The deceased, a Brock University medical sciences student, was hailed by police as being a hero after he intervened when two men were harassing an older man.

“This young man was doing what he felt was right in the situation,” Det. Sgt. Steve Bereziuk told reporters. “He was a brave young man.”

Al-Hasnawi was taking a break from a religious celebration at the Al-Mostafa Islamic Centre about 9:30 p.m. Saturday.

When he noticed what was happening, Al-Hasnawi called out for the two men to stop.

“He saw an old man walking by here with two people who were trying to harass him, assault him, hit him, laughing at him,” one witness told reporters. “He only told them, ‘leave the old man alone.’”

The men had “an interaction” with the Muslim youth and a shot rang out.

It turned out he was seriously wounded, but Amin Al-Tahir, a director at the mosque, said when paramedics arrived, they told the victim he was fine and indicated that he was acting.

“He told them, ‘I can’t breathe’,” Al-Tahir said.

Another witness, Tom Raczynski, who lives in the area, said paramedics kept saying he was “faking”.

“The one paramedic kept saying, ‘Oh, you’re a good actor’,” Raczynski said.

Hamilton Paramedic Services said in a statement Monday that an investigation into the incident is underway.

It is also not clear why Al-Hasnawi was taken to St. Joseph’s Hospital when there was a trauma center at a closer hospital.

Bereziuk said Al-Hasnawi and his family immigrated to Canada from Iraq in 2008.

The police officer said the victim was trying to do the right thing.

Full report at:





Britain First follower vowed to kill Muslim in Finsbury Park attack

December 5 2017

A supporter of the far-right group Britain First who said he was going to “kill a Muslim” before driving a van at the manager of an Indian restaurant has avoided prosecution for attempted murder.

Marek Zakrocki was convicted of dangerous driving after shouting “white power” and giving a Nazi salute before narrowly missing his target.

Zakrocki, 48, was carrying a knife and a Nazi coin when he was arrested in Harrow, north London, in June, four days after a terrorist attack near Finsbury Park mosque left one Muslim worshipper dead. In his house police officers found leaflets and newspapers promoting Britain First.

The Polish-born window fitter drove at Kamal Ahmed outside Spicy Nights on the night of June 23, the anniversary of the Brexit vote,…



UK halts Syria aid program amid reports that it funds terrorists

Dec 4, 2017

The UK government has suspended a Syrian aid program to investigate reports that the money is ending up in the wrong hands.

A government spokesperson broke the news on Sunday, hours after a BBC investigation revealed that the cash used to form an unarmed police force in militant-held areas was being diverted to extremist groups.

According to the report, officers from the force, known as the Free Syrian Police (FSP), have been caught cooperating with militant groups. This contravenes the force’s main obligation, which was supposed to be an unarmed civilian police force.

The government spokesman said Prime Minister Theresa May and her team took the allegations "extremely seriously."

"We take any allegations of co-operation with terrorist groups and of human rights abuses extremely seriously and the Foreign Office has suspended this program while we investigate these allegations,” he said.

The FSP officers are accused of handing over funds they had received in cash to an extremist group controlling the area.

Such cases were prevalent in Aleppo province, where officers paid at least 20 percent of their salaries to the Nour al-Din al-Zinki group, which controlled the area.

The UK-backed officers had helped the group "by writing up warrants, delivering notices, and turning criminals over to the court."

The BBC report alleged that extremist groups handpicked some FSP officers while dead and fictitious people were included on the police payroll in some areas.

Citing ASI’s own documents, the report stated that the organization’s staff were unable to find any officers during a 2016 visit of a police station in Idlib province, where 57 officers were expected to operate from.

There was also evidence that some of the officers had been appointed by the Jabhat Fatah al-Sham – previously known as the Nusra Front – terrorist group.

Adam Smith International (ASI), the organization that has been running the project since October 2014, said it "strongly refutes” the allegations.

Weapons exported by UK 'fall into Daesh hands'

"We have managed taxpayers' money effectively to confront terrorism, bring security to Syrian communities and mitigate the considerable risks of operating in a war zone," the government spokesman said.

"ASI has managed the project successfully alongside our partner in an extremely challenging, high-risk environment under the close supervision of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and five other governments," he added.

Full report at:



What the Russian Revolution can teach us about the Middle East today

Dec 4, 2017

These days, uprisings should be studied with a cold eye and there’s a fine little exhibition on in Paris about the 1917 Russian revolution which casts a dark reflection on the Arab “awakening” we’ve all been observing in the Middle East. It’s an extraordinary display from the “revolution which changed the world”, including posters, photographs and – amazingly – some documents which show just how much the Mencheviks (and the Russian Provisional Government) and then the Bolsheviks tried to enlist the Muslim world – and the Armenians – in their destruction of the Romanov dynasty.

I suppose the overthrow of Mubarak (the Tsar) and then the brief 11-month tenure of Mohamed Morsi (representing the temporary Mensheviks comes to mind; but Field Marshal-President al-Sissi of Egypt hardly counts as a Lenin (or a Stalin) and the war which the Egyptian government is now fighting in Sinai bears no relation to the “Whites” versus the “Reds” – yet. On balance, the end of King Farouq of Egypt, the temporary leadership of General Neguib (the Mensheviks) and then the takeover by Nasser would be much closer to the mark.

But Syria is a worrying parallel since it demonstrates just how easily revolution can turn into civil war. The casualty figures don’t come anywhere close to the millions of Russians who were killed in the conflict after 1917, but there are some disturbing features which both conflicts share. The Syrians could scarcely have known how swiftly their war would come upon them. Nor did the Russians in 1917. And the interference of foreign nations – Russia on the side of the Syrian government, America and Britain on the side of the rebels (the “Whites”, until they turned out to be Muslim “Greens”), inserting their troops into Syria with minimum losses since they would let others do the dying – is a painful reminder of what happens when overseas powers decide that they will decide who wins the war.

The British landed at Murmansk to support the “White” Russians, and it’s intriguing to see how the “Whites” set up their own mini-capitals wherever they went – just as Isis set up its capitals in Raqqa – and in Mosul in Iraq. The parallels are not exact, of course, but the Bolshevik demonisation of the “White” Russians in the ferocious anti-religious, anti-capitalist posters on display in Paris at the Musee de l’Armee (the exhibition is called “Et 1917 devient Revolution”) are not dissimilar to the “war against terror” which Bashar al-Assad and the Russians (and the Hezbollah, and the Iranians) think they are fighting in Syria today. There are terrifying cartoons of mass killings, naked men beaten with whips and women led away for rape. Pretty much standard Isis fare.

There are, too, ten-ruble banknotes from the short-lived “commisariat of Transcaucasia”, printed in Russian on one side and in the Armenian, Georgian, and Azeri languages on the reverse. Azeri was in those days written in Arabic script and so it appears on the note. More interesting is a large poster in the Tartar language (printed in 1919 in both Arabic script and in Cyrillic) depicting a horsemen leading a band of warriors and holding a red flag bearing a half moon and a star. “To Muslim comrades,” it announces, “the enemies of the working people are crushing your freedom and you alone can defend your lands, only Soviet power will give you …your mountains… Join the Muslim cavalry regiments…All under the red star.”

I’m not sure what the Tartar Muslims thought of their half-moon under the Red Star of Bolshevism but there are photographs of soldiers in a Muslim village in eastern Anatolia paying homage to the earlier 1905 Russian revolution and a bright snapshot of Red Cross nurse Nino Djordjadze mounted on a camel. Her name is Georgian but she was born in Tiflis (now Tbilisi) in Georgia.

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May says Trump 'wrong' on anti-Muslim videos

December 1, 2017

Prime Minister Theresa May repeated Thursday that US President Donald Trump was wrong to retweet anti-Muslim videos posted by a British far-right group, but stressed that the US-UK's "special relationship" would endure.

May's initial condemnation prompted an extraordinary rebuke from the US leader, who told her on Twitter: "Don't focus on me, focus on the destructive Radical Islamic Terrorism that is taking place within the United Kingdom."

Speaking to reporters during a trip to Jordan, the prime minister stood her ground, defending her record on tackling extremism -- including by the far-right -- while emphasising the strength of British-US ties.

"I'm very clear that retweeting from Britain First was the wrong thing to do," May said, describing the group as a "hateful" organisation that "seeks to spread division".

But she stressed that Britain and the United States have "a long-term special relationship... it is an enduring relationship that is there because its is in both our nations' interests".

Trump's retweets of the small group with no political representation known for its aggressively anti-Muslim stance have drawn condemnation in the United States and in Britain, where there were renewed calls for his planned state visit to be cancelled.

The White House claimed that by retweeting the Islamophobic posts, he had "elevated" the debate about security.

"I think what he's done is elevate the conversation to talk about a real issue and a real threat, and that's extreme violence and extreme terrorism," said press secretary Sarah Sanders.

London Mayor Sadiq Khan, who has himself been involved in a string of Trump Twitter spats, said the president's actions were "a betrayal of the special relationship between our two countries".

'Vile, hate-filled' group

May was the first foreign leader to visit Trump following his inauguration in January, where she offered him a prestigious state visit to Britain including a welcome by Queen Elizabeth II.

But opposition to the invitation has only grown, and Khan said Thursday that it was "increasingly clear that any official visit at all from President Trump to Britain would not be welcomed".

May said: "An invitation for a state visit has been extended and has been accepted. We have yet to set a date."

The videos Trump retweeted, purporting to show assaults by Muslims, were posted by Britain First's deputy leader Jayda Fransen, who has been convicted of a hate crime and faces new charges in a trial starting next month.

Local Government Minister Sajid Javid said Trump had "endorsed the views of a vile, hate-filled racist organisation that hates me and people like me".

Foreign Office minister Alistair Burt added that Trump's tweets were "alarming and despairing", while angry opposition MPs called interior minister Amber Rudd to make an emergency statement to the House of Commons.

Addressing lawmakers, Rudd asked them to "look at the wider picture", saying UK-US intelligence sharing had "undoubtedly saved British lives".

But while she too emphasised the importance of bilateral ties, May rejected Trump's criticism that she was not focused on tackling extremism, following a string of attacks in Britain this year.

- 'Facts do matter' -

Trump's interventions in British politics have strained the trans-Atlantic relationship, particularly infuriating London with his tweets on terrorism in Britain.

In a pointed remark, May said: "I'm not a prolific tweeter myself and that means I don't spend all my time looking at other people's tweets. But when I feel that there should be a response I give it."

Ann Coulter, a right-wing US commentator who is followed by Trump on Twitter and may have inspired his retweets, said that he "has only given as good as he gets".

In a highly unusual step, the Dutch embassy in Washington criticised Trump over one of the videos falsely claiming to show a Muslim migrant beating up a Dutch boy on crutches.

"@realDonaldTrump Facts do matter. The perpetrator of the violent act in this video was born and raised in the Netherlands. He received and completed his sentence under Dutch law," it said.

Meanwhile a British woman with the @TheresaMay Twitter account was inundated with unwanted attention after Trump sent her the scolding tweet intended for the prime minister.

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